Judge rejects Trump’s request. TRANSCRIPT: 5/22/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
And I was so glad you had Senator Schumer on tonight, because I thought he
was the person who really made the point of what was going on in that stunt
at the White House today. It was very simply that the president had no
infrastructure plan on the day that he was supposed to have an
infrastructure plan for that meeting.
So, what was he going to do instead? Oh, I know, I`ll go out and do this
nutty press conference. It wasn`t even just a press conference but just
the announcement in the Rose Garden that the government will now be shut
down. President is shutting down. He`s on strike because they`re
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, “TRMS”: This is the equivalent of like, getting
caught breaking curfew or like not making your bed or doing something else
bad, so you walk into the kitchen, grab the silverware drawer and shake it
over your head upside down. I`m creating a new crisis.
I mean, that today was absolutely nuts today. I think senator – I give
Senator Schumer credit for just saying what happened in the White House
would make your jaw drop trying to make us all not lose our sense of wonder
about how weird this all is.
O`DONNELL: Yes, and the president I guess forgot that he has a very, very
big legislative ask coming up of Nancy Pelosi in the House of
Representatives. And that is his renegotiated version of NAFTA which is
really not even NAFTA 2.0, it`s like NAFTA 1.1. And the House of
Representatives is not friendly toward it already. And so, I`m not sure
what`s in it for Nancy Pelosi to fast-track the president`s new NAFTA
agreement through the House of Representatives.
MADDOW: But also like – think about this I mean, he`s the “Art of the
Deal”, right? Think about the negotiating position he`s taking here, I`m
not going to do anything with you people. I`m not going to do any work as
president. We`re not going to do any legislation, nothing, unless you drop
all your investigations into me.
What does he think is going to happen in response to that? Does he think
even the Republicans will say, hey, Democrats you better drop your
investigations? The president says the country will get it if you don`t.
I mean, what does he expect to be the response to this? I mean, the only
thing he`s done is if there was ever any inclination by anyone to drop an
investigation into him they now can`t because he told them they needed to
and it would be giving into this weird threat to the country if they went
along with it.
I mean, I don`t – I don`t know if this was the president doing this on his
own. I don`t know if there`s some mad genius behind this at the White
House who thinks this will end well. But this was – this is something
that he will lose and I can`t imagine this is going to help his temperament
O`DONNELL: Rachel, I hate to break it to you. There`s no mad genius.
MADDOW: Oh. I had this idea.
O`DONNELL: Uh-uh, nope, not even in the movie version. Ain`t going to be
a mad genius. Uh-uh, no.
MADDOW: If we could write a mad genius, it might make for a better movie,
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
Well, the president was crushed today, just crushed by another federal
judge in the president`s attempt to block House of Representative subpoenas
for his financial records at Deutsche Bank that could reveal Donald Trump`s
financial dependence on Russian oligarchs close to Vladimir Putin. That
happened on the same day that the treasury secretary gave false testimony
to a House committee about his illegal participation in a scheme directed
by the president to block the Internal Revenue Service from following the
law and handing over the president`s tax returns to the House Ways and
Means Committee chairman as the law clearly requires.
Now, that alone that, moment alone would be the biggest and most shocking
news item on most other news days of most other presidencies. But we won`t
get to that. We won`t get to the treasury secretary not telling the truth
in a House hearing until the end of this hour.
And when we do, we will be joined by an expert on that subject who I feel
very lucky to have with us tonight, an attorney who served over 20 years in
the chief counsel`s office at the Internal Revenue Service, someone who
knows much more about that subject than I do. There is no doubt that the
some day soon, a federal judge is going to order the treasury secretary and
director of the IRS to hand over Donald Trump`s tax returns to the chairman
of the Ways and Means Committee and the judge who issues that order will no
doubt, be echoing and possibly even specifically citing the order issued by
a federal judge in New York City today who ordered Deutsche Bank to comply
with a House subpoena for the Trump records.
In his opinion today that, judge referred specifically to the judge`s
opinion on Monday that was the first to order compliance with a House
subpoena for Trump financial records from an accounting firm. Federal
judges are now Donald Trump`s worst enemies because they are following the
law, and because they don`t play Trump games. Federal courtrooms do not
allow the kinds of silly statements that Donald Trump makes at his rallies
or the silly stunts that he pulls in the White House like the stunts that
he pulled today in the White House.
President Trump actually scheduled a ridiculous stunt in the White House
today so that he could use it as the basis for an even more ridiculous
stunt minutes later in the White House Rose Garden. And the only thing
that will be remembered from his stunt upon a stunt is that the president
of the United States actually said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don`t do cover-ups.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: No president who did not do cover-ups ever said “I don`t do
cover-ups”. The closest Richard Nixon came to that was “I am not a crook,”
and Richard Nixon was forced to resign the presidency because he did cover-
ups. But he was never buffoonish enough to say “I don`t do cover-ups”.
And President Trump said that today because this morning, the speaker of
the House said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): We do believe that it`s important for – to
follow the facts. We believe that no one is above the law and clearly the
president of the United States. And we believe that the president of the
United States is engaged in a cover-up, in a cover-up. And that was the
nature of the meeting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Now, as everyone in politics knows, you should never adopt the
language of the opposition, especially when it is an accusation against you
and extra especially when it is a criminal accusation against you like
cover-up. Any half competent White House staff would have strongly advised
the president not to use the word “cover-up” today or ever.
The president was in the Rose Garden to explain to reporters why he was not
in the cabinet room where he was scheduled to be at that moment in a
meeting with the Democratic leadership of the House and the Senate to talk
about possible infrastructure legislation. But the president said he was
incapable of doing his job once he heard that Nancy Pelosi had actually
used the word cover-up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Instead of walking in happily into a meeting, I walk into look at
people that had just said that I was doing a cover-up. I don`t do cover-
ups. You people know that probably better than anybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Oh, and that little tag is one of his pathological tells. You
people know that probably better than anybody. He constantly says that to
the White House press corps, knowing that they are all you locked into a
tradition of politeness that prevents them from screaming back at him, no,
we don`t know the that the better than anybody. Most of us have written
stories in which you are reported to be engaged in a cover-up.
It is an important part of the Trump public technique when he throws in
that line, you people probably know that better than anybody and it is met
with silence. That silence is important because Donald Trump knows that in
the TV audience`s mind, he thinks anyway, that that silence affirms that
those people really do know better than anybody that what he just said is
Donald Trump uses the White House press corps as a prop as he did today and
he used the Democratic congressional leadership as a prop once again today
and is now telling America that no dangerous bridge will be repaired, not
one penny of infrastructure improvement will occur in the United States of
America as long as the president of the United States is being
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I walked into the room, and I told Senator Schumer, Speaker Pelosi,
I want to do infrastructure. I want to do it more than you want to do it.
I`d be already good at that. That`s what I do.
But you know what? You can`t do it under these circumstances. So get
these phony investigations over with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That statement alone by any other president would be an
impeachable offense. To say “I will not perform my constitutional duty as
long as I`m being investigated” would be in and of itself an article of
impeachment against any other president, but this Congress has a Republican
Senate which will abide any violation of Donald Trump`s oath of office and
has already abided many of them and the Democratic House is now apparently
lost on what impeachable offense actually means. They all green even the
speaker that the president has committed impeachable offenses but they do
not agree that the president should be impeached for impeachable offenses.
And they have yet to explain that. This is the first time in history that
a party in the House of Representatives has had such a tortured
relationship to the issue of impeachment, but the courts are marching on
against the president in ways that are possibly almost as devastating as
The funny thing about the word impeachment, compared to the word cover-up,
is that President Trump has finally found a word that he thinks a president
just should not say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: All of a sudden, I hear last night, they`re going to have a meeting
right before this meeting to talk about the “I” word. The “I” word. Can
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: What I could not imagine is that Donald Trump would find a word
that he is afraid to say in public.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You know they say confidential sources. Do you ever notice they
never write the names of people anymore? Everything is a source says.
There is no source.
The person doesn`t exist. The person`s not alive. It`s bull shit, OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: From the start, the only possibility for infrastructure has
been than Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer and Donald Trump would build a
road to nowhere because the Democrats and the Trump party will never agree
on infrastructure legislation. Some Democrats would be willing to pay for
infrastructure spending with a gasoline tax or cuts to defense spending.
And Republicans would not agree to pay for infrastructure spending at all,
period, zero. Republicans would not support infrastructure spending. They
would simply support giant tax breaks for companies engaged in very loosely
defined infrastructure projects.
So, there has never been even a 1 percent of a possibility, chance of an
agreement on infrastructure legislation and Democrats knew that but they
did not want to appear to be unwilling to negotiate with President Trump.
And so, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have repeatedly allowed for the
possibility of negotiations. In their last discussion with the president,
they asked the president to present them with proposals for how to pay for
infrastructure spending. That was the point of today`s meeting.
And in a normal White House, president would have walked into the room with
the budget director, with perhaps the treasury secretary and perhaps the
transportation secretary and they would lay out infrastructure options with
different price tags and different ways of paying for those projects, and
there would be a give and take at the table in the cabinet room, the kind
of meeting I saw many times in that room when I was a Senate staffer.
And it might take months, but in that room, using those puzzle parts, an
agreement would eventually emerge. That is the adult job of the
presidency. That is the job Donald Trump has never done and will never do.
And said today he will not do.
And so, it became another stunt day at the White House with the president
who is now on record as being the first president in history to go on
strike – the president who is going to stay on strike as long as he`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: So I`ve said from the beginning, right from the beginning, that you
probably can`t go down two tracks. You can go down did the investigation
track and you can go down the investment track or the track of let`s get
things done for the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: We have my two favorite people to discuss stunt day at the
White House tonight. Leading off our discussion, Eugene Robinson,
associate editor and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the “Washington
Post”. He`s an MSNBC political analyst.
And Joy Reid, MSNBC national correspondent and host of “A.M. JOY”. She`s
the author of the forthcoming book which I have read and loved, “The Man
Who Sold America.”
Joy, I say this because this is one of those subjects, stunt day, that
requires a mix of alertness and sensitivity to the policy and to the
workings of the White House the way government is supposed to work.
JOY REID, MSNBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
O`DONNELL: And I think you better bring a sense of humor. I think you had
to get through it. You have to bring a sense of humor to it.
So he piles the stunt on top of the stunt and he goes on strike.
REID: You know, Lawrence, thank you so much for doing that. I apologize
for cackling in the background as you were doing it. I couldn`t stop
myself from laughing.
I mean, it`s hilarious. But the reality is this guy, his entire public
career is predicated on tricking bank B into believing he had money even
though he had built bank A and getting them to fund casino C even though
casinos A and B had gone bankrupt. And then having the show “The
Apprentice” after he was already a business failure, right?
And so, now, the Democrats` entire response is predicated on the idea that
he`s got some master strategy that he`s trying to trick them into
impeaching him, right? He`s trying to trick them into doing the “I” word,
which he can`t even say as you say. And then he`ll fool them and he`s got
a strategy that will ignite a wave of Trump affection that`s going to come
from nowhere because 52 percent of Americans say they will never vote for
him, but he`s going to ignite this incredible wave and he`s going to be
Bill Clinton and everyone is going to love him.
Where is the evidence that any of that is true? Donald Trump is terrified
of impeachment. Donald Trump is terrified of humiliation. Donald Trump is
terrified of being exposed. That`s why he`s so freaked out about his
If he was goading them to impeach him, if he wanted it, he wouldn`t mind
the Mueller report coming out because he wouldn`t be afraid. He`s
terrified. And so, the Democrats are more afraid of Trump and more afraid
of this magical base that`s going to come out of Brigadoon, that`s going to
fall in love with him when he`s impeached than they are of their own base
turning on them if they do nothing.
O`DONNELL: Gene, the Democrats have already passed about 100 bills in is
this House of representatives large and small, which takes us back – while
investigating this president, to go back to 1974 to the investigation of
President Nixon as I know you recall, I just asked today, give me a rough
outline after legislation that year that Congress was able to do. Things
like – while they`re basically removing the president.
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Removing the president, right.
O`DONNELL: Federal – the Federal Aid to Highway Act, the Rehabilitation
Act of 1973, the Endangered Species Act while they`re driving Richard Nixon
out of office investigating. The Budget Act of 1974, Nixon signs it on
July 12th –
O`DONNELL: – and he`s –
O`DONNELL: He`s on a helicopter a month later.
O`DONNELL: That was a giant piece of legislation. That created the budget
committees. It created the Congressional Budget Office.
Everything about federal budgeting is defined in that very complex law that
the Nixon administration tracked, responsibly. They did their jobs. And
the president frankly did his job while he was being driven out of office.
ROBINSON: Look, the Nixon administration for its many flaws was a
presidency. This has always been a “presidency”, right?
ROBINSON: It never did a real presidency from day one. It`s never been
fully staffed. It`s never been staffed with competent people, let alone,
you know, the brilliant people that we usually see in administrations,
people who really know the ins and outs of the federal budget, really know
infrastructure, who are committed to the idea of government and not the
idea of grifting you know themselves into a bigger house and a better pool,
which is kind of what we have now.
So, it shouldn`t be a surprise that they had no infrastructure plan. They
never were going to have one and they don`t have one. They have flow idea
how to fund it.
And so, they came up with a stunt. Or two stunts, right? The first stunt
and then the second stunt that built on that.
You know, the only thing I can say for what Democrats did today and how
they come out looking is you`re right. They are wrong if they think
there`s some – you know, some very subtle sort of Machiavellian, long-
range four-dimensional chess strategy that Donald Trump is playing because
he don`t do that.
But there are a lot of people in the country who are frustrated that stuff
doesn`t get done. And it is useful I think from that standpoint for
Democrats to be saying let`s get stuff done and for the president to say, I
won`t do anything, I refuse to do my job. I will hold my breath until I
turn blue and they stop investigating.
O`DONNELL: Can you imagine if that was Bill Clinton`s choice when he was
being investigated? What Bill Clinton`s choice was the only thing you
could possibly do.
O`DONNELL: He wanted to appear to be studiously doing his job every single
day. And there was no real public evidence that he wasn`t studiously doing
his job every single day.
O`DONNELL: And as a result, his – Bill Clinton`s job approval rating went
up when he appeared to be seriously doing his job –
O`DONNELL: – while being investigated.
Donald Trump would never consider that possibility.
REID: I think that the Democrats also even though some of them lived
through it, misremember everything about what happened with the Clinton
impeachment. Clinton was already popular. And the public saw him doing
great things on the economy. They saw him actually doing a job they
thought was competent and then they see him being impeached over a sexual
Most of the public thought that was ridiculous. Of course, his popularity
went up. He said I`m going to get back to the business of the country. I
think he literally said that.
O`DONNELL: Yes, that was his phrase.
REID: Donald Trump – the idea that Donald Trump was ever going to do the
business of the country, that`s what I question with the Democratic
leadership. Why play along with the ruse? He wasn`t going to have a
infrastructure plan. You think he was going to show up and he was going to
You said the budget director has worked that. He didn`t have one. And so,
the way to deal with the fact of his inadequacy as a president is just to,
you know, throw a temper tantrum.
The thing about the Democratic leadership that is confounding to a lot of
people who ask me to explain it is that they are both saying he has
committed essentially a crime or high crime. They said he`s committing a
REID: But no, no, it doesn`t rise to the level of impeachment. I don`t
O`DONNELL: Gene –
ROBINSON: Just one other thing I think is being misremembered about the
Clinton impeachment is that the Republican Party did fine in the 2000
O`DONNELL: They won.
ROBINSON: After the Clinton impeachment, they won.
REID: Because the scar of impeachment was on him. Once you stamp that
scarlet “I” on a president, he didn`t too useful –
O`DONNELL: Gene, quick thought experiment before we go to break here,
imagine the president walked into that room today with an infrastructure
plan, with an infrastructure plan that was compromisable in ways that
Democrats would have trouble turning down. And at least and began what
could have been weeks of Donald Trump appearing to do his job.
What if he made that choice?
ROBINSON: That would have been incredible. And I think Nancy Pelosi and
Chuck Schumer would have been gobsmacked and wouldn`t know what to say or
what to do. He would confound everybody if he actually seriously did his
O`DONNNELL: All right. We`re going to have to take a break here.
Joy Reid`s book is “The Man Who Sold America.”
Joy and Eugene, thank you both very much for starting us off tonight.
REID: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Really appreciate it.
And when we come back, Congressman Jamie Raskin is with us. He`s a member
of the House Judiciary Committee. He`s going to join us on this important
week when the House subpoenas are finally being enforced in court.
And later, it was the secretary of the treasury`s turn today to not tell
the truth in a congressional hearing. We will show you that video. We`ll
be joined by an expert on the laws that Secretary Mnuchin was misstating
O`DONNELL: Chairman Adam Schiff of the House Intelligence Committee has
announced an agreement with Attorney General Barr and the Justice
Department to hand over to the committee the redacted portions of the
Mueller report that were redacted for national security reasons. Chairman
Schiff has been insisting that his committee is legally authorized to
examine information that involves sensitive national security issues and
has routinely done so throughout the history of the committee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): As part of the negotiations, we said, look, here
are 12 sets of documents that we want. They`re identified in the report.
None of these are even arguably privileged in any way. All of these
involved counterintelligence or foreign intelligence information.
Start by providing these or we`re going to go to an enforcement action.
This was a test of whether they were acting in good faith or without any
faith. And close to midnight last night, they finally agreed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That does not move the House Judiciary Committee any closer to
obtaining the full unredacted Mueller report, but the success that other
committees have had in court this week enforcing their subpoenas is now a
very strong indicator of the strength of the Judiciary Committee`s case
when it comes to court to enforce their subpoenas.
After her three-minute infrastructure meeting at the White House today with
the president, the speaker of the House said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: The fact is in plain sight, in the public domain, this is
president is obstructing justice and he`s engaged in a cover-up. And that
could be an impeachable offense.
Ignoring this – ignoring the – ignoring the subpoenas of Congress was
Article 3 of the Nixon impeachment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now, Representative Jamie Raskin,
Democrat from Maryland and member of the House Judiciary Committee and the
House Oversight Committee.
Congressman, I want your reaction to two successive federal judges ordering
complete compliance with House subpoenas and today`s federal judge actually
quoting Monday`s federal judge twice in his opinion.
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Well, I think we`re going to win all of these
cases, Lawrence, because Congress has the power of fact-finding. The
Supreme Court has said that`s a central function to the legislative branch
we`re allowed to assemble the facts that we need. And as one judge put it
this week, if we`ve got the power to impeach the president for high crimes
and misdemeanors, certainly, we have the power to investigate the power for
high crimes and misdemeanors. That`s how we would find out what he`s up
O`DONNELL: And there are reports of discussions some reports of dissension
within the Democrats in the House of Representatives about the question of
impeachment. You`ve been reportedly favoring it in some of the leadership
discussions against other members of the leadership who are as opposed to
Where do you think impeachment stands now in the House of Representatives?
RASKIN: Let me just say that the reports of division in the Democratic
Caucus are vastly exaggerated. In fact, I would say I`ve never seen us
more unified to stand strong and tall against the lawlessness and the
corruption of the executive branch.
So here`s where we are. As you quoted in the intro here, Speaker Pelosi
said the president is engaged in a full-blown cover-up and I would add a
shutdown of the executive branch. They`re involved in any governance. The
president saying we`re not going to do anything with you until you drop the
investigations, and shutout of the legislative branch.
So, he`s basically plunged the country into constitutional chaos. We are
trying to come forward with a $2 trillion infrastructure plan and he said
not until you stop exercising your lawful function.
So the speaker said that this would be an impeachable offense, a full blown
cover-up. That`s pretty much what Richard Nixon was facing with
impeachment against him, a full blown cover-up, and we have dozens of
members of the House, including a clear majority in the Judiciary Committee
who think that high crimes and misdemeanors have been committed based on
the evidence in the Mueller report, as well as the daily evidence we get of
the presidential obstruction and defiance and contempt of Congress.
So I think the cat is out of the bag. Everybody or the vast majority of us
in the Democratic Caucus think impeachable offenses have been committed and
the real question is a strategic one, of exactly what path do we get on.
The speaker who is a political genius, as you know, thinks that we`re
better off working in each of these committees to try to obtain the
evidence we`re going after.
And I think those people, especially in the Judiciary Committee who have
been facing all of the evidence of impeachable offenses from the Mueller
report are happy to say, hey, if you can get more evidence about tax
evasion, if there`s more evidence about Emoluments Clause violations, if
there`s more evidence about money laundering which seems to be the thing
that gets the president the most terrified, remember when he said that if
Mueller investigated his finances, that was a red line.
And it does seem as if Mueller carefully gerrymandered the report to
exclude anything about the president`s finances. That`s what we`re going
after. We`re going to get to the bottom of this. This president has
turned the executive branch of government and the presidency into a money
making operation for himself and his friends and his business.
And we`re going to get to the bottom of that. And that`s totally unlawful,
too. But we are not afraid of using every tool available to us in the
Constitution, including impeachment, the inherent of contempt. We`ve got
contempt citations we`re bringing against Barr, that we`re going to bring
against McGahn. We`re going after anybody who defies the lawful authority
And, by the way, throw the 25th Amendment in there too because there are
two interpretations of what happened today. One is the president is just
acting unconstitutionally in defying our power. The other is that he`s
lost touch with reality and it`s not within his senses. So, we`ve got look
carefully at the 25th Amendment, as well.
O`DONNELL: So, when does the impeachment process begin?
RASKIN: Well, in a certain sense, you could say it`s begun because the
fact-finding process has begun in pretty much all of the major
investigative committees in Congress, in the Oversight Committee in, the
Judiciary Committee, in Ways and Means. Everybody`s out there trying to
obtain evidence about the criminality and the wrongdoing of the president.
We have not initiated a formal impeachment inquiry. But I think we also
had a very important epiphany this week when people began to distinguish
for the first time impeachment from an impeachment inquiry.
To say that we`re going to launch an impeachment inquiry just means we`re
going to formalize the process of trying to determine whether there were
high crimes and misdemeanors committed. That`s very different from
articles of impeachment where you have the actual indictment and then we go
to vote on it. That`s the end of the process of an impeachment inquiry.
And the reason you have so many dozens of Democrats coming out and saying,
yes, I`m for an impeachment inquiry this week is people are finally
distinguishing between the impeachment inquiry and articles of impeachment.
There have been a lot of impeachment inquiries over American history that
have not led to articles of impeachment. So it`s not a false distinction.
It`s a real distinction in terms of the process that we follow.
O`DONNELL: So only your committee can have an impeachment inquiry. When
does that begin?
RASKIN: Well, actually the Congress could decide to set up a special – a
select committee on impeachment. But I hope and I think that we probably
would do one within the Judiciary Committee and events are moving very
quickly as you can tell from what happened today and the kind of
conversations that are going on.
But you know, we have a lot of confidence in the chair of our committee,
Jerry Nadler who has actually been through some of this and Zoe Lofgren was
a staff member during the Nixon impeachment and Nancy Pelosi has also been
in Congress during some of these. So there are people who have a lot of
experience with it.
And I think if we`re going to move forward, they will know when the time is
right. But I know that the membership is very hungry to defend the
Constitution and the rule of law. And we think that democracy is really in
peril with this president.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Jamie Raskin, thank you very much for joining us
tonight. Appreciate it.
RASKIN: Thank you so much, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, another crushing defeat for President
Trump and a ruling in federal court. We`re going to go into that ruling in
O`DONNELL: Today, we saw another huge victory for the House of
Representatives in a crushing defeat for President Trump in a ruling by a
federal court in New York City. Judge Edgardo Ramos rejected a request by
President Trump to block the House of Representative`s subpoenas for his
financial records from Deutsche Bank and Capital One.
The judge ruled the subpoenas from the House Financial Services Committee
and the Intelligence Committee serve “legitimate legislative purpose and
while undeniably broad is clearly pertinent.” The 25-page opinion by Judge
Ramos agrees with an opinion issued by a Washington, D.C. federal judge on
Monday enforcing House subpoenas for Trump banking records from the
accounting firm Mazars USA.
Judge Ramos twice cited Judge Amit Mehta`s opinion that was delivered
Monday and said that it actually helped him deliver a speedy opinion today.
Judge Ramos noted that he was able to issue his decision immediately after
the arguments were heard in court today because the case was filed three
weeks ago, “So the court had the benefit of the time necessary to
thoroughly consider the merits of plaintiff`s motion, as well I should note
the thorough opinion of Judge Mehta of the D.C. District Court.”
So the next judge hearing the next Trump subpoena blocking lawsuit should
be able to act with similar speed by reading the previous judge`s opinions.
The Deutsche Bank records could be a treasure trove that explains
everything about Donald Trump`s relationship to Russia and every kind word
Donald Trump has ever said about Vladimir Putin if the documents show that
Russian oligarchs close to Vladimir Putin have been in effect cosigners of
Trump loans at Deutsche Bank or otherwise financially supporting Donald
Earlier this week, “The New York Times” reported that anti-money laundering
specialists at Deutsche Bank found multiple suspicious transactions
involving accounts tied to Donald Trump during the presidential campaign
and during the president`s first year in office.
When we come back from a break, we`ll be joined by Adam Klasfeld who was in
the courtroom today as this is drama unfolded and we`ll also be joined by
Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi who`s a member of the House Committee on
Intelligence whose subpoena for the Trump banking records won the day in
federal court today. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff won a
big victory in court today when a federal judge ordered that his subpoena
of Trump bank records must be enforced.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Another
day, another very important ruling. Different judge, same opinion. The
Trump legal arguments are without merit. Raise no serious legal questions,
and speed is of the essence. So another I think resounding victory in the
district court that bodes well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now a member of Chairman Schiff`s committee,
Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, a Democrat from Illinois. He`s a member
of the House Intelligence Committee which issued the subpoena for the Trump
financial records from Deutsche Bank and Capital One. That subpoena was
ordered, enforced today. He`s also a member of the House Oversight
And also with us Adam Klasfeld, a reporter for courthouse news who was
actually inside that courtroom today as the drama and I do mean drama
Congressman Krishnamoorthi, I want to start with you. I`m sure you had
confidence that your subpoenas would be enforced this way since
historically they always have been but it has to be a giant relief that,
not only were they enforced but at very high speed.
You rarely see a court act this quickly. The judge literally listened to
the arguments, took a 20-minute break, came back in and said OK, here`s the
REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL), OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: Yes, that`s correct.
I think that as you know, with the Mazars` ruling earlier this week and now
this particular ruling in New York, it`s clear the courts are unanimous in
their sentiment that Congress has the authority to conduct oversight and
investigations and issue subpoenas and those subpoenas need to be complied
And so I think there are cracks forming in the Trump obstruction strategy
and the strategy to try to delay the production of documents and important
testimony that we should have. And hopefully, they come to their senses
and start cooperating and producing documents and other testimony in other
matters, as well.
O`DONNELL: Adam, today`s judge echoed Monday`s judge saying there was no
serious question, that`s the phrase they used. No serious question was
raised by the Trump side.
ADAM KLASFELD: Right.
O`DONNELL: And what that meant to him since he had the case for three
weeks and able to study it is he was ready to issue an opinion unless he
heard something from the Trump lawyers that he didn`t know about, which is
why he questioned them very closely –
O`DONNELL: – and questioned the House of Representatives` lawyers very,
very closely. But he was ready to go as soon as that argument ended.
KLASFELD: Absolutely. Now, one thing that I came out of that hearing
thinking is don`t sit next to this judge – across from the judge at a
poker table because he didn`t let anything on. He went through the entire
hearing basically peppering both sides, giving incisive questions.
And then he called for that brief recess and he had that opinion ready. He
knew when he was – he had carefully considered both sides of it and it was
reflected in his questions. He hit all the points and he raised all of the
issues that both of the sides had said.
But his opinion was withering and it echoed a lot of the language that
Judge Meta did in the D.C. case, basically saying there was no serious
argument, that it may be a serious thing that Congress is investigating the
president. That`s a colloquially understanding of it but there was no
serious legal argument raised.
O`DONNELL: Congressman, the Monday`s case is already going to an expedited
appeal. And so what we`re seeing in the federal judges who are handling
this at the district court level, at the lowest level, and then in the
appeals level is there seems to be a recognition that this has to be done
at the highest speed possible.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: That`s exactly right. I think that they understand that
what`s being tested is our oversight power. Lawrence, let`s not make any
mistake about what`s going on here.
The Trump administration, if it were to succeed in this strategy of
obstructing oversight in this particular instance, may employ the same
strategy in any number of instances throughout our oversight duties in the
legislative process, whether it`s immigration or health care or any other
And so this is very serious. I`m very glad to see what happened and I
think the last time a court did not side with Congress was in the time of
the presidency of Rutherford B. Hayes.
And so let`s get on with this. We`re going to keep winning in court here.
We`re going to get these documents eventually.
I hope the message is loud and clear to the Trump administration, it`s time
to cooperate with our oversight powers and start producing documents but
also having witnesses come and testify too.
O`DONNELL: Adam, it was quite striking that in the judge`s opinion, he
twice cited the Washington case earlier this week, cited the judge by name
in that case, specifically in effect said, you know, thanks for the help in
doing some of the legal – the same legal scholarship.
KLASFELD: Absolutely. It was very clear that as soon as the Washington
opinion came down, the counsel for the House of Representatives alerted him
to it. So he knew.
O`DONNELL: So the court – the decision comes out in D.C. and the lawyers
for the House in that case immediately alert the New York judge you might
want to take a look at this.
KLASFELD: Within moments, it hit the docket.
O`DONNELL: Of course we alerted him, too. There`s news everywhere.
KLASFELD: Everyone watches MSNBC. Come on. There was no missing that
giant historic news. But he was considering it from the get-go and that
was very apparent. It was – a shadow of the Washington opinion just
hovered over today`s proceedings. You couldn`t ignore that sweeping a
ruling which created another sweeping ruling.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: And Lawrence, can I jump in for one second?
O`DONNELL: Please go ahead.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: You know the Trump administration kept throwing up the
argument that there`s no valid legislative purpose behind these subpoenas.
And as you can see from Judge Mehta`s and now Judge Ramos`s rulings, they
cited so many legislative potential purposes for seeking these records that
it`s amply clear that that particular argument is not going to win the day
for the Trump administration.
For instance, between the Mehta and the Ramos ruling, they said we need
these records for purposes of strengthening our ethics and disclosure laws,
that we need to make sure that the U.S. financial system isn`t subject to
money laundering and the illicit use of the financial system, that we
should be able to know whether there`s ongoing wrongdoing in the executive
And finally, you know, whether from a counterintelligence standpoint,
payments were made by the Russians to President Trump or family members and
therefore, that could be the basis for kompromat or manipulation of Trump
officials today, to the endangerment of our national security.
So, so many purposes were set forth by the judges. That`s precedent that
would be used in future cases.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi gets the last word on today`s
subpoena case. And Adam Klasfeld, thank you also very much for joining us.
Really appreciate you both being here.
And when we come back, the Treasury secretary did not tell the truth to a
House hearing today. We will show you that video and we will be joined by
an expert with 20 years` experience in the IRS who knows the truth.
O`DONNELL: The day will come when a federal judge tells the secretary of
the Treasury that he has violated the law. But today, it was Congresswoman
Alma Adams` turn to tell Secretary Mnuchin that he violated the law by
preventing the IRS from handing over Donald Trump`s tax returns in
compliance with the legal demand by the chairman of the House Ways and
Means Committee who is the only person in the House of Representatives who
is legally empowered to examine tax returns and demand tax returns.
Congresswoman Adams began with this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ALMA ADAMS: Do you know how many times that President Trump has
publicly offered to release his tax returns?
STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: I do not.
ADAMS: Well, we should have something on the screen. He has personally
offered to give us a glimpse of his tax returns at least 24 times. It was
scrolling on the screen. It will probably be back up.
It was April 19, 2011, in an interview when he first said that. He said
that if President Obama would release his birth certificate and then he
would release his tax forms. But, of course, President Obama did do what
he said he would do and the president did not do what he said he would do.
So do you think the American people have a right to know what is in those
tax reforms – tax forms?
MNUCHIN: No, I don`t. Presidents are not required to. And the American
public knew that he didn`t release them before they voted for him so that`s
ADAMS: All right. I`m reclaiming my time now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Adams had to constantly reclaim her time in order
to stop the secretary from filling up that time with empty answers. Then
she zeroed in the on Mnuchin illegally blocking the IRS from handing over
the Trump tax returns to the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADAMS: Are you aware then that by denying this, that you are in direct
violation of the law?
MNUCHIN: No, absolutely not. I have been advised I am not violating the
law. I never would have done anything that violated the law. And quite
the contrary, I`ve been advised that have I turned them over, I would be
violating the law –
ADAMS: All right. Let me move on, sir.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And today, secretary of the Treasury in that hearing refused to
answer a very, very simple yes or no question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADAMS: Have you told the IRS not to respond to Chairman Neal`s request?
MNUCHIN: The IRS independently – the chairman independently wrote a
letter concurring with –
ADAMS: Yes. Can you give me a yes or no? Have you?
MNUCHIN: Can you repeat the question?
ADAMS: Have you told the IRS not to respond to the request?
MNUCHIN: Again, I just said the IRS independently wrote a letter
ADAMS: Sir, OK, let me reclaim my time. Can you give me a yes or no?
MNUCHIN: I don`t understand the question.
ADAMS: All right. OK, you will not – you won`t give me a yes or no.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: It was a very simple question. Did you tell the IRS
commissioner not to respond to Chairman Neal`s request for the Trump tax
When Trump cabinet members are afraid of the truth in a yes or no question,
they ask to repeat the question. I`ve shown you them doing that before.
And then they just keep running away from the answer. I`ve shown that you
We`ve seen it with Attorney General William Barr. We`ve seen him do that.
Now, we`ve seen Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin doing that.
Secretary Mnuchin did not say no. And that leaves only one logical
possibility. Yes. Yes, he did tell the IRS commissioner not to respond to
Chairman Neal`s demand. And that is another instance of the Treasury
secretary violating the law.
Joining us now is William Lowrance, a tax attorney in private practice who
was the trial attorney in the office of the chief counsel of the Internal
Revenue Service for 29 years. Thank you very much for joining us tonight.
It is really valuable for us to have your experience on these issues
What did you make of that final point where the Treasury secretary refused
the simple yes or no question of did you direct the IRS commissioner to not
release those tax returns?
WILLIAM LOWRANCE, FORMER TRIAL ATTORNEY, IRS: Well, I think it is fairly
clear he said probably yes as an answer. The commissioner – IRS
commissioner is required under the code section dealing with the disclosure
to the tax-writing committees, shall return – shall turn over return
information when requested by the committee, the Tax Writing Committee`s
It says shall turn it over. It doesn`t say may turn it over or take your
time in turning it over or anything of that nature. It is very direct.
It`s very pointed in saying you will turn over the information.
Now, the commissioner should have turned it over and it is done all the
time. In the IRS, they often time request returns and it gets turned over.
Obviously, the commissioner, in this case, must have been communicated not
to turn it over. And I would suspect maybe the secretary is one that did
that or one of his assistants or underlings.
O`DONNELL: In your experience when these requests came to the IRS
commissioner as they have in the past, was this ever any pause over it?
Did the commissioner ever turn to the council and say should I obey this
LOWRANCE: I`m not aware of anything like that. As a matter of fact, I
received oftentimes letters from the secretary`s office requesting some
legal information or something of that nature which is passed on to me as
the attorney to write an answer and send it back up to the managerial and
to the council and then back to the secretary. And returns, most often –
and I`ve never known any not to be turned over because they`ve abided by
that particular code section.
O`DONNELL: And there`s a leaked memo this week, a draft memo, from the IRS
from someone in there, possibly in the council`s office, saying basically
exactly what you`re saying that this is very simple, black and white law.
There is no choice.
LOWRANCE: Well, that`s true. Of course, they`re going to take the
position that there has to be some underlying legislative purpose or it`s
executive privilege or there is a private policy involved. Well, all of
those particular grounds I guess would have I think a very – not a very
good chance in court. If those sorts of defenses are put forth in a trial.
O`DONNELL: William Lowrance, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
Really appreciate it.
LOWRANCE: Well, thank you. You`re welcome.
O`DONNELL: And that is “Tonight`s Last Word.” “The 11th Hour” with Brian
Williams starts now.
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Copyright 2019 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are
protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the