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The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 9/1/17 Inside IRS Criminal investigation unit

Guests: David Frum, Jed Shugerman, Neera Tanden, Martin Sheil, Maria Teresa Kumar, Marielena Hincapie


Guest: David Frum, Jed Shugerman, Neera Tanden, Martin Sheil, Maria Teresa Kumar, Marielena Hincapie

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: These are your friends, your neighbors, your co-workers, and we`ll feature their stories collected by the folks at "DEFINE AMERICAN." You don`t want to miss it.

Now, it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell.

Good evening, Lawrence.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Joy. And we keep using this number, 800,000 --

REID: Yes.

O`DONNELL: -- but these people have parents. They have mothers, they have fathers, they have siblings, many of them younger siblings, who are American citizens.

REID: Yes.

O`DONNELL: This is millions of people we`re talking about --

REID: Yes.

O`DONNELL: -- who are just being put through agony this weekend, waiting to hear if this President of the United States is going to try to drive them out of the country on Tuesday.

REID: Yes. Just imagine trying to make basic decisions, going to school, going to work --


REID: -- just trying to live your life, and you have no certainty whatsoever.


REID: It`s insane. Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: I`ll be watching the way you`re covering it tomorrow, Joy. Thank you.

REID: Thank you. Have a good night.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Well, it turns out, to the world`s surprise, that Donald Trump`s golf weekends are not all golf and binge watching "The Queen" on Netflix to learn how to be presidential. Sometimes, instead of golf, the President stews.

According to tonight`s breaking news in "The New York Times," the long Bedminster weekend began late Thursday, May 4th, when Mr. Trump arrived by helicopter, joined by a trio of advisers -- his daughter, Ivanka; his son- in-law, Jared Kushner; and Stephen Miller.

It rained during part of the weekend, forcing Mr. Trump to cancel golf with Greg Norman, the Australian golfer. Instead, Mr. Trump stewed indoors, worrying about Mr. Comey and the Russia investigation.

Mr. Miller and Mr. Kushner both told the President that weekend they were in favor of firing Mr. Comey. Mr. Trump ordered Mr. Miller to draft a letter and dictated his unfettered thoughts. Several people who saw Mr. Miller`s multi-page draft described it as a screed.

"The New York Times" is reporting tonight that Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller has obtained a copy of that screed.

According to "The New York Times" sources, White House Counsel Don McGahn managed to prevent the President from sending the screed to FBI Director James Comey. McGahn believed that the Trump and Miller co-authored letter was problematic.

Mr. McGahn and others on the White House staff were alarmed that the President made the decision on the unprecedented action of firing the FBI Director after consulting only his daughter, his son-in-law, and the 31- year-old Stephen Miller, who has no legal training and, like the President`s daughter and son-in-law, has absolutely no experience that would earn him a senior position in any White House, other than the most out of control, most incompetent White House in history.

Mr. McGahn identified several passages in the Trump/Miller letter that he wanted deleted. Mr. McGahn then arranged for the President to meet with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to discuss firing James Comey.

During that meeting with the President, Mr. Rosenstein was given a copy of the Trump/Miller screed. Mr. Rosenstein agreed to write his own memo about why Comey should be fired. That memo was released by the White House when Comey was actually fired.

There are several ways that the Special Prosecutor could have obtained the Trump/Miller screed, but you don`t have to think about it very long to realize that the most likely way and the easiest way is the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein simply gave Mueller his copy of it, knowing that it is relevant to the Special Prosecutor`s investigation.

Joining us now, David Frum, senior editor for "The Atlantic." Also with us, Jed Shugerman, professor of law at Fordham University, and Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress.

And, David Frum, here is the confirmation that when the President made what is probably so far, for him, anyway, and his own future, the worst decision of his presidency, firing James Comey. It was on the advice of the junior- most people in the White House, in terms of experience, who have the senior-most positions apparently -- his daughter, his son-in-law, and Stephen Miller.

DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: So the President has been given the lie twice today on this matter. The first is, with this report, he`s been given the lie that the story -- that the firing did not originate, as was said at the time, with the Deputy Attorney General, who doesn`t seem to have played a very heroic role here. And again, this has not played a very heroic role.

[22:05:01] The second lie, the President gave himself when he tweeted earlier today that -- how angry he was that James Comey had been too soft on Hillary Clinton. Remember, ostensibly, the reason for the firing was to punish James Comey for having been too tough on Hillary Clinton, nothing at all to do with Trump or Russia.

The story has collapsed. And not that anybody is terribly surprised by that, but it is in ruins. And one of the things, when you look at an obstruction case, you wonder about is, not only did the person lie, but if there is a lie, what is behind the lie because obviously you lie to protect something you don`t want people to know. If you had something creditable to say, you wouldn`t bother to lie to conceal it.

O`DONNELL: Professor Shugerman, in the near tense cat (ph), we discovered that the President had meetings with a wider circle once he had made that decision. And it wasn`t just White House Counsel who saw the screed; others saw this.

What happens to those people in the wider circle who were consulted about this, even those who were advising against the President doing it?

JED SHUGERMAN, PROFESSOR OF LAW, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: That`s the biggest question to address, and I think it`s the biggest news of the night. There are lots of people we suspected before of participating in obstruction of justice. The biggest name tonight is Vice President Pence, so let me explain why this timeline puts him in legal jeopardy.

So we know that this letter was drafted on one day. And then after Stephen Miller came back with that draft, it was read in a room of people, including Vice President Pence. And when that letter was read, it had, quote, "The New York Times" talks about a screed, and it identified all of these other connections to the Russian probe for why they were -- why Trump had decided to fire Jim Comey.

Then after this letter is edited, Mike Pence then tells the media that Comey -- the Comey firing was not connected to the Russian probe, and he said it was due to Rod Rosenstein`s recommendation. Those are untrue.

Those statements are untrue, and it implicates Mike Pence now in a combination of conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice, aiding and abetting obstruction of justice, and also a relatively less known felony called misprision of a felony, which is 18 USC Section 4. And it`s not if -- when one has knowledge of a felony and if one conceals and does not make it known to an -- to the legal authorities, one can be guilty of misprision of a felony.

And also, let`s keep in mind that the Nixon articles of impeachment included a provision blaming Nixon for misleading or false statements to the public. Now, that`s not a felony, but it was grounds for impeaching President Nixon. It may be grounds for an impeachment of Vice President Pence.

O`DONNELL: And tonight`s new word for me, because I didn`t go to law school, is misprision.

Neera Tanden, the trip wires for everyone involved in this case are -- there`s just more of them than they realize. I imagine Mike Pence might be hearing his possible jeopardy for the first time if he`s listening to the professor tonight.

But all of these people now, all of these people who are named in these meetings about this, are all witnesses for the Special Prosecutor, including White House Counsel because White House Counsel does not have an attorney/client privilege with the President. The President is not his client.

NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Absolutely. You know, I mean, I think if we really step back here and look at this, obviously, there are lots of people in the White House who knew what was really going on, and they all basically lied to the public.

But let`s just say what`s happened here, we have evidence that the President fired Director Comey because of the Russia investigation. Everybody knew it was because of the Russia investigation. And then a lot of people basically conspired to come up with another reason, which was the Rosenstein memo.

They all knew that wasn`t the real reason. They had heard directly from the President the real reason was because of what he was doing with the Russia investigation. The President wanted to stop that, that investigation of himself. And then they came up with an excuse for the public and an excuse for the media.

And the fact that the White House Counsel and other people around the President were perfectly comfortable with a lie to the public for the rationale of this firing, it says to me that they all pretty much knew that there was illegality here.

You guys, this is how you act when there`s something wrong. You come up with a cover. And this whole episode is a bunch of people coming up with a cover.

O`DONNELL: In the Nixon White House, we had John Dean, among others, crack and tell the truth about what he experienced in the Nixon cover-up.

[22:10:01] Let`s listen to the first person in the Trump White House who cracked and apparently told the truth about why James Comey was fired. He actually told that truth to Lester Holt on video in the White House. Let`s listen to this witness.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He made a recommendation. But regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey, knowing there was no good time to do it.

And in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story. It`s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won.


O`DONNELL: David Frum, that will surely be an exhibit or being certainly maintained as an exhibit at this point in the files of the Special Prosecutor. Whether it`s ever used in court is another matter, but there`s Donald Trump basically turning in Donald Trump.

FRUM: Well, to lift this out of the legalities into the politics a little bit, that incident that is so beautifully quoted there illustrates, I think, a problem that all of us have in being -- in responding to all of this appropriately, which is Donald -- because Donald Trump lies all the time, because he`s lost so much credibility, when his White House tells lies, people don`t -- are not actually fooled.

No one actually ever believed for even 30 seconds that this all happened because of Rod Rosenstein. No one ever believed that story. So we`ve lost the capacity to be offended and shocked if the story turns out not to be true because we weren`t fooled, therefore it was -- you know, we don`t feel like we were deceived. And therefore, we don`t have the anger against the lie that we should.

The lie, however, remains a lie. And it remains hugely improper for a President to do, even if the President had already, by then, so trashed his reputation that no one was ever fooled for a moment.

O`DONNELL: Jed Shugerman --

TANDEN: Can I just say --

O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Neera. Yes.

TANDEN: Sorry. Just, I mean, the issue here is, of course, none of us trust -- I mean, I don`t trust President Trump in any -- in the things he says. But the issue here is that he -- they all came up with an alternative story.

They were, at least for a period, trying to explain this and to offer, you know, another explanation that wasn`t illegal, that wouldn`t have bought an obstruction of justice charge. The fact that Don McGahn recognized that the screed basically condemned the President tells us that his screed was an issue that the Special Prosecutor should be obviously examining as obstruction of justice.

O`DONNELL: Professor Shugerman, what are the prosecutors looking for in that screed that they have -- they now possess and may have possessed for quite a while?

SHUGERMAN: Well, let me just note that, for all of Trump`s lies, he has already confessed, as you just showed, with Lester Holt, to the basic -- I mean he told the truth to Lester Holt, that he fired Jim Comey because of the Russia investigation.

I mean that could be the Nixon articles of impeachment right there, so we`ll pause there and just note that. And also keep in mind that he also said in his letter explaining the firing of Jim Comey, he said, while I appreciate you telling me on three separate times that I wasn`t under investigation, I nevertheless am firing you.

That`s an amazing non sequitur confession. I mean, it`s -- the first part of that sentence explained what he was really thinking about, which is, thanks for telling me I was in investigation.

Now, we find out what the letter -- and this is what you`re asking, Lawrence. What Mueller is looking at is the rest of the screed there, which is President Trump wanted Jim Comey to tell the public that Trump was not under investigation. And really, what Trump wanted was to stay not under investigation and that`s why he fired Jim Comey. So that`s pretty -- that`s amazingly significant.

I do also want to be clear, there`s another news event today or yesterday that President Trump`s lawyers had met with Robert Mueller and tried to make the argument that because a President has the power to fire an FBI Director, this can`t be obstruction of justice. That basic argument is so wrong that it shows why there`s so little that the Trump lawyers have to argue.

A president has the power to order a military strike. But if the President is ordering that military strike with the intent of, let`s say, killing someone who slept with his wife, that`s still murder.

A president can pardon someone. But if the President pardons someone because he received a million dollar bribe, that`s still a felony of bribery.

Just because the President has the power to do something, it doesn`t mean that it excuses any exercise of that power because intent matters.

O`DONNELL: Professor Jed Shugerman and Neera Tanden, thank you for joining us tonight. David, please stick around.

Coming up, as we reported last night, Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller is using IRS agents from the criminal investigation division of the IRS. These are the IRS super agents, the A-team. You don`t want them on your case. This -- there is probably nothing about Robert Mueller`s investigation that scares Donald Trump more than having these IRS agents on the case.

[22:15:09] A former director of the IRS criminal investigations division will join us next.



TRUMP: I`m not releasing tax returns because, as you know, they`re under audit. You learn very little from a tax return. What you should do is go down to federal elections and take a look at the numbers.


O`DONNELL: The IRS` best agents are on the case as Betsy Woodruff of "The Daily Beast" reported to us here last night. Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller has now added special agents from the IRS criminal investigation division to his team investigating President Trump and his campaign associates, including his family.

Measured strictly in terms of money, IRS auditors are the most valuable players in government. Senior auditors working on the biggest cases are paid close to $150,000 per year. And on average, they each find and collect, for the government, $19 million per year in tax revenue that the government was never going to see if those IRS auditors didn`t find it.

Of course, hating the IRS is an article of faith in Republican politics and cutting the IRS budget is a Republican favorite. And no Republican is going to want to cut the IRS budget more than Donald Trump now that the IRS super agents from the criminal investigation division are working with Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller.

Joining us now, Martin Sheil, former branch chief of the IRS criminal investigation division. He spent 30 years at the IRS.

Mr. Sheil, thank you very much for joining us tonight. And tell me what the -- what this means to the investigation, that Robert Mueller has your old team on the case.

MARTIN SHEIL, FORMER CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION DIVISION AGENT, INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICES: Well, first of all, thank you so much for having me here, Lawrence. It`s a great compliment, and I appreciate the offer to be here.

What it means, in a nutshell, is that the finest financial investigators in the world are now focusing on members of the Trump organization and possibly Trump himself. You know, there is now a change of the focus of the original counterintelligence investigation. It`s now morphed into a financial investigation.

[22:20:03] And, you know, certainly, FBI has some tremendous people involved in doing their financial investigations, but IRS criminal investigators focus only on doing financial investigations. They don`t do much of anything else.

You know, they do some things like, you know, identity fraud and computer forensics and things like these, but there are 2,200 agents focused on doing financial investigations, focusing on tax fraud, money laundering, and Bank Secrecy Act violations.

So this would be an indication that Mr. Mueller and his team think that there`s a real good possibility that there may be some potential financial violations along the lines of tax violations, money laundering, and currency violations.

One thing I`d like to point out is that while many federal agencies have the authority to investigate money laundering, IRS is the only agency that has the authority to pursue criminal tax violations. So that`s an important thing.

And just to point out to the quality of their CIS investigations, since 1919 when the intelligence unit was established, which turned into C.I. around 1978, they -- C.I. has had a success rate, a conviction rate, of over 90 percent every single year since 1919. In fiscal year 2014, I believe the conviction rate was 93.4 percent.

So when Criminal Investigation comes after you, they`re going to do a very thorough, comprehensive financial investigation. And if I was on the other end of that, I would be -- I would be pretty nervous.

O`DONNELL: Let`s talk about one of --

SHEIL: The whole idea here of --

O`DONNELL: Let`s talk about one of the people who is on the other end of it, Donald Trump.


O`DONNELL: And the documents he doesn`t want any of us to ever see, his tax returns.

SHEIL: Right.

O`DONNELL: Is it a fair assumption that the Special Prosecutor has his tax returns now and those agents are studying them?

SHEIL: You know, that`s a rebuttable presumption. I don`t know, to answer your question. Certainly, if IRS is involved, it is much easier to obtain the tax returns from Mr. Trump than --

O`DONNELL: How do they obtain them? Is there any need for a court order? Is it just automatic that any of these agents can obtain them?

SHEIL: No. Well, you know, special agents can apply -- can obtain them through the service center. But, you know, in special circumstances, certain designated, you know, sensitive type areas like the President of the United States, that`s going to require authorization right up the ladder, you know, so.

Now, the point -- one important point here is if it was just the FBI investigating Mr. Trump and they wanted to see Mr. Trump`s tax returns, they would have to get a court order, an ex parte or what is called a 6(e) the U.S. Attorney will get a judge to sign off on it.

That used to be -- years ago, when I started, that used to be a simple one or two-paragraph form letter, but that 6(e) now has morphed into pretty much like a search warrant affidavit where you have to establish almost probable cause to show the connection of the tax returns to your investigation and to the potential criminal violation.

So it`s certainly a lot easier to have IRS involved to get the tax returns, but there are still internal hurdles that they have to jump over to get them. But it`s a lot easier, much easier, so.

O`DONNELL: We`re going to have to leave it there for tonight. Martin Sheil, thank you for joining us tonight. We`re going to have -- I think we`re going to need you more as this investigation continues. Thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

SHEIL: Thank you so much for inviting me.

Coming up, millions of people are in the grip of fear this long weekend in America, not because of a natural disaster, but because of Donald Trump`s threat to deport 800,000 young people who have grown up in this country and call it home. They will find out on Tuesday if Donald Trump is going to do everything he can to ruin their lives as he has promised to do.

[22:24:28] And later, a special last word on this summer of Trump.


O`DONNELL: The President has made this holiday weekend an agonizing three days for millions of people by threatening to deport 800,000 young people known as Dreamers who came to this country as children and babies and who do not have citizenship in this country.

The millions of relatives, mothers, fathers, younger siblings of these kids who were born in this country are terrified this weekend that the Dreamers they`re related to, their loved ones, will be deported.

The White House let it be known today that the President will announce his decision on Tuesday on whether to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, what`s known as DACA, created by President Obama, that allows those 800,000 people who consider themselves Americans to remain in this country.

Imagine the agony of living through this weekend with your fate in the hands of the most uncaring President of the United States that we`ve ever had. Those 800,000 young people have never seen such an uncaring person in the White House in their lifetimes.

Some Republicans are worried both about the cruelty of the policy and the political price that their party might pay if the President does carry out his threat to deport all of the 800,000.

Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake tweeted today, Congress needs to take immediate action to protect DACA kids.

Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, the senior-most Republican in the United States Senate, said in a statement, I`ve urged the President not to rescind DACA, an action that would further complicate a system in serious need of a permanent legislative solution.

Even Speaker of the House Paul Ryan was able to find his voice this time to say the President should not deport these kids.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Yes. I mean, I actually don`t think he should do that, and I believe that this is something that Congress has to fix.

[22:29:59] These are kids who know no other country, who were brought here by their parents, and don`t know another home. And so I really do believe that there needs to be a legislative solution. That`s one that we`re working on.

And I think we want to give people peace of mind. And so I`ve had plenty of conversations with the White House about this issue.


O`DONNELL: And here is what candidate Donald Trump said.


TRUMP: The executive order gets rescinded.

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS HOST: You`ll rescind --

TRUMP: One good thing about --

TODD: You`ll rescind that one too?

TRUMP: One good thing about --

TODD: You`ll rescind the Dream Act executive order, the DACA?

TRUMP: We`re going to have to. We have to make a whole new set of standards. And when people come in, they have to come in with --

TODD: So you`re going to split up families?

TRUMP: Chuck --

TODD: You`re going to deport children?

TRUMP: Chuck -- no, no. We`re going to keep the families together. We have to keep the families together, but they have to go. But --

TODD: But you`re going to kick them out?

TRUMP: They have to go.

TODD: What if they have no place to go?

TRUMP: We will work with them. They have to go.


O`DONNELL: And here is what President Trump said today.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Should dreamers be worried?

TRUMP: We love the Dreamers. We love everybody. Thank you very much.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Maria Teresa Kumar, the president and CEO of Voto Latina and an MSNBC contributor. Also joining us, Marielena Hincapie, the executive director of the National Immigration Law Center.

And, Maria Teresa, we get mixed signals from the President. One is a very, very clear statement that he said during the campaign, which is all of them must go. All of them.

And then we`ve gotten these signals, you can call them, like this thing he said today, we love the Dreamers. We`ve heard that kind of signal from him before that, possibly, could give some people hope.

How do you translate all of this?

MARIA TERESA KUMAR, PRESIDENT AND CEO, VOTO LATINO: It`s almost like Judas` kiss. You don`t want him to be -- beloved by him. But in all seriousness, when we`re talking about the Dreamers, we`re talking about 800,000 people that are in a federal database that trusted the government, that came out of the shadows, and are now doing right by the law. It`s almost as if the government wants to now (INAUDIBLE) a government contract and say not anymore.

And what we fear -- and Marielena will chime in there, but what we fear is that what he`ll do is that he will actually sunset. So individuals that are right now on DACA, their -- more than likely, their status will sunset for the next year or two and new folks will not be able to come out of the shadows and, again, do right by the law.

But to put it in perspective, Lawrence, you have roughly 60,000 young Dreamers right now in the city of Houston. If he were to rescind this act, the DACA Act, we`re talking about 10,000 kids a week that, all of a sudden, become undocumented overnight without an opportunity to continue contributing to their family or to their community.

We have an average of these individuals that are not only contributing happily to the economy themselves, but they belong to close to 6 million American mixed status families. This not going to be easy.

And the reason the DACA young people are fighting and they`re fighting strong, not just because this is the only country they believe in that they`ve been able to demonstrate their patriotism, but fighting for a system and a country that they actually see as their future. And they believe that the better angels will find us to really make sure that we`re doing right by them.

O`DONNELL: Let`s take a look at how the country feels about this. This is an NBC News poll this week on the opinion on DACA.

Do you support or oppose the DACA policy? Support, 64 percent; oppose, 30 percent.

And, Marielena, there aren`t a lot of issues you can poll in this country, political issues, that get 64 percent agreement in favor of it.

MARIELENA HINCAPIE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NATIONAL IMMIGRATION LAW CENTER: No. I mean, I think the great thing about this program, Lawrence, is it`s been in place for five years, and it`s been a resounding success.

The 800,000 young immigrants who are part of this program who have been able to thrive, who have been able to support themselves, their families, contribute to their communities, 75 percent of them are working in the top 25 Fortune 500 companies. They are -- 97 percent of them are working or in school. They`re contributing so much.

And they finally are being recognized by this country and have had work authorization for the last five years, and Donald Trump is about to pull the rug underneath from them. It`s torture.

What you were saying at the beginning, this week has been so surreal. Though everything is changing from moment to moment, the fact that this President can`t make one of the most -- easiest decisions that is politically in his favor to say, we`re going to do the right thing.

It`s not only constitutional, it`s legal, it`s moral, and it`s good for our economy. This should be an easy decision for him. But instead, he is giving in to his base, which we know has anti-immigrant fervor.

O`DONNELL: And, Maria Teresa, we`re not talking about just 800,000 people affected by this.

KUMAR: Right.

O`DONNELL: I mean, you deport a college student, you deport a little league player, that -- every one of those kids has relatives here already, so you`re crushing that whole family. You`re crushing the friends of these kids, United States citizens` friends, that could include a lot of these Dreamers.

[22:35:00] This is millions and millions of people, have a loved one, a best friend, that they`re worried about this weekend because of this President.

KUMAR: Well, and just -- and in large part, it`s because he has never been -- he is not a president who is clear, and there`s not a purpose. And this is why it`s an incredible opportunity for Congress, the Republican-led Congress, to do the right thing, to do right by law, to make sure not only that is -- that there is a replacement, a permanent replacement, because this was an executive order by the Obama administration because the Republicans before had failed to act.

Now, they have an opportunity to step up to the plate, show leadership, and actually provide a permanent solution so that these individuals don`t have to worry about, year-by-year, whether or not you have a random person sitting at the White House that has their fate in their hands. And more importantly, they also have an opportunity to clean the slate and say, this is -- these are the values that we hold dear as Americans.

Most people don`t realize that the reason that we have so many undocumented people in this country was because, 40, 50 years ago, we didn`t have immigration laws that took this long, that we actually had a freer flow of immigrants. And there`s a really interesting study done that we only need as many immigrants -- the basic laws of supply and demand, Lawrence, that only the immigrants that we actually need will come.

But because we have archaic, non-modernized immigration systems, we have these young people stuck in the shadows. And we are actually now having to reckon with not only who we are as the soul of our country, but also what is the country that we actually want a place for in the future.

O`DONNELL: And, Marielena, there`s a flurry of tweets today by Republican members of Congress saying, I`ve got a bill ready to go. We want to -- they want to legislate a fix to this. They want to take this -- they want to fix it. Many Republicans want to fix this for these Dreamers so that the President won`t be able to touch it.

HINCAPIE: That`s right. And I think, Lawrence, it`s because of the polling that you showed. If you note, we have all diverse parts of civil society coming out. We have business leaders, educators, faith communities, people across the country saying, we should not be doing this. We should not be deporting young immigrants who are contributing to our country, who are American, except for that piece of paper that the government hasn`t provided to them.

And so Republicans see the writing on the wall. They know that if they allow this President to pull the rug out from under DACA, to place these 800,000 young people at the threat of deportation or to actually deport them, as some of them have been, Republicans know that they need to do something.

And look, this was a temporary measure. That President Obama used his executive authority, the same executive authority that every presidential administration, Republican and Democrat since Eisenhower, has used for the last 50 years. This is constitutional, but it was temporary.

And so, yes, absolutely, it`s up to Congress now. Both Democratic and Republican leadership need to step up. And Republicans know that they will be held accountable if they allow this program to fail and if they allow these young immigrants to be placed in harm`s way.

O`DONNELL: Marielena Hincapie, thank you for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

HINCAPIE: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Maria Teresa, please stick us for one more conversation.

KUMAR: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, poorly informed and impulsive was John McCain`s charitable way of describing Donald Trump in the op-ed piece that John McCain wrote for "The Washington Post" this week. That`s next.


[22:41:56] O`DONNELL: With Congress on the last weekend of its summer recess, Senator John McCain has written an op-ed piece in "The Washington Post" that offers an old-fashioned sort of road map for how to govern.

He writes, Congress will return from recess next week facing continued gridlock as we lurch from one self-created crisis to another. Congress must govern with a President who has no experience of public office, is often poorly informed, and can be impulsive in his speech and conduct.

We must, where we can, cooperate with him, but we are not his subordinates. We don`t answer to him. We answer to the American people. We must be diligent in discharging our responsibility to serve as a check on his power.

David Frum and Maria Teresa Kumar are back with us for this part of the discussion.

And, David, Senator McCain goes on to say, we should go back to, what he called, regular order. That`s something he said a couple of times in his first speech back after he was diagnosed with brain cancer on the Senate floor. He was speaking about healthcare, and you need to go through regular order, which is the process that actually forces compromise between the parties.

FRUM: Regular order, I think, here is also a metaphor for a larger sense of regularity. Remember, last week, the President went to John McCain`s own state, threw down a gauntlet of power.

He`s attempting -- the President is attempting to interfere in an internal Republican primary in John McCain`s own state. John McCain is the Senior Republican there. He would expect some consultation and respect, and he was shown none.

This is a quarrel that goes back a long time, all the way back to President Trump`s preference of people who are not POWs. He likes the guys who don`t get captured. And I think you see here the beginning of John McCain emerging as a much more powerful voice than he has been until now -- or, I`m sorry, since beginning with the healthcare vote, of course.

KUMAR: That`s right.

O`DONNELL: Yes. Let`s take a look at what David just referred to, President Trump in Arizona talking about john McCain in what was deliberately a very insulting way to this Arizona crowd.


TRUMP: ObamaCare is a disaster, and think. Think! We were just one vote away from victory after seven years of everybody proclaiming repeal and replace. One vote away. I will not mention any names. Very presidential, isn`t it? Very presidential.


O`DONNELL: Maria Teresa, John McCain clearly not afraid of Donald Trump and not afraid to hit back at him after that kind of speech.

KUMAR: Well, and what John McCain was able to do today in the op-ed is to crystallize more importantly that the congressional members, the Congress itself, is on equal footing with the President, that they have to stand up for the institutions that they serve, for the people that they serve.

[22:45:01] What Donald Trump missed completely in that oration that he gave in Arizona was that the reason that the healthcare bill fell was not only because of those individuals that went and cast a vote against it, but more importantly the people, the American people, the voters that were showing up daily at the congressional offices, that were showing up in the district offices, that were marching in the streets, that were making phone calls and saying, let`s be diligent.

So when we are talking about saving the government, which is basically what John McCain was talking about, asking his fellow Republicans and his Democrats to say that we cannot fail -- we cannot -- we cannot forget that the reason that they are governing is for the American people, for the institution, and for this aspiration of a perfect democracy, even if right now what we`re facing in the White House is someone that is out of our traditional political sandbox. That they have to hold strong and they have to make sure that they`re holding that President accountable.

And it`s also talking about, for so long, people have said that being a civil servant, an elected official, was easy. What we`re finding, that it is actually a skill, that we actually have to make sure that we are electing people who are qualified, who understand the nuance and appreciate the constitution and the checks and balances of our government, and who want to make sure that these institutions are strong long after whoever is elected is held in office.

O`DONNELL: I don`t want to leave this subject without noting that John McCain went out of his way in this op-ed piece -- it`s almost two op-ed pieces. There`s another section of it that`s pretty much -- it`s his reaction to Charlottesville where he, very specifically, makes it clear that there weren`t good people on both sides of that argument there.

And there`s one line where he says, most of us share Heather Heyer`s values, not the depravity of the man who took her life. And you can tell that that section of the piece is aimed directly at President Trump and his equating of the two sides to the extent that he did.

We`re going to have to take a break here.

Maria Teresa Kumar, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

David Frum, stay with us when we come back. Thank you.

KUMAR: Thank you, Lawrence.

FRUM: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, another month has passed in the Trump presidency, and we`re not sure how many more months the Trump presidency has.


[22:50:40] O`DONNELL: And so another month that felt like a year in the Trump presidency comes to a close. And like every other month, at the end of the month in the Trump presidency, it feels like the strangest month of all. Here is a look at the hottest month yet in Trump world, August 2017.


TRUMP: Are there any Russians here tonight? Any Russians?

North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury.

I say, very simply, where is repeal and replace?

Mitch, get to work and let`s get it done.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have any response to Russian President?

TRUMP: No. I want to thank him because we`re trying to cut down on payroll.

We have many options for Venezuela. I`m not going to rule out a military option.

We condemn, in the strongest possible terms, this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides.

I think there is blame on both sides.

Not all of those people were neo-Nazis. Believe me.

Was George Washington a slave owner? How about Thompson Jefferson? Because he was a major slave owner. Now, are we going to take down his statue?

Mr. Bannon came on very late. We`ll see what happens with Mr. Bannon.

I`m not finished, fake news.

I hit them with everything. I got the White supremacists, the neo-Nazi. I got them all in there. Let`s see. Yes, KKK. We have KKK.

Do the people in this room like Sheriff Joe? I`ll make a prediction. I think he is going to be just fine.

I stand by my pardon of Sheriff Joe. Actually, in the middle of a hurricane, I assumed the ratings would be far higher than they would be normally.

We won`t say congratulations. We`ll congratulate each other when it`s all finished.

What a crowd, a turnout.

Can I say Missouri or should I say Missouri?

Do you want to take one more? Would you want to take one more? Go ahead, pick.


TRUMP: Go ahead.

NIINISTO: Please. Let --

TRUMP: Again? You`re going to give her the same one?

NIINISTO: No, she is not the same lady.

TRUMP: Another one. Go ahead.


O`DONNELL: And so, with one summer down in the Trump presidency, we`re not sure tonight how many more summers to go. Maybe three, maybe not.

David Frum will be back with us after a break on the summer of Trump.



[22:56:32] TRUMP: We`re closely following the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia. We condemn, in the strongest possible terms, this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides. On many sides.


O`DONNELL: And that was judged by many to be the President`s worst moment in the month of August. Back with us, David Frum.

And, David, worth noting that the Gallup tracking poll today has the President, today, at his highest disapproval level in the Gallup tracking poll yet, 61 percent, and at his lowest approval level yet in the Gallup daily tracking poll of 34 percent. So August has left him at the bottom of the poll.

FRUM: Here is a way to take us a longer-term view on what is happening to this number. Since the first of June, the President has had exactly one day where he was north of 40 percent in the Gallup poll. Zero days in August, zero days in July.

Back in the spring, he would have a number of days, sometimes as many as a third of the month, where he would be above 40. So this is like -- it is - - as you say, it`s a line. It bobs up and down, but the trend is pretty sinister for him.

And this -- and as you say, August seems to have been really an epic, where a big part of the country turned off the set. And I don`t think it`s going back on.

O`DONNELL: And when you see that today`s daily tracking poll is an all- time low for him, this comes after his performance -- which, I guess, is the right word, his performance in the aftermath of the hurricane.

FRUM: Well, you also see a lot of signs of slowing American economy. Job creation numbers come in. They continue to be positive and everybody welcomes that, but they`re not growing as fast as they were. The American economy is bumping up into some resistance.

And the number that the President keeps pointing to, the stock market, the broader indexes -- Standard & Poor`s, not Dow Jones -- not looking so good. A lot of up market Republicans are getting a little nervous about that.

And the prospects for the tax reform that -- are the thing that so many Republicans have been biting their tongue in order to get, that doesn`t look good because the differences between House and Senate and White House are very substantial. And without presidential leadership to bring the different factions of Republicans together, it`s possible that the whole thing could fail the way healthcare reform and repeal failed.

O`DONNELL: And, David, we showed a focus group, an NBC focus group, this week in Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania that had about five Trump -- had five Trump voters in it out of a dozen people. And those five Trump voters were all disappointed. They all said disappointed. None of them offered anything in any positive descriptions of the President.

FRUM: Yes.

O`DONNELL: The only neutral one was the word unique. But they said things like crazy. They said the kind of words that you hear from Clinton supporters talking about Trump at this point.

FRUM: They were supposed to be bulldozers in the ground. There were supposed to be things being built. There was supposed to be a real tightening in the job market, especially for blue-collar men. There were supposed -- things were supposed to be more different from the way they were in the past.

You know, one of the things, we all now know how the Trump story went. Remember, for a lot of people for whom politics is something they pay attention to some of the time, the Donald Trump they knew was the one -- the character they saw from "The Apprentice," not only the great businessman but the man who held people to account, who said you are fired. And this is an administration that can`t hold itself to account.

[23:00:06] O`DONNELL: David Frum gets tonight`s last word. David, thanks for joining us.

FRUM: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: "THE 11TH HOUR" starts now.