Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: November 17, 2017 Guest: Bruce Bartlett, Max Boot, Betsy Woodruff, Maria Teresa Kumar
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening. I`m Lawrence O`Donnell, and this is tonight`s LAST WORD live from Los Angeles tonight.
President Trump and Republican leaders in Congress won some very important votes yesterday, but President Trump doesn`t seem to want voters thinking about that tonight.
He doesn`t want Trump voters thinking about it. He doesn`t want Democratic voters thinking about it. He doesn`t want independents thinking about it. Because the votes that Donald Trump won in Congress yesterday hurt all of those voters.
The Trump tax cuts that passed the House of Representatives and the Senate Finance Committee are the worst pieces of tax legislation that have ever passed the House of Representatives and the Senate Finance Committee. The worst!
But the full Senate hasn`t voted on the bill yet. And Donald Trump seems to believe that the more voters know about the tax bill, the more trouble the bill will face, especially in the Senate.
Which is why last night, at this hour, when the Senate Finance Committee was voting on the tax bill, President Trump dramatically changed the subject to something he was sure the news media would prefer to talk about.
The President is so desperate to turn voter attention away from what`s actually in the tax bill that he changed the subject to his own history of sexual assault.
He knew that`s what he was doing when he sent out two tweets at this hour last night attacking Senator Al Franken.
He knew everyone would point out the hypocrisy of Trump attacking Franken and not saying a word about Roy Moore. And, of course, the hypocrisy of Donald Trump of all people attacking anyone about sexual matters after Trump, himself, was caught on tape, confessing and bragging about sexual assault.
Donald Trump knew exactly what his tweets last night were going to do to the coverage of the tax bill. And we will get to the news about Al Franken and Roy Moore and Donald Trump`s own history of sexual assault later in this program after we begin with the worst piece of tax legislation written in Congress since the federal income tax was invented in 1913.
Tax cuts are the easiest thing to pass in Congress. The easiest thing.
Republican tax cut bills always pass very, very easily, and they pass with Democratic votes. They are genuine bipartisan votes.
Twenty percent of the votes in the Senate for the Bush tax cuts came from Democrats. Twelve Democrats in the Senate voted for the Bush tax cuts and one Republican voted against them. John McCain. A true bipartisan vote.
Some of the Democrats who have voted for Republican tax cuts in the House and in the Senate in the past have had to overcome some qualms about increasing the deficit and then unfair distribution of the tax cuts that favored the rich. But in the end, voting for tax cuts was politically irresistible to them.
And so it is a profound statement about just how outrageous and indefensible the Republican tax cuts are that exactly zero Democrats in the House of Representatives voted for the tax cut bill. Zero.
And exactly zero Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee voted for this Senate version of the bill. Not one Democratic senator.
In the House of Representatives, 13 Republicans voted against the bill because it hurts their states very badly by reducing the deductibility of state and local taxes.
The Senate bill is even worse. It completely eliminates the deductibility of state and local taxes, and therefore steeply increases taxes in states with higher than average property taxes and state income taxes.
And it is no coincidence that the states most burdened by this tax increase are the wealthier states in the country that finance much more of the federal government`s activities than the other states. And the states -- these are the state that is routinely vote for Democrats, including Democratic candidates for President.
This is the first time that the personal income tax code has been used by a political party to punish the voters and taxpayers of the other political party. This is a politically vindictive tax bill. It literally forces voters to pay higher taxes because they vote for Democrats.
And both the House and the Senate version of the bill force middle class voters, including Trump middle class voters, in all states, to pay higher taxes when the bill is fully phased in.
Americans earning less than $75,000 would face substantial tax increases, and this is exactly the opposite of what the President promised when he was campaigning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will massively cut taxes for the middle class, the forgotten people. The forgotten men and women of this country who built our country.
We will massively lower taxes. It`s in our plan.
We will save and protect Social Security and Medicare. Hillary is going to cut your Social Security and cut your Medicare benefits.
We will massively cut taxes for the middle class.
Tax relief will be concentrated on the working and middle class taxpayer. They will receive the biggest benefit, and it won`t even be close.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: In fact, this tax bill is the single biggest transfer of wealth to the richest Americans in the history of American government.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you wouldn`t benefit under your tax plan?
TRUMP: No, I don`t benefit. I don`t benefit. In fact --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don`t think rick people benefit?
TRUMP: In fact, very, very strongly, as you see, there`s no -- there`s -- I think there`s very little benefit for people of wealth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Joy Reid, MSNBC national correspondent and the host of "A.M. JOY" at weekends here on MSNBC.
Also with us, Bruce Bartlett, former deputy assistant secretary of the Treasury under President George H.W. Bush. He`s the author of the new book, "The Truth Matters."
And, Joy, there is Donald Trump telling us he doesn`t benefit from --
O`DONNELL: Come on! Can I finish the question, Joy, without --
JOY-ANN REID, MSNBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Sorry.
O`DONNELL: -- without mocking. He does not benefit from this tax bill, and he tries say that with a straight face. Every report tells us that the Trump family is on its way to a billion dollars tax free in this, maybe. Or maybe less, maybe more, depending on how rich he really is.
REID: You know, it -- yes! And I`m sorry for the laughter, but, I mean, come on!
REID: I mean, I guess, in the sense that Donald Trump cannot leave money to himself, he doesn`t benefit from the estate tax repeal, but his kids sure will benefit. You know, hopefully, Tiffany will be included.
He is essentially going to be able to leave, tax free, his the entire estate, whatever it`s worth, to his children. As will every other billionaire.
And if you think about Donald Trump, the way that his businesses operate, there isn`t a Trump Inc. that`s one thing. There are these hundreds of individual LLCs, this pass through income, that also magically gets this big tax cut.
There`s a big tax break for private jets. You know, the things that people like Donald Trump utilize are all subject to a tax cut.
And as you said, the bill explicitly punishes the states that didn`t vote for him, but it also punishes his own taxpayers. They are going to have their Social Security disability income gone after because Mick Mulvaney thinks that`s welfare. This has opened the door.
Republicans are at least being honest now in saying, yes, they can`t guarantee that middle class people and lower middle class people won`t pay more. But, you know, we all have to pay more because we need to lower the corporate tax rate permanently, so everybody else`s are just going to have to be temporary.
Sorry, taxpayers, you`ve been had.
O`DONNELL: And, Joy, I, as -- I do the worst job of keeping a straight face when talking about Donald Trump`s life.
O`DONNELL: So I just wanted to see what it felt like, to see if we could possibly do it straight. But it`s --
REID: It can`t be done.
O`DONNELL: It is extraordinary.
Bruce Bartlett, the President, we just heard him talking in the campaign clips about what he called the forgotten people, the forgotten men and women of this country, the middle class. And he`s going to massively lower their taxes. That`s what he said in the campaign.
BRUCE BARTLETT, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY: Well, it`s true that the middle class is suffering, but it`s not suffering from over taxation. Taxes on the -- on a family of a median income are about as low as they have been in the history of the United States.
What the middle class really needs is higher wages, and there`s absolutely nothing in this legislation that is going to cause that to happen. The report that the White House put out, saying that cutting the corporate tax rate will magically lead to higher wages is just complete and total nonsense.
All you have to do is go to bls.gov, look up what happened to wages the last time we cut the corporate tax rate. In 1986, we lowered it from 46 percent to 34 percent, a big reduction. Wages fell for 10 years after that legislation.
O`DONNELL: And, Bruce, that`s President Reagan`s corporate tax rate cut.
BARTLETT: Yes, that`s right.
O`DONNELL: That was the rate that he thought was reasonable under the circumstances and the compromises you make in tax reform.
Joy Reid, I`m here in California, and I was talking to people deeply involved in the politics of Sacramento when they were watching these House Republicans from California, most of them, vote for this bill, which hurts California very badly.
And these are political types who just were so eager to take them on in the next congressional election, but California taxpayers are going to get hurt first.
REID: Yes, absolutely. California and New York, where I am here today and where I live, you know, are going to get hurt really badly.
California Republicans are already something of an endangered species, so it`s amazing to me that anybody who is elected to the House in California, particularly in those districts -- and I think there are more than 11 of them that Hillary Clinton actually won outright and the others that are -- that were close, even in this -- you know, the redder districts in California. There`s no blowouts for Republicans in California.
So they`re going to have a big problem, and they`re going to have to defend the fact that they literally raised taxes on. I read one analysis that said one in 11 taxpayers is going to have their tax increased come by 2018.
So by the time we are voting to, you know, re-elect the entire House of Representatives in 2018, almost one in 10 taxpayers will have already seen the tax increase. And they`re going to hit hardest in places where Republicans are already vulnerable, like California and New York, places like Connecticut.
So, you know, once again, Donald Trump has done his party no favors when it comes to trying to get their jobs back next year.
O`DONNELL: And, Bruce, you and I have worked on tax legislation as it moves through the Congress. And I`m looking at this historically and I don`t see anything like it. I`d like to get your historical perspective on it.
BARTLETT: Well, I think the most extraordinary thing about this legislation is the undue haste through which they`re ramming this through. And it proves the point that you were making earlier that they don`t want anybody to know what`s in this legislation because it`s terrible legislation.
Trump lies about it. The Secretary of the Treasury lies about it. The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee lies about it.
They just keep saying, oh, this is great for the middle class and it`s not. It`s only great if you`re extremely wealthy, and then it`s really wonderful. And they just don`t want people to know that.
And they also don`t want people to know about the inevitable spending cuts that are going to be caused by this legislation. The second the ink is dry, something called PAYGO takes effect. And they begin to sequester $150 billion worth of spending in the current fiscal year, of which at least $25 billion is going to come out of Medicare.
O`DONNELL: And, Joy, there`s a lot of details to get into in the bills, and we will, but the main point I wanted to make tonight is -- my point is I don`t believe there has been a worst piece of tax legislation written and advanced and voted on in Congress.
There`s been some crazy ideas that were introduced as bills that never got anywhere, but here it is. It`s gotten through the House of Representatives. Now, a version has gotten through the Senate Finance Committee.
And as far as I`m concerned, it takes the place as the worst. There`s no cohesive tax theory to what this is. It isn`t tax reform. It`s not describable as anything but a very peculiar set of tax cuts that are targeted, in every way possible, at the rich.
REID: Yes. And I mean, you have to remember that, you know, the income tax amendment to the constitution didn`t exist in the gilded age, right? So there`s no possible way for it to have been worst tax legislation.
O`DONNELL: Yes, that`s right.
REID: This is gilded age legislation. And you know, the one thing that has happened, I think, that has been sort of helpful to the discourse is that Republicans have lost this sort of phony language of helping the middle class. They`re saying it now because they have to add that because they had to run television commercials for 2018.
But you got people like Mick Mulvaney and Roy -- and Mr. Cohn be very open about the fact that, listen, yes, this is going to raise taxes on the middle class. Yes, we feel that it is right to raise taxes on lower income people because we must do this tax cut for the very rich and for corporations.
The sort of I`m Randy and -- language has come back. People are being much more open about what they want to do.
You have an admission now that they do want to go after Social Security disability insurance, which a lot of Trump voters are receiving to pay for that -- those nursing homes for their parents.
They have admitted they want to go back and do this premium support switch to Medicare. That is the dream of Paul Ryan.
And they`re being very open. When you talk to Republican strategists, and I have, they are being very open and blunt in saying our donors are demanding that we do this big tax cut. And if we don`t do it, they won`t donate to us anymore. They`re doing this for the very wealthy donors and literally no one else.
O`DONNELL: And a quick last word, Bruce, about the debt. We all remember President Trump campaigning vehemently against the national debt, and he was going to bring it down. What does this do to the national debt?
BARTLETT: Well, it increases it by $1.5 trillion. It`s going to increase the national debt as a share of GDP by more than 50 percent. And this absolutely guarantees that the second the legislation is passed, all the Republicans are going to start talking about how we have to have deficit reduction. And they`re already talking about this.
And they plan to do to the Democrats what happened to them in 1993, which you remember very well, that led ultimately to the Republicans taking control of Congress. They want to tie the deficit around the Democrats` necks and make them vote for very unpopular deficit reduction legislation that was -- when the deficits are caused by the Republicans.
O`DONNELL: Bruce Bartlett, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Joy Reid, please stay with us.
Coming up, a new NBC News report reveals that Jared Kushner had yet another contact with Russians that had not been revealed until now. And once again, Donald Trump, Jr. is also involved.
And later, the Governor of Alabama said she has no reason to doubt Roy Moore`s accusers, and she is still going to vote for Roy Moore.
O`DONNELL: NBC News reports Jared Kushner failed to disclose what lawmakers called a Russian back door overture and dinner invite involving a banker who has been accused of links to Russian organized crime. The banker is Alexander Torshin, a close ally of Vladimir Putin.
E-mails that made the way to Jared Kushner suggest Alexander Torshin wanted to meet with a high level Trump campaign official at the National Rifle Association convention in May 2016 and may have had a message for Donald Trump from Vladimir Putin.
Sources told NBC News Jared Kushner rebuffed the request, but Alexander Torshin later claimed he dined with Donald Trump, Jr. on the sidelines of the NRA convention.
Joining us now, Ken Dilanian, intelligence and national security reporter for NBC News, who broke this story.
Ken, what`s the significance of these new e-mails?
KEN DILANIAN, NBC NEWS INTELLIGENCE AND NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Good evening, Lawrence. Well, yesterday the Senate Judiciary Committee admonished Jared Kushner in a letter, saying that he and his lawyers had not turned over significant documents in their investigations.
And one of the things they mentioned was this Russian back door overture. They didn`t explain, though, what it was.
So my colleague, Carol Lee, and I have learned today that it was, in fact, this e-mail chain from this Russian named Alexander Torshin, who is a deputy governor of the Russian Central Bank, a former senator, and, as you said, has been accused by Spanish prosecutors of having ties to Russian organized crime.
Now, he denies this, but an e-mail chain made its way to Jared Kushner, in which he requested a meeting and also suggested -- Torshin did -- that he had a message that he wanted to carry from Vladimir Putin to Donald Trump.
Now, Jared Kushner`s lawyer tonight issued a statement, telling us that Kushner`s response to this e-mail was, quote, pass on this. A lot of people come claiming to carry messages, very few we are able to verify. For now, I think we decline such meetings.
So Kushner declines it, but then somehow -- and it`s not clear how -- this same Alexander Torshin tells Bloomberg News that he has dinner with Donald Trump, Jr. on the sidelines of this National Rifle Association convention back in May 2016.
And congressional investigators are trying to figure out how that dinner was set up, what was said, what was the nature of it. And the reason Kushner`s under fire is because he failed to disclose that this overture was made and it made its way to him. And investigators are asking questions about why he and his lawyers failed to turn over these documents, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: And let`s remember, the collusion under investigation, the possible collusion, is a two-way street. This would be the Trump campaign colluding with the Russian government. And anything that indicates that there is a willingness on the Russian side to engage in this kind of activity is evidence that would enter into that theory.
I want to read "The New York Times" reporting on this tonight, saying the subject line of the e-mail turned over to Senate investigators read, quote, Russian back door overture and dinner invite, end quote, according to one person who has seen the message.
And so, Ken, I can imagine the congressional investigators, when they`re coming across material like this, it is just so starkly self-expressive in admitting what it is.
DILANIAN: Yes. This is just the latest example of sort of senior Russians with ties to Vladimir Putin circling around this campaign, trying to infiltrate, trying to get meetings with senior officials. And it`s an example of where a senior official, Jared Kushner, did not fully come clean about it.
And the other thing that`s really important here, Lawrence, is sort of unrelated to this but involving Jared Kushner, is that he told both congressional committees, he testified, that he did not recall -- actually, he said he was not aware of any campaign contacts with WikiLeaks.
Well, now we learn this week that, in fact, Don Junior was in Twitter communication with WikiLeaks, forwarded an e-mail about that to Jared Kushner, and Jared Kushner forwarded that e-mail on to Hope Hicks. His lawyer confirmed that in the same letter I just read to you.
And that`s really important because it has people in Congress wanting Jared Kushner to come back and testify about why he said he didn`t remember something that he clearly knew about and forwarded an e-mail about.
And it`s really important that the campaign was in communication with WikiLeaks, obviously, because WikiLeaks was in receipt of those hacked e- mails that Russian intelligence got from the Democrats, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: And then, of course, there was Donald Trump`s very open and public communication with WikiLeaks from the campaign stage, saying I love WikiLeaks and asking them for help publicly.
NBC`s Ken Dilanian, thank you very much for joining us with your breaking news report tonight. Really appreciate it.
DILANIAN: You bet, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: NBC News also reports tonight that one of the people who helped arrange the Trump Tower meeting with Russians during the campaign is ready to meet with Special Counsel Robert Mueller`s office.
According to several people familiar with the matter, Rob Goldstone has been living in Bangkok, Thailand, but has been communicating with Mueller`s office through his lawyers.
Goldstone`s New York lawyer, G. Robert Gage, declined to comment other than to say nothing is presently scheduled. However, sources close to Goldstone and familiar with the investigation say they expect he will travel to the United States at some point. In the near future, as one of them put it.
We`re joined now by Max Boot, a senior fellow for national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and a former foreign policy adviser for the McCain, Romney, and Rubio presidential campaigns.
Also with us, Betsy Woodruff, a politics reporter for "The Daily Beast."
And, Max, here we have Jared Kushner having said he knew nothing about contact of WikiLeaks. Here`s an e-mail showing him clearly aware of it to the point where he`s forwarding an e-mail about contact with WikiLeaks.
MAX BOOT, JEANE J. KIRKPATRICK SENIOR FELLOW FOR NATIONAL SECURITY STUDIES, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Right. I mean, Lawrence, it seems just like pretty much every day, another lie from the Trump folks about their connections with Russia is exposed, right? I mean, have they ever told the truth in the slightest sense about this, and why are they lying?
Keep in mind the bigger picture, too, which is that it was only a few days ago that Donald Trump, himself, was in Vietnam, meeting with Vladimir Putin. And what did he do after this meeting with Putin? He comes away saying Putin denies having hacked the DNC and I believe him. And the professionals who run the American intelligence community, they`re a bunch of hacks, political hacks, because they said the Russians hacked.
So, you know, Donald Trump, himself, is lending credence to this notion that there was collusion. And then we`re seeing evidence of that collusion emerge almost every single day.
O`DONNELL: And, Betsy, the -- here`s Jared Kushner who has to revise his testimony, in effect, sequentially. It`s almost one of the most reliable things in the investigation, is that the Jared Kushner statement on X will be different a month from now.
BETSY WOODRUFF, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE DAILY BEAST: And on top of that, we have now seen both the Republican and the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee actually publicly call out Jared Kushner, just this past week for what they say is failure to turn over documents that they asked for that related to communications between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks, or related to WikiLeaks.
That`s really important because we`re seeing not just a lot of general frustration directed at Jared Kushner over his failure to reveal certain communications and certain contacts with folks who are linked to the Russian government.
We`re seeing Chuck Grassley, who is one of the most powerful Republican senators, actually indicate or suggest that he thinks Jared Kushner, one of the President`s top advisers, hasn`t been entirely honest with him.
This criticism that Kushner is getting when it comes to his honesty and his forthrightness is not a partisan criticism. It`s coming from both sides, and that`s an incredibly important development that we have seen play out this week. And that, I think, is going to have ramifications for quite some time, going forward.
O`DONNELL: And, Max Boot, there`s real criminal liability here for Jared Kushner because he, apparently, was under oath when he said that he was not familiar with any attempts by WikiLeaks to contact the campaign.
Now, they have an e-mail about WikiLeaks and the campaign that he forwarded. So you can`t forward an e-mail without physically forwarding the e-mail. And so, he`s got that.
He`s also got other possible criminal liabilities on the disclosures -- these disclosure forms he was supposed to do for his security clearance. It would seem that he could be a very serious pressure point for the Special Prosecutor.
BOOT: Absolutely, along with Donald Trump, Jr. who is also neck deep in all this because he was also at the center of these various contacts with the Russians.
And we have already seen the way that Mueller, like any experienced prosecutor, goes after possible perjury rap sheet or lying to federal investigators. Very easy to nail somebody like George Papadopoulos and, of course, he is building the case against -- to go after Kushner and Donald Trump, Jr.
And, of course, we know where that leads in the end. And, you know, I think Donald Trump, himself, knows where that leads. And that`s why I think we have to be very concerned as this investigation moves forward that Trump is going to think about trying to get rid of Mueller.
O`DONNELL: And, Betsy, we have reports tonight indicating that Robert Mueller is sending extensive range of subpoenas to the Trump campaign. And that means, of course, that any destruction or misuse of anything that`s under subpoena is, in and of itself, a crime.
WOODRUFF: And it`s also an important new report because it very much goes against what the public statements from folks in the White House and close to the White House have been suggesting.
People close to the President and close to the campaign have been saying that publicly, that they this investigation is going to clear the President`s name, that they think that they`re trying to speed it up, try to get things done even as early as Thanksgiving, according to one of the attorneys working with the President, because they think there is nothing to see here.
The fact that Mueller had actually subpoenaed the Trump campaign indicates that the Trump campaign might potentially be in possession of documents that they failed to turn over to Mueller`s team.
That suggests that the sunny view of this investigation we have been hearing publicly doesn`t line up necessarily with what`s actually going on behind closed doors.
O`DONNELL: Betsy Woodruff and Max Boot, thank you both for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.
WOODRUFF: Sure thing.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, the sexual harassment and misconduct allegations against Roy Moore, Donald Trump, and Al Franken.
O`DONNELL: When Roy Moore was a 32-year-old assistant district attorney, he was reportedly constantly trying to date teenage girls who were at least 14 years younger than he was and one who was only 14 years old.
And when he was 38 years old, Roy Moore actually succeeded in marrying a woman who was 14 years younger. And today, she said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAYLA MOORE, WIFE OF ROY MOORE: So let me set the record straight. Even after all the attacks against me, against my family, against the foundation, and now against my husband, he will not step down.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The Republican Governor of Alabama, Kay Ivey, announced today that she will vote for Roy Moore in the Special Election on December 12th. And then she was immediately asked this question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And do you believe any of the women that have brought accusations against Roy Moore?
GOV. KAY IVEY (R), ALABAMA: I certainly have no reason to disbelieve any of them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The Republican Governor was not asked if she believes the more than a dozen women who publicly accused Donald Trump of sexual harassment and sexual assault last year. But that question did come up at the White House today in the aftermath of President Trump`s Twitter attacks on Al Franken.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CECILIA VEGA, ABC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: If it`s fair to investigate Al Franken and the allegation made by his accuser, is it also fair to investigate this President and the allegations of sexual misconduct made against him by more than a dozen women?
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look, I think that this was covered pretty extensively during the campaign. We addressed that then. The American people, I think, spoke really loud and clear when they elected this President.
VEGA: But how is this different?
SANDERS: I think in one case, specifically, Senator Franken has admitted wrongdoing and the President hasn`t. I think that`s a very clear distinction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Of course, that is not true. The President did admit wrongdoing. And in that admission, he expressed no regret as Senator Franken has expressed for his conduct. Donald Trump actually bragged about his favorite techniques of sexual assault when he was admitting to sexual assault.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I better use some Tic-Tacs, just in case I start kissing her. You know, I`m automatically attracted to beautiful -- I just start kissing them. It`s like a magnet. I just kiss. And I don`t even wait.
And when you`re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.
BILLY BUSH, NBC NEWS HOST: Whatever you want.
TRUMP: Grab them by the (INAUDIBLE).
TRUMP: You can do anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Senator Al Franken has apologized to Leeann Tweeden after she accused him of aggressively kissing her during a rehearsal of a comedy sketch in 2006 and posing for this picture while she was asleep on a military aircraft traveling back from a USO tour of the Middle East in 2006, two years before Al Franken ran for Senate.
Today, Leeann Tweeden appeared on "The View," where she read a handwritten letter that she had just received from Al Franken.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEEANN TWEEDEN, KABC RADIO NEWS ANCHOR: It says -- Dear Leeann, I want to apologize to you personally. I don`t know what was in my head when I took that picture, but that doesn`t matter. There`s no excuse and I understand why you could feel violated by that photo.
I remember that rehearsal differently, but what`s important is the impact it had on you. And you felt violated by my actions, and for that, I apologize. I have tremendous respect for your work for the USO, and I am ashamed that my actions ruined that experience for you.
I`m so sorry. Sincerely, Al Franken.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Leeann Tweeden also said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TWEEDEN: I wasn`t calling for his resignation. I wasn`t calling for his career to end. I didn`t want any of that. I just wanted to shine the light and stand on the shoulders of these other women to go, this is not right.
He has fessed up to it and he apologized. And I sincerely think that he really -- I think he took in and realized, man -- that he looks at it now and says I`m disgusted by my actions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Today, we heard from women who have worked with Al Franken in the Senate and as well as one woman who worked with him at "Saturday Night Live." We will bring you what they have to say next, and we`ll be joined by Joy Reid and Maria Teresa Kumar.
O`DONNELL: Today, several former Senate and campaign staffers who worked for Senator Al Franken released this statement.
Many of us spent years working for Senator Franken in Minnesota and Washington. In our time working for the Senator, he treated us with the utmost respect. He valued our work and our opinions and was a champion for women, both in the legislation he supported and in promoting women to leadership roles in our offices.
Casey Aden-Wansbury who served as Senator Al Franken`s chief of staff from 2011 to 2015 released this statement.
In the eight years I have known Al Franken, including four as his Senate chief of staff, he has always worked hard to create a respectful environment for his staff. The inappropriate behavior reported today does not live up to the values I know he holds, and I am glad he has apologized. I have worked in government and politics for two decades and have never seen anyone take public service more seriously or care more deeply about his responsibility to the constituents and the country he serves.
Sarah Paley was 21 years old when she was hired as a writer at "Saturday Night Live" in 1979. She was the youngest writer working at the show. Today, Sarah Paley said this about Al Franken.
When I was in my early 20s, I worked with Al Franken at "Saturday Night Live" and "The New Show." In an atmosphere that was rife with crude male behavior, Al never made me feel uncomfortable. We became friends in part because he did not engage in the macho harassing behavior that was the standard in the workplace in the late 1970s and `80s.
Joining us now, Maria Teresa Kumar, president and CEO of Voto Latino and an MSNBC contributor. And back with us, Joy Reid.
And, Joy, I just wanted to get your assessment of this entire range of discussion that we have been dealing with here now at the end of the week.
REID: Yes. You know, Lawrence, I think it`s really important that you mention the year that the Al Franken incident with Ms. Tweeden took place. It was 2006. This is a year after Donald Trump said to Billy Bush that, as a celebrity, he just starts kissing beautiful women that he likes, and that he feels that he can grab them by the -- you know what he said after that.
And it`s important, I think, to make that -- put that in context as Donald Trump is attacking Al Franken for exactly the behavior he bragged about to Billy Bush, literally a year before Al Franken kissed this woman without her consent and took the stupid picture that, apparently, at the time, he thought was funny. And it was vulgar and the gross.
But the difference between these two men is not just their ages, 66 and 71. It`s that Al Franken actually manned up, admitted he did wrong, and apologized to Ms. Tweeden, which is exactly what he should do.
And we`re seeing this constriction of the boundaries of what celebrity men, and even men just with power and no celebrity, have felt forever that they could do. As a woman, you know that men, when they acquire any money or power, start thinking that their boundaries are much wider. That if they`re interested in a woman, they can kind of do anything.
Donald Trump voiced that literally in the "Access Hollywood" video. I`m a celebrity. Therefore, if I want that woman, I can just go up and kiss her.
If I want to see those teenagers naked, I`m the head of this pageant, I`ll walk in and I`m going to look at them naked. There`s nothing they can do.
Mistreating women as sort of an object that`s really only there for male desire.
Al Franken was also somebody who was guilty of doing that. But unlike Donald Trump, he has the ability to evolve and to admit that that was gross and wrong and to apologize.
Can you imagine how different the world would be if Donald Trump, President of the United States, was man enough to apologize and to admit the wrongdoing that more than a dozen women have accused him of? But he isn`t that guy. He isn`t capable of it.
O`DONNELL: Marie Teresa, your reaction to where the stories stand tonight?
MARIA TERESA KUMAR, PRESIDENT AND CEO, VOTO LATINO: I think that was a mic drop job by Joy-Ann Reid. But in all fairness, I think that the biggest difference is that not only did he apologize to the victim, basically saying, look, I definitely crossed the line and I didn`t mean to, he basically just called an ethics investigation on himself, saying, come and actually -- yes, I actually invite my colleagues to scrutinize my past, making sure that I`m actually fit to serve in this office.
Donald Trump has not done any of that. Not only has not done any of that by any means necessary, but he also has not gone after through the same scrutiny and talked about Roy Moore, who, right now, has allegations against him from a 14-year-old -- from a woman that was -- when she was 14 years old, was groped by him.
So the fact that the inconsistencies and hypocrisy behind Donald Trump not being able to not only man up, as Joy says, but also trying to basically shine the light only on Al Franken and not on this -- the Alabama Senate -- person that`s running for Senate of Alabama is not only unfair, but it also demonstrates what his priorities are. And that he doesn`t actually want to get involved in those waters because it reflects too closely to home.
O`DONNELL: And of course, we will never forget which politician said no one has more respect for women than I do.
O`DONNELL: That, of course, was Donald Trump. And he was saying that when he was also promising to sue every one of the women who, during the campaign, accused him of some kind of sexual harassment or sexual assault. And he called all of them liars, Joy.
O`DONNELL: That was his word for them. We didn`t hear anything like that from Al Franken.
REID: Right. And I think, you know, that it`s -- you know, as embarrassing, obviously, as this is for Al Franken, in a moment for him, it`s almost perfect that he is the guy that this happened to in this sense.
Donald Trump and Al Franken are very analogous in terms of their entry into politics. Al Franken was famous-famous. He wasn`t famous because he kept calling "The New York Post" and trying to get himself on page six because he was just some rich guy who`s desperate to be in the news like Donald Trump.
REID: He was, like, famous-famous. He was on "Saturday Night Live." He left "Saturday Night Live," made movies.
By the time this happened in 2006, he had had best-selling books, including one that Bill O`Reilly tried to sue him for because he called him a lying liar. He had -- was on Air America Radio, so he was a radio star for people on the left who are listening to, you know, the liberal radio network.
So he was a celebrity. And he was acting in the way that too many people with that kind of fame behave. And his celebrity propelled him into politics. He was elected in part because he was famous.
They are very analogous men. But the difference is when you`re a man, if you are trying to be a man and man up in in that sense of the word, when you are wrong, when you have committed wrong against someone else, the thing to do -- if you`re a Christian, let`s say -- and I don`t know Al Franken is a Christian --
REID: -- I don`t know what his religion is. But you admit it. Donald Trump isn`t capable of doing that. So I mean, he isn`t half as capable of that or a tenth as Al Franken is. And I`ll stop.
O`DONNELL: Well, that`s going to have to be the last word on it tonight.
Joy Reid and Maria Teresa Kumar, thank you both very much for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it.
REID: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
KUMAR: Thank you, Joy. Thank you, Lawrence.
REID: All right.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, the events that started the political world that we have today.
O`DONNELL: -- noticed that I missed the last few nights of this show because I`ve been meeting LAST WORD viewers around the country while talking about my new book, "Playing with Fire." Here`s a highlight reel of some of the T.V. talk about the book.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN COLBERT, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT" HOST: Now, you have a new book here. It`s called "Playing with Fire." It`s about the campaign of 1968. What, today, can we learn about the transformation of our politics? Anything here that we can learn about today`s politics?
O`DONNELL: We can see all of the precedents that occurred in 1968, which is kind of where our modern politics began, for what we just saw in the last campaign.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Your book about `68, particularly on the Democratic side, is the only other thing that has made me feel like, oh, right, we`ve done this before as a country. We`ve been this overwhelmed.
O`DONNELL: We had a resistance this big before and it was in 1968 and it was against both the Johnson presidency. And then following, it was against the Nixon presidency. And it was an anti-war resistance. And the -- what was at stake was nothing other than life and death. Everyone over 18, every male, had to have his draft card in his pocket.
MADDOW: You can learn about Watergate by learning about what Richard Nixon did. But if you really want to learn about Watergate, learn about what the country was like and what was going on in the country at the time Watergate happened, which allowed Watergate to end the way it did. And the way to start understanding that is to understand `68, OK?
O`DONNELL: Oh, and there is a little bit of collusion --
O`DONNELL: -- in the victory in the end that is worth -- it`s actually Richard Nixon used collusion with a foreign government, the South Vietnamese, in order to win, in the end.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you look back at this, do you think that our country has ever fully healed itself from this year of division?
O`DONNELL: No because this is where the divisions got locked into cement.
Roger Ailes was a 27-year-old executive producer, which is kind of amazing, of Mike Douglas` talk show at the time. He meets Richard Nixon at that talk show.
Nixon says, why am I doing a silly talk show like this? Ailes gets mad at him and tries to explain to him the importance of appearing in a nonpolitical venue on T.V. and then gives him a big lecture about T.V. and how wrong Nixon has been about T.V.
Nixon loves it, and he pulls Ailes into his presidential campaign. Ailes helps Nixon get elected. He helps Nixon get re-elected. He helps Ronald Reagan get elected. He helps George H.W. Bush get elected.
And then he creates Fox News, and Fox News supports every Republican candidate everywhere. Without Fox News holding Donald Trump up through every valley that he went into during that campaign, Donald Trump would not be president tonight. Without Roger Ailes and Fox News, we would have a different president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: In San Francisco this week, I got a request for a book signature from one of the youngest members of the LAST WORD audience, this 9-year-old boy.
And in Los Angeles last night, Conan O`Brien did us the honor of serving as moderator for a book discussion at the Writers Guild Theater. Conan elevated the discussion with his own extensive reading of presidential history. And, yes, he delivered more laughs than any of my previous book audiences enjoyed.
Conan really was extraordinary last night. He has much more knowledge of history than I do. He was a history major in college. I could go on and on about how brilliant and masterful Conan was last night. Tonight`s LAST WORD is next.
O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s LAST WORD.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COLBERT: And you have a badge of honor, if that`s what it is, in that you were one of the first T.V. political pundits, if you don`t mind that term, to be attacked --
O`DONNELL: I`ll take it.
COLBERT: -- to be attacked by the President before he was the President. This was in 2015.
I hear that dopey political pundit Lawrence O`Donnell, one of the dumber people on television, is about to lose his show. No ratings, too bad.
COLBERT: And then this is even better -- I heard, because his show is unwatchable, that Lawrence has made many false statements last night about me. Maybe I should sue him?
O`DONNELL: That`s my space in Twitter history. I`m the first person, I think the only T.V. person, that he threatened to sue on Twitter. On Twitter.
COLBERT: Really? I`m next. Now --
COLBERT: I can`t even -- he won`t even tweet about me.
O`DONNELL: Yes. No, well --
COLBERT: He won`t even tweet about me.
O`DONNELL: That`s fascinating. It`s fascinating that he won`t tweet about you. What do you have to do to get him to tweet about you? You haven`t gone far enough. I think the --
COLBERT: Say something nice about him.
O`DONNELL: I guess so. That would do it.
COLBERT: Not going to happen.
O`DONNELL: That would do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Stephen Colbert gets tonight`s and this week`s LAST WORD.
The "11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams is next.
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