Interview with Steve Bullock. TRANSCRIPT: 8/21/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.

Guests:
Lauren Underwood, Lloyd Doggett, Lance Dodes, Sam Stein, Dahlia Lithwick, Steve Bullock
Transcript:

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

 

And from Senator Kamala Harris, her tweet: Few leaders have done more to

shine a light on the climate crisis than Jay Inslee, his voice will be miss

in this primary, but I know he will continue this fight. 

 

I also have Elizabeth Warren`s here somewhere, but yes, the reactions are

very gracious as you would expect them to be.  Jay Inslee didn`t make any

enemies in this campaign. 

 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Yes, that`s a very good point.  And, actually,

you know, you can – I think there`s a snarky way to read into all the

“thank yous”, like, oh, thank you, somebody`s getting out, this is such a

big field.  Any time somebody leaves, thank you. 

 

But I don`t think there`s snark, I don`t think he made an enemy.  I think

he ran his campaign in a way that did him credit, did his issue credit,

actually did advance the issue that he most cared about, I think it

increased his national profile, I think it increased his credibility on a

signature issue at home. 

 

And the sort of classy way in which he`s getting out, as I said to Joy, I

think is only going to help him.  I think it sets a standard for how other

candidates should get out. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And, Rachel, you may have accelerated that process tonight. 

 

MADDOW:  What do you mean? 

 

O`DONNELL:  Because I heard you say –

 

MADDOW:  Oh. 

 

O`DONNELL:  – on TV, if you`re going to drop out, come here and we will do

the extended exit interview.  And I got to say, that is the biggest

incentive I have ever heard for dropping out of a presidential campaign. 

 

MADDOW:  I mean, I`m not advocating that anybody drop out of the race. 

 

O`DONNELL:  I know, I know what you meant. 

 

MADDOW:  Or that they all do.

 

But if they`re going to, I think it`s worth doing it in the most

constructive way possible.  And so far I think the Democratic primary has

been pretty constructive.  Yes, they fought each other, but they`ve mostly

built up the Democratic Party and Democratic Party ideas.  If they get out

in ways that are constructive and forward-looking and that earn the respect

and happiness of their competitors, I think that`s good for all of them. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Rachel, someone was just telling me how much time I have left

in our little conversation here. 

 

MADDOW:  Oh. 

 

O`DONNELL:  So that was kind of – but you know how that works, so I didn`t

hear the last word you said. 

 

MADDOW:  It was a small word. 

 

O`DONNELL:  But yes, the graceful exit is one of the most interesting and I

think poignant things to watch in politics. 

 

MADDOW:  Indeed.  Thank you, my friend. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Thank you, Rachel. 

 

Well, Donald Trump is behaving like a man who sees his presidency slipping

away.  His re-election polls are consistently bad for him.  And now, what

he thought was his strongest claim to re-election, the performance of the

economy, is no long area sure thing in the president`s mind and – or in

reality. 

 

And so, he is blasting out enraged tweets at the chairman of the Federal

Reserve, who he appointed.  He is admitting that the government might have

to bail out one of the most successful companies in the history of American

capitalism, Apple, because the Trump tariffs are hurting Apple so badly and

the president knows that. 

 

The global economy is beginning to stagger under the weight of the Trump

tariffs, which could begin costing American voters $1,000 a year.  More

American voters are realizing every day they are paying the Trump tariffs

and China does not pay one penny of the Trump tariffs. 

 

The Trump White House is having panicked meetings about what to do about

the economy, cutting payroll taxes, an idea the president has reportedly

embraced and then rejected, and then embraced and then rejected.  Some of

those embraces and rejections have occurred in the same day. 

 

But tax cuts can only be done by the Congress, and the House of

Representatives will not cut payroll taxes without dramatically increasing

taxes on the richest Americans.  In other words, restoring the Obama tax

rates on the rich to replace the Trump tax cut for the rich. 

 

All of this is maddening to Donald Trump.  And so, he is behaving this week

as a mad king.  And that is not my phrase, that`s the kind of comment about

the president we are hearing and seeing everywhere now. 

 

And so, it is one of those nights when we`re going to have to take another

professional look at the mental health of the president of the United

States.  Former Harvard Medical School professor of psychiatry, Lance

Dodes, joined us on this program one month into the Trump presidency, in

2017, to warn us about the president`s mental health because he felt what

psychiatrists call a duty to warn.  He told us then that the president`s

mental condition only going to get worse. 

 

Dr. Dodes is back with us tonight.  We will hear from him later in this

hour. 

 

And later in this hour, we will hear from the Democratic presidential

candidate, Steve Bullock, the governor of Montana, who has figured out how

to win in a state where Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton by 20 points. 

 

And we begin tonight with the most important part of Donald Trump`s life

that surely drives him mad every day.  He is only the fourth president in

history to face the serious possibility of an impeachment proceeding in the

House of Representatives.  And this week, something has changed in the

House of Representatives` approach to impeachment. 

 

Yesterday, Congresswoman Lauren Underwood announced that she now supports

an impeachment investigation of the president.  Congresswoman Underwood is

a freshman Democrat from Illinois who flipped a Republican district to win

her seat.  And when she made her impeachment announcement yesterday, she

based her support for impeachment investigation entirely on volume one of

the Mueller report.  She is the only member of Congress to do that. 

 

Almost everyone else supporting impeachment in the House has relied

entirely on volume two of the Mueller report.  The part that vividly –

that vividly shows Donald Trump`s attempts to obstruct justice, including

his attempts to fire Robert Mueller.  Most of the testimony that the House

Judiciary Committee is now seeking is about volume two of the Mueller

report. 

 

Congresswoman Underwood concentrated entirely on volume one, made no

reference to obstruction of justice, no reference to volume two of the

Mueller report.  Volume one of the Mueller report details the Russian

attack on our election, and that is what Congresswoman Underwood`s

announcement focused on. 

 

She said, quote: The Mueller report lays out substantial evidence 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`ve long stated that I support the impeachment-related

investigation by Chairman Nadler.  Congress needs this information to

inform a decision to move for 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 happening again. 

 

And last night at this hour, we noted Congresswoman Underwood`s reliance on

volume one of the Mueller report. 

 

But we did not realize that it was a turning point in the Democrats`

approach to impeachment that became much clearer today when Rhode Island

Democrat Jim Langevin issued a statement supporting an impeachment inquiry

saying: Special counsel Robert Mueller`s report describes Russia`s

interference operations in the 2016 election in minute detail, the Mueller

report outlines how the Trump campaign welcomed the assistance of the

Russian government during the campaign and how President Trump took steps

to undermine the subsequent investigation.  Director Mueller paints a grim

picture of a president who has little concern for the legality of his

actions or their implications on American democracy, his actions demand

further investigation, particularly with respect to any attempts to

obstruct the Russia probe. 

 

Every August, I return to Rhode Island to hear from my constituents around

the second district.  Many have come with their concerns about the

president`s conduct and whether he has committed impeachable offenses.  The

vast majority of feedback I have received from my constituents has been in

support of an impeachment inquiry. 

 

And also this week, New Mexico Congressman Ben Ray Lujan, who is part of

Speaker Pelosi`s leadership team, issued this statement supporting an

impeachment inquiry saying: The Trump presidency is creating grave national

security concerns.  Our country`s intelligence agencies have confirmed that

the Russian government attacked America during the 2016 elections, numerous

experts have warned that these attacks are ongoing to this day, and when

faced with this evidence from his own government, President Trump has

failed to act.  Not only has he ignored the warnings that our democracy is

being targeted, but he has also actively encouraged Russian interference. 

 

The report detailed sustained and frequent attempts by the Trump campaign

to establish ties to the Russian government and then eagerness to benefit

from hacked information stolen from our fellow Americans.  President

Trump`s lack of action is jeopardizing our elections, national security,

and democracy. 

 

Joining our discussion is Democratic Congresswoman Lauren Underwood from

Illinois who just yesterday announced her support for the impeachment

inquiry.  She`s a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security. 

 

Congresswoman Underwood, thank you very much for joining us tonight.  I

really appreciate it. 

 

REP. LAUREN UNDERWOOD (D-IL):  Hi, Lawrence.

 

O`DONNELL:  I want to get to your unique reliance on volume one of the

Mueller report.  You don`t make any reference in your statement to any

other part of the report.  Others who we`ve just seen also come out echoing

your view of this have at least inserted something about obstruction of

justice in their comments, even though they too are concentrating on volume

one. 

 

But do you sense a change of focus in Democrats in the House, including

yourself, in now focusing on volume one in the impeachment inquiry? 

 

UNDERWOOD:  Well, what I can tell you is that my work in response to Mr.

Mueller`s report has been focused on volume one.  I`ve been working with a

bipartisan group of freshmen to make sure that these types of interferences

can never happen again in our democracy.  And so, either my work on

Homeland Security or with this bipartisan group task force, we are

addressing volume one. 

 

But to get to your other point, I think it`s really important for folks to

realize that the voters in Illinois knew before Mr. Mueller`s report came

out that we had been attacked in our state.  Our election systems had been

attacked.  And so, prior to the 2018 election, folks were concerned about

the validity of the election and the potential for this to happen again. 

 

And so, when his report came out calling out Illinois as the only state in

the report that had been compromised, this was something that representing

the got people of Illinois 14th district, I had to spend time

investigating. 

 

Now, I can`t speak for the whole caucus and I would never want to, but what

I can say is this: we need to get access to that unredacted report.  We

need to get access to the underlying evidence to ensure that this type of

foreign attack on our democracy can never happen again. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And you`ve mentioned something that is not in the Mueller

report in your statements.  Your statement refers to, although it doesn`t

specifically cite it, Donald Trump`s interview with George Stephanopoulos

on ABC where Donald Trump basically said that he would accept information

and help from Russia, that George Stephanopoulos said to him, you want that

kind of interference in our elections?  Donald Trump said, it`s not

interference, they have information, I think I`d take it. 

 

That seems to be what you`re referring to when you said that Donald Trump

welcomes this again. 

 

UNDERWOOD:  That`s right.  And, you know, any candidate knows that if

someone approaches you with information and it`s from a questionable

source, you take it directly to the FBI.  And so, for the president to make

that kind of statement in an interview, I have to take him at his word, and

that was incredibly alarming to me. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Let`s watch the president when he was asked about warning

Russia to not interfere in our election again.  Let`s just watch this video

and his attitude toward this issue. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REPORTER:  Mr. President, will you tell Russia not to meddle in the 2020

election?

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Yes, of course, I will.

 

Don`t meddle in the election.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  I know, Congresswoman, hard to hear in your earpiece there, but

our subtitle showed, he`s sitting there with Vladimir Putin, and he makes a

joke of it, and he says, well, you know, of course, I will, then he says,

you know, don`t meddle in the election.  That`s a video that we`ve all

seen. 

 

What was your reaction when you saw that? 

 

UNDERWOOD:  Sure.  Again, very alarming.  You know, when I talk to people

in my community, we`ve had – we`re in the middle of a week`s worth of town

halls here in the 14th district.  They come to me expressing concern that

this could happen again.  They`re uncertain about what`s really going on in

these impeachment processes. 

 

And folks in my community didn`t quite realize that the investigations that

were ongoing were to inform the House decision on whether to file articles

of impeachment.  So I felt the need yesterday to make this announcement at

the town hall meeting in response to a question from a constituent. 

 

People throughout the communities, all across our country, are watching

what`s happening.  It`s painful.  It`s deeply disappointing, deeply

disturbing.  And so, we want the facts.  And that`s what these

investigations are hoping to achieve. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And, Congresswoman, I just want to put out, your town hall

meetings include Republicans because that district was represented by a

Republican before you won the district? 

 

UNDERWOOD:  Listen, our town hall meetings include residents across

political persuasions, all ages, all races, all backgrounds.  We have

candid, open dialogue about the issues that are most important to them. 

 

But I got to tell you, the number one issue that`s been raised in my town

halls this week, Medicare, the price of prescription drugs, what`s going on

with Social Security.  Tonight, we had a whole session about veterans and

serving our veterans. 

 

These are the issues that are top of mind for so many folks.  But during

these conversations, I often do get asked about impeachment.  And so,

really happy to be able to clarify my standing for the people that I serve

here in Illinois. 

 

O`DONNELL:  This will serve as tonight`s episode of “Meet the Freshman”,

freshman Congresswoman Lauren Underwood, thank you very much for joining us

tonight.  We really appreciate it. 

 

UNDERWOOD:  Thank you so much for having me. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Appreciate it.  Thank you. 

 

And we are now joined by a senior member of the House Ways and Means

Committee, Democratic Congressman Lloyd Doggett of Texas. 

 

Congressman Doggett, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

 

I want to get straight to a new development in the pursuit of Donald

Trump`s tax returns by the Ways and Means Committee.  It was a filing in

court yesterday in which your side of the case, the House, brought to the

judge`s attention asking for an expedited ruling in this, that there is a

whistle-blower who appears to be, in my reading of it, a whistle-blower

from the IRS.  This is included in a letter that was filed with the judge

yesterday. 

 

I`m just going to read this one passage of it.  It says – 

 

REP. LLOYD DOGGETT (D-TX):  Yes.

 

O`DONNELL:  – on July 29th, 2019, the committee received an unsolicited

communication from a federal employee setting forth credible allegations of

evidence of possible misconduct, specifically potential inappropriate

efforts to influence the mandatory audit program. 

 

The way I would translate that to any viewer is, this would be an IRS

whistle-blower who`s letting the Ways and Means Committee know the

mandatory audit program for the president and the vice president is not

working in the Trump administration.  There`s something wrong with it. 

 

Is that your understanding of the situation? 

 

DOGGETT:  Well, I haven`t had communications which the committee has

carefully protected to preserve the position of this whistle-blower, with

the whistle-blower or seeing the information that the whistle-blower

provided.  But that certainly appears to be the case, both in a footnote in

the summary judgment motion memorandum and in the letter. 

 

And, Lawrence, you know, you`ve covered this story with such insight for

months.  This has been going on for months.  And now, we just have more

dither and delay and denial from Mr. Trump`s attorneys, both the taxpayer-

financed ones at the Justice Department and his personal attorneys, trying

to delay this indefinitely. 

 

And what appears to be a very significant development, the committee

focused in on the audit process and now apparent additional evidence that

that audit process, which is just a matter of IRS procedure, not a statute,

that that audit process could be jeopardized by interference from the Trump

administration. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Yes, it has become traditional in the IRS for the president and

the vice president, for their tax returns to be automatically audited by

the IRS.  This has been going on for decade decades, for as long as you and

I have known about these processes. 

 

DOGGETT:  That`s right. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And the information that the committee is sharing with the

judge is that there`s a whistle-blower saying, there`s something wrong with

that process now.  And this is one of the many reasons why the Ways and

Means Committee has told the court, you want the tax returns. 

 

DOGGETT:  That`s absolutely right.  And the committee focused in – there

are many legitimate reasons for the committee seeking these returns. 

Indeed, the statute as we`ve talked before “shall” still means shall. 

There`s not even requirement of a purpose. 

 

But the committee was very careful to focus in on the audit, the audit that

the president has condemned as being unfair to him in the past.  And to

recognize that there may be a need for a statute to spell out the

requirements. 

 

And having been very careful in doing that and taking a long time to focus

on this narrow purpose, now, the Trump lawyers are coming back and trying

to use the fact that there was some delay here as a reason to not have the

court move promptly to provide these documents. 

 

My concern as you know has been that under the procedure, indeed under what

the committee has outlined, we will never see these returns this year

because Mr. Trump will exhaust every possible appeal.  And I hope that they

can be obtained before the end of this congress. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Congressman, before you go, I want to talk about the situation

on impeachment now in the House. 

 

DOGGETT:  Yes.

 

O`DONNELL:  And there`s a very interesting turn this week where three new

members – three members have come out this week so far, and it`s only

Wednesday – 

 

DOGGETT:  Yes.

 

O`DONNELL:  – supporting the impeachment proceedings, and all relying, in

one case entirely in the others mostly, on volume one of the Mueller

report.  And that seems like a change in focus in the House of

Representatives. 

 

DOGGETT:  Well, I`m encouraged that we now have a true majority of our

caucus, plus a courageous Justin Amash, out there saying we need an

impeachment inquiry.  I think from everything Chairman Nadler has said,

that inquiry is currently under way. 

 

It does need to explore Article 1.  Just because Bob Mueller didn`t find

that there was a basis for a criminal conspiracy there doesn`t mean that

the Trump administration didn`t act in an unpatriotic way and a way that

may constitute high crimes and misdemeanors in welcoming and practically

begging for all the Russian interference that he could get in order to

secure the White House. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Congressman Lloyd Doggett, thank you for joining us tonight.

 

DOGGETT:  Thank you.

 

O`DONNELL:  Always appreciate it.  Thank you. 

 

DOGGETT:  Thank you.

 

O`DONNELL:  When we come back, any honest conversation about the

president`s performance this week should include a psychiatrist.  That`s

next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL:  The president is a raving lunatic.  He is not well. 

 

Those are not my words.  Those are the words of Andrew Gillum, the former

Democratic mayor of Tallahassee, who came in second for last year`s race

for governor in Florida.  He was echoing what has become mainstream

thinking now about the mental health of the president of the United States

during a week in which the president has said, he is the king of the Jews,

the second coming of God, the chosen one. 

 

It`s the same week in which, even though he sees himself as a king, a god,

a chosen one, Denmark somehow found the strength to defy him and refuse to

sell Greenland to the United States.  And so, the president, the king, the

god, says he cancelled a trip to Denmark even though he probably canceled

the trip to Denmark because he knows President Obama is scheduled to go to

Denmark a few weeks after what would have been the Trump trip and President

Obama would surely get a much more positive reception from a much, much

bigger crowd than Donald Trump could have mustered in Denmark. 

 

All of that sounds pretty crazy to sober, careful politicians like Andrew

Gillum, who have never before called a political opponent a raving lunatic. 

Well, we told you so. 

 

One month into the Trump presidency, we had our first discussion of the

president`s mental health on this program with psychologist John Gartner

and former professor of psychiatry at Harvard medical school, Lance Dodes. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

JOHN GARTNER, PSYCHOLOGIST:  If we could construct a psychiatric

Frankenstein monster, we could not create a leader more dangerously

mentally ill than Donald Trump.  He`s a paranoid, psychopathic narcissist

who`s divorced from reality and lashes out impulsively at his imagined

enemies. 

 

LANCE DODES, HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL:  He lies because of his sociopathic

tendencies that Dr. Gartner was talking about, that he lies in the way

anybody who scams people does.  He`s trying to sell an idea or a product by

telling you something that`s untrue.  There`s that lying.  There`s also the

kind of lying he has that is in a way more serious, that he has a loose

grip on reality. 

 

GARTNER:  If he was a paranoid schizophrenic and he was wearing a tinfoil

hat, then he wouldn`t be elected president.  But he`s just sane enough, as

it were, to pass.  But actually detach from reality so that what is real is

fluid.  It`s totally malleable according to his personality disorder. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Later that year, Dr. Gartner and Dr. Dodes contributed articles

to the book “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and

Mental Health Experts Assess a President.”  A new edition of that book was

published this year with 10 more entries which then changed the subtitle to

“37 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President.” 

 

In that book, Dr. Dodes writes: Mr. Trump`s sociopathic characteristics are

undeniable.  They create a profound danger for America`s democracy and

safety, over time, these characteristics will only become worse. 

 

And joining our discussion now once again is Dr. Lance Dodes, a former

assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical Center, an analyst at

the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute. 

 

Dr. Dodes, thank you very much for joining us once again. 

 

DODES:  My pleasure. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And you told us in 2017 that it was going to get worse.  It

will, your words, will only become worse.  Is that what we`re seeing this

week? 

 

DODES:  Absolutely.  Donald Trump, because he has a fundamental need to be

all powerful and all loved, can`t stand challenges.  And the nature of

democracy is that it challenges people.  We have more than one opinion. 

 

So, the more – it was predictable once he got into a position where people

would challenge him, there are two parties, he would become more unhinged. 

In the interview today, for example, on the South Lawn of the White House,

he showed that. 

 

As you watched him respond to people, the more they challenged him, the

more he ranted.  He stopped responding to the questions and instead he

started to talk about how people were agents of fake news.  He said that

they would go out of business soon.  Basically, they would die.

 

That NBC and “The New York Times” would be dead within six years.  This is

the same kind of thing that he did when he was a candidate and when he

suggested someone protesting at his campaign rally be taken out and beaten

up.  He can`t stand anything that disagrees with him, and the more you

challenge him, the more unhinged he becomes, the more paranoid, and the

more violent, potentially. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Today, he`s saying that the reason he`s canceling his trip to

Denmark is the prime minister used the word “absurd” to describe Donald

Trump`s idea.  And he kept saying, repeatedly in that talk to reporters

you`re talking about today, repeatedly saying that was such a nasty word,

was such a bad word to use, the word “absurd.”

 

I want to hold that in our minds when we consider Donald Trump`s

relationship to Kim Jong-un, who he used to call rocket man.  That`s what

Donald Trump used to call him.  And at the same time that he was calling

him rocket man, Kim Jong-un was calling him the mentally deranged U.S.

dotard. 

 

And then eventually, after all of that, Doctor, Donald Trump then

eventually turned into the guy who loves Kim Jong-un. 

 

Let`s listen to that part of it. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  And then we fell in love. 

OK?  No, really.  He wrote me beautiful letters.  And they`re great

letters.  We fell in love. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  What are we seeing in all of that?  He cancels a trip because

of the word “absurd.”  The guy who calls him a mentally deranged U.S.

dotard is someone he then eventually falls in love with? 

 

DODES: Well, he doesn`t really love anyone except himself. That`s not a

slur, that`s a psychological fact. People like him are about him. And we

see this not only with the North Korean leader, but with all the people

that he surrounded himself for most of his life who are now recognized as

criminals.

 

As long as they stay loyal to him, he loves them. As soon as they challenge

him, as soon as they disagree, then they`re terrible people which he has

said about each of these folks. So of course it means nothing. He never

loved him, he only used him. If he`s not useful to him, he stops loving

him.

 

That`s part of the essential emptiness of Donald Trump. He doesn`t have

real relationships with people. Maybe his personal family, we don`t know

about that. But you can see that he discards anyone who doesn`t fit his

personal needs, which makes him unable to really relate to our allies as

well as our enemies.

 

O`DONNELL: And doctor, we need your analysis of a President who stands up

and compares himself to a king, refers to himself as king of the Jews,

refers to himself in a Godlike way, turns to the heavens today and calls

himself the chosen one. What is that?

 

DODES: Well, it`s obviously grandiosity. But I want to make clear that

there are a lot of grandiose people, there are a lot of people who are

narcissistic. Donald Trump goes way beyond that. There is a fundamental way

in which he`s empty. There`s something fundamentally different about him

from normal people.

 

It`s a psychotic-like state. The more you press him, the more you see how

disorganized and empty he is. The more he flies into a disorganized rage.

So yes, and by the way, in terms of being God, he also made several which

Michael Freudian slips during the interview today. He kept mixing up who he

was and who the country was.

 

He said “I have the best economy” I, not the country. “I defeated the

caliphate” it`s not just a slip of the tongue. He really doesn`t get it. He

thinks of himself as a dictator and it`s all him and no one else really

matters.

 

O`DONNELL: Dr. Lance Dodes, thank you for joining us once again and thank

you for starting this conversation here on this program back in what was

the second month, basically, of the Trump Presidency. When I know it wasn`t

comfortable for people in your profession to be entering this discussion,

but as you said at that time, you felt more driven by the duty to warn, and

that`s what you`ve been joined in tonight. We really appreciate that.

 

DODES: Sure.

 

O`DONNELL: Thank you, doctor. When we come back, we`re going to have more

on the political madness of King Donald when we turn to Sam Stein and

Dahlia Lithwick.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-IN) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our wages are stagnated

and the President of the United States wants you to think the biggest

problem in your life is political correctness. He wants us talking about

anything but the issues that are going to decide whether we prosper

economically in our time. He wants us arguing over whether to buy Greenland

when too many Americans aren`t able to buy groceries. We can do better.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now, Dahlia Lithwick, Senior Editor and

Legal Correspondent for slate.com she is the host of the Podcast Amicus and

Sam Stein, Politics Editor “The Daily Beast,” he is also an MSNBC Political

Analyst.

 

And Dahlia there is much to talk about, and Pete Buttigieg makes a great

point about all the issues that should be being discussed this week. We

will get to them. But to have the country stopping in a very serious way

this week, mainstream thinkers about this subject saying, the mental health

of the President of the United States is a very grave concern. This is a

new place.

 

DAHLIA LITHWICK, SLATE.COM, SENIOR EDITOR AND LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: It`s

kind of a new place, Lawrence, although I think as you point out, people

have been saying this for two years.

 

O`DONNELL: Yes. But when we first said it here, it was a kind of aberrant

spot in the discussion. It was not really picked up. But here it is. It`s

now just one of those things. It`s kind of like in 2011 when I said, he`s a

liar, a pathological liar, about the birth certificate. You didn`t hear

that language. Now it`s just the normal way of talking about him. And it

seems like the mental health thing has moved much quicker along that same

kind of track of it is right in the center of the discussion.

 

LITHWICK: I think it`s absolutely salient. I think anyone who watched him

today had six, seven, eight opportunities to say, each one of them

astounding in the aggregate, beyond belief. But I think it`s important to

realize that the people who could do something about this have also moved,

right? They have normalized everything.

 

They are so perfectly transactional that as long as they get their judges

and their tax cuts and whatever the short-term gains, as long as he can be

of use to them, their notions about what is aberrational have completely

changed too. I suspect if you had said to Senate Republicans or Republicans

in the House who are just laughing off impeachment, no, what if the

President actually compared himself to God?

 

O`DONNELL: Right.

 

LITHWICK: And they`re fine.

 

O`DONNELL: Right. Sam Stein, I want to read a couple of tweets today of

people who I was impressed by. One is Dr. Eugene Gu, thoughtful observer of

our times. He said, we learn in med school that if someone comes to the

emergency room calling themselves the King of Israel and the second coming

of God, that patient is either high on drugs or is having a psychotic break

and needs to be promptly evaluated with a Tox screen and psychiatric

consult.

 

And he was replied to by Maureen Tracey who said, Dr. Gu, I worked as a

nurse for more than 40 years, there is no way Donald Trump would not have

been referred repeatedly to psych!, and if his docs had not been

accommodating they would have found themselves in hot water. This guy is

not mentally stable from all outside appearances, and there are no serious

defenses by Trump supporters against those statements.

 

SAM STEIN, THE DAILY BEAST POLITICS EDITOR: Well, I thought when you said

you were going to refer to tweets that impressed you from today that I

would be on the list, and I`m a little disappointed that I`m not.

 

O`DONNELL: You`re right you`re in the next one.

 

STEIN: I appreciate it. Secondarily, yes, I think to a large degree we`ve -

we are now talking about this obviously more in the open. But I do recall

when you were talking about it initially last year, Lawrence. And it was

incredibly taboo and rightfully so. It`s not an easy thing to talk about,

nor necessarily is it always a responsible thing to talk about when you`re

weighing in on the psychology and mental state of a politician.

 

But for better or worse, mainly for worse, Trump`s actions have prompted

this conversation. And what I`m struck by is I should say is how it`s now

happening within a political framework. You know, you have politicians

coming out saying, well, you know, maybe we should consider the 25th

amendment. But still there is this political hesitancy. And it`s not just

Republicans. It is Democrats too.

 

Right before we started this segment, Representative Hakeem Jeffrey, a

member of the House Democratic Leadership, put out a very interesting tweet

in which he talked about the timidity of Trump`s own cabinet members to

broach the 25th amendment option.

 

But Hakeem Jeffrey is notably is one of the high ranking Democrats who has

not called for an impeachment inquiry. So while this whole saga is

happening in front of our eyes, while we`re witnessing these bizarre

statements from the President, there still remains a real tangible

political hesitation to do anything about it. Not just among Republicans

obviously, but among Democrats too.

 

O`DONNELL: I want to turn to the President`s attack on 80 percent of the

Jews in America. But to do that I want to squeeze in a commercial break

here so that we can have an uninterrupted discussion of it on the other

side of this commercial break. So we`ll be right back.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REPORTER: If Jews vote for Democrats, are they being disloyal to Israel?

 

TRUMP: Well, I say so, yes, yes.

 

REPORTER: It`s not Anti-Semitic?

 

TRUMP: It`s only in your head. It`s only Anti-Semitic in your head.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: Sam Stein, is it only Anti-Semitic in your head?

 

STEIN: I mean, of course not. It`s blatantly adopting a common Anti-Semitic

trope. It`s questioning the loyalty of Americans. It`s defining them by

their religion in a way that would be objectionable for anyone to say, let

alone the President of the United States.

 

At this juncture, sadly, I think we`ve come to expect Trump to say things

that are like this or just equally provocative and racially insensitive.

And I feel despondent thinking about it. I think back to the pit in my

stomach that I felt in the aftermath of the tree of life shooting, which

was not even a year ago, October of 2018.

 

And how horrifying it felt to think that Jews were being singled out in a

way like that in America and it just feels like we haven`t learned. We

haven`t moved off of that moment. And so, yes, it`s discouraging. It`s

depressing. And it`s openly and blatantly Anti-Semitic.

 

O`DONNELL: Dahlia?

 

LITHWICK: Yes, I think it works for him at so many levels, you know. Sam

says this is just an ancient trope, you know, the Jew who doesn`t have any

fundamental loyalty to the country they live in, their first loyalty is to

being Jewish. This goes back centuries. This is the stuff of the protocols

of the elders of Zion.

 

It also works to other, which is his favorite thing. You are other from us.

You have your own Prime Minister and he`s in Israel. And then I think it

also works at this really terrifying level. It`s a kind of a call-out to

evangelicals in his base to sort of say, I am fulfilling this messianic

role. I am the King Cyrus figure in your fantasy who`s going to bring about

end times.

 

And that partly tees up what we get this morning about being the King of

the Jews and the second coming. This is not just to talk to a tiny

percentage of Jews who have no interest in voting for him. This is telling

his base, I am fulfilling a prophecy and that`s why you`re going to stick

by me.

 

At that level I just think again not only is it serving to divide and to

other and to suggest that everybody go back to the country they came from,

including Jews. But I think it also just really stirs up ancient, ancient

feelings that you don`t really belong here.

 

O`DONNELL: Dahlia Lithwick and Sam Stein, thank you for joining us for

discussion on this especially painful subject.

 

STEIN: Thanks, Lawrence.

 

O`DONNELL: Thank you, I really appreciate it. When we come back, we`ll be

joined by Former Montana Governor Steve Bullock. He is the only Democrat

running for President who has won statewide in a state Donald Trump won

handily in 2016, and he`s actually still the Governor, I don`t know how the

word “former” got on the teleprompter.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: David Hogg is a survivor of the mass murder at his high school

in Parkland, Florida last year. He`ll be starting college soon. But first,

he and other founders of “March for Our Lives” introduced a new set of gun

safety proposals today that includes a ban on assault weapons.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are weapons of war that never should have been on

our streets in the first place. I can guarantee you that the framers of the

constitution never would have imagined a weapon like the AR-15 being in the

hands of an American citizen. They never would have imagined somebody going

into a school.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: A ban on the sale of assault weapons has become a standard

talking point for most Democratic Presidential Candidates, but the

Democratic Presidential Candidate who has the most experience talking to

Republican voters about gun safety is Montana`s Democratic Governor Steve

Bullock.

 

And joining us now is Steve Bullock, the Democratic Governor of Montana and

a 2020 Presidential candidate. Governor, thank you very much for joining us

tonight. We really appreciate it.

 

GOV. STEVE BULLOCK (D-MT) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thanks for having me

tonight, Lawrence.

 

O`DONNELL: What do you tell your Montana voters about why you would want to

block the sale of assault weapons?

 

BULLOCK: Well, I think that we are to the point. I think of even since

Parkland we`ve lowered the flags seven times. And we need to take action.

And we can take action. I think gun owners would like the same. But what

I`d also tell them, as they know, these aren`t used for hunting. They`re

not used for self-defense. And it`s time that we start taking immediate

steps.

 

O`DONNELL: How has your thinking evolved on this over time? I know you had

- your family was a victim of gun violence in a truly tragic way.

 

BULLOCK: Yes, 25 years ago this year actually. I had an 11-year-old nephew,

Jeremy, who shot and killed on a playground by a 10-year-old. At the time

it was the youngest schoolyard shooting in the country. Today I`m not even

sure if that would make national news.

 

So certainly it`s been impacted in that respect. It`s impacted the way I

think also as a gun owner. And we know that about 40 percent of households

in this country actually have firearms in them. And if we could ever look

at this as a public health issue, we`d know the steps that we ought to be

taking.

 

The vast majority of gun owners think that things like universal background

checks and red flag laws make sense. The challenge is when I was growing up

the NRA, it was gun safety and it was a hunting and shooting organization.

Now it`s nothing more than a dark money field political organization trying

to use this as a wedge.

 

O`DONNELL: And in your part of the country, though, does the NRA still have

that grip?

 

BULLOCK: Well, I think unfortunately you see even in the White House it

still has that grip. After Parkland the President and Vice President called

all the Governors in the country to the White House, it was during our

National Governors Association Meeting and he said initially things like

it`s time for universal background checks.

 

I mean, NRA members all recognize that we should have universal background

checks. But within a week back then he backtracked. We saw the same thing

again here. So I think it`s really time now for not just elected officials

but for gun owners to say things like universal background checks make a

whole lot of sense because I`ve never met a gun owner that wanted to have

to worry about their kids at school or worried about having guns getting in

the wrong hands.

 

O`DONNELL: Governor, as I think you know by now, the big campaign news of

the night is in the previous hour on this network Jay Inslee dropped out of

the race on Rachel Maddow`s Show, formally announced it there.

 

And there are people, as you know, who`ve been hoping that you would switch

to a candidacy for the United States Senate in Montana where you are

clearly the most popular politician in the state. I just want to put up a

screen that shows you at a 60 percent favorable in Montana.

 

Senator Steve Daines at 58 Jon Tester at 53 Donald Trump at 53. The

statewide elected Congressman is at a 50. And most observers believe that

if you stepped into the Senate race there would then be two Democratic

Senators from Montana. What`s your reaction to that?

 

BULLOCK: Yes, I guess two things, Lawrence. First when it comes to Governor

Inslee. He`s been such an important voice in this race, both for climate

and also for being outside of Washington, D.C. as a Governor who actually

has get things done.

 

I think as we`re losing Governors from this race maybe we ought to think

about also are these DNC rules for the debates disadvantaging folks that

actually have to get things done to make these debate stages? And as far as

look, I am sure that we are going to have good folks to run against Steve

Daines.

 

I`ll do everything that I can to make sure that he or she is successful.

But I think we also have to ask why is it that we lost places last election

like North Dakota or Indiana? Or why is it that 22 states now are actually

controlled both at the Governors and State House level by Republicans?

 

If we actually want to win those red states maybe we should have someone at

the top of the ticket that has won the red and purple states.

 

O`DONNELL: What would you say to those voters about the Trump tariffs?

 

BULLOCK: Well, and I hear from them both here in Iowa and back in Montana.

I mean, when a farmer says every time Trump tweets we lose hundreds of

thousands of dollars, or when Trump says in Montana we produce incredible

amounts of wheat. Then he said Japan doesn`t even want to buy that wheat.

We grow the finest wheat in the country.

 

What we`ve seen time and time again is that not only is he hitting the

farmers and ranchers, payments won`t - payments from the federal government

won`t make up for market share that`s lost but this sort of America first

becoming America alone is starting to hit all Americans and American

consumers.

 

O`DONNELL: Governor, if you can still hear me, I hope the earpiece is okay-

-

 

BULLOCK: I`ve got it back, yes.

 

O`DONNELL: Okay. What about the Trump tax cut that has - for the rich that

has now produced this record deficit that in one year is going to be a

trillion dollars? National debt skyrocketing?

 

BULLOCK: That`s one that he said he`d be helping out and has workers backs.

And look, the person who cleans your studio tonight actually paid more in

taxes than 60 fortune 500 companies. If you look at it that a trillion

dollars of stock buybacks certainly didn`t go to most of the working folks

out there, when you have about 60 percent of this population haven`t had a

real pay increase in 40 years.

 

So all he did is saddled our kids and grand kids with further debt.

 

And he`s not watching out for those folks that actually voted for him

thinking that maybe the economy and the political system might finally work

for him.

 

O`DONNELL:  Presidential candidate Montana Governor, Steve Bullock, thank

you very much for joining us tonight.  We really appreciate it.

 

BULLOCK:  Thank you for having me, Lawrence.

 

O`DONNELL:  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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