Orlando Sentinel makes 2020 endorsement. TRANSCRIPT: 6/18/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.

Guests:
Kamala Harris, Katie Porter, Wendy Sherman, Dahlia Lithwick, David Jolly, Jonathan Capehart
Transcript:

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

 

And it seems like there`s a lot of wide open territory that lives far

beyond executive privilege that they can talk to Hope Hicks about.

 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Well, yes.  I mean, they`re asserting overtly

she can`t talk about anything in the White House.  Nadler`s contesting

that. 

 

They`re trying to assert she can`t talk about the transition when the

president wasn`t president yet, so he can`t have any sort of presidential

executive privilege.  And if they`re going to try to keep her from talking

about things during the campaign, that`s absurd you would try to assert

some kind of presidential privilege over that. 

 

So, I mean, we know that the White House is going to try to clamor up as

much as they can, but this is going to be hard-fought.  Nadler is signaling

tonight he`s going to fight this hard. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Thanks, Rachel. 

 

MADDOW:  Thanks, Lawrence. 

 

O`DONNELL:  The California delegation is a force to reckon with in Congress

because California has more people than any other state, it has more

members of Congress than any other state, and one of them is the most

powerful member of Congress, the speaker of the House, but two of the newer

members of the delegation have each become a force to be reckoned with in

their first terms in office. 

 

The junior senator from California just in her third year in the Senate is

now one of the leading Democratic presidential candidates.  Senator Kamala

Harris is now polling well ahead of President Trump in a Quinnipiac

national poll, beating Donald Trump by eight points. 

 

Senator Harris will be our first guest tonight responding to some of what

the president had to say in President Trump`s official campaign

announcement tonight in Florida. 

 

Also with us tonight later in the hour is California`s newest congressional

star, Democratic Congresswoman Katie Porter, who is now in her first year

in the House of Representatives, serving in a congressional district that

has voted Republican for 50 years until Katie Porter came along and changed

their mind and convinced them to vote for a Democrat. 

 

Congresswoman Katie Porter has just announced that she is now in favor of

beginning the impeachment process of President Trump.  Congresswoman Porter

will join us to explain her decision tonight. 

 

Tonight, President Trump officially announced that he is running for re-

election.  No surprise there.  To make that announcement, the president

flew to Orlando, Florida, where he was greeted by an extraordinary

editorial in “The Orlando Sentinel” today. 

 

A year and a half before the election, “The Orlando Sentinel” delivered an

endorsement for president in 2020, and that endorsement is not Donald

Trump.  The editorial said: Donald Trump is in Orlando to announce the

kickoff of his re-election campaign.  We`re here to announce our

endorsement for president in 2020, or at least we`re not endorsing Donald

Trump.

 

“The Orlando Sentinel” historically is a Republican newspaper.  It has

occasionally endorsed Democrats for president, including Barack Obama in

2008, but then the “Orlando Sentinel” endorsed President Obama`s Republican

opponent, Mitt Romney, in the next election.

 

“The Orlando Sentinel`s” editorial about Donald Trump says: Trump`s

successful assault on truth is the great casualty of this presidency

followed closely by his war on decency. 

 

President Trump is campaigning in a state tonight in Florida where the

latest poll shows him losing to our first guest and five other Democratic

presidential candidates.  Donald Trump won Florida`s 29 electoral votes by

1.3 percent of the vote.  He cannot afford to lose any support in Florida,

and national polls also show President Trump losing to our first guest

tonight as well as five other Democratic candidates for president. 

 

President Trump is beginning his re-election campaign with threats.  One

threat seems to be to Iran.  The president has ordered 1,000 troops to the

Middle East in response to what the Trump administration calls, quote,

“Iranian attacks”. 

 

Congressman Seth Moulton, the Democratic presidential candidate with the

most military experience, including four tours of duty in combat in Iraq,

said this in response to the president sending 1,000 troops to the Middle

East: We can`t afford to send troops to the Middle East without a strategy. 

We`ve already learned that the hard way.

 

President Trump`s other big threat at the official launch of his re-

election campaign is a return to his first presidential campaign`s first

principle, attacking people who try to cross our southern border.  Last

night, Donald Trump tweeted: Next week, ICE will begin the process of

removing millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into

the United States.

 

Joining us now to respond to the president`s first day, first night on the

re-election campaign trail is Democratic presidential candidate who is

leading President Trump in the latest Florida poll and in a national

Quinnipiac poll, leading President Trump by eight points, 49 percent to 41

percent.  She is the Democratic presidential candidate who represents more

people than any other Democratic candidate currently represents, the 40

million people of California. 

 

Senator Kamala Harris, thank you very much for joining us. 

 

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Thank you, Lawrence. 

 

O`DONNELL:  I really appreciate it. 

 

HARRIS:  Great to be with you. 

 

O`DONNELL:  I want to start with your reaction to the president saying he

wants to round up millions of people in this country and deport them. 

 

HARRIS:  It`s outrageous.  You know, the way that I come at this issue,

Lawrence, is, you know, I was a career prosecutor, and I will tell you that

when you have the president of the United States saying things like this,

it is just pushing people into the shadows.  And the real result of these

words will be that there will be some woman who is afraid to hail down a

patrol car after she`s been raped for fear that she`ll be deported. 

 

The real effect of the words of the president of the United States, whether

it`s follow-through or not, will be that there will be children who are

going to refuse to go to school tomorrow because they`re going to be afraid

that if they come home their parent won`t be there.  Children who will not

go to the doctor`s office because they do not want to be separated or

concerned that they can`t trust somebody in a position of authority because

their parent may be deported. 

 

It`s outrageous and it is just yet another example of this president`s

incompetence, when it comes to understanding we are a nation of immigrants,

understanding that we need to pass comprehensive immigration reform with a

pathway towards citizenship, understanding that the values and the morals

of who we are as a country are not that we separate children from their

parents at the border and put children in cages, but that we act with a

sense of practicality. 

 

This president doesn`t understand I don`t think the importance and the

significance of his job, which is the job of president should be to lift

people up, not to keep beating people down.  But that`s the only thing he

knows how to do, is beat people down.  And it is not the sign of a strong

person to do that.  I believe that`s a sign of weakness. 

 

O`DONNELL:  You represent the biggest state on our southern border,

California.  You are the daughter of two immigrants. 

 

HARRIS:  Mmm-hmm. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Which of those things informs your position on this the most,

your family history or your geographic location representing California? 

 

HARRIS:  What informs my position on this subject the most is that I am an

American.  And I believe in the values of who we say we are.  And I`m also

a student of history.  And I know that we are a nation of immigrants. 

 

Unless you`re a Native American or your ancestors were kidnapped and

brought over on a slave ship, your people are immigrants, and it is

immigrants that helped build the country into what it is today, and the

idea that we would have a president of the United States that vilifies

immigrants, that wants to build what I call his vanity project, a

multibillion dollar wall which, by the way, will never get built, is un-

American.

 

Deal with the problem.  We have 11 million people here who need a pathway

to citizenship.  Be a leader on that. 

 

But we`re not going to get that out of this president.  What we`re not

going to get out of this president is someone who approaches people who are

fleeing the murder capitals of the world and does what is reflective of

American values, which is to understand the strength of our arms, to

embrace people who are fleeing harm. 

 

No, that`s not what this president does.  They arrive at our border and he

says go back to where you came from.  That is not reflective of the values

of who we are as Americans, and that`s what informs my perspective on what

he is doing on this issue and so many others. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Did you get to see the president`s speech tonight? 

 

HARRIS:  No. 

 

O`DONNELL:  OK.  You`ve seen something like it because the person who he

mentioned the most – he didn`t mention you at all.  He mentioned Joe Biden

once.  He mentioned Hillary Clinton more than any other person that he

mentioned in that campaign – in that campaign speech tonight as an

opponent as if it were four years ago, and I just wanted to give you – let

you hear one moment of the crowd reacting to him talking about Hillary

Clinton. 

 

Let`s listen to that. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Remember, the insurance

policy just in case Hillary Clinton lost.  Remember the insurance policy. 

 

AUDIENCE:  Lock her up!  Lock her up!  Lock her up!  Lock her up!  Lock her

up!  Lock her up!

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  So it`s still a “lock her up” rally. 

 

HARRIS:  Yes, but that`s further – further – another example of the fact

that this president wants us to keep looking in the rearview mirror instead

of looking out of the front windshield.  This is a president who wants to

make America great again instead of making America great today.  He does

not understand that we need a leader of our United States who is focused on

the challenges of the 21st century.  And he keeps looking backward, looking

backward and trying to take people backward. 

 

What we need is a president who takes us forward, who has a vision for the

future that includes everyone, and we`re not going to get that in this guy. 

And so, you know, great, he started his election.  Some of us have been in

the campaign for awhile now and look forward to meeting him on the debate

stage. 

 

O`DONNELL:  The crisis of the week, which has been building and building

and building during the Trump administration, especially during the time of

John Bolton, is now the crisis with Iran, with the president –  

 

HARRIS:  Yes.

 

O`DONNELL:  – the White House saying there is absolutely no question that

Iran is guilty of the attacks on those tankers that we saw in the – in the

Straits of Hormuz.  What would you be saying to Iran today if you were

president of the United States? 

 

HARRIS:  Well, first, I would not have pulled us out of the Iran nuclear

deal.  They were complying with the requirements.  If there`s no oversight

we can`t guarantee that they won`t build a nuclear weapon.  And we have the

power and the ability to have oversight and to – and to make sure that

they were complying by the rules, which they were. 

 

And he in a unilateral action pulled out, which was not only not smart

because so far it was working, but it was also unilateral action, not

bringing along and apparently not consulting our allies around the globe

who are also invested in the right outcome.  So, let`s start with that. 

Wouldn`t have done that. 

 

And now, we can look at a situation where we are potentially being exposed

to, you know, some would say war.  And, again, another example of the

irresponsibility of this president who does not appreciate his power.  He

does not respect it.  It is about his ego.  And it is not about what is in

the best interest of our nation, and, frankly, our national security. 

 

O`DONNELL:  You serve on the Intelligence Committee.  Have you been briefed

on the attacks on these tankers? 

 

HARRIS:  I have. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Are you convinced that Iran is guilty of these attacks? 

 

HARRIS:  I can`t talk about that. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Do you believe that the public is now in a position where we

can trust what the administration says about this? 

 

HARRIS:  I am of the opinion and belief that there is a lot of what this

administration says about policy, domestic and foreign, that is misleading

the public. 

 

O`DONNELL:  What about Iran?  What about right now in the middle of this

story? 

 

HARRIS:  Listen, Lawrence, let`s be clear, Iran presents a threat to the

United States, which is why we engaged and entered into the nuclear

agreement in the first place.  So – so let`s be clear about that. 

 

And so the question then becomes, knowing the danger and the potential

threat presented, what do we do to keep our nation safe?  And a lot of

thought and negotiations went in to what seemed to be a feasible solution,

which was the deal, where we would have the ability to track and to have

accountability, and now he`s pulled us out of that. 

 

O`DONNELL:  If you were president, would you have the United States rejoin

that deal? 

 

HARRIS:  I would certainly have us rejoin it.  You know, I would also look

toward expanding it.  To be honest with you, I would like to see it also

cover ballistic missile testing.  I`d like to, you know, see that we would

have certainly accountability but probably increased oversight.  But, sure,

yes. 

 

O`DONNELL:  If you`re in a negotiation like that as president with Iran or

another country, but particularly with Iran in a situation like that where

you`re saying we want to reinstate the deal that we had before, and Iran

says to you, why should we do that?  How can we trust you?  That it will

only last for the length of your presidency.  That`s what we`ve learned

about the United States. 

 

HARRIS:  I mean, look, at some point they`re going to have to join in an

understanding that this is about the United States, it`s about our allies

around the world, including the E.U. and, you know, there is going to have

to be a moment in time when we have a new president, and I intend that to

be myself, when – when we`re going to have to reestablish relationships

with probably everyone around the globe.  Because to your point, this

president has put us in a position where our neighbors around the world, be

they friend or foe, are believing they cannot trust the word of the

American president.  And that`s a dangerous place to be in. 

 

O`DONNELL:  The president tonight talked about factories being re-opened

now and that no factories had opened for decades, and he rattled off a list

of states that include, for example, the largest BMW plant in the world in

South Carolina that apparently he thinks is something that just occurred

somewhere during his presidency. 

 

What would you say to voters, particularly in a debate with Donald Trump,

about this industrial policy of his, about his attempts to create what

economists call an industrial policy to favor certain industries? 

 

HARRIS:  Well, ask the workers in Lordstown, Ohio. 

 

Ask the almost 700,000 auto workers in our country who are probably going

to lose their jobs by Christmas because of this president`s supposed trade

policy, which I call the Trump trade tax, which, again, was about his

unilateral action that has resulted in farmers in Iowa having soybeans that

are rotting in bins.  These farmers who over the last decade at least

cultivated a relationship in a market in China to sell it to, and now

that`s been cut off for them as a market. 

 

Talk to the millions of American families that are now paying $1.4 billion

a month more for everything from a washing machine to shampoo.  And look at

the fact that these policies have not been smart and they have not been in

the best interests of American workers and the American economy and

American families. 

 

O`DONNELL:  The – there`s a recent analysis of the new manufacturing jobs

that have been created during the Trump presidency.  More of them have been

created in the state of California than any other state.  Most of these

jobs have been created in places other than the places where President

Trump promised them in the former heavy manufacturing states, Michigan,

that`s not where they`re happening.  They`re happening in other more

prosperous states. 

 

What`s the lesson in that? 

 

HARRIS:  That the president of the United States misled a lot of people and

failed them, because he said he was going to create jobs in those places. 

He said he was going to protect the workers in those places.  He said he

was going to support them.  He said he was going to lift them up. 

 

Instead, he passed a tax bill that benefitted the top 1 percent and the

biggest corporations in this country.  Instead he has deregulated entire

industries.  Instead he has created a distraction about, you know, a wall

instead of lifting American workers up and preparing us for the jobs of the

21st century. 

 

Instead of focusing on infrastructure, which is decaying in our country,

which is 125 to 150 years old, and when we work on it, it will not only be

about saving the American families the cost of buying new tires because

they`re driving ore potholes, it will be about creating jobs because the

people who are going to work up and build back up our infrastructure are

hardworking people with great skills and can fill those jobs for

generations. 

 

O`DONNELL:  There is another aspect of this that most politicians never

talk about, and certainly this president never talks about.  They talk

about international competition on jobs and on manufacturing locations. 

But there has always been a 50-state competition, states competing against

other states, and California, your state, as always been a winner in that

competition – usually the biggest winner. 

 

What is it that the California economy knows that some of the other states

apparently don`t know? 

 

HARRIS:  I think each state has its strengths, but I`ll speak to

California`s strengths, which would be a priority for me for our nation. 

 

Part of California`s strength is that we have invested in our educational

systems.  You know, over the years, we`ve done a great job and then not

such a great job.  But if you look at the impact of at least early

investments in education, it`s paid huge dividends.  I believe we need to

have national policy that`s about investing in education. 

 

By the way, I mean, education after high school, and by that, I don`t mean

only college.  I mean education for people after high school, and that

could be a college track, that could be a track that is about skills

development to get their certificate for the job that needs to be filled,

but that`s what has been done in the past which has shown great prosperity

for American workers in California, and that`s what we need to do

nationally. 

 

And that`s what I`m committed to doing.  And, again, that`s about look

forward instead of looking backward. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Senator Kamala Harris, thank you very much for joining us

tonight. 

 

HARRIS:  Thank you, Lawrence. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Leading president Trump in national polls.  How does that feel? 

 

HARRIS:  Listen, the only poll that matters to me is on Election Day. 

Period. 

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

O`DONNELL:  That is true.  Senator, thank you very much for joining us

tonight.  Really appreciate it. 

 

HARRIS:  Thank you.  Thanks, Lawrence. 

 

O`DONNELL:  When we come back, freshman Congresswoman Katie Porter has made

a decision about impeachment.  She will join us next to explain why she is

now in favor of starting the impeachment process. 

 

And later, former undersecretary of state, Wendy Sherman, will join us on

the Trump administration`s escalating tensions with Iran. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL:  Last night, freshman California Congresswoman Katie Porter came

out in favor of beginning the impeachment process against President Trump. 

Here`s what Congresswoman Porter said here about impeachment three weeks

ago. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

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

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

district. 

 

Does that inhibit your thinking in your public statements about

impeachment? 

 

REP. KATIE PORTER (D-CA):  It does not.  This is an issue about what we owe

the American people.  And I don`t care who you vote for or what party

you`re registered in, you`re owed a government that follows the law, you`re

owed a president who respects our Constitution, who respects the checks and

balances in our democracy. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  And last night in a video announcement of her – to her

constituents released on Twitter, Congresswoman Porter said this –

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

PORTER:  I`ve spent hours reading and analyzing the constitution, articles

written by leading scholars and the 200-year history of our democracy and

its system of checks and balances.  After weeks of study, deliberation and

conversations with Orange County families, I have decided to support an

impeachment investigation of the president. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

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

Democrat from California. 

 

Congresswoman, thank you very much for joining us tonight. 

 

What brought you to this decision?  I know you said in your video that you

approached this decision reluctantly. 

 

PORTER:  I really took my time to study the report.  I`ve tried to do that

with every issue, whether it`s been thinking about how to approach a

financial services issue, a consumer protection issue, a health care issue,

I`ve tried to take the time to learn the facts, and that`s really what I

did in this case, is understand that the facts as set forth in Mueller`s

report are – show that there is substantial evidence that the president

engaged in at least four acts of obstruction of justice, each one of which

is a potential crime. 

 

O`DONNELL:  You are one of the new members who in most of the political

readings of the current situation, you`re one of the people who speaker

Pelosi has been trying to protect from the impeachment decision because

there is this political calculus that in swing districts like yours, this

will be a very unpopular voice, this will make your own re-election more

difficult. 

 

PORTER:  I didn`t run for Congress and I don`t come every week to

Washington, D.C. to do what`s easy, I come to do what`s right.  And so,

politics has no part in this kind of a decision.  This is really about

analyzing the law and the facts as they were gathered by the special

counsel and then doing what I think is right. 

 

So there may or may not be political consequences to this, but that can`t

guide my decision.  That wouldn`t be doing my duty to my constituents if I

allowed politics to trump what I believe is right. 

 

O`DONNELL:  How much did you talk about impeachment during your campaign? 

 

PORTER:  During my campaign I almost never spoke about it, unless directly

asked, and at all times I said the same thing, which is we have to allow

Mr. Mueller to do his investigation. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And what about voters in your district who might think, oh, you

know, she didn`t say anything about it during the campaign, and now, here

she is doing something, making a big decision that she could have told us

about during the campaign?

 

PORTER:  I really couldn`t have shared this information until now because

what I`m doing is using the facts and the evidence that Mr. Mueller found

in order to make my conclusion that we need to begin an impeachment

inquiry.  So, I was not in Mr. Mueller`s shoes.  I didn`t know what he was

finding.  And like the rest of the American public, I had to allow him to

do his job. 

 

But when he comes forward and says that there are four – at least four

counts of obstruction of justice and there is substantial evidence

supporting all four of those counts, then it`s my job to pick up that

evidence and make a decision, and that`s what I`ve done here. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Let`s listen to what another California member of Congress,

Chairman Adam Schiff of the House Intelligence Committee, said about

impeachment. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA):  Regardless of how people come out in terms of

whether this is the right thing at the right time, people do need to be

aware that there`s a perception that if we announce an impeachment inquiry

tomorrow things change dramatically, that suddenly witnesses like Don

McGahn, who have been resisting coming in are going to show up and say, OK,

where do I testify.  The Justice Department is going to open its files. 

 

None of that is going to happen.  We`re still going to have to go to court. 

If anything, the administration will dig in deeper because we`ve got to

sort of DEFCON five. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Your reaction to that? 

 

PORTER:  I don`t know what the president`s reaction is going to be if we

begin an impeachment inquiry.  We`ve seen a really strong pattern of

continuing to, in fact, obstruct justice and defy the rule of law, but my

job is to do what is required and to move forward.

 

I think it would be very unfortunate if the president continues down this

pattern.  I very much hope that people will come in, they will testify,

they`ll provide the information that the House needs to make a decision. 

And in the meantime, I have lots of other things that I`m working on,

including some things I hope to work with this president on, such as

prescription drug pricing and transportation and infrastructure. 

 

I was really discouraged that the president said, so long as we are reading

the Mueller report and making – doing our job of oversight, he`s not

willing to work with us on the substantive priorities and the problems

facing the people of this country.  I think that`s really wrong. 

 

O`DONNELL: Were you under pressure on this decision from one side or the

other?

 

PORTER: I think there`s been a lot of conversations going on amongst my

colleagues, and I`ve certainly been part of those conversations. But I

think anybody who`s seen me testify - or excuse me - anyone who`s seen me

with witnesses who are testifying before the House Financial Services

Committee probably knows that I`m not very easy to push around. I like to

listen. I like to learn. I like to research. I like to think. I like to

deliberate. But ultimately, this is my job to represent the constituents of

the 45th district, and I had to make up my own mind and that`s what I did

here.

 

O`DONNELL: You are in the biggest congressional district in the Congress,

of course, the California Congressional District. It has the most powerful

leader of a Congressional delegation who happens to be Speaker of the

House, Nancy Pelosi. Has this made her situation more difficult? Did you

speak to the Speaker before making your announcement?

 

PORTER: Of course, I went and told the Speaker what I was going to do.

That`s very common. We do this with all kinds of issues, whether they`re

small or large. We always try to keep the Speaker informed.

 

And I think - look, the Speaker here is making room for each member to do

their duty to their constituents and to this country. She`s making space

for each person to read the Mueller report, to ask questions, to talk with

chairmen, to hear about the investigations, to see what the courts are

deciding. So I view this as a form of leadership in the sense that she`s

giving us each the opportunity to reach our conclusion. But when I made up

my mind, I felt I had a duty to be honest with my constituents about where

I was.

 

O`DONNELL: And when you told the Speaker this was your position, what did

she tell you?

 

PORTER: She said that she respected that every person needed to do what

they think is right. And I think that she`s been very consistent in that

response across different people who`ve had different responses and

different approaches to impeachment. She`s a very strong, confident leader,

and she knows that people are sometimes going to disagree with her. They`re

sometimes going to get to certain places before she does. But she makes

space for that. And that`s her job. That`s what makes her a terrific leader

is that she allows each of us to do our own jobs with our own constituents.

 

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

tonight and explaining this important decision that you`ve made. We really

appreciate it.

 

PORTER: Thank you.

 

O`DONNELL: Coming up, people inside and outside the Trump administration

believe Donald Trump is now a risk to national security. Former Under

Secretary of State Wendy Sherman will join our discussion.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: What did the President know and when did he know it? That was

the all-important question in the investigation of President Richard Nixon

that led to his resignation after the House Judiciary Committee voted in

favor of articles of impeachment.

 

The question, what did the President know and when did he know it, has

taken on new meaning in the Trump administration where, according to some

reports, people inside and outside of the Trump administration are trying

to hide information from the President because he is, in their view, a

national security risk.

 

A “New York Times” exclusive report about the Pentagon increasing cyber

attacks on the Russian power grid says that no one told the President about

the cyber intrusion deep into the Russian power grid. “Pentagon and

intelligence officials described broad hesitation to go into detail with

Mr. Trump about operations against Russia for concern over his reaction and

the possibility that he might countermand it or discuss it with foreign

officials as he did in 2017 when he mentioned a sensitive operation in

Syria to the Russian foreign minister.”

 

 ”The Washington Post`s” David Ignatius has reported, “Former British

officials believe that MI6 has begun to worry about sharing its most

sensitive secrets with the United States for fear that there may - they may

be disclosed by the Trump White House for political reasons or through

simple carelessness.” A former British official told David Ignatius, “You

never know what Trump will say or do or tell in a rage, and that`s

something to worry about. The U.S. has become a less reliable ally.”

 

After this commercial break, we will consider the risks of a President who

cannot keep a secret. We`ll discuss that with former Under Secretary of

State Wendy Sherman and Slate`s Dahlia Lithwick.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: The first major editorial endorsement of the Presidential

campaign is in and it is not Donald Trump. The newspaper in the city where

Donald Trump gave the first speech of his re-election campaign tonight, the

“Orlando Sentinel,” ran an editorial today entitled “Our Orlando Sentinel

endorsement for president in 2020: Not Donald Trump.”

 

The editorial says, “Trump has diminished our standing in the world. He

reneges on deals, attacks allies, and embraces enemies. This nation must

never forget that humiliating public moment in Helsinki in 2018 when the

President of the United States chose to accept Vladimir Putin`s denials of

Russian interference in the 2016 election over the unanimous assessment of

the American intelligence community. Such a betrayal by a U.S. president

would have been the unforgiveable political sin in normal times. As if

that`s not enough, Trump declares his love for North Korea`s Kim Jong-un, a

genuine villain who starves and enslaves his people and executes his

enemies with anti-aircraft guns and flame throwers. But he wrote the

President a beautiful letter. Flattery will get you everywhere with this

President, and that`s dangerous.”

 

Joining our discussion now is Ambassador Wendy Sherman, former Under

Secretary of State for Political Affairs and an MSNBC Global Affairs

Contributor. Also joining us, Dahlia Lithwick, Senior Editor and Legal

Correspondent for Slate.com and the host of the podcast, “Amicus.”

 

Wendy Sherman, I want to start with what the “Orlando Sentinel” said about

the President and the danger he now represents to the world.

 

AMB. WENDY SHERMAN, FORMER UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS &

MSNBC GLOBAL AFFAIRS CONTRIBUTOR: It was an extraordinary editorial, and it

went on to talk about what it`s doing to our country and what it`s saying

about who we are as the American people. And the examples you gave are

tremendous. And we`ve just seen this happen in the case of the intelligence

around who attacked the tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

 

Our allies and partners question our credibility because they basically

question everything that comes out of the President`s mouth. That makes him

dangerous for us because we need our allies and partners to solve very,

very difficult problems. You don`t do these things alone. You do them best

with others. And you do it on the basis of mutual respect and

understanding, And unfortunately, a lot of that is fading away.

 

O`DONNELL: Having worked so hard on the Iran deal as you did, you have so

much experience in that region. I just want to ask you, what guidance would

you give citizens who are trying to follow this story now who do not trust

anything said by the Trump Justice Department or the Trump administration

or the President himself about this situation with Iran?

 

SHERMAN: I would say, listen to the people that you do trust. And most of

all, tell the President to de-escalate. The President has said that he

doesn`t want to go to war. The American people certainly don`t want to go

to war in the Middle East. The last time we did that didn`t end up so well.

It`s still going on in many ways. And so I would say, tell the President,

de-escalate, put something on the table, get discussions started. This

President believes in what`s called coercive diplomacy, except it`s all

coercion and no diplomacy.

 

O`DONNELL: Dahlia, the President flies down to Orlando, he`s greeted by an

editorial in the “Orlando Sentinel” saying, “Not Donald Trump.” This is a

newspaper that normally endorses Republicans for President. And he gets up

there on a stage and his crowd starts the “lock her up” chant about Hillary

Clinton. He talks about Hillary Clinton more than any other possible

opponent of his. He mentions Joe Biden once.

 

DAHLIA LITHWICK, SLATE.COM SENIOR EDITOR AND LEGAL CORRESPONDENT AND HOST

OF PODCAST AMICUS: He`s always fighting the last war. I think he - I mean,

this is - if you look at - this is re-litigating the 2016 comments he made

about immigrants. This is re-litigating Hillary Clinton. He was re-

litigating crowd size at this event in Orlando. So he`s got his script,

he`s got his seven or eight bugaboos that matter more than anything, and

for whatever reason, Hillary matters more to him than almost anything else.

 

And because the crowds embrace it and cherish it and relish it, it`s a

little bit of a self-fulfilling circle. He says it, they love it. He says

it more. It`s not discourse or political dialogue the way you and I think

of it, but it`s some kind of weird call and response that is sort of

dissociated from the pressing urgent problems that we could talk about.

 

O`DONNELL: Is there something sexist in this that he has this woman

opponent that he has turned into some kind of demon for his audience and he

- and he`s working that and he doesn`t know how to stop working it or won`t

stop working it?

 

LITHWICK: I mean, I think that there is no disputing the fact that so many

of his attacks on Hillary Clinton throughout the campaign were just

transparently sexist. Whether it`s sexist for him to perseverate, the way

he does about locking her up or it`s just something that`s caught his fancy

that he cannot let go of, I don`t know. I think that there are so many

examples just every day, week, year of sexism that is overt sexism, that

looking for sort of coded sexism here. It`s not the most sexist thing he`s

ever done.

 

(LAUGHTER)

 

O`DONNELL: No. And Wendy, in a world where the world normally hangs on

every word of the President of the United States, including during re-

election campaigns, sometimes especially during re-election campaigns, what

does the world see in what they saw in Florida tonight, just basically a

four-year-old performance of Donald Trump? No evidence whatsoever that he`s

actually served as President of the United States.

 

SHERMAN: Indeed. I think they see an incredibly insecure leader who goes

around trying to bully people, who is sexist and racist and sometimes even

disparaging of all kinds of people whoever they are. We`ve heard him

disparage almost everybody in one way or another. He gets a name for

someone.

 

The saddest part of all of this, and there are so many sad parts and very

disturbing parts of this, is the world is moving on without us. The

President has isolated us from the rest of the world. And the only way he

gets their attention is like the two-year-old having a tantrum. It`s

probably why he and Kim Jong-un get along so well.

 

O`DONNELL: And Dahlia, this attempt within the administration to make sure

the President doesn`t know - that old Nixon question of what did the

President know and when did he know it. What they seem to be hoping for is

the President knows nothing and we`re trying to keep it this way.

 

LITHWICK: Yes. It`s - that was the most interesting part of that for me,

was that don`t brief the President because he`s going to blurt something

out.

 

O`DONNELL: Makes perfect sense.

 

LITHWICK: At one level, it makes perfect sense. I think it`s of a piece,

Lawrence, with so much of the messaging around the President, which is he

doesn`t mean things, he says things that are not true. There`s just a way

of sort of saying, you know, he is the sort of circus performance that`s

happening here, but the sober, serious people are managing everything, but

at the same time he`s the President and we can`t question that. It`s a very

hard thing to hold those two things. This is the Commander-in-Chief and

also we didn`t bother to brief him.

 

O`DONNELL: Yes. Ambassador Wendy Sherman, Dahlia Lithwick, thank you both

very much for joining us tonight.

 

When we come back, Donald Trump is in big trouble in the polls, including

in the State of Florida where he officially started his re-election

campaign tonight. David Jolly will be joining us next from Florida along

with Jonathan Capehart.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: As we`ve been reporting, the President officially kicked off his

re-election campaign tonight in Florida where he was greeted by a

Quinnipiac poll released today, showing he is losing the State of Florida

to six Democratic Presidential candidates in one-on-one match-ups. Joe

Biden has the biggest lead over Donald Trump in that Florida poll at 50% to

41%. President Trump won the State of Florida by 1.3% of the vote. So he

cannot afford to lose any support in Florida.

 

In a Quinnipiac national poll, President Trump is losing to six Democratic

candidates. Again Joe Biden has the biggest lead, 53% to 40%. Bernie

Sanders is at 51% to President Trump`s 42%. Kamala Harris is at 49% to the

President`s 41%. Elizabeth Warren is at 49% to President Trump`s 42%. And

Pete Buttigieg is at 47% to Donald Trump`s 42%. Cory Booker is at 47% to

Trump 42%.

 

Joining us now, former Republican Congressman David Jolly of Florida, he`s

an MSNBC Political Analyst, and Jonathan Capehart, Opinion Writer for The

Washington Post and an MSNBC contributor.

 

And David Jolly, he came to your state to kick it off to announce the re-

election campaign, which came as no surprise, but he is greeted by a poll

where he is really in big, big trouble in the State of Florida.

 

DAVID JOLLY, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: That`s right, Lawrence. And this

is a President who is in trouble tonight politically in terms of his own

re-election. And for the nation, it`s been 25 years since we have seen an

incumbent President needing a breakout moment.

 

It is still early, but this is a President who needs to move in the polls

and he didn`t get it done tonight. And it`s going to take moments like

tonight, rallies like tonight. Tonight was supposed to be a launch of his

re-election campaign. These will be the only moments Donald Trump has

really afforded politically in the next year because, understand, he won`t

have the benefit of a regular debate stage like the Democratic candidates

will.

 

If we see Bill Weld qualify, perhaps there may be a token debate here or

there, but this is a President now, candidate Trump running for re-

election, who will have to manufacture breakout moments. And what we saw

tonight was a tired, lazy, undisciplined political message focused on the

grievance politics that elected him in the first place. And as the polls

show, the American people are kind of tired of that narrative. It didn`t

work in November of 2018. It`s not working tonight in Florida and across

the nation as well.

 

O`DONNELL: And the President`s approval numbers in Florida are similar to

the national numbers. Quinnipiac shows him with a 44% approve in Florida,

51% disapprove. Nationally Quinnipiac shows 42% approve, 53% disapprove.

 

And Jonathan Capehart, with numbers like that that the President has had

throughout his Presidency, what I watch for in Trump speeches is, what did

he say tonight to change the mind of a voter who currently disapproves of

him, because if he doesn`t do that, he cannot possibly win.

 

JONATHAN CAPEHART, OPINION WRITER, THE WASHINGTON POST & MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:

Right. But, Lawrence, that would require the President to do something that

he`s never done since inauguration, and that is to broaden his support

beyond his very narrow base. Instead, the President has done the exact

opposite. He is talking to the people who brought him to the dance. That`s

what he did on June 16, 2015 when he first heard the applause over

Mexicans-are-rapists. And that`s what he`s been doing - that`s what he did

in Florida today.

 

But here is my one caution to what David just said, and that is, yes, the

President is going to have to manufacture breakout moments for himself. And

we saw him do that in the last two weeks every day, sometimes a couple of

times a day in the last two weeks of the 2018 mid-term elections when he

ran a closing argument campaign of racism and hatred.

 

And now we have a president who has started his re-election campaign and

now he`s got more than a year, year-and-a-half to manufacture moments to

try to steal the spotlight from Democrats by doing rallies as he did in

Florida. And he`s going to get the applause that he wants. He`s going to

get the lock-her-up chants and all the things that horrify us. But if it`s

enough to not persuade someone who didn`t like him before but to vote for

him the next time around, but if he can do that and eek out victories in

the way that his two-week closing argument did in the 2018 midterm

elections, he could win again.

 

Remember, the Senate - they held on to the Senate, the Republicans did, and

gained two seats. That`s the danger here.

 

O`DONNELL: I just want to show 13 seconds of Trump video tonight and you`ll

hear the person he talked about the most tonight.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hillary Clinton - (bleep) -

Hillary - (bleep) - Hillary - Hillary - Hillary Clinton - 33,000 e-mails

deleted. Think of it.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: The bleeps you heard there were the insult name that the

President uses for Hillary Clinton. We won`t be broadcasting those insult

names on this program. But David Jolly, it turned into a lock her up chant

tonight.

 

JOLLY:  Sure.  And that is a reflection of Donald Trump`s followers.  Just

as we hold the President accountable we should hold his followers who make

those chants accountable as well.

 

The irony here, Lawrence, is that Donald Trump should be seeking the

counsel not of Hillary Clinton necessarily but Bill Clinton.  It`s the

economy, stupid.  It`s the one thing that Donald Trump could make his case

on but he is too undisciplined to do that.

 

O`DONNELL:  David Jolly gets the LAST WORD from Florida tonight.  David

Jolly, Jonathan Capehart, thank you both 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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