The Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 12/15/2016

Guests: Ron Klain, David Cay Johnston, Garry Kasparov, Eric Schneiderman, Eugene Robertson, Krystal Ball

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: December 15, 2016 Guest: Ron Klain, David Cay Johnston, Garry Kasparov, Eric Schneiderman, Eugene Robertson, Krystal Ball

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: Keep you updated -- election, but Republican lawmakers are doing their level best to rush those bills to their Republican governor`s desk while he still has a desk.

They`re working late into the night, having thrown all of the protesters out of the gallery, we`ll keep you updated.

That does it for us tonight, we will see you again tomorrow, now it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good evening Lawrence.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Good evening, Rachel. We`ve got some breaking news we`ve got to get to tonight.

MADDOW: Got you --

O`DONNELL: Great to get going, thanks, Rachel. So, the breaking news tonight of course is that President Obama has just said the United States will retaliate against Russia for interfering in the presidential election.

But first, we`re going to talk about the story that Donald Trump doesn`t want us to talk about tonight.

The story that he had previously promised would be the biggest story of the day today until he decided that he just couldn`t talk about it.

And that is why we need to talk about it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC: Senator Elizabeth Warren threw down the gauntlet today on the issue of the president-elect`s conflicts of interest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I don`t think there`s anything nefarious going on or sneaky or transparent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This right here is what an apparent conflict of interest looks like.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My goodness, what are his children doing?

KELLYANNE CONWAY, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT-ELECT TRUMP: I find all this hand-wringing over who was in that meeting yesterday to be really over the top.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s like the princelings of China and other corrupt regimes and not the United States of America.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: This is truly an exciting time to be alive.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I am a 100 percent certain that the Russians hacked political organizations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump tweeted this: "if Russia or some other entity was hacking, why did the White House wait so long to act?"

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The political climate apparently caused the Obama administration to pull its punches.

GRAHAM: Here`s President Trump`s dilemma. What are you going to do? If you don`t believe that the Russians were involved, then I am really troubled about that.

JIMMY KIMMEL, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST: He refuses to point a finger at Russia, and why would he? He`ll be up for re-election in four years, he might need them again. So --

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Today, the most important political news story of the day is what didn`t happen today. And that is what Donald Trump does not want us to be talking about tonight.

He wants us to be talking about "Vanity Fair", Graydon Carter and the worst restaurant in the world.

And we always know what Donald Trump wants us to be talking about, because he tells us that every day on Twitter, often at the beginning of the day.

And today, his first tweet of the day was, "has anyone looked at the really poor numbers of "Vanity Fair Magazine"?

Way down, big trouble, dead, Graydon Carter, no talent will be out." Donald Trump has been tweeting that sort of thing about "Vanity Fair" and Graydon Carter for years.

He`s been wrong for years, and he was attacking Graydon Carter years before Graydon Carter took over "Vanity Fair" since Graydon Carter along with Kurt Andersen co-authored the term "short-fingered vulgarian" to describe Donald Trump back when they were running "SPY Magazine" in the 1980s.

Donald Trump tweeted that this morning about "Vanity Fair" because "Vanity Fair" ran a review about the Trump grill in Trump Tower.

That said the Trump grill could be the worst restaurant in America. Now, Donald Trump knows that his tweet was going to bring much more attention to the review of his terrible restaurant.

I wasn`t going to read that review if Donald Trump didn`t alert me to it. It`s a wonderful piece of writing that you will enjoy, just what you would expect from "Vanity Fair".

Even if it`s on something I don`t care about, Donald Trump`s terrible restaurant.

But it was worth it to Donald Trump to try anything today to deflect attention for what Donald Trump wasn`t talking about today.

Even though weeks ago he promised that today would be the biggest day yet in the Trump transition.

The day when he would reveal exactly how he was going to remove any appearance of conflict of interest in his business dealings.

He scheduled the press conference that didn`t happen today two weeks ago, and then he canceled it on Monday.

And then, after he canceled it, he treated the world to a demonstration of how he has no intention of separating himself from his family business. He had his family attend a presidential transition meeting with the heads of tech companies.

All of our top tech companies like Facebook, Apple, Google, but not Twitter. Twitter wasn`t allowed in the room.

"Politico" reports that "Twitter was not invited to the event in retribution for refusing during the campaign to allow an emoji version of the hashtag crooked Hillary.

According to a source close to the situation. Elizabeth Warren has had it with Donald Trump`s refusal to release his tax returns as a presidential candidate. And she has had it with his refusal to do anything about his conflicts of interest.

And so, Elizabeth Warren announced today that she will introduce a bill co- sponsored by four other Democratic senators that would require the president and vice president to disclose and divest any potential financial conflicts of interest.

The bill would also require Donald Trump`s appointees to recuse themselves from any matters involving his financial conflicts of interest if they appear before their agencies.

Any possible Trump business that appears before a department of the government, that cabinet member would have to recuse himself or herself from dealing with that.

Elizabeth Warren said this today about the bill. "Americans deserve to know that the president is doing what`s best for the country, not using his office to do what`s best for himself.

The only way for Donald Trump to eliminate conflicts of interest is to divest his financial interests and place them in a blind trust. Placing assets in a true blind trust has been the standard for previous presidents.

Our bill makes clear, we expect Trump to do the same." Joining us now, Ron Klain, former Chief of Staff to Vice Presidents Joe Biden and Al Gore.

Also with us David Cay Johnston; Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and columnist with the "Daily Beast".

He is the author of "The making of Donald Trump". Ron, I think people out there, certainly all Trump voters out there, when they see the picture of the kids in the meeting, and if they imagine a picture of the kids in cabinet meetings, the Trump kids in cabinet meetings, they don`t see anything wrong with that.

It`s bring your kids to work day, bring your daughter to work day, bring your son to work day, that`s become an American institution.

I don`t think the -- certainly the Trump voter out there sees any problem with this.

RON KLAIN, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO JOE BIDEN & AL GORE: Well, you know, Lawrence, I agree with that. But I think in part because we`ve never seen anything like this before.

We really have no way to judge or assess this. Because this isn`t a case of a presidential potential conflict of interest or apparent conflict of interest. This is an unprecedented case of a president with some glaring conflict of interest.

The effort to build a Trump Tower in Istanbul at a time when our relations with Turkey are on a hair trigger.

The attempt to build Trump Towers and Trump properties in Moscow when our relations with Russia are at a flash point.

So, you know, I think people -- it`s going to take, sadly, time for people to really appreciate what`s going on here.

But we are going to face a crisis in the next few months, Lawrence, where Russia does something very aggressive.

That the president assembles his advisors in the situation room, they will recommend tough action against Russia, and the president will have to choose between a half-built Trump Tower in Moscow and protecting the freedom and security of the American people.

That`s a conflict we`ve never seen before in our country. And so it doesn`t surprise me that people aren`t really roused by it yet, because we just haven`t seen anything like this before.

O`DONNELL: Ron, you`ve been in positions in government where you`ve had to advise politicians about potential conflicts of interests, appearance of conflicts of interests.

KLAIN: Yes --

O`DONNELL: What would you say to Donald Trump about that imagery of his kids being in that meeting and the possibility of his kids being in meetings like that in the White House?

KLAIN: Well, as I said, it`s much worse than just imagery, it`s the actuality. Donald Trump has no plan to manage his conflicts of interest.

So, except the -- said there`s a plan that said his children would manage the business and he would manage the government.

And now it`s clear he`s fusing those two things. He brings his children to meetings with rich potential investors, maybe they`re looking to get money from these big tech companies to back new Trump enterprises.

You know, this is just wrong. It`s not -- it`s not an optics issue. It`s not a politics issue, it`s a legal issue, and it`s an issue about the sanctity of our government.

And Donald Trump ran for president -- look, I worked hard for Hillary Clinton, I didn`t want to see him become president. But he won, and he`s going to be president. That`s the job he said he would do.

Not manage his interests, not pursue his economic interests. It`s time for him to choose, and if he`s going to be president, he has to put his own personal business work aside and be our president.

O`DONNELL: And David Cay Johnston, the "Wall Street Journal" is reporting tonight just minutes ago that the Trump plan as they understand it now is, they will not divest.

There will be no divesting, they won`t be liquidating assets. Elizabeth Warren`s legislation says that`s the only way you can do this.

Liquidate the assets, take the proceeds, put all that in a blind trust, that`s the only way. And the cancellation of this press conference today, the cancellation made on Monday.

I think to long-time Trump watchers like you, people who have written books about them as you have, I -- tell me if that didn`t indicate to you, they`re canceling it because they actually have nothing to say.

They have no plan to offer, and they don`t want to live out the rest of the transition being criticized about having no plan every day.

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, COLUMNIST, DAILY BEAST: Well, Donald Trump promised a press conference, just like he promised something you pointed out repeatedly, Lawrence, about Melania Trump`s work papers.

When she came to the United States and worked as a model, and he didn`t deliver there either. We`re not going to see Donald Trump explaining himself. He doesn`t believe he needs to explain himself like Vladimir Putin.

He thinks whatever he does is just fine. He sent a powerful message by having his children in that room.

This opened up a world in which business people and government leaders now recognize that if you want to curry favor with the Trumps, you do it through the two Trump boys.

If you are having a problem with the U.S. government, they are in a position now to effectively blackmail you. Bribery and blackmail being the same crime from different points of view.

And because they`re not subject to disclosure laws and Trump is not disclosing anything, we will have no idea what kind of deals Donald Trump`s sons are making that are inimical to the national security interest of the United States, but favorable to the Trump family.

And the only way to resolve this is to appoint an independent broker who has never dealt with the Trump family to put the assets into a blind trust for the broker to sell.

And the broker to disclose what`s happened. And I don`t think we`re going to see that happen because Donald Trump evidently is highly dependent on the cash flow from these enterprises in order to maintain his life and that of his children.

O`DONNELL: Ron Klain, the divestiture process too, would be complicated.

And it may be that what Donald Trump has decided is, the longer I wait to divest or sell any asset to start pleasing the critics, the higher price I can get for it.

I can get a higher price for it when I am president, and I am considering some issues of interest to Vladimir Putin.

Maybe I could get Russian oligarchs to pay an awful lot more for a certain property than it is either worth or than it is worth today.

KLAIN: Yes, I mean, maybe, and maybe more than that. I mean, I think David is absolutely right on this.

I actually think there`s no plan to sell these assets at all. And you know, as a Republican lawyer said today, try to imagine World War II with a Roosevelt Tower in Berlin and a Roosevelt Hotel, you know, in Frankfurt.

And Franklin Roosevelt sitting there --

O`DONNELL: Sure --

KLAIN: And trying to fight World War II. I mean, it`s just you can`t imagine it. And so, you know, there is no way, Trump`s first plan he said was to put these assets in a blind trust.

There`s no way to have a blind trust when your assets are buildings with your name on them in 20-foot gold letters.

There`s nothing blind about where the Trump money is. So, the only solution that protects the dedication of a potential president to the interest of our country, not his own pocket book is divestiture.

Senator Warren`s bill today, you know, I think is a -- is a great piece of legislation and is what should happen. But you know, I don`t think it has much of a chance sadly in a Republican-controlled Senate.

And I don`t think Donald Trump is going to take this on, on his own. And so, I`m glad Senator Warren is fighting this fight.

She`s fighting the right fight, she`s a great leader to fight this fight. But I think we`re getting more and more Americans to get concerned about it and speak out about it.

O`DONNELL: And David, one of the things that makes the blind trust so useless in this particular case is that the Trump children, they`re sitting there at the table.

And the Trump children, if they were running this operation in a sort of blind way from Donald Trump, as he claims that they plan, it seems like that is going to be their plan whenever they get to it.

That they won`t divest anything, but the boys will run it and I won`t know what they`re doing.

But they will be sitting at meetings like that tech meeting filled with all these very high stakes players in the tech world.

And even if somehow Donald Trump didn`t know what businesses his sons were in, they would know, and they would know which one of those tech people at the meeting said something that could benefit their businesses.

And they could walk that particular executive out of the building and make a little deal on the way out the door.

JOHNSTON: Well, and let`s keep in mind that the sons will be in a position to simply wink and nod to dad that they like somebody or they don`t like somebody.

And remember, Donald Trump`s long history here, thousands of cases where he didn`t pay his workers, he didn`t pay his vendors, they could decide not to pay people.

Is somebody going to take them to court for not paying their bills and risk the wrath of the president of the United States?

This, by the way, I think leaves Donald in a very vulnerable position. If at any point, the Republican leadership decides that they would rather have President Mike Pence. Trump`s refusal to act on this could hand them a cudgel to go after him.

O`DONNELL: The "Cbs" poll on Trump giving the businesses over to the kids to run, if Donald Trump hands control of business to kids, will that prevent conflicts?

Yes, 26, no, 70, don`t know, 4. So, Ron Klain, America passed that test, 70 percent got that right.

KLAIN: Yes, look, and as I said, I think over time, people`s appreciation for the kinds of conflicts, for the kinds of information David has brought to the public`s attention will really get more and more acute.

And we`ll see more and more (AUDIO GAP: 00:00:25) I admit, it`s a bit abstract, conflicts is an abstract concept.

You know, all this is a little hard for people to process, but I do think that the nature of this will become more clear as we go on.

And, you know, as David alluded to, if he`s going to have his sons in these meetings, and they`re running these businesses, there`s nothing blind about that at all, and there`s nothing trustworthy about that at all.

It is the most apparent and egregious kind of conflict you can imagine. And it`s particularly if they`re going to continue to pursue really big, major overseas developments.

Where the U.S. has foreign policy interests, where the potential for conflict is very high, now, that`s the scariest thing.

O`DONNELL: Ron Klain, David Cay Johnston, thank you for sharing your expertise on this stuff, really appreciate it.

KLAIN: Thanks David --

JOHNSTON: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, President Obama has just spoken about the election hacking, and he says that the United States will retaliate against Russia at a time of its place and in a method of its choosing.

Russian political activist Garry Kasparov will join us. And New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman helped secure that $25 million settlement from Donald Trump.

A settlement Donald Trump said he would never do for the students at the defunct Trump University, the fraudulent university.

Attorney General Schneiderman is now preparing to take on President Trump`s policies whenever necessary.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Lenin coined the phrase "useful idiot". Of course, he said it in Russian. And who is the useful idiot now? Garry Kasparov will join us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: We have breaking news tonight. President Obama is promising retaliation for Russia`s interference with the presidential campaign.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think there is no doubt that when any foreign government tries to impact the integrity of our elections, that we need to take action.

And we will, at a time and place of our own choosing. Some of it may be explicit and publicized, some of it may not be.

But Mr. Putin is well aware of my feelings about this because I spoke to him directly about it.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: This morning Donald Trump tweeted this: "if Russia or some other entity was hacking, why did the White House wait so long to act?

Why did they only complain after Hillary lost?" The "New York Times" today wrote in an editorial, "there could be no more useful idiot, to use Lenin`s term of art, than an American president who doesn`t know he`s being played by a wily foreign power."

Joining us now, Garry Kasparov; a former world chess champion and chairman of the Human Rights Foundation and a Russian pro democracy leader.

He`s the author of "Winter is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped".

Garry, it doesn`t seem like Donald Trump is going to be part of the movement to stop Vladimir Putin.

GARRY KASPAROV, FORMER CHESS CHAMPION & CHAIRMAN, HUMAN RIGHTS FOUNDATION: Absolutely not. I think it`s quite ridiculous, you know, to -- even to assume that such a massive cooperation could be carried without direct approval and blessing of Russian dictator.

I`ve written enough books on dictators and dictatorships. I grew up in the Soviet Union in a communist country, and I don`t need any Intel to know that, you know, you can have Putin`s fingerprints all over the place.

O`DONNELL: Yes, there`s a mode that the Putin regime has gotten into with recognizable practices and characteristics.

KASPAROV: Oh, absolutely. I mean, Putin knows that there`s one main rule of survival for a dictator.

You cannot afford to look weak. And you know, when Obama said Russia was a regional power.

That was a challenge for Putin. And Obama`s biggest mistake of course, after -- you know, he failed to enforce his red line in Syria, is to underestimate that Putin would go somewhere. So, for me, the question was not if Putin strikes -- would strike. It`s when and where?

And I have to say that he took a calculated risk to aim at the core of American democracy. And, you know, unfortunately, he succeeded.

O`DONNELL: The reports indicate that the -- that one of the reasons why President Obama didn`t get more explicit about this, although they got pretty explicit.

And in October, the intelligence community said approved at the highest levels of the Russian government. They did everything except type the word Putin in the -- in the reports about it then.

KASPAROV: Like, you know, it`s the -- from the perspective of the outside world and of course, in Russia, Putin looks victorious, because he did what he did, you know, he succeeded.

Now Trump is about to enter the White House, and Trump picked up Rex Tillerson, you know, Putin`s friend and business partner of his confidante (INAUDIBLE).

And you know, everybody expects American foreign policy to change dramatically, sanctions to be lifted and Trump to prepare a kind of a grand bargain with Putin.

You know, allow Yalta 1945, so, it is dividing the world again between two super powers.

O`DONNELL: A grand bargain in which you would imagine Trump asking for what?

KASPAROV: I don`t know, but it`s just -- it`s --

O`DONNELL: You can see what he is willing to give away.

KASPAROV: Oh --

O`DONNELL: You can`t see --

KASPAROV: And there`s plenty you can give away, and it`s not only the Crimea, you know, Ukraine`s raid of Crimea or other parts of Ukraine.

But you know, he could, you know, offer Putin, you know, just to sort of start from scratch, you know, let`s forget NATO.

You know, the entire global security infrastructure that has been built after World War II, now you know, could be at stake.

And we don`t know whether it will be, you know, some kind of stupid American interests or, you know, interests of ExxonMobil or Trump`s business in part or anything else.

Because you know, America is still the leader of the free world. And I know the reaction of eastern Europeans, Europeans in general who know that Putin has been going after them.

We have reports one after another pointing at Putin, at Putin`s Russia. Not at China, not at Iran, not this -- you know, a guy in T-shirt in New Jersey seller squarely to Putin. You know, blaming him for hacking secret documents and meddling with European politics.

O`DONNELL: And what you see in Donald Trump`s approach to Putin, imagine the two of them in the room finally. Imagine how that goes.

KASPAROV: Look, it could be anything. I think to begin with, Trump could hope for a grand bargain.

But it could end up, you know, in just a very bad relations which could be another potential disaster.

Or because Trump could get mad and just, you know, start doing something, you know, unimaginable.

So, I think it`s great danger that the foreign policy will be in the hands of a person who would also be accompanied by Michael Flynn and Rex Tillerson.

That, looking at foreign policy as you know, as you know, out of business, out of a deal, it`s not about deals. It`s about protecting the free world, and we have now existential threat coming from Putin.

And unless America, you know, reassures its leadership, I think we are entering, you know, uncharted waters and very dangerous territory.

O`DONNELL: Garry Kasparov, thank you very much for joining us tonight, I appreciate it.

Coming up, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will join us to discuss what powers state Attorneys General have to do battle with the Trump administration.

Attorney General of New York will join us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: According to the "New York Times" today, state Attorneys General are planning to fight back against Donald Trump by using one of Donald Trump`s favorite tactics.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I guess we`ll sue them, let`s sue them, right?

(CHEERS)

Let`s sue them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Attorney general Maura Healey of Massachusetts recently wrote, "I won`t hesitate to take Donald Trump to court if he carries out his unconstitutional campaign promises. . Xavier Becerra of California, the new attorney general there challenged Donald Trump to quote, "come at us" on a recent conference call with reporters. And New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman tweeted to say, "I`m ready to stand up and fight Donald Trump, his dangerous appointees and their radical agenda.

Attorney General Schneiderman has experience in lawsuits against Donald Trump. He filed a law suit against Trump University in 2013 and faced this attack.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Let me just tell you something. We`re dealing with an attorney general who everyone in New York knows is a total lightweight, he`s very unpopular --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to testify?

TRUMP: We`re going to settle this case very easily, he (INAUDIBLE) I would settle it because he said I wouldn`t take the bad publicity. I get plenty of bad publicity. I`m used to it. And frankly, I, you know, I didn`t want to settle the lawsuit.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: And Attorney General Schneiderman in fact forced Donald Trump to settle that lawsuit, settle it for $25 million. Joining us now for an exclusive interview, Eric Schneiderman, New York State Attorney General, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

ERIC SCHNEIDERMAN, NEW YORK STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL: Good to be here Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Tell me what you think is in the arsenal of state attorneys general in terms of dealing with this administration, and what are the arenas you see so far in the Trump policy arena that would come into conflict with some state attorneys general?

SCHNEIDERMAN: Well the states under the federalist system are the essential units of government. States retain all powers not specifically given to the federal government under the constitution. And the founders in their wisdom did create this two-tiered system of protection. So we have state civil rights laws, and if they come after any vulnerable minority group, Muslims, Jews, immigrants, we have the ability to protect them.

If -- we have state environmental laws and if they`re not going to protect the environment we have laws that can do this. We also have the ability to sue the EPA. In fact this is not just a matter of one administration or another my office filed a notice of intent to sue under a democratic president because the EPA wasn`t issuing greenhouse gas regulations fast enough. So, the states have tremendous power, and that`s by constitutional design.

The founders thought a lot about the problem of a president becoming to much like a monarch because they were worried about King George. And they left a lot of power in the hands of the states. We`re prepared to use that to protect the rights of our people should those rights be threatened by any part of a new administration.

O`DONNELL: And the Obama administration, it was the Texas state attorney general that sued the Obama administration`s administrative changes in immigration that the federal courts there ruled in favor of the state attorney general. So, there`s a rich history of this kind of litigation going on in both directions. When you mention the EPA, you know we`re headed for a leader of the EPA who is basically opposed to everything the EPA does.

That seems like it`s going to leave an even more ripe target for the state attorneys general.

SCHNEIDERMAN: Sure and look the EPA is not something they can just do whatever it wants. I mean the U.S. Supreme Court directed the EPA that it should issue regulations on greenhouse gases. This is not something that operates free of a constitutional system of the laws. The Oklahoma A.G. who has been nominated to be the head of the EPA is a climate change denier.

He doesn`t respect the agency, there`s no respect to science. And we stand prepared to defend the environment and to force that agency to fulfill its duties. I have my own obligations to defend the constitution of the United States and the state of New York and to defend the people of state of New York. That includes defending us against the devastating consequences of climate change.

And we have legal tools to enforce that. We don`t want to prejudge and get into fights before they start, but we`re prepared to defend our people with every constitutional tool in the toolbox.

SCHNEIDERMAN: Going back to the Trump university case for a moment. There was Donald Trump constantly saying, you know, and he was lying whenever he said it that I never settle, I never settle. Because as we know he has settled many, many, many times and there he was fighting this right up until -- It looked publicly as if he was fighting it right up to the last minute on the verge of when he was going to go testify under oath, all of which would have become public.

And then suddenly there is this settlement for $25 million. Was that a last-minute settlement? Or did you see that coming? I have not been able to settle a case on terms that favorable for a very long time. I mean, we got restitution for the students. We got a million dollar fine for the state of New York, so that was a pretty rapid turn around from a couple weeks before when he said it`s an easy case to win.

I never would settle it. So it`s, I`ve been in litigation with this guy for a while. I know him. He is unpredictable. Just because he says he`s going to do something doesn`t mean he is. But those of us who do care about -- civil rights, about protecting the environment, about the rights of workers and protections of our labor laws, we have state laws and we have the ability to sue federal agencies to make sure our people are protected. And it`s our duty, it`s something we have to do.

O`DONNELL: And quickly before you go, you`ve also been investigating the Trump foundation, what`s the status of that?

SCHNEIDERMAN: Again it`s an ongoing investigation. We`re not commenting, they`re attorneys have actually been handling it professionally and turning over documents it`s just we did order that they had to stop raising money in New York because they weren`t registered properly to do that. But we are proceeding with an ongoing investigation.

O`DONNELL: Eric Schneiderman, New York State Attorney General. Thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

SCHNEIDERMAN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Donald Trump almost, he came close, almost told his supporters tonight that his ideas are going to cost a lot of money and that his supporters are going to have to pay for those ideas through taxation, but instead, he pretended the federal government already has enough money to build the wall and do all of the infrastructure projects, because we are a rich country, and he wants to reduce taxes on the rich to keep the rich country. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Here`s Donald Trump in Hershey, Pennsylvania tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We have to be a rich nation if we`re going to rebuild our military. If we`re going to build the wall, we have to be a rich nation. If we`re going to, if we`re going to repeal and replace Obamacare, we have to know what we`re doing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: What he seems to be saying is that the United States Treasury has to be rich. It has to collect a lot of money. It needs a lot of money, because all of his promises are going to take a lot of money, a lot of tax money. That`s what you would say before announcing a tax increase to pay for what you want to do or to try to explain why this is no time to do a massive tax cut for rich people, because we need the tax money from these rich people of this rich country to pay for all that stuff that this rich country should have. But this was Donald Trump talking, so of course what he`s saying has absolutely no rational meaning.

Joining us now, Eugene Robertson, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the Washington Post and an MSNBC political analyst, also with us, Krystal Ball, democratic strategist, a senior fellow at New Leaders Council, thank you both for joining us tonight. Eugene, he was warming up there to what sounded like, that`s why I`m abandoning the tax cut, because we need the money of all those rich people to make this country feel like a rich country.

EUGENE ROBERTSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, there you go again, Lawrence, being all linear and logical and that kind of stuff.

O`DONNELL: Sorry.

ROBERTSON: It`s no longer, you know, we`re way beyond that at this point. And, because, you know, it`s random phrases and random sentences that certainly do not add up. And none of, you know, this is a man who, from all we know, runs his, his business empire basically with smoke and mirrors. He`s got that money moving so fast from here and there, and he`s depending on the cash flow.

And it`s just -- everything has to be in motion. I don`t know if he thinks that`s the way he`s going to run the federal government or if he just doesn`t have a clue of how he`s going to run the federal government, but that certainly, what he was saying tonight, certainly doesn`t add up to policy of any sort.

O`DONNELL: The, let`s listen to something else he said that he wants to -- how much money he wants to spend on this infrastructure.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Another critical element of our jobs plan is a historic $1 trillion investment in our crumbling infrastructure. Our infrastructure is going to hell. We`re going to fix our infrastructure. Our bridges are deficient. Our roads are in disrepair, and our airports are like third world countries. I am asking congress to support the construction of new roads, bridges, airports, tunnels and railways, all across our nation.

We`re going to do it. And we`re going to build it on time, on budget.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: A trillion dollars spending, and of course a giant tax cut, so here`s a Fox news poll indicating the way Americans listen to Donald Trump. Do you believe Donald Trump will build a wall along the U.S./Mexican border? 34 percent say yes. 59 percent say no. So Krystal Ball,

KRYSTAL BALL, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes.

O`DONNELL: Americans don`t -- are not listening to this guy, thinking he means what he`s saying. But I guess the question then becomes, what do they think he actually does mean, if he doesn`t mean what he`s saying.

BALL: That`s a great question. I think you`re absolutely right, though, I mean if we`re thinking that when he doesn`t live up to all of his promises people are just going to abandon him in droves, I think we`re living in a fantasy world, because frankly, people have known that he`s full of it from the beginning. I mean, first of all, a majority of Americans didn`t even vote for him.

Second of all, you had two historically, unpopular candidates. So it`s not that Donald Trump was so great and everyone was so in love with him that they just lined up in droves. It`s that they thought that maybe he would bring some change, and so they were willing to take a risk, and things weren`t going well for them, and so that`s what they did. Then you throw in Russia and Comey and all the rest and you end up with the result that you have. But look, it`s easy how he`s going to pay for it Lawrence. I think it`s obvious.

He`s just going to ask his friend Vladmir Putin, isn`t that what he`s going to do?

O`DONNELL: That`s where the money is. And so here`s another Fox News poll question of registered voters. Do you believe Donald Trump will deport millions of illegal immigrants? Only 39 percent say yes. By the way, only 40 percent of Republicans say yes. 51 percent of Republicans say no. 52 percent overall say no. And so, Gene, Republicans don`t even believe the mass deportation.

ROBERTSON: Yes. It`s because it`s not going to happen. I mean, you know, he probably won`t try it. He back-pedaled during the campaign, and it was, it touched a nerve when he said that, and it clearly was the issue that drew a lot of people to him, but I guess people just didn`t take him seriously. About the trillion dollar infrastructure program, at one point during the campaign he said something that actually did make sense.

He said, you know, interest rates are at historic lows. This is a great time for us to borrow money and improve our infrastructure from coast-to- coast. Now that`s not republican policy. But it did kind of make sense. it would be interesting if he went to the Republican Congress and said, look, this is -- this is what, you know, maybe (INAUDIBLE) but it makes sense, But I kind of doubt he`s going to do that. And I doubt they would be very receptive to it.

O`DONELL: Well but Krystal, not one Republican has said to Donald Trump, how are you going to pay for this? I don`t hear any republican saying how are you going to pay for it.

BALL: They don`t care.

O`DONELL: So it sounds like they don`t care.

BALL: I don`t think they care.

O`DONELL: Yes.

BALL: No, I don`t think they care. Republicans only care about deficits when Democrats are in charge.

O`DONELL: right. right.

BALL: they blow up the budget when they run the show on the things that they want to spend money on, and then suddenly, when Democrats are in charge, and we just faced a financial crash for example, suddenly, we`ve got to tighten the purse strings then, at the least opportune time. And they use that as an excuse to cut programs they don`t like, to cut the social safety net, cut and privatize Social Security and Medicare. Republicans don`t actually care about the debt and the deficit. It`s all a rues to get their way. And if Trump`s wants to do a trillion dollar infrastructure plan I have no doubt that they will give him the money to do it.

O`DONELL: Krystal Ball, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Gene, we`re going to need you on a later segment.

BALL: Thanks Lawrence.

O`DONELL: Please stick around. Thanks. Coming up Donald Trump`s original political sin for which he should never be forgiven.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONELL: Never forget that Donald Trump began his political career with a life that he finally admitted was lie but never apologized for. And he should never be forgiven for. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONELL: Donald Trump began his political career lying about President Obama`s birth. When he stopped lying about it in September of last year and admitted that President Obama was born in the United States. He never answered the question of why he changed his mind. The last person to ask him that question was Lester Holt in the first Presidential Debate on September 26th.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LESTER HOLT, NEWS ANCHOR: I`m sorry we should of apologize. But I`ll let you respond to that. because there`s a lot there. But we`re talking about racial healing in this segment. What do you say to Americans?

TRUMP: Well, it was very -- I say nothing. I say nothing, because I was able to get him to produce it. He should have produced it a long time before. I say nothing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONELL: Lester Holt asked Donald Trump three times why he changed his mind about President Obama`s birth certificate and Donald Trump said nothing. And now the news media did exactly what Donald Trump expected them to do. News Media has just stopped asking the question. And so the original sin of Donald Trump`s political career is one for which has done no penance. And for which no one should forgive him because he has said nothing to earn that forgiveness.

Today his favorite Sheriff who was recently defeated in his reelection campaign Sheriff Joe Arpaio had his own news conference to prove Donald Trump was right and President Obama was not born in Hawaii. One of the sheriff`s volunteer investigators said this about the President`s birth certificate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE ZULLO, BIRTHER INVESTIGATORS: I`ve got two different forensic examiners concurring that it`s fake. It`s a fabrication. This charge is Federal penalties.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONELL: And Sheriff`s Arpaio said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE ARPAIO, MARICOPA COUNTY SHERIFF`S OFFICE: So I plan on turning over this investigation this month to the Federal Government and Congress and hope that Congress number one will pass a law that President should be vent maybe so Members of Congress will have wholesome hearings open to the public regarding this matter. If you`re going hold hearings under flatted footballs why can`t you hold one on this. I can`t believe it. I hope we enlighten you with what the real story and evidence is all about regarding this fake, fake birth certificate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONELL: Back with us Eugene Robinson. Gene, I don`t want to belabor the evidence that they presented. But essentially the evidence was this is a fake birth certificate because it looks so much like a Hawaiian birth certificate. I mean that`s actually what it came down to.

ROBINSON: Yes. Yes.

O`DONELL: But this is the Trump original political sin extended out now, kept alive -- the flame being kept alive by Joe Arpaio.

ROBINSON: Yes, right. Number let`s establish. This is all about racism.

O`DONELL: Yes, yes.

ROBINSON: This is all about, you know, making them and establishing President Obama as an alien, as some other -- someone whose not like us, as, you know, it`s purely racist. Numbers two Joe Arpaio is a nasty piece of work who lost his bid for reelection. And he can now kind of slink off into the obscurity he deserves. But that leaves us with President Trump who as you said has never done penance for this and never will.

I do not believe he ever will. And so those of us who believe he should, who believe he must, you know, that will always be with us in what we think and feel about President Trump. And their President-Elect Trump and other who don`t care won`t care. But I think we are where were going to be on this issue with him. And you know it`s hard for me to get passed it. And I think that`s true of a lot of people.

O`DONELL: Well his strategy was clearly to exhaust people and then specifically on the debate for example just run out the clock with Lester Holt. He was standing there betting, how many times can Lester ask me this. It turned out three which is a lot in the Presidential Debate. I think Lester clearly made the point, the guy will not answer, cannot answer. And then kept going on to other items. But, but that was his strategy, people will give up.

ROBINSON: Yes. And people do give up. I mean you can imagine an interview in which somebody really sticks with it and goes with it 10, 15, 20 times but I, you know, I think he`s, I don`t think he`s going to answer question. I don`t think he`s going to answer the question, and we will have to deal with that, and he`ll have to deal with it.

O`DONELL: And Sheriff Arpaio will keep the question alive -- or at least for one day. Eugene Robinson, thank you very much for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.

ROBINSON: Great to be here Lawrence.

END