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The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donell, transcript 1/31/2017

Guests: David Corn, David Frum, Emily Bazelon, Jeffrey Rosen

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: January 31, 2017 Guest: David Corn, David Frum, Emily Bazelon, Jeffrey Rosen

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC:  A year later, he appointed her to something else -- Congress -- Reagan still stood by her.

In fact, a year later, he appointed her to something else.  He appointed her to chair a national advisory committee on oceans and the atmosphere.

You know, she had demonstrated her passion for the subject by trying to burn all our toxic waste in the nation`s oceans.

Either way, the backlash to that appointment was great.  She eventually withdrew herself from consideration for that role.

So, Anne Burford had this fascinating history in the Reagan administration and an end in politics that probably wasn`t what she wanted.

But despite all of that, Anne Burford`s son did really well.  Tonight, Anne Burford`s son, Neil Gorsuch was nominated by President Trump to serve on the Supreme Court.

And that part of his family history is about to resurface, that whole part of the Reagan administration, which might be handy, given how the EPA is being handled by our current president.

That does it for us tonight, we`ll see you again tomorrow, now, it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good evening Lawrence. 

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD:  Good evening Rachel, amazing surprising news that Donald Trump picked the most obvious person on his very public list to be his nominee for the Supreme Court. 

MADDOW:  I was just delighted that he didn`t actually pull the guy out and literally like a showcase showdown --

O`DONNELL:  I guess --

MADDOW:  Where there`s somebody`s spinning a wheel going big money, no Emmys, that was -- it`s a lot.

O`DONNELL:  I guess that`s why all the broadcast entertainment networks covered it live.

It was kind of rumored to possibly be a very game showy, reality showy, trumpy kind of thing. 

MADDOW:  I was happy there was no spangley(ph) curtain, it`s all --

O`DONNELL:  Yes --

MADDOW:  I`m saying --

O`DONNELL:  As --

MADDOW:  Yes --

O`DONNELL:  Dignified as this White House has gotten so far.

(LAUGHTER)

MADDOW:  Thanks my friend.

O`DONNELL:  Thank you, Rachel.  Well, if you`re a fan of the prime time entertainment shows on broadcast networks, you better get used to them being broken into by the president of the United States.

And not just for State of the Union addresses, but for completely predictable announcements that have leaked out ahead of time and have never before been covered by prime time entertainment networks.

This is the new normal that in fact is not at all normal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST:  Live from the White House --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Judge Neil Gorsuch. 

COLBERT:  The most exciting Supreme Court announcement since Justice Kagan burst through a banner at the Super Bowl half time show.

(LAUGHTER)

TRUMP:  So, was that a surprise? Was it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Several officials say, they`ve heard the president will choose Gorsuch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  A Supreme Court seat has been stolen from one president and delivered to another.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER, SENATE:  This is not the time for our friends to embark on another partisan crusade. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This goes way beyond the pot calling the kettle black. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  I think they ought to stop posturing and acting like idiots. 

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK:  Advise and consent doesn`t mean ram the nominees through. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The attorney general is the people`s attorney, not the president`s attorney.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Sally Yates declared that under her leadership, the department could not defend Trump`s executive order.  That statement took guts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This is not, I repeat, not a ban on Muslims. 

TRUMP:  We`re going to have a very strict ban. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Christians, do you -- do you see them as kind of a priority here?

TRUMP:  Yes, they`ve been horribly treated. 

JIMMY KIMMEL, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST:  You know, over the course of his time in office, the president gets old and his hair turns gray.

Instead of him, that`s going to happen to all of us.

(LAUGHTER)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  In a totally obvious attempt to change the subject, the president rushed his announcement of his choice to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court.

The announcement was originally scheduled for Thursday of this week, but was pushed up two full days in the hope that the news media would stop covering the chaos that has resulted from the president`s executive order on immigration.

That sparked mass protests at airports around the country this weekend and provoked the acting Attorney General of the United States last night, Sally Yates to refuse to defend the executive order.

Which in turn provoked President Trump to fire her and replace her with a new acting attorney general who has pledged to defend the executive order that his predecessor had found indefensible.

Never before in history has a president so obviously attempted to change a relentless flow of bad news by staging an announcement of the winner of the Trumpian elimination process for Supreme Court nominee.

The winner was no surprise at all, Neil Gorsuch.  He has been on the public list of possible nominees that was vetted and approved by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Who will guide the confirmation process in the Senate for the nominee.  Other than the minor theatrics it was as routine an announcement of a Supreme Court nominee as we could expect.

One source in the White House was leaking Judge Gorsuch`s name yesterday to news media.  The surprise value -- the surprise factor in this choice is absolutely zero.

The news value is significant, but it is a news story that will be with us for months as the confirmation process proceeds.  And in that time we will all learn much more about Judge Gorsuch than we know tonight.

We will consider the political and jurisprudential implications of this nominee later in this program.  But first, the stories Donald Trump really doesn`t want us talking about tonight. 

So much so that he rushed his Supreme Court announcement by two days.  The resistance to the Trump presidency continues to grow tonight inside the government.

This weekend we saw federal judges across the country become the first people in the government to stand up to the president and say no to his executive order on immigration led by the first judge to rule on it, Brooklyn federal Judge Ann Marie Donnelly.

The first four judges to rule against the president`s executive order that night were women, acting exactly one week after the women`s march turned out to be the most massive protest against a presidential inauguration in history.

Then came acting Attorney General Sally Yates last night announcing that she could not in good conscience defend an executive order that she did not believe was lawful.

That ended her Justice Department career as she surely knew it was likely.

That`s what she could expect the result to be of defying this president.  Sally Yates was the first person in the government subject to being fired by the president who stood up to defy the president.

Tonight, over a thousand diplomats working in the State Department have signed on to a letter of dissent to their boss, the president of the United States, saying that his executive order on immigration cannot achieve its goals.

Will not make us safer and will do more harm than the president realizes.  It is the State Department that issues visas to enter the United States.

They take that duty seriously.

The last line of the dissent letter from the State Department staff to the president says "we do not need to alienate entire societies to stay safe, and we do not need to sacrifice our reputation as a nation, which is open and welcoming to protect our families.

It is well within our reach to create a visa process which is more secure, which reflects our American values and which would make the department proud."

No one in the State Department has ever seen anything like this.  No one in our government has seen anything like this.  A dissent letter with over a thousand signatures and still gathering more signatures.

The most publicly vindictive person who has ever occupied the presidency will now have all of those signatures.  He will have all of their names and they know that.  He will no doubt consider them enemies.

The same term he has reserved for any American voter who did not vote for him, which of course is a majority of American voters.

State Department rules protect employees who sign dissent letters like this from being retaliated against.

But this president doesn`t know those rules, and we know this president does not respect those rules.  And there is no evidence that anyone working in the White House has anything but contempt for dissent.

Sean Spicer said the diplomats signing the dissent letter, "should either get with the program or they can go."

And then with a Trumpian lack of self-awareness, he said that the dissent letter is, "bullying at the highest levels."

Joining us now David Corn; Washington Bureau chief for "Mother Jones" and an Msnbc political analyst. 

And David Frum; senior editor for "The Atlantic".  He is the author of their new cover story "How to Build an Autocracy".

And David Corn, when I think of this now, more than thousand signatures, thousand -- more than a thousand names going up by the minute that will be submitted to the president.

This president will see every one of those names.  Every one of those names is an act of bravery in addition to being an act of dissent when those names are submitted to the most publicly vindictive person we have ever seen in any federal office.

DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, MOTHER JONES:  I think vindictive is a good word and I think that`s a good point to make.  David Frum has talked about the move toward authoritarianism or autocracy.

But actually -- you know, I mean, I agree with that.  But you see this creeping in terms of Donald Trump`s attitudes towards dissent or differences of opinion.

Last night when Sally Yates was fired for doing what she thought was right, the White House issued a statement and didn`t say that she was wrong and we`ve dismissed her because there was a policy disagreement.  

Said that she had betrayed the department.  Today, at the White House press briefing, Glen Trasch(ph) of the "New York Times" and myself both pressed Sean Spicer on the use of that word.

And he thought it was just fine.  You know, that sends a signal, as does these firings, that you can`t disagree with Trump.

And we do know from the past decades that when he gives lectures on his business success, he says the number one rule that he has that you don`t learn at Harvard or Wharton is this one.

If someone screws you, you screw them back, not one time, but five times, ten times, fifteen times greater than they screwed you.

This is what he lives by.  Those people who signed that letter and other people in the government are brave people if they take him on. 

O`DONNELL:  David Frum, we can only imagine at this distance into this presidency to see that many signatures in the State Department emerging and being willing to be submitted to the president.

That this is the beginning of who knows what by the end of this year how many people in this government will have stood up to and objected to the policies of this president. 

DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC:  It may be the beginning of a purge, too, not just at the State Department but at the intelligence agencies.

You know, at CIA, there are people who know a lot about Donald Trump`s connections to the Russians.

Whatever those may be.  How can he leave them in place? It`s dangerous to him if the story is anything other than completely anodyne which doesn`t seem very likely.

So, there are changes coming.  The CIA has this dissent channel, not in order to give people a chance to speak their minds, but in order to avoid the dangers of group thinker.

This is -- this is a response to situations like the Cuban missile crisis and Vietnam where looking back on it -- Iraq war, too.

Where looking back on it, people said there wasn`t enough discussion.  Maybe if we`d had a more open discussion, we could have avoided some mistakes.  It`s a matter of national self preservation at least that exist.  But how much longer will they exist for?

And how ferociously will the president try to turn the United States government into something like a single-minded entity?

And the question for all of us is, what happens to people who are either forced out or who resign on principle? Do Americans care? Do they find support or they left one-by-one to be picked off?

O`DONNELL:  Well, speaking of purges, certainly the president was trying to purge Sally Yates from news coverage, any future news coverage tonight by announcing his choice for the Supreme Court. 

Which is as I say, we will discuss it at some point in the program, but I just want to give Sally Yates her moment.

It`s the most poignant moment we could possibly have found.  And I found this video online just after I finished my program here last night at 11:00 p.m.

When in her confirmation hearing for her last confirmation at the Justice Department, Jeff Sessions asked her specifically what she would do if given an unlawful order by the president.

Let`s watch this moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA:  But at the end, what the president wants to execute are unlawful, should the attorney general or the deputy attorney general say no?

SALLY YATES, LAWYER:  Senator, I believe that the attorney general or the deputy attorney general has an obligation to follow the law and the constitution and to give their independent legal advice to the president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  So, David Corn, the president fired her --

CORN:  Right --

O`DONNELL:  For doing what she promised Jeff Sessions she would do.  For doing what she promised Donald Trump`s choice for attorney general what she would do.

CORN:  Yes, and the firing to me is not as bad as the way they -- you know, characterized it as betrayal.

If Donald Trump can`t understand that there are differences of opinion when it comes to these legal policies and can`t recognize it, a thousand people in the State Department see that this is not helpful to our security and he can`t absorb that, then we`re in for a whole mess of trouble in a lot of ways.

Now, you`re talking about how tonight he`s trying to change the subject.  But it seems like every two days, he`s trying to change the subject from something else.

We`re not talking about his financial conflicts of interest much anymore, the connections to Russia.

You know, they`re being investigated by the Senate Intelligence Committee we`re told.

So, we don`t know how thoroughly or what the FBI is doing.  So, this guy really goes from channel changing to channel changing every couple of days.

And I think it`s getting kind of hard for us to keep up with these stunts. 

O`DONNELL:  It is.  And David Frum, last night we speculated on what would this mean to Jeff Sessions` confirmation process?

Well, what it meant today was his vote in committee was delayed because of all of that disruption that happened last night at the Justice Department.

And furthermore, we had all the other confirmation votes that were scheduled in committees delayed because Democrats boycotted the committees so that they could not obtain a forum.

And I`m not sure whether any of that would have happened if we didn`t have the events of last night with Donald Trump firing the acting attorney general.

FRUM:  But you know, just to follow up on what you said when David said, the subject -- the channel is changed again and again and again.

And yet somehow, it`s always the same show.  One of the things I note, for all the ferocity of the confirmation battles that are coming is how quickly General Mattis, General Kelly and Congressman Pompeo passed through the Senate.

Democrats on the Senate understood that the United States does need to have a working national security system in place and made sure it was there.

And the bigger story is trying to -- trying to keep a sense of what is normal in the U.S. government.

Arguing about Supreme Court Justices, normal.  Arguing about Russian espionage at the highest levels, not normal.

O`DONNELL:  David Frum, thank you very much for joining us tonight, really appreciate it. 

FRUM:  Thank you. 

O`DONNELL:  Coming up, the first city to officially join a legal challenge against President Trump`s executive order.

The resistance now is expanding to legal challenges from cities.  And also the Trump Supreme Court nominee, how is he different from Antonin Scalia, whose seat he will be taking and how is he different from Merrick Garland, whose seat he will also be taking.  

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL:  The Canadian parliament is holding an emergency session tonight to debate how to respond to President Trump`s ban on immigrants and refugees from seven nations.

Canadian MPs are debating whether or not to allow more refugees into Canada to counter the United States immigration ban.

Canada agreed to take more than 40,000 refugees this year.  Up next, Republicans are shocked, just completely shocked that all Democrats aren`t rushing to support President Trump`s nominee to the Supreme Court.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  Today, I am keeping another promise to the American people by nominating Judge Neil Gorsuch of the United States Supreme Court to be of the United States Supreme Court.

(APPLAUSE)

So was that a surprise? Was it?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  In the surprise to absolutely no one, the president nominated the most easily confirmable person in his very public list of possible Supreme Court nominees.  A list dictated to him in effect and approved by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

First, the White House leaked who the three finalists were for the position, then who the two finalists were.

And yesterday began leaking who the actual winner of the Trump selection process was, Judge Neil Gorsuch.

The president decided to schedule the announcement in prime time and in the process got all four of the major broadcast networks to cut into their entertainment programming.

Thereby making this without a doubt the most watched announcement of a Supreme Court nominee in history.

Something that all other presidents have made the mistake of doing during normal business hours.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Today, I am nominating chief Judge Merrick Brian Garland to join the Supreme Court. 

(APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  Nobody cutting through any soap operas for that one. 

Joining us now Jeffrey Rosen; President and CEO of the National Constitution Center, professor of law at the George Washington University Law School.

And the author of the book "The Supreme Court: The Personalities and Rivalries that Defined America".

Also with us Emily Bazelon; senior research scholar and fellow at Yale Law School and a staff writer at the "New York Times Magazine".

Emily, first, can we fix him on the scale in relation to Merrick Garland? We have moved to the right.  How far to the right?

EMILY BAZELON, STAFF WRITER, NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE:  We have moved far to the right.  Judge Gorsuch talks about himself in terms of Scalia.

He talks about his strict adherence to the constitution as it was written in the 18th century.  That`s a very Scalia-like idea.  And he`s written some opinions that demonstrate that.

For example, he found that employers who didn`t want to provide contraception for women because of their religious believes did not have to do that. 

So, there are some --

O`DONNELL:  Under the Affordable Care Act?

BAZELON:  Exactly --

O`DONNELL:  Yes --

BAZELON:  Under Obamacare.  And so, there are some indications that he will be -- you know, a very strong conservative voice on the Supreme Court. 

He`s also an excellent writer.

O`DONNELL:  Jeffrey, where do you put him in relation to Merrick Garland whose seat this was supposed to be and in relation to Justice Scalia whose seat this was.

JEFFREY ROSEN, PRESIDENT & CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, NATIONAL CONSTITUTION CENTER:  Well, he`s absolutely right.  He`s far more conservative than Judge Garland.

And in interesting ways he might even be more conservative in some areas than Justice Scalia and more liberal than others.

The big area is regulation.  Judge Gorsuch has criticized the doctrine that says that judges should defer to executive agencies and their regulations.

And that was an area where Justice Scalia was much more differential.

On the other hand, in criminal cases, Judge Gorsuch has been a strong enforcer of the Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures as Judge Scalia was in some cases. 

But the real -- the bottom line is, this is someone who clerked for Judge Anthony Kennedy.  Kennedy trusts Gorsuch.  Gorsuch has the ability to move Kennedy to the right.

And maybe even persuade Kennedy to step down because now Kennedy would contrast the Trump pickers to pick people he trust.

So, it`s really hard to imagine a more effective conservative voice for really moving the conservative agenda forward.

And Judge Gorsuch is in that sense a home run.

O`DONNELL:  Emily, a lot of speculation about that in the last few days. 

That this nominee was directed at a specific Supreme Court Justice who is 80 years old, Anthony Kennedy to say, look, if you`d like to rest, this is the kind of nominee we put up.

BAZELON:  And -- 

O`DONNELL:  But that --

O`DONNELL:  But putting him up now doesn`t mean that`s who you put up to replace Kennedy.

BAZELON:  Well, exactly, that`s true.  It sort of signals reassurance but doesn`t provide any guarantees that the next choice will be this kind of choice.

So, we`ll see what effect it has on Justice Kennedy.  I think Jeff is absolutely right, that Gorsuch is the kind of temperament as well as intellect who could really be very effective in building coalitions for conservatives on the court. 

O`DONNELL:  Jeffrey, was there anyone else on the public list of possible nominees who would have been more acceptable to Democrats?

ROSEN:  More acceptable to Democrats? But you know, that`s a really interesting question.  A list was vetted by the Heritage Foundation unless I am missing someone.

I mean, Judge Haroldy(ph) arguably was a little bit less of a legal intellectual than Judge Gorsuch, and in that sense arguably more pragmatic.

But the thing about Judge Gorsuch is he`s just so well qualified.

And he is liked by both sides that I think Democrats would be likely to oppose most nominees and they`re going to have a hard time making a case that he`s not prepared for the court. 

O`DONNELL:  Emily, as you recall, Chuck Schumer was one of the first to speculate years ago that maybe it`s not about qualification.

Maybe they`re all going to be qualified.  Maybe we should be voting on specifically how we expect them to rule.

And if we don`t like the way they`re going to rule, we should vote against them. 

BAZELON:  Well, this is the huge unsettled question about advice.

The consent that we`ve had since the Senate rejected Judge Bork for the Supreme Court.

And it goes back and forth.  And the real difference -- 

O`DONNELL:  But they settled down for a long time after Bork into what seemed like a, OK, Harvard Law School, fine.

You know, just -- and massive overwhelming majorities for nominees. 

BAZELON:  And that was generally true.

O`DONNELL:  Yes --

BAZELON:  And then of course we had a huge change when President Obama chose Merrick Garland --

O`DONNELL:  Yes --

BAZELON:  And --

O`DONNELL:  Until then, yes --  

BAZELON:  Exactly.  And so, we`re in a very strange world and in a kind of pre-Merrick Garland world, I think Gorsuch would be uncontroversial.

But because a lot of Democrats and liberals see this as a stolen seat, that`s the sort of tricky part of this.

From the Democrat`s point of view we shouldn`t be having this conversation at all.

O`DONNELL:  Yes, Emily Bazelon, Jeffrey Rosen, we will be returning to the strange world of the Supreme Court confirmation many times and we`d like to have you back many times.

Thank you for joining us tonight.

BAZELON:  Thank you --

ROSEN:  Thank you --

O`DONNELL:  Coming up, the opposition to the president`s Supreme Court nominee.  And the first city to sue the president over an executive order, San Francisco.  The San Francisco city attorney will join us. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:  A justice can be active for 50 years and his or her decisions can last a century or more and can often be permanent. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  And that is exactly what opponents of Supreme Court nominees always worry about.  Every nominee now faces some opposition.  And tonight, protesters gathered outside the Supreme Court of the United States in anticipation of the president`s announcement.  Joining us now Chad Griffin the president of the human rights campaign who took part in tonight`s protest.  And Alencia Johnson, director of constituent`s communication of planned parenthood. 

Chad, what was it like out there in the protest and were you surprised that he chose Gorsuch?  At this point there was very little suspense left. 

CHAD GRIFFIN, PRESIDENT OF HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN:  Well, we were standing out there Lawrence, shoulder to shoulder with civil rights leaders across a very broad and diverse coalition.  I don`t think anyone was particularly surprised because if you look what Donald Trump has done in his first 11 or 12 days in office, it`s appoint extremist after extremist in the cabinet, to the justice department, to the department of health and human services, in the white house. 

And this is just a continuation of those extreme anti-equality appointments.  And I think not only are civil rights leaders scared, but I think as the American people get to know this judge and get to know his history, I think the American people are going to be scared.  They expect a system of systems and balances.  This is a radical judge, a radical and extreme judge that is there to be a rubber stamp for what you have seen Donald Trump do over these last 11 or 12 days. 

O`DONNELL:  Alencia, democratic senators rushing to opposition.  Elizabeth Warren may be the first out of the gate tonight saying based on the long and well established record of Judge Gorsuch, I will oppose his nomination.  Sherrod Brown of Ohio, I cannot support this nominee.  Little bit surprising, Ron Widen who you would not expect to be one of the first out there immediately saying no senator who believes that individual rights are reserved to the people and not the government can support this nomination. 

I believe there`s a few more who are already out there, specifically opposing Gorsuch. 

ALENCIA JOHNSON, DIRECTOR OF CONSTITUENT`S COMMUNICATION OF PLANNED PARENTHOOD:  Yes.  And you know the American people deserve a thorough review of this justice`s positions.  And as we`ve seen in the last week the Supreme Court is the last step or sometimes the only step that we have to defend people`s fundamental constitutional rights.  And for Planned Parenthood, we want to send a clear message to the senate that opposing Roe V Wade, something that is supported by seven in 10 Americans is a disqualifier. 

O`DONNELL:  And Chad, Chuck Schumer has issued a statement tonight saying that any nominee should be required to clear 60 votes making the point that president Obama`s two nominees who were confirmed did clear the 60 vote margin. 

GRIFFIN:  Well, look, I think we are in very different times.  This is a Supreme Court seat that belonged to another justice, to Merrick Garland.  And republican leadership held up that appointment for nearly a year.  And I have to tell you, Lawrence, I think the American people are going to demand that not only democrats but republicans, particularly moderate democrats and republicans in purple states, they`re going to expect that they stand up to this nominee.  That`s what`s going to be expected. 

And I think you`re going to see our members and others all across this country reaching out, calling their senators, demand that they stop this extreme nominee to the Supreme Court.  His positions are out of the mainstream.  And that was Donald Trump`s intention.  He was looking for a radical justice.  He was looking for a rubber stamp.  And that`s why he chose from a list, a list that was created by an extreme group that has been an opponent of equality every single instance we have come up on the ballot or before a court.  That`s who gave him the list to choose from. 

O`DONNELL:  But Alencia if by some miracle the democrats were able to stop this confirmation, it would be another name on that list. 

JOHNSON:  Right.  And what we`re looking for is someone that holds -- upholds the constitutional right to safe legal abortion.  And to pin on Chad`s point, there`s a coalition of folks who are fighting for fundamental human rights to be protected.  And that is something we hope that this -- a Supreme Court nominee will prove that he could do.  But we are a little bit concerned and that he has a spotty record on defending women`s access to reproductive healthcare.  And we`re hoping that the senate has a thorough review of that. 

O`DONNELL:  Chad, how strategic are you prepared to be on this if you reach the conclusion that if you could somehow stop this nominee you`ll just get something worse after that? 

GRIFFIN:  Well look, I`m optimistic.  I`m optimistic that the American people just as they have stood up against so many other things in these last 11 days.  You saw with the Muslim ban, what you saw with the women`s march, it`s something that we have not seen in decades of American politics.  And I think what senators are going to have to consider is that just as a vote for Jeff Sessions is a vote for the Muslim ban, a vote for this nominee is a vote in favor of the Muslim ban, is a vote in supportive of his hobby lobby decision where he calls people, who are he calls corporations people and gives them a license to discriminate. 

This is a justice who on the bench as judge, he denied a transgender woman access to critical healthcare.  He has called marriage equality part of the liberal social agenda.  I think the American people are going to insist that their United States senators stand up to this extremism.  They are seeking checks and balances on this president and this nominee does not serve as a check and balance on this president and the radical agenda that we`re seeing come out of the white house. 

O`DONNELL:  Chad Griffin that will have to be the last word tonight.  Alencia Johnson thank you very much for joining us on this first night of what will be the confirmation battles for the Supreme Court nominee.  Appreciate it.  Coming up the city of San Francisco is preparing to sue President Trump directly and the Trump administration over an executive order.  The city attorney will joins us next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL:  Today San Francisco became the first city in the country to officially join the legal resistance to the Trump presidency by suing the president over his executive order blocking sanctuary cities from receiving federal funds.  City attorney Dennis Herrera specifically named President Donald J. Trump as the lead defendant in the lawsuit and addressed the president directly today when he announced the lawsuit. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DENNIS HERRERA, SAN FRANCISCO CITY ATTORNEY:  You`re not emperor who rules by fiat.  We all have to abide by the rule of law.  And we`re going to make that quite clear in this, that San Francisco is in accordance with the law.  We`re going to live by the law.  And Mr. President and your administration, you need to do it as well. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  Joining us now Dennis Herrera, the San Francisco City Attorney.  Mr.  Herrera, Donald Trump -- the presidency hasn`t denied any federal funding to San Francisco yet.  And yet -- but you`re already suing.  Why didn`t you wait to see if any funds were going to be denied? 

HERRERA:  Because the executive order in terms of its enforcement mechanism makes it quite clear that it`s unconstitutional on its face.  And the president, both in his recent statements at the Philadelphia conference and when he was a candidate, makes it quite clear that San Francisco is on the hit list.  And we`re not going to wait to chase funds after our budget season is closed and put our communities at risk.  So we took the preemptive step to say that both the executive order and the law that it`s based on are clearly unconstitutional on their face. 

O`DONNELL:  This is where the Trump conflict of interest package gets very interesting, because he has a big Trump office building in San Francisco on California Street I believe it is.  And -- so it`s hard to imagine him denying funding to the police department whose job it is to protect his properties in San Francisco. 

HERRARA:  I think the whole thing is absolutely ridiculous, Lawrence.  He talks about wanting to protect public safety and protect streets.  Well that`s exactly what the sanctuary ordinance both here in San Francisco and throughout the country in the 400 municipalities and counties that have them are designed to do, foster, communication and assistance between immigrant communities and law enforcement.  So you`re absolutely right, cutting off your nose to spite your face isn`t a real smart way to go. 

O`DONNELL:  And as you know, the president hasn`t divested any of his interests in his holdings and there`s absolutely no evidence that he is not involved in the running of his businesses.  If -- and the head of Trump hotels recently in California said he wants to expand the chain all over the country, specifically San Francisco.  Would applications for permits to operate a Trump hotel in San Francisco be greeted warmly by the city administration? 

HERRARA:  Well, I would tell you that I don`t think that the political family here is well disposed to how president trump has been conducting himself recently.  And it`s I will tell you from a legal perspective, we`d be making sure that trump hotels adheres to the law and that they`re not involved in any unfair business practices.  And I`m sure that other folks and respective bodies would treat the Trump hotels fairly but I`m sure they`d take a very close look at how they`re conducting themselves. 

O`DONNELL:  And what do you expect is the next stage in this litigation? 

HERRARA:  Well, we will be awaiting the government`s response.  I would imagine that`s going to happen in fairly short order.  We got a notice today that from the court that sets a fairly aggressive schedule for the first case management conference.  So we anticipate that we`ll be getting a response from the government and appearing in court in fairly short order. 

O`DONNELL:  San Francisco City Attorney, Dennis Herrera, thank you very much for joining us tonight.  Really appreciate it. 

HERRARA:  Thank you, Lawrence. 

O`DONNELL:  Coming up, republicans feeling protests -- feeling the pressure from the protests, especially the pressure from women.  Wait until you see this video, it`s coming up. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL:  The resistance is getting to Republican Members of Congress. I mean, really getting to them.  Here`s congressman Dave Brat of Virginia talking about how women are really bothering him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVE BRAT, CONGRESSMAN OF VIRGINIA:  Since Obamacare and these issues have come up, the women are in my grill everywhere I go and they come up, when`s your next town hall.  Believe me, it`s not for positive input.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  Congressman Brat is complaining that women are complaining that he refuses to hold any town halls.  There is now a Facebook page called the Seventh District Town Hall Meeting which is urging the Congressman to have town hall meetings.  The congressman told the Richmond Times Dispatch that he believes that people demanding that their representative have a town hall meeting are "paid activists." Karen Connolly, one of Congressman Brat`s constituents told the paper, nobody is being paid or put up to this by an outside organization. 

Everybody is putting in their time and effort because they`re dissatisfied with the representation.  They feel dismissed and that their concerns aren`t valid because they`re not being responded to.  She told the paper her family uses health insurance obtained through Affordable Care Act.  In a Facebook post on Monday the Congressman said over the past couple of weeks my office has been inundated with phone calls and e-mails an comments on social media requesting a town hall meeting and believe me, I fully intend to have plenty of town halls that are open and transparent as soon as our first 100 days agenda is implemented and we come up for a breath of air. 

In other words, he intends to have a town hall meeting after he has repealed Obamacare, the issue that Karen Connolly wants to talk about at his town hall meeting. He will have a town hall meeting after voting for a massive tax cut, primarily for the rich, which surely some of his constituents would like to discuss with him before he votes for it.  If any of you doubt that your phone calls and letters to a members of Congress have an effect just watch what`s happening to Congressman Brat.  Coming up how long can Republicans hide from the protesters?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED INDIVIDUALS:  Who`s court?  Our court.  The Supreme Court is under attack.  What do we do? Stand up, fight back.  The Supreme Court is under attack. What do we do?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PATRICK LEAHY, SENATOR:  I don`t know when I`ve ever had so many thousands of letters and e-mails, even from my little State of Vermont say, ask the questions.  We demand to know the answers.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  Letters and e-mails work.  Back with us is David Corn, Washington Bureau Chief from Mother Jones.  Also with us Karine Jean- Pierre, Senior Adviser and National Spokesperson for moveon.org.  And Karine we`re seeing with Congressman like Dave Brat and John Faso in upstate New York kind of a fear of dealing with their constituents on this because they are hearing a lot of opposition to repealing Obamacare.

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, SENIOR ADVISOR/NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON AT MOVEON.ORG:   That`s exactly right.  I mean we -- just a couple of weeks ago when the healthcare issue was on the line and that Republicans were talking about taking away healthcare for millions -- tens of millions people  they had these town halls and they were running out as we saw.  They didn`t want to deal with hundreds of people in the room.

O`DONNELL:  Yes.  So now they don`t want any more of those videos out there --

JEAN-PIERRE:  That`s right.

O`DONNELL:  Of them running out of the room.

JEAN-PIERRE:  That`s right.

O`DONNELL:  So they`re not even going into the room that they don`t have to them run out of.

JEAN-PIERRE:  That`s exactly -- as we heard your segment leading up to this.  And look moveon.org when we -- after the women`s march we did an emergency call and we had 60,000 people jump on the call.  Two days later we had resist Trump Tuesday.  And 10,000 people came out, did 200 events across the country, went to Democratic and Republican Congressional members` offices and asked the Republicans, hey, you know, this is a swamp that we were talking about.  Please don`t take away the healthcare of millions of people.  And we asked the Democrats, please have a backbone.  If you stand with the people, we will be there.  This is what`s been going on.  And we`ve also done more than 20,000 into these Congressional members` offices.  There`s a story in Arizona that says McCain and Flake can`t even keep up with the calls that are flooding in.

O`DONNELL:  David Corn, John Faso is a really interesting case here.  Big protest on Sunday up in his district in upstate New York and he`s the one in the leaked secret audio recording of the Republicans private meeting, was the one who was most worried about what the Republicans are doing, especially in relation to planned parenthood.  He`s saying, you know, do whatever you want to do with planned parenthood but don`t put it in the Healthcare Bill.  He had all sorts of warnings.  I mean he sounded on that secret audio like a no vote if the vote for held today.

DAVID CORN, JOURNALIST:  Now, there`s 66 million people who voted for Hillary Clinton and many of them were left feeling disappointed, angry, upset, how could you be in the majority and then see Donald Trump come in with his extreme and radical political agenda.  And they mobilized.  They mobilized in a planned event that started with a woman in Hawaii on a Facebook page a week and a half ago, the women`s march and they mobilized again spontaneously this weekend.  They`ve mobilized at these town hall meetings. And so we`ve seen this general resistance building.  And it`s about Trump and Russia, Trump`s financial conflicts, about his policies on reproductive rights, it`s on the Muslim travel ban, it`s on Obamacare.  And it`s sort of knitting together one of the largest, I think, protest oppositional grassroots forces that we`ve seen that in some ways I believe eclipses the tea party that started after Obama was elected.  And you want to get people angry, tell them we`re going to take away healthcare or if you have a preexisting condition, you`re no longer going to have your insurance any longer.  And people will get mobilized and eventually in some districts they are not overly gerrymandered Republicans will take notice and maybe even Democrats will take notice and try to move to the front of this opposition rather than stay in the rear.

O`DONNELL:  Karine, what I found so fascinating about the leaked audio of the Republicans  meeting, a lot of what they were saying, the people like John Faso were saying makes sense of you should be worried about what you`re trying to do.  There`s a moment where John Faso says, we`re just walking into a giant political trap if we keep going down this path.  And so he`s not -- as far as his constituents can see, he`s not listening to him, but he`s listening to them as it turns out.  You know he`s telling his colleagues about them.

JEAN-PIERRE:  Right.  He`s incredibly worried.  He has an election in two years. And as David was mentioning tea party.  What did the tea party do? They just didn`t go into office. They primaried Republicans as well and so that is the concern that Democrats have, being primaried and also Republicans have by not listening to their constituents and running away from their town hall.

O`DONNELL:  And David to go back to that secret audio that was so revealing is -- CORN:  Yes.

O`DONNELL:  You don`t get anyone on the audio.  There`s no one on that tape defending the Republican approach and saying anything cogent or clear an this is why it`s going to work.  Don`t want -- no one addresses what John Faso says.  No one addresses specifically what any of the dissenting Republicans say in that room.

CORN:  The Republicans have a minority position now.  It`s odd, because the way the elections have worked out in our rigged system as Trump might say they have the majority of power.  But when it comes to healthcare, when it comes to reproductive rights, these are not majority positions.  And I think you know in the past they`ve been able to get away with this stuff because the public or the Democrats or Progressives in opposition weren`t as mobilized or energized.  They`re now seeing a highly energized force that goes beyond progressives to moderates so look at what`s happening in Washington with Donald Trump with great fear and anger and outrage.  And they know they`re in the line of fire.  So, you know, they have no way to replace Obamacare.  They`ve been talking about repealing it.  They are in sort of painted into their own corner. And I don`t know how they`re going to get out of this clean.

O`DONNELL:  And Karine update for the Republicans on the women`s march. The updated more accurate figures indicate there were about a million people in D.C. and not a half a million. That`s what I was hearing from everyone who was there and 5 million worldwide. So the opposition is bigger than they thought.

JEAN-PIERRE:  And that`s exactly right.  Look Trump on Friday on inauguration day after vowing to be President for everyone, gave a divisive, divisive right wing nationalism speech.  And then the next day everybody came out.  And always say the leaders of the Democratic --

 

END