Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: November 9, 2017 Guest: Joyce Vance, Daniel Dale, David Jolly, Ron Klain
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
It sounds like a small town America story but Portland, Maine, is not that small of a town.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, TRMS: If it was that small of a town, we`d all know who lost their teeth.
O`DONNELL: That`s exactly right. That`s exactly.
You know, I`m spending half my day looking for stuff. Looking for my keys, looking my phone, always looking for my phone. Not yet looking for the teeth. But I know that day is coming, Rachel. I know it`s coming.
MADDOW: Your staff loves you which I know. I know they love you and if you tried to get on the TV without finding your teeth first, they would tell you.
O`DONNELL: And guess who finds my phone all the time? THE LAST WORD staff, and it`s always right in front of me, or in one of my pockets. So, they always know where to look.
MADDOW: I know the feeling. We are equally old.
Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
Well, today, Donald Trump and Steve Bannon`s candidate for a special election of a Senate seat in Alabama has brought this country to a point we have never been before, a place we`ve never been before, a place we`ve never been before, has brought the United States Senate to a place where the Senate has never been before. And so, Republicans in the United States Senate and a silent Donald Trump and a silent Steve Bannon are wondering tonight if they can continue to support a candidate accused of pedophilia.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More trouble for the GOP.
ROY MOORE (R), ALABAMA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: I believe in the Second Amendment.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The former judge accused of inappropriate sexual conduct with a fourteen-year-old girl almost 40 years ago.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s very, very disturbing what I read about.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If there is any shred of truth to these stories, he ought to step aside now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If that`s true, I don`t believe that being a place for him in the U.S. Senate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If these allegations are true, Roy Moore should step aside.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All these women are on the record in this story, it is true.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Moore has doubled down on this idea that this is fake news, that it`s defamatory.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The people that want to believe it, will believe it. The people that don`t want to believe it aren`t going to believe it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Officials say it`s too late to take his name for next month`s special election.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How does the Republican Party respond to this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The moral test is 365 days in the rearview mirror.
DONALD TRUMP, THEN-REALITY TV STAR: When you`re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whatever you want.
TRUMP: Grab them by the (EXPLETIVE DELETED)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it`s more likely that he will be sworn in to the U.S. Senate than not.
TRUMP: The people of Alabama, they like me very much, but they like Roy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But Republicans are going to have a real price to pay when it comes to other races around the country as a result of it.
O`DONNELL: Here is a typical moment in Roy Moore`s Republican campaign for Senate in Alabama in a special election that will take place on December 12th.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOORE: All across our land we have child abuse, we have sodomy, we have murder, we have rape, we have all kinds of immoral things happening, because we have forgotten God.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Because we have forgotten God.
According to Roy Moore`s logic expressed right there, Roy Moore forgot God. In 1979, Roy Moore was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney in Alabama a team of "Washington Post" reporters who went to Alabama to report on the Senate race there have come back with a story from 1979 that exploded in our politics today as if it happened today. Three women did this extraordinary reporting for "The Washington Post", Stephanie McCrummen, Beth Reinhard, and Alice Crites.
And there is no better way to convey the essence of this extraordinary story that they have written than to read the words that they wrote in their reporting that they delivered today.
Leigh Corfman says she was 14 years old when an older man approached her outside a courtroom in Etowah County, Alabama. She was sitting on a wooden bench with her mother. They both recall when the man introduced himself as Roy Moore. It was early 1979, and Moore, now the Republican nominee in Alabama for U.S. Senate seat, was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney.
He struck up a conversation Corfman and her mother say, and offered to watch the girl while her mother went inside for a child custody hearing. He said, oh, you don`t want her to go in there and hear all that. I`ll stay out here with her. Says Corfman`s mother Nancy Wells, 71, I thought how nice for him to want to take care of my little girl.
Alone with Corfman, Moore chatted with her and asked for her phone number she says. Days later, she says, he picked her up around the corner from her house in Gadsden, drove her about 30 minutes to his home in the woods, told her how pretty she was and kissed her. On a second visit, she says, he took off her shirt and pants and removed his clothes. He touched her over her bra and underpants she says, and guided her hand to touch him over his underwear.
I wanted it over with, I wanted out, she remembers thinking. Please just get this over with. Whatever this is, just get this over.
Corfman says she asked Moore to take her home and he did.
There is much more in "The Washington Post" reporting of this story, much more detail about what Roy Moore did to Leigh Corfman, and much more detail about his dating teenage girls when he was an assistant district attorney. Two other women told "The Washington Post" about assistant district attorney Roy Moore, asking them out on dates when they were 17 and 19 years old. They both say that they were -- when they were much older, only then did they realize how inappropriate that was.
Roy Moore gave alcohol to Leigh Corfman when she was 14 years old, and he gave the other girls alcohol who were under the legal drinking age at the time.
"The Washington Post" reports this about the relevant law in Alabama: The law then and now also includes a section on enticing a younger -- a child younger than to enter a home with the purpose of proposing sexual intercourse or fondling of sexual and genital parts. That is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
And so, Roy Moore who has lived his entire public life as the holiest man in American politics stands accused tonight of a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and he is still a candidate to serve time in the United States Senate.
In one of the more tragic passages in this very painful article on "The Washington Post" today, Leigh Corfman explained why she felt that she had done something wrong with Roy Moore when she was 14 and why she kept it secret for years. I felt responsible, she says. I felt like I had done something bad and it kind of set the course for me doing other things that were bad. She says that her teenage life became increasingly reckless with drinking, drugs, boyfriends and a suicide attempt when she was 16.
We have not heard one word from Roy Moore. Not a single word. Roy Moore has not come out and recited the bible passage that justifies his behavior in these stories. He has not come out and spoken his denial of these charges.
He has spent the day in fear of what would happen if he stepped up to a microphone and opened his mouth about this and so he has not spoken a single word, not one word. He has handled it in the most cowardly way possible for a politician accused of such things.
He issued a written statement and echoed the leader of the Republican Party who is himself a self-confessed sexual assaulter, Donald Trump. He used President Trump`s favorite phrase. When Roy Moore said today in a written statement this garbage is the very definition of fake news.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was the man who arranged for Roy Moore to come to Washington, to come to the Senate and sit with all of his potential future Republican Senate colleagues and discuss what they can all do to help Roy Moore win his Senate seat -- today, Senator McConnell said this:
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: If these allegations are true, Roy Moore should step aside for all the obvious reasons. Very disturbing allegation.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: If these allegations are true. And how will Mitch McConnell decide if they are true? Will he question Roy Moore about it? He has the power to do that. Will he bring Roy Moore right back to Washington to sit with his potential future Republican colleagues and allow those colleagues to question him about this? So that Republican senators won`t have to continue to shame themselves by association with this accused pedophile? Will Mitch McConnell do that?
If these allegations are true -- the election is a month away. What are you going to do Mitch McConnell? Are you going to wait for Roy Moore to become a Republican senator and then have the Senate Ethics Committee investigate him and then expel him?
Here is more detail about what Leigh Corfman told "The Washington Post". She remembers that Moore kissed her, that he took off her pants and shirt, that he touched her through her bra and underpants. She says that he guided her hand to his underwear and that she yanked her hand back.
I wasn`t ready for that. I had never put my hand on a man`s penis much less an erect one, Corfman says. She remembers thinking: I don`t want to do this and I need to get out of here.
That`s Leigh Corfman`s testimony, what happened to her when she was 14. And so, who do you believe? Who do you believe, Mitch McConnell? There`s not going to be a trial before this election on December 12th? A jury is not going to give you a verdict beyond a reasonable doubt.
Alabama is going to have to vote on December 12th, and Alabama voters are going to have to decide who to believe, and Mitch McConnell has to choose who to believe now, and he has to explain his choice.
Tell us what he does not find believable about Leigh Corfman`s story and tell us what Roy Moore says when Mitch McConnell asks him, did you do that to that 14-year-old girl?
And if Mitch McConnell does not ask him, Mitch McConnell is failing to do his duty as a leader of the Senate. He`s failing to do his duty as a senator who has taken an oath of office, and he is failing to do his duty simply as a human being.
If these allegations are true -- Mitch McConnell has no right to say that sentence one more time without at least a minimum of cross-examining Roy Moore on the phone however -- whatever it takes, and trying to find out the truth himself.
Joining us now, Joyce Vance, former U.S. attorney for the northern district of Alabama and a professor at the University of Alabama Law School. Also with us, Daniel Dale, Washington correspondent for the "Toronto Star".
And, Joyce Vance, as a former prosecutor, I want you to first of all take us through this evidence package that "The Washington Post" revealed today. And given that there`s not going to be a trial between now and December 12th, how should Alabama voters evaluate this -- you being an Alabama voter yourself?
JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: So, the evidence we hear in this story is very distressing. In part it`s distressing because of the age of the victim involved. She`s 14-years-old. The age of consent in Alabama is 16. So, she can`t consent to any kind of sexual conduct.
Some Alabama politicians have suggested today that the conduct is OK because she doesn`t say that she was not agreeable. And as a matter of law, this conduct is wrong.
But even more than that, this kind of conduct is a sexual assault. No, it`s not rape but it is evidence of sexual assault, a very serious crime, a crime that if it occurred today would certainly be chargeable. And Alabama voters should take that into account when they evaluate this candidate, and whether they believe that he consistently upholds the morals that he espouses.
O`DONNELL: Daniel Dale, there`s a standard test for this kind of situation in politics, let me just say we haven`t had this particular kind of situation in politics during an election campaign before. But whenever a politician is accused of something that can stop it`s -- the campaign and its tracks, or stop a political career, the politician steps up to microphones and denies it in one way or another. And what you listen for is the strength of that denial, what facts are brought to that denial.
And there are some very famous denials that have been done pretty instantaneously in the face of accusations that have later proven to be untrue. Bill Clinton`s the most famous one among them where people have that line memorized about what he said.
But there`s not a single word that Roy Moore has not shown himself publicly to speak a single word about this. How long can that go on and how long can Washington accept that?
DANIEL DALE, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE TORONTO STAR: I don`t think that can go on for more than a day, less than a day. I think tomorrow, he`s going to have to step in front of microphones and say something, I think today`s statement was an obvious attempt to buy time. He`s banking on the immediate loyalty at least of many Republicans in the state.
But I think you know, as people digest this story, you know, as it dominates Alabama media tonight, tomorrow, in the morning papers there, you know, he`s going to have to talk about it. And he -- you know, he`s good at defiance. Defiance is the trait that has defined worse career, you know, defying federal court orders, you know. So, he is good at projecting sort of righteous anger that`s what he`s made his name on and the question is you know can he do that in the face of a story as damaging and perhaps damning as this?
O`DONNELL: And Joy Vance, as we all know, politics is a different court than the court of law. And in politics, the -- what is considered the strongest reaction to this sort of thing is to go out there, stand in front of the reporters, take every question and not leave until they have run out of questions. That was something Geraldine Ferraro did when she was running for the vice presidential ticket and was faced with certain element questions about her husband`s business, something David Dinkins did in New York City when there were questions about his tax returns.
That stand there and take every question they have -- that`s the most impressive form of public defense in these cases.
What we saw today was the least impressive form and when you bring that and you move that into the tools we use for evaluating credibility in courtrooms, Roy Moore`s behavior today wouldn`t have earned him any points on credibility in courtrooms.
VANCE: It`s certainly an unusual attack to take there, even reports in Alabama tonight that there are already fundraising letters going out from the Moore campaign. So, not only does he take this really cowardly approach of issuing a written statement, he then tries to turn it into a positive.
But, Lawrence, in Alabama, there`s an old folksy saying about elections that a candidate can only be derailed by a dead girl or a live boy. I think we`re about to find out in Alabama politics whether that still holds true or whether in the day of Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey, Roy Moore get some more critical assessment from the voters or does it get a pass like Donald Trump did. After the "Access Hollywood" tape was released, 62 percent of Alabama`s still voted for Donald Trump. They may be forgiving of Roy Moore.
If these allegations, if this is the totality, if more women start to come forward, then Roy Moore I think will have to step up to the microphone and answer these questions more directly.
O`DONNELL: And, Daniel Dale, you surveyed Alabama politicians, political officials today, what did you find?
DALE: It was honestly incredible, Lawrence. I mean, I called county chairmen and chairwomen because I suspected there might be a story in them believing that these allegations were false.
What I did not expect was them to say that they would continue to back Roy Moore even if the allegations were true. I got that from two county chairmen today. They explicitly told me on the record that even if there were hard evidence that Roy Moore was a sexual abuser, had a sexually abused a girl, they would vote for him because they cannot bring themselves to vote for a Democrat.
And this is remarkable. I had -- I had someone tell me well it wasn`t forcible rape other than being with an underage person. I mean, when you`re starting sentences with the words other than being with an underage person, you know, you usually stop and say let me -- let me start again. But no, the partisanship is so strong and it`s not symmetrical. It`s this strong with the Republican Party and perhaps especially in a place like Alabama, it`s so strong that leaders -- local leaders, not just average Joes are willing to vote for a literal child molester over a pretty respectable Democrat. It`s remarkable.
O`DONNELL: Joy Vance, your husband who`s has an elected of judgeship in Alabama now ran against Roy Moore for a judgeship which Roy Moore won in the past. And Roy Moore in his written statement today, his campaign made the point that if this was true it would have come out in his earlier campaigns. What`s your reaction to that?
VANCE: Roy Moore has never had reason to be subjected to national scrutiny before this election which is happening on the national stage. The reporting in this story is pretty detailed, Lawrence. Four women who come forward, they`re all speaking on the record using their names. There are over 30 witnesses in total confirming details of this entire piece of reporting.
I think it`s -- you know, easy for Roy Moore to come forward and say that, but the reality is that if someone was going to concoct a story about wrongdoing, then the story would probably be significantly worse than this one. There would probably be allegations of conduct, allegations of multiple victims. This story really has the ring of truth to it. The words that you read from the 14-year-old victim sound very real. The details of her story have been confirmed, and I think the timing makes sense in light of the fact that this is the first race of national standing that Moore has been involved in.
O`DONNELL: Yes, he hasn`t had a team of "Washington Post" reporters down there before like this.
We`re going to have to take a break here.
Daniel Dale, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it.
DALE: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, we`re going to have more -- and I can`t believe I`m saying this -- but more on the politics of pedophilia in a race for the United States Senate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RICHARD SHELBY (R), ALABAMA: If the revelations, if that`s true -- I don`t believe there`d be any place for him in the U.S. Senate.
SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: If there is any shred of truth to these stories, he ought to step aside and now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If there`s proof, he should step aside.
SEN. JOHN THUNE (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: Well, if these allegations which appear to be and I have not read the story are as well sources I hear they are, if it`s true, then the answer would be yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That is the if-true gang today.
Senator John McCain said this: The allegations against Roy Moore are deeply disturbing and disqualifying. He should immediately step aside and allow the people of Alabama to elect a candidate they can be proud of.
Joining us now: former Florida Republican Congressman David Jolly, and Ron Klain, a former chief of staff to Vice Presidents Joe Biden and Al Gore, and a former senior aide to President Obama.
And, David Jolly, I want to go to you for this extraordinary moment in your party. Republican senators, Republicans in Washington trying to figure out what to say about their Senate candidate accused of pedophilia.
DAVID JOLLY (R), FORMER FLORIDA CONGRESSMAN: They took the easy way out, except for John McCain. John McCain was right to call on Judge Moore to resign or to drop out of the race.
And, Lawrence, you nailed it in your intro. There is only one option for Republicans tonight and that is to demand more answers. We are talking about a grown man who allegedly had sexual conduct or quasi sexual conduct with a child -- a child. And his only response today was to call it fake news and to create this binary choice between conservatives and mainstream media.
He did not answer any hard questions, like does he know the woman? Does he deny ever meeting her? Does he deny picking her up? Does he deny actually having that relationship?
The American people demand those answers tonight, but so does the Republican Party. And I say that to my fellow Republicans. Judge Roy Moore owes us answers tonight and millions of Americans are watching not just what Judge Moore does. But millions of Americans are watching what the Republican Party does tonight and tomorrow.
And among those millions of Americans are women and men who are reliving their own trauma, similar to that which was reported on the young girl today, and they are doing it very quietly and they are watching the Republican Party tonight.
So, no, Judge Roy Moore, you don`t get to just yell fake news. You owe the American people answers tonight.
O`DONNELL: My question to Roy Moore that Mitch McConnell should be asking him is when you were an assistant district attorney, how many other little girls did you tell their mothers you would take care of them while their mothers went in and testified in the child custody case? How many other little girls did you meet on that bench in the courthouse?
He, Roy Moore, sent out a fundraising appeal today based on these accusations, saying the forces of evil are on the march in our country. They will take a stand by chipping in a donation to let me know you`ve got my back in our all-out war against the Obama/Clinton machine.
Ron Klain, these accusations didn`t come from any political machine.
RON KLAIN, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO VICE PRESIDENTS BIDEN AND GORE: No, they didn`t. And in fact, the women themselves didn`t make themselves available to Washington Post". "The Post" found them, not the other way around.
Look, Lawrence, I think we`re learning that the phrase "if true" is the pedophilia what thoughts and prayers are to mass shootings -- an excuse for inaction, an effort to dodge what needs to be addressed straight up and straight on, an effort to avoid responsibility.
But as David said, the Republicans in the Senate cannot avoid this question. If they do not do something, if Roy Moore himself doesn`t step up and answer questions, if he`s on the ballot, if by some chance he wins, then the Republicans will have to face the question whether or not he should be seated as a United States senator.
And so, there`s just no dodging this and there`s no if truing out of the dilemma they`re in.
O`DONNELL: And, David Jolly, if he`s elected, the Senate Ethics Committee is going to invest -- begin investigating him right away on this.
JOLLY: Presumably. But who knows? This is Donald Trump`s America and Donald Trump`s Republican Party.
Lawrence, think, just 24 hours ago, the Republicans were gnashing their teeth worried about their political brand coming out of Virginia and New Jersey. And now, we`re dealing with this. After having lost the majority of women votes coast to coast the other night, suburban communities struggling to rebuild a GOP in a Donald Trump conservative movement, if you didn`t want to call him a conservative, and now we`re wrestling with today`s version of the Todd Akin legitimate rape moment.
This is exactly what Mitch McConnell is afraid of. He has lived this before after the emergence of the Tea Party. The question is, does Mitch McConnell do what you demanded of him tonight, Lawrence, which is to demand answers of Roy Moore ahead of the election not after the election.
O`DONNELL: Steve Bannon is teaching Republicans how to pick loser candidates for the Senate. Let`s listen to what he said the day before the primary election in this race about how -- what a good man Roy Moore is. Let`s listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: Judge Roy Moore is a good man. He`s a courageous man. And most importantly, he`s a righteous man.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: David Jolly, what does that do to your party`s inclination to listen to Steve Bannon?
JOLLY: Listen, they`re all drinking the Kool-Aid. I mean, Mike Pence, who is a devout Christian, has said what a great Christian man Roy Moore is. Lawrence, let`s be honest, there are reason people like myself still struggle today to find a place in this Republican Party, and it`s because of the hypocrisy of those who express religious convictions in the political arena look the other way when we see the faults of our own. That is what`s occurring right now with Judge Roy Moore.
He may very well be innocent, but if so, an innocent man tonight would sit down on your show and answer the hard questions from you and be able to deny with specificity the allegations. And a party with any purity or religious conviction would actually demand the same answers of Roy Moore. But we don`t see that in today`s Republican Party.
O`DONNELL: David Jolly, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Ron, please stay with us.
Coming up, President Trump`s former bodyguard tells congressional investigators that Russians did indeed offer to provide women for Donald Trump.
O`DONNELL: We have some new leaked details about what President Trump`s long-time bodyguard Keith Schiller is reported to have said when he testified to the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday, specifically what he said when he was asked about certain claims in the dossier related to Donald Trump`s 2013 business trip to Moscow. NBC News reports that after a business meeting before the Miss Universe Pageant in 2013 a Russian participant offered to send five women to Donald Trump`s hotel room in Moscow.
His long-time bodyguard told Congress according to three sources who were present for the interview. Two of the sources said the bodyguard Keith Schiller viewed the offer as a joke and immediately responded, we don`t do that type of stuff. That night, two sources said Schiller said he discussed the conversation with Trump. Schiller said the two men laughed about it as Trump went to bed alone. Schiller testified that he stood outside Trump`s hotel room for a time and then went to bed. One source noted that Schiller testified he eventually left Trump`s hotel room door and could not say for sure what happened during the remainder of the night.
Today, Keith Schiller`s lawyer said in a statement that these leaks about his client`s testimony, |"are coming from partisan insiders from the house Intelligence Committee and rejoining us now, Ron Klain and Joyce Vance, both back with us. Joyce, in your experience, it`s tricky dealing with leaked material, like from grand juries or testimony like this. But from what you hear in this, what is your reading of it?
JOYCE VANCE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: This sounds like a leak that was put out perhaps by someone who wanted to say, look, folks, nothing to see here. This gentleman`s testimony is nothing burger because at the end of the day he says that the President didn`t take advantage of the offer. Of course, it doesn`t read quite that way I don`t think.
O`DONNELL: And, Ron Klain, no one knows more about Donald Trump than Keith Schiller. He knows more probably knows more than Donald Trump`s wives. He started working as a part time security guard for Donald Trump when he was still with the NYPD and then full-time. And went right into the Whitehouse where eventually figured out that the Secret Service was in charge of security there. If there`s a story to tell about Donald Trump, Keith Schiller knows that story.
RON KLAIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: And is going to be the last person in the world to tell it. His loyalty to Donald Trump is unmatched and I have little doubt that Keith Schiller is going to say whatever he needs to say to protect Donald Trump. But look this is what we have seen throughout this entire year, Lawrence. Things that seemed ridiculously implausible six months ago became possible, became likely, became true.
No one from the Trump Campaign met with anyone from Russia. Oh well just a few times. Oh well, just the campaign manager and the son and the son-in- law. Oh well, just at Trump Tower and so, you know, as the pieces are coming together, things that seemed almost laughably implausible, some of the stuff in the dossier, you were getting and closer and closer to learning facts about it.
O`DONNELL: So, Joyce, when you put this testimony together with the dossier, what they both talk about are prostitutes in a case and Keith Schiller `s testimony, five prostitutes offered and in the dossier, a description of prostitutes in the hotel. And the dossier says that it happened and Keith Schiller said that the offer was declined. So that`s the gap. It is not one story is zero prostitutes and nothing, no reference to anything like that.
VANCE: Nothing in Schiller`s story`s inconsistent with the rather salacious suggestions in the dossier saying he went up to Trump`s room. He left at some point. He doesn`t testify according to this story about what happened after he left and that`s a really enormous gap in this testimony. But one of the problems here is this is not an offer that you typically make. Right?
This is a big night. They`re celebrating some successful business they have done together. You don`t then approach a Barack Obama or a George H.W. Bush with an offer of five prostitutes. You do that to someone you think might be inclined to say yes. And that little detail has to make you wonder about what happened after Schiller went back to his hotel room.
O`DONNELL: And, Ron, if this testimony, account of the testimony is an accurate account of the testimony, it certainly leaves open those possibilities and it does make you wonder, you know, why didn`t Keith Schiller say, no, I never heard of anything like that, nothing like that happens in our lives? He may believe there`s someone else to testify that an offer like that was made.
KLAIN: Yeah. I mean, I think we should go back to what the big problem is here. The National Security threat that the Russian Government may have compromising material on Donald Trump. That means the Russian Government may know what happened here. would know what happened here and may mean Keith Schiller is nervous about the various people involved this scandal, the various Russians who came and visited Trump Tower, what they know and say to authorities and so on and so forth.
So you know the fundamental problem is a President we know had complicated business dealings, if nothing else in Russia, a lot of money changed hands in Russia, still but business dealings with the Trump Organization. Until we get to the bottom of that, until we see his tax returns, till we know where the money went, knowing what happened between Donald Trump and people in Russia is a big challenge for the United States.
O`DONNELL: Ron Klain and Joyce Vance, thank you very much for joining us tonight. really appreciate it.
KLAIN: Thanks Lawrence.
VANCE: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Still ahead, the white house today actually admitted who are the happiest people in the country with the Trump tax cut proposals. Guess who they are. Who are the most excited people? That was the Whitehouse`s phrase, most excited. Take your time. Guess.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: What happens politically if republicans aren`t able to pass the tax reform package?
LINDSEY GRAHAM, UNITED STATES SENATOR: The party fractures, most incumbents in 2018 get a severe Challenge, a lot of them will probably lose. The base will fracture. the financial contributions will stop. Other than that, it will be fine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Note to Washington reporters, every question asked senator about the politics of the tax cuts is a wasted question. When you have a Republican Senator ask them about the specific policies that they are on the verge of voting for. Today, senate Republicans unveiled a tax cut bill that has major differences from the House Bill and could derail president trump`s plan to sign a tax cut bill by Christmas.
The delays cutting the corporate tax rate to 20 percent until 2019, a year later than the House Bill. That saves the bill some money. The Senate Bill completely eliminates the state and local property tax deduction. That the house bill partially kept to satisfy Republicans in high tax states. And the senate bill has seven tax brackets compared to the only four tax brackets in the house bill.
The New York Times reports the Senate Bill maintains a 10 percent bottom tax bracket for individuals. The House Bill actually raised the bottom tax bracket to 12 percent. High earners would pay a top tax rate of only 38.5 percent in the Senate Plan. That is down from 39.6 percent the rate that was maintained in the House Bill.
The house plans to vote on their tax cut bill next week after it passed the house ways and means committee in a party line vote. Here`s what senator Bernie Sanders said on Chris Hayes` show tonight about the republican tax cut bill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BERNIE SANDERS, UNITED STATES SENATOR: YOU have members of congress who are saying if we don`t pass this, our billionaire friends are not going to contribute to our campaigns. that is what this whole tax bill is about. massive tax breaks for the wealthiest people in this country, significant reduction in corporate tax rates at a time when corporations are earning record breaking profits and at the end of ten years in the house bill almost half of the middle class will pay more in taxes. totally absurd.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Whether we come back, we`ll show you the video that gives you the answer of who is most excited about the Republican tax cuts. You have got one more commercial break to guess.
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JOHN HARWOOD, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, CNBC: You, I imagine, are the point person in the white house for big CEO`s because you come from their world, they know you. What are you hearing from them right now?
GARY COHN, PRESIDENT OF GOLDMAN SACHS: The most excited group out there are big CEO`s about our tax plan.
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O`DONNELL: Joining us now, David Leonhardt and op-ed Columnist for the New York Times and also joining us is Brute Bartlett, former Assistant Deputy Secretary of the Treasury under President George H.W. Bush And the author of the new book, The Truth Matters. And David in your recent column, you said that there should be a different name for the tax bill. You proposed the name Paul Ryan`s 2017 tax increase on middle class families. Please explain. I thought it was a tax cut.
DAVID LEONHARDT, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. I don`t think that`s the name the Senate or the House is actually going to use. There are a few reasons why it`s a tax increase on the middle class. There are two core ones. The first is that the bill gives very little to the middle class.
I mean as you covered, this is a bill designed to help very affluent people, getting rid of the estate tax and other things. There are very few things for the middle class. Many people end up net worse off because of losses of things like tax breaks for college interest, for adoption, for medical expenses.
So something like a third of middle class families will actually end up with a tax increase under the bill. But it`s probably going to be a tax increase on the other two-thirds in the end as well because it increases the deficit so much that ultimately the U.S. will need to pay back the deficit and anything other than a repeal of the Trump Tax Plan is probably going to involve middle class tax increases.
O`DONNELL: And Bruce Bartlett, one way as the debt and deficit explodes that Republicans might try to cut spending in the future, for example, would be to cut social security benefits. And so having given you a tax cut, they might also cut the money that the Federal Government was scheduled to pay you back. And so you`ve got to look at your total financial relationship with the federal government as David has pointed to in something like this.
BRUCE BARTLETT, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Oh, that`s absolutely correct. The minute Trump`s signature is dry on this legislation, the Republicans will suddenly rediscover the deficit and insist that it`s due entirely -- entirely to excessive spending. Very few people even realize that in the budget resolution that provides for this $1.5 trillion tax cut, there are $4 trillion of mandatory spending cuts. And mandatory spending is just a euphemism for Medicare and Social Security. So you are exactly correct.
O`DONNELL: And the committees that write these tax bills also have jurisdiction over Medicare and Social Security. They have the ability to make those cuts at the same time if they want to. David, as we look at the new version of this bill from the senate, what are the principal differences that you see?
LEONHARDT: I thought the chart you put on the screen a couple minutes ago walked through them pretty nicely. I would say looking at it so far, it seems like the Senate Bill is marginally less bad than the house bill. But that shouldn`t be the standard. It`s not a question of the senate bill does less damage than the middle class bill and thus we should pass it.
The Senate Bill really is a bad bill. It`s designed to really help wealthy taxpayers. It will likely hurt -- it really has very little for middle class families. I mean in that same interview with John Hardwood that the showed Gary Cohen, the Whitehouse Chief, Whitehouse Economics Adviser, he said number one we have to deliver middle class tax cuts to the hard working families in this country.
And it`s just false that is the main goal of this bill. The main goal of this bill is to deliver really big tax cuts to a small sliver of wealthy families. That`s true of the house bill and it`s true of the senate bill.
O`DONNELL: And Bruce, as you know, when these bills are moving, you`re always looking for the thing in the Senate Bill that would die in the house or make it impossible for the House. You always looked at the house put something in there that`s impossible for the Senate.
The house worked really hard. They came up with something of a compromise on the deductibility of state and local taxes and the Senate just wipes this out and says we`re just going to eliminate completely the deduction for state and local taxes. That could lose all of the republicans from California in the house along with New Jersey, New York. That could kill the bill in the house.
BARTLETT: Oh, it`s completely insane. But I think it`s important to understand that this is the most half-baked, slapped together, incompetently written tax legislation in the history of the United States. What you have is a massive tax cut for the rich that is offset by a bunch of slapped together, random tax increases that make no rhyme or reason.
This is not tax reform. This is not even remotely tax reform. It`s tax increases to pay for tax cuts for the wealthy
O`DONNELL: And, David, if you were trying to explain in the quickest way you could to someone what is in this for you, just give us the typical family on a $50,000 income out there the middle of America.
LEONHARDT: I think this is the best summary stat. for families with children that make under $100,000 on average, their taxes go up. That`s even forgetting about what it does to the deficit. So if you have kids and you make less than $100,000, your taxes are going up.
O`DONNELL: Thank you for that. That gives me exactly what I need. I was looking for the shortest way of saying it. David Leonhardt and Bruce Bartlett thank you both very much for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.
LEONHARDT: Thank you.
BARTLETT: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Tonight`s last word is next.
O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s last word.
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CONAN O`BRIEN, COMEDIAN: Twitter has officially doubled the maximum length of a tweet to 280 characters, doubled, yeah. In a related story, President Trump`s thumbs have been rushed to intensive care.
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O`DONNELL: That`s Conan O`Brien at the Apollo Theater this week. Conan O`Brien get tonight`s last word. The 11th Hour with Brian Williams is next.
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