The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 12/28/2016

Guests: Howard Dean, Jonathan Gruber, Phyllis Bennis, Howard Dean, Jonathan Gruber; James Lipton; Jared Huffman

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: December 28, 2016 Guest: Howard Dean, Jonathan Gruber, Phyllis Bennis, Howard Dean, Jonathan Gruber; James Lipton; Jared Huffman

ARI MELBER, MSNBC: But now, it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good evening, Lawrence.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Ari, what was that e-mail address again?

That`s your personal e-mail address?

MELBER: It`s Ari --

O`DONNELL: That`s right --

MELBER: It`s real, men, it`s

O`DONNELL: All right, get ready, thank you, Ari.

MELBER: Good night.

O`DONNELL: We have breaking news tonight. A day after her daughter died in Los Angeles, Debbie Reynolds died tonight at the age of 84.

James Lipton will join us tonight with his remembrance and appreciation of Debbie Reynolds` acting career and her daughter, Carrie Fisher`s acting and writing career.

But first, a president-elect`s days and nights are supposed to be spent trying to master policy and fill thousands of important jobs in the federal government.

Which means a confused world is left to wonder tonight. Why Donald Trump was hanging out with Don King today.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: New concerns over the transition of power at the White House.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Donald Trump delivered this third tweet about the president, about the issue with the transition.

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC: This afternoon at Mar-a-Lago, Trump seemed to contradict that earlier tweet.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: He called me, we had a very good talk. I`m getting along very well with him, other than a couple of statements.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today, Secretary of State John Kerry had a clear message for Donald Trump and for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE, UNITED STATES: No American administration has done more for Israel`s security than Barack Obama`s.

The two-state solution is the only way to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER, ISRAEL: Israelis do not need to be lectured about the importance of peace by foreign leaders.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump also jumped into the fray.

TRUMP: When do you see the United Nations solving problems? They don`t. They cause problems.


O`DONNELL: Two hours ago, Donald Trump said that he had, "a great conversation with President Obama today."

Those were his words -- "great conversation." And that -- he also said that it was "a very nice call".

That was an upgrade from very nice conversation, which was what Donald Trump said about the phone call three hours earlier at 5:00 p.m. Florida Time. By 8:00 p.m. Florida Time, very nice conversation became very nice. Twice as nice.

Which wouldn`t be very surprising and would be consistent with Donald Trump and President Obama`s descriptions of their interactions since the election.

But what makes it a bit surprising today is that Donald Trump`s first public statement of the day at 9:07 a.m. was a tweet saying "doing my best to disregard the many inflammatory President O statements and roadblocks.

Thought it was going to be a smooth transition -- not." No one has any idea what Donald Trump was talking about in that tweet because when he was asked to elaborate on it in his first exchange with reporters today in the middle of the afternoon, he completely contradicted his own tweet.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, when you tweeted this morning that the transition of power wasn`t going smoothly as it relates to President Obama.

Can you elaborate on that a little bit, is it going smoothly?

TRUMP: Oh, it is going smoothly. It`s very good. You know --


O`DONNELL: Donald Trump`s staff refused to clarify the tweet. And then Donald Trump`s three brief chats with reporters at Mar-a-Lago in Florida today, it was as if the tweet had never happened.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you speak with President Obama today?

TRUMP: I did. I did. He phoned me, we had a very nice conversation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you bring up any of your concerns about these roadblocks?

TRUMP: We had a general conversation. I think the secretary`s speech really spoke for itself.

But we had a very general conversation, very nice, appreciated that he called.


O`DONNELL: Now that seemed to maybe indicate that President Obama`s phone call was about Secretary of State John Kerry`s speech today about Israel.

That is the only thing that Donald Trump actually refers to when he is answering that question about the phone call.

But he doesn`t specifically say that that`s what they talked about. And Donald Trump`s final appearance tonight, reporters tried to get a clarification.


TRUMP: Yes, he called me --


He called me. We had a very good talk about generally about things. He was in Hawaii and it was a very nice call.

And I actually thought that we covered a lot of territory, a lot of good territory.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you satisfied with the transition this far?

TRUMP: Well, our staffs are getting along very well. And I`m getting along very well with him other than a couple of statements that I responded to.

And we talked about it and smiled about it. And nobody is ever going to know because we`re never going to be going against each other in that way.

So, but he was -- it was a great conversation.


O`DONNELL: A president-elect`s days have always been intense cramming sessions of studying policy briefing books, meeting with policy experts, and trying to staff a government with literally thousands of presidential appointments.

And so no president-elect in history has ever used a single minute of that time to meet with the likes of Don King until tonight.


TRUMP: Hello, everybody, everybody OK?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Great, thank you.

TRUMP: You all know Don King. Who doesn`t know Don King?

DON KING, BOXING PROMOTER: It`s great to be an American. And now with our leader, we`re going to make new days, make America great again!


O`DONNELL: Does Donald Trump believe that there is a human being anywhere on earth who thinks meeting with Don King is the indication the world has been waiting for?

That Donald Trump is now taking his new job seriously enough? It`s the same Don King who has done time for killing a man.

The same Don King who has been accused of stealing millions of dollars from boxers he has promoted.

The Trump team had announced that Donald Trump would make a major speech today about the economy and jobs.

It turned out to be a one-minute statement in which Donald Trump tried to take new credit today for some jobs that were already announced weeks ago.

Here now in its entirety, uncut is Donald Trump`s major announcement about the American economy and jobs today.


TRUMP: Hello, everybody. So, we just had some very good news because of what`s happening and the spirit and the hope.

I was just called by the head people at Sprint, and they`re going to be bringing 5,000 jobs back to the United States.

They`re taking them from other countries, they`re bringing them back to the United States. And Masa and some other people were very much involved in that, so, I want to thank them.

And also OneWeb, a new company is going to be hiring 3,000 people, so that`s very exciting. So, we have a combination of Sprint for 5,000 jobs, and that`s coming from all over the world.

And they`re coming back into the United States, which is a nice change. And also OneWeb, 3,000 jobs, it`s a new company. And it was done through Masa and a terrific guy, and we appreciate it, OK?


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Howard Dean; former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and an Msnbc political analyst.

Also with us, Jonathan Gruber; professor of economics at MIT. He is one of the primary architects of the Affordable Care Act.

And Howard Dean, Donald Trump didn`t mention that earlier in the year, Sprint had cut 2,500 jobs.

And so these 5,000 that were already announced and Sprint confirmed tonight that these -- there`s nothing new in what Donald Trump was announcing today as his major economic announcement.

And if you really want to do some -- you know, math that includes the net effect of Donald Trump in the jobs world, you`d have to begin by the thousands of jobs that were lost in Atlantic City through the bankruptcy of all those casinos down there.

But Howard Dean, here was the announcement. There`s going to be a big speech today about jobs and the economy.

That`s what it turned out to be. We`re still waiting for a huge speech by Donald Trump about the economy.

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER VERMONT GOVERNOR: There isn`t going to be one. You know, this -- we`re going to have to get used to this way of operating.

He sort of says whatever comes into his head, he does take credit for other people`s work. Look, this economy has done so much better because of a Barack Obama in the last eight years.

There have been millions of jobs added. The unemployment rate has dropped dramatically, Wall Street is at a new high.

None of that has anything to do with Donald Trump. Now, Donald Trump may get in and do all kinds of wonderful things, and I hope he does that are good for the economy.

So far he`s putting a whole bunch of people who screwed the very people who voted for Donald Trump. And so we`ll see what happens. But sooner or later, this is the biggest job in the world.

Sooner or later, what you do matters much more than what you say. And so he can say anything he wants to until January 20th.

Then what he says really matters. And I don`t think so far there is any indication it`s going to match up with what he`s done, which is nothing.

O`DONNELL: But he does seem to have figured out the minds of headline writers.

He got some pretty good headlines today as a result of that little stunt. "Reuters" headline was "Trump says Sprint to bring 5,000 jobs back to U.S.".

"L.A. Times" had a headline up saying "Trump touts plan by Sprint and OneWeb to create 8,000 U.S. jobs." And Jonathan Gruber, this is politics by headline.

JONATHAN GRUBER, PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS, MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY: You know, look, the U.S. economy in a typical month both creates and destroys hundreds of thousands of jobs.

And this is -- this kind of argument is exactly the argument by anecdote that Trump has mastered, and that the press has bought into.

We should be having political debates over facts, over aggregate facts. Jobs created, jobs lost, wages increasing.

The enormous success that President Obama has created more jobs than any president in recent history, many more than Ronald Reagan, for example.

That`s the kind of fact we need to focus on, not the kind of anecdotes that Donald Trump uses over and over again to both promote his ideas and to attack constructive ideas on the other side.

O`DONNELL: And Howard Dean, the Trump plan as we know it for the economy so far, the one thing that we are pretty clear on is a giant tax cut.

And that may be the only thing you can bet on actually happening because that`s something the Republicans wanted to do before Donald Trump became a candidate for president.

So, the massive tax cut seems to be the one thing that we will see next year.

DEAN: First of all, Donald Trump actually said that Mike Pence was going to run a lot of the foreign or domestic affairs.

And judging by the cabinet officials and how right wing they are, Mike Pence has had an outsized influence on all this.

So, it`s most likely that what we`re going see is a rehash of the far right tax cut proposals that we`ve seen in the past.

The problem is Donald Trump was put in office by a lot of people who were struggling economically and wanted a change.

With the change he is promising them is to give the billionaires of this country like himself a bigger tax cut and screw the working people by privatizing Social Security and Medicare.

That`s what is in Paul Ryan`s plan. That`s the plan the Republicans are looking at passing in the house. So, you know, whether we should save them from themselves or not is a matter to be debated.

But the Trump tax plan is first of all absolutely worthless until we see what`s actually in the legislature.

And what we`ve seen by people who actually have votes which Donald Trump does not, until it gets to his desk is not anything that`s going to help middle class and working Americans in this country at all.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan Gruber, based on everything we`ve heard from Donald Trump about what he wants to do with taxes, about what we know Paul Ryan wants to do with taxes.

What surprises might there be next year for the average Trump voter of average income as a result of this tax bill?

GRUBER: I think what`s very interesting about what Trump is going to do is it`s very much similar to what George Bush did. Which was given an enormous tax cut that was vastly weighted towards the richest Americans.

But came along with a small tax cut for most Americans. And so if you asked most Americans, did George Bush give them a tax cut? They`ll say sure. And Trump is going to try and the Republicans are going to try the same thing.

They`re going to say facts like all Americans will get a tax cut or most of the people getting a tax cut earn less than $100,000.

These are absolutely misleading facts. And really, the question for Democrats, I think is most important is how do you break through that message?

How do you explain without sounding wonky, without sounding off-putting, that yes, the average American may get a couple of hundred dollars back.

But their kids are going to be paying thousands and thousands of dollars in higher interest charges because the tax break is going to the wealthiest Americans. That`s the challenge from the Democratic Party, how to get that message through.

O`DONNELL: Well, we happen to have someone from the Democratic Party with us. Howard Dean, how do they answer that?

DEAN: Well, first of all, I think we have to be -- they have to look at the deficit, all these budget balancing groups in Washington. Some of whom are really well funded by fairly conservative but mainstream Republicans.

They need to be going after the Republicans for the chicanery. First, if they use dynamic scoring, which is the only way they can even -- it can conceal the deficit.

That`s just lying and chicanery and financial BS. If a private company used that, they`d be out of business within two or three years.

And some of them did use essentially some version of that in the private sector and they are out of business as a result of what happened in 2008.

So, what we have to do is explain to people that running up more and more money on the deficit is not a way of helping America become great again.

We have to become the deficit hawks, ironically, because the one thing Reagan and the two Bushs had in common is they cut taxes and they cracked the deficit up dramatically because they never balanced the budget.

They cut taxes without cutting programs. I don`t think there is a lot of support in this country for cutting programs, including among those people who voted for Donald Trump.

He`s promised not to cut them. The only way he can cut taxes in that case is a crank of the deficit to some enormous amount of money.

And we haven`t talked about the nuclear arms race he wants to put on or the infrastructure, which is even more money.

You know, this is completely Un-Republican to do this kind of stuff. The Democrats need to be deficit hawks.

We need to talk about the deficit and get serious about it. And all those budget balancing groups in Washington funded by Republicans ought to be on our side because the Republicans are going to do nothing to make -- do anything better about balancing the budget.

O`DONNELL: All right, we`re going to squeeze in a quick break here. Gentlemen, please stay with us.

Coming up, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his gratitude today to someone who has never done anything for Israel, Donald Trump.

And did not say a word of thanks to President Obama who has done more for Israel`s security than any previous president.

Also coming up, a decision by President Obama today to protect tribal lands.


O`DONNELL: Time for today`s Barack Obama is still president news. The president designated two new national monuments protecting 1.3 million acres of land in southeastern Utah and 300,000 acres in Nevada.

The land in the Bears Ears area of Utah was where some members of the Navajo nation hid from the U.S. cavalry when the United States was forcibly rounding up Navajo men, women and children and marching them at gunpoint hundreds of miles away from their homes.

Russell Begaye; the president of the Navajo Nation said today the land is, "a sacred place of prayer, shelter and fortitude."

He thanked President Obama for preserving the tribal lands, saying "this land will be finally given the legal reverence and protection it deserves."

President Begaye also said President Obama has done "more than any other president in history to set aside more land and water for the future."

Tribal efforts at federal protection for these lands began 80 years ago during the administration of President Franklin Roosevelt.

President Obama made the designation under the authority granted him in the 1906 Antiquities Act. That law does not grant any authority to future presidents to reverse that designation.

Coming up, Benjamin Netanyahu is very thankful today to Donald Trump for doing nothing in his life to help Israel in any way.

But Prime Minister Netanyahu refuses to thank President Obama, who has done among other things, the Iran nuclear deal that can legitimately be credited for doing more to help Israel`s security than any other president.

That`s next.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have any further comments about Kerry`s speech?

You know --


TRUMP: Yes, it speaks for itself, it was pretty obvious.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But he said that friends need to like set friends straight, and that was one of the things --

TRUMP: There`d be different views, we have to have peace. I think it set it back. But we`ll see what happens after January 20th, right?

I think he`s going to be very impressed, I know.


O`DONNELL: That was Don King and Donald Trump`s response to Secretary of State John Kerry`s speech today.

In his speech, Secretary Kerry defended the United States` recent decision to abstain from a U.N. vote demanding that Israel stop all settlement activities in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.


KERRY: The vote in the United Nations was about preserving the two-state solution. That`s what we were standing up for.

Israel`s future as a Jewish and Democratic state, living side by side in peace and security with its neighbors.

The status quo is leading towards one state and perpetual occupation. The Israeli prime minister publicly supports a two-state solution.

But his current coalition is the most right wing in Israeli history with an agenda driven by the most extreme elements.

The result is that policies of this government which the prime minister himself just described as more committed to settlements than any in Israel`s history are leading in the opposite direction.

They`re leading towards one state.


O`DONNELL: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Secretary Kerry`s speech a deep disappointment and unbalanced.

Prime Minister Netanyahu did not speak one word of gratitude for anything the Obama administration has done for Israel.


KERRY: No American administration has done more for Israel`s security than Barack Obama`s.

The Israeli prime minister himself has noted our "unprecedented military intelligence cooperation."

Our military exercises are more advanced than ever. Our assistance for Iron Dome has saved countless Israeli lives.

We have consistently supported Israel`s right to defend itself by itself, including during actions in Gaza that sparked great controversy.


O`DONNELL: Prime Minister Netanyahu did tweet his gratitude today to someone who has never done anything for Israel.

"President-elect Trump, thank you for your warm friendship and your clear- cut support for Israel." Tonight, Donald Trump said this about Israeli settlements.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe there should be a limit to where Israel can build settlements?

TRUMP: I just -- I think you know what I believe. I`m very strong on Israel. I think Israel has been treated very unfairly by a lot of different people.

You look at resolutions in the United Nations, you take a look at what`s happened.

They`re up for 20 reprimands and other nations that are horrible places, horrible places that treat people horribly haven`t even been reprimanded.

So, there`s something going on, and I think it`s very unfair to Israel.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Phyllis Bennis; a fellow with the Institute for Policy Study and author of the book "Inside Israel-Palestine: The Conflict Explained".

Phyllis Bennis, please explain to us your perspective on what we saw develop today, Secretary Kerry`s speech, Benjamin Netanyahu`s response and some of what Donald Trump had to say tonight.

PHYLLIS BENNIS, WRITER & ACTIVIST: Well, I think that the speech from Secretary Kerry really had two goals.

One was to defend the history, the legacy, if you will, of President Obama`s administration for being, as he said, the most pro-Israeli administration in U.S. history in all the ways that matters.

That means escalating the amount of money, it`s now going up to $38 billion over the next ten years agreed to by President Obama, that goes straight to the Israeli military.

As well as having protected Israel and Israeli officials in the United Nations, making sure there was never any real accountability for any violations.

And protecting Israel militarily and politically in situations like in Gaza when the rest of the world said these are war crimes.

The U.S. said no, this is Israel`s right of self-defense. So, he was re- asserting that in the face of criticisms both from Israel, but also from members of Congress and from others inside I would say, Lawrence, inside the Washington bubble.

I think what he had missed, what Secretary Kerry missed was the fact that most people in the United States these days are not so happy about the idea that the U.S. is providing $38 billion of our tax money to the Israeli military.

That it is protecting Israel so uncritically until this one resolution this past week. So, I think that there was a bit of a misreading of where public opinion is versus opinion inside that Washington bubble.

The second thing that he was trying to do was to defend or protect this idea of a two-state solution. At a moment when I think a lot of people believe that the two-state solution is over and done, it`s dead.

It`s been killed by settlements. There`s just no land left for a viable Palestinian state. And this notion that we`re headed towards a one-state solution I think is missing the boat that we already are in a one-state solution.

It`s right now an apartheid state where you have one governing authority, the Israelis and the Israeli military. But two separate legal systems depending on whether you`re Jewish or Palestinian.

So, that`s kind of the definition of apartheid in international law. And I think that president -- sorry, the Secretary Kerry was inquiring that that could happen in the future rather than acknowledging that it`s already happening now.

The response predictably from Prime Minister Netanyahu was outrage, although the actual proposals in Secretary Kerry`s presentation were not new and different.

They were not qualitatively different than the Clinton parameters, than the positions of the so-called quartet.

These are the same positions that have been the basis of now 20 -- I guess it`s about 25 years of failed U.S. diplomacy.

Based on this idea that there is going to be a two-state solution. But with no significant pressure on Israel to make that happen.

In response to that, we see the president-elect coming forward and saying, well, everything is going to be different after January 20th.

He has made clear that by appointing David Freidman, somebody who is a known funder of the settlements.

Who has said he does not believe in the two-state solution, wants the U.S. embassy to be moved to Jerusalem.

A number of very provocative positions. I think what is going to -- what we are going to see after January 20th, or at least when the new ambassador is confirmed, if he is confirmed, the Senate may realize the dangers of confirming him.

But if he is confirmed, I think we will see a very significant difference in how U.S. officials talk about Israel, in how they do or do not criticize the settlements.

I think we will see an end to the criticism of the settlements. But crucially, the resolution that was passed on Friday is not going to go away despite what Donald Trump might like to happen. That resolution is going to be far more important I think in Europe than it is in the United States.

The Europeans had been looking for a way to balance the international law requirements of among other things opposing settlements and their positions about trade with Israel.

They have a free trade agreement between Europe and Israel. Israel has been violating that by including within that agreement goods and produce that`s made on Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, illegal settlements.

By saying in this resolution that all the settlements are illegal, that they have no valid basis, they`re setting the stage for a whole new initiative by Europe.

That`s what makes it so important.

O`DONNELL: Phyllis, a quick question before we go. Are you -- is it your notion at this point that Benjamin Netanyahu has given up a two-state solution.

That this is the solution, this is the one-state solution that we`re looking at now. This status quo is what will hold and what he intends to hold for the foreseeable future?

BENNIS: I think that he long ago gave up a real two-state solution. What exists now is a one-state solution.

The reference that Secretary Kerry made to the possibility that there would be a civil rights movement among the Palestinians asking for the right to vote.

And he said what would the U.S. do about that? He didn`t imply that it could win the way civil rights struggles won in the United States against Jim Crow segregation, won against South African apartheid.

There is no reason in the world why it wouldn`t win eventually, not right away, but eventually in Israel-Palestinian in some broader sense

O`DONNELL: Phyllis Bennis, thank you for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.

BENNIS: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, some of Donald Trump`s voters want Donald Trump to keep his hands off their Obamacare. And also later, a member of Congress has a bill that would make it illegal for the president-elect to meddle in U.S. Foreign Policy.



REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The first bill we`re going to be working on is our Obamacare legislation. We`ll get everyone access to affordable health care coverage.

(END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Donald Trump apparently spent some time today working on repealing and replacing Obamacare.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have three of the greatest in the world today, Cleveland clinic, Mayo clinic, Johns Hopkins, three of the best in the world. They were amazing and they have some really good ideas and we have to get it fixed.


O`DONNELL: No word from Don King on his ideas for replacing Obamacare. Democrat aren`t the only ones who are concerned about the repeal of Obamacare. Some Trump voters are also worried about what the man they elected president will do to their health care. Debbie Mills who voted for Trump in Kentucky gets her health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, and so does her husband. She told the Washington Post I don`t know what we`ll do if it does go away.

I guess I thought that, you know, Trump would not do this. That they would not do this, would not take the insurance away, knowing that it`s affecting so many people`s lives. I mean what are you to do, then, if you cannot purchase, cannot pay for the insurance? Another Trump voter in Kentucky who worked in the coal mines for 35 years said that repeal could mean the end of a provision making it easier for miners with black lung disease to get disability.

He said when they eliminate Obamacare, they may eliminate all of the black lung program. It may all be gone, don`t matter how many years you got.

Back with us Jonathan Gruber who helped design the Affordable Care Act with President Obama and Howard Dean. Jonathan Gruber, repealing is one thing. The Republicans have voted to do that in the past. But as we know replacing it is the hard part. And what would you imagine the heads of the hospitals who were meeting with Donald Trump today, Johns Hopkins and others, what would they be telling Donald Trump?

JONATHAN GRUBER, MIT PROFESSOR: I think they`d be telling him that it would be a very unfortunate move to repeal without replace, which is what they have now. There is no replace. and essentially the repeal and delay strategy for Republicans is really not going to work, because if you take one of the legs of the stool out of the Affordable Care Act, namely individual mandate, insurance markets will collapse. And without a guaranteed replacement, you`re putting a health insurance of 30 million Americans at risk. And I think they would say to him hospitals financials will suffer, uncompensated care will go back up. And I hope they say to him don`t -- where is the fire? What`s the rush? Obamacare is working fine. If you have a better plan, that`s super. But why not develop it before rushing to get rid of something that works for more than 20 million Americans.

O`DONNELL: And Howard Dean we know Republicans are looking at polls that indicate that voters by overwhelming majorities approve of almost all of the components of Obamacare especially when they`re not identified as components of Obamacare. And that pulling those out just as those Trump voters said, pulling those things away from people now is a very different thing than it felt like when they knew the votes for repeal were fake because President Obama was never going to sign their repeal bills.

HOWARD DEAN, FMR DNC CHAIR: Right. Yeah, there is a fair amount of danger here. I think it`s likely at least in the House they will pass the repeal bill. And these people basically don`t give a damn about anybody`s health insurance, and they never have. I think the biggest problem is actually happening right now and Republican Governors are gutting Medicaid. Medicaid is the expansion in Obamacare that covers the most people in this country. And it makes an enormous difference. They`re already cutting that back. So this is a huge, huge problem. And it really is an attack on the legacy not just of Barack Obama, but Lyndon Johnson and Franklin Roosevelt.

O`DONNELL: And Jonathan Gruber, have you heard anything, any policy ideas coming out of Republicans that you think they could conceivably be at the beginning or some kind of structure for a replacement?

GRUBER: oh, they absolutely have a structure. There is no doubt. They even have some proposals. And to the extent we`ve seen they`ve been scored, they would at best cover half as many Americans as the Affordable Care Act. That is about 10 plus million Americans would lose health insurance without actually saving that money. Actually the typical Republican proposal would increase the deficit relative to Obamacare because it would get rid of not only the expansions of insurance coverage, but the pay force that President Obama insisted on to make this a fiscally responsible piece of legislation. So there are plans out there. They just don`t work.

O`DONNELL: Well, we`ll see them when they produce them. Jonathan Gruber, Howard Dean, thank you both for joining us tonight.

DEAN: Thank you.

GRUBER: You bet.

O`DONNELL: coming up, James Lipton will join us with his memories of Carrie Fisher and her mother, Debbie Reynolds.


O`DONNELL: We have sad breaking news two days in a row in the same family. Debbie Reynolds died today, one day after the death of her daughter Carrie Fisher. Debbie Reynolds` son Todd Fisher told NBC News she has gone to be with Carrie. She loved taking care of her, and now she gone to be with her. Debbie Reynolds was 84 years old.

Joining us now by phone is James Lipton, the Dean Emeritus of the Actors Studio Drama School in New York City and host of Inside the Actors Studio. James thank you very much for being with us tonight and please, your reflections on this truly amazing mother/daughter act, Debbie Reynolds, the legendary actress, Carrie Fisher, brilliant actress and brilliant writer.

JAMES LIPTON, DEAN EMERITUS, ACTORS STUDIO DRAMA SCHOOL: Well, Lawrence as you know this is not the first time we talked about somebody who has passed. I guess because I`m the only interviewer whoever asks the guests what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates, have I become the comment for passing artists. Willy Neely the eulogist for America`s passing parade and creative in performing artists is a position I didn`t seek. I got this call just a few minutes ago. And it began with the words Debbie Reynolds has died. That`s very hard, huh? I tell you, my first impression is this. I have never -- I`m not very superstitious. I have never believed in dying of a broken heart. I thought it was just a superstition until now. I think she died of a broken heart. I believe it from the bottom of my own heart.

O`DONNELL: She -- Debbie was a 24-year-old actress when her daughter was born and at the peak of her career. And she carried on with that career in various roles through what has now become the end of her life. She has the longer career. But both of these careers, James, made indelible imprints.

LIPTON: Indelible is the right word especially, of course, for Debbie. As you know, I`ve been involved with musicals for most of my life. So Singing in the Rain is a big favorite of mine. And she sang the most cheerful song in film history, that song of course was good morning, good morning and she held her own. She was 19 I believe at that time with Gene Kelly and Donald O`Connor. Can you imagine being thrust into that. She was cast out of nowhere. She`d won some kind of beauty contest. And she had to work with this guy, 12 hours a day, day after day. They taught her what to do and my god did she learn how to do it. And I thought to myself a few minutes ago if my question at the end of my show is correct and if heaven exists, I`m quite sure that Gene And Donald are greeting Debbie at this moment with good morning, good morning.

O`DONNELL: Yes, absolutely. Talk for a moment about Carrie Fisher and that amazing dual career she had. I`ve been struggling to think of a giant actress career that turns into being a very, very important Hollywood writer, one of the major writers of our time.

LIPTON: Isn`t that astonishing?

O`DONNELL: Yes. Yes.

LIPTON: And she was known as a kind of fixer. She would be called in when other people couldn`t succeed writing a film. And then she was called in. Where did that come from? She had these two careers and these two great skills. And the skills are nothing like each other. Acting is one thing. Singing is another. Dancing is another. Doing all those things are another.

That`s what Debbie could do. But Carrie, here she was an actor and suddenly she was a writer. She was just declared a writer, and she succeeded. And she succeeded brilliantly. So she did have the two careers. So in fact did Debbie Reynolds. Debbie had of course the initial career. And then life began to pass her by. And she simply persevered and continued doing wonderful work in the subsequent years.

O`DONNELL: Between the two of them, James, it seems they covered everything you could do in this business. James Lipton, thank you very, very much for joining us on this difficult night. Really appreciate it.

LIPTON: A very difficult night. But imagine within two days of each other. Something is being said to us.

O`DONNELL: That will be the last word on it. Thank you, James.

LIPTON: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: We`ll be right back.


O`DONNELL: And now for the good news. I could use some of that. Last night we told you about your record breaking contributions to the K.I.N.D. Fund over the Christmas holiday. And now in the last 24 hours, you`ve made it another big fundraising day for K.I.N.D, contributing another $251,212. That`s just overnight.

For Kids In Need Of Desks, K-I-N-D. Unique partnership between MSNBC and UNICEF that provides jobs for factory workers in Malawi to make desks for students that in schools that have never had desks, the K.I.N.D Fund also provides scholarships for girls to attend high school in Malawi where public high school is not free. And the girls graduation rate is half the boys graduation rate. Jane Ashford tweeted I can`t donate until at least January. Is this fund only seasonal or all year? Yes, Jane. And I am so glad that you asked. You can contribute to the K.I.N.D 24 hours a day, every day of the week, every day of the year.

By going to the you can make a contribution as a gift to anyone you choose, possibly a birthday gift. And UNICEF will send that person an e-mail acknowledging your gift there is no amount too small. Your $5 can be combined with other contributions and a desk will be on its way to a school in Malawi that has never had desk. Since MSNBC and UNICEF created the K.I.N.D Fund six years ago, you have contributed a total of $13,471,432. The only source of fundraising for the K.I.N.D Fund is this program and the discussions we have about it here during the holiday season when the spirit of giving is in the air.

But the need is always there. And thanks to Jane Ashford`s tweet, I`m glad to have the chance to clarify that yes, you can always help those kids in Malawi who you meet on this program whenever you can at whatever time during the year that you can do that. And as you`ve heard, some of those kids tell you, they are deeply, deeply thankful for your generosity and kindness.


O`DONNELL: A member of congress wants to make it clearly illegal for presidents-elect to interfere with foreign policy. That`s next.



BILL CLINTON, 42ND PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Position that is now beginning, I urge America`s friends and foes alike to recognize as I do that America has only one president at a time.

GEORGE W. BUSH, 43RD PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We have one president. And we`ll have one president. And the current president is President Clinton.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: When it comes to foreign policy, I think the need to adhere to one president at a time is particularly important.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Representative Jared Huffman, Democratic representative of California`s 2nd district. Congressman Huffman, you`ve got a bill that you`ve introduced that would make it illegal for presidents-elect to meddle in foreign policy as we have seen Donald Trump doing in what is an unprecedented way. Can you explain to us how that bill would work?

REP. JARED HUFFMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: Yes, Lawrence, first of all I think it`s arguably already illegal for a president-elect to do this. The Logan Act has been on the books since 1799. But I think President-Elect Trump`s lawyers have been too busy trying to deal with all his conflicts of interest to tell him about the Logan Act. So I introduced a bill that just makes it explicitly clear that the president-elect is just like every other private citizen during the transition period. They can`t go around reporting to conduct U.S. Foreign policy.

O`DONNELL: I just want to read the words of the Logan Act. As you said, this is very old law. We`ve never really had a prosecution under it. But it says that any citizen who without authority of the United States directly or indirectly commences or carries on correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States or to defeat the measures of the United States shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than three years.

It`s a pretty clear prohibition against doing what we`ve seen Donald Trump doing. But do you -- does it concern you that there could be first amendment implications in the Logan Act that haven`t been tested?

HUFFMAN: Well, it`s an act that hasn`t been tested with respect to a president-elect because every previous president-elect has had the common sense and the impulse control to know that they need to show deference to the sitting president, and that we need only one president at a time. We`re in uncharted waters because Donald Trump doesn`t have those boundaries. And unfortunately, I think it`s necessary to bring up the Logan Act. Yes, there are first amendment issues. But the first amendment also has limits.

One cannot yell fire in a crowd theater. And I would suggest that conducting foreign policy, pretending to have the authority to do so around the world is a reasonable limitation on one`s first amendment rights.

O`DONNELL: Congressman Jared Huffman, thank you very much for joining us. We`re out of time. Sorry.

HUFFMAN: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you. Chris Hayes is up next.