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The Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 4/21/2017

Guests: Douglas Chin, Marielena Hincapie, Christina Greer, Indira Lakshmanan, David Jolly, Christina Wilkie, Claudia Reis, Nancy Giles

Show: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell Date: April 21, 2017 Guest: Douglas Chin, Marielena Hincapie, Christina Greer, Indira Lakshmanan, David Jolly, Christina Wilkie, Claudia Reis, Nancy Giles

ARI MELBER, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening. Nice to see you, Rachel. Have a great weekend.

MADDOW: You too. Thanks.

MELBER: I am Ari Melber in for Lawrence O`Donnell.

Jeff Sessions pledged to leave the politics at the door when he got to the Justice Department. But he spent the day slamming a federal judge in Hawaii for ruling against the Trump administration. And tonight he says he has no regrets.


WILLIE GEIST, MSNBC`S "MORNING JOE": Attorney General Jeff Sessions dismissed Hawaii as a, quote, "island in the Pacific."


JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I wasn`t diminishing the judge or the island of Hawaii. Give me a break.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s amazed that a judge, quote, "sitting on an island in the Pacific" ruled against the president`s travel ban.

SESSIONS: I think that was a appropriately correct statement.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The government is coming along really well.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC`S "HARDBALL": Next Saturday will be the 100th day of President Trump`s administration.

ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR: Read to me again the list of my accomplishments.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of course, sir. Nominated Neil Gorsuch.

BALDWIN: God, I love that list. What a beautiful long list.

TRUMP: We`ll be having a big announcement on Wednesday having to do with tax reform.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are you going to do health reform and tax reform?

TRUMP: We`ll see what happens. No particular rush.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ll find out next week whether they can actually get it through the House.

TRUMP: Next week doesn`t matter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is remarkable how hard this White House works to really screw things up.

SESSIONS: This is a new era. This is the Trump era.


MELBER: Jeff Sessions was confirmed as attorney general with just a two- vote margin. And in January, he promised a skeptical Senate he would put politics aside and follow the law.


SESSIONS: The Office of Attorney General of the United States is not a normal political office. And anyone who holds it must have total fertility to the laws and the Constitution of the United States. He or she must be committed to following the law.


MELBER: The law states that federal judges oversee the executive branch. So that means a single judge can block a president`s plans if they appear illegal, which a Hawaii judge did of course to President Trump`s second travel ban. And Sessions told a conservative radio host his reaction to that lawful system.


SESSIONS: This is a huge matter. I really am amazed that a judge sitting on an island in the Pacific can issue an order that stops the president of the United States from what appears to be clearly his statutory and constitutional power.


MELBER: But you know judges` ruling on cases really isn`t amazing. It`s routine. Whether they do it from the Pacific or any other states, it`s usually irrelevant. Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono took this all as a racial insinuation writing on Twitter, "Hey, Jeff Sessions, this island in the Pacific has been the 50th state for going on 58 years. And we won`t succumb to your dog whistle politics."

Sessions responded in an interview on MSNBC.


SESSIONS: Well, I think that was an appropriately correct statement. We have some 700 federal judges. One of them has now stopped the president of the United States. I wasn`t diminishing the judge or the island of Hawaii, that beautiful place. Give me a break. I was just making a point that`s very real, one judge out of 700, has stopped the president of the United States from doing what he believes is necessary to protect our safety and security.


MELBER: Hawaii`s Senator Brian Schatz responded, "Unreal that Sessions when asked won`t just say he`s sorry for insulting Hawaii, for attacking the judiciary, for singling out Muslims."

You know, they say when you go to Washington, the question is whether you change the city or maybe it changes you. And that`s got to apply in going into Trump`s administration, a leader who`s attacked judges for their ethnicity and their independence. Leading one of his allies back in the day to say this.


SESSIONS: Well, it would have been nice if that had not been said for sure.


MELBER: For sure. That was Jeff Sessions`s old view of Trump`s attacks on a federal judge. But it looks like he is now leaning more towards the Trump approach.

Sessions` Justice Department also did something weird, spending Friday afternoon picking a whole another fight basically out of nowhere with the country`s largest police department, the NYPD.

The DOJ was rolling out policies on local immigration enforcement, which is usually not all that political. But then in a statement about them, the DOJ threw this line in.

[22:05:02] Quote, "New York City continues to see gang murder after gang murder, the predictable consequence of the city`s soft on crime stance."

I wonder if that`s true, though. The only problem would be that crime rates in New York City have fallen in every category this year. And in 2016 were actually near historic lows for violent crime.

And while the mayor and police chief in New York weren`t planning to get into it with the Trump administration this evening, they don`t take those kind of things lying down. And they came out together -- this was around 6:00 p.m. on Friday -- to blast back.


MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO, NEW YORK CITY: It is an outrageous statement and it`s absurd on its face. I would say to President Trump and to Attorney General Sessions, if you believe this statement is accurate, come here to New York City, look our police officers in the eye and tell them that you believe they are soft on crime. See how that feels and see what the people of New York City will feel about that. This absurd statement needs to be renounced immediately.


MELBER: Pretty sure Mayor de Blasio was telling him, say it to our face.

Joining me now, Douglas Chin, attorney general of Hawaii. Also Marielena Hincapie, the executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, representing one of the Dreamers deported under this new policy, as well as Christina Greer, associate professor of political science at Fordham University.

Hello, everyone.

Mr. Attorney General, what do you think the view there from Hawaii on this back and forth about a judge in the Pacific?

DOUGLAS CHIN, ATTORNEY GENERAL, HAWAII: Well, you know, first of all, there`s nothing that Attorney General Sessions is doing that`s a surprise. I mean, he made racist comments several decades ago. He is still referring to classes of people in a way that disenfranchises them, minimizes them, makes them second-rate citizens. And this is -- honestly, it`s not really a surprise.

I have to also say this. I was in a meeting back in February where Jeff Sessions, attorney general, addressed all of the 50 state attorney generals and including me. I was in the audience. And that was his -- that was his first line. Crime is up. It`s the highest it`s ever been. Murder is at an all-time high. He was saying that to all 50 of us. And we were all looking at each other saying, I don`t think that`s actually true. I think crime`s down.


CHIN: I never heard crime was up. And yet here he is today telling us as if we can`t even check something like that, that crime is on the upswing. So there you go.

MELBER: Christina, there does seem to be a kind of a weird -- that`s a nice way to put it -- or just misleading emphasis from the Trump administration here on the actual facts on crime. The DOJ police thing, no one was expecting that. And out of the blue, they`re fighting about the crime rate, which we showed, it`s not up in New York. So if your argument is they`re doing something wrong here, and there`s plenty to debate on policing policy, if your argument you`re doing something wrong, you`re going to be found out pretty quickly.

CHRISTINE GREER, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: Right. But that doesn`t matter for Trump supporters. Right? This is clearly a racialized tactic to say. When they say crime, they are trying to make this dog whistle, dog bark where it`s blacks, it`s Latinos, it`s, quote-unquote, "illegal immigrants," who are driving up this crime and making everyone unsafe. That`s why we need to put all of our money, not in education, not in health care, but to build a wall, right, which will cost billions of dollars which we Americans are going to pay for and not Mexico.

That`s why we need to put another $54 billion into our military to secure us from domestic terrorism, international terrorism. So it`s creating this boogeyman scenario to justify their spending essentially and it`s not going to be for the American people.

The problem is the Republican Party in Congress is co-signing what are basically flat-out lies. We have the data. New York is one of the safest cities in the country. It`s safer than it`s been in decades. So to say this, we can look at facts. But many of the Trump supporters don`t want facts. They just want to hear the sound bites of the president and Jeff Sessions just saying things that quite honestly aren`t true and they`re deliberately misleading.

And I think the beauty of the Constitution, which is why I hope it holds up, is that the founding fathers actually planned for this nonsense and shenanigans. They put in these various trap doors to make sure that the president didn`t have a blank check. They put judges in power --

MELBER: Yes --

GREER: They gave power to judges to make sure they didn`t have a tyrant, sort of like King George, and someone who could spend money and do all these things to make sure that, you know, we didn`t have this scenario. So we have to -- we have to just stay vigilant.

MELBER: Well, you make such an important point because you`re talking about what Jeff Sessions called amazing, or what he was implying was negative. One judge can do this. Well, that`s the whole point. The founders said yes.

GREER: The founders` point.

MELBER: One independent judge who`s not thinking about partisanship, who`s not thinking about fundraising, who`s not thinking about all the things that they think about in Washington. Yes, he`s out there in what you might call the Pacific Hawaii hard land if you want to call it that.

GREER: Part of the 50 states.

MELBER: But it is a state.

GREER: It is a state.

MELBER: And in that hard land and in that state is an independent judge making a determination.

[22:10:02] Marielena, on the facts on dispute, I want to play for you Secretary John Kelly speaking about your client, this one Dreamer who has now gotten a lot of attention in the crosshairs of what is and isn`t happening. But John Kelly basically saying that you guys are wrong and alleging that there were crimes committed. Take a listen so we can get your response.


JOHN KELLY, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: He had DACA status up until I think 20178, I believe, but because of his irresponsible behavior, according to the rules set up by President Obama, he lost that status. He was convicted for theft, he had gone illegally into Mexico, and then we caught him coming back in. That`s a felony. He also had a series of driving violations, driving without a license or something like that. So, again, not just one thing. But the big news should be that he did not have DACA status by his own actions and he was deported.


MELBER: Marielena?

MARIELENA HINCAPIE, NATIONAL IMMIGRATION CENTER: Thanks, Ari, for the opportunity to talk about our courageous client, Juan Manuel Montes. You know, what Secretary Kelly and actually President Trump have said about our client is exactly what law enforcement officers in communities of color experience all the time. That when someone courageously comes out against the actions of the Trump administration in this case, that they try to attack the client, try to attack the individual.

Our client unequivocally has stated time and time again that he was physically deported from this country. The reason we filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against this administration is because DHS did not respond to our requests. All we`re trying to find out is why. How is it that someone with DACA was deported and how do we prevent this from happening again? We --

MELBER: Just to clear.

HINCAPIE: Actually this is in our filing.

MELBER: Yes. They say that he left. You`re saying that`s false.

HINCAPIE: Absolutely. Right. First of all they said that he didn`t -- the first thing they said was that he didn`t have DACA. So that`s when they begin with the false information. And then they backtracked the following day and said, yes, he did have DACA but actually he left voluntarily. Well, we wouldn`t be bringing a lawsuit if he had left voluntarily. He wasn`t physically deported, not given an opportunity to call his family to get his wallet. He wasn`t given an opportunity to go before an immigration judge.

He was deported. He did try to come back the next day because he was scared. Mexico is not his home country. He has lived in California since he was 9 years old. And he has a cognitive disability from a childhood brain injury. And understandably he was trying to get back home. And he was detained. The question is how and when why was he deported the first time?

MELBER: Mr. Attorney General, on the Hawaii case, which of course is why everyone was talking about your state, where do we go from here? And are you confident in later victories? Right now it`s blocked at a procedural level, the travel ban.

CHIN: Just an hour ago, we filed our opposition brief to the appeal that was made by the Department of Justice to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. And we`re set to argue in front of the Ninth Circuit on our case on May 15th at 9:30 a.m. in Seattle. So we`re ready to go on that. And then after the decision is made by that Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, then in all likelihood there probably will be an appeal.

And I just want to add one more thing because there`s something that`s very inaccurate that Attorney General Sessions is making right now. He keeps talking how there is one judge in the middle of the Pacific who made this decision. The fact is there is a judge in Virginia who`s right next to Jeff Sessions who would have also made that decision. He also has an injunction that`s been issued. And that`s why it`s up on appeal in the Fourth Circuit. Not to mention there was a Washington state judge that also issued a ban on the travel ban, a TRO on the travel ban, as well as the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

So to imply that there is just one judge out of 700 judges in America is just very inaccurate and it ignores the fact that there have been a lot of states that have spoken up against this.

MELBER: Right. I mean, it would be lawful if it was just one judge because that`s how it works. But you`re making the point that in addition to having sort of their constitutional theory wrong, they also just can`t count judges. Ninth Circuit is, what, 20 plus judges, and they of course also were involved in the first travel ban, which some have argued is substantially similar. So plenty to pick from there.

I want to get Christina Greer back in on the wall. You know, it`s Friday night. You know, we like to have a nice Friday night here. We have a nice Friday night. And I want to talk to you about whether the government is going to shut down as a nice Friday night topic. Let me read Donald Trump here on what might be worth shutting it down.

Quote, "I want the border wall. My base definitely wants the border well." Trump said this in an Oval Office interview. Asked whether he would sign legislation that doesn`t include money for that, a looming shutdown deadline, he said, I just don`t know yet.

GREER: There`s so many things that this president just doesn`t know yet. I mean, we don`t even have ambassadors in the countries that we (INAUDIBLE) with.

[22:15:03] When it comes to the wall, keep in mind he promised his base that not only would he build it day one, that Mexico would pay for it. Mexico has made it abundantly clear that they`re not paying for it. His base still wants this wall. Logistically it`s not going to be a contiguous wall. It`s going to be hundreds of billions of dollars.


MELBER: So you`re saying, look at the deadline of next weekend, do you think his base would be happy if this -- there was a government shutdown over this?

GREER: Well, it depends on what he says to his base. Right? I mean, he clearly blatantly lies. Right? And we have to call it lies. Like we can`t keep saying that he`s misspeaking and he`s misleading. He is lying to the American public and sort of creating this presidency of chaos. So he recognizes that this arbitrary 100 days is swiftly coming up. He needs to give his base something more than, I give you a conservative judge that just helped execute a man in Arkansas. Right? Everything else has pretty much been a loss or clearly not what he promised he would do his first 100 days.

So if there is a government shutdown, it really depends on how he frames it to his base.

MELBER: Right.

GREER: Because they really don`t want facts and truth. He can just say it`s the Democrats obstructing me even though the Democrats are the minority in both Houses.

MELBER: Christine Greer, Attorney General Douglas Chin and Marielena Hincapie, in Hawaii, thank you so much. Appreciate you joining us.

Now up next, we have a lot more to get into. Donald Trump used to talk a big game about that 100-day plan. But that may be changing, and that wall may be in trouble, as mentioned.

Also later, what was Donald Trump doing in secret at Mar-a-Lago?



TRUMP: Just think about what we can accomplish in the first 100 days. It doesn`t matter if it`s next week. Next week doesn`t matter.




[22:20:08] TRUMP: We have made incredible progress. I don`t think there`s ever been a president elected on this short period of time that has done what we have done. I think we`ve had one of the most successful 13 weeks in the history of the presidency. No administration has accomplished more in the first 90 days.

I think we`re going to have a big win soon. We`re going to have some great legislative victories in the very near future.


MELBER: First they go big, then they go home. Donald Trump has been bullish, as you see there, about these first 90 days of his presidency. But now bracing for an actual policy review of his record, Trump is packing it in. Friday announcing, quote, "No matter how much I accomplish during the ridiculous standard of the first 100 days, and it has been a lot, including Supreme Court, media will kill."

This afternoon he told reporters the looming assessment of his 100 days doesn`t matter and was asked about his claim that he would get tax and health care reform done in short order.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You can do health care and tax reform?

TRUMP: We`ll see what happens. No particular rush. But we`ll see what happens. But health care is coming along well.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are you going to get health care next?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: -- the next hundred days?

TRUMP: Don`t know. It doesn`t matter if it`s next week. Next week doesn`t matter.


MELBER: You got that? It doesn`t matter week. And 100 days doesn`t matter either. Except for when it does. Politically there may be something superficially appealing about this kind of rhetoric. If nothing really matters, if no deadline is real, then we can all just chill. And if you like the president, you don`t have to obsess over how he`s doing or when he`s even doing it. You can just sit back, lay in the cut, and trust that things will someday happen.

But if you`re counting on what the government does, if you`re a veteran on a waiting list for health care at a VA hospital or a patient wondering if Obamacare is going to continue or going to change or end, or even if you`re just a big corporation crafting a plan for next year`s spending and saving, then it does indeed matter if and when the government acts.

Joining me now for more Indira Lakshmanan, Washington columnist for the "Boston Globe," also with the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, as well as former Republican congressman, David Jolly of Florida.

Congressman, what am I missing here? Does none of it really matter? Is there kind of a nice sort of Trumpian nihilism that`s taking in as we near 100 days?

DAVID JOLLY, FORMER REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN, FLORIDA: Well, Donald Trump is right about something. No president has had 100 days like he has. Right? We can agree?


JOLLY: We can agree on that. Look, I think what we have litigated this first 100 days, we know he has failed on policy. We have litigated his credibility. And honestly I think the country is suffering a bit of fatigue from a president we know we can`t believe. You know, we have litigated and probably reached a verdict that clearly the president suffers from narcissism. He suffers from not being able to tell the truth. But at some point we have to decide on his policies. And that will include health care. Foreign policy, taxes. And we will see what happens.

Look, Bill Clinton brought in David Gergen in May in the first year of his administration and he reset his term. What does Donald Trump do? Because the first 100 days have been a failure.

MELBER: Well, I mean, you talk about staffing. It`s been pointed out many times, Steve Bannon thinks he can`t be removed because he`s the populist heartbeat. The other key advisers are family members who would be really awkward at the dinner table if they were removed. How do you see, David, that he could do that? And also speak a little bit about them always moving the ball. Here`s President Trump at the Treasury Department there.

JOLLY: Sure.

MELBER: He had previously promised that he would reveal a tax plan within several weeks of February. That deadline has come and gone, and now this.


TRUMP: We`ll be having a big announcement on Wednesday having to do with tax reform. The process has begun long ago. But it really formally begins on Wednesday.


MELBER: Do you believe that?

JOLLY: No. Look, the president of the United States is lying about policy. He`s lied about health care. He`s lying about tax reform. Tax reform is no easier than health care. When you get into marginal tax cuts, winners and losers, it is akin to when you talk about Medicaid cuts in health care. There is no way the president with zero credibility can sell this. And he has a hard time on his hands right now.

I will tell you, I hate to say this, but the smartest people in the White House right now are probably Jared and Ivanka. It is nepotism. It is not right. But when you talk about Bannon and the other political people around Trump, the fact is the only adults in the room, the moderates, the centrist, frankly Democrats, are Jared and Ivanka. And I think in the long term he is going to have to rely on them.

[22:25:04] He is a family business person. And that is what it ultimately will come down to for setting policy.

MELBER: Indira, what do you think?

INDIRA LAKSHMANAN, BOSTON GLOBE: I think that the president is right about one thing, which is that the 100-day standard is an arbitrary and silly standard. And it`s been applied to all presidents since FDR. But, you know, FDR actually did something in the first 100 days. You know, he obviously did some pretty significant things with Social Security and the new deal. And ever since then we`ve been trying to judge presidents by the same yardstick. But it is kind of silly.

However, Trump also knows that everybody uses this standard, and particularly in our modern media. Everybody is, you know, going to be writing their analysis. Everyone is going to have their programs of the first 100 days and their, you know, special graphics and charts. And so he knows very well that he has to try to prove that he has accomplished something. He`s going to want to tick the boxes. So --

MELBER: Well, let me ask you this, Indira, because historically one of the reasons is that typically people get more done early and less done later as --

LAKSHMANAN: Because of the honeymoon.

MELBER: Yes. Momentum changes and you closer to elections. So --

LAKSHMANAN: That`s right.

MELBER: Isn`t that standard somewhat relevant to whether he`s got momentum now?

LAKSHMANAN: Well, he should have the most momentum now. But, you know, as we just have been discussing, he has not been able to get things accomplished. And he promised, he vowed that he would repeal the Affordable Care Act immediately. He obviously was unable to get that done. And when he didn`t get it done, he said, well, I never said I`d get it done in the first 60 days. And everyone, including this show, were playing clips in which he said he`d get it done in the first week.

You know, so he`s constantly changing his tune. It`s what -- you know, it`s what we all call moving the goalpost. So he moves the goalpost. But I think that this speaks very directly to what he`s going to try to do next week. And what he`s going to try to do next is he wants to revive from the dead his effort to repeal and replace. He`s going to try to bring in this tax reform. He`s going to try to get his budget priorities in. So, you know, he wants to be able to have something that he can put on the board as a success before the 100 days.

MELBER: Right. Let me thanks David Jolly for being here. Indira, stay with us for more.

And on the hundred days issue, how many bills has President Trump actually signed into law so far? Has he passed more executive orders than Obama or less? Well, I have actually been digging into some of the answers. I`m going to share my journalistic findings in a special edition of my Sunday`s show "THE POINT" at 5:00 p.m. Eastern this Sunday. I hope you`ll join. We have joining us the legendary Gay Talese, former Clinton official Maya Harris, historian Allan Lichtman, First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams and a special roundtable on whether Trump is draining the swamp and how the press should deal with him.

That`s Sunday, 5:00 p.m. Eastern. You can decide for yourself if it doesn`t matter.

And coming up, Donald Trump`s inauguration committee broke a lot of records, but who were the donors? The findings might be disturbing. That is next.


[22:31:33] MELBER: When Congress passed the Federal Election Campaign Act in 1971, a key goal was disclosure. The idea being that money and politics is less problematic with sunlight. The law forced people to say who they were, where they lived and who they were donating to. And the inauguration itself may feel like ancient history by now, but sunlight which is required for those donation forms, well, that is just coming into play.

The FEC releasing disclosures just this week about the $107 million Trump raised. And that`s a large sum for a weekend of events. Consider it`s far more than the $66 million Trump spent of his own money on the entire presidential campaign all year. It`s also more than the $60 million that Obama spent in his inaugural weekend in `09 if you adjust for inflation.

Trump`s submission to the Federal Election Commission is over 500 pages with several names per page. So there, well, there`s your sunlight. We only know that Trump raised all that more money because he was forced to tell us by federal law. And now those hundreds of pages of names are public.

But what will that sunlight really accomplish? You would need to check every name and see who is donating and what their background is to even get a hint of whether it adds up. But lucky for us, turns out someone is actually doing that.

This is painstaking work. But she already found some issues. Here`s one example. A donation of $400,000 from Isabel T. John. But there`s no public record Isabel T. John exists and her address it turns out is an empty construction lot. Now that is a ton of money to come from a literal nobody from a literal nowhere. But maybe that`s a clerical error, just in one pile. Or maybe there are enough discrepancies that add to something that looks like more than innocent mistakes. Are there large sums of cash moving through shells or front groups?

Well, we don`t know that yet but it does look like federal campaign law is still working because someone is using it to try to figure this all out. And that is our next guest right now. Christina Wilke, reporter from the Huffington Post.

You`ve been digging in. What else have you found?

CHRISTINA WILKIE, REPORTER, HUFFINGTON POST: Well, we found a lot of numbers that don`t seem to add up. We have found donors who are using fake names. We found a donor who used the name of the NASA mathematician, Catherine Johnson, who was one of the characters in the movie "Hidden Figures." And this donor gave $25,000 and put their address as the NASA headquarters. And the intercept reached out to Miss Johnson`s family. She is now 98. And she did not make that donation.

MELBER: So -- yes. You`re telling me, this isn`t just high jinks where someone gives 10 bucks and puts down Mickey Mouse. This is someone who has the ability -- the cash is real. Right? So they have the ability to give 25k or 400k and then they also have some reason to put down things -- you`re finding that don`t add up or are potentially false.

WILKIE: Yes. And we`re also finding a lot of shell corporations. We have an LLC, for instance, that gave $25,000 that was founded, created a couple of weeks before its donation. And it has no staff and no phone number and no operation. It operates out of a mailbox outside of Atlanta. And all of a sudden the only thing that it has done so far is to give Donald Trump $25,000.

MELBER: So why would these entities pop up, want to funnel this money? And who in your view is at fault?

[22:35:04] WILKIE: Well, who`s at fault really is the donors`. These entities pop up because these donors would like to remain private. They don`t want it to be known that they are giving. And it is up to the donor to disclose -- to fully disclose who they are and what their proper address is. And the campaign -- the inaugural committee in this case is basically expected to take it on good faith that their donors are being honest. But following this kind of a false donation and a false donor record like the NASA one is a federal crime.

MELBER: We wanted to look at this story because it hasn`t gotten nearly enough attention. And you`re doing this work. Where can people follow up or learn more real quick?

WILKIE: If you would like to join us in this book, my Twitter account is @Christinawilkie. So we are posted -- we have a spreadsheet and we`re crowd-sourcing a lot of this research and a lot of its verification. So we would love any help. We still got hundreds of records to go through.

MELBER: Very interesting journalism project you`re doing, Christina Wilkie. Thanks for telling us about it tonight.

WILKIE: Thank you.

MELBER: And coming up, what Donald Trump was doing in secret at Mar-a- Lago.


MELBER: See if you remember this one. Back in 2015, President Obama came under fire after it was reported that "The Daily Show" host Jon Stewart visited the White House twice. Critics blasting them as allegedly secret meetings to which Stewart responded.


JON STEWART, FORMER "THE DAILY SHOW" HOST: I guess if you look at it, then it`s not a secret. Like if you looked at it, then it was openly listed and I went through the normal entrance like everybody else. And I told my mom what I was doing and then she told her friends. And then her friends were like, still not a cardiologist. But the point is something is not a secret just because you don`t know about it.


[22:40:03] MELBER: And a lot of people did know about it. Obama may not have liked the criticism over who he met with. But it was Obama who ensured that those critiques kept coming. He was the one releasing the list of visitor logs at the White House. It was part of a transparency project, something new that he did more than past presidents. It wasn`t enough for some people. Donald Trump, you might remember, campaigned on the anger that Washington was full of secret dirty meetings and deals that he alone would end.


TRUMP: Hillary Clinton did government favors for those giving her family and her foundation massive amounts of cash. Hillary Clinton`s pay-for-play corruption during her tenure as secretary of State. When we win in November 8th, we`re going to Washington, D.C. And we are going to drain the swamp.


MELBER: Trump came to D.C. and within 100 days he watered down Obama`s transparency protections. Here`s how the "New York Times" broke the story this month.

"The White House announced it would cut off public access to visitor logs revealing who is entering the White House complex, breaking with the Obama administration`s practice and returning a cloak of secrecy over the basic day-to-day workings of the government."

Yes, returning a cloak of secrecy. So if you are worried about the swamp, we don`t know who is going in and out of the White House, let alone the Florida version of Trump`s White House, where the president secretly met with two former Colombian presidents who are staunch critics of a controversial peace deal between Colombian rebels and their government. That`s according to reporting in the "Miami Herald."

The White House for its part says this was a little more than some informal handshakes, which could be true. But it is hard to verify the White House assertions about informal meetings when it won`t even list the people going to the formal ones. And it is even harder to drain that swamp if the government won`t tell you whether any swamp dwellers have White House visitor passes let alone Mar-a-Lago memberships.

Back with me is the "Boston Globe`s" Indira Lakshmanan, who we should mention lived in Colombia for several years as the "Globe`s" Latin American bureau chief.

So you can come at this from all the angles. On the transparency angle, what does it mean that someone who really did tap into concerns about corruption and secrecy which are real and I think bipartisan. What does it mean that he is immediately trying to make it harder to find out what the government is doing and who he himself is meeting with?

LAKSHMANAN: Well, it`s really troubling, Ari, because this is another example of Donald Trump having one standard before he was president when he`s criticizing Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, his opponent, and a completely different standard when it applies to himself. Yes, suddenly all the critiques that he made on Twitter, you know, he said -- in fact, on Twitter he said when Obama was president, Obama needs to be more public about who he`s meeting and he needs to, you know, open up who is coming into the White House. And now of course he`s closing that down.

This meeting in Mar-a-Lago was really interesting. And you said maybe it was just a friendly handshake. I think we can pretty much surmise that it was not just that because it was actually the Colombia media that reported it first. And those two former Colombian presidents, Alvaro Uribe, who was president when I was lived there, and a previous president Andres Pastrana, they were actually reported to the Colombian media what happened and said that they had a very detailed and tough talk with the president about their opposition to a Colombian peace deal that`s been approved by the Colombian legislature and the current Colombian president, Juan Manuel Santos, who won a Nobel Prize for it last year.

So, you know, they`re basically trying to lobby the American president against giving money to Colombia to support this peace deal. So that`s a very serious thing for that to happen in a meeting that was not -- the American press was not told about it, it was not on the president`s public schedule and we had to find out about it by reading it in the Colombian press.

MELBER: Right. And we know --

LAKSHMANAN: That`s pretty significant.

MELBER: Yes. And to your point, not unlike Trump saying he was learning about North Korean history from China`s president, you wonder, did he get the State Department briefing? Did he have the prep for this? Or is this a situation where again if you can get to Mar-a-Lago you can get the meeting. Talk about America first. These are situations where the president seems to be reacting to other country`s agenda first or factions within the country.

LAKSHMANAN: Right. It is troubling. And particularly if it`s not on his agenda and he didn`t have his top aides with him in Mar-a-Lago last weekend, we were told, then you certainly would have expected that he had State Department briefers with him. Not to mention the whole separate issue that the State Department is not at all fully staffed up at this moment. And there are major gaps in the leadership at the State Department and people there just don`t know what they are supposed to be doing.

But there`s several examples of this lack of transparency here. You know, we`ve heard a lot about the fact that people are upset that Donald Trump has not released his taxes. There were all those demonstrations last weekend.

[22:45:05] And, you know, there are the examples of the House Oversight Committee which just today put in a request for how is the president going to be making those supposed donations of the foreign payments to his hotels which he promised he would make but has not made. So there are just -- the countless examples of transparency problems and it`s a really significant problem that`s not going to go away, Ari. And I think he needs to address it.

MELBER: Yes. Indira Lakshmanan, thank you very much for your contacts. Appreciate it.

Coming up, Bill O`Reilly and where we go from here in workplace culture.



WENDY WALSH, BILL O`REILLY ACCUSER: I had the speak for them, but I had to speak for other frightened women out there. Emily Steele told me and still tells me there are other women at FOX, who she has interviewed, heard their stories, but they are too afraid to come forward.


WALSH: I am hoping this week they have called that hotline that 20th Century FOX has set up because the more people who call the more this sort of ugly side of the system can be remedied.


MELBER: Quote, "There are more women too afraid to come forward," end quote. That was Wendy Walsh, one of the three accusers of Bill O`Reilly that was on "THE LAST WORD" just last evening with Lawrence, who took a confluence of events to lead to Bill O`Reilly`s removal from FOX News this week. The fact that Walsh could speak out without any legal gag orders that affected other women. But before Wendy Walsh, there was Rachel Witlieb Bernstein in 2002, Andrea Mackris in 2004, Rebecca Gomez Diamond in 2011, and Laurie Dhue and Juliet Huddy in 2016.

Those are the five women from the "New York Times" report. On the $13 million in settlements that O`Reilly, as well FOX News, allegedly paid out to his accusers. Those payouts show many things, among them that FOX had long been aware of these allegations which we should note O`Reilly denies. Exactly nine months ago today, though, it was Roger Ailes who was forced to resign as FOX News chairman.

[22:50:03] A surprise to the media industry that was spurred by an internal investigation beginning after FOX anchor Gretchen Carlson filed her lawsuit against him, a very unusual step for an anchor to take against the media CEO. Carlson ultimately settled for $20 million but by that time her case had spurred more people to come forward.

Do these large but late corporate moves change the day-to-day reception that people, primarily women, receive if they bring forward these claims at FOX or elsewhere? It depends on whom you ask. Sarah Palin arguing that these women who risked their careers and reputations by coming forward were actually complainers who should have stood up earlier.


SARAH PALIN, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: If a woman believes she is being intimidated and harassed she needs to stand up and do something about it, not stick around for a paycheck for years and years and years, and then after the fact complain about what she went through.


MELBER: That reaction to the Bill O`Reilly news does show why this story is so much bigger than Bill O`Reilly. Where do we go from here? Well, up next I`m going to ask a seasoned employment advocate and our friend Nancy Giles to weigh in on the road ahead.



PERQUITA BURGESS, BILL O`REILLY ACCUSER: Sexual harassment is not something that`s difficult to deal with. It`s hard.


BURGESS: It`s hard for me to deal with. It`s traumatic. I`m still hurt by it.




[22:55:01] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need the know the full extent of Bill O`Reilly`s damage to women`s lives. We need to know the full extent of what happens when a corporation throws money at a problem instead of actually addressing it for a decade and a half and allows a serial -- someone I believe to be a serial sexual harasser to wreak havoc. It was a top-down culture at FOX News. And honestly he wasn`t the only one to sexually harass me at FOX. And I think they have more house cleaning to do.


MELBER: A lot to talk about on the O`Reilly story. Joining us now, Nancy Giles, contributor, CBS News Sunday morning and host of "The Giles Files" podcast and employment litigator Claudia Reis, former president of the New Jersey National Appointment Lawyers Association.

Claudia, even when accusers who are often women win these long cases in a settlement or a format of such they still don`t feel like it is a total victory. Why is that?

CLAUDIA REIS, EMPLOYMENT LITIGATOR: It`s never a total victory. A lot of times the women`s lives are completely disrupted. But they are accused of being extortionists. They are accused of being terrible employees that are completely incompetent. That are liars, that are opportunistic. And in fact that`s even what we`ve seen occur both at FOX News and with Bill O`Reilly, and they have a campaign to really target these women and find whatever dirt they can on them. And it`s really disruptive to their lives and to their emotional well-being.

MELBER: What should the companies do to really fix it?

REIS: I think to fix it, you have to stop the culture of tolerance. It`s real a top-down problem. There is a culture of tolerance that protects -- the entity protects the goose that lays the golden egg, the goose that lays the golden egg protects the entity. And then you have these policies, these no tolerance sexual harassment policies that are nothing more than paper tigers. And in the meantime there is sexual harassment that continues to be perpetrated every day and goes on with impunity -- and they get away with it.

MELBER: Nancy, the last episode of the "O`Reilly Factor" aired tonight.


MELBER: Which is not something many people in the media would have ever predicted.

GILES: Right.

MELBER: I want to play it for you and get your response.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As most of you know this is in the final "Factor." It has been an honor to sit in this chair over the years filling in for Bill O`Reilly and being a guest on perhaps the most influential television news program in history. But as the curtain comes down on this show another one will be raised on a new era.

How do I turn out the lights on such a venerable and amazing show? I can`t. It`s not my show and it`s not my place. So on behalf of all of us on the "Factor," good night, and godspeed.


GILES: How do you turn out the lights? You turn out the lights. You dim them, you turn them out. You take the bulbs out. You just eliminate it. It`s hard to hear a show that was hosted by someone that in my humble opinion was not only a serial sexual harasser but a misogynist and a bigot. It`s hard for me to get behind any kind of like ah, gee, how sad that that`s ending. And to just jump on what Claudia was saying, the whole idea to me of these non-disclosure agreements, this is part of why the behavior never changes because people are paid and part of deal is they have to remain silent and people like Bill O`Reilly and Roger Ailes walk away with these huge payoffs. There is absolutely no incentive to change the behavior. It just -- it really riles me.

MELBER: You`re hitting on an important point, the "New York Times" reporting here on this that the $25 million payout to O`Reilly was met with, quote, "outrage and disgust among employees and critics outside the company, who said it sent a message that powerful newsroom figure could profit even after multiple sexual harassment allegations have been made against them."

But, Claudia, as the attorney, the deals are sign and even when the gag orders are signed that`s women do agree on both sides of the ledger for this kind of payouts.

REIS: They do, because what other option do they have?

GILES: Right.

REIS: A lot of times the arbitration agreements in place with the large employers that requires them to arbitrate these claims in silence.

MELBER: In secret. Right.

REIS: In secret.


REIS: Where it would be the same result anyway.

MELBER: Right.

REIS: And at the risk of them coming after the employees and really targeting them and making their lives hell. So yes.

GILES: I don`t blame the women. I think they deserve every penny of it. I wish there was a way that the men, that these perpetrators would have to pay since it seems like money -- the loss of power for someone like O`Reilly and not being on TV five days a week, you know that`s going to really be hard on him.

MELBER: You think that`s going to bother him?

GILES: I think so. I really think so. Yes. Roger Ailes not so much. But Bill O`Reilly not being in the national conversation every day that`s going to kill him. I`m glad. But I want more, you know, payments for these men`s behavior.

MELBER: Nancy, that`s a fitting point to end on. Nancy Giles and Claudia Reis, I thank you both and for your expertise.

I am Ari Melber. Appreciate you watching and I hope to see you this Sunday, 5:00 p.m. Eastern for as promised the special report on those first 100 days of Trump even if he says they don`t matter. Stay tuned right now "THE ELEVENTH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts next.


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