Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: October 10, 2017 Guest: David Frum, Ron Klain, Wendy Sherman, Charlie Cook, Barbara McQuade
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Good evening Rachel, another extraordinary and moving hour of television.
I want to update you on the Weinstein company during your hour, issued a statement saying -- this is from the remaining board members, a bunch of them have quit but there`s a group left.
And they said "these alleged actions and are antithetical to human decency. These allegations come as an utter surprise to the board. Any suggestion that the board had knowledge of this conduct is false."
And boy, Rachel, the reporting in the "New York Times" and Ronan Farrow`s extraordinary reporting indicate that the knowledge was very widespread in that company.
MADDOW: Well, and the -- I mean, the fact that, you know, we now have to parse what was a joke, what was a rumor, what was witnessed, what was known about, what was covered up, I mean, that level of -- the level of complicity and knowledge is quite a number line here in terms of how close other people were to the story and how breakable it was before it finally made its way into print.
So this is a story that obviously is a story about Harvey Weinstein, but it`s also a story about everybody who had contact with these allegations from when they started, and why it took this long for it all to come out.
O`DONNELL: And there was massive cover-up system built within the company and aiding and abetting system built within the company, even bigger than the descriptions of what we roughly know about how things worked in "Fox News".
MADDOW: And the thing that I find -- that makes me want to do additional reporting on this, and actually, specifically makes me want to talk to the reporters who have now broken this story is I`m looking forward tomorrow night talking to Jodi Kantor to hear about whether or not the "Times" also experienced during their reporting some of what Ronan described here in terms of the threats he said he got and that his sources got.
These women coming forward even now, people from inside the company coming forward even now, getting incredible pressure and him getting incredible pressure as a reporter to not do this.
That means the system for shutting this stuff down has been operating as recently as this week. And so if the "New Yorker" and the "Times" had to fight that in their own way in order to get this stuff published, that means that this isn`t stuff like -- you know, I heard about this years ago and let it slide.
That means that the cover-up is still active. And that`s a different type of culpability in terms of people who are saying they had no idea.
O`DONNELL: And the "New York Times" knows how to work its way through these kinds of threats. And when you`re a reporter for the "Times", you have a massive protection system around you.
There is a point in this process where Ronan Farrow is essentially a freelancer bringing this into the "New Yorker", and he was under very serious threat.
Thanks to him being on your show, I got a chance to shake his hand in the hallway and talk to him a bit on the way out of the building.
And the threat that he was under the legal threat, the Weinstein money will bury you in court threat, even if -- even if this never gets to court.
Just the threat of suing someone is so financially frightening in a situation like that.
MADDOW: Yes, and imagine being -- getting that threat as somebody who is bringing it to light, but then compound that by imagine being one of the women who is helping bringing this to light, who is in the industry and who is talking about something that happened to them personally, who already dealt with the physical threat of what she alleges happening to her.
And then imagine those legal threats on top of that, in terms -- the kinds of pressure that these women are under for coming forward.
I mean, I don`t care how famous some of these actors are, who are coming forward. The amount of pressure they had to endure, the amount of stress and the bravery that it takes for them to speak out even now, even alongside all these other women making similar allegations, it`s almost unfathomable.
And I just -- I mean, this -- the bravery of these women to come out right now, it`s just -- it`s really something.
O`DONNELL: And this is in direct service to women who are entering this business right now this year. Think of the college graduates who have come out of their colleges this year who have headed off to companies similar to the Weinstein company and places like that in Hollywood, in New York, around here.
They now have this document. And Ronan`s reporting is so invaluable because it puts them in the room with the --
MADDOW: Yes --
O`DONNELL: Person like this as they read it. And they read -- they can identify with the choices that these women make in the room and some of the heroic choices Rosanna Arquette, for example, who basically smacks down Harvey Weinstein and gets out of that room.
There is so much for young women entering the workforce to study in Ronan`s article especially.
MADDOW: Yes, and -- but the Rosanna Arquette piece is also -- you know, illustrative for the opposite reason. I know, one of the things she is coming out about is saying, listen, yes, I got away and I said no, and I smacked this down as best I could and then my career, I paid for it --
O`DONNELL: Yes --
MADDOW: Forever after. And yes, I paid a major price for it and that`s part of what it cost me to stand up and do it.
I mean, for me, one of the heartbreaking things about this, particularly in the follow-up story in the "Times" today is to read the stories of these women who were 22, 23, 24 and entering the industry, and promising talents and wanted this.
This was their dream and this was what they were pursuing, that`s why they got into the room with Harvey Weinstein in the first place.
They thought it was an opportunity, and not only were they abused allegedly or harassed allegedly or attacked allegedly, these -- what the end result for them is that they got out of the industry --
O`DONNELL: Yes --
MADDOW: They left, they became -- they dropped that dream and did something else when they realized that this is what it took in order to get ahead in that particular part of American life and American culture.
And that`s on everybody, whoever knew about it and tolerated it.
O`DONNELL: Well, I`ll be watching tomorrow night as I was watching tonight, Rachel, really --
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence --
O`DONNELL: Extraordinary evening, thank you Rachel --
MADDOW: Appreciate it, my friend. thanks --
O`DONNELL: Thank you. Well, for two whole days and nights, President Trump mysteriously held his fire against Republican Senator Bob Corker after a Twitter fight with Corker on Sunday morning in which Senator Corker got the last word on Donald Trump with this tweet.
"It`s a shame the White House has become an adult day-care center. someone obviously missed their shift this morning."
And Donald Trump did not fire back at Bob Corker. Someone in the White House must have been urging the president to do something he`s never done.
Just put the phone down and walkway from a Twitter fight, and he did for two whole days and nights. Possibly the most difficult days and nights of the presidency for Donald Trump.
Adult day-care center? Bob Corker says Donald Trump is in adult day care and Donald Trump says nothing?
Until finally this morning Donald Trump couldn`t take it any longer, and with two days of agonizing over how to respond to adult day care, Donald Trump came up with this.
The failing "New York Times" set little Bob Corker up by recording his conversation, was made to sound a fool, and that`s what I am dealing with."
It was a historic tweet for Trump not just because it took him two full days to come up with an attack tweet against someone who had hit him hard, but because for reasons Trump scholars could not figure out today, the insult-spelling of little has changed in the Trump language.
Little Marco was always simply little Marco. Little Marco Rubio, the lightweight no show senator from Florida is set to be the puppet of the special interest Koch brothers.
Watch little with two Ts, little Marco is now of course a vote Donald Trump has been able to rely on in the Senate even when it comes to taking away health care coverage for 20 million people.
It might be that in what Bob Corker believes is the unstable mind of Donald Trump, the word "little" as an insult belongs to Senator Marco Rubio forever.
Trump might need it again as soon as Senator Rubio stands in opposition to the president on something -- on anything.
And so changing the Ts in little to Ds might make a certain sense to Donald Trump, but no one has yet offered a credible theory about the apostrophe.
The apostrophe at the end of the word "little". But there had to be a very good reason for changing the spelling of that word and putting an apostrophe at the end.
Because the president of the United States took 48 hours of presidential time to think about it.
And there is no indication that the president was thinking about anything else during that time period.
And of course, as with most Donald Trump tweets, the president had no idea what he was talking about.
Recording Senator Corker`s conversation with the "New York Times" was Senator Corker`s idea and the "New York Times" idea.
Here is -- here is Bob Corker telling the "New York Times" that he is having his staff record the conversation.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: I know they are recording it --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes --
CORKER: And I hope you are too.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I am.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The "Times" released that audio after Donald Trump tweeted his lie about Bob Corker being tricked into being recorded in that conversation.
Donald Trump did not tweet anything about what Senator Corker actually told the "New York Times" including "we could be heading toward World War III, thanks to Donald Trump.
And I know for a fact that every single day at the White House, it`s a situation of trying to contain him.
And he concerns me. He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation." And "the president has us on the path to World War III."
Donald Trump apparently believes that height really is the measure of a man, that is because Donald Trump is himself over 6 feet tall and a simple tone.
The "New York Times" reported today "in labeling Mr. Corker little, the president was evidently returning to a theme he considered Mr. Corker for Secretary of State during the transition after last year`s election.
But was reported to have told associates that Mr. Corker at 5 foot 7 was too short to be the nation`s top diplomat.
Well, our first Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson was 6 feet 2 inches tall, which nicely matched the height of his boss George Washington who was also 6 foot 2.
But Thomas Jefferson did not think that his height set a mandatory precedent for future Secretaries of State.
When Jefferson`s turn came to choose a Secretary of State, President Jefferson chose James Madison who was 5 feet, 4 inches tall, three inches shorter than Bob Corker.
And of course Donald Trump has no idea how tall James Madison was or anything else about James Madison other than he might be the guy who Madison Avenue is named after which of course he is.
Multiple reports indicate that President Trump was fuming about Bob Corker for days after the senator said this about Secretary of State 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: Senator Corker said that right after Rex Tillerson was reported to have referred to the president as a moron in a meeting of senior administration staff at the Pentagon.
The president talked about being called a moron in an interview published by "Forbes" today. The questioner said there are reports out today over the last couple of days about him calling you a moron privately as he talked, reached out to you about that, do you believe that?
Do you believe that he said that? Trump said, "well, we may -- we may have to if he did that, which he says he didn`t by the way.
He said he didn`t and they announced with the State Department that he didn`t, I think it`s fake news.
But if he did that, I guess we`ll have to compare IQ tests, and I can tell you who is going to win."
Of course with any Trump answer that is five sentences long like that one, there is bound to be at least one lie and of course Rex Tillerson never said that he didn`t call the president a moron.
That`s a very important part of this story. Rex Tillerson has had many opportunities to say that he did not call the president a moron.
And it is true that this State Department spokesperson said that Rex Tillerson did not call the president a moron.
But she was not in the room when Rex Tillerson reportedly called the president a moron. And no one who was in that room has gone public and insisted that Rex Tillerson did not call the president a moron.
And perhaps more importantly, no one in Washington, no one in that room, no one in the Trump administration has bothered to even attempt to defend the president against the accusation that he is a moron until today.
It fell to President Trump himself to defend his intelligence against the accusation that he is a moron and he did that with that Trumpian self- contradictory answer that he gave to the moron question.
At first the Trump position is, he says he didn`t, by the way, he says he didn`t. And then the president goes on to say, but if he did, that`s how confident the president is that Rex Tillerson did not call him a moron.
He is so confident that Rex Tillerson did not call him a moron that he immediately entertained the possibility that Rex Tillerson did call him a moron.
And he entertains that possibility to the point that he comes up with a plan to prove that Rex Tillerson is wrong and that Donald Trump is not a moron.
He says "if he did that, I guess we`ll have to compare IQ tests." In his meeting with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger today in the Oval Office, the president did not challenge Kissinger to an IQ test, not just because the world knows that the 94-year-old former Harvard professor and Secretary of State would beat Donald Trump in an IQ test in his sleep, but because presidents just don`t challenge people to IQ contests.
That`s easy to forget during the Trump administration. And at least one compartment of Donald Trump`s brain seems to know that because look at what he said with Henry Kissinger sitting right beside him.
When he was asked about his boast that he has a higher IQ than Rex Tillerson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you undercut the Secretary of State today with the IQ comment?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I didn`t undercut anybody, I don`t believe in undercutting people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: I don`t believe in undercutting people", says the man whose true religion is undercutting people.
The man who called the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today "little Bob Corker".
That is what pathological lying looks like. I don`t believe in undercutting people on the day when he publicly undercuts people.
There is not a person in the world who does not know that Donald Trump is lying when he says "I do not believe in undercutting people."
And Donald Trump knows that you know he`s lying but he cannot stop himself. You have never seen that before in a president.
You`ve never seen a president who publicly proves he`s telling a lie on the very same day he`s telling that lie.
And that is why Senator Corker believes this president does not have the stability or the competence. Those were his words, stability or the competence to fulfill the duties of the presidency and as a result, we are on the path to World War III.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, is Senator Corker right that you`re putting the U.S. on the path to World War III?
TRUMP: We were on the wrong path before, all you have to do is take a look. If you look over the last 25 years through numerous administrations, we were on a path to a very big problem, a problem like this world has never seen.
We`re on the right path right now, believe me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: "Believe me". In the same interview session where the president offered the lie "I don`t believe in undercutting people."
When he was asked if he was putting the United States on the path to World War III, he gave an answer that was a meaningless jumble of words without a hint of knowledge, wisdom or reassurance, ending with the two words "believe me".
The only people who can believe Donald Trump at this point are the people who believed him when he first started lying about President Obama`s birth.
And according to the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Corker, what`s at stake now in the president`s lying, thanks to the president who publicly begs to be believed in one breath while telling provable lies in the next breath is nothing less than World War III.
Joining us now are Ron Klain; former chief of staff to Vice Presidents Joe Biden and Al Gore and a former senior aide to President Obama.
Also with us David Frum; senior editor for "The Atlantic". And David Frum, I want to go to you on this point of Bob Corker warning the world that this president is risking putting us on the path to World War III.
The president has asked about it today and the answer contains absolutely nothing that is even relevant to the question.
DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: So you flipped us all out tonight, and I`m a little flipped out.
I would just point out that along with -- we recently mourned the loss of Monty Hall. Along with the door number one behind which is World War III, there is a door number two which presents another according to Bob Corker, not quite as immediately terrifying but still troubling alternative.
Which is Bob Corker said the thing that is saving us from World War III is that the senior officials of the Trump White House, the Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State, the Chief of Staff, are not doing what the president says.
They are repressing him and containing him and that`s our salvation. And obviously that`s a palace coup like that is a better alternative than World War III.
But it`s not constitutional. It`s not the way the American system of government is supposed to work. It`s not supposed to be that the president makes decisions and the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense say don`t think so.
So we have the risk of war that you so powerfully depicted. We also have the ongoing reality of the government of the United States defying presidential authority to cope with him and setting in motion some anti- constitutional proceedings.
O`DONNELL: And Ron Klain, we have the "Wall Street Journal" -- conservative "Wall Street Journal" editorial board coming out -- an editorial saying of course Bob Corker is right.
We have the "Washington Post" coming out with an editorial saying of course Bob Corker is right, and that leaves Washington with the question of what can we possibly do if this depends simply on the mood management of the president of the United States to avoid World War III?
RON KLAIN, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO JOE BIDEN & AL GORE: Yes, I mean, David`s very scary night tonight.
And -- you know, but this is the feud between Bob Corker and Donald Trump is just what every parent sees in the back seat of their minivan every day between two 10-year-olds when they`re fighting over who is going to day care and who is too short and who is not tall and all these things, other than the fact that one of those 10-year-olds is equipped with nuclear weapons.
And this is not a new concern. I mean, you`ll remember, Lawrence, that last year during the campaign, for the first time ever, men and women who operate nuclear silos signed a statement saying they were scared that Donald Trump would become the commander-in-chief and might order them to fire nuclear weapons.
So this is a concern that we knew about during the campaign, that we`re seeing bubble to the surface. And I agree with David, the antidote to that which is a constitutional crisis where senior civilian officials, where military officials refuse to follow the president`s orders.
It looks like the good scenario at this point in time.
O`DONNELL: And go ahead David --
FRUM: They`re not refusing, they`re just -- they`re not refusing to follow, they`re just are saying -- they`re developing a lot of hearing troubles.
And they`re trying to prevent it coming to the point where the president gives the order. And that is -- that is the thing that Bob Corker talked about was Anthony Scaramucci back in July complained about this, he said there are people inside the Trump White House who see it as their job to protect the United States from Donald Trump.
And God bless them and thank them for their service, but it is not the constitutional way to run the government of the United States.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Republican Charlie Dent said about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. CHARLIE DENT (R), PENNSYLVANIA: We`ve had a lot of these emperor -- and the emperor has no clothes moments.
And I`m glad that Senator Corker has brought voice to this. We are concerned -- my colleagues, my Republican colleagues in the House I know and Senate are concerned by much of the dysfunction and disorder and chaos at the White House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Ron Klain, there are real cracks in the wall now.
KLAIN: There are cracks, Lawrence, and I think the question is will other people step up and say what Bob Corker says.
Said a version what John McCain said when he voted against the health care bill, and the Republicans who speak out against this president.
There are cracks, but they`re only cracks. And I think the question is will this come undone in time to save the rest of us from the rest of the Trump presidency?
And I -- you know, I hope that other people of good conscience will follow Senator Corker`s lead, will follow Congressman Dent`s lead and call this out and stand up to President Trump and point out what`s really going on here, which is a horrible crisis of our constitution and our presidency.
O`DONNELL: And David, Bob Corker has been very careful to not go out against Donald Trump and until he found the spot where he felt he simply must.
He actually supported Donald Trump at many turns in the road here. He has been reported to be very friendly with President Trump prior --
KLAIN: Yes --
O`DONNELL: To August, anyway of this year. So he built his credibility among republicans as someone who wasn`t for their taste in Washington anyway, just quickly or reflexively anti-Trump.
It took him a ways -- a while to get here. But now that he is here, we have never heard more condemning language from the United States senator about the president of the United States.
KLAIN: Look, Bob Corker is no hero of conscience. But I think as the story unfolds, what you`ll hear is -- I mean, there`s a kind of sick, perverse dynamic which is the people who really are heroes of conscience -- well, they don`t matter because they speak up early.
The people who are somewhat less heroic, but a little bit more heroic than those who speak -- you hear from the next.
The tipping point is always the people who are the biggest opportunists. When you lose the opportunists, then you`re really in trouble.
And so what you`ll have are Republicans of ever worse character standing up later and later. And I think if that`s what it takes to save us from the Monty Python alternatives of curtain number one, World War III.
Curtain number two, palace intrigue and palace coups, that`s what it takes.
O`DONNELL: Line of the night when you lose the opportunists -- beautifully put. Ron Klain, David Frum, thank you both for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.
FRUM: Thank you --
KLAIN: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, the president versus the Iran deal. What will the president do? When will he do it? Ambassador Wendy Sherman will join us. She helped negotiate the Iran deal that the president is now threatening.
Wendy Sherman says the president is playing with fire.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) --
TRUMP: You`re going to see very soon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, sir.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: In tweets over the weekend, the president blamed Senator Bob Corker for the Iran deal.
If you listen to the Trump White House, you would never know that Senator Corker voted against the Iran deal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Senator Corker worked with Nancy Pelosi and the Obama administration to pave the way for that legislation and basically rolled out the red carpet for the Iran deal.
I mean, those are pretty factual.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: In an op-ed in the "New York Times" today, as the president moves towards decertifying the Iran deal, former Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman who participated in the negotiations on the Iran deal said "the president and the Republican-controlled Congress are not only playing with fire, they are lighting it themselves."
Joining us now, Ambassador Wendy Sherman who is Nbc News and Msnbc global affairs contributor.
Ambassador Sherman, tell us the essential points you`re making in the "New York Times" today. What is their version of playing with fire?
WENDY SHERMAN, SENIOR COUNSELOR, ALBRIGHT STONEBRIDGE GROUP: Well, it`s very interesting, Lawrence. What the president is going to do is say that he is not going to certify that Iran is complying with the deal, even though the International Atomic Energy Agency has certified eight times that they have complied completely.
And all of our partners in the negotiation, including our European partners believe that Iran is complying with the deal.
Then he is going to toss it to Congress and abdicate responsibility and say to the Congress, well, now you`ve got under the review legislation that the president was talking about that Senator Corker helped design.
You`re going to have 60 days whether to snap back sanctions and blow up the entire nuclear deal.
The president is going to say it`s not in our vital national security interests, and they`re not staying with the spirit of the deal.
What he`s really saying is that somehow or other, allowing Iran to go back to seeking nuclear weapons is in our vital national security interests.
And that just seems absurd on its face. In addition, quite frankly, I think the thing that he is really upset with about Senator Corker is the review legislation which was meant to hold an administration I think probably, thinking would be a Clinton administration`s feet to the fire.
Every 90 days, the president has to say this deal is working. And the president of the United States today has said so many times it`s a bad deal that having to do this every 90 days is driving him completely mad and that`s what he is really mad with Bob Corker about.
O`DONNELL: The president apparently had a phone call with the United Kingdom`s Prime Minister Theresa May tonight. And that is the British read- out of that phone call. The prime minister reaffirmed the UK`s strong commitment to the deal alongside our European partners, saying it was vitally important for regional security. The Prime Minister stressed that it was important that the deal was carefully monitored and properly enforced.
SHERMAN: I couldn`t agree with her more. I would say, you know, the President is going to talk about all the actions that Iran is taking to destabilize the Middle East. And there is no question that Iran is really involved and engaged in the line behavior in the Middle East.
But we have lots of tools to deal with that. We have sanctions on Iran for virtually every activity that Congress just passed additional sanctions against Iran. We can work with our partners. We can preserve the security of Israel.
We can attend to the concern, legitimate concerns of the Gulf Countries. But we don`t need to urge North Korea, it`s all the same, melding together we don`t have to urge Iran to going back to seeking nuclear weapons to do that. That`s just absurd.
O`DONNELL: Quickly before we go, do you have a sense if this is thrown to Congress that voting might be different? For example, Senators have had some time to watch this deal in action. And some Senators who are opposed to it in the past could be in favor of continuing it now?
SHERMAN: Indeed. We`ve seen Senator Schumer and Senator Cardin who are Democrat who voted against it say the deal should stay in place. We`ve seen the Republican Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Ed Royce say he thinks the deal should stay in place. Jeff Flake said now may not be the time to decertify this deal.
So we`ve got plenty of people who understand that we are doing what we`re supposed to do, which is stop Iran from having a nuclear weapon, which could project even more power into the region and deter us from the actions we need to take with our allies and our partners.
O`DONNELL: Ambassador Wendy Sherman, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
SHERMAN: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, the polls for President Trump get worse and worse and worse. And now he is losing the crucial swing states that won him the Electoral College. And that could all mean big wins for Democrats in the elections next year. And later, the games the Trump team is playing with Robert Mueller`s investigation.
O`DONNELL: 67 percent. That is the astronomical disapproval rating President Trump has in the latest ap poll. 67 percent. That`s what the Trump chaos Presidency has earned. And that was before Trump ally Steve Bannon promised even more chaos in the Republican Party.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN BANNON, FMR. WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: 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 -
SEAN HANNITY, AUTHOR: Give me the states there.
BANNON: There`s a coalition coming together that`s going to challenge every Republican incumbent except for Ted Cruz.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: There are very few political analysts who are even capable of tracking all House and Senate elections, and there might be only one who is consistently good at it. The Analyst we all turn to for questions of what`s going to happen in Congressional Election series of course Charlie Cook, Editor and Publisher of the Cook Political Report.
And now Charlie Cook believes that Donald Trump and the Republicans have made Democratic control of the House and Senate within reach in the next election. He writes, the party needs to sublimate its divisions, get mainstream Republicans to the polls and persuade the Trump base to cast ballot for non-Trump Republicans. That`s a tall order and it`s why last week`s news reduced the odds of the GOP retaining its majority from a good bet to even money.
Joining us now is Charlie Cook. Charlie, what about this week`s news of Steve Bannon trying to bring chaos to the Republican reelection campaigns of all the Senators running for reelection except Ted Cruz?
CHARLIE COOK, REPORTER: You know, this is all just so terribly self- destructive. I mean it was as if they`re trying to lose at least their majority in the house, if not the Senate. And, you know, I kind of wonder, what are these people thinking? I mean you know, how much fun would it be for President Trump to hand over the power to subpoena to House Democrats?
I mean, are they thinking about this? I`m just sort of baffled when I watch some of this behavior. And, you know, how in the world does Steve Bannon think the President`s agenda would get through if Republicans lose one, two, or even the three Senate seats that would tip the Senate over. And that`s entirely possible when there, you know, it`s like a cannibalization going after Jeff Flake in Arizona and Dean Heller in Nevada and now going after other people. Wow. I`m just standing back and watching in disbelief.
O`DONNELL: The -- have we ever seen a President come back in a year from a 67 percent disapproval rating? He`s got less than a year, really, when you consider voting in the next Congressional Elections to get that disapproval rating into some kind of manageable territory for his party.
COOK: Well, that 67 is a little hard to disprove than other polls. But just take last week`s Gallup Poll, for example. It was 38 approve and 56 disapprove. The average for Presidents, newly elected Presidents at this point is 62 percent approve and President Trump has a 38 percent approve. And you look at his numbers among Republicans.
He got 88 percent of the Republican vote. He`s got about 82 percent approval rating among Republicans. OK, that`s fine. But he got 46 percent of the independent vote. Now his approval rating, the Gallup is 31 percent among independents and 9 percent among Democrats.
This is not a recipe for being able to hold on to Congress. When you think of why do parties have disastrous midterm elections and four of the last six midterm, the party in the Whitehouse lost their majorities either in the House, the Senate or both. It`s a President with low approval ratings. It`s a divided, you know, they`re a party being badly divided or it`s having a Congress that hasn`t delivered much.
Well, those are the -- you know, it`s check, check, check for all three of those boxes this time. So this is looking I mean look, we got 13 months. But gosh, this is what it looks like when the wheels start coming off a bus.
O`DONNELL: You published some stunning numbers in analyzing midterms since 1966, showing that if the President`s approval number is under 50 percent, that means that his party will lose an average of 40 seats in the house and lose an average of five senate seats. If the president`s approval is under 50, you didn`t even publish a number, Charlie, for what happens if it`s under 40.
COOK: Yes, well, this is new territory here. But yes, and now the thing is there are some factors that would partially mid gate it. Congressional District Boundaries since the 2011 redistricting benefit republicans Some, and natural population patterns where Democratic vote is concentrated in urban areas but let`s just say take that 40 number. OK, knock it down by 25 percent to 30.
That`s still losing the House. I mean anything 24 or over is losing majority in the House. So even with the district boundaries and population patterns, the chances of Republicans losing 24 or more are going up and but you`re right. I mean when a President has approval rating of 50 or over, they`ve typically either picked up seats or just lost a dozen or 15 seats. But when it`s under 50, it starts getting really awful and 38, good gosh.
O`DONNELL: the race is on. . Charlie Cook, thank you very much for joining us.
COOK: Thank you Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Really appreciate it. Thank you. Coming up, some Trump advisers are telling the President to attack the special prosecutor. Other Trump advisers are telling him to charm the special prosecutor. What is a President to do?
O`DONNELL: Tonight The Associated Press is reporting that President Trump is being advised to go on the attack against Russia Investigations Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller. The AP Reports that long-time friends and allies are pushing Trump to fight back citing concerns that his lawyers are naive to the existential threat facing the President. Trump supporters and associates inside and outside the Whitehouse see the conciliatory path as risky to the maverick President`s tenure.
Instead they want the street fighting Tweeter to criticize Mueller with abandon because, you know, that always works with Special Prosecutors. President Trump spoke to Forbes Magazine about the Russia Investigation in a new interview. He says the Senate Intelligence Committee has found, "that there has been absolutely no collusion. They just said that yesterday, two days ago, Senate there has been no collusion." It would have been really big news if that happened, right?
It didn`t. Here is what the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee actually said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD BURR, SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: The issue of collusion is still open that we continue to investigate both intelligence and witnesses. And that we`re not in a position where we will come to any type of temporary finding on that until we`ve completed the process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And there are some new developments in the House Investigation. Congressman Devin Nunes, the Republican Chair of the House Intelligence Committee who recused himself from the Russia Investigation has suddenly subpoenaed the partners of Fusion GPS, the firm that produced the Trump Russia Dossier. Those subpoenas were issued without consulting any of the Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee
Coming up, with the issue of collusion still open, as Chairman Burr just said, what could the Special Prosecutor`s next move be? And how will Donald Trump and his lawyers deal with the Special Prosecutor?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC SWALWELL, U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: We`re going in the wrong direction, and we are at risk of having a flat earth report come out of the house intelligence committee. If we have a report on the senate side with one set of findings and then a bizarro report out of the House Republican side, I think that helps the Russians perpetuate their narrative that this was just something that was made up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Barbara McQuade, former Federal Prosecutor and Professor of Law at the University of Michigan. She is now an NBC News and MSNBC Legal Contributor. Professor McQuade we just heard Eric Swalwell indicate that there are problems with the House Intelligence Committee Investigation with the recues Chairman suddenly issuing subpoenas without consulting the Democrats. The Senate Intelligence Committee seems to be working much more smoothly. But then, quietly, with no one taking the temperature on a daily basis is the Special Prosecutor, who is unaffected by all of this.
BARBARA MCQUADE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, I`m sure, Robert Mueller -- this is his M.O. quietly about your business, keep your head down. No media is good media, just do your work.
And I so I think the fact that things are quiet is just the way Robert Mueller likes it. I have no doubt he is keeping that team of 16 lawyers very busy around the clock chasing down every lead and getting their arms around this investigation.
O`DONNELL: And what do you make of these reports this week? First there was a report indicating that the Trump legal team has decided to go on the charm offensive with the Special Prosecutor and then you have these advisers outside of the team telling the President, no, no, no, you`ve got to be in an angry Twitter war with the Special Prosecutor. It seems to me that neither one of these approaches will make any difference with real federal prosecutors.
MCQUADE: Yes, I think whenever you`re a high-profile public figure like President Trump, you have to really fight the battle on two fronts. There is the legal battle, of course, and then there`s also the battle that`s being fought in the court of public opinion. And you have to kind of figure out how you want to play that. But with respect to the legal battle, I agree with you. I don`t think any of this is going to matter to Robert Mueller.
He`s going to get what he wants to get one way or another. If you can make witnesses available voluntarily, you can provide requested documents voluntarily, or you can fight Robert Mueller and require him to use subpoenas and litigate them in court. But ultimately he will get what he wants and really will only dictate the pace of the investigation. And I think it`s in the interest of the American people to speed things along. And certainly if you`re Donald Trump and you believe you`ve done nothing wrong and you want that exoneration that he`s been asking for he too should want things to move quickly. And so cooperation would be the best strategy to get there.
O`DONNELL: We have a report in Politico tonight saying that Trump Campaign Adviser Carter Page said he will not testify to the Senate Intelligence Committee. Now this is someone who is available to just about every TV talk show who would invite him on, and he became kind of a stranger and stranger witness for himself on television. Do you think he might be getting legal advice that now is the time to start being quiet?
MCQUADE: It could be you know if Robert Mueller, for example, wants to use him as a witness, and if he wants to cut a deal with Robert Mueller, for example, in exchange for leniency, he would testify against others who have committed more egregious misconduct than he has then he doesn`t want to do anything that might blow that deal by talk to others. So that could be one potential reason he wouldn`t want to be talking to other committees or even the media.
O`DONNELL: Former U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuaid, thank you for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.
MCQUADE: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Tonight`s Last Word is next.
O`DONNELL: Jon Stewart returned to late night TV last night with his friend Stephen Colbert.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON STEWART, COMEDIAN: What the (INAUDIBLE) is wrong with this guy? W hat is wrong? Why would you -- you`ll find out? You`ll find out. A cliffhanger surrounded by military people. You`ll find out.
Will Trump give humanity the rose? Will civilization make it to the fantasy suite? And calm before the storm, is that what he was saying, calm before the storm?
How the (INAUDIBLE)? Calm before the storm? How is all this not the storm? This is all the storm. And what kind of a sociopath would use that terminology while people are still literally cleaning up from storms?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Jon Stewart gets tonight`s last word. The 11th Hour With Brian Williams" is next.
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