Rep. Katie Porter discusses impeachment. TRANSCRIPT: 5/30/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.

Guests:
Katie Porter; Jeff Daniels
Transcript:

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

 

Because of you ever breaking news, I`ve had to change a number in a script

here from 50 to 51 because Congressman Mike Quigley on your show just

announced that he is now in favor of impeachment proceedings. 

 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, “TRMS”:  Yes.  And he explained I thought in a

way that was very helpful talking about why he previously was not despite

the fact that he recognized the serious seriousness of what the president

was accused of and some of the seriousness of what had turned up before

that Intelligence Committee.  But what has turned him around on that in the

last couple of weeks, and I thought it was just really helpful to hear his

explanation of it. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Yes, and they are moving – here`s the number we don`t know. 

How many think exactly the same thing as Mike Quigley said to you tonight? 

And simply have not said it publicly yet? 

 

MADDOW:  Yes.

 

O`DONNELL:  There could be another 150 of them.  We don`t know.  Another

100, we don`t know. 

 

MADDOW:  And I think as committee chairs start to come out and now say

they`re on in train including the homeland security chairman who has now

come out and the rules chairman who`s now come out, that will – I mean,

you know as well as anybody how important the committees are in terms of

defining the internal structure of each caucus in Congress.  And with

committee chairs starting to come out despite their intense loyalty for

Nancy Pelosi, I think it may have knock on effects inside those committees

too. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Yes, the other mystery to this, Rachel, is we will not know in

the present tense, anyway, what Nancy Pelosi actually wants people to say

on a given day.  Even though she might not be there publicly, she might

actually want a few people per day or some rhythm to this breaking, and it

could all be something that she`s very much in control of in a certain

sense, participating in in a certain sense. 

 

MADDOW:  You know, and it`s interesting.  I just had Valerie Jarrett here

in part because I wanted to ask her about this issue just as somebody who

was, you know, Barack Obama`s top essentially political adviser, senior

White House adviser for both of his complete terms.  What she makes of the

Democrats and their thought process on this issue. 

 

And she was just very straightforward about it.  I trust Nancy Pelosi`s

decision on this.  She wasn`t saying I trust Nancy Pelosi to make sure this

doesn`t happen.  She was saying I believe that Nancy Pelosi will make the

right decision here.  And you hear that from Democrats in the House who

have a reason to say it. 

 

Valerie Jarrett, obviously, is out of the game now.  But I think that the

idea that Pelosi isn`t going to let this one off without her is probably a

wise assessment. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Thanks for breaking some news for us, Rachel, that we`re going

to use now in this hour. 

 

MADDOW:  Appreciate it.

 

O`DONNELL:  Thank you, Rachel. 

 

Well, today, the president finally said it, he said Russia helped me get

elected and he said it in writing in a tweet, of course.  We will get

Congresswoman Katie Porter`s reaction to that tonight.  Congresswoman

Porter is back with us after holding a town hall in her congressional

district in California today. 

 

Republican Congressman Justin Amash got standing ovations in his Republican

district in Michigan earlier this week after publicly announcing his

support for impeaching President Trump.  Congressman Amash is the only

Republican in Congress who supports impeachment, the only Republican in

Congress who takes the Mueller report seriously.  He is the only Republican

in Congress saying we can`t go on like this with a president committing

obstruction of justice. 

 

In American fiction, the enduring model of the one person trying to get

others in his community to see the light is Atticus Finch, created by

Harper Lee in her 1960 novel “To Kill A Mockingbird.”  Jeff Daniels is now

playing Atticus Finch on Broadway.  At the end of this hour, we will show

you some dramatic and moving moments from the play that will leave you no

doubt why Jeff Daniels is nominated for a Tony Award for his performance. 

 

Jeff Daniels will join us at the end of this hour to discuss why the

courage and strength of Atticus Finch in trying to lead people to do the

right thing resonates so powerfully with today`s audiences who are living

with today`s politics and yearning for something better and someone better. 

Jeff Daniels is as passionate and eloquent about today`s politics as

Atticus Finch is in the courtroom and so we feel very fortunate tonight

that Jeff Daniels will get the last word tonight. 

 

But first, we begin with a tweet that will definitely go down in history. 

Today, the president of the United States wrote in his diary that Russia

helped get him elected.  President Trump is the only president who makes

his diary public because he writes it on Twitter. 

 

This morning, the president tweeted: I had nothing to do with Russia

helping me to get elected. 

 

That is the first time the president has acknowledged what the rest of us

have known for a long time and what Robert Mueller documented in his

investigation, and in his report.  Russia helped Donald Trump get elected. 

 

Here is the way Robert Mueller described what the Russians did yesterday. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

ROBERT MUELLER, SPECIAL COUNSEL:  Russian intelligence officers who were

part of the Russian military launched a concerted attack on our political

system.  The indictment alleges that they used sophisticated cyber

techniques to hack into computers and networks used by the Clinton

campaign.  They stole private information and then released that

information through fake online and identities and through the organization

WikiLeaks.  The releases were designed and timed to interfere with our

election and to damage a presidential candidate. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  That`s how the Russians helped Donald Trump get elected.  In

our two-party system, when you damage one candidate, that means you are

working to help the other candidate.  And now, even Donald Trump admits

that Russia helped his presidential campaign, in writing. 

 

Shortly after he posted that tweet, Donald Trump corrected a typo in

another tweet that he posted at the same time.  So, Donald Trump had time

to reconsider his acknowledgement that will Russia helped get him elected,

and he just left it there and it`s still there in writing on Twitter right

now.  Donald Trump saying I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get

elected. 

 

After the president wrote that this morning, a White House reporter then

asked him, quote: Do you believe that Russia helped you get elected?  To

which the president, of course, said, quote: No.  Russia did not help me

get elected, end quote.  Because he is Donald Trump, which is to say he is

the only politician in our history and certainly the only president in our

history who can put something in writing, have plenty of time to correct

it, and choose not to correct it, leave it in writing, and then as soon as

he`s asked about it, say the opposite thing. 

 

White House reporters are so shell-shocked by this phenomenon that none of

them questioned the president any further on why he wrote that Russia

helped him to get elected.  The president was also asked in this morning. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REPORTER:  Do you think they`re going to impeach you? 

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I don`t see how they can

because they`re possibly allowed, although I can`t imagine the courts

allowing it. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  It would be impossible to find a more constitutionally

illiterate statement ever uttered by a president of the United States. 

Donald Trump is the first and only president who does not know that the

courts have nothing to do with impeachment.  Only the House of

Representatives can impeach a president of the United States and only the

United States Senate can have an impeachment trial after the House has

impeached the president and decide whether to remove that president from

office and no court can ever be involved in any part of that process. 

 

If the president loses the Senate trial and is removed from office by the

United States Senate, the president cannot appeal that will decision to the

Supreme Court or to any other court.  The president of the United States

actually woke up this morning believing that his United States Supreme

Court would not allow him to be impeached. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  I can`t imagine the courts allowing it. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Is that pure ignorance or is that a loosening grip on reality? 

 

That would have been the most shocking thing said by any previous president

but with Donald Trump it just flies by in a flurry of words which also

included this. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  To me, it`s a dirty word, the word “impeach”.  It`s a dirty,

filthy, disgusting word. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  That from the only president in history who has ever

deliberately said this into a microphone. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  It`s bullshit, OK?  It`s bullshit. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Donald Trump has never apologized for using dirty, filthy or

disgusting words when he was caught on a video recording describing his

favorite techniques for sexual assault. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  I`m automatically attracted to beautiful.  I just start kissing

them.  It`s like a magnet.  I don`t even wait.  When you`re a star, they

let you do it.  You can do anything.  Grab them by the (AUDIO DELETED) 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  After Robert Mueller said yesterday that he intended to make no

more public statements, the president decided it was safe today to attack

Robert Mueller since he knows that he can take Robert Mueller at his word

that Robert Mueller won`t make any public statements about Donald Trump

attacking him. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  I think he is a total conflicted person.  I think Mueller is a true

never Trumper.  He`s somebody that dislikes Donald Trump. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  If Robert Mueller is someone who dislikes Donald Trump, that

would put him in the majority of Americans, but what Donald Trump does not

know is that he is the only president who has ever been investigated by a

special prosecutor who is a member of the same political party as the

president.  Normally, special prosecutors and presidents are chosen from

the president`s opposing party deliberate lit as a way of proving their

independence, political independence from the president. 

 

But Republican president Donald Trump got a Republican special prosecutor,

and he still complains about that as only Donald Trump would.  After

Rachel`s show tonight, NBC News now counts that 51 members of the House of

Representatives, 50 Democrats and one Republican are now making public

statements in favor of the House starting an impeachment inquiry against

the president.  That number went up to 51 in the last hour as House

Intelligence Committee Member Mike Quigley announced his support for an

impeachment inquiry on “THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW”. 

 

Senator Elizabeth Warren was the first presidential candidate to support

impeachment immediately after the partially redacted Mueller report came

out six weeks ago. 

 

Today, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said this. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  No president is above

the law.  This president must be held accountable.  And I believe that the

judiciary committee should begin impeachment inquiries.  Inquiries, all

right? 

 

Now, that`s not impeachment.  That is to determine, that`s the first step,

to determine whether or not Trump has committed impeachable offenses. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Leading off our discussion tonight, John Heilemann, national

affairs analyst for NBC News and MSNBC.  He is co-host and executive

producer of Showtime`s “The Circus”. 

 

And Chuck Rosenberg is with us.  He`s a former senior FBI official, former

U.S. attorney and former counsel to Robert Mueller at the FBI.  He now

hosts the MSNBC podcast “The Oath.”

 

John Heilemann, Mike Quigley tonight the latest one among the Democrats to

come out in favor of impeachment.  It`s only moving in one direction. 

 

JOHN HEILEMANN, NBC NEWS & MSNBC NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST:  Yes. 

 

O`DONNELL:  We don`t get any louder Democratic voices resisting

impeachment. 

 

HEILEMANN:  Right.  There`s no – I mean, look, on any timeline that`s

meaningful, the only trajectory is up.  The question is what the velocity

of the trajectory is at this point. 

 

And, you know, we now with Bernie Sanders having I would say inevitably

capitulated 24 hours ago he was in a different place.  Today, he realized

that everyone who is in the beat here on of the Democratic field who is

trying to get some of his vote was to his left on this issue. 

 

The only one now really in the A or B tier who is not for starting

impeachment inquiry is Joe Biden. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Unusual to see Bernie Sanders playing catch-up on an issue like

that.

 

HEILEMANN:  Yes, it is unusual.  He has typically been in the leadership

position on the progressive wing of the party on almost everything.  But,

as you saw, yesterday, you had Elizabeth Warren who as you pointed out, the

first but Elizabeth Warren reiterating her position on this. 

 

You had Cory Booker.  You had Kamala Harris.  You had all of the rest in

that tier, anybody who`s above 2 percent or 3 percent is now on this

position.  The only two left were Biden and Sanders.  Sanders I did not –

I do think could tolerate politically could be in a position where he could

tolerate not being with them.  And so, you saw him a step behind.

 

Now, it`s all that`s left is Joe Biden, who`s the only one in the

Democratic field who`s not in that place.  And I think the pressure on him

to get to that place is going to be very strong.  He clearly wants to be

loyal to Nancy Pelosi but I think the pressure in the field is going to get

very intense for him. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Chuck Rosenberg, we feel very fortunate to have you here

tonight, our first chance to speak to you since we heard Robert Mueller

speak yesterday.  You are our Mueller translator.  No one knows him better

than you do.  You`ve worked with him so closely. 

 

Tell us what you heard yesterday from Robert Mueller. 

 

CHUCK ROSENBERG, MSNBC LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR:  Yes.  And, first, I`ll tell you

this, Lawrence, I think people fundamentally don`t understand an apolitical

nonpartisan actor, particularly –

 

O`DONNELL:  And what that sounds like. 

 

ROSENBERG:  And what sounds – well, it sounds like Bob Mueller. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Yes.

 

ROSENBERG:  You know, when I worked for him, when I had the privilege of

working for him, I had nothing idea he was a Republican.  He had no idea

what I was because you never talk about it. 

 

So, he was asked to do several things – investigate, prosecute as

appropriate and write a report.  That`s it.  What you heard the other day

was a man reporting on his assigned duty. 

 

He wrote the report, if you want to know what he found, you should read the

report.  This is quintessential Bob Mueller.  I`m not at all surprised

except in part by the reaction.  People pour a lot of hope into a

particular vessel, right?  They want Bob Mueller to be all things to all

people and to solve the problem. 

 

He wrote a report.  He wrote a darn good report.  And if you want to see

what he thinks, you ought to read the report. 

 

O`DONNELL:  So, do you – do you read into his comments yesterday what he

so many others did when he said very deliberately, we can`t prosecute a

president, but there is another constitutional process for that, we all

know that that is process is impeachment.  He didn`t use the word

“impeachment”, but very clear that sentence was a reference to impeachment. 

He didn`t have to say that. 

 

ROSENBERG:  No, he didn`t have to say it.  And it`s obvious to those of us

who have read the Constitution that there is that process and Congress has

the sole responsibility for it. 

 

I think he was being more careful though.  If you can`t charge a sitting

president, and you also can`t recommend charging a sitting president and

you ought not take a position on impeachment either.  It exists.  If

Congress wants to invoke their authority to impeach or to inquire, they

may. 

 

Mueller stayed right down the middle in my view and appropriately so. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Let`s listen to what Mike Quigley told Rachel in the last hour

or the breaking news from Mike Quigley. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL):  The events in the last couple weeks just made it

impossible for me to stay where I was.  The fact that there is obstruction

after the fact, that`s how I describe the fact that clearly the president

in detailed analysis by the special counsel obstructed prior to his release

of that report.  So at this point, we have nothing to lose.  And I think

opening impeachment inquiry will help us get that information. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  John Heilemann, personal note, my experience working in the

Senate and the Congress, there are no more loyal party line Democrats than

the Chicago Democrats that are sent to the House of Representatives, from

Danny Rostenkowski and every other one that I ever met.  I can`t imagine

Mike Quigley getting way out of line with leadership. 

 

There`s – it`s starting to feel to me like leadership is OK with us some

number of people peeling off every day. 

 

HEILEMANN:  I think there`s a recognition in the same way Nancy Pelosi has

a recognition of the politics of moderate members, perhaps particularly

freshmen members from moderate districts that their politics on this are in

one place.  She also had a feel for the fact that the politics for other

members are different, and that if you are in a city like Chicago just like

if you`re in AOC`s district, that the politics in your districts are going,

why are we not moving towards that if not to impeachment itself?

 

And I think that what Pelosi is trying to do is increasingly is to give

members enough freedom that she wants loyalty like any leader does but also

recognizes the fact that there is a disparate kind of politics on this

question and the ground is shifting really fast.  And that in Democratic

districts are not alike, and that as the ground shifts, there`s going to be

pressure on people like Mike Quigley and other Democrats to come to the

position that he came to tonight. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Let`s listen to what William Barr said today, attorney general

said today about Robert Mueller. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL:  He could have reached a conclusion, the

opinion says you cannot indict a president while he`s in office.  But he

could have reached a decision as to whether it was criminal activity.  But

he had his reasons for not doing it which he explained.  I`m not going to,

you know, argue about those reasons. 

 

But when he didn`t make a decision, the Deputy Attorney General Rod

Rosenstein and I felt it was necessary for us as the heads of the

department to reach that decision. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Chuck? 

 

ROSENBERG:  Yes, I don`t agree with the attorney general.  Here`s why,

Lawrence: the rationale that underlies the policy that is precludes the

Justice Department from charging a sitting president is you don`t want to

stigmatize the president or burden the presidency.  What Bob Mueller said

very clearly is not only can he not charge but that recommending charges to

somebody who couldn`t answer the charges, right, would also stigmatize the

president and burden the presidency. 

 

And so, I wonder out loud whether Mr. Barr told that to Mr. Mueller before

we heard from the special counsel, right?  Whether he had given them that

leeway prior to making that statement. 

 

But Mueller is a by-the-book guy.  He`s fundamentally a by-the-book guy. 

And if you can`t burden the president or stigmatize the presidency, you

can`t do it in any way.  Charging or recommending charges. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Let me ask you this.  If there was discussion and the attorney

general said to Robert Mueller, if you don`t make a decision on this, I

will, how would that have affected the Mueller report? 

 

ROSENBERG:  Well, Mueller also knows as a marine infantry officer when he

is in the presence of a superior officer.  So his job was to write the

report.  It`s clear from the report what he thought happened.  Barr gets to

make the call.  Mueller will salute smartly and walk off stage and you will

not hear from him again. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Chuck Rosenberg, thank you very much for joining us tonight. 

The host of the MSNBC podcast “The Oath,” that is Chuck`s new podcast. 

 

John Heilemann, thank you very much.

 

And, John, you know, where you go, Jeff Daniels goes.  I saw Jeff Daniels

on Nicolle Wallace`s show with you last week.  He`s here tonight.  He`s

going to be at the end of this hour and –

 

HEILEMANN:  He`s either a good friend of minor a stalker.  I`m not sure

which.  We can ask him later on, one or the other.

 

O`DONNELL:  As you know, he is as passionate about the today`s politics as

anyone. 

 

HEILEMANN:  He`s great on that show, too.

 

O`DONNELL:  When we come back, former FBI agent Clint Watts wrote an

article entitled “The Kremlin`s strategy for the 2020 U.S. election, secure

the base, split the opposition.”  Clint Watts will join us later in this

hour. 

 

Coming up next, Congresswoman Katie Porter.  She went in front of her

constituents tonight, a town hall meeting in California.  What do you think

was their number one concern?  Katie Porter will tell us, next. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL:  Freshman Congresswoman Katie Porter held a town hall today in

her California district, the day after Robert Mueller finally spoke. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. KATIE PORTER (D-CA):  This has been a real turning point.  A lot of

you saw me on the campaign trail over and over again.  You didn`t hear me

ever talk about impeachment. 

 

It`s not why I went to Washington.  I went to Washington to work on health

care prices.  I went to Washington to work on the costs of child care.  I

went to Washington to work on consumer protection and affordable housing. 

But I will not shirk my duty if the time comes and the time is nigh. 

 

(APPLAUSE)

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  You met Congressman Katie Porter on this program as soon as she

began asking questions in House hearings relying on her experience as a

lawyer and law professor trained at Harvard law school by among others then

Professor Elizabeth Warren.  Professor Katie Porter`s specialty is consumer

law.  And you have seen her using that expertise in questioning witnesses,

sharply questioning witnesses like J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, and

Donald Trump`s housing and urban development secretary, Ben Carson.

 

When Congresswoman Porter was asked today what`s her favorite thing about

being a member of Congress, she said this. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

PORTER:  Well, I should be honest.  I like committee.  I like asking my

questions. 

 

(APPLAUSE)

 

PORTER:  So – I would say that I like that.  Although do I people ask me,

I do get very nervous and part of it is you know, in the first couple times

I wasn`t as nervous.  But also nobody knew what hit them.  So I had the

advantage of surprise.  Now when it`s my turn, the witness just looks like

they`re going to puke. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Joining us now is Representative Katie Porter, freshman

Democrat from the California and a member of the Financial Services

Committee. 

 

Congresswoman Porter, thank you very much for joining us again tonight. 

And so, the day after Robert Mueller spoke is sounding when I listened to

you like a turning point of sorts in Congress and possibly a turning point

for you, what is your view of the impeachment process tonight? 

 

PORTER:  I think that what Director Mueller said, what Robert Mueller said

is very consistent with the report.  So I didn`t hear him say anything new. 

I think his speaking has helped reiterate to those who haven`t had the

opportunity to read the report and study its conclusions as I have, but

what he said is exactly what he`s been saying, which is that there`s

substantial evidence that the president obstructed justice.  And he goes

through, he analyzes 14 instances in the report and in at least four of

them, he says there`s substantial evidence that there was obstruction. 

 

So, I appreciate him, his consistency, his professionalism and his ability

to continue to focus on his findings. 

 

O`DONNELL:  You`re representing a formerly Republican district, possibly

still Republican district.  The last 50 years, it`s been a Republican

district.  Does that inhibit your thinking and your public statements about

impeachment? 

 

PORTER:  It does not.  This is an issue about what we owe the American

people. 

 

And I don`t care how vote for or what party you`re registered in.  You`re

owed a government that follows the law.  You`re owed a president who

respects our Constitution, who respects the checks and balances, in our

democracy. 

 

So whether you`re a Republican or a Democrat, I hope you`re looking with

great karat what this president has done and what he has failed to do, most

recently refusing to comply with congressional subpoenas. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Congressman Amash, the only Republican member of Congress who

supports impeachment had a town hall the other day.  We`ll show some of

this later in this hour.  It was all about impeachment. 

 

What about your town hall today?  How much of it was about impeachment? 

What was the number one issue? 

 

PORTER:  So, the number one issue was definitely health care.  A number of

variety of concerns about health care, not just prescription drug pricing

which, of course, we`ve been talking a lot about, also access to home

health care services, mental health, a number of issues relating to health

care.  That continues to be the number one issue I get asked about.  But

impeachment did come up. 

 

I would say there`s been a real change since the Mueller report was

published.  Before that I never got asked about it or supremely rarely. 

Now I get asked about it almost pre day.  People stop me in the grocery

store, as I`m going about my daily business in the coffee shop and they

want to know what I`m going to do about the president`s refusal to obey the

law. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And what do you tell them? 

 

PORTER:  I tell them Congress is a deliberative body by design.  Congress

is supposed to work slowly and supposed to work in conjunction with each

other.  It`s not the job of any one Congress member to impeach the

president.  It`s the job of the entire body of Congress. 

 

So, I am continuing to talk to colleagues.  This morning, I got a phone

call from one of my congressional colleagues a fellow freshman this morning

at 7:15 and I thought to myself, I can`t believe this colleague is calling

me so early in the morning 7:15.  And when I wrote that back to him, the

colleague pointed out that I had texted him first. 

 

So, obviously, we`re up first thing in the morning, this is the first thing

on my mind.  Every day but this is important that we have these

conversations with each other, and also with our stuns.  It is really

important because this is not about like I said, this is not about

Democratic leadership.  This is not about what we owe Speaker Pelosi or

what we owe any of each other as Democrats.  This is about what we owe

every single American to preserve our democracy for generations to come. 

 

O`DONNELL:  When I was working in the Senate, I saw two kinds of

discussions among colleagues.  One highly politically pressurized.  You`ve

really got to get in line, this is what the party`s doing. 

 

And another kind of discussion which was more along the lines of soul

searching, more along the lines of members trying – and allowing that each

other would find their own way to an answer of how they were going to vote,

usually on the more momentous things actually.  And I`m wondering how this

discussion about impeachment is working within the Democrats in the House

of Representatives now.

 

PORTER:  It`s definitely the second kind of conversation.  I`ve had a

number of colleagues contact me.  I`ve reached out to some of my

colleagues.

 

We`re sharing our thoughts and our ideas.  We`re sharing what we`re hearing

from our constituents around the country during this recess work, district

work period.

 

And so I think we`re going to come back to D.C. and have the benefit of

having talked with our constituents, having listened to them, having talked

with them about what`s going on in Washington and getting their thoughts

what to do.

 

This is definitely a situation where the speaker is making the opportunity

for each one of us, particularly those of house are freshmen to go into our

communities and engage in conversation about how they want us to move

forward in carrying out our responsibility.

 

O`DONNELL:  Congresswoman Katie Porter, thank you very much for joining us

tonight.  We really appreciate it.

 

PORTER:  Thank you.

 

O`DONNELL:  Coming up, President Trump said today that the Russians helped

him get elected.  And surely they will help him – try to help him get re-

elected.

 

Former FBI Agent Clint Watts knows exactly how the Russians plan to try to

help Donald Trump get re-elected and he will join us next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL:  After President Trump tweeted, “I had nothing to do with Russia

helping me to get elected”, Hillary Clinton tweeted, “The president hasn`t

just refused to condemn a foreign power that attacked our democracy.  He`s

also failed to protect the country`s voting systems against future attacks. 

He betrays his oath every day.”

 

Joining our discussion now is Clint Watts, former FBI special agent, and an

MSNBC national security analyst.  Clint`s latest article in the “Daily

Beast” is entitled “The Kremlin`s Strategy for the 2020 U.S. Election,

Secure the Base, Split the Opposition.”

 

Clint, thank you very much for joining us tonight.  Secure the base, split

the opposition.  That sounds like classic American campaigning techniques.

 

CLINT WATTS, FORMER FBI AGENT:  It is.  The Russians understand our

political system as well as we do.  I mean we saw that in 2016.  They knew

what they were after.

 

What they`re going to really focus on you can already see in their overt

state-sponsored propaganda at this point is really focusing on how do we

keep Trump supporting base that has already converged with us in terms of

our views which seems to think that Russia could be an ally which is open

to maybe moving sanctions in the next term which hasn`t messed with us in

Crimea or Ukraine.

 

How do we keep them going and what do you do?  You just have to repeat

those White House attacks on Democrats.  You need to just route

conspiracies in through fringe and get it into the mainstream.

 

What`s more important I think going forward is about two-thirds of their

efforts back in 2016 were focused on rallying that conservative base for

Trump and only about a third were going after the left-wing of the American

political system.  I think that will reverse going forward.

 

What you`ll see then is them focusing on populist on the political left to

really divide the opposition.  They want Americans on the populist left and

the populist right saying the same things, the things that they want to

say, that America should withdraw from the world, that democracy is

corrupt, that it`s the 1 percent versus the 99 percent and nationalism

versus globalism on the right.

 

The idea is to bring those audiences together.  And if they can do that,

they can successfully turndown turnout maybe against Trump going into the

2020 election.

 

O`DONNELL:  And so Clint, we have over 20 Democratic candidates for

president and so that means there`s plenty of room for disappointment among

Democratic primary voters about who the eventual nominee is.

 

And that`s where the Russians enter in their technique of splitting the

opposition.  They will try to get people to hold on on the Democratic side

– voters on the Democratic side, to hold on to resentments that they built

up against candidates particularly against whoever the nominee is that they

built up against the nominee during the campaign and try to get those

people to simply not vote or as some apparently might have done in the last

campaign, vote for the green party but simply not support the Democratic

nominee.

 

WATTS:  That`s exactly right.  We saw that play out really the whole idea

that Bernie Sanders got a raw deal which was powered from stolen e-mails

right around the time of the DNC and for the rest of essentially the

election cycle, that was to turn down support.

 

And they`ll use a similar method this time.  They`ll talk about how America

is warmongering nation that`s out there, how it`s really corrupt, how super

delegates are rigged against the populace essentially.  They`ll use those

themes and messages and try and drive and reinforce those candidates that

are saying that thing.

 

The one advantage that the Democrats do have going into this one with

having so many candidates is it will be very difficult for the Kremlin to

really zero in on one candidate unless the field narrows very dramatically. 

They are very anti-establishment.

 

When I`ve watched them in terms of their state-sponsored media so far,

Biden is a central figure that they are against.  Kamala Harris will also

show up in there because she`s part of the Russia investigation from the

Senate Intelligence Committee.

 

So they will try and focus on how to keep those divisions going.  I think

the good news is that with lots of candidates, they won`t be able to

necessarily focus that hacking that we saw last time.  It would be

difficult to do.

 

If they want to successfully hack and drive the election, they would have

to do that this fall and into winter so they have enough time to know what

information is there to dump and drop.  It would also be a risky maneuver.

 

Even id Trump does stay in office or he is challenged and removed, to

provoke us again in such a way would almost force any president really to

have to retaliate afterwards.

 

O`DONNELL:  Clint Watts, thank you very much for joining us tonight. 

Appreciate it.

 

WATTS:  Thank you.

 

O`DONNELL:  And when we come back, we will hear from the one Republican in

Congress who supports impeachment of the president.  He is now that lonely

voice in his party trying to persuade others in his party to do the right

thing.

 

We will listen to his town hall meeting this week where Congressman Justin

Amash seems to have already persuaded many, if not most of his

constituents, in his Republican district that he is doing the right thing. 

We`ll show you that video.

 

And later, we`ll be joined by Actor Jeff Daniels who`s playing Atticus

Finch, a character who tries to persuade people to do the right thing.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Mr. Gorbachev, tear

down this wall.

 

O`DONNELL:  Republican Presidential Campaign Manager Stewart Stevens is

asking how his Republican Party descended from Ronald Reagan`s famous

confrontation with the Soviet Union to the point where they are now “on the

same side as the Russians.”

 

We have never seen anything like this in Congress where one of the parties

has completely collapsed into a seemingly morality-free zone unattached to

any of the principles they all used to claim as their governing philosophy. 

We are now in the second week of the crack in the wall of Republican

congressional silence.

 

It is a one-man crack.  Republican Congressman Justin Amash of Michigan

after reading the Mueller report in full says he is now in favor of the

impeachment of President Trump.  Here he is in a town hall in his

Republican district this week explaining his position.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. JUSTIN AMASH (R-MI):  If you have a society where all we care about is

that the other side is bad and therefore, we don`t have to do the right

thing, that society will break down and you will have no liberty.  For

those of you who care about liberty, who care about our Constitution, I

assure you the surest way to make our Constitution a dead letter is to have

a society where we all hate each other and we don`t care about what the

other side is doing what they`re doing right or wrong.

 

We`re just going to hate them and disagree with them.  That`s the surest

way to destroy our Constitution.  And I refuse to be a part of that.

 

I will always stand up for liberty and stand up for our Constitution.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Is that the first crack in the wall?  Or will no other

Republican follow Congressman Amash`s example?  We don`t know.

 

Walls always look impenetrable.  Until they`re not.  No one expected that

the Soviet Union would tear down the Berlin Wall because Ronald Reagan told

them to, but the Berlin Wall did come down in a way that no one ever

expected until the day it happened.  And with shocking suddenness, the

Berlin Wall was gone.

 

Justin Amash is now the one voice in his party, the one voice trying to get

his party to see the light.  And that seeps as impossible as the Berlin

Wall coming down.  In American literature, the enduring model of the one

person trying to get others to see the light is Atticus Finch, created by

Harper Lee in her 1960 novel “To Kill A Mockingbird.”

 

Atticus Finch is a small town Alabama lawyer in the 1930s who is defending

a black man charged with raping a white woman.  One thousand four hundred

thirty-five people are watching Atticus Finch do that every night on the

stage of the Schubert Theater on Broadway in Aaron Sorkin`s play “To Kill A

Mockingbird,” where it has a new resonance for Americans whose hope for

change an, whose hope for a new future is as strong as it has ever been.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

ATTICUS FINCH:  My father gave me one of those air rifles, an air rifle. 

He said he`d rather I shoot at tin cans in the backyard but that he knew

that one day the temptation would become too great and I would want to

shoot at birds.

 

He said I could shoot all the blue jays I want, probably knowing I`ll never

be able to hit one.  But to always remember it was a sin to kill a

Mockingbird.  A sin.  A crime against God, only time I ever heard him use

that word.

 

Asked him why, and he said it was because they were innocent.  And I became

a lawyer.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Jeff Daniels is nominated for a Tony Award for his performance

at Atticus Finch.  He will join us next to discuss the resonance of Atticus

Finch in today`s America and in today`s politics where the lesson of

Atticus Finch`s courage in the pursuit of justice needs to be taught over

and over again.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL:  We can`t go on like this.  That is how most Americans feel in

2019.

 

Most Americans say they definitely will not vote for Donald Trump for re-

election.  Most Americans disapprove of President Trump in his job

performance and always have.  Most Americans disapprove of his personal

characteristics.

 

We can`t go on like this is actually a recurring feeling in American

society and it is the feeling that has ultimately delivered every positive

change that has come to this country from the abolition of slavery onward. 

In his small town in the 1930s of Alabama, Atticus Finch was the lonely

voice telling people we can`t go on like this.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

FINCH:  You saw him.  You heard him.  That wasn`t a slip of the tongue.

 

Tom Robinson said exactly what he meant.  In fact, he said it twice. 

Because he forgot his place because he forgot who he was, what he was?

 

No.  Because he remembered.  A man will have his dignity.

 

A sin.  A crime against God.  Can`t go on like this.

 

We have to heal this wound or we will never stop bleeding.  We have to make

good this crime.  We have to show Tom Robinson justice in this courtroom.

 

Now, we can start gathering the animals two by two because we`ll be shown

God`s justice in a hurry.  We can`t go on like this.  We know that.

 

So let`s hasten the change.  Let`s hasten the end of the beginning.  Let`s

do it right now.

 

Let`s begin by restoring this man to his family.  Let`s begin with justice.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Joining our discussion now, the Emmy Award Winner for Best

Actor in the HBO drama “The Newsroom” and now the Tony Award Nominee for

Best Actor in Aaron Sorkin`s “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Jeff Daniels.

 

Thank you very much for doing this on one of your rare nights off from the

theater.

 

JEFF DANIELS, ACTOR, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD:  My pleasure.

 

O`DONNELL:  I really appreciate this.  I read a reviewer of the film in the

1960s said somewhere within that man is the best of us.

 

DANIELS:  Yes, he – pack was working from a different script, a Horton

Foote screenplay where he was more on Mt. Rushmore.  He was heroic.  He was

already on the pedestal.

 

Aaron Sorkin`s play based on the book, we look at Atticus from eye level. 

And we see him become – Atticus, we see him become the better angel.

 

He believes in everything he believes, but he`s just a small town lawyer

who sometimes gets paid in vegetables.  And one day the judge comes over

and says, “I need you to represent this black man who is 100 percent

innocent and it`s a done deal, he`s not guilty.”

 

And Atticus` life changes and he becomes Atticus Finish.  And he sees the

injustice.  He sees the unfairness, the inequality firsthand.  It punches

him right in the face.

 

O`DONNELL:  I think in all 1,400 of your audience members every night, they

all pick a line or a couple of lines that resonate that that`s the moment

for them.  That`s where they connect to today.

 

DANIELS:  Sorokin`s got a bunch of them.

 

O`DONNELL:  Yes.  And for me, if I had to pull it down to one line, it`s

the one line that I referred to in introducing that clip, which is “We

can`t go on like this.”

 

That is a feeling that I am picking up from people all over this country. 

We can`t go on like this.  And we`ve been there before, as this play shows.

 

DANIELS:  Yes.  And whether it`s racism as we deal with in the play

directly or the people feel it.  They feel it.

 

They hear Atticus say we can`t go on like this.  We have to heal this wound

or we will never stop bleeding.

 

But the audience feels it.  They watch the movie.  They see the – they

read the book.  They feel the play.

 

And it feels very familiar to what`s going on just today, you know, with

Justin Amash coming.  When he tweeted, it was like, OK, you tweeted, that`s

a profile in courage I guess nowadays.

 

And then he did the town hall in front of his constituents.  And those

weren`t just Democrats in there coming, they were Republicans and they were

standing and cheering this guy.

 

Those people are out there.  I live out there.  I live in Michigan. 

They`re out there.

 

They`re ashamed of what`s going on.  The fact that this guy, this president

has completely soiled the oval office, soiled the presidency.  And you`ve

got a lot of people – and I keep looking at them.

 

I go when is enough enough?  Have we tripped it yet so that you`re going to

go, OK, if I have to vote for a democrat or Biden then I will, but are you

there yet?

 

Because you`re on the Titanic and after Mueller spoke the other day, the

iceberg got a little closer.  So when are you getting off?

 

They`re the ones who need to show the courage.  Not only just the 15

Republicans in the Senate who are deafly silent, but also those people,

those Republicans who like my dad were Republican moderates.  You know, a

worthy – much worthy.

 

We need Republican moderates to sit in the same room with the Democrats and

work out a deal for everybody.  We need that.  And they`re out there.

 

I just – it`s time to get off the fence.  Much like Atticus, Atticus has

to come off the porch.  Atticus can`t sit there and go, I just handle

foreclosures and land disputes and I stay out of it and the whole race

thing is on the other side of town.

 

I don`t deal with it.  I`m trying to raise my kids.  I don`t want to, you

know, he`s an apologist.  And we can`t be that anymore.  That clock`s run

out.

 

O`DONNELL:  Did you get a note of Atticus out of Robert Mueller the other

day?  Because what I get in both of them is they both seem to believe that

if you present people with the truth, they will do the right thing, which

is a pretty optimistic view of the way things work.

 

DANIELS:  It is.  Especially now with social media where it`s true.  I saw

it on the Internet, boom, you know?  You got to fight against that.

 

Atticus is all about the rule of law.  It is sacred.  When you take an

oath, to tell the truth, nothing but the truth, it is sacred.

 

There`s truth.  There`s honesty.  There`s decency.  There`s integrity.

 

All of those things that Mueller – I mean look at the guy`s life, for

God`s sake, and Atticus is the same way.  He believes in the same things

and he hopes that there`s a better angel in everyone and I think we`re

going to find out in the next few months.

 

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR:  As the former anchorman yourself, you

know the clock is unforgiving, and so that is going to be it for us.  Jeff

Daniels gets “Tonight`s Last Word.”  Do you want to take the rest?

 

DANIELS:  “The 11th Hour” with Brian Williams starts now.

 

 

 

 

END   

 

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