Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: July 19, 2017 Guest: Lawrence Wechsler, Barney Frank
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: Where does the time go? That does it for us tonight, we will see you again tomorrow, now it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good evening, Lawrence.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: It`s been a really -- a night of really stunning news, but the sad news about Senator John McCain`s predicament with cancer, that`s very tough news to be reporting on tonight.
MADDOW: Yes --
O`DONNELL: And we`re getting statements from presidents and politicians everywhere about this. And great cheering on for John McCain tonight when he really needs it.
MADDOW: Yes, and you know Senator McCain is unlike anybody else in not -- not just in the Senate but in American politics.
He`s unlike anybody else in American life in his -- in his -- in his public life and in his heroics in war. And they`re just -- he`s a singular figure in American life and American history, and I think for everybody who has ever had a political difference with him tonight, that just instantly evaporates in the face of wanting the best for him.
O`DONNELL: And it`s -- he`s -- it`s hard to think of him without thinking about what a ball of energy he is.
MADDOW: Yes --
O`DONNELL: I mean, I remember when I was working in the Senate, he just, you know, enters every room and went down every hallway at the highest speed possible and just, you know, was always that way.
And I think people saw that when he was running for president, that that`s the way he handled everything. It`s just this constant never let up attitude.
MADDOW: Yes, and -- you know, the whole straight talk thing, which he kind of turned into a slogan at one point in one of his presidential campaigns, you know, that -- what that is, is a symptom of somebody who has no time for messing around --
O`DONNELL: Yes --
MADDOW: Because he`s trying to get stuff done constantly.
O`DONNELL: Yes --
MADDOW: And so, you know, he has been through cancer. He`s fought a very deadly form of skin cancer that, pursuant to his captivity as a prisoner of war, he has been through incredible challenges in his life.
He`s 80 years old, but everybody who knows him says he`s strong as an ox. And obviously, he knows how to fight like hell. And so really it`s a unifying thing tonight, everybody pulling for him.
O`DONNELL: And his mother is still with us, she`s --
MADDOW: Yes --
O`DONNELL: Hundred and five years old. So life expectancy is unlimited in the McCain family.
MADDOW: Absolutely --
O`DONNELL: In fact --
MADDOW: A 100 percent, man, well done --
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Well, the president of the United States attacked the Attorney General of the United States in an interview which the "New York Times" published tonight.
This is something we have never seen before. This leaves the Attorney General no choice. He must resign. Attorney General Jeff Sessions gave the "New York Times" no comment, absolutely no comment when he was told what the president said about him and the "New York Times" asked for comment about that.
The president told the "New York Times" that he regrets appointing Jeff Sessions. And when a president expresses no confidence in a cabinet member, then that cabinet member owes the president his resignation.
When the president does it publicly, which is something we just have never seen before, then that cabinet matter really has no choice from that minute forward, absolutely no choice.
Here is some of the "New York Times`" audio recording of what the president said.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Sessions gets the job, right after he gets the job, he recuses himself.
Was that a mistake? Well, Sessions should have never recused himself. And if he was going to recuse himself, he should have told me before he took the job, and I would have picked somebody else.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) --
TRUMP: Zero. So Jeff Sessions takes the job, gets into the job, recuses himself. I then have -- which frankly I think is very unfair to the president.
How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, thanks, Jeff, but you know, I`m not going to pick you.
It`s extremely unfair, and that`s a mild word, to the president. So he recuses himself.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That`s it. That is amazing. And it is amazing that Jeff Sessions is still in the job. Any self-respecting Attorney General of the United States would have publicly resigned as soon as the president`s words became public earlier this evening.
It is now clear that Jeff Sessions is going to be a witness against the president of the United States. And that`s -- and that -- it`s also clear that the president`s defense to special prosecutor Mueller is going to be, "I don`t remember".
Those will be his words. The "New York Times" interview shows that the president believes he can get through the special prosecutor`s investigation of obstruction of justice with the simple words "I don`t remember".
In his interview with the "New York Times", the president disagreed sharply, contradicted former FBI director James Comey`s description of a February 14th meeting in the Oval Office in which the president kicked everyone out of the room so that he could speak alone to James Comey.
In James Comey`s now public, under-oath account of that meeting and in his notes, James Comey said that the president asked everyone to leave the room, including Jared Kushner, including Vice President Mike Pence, and including Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
To the "New York Times", the president says he doesn`t remember kicking anyone out of the room. Quote, "I don`t remember even talking to him about any of this stuff, Mr. Trump said of Mr. Comey.
He said, `I asked people to go.` Look, you look at his testimony, his testimony is loaded up with lies, OK?"
So Jared Kushner and the Vice President and everyone else who was in the room is going to be asked under oath who is telling the truth.
James Comey or Donald Trump? Attorney General Jeff Sessions is going to be asked under oath by the special prosecutor, did President Trump order everyone out of the room?
Did he order you out of the room? What do you think Jeff Sessions is going to say under oath in answer to that question, which is a key obstruction of justice question because the obstruction of justice case against the president is very much about that meeting, very much about what was his incentive for kicking everyone out of that room, to have a private conversation with the FBI director.
Did he intend to obstruct justice in that conversation and not want any witnesses? Jeff Sessions is going to be asked, did the president kick you out of the room?
Do you think Jeff Sessions is going to simply say he agrees with Donald Trump and just doesn`t remember? Or do you think he`s just going to say, yes, yes, the president kicked us out of the room.
Do you think Jeff Sessions is going to agree with former FBI director`s under-oath testimony? James Comey`s under-oath testimony that he`s already given?
Do you think Jeff Sessions is going to agree or try to contradict James Comey`s written notes about that meeting? Do you think he`s going to try to help the president?
You think Jeff Sessions is going to try to help the president and say, "I don`t remember"? Is Mike Pence going to say, "I don`t remember"?
Is Jared Kushner going to say, "I don`t remember"? Attorney General Jeff Sessions` desire, if he ever had it, to be helpful to the president in his testimony to the special prosecutor Robert Mueller cannot be as strong tonight as it might have been last night.
Jeff Sessions has been publicly attacked by the president. And in the middle of that attack, the president told all of his teammates who were in the Oval Office that day how he is going to testify when Robert Mueller asks him under oath if he kicked all of them out of the room when he asked to speak with James Comey alone.
He`s going to testify "I don`t remember", and he`s giving all of the other witnesses in the case, all of the witnesses on his team who were in the Oval Office that day, the signal right now, tonight, of how he wants them to handle that question.
The president is making it publicly clear that on that question, the Trump position is "I don`t remember", and on that question it`s going to be Donald Trump`s credibility versus James Comey`s credibility.
And everyone in that room is going to have to choose a side. And there is no reason tonight, none, for Jeff Sessions to do any favors for Donald Trump in his testimony.
Jeff Sessions may have always simply planned to tell the truth about that moment in the Oval Office, in which case nothing might have changed for him tonight about his crucial testimony about that moment when James Comey says Jeff Sessions and everyone else was kicked out of the Oval Office.
But how can Jeff Sessions go back to work tomorrow? How can he do that? How can he walk into the Justice Department? How can Jeff Sessions attend the next cabinet meeting as the only member of the cabinet who the president has publicly attacked and said he wished he didn`t nominate him?
He wished he wasn`t the attorney general. The president has the most incompetent cabinet in history, and he`s unhappy with only one of them.
Only Jeff Sessions. When the "New York Times" asked the president today if Robert Mueller`s investigation would cross a red line if it expands to look at the Trump family`s finances, Mr. Trump said "I would say yes, I think that`s a violation."
Look, this is about Russia. After that interview was published tonight, the "New York Times" published another story about how the Trump family finances are already being investigated.
"Banking regulators are reviewing hundreds of millions of dollars in loans made to Mr. Trump`s businesses through Deutsche Bank`s Private Wealth Management Unit which caters to an ultra rich clientele according to three people briefed on the review who were not authorized to speak publicly.
The bank is expecting to eventually have to provide information to Robert Mueller, the special counsel overseeing the federal investigation into the Trump campaign`s ties to Russia.
Deutsche Bank has also lent money to Jared Kushner; the president`s son-in- law and senior adviser and to his family real estate business although Deutsche Bank recently landed in legal trouble for laundering money for Russian entities, paying more than $600 million in penalties to New York and British regulators.
There is no indication of a Russian connection to Mr. Trump`s loans or accounts at Deutsche Bank, people briefed on the matter said."
Joining us now, John Heilemann; national affairs analyst for Nbc News and Msnbc. Mieke Eoyang, a lawyer and former staff member of the House Intelligence Committee and Jill Wine-Banks; a former assistant Watergate special prosecutor and an Msnbc contributor.
And Jill, I want to start with you on this issue of Jeff Sessions. I don`t see any way he can continue in that job. And I`d also like your reading of the president basically publicly giving his testimony about his memory of what happened in the Oval Office that day, in his -- and his memory -- his testimony is going to be "I don`t remember".
JILL WINE-BANKS, LAWYER: I think I`d like to start with that one because I`d like to point out to President Trump that Richard Nixon advised people to say "I can`t remember", "I can`t recall".
That was exactly how he told them to testify, and that`s perjury. If you remember something, and you say "I don`t remember", "I don`t recall", that`s a violation of the law.
And I`d say that`s where we`re heading with all people testifying, and I`d also point out, of course, that Mr. Sessions also said "I don`t remember" to a lot of things.
But he did remember that he had to leave the room before the Comey conversation with the president. And he remembered that Comey came to him the next day to say, "don`t ever leave me in the room alone."
O`DONNELL: Yes, it`s such an important point. So many people, so many amateurs like Donald Trump believe that "I don`t recall" is an absolutely fail-safe position and you can`t get caught in perjury.
But thank you for that reminder of the Nixon example. I want to listen to something Al Franken said about Jeff Sessions` confirmation hearing testimony and he`s forgotten his meeting with Russians in his confirmation testimony.
Let`s listen to what Al Franken said on this program about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: There`s no other conclusion that you can come to other than that he was lying and was committing perjury.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And now let`s listen to what Donald Trump said to the "New York Times" about that very same thing. Donald Trump said, "Jeff Sessions gave some bad answers.
He gave some answers that were simple questions and should have been simple answers, but they weren`t."
John Heilemann, there`s the president of the United States coming as close to agreeing with Al Franken about his own Attorney General`s confirmation hearing testimony as you could imagine.
JOHN HEILEMANN, NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST, NBC NEWS: Yes, and I think, Lawrence, that the other thing about which he probably now agrees with Senator Franken is that I think he now thinks it`s time for Jeff Sessions to resign.
You`ve made the case for why the Attorney General needs to resign if he`s going to maintain his self-respect and his position within the government, his independence and his stature.
It feels to me like right now you`ll recall earlier, a few months ago, there was a reporting that suggested that when Trump first voiced his exasperation with Sessions, that Sessions made it clear to Trump that if Trump wanted his resignation, he would offer it.
And the reporting then followed that Trump said, no, I don`t want your resignation. It seems to me now Trump is sending a pretty clear signal that what he wants is Jeff Sessions to resign, and it`s also pretty clear to me he`s now at war with everyone in the world of justice and law enforcement in the administration.
He`s now at war with Jeff Sessions. He`s now at war with James Comey. He`s at war with Andrew McCabe, and he`s at war with Robert Mueller.
He`s attacked all of those people in this extraordinary interview tonight, and I`ll just remind people that the last time Donald Trump went to war with an establishment, that was the intelligence establishment, he started that back in December, that did not work out for him well.
I don`t think this is going to work out for him well either.
O`DONNELL: Preet Bharara, who was the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, who was fired by Donald Trump early in the administration, tweeted tonight, "the president today effectively asked Sessions for his resignation.
Will he resign or insist on being fired?" Mieke, what should Jeff Sessions do now?
MIEKE EOYANG, LAWYER: I think that Jeff Sessions needs to have a conversation with the president, and the way that the president has handled this is terrible leadership.
To go give an interview to the "New York Times" that you don`t have confidence in your Attorney General rather than having that conversation man-to-man, what kind of a leader does that? It`s really stunning.
O`DONNELL: And to the point of -- that Preet Bharara is making, Jill, this was as close as the president could have publicly come to saying, you know, I want him to quit.
WINE-BANKS: It certainly was, and it`s starting to sound again like the Saturday night massacre. And it was never clear whether the attorney general resigned in protest or was fired, and similarly the deputy attorney general.
Both of them think they were fired, both of them think they resigned. Either way it doesn`t matter. He sent a clear message, and in any event, let`s remember that he could not have told him he was going to recuse himself because he wasn`t caught in his lie until after he had been confirmed and appointed.
He lied to the Senate about his Russian dealings, and that`s why he apparently had to recuse himself. So he couldn`t have even done a notice to the president before.
So the president is just misunderstanding that and misunderstanding the job of the attorney general, which goes far beyond just the Russia investigation.
O`DONNELL: And, John, the president doesn`t seem to have noticed that when he tries to make changes like this, the situation always gets worse.
He goes from James Comey to Robert Mueller. Who does he think he`s going to get as the next attorney general confirmed by the United States Senate?
HEILEMANN: I don`t have the first idea, Lawrence. I really do not have any clue. It`s hard -- look, I mean, he found someone to become the new FBI director.
There are clearly going to be attorneys in the country who, out of patriotism or out of some sense, a personal advancement, that if Donald Trump comes to them and taps them for the job of attorney general, someone will take the job.
But I don`t know who Trump has in mind given that the circle of loyalists around him, the circle of people that he genuinely trusts is very small and getting smaller all the time.
So I imagine there`s a world in which he thinks that there is someone who he could put in who would be friendly to him. That is certainly what the suggestion was when he thought he was getting in Jeff Sessions.
But again, I can`t imagine who that person is. Someone who is credible and who also would satisfy Trump`s sense that they would be a friendly ally to him at the head of the Department of Justice.
O`DONNELL: Senator Richard Blumenthal is saying tonight, "threatening the Mueller investigation is more evidence of obstruction of justice.
A criminal case unfolding in real time before our eyes." Mieke, to the substance of what the president said, he said "if Jeff Sessions told me ahead of time that he would have recused himself on this, then I would not have appointed him." How do you read that?
EOYANG: Well, I read that -- how I read that is that the president prefers personal loyalty to following the rules. Remember, Jeff Sessions recused himself in following Department of Justice guidance because of the chief law enforcement officer of the country.
He has a higher responsibility to the constitution. Trump wants a loyalist in there, and you have to wonder whether or not he could get someone who is loyal enough to him past the United States Senate after he fires someone like Jeff Sessions for not being loyal enough in this investigation, which senators want to continue as impartial.
O`DONNELL: Yes, it`s very clear that Jeff Sessions recusing himself was the right thing to do. And so what Donald Trump doesn`t understand tonight is that what he has in effect said is if Jeff Sessions told me he was going to do the right thing, then I would know he`s not the attorney general for me.
I mean, that is essentially what he said --
EOYANG: Exactly --
O`DONNELL: We`re going to have to take a quick break here. Mieke Eoyang and Jill Wine-Banks, thank you for joining us tonight, John Heilemann, I`m going to need you on another segment.
Coming up, what do President Trump`s threats to the Mueller investigation mean? And later, the health care bill is finished. It`s over, but no one wants to tell the president. Barney Frank will join us on that later.
O`DONNELL: In tonight`s "New York Times" interview, President Trump said this about special prosecutor Robert Mueller. Mr. Trump said, "Mr. Mueller was running an office rife with conflicts of interest and warned investigators against delving into matters too far afield from Russia.
Mr. Trump never said he would order the Justice Department to fire Mr. Mueller nor would he outline circumstances under which he might do so.
But he left open the possibility as he expressed deep grievance over an investigation that has taken a political toll in the six months since he took office."
Joining us now, E.J. Dionne; opinion writer for the "Washington Post" and an Msnbc political analyst, and John Heilemann who is back with us.
E.J., the president seemed to indicate that if Robert Mueller started investigating Trump family businesses, that that would be over the line for him.
He did say that maybe he has sold some condominiums to Russians, and maybe it would be OK to look at some of those transactions, but nothing else.
But overall, what is your interpretation of this stunning "New York Times" interview?
EUGENE JOSEPH DIONNE, OPINION WRITER, WASHINGTON POST: Well, if you`re telling Robert Mueller that he can`t look at family finances connected to Russia in a serious way, you`re telling him he can`t carry out this investigation.
This isn`t some speculative matter. Now famously Donald Trump Jr. told a New York real estate conference back in 2008 that Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross section of a lot of our assets, and he also said we see a lot of Russian money pouring in.
If you`re Mr. Mueller, you`ve got to look at whether any financial links between Trump and the Trump organization and the Russians led to a relationship that made Putin want to intervene on his behalf.
And if Mueller has to walk away from that or face some kind of action from Trump, then Trump is saying, I don`t want to be investigated.
O`DONNELL: John, the possibility next week of this thing becoming very public includes something we won`t really be able to see, Jared Kushner --
HEILEMANN: Right --
O`DONNELL: Testifying to the Senate Intelligence Committee staff behind --
HEILEMANN: Yes --
O`DONNELL: Closed doors, but the cameras of course will follow him in and out of the building where he won`t say a word publicly, I`m sure.
O`DONNELL: And then Wednesday, Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort being invited to a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, no word yet on whether they will show up for that.
HEILEMANN: Yes, I mean, look, the trajectory of this story, Lawrence, as you know has been breathtaking, and that the velocity at which it`s moved.
And I think right now if you think about this interview that Trump has given and some of the stuff we discussed in the first segment about what his game is here, is he trying to force Sessions or invite Sessions in a very strong way to resign?
We could have an action-packed week this week on this story. And then next week obviously, for the reasons you just said, things are going to start to come to a head pretty quickly.
Adam Schiff was on Rachel`s show earlier talking about how the House Intelligence Committee is now really gearing up and is going to start going after some of these folks to get them on that side of Capitol Hill.
We are -- you know, the time that it took for Watergate to unfold, just the way in which the world works now, this entire thing, the trajectory of it just seems like it`s going to happen in about a nine-month window rather than an 18-month window.
And that means right now we`re going to start to get to the very heart of this thing pretty quick. I don`t know where we`re going to land, but, boy, things are happening real fast right now.
O`DONNELL: And E.J., here`s the president tonight basically inviting the spectacle and what is for the administration the unnecessary spectacle of another confirmation hearing for --
HEILEMANN: Right --
O`DONNELL: Attorney General where this nominee will be grilled like we`ve never seen before, basically to certify his defiance of the president who is nominating him.
DIONNE: No, I think that`s absolutely right. For Sessions, either firing Sessions or forcing him out will not go down well with Republican senators.
Second, what Trump is saying in that interview is that he wanted a supine attorney general.
Excuse me, he wanted an attorney general who would protect him and not recuse himself. And so Republicans may let the FBI choice go through.
He acquitted himself pretty well at that hearing. But this time around, Trump is basically on the record saying, I don`t really want an independent attorney general.
And I think Republicans haven`t put up much resistance before, but I think they will have to be tougher on whoever Trump chooses if this comes to pass.
O`DONNELL: I just want to take a moment before each of you go to turn to John McCain and the difficult news --
HEILEMANN: Yes --
O`DONNELL: That he and his family have received tonight about brain cancer that Senator McCain is now dealing with. And John Heileman, I know you`ve covered John McCain very closely, especially in the 2008 campaign and described vividly in your book, "Game Change", played brilliantly by Ed Harris in the "HBO" movie of your book.
HEILEMANN: Yes --
O`DONNELL: Your reflections tonight on the John McCain who you know.
HEILEMANN: Look, he is -- Lawrence, I think you know, you can do your lapse into clich‚ pretty quickly. But he is obviously an American hero.
He is a vanishing breed. He is an iconoclast, he is in his own mind and often in reality a maverick. And I think, you know, you having spent the time that you spent in the Senate know that this is true.
There are very diminishingly few United States senators who you would like always want to have dinner with. It used to be in the Senate there were an awful lot of them.
There are very few of them today that you would just be dying to go out and have dinner with. John McCain is someone I`d have dinner with seven nights a week. And always interesting, always of independent -- a spirit of independent judgment. God, I hope he gets well.
O`DONNELL: To that point, John, I think about people working in the Senate today and especially the young people working in the Senate today who will do two or three years, some of them less.
But it will be the memory of their lives. And one of the things they talk about forever is who was -- who was serving in the Senate when they worked there.
HEILEMANN: Right --
O`DONNELL: Every one of them, everyone of them --
DIONNE: Lawrence --
O`DONNELL: Is going to say John McCain at the top of their list --
HEILEMANN: Right --
O`DONNELL: E.J., go ahead.
DIONNE: Lawrence, you had it exactly right at the beginning of the show when you talked about this man having the energy of a 25-year-old and the enthusiasm of a 25-year-old.
And President Obama sent out a great tweet tonight where he said, "cancer doesn`t know what it`s up against", and I hope that`s right.
O`DONNELL: John Heilemann and E.J. Dionne, thank you both for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.
DIONNE: Thank you --
HEILEMANN: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, a neurosurgeon will join us with a brief explanation about Senator John McCain`s condition tonight.
And later, Congressman Barney Frank is here with his assessment of where the Republican Congress stands now on the health care bill.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Senator John McCain`s mother, Roberta, is 105 years old, and if you`re one of the people who has ever been lucky enough to spend time chatting with her, you know that she is one of her family`s pillars of strength. Tonight Roberta McCain and the rest of the family are dealing with the news that Senator John McCain has been diagnosed with brain cancer. After the news broke tonight, politicians and presidents issued statements and tweets in praise of John McCain., Democrats and Republicans.
but the statement that matters most is from his daughter, Meghan McCain. She wrote, the news of my father`s illness has affected every one of us in the McCain family. my grandmother, mother, brothers, sister and I have all endured the shock of the news, and now we live with the anxiety about what comes next. It is an experience familiar to us given my father`s previous battle with cancer and families whose loved ones are also stricken with the tragedy of disease and inevitability of age.
It won`t surprise you to learn that in all this, the one of us who is most confident and calm is my father. He is a warrior at dusk, one of the greatest Americans of our age and the worthy heir to his father`s and grandfather`s name. But to me, he is something more.
He is my strength, my example, my refuge, my confidant, my teacher, my rock, my hero, my dad. joining us now is Dr. Lawrence Wechsler. He is the chairman of the Department of Neurology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Doctor, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
There`s been a statement released describing the Senator`s condition and the tumor that was discovered being a Glioblastoma. Having read that information, what do we know about Senator McCain`s condition tonight?
LAWRENCE WECHSLER, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well Lawrence, the details that have been released are a bit scanty, but it has been said he has this tumor called a Glioblastoma. This is typically a very malignant brain tumor. Unfortunately it can grow fairly quickly. In this case, it seems to be rather small.
It sounds like from what I have been able to gather from the reports that this started as some bleeding within the brain, that the surgeons then went in to remove the blood clot from the brain, and in the process took some tissue that showed evidence of this tumor called a Glioblastoma.
O`DONNELL: And given the basic outline of what you know tonight about this case, what do you think would be the recommended course of action for the next few weeks anyway?
WECHSLER: Well, the usual treatment for this, Lawrence, is first to take out the tumor as much as it can be taken out. Unfortunately one of the problems with this tumor is it tends to infiltrate into the substance of the brain. So it`s hard to get it all out.
But first to take out as much as you can, and actually it sounds like from the reports that I`ve seen, that the surgeons there feel they have gotten most if not all of the tumor removed. The next step would be to consider additional therapy. And the typical therapies that are considered would be a combination of the radiation and chemotherapy, and that would occur over the next few weeks.
O`DONNELL: So would that keep the Senator back at home in Arizona? Would he be able to return to Washington anytime soon?
WECHSLER: I mean it`s hard to know. If he`s still in fairly good condition, which again from the reports, it sounds like he is. The reports that I`ve ready said that really neurologically he was essentially normal and this was found because of some rather non-specific symptoms so if he`s in good condition and feeling well, then he could potentially return to the Senate.
Of course, you know, he`s going to be undergoing some fairly rigorous therapy, and once he gets into the radiation and the chemotherapy, he may not feel quite as strong or as vigorous. So we`ll just have to wait to see how he reacts to the treatment.
O`DONNELL: Well if anyone can get back at it, it will be Senator John McCain. Dr. Lawrence Wechsler, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
WECHSLER: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, what Mitch McConnell had to say today about the future of the health care bill that has no future. And Congressman Barney Frank will join us.
O`DONNELL: The Trump/McConnell/Ryan health care bill is still a lost cause, but no one seems to know how to tell the President.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: We`re in this room today to deliver on our promise to the American people to repeal Obamacare and to ensure that they have the health care that they need. We have no choice. We have to repeal and replace Obamacare.
We can repeal it, but the best is repeal and replace, and let`s get going. I intend to keep my promise. And I know you will too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was the President at lunch today with Republican Senators including all of the announced opponents of what you just heard the President say, and they`re all still opponents. The most important statement of the day on this legislation was delivered as usual not by the President, but by the man in charge of the legislation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITCH MCCONNELL, UNITED STATES SENATOR: It`s pretty obvious we`ve had difficulty in getting 50 votes to proceed. But what I want to disabuse any of you of is the notion that we will not have that vote next week. We`re going to vote on the motion to proceed to the bill next week.
REPORTER: Will you cancel all of august recess?
MCCONNELL: We`re going to have a vote on the motion to proceed to the bill next week. Thanks, everybody
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Translation, the Republicans are not going to stay in Washington working on health care during the august recess like Donald Trump wants them to. Mitch McConnell is going to bring this thing to an end by having a vote next week, which he knows he`s going to lose. He`s going to have the Senate Vote on a bill to completely repeal Obamacare.
According to the bill, the actual repeal would take place two years from now, and in the meantime, Mitch McConnell promises the Republicans in Congress we`ll figure out what they haven`t been able to figure out in seven years, which is how to replace Obamacare. Mitch McConnell knows this is hopeless, but he`s not going to be the one to tell the President or to tell those very few Republican voters who actually want Obamacare repealed and replaced.
Mitch McConnell is going to let the vote in the Senate speak for itself. Obamacare now has very deep roots in Federal Government, in State Governments, and in our health care system. It would be extremely difficult to repeal and replace even with a President who knew how to wield power in legislation, even with a President who wasn`t lazy, even with a President who is not playing golf and ignoring the Senate Bill when he should have been rounding up votes for it.
But President Trump kept making the very difficult impossibly difficult. he delivered new messages almost weekly about what the bill would be, should be, each idea different from the last idea, more expensive than the last idea and in conflict with the last idea. Ideas like insurance for everybody.
That was a quote. Another quote, much lower deductibles and then, of course, the moment when the President publicly confessed what every Senator already knew. That he is an abject ignoramus when it comes to health care policy.
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TRUMP: Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.
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O`DONNELL: Everybody knew. Former Congressman Barney Frank knew exactly how complicated health care is, and he will join us next.
O`DONNELL: Here is Speaker of the House Paul Ryan today talking about the Senate Health Care Bill.
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PAUL RYAN, SPEAKER OF THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: I just want them to pass something so that we can at least get to negotiations on a final version of the bill. That process can`t continue, it can`t go forward if the Senate doesn`t pass anything and that`s where they are right now, and that`s what`s frustrating to all of us right now. It is in the Senate`s court because we did our job, pass our bill, and we have to get them to pass something.
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O`DONNELL: We are joined now by former Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank. Barney, that sounds familiar. Someone in the House of Representatives saying, we did our job. What`s wrong with that Senate?
BARNEY FRANK, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: Well, but it shows a misunderstanding of the Senate`s rules and of the composition. Paul Ryan`s got a larger majority, but even with the frustration he`s feeling, this please just pass anything. We`re talking about one of the most serious, important pieces of legislation you can have both because of what it does to individuals` quality of life, because of its impact on the economy, America`s competitive position. So this plea to the United States Senate, just pass anything, is just another confession of bankruptcy intellectually from a policy standpoint.
O`DONNELL: Barney, Compare and contrast the presidential input from President Obama on the Affordable Care Act, on getting that bill passed and what it took from the President and this President, who we saw playing golf all weekend on the weekend before Mitch McConnell was going to try to get to a vote in the Senate.
FRANK: Well, I think there were two criticisms you can make of Donald Trump`s involvement in the Health Care Bill. First of all, there were times when he wasn`t being helpful. Secondly, there were times when he was trying to be helpful. I`m not sure which one did more damage. Calling the house bill mean -- first of all, you noted, I mean I`ve never seen anybody -- what he says has a shelf life of about an hour.
The man will say something. He`ll write it down, and an hour later he acts as if he never said it. Its totally repudiated. But I can tell you about health care and also about the financial reform bill. The Obama, the President personally and his administration officials at his direction were very much involved.
I remember going to the Whitehouse at one point to talk about financial reform and the President pulled me over because I raised some question about the health care bill. And one, he knew as much about it as anybody. Two, he understood the politics of the place.
He was much more involved and yes, he could do it. There`s another contrast that I think is important Lawrence that will be familiar to you. And that`s Donald Trump and Ronald Reagan. Trump is complaining he gets no Democrats. ...
Reagan got a lot of democrats. I wish he hadn`t. I got to Congress with Reagan coming to the Whitehouse. The Reagan Program, a very radical one, a very drastic one passed because he had a lot of democrats. He worked at it personally and also because Reagan retained a popularity.
One of the striking things and Trump is right, he gets no Democratic votes. It`s interesting there were Democrats from states some of them more conservative states that voted him, Indiana, Missouri, West Virginia, Montana, North Dakota. They`re not afraid of Donald Trump those Democratic Senators because they know more than he knows and know what the people want. So as I said, I think yes, Trump has not been involved, but it`s not -- I think they`re better off when he`s not involved.
O`DONNELL: There was another source of energy driving the Affordable Care Act in the United States Senate as you know, and that was your senior senator From Massachusetts, Ted Kennedy, who didn`t make it all the way to the end with that legislation. And in fact, was diagnosed with the same brain cancer.
FRANK: Very Poignant, you know, When I heard the news, the sad news about John McCain, I left my offices in Maine and I looked at one of the wedding presents Jim and I got a few years ago when we got married was from Vicki Kennedy. And I treasure it. It was a painting, a copy of a painting Ted had done.
And the parallels these two great men of great impact in the Senate, you don`t agree with everything they did but certainly they had major impacts as senators. Their one major political failure not to be elected president but that didn`t stop them from having enormous impact and at roughly the same age, exactly the same disease. It`s kind of a poignant sad parallel.
O`DONNELL: Yes. Vicki Kennedy tweeted tonight, Senator Kennedy`s widow tweeted thoughts and prayers are with Teddy`s and my friend Senator John McCain and with Cindy McCain and their family. God bless John McCain.
And Barney, this is among the kind of unpredictable things that can happen. I mean here at the United States Senate where Mitch McConnell`s counting every vote and now, it`s hard to say when John McCain will be okay.
FRANK: Lawrence, to reinforce your point that McConnell seems to want to get rid of this, if he were absolutely trying as a maximum to get those votes, he would delay it for John McCain`s presence. I don`t think anybody would expect John to come from the terrible thing he`s going through now to be there. So that`s one more example from McConnell not wanting to do it.
Can I say one other thing that`s very important? I`m indebted to Donald Trump for a long time, we`ve had this problem that people disliked government. And the health care bill has shown reminded people and Donald Trump has shown people there is something a lot worse than government. It`s not government. That as bad as they might have thought the government was on health care, it`s now created people that the absence of government healthcare is even worse.
Donald Trump has done more for getting people to understand the importance of public policy that respond to public needs in an affirmative way than anything we could have done on our own.
O`DONNELL: A quick word about the big news of the night with Jeff Sessions and the President in the New York Times basically saying if Jeff Sessions had told me that he was going to do the right thing and recluse himself, then I would not have the nominated an Attorney General who was committed doing the right thing.
FRANK: Well, of course, it`s also true as one of your panelists pointed out, the recusal came after he was nominated. It couldn`t have been before. But this has become farce.
Lawrence you had great show business experience and how you show politics in a good way.. I wish just somebody -- Alec Baldwin has done this great Trump. I wish somebody would hire Leslie Jordan to play Sessions. The only way is to put the two of them out there. it is the most bizarre, pathetic silliness I can imagine at what should be the most serious deliberations in the American government.
O`DONNELL: Barney Frank, thank you very much for joining us tonight, really appreciate it. Tonight`s last word is next.
O`DONNELL: The United States Senate is no longer filled with a lot of best friends, a lot of great friendships. The Senators don`t have that much time with each other anymore. They don`t socialize the way they used to anymore. They don`t get together after hours very much anymore.
But John McCain, John McCain is one of the lucky ones. He does have a best friend in the Senate. And that best friend is Senator Lindsey Graham.
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LINDSEY GRAHAM, UNITED STATES SENATOR: I got a call from Rick Davis saying you know it`s tough news and it is tough. Talked to John, said yes, I`m going to have to stay here a little bit longer. Take some treatments and I`ll be back.
And we talked about five minutes you know, it`s going to be a tough way forward but he says I`ve been through worse. And basically, then we started talking about health care and the NDA. Literally it wasn`t five minutes until he turned away from what I think most people would have a hard time absorbing and focused on what he loves the best.
So pray. I don`t know -- God knows how this ends, not me. But I do know this. This disease is never had a more worthy opponent
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O`DONNELL: John McCain`s best friend in the Senate gets tonight`s Last Word. the 11th Hour with Brian Williams is next.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, 11th HOUR ANCHOR: Breaking news we`re covering tonight, Senator John McCain diagnosed with brain cancer.