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The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 12/1/2015

Guests: Guest: Seth Moulton, Kurt Andersen, Anthony Shaffer, Malcolm Nance, Seamus Hughes, Michael Cohen, Leslie Hairston

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: December 1, 2015 Guest: Seth Moulton, Kurt Andersen, Anthony Shaffer, Malcolm Nance, Seamus Hughes, Michael Cohen, Leslie Hairston

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: For THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good evening Lawrence.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening Rachel, thank you very much.

MADDOW: Indeed, thank you.

O`DONNELL: So, what does this mean to you when you hear it, a specialized expeditionary targeting force?

Does that sound like troops on the ground because if it is, that`s what we`re sending into Iraq and Syria.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ramping up the fight against ISIS.

LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: More American special operation forces will be deployed in Iraq and Syria.

CARTER: We`ll over time be able to conduct raids, free hostages, gather intelligence and capture ISIL leaders.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: It`s a reaction to Paris. There is no strategy.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thousands of combat troops like some on the Republican --


CLINTON: Side are recommending, and I think that should be a nonstarter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly two months from today are the Iowa caucuses.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It`s been entertaining primary so far.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To be honest, I just watch it for the music.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Republican establishment candidates need to pick up the pace if they hope to overtake the outsiders.

MICHAEL STEELE, FMR CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: They`re having many heart attacks day-in-and-day-out, trying to figure out how the hell do we stop this?

TRUMP: There`s only one way you get to the top and it`s all through Trump, let`s face it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump continues to take heat for his comments about Muslims in New Jersey cheering 9/11.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Trump is confusing cheering with screaming.


I also think he`s confusing bull -- with the truth.



O`DONNELL: America`s latest war policy seems to turn on the definition of ground troops.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The truth is that ground troops, U.S. troops, French troops could move ISIL out of Raqqah.

But unless we were prepared to permanently occupy a country like Syria, the only way to bring about a true and lasting end to the civil war there, to end the refugee flows and to defeat ISIL involves a political transition.


O`DONNELL: That was the President today in Paris in an interview with Laura Haim. It didn`t sound like the President is willing to commit ground troops to fight the Islamic State.

But in a congressional hearing this morning, President Obama`s Secretary of Defense said this --


CARTER: In full coordination with the government of Iraq, we`re deploying a specialized expeditionary targeting force to assist Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces and put even more pressure on ISIL.

These special operators will over time be able to conduct raids, free hostages, gather intelligence, and capture ISIL leaders. This force will also be in a position to conduct unilateral operations in Syria.


O`DONNELL: Defense officials tell Nbc News that the specialized expeditionary targeting force that Secretary Carter was referring to would be between 100 and 200 special forces troops.

They are soldiers, they will be wearing boots and they will be on the ground. Does that make them the proverbial boots on the ground?

Joining us now, Congressman Seth Moulton, a Democrat from Massachusetts, he served four tours in Iraq as a Marine and as a member of the House Armed Services Committee.

Congressman Moulton, when you heard that testimony this morning, what was your reaction to it?

REP. SETH MOULTON (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, first of all, there`s no question that these are combat troops. I was a military adviser myself in Iraq in 2004.

And when the Iraqi army unit that we were mentoring came under attack and started to get overrun, my platoon went to their assistance and it started the fiercest fighting of the war until that time; the battle of Mazar(ph).

So, there`s no question that this is a combat mission. My concern is that we don`t have a bigger strategic political plan to ensure the long-term success of whatever military action we take on the ground.

O`DONNELL: And when you listen to what the secretary says these soldiers will be doing, conducting raids, freeing hostages, capturing Islamic State leaders, that description means there will be casualties.

MOULTON: Absolutely. This is a risky mission. They will be very much in harm`s way, and we`ve got to be prepared for that.

We also have to make sure that they are setup for success and that they have a strategic goal that is achievable.

And that`s where I am most concerned at this point.

O`DONNELL: And what about mission creep here? This is -- as we know, this is the way we went into Vietnam, with advisors, with small numbers of tactical advisors, and then we were hundreds of thousands of troops in.

MOULTON: That`s right, and there`s no question that the same president who promised to pull us out of Iraq has had to send troops back in just five years later.

We started with 300 and now we`re up to 3,500 and adding more to that. So there`s no question that there`s the risk of mission creep, I think we`re already seeing it.

O`DONNELL: And so what at this point would you recommend to the President?

MOULTON: I think the President needs to have a very clear political plan that underlies the military plan.

Because if you think about what happened when ISIS had this dramatic expansion from Syria into western and then northern Iraq, they didn`t just defeat the Iraqi army.

The Iraqi army put its weapons down and went home because it had lost faith in the Iraqi government.

Well, that means it`s fundamentally a political problem in Iraq that has allowed ISIS to spread so dramatically.

And you don`t fix Iraqi politics by just training Iraqi troops. And the same can be said about Syria as well.

The only way to have long-term success against these extremists is to have a plan to fill the political vacuum that they are occupying right now in the Middle East.

The same type of political vacuum that led to terrorist training camps in Afghanistan prior to 9/11. We`ve got to have that fundamental political plan in place.

And then the military plan should fall on top of that. What I`m concerned about is that we have some detailed military plans to defeat ISIS, but if we don`t have a long-term political plan, then we could find ourselves back there for a third time five years from now.

O`DONNELL: Joining the discussion now is Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer; a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and former army intelligence officer.

Also joining us, Kurt Andersen, the host of award-winning public radio program "Studio 360". And Kurt, we`re going to go to you first, civilian voice here with no combat experience.

The echoes here of mission creep that we experienced in Vietnam are very strong.

KURT ANDERSEN, RADIO HOST: Sure, and you can say back in 1962, we only had 350 or several hundred most of whom were special ops people at the time.

It strikes me that certainly with this president and with the recent experience of Iraq, the weariness of mission creep will be present.

I find it -- I mean, the Congressman`s point about the lack of a larger strategy of which these 150 new special operators will be the tip of the spear is well taken.

This frankly, as a civilian does not worry me that suddenly, oh, a year from now, we`re going to have 5,000 more. I don`t see that.

Now, my question is, if this is provoked by the Paris attacks, which it probably was in some sense, this does nothing about that.

And indeed, I would like to hear the military experts speak to the issue of whether pushing ISIL, ISIS -- back in Syria and Iraq might actually cause them to do these cheaper, higher cost benefit operations like they did in Paris.

O`DONNELL: Colonel Shaffer, take that --


O`DONNELL: Take that question.

SHAFFER: Well, they`re going to do them no matter what. If we push them back or not, they`re already expeditionary and I think that`s one of the things that General Dunford and Secretary Carter said today.

We have to approach this from a multi-regional perspective. Simply put, this taskforce is going to attempt to work what they`re calling strategic effects.

And as Congressman Moulton pointed out, we don`t have a long-term political plan that these strategic effects need to be tied into.

And with all due respect to the Congressman, Congress has not done its job to debate and come to terms with what authorization a president has to conduct these operations, and more importantly, what that plan is going to be.

We believe militarily, and I know from experience, this task force is going to be focused just like a task force that I served on, was from a (INAUDIBLE) task force 121, it`s the same basic mission said, it`s the same basic objectives.

It can be very effective. With that said, if we start winning, we have to figure out how to seal the deal once we win.

And this is where we have to work with the Russians, we have to work with our Kurdish partners, we have to work with the Iraqis who wish to work with us.

And those things are political, and that`s something that`s beyond the Pentagon`s mission to do by itself.

O`DONNELL: President Obama will -- his presidency will not cover the period of this military exercise. Let`s listen to what one of the candidates had to say about this today, Hillary Clinton.


CLINTON: I agree with the President`s point that we`re not putting American combat troops back into Syria or Iraq. We are not going to do that. This fight --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Under no circumstances --

CLINTON: Well --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you not do that?

CLINTON: Well --


CLINTON: At this point, I cannot conceive of any circumstances where I would agree to do that. We don`t know yet how many special forces might be needed.

How many trainers and surveillance and enablers might be needed. But in terms of thousands of combat troops like some on the Republican side --


CLINTON: Are recommending, I think that should be a nonstarter.


O`DONNELL: Congressman Moulton, Republicans are recommending or many Republicans recommending a big troop commitment there, bigger, certainly.

And yet this Republican-controlled Congress refuses to vote to even authorize military actions there. What is going on in Congress on this refusal to have a vote?

MOULTON: Well, you`re absolutely right, and frankly, we`re abrogating our duties. It`s our responsibility to make a decision about sending American troops into harm`s way.

And we`ve frankly punted on that responsibility. We`re still operating on the authorization for the use of military force that came right after 9/11.

And sending special forces into Syria is a far cry from taking out the terrorist camps that caused the attacks on September 11th.

So, we do have a responsibility there. To Tony`s point, I will say that the political side of this, the importance of having a political strategy, that is partly the responsibility of the administration.

I mean, the administration has to articulate a clear military and political strategy, and I think they`re only really doing half of that. But there`s no question.

I mean, I -- as a member of Congress, I think we should be taking up this debate and we should have a vote on authorizing the use of military force in Syria and in Iraq.

O`DONNELL: And Kurt, the question of what we do there includes how long can we hold on to whatever we gain there with this kind of military intervention.

And so, is there a politician who will stand up there and say I`m willing to commit to minimum of ten years, holding this territory militarily that we gain in this exercise?

ANDERSEN: Well, that`s been the problem all along, hasn`t it? That we are not as a nation willing to occupy countries for the lengths of times that when the British had an empire, they`re willing to do, we simply aren`t.

And so I hope for success here. I hope -- I was surprised frankly that the description of the mission was not neutral, but rather we`re going to capture ISIS leaders --

O`DONNELL: Aggressive --

ANDERSEN: We`re going to --


ANDERSEN: Rescue hostages. There was -- there was -- it begged the question. There was already the spectacular success implicit in the mere statement of the brief, which frankly worried me a little bit.

O`DONNELL: Colonel Shaffer, what was your reaction to that -- to the specific things that Ash Carter said this mission was about?

SHAFFER: Well, it`s very clear that one of the things we have lacked is the ability to take advantage of strategic objectives and opportunities.

We have actually gone in and done a number of things which have not been reported publicly. One of those which was public was the killing of Abu Sayyaf.

We have done other things, it`s been under the radar. I think this is an acknowledgment of that mission, an expansion of it. Simply put, Lawrence, we can defeat ISIS.

It`s going to be done, it can be done much more quickly than President Obama stipulated, and especially with the Russians now in Syria.

They are motivating our side to do a lot more. So, I think again, we can defeat ISIS, I think it`s a doable thing, I share Ash Carter and General Dunford`s confidence in this.

But as we`ve all talked about, is, what do we do once we defeat ISIS. The instability in that region is what has drawn ISIS to it. And ungoverned space like we`ve seen in Libya is the magnet for terrorists.

So, we got to find a way to bring our allies in to settle up. It can`t be us, it has to be the Arab, Kurdish and other allies bringing in to settle that peace.

O`DONNELL: Congressman Moulton, you get the last word on this.

MOULTON: Well, I think that`s an important point is, we don`t necessarily have to have a massive American presence on the ground to hold this territory after we militarily defeat ISIS.

It really should be a local force, including a lot of Sunnis. That`s a very important component, and we`ve got to figure out how to achieve that goal.

The way Chairman Dunford put it is that we`ve learned that we need to stay involved in Iraqi politics. We`ve got to be integrated into Iraqi politics.

And my last question to him today was, if we had stayed integrated in Iraqi politics after the surge, after 2009, would we be in the -- in the mess that we are, we find ourselves in now. And he said, no, we would not.

O`DONNELL: Well, that creates the follow-up question of were we welcome to stay involved in Iraqi politics and to what extent were we welcomed to stay involved in Iraqi politics?

MOULTON: No, frankly we weren`t. But look, the other alternative is now we have to send troops back.

So, I think that we have to have much more aggressive diplomacy, much more aggressive political involvement.

Because if we don`t, the alternative is putting young Americans into harm`s way once again. And I`ll tell you, I went back to Iraq in February for the first time since I took part in the surge.

And it was disheartening to say the least, to see so much of what we had fought for and frankly achieved during the surge just completely squandered because we weren`t able to hold the peace, to keep the peace.

O`DONNELL: Congressman Seth Moulton and Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer, thank you both for joining us tonight. Coming up, the Islamic State supporters in the United States.

A new study shows that the number of arrests and investigations of people in the U.S. supporting the Islamic State is skyrocketing.

And a "Boston Globe" writer finally says what has to be said about Donald Trump.


O`DONNELL: This year, the Friday after Thanksgiving broke a shopping record that we should not be proud of. The most background checks for the purchase of a gun.

The national instant criminal background check system processed 185,345 requests on Friday, November 27th. The previous high for checks was just over 177,000 on December 21st, 2012.

That was just seven days after the Sandy Hook School massacre. On the day after Thanksgiving this year when America was stocking up on guns, one man with a gun walked into the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs and murdered 3 people and wounded 9.

We`ll be right back.


O`DONNELL: There has been an unprecedented mobilization of Islamic State supporters in the United States in the last year.

According to a new report, that report says 56 people have been arrested in the United States for ISIS-related activity this year.

That is the largest number of terrorism-related arrests in a single year in the United States since the 9/11 attacks.

According to that report, there are currently 900 active investigations about the Islamic State sympathizers in all 50 states.

Arrests have been made in 21 states so far this year. Joining us now Seamus Hughes, co-author of "The Report" and the Deputy Director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University.

Also with us, Malcolm Nance, a former counterterrorism intelligence officer, combat veteran and author of "Defeating ISIS: Who They Are, How They Fight, What They Believe".

Malcolm Nance, what is it about this report that is different from everything you`ve seen in studying ISIS up to now?

MALCOLM NANCE, FORMER COUNTERTERRORISM INTELLIGENCE OFFICER & AUTHOR: Well, I have to commend the George Washington University, I believe it`s a brilliant report.

And what is most significant for the American public to understand is now that we`ve taken this deep look at how the ISIS supporters, how and what we call their fan boys, their base of operators in the United States communicate with each other and how they support and radicalize themselves from within the virtual world that they live in.

O`DONNELL: Seamus Hughes, what should we take from this report? I mean, if there`s one way of looking at it is, gee, we know an awful lot about what ISIS is trying to do here.

And you were able to obtain an awful lot of information that seems to show that we`ve got them tracked. We kind of see what they`re up to.

SEAMUS HUGHES, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, PROGRAM ON EXTREMISM, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Yes, so we looked at about 7,000 pages of legal documents to get a sense of what a typical profile of it, ISIS recruiters looks like.

And it defies using analysis. They tend to be younger, so the average age is 26. But one -- cases, they are 21 years or younger.

The FBI says that they have 900 active investigations in all 50 states, we found arrests in at least 21 as you mentioned. I think what we`re seeing is law enforcement is stretched a bit then, they`re triaging this.

This is unprecedented number of cases for them this year.

O`DONNELL: What about motivation, Seamus? Were you able to find what the motivation is for joining, getting involved with ISIS here?

HUGHES: Yes, so humans are complex. They decide to do things for various reasons. And we are able to talk to a number of people and look at court documents, talked to family members of individuals who had joined groups in ISIS from America and get a sense of, you know, how do they do this and why did they decide to make this leap?

And to run a gamut, they wanted a sense of belonging, they wanted a sense to be part of, you know, what they saw as so-called caliphate.

They saw the propaganda online, they thought they could be part of something bigger than themselves.

O`DONNELL: And Malcolm Nance, what`s your sense of how good a grip American law enforcement has on this in the United States?

NANCE: Well, I think it`s tenuous at best. Not just a week ago, I spoke to over 200 federal and state intelligence officers who were tasked specifically on this mission.

And they were desperate for information. We have a lot of intelligence which comes from national level intelligence collection agencies.

Which does get fed down through the FBI and out into the joint terrorism task force. But, you know, there`s a great body of knowledge out there that`s missing with regards to how does a street officer or how does a local county sheriff have to approach somebody who may have been radicalized.

And I think this report will give them some insights unto that. But there`s a great deal of work which needs to be done.

O`DONNELL: Seamus Hughes, it seems in your report that a certain amount of what`s going on here is kind of youthful wanderings.

Youthful ideological wanderings and a certain amount of it will turn out to be harmless. It will be a phase that some percentage of these people are going through.

Any sense of how much of it is just that?

HUGHES: That`s exactly right, and that`s the problem when you look at these issues. The 900 cases, you know, only a small percentage is actually going to make that leap to violent act or cross that legal threshold.

So, what do law enforcement do to figure out, you know, who`s the real threat and who`s not. You`re right when you say -- talk about youthful discretions.

When we watch -- and we had a team of researchers looking at 300 accounts of Americans we saw on Twitter over six-month period, and we saw a real time grooming of people.

So they were -- we saw a young convert in the Mid West who wanted to learn more about her faith and she was going on Twitter to do that and ISIS spot her, essentially groomed her through this and slowly brought her into the process.

You have these people that are looking for a sense of belonging and they`re finding it in the echo chamber online.

O`DONNELL: And what is it about -- is there anything about their environment, Seamus, the common denominators that you can link and family relationships or is it -- or is it just as you say, there`s really quite a range of possibility in who gets recruited?

HUGHES: Yes, I think that`s right. There`s a diversity of who gets recruited. There`s a diversity in terms of the profile, you know, there are old, there are young, there`re rich, there`re poor, the high school educated, the high school kids, the college educated.

There`s also diversity in terms of their actual support of ISIS. We`ve seen keyboard warriors; the guys that just push out propaganda on Twitter.

We also have seen cases like Abdullah Pizarro(ph) from Saint Louis who goes over to Syria and becomes a mid level commander for ISIS. So, runs a gamut. There`s a diversity of both the profile and their role in the organization.

O`DONNELL: Seamus Hughes and Malcolm Nance, thank you both for joining us tonight --

HUGHES: Thank you --

O`DONNELL: I really appreciate it. Coming up, Donald Trump gets himself the headline that he doesn`t want in today`s "Boston Globe".


O`DONNELL: Tonight, Donald Trump continued his campaign of lies about what happened here on September 11th.


TRUMP: Do you notice what`s happening in New Jersey? They`re now finding a lot of people were saying yes, that did take place in New Jersey, right?

I wasn`t going to apologize. I wasn`t going to apologize.


A lot of things happened today where they were dancing and they were happy. There were a lot of happy people over in New Jersey. And I saw it and a lot of people saw it.


O`DONNELL: And that is what Donald Trump looks like when he`s lying. He, of course, did not see anything that he just described and no one is coming forward to support his lie.


TRUMP: Do you notice what`s happening in New Jersey? They`re now finding a lot of people are saying, yes, that did take place in New Jersey.


O`DONNELL: No, they`re not finding anyone who says that that happened in New Jersey. And if Donald Trump finds anyone who says that happened in New Jersey, that person is welcome on this show to tell us exactly what that person pretends to have seen.

Donald Trump knows that the news media will not chase his lies for very long. They have proven that to him. He lied about President Obama`s birth certificate for so long that the press gave up talking to him about it. He lied about sending detectives to Hawaii to investigate the president`s birth.

He lied about that for so long that the press has permanently forgotten to ask him what his detectives found in Hawaii. Those mythical detectives that, of course, he never sent to Hawaii. The news media proved to Donald Trump years ago that it has no capacity to deal with his lies, his speed of lies, his frequency of lies.

They have proved to him that he can get away with any lie he wants to get away with because he knows that most people in the news media are afraid to call a lie, a lie. Mike Cohen is not one of them.

His "Boston Globe" column today carries the headline, "Donald Trump is a liar". Joining us now is Michael Cohen, Columnist for the "Boston Globe" and back with us Kurt Andersen. Michael, welcome -- Welcome to the small bandwagon in the media --

MICHAEL COHEN, BOSTON GLOBE COLUMNIST: Thank you. Good to see you, again.


O`DONNELL: -- that actually uses the word, "Lie and liar" when it comes to Donald Trump. I take it. You got to the point where you just could not take it anymore.

COHEN: That is, basically, what happened. I just said, "This is ridiculous. He is lying, consistently lying." Not just about 9/11, but a number of things. And, it is time to just say -- call it what it is. He is clearly a liar.

O`DONNELL: Kurt, no one in the American media has followed Donald Trump longer than you have. You used to work at "Time" magazine, where they are not allowed to call anyone a liar. This is an incredible challenge for the mainstream media. They just cannot find the words to deal with this.

ANDERSEN: Well, because of the objective media, especially on the one hand and the other. And, as you say, and as we were saying here, he is so prolific in his lies, and by the way, always has been.

O`DONNELL: Always has been.

ANDERSEN: I talked to his bondholders in Atlantic City about whether they felt lied to by Donald Trump, for instance. So, he has always been this way. It also reminds me, he is part of a larger process of which your former boss, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, once said, "Every man is entitled to his own opinions, but not his own facts." That is -- Moynihan was saying that just before that was no longer true.

O`DONNELL: Yes. Right.

ANDERSEN: And, Donald Trump is the ultimate kind of apotheosis of that. "No, I am entitled to my own facts."

O`DONNELL: Yes, you know, Al Franken used the Moynihan quote in the senate a few years ago. I think if any senator stood up there and said it now, most of them would not understand what he just said.


COHEN: I mean Trump has found the perfect political party, right? Because basically this has become the new creed on the GOP, which is to consistently stretch the truth and to go straight out to lying.

You know, we talk about Trump, but Carly Fiorina has probably told the most pernicious lies in the entire election cycle about the Planned Parenthood videos. And, even after it was point out through that what she was saying was not true, that there was no video that depicting what she claims in those videos, she still keeps saying it. She is still saying it now. This has become the newest approach for republican politicians suggesting you lie over a period of time--

O`DONNELL: You make the point to your column that there is one -- if you want to talk about parties and lying that one party is way ahead of the other party on lying. Let us look to John Kasich`s new ad about Donald Trump. Let us see this.


TRUMP: And, now the poor guy, you got to see this guy, "Ah, I do not know what I said. Ah, I do not remember."



JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST OF "EARLY START" PROGRAM: He appeared to mock a reporter with a disability.



TRUMP: He is going like, "I do not remember. Oh, maybe that is what I said."



BERMAN: That reporter he is talking about us Serge Kovalevsky, who now works for "The New York Times." As you can see right there, he suffers from a chronic condition that impairs movement of his arms.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER (voice-over): Trump says he was not mocking the reporter because he did not know what the reporter looked like. But, in truth, they have known each other personally for years.



TRUMP: He is going like, "I do not remember. Oh, maybe that is what I said."


O`DONNELL: Kurt Andersen, do you expect that to work?

ANDERSEN: Well, one would expect -- you know, remember months ago when he made his first career candidacy-killing gaffe when he spoke about John McCain. No, I do not. He is -- people say he is Teflon. He is not exactly Teflon.

It is as though he is living in an alternate universe where the physics normal -- of politics do not apply to him. And, he got -- frankly, he got a good opponent in the democrats, which is to say Hillary Clinton, who is not the liar that Donald Trump is.

However, part of her baggage is, "Oh, the Clintons, they shave everything so close. What is the meaning of `It`." Not that she said that. But, that she is the part of this, "Oh, the Clintons are kind of speedy." That is a good candidate for him to be against because his base and the Republican Party can say, "Yes, look at Hillary Clinton, she is a liar."

O`DONNELL: And, the -- by the way, when you talk to his supporter, the Trump supporters, they all say, basically, what Kurt just said, which is basically, all politicians are liars. Therefore, we do not care what lie our politician, Donald Trump, told yesterday.

COHEN: Exactly. Or they will say, Hillary Clinton lies more and she is a bigger liar. So, it all cancels each other out. The thing about Hillary to some extent, she is actually kind of -- you know, she is a lawyer.

And, so, I think there is a part of her that tries to shade the truth and to be as honest as she possibly can be without, you know, saying something is going to be disparaging to her. And, that is her, her. I mean it makes her seem like she is, you know -- she is cutting around the edges. But, like Trump --

O`DONNELL: But all politicians have done that at certain point.

COHEN: Of course. All politicians.

O`DONNELL: They have all talked to that way. They are all weasly. They do not lie with such gusto.

COHEN: Right. Right. But, then we all do it. We all sort of tell lies. We all sort of exaggerate our own personal stories. Anyone does. The politicians are no different. Trump just does it with more gusto and more --

O`DONNELL: But, republican people -- republican strategists, officials, donors are worried according to "The New York Times." They feel that the Trump nomination would lead to an electoral wipeout, a sweeping defeat that could undo some of the gains republicans have made in recent congressional, state and local elections.

And, there, if true, Kurt, is that moment where once again, Hillary Clinton is the luckiest politician in America. The Clintons have a way of being so lucky in who their opponents are.

ANDERSEN: Well, he is not her opponent yet, but I think we are at the point where we cannot just -- the republicans cannot just wish that away. We cannot assume that away. Do a thought experiment.

You say, you have a leading republican candidate who is ahead of everybody, his second place competitor by 8, 10, 12, 14 percent in the first two state and nationally. And, he is conservative and he is a billionaire businessman, who can fund his own campaign. That looks like a winner to me. That looks like a winner of the nomination.


O`DONNELL: All right, we are going to do that thought experiment during this commercial. We are going to be right back.




MARCO RUBIO, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I stand strongly on behalf of the ability of this government to gather intelligence on our adversaries and our enemies, especially terrorists, but other nation states. Those keep us safer. And, there are republicans including Senator Cruz, who have voted to weaken those programs. That is just a part of the record. It is nothing personal.


O`DONNELL: Well, the fight is on, Marco Rubio versus Ted Cruz in the hope that there will be a collapse of the Trump candidacy at some point along the line. Let us look at this Rubio-backed Super PAC ad against Ted Cruz. Let us look at this.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE SPEAKER: Paris is once again in mourning.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER (1): This was terrorism at its worst.





UNIDENTIFIED MALE ANNOUCER (voice-over): Our leaders must keep America safe. But, when Ted Cruz had the chance to fight Barack Obama`s dangerously weak anti-terror policies, he did not. Instead, Cruz voted to weaken America`s ability to identify and hunt down terrorists. Cruz supported the bill that expert said was crafted to hobble the gathering of electronic intelligence. Call Ted Cruz. Tell him to stop leading from behind.


O`DONNELL: And, Kurt, Ted Cruz hits Marco Rubio for supporting what he calls Hillary Clinton`s policy on Libya. Also goes after him on immigration.

ANDERSEN: I do not see how foreign policy disputes between those two are going to have any traction. I really do not. Rubio is -- has this -- he is the great white hope of the establishment, yet he is -- and because of that in part, he has great skepticism on the right. So, I just do not see this battle among the republicans, unless Rand Paul suddenly surges, being fought on foreign policy grounds.

O`DONNELL: And, Rubio gets hammered every day on conservative radio about his immigration bill, which he abandoned. I mean, he did everything he could possibly do to please those people, but they are not pleased.

COHEN: Yes, and I think that in a sense is because of his liability. The thing about Cruz, Cruz has much more credibility, I think, among conservatives than Rubio does. And, he has that sort of anti-establishment persona that Rubio cannot possibly match.

If you look at this campaign, half of the electorates do not get it. The electorate is going for Carson and Trump. It is an anti-establishment vote. And, tonight, Cruz has been very smart. He is straddled being a Washington insider but also being somebody every Washington insider hates.

O`DONNELL: Uh-huh.

COHEN: Being this sort of pose in the establishment. And, I think that gives him a real advantage through going forward.

O`DONNELL: And, Rubio is going to have to get a win somewhere. Cruz is surging in the latest Iowa poll. He might be able to take Iowa. You could see him taking Iowa. Rubio in the New Hampshire polls and every other poll, including Florida, Rubio is not there.

ANDERSEN: Well, you have Iowa, which Rubio almost, certainly. will not win.


ANDERSEN: In New Hampshire, maybe, but not looking -- like I said -- and after that, you have three weeks of mainly southern primaries that do not, to me, look like great Rubio territory.

O`DONNELL: And, as you say, you know, it could be Trump all the way.

ANDERSEN: I think -- I have been saying it for a quite while --

O`DONNELL: If you had to bet tonight, is it Trump all the way?

ANDERSEN: If I had to bet simply on what is the best bet, I would say Trump, yes.

COHEN: Yes, the best bet.

O`DONNELL: And, Michael Cohen, thanks for joining us. Kurt Andersen, thanks for joining us, and thanks for telling me during the break that my presentation last night about the K.I.N.D. Fund got you thinking about contributing to the fund.

ANDERSEN: Intending.

O`DONNELL: Intending. All the way to intending. OK. Now, we have just got to get you to a credit card. All right, thank you very much, guys for joining us. Coming up, Chicago Alderman joins us, who says that the firing of the Chicago`s police superintendent is not enough.




STEVE MUSALI, MALAWI WORKERS: One day, Stanley is going to sit there at the desk that I actually made. He will be able to tell them that, "This is my father`s work."


O`DONNELL: That is Steve Musali, who you met on this program last night. He is one of the workers in Malawi, who hopes that one day his son, Stanley, who is now 2 years old, will sit at one of the desks that he makes, that he is making in our factories in Malawi.

Steve builds the desks for the K.I.N.D. Fund, "Kids In Need of Desks." That is a program we created in partnership with UNICEF five years ago to provide desks for schoolchildren in Malawi. There is just about one hour left right now, a little more than an hour left in giving Tuesday.

So, please, if you are still looking for some place to give, my recommendation is once again the K.I.N.D. Fund. By contributing to K.I.N.D. Fund, you not only provide desks for schoolchildren in Malawi, but you also help create jobs for people like Steve, who makes those desks.

Steve uses his paycheck to support his wife and his son and he also helps pay the tuition fees for his youngest sister to stay in high school. And, he sends money home to his parents. He is able to do that. Thanks to the job he has, building desks for the K.I.N.D. Fund.

One of the people who donated today is former Ohio State Senator Nina Turner, who tweeted this, "Giving Tuesday. I donated to the K.I.N.D. Fund to provide desks to students in Malawi."

If you would like to contribute to the K.I.N.D. Fund, you just go to the And, if you are not cyber savvy or connected at the moment, you can call 1-800-4-UNICEF.

Jay Lee tweeted, "I was a teacher in Malawi. Do not forget that through K.I.N.D., you can donate, so girls can help go to school. I did." Thanks. In Malawi only 7 percent of girls finish high school. That is half the rate of boys who complete high school.

On future programs, I will introduce you to some of the girls, who are able to stay in high school in Malawi. Thanks to your donations to the scholarship fund that K.I.N.D. runs for girls.

If you cannot afford to give anything to us right now, you can still help by tweeting or posting a link to the K.I.N.D. on your Facebook page. Judy Frazier posted on Facebook today, "The K.I.N.D. Fund is amazing. Just bought a desk and a year scholarship for a girl in the names of my two grandchildren."

And, my old favorite, Pat O`Brien tweeted, "My favorite new holiday charity, K.I.N.D. Fund, making desks for kids who need them. Thank you, MSNBC." Thank you, Pat O`Brien. I really appreciate it, Pat. And, thanks to all of you, who donated today on giving Tuesday.


O`DONNELL: On this day, 60 years ago, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat and move to the back of a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama. She was arrested, taken into custody and had to pose for this mug shot. Rosa Parks was fined $10 plus a $4 court fee.

The Montgomery bus boycott to protest segregated seating on city buses started four days later on December 5, 1955, and continued for just over a year. On December 20, 1956, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a judge`s order to the city of Montgomery to integrate its bus system. The bus boycott ended the next day.

Rosa Parks boarded a Montgomery bus and road in the front of the bus. President Obama sat on that bus at the Henry Ford Museum in Michigan in 2012. And, today, the president released this statement.

"Like so many giants of her age, Rosa Parks is no longer with us, but her lifetime of activism and her singular moment of courage continued to inspire us today. Rosa Parks reminds us that there is always something we can do. It is always within our power to make America better."


O`DONNELL: Tonight, Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan, has asked the U.S. Department of Justice`s civil rights division to investigate whether Chicago police department practices violate the constitution and federal law.

In the statement Madigan said, "The shocking death of Laquan McDonald is the latest strategy in our city that highlights serious questions about the use of unlawful and excessive force by Chicago police officers and the lack of accountability for such abuse.

Chicago cannot move ahead and rebuild trust between police and the community without an outside independent investigation into its police department to improve policing practices." That request comes the same day that the Chicago Police Superintendent Gary McCarthy was fired.


RAHM EMANUEL, (D) CHICAGO, MAYOR: Superintended McCarthy and began a discussion on Sunday about the direction of the department and the undeniable fact that the public trust and the leadership of the department has been shaken and eroded.

This morning, I formally asked for his resignation. Now, is the time for fresh eyes and new leadership to confront the challenges the department and our community and our city are facing as we go forward. I have asked First Deputy John Escalante to serve as acting commissioner until the police force has conduct a thorough search.


O`DONNELL: In that press conference today, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel also announced a new task force on police accountability. According to a statement from the mayor`s office, the task force will review the police department`s current system of accountability oversight and training and recommend reforms.

All of today`s developments come exactly one week after dash cam video was released of the deadly shooting of Laquan McDonald by Police Officer Jason Van Dyke. Officer Van Dyke is charged with first-degree murder. He was released on bond last night.

Joining us now is Leslie Hairston. She is alderman for the 5th Ward of Chicago and a former assistant attorney general for Illinois. Alderman Hairston, what do you make of the attorney general`s request tonight for the U.S. Justice Department to investigate this police department?

ALDERMAN LESLIE HAIRSTON, (D) 5TH WARD, CHICAGO: I agree with the attorney general. As a matter of fact, last week, we had also asked for the same thing, members of the black caucus and myself. And, I have been working with others to hopefully get a petition together to -- petition the department of justice to investigate.

O`DONNELL: When you and all the rest of the alderman unanimously voted to compensate the family of $5 million before they even filed a civil lawsuit in this case, had you all seen that dash cam video?

ALDERMAN HAIRSTON: No. We had not had an opportunity to see the video. And, the corporation council is generally the practice. They appear before the committee on finance and review the facts of the case and make a recommendation. In this particular instance, the family and the corporation council had already reached an agreement. And, that was the recommendation that was made to the city council.

O`DONNELL: So, what facts were presented to the city council? Was the city counselors told that the victim of this shooting was walking away from police? Because at that time the public information in Chicago from the police department and the police union was, that he was moving toward the police officers and threatening the police officers.

ALDERMAN HAIRSTON: That was not what was stated at that meeting. I got a copy of the transcript just to make sure, and there was language to the effect that Laquan lunged at the police officer, which we now see from the video that has been released that that was not the case.

O`DONNELL: So, even in presentation to reach a $5 million settlement with the family, the story that the city was telling through the corporation council is that he lunged towards the police officer?

ALDERMAN HAIRSTON: That is what I believe the transcript said, yes.

O`DONNELL: And, so, what was the -- what did the corporation council say that indicated there should be a $5 million settlement in this? What did he say in favor, in effect, of Laquan McDonald, why there would be a claim worthy of $5 million here?

ALDERMAN HAIRSTON: Well, I was not at that particular meeting, so I cannot say what he said. I believe if I had been there, my questions would have been different. But, I think that as with any negotiation and with corporation council that the contents of the video were such that that if it went to a jury trial that the city would be liable for a lot more and so that it was in the best interest of the tax payers to settle the case and the family`s attorney had, in fact, agreed.

O`DONNELL: Who do you think should run the Chicago Police Department now?

ALDERMAN HAIRSTON: I think there is some local people within the police department that should be moved up, some young, fresh faces. We do not need to recycling the old faces. There are systemic issues within the Chicago police department. They did not just start today.

O`DONNELL: All right.

ALDERMAN HAIRSTON: And, so, we need to move forward on that.

O`DONNELL: That will have to be the "Last Word" for tonight. Alderman Leslie Hairston, thank you very much for joining us. Chris Hayes is up next.