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