Trump casts doubt on Russian interference. TRANSCRIPT: 8/2/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I will not. You`re not going to take my job
away from me. I take this very personally. This committee is not going to
be the dead end committee on things that matter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: And voila, just like that. Senate Judiciary
Committee approves Graham`s Asylum Abuse Fix. Lindsey Graham`s legislation
now heads to the full senate and potentially a Democratic controlled House
where it will almost certainly be killed by the Democrats.
So this was a full on stunt. But at least Senator Graham did his part for
the Trump agenda and for his own conservative base. Happy re-election
season. That does it for us tonight. I`ll see you tomorrow morning on my
show “A.M. JOY” on 10:00 a.m. eastern right here on MSNBC. Now it`s time
for the “LAST WORD” and my friend Ali Velshi is here sitting in for
Lawrence tonight. Hello for the second time today, Ali.
ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: For the second time indeed. The first time was at
3:00 today and every time I have you on my other show I get a lot of tweets
about your intellect, about your passion, about your knowledge and I got
all of that today. But I got something else.
VELSHI: I got a lot of tweets about your – your blouse.
REID: Oh, people like the blouse.
VELSHI: People are fascinated by it. They don`t like it. They are
fascinated by it. They want it. They want to know what it`s all about and I
can`t see what`s on it but there are a lot of words.
REID: A lot of words. You know, I like words.
VELSHI: I know you like words.
REID: I like words. Yes, it`s a nerdy blouse. It`s a like a pretty nerdy
VELSHI: I love it.
REID: But I got tell you, whenever you are on, a lot of the tweets that
you get are me live tweeting your show.
VELSHI: I appreciate that Joy. Always a pleasure to see you twice in a
REID: You`re great.
VELSHI: You have yourself a great weekend and we`ll see you tomorrow
morning at 10:00 a.m.
REID: You too.
VELSHI: Good evening, I`m Ali Velshi in for Lawrence O`Donnell. Tonight
the magic number for the first time, a majority of House Democrats back the
impeachment inquiry against President Trump. We`ll talk with the latest
congressman to join the movement later in the show.
And, are we already seeing Russian influence in the U.S. presidential
primaries? How one moment from this week`s debates might have started a
disinformation campaign? Is Vladimir Putin most afraid of President Kamala
But first red flags for Republicans as growing number of Republican
congressional retirements in recent weeks that are stoking party concerns
particularly the latest one – a surprise announcement from rising star
Congressman Will Hurd who said that he would not seek re-election in his
highly competitive Texas district.
Congressman Hurd who had long been considered part of the future of the
Republican Party is the lone black Republican in the House. The congressman
represents a new swing district in Texas. Hillary Clinton won the district
Hurd was barely re-elected in 2018. His seat might be hard for Republicans
to hang on to. Hurd is just one of six House Republicans who have announced
their imminent departure from Capitol Hill in the last two weeks.
Two more Republicans announced earlier in the cycle including Susan Brooks
who party official had chosen to lead recruitment efforts in their attempt
to claw back the majority in the House. Now, Brooks is one of two
Republican women leaving the House, meaning just 11 Republican women are
now seeking re-election.
“Politico” reports a fun stat that`s making its way around GOP circles –
There are more men named Jim in the House than Republican women running for
re-election. It`s clear that there are at least two reasons for many of the
retirements. The first one is changing demographics.
Both Congressman Hurd and Congressman Pete Olson of Texas narrowly won re-
election in 2018 and many analysts predict their races will be tough to win
another time. But it`s also obvious that the president himself has been a
big factor in theses exits.
Hurd was one of only four Republicans along with the also retiring Susan
Brooks who voted to condemn Trump`s racist tweets against four Democratic
minority congresswomen, tweets that Hurd condemned again in a new interview
to the “Washington Post,” “When you imply that because someone doesn`t look
like you and telling them to go back to Africa or wherever, you are
implying that they are not an American. And you`re implying that they have
less worth than you.”
The transformation of the Republican Party to the party of Trump has not
been pretty for many Republicans and of the retirements, none highlights
that more than Will Hurd`s. Here is the former Republican congressman Mark
Sanford on MSNBC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MARK SANFORD (R-SC): To state the obvious, some of the president
peace rhetoric is destructive. It`s harmful not only in selling a message,
but frankly in building a party. And if we increasingly dwindle to being a
party of white men, we got a real problem given the trend lines within our
country in terms of demographic diversity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Now, if past is precedent, expect this trend to continue for
Republicans. If you are not fully onboard the Trump train it might be your
time to get off. And there is one very big problem with that according to
former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson.
Gerson writes in the “Washington Post,” “Trump`s divisiveness is getting
worse, not better. He makes racist comments, appeals to racist sentiments
and inflames racist passions. The rationalization that he is not, deep down
in his heard, really a racist is meaningless.
Trump`s continued offenses mean that a large portion of his political base
is energized by racist tropes and the language of white grievance. And it
means whatever their intent that those who play down or excuse or try to
walk past these offenses are enablers.”
Leading off tour discussion tonight, Bob Inglis, former Republican
congressman from South Carolina and the executive director of
Republican.org. Daniella Gibbs Leger, former special assistant to President
Obama and the executive vice president of communications for the Center for
American Progress. And David Corn, Washington bureau chief for “Mother
Jones” and an MSNBC political analyst.
Welcome to all three of you. Thank you for helping me kick-off the show on
a Friday night. Daniela, let me begin with you. The departure of Will Hurd
is a big deal for a lot of Republicans – I`m sorry – who felt that there
were still people in the party who could sort of help carry it forward in
an era after Donald Trump.
DANIELLA GIBBS LEGER, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT OF COMMUNICATIONS, CENTER
FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Yes, this is a very big loss for them. And
honestly, it`s a little unfair to Congressman Hurd to expect him to carry
the weight of all the Republicans who don`t abide by Donald Trump`s racism.
And honestly I feel like it`s almost too late for the party now.
If you are going to remain a Republican like you said, it is Donald Trump`s
Republican Party. So, if you`re going to remain a part of that party then,
yes, you are signing on. You are co-signing whether you like it or not to
his racism. And I guess William Hurd just was like, I`m not going to do
VELSHI: Bob Inglis, there was a tweet from the “Texas Tribune`s” Abbey
Livingston about reaction to Will Hurd`s retirement. It reads, “My phone is
absolutely exploding with texts from Republican operatives reacting to the
retirement. All have a word I don`t normally use on this forum. And my
mother highly disapproves of but it rhymes with duck.
BOB INGLIS, FORMER TEXAS CONGRESSMAN: Okay, I think I got it.
INGLIS: Yes, I think that it is a real problem of course for the GOP to
have Will Hurd retiring because that district is going to be hard to hold.
That`s what those tweets are about, of course, is the difficulty of holding
that district in Republican hands.
But, you know, I think that my party, the Republican Party has to re-
examine where we are and it`s time for Republicans to stand against what
the president is doing here with the racist tweets and the disputation of
climate science. He sounds a little bit like Bolsonaro of Brazil really,
which is not usually where we expect the president of the United States to
VELSHI: So some members of Congress run on their record. Some run on
policies and some run on momentum. And the problem here is the momentum,
David Corn, seems to be with the president at least amongst those voters
who are going to cast their ballot for Republican.
The Associated Press had another interview with another Republican retiree
form Congress, Paul Mitchell, and he says, “There is a mood of tremendous
frustration with the lack of accomplishment,” he said in an interview this
week, days after stunning colleagues when he said he was leaving after just
two House terms.
“Why run around like a crazy man when the best you can hope is that maybe
you`ll see some change at the margins.” How does this stop from becoming a
mass movement of people who are just frustrated with Donald Trump having
taken over the Republican Party?
DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I don`t think there will be a mass
movement of people frustrated with Trump because the base of the Republican
Party is with him. You know, we`re two and a half years into the Trump
experiment, the Trump disaster depending on your perspective.
And it`s taken this long for some Republicans to start bailing and only a
handful of numbers. I mean, the party in the House, the Republican Party in
the House was 99.95 percent I think white before Will Hurd announced he was
And we`ve had the racist tweets. We have seen no one in the – really in
the leadership position of the House or the Senate, Kevin McCarthy or Mitch
McConnell come out and distance themselves from this. I mean, Trump has
taken the party out of the closet in terms of its racism.
I think the Republicans have always had a problem. It goes back to the
southern strategy with Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan decrying welfare queens
talking about state`s rights. You had the Willy Horton ad for the George H.
W. Bush campaign, and so there`s always been this flirtation, if not, more
so with racist tropes as they like to say.
Trump has taken the party fully out of the closet, taken off the hood if
you want to say it that way. And most of the party at least the people in
control, say yes, not a big problem. And yet people are still coming to the
rallies, you know, cheering him on.
So I think, you know, I really respect Congressman Inglis. He knows that,
but I think the time to stand up is really almost too late. I think you
guys got to start a new party or at least, you know, burn this one down
because you`re not getting it back.
VELSHI: Bob what do you say to that?
INGLIS: Well, there is another narrative, you know. There are Jack Kemp
Republicans like me, people that believe that conservativism works if it
works for everyone. If it does, then it`s good philosophy. If it doesn`t,
then it`s not very good.
And so there are those of us who are Jack Kemp Republicans. There are
people like Nikki Haley took down the confederate flag in South Carolina.
So, there are some different folks out there ready to lead a grand
opportunity party if we could get away and break away from the grumpy old
party, which I agree it has become.
And so that is grumpy old party will not survive, but I hope that out of
its ashes can come a free enterprise party that believes in the sanctity of
life, that believes in a smaller government and an efficient government,
that believes the government can do things.
It believes that America should lead the world. And that believes that free
enterprise can solve things like climate change if we just get the right
policies in place. So, that party can exist, but I agree we have got to
jettison this grumpy old party, which really is headed to the ash heap of
VELSHI: The problem Daniella is that it`s seeming in the last few weeks
something more than grumpy, starting with the president`s attacks on the
Republican congress – or Democratic congresswomen and then his comments
about Elijah Cummings and Baltimore, and then last night he was carrying on
about inner cities. You know, it`s more – it seems more than a flirtation
with racism. Now, it seems like all out dating.
LEGER: Yes, it is. It`s marriage basically. And I just have to push back a
little bit. This did not start with Donald Trump, okay. Let`s not forget
that Sarah Palin was out there whipping up those crowds and talking about
President Obama and highlighting his “otherness.”
And all the ugliness that we saw that came with President Obama`s election
and the rise of the Tea Party and some of the racist stuff that we saw
around then. So, to David`s point, I think Trump just bought out a lot of
the racism that has sort have been dormant and maybe behind the scenes.
We`ve heard those recent Reagan-Nixon tapes where President Reagan,
everyone`s favorite lauded Republican president, was calling black people
monkeys and they were laughing about it. Racism has been a part of this
Republican Party for decades and they just found somebody in Donald Trump
who wasn`t afraid to embrace it. And now people are feeling emboldened in
the country to come out and talk about it freely.
VELSHI: So, there are people in the Republican Party who are fighting back
against the idea that losing Will Hurd in Congress is an actual loss for
the party, David. Texas precinct chair, Kathy Ponce says, “Good riddance to
Will Hurd.” Let`s listen to what she says.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATHY PONCE, TEXAS PRECINCT CHAIR: I am he can ecstatic and happy that
Will Hurd will no longer be seeking re-election for his congressional
district. He is not a Republican values. He is a RINO so, you know, Texas
needs to start standing with true conservatives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: RINO, meaning a Republican in name only. That`s the accusation if
you are a Republican these days who doesn`t agree with President Trump.
CORN: He was the one black Republican and he is not even a Republican. I
don`t know what that means, but I also – I only expand this out one bit
Will Hurd not only was the one African-American in the House on the
Republican side, he was also one of the – maybe the only Republican member
of Congress who seem to give a damn about Russia`s attack on the 2016
election instead of the guys on the intelligence committee who ran around
and trying to distract and say it didn`t happen, or that a FISA warrant is
far more important than the attack on an American presidential election and
Donald Trump`s involvement with that.
He was out there saying this is bad. We need to investigate this. We need
to be honest and was sort of a counterpoint to Devin Nunes. And now the
Republican Party is fully on the side of, hey, nothing happened. And that
again is bad for the Republican – another reason to quote Congressman
Inglis, the party could end up on the ash heap of history.
VELSHI: Right. And Bob Inglis, he was an intelligence guy – Will Hurd
came from the intelligence community so, he had a good understanding of
this. But Justin Amash tweeted today to a point that you were making a
little while ago.
“There was a time when the GOP establishment hated Donald Trump. Then they
realized they could use a man like this – unprincipled, transactional,
shameless – to push the agenda. McConnell and McCarthy are giddy about
Trump. Conservatives in Congress are the ones privately horrified.”
Tell me about this. Why are conservatives in Congress privately horrified,
if you listen to what Justin Amash says, but the leadership is not?
INGLIS: I don`t know. That doesn`t make a lot of sense to me. I think
everybody is pretty much horrified. But – and terrified of the activist in
the party. That`s true by the way of the Democratic Party too, it`s why the
Democrats are doing such a good job right now in their debates, of seeing
that Donald Trump gets a second term because they`re terrified of the
activists in the party.
And that`s our challenge in Americ. It`s not just the Republican Party, but
the fact that the Democratic Party has people with some really wild ideas
that draw the party too far and out of the mainstream.
VELSHI: I would hear that but –
INGLIS: Something happens on the Republican side –
VELSHI: – the wild ideas about giving everybody health care are different
from wild ideas about being racist, wouldn`t you argue the second?
INGLIS: That`s true except this one, the big one that – the Democrats
really don`t understand is if you treat abortion as a sacrament of some
sort and you run a high priest or high priestess of abortion in America,
you cannot win the south. You cannot win Texas. And you cannot win the
And so as long as that cultural divide remains with the Democrats choosing
basically telling Joe Biden that he has to abandon 20 years, 30 years of a
policy position on no public funding of abortion, you must accept it, Joe.
He acquiesces, he hands the White House back to Donald Trump because you
can`t win the south or Texas with that position.
VELSHI: All right, interesting though because Ted Cruz of Texas, Daniella,
has warned that there are going to be – there`s trouble for Republicans in
Texas. He told the “Washington Post,” “The president`s re-election campaign
needs to take Texas seriously. He added that while he remains optimistic
about the GOP`s chances, it is by no means a given that Trump will carry
If it is by no means a given that Trump will carry Texas, then it`s by no
means a given that Trump will carry the popular vote or the Electoral
LEGER: That`s absolutely right, you know. He will probably again have a
lot of help from his friends in Russia. But, you know, Ted Cruz is onto
something. He saw what happened in his Senate race and how close
Congressman O`Rourke came to beating him.
The demographics that are changing in Texas, the voter registration drives
that are happening on the progressive side, absolutely Texas could very
well be in play. And you know, I think you look at somebody like Will Hurd
and I don`t know if that woman, who seems to be so happy that he`s not
VELSHI: Kathy Ponce, the precinct chair.
LEGER: Yes. OK lady, you keep thinking that if that helps you sleep at
night. But I think, you know, he is like the canary in the coal mine so,
absolutely. You know, forcing Republicans to spend more money in Texas is
only good for Democrats.
And can I just push back on one thing? No Democrat is running to be the
high priest or high priestess of the abortion. I don`t even know what that
means. Are they running to have (inaudible) or health care?
INGLIS: Oh, really they are, Daniella. They are. You know they are.
LEGER: No, they`re not. I mean, I think that`s a rookie (ph) Republican
talking point. Absolutely not.
INGLIS: Look at – Bill Clinton called it safe, legal and rare, but
Hillary Clinton said basically we got to have it. Bill said safe, legal and
LEGER: Her position was no different.
INGLIS: You may be able to win –
LEGER: I`m sorry.
INGLIS: Oh, it was.
INGLIS: It was quite different because she needed to ramp up the base. She
needed to get them all excited. That`s our problem in America today, is too
much acquiescence to the base. We`ve got it on the Democratic side with
Jerry Nadler of all people, having a primary opponent in Manhattan.
And then you have on the Republican side the same fear. There are a lot of
reasonable people in Washington but they`re scared of the activists in
their own party. That`s our challenge.
KORN: Bob, you`re talking about the difference between – but congressman,
you`re talking the difference between a policy fight within the Democratic
side and on the, as Ali just mentioned, whether Trump is a racist, a bigot,
misogynistic, ignorant, you know, incompetent. I mean, those are the things
that the base activists of the Republican Party are cheering on rather than
having a legitimate fight over policy.
LEGER: Right. This isn`t of both sides –
INGLIS: Well, David, I think they`re not – they`re not exactly cheering
him on. I think that what it is –
KORN: Well, the people at the rally –
INGLIS: – is there are many people – yes, the people at the rallies are,
but I think there are many Republicans who cringe at what he says and does
and wish he would just go away. But they don`t know how to get rid of him.
VELSHI: Well, let me tell you, I just got back from a vacation. I have a
little jet lag but I would take listening to three of you discuss very
important matters that we need to discuss for a lot longer. Thanks top all
three of you for helping us kick it off tonight. Former Congressman Bob
Inglis, Daniella Gibbs Leger and David Korn, thank you to the three of you.
LEGER: Thank you.
VELSHI: All right, coming up, President Trump`s jaw dropping explanations
for the withdrawal of his nominee for director of National Intelligence
probably surprised a lot of Republicans in the Senate today.
And Democrats crossed a major threshold on impeachment. A majority of House
Democrats now support bringing impeachment proceedings against Donald
Trump. The member who became number 118 will join me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN RATCLIFFE (R-TX): Americans need to know this as they listen to
the Democrats and socialists on the other side of the aisle. Volume two of
this report was not authorized under the law to be written.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: That was Texas Representative John Ratcliffe during the Mueller
testimony in what many now believe was a nationally televised interview for
the job of director of National Intelligence.
Now, as far as the president was concerned, Congressman Ratcliffe, who many
Americans have never heard of, nailed that interview by showing that he
would privilege loyalty to Trump over the findings of career law
enforcement and intelligence officials. And Trump then offered him the job
of director of National Intelligence.
But like most jobs, the interview isn`t everything. You got to pass a
background check. And this week, multiple news outlets combed through
Ratcliffe`s record, again, something everybody wasn`t familiar with because
a lot of people didn`t know this guy, and they found numerous times that he
had either embellished or misled the public about his career in federal law
Now, this is important because under the law, anyone nominated to the DNI
job “shall have extensive national security experience.” This is actually
one of the jobs that you can`t just appoint anybody to.
Today, the president announced he would be withdrawing Ratcliffe`s
nomination in a tweet blaming unfair treatment by the LameStream media, one
word both lame and stream capitalized within it.
But in comments on the White House south lawn just a few hours later, Trump
actually credited the media saying they were doing his vetting for him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The vetting process for the
White House is very good, but you`re part of the vetting process, you know.
I give out a name to the press and they vet for me. We save a lot of money
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Yes, he actually said that. Joining me Malcolm Nance, MSNBC
counterterrorism and intelligence analyst. Malcom, you know, I`ve been away
for a couple of weeks so this whole thing started and ended while I was
away. I didn`t know who John Ratcliffe was two weeks ago. I didn`t know
that he had been chosen as DNI and then I didn`t really understand when his
name was pulled.
But there`s something very interesting here. The “Washington Post” says
that Ratcliffe exaggerated his role – it says Representative John
Ratcliffe claims that as a federal prosecutor in the Eastern District of
Texas, he was the leader of the immigration crack down describing it as one
of the largest cases of its kind.
But a closer look at the case shows that Ratcliffe`s claims conflict with
the court record and the recollections of others who participated in the
operation. Ratcliffe played a supporting role in the 2008 sweep. Only 45
workers were charged by prosecutors in Ratcliffe`s office court documents
Six of those cases were dismissed, two of them because the suspects turned
out to be the American citizens. That`s just the tip of the iceberg of the
stuff this guy said has said that he has done.
MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC COUNTERTERRORISM AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: I find it
absolutely fascinating that Donald Trump somehow thought that him lying
about his resume and inflating his actions during that prosecution, which
actually had nothing to do with the actual counterterrorism case than it
had to do with the jury itself, that Donald Trump found that offensive and
actually couldn`t accept that he had lied.
I mean, that is fascinating. But more importantly, this man is not
qualified and was not qualified. And his type should not be allowed to bid
for this job. This requires a true intelligence professional.
VELSHI: Right. And that`s the key difference here. Ratcliffe again ran
into some problems in which he claimed that he had done other work. The
Texas monthly reports that Ratcliffe claim to have been appointed chief of
anti-terrorism and national security in the Eastern District of Texas came
under suspicion because no such role exists.
Ratcliffe had taken on administrative duties as the coordinator of the
Anti-Terrorism Advisory Counsel. This is one of those jobs that DNI,
thankfully, and other jobs related to the military in the United States
government are actually jobs you have to be qualified for.
NANCE: That`s right. Absolutely. And professionals like the deputy
director of National Intelligence right now, Sue Gordon, 30 years of
experience, former director of Science and Technology at CIA. You know,
worked her way through senior management of CIA, then deputy director of
This is a job crafted for her or people like her. And Donald Trump
specifically said or made clear to someone in the White House that she was
not welcome because he doesn`t want a professional giving him unvarnished
information which would offend him. He is trying to craft the U.S.
intelligence community into a tool, a political weapon with which he can
attack his enemies.
VELSHI: By the way, something that –
NANCE: And that is exactly like his friend –
VELSHI: Vladimir Putin.
NANCE: Yes, go ahead – who is Vladimir Putin.
VELSHI: He did the same thing. Vladimir Putin came into office and purged
people who didn`t agree with him in the intelligence infrastructure.
NANCE: Sure. And then he put his top four ex-KGB, FSB advisers there, then
made it clear that every oligarch who was associated with him would have an
ex-KGB or FSB officer on there. He controls that country through an
Donald Trump through all of his Russia hoax material has decided that he
needs to control all the levers that could possibly investigate him, his
family, his associate. He is literally trying to create an intelligence
police state. And it`s the professionals who are pushing back with the
You know, as we know, in the walls of the CIA, John 31, you know, John
5:31, you know, the truth shall set you free is their version of the
scriptures. Not for Donald Trump. For him, truth is something to be
crafted, molded and hidden at all costs.
VELSHI: The one distinction between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump though
is that Vladimir Putin was actually an intelligence officer. Donald Trump
NANCE: That`s true.
VELSHI: Malcolm, good to see you as always. Thank you for joining me.
Malcolm Nance. All right, coming up, Democrats crossed the line today. More
than half the Democratic caucus in the House backs impeachment now and the
member who became number 118 joins me next.
VELSHI: A majority of House Democrats are now on record publicly supporting
an impeachment inquire into President Donald Trump. Today Congressman Salud
Carbajal of California said that he would support an impeachment inquiry
putting the tally at 118 Democrats and one independent.
Former Republican Justin Amash with the majority of the 235 House Democrats
now ready to move forward, will Speaker Nancy Pelosi face increased
pressure despite her reluctance to call for impeachment. Nancy Pelosi
released a statement saying “In America no one is above the law. The
President will be held accountable”.
For months Speaker Pelosi has warned against advancing impeachment and that
Democrat should focus their attention on the ongoing congressional
investigations and legal battles. But today freshman Congressman Tom
Malinowski said this about the congressional investigations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TOM MALINOWSKI (D-NJ): As far as I`m concerned, an impeachment inquiry
has already begun. The Judiciary Committee made clear that they are seeking
documents and witnesses for the purpose of conducting an impeachment
inquiry. That`s what I called for and many others called for a while ago.
And it`s happening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Joining us is the man who put the Democrats over the halfway.
Joining us is Democratic Congressman Salud Carbajal from California. He is
now the 118th Democrat in favor of the impeachment an inquiry. Congressman
good to have you here, thank you for joining us.
REP. SALUD CARBAJAL (D-CA): Good to be here, Ali.
VELSHI: What made you make the decision because you had to know other than
others who have made the decision before you that this would be influential
by becoming half of the Democratic caucus? What brought you point?
CARBAJAL: Well, for me it was the consideration of many factors. First
clearly the Mueller Report, then to actually hear the testimony. But to see
time and time again, the fact that this President and this administration
has ignored - have ignored all the subpoenas put forth by Congress. I think
is ultimately what did it, along with many conversations that I`ve had with
constituents in the district.
VELSHI: Nancy Pelosi has been reluctant obviously to go down this road.
Have you spoken to her? Has she had any particular reaction to your
CARBAJAL: Certainly I spoke to her about a week ago. Actually a couple
weeks ago and let her know that I was mulling this decision over. And
certainly Speaker Pelosi has a number of considerations in making her
decision whether at some point we move forward with an impeachment inquiry.
For myself I think I reached that threshold based on all the considerations
that I mentioned earlier.
We saw too many instances where this President either directed or attempted
to obstruct justice. I think it`s important that we get all the facts
around those incidences so that the American people could see what really
VELSHI: You know your constituents elect you to make decisions on their
behalf. And you are obviously moving ahead with your conscience. Are
considerations about what kind of pressure this puts on the party or your
cactus or Nancy Pelosi? Is that relevant to you or do you feel that by
doing this in puts pressure on Nancy Pelosi or do you think that it
advantages her to have a number of Democrats saying that they are prepared
to move forward with an impeachment inquiry. Her words, last Friday was
that it gives her some leverage?
CARBAJAL: I think all of the above, Ali. But I think that for myself. What
drives my decision, it`s all about my constituents first and foremost.
Secondly, it`s other considerations. But I - I look at what`s in the best
interests of my district and my constituents. And for me this is a decision
that I have reached.
VELSHI: So what are the concerns that Nancy Pelosi has and others have is
that this harkens back to the impeachment of Bill Clinton, which didn`t
bode well for Republicans in the next cycle? In fact Julian Castro talked
about it during the debate. Let`s listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JULIAN CASTRO (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that too many folks in
the Senate and in the Congress have been spoofed by 1998. I believe that
the times are different and in fact I think that folks are making a mistake
not pursuing impeachment.
The Mueller Report clearly details that he deserves it and what`s going to
happen in the fall of next year of 2020 if you don`t impeachment him, is he
is here to you see the Democrats seemed to go after me on impeachment and
you know why because I didn`t do anything wrong. These folks that always
investigate me, they`re always trying to going after me when it came down
it they didn`t go after me because I didn`t do anything wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: What do you think about that? What do you think about the fact that
some people fear doing it because many people including your constituents
some of them may not think that`s their priority. So many Americans are
sort of struggling to prosper in this economy. And there are some people
who say, I don`t want my members of Congress wasting time on this. I want
them dealing with things that get me jobs and increase my income. How do
you balance that?
CARBAJAL: First it`s apples and oranges, the impeachment that was pursued
for Clinton from the impeachment inquiry that would ensue for Mr. Trump.
Clearly we have real clear cases of obstruction, of communication with the
Russians to try to impact our elections. This is apples and oranges.
But let me tell you I think as Democrats we could pursue an impeachment
inquiry and still focus on the bread and butter issues that the American
people and the residents of my district want us to focus on. Infrastructure
lowering health and prescription costs addressing the minimum wage the
raising minimum wage and job opportunities for everyone and addressing
We can chew gum and walk at the same time. And I think the American people
will come to appreciate even more the fact that we are pursuing what`s in
the best interests of our democracy and putting our nation first before
party and politics.
VELSHI: There are several congressional investigations going on into Donald
Trump that are meaning to pick up where the Mueller investigation left off
or to do other things. How do you in your mind you distinguishing between
those that are going on that Speaker Pelosi talks about all the time and
encourage support of versus impeachment inquiry if your constituents ask
you what`s the difference, what would you say?
CARBAJAL: Well, I think we have seen that those investigations have been
thwarted by subpoenas not being adhered to, not being responded to, and
clearly once we would embark on an impeachment inquiry it adds a totally
different complexion to this investigation and it would bring all the
investigations into one focus.
And I think that`s what the American people want. And need to be able to
understand what really transpired here?
VELSHI: Congressman, good to see you thank you for joining me tonight.
Congressman, Salud Carbajal of Santa Barbara. Thank you for joining us.
CARBAJAL: Thank you.
VELSHI: Coming up President Trump`s major foreign policy decision that made
U.S. European allies nervous and thus probably pleased the Russian
VELSHI: Donald Trump has done a lot this week to make Russian President
Vladimir Putin happy. Yesterday the President casts doubt about Russia`s
continued efforts to interfere in our election. Contradicting his own
intelligence community and Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller and
refusing to discuss the topic of election interference in a phone call that
Trump had with Vladimir Putin this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Robert Mueller said last week that Russia is interfering in U.S.
elections right now. Did you discuss with Russians?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: You don`t really believe
this, do you believe this?
REPORTER: Did you talk about that with President Putin yesterday?
TRUMP: We didn`t talk about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Today the President withdraw from a landmark Nuclear Arms Control
Treaty with Russia that prohibited ground launched intermediate and short
range missiles since the Cold War. It was signed by Ronald Reagan and
Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987 to help ease tensions between the
two countries but now there are escalating concerns about a new nuclear
arms race as the Pentagon is planning to test new missiles in the coming
“The New York Times” reports that “The new missiles are unlikely to be
deployed to counter Russia which the United States has said for years, was
in violation of the accord. Instead, the first deployments are likely to be
intended to counter China”.
Also this week Donald Trump was forced to impose new sanctions against the
Kremlin for the poisoning of a Former Russian spy in Britain after
lawmakers threaten to take action. The President had delayed putting these
legally mandated sanctions into effect for months but as “The Wall Street
Journal” notes “The administration has flexibility in the sanctions it
levies so could temper the punitive measures adopted against Russia”.
Russia was also paying attention to which Democrat will challenge Donald
Trump`s re-election. A top story on Vladimir Putin`s news outlet in the
United States RT presented Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard`s attack on Senator
Kamala Harris as dismantling Harris` record as a prosecutor during
Wednesday night`s debate. The Twitter hash-tag Kamala Harris destroyed also
gained traction and was re-tweeted by hundreds of social media accounts
that appeared to be bots according to “The Wall Street Journal.”
Former Undersecretary of State in the Obama administration Richard Stengel
tweeted this is a clear example of Russian disinformation happening in real
time. We`re going to discuss the implications of these actions for the 2020
election and more with Michael Weiss and David Corn after the break.
VELSHI: All right joining us now Michael Weiss Daily Beast Communist and
Author of an upcoming book on Russia`s Military Intelligence Agency. David
Corn is back with us as well. David we are back in a conversation that you
and I have had for probably two years or longer now, about the President
not taking Russia`s interference in the election seriously. Actually,
dismissing a reporter`s question about the fact that Russia may now be
starting to try and influence the Democratic primary. Your thoughts?
DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Well, it`s basically the
third year anniversary of Donald Trump saying Russia`s not attacking the
United States. And even saying hey, if you`re listening, attack and hack
into Hillary Clinton that was in December 2016 and no matter what has
happened, and what information has come forward, he has refused to fully
acknowledge that Russia attacked an American election to help election
Donald Trump, and that his campaign was even told that Russia had a secret
plot to help Trump.
And he kept denying it, as a candidate, and he has denied it since, he has
not said anything about election security. Mitch McConnell is blocking key
bills. I mean at some point Ali, I just don`t know when heads begin to
explode. The United States faces a national security threat from Russia in
this regard, and he`s out there today saying you really think Russia
attacked us, you really think it hacked into the DNC and influenced the
election, or tried to intervene? And everybody says yes. And yet,
Republican Party enables him, and supports him, in this denial reality.
VELSHI: So Michael, let`s work through this, because this may be
unimportant, or it may be something in two years we`re talking about. Ian
Sams, the Press Secretary for the Harris campaign, tweeted a quote from an
NBC news article in February in response to this hash-tag that we`re
talking about, Kamala Harris destroyed hash tag.
He said reporters writing their stories with eyes on the modern day
assignment desk of Twitter, read this. “The Russia propaganda machine that
tried to influence the 2016 election is now promoting the presidential
aspirations of a controversial Hawaii Democrat”. What`s the deeper meaning
here? What`s going on? Why, if this is true, would Russian bots or Russians
be interested in promoting Tulsi Gabbard, and why have they decided that
Kamala Harris is the person to target if true?
MICHAEL WEISS, EXPERT ON RUSSIAN MILITARY INTELLIGENCE: Well, it`s not so
much that they want Tulsi Gabbard to be President. This is a candidate of
congresswoman who went on the national stage accused the President of the
United States of supporting Al-Qaeda.
Now think about it logically right. The Kremlin has a pretty favorable view
of Donald Trump, you would think if they are loyal to him, they would say,
well, wait a minute, we take offense at this, this is our guy, why are you
saying he is in support of terrorism? It is music to their ears right?
It`s a congresswoman accusing the President of United States for backing
Jihadism. The tropes coming out of Damascus, Moscow, Tehran since 2011 with
respect to the Syria crisis, is the United States is fomenting it is
terrorist onslaught on a legitimate elected President Assad. She is playing
directly into the propaganda tropes that have come out of enemies of the
For whatever reason, right? I mean we`ve been in this network and other
networks grilling her about her support for Bashar-al-Assad, her
apologetics, her denialism which she couches as skepticism that Assad has
committed all these atrocities. She famously went to Damascus under the
supervision and the underwriting of a Lebanese fascist party several years
Whatever the reason is, her motivation, her so-called anti-war sort of
shtick, Russia is looking to her and says it doesn`t matter we don`t need
her to win, what she is doing she is injecting this poison into the
American electorate in a much more efficacious fashion. If the Russians had
come out and said this, it would be far less successful that having
CORN: Because you would know it`s Russian saying it.
VELSHI: David Corn, “The Wall Street Journal” yesterday, talked about the
suspicious media account saying hundreds of social media accounts with bot-
like traits promoted misinformation and content, ended inflaming racial
divisions during both nights of the Democratic Presidential Debates. The
bot-like activity on Tuesday and Wednesday nights was consistent with
online discussions around Senator Kamala Harris`s ethnicity during the
first Democratic Debate, including both Miss. Harris, and racial issues, as
key targets for bot-like accounts during the 2020 election campaign.
Separate and apart from what I was just discussing with Michael about why -
why Tulsi Gabbard and Kamala Harris, what you`re seeing here is a model
that looks very much like a model that we saw in 2016?
CORN: Slight disagreement. I think what we`re seeing perhaps is a model
that goes beyond 2016. 2016 might have been the warm-up game might have
been the preseason. There was the internet research agency and they - they
had an impact, but I think a lot of it was clumsy, and I think they were
sort of just feeling the ground here in America and figuring out what they
They have now had two, three years to perfect their strategies, to become
even more sophisticated, and we`ve had Robert Mueller, we had Dan Coats,
we`ve had FBI Director Chris Wray all say that this is not just going to
happen, it is happening now and yet, from the White House, and from the
Republicans in Congress, crickets.
VELSHI: Guys, thanks very much. Michael Weiss and David Corn, thanks for
joining us on a Friday night. Tonight`s LAST WORD is next.
VELSHI: Last Sunday night, MSNBC`s Katy Tur and Jacob Soberop, presented
the first episode of their investigative series, “American Swamp”. We talk
about so-called dark money in politics and last Sunday they showed you what
that actually looks like, where it comes from, and how it affects the laws
that Congress makes. You need to catch up on the series, because this
Sunday night, Katy and Jacob turn their focus to the President and the
money flowing to him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President is trying to fight back against and he was
calling it Presidential harassment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t try to stop the President from doing his job. My
job, as a member of the Congress, is to be a check on the executive branch.
So you can call it whatever you want, this is me doing my job. This is
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you convince people that the job you`re doing
subpoenaing various members of the administration, potentially Donald
Trump`s organization and his orbit, that by doing that, you are helping the
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At some point we have to make a moral argument and we
have to make that argument for what makes - to help people understand that
they have an invested interest in making sure that we have a President and
a legislature that is accountable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Tune in this Sunday night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, for the second
episode of “American Swamp,” only on MSNBC. 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
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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