Show: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell Date: April 24, 2017 Guest: Tim Mak, Ned Price, Matthew Miller, David Cay Johnston, Richard Painter, John McLaughlin, David Jolly
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: We will have more ahead for you on that story in coming days. I want to tell you, though, that does it for us tonight, we will see you again tomorrow.
Lawrence O`Donnell has a special tonight, it`s called 100 Days of Conflicts and it starts right now.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Russia is fake news.
JAMES COMEY, DIRECTOR, FEDERAL BUREAU OF INVESTIGATION: The FBI is investigating whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia`s efforts.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The answer is, continues to be no.
JOY REID, MSNBC: He is now accusing President Barack Obama of wiretapping his phones during the campaign.
JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER UNITED STATES DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: There was no such wiretap activity.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no one that he is willing to spare in defaming to distract us from the uncomfortable questions around Russia.
TRUMP: The whole Russian thing, that`s a ruse.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are three investigations, these are not hoaxes.
TRUMP: The time for trivial fights is behind us.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER, UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: This is the closest we will ever get to repealing and replacing Obamacare.
TRUMP: It`s coming together beautifully.
SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: We are united on repeal but we are divided on replacement.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The freedom caucus, they are really trying to get to yes --
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER, UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Clearly they are not ready.
SPICER: At the end of the day, we can`t force somebody to vote.
PAUL: I told him that the best thing I think to do is to pull this bill.
TRUMP: Well, I think we have to let Obamacare go its way for a little while.
Don and Eric are going to be running the company. They`re not going to discuss it with me.
We got a southern White House inquiry.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He shouldn`t be dodging business to his own commercial interest, it`s all unacceptable.
TRUMP: I am not, and I don`t want to be the president of the world.
NICHOLAS KRISTOF, JOURNALIST: I`m distrustful of how quickly he switched.
TRUMP: I don`t change, well, I do change and I am flexible and I`m proud of that flexibility.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If anything, the doctrine would be impulsiveness.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) --
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The era of strategic patience is over.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is that going to be?
TRUMP: You`ll see.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, a special edition of THE LAST WORD, 100 Days of Conflicts.
Since Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, he has had conflicts with Congress, conflicts with his own party, conflicts with the courts, conflicts with his own promises, conflicts with foreign countries, conflicts among his White House staff, conflicts with President Obama and the directors of the FBI and the NSA over his tweeted accusation that President Obama wiretapped Trump Tower.
Conflicts over his tax returns, and conflicts of interest in his continuing for-profit businesses. Over the course of the next hour, we`ll be joined by experts analyzing all of those areas of conflict.
Which conflicts has the president handled well? Which conflicts has the president handled badly?
Which conflicts are getting better? Which conflicts are getting worse? We will begin with what may be the president`s biggest conflict, his conflict with history.
The history of how the presidential election of 2016 was won, and how much influence over that election was Russia able to exert to help Donald Trump win the presidency.
That question is being investigated by the FBI, the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Intelligence Committee.
The FBI investigation is the most potent and the most silent. The FBI has all of the legal powers and resources that it needs to conduct a thorough investigation of the Trump-Russia connection.
But its investigation is likely to remain silent for as long as it takes to either produce criminal charges or possibly a report by Director Comey similar to the unprecedented report that he issued in the investigation of Hillary Clinton`s State Department e-mails.
The House Intelligence Committee investigation got off to the worst possible start with Committee Chairman Devin Nunes now sidelined from that investigation and himself under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for his own peculiar behavior with the White House and President Trump regarding materials that he said were relevant to this investigation.
The Senate Intelligence Committee investigation was considered the best hope for a solid bipartisan investigation that would produce public results.
We will consider now the prospects for all three of those investigations, beginning with the Senate Intelligence Committee investigation, which according to Tim Mak`s reporting in the "Daily Beast" today is not running as professionally or as quickly as it could be.
Joining us now, Tim Mak; senior correspondent for "The Daily Beast". Tim, your big reveal today was the small number of committee personnel staff that are working on this, and none of them assigned to it full time.
TIM MAK, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, DAILY BEAST: That`s right. The thing that we reported in "The Daily Beast" today is that they have seven staffers that are working on the Russia probe that looks at both Russian interference in the U.S. election and into possible Trump-Russia ties.
Now, what`s interesting about this is none of these seven staffers are working on it full time.
And what I mean by that is they have other responsibilities on the committee. They have oversight responsibilities.
Many of them have a lot of other work to do monitoring intelligence activities and can`t focus full-time on the Trump-Russia probe.
And there is actually among those seven individuals, none of them has any expertise in prosecutions or in complex investigations.
O`DONNELL: And Tim, one of the surprising biofacts about these staff members that you`ve discovered is none of them are lawyers.
And that`s -- it`s actually hard to collect seven staff members on Senate committees and not find a lawyer among them.
MAK: Well, there are lawyers on the committee. But of the seven individuals that have been identified by the chairman who are looking into the Trump-Russia inquiry, none of them have law degrees.
In fact, one must be a little bit busy because this individual who is one of the seven goes to law school part time.
O`DONNELL: Well, Tim, quickly, your report seems to have gotten a reaction today because the committee -- didn`t the committee announce today that they are bringing on two more staff?
MAK: I think that was in the works, and I think a lot of Democrats who wanted the investigation to move more quickly were -- you know, will gladly hear this news.
The thing is that these two individuals, they`re not primary investigators like the other seven that I discussed.
They also will have other responsibilities, so their work on the Russian investigation will have to be part-time as well.
O`DONNELL: We`re joined now by Matthew Miller; former spokesperson for Attorney General Eric Holder and former director of the Office of Public Affairs for the Department of Justice.
Also with us, Ned Price; former senior director and spokesperson for the National Security Council.
He resigned from the CIA after the election of President Trump. Ned Price, in your experience with the Senate Intelligence Committee, what do you make of their staffing arrangement for this investigation?
NED PRICE, FORMER SENIOR DIRECTOR & SPOKESPERSON, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: Well, Lawrence, I think the fact of the matter is that a Senate committee can move only as fast as the majority.
And in this case, there are certainly some Republicans who do not want to see this investigation move forward.
We saw that very clearly on the House side with Devin Nunes, and we saw a pause of weeks as that caper was worked out, his collusion with the White House staff.
Now on the Senate side, we`ve seen comedy between Senator Warner and Senator Burr. But at the same time, Senator Warner and his staff can only move as fast as the majority is willing to take them in this case.
O`DONNELL: Matthew Miller, this is -- a report in Tim`s story that is interesting about possible witnesses.
It says "the committee has sent letters to various individuals and entities to ask them to preserve documents relevant to the investigation. Carter Page, Roger Stone and federal agencies have reportedly been among the subjects of these requests."
What are the legal implications of those requests?
MATTHEW MILLER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: I think what they`re trying to do is put people on notice that if you destroy documents after receiving this notice, you can potentially be charged with obstructing of justice.
That was their way of at least showing, trying to show the world that they are taking this investigation seriously.
But I think what Tim`s reporting and other reports we`ve seen today, you know, shows that Chairman Burr might not be.
And you go back to -- you know, you go back to February when we found out that Chairman Burr had gotten on the phone with reporters to try to knock down stories about Russia at the White House`s request.
And I think you saw -- after that, you saw him try to double down, try to redouble his efforts and show that he was conducting a fair investigation.
He sent these letters to potential witnesses. But then now we see a couple of months later that in fact the committee is not actually doing anything, they`re not even off the ground.
Really, you know, I think has to call into question what his objective is here.
O`DONNELL: We have a new Nbc News, "Wall Street Journal" poll saying that a nonpartisan commission is the preferred choice of 73 percent of the people responding in that poll.
Congress, 16 percent, then there is 8 percent of those who don`t want an investigation. But Ned Price, what`s fascinating about that, 73 percent want an independent commission.
That 73 percent is composed of a significant number of Trump voters. You can`t get to 73 percent without having a bunch of Trump voters in there.
And so those voters aren`t saying let`s be defensive about this and not discover what happened, even they are interested.
PRICE: Even they realize, Lawrence, that this is an issue that transcends party lines. Look, this is an issue that gets to the heart of who we are as a democracy, how our democratic system works.
This was a -- it`s at the core of our electoral system here. How we elect the leader of the free world, the individual that I should say should be the leader of the free world and the mechanics behind that.
And I think it`s heartening to see that more than 70 percent of Americans want this. But it`s also at the same time very disheartening that Republican House and Senate leadership are still not among that 73 percent, and that is frankly what needs to change.
O`DONNELL: There is another Nbc News report tonight about the House Oversight Committee members.
Tomorrow they`re going to be allowed to view the documents involving Michael Flynn. Reports saying that members of the House Oversight Committee were notified today that they may go view classified documents related to Lieutenant General Michael Flynn tomorrow on Capitol Hill.
Tim Mak, what`s the significance of that?
MAK: Well, it`s hard to say right now. And it`s interesting that it`s not the House Intelligence Committee, it`s the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee which has general oversight abilities.
So this could have to do with an issue of conflicts of interest as opposed to an intelligence issue.
I don`t want to speculate too much about what they`re going to see tomorrow because I don`t know what it is that they`re going to see.
But it`s a really interesting development, right? That it extends beyond the original -- the original House Intelligence Committee investigation into the ties between -- the possible ties between Russia and the Trump team.
O`DONNELL: Matthew Miller, I want to go to the FBI investigation, which we learned a lot about in a way this weekend in the "New York Times" report which was about both the FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton`s State Department e-mail and the FBI investigation of the Trump campaign connections to Russia.
We discovered both of those were going on at the same time. But the FBI investigation, even though it has the most -- the strongest investigative powers is also the one we`re going to know the least about.
What should we be looking for or what will we know as that investigation moves along? How long would we expect it to last?
MILLER: I think it could potentially take months, maybe a year. I mean, these investigations are very slow moving.
They have to talk to witnesses, not just here, but potentially all around the globe. You know, when they start looking at this type of situation, not only are they looking at possible collusion, but they go to someone like Paul Manafort who might be a potential witness and they start looking at any problem he might have.
And we`ve seen from some of the leaks that he has a lot of problems. And they`ll look to try to put pressure on all of the potential players in this case, so they have the incentive to talk.
It could take months and we probably won`t know much about what they`re doing until it`s done.
And then I think that`s when we get back to the Clinton president that you were talking about in your intro.
When this investigation is done, if the FBI quietly closes the case, the precedent they`ve set is that every document they gathered, all of the interviews they did with witnesses, they need to turn all that information over to Congress, and eventually it needs to be made public.
That`s the precedent they set for the Clinton investigation and this one is far more significant.
O`DONNELL: Matt Miller, before we go, on the FBI, this weekend in the "New York Times, we read this massive article that this details the interactions between Director Comey and Attorney General Lynch over Hillary Clinton`s e- mail investigation.
What is the relationship now between the Attorney General and the FBI director on an investigation that could involve the Attorney General?
At some point it could be pointing to the Attorney General in some capacity with the Trump campaign.
MILLER: Yes, absolutely. So the Attorney General Jeff Sessions obviously has recused himself from this investigation.
He is not involved in it at all. But at the same time, you keep hearing that he -- Sessions is pushing the FBI to crack down on leaks, to look at leaks that are connected to this case, which if so is completely inappropriate.
If you`re out of this case, you should have nothing to do with it, you should have nothing to do with any leaks about information in the case.
And as you said, he is a potential witness. He was involved in the campaign. There are some reports that he might have been involved in bringing Carter Page into the campaign.
It`s a very ugly situation. And I think, you know, it`s why there has to be some prosecutorial oversight that`s outside of the Justice Department.
It can`t just be the deputy attorney general who when confirmed as another political appointee. It has to eventually be a special prosecutor, someone who can work with the FBI and eventually make an independent call about whether to bring charges or not.
O`DONNELL: Tim Mak, Matt Miller, Ned Price, thank you all for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.
MILLER: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up next, we will take a close look at President Trump`s private business conflicts of interest.
Just tonight, the State Department`s web page advertising one of the Trump businesses had to shut down that web page.
And President Trump has dropped all of his threats toward China. Is that because of his loans with the Bank of China?
And later, Joy Reid will join us on Donald Trump`s conflicts with Congress, with the courts, and Donald Trump`s conflicts with Donald Trump.
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SPICER: This weekend, the president will be shifting the operation of the White House down to the Winter White House at Mar-a-Lago.
They will depart Washington around 3:00 tomorrow afternoon for Mar-a-Lago. The president will host President Xi of China at Mar-a-Lago.
Later this afternoon the president will head to Florida.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The list of President Trump`s conflicts of interest with his businesses is almost endless.
Just today, we learned that the State Department has been illegally promoting Donald Trump`s hotel club in Florida where he spends his weekends.
The U.S. embassies in the United Kingdom and in Albania and possibly elsewhere displayed the president`s business in Florida on their websites and called it the Winter White House.
The State Department website was doing the same thing. It later removed that post from its website.
Senator Ron Wyden said today "why are taxpayer dollars promoting the president`s private country club?"
But then there are Donald Trump`s Chinese loans that he may or may not have renegotiated in his private meeting with the president of China.
And then there are Donald Trump`s Russian-backed loans that he might or might not be renegotiating with Vladimir Putin`s help.
There is Donald Trump`s daughter Ivanka obtaining free Chinese trademark rights on the very same day that she had dinner with the Chinese president in Florida.
There are the Trump Towers, both of them, that he is very proud of in Istanbul, which might have been the reason or a reason that he called to congratulate the president of Turkey on winning a referendum that would increase his powers and decrease democracy in Turkey.
A congratulations call that no other leader in the western world made. Joining us now to survey the Trump conflicts of interest, David Cay Johnston; Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who founded D.C.Report.org; a nonprofit news organization, it covers the Trump administration.
Also with us, Richard Painter; Professor of law at the University of Minnesota and an expert on legal ethics.
David, you have written the book, I should say books on Donald Trump and his businesses.
You have free rein to give us your top, say, two, three, four maybe conflicts, business conflicts that you see remaining as of tonight with President --
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, JOURNALIST: Well --
JOHNSTON: The biggest thing, Lawrence, is the supposed blind trust. It`s an eyes wide-open blind trust through which all of his businesses are run.
And his children have already revealed that one of his sons that they tell dad about the business. So let`s stop the nonsense that there is a blind trust here.
The second one that bothers me is that Washington hotel. You want a favor from the president of the United States, you`re not going to go stay at any other luxury hotel, you`re going to go to the Trump hotel in the old post office.
O`DONNELL: And David, just to stay on the blind trust for a moment. What blind trust could ever erase from Donald Trump`s knowledge that he has Trump Towers in Istanbul?
JOHNSTON: The only --
O`DONNELL: What could change his knowledge about that so that when he makes that call to the president of Turkey, he knows what businesses he has there?
JOHNSTON: Right. There is no way to resolve this at all except for all these assets being sold. And being sold in a way that there is disclosure after the fact.
And we should be deeply disturbed that the only leader of a democracy who called Erdogan to praise him on basically getting closer to being a dictator is Donald Trump, who by his own account has a conflict of interest, a big conflict of interest.
O`DONNELL: Richard Painter, can you explain to us with your government experience why the GSA OK-ed Donald Trump`s ownership of that hotel in Washington even though the lease said that a public office holder cannot hold that lease?
RICHARD PAINTER, PROFESSOR OF LAW, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: I`m still trying to figure out why they did. I read their opinion, and it puts form over substance.
The president says the money is being paid to a trust, which he is a beneficiary. So I guess that means the money is not paid to him.
So we have off balance sheet financing here for this hotel, just like we did with Enron and WorldCom.
I mean, if we don`t see through the form and all the show corporations and phony trusts and realize that the money is going to the president, then you know, we`re not addressing the conflicts of interest.
And the GSA is not doing its job. They`re just wrong in their conclusion on that.
O`DONNELL: And Richard, how do you see Donald Trump`s refusal to release his tax returns as part of the complex of the conflicts of interest questions?
PAINTER: That`s done enormous damage. First, we have the Russia problem already because of proven espionage by the Russians in the United States with the apparent of involvement of some Americans.
And we don`t know who yet and we don`t know how close they were to the Trump campaign. But we need to know what financial ties our president has to Russia and to other foreign governments.
And that can only be disclosed by finding out the sources of financing in the companies he owns.
That information is not in his public financial disclosure form, a lot of that information would be in his taxes and he refuses to release them, that is a serious problem.
And also tax reform is dead on arrival. If he doesn`t disclose those taxes, because every idea he comes up with, we`re all going to be asking, oh, yes, is he doing that in order to lower his own taxes?
And we`re not going to know that unless he discloses the tax reforms -- the tax returns.
O`DONNELL: David, what do you expect in the next years of the Trump presidency in this category of news, conflicts of interest, with his children, with Donald Trump himself?
And do you expect that the news media will just get used to this and just start accepting something, not one item of which would have been accepted with any other president?
JOHNSTON: Yes, one of the problems here in terms of news is that while advertising shows you the same message over and over and over again to get it in your head, in the news business, we tend to say well, we told you that, now let`s move on to something else.
In this case we need to have a steady drip and occasionally floodgate full of information coming out because this is totally and completely inimical to the ideas of the framers of this country.
And if we get (INAUDIBLE), that`s just the starting point. I mean, then you need to have auditors look at the books and records supporting what he put on his tax return.
O`DONNELL: Richard Painter, what do you see as the legal prospects for enforcement of the emoluments clause on the president?
PAINTER: Well, we first have the litigation that I and Laurence Tribe and Norman Eisen and others have brought on behalf of Citizens for Responsibility in Ethics in Washington.
We are asking a judge in New York to require the president to disclose the foreign government payments that he is receiving, and then to decide which of those payments are in violation of the constitution.
So that`s one route. The other route is Congress. If Congress can get its act together and actually investigate where the foreign government money is coming from.
But thus far, we have no serious investigations going on in Congress. I`m very disappointed what`s going on there.
O`DONNELL: Richard Painter and David Cay Johnston, thank you both for joining us.
PAINTER: Thank you --
O`DONNELL: Coming up -- coming up, President Trump`s conflicts with foreign countries, first Mexico and Syria, North Korea.
And what happened to his conflict with China? Why did that one disappear?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We will build the wall. Who is going to pay for it?
TRUMP: 100 percent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: President Trump`s first conflict with a foreign country`s leader was with Mexico and President Trump lost. The President of Mexico emphatically and absolutely and with finality said Mexico will never pay for that wall. And so paying for the wall is now a conflict of the week with the Congress. Today President Trump said this about North Korea.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The mission of the United Nations and the U.N. Security Council is to maintain international peace and security. The status quo in North Korea is also unacceptable. And the council must be prepared to impose additional and stronger sanctions on North Korean Nuclear and Ballistic Missile Programs.
This is a real threat to the world, whether we want to talk about it or not. North Korea is a big world problem. And it`s a problem we have to finally solve. People put blindfolds on for decades. And now it`s time to solve the problem
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The President also spoke today to the President who he believes controls North Korea, President Xi of China. President Xi put out a statement today asking that all sides, quote, exercise restraint and not, quote, exacerbate tensions on the peninsula. The Whitehouse has scheduled an unusual briefing on Wednesday night for all 100 members of the United States Senate on the situation in North Korea,
And the administration is taking new steps against Syria after the SYRIAN GAS ATTACK on civilians earlier this month. Today the Whitehouse imposed sanctions on 271 employees of the Syrian Government agency it said produces chemical weapons. Those sanctions freeze any assets those employees may have in the United States.
We`re joined now by John McLaughlin, former acting Director of the CIA, a 36-year veteran of the CIA. John McLaughlin, this is the area where Donald Trump has had some successes, at least from the public`s view of things. For example, on the action he took in Syria, the military action, the poll shows 62 percent support that action. 33 percent oppose that action. Let`s start first with your scorecard of how the President has handled the situation with Syria.
JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, FMR. ACTING DIRECTOR, CIA: Well, the cruise missiles strike was popular. But they always are popular, unless there is some civilian casualties associated with them. It`s not a difficult thing for a President to decide, very little risk involved.
The broader issue in Syria is well beyond cruise missile strikes. In fact, all of the problems with the Middle East converge in Syria and we`re not doing well there overall. Let me just run through two or three things that I think we have to work through if the administration decides to develop a broader approach to Syria. First, we have to work against some of the facts on the ground that Russia and Iran have established. Russia has 4,000 troops there approximately.
They have dozens of combat aircraft. The Iranians have 7,000 of their own troops there and control a coalition of about 20,000 more. We have at present about a thousand troops and news reports which I think are accurate say another thousand or so are filtering in. That`s point one. Quickly point two is that we`re not very well-positioned in the diplomatic maneuvering.
Russia has really taken this over. We`ve been excluded from the maneuvering to find a political settlement, which is how Syria will be settled. Now Secretary Mattis is in the Middle East now. And I give him some credit for trying to restore or establish American credibility there. But I`d say the scorecard on Syria right now is not great. It`s not as bad as it could be but it`s not good.
O`DONNELL: And I guess this is a two-part question. How do you see the President handling the conflict with North Korea? And what used to be his conflict with China, which he has now put aside in the hopes of getting help from China With North Korea?
MCLAUGHLIN: Well, I think the way I would summarize the North Korean situation is it could be worse. In other words, I think his team has put together a series of steps that are -- hold the potential to move the situation in a positive direction. Now the messaging from the administration could be a lot more precise and a lot more clear. I won`t run through it. But if you look at everything that everyone says, they`re kind of still all over the map.
Our messaging needs to be actually very simple and very clear. Here is what we want. We want no nukes and no ICBM`s. And point two, we`re not taking anything off the table. And then I wouldn`t say much more than that. But if you look at what they`re actually doing, there is a combination of pressures and deterrents that may help. And I think the Chinese actually have a lot of incentives to work with us on this.
They don`t want a nuclear peninsula. They have a relationship with the United States that they don`t want to damage. 80 percent -- almost all of their -- we are the largest recipient of their exports. They don`t want us to increase our missile defense capability there. And heaven knows, they don`t want Japan or South Korea to go nuclear, which they could do very easily, particularly Japan.
And one other point I`d make on Korea, we often forget it`s not our peninsula. It`s the Koreans` peninsula. And the South Koreans have a lot to say about this. There is an election under way there now. It`s will be held may 7.
It`s neck and neck. One of the candidates said he would like to restart talks with four countries -- South Korea, North Korea, China and the United States. The other candidate says that if he is elected, he will open talks with Kim Jong Un. So one of the things we often forget is the South Koreans have a voice in this too. I hope the administration is factoring that into their planning here.
O`DONNELL: John Mclaughlin, always enlightening. Thank you very much for joining us tonight.
MCLAUGHLIN: Thank You, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, the President`s conflicts with Congress. So far he has gotten nothing from Congress that he told his voters he would get. And tonight the Whitehouse is admitting that President Trump`s latest threat to Congress has failed.
O`DONNELL: In his first 100 days, President Trump has had some pretty big conflicts with Congress and his own party in Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: No conservative is for his plan. So I think his plan is dead on arrival. My hope is it never leaves the House.
REP. JUSTIN AMASH (R), MICHIGAN: It takes the Obamacare framework and repackages it. It doesn`t repeal. It doesn`t replace. It is essentially Obamacare 2.0.
SEN. TOM COTTON (R), ARKANSAS: I would say to my friends in the House of Representatives with whom I serve, do not walk the plank and vote for a bill that cannot pass the Senate and then have to face the consequences of that vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And after promising time and time again that Mexico would pay for Donald Trump`s wall, even when the President of Mexico said absolutely not, Donald Trump turned to Congress. And last week was threatening a government shutdown of Congress did not pay for his wall. And tonight President Trump has surrendered on the wall once again. Senior Whitehouse official tells NBC News the President is now prepared to wait until September, at least, to get funding for his wall. Joining us now former Republican Congressman David Jolly from Florida. Also joining us Joy Reid, an MSNBC National Correspondent and the host of AM Joy Weekends on MSBC. Joy, the conflicts with Congress have been stunning.
JOY REID, MSNBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
O`DONNELL: And he hasn`t even gotten out of the Republican gate, meaning he has been stopped by Republicans.
O`DONNELL: It never got to the point where oh, the Democrats now have to fight.
REID: Yes. Nancy Pelosi should join Barack Obama on vacation because there has been nothing for her to do. He can`t even get passed Republicans. And the problem for Donald Trump because he hasn`t been an actual Republican or thought about policy for like ten minutes in his life before he became President is he didn`t understand that he would walk into a Washington where he was stuck between the, you know, sort of Dekeynesian (PH), bring back the work houses Republicans, which is the freedom caucus, and the ones who just don`t want to get thrown out of office for taking away people`s health care. And he couldn`t figure out how to make that work.
O`DONNELL: David Jolly, this game they were playing for the last week or two about oh, we`re going to work on health care again, we`re going have a meeting tonight about what the new plan is, that just looked to me like they realized they made a mistake in publicly quitting when they lost in the house.
FMR. REP. DAVID JOLLY (R), FLORIDA: Sure.
O`DONNELL: And just wanted to go through the motions so they didn`t get caught quitting. Now they`ve got a lot of work to do. Presumably, health care is just going to finely get left behind. They`ll forget about that.
But it looks like the conflicts are still there on tax policy, on pretty much everything going forward there are conflicts within the Republican Party.
JOLLY: Well, there are. And look Lawrence you`ve been on the hill. You get this, right? For a president who is the author of the Art of the Deal, nobody has lost more deals many first 100 days than Donald Trump. But understand, I think he lost the negotiation before he was ever elected. Look, go back to business, right. I am sure when Donald Trump tried to close a deal on business; he took people on his private plane. He sent them his best bottle of scotch. He sent them cigars.
Look what he did for the past 18 months in politics. He eviscerated the very people he is supposed to work with. And so now he is trying to negotiate something on very slim margins. How do you get to 216 or 218 votes in the House of Representatives? He can`t do it.
And Joy is right. He doesn`t understand policy. He doesn`t practice in the finer details of policy. So he can`t be the ideological leader on these issues either. He is a President without a constituency right now when it comes to Capitol Hill.
O`DONNELL: Yes and Joy, it was so easy I mean for me and certainly others to predict during the campaign that no, Mexico is not going to pay for the wall. And when you go to Congress and ask them to pay for the wall, they`re going to say to you, as they are now, you said Mexico is paying for it. You must never say to Congress you`ve got someone else to pay for it and then come to them to pay for it.
JOLLY: Right. That`s right. And also I think you run up against the fact that a lot of the promises, and you have talked about this right here on this very show Lawrence that Trump made were complete BS. Come on, the idea that they`re going to build a wall and Mexico is going to pay for is something that got rally crowds excited.
It`s not policy that makes any actual sense. So there is no way to argue with Republicans, especially ones that label themselves fiscal conservatives that there is a reason why the American taxpayers should put forward the money for something that you can`t even get Mexico, which he claims is the one who needs to pay for it isn`t going to do it.
And I think on healthcare too. They only said repeal and replace Obamacare because they detested Barack Obama. And so the idea was it was a talking point to fight Barack Obama. None of them want to deal with the consequences of really doing it.
O`DONNELL: So now Donald Trump is saying let`s cut the corporate tax rate to 15 percent. We`re going show you Paul Ryan in December explaining why you can`t do that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: For you to be able to use reconciliation to not have a filibuster, it has to be deficit neutral. And so we have to have deficit neutral tax reform. And that`s why when I say 20 to 15 -- 20 percent we know is deficit neutral. Yes, 20 percent gets us there. 15 percent isn`t deficit neutral.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And so, David, all that translates to is if you cut the corporate rate that low, you`re going to lose tax revenue in to such a degree that procedurally you won`t be allowed to use the 50 vote strategy in the senate.
JOLLY: That`s right. And tax reform is no easier than health care. Listen, the travel ban was a lie. Health care for all was a lie. The building the wall in Mexico, paying for it is a lie.
Tax reform is a lie. And here is -- listen, I`m a former republican member of congress who said we can never shut down the government. The responsibility of congress is to keep the government open. And I took tonight chin because conservatives would say well, if you keep the government open, you`re funding Obamacare. Well, guess what, republicans, who thought Donald Trump was your hero, this president on Friday or next Friday when they keep the government open, you better believe there is not a single dollar to build this great big wall.
And there is going to be every single dollar that Schumer wants to pay for subsidies for Obamacare. Nothing has changed under this president despite his rhetoric.
O`DONNELL: Let`s take a look at one of the conflicts that this administration has had with the courts and what Jeff Sessions had to say about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF SESSIONS, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: 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 powers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Of course, joy, that`s not the only judge who stopped the travel ban.
REID: All of them did.
O`DONNELL: But -- but -- so if it had been a judge in Manhattan, a federal judge in Manhattan, that would have been okay?
REID: Well you know what it was all right when Jefferson Sessions was a back bench sort of crank in congress who was you know spinning his crazy theories about how we were destroying the country with the wrong kind of immigrants in his sort of crank world view. But now he is the attorney general.
So his crank world view is now the official policy of the justice department of the United States.
O`DONNELL: An island in the pacific.
REID: He can`t help himself. I bet he doesn`t understand that Hawaii is a state. I bet you he doesn`t.
O`DONNELL: Former Congressman David Jolly, thank you for joining us really appreciate it.
JOLLY: Good to be with you.
O`DONNELL: Joy, we`re going to need you on a later segment. Coming up, Donald Trump`s conflicts with Donald Trump, no one has disappointed Donald Trump more than Donald Trump. We will show you the video proof.
O`DONNELL: In his first hundred days, Donald Trump has found himself on both sides of several issues. Here`s a sample of that in tonight`s episode of Trump versus Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP. We are going to build a wall. Don`t worry about that. And whose going to pay for the wall? Who`s going to pay for the wall?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tweeting just a short time ago, eventually but at a later date so we can get started early Mexico will be paying in some form for the badly needed border wall.
TRUMP: On my first day I`m going to ask congress to send me a bill to immediately repeal and replace disastrous Obamacare.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you going to get healthcare in 100 days.
TRUMP: Don`t know, doesn`t matter if it`s next week. Next week doesn`t matter. ISIS will be gone if I`m elected president. And they will be gone quickly. They will be gone very, very quickly. It looks like another terrorist attack. And what can you say. Just never ends.
We have to be strong. And I have been saying it for a long time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So what you are saying is Assad can stay in power? That`s not your interest.
TRUMP: No what I`m saying is we have bigger problems than Assad. Tonight I ordered a targeted military strike on the air field in Syria from where a chemical attack was launched.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Up next, more from Joy Reid on Donald Trump`s conflicts with Donald Trump.
TRUMP: We`re going to convene my top generals and give them a simple instruction -- they will have 30 days to submit to the oval office a plan for soundly and quickly defeating ISIS.
O`DONNELL: Joy Reid is back with us. So that remember the 30-day on day 29?
O`DONNELL: When all the generals met at the White House with him, and they submitted the plan. And then they went out in the White House driveway and they said sorry, we can`t tell you what it is.
O`DONNELL: They forgot to even have the meeting. They forgot to even fake the meeting.
O`DONNELL: Here`s the ISIS meeting with the secret plan. We are not going to tell you what it is.
REID: But he didn`t need the generals. Remember he knows more about ISIS than the generals.
O`DONNELL: Yes, knows more than that.
REID: He didn`t even need meet with the generals, he should just deployed hios plan.
REID: I mean the thing is about Donald Trump is he is a textbook sort of study in why you don`t make ridiculous campaign promises. Because even non-ridiculous campaign promises can barely survive actually being elected. But his are all ridiculous.
O`DONNELL: Well here`s you know -- when I talked to trump voters I would say well you know this isn`t true and they go, well they all lie.
O`DONNELL: So what I started to figure out was -- feel anyway was on the border wall when he said Mexico is going the pay for it. It didn`t mean they believed Mexico --
O`DONNELL: -- was going to pay for it.
O`DONNELL: It meant he`s going to be tougher on the southern border than anyone else.
REID: That`s right.
O`DONNELL: Are we going to end up with a wall? I don`t know.
O`DONNELL: But he is going to be way tougher than anyone else.
REID: But I feel like he has forgotten that saying who is going to for it? Everybody screams, Mexico. That was the shtick of the campaign.
REID: It was a way to get the crowd excited. It`s absurd for his team to now go to Capitol Hill and pretend that they want to -- that they should make that an actual policy. That was merely a rhetorical device. And to your point, even a lot of the Trump voters got that which is a rhetorical device.
REID: So it`s ridiculous that we`re even arguing whether or not you`re going to make that into legislation, it`s crazy.
O`DONNELL: You know it reminds me, this is a long way back. But when -- 1988, when President Bush -- to be elected President Bush was saying read my lips, no new taxes on the campaign trail, I had voters say I don`t believe him.
O`DONNELL: But I don`t think he will raise taxes as much as the democrats. Like that was all there was to it.
REID: Just would be like if -- if you would --who did a chicken in every pot? Was it Truman?
O`DONNELL: Yes I think -- before my time.
REID: He would be like if he went to congress and then said I need you to put in an appropriation for chicken in a pot.
O`DONNELL: I want to get your reaction to this, a latest comment by him where he was comparing his ratings on face the nation. He said you know his ratings on Face the Nation were the highest since the world trade center -- since the world trade center came down. He is very, very proud of having the highest rating on that show since the world trade center came down. Thinks that`s a perfectly reasonable thing to say.
REID: Yes, I will quote a conservative Ben Howe, who said I don`t think I`m the best thing since 9/11 is your best calling card.
O`DONNELL: Yes. Yes. And this is the same guy who said -- who lied and said he lost hundreds of friends on 9/11.
REID: That`s right.
O`DONNELL: Which -- which it`s hard to categorize what`s the most unconscionable of all these lies but that you know trying to steal other people`s grief as his own.
O`DONNELL: And then -- then to use it has the punch line of a rating story.
REID: Well this is the reason why all the ridiculously overzealous praise that he got for calling out that -- the poor woman -- the widow whose husband died in the operation he --
REID: In fact sent a botched operation for that Navy SEAL. Is it Donald Trump who is somebody who so fundamentally lack the empathy. I mean he goes to give a purple heart to someone and says congratulations to them. You know he -- he talks about 9/11 as just another ratings point for him. He -- he doesn`t seem to have that core of empathy. That is typical in a President.
He doesn`t seem to be able to summon human empathy. So it is sort of a -- it`s par for the course for him unfortunately.
O`DONNELL: And all presidents have to make reversals from pronouncements about where they`re going in terms of strategy and stuff. But with him, since the original pronouncement is so grandiose when he has to back up it looks so much more extreme.
REID: Because the only thing that Donald Trump really think is worth of reverence is Donald Trump. Donald Trump`s rating, Donald Trump`s you know TV exposure, Donald Trump`s minutes on television, it`s -- it`s embarrassing in a lot of ways just to be his national constituent. And here`s what we`ve got.
O`DONNELL: Joy Reid gets the last words on Donald Trump`s conflicts tonight. Thank you Joy, really appreciate it.
REID: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: I want to say a special good night tonight to Tom Broderick, he and I were elementary classmates, at Saint Brendan`s Dorchester. We were altar boys together at the church in Saint Brendan`s and we were in the church today in Dorchester for the last time. This was Tom`s funeral today. We miss him already. Good night, Tom. The 11th hour starts now.
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