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The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 11/23/2016

Guests: David Corn, Liz Mair, John Allen, Michael Moore, Catherine Rampell, Yamiche Alcindor

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: November 23, 2016 Guest: David Corn, Liz Mair, John Allen, Michael Moore, Catherine Rampell, Yamiche Alcindor

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: That does it for us tonight, happy Thanksgiving.

Now, it`s time for THE LAST WORD, Ari Melber sitting in for Lawrence tonight, good evening Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel, happy Thanksgiving to you.

MADDOW: You too, my friend, well done.

MELBER: There is a win for team Trump, as a rising Republican star Governor Nikki Haley accepts their offer to be U.N. ambassador.

Plus, Michael Moore is here tonight with a must-see reality check on Trump`s pick for Education Secretary, billionaire Betsy DeVos. And how to talk to your relatives who might have voted for another candidate.


STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST: When not berating the media from his golden tower, the president-elect has been busy filling his cabinet.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He turned to two prominent Republican women.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trump has elected South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley to serve as his ambassador to the United Nations.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s a mixed foreign policy picture, and no foreign policy experience.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s also tapped Betsy DeVos to be his Education Secretary.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two of the biggest teachers unions are already speaking out against her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitt Romney they say tops the list for Secretary of State.


MIKE HUCKABEE, FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR: You`ve got to surround yourself with people who will take a bullet for you rather than put the bullet in you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dr. Ben Carson has confirmed he has been offered a cabinet position.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I take him at his word. He is not qualified to run a federal department.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will not say that Ben Carson suffers from pathological disease. I`m not saying it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Based on the low expectations the Trump campaign created for Trump, it could be worse.




MELBER: Good evening and welcome to THE LAST WORD from Seattle, Washington. Donald Trump is working on what his transition team promises will be a diverse cabinet.

But today he also is facing unexpected resistance from within the ranks of his own supporters after rumors that Donald Trump is considering one of his harshest critics Mitt Romney to be Secretary of State.

Today, two of Donald Trump`s biggest supporters blasted the idea.


HUCKABEE: And when you go after a person who is the nominee of your party who has been duly nominated by the voters, and then you`re savaging the voters.

You`re not just savaging Donald Trump. And so it would be a real insult to all those Donald Trump voters --


HUCKABEE: Who worked really hard.

NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER, UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: He was Trump`s most vicious and most explicit opponent all through the campaign on the Republican side.

And you have to list all the things he said and think gee, is this guy really going to be loyal? But also, you know, Governor Romney wanted to be president, not Secretary of State.


GINGRICH: And you have to ask the question when he goes overseas, is he going to be the Secretary of State for President Trump or is he going to be Mitt Romney`s own Secretary of State --



MELBER: Tough talk. But there was little Republican opposition to President-elect Trump naming two cabinet picks today as he announced his first appointments who are not we should note white males.

President-elect Trump named Betsy DeVos; a Republican donor and advocate for school choice and vouchers as Education Secretary and the other one you`ve heard so much about, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley.

She is the first minority governor in her state`s history, a daughter of Indian immigrants and she will be ambassador to the U.N.

Governor Haley notable Trump`s -- among his appointments I should note, for another reason, she is of course a young rising star of the GOP.

And has been embraced by the party establishment, even though she was also all along a critic of Trump.

Now, before eventually backing him, she criticized him in her high profile State of the Union response, you might remember that. She endorsed Marco Rubio. And in February, she said this about Donald Trump.


GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I will not stop until we fight a man that chooses not to disavow the KKK, that is not a part of our party, that`s not who we want as president.


We will not allow that in our country.


MELBER: Strong words, Trump criticized Haley, tweeting in March, "the people of South Carolina are embarrassed by Nikki Haley."

Well, today, he was praising her, "proven track record of bringing people together and saying she is a proven deal maker.

And we look to be making plenty of deals." But Donald Trump and the Republicans, if you look closely, are doing something else here that is actually just weird.

They are all acting like the U.N. ambassadorship is this really big appointment. Now a lot of people do think that, but Republicans historically don`t.

In fact, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. is a cabinet level position right now only because President Obama made it a cabinet level position.

A change that he made when he took office as the president does have the power to do. But keep in mind the last two Republican administrations, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush actually demoted the U.N. ambassador from a cabinet position.

George W. Bush is U.N. ambassador, John Bolton even once said this.



There is an international community that occasionally can be led by the only real power left in the world, and that`s the United States.

When it suits our interest and when we can get others to go along.


MELBER: So on what`s shaping up as something of an informal U.N. day for the Trump administration, it`s worth keeping in mind they`re trying to use this appointment to promote Haley as a big new face for the party.

And it`s a long ways from what top Republicans actually thought about promoting the U.N. post itself.

The substantive thing everyone claims to be talking about. And then there is Donald Trump, he has been plenty critical of the U.N. as well.


TRUMP: The United Nations is not a friend of democracy. It`s not a friend to freedom.

It`s not a friend even to the United States of America where as you know, it has its home.


MELBER: Joining us now, David Corn, Washington Bureau chief for "Mother Jones", an Msnbc analyst.

Liz Mair; Republican strategist and a former online communications strategist to Governors Walker and Perry as well as John Allen; head of community and content for "Sidewire".

Good evening everybody, David --


MELBER: Starting with you, is this just a lot of excitement about the post because of who is filling it?

CORN: Well --

MELBER: Or do you see anything else substantive with the U.N. going on here?

CORN: Well, I have to say, it seems we`re in the Roseanne Roseannadanna phase of the transition which is when everybody says never mind.

Never mind what I said before, never mind that I vowed to fight you for all of eternity because you`re a racist, you`re a bigot, or that I thought you were an embarrassment to your state.

Never mind. Those words didn`t make a difference. And on to the U.N. post, well, yes, I mean, we will have to see if it remains a cabinet position.

But, you know, Nikki Haley is an impressive governor, a politician. But she also has absolutely no foreign policy experience other than maybe trying to get business into South Carolina.

So, putting her in this position, unlike what President Obama and Bill Clinton did with some of their choices shows that Donald Trump really doesn`t care about the ideas the person has holding this job.

And again, we see in his foreign policy world, there is no coherent view, no coherent strategy.

If you`re talking about going from John Bolton to Mitt Romney as Secretary of State, it just means you have no there, there.

And we`re going to have to wait to see at the end of the day if there is anybody within his circle who has an integrated plan for how to deal with the rest of the world.

MELBER: Yes, I mean, Liz, Nikki Haley is someone that a lot of Republicans have been excited about for some understandable reasons.

But if you were match-making, it`s hard to follow the match. Newt Gingrich sort of took his turn at explaining it and saying, well, the U.N. is a hostile place and she is tough, which is I suppose true as far as it goes.

Take a listen.


GINGRICH: Well, I think she is a very successful governor. She is a very smart woman.

And I think she will be very effective at the United Nations, as effective as any American can be in an organization which has an enormous hostility to our values and to our interests.


MELBER: Liz, I guess the point I`m getting at is even if one agrees with the conservative critique of the U.N. as a place that can be inhospitable to the U.S. or to our allies or to some of our human rights priorities.

Wouldn`t you then want someone whose got experience cutting their teeth in international circles to be that tough ambassador?

LIZ MAIR, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think the thing that is actually most important in this job is first and foremost, you need somebody who is capable of being a uniter, not a divider.

And somebody who is capable of being diplomatic, because this is the role of a diplomat, and it`s a very important one.

I think that at the moment, you know, maybe past Republican presidents haven`t treated this role with the sort of the importance that we may see a President-elect Trump treat it with.

At the moment, we are facing a lot of very serious, grave, complex challenges around the world. And so this is perhaps going to be a more important job.

And I think if you`re working in that role, I understand the concerns people are raising about Nikki Haley`s CV.

But I would actually argue that it`s more important that you have somebody who has been capable of dealing with really tough challenges that go to the root of people`s emotions, their identities, and overcoming them.

And if you look at how she handled that confederate flag issue, if you look at how she handled bringing people together after that shooting in South Carolina, what she may not have in terms of lying items on her CV, she certainly has in terms of personal qualities.

And I think that will stand her in very good stead. Another quick point that I would make is I think that there`s a lot of utility in putting people into diplomatic positions who have personal experiences and connections abroad.

She obviously does in terms of bringing business into South Carolina. But let`s not also not forget, she does come from a family of Indian immigrants.

That probably does put her in a better position to understand some of the concerns that, say, the country of India is actually raising on the world stage that is going to be important.

They are a very powerful and growing --


MAIR: International leader --

ALLEN: Wait, that`s pretty --


MAIR: To the U.K. relationship.

MELBER: Let me bring in John Allen and then back to David. John, go ahead.

ALLEN: I was just going to say, that`s pretty microscopic, the one country. So, I mean, Nikki Haley is an American --

MAIR: Well, it`s not just one country --

ALLEN: I will --

MAIR: It`s the United Kingdom also.

ALLEN: Fair enough. Look, the U.S.-U.N. job is one of an agent more than anything.

To come back and carry information to the president, to carry the -- carry out the president`s will at the United Nations. This is not necessarily -- this is not a job where you`re going a whole lot of freelancing.

I think what`s really going on here in a much bigger and more important thing is that Nikki Haley is being well-positioned for a future run for president. She doesn`t as has been pointed out by David earlier, doesn`t have foreign policy experience.

But after this job, she`s going to have foreign policy experience. And that`s something that`s very difficult for governors to get.

MELBER: Well --

CORN: Yes --

ALLEN: Well --

MELBER: I mean, sort of -- but I am sorry --

ALLEN: And done so --

MELBER: It`s a little funny to -- it`s just a little funny to say after she gets the promotion she`ll have the experience. I mean, that sort of --

ALLEN: I`m not saying -- I`m not saying --


She is necessarily the right person for the job. But I`m saying --

CORN: Yes --

ALLEN: That there is a political desire on the part of the Republican Party to elevate her at some point.

MELBER: Certainly --

ALLEN: And this gives --

MELBER: Well --


ALLEN: Gives her a much better --

MAIR: And we have --


MELBER: David, then Liz.


We`re going to go David, then Liz --

MAIR: Yes --

CORN: There probably were more appropriate ways to elevate her. I mean, it`s not just being a water carrier to and from the U.N.

Susan Rice put together a coalition and got a great vote for President Obama on how to deal with Libya.

It was a -- it took a lot of work, it took a lot of expertise, she was a national --

ALLEN: Which was a terrible decision.

CORN: Whether --

MAIR: Yes --

CORN: You like it --

ALLEN: She was an agent for that decision --

CORN: She was an agent --


For that decision, but actually, what she did there and working with the Chinese and the Russians and Germans, Brits and the English and everybody else was a feat of diplomacy.

Whether you agreed with the policy or not. It wasn`t that she was just doing what the president wanted.

She had to be very savvy and have really good understanding of the equities and the histories and the interest of all these other countries.

And she pulled that together. That is just not the same as having the type of moment that Nikki Haley had after the shooting in the church.

So, it`s not just -- it`s an important job, whether you`re dealing with climate change or not, to know the substance and to know the players.

It`s not just --

ALLEN: Sure --

CORN: Going back and forth to the White House.


MAIR: Last word on this? I think that somebody who comes from an Indian family.

Given India and Indian`s experience with British colonialism which continues to exert a major influence on the foreign policy dynamics in the Middle East.

Actually may be better positioned than what I think David is giving credit for to understand some of the nuances that are going to be relevant to deal.

Cutting with regard to some of the biggest foreign policy challenges that this country is facing right now.

But again, I think her personal characteristics also do matter. She is a very diplomatic person. She is a uniter.

There really isn`t anybody that I`ve ever encountered who`s met her who hasn`t liked her and hasn`t felt comfortable talking to her --

MELBER: Right --

MAIR: And I think that`s very important.

MELBER: And before we go, John Allen, take a listen to Ben Carson real briefly when he was asked about again the untraditional style here.

They`re sort of tweeting before the news is out -- whatever. Here is Ben Carson on "Fox" about that.


BEN CARSON, AUTHOR & RETIRED NEUROSURGEON: There are a lot of things that were put on the table, and I`m thinking about them.


MELBER: John, what do you make of the way they`re sort of releasing out dribs and drabs of who is going to be in the cabinet?

ALLEN: Well, I mean, they`re trying to signal different things at different times.

You know, I mean, look, the reason the U.S.-U.N. is being talked about right now is because Nikki Haley was the person who was not a white male who a decision had been made about.

I mean, the U.S.-U.N. is not one of your top cabinet positions. A Defense Secretary, we figured is going to be Jim Mattis, has not been named yet.

The top positions in the cabinet, many of them have not been named yet. As far as Ben Carson goes, who knows what`s going on? Oh, I`m sure on William, said he wasn`t qualified to head a department after he ran for president.

I mean, this is a circus on the level of Donald Trump`s campaign in terms of the leaks and the counter-leaks and whatever sort of, as -- you know, counter espionage is going on within that campaign right now, within that transition.

CORN: And what does this guy know about urban policy and housing? I mean, that`s the other --

ALLEN: As much as we do about brain surgery.

CORN: Or as much as Nikki Haley knows about the U.N. I mean, this --

MELBER: Well, and that`s --

CORN: I mean, this is a real --

MELBER: I think that --

CORN: Problem. It`s not something --

MELBER: Well --

CORN: It`s a circus, but it`s a bad circus.

MELBER: We`re out of time. But it is a circus question of who is qualified. David Corn, Liz Mair and John Allen --

CORN: Thank you --

MELBER: Thank you for a lively discussion.

CORN: Thank you --

ALLEN: Thank you, Ari --

MAIR: Thank you --

CORN: Happy Thanksgiving --

MELBER: I appreciate it.

MAIR: Happy Thanksgiving --

MELBER: Happy Thanksgiving! I think I learned a few things. Now up next, I have another question.

What does Michael Moore know about billionaire Betsy DeVos? Donald Trump`s choice to be Education Secretary?

Also later, new questions about the role of the Trump kids as a report indicates Trump Jr. was holding talks on Syria with Russian supporters and that was during the campaign. Stay with us.


MELBER: Donald Trump has another woman to thank for his new U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley.

Hillary Clinton in a 2012 interview, Governor Haley said "the reason I actually ran for office is because of Hillary Clinton.

Everybody was telling me why I shouldn`t run, I was too young, I had small children, I should start at the school board level.

I went to Birmingham University and Hillary Clinton was the keynote speaker on a leadership institute", she explained.

"And Clinton said that when it comes to women running for office, there will be everybody that tells you why you shouldn`t, but that`s all the reasons why we need you to do it.

And I walked out of there thinking that`s it, I`m running for office." A nice, little story there. Now up next, Michael Moore`s must-see reality check on Trump`s other big appointment today, billionaire Betsy DeVos.



TRUMP: As president, I will establish the national goal of providing school choice to every American child living in poverty.

As your president, I will be the nation`s biggest cheerleader for school choice.


MELBER: School choice may be one campaign promise Donald Trump is sticking to today. He nominated billionaire Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary.

She`s a Michigan Republican, philanthropist and advocate for what conservative reformers call the school choice movement. Many teachers, representatives object the choice is usually a cover for privatization.

National Education Association President Lilly Garcia says DeVos` efforts have actually undermined education by lobbying for voucher programs that she says takes away funding and local control from our public schools to fund private schools at taxpayers` expense.

Others note DeVos has no formal work experience in public education. For her part, she has pledged to "work to make transformational change that ensures every student in America has the opportunity to fulfill his or her highest potential.

And joining us now, a guest I`m excited about to have tonight, Michael Moore; Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, and of course a Michigan resident.

Good evening, happy Thanksgiving season to you, Michael.

MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER: The same to you --

MELBER: Tell us --

MOORE: And I believe also you`re a University of Michigan graduate, is that correct, Ari?

MELBER: I am. U of M Ann Arbor.

MOORE: All right, OK --

MELBER: Tell me what -- and us, what we should know about this Education Secretary nominee.

MOORE: Well, this is the -- essentially turning the Education Department over to Amway. The DeVos family is the Amway family in Michigan.

The -- her father-in-law founded it, her husband now runs it along with others in western Michigan there.

They`re very conservative, very Dutch Christian. And they were the type of Christians that never needed to be born again because they never left the core values of what they believe in.

And the DeVos family has probably given as much in some elections in the past, even more soft money, even Betsy DeVos has admitted this to Republican Party politics than anyone else, any other family in the country.

And that would at times include the Koch brothers. So, you have a version of the Koch brothers here.

It would be like one of the Kochs was just appointed Secretary of Education. This is an awful thing to have happen.

I -- we never used the word "choice", the schools of choice and all of this. This is all about, as you said, as some union leaders have said, and when you quoted them, the privatization of our public schools.

And especially taking choice away from poor kids because those tax dollars go to these privatized schools, these so-called charter schools that then hurt the kids left behind in the public schools.

So, this is -- this again, another one of his appointments that are -- is meant to essentially what he promised to do which is blow up the system.

MELBER: Well, you liken it to the Koch brothers maybe taking over an industry they would care about.

A lot of the criticism and reporting there has been that in the realm of policy, they`re just profiteering. And so, it`s all just pursuing profits on a -- on a different terrain. Is that your concern here?

Or is it also that there is a sort of an ideology or an actual policy view that schools would run better if they were all businesses?

MOORE: It`s both. They are certainly ideologues, the DeVos and Amway, which essentially is a form of a pyramid scheme, which, you know, I don`t think we would teach that in school. The values that form that kind of business, I don`t think we would teach that in school.

But no, these are -- the DeVos are ideologues. And the irony of this and my belief that Donald Trump is not an ideologue.

He has one ideology, and that`s the ideology of Donald J. Trump. And that`s who he believes in.

That`s everything he believes. Does it benefit Donald J. Trump? And he`ll make his decisions based on that.

But these are hard-liners that he`s been putting in and nominating into these -- into these initial positions. And this is a really bad one. This is -- they have so ruined things in Michigan.

I mean, they basically bought and paid for a state legislature and Senate that in 2012 made Michigan the birthplace of the modern labor movement, a so-called right-to-work state.

MELBER: Right.

MOORE: Taking away the ability of unions to organize and collect their dues from their members.

And it -- for that -- for they -- they had pulled that off in Michigan and they`ve used it as a model elsewhere.

And they are -- they`ve been on a rampage for a very long time.

MELBER: Well, and Michael, you make that point about Trump and where he stands. It`s become popular among some circles in Washington to say, oh, he`s so flexible.

Look what we`re seeing now post election. But all that means to some degree is that his flexibility would empower the people around him.

And if they`re hard-liners or even radicals on some of these issues, then that flexibility is going to go that direction.

MOORE: Right, and I think --

MELBER: What I want to do --

MOORE: Yes --

MELBER: Is fit in a -- let me fit in --

MOORE: Sure --

MELBER: A break because I know you`re staying with us. So --


MELBER: We`re going to have a lot more with Michael Moore, we`re going fit in a quick break.

We`re also going to show you how to talk to your family members this Thanksgiving if they might have voted for another candidate. Stay with us.


MELBER: Here is a fact people keep forgetting about modern elections. There is no election day anymore.

There are weeks of voting, and in many places weeks of counting. And that doesn`t change the fact that Donald Trump won.

But that counting does keep shrinking his mandate. Consider this. Donald Trump right now has a lower share of the vote as counted than Mitt Romney did when he lost last cycle.

Trump simply did not grow the GOP`s share of the electorate. He managed a -- turnout in the key states that mattered.

And his deficit and total votes to Clinton has now reached 2 million. That is almost quadrupled the gap between Gore and Bush in 2000.

But don`t get me wrong, we all know Trump is a 100 percent president-elect. But his second-place finish overall is relevant to how congressional opponents size up his support out in the country.

It`s relevant to people who want to reform our electoral college. And apparently, it`s even relevant to Donald Trump who said this.

"I think the popular vote would have been easier in a true sense because you`d go to a few places.

I think that`s the genius of the electoral college. I was never a fan of the electoral college until now."

Now while this is mostly theoretical debate there are calls to dig deeper into how the popular vote disparity was greater this year than any other time in history. You may have heard some statisticians want Clinton to challenge the results if for no other reason than to force an actual forensics examination of ballot evidence.

We can report to you this evening Green Party Candidate Jill Stein says she will, "file for a recount of votes in the battleground states of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania to ensure the integrity of our elections." Now elites don`t tend to respond favorably to this kind of thing. You might remember in Michael Moore`s documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 showing what happened in 2000 when members of the Congressional Black Caucus were challenging Bush`s win while Vice President Al Gore presided over a very unusual joint session of Congress.


AL GORE, AMERICAN POLITICIAN: Is the objection in writing and signed by a member of the house and a senator?

MAXINE WATERS, FMR. REPRESENTATIVE OF CALIFORNIA: The objection is in writing and I don`t care that it is not signed by a member of the senate.

GORE: The Chair will advise that the rules do care and the signature is needed.

MICHEAL MOORE, AMERICAN DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER AND AUTHOR: Not a single senator came to the aid of the African Americans in Congress. one after another, they were told to sit down and shut up.

JESSE JACKSON, JR, FMR. REPRESENTATIVE OF ILLINIOS: It`s a sad day in america, Mr. President, when we can`t find a senator to sign an objection -

GORE: The gentleman will suspend.

MELBER: Michael, why was it so important to you to spotlight that often forgotten aspect of the 2000 situation, and why do you find that so many political elites in the establishment I think in both parties and definitely in Washington are so hostile to any discussion of double- checking recounts, et cetera?

MOORE: Well, they don`t want their little apple cart upset. They don`t want -- these are the same elites that told us the candidates issue would be Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton. And Hillary would be the President. People are sick and tired of this. This is one of the reasons why Trump did as well as he did because they`re tired of this attitude. And Trump`s right.

He would probably be the largest advocate of wanting the popular vote, of course if it didn`t affect him. That would be Donald J. Trump. So what we have here is a situation where once again we`ve allowed the person that the majority of Americans wanted. That would be Hillary Clinton, to not take office. This has happened now twice in 16 years. This has to stop. This really has to stop.

Trump has no mandate. I agree with the recount. I mean in Michigan they`re either still counting. And I think the difference is a 0.2 percent between the two candidates. And Hillary`s count keeps increasing in Michigan. And it really is -- I think it`s down to 9,000 votes now, or roughly, if two people who voted for Trump had voted for Hillary per precinct, Hillary would have won Michigan by now.

We wouldn`t even be having this count. So there needs to be these recounts. We need to challenge the Electoral College. We need to challenge the conscience of the electors. This needs to be said. Yes, the elites don`t like it being said. You don`t see many people on TV calling for this. I think there is a whole host of things here that have to be done.

There is the states that are passing laws that say their electors have to follow whoever won the national popular vote. And there is enough states that passed that law now that equal about 178 electors. They need 270 in order for it to actually work. So we need to be taking all avenues here. Trump must be stopped.

And if it`s a legal challenge, if it`s an Electoral College challenge, or if it`s just the fact that right now people are watching this, there are literally hundreds and hundreds of rapid response teams of citizens being formed in every city, village, and town across America. People are coming out, getting together. There is no central organization of this. It`s actually just happening on its own. And people are upset. They`re demonstrating. They`re holding candlelight vigils. They`re contacting their members of congress. They do not like this.

MELBER: Well, let me ask you this. Well let me ask you this there is a political piece to this there is the mandate piece. It`s always curious how Republicans say even when they seem to lose the majority, they claim to have the mandate. Here the Democrats have more votes, but don`t seem to be acting like it much yet in Washington. But I want to ask you the democracy question, which is in your view as someone who is obviously spotlighted a lot of outsider issues, is there a tipping point in your mind? I mean when something is close enough that you say oh, it was 100,000 vote difference on the margin and the Electoral College is the rules versus half a million versus a million versus now 2 million. I mean in your view, is it a point where we have a split that is 4, 5, 6 million, at some point there is a wake-up call and people say wait.


MELBER: Even when it`s not close -


MELBER: we don`t have a democracy?

MOORE: Now, now, I -- People -- this is center where people stop me on the streets and say how can this be? How can this be if she won by over two million votes? We won. We`re the majority. The majority have spoken. And they don`t want Donald J. Trump as President. So why is this -- why is this happening? because of an archaic law from the 1700s that was set up essentially to please the slave states.

There is your irony for you. To help a president-elect who spewed racism throughout his campaign benefits from this law from the 1700s that was set up to appease the slave states to get them to go along with it because they had smaller populations. So they invented this Electoral College. You know lots of times in the past, we said well, just because it`s the law, it`s not right. Just because the law says if you`re African American, you go sit at the back of the bus. Well, some laws have to be broken. And some laws have to be done away with. And some laws have to be ignored when it goes against the will of the people and against what is morally right.

And this is morally wrong that this man take the office of the presidency of the United States when more than two million people have said we don`t want him, over a margin over Hillary, over him. more than two million votes.

MELBER: Right, I think that`s -- no, look and that`s one of the big debates that people don`t even seem to want to touch for all sorts of reasons. My answer in part is the constitution governs it this way. So until enough states, as you mentioned in that process earlier, make a fix, we`re living with this constitution. But it certainly merits discussion. I want to make what we call sometimes in the news business a hard turn and ask you what`s the best approach, in your view, as both a politico, but also an artist, if you will, to have a pleasant thanksgiving that is meaningful, that has got dialogue, that has honesty but also diplomacy for people who find they have big political differences tomorrow?

MOORE: Put the stuffing in the turkey and bake with the turkey, first of all. No stove top stuffing, number one, all right. Let`s take care of that off the top. I think I mean I`ve been saying this for 20 years. I wrote this in my first book 20 years ago. This month I wrote a chapter of How to Talk to your Conservative Brother-In-Law at Thanksgiving Dinner. And each year I put out a little how to be kind, how to bring them along. And I believe in all those things. But I think tomorrow, I think it`s really important that you just identify the people at the table that are of like mind.

And if there are representative of the country, that means the majority of them voted for Hillary Clinton. And talk about what are the things we need to be doing right now? Do not wait until January 20th. The Republicans on January 21st are going to be there in Congress. And they`re going to be passing bill after bill after bill. Law after law that he will sign immediately. It will be so much damage that will be done so quickly. And Liberals are going to be whoa, what happened? Wait -- wait -- wait a minute. Wait. You know it`s like no. do not wait until then. You must start tomorrow. You`re with family. You`re with family. Start organizing. Start contacting your members of Congress. start plan -- plan on going to Washington, D.C. on Inauguration Day. Hold demonstrations now. Resist Donald Trump. I`m telling you, if you wait, we have to go to commercial break. I`m hearing in my ear.

MELBER: That`s part of the vid.

MOORE: But thank you for having me on and letting me say that. And Happy Thanksgiving.

MELBER: Happy Thanksgiving, very interesting to hear from you. And you brought the stuffing and the heat. Michael Moore, always a pleasure - coming up.

MOORE: the stuffing in the turkey.

MELBER: Donald Trump appears to be the only person in America surprised to hear that a general doesn`t think water boarding is effective. But it may not have changed his mind.


MELBER: We`ve reports that Donald Trump is prepared to appoint someone who would advise him against waterboarding, even though Trump`s position on that issue appears increasingly muddy. In this interview that people have seen with The New York Times, the President-Elect said he was surprised by retired General James Mattis` position on water boarding. Trump reportedly considering Mattis for Secretary of Defense. Now here is what Trump said exactly to the Times


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT- ELECT UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: General Mattis is a strong, highly dignified man. I met with him length and I asked him that question. I said what do you think of waterboarding. He said -- I was surprised. He said I`ve never found it to be useful. And He said I`ve always found give me a pack of cigarettes and a couple of beers, and I do better with that than I do with torture.


MELBER: And Trump went on the say that when he said that "I`m not saying it changed my mind. Look, we have people that are chopping off heads and drowning people in steel cages, and we`re not allowed to water board. But I tell you what? I was impressed by that answer." Just think about this for a second. Based on this interview alone, you would think that Donald Trump`s conversation with Mattis was the first time he had even really heard the idea that other types of interrogations work better.

In fact, investigators and intelligence officials have noted for many years that waterboarding is not only inhumane and under our current laws unconstitutional. But it is also often ineffective and even counterproductive. Here is former FBI Interrogator Alley Soufani, who waterboarded individuals who I should mentioned who used interrogation and then spoke about the waterboarding of other individuals, including enemy combatant Abu Zubaida and he testified about what worked better in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee in May 2009.


ALLEY SOUFANI, FORMER FBI INTERROGATOR: From my experience, I strongly believe it is a mistake to use what has become known as enhanced interrogation techniques. These techniques from an operational perspective are slow, ineffective, unreliable, and harmful to our efforts to defeat Al Qaeda.


MELBER: That`s the view from someone who knows. And up next, we`ll hear from another experienced professional, Former Counterterrorism Intelligence Officer Malcolm Nance. That`s straight ahead.



The medieval times, I mean We studied medieval times. Not since medieval times have people seen what`s going on. I would bring backwater board, and I would bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.


MELBER: Joining me now, Malcolm Nance, Counter Terror Intelligence Official, an MSNBC Contributor. And also I mention author of Defeating ISIS. Walk us through how this works and whether Donald Trump is charitably late to the party on understanding the contours of the debate.

MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, let`s just start this conversation off correctly because there is a lot of misinformation out there. Waterboarding is a torture. It is a torture that the United States government gave capital punishments to in people in World War II who had tortured our service members. It is a technique used by the Nazi`s. It`s a technique used by the North Koreans. And now ISIS has actually tortured captive hostages with this.

So for people who believe this is an effective intelligence technique, it is not a tool of the intelligence community. I ran one of the last water boards ever used in the Department of Defense. It is not a system that a nation that stands for honor and dignity and human rights of its own service members would ever take as a tool. This is an emotional tool that Donald Trump is using in order to sound like, you know, a tough hombre.

MELBER: you make - yes, you make such an important point conceptually because his nominee, Jeff Sessions for Attorney General and Trump have repeatedly cited the nature of our enemies to justify this conduct. Conceptually does that make any sense to you as an expert here because don`t we have to define what we do regardless of what we do to the enemy?

NANCE: You`re absolutely right. I mean this is not a question of what our enemies do. If we want to start acting like ISIS, we want to start acting like the Nazi`s, then go ahead and start using those techniques. But what you do is you fundamentally rip the fabric of America`s stand for honor as it has stood since 1777 when George Washington issued standing orders for the campaign in Quebec that prisoners were to be treated with dignity.

Prisoners were to be used for intelligence collection purposes by bringing them in to our side showing our better angels by not doing that. We would be actually violating the standing orders of George Washington himself. So if we don`t even believe in the values that this nation was built on and we think that just destroying those values and dishonoring every one that has ever worked in this community is satisfactory in order to get no intelligence than what we are just fundamentally doing is giving up on what America stands for.

MELBER: Malcolm Nance, appreciate you sharing both your experience and your ethical view there. Thank you.

NANCE: My pleasure.

MELBER: We`re going to fit in a quick break and come right back with our politics panel. You`re watching the Last Word on MSNBC.


MELBER: Coming up a new report Donald Trump Jr. held a meeting on Syria with Pro-Russian figures and it`s raising questions about the role of Trump`s children in the Whitehouse and abroad. That is next.


MELBER: Wall Street Journal reports today that Donald Trump`s eldest son Donald Trump Jr. held some private talks in Paris last month with diplomats, political business leaders. And the goal is working with Russia reportedly to end that nearly six year long Civil War in Syria. In an interview this week with the New York Times editorial staff meanwhile President-Elect raised some eyebrows by proposing that his Son-In-Law Jared Kushner could help bring peace as some kind of ongoing to the Middle East. He said quote Jared is a very smart guy. He`s a quality of person. I think he can be very helpful. I would love to be able to be the one that made peace with Israel and the Palestinians. Nobody`s been able to do it. He knows the region, knows the people, knows the players.

Joining me now is Yamiche Alcindor National Political Reporter for the New York Times and Catherine Rampell opinion Columnist for the Washington Post. Catherine, starting with you path special envoy to Middle East have been people like George Mitchell or Richard Holbrook`s played that roving role. People who`ve basically been diplomats for decades or held Ambassador post. What do you make of this idea and the qualifications of the kids here to do foreign policy?

CATHERINE RAMPELL, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: Yes, generally it is not a member of the President or President-Elect, his extended family. But it`s correct. This is a very important role in the administration on the foreign policy front, on any front recent - to be clear. And the fact that he is considering delegating these duties to his son-in-law is incredibly troubling particularly since he said repeatedly there will be a wall between himself - the soon to be President and his family because members of his family in this case Jared Kushner`s wife Ivanka, Donald Trump`s daughter will be running the business. So there are many -

MELBER: Yes. I mean even the wall

RAMPELL: Reasons to believe that this would be a poor choice -

MELBER: Yes, Catherine you raised the wall which is a great important point. There`s been a lot of reporting on that including in your newspaper. Even if you put the business wall aside one of the important things about envoys is you send them usually. They do intense negotiations. And then sometimes you remove them.

You fire them. You reassign them. All of that as part of the complex international chess that goes on. It would seem to just at a basic level be boxing America in - in our strategic options to have a family member grandfathered into that role because they`re harder to fire, no?

RAMPELL: One would expect I mean maybe Trump can turn to a daughter-in- law instead or a grandchild or an uncle. I don`t know. I`m sure there are plenty of members of this extended family who are happy to raise their hands for this position. I would again, you know, suggest that for the reasons that we have laid out they would be bad choices as well. Regardless of how smart they are to be clear.

MELBER: I mean what we`re talking about is not personal attacks on them. Many of these people especially for their age for people in their 30`s have achieved a lot. They`re just not subsequently knowledgeable and thus they like make a normal, you know, background bedding to be a State Department Diplomat let alone chief Middle East Diplomat.

Yamiche, let me read you the other piece of this puzzle which is reports that Donald Trump having finally gotten this far to get the intelligence briefings isn`t taking him very often. President-Elect Trump has received only two classified Intel briefings we see since the surprise electing victory. A frequency that`s notably lower so far than out of his predecessors. U.S. officials note pence me while taking them more often. Does that matter?

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: It`s hard to say. In some ways you can judge him and say OK, well he`s not taking us that seriously. But he`s also in the middle as he says in the middle filling all these cabinet positions in the middle of transitioning and is preparing himself and preparing the people around him and take office.

And so in some ways at least from the reporting it seems as though the access might be lower than other Presidents but this isn`t something that historically low if you look at decades of other Presidents. So I think that it`s hard to say especially as someone who obviously has no idea where in these briefings you have an idea of course that they are important developments around the world but this idea that you`ve got to take in these briefings while doing other work.

I mean of course the Vice President Elect Mike Pence is looking at these briefings. So I think Donald Trump here is making a judgment that he needs to be filing these positions instead of doing these briefings.

RAMPELL: Well there`s nothing to say -

MELBER: Go ahead Catherine.

RAMPELL: That he can`t be doing both. There`s nothing to say that he can`t be doing both of course. And I think what`s especially troubling about the fact that he has reportedly shown very little curiosity about getting up to speed on what`s going on in the rest of the world and what his duties and challenges might be if they lie ahead is that he showed very little curiosity and insurance in getting up to speed during the campaign as well.

So arguably he`s starting out with a much greater deficit of awareness and a fluency in many of these foreign policy issues than others have been, than his predecessors have been.

ALCINDOR: He`s of course taking the time now to be the one defending him but he`s also taking the time to pick out people who he thinks are going to be the people that will actually be making those decisions and done those post in a lot a ways. So of course it`s up to, you know, your viewers and other people to decide what he`s doing. But I think the idea is that he`s making this case that he is also busy.

MELBER: Right. Right, well, you know, it`s very popular nowadays. Every one likes to talk about how busy they are. He certainly is busy. Our briefing tonight is over though so Yamiche Alcindor and Catherine Rampell, thank you both for joining.

You`ve been watching THE LAST WORD. I am Ari Melber wishing you and yours a wonderful Thanksgiving and time with your family. Chris Hayes is up next.