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Tax bill could add $1 trillion to deficit Transcript 11/30/17 The last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O'DONNELL Date: November 30, 2017

LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel. December 13th. I'm just writing it down right here.

So, this breaking news report that you had Joyce Vance on analyzing about "The New York Times" saying that the president was calling in the summer when he was behaving very erratically publicly and very angrily public, calling important Republican senators trying to get them to stop the Senate Intelligence Committee investigation -- fascinating interpretation by Joyce Vance about how this could contribute to a possible obstruction of justice investigation.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, TRMS: Right. If there are other -- whether or not those -- the actions described in multiply sourced in "New York Times" tonight are themselves actionable in any legal matter. These actions could be used to go -- to serve as evidence to the president's state of mind as to whether or not he really was trying to stop the Russia investigations.

If there are other actionable things he did, this behavior toward Republican senators, which Republican senators are putting their name to tonight in the "New York Times" would be useful at showing, at proving that the president's aim in taking these action was to try to get the Russia investigation shut down and that's at the very, very heart of any obstruction of justice case against the president of the United States or anybody else.

O'DONNELL: And reading between the lines of these kinds of articles, as I do. I'm always looking for the staff -- having been former staff myself working in the Senate, I'm always looking for the staff. One of the things that I'm wondering especially after listening to Joyce Vance talk about it is, what if there were White House staff, White House chief of staff telling the president do not make that call.

MADDOW: Yes.

O'DONNELL: Do not call Chairman Burr and then he makes sure there is no one in the room when he calls Chairman Burr.

MADDOW: Yes.

O'DONNELL: That would add very much to his -- to a description of his intent.

MADDOW: That is one of the very important details at the every end of this "New York Times" story in which they say that, at least for some of these calls, the president appeared to be calling on his own with no -- at least no senior staff with him.

O'DONNELL: And there is usually a reason for that.

MADDOW: Yes. Exactly.

O'DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence. Appreciate it.

O'DONNELL: Thank you.

Well, the Trump tax bill is in trouble tonight in the United States Senate and the proof that it is in trouble came just after 7:00 p.m. tonight when Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell decided to cancel votes on amendments to the bill tonight. And the proof that Mitch McConnell does not know what to do next is that he said the Senate would resume consideration of the tax bill tomorrow morning at 11:00 a.m. Is that when you're starting work tomorrow morning? Eleven a.m.

Now, I know it looks to civilians like the United States Senate moves very slowly, but when you have legislation moving in the United States Senate, every single minute counts and the workday on the Senate floor starts at 9:00 a.m. and sometimes starts earlier than that. And so, Mitch McConnell pushing to at least 11:00 a.m. tomorrow means he does not know. He does not know what to do next.

Managing legislation on the floor of the Senate when you know what your next move is, you want to get to that move as soon as you possibly can. You want to get to it in the next minute. If Mitch McConnell now what he was going to do tomorrow morning, he would have the Senate back at work at that bill, on that bill at 9:00 a.m. Mitch McConnell knows he needs at least all night tonight and two extra hours in the morning after 9:00 a.m. to be able to present something on the Senate floor that might have a chance of passage because right now, Mitch McConnell does not have a bill that can pass the United States Senate.

Republicans in the Senate have been engaged in group wishful thinking about what this tax bill will do to the deficit. It has been very clear to Democrats and to anyone who can think straight that a massive tax cut will dramatically increase the budget deficit. Economists agree on that.

Republicans have been insisting quite correctly that a tax cut does stimulate economic activity, but a tax cut never ever stimulates enough economic activity that creates enough new tax revenue to the Treasury to make up for the amount of tax revenue lost in the tax cut. That never happens. It has never happened. Republicans have been pretending that it is now possible.

Today, the official congressional estimator of the impacts of tax legislation, the Joint Committee on Taxation, issued its report on the Trump bill saying that the Trump bill will increase the deficit by a trillion dollars. After considering the positive effect on economic growth that the tax cut will create and the Joint Tax Committee agrees it will do that, the Joint Committee on Taxation says that the Trump tax bill will cut revenue to the Treasury by $1.5 trillion, but it will also stimulate the economy to produce a new half trillion in tax revenue to the Treasury. So, that it will net out to be a $1 trillion loss to the Treasury.

And so, Republican senators who have been worried about the tax cuts' impact on the deficit, which is precious few of them now, are even more worried tonight. Reports indicate that Republican Senators Jeff Flake and Bob Corker want to reduced that massive increase in the deficit. They would like to cut it in half, to about $500 billion.

That means two things. That means they would have to find a way in this tax legislation to raise $500 billion in tax revenue, which is really easy to do. Simply by not cutting the corporate tax rate 15 percentage points. If they just cut it 10 percentage points they could solve their problem.

But it is important to note that what the so-called deficit hawks among Republicans are trying to do in any version of this bill is that they are trying to find a way to vote for a bill that will massively increase the deficit, either by a trillion dollars or half a trillion dollars. That's what Bob Corker and Jeff Flake are trying to do. Let's make a half a trillion instead of a trillion. There is not one Republican in the United States Senate, not one who is standing by a vow that many of them made in the past to never vote to increase the deficit or national debt, and this tax bill does both of those things.

John McCain who had the courage to vote against George W. Bush's tax cuts because they heavily favored the rich and massively increased the deficit has now decided to vote for a tax cut package that is even worse on both of those issues. Here is what John McCain said when he stood in politically brave opposition to his own Republican Party on the Bush tax cuts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIM RUSSERT, MODERATOR, MEET THE PRESS: Should the president consider postponing his tax cut?

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I would have -- I voted against the tax cuts because of the disproportional amount that went to the wealthiest Americans. I would clearly support not extending those tax cuts in order to help address the deficit.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'DONNELL: And so the question tonight for the United States senate, for Republicans in the United States Senate is who is right about these tax cuts? John McCain or John McCain?

The John McCain who said he was opposed to tax cuts that heavily favored the rich and increased the deficit or the John McCain who today issued this written statement: After careful thought and consideration I have decided to support the Senate tax reform bill. I believe this legislation though far from perfect would enhance American competiveness, boost the economy, and provide long over due tax relief for middle class families.

The Joint Committee on Taxation's estimate of exactly how much the tax cuts that John McCain now favors would boost the economy is 0.8 percent over 10 years. That's how much. Employment is projected to increase about one half of 1 percent, 0.6 percent.

And as to the tax cut for those middle class families that John McCain cares so much about, the Joint Committee on Taxation says overall, the net effect of the changes to the individual income tax is to reduce average tax rates on wage income by about 1 percentage point. That's it. One percentage point.

That's what middle class tax families can expect. That's what John McCain now calls a middle class tax cut 1 percent point. A tax cut of 1 percent. The rich are getting a much, much bigger tax cut than that, much bigger than 1 percent. But for wage income, which is to say people who do not share in the profits of businesses, the average tax rates that you pay will be about 1 percentage less and for that John McCain is now willing to explode the budget deficit and debt.

And John McCain is willing to do that tonight without having any idea what the Republican tax bill is going to look like tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. in the Senate, if Mitch McConnell is actually ready to present his new version of the bill he's trying to create overnight at 11:00 a.m.

Watch tomorrow because every minute that Mitch McConnell delays tomorrow morning after 11:00 a.m., if he does delay is an indication that the bill is in even more trouble than it is in right now. This is the most suspense that a Republican tax bill has ever faced because nothing is easier for a Republican-controlled Congress than passing tax cuts. It's so easy that Republicans always get Democratic support for tax cuts in the House and in the Senate, because getting on board with tax cuts is irresistible to Democrats who win in swing states, where Republicans can successfully campaign against them if they don't vote for a tax cuts.

But this time, no Democrats. Not one Democrat so far has been even tempted to vote for these Republican tax cuts because these are the most irresponsibility tax cuts ever presented in Congress. Something that's sadly no longer seems to trouble John McCain.

Joining us now, John Heilemann, national affairs analyst for NBC News and MSNBC. Also with us, Bruce Bartlett former deputy to security of treasury under President George H.W. Bush. He isl also the author of the new book "The Truth Matters."

And, Bruce Bartlett, the Joint Committee on Taxation issued the truth today about this Republican tax bill and that seems to be what the suspense is about tonight, how to deal with this joint tax report.

BRUCE BARTLETT, FORMER GEORGE H.W. BUSH TREASURY OFFICIAL: Well, I'm flabbergasted that apparently, there really were people in the Senate who thought this tax cut would pay for itself, and that there was going to be no revenue loss. I mean, did anybody really believe that?

I mean, why did they bother to pass a budget resolution permitting them to increase the budget deficit, the national debt by $1.5 trillion if they didn't think that was necessary?

I'm truly flabbergasted.

O'DONNELL: And, John, there is also something that Rachel was reporting on earlier in her program and it was a report on "The New York Times" today. One thing that Republicans are counting on is Treasury Secretary Mnuchin producing a report out of the Treasury Tax Analysis Department showing that this was possible, showing that there would be with what they call dynamic scoring, a massive growth in the economy that would then generate so much tax revenue that this deficit effect would disappear.

Not only is that not ready, it turns out they didn't do a minute of work on it and now, the inspector general of the Treasury is investigating was the treasury secretary lying to Congress about this?

JOHN HEILEMANN, NBC NEWS AND MSNBC NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: The Treasury -- well, first of all, I want to say, I know you would be discussing Steve Mnuchin tonight. I believe he likes to be called Steven Mnuchin. I'm wearing my honorable, my -- this is my Steven Mnuchin suit.

O'DONNELL: That's a treasury secretary suit.

HEILEMANN: I'm thinking, this is the kind of suit that a man wears who likes to sign money and get in the bathtub with the money and all that kind of stuff.

Look, it's reminiscing a little bit of the Trump transition where, you know, the stuff you're supposed to do to get ready to be president of the United States, you don't do and find yourself as president of the United States and you've done none of the work in this case, Steve Mnuchin does not seem to be really engaged in the part of the job that's not the part where you sign the money. Or go and visit the money or touch the money, the symbolic stuff that he seems to like so much. This is the part that touches on the policy piece and nobody suggested Steven Mnuchin is particularly strong with respect to policy and particularly understands the legislative process, and I think that's, you know, one of many things that are coming back to bite this effort now.

The bigger thing, it does seem to me, and we discussed this earlier. You mentioned in your opening, Lawrence, it would be easy to solve this problem, the problem they are facing. The easy way to solve the problem is move the corporate rate from 20 percent to 22 percent or 25 percent. The problem is Trump wants 20, the other problem is the Freedom Caucus wants 20, and they are all looking how difficult the reconciliation will be, conference committee is going to be with the House and you got the slam bloc of Republicans in the House that caused the problem with repeal and replace, the same bloc led by Mark Meadows and saying we're not going to move off 20 percent.

So the easy solution is not at hand when you have the Freedom Caucus and president stuck on that 20 percent number at the corporate rate.

O'DONNELL: And, Bruce, that's fascinating to hear because that would be the easiest number in this whole package to slide, just let it slide upward and to hear that these so-called ultra conservatives in the House won't allow it. What are they thinking? Is it so important to them about getting the corporate tax rate that low?

BARTLETT: My theory is that they think that this is golf.

(LAUGHTER)

BARTLETT: And that the lower the tax rate is, somehow or other you win. But this is just simply ridiculous.

There is no analysis underlying any of what is going on here to explain what the benefits to the United States will be of having the lowest golf score -- I mean, corporate tax rate, other than, you know, cheers, you know, great for us. This absolutely makes no sense whatsoever.

O'DONNELL: John, what happens tomorrow? What are the -- I mean, you're asking me before the show and I'm sitting there having worked on this kind of legislation --

HEILEMANN: You know more about this than any of us.

O'DONNELL: My answer is I don't know. I can't believe this struggle has come to this point in the Senate on the tax cut.

HEILEMANN: Well, it obviously seems to be the case as you review the history a little bit today. You know, this morning, this afternoon, this thing looked like it was on a glide path especially when John McCain came around.

O'DONNELL: Yes.

HEILEMANN: But it all was premised on the notion they could get this little piece of legislative gimmickry into that would be allowed to have this triggered mechanism, that would allow people like Bob Corker and Jeff Flake to assuage their conscience and vote for a massive budget busting deficit exacerbating bill and then the parliamentarian goes back and says, no, the trigger thing is exactly what it looks like to anybody that knows anything about tax policy, it's a gimmick. It's just a conscience assuaging mechanism. We're not going to let you do that.

And it looks like, again, we keep coming back to the question about Mitch McConnell's legislative mastery. You and I have talked about this for a year. Mitch McConnell, legislative master, failed to exhibit that mastery on the health care repeal. He now seems to have put all of his eggs into that basket, that that was how he would solve the deficit hawks problem, and that now seems to have gone away and it feels a little bit like -- I'm sure he has tricks up his sleeve.

But I'm not any more convinced that Mitch McConnell always has a trick up his sleeve. So, maybe tomorrow will be chaos.

O'DONNELL: But you can take the tricks away. Meaning, if you say it's absolutely impossible for Mitch McConnell to move on the corporate tax rate, I mean, he's willing to move anything on the bill. If he can't, then there is nothing he can do.

I just want to go to Bruce on one thing about the Joint Tax Committee report. It is actually a very optimistic report in my reading, Bruce, about what the economic, the positive economic impact would be of the tax cuts that almost one full percentage point of growth.

And I just want to identify for the audience, when an economic model does this, it has to make some assumptions and it has to make really micro economic assumptions about you, about you viewers, about your economic behavior, and in fact, how much money you will spend, how much money you will push into the economy because of these tax cuts.

And I just want -- this is one of the assumptions in this very positive estimate by the Joint Tax Committee. It says, individuals are assumed to make consumption and labor supply decisions to maximize their lifetime well-being given the resources they can foresee will be available to them. And, Bruce, as we know, this is economists idealizing the consumer as being able to see exactly what my lifetime income is going to be for the rest of my life, therefore, I know exactly how much I can spend this year and pump into the economy.

And so, when you have assumptions like that about human behavior, perfect information is another one that they assume, the consumer has perfect information about everything. You know these are optimistic and it still doesn't get the Republicans where they need to be.

BARTLETT: Well, the great untold story is that we're especially at full employment. The big difference between this huge tax cut and every other big tax cut in history is they all took place at a time when the economy was slow, when unemployment was high, and there was some justification for a stimulus for the economy. There is none in this particular case.

And I'm -- one of the things I'm concerned about is what assumptions have been made about the Federal Reserve? Because if this legislation actually has any stimulative impact, a lot will go into inflation, that could lead to Fed tightening, which could lead to the next recession. And I'm sure that the Joint Committee did not assume any recession over the forecast period. But believe me, we're long past the point at which we're over due for one.

O'DONNELL: Yes, there is no recession assumed in there at all. And remember that, audience, always read the economic assumptions in the reports.

Bruce Bartlett, John Heilemann, thank you both for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it.

HEILEMANN: Thanks, Lawrence.

O'DONNELL: Coming up, more on the breaking news tonight that president Trump urged top Republicans in the Senate to end the Senate Intelligence Committee's Russia investigation.

And also, Ezra Klein is with us tonight to discuss his extraordinary article, the case for normalizing impeachment, which is today's mandatory reading.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'DONNELL: Breaking news tonight, "The New York Times" is reporting that President Trump, quote, repeatedly urged Republicans to end the Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election. The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee told "The Times" that it was something along the lines of I hope you can conclude this as quickly as possible, Senator Richard Burr said. He said he replied to Mr. Trump that, when we have exhausted everybody we need to talk to, we will finish.

Today, the House Intelligence Committee met separately with both Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Trump supporter Erik Prince who reportedly tried to establish a backchannel of communication between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.

Congressman Adam Schiff said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I asked the attorney general whether he was ever instructed by the president to take any action that he believe would hinder the Russia investigation and he declined to answer the question. There is no privilege basis to decline to answer a question like that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'DONNELL: Joining us now, California Democrat, Congressman Eric Swalwell, a member of the House Intelligence Committee. Also with us, Mieke Eoyang, a former House Intelligence Committee staff member and vice president for national security program at the Third Way.

Congressman Swalwell, what was -- what did you gain from this discussion with the attorney general today?

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, we see a trend that I think the president is emboldening, which is individuals believing they don't have to cooperate with us. You know, as Mr. Schiff pointed out, he was asked plainly, were you ever directed to do anything that would hinder the investigation and sitting no privilege at all said he couldn't answer that. And then Erik Prince today later in the afternoon, a number of times refused to answer questions and then abruptly ended the interview.

We also saw with Jared Kushner, he called it quits and shorter than three hours said that he was done answering questions.

So, I think the president's attitude is having an affect on the witnesses, which is -- because we're not bringing them on subpoena is really limiting the amount of information we can receive from them.

O'DONNELL: So, Erik Prince cut the interview short. Did the attorney general cut the interview short?

SWALWELL: No, the attorney general sat for sometime but he refused to answer a number of questions citing as he has in the past that he's not going to discuss conversations with the president. Well, it turns out that a lot of his conversations with the president really pertain to actions the president may have been asking him to take around Russia, based on what we've heard from other witnesses. And it's very unfortunate that the attorney general can't be forthcoming with us about what was asked, particularly if it was to do something illegal, which has no privilege in the law.

O'DONNELL: And, Mieke Eoyang, is it conceivable that the attorney general would decline to answer questions like this because they verge on the special prosecutor's investigation?

MIEKE EOYANG, FORMER HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE SAFF MEMBER: If that's the case, then he should be asserting the basis which he's not answering the questions, right? Refusal to answer the questions because he might be interfering with an on going law enforcement investigation may be a legitimate reason to say, hey, I don't want to answer this right now. But he didn't do that nor has the White House asserted executive privilege.

So, basically, the attorney general is just thumbing his nose at the powers of Congress and what's shocking is that the chairman of the committee or those running the investigation are not affronted by this and are not insisting that he be held in contempt and be forced to answer.

O'DONNELL: Congressman Swalwell, what about what we're hearing in the Senate? We're hearing the president of the United States calling up the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, wanting to get this investigation over with, calling other members of the committee, calling Mitch McConnell repeatedly and angrily, saying he wanted this investigation over with and shut down.

Is that happening on this House side? Is here any evidence that the president is making similar phone calls to Republican House members and Republican House leadership?

SWALWELL: Well, yesterday we saw clear evidence of this. An internal Republican memo on the intelligence committee suggested that the Department of Justice should be held in contempt of court for not, you know, following the president's wishes and other wishes that they, you know, haul in witnesses related to some of these bogus Uranium One claims, and then after that memo was leaked yesterday on FOX News, within hours, the president was tweeting about it.

So, that shows some degree of coordination and, of course, the chairman of our committee is recused because he's been working hand and hand with the White House.

So, I think from every level of congressional or criminal investigation, from asking James Comey to make the Flynn case go away, to the tweeting about calling the investigation a hoax, to his pressure that he's putting on senators, it's clear that he is acting like somebody who has a lot to worry about.

O'DONNELL: And I want to read a passage about Senator Blunt who's also one of the senators who was pressured by the president. Said Mr. Blunt flying on Air Force One with Mr. Trump to Springfield, Missouri, in August, when he found himself being lobbied by the president to wrap up this investigation, according to a Republican official familiar with the conversation. Mr. Blunt was not bothered by Mr. Trump's comments, the official said because he did not see them bearing, quote, a sinister motive.

Mieke Eoyang, your reaction to that?

EOYANG: I mean, it doesn't really matter how the listener took it and whether or not the listener felt intimidated on this. What really matters is the president's intent and if he's trying to shut down an investigation before it reaches its natural conclusion. Then, we're talking about potential obstruction of justice and I think that that is something that these Republican senators in trying to walk a political line are overlooking here.

O'DONNELL: Mieke Eoyang and Congressman Eric Swalwell, thank you both for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it.

SWALWELL: My pleasure. Thank you.

EOYANG: Thank you.

O'DONNELL: Coming up, Ezra Klein in a new article says it's time to fire the president who used to pretend to fire people on TV. Ezra's article about this is called "The case of normalizing impeachment." Mandatory reading.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O'DONNELL: If you're charged with a crime in this country, the Founding Fathers gave you the following rights, you have a right to a trial but a jury of your peers, if you don't like the result you have the right to appeal it and if you don't like the result of the peel you have the option to appeal up to the Supreme Court and if you don't like the result in the United States Supreme Court, too bad because that is your court of last resort. And whatever the court of last resort decides is what you're going to have to live with. For impeachment, the Founding Fathers very deliberately gave the President no such rights. The President of the United States can be brought up on impeachment charges by a vote of the House of Representatives. And then he has a right to a trial in the United States Senate in which the members of the United States Senate are the Jurors.

And if the President does not like what that jury of Senators decides, too bad because for the President, the United States Senate is the court of last resort in the impeachment trials. The President does not have a right to appeal to a higher court. There is no higher court.

The President does not have a right to appeal to the Supreme Court if convicted by the Senate in an impeachment trial and that means that the proper grounds for impeachment are whatever the United States Senate says they are when they decide an impeachment case, And for centuries we have pondered the phrase high crimes and misdemeanors as if by pondering it we can come up with a regional standard, an objective standard, a judicial standard about what exactly constitutes an impeachable defense.

In his brilliant new article, mandatory reading entitled the case for normalizing impeachment; Ezra Klein has studied that phrase, high crimes and misdemeanors. He has studied the history of impeachment in the United States Government mostly used to impeach Federal Judges who have lifetime appointment.

And Ezra Klein has discovered that high crimes and misdemeanors means whatever the United States Senate says it means. Joining us now, Ezra Klein editor at large Vox and host of the podcast the Ezra Klein Show. Ezra, loved every word of this, could read it twice. Please go to the first impeachment case that you cite in your article and this is a Federal Judge and this -- and what this judge was being impeached for.

EZRA KLEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: So the first ever Federal Impeachment is John Pickering who as you say is a Federal Judge. And he does not commit really a crime. He is probably suffering we think from early stage dementia.

He's an alcoholic. He rants and raves at people from the bench. He is more or less impeached for conduct unbecoming of a judge. And this is not an unusual thing back then. And by way it's something the Founding Fathers is very clear with the President too.

There's quite a few examples of Founding Fathers considering things that are not crimes. That they say would nevertheless be impeachable if the President did them, firing executive officials capriciously. Not a crime but James Madison says a President who does this would be impeached. So it's very clear at that time in that era that high crimes and misdemeanors is much more than just criminality.

O'DONNELL: And Ezra you make the case in your piece it is arguable that instead of the American Government seeing impeachment as a drastic thing that should be used once a century or less, there is a case it should be used more frequently.

KLEIN: This is the key. We have an attitude toward impeachment that it can really be used in the case of criminality. If it can really only used potentially the 25th amendment for mental incompetence and so we are in this strange position where we are running a nuclear hyper power.

The President of the United States is the most dangerous job in the world. A President who is the wrong person, the extent of what can go wrong there goes all the way over to nuclear holocaust which can be launched more or less before breakfast. And this is the only job, the only job any of us can think of where incredibly poor performance cannot get you fired?

There is something wrong with that. And I will say when I began this piece my belief was that the cost, the consequences of impeachment were too large to consider. And by the time I had finished reporting it out, talking to people really thinking through what can go wrong when if the President who should not be President it became an absurd position to me. Everything else in the economy is against some standard or performance and so too should be the presidency.

O'DONNELL: When I began really studying impeachment for the first time, it was the Clinton Impeachment and I stopped working in the Senate. But talking to the Senator Moynihan about it and others privately and we all believed we would find this Holy Grail of high crime and misdemeanors and what it meant. And the longer every one stared at it they all began to realize one by one, the senators began to realize there's no definition.

It's up to us. We're just going to look at this Clinton evidence and decide for each one of us does this meet our standard as Senators. And there is no other standard. There is nothing written down.

KLEIN: This is one of those hard things. We don't like the burden of interpreting the constitution.

O'DONNELL: Right, right.

KLEIN: we want to do this stuff as we're conducting a s‚ance with the founders.

O'DONNELL: Yes.

KLEIN: But high crimes and misdemeanors is written that way because they decided, they choose not to enumerate impeachment. There is an earlier version of the impeachment power that said what you could be impeached for bribery or treason. And they rejected that as too narrow.

They left it up to us to at least to have ability to decide. But we don't always like that. We want somebody else to make the decision for us because it's easier that way. It's safer that way. But there's nobody there to make that decision for us.

It's on us. We actually have to take that responsibility and by the way, when they create that power, they weren't worried about nuclear weapons. They weren't worried about the American military's ability to project power all across the world.

They weren't looking at a presidency anything like the one we have or consequences anything like the ones we can create. And so we are dealing with our world and our consequences and we need to take that seriously. We need to hold not just leaders accountable but ourselves accountable for what we can do.

O'DONNELL: I think it's clear the Founding Fathers would be shocked there is so much reluctance to use the impeachment process against a president -- any president that has this nuclear codes stuff in his pocket, that has that power they never contemplated putting in the hands of an individual. We could go on and on and on about this.

The way to go on and on is read Ezra Klein's article. Ezra thank you very much for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.

KLEIN: Thank you. Coming up a team of journalists watching Donald Trump for decades says that this week proves Donald Trump is a madman and that's the headline they put out. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: Little rocket man, he is a sick puppy.

TONY SCHWARTZ, TRUMP'S ART OF THE DEAL CO-AUTHOR: This is a person who is now exceptionally dangerous because he is losing his grip.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If there is an incident is this President emotionally and intellectually available to address the crisis? And the answer is no.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He picked a fight with the Prime Minister of our closest ally.

THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I made my position clear of the tweets. Britain first is a hateful organization.

TRUMP: Hey look, I'm president. I don't care.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'DONNELL: Donald Trump is a madman. That is the considered opinion of a journalistic team that has been watching Donald Trump longer and closer than the national news media. Donald Trump is a madman is the headline of the New York Daily News lead editorial today which says after the latest spasm of derange tweets, only those under his spell can deny what growing numbers of Americans has long suspected the President of the United States is profoundly unstable. He is mad.

The sheer strangeness of Trump's behavior leads us to conclude that we are witnessing signs of mania. We had a psychiatrist on this program once again last night who said all of that about Donald Trump in precise clinical terms, even Republican Senators who would decide whether to remove Donald Trump from office in an impeachment proceeding know that he is mad.

Bob Corker has said as much calling the Whitehouse an adult daycare center. And Republican senator Lindsey Graham was one of the first Republican Senators to say Donald Trump is crazy. Donald Trump is a madman.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LINDSAY GRAHAM, UNITED STATES SENATOR: I'm not going to try to get into the mind of Donald Trump because I don't think there is a whole lot of space there. I think he's a kook. I think he's crazy. I think he's unfit for office.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'DONNELL: A kook, crazy. That was Lindsey Graham in February of 2016 at the beginning of the presidential season saying Trump is a kook. He's crazy. He's unfit for office. And now that we've had almost two more years of Trump kookiness and almost a full year of the Trump Presidency and Trump craziness and Trump proving in office that he is unfit for office, Lindsey Graham now says this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRAHAM: You know what concerns me about the American Press is this endless, endless attempt to label the guy as some kind of kook, not fit to be President.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O'DONNELL: When we come back, Republican Campaign Expert Mike Murphy will help us decide who is right about Donald Trump. Lindsey Graham or Lindsey Graham?

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GRAHAM: I am not going to try to get into the mind of Donald Trump's because there is a whole a lot of space there. I think he's crazy and unfit for office.

You know what concerns me about the American Press is this endless, endless attempt to label the guy as some kind of kook, not fit to be President.

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O'DONNELL: Joining the discussion now Mike Murphy, Republicans Presidential Campaign Strategist who worked on the Romney and the Cain Presidential campaigns. So Mike, who's right? Lindsey Graham saying that Donald Trump is a kook. He's crazy. He's unfit for office or this other guy named Lindsay Graham who says no one should ever say that the President is a kook or fit for office.

MIKE MURPY, MSNBC CONTRINUTOR: Well Lindsey is my friend. And I'm personally, particularly sympathetic to version one of those sound bytes. But I'll defend Lindsey a bit because you have to look at context. The two guys who were toughest on Trump early and all through the campaign were Lindsay Graham and Jeb Bush. The rest of them were in witness protection. But then they learned the frontal assault didn't really work.

And, you know, Lindsey is a sitting U.S. Senator and Trump is a fact of life. So I think part of what's going on and I'm guessing here is that senator graham now that Trump is reality us trying to become influence and keeping him away from his own worst instinct which we know President Trump can be very, very bad. I think you are seeing a master politician moving around but with the right intent in a crazy situation.

O'DONNELL: Yes. It's a bad move when you use the exact same word one year to the next in the opposite direction. But we know that Lindsay Graham said the Republicans Party collapses and pretty much has to close up if they don't pass the tax cuts. And that's Lindsay Graham's number one priority.

So people in the business understand why he's not going to say anything negative of Donald Trump until those tax cuts are passed. But he has a senator said negative things about Donald Trump. And Trump - that Mike doesn't Trump have to worry about when assuming the tax cuts passed that the Lindsey Graham are liberated and the Republicans who wanted something out him are not looking for anything else at that point. And he becomes much less protected from criticism.

MURPHY: I think absolutely. It is a shotgun marriage and when you know, what I think is going happen is we are going to enter an incredible mid turbulent election where were going to have a big national debate about all these. And the Republicans are and I say as a Respondent: operative the leadership vibes I get particularly in the House so they're terrified about losing our majority.

So the President, I think is quite capable of deciding to triangulate himself into threatening to run as an independent or something like that and ditching the Republican establishment who are already extremely nervous of Donald Trump and believe that they're down to nothing now but the Republican base because President Trump has chased all the swing voters away. He's of course never going to get any of the Democrats.

So they look at Republican base in their point of view. I am not sure if I agree with this, and well we didn't Obamacare repealed. So we damn well need to get a tax cut even if we have to pass the New York City phone book or something so we can go back in our safe district and at least argue to the party's faithful that there - there is something and try to cling to that rock to survive the midterm election.

So that is what's it's created this as Lindsey said this imperative to pass something. But now we're finding out in the last 24 hours how hard it is to get the fiscal hawks and Republican Party to get on board, something, that you know has more than a few from the Republican point of view, at least a conservative point of view as I came up in the party of ideological problems particularly on the spending side.

O'DONNELL: Mike, a major headline American Newspaper in this case the New York Daily News Editorial Headline, the President is a madman. We've never seen that before. And that maybe the first of a series of such editorial headlines around the country.

MURPHY: It is astounding that we are debating the mental health of an American President. But if you look at this week you know alienated -- our relations with our closest ally are the worst it has been for 100 years. We've got an American President for the first time I think ever disinvited from visiting London.

We have had that problem with other countries that he's alienated. Not to mention just the juvenile name calling. I mean I'm to the point where I think his twitter feed has become a threat to the national interest of the United States. So I'm not qualified to judge. But we are in new territory here. This is a - this is a new situation. And this debate is only going to continue I think as we enter what will be a political civil war over Donald Trump in the midterm elections.

O'DONNELL: More madman editorials to come. Mike Murphy, thank you very much for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.

MURPHY: Thank You, Lawrence.

O'DONNELL: Tonight's Last Word is next.

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O'DONNELL: Just in the last 24 hours we have raised $57,357 thanks entirely to you generosity and kindness to the KIND Fund, Kids in Need of Desk, and The program that we use to deliver desks to schools in Malawi where the kids have never seen desks.

We also provide scholarships for girls to attend high school. I want to read one tweet in the last that we got overnight. It's from I'm with her. It says Lawrence, I have nine children. I have donated a desk in each of their names for the past two years. They were thrilled to share their gift from me with needy kids. My youngest, Wes, 10 said to me, grand mom, you could not have given me a better gift. Thank for KIND from a retired teacher. That is something I love about the KIND Fund.

Wes you are the greatest. 10 year old kids love this because they see the imagery of those kids their own age on the floor in those schools in Malawi. And they want to help and teacher and retired teachers have always been strong supporters of this because they know how important their classroom is and how much the classroom has improved by those desks, can't thank you enough.

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