Trump talks "calm before the storm" Transcript 10/11/17 The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell

Guests: Gabe Sherman, David Frum, Jason Johnson, David Cay Johnston, George Mitchell, Jim Himes

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: October 11, 2017 Guest: Gabe Sherman, David Frum, Jason Johnson, David Cay Johnston, George Mitchell, Jim Himes

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: Good evening Lawrence.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL,MSNBC HOST: Good evening Rachel. It`s what we call team work here --

MADDOW: Yes --

O`DONNELL: In prime time. And Rachel, I was just watching your coverage of the latest in the Harvey Weinstein thing and this story is now mushrooming and every day, it`s just --

MADDOW: Yes --

O`DONNELL: Moving in directions that you couldn`t even anticipate a couple of days ago and it`s hard to say where it is next week.

MADDOW: Well, just the number of women who are coming forward, you know, hour-by-hour, especially prominent women in the showbiz industry coming forward and saying that it happened to them, too.

When the number -- I mean, we saw this a little bit with the Cosby situation where you had these very brave women who came out at the outset and who made their claims even when people wouldn`t back them up.

And then all of a sudden, critical mass hit. The press coverage hit in a way that made people feel like they could come out and the dam broke.

The dam is breaking still today on this Weinstein story. The number of accusers we have no idea how high it`s going to go, but the question of complicity and who else was involved in this and who else knew about it may have been in a position to stop it, the legal liability here and criminal liability, that is all very much still open.

O`DONNELL: And when you realize this is a 30-year story, you have to wonder --

MADDOW: Yes --

O`DONNELL: What were some of these women thinking when they were watching Anita Hill testify in the Senate about this kind of problem.

What were they thinking later when they watched this Cosby story develop, and then when they watched the "Fox News" story develop.

MADDOW: Yes --

O`DONNELL: Did it start to feel like there is a way to tell this story as they were seeing those other stories told?

MADDOW: Yes, and you know, and fascinated to hear Jodi Kantor; the investigative reporter who broke the story at the "Times" to hear her talk about getting into the story in a way that ended up being sort of bullet- proof for the publishable nature of this story by following the legal record of those settlements within the company, by following the paperwork basically in terms of what women were paid off and what sort of terms they were paid off by and who did that work and who else was involved.

Once you start to put together that track record, if you can get that documentation there, that creates a sense of the scale of the problem that allows you to put those women`s personal stories in a context that`s undeniable for the principles involved.

And that approach to this reporting is groundbreaking and really what happened with "Fox", that`s --


MADDOW: Really what happened with this story and that I think has been a game changer.

O`DONNELL: Yes, they created that template for the way they covered the "Fox News" situation with exactly the same kind of materials --

MADDOW: That`s right --

O`DONNELL: It`s really --

MADDOW: You know, right at the complicity --


MADDOW: That`s right.

O`DONNELL: Thank you Rachel --

MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence --

O`DONNELL: Appreciate it. "I hate everyone in the White House." Now, that is not me talking, I`m quoting. I`m quoting someone and I`m sure I could be quoting millions of anonymous Americans who say that every day.

There are surely many Americans who said that about every White House, but according to record high disapproval of President Trump and the Trump White House, it may be that more people have said that about the Trump White House than any previous White House.

What is historic about this new quote, "I hate everyone in the White House". Is that this is the very first time in history that the person quoted saying that is the president of the United States who lives in the White House.

In a new report in "Vanity Fair", Gabriel Sherman who will join us in just a moment as Rachel just told you reports that several people close to the president say, quote, "that Trump is unstable, losing a step and unraveling."

The article has two sources quoting the president as saying "I hate everyone in the White House. There are few exceptions -- are few exceptions but I hate them."

Gabe Sherman reports "according to two sources with knowledge of the conversation, former Chief Strategist Steve Bannon told Trump that the risk to his presidency wasn`t impeachment but the 25th Amendment; the provision by which a majority of the cabinet can vote to remove the president.

When Bannon mentioned the 25th Amendment, Trump said, `what`s that?`" Joining us now, Gabe Sherman; special correspondent for "Vanity Fair" and Msnbc contributor. David Frum; senior editor for "The Atlantic".

Jason Johnson; politics editor at the and an Msnbc contributor. Also with us, David Cay Johnson; Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who founded the D.C. Report.Org; a nonprofit news organization that covers the Trump administration.

And Gabe, I first -- I think this might have been the first program where the 25th Amendment was discussed this year.

And it seems when I look at -- it`s hard to pinpoint exactly --


O`DONNELL: In your article when the president had that conversation with Bannon, but it feels to me like maybe he missed that night of watching this show --


O`DONNELL: When we explained it very early in his presidency --

SHERMAN: He was too busy clearly watching "Fox News" --


SHERMAN: But you know, Lawrence, where I think we are as I point out in the piece at an inflection point. I think what the sources I spoke to very close to the president told me is that they are concerned about his stability and fitness for office.

I think Bob Corker`s interview with the "New York Times" in which he called the White House, quote "an adult day care" and worried that the president was putting us on a path to World War III gave sources around the president comfort to come forward and talk about what people at the highest levels of the Republican Party are talking about in private.

Which is that this president is erratic, he`s lashing out, his moods are dark, he stays up late at night calling people, people who had spoken to him on the phone say he repeats himself over and over again.

He rambles in conversations, and this is a situation where General Kelly and those in charge of our national security are doing the best that they can to manage the president of the United States.

And I think that is a historic problem that in my political life time and I imagine yours, we have not seen before.

O`DONNELL: There is an extraordinary passage in your article which I want to read word-for-word because nothing like it has ever been written before.

It says one former official even speculated that Kelly and Secretary of Defense James Mattis have discussed what they would do in the event Trump ordered a nuclear first strike. Would they tackle him?

SHERMAN: Yes, and you know, that is a shocking statement. And the context was -- for that quote was I was interviewing a former Trump official, and I said, you know, what is keeping General Kelly in the job?

I mean, everyone around the White House knows that Donald Trump and John Kelly are not getting along, it`s a very contentious relationship.

And this source among others echoed that he`s staying in the job because he is there for national security. And they speculated that because of the president`s mood swings and his penchant to lash out, that General Kelly has speculated, talked about what would they do if the president actually did act on these outbursts?

And, you know, you really have to ask yourself, you physically may need to restrain this man, and now that seem shocking, but at some level, you need to actually boil down what would go down if the president did order a first strike.

O`DONNELL: Everything in your reporting for "Vanity Fair" which everyone really must read confirms what Senator Bob Corker has said about this chaos in the White House and the adult day care situation there.

David Frum, another extraordinary passage here in this article -- in Gabe`s article is when Bannon tells Trump about what he thinks is likely to happen in his first term.

According to a source, Bannon has told people he thinks Trump has only a 30 percent chance of making it through his full term.

David, so that`s what someone who`s been inside the White House with the president thinks of his possible completion of a first term.

DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: Well, Bannon also enjoys the prospect of chaos, of course. But Bannon is at the same time making all of these conditions more likely to befall the president.

I mean, he is out there running or proposing to run primary challengers to Republican senators, that increase the odds that the Republicans are going to lose the Senate.

One of the things that is really strange about President Trump is he doesn`t seem to understand that for better or worse, and you may deplore this, you may welcome it, that the Republicans in Congress are his only shield.

And yet, they are the people with whom he`s most at war.

O`DONNELL: There`s a quote tonight in the "LA Times" that I want to read very carefully that supports what Gabe is reporting.

And it says every time it says Msnbc or Cnn which you know he watches, this is -- whenever it says on these networks, this is the adult, thank God they stopped him, it all gets to him.

And Jason Johnson, that`s talking about when the president`s watching these networks, including Msnbc and we are doing stories about these adults in the White House who are saving us from the chaos that Trump would visit upon us that that really gets to him, that really drives him crazy apparently.

JASON JOHNSON, POLITICS EDITOR, ROOT.COM: Yes, and it doesn`t surprise me, Lawrence, what this brings to mind for me is what President Obama was saying all throughout campaign 26.

And I know that`s the past, but his biggest argument against Trump was this man lacks the temperament and the sort of the mental capacity to do this job.

We don`t just support our president. We won`t just vote for presidents because they`re smart guys and they`ve captured the zeitgeist of the country, we need men and maybe one day women who are mentally and emotionally capable of taking criticism, of learning on the job and being capable of staying focused on the security of this nation above and beyond their petty fights.

And this is gone beyond palace intrigue to a point where Donald Trump is not only an international security risk, he`s a domestic security risk and he might be a governmental security risk. And that`s something that everybody should be concerned about, especially after reading this piece.

O`DONNELL: David Cay Johnston, there`s a line in Gabe`s piece which at this point is just kind of a throw-away line, where the White House responded to the article today, issued a statement saying, "the president`s mood is good."

But we now have a White House press office who must issue statements about the president`s mood and that is a new category of statement to be issued by the White House, we`ve never seen that before.

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, JOURNALIST: Well, this is a White House that, you know, lives in a fantasy world. And what a terrible job to have to go out to the public and try to defend here the things that are coming out about Donald.

There`s an issue, Lawrence, that Gabe`s piece brings to the fore that`s really important. A large number of Americans, principally Republicans, believe that Donald Trump is under siege.

That he is their economic savior and they`ve got to somehow have their eyes opened up to the fact that we have a man in the White House who`s mentally unstable, he`s totally unqualified, he`s a con artist who is in a position where he`s got to deliver the goods and he has no goods to deliver.

And if we don`t successfully get a large number of Republicans to pay attention to what you`re hearing from people like Corker, we`re going to have real trouble with Donald Trump leaving the White House by the 25th Amendment, by impeachment, by anything else, even by election results in 2020.

O`DONNELL: I want to go to the "LA Times" reporting tonight, too, because Gabe, this I say is a supplement to what you`ve been reporting.

It says "allies see signs that Trump is frustrated with Kelly --


O`DONNELL: And increasingly unwilling to be managed even just a little. the person close to the White House said that the two men had engaged in shouting matches in recent days."

SHERMAN: Yes, I mean, that clearly dovetails with everything that I`m hearing, and I reported earlier this week that General Kelly has a plan for when Trump returns to Mar-a-Lago later this month.

That he wants to keep him out of the dining room which people who know, I`ve been to Mar-a-Lago, it`s very difficult. I mean, Trump, that`s his house.

I mean, he believes he can go everywhere in the house. And Kelly does not want Trump to be mingling and getting unsolicited policy advice from guests and members.

Now, this is emblematic of Kelly trying to manage a president who fundamentally does not want to be managed.

O`DONNELL: And David, we have reports tonight that Sean Hannity has sometimes more influence than John Kelly over the president, especially on the matter of immigration.

And after there was a deal struck with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, Sean Hannity apparently talked the president out of that deal.

FRUM: Well, at the same time, the president seems to think that this -- that if he can do a deal -- there are people around the president and his own family who thinks if they can do a deal with the Democrats, that will somehow shut down the Mueller investigation.

And that`s one of the reasons they`re so interested in it, and that won`t happen either, so it`s possible that he may be getting better advice from Sean Hannity than from some of his intimates.

O`DONNELL: And David Cay, you`ve studied Donald Trump longer than any of us, you`ve dealt with him directly, written books about him.

Give us your sense of temperamentally, emotionally, given everything that`s been reported, where you think Donald Trump is tonight in the White House.

JOHNSTON: Well, he`s had this nice meeting tonight in Harrisburg where Sean Hannity was throwing him softballs.

There was some booing as I listened to that broadcast or a portion of it. But Donald is going to be increasingly frustrated by the fact that he`s not -- he knows that he`s not getting the kind of adoration that he totally and completely depends on to fill this empty vessel inside of himself.

And he`s trying to figure out some way to do it, and this concern that`s been coming out about him and nuclear weapons which he said during the campaign, he was going to use nuclear weapons goes to that.

It shows you the leaks that came from the Pentagon tell you that there is deep concern that as Gabe reports in this really good piece in "Vanity Fair", Donald may do something preemptive.

And of course, he has tonight -- he said that it`s his attitude that matters. Well, no, under the constitution, it`s Congress that declares war.

But we should be very worried about his deteriorating, emotional state. It`s not good and safe for anyone in the world so long as Donald Trump has access to the football.

O`DONNELL: And Jason Johnson, it may be hard for people who remember, but when General John Kelly was coming into the White House, one of the things that was going to happen is that the leaking was going to stop.

And the only thing that`s happened to the leaking is it`s gotten better and better and better. And we have even better, stronger leaked reporting by Gabe Sherman and others.

JOHNSON: Oh yes, this is -- this is going from Ketchup bottle to a geyser, like it`s leaking all the time. And it has to.

And Lawrence, the main reason why and the reason that we get these sort of excellent reports as this piece in the "Vanity Fair" is because you have people in the White House who recognize and one of the things that`s been sort of written about him consistently, Donald Trump doesn`t listen in meetings.

He will not sit down and concentrate. He will not focus. The only way that people can somewhat corral his behavior is by leaking, is by getting something that ends up on the air because in those two or three minutes on television that Donald Trump pays attention to, maybe that will somehow corral his behavior.

And it`s a problem when you have a president who won`t listen to his own advisors.

O`DONNELL: Gabe Sherman, extraordinary reporting, thank you very much for joining us tonight, I really appreciate it. David Cay Johnston, thank you for joining us, too, really appreciate it.

Coming up, the Trump meeting that apparently provoked Rex Tillerson to call the president a moron. We now have more details on that meeting.

And Senator George Mitchell; former Majority leader of the United States Senate will join us. Also, President Trump`s interview with Sean Hannity tonight, it just ended.

It was just about as tough as you think it would be, and there was booing of course, the booing was at the mention of the name John McCain.


O`DONNELL: At the very moment that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was in a room at the Pentagon with senior Trump administration officials, apparently calling the president a moron, the president was saying this about that same meeting that he was just in, in that same room with those same officials.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The meeting was great, it was very good meeting. Tremendous people, Pentagon, nothing like it, the job they do, absolutely incredible.


O`DONNELL: There is no reported account of that meeting that calls it a great meeting or even a good meeting. It was the meeting that provoked the Secretary of State to call the president a moron as soon as the president left the room because as Nbc News reported today, "President Donald Trump said he wanted what amounted to a nearly ten-fold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Trump`s comments, the official said came in response to a briefing slide he was shown that charted the steady reduction of U.S. nuclear weapons since the late 1960s."

Now, here`s an example of that chart that the president was shown indicating a peak of about 32,000 nuclear weapons in the late 1960s, down to a low of approximately 4,000 today.

And what you see at the top of that chart is the U.S. government chart. There are the notations of the various treaties that the United States entered into over that period of time that led to the reduction of nuclear weapons in the United States and the Soviet Union and then Russia.

You see salt(ph) one, salt(ph) two, start one, start two. Nbc News reported today that officials briefly explained the legal and practical impediments to a nuclear build-up and how the current military posture is stronger than it was at the height of the build-up.

The July 20th meeting was described as a lengthy and sometimes tense review of worldwide U.S. forces and operations.

It was soon after the meeting broke up that officials who remained behind heard Tillerson say that Trump is a moron.

Some officials in the Pentagon meeting were rattled by the president`s desire for more nuclear weapons.

It`s unclear which portion of the Pentagon briefing prompted Tillerson to call the president a moron. After the meeting broke up and some advisors were gathered around.

Official who attended the two-hour session said it included a number of tense exchanges. Tense exchanges with a president, the Secretary of State apparently regards as a moron?

And that president publicly describes the meeting as great? This may be one of many such meetings that Republican chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee says he has heard about that have led him to this conclusion.


SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: I think Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Mattis and Chief of Staff Kelly are those people that help separate our country from chaos.


O`DONNELL: And this week Senator Bob Corker described the Trump presidency`s chaos as putting us on the path to World War III.

Joining us now, George Mitchell; a former U.S. senator from Maine who was the Senate Majority leader, he was also a (INAUDIBLE) negotiator for President Clinton. Senator, I`ve never seen any conditions like this.

I`ve never heard of meetings like this. You`ve been at this longer than most people I know. You ever in a meeting where somebody referred to a president as a moron?

GEORGE MITCHELL, FORMER UNITED STATES SENATOR: No, and I think it`s most unfortunate. But Lawrence, that segment demonstrated I think rather clearly that we are at a dangerous moment in our history.

The president made many controversial statements during the presidential campaign, many of which he`s since reversed.

NATO was obsolete, now he`s for it. He was going to brand China currency manipulator the first day, he hasn`t done so.

The one statement that concerned me the most which to the best of my knowledge not aware that he`s reversed it.

Is when he said it might be a good thing if South Korea, Japan and Saudi Arabia got a nuclear weapon. To me, that demonstrated the lack of understanding of the history of nuclear weapons.

First how unique they are so vastly different from any weapon that`s ever been devised or used in armed conflict.

But secondly, how the United States has led the world in enacting a regime to restrain the dissemination of nuclear weapons.

That`s been our -- a principle foreign policy objective of the United States for over half century, largely successful.

There are dozens of countries that now have the capacity to build a nuclear weapon. The majority of them have refrained from doing so in reliance upon the United States and the nuclear nonproliferation regime.

We should not be trying to expand the number of nations. We should be trying to contract it and to reduce the number of weapons.

And here we are now with the president about to take a step with respect to Iran that will place us in a perilous situation just as we`re trying to deal with the situation in North Korea.

Unless the Senate shows restraint, the United States will soon be faced in Iran with two terrible choices.

Either to allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon, which will dissolve the nonproliferation regime or go to war to prevent it.

In North Korea, it`s very dangerous. As we all know, given the nature of the regime and the leader there and this bellicose rhetoric back and forth.

These are very dangerous times and my hope is that the president himself will first reverse the statements that I referred to and exercise some restraint.

And if he does not do so that the Senate will do so because it has it in its power to maintain the treaty with Iran.

O`DONNELL: I want to play you what the president said just in the last hour on "Fox News" to Sean Hannity about the Iran deal. And he talks about money in here as if it came out of the American taxpayers pocket. Let`s listen to this.


TRUMP: I think it was one of the most incompetently drawn deals I`ve ever seen. A hundred and fifty billion dollars given, we got nothing, we got nothing.

They got a path to nuclear weapons very quickly. And think of this one, $1.7 billion in cash. This is cash, out of your pocket, what?

You know how many aeroplane loads that must be? Did you ever see a million dollars like a promotion where they have a million dollars and $100 bills, it`s a lot of -- this is $1.7 billion.

You`d almost say who would be authorized to do it? And who are the people that delivered it? You may never see them again, right?


TRUMP: Just plane loads. So this is the worst deal, we got nothing, we got nothing.


O`DONNELL: It`s impossible for me to tell whether he knows he`s lying about the cash coming out of our pockets.

MITCHELL: Well, with respect to the office of the presidency, his statement is a complete misrepresentation of the terms of the agreement.

What we`ve gotten is that as we all know, Iran is in full compliance with the terms of the agreement. They have reduced their stockpile of uranium by 98 percent.

They have rendered an operable and major facility. They`ve reduced the number of operating centrifuges by two-thirds and they`ve submitted to the most intensive inspection regime that ever has existed with respect to such weapons.

And the president himself has twice certified that they are in compliance with the agreement as has the independent agency conducting it.

The agreement is imperfect as are all negotiated agreements. Both sides give something, it would be better if it were permanent, but that was not attainable.

So I think it`s a valuable step forward, and contrary to a statement, it doesn`t put Iran on a path to nuclear weapon. It does just the opposite.

O`DONNELL: Senator Mitchell, thank you very much --

MITCHELL: Thank you, Lawrence --

O`DONNELL: For joining us, I`ve always appreciated it, very honored. Coming up, the president may be losing friends in Washington, but he not -- has not lost his best friend on cable news.

You will see just how tough it got with Sean Hannity`s questions to the president tonight.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But I will say this. I will say this. You have been so great and I`m very proud of you at -- you know, the ratings. You notice i office talk -- okay. Has anyone seen his ratings? What you are doing to your competition is incredible.


TRUMP: Number one and very proud of you and an honor to be on your show. I have to tell you, that Sean


O`DONNELL: And that is just about how rough it got for Donald Trump during his interview with Sean Hannity tonight on Fox News. during President Trump`s interview with Sean Hannity before that large audience waiting for the President`s speech today, mention of Senator John McCain brought boos from that crowd and here`s what happened when Sean Hannity asked a very good question, most important question of the night. What is the calm before the storm?


HANNITY: Calm before the storm, you`re not going to talk about that eater?

TRUMP: No. i don`t talk about it.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Anna Marie Cox, contributor to the New York Times Magazine and the host of the podcast with friends like these and back with us on David Frum and Jason Johnson. And Anna Marie to be fair with Sean Hannity which is not the phrase you hear every night on this show, he actually went at the calm before the storm thing a couple of times and was right on the verge obviously as you saw there of giving up when he said you`re obviously not going to talk about that. And Trump avoided it every time. We don`t know even with Sean Hannity`s best effort what calm before the storm means.

ANNA MARIE COX, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Best effort is if you know we live in an era of low bars. So they`re basically just a ladder on the ground now. But were just stepping over them. So that`s good.

I enjoyed the interview. I`m very curious about who does their makeup. my water proof makeup tends to shed when people do that kind of tongue bath but, you know, theirs seemed to stay on OK so that`s something to consider a sponsor for that. And you know, one thing sort of seriously is as much as I would love a real reporter to ask Trump a real question and to have him, you know, under threat of having his wig taken off have to answer it, sometimes it`s in the really relaxed settings he reveals himself the most.

And you know what we saw a lot of the President. Not too much but what we saw, you know, who he is tonight and much as we always do and he`s a selfish, tumescent sack of lies. And I guess it`s nice to have that confirmed on a daily basis. I hope some day we will be surprised but probably won`t be.

O`DONNELL: And, David Frum, many striking moments in this, including, of course, talk about the NFL. But one of the moments that struck me which is historically one of the strangest turns we have ever seen is Sean Hannity talking about Julian Assange and saying that Julian Assange, he talked to him, he knows the information Julian Assange has and Julian Assange can absolutely prove that Russia had nothing to do with interfering in this election. And if you would just allow him to come back to the country -- it seemed like Sean Hannity trying to broker a pardon with the president for Julian Assange to come to the United States and acquit the President of any possible connection to Russia.

FRUM: Right. Well remember the reason that Julian Assange was in hiding for all those years was not because of a charge under U.S. law but because of rape charges in Sweden. So Fox News is sort of pivoting from saying why doesn`t every Democrat County Commissioner say something about Harvey Weinstein to then saying oh by the way why don`t we have a pardon for our celebrity rapist. But what I was struck by in the President`s answer was how cautious the President was.

I mean Sean Hannity set up the Sean Rich. He didn`t use the name this time, conspiracy theory that Julian Assange and his Russians masters had promoted which is it wasn`t Russian hack that got the DNC cashes and John Podesta`s e-mails. But it was a purported insider. Trump refused to bite on that bait.

He instead said Russia is a fake. Russia -- he gave a lot of nonspecific denials but he did not go down the conspiracy theory path nor repeat praise of Julian Assange who is someone attacking American National Security now for close to a decade.

O`DONNELL: And Jason, the president has a 67 percent disapproval rating for the job he`s supposed to be doing in the Whitehouse. He also has a 58 percent disapproval rating for the other job he`s trying to do, that is NFL commissioner. Latest poll showing that 58 percent do not approve of Donald Trump`s comments and interference with the NFL. Let`s listen to Commissioner Trump tonight on the NFL.


TRUMP: Watch Colin Kaepernick and I thought it was terrible. Then it got bigger and bigger and started mushrooms and frankly the NFL should have suspended him for one game and would have never done it again. They could have suspended him for two games and suspended him if he did it a third time for the season and never have had a problem. But I will tell you, you cannot disrespect our country, our flag, our anthem. You cannot do that.


O`DONNELL: Jason, your reaction?

JASON JOHNSON, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: First off, I find it highly entertaining you have an audience of people saying, you know, clapping and cheering when Trump says you can`t disrespect the flag and booed John McCain, you know, the guy who was a P.O.W. defending our flag and what our country stands for. But I think when`s also really interesting about this, you know, I don`t know what it is about, you know, failed Presidents who want to be commissioners. Remember George Bush wanted to be the baseball commissioner at one point. This is clearly the job that Trump is angling for leaving the Whitehouse early.

But it demonstrates his obsession of things he thinks he can control through narrative and bullying opposed to policy, deal making and negotiation. You would think that a President who`s accomplished as little as Trump accomplished, who is as unpopular as he is, would be talking more about the Iran deal instead of one question, would be talking about how he`s going to work with congress. Instead he wants to focus on football because that`s something he thinks he thinks he can win because given up on being a legislator and running the country.

O`DONNELL: Anna Marie, just for the constitutional record, whenever I hear the President and people like him saying, you cannot disrespect the flag, the United States Supreme Court has held that you can. You can burn it. You can use it for toilet paper.

You can do whatever you want with it. That`s the first amendment allows you to do with it whether you should or not is a matter of opinion. But whether you can is not.

COX: No. it`s not. Also, you don`t have to stand for the national anthem or the pledge of allegiance. When I was a young punk rocker I took great pride in the fact I had that right because I was kind of a little jerk. I probably wouldn`t do that today except I mean except what we found it`s to great effect to these things, right? And we are talking more about the causes that Colin Kaepernick wanted us to talk about than before he started and still we still are.

And I think that these players know that and I predict that it`s really hard to play football without people of color on the field. So I suspect that we`re not going to see any grand ruling about this. I think someone said there would be a up roar in the NFL if this happens and i hope not. As an American, I -- I take as much pride in them protesting to call attention to injustice as seeing my team win. Of course, my team is the Giants so I`m really actually more with the protesters right now.

O`DONNELL: And David Frum, Sean Hannity did stick with the President and pressed him on DACA and after it more than once. Of course this is the subject that apparently Sean Hannity has advised -- successfully advised the President on. And he wanted the know whether the deal with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer on DACA is holding. And clearly, it is not. It is now the new Hannity deal where the President said in order to take care of the 800,000 kids on DACA they`re going to have to build me my wall.

FRUM: I repeated the point of Jason made a few seconds ago which is, look. This is the President`s moment talking to his favorite interviewer in front of a very soft audience of persuadable`s, to build a wider consensus for things he`s going to do. He has a tough week coming up. Next week is Iran deal week where he has to either recertify or decertify the Iran deal.

By all reports he`s planning on doing something kind of complicated which is decertifying and yet not imposing sanctions. You would think that that what you would want to do in an interview like this is explain that policy which is sort of a half way measure and build some consensus among your closest supporters for it.

You might with the same thing with immigration is as you just pointed out, the President is trying to walk a line. He is trying to provide some kind of respite for the 800,000 people who entered under age and toughening other forms of enforcement. You want to build a consensus for that. What he does is sort of bathes in Sean Hannity`s smiles but he does not try to persuade in a way that would be effective in mobilizing public opinion to do what he wants or we think he wants it to do.

O`DONNELL: I want to do one more slice of the interview and it is the most exquisite standalone piece of its own. It needs no introduction. No set-up. It is perfectly clear but the control room has to know I mean it`s the one about the Electoral College.


TRUMP: One other thing I have to say, the Electoral College I never appreciated. I would rather have a popular vote. For me, it`s easier because you go to different states. For me the popular vote is easier.


O`DONNELL: Show of hands -- anyone not speechless at that? Jason Johnson, go ahead. The President who lost the popular vote by a record margin says the popular vote is easier.

JOHNSON: You know, it`s so interesting that he keeps changing the rules. It`s like playing connect four with a 7-year-old. They`re just going to say now it`s connect three and now connect seven depending on what they think they can win with. But this is the thing. This speaks to the fact we are now -- we are literally almost a year away from the election and this President talking about how he won and arguing with people as to whether or not that matters.

The girl is over. She left you at prom. It`s done. Win. Move on and actually run the presidency. And unfortunately, as long as we have a President who is obsessed with cultural issues, obsessed with how he won and not actually managing the government, when he has a coalition of his own party running every single branch, this entire country is in trouble and that`s what I got after seeing this interview.

O`DONNELL: The Trump Presidency has a new motto. For me, the popular vote is easier. Anna Marie Cox, David Frum, Jason Johnson, got to leave it there for tonight. Thank you all for joining us, really appreciate it.

JOHNSON: Thank you,.

FRUM: Thanks.

COX: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, how many Bob Corkers are there in the United States Senate? He says he speaks for most of the Republicans. And also, one Republican in the house who promised to be bold when he ran for Congress now seems to be saying that he cannot be bold or honest because he`s running for re-election.


O`DONNELL: North Carolina Congressman Mark Meadows is the bold leader of what he claims is the most conservative group in the House of Representatives. But that is a disservice to the term conservative and the political history of the term conservative. Mark Meadows is one of the leaders of an extremist group in the House of Representatives that as I say claims to be the ultra conservative group in the House of Representatives and after Republican Senator Bob Corker said that people in the Trump Administration spend most of their days trying to prevent the President from putting us on the path to World War III, Mark Meadows said it`s really easy to be bold when you`re not coming back.

Senator Corker is not running for re-election and that`s why Mark Meadows said he was bold. Mark Meadows ran for the House of Representatives promising to be bold, promising to be honest. You can substitute the word honest for bode. In that Mark Meadows quote because that is what he means. It is really to be honest when you are not coming back.

Mark Meadows was not quite bright enough in that moment to realize what he was saying about himself and what he was saying about Senator Corker. He`s -- he`s not saying what Senator Corker said. He`s not saying what Senator Corker said is wrong. he`s explaining why Senator Corker said it because Senator Corker is not running for re-election. And that may be why Senator Corker has decided to tell the truth about Donald Trump.

And as reports and articles continue to pile up about the President`s instability including tonight`s reporting from Gabe Sherman that even Steven Bannon doesn`t believe that the President will serve out his full term which Republican under all these conditions of chaos, which Republican might be the next one to step forward and be bold? Bob Corker insists that he was speaking for most Republican Senators. How about house members like Mark Meadows?

What are House Republican members really thinking if the President is not going to fill out his first term? There are only two ways to remove him. One is the 25th amendment. The other is impeachment. And Impeachment must begin according to the constitution in our House of Representatives. Congressman Jim Himes joins us next on the question of how many Bob Corkers are there in the House of Representatives.


O`DONNELL: Here is what Paul Ryan said today about the President`s feud with Republican Senator Bob Corker.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I think you should talk it out among yourselves. I think my advice is for these two gentlemen to sit down and talk through their issues. I think that`s the best way to get things done.


O`DONNELL: Their issue according to Bob Corker is nothing less than World War III which Senator Corker says the President is moving us toward with his chaotic and dangerous behavior. Joining us now Congressman Jim Himes a Democrat from Connecticut, a member of the House Intelligence Committee. Congressman Himes, how many bob corker`s on there on the House of Representatives.

REP. JIM HIMES (D), CONNECTICUT: You know Lawrence it`s probably fewer because of course representatives run for office every two years, not every six years the way Senators do. So you know Senators have the room to make statements even if their not retiring like Bob Cocker is. In the House, you know, I would tell you there`s 20 or 30 true believers. These are people usually motivated by the anger, the dark view of immigrants who are with the President as he runs over a cliff.

You know there`s those -- there`s a few House members who pattern with him. You know who they are because they voted against the repeal of the Affordable Care act. And then there are 200 of them who wake up every morning in existential terror with the possibility they will vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act only to hear the President in the Rose Garden say it was a really mean bill. I mean it`s just -- it`s a bizarre sort of carnival up here.

O`DONNELL: There`s a Tweet tonight from senator Ben Sasse saying, Mr. President, are you recanting the oath you took on January 20th to preserve, protect and defend the first amendment? And this is of course after the President has been talking about the news media and how they should be investigated for what they do and what they say. But it also looks like when a Senator is saying are you recanting your oath of office, that`s a Senator moving into grounds that could be used for impeachment.

HIMES: Well, maybe. Maybe, but I mean a Senator who`s speaking from, you know, a real basis. We all take oaths up here to support and defend the constitution. And the President has first of all I`m not sure the President knows what the constitution says. But you know think about it not only has he attacked the press and suggested that press should be suppressed because they`re offering up stories that are comfortable for him.

But he`s attacked judges. You know we have a separation and co-equal branches up here. he`s attacked judges in the judiciary. He`s encouraged police to e -- what were his words? You know don`t be -- feel free to be rough on suspects. I mean you know all -- the last nine months have been a testimony to the President`s unwillingness to acknowledge the rule of law and the importance of the constitution. That`s a Democrat talking, but as you pointed out Ben Sasse, Bob Corker, John McCain. These are Republicans Senators.

O`DONNELL: I want you listen to some - Gabe Sherman one of our guest said at the beginning of the show. He`s been reporting on the chaos inside the Trump Whitehouse. Let`s listen to this.


GABE SHERMAN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: General Kelly has speculated talk about what would they do if the President actually did act on these out bursts, and you really have to ask yourself you physically may need to restrain this man. And that seems shocking, but at some level you need to boil down what would go down if the President did order a first strict.


O`DONNELL: And he had a Trump source saying that they`ve actually discussed do we tackle him. Is that something that worries the republican House of Representatives?

HIMES: You know, that should worry every American. And I think, you know, that quote gets to one of the things we worry about most, which is that that the President is Commander in Chief of the United States Armed Forces. And even our constitution says that war making power resides within my institution the Congress of United States. We go to bed at night I think Democrat and Republicans alike worry that the President may wake up indigestion and decide that he`s going to launch a strike with North Korea or do something unwise with Iran.

So this is not a political thing. This is an American thing. You know we rely on this Commander in Chief to be prudent and thoughtful about how he uses the most powerful military that history has ever known. Now, look, what John Kelly and H.R. McMaster and Secretary Mattis talk about, these are guys who know what combat means, who knows what wars mean, who have seen young men and women die, something the President has not. So I can`t begin to speculate on the conversations they have in the dark of night about what they might or might not do if the President ordered something that would be you know that would be bad for the country and bad for a lot of our people in uniform

O`DONNELL: Congressman Jim Himes, thank you for joining us. Tonight`s Last Word is next.


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