Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: October 9, 2017 Guest: Nicholas Kristof, Ezra Klein, Chris Whipple, Jennifer Reuben, Charlie Sykes, Clint Watts
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: 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 while you were working tonight, Steve Bannon was on television announcing that he is going to run Republican primary challenges against every incumbent Republican senator running for re-election except Ted Cruz, and I`m not actually sure how Ted Cruz escaped that but he did.
Like why not Ted Cruz but, yes, Orrin Hatch? Like I can`t quite figure --
MADDOW: What do we -- if it`s the -- sort of it`s Steve Bannon against the Republican Party, what do we call the Bannon party, right?
And like what gets -- if the two of them have decided it`s a fight to the death and it`s zero sum, it`s either Steve Bannon or the Republican Party, what do we call the remainders there and what do they run for?
O`DONNELL: And who do you call to call off Steve Bannon? Might you call for example his friend, the president of the United States in whose name Steve Bannon is doing this.
He`s doing this because he says this is good for Donald Trump? You`re Orrin Hatch; the chairman of the tax-writing committee in the Senate, you`re being attacked by Donald Trump`s pal Steve Bannon, who do you -- who do you call?
MADDOW: Yes, well, and let it -- let the record be clear that nobody has ever fanned being fired from the White House into better press and more supposed influence than Steve Bannon.
Literally, Steve Bannon fired from the White House and went back to running a website, and we`re all supposed to see that as a gigantic promotion that makes him the dark overlord?
O`DONNELL: Well, let`s consider this, in a White House as powerless as this one, is it possible for a White House adviser to actually be more powerful at a website? This could be --
MADDOW: I want to get stuff done, I`m leaving the White House.
O`DONNELL: That`s right --
MADDOW: Sarah Palin approached to governing Alaska.
O`DONNELL: Well, there --
MADDOW: Yes --
O`DONNELL: We are, thank you, Rachel --
MADDOW: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Senator Bob Corker chooses his words very carefully. He had several days to decide what he was going to say when the Trump attack on him finally came.
And that attack came yesterday and Bob Corker hit back much harder than the president hit him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: We could be heading towards World War III with the kind of comments that he`s making.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It could be the calm before the storm.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What storm, Mr. President?
TRUMP: You`ll find out.
CORKER: He`s just putting on an act.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Essentially saying the emperor has no clothes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Calling the Trump White House a reality show and adult day care center.
STEVE SCHMIDT, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: The entire interview demonstrates that he questions his fitness as commander-in-chief.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER, SENATE: Think Corker is a valued member of the Republican conference, and they`re going to be turning to the budget next week and he will be a big help in helping us get it passed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And he just walks away. They want to get their little weeny tax bill done so badly that they`re not going to listen to Bob Corker screaming at the top of his lungs that we are at risk of World War III.
SCHMIDT: It is past time for members of the United States Senate, particularly in the Republican Party, who know what`s going on, to speak out directly about it.
They didn`t take an oath to the Republican Party, they didn`t take an oath to Donald Trump, they took an oath to the constitution of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The most important political news of the weekend and today also happens to be the most important news in the world.
Because it`s about nothing less than World War III. And this news doesn`t come from some conspiracy theory website.
This news comes from the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Republican Senator Bob Corker.
Senator Corker shocked Washington yesterday by saying what virtually everyone in Washington was thinking which is always the best way to shock Washington by saying something that everyone is thinking but not saying.
And when Bob Corker said it, he said he was speaking for most of the Republicans in the Senate, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is the most careful Republican public speaker in Washington, he is also one of the smartest Republicans in Washington if not the smartest.
And so all of Washington knew that Bob Corker carefully chose his words when he said we could be heading toward World War III, thanks to President Trump.
Here`s some of the audio of Senator Bob Corker`s interview with the "New York Times".
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CORKER: You got to realize that, you know, that we could be heading towards World War III with the kind of comment that he`s making.
You know, it very much feels to me like he thinks as president he`s on a reality television --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Of course, part of the Trump presidency is a reality television show and like all so-called reality television, it is designed to distract you from reality by offering you the fake reality of so-called reality TV.
The largest part of President Trump`s job as he sees it seems to be executive producer of the Trump White House reality TV show.
And for yesterday`s episode, he sent Mike Pence to a football game in Indiana which meant that fans going to the game had to start driving hours earlier than usual to avoid the traffic jam created by a vice presidential motorcade.
But it was worth it for those fans not because they wanted to see the vice president who they might not have bothered to cross the street to see when he was their governor but because they were going to honor the beloved Indianapolis Colts legend Peyton Manning who is surely on his way to the NFL`s hall of fame.
The halftime show was a long planned display of praise and love and affection for Peyton Manning and that`s why the vice president was scheduled to attend that particular football game yesterday to honor Peyton Manning.
To honor Peyton Manning`s contribution not just to the game played on the field, but to the civic life of Indianapolis and Indiana.
But the Trump reality show had already decided that Peyton Manning was not worth honoring if any football players got down on one knee during the national anthem.
And it was absolutely guaranteed that players would get on one knee during the national anthem because the visiting team was the San Francisco 49ers, the team that began the one-knee protest against unjustified killings by police when quarterback Colin Kaepernick was the first one to get on one knee last year in protest of unjustifiable police use of deadly force.
Executive producer Donald Trump told cast member Mike Pence that he must flamboyantly walk out of the stadium if this happened.
And so Mike Pence left the stadium without so much as a public hand shake with Peyton Manning. And not a single fan who endured all that vice presidential traffic to get into that stadium followed Mike Pence out of that stadium because they all knew why they came.
It wasn`t so much to watch a game between two of the worst teams in the NFL. It was to honor their sports hero Peyton Manning.
But that`s not why Mike Pence was there. Mike Pence was there to play his role in the Trump TV reality show, a show designed to distract American voters from the reality of a Trump presidency, a reality that Senator Bob Corker put in the most horrifying possible terms -- World War III.
When Mike Pence was walking out of the stadium yesterday, Donald Trump was playing golf. Donald Trump was playing golf the day before that.
And Donald Trump was playing golf today because it`s a federal holiday and what`s a federal government worker supposed to do on a federal government holiday even if that federal government worker has moved us closer to World War III and should be spending all of his time trying to pull us back from the brink of war, a brink he brought us to.
Today was just another golf day for the most dangerous president of the nuclear age. Bob Corker`s comments in the "New York Times" about the president came after Donald Trump attacked him in tweets yesterday morning.
"Senator Bob Corker begged me to endorse him for re-election in Tennessee, I said no and he dropped out. Said he could not win without my endorsement.
He also wanted to be Secretary of State, I said, no, thanks. He is also largely responsible for the horrendous Iran deal, hence, I would fully expect Corker to be a negative voice and stand in the way of our great agenda, didn`t have the guts to run.
Bob Corker knew that attack was coming. He might only have been surprised by how long it took, how many days it took because last week, after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was quoted as calling President Trump a moron, Bob Corker said this in defense of Rex Tillerson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CORKER: I think Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Mattis and Chief of Staff Kelly are those people that help separate our country from chaos.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Bob Corker had four days, four days to think about how he would respond to the inevitable Trump attack for what he just said.
And Senator Corker`s carefully-considered choice was to hit back at Donald Trump, even harder than Trump hit him. First with a tweet, "it`s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning."
Imagine Donald Trump`s rage when he read that tweet. And you have to imagine it because Donald Trump has been silent on Bob Corker since that tweet.
But Bob Corker has not been silent. The "New York Times" managed to interview Bob Corker after the tweet exchange with Trump and that`s when Senator Corker said that we could be heading toward World War III.
Senator Corker also said "he concerns me, he would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation." Senator Corker said that Donald Trump was lying about him, that in fact, President Trump urged Bob Corker to run for re-election and promised to endorse him if he did.
And Bob Corker reminded us that he took himself out of consideration for the vice presidential nomination. Bob Corker says there is no grand strategy to what Donald Trump does or says.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CORKER: A lot of people think that there`s some good cop, bad cop act under way, but that`s just not true. It`s like what he says doing "The Apprentice" or something and --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes --
CORKER: You know, he`s just putting on an act.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Senator Corker told the "Times", "I know he has hurt in several instances, he`s hurt us as it relates to negotiations that were under way by tweeting things out."
And by us, Senator Corker means the United States of America in negotiations with other countries, possibly even including North Korea.
Senator Corker also told the "Times", I know for a fact that every single day at the White House, it`s a situation of trying to contain him.
Prior to this weekend, Bob Corker`s sharpest criticism of the president came in August when he said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CORKER: The president has not yet -- has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Yesterday, Senator Corker told the "Times" that all of his critical comments about Donald Trump have been for an audience of one.
He told the "Times" that he had made all those comments deliberately, aiming them at an audience of one plus those people who are closely working around with him, what I would call the good guys.
He was referring to Mr. Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly.
The "Times" reported that during the interview yesterday, Mr. Corker speaking carefully and purposefully seemed to almost find cathartic satisfaction by portraying Mr. Trump in terms that most senior Republicans use only in private.
And we don`t know how many other Republican senators might be on the verge of experiencing that cathartic satisfaction of telling the truth about Donald Trump.
But it seems someone in the White House realized that the best way to find out how many Republicans want to experience that cathartic satisfaction.
Would be for Donald Trump to continue to attack and lie about Bob Corker. There isn`t one Republican senator who would side with Donald Trump over Bob Corker in this kind of dispute.
And so Donald Trump sits in the White House tonight, beaten into his corner by Bob Corker, humiliated by Bob Corker by being accurately described by Bob Corker.
The collected public quotes about President Trump by Senator Corker are the worst things ever said about a president by a senator in the same party.
They are now actually the worst things ever said by a senator about a president, World War III, World War III.
There is nothing worse that you can say about a president than that he`s setting the country on the path to World War III.
There is nothing worse that a president could do. Donald Trump is the slowest student ever to occupy the presidency, and so it is taking him a long time to discover that he doesn`t actually have any power over senators like Bob Corker, but tonight the president might finally be learning that lesson in the most painful way possible by having to sit there in the White House humiliated by Senator Corker and being unable to attack Senator Corker with a tweet because he has finally discovered that Bob Corker has more power over him than he has over Bob Corker.
And what the country and the world has a right to be worried about tonight is does Senator Corker`s humiliation of President Trump move us forward or backward on the path toward World War III?
Joining us now, Nicholas Kristof; Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the "New York Times", he returned from a five-day trip to North Korea, this was his third trip to North Korea.
Also with us Ezra Klein; editor-at-large at "Vox" and host of the podcast "The Ezra Klein Show". And Nick, one of the things that Bob Corker says is that Donald Trump does not understand how the world takes his comments.
And he made a point that I think a lot of people don`t often consider. He said -- and you have to think about these comments in translation because they have to then be translated into languages around the world.
What is your reading of what North Korea is taking from this president when he says these things, like "calm before the storm" and people wonder what that mystery is about and the other thing that he says.
NICHOLAS KRISTOF, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK TIMES: I mean, I think that when President Trump keeps talking about war with North Korea, I think he`s essentially bluffing.
I think he`s trying to put pressure on North Korea, and I think this is a huge miscalculation --
O`DONNELL: What do the North Koreans think?
KRISTOF: They complete -- they perceive it as real, and it does a few things. It limits their capacity to actually reach a deal.
It essentially means that they respond -- Kim Jong-un and Trump are both kind of similar and they intuitively escalate.
And that means is that it becomes much harder to avert the collision that we`re on right now. And it also dramatically increases the tensions.
Everybody that we talked to in North Korea raised the issue of President Trump`s speech to the United Nations.
It feeds Kim Jong-un`s line that he needs his nuclear weapons for defensive reasons to protect Korea from those American imperialist jerks who are going to invade the country.
So it essentially boosts Kim Jong-un`s legitimacy, undermines the chances for any kind of a deal and increases the risk of the cataclysmic war that Corker described -- World War III.
O`DONNELL: Ezra, the Trump administration has made life in Washington almost insufferable for a lot of people, including Republican senators.
And so senators who were not sure about whether they would run for another term, Donald Trump is making it probably easier for them to decide to not run for another term.
And now the Trump White House is discovering that one of the most dangerous things for them on Capitol Hill are the -- are Republican senators who won`t be running for another term like say, Bob Corker.
EZRA KLEIN, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, VOX: So something that Nick just said is instructive here. He just said that president -- the president of the United States and the leader of North Korea are in an important way similar.
So that as an American is a depressing thing to hear from somebody who come back from North Korea.
And the thing is, and this is what was behind Corker`s comments, Republicans know it, too. Corker said there are other Republicans who feel this way, the "New York Times" said it was a very notable line in that story.
That Corker is using terms senior Republicans use only in private. Not terms senior Republicans do not use, but terms used only in private.
I have heard this, anybody who does reporting with Republicans on this administration has heard it. It`s well-known that people in the administration think this about Donald Trump.
And it does a couple of things. As you say, one of the things it does is it makes serving in government right now extremely unpleasant.
That is bad for the country in certain ways. Mike Allen at "Axios" was saying today, they`re pretty much anyone you can think of in the Trump White House is eyeing the exits as much as they can.
That the exits of this administration after the year mark which is when people began to feel that they have served enough to say they served is going to be pretty devastating and who they`re going to get to replace these folks is not like folks who are lining up to work for Trump.
But the part of it that`s going to hurt the Trump administration is in the House, in the Senate. Republicans do not want to be in the position for four years, for eight years potentially of yoking themselves to this guy and history.
And because it is so hard to oppose him if you`re going to continue to serve and run, the move might be to simply leave, be able to say what you want on your way out the door and at least save your own legacy.
O`DONNELL: Steve Bannon apparently has a solution for Donald Trump`s Corker problem and he announced that tonight on "Fox News", let`s listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: If Bob Corker has any honor, any decency, he should resign immediately.
He should not let those words stand what he said about the president of the United States --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Now, that, Nick, that is as madman as you get in political analysis. He thinks that Bob Corker has to resign his seat because he criticized the president of the United States.
KRISTOF: You know, I mean, this would be comical except people around the world are looking at this, and this is humiliating for our country.
Any foreign policy professional, any Republican senator for that matter, having to choose between the maturity shown by Senator Corker and their contribution to the country, and that shown by this White House would immediately turn to Corker.
He`s seen as the grown-up and the president as the child. And so for Bannon to say that Corker should resign, it just compounds the sense that we have a presidency that is not only unfit, but also dangerous.
O`DONNELL: Ezra, is that a measure of Steve Bannon`s political intelligence because if it is, his political intelligence is zero.
Or is that just the kind of stunt language and stunt statement that his business depends on and "Fox News" is the perfect place for him to drum up his business?
O`DONNELL: One of the fundamental dynamics of the entire Trump administration is a bunch of people who are demanding the Republican Party be loyal to them when they`re not in any way loyal to the Republican Party.
Bannon is very much one of these folks and he`s trying to set himself up in this weird way. I mean, "Breitbart" is not correct anymore to think of it as a media organization in my view.
It`s an activist organization. Bannon is trying to run an interest group not dissimilar from the Club for Growth or Heritage for America or different kind of tea party groups that`s springing up over time.
Its immediate platform, what he`s trying to do is become a king maker and an internal revolution inside the Republican Party.
When he goes on "Fox News" and says that he`s not trying to help Donald Trump, that doesn`t help Donald Trump, and he`s not trying to help the Republican Party, he`s not making the argument on behalf of decency, the Lord knows.
He`s making an argument on behalf of trying to be seen as what he wants to be seen as next, which is the leader of the Trump era iteration of the tea party.
O`DONNELL: Nick, it sounds like he`s an Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin yippee version on some weird section of the right wing.
KRISTOF: I think that that`s largely right, but I mean, which is strange is the way this all coalesce, it`s -- you know, if it`s Steve Bannon, it`s not a problem.
The problem is when you have these ties to the White House and I do think that it relates to this central issue that Corker raised.
It is not just a question of immaturity, it`s not just a question of unfitness. It`s a question -- and even in domestic policy, there are constraints on a president in terms of courts, Congress, the news media for that matter.
But in foreign policy, and especially in terms of the nuclear button, there is no constraint and there the president is on his own.
And so that I think is what frightens Corker and I think that`s certainly what frightens me.
O`DONNELL: Yes, and that is Corker`s jurisdiction, that`s why he`s worried about it all day and he just couldn`t remain silent. Ezra Klein, Nicholas Kristof, thank you both for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.
KLEIN: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, new reporting tonight on the Trump reaction to the Bob Corker interview with the "New York Times", some saying that Donald Trump is in a pressure cooker and that pressure cooker is going to explode.
And Steve Bannon announced his new plan to destroy the Republican Party, he doesn`t describe it as that, but we`ll give you the details of his new plan coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BANNON: If Bob Corker has any honor, any decency, he should resign immediately. He should not let those words stand what he said about the president --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He wouldn`t --
BANNON: Of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was Steve Bannon, no doubt channeling Donald Trump tonight in his reaction to Senator Bob Corker`s attack on President Trump.
An attack about which the president has so far remained uncharacteristically silent. The "Washington Post" is reporting tonight Senator Corker`s brutal assessment of Trump`s fitness for office, warning that his reckless behavior could launch the nation on the path to World War III.
Also landed like a thunder clap inside the White House where aides feared possible ripple effects among other Republicans on Capitol Hill.
Trump`s Sunday morning Twitter tirade against Corker caught staffers by surprise, although the president had been brooding over the senator`s comment for a few days, earlier about Trump`s chaos endangering the nation.
One Trump confidant likened the president to a whistling tea pot saying that "when he does not blow off steam he can turn into a pressure cooker and explode.
I think we are in pressure cooker territory", said this person. Joining us now, Chris Whipple; author of "The Gate Keepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency".
And Chris, this is the presidency that is not defined by a White House Chief of Staff, although, we certainly have the image of General Kelly working overtime and obviously achieve some kind of success with Trump on this because he has not responded in any way to Bob Corker`s attack and we know that has to be driving the president nuts.
CHRIS WHIPPLE, AUTHOR: Yes, well, you know, it`s hard to overstate how, though, how dangerous and really frightening this whole situation is.
You know, I have been talking to a lot of the former White House chiefs of staff in the last 48 hours, and they all really share Bob Corker`s concerns that the John Kelly is the thin line between Donald Trump and disaster for us all.
And I got to tell you every one of them can tell you in chilling detail about that night before the inauguration when the chairman of the Joint Chiefs comes in and explains the activation of the nuclear codes.
And every one of them will tell you that there is really nobody who can countermand that order. And that`s the situation we find ourselves in right now.
O`DONNELL: And that -- and Bob Corker knows that and Bob Corker has sources inside the White House who are telling him as he said in the "New York Times" about how everyone`s time is spent, and Kelly`s time in particular, trying to contain, simply contain the president.
And that is a new phenomenon.
WHIPPLE: Yes, well, Kelly in my opinion made a big mistake when he said at the outset that he was only going to manage the West Wing, he wasn`t going to try to manage Donald Trump.
You know, Leon Panetta and James Baker, the two best in my mind, will tell you that the most important thing a White House chief does is he tells the president what he doesn`t want to hear.
O`DONNELL: Well, obviously he`s doing that. I mean, he`s trying to do that because and the proof of it is that Bob Corker comes out and tweets about the president being an adult day care, and then gives this interview to the "New York Times" and Donald Trump is absolutely silent.
And we know that`s not --
WHIPPLE: We`re talking about, what, 24 hours?
O`DONNELL: Yes, but that`s not -- that is not the Trump method. The Trump method is to instantaneously hit someone who does that.
WHIPPLE: But here`s --
O`DONNELL: So someone`s holding him back.
WHIPPLE: Yes, well, holding him back maybe in some instances, but here`s the problem. I mean, you`ve got a guy who he may go on script for a day or two, but the next day he rips the script up, goes on an unhinged tirade --
O`DONNELL: But that`s the pressure cooker thing that we were hearing about in the "Washington Post" tonight from someone close to Trump.
That if --
WHIPPLE: Yes --
O`DONNELL: You do get to control him for a couple of days, it might be that you make things worse because then you get a bigger explosion a few days later.
WHIPPLE: Well, maybe so, but I think -- I mean, the real concern here is that you`ve got somebody who again said during the campaign, why do we have nuclear weapons --
O`DONNELL: Yes --
WHIPPLE: If we can`t use them? You`ve got somebody who goes on these unhinged tirades, John Kelly doesn`t seem to be able to stop those.
You know, most -- a really empowered chief of staff would have tried to take the phone away on day one. That obviously never happened.
But in the meantime, he`s got to be thinking about worst-case scenarios. He`s got -- you know, when Ronald Reagan was on the operating table in 1981 in George Washington hospital, James Baker went into a utility closet, what that means, they discussed the 25th Amendment. Baker decided not to activate it because for two reasons. One, he knew it would look like a power grab by the vice President. Number two, he knew that Reagan was coming out of surgery. Donald Trump is not coming out of surgery.
WHIPPLE: This guy is not going to change and John Kelly is really the thin line between Trump and disaster.
O`DONNELL: Chris Whipple, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Coming up, Steve Bannon versus the Republican Party. He is threatening every incumbent Republican Senator running for re-election except one.
O`DONNELL: After Steve Bannon`s candidate beat Donald Trump`s candidate in the Alabama Senate Primary last month, tonight, Steve Bannon explains what happens next and it is the best news senate democrats could possibly hope for from Steve Bannon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STEVE BANNON, BREITBART NEWS, EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN: Corker, McConnell and Corker in the entire clique, establishment globalist clique on Capitol Hill have to go. And by the way, McConnell could not be majority leader unless Trump in Missouri, Wisconsin was able to carry those senators across the finish line. It is incumbent upon them to back President Trump`s but you don`t see it. What you saw with Corker said today is what they talk about on Capitol Hill. That`s when I left the White House remember. I said I`m going after the Republican establishment and we`re going to go after them. We`re going to challenge as a coalition.
PARSCALE: You mean the states?
BANNON: Ther`es a coalition coming together to challenge every Republican incumbent except for Ted Cruz.
(END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: That`s why I left the White House. He was fired from the White House.
Bloomberg is reporting today that Steve Bannon demanded all of the candidates that he supports for the senate agree to two conditions, that they will vote against Mitch McConnell as majority leader and they will vote to end senators` ability to block legislation by filibustering. If Bannon manages to carry out that threat, that means that Republican Senators will have to raise and spend more money than they have planned to on their reelection campaigns and it means that Donald Trump`s ally Steve Bannon will spend the year attacking the same Republican senators who Donald Trump needs to vote for anything that Donald Trump hopes to get through the senate.
We`ll go inside the wreckage of the Republican party next with Charlie Sykes and Jennifer Reuben.
O`DONNELL: We have breaking Trump Twitter news tonight of sorts. The President is tweeting tonight. He`s up and active and tweeting. He tweeted one about the NFL and two about the stock market and nothing, nothing about Bob Corker. And so, we are now moving past 24 hours of Donald Trump suffering this attack by Senator Bob Corker saying the worst things about him that any senator has ever said about a President and still absolute silence from President Trump.
Joining us now is Jennifer Reuben, Opinion Writer at Washington Post. Also joining us Charlie Sykes, Author of the new book, "How The Right Lost Its Mind" and a Msnbc Contributor. And Jennifer, two things to comment on tonight. One is this, the Trump silence continues in the face of Senator Corker`s powerful attack against the President. And, Steve Bannon`s attack against Republican Senate going -- he`s going to run a primary if he can against every Republican Senator up for election except for lying Ted, except for Ted Cruz, known as "Lying Ted" by Donald Trump.
For some reason being Lying Ted doesn`t -- doesn`t disqualify him from Donald Trump`s affection anymore. Take on the two things, one is Trump silence on Twitter at least and elsewhere and on Bob Corker and this Bannon assault on Republicans in the Senate.
JENNIFER REUBEN, WASHINGTON POST, OPINION WRITE: The only thing I can think of is that John Kelly literally stolen the phone away from Donald Trump. Someone else is perhaps twitting the innocuous things because essentially what Bob Corker did was he outed himself and every member of the Republican Party for allowing someone who they believe is mentally unable to perform the Office of the President of the United States, unable to perform the duties, a risk to the country to remain. And in doing so, he raises not only a question about Trump, but about the rest of them. What are they doing there if they truly believe that this man is about to cause World War III or eventually will cause World War III?
What if tomorrow John Kelly, Mattis and Tillerson would all quit? Would they feel that the country is in parallel? I certainly think they should. So that`s the only explanation I can come up with on that one.
As far as the senate goes, oh my. What fun this is going to be. The crazies against the crazier. Listen. Bannon is obviously trying to convert the entire party into a Bannon party, all right? He wants to become the king maker.
But what is interesting is that the possibility now opens up that some sane Republicans might get into the act. You know, if the pro Trump Republicans are going to fight it out between, say, Deb Fisher in Nebraska and some crazy Bannon person, perhaps a sane person, someone who actually believes in the constitution could get into the Republican primary. Maybe with 35 percent of the vote, someone who actually believes in the constitution, who believes in diplomacy in North Korea, who believes in the rule of law, could get into the act. And we now raise the interesting possibility that perhaps there can be a war for the soul of the Republican Party. The alternative, of course, that they go out of business and we have a lot of democrats in office which is possible, as well.
O`DONNELL: That is a fascinating point that putting a right wing or I don`t know what to call them. A Bannon wing challenger in these Republican primaries opens up a possibility where you an win it with 35 percent of the vote and you could win it in kind of classical Republican terms of the dole era of reasonable candidates.
Charlie Sykes, fascinating point. And I want -- I want to get you on what is happening here. When we watch Steve Bannon, when I watch Steve Bannon, the clips of him on fox news, it seems like during Donald Trump`s silence of Bob Corker, he has Steve Bannon out there saying the things he desperately wants to say, like the senator should resign the senate tonight.
CHARLIE SYKES, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Steve Bannon doesn`t think crazy town is crazy enough. But this is strategy. This is almost free form rage. It is not ideology. It`s nihilism.
You know, pushing the party further and further from the sanity that Jennifer was talking about, the tell here is that Bannon is not only supporting people like Roy Moore and the challengers, he is also supporting the disgraced senator of New York, Michael Grim, just got out of jail. You know, Michael Grim is not a populist. He`s basically a loud mouth. He`s a troublemaker. He is a thug. He is a crook.
So what -- what is the strategy here except to blow things up? And what`s really extraordinary about it is that Bannon is pushing this agenda at a time when Donald Trump himself is blowing up his own administration, is burning so many bridges. And what you are seeing here is, you know, look, this is not a governing philosophy. This is a -- this is like getting in touch with the Steve Bannon Trumpian id. It`s hard to imagine how it makes the Trump presidency more successful or how it will do anything other than to continue the Republican civil war.
I mean, yes, you can have sane, rational Republicans, you know, rise to the top. But right now, that`s not the trajectory of the Republican Party.
O`DONNELL: Jennifer, if the Secretary of the State is right and the President is a moron, what is Steve Bannon?
REUBEN: Well, he`s sort of the instigator of the moron. Trump doesn`t like the notion that Bannon pulls his strings behind the back but that`s sort of what he is doing because after all Trump wants to take control of the Republican Party and Bannon is doing the work for him because Trump isn`t skilled enough or articulate enough or however you want to put it to make that come to pass. So now it`s not really Trump`s party. It`s Bannon`s party. Perhaps he is the kingmaker and the man pulling the strings.
I would agree with Charlie on the point that this is about rage and I wonder if for his supporters at this point, that`s all they have left. They know they`re not getting anything. They`re not going to get the promises. All they have is rage at this point and that`s all Trump can give them.
O`DONNELL: Charlie, a quick last word. Charlie, go ahead.
SYKES: Yes. Yes. I mean, this is -- remember we heard this during the campaign. We want to burn it all down. We want to tear it down. And then that`s what`s Steve Bannon is doing. He`s not trying to pursue a strategy that will get any legislation passed. He is going to -- he is pushing a strategy designed to maximize chaos and I think he is likely to get it.
O`DONNELL: And so, Steve Bannon is supporting -- he`ll support you if Donald Trump called you a lie your like Lying Ted or if like former Staten Island, Congressman Michael Grim, you`ve actually done time. You have actually been convicted of crimes, gone to jail.
SYKES: He`s the other guy.
O`DONNELL: You can get the Steve Bannon endorsement that way. We have to leave it there for tonight. Jennifer Reuben and Charlie Sykes, thank you both for joining us. Really appreciate it.
Coming up, we`ll show you one of the Russian-backed videos that they put on Facebook to try to push votes to Donald Trump. We now have one of those videos.
O`DONNELL: Here is a video from one of the Russian-backed Facebook accounts that attacked Hillary Clinton during the Presidential campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most of the black people in America thinks that Hillary is the one who is going to protect them and Hillary is the one who is going to fight for them. Well, hell know. Hillary Clinton is one of the liar.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This woman, she is sick in her head. She thinks like crazy. She behaves like crazy. Or tries to pretend like she`s an angel.
(END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: We have no idea who those people are. They call themselves Williams and Calvin. Their content was pulled from Facebook in august after it was identified as a Russian government backed propaganda account. They claims to be Atlanta residents but there is no trace of them in Atlanta. And we don`t know where in the planet their programming originated from.
Today, Google revealed that tens of thousands of dollars were spent on ads by Russian agents who aimed to spread disinformation across Google`s many products. According to the Washington Post, the Russian-purchased ads on Google do not appear to be from the same Kremlin affiliated troll farm that bought ads on Facebook, a sign that the Russian effort spread disinformation online. Maybe a much broader problem than Silicon Valley companies have unearthed so far.
And so how did the Russians know where to target their anti-Hillary Clinton and pro Donald Trump messages? Did the Russians get guidance from the Trump campaign`s digital team? Here`s what the Trump campaign digital director told 60 minutes last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BRAD PARSCALE, TRUMP`S PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN, DIGITAL DIRECTOR: I think it`s a joke when they involve myself because I know my own activities. And I know the activities this campaign, I was there. This is a farce.
LESLIE STAHL, CBC` 60 MINUTES, HOST: It`s a farce that you colluded with the Russians?
PARSCALE: Yes. It`s just a joke.
STAHL: Did you have a hand in generating these bots?
PARSCALE: I have nothing to do with bots. I don`t think bots work.
STAHL: But if you see there are hundreds of thousands of bots floating around with pro-Trump messages, somebody generated it. Where would it come from?
PARSCALE: I would imagine there were people, everyday people in America who thought they were trying to help. I don`t know.
STAHL: If the bots came from the Russians, would you know?
STAHL: Do you think it might have?
PARSCALE: No idea.
STAHL: Could it have?
PARSCALE: Could be for anybody in the world.
(END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Former FBI Agent Clint Watts, a cyber security expert will join us next on the question, how did the Russians know which voters to target to try to flip the electoral college to Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PARSCALE: I understood early that Facebook was how Donald Trump was going to win. Twitter is how he talked to the people. Facebook was going to be how he won.
STAHL: and Facebook is how he won.
PARSCALE: I think so. I mean I think Donald Trump won, but I think Facebook was the method. It was the highway in which his car drove on.
(END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: That was the Digital Director of the Trump Presidential Campaign. And here is one of the ways Facebook helped Donald Trump win the Electoral College.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary is being (INAUDIBLE) by the Muslim and she is going to stand for the Muslim. Hillary Clinton is not our candidate. So, if you vote for her, you take responsibility for our crime.
(END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: That was a Russian-backed Facebook account that was removed by Facebook in august. Joining us now, Clint Watts, Former FBI Agent and Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. He`s also an MSNBC Contributor.
And, Clint, so now we are finally seeing the Russian-backed material. It seems pretty crude.
CLINT WATTS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Right. That example is extremely crude and one I doubt, you know, moved a lot of the American minds. But what the Russians do that Americans don`t necessarily do is they try everything. You know, they`ll try every platform. They`ll try every message.
In 2015 when we really started to see them do influence and social media, they focused on social issues. That`s what you`re seeing from these Facebook disclosures. Race, religion, rich versus poor, police violence, Bundy ranch standoff, jade helm, military exercises, second amendment rights. That`s how they stack up.
They find those audiences that are receptive to their message and when it comes election year, that`s when they start pushing these themes on candidates. And so, what you`re seeing now is every social media platform is finally getting around to the data. They`re using each other`s data and we see these disclosures each day. And whether it`s Facebook to twitter, now twitter to Google, you`re seeing them reveal different parts of these networks and that is a built-in strategy from the Kremlin. Their active measures are meant to be distributed so they have plausible deny ability. And so they`ll try all the techniques. When they find success, they double down and triple down and that`s how the system works across all the platforms.
O`DONNELL: We heard Brad Parscale tell Leslie Stahl last night on 60 Minutes, and it`s a joke to think that there would have been any possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians. But how would the Russians figure out exactly where to target the possible flipping of voters so that you could affect the Electoral College? There are very, very few political analysts who would be able to guide you in that.
WATTS: Well, they were in the audience space long before the political campaigns kicked off. I mean, we were picking them up in social media going all the way back to 2014. They actually have a fairly sophisticated understanding of what issues resonate because they run so many iterations over and over.
Second thing is there are lots of Americans that work at R.T., you know, in these news outlets. There are lots of Americans overseas that are in Russia that help out and assist in these operations. So, they are -- they are not necessarily without experience in this case. And I think the third thing is they`re successful because our elections are always decided in five to seven states in every iteration. They don`t have to dig too hard to figure out what is going to be important Election Day.
O`DONNELL: Clint Watts gets tonight`s Last Word. Thank you Clint really appreciate it.
WATTS: Appreciate it.
O`DONNELL: The 11th hour with Brian Williams starts now.
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