Show: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell Date: February 21, 2017 Guest: David Corn, Steven Goldstein, George Will, David Frum, David Corn, John Gartner, Lance Dodes
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: Today, minutes after his American -- and even though the Spanish made that request last year, Austria decided that today, minutes after his American extradition hearing, today that would be as good a time as any to arrest him on those other European charges.
So, frankly, right now it`s anybody`s guess as to how this affects whether or not this guy ever gets extradited to the U.S.
Maybe he`ll get extradited to Spain instead. We raised this last night, this is worth following from an American perspective because of the open question as to whether the Justice Department under the Trump administration is going to go after Putin`s friends.
Whether the Trump administration Justice Department would go after a Putin- linked oligarch.
Will they bring him back to this country to face charges or would they let it slide? We still don`t know if he`s coming down to this country to face charges.
It got really weird today in that court house elevator, we`ll stay on it. I don`t know. Watch this space.
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: Hey Rachel, special guest tonight, someone who Donald Trump spent some serious time campaigning to have fired from "Fox News".
Campaigned that apparently is successful.
MADDOW: Oh, well, you know, the people who he has invade against, it`s a good group of people. We ought to all got to get together at some point.
O`DONNELL: There`s a badge of honor in that. And one of them --
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence --
O`DONNELL: Will join us. Thank you, Rachel. So, Donald Trump knows what he wants us to talk about tonight.
You can always tell what a politician wants you to talk about because they have photo-ops designed to force you to talk about that.
But there are so many other important things for us to be talking about tonight and we will be doing that.
But one thing you can say about Donald Trump so far, he has made congressional town halls great again.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Anti-Semitism is horrible and it`s going to stop.
CHUCK TODD, MODERATOR, MEET THE PRESS: Too little, too late Mr. President. He should have done this Thursday.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: No matter how many times he talks about this, it`s never good enough.
TRUMP: I am the least anti-Semitic person that you`ve ever seen in your entire life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a cancer of anti-Semitism growing in this White House. President Trump and Steve Bannon are leading it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Notorious white nationalist is a special adviser to the president. Would like to know your thoughts on that.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC: Members of Congress facing tough questions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was overwhelming evidence that a foreign country was meddling in our election.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why didn`t you pick someone with a commitment to quality public education? --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Public education --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cold doctor(ph), not coming back, and now these people don`t have the insurance they need.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obamacare, improve it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you can answer any of that, I`ll sit down and shut up like Elizabeth Warren.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is time to put country over party.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: We know what the president wants us to talk about tonight, and we know what the president doesn`t want us to talk about tonight.
He`s not going to get his way on this program. In a presidency that has become so invalent that it makes the last 70-year-old in the White House look like an unstoppable force of energy.
Donald Trump had exactly one thing on his schedule today, and he got that out of the way first thing in the morning when he had a photo-op at the national museum of African-American history and culture.
Photo-ops are the way politicians tell you what they are hoping you will talk about. A photo-op is a cynical, political manipulation that politicians in trouble are always hoping will change the subject.
And no politician in America is in more trouble than Donald Trump. The most unpopular first month president in the history of polling.
President Trump was so desperate to change the subject today that he actually set foot in a museum.
Something he may never have voluntarily done before in his adult life with the possible exception of attending glamorous parties in New York museums where he would have had the choice of gazing upon the beautiful women or the art.
Which do you suppose he chose? Donald Trump brought his serious face to the museum today to try to convince observers he was actually interested in the subject that he has never actually been interested in before -- African- American history and culture.
That could be a story worth talking about. The presidential candidate enthusiastically supported by the Ku Klux Klan white supremacist and neo- Nazi groups visits the National Museum of African-American History and Culture.
It`s not a great story for Donald Trump because he knows it brings up all of his own past racist issues as a landlord, as an attacker of Barack Obama`s academic credentials simply because Barack Obama is black.
And all the aid and comfort he has given to white supremacist groups. Donald Trump knew that all of that stuff would be thrown into the coverage of his museum visit today.
But he believed it was worth it. If it could change the subject from even worse stories for Donald Trump.
The stories he doesn`t want us to talk about. The news that although Donald Trump has found a new national security adviser, he still has the incompetent and reckless and racist Steve Bannon as a current member of the National Security Council.
The president doesn`t want us talking about that, he doesn`t want us talking about impeachment which is now being brought up at town halls that Republican members of Congress are having.
The president doesn`t want us talking about his mental health which is now being publicly diagnosed by psychologists and psychiatrists.
Two of whom will join us tonight. He doesn`t want us talking about 25th Amendment which the vice president can use to remove a mentally ill president.
He doesn`t want us talking about the gridlock of his legislative agenda, the complete failure of the Republican Congress to make any progress at all on tax cuts, on repealing and replacing Obamacare, on funding a wall on the southern border.
He certainly doesn`t want anyone to hear a single word of what George Will thinks of him, the conservative columnist who Donald Trump urged "Fox News" to fire. And so you will hear from George Will tonight in his first appearance on this program.
Before we get to all of that, let`s take a quick look at what Donald Trump had to say today at the National Museum of African-American History and Culture.
And you will see that every word comes from the heart. The heart of whoever wrote his prepared remarks.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: This tour is a meaningful reminder of why we have to fight bigotry, intolerance and hatred in all of its very ugly forms.
The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful.
And a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And on the same day, here`s how Donald Trump`s legislative agenda is playing in Iowa at Republican Senator Chuck Grassley`s town hall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With all do respect, sir, you`re the man that talked about the death panel.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re going to create one great big death panel in this country that people can`t afford to get insurance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, David Corn; a Washington Bureau chief for "Mother Jones" and an Msnbc political analyst.
And Steven Goldstein; the executive director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect. David, we know what the photo-op was about today, it was about changing --
DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, MOTHER JONES: Yes --
O`DONNELL: The subject, but it turns out even there, it`s impossible to change the subject to a subject that is just positive for Donald Trump.
That has no other side of the coin that does his damage -- does him damage.
CORN: Well, that`s because he has this long record. There`s only five days ago that he was basically telling a Jewish journalist who was asking about anti-Semitism at that wonderfully unhinged press conference to essentially sit down and shut up.
That`s only, you know, a week or so back, two weeks ago that the White House -- who used the word Jews in its statement issued on Holocaust Remembrance Day.
So, he goes to work each day and who does he probably spend the most time with? It`s Steve Bannon who was a champion of -- they call the alternative right, the alt-right.
But it really is white nationalist, and I know basically for being racist. But there`s a lot of anti-Semitism sprinkled in as well.
So, you know, he can try to talk about this other stuff for a day, reading off a no-card without any conviction or passion. But you know, it doesn`t sell to anyone who`s paying attention.
O`DONNELL: And Steven, the fish out of the water of Donald Trump really in any kind of museum.
STEVEN GOLDSTEIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ANNE FRANK CENTER FOR MUTUAL RESPECT: It`s remarkable. And what`s more remarkable about Donald Trump`s appearance today was his complete thin ear to the perception that is accurate that he is anti-Semitic.
There Donald Trump was this morning, and he expected like Moses, the waters to part because he said anti-Semitism was bad.
Donald Trump quacks, walks, and talks like an anti-Semite. That makes him an anti-Semite.
O`DONNELL: What`s an example of that?
GOLDSTEIN: Well, for example, he hired Steve Bannon. Steve Bannon we all know is notorious anti-Semite.
Donald Trump refused to include Jews and holocaust remembrance.
Denying Jews had a particular hurt in the holocaust is nothing short of holocaust denial and anti-Semitism at its worst.
This weekend, our organization and others begged Donald Trump, begged him to comment on the bombing, the bomb threats of JCCs. He wouldn`t do it. He wouldn`t talk about the desecration of 170 Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis.
So, what happened today, Lawrence, as you said, he read soullessly this statement, anti-Semitism is a very bad thing. Every Jewish person like myself who has a conscience should be shocked.
Here`s a man who doesn`t know how to stick to a teleprompter. Today he stuck to a teleprompter because he probably couldn`t say the words from his heart.
O`DONNELL: Let`s look at what happened at Chuck Grassley today where impeachments came up at a town hall, a Republican senator`s town hall in Iowa.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: Who brought up the impeachment?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator, I did.
GRASSLEY: OK, go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, I -- first of all, I want to -- I want to apologize for being so outspoken, but I do -- I am so unsettled.
It feels like we`ve got a juvenile running our country.
AUDIENCE: Here --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: David, there`s a --
CORN: Yes --
O`DONNELL: Polite Iowa discussion of impeachments on what is it? Day 32.
CORN: Well, you know, I don`t think there`s a lot of talk here in Washington about that, and it probably is premature.
But I will tell you, I get this in the green room here at the TV studio. I get this when I walk the halls of Congress.
Republicans will tell you, whether they`re elected Republicans or professional Republicans, consultants, staffers that they think Donald Trump is erratic.
That they think there are issues that cause them to be a frightening leader. And they, you know, all believe that there`s a certain amount of craziness going on.
Now, will any of them really say that publicly? No. They`re running scared, they`re afraid he`s going to tweet at them.
You know, this weekend, John McCain took sort of baby steps towards calling Trump a dictator or a crack pot.
You know, because of his attacks on the media. But by and large, there`s a consensus in Washington amongst Republicans that he may not be fit to serve.
But there`s little courage in terms of talking about that openly as you just saw in the -- like you just saw in the town hall meeting.
O`DONNELL: Oh, let`s see what it`s like at the end of a month too. Let`s look at --
CORN: Who knows?
O`DONNELL: Let`s look at what Senator McConnell run into today in his town hall meeting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The last I heard we held on for not coming back, and now these people don`t have the insurance they need because they`re poor.
And they worked them coal mines and they`re sick. The veterans are sick. The veterans are broken down.
They`re not getting what they need. If you can answer any of that, I`ll sit down and shut up like Elizabeth Warren.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And Steven, you worked in the Senate and the House. You know that when these guys come back -- at their town hall meetings, this is all taken very seriously.
As much as they might want to make it look like the people attacking them is something that they can fend off.
There`s not any senator who walks out of that town hall meeting and doesn`t take what happened with that woman very seriously.
GOLDSTEIN: Yes, Lawrence, you know as well as I do that when a senator or a representative gets three e-mails or three letters --
O`DONNELL: Yes --
GOLDSTEIN: It`s the equivalent of ten million.
GOLDSTEIN: So, right now --
O`DONNELL: They get a count every day.
GOLDSTEIN: Yes --
O`DONNELL: They get a report from the mail room. It used to be letters coming to Washington as you know. Phone call counts, how many calls? Saying this and that and they take them very seriously.
GOLDSTEIN: No profession listens to the last person in their ear as much as --
O`DONNELL: Yes --
GOLDSTTEIN: Politicians. It`s remarkable. Right now Mitch McConnell is having a total meltdown. Maybe not a bad thing. Maybe the republic will be safe because of it. And they are discussing a fact --
O`DONNELL: It`s part of the gridlock.
GOLDSTEIN: Steve, it`s part of the --
O`DONNELL: Meeting -- town hall meetings like that explain why Mitch McConnell has done nothing on Obamacare and has no plan for it.
GOLDSTEIN: Right, and Lawrence, I predict that if there`s impeachment against Donald Trump, it`s going to have to happen in the first year.
Because Republicans are going to want the second year to recover. So something will happen soon --
O`DONNELL: Or the congressionals, yes --
GOLDSTEIN: Or the congressionals, for sure.
O`DONNELL: Steven Goldstein, thank you very much for joining us tonight, I really appreciate it.
Coming up, the guests for tonight`s segment on the 25th Amendment are two mental health experts.
One has a petition saying that the 25th Amendment should be invoked to remove Donald Trump and install Mike Pence as the acting president on the grounds that Donald Trump is mentally unfit to serve as president.
But our next guest is the phrase maker who coined the term, political sociopath for Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO DONALD TRUMP: Not one network person has been let go.
Not one silly political analyst and pundit who talks smack all day long about Donald Trump has been let go.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Well, after Kellyanne Conway said that, one of them was let go.
The "Fox News" commentator who said that Donald Trump is a buffoon, a political sociopath, a bloviating ignoramus.
A counterfeit Republican, a charlatan, history`s most unpleasant and unprepared candidate and arrested development adolescent. The conservative commentator who said all of that will join us next.
O`DONNELL: When the Trump for president campaign started, Rupert Murdoch; the owner operator of "Fox News" reacted like most people thinking it was a bad joke and an embarrassment.
His first tweet about it was after the Trump announcement speech.
Rupert Murdoch defended Mexican immigrants against Donald Trump`s accusations about their criminal behavior and ended the tweet with the simple message, "Trump wrong."
About a week later, when Donald Trump insulted John McCain for being a prisoner of war, saying, quote, "I like people who weren`t captured."
Rupert Murdoch tweeted: "When is Donald Trump going to stop embarrassing his friends, let alone the whole country?"
We now know the answer to that question is never. And in the meantime, Rupert Murdoch has embarrassed himself and "Fox News" and the "Wall Street Journal" and the "New York Post" by reversing his personal position on candidate Trump and using every one of those media outlets he owns to support the Trump candidacy and now the Trump presidency.
To the point that an editorial writer at Rupert Murdoch`s "Wall Street Journal" was recently let go for being consistently anti-Trump.
While, of course, being consistently conservative. Any thoughtful conservative has known from the start that it is impossible to be both conservative and pro-Trump.
And that is why it has been impossible for shows like this to book intellectually honest and logical conservative supporters of Donald Trump.
They don`t exist. Pulitzer Prize-winning syndicated columnist George F. Will is the inheritor of William F. Buckley`s position as America`s leading conservative intellectual commentator and the most artful pro-stylist among them.
Throughout the Trump campaign, George Will became an increasingly lonely voice at "Fox News" by refusing to bend his conservative principles to find something positive to say about Donald Trump.
George Will has been anti-Trump from the start, the start being the 2012 campaign cycle when Donald Trump threatened to run for president.
That`s when George Will called Trump a political sociopath. Here is some of what George Will had to say on "Fox News".
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE WILL, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Donald Trump doesn`t do evidence. He says apoplexy is a substitute for arguments.
He`s a one trick pony. He consists of saying I`m rich, everyone who disagrees with me is stupid and all our problems are simple if you`ll put me in charge.
Donald Trump is a con artist and all the rest, a clown act.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The day after the Trump inauguration, "Fox News" confirmed that George Will`s contract was not being renewed.
Rupert Murdoch stopped tweeting about Donald Trump in the middle of the presidential campaign.
He was last seen entering Trump Tower on January 15th when he obtained an interview with Donald Trump for "The Times of London"; a Murdoch-owned newspaper.
When Donald Trump is looking for a friendly question, the news press conferences, he knows the safest place to look is wherever the Murdoch- owned press corps is sitting.
The story of Rupert Murdoch`s conversion to Trumpism is part of the story of conservative Republicans conversion to Trumpism. Paul Ryan`s conversion to Trumpism. Mitch McConnell`s conversion to Trumpism.
And to guide us through a discussion of how Republican conservatism converted to Trumpism, we are now joined by George F. Will; syndicated columnist, Pulitzer Prize winner and former Republican.
George, welcome to THE LAST WORD, very happy to have you here. Tell us about that middle of the summer moment where you broke with the Republican Party and publicly announced you were leaving the party.
What got you to that point?
WILL: Well, actually, it was on the 2nd of June, I remember it well, Paul Ryan for his own reasons in responding to his own pressures, and I`m not judging him about this.
He endorsed Mr. Trump, and the next morning I went in and changed my registration because if Paul Ryan, the very best of the Republican Party was going to help normalize Donald Trump, then I felt the party was going somewhere I did not want to go.
O`DONNELL: How do you trace that conversion? That, what happened to Paul Ryan, what happened to Rupert Murdoch, what happened to -- what you`ve seen happen to Mitch McConnell and so many others over the course of this year.
That last year --
WILL: Well --
O`DONNELL: That last year.
WILL: I sympathize with the leaders of the Congressional party. The congressional party has its own existence.
Its own corporate duties and the presidency is not everything. You know, the presidency is not all of the federal government, the federal government isn`t all of American governments, and American government isn`t all of American life.
So Mr. Trump is a small part of this. Larger than perhaps we wish he were, but the modern presidency has become swollen beyond all the founders recognitions.
But that being so, Mr. McConnell and Mr. Ryan have their own duties and their own imperatives and their own people to lead.
I am a free agent however. I do not have to do that. I`ve spent 40 years at the project of the Bill Buckley really began in the mid 1950s, of making American conservatism intellectually coherent and politically palatable.
That is incompatible with the Trump presidency.
O`DONNELL: As you look back on the history of the Republican Party and the conservative movement, do you see now any signs of the seeds being planted here or there for what eventually gave us Donald Trump as a Republican nominee and now a Republican president?
WILL: I really don`t. I really think he`s what the economist call an exogenous factor. Something that swooped in from God knows where.
Take for example Mr. Bannon. Mr. Bannon is a recognizable phenomenon. He`s a continental European right winger.
Blood, soil, throne, alter all the rest. There really is no American pedigree for that kind of thought. This is -- this is -- I hate to use the word to a protectionist president, this is an import from Europe.
O`DONNELL: George, you suffered the Trump assaults on Twitter that were non-stop including at a certain point, him saying on Twitter, "Fox News" should fire George Will. Did you ever feel a pressure coming from "Fox News" about that issue?
WILL: None, no one at "Fox" ever tried to rein me. It`s an analog here. When I went to work in my first job in Washington journalism, was as Washington either -- Bill Buckley`s "National Review".
I began that in January 1973 just as the Watergate cover-up was about to unravel. And Bill Buckley was stuck with me. I very quickly decided that Richard Nixon was guilty and was -- and eventually Watergate would be traced to the Oval Office.
Bill Buckley never once tried to restrain me, although I was hurting him with some of the contributors who helped keep "National Review" floated that time.
And with regard to "Fox News", no one ever pressured me. Now, I was not invited to participate in the coverage of the Cleveland Republican Convention, but that`s their decision.
But no one ever spoke to me about that and I have nothing but fond memories of working with Chris Wallace and James Rosen and all the rest.
O`DONNELL: But there were some really awkward friction points there. You had reviewed for example Bill O`Reilly`s book, just simply the finest review I`ve read of an O`Reilly book.
In what he considered to be the most vicious and unfair, possible terms. And it`s hard to imagine they`re not being some kind of tensions in the hallways about that.
WILL: Well, I`m sure that there are lots of tensions in the hallways at the News Corps in New York, I gather.
But yes, I think that there is "O`Reilly Factor" at "Fox News", and I certainly got cross-wise with them.
But that`s my job is to do things like that. I mean, one of the projects of the American left has been to discredit Ronald Reagan.
They got an enormous assist from Bill O`Reilly`s perversely named book "Killing Reagan".
I read it which maybe more than O`Reilly`s done, I don`t know --
Decided it was an outrage and acted accordingly.
O`DONNELL: What happens now to George Will conservatives? George Will Republicans and/or former Republicans.
As you approach future ballots of people who are supporters of Donald Trump on the ballot as Republicans or a Donald Trump re-election campaign?
WILL: Well, Donald Trump has to perform now. The next thing he has to do is submit a budget.
When the budget comes up, calling for a trillion-dollar in infrastructure spending, a tax cut that will lose by bipartisan assessment $5.8 trillion over a decade, plus an increased military spending.
Plus protectionism which means government deciding what Americans can consume at what prices and then what point are these.
What`s called economic planning and crony capitalism and all the rest of them. When that budget comes out, people are either going to rediscover their conservative convictions or there`s going to be a banquet.
A feast of people eating words they`ve spoken for 30 years. I watch -- I`ll tell you who to watch. Watch Congressman Meadows from North Carolina. He`s the head of the freedom caucus.
The freedom caucus represents -- to paraphrase what Howard Dean said when he represented the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.
They represent the Republican wing of the Republican Party. These are the true blue conservatives and I think you`re going to find that at that point, conservatism begins to rediscover itself.
O`DONNELL: So then would it be the $9 trillion increase in the national debt that is right there in the budget documents that they`ve already filed?
Is that -- is that the thing we`re going to be hearing about the most?
WILL: Well, that will get your attention, certainly.
O`DONNELL: Yes --
WILL: But it is -- again, I think when they realize all that you embrace when you embrace protectionism, enormous executive discretion.
Government planning essentially what we can consume and how the economy will work and who should be winners and who should be losers.
When they realize the slippery slope they`re on, away from bedrock conservative principles, I think things will change by mid-summer.
O`DONNELL: And someone might have to remind them that tariffs are in fact sales taxes on goods sold in the United States paid by the American tax payer consumer.
And I have a feeling that George Will columns might be reminding them of that.
WILL: That will be -- conservatives will have to decide whether they really want a new revenant scream to the federal government.
O`DONNELL: George F. Will, thank you very much for joining us, really appreciate your first appearance here --
WILL: Glad to -- glad to be with you --
O`DONNELL: On the show, thank you. Coming up, the mental health professionals who are worried about President Trump`s fitness to serve.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: It was not a good day for Steve Bannon at The White House today because it was Lieutenant General H.R. McMasters first day as President Trump`s new National Security Advisor, that meant Steve Bannon has lost the compliant and sympathetic and incompetent conspiracy theorist general Mike Flynn who was the president`s first choice for national security advisor.
There is no reason that a competent National Security Advisor would ever want to include Steve Bannon in a national security council meeting and that issue came up. At Sean Spicer`s press briefing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If he advises the president who would prefer not to have the chief strategist as a member of the principle`s committee, would the president -
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think the president has made clear to him, as I said, he`s got full authority to structure the national security team the way he wants. Obviously it`s something like that we would come to the president and make that recommendation but the president would take that under high - you know, serious consideration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, David Frum, senior editor for the Atlantic, David Corn still with us. David Frum, so I heard two answers there from Sean Spicer, says the president has made it clear that he has full authority to structure the national security team the way he wants. OK, so he can get rid of Steve Bannon then there`s the next sentence, he can make that recommendation to the president and I`m sure the president would take that under serious consideration.
But even with the double answer, it`s not a good day for Steve Bannon when you get a competent professional person into that job to take the place of Flynn who was more than happy to have Steve Bannon in the room.
DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR FOR THE ATLANTIC: Shortly after the national security team was sworn in for the first time, I had lunch with a long time veteran of U.S. Intelligence and defense matters. And who was actually present. He was somebody who had begun as a Trump supporter. And he said the National Security Council had a strong smell of Iran conflict about it.
And what he meant by that was a lack of process, a lot of freelancing and failure of people on the National Security Council to understand what it`s for. The National Security Council does not exist to execute policy, but to deliberate about policy. But meanwhile, Bannon has been having a back channel to friendly allies like the German ambassador and has been expressing his view and perhaps the president`s that the E.U. would be better off smashed into little pieces to make it more vulnerable to Russian aggression.
And that is something that people have to take seriously.
O`DONNELL: And David Corn, that`s at the same time that Mike Pence is telling the Europeans we`re with you a 100 percent.
DAVID CORN, AMERICAN JOURNALIST: The issue with the Trump foreign policy is that there is no Trump foreign policy. There`s no core principles, no core convictions, so you have a conventional military veteran coming in as National Security Advisor who probably draws within the lines. And then you have Steve Bannon who is really completely out there but more importantly, Jared Kushner who was involved in the Israeli policy with no experience. But really have Donald Trump who has no clear idea and sort of pops into his head.
So, during the campaign, you could have him literally saying on the night that Mike Pence was giving his big convention speech that he would basically blow apart, NATO, and then Paul Manafort, we cannot say, that`s not what he said. But of course it was what he said. So now, latest today as David just alluded to is that Pence is in Germany saying we stand fully behind NATO and with the E.U. while Bannon`s telling the German Ambassador, well according to Reuters.
Well, you know, we want to break things up. So, I think this is going to be a big problem for the national security advisor and we`ll see if he can sort of corral people around Trump in to some form of coherence.
O`DONNELL: David Frum you mentioned Iran. Contrary which was a republican White House out of control in the sense is that we`re talking about. There`s also the model of Dick Cheney running his own operation in the Republican Bush White House where you served such that it ended up with his deputy, Scooter Libby, a convicted criminal defendant who had it - who sought the mercy of the president in the sentencing getting a sentencing commuted.
There`s no good history of these kinds of off book operations in the White House, is there?
FRUM: Well first I`m to have Scooter Libby has you said, he got a really raw deal. He did not - was no the source of the leak for which he was punished. That was Richard Armitage.
CORN: He lied to the FBI though.
FRUM: That`s never a wise idea. But the investigation is set in motion on false pretenses.
O`DONNELL: He got the same deal everybody gets when they gets caught lying to the FBI. But go ahead David Frum, please go ahead.
FRUM: But the difference in what happened with Dick Cheney, it would happen with Iran-Contra was, when Dick Cheney was the vice president of the united states. They were operating within a channel. Within a kind of process, the results may have been good or bad, but they were not a -- you were not running dual foreign policies within the same building the way they were during Iran-Contra. And the way that is happening now, where the formal policy of the United States is that we - is the same as it been since the Eisenhower administration.
But the President`s policy is entire - is much more in line with Putin`s policy? The people talk about this though as if you know, if the president and the defense secretary and the national security advisor have a deep and conscientious disagreement and they can`t resolve it then the President has to resign. That`s not the way it works. The president is (INAUDIBLE) foreign policy and if Donald Trump has a Putin aligned foreign policy and the national security advisor and secretary of defense and even the vice president have a traditional one, the president tends to prevail.
O`DONNELL: David Corn, what do you suppose the shelf life is for Donald Trump`s master mind Steve Bannon, Donald Trump`s brain, if Donald Trump continues to have the lowest -- if he goes from having the lowest first month polling of a president to the lowest second month, the lowest third month, the lowest fourth month?
CORN: Well, I would say that my guess would be that Reince Priebus is more in the firing line in terms of Donald Trump than Bannon at this point in time or Kellyanne Conway. Here Donald Trump, it seems - it seems, you know, he never can blame himself, right? He`s a narcissist but if something happens he does look to blame others. But really what happens in his circle is others find a scapegoat. They this person is what`s making you look bad. And I think we`re a bit of a way from putting Bannon into that position yet.
O`DONNELL: The Davids, Frum and Corn thank you both for joining us tonight. Really Appreciate it.
CORN: Sure thing.
FRUM: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, 25th amendment empowers the vice president and the majority of the cabinet to install the vice president as acting president whenever the president is, "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office." Our next guest believe that Donald Trump is now mentally unfit to discharge his powers and duties of the office.
O`DONNELL: Nuclear weapons changed everything about the presidency. Everything, and everything about the president himself became more important than ever before. American nuclear weapons empowered a single individual to start a world war in minutes to order the annihilation of millions of people in minutes and so character became more prominent issue in the presidential campaigning. Who is this person we`re entrusting our lives to?
Who is the person that the world is entrusting their lives to? This person who can fire off nuclear weapons around the world in minutes, that`s one of the reasons the 25th amendment was enacted in 1967 to clarify the line of succession in the presidency. In the nuclear age, we have to know who is in charge every minute. So when President George W. Bush had anesthesia during a colonoscopy he signed over the powers of the presidency to Dick Cheney as acting president.
Something that was made possible only by the 25th amendment and as I explained, the 25th amendment enables the vice president and the majority of the cabinet to vote to make the vice president acting president whenever they believe the president cannot carry out the duties of the office for whatever reason. In the nuclear age the mental health of the president became infinitely more important than it ever was before. The 25th Amendment anticipates mental illness in the president that prevents the president from carrying out his duties.
That`s one of the reason the Vice President and the Cabinet can remove the president and install the Vice President as acting President. The first time psychiatrists stepped forward to say something about a candidate was in the nuclear age when Republicans Barry Goldwater seemed all to eager to use nuclear weapons, 1964 President Candidate. 1,189 Psychiatrist co- signed an article saying that Barry Goldwater was psychologically unfit to be President.
And after that the American Psychiatric Association decided to institute a rule calling it unethical to offer professional opinions about someone without the professional examination of that person. That rule has been broken this year by a number of psychologist and psychiatrist who have decided that the more important rules to observe in the case of president Trump is the duty to warn. Mental Health Professionals have a duty to warn others when they see a danger presented to other people. They have a duty to violate patient confidentiality in cases like that.
There are now more than 26,000 signatures online petition entitled mental health professionals declare Trump is mentally ill and must be removed. The petition sites that the 25th amendment as the proper procedure for removing a mentally ill President. The author of that petition will join us
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Behind the walls of the Kremlin. They`re preparing Vladimir Putin for a first meeting with America`s president.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everything is under preparation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Compiling a dossier on Donald Trump`s mental strengths and weaknesses.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, John Gartner, the author of the online petition, mental health professionals declare Trump is mentally ill and must be removed. Also joining us, Lance Dodes, former Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. John Gartner, there we have the Russian`s doing a version of the work that you`re doing apparently compiling a psychological dossier present to Vladimir Putin on Donald Trump. Governments do this all the time within their intelligence community.
They employ psychology professionals to do exactly that within the intelligence community. You`re doing a version of this publicly and you`re doing it as I said, in violation of this long-standing rule since 1964 presidential campaign that you`re not supposed to diagnose people publicly who you have not seen privately and you`re never supposed to share any of the diagnosis that you`ve made privately. Why have you come to this point?
JOHN GARTNER, PSYCHOLOGIST: Because of exactly what you mentioned this duty to warn. If we could construct a psychiatric Frankenstein monster, we could not create a leader more dangerously mentally ill than Donald Trump. He`s a paranoid, psychopathic narcissistic who`s divorced from reality and lashes out impulsively at his imagined enemies. And this is someone as you mentioned who`s handling the nuclear codes. You know This Goldwater Law, rule, is frankly absurd from three different vantage points.
First the debacle that took place during Goldwater year was in the Freudian time. Before we have the diagnostic and statistical manual the great advance of the diagnostic manual is it gave us clear behavioral diagnostic criteria for every disorder. So whereas these psychiatrist were saying he had potty training issues and latent homosexuality issues that were unproved concepts.
We now know if we can observe someone`s behavior and their words, we know we can diagnose them. And actually this whole idea that the psychiatric interview is the gold standard for making an assessment, that`s just frankly not true. Empirical research shows that the psychiatric interview is one of the least reliable ways of forming a diagnosis that it`s -- that behavior and informants and we have thousands of hours of behavior and informants are much more accurate.
And finally, as far as ethics go, I would argue to my colleagues that those who don`t speak out are being unethical. That if we have some knowledge and understanding about the unique danger that Donald Trump presents through our psychiatric training and we don`t say something about it, history is not going to judge us kindly.
O`DONNELL: Dr. Dodes I`d like to show you some video of Donald Trump because everything we`re talking about is based on what you`ve been able to see him do publicly on video, and there was a moment that for me was the -- pardon the expression from an amateur, but the sickest moment of Donald Trump`s lying history. It was in a South Carolina debate when he said he lost hundreds of friends on 9/11. Let`s just look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: How did he keep us safe when the World Trade Center -- the world -- excuse me. I lost hundreds of friends.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: OK. now here`s the truth. It was not hundreds. The next day, 12 hours later on Meet The Press, he reduced the hundreds to -- he lost many, many friends. The truth is he lost zero. Donald Trump did not attend a single 9/11 funeral. He stands there in front of the debate audience and lost hundreds of friends of 9/11. The truth is he lost zero. He lost nothing. He suffered nothing on 9/11. What do you call that? What did we just see?
LANCE DODES, FRM PROFESSOR AT HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL: Well, it`s lying, but there are two pieces to it, I think. One is that he lies because of his sociopathic tendencies that Dr, Gartner was talking about. That he lies in the way anybody who scams people does. He`s trying to sell an idea or a product by telling you something that`s untrue. There`s that lie. There`s also the kind of lie he has that is in a way more serious. That he has a loose grip on reality.
We can say that because he lies about things which aren`t even that important to him, like the Electoral College majority and he`s been told it`s not true, but he keeps doing it. I think what that indicates is that he can`t stand an aspect of reality that he doesn`t want. So he rejects it. His grasp of reality and his attention to reality is loose, and extremely dangerous trait in a President that actually makes him unqualified.
O`DONNELL: And, John Gartner, I mean it`s imagined -- it`s certainly there are people who we could find who exhibit more overt mental illness, but they could never get themselves up on to a debate stage and put sentences together. it seems to me that your point is within the realm of people who could possibly win a major party nomination and then go on to win the presidency, this, you`re saying, is as sick mentally as you can get.
GARTNER: Right. This is literally the worst case scenario because you`re right, if he was a paranoid schizophrenic and wearing a tinfoil hat then he wouldn`t be elected President but he`s just sane enough as it were to pass, but actually detach from reality as the Dr. Dodes said so that what is real is fluid. It`s totally malleable according to his personality disorder. And so you have someone handling the nuclear codes who`s not in touch with reality and who`s paranoid who imagines he`s under attack by people who are not actually attacking him. Then what you have is a very dangerous combination of someone who can act on his paranoid fantasies in a way that can have catastrophic consequences.
O`DONNELL: I wish we had more time for this discussion. I`m sure we`ll come back to it another night. I really appreciate you joining us on this. Lance Dodes and John Gartner thank you very much for joining us.
DODES: You`re welcome.
GARTNER: You`re welcome.
O`DONNELL: We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: And the other thing chaos, zero chaos, if we are running -- this is a fine-tuned machine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That`s tonight`s Last Word. Tomorrow night in this space, a special Trump, the first month. It`s going to be a live two hour special. It will air at 10:00 p.m. tomorrow night. The 11th Hour with Brian Williams starts now.
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