Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: December 21, 2016 Guest: David Cay Johnston, Charlie Sykes, Julian Epstein, Mark Thompson, Dana Milbank, Catherine Rampell, Mark Thompson, Stuart Milk
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: That does it for us tonight, I want to say thank you to the Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson for being here for that sort of exit interview tonight.
That was great, I will also see you again tomorrow night when we have another very special guest, Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway will be here live tomorrow.
Seriously, that`s tomorrow. But now, it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good evening, Lawrence.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Rachel, do you have your answers ready for the Kellyanne Conway interview?
MADDOW: The answers?
O`DONNELL: Because you know how it works. You ask her a question, and then she turns that into a question to you and doesn`t answer the question.
So, the questioner has to have a lot of answers ready for her.
MADDOW: I should reverse prep, you`re exactly right. I will undo everything I have done already, you`re right.
O`DONNELL: We will see how it goes, thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Donald Trump has been lying about his businesses and his wealth and his money longer than he`s been lying about anything else.
He has spent his entire career lying about that. And now he may spend his entire presidency lying about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Trump team is now considering a half blind trust for Donald Trump`s businesses. A half blind trust.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no such thing as a half blind trust.
ARI MELBER, MSNBC: Just like there is no such thing as halfway crooks, and no such thing as halfway pregnant.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Trump transition team now distancing itself from a Texas fundraiser.
JIMMY FALLON, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST: For $2 million, you`ll personally get to click send on the tweet that starts World War III.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow.
FALLON: You get -- you get to do it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s a good deal.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They`ve got to kind of get this under control.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump came in to drain the swamp, as he talks about.
NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER, UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: I`m told he now disclaims that. He now says it was cute, but he doesn`t want to use it anymore.
ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR: I am going to build that swamp.
CONAN O`BRIEN, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST: Despite winning the presidency, some Republicans are still complaining. Have you noticed that?
BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS: Left wants power, take it away from the white establishment.
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST: You throw out California, New York, Trump wins by 3 million votes.
O`BRIEN: Yes, and Hillary Clinton would have won the electoral vote if we didn`t count Russia. So --
It works either way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: I don`t care about it anymore. That is the lie Donald Trump told "60 Minutes" in his first interview after the election.
"I don`t care about it anymore." The "it" he was talking about is his business. The thing Donald Trump cares about more than anything in the world.
He`s publicly admitted that he has cared about his businesses more than his children.
That`s the kind of guy he is. He is not only the kind of guy who has cared about his business more than his children, he is the kind of guy who is willing to say that publicly.
He is so unbalanced, he doesn`t realize what he is saying about himself when he says something like that.
Since everything he says about himself is intended to be a compliment to himself.
He never realizes when he is revealing just how bad he can be. Here he is telling that lie to "60 Minutes," which included a lie about his kids.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you going to do about your business? Are your kids going to run it? Are you going to divest yourself with it?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: Here`s this, I built a great company.
I have some of the great assets in the world, real estate assets. I don`t care about it anymore.
This is so important what I`m doing. And, you know, the people believe this.
This is so important what I`m doing, I don`t care about I own a building in Manhattan and I have nice tenants.
My kids will run it. They`ll run it well, and run --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And never talk to you about it?
TRUMP: They won`t talk to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: "They won`t talk to me". There is no one in America, including Trump supporters who don`t realize that he was lying all the way through that response.
But that`s our new normal. The next president lies. Lies constantly. Lies in ways that are instantly provable as lies and lies about anything.
From his businesses to foreign policy to how "Vanity Fair" is a failing magazine.
There is nothing, nothing too unimportant for Donald Trump to lie about. And the news media still has no idea how to handle the avalanche of lies that come from Donald Trump and his handlers.
The news media desperately wants to normalize the outcome of an American presidential election.
It is instinctual for the news media to do that. And in the ongoing media normalization of Donald Trump and his staff, the political news media is unwittingly creating a new normal, something we`ve never seen before.
And so, the debate over how Donald Trump should handle his businesses continues.
When there is only one honorable way to do it. The Office of Government Ethics has made it clear that the only honorable way for Donald Trump to eliminate conflict of interest as president is to sell his businesses, to divest, to wash his hands of all of it.
Donald Trump and his family have made it clear they will never do that. Never. And now comes a report in "Politico" indicating that Donald Trump is exploring a way to handle his business that will be like so much Donald Trump says and does.
An insult to the intelligence of the country. And a very sharp and direct insult to the intelligence of the American news media.
According to "Politico", aides responsible for setting up ethics firewalls have held discussions with officials at the Office of Government Ethics about establishing what`s known as a discretionary trust.
According to two sources briefed on the talks, such an arrangement would allow Trump or his family members to reap some of the legal benefits of a blind trust.
But could also give them some insight into how the Trump businesses are faring while also allowing Trump and his family to continue to make money from those investments.
Joining us now, Charlie Sykes; editor-in-chief of "Right Wisconsin", an Msnbc contributor.
He`s currently writing the book, "How the Right Lost its Mind". Julian Epstein is with us, he was the Democratic counsel to the House Judiciary Committee.
Also with us, David Cay Johnston; Pulitzer prize-winning journalist who today founded d.c.report.org; a nonprofit news organization that will cover the Trump administration.
David, you`ve been covering Donald Trump longer than any of us, having written the book on him.
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, AUTHOR & INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Yes --
O`DONNELL: And on the -- and also, as a financial and tax expert, your reaction to what we are learning from "Politico" about the possible -- one possible way that Trump is considering going on this.
JOHNSTON: Donald Trump is going to be Donald Trump. He is not going to change.
CHARLIE SYKES, RADIO HOST: Right.
JOHNSTON: Donald is about money and the glorification of Donald. And the country be damned.
Donald Trump, the campaign showed no respect for the constitution. Let`s remember this is a man who wasn`t willing to say of course he would concede if he didn`t win.
This is a man who talks about the presidency like it`s Vladimir Putin`s job, that he is effectively a dictator and won`t even take his national security briefings every day.
And to think that Donald Trump somehow would separate himself from that which he values so much that when they were teenagers, his children wouldn`t speak to him, nothing is going to change here.
And you know, if you`d made this as a novel, nobody would buy it. They wouldn`t believe this could happen in America.
O`DONNELL: Charlie Sykes, the Trump campaign has repeatedly reversed itself since it became the Trump transition.
And here we see something that Donald Trump never quite worked out, which was how is he going to deal with his businesses.
He promised that press conference on this that would have happened last week if it had happened on --
SYKES: Yes --
O`DONNELL: Schedule. Then they just canceled it, we`re not going to have the press conference about how he is going to deal with his businesses.
And now we will live with I suppose, leak by leak as we move towards the administration about how he`s going to handle his businesses.
SYKES: Yes, I mean, this is descended to farce, but it`s actually almost an insult to farce.
But we don`t -- there`s two things about it. I mean, number one, it is stunning, and this is not normal.
But it`s also utterly predictable because you knew that at some point Donald Trump was going to figure out that he could get away with this.
The law is not going to stop him, his base is not going to stop him. The Republican Party won`t stand up against him.
And I think he`s concluded that the media is powerless to take him down. So, I think he is looking around and asking the question of why do dogs lick themselves?
Because they can. Why is Donald Trump going to go through this farce of the half blind trust? Because he can.
And I think, it again, it is completely predictable. The guy that ran for office saying elect me, I am a crony capitalist.
And for whatever reason, people didn`t connect the dots to realize that might not be a good idea.
O`DONNELL: We have a new Pew poll from this month saying that 65 percent are concerned about this.
It shows that concern over Donald Trump`s business ties with foreign governments in particular was the question.
A very concerned 45 percent, somewhat concerned, 20 percent. Not too concerned, 14. And those faithful Trump supporters, not at all concerned, 20 percent. Julian Epstein --
SYKES: Right --
O`DONNELL: What are the relevant laws governing the president`s conduct in this area?
JULIAN EPSTEIN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, there is many relevant laws. The most important was -- and is the volume it`s caused.
There`s bribery statutes, there`s nepotism laws. And I think where I disagree with Charlie is, I think the jury is out right now as to whether the Republican Party in the house and the Senate will show some level of being principled and hold Donald Trump accountable at some point.
The reason why a blind trust or even a discretionary blind trust is a joke in the case of Donald Trump is because everybody knows what Trump`s businesses are and where they are.
And if you simply want to curry favor with the president, all you have to do is pay the piper and do business with one of his companies. So, nobody even thinks a full blind trust would solve the problem short of divestiture.
The biggest problem for Donald Trump, however, is that, the moment he is sworn into office -- to get to your question, Lawrence.
The moment he is sworn into office, he will probably be the first president in the United States in our history that is committing an impeachable offense.
What do I mean by that? The emoluments clause is essentially a bribery. It`s part of the constitution.
It`s essentially a bribery statute on steroids. And it says you cannot take any benefit whatsoever from any foreign government, period, end of conversation.
Right now the Chinese government is paying Donald Trump very handsome lease fees for his building in Manhattan.
The Chinese government through the Bank of China is also a big financial backer of Donald Trump`s by providing him tons of credit.
These things on the very face of it, if you look at the history and the purpose of the emoluments clause, arguably violate that provision and arguably give rise to an impeachment charge against him.
Any time a foreign government goes to a Trump hotel, that`s a benefit a foreign official goes to the Trump hotel.
That`s a benefit that government is providing to Donald Trump. Any time a prosecutor, any time a regulator does anything in any of the business interests.
Donald Trump has 111 business interest across 18 countries abroad. Any time a regulator does anything, you heard it, you know, when he broke the one China policy. Right behind that was a story that Trump is trying to get a hotel in Taiwan.
When he met with the president of Japan, his daughter, who is trying to get an apparel deal, guess who, with the government of Japan.
And these lists go on and on. You`ve had examples in Turkey, examples in India, examples in the U.K., examples in Argentina, examples in Georgia.
So, this is a very precarious situation. And the fact that the Trump administration -- the Trump crowd is not taking this more seriously, they`re walking into a potential constitutional nightmare for themselves.
And if the Republicans ever hold these guys accountable, they`ve got -- they want to part from the Trump administration, they`ve got plenty of grounds legally and constitutionally.
O`DONNELL: And David, that`s the key point that Julian ended on there. If the Republicans in Congress decide to take this seriously.
Right now --
SYKES: Yes --
O`DONNELL: Republicans control the impeachment process, in effect, in the House of Representatives. And so with them in control of that, Donald Trump at this point seems to have a free rein.
JOHNSTON: Well, hubris will get you every time. And Donald --
SYKES: Yes --
JOHNSTON: I don`t think has thought through carefully that he has put himself in a vulnerable position here.
In addition to Julian`s points about the emolument`s clause, we`ve also seen the -- yet, indications that this can be used to extract money.
The Kuwaiti government has moved its annual party from the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington D.C. to Donald Trump`s --
SYKES: Right --
JOHNSTON: Hotel. Apparently when they were pressured to do so. And who knows? Is this going to be paying them off or is it going to be extracting money from people through the children?
There is no solution to this except complete disgorgement, and Donald is never going to do that. Just --
SYKES: I think you`re right --
JOHNSTON: Like he`s never going to show us Melania`s work papers or his tax returns.
O`DONNELL: And Charlie, it seems Republicans will either just ignore this or laugh it off as, oh, come on, you know, it`s just -- there are a lot of hotels in Washington, and they ended up at his hotel.
SYKES: Well, you know, we`re actually in such uncharted territory based on the level of corruption that we`ve just discussed over the last five minutes is absolutely unprecedented for the presidency.
I mean, the reality that we`re about to see a kleptocracy on a presidential level is something that again nobody has gotten their heads around, or certainly not constitutionally.
And I see no indication at least in the near term that Republicans are going to risk something like this by going after him.
I just -- I just -- I don`t see that happening, unless, of course, the scandal becomes, you know, so radioactive and somehow gets the Trump base to turn against them.
I`m trying to imagine what that would be. You know, perhaps, you know, the sense that he had sold out the country for the Chinese or something like that.
But Donald Trump actually believes the norms do not apply to him. And hubris is exactly the right word. He does not think those rules will constrain him.
O`DONNELL: Julian, quickly, before we go, does the Democratic minority on the House Judiciary Committee have any parliamentary maneuver it can come up with that could somehow provoke or spark an impeachment proceeding?
EPSTEIN: Well, they certainly do on the Government Oversight Committee. On the judiciary committee, they can certainly start to call witnesses and force this issue.
And it seems to me there are very few places legally for the Trump administration to go.
O`DONNELL: Yes --
EPSTEIN: And I think at some point we`ve seen Lindsey Graham, we`ve seen John McCain, we`ve seen Republicans start to part company with Donald Trump.
If the heat gets turned up, Democrats and the judiciary committee will have plenty of opportunity to make this front and center, page A-1 in the newspapers.
And so, I think this may not change in the first three months, but in the first year, two years, who knows?
O`DONNELL: Julian Epstein, David Cay Johnston, thank you very much for joining us tonight, I appreciate it --
EPSTEIN: Thanks, Lawrence --
O`DONNELL: Charlie, we`re going to need you for another segment, stick around, thank you very much.
Coming up, new reports that Republicans -- big surprise, are running scared from right-wing media like "Breitbart".
It makes them afraid of coming up -- of criticizing Donald Trump in any way because of the way they will be attacked by that media. And later, people who voted for Donald Trump who also rely on Obamacare.
O`DONNELL: Following the model of North Carolina, Ted Cruz is now promising to introduce a bill to allow discrimination against gay and lesbian people nationwide. And Donald Trump has vowed to sign that bill. That`s coming up.
O`DONNELL: Republicans in Congress are afraid to criticize Donald Trump. According to a new report in "Politico" because they fear retaliation from Trump supporters.
Congressman Mark Sanford said "nobody wants to go first, people are naturally reticent to be the first out of the bloc for fear of Sean Hannity.
For fear of "Breitbart", for fear of local folks. One Republican aide called it a "chilling effect". Trump`s supporters have already attacked Republican Congressman Bill Flores for saying this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. BILL FLORES (R), TEXAS: Some of President Trump`s proposed policies are not going to line up very well with our conservative policies.
Let`s do the things where we agree. Let`s do tax reform. Let`s repeal Obamacare. Let`s replace Obamacare. We could easily take six months to do those things where we agree.
And that gives us the next six months to try to figure out where is the commonality between what he wants to do with respect to infrastructure and what we think the way would be to go with respect to infrastructure, just as one example.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: "Breitbart" called that Republican leadership`s strategy to isolate and block President Donald Trump`s populist campaign promises.
Joining us now, Mark Thompson; the host of "Make it Plain" on Sirius Xm" radio. Back with us, Charlie Sykes.
Charlie, this fear of Sean Hannity --
SYKES: Yes --
O`DONNELL: This fear of this media crack-down on Republicans. Hasn`t there been a version of that, that`s always been present?
The fear of Rush Limbaugh, we saw instances where --
SYKES: Yes --
O`DONNELL: Republican house members or senators might say something in the morning that Rush Limbaugh then criticized in the afternoon.
And by the end of the day --
SYKES: Yes --
O`DONNELL: The office holder had moved that back into something Rush Limbaugh agrees with?
SYKES: Yes, but now -- but now they`ve been empowered and they`ve been enabled. In a sense, they`ve been weaponized.
I mean, you know, Russia always used to talk about the state-controlled media. Well, now, we actually have a version of all of that.
I don`t think you can overstate the -- just that culture of retribution and intimidation. And the way it played out during the campaign, you know, why did so many Republicans roll over?
Why did they cave in? Why did so many local talk show hosts do that? Because they do have this ability to, you know, focus this anger, this rage, you know, loose the trolls on them.
And unfortunately, you know, this is something that I`m watching for is, will you have principled Republicans stand up and challenge, you know, this president?
And I`m glad you ran that soundbite. Because that was pretty modest stuff. And yet, they basically sent a shot across the bow saying, don`t you dare even question the maximum leader, otherwise, this is what we`re going to do to you.
O`DONNELL: Well, you know, I have to say the first time I listened to that, I didn`t hear any disagreement with Donald Trump in what Congressman --
SYKES: No --
O`DONNELL: Flores was saying. He was saying, look, we --
SYKES: Right --
O`DONNELL: Agree on this, this, and this. And we might approach infrastructure in a different way. But Mark --
SYKES: Yes --
O`DONNELL: Thompson, his suggestion was, let`s get together so that we approach infrastructure the same way, we find an agreement on.
MARK THOMPSON, RADIO HOST: Well, thanks for having me again, Lawrence, good to see you, Charlie. Which means, as you said, he wasn`t so much maximum -- opposed to the maximum leader.
So, imagine -- in essence, you just said it was subtle. He said --
O`DONNELL: Yes --
THOMPSON: Let`s try to work together --
SYKES: Yes, very --
THOMPSON: And they still lit him up. So, imagine anyone with any objective critique of Donald Trump.
This is nothing like Rush Limbaugh.
THOMPSON: We remember Rush Limbaugh`s power, and you would say something in the -- as you said in the morning, and then afternoon have to kiss the ring.
But it wasn`t quite like this. This is far more intimidating. This man bested a field of 17, playing it dozens.
His Twitter feed and breitbart.com have become their own media and we -- medium. We talked about it one time, Lawrence, about him and how he formed his own network.
We could have -- he needed to if he became the president, and he`s going to be the president.
But he still has a air quote network in the sense that Twitter, his Twitter feed @realdonaldtrump and breitbart.com kind of mesh together to intimidate people even within his own party.
And these are the same --
O`DONNELL: Right --
THOMPSON: People who would --
O`DONNELL: Yes --
THOMPSON: Criticize the likes of Putin for the things he does that are repressive. Criticized even the likes of Fidel Castro for the things he does that are repressive.
And here they are practicing the early pangs of repression against their very own in the Republican Party.
O`DONNELL: And Charlie, the attacks --
SYKES: Yes --
O`DONNELL: On Congressman Flores were really vicious. Really intense --
SYKES: Yes --
O`DONNELL: Apparently, a level that shocked him that he hadn`t experienced before.
SYKES: Well, it is -- it is shocking, and it was kind of a demonstration project.
But remember what the dynamics of American politics are right now, particularly because of redistricting.
Most of those Republican members of the house are not afraid of Democrats, they`re afraid of being primaried.
And that of course is the threat. Low turnout, high intensity voters that can be targeted by -- I don`t know, a political action committee run by Corey Lewandowski, you know, by the Twitter trolls.
By "Breitbart", by "Sean Hannity", by Laura Ingraham", all of those. So, part of this dynamic is a lot of these guys are in safe Republican seats, so they have to look over their shoulder to see whether or not the Trumpkins(ph) are going to come after them.
O`DONNELL: And Mark, the Democrats are faced with an interesting dilemma here. Do they work with Donald Trump on things they agree with him on, or do they leave the entire burden to the Republican side to try to find the agreements if they can with members like Flores and others who don`t currently agree with Trump on the entire agenda?
THOMPSON: You know, I thought at one time, Lawrence, that Democrats needed to continue to be polite and show as much decorum.
Joining our own Joy Reid(ph) has changed my mind about that. They need to do precisely what the Republicans did to President Obama.
That is how you mobilize people. And I don`t think that it hurts at this point because I don`t know anything that they can agree with Donald Trump on.
And as you pointed out throughout this whole campaign season, what`s the point of negotiating with him to reach an agreement, Lawrence, when he can change his mind a few hours later?
There is no good faith in that. So, I think Democrats need to stand and resist Donald Trump as much as they can.
O`DONNELL: You know, we got a quick break in here. Charlie Sykes, thank you very much for joining us tonight, appreciate it.
SYKES: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Mark, we`re going need you, so stick around. Coming up --
THOMPSON: Yes sir --
O`DONNELL: Many Trump voters did not take him literally on repealing Obamacare.
I thought that was one thing they could definitely take him literally on. But they didn`t because they are on Obamacare and they voted for Donald Trump. That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Obamacare is destabilizing our health care system, surging premiums, and forcing providers out of the market. If we don`t act, the damage will be irreversible. We`re going to act. We will repeal and replace Obamacare. We have no choice. We have no choice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Today the Whitehouse said 6.4 million people signed up for Obamacare as of Monday. Republicans have said one of the first things they plan to do after Donald Trump takes office next month is to make good on that promise to repeal Obamacare. But some Donald Trump voters who rely on Obamacare did not really take that promise seriously. Washington Post Columnist Dana Milbank wrote about them through the post today saying Trump owner Debbie Mills, a store owner whose husband awaits a life-saving liver transplant got insurance through Obamacare. And mills is hoping the law won`t be repealed. Mills, who supported Trump for other reasons, figured Obamacare was just talk.
Joining us now, Dana Milbank, Washington Post Political Columnist, also with us Catherine Rampell, Washington Post Political Opinion Columnist. Dana, this is absolutely fascinating. I guess there are some things Trump said where you - I mean you might not take seriously, banning Muslims because the constitution doesn`t allow you to ban Muslims from entering the country or you might not take seriously building the wall, having Mexico pay for the wall. But Obamacare, he couldn`t have been more clear about getting rid of Obamacare. And these people on Obamacare voted for him.
DANA MILBANK, COLUMIST, WASHINGTON POST: Yeah, you know, Lawrence it`s said often said Trump supporters took him seriously but not literally. And it seems to be all over the place. They didn`t really care what he was saying. They just wanted to see in him that he would change things in a way that they would like. And the column I wrote today was building on what Sarah Cliffe at Fox did and actually went down and talked to these folks in Kentucky. And, you know, if you look overall, there is going to be assuming Obamacare is repealed, maybe 30 million people or so lose their health insurance. But something like 80 percent of those are from the Donald Trump demographics, sort of the non college educated working class white families. So they will be surprised. And they`re going to find that this is not exactly what they had in mind when they were imaging Donald Trump to be something other than what he is.
O`DONNELL: Catherine, a Kaiser health poll on the affordable care act, polling trump voters, only 50 percent of Trump voters want Obamacare repealed. Another 29 percent say just scale it back. And then the most interesting group 10 percent saying expand the law. 5 percent saying keep the law as is. So there is 15 percent of donald Trump voters who are in favor of Obamacare.
CATHERINE RAMPELL, COLUNIST, WASHINGTON POST: Yes. And I`m actually more skeptical than many that the Republican Party led by Donald Trump will actually repeal it, particularly in full. In part -- well, for two reasons, essentially. One is that while the name Obamacare is not particularly popular, the things that Obamacare does happened to be quite popular. Almost all of the components of it are very well liked by the American public.
The second reason is that, you know, as Colin Powell would put it, you break it, you bought it. Health care is an incredibly complicated sector. It`s very easy to get a repeal and replace wrong. and I think the Republicans know that, which is part of the reason why even their repeal plan looks like it might not kick in for a couple of years. So I`m a little more optimistic actually that those Trump voters who are on Obamacare may be able to keep it for a little while, at the very least.
O`DONNELL: And Dana, I`ve talked to people in the Senate who are saying that if you are really going to repeal it this time that would take a minimum of six months just to get it through the senate. And it would involve use of reconciliation and other parliamentary maneuvers that take a while to ripen. And so this notion of it`s all going to happen on the first day. And then there is that added complexity that has been introduced of maybe they vote to repeal it. And the repeal doesn`t take effect until after the next Congressional Election. So no one has to pay a political price for that vote.
MILBANK: Right because it used to be called repeal and replace. Now it`s repeal and delay. And Catherine`s right. it could be -- they`re talking about up to three years until they get some answers. They`ll say let`s take this thing off the books but leave it in place until we come up with something else. The problem is what else do you come up with. And the Republicans haven`t been able the do this over the last six years. I mentioned today that a Congressman, Republican Congressman from Michigan Bill Huizenga was saying how the cost could be saved in the future. And he mentioned how well, his son broke his arm, but they didn`t take him to the emergency room to get it fixed. They waited a day, took him to the doctor. This is how we can save health care costs in the future. This will be the brave new post Obamacare world. and you can see perhaps why even some Trump supporters say hey, that`s not exactly what we sign upped for.
O`DONNELL: Catherine, this Republican House of Representatives has voted to repeal the Obamacare. The Republican Senate has voted to repeal Obamacare. What`s different now? They knew it was academic then and that it would never, you know, President Obama obviously veto it if it came to that. Now they have a Republican President. How does that make it different? Why can`t they just easily vote to repeal it again?
RAMPELL: Because, again, the health care system is incredibly complicated. And the thing that the law does are incredibly popular. Those two reasons in conjunction make it really difficult to act on the thing they`ve been claiming they wanted for so long which is why again, I think it`s unlikely they will actually repeal it. I think one possible outcome as crazy as it might seem is basically, we keep the law almost more or less as is with some slight changes and improvements, and it gets rebranded. sSo it`s no longer Obamacare. Maybe eventually it`s Trumpcare, right? And then that way Republicans get to take credit for things that are quite well liked. Trump does get to take credit as well. And the law gets improved upon.
O`DONNELL: Catherine Rampell, Dana Milbank, thank you for joining us tonight.
RAMPELL: Thank you.
MILBANK: Thank Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Rush Limbaugh wants you to know that Donald Trump actually won the popular vote. He won it if you just ignore a couple of states.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, TALK SHOW HOST: Donald Trump won the election by 3 million votes if you throw out California and new York. You throw out California and New York, Trump wins by three million votes. If you include California and New York, Hillary wins by what was it, 2.5 or 2.2 million votes. It`s a perfect illustration of why we have the Electoral College.
(END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: No. We have the Electoral College because the founding fathers didn`t want people like Rush Limbaugh to vote for president. The Founding Fathers did not think anyone except the most highly educated men, which would not include Rush Limbaugh on the highly educated end be allowed to vote for president. Direct voting by citizens was not allowed for the presidency.
That`s why the Electoral College was invented. No other reason. They didn`t trust democracy that much. That`s the reason it was elected. And no, Rush, she didn`t win by 2.5 or 2.2 million votes. She won by 2.8 million votes. Today Donald Trump tweeted campaigning to win the Electoral College is much more difficult and sophisticated than the popular vote. Hillary focused on the wrong states. I would have done even better in the election if that is possible. Oh, yeah, it was possible if the winner was based on the popular vote but would campaign differently. Last night we let you listen to Bill O`Reilly`s latest entry in the Electoral College debate. And of course for Bill O`reilly, and only for Bill O`Reilly, it`s about nothing but race.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O`REILLY, TELEVISION HOST: So if the Electoral College were abolished, presidential candidates could simply campaign in the nation`s largest states and cities. New York, L.A., Chicago, Houston. And rack up enough votes to pretty much win any election. Talking Voice believes this is all about race. The left sees white privilege in America as an oppressive force that must be done away with. Therefore white working class voters must be marginalized. And what better way to do that than to center the voting power in the cities so-called white privilege, bad, diversity, good. The left wants power taken away from the white establishment. They want a profound change in the way America is run. Taking voting power away from the white precincts is the quickest way the do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Back with us Mark Thompson. Mark, i wanted to get your reaction to O`Reilly`s take on the Electoral College.
MARK THOMPSON, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well first of all, I know we`re not in the same place exactly right now. And I thought I saw an image on the screen where Donald Trump was suggesting he did something sophisticated. Did I get that right? Did I see that correctly?
O`DONNELL: Yes, you did.
THOMPSON: Yeah, that`s ridiculous. And I think that we are at a place now, Lawrence, and again, I`ve been moved by this process. I wasn`t someone who was always ready to say abolish Electoral College. One or more information, the argument has been that without the Electoral College and only a popular vote that people would ignore the smaller states and only campaign in the big ones. And I`ve been moved from that as well. This very election makes the strongest case in history why the Electoral College is obsolete and should be abolished. And as you said, when the founding fathers put it in place, there was no intention for Americans to elect the president directly.
And we also know some of it has its roots in the slave states as well. It was in their interest to have the Electoral College in place. We`ve seen it in this instance fail. And particularly fail, it may have been able to redeem itself or rehabilitate itself if the Electoral College had done what the founding father, particularly Alexander Hamilton suggested if it had done that on Monday. You have been talk throughout this segment and covering this throughout the segment and throughout the past few weeks. I mean this is a President who potentially is -- has committed and is committing impeachable offenses before he even takes office. So what other purpose is there for the Electoral College? Americans are more sophisticated than they were in the 1700s. There`s more access to information. Americans know for whom to vote and make intelligent choices. That`s why almost 3 million people voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. That`s why she won the popular vote. Why not place good faith in the majority of Americans that did that? So I think it`s time and obviously, yes, Bill O`Reilly, and Rush Limbaugh, they do feel threatened because they`re at the end of their white supremacist rope.
O`DONNELL: Mark Thompson, thank you very much for joining us, appreciate it.
THOMPSON: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, Stewart Milk will join us on Ted Cruz`s plan to allow discrimination against gay and lesbian people, plan that Donald Trump supports.
O`DONNELL: The wonderful Joy Reid watched her update on the K.I.N.D Fund last night and tweeted this. Just bought our annual desks on behalf of each of the Reids, so proud of K.I.N.D. Joy has been using the K.I.N.D fund for Christmas shopping for years now. And you can too by going to lastworddesks.msnbc.com and contributing to kids in need of desks. K.I.N.D. You can contribute a desk that will be made by workers in Malawi and delivered to schools in Malawi that have never had desk.
Or you can designate your contribution to be used for scholarships for students to attend high school in Malawi where public high school is not free. You can give a contribution in the name of anyone on your holiday gift list and UNICEF will send them an e-mail acknowledging your gift. Barbara tweeted I bought a desk and bench for two kids in Malawi through K.I.N.D in memory of my mother, Doris Eisner, who was a dedicated teacher.
Scott tweeted just completed our Christmas shopping. Two desks for K.I.N.D. Thank you for this opportunity to give. And that`s really all I hope to do when I tell you about the K.I.N.D Fund. It`s just to give you this opportunity. Just an opportunity to reach into the lives of kids in Malawi and help them if you can. I was in Malawi last month, I met Tamandi Kaphuki who received a K.I.N.D scholarship and is now applying to nursing school.
I explained to her how the K.I.N.D fund works with contributions coming entirely from you, the viewers of this program. She then said this about how important kind has become to her and her friends.
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TAMANDI KAPUKI, K.I.N.D FUND SCHOLARSHIP RECEPIENT: It is a good work - it was - they will be - help me to have a better future, to have good hope and to improve their life because education is key to have a good life.
O`DONNELL: Tamandi Kapuki is tonight`s voice of the K.I.N.D Fund.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS: Shame, Shame, Shame.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was the scene tonight when Republicans in North Carolina reneged on a promise to repeal house bill two, the controversial North Carolina law that prevents any municipality in the state from passing an ordinance protecting LGBT people from discrimination. North Carolina Republicans passed the bill after the city of Charlotte added transgender people to their anti-discrimination laws. This week republicans and the city of Charlotte made a deal to repeal both laws.
The state law and Charlotte`s local law, the Charlotte city council repealed their ordinance. But tonight republican leaders in North Carolina legislature backed out of that deal and adjourned without repealing the law. Now Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee want to introduce a federal law that would do the same thing as the North Carolina law, do that nationwide.
Their bill would protect businesses or people who discriminate against LGBT people even if a state or city has a law that protects the rights of LGBT people against discrimination. Donald trump promised to support the Ted Cruz bill saying if I am elected president and congress passes the first amendment defense act, which is what they call it, I will sign it. Joining us now is Stuart Milk, president of the Harvey Milk Foundation and an LGBT activist.
Stuart, both reactions. First to what happened in North Carolina. The legislature failing to go through on that deal. And then the prospects of this going national through Ted Cruz and Donald Trump.
STUART MILK, PRESIDENT, HARVEY MILK FOUNDATION: Yes, it was a double whammy today, Lawrence. You know, in the holiday season, you would be inclined to say that the Grinch gave us two lumps of coals. But you know, you can`t even put that type of humor on something like this. Because what people sometimes forget, in North Carolina, we`re talking about human lives. We`re talking about people who are generally afraid.
They`re afraid to be visible. They`re afraid to be authentic because that HB2 basically took down all nondiscrimination statuses. And so this double cross today when Charlotte, the city of Charlotte held up their end of the bargain and the state legislature both the senate and the house didn`t, it`s a form of terrorism that they`re infiltrating on LGBT - our LGBT brothers and sisters and our allies and our friends and our family.
But this is a human tragedy. These are real people`s lives that are being impacted. Forget about all of the job loss that North Carolina has, that the legislature and the soon to be ex-governor has presented for its citizens. And then to have - and I won`t even call what Ted Cruz brought forth today as the first amendment defense act because (INAUDIBLE) freedom to annihilate, discriminate and attack our humanity rights act.
And I really think that we as a community, as civil society need to call it what it is. It is a green light to discriminate. It`s a green light to force people back into the closet. It`s a green light to be able to discriminate against people under the guise of religious freedom. And so we got hit twice today. And I really do think that people need to realize that this is our brothers, our sisters, our friends, our coworkers. This impacts human lives. Both of these attacks on civil society and LGBT community in particular has a human toll that we sometimes forget.
O`DONNELL: And Donald Trump has suggested that he is different from other republicans on these kinds of issues. That he is more the New Yorker than the republican on this stuff. But to say that he will sign this bill is the most extreme thing a president could have done or has done in this arena.
MILK: Well, and, you know, Lawrence, not only is it extreme, but the way Donald Trump packages it, he is going to get up and say that I`m simply protecting religious freedom. And someone is going to say no, you`re giving the right to discriminate. And he is going to say no, that`s not true. When we all know it is true.
And ultimately, this freedom to annihilate, discriminate and attack our human rights act which they call F.A.D.A is going to end up in the Supreme Court. And unfortunately, I think it`s going to end up in a supreme court that Donald Trump will choose two justices from that list that he put forward. But let`s not forget how he packages things. He gets up and basically does not tell the truth.
He is going to say that I`m supporting simply the right to -- for religious freedom and expression when the truth of the matter is and the detail is this is a right to discriminate. It`s a right to marginalize. It`s a right to put law behind discrimination. And what we really have to do as a community is rise up like we did in Indiana, like we did in Arizona, and like we continue to do in North Carolina and say as a society all across the board, all segments that we`re not going to do this. We`re not going to allow it.
O`DONNELL: Stuart Milk gets tonight`s Last Word. Thank you, Stuart.
MILK: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: MSNBC`s live coverage continues into "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams. That`s next.