Reaction to Trump's support of Moore Trasncript 11/22/17 The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell

Guests: Tim Miller, Indira Lakshmanan, David Jolly

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: November 22, 2017 Guest: Tim Miller, Indira Lakshmanan, David Jolly

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel. And I am, of course, eternally grateful for you saying "good evening" to me every night that we do this together.

You know, the really name of the show should be riding the Rachel wave with Lawrence O`Donnell. That`s what I`m doing at 10:00.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: That`s absurd, my friend. But thank you for saying so, my dear.

O`DONNELL: Get out of that building and start the day off, start the vacation right now. Thank you.

MADDOW: I`m pre-full. I`m already thinking about it. Thank you, dear.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Well, President Trump`s hometown newspaper "The New York Daily News" hates Donald Trump. OK? They hate Donald Trump. And so, this was their front page headline today which was predictable for "The New York Daily News." I`m with perv. Trump endorsed accused kid molester Moore.

Now, Donald Trump`s other hometown tabloid newspaper, "The New York Ppost," loves Donald Trump. "The New York Post" is owned by Rupert Murdoch and the paper is under a clear editorial order to love everything Donald Trump says and does -- until today.

When even the Trump worshipping "The New York Post" ran basically the same headline as "The Daily News," I`m with the perv, Trump backs Roy Moore.

Donald Trump is unique among American politics. He is the only one who`s admitted and boasted about his preferred methods of sexual assault. He did that on the famous "Access Hollywood" video grabbing women any way he wanted including the most sexually assaultive way of grabbing a woman.

So, it was no surprise to anyone that Donald Trump has sided with the perv as the New York tabloids put it because in Trump world, nothing is more forgivable or understandable or even worthy of boasting about than sexual assault.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Mr. President, is an accused child molester better than a Democrat? Is an accused child molester --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, he denies it. Look, he denies it. I mean, if you look at what is really going on, and you look at the things that have happened over the last 48 hours, he totally denies it. He says it didn`t happen and, you know, you have to listen to him, also. You`re talking about -- he said 40 years ago this did not happen so, you know?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: With the special election in Alabama only 20 days away, Roy Moore has not dared to have a public event since last Thursday. The campaign announced today that the communications director resigned, which brings the campaign staff down to six people.

Last night an interview on a conservative radio show, Roy Moore did his best imitation of Donald Trump.

I guess we don`t have it. That was Roy Moore -- let`s see if I can find it here. That was Roy Moore saying: I have great regard for women. I regard women`s rights. I regard women`s rights.

That, of course, was just as much of a lie as this was.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Nobody has more respect for women than I do. Nobody.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Roy Moore followed Donald Trump`s example to threaten to sue his accusers, a threat that is every bit as much a lie when Roy Moore says it as when Donald Trump said it during the presidential campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you plan to pursue any legal action with defamation against any of these people, "The Washington Post" or anybody regardless? Because some people believe that shows that you`re serious about proving your innocence.

ROY MOORE (R), ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: We`re talking about "The Washington Post." We`re talking about the women involved.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Republican Senator Jeff Flake, who is emerging as the conscience of the Republican Senate, said this today.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: I think the president made a big mistake there. I think that he should distance himself from Roy Moore, even if it means losing that seat. If the choice is between Roy Moore and the Democrat, I would vote for the Democrat if I lived in Alabama. To paint somebody else as more evil somehow because he has a more liberal philosophy than somebody who may have been a child predator, I just -- I don`t think that`s right. And even if you lose a vote in the Senate among Republicans, that`s better than being the party of Roy Moore.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: After President Trump re-endorsed Roy Moore yesterday, Republican strategist Tim Miller tweeted, I just donated to a Democrat for the first time in my life. If any of you all want to do so, as well. Enough is enough.

In an article posted today, Tim Miller wrote: Roy Moore is worse than abuser of children. He is an abuser of children who is also a hateful bigot. This man deserves no quarter, no support, no cover and no seat in the United States Senate and he never did. In this election, it is not a close call.

Abstention is not an option. Roy Moore is a disgraceful, bigoted, deviant, beneath our collective contempt.

Joining us now, Tim Miller, Republican strategist, former communications director for Jeb Bush 2016. Also with us, Indira Lakshmanan, a columnist for "The Boston Globe", and she`s also with the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, and David Jolly, former Republican congressman from Florida, is with us.

Tim Miller, you reaction to the president`s re-endorsing of Roy Moore. Clearly, we understand through your tweet that you actually went to the point of contributing, but what`s your argument to Republicans who say I am going to write in a different Republican name than Roy Moore on that ballot?

TIM MILLER, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, JEB 2016: Well, Lawrence, on this night in 1963, John F. Kennedy was do give a speech where the purpose of the speech was to say that our duties is not nearly to the preservation -- not merely the preservation of political power. And that is all Donald Trump cares about, is his short-term political power and that`s why it was so disgusting when yesterday or two days ago, he came out and gave Roy Moore a clearly somebody that engaged in child molestation cover.

And so, my message to Republicans in Alabama is this. You know, look much everybody has a personal option. If you feel like you need to abstain, I understand that. But the reality is it will only be Doug Jones or Roy Moore in the U.S. Senate.

And Roy Moore is a child molester. One who on multiple occasions abused young women, as young as the age of 14 and he spent his entire career trying to undermine gay and lesbian Alabamans and Americans who just wanted to be with the person that they loved and all Roy Moore dedicated his entire career to was trying to prevent them from doing that while he was trying to court or date as he said 14-year-old girls.

This is a sick person. And so, for me, if the option is Doug Jones, who I don`t really know that much about and seems like a perfect replacement level Democrat, or Roy Moore, a pedophile, it isn`t really a tough call.

O`DONNELL: To show how much the model of the Roy Moore defense so far in the campaign mirrors the Trump defense in the presidential campaign, we`ve seen Roy Moore`s wife come out and defend him just as Melania Trump did in the campaign, when Melania Trump called all of the accusers of Donald Trump liars.

Let`s listen to what Melania Trump said during the campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY: I believe my husband. I believe my husband. This was all organized from the opposition. And we -- the details that they -- did they ever check the background of these women? They don`t have any facts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Indira Lakshmanan, that is basically what Roy Moore`s wife is doing these days in that campaign.

INDIRA LAKSHMANAN, COLUMNIST, BOSTON GLOBE: Yes. I don`t think it`s really getting her very far insofar as I think the people who believe Roy Moore continue to believe him and his wife just sort of bolsters that, but people who don`t believe them, I don`t think she`s convincing anybody.

Look, Roy Moore is at the point in the campaign where he`s lost Republicans like Tim Miller and, by the way, that was an excellent column and I really -- you know, exhort all of your viewers to read that column.

MILLER: Thank you.

LAKSHMANAN: He just went through point by point. You know, he`s lost John Rogers who is his communications director. He lost Representative Joe Barton who basically was himself exposed today for having sent out a nude selfie and wanted to separate himself from Roy Moore by saying, well, I just want to point out, this was a consensual, adult relationship. It wasn`t with a child. I mean, essentially, that`s the low bar now that we`re talking about in the sexual assault and sexual harassment cases.

So, he`s lost a large wing of the GOP. And if we`re really just down to Republicans in Alabama thinking that this is better than having a Democrat -- I mean, I think we just go back to your covers that you showed of I`m with perv. It`s extremely disturbing but I disagree with one of the earlier clips you were showing, you know, Jeff Flake when he says the president should do this, should not back Roy Moore, the reason he has to back Roy Moore is because if he doesn`t then, of course, his own actions come into question. He`s saying Roy Moore denies it.

The implication is I Donald Trump denied everything I was accused of doing with more than a dozen women and you should therefore believe both of us.

O`DONNELL: And, David Jolly, we have actual breaking news at this hour about your former colleague, Representative Joe Barton, who Indira was talking about. "The Washington Post" moments ago has added to that story with the headline, congressman told woman he would report her to capitol police if she exposed his secret sex life, and that is a story about Congressman Joe Barton telling this woman who had these photographs that he is now very embarrassed about, that he would engage the capitol police to stop her from spreading any information about him.

And, David, this seems like something that`s going to be headed to the ethics committee and the House of Representatives.

DAVID JOLLY (R), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Lawrence, and you know this, there`s so much more that is going to break from Capitol Hill and the coming weeks as a result of women rightfully coming forward.

And I don`t want to speak specifically to a case I don`t know a lot about but I know this. Listen, Congress is a place where a lot of different types of people get elected. There are some very good people, but there`s some very bad people. There are some creepy people. There are some freaks, some people you wonder how in the world did they first get elected and people that behave badly.

One of the things John Boehner did is run them out of office, but the reality is, we`re going to see a lot more come of this. You know, what Tim did in his column and Jeff Flake has done is very important, because what they`re doing is giving Republicans permission to distance themselves from fellow Republicans and it`s very important in races like Roy Moore, to give permission to Republicans to vote for a Democrat, to vote for Doug Jones and honor the principle of country over party.

Republicans right now need permission to criticize their own just as Democrats do, as well. As we learn more from Capitol Hill.

O`DONNELL: Just want to --

MILLER: If I could add to that, Lawrence. Just briefly.

O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Tim.

MILLER: Yes, look. Here`s the thing. That is Republican seat again in three years, right? This is Alabama. And so, hopefully the Republicans in three years we can nominate a decent person and there are plenty of decent Republicans in Alabama.

So, I don`t think that voters in Alabama need to worry that this is going to -- they`re going to lose this seat to, you know, pro-choice Democrats forever. This is a short-term choice between two people and the important voters in this election are people basically like me and Representative Jolly, college-educated Republicans who are trying to decide between just abstaining and voting for Doug Jones, that can be the difference of whether a bigoted child molesters is in the Senate or not, and that`s why Doug Jones is the clear answer.

O`DONNELL: I want to bring you and our viewers up to date about this "Washington Post" breaking news story about Congressman Barton, I just want to read the lead of this article. It says, Representative Joe Barton who apologized Wednesday for a lewd photo of him on the internet told the woman to whom he had sent sexually explicit photos, videos and messages to report her to the capitol police if she exposed his behavior according to a recording reviewed by "The Washington Post." The woman spoke to "The Post" after the lewd photo was published Tuesday by an anonymous Twitter account. She shared a secretly recorded phone conversation she had with Barton in 2015 in which he warned her against using the explicit materials, quote, in a way that would negatively affect my career.

And so, Indira, here we have a recording of Barton saying that he would use the capitol police to try to prevent her from doing anything that would negatively affect my career. And when you look back at the Anthony Weiner case, Nancy Pelosi forced him to resign from the House of Representatives basically for material like this. That was years before Anthony Weiner committed a crime for which he is now serving time.

LAKSHMANAN: Right. And you point out, Lawrence, that, obviously, this seems to have a criminal aspect to it, threatening someone. It`s not quite extortion but something like blackmail, threatening someone with legal action.

I mean, look, one thing you point out Nancy Pelosi. Democrats have been quick it seems to me in pushing for ethics investigations of Democrats in Congress like Al Franken, like John Conyers who`ve been accused of sexual inappropriate behavior and harassment. We have not seen the same solid front from Republicans calling for investigations of GOP people.

I mean, I do think for the great part most Republicans in Congress have really stood against Roy Moore, which is important. But again, as Tim points out and David points out, we are talking about someone alleged to have assaulted children, I mean, girl teenagers. So again, that is a low bar.

I just want to say one thing about Roy Moore who continues just today with threatening legal action of his own against supposed libel, against the press, against the women who are making these accusations and this really is not real. That`s not a real threat. That`s a dog whistle to his supporters trying to say, you know, I`m innocent. You know? I`m going to go after them. And its threat to these women in the same way that Representative Barton was threatening women.

This guy is trying to say, don`t come after me because I could do legal action against you. Don`t forget, the president himself Donald Trump before he was president used threats of legal action many times against the media and didn`t actually go through with them. It`s incredibly hard, the standard for libel in this country is very hard. Ever since, you know, "The New York Times"/Sullivan case and the Supreme Court. So I think it`s nothing more than trying to protect himself. It is not real.

O`DONNELL: Here`s more from "The Washington Post" report and remember now, they`re reporting from an audio tape that they have heard of this conversation. The woman says to Congressman Barton, how would you use the capitol police? What would you tell the capitol police?

Congressman Barton says, I would tell them I had a three-year undercover relationship with you over the Internet that was heavily sexual and that I had met you twice while married and had sex with you on two different occasions and that I exchanged inappropriate photographs and videos with you that I wouldn`t like to be seen made public, that you still apparently had all of those and were in a position to use them in a way that would negatively affect my career. That`s the truth.

David Jolly, when you hear that and in the congressman`s own voice and you consider that Nancy Pelosi told Anthony Weiner he had to go, is this a situation of Paul Ryan comes in and does the same thing that Nancy Pelosi did?

JOLLY: It may be. And, Lawrence, listen. There`s a difference between fallibility and criminality. And we are all fallible in our own ways. I certainly am myself.

But we are seeing two things emerge from the national conversation and I think there are very two themes that have emerged. One is we are beginning to see different degrees of offenses. And they`re all wrong. Every single one of them is wrong, right?

But there`s a difference between the predatory nature of it, Donald Trump and a Roy Moore and the behavior of, say, an Al Franken and still wrong but a different degree of sexual harassment or sexual assault. And that is important because as the number of cases emerge, we need to be able to assess who are the different degrees of criminality and fallibility.

The other thing, though, that we`re seeing and this is probably most important, we are seeing a variance of responses. We are seeing Roy Moore and as Indira said, yell fake news and attack the victims and attack the credibility of the women, but we`re also seeing people like Al Franken saying it was wrong, I admit it, I shouldn`t have done it, I`m asking for forgiveness, I want to say to the women, thank you for coming forward and I accept an investigation into myself.

We need to see that emerge in the national culture, men accepting responsibility. That theme is very important. Joe Barton has a choice tonight. Does he own this or not?

O`DONNELL: David Jolly and Tim Miller, thank you very much for joining us.

Indira, please stay with us.

Coming up, before hitting the golf course this morning, the president used his precious time to attack the father of a college basketball player on twitter proving that presidential time is no longer precious.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: We are continuing our breaking news coverage of a "Washington Post" report coming out minutes ago under the headline congressman told woman he would report her to capitol police if she exposed his secret sex life. That congressman is Texas Republican Congressman Joe Barton.

Joining the conversation now, Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning opinion writer for "The Washington Post" and MSNBC political analyst, and Indira Lakshmanan, columnist for "The Boston Globe", is still with us.

And, Eugene, this is an extraordinary report in your newspaper.

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes.

O`DONNELL: The day began with a report that Congressman Barton had some photographs out there of his genitalia that had been revealed online. And I just want to re-read the lead of "The Washington Post" article so the audience can process this. It says that Representative Joe Barton who apologized on Wednesday for a lewd photo of him that circulated on the Internet told a woman whom he had sent sexually explicit -- had sent sexually explicit videos and messages that he would report her to the capitol police if she exposed his behavior, according to an audio recording reviewed by "The Washington Post."

And, Gene, the quotes that we`ve been reading from the recording are truly explosive. There is a recording here and I think we can trust that "The Washington Post" got this dialogue right.

ROBINSON: Yes. I`m sure. Story says that our reporter heard the tape, and so, I`m sure -- I`m sure that it`s right.

There`s a context here that I`m not entirely clear on. I`ve read the story quickly. And so, it`s clear that Representative Barton on the tape makes a threat to go to the capitol police and to start an investigation. It`s not clear what the antecedent is. It`s not clear what happened before that.

Is she indeed threatening to expose a relationship and his -- is she threatening that she will do that if he doesn`t do something else? I`m not clear on that part of the story.

O`DONNELL: That is --

ROBINSON: Exactly who`s extorting whom here?

O`DONNELL: That is something that Congressman Barton alleges in his comments to "The Washington Post." I`m going to read what the congressman said.

He said, the woman admitted that we had a consensual relationship, Barton said, when I ended that relationship she threatened to publicly share my private photographs and intimate correspondence in retaliation, as the transcript reflects. I offered to take the matter to the capitol police to open an investigation. Today, the capitol police reached out to me and offered to launch an investigation and I have accepted, because of the pending investigation, we will have no further comment.

And, Indira, that says to me there`s absolutely no avoidance of a House Ethics Committee investigation, also.

LAKSHMANAN: Right. I mean, that could be headed off by a possible resignation. I mean, Representative Barton had already said earlier today before this even came out when all we were dealing with at that point was a nude selfie, we had said that he would step back and take time to consider his actions and everything which to me sounded like somebody who was sort of giving in and potentially backing out of his seat.

I mean, I do want to stress again he was trying to distinguish himself from these far worse allegations against Roy Moore, you know, essentially saying at least I`m not a pedophile. This was an adult, consensual relationship.

But it is interesting and I think you`re absolutely right that it opens up an ethics investigation if he doesn`t step down before that himself.

(CROSSTALK)

ROBINSON: Lawrence, I thought by the way that we had established with Anthony Weiner that if you`re a member of the U.S. Congress, it is a very, very bad idea to have pictures of your genitalia on -- you know, on the Internet, have them -- send them by electronic means to anyone. And one would think that most members of Congress had learned that lesson.

O`DONNELL: And, Anthony Weiner was sending pictures to people, adults who were engaged in this communication with him. So. it -- and the crime that Anthony Weiner is currently serving time for is something he committed years after Nancy Pelosi forced him to resign.

ROBINSON: Correct.

O`DONNELL: "The Washington Post" reports that the woman said she never had any intention to use the materials to retaliate against Barton and I just want to read once again what apparently the capitol police will find out in this investigation, if they speak to Congressman Barton, because he said on tape to the woman in this phone call, she said to him, what would you say to the capitol police if you get them to intervene?

And he said this. I would tell them that I had a three-year undercover relationship with you over the Internet that was heavily sexual and that I had met you twice while married and had sex with you on two different occasions and that I exchanged inappropriate photographs and videos with you that I wouldn`t like to be seen made public. That you still apparently had all of those and were in a position to use them in a way that would negatively affect my career. That`s the truth.

And, Gene, if that`s the truth and that`s what he wants to tell the House Ethics Committee, I don`t know how he holds on to the seat.

ROBINSON: Yes. I think it puts him in a difficult position. I think both of these people frankly will find themselves in difficult position. I don`t know where this woman is. I assume she might be in Texas. Texas has a law against what is commonly known as revenge porn. So, she could face some legal difficulties. Certainly authorities will want to know how those -- that photograph came into the public eye.

But Representative Barton will certainly be subject to an investigation. And I think it`s very difficult for him to stay.

O`DONNELL: We`ve got to get a break here.

Indira Lakshmanan, thank you very much for joining us. Really appreciate it.

LAKSHMANAN: Thanks, Lawrence. Happy Thanksgiving.

O`DONNELL: Thank you. You, too.

We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Nothing has provoked less original thought than the most thought provoking event in the politics of the 21st century, the election of Donald Trump as President of the United states. What passes for thought in the pundit class is usually simply an exchange of cliches, especially if those cliches were used as effective sounding explainers of any previous election.

And the one thing on which all pundit cliches are based is an assumption about the fundamental decency of the American voter and not just some American voters offer most American voters but the fundamental decency of all American voters. And so it is inconceivable in the conventional wisdom of pundit world, for example, that racists could elect a President of the United States.

And since most members of the pundit class in the 21st century have grown up without personally witnessing at close range anything they recognize as racist and since they live in places like New York and Washington, D.C. At great distances from the voters in the states that tip the Electoral College one way or the other, they live in fear of sounding elitist attributing any negative or nasty motivation to any American voter anywhere.

And so, you`ve heard a lot about those White voters who tip the Electoral College to Donald Trump in places they were hoping Donald Trump would bring back the steel mills and other jobs that have gone the way of the blacksmith in those towns. The latest entry in the explainers of the Trump vote may be the most important yet. It is Adam Serwer`s Article in the Atlantic entitled the nationalist`s delusion. This mandatory reading for anyone to know how we got to here.

Adam Serwer writes, a majority of white voters backed a candidate who assured them that they will never have to share this country with people of color as equals. That is the reality that all Americans will have to deal with and one that most of the country has yet to confront. Joining us now, Adam Serwer, senior editor for the Atlantic. Also back with us, Eugene Robinson. Adam, make the case for us as quickly as you can, the case this has been largely ignored by most of the analysis of the Trump vote.

ADAM SERWER, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, look. I just want to say a lot of these people that I spoke to genuinely struggling. But the solutions that Trump was offering, essentially solutions offers to use state violence against religious and ethnic minorities.

These solutions wouldn`t have appealed to them if they had not possessed some level of racial animosity. They wouldn`t have made sense which is why so many people voted for the other candidate. But it`s also impossible to explain Donald Trump`s victory, you know, without that ideological lens.

O`DONNELL: And whenever this comes up, gene, if you say anything about the racism that exists within the Trump vote, you`re immediately accused of calling all Trump voters racist.

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Exactly.

O`DONNELL: But in an election where he came in second distant second in the 3 million voters and managed to squeak out the Electoral College, every little vote counted and to take away racially motivated votes, Donald Trump wouldn`t be President.

ROBINSON: There`s no way he would be President if you took away racially motivated votes. You know Lawrence, as you know, I didn`t grow up in Manhattan. I grew up in South Carolina and South Carolina is where Lee Atwater was from.

Architect of the Republican Party`s Southern Strategy which began in 1968 which essentially was a naked appeal to unreconstructed Southern White Racism that brought Southern Whites into the Republican Party where they have remained since. It was an extraordinary political move by then President Richard Nixon and it has proved enduring. And so, the idea that race plays a major factor in our elections or presidential elections isn`t new to those of us who know that history. But clearly it is new to some people. They have managed to conveniently forget it.

O`DONNELL: Adam, your piece is possibly the most thorough explainer of the Trump vote and it also -

SERWER: Thank you, lawrence.

O`DONNELL: -- seems to explain why Trump voters stick with Donald Trump even when he fails at some of the policy things he promised to do or just ignores some of the policy promises that he made as a candidate.

SERWER: Well, yeah. I mean, I think it`s really interesting. to the Extent trump pursued a Muslim ban, a crackdown on immigration that has not simply gone after criminals but gone after, you know, dads taking the kids to school. You know, he`s pulled back on policing the police. I mean, to a large extent, Trump has, you know, and he`s engaged in these big culture war type conflicts with, say, black professional athletes or other, you know, prominent black public figures.

I mean, I think in some ways Trump is running the administration he promised or at least in the ways that mattered a lot to the people who voted for him.

O`DONNELL: But, Gene, in another recent examination of the Trump voters and attitude toward him today in Pennsylvania, these were people who were saying they never expected him to bring back the steel jobs but, boy, they really do love it taking on the NFL players.

ROBINSON: Yeah. Yeah, wis -- which is extraordinary. But there it is. I mean, he drove a cultural wedge. And race was a big part of that. I think it`s very clear. He drew a line and said, you know, we want to go back to America the way it was and that to a lot of people meant when it was a whiter America.

And when it wasn`t -- it was a less Latino America, when it seemed simpler. That appeal obviously doesn`t connect with African-American voters or Latino voters but connected with a lot of white voters.

O`DONNELL: Adam, you stress how important Trump`s birtherism attacks on President Obama were in establishing his credentials in many ways with the voters. Y ou say birtherism was not simply racism but nationalism, a statement of values and a definition of who belongs in America by bracing the conspiracy theory of Obama`s faith and foreign birth. Trump was also endorsing a definition of being American that excluded the first black President.

SERWER: yeah. I mean, look. I think birtherism is sort of -- in a way it`s this incredibly complex statement of what the ideal American is not supposed to be an it`s not supposed to be, you know, a black man when`s is son of a Muslim immigrant whose name is Barack Obama. A key aspect of this is Trump proposed discriminatory policies and called himself the least racist person you have ever met. I think the combination of two things is really important, both, you know, saying I want to pursue this racist policy and also being outraged at any possible suggestion he would be discriminating.

O`DONNELL: Gene, going forward from here, there`s the question of how Trump opponents, how Democrats campaign against this and with a solid democratic campaign it seems conceivable that you could isolate this kind of support in such a way that the Democrats could get the electoral college votes they need.

ROBINSON: I think it`s entirely possible, Lawrence. You know? Obviously we don`t know what will happen between now and the next election but keep in mind Barack Obama did win both the electoral and the popular vote twice by much larger margins than Donald Trump won and, of course, Donald Trump lost the popular vote.

So you know, I see this as a reaction to the fact that the country is changing and the country will continue to change. the country will continue to change demographically and culturally and that arc of history is against this sort of backward looking and in some respects out rightly racist point of view that Trump projects for his voters. IT`S moving away from that and I -- will continue to.

O`DONNELL: Eugene Robinson and Adam Serwer, thank you very much for joining us tonight, really appreciate it. Thank you.

ROBINSON: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, President George W. Bush`s former ethics lawyer say that is Kellyanne Conway has broken the law again.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: the former Director of the United States Office of Government Ethics Walter Shaub, is accusing Kellyanne Conway of violating the Hatch Act. And has filed an ethics complaint against her because of an interview she did on Fox New. The Hatch Act prohibits Federal officials from attempting to influence the outcome of an election through the position while on duty or on government property, tied to their official capacity. This is -- and I`m about to submit to you Kellyanne Conway on video, which is something I don`t usually put you through but this is exhibit A i the case against Kellyanne Conway.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: And Doug Jones in Alabama, folks don`t be fooled. He`ll be a vote against tax cuts. He`s weak on crime. weak on borders. He`s strong on raising your taxes. He`s terrible for property owners.

BRIAN KILMEADE, CO-HOST, FOX AND FRIENDS: So vote Roy Moore.

CONWAY: And Doug Jones is doctorial a liberal and why he is not saying anything and why the media are trying to boost him.

KILMEADE: Right. So vote Roy Moore?

CONWAY: I`m telling you that we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax -- tax bill through.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: A Whitehouse spokesperson defended Conway to Politico saying Ms. Conway did not advocate for or against the election of a candidate and specifically declined to encourage Alabamans to vote a certain way. She was speaking about issues and support for the President`s agenda. President George W. Bush`s Chief Ethics Lawyer Richard Painter says this is the second time that Kellyanne Conway has broken the law. Richard painter joins us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: We`re joined now by Richard Painter, Professor of Law at University of Minnesota. He was the Chief Ethics Lawyer for President George W. Bush. He`s the Vice Chair of the Citizen`s for Responsibility and Ethics and Government. And, Professor Painter, Kellyanne Conway said to voters, don`t be fooled. Doug Jones, he`ll vote to raise taxes. He`s weak on crime. He`s weak on borders.

The Whitehouse says she did not advocate voting for or against any candidate. How do you see this?

RICHARD PAINTER, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well that`s just absolute nonsense. She repeatedly said negative things about Mr. Jones who`s the Democratic candidate for Senator down there in Alabama. She was telling voters not to vote for Doug Jones. And she was talking positively about Roy Moore and saying that they needed Roy Moore`s vote in the Senate to get tax reform through.

We know what was going on. She was advocating for the defeat of Doug Jones and for the election of Roy Moore to United States Senate. She was doing it on the Whitehouse lawn in an official capacity interview. That`s a violation of the Hatch Act.

It`s been around since 1939, makes it very clear that a United States government employee in the executive branch may not use his or her official position to advocate for or against a candidate in a partisan election. The only exception is the President of the United States and the Vice President. Every other executive branch employee is under the Hatch Act. The presumptive penalty is firing for violation of the Hatch Act. That is a clear violation. It`s her second problem with the law.

We already have the violation Office of government Ethics Regulations a few months ago when she was showing interest for Ivanka clothing and jewelry on Fox and Friends. And the Office of Government Ethics found she had violated those regulations. This is a lot more serious.

The Hatch Act is lot more serious than showing Ivanka Clothing on the television. It`s a serious violation. In the Bush Whitehouse we would have fired somebody on the spot for that.

O`DONNELL: And so how is the -- how is it enforced? How is the Hatch Act enforced?

PAINTER: At the office of Special Counsel we`ll investigate, Walter Shaub,, the former Director of the Office of Government Ethics has failed a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel. They will investigate.

But in this case we see the violation right there on camera. You just played it. Everyone can see it. I don`t see there`s very much to investigate. She violated the Hatch Act. It`s cut and dry on this one.

O`DONNELL: And does this end up in court, or how is it finally adjudicated?

PAINTER: No, the Special Counsel would come to its conclusions, I would hope relatively quickly because it`s quite clear, and then they would inform the President. And it`s up to the President to discipline an employee here. The Office of Special Counsel could make a recommendation, could pressure the President to take disciplinary action.

But it`s going to be very hard, if President Trump does not want to enforce the law, and here we have a second offense by a senior employee within less than a year, and if he doesn`t want to enforce the law and fire employees who are not abiding by the law, then Congress is going to have to take it up with him. And this is going be yet one more instance in which he has shown he`s not fit to be President.

He can`t supervise the people working for him. he can`t get them to follow the law, And as I say this has happened before with Kellyanne Conway. And the Whitehouse didn`t do anything. As a matter of fact they wrote a letter to the Office of Government of Ethics saying the rules don`t apply to the Whitehouse staff which is absolutely false. It`s a very, very troubling situation.

O`DONNELL: Well it seems with the Whitehouse statement being put out tonight, saying what she said was perfectly legal, that probably will be Donald Trump`s view of it when the case gets to him if it does. Professor Richard Painter, thank you very much for joining us. I really appreciate it

PAINTER: Thank you

O`DONNELL: And tonight`s last word is a very special last word about President John Fitzgerald Kennedy who on this date in 1963 was assassinated in Dallas.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: On this day in 1963 the word Kennedy changed its meaning from sunny optimism to tragedy. The day began with America`s youngest elected President John Fitzgerald Kennedy waving to supporters in the Texas sun. And it ended with the images of the assassinated President`s widow grieving and bloodstained. I described what that moment felt like in my new book Playing with Fire, the 1968 election and Transformation of American Politics:

In the Kennedy`s hometown of Boston it felt as if the world stopped. I was in St. Brenden`s Elementary school in Boston when the Nuns got the news that the President has been killed, the first catholic President, something the older Nuns never expected to see. Now they had outlived the 46 year old Irish Catholic boy who had made them so proud.

The sisters of St. Joseph were the strongest women I knew. But this was too much for them to bear. They simply couldn`t carry on. They closed school early and sent us home.

We had never seen them cry before. We were all crying when the nuns got us into our lines to march us out to the sidewalk. Everyone we saw was crying. Every driver stopped at every traffic light. men carrying tool bags were cry, men carrying briefcases were crying, Boston cops were crying, subway cars were filled with people crying who had left work early to go home and cry with their families and watch the Kennedy family`s ordeal unfold on TV.

We watched Bobby holding his brother`s widows hands that night when she arrived back in Washington still wearing her pink bloodstained clothes. We watched him holding her hand at Arlington National Cemetery. Nothing could ever happen in this world to make us forget those images which were only four years old in 1967 when Bobby`s audiences started chanting run, Bobby, run.

After Bobby Kennedy did decide to run for president in 1968 he worried he might provoke another copycat assassin going for another Kennedy. Jackie Kennedy was worried for Bobby too. Do you know what I think will happen to Bobby, she asked? Arthur Schlesinger waited for her to answer her own question. The same thing that happened to Jack. That`s tonight`s Last Word. The 11th hour with Brian Williams starts now.

BRIAND WILLIAMS, 11TH HOUR ANCHOR: We have news on the Russia front tonight. For starters, what really happened in that Oval Office meeting with donald Trump, the two Sergeis and only Russian media on hand? New details from Vanity Fair tonight on that controversial encounter. Plus a one time business associate of Mike Flynn now a reported subject of the Mueller Investigation. The reporter who broke that story with us tonight.

END

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