The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 12/2/2016

Guests: Jeremy Bash, Phyllis Bennis, Evan McMullin, James Fallows, Maria Teresa, Dana Milbank

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: December 2, 2016 Guest: Jeremy Bash, Phyllis Bennis, Evan McMullin, James Fallows, Maria Teresa, Dana Milbank

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC NEWS ANCHOR: Coming up right now on the Last Word, Lawrence O`Donnell, he`s going to have a live report from Standing Rock. That`s it for us tonight. We`ll see you again on Monday.

Now, it`s time for Lawrence. Good evening, Lawrence.

LAWRENCE, O`DONNELL, MSNBC NEWS ANCHOR: Hey, Rachel. It`s really great now that the campaign is over. We finally can deploy some of the assets to North Dakota. I have been trying to explain to people that all those satellite trucks, all that equipment that the networks have, not just network, had been out there on the campaign trail and that`s why we didn`t have reports coming.

But this weekend, which is a big weekend up there, we will be having some reports.

MADDOW: Right. Excellent.

O`DONNELL: Finally. Thanks, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thanks.

O`DONNELL: So finally, finally, Donald Trump has gone too far, and a republican has stepped forward to object. And that brave republican, who has stepped forward alone, among republicans, is the very last person you would ever have guessed would turn against Donald Trump, would go rogue hint against Donald Trump. But it`s not about Taiwan. Not a single republican objects to what Donald Trump has done with Taiwan. And every single republican would be objecting today if a democratic president-elect had done what Donald Trump did today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS HAYES, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Trump broke with 37 years of policy today speaking with the Taiwanese president.

MADDOW: One of the most radical shifts in foreign policy in a generation.

HAYES: Likely would infuriate the Chinese.

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT-ELECT: China.

HAYES: He`s not taking as far as we can tell most of his intelligence briefings.

TRUMP: This is our victory. I`ve spoken to many foreign leaders.

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: A conversation with the Filipino president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He should be fully briefed by the state department before those communications.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He cannot conduct himself in this immature and undisciplined way.

MICHEAL STEELE, MSNBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Donald Trump is going to say something off the cuff that could be a real problem on an international level.

CHUCK TODD, MSNBC NEWS ANCHOR: Or republican is going to say cut it out?

O`DONNELL: He definitely called you infective and disloyal. Have you patched it up in?

PAUL RYAN, SPEAKER OF THE U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Yeah, we have. We`re fine.

TRUMP: Paul and I have become, you know, very close I think.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And now we`re all saddled with a guy who`s thoroughly incompetent and over his head.

O`DONNELL: For his Secretary of Defense, Donald Trump has chosen a retired marine general whose nickname is "Mad Dog".

TRUMP: Mad Dog, he is great.

O`DONNELL: So sleep well, America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Donald Trump did something today that President Obama has never done, that President Clinton never did, something that neither of the Presidents Bush ever did, Ronald Reagan never did it. But today Donald Trump decided to do it. The president of Taiwan called him, and Donald Trump took the call. The financial times reports the telephone call is believed to be the first between a U.S. president-elect and a leader of Taiwan since diplomatic relations between the two were cut in 1979.

As with all Donald Trump phone calls now, there is a potential conflict of interest with this one. According to Taiwanese media, the Trump organization is reportedly considering expanding into Taiwan.

Of course, "The New York Times" reports the White House has not -- was not told about Mr. Trump`s call until after it happened according to a senior administration official. But the potential fallout from the conversation was significant, the administration official said.

Emily Horne, the spokesperson for the National Security Council issued this statement tonight, "There is no change to our long-standing policy on cross-Strait issues. We remain firmly committed to our "One-China" policy. Our fundamental interest is in peaceful and stable cross-Strait relations."

In the face of criticism erupting after the call became public, Donald Trump of course defended the conversation in a tweet, saying, "The president of Taiwan called me today to wish me congratulations on winning the presidency. Thank you."

Obviously, understanding nothing about the situation, Donald Trump seems to think that receiving a call from the president of Taiwan is totally different thing from placing a call to the president of Taiwan.

And even now, there`s some dispute in questions about who called who. And we also learned from the Philippines that Donald Trump has spoken with the president of the Philippines today.

Rodrigo Duterte, who has called president Obama, "a son of a whore", President Duterte is the craziest and possibly most dangerous-elected president in the world as of now. His vile words about President Obama were result of President Obama expressing his concern about human rights in the Philippines for over 2000 have been killed by government and what President Duterte`s so-called -- what he calls his "War on Drugs".

President Duterte staff made the phone call public, indicating that Donald Trump invited President Duterte to the White House next year.

The Atlantic`s James Fallows with long experience in China, who in fact just returned from China, tweeted today, "It is hard to overstate the bottomless pig ignorance and recklessness of Donald Trump`s phone call with the president of Taiwan."

Joining us now is James Fallows, national correspondent for the "Atlantic". You have more room here than a tweet, James, to react to everything we now know about the Taiwan call many.

JAMES FALLOWS, THE ATLANTIC: So I think it`s worth saying there are two possibilities here. Each of them is bad. One possibility is that Donald Trump did not understand the significance of what he was doing. He didn`t understand the sense of time of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter for whom I worked and on. He`s along the parade of republican and democratic presidents, so alike it`s been a very carefully negotiated protocol of how we deal with the separate entities of the People`s Republic of China on the mainland of the Republic of China on Taiwan.

We officially say they are one country. We transfer our recognition since the time of Regan to Beijing. And so we don`t -- Presidents of the United States do not talk directly to the presidents who have been elected by the people of Taiwan.

So maybe he didn`t know that or else he did know that. In which case, he decided just with no preparation, with no apparent briefing, with no nothing, to reverse a policy that`s been firm U.S., you know, doctrine since the time of at least Ronald Reagan and where he has his own commercial interests too. So he didn`t know what he was doing, or he did know what he was doing. Take your choice. They`re both bad.

O`DONNEL: And does he have advisers around him who want to see some kind of revival of a direct relationship with Taiwan?

FALLOWS: Certainly there`s been news in the last couple hours since this phone call in the news about it. Both some of his staffers who have been pushing a more active Taiwan relationship and, again, the news about his own commercial dealings there, about this hotel project that may or may not be going through. I think this is illustration number 5,000 of why his commercial holdings just become this ongoing conflict of interest, because every aspect of U.S. policy around the world has some bearing on his personal property. So one way or another, this needs to be resolved too.

O`DONNELL: Take us inside as best you might imagine at the Chinese government`s reaction to all of this tonight.

FALLOWS: So some from the point of view of the Chinese government, this is as fundamental a breach as if you were talking about U.S. education policy and said let`s go back to separate but equal, or you`re using some taboo word in the Middle East. I don`t know if Middle East politic is well enough to know a taboo word or you were joking with the Japanese about nuclear policy. This is the bedrock of American policy at least into time of Reagan.

So I think they`re recognizing, number, they don`t want to react in haste. There`s a kind of ponderousness to the Chinese bureaucracy. And also Henry Kissinger, who was the architect of this policy to begin with, is there. So number one, they`re not going to do anything hasty. Number two, they`re going to say what kind of person are we dealing with in the United States? Is this someone who does not know the background of the last 40 years? And we`re going to have to sort of humor him as the impaired leader of the United States? Is this someone who`s going to give us more leeway in any stages? So I think the first reaction from China is going to be nothing. And then probably over the next dare too, we`ll see something. And there is, you know, the Italian phrase about revenge as best served cold. I think that has its Chinese ramifications as well.

O`DONNELL: But surely they`ve been watching this unprecedented campaign for two years, and they`ve been listening to everything he has said about China, but also a lot of the other things he has said, a lot of the commentary in the American media is saying that this guy doesn`t know what he`s talking about. And so might the Chinese look at this as kind of an amateur hour thing that they don`t have to be too concerned about at this stage?

FALLOWS: Yes, I think that is so. And as you mentioned, I was in Shanghai until about two days ago and came back. And I think number one, they were surprised as most professionals in the United States were about the outcome of this election. And number two, there`s, I think, a calculation going on about whether it is better or worse for China to have so relatively inexperienced a person in command in the United States. Is this going to be difficult in certain symbolic ways? Or it can be upsetting the apple card (ph) or making trouble? Or is going to be an advantage for China if it means that Trump sort of doesn`t know enough about the great complexity over the last 40 years or how the U.S. puts together its military and its diplomatic and its economic and its university and thus other presence in East Asia.

And so whether there`s actually is an opening program to exploit. So I think like everybody else, they`re probably trying to figure out what exactly does this mean. Is there somebody in Trump`s absence who`s going to be taking up the guideline of these East Asian policies?

So in this way, the leadership of China and Beijing is much of the American and world population trying to figure out what exactly the next signals are going to be from this impending administration and who is going to be in charge.

O`DONNELL: It seems there was a certain amount of diplomatic ignorance around this called in front tower (ph) no matter who calls who actually, which might be in some dispute at this point.

But when that Tweak comes out from Donald Trump, very defensively saying, "He calls me. Hey, he calls me." That tweet of the author of it and the team putting that tweet together clearly believes it makes a huge difference that the president of Taiwan called him. That`s just entirely different from the call being placed the other way.

FALLOWS: So the minor issue is something the Chinese understand as well as Putin or anybody else is the vast flattery susceptibility that Donald Trump appears to have. And he can be the leader calling him to congratulate him. That`s where it`s point out that the point beyond that is acting as if it matters who initiated the call and who set it up. As you well know, in these matters of state to state signaling, the fact that a president-elect talked with a president on Taiwan, which just hasn`t been done, you know, since the time before Reagan, the fact the conversation took place, that`s what matters. It`s not who called who.

I mean a president and president-elect, they know whether or not to take calls. Presumably more people called Donald Trump during the day than he takes their calls. So that was in a way of compounding the amateurishness of it saying, "Oh, yeah, that would be a big difference of who placed the call." It`s the fact that the conversation took place and either they didn`t know what it mattered or they did know.

O`DONNELL: James Fallows, thank you very much for your ...

FALLOWS: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: And giving you perspective on this important story. I really appreciate you coming in tonight.

FALLOWS: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you. Coming up, Donald Trump versus -- you`re not going to believe this. Who is going rogue on Donald Trump? It`s just the last person you`d guess.

And later, Donald Trump has his selection for defense secretary. There`s just one big problem. The law says he cannot be the defense secretary. What will the democrats do?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: We have a breaking Donald Trump Twitter" news. Donald Trump just tweeted about another company in Indiana going to Mexico, Rexnord of Indiana. This is what he tweeted, "Rexnord of Indiana is moving to Mexico and rather viciously firing all 300 of its workers. This is happening in our country, no more.

Of course for the company that Donald Trump visited yesterday, Carrier, is also firing 1300 workers, but apparently not viciously, just firing them, because Donald Trump couldn`t stop it. Nothing in his tweet indicates he can stop this. That`s what we`ll discuss next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: We just reported the breaking news that Donald Trump is now tweeting about another company in Indiana that is sending jobs to Mexico. Donald Trump`s tweet says, "Rexnord of Indiana is moving to Mexico and rather viciously firing all of its 300 workers. This is happening all over the country, no more." Of course nothing in that tweet about what Donald Trump can or will do to stop this.

And all of this has Donald Trump in trouble with Sarah Palin of all people. Sarah Palin has gone rogue. This time she`s not just pretending to go rogue. She`s actually gone rogue. She has turned on Donald Trump, the first republican to do so since the election when republicans like Mitt Romney, who had turned against candidate Donald Trump have been turning back to supporting the coming presidency of Donald Trump.

Sarah Palin herself only days ago appeared to be lobbying for the cabinet position secretary of the veterans in the veterans administration, and now she`s attacking Donald Trump over what Donald Trump thinks is the greatest thing he`s ever done, making a deal with Carrier to pay them $7 million from the tax payers of Indiana in return for Carrier then moving 1300 jobs to Mexico.

Donald Trump says he got the governor of Indiana, Mike Pence, his future vice president, to make that payment to Carrier, because Carrier said there were another 800 jobs that it was threatening to move to Mexico that it would not move to Mexico if Carrier was paid not to move those jobs.

And so the Trump-Pence team came up with the extortion money to save those jobs. Here`s what Sarah Palin says about that, "When government steps in arbitrarily with individuals subsidies, favoring one business over others, it sets inconsistent unfair, illogical precedent. Meanwhile, the invisible hand that best orchestrates a free people`s free enterprise system gets amputated. Then, special interests creep in and manipulate markets. Republicans oppose this, remember? Instead, we support competition on a level playing field, remember? Because we know special interest crony capitalism is one big fail. Politicians picking and choosing recipients of corporate welfare is railed against by fiscal conservatives, for it`s a hallmark of corruption, and socialism."

Here is Sarah Palin in January making the opposite case, in favor of Donald Trump, that no one has to worry about whether or not Donald Trump is conservative enough.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PALIN: Now what they`re doing is wailing, "Well, Trump and his Trumpeters, they`re not conservative enough." Oh, my goodness gracious, how are they to tell us that we`re not conservative enough in order to be able to make these changes in America that we know need to be. But now they`re concerned about this idealogical purity. Give me a break.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Dana Milbank, Political Columnist at the "Washington Post" and Maria Teresa Kumar, the President and CEO of Voto Latino and MSNBC Contributor.

Maria Theresa, there`s Donald Trump now with tonight`s tweet, emphasizing just how ridiculous the Carrier deal is that here`s another company in Indiana moving jobs to Mexico, nothing he can do about it, nothing he will do about it. And this is because journalism, as it will, following up from carrier, starts doing stories about other companies in Indiana. There`s was a T.V. news report tonight about other companies in Indiana, including Rexnord, moving to Mexico. Donald Trump reacts to that report. But in the process, it seems to me, double underlines just what a ridiculous, phony event that was at Carrier.

MARIA TERESA KUMAR, PRESIDENT AND CEO OF VOTO LATINO: Exactly. Well, I think that -- I mean do you have, Lawrence, an LCC that basically is going to threaten to move to Mexico? I think this is your shot right now. It`s coming out and not understanding the economics of it. And for example, when you hear that Donald Trump is going to say, well, if you start moving jobs to Mexico or to China, I`m going to start imposing tariffs on your product when they come back. Not understanding the supply chain. That you may be building something in America, but you may be -- for example, you may need materials from China in order to import them. Are you going to impose tariffs on that? He doesn`t understand the complexity of this and he`s really in over his head.

And basically what the Carrier business did is, as you said, they held him at ransom and he caved. And it`s going to continue happening in an increasingly globalized internation marketplace, where factories are going to try to find where they`re going to be able to make their product in the cheapest manner in order for able to -- for a consumer here in America to be able to purchase them. I mean that is just basic economics.

O`DONNELL: So Dana, here`s Donald Trump tonight outraged that Rexnord is moving 300 jobs to Mexico. Three workers, Indiana, will lose their jobs. He was at a company the other day celebrating them. And they`re going to fire 1,000 more people than that. They`re going to fire 1300 people so that their jobs can be moved to Mexico. Donald Trump was celebrating the company that`s doing that.

DANA MILBANK, POLITICAL COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: Well, the Carrier is still moving jobs to Mexico. And I just wonder if, you know, a couple years hence we`re going to be talking about Carrier the way republicans and we were all talking about Solyndra at early in the Obama administration.

He has done exactly what republicans have been against for all this time. And that is attempting to pick winners and losers. Very expensive picking in this case, because, you know, we`ve mentioned the tax credits and what was done there. What`s not been mentioned is the implied sense that Carrier`s parent company is going to get billions of dollars in Pentagon contracts.

Now, if you`re going to start throwing, you know, a billion dollars here and there at companies to keep a few thousand jobs in the country, pretty soon that`s going to add up to real money.

O`DONNEL: Let`s listen to what the "Wall Street Journal" has said about this in their editorial. They said, "Like the Nixon administration, Donald Trump`s unpredictable non-ideological policy-making will be disorienting for those who claimed to believe in free markets. Some conservatives will be tempted to tolerate bad policies that appeared to be popular that they`d never accept from President Obama.

Many republicans stayed silent or supported Nixon as he imposed wage and price controls and created the EPA only to regret it later. They shouldn`t make the same mistake with Mr. Trump."

And Maria Teresa, it is just astounding to make that the voices we`re hearing from our -- the "Wall Street Journal" board and Sarah Palin. Sarah Palin is the one who`s trying to teach republican economics to Donald Trump.

KUMAR: And in this case, she`s absolutely right. You can`t pick winners. I mean do you remember the fallout that President Obama had when he was trying to save the auto industry? That was an actual area that was going to save millions of dollars within this country. And that was for -- to ensure that there was not a completely economic showdown.

Paul Ryan came out and said that he was trying to choose winners and losers. Now all of a sudden Paul Ryan, when asked about the Carrier deal, he`s completely silent. He thinks that it`s a good deal. I think that`s an example of how you`re going to see a lot of congressional members to give him a lot of leeway so that they can go ahead and do policies that they want to push.

That is not going to be advantageous to the American people. For example what Paul Ryan right now, his big thing is he wants to make sure that he`s on the good graces of Donald Trump, because he wants to privatize Medicare. That should basically send alarm bells to everyone that they`re not going to be working on the good graces of what`s best for the American public.

O`DONNELL: Dana, Stephen Moore, an economic adviser to Donald Trump, who did not used to believe any of these things himself, is now telling house republicans that, well, you know, you`re all going to have to be converted to this new Trump version of economics. Forget any of these republican notions that you`ve had.

MILBANK: Right. For Stephen Moore, he was from the libertarian Cato Institute, the most free marketeer of free marketeers now being in the position of defending the very opposite of it. The problem is for people who want to defend Trump. You don`t know what he`s going to do tomorrow. So here -- he was out there blasting Goldman Sachs as the author of all evil for 18 months, and now he`s stocking the administration with people from Goldman Sachs.

So many people are going to feel disappointed to his broken promises. But one promise he is very clearly keeping is he said he was going to be unpredictable. And it`s true. We have no idea what the man is going to do. He`s on the horn with Taiwan, he`s helping Carrier, he`s helping Goldman Sachs. We don`t know what`s coming next.

O`DONNELL: Maria Teresa Kumar and Dana Milbank, thank you both for joining us. I really appreciate it.

MILBANK: Thanks, Lawrence.

KUMAR: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up next, can Donald Trump`s pick for defense secretary get confirmed? He has a high hurdle to get over.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Retired General James Mattis may have a challenge getting confirmed at Senate as Secretary of Defense, because then it`s against the law for Secretary of Defense to have served in the military in the last seven years, and he retired just three years ago. There has been only one exception of that law since it was first enacted in the 1947 and that was for General George C. Marshall appointed in 1950.

And when Congress made that exception, they included a line in the legislation about how that exception should never be granted again, saying it was the sense of the Congress that after General Marshall leaves the office of Secretary of Defense, no additional appointments of military men to that office shall be approved.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand takes that seriously. She said in the statement yesterday, "While I deeply respect General Mattis` service, I will oppose a waiver. Civilian control of our military is a fundamental principle of American democracy and I will not vote for an exception to this rule."

Former Defense Secretary, Bob Gates, had this to say after his meeting today with Donald Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB GATES, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: I told him I thought his selection of General Mattis for the Secretary of Defense was terrific. Very supportive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The current Defense Secretary, Ash Carter, issued this statement today, "I have known General Jim Mattis for many years and hold him in the highest regard. I will continue to do everything I can to help ensure a seamless transition at the Department of Defense."

And here is what House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement, "As Secretary of Defense, General Mattis will have the immense responsibility of improving President Trump`s judgment as Commander-in Chief. We are grateful that the president-elect reportedly found General Mattis` argument against torture persuasive. We will need the Secretary of Defense to continue to uphold the laws, alliances and norms that protect our nation and enshrine our values as Americans."

Joining us now, Phyllis Bennis, a fellow with the Institute for Policy Studies, and Jeremy Bash, Former Chief of Staff for Leon Panetta at the CIA and the Defense Department during the Obama administration.

Jeremy Bash, do you know General Mattis and what is your view of his selection?

JEREMY BASH, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF FOR LEON PANETTA AT THE CIA: I now General Mattis very well. We worked together when he was the central commanding general and I was Chief of Staff to the Secretary of Defense. He worked closely with Secretary Panetta. And I think Secretary Panetta has said and I strongly believe that General Mattis is a strategic thinker. He is a can-do general. He understands what the troops face day-in and day-out. He`s also very thoughtful. He`s very careful. And I think he really helped ensure that our posture in the Middle East was arrayed correctly after we drew down in Iraq, and I think he`ll be an excellent Secretary of Defense.

Now the job of Sec Def is really two jobs, it`s the secretary of war and the secretary of the Pentagon. And he`ll be an excellent secretary of war because he knows combat. As for being secretary of the Pentagon, managing the 3 million people in the Department of Defense, that`s where I think he will need to have around him, and I think he`ll get people around him who can help him manage that mass of bureaucracy and really manage this enormous enterprise that is our Department of Defense.

O`DONNELL: Phyllis Bennis, before we get to the issue of qualifications for the job and how he would do the job, let`s go to the Congressional prohibition of him doing the job that has been there and has been only that one exception that we cited, Senator Gillibrand saying she absolutely respects that sense of the congress, wants civilian control of the military. And this is how we define it, someone who has not been in military service for at least seven years.

PHYLLIS BENNIS, A FELLOW WITH THE INSTITUTE FOR POLICY STUDIES: It was 10 years before that. It`s only recently been seven years. But I think more important is the principle that the -- it`s part of the core understanding of what our once and future democracy is supposed to include, which is civilian control of the military.

The U.S. military is the biggest and strongest military, it`s not the biggest, but the strongest military that has ever existed in history. The notion that it would be under the command of a general, and remember, Marines talked about being once a Marine always a Marine, you know, somebody who`s just out of the military who sees his role very much in the military thing as Jeremy just said. He`s a can-do general. I have no doubt that he can do war.

The problem is, what we need is a civilian, not a warmonger who`s in there. This is a general who unlike many other generals has not come out of the war saying, "I want to never fight another war again." He is somebody who has said, "I like to fight." He said to the Iraqi leaders, "If you F with me, I will kill you all" You know, this is not somebody -- the reason they call him "Mad Dog" Mattis didn`t come out of the sky. So we have to look both of the individual and that principle.

BASH: Phyllis, I have to stop you. General Mattis is not a warmonger. I think he believes that in order to have peace, in order to have diplomacy, it has to be backed by military strength. But I once alluded to you .

BENNIS: I don`t think that includes threatening -- can i finish for a minute?

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: Jeremy, let me let Phyllis finish her point her. Go ahead, Phyllis.

BENNIS: The point is that this is partly about principle, that the principle of our country is civilian control.

Now, can you say, seven years isn`t long enough, 10 years, it should have been -- maybe it should be 20 years. Some of us, myself included, believe that no one who was in the military as a general should become the Secretary of Defense. That inherently should be a non-military figure.

But there`s also the question of this individual person. He`s not by any means the worst of those who were being considered. But the fact that we have somebody who seems to glorify this notion of killing people, he talked about loving to kill, liking to kill. I will kill you if you F with me. These are not the words of somebody who is thoughtful and cautious about wanting to go into war.

BASH: I think unfortunately, Phyllis, you`re mischaracterizing his view of the necessity of using lethal force, of using military force to defend America`s national security interest.

But I do want to agree with you on one point, which is I think you make an important point, which is there is a principle of civilian control of the military.

BENNIS: There`s a reason for it.

BASH: And if we go back to George Washington, I just want to emphasize this because I don`t want any misunderstanding.

When George Washington resigned his commission, his commander-in-chief in the Continental Army on December 23rd, 1783, he made an important statement that we were not going to have a military leader be president of the United States, or secretary of war, or later secretary of defense.

I think that`s something that we should uphold. General Mattis resigned. He resigned in 2013. He`s been a civilian for a number of years.

BENNIS: I need to know the board of General Dynamics.

BASH: And I think as long as there is that cooling-off period between his service in uniform and his service as a civilian, we ought to give him the benefit of the doubt. He`s very capable, and I think he`ll do an excellent job.

BENNIS: I think there are plenty of people who are capable. I think someone who has spent his years on the board of an -- of a corporation like General Dynamics, which is one of the biggest, most powerful military corporations, has not left the military behind.

O`DONNELL: We`re going to have to leave it there for tonight. Phyllis Bennis and Jeremy Bash, thank you both for joining us. We really appreciate it.

BENNIS: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Coming up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF UNITED STATES: I figured, what was he going to prove? Did he want to -- I wondered, what the hell was he trying to prove?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The guy who Donald Trump hates so much he can`t even mention his name will join us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Donald Trump is so mad at Evan McMullin that he refuses to say his name.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Remember when they say Donald Trump is going to lose to some guy I never even heard of. Who is that guy? He is going to lose to this guy. But the people of Utah were amazing, and we trounced them. And by the way, Hillary came in second, and that guy came in third. I was still trying to figure out. I`m still trying to figure out what was he going to prove. Did he want to -- I wondered. What the hell was he trying to prove? I guess he wanted us to lose the Supreme Court, that`s about the only thing he was going to get.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That guy who Donald Trump is referring to was on the ballot Utah and ten other states as an independent candidate for president. McMullin won 21 percent of the vote in his home state of Utah and he responded to Donald Trump today by tweeting, "Winning the election makes you president-elect but it does not make you a leader worth following. You won political legitimacy, but nothing can legitimatize your bigotry, authoritarianism, and corruption."

Joining me us now Evan McMullin, former independent candidate for president and former Chief Policy Director and of the U.S. House and Representatives.

Evan, what is your -- when you referred to Donald Trump`s legitimacy and you refer to his corruption. As you see it on the landscape of Trump activities today, how would you describe the corruption?

EVAN MCMULLIN, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT CANDIDATE: Well, clearly he`s setting himself up to do a lot of self-dealing from the White House. And that`s what we`ve seen a lot of separation between his business empire and his role now as president or president-elect has not happened. He tells us it will happen. It`s important for it to happen. But with his children involved in the business and the administration in one way or another, I think it`s going to be very, very difficult for him to entirely separate himself from the business.

And he`s already had phone calls with other world leaders that have included discussions about his business interests. We need to be very, very wary of that. But that`s just one part of it. I mean there are also a range of other things. As a conservative, at least I think we need to watch. He`s going to grow the size of the government. The Carrier deal shows that he`s going to middle in our economy that he shouldn`t that I think will actually be distractive.

Of course there are concerns about his bigotry and the bigotry of some of those who he is working with, who is appointed too in his cabinet, not all of them, I want to be clear about that. But there are a lot of things we`re going to need to watch very, very closely. We`re entering a phase in this country where we`re going to need a new era of civic engagement. We`re going to need to be very attentive and vigilant and vocal as we watch this administration roll forward and take power.

O`DONNELL: All right, quickly, what is your future in republican politics?

MCMULLIN: Well, you know, I think more in terms of my future for involvement in politics for the country. I am a conservative. I hope the Republican Party will continue to be home for conservatives. I think that`s not possible right now with Donald Trump as the president. We`ll see where he goes with the party and where conservatives need to be, but I`ll be engaged.

O`DONNELL: Evan McMullin, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

MCMULLIN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Donald Trump finally discusses the Dakota access pipeline. Just didn`t do it in public.

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O`DONNELL: Donald Trump finally talked about the Dakota Access Pipeline today when he met with Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. Senator Heitkamp says they discussed the complexities facing the construction of the pipeline.

She is rumored to be under consideration for Secretary of the NGO or Secretary of the Interior. If she took a job in the Trump administration, the democrats would lose her senate seat to a republican appointed by North Dakota Republican Governor, Jack Dalrymple. That would not change the political support in North Dakota for the Dakota Access Pipeline that has been subject of protests led by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.

Senator Heitkamp along with all of the republican political leaders in North Dakota support the pipeline. A group of veterans are going to protest the site -- they`re going to the protest site this weekend as a dramatic showdown looms on Monday.

MSNBC Cal Perry reports from the site, Cal?

CAL PERRY, MSNBC REPORTER: Lawrence, this is a never evolving camp with construction now under way in preparation of the veterans who have said they`re coming. At least 2000 vets. Two thousand potentially have already registered on Facebook. Unclear exactly, how many will show up.

We`d actually heard rumors there could be up to 5,000 on the way. Everyone here we`ve spoken into in the camp is welcoming this news. They`re ready for that support.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHAKA FREEMAN, PROTESTER: I have a lot of confidence that the veterans that are showing up are coming to help protect, you know. I have a lot of trust in that. I`ve already had a lot of trust in the veterans, but the whole idea of them coming in force to be with us and help us protect, is, you know, is giving me a lot of courage.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PERRY: The big question on everybody`s mind is what will happen on Monday. Monday is the day of course that the authorities have given people here to abandon the camp. We spoke to law enforcement officials today who said it`s not likely they will move physically on the camp. They say, they understand. The optics of that are very, very poor. Nevertheless, in speaking to veterans here who have already arrived, they say they are here to protect the water protectors.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEW ROBIE, VETERAN: We`re defenders, right. And because there`s human rights violations happening here, the constitution is being violated. These people have the right to be here. They don`t have the right to be told they`re not allowed to be here. And to hose (ph) them down, to use things that aren`t even allowed in combat, that`s why I`m here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PERRY: With at least six agencies coordinating what could be a violent day on Monday. Certainly the question is, how is this going to end? Will it end in some kind of a standoff? Or will the authorities let people here stay. The weather is going to get bad on Tuesday. Temperatures are going to drop into the single digits with a wind chill. It will be minus 20 degrees. Official is telling us they believe most people will leave the camp. But when you talk to people here, they say they`re in it for the long haul, Lawrence?

O`DONNELL: MSNCB`s Cal Perry, thank you. Coming up, a especial last word, using your words, some of your tweets, actually, a lot of your tweets. Will one of your tweets be one of them? Stick around.

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O`DONNEL: The last ford (ph) of the week, "A Special One" is next.

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O`DONNEL: And now for tonight`s "Last Word", this week, a star was born right here on this show. And now, I and many of you have a new favorite poet.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOYCE CHISALE, KIND FUND SCHOLARSHIP RECEPIENT: My poem is entitled "Little by Little".

O`DONNELL: "Little by Little".

CHISALE: Yes.

O`DONNELL: Okay.

CHISALE: Little by little we`ll go. No matter how far the distance is, we are not shaken. Little by little we`ll go and reach our destination. Little by little we`ll go no matter how bumpy or rocky the road is, we are going to turn back. Little by little we`ll go and fulfill our dreams. Little by little we`ll go no matter how narrow the path is we are going to force ourselves to pass. And little by little we`ll go and reach the promise land. Don`t be shaken. Don`t turn back. Little by little you`ll go and reach your destination.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That`s Joyce Chisale. She`s on her second year of high school in Malawi.

Alice B (ph) tweeted, "The "Little by Little" poem is stuck in my head. What an amazing woman.

Emily Patterson tweeted, "Joyce Chisale`s smile and poem are the most uplifting things I`ve seen and heard in weeks.

David G tweeted, "Humbling and beautiful Joyce Chisale renews faith in humanity."

Clara (ph) tweeted her own handwritten words of poem "Little by Little" after so many of you are asking for a written version of the poem.

Mary (ph) tweeted, "That was one of the most beautiful things I have seen. Joyce`s smile and warm heart was amazing gift she gave to me," says Mary.

Maya (ph) tweeted "I want to be Joyce when I grow up."

Joyce told me she wants to be a doctor and a poet when she grows up. And here`s why.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHISALE: I like to be a doctor because I like to help people who are like getting sick, because nowadays there are more people who are getting sick. So I like to help them. I would like also to encourage other girls (inaudible) to finish school so that they can take example of me as a female doctor. And I`d like to be a poet in order to inspire girls, more especially girls who are dropping out of school, because most of the poems I like are educational poems.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: "Little by Little" is an educational poem. "Little by little we go, and pursue our dreams. Little by little you go and reach your destination."

When I met Joyce, she had been knocked off the road to her destination. She was no longer enrolled in high school. She had been sent home because her father could no longer afford to pay her high school tuition. As in many African countries, high school is not free in Malawi. And most families cannot afford the tuition. I had the honor last week of telling Joyce, that thanks to your contributions to the Kind Fund, she would be receiving a Kind Fund Scholarship for the rest of her years in high school and she would never have to worry about tuition again.

The Kind Fund is the unique partnership of MSNBC and UNICEF which I created six years ago for kids in need of desks. Our primary mission is manufacturing desks in factories in Malawi and then delivering them to school where the teachers and students have never seen desk. Most schools in Malawi still don`t have desk.

Four years ago, we expanded the program to include scholarships for girls to attend high school and stay in the high school. Girl`s education is a special challenge in Malawi. The girls, high school graduation rate is half that of boys graduation rare.

Girls need extra help to stay in high school. And the Kind Fund is now delivering that help to thousands of girls. Leah in la-la-land (ph) tweeted, "Little by little, desk by desk, we added a desk this morning. Thanks for everything you do. Very inspiring."

Several hundred thousand kids are sitting at desks in Malawi that you have provided. Michael Davidovich (ph) tweeted, "My wife and I donated a year`s tuition for a Malawi girl again this year." I re-tweeted, "I couldn`t hold back my tears. I`ve bought desks for the last two years. But Joyce inspired me also to contribute toward a scholarship."

Sue tweeted, "That was a beautiful segment to have so little yet so much."

Sue, that is what I marvel at every minute when I`m when these kids in these schools. Most of them don`t own shoes, but you can`t find in their faces or their spirit or their words any sense of deprivation. That maybe because they don`t know anyone who has much more than they do. The per capita income in Malawi is $342 a year. It is one of the poorest countries on earth. They don`t have T.V.s. They don`t see the way rich people live. They don`t see the way we live.

When you ask kids what they would like to have, they have to think about it, they don`t have an answer ready because no one asks them that. They`re not like American kids saying, "Oh, I want an iPhone 7. I wanted an iPad. Tickets to a concert." None of that stuff enters their heads. When you ask girls in high school what they need, they almost all say the same thing, soap. They would love to have a bar of soap.

Think about that. The number one thing on your wish list is a bar of soap because you can`t afford a bar of soap. But you`re smiling when you say it, because you`re so very grateful to be in high school and to be on track to reach your destination, to be a doctor, to be a nurse, to be a teacher, to be a bank teller, a waitress, waitress is an upper middle-class job in Malawi.

Heather (ph) tweeted, "What`s smallest amount I can donate to the Kind Fund." Heather, in a country where a kid would just love to have a bar of soap, there is no amount too small. Ten dollars, $5, $2, whatever is the lowest amount you can process on your credit card can do some good in Malawi.

You can contribute at lastworddesks@msnbc.com. You can designate whether you want your contribution to go to the desks or the girl scholarships. You can give desk and scholarships as gifts in the name of people on your holiday gift list. UNICEF will send them an e-mail designating the gift in their name.

After listening to Joyce on giving Tuesday, Chris Shea (ph) tweeted, "That is so wonderful. And wonderful is such a weak word to describe her poem and her spirit. Gave me tears of joy."

Chris, that`s my problem every time I talk about this. It is a constant struggle to try to find the words that don`t feel weak and inadequate when trying to describe who these kids are, the kids who are sitting at the desks that you have provided, the girls who you are sending to school with your scholarships.

So thank you - thank you all on Twitter for giving me your words tonight to tell this story.

And thank you most of all to Joyce Chisale, the high school student who turned teacher this week to teach us all something about the kind of determination it takes to reach our destination, little by little.

Joyce Chisale gets the Last Word of the week.

END