Trump: I’d take foreign govt dirt. TRANSCRIPT: 6/12/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.

Guests:
Raja Krishnamoorthi, Jennifer Ruben; Frank Figliuzzi; Raja Krishnamoorthi; Sam Stein; Lloyd Duggett; Chuck Rosenberg; Chris Sommerfeldt
Transcript:

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

 

And, yes, we`re going to continue the breaking news coverage of what the

president had to say tonight.  One word that I want to focus on with you

just for a second in everything the president said.  When he got to the

hypothetical of a foreign country, a foreign national, foreign citizen

helping a campaign making a contribution of opposition research to a

campaign, he cited in his version of the hypothetical, the country of

Norway. 

 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, “TRMS”:  Norway.  I knew you were going to say

that. 

 

O`DONNELL:  It`s not going to be Norway.  It`s not.  It`s kind of close to

Norway.  I mean, close enough. 

 

MADDOW:  Given the – 

 

O`DONNELL:  Russia, North Korea.  Yes. 

 

MADDOW:  Given the other ways he`s like randomly brought up Norway in other

contexts like we can sort of get around to the idea of what he was trying

to imply by suggesting Norway as the benign friendly nation that might be

offering this stuff, but yes, the president admitting that the FBI director

would be wrong in his estimation for suggesting that the FBI should be

contacted in light of such an overture that he`d be happy to accept this

information essentially telling world he`s ready to get this stuff for his

2020 campaign. 

 

I mean, I never cover anything the president says and I threw my whole show

out tonight because of that, I can`t believe it. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Yes, and let`s remember this is in the middle of a presidential

campaign. 

 

MADDOW:  Yes. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Middle of a presidential campaign.  Donald Trump is the worst

presidential campaign we`ve ever seen.  Now that doesn`t mean the worst

presidential campaigner can`t squeak out the Electoral College, as we saw

last time with fewer votes than the actual winner of the vote in this

peculiar format we have with the Electoral College. 

 

But he`s a terrible – if you look at this in terms of you`re running the

Trump re-election campaign, how did my candidate handle himself today. 

Well, he said he`s willing to commit federal crimes to get re-elected. 

 

MADDOW:  And if in fact this next time around, he once again accepts help

from a foreign adversary, this time, we`ll have his full complete

confession of criminal intent on tape in advance for any prosecutor who

needs to look at it. 

 

O`DONNELL:  So, Rachel, I know you have to work on questions for the

debate.  This one tonight gives you something to think about to put it

mildly. 

 

MADDOW:  Yes.  I mean, do you even have to ask the Democratic candidates,

would you guys call the FBI? 

 

O`DONNELL:  Yes, I have a feeling it`s going to come up no matter what you

ask at the debate. 

 

MADDOW:  Has Norway called? 

 

O`DONNELL:  Thank you, Rachel. 

 

Well, tonight, the president of the United States said he would break the

law to win re-election.  That is the essential headline of the night.  The

president of the United States is willing to violate the law to win his re-

election. 

 

And in an interview with ABC`s George Stephanopoulos, President Trump was

asked if a foreign government offers him information on his opponent, will

he accept that help from a foreign government, or a foreign national.  Will

he call the FBI? 

 

President Trump said you don`t call the FBI.  Those were his exact words. 

You don`t call the FBI.  That`s what he said. 

 

He also said, I think I`d want to hear it.  Those were his exact words. 

I`d want to hear it, meaning he would want to hear exactly what the foreign

national or foreign government was actually illegally offering him. 

 

Here`s what federal law says about this.  It says, it shall be unlawful for

a foreign national, directly or indirectly to, make a contribution or

donation of money or – this is the important part – other thing of value,

or to making an express or implied promise to make a contribution or

donation, in connection with a federal, state, or local election.

 

That law also says it shall be unlawful for a person to solicit – and

here`s the president`s role in this – accept, that word accept, solicit or

accept or receive a contribution or donation from a foreign national.  The

president said he would accept it. 

 

The law does regard opposition research as a thing of value for a political

campaign.  But in his interview with George Stephanopoulos, the president

showed no evidence that he has any understanding of the law that he will

seems to be willing to violate.  George Stephanopoulos began his sequence

of questions by asking about Donald Trump Jr.`s appearance once again today

in a closed-door session of the Senate intelligence Committee. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR:  Your son Don Jr. is up before the

Senate Intelligence Committee again today.  He was not charged with

anything.  In retrospect, though – 

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Not only wasn`t he charged,

if you read it, with all of the horrible fake news – I mean, I was reading

that my son was going to go to jail.  This is a good young man, that he was

going to go to jail. 

 

STEPHANOPOULOS:  In June of 2016, just months before the election, Don Jr.

received an email from a business associate promising dirt on Hillary

Clinton from the Russian government.  Don Jr.`s response, if it`s what you

say, I love it. 

 

The conversation led to a meeting in Trump Tower that included the

president`s son, his son-in-law Jared Kushner and a Russian lawyer.  Don.

Jr. insists nothing came of it.

 

And special counsel Robert Mueller concluded there was not enough evidence

to charge a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia. 

 

TRUMP:  And then the report comes out and they didn`t even say –

 

STEPHANOPOULOS:  Should he have gone to the FBI when he got that email? 

 

TRUMP:  OK, let`s put yourself in a position.  You`re a congressman. 

Somebody comes up and says, hey, I have information on your opponent.  Do

you call the FBI? 

 

STEPHANOPOULOS:  If it`s coming from Russia, you do. 

 

TRUMP:  I`ll tell you what?  I`ve seen a lot of things over my life.  I

don`t think in my whole life I`ve ever called the FBI.  In my whole life. 

 

You don`t call the FBI.  You throw somebody out of your office.  You do

whatever –

 

STEPHANOPOULOS:  Al Gore got a stolen briefing book, he called the FBI. 

 

TRUMP:  Well, that`s different.  A stolen briefing book.  This isn`t a

stuff – this is somebody that said we have information on your opponent. 

Oh, let me call the FBI.  Give me a break.  Life doesn`t work that way. 

 

STEPHANOPOULOS:  The FBI director says that should happen. 

 

TRUMP:  The FBI direct ser wrong. 

 

STEPHANOPOULOS:  Your campaign this time around, if foreigners, if Russia,

if China, if someone else offers you information on opponents, should they

accept it or should they call the FBI? 

 

TRUMP:  I think maybe you do both.  I think you might want to listen.  I

don`t – there`s nothing wrong with listening.  If somebody called, from a

country, Norway, we have information on your opponent, oh, I think I`d want

to hear it. 

 

STEPHANOPOULOS:  You want that kind of interference in our elections? 

 

TRUMP:  It`s not interference.  They have information.  I think I would

take it. 

 

If I thought there was something wrong, I`d go maybe to the FBI, if I

thought there was something wrong.

 

But when somebody comes up with oppo research, right, they come up with

oppo research, oh, let`s call the FBI.  The FBI doesn`t have enough agents

to take care of it. 

 

But you go and talk honestly to congressmen, they all do it and they always

have.  That`s the way it is.  It`s called oppo research. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Here`s what FBI Director Christopher Wray said about that last

month. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR:  I think my view is that any public

official or member of any campaign is contacted by any nation state or

anybody acting on behalf of a nation state about influencing or interfering

with your our election, then, that`s something that the FBI would want to

know about. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Leading off our discussion tonight: Chuck Rosenberg, former

senior FBI official and former U.S. attorney. He was also former counsel to

Robert Mueller at the FBI and now hosts the MSNBC podcast “The Oath.” 

 

Also with us, Frank Figliuzzi, former FBI assistant director for

counterintelligence. 

 

And Rick Stengel is with us.  He`s a former undersecretary of state in the

Obama administration.

 

All three are MSNBC analysts.

 

And, Chuck Rosenberg, let me start with you.  President Trump said tonight,

if they have information, I think I`d take it.  At that point, he was

referring to Norway.  Is it OK to take the information if it comes from

Norway? 

 

CHUCK ROSENBERG, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  It is not OK to take it from Norway,

from Ireland, from Canada, from Russia, from China, name a foreign country,

Lawrence, it`s not OK. 

 

And, by the way, this is not really a close call.  You know, in the

universe in which we live, in the real universe, there are bad ideas and

there are incredibly bad ideas.  An incredibly bad idea is to take

information from a foreign national.  Federal law prohibits it. 

 

And I`m sure Frank Figliuzzi will tell you, it`s also a really bad idea

because it is the start, it is the beginning of a foreign influence

operation.  And so, one thing we can be sure of, Mr. Trump did not read the

Mueller report.  In fact, in the Mueller report, they spend a lot of pages

and a whole bunch of ink discussing why this is not OK. 

 

Now, in the end in the Mueller report, they say we may not be able to

charge the Trump Tower offer of information under federal criminal law. 

But nowhere do they say it`s OK.  It`s not OK, Lawrence. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And here`s the president saying he would accept it and I just

read the law that makes accepting it illegal as well as it`s illegal for

the foreign national to offer it.  I want to isolate something in

particular the president said and this is president of the United States as

mob boss talking about his own personal notion of when you call the FBI and

why he in his entire life, his entire life, has never called the FBI.

 

And let`s all remember, this is somebody who operated casinos in Atlantic

City.  This is someone in the commercial real estate business in New York

City where the FBI has actually had a lot of investigative leads over the

years.  Let`s listen to the president talking about why you don`t ever call

the FBI. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP:  I`ve seen a lot of things over my life.  I don`t think in my whole

life I`ve ever called the FBI in my whole life.  You don`t call the FBI. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Frank Figliuzzi, what does that sound like to you? 

 

FRANK FIGLIUZZI, MSNBC ANALYST:  Sounds like the Copo in La Cosa Nostra

saying that, we take care of things in this thing of ours.  We don`t get

anybody from outside involved.  We don`t talk to the feds.  That`s what it

sounds like to me. 

 

Lawrence, I want to focus on something the president said which is it`s OK

to listen.  It`s OK to listen if you`re offered some as he called it

research oppo from a foreign nation.  Here`s what`s wrong with a

counterintelligence perspective – the moment you agree to sit down and

listen, the moment they agree to sit down at that Trump Tower and listen to

dirt being offered on Hillary Clinton, they are owned by that foreign

power.  That is the recruitment operation. 

 

You don`t have to accept it.  You don`t have to receive it.  Yes, you`ve

just cited the law and those are statutory elements for a crime. 

 

But on the counterintelligence side, the second you sit down and agree to

do something shady, they own you.  And I`m more convinced than ever over

what we`ve heard from the president regarding CIA not being able, he

wouldn`t allow CIA to recruit the half-brother of Kim Jong-un, he doesn`t

believe anything`s wrong with taking oppo research up to an including the

next election, I`m more convinced than ever this president may well be

owned or will soon be owned by the time the 2020 election is over. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Rick Stengel, you are the only one among us who has worked on a

presidential campaign.  You worked on the campaign that came in second for

the Democratic nomination in 2000, Senator Bill Bradley. 

 

You`re working on that campaign.  You get a call from a Russian or from

someone in Norway or North Korea, some source saying we have some

information on Al Gore, we have some information on your opponent. 

 

What do you do? 

 

RICHARD STENGEL, MSNBC ANALYST:  You know, the expression call the FBI is a

bit of a misnomer.  You would take and that to the head of the campaign and

say I got this solicitation, I got this call.  You would then call the

Federal Election Commission.  There is a whole range of activities that

pretty much anybody in a domestic American campaign knows that you can`t do

that kind of thing. 

 

So, you would certainly alert the other people in the campaign to it and

call the federal election board. 

 

O`DONNELL:  The president tonight is saying everyone does it.  He`s saying

every member of Congress would do it, which means every Republican member

of Congress must now tell us how many times they have done this. 

 

STENGEL:  Well, that would be good to know.  I mean, what he doesn`t seem

to understand the law is meant to restrain some impulses we have.  His

impulses is that he would do anything.  He would talk to the devil in order

to defeat his opponent which also wouldn`t be legal. 

 

And, by the way, the only time – he didn`t even call the FBI when he fired

the head of the FBI. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Yes.  Well, Chuck Rosenberg, the one time he did call the FBI

is when he wanted the FBI to go easy on Mike Flynn. 

 

ROSENBERG:  Yes, you know, I recall that.  The other thing I recall the

president saying, Lawrence, which is also a really odd thing for a

president to say is that – remember when he said he`s been around flippers

his entire life?

 

O`DONNELL:  Yes.

 

ROSENBERG:  He knows flippers.  He knows what they`re like, referring to

cooperating witnesses with that slang term.  I mean, who is around

flippers, back to Frank`s point?  People around flippers their entire life,

people who never call the FBI tend to be criminals.  That`s who they hang

out with, that`s who they know, that`s their currency. 

 

So, it`s really not all that surprising.  It`s incredibly disappointing,

but it`s not all that surprising because it`s really more of the same. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Frank, it is very difficult to imagine anything that we talk

about in Trump world happening in a previous presidency, but imagine if you

will, during your time of service in the FBI, that the president of the

United States on a very simple black and white letter of the law matter

simply said, publicly, emphatically, the FBI director is wrong.  What would

the FBI director do in any other world other than Trump world? 

 

FIGLIUZZI:  Well, if we had normalcy, we would have the director offer to

sit down in the Oval Office and explain the law and the counterintelligence

mission of the bureau, but we don`t live in normalcy.  We might have an FBI

director come out and say, I want you to understand, public and Congress,

everyone needs to know we`re on the same page here, you call us and here`s

why. 

 

But we don`t live in normalcy.  So, what`s going to happen?  Likely

nothing.  Why? 

 

Because of fear that the attack on the institution of the FBI has now

reached the point of a personal attack on Trump`s own hand-picked director. 

The Republican director of the FBI that Trump picked is now being

personally attacked.  We`ve hit the end of the spectrum in terms of attack

on the institution and it`s about time that the public stood up and said

that`s enough.  That`s enough of attacking people who are simply trying to

protect the country. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Chuck Rosenberg, you were once a counsel to the director of the

FBI who was then Robert Mueller.  You`re at home.  You`re watching TV.  You

watch the president of the United States say the FBI director is wrong. 

 

You pick up the phone.  You call the FBI director and advise him to do

what? 

 

ROSENBERG:  Wow.  Tough question. 

 

I think in this case, Chris Wray has said everything he needs to say.  He

just happens to have said it a month ago.  I mean, it`s awfully tempting to

come out every time the president says something that`s wrong and rebut

him. 

 

But then Chris Wray would be doing nothing else in his job other than

rebutting the president.  The law is clear.  The director of the FBI was

clear when he testified before Congress about the law.  The men and women

in law enforcement and the intelligence community know what`s required. 

 

Rick Stengel explained to us that people who work in serious campaigns know

what`s required.  I`m not sure I would tell Chris Wray that he needed to

say something else.  And I don`t expect that he will.  He was perfectly

clear. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Chuck, what about the attorney general? 

 

ROSENBERG:  Well, right.  So the attorney general is in a different and

more political position.  I would hope at the very least, to Frank`s point

that the attorney general would sit down with the president and say, Mr.

President, if this is your understanding of the law, then your

understanding is flat out wrong.  I don`t know that he will. 

 

But somebody ought to advise the president because if others are taking

advice from the president on this point, they`re also going to find

themselves in trouble. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Joe Biden tweeting within the hour saying President Trump is

once again welcoming foreign enter in our elections.  This isn`t about

politics.  It is a threat to our national security.  An American president

should not seek their aid and abet those who seek to undermine democracy. 

 

Rick, aiding and abetting. 

 

STENGEL:  And you know what else this was, Lawrence?  This was a signal to

Russia because you know who would have opposition research on the

Democratic candidates and Joe Biden in particular?  Russia. 

 

What Trump was saying is, look, I will welcome this information.  I will

suborn the law, I would undermine the law to defeat my opponent and work

with a hostile foreign power trying to undermine our democracy.  That`s

what I`m going to do. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And, Chuck, to that point, Donald Trump has committed so many

of the violations of norms and possibly violations of laws publicly by

saying during the campaign Russia, if you`re listening, you know, give us

the e mails.  This seems to be another one of those instances where Donald

Trump publicly declares a willingness to violate the law and he seems to

believe that there is protection for him in doing this stuff as long as he

does it publicly and on TV. 

 

ROSENBERG:  Yes, although ignorance is never a defense of the law,

Lawrence, as you well know. 

 

And so, the fact that the president doesn`t know the law, misstates the law

and violates the law is really not going to help him.  What`s going to help

him quite frankly is existing Department of Justice policy which says you

can`t indict a sitting president.  I mean, in an odd way here, we have the

president telling the truth.  I would take it, I would be the call the FBI

and everybody does it. 

 

I don`t know about that last part.  I don`t think everybody does it.  But

the first two parts I would take it, there`s nothing wrong with it, really

is a window on to his soul. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Joining our discussion now is Democratic Congressman Raja

Krishnamoorthi.  He`s a member of the House from Illinois.  He`s also on

the House Oversight Committee and Intelligence Committees.

 

Adding her voice to our discussion is Jennifer Rubin.  She`s an opinion

writer at “The Washington Post” and MSNBC contributor. 

 

And, Congressman, I want your reaction to what the president said today. 

He said in his interview with George Stephanopoulos, I think I`d take it. 

And what he was talking about was help from a foreign power or a foreign

national to win re-election. 

 

REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL):  It was astonishing.  I mean, he

contradicted not only his FBI director but today in our intelligence

hearing, even Fox contributor Andrew McCarthy said he wouldn`t take such a

meeting with a hostile foreign power. 

 

Another thing that he said is he thinks every congressman does this type of

thing.  I can say for a fact, I have not yet met a single member of

Congress who would accept opposition research from a foreign power, not

even from Norway which he kept talking about in that interview.  But this

is all ludicrous. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Congressman, what about Republican members of the House?  Their

president tonight said they all do this, they would all be willing to do

this.  Do you expect them to come forward and say, no, we don`t do this? 

 

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  Well, again, I haven`t met a Republican member of Congress

who privately or publicly has said anything like this.  But if somebody is

out there who actually does had type of thing, I would like them to step

forward and tell us that they do or someone else to tell us because I would

assert that this is illegal.  You know, there`s a campaign finance law that

says that you cannot accept anything of value from a foreign power. 

 

Now, one of the reasons that Robert Mueller did not charge members of the

Trump campaign with this campaign finance violation is because he said that

they did not know that it was wrongful or illegal to accept such

information.  However, now, I don`t think anybody can say that they will

have such ignorance of the law with regard to this campaign finance rule. 

 

So I think at this point, I hope that every elected official and candidate

for office out there in America does not do what the president says that

they should do and instead goes to the FBI as Chris Wray advised them. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Jennifer Rubin, is it possible that the president`s

interpretation, I won`t say reading because I think we all know he`s never

read a word of the Mueller report, but his interpretation of the result of

the Mueller report is he got away with everything, and he`s continuing to

get away with everything in that described in that report?  Which means he

can do it again and he can do it as directly as he stated to George

Stephanopoulos tonight, he`s willing to do it. 

 

JENNIFER RUBIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  I think that`s exactly right.  That`s

his mantra is – no collusion, no obstruction.  He`s doing nothing wrong. 

 

He claims to have been exonerated by the Mueller report.  We know that`s

not true.  We know there`s substantial evidence of obstruction, but in

Trump`s mind, he`s gotten a clean bill of health. 

 

And this is the problem with not taking swift congressional action.  This

is the problem with Mr. Mueller not coming out to explain the contents of

the report on the assumption that Americans it actually read a 448-page

report which they don`t.  And I think we rein dire need of hearings and

maybe we`ll get them now with direct witnesses, Mr. McGahn, Hope Hicks, and

others that explain and explicate the crimes that this president has

committed. 

 

I must say, this episode has also left me scratching my head a bit.  Why

didn`t Mr. Mueller find that president had violated this campaign finance

reform?  It seems pretty obvious that he knows what he`s doing.  He is

seeking help from a foreign power and ignorance of the law is not really an

excuse as Chuck has said. 

 

So, wouldn`t it have been better for all concerned if Mr. Mueller found and

had pointed out that the president of the United States an unindicted co-

conspirator by the way with Mr. Michael Cohen, his former lawyer, did in

fact break the law? 

 

O`DONNELL:  Chuck Rosenberg, take that one and thread the legal needles for

us the way you interpret Robert Mueller did on those issues that Jennifer

was just talking about. 

 

ROSENBERG:  Yes, good question.  In fact, the Mueller team spends quite a

few pages on this very issue.  For those who don`t want to read all of the

report, start at page 184.  I think that`s where the discussion is most

important. 

 

So, the Mueller team says a couple of things, Lawrence.  They say number

one, willfulness is hard to prove in this case and, by the way, that`s

always true in white collar cases.  Willfulness is always hard to prove. 

Much easier in a bank robbery than in a tax fraud. 

 

And second, they talk about the difficulty of establishing that the

information that was to be passed at the Trump Tower meeting was,

quote/unquote, a thing of value.  And so, without getting into the legal

weeds here, there is a lot of thought and a lot of consideration given to

whether what happened at the Trump Tower meeting is a violation of federal

criminal law. 

 

My reading is that it is.  But I understand why the Mueller team was being

careful and folks who want to see their reasoning can start at page 184,

read three, four, five pages and you`ll see what they`re getting at. 

 

O`DONNELL:  But, Chuck, one follow-up to what Jennifer said.  If you were

making this case again on the re-election campaign, there would be no issue

of ignorance of the law that could possibly survive and it would seem to me

it would be much easier to clear the intent threshold especially after you

heard the president tonight. 

 

ROSENBERG:  Yes, I think that the president probably took care of the

willfulness element for everybody tonight. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Yes, and everyone working on his campaign. 

 

ROSENBERG:  And everybody working on his campaign and anybody who is alive

and breathing and paying attention to the words of the president of the

United States. 

 

While willfulness is difficult to prove, Lawrence, it`s not impossible. 

And when the president of the United States misstated the law tonight, I

would hope that somebody on his staff went to him and corrected him,

perhaps it will be the attorney general.  But I think he just took

willfulness off the table.  That becomes easier to prove if this happens

again. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Rick, I have a feeling one of the next chapters coming in this

is actually watching the attorney general of the United States find some

kind of defensive language for what the president said tonight.  Since he

has managed to our surprise to find that for virtually everything the

president says. 

 

STENGEL:  Yes, remember his first excuse for the president is wouldn`t a

person in the president`s position be upset about this kind of behavior? 

Wouldn`t he naturally react this way? 

 

But, of course, naturally reacting to want to have the information is also

a violation of the law.  The attorney general should be the chief law

enforcement officer of the United States.  He shouldn`t excuse this kind of

behavior. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Let`s listen to what the chairman of the House Intelligence

Committee told Rachel in the previous hour. 

 

This is Congressman Adam Schiff. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA):  There is no ethical standard.  There is no bar

below which he will not go. 

 

What I find so striking about this is he went to such trouble to deceive

the country about that Trump Tower meeting.  He dictated that false

statement about adoptions to mislead people.  So, if this was so perfectly

OK as he would have us believe, why did he go to such trouble to deceive

the country about that meeting. 

 

I think what the president is really saying is, yes, I knew this was

unethical and maybe illegal and I would do it again. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Congressman Krishnamoorthi, you served on that same committee,

the intelligence committee, with Chairman Schiff.  Your reaction to what

you just heard the chairman say. 

 

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  That`s exactly right.  I agree with the chairman on this

particular point which is, you know, if it wasn`t something that was a

problem, why did they go to the lengths to cover it up, what are they

trying to hide, right?  That has really been the question that we`ve asked

with regard to a lot of their behavior. 

 

And certainly in this situation, whether it was the Trump Tower meeting in

June of 2016 or in other episodes, there was a lot of behavior that

indicated that they knew that the underlying conduct was wrong, unethical,

wrongful, and perhaps they also knew that it was illegal. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Elizabeth Warren has just tweeted: The Mueller report made it

clear a foreign government attacked our 2016 elections to support Trump,

Trump welcomed that help and Trump obstructed the investigation.  Now, he

said he would do it all over again. 

 

And her last line is: It is time to impeach Donald Trump.  That`s something

she has said before. 

 

Let`s listen to what another presidential candidate Kamala Harris said

earlier tonight on this network with Stephanie Ruhle. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Listen, he`s the

commander in chief and has a duty and a responsibility to the American

people to be a defender if not the greatest defender of our democracy.  And

but to quite the contrary, what we hear tonight is that is yet again open

to the idea of working with foreign governments to undermine the integrity

of our election system.  It`s outrageous and it tells me the guy just

doesn`t under the job and can`t do it very well. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Jennifer Rubin, he is commander-in-chief.  He`s also a

candidate for president. 

 

How is this campaign day working for President Trump? 

 

RUBIN:  Well, I think every Democratic candidate down to the lowly of the

lows is going to be able to exploit this one.  And we forget because we are

so hung up on the legality, we`re so hung up on impeachment.  You have to

ask a much more fundamental question, which is how can anyone in their

right mind and good conscience support putting this guy in office for

another four years which is what every single Republican is advising that

we do?

 

He is a mess.  He has betrayed his country.  He will do it again. 

 

If he`s reelected, can you imagine how much bolder he`s going to be?  What

he`s going to do then?  It`s really catastrophic. 

 

I do want to go back to something about Mr. Barr.  If you remember during

his confirmation hearing, he was asked whether you should report something

from a foreign power to the FBI.  There was a long pregnant pause. 

 

And finally he said, from a foreign intelligence service?  Yes.  That was a

very interesting answer in retrospect.  Was he trying to carve out some

area for the president where it`s OK in his mind, the attorney general of

the United States now, to accept help from a foreign government or foreign

actor as long as it isn`t someone who is working inside the security

services of a foreign government? 

 

Now, that`s really stunning.  And I think that`s worthy of some

investigation and an open hearing to find out what exactly he meant by

that. 

 

O`DONNELL: Jennifer, you have sent our control room searching for that

video right now.

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

I remember the moment, but only now that you`ve mentioned it. But if I

remembered it earlier, we would have had that video for us. We`ll find it

before the hour is over.

 

Frank Figliuzzi, take us inside the FBI right now, and let`s not for the

moment consider what the Director might or might not do publicly, including

by the way the possibility of resigning, which in previous administrations,

there was such a thing as the honorable resignation, if the President

crossed a line like this with someone`s department.

 

But inside the FBI, what should Christopher Wray do, what should the agents

in the FBI who hear the President, who is at the top of their

organizational chart, saying the FBI Director is wrong, I am willing to

commit a crime, how should the FBI and FBI agents react to that? What

should they be thinking about in terms of what this President is capable

of?

 

FRANK FIGLIUZZI, FORMER ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FOR COUNTERINTELLIGENCE, FBI: So

first, I know that Christopher Wray is a respected leader internally and I

think what we`ll probably - will hear from folks in the rank and file is

that he will likely send a message to the troops. He might do it as soon as

tomorrow.

 

And it will be a couple of paragraphs in an all-employee email that says,

look, we`ve got to do our job and keep our head down. Here are the laws and

the counterintelligence concerns regarding accepting data, money or thing

of value from a foreign power. And no matter who has a different opinion

and what level that person is at, our job is to enforce the law and protect

the nation from foreign adversaries and we`re going to do that every single

day.

 

I think that we`ll see something like that from him internally. I think

Chuck`s right. I don`t think he will make a public statement about it. But

I think in the weeks and months to come, as he has appearances on the Hill,

as he gives lectures and keynote addresses, you will see him subtly or not

work this into a speech and say, we`re going to protect this country and

our elections from foreign adversaries.

 

O`DONNELL: Congressman Krishnamoorthi, we`ve never seen this before. I`m

not aware of any time in our history where a President has publicly

declared his willingness to commit a crime. Impeachment processes have

always been about something the President has already done.

 

You`ve heard Elizabeth Warren ended her public statement tonight with the

statement that he should be impeached; that`s something should believe

before tonight. What does this statement do to impeachment momentum in the

House of Representatives?

 

KRISHNAMOORTHI: I`m not sure. But I think that what it does is it further

unifies our caucus on one issue, which is breaking through the obstruction

with regard to the investigations that are happening in the Intelligence

Committee, the Oversight Committee, Judiciary and elsewhere.

 

One thing which we didn`t touch up on today was actually in the Oversight

Committee, we held Mr. Barr and Mr. Ross in an unrelated matter in contempt

of Congress. And I think that these types of matters are unfortunately

going to recur unless the Trump administration begins to cooperate with

these investigations.

 

One last thing I just want to point out, which is one thing that he brought

up in my mind when he answered those questions the way he did with George

Stephanopoulos is, has he potentially been approached about receiving

information now on Mr. Biden or others.

 

We know that Mr. Giuliani was about to make a trip to the Ukraine with

regard to potential information about one of the Bidens, and then he

stopped that trip. I`m just concerned that perhaps something might be

unfolding right now in this regard. And therefore, I hope that the FBI is

ever vigilant.

 

O`DONNELL: We`ll have to take a break here. Congressman Raja

Krishnamoorthi, Jennifer Ruben, Rick Stengel, Frank Figliuzzi, thank you

very much for starting us up tonight, really appreciate that.

 

We have more on this breaking news after this break. And one of the

President`s closest advisors Hope Hicks has broken the wall of defiance -

the Trump wall of defiance on responding to House Committee subpoenas. She

has agreed to testify to the House Judiciary Committee next week.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: Here is some of that interview where George Stephanopoulos led

the President through a series of questions in which the President said

that he was absolutely willing to break the law and accept help from a

foreign national or a foreign country in his re-election campaign. Let`s

listen to this piece of it.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`ve seen a lot of things

over in my life. I don`t think in my whole life I`ve ever called the FBI,

in my whole life. You don`t call the FBI.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O”DONNELL: You don`t call the FBI, that`s what the President of the United

States says. The Director of the FBI in testimony just a month ago to

Congress said you absolutely do call the FBI, you must call the FBI in that

situation.

 

Joining our discussion now is Sam Stein, he`s the Politics Editor at The

Daily Beast; he is also an MSNBC Political Analyst. Chuck Rosenberg is

still with us. Sam, you`re reading on what this story means for the

President tonight.

 

SAM STEIN, POLITICS EDITOR, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, on the one hand, it`s

stunning. It`s a stunning admission that in fact he probably does feel like

he needs a foreign government`s help for re-election. It`s stunning to hear

someone utter the words that he did in that position, knowing of course

that he`s in the midst of a two-plus year-long investigation into actions

directly like this.

 

It`s just a sheer almost political and legal malpractice. And then on the

other hand, it`s not stunning at all. This is who Trump is. He views the

world in a very binary fashion. Things that are good for him are good, and

things that are bad for him are bad. And therefore, a government wants to

help him, then that can`t be bad. And so, what struck me tonight is not

necessarily what this means for Trump honestly. What struck me tonight is

what this means for Democrats.

 

For two years, before we took over the House, the constant refrain when we

heard Trump say things like this was, will the Republican Party ever say

anything and stand up to him, and of course the answer was almost

universally no. Well, that changed in January of 2018 - sorry 2019, I`d

say, when the Democrats took over the House. Suddenly, the onus of

responsibility fell on them because they had the power to do something

about it.

 

And this is one of those inflection points and there have been many, but

this is a very important one, where no longer do we say, well the

Republicans we know what they`re going to do. It`s what will the Democrats

do? Will it be enough to just say we`re going to look into this, will it be

enough to haul someone before a Committee, or will there be an amplified

pressure to begin impeachment inquiry over his comments like this? And my

reading is - it`s an early reading - my early reading is that the answer is

probably no and that this will fall into the ether of traditionally loony

Trump comments.

 

O`DONNELL: Well, we`ve got someone to answer that question for you, Sam.

We`re joined now by Congressman Lloyd Doggett. He is a member of the House

Ways and Means Committee, one of the senior members of that Committee,

Congressman from Texas.

 

Congressman Doggett, to Sam Stein`s question, what does this breaking news

about the President do to the impeachment momentum in the House of

Representatives?

 

REP. LLOYD DOGGETT (D-TX): I think it adds more reason for us to move ahead

with an impeachment inquiry. The President`s comments are astounding,

they`re alarming, they`re a threat to our national security. It`s as if we

were back in 2016, and he is saying Russia, if you are listening. Well

tonight, he`s really saying the same thing, not only to Russia but to all

our adversaries.

 

He is for once telling the truth about what he would do and I suppose the

heads of criminal organizations don`t tell the FBI, but we expect more of

our President. And so, I do find - I think Sam is absolutely right. I do

find it`s still astounding that Republican enablers will be silent or will

make some excuse for the President.

 

But now we`re to June, halfway through this year, and Democrats have yet to

go to court to enforce subpoenas, requiring anyone to come before the

Congress, or requiring the production of documents of late.

 

It`s time for us to act, to begin this inquiry. And if your member of

Congress won`t act, then I think the public needs to say why not and to ask

their member to reflect their concern that we have a President who is

engaged in one criminal act after another who always puts himself first and

our nation last.

 

O`DONNELL: And Congressman, we now have a President tonight who is saying

he would violate the law. He is willing to do that. And so, I`ve never seen

in the impeachment process, I don`t think there has never been in the

impeachment process an issue involving the President`s future behavior.

 

You now have - it seems possible now to craft an article of impeachment

eventually that would say, because the President says that he will do this,

he will violate the law in the future, we vote to remove him from office.

 

There`s some version of an article of impeachment here that actually has a

future tense in it and I don`t think we`ve ever seen that before.

 

DOGGETT: Lawrence, I think that`s right. And of course, we need an

impeachment inquiry to perhaps narrow it down a bit, because when you look

at all the criminal wrongdoing that is apparent here, it would be an

encyclopedic impeachment document.

 

We need to inquire carefully. We begin with the presumption of innocence,

but there is so much to suggest that high crimes and misdemeanors have been

committed here, and that it is our responsibility to act and act promptly

instead of continuing to delay and delay. That`s the Trump game, is to

delay and delay, and we need to not be aiding and abetting it.

 

O`DONNELL: Chuck Rosenberg, this is one of those examples of what could

have been in the Robert Mueller interview of Donald Trump that never

happened, because Donald Trump refused to submit to that interview, and

then eventually Robert Mueller decided not to try to go through the

subpoena process with the President, which could easily have taken a year

or so.

 

But imagine, if you will, the President is being interviewed by Robert

Mueller and it moves into a territory like this. We saw how easily with

George Stephanopoulos the President simply went ahead and said what he

would do in a future situation, even with the knowledge that he has today.

 

CHUCK ROSENBERG, FORMER SENIOR FBI OFFICIAL: Yes, this seems to be a good

illustration, Lawrence, of why the President`s personal lawyers probably

were very much opposed to having him talk to Mr. Mueller and to Mueller`s

team. The President is a free speaker, he just sort of wanders down paths,

he doesn`t give much thought to the truth, and he doesn`t give much thought

to what he said previously.

 

And so, from a criminal defense lawyer perspective, that`s perilous. Now I

understand that the Mueller team thought they had most of what they needed

and they were worried about the report taking too long, if they have to

litigate an issue over a subpoena to the President, but this does

illustrate as you note, why you want to sit down with the subject of the

investigation and talk to him. You want to hear in his own words what he

was thinking. Today, he told us.

 

O`DONNELL: I just want to read for the audience one more time what the law

actually says about this. It says it shall be unlawful for a foreign

national directly or indirectly to make a contribution or donation of money

or other thing of value, or to make an express or implied promise to make a

contribution or a donation in connection with a federal, state or local

election. The same law makes it against the law for a person to accept such

a thing.

 

And Sam Stein, President Trump said tonight he would accept that, he would

violate the accept portion of that law. There`s no other moment in our

historical record of a President saying that he was willing to commit a

crime, willing to violate a law. What law would the President have to

announce he`s willing to violate for the House to start to take action

against him?

 

STEIN: I think that`s a better question for your other panelists here, the

distinguished Congressmen. What I will say is–

 

O`DONNELL: Well, Congressman Doggett is all ready to go to impeachment. So,

he`s not one of the Democrats who`s waiting for more.

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

STEIN: No, no. I will say this and this was mentioned on your previous

panel. One of the things that the President and his team pointed to when

this was first being litigated after 2016 election was their lack of

familiarity with campaign finance laws and laws in general. And that served

them well in that capacity, I believe Mueller referenced that, in fact with

Don Jr. Now, they don`t have that excuse.

 

They know that the letter of law outlaws this type of behavior and beyond

that, they are living in the political outcome of having engaged in this

type of behavior. There has been a two-year long scandal and investigation

by several Congressional Committees and the Special Counsel`s Office into

this type of flirtation with assistance from a foreign power.

 

So, it`s mind boggling like I said that he would do it again. But, like I

said also, it`s almost expected at this juncture. This is who he is. Chuck

mentioned that maybe Trump is someone who - will be comfortable saying

mistress. In this case, I happen to think that he was being completely

honest. He doesn`t see anything ethically wrong with accepting the

assistance of a foreign power and he wonders why other people don`t see the

world as he does.

 

I will just note, there was one historical parallel. We`ve talked about

this before. Al Gore received the stolen George W. Bush campaign debate

prep book. They got it in the mail. The first thing they did, when they got

it in the mail, was alert the FBI. So there is a historical precedent for

doing something right in this situation. Trump clearly does not either know

the history or doesn`t care for it.

 

O`DONNELL: And in an interview, George Stephanopoulos made that point.

 

STEIN: Right.

 

O`DONNELL: The Al Gore example to President Trump; that didn`t slow him

down a bit. We have to squeeze in a break here. Congressmen Lloyd Doggett,

Sam Stein and Chuck Rosenberg, thank you all very much for helping us cover

this breaking news. Appreciate it.

 

STEIN: Thanks much.

 

ROSENBERG: Thank you.

 

O`DONNELL: Thank you. When we come back, two brothers own the largest meat

packing company in the world. And they are now the largest beneficiaries of

the Donald Trump tariffs because the American taxpayer is paying those two

Brazilian billionaires tens of millions of dollars to compensate them for

their losses in the Trump tariffs. The “New York Daily News” has new

reporting on that including what the Agriculture Secretary knows about

those two brothers. We`ll be right back.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: As promised, the control room has found that video from William

Barr`s confirmation hearing that Jennifer Rubin alerted us to, reminded us

about, earlier in this hour. When William Barr was asked if a campaign

should go to the FBI if they are offered information from a foreign

government, President of the United States tonight said, no problem if a

campaign is offered something from a foreign national or a foreign

government, the campaign and if it is the Trump campaign, they will

absolutely take it. Those are his words. I`ll take it. He would accept it,

which the law says as we`ve repeatedly shown you in this hour is against

the law.

 

Now to that moment, in William Barr`s confirmation hearing when he was

asked that question, let`s listen to this.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): Going forward, what if a foreign adversary, let`s

now say North Korea, offers a Presidential candidate dirt on a competitor

in 2020, do you agree with me that campaign should immediately contact the

FBI?

 

If a foreign intelligence service-

 

WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Foreign government? Foreign intelligence

service?

 

COONS: A representative of a foreign government.

 

BARR: Yes.

 

COONS: Says we have dirt on your opponent.

 

BARR: Yes.

 

COONS: Should they say, I love it, let`s meet, or should they contact the

FBI?

 

BARR: If a foreign intelligence service does, yes.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: He is very careful to say if a foreign intelligence service

does. What if a foreign national does as the law provides? What if

something other than a foreign intelligence service says it? We have reason

to expect William Barr will probably try to fashion some kind of new answer

that protects what Donald Trump said today.

 

Sure we`ll hear more about that tomorrow possibly from William Barr. That

was not in his confirmation hearing, by the way. That was at a hearing

about the Justice Department Budget shortly after the Mueller report came

up. We`ll be right back.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: Tonight, the New York Daily News is adding to its earlier

reporting that the biggest winners in the Trump tariff war are a couple of

Brazilian billionaires who are brothers, who have now received $64 million

in American taxpayer money to compensate them for their losses in their

agriculture businesses in the United States because of the Trump tariffs.

 

The Trump Administration has promised to simply hand money to American

farmers who are getting crushed by the Trump tariffs. And while they`re at

it, they have handed $64 million to two Brazilian billionaires who have

served time in prison. Tonight, the Daily News is reporting that

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue had a meeting with the brothers before

he became Secretary of Agriculture, a meeting that Sonny Perdue at first

denied, but now might be changing his story because of the Daily News

reporting.

 

Joining us now his Chris Sommerfeldt. He is a Politics reporter for the New

York Daily News. Chris, Sonny Perdue now seems to be admitting, if I`m

reading the latest updates, that okay, I guess there was a meeting at some

point.

 

CHRIS SOMMERFELDT, REPORTER, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: After we reached out, he

changed the story. Initially, the Agriculture Department provided me with a

brief comment saying, “No, Agriculture Secretary Perdue has never met with

either Joesley or Wesley Batista,” the billionaire brothers that you just

referred to. Some time passes, I find records in the Governor`s, in

Perdue`s old Georgia Governor records showing that he did in fact meet with

Wesley Batista in 2010.

 

We published a story on it and then the Agriculture Department reaches out

and says, I`m paraphrasing - but, “Oh, yes, we forgot about that meeting.”

 

O`DONNELL: When we are at the paraphrasing, they issued a statement tonight

saying that he met - attending that meeting were Wesley Batista and his

brother Joesley Batista Junior. And so, and the big scandal in all of this

is, they are receiving massive amount of money from the Trump Government

because of the Trump tariffs.

 

SOMMERFELDT: Correct. Essentially, you have this part of money, right, that

is supposed to alleviate the burden of the trade war on the farmers who are

struggling to sell their products. Instead of giving the money directly to

the farmers, you have this giant meat packing corporation owned by these

corrupt brothers, JBS, taking that money and then being given the benefit

of the doubt to redistribute it to farmers. We haven`t seen if that has

actually happened.

 

O`DONNELL:  Chris Sommerfeldt, great reporting.  Thank you very much for

joining us.  Really appreciate it.

 

That is tonight`s LAST WORD.  “THE 11TH HOUR” with Brian Williams starts

now.

 

 

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY

BE UPDATED.

END   

 

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