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The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 9/7/17 Trump Jr. appears before Senate

Guests: Jonathan Capehart, Ron Klain, Bill Karins, Ted Deutch

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: September 7, 2017 Guest: Jonathan Capehart, Ron Klain, Bill Karins, Ted Deutch

Hurricane Irma; debt limit; Florida; Federal Emergency Management Agency>

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: Bit by bit, the army corps has been -- wait, they probably don`t even have a day because Hurricane Irma is on its way.

Bit by bit the army corps has been discharging water from Lake Okeechobee and nearby rivers trying to make space for the eight or ten inches of rainfall that Irma might bring.

But that could drive the lake`s water level by three to four feet if they get even less than a foot of rain.

That would push Herbert Hoover Dike to its absolute limit. The Florida governor has ordered mandatory evacuations for a half dozen towns around the lake`s southern edge.

That`s on the advice of the army corps. Those mandatory evacuations start tomorrow morning. There`s a lot to watch tonight, that is just one of the crucial infrastructure elements here that`s going to be under profound stress by what`s about to hit southern Florida and what continues to tear through the Caribbean tonight.

That does it for us tonight, we will see you again tomorrow, now it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good evening Lawrence.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Good evening Rachel, I`m so glad you mentioned the army corps of engineers.

They have enormous responsibilities around this country and around the world. And responsibilities that most of us just ignore, pay no attention to most of the time.

Usually because they`re doing their job so well.

MADDOW: Yes --

O`DONNELL: They have some failures as everyone does, but what they`re up against as this thing approaches and what they`ll be up against after this --

MADDOW: Yes --

O`DONNELL: Is just possibly incalculable at this moment.

MADDOW: Yes, and the complexity of the decisions they`ve got to face, you know, how much water to let into the rivers, how much rainfall to anticipate, how much stress you`re going to put on those levees.

How many people to move out, how fast on the roads that are already clogged. I mean, these are incredibly difficult decisions for local and federal officials at times like this when something this big is bearing down on them.

O`DONNELL: And I don`t mean to use this event as a political moment, but it is worth using it as an instructive moment that when people run for office in this government, attacking this government, these are the people they`re attacking.

MADDOW: Yes --

O`DONNELL: This is the work that they`re attacking. This is the work that they`re pretending is unnecessary or that they`re pretending is easy.

MADDOW: Yes, and this is not a time -- I mean, anybody who is looking at the size of that storm bearing down through the Caribbean right now and thinking that this is something that people should be able to deal with in terms of their own bootstraps probably should be kept out of electoral politics.

O`DONNELL: Yes, and we`ve got more than just that to talk about tonight --

MADDOW: Indeed --

O`DONNELL: Including as you know all of these developments in the investigation today, including Donald Junior down there at the Judiciary Committee. Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence, appreciate it, man.

O`DONNELL: Thank you. Tonight, we are tracking what could turn out to be the worst or one of the worst hurricanes ever to hit the United States.

Category 5 is the most dangerous designation for a hurricane, and Hurricane Irma at the moment hitting Turks and Caicos Islands is category 5.

It is a category 5 hurricane. The storm is more than 370 miles wide with winds up to 175 miles an hour.

Hurricane Irma is expected to make landfall, which is to say crash into Florida on Sunday. The National Weather Service`s ability to precisely track the hurricane can save lives and save money.

Accurate warnings can be issued about who needs to evacuate, and almost as importantly, who doesn`t need to evacuate.

What businesses need to close down and what businesses don`t need to close down. This is crucial, life-saving information and crucial information for the economy of the East Coast of the United States.

Which is why Democrats objected so loudly when the Trump-proposed budget cut funding to the National Weather Service and cut funding to FEMA.

Even today, with potentially more destructive power than Hurricane Harvey headed our way, 17 Republicans in the Senate voted against Hurricane Harvey relief funding, including Senator Lindsey Graham whose state of South Carolina has been hit hard by hurricanes before and may be hit hard by Hurricane Irma.

Most of the time on this program, we concentrate our discussions on government. We take government seriously, including who is running the government, and we do that because we know how important the government is.

We know lives are at stake, and we know it can be unpredictable when we will need government to save lives.

It has become popular over the last few decades in Republican politics especially to mock government, to attack government, to attack the American government.

Donald Trump got elected president by attacking American government and the people who work in it.

And he could never stop talking about how easy it is to govern, how easy it would be for him to make the decisions, make the deals, get the job done as president of the United States.

And now tonight, even Donald Trump knows that government is a deadly serious business, an especially deadly serious business in Florida tonight.

And that government`s ability to respond to the hurricane on its way to Florida can save lives, including possibly lives in and around Donald Trump`s properties in Florida.

Luckily for the Americans lives who are at stake as this deadly hurricane approaches, it is not Donald Trump who they can -- who they will be relying on.

It is the professionals in government who will do their best to save them from the dangers of this storm, to rescue them if necessary, to protect them.

The elected officials who run for office with an expressed hatred of government will actually have nothing to do with how this natural disaster is handled.

The career professionals at the National Weather Service, the career professionals at FEMA, the career professionals in the national government are the people we will rely on when Irma hits Florida.

And they are the very same people who politicians will continue to attack when they attack government in order to be elected to that government.

And they are the people whose jobs those politicians will propose cutting when a hurricane isn`t headed toward this country.

At least, nine people in the Caribbean have already been killed as Hurricane Irma mowed down islands like Barbuda.

Anyone with relatives, friends or loved ones in the Caribbean knows the horrors of hurricanes. The 6 million people in the Miami area could suffer a direct hit by Hurricane Irma.

Floridians have been warned. Mass evacuations are under way, but there are always people who cannot afford to evacuate, who don`t have the ability to evacuate, who need help to evacuate.

And as if Irma wasn`t enough to worry about, another hurricane Jose has now reached Category 3 status as it tracks across the Atlantic behind Irma.

A double hit of hurricanes on the East Coast is almost unthinkable. And if you aren`t busy evacuating or trying to evacuate now, all you can do is wait to see what happens when Irma reaches Florida Sunday morning.

We will have more on tracking the hurricane later in this program. In Washington today, Donald Trump Jr. submitted to five hours of questioning from the Senate Judiciary Committee staff about his meeting in Trump Tower on June 9th, 2016, with four Russians and a British escort of those Russians along with Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort.

All we really know about that Judiciary Committee session today is what Donald Trump Jr. said in his prepared opening remarks to the committee which have been made public.

It is a 1,776-word statement, and it is the tip of the iceberg, of the thousands and thousands and thousands of words that were said today in those five hours.

Opening statements for congressional testimony are usually the least interesting part of the testimony.

Donald Trump Junior`s statement glossed over many details of the meeting including who was actually in the room.

He referred to only seven of the eight people in the room and named only six of them. You can be sure that during the questioning, Donald Trump Jr. was pressed repeatedly on exactly who was in that room and exactly who did what in that room and exactly who said exactly what in that room.

It is very likely that the committee staff`s questioning provoked more than one version of an answer to various points that were raised today.

Donald Trump Junior`s opening statement says he does not recall any phone conversations with Emin Agalarov; a Russian singer who helped arrange that meeting but was not present at that meeting.

But Donald Trump Junior`s phone records indicate that he had three phone calls with Emin Agalarov on June 6th and June 7th when the meeting was being arranged.

You can be absolutely sure that more than one of the Senate committee staff who questioned Donald Trump Jr. today repeatedly questioned him about those phone calls from every possible angle.

If Donald Trump Jr. was speaking slowly, it would take him only 15 minutes to tell the committee the word-for-word story that he tells in his opening statement.

If he just sat there and read every word of it, 15 minutes maximum. But he was in the room for five hours, five hours.

That tells you how unimportant his opening statement was, compared to everything else that was said in that room that we don`t know about.

And so as you read articles and reports about what Donald Trump Jr. said in that room, remember, those are based only on the first 15 minutes of what happened in that room.

Those reports leave out nearly five hours of material that the transcript of that meeting will contain. But the opening statement was not nothing.

The opening statement tells us what Donald Trump Jr. wanted us to know about, about that meeting, and it tells us what Donald Trump Jr. doesn`t want us to know about that meeting.

The opening statement also shows us possible conflicts with Donald Trump Junior`s earlier public statements about the meeting.

For example, Congressman Adam Schiff, after reading that statement, Congressman Adam Schiff, he`s part of the House Intelligence Committee`s investigation, he said today, "this statement contains a notable omission, in that it no longer mentions that President Trump knew nothing of the meeting or these events.

Raising questions about whether then-candidate Trump was, in fact, knowledgeable about the meeting in advance."

Joining us now, Mieke Eoyang; former House Intelligence Committee`s staff member, and Ron Klain; former chief of staff to vice presidents Joe Biden and Al Gore and a former senior aide to President Obama.

And he is also -- this is important tonight, former chief counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Ron, I want to start with you with your Judiciary Committee experience. Take us in that room, we know that the staff asked all the questions.

There were about five senators, mostly Democrats who visited the room for some periods of time during the questioning.

But what do you see in the Donald Trump Jr. statement, and what do you expect was going on during those five hours?

RON KLAIN, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO JOE BIDEN & AL GORE: Yes, you know, I think the hot air on Capitol Hill today was a Category 5 cover-up from Donald Trump Jr.

And I say Category 5 cover-up because today`s story is the fifth different story he`s told about the Trump Tower meeting.

Last Summer, he said it was -- showed a lack of moral compass on the Clinton campaign to suggest that he might have worked with the Russians.

In March, he said he had never met with Russians. When that was proven untrue, he and his father cooked up the statement that said that the meeting was about adoption policy.

And then when the e-mails came out that showed that the meeting was really set up because the Russian government wanted to help the Trump campaign and Donald Trump Jr. said, I love that, he said the meeting was about DNC donations.

And finally today, he said it was about trying to assess the fitness of Hillary Clinton to be president.

So I think what happened in that room today was rigorous questioning by the professional staff and a lot of Democratic senators popping in and out to test his credibility.

And what you heard at the end of it was those senators saying, hey, we want this guy back here in open session for the public to see this, for open questions.

And that shows they were not persuaded by the credibility of Donald Trump Jr.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Senator Richard Blumenthal said. He was one of the senators who was in that room during some of the questions.


SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: There is no basis right now to conclude whether there was collusion or not or whether there was obstruction of justice or not.

And that is the remaining area of the investigation that needs to be fully explored. We are ways from drawing any conclusions.


O`DONNELL: Mieke, the senator obviously not willing to reveal anything of what actually went on in that room.

MIEKE EOYANG, VICE PRESIDENT, NATIONAL SECURITY PROGRAM, THIRD WAY: That`s right. In fact, the Senate Judiciary Committee is playing a game of prisoner`s dilemma with the various people who were involved in this Trump Tower meeting.

They don`t want them to know what the others are saying and will interview them separately and then compare stories.

So this is really a fact-gathering mission. They have a lot of information to get through. And remember, they talked to Jared Kushner already about that meeting earlier this Summer.

So they have his testimony in closed session to compare it to.

O`DONNELL: And they also have a sense of Donald Trump Junior`s credibility going into that room. Well, let`s listen to what he said to Sean Hannity on July 11th.


DONALD TRUMP JR., SON OF DONALD TRUMP: I just want the truth to get out there. And you know, that`s part of why I released all the stuff today.

As far as this incident is concerned, this is all of it. This is everything. This is everything.


O`DONNELL: And Ron Klain --

KLAIN: Yes --

O`DONNELL: Every day after that for several days, there was much more every day that was revealed, including much more about the e-mails that set up that meeting.

It was not everything when he said that to Sean Hannity. He knew it was not everything. That is video of Donald Trump Jr. not telling the truth about this story.

KLAIN: And not the only video, Lawrence. As I said, he`s changed his story on this five times. And one of those times was, as we now know, a statement written on Air Force One by the president of the United States that could only be described as an effort to mislead the American people, perhaps to try to mislead Bob Mueller, perhaps to try to mislead these congressional committees.

And so there are a lot of hard questions to be asked, and I think when you heard the Democratic senators say at the end of the session today, you know, we want this in open session.

We want to question him. We want people to see what he looks like when he`s being questioned, that`s a big tell, Lawrence.

They tried to keep it close to the vest, but it`s a big tell that they don`t think he`s telling the truth and they think that in a public session, the American people would also have question about Don Junior`s credibility.

O`DONNELL: And Mieke, such an important point that Ron is making is that when senators say they really want to hear from someone in public, it is because they believe there will be something communicated by this witness in more than just the words the witness says.

EOYANG: Yes, that`s true. They want the American people to see this person`s demeanor, to be able to assess whether or not they think he`s lying.

Now, remember, these senators have seen him in closed session. And one of the senators, Senator Coons, after the meeting posted the statutory reference to lying to Congress, which is a criminal statute.

It says if you lie to Congress, you can go to jail. So he was very concerned after this meeting that perhaps they had been lied to.

Now, they have the opportunity to see all the different stories that have been told over this period of time, but this story, there are criminal consequences for telling a lie.

O`DONNELL: Yes, Ron, big difference between this and being on Sean Hannity. And these are the moments that not everyone`s ready for it to put it mildly.

I`m sure you`ve seen witnesses at the Judiciary --

KLAIN: Right --

O`DONNELL: Committee in different times who don`t really understand how they have to present themselves in situations like this.

KLAIN: Yes, and of course, if you keep changing your story, it`s hard to keep your story straight. And I think Don Junior has that problem as well.

As well as the problem of trying to protect his father, the president, which clearly he`s doing potentially or be thrown under the bus by his brother-in-law, one of the president`s closest advisors.

So this is a very complicated situation, and I think we are still many weeks or months away from all the truth coming out.

O`DONNELL: And Mieke, there are strong indications that the special prosecutor is pursuing the information about public statements that were made about this meeting by Donald Trump Jr. and the president`s involvement in those statements.

We know that the president was out of the country at the time. There was a small group with him that were on Air Force One as they were working on this.

And their indication that the special prosecutor wants to talk to those people who worked on the statement and wants to know about the president`s involvement.

What do you make of that particular line of investigation?

EOYANG: I think it shows that Mueller is serious in this obstruction of justice investigation, and he`s talking to all the people involved.

And the question is whether or not you think all the people will maintain the same story. The same is true of this Trump Tower meeting.

Now, there were a few people in that meeting that the Trump organization can`t control. For one, this translator who has worked for the U.S. government before.

If that person is forthcoming about what he remembers in the meetings to the Mueller or to the congressional investigators, he may tell a story that`s very different than what you`re hearing orchestrated by the president on Air Force One.

O`DONNELL: Mieke Eoyang, thank you very much for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.

EOYANG: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Ron, we`re going to talk to you in another segment, please stick around. Coming up, Russian ad buying during the 2016 election.

They were able to buy those ads online, and that may be the tip of the iceberg of what we know about that.

And President Trump sent out a tweet today because he was taking dictation from Nancy Pelosi.


O`DONNELL: Today a "New York Times" investigation reveals some of the ways Russian hackers used social media to influence the 2016 election.

On Twitter as on Facebook, Russian fingerprints are on hundreds or thousands of fake accounts that regularly posted anti-Clinton messages.

Today`s "Times" piece follows last night`s report that Facebook says it sold ads during the U.S. presidential campaign to a Russian troll farm with a history of pushing pro-Kremlin propaganda.

Democratic Senator Mark Warner, vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee says he thinks this new reporting is just the tip of the iceberg of what happened there and says we may need a new law that would make political ads on social media as transparent as the ones on television.


SEN. MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: Under the internet, you know, we`re not even able as the American public to look at the type of ads that these Russians were posting on some of these pages and some of these sites.

And I think we need to revisit that perhaps from a legal standpoint as well. Americans, we`ve got a first amendment, we need to protect it.

But they ought to be able to know if content is being sponsored by foreign governments and also they ought to be able to look at that content no matter who is sponsoring it if it`s in a political context.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Ken Vogel of the "New York Times" and Issie Lapowsky; the senior writer at "WIRED", she has reported extensively on Trump campaign`s use of social media platforms during the 2016 election.

And Issie, you`ve been on this case as is your jurisdiction at "WIRED". This is -- this is their turf. This is an incredibly difficult arena.

China(ph) trying to regulate in some sense advertising online is a very different proposition than on television.

ISSIE LAPOWSKY, SENIOR WRITER, WIRED: It is. It`s a much easier thing actually for people who might like to slip disinformation or false information online.

What you find is digital ads are actually regulated more like campaign buttons or bumper stickers, which when you think about it is absolutely absurd because the reach of a campaign button or bumper sticker has nothing on the reach of a Facebook post or a Facebook ad.

And so the other big issue is that the campaigns are the ones that are really responsible if they violate campaign law.

The onus does not fall on these platforms. And so I think that`s what a lot of regulators are looking at now. How do we ensure that digital platforms like Facebook are just as responsible as television networks and radio networks?

O`DONNELL: Ken, can it be simply a matter of disclosure the way if you see a political ad on television, it says it`s paid for by -- and sometimes that`s a candidate, and sometimes it`s an organization that you`re not quite sure what that organization is because it`s some kind of Super PAC that doesn`t really want you to know exactly what it is.

KEN VOGEL, NEW YORK TIMES: Yes, that`s exactly right, Lawrence. Once you get into the disclosure, there are ways to circumvent disclosure.

We see it all the time in those examples that you cited where a Super PAC that does have to disclose its donors is funded by an LLC or a 501C4 that doesn`t have to disclose its donors.

You know, particularly with the internet, with the regulation of political advertising on the internet, the rules that the Federal Election Commission passed on this date back to 2006, Facebook was two years old, didn`t have nearly the reach that it has today.

Twitter was like two months old when these laws were enacted. They just did not envision any of this stuff.

So there is room to try to increase the disclosure or some of the regulations about how money that is -- that is spent on internet advertising is regulated.

But there are -- you know, there are these sort of hurdles that you run into that are not unique to the internet, and that is following the money through all the way to its origination point is complicated.

And we`ve seen that with TV. We`ll see that, I think, if there is a move to regulate the internet in a more aggressive way.

And there are in fact all those moves. A Federal Election Commission member named Ellen Weintraub just today called on the FEC next week at its public meeting to open up a discussion about increased rule-making on this.

Expect a lot of resistance from the Republican members of that commission.

O`DONNELL: So Issie, Facebook came forward and said, look, this is what we found. We got rid of these accounts. We got rid of fraudulent accounts.

Twitter tries to get rid of fraudulent accounts, they both say they try to do this. But Twitter told the "New York Times", "we as a company should not be the arbiter of truth."

So there is a conceptual resistance within the companies to what the government might want them to try to do here.

O`DONNELL: Yes, absolutely. You see that happen every time Facebook or Twitter are faced with one of these free speech conversations.

We saw that a couple weeks ago with the Charlottesville debate, and what do you do with these white supremacists who are running rampant on these platforms.

They always say that we should not be the ones to determine who is and isn`t allowed to voice their views, whether they happen to be factual or not.

But I think that if these platforms don`t take a more proactive stance, then like Ken said, regulators are going to force them to be defensive.

And we all know that tech companies do not like regulation in any form, especially when it comes to monitoring speech on their platform.

O`DONNELL: And Ken, another thing they don`t like is getting rid of users because they are judged -- the value of their stocks are judged daily on the basis of traffic users, how many Twitter users are there, what are they doing, where are they in the world?

VOGEL: Yes, and that`s a great point. And you know, getting back to the regulatory sort of perspective on this, even if there are these bots that are out there that are spreading disinformation, where is the legal liability?

Is the legal liability on the -- you know, if these bots are funded by, say, a foreign government, well, you could argue that the payments from that foreign government to set up the bots, maybe is that an illegal campaign -- illegal foreign campaign expenditure in the U.S.?

Because the actual social media platforms are free to post on, and that is one of the problems that regulators are facing, that there is no expenditure to actually place these ads.

The only ones that the only internet advertising that is regulated is when there is a payment by a campaign or a Super PAC to put an ad on another media outlet or another website that`s not owned by the people who are doing the content.

You see with Facebook and with Twitter that it doesn`t require paid advertising in order to have a huge impact.

So that`s another potential impediment for regulation here.

O`DONNELL: Ken Vogel and Issie Lapowsky, thank you both for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.

LAPOWSKY: Thank you.

VOGEL: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, why is Nancy Pelosi Donald Trump`s new best friend, or is she? Does Donald Trump even know who his friends are?


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: So now Donald Trump takes dictation from Nancy Pelosi. And that is how we got this Tweet today. For all of those DACA that are concerned about your status during this six-month period, you have nothing to worry about. No action, exclamation point. And here`s now Nancy Pelosi said that that happened.


NANCY PELOSI, MINORITY LEADER OF THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF Representatives: I said thanks for calling. This is what we -- people really need reassurance from you, Mr. President, that the six-month period is not a period of roundup. But is just DACA is frozen and that these people will not be vulnerable. And I was reporting to my colleagues.

I said this is what I asked the President to do, and boom, boom, boom. The tweet appeared. So that was good.


O`DONNELL: Politico reports today that after getting scathing reviews from Republicans for surrendering to Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi in the Oval Office on Hurricane Harvey Relief and the schedule for raising the debt ceiling, today the President had jovial phone calls with Pelosi and Schumer. Donald Trump told Pelosi her coverage was better even than his. The press has been incredible, Trump said.

Steve Bannon`s Breitbart ran this headline about Nancy Pelosi today. Conservatives furious after Trump cuts debt ceiling deal with Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, that`s Steve Bannon`s Breitbart furious. As we reported last night, the deal Trump agreed to with Pelosi and Schumer could derail the entire Republican Legislative Agenda, including tax cuts, and there is not yet any indication that the President understands that that`s what he did.

Today the Senate voted on the Schumer/Pelosi/Trump deal. It passed with 80 votes including all Democrats. 17 Republican Senators voted against it including Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a state that has been hit with hurricanes before and will be hit again. He said he voted against the Hurricane Sandy Relief Bill and the debt ceiling increase because the bill did not also contain increases in military spending. Joining us now is Jonathan Capehart, opinion writer for the Washington Post and an MSNBC Contributor, and back with us is Ron Klain.

And Jonathan, so South Carolina, which could be hit by the next hurricane or the hurricane after that, their Senator stood up there today and said, no, I`m voting against hurricane relief because you don`t have other things in here totally unrelated to hurricane relief that I would like to have.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, it looks like Senator Graham and those other no votes are standing on principle here, I guess, at a time when they think that there`s no principle at all happening anywhere in this town. What happened yesterday in the Oval Office between the President, the Senate Minority Leader, the House Minority Leader, as I wrote in my piece today, nothing has made me laugh with such joy in politics since Election Day.

The idea that the President of the United States actually did the right thing but not for the right reason, meaning that it was the right thing to do but because Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer said, no, we don`t want to go with the Republican plan, this is what he want, and he goes for it is stunning. Republicans are right to be angry, and I think that while I`m chuckling now, my chuckles will disappear rather quickly. I`m sure the President will do something. I mean fresh hell Friday is tomorrow.

But this three-month extension brings this necessary argument over debt ceiling and budget and everything in December. Congress likes a deadline. But I think we might go through hell trying to get through that next deadline.

O`DONNELL: And, Ron, we talk about the President`s incompetence. We talk about the President`s ignorance. We talk about his complete lack of a strategic understanding of how the job works.

This is the example of all of that in one. He has apparently absolutely no comprehension that this deal is the best thing that could possibly have happened to the Democrats legislatively, enabling them and empowering them 90 days down the road, and that it disempowers Republicans on every single thing that`s in the Trump agenda.

RON KLAIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, Lawrence. You know, you ran one of the most powerful staffs on Capitol Hill. And you know that these savvy Capitol Hill insiders, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, got the better of Donald Trump on this budget and debt deal. He may know a lot about the art of the deal. They know about the smart way to deal, and they got the best of him.

And the most important fact there is the Republicans and Trump`s own Treasury Secretary wanted a deal to push out the debt ceiling for 18 months and basically make the Democrats irrelevant for the rest of the Congress. And what Schumer and Pelosi saw was if they kept Trump on a short leash, a 90-day debt ceiling extension, he would have to come back and deal with them again and again and again.

And so for the first time Democrats on Capitol Hill have leverage. They have power. They`re part of the conversation. they`ve now got to find a way to use that leverage and use that power.

But they have bargained their way back into relevance. And I think that really shows how smart and savvy these two senior leaders are.

O`DONNELL: And, Jonathan, Donald Trump, I`m sure, did not pick up one job approval point in any poll from any democrat supporting voter out there watching this.

CAPEHART: oh, no, not at all. I think -- I mean come on. The last seven months have been a horror show for Democrats in particular. But for any American who looks for moral authority from the Oval Office, who looks to a President to condemn hate and to condemn Nazis and White Supremacists who are tearing at the fabric of this country. So the idea that President Trump is going to get major kudos from Democrats because he blundered his way into doing something that Democrats like is laughable.

But you know what? What the President doesn`t realize is House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, he is facing two of the savviest people on Capitol Hill. Remember, Nancy Pelosi got Obamacare through her chamber with not a single Republican vote. And it`s a point of pride for her that she was able to keep her caucus together in order to push through this enormous and very difficult thing that we`re still dealing with now.

Senator Chuck Schumer, people must remember, you know, he comes out of New York. He is a very good -- not good -- brilliant political mind out of New York City politics. Remember, he was, if I`m not mistaken -- Ron, correct me if I`m wrong. He was the head of the DSCC, the senate campaign committee in 2006 when the Democrats retook the senate back then.

So Donald Trump doesn`t know who he`s dealing with sitting there in the Oval Office. He knows now.

O`DONNELL: Yes. The rich kid from Queens got beaten by the kid from Brooklyn on that one. And, Ron, the President in this situation seems to have been acting out of personal pique. It seem he doesn`t like Paul Ryan. Steve Bannon has won that war in Donald Trump`s mind.

He doesn`t like Mitch McConnell. Steve Bannon has won that war in Donald Trump`s mind. And it seems like he just wanted to show them in the room, in the moment, that he has the ability and the power to simply side with these guys instead of him.

Of course they knew he had that power. It never occurred to them probably that he was wild enough to use it in a way harmful to himself.

KLAIN: Yes. You Know, I think pretty much if you know the way that a first grade playground works, you can understand how the Trump Oval Office works. and Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer went in there and smiled at him and talked him up and flattered him, and he went along with it

And he just showed them. He showed Paul Ryan. He showed Mitch McConnell, and he showed them all the way to bringing these two Democratic Leaders back into the game, giving them leverage, and setting up an end of the year conflagration of legislation where the Democrats will be key players.

That is something I don`t think Jonathan or I could have imagine the a few weeks ago, and it is why he is laughing tonight and why Democrats on Capitol Hill are laughing tonight, one of our rare laughs in seven months of a lot of non-laughing times.

O`DONNELL: And of course Donald Trump has said hateful things about Nancy Pelosi. He has said even more hateful things about Chuck Schumer, and he will again, the clock is ticking on that. We don`t know when, but he definitely will. ron Klain, Jonathan Capehart, thank you both for joining us tonight.

KLAIN: Thanks, Lawrence.

CAPEHART: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Donald Trump was briefed today on what could become the worst natural disaster in U.S. history. Think about that. This hurricane bearing down on this country could be the worst natural disaster we have ever been hit with, the latest on the hurricane coming up.


O`DONNELL: NBC Meteorologist Bill Karins is at the MSNBC Weather Center. Bill, what`s the latest on Hurricane Irma?

BILL KARINS, NBC METEOROLOGIST: Good evening, Lawrence. There`s no good information coming out. A lot of the evening models continue.

The worse case scenario into Florida and our thoughts are with the Turks and Caicos. Look at the eye of the hurricane just breaking the islands here for the last four straight hours in that northern portion of the eye wall. They never got the calm of the eye.

So let`s go show you the wider view. And one thing to notice, look how much wider and bigger the storm got. The cloud field just really expanding, the storm is breathing. It`s not really showing any signs of weakening whatsoever.

And that`s more bad news. As I said, I don`t have anything good to report for the State of Florida. 175-mile-per-hour winds continues, there`s 55 miles West, South West of Grand Turk Island. Next it will be into the Southern Bahamas. And then we`ll take that slow trip towards Florida.

So we`re waiting for a new update from the hurricane center. We`ll be getting that shortly. I want to show you that forecast path. It does take it 2:00 P.M. near Miami as a Category 4, then straight up through the State of Florida.

You couldn`t ask for a worth path than this. We do have hurricane watches that have been issued as you`d expect for Florida. These will be expanded in the next probably 15 minutes to include almost the entire state.

They`ll probably go north all the way to Jacksonville. We`ll find that out officially shortly. And of course we continue to watch our models. These are the things that give us the guidance in the Hurricane Center of where the storm is going to go and if we need to take any little tweaks to that path.

I don`t think they`re going to make hardly any changes whatever so the current forecast because all of these lines head up straight towards Miami. Look how clustered they are here. This is excellent agreement that at 8:00 A.M. Sunday the eye of the storm should be somewhere here South of Miami or maybe even over the top of Miami.

And then that will all head northwards during the day on Sunday. We`re talking about major destruction, Category 4, maybe even Cat 5 and some of the most highly congested populated areas of Southeast Florida, Lawrence. You know, we talked about how Harvey was one of the worst billion dollar disasters in our country. If this takes this path, this could double what Harvey did.

O`DONNELL: Bill Karins thank you very much for the latest, really appreciate that. I know you`re going to have a long night. Thank You, Bill.

Coming up, the House of Representatives will vote tomorrow on the Pelosi/Schumer/Trump deal for Hurricane Relief Funding and increasing the debt ceiling. A member of Congress in the track of the hurricane will join us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: As we reported earlier today, the Senate passed a $15 billion Hurricane Relief Package for Hurricane Harvey victims in Texas and Louisiana. According to Bloomberg/ FEMA is spending about $155,000 a minute in Texas and Louisiana and is now preparing to respond to Hurricane Irma in Florida. But the Senate Passed Relief Package will cover just a fraction of the estimated $180 billion in damage in Texas and Louisiana. Of course, it doesn`t include any federal aid for Hurricane Irma that could hit South Florida on Sunday.

Joining us now, Democratic Congressman Ted Deutch whose district is in Florida under the Hurricane Watch. Congressman Deutsche, your district is a coastal district, Fort Lauderdale, just north of Miami. What is your judgment about the federal government`s preparedness to handle what`s coming?

TED DEUTCH, DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSMAN: Well, Lawrence, I`ve spoken with FEMA officials, and I know that they`re prepared to respond. They`ve got millions of gallons of water. They`ve got millions of meals.

There are cots and blankets and generators that are all positioned, ready to be put into place when needed. That`s going to be an important step after the storm. But it will be just the very first step of what is going to be a massive, likely, based on the track we`ve seen, a massive response that`s going to be necessary to this devastating storm.

O`DONNELL: And when you get -- when you try to do your own coordinating with the Federal Government on this, are you getting the kind of responsiveness that you hoped for?

DEUTCH: Well, we`ve had repeated conversations with FEMA, and yes, the concern was with all of the attention, necessary attention to the really awful situation in Texas, that there might be some difficulty in responding to Florida. But I was at the Emergency Operation Center earlier today. And the coordination between the Federal Government, the State Government, Local Governments and the nonprofit sector is very impressive. It`s what you would expect it to be.

But it`s really hard to know how we`re going to be able to respond to what looks like, based on the footage that you`re actually showing now from where the storm`s been, what looks to be the potential for a catastrophic event.

O`DONNELL: Congressman, what are your personal plans for Sunday? Have you decided yet where you should be on Sunday when this hits?

DEUTCH: well, I came home from Washington this morning, and I decided that I was going to be in the district for this storm. I`m taking care of my house and my family. And we`re ready to go.

I`ve spent the time going out and visiting with and talking with local elected officials. But after the storm, there`s going to be the need for an immediate response. And I wanted to be here to be able to work with the local officials to help provide that.

O`DONNELL: As we all know, not everyone can jump in a car and start driving. Some people, even if they want to evacuate, have their own problems, difficulties, and challenges trying to evacuate. What is in place to help people evacuate who don`t have the wherewithal to evacuate themselves?

DEUTCH: Well, the local governments have gone to great lengths to ensure that people who need assistance evacuating, can get it, that people with special needs will have places to go, to make sure that people with pets will have shelters that they can go to. It`s really important for people to pay attention to, where I am, Broward County and Palm Beach County, but it`s true in Miami-Dade and all throughout South Florida, to pay close attention to what the local government officials are saying. They can help provide that assistance.

But Lawrence, I would say to the people down here who live in areas that have mandatory evacuations, that have been announced, they cannot wait until Saturday morning and think that they`re going to be able to simply head on out and go to a shelter. They need to leave, and they need to leave their homes tomorrow so that they can be in a shelter. One other thing I think that`s really important, if this comes through, we`re going to lose power.

It`s very important people have all of the information they`re going to need written down for them, or on their phones, on their devices so that after the storm, they`ll have the resources. They`ll know where to turn to try to get the assistance that they`re going to need after the storm passes through.

O`DONNELL: Congressman Ted Deutch, thank you very much for joining us tonight. And this network will continue to help you get those messages out to the people who need to hear it. Thank you very much, Congressman.

DEUTCH: Appreciate it. Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Tonight`s Last Word is next.


O`DONNELL: Tonight, five former Presidents of the United States launched the one America appeal to support victims of Hurricane Harvey.


BILL CLINTON, 42ND U.S. PRESIDENT: Hurricane Harvey brought terrible destruction. But it also brought out the best in humanity.

BARACK OBAMA, 44TH U.S. PRESIDENT: As former Presidents, we wanted to help our fellow Americans begin to recover.

JIMMY CARTER, 39TH U.S. PRESIDENT: Our friends in Texas, including President Bush, 41 and 43, are doing just that.

GEORGE W. BUSH, 43RD U.S. PRESIDENT: People are hurting down here. But as one Texan put it, we`ve got more love in Texas than water.

GEORGE H. W. BUSH, 41ST U.S. PRESIDENT: We love you, Texas.

(END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Presidents Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Carter get tonight`s Last Words. The 11th hour with Brian Williams starts now.


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