Senator Klobuchar (D-MN). TRANSCRIPT: 9/17/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.
LAWRENCE O’DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
We will be covering whatever is new in the Netanyahu Israel race later in
this hour. There probably won’t be too much more coming in tonight, the
next 45 minutes. But we’re going to get to it before the end of this hour.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, “TRMS”: Indeed, thanks, my friend.
O’DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel
Well, there was definitely much must-see TV today in the Corey Lewandowski
hearing in the House Judiciary Committee. Unfortunately, it was hours
after most people stopped watching the hearing. But we will show you the
best parts of what happened in that hearing room today in just a moment.
Also tonight, the fallout about new reporting about the FBI investigation
or lack of an FBI investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct by
Brett Kavanaugh during the confirmation process for the Supreme Court.
Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Amy Klobuchar, will join us
tonight to discuss what she thinks Congress should do now.
And we have breaking news on two major stories in the Middle East tonight.
The Trump administration is considering how to respond to an attack on
Saudi Arabian oil facilities. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is on his way
to Saudi Arabia, scheduled to meet with the government there tomorrow.
And, right now, as Rachel said, votes are being counted in Israel in an
election that’s been called a referendum on Trump ally Benjamin Netanyahu.
Roger Cohen has worked as a foreign correspondent, more than 15 different
countries, for “The Wall Street Journal” and “The New York Times”. He’s
now a columnist for “The New York Times”, analyzing international affairs
for American readers. He recently filed columns from Saudi Arabia and
Israel and we are very lucky to have him at this historic moment in the
Middle East joining us tonight at the end of the hour.
Also, toward the end of the hour, Cal Perry will join us with a really
important investigation that he conducted into the potential dangers of
process of flaring natural gas in Texas. You really need to see this.
Now, if you read the early reviews of today’s hearing in the House
Judiciary Committee, by which I mean the reviews written about four, four
and a half hours into the five-and-a-half-hour hearing, then you would
think the hearing was a mess. “The Daily Beast” headline at 5:55 p.m.
said, Corey Lewandowski’s House testimony quickly dissolved into a mess.
But a minute later, literally a minute after that was filed, everything
changed. There was a half hour left in that hearing when everything
changed and Corey Lewandowski changed. Corey Lewandowski ran out of ways
to avoid answering questions when he faced a full half hour of
concentrated, cross examination by a lawyer hired by the committee to
question witnesses in its impeachment investigation.
The Republicans on the committee were determined to make a mockery of the
committee process from the start. We have never seen a more childish and
abusive use of committee process and committee rules than what the
Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee did today. This was the low
point in the history of House hearings procedurally.
The Republicans made repeated motions to shut down the hearing, to just
adjourn the hearing, close it down and when those motions were defeated
instantly by a voice vote, the Republicans then called for, as is their
right, roll call votes that they knew would take time and they knew they
were going to lose, and they were just trying to waste time, and add to the
circus atmosphere that they created.
Corey Lewandowski was ready for a circus. He was not ready for serious
questioning. When Republicans took their five-minute turns at questioning
the witness, they ignored Corey Lewandowski’s role in the president’s
attempt to shut down the Mueller investigation, as described by Corey
Lewandowski’s own testimony in the Mueller report and his own notes that
are reproduced in the Mueller report.
The Republican questioning deliberately did not make any sense. But the
questioning on the Democratic side also mostly didn’t make sense because of
Republican interference with that questioning, and the simple fact which
should be obvious by now, that most members of Congress aren’t very good at
this. They did not run for district attorney. They ran for the House of
And every once in a while they have to play district attorney in committee
hearings, and generally for most of them, it doesn’t go very well, except
for the people who have actually been prosecutors. And so, for hours on
end, it was a chaotic hearing with Corey Lewandowski becoming increasingly
emboldened in his refusal to answer any question for which the answer was
not already contained in the Mueller report. He was asked by several
Democrats to read passages of the Mueller report and he repeatedly refused
to do so.
Congressman Eric Swalwell zeroed in on page 91 of the Mueller which
reproduced Corey Lewandowski’s own notes of a speech that Trump dictated to
him for Attorney General Sessions to deliver, about the Mueller
investigation while Jeff Sessions was recused from supervising or
commenting on the Mueller investigation. In the Trump-written speech, Jeff
Sessions would announce that the special prosecutor’s investigation of the
president is unfair, and the special prosecutor would only be allowed, from
this point forward, to investigate the possibility of, quote, election
meddling for future elections, so that nothing can happen in future
Congressman Eric Swalwell asked Corey Lewandowski to read his notes of his
conversation with the president as reproduced in the Mueller report, and
Lewandowski refused to read his words aloud.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): You were ashamed to read them out loud and you
didn’t deliver those words to the person the president asked you to, did
you have a consciousness of guilt?
COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN: I have nothing to be
guilty of, Congressman. Thank you.
SWALWELL: Do you still feel guilty today and that’s why you can’t read it
LEWANDOWSKI: Congressman, you’re welcome to read the word if you’d like.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O’DONNELL: When the members of the committee finally finished their
questioning, about five minutes after the hearing began, it was finally
time for 30 minutes of questioning reserved for attorney Barry Berke who
was serving as chairman of the committee hired by Chairman Nadler. And
chaos broke out once again as the Republicans pretended there was something
wrong with having counsel ask questions even though the committee has done
that many, many times before, especially in the investigation of a
And after another round of votes trying and failing to close down the
hearing completely, finally, finally, Barry Berke closed in on Corey
Lewandowski for what was the worst public half hour of Corey Lewandowski’s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARRY BERKE, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE COUNSEL FOR THE DEMOCRATS: My question to
you, sir, is on national television, did you lie about your relationship
with the special counsel and whether they sought your interview?
LEWANDOWSKI: I don’t know.
BERKE: Prior to the Mueller report being published in redacted form, did
you ever misrepresent what you did on behalf of the president?
LEWANDOWSKI: I can’t think of an instance where that would have occurred
BERKE: Let me show you an interview that you did on May 14th, 2019 excuse
me. I’m going to show it to you from February 22nd, 2019. Let me show it
BERKE: Excuse me, excuse me, May 14, 2019. Thank you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEWANDOWSKI: I don’t remember the president ever asking me to get involved
with Jeff Sessions or the Department of Justice in any way, shape or form
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERKE: Did you hear that, sir? That was you saying on MSNBC you don’t
ever remember the president ever asking you to get involved with Jeff
Sessions or the Department of Justice in any way, shape or form. That
wasn’t true, was it, sir?
LEWANDOWSKI: I heard that.
BERKE: And that wasn’t true?
LEWANDOWSKI: I have no obligation to be honest with the media because
they’re as dishonest as anybody else
BERKE: So, you’re admitting, sir, you were not being truthful in that
LEWANDOWSKI: My interview with Ari Melber?
LEWANDOWSKI: Can be interpreted any way you like
BERKE: Why did you lie on television, sir, about the president giving you
a message to the attorney general about the special counsel’s
LEWANDOWSKI: I don’t recall that particular day and mindset at the time.
So, I couldn’t answer that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O’DONNELL: Corey Lewandowski told Robert Mueller’s investigators that he
didn’t want them to deliver the president’s message to Jeff Sessions at the
Justice Department, at Jeff Sessions’ office, because he did not want the
Justice Department logs to show that he visited the attorney general. He
didn’t want a public record of that meeting.
Barry Berke pressed Corey Lewandowski on why he didn’t want a public record
of him entering the Justice Department.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BERKE: Isn’t it a fact you didn’t want a public log because you knew what
you were doing was wrong? So, just as the president went to an unofficial
non-government employee, you wanted to make sure there was no record of it,
isn’t that right, sir?
BERKE: So, do you agree that a log would create a record of you visiting
with the attorney general?
LEWANDOWSKI: I would think a log would create a record, yes.
BERKE: And do you agree, so that you admitted to the special counsel, you
didn’t want to have a record of your visit, and that’s why, that’s one of
the reasons why you didn’t go to the Department of Justice, because you
didn’t want a public log of your visit, correct?
LEWANDOWSKI: I’ve never been to the Department of Justice. I don’t know
what goes on at the Department of Justice. I don’t want to find what
happen in the Department of Justice based on what’s happened at the other
people involving the Department of Justice, to be honest with you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O’DONNELL: Barry Berke insisted that the reason Corey Lewandowski did not
personally deliver the president’s message to Jeff Sessions is that Corey
Lewandowski knew that would not be legal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BERKE: You said, sir, you never did anything other than what was
completely legal, and you said that, sir, because you knew if you delivered
that message that told the attorney general to instruct the special counsel
to limit the investigation to exclude the president, that would not be
legal. Isn’t that correct, sir?
LEWANDOWSKI: You know, Mr. Berke, I didn’t have the privilege of going to
Harvard Law School and I’m not an attorney. So what I know is I didn’t
think at the time that the president asked me to deliver a message, that
anything was illegal about it. I didn’t have the privilege to go to
So, if you’re telling me that in your opinion that would have been illegal,
that’s your opinion, too, but I never assumed that, didn’t think about it
at the time and haven’t thought about now.
BERKE: Why didn’t you deliver the message the president asked you to
deliver unless you didn’t deliver it because you knew it was improper to
LEWANDOWSKI: Mr. Berke, it wasn’t a priority
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O’DONNELL: It sure reads like a priority in the Mueller report.
Throughout the day, Corey Lewandowski refused to answer multiple questions
about his conversations with anyone working in the White House. Barry
Berke showed that this was not exactly a sacred principle to Corey
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEWANDOWSKI: I can’t speak to conversation I may or may not have with
senior staff members of the administration to preserve the privilege they
BERKE: So, it’s such a sacred privilege, you would not disclose private
communications, because that would be wrong, is that your testimony, sir?
LEWANDOWSKI: No, my testimony is that the White House has directed not to
disclose the substance of any discussions with the president or his
advisers to protect executive branch confidentiality, and I recognize
that’s not my privilege. But I am respecting the decision of the White
BERKE: Sir, didn’t you publish a book in which you disclosed these very
conversations you had with senior White House officials?
LEWANDOWSKI: Which book you reference? I’ve written two “New York Times”
bestsellers in the years. So, could you refresh my memory which one?
BERKE: I’m asking you about the best-seller “Let Trump Be Trump”.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEWANDOWSKI: Leading off our discussion tonight is Democratic Congressman
Eric Swalwell of California. He’s one of the able questioners of the House
Judiciary Committee because he is a former deputy district attorney
himself. Also joining us, Mimi Rocah, former assistant U.S. attorney in
the Southern District of New York, and an MSNBC legal contributor.
And, Congressman Swalwell, I want to start with something you brought up to
Chairman Nadler when it was your turn and there’d already been one brief
recess in the hearing and so, I’m not sure whether this was – you could
tell us whether there was coordinated with the chairman or not. But you
specifically said – you asked the chairman to consider holding Corey
Lewandowski in contempt of Congress for the way he was testifying in that
hearing which I have to say in any previous Congress, he would have been
held in contempt of Congress in the first five minutes based on what we
What is going to happen with the question on of contempt of Congress for
SWALWELL: It’s certainly on the table and I also think the two witness
chairs next to him, empty chairs should mean empty pockets. And they need
to be fined. And there need to be consequences.
And, when you – and, by the way, I could listen to the Barry Berke
conversation all day. I mean, he’s just masterful and finally the truth
came out. But that’s not how an innocent person conducts themselves.
That’s not how someone who wants to help the Congress understand what the
president did would present themselves. That’s how a guilty person acts.
And so, you know, our – the chairman is going to consider contempt and you
know, we’re not going to stop it – and , Lawrence, I saw just like you
did. You know, the Twitter hot takes on what all this meant. And people
said it was messy, it was frustrating and that’s all true.
But if the opposite of this is to do nothing and let the president get away
with further obstruction, we’re not going to do that either. And we have
court battles that are ongoing right now. So, the president may benefit in
the short term from confusing people and telling people to obstruct. But
in the long term, there’s going to be a cascade of court decisions in our
favor and it’s not going to be very good for the Trump team.
O’DONNELL: Congressman, there is another alternative for the messiness of
it, and that is letting Barry Berke do all the questions or let Barry Berke
have the first half hour and let the mess follow that.
SWALWELL: Yes, it also just depends as well on the witnesses. We should
assume that most witnesses are going to be like Mr. Lewandowski. That’s
just the Trump style. They haven’t had to have any consequences for that
as of late.
And yes, I think, you know, just like you want more cow bell, give us more
Berke. He was very, very good
O’DONNELL: Mimi Rocah, one of the things you don’t have in a courtroom is
the other side in the middle of your questioning jumping up in all sorts of
histrionic ways. If you want to object to something in a courtroom, you
better be doing it based on the rules of evidence.
The Democrats had not just a witness problem, but they had these other –
these Republican members on the other side who were willing to play games
at every moment of this hearing and interrupt in any way they felt like at
MIMI ROCAH, MSNBC LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Right, that’s absolutely right. I
mean, in a courtroom, you have a judge policing it in the moment. Here,
Republicans – I mean, as long as they’re willing to sort of give up pride,
basically, and look foolish, they can object on any basis for as long as
they want and it broke the flow.
And in particularly in the first part of the hearing, it really, I think,
you know, made it hard for Democrats to get information out. As time went
on, I think they became more accustomed to it and were able to use their
O’DONNELL: How frustrating is it for you? I’m just imagining you watching
this as an experienced federal prosecutor – look, there’s bad questioning
on both sides. We know the Republicans are just playing a game. But on
the Democratic side, there was a lot of bad questioning, ineffective
questioning, lost points, not holding to a consistent line of inquiry from
one member to another.
There were very few members, even on the Democratic side, who you could
even summarize what they were trying to do. Congressman Swalwell is one
that is very few, which is why we could show his clips.
How hard was it for you to just watch that?
ROCAH: Well, it was very hard. But, you know, look, I want to be fair
here in the sense that as you said, I mean, I think what they needed to do
wasn’t even here about the style of their questioning as much as they let
the witness control, and that was also because of what the Republicans are
doing. They needed to take control back.
And so, that’s why when Barry Berke, you know, had a full 30 minutes and
just as everyone has said is such a skilled questioner, he was able to take
control again and he controlled the narrative and got out the information
he wanted and made Lewandowski – showed Lewandowski, not made him –
showed Lewandowski to just be a complete liar and it was so obvious to
everyone watching that.
And, you know, there were some good points, though, even before Berke. I
think this point about Lewandowski, you know, have said to Mueller that he
didn’t want to meet with Sessions at the DOJ because of the log, and now
he’s totally trying to disclaim that. That’s a really important point, and
frankly, he may have perjured himself about that today because he
completely contradicted what he said to Mueller.
O’DONNELL: And, Congressman Swalwell, you also caught him in an
inconsistency between the Mueller report and his testimony today.
SWALWELL: That’s right, Lawrence.
So, he told the Mueller team – let’s just back up can you imagine if Corey
Lewandowski acted like this with the Mueller team, we know he didn’t
because he gave him so much information. He gave him so much information
because he had other witnesses that knew what happened. But he told the
Mueller team that this was the only time he had ever written down something
the president told him to do. That’s how important this message was.
And then he told us, no, I took notes all the time. I kept every note he
gave me in my safe. We showed that inconsistency again to show that he was
trying to reduce his criminal culpability with us and minimize it.
Lawrence, just to defend my colleagues, we have bonded in the last few
months over this, and we work very hard to be prepared and you’re right,
the obstruction from the Republican colleagues of ours and from the
witnesses makes it very hard. But I think this new style of having a
cleanup at the end by a skilled litigator like Mr. Berke will help the
American people understand.
O’DONNELL: And, Mimi, one of the things about these congressional hearings
is it’s extremely hard to anticipate the kind of interference that the
Republicans launch, because they are violating every norm of committee
process that existed in the institution and so when I’m watching this, I
don’t have suggestions for Chairman Nadler about here’s how to fight these
guys, because I’ve never seen any conduct like this before in these
And what they don’t have are the rules that you have in a courtroom that
you can rely on a judge to smack down a lawyer who is getting out of order.
There is no – we’re discovering the limits of what we thought were the
powers of chairmen in this process, because they are abusing this hearing
process and there really isn’t a way to get them to behave the way they’re
supposed to in these hearings.
ROCAH: Well, I think to the extent possible, and I realize under the
procedural rules, you can’t completely do this, they have to not engage,
right? They have to try to shut it down as quickly and as early as
possible. There seemed to be a lot of debate going on about – right there
in the moment about privilege. I mean, this is a bogus privilege that’s
And so, either they should have said from the beginning that they’re just
going to let him make these bogus privilege assertions, or they’re going to
hold him in contempt, one or the other. And there seemed to be a lot of
debate happening in the moment about whether, you know, it was, in fact, a
valid privilege or not. It’s not.
And frankly I think they should hold him in contempt because otherwise
everyone is going to keep asserting this. And this is a good test case.
O’DONNELL: Congressman Swalwell, before you go, the problem with contempt
is that a prosecution for contempt of Congress is conducted by William
SWALWELL: Yes, yes, it goes nowhere.
O’DONNELL: And that’s what makes, in effect, the behavior in that room
unenforceable because he knows that. Corey Lewandowski knows he can be
contemptuous of Congress as much as he wants, and this attorney general
will never prosecute him for it
SWALWELL: Yes. I think, you know, a lot of these guys on the Trump team,
all they understand is money and for many reasons, a lot of reasons their
conduct was about greed. That’s why I think we should use the power of
being able to fine them, and I think that might get their attention.
O’DONNELL: Congressman Eric Swalwell, Mimi Rocah, thank you both very much
for starting us off tonight. I really appreciate it.
SWALWELL: Thank you. Thanks, Mimi. Thanks, Lawrence.
O’DONNELL: And when we come back, presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar is
here after an NBC News poll released today showed that only 9 percent of
Democratic voters have firmly decided who they’re going to vote for in the
Democratic primaries, which means anything can happen for any of the
candidates who are still in this race.
Amy Klobuchar joins us next.
O’DONNELL: Today, the new book “The Education of Brett Kavanaugh: An
Investigation” by “New York Times” reporters was officially published after
a weekend that saw an excerpt of the book published in “The New York Times”
moved several Democratic presidential candidates to call for Brett
Kavanaugh’s impeachment from the Supreme Court.
Senator Amy Klobuchar, who was a Democratic presidential candidate, went
into action by demanding from the FBI and the Justice Department, quote:
All communications between the White House and the FBI regarding the scope
of the background investigation and supplemental background investigation.
The new book shows that the FBI did not investigate dozens of claims by
people, including classmates of Brett Kavanaugh’s at Yale who believed the
accusations against Brett Kavanaugh at his confirmation hearing were
consistent with behavior they had seen or heard about at Yale. Last night
on this program, the authors of the new book described some of those
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATE KELLY, REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: 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 schoolteacher 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 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. We heard this story over and
over again from people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O’DONNELL: Joining us now is Amy Klobuchar, a Democratic senator from
Minnesota, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a presidential
Senator Klobuchar, what was your reaction when you read the “New York
Times” article about this on Sunday?
SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I would say it
wasn’t one of surprise, Lawrence. And I think you know my role in that
hearing, I was the one that was calmly asking the judge, trying to mesh the
stories, the credible story of Dr. Blasey Ford with his story. And I asked
him if perhaps he had blacked out and that’s why he didn’t remember and
then he shot back at me and asked me if I had blacked out.
He later apologized, but that’s been forever etched in my memory and part
of what I thought about this whole thing, one, he shouldn’t have been hand-
picked to begin with. He was hand-picked because of his expansive view of
executive power. But then, secondly, the way he behaved at that hearing,
put aside even the facts, was outrageous. And he brought down not just the
Supreme Court but the whole judiciary with his demeanor and how he was so
partisan during that hearing.
From there, as you know, it launched into this additional very brief FBI
investigation to explore some of these other allegations. And that’s
something I’ve never really had much time to talk about and why I’m not
surprised at all by their findings and that is that we were put into this
room and we had one hour, and then the other party took an hour and we
could come back.
And I went back there three or four times, and it was literally stacks of
documents like this, all mixed up together. There would be cranks
basically, like tips, strange tips that were called in, just nutty things,
but then mixed in would be an actual one, like what you may have just
referred to, things like that. And it was impossible to triage, and then
you add to that the calls I got, as well as other senators got, which we
then tried to report.
And I look at this more than just the FBI. It’s really an issue of the
White House that was limiting the focus of this investigation. And that’s
why I’ve called to get those documents. I think that’s what we need. We
need those documents.
And I know it’s similar to what the House is talking about. You can’t make
a decision about impeachment or anything like that until you have this
O’DONNELL: When the process was stopped by Dr. Ford’s emergence and there
came a point where Jeff Flake decided to basically join with the Democrats
to delay the confirmation process and have more of an FBI background check,
what was very clear pretty quickly was that, OK, this was going to be a
time-limited FBI background check. And once I heard that, that the FBI
background check is time limited, I think we all knew then it can’t
possibly be complete because – I mean, you know that the background checks
that they run on your confirmations.
They don’t have any time limit on it. They don’t deliver you a background
check until they have finished it. And some of them take longer than
others for a bunch of reasons.
KLOBUCHAR: Exactly. I mean, I’ve had numerous judicial nominees, U.S.
attorney nominees that went on for months and they look at people from
their past from high school like you’re talking about, from college and can
take a long time.
And so that’s why this was - this time limit made it very hard to look into
all of these tips and allegations but the concerning part is when you see
those again, I can’t reveal what I saw but when you see these you know
there were people that desperately wanted to be contacted and had
information and it was just a sham is what it was in the end.
And it’s very unfortunate for our democracy and that’s why I continue to
believe and I’ve always believed that two sets of things have to come out.
The first is the 100,000 pages of documents from the time that he worked in
the White House and the White House counsel’s office.
We were denied access to those documents to begin with and the second were
these that we just discussed and that’s one of the reasons by the way
Lawrence, that I really want to be President because I think one, we have
to nominate judges that have the integrity to never act like that again at
And that we also want to have a process that works, a vetting process that
the public would be proud of and that is not what happened with this
President when he hand-picked this nominee.
O’DONNELL: Senator, we have to squeeze in a break. When we come back, I’d
like to ask you your position on impeachment, some of the fellow senators
and if presidential candidates have called for impeachment of Brett
Kavanaugh and I want to get to other campaign issues right after this
KLOBUCHAR: Yes, because I’m here in Philadelphia at the workers summit
O’DONNELL: We’re going to hear all about that.
KLOBUCHAR: Where there’s a lot going on with our campaign.
O’DONNELL: All right, we’ll hear all about it after break. We’ll be right
O’DONNELL: We’re back with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a candidate for President of
United States and Senator, as you know at least six of the Democratic
presidential candidates have called for the impeachment of Brett Kavanaugh
including 3 senators, Senator Warren, Senator Harrison, Senator Booker.
Senator Sanders has called for investigation. Joe Biden has called for an
investigation stopping short of impeachment at this point. What is your
position on impeachment of Brett Kavanaugh?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, I think I was the first to come out of anyone and I said
that we should have an investigation and the reason I said that is because
of what I just talked about. You need to have the information as compelling
as these reports are, you’ve got to look at the underlying documentation
and that is something that the House who can start an impeachment
proceeding have to obtain.
And I did my own request from the Senate Judiciary standpoint but the House
is going to have to get it to make those decisions and I do think we have
to uncover what this is really about is that they’re lying under oath,
right? That is at the core of this.
I hate lying Lawrence, I hate it and I certainly don’t want judges that lie
under oath and so that is what this is about at its core.
O’DONNELL: All right, let’s take a quick look at the latest NBC news
Wallstreet journal poll of the president’s candidates. Joe Biden is still
at the lead at 31; Elizabeth Warren, second at 25; Bernie Sanders at 14
people; Pete Buttigieg at 7; Kamala Harris at 5; Andrew Yang us at 4 and
there’s Amy Klobuchar at 2; Cory Booker at 2 but what might be the most
important number in the entire poll only 9 percent of voters have
definitely decided who they’re going to vote for.
That means 91 percent are still available for persuasion.
KLOBUCHAR: There you go.
O’DONNELL: And Senator Klobuchar, you are in Philadelphia, a crucial state
trying to persuade some of those 91 percent who are open to. What brings
your campaign to Philadelphia tonight?
KLOBUCHAR: A very important tour that we are taking to make the point that
remember what happened in 2016 Lawrence, we lost 3 states that we should
have won. Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. So this is the blue wall
tour of those important which should be blue states that we need to keep in
our column in this 2020 election.
And so for that reason plus the fact that I’m from the Midwest, watch for
those polls in Iowa coming up by the way Lawrence. Just a little tip and
I’ve been gaining momentum in fact even in that poll you just showed I
doubled my support. I’m ahead of 19 people in this field and one of the
points I’m going to make here where we’re going to meet with workers in
Pittsburgh and be with a number of students at the university of Pittsburgh
and go to a dairy farm in Wisconsin and meet with workers at the port there
in Detroit is, I want to talk about infrastructure, this President’s broken
He promised us a bunch of building of bridges and roads and rail and doing
something about rural broadband. These people haven’t felt it. Our farmers,
those soy bean farmers that are having their soybeans mount up in the bins
out there. The trade war, the effect that it’s had on people.
We’ve gotten to a $891 billion trade deficit where he’s treating these
farmers like poker chips in one of his bankrupt casinos so this is the
argument I’m taking it. I’m taking it right to where he won to areas in
Wisconsin and areas in Pennsylvania and I’m going to keep doing this
because yes, it’s about the early states where I think you’re going to see
me rising up and doing quite well.
We’re gaining endorsements all the time but it’s also about these blue wall
states that we have to win and as I said at the debate, I don’t want to be
the President for half of America. I want to be the President for all
America and I want to bring these people with me.
O’DONNELL: When you’re in Michigan, will you be meeting with the striking
auto workers at the GM plants and do you support their strike.
KLOBUCHAR: Of course I will. I don’t think you can go to Michigan and not
meet with them right now. Here they are, we’ve seen some really hefty
profits that GM has brought in and yet the workers, so many of them in
temporary status, so many of them not sharing profits, health care issues.
There’s all kinds of things and you’ve got to be able to have shared
prosperity not only with that company but really across America and that’s
why I favor increasing the minimum wage and why we have to do something
about anti-trust enforcement.
That was the subject of the hearing that I co-chaired today. There has to
be more balance here in our economy so everyone will share in the
prosperity and that is something that Donald Trump has not delivered for
these people that he made all these promises to.
All he’s done lately when it comes to the economy is whine and people don’t
want a whiner in the White House. They want someone that’s going to bring
people together, change the tone and move this country forward and that’s
where - that’s where I come in and what I’ve been talking about since the
moment I announced in the middle of that blizzard.
O’DONNELL: We all remember that shot in the middle of a blizzard.
Presidential candidate Senator Amy Klobuchar, thank you very much for
joining us again tonight. Please come back.
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you.
O’DONNELL: Really appreciate it.
KLOBUCHAR: Great to be on Lawrence.
O’DONNELL: Thank you. Coming up we have breaking news, Secretary of State
Mike Pompeo is now on his way to Saudi Arabia for meetings with the Saudi
government about the attack on Saudi oil facilities last weekend and votes
are being counted at this moment in the election in Israel tonight where it
is still too close to call.
New York Times columnist Roger Cohen, an expert on all of these matters in
the Middle East will join us next.
O’DONNELL: Tonight, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is traveling to Saudi
Arabia to meet with the Saudi government. The state department says they
will discuss the recent attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities as the
Secretary of State makes his way to Saudi Arabia.
The election in Israel tonight is at this point too close to call with
Benjamin Netanyahu trying to hold on to his position as Prime Minister and
joining us now is Roger Cohen an opinion columnist for The New York Times.
He has filed columns from both of these countries, Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Let’s start with Saudi Arabia. Although I know in discussions with Middle
East, we’re going to end up crossing borders on every part of these
subjects. Pompeo is on the way there. What do you - what do you make of the
Trump administration response so far granting and putting aside the fact
that the President’s tweets were idiotic. What their behavior–
ROGER COHEN, FMR FOREIGN EDITOR; THE NEW YORK TIMES: Which they regularly
O’DONNELL: Tweets aside the behavior what they’ve actually done so far.
COHEN: I think the response has been all over the place and I think the
Secretary - Secretary Pompeo is waiting into a big mess. He immediately
held Iran responsible for the attack on the oil facility. Then the
President was much more evasive. Then he said that we will do whatever the
Saudis bid us to do which is kind of a first for the United States and the
And you have the Houthis claiming responsibility. Meanwhile they’re 500
miles away and how they get a drone to go 500 miles into this precision
attack, I don’t know and the Saudis who always accusing Iran of being a
Nazi regime and so on, they’ve been pretty restrained.
I mean they’re not cooling for an all-out attack so it’s a very confused
response and it’s unclear what will happen. I personally do not think we’re
about to go to war with Iran.
COHEN: Well, first of all, the President for all his bellicose words knows
that his base does not want war. He became President saying he wanted to
get the United States out of foreign wars. He’s been trying a very messy
fashion to get the United States out of Afghanistan. That didn’t pan out
too well, hasn’t yet.
So on the eve of the U.N. General Assembly for the United States to start
bombing Iran, bombing oil facilities, bombing nuclear facilities, I don’t
know what. I mean Iran is a big serious country in the Middle East. It’s
got a very ugly regime but it’s a complex country that’s little understood,
And to embark on something like that would just seem way too risky and
really contrary to what this President for all his words actually wants to
O’DONNELL: Are you surprised by the election results tonight in Israel?
COHEN: I’m a little–
O’DONNELL: Which are not quite the results yet.
COHEN: Well Lawrence, I’m kind of a little encouraged as a long-time critic
Prime Minister Netanyahu. He was desperate before the election. I mean he
was saying he’s going to annex the Jordan Valley, he was going to annex all
the settlements. He was inciting hatred against the Arab population of
Israel, that’s 20 percent of the Israeli population.
And despite that, he has no route at least if the exit polls are accurate
to a Right wing coalition that would be able to accomplish those things
which in turn to bury any last chance of a two-state solution. So I think
he’s clinging on. He’s facing possible indictment. It looks like Benny
Gantz’s centrist blue and white movement party could have more votes than
Likud in which case President Rivlin would probably at least initially turn
it against and ask him to form a government.
And so I’m somewhat encouraged but it’s too early to say.
O’DONNELL: Is the lack of a mandate for Netanyahu, Netanyahu Fatigue
Scandal Fatigue in the Netanyahu administration?
COHEN: I think it’s both of those things. I think he’s been around as -
when he first became Prime Minister in 1996 and these possible indictments,
possibly as early as October are hanging over him for corruption, fraud and
So and Israel is divided and Prime Minister Netanyahu has basically said if
I am re-elected, I am going to set this country firmly on a course to one
state. Then how does Israel remain Jewish and democratic, absorbing several
million Palestinians into this one states.
So I think a lot of is a lot of Israelis are thinking cafe about that and
they seem to have said, we’re not ready for such a radical step.
O’DONNELL: Roger Cohen, thank you very much for joining us.
COHEN: Thank you.
O’DONNELL: Important night, really appreciate it. And when we come back a
new NBC news investigation into the environmental dangers of natural gas
production in Texas. This is important reporting from Cal Perry. You will
learn a lot, you do not want to miss this. That’s next.
O’DONNELL: Cal Perry is here tonight. He recently returned from Texas where
he was investigating the impacts of a controversial practice of burning off
natural gas known as flaring. Cal, what did you find?
CAL PERRY, NEWS CORRESPONDENT, NBC: Lawrence, the President’s playing a new
note in his rallies, his speeches, whatever you want to call them and that
is American energy independence and American power and it’s true, America
is about to surpass Saudi Arabia as the number one exporter of oil in the
We went to West Texas to find out for ourselves what’s going on and as is
the case with this President, he’s only telling the American people part of
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PERRY: This is what it looks like to be number one.
DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States has
tremendous wealth. The wealth is under its steep. We are now the number one
energy producer in the world.
PERRY: This is what that smells like.
SHARON WILSON, CERTIFIED OPTICAL GAS IMAGING THERMOGRAPHER, EARTHWORKS: I
guess it’s a little rotten egg smell. It’s really putrid and horrible and
you can’t breathe.
PERRY: Makes you dizzy, it making me dizzy.
WILSON: Yes, it will affect your eyes, it will give you headache and it can
ILAN LEVIN, ENVIRONMENTAL INTEGRITY PROJECT: People report the rotten egg
smell which is the hydrogen sulphide part. If you smell it, you should move
PERRY: Some residents of the Permian basin are already moving away citing
health concerns including Sue and Jim Franklin. So why did you move to Fort
SUE FRANKLIN, FORMER PERMIAN BASIN RESIDENT: To get away from the wells,
all the stink, all the stench, and the smell and all that.
PERRY: That smell is the toxic air being emitted from the energy platforms
through a process called flaring, burning the natural gas as well as sites
that are just leaking. Some say this dystopian landscape is slowly
poisoning West Texas.
JIM FRANKLIN, FORMER PERMIAN BASIN RESIDENT: There was a situation down in
the area where we were, a lot of the gas and oil wells were leaking and Sue
got very sick from fumes.
PERRY: So this is what they were living.
WILSON: Right, surrounded, they were surrounded and the tanks are venting a
profuse amount. This flare is just blasting hydrocarbon gases into the air.
PERRY: Sharon Wilson is a certified optical gas imaging thermographer and
part of the environmental group, Earthworks. Simply put she takes $100,000
infrared camera around the country to monitor methane and other emissions.
WILSON: These emissions are invisible to the naked eye. If the public could
see this, there would be no fracking day.
PERRY: The air pollutants, sulphur dioxide in the Permian basin exceeds
nationally mandated standards. And a recent study found that methane
trapped heat at a rate more than 80 times that of CO2 accounting for a
quarter of current global warming.
But this is Texas, a state where the energy companies tells the regulators
how much they are polluting.
LEVIN: Now when they flare that gas, when they burn that off, it releases a
lot of sulphur dioxides. It’s a dangerous pollutant. We got this massive
air quality problem in the Permian basin and the state of Texas and EPA are
just not monitoring out there and the reason they’re not monitoring because
their formulas are dependent on population.
PERRY: The Permian Basin is 86000 square miles. It extends from Texas into
New Mexico, put another way it’s bigger than the state of Kansas. There’s
only one functioning sulphur dioxide air monitor in the entire Texas
portion. It’s right here in Big Spring.
One of the two state regulators in charge the TCEQ, Texas Commission on
Environmental Quality declined to be interviewed on camera for this story
but the agency that oversees oil and gas permits here, the Texas Railroad
Commission did sit down with us.
RYAN SITTON, TEXAS RAILROAD COMMISSIONER: Well, if you are an American out
there and you say look, energy costs are a big deal to me. That filling my
gas tank up or I’m paying the electricity bill, energy prices are one of
the big things that here in my budget, well if I don’t let people flare
then the cost of developing energy goes up dramatically.
PERRY: It’s the most profitable oil field in the world, changing economics
for the entire country. But at the same time, it’s incredibly wasteful,
more gas is flared off here into the air than it would take to power all
the residential houses in Texas.
TODD STAPLES, PRESIDENT, TEXAS OIL AND GAS ASSOCIATION: It’s very
important, I think for consumers to understand the any energy source
produced at scale is going to have an environmental impact and so that’s a
factor that we need to be a part of the conversation.
WILSON: I want everybody to see this. So the Oil and Gas Industry has been
lying to the public for over a decade. They’re saying that natural gas is a
clean energy. You can say it’s not. And until they stop expanding and
drastically reduce their emissions, we will keep on this rapid warming
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PERRY: You can divide everybody involved in this into two categories. Those
who will engage with the public and those who will not. Included in those
who will not unfortunately, the regulatory agency that’s supposed to be
looking out for everybody to TCEQ.
They sent us this pamphlet I wanted to show you sort of what we’ve been
dealing with. It’s useless. It shows you which end the flame comes out of.
This is also an indication of how much respect these regulatory agencies
have for journalism in the age of Trump. Surprisingly included in those who
do want to talk about this Ryan Sitton from that Railroad Commission and
Shell said to NBC news in response, “Shell remains committed to achieving
our target of maintaining methane emissions intensity below 0.2 percent by
2025. Despite the administration’s proposal to no longer regulate methane,
Shell’s U.S. assets will continue to contribute to that global target.
While the law may change in this instance, our environmental commitments
So another very strange place we’ve reached where big oil is more concerned
about the environment than the executive branch.
O’DONNELL: We saw something similar in the auto industry on the emissions
issue. Cal Perry, great reporting.
PERRY: Thank you, sir.
O’DONNELL: Really, thank you very much for joining us.
That’s “Tonight’s Last Word.” “The 11th Hour” with Brian Williams starts
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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