Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: July 27, 2017 Guest: Neera Tanden, David Frum, Ron Klain, Paul Butler
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: I`m telling you, whether or not you have watched the other Richard Engel series in the "ON ASSIGNMENT" thing, you need to watch what he`s going to show tomorrow night.
Tomorrow night, right here, 9:00 p.m. Eastern here on Msnbc, "ON ASSIGNMENT WITH RICHARD ENGEL", I hereby order you do not miss it.
That does it for us tonight, I will see you again shortly, 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, and Richard Engel is reporting tonight that in capitals around the world, U.S. intelligence is picking up the fact that they are worried about the chaos in the White House.
O`DONNELL: From Anthony Scaramucci through to Jeff Sessions, that they are seeing chaos in the government where they had never seen that before.
MADDOW: One of the best history books I continue to believe that will ever be written about this era in American history will be written about foreign officials and foreign governments trying to figure out what the United States means anymore and how they need to adjust international relations, their bilateral relationships with us as a country given what happened at the top of our government.
O`DONNELL: Imagine, Rachel, translators around the world reading their translations of the Scaramucci quotes today to world leaders.
MADDOW: Yes, you know, as you know, I blush easily, Lawrence. So I had a hard time not even -- I didn`t even try to pronounce what he said in that interview.
But even just trying to learn enough about human anatomy to figure out what he was suggesting Steve Bannon was doing with himself, that enough set me like -- I had to go walk around the halls for half an hour and just not think.
O`DONNELL: Well --
MADDOW: It was terrible --
O`DONNELL: Well, I just couldn`t -- Steve Bannon can`t do it, OK?
So you stop, no, stop thinking about it. It`s an impossibility, just get it, get it out of your head, just --
MADDOW: Yes --
O`DONNELL: Cleanse your mind.
MADDOW: Gone, bleach, it`s gone.
O`DONNELL: OK --
MADDOW: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel --
O`DONNELL: Well, the Anthony Scaramucci story is actually not a staff story. That`s not what this is. It is about the president of the United States.
It is about the judgment of the president of the United States against the very wise advice of his White House chief of staff, the president decided to hire Anthony Scaramucci, to offer him a job in the White House.
And the question tonight is will the president insult the taxpayers of the United States by actually putting Anthony Scaramucci on the White House payroll?
Make the taxpayers pay his salary? Will the president allow Anthony Scaramucci to disgrace the White House? That is a question of presidential judgment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, SENIOR ADVISER TO DONALD TRUMP: Reince is a expletive deleted, paranoid schizophrenic.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A profanity-laced tirade from the new White House communications director.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is where we have come to.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Reince Priebus, if you want to leak something, he`ll be asked to resign very shortly.
SCARAMUCCI: We are a little bit like brothers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some brothers are like Cain and Abel.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can`t even put on air is what he said about Steve Bannon.
SCARAMUCCI: Where I grew up in the neighborhood I`m from, we`re fun stabbers.
CHUCK TODD, MODERATOR, MEET THE PRESS: His title is communications director. I`m just sort of -- i can`t play --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sorry.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`ve got the best people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`ve seen the president`s criticism of you. Do you think it`s fair?
JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, it`s kind of hurtful.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: If Jeff Sessions is fired, there will be holy hell to pay.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean this is a circular firing squad.
TRUMP: This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Disaster after disaster after disaster coming out of the White House.
SCARAMUCCI: My start date is going to be in a couple of weeks.
GEORGE WILL, JOURNALIST: If after this, they go ahead and put this man in John Adams` White House, we`ll have learned even more.
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, COLUMNIST: This is the degradation of the presidency.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Anthony Scaramucci does not have a job in the White House. Now, I know that`s news to a lot of people. And now he might never have a job in the White House.
Everyone treats him now as if he works in the White House, but he doesn`t. He`s just a visitor. He has been promised a job of director of communications, and he is behaving as if he already has that job although he is behaving unlike anyone who has ever actually had that job.
He is so far a real-life version of "My Cousin Vinny" in the White House, which is why I`ve asked the star of "My Cousin Vinny", Joe Pesci to join us tonight to read Anthony Scaramucci`s latest quotes published in the "New Yorker" which are dirtier and crazier than anything Joe Pesci has ever said on film, yes, including "Good Fellas" and "Casino and "Raging Bull".
But as you may have noticed, Joe Pesci has basically retired from show business, so we doubt we`re going to get lucky and have him call in to do the reading for us tonight.
Anthony Scaramucci might be on the verge of finding himself retired from the White House before he actually gets his job in the White House.
Anthony Scaramucci is waiting for the completion of the sale of his investment company to a Chinese company before he officially goes on the White House payroll.
The sale of his company to a Chinese company must be approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.
The members of that committee are all Trump cabinet members. Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Energy Secretary Rick Perry, and U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer.
The head of the Office of Science and Technology is also a member of that committee, but that job is vacant in the Trump administration.
Now, normally the work of that committee is done entirely by staff, all done at the staff level. Very little about these cases ever come to the attention of the cabinet members.
But this one is different. This is now the highest profile person in the Trump White House, and so the case should be given extra scrutiny to make sure that Anthony Scaramucci is not being paid more than the company is worth so that the Chinese company can curry favor with the Trump administration in order to accomplish who knows what?
But possibly, certainly including that company`s ability to do more business in the United States and buy more assets in the United States that could raise national security issues.
This is now the committee on foreign investments` most important case, and it is taking longer than Anthony Scaramucci expected.
And that is why last Friday, on the day that Anthony Scaramucci seized the microphone at the White House for the first time, Anthony Scaramucci said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCARAMUCCI: I have worked with the Office of Governmental Ethics to take care of all of my business conflicts. My start date is going to be in a couple of weeks so that it`s a 100 percent totally cleansed and clean.
And I don`t see an issue with it. The Office of Government Ethics doesn`t see an issue with it nor does the White House counsel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: They don`t see an issue with it as long as the company is sold before Anthony Scaramucci goes on the White House payroll.
But since Scaramucci made that announcement, life in the Trump administration has changed dramatically for at least one member on the Committee on Foreign Investment, Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
So Anthony Scaramucci has to ask himself tonight, is the Attorney General of the United States in a mood to be helpful to him, or might the Attorney General want to take a longer look at Anthony Scaramucci`s business before he approves the sale to a Chinese company.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson might not be eager to see someone like Anthony Scaramucci go to work in the White House and start saying things about foreign policy that make the Secretary of State`s job more difficult than the president already makes it.
Some estimates indicate that Anthony Scaramucci stands to make -- stands to take home about $85 million in the sale of his company to the Chinese.
Today, the Chinese buyers of Anthony Scaramucci`s company might be wondering just how much favor they can win in a Trump administration if Anthony Scaramucci is not in that administration.
What Anthony Scaramucci said to Ryan Lizza at the "New Yorker" should prevent Anthony Scaramucci from ever working in government at any level, including state, local, and county government.
The only place in American government that would hire anyone like Anthony Scaramucci is the Donald Trump White House.
Last night, Ryan Lizza of the "New Yorker" tweeted this news. Scoop, "Trump is dining tonight with Sean Hannity, Bill Shine; former Fox News executive and Anthony Scaramucci per two knowledgeable sources."
Anthony Scaramucci then called Ryan Lizza to find out who his source was. He actually thought that a reporter would simply reveal to him his confidential source.
Scaramucci said, "you`re an American citizen, this is a major catastrophe for the American country, so I`m asking you as an American patriot to give me a sense of who leaked it."
Anthony Scaramucci thinks that the news that he was having dinner with the president and Sean Hannity is, quote, "a major catastrophe for the American country."
And he thinks a reporter upon hearing that, will tell him who told him about the dinner. When Ryan Lizza would not tell him the source, Scaramucci said, "OK, I`m going to fire every one of them, and then you haven`t protected anybody.
So the entire place will be fired over the next two weeks. They`ll all be fired by me." Anthony Scaramucci firmly believed that he already knew the answer to his question.
He was absolutely convinced before he made the phone call that Reince Priebus was Ryan Lizza`s source. He said to Ryan Lizza, "I`ll get to the person who leaked that to you.
Reince Priebus, if you want to leak something, he`ll be asked to resign very shortly."
And then after predicting that Reince Priebus would be fired, Anthony Scaramucci said, "Reince is an f-ing paranoid schizophrenic, a paranoiac."
This is from the man who is so paranoid about who leaked his dinner with the president and Sean Hannity that he`s calling up a reporter and asking the source of that reporter.
And then telling the reporter that he knows who the source is. Ryan Lizza confirmed today that Reince Priebus was not his source for the information about the dinner.
And in effect, then, he confirmed that Anthony Scaramucci is paranoid about Reince Priebus, that he, Anthony Scaramucci is exactly what he accused Reince Priebus of being.
Anthony Scaramucci is so unprofessional, he was no doubt not aware that he was saying all of this on the record.
Ryan Lizza says there is a recordings of all of this, which we can only hope we are allowed to hear. Anthony Scaramucci attributed this thought to Reince Priebus. "Let me leak the f-ing thing and see if I can block these people the way I blocked Scaramucci for six months."
Reince Priebus did everything he could to prevent the Trump administration from suffering the invasion of Anthony Scaramucci. Scaramucci is right about that.
Reince Priebus did try to block him from working in the White House. The paranoid Scaramucci who knows nothing about government said that the leaking of his financial disclosure documents with the government was a felony that he called the FBI to investigate.
Those documents were not leaked. They were public information and nothing about obtaining those documents could ever be illegal. Scaramucci told Ryan Lizza, "what I want to do is, I want to f-ing kill all the leakers, and I want to get the president`s agenda on track so we can succeed for the American people."
Like President Trump, he occasionally speaks of himself in the third person, and in this instance used his nickname, the mooch.
"OK, the mooch showed up a week ago, this is going to get cleaned up very shortly, OK? Because I nailed these guys.
I`ve got digital fingerprints on everything they`ve done through the FBI and the f-ing Department of Justice. They`re going to get prosecuted probably for the felony."
Because Anthony Scaramucci is a wild liar, there is no way of knowing whether he has any digital fingerprints of anything or whether he`s communicated with the FBI about leaks in the White House.
So, of course, of course, it is against the rules of the White House for Anthony Scaramucci to communicate with the FBI about any investigation.
But he wouldn`t know that. He expressed his superiority to Steve Bannon this way. "I`m not Steve Bannon, I`m not trying to do things to my own.
I`m not trying to build my own brand off the f-ing strength of the president. I`m here to serve the country." But he has to sell his company first, and that sale to the Chinese has to be approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment.
And if the Committee on Foreign Investment blocks the sale, there is only one person who can overturn the ruling of the Committee on Foreign Investment, and that is the president of the United States Donald Trump.
If President Trump actually goes ahead and puts Anthony Scaramucci on the taxpayer-funded payroll of the White House, he will be showing us once again that he does not have the judgment to carry out the duties of the president of the United States.
The Scaramucci story is tonight the story of presidential judgment. Donald Trump has seen what Anthony Scaramucci has said, and so far we have every indication that the president has accepted all of it, accepted what Anthony Scaramucci has said, has no problem with it.
Any other president would have banned Anthony Scaramucci from the White House today. Any mayor would have banned Anthony Scaramucci from city hall, from town hall.
No one with any executive judgment would want a person like Anthony Scaramucci on his team. And if the president says tomorrow that Anthony Scaramucci will not be working in the Trump administration, then and only then will we find out just how much the Chinese really do value Anthony Scaramucci`s company.
Will they pull out of the deal to buy Anthony Scaramucci`s company if he does not have influence in the Trump administration?
This is a pass/fail moment on presidential judgment. Get rid of Anthony Scaramucci, and you pass, keep him on, and you fail.
If the president knows what`s good for him and his White House, not to mention the country, the taxpayer, he will send the mooch back to where he came from.
But Donald Trump has never been very good at knowing what`s good for his presidency or the country. Coming up, the Obama White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest and George W. Bush White House speechwriter David Frum join us after a break.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KRAUTHAMMER: This is the degradation of the presidency. This is where we have come to. None of us have ever seen this.
The reason is that it is not to be done. That kind of language is not to be used, particularly when it`s infighting in the White House.
The fact that the president is allowing all of this to go on, I think means that it rests with him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Josh Earnest; former White House Press Secretary for President Obama, he`s also an Msnbc political analyst.
And David Frum; senior editor for "The Atlantic". And Josh, since you worked in the White House communications office and masterfully, I might add, I just want to go to you with a wide open your reaction to this story?
JOSH EARNEST, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Yes, well, thank you, Lawrence. It`s good to see you tonight. And look, I think you covered a lot of it in the top.
One of the things that we know about Anthony Scaramucci is he got this job because he was viewed by the president as somebody who is really good on cable TV.
And with all due respect to the people who regulate on cable TV, that is not an automatic direct translation to being a good White House communications director.
Being the communications director at the White House means having judgment. It means having some self-awareness, it means having discipline.
It also means having some sophistication when it comes to dealing with reporters. And what`s clear after this "New Yorker" story is that Anthony Scaramucci doesn`t have any of that. And it does make it clear that by continuing to employ him that after six months, President Trump still hasn`t figured out that running the White House is different than running his family`s real estate business.
O`DONNELL: I want to take a look at the cover of -- page one of tomorrow`s "New York Post". I think we have it ready graphically, yes.
And this is a very important cover because this is the first negative "New York Post" coverage of the Trump presidency.
The first one ever. And that is brought to you by Anthony Scaramucci. He is the one who has created the imagery that the "New York Post" is using on its cover of this out-of-control White House with people attacking each other in the way they do on "Survivor"; that reality show.
And David Frum, this is a newspaper that`s fully supportive of the president all the time. They don`t appear to be supportive of this behavior, and I`m wondering, as we always do in these moments, what about Trump supporters?
What about when they hear the way Anthony Scaramucci talks, especially some of the religiously conservative Trump supporters out there?
DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: Well, they`ve made a lot of allowances. And in many ways, perversely, Anthony Scaramucci may be helpful to the president with those supporters.
Because of the title that Anthony Scaramucci carries. It will be -- it will make it easier to say that the Trump administration has a communications problem and Anthony Scaramucci was brought in to try to fix the problem, OK, he didn`t succeed.
We still have a communications problem. The Trump administration does not have a communications problem. It wants to believe that the president wants to believe it because he watches so much television, and he also wants to believe it because it`s always thought of as the easiest thing to fix.
But it is the thing communicated. You know, you can have the worst communications shop in the world. If you have peace and 3.5 percent growth, you don`t have any problems.
You can have the best communications shop in the world and if you have a Russian espionage investigation and a healthcare bill that carries 17 percent public approval, your communications people can`t fix it.
And that`s the thing the Trump administration is struggling with.
O`DONNELL: Josh, the -- we have reports tonight indicating that the president authorized Anthony Scaramucci to go to attack Reince Priebus any way he wanted, including going public.
EARNEST: Yes, it`s -- in some ways, it`s obviously unprecedented. But in some ways, it`s not surprising. It`s entirely consistent with the way, frankly, that he and his administration are treating the attorney general right now.
Which is that the president of the United States apparently doesn`t have the guts to actually fire people who work for him.
What he does is he hopes that these people will be so publicly insulted that they will quit their jobs. That -- again, that is no way to run a White House.
It certainly is no way to run the greatest country in the world. But it might be the way that you run your family real estate business, and, you know, after six months, we were counting on our president to start understanding more about what his job actually entails.
And, you know, what`s true is you want your communications director out there telling a story about what you`re trying to get done on behalf of the American people.
Right now, you have Anthony Scaramucci out there mostly talking about himself, talking about his own personal financial disclosures, and talking about his own personal grievance with the White House chief of staff.
If he`s not telling the president`s story, the only people who are, are the president`s critics. And you know, look at -- David`s right that even if you are dealt a good hand, you can manage with a poorly-run communications shop.
But there`s nobody in America, including the president himself, who thinks that he`s playing a good hand right now.
O`DONNELL: So Anthony Scaramucci has explained it all in a tweet tonight saying, "I made a mistake in trusting in a reporter. It won`t happen again."
David Frum, that`s what he thinks his mistake was.
FRUM: Well, White House communications directors shouldn`t trust reporters, and if they do, that actually -- that`s not an excuse.
That actually makes the problem worse. What we`re watching here as we watch Scaramucci is the attempt to fire, as Josh has said, Reince Priebus.
I was reading today about the nastiest previous firing of a chief of staff, and that was the firing of Don Regan in the Reagan administration.
First lady Nancy Reagan thought that Don Regan was disserving President Regan in a number of ways. And she then conducted a campaign in the press that led ultimately to Regan`s firing/resignation.
But the reason she did that was because the president wanted to keep him. We have never seen before the president acting the part of the first lady.
And not refusing to fire the person who he thinks he has the most authority over. It would be easiest to fire -- I mean, he is the chief of staff.
He`s not a cabinet secretary, he`s not attorney general, he hasn`t been confirmed by the Senate, the next chief of staff doesn`t have to be confirmed by the Senate.
Donald Trump is taking the Nancy Reagan part, and that is really strange.
O`DONNELL: Josh, the tweet that he`s issued, "I made a mistake in trusting in a reporter, it won`t happen again."
It`s a wonderful tweet because if he`s saying he made a mistake in trusting in a reporter, trusting in the reporter to do what?
Not report that he said those things? And if it was his intent to not have those exact words reported and attributed to him, that means he was calling up Ryan Lizza to leak to him.
And this is the guy who is saying, I want to kill all the leakers.
EARNEST: Yes, this is the guy who claims that leaking is the biggest problem in the White House, and apparently he is one of the foremost purveyors of that conduct.
You know, one of the other things that reveals Mr. Scaramucci`s naivet‚ about his job is that, you know, he entered the office and even in this -- and he told Mr. Lizza that he was planning to fire everybody in the communications shop if they didn`t come clean about their history of leaking.
You know, we had an expression actually in the Obama White House about this, that every once in a while people would accuse the communications operation of leaking.
It didn`t happen very often, those accusations. And the -- our response actually was, you know, one of my colleagues in the White House who had this response, which I think was pretty apt, which is the reason that people in the communications shop typically don`t leak is the same reason that janitors typically don`t vandalize the bathroom, because they know they`re going to have to clean up the mess.
O`DONNELL: Right. David Frum, both of you served in a White House. David, you in a Republican White House, Josh, a Democratic White House.
I just want you to talk for a moment about the honor of serving in a White House, what it feels like, and what it feels like to see a presidency come along and hire -- try to hire someone like Anthony Scaramucci.
FRUM: Well, one of the ways that White Houses work is not just with loyalty to the president, but with loyalty among the various staffers.
When I worked in the Bush White House, Ryan Lizza was then not the international celebrity that he has become tonight.
Would sometimes call me and we had a pre-existing friendship. And in those six months after 9/11 when there was an absolute edict against anyone talking to the press for any reason, whether they were your old friend or not, we would talk about family, and that would be the end of the conversation.
I wouldn`t talk to him. And I did that not because I had anything so interesting to share, I truly did not. But because I had loyalty to my colleagues.
I cared about them, and I felt that they cared about me.
O`DONNELL: And that`s -- Josh, I assume you echo that feeling, the collegial feeling, the -- in this together feeling that a White House is supposed to have and usually does.
EARNEST: Yes, that`s exactly right. You know, one of the benefits that President Obama took with him into office, and David and his colleagues and his boss all benefited from this too, is that many of us worked together for more than a year, in some cases two years on the campaign.
Which meant that we had spent a lot of time working together already. We are also deeply, personally invested in the campaign, in the agenda and in the president.
And that sense of loyalty and that collegiality and unity did override any sort of human temptation to want to rat out your colleagues.
And that kind of discipline and cohesion served the Obama administration quite well. And look, I didn`t support President Bush when he was in office, but it served he and his team quite well throughout his presidency as well because he exercised the kind of leadership and unified his staff around the agenda and the vision that he had for the country.
And, yes, the country runs better when you have somebody in charge who does that.
O`DONNELL: Josh Earnest, who served in the last White House communications office where decency was the norm. Thank you very much for joining us tonight, Josh, really appreciate it.
EARNEST: Thank you, Lawrence --
O`DONNELL: David Frum, please stay with us, we`re going to use you in another segment. Coming up, Lindsey Graham, Senator Lindsey Graham is now warning the president against firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
And we have breaking news on the healthcare votes in the Senate tonight. We`re now hearing that the healthcare bill Mitch McConnell hopes to vote on, hearing what they might be planning to do overnight.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has just released an outline of the next bill he is going to ask Senators to vote on, on the Senate floor possibly later tonight on health care, calling it the Health Care Freedom Act. It is the so-called skinny bill. It would repeal the individual mandate, repeal the employer mandate.
It would repeal the medical device tax. It would increase health savings account contributions and that is essentially what has been referred to as the so-called skinny bill, what the Republicans are calling the lightest version of repealing Obamacare and replacing it with this. Republican Senators who are considering voting on this have demanded that the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House promise them that the House will not pass this very same bill even if the Senators do vote for it because the Senators are hoping this bill will never become law. The United States Senate has never been here before, voting on a bill that they don`t want to become law. Today Paul Ryan issued a statement in response to those Senators, saying he was willing to have a conference committee on the health care bill but he did not promise it.
Minutes ago, though, some senators said they have received personal assurances from Paul Ryan that he would convene a conference committee so that the House and Senate could negotiate over the health care bill and produce a bill different from the Senate bill. The only way to have a conference committee is that each body must pass a bill, and then those two bills are brought together in a conference, and usually a compromise between the two bills is struck.
Today Paul Ryan pointed out the big flaw for the Senate and the Senate plan saying "repealing and replacing Obamacare still ultimately requires that the Senate produce 51 votes for an actual plan." In other words, he`s not impressed if they pass a plan that they don`t actually want. They have to pass one that they are actually willing to support.
Now, normally the House members of a conference committee arrive with the bill passed by the House, and they say this is the bill we want to pass. Then the Senate members arrive with the bill passed by the senate. They say this is the bill we want to pass.
Then they spend some time trying to work out a compromise between those two bills. But this time the senate will arrive at the conference, if there is one, with a bill and say, we absolutely don`t want to pass the senate bill. And they will say, we absolutely don`t want to pass the House bill.
And Paul Ryan knows that the conference committee will not be able to do a better job of trying to figure out what can pass the senate than Mitch McConnell has done. and Mitch McConnell hasn`t found anything that can pass the senate. back with us is David Frum. Also joining us now, Neera Tanden, President for the Center for American Progress. She was an adviser in the Obama Administration on the Affordable Care Act. Neera, your reading of the state of play tonight.
NEERA TANDEN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first of all, they did just release the legislative language for the "skinny repeal". Now they`re saying they would like to vote on it in the next few hours. So let me just say to the American people they have a bill that will affect the health care of the -- the entire health care system.
It`s going to affect health insurance premiums, that has been available to the public maybe for two, three, four hours before they vote on it. But that`s not the most unusual thing. The most unusual thing is that Republican after Republican said today, as you noted, that they are opposed to this bill.
They are voting for a bill that they say themselves -- Lindsey Graham said himself will raise premiums, but he`s voting to get it to a conference that Paul Ryan, in his release, did not actually say would occur. He may have a conference, but he did not guarantee a conference. Some have had personal assurances.
This is the most Kafkaesque situation I`ve ever seen. I`ve never seen the Senate operate this way. I`ve never seen the Congress operate this way. They are flouting every rule, every procedure in order to, I Guess, meet the political needs of their party at the expense of possibly 16 million people losing health insurance next year and in the years to come.
O`DONNELL: You know the Senate simply has never operated this way. They`ll be doing this without a CBO score on this. Let`s listen to what senator graham said earlier about this bill that he`s now -- he said he is willing to vote for because Senator Graham is one of the people who says he`s received a personal assurance from Paul Ryan that they will have a conference about this after the senate votes on it. Listen to senator McCain --talking about -- Senator graham, sorry, Senator Graham talking about the bill that he is now prepared to vote for.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LINDSEY GRAHAM, UNITED STATES SENATOR: The skinny bill as policy is a disaster. The Skinny Bill as a replacement for Obamacare is a fraud. The Skinny Bill is a vehicle to get in conference to find a replacement. It is not a replacement in of itself. The policy is terrible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: David Frum, it sounds like Senator Graham is writing the attack ads for Democrats in the next campaign.
DAVID FRUM, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Right. And he`s also trusting Paul Ryan to not do the thing that Neera is pointing to, which is to take the Skinny Bill and then pass it through the House, which is how the original affordable care act passed. Democrats then had a Senate bill they did not love but there had been a change in the balance of power in the Senate. And so they simply passed the Senate bill as the closest thing they could get.
Paul Ryan has a problem as does Leader McConnell, which is they started this rare opportunity of two years of united Republican control with a bucket of minutes. And they`ve spent about a quarter of that bucket. If you think the election starts in September rather than November, maybe they`ve spent closer to a third of the bucket of minutes and they haven`t done anything.
They certainly haven`t done the tax things they want to do. So knowing the unforgiving clock, knowing that a recess is supposed to happen on the 31st of July, what would Paul Ryan do to get to the things he really wants to do, which are tax and other measures? It would make the sense from the point of view of managing his time simply to usher this thing through, and then to enjoy the tax benefits and the gratitude of the Republican donor class.
O`DONNELL: Neera Tanden, I worked on a bunch of conference committees in the Congress . I worked on a bunch of conference committees in the Congress when I was working in the Senate. And so I was amused today to see Senator McCain, Senator Graham falling for this idea of getting a promise from the speaker of having a conference. That`s all they wanted.
What they don`t seem to understand, they certainly don`t have enough experience with this particular area of legislation to understand that you can have a conference. The conference committee can meet from the house and the senate, and in very short order, the House of Representatives can just say, upon conferencing, we accept the senate bill.
O`DONNELL: and just take up the senate bill after the conference whether the conference is five minutes or five days, just take the senate bill and pass it.
TANDEN: Absolutely. Also they`ve just given up all their leverage. The Senate has no leverage after all of them say they don`t like their own version of the bill. So in any conference, they really have no power to dictate terms. So I mean the whole thing is ridiculous that we`re on the precipice of voting for a bill that no one has seen until minutes ago, with no real plan of what will happen here on in.
Let me just say a few things. A bunch of Republican Senators have said things that this bill contravenes from the right and the left. Shelley Moore Capito said she did not come to Congress to do harm. This bill will raise premiums and essentially lose coverage. And Senator McCain, a bunch of senators has said -- made statements about this that will be violated by this proposal and I hope they vote against it.
O`DONNELL: Yes. We haven`t heard yet from Senator McCain on this latest version that`s been released. If he`s going to be consistent with that dramatic speech he made the other day, he has no choice but to vote against it. Neera Tanden and David Frum, thank you both for joining us. I really appreciate it.
Coming up, Republicans are now warning the President against firing the Attorney General and including Lindsey Graham has a new idea about how to prevent the President from firing the Special Prosecutor.
O`DONNELL: Tonight Attorney General Jeff Sessions talked about the recent attacks against him by the President.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFFERSON SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: It`s kind of hurtful, but the President of the United States is a strong leader. He has had a lot of criticisms, and he`s steadfastly determined to get his job done, and he wants all of us to do our jobs. And that`s what I intend to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The Attorney General also said this about the President criticizing him for recusing himself from the Russia Investigation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: I understand his feelings about it because this has been a big distraction for him. But I talked to experts in the Department of Justice, people who are trained in that. I`m confident I made the right decision. I serve at the pleasure of the President. If he wants to make a change, he can certainly do so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Jeff Sessions told the Associated Press today that he would stay on the job and that, quote, it hasn`t been my best week for my relationship with the President. The two have not spoken recently. He said, but I look forward to the opportunity to chat with him about it.
This week, Jeff Sessions` former colleagues in the Senate have been coming to his defense. Here`s what Senator Lindsey Graham said today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRAHAM: If Jeff Sessions is fired, there will be holy hell to pay. Any effort to go after Mueller could be the beginning of the end of the trump presidency unless Mueller did something wrong. This is not draining the swamp. What he`s interjecting is turning democracy upside down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Ron Klain and former Federal Prosecutor Paul Butler will join us after a break
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GRAHAM: I`m working on legislation that I will introduce next week with the Republicans and some Democrats. I think we get all the Democrats. I hope we get a good number of Republicans that say the following. A Special Counsel cannot be fired when they were impaneled to investigate the president or his team unless you have judicial review of the firing. Not just for Trump but for any future President. We need a check and balance here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now Paul Butler, law professor at Georgetown University and a former Federal Prosecutor and Ron Klain is back with us. Ron you served on the Senate Judiciary Committee where the bill he is talking about would have to originate. What do you think the prospects for a bill like that?
RON KLAIN, FMR. UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: You know it`s hard to say. You saw a lot of Senate Republicans speak out with personal loyalty to Jeff Sessions and outrage about the President`s humiliation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. But we haven`t seen the Republicans step up and defend the rule of law.
That`s really what`s at stake here. The President attacked Jeff Sessions for obeying the law and recusing himself. He attacked Jeff Sessions for not launching a politically based prosecution against Hillary Clinton. The Republicans are saying we love Jeff Sessions. Please keep Jeff Sessions around. But whether others will join Lindsey Graham to ensure that the rule of law prevails here I think sadly that`s still an open question.
O`DONNELL: And Paul Butler, we are seeing a real change of tone this week with republicans in the senate. And it all begins with the president attacking a former -- a recent republican senator. He -- once he attacked Jeff Sessions Republican Senators finally began to find their voice.
PAUL BUTLER, PROFESSOR: Yeah, so what President Trump values in an Attorney General is not someone committed to equal justice you had the raw or the rule of law. If that`s what he valued he would never have chosen Sessions in the first place. Sessions is going to take us back to the Stone Age in terms of the administration of justice.
Trump wants somebody who will obstruct the Russian investigation. He said that`s his big beef with Sessions that he is not playing -- he didn`t pledge that loyalty. Now he wants an Attorney General who will. If Sessions steps aside he gets to name an acting Attorney General who can get to the Special Counsel.
And it`s true, Lawrence we are hearing are from some Republicans but not the people we need to, the Congressional leaders, Ryan and McConnell. What they need to say is, Mr. Trump, if you fire or get rid of -- make him resign, Sessions, you will be drafting your own articles of impeachment. That`s obstruction of justice appear they`re not saying that. And so the concern is that he`ll do that -- Trump will make Sessions leave office and get to MUELLER and the Republicans won`t do a darn thing.
O`DONNELL: Ron, what I like about what Paul just said is he actually used legal language. Articles of impeachment, these -- and you heard Lindsey Graham today say you know if President Trump did that it would be holy hell. Well, you know that`s religious imagery there is nothing legal in that phrase.
That leaves me wonder What exactly with would you do Senator Graham? What does that mean?
KLAIN: Yes and what we`ve seen so far is what the Republicans have done at outrage after outrage is a big fat nothing. And that`s the concern. I think that Paul is raising and I agree with. And it is great that Senator Graham Says he will draft a bill that will have insulation from the removal of the Special Counsel. But it`s not clear which Republicans will support that and if they have the votes.
And in the meantime I think the spectacle of the Attorney General going on Fox TV to gravel for his job is a scary spectacle. the President called him weak. He called the President strong. And the question is will the Attorney General be cowed into launching some of these prosecutions that Trump wants against leakers trying to undermine the structure of the Justice Department in any way? I mean I think that`s the scary thing is Trump`s pressure on Sessions having an affect on how Sessions runs the Justice Department.
O`DONNELL: Paul you`ve worked with the justice department. what is your impression about what something like this would do to the operations of the justice department and of course we recognize we have never seen anything like it, and nothing like this happened when you were working there.
BUTLER: You know I was so proud to do public corruption prosecution for the Department of Justice. And some of my friends were skeptical. They say, oh, it was political but process it wasn`t at all. I served under Republican and Democratic Presidents, administrations. And we always said if we had the evidence we`d bring the case.
The President didn`t get involved. Often the Attorney General didn`t get involved either. It was career decisions. And now we`re seeing a politicization or a desire by the President of the United States to politicize the Department of Justice, the FBI. He does not understand -- the Attorney General does for the represent him. The Attorney General`s loyalty is to the American People.
O`DONNELL: Paul .Butler and Ron Klain, thank you both for joining us.
KLAIN: Thanks Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Tonight`s last word is next.
O`DONNELL: And once again, here is the man who has not yet officially been hired by the Whitehouse speaking for the Whitehouse today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, SENIOR ADVISOR TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Here is what`s going to happen.
EMILY MAITLIS, BRITISH JOURNALIST: The business side or the politics side of the inheritance. What part of Donald Trump? Many people in the U.K. don`t understand that.
SCARAMUCCI: There`s so many things about the President.
MAITLIS: He is a celebrity. He is a billionaire.
SCARAMUCCI: how about the Cheeseburgers, how about the pizza were eating
MAITLIS: Everyone eats Cheeseburgers and pizza what are you talking about.
SCARAMUCCI: you`re coming across a little bit elitist.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Remember when people working in communications in the Whitehouse new what the word elitist means. That`s tonight`s Last Word. The 11th hour with Brian Williams starts now.
BRIAN WILLIAMS, THE 11TH HOUR ANCHOR: Tonight the newly minted Whitehouse Communications Director unleash as profane and vulgar take down of his West Wing colleagues. He threatens to fire the entire communications staff and delivers a jaw dropping attack and Reince Priebus and Steve Bannon. Plus Jeff Sessions has flown to El Salvador on official business. And enjoys a rare day of no public