Jon Ossoff (D) to run for Senate. TRANSCRIPT: 9/9/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: And it`s been a real frenzy of news in
London. And so, at the end of the hour, I`m going to go to London to a
member of parliament who is really eloquent on everything that`s been
happening there. Historic is the word we keep using every, I don`t know,
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Well done, my friend. Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
Well, I follow exactly one British member of parliament on Twitter, David
Lammy, who represents a district in London. He got a law degree from
Harvard Law School after already getting a British law degree. And his
American experience makes him one of the very best explainers of British
politics and Brexit to an American audience.
You can follow him @DavidLammy on Twitter. And you should follow every
word that he has to say tonight when he joins us on this historic night for
the United Kingdom with parliament now going out of session until October
14th after denying British Prime Minister Boris Johnson everything he
wanted from parliament, including the right to schedule a new parliamentary
election in the United Kingdom. David Lammy will join us with the latest
on the political and governmental chaos in London at this hour. He will
get THE LAST WORD in this hour.
And we will be joined tonight by someone who might be entering the race for
United States Senate in Georgia and might finally confirm that he is
running during our interview tonight. And we begin tonight with breaking
There is breaking news tonight from NBC News and “The New York Times” about
a spy inside the Russian government who worked for the CIA for years and
was extracted from Russia by the CIA in the first year of the Trump
CNN reported earlier that the CIA extracted the spy in part because of
fears that President Trump might leak information about the spy to
Russians, including possibly Vladimir Putin. But “The New York Times” is
reporting tonight that the CIA had other concerns about ways the spy`s
identity might be compromised, and the CIA was considering extracting the
spy from Russia to safety because reporters for NBC News and “The New York
Times” and “The Washington Post” began reporting about the CIA`s possible
sources inside the Kremlin in 2016.
“The New York Times” reports tonight the Moscow informant was instrumental
to the CIA`s most explosive conclusion about Russia`s interference campaign
that President Vladimir V. Putin ordered and orchestrated it himself. As
the American government`s best insight into the thinking and orders from
Mr. Putin, the source was also key to the CIA`s assessment that he
affirmatively favored Donald Trump`s election and personally ordered the
hacking of the Democratic National Committee.
The informant, according to people familiar with the matter, was outside of
Mr. Putin`s inner circle, but saw him regularly and had access to high
level Kremlin decision-making, easily making the source one of the agency`s
most valuable assets.
“The New York Times” report tonight includes this about former CIA director
John Brennan: The informant`s information was so delicate and the need to
protect the source`s identity so important that the CIA director at the
time, John O. Brennan, kept information from the operative out of President
Barack Obama`s daily brief in 2016. Instead, Mr. Brennan sent separate
intelligence reports, many based on the source`s information in special
sealed envelopes to the Oval Office.
Leading off our discussion now with more reporting about this story is
intelligence and national security correspondent for NBC News, Ken
Dilanian, who today tracked down a person who reports to be, quote, a
former senior Russian official living in the Washington area under U.S.
Ken, what more can you tell us about your reporting?
KEN DILANIAN, NBC NEWS INTELLIGENCE AND NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT:
Sure, Lawrence. Well, I can`t report to our satisfaction that this is in
fact the asset referred to by “The New York Times”, CNN and now “The
Washington Post.” But what I can say is this is a – this was a Russian
government official with access to Vladimir Putin, a high level official
who is now living in the United States under U.S. government protection,
living in the Washington, D.C. area, in fact.
And I went to his house today, and I knocked on his door. He didn`t appear
to be home. There was no answer. I went back to my car on the street, and
as I was sitting in my car, an SUV with two young men came screaming down
the street right at my car, parked nose to nose. It seemed to be in a
hurry. I was a little concerned. I stepped out of the car. I walked over
to them. I asked if I could help them, and then they asked if they could
help me, and we kind of went round and round.
They were asking who I was. I was asking who they were. It was pretty
clear that they were monitoring that house, that they saw me there somehow,
detected that I was there and came quickly.
And we`ve been asked by the U.S. government to withhold some key details
about this individual, including his name, and the reason we began looking
at him because they say his life is in danger. And they are now moving him
from that location, him and his family because essentially he has been
discovered. And while we aren`t naming him, it won`t be hard for others to
figure out who he is, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Ken, I think a lot and judging on twitter response to your
appearance with Rachel in the last hour, a lot of people are wondering if
his life was in danger, how could he be first of all located in proximity
to Washington, D.C like that?
O`DONNELL: Why would he be located there? And why – if his life was in
danger, would be in such a position that he would be using his real name,
and that you would be able to find him?
DILANIAN: Exactly. That`s the question I`ve been asking U.S. officials
and others with knowledge of this situation all day. And the answer I`m
getting is kind of nuanced, Lawrence. What they tell me is it`s probably
not a secret to the Russians that this man is there and that he was a spy
and that he was exfiltrated by the CIA. The Russians knew that when he
But what they`re saying is it`s one thing for him to be living here in
secret. They don`t expect that he`ll be the target of an assassination
attempt. That hasn`t happened on American soil that we know of, although
it did happen in the United Kingdom. What they worry about, though, is
when it becomes publicized that this person was spying for the CIA, that
this is a person close to Putin, that they say is like poking the bear. It
infuriates Vladimir Putin, and he is more likely to do things that threaten
this person`s life, and that`s the situation they feel they are in now.
So, while they may not have been as worried 48 hours ago, now that he has
been discovered, they`re more worried. So, while I was able to get to the
house, and then there was a response, now it seems that he is under greater
O`DONNELL: Ken, let`s go become to “The New York Times,” the basic
reporting on this – the asset, the Russian asset that the CIA had who has
been extracted who leaf aside for the moment whether that`s the same person
whose door you knocked on. In that information, they`re saying this was
the person who provided the essential keys of the Russia investigation pre-
DILANIAN: Absolutely. And they`re reporting that this is an asset that
the CIA had been cultivating for more than a decade as he moved up the
ranks in the Russian government. And that`s another reason that some
people believe that the person I talked to is the same person because there
aren`t – the CIA does not have very many high level sources inside the
Kremlin with access to Vladimir Putin. If they had more than one during a
period, I would actually be surprised.
And so, this person, while he wasn`t in Putin`s inner circle, “The Times”
reports, he saw Vladimir Putin on a regular basis and had access to his
decision making. And he was the source of the information that Putin
directly ordered this 2016 election interference campaign, directly ordered
the hack of the DNC and wanted to hurt Hillary Clinton and help Donald
Trump. We had reported and others reported during the election campaign
that that information came from human sources, and it was a CIA assessment.
And now, we`re learning that it came from in particular this high level
source who apparently has been exfiltrated from Russia.
O`DONNELL: Ken Dilanian, I know you`re going to be developing more on
this. I cold kind of tell the way this story was unfolding today that by
10:00 p.m. tonight, we would know a lot more than we knew when we were
thinking about it this afternoon.
Thank you very much for joining us, Ken. Really appreciate it.
DILANIAN: Thank you, Lawrence. You bet.
O`DONNELL: And we`re joined now by Mieke Eoyang. She`s a former staffer
with the House Intelligence Committee. Also joining us, John Heilemann,
national affairs analyst for NBC News, and MSNBC. He`s co-host and
executive producer of Showtime`s “The Circus.”
And, Mieke, this is one of the nights where we really need you and your
intelligence experience and expertise. This story is so strange, not just
for me, but I know for viewers out there that there could be this very,
very valuable CIA asset, so valuable that he had to be actually – she
perhaps, who knows, this person had to be extracted from Russia for their
own safety after delivering so much high-level, high-value information.
But then living under the person`s real name in the Washington area?
Should we be as stunned by this or is this not so surprising to you.
MIKE EOYANG, FORMER STAFF MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, this
has happened before during the Cold War.
O`DONNELL: What? This has happened before?
EOYANG: During the Cold War, right, when it was the Soviet Union, we did
have high level sources, and many of them have lived in the United States
and, you know, were exfiltrated from Russia. And some of them are actually
out there in their true name and have written books about their time in the
Soviet Union. So it`s not so unusual that this happens.
The question is why, because we know that Vladimir Putin gets very
sensitive about people who have betrayed him and his regime and who go back
out there into the world like Sergei Skripal who was killed in London. So
I think there is tremendous risk to this individual.
But one of the things that this story shows, that the CIA goes to great
lengths to protect its human sources, right? They were very concerned
about his safety. They exfiltrated him from Russia. They brought him to
the United States. They have him under protection here.
They need the world to know that they take the protection of their sources
O`DONNELL: But, Mieke, when we say it`s happened before, it happened
during the Soviet regime, but those books didn`t come out until the Soviet
regime was over. This is someone who`s in danger right now. And I don`t
think it – I don`t think it sounds very protected that this person is in
so much danger – of mortal danger that a reporter like Ken Dilanian can
simply walk up to the door and knock on the door. That doesn`t sound
EOYANG: I don`t want to underplay ken`s reporting skills on this, but I do
think that there is some question about how people feel at the CIA about
Russia`s willingness to engage in activities and attacks on American soil.
That has really been a red line in the U.S./Russia relationship in the sort
of spy versus spy world. Once people get here and once they`re under CIA
protection, people typically have not – have not found themselves in
danger the same way.
That`s not the same as people who are still on Russian soil. And even
American operatives on Russian soil have faced really dangerous
circumstances. They get hassled. They can get assaulted. They are pretty
aggressive in other places. It may just not be they`re as concerned about
it in the United States.
O`DONNELL: And, John Heilemann, one of the elements of the reporting in
“The New York Times” is this is the loss of major asset, I mean, this
Russian asset has been brought to safety in the United States, but “The
Times” reporting indicates that information flow hasn`t been replaced.
JOHN HEILEMANN, MSNBC NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Right. And I think it`s
incredibly – reading from people who know more about this than you and I
who follow this world, everyone is noting just how devastating this loss is
for America`s intelligence capacity in general, but particularly modern
Russia, at a time when we know the Russians were successful in attacking
our democracy in 2016, when they waged other attacks on our democracy in
2018, and we expect them to wage further attacks on our democracy in 2020.
And we are now as many – the metaphor that keeps coming through, a single
word metaphor which is blind. We are blind –
HEILEMANN: – at the highest level of the Russian government. We had the
magic asset, the kind of asset that comes along once in a generation for
the American government, now gone at a moment when the Russian government,
when Vladimir Putin are emboldened and have been invited to meddle in
American election 2020.
We are flying far more blind than we were in 2016. We couldn`t stop them
then. But this is a very bad position going into this next election.
O`DONNELL: But, Mieke, there is also a question in a lot of the reporting
about the ability to recruit an asset like that now because Russian
sources, people working within the Russian government who might in some
point in the past been inclined to help the United States would probably be
living in the fear that the information about what they`re doing would not
be safe necessarily in those private discussions that Donald Trump has with
Vladimir Putin with no one else in the room.
EOYANG: That is a very big concern. Look, these assets take a very long
time to develop. As you see according to the reporting, this is a person
they had been trying to recruit over a decade, trying to plant lots of
seeds and hope that some of them grow into the right places. I think
that`s a real challenge when you have a president who is as cavalier with
classified information as the president has been both in his tweets and to
other foreign adversaries.
It makes it very hard for the CIA to do their job in recruiting human
sources when those sources are worried that the president of the United
States will reveal their identities or reveal information that would allow
the adversary to figure out who they are. Hopefully, this is not the
situation that will go forward indefinitely, and we will eventually get
back to a place where we have presidents who are very careful about
classified information and in particular human sources.
O`DONNELL: Well, we have big news from the House Judiciary Committee
today. The committee announced it is formally now moving into impeachment
mode, and that on Thursday of this week, the committee will vote on the
procedures, quote, for future hearings related to its investigation to
determine whether to recommend articles of impeachment with respect to
President Donald Trump. The new procedures will allow House Judiciary
Chairman Jerry Nadler, quote, to designate full or subcommittee hearings as
part of the investigation to determine whether to recommend articles of
Committee counsel may question witnesses for an additional hour beyond the
five minutes allotted for each member of Congress on the committee.
Evidence may be received in closed executive session. This allows the
committee to protect the confidentiality of sensitive materials when
necessary such as with grand jury materials, and the president`s counsel
may respond in writing to evidence and testimony presented to the
Today, Chairman Nadler said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): The president is clearly trying to run out the
clock. The president has been – said he would deny all – oppose all
subpoenas. That was Article 3 of the Nixon impeachment that the president
opposed subpoenas. Nixon wasn`t foolish enough to say in advance he is
going to oppose all subpoenas. That in itself I think is a crime and
misdemeanor under the Constitution, that you`re obstructing the work of
Congress in investigating.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: John Heilemann, impeachment is on.
HEILEMANN: Well, certainly on in the mind of Jerry Nadler who wanted to
proceed in this way for a while.
I think the question now, Lawrence, is a couple of things. And we talked
about the clock on the show an awful lot over the months. You`ve got Jerry
Nadler and a bunch of others who would like to commence impeachment – the
impeachment process. You have Nancy Pelosi who still seems to not want to
go down that path.
The question, though, of whether this formal – this road map that`s been
laid out, whether this turns out to be largely a political exercise in
which the leverage of opening impeachment – the impeachment process is
used to try the get politically damaging witnesses, fact witnesses in front
of these various committees, people like Don McGahn who can do some
political damage to the president, or whether it is really a pathway
towards impeachment. And I think that question remains unresolved.
But I said the thing about the clock a second ago. Man, there are not very
many legislative days this Congress has scheduled in session this fall.
And if you believe that with a very limited legislative calendar going
forward and a presidential election a couple of months away that you`re
going to launch into a genuine real impeachment process, not a political
one, but real one to try to get the president impeached in the House if not
convicted in the Senate, man, I – it`s hard for me to see how that`s going
to happen. I`m not ruling it out, but it does not look that likely.
O`DONNELL: Mieke, with your experience on House committees, it looks like
there is a lot of procedural advantages for Jerry Nadler in the
recommendations that they`re going to vote on Thursday.
EOYANG: That`s right. And by tying it to an impeachment inquiry, you are
really amping up the powers of the House in this investigation, and it`s
not really important whether or not this is a formal impeachment inquiry or
an oversight investigation into potential crimes committed by the
I disagree with John a little bit. I don`t think this is just a political
exercise. Every day, we are treated to new stories of things that the
president has done that if done by other elected officials would be
considered public corruption, would be violation to the emoluments clause,
would be considered obstruction of justice. They have to build an
evidentiary foundation for that, and that`s going to mean going and looking
into things beyond just what was in the Mueller report, and they need the
subpoena power and the investigative power to be able to do that.
O`DONNELL: And meanwhile, John, committees like house armed services will
probably be looking into how frequently does the Air Force land near the
Trump golf course in Scotland and then have the crews stay at the Trump
hotel and what other Trump properties. So, there is this other arena of
kind of administration scandal.
O`DONNELL: That other committees can be investigating at the same time,
that will get headline just as big.
HEILEMANN: Indeed. I think – and you know, you think about – laid out
today on a bunch of fronts. It`s not merely an impeachment procedure road
map, but in a broader investigative road map of the ways in which what –
how costly if we look back, 2018, losing control of the House is going to
be to Donald Trump.
HEILEMANN: In a run-up to presidential election, where now the president
has three intraparty opponents running against him, where he`s got an array
of Democrats and now he has a House controlled by Democrats who can launch
an array of investigations across matters of corruption, malfeasance, the
emoluments clause, the armed forces investigation you just talked about.
This is not the way you want to run for reelection. It`s not the way you
like to cruise straight in with no obstructions before you meet up with
your ultimate general election opponent in the summer of 2020.
Donald Trump is going to be tied up in knots for months.
O`DONNELL: John Heilemann and Mieke Eoyang, thank you very much for
starting us off tonight. Really appreciate it.
And when we come back, Stacey Abrams insists that Georgia can win it all
for the Democrats next year with 16 electoral votes for president and two
Senate seats at stake in Georgia. Former Democratic congressional
candidate John Ossoff will join us, and we`ll find out if he is ready to
join the dramatic fight for Georgia as a candidate for one of those Senate
And the most colorful character in the British House of Commons announced
his resignation today. We will show you why regular viewers of TV coverage
of the House of Commons will be very sad to see the speaker go.
O`DONNELL: Ft. Lauderdale`s WSVN reporter Brian Entin captured the story
of people in the Bahamas being forced off a ferry to safety when the
captain made an announcement that the Trump administration was refusing to
allow hurricane victims in the Bahamas to enter the United States without a
visa, something that is customarily done for victims of natural disasters
and shipwrecks if a foreign ship goes down off of our coast and the
lifeboats make it to shore, they are not pushed back out into the Atlantic
ocean because the crew does not have visas.
Here is some of WSVN`s report last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re saying that they just got a call from CBP, and
CBP told them that everyone that doesn`t have a U.S. visa and who is
traveling on police record has to come off. At the last minute like this,
it`s kind of disappointing. It`s hurtful, because I`m watching my
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think this is terrible. I think they should allow
everyone to come into the U.S. They originally said you can come without a
police record and without a visa, and now they`re taking that back. That`s
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Today, President Trump thought it was perfectly reasonable to
deny hurricane victims a trip to safety. He then invented things about the
people trying to flee to safety, saying that some were, in his words very
bad people. He accused some of them of being gang members, and of course,
quote, very bad drug dealers, end quote. That`s his standard accusation
for people who are not white and seeking refuge in the United States.
The president seems to believe that his reelection depends on anti-refugee,
anti-immigrant policies and rhetoric. But a new book by the Democratic
pollster Stanley Greenberg argues that Americans in the Trump era are more
accepting of immigrants than they have ever been, and increasingly diverse
and pro-immigrant America could be the end of not just Trump`s presidency,
but the entire Republican Party.
Stan Greenberg writes: Stoking the anti-immigrant fires will end badly for
Trump`s GOP. The proportion believing immigrants strengthen the country
with their hard work and talents has surged to 65 percent, just as Trump
was charging that immigrants fueled gangs and included murderers and
rapists. The proportion who said immigrants, quote, burden the country by
taking jobs, housing and health care, end quote, plummeted to just 26
percent in mid-2017.
Three quarters in mid-2018 favored granting permanent legal status to
immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children. The country settled
these issues. They are not contested.
Joining our discussion now is Stanley Greenberg. He is the pollster to
presidents, presidential candidates and prime ministers across the globe.
And the most important reason to listen to Stan Greenberg is that he is
lucky enough to be married to Connecticut Democratic Congresswoman Rosa
DeLauro who has taught him everything he knows about politics.
He is author of the new book “R.IP. G.O.P.: How the New America is Dooming
the Republicans”. That book is out tomorrow.
Stan Greenberg, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
STAN GREENBERG, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: OK.
O`DONNELL: Now, you know, whenever we begin a segment with pollsters after
2016, I know the audience thinks, hey, the pollsters got it wrong in 2016.
Why should we listen now?
What have we learned from 2016? And where do you think we are now? What
is your book telling us about where we are now?
GREENBERG: I think all of us learned a lot about America, not just
polling. You know, I think many of us woke up the day after the women`s
march, I`m sure you did. I`m sure your whole coverage changed as you
covered day by day the intense politics that played out and is reported on
your show at night, the last show.
Now, we have – but now what I did, I got up every morning, wrote this book
because what I believed, believed at the time and believe now is that
Donald Trump`s victory will speed the – accelerate the defeat of the
Republican Party, because what`s happened is as women became more conscious
of their need for equality and independence after watching him in office,
that`s also happened across the board.
So we`ve watched it on immigration. But you can see it in every area. On
immigration, it`s probably the most important, and in some ways reassuring.
I mean, it`s so tragic to watch what`s happening in the Bahamas, watch
what`s happening with immigrants, but also knowing that people are becoming
very conscious of our history, our values, that we`re an immigrant country,
and that this fight against a diverse America is leading this country, a
great majority of this country to say enough, resist, we will sink this
Republican Party, which is battling against our diverse country.
O`DONNELL: You are confident about the 2020 presidential election. You
say the states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota will not
be close, nor will Maine, New Hampshire and Virginia. Iowa will be back in
the Democratic column.
What`s the basis for that, Stan?
GREENBERG: Well, first of all, I think we need to pay a lot of attention
to the 2018, you know, midterm elections, which were much bigger than
people I think imagined. Obviously, there was a big swing, and it was
visible in the number of seats in the suburban seats that went to the
Democrats across the country, gave them the 40 seats, that gave them the
majority that they currently have. But the biggest swing of voters in that
election was the 14-point swing of rural voters compared to where Trump
performed in `16, and about a 14-point swing of white working class voters,
both men and women who turned against the president.
Now, because the statewide Senate races were in the most red states and our
incumbents greatly outperformed what Trump did in those states,
nonetheless, it hid what was going - what was happening in the country.
There was already a pullback of many of these voters. Not the base voters.
The core of his party, the reason why he is pursuing the policies is that
he has his base of tea party evangelical and observing Catholics who are
still with him. But the secular conservatives, the moderate women,
independents have been driven away.
And we now face a lot of Trump voters who are swing voters, not the base,
who are saying what was I thinking? They look at him on TV, and we played
in focus groups, we played TV ads of the rallies of watching him speak
about what he was doing. And they shake their head, they look at the
divisiveness, they look at the lack of respect for women, and there`s just
been a movement away in places that lead you to say this is not what we`re
going to - we`re not going to face in `20 what we faced in `16.
O`DONNELL: Stanley Greenberg. The book is “RIP GOP.”
Stan, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.
GREENBERG: Thank you for having me.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, we now have breaking news to report to
you in the Georgia Senate race. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has just
reported that Jon Ossoff will run for Senate in Georgia. And we will be
joined by Jon Ossoff next to confirm this breaking news about the
Democrats` campaign to knock Mitch McConnell out of the Majority Leader`s
job in the United States Senate. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: “The Abrams Playbook” is out today. Here it is. Got that? There.
Stacey Abrams has issued an urgent 16-page memo to the Democratic Party
telling them, quote, “Next year, Georgia will be the premier battleground
state in the country. When analyzing next year`s political landscape and
electoral opportunities, any less than full investment in Georgia would
amount to strategic malpractice. We can win Georgia.”
Stacey Abrams talked about how Democrats should do that earlier tonight on
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STACEY ABRAMS (D), 2018 CANDIDATE FOR GEORGIA GOVERNOR: Georgia was not
only ground zero for voter suppression but also ground zero for
opportunity. We can pick up two Senate seats, give 16 electoral votes to
the Democratic nominee, and we can flip the House - the State House as well
as taking - holding one and adding another Congressional seat. Those are
extraordinary opportunities, and Georgia is the place to fight voter
suppression but also fight for Democratic votes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Jon Ossoff was the Democratic Congressional candidate in a
special election in Georgia in 2017 who showed us how much the political
ground shifted in Georgia in the first year of the Trump presidency,
running in a district that the last Republican had won by 23 points. Jon
Ossoff came within three points of winning that House seat, which was a big
clue about the big blue wave that was to follow in the next election.
When Jon Ossoff decided not to run for that seat again in 2018, Lucy McBath
did run, and she is now one of the freshmen Democratic members of the House
who have transferred control of the House of Representatives to the
Tonight, within the last hour, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has
reported that on the very day that “The Abrams Playbook” has declared
Georgia the premier battleground state in the country, Jon Ossoff has
decided to heed Stacey Abrams` advice to Democrats and fight for Democrats
in Georgia by running for the United States Senate.
And joining us now for an exclusive interview to tell us about his decision
to run is Jon Ossoff.
Jon, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.
JON OSSOFF (D-GA), CANDIDATE FOR U.S. SENATE: Thank you so much for having
O`DONNELL: So you can confirm you are a candidate for the United States
Senate in Georgia?
OSSOFF: Tomorrow morning, I`ll be announcing my candidacy for the United
States Senate in Georgia. I`m excited, and I`m excited to be here tonight.
O`DONNELL: Which seat - there`s two seats. There`s the Johnny Isakson`s
seat where he recently announced he`s going to retire, and then there is
Senator Perdue who`s running for reelection. Which one are you going to run
OSSOFF: I`ll be challenging Senator Perdue. Senator Perdue - this is a guy
who in a half decade while children in rural Georgia, one out of three of
them live in poverty, while Georgia has the highest maternal mortality rate
in the country, this man has not once in five years come down from his
private island to hold a single public town hall. He is a caricature of
Washington corruption. And I`m running because we face a crisis of
political corruption in this country.
When nine out of 10 Americans support universal background checks for
firearms purchases, but Congress refuses to act because they`re bought by
the NRA, that`s corruption. When the federal government is silencing its
own scientists, its own environmental scientists because their findings
threaten the profitability of the fossil fuel industry, that`s corruption.
As power becomes concentrated in fewer and fewer hands and wealth becomes
concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, and those wealthy and powerful
groups can spend limitless amounts in secret on a vicious political
propaganda to manipulate elections, that`s corruption.
I`ve spent the last six years as an investigative journalist. I lead a team
that`s taken on powerful corporations, ISIS war criminals, crooked judges,
all over the world. And we need now to mount an all-out attack on political
corruption in America, or I`m not sure our democracy will survive.
O`DONNELL: What did you learn in your Congressional race that you will
bring into this race? And what will be the number-one policy issue in this
race in Georgia?
OSSOFF: Lawrence, I was 29 when Donald Trump was elected President of the
United States. And like millions of Americans who have fought and worked
tirelessly since then, I didn`t sit back in despair. I stood up and ran for
Congress in a district where the last Democrat had lost by 23 points. And
everyone counted me out. But it became one of the toughest, closest races
in American political history. The national Republican Party all the way to
the President himself made my destruction their number-one priority.
And what I learned is that I will never be intimidated from telling my own
story and touting my own accomplishments because of the inevitable partisan
smears that come down from Washington. We have to be bold and direct and
clear in the face of that kind of intimidation.
O`DONNELL: What about issues? Is healthcare the number one issue in this
OSSOFF: The interesting thing is that for all of the political division and
all of the rancor that we face right now, most Georgians and most Americans
agree on the solutions to our basic problems. Most Georgians and most
Americans agree every American should have health care. Most Georgians and
most Americans agree we have to save our environment and revolutionize our
infrastructure. Most Georgians and most Americans want to get secret dark
money out of politics.
So the question is, if there is a consensus, why aren`t these things
happening? And it`s because there is a political corruption deeply embedded
within our system that prevents the will of the people from being expressed
through their elected representatives.
David Perdue is the image of Washington corruption. He retired into the
Senate. I will go to the Senate to work every day for Georgians.
O`DONNELL: Jon Ossoff, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Please
come back during the campaign. We want to hear more about it.
OSSOFF: Thank you so much for having me.
O`DONNELL: Thank you very much.
OSSOFF: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: After another chaotic and historic day in the British
parliament, we will explain the latest Brexit developments with the help of
British actor Benedict Cumberbatch and David Lammy, the Member of
Parliament from London who is the only MP who I follow on Twitter. That`s
O`DONNELL: We have breaking news tonight from London where parliament has
officially been suspended for five weeks. There were raucous scenes in the
House of Commons as members opposed to the suspension chanted “Shame on
you” as they left the chamber. Before the official suspension, members of
parliament rejected Prime Minister Boris Johnson`s second attempt at
scheduling a new election on October 15th.
In the HBO drama, “Brexit,” Benedict Cumberbatch plays the real-life
political opponent Dominic Cummings, who was the mad and rude genius behind
the political strategy that won the Brexit referendum three years ago.
Here is Benedict Cumberbatch playing Dominic Cummings in a scene that
combines his technical wizardry, political insight, and rudeness to the
ruling class of Conservative members of parliament.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Political discourse has become utterly moronic, thanks
to the morons who run it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But there it is. If that is the way that it is to be,
then I will get us across the line in whatever way I can. But in order to
do that, we have to restack the odds in our favor. We have to hack the
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hack it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like a cyber hack. Get in through the back door.
Reprogram the system so it starts working for us. You`re talking about
posters and flyers. I`m talking about ordering the matrix of politics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Dominic Cummings is now being called a psychopath by a senior
member of the Conservative Party. Now that Dominic Cummings has risen to
the position of chief strategist for the Conservative Party`s new Prime
Minister Boris Johnson, Dominic Cummings has masterminded the most
disastrous debut of a British Prime Minister in history with Boris Johnson
on the losing-end of votes in parliament consistently and then forcing
Conservatives who voted against him in parliament to leave the party, which
then provoked Boris Johnson`s own brother to resign from the government,
which reportedly reduced Boris Johnson to tears.
Matt Sanders, who used to work with Dominic Cummings, told “The New York
Times,” “We are in absolute chaos, and Dominic loves chaos.” Because Prime
Minister Boris Johnson reportedly delegates so much of his power to Dominic
Cummings, Jenni Russell, a columnist for “The Times” of London says Dominic
Cummings may be “the most important man in Britain right now.”
To survey the absolute chaos of the British government and British
politics, we will be joined in a moment by one of the most eloquent members
of parliament, David Lammy. David Lammy picked up a Harvard law degree
after earning a British law degree, and his American experience makes him
uniquely gifted in explaining Brexit to us.
David Lammy is the one Member of Parliament who I follow on Twitter. And no
matter how confused you may be about Brexit, I promise you will follow
every word of what David Lammy has to say about it after this break.
O`DONNELL: The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, today
announced that he will resign on October 31st, the date on which Prime
Minister Boris Johnson has promised to take the United Kingdom out of the
European Union even though parliament has passed a law preventing Boris
Johnson from doing that unless he has somehow miraculously negotiated a
last-minute final deal with Europe for exiting the European Union.
Here is an example of Speaker John Bercow in action instructing the new
Prime Minister last week on the rules of the House of Commons.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BORIS JOHNSON, PRIME MINISTER, UNITED KINGDOM: –that Labour Party led by
JOHN BERCOW, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS, UNITED KINGDOM: Yes. We don`t
name people in the chamber. People must observe the rules. No, no. Order.
Order. Order. I am simply and politely informing the Prime Minister of the
very long-established procedure with which everybody, including the Prime
Minister, must comply. That`s the position. No doubt. No argument. No
contradiction. End of the matter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Our next guest, Labour Party Member of Parliament David Lammy
rose in the House of Commons today to commend Speaker John Bercow, who was
first elected to parliament as a member of the Conservative Party.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID LAMMY, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT, BRITISH LABOUR PARTY: To stand up to
that establishment and never be cowed. The next Speaker has very, very big
shoes to fill.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now is David Lammy, a member of the British Labour
Party. He represents a district of London in parliament.
Thank you very much for joining us tonight. And I wanted to get your
reaction to the resignation of Speaker John Bercow.
DAVID LAMMY, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT, BRITISH LABOUR PARTY: Well, your viewers
will know, John Bercow has been an extraordinary Speaker standing up for
the sovereignty of parliament and ensuring that backbenchers like me get a
say and get to hold this government and previous governments to account.
He`s also been the most inclusive Speaker ensuring that women, minorities,
those with disabilities get to put their views and get to hold the
executive to account. It`s a very sad day that after a decade, he`s
standing down. But he`s staying right up to the 31st of October, and that
is hugely important.
O`DONNELL: There is another character in your politics who is emerging here
in the United States I think for the first time. And that is Dominic
Cummings, an adviser to Boris Johnson. There are a couple of profiles of
him a few days in a row here in the American news media. But he was played
by Benedict Cumberbatch in the TV movie about Brexit. And so that`s the
only familiarity I think American audiences have had.
How important is Dominic Cummings in what is happening now?
LAMMY: Well, he is the unelected prime minister. He`s hugely important,
hugely influential, hugely dangerous, a master at dark arts, has very
extreme hard-right politics, has taken very strange views on issues like
eugenics, and is now driving this country off a cliff. He clearly has Boris
Johnson in his pocket. He won the referendum in very dubious ways.
Many of your viewers will understand what I`m saying when I say that. The
use of Facebook, worries about international interference from -
particularly from Russia and other places. So, very, very worried to see
Dominic Cummings right at the center of power here in the U.K. and
influencing events in Europe as well.
O`DONNELL: One unnamed member of the Conservative Party told “The New York
Times” this weekend, referring to Dominic Cummings and Boris Johnson, “One
is a charlatan and the other a psychopath.” And I believe the charlatan is
Boris Johnson in that comparison. Is that overdone?
LAMMY: No. It`s not overdone. Something sick and cancerous has entered into
the system here in the U.K., this wonderful country, the mother of all
parliaments behind me, one of the birthplaces of modern democracy and the
sovereignty of a nation and those elected to represent it. And I`m afraid
we are hugely divided.
The Conservative Party - not my party - but nevertheless, a great party
here in Europe has been taken over by a bandit of tea party extremists
determined to wrench us out of the European Union using xenophobic,
sometimes racist rhetoric to deliver that, and to deliver a small, smaller
United Kingdom because surely the Scots, the Welsh and others will leave
the United Kingdom and leave us in a small little England. It`s deeply
depressing. It has to be fought. And I`m very pleased that the opposition
are coming together to try and defeat this mob.
O`DONNELL: Now, you`ve passed a law, parliament has passed a law saying
that the Prime Minister must request an extension of time from the European
Union, but there is new reporting suspecting that Boris Johnson will not
obey that law. Is there any way the Prime Minister can avoid the
requirements of that law?
LAMMY: It`s an extraordinary development that in the birthplace of the rule
of law, we have a Prime Minister say that he will not implement a law that
has been passed in this place to mandate it, to ask for an extension in an
event that he has no deal from the European Union. And frankly, if he
disobeys the law, then the Metropolitan Police will have to enter Number
10, put him in handcuffs and arrest him because he must obey the rule of
law. So they`re trying now to suspend parliament.
I mean, literally, it`s like an episode of “The Handmaid`s Tale.” And we
must resist that, of course, but we - look, we`re not coming back until
October the 14th, an extraordinary time of crisis in our country. And we`re
now out of parliament because of what they are attempting to do. So we`re
going to be in for a real fight in the middle of October.
Let`s see where it ends up. But as night follows day, I`m telling you, we
will not be exiting the European Union on the 31st of October with a no-
deal Brexit. It will not happen. We will be entering into a general
election, I suspect, in November, and fighting, frankly, for the future of
O`DONNELL: David Lammy, thank you very much for joining us. Really
LAMMY: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: That is tonight`s LAST WORD. “THE 11TH HOUR” with Brian Williams
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