Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: August 3, 2017 Guest: Ana Marie Cox, Mieke Eoyang, Ron Klain
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Ladies and gentlemen, as you --
JOY REID, MSNBC: LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good evening Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Good evening, Rachel -- Rachel, wow, there`s the slip --
REID: That is actually an honor, I think --
O`DONNELL: You can see --
You can see what a robot we`re dealing with here at 10:00 p.m. Joy Reid, ladies and gentlemen, as you well know, been here all week.
Joy, grand jury night, this is one of the really big landmarks here. When --
REID: Yes --
O`DONNELL: When we`re looking back over this and we`re looking over the timeline, the day the grand jury story breaks is going to be one of those big moments in the history of this.
REID: I concur, and I know it`s right up your alley, so I can`t wait to see what you have to say about it tonight --
O`DONNELL: Yes, we`ve got to get right to it, thank you, Joy --
REID: Have a good one.
O`DONNELL: Special prosecutor Robert Mueller apparently believes that a crime or crimes may have been committed by Donald Trump or Donald Trump Jr. or Jared Kushner or Michael Flynn or Paul Manafort or any and all of those people or other people working in and around the Trump campaign for president.
And that is why as the "Wall Street Journal" is reporting, the special prosecutor is now working with a grand jury to hear evidence about his investigation.
That grand jury has subpoena power. The special prosecutor does not. The special prosecutor can ask a grand jury to issue subpoenas for documents that he would like to examine.
The special prosecutor can ask a grand jury to issue subpoenas for witnesses to come in and testify to that grand jury under oath.
It is the grand jury that technically wields those powers, but they always do so under the guidance of a prosecutor whose requests grand juries usually follow routinely.
This grand jury is the single biggest threat ever faced by Donald Trump or anyone else named Trump or married to a Trump.
When Jared Kushner is subpoenaed to testify to the grand jury, as he surely will be, he will be testifying under oath. When Donald Trump Jr. is subpoenaed to testify to the grand jury, he will be testifying under oath.
And when Donald Trump becomes the second president of the United States to be subpoenaed to testify to a grand jury in an investigation targeting him, he will be forced to testify under oath.
People are not themselves when they are subject to an intense criminal investigation and a grand jury. No one -- no one is prepared for that.
No one is used to it. Some people make the worst mistakes of their lives under that pressure. Otherwise smart people can make the worst mistakes of their lives under that pressure.
Not smart people are guaranteed to make mistakes under that pressure. President Bill Clinton, the first and only president to be forced to testify to a grand jury under oath did the stupidest thing he`s ever done in his life.
He committed perjury testifying to that grand jury. He knows it was the stupidest thing he`s ever done in his life, stupider even than the conduct that he was testifying about.
And I`m sure he wishes he could have that moment back, but you don`t get do-overs with grand juries.
You have one chance to tell a grand jury the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. And when you go into a grand jury with something to hide, you`re probably going to make a mistake, and it will probably be a big one, and it will probably change the course of your life, the course of your presidency.
Robert Mueller is going to give President Trump one chance to tell the truth to a grand jury. Donald Trump will have one chance to do the thing that he finds most difficult to do, tell the truth.
The only president in history who lies about his inauguration crowd size and is caught publicly lying every single day of his presidency, that president is going to be given one chance by the best prosecutors in the country to tell the truth.
Donald Trump has never had a stronger incentive to fire Robert Mueller than he does now. This is the strongest message yet that Robert Mueller is coming at Donald Trump or the Trump White House or the Trump campaign in a deadly serious criminal investigation in which he already suspects that crimes may have been committed.
But Donald Trump does not have one ally in Washington who is prepared to help him in any way with Robert Mueller`s criminal investigation.
He may have some allies left on the congressional committees that are also running investigations. But today, Mitch McConnell`s Republican United States Senate slammed the door on any possibility of President Trump firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions and replacing him with a recess appointment during the Senate`s August recess.
A recess appointment allows the president to install an attorney general without a confirmation hearing or a confirmation vote.
And so today, when Mitch McConnell closed down Senate business and sent everyone home on what looks like the August recess, he technically left the Senate in what they call pro forma session specifically so that no recess appointment can be made during the Senate`s August recess which is technically not a recess.
Thanks to the Republican Majority leader who has slammed the door on the Republican president`s possibility of installing a new attorney general through a recess appointment and then having that attorney general fire Robert Mueller and shut down that investigation and shut down that grand jury.
Mitch McConnell made sure that that grand jury will live through the August recess and beyond. Also in the Senate today, two different bipartisan bills were introduced with Democrat and Republican sponsors of each one that would protect special prosecutor Robert Mueller from any attempt to fire him.
We have an indication tonight that Robert Mueller`s grand jury is going to hear testimony from a possible group of witnesses that have never testified to a grand jury before.
"Vox" is reporting that after President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, quote, "acting director of the FBI Andrew McCabe told several of his highest ranking managers of the bureau they should consider themselves possible witnesses in any investigation into whether President Trump engaged in obstruction of justice."
Many grand juries over many years have heard many FBI agents testify as investigators only, presenting their findings as investigators to the grand jury.
They have never heard high-ranking managers of the FBI testify as witnesses to a possible crime committed by the president of the United States.
Usually, the target of an investigation testifies last to a grand jury. By that time, the grand jury knows more about the case than the witness does.
President Trump, when he testifies, will be wondering what all those high- ranking managers at the FBI told this grand jury.
Donald Trump will be alone in that room. This is unlike anything else you ever go through as a possible witness or defendant in a criminal investigation. Alone in the room.
No lawyers. No Trump lawyers will be allowed in that grand jury room. Donald Trump will be in that room alone.
No one can help Donald Trump in that room. It is unlike any room he`s ever been in, in his life. And in that room, all alone, Donald Trump may have to make a choice, a historic choice.
He may, on the advice of his lawyers, have to become the first president in history who takes the Fifth Amendment when he testifies to a grand jury.
Joining us now, Mieke Eoyang; former House Intelligence Committee staff member and vice president for the National Security Program at the Third Way.
Also with us, Ron Klain; former chief of staff to Vice Presidents Joe Biden and Al Gore and a former senior aide to President Obama.
He`s also a former chief counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and he was chief of staff to Attorney General Janet Reno.
And also with us, Alex Whiting; a former assistant U.S. attorney and prosecutor and a Professor of Practice at the Harvard Law School.
Ron Klain, I just want to go to you on this matter of a president in a grand jury, and that possibility now looms tonight very clearly given what this investigation is about.
And imagine a scenario in this grand jury whereas a lawyer representing --
This president, who you know has this tendency to lie about everything, who has a tendency to lie about tiny things, you know that you couldn`t possibly send a client in there at a greater risk of a perjury charge than Donald Trump just because of his habit of lying about anything.
Do you send him in there with a little index card that he reads for every question, saying he invokes his rights under the Fifth Amendment not to incriminate himself?
RON KLAIN, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO JOE BIDEN & AL GORE: It`s hard to know where this ends and it`s hard to know what happens on that fateful day and there`s a lot that will happen between now and then.
But we do know that if Donald Trump`s presidency ends prematurely due to one of three "Is", impeachment, indictment or ignominious resignation, it will be because of the fourth "I" we heard about today.
Impaneling, the impaneling of this grand jury, there is nothing scarier to Donald Trump than having to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth with no help, no lawyer to cough in the background, wave signs, do anything to wave him off.
The horrible lying he will do. And so you just can`t imagine any ending for this that is in any way, shape or form the preservation of the Trump presidency after he goes into that grand jury room.
O`DONNELL: Alex Whiting, talk about the grand jury room and how it is unlike any other judicial procedure that a witness can be in.
ALEX WHITING, PROFESSOR OF PRACTICE, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL: So as you said, Lawrence, what makes it different is as a witness and as a potential target in some cases, you are alone in the room.
There`s the prosecutor, the court reporter transcribing every word you say and the grand jurors, but you are not allowed to have your lawyer there, you can take breaks to go talk to your lawyer outside.
But you are alone facing the questioning of the prosecutor and the grand jury. And everything you say is transcribed and is under oath.
And as you say -- as you said in your opening, you do not know what other witnesses have said, what other documents have revealed.
You do not know what the prosecutor knows, and that puts you in a very difficult position. Puts a lot of pressure on you to tell the truth because that`s your -- that is your best defense is to tell the truth.
And as you say, that may be difficult if Donald Trump goes into that grand jury room.
O`DONNELL: And then, Alex, just one more thing about the grand jury. Tell us what you think it means in this investigation.
I mean, from -- let`s look at it from the Trump perspective. And what is the most optimistic reading of what this grand jury means if you`re looking at it as one of Donald Trump`s lawyers?
What would be the optimistic reading you`d give to the president about it?
WHITING: So the optimistic reading is this. Look, it`s obviously an important development. It`s significant for the reasons that you`ve said.
But it was also inevitable that there would be a grand jury impaneled in this investigation. It`s impossible to do a complex federal investigation without a grand jury because it is only through a grand jury that you can compel testimony and documents.
You can subpoena them. You are not -- you can`t do it without the grand jury. So in an investigation like this, you are going to need to have a grand jury.
It was going to happen, and so the optimistic reading of Trump`s lawyers is, look, this is a step, but it does not necessarily mean that anybody is going to be charged, that we`re going to get to anywhere.
And it`s very -- and it`s possible -- I don`t know if it`s very possible, but it`s possible that at the end of the grand jury investigation, there will be no charges.
O`DONNELL: And the counter to that, Mieke, the other side of that coin is, the last very high profile Washington investigation was of Hillary Clinton, and there was no grand jury because Hillary Clinton cooperated.
She voluntarily talked to the FBI, submitted to that, and they were able to come to a finding that there was no crime here that was prosecutable in what they found, and they`re able to do that without a grand jury.
MIEKE EOYANG, VICE PRESIDENT, NATIONAL SECURITY PROGRAM, THIRD WAY: That`s right, but what we`re talking about here in contrast to what the investigation was of Hillary Clinton was, in Hillary Clinton`s case, it was whether or not there was some kind of unintentional or intentional mishandling of classified information based on e-mails, which is a very complicated subject.
And they found not that there was any intention there. But with Donald Trump, we have a much more complicated situation.
We have law enforcement officials who may be called as witnesses to talk about Donald Trump firing the director of the FBI because, as he said in his own words, he was very concerned and taking a lot of heat in this Russia investigation.
There`s a lot of public record out there that suggests that we really have a very serious case for obstruction of justice.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what the president said about this investigation to his big rally audience tonight in West Virginia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Russia story is a total fabrication. It`s just an excuse for the greatest loss in the history of American politics. That`s all it is.
Most people know there were no Russians in our campaign. There never were. We didn`t win because of Russia, we won because of you.
That I can tell you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Ron Klain, there`s an interesting dynamic going on now. There is a grand jury, he -- they are out there.
They are news consumers. Now, they`ve been asked to try to avoid consuming news about this, but it`s pretty hard to do, to avoid consuming it.
At some point, these grand jury members are going to hear the president say that what they`re working on is a complete fabrication.
It`s fake, and there`s nothing there. What effect does that have on grand jurors who think they`re working on something important?
KLAIN: Yes, I mean, I think your question implies the answer, which is, it`s going to further erode Trump`s credibility on that day when he has to go before the grand jury.
I mean, they`re watching -- to the extent they are violating their directions and watching TV, they`re watching the president lie every day on television.
That`s not going to be helpful for his credibility when he goes in there. And, you know, Trump will be his own worst enemy.
I mean, after all, this is a man who essentially confessed to obstruction of justice in response to questioning by Lester Holt on television.
And with all due respect to Lester Holt, he is far less intimidating than a federal grand jury.
O`DONNELL: Oh, I don`t know, Ron --
KLAIN: And so, you know --
O`DONNELL: I`ve been around Lester Holt --
I got to tell you.
KLAIN: But look, the bottom line is, he is a danger to himself. Obviously, a danger to the country but a danger to himself when he`s out there every day lying.
He said there were no Russians in the Trump campaign. We know there were Russians in Trump Tower.
His son e-mailed about Russians in Trump Tower. So he`s not going to get away with this lying. and that lying to the extent it bleeds into the grand jury room totally undercuts whatever shred of credibility the man has left.
O`DONNELL: One of President Trump`s lawyers Ty Cobb issued a statement tonight, saying, about this grand jury, saying "we favor anything that accelerates Mr. Mueller`s work and we remain committed to cooperating -- to fully cooperating.
Mr. Comey told the president at least three times that he`s not under investigation, and we`ve heard nothing that would change that.
The only concern at the White House is that this be done fast and fairly. And Alex Whiting, we have indeed heard things that would change that since Mr. Comey had those conversations with the president.
The president fired him, and we have every reason to believe that part of the investigation now is about the firing of James Comey, which comes after the fact of those statements, and is an investigation about possible obstruction of justice by the president.
WHITING: Right, there`s no question about that, and the White House knows that. Comey, in his testimony, made it very clear that he already had started thinking about that, about possible obstruction.
And certainly after Comey was fired, it was clear that Mueller was taking that up. Comey turned over his memos to Mueller.
There is absolutely no question that Mueller is going to be looking at all the angles of the possible obstruction, and as Mieke said, will be interviewing law enforcement officers to corroborate that.
It`s not a -- this is not a he said/he said case because there is a lot of corroboration of Robert Mueller -- of -- sorry, of James Comey`s testimony.
O`DONNELL: Yes, "Vox" is reporting tonight that as many as ten FBI officials might be involved as witnesses including Comey.
As many as ten and possibly more of the nation`s most senior law enforcement officials are likely to be questioned as part of the investigation into whether Trump committed obstruction of justice according to two government investigators with firsthand knowledge of the matter.
And Mieke, that is something we have never seen before.
EOYANG: That`s correct. This is really very stunning. When you think about how many law enforcement officials are involved in this, it`s not just about getting rid of Comey.
He had these conversations with his entire senior staff, there are a number of officials who had contemporaneous conversations with Comey, so it`s not like he`s making up a story after the fact or just for his congressional testimony.
This is really troubling for Donald Trump because all of these law enforcement officials will have unimpeachable integrity, and they will go before the grand jury and tell them exactly what they heard.
O`DONNELL: Alex, quickly before we go, when you have a client -- different clients have to be handled differently in some situations.
Criminal defense lawyers have difficult decisions to make about do I put this client on the stand. And some of them you can`t put on the stand, not so much because of the evidence but because of the witness.
The witness will be a very bad witness. Donald Trump strikes me as one of those people, and as his lawyer sending him into the grand jury, it`s just hard to imagine sending him in with anything other than one of those little index cards with the Fifth Amendment printed on it.
WHITING: I agree. There is -- it`s impossible to imagine how you would keep him under control, how you could guide him, how you could instruct him to kind of follow clear answers and answer truthfully.
And I think that we see that his strategy is to try to turn the tables on the investigation and to attack it. And what I would anticipate is that he would take the Fifth Amendment and continue to attack the investigation as illegitimate and try to block it at every turn as he has on several occasions in the past.
So I think he`ll continue that strategy.
O`DONNELL: Alex Whiting, thank you for joining us, Mieke Eoyang --
WHITING: Thank you --
O`DONNELL: Please stay with us. Coming up, more breaking news, President Trump lashed out tonight at special prosecutor Robert Mueller in the Russia investigation.
Wait until you hear more of what he had to say about that at the rally in West Virginia tonight. And tonight, transcripts of the president`s phone calls leaked today to "The Washington Post" show that he is worried about only one thing, and that is not governing.
That is not jobs. That is not Mexico paying for the wall, he is only worried about appearing to be weak, and at one point in one of the phone calls says that he would look like a dope, that`s coming up.
O`DONNELL: In West Virginia tonight, President Trump talked about special counsel Robert Mueller`s investigation, which now includes a grand jury empowered to subpoena the president to testify under oath.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: What the prosecutor should be looking at are Hillary Clinton`s 33,000 deleted e-mails, and they should be looking at the paid Russian speeches and the owned Russian companies or let them look at the uranium she sold that is now in the hands of very angry Russians.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Evan McMullin; former CIA operative who previously served as chief policy director in the House of Representatives on the Republican side.
He`s also co-founder of Stand Up Republic. Also with us, Jennifer Rubin; an opinion writer for "The Washington Post".
And Evan, where to begin on what he said in West Virginia tonight? Hillary Clinton`s never sold uranium to anyone, it could be in there.
But no one in that crowd seems to know it. This president now is under a level of investigation that we have not seen on a level of seriousness that we have not seen since the Nixon administration.
EVAN MCMULLIN, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: Absolutely, and I think he`s under more obviously pressure than ever, especially today with the news about the grand jury.
And he is lashing out. And I think what you heard tonight was pure desperation. I also was alarmed to hear him try to politicize the investigation more so than I think he`s even done in the past, alleging that the investigation was an affront or demeaning to the constitution, to the will of the American people.
That starts to get into a very dangerous territory, and I think this is something that we`ll have to watch very closely, but I`m alarmed.
O`DONNELL: And Jennifer, you have the president insulting the special prosecutor, saying he`s doing it -- basically he`s doing a terrible job, shouldn`t be investigating any of this stuff that is actually -- that actually are the instructions of the special prosecutor specifically to investigate.
But that he should be investigating things that he is not instructed to investigate like the Hillary Clinton matter, which was already investigated.
JENNIFER RUBIN, OPINION WRITER, WASHINGTON POST: Yes, I seem to remember a year-long investigation, and when he finally praised actually James Comey back when he liked James Comey who said a lot of things about Hillary Clinton`s sloppiness with regard to e-mail.
So this is kind of dream land for the base, the low information voters that he thrives on. It`s distraction. It`s really politically distasteful to try to get the prosecution to go after a former political opponent.
This is what they do in Venezuela and other banana republics. But I think Evan is exactly right. He`s panicked. Somewhere along the line, someone is going to tell him that he has to go into that grand jury room without a lawyer.
Even if he goes in with a note stapled to his forehead, take the Fifth Amendment, does anyone think that he`ll resist the urge, that he won`t be pulled into a discussion?
He`s got to think about going into that grand jury, being questioned by people who have all of the evidence, by people who know what other people have testified to.
And if he thinks about it for even a little bit, I think he`s going to be mighty concerned.
O`DONNELL: He gave what might be a little preview of his grand jury testimony tonight in West Virginia, which might be -- sound something like, do you see any Russians with me now?
RUBIN: Yes --
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what he said in West Virginia about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Have you seen any Russians in West Virginia or Ohio or Pennsylvania? Are there any Russians here tonight? Any Russians?
They can`t beat us at the voting booths, so they`re trying to cheat you out of the future and the future that you want.
They`re trying to cheat you out of the leadership you want with a fake story that is demeaning to all of us, and most importantly, demeaning to our country and demeaning to our constitution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Evan, you saw he was glued to the teleprompter for every word of that, so the Trump speech writers put that in his speech, saying that they are doing this.
Now, it`s Robert Mueller who is doing this. So the "they" is Robert Mueller, it`s not Democratic Party, there`s no Democrats involved.
That`s not what this is, it`s a special prosecutor. And he is saying that Robert Mueller is trying to cheat you out of the leadership that you want.
MCMULLIN: Absolutely, he`s painting this as an affront to their will, to the democratic constitutional will of the American people, which it very much isn`t.
This is the U.S. government, its powers divided, executing a check on the president, who may be guilty of some very serious crimes or those close to him.
That`s what`s happening, but he is doing something that is, again, potentially very dangerous in which he`s inspiring and motivating his base to think of this investigation as an affront to them rather than a protection of their most basic rights.
O`DONNELL: I think there might have been one hint in the speech tonight about him reaching for his power to pardon when the time comes in this matter.
Let`s listen to what he said about the final determination.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I just hope the final determination is a truly honest one, which is what the millions of people who gave us our big win in November deserve and what all Americans who want a better future want and deserve.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Jennifer, again, the speechwriters put every word of that in the teleprompter and for a president who has been constantly telling his audiences that he`s the only one who tells the truth and everybody else is lying.
Whether it`s special prosecutors or the news media or Democrats, it`s not hard to imagine the day where this president stands up in front of those people and says, this special prosecutor has not reached an honest determination, and I am pardoning everyone who is facing charges or potential charges in this case.
RUBIN: I think there are two things to come -- to keep in mind. One is that the Republicans in Congress are not in the same place they were several months ago.
They have come to the rescue of Jeff Sessions. They have warned him, there`s legislation that`s been submitted so far that would impede his ability to fire Mueller.
So I think these people are no longer patsies. And by the way, you`ll notice that now the standard is no Russians in the campaign, I thought it was --
O`DONNELL: Yes --
RUBIN: No collusion.
O`DONNELL: Right, yes -- no, we`re past that. Jennifer Rubin, Evan McMullin, thank you both for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.
MCMULLIN: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, President Trump says that the wall with Mexico is not important, but he only said that to the president of Mexico.
O`DONNELL: Thanks to Jared Kushner -- and I really am grateful for this. Thanks to Jared Kushner, who the president believes is the smartest person in the White House, we now have a transcript of President Trump`s conversation with the president of Mexico that proves Donald Trump lies about what he really thinks about Mexico paying for the Trump wall on our southern border.
Jared Kushner thought it would be a good idea for his father-in-law to get on the phone with the president of Mexico. It was a terrible idea as the transcript shows. But we should all be grateful to Jared Kushner for arranging this phone call that we now have, this stunning transcript leaked by the Trump White House three days after General John Kelly became the Chief of Staff of that White House in a move targeted specifically to stop leaks like this.
In the transcript, the president of Mexico says exactly what you expect he would say. We find this completely unacceptable for Mexicans to pay for the wall that you are thinking of building. President Trump desperately tries to get the president of Mexico to simply stop talking about the wall, and President Trump promises that he, in turn, will stop talking about the wall. Trump said, if you`re going to say that Mexico is not going to pay for the wall, then I do not want to meet with you guys anymore because I cannot live with that.
I am willing to say that we will work it out, but that means it will come out in the wash, and that is okay. But you cannot say anymore that the United States is going to pay for the wall. I am just going to say that we are working it out. Believe it or not, this is the least important thing that we are talking about. But politically this might be the most important. Every Trump voter was told that the most important thing with Mexico was Mexico paying for the wall, a complete lie.
The Mexican president says, my position has been and will continue to be very firm, saying that Mexico cannot pay for that wall, to which Donald Trump immediately says, but you cannot say that to the press. The press is going to go with that, and I cannot live with that. Donald Trump thinks it`s perfectly reasonable for the Mexican president to tell him he`s not going to pay for the wall. Donald Trump knows Mexico won`t pay for the wall.
He just doesn`t want the president of Mexico to tell Trump voters that he`s not going to pay for the wall. President Trump then spends considerable time demonstrating how little he understands about the American Government. He tries to threaten the president of Mexico with taxes. Trump said I am very happy to not have any more meetings and just put a border tax on. The president of Mexico is no doubt sitting there thinking what we all know, which is that congress is never going to pass that.
So Donald Trump says I have been given as president tremendous taxation powers for trade and for other reasons, far greater than anybody understands. The powers of taxation are tremendous for the president of the United States, and if you study that, you will see what I mean. The president of Mexico, of course, has already studied that and knows that the president of the United States has no such power.
And so the tough guy who was going to push around the president of Mexico in his phone call, is the weak guy issuing empty threats that the president of Mexico knows are empty and the tough guy is begging, begging, begging the president of Mexico to just please stop talking about the wall. NAFTA is a three-country agreement. Mexico, the United States, and Canada and when the president of Mexico mentioned Canada, president trump said, Canada is no problem.
Do not worry about Canada. Do not even think about them. We have had a very fair relationship with Canada. We do not have to worry about Canada. We do not even think about them. Don`t even think about Canada except when President Trump goes to a Canadian border state, Wisconsin, and lies to the voters there about Canada.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In Canada, some very unfair things have happened to our dairy farmers and others. What`s happened to you is very, very unfair. It`s another typical one-sided deal against the United States, and it`s not going to be happening for long.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Canada is no problem. Do not worry about Canada. Don`t even think about them. Up next, what Donald Trump said about the wall tonight in West Virginia, Ana Marie Cox will join our discussion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: In order to stop the drugs, gangs, and traffickers, we are building a wall on the southern border.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: But who`s going to pay for it? Joining us now, Mieke Eoyang, Former House Intelligence Committee Staff Member and vice president for National Security Program, Third Way and Ana Marie Cox, contributor to "The New York Times" magazine and host of the podcast, With Friends Like These. And I guess for some reason, Ana, they didn`t chant about Mexico paying for the wall tonight, and Donald Trump didn`t lead that chant.
ANA MARIE COX, NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE CONTRIBUTOR: Yes.
O`DONNELL: I don`t know if they`d read "The Washington Post" transcript in West Virginia yet, where he says, it`s the least important thing. And of course you`re not going to pay for it.
COX: No, you know -- you haven`t mentioned one of the things that really struck me about the transcript which is when he says he won New Hampshire - -
COX: Because it`s a drug-infested den. He didn`t win New Hampshire. Let`s start with that, right? And number two, this very unkind way to talk about one of the leading crisis in our country, which is the opioid epidemic, where you might be shocked to hear this, but the drugs that are doing the most damage in New Hampshire aren`t coming from Mexico. They`re coming via China, the -- the U.S. Postal service.
So the amount of things that Trump can get wrong in one sentence, I think that`s one the places he still continues to impress and amaze me. You`d think that he could -- you think that number would reduce somehow, but it`s growing, and it is impressive.
O`DONNELL: Yes. Mieke, there are so many ways to talk about these transcripts including the comedic, utter incoherence of the president of the United States, the inconsistency, the fact that he`s clearly lying to his audiences about the wall and Mexico paying for it. But there`s also this government to government conduct that we see in both this call and the Australian Prime Minister`s call, which we`ll talk about in a minute, the transcript being leaked.
That is -- it is a stunning level of imbalance where the Mexican president is consistent. He`s rational. Every sentence makes sense. The same thing with the Australian prime minister. And then there`s the president of the United States on the other end of the phone.
MIEKE EOYANG, VICE PRESIDENT FOR NATIONAL SECURITY PROGRAM THIRD WAY: It is really stunning. These calls between heads of state are very heavily scripted. They`re negotiated out in advance by staff. The heads of state are briefed on what they can talk about, what they can`t talk about. They`re given extensive notes about what the contours of the conversation will be, and it`s clear from these conversations that this president, President Trump, has not paid attention to any of that.
In fact, the other heads of state keep saying, this isn`t what we agreed that we were going to talk about. I don`t know what this proposal is that you`re bringing up. It is just stunning to bring these kinds of things on another head of state in the last minute.
O`DONNELL: And to look at this, Ana, and ponder the future Trump grand jury transcript, Mieke is so right about how the presidents are really scripted on this, briefed heavily. They have some material in front of them that they can consult. They`re supposed to stay in a certain zone. Now you`re Trump`s lawyer, and you`re sending him into a grand jury.
O`DONNELL: How can you -- how can you let him do anything but take the fifth amendment when you read transcripts like this?
COX: Well, you know, because it`s funny. Mieke was saying he doesn`t seem to pay attention to the briefing, right?
COX: He doesn`t pay attention to the things the other person is saying.
COX: Like the transcript with Turnbull is crazy-making because Turnbull keeps explaining how the whole we don`t accept people via boat, and he keeps on charging ahead with this misconception that these people are in prison, whatever. I agree this bodes really well for whoever is doing the prosecution. And as far as Trump`s own lawyers, I mean he`s not going to pay them anyway, so --
O`DONNELL: Yes and he`s not. And, Mieke, the one thing -- the one thing that Donald Trump wanted to get out of the President of Mexico was please stop talking about the wall. And then they do a little bit of a discussion about what statement they will issue about their phone call after the phone call, and the President of Mexico agrees to certain elements of the statement. But in his statement, when the President of Mexico releases his statement, he says specifically, we will not pay for the wall much to the President of the United States surprise.
EOYANG: This shows that Donald Trump is up against reality and he can`t just fabricate his way into a situation that he wants. Other people have a vote.
O`DONNELL: Ana Marie Cox, Mieke Eoyang, thank you both for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.
COX: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, Donald Trump confesses to the Australian Prime Minister that he worries, for some reason worries about looking like a dope. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: From a governing perspective, the leak of transcripts of President Trump`s calls, phone calls today leaked to the Washington Post are the most illuminating leaks yet about how President Trump does his job. And as expected he does his job with relentless incompetence, fleeting comprehension of what is being discussed, which leaves him in never ending fear of looking weak, looking like a dope as he told Malcolm Turnbull, the Prime Minister of Australia.
The Prime Minister Turnbull told Jared Kushner what he was going to talk about before the phone call with President Trump. So there is no excuse for Trump`s failure to understand so much of what Turnbull had to say before Donald Trump was inaugurated the Australian Government had reached an agreement with the American Government that the United States would accept refugees then held on two islands off of Australia.
President Trump`s reaction to that was, boy, that will make us look awfully bad. Here I am calling for a ban where I am not letting anybody in and we take 2000 people really it looks like 2000 people that are Australia does not want. Turnbull repeatedly pointed out to the President that the agreement was for 1,250 people not 2000 then Turnbull said this.
Every individual is subject to your vetting. You can decide to take them or to not take them after vetting. You can decide to take 1,000 or 100. Entirely up to you.
The obligation is to only go through the process. Then Donald Trump could not understand why Australia wouldn`t take the refugees themselves. Turnbull repeatedly explained that Australia cannot accept refugees who arrive by boat because that only encouraging massive human trafficking in the region and extremely dangerous attempts to reach Australia by boat. So Australia needs the world around them to know that you will never be allowed in if you arrive by boat.
Turnbull had to explain that to Donald Trump over and over again. Australia in turn had to agree. And their agreement with the Obama Administration to take in some refugees the United States didn`t want to accept here. Donald Trump said, this is going to kill me. I am the world`s greatest person that does not want to let people into the country.
And now I am agreeing to take 2000 people. And I agree I can vet them but that puts me in a bad position. It makes me look so bad process. I hate taking these people. I guarantee you they are bad.
That is why they are in prison right now. They are not going to be wonderful people who go on to work for the local milk people. For all other English speakers local milk people are dairy farmers or dairies and the refugees were not from in prison. The Prime Minister Turnbull repeatedly explained that.
And he said I think this will make you look like a man who stands by the commitments of the United States. It shows you are committed. And President Trump cut him off before he could finish. That sentence and said OK this shows me to be a dope.
We`ll have more of the conversation between the Prime Minister of Australia and the self-described dope after this break.
O`DONNELL: Here is one more bit of that phone call between President Trump and the Prime Minister of Australia on the issue of accepting refugees in the United States. Trump says, can Australia give me a guarantee if we have any problems, you know that is what they said about the Boston Bombers they said they were wonderful young men.
Turnbull says they were Russians. They were not from any of these countries. Then Trump stays I will be seen as weak and ineffective leader in my first week by these people. This is a killer.
Ron Klain back with us and Ron we see the President is obsessed with how he will look weak if he simply goes through on what the previous Whitehouse had agreed to an international agreement with Australia.
RON KLAIN, MSNBC CONTROBUTOR: Ye. The whole call was a fruit salad of crazy Lawrence. But it`s not just the previous administration that agreed. The calls begins with Turnbull telling him he talked to Vice President Pence the day before and Vice President Pence said the trump administration would honor the agreement. So you can only imagine how Turnbull must have thought the entire conversation was. And along the way we have the great Donald Trump hits.
The quote you`ve read, the idea that these people aren`t going to come and be local milk people whatever that means. The idea that Putin had to be a better call with Putin. He liked Putin more. I mean all you can take out is two things. One you got to hope that John Kelly keeps a drawer full of good healthy snacks in the Oval Office because it`s clear that Donald Trump is gassed at 5:00 in the afternoon and can`t conduct business at 5:00 P.M.
And secondly there`s the scary point that some day the call won`t be a friendly country on a set piece pre-agreed piece of business but a real crisis with adversary and if this is what the President says in the call, that`s just a horrifying thought.
O`DONNELL: Ron, talk about the leaks. I`ve never seen transcripts of presidential phone calls to other heads of state. I`ve never seen them leaked. Who has access to these who is in a position to do this for this to happen on the third day of General Kelly`s new regime of no leaks in the Whitehouse? These are in many ways the most stunning leaked documents out of the Whitehouse we have seen.
KLAIN: Well, you know, the transcripts like this are circulated to a number of professionals but tightly held. I mean, you know, it may sound conspiratorial like I wonder if General Kelly is trying to with it get the bad stuff out as early as possible, clear the decks, you know, try to have a fresh slate for the tenure at the Whitehouse because you can`t think of anything that reflects more poorly on the President than this transcript and the one you were talking about before with President Prieto. It`s just -- these are just embarrassment to our country, an embarrassment to all the excellent local milk people out there listening.
O`DONNELL: And there`s is another thing to consider which is Mexico has its own transcript of the phone call they have not leaked it. And it`s filled with damaging information about President Trump, including that he doesn`t really believe in this whole pay for the wall bit but Mexico didn`t do the damage this came from the his own Whitehouse.
KLAIN: Yes, absolutely And obviously also him trying to induce the President of Mexico into lying about the conversation. What kind of a President does that set for dealing with foreign leaders? As you said just the unbelievable obsession with his own image, not the interest of the United States, but Donald Trump`s PR appeal. That`s his singular interest in the two phone calls.
O`DONNELL: Ron Klain`s gets tonight`s last word. Thanks Ron
KLAIN: Thanks Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: there is a huge amount of breaking news today. We covered as much as we could.