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The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 1/11/2017

Guests: Malcolm Nance, John Schindler, David Frum, Walter Shaub, Ron Klain, David Cay Johnston

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: January 11, 2017 Guest: Malcolm Nance, John Schindler, David Frum, Walter Shaub, Ron Klain, David Cay Johnston

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Now it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good evening, Lawrence. 

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Rachel, it`s great to be back.

MADDOW:  Welcome back, we missed you --

O`DONNELL:  And I`ve walked right back into breaking news.  We have --

MADDOW:  Indeed --

O`DONNELL:  A breaking news statement we`re going to have to read.  Thanks, Rachel --

MADDOW:  OK, thanks.

O`DONNELL:  Breaking news is that the director of National Intelligence James Clapper says he just spoke with Donald Trump, and he released this statement.

He says "this evening, I had the opportunity to speak with President-elect Donald Trump to discuss the recent media reports about our briefing last Friday.

He says we also discussed the private security company document which was widely circulated in recent months among the media, members of Congress, and congressional staff even before the intelligence community became aware of it.

I emphasized that this document is not a U.S. intelligence community product, and that I do not believe the leaks came from within the intelligence community.

The intelligence community has not made any judgment on the information that in this document that it is reliable, no judgment that it is reliable.

And we did not rely upon it in any way for our conclusions.  However, part of our obligation is to ensure the policymakers are provided with the fullest possible picture of any matters that might affect national security."

That written statement tonight from James Clapper, director of National Intelligence.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Does anyone really believe that story? I`m also very much of a germaphobe, by the way.


Believe me. 

CHUCK TODD, MODERATOR, MEET THE PRESS:  The incoming president and his intelligence agencies are in open warfare. 

TRUMP:  That`s something that Nazi, Germany would have done. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  He compared the intelligence community to Nazi, Germany.

TRUMP:  I have great respect for the news for freedom of the press and all of that.

No, not you, not you.  Your organization is terrible.  Quiet. 

LESTER HOLT, JOURNALIST:  Questions about Russian influence.

TRUMP:  If Putin likes Donald Trump, guess what, folks? That`s called an asset, not a liability. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Is Vladimir Putin a war criminal?


TRUMP:  Rex Tillerson.  I think it`s brilliant what he is doing and what he is saying. 

SEN. TIM KAINE (D), VIRGINIA:  Do you lack the knowledge to answer my question or are you refusing to answer my question?

TILLERSON:  A little of both.

TODD:  Despite bipartisan calls from ethics experts, Mr. Trump will not be divesting from his business. 

TRUMP:  My two sons are going to be running the company.  They`re not going to discuss it with me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He fails the emoluments test and he hasn`t set up a true ethics wall. 

JIMMY KIMMEL, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST:  Can a president be impeached before he is even inaugurated --


Or do we have to wait?


O`DONNELL:  We all remember exactly what we were doing, exactly 24 hours ago.

We were either listening to the discussion on this network about President Obama`s speech or staring at things on social media that we couldn`t really believe with our own eyes.

Last night at this hour, when the TV news audience was still in the grip of the emotional aftermath of witnessing Barack Obama`s last speech as president of the United States, social media was buzzing about "BuzzFeed".

Specifically a document released by "BuzzFeed" yesterday that alleged Russia has information about Donald Trump that can be used to blackmail him.

That is the document that James Clapper was referring to and what we just read at the beginning of the program.

The "New York Times" says that the document, those documents "describe sex videos involving prostitutes with Mr. Trump in a 2013 visit to a Moscow hotel.

There is no convincing sourcing for that claim in the documents.  Today, Donald Trump gave two reasons why that story should not be believed.

He is extremely careful, and he is a germaphobe.


TRUMP:  I am extremely careful.  I`m surrounded by bodyguards.  I`m surrounded by people.

And I always tell them anywhere -- but I always tell them if I`m leaving this country, be very careful because in your hotel rooms -- and no matter where you go, you`re going to probably have cameras.

I`m not referring just to Russia, but I would certainly put them in that category.

I was in Russia years ago with the Miss Universe contest, which did very well, Moscow, the Moscow area.

Did very well.  And I told many people be careful because you don`t want to see yourself on television.  Cameras all over the place.  And again, not just Russia, all over.

Does anyone really believe that story? I`m also very much of a germaphobe, by the way.


Believe me.


O`DONNELL:  We`ve all seen just how extremely careful Donald Trump can be when he knows he is surrounded by cameras and microphones.

For the first time in history, "Access Hollywood" video was used as the basis of a question in the confirmation hearing of a nominee to be Attorney General of the United States.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  My question is very simple.  Is grabbing a woman by her genitals without consent, is that sexual assault?



O`DONNELL:  Donald Trump`s press conference today was scheduled last week with the announced topic being how Donald Trump and his family would manage conflict of interest issues during the Trump presidency.

Donald Trump delegated that subject today to a lawyer who filled several minutes in the middle of the press conference that was otherwise dominated by Russia.

And finally today, the presidential candidate who continuously defended Russia against the accusation of hacking Democratic Party e-mails and John Podesta`s e-mail.

And continuously came up with alternative scenarios suggesting it could be anyone, including his mythical 400-pound man finally said this.


TRUMP:  As far as hacking, I think it was Russia.


O`DONNELL:  That became Donald Trump`s new position, right up until he was asked about it again in the same press conference.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Mr. President-elect, you said just now that you believe that Russia indeed was responsible for the hacking of the DNC in terms of this e-mails, et cetera.

TRUMP:  Well, Russia, but you know what? It could have been others also.


TRUMP:  And so there he goes again.  Injecting reasonable doubt into a case where the directors of the CIA, NSA and FBI all agree there is no reasonable doubt.

Donald Trump couldn`t resist one more moment of defending Russia in the hacking case.

It could have been others.  Donald Trump has attacked President Obama, President Bush, President Clinton, Secretaries of State John Kerry, Hillary Clinton.

He has attacked most of the Democratic senators who he can name, and at least half of the Republican senators who he can name.

He repeatedly attacked Paul Ryan.  He attacked every single Republican who had the temerity to run for president last year.

And he has attacked the sworn officers of the CIA.  He has attacked me.  He`s threatened to sue me.

He has attacked Katy Tur, whose only offense was being one of the first reporters to cover the Trump campaign.

He has attacked countless other reporters and all of the American news media generally and constantly.

And he has never once, not once spoken a single word of criticism about the Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.


TRUMP:  If Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset, not a liability.

Because we have a horrible relationship with Russia.  If Putin likes Donald Trump, guess what, folks?

That`s called an asset, not a liability.  Now, I don`t know that I`m going to get along with Vladimir Putin.

I hope I do.  But there`s a good chance I won`t.  And if I don`t, do you honestly believe that Hillary would be tougher on Putin than me?

Does anybody in this room really believe that? Give me a break.


O`DONNELL:  Guess who does believe that? Vladimir Putin, the person who dominated that room without being in that room does believe that.

That is what American intelligence officials have concluded about Vladimir Putin`s view of the presidential campaign.

In the official intelligence report on this matter, the director of National Intelligence says "we assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election.

We further assess Putin and the Russian government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.

We have high confidence in these judgments.  We also assess Putin and the Russian government aspired to help President-elect Trump`s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him.

All three agencies agree with this judgment."  After a report like that, any other politician would be tough on Russia just to demonstrate at a minimum some independence from Russia.

But not Donald Trump.  He continues to be nice to Vladimir Putin on the same day that he attacked an American reporter at his press conference because the reporter committed the unpardonable offense of doing his job.

And so the mystery continues tonight.  Why is Donald Trump so nice to Vladimir Putin? No one is taking the "BuzzFeed" documents as conclusive proof of anything. 

And so, reporters continue to probe for other possible explanations after Donald Trump insisted today that he has no deals in Russia.

And that he would be beholden nothing in the -- that would make him beholden to Putin or the Russians.  He was once again logically asked about his tax returns.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Will you release your tax returns to prove what you`re saying about no deals in Russia?

TRUMP:  Well, I`m not releasing the tax returns because as you know they`re under audit.


O`DONNELL:  Of course, we do not know that they`re under audit.  We have never known that, Donald Trump says that they are.

But he has never produced the IRS form letter that commences every audit.

That letter would reveal nothing about Donald Trump`s income.  It would simply reveal that the IRS was beginning an audit of Donald Trump`s tax returns.

It would not mean that the IRS is still auditing those tax returns.  But it would be something.

It would be something other than Donald Trump`s word that his tax returns for 2015 are still being audited.

What if Donald Trump is not being audited? And remember, there is absolutely no evidence that he is being audited.

None, not any.  What if he is not being audited? And what if his personal or business tax returns could tell us something that we don`t already know about his financial dealings with Russians?


TRUMP:  You know, the only ones that care about my tax returns are the reporters, OK, you`re the only ones --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  You don`t think the American public is concerned? -- 

TRUMP:  No, I don`t think so.


O`DONNELL:  Donald Trump is partially right about that.  One-third right.  In fact, 33 percent of Americans apparently don`t care about his tax returns.

But 60 percent of Americans told a Pew poll that they believe it is his responsibility to release those tax returns.

Donald Trump will soon be appointing the next director of the IRS.  In effect, the next supervisor of the audit of his tax returns that may or may not be taking place.

And like everyone currently working at the IRS, Donald Trump`s new hand- picked supervisor of all of his tax filings will be by law sworn to secrecy about any information about any tax filer, including Donald Trump.

And so Donald Trump knows that he can continue to claim that he is being audited forever.

And no one at the IRS can publicly say that he isn`t.  And the hope of finding something in his tax returns that explains why Vladimir Putin remains the only person in the world who Donald Trump has never criticized remains a distant dream.

Donald Trump is not a careful man.  He has been reckless in his businesses leading to bankruptcies, in his marriages leading to divorces.

He has been the most reckless politician we have ever seen.  But he continues to be very careful about Vladimir Putin and all things Russian.

And America is left to wonder why? We`ll try to answer that question next with Malcolm Nance, David Frum and John Schindler; a former counter- intelligence officer with the NSA.  That`s next.


O`DONNELL:  In our breaking news tonight, we have a statement released by Director James Clapper; the director of National Intelligence.

We got this just before going on the air at 10:00 p.m., a written statement about a conversation he had tonight with Donald Trump.

Among other things it says "we discussed the private security company document which was widely circulated in recent months among the media, members of Congress and congressional staff, even before the intelligence community became aware of it.

I emphasize that this document is not a U.S. intelligence community product, and that I do not believe the leaks came from within the intelligence community.

The intelligence community has not made any judgment that the information in this document is reliable, and we did not rely upon it in any way for our conclusions."

We are joined now by Malcolm Nance, Msnbc counterterrorism and intelligence analyst.  Also David Frum; senior editor for "The Atlantic" and a former speech writer for President George W. Bush.

And John Schindler; former intelligence analyst and counter-intelligence officer for the NSA.  Malcolm Nance, let me begin with you with your reactions to the totality of the last 24 hours.

What has emerged and what you heard from Donald Trump today that continued to include not a word of criticism of Vladimir Putin.

MALCOLM NANCE, MEDIA COMMENTATOR ON INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM, INTELLIGENCE, INSURGENCY & TORTURE:  Well, in totality, we`ve gone from, you know, silly season onto the silly campaign.

This is going to be like this for four years.  I find it very interesting that during the interview or the press conference today that he referred to himself as an asset.

You know, and his relationship with Russia is an asset, he`s an asset all right.

And he may in fact be an asset of Vladimir Putin`s, who he apparently has gotten him to the point where he cannot say anything or criticize him at all.  Very interesting, and certainly moving on from, you know, serious to suspicious.

O`DONNELL:  And John Schindler, your reaction to the totality of the story so far, including Director Clapper`s written statement tonight.


Which is that the president-elect`s tantrum today on Twitter and at his press conference against the intelligence community is aiming at the wrong target.

The IC is not responsible for the document which "BuzzFeed" leaked.  It does not give (INAUDIBLE) -- that is not where it comes from.

That is not to say it doesn`t perhaps agree with some of its conclusions.

But the president-elect was aiming at the very much the wrong target today.  And I think that`s a very negative outcome.

O`DONNELL:  And David Frum, your reaction?

DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC:  I`d like to direct attention to that statement you read at the beginning from James Clapper.

It directly gives the lie that Kellyanne Conway said on Seth Meyers` show last night where she said the president-elect have not in any way been briefed on this.

The people who watch programs like this are people who follow politics closely.  They`re hard to fool.

But there is a big universe of Americans who pay less attention to politics, and they watch shows like Seth Meyers, and it sort of pays to lie to them.

It is a reminder of the really kind of startling level of untruthfulness that comes out of everyone around this administrative grouping.

That you flatly say on such a well watched show with such a non-political audience one thing.  And 24 hours later the intelligence community says that`s just a lie. 


FRUM:  But the lie gets halfway around the world before the truth gets its boots on.

O`DONNELL:  And Malcolm, we have Donald Trump come out today and half- heartedly say that Russia did the hacking.

And then take it back.  Take it halfway back at least in his next comment about it.

But during the campaign, he was pretty clear about it when he would stand up there on rally stages and publicly make specific hacking requests of the Russians to specifically -- go after specific things that he would like to read.

NANCE:  Well, I`m not sure that, you know, trying to rely on Donald Trump for giving you the truth is going to get you very far.

We already know, and we`ve seen this pattern occur again and again, where he will come up and when forced into a corner to say something which is a known truth to everybody in this universe, he will touch it for one moment so that he can say that he said it.

And he will go back to dissimulation and essentially lying to mask whatever it is that he`s trying to cover up at that moment.

I think this is going to be an enormous problem.  Post truth does not work outside of his bubble.

And the rest of the world can take serious, you know, there will be consequences on the United States both economically, militarily and in foreign policy if we keep going this route.

O`DONNELL:  And John Schindler, Donald Trump was complaining today about this unsubstantiated report.

But yet he was eager to use unsubstantiated, unconfirmed e-mails that were hacked or the product of this Russian hack that the intelligence community now says.

Let`s listen to what he said today about hacking where he couldn`t resist actually celebrating the outcome of the hack.


TRUMP:  Remember this.  We talk about the hacking, and hacking is bad.  And it shouldn`t be done.

But look at the things that were hacked.  Look at what was learned from that hacking, that Hillary Clinton got the questions to the debate and didn`t report it?

That`s a horrible thing.  That`s a horrible thing.


O`DONNELL:  So, John, hacking is bad, it shouldn`t be done, but -- 

SCHINDLER:  Well, but they sure, you know, seem to like it when it worked for them, and it worked for them to some extent during the campaign.

I mean, this is rank hypocrisy of the worst kind.  I`ll be honest.  I`m glad I`m out of the intelligence community, out of the military, so, I don`t have to call this man my commander-in-chief to be very blunt. 

This is -- this is institutionalize lying, and I think we need to start getting to the bottom of what Mr. Trump`s relationship with the Kremlin really is.

Which is, as you said, Lawrence, he is at enormous pains over any of the subject to obfuscate, to make complicated when really I think the story here is very simple if we`re willing to see it with open eyes. 

O`DONNELL:  And David Frum, first thing this morning in tweets, Donald Trump accepted what the Russian statement was publicly about this.

Which is of course we had nothing to do with it, and everything in that "BuzzFeed" report is false.  So, say the Russians, therefore Donald Trump felt case closed, that proves the case.

FRUM:  Yes, you know, look, I don`t think people need to get so far ahead of the plain facts.

Maybe the Russians have compromising information on Donald Trump.  Maybe they don`t.  Maybe he`s beholden to individual Russian investors in some way, maybe he is not.

But here is what you see.  Is that his politics, his foreign policy internationally aligns with Putin, on everything from Crimea to Ukraine to Syria.

And his methods of governance at home have an authoritarian smack to them very like Putin`s.

So, the threats that to Jim Acosta, the attempt to use Trump`s own private bodyguards, of course, don`t answer the First Amendment the way government bodyguards would, and government guards would. 

To eject a reporter from a press conference.  Trump basically just admire and likes the way Vladimir Putin governs.

There may be no McGuffin at the end of this McGuffin trail.  You don`t need some big secret to say something very wrong is happening to American government.

The Russians are wrong about Crimea.  They`re wrong about Ukraine.  What they`re doing in Syria is an atrocity.

And no, we do not need private bodyguards around the president of the United States.

He should accept social -- I mean, he should accept the Secret Service and its lawful protection the way his predecessors have done. 

O`DONNELL:  McGuffin is going to have to be the last word on this segment.  Look it up, kids, it`s a screenwriting term.

Malcolm Nance, David Frum --

NANCE:  Thank you --

O`DONNELL:  John Schindler, thank you all for joining us --

SCHINDLER:  Thank you --

O`DONNELL:  Really appreciate it.  Coming up, at least one Republican senator is not convinced that Rex Tillerson should be the next Secretary of State.

And it only takes one Republican senator to stop his nomination.


O`DONNELL:  It only takes one.  If the Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee do not vote for Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State, it would only take one Republican vote defecting to the Democrats to block Tillerson`s nomination in the committee.

And as of tonight, there is one Republican holdout on that committee.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Have you decided how you`re going to vote? Did he answer your questions adequately about Russia in particular?

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA:  Well, many of his answers were concerning to me.  But you know, there`s a chance now to submit some questions in writing, which we`ll do as well.

We`ll go back and you know, I`ll consider everything.  I`ll read through it again and I`ll make a decision here very soon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Are you leaning one way or another?

RUBIO:  I wouldn`t characterize it that way quite yet. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Because if you make the decision and vote against him, you could stall this committee -- this nomination in committee.

Are you prepared to be the one Republican vote now?

RUBIO:  Well, I`m prepared to do what`s right. 


O`DONNELL:  Rex Tillerson faced many tough questions today from Democrats in this confirmation hearing.

But no one was tougher than Republican Senator Marco Rubio who now holds the key vote in the confirmation of Donald Trump`s Secretary of State.


RUBIO:  Based on your knowledge of Russian leaders and Russian politics, do you believe these activities could have happened without the knowledge and the consent of Vladimir Putin?

TILLERSON:  I`m not in a position to be able to make that determination.

RUBIO:  If someone is conducting cyber attacks against the United States and we pass a law that authorizes the president to sanction them or actually imposes these sanctions as mandatory, would you advise the president to sign it?

TILLERSON:  I think it is that second element that Senator that you just described that leaves the executive branch no latitudes or flexibility in dealing with the broad array of cyber threats. 

RUBIO:  Let me ask you this question.  Is Vladimir Putin a war criminal?

TILLERSON:  I would not use that term.

RUBIO:  Well, let me describe the situation in Aleppo, and perhaps that will help you reach that conclusion.

In Aleppo, Mr. Putin has directed his military to conduct a devastating campaign.

He`s targeted schools, markets, not just assisted the Syrians in doing it.  His military has targeted schools and markets and other civilian infrastructure.

It`s resulted in the death of thousands of civilians.  This is not the first time Mr. Putin is involved in campaigns of this kind.

Back when he was just appointed prime minister before he was elected, and I`m sure you`re aware of that period of time, there was a series of bombings.

And they blamed it on the Chechens, and Mr. Putin personally said that he would punish them.

And so, he ordered the Air Force to bomb the Chechen capital of Grozny.  They used scarred missiles to hit hospitals, the city`s main outdoor markets.

Attacked shoppers, 137 people died instantly, they used thermobaric and fuel air explosive bombs. 

These are the bombs that ignite and they burned the air breathed in by people who are hiding in basements.  They used cluster ammunitions.  He used battlefield weapons against civilians.

And when it was all said and done, an estimated 300,000 civilians were killed and the city was completely destroyed.

By the way, there`s credible body of reporting, open source and other that this was all those bombings were part of a black flag operation on the part of the FSB.

And if you want to know the motivation, here is what it is.  Putin`s approval ratings before the attacks against the Chechens was at 31 percent.

By mid-August of that year it was at 78 percent in just three months. 

So based on all this information, and what`s publicly in the record about what`s happened in Aleppo and the Russian military, you are still not prepared to say that Vladimir Putin and his military have violated the rules of war and have conducted war crimes in Aleppo?

TILLERSON:  Now, those are very serious charges to make.  And I would want to have much more information before reaching a conclusion. 

RUBIO:  There`s so much information out there.  It should not be hard to say that Vladimir Putin`s military has conducted war crimes in Aleppo.

I find it discouraging your inability to cite that, which I think is globally accepted.


O`DONNELL:  Will Senator Marco Rubio stop Rex Tillerson? That`s next.   



SEN. BOB MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY:  For all of these answers that you have given me, does the President-Elect agree with you?

REX TILLERSON, FMR. EXXON CEO:   the President-Elect and I have not had the opportunity to discuss this specific issue or this specific area.


O`DONNELL:  This specific area was Russia.  The issue was sanctions, the one area where Rex Tillerson is considered to know something.   Joining us now, Michael McAuliff Senior Congressional Reporter for the Huffington Post and Elise Jordan former senior policy adviser to Senator Rand Paul`s Campaign and an MSNBC political analyst.  Elise, many surprises in that hearing including Donald Trump has not discussed Russia with his future Secretary of State. if --if he can get by Marco Rubio`s vote, is it possible that Marco Rubio will take this stand against Rex Tillerson in this committee?

ELISE JORDAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  It`s going to be really interesting to see how Rubio plays this tomorrow because it`s going to -- how he votes for Tillerson after Tillerson gave answers that are just in direct contrast with what everything that Marco Rubio believe in, you know, human rights and expanding freedom and democracy around the world.  It`s going to be interesting to see if he can step up to the plate and make that tough call.  I was shocked though, that this was the -- that Tillerson was so shaky on how he answered a lot of the questions today.  This was really the huge issue going in.  That if you`re preparing Tillerson to go before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, you`re going prep him about human rights, responding to the questions, his background as a businessman.  How he is going to navigate human rights now that he is going to be Secretary of State.  And he wasn`t well prepared on that point.

O`DONNELL:  Michael, he did get all the answers right on Cuba for Marco Rubio.  He said that he would recommend against the President signing a repeal of the embargo and so forth.  So is that enough for Marco Rubio since obviously we showed a great deal of dissatisfaction that Marco Rubio had with Rex Tillerson today?

MICHAEL MCAULIFF, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, HUFFINGTON POST:  No, I don`t think so.  I mean the question about Vladimir Putin and about whether or not he was a war criminal and some of the other nations that Marco Rubio brought up, that didn`t satisfy him at all.  I mean you just watch his face, and he was not pleased.  And even on Cuba, I don`t believe that Tillerson pledged to completely undo the new policy that the Obama Administration has put in place.  So there is still a niggling doubt about that.

O`DONNELL:  Let`s listen to Senator Ed Markey, a democrat showing that there was no root to confirmation in that hearing for Rex Tillerson without disagreeing with Donald Trump.


SEN. ED MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS:  Mr. Tillerson, do you agree with President-Elect Trump when he said "it wouldn`t be a bad thing for us if Japan, South Korea, or Saudi Arabia acquired nuclear weapons?

TILLERSON:  Senator, I don`t think anyone advocates for more nuclear weapons on the planet.

 MARKEY:  Donald Trump said it would not be a bad thing.  Do you agree with that or disagree with that?

TILLERSON:  I do not agree.


O`DONNELL:  Elise, he did not dodge that one.  And Markey put it in a way that there wasn`t much dodge room.  Do you agree with that or not agree with it?

JORDAN:  When he -- I mean he had a few other points that he contrasted with Donald Trump specifically, he said that he supported the transpacific partnership.  And he also, you know, this just with that, with not supporting more nukes in the world.  You`ve got some key contrasts.  And we`ve seen that with several cabinet nominees in their initial hearings.  And I think it`s when you have Donald Trump who is so all over the place, you`re inevitably going have this kind of discord come to the surface.

O`DONNELL:  Michael, I can`t think of a series of confirmation hearings in which this has been a richer opportunity to show very specific disagreements between the nominee and the President as Ed Markey did today on nuclear weapons.

MCAULIFF:  No, I can`t remember one like that either.  And but part of that is that sort of interesting dynamic, if you want to call it interesting, where Trump would say things, and there are people out there who say oh, he didn`t really mean that.  These are things that nobody really means.  So then when you disagree with him, it`s not that terrible if you don`t call him a bad name while you do it.

O`DONNELL:  It turns out words have meaning in senate confirmation hearings.

JORDAN:  We`re supposed to look into Trump`s heart too and not what only what he said.

O`DONNELL:  Yes, that`s right.  He`s heart.  He`s not in the confirmation room today.  Michael McAuliff, Elise Jordan, thank you both for joining us.  Coming up, the head of the government ethics office responds to Donald Trump`s and his family`s plan to handle conflicts of interest.


O`DONNELL:  Yesterday`s Quinnipiac Poll shows that 53 percent of Americans think Donald Trump is not honest.  And it turns out that Donald Trump`s plan for eliminating conflicts of interest in his business depends entirely on how honest you think he is.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:  My two sons, who are right here, Don and Eric are going to be running the company.  They are going to be running it in a very professional manner.  They`re not going to discuss it with me.


O`DONNELL:  after that, the head of the office of government ethics gave this response.

WALTER SHAUB, DIRECTOR, U.S. OFFICE OF GOVERNMENT ETHICS:  The plan the President has announced doesn`t meet the standards that the best of his nominees are meeting and that every President in the past four decades has met.  The idea of setting up a trust to hold his operating businesses adds nothing to the equation.  This is not a blind trust.  It`s not even close. I don`t think divestiture is too high a price to pay to be the President of the United States of America.

O`DONNELL:  Joining us now Ron Klain, former Chiefs Of Staff to Vice President`s Joe Biden and Al Gore. Also David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize winning Journalist and columnist with the Daily Beast.  He is the author of The Making of Donald Trump.  Ron, you have dealt with these kinds of situation before nothing probably this massive.  But getting people through senate confirmation hearings who had to get through that Office of Government Ethics standard that the director was just talking about.  What do you make of the Donald Trump plan announced today?

RON KLAIN, FMR CHIEF OF STAFF, VICE PRESIDENT UNITED STATES:  Well, the Donald Trump plan isn`t a plan at all.  As many people said today, it`s not blind. And it`s not something we can trust.  He is basically going to continue to allow private interests to put money in his pocket through his business.  He is going to have his sons run the business.  And he`s going to profit from it.  And the possibility of corruption and conflict of interest is rife.  He ran for President.  He`s going to be our President.  He needs to get out of the business and get back to the matter of running our country.

O`DONNELL:  David, Donald Trump says today he promises he`ll just never discuss business with his sons.

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, JOURNALIST:  Yes, right.  And I`m never going to discuss business with my children either.  That`s absurd.  And Donald himself today made something very revealing about this.  He said he was approached by a man he went at great length as a friend from Dubai who offered him $2 billion to go into a development with him.  Trump didn`t say I told him to get the hell out of my office and not darken my door.  He sent a message to everybody else who wants to put money in the family`s pockets, don`t come to me.  Go talk to my sons. O`DONNELL: And Ron what do you make of how the emoluments clause affects Donald Trump now? I thought his lawyer made an interesting point today. for example on the Washington Hotel saying that if someone from a foreign country or anyone goes in there and pays for hotel room, pays the market rate for that hotel room, that that`s just a fair trade. That`s not a gift. That`s not an emolument. What did you make of that point made by the lawyer? KLAIN: Well it`s just wrong. I mean an emolument is any payment whether it`s a gift or whatever from a foreign government. And that hotel is going to be open for business. Foreign governments aren`t just going to book hotel rooms there. They`ll throw lavish parties and put all kinds of money into that and into Donald Trump`s pocket. Look there is nothing that protects against conflicts or blind trusts in the Trump plan. In fact the only specific promise he had made, that he would stop building new hotels if he became President he took back and said his company is going to build new facilities on the domestic side of his president (ph). That means banks will be lending him -- his company money. People will be financing and permitting these things. The opportunity for all kinds of horrible conflicts and corruption are just rife in the plans he outlined today. O`DONNELL: David, it`s clear that divestiture, which is to say selling the assets as the Office of Government and Ethics would prefer is the cleanest way but nothing is perfect because for example you can ingratiate yourself by overpaying for some of those assets. And he would know that you did. And have reasons to be very grateful that you did. JOHNSTON: Well there -- actually there is a solution to that. And that is you put everything into a trust. An independent person with a history of being a business broker then on the lines and sells all of the assets. And there is full disclosure of the prices that were paid. That would I think actually solve the problem. But Donald doesn`t care about this. This is to Donald, you know, this is silliness on the part of you people who think and talk about ethics and what not, you know, I`m president now. And people don`t want to see my tax returns or anything else. And stop questioning me including you people in the intelligence services. O`DONNELL: Ron Klain, David Cay Johnston, thank you both for joining us tonight, appreciate it. KLAIN: Thanks, Lawrence. JOHNSTON: Thank you. O`DONNELL: Coming up next, why Senators save their best jokes for the Senate floor tonight. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: These are the nights in the Senate when the best jokes get told. it`s a vote-a-rama night in the Senate for the budget resolution, the night when the Senators have long periods of time to actually talk to each other without much to do there on the Senate floor. See there? They`re talking to each other down there. They don`t have a lot to do between votes. And so almost all of the best jokes that you will ever hear from Senators begin with so and so told me this one during a vote-a-rama. It always begins the same way. But tonight`s vote-a-rama is about the serious thing the Congress will try to do this year, repeal and replace Obamacare. Nothing about that is fun. Nothing about that is easy. The repealing part will take at least two different major pieces of legislation and so will the replacement part. And no one know what`s the replacement part, or more importantly when the replacement part will suddenly appear. No one knows what it is or when it will exist. Donald Trump is doing everything he can to make repeal and replace as difficult as possible, and so are Rand Paul and other Republican Senators who are demanding that the senate vote on replacement at the same time that it votes on repeal. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: We`re going to be submitting as soon as our Secretary is approved almost simultaneously, shortly thereafter a plan. It will be repeal and replace. It will be essentially simultaneously. It will be various segments, you understand, but it will most likely be on the same day or the same week but probably the same day. It could be the same hour. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: The degree of legislative difficulty there verges on the impossible. Nothing like that has ever been done and Mitch Mcconnell knows that which is why he and House Republican Leadership have been floating the idea of repeal and delay. simply repeal Obamacare then delay the enactment of the actual repeal for as many as a few years in order to use that time to figure out something that Republicans have never been able to figure out in the seven years that they`ve been thinking about it. And that of course is how to replace Obamacare. The Republicans rude awakening on Obamacare is upon them right there on the Senate floor. That`s next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me be very clear. This budget resolution is not repeal and replace. It is one thing and one thing only. The first step of repealing the affordable care act, ripping health care away from tens of millions of Americans and throwing our health care system into chaos. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Joining us now Ana Marie Cox, senior political correspodent for NTV News. Also joining Kurt Andersen the host of the public radio program studio 360. Chuck Schumer said in his first interview it was done in this building with Rachel Maddow will became a leader. The republicans just might get stuck, and they might not get anywhere. And no one really listened to him when he was saying that. But the evidence is mounting they are already spinning their wheels in the mud here a little bit. ANA MARIE COX, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, I mean I think the only good news to take out of the Trump press conference is that besides the fact that Buzzfeed is clearly going to succeed since he`s not (INAUDIBLE) business, is that his answer to the questions about the ACA and Obamacare was so incoherent that I think it gives us hope that the ACA will survive because he is basically setting up the Republican Congress to fail. Like you cannot pass a replacement that is both cheaper and better coverage. Like literally that is impossible. That`s a financial impossibility. Ask him actually to explain it to you if you must. And so I think what he is going to do is set up situation where they can`t produce a replacement plan that fits the criteria that Trump says. And Trump actually, the Congresswoman who said that they`re going to do something -- KURT ANDERSEN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Congresswoman Rogers who said oh nobody is going to loose their Obamacare coverage which of course is exactly the phrase that killed Obama on Obamacare. Nobody is going to have to change their coverage. COX: Right. ANDERSEN: No, it`s extraordinary. It is the dog who`s caught the car and then the dog being the Republican caucus is going to be run over by the car. I mean it`s -- I just -- COX: Or dragged. I think we`re going to be dragged along. ANDERSEN: I don`t think how -- well first of all, the idea that there is going to be replacement that they`re just trying to figure out enacted simultaneously with this repeal? O`DONNELL: Right. You know that is an impossibility. And there are two different legislative vehicles that you need. And they`re going to have to move weeks apart at the closest point in the calendar. But we see Rand Paul, one of the first cracks I noticed last week. Rand Paul just saying -- he doesn`t have to say I`m opposed to what you`re doing. All he has to say is we need to do the replacement at the same time. That`s the Republican code language for what you`re trying to do is crazy. And if you hold them to that rule, you are in effect blocking them. That`s what Rand Paul I think knows. COX: Yes and if you hold them to everything else that they have said. Ironically, the only thing that Trump has said that has made sense as far as like making improvements through Obamacare is doing both Medicare drug buys which is a completely liberal socialist solution. ANDERSEN: Exactly right. You would think that his advisers -- we were talking before, that his adviser Jared Kushner, whose brother runs a health insurance company in New York City that my daughter gets her insurance from. O`DONNELL: Full disclosure here. I like that. ANDERSEN: It`s essentially he is an Obamacare profiteer. So Jared Kushner, doesn`t say Mr. President, dad, this can`t work for reason X, Y and Z. O`DONNELL: And are they just not worried about Donald Trump promises? We`ve already seen for example that Mexico will pay for the wall. That has evaporated. And they don`t seem worried about that. They don`t seem to feel like they`re going to be held to that promise. They`re just going to be held to doing something on the southern border. And is that the way the Trump camp is betting that the whole Obamacare thing plays, and that whatever Donald Trump says about the details doesn`t matter? COX: Well, the alarming thing I mean if we can take it as somewhat good news about his confusion of the very nature of insurance might mean that the ACA survives? But the underlying bad news is the same terrifying piece of news we`ve had since he first stepped on the national stage, which he doesn`t know what the hell -- heck he is talking about most of the time. And he can`t be trusted on anything. I mean we don`t know if he means what he says from moment to moment. His own spokespeople said we don`t know what he means moment to moment. O`DONNELL: We use to debate whether that was a good thing. For example. Ted Cruz knows exactly what he thinks about everything. And I remember people debating would it be better to have Trump as the Republican President if you ever had one because he actually doesn`t believe anything and is soft on all these issues. ANDERSEN: Right, the thing about ACA though as supposed to the wall is there are 20 million people that have subsidized health insurance by a Medicaid or subsidies who if you repeal it, and don`t replace that, there is going to be millions of unhappy people. COX: Not unhappy. Dead people. I mean like this is not -- I mean let`s not. I mean there are people and something close to my heart that doesn`t get mentioned here is that one of the big revolutions of the ACA was coverage for drug addiction care and treatment and mental health treatment if that goes away, we`re in the middle of an opioid epidemic. It`s killing more people than guns. And you know this is a very serious thing. So if it takes, you know, if Trump`s wishy-washiness and lack of a moral core means we get to keep ACA, sure. That`s a good thing. O`DONNELL: You know I started this with Senators joking on the vote-a-rama floor tonight. And Ana Marie, I`m really glad you brought this down to the real reality of people out there who depend on this. Ana Marie Cox thank you very much for joining us. Kurt Andersen, Thank you. We`re going to be right back. COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: In my day in undergraduate school, on graduate school. Phrase was there was a number seeker. One nuclear weapon can ruin your day. One can cause hideous damage. With that knowledge over the course of the decade we`ve negotiated agreements to reduce and control the world`s supply of nuclear weapons (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: One nuclear weapon can ruin your day. That was the Vice President speaking today about the danger of nuclear weapons. What the Obama Administration has done to reduce that threat. A former Secretary of Defense who is worried about Donald Trump`s positions on nuclear weapons will join us tomorrow night here on The Last Word with his important warnings about this. MSNBC`s live coverage continues into the 11th hour now. That`s next. BRIAN WILLIAMS, JOURNALIST: Tonight a news conference unlike any we have ever seen from a President-Elect. Open warfare between Donald Trump and members of the news media. Also tonight, a whole new assault on American intelligence, comparison`s to Nazi Germany and Trump`s explanation about what he`ll do with the family business. Plus the confirmation hearing that got lost in the drama from Trump Tower. The nominee END