Trump insults Pelosi, Mueller in France. TRANSCRIPT: 6/6/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel, and really great
reporting tonight. We learned a lot.
I just want to raise one point of a prediction that you made last night
that came true a lot faster than I thought it would. Joe Biden on the Hyde
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, “TRMS”: Yes.
O`DONNELL: At this very hour 24 hours ago, when that was a controversy,
you predicted that was going to be incredibly difficult for him to survive.
And he decided not to try to survive it even 24 hours, changed his position
MADDOW: Yes, and I can`t even really say I told you so because I think –
O`DONNELL: Yes, you can. No, you did. It was on video. Everybody
watching right now saw it. You told us so.
MADDOW: But I think what I said is it won`t survive the Democratic primary
process. I definitely didn`t say it won`t survive until this time
O`DONNELL: That you didn`t say. That`s right. Well, such is the power of
MADDOW: Well, yes.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: There`s only one Nick Kristof, the Pulitzer Prize-winning
columnist for the “New York Times.” And this is one of those days when we
wish there were many more.
He delivered extraordinary reporting to “The New York Times” today from
Guatemala where he asked people why they leave Guatemala and head north
toward our southern border. He basically handed his column over to those
people in Guatemala today and let them speak.
And what I read in their stories of why they come is the story of why my
people came to America from a starving country where they could not
survive. You will hear their stories later in this hour and listen for
something that might sound like the story of something that happened that
made it your people come to this country.
And as soon as I read that piece this morning, I asked if Nick Kristof
could join us tonight and luckily he can. And so, you will hear more of
what Nick Kristof learned in Guatemala.
And this was a week in which President Trump kept coming uncomfortably
close to his personal decision to avoid service in the military during the
war of his era. In my last word tonight at the end of this hour, I`ll
review what the president said about not being a fan of the Vietnam War.
He doesn`t know that the soldiers in those graves that he saw at Normandy
today were not fans of the war that they fought.
It`s Donald Trump`s complete lack of comprehension of things like war that
allow him to use words like that when talking about war. I`ll have much
more to say about that. Donald Trump and Vietnam at the end of this hour.
We begin tonight with the president who was in Normandy today to attend a
ceremony marking it the 75th anniversary of D-Day. President Trump read a
speech on a teleprompter written by a team of speech writers that paid due
respect to the 170 World War II veterans at the event and the thousands
more who are buried near Normandy Beach.
Then we heard what was really on the president`s minds in his own words
when he used soldiers` graves as a backdrop to attack Robert Mueller and
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: Do you mind if he testifies still? Before
you said you didn`t care.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He made such a fool out of
himself the last time – because what people don`t report is the letter he
had to do to straighten out his testimony because his testimony was wrong.
But Nancy Pelosi I call her nervous Nancy, Nancy Pelosi doesn`t talk about
it. Nancy Pelosi is a disaster, OK? She`s a disaster. And let her do
what she wants. You know what? I think they`re in big trouble.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: War is a hell that defies explanation. There`s no explain who
lives and who dies in war.
Robert Mueller was in the thick of it in Vietnam as a U.S. marine. Robert
Mueller is the kind of combat veteran who would have the full respect of
everyone in those graves behind Donald Trump today.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was also at that event in Normandy today and
when asked about Donald Trump, she refused to discuss him on foreign soil,
she said. And when she was asked about impeachment, she did the same
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Well, again, with all due respect to your
question, I`m not here to talk about impeachment. But I do say that on the
subject of our veterans, we always strive to work in a bipartisan way. So,
this is nothing, not a departure from what we said as a standard. Wherever
we can, we try to be as bipartisan, nonpartisan as possible. That`s
comfort to veterans.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: “New York Times” columnist Roger Cohen who has lived in France
wrote this about the president today. How small is he, small in spirit and
valor, in dignity, in statecraft. This American president who knows
nothing about history and cares still less and now bestrides Europe with
his family in tow like some tin pot dictator with a terrified entourage.
To have Donald Trump, the bone spur evader of the Vietnam draft, the
coddler of autocrats, the would-be destroyer of the European Union, the pay
up now denigrator of NATO, the apologist for the white supremacists of
Charlottesville commemorate the boys from Kansas City and St. Paul who gave
their lives for freedom is to understand the word imposter. You can`t make
a sculpture from rotten wood.
Here is some of what the president read from his teleprompter today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: To all of our friends and partners, our cherished alliance was
forged in the heat of battle. Tested in the trials of war, and proven in
the blessings of peace. Our bond is unbreakable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: President Trump has been trying to break those bonds in many
ways including breaking up the European Union by encouraging Britain to
leave the European Union, which was a cherished goal of the British prime
minister who won World War II, Winston Churchill.
In his memoir of World War II, Winston Churchill saw the war as a
culmination of 1,000 years of war in Europe between France and Germany and
thought that peace would depend not just on winning the war, but on
establishing a new economic union in Europe that would eliminate the
friction of international trade and other frictions that had repeatedly
flared into war.
Here is that passage from the audio book of Winston Churchill`s “The
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIAN RODSKA, WINSTON CHURCHILLS WORDS ON WORLD WAR II: To me, the aim
of ending the thousand year strife between France and Germany seemed a
supreme object. If we could only weave Gaul and Teuton so closely together
socially and morally as to prevent the occasion of new quarrels and make
old antagonisms die in the realization of mutual prosperity and
interdependence, Europe would rise again. It seemed to me that the supreme
interest of the British people in Europe lay in the assuagement of the
Franco German feud and that they have no other interests comparable or
contrary to that. This is still my view today.”
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That is what statesmanship sounds like. That is how statesmen
Queen Elizabeth gave Donald Trump a copy of that book by Winston Churchill
this week. It was either the ultimate act of optimism by the queen or a
joke for a world in which we all know Donald Trump is incapable of reading
With the president in Europe today, a federal judge in Washington
overseeing Michael Flynn`s case ordered the release of some of the audio
evidence in the obstruction of justice section of the Mueller report. Here
is the recording of a voice mail that Donald Trump`s lawyer John Dowd left
for Michael Flynn`s attorney on the day that Michael Flynn withdrew from a
joint defense agreement with the Trump team.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
JOHN DOWD, FORMER TRUMP LAWYER: Hey, Rob, this is John again. Maybe I`m
sympathetic. I understand your situation but let me see if I can`t state
it in starker terms. If you have – it wouldn`t surprise me if you`ve gone
on to make a deal with and work with the government. If, on the other
hand, we have – there`s information that implicates the president, then
we`ve got a national security issue. We need some kind of heads up, just
for the same of protecting all our interests if we can.
Remember what we`ve always said about the president and his feelings toward
Flynn and that still remains but – well, in any event, let me know, and I
appreciate your listening and taking the time. Thanks, pal.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, a congressman who is going to have to evaluate
that as evidence, Congressman Jamie Raskin, a Democrat from Maryland. He`s
on the Judiciary Committee in the House and the Oversight Committee.
Barbara McQuade is with us. She`s a former U.S. attorney for the Eastern
District of Michigan. She`s also an MSNBC legal contributor.
And John Heilemann is the national affairs analyst for NBC News and MSNBC.
He`s co-host and executive producer of Showtime`s “The Circus.”
Congressman Raskin, let me begin with you, and what you`re hearing on that
audio from John Dowd, and this strikes me as the kind of evidence that
you`re actually trying to obtain from the Justice Department when you`re
asking for not just the unredacted Mueller report, but the underlying
documentation for it.
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Yes, and we moved on the floor of the House
today to get a federal district court in D.C. a citation order that we
hoped they would send out so we could get all of the material, the
unredacted report, the grand jury material and all of the underlying
And you know, as you know, if you read the report seriously and you
understand what obstruction of justice is, it`s all in there. There`s
overwhelming evidence based on what special counsel Mueller has written
that the president committed obstruction of justice on 10 or 11 different
episodes. But what we –
O`DONNELL: What about –
RASKIN: – audio evidence, the video evidence, whatever the documents are
is the whole case coming to life. Obviously, that`s important to make it
comprehensible and digestible for people.
O`DONNELL: What about in that phone call? Did you hear obstruction of
RASKIN: Well, John Dowd was a little circumspect. But yes, I mean, look,
the president has clearly engaged in far more overt instances of
obstruction than that is when is he told the White House counsel to go
ahead and fire the special counsel and to concoct a story about conflicts
But the report is replete with instances of the president unleashing his
emissaries to go and talk to people to coach their testimony, to encourage
people to drop cases against this defendant or that defendant, and to
interfere. I mean, you have to rewind the clock to before Donald Trump
days to think how extraordinary it is to have a president interfering in
any criminal investigation at all to try to effect any witness or any
testimony and then to zero in on an investigation in an ongoing prosecution
aching him. It`s just stupefying.
O`DONNELL: Barbara McQuade, as an experienced prosecutor, what do you hear
in that telephone message?
BARBARA MCQUADE, MSNBC LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I hear a couple of things
that are concerning. One is the request for a heads-up if Flynn is going
to cooperate. That is a request to continue to share information even if
Michael Flynn is engaged in a cooperation agreement with the government,
which would be in violation of that agreement.
O`DONNELL: Barbara, can I stop you there for the audience? If people are
engaged in a joint defense agreement and one of those people decides, OK,
I`ve just made my decision. I`m going to go cooperate with the
prosecutors. Can that person alert the other defendants that he was
basically had joined forces with I`m leaving the group, I`m going to
cooperate with the prosecutors?
MCQUADE: Yes, typically, they do say I`m leaving the group. They don`t
often say it`s because I`m cooperating with the prosecutors. Most people
understand that`s what that means.
So, you know, the agreement is dictated by the terms of their agreement and
it can say whatever they want it to say. But typically when someone
withdraws, the most common assumption is that that person is going to
cooperate. But to ask them to continue to provide information even after
they have withdrawn would be improper.
The other thing that he says in this call is that remember how the
president feels about Michael Flynn, suggesting that you know, he`s
situated to do him favors if he wants to. And what`s most remarkable isn`t
just this call but, you know, of course, it`s important not to look at it
in isolation but the totality of the circumstances. If you read Robert
Mueller`s report, what he says was most important was the ensuing phone
call where the call was returned. Flynn`s attorney called the lawyer back
and said, you know, we can`t provide this information anymore.
John Dowd was indignant. He expressed feelings that he thought that
Michael Flynn was showing hostility toward President Trump and that they
were going to tell president Trump on Michael Flynn which they took to be
an effort to intimidate Michael Flynn from cooperating.
O`DONNELL: John Heilemann, this strikes me as one of the elements of what
we would see if Congressman Raskin`s committee moves into an impeachment
inquiry mode. Audio tapes like this possibly witnesses like John Dowd
being called. He might claim an attorney/client privilege on some things,
might not on others.
JOHN HEILEMANN, MSNBC NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: There are a lot of
arguments for proceeding with an impeachment inquiry and calling it an
impeachment inquiry. One of them is this, right?
I`m not a lawyer and Barb and others may know about this than I do. My
impression having listened people talk about it, including the congressman
and people who know a lot about this stuff, is that under the rubric of an
impeachment inquiry, it would make it easier to accumulate the kind of
evidence that would build the political case that Nancy Pelosi thinks is
necessary if you wanted to impeach the president.
And so, I think more of the strongest arguments beyond the institutional
arguments, beyond the House doing its job, beyond the fact that every
Democratic member of the House thinks the president is a criminal and
obstructed justice, beyond all of that is the argument for doing this for
going forward with an impeachment inquiry is that it would create the
context in which the maximum amount of information, the maximum amount of
oversight information relevant to oversight and to again, building the
popular case for impeachment if there is one, this is the way to do it.
And this is just one small piece of evidence that indicates and there are
100,000, probably literally close to 100,000 pieces of evidence like this
that the public deserves to see and that would be brought forward under
O`DONNELL: Congressman Raskin, in the last 24 hours, we`ve had a report
indicating that your chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler, is
actually eager to move to the impeachment inquiry. Nancy Pelosi is holding
that back. She`s blocking that according to some reports. But Speaker
Pelosi is also quoted in a meeting as saying she wants to see Donald Trump
go to prison.
How do you line up all of that and how does that tension play out in the
deliberations of your committee? Are you one of the members that have
committee who is pushing the committee to go to an impeachment inquiry now?
RASKIN: Yes, yes. I`ve been for it. We`ve been presented with
overwhelming evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors which we shouldn`t
ignore and we also know that since the Mueller report was released, albeit
in its redacted form, the administration has been on a full-blown wholesale
campaign to shut down production of evidence, witnesses, documents, and to
refuse compliance with the lawful subpoenas that Congress has ordered.
So, they`re in a total shutdown defiance mode towards Congress which in
itself is an impeachable offense. That was article 3 in the Nixon
impeachment, contempt of Congress, and here we`re seeing far more sweeping
and unprecedented attack on our Article I fact-finding powers.
So, you know, the key thing to understand is that –
O`DONNELL: Do you expect Nancy Pelosi to come to your view of this?
RASKIN: I`m sorry –
O`DONNELL: Do you expect Nancy Pelosi to join eventually with your view of
this and move to an impeachment inquiry?
RASKIN: I think all of us are moving together. We`re right now very
unified that we need to counter and stop the lawlessness and obstructionism
of the administration. And I do think events are moving quickly and the
dynamics are such it`s going to be clear what it is that we`ve got to do.
The key thing to understand about the discussion about impeachment or
prison is that impeachment is not a criminal process. The end of it is not
putting president in jail. We don`t use a beyond a reasonable doubt
standard of proof in going to the other guests` statements.
We`re not trying to prove the violation of a criminal statute. We`re
looking at whether this conduct conforms to what we expect of the president
of the United States, or whether he`s committing high crimes and
misdemeanors against the office. That`s what it`s about. It`s protecting
the office of the presidency and the Constitution and the rule of law
against a president who is trampling the rule of law and acting like a
O`DONNELL: John Heilemann, before we go to break, I want to get you on the
politics of the week from Donald Trump you know, you be loading attacks on
Twitter as Air Force One is landing in London on the London mayor, to not
being a fan of the Vietnam War, to what we saw in Normandy today, including
his interview today.
HEILEMANN: A little bit of potpourri. I pick your poison here.
You know, I think one of the things you see with the president often as you
saw today sitting in front of those grave stones, a horrific piece of
If Laura Ingraham was a real journalist, she would say really? Mr.
President, do you recognize our backdrop is here? To launch partisan
attacks as we sit in front of the graves of the fallen, totally wildly
inappropriate. Of course, she does not ask that questions because she
wants Donald Trump to attack Nancy Pelosi or Robert Mueller.
The thing from Nancy Pelosi`s point of view, and I was glad you played the
video, is that Trump so – makes it so easy for his opponents, for his
rivals to claim the moral and political high ground. You know, it takes no
effort for Nancy Pelosi to do what she did today or whether it gains her in
the grand scheme of things or did her gain much, I don`t know.
But I do think that for people, for the millions of veterans who serve in
active duty, who look at the behavior of one of them being respectful, the
other being totally disrespectful and totally political, I can`t help but
feel that they look at that and get the point that the contrast makes the
point how bad his behavior is.
O`DONNELL: Well, he`s a guy who has clearly never been in a military
cemetery till this new job he has forced him to do it.
Congressman Jamie Raskin, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
Barbara McQuade, thank you. John Heilemann, thank you for joining us and
starting us off tonight. We appreciate it.
And when we come back from this break, Senator Chris Van Hollen had sent a
letter demanding that the Federal Reserve investigate Deutsche Bank`s
handling of suspicious activity in Donald Trump`s and Jared Kushner`s
accounts there. Senator Van Hollen has gotten other senators to sign on to
be this letter, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Van Hollen
joins us next.
O`DONNELL: Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen joined by six other
Democratic senators, including presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren,
have written to the chairman of the Federal Reserve and the president of
the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, requesting that top officials examine
whether Deutsche Bank complied with anti-money laundering and other laws
after Deutsche Bank employees flagged transactions tied to President Trump
as potentially suspicious.
The letter was sent in response to a “New York Times” article that said
specialists at Deutsche Bank had recommended that transactions by legal
entities controlled by President Trump and Jared Kushner be reported to the
federal financial crime regulator, managers at the bank did not then report
The senators write, quote: Only by conducting a thorough review of the full
range of this activity can we better understand what happened in these
cases, what practices, procedures or personnel may need to be changed at
the bank and what regulators should do to ensure the Federal Reserve`s
ability effectively to monitor compliance with anti-money laundering laws.
The letter also asked the federal officials for information about their
interactions with Deutsche Bank, including whether they have investigated
the issues that several former bank employees publicly raised in that “New
York Times” article.
Joining us now is the author of that letter, Democratic Senator Chris Van
Hollen of Maryland. He`s a member of the Senate Budget Committee.
Senator, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
So this letter strikes me as a follow-up, natural follow-up to that “New
York Times” reporting. And what exactly are you asking of the Federal
Reserve in this letter?
SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD): Well, that`s right, Lawrence. It is a
follow-up. And what we`re asking is the Federal Reserve do its job. They
are the bank regulator for big banks like Deutsche Bank. Deutsche Bank
already has a dismal track record when it comes to anti-money laundering
activity. They`ve been penalized many times and now we have a report from
the specialists at Deutsche Bank who track anti-money laundering
They were filing – preparing a suspicious activity report about these
Trump-related entities and they were overturned by higher-ups. And by the
way, not higher-ups in the chain of command – higher-ups outside the chain
of command in the private banking section of Deutsche Bank, the folks who
deal with people like Donald Trump.
And so, the Federal Reserve really has as obligation to open an
investigation into this matter and hold Deutsche Bank accountable.
O`DONNELL: I just want to read some of the questions that you`re asking
the Federal Reserve on this in your letter, you say has anyone from the
White House or the Department of the Treasury communicated with the Fed
board or the New York Fed regarding Deutsche Bank, including instructions
related to the release of documents to Congress or to law enforcement. If
so, please describe any such contacts.
What is the likelihood of you being able to get real answers from the Fed
VAN HOLLEN: Well, look, the Banking Committee oversees the Fed. They`re
in front of the committee often. I`m joined on there letter by the senior
Democrat, Sherrod Brown, as well as others.
We`re going to be pushing this very hard and at every opportunity,
Lawrence. I wrote a letter backing in 2017, right at the beginning of this
administration asking the Federal Reserve for assurances that it would
continue to act independently and do its job specifically with respect to
oversight of Deutsche Bank. I also asked now Chairman Powell the same
quell during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee.
Would he uphold the independence of the Fed and make sure they monitored
In both cases, the Federal Reserve assured me they would do their job.
This is a test, this is a real test whether they will do their job and
regulate Deutsche Bank which is part of their mandate and their
O`DONNELL: Well, based on what you`ve just said it, sounds like what they
promised you is basically what you`re asking for here. Another of your
questions are, did any of the activity involved entities located overseas
did any implicate companies involving prominent Russians as the
whistleblowers in the “New York Times” allege?
So, you have every reason to believe that you will eventually get those
VAN HOLLEN: Well, that`s right. I mean, look, this whistleblower provided
a lot of information and a lot of evidence. So, it would be grossly
negligent for the Federal Reserve as the regulator of Deutsche Bank to
doing nothing in the face of all this evidence.
So, at the very least, they have to launch an investigation and ask the
questions that we`ve asked them to present. And get back to us with that
information. I should say, I`ve also asked FinCEN, which is the unit at
Treasury Department that oversees federal financial crimes to investigating
this. We had a witness in front of the banking committee within the last
couple weeks, and we insisted that they move forward.
Now, he declined to answer questions publicly about what they`re going to
do, but we are going to continue to pursue this because this is part of
their job. And this is part of their job for looking after the public and
there will be a test case, Lawrence, of whether or not the Fed is really
independent or not.
And you know, have you Donald Trump taking all these potshots at them.
Their job is to focus on their mandate and this will be you know, this will
be the test for whether or not they do what they`re supposed to do.
O`DONNELL: Well, they have passed that test many times in the past before
the Trump presidency. So, we`ll find out this time.
Senator Chris Van Hollen, thank you for joining us with this important
news. Really appreciate it.
VAN HOLLEN: Good to be with you.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
VAN HOLLEN: And when we come back, Nick Kristof turned his “New York
Times” column over today to people in Guatemala who are leaving to tell –
and telling their stories about why they are leaving. When you hear those
stories, listen to anything that sounds like the reason your relatives came
from their countries to try to find the hope of a better life in this
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Food doesn`t grow here anymore. That`s
why they come. And they`re not the first, they`re not the first people
trying to get to the United States of America because food doesn`t grow
The Irish famine of the 19th century began the wave of millions of Irish
citizens leaving their country headed for the United States because food
didn`t grow there anymore. There were people like Donald Trump in the
United States then who didn`t want the Irish to come, people who wanted
them to stay in Ireland and starve to death as over a million of them did.
The British government which controlled all of Ireland then made the famine
much worse by some of the actions the government took and did not take.
And now the United States is making the situation worse for people in
Guatemala where so many want to leave because food doesn`t grow here
The Trump administration was wants to cut back on the kind of international
aid programs that could help farmers who are struggling against drought and
climate change in Guatemala. The Trump administration is making a bad
situation worse and then complaining about what happens when the situation
gets worse, complaining about people who come to the United States because
food doesn`t grow here anymore.
In today`s New York Times, Nicholas Kristof has delivered invaluable
reporting on why people leave Guatemala to try to come to the United States
under the headline “Food Doesn`t Grow Here Anymore. That`s why I would
send my son north.”
The woman who said that has lost two of her sons, aged 7 and 14, to
malnutrition. It`s her other son, Juan, who is now 11 who she would send
north to Mexico and then possibly the United States for his survival. She
had to take Juan out of school in second grade to go to work in the fields.
That`s just one of the families Nick Kristof met when he went to Guatemala
to listen to people`s reasons for going north. One 19-year-old woman told
Nick Kristof, the weather has changed clearly. Her husband went north to
find work in Mexico and then she noted that drought unprecedented winds
have destroyed successive corn crops leaving the family destitute adding,
“And because I have no money, my children died.”
Both her children, Isamara and Vidalia, died as infants in the last couple
of years, Vidalia just six months ago. A principal of a middle school told
Nick Kristof, the great majority of these kids will migrate. There is not
enough rain so their only option is to migrate.
There`s one success story in his reporting. Rosa Mendoza Raymundo told
Nick Kristof, “My husband is in the US because there is nothing here. It`s
a sadness that our community has no water. That`s why people are leaving.
She said her husband Pascual also took their daughter Susanna, 17, because
the trafficker offered a 30 percent discount if he brought a minor to take
advantage of the American practice of releasing a parent with a child.
Now, Pascual is cleaning houses in Kansas City, Missouri and Susanna is
attending school there. She had dropped out in the third grade in the
village. That is what success sounds like in that village. Getting a job
in Kansas City, that no American wants to do and living in a place where
your daughter can go to school.
Nick Kristof reports luckier households build new homes or buy motorcycles
because of money sent back by a relative working in the US. Some of these
new homes have US flags painted on them.
So what would you do? What would you do if food doesn`t grow here anymore?
I know what I`d do because my people did it, they came to the United
States. They did whatever it took to get out of Ireland and come to the
After this break, we will be joined by Nick Kristof with more of what he
learned in Guatemala about why they come.
O`DONNELL: Nick Kristof did what Nick Kristof does, with so much talk in
our politics about people trying to cross our southern border, Nick Kristof
went to Guatemala and asked people why they come. He delivered a an simple
and chillingly powerful report in his column in the New York Times today in
which he used none of the space for his opinion and all of it for the words
of the people he met in Guatemala. He let those people tell a story which
is theirs to tell.
The last line of Nick Kristof`s report goes to a 42-year-old man in
Guatemala who tightly summarizes what everyone else in the article has to
say. “There`s no rain and no way to grow crops. One can`t live here.”
Joining us now is Pulitzer Prize winning Columnist for the New York Times
Nick, thank you so much for being with us tonight. As I read in this
morning, the first thing I wanted to do was get you here tonight. So you
get down there with that very simple question of why are you leaving and
according to your report, you saw the answer everywhere you looked and with
everyone you talked to.
NICHOLAS KRISTOF, COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: That`s right. I mean,
clearly the answers are very different in some degree depending on where in
Central America you go. But in the western highlands where I was, climate
change was a huge driver of migration.
And, you know, look, people are aiming for a better life but it`s also that
they don`t really have any alternative when their corn crops are withering
in the field, when they have nothing to feed their kids, when – you
mentioned one woman I talked to, 19 years old, she has had two kids and she
has lost them both. What do we tell her?
You know, and there`s just this desperation in some of these villages, 70
percent of the kids are stunted from malnutrition. And that means they`re
stunted physically but they`re also being stunted mentally. If you love
your children, you want to try to provide some alternative for them. And
in some cases they take them elsewhere in Guatemala and in other cases they
take them to Mexico. And in some cases they try to take them to America.
And they know it`s risky. You know, we – in one village, I went to six
people had died recently trying to reach the United States.
O`DONNELL: And that word comes back to them, they know, the feedback is
KRISTOF: They absolutely know. So I think what President Trump maybe
doesn`t realize is that, yes, he can put up a few more obstacles and make
life more brutal for these people but this is in the context of them taking
enormous risks already knowing that they may die in the desert, that women
may be trafficked into brothels.
O`DONNELL: So this is one of the motivation answers for what we`re seeing
when we see these photographs of a parent and child trying to get across
this border, and there are plenty of people, Trump supporters who watch
that and think they`re watching irresponsible parenting, how could this
parent put this child in this kind of danger. This tells the story of the
danger they left.
KRISTOF: Look, there are so many loving parents who precisely because they
love their children, they`re trying desperately to get them to the US. In
the western highlands, it`s climate change. In Honduras, it`s gangs. If a
gang comes after your 12-year-old daughter and the gang leader says he
wants her to be his girlfriend, if you love your child, you will get her
out of there to safety. And I`ve seen that over and over.
And, you know, there are things we can do to mitigate the situation. I
don`t believe in completely open boarders and letting everybody through.
But one thing that would work is try to improve governance in some of these
countries. We actually did made some real progress in El Salvador and over
two years, the number of people detained here dropped by half.
Guatemala on the other hand is going in a downward spiral, and we`re doing
nothing to try to address that. We can also try to provide in these areas
effected by climate change, our climate change, our carbon emissions, of
course. You know, we can try to provide drought resistant seeds, aid
programs and they really do make a difference. Instead we are cutting off
that aid. And, you know, it`s such a sad combination of policies that are
both heartless and ineffective and counterproductive.
O`DONNELL: Nick, if I were a Pulitzer Prize voter, I`d be voting for this
KRISTOF: Thank you. Good to see you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: I really appreciate it, thank you. And when we come back, a
Trump family lesson about military service.
O`DONNELL: Donald Trump`s vocabulary is and always has been the size of
his mind, which is to say very, very small. It takes a small man to be
produce the kind of angry and hateful tweets that Donald Trump does at all
hours of the day and night including from Air Force One using government
paid for telecommunications. And that small man is always limited to that
very, very small vocabulary of his.
And that`s why he said yesterday in London that he was never a fan of the
Vietnam War. That`s the way his tiny vocabulary expresses his likes and
dislikes. He`s either a fan or not a fan. He actually has no idea that
wars do not have fans. He has no idea that war is hell. And that though
some people might be proud of their military service during war, they are
not fans of the war they had to fight.
Donald Trump said more where the Vietnam War and why can he avoided service
in the Vietnam War yesterday. And I`ll have more to say about what Donald
Trump said, much more right after there break.
O`DONNELL: Yesterday in London, the only person in the world who seems to
believe that Donald Trump did not serve in the military because of a bone
spur asked him if he would have liked to serve in the military if it
weren`t for that pesky bone spur.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PIERS MORGAN, GOOD MORNING BRITAIN HOST: You were not able to serve in
Vietnam because of a bone spur condition in your femur. Do you wish you
had been able to serve? Would you have liked to have served your country?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: Well, I was never a fan of that
war. I`ll be honest with you, I thought it was a terrible war. I thought
it was very far away. Nobody ever, you know, you`re talking about Vietnam,
and at that time nobody ever heard of the country. Today, they`re doing
very well. And in fact, on trade they are brutal. They`re very brutal.
They`re great negotiators. They`re great business people. But nobody
heard of Vietnam. They`re saying what are we doing? So many people dying,
what is happening over there? So I was never a fan. This isn`t like I`m
fighting against Nazi Germany. I`m fighting it – we`re fighting against
Hitler. And I was like a lot of people.
Now, I wasn`t out in the streets marching. I wasn`t saying, you know, I`m
going to move to Canada, which a lot of people did, but, no, I was not a
fan of that war. That war was not something –
MORGAN: Would you liked to have served generally? That`s in –
TRUMP: I would not have minded at all. I would have been honored.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: I would have been honored. That would have made Donald Trump
the very first person named Trump honored by military service because that
is something Trumps just do not do.
Donald Trump`s grandfather, Frederick, did not do his mandatory military
service when he was living in Bavaria. When he tried to Bavaria after he
obtained American citizenship, he was ordered to leave the kingdom of
Bavaria in 1945 or be deported. And unfortunately for history, he returned
to the United States.
Donald Trump`s father was 36 years old when World War II started in the
United States, the United States participation started. All men up to age
45 had to register for the draft during World War II in this country.
Plenty of men of Donald Trump`s father`s age and Donald Trump`s father`s
situation served in World War II. But no one in Donald Trump`s family did
that. That`s just not what they do.
When Donald Trump was asked about this yesterday, he knew no sane person
could believe his bone spurs story and so he simply stressed that he wasn`t
a fan of the war because we weren`t fighting Hitler and Nazi Germany, an
enemy that Donald Trump`s father chose not to fight. And remember, that
Donald Trump`s father was actually arrested at a Ku Klux Klan rally in New
York City years before that. So we don`t really know just how sympathetic
to Hitler Donald Trump`s father might have been.
It`s hard to find an American Donald Trump`s age who is not related to
anyone who fought on the American side in World War II. His other
complaint about Vietnam is that it is very far away, which would rule out
Donald Trump`s participation in every war the United States has fought
except maybe the civil war.
But in those days, Virginia was considered very far away from New York
City. Donald trump says nobody ever heard of Vietnam, by which he means he
had never heard of Vietnam, but that`s not true.
Donald Trump got medical deferments to avoid military service from 1964 to
1972. During that time, two presidential campaigns, 1968 and 1972, were
run with the Vietnam War as the number one issue in the presidential
campaign. Bobby Kennedy got into the 1968 presidential campaign as an
anti-Vietnam war candidate.
Donald trump knew that. Bobby Kennedy died from an assassin`s bullet on
this day, 51 years ago, after he won the California Primary. Even Donald
Trump couldn`t have missed that news 16 days after he graduated from
college in 1968.
Donald Trump knew all about Vietnam and he knew he didn`t want to die
there. And like millions of other young men in those years, he tried to
find a way out. He found the rich kid way out. His father had a doctor
who was a tenant in one of his buildings and the doctor wrote a note to the
draft board about Donald Trump`s bone spur. Donald Trump seems very proud
that he did not protest the war, but that is what is so wrong about Donald
He says he was never a fan of the war but he wasn`t going to say that out
loud. He says I wasn`t out in the streets marching, and that`s the
problem. Donald Trump`s moral failure was that he was not out in the
streets marching. The Vietnam War presented a moral challenge to America
and a challenge to our definition of the responsibilities of citizenship.
John Kerry met that challenge by volunteering for the navy and after he
graduated from Yale, he then served in combat in Vietnam, and when he left
the navy, he continued to do what he was trying to do in Vietnam, save
lives. And the way to save lives when John Kerry returned from Vietnam was
to try to stop the war. To do what Donald Trump is so proud he did not do.
John Kerry did go out into the streets marching. John Kerry did testify to
the United States senate against the Vietnam War. John Kerry joined the
millions and millions, and millions of war protesters in the United States
who kept marching and kept protesting, and kept changing minds every day in
America, including in Congress, and eventually turned this country against
what was an immoral and unwinnable war for the United States in Vietnam.
The war ended when it did, in 1975, because the peace movement, which
Donald Trump had no part of, forced that war to end when it did. The peace
movement saved lives, saved American military lives by ending that war when
And so the real answer to what Donald Trump did during the Vietnam War is
nothing. He chose none of the morally justifiable options that he was
confronted with because he didn`t even know what they were. He is proud
that he did not serve in the war because he wasn`t a fan of the war, and he
was proud that he wasn`t out in the streets marching.
When Donald Trump`s father got him that doctor`s note that got him out of
the draft, the minimal morally responsible thing to do was to take to the
streets marching to try to stop that war, to try to save the life of the
boy who was going to be drafted instead of Donald Trump and Donald Trump
did not do that. Donald Trump did nothing. Because in war that`s what
Trumps always do.
That`s tonight`s “Last Word,” “The 11th Hour” with Brian Williams starts
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Copyright 2019 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are
protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the