Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: August 11, 2017 Guest: Ned Price, Jonathan Alter, Betsy Woodruff, Asawin Suebsaeng, Jill Wine-Banks, Christina Greer, Albert Nardelli
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel. It always comes back to killing Obamacare. Like all roads lead back to that one same, exact place.
MADDOW: Well, when you`re within one vote, every vote is the most important vote in the world, you know.
REID: Yes. But I`ve got to say is Rick Perry as Homeland Security director blows my mind. My mine is blown.
MADDOW: Here`s the thing. Could you imagine Rick Perry as energy secretary?
MADDOW: Here`s been my theory. My theory has always been that now that they`ve got to get -- now that there`s nobody at Homeland Security --
MADDOW: -- they move Jeff Sessions --
MADDOW: -- from attorney general over to Homeland Security.
MADDOW: It`s his mission in life to deport as many people as possible, so he could act that out part of his fantasy.
REID: Right. Yes.
MADDOW: And then you have to appoint somebody else to be attorney general. And you know --
REID: Rick Perry?
MADDOW: Well, anybody who would promise to cast a -- to be askance toward Robert Mueller. Take a pick.
REID: Yes. No, I agree with your theory. That is, I agree with that theory wholeheartedly. Let`s hope it doesn`t happen. OK.
Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Have a great night. Thank you.
REID: Have a good night.
All right. Everyone, thanks for joining us. President Trump today spoke about North Korea, Vladimir Putin, and Angela Merkel. He threatened North Korea again, thanked Vladimir Putin again, and dismissed Angela Merkel again.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I hope that they are going to fully understand the gravity of what I said. And what I said is what I mean.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you see fire and fury and then today`s locked and loaded, it`s sort of like the president is branding this like a summer blockbuster sequel. It could have been a movie title.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s talking the way action heroes talk, not the way presidents talk who have the power of life and death in their hands.
TRUMP: If somebody else uttered the exact same words that I uttered, they`d say what a great statement. What a wonderful statement.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president is crazy like a fox. I think it`s going to get us in trouble. But I think he knows exactly what he`s doing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s gone from the low 40s to the mid-30s and the smaller that number gets the less Republicans are going to defend him against, say, the Russia investigation that Robert Mueller is pursuing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re specifically looking for tax records, foreign financial documents. And that`s sort of the fear, I think, that gets injected into the president when he sees it build around him, also facing these kinds of intrusion.
NICHOLAS BURNS, FORMER AMBASSADOR: We have a weak president. He`s an ignorant person. He doesn`t appear to want to adapt to the office.
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REID: It`s even believed by Trump friends and associates, like "Apprentice" alum Omarosa Manigault, that Donald Trump ran for president in large part because Barack Obama mocked him at the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2011.
And who can forget Trump`s inability to get past the difference in his and Obama`s inaugural crowd sizes?
Not surprisingly this week we learned that Trump is still measuring himself against Barack Obama. Six European diplomats told BuzzFeed news that Donald Trump`s foreign policy decisions are driven almost entirely by his predecessor.
"It`s his only real position," one European diplomat said. "He will ask, did Obama approve this? And if the answer is affirmative, he will say, we don`t. He won`t even want to listen to the arguments or have a debate. He is obsessed with Obama."
That obsession was on display today when Donald Trump was asked about South Korea.
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TRUMP: Certainly they feel more reassured with me than they do with other presidents from the past because nobody`s really done the job that they`re supposed to be doing, and that`s why we`re at this horrible situation right now.
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REID: And if that`s not enough, Donald Trump literally compared himself to President Obama this week, re-tweeting a totally unscientific poll that asked, who is a better president of the United States? President Trump or President Obama?
Up next, the consequences of Trump`s Obama obsession and what else European officials have to say about the 45th president.
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UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Have you ordered any change in our military readiness?
TRUMP: I don`t want to say. I don`t talk about that. You know that. I`m not one that says we`re attacking Mosul in four months.
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REID: Joining us now is Alberto Nardelli, the Europe editor for BuzzFeed News, who broke the story on what European diplomats really think about Donald Trump. And back with me, Christina Greer and Jonathan Alter.
So, Alberto, your story was -- first of all, congratulations on a great story. You quoted lots of diplomats.
ALBERTO NARDELLI, BUZZFEED EUROPE EDITOR: Thank you.
REID: One quote from your article, you said on one level, the official said Trump is something of a laughingstock among Europeans at international gatherings. One revealed that a small group of diplomats play a version of word Bingo whenever the president speaks because they consider his vocabulary to be so limited. Everything is great, very great, amazing, the diplomat said.
But I think it`s the Obama piece of it that caught a lot of people`s attention. What were people saying about his sort of weird orientation toward Obama? Is it envy? Is it jealousy? What is it?
NARDELLI: Well, they didn`t -- first of all, good evening. We didn`t talk a lot about the reasons behind Trump`s obsession with President Obama. Mostly the thing that a number of diplomats mention -- they consistently mention is this obsession that he has with Obama, that in a discussion, he will ask, did Obama agree with this? And if the answer to that question is affirmative, he will say, I don`t support this, and won`t even want to have a discussion about whatever the topic is. And how -- also consistent is how concerning this is for America`s European allies.
REID: And did you get the sense from talking with these diplomats that they`re concerned that Donald Trump is changing foreign policy from the things that Obama did, or that he just simply doesn`t want his name brought up?
NARDELLI: The concern is on various levels. So if you look, for example, at the Paris climate deal or the discussions now around the Iran deal, the risk of unraveling agreements that Obama signed up to and which American allies signed up to also, but also in terms of the bigger picture. If you take a topic like trade, for example, lots of Obama`s positions reflected positions America has held for decades. So the current administration is unpicking positions on big issues that America has always held. This is a deeper level of concern for European governments.
REID: And one more, to quote your article, "These diplomats are saying that Trump has no historical view. He`s only dealing with these issues now and seems to think the world started when he took office, according to one diplomat."
So essentially the idea that he`s sort of shallow in his knowledge of the world.
NARDELLI: Absolutely. I think the issue of not having basic understanding of key issues and a sense of history, so a lack of understanding, for example, around NATO`s presence in Europe and why there are historical reasons for that, but all of that is compounded by the fact that there is a sense amongst European governments that there`s chaos in the White House.
[22:50:16] The president isn`t surrounded by enough experts. There are lots of vacancies across the administration and from a European government point of view, they don`t know who to talk to. They don`t know who to engage with because, for example, you know, In Europe, we`ve odd leaders, it at least you had a prime minister called (INAUDIBLE) Berlusconi but one diplomat told me with Berlusconi we laughed at him, but then we knew who to talk to.
With Trump, they don`t know who to speak to.
NARDELLI: And his aides contradict each other and that compounds this problem in terms of the lack of basic knowledge of issues.
REID: Yes, indeed. Well, Alberto Nardelli, congrats on the story. Thank you very much for your time.
NARDELLI: Thank you.
REID: All right. Let`s bring in Jonathan and Christina.
You know, there was a Pew -- recent Pew poll that talked about confidence in the United States president, Trump versus Obama. And it isn`t even close. In Germany only 11 percent expressing confidence in Trump. 86 percent at the end of Obama`s term. France similar, 14 percent versus 84 percent. United Kingdom 22 percent versus 79 percent.
I mean, Christina, this is a president who is batting zero when it comes to our European allies.
GREER: Right. Clearly these stats won`t be in the folder that he gets every day.
REID: The good news folder.
GREER: The good news folder. You`re so great. The adulation folder. I mean, I think, you know, that point is well taken, though. When you have your 36-year-old daughter and son-in-law as your, you know, conciliatories speaking on your behalf and then zero foreign policy knowledge, zero domestic knowledge, when you look at his Cabinet, these are people who are, like, I like you, I had two conversations with you, let`s make you a Cabinet member.
You know, these are people who have no experience whatsoever. This is a really dangerous position. This is a position that, you know, Democrats warned us about before the election. And I think this obsession with Obama is, let`s just be clear. Donald Trump race-baited Obama for seven years, right? The birth certificate stuff. We`re not even going to talk about how he race-baited the Central Park Five.
He has a long history of this. He fundamentally thought this 45-year-old man black man can do it, of course I can do it.
REID: Yes. Yes.
GREER: And he is not a student of history. He`s not a student of politics. And again he`s not a public servant. So how can he walk into the office when he`s asking basic questions, as how big is your country?
REID: Yes. How many people have you got?
And Jonathan, you know, when Barack Obama came in, he was somebody who was not that experienced. How was he able to build these relationships that`s going to be quite good across Europe?
ALTER: Because he was willing to listen to them, to, you know, use their wisdom to learn. What`s really dangerous here is the Iran deal unraveling because then we`ll have two nuclear confrontations in the world at the same time. And dealing with Iran and North Korea simultaneously, if you think we`re scared now.
Wait until that thing unravels. So it`s extremely important that the people around him, not just in the White House and his Cabinet, but in the Senate, and they are starting to speak up, that they contain Trump. Remember, containment of the Soviet Union?
ALTER: The goal now is contain Trump.
ALTER: And we all have to figure out how to make that containment work.
REID: And we know that Congress have a lot of people to rein on the president, but if you just think about what Donald Trump has been able to do already, withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, which has been really bad for our relationships around the world, banning transgender military personnel, re-imposing the travel restrictions in Cuba, ordering increased deportation, lifting the ban on coal, leasing on federal lands, rolling back waterways protections, tougher sentencing with drug offenders.
I mean, he`s already having a negative impact and -- because he wants to reverse the things Obama did.
GREER: And he`s trying to even take away monuments and, you know, sort of like protected land. I mean, here`s the thing. The beauty of the Constitution is that there are trap doors built in. The founding fathers anticipated a Donald Trump. And so they -- in article I, II, and III of the Constitution, they built in all these trap doors to make sure, if we got a Donald Trump, Congress has to step up and do their part. The courts have to step up and do their part.
What we`re seeing, though, is a breakdown in Congress actually stepping down to put on these parameters to the president. I mean, the president realistically has the veto power and the executive order. Everything else, Congress actually has the power to really rein this in. They`ve got the power of the purse. So if he says he wants to do certain things, they can either not fund it or they can start passing some real -- you know, putting together some real laws to make sure that --
ALTER: How much control he has over the nuclear codes.
REID: Yes. And they certainly --
ALTER: To make it harder for him to start a war.
REID: They certainly weren`t shy when Obama was president, just saying.
GREER: There we go.
REID: Jonathan Alter and Christina Greer, thank you very much.
Tonight`s "LAST WORD" is next.
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[22:58:28] MICHAEL CHE, "WEEKEND UPDATE": President Trump announced his support for a new immigration policy that would favor people who speak English and have higher education or well-paying job offers.
Well-paying job offers? Damn, when did the Statue of Liberty get so bougier? She used to be desperate like, send me your poor, your tired, anybody, I just need a man, lord. Now she`s like, tend to like, he`s got to be rich and smart and light-skinned and 6`4".
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REID: "Saturday Night Live" is off for the summer but we did get a special mid-summer edition of "Weekend Update" and most of it was about the president and the first family.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks for having us, Colin.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m Eric.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know that. Thanks for letting us come here and talk about some of the amazing things my father is doing. ISIS is on the ropes. The border has never been more secure. And the story of the summer --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you met with the Russians?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. That`s our surging economy. No one cares about my meeting with the Russians anymore.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But last week, you got some peanuts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I told you is a subpoena. Not some peanuts.
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REID: That`s tonight`s LAST WORD. Be sure to join me tomorrow and every weekend morning for "AM JOY.`
The "11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS" is next.