Trump casts doubt on Russian interference. TRANSCRIPT: 8/2/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.

Guests:
Bob Inglis, Daniella Gibbs Leger, Salud Carbajal, Michael Weiss, David Corn
Transcript:

(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.

 

REID:  Okay.

 

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

blouse.

 

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

day.

 

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

Harris?

 

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

in 2016.

 

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

this anymore.

 

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.

 

VELSHI:  Yes.

 

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

be.

 

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

leaving.

 

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

history.

 

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

to.

 

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

presidency.

 

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

Texas.”

 

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

College.

 

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

running again.

 

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

rare.

 

LEGER:  Her position was no different.

 

INGLIS:  You may be able to win –

 

LEGER:  I`m sorry.

 

INGLIS:  Oh, it was.

 

LEGER:  No.

 

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.

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

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.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(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

enforcement.

 

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

that way.

 

(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

show.

 

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

National Intelligence.

 

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

intelligence apparatus.

 

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

truth.

 

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

wasn`t.

 

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.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

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

decision?

 

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

went on.

 

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

climate change.

 

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

government.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

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

weeks.

 

“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.

 

(COMMERCIAL 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

United States.

 

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

ago.

 

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

American politician.

 

CORN: Because you would know it`s Russian saying it.

 

WEISS: Exactly.

 

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

can do.

 

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.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

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

America.

 

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

American public?

 

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

BE UPDATED.

END

 

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