Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: July 17, 2017 Guest: Mieke Eoyang, David Frum, Joshua Green
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: Used to this stalled in the middle of the -- appears to have died, or at least it is stalled in the middle of the intersection where it doesn`t seem safe.
The Republicans tonight lost at least two more votes for that bill, which means they`re down to at least four no votes. They can only afford two no votes to still get the thing passed.
Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas saying tonight, "we must now start fresh with an open legislative process." And since the statement from Moran, more senators may now be peeling off.
Senator Lindsey Graham saying tonight, quote, "it`s time for a new approach." That does it for us tonight, we will see you again tomorrow.
Our continuing coverage now with -- on THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good evening, Lawrence.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Good evening, Rachel. This is of course huge news as you made very clear at 9:00 p.m. tonight.
And for me, it`s one of those moments where I think, oh, OK, so the old senate rules still hold, and that the old rule being that the longer it takes the Senate to get to a controversial vote, the weaker the support is.
But, you know, Rachel, I can`t rely on any of the old rules anymore. But this time it seemed to work.
MADDOW: Well, yes, and it`s very -- you know, Mitch McConnell shouldn`t be underestimated. But Mitch McConnell is good at getting stuff passed, and he moves in mysterious ways.
And so it`s possible that he has some plan B around this, but I can`t imagine that his plan for getting this through involved losing both a moderate like Susan Collins and home state iconoclast like Rand Paul, and also conservatives like Mike Lee and Jerry Moran.
It`s such a heterogeneous group that is saying no. It implies that any plan that McConnell might have had for how to maneuver around the various votes that he needs might just have fallen apart.
I don`t know if more time is going to help or hurt. I`m starting to feel tonight looking at senators` Twitter feeds just over the course of this hour that there might be more no votes by the time -- by the time we hit midnight tonight.
O`DONNELL: Well, Rachel, now they don`t even have to say no. As you noticed with Lindsey Graham, he doesn`t have to come out and say no because it`s done.
They`re not -- they can`t do it now. And so you`re going to hear process. You`re going to hear Lindsey Graham saying, now it`s time to just start over again with something new.
And Graham himself was working on offering his own alternative to the bill. He was going to offer it in the form of an amendment.
And so there was that incredible pressure where if they just lost one vote, if they just lost one vote, and so they didn`t lose just one.
They lost two --
MADDOW: Right --
O`DONNELL: And that says coordination. That says no one wanted to be the one person to do it, so let`s get more than one of us together to make this announcement at the same time.
MADDOW: Right. And then as soon as you get over that threshold, whether it`s one person who sort of, you know, takes it for the team or whether you`ve got two people spreading the blame like they did tonight with Jerry Moran and Mike Lee, once you`re over that threshold, then for any number of reasons with any level of specificity or lack thereof, all of the other Republican senators, including almost everybody except Mitch McConnell, can now get on board and say what they think their problems with it were --
O`DONNELL: Well, of course, for them, Rachel, the pressure is really off in the sense that now the big majority of them, 40 of them, don`t have to say a word.
MADDOW: Yes --
O`DONNELL: They don`t have to say anything, and there`s a bunch of them -- there`s dozens of them who have been ducking, who have never said they`re for it, they`re against it. And now they`ll never have to say they`re for it or against it.
MADDOW: Yes, and it`s you know, two things here interesting to me, just think as we got this breaking news tonight. One was that your words were ringing in my ears from Thursday night when you were talking about Ted Cruz being the author of the substantive new parts of this bill.
And we sort of laughed together about how, oh, yes, well, Senator Cruz has such a record of passing things through the Senate.
O`DONNELL: Yes --
MADDOW: Everybody likes Ted Cruz, and they`ll like what he did. I mean, Ted Cruz did add the most substantive, latest language in terms of the way the policy was going to be shaped.
That appears to have precipitated it completely falling apart. The other part of it, though, that I`m watching is that, you know, these activist groups and these organizing groups, some of which are full of people who have never been activists before, these people all over the country who have been pressuring their senators on this stuff, they`re planning on still keeping up the pressure tomorrow and through the rest of this week.
I think tomorrow and Wednesday are probably going to be some of their biggest protest days yet. And so even though it looks dead, they`re going to not let up, and they`re going to keep doing what they`re doing to try to make sure that they have sort of killed it as dead as you can.
O`DONNELL: Well, they have to because they saw what happened in the House when it appeared to me to be dead in the House --
MADDOW: Yes --
O`DONNELL: And it came back to life. And so that remains possible here. So they`re absolutely going to have to stay on the case.
MADDOW: Yes, it will be interesting to see.
O`DONNELL: Rachel, it was exciting to watch the news break at 9:00 p.m., and we`re going to take over and do our best with it now.
MADDOW: Appreciate it, my friend. well done --
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
O`DONNELL: Well, as I said, it turns out one of the old rules of the Senate seems to still apply. That old rule that the longer it takes for the Senate to get to a vote on a controversial bill, the weaker the support becomes for the bill, and that`s why they always want to get to these votes before the recess.
That`s why it was so important to Mitch McConnell to get to this vote before the July 4th recess because he knew it could only get worse after that.
The constituents would have more and more opportunities to speak to their senators, and that is exactly what happened. And so tonight, the Republican health care bill is dead.
The current form of that bill is dead. Senator Mitch McConnell`s health care bill began the day hanging by a thread. One vote could have ended it.
And it was depending, as the day began entirely on a speedy recovery of Senator John McCain from surgery he had this weekend for a blood clot.
Senator McConnell had already lost two Republican votes, Senators Rand Paul and Susan Collins, and the loss of just one more Republican, just one, would doom the bill.
And so tonight, he didn`t lose just one. He lost two. Senator McConnell lost Kansas Senator Jerry Moran and Utah Senator Mike Lee. They both issued statements tonight at the same time.
Mike Lee said, "in addition to not repealing all of the Obamacare taxes, it doesn`t go far enough in lowering premiums for middle class families, nor does it create enough free space from the most costly Obamacare regulations."
And, yes, that statement is self-contradictory. What you`re going to see in all of the Republican -- almost all the Republican opposition to this bill is that the Republican senators opposing it lay out principles that are absolutely unmeetable by any form of this legislation.
Senator Moran criticized the closed-door process that produced the bill, and he said, "we should not put our stamp of approval on bad policy. Furthermore, if we leave the federal government in control of everyday health care decisions, it is more likely that our health care system will devolve into a single-payer system which would require a massive federal spending increase.
We must now start fresh with an open legislative process to develop innovative solutions that provide greater personal choice, protections for pre-existing conditions, increased access, and lower overall costs for Kansans."
Joining us now, Msnbc Washington correspondent Garrett Haake, who has been covering these developments. Garrett, how did these two senators make up their minds, and how did they coordinate to release these statements tonight?
GARRETT HAAKE, MSNBC WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lawrence, people close to the senators tell me they`ve been talking about health care for weeks and sharing some of their concerns about it.
Jerry Moran`s flight to Washington from Kansas actually got delayed today. He came back late just in time for the vote. But this has been an ongoing conversation between the two of them.
And I`ve been watching Jerry Moran really closely. I used to work in Kansas, so I`ve followed his career a little bit. And he`s someone who is sort of old school and takes the constituents` services part of this pretty seriously.
He was one of two -- excuse me, one of three senators to hold honest to goodness town halls over the July 4th recess. He was in western Kansas, places four and five hours from any major city, and he heard almost nothing but opposition to this bill.
And both on that recess and just over this weekend, I know he was talking to folks in the Kansas Hospital Association. He was staying really plugged in here, and while ideologically, he`s just as conservative as Mike Lee and some of these other senators.
And in sort of, you hear in that statement this idea of still wanting to repeal Obamacare, he knew full well from being back in Kansas that this particular bill was not popular with his constituents.
And as someone who just got reelected in 2016, he didn`t need to take some kind of brave vote here to keep the base happy, he could look at what his constituents were saying, and it appears that that`s why he decided to make this choice.
O`DONNELL: And Garrett, one more note about Kansas with your expertise about the state. Talk about the places where he was having those town hall meetings.
What`s the political profile of those locations? Is that the more conservative part of the state?
HAAKE: Absolutely, these are western Kansas, four and a half hours from Wichita, five hours from Kansas City, very red parts of the state.
These are places where President Trump won with 60 percent, 70 percent, 80 percent of the vote. But you have to remember Kansas conservative isn`t necessarily the same sort of firebrand type of conservatism.
You see in other places -- these people are conservative in the sense that if you`re a farmer you need to be conservative with your money because it may not rain as much next year.
So these are very old-school conservative people. They take education, and they take their rural hospitals very seriously. And all along, Moran was one of these people saying these rural hospitals, we need to watch this and protect them.
And that`s apparently why he made this choice tonight or part of why he made this choice tonight.
O`DONNELL: Garrett Haake joining us with his expertise about the Senate and Kansas just when we needed it. Garrett, thank you very much for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.
HAAKE: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: We`re joined now by Julie Rovner; chief Washington correspondent for "Kaiser Health News". David Frum; a senior editor for "The Atlantic" and Ron Klain; former chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden and Al Gore and a former senior aide to President Obama and a former Senate aide.
And Ron, I`m going straight to you on this. So tonight, Ron, it seems the United States Senate is working the way it normally used to work.
I think you and I both had a very strong sense of just how weak this bill was in the Senate, but this Trump world has been surprising us, and I wasn`t sure what rules were going to apply in the Senate this time around.
RON KLAIN, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO JOE BIDEN & AL GORE: Yes, Lawrence, you know, to quote President Trump, who knew health care could be so complicated?
You know, I think your point on this was spot-on, which is, there is the tendency in the Senate for the longer for these complicated things to drag on, the more the opposition comes out.
And as Garrett was just saying, these senators went home for July 4th, and those who heard from their constituents heard overwhelming opposition.
Not just from liberals or politically active people, but from lay people. You know, one of the people that Senator Moran heard from was his daughter`s pediatrician who came to a town hall to say how devastating this bill would be.
So I think when you hear from the citizens of your state, this bill will destroy the health care system, take from the people who need health care, give tax breaks to the rich, that was not doing well as time went on.
And the president`s strategy of golfing and tweeting was not going to turn that around.
O`DONNELL: And so the least popular health care bill in the history of health care legislation in the Senate is dead tonight. New "Washington Post" poll showed that which plan do you prefer?
Obamacare, 50 percent, the Republicans plan, 24 percent. And David Frum, in politics, when you look at numbers like that, it feels -- it would feel in the old days, which is to say prior to the era of Trump, it would feel easy to predict the demise of that plan.
And -- but here we are tonight. What does it mean for the Republican agenda in Congress?
DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: Look, when you say to the typical person in a poll like that, Obamacare, Trumpcare. Most people are not fully conversant with the details of the differences.
They hear two names, those are two brands. So what you`re measuring is the implosion of the president`s support, which is now contaminating the rest of the Republican Party.
His name is on this thing. And therefore, it is unpopular because only about a fifth of the country strongly supports President Trump.
And of course, he was absent. And this core logic of this bill was it took things away from millions of people. It stepped on all kinds important interest groups, it stepped on including some important Republican interest groups.
It did so in the name of broad national goals that the president never articulated, and had the president articulated them.
He`s not popular, and he`s not trusted, so his articulation wouldn`t have done any good anyway. So I think this is just a case, as you said at the beginning of gravity reasserting itself.
It was amazing that this thing got as far as it did in the face of all of the reasons for senators to panic.
O`DONNELL: Julie, I`ve noticed that every conservative -- every Republican in the Senate who opposes this saying it doesn`t go far enough in repealing Obamacare, then adds a bunch of conditions to the demand that require retention of many elements of Obamacare, and they don`t seem to know that.
And in that sense, I find that the arguments coming at it from the right side in the Senate are almost all self-contradictory.
JULIE ROVNER, KAISER HEALTH NEWS CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: It`s so ironic to see what they`ve been doing, and I`ve been saying for the last couple of weeks, particularly the conservatives have done a really good job diagnosing some of the problems with the Affordable Care Act.
Particularly, the people who earn too much money to get subsidies but who buy their own insurance, and they`re really getting hammered.
They`re paying way too much, and yet nothing in any of these bills would do almost anything to help those people. So, you know, they`re coming up with sort of the right problems.
They`re asking the right questions, and they`re not quite giving the right answers to them. I should also point out that, yes, while we`re sort of pronouncing this bill dead, it`s been pronounced dead several times before.
The health reporters who have been covering this keep calling it the zombie bill because it keeps dying and coming back to life.
O`DONNELL: But, Ron, I just want to just go with people with Senate experience. Let`s just put this marker down.
If this thing comes back, if it comes back to life somehow in the Senate, that will be something we`ve never seen before on a bill like this.
KLAIN: Yes, that`s right, Lawrence. I mean, it`s not just -- I agree with Julie. It`s died and come back before certainly in the House and in earlier versions.
But what`s different this time is these senators are now laying down very specific markers. You know, the premiums for middle class people need to be lower.
There needs to be pre-existing conditions. The things you`re hearing in the Lee and the Moran statements, the self-contradictory things are a series of petards that they`re going to get hoisted on if they let this thing come back.
So it has to come back, you know -- it`s like one of those rental car return places where the spikes go up and you can`t back out.
It has to come back over very difficult terrain if it`s going to come back at this point in time.
FRUM: All right, there`s another way to think about this zombie bills. You can say, it dies and it comes back, it dies and it comes back. Another way to say it is, it comes back and then it dies, it comes back and then it dies.
O`DONNELL: Yes, that`s another possibility. Let`s listen to what the president said about how he was patiently sitting in the White House with his bill-signing pen in hand.
And apparently, doing absolutely nothing else to help pass this bill. Let`s listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am sitting in the Oval Office with a pen in hand, waiting for our senators to give it to me.
For years, they`ve been talking about repeal and replace, repeal and replace. I think they passed it 61 times, repeal and replace.
But that didn`t mean anything because you had the minority, the Republicans -- they didn`t have the majority, so it wasn`t going to get to the president.
But if it ever did, Obama wasn`t going to sign it. So it didn`t mean -- now, we have a president that`s waiting to sign it. I have pen in hand.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Julie, the president tweeted that a few times saying he was waiting with the pen in hand, and apparently no one in the White House told him that no health care legislation has ever passed without a president working hard every minute to pass it.
ROVNER: Well, not only has the president not been working hard to pass this, he`s been actually hindering the process by changing what he wants.
Saying different things, sometimes within the same couple of sentences. You know, he celebrated the House bill`s passage, and then a couple of weeks later he said it was mean and the Senate should start over.
So not only has the president not been pushing this process, he`s actually been making it more difficult for the lawmakers who are trying to do it.
O`DONNELL: And Ron, on the matter of the possibility of this coming up again, one of the things Mitch McConnell is facing is the legislative calendar and the schedule of other things he needs to accomplish.
And every day you give to this, you`re -- on the Senate calendar, on the other end of it, you`re pushing things off of a cliff into oblivion that you won`t get to.
KLAIN: Yes, it`s absolutely right, Lawrence. And what`s more, what you`re hearing tonight from Lindsey Graham and in the statements from Moran and Lee is a call for process.
KLAIN: And process takes time. You know, you can imagine from -- you`re a former worker in the Senate Finance Committee, what it would be like to start from scratch at this point in time and start all over again.
So if really they are going to have an open process, you are talking about months, not days or weeks, before this thing is back on the floor.
FRUM: And this is where the total absence of presidential leadership bites. The thing that a more normal president would do or would have done months ago is to say, look, we`re not passing this gigantic bill. That`s just an illusion.
Let`s pick the one or two things about Obamacare that bug us most and I`ve written about what those would be. Fix those things, and then let`s go on to something where we can win.
And by -- and that means by the time we get to the fall of 2018, we have not left our supporters feeling like we`re losers who can`t do anything.
We`ve done something important for them, and at least moved the game a little bit on the health care issue, on the thing they most bothered -- that most bothered them.
O`DONNELL: Julie Rovner and Ron Klain, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
KLAIN: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, the president has a new excuse for his son and son- in-law meeting with a group of Russians at Trump Tower during the campaign.
And the defeat of the Republican health care bill of the Senate now means that the rest of the Trump agenda in Congress is also in deep trouble.
O`DONNELL: The president has just tweeted after the defeat of the Republican health care bill in the Senate -- the collapse I should say as senators defected from it.
"Republicans should just repeal failing Obamacare now and work on a new health care plan that will start from a clean slate. Dems will join in."
Joining us now, Neera Tanden; president of the Center for American Progress, and Ezra Levin; co-executive director of the Indivisible Project.
And Neera, you worked on the Affordable Care Act in the Obama administration. What do you make of the president`s new strategy announced three minutes ago that forget about trying to provide any sorts of guarantees of any kinds of health insurance in America.
Just repeal Obamacare completely, and then invite the Democrats to join you in an effort to put something else there.
NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Yes, I think this might be plan D, E, or F for Donald Trump.
And you know, I think the real problem for him is that he does not have a vision of health care for Americans. He can`t talk about this issue.
He can`t discuss it in detail. He`s been unable to persuade the American people or the Senate or House members on his legislation.
And so I think, you know, this kind of statement in which he`s -- after he`s attacked Democrats day-in-and-day-out, is just like another ludicrous explanation for what`s happened here.
For a defeat in which he could not get the members of his own party to support a bill because it is such a catastrophic disaster for people`s health care.
O`DONNELL: Ezra, you mobilized a tremendous amount of the opposition to this bill out there at town halls and elsewhere around the country.
What`s your reaction to the president`s new strategy? He`s no longer content with passing a bill that would take health care away from 23 million people.
He now wants to take it away from everyone who has benefited in any way under the Affordable Care Act, including taking the health insurance away from kids who are under age 26 who are on their parents` policies?
EZRA LEVIN, CO-EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, INDIVISIBLE PROJECT: Right, no, you know, I got to say when it comes to health care legislation, the president`s maliciousness is only outdone by his incompetence.
And that`s great for us. We`re happy for him to keep on failing and keep on failing to demonstrate leadership on this. It means the people win.
There`s a reason why support for his health care bill is so low, and it`s because people know it`s going to harm them.
People know it`s going to damage their health or cause them to go bankrupt, and that`s why you saw folks even out in Kansas in a really red state come out that (INAUDIBLE) Kansas, population, 277 and fill up the town hall with Senator Moran and tell him, hey, we don`t want this.
And you know what? When Republicans listen to their constituents, that`s what they do. They stand and they say, hey, we don`t want this either. And that`s what Moran did, and we`re proud to see it.
O`DONNELL: Neera, the first one to tweet tonight that they should just repeal Obamacare completely was Mark Meadows; the leader of the conservatives in the House.
And I think Meadows is smart enough to know that vote will never occur --
TANDEN: Yes --
O`DONNELL: That Susan Collins was afraid of how much damage you were doing by repealing some of Obamacare. She will absolutely oppose the repeal of all of it as will probably most senators although since it will probably never come to a vote in the Senate, they don`t have to turn over their cards about that.
But it seems to me the strategy of saying, let`s just repeal Obamacare outright is a completely fake strategy being announced by conservative Republicans to pretend that they are willing to deliver on their promise to do that.
TANDEN: You are absolutely right. This is exactly what Mark Meadows is doing. It`s exactly what Rand Paul is doing.
And frankly, it`s what Donald Trump is doing. They`re trying to explain to their base that they -- you know, if it were up to them, they would get the job done.
It`s just other forces that won`t let them -- let this happen. The reality is, I know it seems many months ago now, but their original strategy, you know, in January was to repeal the Affordable Care Act and pass a bill to have a replacement three years later.
Republicans opposed that because they didn`t want to have millions of people lose health insurance. It wasn`t just, you know, Susan Collins.
It was Corker and conservative senators from Arkansas, Cotton -- you know, senators from all across the country. Republicans said we can`t do that because we can`t just have millions of people lose health care.
So this is -- this won`t pass. It will never pass. It is just a way for Donald Trump and Republicans to blame the Congress, blame others for their own failure.
Republicans have the Congress. They have the House, they have the Senate. They cannot muster majority for a bill they claim to want to repeal for seven years.
So this is on them. This is a failure of leadership on them. They can say anything they want to their base. But the reality is what killed this bill -- I have to -- I just want to like take my hat off to Indivisible and all the groups and people who have mobilized.
It is the people of this country in every corner, in conservative districts, in liberal districts, in every corner of this country, people stood up and opposed this bill. They put their bodies in front of this train, and that is what has defeated this bill so far.
LEVIN: And let me --
O`DONNELL: We have -- we have a breaking news announcement here from Senator John McCain, who Mitch McConnell was relying on to be one of the people who would vote to repeal and replace Obamacare.
It looks like he was not ready to do that. But he is now saying "as this law continues to crumble in Arizona and states across the country, we must not repeat the original mistakes that led to Obamacare`s failure.
The Congress must now return to regular order, hold hearings, receive input from members of both parties, and heed the recommendation of our nation`s governors so that we can produce a bill that finally provides Americans with access to quality and affordable care."
And Ezra, I would submit to you that that is as unrealistic a proposal from Senator McCain, and he knows it, as the Trump proposal to simply vote to repeal it.
And I mean, Senator McCain`s proposal is a good and solid proposal, but it`s not one that the Republican Senate will take up.
LEVIN: So you bring up a great point, which is as incompetent as Donald Trump is, when it comes to legislative strategy, his agenda doesn`t depend on Donald Trump.
It depends on this Congress, and Mitch McConnell has chosen to try to get this bill through in the most secretive way possible, as quickly as possible, without public attention.
So while this bill is dead right now, I think we should all take a moment, celebrate, have a drink tonight. But tomorrow, you need to come out and push farther and faster against this bill than you ever have before.
There are 161 Indivisible events across the country for a national day of action tomorrow. Folks like Atcap(ph) and folks at National Adapt(ph) and Ultraviolet and move on, they`re doing this too.
We all need to come out and make sure that this bill that`s dead now, it stays dead.
O`DONNELL: And Neera --
TANDEN: Lawrence --
O`DONNELL: This seems like --
TANDEN: Yes --
O`DONNELL: The moment to try to get these kinds of statements for Ezra and his activists to try to get these kinds of statements that we got from McCain out of their senators.
Do you believe we should have hearings? Get promises like that from them because that`s actually the procedural way to continue to tie up the Republicans.
And it`s fascinating to see how brave and specific and clear Senator McCain is ten minutes after the bill dies.
TANDEN: Look, I expect tomorrow -- I mean, I`m just going to have a prediction. But I think a few more senators will actually come out tomorrow against this bill.
I do not think this is it. But let me say this. There is a path forward. I think everyone who is speaking tomorrow, everyone who is talking about this, what we`re all for is actually a bipartisan process.
Mitch McConnell is right. The other path forward is a bipartisan process that helps address some of the issues in the ACA, strengthens coverage, makes it more affordable and brings more people in.
I think that is a path forward, and that`s what we`ve all been asking for, Democrats, independents, many Republicans, we can get that if the Republicans give up on this partisan attempt to just jam out their bill through.
O`DONNELL: Neera Tanden and Ezra Levin, thank you both for joining us tonight, I really appreciate it.
LEVIN: Thanks for having me.
TANDEN: Great to be with you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, this weekend produced new excuses for Donald Trump Jr. and Jared Kushner`s meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer and many other people.
The cast keeps growing in that room. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: The President continues to insist that most politicians are criminals, including himself and his politically active son. This morning the President Tweeted, most politicians would have gone to a meeting like the one don junior attended in order to get info on an opponent. That`s politics, exclamation point. And that is a lie, exclamation point.
That is not politics. That is a crime. Donald Trump Jr. and the Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and the President`s son-in-law Jared Kushner were actively soliciting information on their campaign opponent from the Russian government. They believed that they were getting Russian government information, and that is against the law. There is now no doubt that most people named Trump would have had that illegal meeting.
That`s for sure. Donald Trump is the first President of the United States to publicly support violating federal laws governing campaigns, and this would be the most startling moment in any presidency if we were talking about any President other than Donald Trump. He wakes up this morning and decides to Tweet his support for committing a federal crime. And it is taken as just another day in America.
Every minute that Donald Trump and his family have been in politics, they have been degrading our politics. They are, in that sense, policies aside, the worst thing that has ever happened to American politics. The Wall Street Journal is reporting tonight that a new subpoena has been issued in the investigation of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
The subpoena from the district attorney`s office in Manhattan is directed as a small Chicago Bank run by a member of the President`s economic advisory panel. The subpoena is seeking information on some loans of up to $16 million that that Trump-friendly bank gave to Paul Manafort in November, the month of the election and then in January, the month of the inauguration. According to the journal, the bank`s loans to Mr. Manafort equaled almost 24 percent of the bank`s reported $67 million of equity capital. And so a bank loans one-fourth of itself to Paul Manafort. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: We`re joined now by Mieke Eoyang, a former House Intelligence Committee Staff member and Vice President for the National Security Program at the Third Way. David Frum is back with us. Mieke, this Wall Street Journal story breaking tonight is fascinating because here we have a completely different legal jurisdiction here. the District Attorney in Manhattan, Cyrus Vance Jr. investigating Paul Manafort about a very, very sweet series of loans where he ends up taking one-fourth of a bank`s assets in loans. Kind of an inconceivable mathematics there and this is all -- how does this Special Prosecutor react to information like that?
MIEKE EOYANG, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: So if you`re talking about Special Prosecutor Mueller looking at this case in New York, I think there are serious questions of public corruption here. Remember, the idea of selling positions, like the Secretary of the Army for some kind of financial gain would be illegal. That`s the kind of thing former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich went to jail for having a position and suggesting someone could make you an offer for it.
O`DONNELL: And that`s the bank executive involved who actually did end up, apparently, with a Trump job. David Frum, it also points out the levels of incentives for cooperation with prosecutors that are going to come up with people like Paul Manafort, who seems to be entangled in more than one investigation.
DAVID FRUM, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Notice that Manafort has been far and away the most disciplined of the people in the trump orbit about what he says and what he has done since the election. Everybody else is yammering all the time or getting into some other kind of trouble. Manafort has laid very low but has not gone away. He`s one of the most vulnerable points in the whole Trump armature.
Let`s also remember that there`s another person who deeply owes Paul Manafort and that is the Vice President. He would not be vice president but for Paul Manafort. And if things get really sticky, Paul Manafort may discover he`s got a really good and important friend
O`DONNELL: Mieke, Paul Manafort`s silence is the kind of thing this makes everyone else subject to this investigation very nervous. They know Mike Flynn has been out there basically soliciting an immunity deal. but Paul Manafort could be someone in that position too.
EOYANG: That`s right. And the question was which rooms was he in and what was said in those rooms, right? He was in this meeting with Donald Trump Jr. We don`t know what was said by the Russian lawyer or this hacker for hire.
So Manafort has a lot of things he could offer up to the Special Prosecutor if he were to try to get an immunity deal. But he also has significant culpability which might suggest you don`t want to give him any kind of deal because he might need to go down for some of the things people think he might have done.
O`DONNELL: Mieke Eoyang and David Frum thank you both for joining us tonight.
FRUM: Thank you.
EOYANG: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, scenes from Trump world in Joshua Green`s stunning new book, including scenes with Donald Trump and Paul Manafort that are just -- okay. In one of them, in one of them, Donald Trump asks Paul Manafort if he thinks Trump is a baby. You`re going to get that word for word out of this book coming up.
O`DONNELL: Bannon is back. Steve Bannon fell out of favor with the President when Time Magazine put Bannon on the cover as the great manipulator of Donald Trump. And equally important to the President of the United States, of course, was the portrayal of Bannon on Saturday Night Live.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR: Send in Steve Bannon.
MIKEY DAY, ACTOR: can I have my desk back?
BALDWIN: Yes, of course, Mr. President. I`ll go sit at my desk, yeah.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: After that, Steve Bannon was actually worried that Jared Kushner was going to get him pushed out of the white house. But as Jared Kushner has fallen into deeper and deeper trouble, Steve Bannon`s position in the Whitehouse seems as strong as ever. On the Whitehouse power seesaw, what is bad for Jared Kushner is good for Steve Bannon.
You can`t fire the FBI. That is what Steve Bannon told the President when Jared Kushner was urging Trump to fire FBI Director James Comey. Jared Kushner predicted that Democrats wouldn`t criticize the decision to fire Comey because they had criticized Comey themselves over his handling of the investigation of Hillary Clinton`s e-mails. Bannon predicted trouble if Trump fired Comey, and Bannon was proven right. and now the Whitehouse war room set up to defend the president on the Russia investigation, which is the single most important function in today`s Trump Whitehouse, is being run by Steve Bannon.
If you`re wondering who in Trump world has an incentive to stab who in the back in the Russia investigation, consider the scene of Jared Kushner firing Paul Manafort as reported in Joshua Green`s new book Devil`s Bargain. Kushner, now back from vacationing in Croatia, delivered the news as a Friday morning breakfast as diplomatically as he could. We`ve really got a problem here, Paul, Kushner told him. You`re going to have to step down. But Manafort objected, well, I don`t want to do that because it will look like I`m guilty, he said. Kushner pressed harder. It would be helpful if you stepped down.
Yes, Manafort replied, but I can`t do that. At this, Kushner`s demeanor hardened, and he glanced at his watch. We`re putting out a press release at 9:00 a.m. that says you`ve resigned, he said. That`s in 30 seconds. Joining us now, Bloomberg Business Week correspondent Joshua Green, the author of the new book Devil`s Bargain, Steve Bannon, Donald Trump and the storming of the Presidency. Josh, when I read that in this stunning book where you have amazing access to these people -- I can`t believe the stories you have in here -- I just thought, OK. So Manafort has all the incentive you could ever imagine for turning on Jared Kushner in this investigation.
JOSHUA GREEN, AUTHOR: Well, he does. There`s a pretty ugly scene in the book but Manafort had a lot of problems. What prompted this firing was the bombshell story a couple days earlier that Manafort was supposedly the recipient of about $13 million in cash from a pro-Russia Ukrainian political party which caused absolute chaos inside the Trump campaign. Trump was furious that he was having to bear the brunt of the negative headlines and decided that Manafort had to go. Kushner was the guy who carried who carried it out.
O`DONNELL: The story tonight in the Wall Street Journal Manafort gets a little Chicago bank to loan him 1 fourth of the bank itself in effect. And it`s a Trump friendly bank. This is after he has been fired.
It`s after the horrible scenes in here in your book. where he is really having a rough time in the campaign. How did he hold on to a position in trump world where he gets that kind of favorable treatment on the loans.
GREEN: Well I think he came in at a time when Trump was worried about having the nomination stolen from him. If there is one thing we know Paul Manafort is good at running a convention, running a delegate operation. He did that for Trump. But Trump never had the faith in him that he did in other campaign manager including Cory Lewandowski. Manafort was never a guy who clicked with him. He tried to smooth over Trump rough edges and Trump just bridled it every stage. And bureaus the time it got to the point when Manafor was bringing bad headlines for candidate Trump decided he had to go.
O`DONNELL: So here is the passage in which the President has to explain that he is not a baby. I`m reading straight from the book. And by the way this is pretty much what I`m about to read as you pretty much every other page of this book. There`s a stunning back stage scene on every other page. Trump who had been stewing over the Time`s article exploded at Manafort.
how can anybody allow -- this is Trump talking how can anybody allow of an article that says your campaign is all F`ed up Trump demanded to know furious at had the portrayal the aides were going on television in an effort to reach him. we all remember that. You think you`ve got to go on TV to talk to me he shouted.
You treat me like a baby am I like a baby to you. I sit there like a little baby and watch TV and you talk to me. Am I an f`ing baby, Paul? The room fell silent in Josh Green`s account of that scene. So Paul never told Donald whether he thinks he is a baby or not he never answered the question.
GREEN: Nobody that I could talk to would fess up if he did. I don`t think he talked back to Donald Trump in a situation like this. But this was an intimate meeting at the Bedminster Country Club on a weekend, Giuliani, Christy , all the big shots there. Trump as was ready to unload on his advisers throughout the campaigns, very upset about the idea that as he put it he was being treated like a baby. And he wanted to let off steam.
O`DONNELL: All right, we`re going to take a quick break here. When we come back I want to get your perspective on what`s going on in the Whitehouse right now in reaction to this health care defeat tonight. We`ll be right back with Josh Green.
O`DONNELL: We have more breaking news at this hour about the collapse of the Republican Health Care Bill in the Senate. Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell issued this statement. Regretfully it is now apparent the effort to repeal and immediately replace the Obamacare is not successful.
So in the coming days the Senate will vote to take up the House Bill with the first amendment in order being what a majority of the Senate has already supported in 2015, and that was vetoed by then President Obama, a repeal of Obamacare with a two-year delay to provide for a stable transition period to a patient centered health care system that gives Americans access to quality affordable care. Do not be misled by the language in there where any say they are going to take a vote on the house bill.
That is simply a bookkeeping process in the Senate where they take this new version of the bill that McConnell is going to write and simply stick it on top of the house bill. It will completely eliminate the house bill underneath. And that bill will be a bill to completely, completely repeal the Affordable Care Act and delay that repeal for two years.
And in that period of time Mitch McConnell believes the Senate will then go to work on replacement legislation. Josh Green is back with us. and Josh our discussion of your book, which is very much about Steve Bannon entitled the Devil`s Bargain which we`re come back has become a breaking news segment about healthcare and the President has twitted tonight let`s just repeal the whole thing. let`s just repeal it. That would be the Bannon position I`m gathering based on what I`ve read in your book.
GREEN: I think it would be. But I think we`ve got to be realistic here what we are witnessing font is the Republican Health Care death spiral. They are not going to arbitrarily just repeal people`s health care. The CBO score would be murderous.
32 million people would loose their healthcare. Remember this is what Republicans wanted to do at the outset. They wanted to quickly repeal and replace it a couple years later maybe after the 2018 midterm elections. That didn`t fly then and it`s not going to fly now with all the activism we`ve seen rising up.
All the cold feet we`ve seen from about ten Republican Senators. This may be a way for Mitch McConnell to try to save face but it`s not going to pass the Senate.
O`DONNELL: Well he`s also probably not even going to win the vote to proceed to this when he tries to do it. But what I`m reading in this is Mitch McConnell saying I`m- I`m not going to be blamed for the defeat. I am going to be to be perceived as the guy who fought until the last minute to try to get this done. What this maneuver also allows him is a date certain at which he can stop trying to do this.
GREEN: Exactly, well two points here one in has turned into a game of hot potato. Nobody wants to be the guy holding the ball. Number two Republicans need to decide what hill they want to die on. And they would rather die upon a Conservative Hill pushing the bill in that direction than they would going moderate and having to face the wrath of primary electorate back at home.
O`DONNELL: Yes, John McCain saying hey stop all this. Let`s go into hearings. Let`s get to work with the Democrats starting tomorrow. That would be a complete wipeout politically for McConnell
GREEN: I think it would be. It`s hard to see how that happens. But at the same time what that really is I think is a signal they hey your plan ain`t happen, It`s time to turn the page.
O`DONNELL: Josh Green`s gets the last word. The book is Devil`s Bargain. It is about a stunning inside account of the world of Steve Bannon. And this book makes the case that without Steve Bannon there would be no Trump victory on election night,.
GREEN: Trump won`t like the thesis but that is indeed the thesis.
O`DONNELL: But it`s a compelling case. That`s it`s for tonight`s Last Word. The 11th hour with Brian Williams start now.