Trump insults Pelosi, Mueller in France. TRANSCRIPT: 6/6/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.

Guests:
Nicholas Kristof, Jamie Raskin, Chris Van Hollen
Transcript:

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

Amendment. 

 

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

today. 

 

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

tomorrow. 

 

O`DONNELL:  That you didn`t say.  That`s right.  Well, such is the power of

Rachel Maddow. 

 

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

Nancy Pelosi. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST:  Do you mind if he testifies still?  Before

you said you didn`t care. 

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

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

thing. 

 

(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

Gathering Storm.”

 

(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

think. 

 

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

books. 

 

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

evidence. 

 

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 – 

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

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

justice there? 

 

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

of interest. 

 

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

those circumstances. 

 

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

king. 

 

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

behavior. 

 

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. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

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

those transactions. 

 

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

activities. 

 

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

on this? 

 

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

Deutsche Bank. 

 

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

responsibility. 

 

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

answers? 

 

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

country. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

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

here anymore.

 

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

anymore.

 

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

United States.

 

After this break, we will be joined by Nick Kristof with more of what he

learned in Guatemala about why they come.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

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

Nicholas Kristof.

 

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

there. 

 

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

column today. 

 

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.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

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.

 

(COMMERCIAL 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

Trump`s history.

 

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

it did.

 

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

now.

 

 

 

 

END   

 

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