Democrats call for Kavanaugh impeachment. TRANSCRIPT: 9/16/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.

Guests:
Robin Pogrebin, Kate Kelly, Tom Malinowski, Elissa Slotkin
Transcript:

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

 

And we are starting off tonight with the authors of the new book about the

investigation of Brett Kavanaugh. 

 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Oh, very good. 

 

O`DONNELL:  We heard what Senator Harris had to say about it in your hour

and we`re basically beginning where she left off. 

 

MADDOW:  I`m glad you got him.  Thanks, my friend. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Thank you, Rachel. 

 

“New York Times” reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly will be our first

guests tonight to discuss new reporting in their book “The Education of

Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation” which will be published tomorrow.  This

is their first cable news interview about their investigations. 

 

They wrote an article in Sunday`s “New York Times” about the book which

became the issue of the day in the Democratic presidential campaign, with

several candidates on the basis of that article calling for Supreme Court

Justice Brett Kavanaugh to be impeached. 

 

We also have complete coverage tonight of the breaking news regarding the

Trump administration`s possible response to an attack on a major Saudi

Arabia oil facility.  Former Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman will

join us with her analysis of the situation. 

 

And there`s a new subpoena for Donald Trump`s tax returns, eight years of

tax returns.  And this one might be enforced quicker than the congressional

subpoena for Donald Trump`s tax returns. 

 

And at the end of the hour, it`s tonight`s episode of “Meet the Freshman”. 

You will meet Democratic Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin from Michigan who has

two General Motors plants in her district that are on strike.

 

And this is the perfect night for her to join us not just to get her

reaction to the first day of the auto workers strike that could be

devastating to her district and to her state and to the country eventually

if it continues, but also because Congresswoman Slotkin is a former CIA

analyst and expert in Iran-backed militias who worked alongside the U.S.

military during three tours in Iraq.  And she has been warning for months

that the Trump administration has been building a case to pursue war with

Iran without the approval of Congress as required by the Constitution.  We

will see what she has to say about Donald Trump`s locked and loaded

response to the drone strike on the Saudi oil facility. 

 

We begin with the new impeachment question that has entered the

presidential campaign this weekend, should Supreme Court Justice Brett

Kavanaugh be impeached?  At least six Democratic presidential candidates

say yes.  Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden say there should be an investigation

of Brett Kavanaugh, with Biden saying, quote: We must follow to evidence to

wherever it leads. 

 

And presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar, who was one of the Democrats who

questioned Brett Kavanaugh in his Senate confirmation hearing, is now

demanding that the White House and Attorney General William Barr hand over

materials from the FBI background investigation of Brett Kavanaugh. 

 

In a letter to the White House and attorney general, Senator Klobuchar

says: Recent reports have again cast doubts on the completeness of the

investigating process, raising additional questions as to whether certain

information was followed up on, and whether potential witnesses were

interviewed. 

 

The recent reports Senator Klobuchar refers to are the work of our first

guests tonight, “New York Times” reporters Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly

who published an article in “The New York Times” Sunday edition that was

posted online Saturday night, which is an edited excerpt of their new book

that will be published tomorrow, “The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: An

Investigation.”

 

The article in “The New York Times” was apparently enough for some of the

presidential candidates to call for impeachment.  The article on “The

Times” concentrates on what Deborah Ramirez says happened to her when she

was a student at Yale College with Brett Kavanaugh and what happened to her

when she told her story to the FBI during the Brett Kavanaugh background

investigation.  Deborah Ramirez` story first appeared in “The New Yorker”

during the Kavanaugh confirmation process. 

 

Here is her Brett Kavanaugh story, as it appears in the new book that will

be published tomorrow. 

 

During the drinking game, Ramirez said the guys kept picking her to drink

more, and she became inebriated.  At one point, someone strapped on a fake

penis and pointed it at her.  Then, later, Ramirez said she had a penis

thrust in her face.  She remembered pushing it away and saying that`s not a

real penis, but this penis was real and she would recall she had

accidentally touched one for the first time.  It was something she hadn`t

planned to do until she was married. 

 

She remembered Genda and Todd laughing at her confusion that evening and

Kavanaugh pulling up his pants looking puffed up like he just did something

really, really great and tilting his head back also laughing.  She

remembered hearing David White yell down the hall, Brett Kavanaugh just put

his penis in Debbie`s face. 

 

After that story first became public in “The New Yorker,” the Judiciary

Committee did not ask Deborah Ramirez to testify.  And then the chairman of

the committee, Chuck Grassley said: There is no corroboration of the

allegations made by Dr. Ford or Ms. Ramirez.  He was referring to, of

course, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, who did tell her story to the committee

under oath on a nationally televised hearing. 

 

In their new reporting, Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly say Ms. Ramirez`s

legal team gave the FBI a list of at least 25 individuals who may have had

corroborating evidence but the bureau in its supplemental background

investigation interviewed none of them, though we learned many of these

potential witnesses tried in vain to reach the FBI on their own, two FBI

agents interviewed Ms. Ramirez telling her they found her credible, but the

Republican-controlled Senate had imposed strict limits on the

investigation. 

 

We have to wait to get authorization to do anything else, Bill Pittard, one

of Ms. Ramirez`s lawyers, recalled the agents saying it was almost a little

apologetic. 

 

This weekend`s “New York Times” article and the book contained a new

revelation about another story that came to the attention of some of the

members of the Judiciary Committee at the time, but it was never made

public during the confirmation process.  This story occupies less than one

page of the book, and only one paragraph of this weekend`s “New York Times”

article.  Here is that paragraph from “The Times.”

 

We also uncovered a previously unreported story about Mr. Kavanaugh in his

freshman year that echoes Ms. Ramirez`s allegation.  A classmate, Max

Stier, saw Mr. Kavanaugh with his pants down at a different drunken dorm

party where friends pushed his penis into the hand of a female student. 

Mr. Stier, who runs a nonprofit organization in Washington, notified

senators and the FBI about this account, but the FBI did not investigate

and Mr. Stier has declined to discuss it publicly. 

 

We corroborated the story with two officials who have communicated with Mr.

Stier. 

 

NBC News has confirmed that members of the Judiciary Committee were aware

of Max Stier`s allegations at the time of the confirmation process. 

 

The new book makes one more important point about that story.  The book

gives the name of the woman involved in that story and then specifies that

she, quote, has also refused to discuss the incident, though several of her

friends said she does not recall it. 

 

“The Times” later on Sunday added that line to the end of the paragraph

about Max Stier`s accusation.  That line in “The Times” now reads: the

female student declined to be interviewed and friends say she does not

recall the episode. 

 

Leading off our discussion tonight, are Robin Pogrebin, culture reporter

for “The New York Times”, and Kate Kelly, who writes about Wall Street fro

“The New York Times.”  They`re the authors of the new book, “The Education

of Brett Kavanaugh: An Investigation”, which will be out tomorrow. 

 

First of all, let`s start with what happened at “The New York Times.”  What

happened with that omission that “The Times” later felt belonged in the

piece? 

 

KATE KELLY, WALL STREET REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES:  Well, first of all,

Lawrence, there was zero intent to mislead anybody about the details of the

incident.  That excerpt we ran in “The Times” was an adaptation of what`s

in our book that you just described so aptly. 

 

It really focuses on the experience of Deborah Ramirez as we understand it,

after Robin spending quite a bit of time with her, why the incident she

alleged to have occurred with Kavanaugh hit so hard for her.  She was

feeling like a fish out of water that first year at Yale to begin with for

any number of reasons – socioeconomic, cultural and so on.  And this

incident was deeply traumatizing for her. 

 

That was the focus of the piece.  We included the additional detail about

this other as yet unreported allegation because it seemed germane to the

type of thing we were talking about.  It was a somewhat similar incident.

 

O`DONNELL:  In your draft of the article, did it include those words that

have since been added to the article? 

 

KELLY:  It did. 

 

O`DONNELL:  It did. 

 

KELLY:  It did. 

 

So somewhere in the editing process, those wonders were there? 

 

ROBIN POGREBIN, CO-AUTHOR, “THE EDUCATION OF BRETT KAVANAUGH”:  Yes.  I

mean, I think what happened actually was that, you know, we had her name

and, you know, “The Times” doesn`t usually include the name of the victim. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Right.

 

POGREBIN:  And so I think in this case the editors felt like maybe it was

probably better to remove it.  In removing her name, they removed the other

reference to the fact that she didn`t remember it. 

 

O`DONNELL:  So, the way in your draft for “The Times,” you used basically

the exact words – 

 

POGREBIN:  Yes.

 

O`DONNELL:  – that were in the book, that I deliberately left off the name

because that passage begins with the name. 

 

POGREBIN:  Yes. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And so, in their removal of the name, they ended up removing

the whole –

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

POGREBIN:  The whole sentence.  Yes.  And I think it was just sort of an

editing, you know, done in haste in the editing process as you know for

closing the section. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Were you involved in the decision to amend this and do the

correction – the addition online to the piece? 

 

POGREBIN:  We discussed it.  Yes.  I mean, we think felt like there was so

much heat, you know, there`s so much – everyone has been kind of seizing

on various aspects of this that we certainly didn`t want this to be an

issue anymore.  And we certainly never intended to mislead in any way.  We

wanted to give as full a story as possible. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Right.

 

KELLY:  And the key point              this was a piece of our book we were sharing

through “The Times.”  And the hope was that people will look at the book

which has a much fuller context, not only about this allegation, about,

frankly, which not a whole lot is known, we`re sharing what we do know. 

But also about all the context around these allegations in general, the

situation at Yale when Justice Kavanaugh was a student there, and Robin was

a student there, all the corroboration around the Ramirez account that you

spoke of, it`s all in there.   And we really tried to look at things from a

360-degree perspective. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Let me just do one more point on this amendment in the online

version of the article.  When they were working on what they were going to

add to it and the editors note they put in, did anyone consider including

that – the fact that it was in your original draft of the article?  That

would have been clarifying for people who are wondering how this happened. 

Did they at any point consider including what you just told us in that

editor`s note?

 

KELLY:  I`m not sure if they did or not, honestly, but I think the desire

was just to get the information out there to the readers, not of focus too

much on the progress, because obviously, there had been an error of

judgment that was being addressed, and just to move on to give people the

information they needed, but also to remind people that this is an

adaptation of a much longer work that`s forthcoming. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Do you know why Max Stier did not talk to you, refused to do

interviews with you about that story? 

 

POGREBIN:  My sense is that he feels as if he did his duty, which was he

brought the information that he had to the Senate – to senators and to the

FBI.  He made them all very aware that he had this experience that he had

witnessed firsthand in a dorm room during his freshman year at Yale.  What

they did with the information was up to them.  It never materialized and

became part of the process. 

 

Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed and he was done.  His work had been done.  He

had done his part.  And he had no interest in revisiting it. 

 

O`DONNELL:  In the article, you say that Brett Kavanaugh didn`t agree to an

interview because you couldn`t agree to terms for the interview.  What

terms did he want? 

 

KELLY:  We had some back-and-forth with the Supreme Court spokesperson

about this.  And ultimately, he wanted to be able to have a say that he

declined to comment for the book and we weren`t comfortable doing that if

we were going to find a meeting with him. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And to Deborah Ramirez, this story is a cultural story.  It`s

kids from different backgrounds who found themselves at Yale.  And she felt

disconnected from the start, and then this experience, as she tells it in

the book, completely changes her sense of her position at Yale with these

people. 

 

POGREBIN:  And I think what`s important is that, it was important for us to

flesh out her story because, one, it was never fully told or explored.  She

never testified.  We never had the chance to hear from people who were

trying to reach the FBI, who had corroborating evidence to the extent that

they had heard about this event contemporaneously. 

 

As well as – you know, she had told her mother.  We never learned that,

and her mother thought she`d been raped.  She was so upset about the

experience, although Debbie didn`t tell her the details at the time.  So,

we wanted to do that.

 

But I think it was also important to say that it`s easy to minimize these

allegations and also to look at them as piling on with Kavanaugh when you

had a lot of allegations coming fast and furious.  And to really sort of

say that you have to contextualize this woman`s experience in order to

understand why this was formative. 

 

You know, for some people, it would not have been necessarily a big deal at

the party.  For her, it was because it confirmed a sense of inadequacy she

had coming into Yale in the first place.  Socioeconomically, she was at a

disadvantage.  She was a person of color, she didn`t necessarily – it was

not a seamless transition for her the way it was for others. 

 

Frankly, it was easier for me I think coming from a private school in New

York than it was for – you know, a lot of other kids coming to Yale from

different backgrounds. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Kate, having worked in the Senate as I did and as the staff

director of a committee.  As soon as they announced that they were going to

reopen the FBI investigation and that the FBI investigation was time-

limited to a very few number of days, that was a very clear expression to

everyone in the Senate, this is going to be an extremely limited

investigation.  There was not announcement they could have made, which is

we`re delaying the hearing until the FBI investigation is completed, which

would be the normal process for a committee. 

 

But once they time-limited it, what I`m discovering in your book though

shocking, is not – isn`t really surprising to me.  The FBI didn`t

investigate all sorts of obvious people and question all sorts of all these

people they should have questioned. 

 

KELLY:  Right.  I mean, part of the consensus that was struck – or rather

the compromise that was struck between Senator Flake at the time, Senator

Coons, and also with the support of Senators Collins and Murkowski, who, of

course, are the sort of moderate Republicans, was that it would be time-

limited, it would be focused. 

 

The four of them actually did the walk together about how many witnesses

and ideas of which witnesses perhaps ought to be talked to.  One person we

talked to for the book said that number might be as high as 50.  Another

said not 50, but double digits.  But in any case, it appeared that the

White House, which was essentially the client in this FBI investigation,

had mandated just four interviews with key parties from the alleged Ford

incident. 

 

Ultimately, that list grew to ten, but we both spoke to numerous people

from Justice Kavanaugh`s high school as well as Yale and other parts of his

life as well who contacted the FBI.  There was a school teacher who was in

his class at Georgetown prep in San Francisco, took a day off, prepared a

letter, worked with a lawyer, went to the FBI office there and was turned

away, was told to call the tip line, was told to file an online form.  He

did all these things and there was no follow-up, he felt that he was never

heard.  He was extremely frustrated.

 

And he heard this story over and over again from people.  This is also a

version of what happened to Max Stier, although perhaps because of his

stature in Washington, he had more direct contact with lawmakers. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Yes, we now have reports that he had direct contact with

Senator Coons and others.  He knew them.  They knew him.  They had a sense

of his credibility. 

 

I want to talk about one of the most surprising things that I read here,

which is literally the last line of “The New York times” article.  And this

is Deborah Ramirez.  Because after what you just talked about, this very

frustrating experience with the FBI, you talked to a lot of people who are

bitter and angry about the way this investigation went and didn`t include

them. 

 

And she says: You can`t look at justice as just the confirmation vote. 

Deborah Ramirez said: There is so much good that came out of it.  There is

so much more good to come. 

 

What did she mean by the good? 

 

POGREBIN:  I think – I mean, I think in the case of Christine Blasey Ford,

this experience is one she may have regretted coming forward given what

she`s been through personally and continues to go through in terms of just

her family and how this has upended her life.  I think perhaps because

Deborah Ramirez didn`t effective testify and wasn`t sort of publicly

vilified, she got same outpouring of support that Christine Blasey Ford got

but kind of without the downside quite as much. 

 

I mean, certainly, there were threatening emails and texts, but generally,

she – you know, was very much buoyed by people coming out of woodwork

saying you made me feel validated in my experience.  I went through what

you went through, you`re a hero nowhere coming forward, men who are talking

to their sons in a different way, said they were – you know, she made them

newly sensitive to this experience.  And so, I think that`s been her

takeaway, is that people have started to talk about these issues and

started to be more sensitive to them in a way that hopefully will be

lasting. 

 

O`DONNELL:  And, Kate, it reads as if she felt more connected to her Yale

classmates in their full of support toward her than she did when she was

there as a student. 

 

KELLY:  Right.  It`s so interesting.  This is part of the beauty of Robin`s

reporting and writing because she dug down on the Ramirez situation.  I

mean, she went from feeling rejected by one group of students at Yale in

your class, to feeling really supported by another even larger group beyond

just the class of `87 and encompassing many more people. 

 

And so, she does have this sense of optimism that`s really buoying for

other people, too, because on the whole, this has been a very sad chapter. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Thank you very much for joining us.  This is very personal

book.  There`s a lot of material that I didn`t get to.  The book ends with

your own personal reactions to everything that you`ve learned, and I hope

people read it.  It really is an impressive piece of work. 

 

Thank you very much – 

 

POGREBIN:  Thank you so much. 

 

KELLY:  Thanks.

 

O`DONNELL:  – Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly.  Really appreciate it. 

 

And when we come back, we have to go to breaking news.  The latest in the

situation after a drone strike on major oil facilities in Saudi Arabia. 

Donald Trump claimed today that he doesn`t want war with anyone, that`s

after tweeting that the United States is locked and loaded in defense of

Saudi Arabia`s oil supply.  That`s next with Ambassador Wendy Sherman and

Congressman Tom Malinowski. 

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL:  Now to the breaking news situation unfolding in the Middle

East.  A key oil field in Saudi Arabia was bombed on Saturday by unmanned

drones affecting half of Saudi Arabia`s oil capacity.  Rebels in

neighboring Yemen who are fighting Saudi intervention in Yemen took credit

for the attack.  Saudi Arabia is claiming that the weapons used in the

attack are Iranian weapons. 

 

NBC News is reporting that U.S. intelligence indicates that the attack

originated from Iran.  Donald Trump`s reaction could not have been more

unpresidential.  President Trump seems to be surrendering U.S. sovereignty

on how the United States would react, tweeting: Saudi Arabia oil supply was

attacked.  There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked

and loaded depending on verification but are waiting to hear from the

Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack and under what

terms we would proceed, exclamation point. 

 

President Trump has gone from willing to meet with Iran with no

preconditions to locked and loaded.  He is now saying that he was never

willing to meet with Iran.  He says: The fake news is saying that I am

willing to meet with Iran, no conditions.  That is an incorrect statement,

as usual, exclamation point. 

 

And, of course, there`s video. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I would certainly meet with

Iran if they wanted to meet. 

 

REPORTER:  Do you have preconditions for that meeting? 

 

TRUMP:  No preconditions, no.  They want to meet, I`ll meet. 

 

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS ANCHOR:  Is it one on one talks, you and the

ayatollah?  Or you and the president?

 

TRUMP:  It doesn`t matter to me. 

 

(CROSSTALK)

 

TRUMP:  – three years.

 

TODD:  No preconditions.

 

TRUMP:  Not as far as I`m concerned, no preconditions. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Joining us now is Ambassador Wendy Sherman, undersecretary of

state in the Obama administration.  She was the led negotiator on the Iran

nuclear deal.  She`s now an MSNBC global affairs contributor. 

 

And Tom Malinowski, freshman Democratic congressman from New Jersey, as

well.  He`s a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee.  And under President

Obama, he was assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and

labor.

 

And, Congressman, let me start with you.  First of all, your reaction to

the president`s reaction so far?

 

REP. TOM MALINOWSKI (D-NJ):  It`s bad enough that he would think that we

should wait to hear from Saudi Arabia before deciding what to do in our own

interest.  But that he would announce this to the world, not understanding

just how submissive this makes him look to the Saudis. 

 

And you notice, he didn`t even say Saudi Arabia.  He said the Kingdom, as

if that`s something that impresses him.  Just extraordinary. 

 

Obviously, we do what is in our own national interest.  We do not wait for

Saudi Arabia to tell us what happened here, to tell us what to do.  If

they`re allies we should be consulting with, it should be our true allies

in the world, our NATO allies, our allies in Europe and the Security

Council.  That`s what we should be doing.

 

O`DONNELL:  Ambassador Sherman, if you were advising a president on this

situation tonight, what would you be telling the president to focus on? 

 

WENDY SHERMAN, MSNBC GLOBAL AFFAIRS CONTRIBUTOR:  I`d tell him to focus on

really making sure that he has a case, that we have the intelligence, that

we are holding a classified briefing with members of Congress, to share

what information we have.

 

That as Congressman Malinowski suggested, that we are consulting with our

allies.  You know, as the Pentagon has reportedly said in a just-posted

“Washington Post” report, we have 70,000 troops between Egypt and Pakistan

under Central Command.  And so, any action that anyone`s going to take is

putting all those personnel at risk when none of our personnel, none of our

facilities were hit. 

 

And it`s quite serious if the Saudi oil facilities were hit, no doubt, for

the entire world, but this is an issue for the entire world, not just for

the United States of America.  So we should be consulting, taking our time,

not making big announcements.  If action is going to be taken, sometimes

it`s better if it`s taken quietly. 

 

O`DONNELL:  When the president was asked later today, do you want war with

Iran?  He said, do I want war?  I don`t want war with anybody.  I am

somebody who would like not to have war. 

 

Let`s watch Senator Kamala Harris` reaction to this with Rachel in the last

hour. 

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Apparently, he`s

tweeting out, you know, this bravado about, you know, locked and loaded. 

What the – what does that mean?  OK?  And also –

 

MADDOW:  Well, it`s an implicit military threat. 

 

HARRIS:  Yes, it is.

 

MADDOW:  That the U.S. is going to be using – we`re going to use U.S.

force.

 

HARRIS:  Yes, it is, yes, it is, yes, it is. 

 

And, again, you know, listen, as far as I`m concerned, this president is

motivated by his personal insecurities more than he is our national

security. 

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL:  Congressman, what authority does the president need in order to

launch any kind of military response to this? 

 

MALINOWSKI:  Well, there`s a long history of ignoring the Congress and

frankly, if Congress ceding its responsibility to authorize military

action.  We have stated clearly in the House of Representatives, we voted

on a resolution that says the president does not have the authority to

start a war with Iran under the AUMF that has been used to conduct the

fight against terrorism.  So, we`ve made that very, very clear. 

 

Look, I agree with Wendy.  That is serious matter.  It`s certainly a

product of a very failed policy by this administration.  If they attacked

oil fields, we may need to respond, but we need to respond, I think, on the

quiet side of the dark side. 

 

I think I would – I would also be very, very clear with the Saudis, do

nothing.  Do nothing.  We do not want a shooting war.  We do not want them

getting into a shooting war.

 

And above all, do not hit some poor, innocent people in Yemen in order to

show your toughness against Iran under these circumstances if you`re afraid

to hit Iran, which they probably are directly. 

 

O`DONNELL:  Ambassador Sherman, what do you expect next from Saudi Arabia? 

 

SHERMAN:  Well, it`s interesting.  Saudi Arabia has asked the United

Nations and Saudi Arabia is no fan of the United Nations to come in and do

an investigation about who is culpable here.  That actually slows down the

process.  It may be a moment of wisdom from the Saudis.

 

But I quite agree with Tom that there should be no rush here.  We should be

thoughtful about this.  And there are many tools that can be used and

military force should be the last one, not the first resort. 

 

Even in this instance where there`s a lot at stake here because if Saudi

Arabia`s oil capacity was taken out altogether, it would affect the entire

world, including the world`s economy.  So, this is in everybody`s interest,

but not just ours, not just Saudi Arabia`s, and we ought to be working on a

united response to this. 

 

I think the other thing that Tom points out is we all have to remember that

Saudi Arabia has been persecuting just a horrific war in Yemen where many

have died.  The United Arab Emirates, which was a partner ion this, has

effectively pulled out because they understand that this is not an

effective way forward. 

 

There`s a lot going on in the Middle East tomorrow, including an election

in Israel tomorrow, which is very consequential to how we respond here. 

So, we all need to be thoughtful about this, not rush to judgment.

 

And, finally I`d say, Lawrence, we did not have to be here.

 

Many of us said that if Trump pulled out of the Iran deal which he was

committed to doing rather than build on it or find ways to address the

concerns that he and others had, we would not be here if he had not pulled

out of the Iran deal. We certainly wouldn`t be here now.

 

O`DONNELL: Professor Wendy Sherman, Congressman Tom Malinowski, thank you

both very much for your expertise on this subject tonight. We really needed

to hear from you. Thank you for joining us.

 

SHERMAN: Thank you.

 

O`DONNELL: And when we come back two words might turn out to be the worst

thing that happened to Donald Trump today and those words are. No comment.

It`s all about who said them, that`s next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: Well, it took less than a week for the Bolton book to get its

first headline on Tuesday of last week at this hour the big news of the

night was John Bolton`s departure that day from the Trump administration

with John Bolton saying he quit down and Donald Trump saying he was fired.

 

The first thing that occurred to me about John Bolton`s Southern free

agency was just how much damage John Bolton`s next book could do to Donald

Trump in the Trump re-election campaign if it were to come out say about a

year from now in the thick of the Presidential campaign.

 

And then today, comes the first headline about the Bolton book in the Daily

Beast. John Bolton already talking with book agents. He has a lot to dish

and there`s the sub-headline of, He penned one after leaving the Bush

administration. Now the President`s former top national security aide is

exploring another book.

 

Not just another book. A book that could be the best selling political book

of all time. A book that could make so many millions of dollars for John

Bolton, that he doesn`t have to go back to being a Fox news commentator

where he presumably wouldn`t be welcome anyway if he tells the whole truth

about Donald Trump in a book.

 

One of the Daily Beast`s unnamed sources seem to be promising exactly that

when he said he has a lot to dish. When he was reached for comment by the

Daily Beast today, John Bolton said the most threatening thing that a

political professional could say under these circumstances. “No comment.”

 

He did not say your source was wrong, I do not have a lot to dish. He did

not say, I am not writing a book. And last week John Bolton promised I will

have my say in due course. Those were his exact words and at that time, I

said the book publishers will want John Bolton to remain absolutely silent

until his book comes out to build suspense and sales of the book.

 

And so those two words, no comment might turn out to be the worst thing

that happened to Donald Trump today. When come back after this break Donald

Trump is facing a new subpoena tonight for his tax returns. This one is

from a local grand jury in Manhattan where Donald Trump`s companies are

already complying with subpoenas and where Donald Trump`s Attorney General

William Barr cannot help him escape the reach of the subpoenas.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: NBC news has confirmed that the Manhattan district attorney`s

office has issued a subpoena to Donald Trump`s accounting firm demanding

eight years of the presence personal tax returns and business tax returns

of the Trump organization. The subpoena stems from the criminal

investigation into the hush money payments made to two women alleging

affairs with Donald Trump before the 2016 election.

 

The Wall Street journal reports that “The probe is examining whether a

payment to former adult film star Stormy Daniels and the way the Trump

organization recorded the reimbursement of that payment violated a state

law that bars falsifying business records.”

 

Joining our discussion now is Joyce Vance, former U.S. attorney for the

Northern district of Alabama and MSNBC legal analyst and Joyce, I am so

eager to talk to you about this here, who we have to hear from here. What

do you make of these new subpoenas being reported today?

 

JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY & MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: It`s an

interesting development especially because we know that the Manhattan DA

apparently opened his investigation shortly after the Southern District of

New York federal prosecutors closed their investigation into campaign

finance violations and irregularities with the Trump organization.

 

So looking at those two back to back and now this subpoena, Lawrence, it`s

very interesting to see it happening.

 

O`DONNELL: The New York Times reports this about filing false business

records in New York. It says, “Filing false business records can be a crime

but it becomes a felony only if prosecutors can prove that the false filing

was made to commit or conceal another crime such as tax violations or bank

fraud.”

 

So the other crime here could for example be a tax evasion crime if they

deducted the Trump business deducted the so called Michael Cohen legal fees

as a business deductions because they in fact as Michael Cohen says it were

not legal fees.

 

VANCE: I think that that`s right. I think that you know, if you`re

prosecuting this case, you`re not going into it with the conclusion about

what you`ll be charging but I don`t think the Manhattan DA is looking here

to get a misdemeanor. Certainly they`re looking for a felony which means

proving that false business records were filed and that filing was made in

order to conceal another crime.

 

Tax fraud looks very likely here and with this news of the subpoenas, I

think we have to do at least for the moment it seemed that that`s one of

the theories that they`re pursuing.

 

O`DONNELL: Now, this is New York state tax law and New York City, there`s a

New York City - there are New York City taxes that could also have been

underpaid because of this so in federal tax evasion cases, this is not that

but they tend to be guided by the same principles. Who`s liable? If Donald

Trump signs - when he signs his personal tax return, he takes on all the

legal liability for whatever is in it.

 

But what about the preparers of those tax returns or other people involved

who might know that the so called legal fees to Michael Cohen were not

legal fees? Is just knowledge of something being false in the tax return,

does that create a liability for someone?

 

VANCE: So I think the answer as you know, is going to be it depends. In a

typical situation if your tax preparer makes a mistake based on accurate

information that you`ve provided to him or her then you`re probably not

going to be on the hook for that professional`s error but in a situation

where someone say here someone involved in the Trump organization provided

allegedly, we don`t know that this is true but for the sake of argument

provided false information to a tax preparer.

 

Then the criminal liability I think would it be attributable, if that whole

chain could be proven to the person who provided the bad information but

particularly here the government has to be able to prove that the intent is

to conceal another crime, another felony.

 

O`DONNELL: What can President Trump do to fight this subpoena?

 

VANCE: You know, this is a much more difficult than having the Attorney

General willing to quash or having witnesses for instance like witnesses

who were supposed to testify tomorrow in Congress who are already in the

President`s count.

 

Here we`ve got a state, a local DA in Manhattan using his own grand jury,

not using federal grand jury and so the best the President can do here is

that his attorneys could file a motion to quash the subpoenas, that would

be litigated but typically you know we worry about litigation taking a long

time.

 

When it`s litigation involving a witness appearing in front of the grand

jury or documents being turned over to a grand jury, those sorts of

questions tend to be resolved relatively quickly by judges that are

supervising grand juries so that that work can move forward.

 

I think that we`ll get quick turn around here and the President is missing

some of the special benefits that he`s had in the federal system or at

least that he`s appeared to have had.

 

O`DONNELL: Joyce Vance, thank you very much for your expertise on this one

tonight. Really appreciate it.

 

VANCE: Thank you.

 

O`DONNELL: And when we come back, tonight`s episode of Meet the Freshman.

You will meet Freshman Democratic Congressman who is a former CIA officer

who now says that the Trump administration has been building a case to go

to war with Iran without the approval of Congress.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: Today nearly 50,000 members of the United Auto Workers union

went on strike at General Motors factories across the country. United Auto

workers union and General Motors failed to reach agreement on key issues

like wages, health care, job security and profit sharing.

 

On Sunday, GM made public what it had last offered at the bargaining table

including $7 billion of new U.S. factory investments and a proposal for

idled plants in Michigan and Ohio. In a letter to General Motors the United

Auto Workers Vice President Terry Dittes wrote, “We are disappointed that

the company waited until just two hours before the contract expired to make

what we regard as its first serious offer. Had we receive this proposal

earlier in the process, it may have been possible to reach a tentative

agreement and avoid a strike.”

 

The last General Motors strike occurred during contract negotiations in

2007. The strike lasted three days and cost General Motors $600 million.

Today a spokesperson for the United Auto Workers told NPR that only 2

percent of the contract terms have actually been agreed upon. “When you

have 98 percent of the agreement to go, it`s going to take a while.” Today

the President refused to say whether he supports the auto workers.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REPORTER: Do you stand with the Auto Workers in the strike against GM?

 

DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I have a great

relationship with the Auto Workers. I get tremendous numbers of votes from

the Auto Workers. I don`t want General Motors to be building plants outside

of this country as you know they built many plants in China and Mexico and

I don`t like that at all. My relationship has been very powerful with the

auto workers, not necessarily the top person or two but the people that

work doing automobiles.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: Doing automobiles. In tonight`s episode of Meet the Freshman,

you will meet freshman Democratic Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin who has two

General Motors auto plants in her congressional district in Michigan. She

is also a member of the Homeland Security Committee and a former CIA

analyst.

 

We`ll get her take on the drone strikes on Saudi oil facilities and find

out if she supports the Auto Workers who are now on strike in her

congressional district. That`ll all happen next after this final commercial

break.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: Here is James Cotton, one of the striking auto workers in

Michigan.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

JAMES COTTON, GM WORKER ON STRIKE: We just want what`s fair to us. Few

years back we gave up a lot t keep this house open and all the house–

 

And now that they`re making more money than they ever have, we feel like we

should get some of that stuff back like cost of living and things of that

nature.

 

And the company doesn`t want to do that. You know fair day`s pays goes with

a fair day`s work. And we just want to recoup some of the stuff that we

lost.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: Joining us now is freshman Democrat Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin

from Michigan. She is a member of the Armed Services Committee and the

Homeland Security Committee. She was the Acting Assistant Secretary of

defense for International Security Affairs under President Obama and is a

former CIA Middle East analyst.

 

Perfect night to have you here. Let`s start with the Auto Workers. Do you

support the Auto Workers?

 

REP. ELISSA SLOTKIN (D-MI): I mean of course. I mean, I`m from Michigan so-

-

 

O`DONNELL: Wait. Didn`t you see what President Trump said about - he said a

lot of words but he never said yes, of course.

 

SLOTKIN: Well, I mean, I think it–

 

O`DONNELL: Don`t you want to be more careful in your answer?

 

SLOTKIN: No, it`s just - it`s not a hard one for me. I have two GM plants

in my districts. We have a huge number of auto workers in my district and

you know the UAW built itself up in my state. We were the most unionized

state in the country for a long time. So we`re used to standing with labor

and we stand with them now.

 

And I just - I urgently hope all sides are going to get back to the table

tomorrow morning and work this out.

 

O`DONNELL: I mean these things can be solved quickly but in a business as

giant as GM, there are massive losses for basically every hour of a strike

like this.

 

SLOTKIN: For everybody. I mean, the workers are losing money too, right?

They`re living on $250 a week now as we - as they strike. So everyone

suffers. No one wants this to go on but there is a point where you know,

folks have to push for what they believe in and that`s what they`re doing

right now so.

 

O`DONNELL: What would you say to General Motors if you got a chance - if

you could tell them what they - what they should be considering when they

think about the Union`s position?

 

SLOTKIN: I just think it`s important that we all remember the ark of the

story and the ark of the story is when GM went through - was really

suffering, the workers took it and absorbed some of the pain in order to

keep GM`s doors open, in order to keep that kind that company solvent.

 

So now that they`re doing better and we`re thrilled that they`re doing

better, we want them to do better. You know it`s time that they give their

workers what they deserve so I think it`s just putting it into context, I

think it`s - that`s important.

 

O`DONNELL: And the company was a big beneficiary of the Obama

administration`s intervention which they paid back. It`s not - it`s not

like they took something from the government but they did have a support

system from the government when they needed it. Let`s turn to what`s going

on the drone strike in Saudi Arabia.

 

You`re an expert on the region. Former CIA analyst, what do you see there?

What do you see in the administration`s reaction to it?

 

SLOTKIN: Well, I mean I think you`ve had guest on who have talked about it

in similar ways but I just think it`s a strong step by the Iranians and you

know they`re going to deny it but you know we need to do a full analysis of

what actually happened but more than just a tactical moment, I think we

have to realize that this is - this is kind of how warfare is going to be

fought in the future.

 

This is not I think a one off incident. What folks have been able to do

with drones obviously has been really significant over the past couple of

years. So more than just this one strike, I think we`re looking at

something that`s going to be part of our future. The Iranians listen,

they`ve taken an aggressive step.

 

Obviously an attack on Saudi Arabia oil fields, it`s going to prompt a lot

of questions about a response. I just think we need to be level headed,

take a breath, make sure we understand where these strong came from, who

operated them and why and then taken the next move without kind of just you

know, Yosemite Sam shooting off–

 

O`DONNELL: How long do you think it will take to get a real assessment of

what has happened?

 

SLOTKIN: Well, I can just go from my prior life as a CIA officer. If we had

what we thought would be it you know, an Iranian rocket or an Iranian

mortar, we would have a proper weapons team come in, take a look at it, do

the forensics, understand where it was manufactured, compare it to other

examples we have and we do an analysis.

 

We do it thoroughly and we bring in the right expertise so that`s what I

want the Saudis to be doing. I think they`ve invited the U.N. in to help do

that and I think that that`s a good positive step but there`s no way an

hour or two after an incident like this we should be claiming we know

exactly what happened.

 

O`DONNELL: The President tweeted, he was locked and loaded just

instantaneously.

 

SLOTKIN: Yes, I just - it`s just not language that`s helpful and you know,

the President goes back and forth–

 

O`DONNELL: But how does the region see that, that language from the

President? How do they react?

 

SLOTKIN: I think the problem is if we don`t know here in the United States

kind of where the President is at any given moment, what does the region

think is going on? And I don`t think this President wants war with Iran. I

think he and Bolton came to blows or not blows but came to you know argue

about this.

 

But you can get in an inadvertent war without meaning to and when you use

language like that and you escalate and you risk kind of knee jerk

reactions, you can find yourself in a conflict that you maybe didn`t want

to be in but you`re in it because everyone gets their backs up and they

don`t back down.

 

O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, thank you very much–

 

SLOTKIN: Thank you so much.

 

O`DONNELL: – for joining us tonight`s episode of Meet the Freshman. Great

to have you here. Please come back. 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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