Jewish groups condemn Trump. TRANSCRIPT: 8/20/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
And as kind of expected by me, anyway, a star was born last night here on
THE LAST WORD, the other Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: She can be Rachel number one. It`s OK.
O`DONNELL: No, no, no, she is now officially our second favorite Rachel.
She – Rachel Bitecofer who is the political science professor who has
predicted the Democrats will get a minimum of 278 electoral votes, which is
a winning margin, in the next election was with us last night. You know,
she was the last guest.
You know what happens, Rachel, as the hours goes on, the minutes – the
timing is creeping into the final segment. So, she didn`t get as much time
as she deserves. Still, she was and this is proof of the star is born
thing, the highest rated segment of the hour last night at 10:00 p.m.
MADDOW: Very nice.
O`DONNELL: So, Rachel, I want you to take your time on this. Who do you
think is my guest tonight?
MADDOW: The other Rachel. Is it the other Rachel?
O`DONNELL: The other Rachel.
MADDOW: Yes, stretch it out, man. Let it breathe.
O`DONNELL: That is what`s going do happen.
MADDOW: Well done, my friend. Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
Well, when he was a “New York Times” reporter, Tim O`Brien wrote a book
about Donald Trump in 2005 called “TrumpNation: The Art of the Being the
Donald”. And in that book, Tim O`Brien estimated that Donald Trump`s
wealth was not the several billion dollars that Donald Trump claimed that
it was, that it was really closer to maybe $250 million, which would
actually be less than what Donald Trump`s wealth would have been if he had
just taken his inheritance and invested it conservatively.
And so, of course, Donald Trump sued Tim O`Brien, and of course Donald
Trump lost the lawsuit and of course Donald Trump committed perjury under
oath in that case, lying about his wealth. But perjury in civil cases is
just about never criminally prosecuted. And so, Donald Trump got away with
that perjury. But he did lose the case.
And now, Donald Trump appears to be committing perjury once again about his
wealth, but this time he has done it on federal government financial
disclosure forms which include the warning that when you sign this form,
you are signing, as the traditional phrase goes, under the pains and
penalties of perjury.
Tim O`Brien will join us at the end of the hour tonight to discuss the
possibility that Donald Trump might finally suffer the consequences of pain
of perjury in articles of impeachment that the House of Representatives
might consider against Donald Trump in what could also be a criminal
prosecution that Donald Trump has to face when he leaves office. No one
knows more about the lies that Donald Trump has told about his wealth
throughout his life than Tim O`Brien, and we are lucky to have Tim O`Brien
joining us again tonight to discuss this story.
We begin tonight with where we left off last night. Today, the president
of the United States sided with 10 percent of the American people against
89 percent of the American people. Once again. After the mass murders in
El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, President Trump once again pretended to
be considering supporting expanded background checks for purchasing guns,
including the mass murderers` favorite assault weapons.
And on this program, we ignored the president`s feigned interest in new gun
safety laws because we saw him do this once before and we knew what was
coming today. “The Atlantic” reports earlier this afternoon according to a
person briefed all the call, the president told Wayne LaPierre in another
phone call that universal background checks were off the table. He was
cementing his stance. That we already have background checks and that he`s
not waffling on this anymore, the source said.
He was never waffling. He was pretending to waffle. Big difference.
And on this program, we no longer cover Donald Trump pretending to waffle.
We don`t think we`ve mastered how to cover Donald Trump, but that`s one
thing we`ve learned. We won`t cover him pretending to waffle about gun
safety legislation after a mass murder. He will surely do that again and
we will not cover the fake waffling again.
In a new NBC News/”Wall Street Journal” poll, 89 percent of Americans
support expanding background checks. Ten percent are opposed. Ten percent
approve of Donald Trump`s conversations with Wayne LaPierre about opposing
background checks. Ten percent.
It`s decisions like that that are driving some of the other very bad
polling numbers for Donald Trump in the NBC News poll. White college
educated women support any Democrat over Donald Trump by 33 points, 63
percent to 30 percent and white non-college educated women have shifted
their support away from Donald Trump to the Democrat, 49 percent support
the Democrat, 43 percent support Donald Trump now.
A new CNN poll shows the majority of Americans and Democratic-leaning
independents want a Democratic nominee who will beat Donald Trump. Fifty-
four percent prefer a Democratic Party nominee with a strong chance of
beating Donald Trump, 39 percent prefer a Democratic Party nominee who
shares their positions on major issues.
In that poll, Joe Biden continues to lead the Democratic field with 29
percent of the vote. That is up 7 points since June – since June and that
CNN poll. The poll does not show significant gains for any other
Bernie Sanders is at 15 percent. That`s up 1 point. Elizabeth Warren is
at 14 percent. That`s down 1 point. Kamala Harris is down 5 percent and
that`s down 12 points since June.
Pete Buttigieg is at 5 percent. That`s just up 1 point. And Beto O`Rourke
is still at 3 percent with no change since June. No other candidate gets
more than 2 percent of the vote in that poll.
There is good polling news for Democrats in Senate races also. In Arizona,
a new poll shows the incumbent Republican Senator Martha McSally not only
running below 50 percent below 50 percent, which in itself would be a very
bad indicator for any incumbent, but it shows her running likely behind her
Democratic opponent, retired astronaut Mark Kelly who is polling at 46
percent. And Republican Senator Martha McSally is polling at 41 percent in
Arizona, the same state where Democrats picked up a Senate seat in last
In May, the Cook Political Report has shifted its forecast on Republican
Senator Susan Collins`s seat from leaning Republican to toss-up. The
leading Democratic candidate in the Maine Senate race is the leader of
Maine`s House of Representatives, Sarah Gideon.
None of this polling information comes as a surprise to our first guest
tonight, a political scientist who has been predicting that the Democrats
can pick up an additional six seats in the House of Representatives in the
next election and possibly more than that, and that Democrats would become
increasingly competitive in the Senate races.
Political science professor Rachel Bitecofer was our last guest last night.
In our rushed conversation at the end of that hour, she was only able to
outline the very basics of her election analysis. She correctly predicted
the Democrats` 40-seat pick up in the House of Representatives in last
year`s election long before anyone else saw that coming.
Professor Bitecofer says that the most important factor motivating voters
now on both sides is negative partisanship, what she calls negative
partisanship and in her recent paper predicting that the Democratic
candidate will win the electoral college with a minimum of 278 Electoral
College votes. She said the surge in Democratic votes will not be as
dependent on the policies advocated by the Democratic candidate as it will
be as a result of fear of Donald Trump.
She writes: The complacent electorate of 2016 who were convinced Trump
would never be president has been replaced with the terrified electorate of
2020. 2018 is a story of turnout and turnout was powered by one thing and
one thing only, Donald J. Trump.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, Democrats did not flip these Republican
districts via the support of moderate Republicans due to their focus on
health care. Democrats` success in increasing the size of their House
majority will largely depend on whether they come to recognize the need to
maximize turnout among Democratic-friendly constituencies such as college
educated women, Latinos, African-Americans and millennials and in their
ability to understand that it is fear of Trump, not policy, that will best
motivate these voters to the polls.
And leading off our discussion tonight is political science professor
Rachel Bitecofer. She is with the Wason Center for Public Policy at
Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Virginia.
Thank you very much for coming back tonight, Rachel. And I can call you
Rachel, can`t I? You are our second favorite Rachel.
RACHEL BITECOFER, CHRISTOPHER NEWPORT UNIVERSITY: You can as long as
you`re willing to concede that I will always be only the second favorite
Rachel on MSNBC. That`s fine.
O`DONNELL: Well, you and I share – I know you and I share a favorite
Rachel, and you told me about that today.
O`DONNELL: So, I want to get to more of your analysis and fold it into
what we`re learning in these polls today and how it fits or doesn`t fit
with what we`re seeing in polls today.
BITECOFER: Yes, absolutely.
O`DONNELL: The tip of the iceberg last night. You are predicting not just
a surge in Democratic voters out of fear of Trump, but because of this
negative partisanship dynamic, it works on both sides. You are also saying
O`DONNELL: – there will probably be an increase in Trump voters.
BITECOFER: That`s exactly right. And really with, you know, polls like
the ones that you were just illustrating, who needs forecasts like mine,
right? I mean, it`s a real sign of the times that an incumbent president
would run for re-election given the data that we`re seeing in these polls.
But absolutely, you know, what we`re going to see in this election after
what we saw in the data in 2018, not only did Republicans not jump ship and
vote for these Democrats, you know, these blue dog Democrats in these
moderate districts, they surged their own turnout. I`ll be releasing an
analysis that is a supplement to my forecast that is a deep dive into the
voter files in California and Virginia in these competitive districts
And what I show in that is that along with surges of independents and
Democrats, yes, Republican turnout surged even though there was no real
catalyst to make it surge. And that`s what I talk about in my 2020
forecast, learning from 2018 that Trump was able to actually artificially
inflate or, you know, manifest that negative partisanship emotion in the
Republican electorate and unbeknownst to most people, that`s what the
campaign strategy is. So when you look at what Trump is doing, when he
seems to be working at cross purposes, you know, talking about “The Squad”,
what he`s trying to do is keep that Republican emotion really high and it
certainly did work for him in 2018, even though a lot of the punditry
doesn`t recognize it.
O`DONNELL: So, for example, in today`s decision, it wasn`t really a
decision, but in his position on background checks where he`s siding with
basically 10 percent of the population, it`s your view that he`s relying on
that 10 percent to be disproportionately represented at the polls because
they have a kind of 100 percent incentive for turnout?
BITECOFER: Well, it is always true that the NRA and the Second Amendment
voting bloc is just fantastic at turnout. It will be less of a factor in a
presidential cycle, but certainly in off off-year elections that has
As these mass casualty events have escalated, the politics of gun control
have switched. It`s just that Democrats have been slow to realize that and
they don`t yet understand how to campaign and capitalize on emotion, right?
They like to talk about gun control where, oh, we`re going to, you know,
initiate a background check policy but they don`t really know how to tap
into voter emotions and the right obviously does.
So, you know, with Trump to be honest with you, I think in his heart of
hearts he probably wishes that he could take this off the table, but he
cannot. I mean, this is the one issue in which the base has him held
hostage. He cannot capitulate on this issue because the only thing that he
has going for him in this 2020 cycle is that locked in, you know, base and
it`s comprised of evangelicals, as Rachel`s show was documenting, and also
these Second Amendment voters.
And Second Amendment voters, they have a take no prisoner mentality. So
that is a policy that makes absolute sense to, you know, 90 percent of
Americans, but not to those, you know, 10 percent of voters that are going
to make up a real key constituency to his re-election.
O`DONNELL: So your analysis is built on what you saw in Virginia state
elections in 2017. And then you applied that to the 2018 modeling for the
congressional races. It turned out to be right. And now you`re applying
it again to the presidential election.
Could you explain to the viewers how it is you determine what it was that
actually did win a given congressional district? When there is this common
belief that, oh, well, the Democrats ran because the Republicans threatened
their health care and so, some swing voters switched over from Republican
voting to Democratic voting.
BITECOFER: Yes. I`m really glad you asked that. I mean, what I`m arguing
is not just a model, it`s a whole fundamental shift in how you understand
elections and it`s two-fold.
Number one, I`m arguing the way to understand elections in terms of
competitiveness now is really based on two things, partisan competition,
which is basically a measure of polarization. So a district or a state has
to have a certain level of competition that is doable. And, you know, when
we look at Tennessee, Kentucky, even if you have a really strong candidate,
you`re not going to be able to win those places because there`s just not
enough Democratic voters to take you over the edge, even if they turn out
in big numbers and you`re not going to convert Republicans to vote for you.
And I think the Tennessee race last year was a great illustration of that.
I told, you know, my followers in July that race is 100 percent a lost
cause and, of course, even though the polling had showed it close, he ended
up getting hammered in that race. So you need a certain amount of
But the other thing that I identified is this realignment that`s going on
in the electorate and the demographic that`s really a great indicator of
that is college education. So for a long time, Republicans had advantage
with college-educated voters, but as you were just citing in that polling
data, college education is now an indication of Democratic vote support,
not Republican. And, you know, the obvious reasons for what you`ve been
watch going on in the Republican Party over this last decade.
So when I looked at my model, that`s what I was looking for is, not, you
know, just do you have a compelling story like Amy McGrath, but do you have
these district conditions that can produce this huge turnout surge that it
can flip? And that`s why, you know, Democrats, they did quite well in the
midterms, but they left things on the table and I identify, you know, 18
races, especially in Texas, where Democrats just failed to understand, oh,
high rates of college education, high rates of diversity in suburban areas
around Dallas, that they could have picked up in the last cycle and if they
target it in 2020, they should be able to pick up in this cycle.
O`DONNELL: I still feel we are on the tip of the iceberg of your amaze
since I`ve read so much of it. We`re going to have to have you back.
Professor Rachel Bitecofer, thank you for joining us once again. Please,
you`re going to have to stay with us throughout the election season. We`re
going to need you.
BITECOFER: It will be such a pleasure, Lawrence. Sorry about that.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel. Really appreciate it.
BITECOFER: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: And now to the question of who will be the Democratic nominee
for president. We turn to our next guest, Neera Tanden, the former senior
adviser to president Obama and Hillary Clinton. She`s the president and
CEO of the center for American progress.
Neera, let`s take a look, another look at that CNN poll, the latest poll of
the Democratic primary field because it`s kind of fascinating. Joe Biden
at 29 percent, a jump of 7 points in that poll. Bernie Sanders holding
steady at 15. Elizabeth Warren holding steady at 14.
Kamala Harris down to 5 percent, a drop of 12 points. Pete Buttigieg
holding steady at 5. Beto O`Rourke holding steady at 3. None of the other
candidates gets more than 2 percent of the vote.
So, Neera, what is your reading of what has happened in this round of
NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: You know, I think
one way to look at what is happening is that essentially this is the
contours of the race. Then we have these debates which create a flash
point, but this might be the equilibrium until we really get to Iowa.
Polls in Iowa are different than these polls, than the national polls, and
Iowa can change the calculus pretty dramatically for the national polls.
We saw that in 2007. We definitely saw that in 2007/2008. We saw that in
2015/2016. Candidates who can surge in Iowa can really change the
trajectory of how they do nationally.
So, you know, my take here is that the vice president is doing well because
he – there`s been a series of polls over the last month in which it shows
that – they show that he is the best candidate against Trump.
Electability is still a critical issue. And I think for a lot of
Democratic voters, while we all engaged in all the differences between
these candidates, they are fundamentally thinking that the differences
between the Democratic candidates are pretty small in comparison to the
difference with Donald Trump himself, particularly after events in El Paso,
in California, you know, the danger of Trump I think almost helps Biden.
But, again, it`s very early.
O`DONNELL: Well, that is the Rachel Bitecofer point, that the voter is so
driver by the fear of Donald Trump and that`s what could be supporting the
Biden candidacy. It seems to be the operative principle in Joe Biden`s
Let`s take a look at this new campaign ad from Joe Biden.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN CAMPAIGN AD ANNOUNCER: We know in our bones this election is
different. The stakes are higher, the threat more serious. We have to
beat Donald Trump. And all the polls agree Joe Biden is the strongest
Democrat to do the job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And, Neera, I want to give credit to the other people in this
poll who don`t make that 3 percent cut because right below Beto O`Rourke,
you have Cory Booker at 2, Julian Castro at 2, Tulsi Gabbard at 2 with a
margin of error 3.7 percent.
Cory Booker could be up there in the Buttigieg category at this point.
O`DONNELL: And so, there is still a lot of potential movement here at the
lower end of this poll.
TANDEN: Absolutely. And, again, you know, there are reports of different
candidates doing really well in early states.
Booker doing well in Iowa, getting really great crowds. Warren doing very
well and doing well in Iowa polls. Beto O`Rourke, you know, a lot of
Democrats have appreciated what he`s done over the last couple of weeks,
really taking it to Trump.
So, I don`t think being – I don`t think we should see these polls as
determinative. They are flash points at this time. And, you know, I`ve
been parts of campaigns that won and lost that were doing well at this
point in the election cycle.
I do think we should think about what`s energizing voters. And to Rachel
Bitecofer`s point, I do agree with her fundamentally that Trump is the
driver both amongst Republicans and Democrats. And Trump has – is making
Democrats very much focus on electability in a way that they haven`t in any
election in really my lifetime.
The concern is so fundamental because Donald Trump is such a threat to
pretty much core Democratic values, and so everyone is really measuring who
can take on Trump, and I also think part of what`s happening, and I do
think this is a part of the 2018 analysis, it is absolutely the case that
people were voting for and against Trump. And lots of people came out to
vote against Trump. But according to a lot of analysis, one group has done
this, essentially there were, you know, 90 percent of the Democratic surge
vote – 90 percent of the margin vote, I should say, the vote that led to
the House victory were voters who had voted for Trump in 2016 and moved to
Democrats in 2018.
So, it`s really a strategy. There are voters. You see this in the polling
you just annunciated. White non-college women who were 2 to 1 against
Hillary are now 43 percent for Trump, 49 percent for Democrats. That is a
big move amongst those voters who are not super partisan. They tend to be
And so, I think that – I think that`s an argument that Biden is using.
That he can appeal to those voters. Sanders also says he can appeal to
those voters. I think Democrats are making a very complicated view about
who can put together a broad coalition to take on Trump.
O`DONNELL: Neera Tanden, I know that polls are early. We all know that.
But when you see in the polls what you`re hoping to see in the polls, it`s
worth acknowledging. And people do within the campaigns. They`re very
happy to see these kinds of polls.
Neera Tanden, thank you very much for joining us. Really appreciate it.
TANDEN: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, a freshman Democrat who represents a
district that Donald Trump won in 2016 has now come out with a very strong
statement supporting an impeachment inquiry against the president, and she
was convinced by what she sees as overwhelming evidence in the Mueller
report, but it`s in volume I of the Mueller report, not volume II about the
obstruction of justice, volume I about the Russian interference.
That is a unique take on impeachment by this congresswoman. We`re going to
have that next.
O`DONNELL: There was an important development in support for impeachment
proceedings in the House of Representatives today, important both in who
the new support comes from and what that support is based on.
Congresswoman Lauren Underwood of Illinois is one of the freshmen Democrats
who flipped a Republican district last year in winning her election. She
brings the total number of House diplomats supporting impeachment now to
126, a majority of the Democrats 235 members of the House.
She is the first member of the Congress to issue a public statement in
support of impeachment based entirely on volume I of the Mueller report,
instead of volume II. Volume II describes obstruction of justice,
including the president`s attempts to fire Robert Mueller, but it is the
largely ignored volume I in the impeachment process that describes the
Russian attack on our election and the Trump campaign`s cooperation with
Russian interests in the Trump campaign.
Congresswoman Underwood`s statement supporting impeachment proceedings
says, quote: No one is above the law, including the president of the United
States. The Mueller report lays out substantial evidence that the
president`s campaign worked with a foreign adversary to influence an
election. The president has stated he would welcome foreign help to win
the 2020 election. I find this extremely concerning.
The Mueller report gave us a lot of information, but it left open a lot of
key questions that House committees are investigating. I have long stated
that I support the impeachment-related investigation by Chairman Nadler and
the others being pursued by five other committees. The American people
deserve all the facts and full transparency, and Congress needs this
information to inform a decision to move forward with the very sobering act
of drafting articles of impeachment.
And just as importantly, we need the information to better understand how
our election was influenced by a foreign adversary to prevent it from ever
Joining our discussion now is Malcolm Nance, MSNBC counterterrorism and
intelligence analyst. He is the author of “The Plot to Destroy Democracy:
How Putin and His Spies are Undermining America and Dismantling the West.”
Malcolm, you must feel grateful that someone in the impeachment discussion
has finally paid attention to volume I.
MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC COUNTERTERRORISM AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: That is
precisely what I was thinking in your opening segment there. That finally
someone has glommed on to what Robert Mueller was really trying to say.
First off, the United States was not meddled in, it was attacked,
physically attacked. U.S. citizens were affected. Materials were stolen.
The American electoral process was corrupted and it was designed to break
the fundamentals of the American electoral process.
This freshman congresswoman gets it. Donald Trump can be impeached on just
about anything. If Bill Clinton can be impeached for what they say is
perjury and lying related to a consensual sexual relationship, then
conspiring not up to the level that Robert Mueller chose, but conspiring
all the same, benefitting, coordinating and working with a foreign power
and its Laundromat, WikiLeaks, to cheat an election, that`s impeachable.
O`DONNELL: Yes, and I think a lot of the discussion about impeachment got
distracted into the notion of a provable federal crime has to be committed,
which has never been true about the impeachment process. And this
congresswoman is very much obviously aware of that, even though the Mueller
investigation did not produce a federal crime committed by President Trump
that they could allege in volume I.
The behavior of the campaign in relation to Russian interests in the
campaign is something that she considers worthy of the attention of an
NANCE: Well, certainly, because Robert Mueller used an almost impossible
standard for criminal conduct. If you recall, in the case of Donald Trump,
Jr., he decided that Donald Trump, Jr. could get away with not knowing the
law and still committing a crime and that that would be no problem. No
other American who is ignorant of the law gets away with committing a
So, that standard can be brought out as part of the impeachment process and
shown that it is in fact actually a crime. Another standard that he gave
was the standard of not reasonable doubt, but conclusive evidence that the
President`s campaign worked and conspired with a foreign power. That
evidence is all through the 448 pages of Section 1 and I think that it
should be acted upon.
O`DONNELL: Malcolm Nance, thank you very much for joining us. I really
NANCE: My pleasure, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, Donald Trump`s anti-Semitism was on full
display in the Oval Office today. We have never seen anything like this.
O`DONNELL: 79 percent of Jewish voters voted for Democratic House
candidates in last year`s election. Today, Donald Trump finally let his
anti-Semitism flow freely and publicly when he attacked every one of those
79 percent of American-Jewish voters who vote Democratic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I think any Jewish
people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of
knowledge or great disloyalty.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: We are patiently awaiting condemnation of President Trump`s
comments from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but he has been
strangely silent on this offence against the Jewish people. Netanyahu has
chosen to stake the future of Israel not so much anymore on the support
from American Jews which used to be so important to Israel, but more and
more on the support of conservative Republicans and Trump Republicans.
Surely, Benjamin Netanyahu knows that evangelical Christian Republicans are
the most fervent supporters of the State of Israel in America and that is
because the formation of the State of Israel and Israeli control of
Jerusalem are crucial to the evangelical Christian belief, which has been
shared publicly by the Republican Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that the
future of the State of Israel will include the return of Jesus Christ, who
will then in a period that they called the rapture rule over a world in
which everyone living including all Jews in Israel will be converted to
Christianity, and then that will lead to an absolutely delightful end of
Seriously, that is what they believe and that is why they were thrilled by
Donald Trump moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem because they believe
that that hastens the day that Jesus Christ will return and bring on the
rapture and convert every Jew in Israel to Christianity, every Jew in the
world. They believe that. Mike Pompeo, your Secretary of State, believes
that. Benjamin Netanyahu knows enough about fanatical Christian belief
about the rapture to know the role Israel plays in that belief but he also
knows, unlike Mike Pompeo, that the rapture is never going to happen. So,
he`ll take his current political support wherever he can get it and that`s
why he`s not going to criticize Donald Trump for his anti-Semitic outburst
After this break, we will be joined by two former Undersecretaries of
State, Ambassador Wendy Sherman and Richard Stengel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let me say this to the
President. I am a proud Jewish person and I have no concerns about voting
Democratic and in fact, I intend to vote for a Jewish man to become the
next President of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now, Ambassador Wendy Sherman. She`s a
former Undersecretary of State for political affairs and a MSNBC global
affairs contributor. Also with us, Richard Stengel, also a former
Undersecretary of State in the Obama Administration. He`s an MSNBC
political analyst and ambassador.
Sherman, I want to start with you. This is one of those days where you
couldn`t see this coming because the amount of stupidity and just vile
sentiment in what the President said today is something that you just can`t
sit around and imagine, stupidity is extremely difficult to anticipate.
WENDY SHERMAN, FORMER UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS AND
MSNBC GLOBAL AFFAIRS CONTRIBUTOR AND AMBASSADOR: It`s quite extraordinary,
loyalty is absolutely an anti-Semitic trope, as you pointed out in your
introduction, and this from a President who after Charlottesville which
happened not so long ago said that the neo-Nazis who were chanting `The
Jews will not replace us` were very fine people and that both sides had a
point of view.
So, this is not a President who stands on the side of the Jewish people and
in fact, Lawrence this takes me back not only as a Jew to wonder whose
loyalty he`s talking about and to whom that loyalty to be given, my loyalty
is obviously to myself, but most importantly to the United States of
America and it takes me back to when John F. Kennedy had to prove that he
would answer to the American people, not to the Pope.
So, we have to be about who we are. We all have an identity and that
identity first and foremost is American. So, I say - I might say I`m a
Jewish-American; someone might say they`re an Irish-American; someone might
say they are Catholic American or an evangelical American, but the common
denominator in all of that is American. This is anti-Semitism, pure and
O`DONNELL: Rick Stengel, your reaction to what the President said today.
RICHARD STENGEL, FORMER UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST
AND AMBASSADOR: Well, it`s pretty darn loathsome and hard to believe, and
it represents Trump`s attempt to purge Jewish voters from the Democratic
Party. I mean Jewish voters have been a part of the Democratic Party since
the New Deal; they`ve been loyal Democratic voters. In fact, Donald Trump
got 24% of the Jewish vote in his presidential race in 2016; that`s less
than Mitt Romney got, which was 30, which is even less than what Ronald
But, this idea which started with Reagan was this idea that - that
Republicans could show a fidelity, an inflexible unconditional fidelity to
Israel, a kind of Americans Zionism and that would get Jewish supporters
and maybe more importantly even Jewish donors. The problem with that though
is that Jewish voters often vote and traditionally have voted against their
pocketbook and younger Jewish voters, millennial Jewish voters don`t have
that unconditional loyalty to Israel that older Jewish voters do. That`s
who Donald Trump is trying to get.
O`DONNELL: Wendy and Rick, we`re going to - I want to go anecdotal for a
moment on this because I know there`s a lot of viewers, a lot of people out
there who think, “Oh, Donald Trump can`t be anti-Semitic. He can`t have any
anti-Semitic feelings. He has a Jewish son-in-law and his daughter then
converted to Judaism as part of that marriage.”
And I think that there are people out there who might not realize that that
is not the kind of thing that necessarily completely instantaneously erases
anti-Semitism within a non-Jewish clan. Wendy, go ahead.
SHERMAN: Indeed. I would hope that Ivanka and Jared Trump would speak up,
if not publicly which I wish they would do, to their father. We heard David
Harris, Head of the American Jewish Committee, which is a very mainstream
group say that this was very dangerous language. The Anti-Defamation League
saying this is very dangerous language. Actually the only group in support
of the President is the Republican Jewish Coalition, which simply wants to
get him re-elected and as Rick pointed out, this is about election politics
and as you pointed out, this is ultimately about the rapture and about the
dream of evangelical voters and the President wanting to hold on to that
voter base because his voter base is diminishing by the moment.
This is a President who, as you know, today went off the rails about
Greenland, went off the rails about Afghanistan, went off the rails about
Russia. He has gone off the rails about what it is to be an American.
O`DONNELL: Rick, just on this point for viewers who might think that, well,
if your daughter marries a Jew and she converts to Judaism that proves that
you can`t be anti-Semitic at all. If you`re comfortable commenting on that
from your own anecdotal experience in the world, I think a lot of Jewish
families are aware of intermarriage dynamics that don`t exactly eliminate
anti-Semitism in the non-Jewish family involved.
STENGEL: No, and I mean that it just because his daughter has converted
Judaism doesn`t mean that he has converted ideologically to this idea of
support for Jews. I mean he`s a kid from Queens. His father anecdotally not
only didn`t like renting to African-Americans; he didn`t like renting to
Jews. He went to a military academy. It was a kind of alien experience to
him. Even though he was a real estate developer in New York City where
obviously he was around a lot of Jewish folks, he never really integrated
in a way that made people feel comfortable.
And I think somehow he uses his own daughter and son-in-law as a kind of
trope to attempt to prove that he is not anti-Semitic is and is not anti-
Jewish and in fact, it has nothing to do with that. You can be anti-Semitic
and have Jewish members of your family; there`s much, much evidence of
O`DONNELL: Wendy Sherman, Rick Stengel, thank you very much for joining us
on this latest very strange Trump outburst, really appreciate it.
SHERMAN: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, there is new reporting tonight about
President Trump possibly lying about as well, something he does all the
time. This time, he might have done it under oath and there could be
federal penalties for that. Tim O` Brien will join us.
O`DONNELL: Tonight, the Huffington Post is reporting Donald Trump has filed
financial disclosure statements that appear to misstate the value and
profitability of his Scotland golf courses by $165 million, possibly
violating federal laws that are punishable by jail time. Trump claimed in
his 2018 U.S. filing that his Turnberry and Aberdeen Resorts were each
worth more than $50 million. For that same time period, he filed balance
sheets with the United Kingdom showing that their combined debt exceeded
their assets by 47.9 million British pounds. That`s the equivalent of $64.8
His 2018 public financial disclosure filed with the U.S. Office of
Government Ethics also claims those two resorts earned him income of $23.8
million. His filings with the U.K. office in Edinburgh for that period
shows the resorts had actually lost 4.6 million pounds; that`s the
equivalent of $6.3 million which is a problem since `knowingly` providing
false or incomplete information on those forms is a violation of the Ethics
in Government Act punishable by up to a year in jail and signing the form
attesting to the untrue information is punishable by up to five years in
After this final break, our next guest has been following Donald Trump`s
lies about his wealth for years. He was sued by Donald Trump for his book
about that. He won the lawsuit against Donald Trump. Tim O`Brien joins us
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. WILLIAM LACY CLAY, JR. (D-MO), OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: To your knowledge,
did the President or his company ever inflate assets or revenues?
MICHAEL COHEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE TRUMP ORGANIZATION, AND PERSONAL
COUNSEL TO TRUMP: Yes.
CLAY: And was that done with the presence, knowledge or direction?
COHEN: Everything was done with the knowledge and at the direction of Mr.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Turning our discussion now, Tim O`Brien, the Executive Editor of
Bloomberg Opinion and MSNBC contributor. He is the only reporter who has
ever seen a Trump tax return. And Tim, I know that the settlement of that
lawsuit against you that you - that Donald Trump lost doesn`t allow you to
talk about what you saw on that tax return, but you know as much as there
is to know about the Trump finances. What do you make of these conflicting
reports? He files very high value report on the American government
financial disclosure forms; British government forms, he says these golf
courses in Britain are big losers.
TIM O`BRIEN, EXECUTIVE EDITOR OF BLOOMBERG OPINION AND MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:
Are you surprised by this, Lawrence?
O`DONNELL: No, no, no, I`m not. I just need to set you up to go, that`s
O`BRIEN: You are the man.
O`BRIEN: Well, I think the reason he is inflating it in the U.S. is the
reason he has always inflated it in the U.S. He wants to appear wealthier
than he is because he is very insecure about the fact that he has never
been exactly the billionaire he has claimed to be and being among the top
billionaires in the United States is very important to his ego, even if it
doesn`t comport with the reality of his business operations.
By the way, this isn`t the first time he has done this on these disclosures
related to his Scottish golf courses. He did it in 2017; I wrote about that
last year. He did it in 2016. Bloomberg News wrote about it then. And there
has always been this disparity for the last three-and-a-half years with
what he is reporting to Scottish authorities.
O`DONNELL: But, Tim, lying to you when you`re writing about him in 2005,
lying to Forbes to get on their–
O`DONNELL: –rich guy list. There is no legal penalty in that. Doesn`t - is
there anyone around Trump when he - if he wants to lie on one of these
government forms to say to him, here`s why it`s different from lying to
O`BRIEN: No, there isn`t, Lawrence. He is only surrounded by enablers. And
in fact, he was questioned about the fact that this could get him in
trouble with the Office of Government Ethics in the United States back in
2016 and his answer for why the numbers were wrong in the U.S. was he
actually didn`t mean them to be actual income figures. He described them as
projected future income.
So, they also don`t - he doesn`t have much of a problem with coming up
either cover stories or fabrications to mask what he`s doing. The problem
in Scotland is, the reason the number is low there is he is trying to
minimize his tax liability and there is a question how honest he has been
with the Scottish tax authorities, which also potentially could get him in
trouble. But he hasn`t stopped doing this now for three years.
O`DONNELL: So, Tim, we are dealing with a distinct likelihood that he is
lying to both governments?
O`BRIEN: Unfortunately, the President of the United States is lying on both
sides of the ocean possibly, yes.
O`DONNELL: Tim O`Brien gets tonight`s last word. Thanks for joining us,
Tim. Really appreciate it.
O`BRIEN: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: “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