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The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 7/6/17 Profiting off the Presidency

Guests: Michael Moore, Randy Bryce, Dan Rather

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: July 6, 2017 Guest: Michael Moore, Randy Bryce, Dan Rather

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: List maintenance procedures in each state to make sure states are in compliance with the law that decides who should be kicked off the voter rolls.

Justice Department tells the states to explain how they`re going to kick people off the rolls in every state in the country. We talked to officials in Rhode Island and California, who told us that the Justice Department letter was a total surprise out of nowhere.

People who track this sort of thing say the letter is unprecedented, they`re calling it a directive from the federal government to start purging voters off the rolls.

It appears that the Justice Department is laying the ground work for a lawsuit if states refuse. This is one to keep an eye on. We have seen big purges of the voting rolls before, and we have seen it go very wrong.

Whether or not there is a national effort to push for that sort of thing, we do not know, but watch this space, the Department of Justice pushing for that.

Again, it`s unprecedented, and we don`t know how this is going to work out. Watch this space. That does it for us tonight, now it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good evening, Lawrence.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Good evening, Rachel, I watched the beginning of your show tonight after that cliff-hanger that you left last night.

And so there`s so much to talk about in it, but the basic lesson seems to be that the people who are telling us that it`s all fake news might want to actually produce, deliver some fake news that they can therefore point to as proof that it`s all fake news.

MADDOW: Yes, I mean, I don`t -- I don`t know who -- I mean, I don`t -- I don`t want to speak to the origin of this thing, this forgery that we were shopped.

I think the bottom line is we all need to do due diligence all the time. But it is worth being aware that somewhere, for some reason -- and we don`t know what that reason is, somebody is shopping pretty good forgeries of what appear to be NSA documents about Trump and Russia.

And so it`s just -- I felt like -- it`s kind of a weird thing to do a news story about, but I sort of feel like I need to send a flag up the flagpole to just let everybody else know what we have figured out because I can`t understand -- I can`t believe that it`s only going to happen to me.

I imagine this may be happening to other news folks as well.

O`DONNELL: Oh, no, it`s a very relevant report, especially with what we`ve seen happen at "Cnn" that -- look, this is what it`s like when you`re on the receiving end of this.

You ended up handling it differently and more carefully than possibly anyone else who would have received that.

MADDOW: Well, we had to get a lot of help with this. This was like an all hands on deck sort of thing. But you know, listen, people try to -- you know, there are -- in politics and in life, there are dirty tricks and pranks, and it`s just sort of a -- it`s a moment to really be on your toes about those things.

O`DONNELL: It was also a great detective story to listen to.

MADDOW: Thank you, my friend, all right --

O`DONNELL: Thanks, Rachel --

MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence, cheers.

O`DONNELL: Well, at least, no one is saying Donald Trump became president today.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We want to see fair press. We don`t want fake news.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He doesn`t want a fair press, he wants a fawning press.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you once and for all, yes or no, definitively say that Russia interfered in the 2016 election?

TRUMP: Well, I think it was Russia, and I think it could have been other people in other countries.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump is the only American who does not believe that the Russians interfered with our elections.

TRUMP: Obama, when he was president found out about this. He did nothing about it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To say he did nothing would not be accurate. For example, the sanctions that the Obama administration put on Putin --

WILLIE GEIST, MORNING JOE: The president of the United States ripping another president of the United States on foreign soil.



GEIST: And the CIA and the press. That`s unseemly on its own.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s saying that Obama did nothing about it, which means -- which lends it legitimacy. So which is it?

TRUMP: Nobody really knows, nobody really knows for sure.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nobody really knows, yes. Your intelligence community --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, actually do really know --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Says they absolutely do know.

MALCOLM NANCE, MEDIA COMMENTATOR ON COUNTERTERRORISM & INTELLIGENCE: Donald Trump has just undermined the strategic standing of the United States by essentially saying his own intelligence agencies are unreliable. Putin will love that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s ill-prepared. He`s inexperienced and he doesn`t have the temperament for this kind of thing.

And because he`s the president of the United States, that`s what`s going to get us into trouble.


O`DONNELL: The president of the United States flew to Poland to deliver this important message today to the Polish people and the world. Here is that message.


TRUMP: "Nbc" is equally as bad despite the fact that I made them a fortune with "The Apprentice", but they forgot that.


O`DONNELL: Now, I know it sounds like it, but that was not just another goofy Trump line. That was the president of the United States trying to communicate what he believes is an important American principle, a Trump rule, that if you make money for a corporation and if that corporation owns a news division, then everyone working in that news organization should be publicly nice to you all the time.

This will be one of his ignored points, of course, in a day of public comments that disgrace the American presidency and reduced it to something nasty and inane.

And we will consider and discuss much more of what the president had to say today. But for the moment, let`s just focus on this one Trumpian bit, this sentence that is so easy to ignore when so many of his other sentences seem so threatening to truth and a free press and other things.

Now, let`s not argue about how much of a fortune Donald Trump`s TV show made for Nbc. Suffice it to say that hundreds of Nbc shows have made much more money for the network than Donald Trump`s TV show.

The president clearly believes though that Nbc and Msnbc owe him friendly and positive news coverage because he once worked on an Nbc show, well, so did Bill Cosby.

A show that made thousands of times more money for Nbc than Donald Trump`s show ever did. Most of the world does not enjoy a free press that is as free as the American press.

Many well-meaning people around the world in those countries don`t believe that the press should have more freedom than it already has in those countries.

America and American presidents, when they go abroad have spent centuries now trying to convince the world of a value, that the first amendment style free press represents.

And now we have an American president who is telling the world that if money changes hands, that changes everything.

If money changes hands, that changes the rule. If money changes hands, then that should limit the freedom of the press.

Nbc News and Msnbc should remember that Donald Trump`s TV show sometimes turned a profit for Nbc. "I made them a fortune with "The Apprentice", but they forgot that."

They forgot, they forgot that they owe me. That`s going to make sense. It`s going to make sense to some people around the world in government and out of government who don`t yet have an American-style appreciation of a free press.

It certainly makes sense to Donald Trump and everyone in his family. This really is the way he thinks. Now, we know he`s lying about Nbc producing fake news.

He knows it`s real news. He`s just lying about that. We know he`s lying about that. But he is not lying about the idea that Nbc News and Msnbc should be nice to him because he used to work for Nbc.

And he is now in a position to spread that kind of poisonous transactional thinking around the world. He is in a position to encourage foreign leaders who want to restrict the news media in their countries.

If any other president of the United States had said something like that, something like that one sentence, it would be the wildest thing that that president said all year, and that president would have to retract it immediately and insist that he didn`t mean it.

But not Donald Trump. He says something like that, and it just gets lost in the avalanche of other comments that he made today, including his continued refusal to acknowledge the unanimous view of the American intelligence agencies that Russia did interfere in our election.


TRUMP: I said it very simply. I think it could very well have been Russia, but I think it could well have been other countries.

And I won`t be specific, but I think a lot of people interfere. I think it`s been happening for a long time, it`s been happening for many years.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You again say you think it was Russia. Your intelligence agencies have been far more definitive. They say it was Russia. Why won`t you agree with them and say it was? --

TRUMP: Well, I`ll tell you. Let me just start off by saying, I heard it was 17 agencies. I said, boy, that`s a lot, do we even have that many intelligence agencies, right?

Let`s check it. And we did some very heavy research. It turned out to be three or four, it wasn`t 17. And many of your compatriots had to change their reporting and they had to apologize, and they had to correct.

Now, with that being said, mistakes have been made. I agree, I think it was Russia, but I think it was probably other people and/or countries. And I see nothing wrong with that statement. Nobody really knows.


O`DONNELL: President Trump had no harsh words for Vladimir Putin, who directed -- directed the Russian interference into our election.

And instead, he managed to blame President Obama for the Russian interference in our election.


TRUMP: The thing I have to mention is that Barack Obama, when he was president, found out about this in terms of if it were Russia, found out about it in August.

Now, the election was in November. That`s a lot of time, he did nothing about it. Why did he do nothing about it? He was told it was Russia by the CIA as I understand it.

It was well reported, and he did nothing about it. They say he choked. Well, I don`t think he choked. I think what happened is he thought Hillary Clinton was going to win the election, and he said, let`s not do anything about it.


O`DONNELL: It is, of course, not true that President Obama did nothing about it. He confronted Vladimir Putin directly about it and President Obama authorized the intelligence agencies to make Russia`s interference in the election public in October on the very same day that this became public.


TRUMP: I just start kissing them. It`s like a magnet, just kiss I know either way. And when you`re a star, they let you do it, you can do anything.


O`DONNELL: Needless to say, the Obama administration`s public warning about Russian interference in the election was largely drowned out by Donald Trump`s bragging about sexual assault.

If the world was looking for clarity or confidence in how President Trump will deal with North Korea, this was what we got instead.


TRUMP: As far as North Korea is concerned, I don`t know, we`ll see what happens. I don`t like to talk about what I have planned, but I have some pretty severe things that we`re thinking about.

That doesn`t mean we`re going to do them. I don`t draw red lines. President Obama drew a red line and I was the one that made it look a little bit better than it was, but that could have been done a lot sooner.

And you wouldn`t have had the same situation that you have right now in Syria. That was a big mistake. But I think we`ll just take a look at what happens over the coming weeks and months with respect to North Korea.

It`s a shame that they`re behaving this way, but they are behaving in a very dangerous manner, and something will have to be done about it.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, David Rothkopf; columnist for "The Washington Post" and a visiting professor at Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs.

Also with us, Max Boot; senior fellow for national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and a former defense policy adviser for Romney 2012.

David, where to begin. And in fact, please begin wherever you want on the president`s public comments today working from what we just heard about North Korea on back to what -- everything we heard today.

DAVID ROTHKOPF, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: Well, you`re absolutely right. We heard a lot of outrageous things.

We heard another bumbling, inarticulate performance that was unleaderly, attacked our press, attacked our intelligence community.

But I think something bigger is happening here in this 24-hour period we should look at because the president is systematically dismantling the American leadership role in the world.

He stood next to a Polish leader who is restricting freedom of the press, which is something we`ve fought for for decades.

And he lined up with him and attacked the press. So he undermined our ability to lead towards a free press. He had his Secretary of State today, Rex Tillerson, talk about becoming allied with Russia and Iran and Syria in Syria, going away from the values that we fight for.

Today, because he`s taken steps back on trade, the Europeans and the Japanese announced one of the biggest trade deals in modern history that doesn`t have the United States involved in it.

Tomorrow, when he meets with Vladimir Putin, as it happens, he`s going to be doing it at exactly the same time the G20 is meeting to discuss energy and climate, a meeting he doesn`t want to be in.

At the same time, of course, he is cozying up to a man who undermined American democracy, the principle thing we fought for over the course of the period of the past century.

And he is not going to bring up the issue. He is going to effectively reward Putin with the meeting. And today he took not the intelligence community line on that interference in the election.

He took the Putin line of that interference. So energy policy, trade policy, democracy policy, the values we stand for on the battlefield, these are the things America has been known for for 75 years.

And one by one, in one day, they`re being obliterated by this man who is systematically destroying America`s standing in the world.

O`DONNELL: And Max Boot, I agree with what David had to say, and I also have the impression that Donald Trump doesn`t have the vaguest idea that he`s doing any of that.

MAX BOOT, SENIOR FELLOW FOR NATIONAL SECURITY STUDIES AT THE COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: He`s just being Donald Trump, but it`s especially jarring, Lawrence.

I think, when you see Donald Trump taking the Donald Trump show on the road, I mean this kind of stuff is bad enough at home.

But it`s especially jarring where it`s before a foreign audience where he`s not just speaking for his base. He`s supposed to be speaking for the entire country, and he doesn`t seem to understand that.

I mean, remember just a few days ago when he said that what he does is, quote "modern-day presidential." Well, I`m kind of an old-fashioned guy, and I prefer old-fashioned presidential.

And I`m thinking back to one of my heroes, Ronald Reagan. I mean, can you imagine Ronald Reagan going abroad in 1981 and saying, oh, there`s no evidence that there`s any Soviet expansion. That`s just our intelligence community saying that.

They often lie. But if there is any Soviet expansion, it`s not my fault. Blame Jimmy Carter, it`s all Jimmy Carter`s fault.

It`s shocking what he -- that guy was a loser. I mean, you could not imagine Ronald Reagan or any previous presidents saying anything remotely like that.

But as David suggests, we`re used to this kind of stuff coming out of Donald Trump`s mouth. I mean, it almost seems normal right now, but it shouldn`t be normal.

We should be outraged that he is not representing America in the way that America should be represented.

O`DONNELL: The point about it not being normal and outrageous is exactly why I isolated just that one little sentence about his history with Nbc and what -- because that in itself is so wild and crazy, and yet it`s tucked in to this giant sandwich of crazy stuff that makes --


ROTHKOPF: Lawrence, look what happened today --

BOOT: And it`s today --

O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Max, quickly --


BOOT: Well, I was just going to say, I mean, it`s incredibly destabilizing to America`s leadership role because, you know, for decades we`ve been telling other countries that they need to promote freedom of speech, freedom of the press, all the liberties that we take for granted.

And now any two-bit dictator in the world who wants to repress the media can say, it`s just fake news, I`m opposed to it just like Donald Trump.

I mean, he is basically giving a license to every strong man around the world to act on his worst instincts.

O`DONNELL: David, can you explain to Donald Trump why it is in our interest for Poland to have a free press?

ROTHKOPF: I don`t know if anybody can explain anything to Donald Trump. He doesn`t want to be briefed. He uses these tweet-length briefings.

You would think that it was evident on its face that a free press benefits any society, but Trump is allergic to this idea.

He`s been fighting the idea of a free press from the very beginning. But I just want to bring up one other thing. We are now 20 minutes into your show.

Today, the head of the Office of Government Ethics quit the United States government because he feels the president of the United States is profiting from the presidency and that the atmosphere for protecting ethics in the United States government is so odious, he couldn`t do business anymore.

Now, you know, you made a comment earlier about that one line would have stood out for a year in a presidency. The head of the Office --


ROTHKOPF: Of Government Ethics quitting because he thinks the president is corrupt and it`s like, you know, the third item, the fourth item in the news for the day is a sign that we have crossed away.

And the one thing we have to remind ourselves, and Max does a good job of it, you do a good job of it every day is this is not normal.

We are not in normal times. This man is undermining the United States, and as I said in a column that I wrote for "The Post" earlier in the week, the single biggest national security threat that we face as a country today is the president of the United States.

O`DONNELL: Max, the thing that Donald Trump doesn`t seem to know is that historically in the countries that do not have anything like a free press, and the less free press they have, one of the most lied about entities in their news media historically has been the United States of America.

BOOT: Of course, I mean, he shows very little awareness of what this country has stood for for more than 200 years. And it`s especially jarring when you think about the timing of this.

The fact that it was just two days ago that we were celebrating the 4th of July, the issuance of the declaration of independence, which said that all men have these rights, among them are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Donald Trump seems utterly unaware of that, and I was struck, Lawrence, reading his speech in Warsaw, the fact that he didn`t talk about freedom. He didn`t talk about democracy.

What did he talk about? he talked about the shadowy forces that are threatening to erase the bonds of culture, faith and tradition that make us who we are; culture, faith and tradition.

This is the way that blood and soil, European populists have talked for decades. This is the way that Steven Bannon talks.

But this is not the way American leaders have talked since 1776 because we believe that there is a heck of a lot more uniting us than bonds of culture, faith, and tradition.

We believe there are shared ideals, our shared commitment to the principles embodied in the declaration of independence that we celebrated two years ago, and Donald Trump seems either oblivious to those principles or hostile to them. That`s unprecedented.

O`DONNELL: Max Boot, David Rothkopf, thank you both for joining us tonight, I really appreciate it.

BOOT: Pleasure.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, we are now 11 hours away from President Trump`s meeting with Vladimir Putin. What will they talk about? What won`t they talk about? And will we ever know the truth of what they talk about?

And what is Mitch McConnell really trying to do with that health care bill? Is he really trying to pass that bill?



MICHAEL MCFAUL, FORMER U.S. DIPLOMAT: What I expect is that President Trump will meet Putin. He`s going to like Putin.

Putin is a straight shooter, straight talker. He`s going to -- they`re going to bond over things like, you know, their common dislike of fake news and the deep state.

And Putin is going to try to play to Trump`s ego, to say you and I need to work together against these enemies, especially those in your country so that we can do big things together. That`s the thing I fear.


O`DONNELL: The one thing that seems predictable about the Trump presidency is how Donald Trump will behave with Vladimir Putin.

The president`s meeting with Vladimir Putin is scheduled for tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time. Attending the meeting will be President Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, President Putin, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and translators.

Last week, national security adviser H.R. McMaster told "The New York Times" there`s no specific agenda, it`s really going to be whatever the president wants to talk about.

That, of course, means that Donald Trump will begin with the size of his electoral college victory and the size of his inauguration crowds.

But Vladimir Putin has something more serious in mind. According to "The Daily Beast", his foreign ministry has said the agenda will concern everything from Syria to Ukraine to returning two intelligence complexes on U.S. soil, even to gay rights in Chechnya.

Joining us now, Evelyn Farkas; former deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia.

She`s also an Msnbc national security analyst. And also with us, Adrian Karatnyoky; a senior fellow at The Atlantic Council and an expert on Russia.

And Adrian, this is the buffoon meets the spy master. Is it -- can it be anything else?

ADRIAN KARATNYOKY, SENIOR FELLOW, ATLANTIC COUNCIL: Well, if you think about it, there will be two people on each side in the room who have some role to play in the discussion.

Two of them have 20 weeks each of foreign policy experience. The other guys have 20 years each. So even from the point of view of a more normal presidency, this is unprecedented that a president would step in when President Obama went in as a relative novice.

He brought people like Mike McFaul and people who had spent years studying Russia, years understanding their adversary.

We have a guy who is involved in business transactions -- we have two guys involved in business transactions who are trying to get action going on Russian soil.

O`DONNELL: Evelyn Farkas, Adrian reminds us that the president -- the least experienced president in history, who is an obvious ignoramus about all things will be sitting there with the least experienced Secretary of State in history.

EVELYN FARKAS, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR RUSSIA, UKRAINE & EURASIA: Right, and I`m also worried. I assume they`ll have an interpreter there.

I don`t know whether Putin will want to speak in English. But I`m more worried that there won`t be perhaps a note taker there unless of course Secretary Tillerson is going to take notes, which I would hope that he would do, but I`m guessing that he might not do because Secretary Lavrov won`t take notes.

I`m sure they`ll figure out a way to get a note taker in. So I`m worried about the record as well because, you know, that`s how we hold officials accountable if we lack trust.

And not only are they inexperienced, but there are some question marks hanging over the president and even to some extent, Secretary Tillerson with regard to how strongly and firmly he will deal with Russia and whether he understands the real objectives of this Kremlin.

So I`m worried because it`s going to be a very chummy atmosphere. Obviously, we know that President Trump is exceedingly comfortable with Lavrov just based on what happened in the Oval Office right the day after he fired former director of the FBI Comey because we got those pictures.

It will be just as chummy, and that`s actually the moment when he`s supposed to be firm and say stop meddling in our domestic politics and stop invading your neighbors.

And if you can do those two things and maybe we can talk about cooperating on Syria and a whole host of other things.

O`DONNELL: But Adrian, H.R. McMaster has said there is no Trump agenda in this meeting, none.

KARATNYOKY: I think there`s a clear Russian agenda. The Russian agenda is the old policy of linkage. They`d like to link cooperation on the Middle East and fighting terrorism with a carte blanche to menace their east European neighbors.

Now, I have to say that when Trump was on script, and I assume this was prepared by the national security team, some of the messages he had were right.

He even talked about cyber terrorism, he talked about Russian destabilization in Ukraine and Russian alliances with unworthy regimes like Syria and Iran.

But off script, he is completely unpredictable and the weakest link in the current entourage of his is Mr. Tillerson, the tough-minded people; General Mattis and McMaster are not in the room nor is any strong hand who understands Russia and understands how to deal with Russia.

O`DONNELL: Evelyn, are we going to know what -- are we going to have any accurate sense of what was said in that room?

FARKAS: I`m afraid that we won`t. I mean, that`s exactly the point that I was trying to make earlier. And I would agree with Adrian that some of the things that came out of the speech, some of the things that were said in the speech in Poland today were good.

They were healthy. They were useful for our alliances, building -- you know, showing strong support for NATO and for our allies who are members of the alliance.

But at the same time, it became very clear to me that in the language that President Trump used, he still thinks that the number one threat to the United States is terrorism.

And I respectfully disagree while I will not downgrade terrorism, I mean, it`s clearly an ongoing threat to the United States.

Russia is the immediate existential threat to us. They are the country, they are the entity that tried to take down our democracy if you will.

They attacked our election and they also have nuclear weapons, and they also have a military modernization program and a doctrine that is very dangerous.

It employs surprise, which again is dangerous when you`re dealing with nuclear weapons but also even with cyber weapons of the type that they have and the way they might use them, again, according to their doctrine.

So, I think we`re in a very dangerous space with Russia right now. The last thing you do with a bully like Putin and someone like Putin who has over time taken more and more -- he`s invaded one country in 2008, he invaded another one in 2015.

Then he went into Syria hard core and really challenged us. And then of course the meddling in our elections.

If we don`t stand up to Putin, he will keep on pushing, and that is not in America`s interest, and it`s not in the interest of our very alarmed allies, including not just the Europeans but the Japanese.

Earlier in the segment, you mentioned the trade agreements. Our allies are going to forge along without us and that will not be to the benefit of the United States of America and its citizens.

O`DONNELL: Well, Vladimir Putin is on the verge of meeting the proven weakest negotiator in the history of the American presidency. It`s going to be quite a meeting.

Adrian Karatnyoky and Evelyn Farkas, thank you both for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.

FARKAS: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, former Republican Congressman who was part of the leadership of the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in the House of Representatives says that the charges that could be brought against Donald Trump are far more serious.

He will join us.



WALTER SHAUB, DIRECTOR, UNITED STATES OFFICE OF GOVERNMENT ETHICS: America should have the right to know what the motivations of its leaders are, and they need to know that financial interests, personal financial interests, aren`t among them.


O`DONNELL: That was Walter Schaub`s exit interview today with CBS news. Walter Schaub is the Director of the Office of Government Ethics for another week or so. He is resigning that position six months before the end of his term.

Walter Schaub did not publicly frame his resignation as a specific protest against the ethical lapses of the Trump Administration. But when asked by CBS news if he thought the President and his family are using the Office of the Presidency to enrich themselves, he said this.


SHAUB: I can`t know with what their intention is. I know that the effect is that there`s an appearance that the businesses are profiting from his occupying the presidency. and appearance matters as much as reality.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Kathleen Clark, Professor of Law at Washington University in St. Louis. She is one of the country a leading experts on ethical stands for government officials also joining us by phone, David From, Senior Editor for the Atlantic. Kathleen, your reaction to Walter Schaub a resignation?

It`s a five-year appointment by the president and it`s meant to extend beyond one term of the presidency. so he was going to be leaving in six months. What does it mean to you that he`s leaving six months earlier?

KATHLEEN CLARK, PROFESSOR, WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Well, it`s a shame that he decided he could serve the public better by leaving the government. So it`s a great loss for the public. But Walter Schaub has done a terrific job as the Director of the Office of Government Ethics and has really shown extraordinary leadership in the last year or so.

O`DONNELL: And David Frum, historically, the office of government ethics power comes not so much from its ability on the enforcement side, which it wasn`t really designed to do, but it`s supposed to be one of those agencies where everyone wants the stamp of approval of the office of government ethics, and they will do anything to get it. Not so with the Trump Administration.

DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, ATLANTIC: This resignation puts a spotlight where a spotlight is need. we`re talking today about a challenge that is brought by some public interest groups about disclosures of assets that Jared Kushner failed to make. But we should all be even more concerned, if possible, by the omissions of debts in the disclosures from both President Trump and Jared Kushner.

President Trump probably owes at least double what it is that he has disclosed on his forms. That raises the question to whom is he beholden? What does the President owe, and to whom does him owe it is going to be one of the most important questions of this Presidency.

O`DONNELL: Kathleen Clark, now president trump gets to appoint the person who will be examining the ethics issues for the president and for the trump family.

CLARK: That`s correct. And what we hope will happen is he will actually appoint someone who will show the kind of independence and leadership that Walter Schaub has done. Our fear is that he will appoint someone like his own white house counsel, who seems intent on protecting Donald Trump as an individual rather than protecting the people by representing the office, acting on behalf of the public.

O`DONNELL: David Frum, this is an appointment that`s subject to Senate Confirmation. So what can we expect from the Republican Majority in the Senate when they examine Donald Trump a choice to head the Office of Government Ethics?

FRUM: I don`t think that question is going to come up because if you ask me what my expectation is, I expect he`ll leave the office vacant for months and months and months.

O`DONNELL: Kathleen Clark and David Frum, thank you for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.

CLARK: Thank you.

FRUM: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Walter Schaub will join Chris Hayes tomorrow night at 8:00 p.m. right here on MSNBC. Coming up, what would Paul Ryan have done if President Hillary Clinton`s fired the FBI director who was investigating her? A former Republican Congressman who was part of the impeachment team on the Bill Clinton case says that the Republicans would already be pursuing impeachment if Hillary Clinton had done what Donald Trump has done.


O`DONNELL: The charges facing President Trump now are more serious than the charges that got president Bill Clinton impeached by the House of Representatives says Former Republican Congressman Bob Inglis. In 1998, Congressman Bob Inglis, a South Carolina Republican helped the House Judiciary Committee draft the impeachment articles against President Clinton.


BOB INGLIS, FMR. REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN: Obstruction of Justice is what he`s accused of. Now, if the man had discretion, he would resign. If he had a shred of dignity or honor, he would resign today. But since he doesn`t, we move on to a separate thing, and that is proof. We must now see if there is proof that he has committed these crimes.


O`DONNELL: Now, a former Republican Congressman, defeated in his last re- election campaign largely because of his support for Al Gore`s position on climate change. Bob Inglis says that a public censure or reprimand may have been a better idea in the Clinton impeachment case. Bob Inglis also says that if a Democrat in the Whitehouse had fired an FBI Director who was investigating her, Paul Ryan`s House of Representatives would be pursuing impeachment charges right now.

Joining us now, former South Carolina Congressman Bob Inglis. Congressman, you`re seeing just pure partisan hypocrisy hire. If this was a Democrat firing the FBI Director, and the FBI Director testifying about certain kinds of intimidation tactics used in conversations with the FBI Director, you would expect this republican House of Representatives to be moving toward impeachment already.

INGLIS: Well, yes. Let`s say that Hillary Clinton had won and let`s say that James Comey, Director of the FBI, had reopened the investigation into her use of the private e-mail server. Let`s say that she didn`t like that and that she fired him. Republicans would be howling, and rightly so because it would look very suspicious. But Donald Trump has basically done those things, and Republicans are whimpering.

That`s a real problem. We need to get to the bottom of this. We need to restore confidence in our government, in our electoral system. So it`s incumbent, I believe, upon my party to really get to the bottom of this and to pursue this vision of Russia connections with real vigor.

O`DONNELL: In a piece that you wrote about this, you say that the difference between Republicans now and Republicans during the Nixon Presidency who helped, in effect, drive Richard Nixon out of office onset they discovered the crimes he was involved in, you say the big difference now is the presence of sick oh frantic media. What do you mean by that?

INGLIS: Well, if you watch Fox & Friends, what you`ll sigh is a steady diet of basically fawning over the President and the Vice President. Anything they say must be true. I remember when Donald Trump made the unsubstantiated allegation that Barack Obama had wiretapped him in the Trump Tower, that morning on Fox & Friends, they were basically repeating that allegation as though it had been proven fact, completely dispensing with what journalists should do, which is say, well, this is something they said. But now let`s get to the bottom of this. Anyway, based on that kind of thing, what you end up with is a media that supports that 38 percent that is Donald Trump`s support and gives them the steady diet of explaining, rationalizing, normalizing his behavior.

And the result is that we don`t have what we had back in the Nixon days, which was very credible republicans facing three 30-minute nightly news broadcasts knowing that they had to be straight with those folks that were asking them questions on those three 30-minute broadcasts.

O`DONNELL: A lot of us have been looking at the Republican Party in the house and in the senate and wondering when someone will step forward and react to President Trump the way he or she would react to a democrat doing the same thing. Do you have any candidates who you expect at some point to step up to this challenge?

INGLIS: Yes. I think there are some people that really are being pretty clear. Senator Ben Sasse, for example, has been very clear. Lindsey Graham, from my state, has been clear, especially about the tweets and the demeaning of the office of the presidency and the demeaning of the country by those tweets. And so I would expect people like that to show a little bit of independent nerve and some real respect for the office and respect for the process to step forward.

O`DONNELL: Quickly before we go. What kind of reaction have you gotten from your former colleagues for taking this position?

INGLIS: Well, I think that some of them are very grateful. In other words, that somebody is out there saying something that doesn`t face the 38 percent. I mean I got to admit, you know, it`s easy for me to say these things because I`ve been shot through by the 38 percent. So having been killed by them, you know, it doesn`t hurt anymore, they can go ahead and shoot away.

And so there`s some real liberty in that, but I hope that those that are in elected office will eventually show that kind of courage.

O`DONNELL: Former Congressman Bob Inglis, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

INGLIS: Great to be with you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, why today was a very bad day for republican senators who want to repeal Obamacare and a very good day for 23 million people who would lose their health care coverage if those senators succeed.


O`DONNELL: If you`re one of the 23 million people worried about losing your health care coverage when the president signs the republican health care bill into law today was a good day for you. And it was a very bad day for republican senators who are hoping to pass that bill. The republican leader of the senate Mitch McConnell might actually be one of the many republicans who really doesn`t want to pass that bill, even though he wrote it.

Maybe that`s why Mitch McConnell has never said anything that a majority leader usually says when he is really trying to pass a bill. Not one word about how confident he is that the bill is going to pass. He has refused invitations from reporters to express any confidence at all. And every time he refuses that invitation he makes it easier for republicans who are opposing the bill.

Passing bills in the senate is far more complicated than the house with the Senates more complicated rules. The majority leader needs everything to line up just right. He needs to use party pressure which Mitch McConnell has clearly chosen not to do. He needs to express confidence which Mitch McConnell never has. And he needs momentum.

He needs to move as fast as possible, which Mitch McConnell has deliberately not done. Today Mitch McConnell admitted publicly in his home state of Kentucky that the republicans might never be able to agree on a bill.


MITCH MCCONNELL, UNITED STATES SENATOR: If my side is unable to agree on an adequate replacement, then some kind of action on -- with regard to the private health insurance market must occur.


O`DONNELL: Majority leaders on their way to passing bills don`t ever talk about what will happen if they don`t pass the bill. Because the majority leader has to convince his own party to hold hands and vote for a bill that is going to pass. Remember when the rumor spread the week before the fourth of July that Mitch McConnell was going to find way suddenly to revive his health care bill and have a vote on it on that Friday before the fourth of July recess.

It sounded impossible at the time and of course it didn`t happen. And now republicans in the congress and in the White House are letting it be known that the senate will not vote on the health care bill next week when they are back in session. And they might -- might get to it a week after that. Momentum isn`t everything in legislation. But it is important. And Mitch McConnell has completely lost the momentum. Today he sounded like a defeated legislator.


MCCONNELL: So where we end up if republicans are not able to agree among themselves is the crisis will still be there. And we`ll have to see what the way forward is at that point.


O`DONNELL: Up next, what was that we just saw? What is Mitch McConnell really up to? Does he really want to pass a bill that he knows is politically toxic to Republican Senators re-election campaigns?



MCCONNELL: I`m in the position of the guy with a rubiks cube trying to twist the dial in such a way to get to at least 50 members of my conference who can agree to a version of repealing and replacing.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now Igor Volsky the vice president of the Center for American Progress. Igor I have never seen a majority leader less enthusiastic about passing his own bill. And I have long doubted that Mitch McConnell really wants to pass this thing.

IGOR VOLSKY, VICE PRESIDENT AT THE CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Yes, he is not terribly excited. But I think you know the significance of what he also did today was really put a lie to this claim we`ve heard coming out of the Trump administration, from republicans, that Obamacare is beyond repair. There is nothing you could do. It`s going to die.

If Mitch McConnell is saying hey if this things fails we`ll find a way to fix it in a bipartisan way. What that means is if you stabilize the markets they`ll continue to function for years to come.

O`DONNELL: Yes. And Chuck Schumer jumped out immediately with a very approving comment about what Mitch McConnell said today expressing eagerness to work with McConnell if he fails with the republicans. And what Schumer means is work to shore up and improve the current version of Obamacare.

VOLSKY: Yes. Make sure premiums are affordable, that the out of pocket payments are affordable, that people have options. insurers need some certainty but it`s all doable. And I think -- look, if the fear that McConnell is putting in his conference is get in line with this bill and if you don`t you have to work with democrats, and that is like some -- some big obstacle they have to overcome if that`s what it takes, great.

O`DONNELL: But he isn`t even presenting it as some scary alternative. He presents it as the perfectly logical next step. I got to say, I`ve looked McConnell through this whole exercise and thought he knows this hurts republicans if he passes it and becomes law. Why would he want to do that? I think he was hoping that it died in the house and never got to him. But here we are.

VOLSKY: Yes, that`s possible but also the bill is exactly what McConnell wants, which is take services away from lower and middle income Americans and give a huge tax cut to the rich. I mean that`s what McConnell has been fighting for his entire career. So I don`t know that he doesn`t want it, maybe not in this way but he certainly wants kind of the guts of it.