Trump gives Barr sweeping powers. TRANSCRIPT: 5/24/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Yes.
DANO WALL, DESIGNER: – how she was going to be on the $20 bill –
WALL: – and I think it`s a good entry point into talking about
REID: I think Marie Kondo, I say it also, sparks joy. I like it. I`m going
to be spending Tubman`s. Got a change for a Tubman? Dano Wall, designer of
the 3D printed Harriet Tubman stamp. Thank you so much for your time.
WALL: Thank you.
REID: Appreciate it. And that does it for us tonight. Rachel Maddow will
be back here on Monday. And you can catch me this weekend on “A.M. JOY” at
10:00 a.m. My special guest on Sunday will be Valerie Jarrett, President
Obama`s long-time senior advisor and she has some thoughts on the Tubman
Now it`s time for “THE LAST WORD.” Ali Velshi is in for Lawrence tonight.
Good evening Ali, and have you got a change for a Tubman?
ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: That is wild. That is wild. You know what, change
for a Tubman should be like for five 50s or something like that.
REID: How would you? You should get more money back.
VELSHI: I`ve been in this business 25 years, most of it as a financial and
economic journalist and I`ve never thought about something your guest said,
currency by virtue of its ubiquity has the power to spread ideas. Never
thought about that before your guest said that.
REID: Absolutely. There`s almost nothing you`ve never thought of. So I
actually give him – Dano gets a point tonight.
VELSHI: I am in amazement. Thank you, Joy –
REID: Thank you. Have a great show.
VELSHI: – as always, I look forward to seeing you this weekend.
VELSHI: I`m Ali Velshi in for Lawrence O`Donnell. Ahead this hour, the
anatomy of a smear campaign. We`re going to look at the right`s coordinated
attack on Nancy Pelosi via a doctored video, a video that was even tweeted
out by the president.
Also, debunking Trump`s treason claims, the president has thrown around the
word treason a lot lately, but it`s not entirely clear that he knows what
it means. But first, the impeachment calls are growing.
Tonight, NBC News counts 38 House Democrats who support at least opening an
impeachment inquiry against President Trump. Of those 38 House Democrats,
10 are on the judiciary committee. And of course, this week, one House
Republican, Michigan Congressman Justin Amash joined the call for
That means a little less than 10 percent of the entire House currently
supports impeaching the president. The dam has clearly started to break on
the left as Democrats grow increasingly outraged at the Trump
administration for thumbing its noses at Congress` oversight efforts.
But will that lone Republican, Justine Amash, be the start of the dam
breaking on the right? It seems former Missouri Congressman Tom Coleman
wants to put some more cracks in that dam. Coleman, a lifelong Republican
served in the House for nearly two decades. And in a new op-ed, he writes
that the both President Trump and Vice President Pence are illegitimate and
calls for them to be impeached.
Coleman says “Because DOJ regulations put a president above the law while
in office, I believe the only viable option available is for the House of
Representatives under Article 22 Section 4 of the Constitution to open its
own investigation, hold public hearings and then determine if they should
pursue removal of the president through impeachment.
There`s a trove of evidence in the Mueller report indicating that Trump has
committed multiple impeachable offenses including abuse of power and lie
together American public, both were part of the articles an of impeachment
brought against President Richard Nixon.”
That doesn`t tip some Republicans over the edge, maybe the president giving
his attorney general sweeping new powers to investigate his perceived
political enemies might do the trick. That was the big news last night when
Trump gave William Barr “full and complete authority to declassify
intelligence gathered as part of the Russia investigation.” Trump made it
quite clear why he gave Barr this power.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I declassified everything,
everything they want. I put it under the auspices of the attorney general.
He`s going to be in charge of it. He`s a great gentleman and a highly
respected man. So everything that they need is declassified and they`ll be
able to see how this hoax – how the hoax or witch hunt started and why it
started. It was an attempted coup or an attempted take-down of the
president of the United States.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Of course, the Russia investigation was not an attempted coup to
take down the president of the United States, but Trump wants you to think
that. And he seems to have an idea where his attorney general should look
to prove this false coup theory.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I hope he looks at the U.K. and I hope he looks at Australia, and I
hope he looks at Ukraine. I hope he looks at everything because there was a
hoax that was perpetrated on our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Now, there are big questions tonight about how this move will
impact the intelligence community and whether it would have a chilling
effect on classified sources who fear being exposed. And we have one other
question about this move from the president.
Trump has said he won`t work with Democrats while they continue their
inquiries into the Russia investigation so why is he allowing his attorney
general to continue an inquiry into the Russia investigation?
Leading off our discussion tonight are Democratic Congressman Joe Neguse of
Colorado. He`s a member of the House Judiciary Committee. Margaret Carlson
is a columnist for “The Daily Beast” and Tom Nichols is a national security
expert and former Republican Senate staff member. Welcome to all of you.
Thank you for joining me on a Friday night.
Congressman, let`s start with you. Where do you stand on how Democrats
should proceed with respect to the president?
REP. JOE NEGUSE (D-CO): Thank you, Ali, for having me on. I support
opening an impeachment inquiry. I, like many colleagues believe that the
findings, detailed in the Special Counsel`s report made clear that the
president engaged in impeachable conduct.
And I think the findings coupled with really the pattern of wholesale
obstruction of Congress that this administration has been engaged for the
better part of the last two months as the judiciary committee has tried to
do it`s important investigatory and oversight work.
It certainly made clear to me that an inquiry and opening an inquiry is
warranted. And so, I`ve joined many of my colleagues earlier this week in
stating the same.
VELSHI: Margaret, the president seems to have moved forward. He`s been
carrying on about hoaxes and no collusion and we`ve learned that William
Barr seems to be conspiring with the president to make sure these messages
get out first.
But this new call for the declassification and investigation into the
investigators is going to having an effect that many intelligence officials
tell me could be quite chilling and dangerous for democracy.
MARGARET CARLSON, COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, indeed it will. It`s
going to be interesting to see how far William Barr will go in supporting
the president. I noticed that DNI Dan Coats today produced his own hostage
tape just as the aides in the White House did yesterday by saying that the
president was completely calm, not a bit upset one after another in the
So, Dan Coats today said that it was fine that what William Barr was about
to embark on declassifying this information, revealing sources and methods,
opening up people abroad to being, you know, captured, killed, you know.
These are undercover people that rely on secrecy and they rely on us here
keeping it that way. Dan Coats once spoke out against Trump not exactly
against him, but you`ll remember that Aspen security forum where he found
out that Trump had invited Putin to the White House.
VELSHI: Andrea Mitchell was interviewing him and mentioned that to him
while he was on stage.
CARLSON: Right. And he was shocked by it. And this was after saying he had
no idea what had happened at the prior Putin/Trump meeting because there
was no one present. So maybe Coats will be, and he said isn`t that special.
I mean, he actually reacted. So maybe Dan Coats is the person who is going
to stop this at some point because it will go too far.
VELSHI: Tom, let`s talk about what Dan Coats said as part of his
commentary that Margaret was just talking about. He said, “As part of the
process, I`m confident that the attorney general will work with the
intelligence community in accordance with the long established standards to
protect highly sensitive classified information that if publicly released
would put our national security at risk. The intelligence community will
continue to faithfully execute its mission of providing timely, apolitical
intelligence to the president and policymakers.”
To Margaret`s point, Tom, that Dan Coats had to say that suspects he
doesn`t actually believe that this is safe in the hands of the attorney
TOM NICHOLS, NATIONAL SECURITY EXPERT: Yes, when someone in Washington
says I trust that someone will do this, that`s a way of saying do it this
way. The Coats` statement was interesting because it`s had long established
practices. In other words, we`re not going to go cowboy on this. We`re not
going to start just throwing things out there because they happen to be
And it tells you something about where William Barr`s reputation is right
about now, that people are worried that he`s going to do that, that someone
who once had a great deal of credibility and was regarded as somebody who
had a great deal of probity is now basically getting a shot across the bow
from other parts of the executive branch saying don`t go crazy with
classified material just because you need to go to the wall for the
president`s political interests.
VELSHI: Congressman Neguse, this is problematic in the rear-view mirror
when looking at what happened between 2016 and now, but James Comey tweeted
today, “Investigate what you wish about 2016 but don`t forget the people of
the FBI must investigate and stop Russian efforts in the 2020 election.
What impact will loose talk about spying and disgraceful talk about treason
have on FBI agents and analysts?”
And I put that to you, congressman, because there`s got to be a chilling
effect of this kind of investigation on anybody in the FBI, the CIA or
anyone else in American intelligence who is looking into or thinking of
looking into any sort of interference that might favor the president right
NEGUSE: I think that`s right, Ali. I think that former director Comey
articulated it well. I worry a great deal about the chilling effect it will
have on folks in the intelligence community, on the civil servants who are
protecting us each and every day.
Let`s not forget that a foreign adversary interfered significantly in
systemic fashion in 2016 in our elections. They will do it again and, you
know, what I would say is I don`t think that the president`s order is going
to have a chilling effect on the Congress. That I can assure you at least,
with respect to the Democratic House.
I think we`re fully committed to defending the rule of law and taking the
steps that we need to take to preserve the sanctity and the security of our
elections next year. But I mean, again, I would say that this is a
dangerous time for our country.
I worry a great deal when you watch the audio or the video clip yesterday
of the president talking about treason and so forth, I think a lot of these
can get lost in the noise and news of the day, but the idea that that kind
of language has been normalized now should really trouble each and every
And, of course, now, the president going beyond just mere words and
actually effectuating his plans and action in terms of issuing an
unprecedented order providing his attorney general with unfettered
discretion to declassify anything and everything sources and methods and so
forth. It should, as I said, trouble each and every American. It certainly
troubles me as a member of Congress and I believe many of my colleagues.
VELSHI: Tom, it`s very hard to watch this happen because you`ve got the
president saying things and there are a lot of Americans who believe that
the institutions are there to protect them from this, whether it`s Congress
or the courts or intelligence agencies or law enforcement or institutions
like the Department of Justice.
And a number of people, as you just commented, are surprised to see that
William Barr appeared to be a willing participant in the president`s
disinformation campaign about the Mueller report and now seems to be
willing to go down this road. Congressman Neguse seems committed to try to
stand in the president`s way on this one, but what can Congress or anybody
else do about it at this point?
NICHOLS: Congress has its full range of Article I powers to investigate
and to engage in oversight, but I think you`re fighting against a narrative
that is being pushed consistently and with great discipline, which is
unusual for this White House which usually has no message discipline, to
use words like spying for things like counter intelligence investigations.
Barr, the attorney general – the president may not know the difference,
but the attorney general certainly knows the difference. And the fact that
they`re using this kind of language is intentional, it`s meant to push a
narrative and I agree with the congressman. It`s destructive and it`s
dangerous and it`s wrong to do it because it`s misleading people and I
think it`s corroding trust in our institutions at a time when again, we`re
going to be under attack again in 2020.
VELSHI: Margaret, the president has said he is not at the remarkable
meeting that occurred ostensibly about infrastructure earlier this week in
which the president sort of walked out and then held a press conference
about how he cannot do anything with Congress while they continue to
investigate. At some point, Tom`s got a point. They`ve got messaging
discipline at least this week in the White House. Where does it lead?
CARLSON: Well, but it`s not a very good message. I mean, Trump says he`s
on strike until he gets his way. It`s like saying I want to own the
government shutdown and he did. Anytime he comes up against Speaker Pelosi,
I don`t think he comes out ahead on that message.
You know, the danger here – haven`t we been looking for someone in the
Senate who is not retiring, who is going to stand up to Trump? We haven`t
found that person, but mostly, they go along. But what`s happened now is
that Trump has found his fixer in William Barr.
He now has not just somebody who is going to let him do things. He`s got an
accomplice who is bringing it about. So I see Dan Coats as the person who
stands between us and you know, the FBI has already been injured by Trump.
Now it will be the CIA. And there`s no one in the Senate that I see coming
forward now to do anything about it. And we have a rogue attorney general.
VELSHI: The attorney general, congressman, is doing the president`s
bidding on this one. We saw a few days ago, the Treasury Secretary, Steve
Mnuchin, again disregarding a Congressional request and subpoena for
information. You said you`ll do everything in your power. At some point,
your power seems to be coming up against what are going to end up being
NEGUSE: Well, first let me just say, Ali, I agree with Margaret`s point
and Margaret actually wrote a really good article about a month and a half
ago that warned about this precise point that you would have an attorney
general untethered in terms of actually discharging his duties in an
impartial way and instead –
CARLSON: I`m so sorry I turned out to be right.
VELSHI: Yes, no kidding.
NEGUSE: As am I. But look, I mean, we saw this a month and a half ago.
Let`s not forget, this is the same attorney general that be engaged in
gross misrepresentations with respect to the Special Counsel`s findings,
which created I think a fog of confusion around what the Special Counsel
concluded and did not conclude.
It was why the investigation of the judiciary committee was engaged in and
in so critically important and why we believe that it`s important for
ultimately the committee and the American people to hear from the Special
Counsel and other witnesses.
But look, I don`t disagree with you, Ali. Obviously, a lot of these battles
are going to be fought in the courts. As I said, I think that opening a
formal inquiry would be the appropriate and prudent next step given the
gravity of the situation we find ourselves in.
So, I think that the Congress still has many tools at its disposal and I
haven`t lost faith in the Congress, nor should the American people. We`re
dedicated to defending the rule of law in this country. That`s something
the American people can have confidence in.
VELSHI: Congressman, thank you for your time tonight. Congressman Joe
Neguse, Tom Nichols and Margaret Carlson, who has been writing in about
things and been right about it for a very long time now. Thank you all
three of you for joining me on a Friday night.
CARLSON: Thanks, Ali. Good night. Happy weekend.
VELSHI: Donald Trump has been making wild claims that the former head of
the FBI and others committed treason as viewers of this program know, that
is not and actually cannot be true.
We`re going to do a fact check on that and we`ll talk with presidential
historian Jon Meacham about the commander-in-chief making such grave
accusations. Later, we`ll take a deep dive into the attacks on Nancy Pelosi
via distorted video, how fake videos are spreading in the conservative
social media space and what it means for the future especially the
(inaudible) presidential campaign.
VELSHI: Donald Trump has been making accusations of treason for months,
but it appears the president is finally facing widespread criticism for
saying that former FBI officials, naming them specifically, were involved
with investigating his campaign and committed treason.
He did it again on Thursday, but it isn`t clear that the president
understands what treason actually is or just how serious the accusation is
especially when it comes from the president. Here is the exchange the
president had with NBC`s Peter Alexander on Thursday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER ALEXANDER, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Sir, the constitution
says treason is punishable by death. You`ve accused your adversaries of
treason. Who specifically are you accusing of treason?
TRUMP: Well, I think a number of people and I think what you look is that
they have unsuccessfully tried to take down the wrong person.
ALEXANDER: Who are you speaking of?
TRUMP: If you look at Comey, if you look at McCabe, if you look at
probably people higher than that, if you look at Strzok.
They want an insurance policy so that should she for any reason lose,
remember, 100 million to one, maybe he said 100 million to nothing, but
should she lose we`ll have an insurance policy and we`ll get this guy out
of office. That`s what they said and that`s what they meant. That`s
treason. That`s treason.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: No, that`s not treason. As viewers of this program know for
months, Lawrence O`Donnell has challenged the president`s accusations of
treason. Here`s Lawrence back in February.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: It is actually impossible to commit
treason against the government of the United States today because we do not
have a specified enemy in a declared war. The Constitution specifies
“treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war
against them or in adhering to their enemies giving them aid and comfort.”
The Supreme Court has interpreted that to mean that it is only possible to
commit treason during a war that is authorized by a Congressional
declaration of war. The last time the United States fought a declared war,
declared by Congress was World War II. And that is why the last time an
American was charged with and convicted of treason was World War II.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: This is a perfect night for a historian. Jon Meacham is one of the
best this country has. He`s a historian and an author with Tim McGraw of
“Songs of America” to be published June 10th and countless other books.
Jon, notwithstanding, this is for another night, the discussion about the
fact that America is not at war and has not been officially at war since
World War II. So we get ourselves into a lot of fights in the world without
actually declaring war and having an enemy.
So, Lawrence`s point is well taken, but Conor Friedersdorf in “The
Atlantic” wrote about how the Framers of the Constitution were particularly
worried about presidents falsely charging treason and in it he writes, “The
Framers were guarding against the possibility that Americans would one day
elect a man so morally weak and corrupt that he would falsely accuse
political enemies of treason.
Congress and the judiciary have a constitutional duty to check his abuses
of power and the public has a patriotic duty to oust him from office.”
Whatever you think the conclusion should be to this, the fact is, treason
is not meant for your political opponents.
JON MEACHAM, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: No, and this is a case where once
again, the founders for all of their sins, for all of their omissions, for
all of their derelictions, the journey they put us on toward a more perfect
union is vindicated exactly by this particular moment.
The reason that treason is the only crime specifically defined in the
constitution and the second part of that article of that element is that it
requires witnesses to an overt act or a confession in open court. So, why
so specific? Because they were afraid of kings or monarchs doing exactly
what the president`s doing because they had done it. It was based on
experience. It was based on anxiety about the worst parts of the English
The other thing to remember is all the folks who were doing the framing in
Philadelphia in 1787 and the debating, most of them over the ratification,
could have been accused of treason exactly by the, you know, King Donald
III if he had been around as a member of the House of Hanover in the 18th
century. So, the legislative history, if you will, the thinking that led
into this was precisely about this kind of moment.
Now, you sort of asked rhetorically does the president or maybe Lawrence
did, does the president know what he`s talking about? No, he doesn`t know
what he`s talking about. He`s using a term very loosely. I`ve used the term
loosely inaccurately and I spend the time thinking about this stuff.
So, that`s easy to do if you`re just – with a slip of the tongue. What
Donald Trump has done this week and in many other cases is not a slip of
the tongue. It`s an attempt to stoke fear, it`s an attempt to take his
opponents and put them in the un-American category. And the last time we
went through a system, a moment where we put people in an un-American
category was the McCarthy era. And we know how well that turned out.
VELSHI: So, it was un-American then and what the language the president is
using in addition to treason is coup and attempted overthrow. So there`s a
language here that is meant to imply and suggest that people who either
were doing their job as members of the FBI or even if you take the
president at his word and were against him and political opponents.
He continues to say that, and others can debate that, but the fact is even
if you took him at his word, the penalty in the United States code, Section
2381 for treason, five years in prison up to the death penalty, $10,000
plus and a fine and disqualified from holding public office.
The point is, the president is trying to make people think that political
opponents are criminals who are attempting to overthrow the elected
president of the United States in something that feels like a coup.
MEACHAM: He`s criminalizing dissent. And on one level, with the FBI folks,
he`s attempting rhetorically to criminalize the execution and mechanics of
the rule of law. It`s not a heck of a lot more complicated than that.
The folks he mentioned this week, Comey and McCabe, these are FBI agents.
These are sworn officers of the United States who we can debate about
whether they did the right thing or not. But what he`s trying to do and
it`s fairly straightforward, and it has worked so far.
He is the president of the United States, is he`s using a charged term to
create a sense of anxiety and paranoia in order to get his supporters in a
place where ascent for Trump is a patriotic act. And by doing so, he is
throwing 243 years or so of constitutional history away.
And that`s a precious thing. And the Framers had this right, the Framers
had this right. They were worried about demagogues. They were worried about
exactly this kind of person.
VELSHI: Do you have examples – you mentioned, you know, when we made
dissent un-American, do you have examples where presidents went this far in
suggesting that thing that were political, inherently political or
investigative acts were potentially criminal or treasonous?
You know, there`s always been presidents who have thought people are
against them and in some cases they`ve been right. But do we have examples
of how to deal with this?
MEACHAM: The best example I think is from the early reconstruction era. It
was the impeachment of Andrew Johnson. And I`m not trying to make this a
neat package here. But in fact, the way the country handled it in 1867,
`68, when you had a president who was trying to undo the verdict of the
civil war, who was lashed out as congressional opponents, trafficked
Andrew Johnson gave a speech, I think it was on Washington`s birthday
shortly after he became president, where he just lashes out at everyone and
it`s eerily resonant with what we`re seeing now. And the answer for the
Republicans then, the party of Lincoln, remember Johnson had gone on the
ticket as a wartime active conciliation. He was really a Democrat.
The Republicans in Congress from 1865 to 1868 were trying to find a way to
undo the work of Johnson who opposed the 14th and 15th amendments, who
vetoed Civil Rights Bill, who vetoed the Freedmen`s Bureau Bill, an
incredibly important legislation that was trying to apply the verdict of
the civil war. He was trying to undo that.
And what happened was congress decided that impeachment was in fact the way
to go forward. I suspect as Mark Twain is reputed to have said, history may
not repeat itself but it does rhyme, and I suspect that`s where we`re
VELSHI: Jon, thank you for joining me tonight. Jon Meacham. Coming up “The
Washington Post” tech reporter who broke the story about the distorted
video of Nancy Pelosi that has been spreading on conservative social media
is going to join us. What does this mean for the spread of fake news
especially at the start of a presidential campaign?
VELSHI: Over the past 24 hours, President Trump and his allies have
engaged in what can only be described as a loosely coordinated smear
campaign against the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.
On Thursday night, the Trump supporting Fox Business show “Lou Dobbs
Tonight” aired a heavily edited video of Pelosi appearing to stumble
repeatedly during a press conference from the same day. President Trump
then tweeted that video to his 60 million Twitter followers with the
caption, “Pelosi stammers through news conference.”
Many public officials occasionally stutter while speaking extemporaneously,
even cable news hosts including yours truly, do it from time to time. So
instead of showing you the edited video without context, here`s a version
of that video broken down to show you the context of what Pelosi was
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We had a little long on
the floor. Sorry for the delay. We had a little – took longer on the
floor than I had anticipated. Custody of the border patrol. It`s
important to note that in the ten years before this, not a single child
died in the custody of the border patrol.
Everyone – started making – sending signals that the plan was as we
agreed at the meetings a few weeks ago, the president was to present his
proposals at yesterday`s meeting. Well, everyone – he started making –
sending signals that he may not be – he might not be ready or interested.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Now, it would be one thing if the President of the United States
had simply tweeted an out of context video clip of a cable news show. But
that tweet came at the same time a broader social media campaign to
misrepresent Nancy Pelosi was under way.
As the “Washington Post” reports distorted videos of House Speaker Nancy
Pelosi altered to make her sound as if she`s drunkenly slurring her words
have been spreading rapidly across social media. One such video had been
viewed over 2 million times by Thursday night and was shared by none other
than the President`s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.
Here again is a side by side comparison of that video against Pelosi`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: We want to give this President had the opportunity to have
something historic for our country. We want to give this President the
opportunity to do something historic for our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Unlike that, by the way. Giuliani later deleted the post sharing
that video but did not offer an apology. And today, the President
furthered the effort to the smear Pelosi in comments to reporters on the
White House lawn.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, what do you hope to accomplish with your
personal attacks on the speaker? You`re saying lost is, you`re –
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: Excuse me. This just shows how
fake you and the news are. When you say a personal attack, did you hear
what she said about me long before I went after her? Did you hear? She
made horrible statements. She knows they`re not true. She made – she
said terrible things. So I just responded in kind.
Look, you think Nancy`s the same as she was? She`s not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Drew Harwell of the Washington Post who first reported on the
altered Pelosi videos and columnist Ana Marie Cox will join me to discuss
how Trump`s campaign against Pelosi mirrors the fake news attacks against
former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and what it could say about
Trump`s tactics for the 2020 race. That`s next.
VELSHI: Over the past 24 hours, fake videos of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
that have been altered to make her appear impaired have been widely
circulated on social media. The President and his favorite news channel
have been all too willing to amplify that message.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: Number one, when you cannot produce a
coherent thought, maybe it`s time to hang it up. Yesterday Pelosi seemed
to struggle with the whole subject, verb, direct object thing.
GREGG JARRETT, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: She could not put a subject with a
predicate in the same sentence. What`s going on?
Trump: Look, do you think Nancy`s the same as she was? She`s not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Joining me now Drew Harwell, a National Technology Reporter for
the Washington Post who first reported the altered videos and Ana Marie
Cox, the Host of the podcast “With Friends Like These”. Thank you to both
of you for being here in time with me.
Drew, let me start with you on the technology of this. We have heard about
deep fakes for some time where you can completely concoct something that
someone was saying, and that takes not a ton of technological know-how but
more than I have. These so-called cheap fakes take virtually none. I
could probably have edited that Nancy Pelosi video on my phone to slow down
her speech. How prevalent is this and how dangerous can it be?
DREW HARWELL, NATIONAL TECHNOLOGY REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: I think
it`s becoming more prevalent and I think its subtlety makes it just that
much more dangerous because it really doesn`t take a ton of labor to create
a video that seems very convincing and can fool enough people, and can
maybe help your side win political points.
And you`re seeing this especially now with social media. It`s just so easy
for anyone to really put something out there that is totally
unsubstantiated, totally bogus and, you know, be able to potentially
influence people, change their minds, change their perceptions about
somebody like speaker Pelosi just by slowing down the video and getting it
out there on Facebook.
VELSHI: Ana Marie, I mean, if somebody slowed down video of me by two-
thirds, I might talk at a normal speed. But there`s something about this
that`s insidious. I want to play you a little bit more of what Laura
Ingraham said on her show last night about Nancy Pelosi.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
INGRAHAM: Both Joe Biden, the 2020 front-runner and Speaker Pelosi are not
just out of step with the American people on key issues. To watch them, to
observe them, we see that they`ve kind of lost a step or two or three,
period. I mean, they look like they belong in commercials or visiting
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Wow. But we saw those stuff with Hillary Clinton in the 2016
campaign. In fact, you can still find it on far right media. There are
all of these theories and videos about how sick Hillary Clinton is and the
diseases she`s got and the fact that she`s likely to last a couple of weeks
all the way back from 2016.
ANA MARIE COX, PODCAST HOST, WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE: Yes. I feel like
we`re living in a really horrible mash-up of Groundhog Day, Black Mirror
and Handmaid`s Tale.
VELSHI: Yes, that`s good.
COX: Like all the worst of those things, a repetitive dystopia,
misogynistic dystopia. I guess in certain extent like the dystopias are
always misogynistic and repetitive. But definitely, like you`re seeing
them go back to the same playbook they use for Hillary Clinton to
definitely go against Nancy Pelosi. I don`t know.
If I were them, I would be careful about trying to say that someone being
articulate or not is a qualification for President. Like I know we should
not do turn around is fair play but, you know, two can play that game.
In fact, that is the may be the real problem here. Something that Giuliani
said about his video, his tweeting out that video that I don`t think has
gotten enough attention. He`s saying it would be hypocritical to make a
big deal out of this. After all, she was the one who is making a direct
criticism of the President`s competence and I don`t think that`s something
good Americans should do.
COX: That is the thing that I think is a really dangerous statement. It`s
not just that video. It`s the idea we shouldn`t question, right? That`s a
VELSHI: I will say – I wasn`t going to bring it up. But since you
brought Giuliani up, I`m going to put up a tweet that he put out after
deleting the tweet about Nancy Pelosi suggesting that she was inebriated.
I can`t even really read it because it`s kind of impossible to read.
I mean, if you were – when you`re tweeting about somebody being a little
incapacitated or not using proper terminology or grammar, take a look at
this tweet. That one is – it ends with the word are, A-R-E. We`re not
quite sure what that`s about.
Let me ask you, Drew, this stuff is still up there. In fact, if you go to
Facebook right now, you can find it. Why?
HARWELL: Because Facebook says they`re not going to take it down. They
have never wanted to be the arbiter of truth. They say that their policies
allow false things to go on to Facebook all the time. So they have
declined to take down a video that is, you know, proven false by many
people. And so millions of people are watching it, probably people are
watching it right now.
And, you know, I think it`s going to be an issue as we get closer to 2020.
This is a platform that a ton of people in America get their news from.
This is where people find their friends and family on. And yet, there`s no
real interest from the company that runs it in insuring that the dialogue
is healthy or at least based off the same set of facts.
You know, this video takes off and is fueled by Facebook`s technology,
Facebook`s architecture. Facebook allows videos like this to spread so
quickly. And the velocity of those and, you know, when we`re talking about
videos that are just totally bogus, I think that`s going to be something
we`re really questioning as – is this healthy for our democracy, is this
something we really want to support.
VELSHI: Drew Harwell, thank you for your reporting on this. Ana Marie
stays with us. Because the fight over the Alabama abortion law is headed
to court, the ACLU and Planned Parenthood sued the state today. But
tonight, a federal judge in Mississippi said the so-called heartbeat law in
the state could not be enforced. That`s next.
VELSHI: Here we go again. That was the reaction today from a federal
judge in Mississippi who struck down the state`s new six-week abortion ban
In November, Judge Carlton Reeves blocked an earlier attempt by Mississippi
lawmakers to ban abortion after 15 weeks because it infringed upon women`s
rights. Today Judge Reeves ruled the new ban prevents a woman`s free
choice, which is central to personal dignity and autonomy. This injury
outweighs any interest the state might have in banning abortions after the
detection of a fetal heartbeat.
Now, this comes on the same Missouri`s Republican Governor Mike Parson`s
signed into law a bill making abortion illegal after 8 weeks of pregnancy
except in cases where there is serious health risk to the pregnant women.
Like the bill passed in Alabama last week, Missouri`s bill does not include
exception for cases of rape or incest. Doctors who perform the procedure
could be charge with a felony and face up to 15 years in prison.
The ACLU and Planned Parenthood vowed to stop the law from going into
effect in August, and the St. Louis Post dispatch reports that conservative
donor David Humphreys is planning to bankroll a ballot initiative in 2020
seeking to undo the changes. Missouri is now the sixth state that this –
this year, has passed legislation restricting abortion access. Alabama`s
ban is the most restrictive in the nation outlawing apportion at every
stage of pregnancy.
This morning, the ACLU and Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit challenging
Alabama`s law and these efforts are part of a broader assault on women`s
rights from Republican state lawmakers who stated that their goal is to
bring a new legal fight before a more conservative Supreme Court in an
effort to overturn Roe v. Wade.
But a new CBS News poll shows that 67 percent of Americans want the Supreme
Court to keep Roe v. Wade as it is, and thousands took to the streets in
cities across the country on Tuesday to protest the onslaught of extreme
abortion bans by Republicans.
After the break we`ll discuss the fight to protect women`s rights with Ana
Marie Cox, was working on a month-long podcast series about abortion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is an issue for all
people. It`s about the rights of all people.
SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We deserve basic
human rights in this country. We deserve civil rights in this country. We
deserve autonomy for our body in this country.
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are here to say
enough is enough, we`re going to fight you and we`re going to win.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: At the stop the bans protest on Tuesday, Democratic presidential
candidates vowed to take on Republicans and Donald Trump in 2020 to protect
women`s rights. Ana Marie Cox is back with us. She is working on a month-
long podcast series about abortion. Ana Marie, good to see you back here.
VICE news obtained documents of GOP secret talking points to get national
Republicans to defend in particular the Alabama law, one that most people
are calling the harshest of the laws. Let me just read an excerpt from the
“Conservative leaders are urging members to defend the Alabama law, using
the justification that an abortion would be committing more violence
against a woman who was raped or survived incest. Committing a second
violent act with abortion to a woman who has already been victimized by an
act of rape or incest could physically or psychologically wound her
further,” the document states. “Every single child should be afforded the
opportunity to live regardless of how they were conceived. The guidance
divides that Alabama`s law is a bold new pro-life legislation.
Unfortunately the media is attempting to use new developments to create
gotcha moments for Republicans and divide within our party,” it states.
Tell me what you think of that.
COX: Well, I think, first of all, we should make very clear that there is
no scientific evidence to back up the fact that there are psychological
damage incurred upon a woman who gets an apportion. In fact, of the
studies that we have most show that women tend to, if not, actually be
grateful for the fact they got an abortion, to consider it something they
did. They don`t have like an opinion one way or another on. It was
something they did for in re health at some point in their life.
And in feed, one-third of women in America will get an abortion as at some
point during their reproductive life. And that actually gets me to sort of
my larger point here, which is that as much as I like to see women who
believe in reproductive justice standing up to these very draconian laws,
and as bad as a look I think it is to defend these laws, the freedom of
choice has been under attack for decades in this state.
And in Mississippi in particular like over 90 percent of the women in
Mississippi live in a county without an abortion provider. There`s only
two abortion providers in the entire state. The abortion rate is a third
than it is at the national level.
One-third of the women of child bearing age in Mississippi, if they want an
abortion they had to travel 25 miles each way. Mississippi requires an
ultrasound, requires counseling, it requires a waiting period. Those are
all things that if you care about woman`s right to choose, you should be
marching in the streets about knows as well.
I mean, it`s in some ways, you know, it is cathartic to see the fight be
about these incredibly extreme bills, but there`s a part of me that feels
like those fights might not last very long. I don`t think the Supreme
Court is going to go in that direction. Instead, what I think is a longer
term problem is the chipping away at Roe. Because as I`m sure you know,
there is no affirmative right to reproductive justice.
COX: You know, it`s something that is just implied. And so it`s hard to
VELSHI: And it`s happening in state after state. There are upward of 30
states that have imposed some restrictions. They just don`t look like
Alabama`s or Mississippi`s or Missouri`s.
COX: Right. And again, I think that if you want to put on marching shoes
you probably should put on marching shoes and go to your state capitol,
because most states have enacted these kinds of laws, they are called trap
laws. And they are designed to limit the opportunities that a woman has to
do reproductive health not just abortions by the way, reproductive health
in general gets hurt when these laws enacted.
VELSHI: That`s right. Ana Marie Cox, good to see you again. Thank you
for joining us tonight.
And that`s LAST WORD – tonight`s LAST WORD, “THE 11TH Hour WITH BRIAN
WILLIAMS” starts right now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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 content.>
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