Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: November 17, 2016 Guest: Steve Schmidt, Eugene Robinson, Rick Wilson, David Frum, J.D. Vance, George Takei
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: That does it for us -- somebody who read much, including the approximately 14 zillion of you to whom I sent the book and demanded that you must read it.
John Lewis, national book award recipient, best new thing in the world. 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, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Rachel, hold on a second, let me just check on my volume here because something`s got to be wrong.
I heard you say, you sent the book to 14 zillion people, right?
MADDOW: I was rounding down, so my accountant wouldn`t hear me, but yes.
O`DONNELL: I don`t seem to have it anywhere here. I -- Rachel, I`m a floor away. I just -- I --
MADDOW: I`ll hook you up.
O`DONNELL: OK --
MADDOW: I will hook you up.
O`DONNELL: All right, so, I didn`t mishear at this 14 zillion --
MADDOW: No --
O`DONNELL: And I wasn`t one of the 14 zillion, OK? --
MADDOW: No, I will hook you up --
O`DONNELL: OK --
MADDOW: Before I leave the building tonight.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you. Well, Mitt Romney called Donald Trump a phony and a fraud and now Mitt Romney has been called to Trump Tower to meet with the man himself about the possibility of being his Secretary of State.
Because if you`re trying to choose a cabinet from Republicans who haven`t called Donald Trump a phony and a fraud, there just aren`t enough people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST: I see from the level of my Xanax bottle, it`s been a week since the election of Donald Trump.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much everybody.
ANGELA MERKEL, CHANCELLOR, GERMANY (through translator): In the United States of America, eight years, and that`s it, out goes the president and a new one comes in.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She ran an extraordinarily unconventional campaign.
TRUMP: We`re going to build a wall!
OBAMA: He now has to transition to governance.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that these --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Keep running your mouth --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Conversations are always best in private --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Particularly when you`re forming a cabinet.
JIMMY KIMMEL, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST: And it`s going to be a solid, gold cabinet, full of all the finest snacks.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Trump is not draining the swamp, nope. He`s inviting the biggest, ugliest swamp monsters in the front door.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: It`s just very humbling to me to be back in a room I spent 12 years as a member of Congress in.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No disrespect for the sensitivity and knowledge of the president-elect.
TRUMP: Bing-bong --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know the territory, so in that territory, we will try to find our common ground where we can and for extended ground when we can.
JON STEWART, COMEDIAN: This fight has never been easy.
OBAMA: Do not take for granted our systems of government and our way of life.
STEWART: We`re fighting against thousands of years of human behavior and history to create something that no one`s ever -- that`s what`s exceptional about America, it`s an incredible thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Donald Trump and his transition team are doing everything they possibly can to change the message about what they`re looking for during the transition.
With the appointment of Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon to the White House staff, and the "Ap" reporting tonight that Donald Trump has offered General Michael Flynn the job of national security adviser.
The message has been clear -- loyalty is everything. When the Trump team floated the name Rudy Giuliani for Secretary of State, it was obvious that loyalty meant everything because Rudy Giuliani has no qualifications for Secretary of State.
Has no foreign policy experience. But today, the Trump team dramatically reversed that message by floating the name Mitt Romney for Secretary of State.
Mitt Romney is scheduled to meet Donald Trump on Sunday. The same Mitt Romney who did everything he could to prevent Donald Trump from becoming president of the United States.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY, FORMER GOVERNOR OF MASSACHUSETTS: He`s not of the temperament of the kind of stable, thoughtful person we need as leader.
His imagination must not be married to real power. Think of Donald Trump`s personal qualities.
The bullying, the greed, the showing off, the misogyny, the absurd third grade theatrics. Donald Trump is a phony, a fraud.
His promises are as worthless as a degree from Trump University.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And here`s what Donald Trump had to say about the man who might be his Secretary of State.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I backed Mitt Romney, I backed him, you can see how loyal he is. He was begging for my endorsement.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, yes --
TRUMP: I could have said, Mitt, drop to your knees, he would have dropped to his knees.
He was begging -- true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: So, is Mitt Romney going to have to drop to his knees on Sunday? Isn`t that going to be the first question asked about the meeting after it happens?
Did Mitt Romney drop to his knees? And does Donald Trump mean drop to his knees or does Donald Trump mean -- is the meeting with Mitt Romney Donald Trump`s way of trying to show that he`s not as bad a person as the character he played during the campaign?
The character he played for all those gullible voters who believe Mexico is going to pay for the wall? Is that why he met with South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley today?
After Donald Trump won her state primary, Governor Nikki Haley said, "Donald Trump is everything we teach our kids not to do in kindergarten."
Initial rumors indicated that Nikki Haley might be up for Secretary of State, but new reporting from Nbc News is that she might be up for Health and Human Services or Education Secretary.
Which makes a lot more sense for someone with no foreign policy experience. The Obama administration confirmed today that "the Trump transition team has officially authorized individuals to begin receiving briefings and other materials from our transition teams at select agencies.
We respect to receive additional names for a wider range of agencies." The Trump transition team is now officially represented at the State Department and the Department of Defense.
But the Trump team has no one at the Treasury yet, no one at the Department of Labor, the Commission on Civil Rights.
The National Transportation Safety Board or the Office of Government Ethics or the Securities and Exchange Commission or the Social Security Administration or the Commission on International Religious Freedom.
Now, I didn`t know that there was a Commission on International Religious Freedom until I found it -- here we go, in my plum book, the book I`ve been showing you all week that contains all the jobs subject to presidential appointments.
Slang term for it in Washington is the plum book. You`re supposed to look through it and find the plum you wanted.
The agencies I just mentioned are the tip of the iceberg of all of the places in the government that the Trump transition is so far ignoring.
And it`s hard to imagine anything good for America is going to happen when the Trump team does invade the equal employment opportunity commission or the Securities and Exchange Commission.
So, let`s not complain about how slowly the Trump team is moving to take over the executive branch of government.
Newt Gingrich finally killed speculation today that he might be in line for a cabinet post. I have long said that Newt Gingrich could not survive the Senate confirmation process. And you will know much of the political news media doesn`t seem to understand that.
It`s very clear that Newt Gingrich now does. Today, he confirmed to Nbc News that he will not be in Donald Trump`s cabinet.
He said, "I want to focus on strategic planning for the emerging Republican majority from local government through the executive branch."
Translation? Newt Gingrich will be watching the Trump administration from a "Fox News" studio between adventures on the paid lecture circuit.
Newt Gingrich was reprimanded by the House Ethics Committee while he was speaker of the house in 1997.
The first speaker of the house to be punished by the house for an ethics violation. Newt Gingrich taught a course at Reinhardt College in Waleska, Georgia, while he was a member of Congress.
And he accepted campaign contributions on the condition that he would teach certain ideas, favored by the industry group that made that contribution.
A Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly to reprimand their own Republican speaker.
The vote was 395 to 28 to reprimand Newt Gingrich and fine him $300,000. Newt Gingrich`s marital life has been a repeated cycle of marriage affairs, divorce, marriage again, then another affair.
Then another divorce, then another marriage to the person he was just having an affair with and so on.
It is unlikely that any of that would come up at a confirmation hearing, but would all be detailed in the FBI background check report about Newt Gingrich that members of the committee would read. But there would be no reason to mention it at the confirmation hearing.
Because when you have someone who was reprimanded and fined by the House of Representatives sitting in your confirmation hearing, that`s pretty much all you`re going to talk about.
Which is why we have never had someone who`s been reprimanded by the House Ethics Committee and fined sitting nominee to a president`s cabinet because no president has ever been that crazy.
We don`t know if Donald Trump is that crazy because the most likely scenario here is that Newt Gingrich knowing more about the Congress than anyone else on the Trump team figured this out for himself.
Whether he heard me say it on TV or not, he figured out for himself that there`s no way he could get through a Senate confirmation.
Cabinet nominees like Nikki Haley and Mitt Romney would probably have smooth confirmation hearings right up until the Democrats got to ask questions.
And ask them about what, if any, contact they have had with Steve Bannon, who is never going to become old news for opponents of the Trump White House.
Joining us now, Eugene Robinson; Pulitzer Prize-winning opinion writer for "The Washington Post" and an Msnbc political analyst.
Also with us, Steve Schmidt, a Republican strategist and an Msnbc political analyst. Steve, it looks like there`s a message shift here away from loyalty is everything.
STEVE SCHMIDT, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: No, there is. Look, one of the promises that Donald Trump made during the campaign was that he was going to fill the government with the very best people in the country.
And one of the things that he said in his election night speech was that he was going to be president for all of the people including people who disagreed with him.
Including people that were opponents. Now, when you look at the first prospective 100, 150 days of the administration, they can pass a legislative agenda or they can be in a nominations quagmire if they nominate some people that may not get through the process.
The Republicans are in the majority, but it`s a small majority. They can afford to lose three votes. And you can think of any of a dozen of the names that have been floated for Attorney General, for Secretary of State, for Secretary of Defense.
They just may not have the votes on the Republican side to be able to make it through. So, if he nominates people of exceptional quality, and I`d put Governor Romney squarely into that category.
He would be a fantastic pick to be the United States Secretary of State. This is going to be a good sign.
It`s a good sign for the administration, it`s a good sign for the country. I do think that you`re seeing him play like a cat does with a mouse with the -- with the media on this --
O`DONNELL: Yes --
SCHMIDT: As they`re floating everybody out there. The truth of the matter is, we just don`t have any idea who`s going to be nominated for what in any of these positions. And I think soon enough, we`ll find out.
O`DONNELL: Gene Robinson, the notion of Mitt Romney is one of the first that makes sense. He would have been on any Republican`s list for very high-level cabinet posts. And is it -- will it be -- will it prove to be a shift away from the Bannon approach to staffing?
EUGENE ROBINSON, OPINION WRITER, WASHINGTON POST: Well, I guess, it could be. I am extremely skeptical that Mitt Romney will ever be nominated by Donald Trump to be Secretary of State despite the meeting.
I`ve been proved wrong about Donald Trump before, so maybe he will. But can you imagine the discussion they would have, for example, about Russia and Vladimir Putin?
O`DONNELL: Yes --
ROBINSON: Mitt Romney, if you recall four years ago, said, you know, Russia is the number one threat to U.S. security and was laughed at.
He turned out to have a point. And Donald Trump, of course, says, hey, let`s get together with Putin and we can work together and sing kumbaya and it will all be fine.
So, just on that basis alone, I don`t see how these two men could work together, and I don`t see how Mitt Romney would agree to subsume his views about foreign policy to Donald Trump`s ignorance about foreign policy.
O`DONNELL: Now, we`re going to listen to something Steve Bannon said about Mitt Romney a couple of years ago.
And I just want to stress to everyone listening that this is about Mitt Romney. He is not talking about Donald Trump, just remember that.
He`s -- Steve Bannon is talking about Mitt Romney, listen to this.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
STEVE BANNON, EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN, BREITBART NEWS: This is a guy who avoided military duty in Vietnam, who has five sons who look like movie stars who have not served their country one day.
Oh -- but by the way --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right --
BANNON: All of them did -- all of them did their two years of Mormon missionary work, every one of them.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: So, Steve, he could have said the same thing about Donald Trump who avoided military duty during Vietnam and Donald Trump`s sons.
But he could not say that Donald Trump`s sons ever did any kind of missionary duty for anyone.
SCHMIDT: No, he couldn`t. You know --
O`DONNELL: But --
SCHMIDT: I mean, Donald Trump had a serious bone spur issue.
O`DONNELL: Right, but I mean, this is -- this is the team that they`re talking about the possibility of assembling.
Putting Mitt Romney in the same room as a guy who has said this about him. Mitt Romney in the same room with the president who he has said is a fraud.
SCHMIDT: Sooner or later in this administration, if it has any chance to be successful, there will be people in the cabinet, maybe not in the first wave and maybe not in the second wave.
But certainly by the third wave, who have said bad things about Donald Trump and were skeptical about his presidency, about his candidacy.
And I think that Donald Trump would be well served to show in victory magnanimity, to be able to reach out to those who opposed him.
And also, I think to work with Democrats in the Congress, for example, on the infrastructure package.
I mean, one of the things that`s very clear is that when he talks about a trillion-dollar infrastructure package, he may not have met very many members of the Republican conference.
But they are -- they`re not for that stuff and he`s going to have to work with Democrats to get that part of his agenda done.
So, he`s going to be reaching out to a lot of people who have been very critical of him if he`s going to get anything done.
O`DONNELL: OK, we got some breaking news, we`re going to go by phone to "Cnbc`s" Phil LeBeau. Phil, what are you reporting tonight?
PHILIP LEBEAU, REPORTER, CNBC: Well, Lawrence, this has to do with a tweet that was sent out by President-elect Donald Trump.
And essentially what he said in the tweet is, "had a pleasant conversation with Bill Ford, who is the Chairman of the Ford Motor Company. Good news, they`re not moving Lincoln production to Mexico, staying in Kentucky."
At first blush, if you saw this tweet, you would think that Ford, which has been bashed over the last year by Donald Trump for its plans to move small car production to Mexico.
At first blush, you would think that Ford is reversing course. Is deciding that, you know what? Instead of building these small cars in Mexico, we`re going to build them in Kentucky.
Well, we`ve chased this down, and most people that we`ve talked to in the Ford Motor Company, they`re scratching their heads because the plan for future production of vehicles in Mexico never involved moving a Lincoln model down there.
It involves moving a couple of small cars from a plant in Mexico or -- I`m sorry, outside of Detroit and then taking those assembly lines and building a new SUV and a new small pickup, not losing any jobs in Michigan.
So, near as we can tell, this is a tweet where Donald Trump is perhaps taking a congratulatory call from Bill Ford, and in the course of that conversation, this is purely deduction.
In the course of that conversation, perhaps Bill Ford said, look, we have no further plans than what we`ve already announced to move any other production to Mexico.
These vehicles that are built in the U.S. are staying in the U.S. that includes X, Y, and Z. The Lincoln MKZ is built at the Louisville assembly plant, it`s staying there.
And perhaps Donald Trump said, oh, great, I`ve made my point. That`s as much as we can tell at this point, Lawrence.
Because it`s one of those tweets that have people in the auto industry tonight scratching their heads a bit, because Ford never said it was moving the Lincoln SUV out of Kentucky and down to Mexico.
O`DONNELL: Phil, thank you for this because this tweet came out just as I was walking into the studio.
And my first reaction to it was, I don`t remember Ford ever saying that they were moving any assets out of Kentucky or closing any assets in Kentucky or any assets having to do with Lincoln.
And so, those are the two specifics in the tweet, is Lincoln and Kentucky, and you`re telling us that there`s never been a Ford Motor Company plan to move --
LEBEAU: Correct --
O`DONNELL: Anything from there.
LEBEAU: Correct. The Lincoln MKZ is built at the Louisville assembly plant, it`s where they build their SUVs, not just for Lincoln, but for Ford models.
And the plan is to continue building those there. Unless something radical has changed in the last couple of hours.
And believe me, you would start to hear from union representatives and other people if that were the case. Near as we can tell, there is no plan to move Lincoln production down to Mexico, never was.
O`DONNELL: "Cnbc`s" Phil LeBeau, thank you very much for chasing that one down, Phil. This confirms what I suspected as I was walking into the studio tonight, really appreciate it, thank you, Phil.
LEBEAU: You bet.
O`DONNELL: Eugene Robinson, so, this is one of the reasons why a White House very carefully monitors any outgoing messages about --
ROBINSON: Yes --
O`DONNELL: Anything in the world. Whether it`s in Kentucky or whether it`s in a foreign country, but Donald Trump with the Twitter machine just let`s it fly.
ROBINSON: Yes, you know, imagine if he`s president of the -- you know, when he`s president of the United States.
And if he sends out a tweet like that about where missiles are being moved in Europe, for example.
You know, and -- oh, you know, no missiles in Poland or something like that. And it`s -- you know, this is not the first time Donald Trump has used Twitter to take credit for things that he had no involvement in or things that indeed were of his imagination.
And I anticipate, and I certainly hope that once he gets to the White House, they`ll get the phone away from him and we won`t have to risk international incidents over this sort of thing.
O`DONNELL: But Steve, in the new world order, does this do Donald Trump any harm at all with his millions of Twitter followers who get this?
Most of them won`t --
SCHMIDT: Right --
O`DONNELL: At this moment be watching this show and see a correction of it. They may never see a correction of it. They -- this tweet is their truth.
SCHMIDT: Here`s the larger issue I think. And this hasn`t been reported, and I don`t mean to come on the show and break news.
But this is not the first CEO he has had conversations with as president- elect regarding offshoring jobs outside of American jurisdiction.
I think you`re going to see a president of the United States when he reads in the paper the company X is moving Y jobs to Mexico, to Vietnam.
The CEO is going to get a call from the president of the United States and say don`t do it. And I think he`s going to be very interventionist in a very unusual way in this space.
And he`s already made some of these calls to some CEOs as president-elect. And this aspect of his candidacy, fighting for these blue-collar jobs in states that have been forgotten, have been left behind.
Whose voters have been paid lip-service by politicians of both parties. I think it`s going to be exciting for these voters, it`s going to be invigorating to them, and I think it`s going to fuel his popularity with them.
O`DONNELL: We`re joined now by Rick Wilson joining this breaking news conversation about the news that Donald Trump`s announcement tonight that Ford Motor Company will not be moving the Lincoln plant in Kentucky to Mexico.
Is not news since Ford Motor Company never had any intention of making such a move.
And I just wanted to get your reaction to this cycle where Donald Trump tweets something out to his followers --
RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: True --
O`DONNELL: Who don`t have fact-checking tools immediately handy at home. The fact-checking is done, turns out to be false, but in Trump world, what is the truth?
WILSON: Everything is in the rear view mirror in Trump world. And, you know, I`m sure he had a conversation.
I think your -- I think the characterization of it is -- was someone made a moment ago was correct, it was a congratulatory call and he decided he would make himself the hero of this little narrative, even though there was no basis of it.
Either he misinterpreted it or he`s being a fabulous -- either one of those things is easily believable. But you know -- but I think Steve is largely right.
You know, that`s a narrative that he`s going to want to push out there, truth or not, because he recognizes that a lot of the blue-collar workers that have come out for him, particularly in the Midwest and in the -- and in the industrial belt are going to find this story very appealing, even if it wasn`t real.
O`DONNELL: Eugene Robinson, the other piece of the story is that by the time Donald Trump, you know, as Steve describes it, reads a piece in the "Wall Street Journal" about a plant that`s going to be closing down in some state and they`re going to open another one in Mexico.
It`s too late for the president to do anything about that, and his dream of suddenly imposing a tariff on that one company --
ROBINSON: Yes --
O`DONNELL: In that one country is impossible. And it`s not a presidential power, and Congress has never imposed a tariff on an individual company nor can they do that. And so, the power that he imagines he has, he doesn`t have.
ROBINSON: No, he doesn`t have the power to do that. He does have the bully pulpit or will have the bully pulpit of the presidency.
And you know, as Steve Schmidt certainly implied, and I think was saying, you know, that`s a powerful thing.
If you get a phone call from the president of the United States saying don`t do this, you know, you have to pay attention.
Even if that president is Donald Trump and even if the decision is already made. And enough of those phone calls and that just becomes a factor.
It becomes another data point. It becomes something that`s in a CEOs mind that OK, we`re going to do this but I`m going to get a phone call or maybe there`s another way to -- you know, another way to handle the issue we`re trying to deal with here.
Maybe we can compensate somehow by creating some jobs in the U.S. I don`t know, ideally, that`s how this approach from Trump would work out, we`ll have to see.
SCHMIDT: Yes, look, here`s the policy implication for this. You know, it`s been bankers who have been the target.
The target of a regulatory machine --
O`DONNELL: Right --
SCHMIDT: You know, believed -- you know, that Elizabeth Warren was ascendant. Bankers are going to do great.
Large multi-nationals, offshoring jobs are in the crosshairs of the president-elect, of the Democratic Congress, and corporate America has got a big-time target on its back and they have low thresholds for pain.
Low thresholds for pain.
O`DONNELL: All right, we`re going to leave it there, Eugene Robinson, Steve Schmidt, thank you for joining us, really appreciate it.
Coming up, the president-elect who campaigned that he would be better than Hillary Clinton at protecting America`s secrets has been talking to world leaders on his unsecured personal cellphone.
And a Donald Trump supporter justified a Trump proposal to create a registry of Muslims by citing the United States` internments of Japanese- Americans during World War II.
George Takei was one of those Japanese-Americans, he will join us later.
O`DONNELL: Big surprise. Donald Trump is now doing something that he condemned Hillary Clinton for doing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Clinton and her cronies have sacrificed your security, your family`s safety and your country`s safety as though it meant nothing at all to her.
Hillary is the one who endangered national security for you and your family by sending classified information on an insecure server.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: You can do the same thing on an insecure telephone, and that is what Donald Trump has done.
The Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called Donald Trump on his personal cellphone number. The Australian Prime Minister got that number through very unofficial channels.
He got it from the Australian professional golfer Greg Norman. "News Corp Australia" reported Mr. Turnbull`s office confirmed Greg Norman passed on Donald Trump`s private mobile number to the Prime Minister.
The "New York Times" this week reported American allies were blindly dialing into Trump Tower trying to reach the soon-to-be-leader of the free world.
Donald Trump met with his first foreign leader today, Japan`s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. No word yet on how many American jobs Japan agreed to return to the United States. Joining us now, Rick Wilson, Republican strategist and contributor to the website "Heat Street".
Also with us, David Frum, senior editor for "The Atlantic" and former speechwriter for President George W. Bush.
So, Rick, there`s Donald Trump not following protocol. There`s a transition protocol for president-elect having any kind of telephone communication with foreign leaders and we`re way outside the protocol.
WILSON: You know, I am sure by now someone is offering him the right crypto and the right equipment but, obviously, he`s a creature of great habit. And I`m sure he`s going to just do what he wants to do, regardless. But, you know, national security, although a lot of people think that`s where he`s going to be strong, it looks increasingly like that`s where he`s not going to be as strong.
O`DONNELL: And David Frum, there`s a new report tonight, the latest rumor. It`s hard to even call them leaks, because you`re not sure where they`re coming from, but the latest rumor, The Guardian reporting that David Petraeus is in the running to be Donald Trump`s secretary of state. Of course David Petraeus, a former CIA director who pleaded guilty to mishandling classified information. And David Frum, after a campaign where you attack Hillary Clinton every day for being reckless with classified information, David Petraeus?
DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: Look, I`ve been saying this all week, people have to stop being so fussy. And you have to stop worrying about little ethical inconsistencies. If you can get David Petraeus into the Trump cabinet, be grateful. Because the situation is so dangerous, that`s the same thing with Mitt Romney. There are people who watch the show, I`m sure who have many criticisms of Mitt Romney.
If you could get him, if we could explain to the president-elect that the job of the president is to tweet while the secretary of state runs the country that would be a miracle and a blessing. It`s really -- the new -- the likely new national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was a paid agent of Russia and Turkey and took intelligence briefings while being a paid agent. As called for the deportation almost led to his death of a person who has received shelter in the United States and the Turks want to kill.
We have a foreign intelligence penetration of the upper branches of American government gathering. If David Petraeus will do this job, forgive him his e-mail infractions, please.
O`DONNELL: All right. You win that round --
FRUM: He`s a patriot.
O`DONNELL: You win that round David Frum. Anything is better than Donald Trump. And whoever those generals are who Donald Trump thinks that he`s way smarter than, we don`t want any of them. Rick Wilson, what about Lieutenant General Flynn and his selection, which doesn`t require senate confirmation to be the national security adviser?
WILSON: As David just pointed out, General Flynn is regarded by a lot of folks in the intelligence community as the tip of the spear on what is basically a de facto intelligence penetration by the soviets of our government at the highest level. This is a guy who has, you know, had cozy dinners with Putin. This is a guy who the intelligence agency regards not only as temperamentally unsuited for the job, but possibly compromised. And this is -- he`s a danger in a number of areas.
Like I said, the intelligence community is blowing up tonight over the possibility of Michael Flynn being in one of the most senior and most sensitive positions who has access to literally every bit of intelligence product this country produces.
O`DONNELL: David, you tweeted today that we should all be studying the 25th amendment.
FRUM: Presidents can be removed in two ways. By impeachment of course or high crimes and misdemeanors and we have a pretty high bar for what constitutes that. But if somebody is simply psychologically or physically incapable, there`s also a process in the constitution, article 4, section 4 of the 25th amendment that says it`s a complicated process, it`s difficult to do. I don`t predict that this will happen at all.
But I do think we`re going to be talking about it more and more as we wonder about the mental state of the president-elect.
O`DONNELL: All right. We`re going to have to leave it there for tonight. David Frum and Rick Wilson, thank you both for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.
FRUM: Thank you.
WILSON: Thanks Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, Trump supporters are going to be disappointed if they`re expecting Donald Trump to keep those promises. Most of them are impossible promises. How many broken promises will it take for them to turn on Donald Trump? That`s next.
O`DONNELL: Here is one of the very important promises that Donald Trump made to his voters. It was about a complicated subject that most voters, Trump voters, Clinton voters, most voters across the country do not understand, but he repeated it constantly, and it`s the way he has promised to bring lost American manufacturing jobs back. Here is that promise.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We`re also going to stand up to foreign currency manipulation, which is the single greatest threat that we have on our trade, and there is nobody, nobody that does it better than China. They are grand masters. And we`re going to apply tariffs and taxes to countries that cheat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: It wasn`t one of the big applause lines at the rallies, the whole foreign currency manipulation thing, but during the time Donald Trump has been running for president, the Chinese currency has dropped more than dramatically than it has in years. It has dropped very steeply in recent days, since Donald Trump won the presidency, and this is not good news for American manufacturing, because it makes Chinese goods cheaper on the international market, so it`s not good news for people who are afraid of losing manufacturing jobs in the United States, or the Trump voters who want to bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States.
It`s also not good news for the Chinese people. It`s very bad news for the Chinese people who have money, because the value of their money is going down every day. Imagine a savings account, where the value of it goes down every day and you haven`t withdrawn a penny. And the only way to hold on to that value for the Chinese is to use their money to buy something outside of China. In effect, to put their money in a savings account in another currency or as the very rich Chinese do, buy a piece of property in United States, like maybe an apartment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I love the Chinese. They buy my apartments for millions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: So, the sharp drop in the Chinese currency is bad for American manufacturing, but American manufacturing jobs, it`s bad for the Chinese, and it`s good for Donald Trump. And Donald Trump`s children, and his grandchildren but because Donald Trump is now the President-Elect Of The United States, of course he must already be doing battle with the Chinese, against his own interests. Doing battle with the Chinese over this drop in their currency even though this drop in their currency is due to economic pressures and market forces within china, it does not appear to be a manipulated drop in currency, manipulated by the Chinese government.
It is, in the view of today`s Wall Street Journal, the most important thing in the world. The most important economic story in the world and there it is on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, the number one story. Right beside the picture of the of the current vice president shaking hands with the next vice president, there is no comment from Donald Trump in that story, on the front page of the Wall Street Journal.
But when you follow the story over to page eight, you discover down deep in the middle of the story, this sentence. Representatives for Mr. Trump could not immediately be reached for comment. That`s all it has. All the article has about Donald Trump. Could not immediately be reached for comment, because, why? They`re busy selling apartments to the Chinese?
Donald trump is going to do absolutely nothing about fluctuations in the Chinese currency, despite what he said at his rallies, nothing. Both because he was never telling the truth about it and because the American president doesn`t have the power to do what Donald Trump wanted to do. The president cannot raise tariffs on Chinese goods. Only the congress can do that and they won`t. And they won`t do it because tariff legislation is too complicated, too complex, it will immediately get bogged down in hundreds of amendments about other trade issues and get trapped in gridlock, and they also won`t even attempt to do it, because it will be a mistake.
Because if we raise tariffs every time a currency fluctuated, we would be raising tariffs every single day, every day. And then every country in the world would do the same to us. Then international trade would grind to a halt and we would have a worldwide depression and that`s why we won`t do Donald Trump`s childish idea. So what happens when Donald Trump`s voters discover that Donald Trump wasn`t telling them the truth about that, about the thing they won`t even remember, the Chinese currency manipulation?
What happens when they discover he`s not going to put any tariffs on Chinese goods? That he`s not going to bring steel manufacturing jobs back from China, that`s not going to happen. Donald Trump has already abandoned the idea that Mexico will pay for the wall, he`s asking congress to pay for his wall. What the Trump voters think about that. How long will it take for them to feel betrayed? How many broken promises will it take for Trump voters to feel betrayed?
How long will it take for them to turn on him? That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT UNITED STATES OF AMERICA builds the wall. Build the wall. Build the wall. Build the wall.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Listen I`m a Texan and I realized that rural areas have no point using the money on the fence.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are (INAUDIBLE) for two vials of wall, you can get a predator drone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, J.D. VANCE the author of Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and culture in Crisis. .J.D., you know the Trump voter that has become the most interesting Trump voter. The one who gave him the Electoral College, in those manufacturing states where they`ve suffered losses at manufacturing jobs over decades and they heard a lot of promises, an awful lot of promises like that one, the build the wall thing, where, and China`s going to pay for the wall. He`s already asking Congress to pay for the wall. How did they hear the wall story? Is Mexico paying for the wall an important part of that story or not?
J.D. VANCE, AUTHOR, HILLBILLY ELEGY: I think maybe it`s an important part of this story just because it can show, you know, it shows that Trump is willing to say things that are controversial and willing to go after the people who are taking our jobs and so forth. But I actually don`t think that among the core sort of average Trump voter, that the wall was that important of a part. Obviously, it was important for the rallies, as we just saw. But i don`t think most people who are voting for Trump, average voters, were that concerned about that.
O`DONNELL: Let`s focus on the ones that could go the other way, because Republicans have a certain vote they`re going to get no matter what. And they tend to get 100 percent of the racists vote all the time. So it doesn`t matter how much racist stuff the Republicans candidate actually, you know, gives off. But that voter who voted for Obama four years ago in some of these manufacturing states, that went with Trump this time, apparently over Hillary Clinton being too closely associated with NAFTA and policies like that, that they believe hurt them. What do they need to see Donald Trump do?
VANCE: Well, I think of it along a couple of dimensions. So over the medium term, what they really need to see is some improvements. So obviously, Trump wasn`t super specific about policy
VANCE: So the question is does these opioid crisis get better? Do wages start to grow? Do jobs become a little easier to come by. That`s the first dimension. I think the second dimension at which it`s going to be really interesting to watch on the domestic policy front is this core tension between 1980s-style conservatism and Trump`s populism as it unfolds in Congress and actual policies that get enacted, because I think if Trump becomes too much of a 1980s-style Republican in a 21st century that requires much more complex solutions, I do think that voters may penalize him for that.
O`DONNELL: How much time do you think they give him?
VANCE: Well I think they`ll give him a few years, at least. So one of the things we`ve seen in this consistent wave of swing elections from 2000 to 2008, and from 2008 to 2016, there is a bit of a grace period for the President who comes and folks only really start to penalize that President when it`s very clear that things aren`t better. Nut I do think that serves as a cautionary note for Republicans because in but in 2020, 2024, if these problems, if the trend line continues to get worse then I think they are going to penalize.
O`DONNELL: there`s a very fragile line of support. both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump got a significant vote from people who don`t like -- don`t like either one of them.
O`DONNELL: But of the voters who didn`t like either one of them, Trump got the bigger share of that group and that seems to me to be his most fragile support.
VANCE: Well that`s absolutely right because that would suggest they voted for Trump not because they liked him but because they liked Hillary Clinton even less, right? So I do think that there are -- one of the takeaways from the Republican election or that the Republicans success should not be that this coalition is super stable, because it obviously isn`t.
O`DONNELL: J.D. Vance, thank you for coming in. I really appreciate it.
VANCE: Thank you so much.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, George Takei gets the last word tonight on Donald Trump`s campaign promise about a registry for Muslims.
O`DONNELL: Donald Trump hasn`t mentioned his idea for a national registry of Muslims recently, but here`s what he said about it last year when he was running for the Republican Presidential Nomination.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should there business a database that tracks Muslims here in this country?
TRUMP: There should be a lot of systems, beyond databases. I mean we should have a lot of systems. And today you can do it. But right now, we have to have a border. We have to have strength. We have to have a wall. And we cannot let what`s happening to this country happen --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But it`s something your white house would like to implement?
TRUMP: I would certainly implement that, absolutely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Now a Trump supporter and a co-chair of a super PAC that supported Donald Trump said that Japanese American internment in this country in World War II is a legal precedent for the government maintaining a Muslim registry.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARL HIGBIE, TRUMP SURROGATE: We`ve done it with Iran back a while ago, we did it during World War II with Japanese, which, you know, call it what you will maybe wrong --
MEGYN KELLY, AMERICAN JOURNALIST, FOX NEWS CHANNEL, come on, you`re not proposing we go back to the days of internment camps, I hope.
HIGBIE: no, no, I`m not proposing that at all, Megyn.
KELLY: You know better than to suggest that. That`s the kind of stuff that gets people scared, Carl.
HIGBIE: Right. I`m just saying, there is precedent for it. I`m not saying I agree with it. But in this I absolutely believe --
KELLY: You can`t be citing Japanese internment camps as precedent for anything the president-elect is going to do.
HIGBIE: Look, the president needs to protect America first. Now if that means having people who are not protected under our constitution have some kind of registratry so we can understand -- until we can identify the true threat and where it`s coming from, I support it.
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, George Takei. He`s an actor and director and human rights activist. He and his family were held in Japanese American internment camps. George, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We wanted to hear your reaction to this as soon as it happened.
GEORGE TAKEI, AMERICAN ACTOR: It was shocking but was not unexpected from a Trump surrogate. Mr. Higbie used the imprisonment of innocent Japanese Americans as a precedent. Yes, it happened. But it is not a precedent.
It is the most disgraceful chapter of American history. This is a country that believes in order, law. It`s a nation of law. We believe in due process. And all of that disappeared. As a matter of fact, in 1988, President Ronald Reagan had to apologize for the imprisonment of innocent Japanese Americans during the Second World War.
We were totally innocent. And yet we were imprisoned, because of racist -- race, bigotry, war hysteria, and the failure of political leadership. That is what happened that made this happen. And here again, they`re talking about the political leadership that`s about to be is talking about the very same thing, and using us as a precedent. It was a disgrace and a shameful chapter of American history.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to some hr of Donald Trump`s specifics about how he would register Muslims in this country.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Specifically, how do you actually get them registered?
TRUMP: It would be just good management. What you have to do is good management procedures. And we can do that. That`s nice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you go to mosques to sign these people up?
TRUMP: Different places. You sign them up at different places, but it`s all about management. Our country has no management.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: George, obviously he has no idea what he`s talking about. You sign them up at different places. He wasn`t asked how he would be able to tell what someone`s religion is.
TAKEI: Yes, he`s going to go by a faith of a people. And register them. Registration of any group of people, and certainly registration of Muslims, is a prelude to internment. This is something that we cannot have happen again. It is dangerous and it is a moral bankruptcy. We`ve got to stand up and resist this. And I would urge all good Americans to write to your congressional representatives and the president-elect and tell them that this is not what we stand for as a nation.
We are -- we go by the rule of law. And a registry is this simple categorization of a people of one faith. In our case it was people of one ancestry. We were American citizens, and yet we were -- because we looked like the enemy, we were treated like the enemy and imprisoned. And this is what`s going to happen with a Muslim registry. And we as Americans will not tolerate that again. And we en masse will oppose that.
O`DONNELL: And this is something the president-elect could clear up instantly. He could easily issue a statement, a written statement, just saying, there will absolutely no registry by religion of any kind in this country of any time. He has people living in fear, American citizens living in fear in this country since election night because of this.
TAKEI: What he has to know is that we are a nation of due process. We are a nation that believes that there has to be charges that can be challenged in a court of law and then whatever happens, whether it`s those people being put on a list. But we do not believe in a sweeping registration simply by faith. In the same way --
O`DONNELL: George, I want to you quickly before we go, prior to this presidential campaign, did you ever dream that you would be publicly discussing something like this, a registry, something like this, in this country? That this country hadn`t learned its lesson in World War II?
TAKEI: I just spoke here at Penn State, on the internment of Japanese Americans. I`ve been doing this all my life, in order to prevent that from recurring again. and yet, you know, deep down inside, I thought I was doing this, planting seeds, so that we won`t have this happen again. But now they`re saying that this is a precedent. It is not a precedent. It was when our nation was disgrace. Our good democracy was smeared and we will not allow that to happen again. This must not happen again. And we should all let Donald Trump know in no uncertain ways.
O`DONNELL: George Takei gets tonight`s last word. Thank you, George. MSNBC`s live coverage continues now into `The 11th Hour` with Brian Williams. That`s next.