Interview with Michael Moore. TRANSCRIPT: 12/20/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: See that? “Queens Man Impeached.” “Former
Jamaica Estates resident Donald Trump was impeached Wednesday by the U.S.
House of Representatives. He is the third president to be impeached in the
United States history - and the first from Queens.”
And the president`s impeachment did not make the first page of his hometown
paper. It did not even make the first 15 pages. It is tucked into the
bottom of page 16 below two other articles about the New York City subway.
Hey, look, the station at Estoria Boulevard is back open, neat. Below that,
“Queens Man Impeached.” Subscribe to your local paper. Do it right now. You
will get news that looks different from everywhere else, even when
everybody has to cover the impeachment.
Local reporters know their beat, right? They know their constituents. Best
new thing in the world. That does it for us tonight. We will see you again
on Monday. Now it`s time for the “Last Word” where Ali Velshi is in for
Lawrence tonight. Good evening Ali.
ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: I never don`t enjoy the last thing you say, but
that one was unique and special. All news is local.
MADDOW: I believe the paper – I will slide this under your – under the
door of your office.
VELSHI: I appreciate that. That`s the kind of thing you frame. Rachel,
have yourself a fantastic weekend.
VELSHI: See you next week.
As history was unfolding in the House of Representatives on Wednesday with
the impeachment of that Queens man, President Donald J. Trump, Michael
Moore wasn`t watching it on T.V. He felt that he had to be there. So he
watched the vote unfold from the front row of the house gallery.
Michael Moore is back in New York City tonight. He`s here to talk about
what that moment means to the country and how it`s going to play into
Democratic efforts to defeat Donald Trump in 2020. He`s also going to weigh
in on a new report talking about the improved chances of Democrats winning
control of the Senate.
And later in the show, Nancy Pelosi versus Donald Trump. The year is ending
as it began with another face-off between the two. This time over
impeachment. And today in an interview the Speaker of the House said she is
never afraid and she is rarely surprised.
We`ll discuss her impeachment strategy and look at the biggest moments from
the Speaker this year. At the end of the show there will be a surprise
appearance by Rachel. That`s all I`m going to tell you right now.
But we begin tonight with some blistering words that have clearly gotten
under Trump`s skin. He should be removed. That`s how the evangelical
magazine “Christianity Today” described Donald Trump`s behavior in a rare
and scathing editorial calling for his removal from office just one day
after he became the third president in history to be impeached, “That he
should be removed we believe, is not a matter of partisan loyalties but
loyalty to the creator of the Ten Commandments.”
Those were the words that Donald Trump read from a publication that
represents a core part of his base. Eighty percent of white Evangelicals
voted for Donald Trump in 2016. To this day, a similar percentage supports
So, of course, today Donald Trump attacked the magazine that was founded by
the late Reverend Billy Graham in a series of tweets falsely claiming, “A
far left magazine or very progressive as some would call it which has been
doing poorly and hasn`t been involved with the Billy Graham family for many
Christianity today knows nothing about reading a perfect transcript of a
routine phone call and would rather have a radical left nonbeliever who
wants to take your religion and your guns than Donald Trump as your
president. No president has done more for the Evangelical community and
it`s not even close.”
Later the Trump re-election campaign announced in an e-mail to supporters
that Donald Trump will launch the Evangelicals for Trump Coalition at an
event in January, but what Donald Trump doesn`t know is that he just gave a
group that has stuck by him reason to think twice about his behavior.
Donald Trump`s tweeting has amplified the words of a small publication that
argued that his actions in coercing Ukraine`s president to smear his
political rival are, “profoundly immoral.”
More from the article, “We believe the impeachment hearings have made it
absolutely clear in a way the Mueller investigation did not that President
Trump has abused his authority for personal gain and betrayed his
The impeachment hearings have illuminated the president`s moral
deficiencies for all to see. None of the president`s positives can balance
the moral and political danger we face under a leader of such grossly
The editorial concludes by posing an important question to Evangelicals who
have dismissed Trump`s behavior in exchange for policy wins like getting
I continue, “Consider what an unbelieving world will say if you continue to
brush off Mr. Trump`s words and behavior in the cause of political
expediency. If we don`t reverse course now, will anyone take anything we
say about justice and righteousness with any seriousness for decades to
Earlier today, I spoke with Mark Galli, the editor-in-chief of
“Christianity Today” who wrote the editorial.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK GALLI, EDITOR IN CHIEF, CHRISTIANOTY TODAY: Here we`re going to go
out in the world and tell people they should support the pro-Life cause
because it`s the righteous and moral and good thing to do and at the same
time it`s like we`re blinking or winking or looking the other way when our
president is doing things that are not merely unconstitutional but
blatantly immoral. How can we have any credibility on the issues we find so
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: As the “New York Times” noted today, “The president`s reaction was
a sign of how critically important the white evangelical voting bloc is to
his re-election. And the response from his leading Christian supporters
laced with animosity and mockery that mimicked Mr. Trump`s signature style
reflected how he has reshaped the evangelical political movement in his own
mold, much as he has done with the Republican Party.”
Leading off our discussion tonight is Michael Gerson who served as head of
speechwriting for George W. Bush and is a syndicated columnist for the
“Washington Post.” He was raised as an evangelical Christian.
Ben Rhodes, former deputy National Security adviser to President Obama. He
is an MSNBC political analyst. And Zerlina Maxwell, senior director of
Progressive Programming at SiriusXM radio, also an MSNBC political analyst.
And Zerlina, I did not know this about you, but you grew up in a home in
which your parents were pastors.
ZERLINA MAXWELL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.
VELSHI: Your reaction to this?
MAXWELL: Well, the entire presidency and really political phenomenon of
Donald Trump has put Christians to a test. Are they going to abide by
what`s actually in their bible and the things that Donald Trump reflects
are not in their bible.
Lying is immoral, cheating is immoral. And Donald Trump doesn`t just lie
and cheat. He cheats at all things. You know, he cheats on his wife, he
cheats at golf, he cheats in elections. And, you know, I think it goes to
the basic foundation of who he is as a person and what that represents.
And it`s a moment in which Christians have to say am I going to actually
abide by the teachings of the Jesus Christ and, you know, be opposed to
caging children, for example. One of the main teachings of the bible is to
protect the children.
And so for Christians to standby and not be the ones camped out protesting
the child separation policy, it really is an indictment on really what I
think is hypocrisy. They just want the judges. They want to limit women`s
reproductive freedom, and that`s all that matters, and that`s a problem.
VELSHI: Michael, talk to me about this editorial. It was well written. It
was well-considered. Donald Trump calls it a left leaning progressive
publication. That`s not entirely true, but Mark Galli was telling me they
don`t typically get accused of being lefties, but it`s not the most
conservative of evangelical publications.
MICHAEL GERSON, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST, “THE WASHINGTON POST”: Yes, it`s not
representative of a lot of evangelicalism in America. I think that`s fair
to say. It would be associated with what have been called Cosmopolitan
Evangelicals. People in Christian colleges and universities and NGOs and
other things like that.
I think that most evangelicals are not reading “Christianity Today” or
listening to this. They are getting their information about the world from
Fox News and from talk radio rather than from Christian sources.
And so, it`s not a surprise to some extent that they`re not having
Christian views. This is the main source of moral formation of a lot of
evangelicals in America, and that`s a real serious problem.
VELSHI: I want to read, Ben, an excerpt from this. It`s the last paragraph
in the editorial in which it says, “It`s time to call a spade a spade, to
say no matter how many hands we win in this political poker, we`re playing
with a stacked deck of gross immorality and ethical incompetence.
And just when we think it`s time to push all our chips to the center of the
table, that`s when the whole game will come crashing down. It will crash
down on the reputation of evangelical religion and on the world`s
understanding of the gospel. And it will come crashing down on a nation of
men and women whose welfare is also our concern.”
Ben, the difference between today`s polling on what evangelical Christians,
the support they have for Donald Trump and the exit polling that was shown
on Election Day barely moved. It`s a little bit less than it was on
Election Day in 2016. But as of today according to NPR/PBS/Marist, 75
percent of Evangelical Christians approve of Donald Trump, 22 percent
BEN RHODES, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I mean, clearly that support has
been constant, Ali. And look, this is why it`s important even if this is
not a particularly conservative publication. There`s always a chance that a
message from a part of your coalition is more likely to resonate with the
rest of your coalition than a message from the opposition.
I think what`s important here, though, Ali, is that Trump`s strategy is
constantly to obscure issues, to attack Democrats, to make process
arguments, to throw up so much sham that everybody is distracted from the
kind of core and moral issues as the editorial reminds us.
And frankly, the fact that what he did was wrong. It was immoral to try to
pressure a country to investigate his opponents just as so much of his
behavior every day is wrong. And I think Americans, even Trump`s supporters
intuitively understand that he lies, intuitively understand that he engages
in behavior that is immoral. And what Trump depends upon is distracting
them from that reality by attacking Democrats and by creating all these
The more you get to the kind of core issues that are in that editorial, I
think that is politically very important as an argument to make against
Trump that this is not about all the heat and noise, this is about the fact
that we have a fundamentally unethical and immoral person in an office that
is the most important office in the country.
VELSHI: Zerlina, do you have some sense of what would have caused and by
the way, in fairness to “Christianity Today” there was a “Washington Post”
article that mentions other times that “Christianity Today” has called out
silence among Christians in relation to Donald Trump and racism.
But what do you think is it that made this the time to do that? Because to
your point if there are going to be things – there may be things nothing
that offends you about Donald Trump. Clearly there are many Americans for
whom that`s true, but if you were to be offended by him, this month
wouldn`t be your first month.
MAXWELL: Right. I look back to Charlottesville as a moment at least for
me. I mean, I worked in the campaign in 2016 so I was opposed to Donald
Trump going back to birtherism and the racist lie about the first black
But in Charlottesville, that was really a moment for the country to say
wait, he just said that the people that were standing among the Klan and
Nazis were very fine people. That`s what he said.
And we have a moral obligation as citizens to say whether or not we`re OK
with a president who believes that those people are fine people or not
because white nationalism and the embrace of white nationalism by this
president is an existential threat to our national security.
So it`s a moral issue, but it`s also a security issue. So I don`t know if
perhaps they see his abuse of power in this instance as more serious
because it actually goes to the fundamental security of the country. But it
reeks of hypocrisy and it`s a little bit linked.
VELSHI: There`s an interesting point though, Michael Gerson, and that is
that there may be some people. They may not be most of America`s
evangelicals or the ones that are not watching this show or reading
“Christianity Today,” but there are some who are looking for a directional
change than what they are getting from other leaders in and the evangelical
GERSON: Well, I see that around the country. I go to churches that are
very conservative, Trump-oriented churches, but there are always people,
often women who are skeptical of the president. I think this helps them
feel less isolated. I think it can be very isolating if your opposition to
Trump in these communities so that`s to the good.
I think it could appeal to some minds as well. This is a case where the –
this is the base of the president`s base. And even small movements, small
erosion in that base, I think the president is deeply concerned about and
should be because it would have large consequences in our politics.
VELSHI: Ben Rhodes, another op-ed tonight published by Senator Jeff Flake,
not on this particular topic but speaking to other Republicans and asking
them why they`re doing what they`re doing particularly as it relates to the
upcoming Senate trial, if there is one, and the rules that Democrats are
asking Republicans to engage in.
Jeff Flake writes, “My simple test for all of us: What if President Barack
Obama had engaged in precisely the same behavior? I know the answer to that
question with certainty and so do you.” What`s he talking about?
RHODES: And so do I. Look, they were looking for something to go after
Obama to try to impeach Obama the entire time they had a majority, the
Republicans in the House, and they didn`t find it. And look, Michael was a
speechwriter in the White House and so was I.
And if you`re involved in political communication, what you know is the
most powerful thing you can say, is something that kind of cut through the
noise that everybody knows to be true. So what Jeff Flake said, everybody
knows to be true, this is hypocrisy.
The Republicans would be, you know, ripping out the gates of the white
house to get at Barack Obama if he had done anything remotely like what
Donald Trump did. Just like that article, also kind of cuts through the
noise and says something that everybody knows to be true, that Trump lies,
that he looks out for his personal interests, that he`s mistreated women.
I think this kind communication that doesn`t get into the back and forth
and the distractions and whatever conspiracy theories Trump or his House
Republican defenders are throwing at people, but just states plainly things
that people intuitively know to be true, that voters know to be true.
That`s the kind of case I think that people not just the Democratic
candidate but Americans who are concerned about the direction of this
country under Trump, that`s the kind of case people are going to have to
make not just in written pieces but around kitchen tables in this country
and in congregations over the course of the next year if we want to see a
VELSHI: And Michael Gerson, in this week we have seen some Republicans who
are anti-Trump starting to form a super PAC to actually work toward – this
is different. This is more than saying we don`t like Donald Trump, actually
supporting efforts to not have him re-elected. I`ve spoken to some of them,
and they say that may mean supporting Democrats in the upcoming re-
GERSON: Yes, I think that`s where a lot of Republicans who don`t like
Trump may be led. There`s not been an alternative, a viable alternative to
the president within his own party. I think that that`s a terrible shame.
So I think people may have to look outside of their party in order to find
the kind of change that`s necessary to get the president out of office.
VELSHI: When you say in that party, the complaint that I heard from so
many of these people who are joining this effort is that there`s no party
outside of Trump anymore. He has been remarkably successful considering he
had no part in the Republican Party before this, overtaking the apparatus
of the party.
GERSON: Yes, it goes back to the earlier issue. I think that these
coalition partners within the Republican Party have been willing to make a
compromise with an ethno-nationalism that, you know, has left very few
people disagreeing, and that that is going to be a source of shame for a
I think it`s going to hurt the party for generations in the view
particularly of the young who look at the moral center and moral focus of
the party and how that`s been lost. I think you`re going to have a huge
generational problem here that Republicans are going to have to address and
VELSHI: Michael Gerson, Ben Rhodes, Zerlina Maxwell, thank you to the
three of you for getting us started tonight. Coming up next, Michael Moore
on the impeachment of Donald Trump, what this week`s historic vote means
for Trumpism and what it could all mean for Mitch McConnell. Could 2020
mean the end of his majority leader title? A new report out today shows
better stakes for Democrats taking back the Senate. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It doesn`t really feel like
we`re being impeached.
Well, I don`t feel like I`m being impeached. It doesn`t feel to me. It
doesn`t feel like impeachment.
It doesn`t feel like impeachment.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I just left President Trump. He`s mad as hell
that they would do this to him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: All right, no matter what Donald Trump says or does, no matter how
the White House and his Republican allies spin it, his presidency is now
forever stained with the scarlet letter of impeachment.
Now, Donald Trump knows that as is evident in his twitter outburst over
impeachment. And now he wants to add a crucial defense line – a Senate
trial that will acquit him.
But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is holding the cards here. She`s getting
under his skin by not immediately sending the impeachment articles over to
the Senate until Senate Democrats agree to the rules for the impeachment
And reaching that acquittal will hangover the president during the next two
weeks as he consults with friends and supporters at his Florida resort. And
that`s how our nation wraps up this massively consequential week.
A historic moment that academy award winning filmmaker Michael Moore didn`t
want to miss. Early on Wednesday he wrote, “So, I woke up this morning in
New York City and I thought dang, they`re impeaching Trump today – just a
quick train ride away. So I dropped what I was doing, I headed to Amtrak,
hopped onboard. Pulling into D.C. shortly. Don`t know if I`ll get in, but
here`s for hoping.”
Well, he made it on time. He witnessed the impeachment vote of President
Trump. There he is, bottom left of your screen, right in the front row of
the House gallery.
Joining me now Michael Moore. He has a new podcast called “Rumble with
Michael Moore.” So you got there, you had no ticket, you didn`t tell
anybody you were coming. You just twitted it out. You get to Congress, what
MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER: Well, like I said I woke up and I thought, well,
we`re on the East Coast –
MOORE: – we got trains here. I mean, I`m from Motor City. It`s horrible
(ph). You know about the trains in Michigan.
MOORE: So, it`s really easy to get from here to D.C. Let`s just go. So my
sister and my producer and friend, we all got on the Amtrak. We were there
and I don`t know, 2 1/2 hours and we walked over to Capitol Hill and
started looking around seeing how we could get in. You know, I`ve made
these movies for many years –
VELSHI: Right. You`re standing around looking how to get into places.
MOORE: Well, I usually find –
VELSHI: And (inaudible) me, you did something like that.
MOORE: You know, actually it was 30 years ago tonight that (inaudible) –
VELSHI: Is that right?
MOORE: in the theaters. Yes.
VELSHI: A long time ago, you set out the idea that when you go somewhere
you`re going to get in.
MOORE: Yes, and that is generally the case. But then I thought it was
really cold. So I don`t want to wait around a lot trying to figure out
which door I`m going to go through.
VELSHI: But you`re from Michigan. You`re not scared of the cold, right?
MOORE: It was brutally cold in D.C. on that day, I`m telling you. It was
like, you know – so, I said what is the one office on Capitol Hill where I
will be treated with the respect I deserve, and of course we go to the
office of the member of Congress from Flint, Michigan.
MOORE: And so we walked in and said can we get in. And he said, well, I`m
going over there now, I`ll walk you in.
MOORE: So we walked in and we sat in the part of the balcony or the
gallery that`s for friends or family of members of Congress. So, we got a
really great seat. And, you know, it was obviously all the cliches, a
historic day, witnessing history.
But really, my sister and I, we said, god, this is kind of a flashback for
us. In 1965, our mom took us to Washington, D.C. She wanted to show us how
government worked. And we looked right over in the same balcony in this
gallery where we sat in 1965 as little tikes with my mom watching them pass
the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
MOORE: It was like – so to be – to have two events in history –
VELSHI: That are that consequential.
VELSHI: Did you sense it when you were sitting there? Did you get a sense
– not it`s a personal history, but of the moment? What does it mean for
America because these days these things come and go and Donald Trump
himself wasn`t paying attention? He was out giving a speech.
MOORE: Oh, don`t worry. He was paying attention. This has wrecked his last
couple of days if you follow him on twitter. It`s quite a storm of
insanity. It – being there – this is, I think, you know, when you watch
it on T.V. it is a completely different experience.
To be there in person and to really see the Republicans, I focused on them
most of the time than I was there and I was like, wow, this is not – now
we`re watching them in three-dimensional in the flesh and it was – it
really looked – as you looked at them, first of all you wondered what time
tunnel did they go in to find this group of people?
Like this is not America anymore. Whatever – they think that`s America, a
bunch of old white guys, you know, all angry, all bent out of shape, all
wrong – I just want to tell you, when I was growing up, you may not have
agreed with Republicans.
You would never think that they would stand and endorse the behavior of
someone like Donald Trump and what he did and the laws that he broke. And
how he was willing to corrupt this election again was just – it was just -
- but they`re whole M.O. as they went up to the podium, as they shouted and
– and then when they would leave and they would mock the Democrats, and
they were cynical about it.
And they were, you know, laughing and they were – it was just so weird.
And then at the end when the vote happened, the howl that came from the
Republican side, it was really this kind of very other worldly sound. You
can kind of play it back on T.V. You`d have to turn up the volume a little
bit because they`re not all miced in their chairs.
But being there, sitting right above them, the sort of after she declared
that the president was impeached – you know, it was just like, wow. And I
said to my sister, I said that is the sound of the dying dinosaur.
I can imagine when the dinosaurs knew that it was over, that their time was
up, they probably were letting out a hell a lot of howls of utter pain. And
those guys know it was over because that – this not – we are not that
VELSHI: Let me tell you what I didn`t see watching it on T.V. I didn`t see
an argument that said you know what, the guy was on the wrong side of
history, did the wrong thing, he shouldn`t have done what he did, there`s
probably a few things he`s done wrong.
We don`t really think this is for an impeachable offense, but you know,
here`s another option, here`s another road to go down. There wasn`t any of
that. There wasn`t any maybe you should impeach him but Donald Trump has
done something wrong.
There`s no motion for censure of Donald Trump coming from Republicans.
There has been nothing. It has been a consistent defense of Donald Trump`s
MOORE: So my question to you is, why do you think that is? Because either
it means that they can`t make a defense because they know they`re wrong,
obviously. What`s the old Richard Pryor line? Who are you going to believe,
me or your own lying eyes?
Everybody saw Trump admit that he tried to bribe the president of Ukraine
in order to get dirt on Joe Biden. That`s it. That`s the end of the story
right there. So the fact that they either obviously cannot defend that or
they actually don`t believe it`s wrong. And if that`s the case –
VELSHI: It`s a whole different problem.
MOORE: No. A problem, no. We`re in deep, deep trouble. And that`s why I
saw a sign there of protesters outside that said, impeach them all. And
it`s like, yes, this is really bigger than Trump now because I expect that
behavior from Trump what he did.
And let me tell you on that secret server in the White House where they
were hiding that Ukraine call, there are a dozen other things that his
loyal staffers have placed there in these last three years, and god I wish
we had a subpoena to see what else is on that server than just the Ukraine
But I`m telling you that the fact they enabled this and that they supported
it and they didn`t stand up for this country, they all have to go now. They
all have to go. I never would have said that before.
VELSHI: Hold that thought. I`ve got to squeeze in a break. We got to pay
for this thing. But when we come back, I want to talk to Michael about the
Democratic prospects of taking back control of the Senate.
And later as I told you, we got a surprise appearance from Rachel and in
fact Lawrence on tonight`s “Last Word.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: The Republicans have controlled the United States Senate since
2014 and all of that could change in 2020 according to The Cook, political
report, it appears that there will be at least 5 GOP-held seats in play
with the chance the Democrats could add one or two more. Now that puts
Democrats in a position to win the majority even if they lose Alabama and
I`m going to ask Michael about Michigan in a second. States with Republican
held Senate seats that are potentially in play include Arizona, Colorado,
Iowa, Georgia, Kansas, Maine and North Carolina.
Back with me Michael Moore. So Michael, it`s interesting that that to the
point you were making earlier. Republicans were not prepared to stand up
and some Republicans were saying this is enough, whether it`s Christianity
Today or it`s Jeff Flake writing his editorial or these Republicans who are
forming a super pack to see that Donald Trump is not elected.
There are some Republicans somewhere who are saying, this is not who we are
and this is not what the future of Republican - the Republican Party needs
MOORE: Well, they know they better do that or they`ll be the new wigs. You
know parties have dissolved and disintegrated not a lot but in our history,
there`s a couple of them that have come and gone and the Republican Party
is really at a point now of imploding and it could go - the election and
I`m not making any predictions but the elections in less than a year from
now could be so overwhelmingly - overwhelmingly the American people coming
to the polls and saying enough is enough and throwing so many Republicans
out in a way that that you would only see in a country that has a
Like there was a time in Canada–
MOORE: - a number of years ago where like a whole part of the country threw
out every - it was the Tories or the liberals or conservatives or whatever
but same thing happened in during the Tony Blair days.
MOORE: Where Scotland - there was one election where Scotland and Wales
threw them all - threw all the Tories out so this could happen.
I think smart Republicans know this that they have may have crossed the
line too far at this point. I think they have. I don`t think they get
another chance. I think that we have to remove as many of them as we can
and I think the seats that they think are safe are not as safe as they
People who are part of the largest party in America, the non-voters party,
they`ve been watching this whole thing and I think just enough of them, if
just two or three percent of them came out, it`s over 100 million people
that are the non-voters.
MOORE: If they just came out, they will - they will put the wood to these
guys like that - like they can`t even imagine it right now that this will
be over for them and this will be - the map you showed of the senate.
MOORE: All of that is possible. You`ve - you`ve got the - the Senator–
VELSHI: Martha McSally in Arizona.
MOORE: Stop right there.
MOORE: All right, she lost. Last November, she is - those who already voted
on her, they don`t want her and who is she running against, the husband of
Gabby Giffords, the hero astronaut–
VELSHI: Mark Kelly.
MOORE: Mark Kelly so boom, right there. There`s no reason we should lose
VELSHI: Cory Gardner in Colorado. Susan Collins in Maine.
MOORE: Well, sorry, sorry, you had - what nobody will forget what you did
regarding Kavanaugh - Justice Kavanaugh so you`re wrong, you`re wrong, we
got two seats open in Georgia.
MOORE: Let`s just win one of them. You know, North Carolina as you said
Colorado should already be - they know this math. I don`t - they don`t need
to listen to me to tell them, that they`re goose is probably cooked and
remember, when the Democrat is elected next November, we only need three of
those seats to flip, just three of them.
VELSHI: You got a podcast, Rumble with Michael Moore on tonight, you got
Robert De Niro, is it about the Irishmen?
MOORE: No, no, it`s about the Donald and Murdock and he lets loose in a way
that is so refreshing as you can only imagine. There`s 68 minutes of Robert
De Niro and me in conversation.
VELSHI: I can only imagine.
MOORE: So it`s my first week for my podcast. This is the first time I`ve
VELSHI: Oh, is that right? This is the beginning?
MOORE: Yes, I`ve never done this, this is just the beginning. Right now–
VELSHI: Oh, I can imagine–
MOORE: –And you`ve got to come on.
VELSHI: I absolutely will.
MOORE: You`ve got to come on to this podcast and–
VELSHI: Thank you my friend. Good to see you as always.
MOORE: Talk economics with me.
VELSHI: We would love that. Michael Moore, I appreciate it. Good to see you
my friend. Good luck on the podcast.
MOORE: Thank you.
VELSHI: We`ll be enjoying it. Coming up Speaker Nancy Pelosi, conducting a
master class in political strategy as the year draws to a close. We`ll
discuss that when we come back.
MOORE: She`s a genius.
VELSHI: I`m never afraid and I am rarely surprised. It`s not my words.
That`s what Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Politico today when asked whether she
was afraid to send Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the articles of
impeachment against President Trump.
Republicans are desperate to portray Pelosi as afraid or erratic or in
over. Her head because they are afraid of her after one stinging defeat
after another in 2019. Remember, the year started with Pelosi taking the
speaker`s gavel in the middle of a government shutdown.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): This senseless shutdown is inflicting great pain
in every part of our country. This is directly related to our security. The
Trump shutdown is undermining that. We`re not paying people to keep us
safe. Let`s pay the employees.
Maybe he thinks it`s OK not to pay people who do work. I don`t and my
caucus doesn`t either.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Speaking Pelosi used her power to take away the President`s media
attention. She refused him an invitation to Congress to deliver the State
of the Union.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: He can make it from the Oval Office.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: After 35 days, President Trump surrendered to Pelosi and reopened
the government without winning any of his central campaign promises. Trump
ultimately got his State of the Union invitation.
In case it seems like so many moons ago and you don`t remember it, you will
remember this. At that speech, Pelosi delivered the clap that was seen
around the world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We must reject the politics
of revenge, resistance and retribution and embrace the boundless potential
of cooperation, compromise and the common good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Trump did bare much better during closed door meetings with Pelosi.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: Sometimes when we`re talking to him, he agrees and I said one time,
who`s in charge here because you agree and then all the sudden something
changes. What goes on there? Who`s in charge?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: One of the most incredible standoffs between Nancy Pelosi and
Donald Trump happened in a meeting when Speaker Pelosi literally stood up
to the President after his decision to pull out of northern Syria.
The moment was captured by a White House photographer. Here`s how Lawrence
described this iconic photo on the day Donald Trump tweeted it to the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: It tells the story of the Trump presidency
better than any other photograph. Nancy Pelosi immediately placed that
photograph on her Twitter page and she will never replace it with a better
It is the perfect portrait of the child`s President. The Trump face is full
of the confusion and fear of a 4-year old boy being rebuked by an adult in
the room full of adults who know he shouldn`t be there.
50 years from now schoolchildren studying American history will come up on
this photograph and they will instantly know who was in charge in that
room. The adult standing and pointing at the pained face across the table.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: And then there is Speaker Pelosi as the expert explainer of Donald
Trump`s actions just this week. Here`s how Nancy Pelosi responded to
Trump`s attacks on the late democratic congressman John Dingell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: What the President misunderstands is that cruelty is not wit. Just
because he gets a laugh for saying the cruel things that he says doesn`t
mean he`s funny. It`s not funny at all. It`s very sad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: When we come back, I`ll be rejoined by Neera Tanden and Zerlina
Maxwell to discuss Nancy Pelosi`s impeachment strategy and how she stood up
to President Trump, this year. That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PELOSI: The Russians were the beneficiaries of any withholding of
assistance or encouragement to the Ukraine. Again Putin benefits. If
Russians benefited, Putin did, when President placed some doubt about our
commitment to NATO right from the start of his administration. All roads
lead to Putin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Joining us now Neera Tanden, former senior adviser to President
Obama and Hillary Clinton. She worked in the White House during the Clinton
impeachment and is now the CEO of the Center for American Progress.
Zerlina Maxwell is back with us. Thank you to both of you for being with
us. Neera, we are - you know, a year ago, it was January of 2019 where we
discussed the fact that Nancy Pelosi is going to be a big thorn in Donald
Trump`s side and she has proved to be that the whole time.
Now as Donald Trump is waiting to be exonerated or found not guilty by the
Senate, she`s not offering him that option.
NEERA TANDEN, CEO, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Yes, I think throughout
this year Speaker Pelosi has demonstrated that she basically had Trump`s
number. He`s a as she has said, a weak and insecure man who is surrounded
by a Republican Party that is essentially toady to him.
And she and she is equal if not better and so I think, she`s holding her
cards very well. She held her caucus together incredibly well, very few
defections on the impeachment vote, an important - important vote that will
tarnish Donald Trump for the rest of his days.
VELSHI: Zerlina, the other day, the letter - that letter that Donald Trump
sent to Nancy Pelosi, so much of it told you so much about Donald Trump but
so much of it spoke to his relationship with Nancy Pelosi. It felt like he
It was clear that the White House counsel was not involved in that letter.
There was - there was an anger and resentment in it and weirdness but
that`s to be given. What impact is Nancy Pelosi having on Donald Trump?
ZERLINA MAXWELL, MSNBC ANALYST: I think she triggers him a little bit,
right? I think she triggers some of that insecurity that he feels which is
why he performs his masculinity in such a specific way. He tries to be the
strong man, the tough man, the bully and she reveals to all be a con and I
think that really gets under his skin.
I also think that you know, women in this particular moment since the
Women`s march have essentially stood up and said this particular man said
you could grab a woman by the you know what, you can do whatever anything
you want to a woman. It was really that line that got to me the most and
that sort of has - I`ve channeled a certain amount of rage since then.
But I`m not the only one and I think that what Nancy Pelosi strength
represents is a moment where women are standing up to the male bullies
whether they be you know, on the street cat calling you, in your workplace
or in the White House and I think that Nancy Pelosi is a good example to
women of how to stand up for yourself and for your country.
VELSHI: Neera, what happens now because Nancy Pelosi doesn`t take chances.
She knew she`d have the votes for the drafting of the articles of
impeachment or the investigating - impeachment investigation and then the
Now she is an interesting place because Mitch McConnell is going on TV and
he`s telling everyone who will listen that I`m going to do what I did with
judges. I`m going to do with Obama not getting his appointments through. I
am going to hold firm. We`re not going to hold a trial. I`m not going to be
- I`m not interested in witnesses and I`m not interested in testimony.
Donald Trump is going to be exonerated by the Senate.
TANDEN: Yes, so I think this is the issue which is Mitch McConnell, he does
this with every fight just to be clear. He did this on the ACA. He did this
on taxes. He does it on judges. He declares finality and I think the
importance of what Speaker Pelosi is doing is through this next few weeks,
the number one concern the American people have is a fair trial and she is
putting pressure and she is making clear to the country that Mitch
McConnell who is, let me remind you, much less popular than leader Pelosi.
In fact essentially, the least popular politician in America, he is
declaring an unfair trial and I think through her withholding the articles
of impeachment, she`s basically made clear that she`s not accepting the
finality of Mitch McConnell`s tactics.
She`s giving more room to negotiate the Senate Democrats. Now I mean, I
think it`s really up to Americans to say that it`s vital that we have that
fair process but she is given - she`s given that people who want a fair
process more room to maneuver.
VELSHI: Zerlina, Tim Ryan, Rep. Tim Ryan who`s running for President, he
wanted the speakership at one point. He challenged Nancy Pelosi. He led a
bit of a revolt about her, against her. He was on with Ari Melber
yesterday. Let`s listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH): She has been so skillful over the last few weeks and
months, she is the absolute top of her game. I think her skillfulness level
is that quite frankly of Lyndon Johnson or Franklin Roosevelt in their
prime. To watch this impeachment happen and her completely take away the
idea that we were obsessed with the impeachment because we passed the trade
deal, we passed an appropriations bill.
Both of those were bipartisan. Kudos to her because she`s done a phenomenal
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: That`s meaningful because Tim Ryan is part of a group of people who
think Nancy Pelosi`s been around too long, needed to move on and that was a
face - a challenge she faced as soon as she took her speakership.
MAXWELL: Yes, at the time it was funny because you know Tim Ryan, he had
Seth Mouton sort of come out and say, we`re going to challenge Pelosi, we
need a new generation of leadership and in some ways, that`s true but not
in this case.
In this case, you needed somebody who is a tactician who knew about
strategy, who can whip those votes and who was strategic in the long term.
If you look back at how she started this process, she looked like she did
not want to impeachment this President. She looked like she was the last
person in America who wanted to impeachment him and she waited until they
had 218 votes in her caucus and then she pulled the trigger.
That`s what she did and in hindsight, it looks like it was a perfectly you
know, smooth strategy but at the time she got so much criticism so I`m glad
Tim Ryan is at least able to admit that.
VELSHI: Zerlina, thank you Zerlina Maxwell and Neera Tanden, thank you to
both of you. Tonight`s last word is from Rachel and Lawrence.
VELSHI: All right, if you gather with the family on Christmas Eve and
you`re couple of spiked eggnogs into the night, we encourage you to keep
the TV tuned to MSNBC. We`re going to have brand new shows for you all
night long and during THE LAST WORD holiday special, you`re going to learn
about Lawrence`s paper two minutes of every workday, the handoff from
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: Now it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell. Good
O`DONNELL: Good evening Rachel.
O`DONNELL: Good evening Rachel.
O`DONNELL: Good evening Rachel. It`s been a real frenzy of a day of news.
We`ve never seen anything like.
MADDOW: We`ve never seen anything like it. I`m already you with it.
O`DONNELL: You have like almost half the morning to yourself tomorrow, the
way this is going.
MADDOW: Am I dead. Are those angels singing? There is a new TV show on the
CW called Bat Women and I have a voice role.
O`DONNELL: What is your character`s name?
MADDOW: Vesper Fairchild.
O`DONNELL: Vesper Fairchild, that`s my new Starbucks name. Vesper
MADDOW: He is old. He has gout. He has been very unhappy in jail, not to
mention lonely. Lawyers for the President`s campaign chair Paul Manafort
have cited his health, his age, his conditions of confinement.
O`DONNELL: You threw me there. I thought I was being introduced when I
heard you say, he`s old - and once you said he`s in jail, OK, it`s someone
MADDOW: I know nothing about your gout status and I don`t think you`re that
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: All right, you got to watch on Tuesday to see the rest. Christmas
Eve at 10:00 PM Eastern, THE LAST WORD Holiday Special. That`s going to do
it for tonight`s show. Thank you for watching. “The 11th Hour with Brian
Williams” begins right now.
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 content.>
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