Interview with Michael Moore. TRANSCRIPT: 12/20/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.

Michael Gerson, Michael Moore, Neera Tanden



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.


MADDOW:  Thanks.


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

constitutional oath.


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

immoral character.”


The editorial concludes by posing an important question to Evangelicals who

have dismissed Trump`s behavior in exchange for policy wins like getting

conservative judges.


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.





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





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.




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.



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

long time.


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

appeal to.


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.







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.




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.


MOORE:  Yes.


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

Americans –


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.”






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

or Michigan.


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

look like.


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

parliamentary system.


Like there was a time in Canada–


VELSHI: Right.


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.


VELSHI: Right.


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.


VELSHI: Right.


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

done this.


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.




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.




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.




PELOSI: He can make it from the Oval Office.




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.





of revenge, resistance and retribution and embrace the boundless potential

of cooperation, compromise and the common good.




VELSHI: Trump did bare much better during closed door meetings with Pelosi.




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?




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





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.




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.




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.




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.






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.




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.



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

wrote it.


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

impeachment vote.


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.




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





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





MADDOW: Now it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell. Good

evening Lawrence.


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





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