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The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 1/25/2017

Guests: Jason Kander, Eugene Robinson, Kevin de Leon, Richard Stengel

Show: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell Date: January 25, 2017 Guests: Jason Kander, Eugene Robinson, Kevin de Leon, Richard Stengel

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: Five thousand Americans tonight are -- reiterated that sentiment in his first full day in office.

Unprompted, he brought it up again. And now the Iraqi Prime Minister is fielding questions about it from the Iraqi press corps.

And all the while, more than 5,000 Americans tonight are in Iraq, as this now takes hold because of our new president.

Deputy Pentagon spokesman who was in "The Post" until last week when the Obama administration put out this statement this week, saying, "the White House needs to clearly say the U.S. isn`t going to take Iraq`s oil.

Every moment that statement stands, puts our troops at greater risk." But it was not an error by the White House spokesman.

It is the policy of the United States now under this new president, and that really seriously changes the risk environment in which our troops are operating right now.

This is not hypothetical. This is happening. And as this builds and builds in Iraq, I think the White House is going to have to explain pretty soon how they`re going to fix this.

Or why they don`t care about the target that this has just put on U.S. soldiers serving abroad in what is already a very dangerous place.

Serious stuff. That`s for us tonight, we will see you again tomorrow.

Now it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell. Good evening, Lawrence, I`m sorry --


MADDOW: I went long into --


MADDOW: Your --

O`DONNELL: Please --

MADDOW: First minute --

O`DONNELL: You know, every time I see that video of that reporter asking about -- when she gets to the spot of saying I don`t understand how you take the oil.

And you see that shock, that deadly serious shock and how fully she means that question of how would you take the oil? And there is no answer to it.

MADDOW: No, and you think about, you know, Iraqis watching that social media compilation of Trump talking about that.

You think of American soldiers among their Iraqi counterparts right now in Iraq having to explain what our country stands for.

It`s just incredibly dangerous.

O`DONNELL: I don`t know how they do it.

MADDOW: Yes --

O`DONNELL: Rachel, thank you very much.

MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence --

O`DONNELL: Thank you --

MADDOW: Appreciate it.

O`DONNELL: We have new protests right now tonight in New York City and other cities against Donald Trump.

Protesters are carrying signs saying "resist". The biggest such sign was hung today from a crane in Washington D.C.

And today, Donald Trump announced that he is going to launch an investigation into all those criminals who have died and not taken themselves off the voting rolls.


JIMMY KIMMEL, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST: It seems like a weird fight. The election that I won was rigged! I mean -- (LAUGHTER)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: There is no evidence of that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We live right now with a White House that puts out alternative facts. He is just making stuff up.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER, UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: I haven`t seen evidence of this kind of widespread numbers that we`ve been hearing about.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER, UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: To be so insecure as to declare that 3 or 5 million Americans voted illegally is really strange.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC: Half the people in this country illegally of voting age voted.

That`s as high a percentage, Kellyanne, as people here legally voting. The numbers are just so far out of imagination.

PELOSI: I frankly feel very sad about the president making this claim. I felt sorry for him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you won, move on.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There is a lot of people that are dead that are on rolls.

People that are on the rolls in two different states.

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER VERMONT GOVERNOR: His daughter Tiffany is registered in two states. Steve Bannon is registered in two states.

REP. JOHN LEWIS (D), GEORGIA: I want them to investigate all the people who don`t get the chance to vote.

KIMMEL: I`m a 100 percent convinced that if given the choice, Donald Trump would rather have won the popular vote and lost the actual election than the other way around.



O`DONNELL: Another day, another strange plot twist in the presidency of Donald Trump.

Today, the president announced that he is going to launch a major investigation of some people very close to him, including his Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, his nominee for Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin.

And in the strangest plot twist of all, his youngest daughter Tiffany Trump.

The president tweeted: "I will be asking for a major investigation into voter fraud including those registered to vote in two states.

Those who are illegal, and even those registered to vote who are dead, and many for a long time.

Depending on results, we will strengthen up voting procedures. We already have results of the investigation.

In the three cases I mentioned, Tiffany Trump is registered to vote in two states, Pennsylvania and New York.

Trump`s nominee for Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is registered to vote in two states, California and New York.

And Steve Bannon was registered to vote in two states, Florida and New York, until today.

In fact, when the president tweeted at 7:10 a.m. today that he was going to have an investigation of "those registered to vote in two states", Steve Bannon was still registered to vote in two states.

His name finally came off the rolls in Florida during business hours today. Today. Now imagine you`re working for a presidential candidate who rants about voter fraud.

And which in his mind includes anyone who is registered to vote in two states. Now imagine if you`re Steve Bannon and you remember, you`re registered to vote in Florida.

And you remember, you registered to vote in New York. I remember all three times that I have registered to vote in three different states sequentially.

And I never once unregistered to vote in any state ever. I might still be registered to vote in Massachusetts. I don`t know.

So, I`ve surely been on the voting rolls in two states for a while, at least twice.

But if I was working for a politician who talked about that stuff all the time, I`d make sure I wasn`t still registered in both of those places.

Today, not yesterday, not last week, not last month, not last year. Today, Steve Bannon got his name off the voting rolls in Florida just today.

So, who now is going to approach Tiffany Trump carrying what badge to question her about being registered to vote in two states?

We don`t know. We have no more specifics on who will actually conduct this investigation.

But one thing Donald Trump already knows without any investigation at all of illegal voters and without any exit polls of those millions of illegal voters he imagines.

The one thing he knows for sure about them is who they voted for.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`re going to launch an investigation to find out and then the next time -- and I will say this.

Of those votes cast, none of them come to me. None of them come to me.

They would all be for the other side. None of them come to me. But when you look at the people that are registered, dead, illegal, and two states, and some cases maybe three states?

We have a lot to look into.


O`DONNELL: So, we`re going to investigate voter fraud in all 50 states, right?

Or just the crucial swing states that decide the electoral college? Or should we investigate just the biggest states that always vote for the Democrat?


SPICER: You look at California and New York, I`m not sure that those statements were -- we didn`t look at those two states in particular.

There are big states, very populous states in urban areas where you would have spent more time campaigning.

But he played the game according to the rules of the game which is electoral strategy.

That being said, I think when you look at where a lot of potential -- of the -- a lot of these issues could have occurred in bigger states, that`s where I think we`re going to look.


O`DONNELL: The White House Press Secretary gave the same emphasis the president did to exactly what they`re looking for in this criminal investigation.


SPICER: There is a lot of people that are dead, they`re on rolls. There are people that are voting in two -- or that are on the rolls in two different states, sometimes in three different states.


O`DONNELL: That`s it. That`s what they want to investigate. The perfectly legal condition of being dead and on the voting rolls.

Donald Trump and Sean Spicer apparently do not know that people die in November. People die the day before the election. Some of them die on the way to vote.

They die the month before the election, six months before the election, a year before the election. And no one knows that those people are dead. No one at the voting -- voting rolls know that -- knows that.

And the loved ones of those people do not in the first moment think, I`ve got to get mom`s name off the voting rolls.

Have any of you ever done that when your mother died? And you think, oh, I`ve got to make sure she is not on the voting rolls.

Was that anywhere on your list of thoughts after your mother or father died?

Grandmother? Grandfather? Do you know anyone who moved to a new state, registered to vote, and then went through the process of unregistering to vote in the previous state? I know.

And so, yes, people stay registered in their previous states, sometimes for years, and it is completely harmless.

No one votes in their name, and eventually when you don`t show up to vote long enough, your name gets taken off the rolls.

Different states have different time periods for that. But eventually you`ll disappear from the rolls.

In the meantime, no crime has been committed, no harm has been done to our Democratic process.

Paul Ryan knows this. And the speaker of the house is very eager to echo Donald Trump whenever he can to back him up whenever he can.

But when he can`t, he can`t. And tonight, Greta Van Susteren asked Speaker Paul Ryan about Donald Trump`s fevered dreams of voter fraud.

And he said this.


RYAN: I`m sure there is some fraud. We passed photo ID in Wisconsin because of our concerns about this a few years ago.

But if he believes that there is a problem to be looked at, the right thing to do is to get an investigation to get the facts.

I haven`t seen evidence of this kind of widespread numbers that we`ve been hearing about.


O`DONNELL: The Republican House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz is in the same uncomfortable boat as Paul Ryan.

He is eager to echo Donald Trump whenever he can, eager to back him up whenever he can. But when it`s impossible, even Jason Chaffetz just gives up. Tonight, Chairman Chaffetz said "I don`t see any evidence.

But the president has a 100,000 people at the Department of Justice. And if he wants to have an investigation, have at it.

I just don`t see any evidence of it. The Oversight Committee is not planning to do anything with it."

So, there is Jason Chaffetz saying people being registered in more than one state is not evidence of voter fraud.

There is Jason Chaffetz saying "dead people on the voter rolls is not evidence of voter fraud."

In other words, everything Donald Trump says is evidence of voter fraud is not evidence of voter fraud.

We could fill the rest of this program with members of Congress in both parties saying there is no evidence of voter fraud.

But a presidential investigation is coming, and suspects like Tiffany Trump had better be ready.

Joining us now, Eugene Robinson; Pulitzer Prize-winning opinion writer for "The Washington Post", and an Msnbc political analyst.

Also with us Jason Kander; Missouri`s former Secretary of State. And Charlie Sykes; editor-in-chief of "Right Wisconsin", a co-host of "Wnyc`s" "Indivisible", and an Msnbc contributor.

And Secretary Kander, I just want to go straight to you because as a Secretary of State, the 50 secretaries of state in the country are the people directly in charge of voting in their states.

What`s your reaction to everything you`ve been hearing about this from the Trump White House?

JASON KANDER, FORMER MISSOURI SECRETARY OF STATE: Let`s focus for a second on what you just played the clips of Paul Ryan, for instance.

The only rational response, the only responsible response to this is the president is lying.

This is something that the president made up in a lie that he told himself that he needed to hear about his loss of the popular vote.

That is all that is happening right now. And the reason that somebody like Paul Ryan responds in the way he does.

Where he doesn`t call it a lie is because if you are part of the political party that for years has been telling the lie that says there`s so much voter fraud, we have to take actions that suppress the vote.

Then it`s very helpful if the president of the United States makes things like this happen.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Nancy Pelosi had to say about this.


PELOSI: He wants to investigate something that can clearly be proven to be false.

But he wants -- resists any investigation of the Russian disruption of our election and any connection to his campaign.

I have prayed for him. But then I prayed for the United States of America.


O`DONNELL: Gene Robinson, I -- you know, I don`t often believe a lot of what politicians say about their prayer habits, but that sounded convincing.



ROBINSON: It did. I mean, that sounded like a rather desperate prayer at that.

You know, this is -- this is really -- we`ve never seen a situation like this. This is a president`s fixation, obsession, insecurity, whatever.

This mixture of psychological factor really that cause him to be unable to believe that he lost the popular vote.

That more people voted for Hillary Clinton, therefore there must have been all this fraud.

And when Donald Trump, you know, real estate tycoon says crazy things, as he did for years on his Twitter feed and in public, kind of nobody pays attention or the "New York Post" puts it in page 6.

When the president of the United States says crazy things, he can launch an investigation.

He can make members of Congress react as if there were something there. This is -- this is a really crazy situation.

And it`s frustrating, but for those of us in the media, do you pay attention to the crazy stuff like this?

Meanwhile, there`s a lot of substantive stuff going on as well. It`s like drinking from two fire hoses at this point.

O`DONNELL: Yes, it is. Charlie Sykes --


O`DONNELL: An amazing --

SYKES: Yes --

O`DONNELL: Report in the "New York Times" now about the source of Donald Trump`s thinking on this.

There were --

SYKES: Yes --

O`DONNELL: Three staff people who remain unnamed, who reported to the times what Donald Trump said when he said this to the congressional leaders, which is what got this whole story started.

He told the story of what he called a famous golfer named Bernhard Langer who apparently was briefly famous at some time long ago.

And that he was standing in line, Mr. Langer in Florida waiting to vote for Donald Trump, and then he saw other people voting clearly who were illegals and shouldn`t be allowed to vote.

And then Bernhard Langer himself was turned away from voting. And it`s just a completely outrageous thing that happened to Bernhard Langer.

And that`s the story he told to the congressional leaders. And the "New York Times" has discovered Bernhard Langer does indeed live in Florida.

He is a citizen of Germany, he does not vote in the United States of America. And that is the source of Donald Trump -- the only source he cited to the congressional leaders.

SYKES: You remember what you asked Anthony Weiner when you had him on?


What is wrong with you? I agree with Eugene Robinson here. This does not help advance any sort of agenda.

This is -- this is this obsession, this crazy obsession that is -- has no basis in fact whatsoever.

And you know that Paul Ryan is doing everything possible to be joined at the hip with Donald Trump.

And yet there is this recognition that this is crazy. And also, it is politically stupid.

You know, we`re talking about the fire hoses. Today is a day that he is talking about his signature issues and what does he do?

And so this -- I marked this down to just an obsession and it`s just lack of control.

But also that story, you know, once again raises the question. This is the president of the United States.

Where does he get his information?

O`DONNELL: Where is that?

SYKES: How does he -- how does he evaluate information? This is a man who talks to Alex Jones, who goes --


SYKES: On info wars and that is a level of crazy and scary all by itself.

O`DONNELL: Yes, and Gene, this -- I think Charlie`s -- that`s exactly the point of the Bernhard Langer story is --


O`DONNELL: The ability to separate fact from fiction. Which has --


O`DONNELL: Always been a problem for Donald Trump. And now it is a problem for the world because the --

ROBINSON: Exactly --

O`DONNELL: President of the United States demonstrates an inability to separate fact from fiction.

ROBINSON: Exactly. And so the world is reduced to hoping that there are people around Donald Trump, and people in Congress, people that are government who know how to react to this stuff, and who don`t.

You know, who don`t do inappropriate and perhaps dangerous things based on this sort of government by anecdote --


ROBINSON: Often wrong anecdote that Donald Trump seems determined to practice.

I will correct one thing you said, Lawrence. Bernhard Langer is a great golfer. He plays on the senior tour now. And he was great on the PGA tour as well.

His daughter told the "New York Times" that he doesn`t really know Donald Trump. But maybe he`s met him once. So, she doesn`t know where this story came from.

O`DONNELL: Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Tiger Woods. That`s my entire knowledge of golf.


Jason Kander, to this point of being able to separate fact from fiction, here is somebody who is getting intelligence briefings.

Here is somebody in a position where the flaws in separating facts from fiction have led us to war in the 21st century.

This is the thing at the center of all of this that is so worrisome, that he can hear a story from somebody at Mar-a-Lago about Bernhard Langer, and that does it.

That`s the official record for him.

KANDER: Well, what ends up happening is that you have a president who is making claims that undermine our democracy.

And then saying he wants to investigate it instead of actually investigating attempts by a foreign adversary to undermine our democracy.

I mean, if you`re Vladimir Putin, you`re watching this and thinking, that`s exactly what I would want him to do.

Whether he is doing it for that reason or not. I mean, it looks great to them.

The other thing I`d add about the "New York Times" story is, it turns out that in the anecdote even, that the two folks who this guy claimed were going to vote actually got a provisional ballot.

Which for all we know means that they weren`t allowed to vote. So, this whole story is an example of the system working.

O`DONNELL: And Charlie, I would --

SYKES: Yes --

O`DONNELL: Love anyone working in the White House now for --

SYKES: Sure --

O`DONNELL: Donald Trump to tell me of the time when a loved one of theirs died.

SYKES: All right --

O`DONNELL: And they after all -- after they did everything they had to do in response to that, they then went and made sure that, that loved one was removed from the voting rolls.

There`s a kind of inhumanity, and --

SYKES: Right --

O`DONNELL: There`s a kind of -- a kind of lack of comprehension about how life works when you move from one state to another --

SYKES: Yes --

O`DONNELL: When your mother dies, when your grandmother dies. These -- the president and Sean Spicer don`t seem to --

SYKES: Yes --

O`DONNELL: Understand what happens in those situations --

SYKES: You know, I thought that was a very powerful point. Because first of all -- I mean, we can argue about whether or not there is voter fraud here or there.

But it`s not when people die in this particular way. I mean, I -- when you were talking about that, I thought about when my mother died suddenly when she was 87 years old, you know, a few years ago, but you know, back in 2007.

And as you were pointing that out, it never entered my mind --

O`DONNELL: Right --

SYKES: To go in and take her name off the voting roll. I don`t know whether it`s on to this day --

O`DONNELL: Right --

SYKES: And again, as you point out, this is not things people think about.

It is basically -- this is part of the process of human life, and to try to gin this up into this massive scandal, it`s just -- it is silly and insensitive.

O`DONNELL: I for one would be delighted to discover that my mother was still on the voting rolls in Massachusetts.

SYKES: All right --

O`DONNELL: And she would be delighted to still be on the voting rolls in Massachusetts.

Charlie Sykes, Eugene Robinson, thank you both for joining us, really appreciate it.

Jason Kander, we`re going to need you later, please stick around.

Coming up, we have breaking news. The president of Mexico has just responded to Donald Trump`s plan for the border wall.


O`DONNELL: Breaking news at this hour. The president of Mexico has just responded to Donald Trump`s plan to build the wall, saying very forcefully, Mexico will not pay for that wall.

We have fresh video of what the president of Mexico has just said. We will bring that to you next.


O`DONNELL: In breaking news tonight, the president of Mexico has just issued a video saying that Mexico will not pay for the wall Donald Trump wants to build.

Let`s take a look at what the president of Mexico had to say. This video just in.




O`DONNELL: That video just in from Mexico. President of Mexico saying absolutely no way that the president will -- that Mexico will pay for that wall.

Also tonight, breaking news from the "Associated Press". The "Associated Press" reporting a senior government official says "Mexico`s president is considering cancelling next week`s visit to Washington following President Donald Trump`s order to begin construction of a wall between the two countries."


TRUMP: A nation without borders is not a nation. Beginning today, the United States of America gets back control of its borders, gets back its borders.

The Secretary of Homeland Security, working with myself and my staff will begin immediate construction of a border wall.



O`DONNELL: Donald Trump`s promise that Mexico will pay for the wall has become complicated and convoluted.

He now says that Mexico will reimburse the United States after the United States pays for the wall.

Here is Donald Trump -- here is Donald Trump`s response earlier today.


TRUMP: He has to say that. He has to say that. But I am just telling you there will be a payment.

It will be in a form, perhaps a complicated form.


O`DONNELL: That was Donald Trump responding to the point that Mexico will not pay for the wall.

He is saying that the president of Mexico, as he just said, has to say that.

Tonight with Greta Van Susteren, Paul Ryan also suggested that the payment for the wall could be complicated.


RYAN: We`re going pay for it and front the money up. But I do think that there are various ways of -- as you know, and I know, your follow-up question is, is Mexico going to pay for the wall?

There are a lot of different ways of getting Mexico to contribute to doing this. And there are different ways of defining how exactly they pay for it.


O`DONNELL: A lot of different ways of getting Mexico to contribute to doing this.

There are different ways of defining how to pay for it. Now try that the next time you`re splitting a bill at a restaurant.

And you put up nothing, and you say to your fellow diners, there are different ways of defining how to pay for this.

And you claim to pay for dinner with your conviviality, wit, and general good cheer.

Here is how complicated paying for the wall was during the Trump campaign.


TRUMP: Who is going to pay for it?!


TRUMP: One hundred percent.


O`DONNELL: The president signed an executive order today to restrict funding to what he called sanctuary cities that do not extend full cooperation to federal authorities on immigration enforcement.

The biggest cities that would be targeted in the Trump order are in California.

Today, Kevin de Leon; the leader of the California Senate tweeted: "cutting off funds for cities that refuse destructive deportation programs is unconstitutional.

See you in court." Joining us now Kevin de Leon; California State Senate leader.

Also with us Rick Stengel, the former Undersecretary of State and an Msnbc contributor.

Senator de Leon, you have hired the former Attorney General Eric Holder to represent California in such matters.

What do you see in the executive order about sanctuary cities that you`ll be legally challenging?

KEVIN DE LEON, SENATE PRESIDENT PRO TEMPORE: Lawrence, let me be very clear here. What President Trump did today was unconstitutional.

And quite frankly, it`s Un-American. And California as a state, as the golden state, we won`t stand idly and allow him to separate mothers, separate and break up families, separate children from their mothers and mothers from their children.

You`re absolutely right. We hired us legal outside counsel. The former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

We are at this very hour, looking at all the legal options that are before us.

But the reality is this, is that the federal government and Donald J. Trump cannot commandeer and enforce local municipalities, local police agencies, local governments and the state of California to do his work.

So, the California will not be a cog in the Trump deportation machine. He has threatened us by withholding dollars.

But I want to put this in context because when he threatens the state of California by withholding dollars, precious dollars that we need, he is actually threatening senior citizens who are in the early signs with dementia or Alzheimer`s.

Young children who have or on spectrum who have autism or Asperger`s.

He is actually threatening the very people, U.S. citizens, Californians and Americans.

And when he threatens California, he actually threatens the economy of United States of America because we`re 13 percent of the overall GDP of the U.S.

O`DONNELL: Mr. Secretary, this notion of Mexico paying for the wall was always childish.

Now that`s being admitted by Donald Trump and Paul Ryan, and they`re saying no, we`ll pay for it.

And now they`re getting into this game of there are some creative ways in which Mexico can then reimburse us for the wall.

Ways that are so creative they can`t even describe them.


RICHARD STENGEL, JOURNALIST & AUTHOR: Well, he is trying to have it every which way.

And he will have some explanation eventually that exonerates him from having said that.

But I want to go to what the senator was saying. Because the rule that the senator will exploit to say that this is unconstitutional is the 10th Amendment.

The 10th Amendment, beloved of conservatives. Bob Dole as you remember used to carry a copy of the 10th Amendment in his breast pocket.

And the 10th Amendment says that the federal government cannot coerce or commandeer the states or localities to do these kinds of actions.

And this is the thing that has been celebrated by conservatives and even by Donald Trump.

And he is using the over- weaning power of the Federal Government to do something which the American people don`t actually want.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Yes, and recent Supreme Court decisions indicate that the Federal Government can`t force the states to do these things. Senator, the striking things about this includes the very simple mathematical fact that California contributes more money to the Federal Treasury than any other state in the union. And it does not get back as much as it contributes. And so the notion that there would be some -- that the Federal Government then -- would then restrict the flow to California, which is already a very generous donor state to the Federal Government is doubly ironic.

KEVIN DE LEON, CALIFORNIA STATE SENATE LEADER: That`s correct, Lawrence. You`re absolutely right. We send for every dollar we send to Washington, D.C., we actually get back 78 cents on the dollar. Ironically speaking, we actually subsidize other states, red states, states that overwhelmingly voted for Donald J. Trump. We subsidize their roads, their programs. And I do find it quite ironic. So when his withholding dollars from California he`s withholding our tax dollars that belong to the people of California. And I really want to underscore this because we`re talking about political blackmail. We`re talking about political vengeance. And this is not a monarchy. And I know he fancies himself as a king. But this is a republic. And we do things in a democratic way where we engage and we dialogue and we debate. And hopefully the strongest ideas win. But to politically blackmail a state like California, the fifth largest economy in the entire world, and to maliciously with strong intent go out of his way to actually harm the people of California. I can tell you this. This is very un- American. And Californians are not going to stand by it. And well frankly, we`ll see him in a court of law.

O`DONNELL: And Richard Stengel the law seems at this stage to be very heavily on the side of the states.

STENGEL: I think, you know, as the senator says, let the courts decide. I mean, this is something that the constitutional speaks to. This is something that the Supreme Court has speaks to. This is something that conservatives like Justice Scalia have supported all along. So I think it will be interesting to see it play out.

O`DONNELL: And it will take a while. Rick Stengel and Senator De Leon, thank you both very much for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.

DE LEON: Thank you , :Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, what Donald Trump doesn`t want us talking about. That`s next.


O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s addition of what Donald Trump doesn`t want us to talk about.


KATIE COURIC, REPORTER: So you think that the potential that he may be impeached is high?

HUGH HEWITT, Conservative Radio Host: I think they would occur after midterms, and only if the house flips the democrats. So the potential is there, yes. If he abused power, if you do anything -- you don`t have a lot of good will in a reservoir. He is beginning his presidency successfully in my view with a very few bold initiatives but with the highest negatives of any incoming President since Gallup kept track that says to me thin ice. Move carefully.

O`DONNELL: That was Katie Couric`s interview of conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt yesterday. There are new reports of Donald Trump profiting from the Presidency very directly, including one from CNBC that reported that Donald Trump`s Mar-A-Lago (ph) Resort in Florida doubled its initiation fee to $200,000 after Donald Trump`s election. Joining us now David Corn, the Washington Bureau Chief from Mother Jones and an MSNBC Political Analyst. And David, Mother Jones also has reports that are building up this giant category of Trumpian profiteering from the Presidency.

DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: We could spend all night talking about the conflicts of interest that remain. Today in Mother Jones we reported that at the inauguration, Trump gave VIP treatment to foreign business partners who are working on deals or have done deals with him in Indonesia and in Dubai. One of them posted on Instagram or Facebook a video of her riding in a car or bus along the inaugural parade route, there it is right there, during the inaugural parade. I don`t know how they got this special, you know, privilege to do this. But apparently if you do deals with Donald Trump and his family, this is what you get. You get a ride along the parade route. I think right behind Donald Trump. So they`re selling access. They`re selling, you know, boosting the price of Mar-A-Lago (ph). They`re expanding the hotels. He`s still in violation of the emoluments clause. The GSA contract should be voided that he signed for the Post Office. He hasn`t given us a list of the banks he owes money to which he promised during the campaign. He`s appointed two ethics advisers, which he promised to do. One is a long-time GOP lawyer. The other is a Trump organization lawyer. This is all absurd, ridiculous. And we don`t need to the take our lead from our friend Hugh Hewitt. Any ethics adviser, anyone who works this seriously says this should not stand.

O`DONNELL: And David, I think for sanctuary cities who are worried about Donald Trump, it might not be as scary as they think especially if you have a Trump property in that city.

CORN: Yes.

O`DONNELL: The CEO of Trump Hotels at a panel discussion yesterday said there are 26 metropolitan areas in the U.S. and we are in five. I don`t see any reason that we couldn`t be in all of them eventually. Those are mostly sanctuary cities that Trump Hotels want to move into. I guarantee you the cities that Donald Trump wants to get his hotels into will not suffer the restriction of one dime of Federal Funding.

CORN: And we still have a situation where the President of the United States owes hundreds of millions of dollars to overseas banks that have regulatory interest in the United States that are not resolved. And he is not, you know, he can`t recluse himself. But he is not getting rid of this conflict. And don`t forget, Jared Kushner violating the anti-nepotism law. It`s everywhere you turn. You see on the Whitehouse website, you know, pages that are basically promoting Ivanka Trump`s products. It`s really kind of nuts. And we reported on this before the election. And people are catching up now. But he better hope the Democrats never come close to gaining control of Congress.

O`DONNELL: Donald Trump knows right now what the chances are of him getting a permit to operate or open a hotel in a sanctuary city that he is trying to restrict funding from as President. He knows those chances are zero. I have a feeling this whole sanctuary cities threat may evaporate without seeing anything happen. But we`ll have to watch it.

CORN: Well, he is the only guy I think who looks at the Presidency as a stepping stone to greater business opportunities.

O`DONNELL: Yes, David Corn, thank you very much for joining us tonight, appreciates it.

CORN: My pleasure.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, action taken, very important action taken because Donald Trump is now in charge of our nuclear weapons. There are members of Congress who want to take action to control that. That`s coming up

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: So how do you feel tonight and every night about Donald Trump having unrestricted authority to use nuclear weapons at any moment?


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: At some point we have to say you know what? We`re better off if Japan protects itself against this maniac in North Korea. We`re better off, frankly, if South Korea is going to start to protect itself.

ANDERSON COOPER, REPORTER: Saudi Arabia nuclear weapons?

TRUMP: Saudi Arabia, absolutely.

COOPER: You would be fine with them having nuclear weapons?

TRUMP: No, not nuclear weapons. But they have to protect themselves or they have to pay us. It`s going to happen anyway. So it`s only a question of time. They`re going to start having them or we have to get rid of them entirely. But you have so many countries already, China, Pakistan, you have so many countries -- Russia, that have them. Now, wouldn`t you rather in a certain sense have Japan have nuclear weapons when North Korea has nuclear weapons? And they do have them. They absolutely do have them.

(END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: And now he has the biscuit. Donald Trump has what every President has had before him during the nuclear age, a card with codes necessary for launching nuclear weapons. That card is supposed to be in his pocket at all times. I say supposed to be because this is Donald Trump. We now have a President who for the first time in history we cannot be sure is always actually in possession of the biscuit because he`s Donald Trump. That card with the nuclear codes, the biscuit, is the most important thing that is passed from one president to another.

There are reports that Donald Trump is still using his personal cell phone, which is unsecured and a wildly reckless way for a president to communicate. So Donald Trump`s respect and understanding of the national security issues that are now his responsibility are not as clear as some might like them to be. Two people who feel that way are Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Congressman Ted Lieu of California.

They have just introduced a bill that limits the president`s use of nuclear weapons. It is titled Restricting first use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017. And the bill states the president may not use the armed forces of the United States to conduct a first use nuclear strike unless such strike is conducted pursuant to a declaration of war by congress that expressly authorizes such strike. All presidents during the nuclear age have implicitly had authority to order first use nuclear attacks.

They didn`t have to wait for missiles to be headed at this country before launching nuclear weapons. The idea of limiting first strike by American presidents has been debated long before Donald Trump ever decided to run for president. But on January 20th, when the biscuit passed from President Obama to President Trump, the issue immediately took on new urgency. The congressman who has introduced this bill will join us next.



CHRIS MATHEWS, AMERICAN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Can you tell the Middle East we`re not using a nuclear weapon?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: would never say that, I would never take any of my cards off the table.

MATHEWS: How about Europe, we won`t use in Europe?

TRUMP: I`m not going to take it off the table.

MATHEWS: You might use it in Europe?

TRUMP: No, I don`t think so.

MATHEWS: Just say it. I`ll never use a nuclear weapon on Europe.

TRUMP: I am not taking cards off the table. I`m not going to use nukes.


TRUMP: But I`m not taking any cards off the table.


O`DONNEL: Joining us now, democratic congressman Ted Lieu of California, the co-author of the Restricting First use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017. Congressman Lieu thanks for joining us tonight. Now I know you introduced this bill last year in the previous congress before you knew who the next president was going to be. So you were as eager to restrict a President Clinton as a President Trump?

TED LIEU, UNITED STATES CONGRESSMAN: Yes, Lawrence. That`s correct. And thank you for pointing that out. But let me first say this. America, we have a problem. Our president believes in conspiracy theories, believes in alternative facts, and has anger control issues as reported by The Washington Post.

And now his hands are on the nuclear trigger. That should scare us all. It`s why we reintroduced as legislation to restrict his ability to launch a nuclear first strike.

O`DONNEL: In the nuclear age with intercontinental ballistic missile capacity it`s hard to think of a more unstable person who has had this. Because it really would be in the Soviet Union, Russia, China, or the United States for all practical purposes, France, the U.K, they have this capacity. We`ve never once, never once worried about who that person is who has this.

LIEU: That`s correct. We always trusted our commander in chief to be the check on the use of those weapons in terms of knowledge, temperament, control. We don`t have those checks and balances now anymore. And keep in mind as a current launch approval process is the judicial branch and the legislative branch are completely taken out of it. It relies solely on one person, and that`s the president.

And now people are realizing he may be unhinged.

O`DONNEL: As I reported on this program, on an incoming nuclear attack from China or the Soviet Union, currently the only possible origins of such an attack on us, the president could have as little as six minutes to make a retaliation decision before that strike hit us. How could we expect to tie a president`s hands in that situation and say you can`t do it without a declaration of war?

LIEU: I served in the U.S. Military. I believe in any country`s ability for self-defense, including our ability for our inherent right to self- defense. So this bill does not affect our ability to respond if there were a nuclear strike launched against us. This is talking about a premeditated nuclear first strike by the American president, if for example, Donald Trump simply wants to go off and launch nuclear weapons. This is what it`s designed to do.

And it`s based on the constitution. The framers gave the greatest power they knew at the time to the congress, the power to declare war. They never would authorize one person to have the ability to destroy the world in less than one hour by launching hundreds of nuclear weapons.

O`DONNEL: Congressman Ted Lieu, thank you very much for joining us tonight on this incredibly important issue. Impossible to describe how important it is. Really appreciate you being here.

LIEU: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNEL: Coming up, will Donald Trump bring back torture? He seems to want to.



O`DONNEL: I have spoken as recently as 24 hours ago with people at the highest level of intelligence. And I asked them the question. Does it work? Does torture work? And the answer was yes, absolutely.



O`DONNEL: The Washington Post reports that the White House may be reviewing its policies for handling terror suspects. The post says an executive order drafted by the Trump administration calls for policy review that could authorize the CIA to reopen black site prisons overseas and potentially restart an interrogation program that was dismantled in 2009 after using methods widely condemned as torture. Here is what White House press secretary Sean Spicer said today about that executive draft order.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It is not a White House document. I have no idea where it came from. But it is not a White House document.


O`DONNEL: Jason Kander is back with us. He is a former army captain who served as an intelligence officer in Afghanistan. And Jason, I just wanted to read to you what Senator John McCain said about this today in his statement. He said the president can sign whatever executive orders he likes, but the law is the law, and we`re not bringing back torture in the United States of America. What`s your reaction to this?

JASON KANDER, SECRETARY OF STATE OF MISSOURI: My reaction to this is that I`m really thankful that there are people like Senator McCain, people in the intelligence community and I hope people in the president`s cabinet who understand that torture doesn`t work. That it`s counterproductive. It`s not consistent with American values.

And that`s why no matter what the president may want the say to his base, I guess, this I would think not going to happen.

O`DONNEL: One reason why the videos of torture that the CIA actually had were destroyed was to eliminate a possible legal liability for the people who conducted that torture. And everybody in this field knows that. And so two reactions strike me if the order were to come down from a Trump presidency to start torture, first, who would do that? Who would take that risk, even with a presidential order to face possible legal jeopardy?

And then -- and who would refuse that order coming down the chain of the command from the president?

KANDER: Well, in the military, within the chain of command, you have an obligation under the uniform code of military justice not to obey an illegal order. So that`s exactly where this would fall. But in my opinion, we don`t even need to get that far in the conversation because even if you are somebody who doesn`t agree about the law on this, this doesn`t work. When you talk to folks in the American intelligence community, I still have friends who are still working in intelligence.

The overwhelming opinion is that this would not work. It`s very similar actually to the consensus on global warming. I would imagine the same amount of people in the intelligence community who think torture works is about the amount of people in the scientific people who don`t believe in global warming.

O`DONNEL: Jason Kander, thank you very much for your unique perspective on this tonight. Really appreciate it.

KANDER: Thank you.