Rep. Amash lays out case. TRANSCRIPT: 5/23/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.

David Cicilline, Ezra Klein, Bill Weld





O`DONNELL:  Good evening, Rachel. 


Speaking of breaking news, let`s get to the much more important thing than

the minor reference you made to me where he`s telling us that Robert

Mueller does not want to testify publicly on TV with everyone watching. 

He`s willing to testify very old school with no cameras as if it`s a

Supreme Court hearing with transcript to be released later. 


MADDOW:  Because he is worried about it being too political.  I don`t know

whether a camera makes something political that a pen and paper doesn`t.  I

can see not wanting to be made a spectacle of.  But I can`t see how

testifying behind closed doors as opposed to testifying publicly affects

whether or not your words are interpreted in a political context. 


O`DONNELL:  Well, what he`s right about, historically, but I`m not sure it

would work in this case is that when you turn the cameras on in Congress,

it is impossible not to get a certain amount of stunting. 


MADDOW:  Right.  Show boating, yes. 


O`DONNELL:  We know which side will be doing a lot of that.  The Republican

side which basically has nothing to throw at Robert Mueller, that`s the

side where the strangest things would come from and that`s the side where

there are certain players who are always playing for the camera. 


And every member will tell you when they close the doors, those people

don`t behave the same way.  Now, with Mueller, they might be playing for

the transcript which is a little bit harder because it won`t just be fist

pounding.  They have to come up with some words to make the transcript come



But I can see Mueller`s point but there`s something – I mean, it takes us

back to the 1940s to not have this on television. 


MADDOW:  And it is – I will say that while I`m happy for Chairman Nadler

to have given us that news tonight and we can break that news and have a

better understanding of – I still think there`s got to be some other

variable here that we`re not factoring into the equation because all the

different pieces of this don`t totally add up. 


I have been wondering whether or not it`s a question of Mueller testifying

alone versus Mueller testifying with the team that carried out this

investigation.  I`ve been worried about whether this might be the justice

department intervening here in terms of what they`re allowing Mueller to do

or suggesting to Mueller might be a good idea for him to do as opposed to

him acting on his own steam here.  I still don`t know if any of those

things are at work, but this is provocative news and an open question

whether or not the judiciary committee will proceed on those terms. 


O`DONNELL:  Yes, I think you got a huge revelation out of the chairman

tonight, but it still leaves us I think me and you and a few million more

people mystified – 




O`DONNELL:  – about where this stands tonight.  It is a very peculiar



MADDOW:  It`s like 63 freaking day since he finished in his investigation

and turned into the report.  We`ve seen nothing from him.  He`s like locked

up in a box somewhere.  It`s – this is a weird situation we`re in. 


O`DONNELL:  Well, thanks for getting what you did get.  That was very



MADDOW:  Appreciate it.  Thanks, my friend.


O`DONNELL:  Thank you, Rachel. 


Well, Republican Congressman Justin Amash is now making stronger statements

about impeaching President Trump than most Democratic members of the House

of Representatives. 


George Will has been watching Congressman Amash for more years than most. 

And he will join us tonight with what his view of what Congressman Amash is

up.  George Will himself left the Republican Party after Donald Trump won

the Republican presidential nomination.  What will happen to Congressman

Amash in a party that now seems to be owned and operated as a Trump



And another anti-Trump Republican will join us, former Republican

Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld who is challenge Donald Trump for the

Republican presidential nomination.  Bill Weld does not have to win that

nomination to do very serious damage to the Trump candidacy. 


Every incumbent president who has been challenged within his own party in

the primaries beyond the New Hampshire primary has then lost his re-

election in the general election.  Bill weld will tell how far he plans to

go beyond account New Hampshire primary. 


And it`s worth a reminder that presidents do not publicly attack members of

their cabinet.  That may come as news to teenagers who have been paying

their first attention to the presidency during the Trump years.  Donald

Trump did it with Attorney General Jeff Sessions while he was still in the

cabinet and he has done it repeatedly with his first secretary of state,

Rex Tillerson.  The president called Rex Tillerson dumb as a rock again

today because Rex Tillerson spent seven hours in a closed-door session with

the house foreign affairs committee talking about Donald Trump and Vladimir

Putin and how Putin has outsmarted Donald Trump. 


We have so much to cover in breaking news tonight that we will get to that. 

Only at the end of this hour you will want to hear exactly what Rex

Tillerson had to say about Donald Trump and Donald Trump`s values. 


But first, the breaking news we`re going to begin with tonight is the

statement released by the White House that Rachel was just referring to, a

statement saying today at the request and recommendation of the attorney

general of the United States, President Donald J. Trump directed the

intelligence community to quickly and fully cooperate with the attorney

general`s investigation into surveillance activities during the 2016

presidential election.  The attorney general has also been delegated full

and complete authority to declassify information pertaining to this

investigation in accordance with the long established standards for

handling classified information. 


That came at the end of a day when another Trump campaign associate was

indicted on bribery charges involving Paul Manafort, and the president of

the United States, once again, described himself as a stable genius.  This

time, quote, “an extremely stable genius.”  He did that in a typically

Trumpian rant about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in which everything he said

about Nancy Pelosi was provably untrue. 


Speaker Pelosi responded in a tweet saying: When the extremely stable

genius starts acting more presidential I`ll be happy to work with him on

instruct, trade and other issues.  Once again today, the president said he

would not work with Congress on anything as long as the House of

Representatives is investigating the president. 




REPORTER:  Mr. President, is there anything that you are willing to work

with Democrats on now? 



their track.  Let them get rid of the nonsense first.  When that`s done,

we`ll go very quickly.  We`ll go very quickly. 


Infrastructure is very easy.  For me, that`s very easy.  You can`t go down

two tracks at the same time.  It doesn`t work that way. 




O`DONNELL:  Of course, it has always worked that way in the past when other

presidents have been under investigation.  Important legislation always

continued to move through Congress with the cooperation of the White House

even when previous president were under investigation by that same



During her weekly press conference had morning, Speaker Pelosi once again

described how president Trump told her yesterday that he would not work

with Congress on the infrastructure plan that they were actually scheduled

to discuss.  Or work with Congress on anything else. 




REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA):  The president again stormed out, I think what

first pound the table, walk out the door.  What? 


Next time, have a TV cameras in there while I have my say.  That didn`t

work for him either.  And now this time, another temper tantrum. 


Again, I pray for the president of the United States.  I wish that his

family or his administration or his staff would have an intervention for

good of the country. 




O`DONNELL:  Speaker Pelosi said that her experience with the president

including previous meetings with the president leaves her wondering who is

in charge. 




PELOSI:  This is not behavior that is rises to the dignity of the office of

the president of the United States.  But having said that, as I said, I

actually ardently pray for the president because we need – I don`t know. 

Sometimes when we`re talking to him, he agrees. 


And then, I said one time, who is in charge here because you agree and

then, all of a sudden, something changes?  What goes on there?  Who is in





O`DONNELL:  And then the president said it`s very clears who in charge at

the White House. 




TRUMP:  I haven`t changed very much.  Been very consistent.  I`m an

extremely stable genius.  OK. 




O`DONNELL:  The president was then asked specifically about Nancy Pelosi`s

comments this morning. 




REPORTER:  Speaker Pelosi said today she hoped your family would provide an

intervention with you.  What`s your reaction to that? 


O`DONNELL:  I saw her read it perfectly just the way she said it.  It`s

very sort of a nasty type statement.  But I will say this: she said I

walked into the room right next door yesterday and walked in and started

screaming and yelling.  Just the opposite.  Just the opposite. 




O`DONNELL:  As you saw in the Nancy Pelosi video, she was not reading her

description of what happened in the cabinet room yesterday and she never

said that the president started screaming and yelling. 


The president then called on individual members of his staff who were in

the room and got each of them to agree that he was not screaming and

yelling yesterday even though Nancy Pelosi never said that the president

was screaming and yelling. 


The president also threw in some nasty name calling of Nancy Pelosi and

Chuck Schumer which Speaker Pelosi in effect predicted he would do in her

comments earlier this morning. 




PELOSI:  This is not behavior that is – rises to the dignity of the office

of president of the United States. 




O`DONNELL:  Leading off our discussion tonight is Democratic Congressman

David Cicilline of Rhode Island.  He is a member of the House Judiciary



And, Congressman, thank you for joining us tonight. 


Your chairman, Jerry Nadler, just was on with Rachel Maddow where he

announced that Robert Mueller`s one of his conditions for testifying to the

committee at this stage of negotiations is he wants to do it behind closed

doors, no TV cameras present, no media present, transcript to be released



REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-RI):  Yes, I hope the negotiations will achieve a

different result.  I think it`s very important that the American people

hear from Mr. Mueller that he walk the American people and the Judiciary

Committee through his report.  To explain his findings, explain the

judgments he made. 


This, of course, was a report done on behalf of the American people when

our democracy was attacked by a foreign adversary.  He details ten specific

instances where the president obstructed justice, and lots of contacts

between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives.  I think people need to

hear that directly from him. 


So, I hope we can arrive at a set of conditions that will allow him to give

testimony under oath before the entire committee and before the American



O`DONNELL:  Let`s listen to exactly what the chairman told Rachel in what

is now the breaking news of the night. 




REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY):  Mueller, he I think I can say his point that he

wants to testify in private. 


MADDOW:  Why? 


NADLER:  I don`t know why.  That`s – he wants to testify, he`s willing to

make an opening statement but he wants to testify in private.  We`re saying

he ought to – we think it`s important for American people to hear from him

and to hear his answers to questions about the report. 


MADDOW:  Does he want to testify in private and have it be a closed session

where we the people would not even get to see a transcript of it. 


NADLER:  No, no, no, we would see a transcript.  But I – we`d see a



MADDOW:  Do you have any sense of, I mean, why would witnesses usually say

something like that or do you have any indication of why he might want



NADLER:  He – he envisions himself correctly as a man of great rectitude

and apolitical and he doesn`t want to participate in anything he might

regard as a political spectacle. 




O`DONNELL:  Congressman, was that news to you tonight? 


CICILLINE:  No, we understood that those negotiations are under way and

that that was part of the conversation.  I think the chairman is going to

continue to try to persuade Mr. Mueller`s team to allow Mr. Mueller to come

before the committee in public again.  I think everyone on the committee

thinks it`s very important that the American people hear him testify, but

obviously, those negotiations are ongoing. 


O`DONNELL:  And I want to get your reaction to this statement from the

White House tonight where the president has put the attorney general not

just in charge of investigating any kind of – any kind of investigation

that occurred during the presidential campaign but also in charge of all of

the classification issues involved with all of the intelligence agencies

who might or might not have picked up anything in that investigation. 


CICILLINE:  Well, I mean to quote a former high level DOJ official, this is

a grotesque abuse of the intelligence community.  And what`s really

disturbing is on the very same day that the president says, I can`t work

with Congress to get anything done for the American people because I can`t

do that and respond to investigations at the same time, he initiates yet

another investigation.  So the irony is kind of extraordinary. 


We`ve passed over 100 pieces of legislation in the Congress so far while we

are conducting robust oversight.  So we can do both things.  We ought to do

both things.  That happened during the Clinton impeachment, that happened

during the Nixon impeachment, investigations and oversight with normal

congressional work.  We do that while passing the for the people agenda. 


It`s sort of ironic that on the very day the president stormed out and

said, I can`t do both things, he announces his attorney general is now

directed to assist the intelligence community to conduct a new

investigation about the origins of the inquiry conducted by Mr. Mueller. 

It`s kind of funny. 


O`DONNELL:  Chairman Nadler told Rachel that your subpoenas although are

already being treated very seriously by judges in court.  You`re winning at

every stage, that they might be taken even more seriously and moved even

more quickly if they are in service of an impeachment inquiry. 


Do you support moving to an impeachment inquiry in your committee? 


CICILLINE:  Yes.  I have expressed that opinion to my chairman and to my

colleagues.  I think we are at the point now where not only because of the

contents of the Mueller report but because of the conduct of the president

his administration and their efforts to impede and prevent us from getting

the facts and following the facts wherever they lead us to get the truth

the president has been engaged in a cover-up.  He is behaving as if he is

above the law.  We have a responsibility to make sure we hold this

administration accountable. 


I have argued that the opening of an impeachment inquiry is just a

beginning step.  It`s a formal question whether or not impeachment is

appropriate.  We would then conduct our hearings, collect evidence and make

a judgment.  At the conclusion of that, we would consider articles of

impeachment or not.  But this would be the sort of formal process. 


There is no question it would raise the level of seriousness of our effort. 

It would consolidate some of this work.  I think there certainly is court

decisions that say at that moment, when an impeachment inquiry is under

way, Congress`s power is at its zenith. 


So, I think it would strengthen our hand.  I think the chairman is right. 

We have enough authority under our regular oversight to get what we need. 


But I think the president`s conduct in attempting to prevent us from

hearing from witnesses, defying subpoenas and telling people not to produce

documents, those acts have by themselves may be a basis of impeachment, but

certainly are enough in my mind to begin an inquiry, to open up a formal

process to consider whether or not an impeachment is appropriate. 


O`DONNELL:  Before you go, Congressman, let me ask you one more thing about

this because we know there`s been a debate within the Democrats in the

House when to move to impeachment or how to move to impeachment.  And you

have been one of the leaders of let`s go to impeachment now. 


What is the most persuasive counterargument you have heard from other

Democrats in those private discussions you`re having? 


CICILLINE:  Well, I`d say two things.  I`m not suggesting going to

impeachment now.  That`s a different question.  What I`m saying is open a

formal inquiry today which is the first step before you decide whether or

not to actually vote articles of impeachment. 


So, this is really the formal process by which the committee begins

consideration of this question and then begins the fact finding and

evidence collection process.  I think that the principal argument against

it and I think it`s a fair one is it will be very divisive for the country. 

And these are hard moments for the country.  We`re in a very grave moment. 


I happen to believe we have a responsibility to bring the Mueller report to

life, to hold this administration accountable.  I think we can`t weigh

political considerations that are good for us politically or not.  That`s



What matters is what are the facts, what is the truth here and to be sure

we`re acting in a way that upholds the rule of law and honors the

Constitution and the world is watching us.  I think the behavior of this

president and his administration and the contents of the Mueller report and

his subsequent conduct necessitate the opening of this inquiry in a formal



I take my colleagues at their word when they`re concerned about kind

confident divisions it would have on country.  I think that`s real. 


But the other concern I think folks have and I think we disproved this is

somehow this would consume us.  The truth is, the Democratic Caucus is

unified on two points.  One, we have to continue to deliver on our for the

people agenda.  We`ve passed 100 bills there`s relating driving down

prescription drug costs protecting access to the Affordable Care coverage

for pre-existing conditions, universal background checks, equal pay for

equal work, a whole number of bills. 


So, we have to keep doing that.  And the caucus is unified on doing that. 

The caucus is also unified that we need to hold the administration

accountable, make sure no one is above the law, including the president and

find the truth and follow the facts. 


Some people have a different sense of the best vehicle.  Is it inquiry of

impeachment, is it just a regular oversight?  But we`re united on those two

points and we`re going to get to the facts.  We`re going to get to the

truths.  We`re not going to allow the president to continue in this cover-

up and we`re going to demonstrate once and for all that no one in this

country including the president of the United States is above the law. 


O`DONNELL:  Congressman Cicilline, your Chairman Jerry Nadler just outlined

a very heavy work schedule for your committee this summer, both legislative

and investigative.  We thank you very much for joining us tonight and we

hope you`ll be able to join us again. 


CICILLINE:  My pleasure. 


O`DONNELL:  Thank you, Congressman. 


And joining us now, Ezra Klein.  He`s the editor at large at “Vox” and he

hosts of the podcast, “The Ezra Klein Show”. 


Ezra, there`s so much to cover here tonight.  One of the developments today

was the president taking time to publicly proclaim he`s not the crazy one



EZRA KLEIN, EDITOR AT LARGE, VOX:  So things are going great in American

democracy I guess. 




O`DONNELL:  Yes, I didn`t know quite how to put that. 


KLEIN:  There`s a nice line in the “New York Times” piece about that in the

moments he began going around the room.  And if you have not looked at this

video, by the way, you at home, go online and look at this. 


“The New York Times” had this side in their piece saying in a ritual rarely

seen in a democracy, it looked like the kind of Potemkin moment you see in

dictatorships.  It was a scary moment watching him herd his own staff into

a room to publicly testify to his own state of mind and as you say,

publicly rebut a claim that was not actually made about him.  It was

strange and given the fact that the guy has his hands on a nuclear weapon,

it`s troubling. 


O`DONNELL:  And, Ezra, let me get your reaction to the breaking news in

Rachel`s hour.  Chairman Nadler announcing Robert Mueller is negotiating

for a closed door hearing with transcript to be released later. 


KLEIN:  I think Robert Mueller who has done I think a lot of tremendous

work is so – is a little bit too concerned over the idea that his work

could be interpreted politically.  You cannot take quite so much of the

politics out of politics. 


He`s a fact finder.  He has done again I think a tremendous job trying to

establish a pattern of facts.  There are questions left open by the

document he created and while I certainly understand the idea that when you

get put in front of a camera with the Congress the way that it is, a lot of

people are going to be grandstanding and trying to create that the one

viral moment or couple moments that will go viral in different systems of

American politics. 


Nevertheless, you either don`t it because you`re worried that it could be

politicize the to the American people, you`re working for the American

people.  That doesn`t quite add up to me. 


O`DONNELL:  And, Ezra, we`re hearing, we heard from Chairman Nadler an

outline I`ve whole new approach to hearings this summer trying to basically

cover the territory of the Mueller report, the challenge he`s having is

exactly what witnesses do you get, the reports are the committee is

surprised at the resistance they`ve been getting from the Trump

administration on getting witnesses.  Intelligence Committee also making

plans for a similar approach to hearings that will illuminate what`s in the

Mueller report. 


KLEIN:  Something that I am struck by and it`s something that the

congressman said in the segment earlier is that Donald Trump since release

of the Mueller report has considerably strengthened the case for

impeachment against him.  There is what the Mueller report says and then

there is the way the Trump administration under his command has acted above

the law since.  The complete stonewalling of what is functionally

Congress`s constitutional duty to conduct oversight over him. 


And added to that, the reversal of the normal approach preys take which is

to say, I`m the one here doing the people`s business while they`re

investigating me and doing a circus.  Instead, Donald Trump is saying,

until they stop investigating me, I will not do the people`s business, I

will not do infrastructure, as if governing is a favor he does us when

everybody is nice to him otherwise. 


So I think that Donald Trump is doing a pretty nice job strengthening the

case for an impeachment inquiry against him and I think Nancy Pelosi who

has had his psychology pegged perfectly since the beginning is doing a nice

baiting him into it step by step.  I`ve always think it`s important to

recognize her position has not been no impeachment, but to continue going

forward and either building support for it or in seeing support dissipate

for it. 


And so far, she`s moved into him into a place where I think he is building

support both in her caucus and I suspect over time in the country. 


O`DONNELL:  Ezra Klein, thank you very much for joining us tonight.  Really

appreciate it. 


KLEIN:  Thank you. 


O`DONNELL:  And to continue our breaking news coverage, we`re going to

crash right through a commercial break and we`re going to be joined by Bill

Weld.  He`s the former Republican governor of Massachusetts.  He is running

for the Republican presidential nomination against President Trump.  He is

joining us tonight from the campaign trail in New Hampshire. 


And, Governor Weld, I want to get your reaction to be what we just learned

from Chairman Nadler about Robert Mueller`s testimony and for the audience

we`re going to play it one more time and for you.  Here`s Chairman Nadler

telling Rachel Maddow that Robert Mueller wants to testify in a closed door

hearing, not a publicly watchable hearing. 


Let`s listen to this. 




REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY):  Mueller, he I think I can say his point that he

wants to testify in private. 




NADLER:  I don`t know why.  He wants to testify, he`s willing to make an

opening statement but he wants to testify in private.  And we`re suggesting

– we`re saying that he ought to, we think it`s important for the American

people to hear from him and to hear his answers to questions about the



MADDOW:  Does he want to testify in private and have it be a closed session

where we the people would not even get to see a transcript of it?


NADLER:  No, no, no, we`d see a transcript.  But I – we`d see a



MADDOW:  Do you have any sense of – I mean, why would witnesses usually

say something like that or do you have any indication of why he might want



NADLER:  He envisions himself correctly as a man of great rectitude and

apolitical and he doesn`t want to participate in anything that he might

regard as a political spectacle. 




O`DONNELL:  Governor Weld, you`re a former U.S. attorney in Boston.  You

are a former – you`re a veteran of a Republican Justice Department.  You

know the workings of this sort of thing.  And you know the workings of

congressional investigative committees. 


I think your first job in public service was working with young Hillary

Clinton, then Hillary Rodham on the congressional committee investigating

President Nixon which eventually led to President Nixon resigning the



As you see the special prosecutor making this unprecedented choice

basically unprecedented since television cameras first went into hearing

rooms, what is your reaction tonight to Robert Mueller saying I`m ready to

testify but no cameras?


BILL WELD (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Well, Lawrence, I think that Bob

Mueller is totally up to testifying in public.  He was head of the FBI for

12 years.  He was grilled by Congress both parties many, many times. 


And he was my deputy in the U.S. attorney`s office in Boston.  And I

remember I went to a dinner in New York where he was giving a speech 12

years later after he had served so long and ably in the FBI. 


He`s a totally different guy.  I mean, he`s a very, very consummate,

experienced guy.  So, he would be up to it. 


I think what`s going on here is Bob is so straight, that he doesn`t

necessarily want to say how the process has been perverted.  And my reading

of what happened behind closed doors, Bob Mueller`s report says we decided

not to make a traditional prosecutive judgment because we really couldn`t. 

Translation, Bill Barr told me that he was going to squash any indictment I

tried to bring against the president for obstruction. 


That`s a dirty story.  Bob Mueller doesn`t want to have to tell that on TV. 

And I think that`s exactly what`s going on here.  He`s such a gentleman. 


O`DONNELL:  But, Governor, he is saying he`ll testify.  The transcript can

then be immediately released. 


Knowing Bob Mueller as you do, what do you think he sees – because,

obviously, it won`t change his testimony whether there`s cameras there or

not.  What about it do you see in his approach to this that makes him think

the transcript is the way, the written word in the transcript in news

print, in us reciting it on this show, that`s the way he wants his words

delivered instead of him? 


WELD:  Yes, I would suspect, Lawrence, that he wants to avoid a circus. 

But as I say, he`s testified many times in high pressure situations with a

lot of members of both parties from time to time being angry at the

performance of the FBI, and he always stood there and took it.  And he can

do that again. 


Believe me, he`s a tough guy.  I was shoulder to shoulder with him.  He can

more than hold his own there.  I think it`s just that the picture of the

politicization of the Justice Department around him and putting him down is

so tawdry that he doesn`t like the idea of that being in a circus



But you`re right, the facts are what they are and they`re pretty bad. 


O`DONNELL:  Governor, what would do you if you were in Robert Mueller`s

position as a special counsel, which you would be by the way fully

qualified to do with your background and experience in a case like this,

and you were at this point where an now it`s the question of testifying to

Congress about this, would you make that request that it be a closed door



WELD:  Oh, no, I would testify in public.  I think that involves a lot of

the flavor.  You never know what`s going to happen when all kinds of

witnesses are testifying in public. 


I`ve been a litigator for a long time, as long as Bob Mueller.  And you

never know what`s going to come out of witnesses` mouths or interrogators`

mouths, and that might be quite revealing.  But I think the back story is

that the president is trying to bait the Democrats into impeaching him

prematurely so that he can cry foul and total exoneration if the Senate

doesn`t vote to remove him. 


And that will be his campaign going into the 2020 election.  I don`t think

Nancy Pelosi is trying to bait him or baiting him.  I think it`s the other

way around. 


O`DONNELL:  What – if you were in the House of Representatives, what would

you be advocating? 


WELD:  I would pause, I`d want to – I agree with Jerry Nadler.  I think

they should have a full summer of investigations so that by the time the

House finally cuts and cuts cleanly on the question of whether to vote for

impeachment – by the way, and the evidence is already there as a matter of

law if they wanted to.  But why not do so with maximum evidence with the

most, you know, finely tissued report about exactly everything that went on



But the president has already gone well beyond what Richard Nixon ever did

he in terms of obstruction of justice and 750 former federal prosecutors,

Republicans and Democrats, and mostly career prosecutors, 20 of them like

myself confirmed by the Senate, have said the president committed

obstruction of justice according to the Mueller report.  And it`s not even

a close question. 


The only person that doesn`t agree with that is Attorney General Bill Barr

and his theory I think with all respect – and Bill Barr is a very eminent

lawyer and friend of myself and Bob Mueller in years past, I don`t think

his theory holds water as a matter of law.


O`DONNELL:  Republican Presidential Candidate Bill Weld, thank you very

much for joining us tonight.  I want to talk next time –


WELD:  Thank you.


O`DONNELL:  Next time when you`re here, I want to hear your plan for how

you take your candidacy all the way to the Republican Convention.  We`re

going to find time for that next time.


WELD:  Yes, sir.


O`DONNELL:  Thank you very much for joining us, Governor.


WELD:  Thank you.


O`DONNELL:  Really appreciate it.  And when we come back, the president

attacked a member of his cabinet today calling him dumb as a rock and that

cabinet member was reported to have called Donald Trump a moron.  So this

kind of sounds like a case of the pot calling the kettle a rock.


And next, no member of the House of Representatives is more forceful in

calling for the impeachment of President Trump than Republican Congressman

Justin Amash.  Who is Justin Amash?  Why is he doing this and why is he the

only Republican doing this?  That`s next.




O`DONNELL:  The Republican leader of the House of Representatives Kevin

McCarthy said during the last presidential campaign, “There`s two people I

think Putin pays, Rohrabacher and Trump.”  He said that he thought in

private, of course, the comment was leaked later.


Dana Rohrabacher was a Republican member of the House of Representatives

who was defeated in his re-election campaign last year.  That same

Republican leader Kevin McCarthy who once said he believes Putin pays Trump

is now attacking Republican member of the House of Representatives

Congressman Justin Amash because Congressman Amash is the first and only

Republican member of Congress who has come out in support of the

impeachment of President Trump.


Congressman Amash did that last weekend in a series of carefully composed

tweets and he added to that body of tweets today saying, “Mueller`s report

describes a consistent effort by the president to use his office to

obstruct or otherwise corruptly impede the Russian election interference

investigation because it put his interests at risk.


It also reveals criminal activity, some of which were committed by people

in Trump`s orbit and in the case of Michael Cohen`s campaign finance

violation on Trump`s behalf.  Trump asked the FBI director to stop

investigating Michael Flynn who had been his campaign adviser and national

security adviser and who had already committed a crime by lying to the FBI.


After Attorney General Sessions recused himself from the Russia

investigation on the advice of Department of Justice ethics lawyers, Trump

directly asked Sessions to reverse his recusal so that he could retain

control over the investigation and help the president.  Trump directed the

White House Counsel Don McGahn to have special counsel Robert Mueller

removed on the basis of pre-textual conflicts of interest that Trump`s

advisers had already told him were ridiculous and could not justify

removing the special counsel.


When that event was publicly reported, Trump asked that McGahn make a

public statement and create a false internal record stating that Trump had

not asked him to fire the special counsel and suggested that McGahn would

be fired if he did not comply.  Trump asked Corey Lewandowski, his former

campaign manager to tell Attorney General Sessions to limit the special

counsel`s investigation only to future election interference.


Trump said Lewandowski should tell Sessions he was fired if he would not

meet with him.  Trump used his pardon power to influence his associates

including Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen not to fully cooperate with the

investigation.  Trump through his own statements such as complaining about

people who flip and talk to investigators and through communications

between his personal counsel and Manafort, Cohen, gave an impression that

they would be pardoned if they did not fully cooperate with investigators.


Manafort ultimately breached an agreement to cooperate with investigators

and Cohen offered false testimony to Congress including denying that the

Trump Tower Moscow project had extended to June 2016 and that he and Trump

had discussed traveling to Russia during the campaign.


Both men have been convicted for offering false information and Manafort`s

lack of cooperation left open some significant questions such as why

exactly he provided an associate in Ukraine with campaign polling data

which he expected to be shared with a Russian oligarch.


Some of the president`s actions were inherently corrupt, other actions were

corrupt, and therefore, impeachable because the president took them to

serve his own interests.  The president has authority to fire federal

officials, direct his subordinates, and grant pardons but he cannot do so

for corrupt purposes.  Otherwise, he would always be allowed to shut down

any investigation into himself or his associates which would put him above

the law.”


I was somewhere between surprised and shocked when I read Congressman

Amash`s tweets this weekend supporting impeachment but I think Conservative

Columnist George Will was probably much less surprised.  He has been

watching Congressman Amash much more closely than I have for years.


And six years ago, George Will wrote that Justin Amash was one of those

Republicans who had to deal with the challenge of how to balance “being

interesting and being electable.”  George Will who gave up his membership

in the Republican Party when Donald Trump won the Republican presidential

nomination will join us next.




O`DONNELL:  Here is the Republican Minority Leader of the House of

Representatives Kevin McCarthy attacking Republican Congressman Justin

Amash for supporting the impeachment of President Trump.




REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY:  It`s very disturbing.  This is exactly what you would

suspect from Justin.  He never supported the president.  And I think he`s

just looking for attention.




O`DONNELL:  Joining us now is George F. Will, Pulitzer Prize-Winning

Columnist for the “Washington Post” and an MSNBC political analyst.  And

George, to Kevin McCarthy`s point that Justin Amash is just looking for

attention, let me officially enter into the recorded that this television

program has been begging the congressman to come on as has every political

television program and news program and he has not done one second of

attention-getting television for his position.


How surprised were you this weekend when Justin Amash became the first

Republican to come out in support of impeachment?



all.  Let`s give you a little thumbnail sketch of Mr. Amash.  He represents

the Grand Rapids, Western Michigan District once represented by Gerald

Ford, the epitome of Vanilla Republicanism.


There is nothing vanilla about Justin Amash.  He`s the son of a Palestinian

father and a Syrian mother.  Magna cum laude graduate in Economics from the

University of Michigan and then from the University of Michigan Law School. 

Student of Friedrich Hayek in the Austrian School of Economics.  That is to

say, he`s a real libertarian Republican limited government conservative.


When he was in his first term in the Michigan legislature on something like

70 bills, he was the only no vote, the only one to vote against them

because he thought government had no warrant to be doing what the

government was doing.  He got to the House of Representatives and he said

he would not vote for any legislation that was submitted to the House

before people had a chance to read it.  Talk about eccentric.


Now, if someone who believes as he does that this is a government of

limited delegate and enumerated powers is immune to the normal controlling

structure of incentives in Washington, by which someone says if you support

my expansion of government, I`ll support your expansion of government. 

He`s not interested in that which means he`s a free agent which makes him

dangerous and a little bit frightening to Washington.


O`DONNELL:  He told you – you quoted him six years ago in your column

saying that – he said, “I am a moderate because the point of the

Constitution is to moderate the government.”  He seems to be trying to

moderate the presidency now.


WILL:  Well, I think that`s right.  I mean most libertarians and all, it

seems to me, Americans are alarmed by the growth of executive power and not

just under this president but the eclipse of Congress over decades now and

the freewheeling unilateral activity of the president in foreign as well as

domestic.  So this is a piece with someone who came to Washington sensitive

to the basic problem of the disequilibrium in our constitutional structure

caused by the swollen presidency.


O`DONNELL:  Do we have a reason to suspect that many or some House

Republicans watched this with admiration, with secret admiration?


WILL:  I don`t know.  I wish we could suspect that but I don`t think there

are very many people whose admiration is secret for anyone else other than

their public admiration for Donald Trump.


O`DONNELL:  And how about his congressional district which you know well? 

Can he get re-elected in his congressional district having taken this



WILL:  Well, I won`t say it`s a matter of indifference to him but it`s not

the most important thing in his life.  His convictions are he is what

Margaret Thatcher called herself, a conviction politician.  And it was said

of Margaret Thatcher that she couldn`t see an institution without swatting

it with her handbag.


That`s the spirit in which I think Justin Amash operates.  He`s been

challenged before in his district.  He no doubt will be challenged again,

this time from the right.  He`s been challenged from a more Moderate

Republican.  I don`t know how it will turn out, but as I say, I think he

would like to win, but he can live without it.


O`DONNELL:  George F. Will, thank you very much for joining us tonight. 

Appreciate it.


WILL:  Thank you.


O`DONNELL:  Today, the Trump Justice Department released a 17-count

indictment under the Espionage Act and we`re just getting to that now. 

That`s going to be next.




O`DONNELL:  Today, the Trump Justice Department charged WikiLeaks` founder

Julian Assange with 17 crimes under the Espionage Act.  The charges include

conspiring with ex-army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to disseminate

national defense and classified documents including the identities of human

sources on WikiLeaks in 2010.


Chelsea Manning served seven years in prison after being convicted by

court-martial of espionage.  Chelsea Manning is currently in jail for

refusing to testify to a grand jury investigating Julian Assange.  “The New

York Times” reports today the Justice Department`s decision to pursue

Espionage Act charges signals a dramatic escalation under President Trump

to crack down on leaks of classified information and names squarely at

first amendment protections for journalists.


Though he is not a conventional journalist, much of what Mr. Assange does

at WikiLeaks is difficult to distinguish in a legally meaningful way from

what traditional news organizations like “The New York Times” do, seek and

publish information that officials want to be secret, including classified

national security matters and take steps to protect the confidentiality of



Tonight, Julian Assange is in a London jail serving a 50-week sentence for

skipping bail in 2012.  The United States has June 12 deadline to present

its case for extradition of Julian Assange from the United Kingdom to the

United States.


Coming up, we have seen the Trump cabinet humiliated in congressional

hearings day after day, but no one humiliates the Trump cabinet the way

Donald Trump does.  Today, he called a former cabinet member who he

predicted was going to be a star “dumb as a rock.”  That`s next.




O`DONNELL:  Rex Tillerson lasted as Donald Trump`s first secretary of state

for a little over a year.  The president told us that he always hired the

best people and was putting the best people in his cabinet.  And when Rex

Tillerson took the oath of office, the president said “Congratulations to

Rex Tillerson on being sworn in as our new secretary of state.  He will be

a star”, exclamation point.


Today, the president said Rex Tillerson is dumb as a rock.  That`s the

second time the president has said Rex Tillerson is dumb as a rock.  In

December of last year, the president said “Rex Tillerson doesn`t have the

mental capacity needed.  He was dumb as a rock and I couldn`t get rid of

him fast enough.  He was lazy as hell.”  The president said that after Rex

Tillerson described Donald Trump in a “CBS” interview in December.




REX TILLERSON:  A man who is pretty undisciplined, doesn`t like to read,

doesn`t read briefing reports, doesn`t like to get into the details of a

lot of things but rather just kind of says look, this is what I believe.




O`DONNELL:  Donald Trump revived the dumb as a rock accusation today

against Rex Tillerson after the “Washington Post” reported that Rex

Tillerson met in a closed-door session with the House Foreign Affairs

Committee for seven hours.


We spent a lot of time in the conversation talking about how Putin seized

every opportunity to push what he wanted, a committee aide said.  There was

a discrepancy in preparation and it created an unequal footing.


Rex Tillerson was describing a meeting he attended with the president and

Vladimir Putin in Hamburg, Germany.  Andrew Weiss, a Russia scholar at the

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told the “Washington Post”,

“Putin is a very nimble adversary who`s been at this for 20 years now.  The

Hamburg meeting sounds like it was one of Putin`s wildest dreams.  A

freewheeling backroom style conversation with the U.S. president.”  The

president has told us how he prepares for meetings like that.




TRUMP:  I`m very well prepared.  I don`t think I have to prepare very much.




O`DONNELL:  In his seven hours with the House Foreign Affairs Committee,

Rex Tillerson said he and President Trump do not share the same “value

system.”  The “Washington Post” reports, when asked to describe Trump`s

values, Tillerson said, “I cannot.”


That reporting in the “Washington Post” by John Hudson and Josh Dawsey not

surprisingly got a response from the president today on Twitter, of course. 

The president tweeted “Rex Tillerson, a man who is dumb as a rock and

totally ill-prepared and ill-equipped to be secretary of state made up a

story, he got fired, that I was out prepared by Vladimir Putin at a meeting

in Hamburg, Germany.  I don`t think Putin would agree.  Look at how the

U.S. is doing”, exclamation point.


We have no response yet to that tweet from Rex Tillerson but we have every

right to imagine that his private reaction is something along the lines of

what he said while he was serving as Donald Trump`s secretary of state

after Donald Trump left a meeting one day at the Pentagon.  Rex Tillerson

was reported on this network at that time and then later in Bob Woodward`s

book to have offered what for him was a complete description of Donald

Trump in only two words.


Here is the scene as described in Bob Woodward`s book “Fear.”  Just after

President Trump walked out of a Pentagon meeting about North Korea.


Trump got up and walked out.  All the air seemed to have come out of

Tillerson.  He could not abide by Trump`s attack on the generals.  The

president was speaking as if the U.S. military was a mercenary force for



If a country wouldn`t pay us to be there, then we didn`t want to be there. 

As if there were no American interests in forging and keeping a peaceful

world order.  As if the American organizing was money.


“Are you OK?”, Gary Cohn asked him.  He`s an f-ing moron Tillerson said so

everyone heard.  And now everyone has heard it again.  Rex Tillerson gets

tonight`s last word.








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