Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: October 16, 2017 Guest: David Jolly, Glenn Thrush, James Fallows, Daniel Dale
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: I`m impressed -- interesting interview that specifically relates to the Russia investigation. I`m a little jealous because I didn`t get the interview, Ari did.
But I`m going -- but I`m impressed and I`m going to be joining Ari, actually, on his show at 6:00 p.m. to talk with him about that big interview.
You should check it out, if you`re not usually watching at 6:00, you should watch tomorrow at 6:00 Eastern. That does it for us tonight, we`ll see you again tomorrow, now it is time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good evening Lawrence.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Oh, Rachel, I would so love to make you jealous with a big get. It`s so hard to do, though, because, of course --
MADDOW: No, you make me jealous all the time, big guy --
O`DONNELL: Oh, once a year, once a year, I get somebody --
MADDOW: That is not true --
O`DONNELL: Who you wanted. Once a year maybe, if I`m lucky.
MADDOW: You are very kind, thank you --
O`DONNELL: Rachel --
MADDOW: My friend --
O`DONNELL: A little cold there? --
MADDOW: Yes --
O`DONNELL: Just a little cold I`m hearing in your voice? --
MADDOW: Did you see me have my coffee fit?
O`DONNELL: You -- I --
MADDOW: At the end, I was like -- I was like 60 percent of the way through the A block and just you know, sometimes you get like a little tickle and you`re like, oh no, I`m going to clear my throat, I`m going to take a little glass of water but this is not going to get better.
And I just had to like throw to commercial and then lay down on the floor and like cough into the rug for four solid minutes and then I came back and finished it after the break.
O`DONNELL: As --
MADDOW: It was quite humiliating --
O`DONNELL: As soon as you hang up the phone on me, the chicken soup is right there.
MADDOW: Yes --
O`DONNELL: It`s right there --
As soon as you step out of that room -- thank you Rachel --
MADDOW: Thank you, dear, thanks Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Well, we know how much President Trump loves to talk about fake news, and so today, he decided to make his own very big contribution to fake news by stepping into the Rose Garden with Mitch McConnell and pretending to be fake friends.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Looked like a hostage video to me today in the Rose Garden.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My relationship with this gentleman is outstanding, has been outstanding.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER, SENATE: We are together totally on this agenda to move America forward.
TRUMP: I have a fantastic relationship with the people in the Senate and with the people in Congress. I mean, I have a -- with House of Representatives.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the exception of a few of Bob Corker, Jeff Flake, John McCain, Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins and you know, Mitch McConnell.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would be helpful is if the president would actually get out of the way and allow the Senate to do its work.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He served out but he may have heard this false claim that President Obama did not call families of fallen soldiers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has no soul. Did we elect the worst person on this planet.
TRUMP: It`s like what we read -- we`re probably now I think -- at least as far as I`m concerned closer than ever before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The president of the United States had a meeting today followed by a press conference that no other president in history has ever had to have.
The majority leader of the Senate had a meeting today followed by a press conference that no other majority leader of the United States Senate has ever had to have in the history of the Senate.
The president and the Senate Majority leader are both in the same political party. But they had to have a meeting today followed by a press conference to try to prove that they don`t hate each other.
And I mean, hate each other with every fiber of their being. But we know that Donald Trump has given Mitch McConnell more reason to hate him than any president has ever given a Senate Majority Leader and we know that Donald Trump uses Twitter as a tool of his hatred and that no president has ever launched public attacks on the Senate Majority leader of his own party, until now.
"Can you believe that Mitch McConnell who has screamed repeal and replace for seven years couldn`t get it done? Must repeal and replace Obamacare!
And of course, the only problem I have with Mitch McConnell is that after hearing repeal and replace for seven years he failed.
That should never have happened!" Here is the first lie of many lies that President Trump told in the Rose Garden today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I just want to say that we just spent quite a bit of time inside with the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who`s been a friend of mine for a long time.
Long before my world at politics, early into his world of politics, I think. But we`ve been friends for a long time. We are probably now despite what we read, we`re probably now I think at least as far as I`m concerned closer than ever before and the relationship is very good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Closer than ever before. This was an emergency meeting at the White House today. It was an emergency meeting of a political party in crisis.
A crisis of chaos. It was an emergency meeting to tell that lie that you just heard that Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump are friends. Never been close.
Because this weekend, Steve Bannon who went from running a right-wing hate- driven website to the Trump campaign, to the Trump White House, and is now back at that website said that he will oppose any Republican senator`s re- election if that senator does not attack Republican Senator Bob Corker, pledge to support the elimination of filibusters in the Senate, and pledge to vote against Mitch McConnell for Majority leader.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: All of you folks that are so concerned that you`re going to get primaried and defeated, you know, there`s time for mea culpa, you can come to a stick and condemn Senator Corker.
And you can come to a stick, a microphone and you can say, I am not going to vote for Mitch McConnell for Majority leader.
And you can come to a stick and you can say I`m going to do away with the filibuster so the president can implement his program.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: You have never seen that before. This is the worst chaos that has ever existed in modern political parties. Will Rogers once famously said "I am not a member of any organized political party, I am a Democrat."
And it is true that for most of the 20th century, the Republican Party was more disciplined than the Democratic Party. The first time an incumbent president was challenged for re-nomination within his own party, it was a Democrat who did that.
Eugene McCarthy ran against his old friend President Lyndon Johnson for the 1968 Democratic nomination, but Gene McCarthy had one rule when he started that campaign.
He would not attack the president personally. No one has ever quit working in a senior advisory role in a Democratic White House and then instantly begun attacking the Democratic leader of the Senate or the Democratic leader of the House of Representatives.
We have never seen this kind of open, public chaos in a political party, and anyone who tries to compare any of the stresses within the Democratic Party to what`s happening within the Republican Party now is just wrong.
Totally and wildly wrong. There is no comparison. There has never been chaos like this in a political party because Donald Trump has never been the highest ranking member of a political party until now.
This is Trumpian chaos that you are watching. Mitch McConnell has served 32 years in the United States Senate. One-third of that time as the Republican leader in the Senate and this is his first year of chaos in the United States Senate.
There are some Democrats in the Senate who have vehemently opposed everything that Mitch McConnell has ever tried to do in the Senate, but all of those Democrats recognize that Mitch McConnell is a careful and deliberate and formidable Senate strategist.
And those Democrats know that no Republican leader of the Senate has ever bent and contorted the rules of the Senate to favor the Republicans more than Mitch McConnell has, including Mitch McConnell`s decision to refuse to allow President Obama`s Supreme Court nominee to get even a vote in the Senate, not even a vote in a committee.
A completely unprecedented partisan move against both Senate tradition and the constitutional intent of the Senate confirmation process.
There has never been a more sharply partisan Republican leader of the Senate than Mitch McConnell to believe that Mitch McConnell is the Republicans biggest problem in the Senate requires that you understand absolutely nothing about the United States Senate or the politics of governing.
Enter Donald Trump and Steve Bannon who understand nothing about the Senate, who understand nothing about the politics of governing.
And so, the Democrats cannot believe their luck tonight. Senate Democrats thought it was their job to fight Mitch McConnell every day and that is their job legislatively in the United States Senate.
And most of them do that without ever launching personal attacks on Mitch McConnell. And now the Democrats are watching the most vicious personal attacks that have ever been launched on a Senate Majority leader an they are coming from the leader`s own party.
They are coming from a former Trump campaign official, a former Trump White House official and while Donald Trump is asked about those attacks today, he does not offer one word of defense of his fake friend Mitch McConnell.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, do you approve of Steve Bannon`s war on Mitch McConnell and the Republican establishment?
TRUMP: Well, Steve is very committed, he`s a friend of mine and he`s very committed to getting things passed. I mean, look, I have -- you know, despite what the press writes, I have great relationships with actually many senators, but in particular, with most Republican senators.
But we`re not getting the job done, and I`m not going to blame myself, I`ll be honest. They are not getting the job done. We`ve had healthcare approved, and then you had a surprise vote by John McCain.
We`ve had other things happen and they`re not getting the job done, and I can understand where Steve Bannon is coming from.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was this morning before the president`s lunch with Mitch McConnell. I can understand where Steve Bannon is coming from.
That`s what the president had to say about the Steve Bannon war on Mitch McConnell. The question was about Steve Bannon`s war on Mitch McConnell.
President Trump didn`t say I can understand where Mitch McConnell is coming from. He said, I can understand where Steve Bannon is coming from.
The president said that in the cabinet room at a meeting of the cabinet this morning. The only cabinet in history with the member who is reported to have called the president a moron.
And who for weeks now has steadfastly refused to deny that he called the president a moron. Rex Tillerson is making sure that the moron story never dies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: As I indicated earlier, when I was asked about that, I`m not going to deal with that kind of petty stuff.
I mean, this is a town that seems to relish gossip, rumor, innuendo and they feed on it. They feed on one another in a very destructive way.
I don`t work that way, deal that way and I`m just not going to dignify the question. I`m not playing. These are the games of Washington. I`m not dignifying the question with an answer.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The question which should have been in there was, did you call the president a moron? Jake Tapper asked that question yesterday on "Cnn", every time the Secretary of State refuses to deny that he called the president a moron, he is publicly calling the president a moron and he knows it.
And it will be incumbent now on every interviewer of Rex Tillerson to continue to ask him if he called the president a moron before, of course, moving on to the more important issues of what`s going to happen next with North Korea and Iran.
The moron story just might live in the Trump presidency forever and Rex Tillerson just might be able to keep the moron story alive forever.
And Rex Tillerson has every personal incentive to do that because one of the features of the chaos presidency is that the president has publicly attacked his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
And publicly egged him on to resign. As the president did with his attorney general who was also at that cabinet meeting today.
Legislating is hard. It is almost indescribably hard, it is the hardest thing that Donald Trump has ever been involved in in his life.
The complexity of the interaction of the congressional committees, the sequencing of the votes in the House, in the Senate, the budget factors, the budget rules, the compromising that adds votes to a bill and usually that kind of stuff usually takes most of a year, for big legislation.
And is an all-consuming passion for everyone seriously involved in that legislative endeavor. As say, President Obama was in the passage of Obamacare.
Everything that can go wrong will go wrong in this kind of legislation. And it is the job of everyone involved to try to make sure that nothing goes wrong.
And if there`s a moron in the mix at the highest level, then everyone knows who to blame when things do go wrong.
Steve Bannon knows who the moron is. Steve Bannon knows who is to blame for the zero legislative accomplishments of the Trump administration.
But Steve Bannon has chosen to blame Mitch McConnell. Senator Lindsey Graham knows what this kind of chaos means for the Republican Party.
Everyone loses. Everyone. Very much including Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Steve Bannon has said that Republicans should go to war against Mitch McConnell, that all you all should get rid of him and that should be the Republican rallying.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Mitch McConnell is not our problem. Our problem is that we promised to repeal and replace Obamacare and we failed.
We promised to cut taxes and we`re yet to do it. If we`re successful, Mitch McConnell`s fine, if we`re not, we`re all in trouble. We lose our majority and I think President Trump will not get re-elected.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Glenn Thrush; White House correspondent for the "New York Times" and an Msnbc contributor.
And David Jolly; former Republican Congressman of Florida. David, your party is in a mess unlike anything we`ve ever seen before and the one new factor in everything that`s messed up is the Trump factor and the Bannon factor.
DAVID JOLLY, FORMER REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN: That`s it, and you nailed it in the open, Lawrence. Listen, this was a press conference today that under normal circumstances wouldn`t have been newsworthy.
You had a president and a Majority leader speaking about party unity. The president reiterated the economy is growing, the stock market is up.
They mentioned their agenda. And Mitch McConnell rightfully pointed out that Dodd-Frank and Obamacare took two years.
But to believe that requires a suspension of belief because the real reality and the Trump chaos world is this is not a unified party when he continues to throw GOP senators under the bus.
The real reality is the economy is not doing well if you`re in the middle class facing rising health care premiums and a tax cut package that benefits the rich.
And the real reality is we have a president that cannot articulate a discernible legislative agenda because he doesn`t understand policy, and that is the chaos that he`s created and is why the party has no idea where to go with this president.
He has created this situation himself.
O`DONNELL: And Glenn, the parties -- the congressional parties in the re- election campaigns, sometimes struggle to make this a run against the leadership of the party, as opposed your local congressman.
They did it in the 1980s with Tip O`Neill, they put a character in some of the Republican congressional campaign ads that was this big guy with white hair who kind of looked like Tip O`Neill, trying to say that, you know, this guy is the problem.
You got to get rid of your local congressman to get rid of this guy`s power. They do it with Nancy Pelosi in recent campaigns.
It`s never really successfully been done with a Senate Majority leader and a little bit on Harry Reid, but never really successful.
And here we see the Republicans, the Republicans trying to raise the Republican Senate Majority leader to be this target of hatred in our politics.
The Democrats couldn`t do this if they tried.
GLENN THRUSH, NEW YORK TIMES WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Lawrence, you know, you said this is unprecedented. There is a precedent, and the precedent is John Boehner and the precedent is Eric Cantor.
This is -- they are looking for essentially what amount to a repeat of what happened in the House. Look, Steve Bannon is on the outside of government because he wasn`t particularly effective on the inside of government.
He`ll tell you that himself. What he does talk about, however, when you ask him for his creation myth, how it is that he became a powerful player on the national stage, he talks about Dave Brat`s race in Richmond and Culpeper; unseating Eric Cantor.
They are essentially trying to do this in the Senate. This is -- this is not a -- this is not a new story line from Bannon. What is interesting, however, is that their attention has shifted from Paul Ryan.
Remember, "Breitbart" and the entire Bannon-ocracy were going after Paul Ryan. Paul Ryan was the simple of the party in decline. But because Trump has targeted Ryan and has targeted McConnell -- and by the way, the most important thing that Donald Trump said today, the thing that we need to remember is, "I don`t blame myself."
That is manifesting apparent --
O`DONNELL: Yes --
THRUSH: But he ought to blame himself because most of these problems including the three Obamacare fails on Capitol Hill are directly attributable to the president`s lack of involvement and knowledge in the topic.
And blame Mitch McConnell, he certainly bears some of the blame here. But the president`s own failing and his insistence on appointing people on his staff who weren`t able to execute this or to come up with a compromise that was going to get the votes necessary, you know, that is laid at his feet.
So what does this president do? What is he good at? Whenever he`s occupying the stage by himself, Lawrence, he has a problem.
He needs an enemy, he needs an opponent and Mitch McConnell, the man smiling very uncomfortably next to him in the Rose Garden today is at the moment that target.
O`DONNELL: Well --
THRUSH: Yes --
O`DONNELL: You know, you mentioned this shift from Paul Ryan, it`s fascinating one to watch. Let`s watch what Paul Ryan said today when he was asked about what his biggest obstacle is these days. Let`s listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is your biggest obstacle to getting tax reform passed?
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER, UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Well, you ever heard of the United States Senate before?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: David Jolly, Mitch McConnell can`t be happy with that.
JOLLY: No, and look, there`s always been a divide at least in recent history between the chambers. But to Glenn`s point and to yours, Lawrence, listen, the Republican Party has never really recovered and found their footing from the emergence of the tea party, from the emergence of the likes of Sarah Palin has now manifested in the likes of Steve Bannon and Donald Trump.
What is different now is that we have a president who is known to be unstable. We have a president who is known to be risky when it comes to matters of national security.
So what was kind of this emerging rebellion within the Republican Party and one that -- the likes of John Boehner and Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell could never figure out, they still haven`t figured it out but now it has real life consequences and potentially very dangerous consequences.
And so I will be honest with you, Lawrence, I personally as a Republican in the past few weeks have wondered is the republic safe or if Democrats take over the House in 2018.
I raise that issue with the leading Republican in D.D. last week, and the remarkable thing is he had been thinking exactly the same thing.
This is a president that needs a greater check on his power than Republicans in Congress have offered.
O`DONNELL: David, I just have to -- we do have to go to a commercial, but I have double up on your line, what you just said because I haven`t heard anything like that --
JOLLY: Right --
O`DONNELL: From a Republican before now. You`re saying that for the safety of the country that we may be better off, you -- there are Republicans like you who are thinking the Democrats should be in control of Congress?
JOLLY: Look at this in real-time, there`s no discernible Republican ideological agenda that is worth fighting for right now. But we do know that we have a president who very well might put this nation at risk and this Republican Congress has done nothing to check his power.
Democrats could and we might be better off as a republic if they take the House in 2018.
O`DONNELL: David Jolly, thank you very much for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.
JOLLY: Good to be with you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, no former White House official has called a president a deranged animal until today. And in a striking speech tonight, John McCain really went after Steve Bannon`s half-baked nationalism and Trumpism.
We will show you the video.
O`DONNELL: The last 12 days, the president has made several comments about National Football League, Harvey Weinstein, the stock market, Hillary Clinton, the electoral college without ever saying a word or tweeting a word about staff Sergeant Brian Black, staff Sergeant Jeremiah Johnson, Dustin Wright and Sergeant La David Johnson who were killed in the line of duty in Niger.
Not one word. And today the president claimed that he has written letters to the families of those soldiers and then said he wasn`t sure if those letters would be sent today or tomorrow.
Now, America has every right to believe the president was lying about those letters because he lied about a lot of things today in the Rose Garden and there is no reason why those letters wouldn`t be sent immediately after they were written.
The president might know that while he`s been busy tweeting about football, he has not actually signed letters to the families of those soldiers.
He might know that and that might be why he said he wasn`t sure when those letters were being sent. There was the usual stream of lies as the president spoke today in the Rose Garden.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You look at other countries, what they`ve done and we`re competing with other countries. When China is at 15 percent, when I hear that Ireland is going to be reducing their corporate rates down to 8 percent from 12 percent, but you have other countries also reducing, we can`t be at 35 percent and think we`re going to remain competitive in terms of companies and in terms of jobs.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: I hear that Ireland is not reducing its corporate tax rate. Ireland`s corporate tax rate is at 12.5 percent.
The Irish Finance Minister said last week that that rate will not be reduced. That`s what we heard Ireland say last week.
China`s corporate tax rate is 25 percent, not the 15 percent that the president just lied about. And before the Rose Garden today, the president said this in the cabinet room.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Obamacare is finished. It`s dead, it`s gone. It`s no longer -- you shouldn`t even mention, it`s gone. There is no such thing as Obamacare anymore.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And he wonders why at least one of the cabinet members in that room today listening to that has reportedly called him a moron.
Joining us now is James Fallows; Europe editor for "The Atlantic" and a former speechwriter for President Jimmy Carter.
Also joining us is Daniel Dale; Washington correspondent for "The Toronto Star". And Jim, having worked in a White House, I can only imagine what it feels like to you to watch a president in these rooms, in the cabinet room and the Rose Garden with this just relentless stream of lies about anything.
JAMES FALLOWS, EUROPE EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: As you know, in normal circumstances, everything that comes out of the president`s mouth is so hyper-checked because idea that he will make a factual mistake is something that everybody takes very seriously.
And then there`s this other business about the soldiers in Niger. Again, as you know, there`s nothing that presidents regardless of party take as more just a grave obligation as the troops who are fighting and dying under their command.
So Republican or Democrat, every previous president has been in touch with those soldiers as casualties and their families right away.
O`DONNELL: And when he said today that President Obama never made any calls about this, he immediately got a tweet from an Obama staffer saying that that was an absolute lie.
FALLOWS: And it`s a lie of the gravest sort for somebody who bears this commander-in-chief responsibility.
Again, you can agree or disagree with the politics of any president, but all the ones I`ve seen and known about, they take this really deep in their hearts, and he`s just kind of -- he`s just lying about it --
O`DONNELL: Yes, cavalierly lying about it. And let`s listen to Daniel, I know you`ve been reporting extensively on Puerto Rico and I want to listen to something that the president said about Puerto Rico today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Their electrical grid was destroyed before the hurricanes got there, that was in very bad shape, it was not working.
It was in bankruptcy, now owed $9 billion. And then on top of that, the hurricane came. Now, you`re going to have to build a whole new electrical plant system.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Daniel, your reaction to that?
DANIEL DALE, TORONTO STAR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: This is the third time in less than two weeks that Trump has claimed that the government was going to have to rebuild the power plants in Puerto Rico.
In the past two instances, he`s claimed that the plants were wiped out, destroyed. In fact, the plants were barely touched, they were barely damaged, the problem is with the rest of the grid.
And so, this is the kind of daily dishonesty that we get from Trump that only occasionally treated as a story.
You know, we got headlines today about a Trump lie because his lie about Obama supposedly not calling military families -- what`s sufficiently new and sufficiently ghastly to merit headlines in the eyes of much of the media.
But what we`re seeing is a daily avalanche of dishonesty. Now, I`ve been counting since he took office. He`s had 40 inaccurate things. Two weeks ago, he said 34 inaccurate things last week.
And these things are only occasionally talked about. His dishonesty is treated as kind of a sideshow to his presidency when I think it is a central story of the presidency that I think a lot of people and a lot of the press have unfortunately become kind of immune to.
O`DONNELL: Daniel makes such a good point that there`s the one big lie that came out --
FALLOWS: Yes --
O`DONNELL: Of the Rose Garden today about President Obama. And I do want to just read this tweet that Alyssa Mastromonaco wrote -- she worked in the -- she was deputy chief of staff in the Obama White House after the President Trump lied about President Obama not calling and reaching out to the soldiers` families killed in action.
She said "that`s an f-ing lie to say President Obama or past presidents didn`t call the family members of soldiers killed in action. He`s a deranged animal. And Jim the reason I wanted to read that is that that is not the way former Whitehouse officials like yourselves and others talk. They have to be driven to that by something extreme.
JAMES FALLOWS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Exactly and yes. This connects to something that David Jolly was saying in the previous segment, that the Republicans in Congress are the ones who have the power to do something about this. So we see these two conflicting trends. On the one hand, former Obama aides, people like the Secretary of State being driven to say this is abnormal. And the Congress still being unwilling to act. So when that tension resolves itself, what future depends on.
O`DONNELL: You know Daniel, when I was watching the Rose Garden today, I thought the only way to cover this is literally with the list of lies. As well as the important thing going on there, which was this fake friends meeting with Mitch McConnell. And that means for me leaving out all of the stuff about the NFL, just a bunch of stuff that was said in the Rose Garden today because that -- that actually starts to camouflage and get in the way of a clear view of just how many rank lies this man told in the Rose Garden today.
DANIEL DALE, MSNBC CONTROBUTOR: Yeah. I could not agree more. I think the way for journalists to approach this President is to come armed with facts that the good thing if you will about Trump`s lying is that he tells the same lies over and over. It`s not these are unpredictable. And I think something interesting happened today.
He was challenged on the claim of Obama. NBC`s own Peter Alexander said how can you make that claim? And what was fascinating to me was that Trump immediately backed down. He said, well, I don`t know. He probably did sometimes.
We also saw that in a Forbes interview recently where Trump claimed, you know, no one has hit 3 percent GDP growth in a quarter. Obama never hit that. The Forbes journalist said Obama hit that in several quarters and Trump again immediately backed off it. So I think what these two instances sort of back to back show is that this lying doesn`t have to stand.
We in the media can call him on it and that can achieve something. I think journalists have been too passive and too complacent about this lying that again I think is a defining feature of this presidency and needs to be treated as such.
O`DONNELL: Yes, Peter Alexander did a great job. You see Trump goes to the thing of, well, people tell me. That was the response when Peter challenged him on the crazy assertion of President Obama.
FALLOWS: And his experience so far is it doesn`t matter. You know during the campaign, he was just saying lies several times an hour. You know the NFL told me the debate schedule was wrong. The NFL says, no, we didn`t. And so, the question is whether it starts to add up. There`s the potential that this (INAUDIBLE) soldier and Obama comment might be something that begin moving.
O`DONNELL: And within all this, there`s the outrageous story that the President simply ignored these soldiers killed in action for these 12 days. He has just publicly ignored them. And, Daniel, that is getting kind of lost within this coverage that has emerged from what happened today in the Rose Garden.
DALE: Yes. I think one thing that`s interesting about Trump is that by virtue of the outrageousness and often dishonesty, he brings attention to things that make him look bad. You know there`s this kind of distraction theory. Trump is this master puppeteer whose taking our attention away from things that make it him look bad. And I think in many cases he actually drives attention to it so people might not have heard anything about these soldiers or very little. And now Trump created an absurd controversy with virtue of the dishonesty and people Googling the soldiers` names. So if there`s a benefit to the dishonesty it is that.
O`DONNELL: Daniel Dale, thank you very much for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.
DALE: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, President Trump met with the group today. The group that has power to remove him from office. The most important group in his life. They have the power to remove him much faster than the impeachment process and he was very, very nice to them. And Senator John McCain tonight goes after Steve Bannon and Trumpism in an important speech. We will show you that.
O`DONNELL: Breaking news, harsh criticism tonight from Arizona Republican Senator John McCain for President Trump`s Foreign Policy and for Steve Bannon`s nationalism. Here`s what the Senator said just a few hours ago when he accepted the Liberty Medal in Philadelphia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN MCCAIN, UNITED STATES SENATOR: To fear the world we have organized and led the three quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain the last best hope of earth, for the sake of some half-baked spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history. We live in a land made of ideals. Not blood and soil.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Glenn Thrush and James Fallows is back with us. And Glenn this is a direct response to Steve Bannon talking about senators like McCain not being on board with Trumpism and with Bannonism. And there`s John McCain calling the Bannon approach unpatriotic.
GLENN THRUSH, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, first of all, let`s just talk about the visuals of that particular moment. This is a man who gave his health and very nearly his life for his country and he is in -- I don`t think I`m breaking any news here, in the final moments of his life. And this is what he`s choosing to speak up on so I think whatever you think of John McCain, what he has said in the past and what he`s saying right now, he has no ulterior motive.
He doesn`t have a political future. He`s speaking directly to what he believes to be the posterity of this country. So I have to say, Lawrence, apart from the content of what he said, I am profoundly moved by his courage in using the twilight of his days to participate in the political arena and an inspiration to all of us. That said, I think he is clearly speaking to an element of this populism that his wing of the party and John McCain`s a very conservative Republican. He is not someone who has traditionally been on the left fringe of his party.
I think the challenge that he has articulated precisely what you`ve been speaking in all of your prior segments. This cleavage in the middle of the Republican Party from a traditional Republican stance to this new nationalist stance, how these two halves reconcile themselves, I don`t know. You don`t know. And it seems like John McCain doesn`t know either.
O`DONNELL: Yes. It was a bipartisan note there tonight, Jim. Joe Biden on the stage with him and his last line there when he said, we live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil. That is a direct reference to what the people in Charlottesville with those torches talking about blood and soil as they were marching along there, people who Donald Trump said were nice people.
FALLOWSL Certainly. It`s a. phrase from 1930s Germany as you know. And I thought it was significant what John McCain spoke for and what he spoke against. He was speaking for the international architecture of alliances, of guarantees of trying to increase security and increase prosperity, the very things that Trump has sort of dismissed as being for suckers and he was against this nationalism of blood and soil. So I thought very much I agree with Glenn Thrush. It was moving in the sort of human nature of it and intellectual content.
O`DONNELL: And Glenn it`s an interesting challenge that Steve Bannon has in his hatred for John McCain and the President`s antagonism towards John McCain because as you say, here`s a man diagnosed with brain cancer, Here`s a man who has has a pretty good idea of how much time he has left, and to go after him, the way they have continued the go after him, is one of the ugliest things that I think we have seen in Washington history.
THRUSH: And it`s definitional. I mean, if you are mocking people for their physical deformities as certain members of this movement have, and I will say this about Steve Bannon. I have not -- I have not personally seen or heard anything about Steve Bannon mocking people for their deformities or experiences. But I think what Mr. Fallows said is absolutely right. He is rejecting this notion that we have seen endorsed by the Whitehouse of this equivalence between the blood and soil nationalists who are chanting anti-Semitic and racist comments and the mainstream of his party.
Remember, John McCain comes from Goldwater, Arizona. He came from an iteration of conservatism that`s revolutionary in his time. And what he is saying to his party is that that strain of conservatism, which, by the way, raised alarm bells back in the 1960s is a truer and more patriotic train than the brand he is seeing now. I think Republicans whether or not they agree with him would do very well to heeding his message.
O`DONNELL: And Jim, John McCain who has tried to work on immigration reform in the past, talked about that this need for some people to try to find scapegoats rather than solve problems.
FALLOWS: Which is a continuity hit in the career when he came back from Vietnam as a P.O.W. he was an early leader trying to reconcile divisions in the United States and Vietnam and the United States. And so I think again is significant. Senator Corker not running again has taken a stand. John McCain facing mortality has taken the stand. The question is what it will take for other Republicans to be able to speak the two men have.
O`DONNELL: And what does it mean coming down to votes in the senate? That`s something we still don`t know. James Fallows and Glenn Thrush, thank you both for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.
FALLOWS: Thank you.
THRUSH: Thank you Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, President Trump met with the group today who have the power to remove him from office and can do it very, very quickly with the 25th amendment. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: Today the President met with the people who can remove him from office faster than the impeachment process.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: We have a cabinet that there are those that are saying it`s one of the finest group of people ever assembled as a cabinet and I happen to agree with that. Of course, I should agree with that. But I think we have an extraordinary group of people around this table. This is a tremendous amount of talent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: It was reported last week that Steve Bannon explain to the President the 25th amendment was the most likely way for the President to be removed from office whereupon the President said, what`s that? President had no idea what the 25th amendment is.
The 25th amendment can be invoked by the Vice President with the agreement of a majority of the cabinet to remove a President. I first described the workings of the 25th amendment on this program at the end of the first month of the Trump Presidency when it became apparent that the President`s fitness for office was to put it mildly in doubt and since then, the discussion has only grown and has now been joined by a group of psychiatrist and mental health professionals who have created a group called Duty to Warn.
They insist that the President is unfit to serve and that their professional duty to warn outweighs the profession`s traditional ban on diagnosing mental mental health conditions of any person publicly. Up next, we`ll be joined by John Gartner who is one of the contributors to the new best selling book the Dangerous case of Donald Trump. 27 psychiatrists and mental health experts assess a President.
O`DONNELL: Psychologist John Gartner told the New Yorker that he wants his group, duty to warn, to be the -- to be to the 25th amendment what the NRA is to the 2nd amendment. Joining us now is John Gartner. I wanted to hold up or just read this opening, the sort of the chapter title right here of your entry in this new book, the dangerous case of Donald Trump. And it begins -- you begin your section of the book by saying, Donald Trump is "a, bad, b, mad, and c, all of the above. And it turns out a close reading of your work indicates it`s c, all of the above.
JOHN GARTNER, PSYCHOLOGIST: Correct.
O`DONNELL: expand on that.
GARTNER: Well, people have made it sound as if it`s a forced choice, but actually, the nature of the disorder he has, malignant narcissism, Eric Frum called it the quintessence of evil. It`s narcissim combined with paranoia and anti social features, sadism and paranoia.
And so these are people who actually get pleasure from harming other people who are detached from reality because they see themselves as being victims when they, in fact, are being aggressive. They see conspiracy theories everywhere. And they really have no conscience. So they are dangerous. And right now I think we are facing the greatest psychiatric emergency in the history of America.
O`DONNELL: There`s a report as you speak coming out on Politico tonight, It`s just coming out in the last few minutes saying, the lead of it says Friends say President Donald Trump has grown frustrated that his greatness is not widely understood. What does that tell you?
GARTNER: Well, this is someone who really has grandiose delusions and persecutory delusions so thinking that he knows more about everything than everyone. That he doesn`t have to listen to anyone.
And as a result, he`s really dangerous because this idea that, you know, Mattis, Tillerson are somehow going to restrain him is completely a fantasy. He will not be constrained by anyone. And in fact, in the reason the paper, he`s an adult daycare he says I`m going to show you. I`m going to do what I want.
And that`s why he says his attitude is the only one that matters when it comes to nuclear weapons and why it`s so important we pass a bill that says Congress must approve the use of nuclear weapons, because frankly, I think the odds of his not push the button are extremely low.
O`DONNELL: The 25th amendment requires that a majority of the cabinet find that the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office and they -- the amendment sets absolutely no standards for what that is. So it could be mental health, it could be anything else.
GARTNER: Well, this is why, actually, we are supporting Jamie Raskin`s house resolution 1957 which would establish a nonpartisan commission of doctors and psychiatrists who could objectively evaluate the President in the case of an emergency.
O`DONNELL: Psychologist John Gartner, thank you very much for joining us tonight. really appreciate it.
GARTNER: Thank you for having me.
O`DONNELL: Tonight`s Last Word is next.
O`DONNELL: Joe Biden presented the liberty medal to John McCain tonight in Philadelphia and John McCain said this about Joe Biden.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCAIN: we served in the senate together for over 20 years during some eventful times.as we passed from young men to the fossils who appear before you this evening. We didn`t always agree on the issues. We often argued, sometimes passionately. But we believed in each other`s patriotism and the sincerity of each other`s convictions. We believed in the institution we were privileged to serve in. We believed in our mutual responsibility to help make the place work.
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