Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: November 16, 2016 Guest: Murphy, John Heilemann, Ken Vogel, Tim Mak, Adrian Karatnycky, Jonathan Greenblatt, R. T. Rybak
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: And that does it for us tonight, we will see you again tomorrow, now it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good evening, Lawrence.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Rachel, Donald Trump is coming for your guns.
MADDOW: Yes --
O`DONNELL: It`s --
Bound to happen, I guess.
MADDOW: Yes, good luck.
O`DONNELL: Yes --
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence --
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel. Well, the Trump transition team is already functioning as the worst transition team we have ever seen. And the good news is the slower they do their work, the better off we are.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: A president of the United States should not have a racist at his side -- unacceptable.
CLINTON: Sometimes it can feel awfully long --
Believe me, I know.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: A lot of activity going on upstairs.
STEVE SCHMIDT, REPUBLICAN CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: It`s a knife fight.
CHUCK TODD, MODERATOR, MEET THE PRESS: A Stalinist purge of certain allies.
CONWAY: It`s just not that way, there`s no fault.
SCHMIDT: It`s disorganized and chaotic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s very calm, it`s very structured. And anyone saying anything else is someone who is just bitter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s messed up.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, it`s really messed up.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Another name now in the mix for Secretary of State.
SCHMIDT: Nikki Haley. I have no idea if she knows anything about the complexity of the world.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s less frightening to hear Haley than a Bolton or a Giuliani.
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Bolton is so far out there, he`s advocating bombing everyone in the world.
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: I`ve been all over the world -- honorary knighthood -- yes, I heard about -- from --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes --
GIULIANI: Great Britain.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You look at their background and think, are you sure this is the right fit?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We only know Priebus and Bannon at this point having official appointment.
SANDERS: Rescind the appointment of Mr. Bannon. We will not be involved in the expansion of bigotry, of racism, sexism, homophobia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: We have not been contacted. That is very good news. That is what the State Department Press Secretary said today, "we have not been contacted."
The question was, have you heard from anyone on the Trump transition team? We have not been contacted.
That was the answer at the State Department today, same answer at the Pentagon, same answer at the Justice Department.
It`s the same answer at every single department and agency in the federal government controlled by the president.
There is a sign in the lobby of the State Department pointing to the transition office, but there is no one there.
Because the Trump transition team has not supplied the name of the person who will be the official contact for the State Department.
The State Department has a big briefing book waiting for that person. The State Department has all kinds of guidelines waiting for that person.
They have all sorts of advice they`re ready to give that person, but they can`t give that material to anyone but the person who is specifically and officially designated by the Trump administration as the State Department contact.
And there is so far no such person. This is something that no one outside of the Trump transition office should worry about.
This is something that America should not worry about. The State Department alone has 400 jobs that the president has to fill.
I showed you the Plum Book last night, this giant thing. It`s called officially United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions. This is the book that contains all of the jobs, 4,000 jobs that the president has to fill.
Everybody in Washington wants one of these jobs studies this book. It`s called the Plum Book because the people in Washington turn the pages looking for the plum that they want, the job that they want.
Here are the State Department pages right here in the middle of the book. About 40 jobs per page, 10 pages, 400 jobs.
Including, of course, the legislative management officer. Actually, there`s one for the house, one for the Senate.
Also, while the undersecretaries, the assistant secretaries, the special envoy for monitoring and combating anti-Semitism, that`s in here.
All sorts of jobs that the public doesn`t know are here. All sorts of jobs that most people have never heard about, that I`ve never heard about.
Rudy Giuliani, a possible candidate for Secretary of State has never heard about. The remarkable slowness of the Trump transition team in filling all these jobs is a very good thing.
The incompetence of the Trump transition team, the likes of which we`ve never seen is a bad thing.
And so, the longer incompetent people delay in doing what they`re doing, we`re always better off whenever incompetent people are delaying what they`re going to do.
And in this case, the government will essentially be run by the people who are running it now. The top level Obama appointees will leave by inauguration day.
But the professional permanent staff that lies right beneath them will still be in place, making everything work until the Trump appointees start populating the offices on top of them.
So far, there is no indication that we should be eager for the Trump employees to take their places in those offices.
The rumored frontrunner for Trump`s Secretary of State is former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani who of course has no foreign policy experience.
He will be the first Secretary of State whose last public office was mayor, the most thoroughly domestic public office that we have.
Rudy Giuliani is on the list not because of competence, not because of foreign policy experience, he`s on most entirely because of loyalty to Donald Trump.
In pre-Trump Washington where the old rules applied, Rudy Giuliani could never survive the Senate confirmation process.
The FBI background check would show that he had an out-of-control affair with his Press Secretary while he was mayor of New York.
That his marital life became unhinged with his wife kicking him out of the mayor`s residence of Gracie mansion. That he took up residence as a house guest in an apartment owned by friends of his.
The friends were a loving gay couple. And that is the best thing I know about Rudy Giuliani. Is that in his most desperate moment, desperate time of need, he turned to a gay couple for help.
He didn`t think no, I can`t do that, it will look bad if I -- if I go to them. He went where he felt safe and good for him, good that he did that.
But he needed to feel safe because he turned his life into a public mess. A public mess that the "New York Tabloids" covered daily.
And that the country never paid attention to, and the country has forgotten if they did pay attention to it.
Rudy Giuliani would bring conflicts of interest into any Senate confirmation hearing that would be impossible to clear if confirmation hearings operate under the same gravitational forces that they used to in the pre-Trump era.
But we are in a new era, a new era where campaign rules certainly don`t apply, and who knows what other rules don`t apply.
The question for the Republicans running the confirmation hearings in the United States Senate is whose rules are they going to use?
Their own rules or Trump rules? Senator Jeff Sessions is reportedly on the Trump shortlist to be either the next Secretary of Defense or the next Attorney General of the United States.
According to the old rules, Senator Jeff Sessions could not be confirmed by the United States Senate because in fact he wasn`t.
When Ronald Reagan nominated him for federal district court judgeship, the Senate Judiciary Committee rejected his nomination.
Something the committee had not done in 50 years. Jeff Sessions is now the Chairman of the Committee that rejected him.
He sits beside the ranking Democrat Patrick Leahy who voted against Jeff Session`s nomination in that committee in 1986.
Strom Thurmond, the former segregationist candidate for president was the Republican Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1986 and he tried to get Jeff Sessions` nomination through that committee, but he couldn`t.
Because Republicans defected and voted with all the Democrats to reject Jeff Sessions` nomination when they discovered that when he was working as a prosecutor in Alabama, he called the NAACP Un-American.
And he addressed a black lawyer as "boy". That`s why Jeff Sessions couldn`t get through Senate confirmation process under the old rules followed by Democrats and Republicans.
He couldn`t get through a Republican-controlled committee. If Jeff Sessions had been an editor of something like "Breitbart", Ronald Reagan wouldn`t have even nominated him.
The Reagan administration discovered those things about Jeff Sessions only after he was nominated.
But that was then, and Trump is now. Trump is now. And we don`t know what the rules are now.
Someone who traffics in much more than what Jeff Sessions said back then will be with the president every day in the White House as his senior strategist.
We don`t know who will be in that president`s cabinet. And we don`t know that now for two reasons.
Donald Trump hasn`t decided, and most importantly, we don`t know if the old rules still apply.
Joining us now, John Heilemann; managing editor of "Bloomberg Politics" and co-host of "WITH ALL DUE RESPECT" on Msnbc.
Also with us, Mike Murphy; long-time GOP strategist and host of the podcast Radio Free GOP, he is an Msnbc political analyst.
Mike Murphy, I want to go to you for the Republican perspective on this transition. It`s looking pretty messy from where we`re sitting.
MIKE MURPHY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yes, it`s messy. Now, we`ve had messy transitions before but we`re in new territory here, I think.
One of the main reasons why -- I think there are really two reasons. One, there`s kind of a culture of infighting in the Trump political world.
We saw so much of that during the campaign, and it`s not surprising that hasn`t changed. It`s just unfortunate.
And second, I think most, if not all of the senior Trump people, I believe this on some authority, thought they were going to lose.
So, there wasn`t that much focus on the transition, at least, not as much as you get on a campaign that`s highly confident they`re going to win.
So, they`re kind of behind the 8-ball to begin with. The infighting to me is the more worrisome thing because normally these transition efforts are about expanding to get the widest possible talent pool.
And they seem to be kind of in a purge mode and narrow, and that will not serve President-elect Trump very well.
O`DONNELL: We`re going break in here, we have some breaking news about the Trump transition and we`re going to be joined by phone now by Nbc`s Kristen Welker, Kristen?
KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS (via telephone): Hi there, Lawrence, good evening. Well, I`m just learning that according to a source familiar with the transition process, President-elect Donald Trump intends to select Lieutenant General Michael Flynn as his national security adviser.
Again, this is according to a source familiar with the transition process. Just to remind everyone who Flynn is.
He ran the defense intelligence agency from 2012 to 2014. He served as a top national intelligence adviser to General Stanley McChrystal in Iraq.
He was one of Trump`s top national security advisors throughout the campaign. As you will recall, a number of foreign policy experts distanced themselves from Donald Trump, not Michael Flynn.
This is someone who is considered a loyalist and as we have watched this transition process unfold, again roiled by reports of turmoil, Donald Trump seems to be really focusing right now in this initial phase on loyalists.
So, it would fit into that broader pattern. Now, I would of course caveat all of this that until we hear this from the president-elect himself, it`s not etched in stone.
But at this hour, according to the source who is familiar with the transition process, President-elect Donald Trump intends to select Lieutenant General Michael Flynn as his national security adviser.
This is not a position that requires confirmation. This is a pick that like his Chief of Staff, he gets to choose on his own and have installed.
O`DONNELL: Kristen, any word on when this announcement will be made?
WELKER: I do not have exact timing, but I wouldn`t be surprised if we get word within the next 24 hours, sometime tomorrow.
You`ll recall that Eric Trump earlier today said it`s likely we`re going to have some names by the end of the day today.
That has not happened. They are feeling some pressure to get some of these names out to start filling in the blanks of this cabinet.
So, I have not been given the exact timing, but I wouldn`t be surprised if we learned within the next day or two at the latest.
O`DONNELL: John Heilemann, a key point here is that this is a White House job, no Senate confirmation involved.
And General Flynn would certainly have --
JOHN HEILEMANN, MANAGING EDITOR, BLOOMBERG POLITICS: Yes --
O`DONNELL: A bumpy road --
HEILEMANN: Yes --
O`DONNELL: In the --
HEILEMANN: Yes --
O`DONNELL: Senate confirmation.
HEILEMANN: He would, he`s a very controversial figure for a variety of reasons.
You know, the -- someone who -- again controversial not just among Democrats who obviously are not going to like most of Donald Trump`s appointments.
But controversial among many people in the national security establishment, many people in the Republican mainstream. The thing about this appointment that, again, goes to me is most. If this is true, right?
National security advisors, like White House Chiefs of Staff, their job generally if they`re -- if they`re competent and qualified and effective is to be honest brokers in the White House.
That`s what they`re there for. They`re not there to be advocates, generally. They`re not there to be partisans, they`re not there to be ideologues.
The ones who do the job very well are the ones who lay out the range of options, filter down the range of options that are available to the president, lay them out in an honest, brokerage way and then let the president make the choice among those options.
Which is why in general, when you`re putting together a White House staff and putting together a good one, you`re looking for someone there who is not someone who`s going to be heavy-handed.
Not someone who has profound passionate commitments, but someone who again will play that role of honest broker.
Michael Flynn not exactly cut from that cloth. Someone who has very strong views about almost everything in the realm of national security and defense.
O`DONNELL: Mike Murphy, the -- that point about it doesn`t require Senate confirmations, so you get to pick who you want.
Though, obviously is a factor in this. But as John says, that job is the one that is physically closest to the president every day.
Closer than Secretary of State, closer than Secretary of Defense. And is supposed to be the funnel through which all of that information comes?
MURPHY: Right, it`s originally a super bureaucratic job to balance all the interests of the security aspects of the cabinet between defense and intelligence and of course the State Department.
But really, beginning with the Nixon White House, the one with Henry Kissinger, it became kind of a super powerful position.
But John is right, it`s traditionally the honest broker job. And I think the pattern we`re -- pattern we`re seeing here if this is true, and it probably as it`s been leaked kind of before.
He was the frontrunner, is that President-elect Trump is going for people he knows and people he feels are loyal to him, that`s not necessarily a bad thing.
But the troubling thing is, I don`t know that President Trump knows that many people. I`m not sure how big the menu is.
And there is, as John said, some bit of -- what would I say, controversy that while General Flynn is well experienced in intelligence matter, he is a controversial figure in the national security establishment in both parties.
O`DONNELL: We`re joined now by Ken Vogel of "Politico" who -- Ken, you have some reporting on General Flynn tonight?
KEN VOGEL, CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, POLITICO: Yes, that`s right. I was told that General Flynn and a guy by the name of Carl Higbie; a former Navy SEAL who served two tours in operation Iraqi freedom.
Who was a spokesman for one of the pro Donald Trump Super PACs that Flynn and Higbie were seen recently at the Pentagon meeting with some officials there.
So, I think that we have seen some preparations being made in this regard. Even as you reported in the opening, we haven`t seen the landing teams as they`ve called them actually meeting with folks at these agencies in official context.
Now that said, there was just a conference call that the Trump transition team held with the reporters in which they said that they are announcing their landing team tomorrow on the national security front.
This is the NSC. So, Flynn would be included potentially in that, as well as DOJ, Department of Defense and Department of State.
So, they`re clearly making moves. They may not be moves that insiders like in fact. Flynn has said that he could -- he would support cutting half the workforce, the civilian workforce at the Pentagon.
So, you see already this controversial, but that fits in. That reform- minded approach fits in with the one that Donald Trump has espoused so far.
O`DONNELL: And John, once again, we see loyalty seems to be the number one characteristic for Donald Trump`s selection. General Flynn being obviously, tightly loyal to Donald Trump throughout the campaign.
HEILEMANN: Yes, and somebody who -- I mean, again, to get some of the substance of why Flynn is so controversial.
In the national security establishment, it is somewhat frowned upon for people to take extremely harsh partisan roles in campaigns.
This is a guy who stood up at the Republican convention and reveled in the chants of "lock her up" about Hillary Clinton.
Who has called President Obama a liar. Who has just said that the U.S. Justice system is corrupt.
He`s become someone who for a lot of his former colleagues, people like Stanley McChrystal who looked at General Flynn and sort of said, this is not the person I thought I knew.
Not the kind of person who is going to be more buttoned-up kind of military figure and that partisan tone.
Also, someone who has advocated for a much tighter ties with Russia and had raised some eyebrows in terms of some of the consorting that he did around Washington.
Seen at a dinner party famously sitting next to Vladimir Putin. Again, raised a lot of eyebrows among national security officials who looked at him and thought these kind of behaviors were not what they had thought what he was like previously.
And there`s a -- kind of an undercurrent of the stories we read during the campaign of, this was a guy we thought we knew who seems to have changed in a profound way and become this much more kind of person --
O`DONNELL: Yes --
HEILEMANN: Figure, much more controversial figure, like someone who I think if you`re right, Lawrence, put in a position where he had to get Senate confirmation.
Again, under the old rules -- under the old rules --
O`DONNELL: Yes --
HEILEMANN: That you stipulated before would have a very hard time.
O`DONNELL: Right, and so Senate confirmations people should remember in these kinds of jobs, they`re normally routine for Defense Secretary.
And what you`re looking for is how much turbulence do you have with the minority party? How much turbulence do you have with the other party?
How much trouble did the Democrats cause for a particular nominee on the way to actually being confirmed.
And usually it`s very little. And in some of these instances, they clearly would be able to stop them and they`d get Republicans to switch --
VOGEL: And --
O`DONNELL: And stop -- go ahead, Mike.
VOGEL: And you know, and that`s right, you know, Lawrence, I mean, the -- what John just mentioned there about the ties with Russia. I mean, he advocated for closer cooperation with Russia in the Middle East.
Those would be things that would raise concerns among Republicans who are - -
O`DONNELL: Right --
VOGEL: Already uneasy with the nice things that President-elect Trump has said about Putin, has said about warming of relations with Russia.
And that people around him like Flynn, like Paul Manafort, his former campaign chairman who my sources say is still talking to President-elect Donald Trump and has close ties to the pro-Russian-Ukrainian party and oligarchs there.
Those are things that would raise concerns among hawkish Republicans.
O`DONNELL: Kristen Welker --
MURPHY: It`s also --
O`DONNELL: Hold on a second, Mike, I just want to get to Kristen for a second before she has to go.
Kristen Welker, the Trump campaign has said that they will have their official designees at the State Department, Defense Department, and national security agencies tomorrow.
What are we hearing about the rest of the government? Some of those they are more than a week away from getting their official contacts ready.
WELKER: That`s right. And I think they`re feeling some pressure to fill in these blanks before Thanksgiving, many of them at least.
If you look back at past administrations, they`re probably a little bit behind where former President George W. Bush was.
He filled out his cabinet fairly quickly. President Obama, it took him a number of days to do that and it took former President Bill Clinton even longer.
So, they`re not so far behind at the same time, Lawrence, I stressed that point they are feeling the pressure. They want to start naming names, particularly because they have all of these reports of turmoil.
One more point I`ll just make about Flynn is that we`re already seeing, and we`ve seen Democrats come forward and start to express their opposition.
Adam Schiff, who is of course the ranking member on the House Select Committee said earlier today I`d be worried about an impulsive president with an impulsive national security adviser.
So, even though this isn`t a position that necessarily requires confirmation, I think you`re going to see some push-back if in fact and when this does happen.
O`DONNELL: Kristen Welker, thank you very much for joining us with this breaking news tonight.
WELKER: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Mike Murphy, I think I cut you off there as Kristen was joining us.
MURPHY: No, just a point about General Flynn. He has a reputation reveling a very strong point of view, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
But in that job at the NSC, you`re supposed to be the fair broker that all the other interests can work with.
And there was this at least leak story about early in the process for candidate Trump to get intelligence briefings that Flynn attended and kept interrupting the professional briefer from the intelligence community.
Leading Governor Christie who at that time had a larger profile in Trump land to kind of interrupt and tell him to pipe down.
So, that`s not normally the personality you see in a national security adviser who`s supposed to get all the feuding departments and cabinet agencies to work well together.
O`DONNELL: And Ken Vogel, the -- one of the -- what`s the -- what is the word you`re getting on other potential nominees? Today was a day when other names started to emerge.
People like Nikki Haley and others for different jobs, additions to the -- to the possible lists.
VOGEL: Yes, I think we`re going to see them focus on these landing teams as they call them, and the ones they interact with the actual agencies and sort of facilitate the transition of power.
And we`ll see some hints in them, the folks who are named to them or folks who are going to be possibly nominees themselves, or the allies of those folks will be the folks on these landing teams.
That`s why I think this news about General Flynn was so interesting coming the day before they announced the landing team for national security.
So, that`s something to keep an eye on these landing teams. And it also is as Kristen suggested, an effort by the Trump team to change the narrative that they`re totally disorganized.
It`s not a coincidence that they have this press call hastily organized tonight. Literally like an hour before they had the call, they sent out an e-mail to reporters. And they`re saying it now every single day.
At 10:30 in the morning, they`re going to have one of these calls to update reporters on who Donald Trump is meeting with as well as possible nomination announcements.
O`DONNELL: And John, the crucial thing about the so-called landing teams, the official designees --
HEILEMANN: Right --
O`DONNELL: Is that`s how you actually populate those 400 jobs in the State Department. Getting the secretary is the easy part compared to what --
HEILEMANN: Yes --
O`DONNELL: The rest of those jobs are.
HEILEMANN: Yes, and it`s one of these things that, you know, goes to -- one doesn`t want to disqualify people from the presidency who have never served in the military or who have never served in public office before.
It`s fine in principle that an outsider could come in and become president of the United States.
But one of the things you`re lacking if you are -- come from that background is a lot of connections to the kind of networks of policy and regulatory and administrative specialists who you would populate a government with.
Donald Trump obviously knows many people in the country. But does he know 4,000 people through his extended networks? I don`t mean personally.
But can he -- in the way that someone like Barack Obama, someone like George W. Bush, someone like Bill Clinton could with effort and with organization with preparation eventually fill those 4,000 jobs with people who all at least met minimum qualifications, and often exceeded minimum qualifications.
It`s not clear that Donald Trump has that. Even if he thought he was going to win, is not clear that he has that, and he did not think he was going to win.
And so, they are on a very difficult posture. I agree with you in some sense that letting the bureaucrats, if you will --
O`DONNELL: All right --
HEILEMANN: Letting the career government officials run things is an OK idea for a while. The problem is that those jobs will eventually be filled.
O`DONNELL: Yes --
HEILEMANN: And the question is at some point when they start to just fill them with people, if they`re really late to this party, who will those people be?
O`DONNELL: Yes --
HEILEMANN: And how much damage can they do?
O`DONNELL: And --
MURPHY: Yes --
O`DONNELL: Most of these jobs --
HEILEMANN: Yes --
O`DONNELL: Are not Senate confirmation jobs. Go ahead.
VOGEL: Yes, and you know, I think they --
HEILEMANN: No ---
VOGEL: Limited the pool tonight because they announced on this press call that they would have not just a lobbying ban for people incoming.
They want to be -- a lot of lobbyists working with transition team. But a five-year post-employment lobbying ban. That`s unprecedented.
And that`s more than twice as long as what president Obama had. And President Obama actually had a difficult time finding people who were career government services professionals.
Because lobbying is such a part of the industry here that, you know, anyone who works in this community who is qualified, chances are at some point in time they will do something akin to lobbying, whether they`re actually registered as a lobbyist or not.
It was interesting to see this was an effort to emphasize the drain the swamp sort of approach to creating a new government.
But I think it also may play into this problem that he`s having of attracting a wide pool of talented and experienced folks.
O`DONNELL: Mike Murphy, you are --
MURPHY: Yes, the problem with the --
O`DONNELL: You are not lobbying --
MURPHY: Go ahead --
O`DONNELL: Republican, they need you.
MURPHY: Well, the problem with draining the swamp is you also kill everything that lives in the swamp.
And some swamp life is useful and has an important role. I think the other thing, I agree of the point about the career staff.
But one of the worries there was -- I`m up here today, I have a role, a defense-oriented think-tank, and it was me with some people.
And one thing you got to remember is if you get your top appointments wrong, you start to lose professional staff.
O`DONNELL: Yes --
HEILEMANN: Yes --
MURPHY: And because Donald Trump is controversial to begin with, there`s some stress or people are thinking about their career planning like the master sergeants of the army, the machinery runs on this professional staff.
You don`t want to lose them. And so you have to be careful about the signals you send.
There has been talk about some of the people in the National Security Council, the long-time kind of not particularly partisan staff.
And I`ll be interested to see if the next wave of leaks indicates unhappiness there. That`s something the Trump people have to manage.
Lastly, I`d say haste does not solve the problem. If they`re getting press heat for --
O`DONNELL: Right --
MURPHY: Being slow --
O`DONNELL: Oh, yes --
MURPHY: That`s bad. But better to be slow and right than quick and not good. So, I would be careful if I were them about rushing out stuff if they`re not ready.
And it looks to me like in many areas they`re just not ready yet, they have some time.
O`DONNELL: We have to get a quick break in here now, John Heilemann, Mike Murphy, Ken Vogel, thank you all, really appreciate it.
MURPHY: Thank you --
O`DONNELL: Coming up next, the man Donald Trump has named to be his senior strategist. Could not, absolutely could not pass a background check if we`re still using the old rules.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: I call upon Mr. Trump to rescind the appointment that he made of Mr. Bannon. A president of the United States should not have a racist at his side, unacceptable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was senator Bernie Sanders saying in effect that he wants Washington to operate under the old rules, where someone like Steve Bannon would never be allowed to visit the Whitehouse, never mind work there. 169 House Democrats signed a letter to the President-elect today urging him to "rescind this appointment immediately." Under the old rules, Steve Bannon could never get a security clearance. But there could be a new rule, the Trump Rule.
The Daily Beast reports today that if Steve Bannon is denied a security clearance, the President could simply overrule that denial and order that security clearance. joining us now, Tim Mak, senior correspondent for the Daily Beast. Tim, you reported on this extensively in the Daily Beast today, including the various processes involved in getting the security clearance. What are people telling you about someone like Steve Bannon going through the process to get a security clearance?
TIM MAK, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, "THE DAILY BEAST". Look, Steve Bannon raises as lot of regular flags. And what National Security experts are telling me, those in particular, these experts are experts in getting security clearances is that he would have a bumpy road. He would have a very difficult time getting a top secret clearance if he was anyone else. When you go through this top secret security clearance process, they ask about your foreign ties, whether you have any ties with violent groups, whether you have ever been arrested. And Steve Bannon has ties to the notorious alt-right. He has ties with far right groups in Europe, in Germany, in France, and in the past he has been charged with domestic abuse. This was some time ago, though, in 1996.
O`DONNELL: And what are the -- what do the experts tell you about the likelihood of a President overruling a judgment on security clearances? Do we know whether, if that is done it would be made public? Would we know that the President overruled and in effect granted the security clearance himself?
MAK: A couple of things. Firstly, we`ve never had someone appointed to such a senior level in the government in the Whitehouse, the top strategist to the President to need to set very many precedents in this regard. But ultimately, the President can choose who he or she surrounds himself or herself with. Steve Bannon, if President-Elect Trump wants him to have a security clearance, will get a security clearance because the President can overrule the intelligence community and the FBI investigators. now that may come at the expense of his relationship with lawmakers, the FBI, with the office of the Director of National Intelligence. But he can do it.
O`DONNELL: But as I say, will we know if he does it? Is it a public process where we would know that he has done that?
MAK: It`s not a public process. It`s possible that that information could get out there. But FBI Investigators and people in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence typically keep these sorts of things under wraps. But it`s impossible to tell if that sort of information might leak if there are disaffected bureau agents, if there are people working in intelligence who are unhappy about a man who under any normal circumstances would not be given access to the nation`s top secrets.
O`DONNELL: Tim Mak, thanks for your reporting tonight. Thanks for joining us, really appreciate it.
MAK: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, a Republican Senator wants the Senate now to investigate the hacking of the Democratic National Committee e-mails and any possible linkage to the Russian Government and Vladimir Putin. Adrian Karatnycky will join us and also get his reaction to this news that General Michael Flynn is on the verge of being announced as Donald Trump`s national security adviser.
O`DONNELL: Retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn was a campaign adviser to Donald Trump when he said this --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT: I don`t think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the DNC. She is saying Russia, Russia, Russia. Maybe it was. I mean, it could be Russia. But it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people. It could also be somebody that is sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, okay?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Did General Flynn guide him in that answer? Did he approve that answer? Did he give him that answer? Admiral Mike Roger, the current Director of the National Security Agency and the Commander of U.S. Cyber Command visited Donald Trump today at Trump Tower. Here is what Admiral Rogers said yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE ROGER, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY: there shouldn`t be any doubt in anybody`s mind. This was not something that was done casually. This was not something that was done by chance. This was not a target that was selected purely arbitrarily. This is a conscious effort by a nation state to attempt to achieve a specific effect.
(END VIDEO CLIP
O`DONNELL: So maybe now Donald Trump and maybe General Flynn think it wasn`t somebody sitting on a bed fooling around, doing some casual hacking. Senator Lindsey Graham now wants Congress, the Senate specifically, to hold hearings to investigate what Russia has been up to. Senator Graham says Russia`s misadventures throughout the world, including whether they were involved in hacking into the DNC should be investigated. Were they involved in Cyberattacks that had a political component to it in our elections, Graham asked. If so, Putin should be punished, joining us now, Adrian Karatnycky senior fellow at the Atlantic Council.
Adrian so we have an announcement tonight that if true will be of real interest to Vladimir Putin and the Russians, the Donald Trump`s National Security Adviser Lieutenant Flynn.
ADRIAN KARATNYCKY, SENIOR FELLOW, ATLANTIC COUNCIL: Lieutenant Flynn has - -
O`DONNELL: General Flynn, sorry.
KARATNYCKY: Has a very strong relationship with Russia today, the main propaganda vehicle externally of Russia. He participated in their 10th anniversary celebration in Moscow, this vehicle of disinformation.
O`DONNELL: This is Russia TV?
KARATNYCKY: The Russian -- it`s Russian TV, that broadcast it to the outside world. They`re on all your cable stations. In any event, he was there, and he has been a frequent, you know, guest on their talk shows. He has a cozy relationship with this Kremlin propaganda vehicle. And he is also an advocate of a close cooperative relationship with Russia.
So I think this is actually kind of related to what the head of the NSA said, which is mischief against the enemies of Russia or the critics of Russia. We saw it in the DNC. But we can also see it potentially operating within the Trump Administration. that is to say if there are particular candidates or people in positions of power that Russia doesn`t like, they could try to knock them off to create a better array of policy makers that would be more suitable to Kremlin interests. It`s really fascinating.
O`DONNELL: Yes. And so what Lindsey Graham is talking about there is the tip of a possible iceberg. Hacking DNC e-mails, that could be small compared to what they can do now.
KARATNYCKY: Absolutely, I mean, you know, current members of Congress, people who speak out. I mean there had been a lot of these hacks by these two entities that have been identified as Russian linked. And they`re called cozy bear and -- I don`t remember the other. There are these two entities that have been linked to hacks on -- against western entities, including George Soros` Foundations, including the DNC, including John McCain, including, you know, ad infinitum, including a German Europe entities. So there`s been a lot of this stuff going on.
O`DONNELL: Well listen to what President Obama said in Greece today about NATO because this maybe the last time we hear a President of United States say something like this at least for four years. Let`s listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In recent years, we`ve made historic investments in NATO, increased America`s presence in Europe. And today`s NATO, the world`s greatest alliance is as strong and as ready as it`s ever been. And I am confident that just as a America`s commitment to the transatlantic alliance has endured for seven decades, whether it`s been under a Democratic or Republican administration, that commitment will continue including our pledge and our treaty obligation to defend every ally.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That last line noted that that commitment will continue, our pledge to defend every ally. When Vladimir Putin hears that tonight, he can look forward to January where that kind of talk stops according to the candidate who Donald Trump was.
KARATNYCKY: Well, I think that the array of people that he`s going to put in and the candidates that are being discussed short of General Flynn are people who will try to prevent that kind of commitment from being watered down. These are pretty hawkish people, people who are committed to the Transatlantic Alliance. I think where Trump will push is to push these allies into greater military spending so that there are no free riders. But using, you know, loose talk about having separate but equal relationships within the NATO alliance is pretty dramatic and pretty scary to many of these countries.
O`DONNELL: What would you be looking for in any of the personnel decisions coming up in the Trump Administration that would be -- that would send a strong message to Russia?
KARATNYCKY: Well, I think that most of the candidates have been touted for Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State are -- well, you may question their competence, but certainly the signals that sent to Russia would be pretty tough. Even Rudy Giuliani who is pretty inexperienced in foreign affairs spoke recently through a Wall Street Journal or conference about a containment policy Visa be Russia post Crimea. So, you know, general sessions, Senator Sessions, Senator Corker, these are people who have very tough positions on Russia, very strong positions to provide say weapons, lethal weapons to Ukraine. So the names that he has suggested for these two portfolios are likely to be -- to give no comfort that means they could become prey to Russia`s Cyberwars.
O`DONNELL: Adrian Karatnycky, thank you very much for joining us tonight, really appreciate it. Coming up, Donald Trump`s big KKK supporter David Duke, who has never been happier with result of a presidential election than he is now has once again gone on an anti-semitic attack, this time against a United States Senator.
O`DONNELL: Alexander Hamilton designed the Electoral College. Alexander Hamilton was something that Ku Klux Klan, former Ku Klux Klan former leader David Duke would not like. He was an immigrant. He was not Jewish, though, which could only be relevant to David Duke.
Alexander Hamilton decided quickly that the Electoral College wasn`t working the way he wanted it to. He wanted it to be electors making independent decisions about who should be the best Presidents. He didn`t expect them to ban together and basically make political alliances to choose the next President.
And so Alexander Hamilton himself tried to get an amendment to the constitution that would change his own design of the Electoral College. But he failed. And yesterday Barbara Boxer, Senator from California took up Alexander Hamilton`s mantle and advanced in a Constitutional Amendment to change basically eliminate the Electoral College.
She introduced that in The United States Senate. And so today, so today David Duke tweeted this. Thank God our ancestors established a just system. These Jewish supremacists should stop trying to change everything. We`re joined now by Jonathan Greenblatt. He is the Ceo of the Anti-Defamation League. Jonathan, here is someone who has cheered the election of Donald Trump. And the only thing he sees, the only thing he sees when Barbara boxer takes the floor in the United States senate is a Jewish person. he doesn`t see anything else.
JONATHAN GREENBLATT, CEO, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: Right, right. look. David Duke Is a great example of the KKK Redux. 50 years ago he would have been hiding behind a white hood. Today he hides behind a keyboard. But the result is the same. A twisted vision that really doesn`t understand what makes America great.
O`DONNELL: And here we have Steve Bannon in the Whitehouse. Someone who in sworn testimony by his wife said that he didn`t want his kids going to school with Jews in Los Angeles. This is an unthinkable thing in any previous Whitehouse.
GREENBLATT: If that was on the record for any one you would never have to have --
O`DONNELL: Has you ever -- has the ADL ever objected to any one a president has chosen to bring into the Whitehouse on the job? ... GREENBLATT: Certainly not in recent memory. But these are very unusual times. And look, even if we don`t focus on the gossip, the facts are the same. This guy created Breitbart, essentially as the haven for the alt- right. A band of white supremacists who hate immigrants, Jews, Muslims, African Americans, anyone who doesn`t comport to their notion of white supremacy.
O`DONNELL: And what do you expect? Do you feel like there is now any kind of new jurisdiction for the ADL? There has to be a new attentiveness.
GREENBLATT: Yes. Well, you know, the ADL was founded over 100 years ago with a mission to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and secure justice and fair treatment for all. So we fought for African Americans in the civil rights movement, the LGBT community in the `90s. And today we`re fighting for immigrants and people in all minority communities who find themselves under assault by this new resurgent movement of white supremacy.
O`DONNELL: What do you say to the people who say well, so and so, whoever it, whether Donald Trump or anyone, can`t be an anti-Semite because he is related to, because his son-in-law, because --
GREENBLATT: Something is happening out there, Lawrence. Since last Tuesday`s election night, we have seen a surge in hate crimes across the country. We have seen vandalism, acts of violence, verbal harassment. In real world, I`m not even talking what is happening on social media. So again it`s hard to ascertain intent, but the outcome is pretty scary.
O`DONNELL: Jonathan Greenblatt, thank you very much for joining us. It`s a sad subject. and I wish we weren`t in it.
GREENBLATT: me too.
O`DONNELL: But here we are. Thank you very much.
GREENBLATT: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, the big changes the Democrats made in Washington today as they now brace for their role as the opposition party in Congress.
O`DONNELL: Democrats in the Senate today voted in a new leader. But they might have more than one leader now. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: The United States Senate on the Democratic side today had their election for the new leadership team. Chuck Schumer, as expected, was elected the Democratic Leader, the Minority Leader of the Senate by his Democratic Senate Colleagues. Bernie Sanders was elected to a leadership position created for him. They are calling it the Chair of Outreach. Elizabeth Warren is in the position called Vice Chair, which was the position Chuck Schumer had before he was elevated to Minority Leader.
There are two kinds of leaders now in the Democratic Senate. One is the leader of the Senate, the leader of the Democrats in the Senate that is clearly Chuck Schumer. But who will be the leader of the opposition, which is a different job, unofficial job. Joining us now, R. T. Rybak Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee and the former Mayor of Minneapolis. He`s the author of Poll Hole Confidential: My Life as Mayor of Minneapolis. Mayor of Minneapolis being makes you a distinguished successor to the last mayor who found himself a Democratic Nominee for President, Hubert Humphrey. That`s quite a distinguished lineage you have there.
I`m wondering now. We know Chuck Schumer is going to be the minority leader in the senate. That`s a job that is filled with a variety of burdens that make it difficult for him to always be in all instances the strongest voice of opposition in the senate. That makes me wonder about Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren In the senate. both of whom are in a position to simply step forward whenever they choose as strong voices of opposition to what the Republicans are trying to push. What do you expect to see from Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in this new senate?
R. T. RYBAK, VICE CHAIR, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: I don`t think their voices are going to change at all. And it`s what Democrats have always been saying. We are stronger together, but we`re going to fight like heck if anybody tries to divide us.
And that`s what Trump talked about in the campaign. If he goes back there, we`re going to fight like heck. It`s why I supported Keith Ellison for chairing the Dnc because I know Keith. And I know he`s not going to take a lot of stuff. He`s going to be in the halls of Congress arguing. But he is going to go out to the protests and talk to people.
That`s why somebody like a Tim Ryan can go to a bar in Youngstown just as well as in Congress and talk to working people. Democrats know how to carry the message. We just have to take some telephone new voices and bring them forward.
O`DONNELL: What is your advice to Democrats when legislation starts to come their way in the House and in the Senate, especially if it is I`d say giant tax cut that includes some tax provisions that they like?
RYBAK: Well, I believe we stand strongly against having the tax code used to make the income disparity in America any worse than it already. Democrats know that. I think we should not do what the Republicans did, which is to spend eight years saying they would do absolutely nothing because we do stand for the country.
So if there is a big bill to do infrastructure improvements and it is about working people, let`s do that. But let`s absolutely fight with every ounce that we have to protect healthcare and make it even better. And I think the fact of the matter is this is a tough moment for democrats. But it`s also exciting to see so many people out there mobilized. Let`s take all that energy. Let`s be the Democrats we know we have always been. And maybe every once in a when an opposition that lets you get even more tougher and clear about what you`re about. I think that`s a good thing for Democrats.
O`DONNELL: And what do you say to Democrats who are dispirited, who have turned off their TVs. They don`t want to hear any of this news. They want to rest from all of this?
RYBAK: Yes, boy, I would too. I`d like to curl up in a ball like Hillary said she would but she is out. And I think we all have to go do that. The fact of the matter is we don`t have the luxury of pulling back from this. I remember the first few months of the Reagan administration when all sorts of things happened too fast. We cannot allow that to happen. Get out there, battle, fight. We know what we believe and we`ll come back and win or not if we sit back.
O`DONNELL: R.T. Rybak thank you very much for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.
O`DONNELL: MSNBCs Live coverage continues now into "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams. That`s next.