Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: September 11, 2017 Guest: Peter Baker, Max Boot, Jed Shugerman, Kurt Andersen
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Good evening Rachel. And according to Steve Bannon in his interview with Charlie Rose, that kind of thing you`re talking about like tell us when the Russian ambassador visits the president.
You`re just saying that because you`re trying to get more enemies for America. You`re just trying to -- you`re trying to turn Russia --
MADDOW: You know me.
O`DONNELL: Into an enemy of America. I mean, his answer about -- Charlie asked that question about why doesn`t the president ever say anything about Russia?
I mean, the answer being, oh, we don`t want to create another enemy.
MADDOW: We don`t want to -- you know what? If he keeps saying nice things about Russia, eventually, we`ll be able to invest in our inner cities.
O`DONNELL: Yes -- oh, yes --
MADDOW: That`s why he --
O`DONNELL: Oh, yes --
MADDOW: Brought the chain of logic.
O`DONNELL: Yes, because we will so reduce defense spending and all of that stuff that we do because we`re nervous about Russia that we will rebuild Detroit. That`s the Bannon theory.
MADDOW: Yes, exactly. Every time Trump says something nice about Putin, you know, a vacant lot gets filled in --
O`DONNELL: Yes --
MADDOW: In Newark.
O`DONNELL: Yes --
MADDOW: Yes, that`s right --
O`DONNELL: We`ve got the pictures of those vacant lots in there, there`s still vacant --
MADDOW: Yes --
O`DONNELL: But we just have to be patient.
MADDOW: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thanks, Rachel. Well, Hurricane Irma is now tropical storm Irma. After moving through Florida with its high winds and heavy rain this weekend, one person was killed in Florida and one in Georgia.
At least 36 other people in the path of Irma were killed, most of them in Cuba where 10 people were reported killed.
The other deaths were on the other islands in Irma`s path. And the most damage done to this country was actually done in the United States Virgin Islands.
That`s Florida you are seeing there, but the damage done in St. Thomas and St. John is much more severe than anything we`ve seen here in the mainland, and we will surely be hearing more about that as the week goes on.
Officials in Florida are still assessing the damage and will be assessing the damage for a long time.
Part of the Florida keys appeared devastated, storm surge left massive flooding in Jacksonville, Florida, where flooding there set new records after the St. Johns river overflowed.
Tonight, more than 8 million people in the southeast are without power and 6.5 million of those people are in Florida.
Tonight, Florida Governor Rick Scott tweeted "more than 30,000 restoration personnel have been activated to help restore power as quickly as possible following the storm`s impact.
It`s not yet clear when people in Florida will be able to return to their homes."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM BOSSERT, HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: Now, though, the message is not to rush re-entry. There are still dangerous conditions, down electric lines, flood conditions, problems that would be compounded by your re-entry.
And so listen to your local officials not only about evacuation, but then about when and how to stagger your re-entry for a reason.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Irma is currently in Georgia heading to Alabama tomorrow. Its winds have weakened to 45 miles per hour.
The effects of Irma are being felt as far north as Charleston, South Carolina where water flooded the historic downtown area.
The National Hurricane Center predicts Irma will become a tropical depression by tomorrow. Joining us now from Jacksonville, Florida, Nbc News correspondent Catie Beck.
Catie, what`s the situation there tonight?
CATIE BECK, NBC NEWS: Good evening, Lawrence. Yes, we are in a low-lying community that is right next to the St. John`s River in Jacksonville.
And as you can see, we`re walking in what is the storm surge that`s taken over so many neighborhoods here, especially the ones along the river front.
This neighborhood just a few hours ago, water levels were significantly higher. At this point, the tide is headed out, so a lot of this water is actually making its way back to the river.
Around 2:00 a.m. this morning, that is expected to change. These waters are expected to come back into these areas and that is really going to be the balance, the struggle over the next couple of days is you make some progress, but as this tide goes in and out, so do the water levels.
So you can return to your home, but it could be at your own risk because you really can`t predict how high these waters are going to be as they come in and out.
Now, the mayor of Jacksonville said it could be a week or more before everything is restored back to normal levels in terms of the water here.
But Jacksonville was sort of in the perfect storm if you will of rain and obviously the river front and that surge just sort of all factors converging here and a lot of the downtown, a lot of the neighborhoods look like this.
I mean, we are literally, you know, a stone`s throw from i-95 right in the center of downtown Jacksonville.
The financial district looks very similar to this. But right now, as I said, the tide has gone out. These water levels are significantly down from where they were, but come tomorrow morning, come daylight, it will look much more flooded as it was here today. Lawrence?
O`DONNELL: Catie Beck, thank you very much for joining us tonight, appreciate that. We`re joined now from Coconut Grove, Florida, by Nbc News correspondent Maya Rodriguez. Maya, what`s the situation where you are tonight?
MAYA RODRIGUEZ, NBC NEWS: Well, Lawrence, I can tell you that Miami-Dade County is a dark county tonight. About 960,000 homes here lost power.
Now, Florida Power and Light which supplies electricity here says about 150,000 of those homes have been restored, that still means you have quite a number of people here that are in the dark.
The county also say that about 60 percent of the traffic lights in the county are out. Now, at the major intersections they have people there directing traffic.
They have police officers, community relations officers out there kind of directing traffic through these major intersections.
But at the majority of them which, of course, are much smaller, you`re supposed to make a four-way stop and a lot of people just are not doing that at this point.
Now I want to explain where we are right now. Like you mentioned, we are in Coconut Grove and we`re at one of the marinas here.
Take a look at this behind me. I mean, these boats were pushed into this area. This is a clump of trees here that sort of lines the bank.
These are the boats of a nonprofit here. It`s called shake a leg. They basically take people who have disabilities out on the water.
They`ve been around since before Hurricane Andrew, more than 25 years. A dozen of their boats have now been destroyed.
These are boats that they were actually planning to use this weekend. They were going to take high school seniors out with some of these particular students who had these special needs out on the water.
Of course, that is not going to be happening. They say they`re in a major rebuilding process at this point because Irma has hit them hard.
Like so many other people here in this community. We`re not just talking about boats, but about people`s homes.
There are so many trees down on the streets here blocking some of the roadways, some of them have landed on homes.
That part of the recovery, the clean-up is just beginning here and, of course, with no electricity, it can only happen during the daylight hours and frankly, it`s Summer here in Miami, it is hot and it is going to be uncomfortable here for the foreseeable future. Lawrence?
O`DONNELL: Maya Rodriguez, thank you for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.
Joining us now, Msnbc`s Chris Hayes, Chris is in Naples, Florida, tonight. Chris, you are basically where the area that took a direct hit. What`s the situation there now?
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC: You know, it`s really interesting. Naples was spared a little bit because that storm first made landfall in Marco Island and the most crucial thing is that that storm surge which is feared to be about 15 feet peaked out at about 6 feet.
I am right now about three quarters of a mile from the beach -- I was talking to some residents here, still the water came up to their knees here almost a mile from the beach.
If that had been 16 feet like they said, this entire area would have been flooded out and we would be looking at massive devastation and probably a lot more death, frankly.
So everyone in Naples got really lucky, that was always the biggest concern. Still driving around today, you see tons of flooding and you see tons of trees down, but by and large, Naples escaped the worst of it.
O`DONNELL: And then you seeing much electricity there?
HAYES: You know, so, this is really sort of crucial I think to understanding the aftermath of disaster, and it goes for Florida right now and it goes for disasters more broadly.
You know, that first moment when the hurricanes passing and people need to be sheltered or when the rains or the flood come, people focus on that and you survive that.
And for the folks that do survive that, a lot of times the worst part of the disaster comes after. And right now, in Southwest Florida, there`s no power for hardly anyone.
Some lights actually just came on within the last hour. It looks like it`s the line that goes to the hospital which got knocked out last night.
So power is really scarce and fuel is incredibly scarce and gas stations need power to run the pumps. And what that means as days go by is that people with different resources, different amounts of money, frankly, are going to have very different options in terms of how they can negotiate what this next period is.
If it`s two or three days without power, that`s one thing, if it`s two or three weeks without power, that is a whole other story for the folks down here.
O`DONNELL: And is there a way for someone down there now to have a sense of when help will arrive?
HAYES: There really isn`t. I mean, you know, we saw Florida Power and Light, FPL folks out here earlier today, taking note they did get one line up which is impressive and the people that we talked to in the building that got it up were extremely ecstatic as you might expect they are.
But you know, this is a massive grid that sustained the tremendous amount of damage both in power lines and also I imagine sub-stations because of the pulsing of the power that was happening and the expectation.
I talked to a county commissioner earlier today, and I could tell she wouldn`t give me a benchmark in terms of time for how long she thought it would take.
But she clearly was thinking I think in terms of weeks. That`s a real possibility for a lot of people here and that is going to cause tremendous hardship for folks.
I mean, now in some ways is really a tough period for people as they try to get their lives together but without access to gas, without access to electricity, with elderly relatives that they`re caring for which is the case for many people down here, it`s going to be very hard to get back into routine unless all that stuff comes back.
O`DONNELL: Yes, when you look back at Katrina, there were people who left New Orleans thousands and thousands and thousands of people, a lot of them ended up in Houston and the kids just enrolled in school there because they knew they weren`t getting back even during that school year.
This is probably, surely in most areas going to be a faster recovery than that. But people have to think about that as the school year begins. What do we do?
HAYES: Yes, and that`s going to -- a lot of that is going to turn on power. I mean, you know, it`s an obvious point and anyone who`s ever been through a power outage knows this.
But the hours you go without power and gas, particularly when those two things are combined, the sort of moorings of modern life start to slip away and you start having to make all sorts of calculations.
That`s for employment, that`s for our schools are going to be able to run, can you go visit the doctor, can you get dialysis?
We talked to a family today at the Germain arena. Their car was flooded out in that parking lot. They went to the shelter, they were there with two kids.
And she who doesn`t have a car, she was calling the insurance company, but good luck getting through in the wake of a disaster like this.
You know, she`s now -- doesn`t have wheels and she probably is going home to a home without power. That`s really putting people in a tough spot and it`s -- can`t say it enough.
The lower down you are on the socio-economic scale, the less access you have to money and resources, the more tenuous your employment situation is the harder that`s going to hit you.
O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes, thank you very much for joining us tonight from Naples, Florida, really appreciate it, Chris, thank you.
HAYES: You bet, my pleasure.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, some of the president`s lawyers were so worried about Jared Kushner`s contacts with Russians that they advised the president to get Jared Kushner out of the White House, to fire him.
That`s tonight`s breaking news story and we`re going to discuss that next. And later, Steve Bannon says you can call him an anti-Semite, you can call him a racist.
You know, the only people I`ve ever heard say something like that are anti- Semites and racists.
O`DONNELL: Tonight`s breaking Washington news comes from the "Wall Street Journal" which reports that some of the president`s lawyers have advised him that Jared Kushner should leave the White House and that those lawyers believed earlier this Summer that the president was going to take their advice and get rid of Jared Kushner.
So they actually wrote a statement explaining Jared Kushner`s departure from the White House, a statement that was obviously never used.
The "Wall Street Journal" reports some of President Donald Trump`s lawyers earlier this Summer concluded that Jared Kushner should step down as senior White House adviser because of possible legal complications related to a probe of Russia`s involvement in the 2016 presidential election.
And aired concerns about him to the president and listen to this sourcing, "people familiar with the matter said after some members of the legal team aired their concerns to Mr. Trump in June including at least one meeting in the White House, press aides to the legal team began to prepare for the possibility that Mr. Kushner would step down."
Drafting a statement explaining his departure and, again, listen to the sourcing, said "people familiar with the matter."
Some of Mr. Trump`s attorneys worried that Mr. Kushner`s continued employment carried risks that could possibly involve other White House officials, a person familiar with the matter said.
If, for example, Mr. Kushner mentioned the probe even casually in a meeting, aides who heard his remarks could face inquiries from Mr. Mueller`s agents.
Some lawyers were also concerned that Mr. Kushner might discuss the probe with the president without a lawyer present.
The journal reports tonight that the president`s lawyers were aware of meetings that Jared Kushner had with Russians that had not yet been become public, in particular the meeting in June of last year at Trump Tower that was arranged by Donald Trump Jr.
The journal reports tonight, "anticipating that the meeting would become public, members of the legal team in June already had developed talking points to manage the political fallout including a statement that would explain a potential Kushner resignation.
The statement on behalf of Mr. Kushner expressed regret that the political environment have become so toxic that what he viewed as a standard meeting was becoming a weapon for Mr. Trump`s critics according to two people familiar with the documents.
Obviously, those talking points were never used or should we say have not been used yet. Joining us now, Jed Shugerman; professor of law at Fordham University.
Also with us Max Boots; senior fellow for national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and a former foreign policy adviser for McCain 2008, Romney 2012, then Rubio 2016 and Peter Baker is the chief White House correspondent for the "New York Times" and an Msnbc political analyst.
Professor Shugerman, to this legal issue of advising the president that it is unwise to have Jared Kushner in the White House because he could be in conversations with White House staff that then would be of interest to the special prosecutor, what`s your reading of that?
JED SHUGERMAN, PROFESSOR OF LAW, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY: Well, it`s important to look at the timeline. It was actually Nbc News that had this headline.
Was Kushner seeking a Russian bailout for a Manhattan building? Congress will ask and that was immediately before -- Kushner`s testimony before Congress.
So what was that Manhattan building? This all centers on 666 Fifth Avenue, a disastrous real estate purchase, the biggest real estate purchase in Manhattan history for $1.8 billion.
Somehow, Jared Kushner put down only $15 million on a $1.8 billion purchase and it has been a disaster, he bought it at the top of the market in 2007 and it has been a burden on the family ever since.
And the question is, could they get a bailout from Qatar? They couldn`t -- that fell apart, then they tried to get a bailout from China.
Then the next step in December, this all stems back to that secret line that Kushner tried to spearhead between the Russian embassy and the Kremlin.
And that secret line is -- there`s some conjecture that that was part of a meeting to set up a Russian bailout from VE Bank that was part of, you know -- I`ll scratch your back, you scratch mine, a billion dollars in sanctions being lifted for several million dollars of bailout.
That`s at least the conjecture.
O`DONNELL: And Peter Baker, this is the -- not just the leakiest White House in history. This is the leakiest legal team in history because all the sourcing on this points to at some level the Trump legal team outside of the White House representing him in the investigation.
The sourcing on this is all people familiar with the Trump lawyers and the Trump press, the lawyers press people and what they were preparing for Jared Kushner.
And here is the president being represented now by an incredible leaky legal team.
PETER BAKER, CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, that`s right. Look, you know, that legal team by itself has been tribal much like --
O`DONNELL: Yes --
BAKER: President Trump`s own political team. You know, it has its own rival reason internally. It was -- it took a while to sort of shook out to the point where today at least being led inside by Ty Cobb and outside by John Dowd.
That was not the case in June, now you know, there was this turmoil, the team was sort of sidelined and so on and so forth.
No question that the previous legal team, the one that`s now basically sidelined, had his problem with Jared Kushner.
They were frustrated by him because he was in fact talking to the president, their client, outside of their presence on the issue of the investigation.
They felt that undercut everybody and that it was not the smart way to do business. That came to a head and I think that`s one of the reasons why they`re no longer the main part of the legal team.
O`DONNELL: And we have a statement from one of President Trump`s lawyers Ty Cobb apparently; the president`s special counsel.
So he is actually in the White House payroll, he is not --
BAKER: Right --
O`DONNELL: One of the -- he is not one of the lawyers that this article is actually talking about, so he may not have the vaguest idea what he`s talking about when he says "the "Wall Street Journal" is completely false.
The "Wall Street Journal" source completely false, Jared Kushner is one of the president`s most trusted and able and intelligent advisors.
He has performed" -- OK, a kind of a meaningless statement that has only -- the only relevant line being it`s completely false.
And Max Boot, that`s from someone who is not in a position to know it`s completely false.
Mark Corallo was the spokesperson for the legal team, which in and of itself is an unusual position to even exist for a group of lawyers to have -- here`s our press spokesman in the world of attorney-client privilege where we`re not supposed to say anything.
He quit, he resigned sometime ago. People like that are out there, people like that are reachable possibly for stories like this.
MAX BOOT, SENIOR FELLOW, NATIONAL SECURITY STUDIES, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Well, there`s no question that this revolving door at the White House makes it difficult to keep people`s loyalty and to keep these secrets out of public view.
I mean, there are so many questions that are raised by this story. You just raised some of them about why this was leaked and by whom.
The -- even more fundamental question I have is, why was Jared Kushner, you know, hired in the first place? I mean, I guess --
O`DONNELL: Oh, that --
BOOT: It`s kind of -- I mean, I guess it`s sort of obvious why he was hired by --
O`DONNELL: Haven`t you seen his resume?
BOOT: It`s a glittering resume with a 36-year-old guy with no success in business, his biggest claim to fame is buying and destroying the "New York Observer", and all of a sudden, he is one of the most powerful aides in the White House.
I mean, let`s be clear here. I mean, does anybody think remotely there`s any chance that if he hadn`t been the president`s son-in-law he wouldn`t have been hired?
Or that if he hadn`t been the president`s son-in-law, he wouldn`t have been fired as quickly as Mike Flynn or the mooch or the other people who have walked in and out of this White House?
I mean, this is a reminder to me of why Congress in its wisdom in 1967 passed an anti-nepotism law.
It is not a good idea to have close relatives on the payroll that you cannot get rid of no matter how incompetent or compromised they may be.
And on the evidence, I would say Jared Kushner is both incompetent and compromised. He is somebody who in any other White House would never have gotten a security clearance in the first place, and certainly would never have kept it up until now.
I mean, it is a scandal that this guy is still at the very center of White House decision-making. This -- I mean, even leaving aside, you know, the legal liability involved, this is just a national security risk and it`s just an embarrassment.
O`DONNELL: And Professor Shugerman, an example of what the Trump lawyers would be nervous about is Jared Kushner according to our reports which have not been disputed, advised the president to fire James Comey.
This is the guy who was one of the last people speaking to him before he decides to fire the FBI director, believing that that would somehow help him in this investigation.
And by all accounts, it`s only made things worse. So if you`re Trump`s lawyer and you know there`s a guy in there who is saying to your client, hey, fire the FBI director, you know this person is harming your client from your perspective.
SHUGERMAN: Absolutely. I mean, I think what we learned with that letter that was being drafted by Steven Miller, the revelation of about a week ago that Steven Miller and Trump drafted a letter and then read it.
It was Mike Pence and Jared Kushner --
O`DONNELL: About the firing of -- yes --
SHUGERMAN: The letter to -- that was the real reason they were firing --
O`DONNELL: Yes --
SHUGERMAN: That allegedly that it was about the Russian probe and then Kushner behind the scenes was advising this firing.
He is the arguments that a prosecutor might be looking at are to look for evidence of conspiracy to obstruct justice, aiding and abetting obstruction of justice and you are in my new favorite word misprision of a felony.
O`DONNELL: Yes, exactly --
SHUGERMAN: Right --
O`DONNELL: Right, we`re going to take a break here. Coming up, Steve Bannon says the biggest mistake in modern political history was made by none other than Donald Trump.
And guess who advised him to do it? Steve Bannon`s arch enemy Jared Kushner.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: They can call me an anti-Semite, they can call me a racist, they can call me names, they can call me anything you want, OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Well, OK, I`m glad we got that settled. Charlie Rose`s interview with Steve Bannon on "60 Minutes" last night was extraordinary.
Charlie Rose did his usual excellent job as an interviewer, but what made the interview extraordinary was the sheer madness spotted by Steve Bannon who for seven months, Donald Trump actually thought was worthy of being employed in the White House at your expense, as taxpayer expense.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLIE ROSE, JOURNALIST: We`re all immigrants. America was built on the native Americans who were here --
BANNON: Don`t give me -- this is the thing of the leftist --
ROSE: Sorry --
BANNON: Charlie, that`s beneath you. America is built on our citizens. Look at the 19th century, what built America is called the American system. From Hamilton to Polk to Henry Clay to Lincoln to the Roosevelts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was -- that was the beginning of Bannon`s rant about how the United States was not built by immigrants.
That it was built by what he called our citizens and the very first citizen he mentions is Alexander Hamilton who was, of course, an immigrant from the island of St. Croix.
The most important overall point about the Bannon interview is how he is wrong about everything and inconsistent and I mean, inconsistent with Steve Bannon himself in the actual interview itself.
Watch Steve Bannon absolutely refuse to name names, he`s not that kind of guy, he`s not going to name names.
And then watch how easy it is for Charlie Rose to get him to name names. Here are some of the people who Steve Bannon thinks are idiots compared to Steve Bannon the genius.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: I don`t want to name names.
CHARLIE ROSE, TALK SHOW HOST: You have to name names. You`re painting with a broad brush.
BANNON: Condy Rice, the George W. Bush, the entire National Security Apparatus.
ROSE: Collin Powell, Condy Rice?
BANNON: Absolutely, all of it.
ROSE: Dick Cheney, all of it?
BANNON: All of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: I don`t want to name names. Just to remind you that was the first line you heard in that dialect. Steve Bannon professed undying personal loyalty to Donald Trump and condemned anyone whose loyalty to Trump has ever wavered. He promised the protect Trump forever.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BANNON: I`m going to be his wingman outside for the entire time. To protect -
ROSE: So you`ll not be attacking Donald Trump?
BANNON: I can`t -- no. our purpose is to support Donald Trump. by the way -
ROSE: And destroy his enemies
BANNON: To make sure his enemies know that there`s no free shot on goal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And then Steve Bannon took a free shot on goal. I mean on Donald Trump. He said Donald Trump made the biggest mistake in modern political history.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROSE: Someone said to me that you described the firing of James Comey. You`re a student of history as the biggest mistake in political history.
BANNON: That would be probably -- probably be too bombastic for me but maybe modern political history.
ROSE: The firing was the biggest mistake in modern political history?
BANNON: if you`re saying that`s associated with me, I`ll leave it at that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Back with us, Peter Baker, Jed Shugerman and Max Boot. And Peter this might be one of the best pictures delivered of why the Trump Whitehouse is the incoherent mess it appears to be.
PETER BAKER, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, look. You know, there`s no question that the firing of James Comey added to the president`s troubles. I think anybody in Washington with experience would have told him that. you -- there`s a reason Presidents don`t fire the people investigating their teams, because in fact, of course, it raises the question seemingly being investigated by Robert Mueller. Whether that constitutes obstruction of justice, Steve Bannon said in the interview, he didn`t think there was a Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller investigation of the Whitehouse.
Clearly as a matter of politics, if nothing else, it`s created more problems than it solved. It does raise the question how did that happen? Who did advise him to do it?
Why did the President ignore the advice of those that said don`t do it? Does he regret that decision?
O`DONNELL: And Max, the notion that there`s not going to be a Special Prosecutor is something we don`t know because we don`t know what Donald Trump could have come up with beyond just firing Comey and whether Rod Rosenstein as the evidence emerged at a certain point said wait OK, this is enough. We have to have a special prosecutor here so we don`t know that. If Bannon wants to claim -- I`m one of the people that advised him against it -- fine.
That would be if you looked at the interview the only rational position he took in the entire interview. That`s what seems to be lost about the interview, It`s utter madness from start to finish.
MAX BOOT, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well it tells you something that on this matter at any rate of firing Director Comey Steve Bannon was the voice of reason in the Whitehouse.
BOOT: That tells you how crazy this whitehouse has become. And I mean, he is right. a horrible decision. And I mean you`re right too that it doesn`t necessarily mean there`s not going to be an independent counsel absent the firing of Comey and should have been before that. You said that. I said that.
Others said that. But as a practical, political matter, Bannon has a point. This is what turned the temperature up and forced Rosenstein to do it and people who might be reluctant to go ahead and support this. there`s no question it backfired badly because this is kind of typical of Trump`s M.O. which is to do the first thing to think of like a petulant little child and in this case the consequences are pretty serious because he has Robert Mueller, this incorruptible former FBI Director, digging around in the financial transactions and dealings with Russia and I very much doubt that the record is -- will stand up to that kind of scrutiny but as, you know, as Bannon said and he is right, Trump has nobody to blame except for himself with the fine mess that he`s gotten himself into.
O`DONNELL: Well Bannon is trying to give Jared Kushner some of that blame. And Jed Shugerman, people forget that prior to the firing of James Comey, the Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was saying, if you don`t appoint a Special Prosecutor we`ll roadblock every single thing you`re trying to do here, So Donald Trump`s new favorite partner in the Senate Chuck Schumer would not have allowed an increase in the debt ceiling, would not have allowed an extension of the budget, would have allowed nothing if he wasn`t getting a special prosecutor. We were on the verge of politically speaking of the special prosecutor before comey was fired.
JED SHUGERMAN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I think that`s probably right. I think there`s a lot of investigations. imagine if Comey still in power in the FBI, the FBI was actively working on a lot of these threads, right? So their investigation was leading in these directions and they would have made recommendations.
O`DONNELL: Within the protocol to the Justice Department, would it be proper for the FBI Director to say to Rod Rosenstein, I think we need a special prosecutor here?
SHUGERMAN: That would be part of the -- I think that`s advice within the scope of the FBI Director could say. one more -- one point on Bannon, you know, I think in the voice of reason, may have been a political prognosticator if he was saying that this error firing Comey was worse than Nixon decision to audio tape everything in the Oval Office. He may have predicting a similar if not a greater conclusion.
O`DONNELL: Peter, there`s reports out that Steve Bannon has a hit list out. He was trying to play real tough guy with Charlie Rose in the interview saying he`s now -- indicating he may be going after some republicans in senate primaries and congressional primaries.
BAKER: Well, that`s exactly right and that`s exactly why Republicans are so worried about. This is a President who while obviously a Republican has not been sort of part and parcel of this party in a way that makes people feel loyalty toward him. He demands loyalty and doesn`t seem to give it, that`s the way people in the hill believe it.
They saw that last week. And I think that this idea of going after Republicans who are insufficiently supportive of the President then bears very ominously for the party heading into next year`s midterm election. Already facing a political environment in which they could be on the defensive. Imagine then if some of these incumbents are facing sort of fire from both sides. So, we`ll see how -- you know, whether they follow through on that. There`s a lot of bluster to use his own word, bombastic I guess he said. But you can imagine the way people who are in office right now, Republicans, are looking at that.
O`DONNELL: Max, obviously, the Democrats are cheering Steve Bannon on, please do as much as you can to attack republicans in primaries and the record is kind of weak. last year, 2016, the Steve Bannon primary candidate, the attacker against Paul Ryan -- Paul Nehlen. He got 15 percent of the vote against Paul Ryan`s 84 percent of the vote. So Paul Ryan is telling the troops when Bannon comes after you, he might be able do get 15 percent against you.
BOOT: I mean, there`s not much evidence to suggest that Steve Bannon is some kind of closet genius as he seems to imagine himself to be. I mean he`s a guy who hitched a ride on the Trump campaign in the closing stages and for whatever crazy reason you know Trump managed to win and so Bannon anointed himself as the savior of American politics, But as you say the track record in politics is very limited and very spotty. And the ideas are crackpot.
I mean he`s a guy whose read a few books and the scary thing here is that he`s still has Trump`s ear. I mean remember that he is still somebody that Trump is talking to even though he is out of the Whitehouse. So he will continue exerting his loopy influence.
O`DONNELL: Peter Baker, Max Boot, Jed Shugarman, thank you all for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.
Coming up, President Trump`s -- what President Trump had to say today about 9/11 and what he has said in the past about 9/11.
O`DONNELL: This morning the President participated in a 9/11 memorial ceremony at the Pentagon where 16 years ago today American Airlines flight number 77 crashed into the west side of the building.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: TO the family members with us today, I know that it`s with a pained and heavy heart that you come back to this place. But by doing so, by choosing to persevere through the grief, the sorrow, you honor your heroes.
You renew our courage and you strengthen all of us. You really do. You strengthen all of us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Here`s what candidate Donald Trump said about 9/11 when he was not reading a teleprompter last year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Excuse me. I lost hundreds of friends. The World Trade Center came down during the -- kept us safe? That`s not safe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: I immediately pointed out that night that Donald Trump was lying about losing hundreds of friends. He did not lose hundreds of friends on 9/11. The next day on Meet the Press Donald Trump said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I was there. I lost many, many friends in that tragedy. That was the worst tragedy in the history of the country, worse than Pearl Harbor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: I immediately I pointed out that was a lie, too. He did not lose many, many friends. But it was hard to get anyone else in the media interested in that because obviously Trump lies were coming fast and furious every day, every hour and hard to keep up with. No politician had ever lied about losing about hundreds of friends on 9/11 or many, many friends. No politician had ever been caught trying to steal the grief of 9/11 families and make it his own. Donald Trump lost no friends on 9/11. None.
Donald Trump did not attend a single 9/11 funeral, not one. Donald Trump did not participate in a single 9/11 commemoration until he was running for President. No presidential candidate other than Donald Trump has ever lied about 9/11 that way. He`s the only one who lied about seeing thousands of Muslims celebrating in New Jersey on 9/11.
This was Donald Trump`s first September, today was his first September 11th as President, and so, today the President of the United States spoke directly to familiar members of 9/11 victims about, the grief, the sorrow. But he still has not apologized to them for trying to steal their grief and their sorrow and use it as his own political sledgehammer in a republican presidential debate as you just saw him do. Joining us now to discuss the first September 11th of the Trump presidency, Kurt Andersen.
He`s the author of the new book "Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire". He`s the host of a public radio program, studio 360. This is also the book that tells us how we ended up with a President Donald Trump. And we have to apologize to viewers. I - I - I urged you to buy this book last week to the point where it got sold out off Amazon. But --
KURT ANDERSEN, AMERICAN AUTHOR: Back in stock.
O`DONNELL: -- but they`re back in stock. OK. And it is all there. Your reflections on this first President Trump on 9/11?
ANDERSEN: Well, I have several reflections. One, I remember on September 11th, 2001, one of the first things he said was that because the World Trade Towers were knocked down he now owned the tallest tower in Manhattan at 40 Wall Street which was not only grotesque but not true.
O`DONNELL: We actually have that here. Let`s listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: 40 Wall Street. Actually was the second tallest building in downtown Manhattan and it was actually before the World Trade Center was the tallest and then when they built the world trade center, known as the second tallest and now it is the tallest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: So as ugly as it was, it is also a lie.
ANDERSEN: It`s also a lie. So you were talking about lies and - and of course the thousands and thousands of Muslims in New Jersey that he claimed to have seen cheering which might be a lie, might be a delusion, who knows with him? What really I find troubling about his use of 9/11 was during the campaign, the beginning of 2016, when he said, he said at least one campaign rally, when I become president, you`ll find out -- you my followers and supporters and voters, you`ll find out who really knocked down the World Trade Center.
Which is his way of course, of embracing the untrue 9/11 inside job truther conspiracy theory that has still has many believers in the United States. And of course, he has been this promiscuous purveyor of conspiracy theories. Even inconsistent ones like, for or for instance OK it is an inside job, that`s what he`s effectively saying with the statement but then the Muslims were cheering. Wait.
But aren`t you saying the Bushes knocked it down or something? So, again, that`s one of the ways in which he`s the king of fantasyland. He is -- he is compulsive in telling whatever untruth for whatever set of reasons between lying and delusion that feels good at the moment. And that is convenient.
O`DONNELL: It also feels like that him saying I`ll tell you - we`ll find out who really was behind 9/11 is his way of saying there`s a big, dark, mysterious -
O`DONNELL: Deep state as they now call it.
O`DONNELL: And they`re out to get me - they`re out to get all of us.
ANDERSEN: Correct. And, that kind of statement was appealing, is appealing to people. People --
O`DONNELL: To some people.
ANDERSEN: To many people. To way, way too many Americans these days, as I describe in the book.
O`DONNELL: Enough to make the winning margin in the Electoral College apparently.
ANDERSEN: Well even though he probably - he of course would have won -- he did win the popular if you don`t count the illegals who voted. But - but again it --
O`DONNELL: You - you - on cable news I`m afraid you have to label -
ANDERSEN: That`s irony?
ANDERSEN: OK. OK.
O`DONNELL: You don`t do that.
ANDERSEN: OK, sorry.
O`DONNELL: So in other words in Trump`s fantasy, he won the popular vote.
ANDERSEN: In Trump`s fantasy he won the popular vote. And - and - and again while he is - we walk in to - my book as the embodiment of everything I`m talking about, he`s actually asked at one point right after he became president by the ABC News world news tonight anchor, but don`t you think it`s a terrible thing for our civic stability and republic that you`re saying that millions and millions of illegals voted?
And he said, no. No. Many, many people agree with me about that.
O`DONNELL: Yes, yes.
ANDERSEN: That -- that it`s not about the factual accuracy of his fantasy, of his wishful lies. It`s, no, people agree with me. Reality is majority rules.
O`DONNELL: We have to leave it there. You taught me something again tonight I did not know. And talk about trying to keep up with the Trump lies during the campaign. I actually don`t remember him saying that he would find out who was really behind 9/11 when he became president. And thank you for reminding me of that grotesque.
ANDERSEN: My pleasure.
O`DONNELL: Kurt Andersen, thank you very much for joining us. Coming up, the stunning video damage of what`s happened in the part of America, the part of the United States, part of this country, that is not being well covered in this hurricane and that is the United States Virgin Islands.
O`DONNELL: Hurricane Irma did the most damage to this country in a place that most people -- many people may not realize is part of the United States of America. 1,100 miles southeast of Florida in the Caribbean, the U.S. Virgin islands of St. Thomas and St. John were the hardest hit part of the United States of America that were hit by this hurricane. NBC`s Ron Mott reports from San Juan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RON MOTT, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: The usual lush green U.S. Virgin islands are a lifeless dull brown tonight paradise torn apart by Irma. Many homes damaged or destroyed and looting and burglaries reported for the American Service members arriving to help clean up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s still a mess. Home invasions have been high. Armed robbery, that`s a big concern, lots of people are walking around armed.
MOTT: Brittany Gonzalez who evacuated to Mississippi worried about her husband still there.
BRITTANY GONZALEZ, U.S. VIRGIN ISLAND CITIZEN: It`s not going to be the same St. John and we don`t know if it can even be our home again.
MOTT: Further south on St. Martin the hurricane have said to have destroyed more than 90 percent of the island. American medical student [0:04:55] shot this video of the damage where he lives, cars tossed around the parking lot finally able to leave on an American military plane. Tonight he`s in Puerto Rico.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were plenty of times you know that night and also throughout the week where I really wondered, geez, you know what`s -- how is this going to end.
MOTT: Now cruise ships are arriving to take others out. On Barbuda, nearl 100 percent destroyed, tour operator Craig Ryan ferrying people off the island. Families on nearby Antigua taking strangers into their homes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These families have lost everything. You couldn`t believe that there was a town there before. It`s surreal.
MOTT: Officials say reconstruction in Barbuda alone could cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Billionaire Richard Branson today posting these images of destruction at his island home, Branson already helping with the relief effort.
O`DONNELL: That was NBC`s Ron Mott reporting from San Juan. Tonight`s last word is next.
O`DONNELL: We have breaking news, The Daily Beast reporting just moments ago that Russia used Facebook events to organize anti-immigrant rallies in the United States last year. Russian operatives hiding behind false identities used Facebook`s event management tool to remotely organize and promote political protest in the United States including an august 2016 anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim rally in Idaho.
And of course the anti immigrant candidate for president at that time was Donald Trump and those rallies obviously helped fuel enthusiasm for the anti-immigrant presidential campaign. That`s tonight`s last word. "The 11th Hour" with Brian Williams starts now.
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