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The Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 3/23/2017

Guests: Eric Swalwell, Jonathan Alter, Steve Brill

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: March 23, 2017 Guest: Eric Swalwell, Jonathan Alter, Steve Brill

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: We will see you again tomorrow night, 9:00 p.m. Eastern. Now, it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good evening, Lawrence.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Hey, Rachel, I watched the opening of your show tonight with that video of all those people at all those town halls making their cases, their personal cases to their members of Congress about healthcare.

And your point about how it changed. It changed --

MADDOW: Yes --

O`DONNELL: What was happening in this legislation.

MADDOW: Yes, I mean, the fact that it wasn`t confined to individual protests, it wasn`t confined to blue states. It wasn`t confined to Democratic Party events.

It was real grassroots in every congressional district in the country and every member of Congress felt it left, right, and center. I think it became an inescapable new truth about the politics of this issue.

And that`s just -- that`s just people power.

O`DONNELL: It was so powerful that you put all that video together. I might have seen snippets of some of that here and there, but it felt like I was seeing it all for the first time.

MADDOW: Oh, thanks, man, appreciate it.

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: All right, thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Well, Paul Ryan is in deep trouble tonight. Very deep trouble. He failed his first big test as speaker today.

His first big test of managing legislation. Everything he did with legislation during the Obama administration was fake.

They knew that they could pass any repeal of Obamacare and it would be vetoed, it was not real, now it`s real.

And Paul Ryan failed to pass the repeal as promised on schedule, the way legislation is supposed to move. And so, he is working tonight to see what he can salvage from that failure, if anything.

And possibly more importantly to Paul Ryan, he is hoping desperately tonight that everyone will forget what Devin Nunes said about Paul Ryan yesterday.


REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA), CHAIRMAN, UNITED STATES HOUSE PERMANENT SELECT COMMITTEE ON INTELLIGENCE: At the end of the day, that`s -- you know, sometimes you make the right decision, sometimes you make the wrong one.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He just apologized, he didn`t specify what his apology was about.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Instead of coming to the committee first, our chair went to the president.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I have not seen anything like it, and it`s very disturbing.

MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: You just don`t show up at the White House. The White House --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don`t just say, hey, I was in the neighborhood and --

STEELE: Yes, I was in the neighborhood --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thought I`d stop by and say hi --

STEELE: And thought I`d stop by and say a few things. It doesn`t work like that.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I don`t know how he got here, I assume in a car.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What evidence did the chairman take over to the president? How did he get that evidence?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did it come from the White House?

NUNES: We have to keep our sources and methods here very quiet.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA: He wasn`t willing to rule that out. It just gets more and more mystifying.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, the House is voting to repeal and replace the disaster known as Obamacare.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And he doesn`t know that the House vote on healthcare has now been delayed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The stakes couldn`t be higher for this president who has essentially campaigned on being a deal maker.

TRUMP: If you can`t make a good deal with a politician, then there`s something wrong with you, you`re certainly not very good.



O`DONNELL: Yesterday, Devin Nunes did something stunning. Something that no intelligence committee chairman before him had ever done. And today, he apologized for it, which is something else that no chairman ever does.

Because a chairman is supposed to be smart enough to never cause an insurrection on their own committee with members calling for his resignation, calling for him to be fired.

With members demanding that Speaker Paul Ryan remove him from that chairmanship. In a closed-door meeting with the House Intelligence Committee today, Chairman Devin Nunes apologized to the committee for delivering intelligence information directly to the president in the White House.

Intelligence information about the president himself and other people working in the White House and possibly others working on the Trump campaign or the Trump transition.

For the second day in a row now, Senator John McCain said he`s never seen anything like it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you explain any reason why Chairman Nunes would have done what he did yesterday?

MCCAIN: No, I have not seen anything like that. And I`m happy to say that in the Senate Intelligence Committee, there`s a very good working relationship between Senator Burr and Senator Warner.

And no, I have not seen anything like it, and it`s very disturbing.


O`DONNELL: John McCain has been serving in Congress since he began in the House in 1983. So, that`s 34 years. Senator John McCain has never seen anything like it.

Everything Devin Nunes did yesterday was crazy, unprecedented just isn`t the word for this. It was out of control crazy.

The sequence of what he did shows that the justification that he offered yesterday for what he did is just not true. The first thing he did with that information was tell the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why did you not discuss this with the Ranking Member before you came to the White House?

NUNES: So yes -- no, and I`m going to be meeting with Mr. Schiff at some point to go talk about where we go with this investigation. But I have been -- I had to brief the speaker first.


O`DONNELL: I had to brief the speaker first. That`s the line that`s been lost in all the coverage of this. That was Devin Nunes` second press conference of the day.

That was at the White House after he spoke to the president. His first press conference of the day was at the House of Representatives announcing that he was on his way to speak to the president, and what he was going to tell the president about.

So he didn`t have time to speak to Adam Schiff, the senior Democrat on the committee, which is the first thing an intelligence committee chairman is supposed to do with new information.

That`s what we`re supposed to believe. He didn`t have time because he had to tell the Speaker first before Adam Schiff?

Everything Devin Nunes did after telling the Speaker was something the Speaker approved of. You don`t go running into the speaker`s office with something like this and not get the word directly from the speaker of exactly what he wants you to do next.

And what the speaker and Devin Nunes decided to do was not tell the Ranking Member of the committee, but to tell the press at the Capitol, to discuss it at length, to answer questions before even going down to the White House and telling the president.

So urgent that he tells the president, but first, stop in the Capitol and tell the press. Before Devin Nunes gets to the White House, the president already knows about it.

And we know that because "Time Magazine" was conducting an interview with the president right after Devin Nunes announced his new information to reporters at the Capitol.

The president brought up Devin Nunes` new findings several times in that interview to prove that he was right that President Obama was indeed tapping his phones.

The "Time`s" interview shows that Donald Trump knew all about what Devin Nunes had to say before Devin Nunes got to the White House.

Now, he could know that because he was watching the Devin Nunes press conference. But he told "Time Magazine" he wasn`t watching the press conference, he didn`t have time to do that, he said.

Or he could know that a few other ways. Someone rushed to the president and briefed him as quickly as possible about it. But he also might have known it because the information Devin Nunes had was actually sent to him at the president`s direction from the White House.

And today, Devin Nunes refused to rule out the White House as a possible source of the information.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did this come from the White House, this information?

NUNES: As you know, we have to keep our sources and methods here very quiet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`re denying that any of this information came from the Trump administration?

NUNES: Yes, I`m not going to -- look, on this committee, we are not going to ever reveal sources, if not who`s ever going to come down to the committee.


O`DONNELL: Devin Nunes was asked again today, why he did it? And this time he left the Speaker of the House out of it. The Speaker was no doubt pleased not to be identified.

Was not -- was certainly not pleased to be identified publicly yesterday by Nunes as his first stop on the way to the White House.

Paul Ryan has escaped any questions about this, because when reporters get close to him these days they`re all just shouting questions to him about health care and the health care vote which he cannot answer.

The vote that Paul Ryan had to cancel today because of the crumbling support for Paul Ryan and Donald Trump`s health care bill.

You have every right to believe that Paul Ryan was very angry with Devin Nunes exposing him as being involved in the delivery of this intelligence information to the White House yesterday.

Because today, when Devin Nunes talked about it, he fell on his sword for Paul Ryan. He completely took Paul Ryan out of that story. Devin Nunes took full responsibilities for the decision to go to the White House.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why did you find it important than to brief the press and then the president before even the Ranking Member?

NUNES: It`s just a -- it`s just a judgment call. I mean, you know, it was my -- I mean, it was -- there was a lot going on yesterday and it was a judgment call on my part, and that`s -- at the end of the day, that`s -- you know, sometimes you make the right decisions, sometimes you make the wrong one.

But you`ve got to stick by what you -- the decisions you make.


O`DONNELL: The single best way to protect your decisions when you`re a chairman is you check with the speaker of the House to make sure he agrees with your decision, to make sure that you make that judgment call together.

That you`re doing what the Speaker wants you to do. No one who has questioned Devin Nunes about this has asked him about his conversation with the speaker that he revealed only once yesterday and then never dared to mention again.

That is the most important thing Devin Nunes did before going to the White House. Devin Nunes would not have done the press conference in the House without Paul Ryan`s permission.

He would not have gone to the White House without Paul Ryan`s permission. He would not have held this information back from Congressman Adam Schiff without Paul Ryan`s permission.

He would not have talked to reporters again in the White House driveway without Paul Ryan`s permission. Chairman like Devin Nunes, who can be instantly fired by the speaker, lived with the knowledge that they must never cross the speaker.

And that means never, ever surprising the speaker. That is the worst thing you can do as a chairman. Create a situation or a controversy that the speaker finds out about in the press.

The speaker gets blind-sided. That`s the worst thing you can do to a speaker. Devin Nunes does not take a breath without Paul Ryan`s permission. Not a breath.

And now, his number one job is to keep Paul Ryan out of this scandal. And so it was just a judgment call. Devin Nunes` judgment call.

He knew and Paul Ryan knew that that would be the headline today. That Devin Nunes says it was just a judgment call, sometimes those decisions are right, sometimes they`re wrong, clearly suggesting there that his decision was probably wrong.

Especially since he apologized for that decision to his committee behind closed doors today. What Devin Nunes did yesterday might have begun as an attempt to help Donald Trump get out of trouble.

But after his press conference in the White House driveway yesterday where he let it slip that he went to Paul Ryan first, he had a more important mission to get Paul Ryan out of trouble.

He apologized to his committee today because Paul Ryan wanted him to. Paul Ryan needed him to apologize to his committee today, to calm the insurrection against Chairman Nunes.

To quiet the demands that Paul Ryan fire the chairman. And he needed Devin Nunes to claim that what happened yesterday was just his judgment call and to imply that it could have been the wrong judgment call, throw in that humility.

And it worked. It has worked for Paul Ryan and only for Paul Ryan. You`re going to go on through the entire day of today`s coverage of this story and not heard a single reference to that simple fact.

"I had to brief the speaker first." That line. That quote. The fact that Devin Nunes went to Paul Ryan first has gone virtually completely unnoticed, except on this program last night.

Because Devin Nunes has kept talking and kept contradicting himself, suggesting he knows that Donald Trump himself was one of the people mentioned in the intelligence reports that he saw, then suggesting that he doesn`t know the names of the people who were mentioned in the intelligence reports that he saw, but it was easy to guess who they were.

Devin Nunes keeps talking in confusing circles. And tonight, Devin Nunes is clinging to the wreckage of his chairmanship. He might be able to put it back together.

He might be able to hold on to that chairmanship. But he had better never get caught singing this again. "I had to brief the Speaker first." Joining us now, Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell; a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Congressman, thank you very much for joining us again tonight. You were in the meeting today. There is some doubt apparently as to the nature of this apology and what the chairman was apologizing for. Was it clear to you?

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (R), CALIFORNIA: You`re giving him too much credit, Lawrence, actions speak louder than words. And as I sit here tonight, we have still not seen the evidence that he took over to the White House before even telling us that there was evidence about Donald Trump`s wiretapping claims.

Of course, no evidence has validated what Donald Trump has said. But intelligence committee members including his own Republican members have not seen this evidence.

And so we are demanding to see it by tomorrow, otherwise we`re going to have to re-evaluate where this investigation goes.

O`DONNELL: In the meeting today, was the sense of objection all on the Democratic side? Were there any Republicans who felt that he handled it the wrong way?

SWALWELL: Entirely on our side. And the reason we`re so upset is that we take a lot of pride in the independence and collaboration that the intelligence committee is supposed to show.

It really is the one committee in Congress where you work in a bipartisan way, most of our work is done in secret, three floors below the Capitol and it`s for our national security.

And you know, to pull such a stunt and to help the president, he has sacrificed the good name of this committee.

O`DONNELL: In your understanding of the way things work on the Republican side of the House and in your own experience on your side, can you imagine someone in the chairman`s position who comes into this information, and he decides that his first stop is the speaker`s office.

Can you imagine that anything he would do after the speaker`s office would not have been approved by the speaker?

SWALWELL: Right, the intelligence committee, unlike almost every other committee in Congress, the members are directly appointed by the speaker and the minority leader.

But what is really puzzling, Lawrence, is that the speaker didn`t tell him to tell the Ranking Member, Mr. Schiff, and the Democrats on the committee that he would be allowed to go to the White House where the president`s campaign is under federal counterintelligence and criminal investigations, is just mind-blowing.

And again, it has put our investigation in jeopardy. And it`s all the more reason that we need an independent investigation, not just for a comprehensive review of what happened, but now also as an insurance policy against a compromised investigation in our committee.

O`DONNELL: And now he`s saying that he doesn`t have the information that was presented to him. So apparently, it was presented to him to look at.

But what he`s been saying publicly is that he doesn`t have it, so he doesn`t actually have anything to show you. But was he unwilling to characterize it or describe it in anyway?

SWALWELL: He told us nothing and it`s really raising a lot of questions too, because we can only receive classified information in our own facility at the Capitol or if we go out to an agency.

So one, where did he receive this information? From our knowledge, no one on his staff and no other members were a part of this.

So that means it had to be outside of the Capitol. So, did he go to another agency? And does that mean that the White House was a part of this?

It sure seems like the White House after what came out on Monday was scrambling to do anything it could to put another smoke bomb into this investigation.

O`DONNELL: If -- just stay with us for a second. If he examined this information in a location that was not secure, what are the implications of that?

SWALWELL: That`s very bad, Lawrence. You know, we have a duty to only receive classified information in a secured location. Of course, we want to protect America`s secrets.

And so, we don`t know if he had documents, if he transported documents. But everything we have heard is that and no one else on the committee was a part of this.

And, you know, when you start to going rogue and doing things like this without your staff, you`re really in treacherous waters without a life vest.

O`DONNELL: Congressman Eric Swalwell, thank you very much for joining us again tonight, really appreciate it.

SWALWELL: My pleasure.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, is the president helping or hurting Paul Ryan pass that healthcare bill?



REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER, UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: For seven and a half years, we have been promising the American people that we will repeal and replace this broken law because it`s collapsing and it`s failing families.

And tomorrow we`re proceeding.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have the votes? Do you have the votes?


Do you have the votes?



O`DONNELL: With a near civil war breaking out in the House Intelligence Committee investigating Russian interference in our election, the question tonight remains, what will we know and when will we know it?

Joining us now, Jonathan Alter; Msnbc political analyst and columnist for "The Daily Beast". Also with us Steve Brill; founder of "The American Lawyer" magazine and founder of "Court TV", he`s also now an Msnbc contributor.

Jonathan, the kind of breaking news of the hour is the Congressman just telling us that their demand is that they have this information tomorrow, they need to see it tomorrow, whatever it is that Devin Nunes brought to the White House.

JONATHAN ALTER, COLUMNIST, DAILY BEAST: Well, you know, Devin Nunes has gotten himself into a real pickle. And I think he`s in major damage control mode right now.

But the thing is, this story is just beginning. I think we all -- we all tend to want to jump ahead, you know, is this going to lead to impeachment?

Is it going to lead to the Intelligence Committee being stripped of its authority? We`re in the second inning of this story.

And as Carl Bernstein has said, you know, we might be still in the cover-up phase of this story. So I`m not going to hazard any predictions on what tomorrow is going to bring on that.

O`DONNELL: Steve, obviously there`s a reluctance on Nunes` part to just turn this over and show that to him. Wouldn`t even --

STEVE BRILL, JOURNALIST: Well, wait, what`s the "this"?

O`DONNELL: That`s the thing --

BRILL: Was he going to bring some "Fox News" clips in this time? --

O`DONNELL: He wouldn`t even describe it to his committee members today. I don`t know what he can be thinking. You know, can he be imagining that he won`t have to show them what this was?

BRILL: Wait, let`s just break this down. My understanding is that the Chairman and the Ranking Member each get the same information, right?

Unless he has some secret source that he`s meeting at a parking lot somewhere --

O`DONNELL: You can have -- as one of the committees -- the former committee staffers told us last night. You could have a kind of whistleblower from an agency, from the CIA or someone come in, and they`re protected if they do that.

They`re legally protected and --

BRILL: Right --

O`DONNELL: They could go directly to the --

BRILL: Go to you --

O`DONNELL: Chairman alone.

BRILL: Right --

O`DONNELL: But the -- in all previous known procedures, the very first thing you would do as chairman is show it to the ranking member.

BRILL: If it was real information. I mean, my theory of the case is that it`s something that the White House suggested, got to him, he may have known or didn`t know it was from the White House.

Then -- and the rest of it just defies explanation. I don`t know who this guy is --


BRILL: I don`t know how he got to be the chairman --


BRILL: But this is just looney tunes.

ALTER: We know -- what we do know about him is that he was on the transition team.



ALTER: Not like just another guy --

O`DONNELL: Right --

ALTER: This is a Trump guy.

O`DONNELL: A member of the transition team. There`s a -- there`s a possibility that if there`s incidental pick-up from the transition team, that he`s on it, it`s possible that he saw --

BRILL: But wait --

O`DONNELL: He saw something where he decided that must be me.

BRILL: Let`s also consider, there have to be only two possibilities. He actually got real information that he says is classified. And now he`s just leaked it, that`s the first possibility.

The second possibility is, he didn`t really get any information or any information that`s classified. And the whole thing is just something that was made up as a diversion while all this healthcare stuff was going on.

ALTER: Let`s say it`s option one and it was classified, which is what it looks like to me because you`re not supposed to be talking about this stuff --


ALTER: Right? So two days earlier --

O`DONNELL: And remember, his first stop is Paul Ryan`s office.

ALTER: Yes --

O`DONNELL: So he has an adult looking at this or thinking about it with him. And --

ALTER: Right --

O`DONNELL: This is the plan those two come up with --

ALTER: Right, so --

O`DONNELL: Now go down to the White House --


ALTER: Him --


ALTER: In releasing classified information. But to give it some context, this is just two days after all of the Republicans on the committee are saying, we`re going to throw everybody in the press in jail for --

BRILL: For leaking classified information --

ALTER: For being involved in any way of classified information even though for 200 years, reporters have not been prosecuted for this.

Because if they receive it from whistleblowers or whatever, then our lives -- they`re saying under the Espionage Act we`re going to take a really hard line, and this story is about leaks.

It`s not about the Russians -- that was their line this week. Then two days later, the guy who has denounced the release of classified information, what does he do? He very likely releases classified information, talk about hypocrisy.

O`DONNELL: Steve, this -- we`re going to eventually find out what it is that Devin Nunes was talking about. And do you imagine that they believe in --

BRILL: Oh, wow, why are we going to -- why do you think that? Have we found out what President Trump was talking about when he said he had information that he was wiretapped?

O`DONNELL: Well, yes, but he`s in a different -- well, of course the world believes he was just lying and making it up and hallucinating.

But the chairman of the committee is in a different place from the president, because he is specifying, you know, the nature of this stuff being classified. And you can only get that from our intelligence community.

BRILL: Or a so-called whistleblowers, as you put it.

O`DONNELL: Which would be within the intelligence community, and then the -- you know, the directors of the CIA and the NSA can come and tell you, oh, here`s what that was.

BRILL: And he would have checked out the bona fides of that whistleblower between the time he had the hearing and heard Director Comey say there`s nothing going on.

O`DONNELL: Or he actually says that he -- in addition to Paul Ryan, he called -- he got in touch with somehow the director of the CIA, the director of the NSA and was trying to get in touch with Comey and Comey was not calling him back.

And so he was asking --

ALTER: So he had to go to the White House and go public.

O`DONNELL: Making some kind of effort to check with these guys about what this is. But I --


ALTER: Well, I don`t know whether he`s a water boy, a lackey, a hack --

BRILL: I`m just having trouble --

ALTER: Or all of the above --

BRILL: Taking this whole conversation seriously --


BRILL: As serious as it is.

O`DONNELL: He is the most confused guy on the Hill right now. We`re going to take a break, Jonathan Alter, thanks for joining us.

Steve, we`re going to talk about healthcare later.

ALTER: Thanks a lot.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Donald Trump gave an ultimatum to the Republicans on the healthcare bill. If they don`t pass his bill, he will not play with them anymore.



SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It`s the same way he campaigned. He went to the 11th Hour, made the case to the American people, and he won. And I think we`re going to see the same level of success when it comes to this effort as well.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: That was Sean Spicer talking about the Trump health care bill which has now gone way beyond the 11th Hour. Paul Ryan, like John Boehner before him, called off the vote tonight in the House of Representatives for the same reason John Boehner always did. He didn`t have enough votes. John Boehner didn`t have a republican president helping him with those votes.

And there is no evidence tonight that Donald Trump is actually helping with this vote. There is no evidence that he`s capable of persuading house republican members to vote the way he wants them to. And tonight, the president did real damage to the effort by issuing what he thinks is a threat, telling republican members if they don`t pass this bill, then he will give up on trying to pass any health care bill and leave the affordable care act in place. The trouble for Donald Trump is that`s exactly what house members expect him to do.

If they vote for this bill, and then it has trouble passing the senate, they expect Donald Trump to give up. So his threat tonight is not going to make them feel that they are working with a president who is truly committed to passing this bill. Joining us now with the latest, MSNBC`s Kelly O`Donnell, Kelly, you`re in the thick of it. What are we -- what are you hearing through the closed doors?

KELLY O`DONNELL, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, I`ve been talking to White House officials and leaders here in congress to try to get a sense of where things are. And this ultimatum, this 11th hour take it or leave it message from the White House seemed to be the final arm twist. By putting this to a vote, there is the sort of the moment where they have to be able to -- do they go home to their red states and say they did not vote against a repeal of Obamacare that was promised on the campaign trail.

Now I`m told by senior officials they`re still not there yet when it comes to the vote count but they believe that that will be a bit of leverage on members who don`t want to have to explain why they voted against it if in fact it can go forward. So, you get a sense of, the time has run out in terms of the president`s patience for this, his willingness to work on it. What would he do if it goes down tomorrow or doesn`t even get to the floor?

The plan is to move to another topic to sort of let this all cool off. It`s been so difficult for the White House and congressional leaders because they`ve got different factions to try to please. So we`ve seen some changes in the bill that would please the most conservative members. That`s taking the essential health benefits piece, those number of types of care that would be required, taking that out of the federal realm, pushing it to the states, and then to try to attract some of the more moderates, keeping the surtax on high earners for Medicare.

To keep that money flowing to that program and to be able to use that sort of reserve for some of the necessary health care. So a bit of the horse trading involved in that. No new CBO score expected on this. They`re going to try and move forward tomorrow. It`s going to roll out with early morning work on the rules committee. And then they expect a vote sometime in the afternoon. But I was also told it could also still be a late night.

So, Lawrence, this has really been about the president who is new to all of this kind of negotiating. He might have done so in the real estate world and as a developer, but this is different. And so I think they reached a point where they didn`t feel they could tinker with the issues any more and get a more satisfactory result. Going home for the Easter Break they thought would erode support more.

And so in a very Donald Trump-like move, just call it and say move forward. And what was notable to me is that when Speaker Ryan came out and spoke to us for a short time this evening after all of this settled, he said, we are going to proceed. He didn`t say he had the votes, wasn`t projecting confidence, but saying after seven years of promising this, it`s time for them to deliver. The White House is still working on some of those members who have not turned from no to yes.

When I saw some of them coming out of the meeting tonight, asking a few, are you going to vote for it, personally, just in my own little interactions did not see anyone who said they were going from no to yes. The White House is telling me they think that between now and the ultimate vote, they don`t want to be those republicans who have campaigned for a repeal, don`t want to be voting against it. That`s kind of where we are.

O`DONNELL: Kelly, I`m so glad you pointed out the speaker`s choice of words. When I heard him say that tomorrow we`re going to proceed, I was stunned because he didn`t say tomorrow we`re going to win. He didn`t say tomorrow we`re going to pass the bill. He simply said tomorrow we`re going to go through the motions. Proceed is the weakest word he could have used.

Fascinating choice in that moment, Kelly, thank you very much for joining us with the latest, really appreciate it.

KELLY O`DONNELL: Good to be with you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you. Coming up, if republicans pass this health care bill, and Donald Trump signs something like this, then Donald Trump is breaking his campaign promises. And if they fail to pass this bill, then Donald Trump and the republicans are breaking their campaign promises. That`s next.


O`DONNELL: We have breaking news on the Trump and Paul Ryan health care bill. "The New York Times" is reporting at this hour, Glen Thrush and Maggie Haberman that Donald Trump is now regretting going forward with the health care bill. "The New York Times" reports Mr. Trump has told four people close to him that he regrets going along with speaker Paul D. Ryan`s plan to push a health care overhaul before unveiling a tax cut proposal more politically palatable to republicans.

He said ruefully this week that he should have done tax reform first when it became clear that the quick hit health care victory he had hoped for was not going to materialize on Thursday, the seventh anniversary of the affordable care act`s passage. We`re joined by Josh Barro, senior editor for Business Insider who`s been covering the healthcare bill. He`s also an MSNBC contributor. And Steve Brill is back with us.

Steve, you covered the passage of Obamacare, and that was when Donald Trump didn`t realize how complicated this is. This is devastating reporting in "The New York Times." For that to be coming out before voting tomorrow.

STEVE BRILL, AMERICAN JOURNALIST: I`m confused because a guy who looks just like him said that on day one, they were going to --

O`DONNELL: In the campaign, yes. On day one they were going to repeal it.

BRILL: That this was easy, this wasn`t a complicated, and if you couldn`t make a deal on something like this then you weren`t a very good deal maker.

O`DONNELL: Right. Josh, this is what collapse looks like. On page one of "The New York Times", as I`m sure this is where the story will be when these people wake up tomorrow, there`s the president saying Paul Ryan was wrong to push this, Paul Ryan is trying to get more people on a bill that they say he`s wrong to push. There`s the president saying I agree with you.

JOSH BARRO, SENIOR EDITOR FOR BUSINESS INSIDER: This the weird thing, the White House is getting these recriminations out there when it`s not even yet totally clear that they`re going to fail tomorrow.

O`DONNELL: It is now. It is now.

BARRO: Well I don`t -- I don`t -- I wouldn`t bet my life on it. I don`t know. I mean Scott Long from "The Hill" is saying that he`s hearing from members saying that they think it`s going to pass now. I don`t know. I think it`s quite uncertain. I think he might pick up some freedom caucus members with these last minute changes they`re going to do on the bill.

But on some level it`s reminiscent of what happened right before the election, when you had the pre-recriminations with Donald Trump blaming republicans for causing him to lose, and then he won. So I thin it`s, you know, I think it`s interesting thing about what will happen tomorrow if they win, and then Trump, who desperately wants to be done with this, has to go to the senate which is harder than the house.

O`DONNELL: That -- that`s why this is so devastating.


O`DONNELL: Is that if you are a house republican and this is a tough vote for you, the president is saying to you on the front page of "The New York Times" tomorrow, I quit, and I quit in the senate, I do not have the patience or the ability to stay focused on this and get it through the senate, which is much harder than getting it through the house.

BRILL: I agree. So let`s put one thing in perspective. As someone who watched Obamacare, it took 15 months. It was dead at least ten different times. Even if it doesn`t pass tomorrow, they could do something else and they could come back to it, and they might. So --

O`DONNELL: This is the laziest, most ignorant president in history. President Obama never once said something like this in the crusade to get that thing passed because he knew how to stay with it and get it passed.

BARRO: He`s -- he`s lazy and ignorant, but he also -- he has a really good innate marketing sense. And he knows that this is not really what he ran for president on. He talked about it because republicans have to talk about it, but he ran about trade and crime and immigration and making America great again. He was saying he would give insurance for everyone.

He understood that this is not something that Americans wanted. And I think that it was against his better judgment to listen to Paul Ryan about doing this first. He should have started with the tax cut.

BRILL: Who said Paul Ryan told him to do it first and he didn`t tell Paul Ryan to do it first?

BARRO: No, it was -- the idea was that because they need to do this for budget reconciliation, they need a tax reform bill for budget reconciliation --

BRILL: Right.

BARRO: They can do it twice this year. And so the idea was you do health care first, you get it out of the way. You do a tax cut as part of the healthcare deal. And that allows you to do a tax reform deal cleanly. There was a theory of it.

BRILL: But he is blaming Ryan.

O`DONNELL: Yes, completely blaming Ryan before the vote.

BRILL: Yes. Nothing is ever his fault.

O`DONNELL: Right, right. And so -- but this goes to the problem of, when you`re trying to get these votes in the last minute, you have to assure these members of stability. You have to assure them of what they`re voting for. And this is basically the product you`re going to get back out of the senate one way or the other. You`re somehow going to do that. It`s never true. But you`ve got to try to make them believe in this. And this guy is the biggest public doubter of the bill, the President.

BRILL: The good news is, it takes Russia off the front page or at least off the top right of the front page.

O`DONNELL: If that`s what they call good news, the collapse of the legislative agenda. Josh, we really have to be living in a new world for this revelation by The New York Times tomorrow morning for these legislators to have it not create a complete fleeing from this bill.

JOSH BARRO, JOURNALIST: I think the crazy thing about it is, you don`t put members of your conference in the house through a difficult vote if the thing is not going to become law, because then you didn`t get your policy agenda item and you created all these attack ads so that these people can run in 2018 about how Congressman Jones voted so your health plan wouldn`t have to cover pregnancy or drug treatment or doctors visits anymore.

BRILL: You get attack ads either way if they vote not to --

O`DONNELL: No one is going to run against them on the right from this thing.

BRILL: No but I`m saying that people can run against them from the left if they vote --

O`DONNELL: In the republican primary?

BRILL: No, no --

O`DONNELL: For general.

BRILL: In the general.

O`DONNELL: All right, we`re getting a little ahead of ourselves. We got to see what happens tomorrow. Steve Brill, Josh Barro, thank you very much for joining during this breaking new segments. And I`d appreciate. Coming up, more on the Trump and Russia investigation.



SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The way that this term associate gets thrown out, and again, we talked about this yesterday, you pull out a gentleman that was employed by someone for five months and talk about a client that he had ten years ago.


O`DONNELL: There`s the white house today continuing to tried to downplay the role Donald trump`s former campaign manager Paul Manafort played in the campaign. It is hard to say the campaign manager was not important to the campaign. Yesterday we learned about Paul Manafort`s contract with a Russian billionaire to reportedly benefit the Putin government. Today the Washington Post reports that one of the men who worked on that contract with Manafort still has close ties to the Whitehouse. Rick Gates is one of four people leading a Trump-blessed group that defend the President`s agenda.

Gates visited the Whitehouse as recently as last week. The AP reports today the United States government is investigating Paul Manafort`s financial ties to Cyprus, a haven for money laundering by Russian billionaires. The AP reports in one case a Manafort-linked company received a $1 million payment on October 2009 from a mysterious firm through the bank of Cyprus.

The $1 million left the account the same day to accounts with no obvious owner. At a House Oversight Committee hearing today, the connections between Russia and the Trump team were explored. Here is republican ethics lawyer Richard Painter who worked in President George W. Bush`s Whitehouse counsel`s office, testifying before that committee. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD PAINTER, LAWYER: While this committee was spending hours and hours fussing around with Hillary Clinton`s e-mails, we had espionage conducted inside the United States by Russia and apparently with the assistance of Americans. We don`t know who they were. But whoever they are, those people committed treason. And I do not mean to suggest that the President of the United States was involved.


O`DONNELL: Richard Painter will join us next..


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PAINTER: We need to know about any financial relationships between the President of the United States and foreign powers, whether it is the foreign power that spied on Americans, conducted espionage in the United States apparently with the assistance of Americans who may have been working for the trump campaign, whoever it is, committed treason.

(END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Joining us now Richard Painter, Professor of Law at the University of Minnesota, an expert on Legal Ethics. He formerly served in the Whitehouse counsel`s office for George W. Bush. Professor Painter, thank you very much for joining us, professor painter. What was the committee`s reaction to your testimony especially on the Republican side?

PAINTER: They didn`t say much. I don`t think the members wanted to talk a lot about President Trump. The Republicans did not. The hearing was convened to talk about other issues they were worried about. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Federal Reserve, anything but Trump.

And I shared some of the concerns about the other issues. But I have a lot of concerns about the President`s refusal to disclose his tax returns. The fact we don`t know where the President is getting his money for his global business empire at a time when another country has been conducting espionage inside the United States.

We need more transparency in this administration. We need to get to the bottom of what happened with respect to the Russians. We need to find out who was helping the Russians. And we need to make sure those people are not in our government and probably they ought to be in jail.

O`DONNELL: The FBI is conducting what is surely the most important investigation because that`s the one that could actually lead to indictments, trials, convictions possibly. But it`s the one about which we will know the least. They have no public aspect to those kinds of investigations. What are you hoping for from the congress in the meantime while the FBI is doing that work?

PAINTER: Congress ought to be investigating this. The intelligence committees in the House and the Senate but what I`ve seen so far is they just want to politicize it. There`s not a serious investigation going on.

We need to have a special prosecutor appointed to look into what`s gone on and who was helping the Russians. We need to get that information and we need to get it quickly because if there`s somebody inside our government right now who is cooperating with the Russians and conducting spying activities inside the United States, spying on Americans, whoever it is, is a great security risk to this country and they need to be thrown out of the government and we need to know the facts. And we need to know the facts quickly here.

O`DONNELL: Professor, you worked inside a Republican Whitehouse, you know the Republican world certainly as it existed before Donald Trump. What is your reaction, your personal reaction to the way you`ve watched this kind of Republican protection to a certain degree in the Congress of the President and his campaign on these issues?

PAINTER: Well I think it`s shameful. Anybody who would lie about contacts with the Russians would have been thrown out of the Bush administration in 24 hours. And we`ve had General Flynn lie to the Vice President. We`ve had the Attorney General in his confirmation hearing, he did not tell the truth to the Senate Judiciary Committee about his contacts with the Russians.

Nobody is being forthright about this. This is not the type of behavior that should be tolerated in a Republican administration or a Democratic administration, particularly when people are lying about their contacts with a foreign adversary that since the 1920s has sought to destabilize the United States government through covert operations. This is a very, very serious situation.

O`DONNELL: Richard Painter, thank you very much for joining us tonight, we really appreciate it.

PAINTER: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Up next, democrats vow to resist President Trump`s Supreme Court pick. The filibuster is on.


O`DONNELL: The breaking Supreme Court news today is that the Democratic Leader of the Senate has had this to say about Donald Trump`s Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch


CHUCK SCHUMER UNITED STATES SENATOR: I cannot support Judge Neil Gorsuch`s nomination to the Supreme Court. His nomination will have a cloture vote. He will have to earn 60 votes for confirmation. My vote will be no. and I urge my colleagues to do the same.


O`DONNELL: And so the cloture vote is on. The filibuster is on over Supreme Court Nominee. No Democratic Senator has yet offered support for the Gorsuch Nomination. The judiciary committee is expected to vote on the nomination within the next two weeks. That`s it for The Last Word. The 11th hour with Brian Williams starts now.


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