Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O'DONNELL Date: November 1, 2017 Guest: George F. Will
LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
And at this hour last night, I was predicting -- it doesn't feel like a prediction, that Sam Clovis' nomination for undersecretary of agriculture will, of course, be withdrawn, probably when the president's plane is somewhere over the Pacific.
And so, one of the reasons is that now that we know he's part of the special prosecutor's investigation, now that his e-mails have been revealed in the special prosecutor's documents and that he is cooperating with the special prosecutor, one of the things I said was that, of course, Senator Stabenow, the top Democrat on the agriculture committee, her staff would be writing questions starting last night about.
And so, Senator Stabenow sent this letter to Sam Clovis today with these questions. One of the questions is exactly what we assumed it would be last night. It is: it has been reported that you have been contacted and interviewed by the special counsel as part of its investigation. Is this true?
O'DONNELL: If so, if so, have you cooperated with these inquiries?
How's that for question one of a confirmation hearing?
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, TRMS: Yes, if he goes to the hearing, imagine him sitting there getting the follow-up question, which is going to be: did you receive immunity for your testimony because if he really did speak to the grand jury, which, of course, he did and we know that his documents, his e-mails have come up in the guilty plea of another Trump campaign official, obviously, the question of immunity has been raised around Sam Clovis' cooperation and testimony.
The idea that you confirm him to a senior administration position while he's getting immunity potentially for his testimony in a criminal matter in a counterintelligence matter, yes. It doesn't feel like much of a prediction to fall apart but I think you predicted it correctly.
O'DONNELL: And the position he's been nominated for is generally referred to as the chief scientist of the Agriculture Department. So, all those science questions that the Democrats on the Agriculture Committee had, they've all been thrown away. But it's for the hearing that's never going to happen, right? We're not going to get that lucky.
MADDOW: You know, the Trump administration is on the hook for having named a talk show host to be the top scientist in the Agriculture Department. I'm a former talk show host. I believe it's a kind of science. But I wouldn't expect to be nominated to that kind of job myself.
Yes. This is -- this started off as a mess and it's getting worse.
O'DONNELL: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O'DONNELL: Well, today, President Trump met with his cabinet and as he looked around the room, he was looking at the group who Steve Bannon is telling friends might vote to remove him from office using the 25th Amendment. That's according to a new report.
And, John Kelly, the question for John Kelly tonight is, has he lost the benefit of the doubt about what he meant when he called Congresswoman Wilson an empty barrel and what he meant when he called Robert E. Lee an honorable man?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This investigation poses an existential threat to the Trump presidency.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His top staff, quote, on edge amidst worries that Mueller's work isn't done.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The special counsel is saying to all of the potential witnesses, the train is leaving. Now is the time to follow Papadopoulos and cooperate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Paul Manafort is facing 15 years in prison and to the extent he knows anything that's incriminating to this White House, that's a scary prospect.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is distracting to the president, as it would be to any citizen to be investigated.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He claims he's not under investigation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The hallmarks of this administration has been to lie about contacts with Russia.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If, in fact, you do that, you lie to a FBI agent, that's a crime and it's not something that Sarah Huckabee is going to be able to spin.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We still expect it to conclude soon.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I would predict we'll see more action soon, more indictments and possible plea agreement.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do they wake every morning with terrible dread? That something terrible is happening in our country, that they have no control over? I have no idea how that feels! If I drink enough! Welcome to the club.
O'DONNELL: We have so much to report to you on the utter chaos inside the Trump White House tonight. Jared Kushner is now Donald Trump's biggest problem in the White House according to an explosive new report from "Vanity Fair's" Gabriel Sherman. By securing three indictments and one guilty plea, special prosecutor Robert Mueller has put the White House on edge again and President Trump is blaming his son-in-law now, Jared Kushner.
According to "Vanity Fair", speaking to Steve Bannon on Tuesday, Trump blamed Jared Kushner for his role in the decisions, specifically the firings of Mike Flynn and James Comey that led to the Mueller appointment, according to a source, who could that be? A source briefed on Steve Bannon's call with Donald Trump.
When Roger Stone told Trump that Kushner was giving him bad political advice, Trump agreed. According to -- hmm, who could this be? Someone familiar with the conversation named Roger Stone. I just assume. I'm just wild guess. Roger Stone.
Former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg told "Vanity Fair", Jared is worst political adviser in White House in modern history. I'm only saying publicly what everyone says behind the scenes at Fox News, in conservative media, and the Senate, and the Congress. And, of course, what has been said publicly here on this program many times.
Steve Bannon also reportedly believes that the president must take drastic steps to counter these new developments from the special prosecutor. In a series of phone calls with Trump on Monday and Tuesday, Bannon told the president to shake up the legal team by installing an aggressive lawyer above Ty Cobb, according to two sources briefed on the call. So, let's see. Bannon and who else?
Bannon has also discussed ways to pressure Congress and defund Mueller's investigation or limit its scope. Mueller shouldn't be allowed to be a clean shot on goal, a Bannon confidant named Bannon told Gabriel Sherman. He must be contested and checked right now. He has unchecked power.
Just to be clear, I'm just guessing as to who these sources are for Steve Bannon's communication about Steve Bannon phone calls. Gabriel Sherman has not revealed the sources. These are just wild guesses.
Roger Stone is telling the president that defunding Mueller isn't enough. Stone wants Trump to call for a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton's role in approving the controversial Uranium One deal that's been a focus of right wing hysteria. As Stone described it, a special prosecutor looking into Uranium One would also have to investigate the FBI's role in approving the deal, thereby making Mueller in charge of the bureau at the time a target.
Steve Bannon and Roger Stone are flailing away, trying to find impossibly ridiculous strategies like these because as "Vanity Fair" reports, there is a growing concern about the president's ability to hold on to his presidency. For the first time since the investigation began, the prospect of impeachment is being considered as a realistic outcome and not just a liberal fever dream.
Two weeks ago, according to a source, Bannon did a spitball analysis of the cabinet to see which members remain loyal to Trump in the event the 25th Amendment were invoked, thereby triggering a vote to remove the president from office. Bannon recently told people he's not sure if Trump would survive such a vote.
Remember, 25th Amendment can be invoked by the vice president with a majority of the cabinet. That is all it takes for Mike Pence to remove Donald Trump from the act of presidency and for Mike Pence to become the acting president.
Tonight, in a call to "New York Times," President Trump played down any concerns that he had about special prosecutor Mueller's investigation and the indictment of Paul Manafort. I'm not under investigation as you know. Even if you look at that, there's not even a mention of Trump in there. It has nothing to do with us.
Joining us now, Nick Akerman, former prosecutor and former assistant prosecutor. He's now a MSNBC contributor. Betsy Woodruff, politics reporter for "The Daily Beast" and Jason Johnson, politics editor at TheRoot.com and an MSNBC contributor.
And, Nick, as a former prosecutor, Donald Trump is saying, first of all, I'm not being investigated. We have no idea whether he's being investigated. I, for one, I'm not going to take his word for it, if you don't mind.
And the other part of it, looking at the indictments, one guilty plea, he says that he is not in there anywhere. The indictment with the guilty please is actions taken during the Trump campaign, that's how this person is now guilty of a federal crime.
NICK AKERMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: Donald Trump is in the center of all of these allegations. He's in the center of the Papadopoulos situation who he referred to on March 21st, 2016, as a great guy. He now calls him a liar, which in itself is unprecedented that the president of the United States would call a cooperating government witness when's going to be testifying on behalf of the United States --
O'DONNELL: Well, on this -- on this, Papadopoulos agrees. He has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.
AKERMAN: Correct. But you don't -- the head of the government doesn't go out and call its own witness a liar. That's for the defense counsel.
O'DONNELL: Or comment in any way on criminal proceedings.
AKERMAN: That's right. I mean, this is total disregard for the judicial process. Under normal circumstances, I think Mueller should be going in there and asking for a gag order on this individual. I mean, he has no business interfering with this. I mean, I think where Trump is, he sees an indictment of his campaign manager.
This indictment is so well-written. It is so well-conceived. It is based purely on documentary evidence.
They don't need to call a single witness to back up the charges here. It is a slam dunk, 15 years Paul Manafort is facing. That is a huge incentive for him to turn and testify and finger Donald Trump, Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump -- everybody else that's involved in this whole Russian situation.
He was there at that June 9th meeting. He's the person who came to the party through Roger Stone. Roger Stone is the person that talked to the hacker. Donald Trump is concerned.
O'DONNELL: Yes. And, Nick, we remember just up until President Trump, how presidents of the United States have always been ultra careful about ever commenting on any kind of criminal investigation, pending criminal case, any like it. Richard Nixon got in trouble by the understandable stumble in suggesting that Charles Manson was guilty before Charles Manson was found guilty and Nixon realize what a horrible mistake that was. That's how rare this is.
Jason Johnson, I want to read you more of what the president has said to "The New York Times" tonight. Why he calls the fake news failing "The New York Times" to tell them what he's thinking, I do not know. Anyone here who wants to offer an explanation of that, please do.
But he -- tonight, he told "The Times," I'm in the office early and leave late. It's very smooth, Trump said. Honestly, he added, I'm really enjoying it.
So, Jason, there's the personal report to "The New York Times" about how swell everything is in Trump's White House.
JASON JOHNSON, POLITICS EDITOR, THEROOT.COM: Well, Lawrence, of course, the president leaves late because the golf course clears out by then. So, he's got more time. He gets all 18 holes to himself.
Look, this is president who -- there are two ways that we can understand this Russian investigation and how it leads up to Trump. Either he's got a ton of people around him who are engaging in unethical behavior and he was too dumb or too naive or too arrogant to recognize all the meetings that were being made on his behalf or he was a willing participant.
And I think either of those possibilities speaks volume about what kind of president that we have. But furthermore, he recognizes that no matter how much he tries to play it cool, the only way that Trump can get out of this is if he actually, I don't know, gets something done that makes the country happy as president. Since he hasn't accomplished that, he's got to pretend he's doing well because this investigation will dog him unless he proves himself fit for the position. And in nine months, he hasn't done it.
O'DONNELL: Betsy, when's the explanation inside the White House as to why the president often when he's in trouble and is seeking to be best understood, why he calls up "The New York Times," why he sometimes calls in "The Washington Post" and gives them the big interview, gives them the latest interview for the -- to try to explain directly what he's thinking? Why does he call and offer himself to these news organizations that he says are corrupt, he says are purveyors of fake news?
BETSY WOODRUFF, POLITICS REPORTER, THE DAILY BEAST: It's pretty simple. For Donald Trump, "The New York Times" is his hometown paper. It's the paper defining news cycles for him for his entire time as a public figure, going back as long as he's been working in the New York real estate market.
That said, of course, it's important to take the comments he made to "The Times" today with an enormous grain of salt. Just looking at the indictments that came down earlier this week, one thing is clear, and that is, that for Mueller, nothing is off limits, when it comes to prosecuting this particular investigation that he's working on.
When Rod Rosenstein, who's the second in command at the Justice Department put Mueller in charge of his investigation, he gave him a very broad mandate to look into any coordination, any links between anyone associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government, as well as -- as well as potential outgrowths of that investigation.
What we saw from the indictments that were handed down is that Mueller pressed charges based on activity that happened after the campaign in the case of George Papadopoulos. He lied to the FBI after Trump was inaugurated and years before the campaign in the case of Manafort and Gates.
What that means is that for Mueller, he's casting a wide net. He's looking at a very wide window of time. He's looking at a wide number of potential crimes when it comes to what he investigates.
I spoke with one very influential conservative attorney earlier this week after the indictments came down who told me, look, Mueller's indictments mean that any crime that was committed by any of Trump's associates within the statute of limitations is fair game for the special counsel, and that's something that should be causing the White House significant heartburn.
O'DONNELL: And, any Trump family member for that matter.
O'DONNELL: Jason Johnson, the Papadopoulos guilty plea tells us that we do not know what the special prosecutor's doing. Here he had someone arrested months ago. He managed to have enough communication with this -- with this defendant to get a guilty plea out of him relatively quickly in this process and then hold that guilty plea secret for weeks.
And this strikes me as the part of it that changes everything about the way the White House follows this. If they thought they were going to be able to follow this accusation by accusation, here comes the indictment for Manafort, here comes the indictment for Flynn, they now know we don't know what we're going to be presented with tomorrow. We may be presented with another guilty plea tomorrow by someone we didn't know they were investigating.
JOHNSON: Right. Lawrence, this is the thing I said is key why some Republicans who I have spoken to were actually happy with Mueller working on this case. With Mueller working, many Republicans know that, all right, this is all being taken care of quietly over there. That's what we heard fewer leaks.
You know, the fact that nothing about Papadopoulos leaked this time shows that the people who are unhappy with Trump, the people who are concerned about his behavior, they can hand it over to the investigation and the Republicans can try to get the work done.
The problem, of course, is, if there are no leaks, the Trump campaign never knows when anything is going to happen. The presidency doesn't know when it's going to happen. And I'll tell you this, I talked to some people on K Street, they are shaking in their boots because no one knows who Papadopoulos has talked to, and everybody is checking their cell phones to see, did I have a conversation with this guy? Did I exchange emails? And was I wiretap? Or did he have a wire when we talked?
O'DONNELL: And, Nick, if you're defense lawyer in this case with the clients who know have already hired defense counsel, what are you telling them tonight about how to handle themselves in the White House?
AKERMAN: I think they have to be very careful about who they talk to. My advice would be, don't talk to anybody. Assume that everybody is wearing a body wire. Assume that --
O'DONNELL: Let me stop you there. What about the advice to quit? What about -- if you say to me, don't talk to anyone. People might be wearing a body wire. I would say to you as my lawyer, why don't I just quit? If literally going to work is this dangerous?
AKERMAN: It is. You should quit if that's the situation. There's no question in my mind. But if you're going to stay --
AKERMAN: -- you've got to assume that everything you say is going to be used against you and it could all be recorded. I mean, the biggest thing with Papadopoulos is, he was out there for three months.
O'DONNELL: Yes. Nick Akerman, Betsy Woodruff, Jason Johnson, thank you all for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.
BETSY: Sure thing.
JOHNSON: Thanks, Lawrence.
O'DONNELL: Coming up, the president's tax cuts are floundering and one of the reasons is he wants to give the legislation the single stupidest name in the history of American legislation. But it is a name that gives away the game.
And later, John Kelly, what has happened to the benefit of the doubt for John Kelly now that he's gone two weeks without apologizing?
O'DONNELL: This morning, the president didn't waste any time politicizing the attack in New York City by tweeting: the terrorist came into our country through what is called the diversity visa lottery program, a Chuck Schumer beauty. I want merit based.
Here's how Senator Schumer responded on the Senate floor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: I've seen the tweets from President Trump. After September 11th, the first thing that President Bush did was invite Senator Clinton and me to the White House, where he pledged to do what was ever in his power to help our city. President Bush, in a moment of national tragedy, understood the meaning of his high office and sought to bring our country together.
President Trump, where is your leadership? The contrast between President Bush's actions after 9/11 and President Trump's actions this morning could not be starker. Again, Mr. President, President Trump, where is your leadership?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'DONNELL: Joining us now, Mike Murphy, Republican strategist who advised Mitt Romney and Senator John McCain's presidential campaign, and senior fellow at the Harvard's JFK Schools Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. And Jeremy Bash, former chief of staff at the CIA and Defense Department and a MSNBC national security analyst.
And, Jeremy, the president didn't have a clear set of facts there about Chuck Schumer's involvement in the immigration provision that bothers him. But once again, we saw the president go straight into politics instead of actually addressing what happened in New York.
JEREMY BASH, MSNBC NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes. Lawrence, I mean, if you think about the president's immigration approach here, and his immigration approach during his administration, he's argued for building a wall on the southern border.
This individual who committed the attack flew into our country through JFK International Airport. The president proposed a travel ban from a number of countries. This individual came from a country, Uzbekistan, that's not on the travel ban list.
And the president proposed deporting about 900 DREAMers, people who came to this country as young children and who grew up law abiding residents here and who now serve in the military, taking the fight to terrorists. The president wants to deport them.
So, not only are the president's approaches here on this issue, on immigration, shortsighted but they would be ineffective at actually confronting the real issue which is ISIS radicalizing people who have been living here lawfully. These attacks happened across Europe, throughout the spring and summer. This president and this administration have not brought any effective counterterrorism policies to the fore to confront this threat.
O'DONNELL: The president's comments not echoed on Capitol Hill by Republicans. Let's listen to what Bob Corker had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Senator, what do you think of the president's tweets on the terror attack in New York?
SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: I don't know they bring out the best in our country.
REPORTER: Is it too soon to go after Senator Schumer?
CORKER: Yes. I don't know that's the way you bring out the best in our country but everybody has their ways, I guess.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'DONNELL: Mike Murphy, it's not that hard to get -- for presidents to get moments like this right.
MIKE MURPHY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yes. It's harder to screw them up. I mean, at the end of it, it was like a Bruce Lee movie. He stumbled in and Schumer becomes a hero wearing a halo.
I think one of the problems that Donald Trump has is he does not understand that the American system, the president is not only the elected head of government, he or she is also the head of state, which means in the crisis moments, they're supposed to be a unifier and show leadership. But because he's a natural-born grievance politician, you know, President Trump can't not go out and find something to attack. In this case, a visa program that really isn't that big of a problem at all and the senator from New York who actually, and I'll say as a conservative Republican, who's got plenty of things about Chuck Schumer I don't like, he's got a pretty good record on terrorism issues.
So, it was -- it was a double mistake, but it was indicative of the way of a grievance politician, you know, President Trump cannot resist finding somebody to attack based on anything and throwing the whole head of state, you know, leader of the nation's solid symbol thing right out the window.
O'DONNELL: And you -- it would be hard to get the feeling that this is a New Yorker tweeting these things. That you couldn't get any sense of real feeling for what happened on that street from the president.
Let's listen to what Republican Senator Jeff Flake had to say about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Was the president too quick to point Senator Schumer in a tweet this morning?
SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: He was.
REPORTER: What would you have liked to see the president instead of tweeting against Schumer?
FLAKE: Well, I mean, shoot. Express some solidarity with those who are trying to fix this program. I mean, fix the situation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'DONNELL: Jeremy, it was an easy question for Republicans who were willing to take the question today. Did the president get it wrong? Answer, yes.
BASH: Yes. There was a time not long ago when the tragic incidents actually brought out the best in people and people came together, unified despite the differences. We put our differences all aside to stand shoulder to shoulder. You recall the scene of members of Congress singing the national anthem on the steps of the Capitol after terrorist attacks. If we can't hang together during these moments of crisis, I shudder to think how we would hang together during a much more horrific attack when not eight people killed but perhaps 80 or heaven forbid 800.
The president I think would accrue so much power to himself, would, you know, suspend habeas corpus, suspend civil rights and civil liberties, end immigration, send people to Guantanamo and start acting as a dictatorial fashion that would really I think tear our country apart.
O'DONNELL: Mike, we know the terrorists that killed eight people yesterday in New York City has also spent time and lived in Florida.
Let's imagine for a moment that he did this in a major city in Florida. Would there have been do you think a different reaction from the president?
The president probably firmly believes he cannot win the state of New York. He did not win the state of New York. He did not win his hometown, the city of New York. But if it happened in a state that matters to him electorally, might we have heard something different?
MURPHY: You know, my guess is that's too complicated for him. He is instinctual. Despite the fact he's speed dialing Maggie Haberman at "The New York Times" saying he's never been happier, you know, I think there's a lot of rage going on over this Mueller deal. I mean, even in the worst days of Watergate when my hero Dick Nixon was crawling into a scotch bottle, he never called up "The Washington Post" and said, I've never felt better.
So, I think he needed to have an outlet. And, unfortunately, this moment to see a unifying message of national solidarity just turned into Trump the counter puncher trying to attack somebody.
O'DONNELL: Mike Murphy and Jeremy Bash, thank you both for joining us tonight.
MURPHY: Thank you.
O'DONNELL: Coming up, the Donald Trump tax plan is in trouble. How can a Republican tax cut bill be in trouble? This is the thing that they know how to do, but then again Donald Trump's never involved before. George Will will try to figure it all out for us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: Secretary Mnuchin and Gary Cohn will be staying back from the trip to Asia to remain vigilant and making sure the tax cuts pass. So if I have any problems, I will be blaming Mnuchin and Cohn. Believe me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Oh, we believe you. On this one, we believe you. Of course, you will blame others if your tax bill fails. After delaying public release of the giant Trump tax cuts bill, the man who has to actually write that bill, Republican Chairman of the House ways and Means Committee Kevin Brady now says the bill will be released tomorrow morning.
Tonight there is a new disagreement on the name of the bill. President Trump reportedly wants to give the bill the single stupidest title in the history of American Legislation, the cut, cut, cut act. According to ABC News, Paul Ryan and Kevin Brady pushed back on the name of the bill. However, Trump has held firm. it is a astounding that the people who are writing the tax bill would even listen to Donald Trump's suggestion about what to call it because the house of representatives is constitutionally vested with much more power over tax legislation than the president.
And Congress has always jealously guarded that power, especially over taxation. What would ever make Congressional Republicans think that doing what Donald Trump wants them to do is the way to get a tax bill passed? We'll see if former Republican George F. Will can explain that to us next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORT: There's a report that is he wants to call it the cut, cut, cut act. Was that true?
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look. I think that the President, if it's called the cut, cut bill, great.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'DONNELL: Joining us now, George F. Will, Pulitzer Price Winning Journalist for the Washington Post and a MSNBC Political Analyst. And George, this crusade started with the classy label tax reform which is what you always want to at least be able to claim you're doing with the tax code, reforming it. Donald Trump has just always wanted to embrace cuts and wants to claim he's doing the biggest cuts ever. So his title the cut, cut, cut bill is actually an accurate representation of what he wants to do.
GEORGE F. WILL, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Taxes, he said are going to be so easy.
O'DONNELL: Yes, yes. It was that health care thing that was hard.
WILL: It's a reason why it's 31 years since comprehensive tax reform and the reason is that every provision in our broke tax code now sprawling over 70,000 pages is there because an interest group put it there and will die in the last ditch defending it or put there to create a grateful interest group that will die in the last ditch defending it. So well this goes with it. They saw well were going to cut taxes, lower rates and we are going to recoup a trillion dollars worth of border adjustment on imports. All the retailers in the country including Walmart, the largest private sector employer says no So they said OK, we'll back to the --
O'DONNELL: Months ago, one of the first draft ideas.
WILL: That's right. So they said, we are going to end the deductibility. Get the trillion dollars back by ending the deductibility of state or local taxes. Well it turns out there are about 40 or 50 Republican lawmakers in the states where that's affected. The Democrat you understand. A third of Democratic caucuses from three states, New York, Massachusetts, California.
WILL: They're not board.
WILL: But they're only 22 seat majority on the House for the Republicans. They couldn't afford to lose them so they said, step three, we'll limit for immediate tax advantage the amount, People can put in their 401Ks. 55 million people put stuff in their 401Ks.
WILL: So they objected to that so what they're going to do say, well, this is not the moment to worry about the deficit. There never is a moment, of course, to worry about the deficit but they'll say that. The deficit a decade ago was 9 trillion. Two months ago it went to 20 trillion. It's projected to hit 30 trillion in the middle of the next decade and will.
O'DONNELL: And all of what you have just talked about are the provisions that they've considered to raise revenue, to actually increase taxation which they needed to do in the original concept to provide tax cuts. That would be the way they would pay for the tax cuts. And now, as they get down to it, they are abandoning as far as we can tell from what we're hearing about it the concept of paying for the tax cuts.
WILL: That's right. Now and one of the remarkable things about this is everyone, Barack Obama down, agrees that our corporate tax rate is too high. It's an outlier among investor nations at 35 percent. Most of them don't pay that but still it's too high.
Everyone wants to reduce it. But to get it down to 20 percent which is now the goal requires finding offsets, order adjustment tax, state and local deductions, 401. We're looking for strike four now.
O'DONNELL: There's another way they can do it within the jurisdiction of the tax writing committees which also happen to include Medicare and Medicaid. And they can pay for their tax cuts by cutting Medicare and Medicaid within that same legislation which they know is radio active. So they're struggling with the thing that's hardest thing in legislation. How do you pay for it?
But the idea that you would simply explode the deficit and the debt goes against everything that virtually every one of these Republicans has ever said about the deficit and the debt.
WILL: Yeah. But they say that when they're not in power. When they're in power they go back -- Dick Cheney said Ronald Reagan showed that deaf sits don't matter. Well, he didn't but that's their mantra now so that you can be true to the Reagan legacy by exploding the deficit. What they now say is the magic asterisk appears on the budget.
And the magic asterisk is assumption of growth. Yes. If you assume a high enough rate of growth the economy will spin off the revenues to pay the bills. And the bills are mounting because every day between now and 2030, 10,000 more baby boomers retire into the entitlement state, Social Security and Medicare.
So if you assume a rapid enough rate of economic growth and assume tax cuts are stimulative, stimulative at full employment, stimulative in the 9th year of recovery, we don't know when recoveries end or why but they all end. If you assume rapid growth, there's an old story, I told it before, I'll tell you again, two people walking down the road in the country away from shelter.
One's an economist, the other's a normal American. The skies open and a deluge starts. The normal American says, we are going to be drenched. The economist says, not worry. We'll assume an umbrella. That's what they're doing. They're going to assume rapid economic growth. If you assume 4 percent growth, everything's fine.
O'DONNELL: And I can no longer assume they pass the bill which I always assumed they would. We will see what happens. George F. Will, thank you very much for joining us.
WILL: Glad to be with you.
O'DONNELL: Out in the studio tonight, really appreciate. We'll be right back with a special re-write tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you feel like you have something to apologize?
JOHN KELLY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Do I?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
KELLY: No. No. Never. I'll apologize if I need to but for something like this, absolutely not. I stand by my comments.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'DONNELL: And with that, John Kelly has lost the benefit of the doubt. You could doubt that he was lying about Congresswoman Frederica Wilson when he told a story about her two weeks ago in the White House press briefing room that was completely untrue from start to finish. You could have allowed the possibility that it was just a mistake and not a lie.
That's what his defenders did. His defenders did not claim that he was telling the truth. Just that he made a mistake, an honest mistake. John Kelly's defenders believed that he is an honorable man largely because he used to be a general and because he publicly claims to be an honorable man.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLY: You know, when I was a kid growing up, a lot of things were sacred in our country. Women were sacred, looked upon with great honor.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'DONNELL: So there's John Kelly publicly claiming to be one of those noble men from yesteryear who believes that women are sacred and must always be looked upon with great honor except -- except when he is attacking a woman with lies seconds later. Except when he is dehumanizing a woman, refusing to even use her name and calling her repeatedly an empty barrel.
Let's watch John Kelly doing that one more time this time knowing what we discovered the next day that Congresswoman Wilson never claimed to have obtained the funding for that building. That building that cost close to $200 million. Not the $20 million that John Kelly thinks it cost that congresswoman never asked President Obama anything about that building.
Never thanked him in her comments. But she did thank Republican Speaker of the House at the time John Boehner. When you watch John Kelly drag all of those falsehoods into his comments now, including President Obama, try to imagine what's going on in his mind. When's driving that?
Why the mentioned of Obama in this starkly negative story about political grandstanding and not the mention of John Boehner? If you're watching a false memory at work, ask yourself, what drove these particular things into his false memory?
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KELLY: And the congresswoman stood up and in the long tradition of empty barrels making the most noise stood up there in all of that and talked about how she was instrumental in getting the funding for that building. And how she took care of her constituents because she got the money and she just called up President Obama and on that phone call he gave the money - the $20 million to build that building. And she sat down, and we were stunned.
Stunned that she'd done it even for someone that is that empty a barrel, we were stunned.
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KELLY: And we are all stunned at General Kelly. You just saw anger. You just saw intense bitterness, and it was just a faulty memory back then when he said it, John Kelly has now publicly cemented all of those words, all of those falsehoods into a public lie. Because John Kelly has had two weeks to apologize as soon as everything he said was proven untrue the very next day.
And he has spent every day since then teaching us a very ugly lesson about what John Kelly does not hold sacred, about what John Kelly does not honor. He does not hold women sacred. John Kelly does not honor women, as he personally proved in his next breath that day, when he attacked a woman, Frederica Wilson and as he proves every day now by refusing to apologize to her.
And you would like to give John Kelly the benefit of the doubt, that his dehumanizing of Frederica Wilson and his refusal to apologize for his lies about her have nothing to do with race, you would like to give him that benefit of the doubt. And then in the same interview this week where he refuses to apologize to the black congresswoman he lied about he says this about America's War over slavery.
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KELLY: It's inconceivable to me that you would take what we think now and apply it back then. I would tell you that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man. He was a man that gave up his country to fight for his state, which in a 150 years ago was more important than country. It was always loyalty to state first back in those days.
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O'DONNELL: John Kelly the amateur historian is full of poisonous falsehoods about American history that he shares with the most ignorant president in history. John Kelly doesn't want to apply the standards of today to Robert E. Lee. Okay, let's not. How about the standards of Robert E. Lee's sister who sided with the north in the civil war and whose son joined the union army?
How about the standards of Robert E. Lee's nephew who joined the union army, how about the standards of the 40 percent of the Virginia's officers who remained in the service of the union army? John Kelly dishonors all of them who got it right. Morally right in order to declare the most murderous traitor in American history to be an honorable man. Robert E. Lee owned slaves, beat slaves and sold individual members of slave families to different buyers.
Robert E. Lee did every vile thing that the worst slave owners did at that time when honorable and decent people knew that it was evil. No one in American history has been more guilty of treason than Robert E. Lee. In an 1865 editorial "The New York Times" said he has levied war against the United States more strenuously than any other man in the land and thereby has been guilty of the crime of treason as defined in the constitution of the United States.
And three days later Robert E. Lee was indicted for treason. But generals as we are especially generous to generals and General Ulysses S. Grant interceded with President Andrew Johnson to get the treason case against Robert E. Lee dropped. And now retired General John Kelly tries to tell us that Robert E. Lee was an honorable man. Robert E. Lee is responsible for the deaths of more American soldiers than all the of the enemies the United States has ever faced in war combined, including Hitler.
Robert E. Lee killed more American soldiers than Hitler did. And now both Robert E. Lee and Hitler are champions, champions to the White Supremacists and anti-Semites who marched in Charlottesville chanting Jews will not replace us and were declared publicly by John Kelly's boss to include, some good people. And so how do you give the benefit of the doubt to a man who grew up in a racist time and place and who never found the public way that we know of to take a stand against the racism of his neighborhood and of his culture.
And who now tells us that a racist slave owner who committed treason in order to kill more American soldiers than anyone in history is an honorable man? And he did all that killing to preserve slavery. How do you give the benefit of the doubt to a man who says that we had the civil war because of a failure to compromise and refuses to explain what his compromise over slavery would have been and who has been flagrantly demonstrating his own personal failure for two full weeks to apologize to a black woman that he has so willfully and deliberately dehumanized and lied about.
John Kelly has not said a single word in the last two weeks to earn the benefit of that doubt. We might have to thank John Kelly some day for preventing a mad man from starting a nuclear war in the middle of the night, but he deserves nothing but dishonor for his public conduct in the last two weeks.
O'DONNELL: New York City police officer Ryan Nash is 28 years old. He's been on the NYPD for five years. He was one of the first police officers on-the-scene of yesterday's attack in lower Manhattan. He shot the suspect in the abdomen and brought him down. Today officer Nash said this.
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RYAN NASH, NEW YORK CITY POLICE OFFICER: I appreciate the public recognition of the actions of myself and my fellow officers yesterday. Although I feel we were just doing our job like thousands of officers do every day, I understand the importance of yesterday's events and the role we played, and I am grateful for the recognition we have received. I just want to thank my family and friends for their support and all other responding officers who assisted me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'DONNELL: One of New York City's heroes of yesterday. New York City police officer Ryan Nash gets tonight's last word. The 11th Hour starts now.
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