Mueller’s day before the cameras. TRANSCRIPT: 5/16/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.

Guests:
Raja Krishnamoorthi; Jamie Raskin; David Cay Johnston Tim O`Brien; Rosa DeLauro
Transcript:

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

 

Well, it was unredacted day a little bit. 

 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, “TRMS”:  Yes.

 

O`DONNELL:  I mean, and really powerfully interesting new information to

put it mildly that was unredacted in that court filing. 

 

MADDOW:  Oh, yes.  I mean, the Flynn stuff about what Flynn cooperated on

and then just like the follow-up rulings from the judge, oh, and by the

way, I want the recordings of the intimidating phone call from the

president`s lawyer when he called you in the middle of the night and told

you not to cooperate, and I want the recording of you talking to the

Russian.  And, oh, by the way, I`m ordering the Justice Department to

publicly release an unredacted Mueller report, right?  Wow. 

 

O`DONNELL:  So, the thing about wanting to hear the recording makes perfect

sense to me because when you read the transcript of the reporting in the

Mueller report as I`m about to do on TV, there are what appear to be edits

in it.  There`s these little ellipses throughout.  So, they seem to be

taking words out for whatever reason and so it makes perfect sense that the

judges want to know, OK, what`s that – I need everything that`s in that,

especially since that call is taken to be in the Mueller report a piece of

the obstruction of justice case. 

 

MADDOW:  That`s right.  And you know, the ellipses when you have a block

quote like that and it`s got ellipses and it`s about what one person in a

conversation was saying, it`s often because they`re taking a recording of a

conversation between two people or whatever.  But that was a recording of a

voice mail. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Right. 

 

MADDOW:  So the ellipses in the edited pieces or whatever you really want

to know what`s in there.  But, apparently, we the public are going to get

the transcript.  The judge is it going to get the recording.  I wouldn`t be

surprised if we ultimately get the recording, too. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And, Rachel, before you go, one little note that struck me that

was part of what was unredacted today.  It says Michael Flynn was subject

to potential interference in his testimony by people connected with the

administration and then Congress. 

 

MADDOW:  And Congress. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Does that mean members of Congress?  Does that mean

congressional staff?  Does that mean Devin Nunes best friend?  What is

that? 

 

That “Congress” word jumped out at me like the most enormous possibility in

there. 

 

MADDOW:  Exactly.  Who connected to Congress, or like – you know, who has

– with congressional reference is contacting Michael Flynn about his

cooperation?  I mean, you know, there`s been some intriguing stuff about

members of Congress in the Manafort prosecution, there was redacted stuff

that seemed to indicate beside with congressional connections may have done

bad stuff, that Manafort got in trouble with.  There`s this reference in

terms of somebody related to Congress having taken part in what appears to

be an obstructive effort in getting Flynn not to cooperate. 

 

I mean, I don`t know, there`s 14 redacted cases that – or 12 of the 14

cases that derive from Mueller`s prosecution that were referred to other

prosecutors are ones we haven`t seen, the possibility that zoom of that has

something to do with people in Congress is mind bending.  I`ve got a

suspects list in my head right now.  We`re going to save that for later. 

 

Thank you, Rachel. 

 

MADDOW:  Thanks, Lawrence. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Well, the Trump trade wars are really hurting the American

farmer.  The American farmer is the biggest loser in the Trump trade war

and so, Donald Trump is just taking taxpayer money and handing it to

American farmers and many of them really need it because they`ve lost so

many billions of dollars in trade with China and other countries. 

 

And the biggest winner, one of two of the biggest winners in the Trump

handouts of money to American farmers turn out to be two Brazilian

criminals who are not allowed to leave the country of Brazil by their own

government.  They also happen to be brothers and they are collecting $62

million in that cash to compensate farmers.  They`re collecting $62 million

of it.  We`re going to have that story for you later in this hour, and the

congresswoman who is fighting exactly that and has introduced legislation

to fight exactly that.  Rosa DeLauro will join us. 

 

But, first, as I was just discussing with Rachel, the situation that has

happened today in federal court because of these new unredacted elements in

the Mueller investigation, Attorney General William Barr is refusing to

provide Congress with an unredacted version of the Mueller report, but

Robert Mueller has apparently decided to unredact some court filings today

that reveal more about the obstruction of justice case against the

president and how that obstruction of justice case includes the president`s

personal lawyer. 

 

Robert Mueller also revealed more today about Trump campaign officials`

interest in WikiLeaks` delivery of stolen e mails from Hillary Clinton`s

campaign chairman. 

 

Today`s revelations are part of the sentencing process for President

Trump`s first national security adviser Michael Flynn who has not yet been

sentenced.  Apparently, now, that the Mueller report has been released, the

special counsel`s office has decided they can remove some of the redactions

in a sentencing memo about Michael Flynn that they filed last December.  In

December, half of a sentence in the middle of page 3 was redacted. 

 

That sentence reads now: The defendant assisted the special counsel`s

office investigation on a range of issues including interactions between

individuals in the presidential transition team and Russia. 

 

And today, the redaction of the rest of that sentence was lifted and we see

it says: The defendant assisted the special counsel`s office investigation

on a range of issues including interactions between individuals in the

presidential transition team and Russia, discussions within the campaign

about WikiLeaks release of e mails and potential efforts to interfere with

the special counsel`s office investigation. 

 

More details were unredacted on page four of that document today.  There is

the redacted version of page four.  Here is the unredacted version of page

four.  The unredacted materials include this line, the defendant recalled

conversations with senior campaign officials after the release of the

Podesta e-mails during which the prospect of reaching out to WikiLeaks was

discussed.

 

On page 52 volume one of the Mueller report details with the Trump campaign

about WikiLeaks.  It includes several redactions because of what the

Mueller report calls an ongoing matter, meaning an ongoing case or

investigation.  That probably in this instance refers to the Roger Stone

case, in which Roger Stone is accused of lying about WikiLeaks. 

 

What Rick Gates told the special counsel`s office is redacted except for

the final sentence saying: Gates recalled candidate Trump being generally

frustrated at the Clinton emails had not been found.

 

On page 54 of volume 1 of the Mueller report, there is more from Rick Gates

about WikiLeaks, including a partially redacted conversation he had with

candidate Trump.  According to Gates, by the late summer of 2016, the Trump

campaign was planning a press strategy, a communications campaign, a

messaging based on the possible release of Clinton emails by which can

WikiLeaks and then you see there is a redaction and the next words are:

while Trump and Gates were driving to LaGuardia airport. 

 

Another redaction, then, quote, shortly after the call, candidate Trump

told Gates that more releases of damaging information would be coming.

 

Those redactions about what was said to candidate Trump about WikiLeaks and

what candidate Trump said to Rick Gates about WikiLeaks are crucial to any

investigation of the presidency by Congress.  That is why the Democrats in

the House Judiciary Committee are demanding the unredacted Mueller report. 

Another newly unredacted portion of the court filing today shows another

element of the obstruction of justice investigation of the president and

this one includes the president`s lawyer. 

 

The newly unredacted sentences in the court filing today about obstruction

of justice say the defendant assisted the special counsel`s office

investigation into potential efforts to interfere with or otherwise

obstruct its investigation, the defendant informed the government of

multiple instances both before and after his guilty plea where he either he

or his attorneys received communications from persons connected to the

administration or Congress that is could have affected both his willingness

to cooperate and the completeness of that cooperation.  The defendant even

provided a voice mail recording of one, such communication income some of

those instances, the special counsel`s office was unaware of the outreach

until being alerted to it by the defendant.

 

That new little unredacted material links up with page 128, 121 of volume

two of the Mueller report which includes what appears to be a partial

transcript of a voice mail that one of Michael Flynn`s lawyers received

after Michael Flynn began cooperating with the prosecutors. 

 

In late November, 2017, Flynn began to cooperate with this office.  On

November 22nd, 2017, Flynn withdrew from a joint defense agreement he had

with the president.  Flynn`s counsel told the president`s personal counsel

and counsel for the White House that is Flynn could no longer have

confidential communications with the White House or the president. 

 

Later that night, the president`s personal counsel left a voice mail for

Flynn`s counsel that said, I understand your situation but let me see if I

can state it in starker terms.  It wouldn`t surprise me if you`ve gone on

to make a deal with the government, if there`s information that implicates

the president, then we`ve got a national security issue, so you know, we

need some kind of heads-up.  Just for the sake of protecting all our

interests if we can, remember what we`ve always said about the president

and his feelings toward Flynn, and that still remains. 

 

On November 23rd, 2017, Flynn`s attorneys returned the call from the

president`s personal counsel to acknowledge repeat of the voice mail. 

Flynn`s attorneys reiterated that they were no longer in a position to

share information under any sort of privilege.  According to Flynn`s

attorneys, the president`s personal counsel was indignant and vocal in his

disagreement. 

 

The president`s personal counsel said that he interpreted what they said to

him as a reflection of Flynn`s hostility towards the president and that he

planned to inform his client of that interpretation.  Flynn`s attorneys

understood that statement to be an attempt to make them reconsider their

position because the president`s personal counsel believed that Flynn would

be disturbed to know that such a message would be conveyed to the

president. 

 

A footnote to that passage in the Mueller report says, because of

attorney/client privilege issues, we did not seek to interview the

president`s personal counsel about the extent to which he discussed his

statements to Flynn`s attorneys with the president.  That section of the

Mueller report does not identify the president`s personal counsel by name

but at that time, Washington attorney John Dowd was acting as the

president`s personal counsel before he quit because as John Dowd told Bob

Woodward in Bob Woodward`s bestselling book “Fear,” John Dowd believed that

his client, the president of the United States, was, quote, an f-ing liar. 

 

Leading off our discussion tonight are Mimi Rocah, former federal

prosecutor and MSNBC legal contributor, and Walter Dellinger, he`s a former

assistant attorney general and the head of the Office of Legal Counsel

under President Clinton.  He`s also acting solicitor general in the Clinton

administration. 

 

And, Walter, I`d like to start with you tonight.  You wrote an op-ed piece

in the “Washington Post” saying that Congress doesn`t need the unredacted

Mueller report at this stage.  They have enough to proceed to impeachment

if that`s what they`re going to do. 

 

What does tonight`s information add to that? 

 

WALTER DELLINGER, FORMER ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL:  Well, what tonight`s

information showed is that we`re just learning more and more about the

massive efforts to obstruct justice on the part of the president.  It`s not

that the unredacted materials wouldn`t be useful.  It`s not that the

Congress isn`t fully entitled to them.  They certainly are. 

 

It`s just the emphasis on seeking out the redacted materials obscures the

fact we have massive bases for finding that the president obstructed

justice in the worst of high crimes and misdemeanors in multiple ways and

what Attorney General Barr did has obscured that, the facts that led more

than 900 former federal prosecutors to say that these are indictable

offenses. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Mimi Rocah, I want to get your reaction to this voice mail from

John Dowd.  Again, it doesn`t identify John Dowd in particular but John

Dowd was the president`s personal attorney at the time and when attorneys

are communicating, it`s very clear who they would be communicating with

this had situation. 

 

When Michael Flynn`s lawyers tell John Dowd, we can no longer participate

in a joint defense agreement, they say that John Dowd was indignant and

vocal in his disagreement.  He`s disagreeing with Michael Flynn`s lawyers

saying, yes you can, you can still tell me everything. 

 

MIMI ROCAH, MSNBC LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR:  Right.  I mean, he`s wrong as a

matter of law when he says that because once there is no longer a joint

defense agreement, which happens automatically when someone is cooperating

which by this point they well knew that Flynn was cooperating, once the

joint defense agreement goes away, there`s no basis for him to be sharing -

- for Flynn`s lawyer to be sharing information anymore with Trump`s lawyer. 

 

I mean, it`s not only that he can`t.  He shouldn`t be, right?  Because now

we have attorney/client privilege basically in effect again.  That`s how it

sort of comes back to cloak the communications. 

 

So, I mean, this was sounds to me like he didn`t like the answer he was

getting because he didn`t like the fact that Flynn was cooperating.  That`s

what he was – that`s what Dowd or whoever it was who was communicating was

getting angry at, right?  It was the fact that Flynn was actually

cooperating.  And to get angry at a witness for cooperating is trying to

dissuade them from cooperating.  So, that is an obstructive act in my mind. 

 

Now, it`s very interesting as you pointed out.  I mean, you immediately

think why is this not yet another obstructive act that Trump should be

responsible for.  Let`s put the lawyer`s awful conduct aside for a second. 

And it just seems that Mueller wasn`t able to get to the bottom of was this

is something that was directed by Trump, did he have discussions with Trump

about doing this when he communicated it to Flynn`s counsel. 

 

I mean, I think that we can all assume that it was something that Trump

understood was happening even if it wasn`t explicit but he wasn`t able to

get the facts that you see Mueller have elsewhere so detailed in the

report. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Walter Dellinger, this conversation, the voice mail and the

conversation from John Dowd from the president`s personal lawyer strike me

as a disbarable material for an attorney.  It appears to be the special

counsel reported it in the context of the obstruction of justice mosaic

that he assembled involving the president and now the president`s lawyer. 

 

But what do you make of Robert Mueller`s decision not to attempt to

interview the president`s personal lawyer on the grounds of attorney/client

privilege which, of course, does not extend to violations of law by the

attorney? 

 

DELLINGER:  Right.  I think that`s an instance one of many in which Mueller

has leaned over backwards to be fair to the president and his team.  But

the other large reason I think he did not, Lawrence, is that look at what

we already know that the president himself had done.  We have multiple

senior officials who testified under pain of false statement that the

president ordered the firing of Mueller, that he ordered the White House

counsel to leave a false memorandum to the file denying that.  That he

tried to get the attorney general to unrecuse and to preclude the

investigation from going into the 2016 campaign. 

 

All of that the president was personally involved in and should have

spawned a reaction as soon as the Mueller report was released that this is

a high crimes and misdemeanors of the highest order. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Mimi, the Mueller report we`ve been concentrating so much on

volume two because that`s where all the obstruction of justice framing is,

but this filing in court today sent us back to volume one and back to

WikiLeaks.  And there you see these redacted paragraphs with Rick Gates who

is in a car going to LaGuardia airport with candidate Donald Trump and they

are talking about WikiLeaks and that is almost entirely redacted. 

 

ROCAH:  Yes.  There`s no questions that what this highlights I think these

unredacted redactions tonight that we don`t know the full extent even now,

even sitting here of Trump and the – Trump personally and his campaign but

him personally, the extent of his involvement in – you know, the contacts

with Russia and trying to get information about Hillary Clinton`s e mails. 

Whether or not they constitute a crime that they are behavior that we would

all be quite – that would be relevant to impeachment hearings.  We just

don`t know the full extent of it yet. 

 

That`s part of why we need this to be a full unredacted report.  But it

reminds us that we`re so caught up in the legal battles that are going on

every day because they`re compelling and they`re important.  But the

substance of this report and what we still don`t even know yet is just,

it`s mind blowing how corrupt his behavior was both in with respect to

Russia and with respect to obstruction.  We need to get the focus back on

that conduct. 

 

O`DONNELL:  We`re going to have to take a break here.  Walter Dellinger and

Mimi Rocah, thank you both very much for starting us off tonight on this

new legal material.  Very much appreciate it.  Thank you. 

 

DELLINGER:  You`re welcome, Lawrence. 

 

O`DONNELL:  When we come back, what will Congress do about the president? 

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi and Congressman Jamie Raskin will join us

next.

 

And later, the president releases his annual financial disclosure forms

which tell us absolutely nothing about his real financial condition, but we

did discover some very interesting things about the third Mrs. Donald Trump

in the financial disclosure forms.  That`s coming up. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL:  Attorney General Barr says it`s Bob`s call.  He told “The Wall

Street Journal” this about Robert Mueller testifying to the House Judiciary

Committee.  It`s Bob`s call whether he wants to testify. 

 

Well, that surprised Chairman Jerry Nadler. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY):  Attorney General Barr says he has no objection

to Mueller appearing.  We`ve been negotiating with the Department of

Justice and they simply are dragging their feet at fixing a date.  So we`ll

continue trying to fix a date.  If it goes too long, we`ll have to consider

a subpoena. 

 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  So, at this point you think – 

 

NADLER:  Right now, they`re saying, fix a date. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Former Attorney General Eric Holder told NBC Congress already

has the information it needs for impeachment. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL:  There are grounds for impeachment.  I said,

if you look at the second part of the Mueller report, there`s no question

that obstruction of justice does exist in the findings that Bob Mueller

reported.  And in painstaking detail and that in and of itself would be the

basis for impeachment. 

 

I think the House needs to gather evidence, need to hear from Bob Mueller. 

They need to get the entirety of the report and then make a reasoned

decision whether or not they`re going to go forward with the impeachment

process. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Joining us now, two Democratic members of Congress who

represent the big three – the big three investigative committees in the

House of Representatives.  Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois is a

member of the House Oversight Committee and the House Intelligence

Committee.  And Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland is a member of the

House Oversight Committee and the House Judiciary Committee. 

 

Thank you very much for joining us tonight. 

 

You – I have to assume are you feeling increasing pressure about the issue

of impeachment.  Congressman, you just heard the former attorney general,

you just heard in our first segment tonight, Walter Dellinger, former

Justice Department official himself, his op-ed piece today in the

“Washington Post” saying the Judiciary Committee already has more than

enough for impeachment. 

 

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD):  Yes, it`s like water behind a dam.  The pressure

is just building every day for impeachment.  And you know, we got more

evidence today leaked out from the redacted portions of the report which

confirm everybody`s sense that there was presidential obstruction of

justice.  We knew of 10 or 11 episodes of it that were invoked in the

unredacted portions by special counsel Mueller.  Now we know about you

know, more evidence of it coming from Michael Flynn. 

 

It just seems overwhelming.  You know, I think there were more than 800

federal prosecutors, that his former colleagues of the attorney general,

who came out and said when they read the redacted version of the report,

they are convinced that this would be brought as an obstruction of justice

prosecution and an indictment in federal court against anybody other than

the president and the special counsel says out of deference to the rule

that the DOJ doesn`t indict the president, we`ll kick it over to the House

of Representatives. 

 

So what is an impeachment, an impeachment is an indict by the House of

Representatives that goes over to the Senate and then there`s a trial over

there.  So, I think the pressure is building.  You know, we understand that

it`s not an up or down vote.  A lot of people say are you for or against

impeachment.  That`s not what it`s about it. 

 

The question is: are you for an impeachment inquiry?  Do you think there`s

enough evidence to suggest there were high crimes and misdemeanors against

the United States.  And there were three articles in the Nixon articles of

impeachment.  OK? 

 

So, one of them was – the first was obstruction of justice.  The second

was abuse of power and the third was contempt of Congress.  Sound familiar? 

 

O`DONNELL:  Congressman Krishnamoorthi, we see in the new unredacted

elements of the court filings today the potential for what`s actually in

the Mueller report in what is still redacted.  We see references to Rick

Gates, Donald Trump in a car on the way to LaGuardia airport, they are

talking about WikiLeaks.  We know that from the beginning of the paragraph

and from the little hints at the end of the paragraph but we don`t know

what`s in the middle. 

 

And that it`s what your chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Congressman

Schiff, is trying to obtain.  That speaks directly to the interests of the

Intelligence Committee. 

 

REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL):  Absolutely. 

 

In a bipartisan request with Chairman Schiff and Ranking Member Devin

Nunes, they asked for the counterintelligence findings that we`re

statutorily obligated to receive from the special counsel`s office and the

Department of Justice.  We haven`t seen them yet. 

 

O`DONNELL:  I want to stop you there for a second to underline this for the

audience.  Your committee, the Intelligence Committee, operates under

different rules from the rest of the committee and there are actually

provisions made specifically for your committee to receive some of the

material that is specifically redacted in the Mueller report currently.

 

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  Correct. 

 

Just for your viewers background, there was actually members of the FBI who

were embedded in the special counsel`s office who were collecting

counterintelligence information, and that was collected in presumably some

kind of repository.  We are obligated to receive that by statute. 

 

And so, that`s what we`re in bipartisan way trying to attempt to receive

right now.  The reason is very plain.  Even if the 140 plus contacts

between Trump and Russian officials did not possibly amount to criminal

conspiracy, they may have involved incredibly embarrassing information,

information that the Russians could use to manipulate current Trump

officials to endanger national security. 

 

Just one other observation you mentioned that perhaps someone connected to

Congress may have obstructed the probe or influence the probe.  I can tell

you tonight, it wasn`t me.  I don`t think it was Jamie either. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Yes, and that was for me one of the stunning things we learned

today by unredacting some of these lines in the filing is that the special

counsel is saying that people close to the president, people close to the

administration, and people close to Congress including possibly members of

Congress.

 

Congressman Raskin, what was your reaction to that? 

 

RASKIN:  Well, first of all, I appreciate being absolved of that particular

offense by my colleague. 

 

No, it`s alarming but to me it`s not surprising because in fact, we know

that there are key members of the Republican caucus who have been acting in

very close coordination with the White House from the beginning.  The whole

phony deep state conspiracy theory where they decided to go after Peter

Strzok and Lisa Page is something that was closely coordinated between the

White House and the Republicans in Congress.  They`re trying to revive it

now.  They say let`s get back to the real business of Congress which is

going after Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, you know, avoid all of the

corruption, avoid all of the obstruction, avoid the emoluments clause,

let`s talk about the deep state conspiracy theory.

 

And they`re also the ones who`ve been advancing this extreme absolutist

interpretation of the Constitution which is the unitary executive theory,

the president can do whatever he wants with respect to the executive

branch.  He can fire people, he can end criminal investigations.  I mean,

ultimately, that`s where their argument is going even if all of this is

true, it could not be obstruction of justice. 

 

That`s why Attorney General Barr was hired because he wrote this 18-page

single space memo which said the president literally cannot be found guilty

of obstructing justice because he sits atop the law enforcement machinery

like a king.

 

And now, our colleagues in Congress, unfortunately, are going along with

that on the Republican side.  So they`re forcing a very dramatic

constitutional confrontation about the powers of Congress, the Article I

branch, the lawmaking branch which has the political sovereignty of the

people versus the power of the president.

 

And we say he`s got one core job which is to take care of the laws that

they`re faithfully executed, not flouted, not circumvented, and not

violated.  And if you trample the rule of law, we`ve got the power to

impeach you.  You don`t have the power to impeach us.

 

O`DONNELL:  Congressman Krishnamoorthi, quickly before we go.  Is your

Intelligence Committee going to get testimony from Michael Flynn to find

out who were those people close to Congress or in Congress who tried to

influence him?

 

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  Good question.  I don`t know that our committee has

actually taken up this matter yet.  Obviously, Chairman Schiff is probably

reviewing his options right now and will then take appropriate measures.

 

But I think this all the more supports the conclusion that a lot of us have

had for several days, if not weeks at this point, which is we need the full

unredacted report, we need all the underlying documents, and we need Mr.

Mueller to testify on Capitol Hill.

 

No filters.  No more filters.  We need to hear directly from Mr. Mueller.

 

O`DONNELL:  Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi and Congressman Jamie Raskin,

thank you both for joining us tonight.  We really appreciate that.

 

RASKIN:  Thanks for having us.

 

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  Thank you.

 

O`DONNELL:  And when we come back, President Trump`s new financial

disclosure form doesn`t tell us very much about his income but it tells us

everything about Melania Trump`s income and a very interesting real estate

asset that Melania Trump has.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL:  As a federal elected official, President Trump is required to

file a financial disclosure form.  He did that today but it doesn`t really

tell us what we need to know about Donald Trump`s income or his wealth or

his debts.

 

Donald Trump could have debts greater than his assets or his income or he

could be taking home much more money as president of the United States than

he was as a private citizen.  He could have debts to foreign countries.  We

don`t know.

 

The financial disclosure forms only show approximations of how much total

cash, total revenue Donald Trump`s businesses took in.  They do not show

how much those businesses had to then pay out in expenses and whether those

businesses had any profits at all, that Donald Trump was able to take home

for himself.

 

Only Donald Trump`s tax returns would tell the truth.  Unless, of course,

Donald Trump is filing false tax returns.

 

The only thing that is starkly clear in the Trump financial disclosure form

is that Donald Trump`s third wife Melania is completely financially

dependent on him.  The disclosure form shows that she has an income of zero

but that she does own her own apartment in New York City.

 

For more of the gems in the Trump financial disclosure form, we are very

lucky tonight to have two experts in Trump finances.  They have both

written books about Trump finances.  David Kay Johnston won his Pulitzer

Prize for tax reporting at “The New York Times” and is exactly who we want

to hear from tonight on the Trump financial disclosure form.

 

And Tim O`Brien`s book about Donald Trump`s finances got Tim O`Brien sued

by Donald Trump, a lawsuit that Donald Trump lost but not before Tim

O`Brien through the subpoena power of that lawsuit was allowed to see

Donald Trump`s tax returns, the only reporter who has ever held one of

those big things in his hands.

 

After this break, David Cay Johnston and Tim O`Brien will join us.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL:  There are only two real numbers about Donald Trump`s actual

income in the financial disclosure forms that he filed today and those are

his two pensions.  He receives a pension from the Screen Actors Guild of

$90,776 a year and he receives a pension from the American Federation of

Television and Radio Artists of $8,724 a year.  Everything else about

Donald Trump`s finances comes down to guesswork.

 

We are now joined by two of the best-educated guessers about Donald Trump`s

finances.  David Kay Johnston is the founder of dcreport.org and the author

of “It`s Even Worse Than You Think, What the Trump Administration is Doing

to America.  And Tim O`Brien is the executive editor of “Bloomberg Opinion”

and an MSNBC contributor.  He has reported on Donald Trump for decades and

was sued by Donald Trump and won.

 

And Tim, before that case was over, you got to look at several years of

Trump tax returns.  The judge then limited, swore you all to no comment. 

You can make no public comment about what`s in there.  But having seen

Trump`s tax returns, having seen this financial disclosure form, what`s the

difference?

 

TIM O`BRIEN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, BLOOMBERG OPINION:  Well, the difference

is hundreds of millions of dollars.  That financial disclosure form is what

his businesses are making.  He`s quite happy to sort of go along with the

charade that that`s his income.

 

O`DONNELL:  But we don`t even know profit though.

 

O`BRIEN:  We don`t know.  We don`t know.

 

O`DONNELL:  (CROSSTALK) much money.  We don`t know what that means.

 

O`BRIEN:  And we know from good recent reporting, for example, “The

Washington Oost” that Doral which is his golf course in Miami and one of

his biggest holdings has been sucking wind for a couple of years.  We know

from a recent report in “Bloomberg News” that Trump Tower is down on its

heels.

 

The common bond between both of those properties is they have the Trump

brand in them and people are starting to get turned off by that.  I think

the larger thing to think about in terms of all of this is if Trump is

hurting financially and he went into the presidency thinking it was going

to help him financially, it only makes him more vulnerable to outside

financial influences.

 

And I think this comes back to the whole confrontation between the Congress

and the White House right now.  When Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell are

saying the Mueller report is over, let`s move on, we don`t need to examine

this again, the Congress is looking at the kinds of things buried in that

financial disclosure report.

 

Where is Trump`s money hidden and what sources has he used to finance his

operations?  And that goes way beyond Mueller`s mandate and that`s still a

very fresh level of inquiry and it gets back on the things that haunted

this White House since Trump first became president which is financial

conflicts of interest.

 

O`DONNELL:  David Kay Johnston, you got your hands on one page, I guess it

was, as I recall.

 

DAVID KAY JOHNSTON:  Two pages.

 

O`DONNELL:  The first page of one year of Trump tax returns that shows the

basic summary data.  It doesn`t show all the sourcing and all of that but

very, very useful to see.  And much more useful to see from my experience

than what I was able to find in the financial disclosure forms.  What did

you find in the financial disclosure form?

 

JOHNSTON:  Well, we should keep in mind that almost four years ago, Donald

put out a statement saying that the financial disclosure form required a

president was not designed for a man of Mr. Trump`s great wealth.

 

O`DONNELL:  Yes.

 

JOHNSTON:  Absolutely right.  Absolutely right.  One of the things we don`t

know is of the more than $300 million of debts, what are the terms of those

debts?

 

Are there covenants that he has to keep up or he could have balloon

payments put upon him?  Who actually owns those debts and can call them in? 

And if he`s paying on average five percent on the debts that he has and

he`s making five percent of the total revenue, that means that he`s got

about $5 million to $7 million a year to play with.

 

And given Donald Trump`s lifestyle, that may not be enough.  He may be

under serious financial pressure.  We really need to have a much better

understanding of who has leverage over him, what he is dependent on and we

need to take a good hard look at the revenues at the Trump Washington Hotel

right down the street from the White House.

 

O`DONNELL:  Tim, David mentioned lifestyle.  I`m glad he did because the

fact of the matter is Donald Trump`s lifestyle has never been cheaper to

maintain.  He`s no longer paying for the jet fuel.  It`s Air Force One.

 

O`BRIEN:  Free rent.

 

O`DONNELL:  Right.  And he`s getting actually big infusions of revenue

because the Secret Service has to rent space in Trump Tower in Manhattan,

space that no one else wants to rent by the way, and a variety of other

things.  The Secret Service spends a lot of money on golf cart rentals at

his places.  And so his actual – his personal cost of living has probably

dropped dramatically in the White House.

 

O`BRIEN:  It has.  And you know, he`s actually been an expert at living off

the till even before he got to the White House.  His father kept him afloat

during years when he was on the verge of personal bankruptcy.  When he ran

a public company, the public company paid for his jet and gave him other

perks that he was able to take advantage of.  And he`s brought that into

the White House.

 

I think, again, regardless of how low his cost of living is, which I think

right now is the lowest it`s probably ever been, he remains this obscure

piggy bank that no one really has a handle on.  David talked about the

hotel in Washington.  That remains one of the biggest sources of financial

conflicts for him.

 

O`DONNELL:  And David, going forward, the House Ways and Means Committee,

they`ve got their response to their subpoena tomorrow.  We know that Trump

administration is not going to hand over those tax returns.  They`re going

to continue to violate that law.

 

What do you see as the final legal route on getting those tax returns for

the House Ways and Means Committee?

 

JOHNSTON:  Well, for starters, the New York State law that I think Governor

Cuomo will sign shortly will be very important to getting at this.

 

O`DONNELL:  Because that law says that New York State will provide to –

basically, it`s a mirror of the federal law, they`ll provide to the

chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee the state tax returns and

they basically reveal the basic data that`s in a federal tax return.

 

JOHNSTON:  That`s right.  And it`s important that Cuomo sign that bill when

it reaches his desk and doesn`t come up with some excuse not to do so.  If

we`re going to learn what we need to know about who has leverage over

Trump, who is he obligated to.

 

O`DONNELL:  Well, the governor says he`s going to sign that.  David Cay

Johnston, Tim O`Brien, thank you both for joining us tonight.

 

And when we come back, the Trump bailout for American farmers isn`t all

going to American farmers.  Two criminals in Brazil have taken $62 million

of the money that Donald Trump has been handing out to the farmers who have

been losing in his trade war.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL:  American farmers continue to be the biggest losers in the Trump

trade wars.  The United States is the world`s largest exporter of

agricultural products but China and other countries that the president has

gone to war with have cut their purchases of American agricultural exports.

 

And American farmers are now in such a financial depression that President

Trump has now promised to simply hand American farmers $15 billion of your

taxpayer money instead of the money that those farmers could be earning and

would be earning in the export market that Donald Trump has now ruined.

 

The very biggest winners in the federal government`s handouts to farmers

that the Trump administration has already delivered at taxpayer expense are

not all Americans.  Two of them are Brazilian.  They are criminals living

in Brazil who own massive agricultural companies in the United States.

 

“The New York Daily News” is reporting the Trump administration has forked

over more than $62 million in taxpayer cash that was supposed to be

earmarked for struggling American farmers to a massive meatpacking company

owned by a couple of corrupt Brazilian brothers.

 

That Brazilian company, JBSSA, is currently the largest meatpacker in the

world.  It`s owned by two brothers, Joesley and Wesley Batista, who have

both spent time in Brazilian jail for bribing elected officials and are

currently not allowed to leave the country of Brazil.

 

Last year, “Reuters” reported that the company owned by the two brothers is

being investigated by the Justice Department for violations of the Foreign

Corrupt Practices Act.  And even though the company employs Americans

through its Colorado-based subsidiary, it does not appear to be struggling

as a result of the trade war.  In fact, it may be benefitting greatly from

the trade war.

 

According to “The Daily News,” the company`s exports to China ballooned to

more than 24 percent in 2018, compared to less than 21 percent the previous

year.  Democratic Connecticut Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro has introduced a

bill to keep foreign-owned companies from receiving any of the Trump trade

war bailout money.  She told “The Daily News,” “it is clear the president

is not the least bit knowledgeable about trade policy or aware of the chaos

his failed approach has caused.”

 

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro will join us next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL:  Joining our discussion now, Democratic Congresswoman Rosa

DeLauro of Connecticut.  Congresswoman, you saw this coming before “The

Daily News” ever wrote a story about two Brazilian criminals getting $62

million from American taxpayers for bailout money for American farmers. 

You introduced a bill to prevent exactly this.

 

REP. ROSA DELAURO (D-CT):  That`s right.  And you know, it really is

outrageous.  We believed that the president said that this was a trade aid

package that was going to help American businesses, American farmers.  And

lo and behold, we`re looking at $62 million-plus that is going to two very

corrupt brothers who have admitted manipulating the markets, who have

admitted that they have bribed federal food inspectors and government

officials.

 

They have served jail time.  As you pointed out, they are subjected of

concern at the Department of Justice for Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. 

And, by the way, I might add that in their first quarter, they made $273

million.  They do not need to be bailed out.

 

It is American businesses, American farmers who are getting the short end

of this stick.  They are hurting, not JBS and the Batista brothers.

 

O`DONNELL:  And there is not a farmer out there who wants to be getting

this bailout money, they want to be selling their soybeans and their other

products on the world market.

 

DELAURO:  That`s right.  They are indeed.  That`s – the tremendous pride

that they have in selling the product and what we have here is a failed

trade policy.

 

And we all know that we have to have a different approach on a bipartisan

basis.  We believe we need a different approach to China.  But the

president is really almost willfully ignorant about trade policy and

understanding the nuances of it.

 

And what`s happened, because of his trade policy and the failed policy that

the collateral damage are American farmers and American businesses.  What

we need to do is to be working with our allies.

 

If you – you can be tough on China and look at industrial espionage and

the subsidies that they provide, the prison camps that they`re engaged in,

but we also need to be working with our allies in taking on China.  Taking

a look at workers` rights and human rights and some of these other efforts,

which are off the table.

 

But this view that you can create policy through a tweet and that because

of some petulance or because you are annoyed is not a trade policy that

will benefit American businesses and American farmers and that is

outrageous.  And we need to provide what we do in the legislation to say no

to foreign companies and buy from American companies and American farmers.

 

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, thank you

very much for joining us tonight.  Really appreciate it.

 

DELAURO:  Thank you.

 

O`DONELL:  Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro gets “Tonight`s Last Word.”  “The

11th Hour” with Brian Williams starts now.

 

END   

 

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