Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: November 15, 2017 Guest: Joyce Vance, David Frum, Shelby Holliday, Bruce Bartlett, Ron Klain
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Good evening. Rachel.
So, with Alabama, where do you see this going now?
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, TRMS: I -- I hate making predictions because I`m terrible at them. If you made me make a prediction, I would say that Roy Moore is going to compete in that Senate race and win.
MADDOW: And then serve in the United States Senate until he`s dead. But that said, I never make predictions, so I would never be -- so, you know, reckless as to actually say that on TV which is why I`m glad we`re rehearsing this now.
MELBER: I like these rehearsals. I learn from you every time I get to talk to you, Rachel. Thank you very much.
MADDOW: I`m sorry.
MELBER: I am Ari Melber. I am in for Lawrence O`Donnell tonight.
And as we were discussing, this is an incredibly busy hour alone in the Roy Moore story. There are brand new accusations that are breaking here late in the evening on the East Coast against the Alabama Republican Senate candidate who remains as Rachel just mentioned the Senate candidate for the GOP, Roy Moore.
His new message tonight, defiant. He says: Dear Mitch McConnell, bring it on.
We`re also learning that the last chance to force Moore out came and went. This reporting that, again, I was just discussing with Rachel. This Republican steering committee is basically the only entity with the power to effectively cancel the party nomination there. And they declined to do so.
Also tonight, Roy Moore releasing this letter where he goes further than he has before. He says, quote, I adamantly deny the allegations of Leigh Corfman and Beverly Nelson. I did not date underage girls, he says in the letter. And he goes on to say, he`s taken steps to begin a civil action for defamation related to those allegations.
And the statement, of course, comes just a couple of hours shy of this so- called 24-hour deadline that Fox News host Sean Hannity gave Moore last night.
Moore not the only one speaking out, though. Before that self-declared deadline.
This is other part of the story tonight: new women who are going on the record against Roy Moore, accusing him of some of the same types of behavior and patterns that the earlier accounts also allege.
Gena Richardson telling "The Washington Post" tonight, this just breaking, that when she was a 17-year-old high school senior, she was working at Sears, Moore asked for her phone number. And she says given that request, she didn`t give it to him but then get this. She alleges a few days later, she was sitting in trigonometry class at Gadsden High School and was summoned to the principal`s office over the intercom in the classroom. And she was told she had a phone call.
I said, hello, Richardson recalled, and a male voice on the other end of the line said, Gena, this is Roy Moore. I was like, what? She recounted. He said, what are you doing? I said, I`m in trig class.
Gena Richardson goes on to allege that she eventually did go out with him and that the date ended, quote, in a dark parking lot behind Sears, giving her what she called an unwanted and forceful kiss that left her scared. I never wanted to see him again, Richardson tells "The Washington Post."
Another woman, Tina Johnson, telling another major Alabama publication AL.com late today that articled went up, and said that she was 28 years old and she went to Roy Moore`s law office. She was signing over custody of her 12-year-old son, this was to her mother. It was 1991. Roy Moore married at the time.
And in this accusation, Johnson says that during this appointment, again, in the law office, she alleges that he flirted with her, that he called her pretty and then as she got up to leave, quote, she said, Moore came up behind her and at that point she recalls that he grabbed her buttocks. He didn`t pinch it. He grabbed it, she tells "The Washington Post" and was so surprised, she recounts that she didn`t say anything at the time.
Now, when asked why she and the other accusers did not come forward sooner, part of the story we have been covering, this was Tina Johnson`s response, new tonight. It`s because somebody asked. If anybody had asked, we would have told it. No one asked.
No one asked. People are asking now. That`s a big part of this story. Now, as always, we are obligated to tell you all sides of this story.
This is what the Moore campaign is telling "The Post" about this tonight. Quote: If you are a liberal and hate Judge Moore, apparently he groped you. If you`re conservative and love Judge Moore, you know these allegations are political farce.
This afternoon, one of Moore`s lawyers also sought to discredit one of the accusers, Beverly Young Nelson, who alleged in that press conference with Gloria Allred, that Roy Moore sexually assaulted her at the age of 16. This lawyer late today was questioning her credibility as well as the authenticity of the yearbook message that she alleges Roy Moore wrote to her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Release the yearbook so that to determine, is it genuine or is it a fraud?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Now, that was a request for one piece of evidence here, this yearbook. But we have to tell you that press conference did not even include from that lawyer denials of the other accusers at the time in this fast-moving story. Five then and since that press conference ended, by our count, four more accusers have come out alleging some kind of a misconduct.
Now, despite Roy Moore`s defiance about not backing down, national Republicans in D.C. continue to try to distance themselves from the situation. That includes his own senior Alabama senator, Republican Richard Shelby. Now, he`s saying he won`t vote for Moore and he`ll instead write in the name of what he calls a distinguished Republican. That`s when he votes in this election scheduled 27 days from now.
Also, a new poll that has now been leaked, this is from a Republican source. This is the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and that poll from those Republicans, whatever firm practiced it has Democrat Doug Jones up in the race now by 12 points. The NRSC polled its support of Roy Moore last week, and isn`t sharing the rest of the poll with us or the name of the firm who conducted it. We have to tell you that because, of course, it raises questions about their agenda in releasing those numbers which are clearly bad for Roy Moore.
So, where does this -- all of this leave the nation`s top Republican?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you all.
REPORTER: Should Roy Moore resign, Mr. President? Do you believe his accusers? Do you believe the accusers of Roy Moore, Mr. President? Should he resign?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Joining me now is Joyce Vance, a former U.S. attorney for the northern district of Alabama. She`s also a professor at University of Alabama School of Law. David Frum, a senior editor for "The Atlantic" and a former Bush White House aide. As well as Shelby Holliday, who covers politics for "The Wall Street Journal."
And we have some more news coming into our newsroom because Sean Hannity has just spoken out about this. I want to play that in a moment, but first, before we go to that and the way he`s inserted himself in the story, Joyce, I want to go to you on the facts, the ethics and allegations as they stand. Your view of what we are learning tonight.
JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: So, each additional piece of information I think just drives an additional nail into Judge Moore`s coffin. Something I look for as these women come forward is whether they told someone else about an alleged incident close in time.
And tonight in "The Washington Post" story we have Ms. Richardson who tells her friend who she works with in the mall about Moore`s forceful kiss, what she describes as a forceful, unwanted kiss. At the same time that it happens, the friend helps her avoid Moore from that point on.
These are the kind of details that really bring into focus the authenticity and the truthfulness of these women who come forward.
MELBER: You are noting that in the alternative theory of the case, the denial of Moore, we read tonight here, where he says, oh well, this is just political people setting him up, that the contemporaneous validation of these women talking to other people at the time suggests that it would have to be a far more elaborate conspiracy. That it`s not just them with a fake ax to grind under this conspiracy theory, but that also they have to loop in a lot of other people who want to also join in and make some sort of fake story from years ago?
VANCE: Exactly that. And then there`s an additional woman who`s quoted in the new story. She identifies herself as a Democrat, says she worked behind a counter and Moore kept asking her out and he was persistent and it made her uncomfortable. And what I take away from that piece of "The Washington Post" article is, if this woman, a Democrat, really for political reasons had it in for Moore, she would have made up a much worst story than he kept festering me, he made me uncomfortable.
So, again, I think we have the guarantees of truthfulness in what information these women are talking about at this point in time.
MELBER: Yes. David, I wonder if you speak to that point that Joyce raises, which is there are allegations of what would be at the time sex crimes here. There are allegations of unwanted contact and contact with people below the legal age to consent in Alabama but there are other allegation that is according to these women are not necessarily sex crimes, are simply allegations that go to the overwhelming circumstantial evidence in addition that this was a pattern of behavior for former Judge Moore.
DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: It`s a pattern of behavior. One of the allegations interestingly took place after Judge Moore`s marriage. I mean, there`s been I think a failure to reckon with just how deep and wide a pattern this is.
These -- the very first story we heard about Ms. Corfman, I mean, Judge Moore had this very deft ability to separate a young girl from her mother, reassure the mother. He was good at it. That suggests a long pattern and practice.
And, of course, that doesn`t stop with the mere fact that a man gets married. It doesn`t stop with the fact that a man is on the highest court in his state dispensing justice including criminal sanctions to other people.
I think one of the things that is so disturbing of this case, is the nature -- not just the nature of the job that Roy Moore is now seeking, but the nature of the job he had in Alabama as that state`s highest law enforcement -- sorry. Highest official of justice.
MELBER: Well, you mention that. Let`s read from some of that because it`s getting new scrutiny, the record as a judge here, chief justice of Alabama Supreme Court. He twice argued against the rape shield law basically saying it should not shield people who were alleged victims of sexual assault, cases between 2013 and 2016, Moore dissenting from what was the majority opinion by the way of fairly conservative justices where he sided instead with alleged offenders to try to dig up negative information about the alleged victims.
That`s part of the record, Shelby. There`s a lot to know about ex-Judge Moore before you even get into the allegations of his personal conduct.
SHELBY HOLLIDAY, POLITICS REPORTER, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Right.
MELBER: Then there is what you and we were discussing when you walk right into this newsroom, which is the odd way that Sean Hannity has inserted himself initially as some sort of arbiter or referee of Republican politics, which may ring true to people who see him as strictly a member of the political class, and then he seems to be backing off that in a self promoted role tonight.
Take a listen and then for your response, Sean Hannity tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: I am very confident that when everything comes out, they will make the best decision for their state. Shouldn`t be decided by me, by people on television, Mitch McConnell, Washington, talk show hosts, news people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOLLIDAY: That`s a perfectly fair point. I`ll say that I watched most of Sean`s show tonight just to see what his response would be. He set a 24- hour time limit for Judge Roy Moore.
He -- you know, despite what he just said there, he spent much of the show saying, the overarching team was, we believe the women. He talked about Bill Clinton`s accusers. He brought in other political topics. You could say they were using women as pawns but honestly, the overarching theme was, we believe the women and everybody else should believe the women, too.
So, it doesn`t sound like Sean Hannity is on Roy Moore`s side right now. He also talked about his 16-year-old daughter and how he`s sickened by the idea of older men approaching younger women.
I just think this really points to the fact that not only has this news story tonight helped establish the pattern that was already established in previous stories, but it also shifted the narrative away from this signature issue. Roy Moore`s campaign held an event today to talk about the yearbook signature. It had the press going and looking up his past signatures and looking at different forms that he signed and now we`re back to these allegations that establish a pattern that bothers voters, bothers conservative media. It clearly bothers a lot of Republicans in the Senate.
I mean, Judge Roy Moore never had Mitch McConnell, but he`s lost endorsements. He`s lost Richard Shelby`s vote. At this point, it doesn`t seem to be much about the party or political beliefs. It`s all about Roy Moore and he`s given no sign that he`s willing to step down or withdraw.
MELBER: Well, David, let`s get your response. Shelby raises an important point that we maybe seeing the ceiling or the limits of this Bannon fake news everyone else is lying defense. There was a lot of effort in the press conference today to make it about the yearbook and handwriting analysis and they said, we need a neutral arbiter to get, you know, it was like a lot of side show.
I also want to play for you for your response to this and the lawyer for Roy Moore who also try to go to another dog whistle with our own anchors Ali Velshi and Stephanie Ruhle. Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANIE RUHLE, MSNBC ANCHOR: Why would he need permission from the girls` mothers if they weren`t underage?
ALI VELSHI, MSNBC ANCHOR: If they`re not underage?
TRENTON GARMON, ROY MOORE`S ATTORNEY: Sure. That`s a good question. And culturally speaking, I`m going to say there`s differences. Look up Ali`s background there, wow. That`s awesome that you have got a -- such a diverse background. It`s really cool to read through that.
But the point is this --
RUHLE: What is Ali`s background have to do with dating a 14-year-old?
GARMON: I`m not finished with the context of it.
RUHLE: Please answer. When`s Ali Velshi`s background have to do with dating children 14-year-old girls?
GARMON: Sure. In other countries, there`s an arrangement through parents for what we would refer to as consensual marriage.
RUHLE: Ali is from Canada.
GARMON: So --
RUHLE: Ali is from Canada.
GARMON: I understand that. And Ali`s also spent time in other countries.
RUHLE: So have I.
GARMON: So, it`s not a bad thing.
VELSHI: I don`t know where you`re going with this right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: David, respond to any and all of the above.
FRUM: Well, this is why you should always pay your legal bills because if you don`t, you don`t get quality help.
But I have to dissent from the idea that this is -- this story is a Roy Moore story, that lurking in the background of course is the problem the president of the United States is very credibly alleged to have done not things with -- not to have laid hands on minors in the way that Roy Moore so credibly alleged to have done, to have barged in on them and engaged in sexual activities with the -- to voyeuristically, violated the privacy of the contestants in his underage beauty contests.
That`s always there. I mean, if it`s true that there`s a number of credible accusations that prove something where, you know, overwhelm denial, everyone`s thinking this is about the president.
And one more thing, if we get to the point where Roy Moore is elected and the Senate does act to remove him, that drama of removal also puts thoughts in people`s head. If removal from the Senate is a response to credible accusations of sexual abuse, why is the president left in place by that same Senate?
Donald Trump knows that, the people around him know that, and why it resonates as much more than a merely local story.
MELBER: You know, I have been immersed in some of this story.
Joyce, I haven`t heard anyone put it quite as directly as David just did.
VANCE: But that`s exactly where this story goes. You know, in 2016, Donald Trump asked Americans to hire him to be president and they said, yes. Now with the very similar set of accusations to the ones that emerged on the "Access Hollywood" tape, we can talk about whether underage girls are involved and the precise nature of the allegations, but Roy Moore is now asking the people of Alabama to hire him. And if the people of Alabama hold the line, what that might portend for Donald Trump is very frightening for Republicans and to party establishment.
HOLLIDAY: Well, that`s what -- I`ve been talking to a lot of legal experts say it sounds appealing that Republicans in the Senate say that, oh, well, if Judge Roy Moore wins the election we will expel him, but it`s a much trickier thing to do when it actually comes to that, because to overturn the will of voters who knew these allegations before they cast their ballots, who knowingly elected this man given all of his controversial past, you know, as you referred to earlier, Ari, he was a controversial candidate in the primaries and voters knew that and they continued to vote for him.
Overturning the will of the voters would set a very tremendous precedent for the U.S. Senate.
MELBER: Right. It`s not as easy as some Washington Republicans are trying to present it now and that maybe why they`re searching so desperately for an escape hatch to not have the problem you just laid out and the problem that David laid out.
David, stay with me. We`ll see you later in the show.
Shelby Holliday and Joyce Vance, thank you both.
VANCE: Thank you.
MELBER: Coming up next, there`s a hit to the Republican tax plan. Republican senator saying he`s already against it. The votes later this week and the man who compiled that dossier on President Trump`s campaign links to Russia telling a reporter he now believes based on what he`s learned that most of it is not only true but provable.
MELBER: -- one of the safest Republican Senate seats in the country, down there in Alabama, it would back in Washington cut into what is a narrow GOP Senate majority.
Now, Republicans right now are working on a tax cut bill. They want to rush through before that could even happen. Tomorrow, the House will vote on a tax bill, the Senate making plan to do so right after Thanksgiving. President Trump obviously geared up about this.
Tonight, he tweets, why are Democrats fighting massive tax cuts for the middle class and business, jobs? The reason: obstruction and delay.
At least one Republican senator opposing the bill in the current form, though. Here`s Ron Johnson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RON JOHNSON (R), WISCONSIN: It wouldn`t vote for this Senate version. Bottom line, there`s a real problem here in terms of the equitable treatment of, you know, pass through entities. We have to make sure that we maintain the competitive balance and position of pass throughs. We didn`t do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Whatever your feelings on those past through entities, politics are Republicans are concerned. Susan Collins today saying she is not convinced. Democrats oppose the Senate tax cut bill because -- well, it`s become a health care bill. This new version repeals, would repeal, the Obamacare individual mandate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. RON WYDEN (D-OR), RANKING MEMBER, FINANCE COMMITTEE: The Republicans apparently couldn`t get through lunch without hatching another plot to go after Americans` health care. It was decided that permanent corporate tax cuts should be paid for in part by kicking 13 million Americans off their health care and raising premiums for millions more. This is not just another garden variety attack on the Affordable Care Act. This is repeal of that law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: Ron Wyden spitting fire there.
I`m joined by Bruce Bartlett, a former treasury official under George H.W. Bush. He is the author of a new book "The Truth Matters." I`m also joined by Ron Klain, who`s the chief of staff to Vice Presidents Joe Biden and Al Gore and a former aide to President Obama.
Bruce Bartlett, you know the math. You have proven to be a pretty fair minded arbiter of what the Republicans are up to. Is it accurate to say this really is another shot at Obamacare through different means?
BRUCE BARTLETT, ECONOMIST: Oh, I don`t think there`s any doubt about that. The action today is ample proof of that. But I think it`s very important for people to understand that the budget that the Republicans adopted a few weeks ago to permit them to increase the deficit by $1.5 trillion also contains $4 trillion of cuts in Social Security and Medicare. So, it`s -- people need to understand that a big part of what`s paying for this tax cut are future spending cuts that they have not yet named.
And I would also point out that yesterday, the Congressional Budget Office pointed out that because of existing law called PAYGO, automatic spending cuts will take place the minute this legislation takes effect and $25 billion will be cut out of Medicare in fiscal 2018 and for many years to come, and that`s already in law.
MELBER: Yes. I mean, that`s a great point.
Ron Klain, you know, sometimes there`s so much noise from the way that the Trump administration runs. Roy Moore is a big and important story. But this is here a big news story tonight. Near the top of our show because what Congress could do tomorrow has huge ramifications for people`s lives in the country as you know.
Take a listen to how he -- it got here between Orrin Hatch and Claire McCaskill, the point being that Orrin Hatch doesn`t seem to want to admit what they`re doing, which might be a sign that even he doesn`t think it`s defensible or at least politically palatable. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)]
SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: There are no cuts to Medicaid in this bill.
SEN. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: I beg your pardon. This is CBO score, Mr. Chairman. I`m reading right off of CBO score. A hundred seventy-nine billion in reduced Medicaid subsidies.
HATCH: Well, there are no cuts.
MCCASKILL: Beg your pardon. That`s where the money`s coming from. Where do you think the $300 billion is coming from? Is there a fairy that`s dropping it on the Senate?
MCCASKILL: The money you`re spending is coming out of Medicaid and subsidies to people who make less than $50,000.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RON KLAIN, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Yes. I mean, there is no fairy. Senator McCaskill is right about that. But it does seem like the bill is made by a cartoon villain, like Snidely Whiplash. I mean, it`s not just enough that it gives a trillion dollars to corporations, with no promise that they`ll create jobs. They had to as Bruce said, cut Social Security. They had to cut Medicare.
Senator McCaskill said they had to cut Medicaid. And then when that wasn`t enough to pay for this huge giveaway to big corporations and the super wealthy, they came along today and said, hey, how about this? What if we kick 13 million people off of their health insurance?
It`s hard to imagine a more venal and hard hearted measure to pay for a tax cut that, by the way, Gary Cohen spoke to a bunch of big CEOs saying, how of you will create jobs if we give you a trillion dollars and very few hands went up in the room. So, this isn`t a bill that`s going to make jobs. It`s just a bill that`s going to inflict a lot of pain on a lot of people to give a lot of money to big corporations and rich people.
MELBER: And, Bruce Bartlett, it is really hard to understand why you`d go back to Obamacare when that is the thing that bedeviled the first several months of the Republican leadership when they had the votes, they had enough Republican votes. They just couldn`t do it.
Here`s Paul Ryan explaining that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We passed our repeal of the individual mandate back in May. But we never had the votes in Senate. So, what we didn`t want to do is make tax reform harder than it already is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MELBER: This is just the political question of, Bruce, what are they doing?
BARTLETT: So much of what they`re doing makes absolutely no sense. This is the most irresponsible tax legislation in the history of the United States. I mean, they didn`t -- they`re ramming this thing through so rapidly, the people who are sponsoring it don`t even know what`s in it.
MELBER: Do you think Senator Hatch is confused? Do you think he didn`t know?
BARTLETT: I think he`s willfully ignorant. He doesn`t want to know because he can`t defend the indefensible. And practically everything about this legislation is indefensible.
A good part of it which we`re not talking about is that there`s simply no need for it. The economy is doing just fine. All you have to do is read Donald Trump`s Twitter feed where he tells us every day about how great the economy is doing, how great the stock market is doing.
There`s absolutely no justification for this legislation and I think it`s sad that Democrats have not made it their position to just say no to this legislation, and instead work around trying to make it a little bit more fair for the middle class. I think that`s a losing game.
MELBER: Yes. I don`t know that you have to read Donald Trump`s Twitter feed. It can be a really stressful. There`s a lot of all caps. There`s a lot of ellipses that we have to run from one tweet to the next.
Just for the viewers. You don`t have to read it. It`s a choice. It`s a choice you have to make with the social media consumption.
Ron, before we go, the other thing that`s weird and is not what I think anyone would have predicted last year, Rachel said it`s hard to make predictions and we`re not good at them, which is why that best off avoiding them. But I don`t think anyone in health care policy or politics might have predicted that the Obamacare numbers in this climate are actually up over where they were under Obama.
Enrollments to the federal Obamacare marketplace, take a look, 46 percent higher in this early stretch of November from the same period last year, 1.4 million signed up on HealthCare.gov since November 1st.
Ron, that`s good news for Obamacare. What do you make of it?
KLAIN: Well, what I make of it, Ari, is one political party spends an entire year not creating jobs, not fixing the economy, not building roads or bridges but just singularly focused on trying to take away people`s health care, people notice and say, oh, I better sign up before it goes away. And so, I actually think, ironically, all the Republican efforts to kill Obamacare have been the best ad for Obamacare we could ever see.
I spent four years working in the Obama administration. We tried every way possible to make Obamacare popular. It finally became popular this year with Republicans dedicated a year to try to make it go away, and I think that`s the boomerang effect of the ham-handed effort here to take away health care and give rich people tax breaks.
MELBER: I think what you are saying is Donald Trump is actually good at something. Is that what you`re trying to say?
KLAIN: Yes, that`s very well put, Ari. I appreciate that. Thank you.
MELBER: I just want to get you on record for that. I know your friends in the Obama White House will appreciate it.
MELBER: Bruce Bartlett and Ron Klain, thank you both for joining me tonight.
KLAIN: Thanks, Ari.
Coming up, we take a turn of the spy as I mentioned earlier who gathered all of the leads on the Trump dossier, which has of course, enraged Donald Trump. He is now going public apparently and he says, it turns out, most of those allegations about the links between Trump and Russia are accurate. We`ll explain. That`s next.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: What we learned today about Donald Trump Jr.`s direct communication with WikiLeaks?
MIEKE EOYANG: MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: So one of the challenges here is that it points to strong circumstantial evidence of coordination and collusion with the Trump campaign. But communications of WikiLeaks and Don Jr. as a private citizen are not by themselves illegal. However, if Don Jr. had lied about them either to the Congressional Investigators or to the Special Counsel Mueller`s team then he is in some criminal jeopardy for not telling them the truth.
O`DONNELL: And, Natasha Bertrand clearly Donald Trump Jr. and his lawyers decided once this story broke today we might as well put them all out there because they`re all made public eventually and we would like to control the timing of that.
Natasha Bertrand, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Right. and this is clearly the same calculation that they made after the news broke that Donald Trump Jr. met with the Russian lawyer at Trump Tower of June 9th after last year after the New York Times reported or told Donald Trump Jr. they would publish the e-mail that is led up to the meeting. Donald Trump Jr. then went ahead and just published them all on his Twitter page.
So there`s definitely pattern of him kind of getting caught not having told the whole truth about the contacts with Russians during the campaign and then needing to play catch up afterwards. And I think it`s really important to view this WikiLeaks revelation through the lens of the past you know evidence that we`ve seen of potential collusion between the campaign and Moscow. We saw that Papadopoulos, this young Trump campaigns adviser in the very beginning of 2016, in the spring of.
He had actually been told of potential dirt on Hillary Clinton and then e- mails released by WikiLeaks in July and then, of course, we saw the meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and the Russian lawyer and Paul Manafort at Trump Tower June 9th and the outreach of WikiLeaks and Donald Trump Jr.`s response did not occur in a vacuum and an important thing to keep in mind.
O`DONNELL: Mieke, we are seeing suggestions in these messages by WikiLeaks about how to help the Trump campaigns. Julian Assange and WikiLeaks claimed to be impartial in this matter. And this is completely blown away by their messages.
They`re obviously completely on the Trump side and there`s one message saying hi, don, if your father loses we think it is much more interesting if he does not concede and spends time challenging the media and other types of rigging that occurred as he has implied that he might do. There are many messages that keep going on in this way. So, Mieke, this claim that WikiLeaks wasn`t fully supportive of the Trump campaign exclusively is blown away by these messages.
EOYANG: That`s absolutely right. And what`s interesting about that Tweet, it is straight out of Vladimir Putin`s playbook. It`s a Tweet to create division in the United States, to cast doubt on the system of government. This is what Putin and the Kremlin have been trying to do to the United States with all these fake news, advertisements that were trying to push.
They were trying to drive Americans apart from each other and they had an open channel to Donald Trump Jr. and to the Trump campaign who were fomenting and encouraging this division among people and really making it much more difficult to come together as a nation.
O`DONNELL: Natasha Bertrand and Mieke Eoyang, thank you both for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.
BERTRAND: Thanks Lawrence.
EOYANG: thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, Donald Trump`s latest defense of his friend Vladimir Putin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRAN DAI QUANG, PRESIDENT, VIETNAM: could you once and for all definitively, sir, yes or no, say whether or not you believe that President Putin and or Russia interfered in the election?
DONALD, TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: What I said, I can`t believe there`s conflict on this. I said he believes that`s and that`s important for somebody to believe. I believe that he feels that he and Russia did not meddle in the election. As to whether I believe or it nor I`m with our agencies especially as currently constituted with the leadership. I believe in our Intel agencies, our intelligence agencies. I`ve worked with them very strongly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was the President Saturday in Vietnam and he continued rambling on with that answer. But he never added anything to the answer other than a jumble of words but those words never included the statement Russia interfered in our election which is what our intelligence agencies say that Russia did. Ambassador Wendy Sherman is back with us. Ambassador Sherman, your reaction to the President`s answer on the Russian interference if the election and any other aspects of the Asia trip you think we should highlight?
WENDY SHERMAN, AMBASSADOR: I think the Russia part of the trip was very important. There was no question in my mind that he was going to see Vladimir Putin. How long he met with Putin is unknown to us because, of course, the poor reporters were not allowed in or the pool video so we don`t know exactly what happened. There are either two things I believe are happening here to use the President`s favorite words these days. Either the President is staggeringly naive and totally out of his depth thinking that he is negotiating with another developer for a high-rise and it`s a transactional approach and he can just, you know, sort of go toe to toe with the guy without really getting anywhere or he`s been corrupted by Russia.
You know, all of these segments connect in many ways, Lawrence, because what Mieke Eoyang said in the last segment of Putin trying to divide America is exactly right. It`s not that you can`t work with Russia. One can. I
I certainly did on the Iran negotiation. I have done on other issues around the world. But you have to know who the Russians are. Why the President would believe Vladimir Putin who said there were no green men in Eastern Ukraine, Assad did not do a chemical weapons attack on his own people. We had nothing to do with the downing of the Malaysian Airplane over Ukraine, if you believe that I can get you to believe a lot of different things that simply are not true.
And I think the meeting with Putin and what the President said after not only disavowing the fact that Russian did indeed meddle in our election but he really was taken for a ride by virtually every other leader who understood that the way to get to the President of the United States was through pomp and circumstance. And the circumstances for the United States Security are not so good as a result.
O`DONNELL: I have to go to a quick reaction from you from Philippine President Duterte saying to the press that you are spies and Donald Trump just laughing about that.
SHERMAN: Indeed. Donald Trump laughing about it, listening to a song by Duterte where he basically said I`ve fallen in love with you. The whole thing would have been comical if it was not so egregious. This is a dictator who has murdered without any jurisprudence 7,000 to 13,000 people, ostensibly because of a drug war which is very serious. But there is no rule of law currently in the Philippines.
And for him to say that journalists will do OK as long as they do what I need them to do or they could be assassinated and for President Trump not to speak of human rights, for Sarah Huckabee Sanders to say it was mentioned briefly and for Duterte to say it wasn`t mentioned at all goes right back to the beginning of your show tonight. If we do not stand up for values that we believe are important to who we are as the United States of America we undermine our very security by doing just that.
O`DONNELL: Ambassador Wendy Sherman, thank you very much for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.
SHERMAN: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, a conservative syndicated columnist George F. Will says that Democrat Doug Jones is worthy of election to the Alabama Senate Seat and Republican Roy Moore is not. George Will has just returned from Alabama. He will join us next.
O`DONNELL: In his column today under the Washington Post headline Roy Moore is an embarrassment, Doug Jones deserves to win. Conservative columnist George F. Will begins with this. But for the bomb the four would be in their 60s, probably grandmothers. Three were 14 and one was 11 in 1963 when the blast killed them in the 16th street Baptist Church which is four blocks from the law office of Doug Jones who was then 9.
The four girls killed in the bombing of the 16th street Baptist Church were Addie Mae Collins, 14. Cynthia Wesley, 14. Carole Robertson, 14. And Denise McNair, 12. A few years ago, I visited the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute which has extraordinary exhibitions telling the story of that terrible time. I saw the shoes Denise McNair was wearing when she was killed in the bombing. I walked across the street from the institute and saw where the bomb was placed at the 16th Street Baptist Church. Four Ku Klux Klan members planted 19 sticks of dynamite under the church steps just steps away from where the four girls were changing out of the choir robes in the church basement. One of the bombers tried and found guilty, 14 years later. Another died before he was ever charged in the bombing.
In 2001 and 2002 Doug Jones was a Federal Prosecutor in Alabama who successfully prosecuted two of the remaining 16th Street Baptist Street Bombers. Today Doug Jones is the Democrat running for Senate in Alabama and there are some Republicans actually saying that even if Roy Moore is guilty of everything he is accused of doing it is better that Roy Moore go to the United States Senate instead of a Democrat.
Today, Doug Jones released this statement about the women who have accused Roy Moore. We applaud the courage of these women. Roy Moore will be held accountable by the people of Alabama for his actions. Up next, the Washington Post Columnist George F. will on Roy Moore, Doug Jones and the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church.
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LINSEY GRAHAM, UNITED STATES SENATOR: I suggested it`d be best for him, the state, his family, the GOP and the country if he stepped aside. I just think there`s no good outcome for Mr. Moore. if you win, you lose, because you`re coming to a body where people are already calling for your expulsion. For the good of yourself, your family and your state, step aside.
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O`DONNELL: Joining us now, George F. Will, Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist for the Washington Post and MSNBC Political Analyst. And George, as we`re all concentrating on Roy Moore and every new development and every you accusation, you flew down to Alabama to Birmingham, met with Doug Jones, the kind of the forgotten man of this story, the Democrat running for the same seat Roy Moore is running for. What did you pick up about Doug Jones that the national news media hasn`t caught on to yet?
GEORGE F. WILL, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, he`s interesting, that is, he was born 13 days before the Brown versus Board of Education decision. He`s lived a life involved in the civil rights struggle. His success and what is, we should remember, a binary choice, its Moore or Jones, his strength in their must depend on African-American turnout.
That`s hard to gauge turnout in an election that occurs midway between Thanksgiving and December and Christmas, on December 12th. So we`re all in unchartered territory here. But as you say, he`s kind of the forgotten man. there`s Moore with his lurid details dominating the news cycles, and then there`s this afterthought, but the afterthought, I think, if it is a binary choice, if they proceed with the election as state law requires, it he`ll be the next senator.
O`DONNELL: What is your reaction to Republicans, some of them in Alabama, saying that Roy Moore as a Republican is preferable to anyone with the word Democrat beside their name.
WILL: Well, Alabama has its fair share of extremists and obsessive`s as such those being quoted. But Lawrence the last acceptable bigotry in this country is contempt for the south. And I think the contempt being shown for Alabama, people accepting as sort of documentary evidence the hostile caricatures of southerners, it just wrong.
It`s a big complicated state with a big complicated history. And that`s one reason why it will be healthy for this to go forward and let Alabama choose and show what the majority of Alabamians look like. I have a feeling that Alabama will pleasantly surprise a lot of people.
O`DONNELL: George, when I began working in the United States Senate, which to me doesn`t seem all that long ago, both of the Alabama Senators were Democrats. What has changed since the early 1990s that makes it so difficult for the Democrat?
WILL: Well, the move to the Republican Party was relatively swift and absolutely decisive. It hasn`t been since 1994 that a Democratic candidate for the Senate even got 40 percent of the vote. The last person elected as a Democrat was Senator Shelby in 1992 and he promptly changed to the Republican Party immediately after Republicans took charge of Congress and had seniority to offer him and two years later.
So there has been a sense in which being a Democrat is simply not socially acceptable. But compared to what? If Mr. Moore is a standard of what is the alternative to being a Democrat, if he`s a standard of what is socially acceptable, this is an easy choice, again, as long as it`s a binary choice.
O`DONNELL: And what did you find with Alabamians when you got a chance to talk to them, how -- how closely are they following this, are they waiting for more shoes to drop?
WILL: Well, they`re waiting for the Auburn/Alabama game and there are lots of distractions in the air down there. They`re like most Americans everywhere. They`re not really obsessed by politics. But people are paying attention, and it`s a state.
I think, like all Americans that`s capable of chagrin. This is not a shining moment for the state. They`re proud people down there. they don`t like being told what to do which is why it`s probably not all together helpful when Mitch McConnell says -- starts giving advice to Mr. Moore telling him to get out.
Although, I mean, what McConnell says is perfectly sensible. But if the Alabamians are left alone to make up their minds, I think they deserve some benefit of the doubt and a modicum of trust.
O`DONNELL: George F. Will, thank you for joining us with your reporting from Alabama, really appreciate it, George.
WILL: Glad to be with you.
O`DONNELL: Tonight`s Last Word is next
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