Orlando Sentinel makes 2020 endorsement. TRANSCRIPT: 6/18/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.
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
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
“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,
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.
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-
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?
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
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
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 –
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
O`DONNELL: What about Iran? What about right now in the middle of this
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
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,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
(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
Does that inhibit your thinking in your public statements about
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
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
(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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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Copyright 2019 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are
protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced,
distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the
prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter
or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the