Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: September 21, 2017 Guest: Barbara Mcquaid, David K. Johnston, Joy Reid, Kenneth Mapp, Max Boot
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: Every state in the country, all 50 -- provider than any other. What is it? Medicaid.
And breaking news, "The Hill" is reporting that all Medicaid directors from every state in the country, all 50 states, have now just come out against the Republican bill to repeal Obamacare.
This is the National Association of Medicare Directors, it`s the directors from this -- from every state. They say that this bill would constitute the largest inter-governmental transfer of financial risk from the federal government to the states in our country`s history.
All 50 states. That does it for us tonight, we will see you again tomorrow, and 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. And the block granting Medicaid for the states has been a Republican dream for decades. This is the closest they have come.
MADDOW: Yes, and the directors of Medicaid, which is the largest health insurance program in the country. The largest health insurance provider of any kind in the country are now screaming bloody murder about this, all 50 states.
O`DONNELL: Yes, and you find out just how well Medicare and Medicaid actually work because you can talk about it either way depending on how much time you have.
You can talk about here`s what you`d like to do better in Medicare, here`s what you`d like to do better in Medicaid.
But you find out just how valuable they are, how much they mean to people, how much they mean to state governments when you try to take any piece of them away.
MADDOW: Right, yes, and you know, it`s one thing to -- I mean, the threat of taking 30 million Americans and making it so they have no health insurance provider at all is one kind of threat.
It is another kind of threat to say, all right, those of you who remain on health insurance, we`re going to take the largest health insurance provider in the country, the thing that insures more Americans than the other.
And we are going to cut hundreds of millions of dollars out of that provider. I mean, these -- the cascading effects of what they`re trying to do would be -- I mean, it`s a sixth of the economy, but you take really big meat axes to those two things and the American people have their lives changed very dramatically and very fast.
O`DONNELL: And the other feature of this approach, this Graham-Cassidy approach is that for every state that has tried to do the most it possibly can to help people with health care, those are the states this bill wants to take the most away from.
MADDOW: Yes, that`s what happens when you only want to pass things with Republican votes.
And so, you try to take things from democratic America to try to buy off those Republicans in order to put together an all Republican vote for your partisan bill.
O`DONNELL: Well, they don`t have the votes yet --
MADDOW: Yes --
O`DONNELL: We shall see, thank you --
MADDOW: Yes --
O`DONNELL: Rachel --
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Well, last night, Jimmy Kimmel once again criticized the health care bill that Rachel and I were just discussing being pushed by Republican Senators Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.
And last night Jimmy Kimmel responded to Senator Cassidy`s response to Jimmy Kimmel`s first monologue about this on Tuesday night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BILL CASSIDY (R), LOUISIANA: I`m sorry he does not understand.
JIMMY KIMMEL, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST: Oh, I get it, I don`t understand because I`m a talk show host, right?
Well, and then help me out, which part don`t I understand? Is it the part where you cut $243 billion from federal health care assistance?
Am I not understanding the part where states would be allowed to let insurance companies price you out of coverage for having pre-existing conditions?
Which part of that am I not understanding? Or could it be, Senator Cassidy, that the problem is that I do understand and you got caught with your GO- penis out?
Is that possible? Because it feels like it is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The things he gets to say. An estimated 32 million Americans would lose health care under the Graham-Cassidy bill.
Jimmy Kimmel went after the president last night and we are still patiently awaiting a tweeted response from the president or any kind of response from the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIMMEL: There`s no way President Trump read this bill that he says is great. He just wants to get rid of it because Obama`s name is on it.
The Democrats should just rename it Ivanka-care --
Guaranteed he gets on board. And could you imagine Donald Trump actually sitting down to read a health care bill? Is like trying to imagine a dog doing your taxes. It just doesn`t --
Compute -- you know?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Last night, Jimmy Kimmel broadened his fight with Republican senators to include "Fox News".
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIMMEL: I also got some words that were not so nice particularly from our friends at "Fox & Friends".
BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX NEWS: Some of these politically-charged Emmys may have been the lowest rated in history, but that`s not stopping Hollywood elites like comedian Jimmy Kimmel for pushing their politics on the rest of the country. Watch.
KIMMEL: Thanks Brian, that was Brian Kilmeade. And the reason I found this comment to be particularly annoying is because this is just a guy, Brian Kilmeade, who whenever I see him kisses my ass like a little boy meeting Batman.
Oh, he is such a fan. He`s been to the show --
He follows me on Twitter, he asked me to write a blurb for his book which I did. He calls my agent looking for projects, he`s dying to be a member of the Hollywood elite.
The only reason he is not a member of the Hollywood elite is because nobody will hire him to be one. And you know, the reason I`m talking about this is because my son had an open-heart surgery and has to have two more.
And because of that I learned that there are kids with no insurance in the same situation. I don`t get anything out of this, Brian, you phony little creep -- oh, I`ll pound you when I see you.
That is -- that is my blurb. That will be my blurb for your next book. Brian Kilmeade is a phony little creep.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Josh Earnest; former White House Press Secretary for President Obama and an Msnbc political analyst.
Also joining us Eugene Robinson; Pulitzer Prize-winning opinion writer for "The Washington Post" and an Msnbc political analyst.
And Joy Reid is here with us in New York, an Msnbc national correspondent and the host of "AM JOY" on weekends on Msnbc.
And Joy, I just want to stipulate, I have never met Jimmy Kimmel, I have never asked him for a book blurb, and so I come here as a neutral party in this.
JOY REID, MSNBC: Yes --
O`DONNELL: In this fight.
REID: Or are you now or have you ever been a member of the Hollywood elite?
O`DONNELL: But look at what they have done. They have activated an opposition where they`ve never had it before on that very powerful, loud platform of a late night show like that.
REID: And the thing is that, the reason that Republicans are so hysterical in the way that they`re going after Jimmy Kimmel is they understand he has a cultural resonance and a power that they can never match.
He`s much better known obviously than any individual senator, his platform is large, and he also had a particular persona that`s dangerous to them.
He is the every man, he is the man-show guy. He isn`t some liberal that they can sort of write off as not understanding real Americans because they`re -- Jimmy Kimmel is very much like sort of your every day average American in the way he delivers, the way he talks his emotion about his child.
He is actually the most effective current spokesperson against this bill.
O`DONNELL: Yes, Josh, I think you found in the Obama administration that the way to tell the story, the way to tell what was at stake, was to talk about patients` experiences.
And here`s Jimmy Kimmel talking about an infant baby with a heart problem that if -- that baby didn`t have a rich father, there are people in this country who might have to worry about what happens to that baby, and that`s what he`s fighting against. It`s as simple as that.
JOSH EARNEST, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Yes, that`s right, Lawrence. And the most compelling part of his monologue was the part that you ended on right there which is Jimmy Kimmel making the point that he doesn`t have any sort of partisan ax to grind.
He doesn`t have anything to gain in this debate other than his genuine concern for families like his. Who have had to endure a child, you know, in a situation where they are gravely ill at an early age.
And you know, he acknowledges that he himself is fortunate enough to have the kinds of resources to ensure that his child can get care.
And his heart grieves for those families who don`t have access to those kinds of resources. I think all of us -- all of us who have kids can easily put ourselves in that situation.
And so, he is a particularly powerful spokesperson and advocate on this issue. Lawrence, the other thing though I think is important to understand is that when we were working to pass the Affordable Care Act back in 2009 and 2010, and even as we were looking to defend it over the course of the Obama administration, we were eager to find platforms like Jimmy Kimmel`s program.
Platforms that weren`t part of the regular political debate, but would actually meet people where they are.
You know, the president famously went on "Between Two Friends" with Zach Galifianakis to encourage people to sign up --
O`DONNELL: Yes --
EARNEST: For the Affordable Care Act.
O`DONNELL: Yes --
EARNEST: We were looking to these kinds of platforms. So in this way, Democrats have been handed a gift and given an opportunity to have somebody with this kind of stature, making this argument.
And the truth is, Lawrence, the more that Republicans and "Fox News" attacks Jimmy Kimmel, the more attention is paid to him and the more credibility he has.
O`DONNELL: Eugene, referee as you have done in your column this debate between Jimmy Kimmel and the president and the Republican Senate.
EUGENE ROBINSON, OPINION WRITER, WASHINGTON POST: Well, you know, I have been -- I don`t think it`s much of a contest. I mean, you know, look. illness is an equal opportunity scourge.
Old age is an equal opportunity scourge. When you talk about cutting Medicaid and making it a block grant program and you`re absolutely right.
This has been a sort of a Republican wet dream for eons. When you talk about doing that and slashing the funding, you`re funding the program that funds like two-thirds of nursing home residents in this country are funded by Medicaid.
And it is an enormous program and it`s -- so when you touch this issue, you`re touching America, you`re touching Americans in red states and blue states and in every single community in this country.
And that`s why it`s so difficult. It was difficult for the Obama administration to get the Affordable Care Act through and it`s why it`s been so difficult for the Republicans trying to repeal and replace.
O`DONNELL: And Joy, I`m so glad Gene, mentioned the nursing home component of Medicaid because for a long time I think a lot of people thought of Medicaid as -- and if you don`t look at the statistics of it, you can`t understand.
As it`s poor people, it`s poor children. And it turns out there`s a massive component of this that is fundamentally middle class. It is --
REID: Yes --
O`DONNELL: End of life care for --
ROBINSON: Yes --
O`DONNELL: Middle-class people who have spent down their resources on a variety of ways, including on health care to the point where they cannot afford the kind of nursing care they need.
They would either be in their adult children`s homes or they would be in these rest homes. And you`re going to pit those Medicaid consumers against other Medicaid consumers within a state once you`ve cut that budget.
REID: Yes, and also, you`re also going to be financially burdening their children who would then going to have to take on the care of these elderly family members.
A lot of people who want to have Obamacare repealed may have an elderly family member in a nursing home and not understand that when you`re saying repeal and replace, you mean, repeal that.
You know, while we were in the break before we got on the show, I looked up from the Kaiser Family Foundation just to remind myself, half of us get our insurance the way you and I do from our employer.
People think that Medicare is sacrificing. That`s only 14 percent of the market. Nineteen percent, one in five Americans gets their health insurance from Medicaid.
Medicaid, the thing Republicans want to get rid of. In some cases higher. In Bill Cassidy`s state in Louisiana, it`s 25 percent.
One out of four Louisianans. And I have been texting with Republicans and on the way back here to 30 Rock, asking, you know, Republicans, why are they doing this?
And the answers I`m getting back are chilling. One answer because donors to these Republicans, donors to people like Lindsey Graham are saying do it now!
I want my tax cut, we gave you money to give us tax cuts, repealing Obamacare gives them, these very rich donors, a tax cut and they`re demanding it, they don`t care what happens to the 30 million people.
They are telling these Republicans, do not be concerned with what happens to your own constituents, give me my money or I won`t give you any money.
That is a chilling reason to repeal a bill. The second reason that they`re doing it because they said they would.
O`DONNELL: Yes --
REID: So they have to do it because they said they would regardless of the consequences. None of this is about policy other than Paul Ryan who`s dreamed about getting rid of the entire 20th century social safety net.
These guys are doing this for money.
O`DONNELL: And Josh, to Joy`s point about why they`re doing this, it`s very clear they`re not doing this because of the content of the legislation.
People jumped on this legislation when they only knew two words of it, Graham and Cassidy, without knowing a single word of the bill.
And Jimmy Kimmel`s line about there`s no way President Trump has read this bill. There`s not a person in America who does not believe Jimmy Kimmel when he says that.
Donald Trump wouldn`t make the claim that he`s read this bill, and without the knowledge of the content of what you`re voting on which is very clear that they don`t have, what you`re voting on is politics.
EARNEST: This is politics pure and simple. And you know, Lawrence, during my eight years in the White House, I can`t tell you the number of meetings that I went to with health care experts who told me that healthcare is so complicated because as soon as you want to start to make some changes to it, the people that you are trying to help like it.
But the people -- but inevitably by making those changes, you are also hurting some people too, or at least leaving them a little less well off.
In this case though, the Republicans have accomplished something remarkable which is, it seems that every single group that is in any way involved in providing health care to Americans opposes this bill.
Hospital executives oppose this bill because it`s bad for hospitals. Doctors oppose this bill because it`s bad for doctors.
Nurses oppose this bill because it`s bad for nurses. Patient advocates oppose this bill because it`s bad for patients, and as you`ve been talking about here, Medicaid directors oppose this bill because it`s bad for Medicaid.
So Republicans really have built a consensus against this bill which I think is an indication that it`s entirely lacking in substance and has everything to do with trying to keep their promise to a Republican political base that has been fed a steady diet over the course of eight years about the need to repeal Obamacare without any substantive policy discussion about what Obamacare does and what they think that our health care system should do instead.
O`DONNELL: And Republican Senator Dean Heller of Nevada has a new problem on this. He`s been supporting this bill but his governor has come out tonight with a very hard slam against it.
Nevada Governor Sandoval has said "flexibility with reduced funding is a false choice."
ROBINSON: Yes --
O`DONNELL: He said that to his -- the Nevada newspaper. He said, "I will not pit seniors, children, families, the mentally ill, the critically ill, hospitals, care providers or any other Nevadan against each other because of cuts to Nevada`s health care delivery system proposed by the Graham- Cassidy amendment."
And Gene, that`s the point --
ROBINSON: Yes --
O`DONNELL: Is that Graham-Cassidy takes the health care box in any given state and reduces the size --
ROBINSON: Yes --
O`DONNELL: Of it and then says it`s up to you in the states to figure out what to do with what --
ROBINSON: Yes --
O`DONNELL: We just handed you, and the governor is saying, that means as Josh just said, within that box, I`m going to have to take something away from someone and in this box you`ve given me, I have to take a lot away from a lot of people.
ROBINSON: That`s exactly right. You`d have to make a huge perhaps across the board cuts or perhaps as Governor Sandoval suggests, you favor this group over that group.
But in the end, you have much less money to work with, so you`re going to deliver much less health care to people who really need it.
And to Josh`s long list of opponents of this bill, we can -- we can add more. The insurance industry is -- totally opposes this bill, AARP, totally opposes this bill.
It is very difficult to find anybody who knows anything about health insurance who supports this bill. I mean, I spent a good part of the day kind of looking for that and I couldn`t find it.
O`DONNELL: We have to now cut to the latest from Jimmy Kimmel. We come on the air here with this program after Jimmy Kimmel has taped his show, which is taped before it`s shown on "Abc".
We are sometimes able to get that video to you before Jimmy Kimmel`s show goes out with it, and he -- Jimmy Kimmel`s show has provided some video tonight.
So this is now round three. This is Jimmy Kimmel tonight, this is what he is going to say on his show tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIMMEL: For a pre-existing condition. So the president got involved last night via Twitter, of course. He wrote, "I would not sign Graham-Cassidy if it did not include coverage of pre-existing conditions. It does. A great bill, repeal and replace."
Which those are the key words, repeal and replace. Because for Donald Trump, this isn`t about the Graham-Cassidy bill, it`s about getting rid of the Obamacare which he hates primarily because Obama`s name is on it.
He likes to have his name on things --
Buildings, Vodka, you name it. And at this point, he would sign anything if it meant getting rid of Obamacare. He`d sign copies of the Quran at the Barnes & Noble in Fallujah if it meant he could get rid of Obamacare.
And then after he accused Bill Cassidy of not telling the truth --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joy, this is an extraordinary thing to watch, I think. Jimmy Kimmel is never going to leave the joke out of a --
REID: Yes --
O`DONNELL: Line, but this is a TV drama we`re watching. This is --
REID: Yes --
O`DONNELL: Jimmy Kimmel taking a stand, using a show that doesn`t do that kind of thing. Using his unique voice and his son`s story and he is not giving up in this struggle against the president and Republican senators.
REID: Look, this is a classic example of a man who is using his platform, truly for good. You know, Jimmy Kimmel can just do comedy.
He has the absolute right to just entertain. But he is not -- he is refusing to stop engaging, and the reason that this has got to bug Donald Trump as you know, there`s nothing Donald Trump craves more than the adulation and love of media and celebrities, especially celebrities.
So coming from somebody famous has got to really bother Donald Trump a lot. But at the end of the day, Jimmy Kimmel understands more about the Graham- Cassidy bill than Cassidy.
Cassidy has not been able to explain why his bill he claims it protects pre-existing conditions, it doesn`t. Jimmy Kimmel is actually right on the policy, too.
O`DONNELL: And Josh, in Jimmy Kimmel`s corner of show business which is a pretty big corner of show business, it`s always been well understood that there`s a danger in this kind of position that he`s taken because Jimmy Kimmel has plenty of Trump voters who think he`s great, who think he`s funny, who have been watching him for years and years and years.
And Jimmy Kimmel knows, and his network knows that he risks those viewers in taking this stand. But he`s going to do it and we`re now into day three of something we -- the likes of which we`ve never seen in that kind of show.
EARNEST: Yes, Lawrence, there`s no doubt that Jimmy Kimmel is risking alienating part of his audience. And it certainly, when you`re talking about the late night comedy shows, it`s a pretty cut-throat business.
And you know, that there`s a margin there that he is risking. But to his credit, he`s speaking with a lot of authenticity here because he`s not weighing any sort of political calculation.
He`s not weighing what this may do for the future of his career. He`s not weighing what this is going to do for his numbers in the Nielsen overnights.
What he`s doing is speaking from the heart and that`s what makes him so compelling. He is a pretty talented communicator.
You know, the other thing that`s interesting about him, Lawrence, is I`ve had a chance to meet Jimmy a couple of times when I was -- you know, working with President Obama.
Behind the scenes, he`s actually a pretty soft-spoken guy. He`s not one of these sort of larger-than-life personas when he is off camera.
So, you know, and I think we are seeing some of that personality really shine through in a way that -- look, I think it`s captured America`s attention right now in a way that is pretty dangerous for a political party that has bet their entire identity on passing this legislation that just about everybody seems to oppose.
And Jimmy Kimmel, somebody with a large platform seems to be leading the resistance here.
O`DONNELL: And we have just harvested another piece of what Jimmy Kimmel is going to be saying tonight as he continues this debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIMMEL: His supporters say, well, you know, he is a doctor and you are not. What do you know? Well, to them, I say all of these very reputable organizations, American Diabetes Association, American Medical Association, American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, the list goes on and on.
All of these groups populated by doctors say this health care bill is bad, they`re against it. We haven`t seen this many people come forward to speak out against a bill since Cosby, OK?
I mean, they claim as the president did, it protects people with pre- existing conditions, but it doesn`t guarantee them protection.
All you need to know is this, this is how the vice president himself dodged that question this morning on "Fox & Friends".
AINSLEY EARHARDT, FOX & FRIENDS: You have folks like Jimmy Kimmel, they`re worried about the pre-existing condition thing --
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Right --
EARHARDT: Because this will be up to the governors to decide how the money is dispersed, who gets coverage, every state will determine what`s best for their -- for their folks.
But with that, can you guarantee that these governors will make sure pre- existing conditions are covered?
PENCE: Thomas Jefferson said governments -- the governments least governs best. I mean, the question that people ought to ask is, who do -- who do you think will be more responsive to the health care needs in your community?
Your governor and your state legislature or a congressman and a president in a far off nation`s capital.
KIMMEL: Is neither an option because I would pick that.
I`m pretty sure by the way, I think he just told us we can`t trust the president.
His argument -- their argument is that --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And Gene, the way Jimmy Kimmel is handling this --
ROBINSON: Yes --
O`DONNELL: Is he is giving Republicans a voice within his own monologue. He`s not running away from what they`re saying. He is taking what they`re saying and presenting it to his audience.
ROBINSON: He is, and he`s -- you know, he is an interesting figure. In the late night universe, right, Stephen Colbert has had a kind of never Trump line and he`s been very tough on the Russia allegations and has really delved into that.
Took a trip to Russia actually to sort of make fun of that whole thing in a semi-serious way. But this is such a personal issue for so many Americans and it`s focused on this one issue, not on -- I don`t like Donald Trump, I don`t like the Republicans.
It`s just this is a bad health care bill for these reasons. And so, I think in that sense, it`s more effective and potentially has -- look, it`s changing the debate.
I mean, we`ve been spending the last 20 minutes talking about Jimmy Kimmel.
O`DONNELL: Yes, we are three days into a TV drama conducted by a TV comedian and we`ve never been here before. Josh Earnest and Gene Robinson, thank you both for joining us from the beginning of the show, really appreciate it.
EARNEST: Thanks, Lawrence --
ROBINSON: Great to be here.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, the latest on the Russia investigation special prosecutor Robert Mueller wants Air Force One`s phone records and a new report says Sean Spicer was a constant note-taker in the White House.
Notes that will surely be of extreme interest to the special prosecutor. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: "Politico" is reporting tonight that the special investigators are requesting Air Force One phone records from the day President Trump and other White House staff put together Donald Trump Junior`s first written response to a "New York Times" report that Donald Trump Jr. met with a Russian lawyer in Trump Tower during the presidential campaign.
Reports this summer indicated that President Trump personally dictated a statement in which Trump Jr. said that he and the Russian lawyer had primarily discussed a program about the adoption of Russian children.
The reports indicated that the president dictated that statement from Air Force One. In e-mails made public later, Donald Trump Jr. along with Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner were revealed to have agreed to meet with the Russians to, quote, "get dirt on Hillary Clinton."
The special prosecutor`s request for the phone records of Air Force One would indicate that the special prosecutor is investigating the evolution of Donald Trump Junior`s public statements about that meeting, each of which was in conflict with the previous statement about that meeting.
According to "Axios", Sean Spicer`s former colleagues say that he filled notebook after notebook during meetings at the Republican National Committee, later at the Trump campaign and then at the White House.
Spicer was so well-known for his copious notes that underlings joked about him writing a tell-all. One White House official told "Axios", "people are going to wish they`ve been nicer to Sean. He was in a lot of meetings."
And the "Wall Street Journal" tonight reports that Paul Manafort was put under surveillance after he left the Trump campaign.
The surveillance did involve listening to Mr. Manafort`s phone communications in real-time, the officials said.
Investigators still could have conducted clandestine surveillance of Mr. Manafort possibly by obtaining copies of his e-mails and other electronically stored communications or by having agents follow him or conduct physical searches of his property.
Joining us now, Barbara McQuade; former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, she`s a professor of law at the University of Michigan.
She`s also an Nbc News and Msnbc legal contributor. David Cay Johnston is with us, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who founded DCReport.Org; a nonprofit news organization that covers the Trump administration.
And Joy Reid is back with us. And Barbara McQuade, I want to get your view as a prosecutor to some of these developments, this special prosecutor`s apparent interest in Air Force One communications about a statement to a newspaper, for example.
What could be of criminal investigative interest in the crafting of a statement to a newspaper?
BARBARA MCQUADE, PROFESSOR OF LAW, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN: Well, it seems apparent at the very least that Robert Mueller and his team are very interested in President Trump`s role in drafting that statement.
Now making the statement that was false or misleading to the public or to the press in itself is not a crime. But it could be evidence of the corrupt purpose in a larger obstruction scheme. So, it could be very important to phone records is intriguing because it suggest that Mueller and the team trying to figure out who they were talking to as they were drafting that statement. So, it will be very interesting to see how that plays out.
O`DONNELL: And David K. Johnston, the reports of Paul Manafort. This is Manafort week. Every day it gets deeper and thicker around Paul Manafort, his associates, his associations with Russian billionaires and now, more details about the Federal Government`s interest in Paul Manafort, which seems related in certain ways to the Trump campaign, but also, seems exclusive to Paul Manafort`s activities.
DAVID K. JOHNSTON, JOURNALIST: Well, Paul Manafort`s vulnerable in a whole variety of areas because he was foreign agent and registered and potentially faces some real serious civil liability problems. But one of the things you see happening this week is the Trump administration trying very hard to discredit him, to minimize him. Mike Pence said on television, only with the campaign one month. Five months. And they have now a very deep interest in getting out the long knives to carve him up in an effort to discredit him in order to protect themselves.
O`DONNELL: And Joy, to Sean Spicer`s notes and there`s plenty of reasons to be taking notes all the time in that job, not necessarily related to a later book, but Mike Allen, had a fascinating -- Mike Allen who considered report, who considers himself Sean Spicer`s friend, texted him and reported this exchange when he texted -- texted Sean Spicer, Spicer replied, `Mike, please stop texting, e-mailing me unsolicited anymore. When I replied with a question mark, I have known Spicer and his wife fore more than a dozen years. He answered, not sure what that means. From a legal standpoint, I want to be clear. Do not e-mail or text me again. Should you do again I will report to the appropriate authorities.` It sounds like Sean Spicer is under some very strict legal advice these days --
JOY REID, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
O`DONNELL: -- about the communications.
REID: Right. And he`s got to be concerned that his copious notes to be subpoenaed. He would not be protected by any sort of an executive privilege and remember Sean Spicer is been around in republican circles for a long time. He knows a lot of people. But one thing he is not is a loyalist to Donald Trump. He`s not part of Trump`s inner circle. He never made it`s way into Trump`s inner circle.
So if you were the Trump campaign, you have to consider him somebody who is a potential great risk to you. He was in the meetings. He knows what was going on and he doesn`t necessarily feel particularly warmly toward the administration given the way he was ushered out.
O`DONNELL: And Barbara, I want to talk about that note in the Axios story where -- that it says, you know, people should have been nicer to Sean. And the way I read that is it`s not about perjury. Meaning, it is not about Sean Spicer would have covered up for you but when you have a witness in front of a grand jury, a witness can give you a yes or no answer, or a witness can give you a yes and answer. A yes and add a little bit of information that wasn`t in your question necessarily which is the witness might want to do because the witness feels not especially protective in any sense of whoever the questions are about.
MCQUAID: Yes. I think those notes are potentially a gold mine for Mueller and his team. The notes themselves would be hearsay. They wouldn`t come in as an exhibit as a trial but they could be used to refresh the recollection of Sean Spicer an asked, for example, about something that occurred several months ago may not remember but if you ask him, is there anything that were a refresher recollections, he can say, well yes. I took copious notes that day if I may look at them and refresh it. And then it - - once he looks at it, if he remembers, he can testify all about it. So, I think that those notes could be a treasure trove for Mueller and the team.
O`DONNELL: And David, what about Sean Spicer being out there on the loose and in Donald Trump`s world as he`s moved through the many, many, many litigations that you have covered him moving through in civil litigation. Sometimes it`s involved some people who were formally close to Donald Trump who were brought in for depositions and asked to testify against him. He has some experience with what it`s like to have people out there in a position to testify.
JOHNSTON: Yes. And I think Donald Trump probably rues the day telling Sean spice in an act of pure spite. You`re not going to get to meet the pope. There are several people out there. This is new story about a former FBI agent involved in the Felix Sater matter which puts Donald Trump one step away from people involved in Middle East terrorist weaponry. Donald Trump, Felix Sater, the people Sater worked with. And he went to work for Donald. And there`s somebody who may turn out to be a very important witness in these matters in trying to figure out what was going on with Russia and Felix Sater and the people around Sater. Remember Felix Sater`s father is reputed to be the boss of the Russian mob in New York City.
O`DONNELL: And just a -- that you`re talking about a former FBI agent who had some participation in investigating Felix Sater and then part of the security team for Donald Trump himself and so these connections start to get closer that way. David K. Johnston and Barbara McQuaid, thank you both for joining us. Really appreciate it.
MCQUAID: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: And, Joy Reid, you have the big interview of the Weekend AM Joy. Is it Saturday morning?
REID: On Saturday morning, yes.
O`DONNELL: Hillary Clinton.
REID: Hillary Clinton. Yes. I had a conversation on earlier today with the Former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. Fascinating and very feisty. She had a lot to say. So we`re going to --
O`DONNELL: So first hour, we have to be there right at 10:00 a.m. for this?
REID: We`ll be there right at 10:00 a.m. We will set it up. We`re going to -- you know how we do it. We`re going to tease and then we`re going to make you -- we`re going to make you watch the whole two hours to get the full interview.
O`DONNELL: All right. And we will do that that. Thank you very much for being here tonight.
REID: Thank you Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Really appreciate it. Coming up, the latest threatening statements from North Korea, including a new one Tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There may be people alived trapped inside rubble in as many as ten different collapsed buildings across Mexico City.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: These are people coming here with household tools to see if they can help break some of the concrete in the school.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Officials say that there are indications of signs of life.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Puerto Rico is just now starting to pick up the pieces. Emergency officials there say it could be six months before everybody gets power back on the island.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ll get down to St. Croix and drop a medical evaluation team so they can assess what requirements are required to St. Croix to receive patients, get them prepared for shipment back in United States.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is going to be as the Mayor of San Juan said months of utility out of power on the entire virgin islands.
(END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria today, the President issued a disaster declaration for Puerto Rico and St. Croix and U.S. Virgin Islands. That means federal funding is now available to support recovery efforts there.
Electricity in Puerto Rico and St. Croix out for months. Both hospitals in the U.S. Virgin Islands, one on St. Croix and one on St. Thomas have been destroyed and all patients have been evacuated. There`s also a major education issue now since the schools that are still standing are being used as shelters.
Joining us now, by phone, from St. Croix, Governor Kenneth Mapp of the U.S. Virgin Islands for his first interview since Hurricane Maria hit St. Croix Tuesday night.
Governor, thank you very much for joining us tonight. What is the situation there in St. Croix tonight?
KENNETH MAPP, GOVERNOR, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS: Well, it`s a -- we have -- we`re working on rescue. We have our urban search and rescue teams out. I must say that like St. Thomas, we don`t see any measurable number of folks coming the emergency room with the trauma, cuts or broken bones which meant that folks really protected themselves. But we have a long road to recovery in all four of the Virgin Islands. Two cut 5s in 12 days.
O`DONNELL: Yes. Hurricane Irma spared St. Croix, mostly spared St. Croix. St. Thomas was hit badly by that. St. Croix was then basically the supply station for recovery for the other islands. Now all of the islands have been devastated.
MAPP: That`s correct. We have really taken a hard hit. But first thing I want to say, we have great federal partners. Today, we cleared the St. Croix airport and this afternoon we started seeing federal planes, FEMA planes, D.O.D. planes landing. We began to remove folks to the U.S. main land from St. Croix at 7:00 a.m. in the morning. We`re trying to keep folks off the road in the curfew so that we can clear the major thoroughfares.
We`re going to give them a small window tomorrow, about four hours for the distribution centers and some of the largest supermarkets have agreed to open so that folks can reprovision for the next couple of days. But we have a long road to recovery and we need -- we need everyone`s help in terms of rebuilding.
O`DONNELL: Have you spoken to President Trump since this latest hurricane?
MAPP: Yes. President called me this afternoon and again reassured me, asked me to give the folks in the territory his best wishes and to reaffirm his commitment for federal support in terms of the recovery of the islands and he was really empathetic and concerned in terms of how this community is making it with two major storms in just 12 days.
And so, we`re resilient. We are going to do it. And we are going to do it with the help of the partners and the Federal Government. Our private sector partners and all financial partners on the mainland.
O`DONNELL: All right Governor, quickly before you go, are you getting all the help you need from the Federal Government? Is the interaction going smoothly?
MAPP: The interaction is going very well. We are embedding many of our local entities with the federal entities. The director, the administrator of FEMA, Brock Long, literally speaks with me every day.
The President aides call. The members of the cabinet, secretary of interior, I speak to him almost every two days and any kinks we have in the system I must say that they`re quite responsive. We are very appreciative and it is working to help the people of the territory.
O`DONNELL: Governor Kenneth Mapp, thank you very much for joining us tonight on this difficult night. Really appreciate it.
MAPP: Most welcome.
O`DONNELL: Thank you. And in Mexico, the death toll from Tuesday`s 7.1 earthquake now stands at 273. But the search for possible survivors continues and just tonight, two more people were rescued from the rubble, exhausted rescue workers cheered as those survivors were pulled out of the rubble and taken away in ambulances. Mexico`s President says there may be people trapped alive in as many as ten collapsed buildings in Mexico City.
Over 50 people have been rescued in Mexico City including this woman who was pulled from a building by volunteers. Crews have been working around the clock to find survivors at an elementary school in Mexico City. There`s new video tonight showing children being rescued from that school right after the earthquake.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Rescuers are still trying to determine how many children might still be trapped in the rubble of that school. Coming up, North Korea`s latest threat including a new threat tonight.
O`DONNELL: We have breaking news tonight here in New York City where North Korea`s Foreign Minister told reporters that North Korea may conduct its most powerful test of a hydrogen bomb in the pacific ocean in its, quote, "highest level actions against the United States". That statement comes after President Trump gave his first speech at the United Nations earlier this week and said this about North Korea`s dictator, Kim Jong-un.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself For its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself, and for his regime.
(END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Today, Kim Jong-un released this response to President Trump`s speech at the United Nations. "Far from making remarks of any persuasive power that can be viewed to be helpful to defusing tension, he made unprecedented rude nonsense one has never heard from any of his predecessors. A frightened dog barks louder."
After claiming Donald Trump has rendered the world restless through threats and blackmail, Kim Jong-un ended his statement by saying, "I am now thinking hard about what response he could have expected we he allowed such eccentric words to trip off his tongue. Whatever Trump might have expected, he will face results beyond his expectation. I will surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire."
Merriam Webster`s dictionary defines dotard as a state or period of senile decay marked by decline of mental poise and alertness. Kim Jong-un`s statement was delivered after President Trump announced what he called new sanctions against North Korea, at a meeting with leaders of South Korea and japan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Today, I`m announcing a new executive order, I just signed, that significantly expands our authorities to target individuals, companies, financial institutions, that finance and facilitate trade with North Korea. Our new executive order will cut off sources of revenue that fund North Korea`s efforts to develop the deadliest weapons known to humankind.
(END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: This just in, we have a pronunciation correction. Dotard, I`m told, is Kim Jong-un`s chosen word for the President. Nikki Haley, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, tried to clarify what would provoke the United States` attack on North Korea.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIKKI HALEY, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESPERSON: We have said multiple times the President said it, members of his team have said it, `We don`t want war.` That`s the last thing anyone wants. We don`t want loss of life. That`s the last thing anyone wants. But at the same time, we`re not going to run scared.
If, for any reason, North Korea attacks the United States or our allies, the U.S. will respond. Period. That`s what`s going to happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Up next, we`ll have more on the two most unpredictable men in the world who have the authority to use nuclear weapons.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: This is a complete denuclearization of North Korea that we seek. Cannot have this as a world body any longer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is dialogue still possible with North Korea? Is dialogue still possible?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Why not? Joining us now, Max Boot, Senior Fellow from the National Security Study Council and Foreign Relations. And Max, we finally have what seems like a clear statement from Nikki Haley about what would provoke the United States to attack North Korea. She said if any reason North Korea attacks the United States or our allies, the U.S. will respond, period. And we haven`t had that particular clarity from the President before this statement.
MAX BOOT, SENIOR FELLOW, NATIONAL SECURITY STUDY COUNCIL AND FOREIGN RELATIONS: its not clear that Nikki Haley speaks for the U.S. government because what everybody is hearing the hyperbolic rhetoric coming from the President of the United States.
O`DONNELL: That sounds like it includes he might just decide the day has come where I`m going to attack North Korea.
O`DONNELL: It`s a different thing from what Nikki Haley --
BOOT: Right. Right. I mean Richard Nixon had this madman theory he`d act as a mad man in order to gave concessions from our enemies. While Donald Trump is doing a very convincing mad man act but it`s a very dangerous thing to do because of our enemies, Kim Jong-un, for example, includes that Trump is fundamentally irrational, capable of simply attacking North Korea without notice. He may decide to attack first. I mean, Trump is treating this as some sort of schoolyard exchange of insults and to see who`s the bigger guy on the block. And I`m going to threaten fire and fury and call him rocket man and so now, you know, Kim Jong-un lobs back calling him the dotard.
This is not fun and game. I mean millions of lives are at stake here. I can`t man any previous U.S. President using rhetoric so recklessly around something so serious.
O`DONNELL: And what we just heard him say is the calmest thing he has said in this whole dialogue, when he just said, why not, to the question of can -- is it still possible to negotiate with North Korea? He`s open to that.
BOOT: None of this makes any sense. I mean, I would feel a lot better if I thought all of his over the top rhetoric was part of some master calculated strategy, but, in fact, the sense I get is it`s not part of a strategy. It`s a substitute for a strategy. He doesn`t really know what to do. And so he`s throwing out these tough words. He`s throwing out some sanctions. He`s also offering to negotiate. He`s throwing out threats of preemptive strikes. But fundamentally, every single option has major downsides.
And his advisers tell him that so he doesn`t know what comes. And so he just does what comes naturally which is to bully and swagger and threaten and he doesn`t realize that this is not like bullying or swaggering with Jeb Bush or Hillary Clinton or Marco Rubio. This is a guy with nuclear weapons.
O`DONNELL: Max Boot, thank you very much for joining us. Really appreciate it.
That`s tonight`s "Last Word." The 11th Hour with Brian Williams starts now.
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