The Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 3/20/2017

Guests: John Heilemann, David Corn, Jackie Speier, Rand Paul, Steve Beshear

Show: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell Date: March 20, 2017 Guest: John Heilemann, David Corn, Jackie Speier, Rand Paul, Steve Beshear

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: Questioning portion of the -- today was day one of the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.

Tomorrow, the questioning portion of the hearings will start. We don`t yet exactly know what path the Democrats will focus on with Gorsuch.

There`s also the question of why Democrats are there at all for the hearing. Today, a lot of the Democrats on the committee highlighted the fact that President Obama`s nominee for that seat, Merrick Garland never got a hearing in the Senate.

That question is still unanswered and looming over all of this. Why are the Democrats participating in a process that Republicans would not allow under President Obama?

But nevertheless, tomorrow`s hearing begins at 9:30 a.m. Eastern. You, of course, can watch it all here live on Msnbc.

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

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Hey, Rachel, two big losses this weekend, Chuck Berry and --

MADDOW: Yes --

O`DONNELL: Jimmy Breslin and turns out they were the same age. I mean, Chuck Berry was 90 and Jimmy Breslin was 88. I never thought of them in the same sentence.

But --

MADDOW: Yes --

O`DONNELL: They kind of came together this weekend. Guess which one of them gave me great career advice?

MADDOW: Chuck Berry or Jimmy Breslin?

O`DONNELL: Yes, all right, here`s a hint. I met him on a park bench in Manhattan.

MADDOW: I`m going to go with Jimmy Breslin --

O`DONNELL: Yes, Jimmy --

MADDOW: Yes --

O`DONNELL: Breslin. Jimmy Breslin.

MADDOW: Well done --

O`DONNELL: He was really quite amazing, and I`m going to --

MADDOW: Yes --

O`DONNELL: Tell that story tonight on Facebook live after the show.

But Jimmy Breslin is going to get the last word tonight, some very special words from Jimmy Breslin directly to Donald Trump, both of them, by the way, from Queens.

Two guys from Queens turned out very different.

MADDOW: Well, one of the greats. I look forward to it.

O`DONNELL: Thanks, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thanks, man.

O`DONNELL: Well, today, the resistance came to Congress as we witnessed the first ever congressional hearing about a tweet.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES COMEY, DIRECTOR, FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION: The FBI is investigating the Russian government`s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Russia, if you`re listening, I hope you`re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing.

COMEY: And whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia`s efforts.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The answer is, continues to be no. And at some point, take no for an answer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is Paul Manafort a subject in your investigation?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not going to comment on that.

SPICER: Paul Manafort who played a very limited role --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was the chairman of the campaign. He literally was running the thing.

SPICER: There was a question about what leaks occurred?

TRUMP: Wikileaks, I love Wikileaks.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: Was the president`s statement that Obama had his wires tapped in Trump Tower a true statement?

COMEY: I have no information that supports those tweets.

SCHIFF: So President Obama could not unilaterally order a wiretap of anyone?

COMEY: No, president couldn`t.

JONATHAN KARL, JOURNALIST: Is the president prepared to withdraw that accusation and apologize to the president?

SPICER: No.

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: We now know that the real fake news was coming out of the tweets from the president.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Today, the resistance to Donald Trump`s lies moved to a hearing room in the House of Representatives where the intelligence committee managed to conduct two separate hearings at the same time.

The Democrats conducted the first congressional hearing in history about a tweet. A tweet written by the president of the United States at 6:35 a.m., and that is the time of day that has produced some of Donald Trump`s most insane tweets.

Some of his most offensive tweets. Judging by Twitter alone, that may be the hour of the day when after what he, himself, describes as mostly sleepless nights.

The tempest within him rages to its most uncontrollable point. And it is the last hour of the day before he will be surrounded by people whose job it is to protect him from himself.

That is every White House staff`s job to protect the president from his own worst impulses and worst ideas. The few or bad impulses and bad ideas the president has, the more the White House staff can concentrate on governing.

President Trump has kept the White House staff in damage control mode for every one of the 60 days of his presidency. Here`s another look at that 6:35 a.m. tweet that was the subject of the hearing today.

We`re going to look at it again because every time I see this tweet, it feels like the madness is leaping out at you with every word, with each quotation mark.

"Terrible. Just found out that Obama had my wires tapped in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!"

The FBI director and the director of the National Security Agency testified today that there is nothing in that tweet that is true. Nothing.

They made it clear that it would be impossible for the president to have ordered a wiretap or any similar form of surveillance on Donald Trump or Trump Tower.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHIFF: Director Comey, was the president`s statement that Obama had his wires tapped in Trump Tower a true statement?

COMEY: With respect to the president`s tweets about alleged wiretapping directed at him by the prior administration, I have no information that supports those tweets.

And we have looked carefully inside the FBI. The Department of Justice has asked me to share with you that the answer is the same for the Department of Justice and all its components.

The department has no information that supports those tweets.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: There was a lot of important testimony in that hearing today. A lot of important questions. But it may be that the most important thing that happened in that hearing is what was not said in that hearing.

We`ll come to that in a moment. At the same time that the Democrats were conducting a hearing that was about the president`s tweet, the Republicans were conducting a hearing about Michael Flynn.

The adviser who Donald Trump used throughout his campaign. The man who President Trump made national security adviser for three weeks before he had to fire him.

And none of the Republicans in the hearing were scandalized or even slightly bothered by the reason that Donald Trump fired Michael Flynn.

Let`s listen to the senior Democrat on the committee tell the story of what happened to Michael Flynn.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHIFF: In December, Michael Flynn has a secret conversation with Ambassador Kislyak about sanctions imposed by President Obama on Russia over its hacking designed to help the Trump campaign.

Michael Flynn lies about the secret conversation. The vice president unknowingly then assures the country that no such conversation ever happened.

The president is informed that Flynn has lied and Pence has misled the country. The president does nothing. Two weeks later, the press reveals that Flynn has lied and the president is forced to fire Mr. Flynn.

The president then praises the man who lied to Mr. Flynn and castigates the press for exposing the lie.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The most important line in there, "the president does nothing." The Republicans or the committee were not investigating why the president did nothing.

For two weeks after discovering Michael Flynn`s lie, the Republicans on the committee were not investigating why the president only fired Michael Flynn after the lie became public in press reports.

Republicans on the committee were outraged. Outraged by the press reports themselves that revealed Michael Flynn to be a liar. The outrage was that those press reports were based on leaks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Talking about the significance of leaks and how important it is we stop them. And to me -- and I`ve been here a while, I`ve never seen such a sustained period of leaks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: He didn`t pay much attention to the Benghazi Committee which was leaking constantly. The Republicans spent the entire time condemning the leaks and throwing out names of Obama administration officials just as wild guesses for who might be responsible for those leaks about Michael Flynn`s lie.

And the Republicans did not spend one minute on Michael Flynn`s lie and why the president covered up that lie for two weeks until the press exposed the lie.

Now as unbalanced as the hearing appeared to be, here are the most important things to keep an eye on when you really take a look at that hearing.

In terms of Donald Trump`s relationship with the Congress and how far Republicans in Congress are willing to go in defending the president or not defending the president.

First of all, the Republicans allowed this hearing to take place. Paul Ryan could have stopped it and he didn`t. The Republican Chairman of the Committee Devin Nunes agreed to have the hearing. He did not have to do that.

He knew that the Democrats were going to use the hearing exactly the way they did. He knew they were going to use the FBI director and the director of the NSA to prove that Donald Trump lied about President Obama and he let that happen.

Republican Chairman of the committee never once defended Donald Trump`s tweet. He made no attempts to do that. He did what a lawyer representing a guilty client does, he changed the subject.

And the rest of the Republicans changed the subject with him to the outrage of the leaks about Michael Flynn. Consider where those Republican members of the House were sitting today in the 60th day of the Trump presidency.

Many of them in districts that Donald Trump won overwhelmingly. None of those Republicans are brave members of Congress. They`re not going to take any chances alienating all those Trump voters in their districts and so they didn`t say anything about the tweet.

Because they couldn`t. They couldn`t find a line of defense for Donald Trump on the tweet. They treated him as if he was guilty of lying in the tweet and there was nothing they could do about it.

But they were going to let their constituents hear them attacking the Democrats in some way. They were going to let their constituents hear them complaining about something.

They wanted to do what Donald Trump always does when backed into a corner. Complain of unfairness. And so the Republicans in that committee said nothing today that sounded like agreements with the Democrats.

Everything they said was a complaint against the most unfair force in Donald Trump`s world, the news media. That terrible dishonest media that accepts accurate leaks.

Whenever they can get them from the intelligence community, from others in the government, from anywhere. Not one of those Republicans raging about the leaks that took down Michael Flynn actually said one word in defense of Michael Flynn.

So every member of that committee, Republican and Democrat, treated President Trump as guilty of lying about President Obama in that 6:35 a.m. tweet.

And when you watch Congress closely, you always have to watch what they do and what they don`t do. What they say and what they don`t say.

And what they don`t say is as important as what they say. Frequently, the most important thing will be the thing that they don`t do or the thing that they don`t say.

No Republican on the committee sounded like Sean Spicer did today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KARL: He said that there`s no information to support the allegations that the president made against President Obama --

SPICER: At this time.

KARL: So is the president prepared to withdraw that accusation, apologize to the president? --

SPICER: No, we started the hearing, it`s still ongoing, and then as Chairman Nunes mentioned, this is one in a series of hearings that will be happening.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Chairman Nunes has already said Donald Trump was not telling the truth in that tweet. Said it before the hearing.

Sean Spicer is never going to admit that. Donald Trump is never going to admit that. If you want to know how bad a day it was for Donald Trump in the Republican House of Representatives today, ask yourself, what would Donald Trump have done if he was chairman of that committee and the Democrats wanted to have that hearing?

Do you think that Chairman Trump would have allowed them to have that hearing? Chairman Trump never would have allowed them to have that hearing.

If Donald Trump were chairman of that committee, he`d know he was going to get one of two stories. Going to have to live with one of two stories.

The story of the Democrats complaining that he wasn`t having the hearing or the story we got today of the FBI director and the NSA director exposing the president`s lies.

The Democrats and the FBI director and the NSA director did the work today in that hearing of exposing those lies, but the Republicans let them do it.

And that is the most important political piece of the drama that played out in that hearing room today. The Republicans are not attacking Donald Trump, but they`re not protecting him either.

And they could have. They could have prevented that hearing. Instead, they had that hearing on the day when Donald Trump`s job approval rating according to Gallup is the lowest in the history of a two-month presidency.

Thirty seven percent approve of the job Donald Trump is doing. Fifty eight percent disapprove. That is a significant drop from just a week ago when 45 percent approved and 49 percent disapproved.

And what did Donald Trump do in a week to get his disapproval rating to skyrocket? He just kept being himself. That`s what he`s going to keep doing.

If those numbers were reversed, if Donald Trump had a 58 percent approval rating and a 37 percent disapproval rating, his health care bill would be sailing through the House of Representatives and Republicans in the house would be defending his most insane tweets.

But that`s not where we are tonight. And so there is hope that the resistance to President Trump`s lies is now growing stronger.

So, that`s what began the day after his inauguration as a women`s march now has many active and effective branches including what we saw today in that hearing room in the House of Representatives.

We`re going to be joined next by John Heilemann, David Corn, they were both in that hearing room today.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COMEY: I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI as part of our counterintelligence mission is investigating the Russian government`s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

And that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia`s efforts.

As with any counterintelligence investigation, this will also include an assessment of whether any crimes were committed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: We will be joined by Democratic Congressman Jackie Speier who was at that hearing today. She is on her way to join us.

We`re joined now by John Heilemann and David Corn, they were both in attendance at the hearing. John Heilemann is co-author of "Game Change" and executive producer and co-host of "The Circus" on "Show Time".

David Corn is the Washington Bureau Chief for "Mother Jones" and an Msnbc political analyst. John Heilemann, what did you score as the most important moment in the hearing?

JOHN HEILEMANN, AUTHOR & EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, THE CIRCUS: Well, I think, you know, you just played it, Lawrence, and it was -- that we got the big shock was the way the hearing started.

I think for every member of the committee, they were -- they were all expecting Jim Comey to come in and say, to say that Donald Trump had lied about -- or had spoken falsely about President Obama`s wiretapping.

But on the question of ongoing investigations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, they expected him to say we don`t talk about ongoing investigations.

And so when we came out and said what he said, that there have been -- there`s an ongoing investigation and it`s been going on since July of 2016, there was a palpable electric jolt in that committee room as every one of those members who did not expect him to confirm that and did not know about the investigation with the exception, I believe, of the chairman and the ranking minority member.

The only two in the room I believe who knew about the investigation had been briefed prior by Comey. Everyone else in the room was shocked both by the existence of the investigation and more importantly by Comey`s willingness at this point to step forward and confirm that it existed.

O`DONNELL: And he did present a significant preamble about --

HEILEMANN: Right --

O`DONNELL: The normal practice being we do not discuss ongoing investigations.

HEILEMANN: Correct.

O`DONNELL: He alluded to the exceptions that we saw in the past including during the campaign and that exceptions occur only in extraordinary circumstances.

Very careful about ramping up to that and then giving us another giant exception to the comment -- and to the not-commenting on ongoing investigations.

David Corn, what did you see as the most important moment?

DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, MOTHER JONES: Well, I hate to agree with John, but I think he nailed it.

O`DONNELL: You can do that.

CORN: It`s -- but you know, he also said in that statement that he had been authorized --

O`DONNELL: Yes --

CORN: By the --

O`DONNELL: Right --

CORN: Justice Department to make that statement. That means it wasn`t just him doing it on his own, there were deliberations within the Justice Department -- and of course, Jeff Sessions, the Attorney General has recused himself so that he could not be a party to this decision-making.

You know, you spent a lot of time, rightfully so, Lawrence, in talking about how Donald Trump`s lie was exposed, but it was a lie that you and I and John and others have talked about for weeks now.

We knew there was really nothing to it. But to have it come from Comey was, indeed, significant. But now to know that this investigation started in July and it`s still ongoing.

So think about it, the FBI chief today came out and essentially said, my boss, the president, doesn`t tell the truth, and my boss, the president, was elected president with people who I`ve been investigating since July to see if they`re coordinating with a foreign power that waged a political attack against the United States.

The stunning thing was, as you noted, the Republicans only focused on the leaks. It was as if Comey said nothing about this investigation and said nothing about Trump`s, you know, false leak.

They were in on another alternative reality and I think it`s going to take some time for this to fully resonate that the president got elected in a campaign that is now being investigated by the FBI.

O`DONNELL: Yes, and in terms of what the Republicans were up to in the hearing, as I watched them and saw what they were doing, it seemed to me that this was basically an agreed-upon tactic --

CORN: Oh, yes --

O`DONNELL: We`re going to let the Democrats have their hearing and we`re not going to do a thing to defend Donald Trump on that tweet, we`re not going to step into that at all.

We are not ready to come out here and attack Donald Trump. I mean, maybe if they get a few more of these polls showing his disapproval rating in their own districts, they might be able to do that.

But they basically let this hearing go on. They had their separate hearing where they could make noises that sounded like outrage and objection and John Heilemann, like they`re objecting --

HEILEMANN: Right --

O`DONNELL: To something --

HEILEMANN: Right, yes --

O`DONNELL: But they weren`t objecting to anything that the Democrats were actually saying --

HEILEMANN: Right. Well, just remember, Lawrence, I think it`s as important in this context we`ve just been discussing that it was as much of a shock to the Republicans --

O`DONNELL: Yes --

HEILEMANN: That Comey confirmed the existence of the ongoing investigation as it was to the Democrats. So, yes, it`s clear that they had decided en masse beforehand that all they were going to do was talk about leaks.

And that they weren`t going to address any of the real substantive issues that the committee is meant to be investigating.

But I think -- they assume that they would be able to do that in the context of Comey not discussing and confirming the existence of the investigation. So suddenly their tactic which was very disciplined, but their tactic made them look completely --

O`DONNELL: Yes --

HEILEMANN: Unhinged and foolish in the context of the news that had just broken at the top of the --

O`DONNELL: Yes --

HEILEMANN: Hearing. And the other thing --

O`DONNELL: And there were other procedural things in the hearing that the chairman agreed to that was quite striking. He, himself, made a very short opening statement.

He then allowed the senior Democrat to make a 15-minute opening statement that was --

HEILEMANN: Right --

O`DONNELL: Bigger than any other opening statement there and he knew that if he does this, this is going to be Adam Schiff`s absolutely best case laid out which it was.

And if he only gave him a five-minute opening, he wouldn`t have been able to do that. And so what I was struck by was all of the procedural cooperation that the Democrats were --

HEILEMANN: Yes --

O`DONNELL: Getting from the chairman on this.

CORN: Well, one reason I think this is happening and it`s happening on the Senate side as well, is that there`s a very strong move to create an independent commission and the -- you know, Republican Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and the Republican Chairman in the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Richard Burr, they`re both trying to hang on and hold on to this.

You know, and not have -- you know, go to an independent commission beyond their control. And so, they have to make some concessions at this point in time.

I mean, the thing that also I found, you know -- and I -- maybe I`m naive, Lawrence, but what I found also stunning was that Chairman Nunes and none of the Republicans even went through the motions of denouncing Moscow`s meddling in the election and the hacking.

They didn`t do the usual -- this is terrible, it didn`t affect the election, but we`re going to make sure this doesn`t happen again to protect the integrity of our elections.

They just made believe as if none of that has happened, if there have been no intelligence community assessments and that the only terrible thing that has happened in the last year was that there was a leak about Michael Flynn lying to the vice president.

I mean, I thought that was a missed -- a misstep on their -- on their part.

O`DONNELL: The never naive David Corn gets the last word in this segment tonight. David, thank you very much for joining us, Jonathan --

CORN: Sure thing --

O`DONNELL: I`m going to need you later in another bit we`re going to do. Coming up, some of the toughest questions today came from Congressman Jackie Speier, she will join us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it fair to say that you`re still relatively early in your investigation?

COMEY: It`s hard to say because I don`t know how much longer it will take, but we`ve been doing this -- this investigation began in late July, so for counterintelligence investigation, that`s a fairly short period of time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Congressman Jackie Speier, Democrat from California, a member of the House Intelligence Committee.

Congressman Speier, there`s some speculation here that only the chairman and ranking member knew that that investigation had been going on since July. Were you aware of that before you heard that answer today?

SPEIER: No, I wasn`t. It was news to most of us on the committee.

O`DONNELL: And so did that -- was that one of the powerful moments in the hearing today? That was certainly the observation that was made by some of the reporters we just heard from who were in the audience that they felt like they were watching the committee learn that this serious investigation has been going on since July and kind of processing the implications of that.

SPEIER: Yes, and what was really very important was the fact that it was also very specific that Director Comey spoke about the investigation including Trump operatives and their involvement in any interference with our election.

O`DONNELL: You kept the focus on the bigger picture of this Russia investigation and Russia`s intent in its influence on this election. And what were you -- what was -- what was the main point you were trying to make as you proceeded in that direction?

SPEIER: Well, first of all, I thought it was very important that we make it clear that Russia is an adversary and that is -- underscores our concern with them interfering with our elections.

And then you look at the web of relationships that exist in the Trump administration, both during the campaign and now in the cabinet.

And it makes one a little uncomfortable that our adversary has such close ties with so many people associated with President Trump.

O`DONNELL: Apparently, the White House believed that they found the gold in the hearing and the president tweeted in the middle of the hearing, "the NSA and the FBI tell Congress that Russia did not influence the electoral process."

That tweet, of course, was immediately read in the hearing and Director Comey said, "we did not find that", we don`t have an opinion about whether they affected the electoral process.

SPEIER: You know, it`s just another example of how the president will take fact and turn it into fiction. And the real fake news in all of this is coming, unfortunately from our president.

O`DONNELL: And there are two big questions. One is, did all of that Russian interference affect the final outcome? That is -- that is a question that we may never have a direct answer to.

But the larger question of how long has Russia been doing this? What are their incentives? And the clear incentive that you helped bring out was they had a candidate who they wanted to win, and that candidate won.

SPEIER: That`s right. And in fact, there was at different times during the campaign that they thought he was actually going to win and then not going to win.

But it was very clear that they were going to injure and wound Hillary Clinton so that if she did win, she would come into the White House at a disadvantage.

O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Jackie Speier, thank you very much for staying with us this late tonight after that long hearing. Really appreciate it.

SPEIER: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, we have breaking news tonight. The house of representatives is trying to salvage the Trump healthcare bill. Trump health care 2.0 has just hit the congress.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: The House Republican leadership has just released a new version of the Trump health care bill. For the only reason you release new versions of a bill at the last minute. They know they cannot pass the bill as it stood today. Before the new bill came out tonight, the president of the United States flew to Kentucky today to change one vote on his struggling healthcare bill and it didn`t work because Senator Rand Paul left town before the president got there.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Is there a reason why you`re not sticking around for President Trump`s visit?

RAND PAUL, UNITED STATES SENATOR: I got to work. I got to get to Washington so I can work on the coalition that is trying to defeat the bill. So we`re not exactly on the same page on this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The congressional district that the president visited tonight is represented by a congressman who is also voting against the bill. Democratic John Yarmuth. So here is the president wasting his time tonight in Louisville, Kentucky.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As we move toward the crucial house vote on Thursday, the seventh anniversary of Obamacare`s very painful passage, this is our long-awaited chance to finally get rid of Obamacare. It`s a long-awaited chance.

We`re going to do it. What`s the alternative? The alternative is what you have. What you have is nothing. The worst, it`s the big lie.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And here is Donald Trump attacking Rand Paul and ridiculing Rand Paul in front of his Kentucky constituents for Rand Paul`s failure to support the Trump bill.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I happen to like a lot, Senator Rand Paul, I do. I do. I like him. He`s good. He`s a good guy.

And I look forward to working with him so we can get this bill passed in some form so we can pass massive tax reform which we can`t do until this happens. So we got to get this done before we can do the other.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: So Donald Trump`s opponent on his health care bill gets applause at Donald Trump`s rally for his healthcare bill. The powerless president went to Kentucky and couldn`t think of a single word to say to threaten or persuade Rand Paul to vote for his health care bill. And I Remember how every member of congress was supposed to live in fear of a Donald Trump tweet, if they disagreed with Donald Trump in any way?

That`s not happening. Turns out Donald Trump is more afraid of Rand Paul than Rand Paul is afraid of Donald Trump. Yet another example of how Donald Trump`s influence over congress is weaker than we have ever seen this early in a presidency with his own party in control of the congress.

After this break, we`ll talk about what Kentuckians and everyone else have to lose in the new version of the Trump health care bill that was just released tonight. And will that change be enough to pick up Rand Paul`s vote?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: In fact, to counter my speech two weeks ago in congress, I don`t know, did anybody see that speech? They used the former governor of Kentucky and the plan doesn`t work in Kentucky.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining us now, that former governor of Kentucky, Steve Beshear, also back with us, John Heilemann. Governor, what does Donald Trump not know about how the affordable care act works in Kentucky?

STEVE BESHEAR, FMR. GOVERNOR OF KENTUCKY: Well, it`s obvious that the press has made Kentucky ground zero in this battle over the future of healthcare in our country. I`m glad he has because he can come as many times as he wants and it doesn`t change the facts of what has happened in Kentucky. People now have coverage, over 500,000 of them that didn`t have it before.

They`re accessing that care. They`re getting healthier and our economy is benefiting from it. So it`s been a huge success story here and I`m glad he`s calling attention to it because the people around this country need to see that success story.

O`DONNELL: Governor, let me read to you so the three items that are in the new version of the healthcare bill that`s just been released within the hour by the republicans. They`re going to have a work requirement for able-bodied Medicaid beneficiaries. That will be optional for the states to have a work requirement. There will be an option of a lump sum block grant to fund Medicaid programs instead of a per capita allotment.

There will be more generous tax credits for older Americans. That we saw some tables that showed people over 60 paying $15,000, where now they`re paying hundreds of dollars under affordable care act. And then finally, there`s an item on there that`s unique to New York state, shift the Medicaid costs from New York counties to its state government.

And do you see anything in that package of changes that could get Rand Paul`s vote?

BESHEAR: Not that I see it because quite honestly, Rand Paul wants to go farther backward than even this republican plan goes. You know, this whole Medicaid expansion block grant idea is nothing but a Trojan horse. You know on the outside, they have written flexibility and every governor`s eyes light up when they see the word, flexibility.

But inside that horse is nothing but less money. And you know, when you have to have a balanced budget and every state has to have one, when you get less money, the only flexibility a governor is going to have is to decide how many people to throw off the program or how much to reduce the benefits and that`s going to destroy the Medicaid system as we know it.

O`DONNELL: John Heilemann, the thing that jumps out here is we have a deal in this new bill for exactly one state. They`ve written a deal that applies only to New York state in order to get upstate New York republican members of congress to vote for this thing. That goes back to the deal Harry Reid tried to make on the Medicaid expansion.

JOHN HEILEMANN, AMERICAN JOURNALIST FOR NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Right.

O`DONNELL: Uniquely, uniquely with Louisiana.

HEILEMANN: Yes. Yes.

O`DONNELL: Everybody said that was terrible and scandalous.

HEILEMANN: Right.

O`DONNELL: And before you knew it, he had to make that deal with all 50 states. HEILEMANN: Right.

O`DONNELL: And so these kinds of deals when exposed for one state are usually very unpopular in the delegations of 49 other states.

HEILEMANN: Yes, and you remember I think, Lawrence, there was another one for Ben Nelson, right?

O`DONNELL: Yes.

HEILEMANN: The was a court -- that court has to compromise.

O`DONNELL: Yes. They were trying to pick one vote at a time when they making these deals. Yes.

HEILEMANN: Yes. I mean look --

BESHEAR: And you know, I don`t -- I don`t see anything that changes a sad fact, and that is that about 24 million Americans are going to lose their healthcare coverage under this plan. And you know these are not some aliens from some distant planet. They`re our friends and neighbors.

You know, we -- we go to church with them on Sunday we sit with the bleachers with them on Friday night. And these folks before the affordable care act got up and went to work every day just hoping and praying that they didn`t get sick because they that they were just one bad diagnosis away from bankruptcy.

And now with the affordable care act they`ve got the security knowing that they can keep their families healthy. And it is unconscionable for people to be thinking about throwing 24 million Americans out of healthcare coverage.

O`DONNELL: John, quickly before we go --

HEILEMANN: Yes.

O`DONNELL: A Thursday night vote they`re hoping for on this new bill that will just be over 48 hours old at that point.

HEILEMANN: Right.

O`DONNELL: Your -- your bet on Thursday night, do we have a vote, first of all, at all, and what happens?

HEILEMANN: Well, it`s possible that as they get closer to the date, Lawrence, they realize it`s not going to make it that they will cancel that vote and push it off for another week. Right now I think they`re headed towards a vote. I think that Speaker Ryan is reconciled to the notion he`s going to go to the floor something like six or eight votes short. And that he`s going to have to just have to roll the dice and put pressure on mostly conservative members and say, look, if you don`t vote yes for this, this is going to go down and maybe take the Trump Presidency in terms of its legislative agenda with it. And he`s going to hope that he can pull that off. I don`t know that it will work.

O`DONNELL: Live coverage of the House Floor right here on The Last Word Thursday night. Former Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, thank you very much for joining us. John Heilemann, thank you for joining us, appreciate it.

BESHEAR: Thank you.

HEILEMANN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, we got a preview of President Trump`s Supreme Court nominee today. The real hearing starts tomorrow and a special Last Word tonight from Jimmy Breslin.

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O`DONNELL: Today was just the day for opening statements in the Senate Confirmation Hearing for President Trump`s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch. No questions asked today. Tomorrow, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee will get their first chance to question the nominee. The hearing starts at 9:30 a.m. Coming up, a very special Last Word tonight from Jimmy Breslin about Donald Trump.

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O`DONNELL: Jimmy Breslin and Donald Trump both grew up in New York City in Queens and there the similarity ends. Jimmy Breslin has a few Last Words tonight that Donald Trump really needs to hear. That`s next.

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O`DONNELL: Now for tonight`s Last Word. Jimmy Breslin has a few things to say to Donald Trump. Actually, he has a lifetime worth of things to say to Donald Trump. But we`ll limit ourselves tonight to just a couple. If you Google the name, Jimmy today, just Jimmy. Breslin was the first name that popped up. Not Jimmy Fallon, not today. Today was Jimmy Breslin`s Day to lead all the Jimmy`s on Google.

Jimmy would like that, going out on top. His obituary on the front page of today`s New York Times, the only newspaper in New York that never hired him. He would like that too. You`ve all read Jimmy Breslin even if you never held the words of Jimmy Breslin in your hands because Jimmy Breslin is the most imitated big city newspaper columnist in history. He changed how that work is done. He taught reporters and columnists what to look for.

You know it was a big story that everyone was covering, Jimmy looked for the smallest story inside the big story, the human story. He didn`t win his Pulitzer Prize until 1986 but he deserved it in 1963 when he covered the most shocking story of the century, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He wasn`t a Washington Reporter.

He traveled down to Washington from New York after the assassination and found the story nobody else looked for. The New York Times did him the honor today of quoting one of those paragraphs from 1963, on the front page of The Times. Pollard is 42. He is a slim man with a mustache. He was born in Pittsburgh and served as a private in the 352th Engineers Battalion in Burma in World War II.

He is an equipment operator, grade 10 which mean he gets $3.01 an hour. One of the last to serve, John Fitzgerald Kennedy who was 35th President of this country was a working man who earned $3.01 an hour and said it was an honor to dig the grave.

Jimmy wrote a book about the end of another presidency, about the impeachment case built against Richard Nixon which forced Nixon`s resignation. Jimmy called the book How the Good Guys Finally Won. In the chapter titled The Night School Students are Saving the Country, Jimmy balanced Peter Rodino, the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee who was leading the investigation against James St. Clair, the President`s Defense Lawyer.

Peter Rodino went to law school at nights and James St. Clair went to Harvard Law School. And the night school guy was beating the Harvard guy and Jimmy loved that. Another big bear of a character in that book was someone who started attending Boston College nights, Tip O`neill. Who had then worked his way up to majority leader of the House. This is what jimmy saw and only Jimmy would have seen when he attended Tip O`neill`s 33rd wedding anniversary party during Richard Nixon`s last summer in the Whitehouse.

After watching Tip O`neill have a couple of Manhattans and then boom out the song I`ll be with you in Apple Blossom time to his wife, Millie, Jimmy wrote, you thought automatically of Nixon and his Haldeman and Ehrlichman standing in the doorway of the amber light of the room smirking and starting to leave, secure in the absolute belief that no such open old- fashioned people could be dangerous. If O`neill was Congress` idea of leader, how could day be hurt? How could a man who sings to his wife in public ever qualify as an opponent?

Jimmy would have much to teach Donald Trump about how Congress brings down a President when it has to. And Jimmy has much to teach Donald Trump about their old neighborhood, Queens. Jimmy Breslin and Donald Trump are both from queens. When jimmy was born 88 years ago, Queens was filled with waves of Irish immigrants and immigrants have never stopped coming to Queens and that scares Donald Trump.

Donald Trump tries to scare the country about that now. Jimmy Breslin has always known why people are afraid of immigrants, why they were afraid of Jimmy Breslin`s ancestors and jimmies always known why they shouldn`t be. Here`s Jimmy Breslin in queens in 1986 talking about all the new arrivals in his neighborhood, what they`re hoping for and what they`re worried about.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JIMMY BRESLIN, JOURNALIST: What are they worried about? They`re worried about education. They`re worried about jobs. They`re worried about housing. They`re worried about the things they came to America for 200 years ago, 100 years ago, 50 years ago and this week.

The opportunity and if this continues, if we can keep a place like this going with all these different people learning to live, it will be a greater monument to the human race than anything they`ve erected in a harbor, any statue, any monument, any faces they`ve carved on the side of the mountain. They`ll be as of nothing compared to two people living side by side who go out to work each morning and their children go to school and their wives take care of things or go to work. People who come here today work.

People who came here never waited referentially. They got off the boat from (INAUDIBLE), my people did decades and decades ago and they pushed. Today they get off the plane from South America or from Korea and they push. No one waits.

You push. And the sounds that this pushing causes, the jostling, the elbow out, to get ahead, they may sound as conflict to others. But if you know anything about this place, Queens, you know anything about your country that sound of discord is a beautiful long, sweet trump pet note.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Jimmy Breslin gets tonight`s last word. I will have more to say about Jimmy Breslin tonight on Facebook live after the show. The 11th Hour with Brian Williams starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, 11TH HOUR ANCHOR: Tonight the FBI confirms for the first time it`s investigating possible links between Russia and the Trump team while also shooting down the President`s wiretap accusations.

President Trump defiant tonight ignoring the bombshell after the Whitehouse offers a new defense and distances itself from the former campaign chairman and Ivanka Trump making a move tonight into the West Wing.

The 11th Hour begins now.

END

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