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The Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 1/16/2017

Guests: Guest: Jonathan Capehart, Mark Thompson, Wesley Clark, Richard Stengel, Steven Brill

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: January 16, 2017 Guest: Jonathan Capehart, Mark Thompson, Wesley Clark, Richard Stengel, Steven Brill

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

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Rachel, it sounds like you have a new co- host for 2017.

A two shot of you and Ike.

MADDOW: You know, I`m just hoping that -- I don`t think we get the chair that he comes in.

So, I think we`re going to have to get a proper chair fitted to him and why not have it be one of the studio chairs.

He could just be here if I need to step out for some reason.

O`DONNELL: Why not?

MADDOW: Exactly --

O`DONNELL: We`re ready --

MADDOW: Thank you. All right, thank you my dear --

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel. Well, we don`t know exactly what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. would have said about Donald Trump, but it probably would have sounded a lot like something he said about another Republican.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trump battling Congressman John Lewis after the civil rights icon questioned the legitimacy of his soon-to-be presidency.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The reaction so far from the Trump transition teams has been -- Congressman Lewis started it, Donald Trump is simply returning fire.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, INCOMING WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: We even welcome the calls from Congressman Lewis --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: John Lewis did give a very emotional speech to a young crowd here in Miami, remembering Martin Luther King`s legacy, and he did elude to the controversy.

REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have a moral obligation to do something, to say something and not be quiet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More Democrats join in the inauguration boycott after the president-elect hits back at a civil rights icon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s just nothing normal about what`s happening here.

STEVEN KORNACKI, MSNBC: We are dealing with somebody who is going to conduct the business of the presidency very differently than anybody before him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Donald Trump talking about NATO being obsolete.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We heard the exact opposite from his nominee to be the Secretary of Defense James Mattis just last week.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It just continues to feed the suspicion that he is cozying up to Putin in an extraordinary way.


O`DONNELL: What would Martin Luther King Jr. think of Donald Trump?

What would he have said about Donald Trump during the presidential campaign if he had not been assassinated in the middle of the presidential campaign of 1968?

Dr. King would be 88 years old today, and we are left to wonder what he would say about Donald Trump as we have been left to wonder what he would say about everything since April 4th, 1968.

Here`s one possibility of what Martin Luther King Jr. would have said if he had been alive to witness the Trump presidential campaign.


MARTIN LUTHER KING JR., LATE LEADER OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT: He is definitely an unacceptable candidate.

I think in foreign policy he sets forth an idea which can very easily form a whole civilized world into the abyss of annihilation.

I think on domestic issues generally, he gives the philosophy that is out of harmony with the 20th century.

And in civil rights, I think he articulates a philosophy which serves to give aid and comfort to the racists.


O`DONNELL: Aid and comfort to the racists. Standing with Martin Luther King Jr. when he said that was his then junior partner in the civil rights movement John Lewis.


LEWIS: Mr. Clinton, I don`t see how any decent American can support a man like Barry Goldwater.

He`s a man who rallied people around hatred, people like the Ku Klux Klan and members of the white (INAUDIBLE) council and the John Berg(ph) society.


O`DONNELL: Barry Goldwater was the 1964 Republican nominee for president, he lost in a landslide to Lyndon Johnson.

But he was strongly supported in that campaign by Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, both of whom would go on to win their own presidential campaigns.

Martin Luther King Jr. would most likely have seen the same faults in Donald Trump that he saw in Barry Goldwater.

He would likely have objected to Donald Trump`s foreign policy as he did to Goldwater`s.

And to Donald Trump`s giving aid and comfort to the racists, which Donald Trump had energetically been doing for five years before he became the Republican nominee by advancing an endless stream of lies about President Obama`s birth.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: Three weeks ago, I thought he was born in this country. Right now, I have some real doubts.

I have people that actually have been studying it and they cannot believe what they`re finding.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have people now down there --

TRUMP: Absolutely --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Searching, I mean, in Hawaii? --

TRUMP: Absolutely, and they cannot believe what they`re finding.


O`DONNELL: Into that same home where Donald Trump launched his campaign of hatred and lies about President Obama`s birth five years ago, Martin Luther King Jr`s oldest son had to walk today.

Every minute he was in Trump Tower today, Martin Luther King III was walking an invisible tight rope.

He was there to try to convince Donald Trump to take a step, a small step in the right direction on voting rights.

And so, he didn`t want to say anything negative about Donald Trump. When he was leaving his meeting with Donald Trump, he was asked that question that has become his life-long burden, what would your father think?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On this day, what would your father`s message be to a president like Trump?

What do you think your father`s message would be to a president like Trump?

MARTIN LUTHER KING III, SON OF MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.: This is the final answer I`m going to have because I`m going to reiterate what I just said.

I think my father would be very concerned about the fact that there are 50 or 60 million people living in poverty, and somehow we`ve got to create a climate for all voters to be lifted.

In America with a multi-trillion dollar economy, $23 trillion almost, it`s insanity that we have poor people in this nation.

That`s unacceptable. And when we work together, we know we can roll up our sleeves. There`s nothing that we as Americans can`t do. Thank you very much.


O`DONNELL: That was a tough tight rope to be on today. Martin Luther King III could have said everything that he could imagine his father saying about Donald Trump, and then instantly lose any chance of influencing Donald Trump.

But Martin Luther King III wants to encourage Donald Trump to find ways to provide cheap IDs, perhaps free passports or photos on Social Security cards to people who don`t have any photo IDs so that they will be able to comply with voter ID laws.

He wants to enable more people to vote. That was one of his father`s life`s missions.

That`s why Martin Luther King III was at Trump Tower today. And so, here`s how he handled the question that he knew was coming about his father`s friend, now a member of Congress, John Lewis.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were you offended by the president-elect`s tweet that Representative Lewis is all talk and no action?

KING III: Well, first of all, I think that in the heat of emotion, a lot of things get said on both sides.

And I think that at some point -- I am, as John Lewis and many others are, a bridge builder.

The goal is to bring America together and Americans. We are a great nation, but we must become a greater nation.

And what my father represented, my mother represented through her life, what I hope that I am trying to do is always bring people together.


O`DONNELL: Thirty two other members of Congress are joining John Lewis in his announced boycott of the Trump inauguration ceremony.

A boycott that is likely to be felt by television networks, now that Donald Trump is the most unpopular president to be inaugurated since the invention of polling.

He has the lowest approval rating of any president on inauguration day, polling now in a Gallup poll at 40 percent.

Here is Congressman John Lewis today at a scholarship breakfast for young African-American men.


LEWIS: And if it wasn`t for Martin Luther King Jr., I don`t know where I would be.

I could still be in rural Alabama, maybe preaching to chickens.


If it hasn`t been for Martin Luther King Jr., I wouldn`t be a member of the House of Representatives since 1987.

If it hadn`t been for Martin Luther King Jr., I don`t know what would have happened to our nation.

He freed us. He helped liberate us to make our nation a better place, to make our world a better place.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Jonathan Capehart; Pulitzer Prize-winning opinion writer for "The Washington Post" and an MSNBC contributor.

Also with us, Mark Thompson; host of "Make it Plain" on "Sirius Xm" radio. And Jonathan, I don`t really presume to lead this discussion today.

I`d like to get your reactions to where we stand tonight in this controversy between John Lewis, Donald Trump and on this anniversary of Martin Luther King Day.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, OPINION WRITER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, when it comes to the set-to between Congressman John Lewis and President-elect Trump, I think we can get bogged down in the distraction of the battle between the two of them.

And lose sight of the fact that you have a president-elect who is doing battle with a sitting member of Congress.

And you know, there are contentious relationships here in this city. That`s not what`s new.

What is new is a president-elect and soon-to-be president, who cannot let any slight go.

And so any criticism, any negative critique of him will be met with -- from him, with sort of devastating insult and impact via Twitter and other means.

And at some point, as everyone for months have been waiting for Donald Trump to act presidential.

If there was -- if there ever was a moment, if there ever was a day, if there was ever -- if there ever was a person for whom that could happen, it was today, Martin Luther King Day and with Congressman Lewis and yet he didn`t do that.

And when it comes to Martin Luther King III as with other people, particularly African-Americans, Steve Harvey comes to mind in particular.

The idea that everyone is going -- trooping to Trump Tower in a rational exercise to deal with and talk to the incoming president of the United States.

When that person has shown in multiple ways that he is nice to your face and then the moment you walk out of the room, he`s not.

He will go after you on Twitter, and what he promises to do for you in that room could change at a moment.

And that`s why always I have been telling people to not necessarily listen to what Donald Trump says, but to pay attention exactly to what he does.

And that is going to become paramount at 12:01 on January 20th.

O`DONNELL: Mark, your reactions and feelings today?

MARK THOMPSON, RADIO HOST: Well, first of all, and happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Lawrence, and thanks for having me.

I think that John Lewis is deserving of all of the respect we can give him.

He was bloodied on our behalf. We would not be able to vote if it weren`t for him.

He is the conscience of the Congress and he`s an American hero. If John Lewis said that I am not legitimate, I`d have to go look in the mirror.


He might be justified because of his stature. He was an apostle of Dr. King.

I don`t know what`s worse, Donald Trump lashing out at him and insulting him the way he did.

Or the rumors we are hearing that, that tweet is just his standard boilerplate template for all black elected officials.

And that he may not have known who John Lewis was at the time. They`re both pretty equal but neither one is good.

For someone to have questioned the legitimacy of President Obama for over five years throughout most of his administration, he`s in no place to challenge John Lewis in terms of questioning his legitimacy.

And even if we put Russia aside, that excellent quote, that excellent clip of Dr. King that you played is directly applicable to Donald Trump because he has given aid and comfort to racists.

So, even if we didn`t know about Russia, that questions his very legitimacy.

As far as my dear friend Martin III, I spoke with Dr. James Forbes, he`s a former pastor of Riverside Church.

Which was a job Dr. King actually covered before he was called to Montgomery.

He wanted to come here and pastor Riverside and teach. He was in a meeting, Dr. Forbes, and he said to me, and this is the difference between the meeting Steve Harvey and other entertainers had too, Jonathan.

They went in there with a demand --

O`DONNELL: Yes, they did --

THOMPSON: Which is what Dr. King did. He didn`t go meet with presidents without a demand.

And so, they went with a demand and Dr. Forbes also said Martin III felt that he had a responsibility, especially on his father`s birthday to inform Donald Trump what would be expected of him by Martin Luther King Jr.

O`DONNELL: Yes, I get it. It was a difficult tight rope, and I understand --


Why he was there, and I understand why he handled it the way he did.

I also understand Jonathan`s point about, you know, you got to be careful about who you`re talking to --


O`DONNELL: There. To the question of Donald Trump even knowing the history of somewhat he`s been embroiled in all weekend.

He apparently knows nothing about heroes. He was asked in this new interview in the "London Sunday Times", does he have any heroes?

And the question was put to him throughout human history. Anyone in human history that he could think of.

And listen to this answer from Donald Trump. "Well, I don`t like heroes. I don`t like the concept of heroes.

The concept of heroes is never great, but certainly you can respect certain people, and certainly there are certain people that I have learned a lot from.

My father, my father was a builder in Brooklyn and Queens, he did houses and housing, and I learned a lot about negotiation from my father.

Also, a lot about negotiations and natural trade. I don`t think you can -- either you have it or you don`t, you better get -- you`re better at it but basically, you get better.

But basically, people that I know who are great negotiators and great sales men, and great politicians, it`s very natural, very natural.

I got a letter from somebody there, a congressman, they said that what you`ve done is amazing because you were never a politician and you beat all the politicians.

He said they added up when I was three months into the campaign, they added up.

And I had three months of experience, and the 17 guys I was running against, the Republicans had 236 years.

You know, when you add 20 years and 30 years, and so, I was three months in and they were 236 years.

And so it`s sort of funny article, but I believe it`s like hitting a baseball or being a good golfer, natural ability to me is much more important to me than experience.

And experience is a great thing, and I think it`s a great thing. But I learned a lot from my father in terms of leadership."

That is Donald Trump`s comment about the entire human history --

THOMPSON: All right --

O`DONNELL: Of leadership or heroes. Jonathon Capehart, the only two people he can mention in extension about heroes -- the question about heroes are himself, mostly --


O`DONNELL: And a glancing reference to his father.

THOMPSON: Right --

CAPEHART: A little more than a glancing reference to his father. But I mean, we`ve heard this before, he reveres his father like he reveres himself more.

And he can`t possibly imagine that there is anyone else in human history who has shown any kind of leadership or any -- or showed any ability that is worthy of reverence.

We are sitting here in this country, living among living legends, and one of them is Congressman Lewis.

And one thing I forgot to mention in my comment to your first question, and that I have another member of Congress to add to the 33 that you noted are not coming to Donald Trump`s inauguration.

And that is California Congresswoman Karen Bass who on Sunday, yesterday, went -- took to Facebook live to ask her constituents whether she should come to Washington to the inauguration.

And I learned from her tonight that she is staying in her district through Sunday.

So, what we`re seeing here are members of Congress who are staying away as a show of conscience.

And for a lot of them, it`s a show of leadership in terms of leading their constituents and what they want.

And then the day after the inauguration, we`re going to see lots of people come to Washington in their way to show leadership and take in ownership of their own futures.

O`DONNELL: Yes, and so breaking news from Jonathan Capehart with Karen Bass.

We now have a total of 34 members of Congress, Mark Thompson, who are openly boycotting this inauguration.

And it`s going to be really a two-day event, in that what happens on Saturday in the protest is a response to what`s going on, on Friday.

THOMPSON: Absolutely. And if Dr. King were alive, and if Coretta Scott King were alive, I have no doubts that they would be --


O`DONNELL: You think you know which day they would be there?

THOMPSON: They would be --


THOMPSON: They would be there on Saturday, and I intend to be there on Saturday to support the women`s march.

So, yes, that`s where Dr. King would be. And even in all of this, what Martin did today, what John Lewis is doing, these are the things that Dr. King would be doing if he were alive.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan Capehart, Mark Thompson, thank you both for joining us on this important day, appreciate it.

THOMPSON: Thank you.

CAPEHART: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Donald Trump continued his campaign against the U.S. intelligence community, and then of course managed to insult NATO, managed to insult one of our allies.

The former NATO Supreme Commander General Wesley Clark will be here and former Undersecretary of State Rick Stengel will join us on that.

Also Donald Trump proved that even he doesn`t speak for Donald Trump. Maybe he proved that.

We`ll find out if his promises on healthcare actually are fulfilled.


O`DONNELL: More quotations from Donald Trump. This is from the extraordinary "London Sunday Times" interview, Donald Trump`s grandfather was German of course, his mother was from Scotland.

He was asked this question. "Is there anything typically German about you?" Here`s Donald Trump`s answer to that question.

"I like order. I like things done in an orderly manner." And certainly, the Germans, that`s something that they`re rather well-known for.

But I do, I like order, and I like strength." We`ll be right back.



JOHN BRENNAN, DIRECTOR, CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY: I don`t think he has a full -- an appreciation of Russian capabilities, Russians intentions and actions that they are undertaking in many parts of the world.


O`DONNELL: That was CIA Director John Brennan talking of course about Donald Trump yesterday.

Donald Trump replied on Twitter, "Fox News", "outgoing CIA Chief John Brennan blasts President-elect Trump on Russia threat, does not fully understand -- oh, really?

Couldn`t do much worse, just look at Syria, red line, Crimea, Ukraine and the build up of Russian nukes, not good.

Was this the leaker of fake news?" In an interview with the "Times of London", Donald Trump saw no difference between Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin.

He was asked, who would you trust more, Angela Merkel or Vladimir Putin?

And he actually said, "well, I started off trusting both." Donald Trump sees no difference between the dictator Vladimir Putin and the democratically elected leader Angela Merkel, one of our most reliable allies.

He was then asked if he could understand why eastern Europeans fear Vladimir Putin and Russia.

Those are the exact words of the question. And he gave an answer that sounded as if he did not understand the question.

Here are Donald Trump`s actual words and answer to the question, can you understand why eastern Europeans fear Putin and Russia?

Here`s his answer. "Sure, oh, sure, I know that. I mean, I understand what`s going on.

I said a long time ago that NATO had problems. Number one, it was obsolete because it was, you know, designed many years ago.

Number two, the countries aren`t paying what they`re supposed to be paying. I took such heat and when I said NATO is obsolete, it`s obsolete because it wasn`t taking care of terror.

I took a lot of heat for two days, and then they started saying Trump is right.

And now, it was on the front page of the "Wall Street Journal", they have a whole division devoted now to terror, which is good.

And the other thing is the countries aren`t paying their fair share, and so, we`re supposed to protect countries.

But a lot of these countries aren`t paying what they`re supposed to be paying.

Which I think is very unfair to the United States. With that being said, NATO is very important to me."

Now, remember, the question was not, is NATO important? The question was, "can you understand why eastern Europeans fear Putin and Russia?"

And there`s not a hint. Not a hint that Donald Trump understands that at all or even understands that question.

Joining us now, General Wesley Clark, NATO Supreme Allied Commander from 1997 to 2000.

He`s a senior fellow at the UCLA Berkeley Center, and Richard Stengel; a former undersecretary of state for public diplomacy from 2013 through 2016.

He`s now an MSNBC contributor. General Clark, finally, Donald Trump did get the sentence out, NATO is very important to me.

After all those other hard-to-follow sentences about how dissatisfied he is with NATO.

And apparently, no comprehension at all, none, as to why anyone in Europe would fear Vladimir Putin and Russia.

WESLEY CLARK, RETIRED GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES ARMY: Yes, I look at it as a sort of posturing before he goes into office.

He, for some reason, doesn`t want to say anything bad about Vladimir Putin.

And fine, but let`s see what the policies look like when he gets in office.

I can understand why maybe he doesn`t want to go in and start a verbal war with Putin before he gets in office.

But our allies are judging his potential actions by his words. And there are a lot of people in Europe that are frightened by what Mr. Trump has said.

So, I think it`s one thing to posture. I think he can probably get away with it because he`s not a knowledge expert on foreign policy.

But I think it`s another thing when he gets in office, he`s going to have to be realistic, he`s going to have to reflect U.S. policies or he`s going to have to change those policies.

And you know, for 100 years, we`ve been trying to make the world safe for democracy, we walk back from that, it will be a big change.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what his Defense Secretary, his nominated not yet confirmed Defense Secretary said about NATO.


JAMES MATTIS, RETIRED UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS GENERAL: Senator, if we did not have NATO today, we would need to create it. NATO is vital to our national interest.


O`DONNELL: Rick Stengel, it makes you wonder what they talked about when Donald Trump was having a discussion with him about joining the cabinet.

It doesn`t sound like they talked about NATO.

RICHARD STENGEL, JOURNALIST & AUTHOR: I wouldn`t even speculate about that, Lawrence.

But I mean, I would agree with it Defense Secretary designate. NATO is the greatest alliance that has been created in the history of the world.

We are the architect of that alliance. And in fact, diplomacy is about alliance, which is something that Mr. Trump doesn`t seem to understand.

You don`t renegotiate in an alliance like a lease when you come in to office. He built on 70 years of history that`s kept the peace in Europe as General Clark said.

From the 20th century, we had 100 million young men died in wars. There`s been no world war since then, and part of the reason for that is NATO.

O`DONNELL: General Clark, what is your sense of how the discussion is going to go in the -- in the White House about NATO as opposed to what the Defense Secretary has to say about it?

CLARK: Well, I think the Defense Secretary is going to have a big say as to what happens in the White House.

So, I think that what they`re going to try to do is trade off what they can -- how much support they can get from Russia to deal with ISIS to freeze out Iran.

And maybe trade that off against the policies on NATO. And this would be a shame because the Russians really do understand linkage.

What they did in Crimea, by seizing it illegally, what they`re doing today in Ukraine by keeping other parts, so, these are real threats to the stability of Europe.

Of what`s happening in the Middle East is different. And so, it`s fine to try to work with Russia.

But they have to ameliorate or change their behavior. It`s not just a matter of personalities of leaders.

It`s different perceptions of national interest and different behavior of nations.

O`DONNELL: When Secretary Kerry was negotiating the Iran deal, there seemed to be the controlling principle of we are only going to talk about the possibility of nuclear weapons.

We`re not going to bring in other factors. Donald Trump is already doing that.

I mean, he`s already publicly said, he is willing to drop sanctions if Vladimir Putin enters into some kind of limitation on nuclear weapons, which is an unrelated issue to why the sanctions were imposed.

STENGEL: Right, and linkage is not always a good thing. And in fact, the problem is that -- let me answer the question the "Sunday Times" asked.

Why are people -- why are countries, why are the Baltics afraid about Russia? --


STENGEL: I interviewed Putin in 2007, and that`s when he said for the first time, the greatest tragedy of the 28th century was the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Those countries, the Baltics; Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, were part of the old Soviet Union. They look at Russia next door as revanchist. That is, they want to recreate themselves.

They are afraid that Putin will invade them. They are afraid that Putin will question article five of the NATO agreement which says "one country has to come to the aid of all if they`re invaded."

If Putin sends a tank into Latvia, he`s betting the U.S. will not intervene and Donald Trump might not.

O`DONNELL: We`re going to have to leave it there for tonight. General Wesley Clark, Rick Stengel, thank you both very much for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.

CLARK: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, many other senators leading rallies across the country over the weekend in support of the preservation of the Affordable Care Act. That`s next.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: If Republicans try to rip healthcare out of the hands of millions of Americans, we will fight them every step of the way.

(END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: That is Elizabeth Warren on the steps of historic hall in Boston yesterday. Thousands of people showed up for the rally. Democratic Senators held rallies across the country yesterday to protest Republican plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act. In Michigan, a rally had to be moved outside to accommodate thousands of overflow who showed up to see Senator Bernie Sanders who said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Today, from Maine to California there are 70 rallies. And tens and tens of thousands of Americans are saying loudly and clearly, Republicans, you are not going to destroy the Affordable Care Act.

(END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: More than 150 people showed up to Republican Congressman Mike Coffman`s meeting with constituents in Aurora, Colorado on Saturday. Representative Coffman has voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Here is the local NBC`s station`s report of what happened at his meeting with constituents.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "I`m going to potentially lose my health insurance. I had - I`ve had pre-existing condition. I`ve have had breast cancer. What`s going to happen to me?"

UNIDENTIFED MALE: And while they were singing and waiting, police were putting up crime scene tape so Coffman could leave.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Make sure you hear all your constituent.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: Six minutes before the event was supposed to end.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were told at one point everyone would get their time and he sneaks out six minutes early. I think he couldn`t handle it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Last night Robert Coston and Aimee Goldstein got a big scoop for the Washington Post reporting that Donald Trump told them, "We`re going to have insurance for everybody." There was a philosophy in some circles that if you can`t pay for it you don`t get it. That`s not going to happen with us.

Donald Trump offered no other details other than to say, "It will be in much simplified form, much less expensive and much better." Dr. Howard Dean and the author of America`s Bitter Pill, the Definitive book about Obamacare will join us. That`s Steven Brill. They will both join us next


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: Healthcare is a right enshrined Republican to allow you. We are a nation where we pledge to liberty and justice for all. There is no justice if there is no health care. And we know, if there is no struggle, there is no peace.

(END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Joining us Dr. Howard Dean, former Governor of Vermont, former Chairman of the Democratic National Committee and an MSNBC Political Analyst. Also with us Steven Brill, journalist and the author of America`s Bitter Pill, money, politics, backroom deals and the fight to fix our broken healthcare system. That is the Definitive Volume on legislating Obamacare.

Dr. Dean, we have a set of principles anyway laid down by Donald Trump which might amount to either what he delivers or basically attack lines for Democrats to use on what he doesn`t deliver. For example, now telling the Washington Post health insurance, health care for everybody. That`s, of course, the slang for universal coverage, as they say. That`s the standard he`s laid down now. If he doesn`t deliver that, then he is not delivering on his promise.

HOWARD DEAN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. You know, for all of the things we say about Trump that are unattractive, he does have political instincts and he does know where people are headed. And he said something that was very smart politically but I suspect he has absolutely no -- first of all, I suspect he didn`t consult with anyone in his administration. And secondly, I suspect he has no idea on how he`s going to deliver this. And it`s going to be quite a spectacle to see what happens as this goes down the line.

O`DONNELL: So Steve, Kellyanne Conway was on Greta Van Susteren show earlier tonight. She laid down some of her items she believes will be in the Trump plan. Buy health insurance over state lines. What does that do?

STEVE BRILL, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: Right. Well, have you ever heard of a company called AETNA, the United Health Care?

O`DONNELL: Yes. Yes.

BRILL: They sell insurance in more than one state.

O`DONNELL: Kind of everywhere I looked.

BRILL: The difference is what they`re suggesting is if that you live in New Jersey you can buy insurance in South Dakota because South Dakota has the loosest regulations and therefore will charge a price that reflects the fact that it`s is not real insurance. So they are fleeced by buying this.

O`DONNELL: Yes, I mean currently there are dozens of states all over the country who would be willing to allow health insurance policies to be solved but that the State of California would never allow because they would say it is substandard.

BRILL: It`s completely ridiculous. And besides the issue with health care, as Dr. Dean knows, is not the insurance companies because they pay for health care. The issue with healthcare it is the price of health care that we pay, as patients and insurance companies pay. The other thing I think they will do and I think we need to educate everyone in the country though beware of three words High, Risk, Pools. That`s what they are going to sell.

What they`re going to say they`re going to provide insurance for everybody by putting people who are sick and with pre-existing conditions in to High- Risk Pools. That`s exactly what was done before Obamacare. There were waiting lists. There were caps on coverage, $50,000 a year, $100,000 lifetime, depending on the state. Everybody had to pay premiums of 150 or 250 percent more than everybody else.

So if you take all the sick people and put them in to one pool and put the healthy people in another pool, the healthy people get lower premiums because they are in a pool with just healthy people but the sick people suffer and that`s the opposite purpose of insurance which is to spread the risk. That is the scam of high-risk pools and it never worked.

O`DONNELL: Dr. Dean, I`m going to ask you a governor`s question here now. Kellyanne Conway mentioned block granting Medicaid to the states. What`s your reaction to that?

DEAN: It depends how it`s done. The trouble is when Republicans talk about doing that. They are usually talking about eliminating care for poor people. When Democrats talk about doing it, they`re doing it as a budgetary model. That is not a crazy idea but it can be a crazy idea and it was a crazy idea when Ronald Reagan tried to do it.

So I`d say it is a mixed bag. And let me say, Steve Brill is 100 percent right. If we buy insurance across state lines, it`s going to a race to the bottom. And the State of Texas has 22 percent of its children with no health insurance.

We had universal health insurance for kids for 20 years in Vermont. I don`t want anybody in Vermont to be buying the crap they sell in Texas for a health plan. So that is a terrible idea put together by people who really love free markets but don`t know anything about health care.

O`DONNELL: And one other items on the Kellyanne Conway list anyway which doesn`t mean it is on the Trump list but we`ll never know. But it`s create health savings accounts.

BRILL: Well that`s nice.

DEAN: Those are fine -- those are fine for small items but they don`t work at all when you are trying to decide whether to have $250,000 heart operation.

BRILL: You know they`ve talked about it and they jumped the savings accounts, you know, of $4,000 or $5,000 or having a tax credit of $5,000 a person. Healthcare in this country costs an average of 10,000 plus per capita.

So if you have a family of four, if you are going to buy insurance you`re going to do anything, someone, somewhere has to come up with $40,000, having a health savings account for $5,000 or a tax credit for $5,000 or $6,000 sounds nice. You could then have a press conference and say we are providing insurance for everyone but you`re actually providing insurance for no one other than those in the upper middle class and above who can afford it.

O`DONNELL: We`re going to have to leave it there for the night. And it remains guess work about what this Trump plan if there is one or if there`s ever going to be. Howard Dean and Steven Brill thank you both for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.

BRILL: You are welcome.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

DEAN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, if the crowds of people in Washington for the inauguration actually reflect the views of the American people, than there will be more people there to protest than to celebrate. The polling for Donald Trump is not good.


O`DONNELL: According to the Gallup Poll, President Obama will leave office this week with a 58 percent favorability rating and Donald Trump has a 40 percent favorability rating. Tonight at 11:00 o`clock, Brian Williams will report on the presidency of Barack Obama.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I stand before you again tonight to tell you I am more optimistic about the future of America than ever before.

UNIDENFIED MALE: This unbelievable young man, handsome, well-spoken emerged out of nowhere.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From this band of bandage (ph) point, the crowd spreads out as far as the eye can see.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He had something unique to offer to the American people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are looking at the 44th President of the United States.

OBAMA: I Barack Hussein Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The opposition that Barack Obama was so intense and was so ugly --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President straight out said elections have consequences and I won.

UNUDENTIFIED MALE: He`s a cool guy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s proven that out over eight years.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He truly was a global phenomenon.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We will not see a President like this for a long time.

OBAMA: 239 years after this nation`s founding our union is not yet perfect but we are getting closer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who is thoughtful, who`s intelligent, who makes us look good around the world, who bears the office grandly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Early on, he called himself No Drama Obama and I think over eight years he demonstrated that he was serious. There was no personal scandal that attached to him. And when you think of the presidency in recent decades that`s an achievement.

UNIDENTIFED MALE: I think history will be very kind to the President. That he never gave up. He never gave in. He never became bitter or hostile. He kept the faith and just kept moving ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was on the convention corridor in his speech that`s here in Philadelphia and I remarked I hadn`t voted for him either time but watching him sort of recap his own presidency, I was happy and proud that he`d been our President for the last eight years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I`ll miss is his grace and his -- the way he operates under pressure. I will miss nuance. I`ll miss his thoughtfulness.

OBAMA: It has been the honor of my life to serve you. I won`t stop. In fact, I will be right there with you, as a citizen for all my remaining days.


O`DONNELL: The Obama years with Brian Williams airs in the next hour on this network MSNBC. Stay with us.

Coming up, Donald Trump`s polling numbers are the lowest ever in the history of polling for an incoming President of the United States. He hasn`t taken office yet. Usually those poll numbers get much worse after a President takes the oath of office. That`s next.


O`DONNELL: The words of Donald Trump, this is more from the London Sunday Times interview with Donald Trump. Question, what does it mean for you to have German blood in your veins? The answer, "Well, it`s great. I mean I`m very proud of Germany and Germany is very special. BOB DURKHEIM, right? This is serious Germany, right? Like this isn`t any question. This is seriously Germany. No, I`m very proud of Germany. I love Germany. I love the U.K."

I don`t know. I don`t know what he means. We`ll be right back.


O`DONNELL: We have breaking news from the London Sunday Times interview of Donald Trump. It turns out after he takes the oath of office he`s going to take the first three days off. This is what he said.

"One of the first orders I`m going to sign day one which I will consider to be Monday as supposed to Friday or Saturday, right? I mean my day one is going to be Monday because I don`t want to signing and getting it mixed up with lots of celebration. But one of the first things, one of the first orders we`re going to be signing is going to be strong borders on Monday." Not on day -- that Monday is the Donald Trump day one. Joining us now Anand Giridharadas, the author of True American and an MSNBC News Contributor.

So when he finally gets to that he`s counting of day one, the very first order of business for him is strong borders not building the wall. We`re not quite sure what that means at this point.

ANAND GIRIDHARADAS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: He`s someone who I think has never accomplished any of the things that he has claimed to accomplish. So we can assume that pattern will continue. But I think it`s not for him to get to work only when he`s sworn in on Friday. I think a lot of us who have been anguished, who have been concerned, who spent the last month plus in a funk, we also get to work this Friday.

O`DONNELL: Apparently you are gathering on Saturday, many of you in Washington who have those --

GIRIDHARADAS: But -- and as of -- actually that moment on Saturday when we were going to see those images, I think it`s going to be a moment of awakening for a generation that frankly has been lulled into a very long, political slumber. People vote, people canvas, but, you know, I think for all of my lifetime, I`m 35 years old, I don`t think that anything existential has ever felt at stake about this country politically. We`ve been told ghosts -- my generation has been told ghosts start social enterprises or By Tom Shoes and they send a pair to somewhere in Africa and the world will be great.

O`DONNELL: Because as overwhelming as 9/11 was, it was not a threat to our --- it wasn`t a political existential.

GIRIDHARADAS: I don`t think that anybody thought we would lose the Republic. I think there`s a lot of serious people right now, very, very smart, thoughtful people who have at least a legitimate concern that Republics aren`t forever and this is the kind of moment that sometimes imperils them. And so, it is a very dark moment on Friday, and then the protest on Saturday. But in a strange way I`ve started to feel this week in a way I haven`t before, that this is an amazing moment of hope for a generation that gets to live in a time that matters. It`s not usually pleasant times that make times matter.

O`DONNELL: And as I pointed out through the polling we had last week and more come in that you are not alone if you are in those alienated from the Trump Administration. That`s the majority of Americans now in all polling.

GIRIDHARADAS: And he`s not -- and he doesn`t just fail to attract the polling approval of the majority of Americans. You know when Congressman Lewis called him illegitimate, there is a procedural kind of illegitimacy which maybe referring to. But there`s also a moral illegitimacy to his Presidency which the fact that in the eyes of our founders, in the eyes of the people I studied in high school and college and their words, I think he would have had a lower approval rating than 40 percent among those people.

O`DONNELL: Anand Giridharadas, thank you very much for joining us tonight, really appreciate it. I want to give the Last Word Tonight to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from his 1964 speech accepting the Nobel Prize. "I refuse to accept the view that man kind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality. Believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word." Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gets tonight`s LAST WORD. "The Obama Years" with Brian Williams starts right now.