Interview with Tom Steyer. TRANSCRIPT: 1/9/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O’Donnell.

Guests:
Marcy Kaptur, Ed Markey
Transcript:

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

 

And thank you. Thank you for that graphic that you put up on your wall

about campaign ad spending, which is the most extraordinary graphic you

have done in a while.

 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, “TRMS”: It took us two and a half days to figure

out how to do it. We had to change the whole studio and we had to like act

it out and block it like it was a play.

 

O`DONNELL: I love the dramatic moment where the whole scale has to change.

 

MADDOW: Yes.

 

O`DONNELL: So, we – I was watching that happen, and I started kind of

jumping up and down and saying, we need that. We need that. So, we`re going

to cut a piece of that.

 

MADDOW: OK.

 

O`DONNELL: And use it later in the show as part of our introduction to

candidate Tom Steyer.

 

MADDOW: Very good.

 

O`DONNELL: Who is the second-biggest column of spending in that graphic.

He`s joining us tonight for his very first interview on this program as a

presidential candidate on a day when he`s surging in the polls and just

qualified, as you pointed out –

 

MADDOW: Yes.

 

O`DONNELL: – for next week`s debate. There was only going to be five

people on that stage, and now, Tom Steyer is going to be in that stage.

 

MADDOW: That two polls that came through for him tonight, he not only

qualified in them, he like qualified with an exclamation point, did hugely

well in those polls. And he is the guy from who you have to change the

scale of the map in order to account for his spending.

 

O`DONNELL: I like the question mark you put in your air in the voice when

you reported the part about he`s in second place in South Carolina in one

of those polls.

 

MADDOW: Yes.

 

O`DONNELL: And I – I think we all have a question mark about that.

 

MADDOW: Exactly.

 

O`DONNELL: That is a surprise.

 

MADDOW: I am looking forward to your interview.

 

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel, and thank you for the graphic. It`s going to

be great.

 

MADDOW: All yours, my friend.

 

O`DONNELL: As I was just saying to Rachel, the stage was all set, it was

set for next week`s Democratic presidential campaign debate. Only five

candidates qualifying this time until tonight in these two dramatic polls

were released state, state polls showing Tom Steyer surging in Nevada,

surging in South Carolina. He`s now in third place in Nevada and as we said

second place in South Carolina.

 

Tom Steyer will join us at the end of this hour for his first interview as

a presidential candidate here on THE LAST WORD. And I will ask him about

that stunning graphic that Rachel used in her program showing just how much

money Tom Steyer has spent to get to this point where the polls can lift

him on to that debate stage.

 

Frank Rich will also join us later in the hour. His latest article for New

York magazine is about what will happen after Trump. Frank Rich writes, all

cults come to an end often abruptly, and Trump`s Republican Party is

nothing if not a cult.

 

Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey will be joining us tonight. He was in that

briefing with the Trump administration officials yesterday about Iran, the

one about the briefing about which one Republican senator said was

absolutely insane. That was the Republican senator`s description of it. It

was the worst briefing that that Republican senator had ever seen. We`ll

get Ed Markey`s description of that briefing and we`ll ask Senator Markey

if he thinks enough Republicans will vote to subpoena John Bolton to

testify in these Senate impeachment trial.

 

Today, Nancy Pelosi divided her public comments about equally, between what

she called the two I`s, Iran and impeachment. Once again tonight, the

articles of impeachment will spend the night in the House of

Representatives in the custody of Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

 

Here is why she said today about why she has not sent the articles of

impeachment against President Trump to the United States for trial.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REPORTER: So, are you holding onto the articles of indefinitely?

 

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): No. I`m not holding them indefinitely. I`ll send

them over when I`m ready, and that will probably be soon. We want to see

what they`re willing to do and the manner in which they will do it.

 

But we will not let them say, oh, this is just like Clinton, fair is fair.

It`s not. Documents, documentation, witnesses, facts, truth, that`s what

they`re afraid of.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: Earlier this week, a few, and only a few, Democratic senators

started to make public comments suggesting that Nancy Pelosi should send

the articles of impeachment to the Senate now, but today, Democratic

senators are now all fully supportive of Speaker Pelosi`s strategy.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

REPORTER: Would you like to see the speaker send the articles over now?

 

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA): Well, I think that`s up to the speaker.

 

REPORTER: Should the articles of impeachment be sent over to the Senate

now?

 

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): It is appropriate for Speaker Pelosi to do

everything she can to secure witnesses. Given the public statements of

Leader McConnell yesterday, I expect this is going to move forward fairly

quickly, but I fully respect the prerogative of the leader of the House to

ensure there is as fair a trial as we could possibly secure.

 

REPORTER: You told yesterday that you support Pelosi sending the articles

over. A few of your Democratic colleagues have echoed the same. Have you

heard from any other Democratic colleagues that it`s time to kind of get on

with the trial?

 

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): What I have heard from my Democratic

colleagues very emphatically is profound respect for the speaker`s

decision. She has waited, and the result has been additional evidence.

 

O`DONNELL: So they`re all back in line with Speaker Pelosi now after there

was a few wanderings off in their own directions.

 

President Trump continued to engage in his jury tampering strategy by

meeting with Senator Mitch McConnell yesterday at the White House where

they, according to a source, discussed the format of the Senate trial and

Senator McConnell gave the president his current reading of where the

Republican jurors stand in the trial that hasn`t yet begun.

 

As Mitch McConnell`s impatience with Nancy Pelosi`s holding on to the

articles of impeachment grows, today, Mitch McConnell said this.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): If the speaker continues to refuse to take her

own accusations to trial, the Senate will move forward actually with the

business of our people.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: OK. So there is the threat. And the people`s business that Mitch

McConnell said the Senate would turn to next week, if they`re not ready to

go to trial on the impeachment case, is the revised version of NAFTA, which

just passed the Republican controlled Senate Finance Committee just this

week and is not ready to go to the Senate floor because the other

committees of jurisdiction in the Senate are moving so slowly.

 

Nancy Pelosi, on the other hand, got the revised version of NAFTA passed

through all the committees of jurisdiction in the House and passed on the

House floor last year. And like virtually everything else, the Pelosi-run

House of Representatives has passed and sent to the Senate. The revised

version of NAFTA is still waiting for action in the United States Senate.

 

So when Mitch McConnell threatens today to turn to doing the people`s

business if he doesn`t get the articles of impeachment next week, Nancy

Pelosi said this.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

PELOSI: He said if you don`t send them over, I`m going to pass the Mexico-

U.S.-Canada trade agreement. OK.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: Mitch McConnell cannot threaten Nancy Pelosi by saying he`s

going to pass the legislation that he has sent to the Senate and wants him

to pass. That kind of threat will give Nancy Pelosi the incentive to hold

the articles of impeachment longer.

 

One reason Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump desperately want the articles

of impeachment sent to the United States immediately is what has happened

in the time that Nancy Pelosi has been holding on to those articles.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

PELOSI: In the past few weeks since we`ve had this, shall we say, impasse

because they won`t reveal the terms of engagement, many things have been

accomplished that are collateral benefit to the discussion, and they relate

to, on December 20th, new e-mails showed that 91 minutes after Trump`s

phone call with the Ukrainian president, a top OMB aide asked DOD to hold

off on sending military aid to the Ukraine, directly related to that call.

 

On December 29th, this report public revolutions about Mulvaney`s role in

the delay of the aid, the efforts of lawyers and what has to justify the

delay and the alarm that the delay caused within the administration.

 

Last Thursday, newly unredacted Pentagon e-mails exposed serious concerns

by administration officials about the legality of the president`s hold on

the aid. And just this week, Bolton announced that he would comply with a

subpoena compelling his testimony. As lawyers have stated, he has new

relevant information.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: Leading off our discussion tonight is the Democratic

Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur of Ohio. She is the co-chair of the House

Ukraine Caucus, and her district includes Toledo, Ohio, where President

Trump held a campaign rally tonight.

 

Jason Johnson is politics editor of TheRoot.com and professor of politics

and media at Morgan State University. And Eugene Robinson is the associate

editor and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for “The Washington Post.” Both

Jason and Eugene are MSNBC political analysts.

 

And, Congresswoman Kaptur, first of all, I want to go to what the reaction

was in the House of Representatives in the last couple of days when you

started to hear senators like Richard Blumenthal and a few others saying

Speaker Pelosi should send us the articles of impeachment now. They have

reversed themselves, the ones who started to say those things, because it

seems Speaker Pelosi is in complete control of what this strategy is.

 

What was your reaction in the House when you heard those senators start to

make their own suggestions about it?

 

REP. MARCY KAPTUR (D-OH): Well, let me just say that I think that it`s very

important that we create a process whereby the truth be known. And the

administration obstructed justice on so many levels in terms of witnesses

who were to come before us, before our committees of travel logs and

meetings that were held relative to Ukraine and the withholding of aid to

Ukraine.

 

We were not able to assemble that information in the house. So I think what

the speaker is doing is very proper, and I`m glad to see that this Senate,

which was less focused on what we have been doing in the house, are paying

attention and seeing that this temporary pause is an effort to obtain the

truth. And I think when John Bolton came out and made some indications that

he was willing to come to testify, I think that began to move the dial.

 

O`DONNELL: And is it also part of the speaker`s strategy to, because the

State of the Union Address is scheduled for February 4th, to delay this

trial long enough so that Donald Trump does not have a verdict from that

trial before the State of the Union Address?

 

KAPTUR: Well, that sounds like a good strategy to me.

 

O`DONNELL: So you think it`s politically wise to play the politics of that

scheduling and even if that becomes publically apparent that that`s what

the speaker is doing, that there is a political element to the scheduling

so that the president doesn`t have the kind of State of the Union Address

that he might want to have?

 

KAPTUR: Well, everything that we do is political. But I think that if we

can, in fact, have clarity from the Senate a little bit more on the kinds

of witnesses they will call, what we were not able to do in the House,

which is so vital to making sure that we abide by the strictures of the

Constitution, no one is above the law. I can tell you in terms of my own

committee, the fact that Secretary Perry that led the delegation back in

may, he was unwilling to give us his travel logs. He was unwilling to tell

us with whom he met, what he did.

 

Informally he would say things to me. He would never say it on the record,

and he`s left the administration. Oh, my goodness. That is really – the

American people deserve to know what these individuals who were Trump

appointees were doing and who they were speaking with, particularly in view

of the fact that this military aid was then withheld.

 

We simply don`t know and we need to know and we don`t have that evidence.

 

O`DONNELL: Gene Robinson, as I watch this strategy play out, I was

surprised as anyone that Nancy Pelosi decided to hold on to the articles of

impeachment. I couldn`t have told you exactly what the strategy is. I still

can`t.

 

However, when I see it has driven Mitch McConnell to go to the Senate floor

and threaten Nancy Pelosi by saying, if you don`t give me the articles of

impeachment, I`m going to do exactly what you want me to do.

 

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Exactly.

 

O`DONNELL: And start – I mean, Mitch McConnell has lost on this.

 

ROBINSON: Exactly. He keeps going to the floor and trying to say something

that will dislodge these articles.

 

And what Nancy Pelosi is doing is essentially, for whatever reason, I

confess I`m not sure I understand – actually, I`m sure I don`t understand

fully her strategy. But what she`s doing is what Mitch McConnell does,

which is just to be stubborn and not to care what sort of attacks she gets.

 

That`s what McConnell does all the time. Mitch don`t care. And he`s been

very successful that way.

 

Nancy Pelosi is basically doing the same thing, and she essentially said,

read my lips today. I`ll send them when I`m ready. And I gather that`s

exactly what she`s going to do and there is nothing Mitch McConnell really

can do about that.

 

O`DONNELL: And, Jason Johnson, you can see the shape of some of the

strategy, but I`m sure Nancy Pelosi has more in mind than I can see. One of

those things is that moment where she said, here is all the things we have

learned since the articles of impeachment passed. We have learned all this

while I have been holding on to them, and as this Senate trial, you know,

is waiting to get started.

 

Also, you look at what Mitt Romney said about he`s completely in favor of

witnesses testifying, John Bolton in particular. He`s basically said, I am

a vote for that. There is at least one Republican vote for that.

 

So far, you know, I don`t see any price Nancy Pelosi is paying here in

holding on to these, and I can see what she`s been gaining so far.

 

JASON JOHNSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. Lawrence, like why throw

pearls before swine? There is no reason for her to give this report, give

the articles of impeachment over to Mitch McConnell so he can throw them in

the circular file because she knows that`s what he wants to do.

 

The longer that Nancy Pelosi has waited, but it increases the likelihood

that Chuck Schumer and other Democrats, despite some grumbling this weak,

will have a stronger hand in negotiating how the eventual trial occurs.

That`s the most important thing here. It doesn`t really matter when the

articles of impeachment come over, as long as the process is one that

everybody can agree with. I don`t care if that happens in February. I don`t

care if that happens in March.

 

Even the Democrats running for president right now realized there is a

value to being actively involved in this process even if they`re

campaigning.

 

So, I think it`s been a smart idea. I wish the Democrats in the Senate had

kept their mouths quiet because obviously they were getting nervous for

reasons that make no sense. But ultimately, this is a good idea on Pelosi`s

part.

 

And another, I also said it quickly, Mitch McConnell did this all the time.

He held up Merrick Garland. How could anyone complain about what Nancy

Pelosi is doing when hundreds of judges under the Obama administration were

held without a position under Mitch McConnell?

 

O`DONNELL: The other thing that happened today, Congresswoman Kaptur, while

Nancy Pelosi has been holding on to the articles that is buried in a bunch

of inanity that Donald Trump spoke today in a public discussion in front of

reporters, I don`t want to call it a press conference, which included

praise for the Village People and their gay anthem YMCA, which we will get

to later in the program and show. In the middle of all that, when he was

asked about John Bolton testifying, he said that it was OK with him. He had

no problem with it. He just wants to protect executive privilege.

 

So, he just in that moment released his directive to John Bolton to not

testify so the door has become even wider open to John Bolton`s testimony.

 

KAPTUR: We welcome John Bolton. I hope that he will come before the Senate.

 

O`DONNELL: And what about the House? Will the House also try to get Bolton

testimony at some point?

 

KAPTUR: I would welcome that. I`m not on any of those committees of

jurisdiction. All I know is that the situation with Ukraine is extremely

serious. It is the scrimmage line for liberty in Europe today.

 

Russia is working in many maligned ways and adjoining countries and frankly

in this country through cyber warfare and so forth to create disunity and

to disrupt our normal order of doing business. And they`re very serious.

They want to break up our NATO alliance. They have invaded several

countries including Ukraine most recently in order to prevent accession

(ph) to the greater European Union and ultimately to NATO.

 

And this is serious. This is serious security business for our country and

for liberty-loving people everywhere. So I think that we have to look below

some of the theatrical politics here and think about strategically what is

at stake for us and the tremendous price that this country has paid for the

liberty of our allies.

 

O`DONNELL: The co-chair of the House Ukraine Caucus, Congresswoman Marcy

Kaptur, Eugene Robinson, Jason Johnson – thank you all for joining us and

starting us off tonight. Really appreciate it.

 

JOHNSON: Thanks.

 

O`DONNELL: And coming up in this hour, we will be joined by the Democratic

presidential candidate who surprised the field tonight and suddenly

qualified for next week`s debate stage after a big surge in the polls. He`s

now in third place in Nevada, second place in South Carolina. He will make

his first appearance as a presidential candidate here on THE LAST WORD

later in this hour.

 

And up next, Senator Ed Markey.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: Tonight, the House of Representatives passed a new War Powers

Resolution to restrict military action against Iran. The vote was largely

along party lines with three Republicans voting in favor of the resolution

and eight Democrats voting against the vote. It came the day after the

House and Senate were briefed on the Iranian session with closed door

sessions with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary Mark Esper

and CIA Director Gina Haspel.

 

Republican Senator Mike Lee called the Senate version of that briefing

yesterday, quote, these are his words, absolutely insane.

 

Today, the Senate`s Democratic leader Chuck Schumer revealed new details of

what happened behind closed doors yesterday.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Only 15 senators were able to ask questions

before the administration decided they had to go. As many as 82 senators

were left hanging in the balance without a chance to ask their questions.

It was a sight like none I have ever seen in my time in the Senate.

 

The White House representative assured me the group would be back in short

order. I said, within a week? He said that in the room, the SCIF, he said

they will definitely come back.

 

This morning the White House told me they would explore coming back.

They`re already backing off, as usual.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: Today, Republican Senator Mike Lee responded to Republican

Senator Marco Rubio`s claim that yesterday`s Senate briefing was a good

briefing.

 

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

 

REP. MIKE LEE (R-UT): I think he must have been in a different briefing

than I attended. I literally find it difficult to imagine how my friend

Marco, who is smart, who listens carefully, who caring about these things,

how he could emerge from that meeting and say that it was good.

 

It was terrible. I think it was an unmitigated disaster.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Democratic Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts.

He`s a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

 

And, Senator, here is a question I haven`t asked you before. Who do you

agree with, Mike Lee or Marco Rubio?

 

SEN. ED MARKEY (D-MA): You know, actually it is a good day for America when

you can ask that kind of a question.

 

O`DONNELL: It is.

 

MARKEY: When the Republican Party is actually having a debate over a Trump

policy. So, you know, I attended the same briefing that Senator Lee did, a

frustrating, you know, session where information was grudgingly being

dispensed by the cabinet officials of Donald Trump. And it was almost a tag

team where each one of the senators who was asking a question was trying to

elicit another small morsel of information from them.

 

And then what they announced after 75 minutes like it was a game show,

time`s up. We`re sorry. We don`t have any more time for you to continue to

try to get us to give you the specifics of what the imminent threat was to

the country, what the targets were, how many days or weeks we really

thought would elapse before it would happen.

 

And, so, at the end of that session, you could just feel the palpable

unhappiness of many of the senators who were willing to sit there for hours

in addition to get the answers to the key questions that the American

people want to know because ultimately we could be talking about a

commitment of American young men and women to a conflict with Iran and the

precipitating cause would be the assassination of Soleimani and they just

stood up all at once and just walked out of the room without allowing us to

ask follow-on questions.

 

O`DONNELL: Well, the president added to the story today, he added an

imminent threat. Let`s listen to what he said today about this, the

possibility of their intent to burn down the embassy.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We caught a total monster,

and we took him out. And that should have happened a long time ago. We did

it because they were looking to blow up our embassy. We also did it for

other reasons that were very obvious.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: Did they say anything to you yesterday about blowing up the

embassy?

 

MARKEY: No, we did not hear about blowing up the embassy yesterday in that

briefing, and I sat through it from beginning to end. And, so, if that was

the threat, if it was imminent, if it was going to happen within a couple

of days, they had every opportunity for 75 minutes to let us know that. And

that would have cast all of this in a different light because we had so

many diplomat diplomatic and military personnel who would have been in

danger.

 

But we didn`t hear that. And ultimately, you know, sometimes you just think

that Donald Trump is like making it up as he goes along in order to provide

answers because he can understand the unease of the American people that in

fact we might have just crossed a trip wire that could have potential long

term catastrophic consequences for our national security.

 

O`DONNELL: I just want to turn to the trial, the impeachment trial that`s

coming up. You know Senator Romney better than most of the other senators.

He was your governor of Massachusetts. You were in the congressional

delegation while he was governor. You worked with him.

 

He obviously has said he`s willing to vote for John Bolton to be called as

a witness. He said that he`d like to hear from witnesses, plural.

 

Is he the only one? Do you think there will be enough Republican votes in

the Senate to call John Bolton at least as a witness?

 

MARKEY: Well, you know, it is hard for me to get inside the internal

workings of the cerebral mechanisms of Republican senators. So I`m very

glad that Senator Romney is now, you know, willing to, you know, move

forward on Bolton testifying.

 

Obviously we`re going to need four of the senators on the Republican side

to join with the 47 Democrats or those who caucus with the Democrats in the

Senate. We would have no way of knowing what would happen a week from now,

two weeks from now whenever the trial begins on the Senate floor.

 

My hope would be that at a minimum we could find four Republican United

States senators who would say that due process would be well-served if the

four witnesses, that is Mick Mulvaney, John Bolton, the OMB officials who

were talked to about withholding the $380 million to the Ukraine government

were allowed to testify and that that would be something that would add on

to the information that the House of Representatives sent over. And it

would be those who are in most direct contact with Donald Trump who could

give us the most accurate representation of what he was saying and thinking

at that time.

 

So my hope is that four would step forward to give us the votes to get to

51. Then if ultimately, when we vote on removal of the president they

decide not to do so, it will have at least happened all the evidence was

out on the table, all of the witnesses were heard and so I have my fingers

crossed. But I have been disappointed over the last three years by the

Republican side in many, many instances with regard to bucking Donald

Trump.

 

O`DONNELL: Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts, thank you very much for

joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

 

MARKEY: Thanks for having me on.

 

O`DONNELL: Up next, Donald Trump and the Village People and YMCA. Many

people thought Donald Trump was honoring the United States Marine Corps

when he came up with his name for the revisions of NAFTA, but he explained

today that it had nothing to do with the U.S. Marines. It was all about the

Village People, and YMCA.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: Today we have another demonstration of what happens when Donald

Trump is working without a teleprompter.

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

TRUMP: I spoke to Secretary General, yesterday and we had a great

conversation. He was very - I think he was actually excited about it and I

actually had a name. NATO, right? And then you have ME - Middle East.

You`ll call it, NATOME. I said what a beautiful name, NATOME.

 

I`m good at names, right? USMCA, like the song `YMCA.` Everybody - nobody

could remember, USMCA. I said, think of the song `YMCA.` Now everybody says

it.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: There was more insanity in that short burst of Presidential

speech than in our country`s entire higher of Presidential speeches. Sorry,

United States Marine Corp, if you thought the Mexican Trade Agreement was

named in your honor by using your initials USMCA, you were wrong.

 

President Trump did not have the U.S. Marine Corp in mind. He had these

people in mind. The Village People made the song `YMCA` a hit in 1979 when

Donald Trump was a married man, prowling New York City`s night clubs

without his wife. So remember that Trump supporters.

 

The Trump name for the new Mexican trade agreement is in honor of not the

United States marines, it`s in honor of the Village People. Those Village

People right there on your TV screen, which is interesting but not outright

crazy like say, the Middle East should be in the North Atlantic Treaty

Organization, an organization which each member pledges to join in the

military defense of every other member.

 

That means that every member of NATO would be immediately militarily

engaged in the Middle East, every time a missile is fired, including

missiles fired by Donald Trump in the Middle East.

 

It is impossible to listen to Donald Trump say things like that and then

fall into lines supporting him unless you have the capacity to completely

surrender your ability to think.

 

Which brings us to Frank Rich`s latest brilliant article in New York

magazine in which he says, “All cults come to an end, often abruptly, and

Trump`s Republican Party is nothing if not a cult.”

 

Frank Rich takes a look at what would happen to the Trump Toadies and for

that he takes a look at Richard Nixon`s defenders and the Vichy

collaborators of World War II. Frank Rich will join us next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: In Frank Rich`s latest article from New York magazine, he

writes, “Once Trump has vacated the Oval Office and possibly for decades

thereafter, his government like any other deposed strongman`s will be

subjected to a forensic colonoscopy to root out buried crimes, whether

against humanity or the rule of law or both. With time, everything will

come out - it always does.”

 

Joining us now is Frank Rich, Writer-at-large for New York magazine. He is

also an executive producer of HBO`s `Succession` and was an executive

producer for the Emmy Award winning HBO series, `Veep` which will live

forever online and Frank, can we use the Succession theme music for your

introductions?

 

We can get it for cheap, right?

 

FRANK RICH, WRITER-AT-LARGE, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Very cheap. Why not?

 

O`DONNELL: And the composer was –?

 

RICH: His name is Nicholas Patel.

 

O`DONNELL: Nicholas Patel, yes.

 

RICH: Yes. Brilliant guy.

 

O`DONNELL: It`s fantastic as is the show.

 

RICH: Thanks.

 

O`DONNELL: So you`re saying something that I have long believed in and it`s

one of the things that I find so strange about people like William Barr.

William Barr knows there`s going to be another Attorney General someday and

it`s going to be a Democratic Attorney General and that Attorney General is

going to have the power to look at every single thing William Barr did and

it`s coming at some point.

 

RICH: It`s coming and you feel these people like him and that crackpot

Senator whose parroting Putin down in then Louisiana, John Kennedy in

quotes. They`re acting as if there`s no tomorrow. There`s never a reckoning

and what I tried to do in this piece is make the point, whoever goes to

jail, doesn`t go to jail.

 

Whatever crimes are found out now or in the course of a Trump presidency is

nothing compared to what`s been buried that none of us know about, not even

a very zealous investigative press has found yet and people will be turning

over rocks for decades.

 

And if you look back at history, General Motors and Ford, both have

executives who were essentially Hitler appeasers and in case of General

Motors, involved - were involved in the armaments that were used against

American troops and manufacturing them in Germany during the war.

 

It took 40 years to find all that out but all came out and people who

support these kind of regimes, whether it be appeasement, then or America

First in the thirties or Trump, which is you know, let`s face it, a

criminal presidency, however you want to slice it.

 

It`s - it`s - there`s going to be reckoning and one other thing I want to

mention is you can only take the Nixon analogy so far because yes, Nixon

abused his office. He also tried to throw a Presidential campaign but it

would never occur to him to collaborate and aid the Soviet Union.

 

O`DONNELL: Right.

 

RICH: America`s own enemy. It would never occur to him to my knowledge to

break up immigrant families at the border and turn away refugees from

horrors in other countries. It would never occur to him to quite the

contrary, to fight climate - climate change science and to downgrade a

regulation of environmental poisons.

 

And so these are really serious crimes and whether they produce jail

sentences or not, for the people who did them, they`ll be implicated and so

will their children and their grandchildren, there`s going to be a stain.

 

O`DONNELL: The thing about Nixon is that if he did, if he wanted to switch

sides in the argument about the Soviet Union, what he knew was, no one will

follow me. If I try to start talking pro-Soviet Union tomorrow, there won`t

be a single Republican who says, oh, that`s a good thing.

 

RICH: No, there - no, here it is a cult because they`re absolutely people

who in some cases, did have reputations that they`ve now destroyed, good

reputations, have made fools of themselves for their dear leader.

 

And the thing about cults is they always do come to an end and the cult

leader, whether it be the Reverend Moon, you know who was a Nixon supporter

or you know, Jim Jones or whomever, Charlie Manson.

 

They`re never going to be reformed and never does and that`s certainly true

of Trump. They`re never going to see the problems with their ways but the

people who swirled around him and were taken in, they`re going to pay a

price, a human pricing and a reputational price forever.

 

O`DONNELL: Frank Rich, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

 

RICH: Thanks you.

 

O`DONNELL: And Succession theme music next time. Thank you very much and

when we come back, the billionaire who has surged into second place in the

latest South Carolina Democratic Presidential poll and third place in the

latest Nevada democratic Presidential poll will join us next.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

O`DONNELL: The stage for next week`s Democratic Presidential debate was set

and I mean, all set with only five candidates making that cut until

tonight. As of today, it looked like the only candidates on that stage

would be Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg and

Amy Klobuchar.

 

But then two new state-wide polls cannot today showing a surge by

billionaire businessman, Tom Steyer in Nevada where he is now in third

place, tied with Elizabeth Warren and in South Carolina, where he is in

second place.

 

Those two state-wide polls were enough to put - to put Tom Steyer on the

debate stage next week and he joins us now from New Hampshire for his first

interview as a Presidential candidate here on The Last Word.

 

Thank you very much for joining us tonight, Mr. Steyer. You didn`t need to

do that in the polls to qualify to appear here. I just want to make that

clear but thank you very much for joining us.

 

I want to go to impeachment because you began a national TV advertising

campaign, advocating the impeachment of Donald Trump in October of 2017,

two years before the House of Representatives moved on impeachment. What

did you see then before the end of the first year of the Trump presidency

as the grounds for impeachment?

 

TOM STEYER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Lawrence, I saw clearly in October

of 2017 that this was the most corrupt President in American history and he

started his corruption virtually from the first day and he started his

obstruction of justice at virtually the first day and he did them publicly.

 

And so what I actually did in `Need to Impeach,` is not just run TV ads.

What I did was I gathered signatures of American citizens. 8.5 million

American citizens signed that `Need to Impeach` petition and they actually

not only signed it but they called their Congress people and they emailed

their Congress people and they wrote to their Congress people, asking that

Congress look at this as a matter of right and wrong, not a matter of

partisanship or political expediency.

 

So I give that 8.5 million people enormous credit in standing up for what`s

right in America when in fact nobody else in Washington DC was willing to

look at this as a matter of right and wrong.

 

O`DONNELL: If you become President, a year from now, it`ll be a year after

President Trump`s military confrontation with Iran and who knows what

happens with Iran between now and then.

 

What would your policy toward Iran be and would you re-establish the Iran

nuclear deal that was negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry and

President Obama?

 

STEYER: I believe that that Iran nuclear deal that President Obama and

Secretary of State Kerry lead with our allies, that negotiated Iran away

from their nuclear ambitions was exactly the kind of positive American move

that we should be doing in foreign policy around the world. It stood up for

our values.

 

It made American citizens safer and it allied us with our traditional

democracy and freedom loving allies so that rather than a simple bilateral

confrontation, it was a value driven, ally-supported move that supported

our values and made Americans safer around the world. It`s exactly what we

should be doing now.

 

O`DONNELL: I want to go to one of the issues you know, you`re going to be

spending time on, on the debate stage next week and that is healthcare.

You`re opposed to Medicare for all but if you are President and Senator

Bernie Sanders manages to push Medicare for all through Congress, would you

veto that?

 

STEYER: No. Let me say this, Lawrence. When we talk about healthcare in

America, there are two things that I believe the government needs to do.

One is to recognize that affordable healthcare is a right for Americans in

the 21st century, a right.

 

And secondly, the healthcare in America is far too expensive and that

means, it isn`t affordable and available to tens of millions of Americans.

It`s the government`s job to drive down the cost of healthcare because we

pay twice as much on average as other advanced countries for the same or

worse healthcare.

 

O`DONNELL: We`re going to squeeze in a–

 

STEYER: So when you talk about Medicare for all or a public option to the

Affordable Care Act, really what we`re trying to do is succeed in

accomplishing those two objectives that I happen to be for a public option

but I think those two objectives are what really count.

 

O`DONNELL: All right, we`re going to squeeze in a break here. Please stay

with us and when we come back. I`ll ask Tom Steyer a few things. If he

thinks it`s fair that billionaires can buy their way into Presidential

campaigns with massive ad campaign spending.

 

You`ll see what Rachel had to say about that, earlier tonight.

 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

 

MADDOW: But this is not everyone spending money on Presidential primary

ads. This is not the full picture. For the full picture, you actually have

to change the scale to fit everybody else on the board, ready? Bye you

guys. The reason we have to make those bars so small is because in order to

get an accurate to scale picture of what Tom Steyer has spent, you have to

shrink everybody else down that much.

 

Tom Steyer has spent an unfathomable $67 million on TV ads to boost his

chances in the Democratic primary this far. Tom Steyer would have the

record but for former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The other

democratic billionaire running for President who has to this point spent

$142 million on TV and radio ads.

 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

 

O`DONNELL: And we`re back with businessman and 2020 democratic Presidential

candidate, Tom Steyer. Mr. Steyer, I know you couldn`t see that graphic

where you are but Rachel showed in relative terms, graphic terms, it showed

you spending 67 million and the next one down from you, Bernie Sanders,

Pete Buttigieg spending 10 million and then all the way down to 1 million

and then with Mike Bloomberg dwarfing you.

 

Do you understand why so many Americans look at a graph like that and think

what they`re seeing is unfairness? If they think what they`re seeing is the

ability of billionaires to buy their way into Presidential politics?

 

STEYER: Let me say this, Lawrence. For the last 10 years as an outsider,

I`ve been putting together coalitions of Americans to take on what I think

of as unchecked corporate power and in doing that, I`ve been taking on what

I think are the biggest problems in America that we have a broken

government that`s been bought by corporations.

 

So in every one of those fights, I`ve put in all of my time, my heart and

soul and my money to try and solve what I think are the biggest problems in

America including our climate crisis and democracy. To return democracy to

the people, of, by and for the people. That`s what I did in starting the

`Need to Impeach` movement and that`s what I`m doing running for President.

 

I have a message that is different from everyone else running for President

which is that we have a broken government bought by corporations and that

as an outsider, I have taken on these people and will take them on.

 

So if you`re - I have said I`m the only person in this race who will make

climate my number one priority and I`ll do it from the standpoint of

environmental justice and that I can beat Trump on the economy because I

did build the business over 30 years and I do understand the economy and I

can go toe to toe with him.

 

So if your point is that I`m taking on the biggest problem I see in America

and putting everything I have into it, to try and solve that problem

including my money then I`ve done that for 10 years and if that`s the worst

thing you can say about it, about me, then I`ll take it.

 

O`DONNELL: What changes in campaign finance law would you support, if any?

 

STEYER: I would support public financing of campaigns that includes the

idea of giving vouchers to American citizens that they can use for

contributions. I know that the House bill includes six times multiples of

contributions up to $200 that Americans give.

 

So that`s a different mechanism of public financing. The one that I`m

talking about, I believe actually brings a lot more people into the game so

I`m absolutely in favor of public financing of elections.

 

O`DONNELL: Would you–

 

STEYER: I`m in favor though more than that Lawrence, I`m in favor of

restructuring Washington DC. As an outsider, I`m for term limits for

Congress of 12 years for Congress people and Senators. I`m for giving

direct democracy to the American people, to let us pass laws if the

Congress won`t.

 

I`m saying we have a broken government, that`s what`s going on in

Washington DC. It`s been bought by corporations and my question to the

American people is who do you think is going to change that? Is it going to

be someone like me who`s an outsider who`s been fighting those corporations

and beating them for a decade or is it going to be someone from inside the

beltway?

 

O`DONNELL: Would you support limits on how much an individual can

contribute to his own campaign?

 

STEYER: I would support public financing of elections so everybody can

compete fairly and so that - so that someone financing his own campaign is

absolutely–

 

O`DONNELL: Could there ever be a public financing option that would allow

people to compete against a billionaire?

 

STEYER: Absolutely. Lawrence, this is a question about message. The idea

that someone can buy votes is not true. The question is does a candidate,

any candidate including me have a message that`s differential.

 

 

END   

 

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