Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O'DONNELL Date: December 6, 2017 Guest: Mieke Eoyang, Eugene Robinson, Zerlina Maxwell
LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel. You had me at bag over the head.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, ALL IN: Yes.
O'DONNELL: So, we're going to find out tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m. why the bag over the head?
MADDOW: Yes. Well, we think we know. We have found out in little dribs and drabs over the course of the year who that guy was, why he got arrested, what was the circumstance there. But the whole reason it broke in the first place because of the dramatic details. We think now know why they stormed into the meeting, bagged him and dragged him out instead of arresting him like a normal person.
O'DONNELL: So, bagged him as a literal meaning in some arrests.
MADDOW: It has a number of different meanings, depending on the context.
O'DONNELL: We're going to leave it as just where we left it, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thank you, Lawrence.
O'DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
Well, attorney/client privilege is the privilege to refuse to answer any questions about communications you have had with your lawyer and your lawyer has the same privilege, the not reveal any communications he's had with a client.
It is not a privilege to refuse to answer any questions about communications you've had with your father -- unless, of course, your father is your lawyer. Donald Trump is not a lawyer. Donald Trump Jr. is not a lawyer.
And so, today, Donald Trump Jr. invoked the Trump privilege. He told the House Intelligence Committee that he would not answer questions about communications with his father, and claimed attorney/client privilege because his attorney was enveloped in those conversations.
The trouble with that is, the attorney/client privilege evaporates, disappears the second you allow someone to participate in the conversation who is not your lawyer or one of your team of lawyers. You allow a friend, you allow your girlfriend, your brother to participate or hear that conversation -- attorney/client privilege is gone.
And so, Donald Trump Jr. just invented a privilege today. The Trump privilege.
But that didn't save him from answering many other questions today and what turned out to be eight hours of testimony to the House Intelligence Committee in a closed door session. Yesterday, NBC news reported that according to Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, Donald Trump Jr. actively solicited dirt on the Clinton Foundation in their meeting at Trump Tower during the presidential campaign.
Congressman Adam Schiff, the senior Democrat on the intelligence committee spoke with reporters after Donald Trump Jr.'s eight hours of testimony today and revealed that he refused to answer questions about his conversations with his father about that Trump Tower meeting with those Russians.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: He acknowledged having discussed the June 9th meeting and the e-mails that went into establishing that meeting after those e-mails became public. He acknowledged discussing that matter with his father, but refused to answer questions about that discussion on the basis of claim of attorney/client privilege. In my view, there is no attorney/client privilege that protects a discussion between father and son.
REPORTER: Who's the attorney and who's the client in that construction?
SCHIFF: Well, the claim of privilege is that at a time when father and son were discussing the June 9th meeting and the e-mail that is led up to it, they had the discussion in the presence of counsel. The presence of counsel, though, does not mean communications between father and son are privileged. I did not ask them to relate any communications that he had with his counsel. And it -- and I don't believe any attorney/client privilege can shield the conversations that Trump Jr. had with Trump Sr.
REPORTER: His argument is because there's an attorney in the room anything they discussed is privileged in?
SCHIFF: That was the nature of the claim, yes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'DONNELL: Joining us now, Congressman Eric Swalwell, Democrat of California. He's a member of the House Intelligence Committee. He was part of the interview today with Donald Trump Jr.
Congressman, I want to as a former prosecutor as I know you are, I want do go through the attorney/client privilege for the audience, and what happens when you basically pierce the bubble of it by allowing someone to be in a conversation, even with your attorney present. And so, if -- I just want - - if this happened in a courtroom today, if this was actually in a trial, the judge would have ruled instantaneously that the witness had to answer because these things do come up from time to time in trial courtrooms and they are instantly disposed of by judges, saying no, there's no privilege there. Go ahead.
But you guys don't have a judge in your Intelligence Committee meetings who can make that kind of ruling, so you have to endure things like this.
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Good evening, Lawrence.
That's right. You call it the Trump privilege. I call it the privileged privileged.
SWALWELL: Because, you know, only the Trumps would think up asserting this. But in the courtroom, you know, if the Trump privilege were to apply, a witness could talk to a defendant in the presence of the defendant's attorney and then the defendant's attorney could claim that we can never question the witness because they were in the presence of counsel. So, defendants could, you know, instruct witnesses on how to be an alibi, and we can never question them about that. But that's -- you know, bogus. That's not how it works.
And, you know, taken a step back here. If Donald Jr. really wanted to be forthcoming about what happened, he himself could just waive the privilege today. So, it falls now on House Republicans. They -- if they want to subpoena him because he came in voluntarily, they can actually compel him to answer and we can find out just exactly what they talked about.
O'DONNELL: And, the area that you were exploring, was that the area where Donald Trump Jr. was conferring with his father about what to say publicly about that meeting once that meeting had become public?
SWALWELL: Yes. And that's important because we really need to know and I think the public needs to know what exactly was Donald Trump Sr., the father's knowledge of the June 9th meeting and appear that is one of the only persons in the world to tell us that is Donald Trump Jr. But now, he is trying to shield, he and his father, from being exposed on that by asserting and making up essentially a privilege.
O'DONNELL: And there's a report tonight indicating that when Donald Trump Jr. was speaking to the White House about this, he was speaking to Hope Hicks and Hope Hicks, of course, no conceivable definition of privilege. But also -- I mean, we shouldn't pretend there's a definition of privilege to a father/son conversation. And so, this just broadens the openness of the communication that you're trying to get answers to.
SWALWELL: That's right. It's also not the first time we've heard this. They have asserted this before. Attorney General Sessions has made up a Justice Department norms privilege saying that it's the norms of the Department of Justice for the attorney general not to discuss conversations with the president. We have tried to pierce that new privilege by finding out what Donald Trump discussed with Jeff Sessions with respect to the firing of James Comey.
And then, of course, Roger Stone came in and when he was asked about who he was communicating with at WikiLeaks, he made up the I'm going to assert on the behalf of a journalist their privilege and roger stone was not the journalist. And because these individuals aren't under subpoena, the Republicans aren't able to compel them, and we are stuck in this position.
O'DONNELL: I want to listen to something -- Donald Trump Jr.'s public testimony he offered to Sean Hannity. Let's listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP JR., SON OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: I'm more than happy to be transparent about it and more than happy to cooperate with everyone.
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: As far as you know, as far as this incident is concerned, this is all it.
TRUMP: This is everything. This is everything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'DONNELL: Congressman Swalwell, did he tell you everything? Did he -- was he happy to cooperate?
SWALWELL: No. There is a serious gap in his testimony. And one of the cornerstone reasons he was there was because of that June 9th meeting because, remember, if you look at this, you know, in perspective of what else was going on, on June 3rd, the meeting set up. On June 7th, his father publicly stated new information coming out on Hillary. June 9th, meeting occurred, and then June 12th, Julian Assange announces they have Hillary's e-mail.
So, this time frame is important, and if he's not going to tell us what he talked about with his father, he is not being transparent and, hopefully, my Republican colleagues compel him to do so. Otherwise, we have an incomplete investigation.
O'DONNELL: Congressman Eric Swalwell, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it.
SWALWELL: My pleasure.
O'DONNELL: Joining us now: Barbara McQuade, professor of law at the University of Michigan and former U.S. attorney. She's an NBC news and MSNBC legal contributor. And Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning opinion writer for "The Washington Post" and an MSNBC political analyst is with us.
And, Gene, I hope you learn everything you need to know about the attorney/compliant privilege tonight.
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALSYT: I am.
Lawrence, what I think I'm learning about, I'll yield to Barbara McQuade on this, I think I'm learning about the ongoing obstruction of justice that's being committed in this case. You know, this bogus reason, this is the most inventive reason people around Donald Trump have -- people around President Trump have come up with not to tell what they know and what really happened.
And, as the congressman said, if they're not under subpoena, if they can't be compelled to tell the truth and to knock it off, then we're going to have to wait for judges I think to -- who can hold people in contempt and throw them in jail to get some of this testimony.
O'DONNELL: And, Professor McQuade, this is where Robert Mueller has such an advantage over the congressional committees is that he doesn't have to put up with anything like this.
BARBARA MCQUADE, MSNBC LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: No. And no doubt he would not. He would ask the questions. If there's an assertion of privilege that Robert Mueller and his team believed to be frivolous, they would push it to the point where they would either demand an answer from the witness or if the witness refused, they could take it to a judge and they could get a order from a judge directing the witness to either answer the question or be held in contempt.
At that point, the only choice would be to take the Fifth and assert the Fifth Amendment privilege against saying something that might be incriminating. And so, I think what we where Donald Trump Jr. finds himself is, you know, in that trick box, as a public figure, not wanting to do things that might appear incriminating because he understands that he is testifying not only in a legal matter but also judged in the court of public opinion.
O'DONNELL: Gene, I want to take a look at how the Trump fake news campaign is working out there. We have a new poll, CBS poll, saying how likely is it that Trump advisers had improper dealings with Russia? Very, somewhat likely, 67 percent. Not very/not at all likely, 26 percent. Don't know, 6 percent.
And so, Gene, if what the president is trying to get people to believe about this is working, it's only working with 26 percent of the public. You got a full 67 percent of the public saying, it is likely that Trump advisers had improper dealings with Russia.
ROBINSON: Right. And why would we -- why would the poll come up with that result? Why would people think something untoward had happened?
Well, look at the way the story has drimmed and drammed out. You know, first, you know, what meeting? And then, yes, there was a meeting but it was about Russian adoption.
And then, you know, that the story kind of progressed. It came out bit by bit, dragged out. It's been like that with everything we have learned.
Look at all the Trump campaign and Trump administration officials who somehow forgot all of these contacts with Russians and with Russian officials. They didn't forget other contacts. But they forgot all the Russian ones. I mean, it's -- I think people get it. I think people get that this is an obvious attempt to hide something.
Now, people don't know exactly what it was that was being hidden, but I think it's pretty obvious they're hiding something.
O'DONNELL: Barbara, it seems to me when I look at the CBS poll, it's a kind of an affect that I know that lawyers and prosecutors try to create in courtrooms with witnesses, meaning, if you can show that a witness lies about something, anything, or has lied in their lives about several things, you can use that to undermine whatever else they're saying.
And for Donald Trump who has proven himself to a majority of Americans to lie about just about anything, when he says, when he goes out there and says there's nothing there in this Russia investigation, that can actually be the opposite effect to most ears. If he says that, then there must be something there.
MCQUADE: Yes. I don't know, you know, what the poll data says or what public opinion is, but you're right that that is a technique that lawyers use. It's called impeaching a witness because I think common sense tells us that if people have a habit of telling lies, then when they tell us -- they make another assertion, then our common sense tells us that that assertion is probably not true either.
O'DONNELL: And, Gene, it all comes down to Robert Mueller. And we have always known this. So, we're fascinating by the developments in the congressional investigations because they tend to be open. The committee members will come out and say some things, but the reason we're all kind of holding our breath for Robert Mueller is we learn nothing about it as it's going on until suddenly someone's dragged in a courtroom and they're pleading guilty and making a deal or pleading not guilty and trying to work out bail arrangements.
And so, always have to remind ourselves that when we're concentrating on what happened in the House Intelligence Committee today, that's not nearly as important as everything that happened that we don't know about in the Mueller investigation.
O'DONNELL: Exactly. And where it's really happening is inside the Mueller investigation. And, you know, he has -- every time he comes out and does something, he seems to telegraph or to signal to everyone, not only the substance of who he's indicted or who's pleaded guilty, but also, a little surprise. A little something that you didn't know, that nobody knew, that hadn't leaked out.
And I think -- I don't -- again, I would ask Barbara McQuade but wonder if prosecutors couldn't use the technique to perhaps rattle potential witnesses and to signal to them that, you know, I know a whole lot more than you think I know and you don't know all of what I know.
O'DONNELL: Barbara, go ahead.
MCQUADE: Yes. You know, I don't know that Robert Mueller feels the need to rattle anybody. I think he has so much power that people are adequately rattled but I think there's deliberate, strategic things he does as Eugene suggests. You know, referring in -- filing these documents called statement of the offense with a lot of detail, identifying officials by title, you know, senior Trump transition team official, very senior Trump team transition official -- those are telegraphing to the people, they know who they are and I think it's a message to say, if you want to cooperate, we know who you are, too, maybe now's the time to come in the door.
O'DONNELL: Barbara McQuade and Eugene Robinson, thank you both for joining us tonight.
MCQUADE: Thank you.
O'DONNELL: Coming up, Michael Flynn was texting about a Russian deal 11 minutes after Donald Trump took the oath of office. And "New York Times" columnist Tom Friedman will join us to discuss the president's announcement on Jerusalem today, a decision that even a Trump friend called insane.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'DONNELL: That announcement met with praise by Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu, and by criticism almost everywhere else around the world and the Trump White House. It's insane, we're all resistant, said one Trump confidant according to "The Washington Post." He doesn't realize what all he could trigger by doing this.
"The New York Times" columnist Thomas Friedman who has been covering the Middle East for three decades wrote, I've never seen a president give up so much to so many for so little. Every Israeli government since its founding has craved United States recognition of Jerusalem as its capital and every United States government has refrained from doing, arguing that such a recognition should come only in the wake of an agreed final status peace accord of Israelis and Palestinians.
Today, Trump just gave it away. Why in the world would you just give this away for free and not even use it as a lever to advance the prospect of an Israeli-Palestinian deal?
The short answer in Tom Friedman's words, Trump is a chump.
Joining us now, Thomas Friedman, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for "The New York Times" and author of "The New York Times" bestseller, "Thank You For Being Late: An Optimist Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations."
And, Tom, you're the first person I wanted to talk to as soon as we knew this announcement was coming. Let's get your reaction to the entirety of what the president did today.
THOMAS FRIEDMAN, COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, Lawrence, what I've tried to focus on is really the huge lost opportunity here. I don't stand in eternal opposition to recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital, whether it's Israel alone, divided with Palestinians, whatever they work out.
But in service of that final working out, we had a chance here to actually trade something. To come to Netanyahu and say, look, you want recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital from the United States. Every Israeli government for the last seven years has wanted that.
Well, I'm a dealmaker. My name is Donald Trump. And here's the deal, Bibi. I will give you that recognition, but in return, I want you to announce that you will freeze all settlement building in the West Bank beyond the blocks, beyond those areas of the West Bank, about 5 percent, that we both sides pretty much know will go to Israel in a peace deal and be swapped for other Palestinian land.
Now, why is that important to do? Because had Trump done that, he actually would be advancing the peace process. He would be doing something that the Palestinians would really have supported. He would be doing something that Bibi could have gone to his cabinet and said, look, I never wanted to do this freeze but look what I got. I got recognition of Jerusalem as our capital.
The Arab world would have applauded. We would have actually used this -- this question of Jerusalem in service of the peace process. Instead of doing that, Trump just gave it away for free. He just gave it away for free. One of the crown jewels of American diplomatic real estate.
O'DONNELL: Let's listen to former Ambassador Ryan Crocker said about this today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMBASSADOR RYAN CROCKER, FORMER AMBASSADOR TO SYRIA, IRAQ, AFGHANISTAN, LEBANON & PAKISTAN: President Trump has managed to do the extraordinary. He has united Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Jordan on a particular issue, and it is the condemnation of this step.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'DONNELL: And, Tom, I'm particularly interested in Saudi Arabia in that list, especially given your recent writings and reports from Saudi Arabia about the modernization, the progress that we can see developing there. How this might affect that.
FRIEDMAN: Well, you know, why it's so important, you know, these people have a view, Lawrence, the Trump people, somehow because the Sunni Arabs like Trump, of course, they like Trump because he's anti-Iranian, that somehow they're actually going to get out ahead of the Palestinians, they're actually going to make concessions to Israel somehow even before the Palestinians and Israelis achieve such an agreement.
I think that's stuff of nonsense. Every, you know, new government comes in thinking they'll get that out of the Arab states. They're not going to do that. They're not going to go any further than the Palestinians go.
And when the Palestinians say they're satisfied, you'll see the Arab states jump in. And that brings me back to why you want to use this as a lever to drive that process.
Now, Saudi Arabia's going through a lot of internal wrenching reforms. By the way, you know, budgets are shrinking. People are going to be asked to work harder. The last thing you want to do is put any of these -- of our Arab allies in a situation where Iran and Hezbollah now will be able to take this concession by Trump, this free gift basically, and basically say, this is -- this is who your friends are, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Jordan.
This guy is nothing but a -- you know, an agent of Zionist state and you as friends of his are agents of the Zionist state. It only hurts them, weakens them at home, and makes it less possible for them to make concessions or work with us on other fronts. It is just stupid. You know, it is just giving something away.
And, by the way, I also made the point in that column. You know, if you're sitting in Beijing right now, Lawrence, if you're sitting in Jerusalem, oh my God, it's Christmas. It's Christmas for the Chinese because Trump tore up the Trans Pacific trade deal, whatever you think about it, it was a huge lever negotiations. He tore it up his first day in office and therefore put himself in a much weaker position to negotiate with the Chinese.
The Chinese and the Jews in Israel today are sitting back and saying, there really is a Santa Claus. His name is Donald Trump.
O'DONNELL: And, you've made the point that the only people who feared the TPP as much as Donald Trump did are the Chinese.
FRIEDMAN: Oh, well, look at -- TPP was a 12-nation trading bloc built on American interests, American values. It eliminated as much as 18,000 tariffs on American exports, to countries who we had already eliminated their tariffs for their imports into our country. And it -- the bloc of nations, those 12 nations together, controlled 40 percent of global GDP.
Now, imagine if Trump had gone to China and were sitting across the table with the Chinese President Xi Jinping and saying I am the head of an alliance, a 12-nation trading bloc, that controls 40 percent of GDP.
Now, let's have a little trade talk. Instead, he threw that out the window before he went over there and obviously you saw what he got. He came home with virtually nothing. We made no progress on the trade front with the Chinese.
So, this guy who presents himself as this very sophisticated dealmaker, it is nothing of the kind because he's ignorant of the details. He doesn't do his homework. He knows none of the history. He thinks it all began the day he took office and he thinks he's so tough by making decisions no other American president or secretary of state made before him for good reason.
And so, you really have to worry about this. We're just throwing away one umbrella after the other right before the rainstorm.
O'DONNELL: Tom Friedman, thank you very much for joining us on this important night. Really appreciate it.
FRIEDMAN: My pleasure.
O'DONNELL: Coming up, Michael Flynn was so eager to help his friends make business deals with Russia that he was texting about that 11 minutes after Donald Trump took the oath of office. We'll show you the picture of him texting right there on the inauguration podium. That's next.
LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: 11 minutes after Donald Trump took the oath of office his National Security Adviser Michael Flynn texted good to go to a man he had been in business with working on deals to build nuclear power plants in a partnership with the Russian Government. National Security Adviser Michael Flynn already told that same business associate Alex Copson that sanctions against doing business with Russia would be ripped up.
We learned this today from a letter released by Congressman Elijah Cummings saying "in June 2017 a whistle-blower contacted my office to provide information about former National Adviser Michael Flynn." The whistleblower told Congressman Cummings that "General Flynn was making sure that sanctions would be ripped up as one of his first orders of business and that this would allow money to start flowing into the project."
According to the letter, when Alex Copson got the text saying good to go 11 minutes after Donald Trump took that oath of office Copson said this is the best day of my life. This is the start of something I've been working on for years and we are good to go. This is going to make a lot of very well think people.
Congressman Cummings office released this photo today that appears to show Michael Flynn looking at his phone during the inauguration. Joining us now, Mieke Eoyang, former House Intelligence Committee Staff Member and the Vice President of the National Security Program at the Third Way and back with us, Eugene Robinson. And Mika your reaction to the text 11 minutes into the trump presidency?
MIEKE EOYANG, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I think this is quite stunning. And what it suggests is that General Flynn was putting in place Trump Administration policy which they may following to this day to pursue a deal on behalf of Russian financial interest that's not on the National Security Interest of the U.S. And I think it's very clear that this Trump Administration is still interested in pursuing this nuclear deal. And even has September people to Saudi Arabia recently to negotiate the terms of such a deal.
DONNELL: Gene Robinson, this investigation has been such a 21st century story with all sorts of modern components that we could never imagine before. But there might be something very old-fashioned here in the Mike Flynn end of it and that is good old-fashioned money making. Mike Flynn, before he took office was trying to become a millionaire or billionaire by being part of these deals with Russia to build nuclear power plants.
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yeah. that famous thing that deep throat never actually said to Bob Woodward, follow the money, you know, I think listen to this story in connection with all of the reports that we have also heard today and I believe yesterday about Robert Mueller diving in to financial records and transactions with Deutsche Bank perhaps. I can't imagine that he isn't also interested in Flynn's potential financial transactions, this sort of deal. I believe Elijah Cummings said he had been in touch with Mueller about this whistle-blower.
We don't know who he or she is but this is as Mieke said, explosive information potentially. And it also echo's what we said in the earlier segment, that the real action, Elijah Cummings and his Republican counter part Trey Gaudy will snipe at each other over this. But the real action is happening in Bob Mueller's office suite.
O'DONNELL: I just want to give the proper credit for follow the money. Of course, the line is too perfect for anyone in Washington to have said. It was written by William Goldman, the screenwriter of the movie, All the President's Men. So of course it's a line from a great Hollywood screenwriter. And Mieke, I want you to go through what a committee staff would do, this is in Congressman Cummings case. Getting a whistle-blower like this before you would go public with information like that, what kind of vetting would you do on a whistle-blower?
EOYANG: So you sit down with the whistle-blower. You hear the story, figure out the background. You test them to make sure what they're telling you is true. Did they have corroborative evidence? Do they have motive to tell you the truth or deceive the committee?
Is there some other reason that they might have an ax to grind? Once you determine they're credible you are concerned about the substance of the allegations and what this person is suggesting is General Flynn was steering U.S. policy in the financial interests of people who had been paying him up until that moment. And it's really troubling.
O'DONNELL: And yes and Gene, you see -- you also get to see in that some of the dimensions of what might have been going on, was going through mike Flynn's mind when the FBI sits him down so soon into the Trump Administration and asking him questions where he decides to lie to the FBI.
ROBINSON: Yeah. You could see a potential motive for doing what he must have known is a really risky thing, really risky thing to lie to the FBI. You have to have a - I think you have a pretty good reason to do so. And we now know that he did.
So, this atmosphere, though, there's this atmosphere of corruption that is hinted at in various aspects of this investigation and what we're learning and the idea that in addition to perhaps serving the country, a lot of people in this administration were interested in helping themselves in ways that are just brazen and just frankly shocking.
O'DONNELL: Eugene Robinson and Mieke Eoyang, thank you both for joining us, really appreciate it.
ROBINSON: Thanks Lawrence.
EOYANG: Thank you.
O'DONNELL: Coming up, will the United States Senate become a zero tolerance zone for sexual harassment and sexual harassment accusations? That's next.
O'DONNELL: Politics isn't fair. That's something you have to learn getting into politics, especially getting into it professionally. And one way you learn it is when you see things happen to politicians who you like that can ruin their careers, that other politicians have gotten away with the same thing or been treated differently on the same thing.
Ad I first saw that in 1988 when Gary Hart as a Presidential Candidate was taken down by his affair that he was caught having and that was after generations of politicians never even being questioned about things like that. And that's when I first realized well it's not fair. It doesn't matter that it never happened to anyone before Gary Hart. And then we have seen things happen over the years to other people, Senator Bob Packwood, for example, basically almost expelled from the Senate, had to resign over a series of sexual harassment accusations that Senators had been getting away with since the Senate was invented.
He was the first one to be faced with something like that because politics isn't fair in the sense that it isn't consistent. And what happens to one isn't necessarily what happens to another. And today, we saw a movement unlike anything we have ever seen in the United States Senate.
35 Democratic Senators called for the immediate resignation of a $ from their own party and now stands accused of inappropriate behavior by eight women, some of them anonymous. The last woman to accuse Senator Al Franken did so in an article published this afternoon by the Atlantic. Tina Dupuy described the moment she met Al Franken at an inauguration party in 2009. "I asked to get a picture with him. We posed for the shot. He immediately put his hand on my waist, grabbing a handful of flesh. I froze then he he squeezed at least twice. I'd been married for two years at the time. I don't let my husband touch me like that in public because I believe it diminishes me as a professional woman. Al Franken's familiarity was inappropriate and unwanted. It was also quick. He knew exactly what he was doing."
A story like that coming out any year before this year would not have caused much of a problem for a United States Senator even a series of stories like that. But a Quinnipiac Poll released today shows what has changed about this. For democrats, at least. the poll asked, if a politician is facing multiple sexual harassment accusations should they resign? 51 percent of Republicans said yes. 77 percent of Democrats said yes. The poll also asked how the political parties were responding to this sexual harassment issue. Only 45 percent of Democrats approved of their own party's handling of this issue.
Of the 35 Democratic Senator who is called on Al Franken to resign today, at least 9 of them defended Bill Clinton in the 1990s even when it was proven that he had sex with a Whitehouse Intern and committed perjury. The Democratic Party line of defense of Bill Clinton on cable news shows in those days was very simply, everyone lies about sex.
That was their line. There was nothing consistent about the reaction Democrats in the Senate had to accusations about Clarence Thomas which most Democrats found credible and accusations against Republican Senator Bob Packwood which both Democrats and Republicans found credible and accusations against Bill Clinton. And it may be that the Democrats have finally found a consistent approach to such accusations and that approach is now zero tolerance.
Republican Senator Bob Packwood decided to resign from the senate in 1995 only after a three year's long Senate Ethics Committee Investigation recommended that he be expelled on sexual harassment charges. That's what it took for Bob Packwood to resign. A majority of the Democrats in the Senate no longer think that an Ethics Committee Investigation is necessary, not even for some accusations not proven.
Senator Franken categorically denied an accusation made by an anonymous woman who says that she believes he attempted to forcibly kiss her is 11 years ago, a kiss that she was able to avoid. Democrats are no longer in the business of minimizing such accusations or criticizing the accusers as many democrats did in the 1990s for Bill Clinton. During bill Clinton's first presidential campaign, one woman staff member famously in charge of handling what the Clinton Campaign proudly called bimbo eruptions by which they mean the kind of accusations now leveled against Al Franken and much worse accusations than that that were leveled against Bill Clinton.
And so, the Democrats are finally moving to an even higher moral ground in this area. It's taken a long time. It's been a multi-decade bumpy ride of inconsistent reactions and they may now have finally found the place where they are going to stand. But it is a one-party movement.
The Republican Party is officially doing everything it can tonight to elect an accused child molester as the next United States Senator from Alabama. In her article today, Tina Dupuy says I'm also no longer defending Bill Clinton. I'm ashamed I ever did. how many professional Republicans who supported the presidential campaign of Donald Trump after he was caught on the Access Hollywood video bragging about his preferred method of sexual assault.
How many of those Republicans will say I'm ashamed I ever did that? We live with the absolute that Donald Trump's endorsement and support for Roy Moore for Senate is something that could never be derailed by any accusations from any woman or girl or child against Roy Moore.
The only thing that could make Donald Trump ashamed of endorsing Roy Moore is if Roy Moore loses. After a break we'll be joined by Zerlina Maxwell to discuss the possibility of Al Franken possibly announcing the resignation from the Senate tomorrow and maybe Roy Moore being elected to that same Senate next week
O'DONNELL: Joining the discussion now is Zerlina Maxwell, the Director of Progressive Programming at Serious XM Radio. And Zerlina I want to take a look at something Senator Gillibrand said a few weeks ago about Bill Clinton because she is the first Senator, the first women, the first Democratic Senator today to come and say that Al Franken should resign. And I want to show the evolution of her thinking by what she said about Bill Clinton just a couple of weeks ago.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it your view that President Clinton should have stepped down at that time given the allegations?
KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND, UNITED STATES SENATOR: Yes, I think that is the appropriate response. But I think things have changed today. And I think under those circumstances there should be a very different reaction. And I think in light of this conversation, we should have a very different conversation about President Trump and a very different conversation about allegations against him.
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O'DONNELL: It's really fascinating because it's almost like you're hearing her make up her mind and rethinking it because Bill Clinton was crucial to her last re-election campaign. She campaigned with him. And so I think we're seeing a big change here, and at the same time you can hear some people crying out for some consistency. That's something you never get at times in politics and in these kinds of things.
ZERLINA MAXWELL, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well I think Senator Gillibrand has been on the forefront of this issue so if you look back to the Obama Administration and it's on us and all of the campus survivors and the survivors in the military speaking to Senator Gillibrand. And she introduced legislation on both of those issues. The CASA Act is one of those bills that hasn't been up for a vote but hopefully one day it will be in terms of campuses.
So Senator Gillibrand has spoken to survivors for the past four or five years. And you can almost hear her in that clip think about what she's going to say and putting it in line with what she knows to be true from what she's heard from actual survivors, right? We're in a moment now we believe women and we blame the rapist for the rape. And so I think that is cultural flip and phenomenon the result of 40 years of feminist thinking and really pushing this into the mainstream conversation.
O'DONNELL: And it seems like public thinking about this only occurs in crisis moments, in giant scandal moments. And this started of course with the Harvey Weinstein expose by the New York Times. And it has just kept rolling.
I want to listen to what Roy Moore said last night in Alabama because what we're seeing right now are two completely different party approaches to this. Let's listen to this.
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ROY MOORE, FMR. CHIEF JUSTICE: It's the first Senate race since Donald Trump was elected, and it means something special. It means that we're going to see if the people of Alabama will support the President and support his agenda in Washington by electing somebody that's not part of the establishment there. I think on December 12th you'll see an election that the world won't forget.
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O'DONNELL: He may be right about that.
MAXWELL: Yeah, I think he's quite right.
DONNELL: And look at that. I mean Donald trump playing a crucial role in this campaign. Donald Trump himself a self-confessed sexual assaulter.
DONNELL: You couldn't have a sharper distinction between the parties.
MAXWELL: Right. Well I think Donald Trump is the catalyst for this cultural shift we're seeing. I think millions of american women heard what he said on that Access Hollywood tape and he was elected President after that. And so that creates some rage which I can't really describe on air without using some bad words. But I think you saw the women's march and you saw the women's convention. Women all over the country are signing up to run for office.
And they're speaking back to this kind of narrative that men can do whatever they want to women. And I think that Roy Moore represents what the Republican Party stands for right now because Donald Trump is the head of the Republican Party. And so it's not a coincidence that they're supporting someone who engages in this behavior.
And they're trying to deflect and make excuses for the behavior. But someone who is predatory towards teenage girls does not belong anywhere much less in the United States Senate.
DONNELL: And Mitch McConnell joined the demand today that Al Franken resign, which is fascinating because that suggests if Roy Moore wins next week then on the first day, Mitch McConnell should request that he resign.
MAXWELL: But he's done a complete 180. Last week he believed the women and now he wants Roy Moore to win this election. And Donald Trump is being I think savvy in how he's trying to campaign for Roy Moore.
He's going to a medium market that's close to Alabama but not in Alabama. You saw Steve Bannon campaign for Roy Moore. So it's clear the establishment and Republicans in Washington want to keep this seat. Certainly the Democrats had no chance of winning a seat in Alabama. Maybe they do now. Doug Jones was a strong candidate and prosecuted the KKK who killed the four little girls. So I think Roy Moore represents the --- what the Republicans Party stands for right now which is predation against women and girls.
DONNELL: And of course we'll get Senator's Franken big announcement and decision tomorrow when he goes public with his decision. Zerlina Maxwell, thank you very much for joining us tonight
MAXWELL: Thank you.
DONNELL: Really appreciate it. Tonight's Last Word is next.
DONNELL: In this season of giving please remember the K.I.N.D. fund at lastworddesks.msnbc.com. And for tonight's Last Word we go to Conan O'Brien.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
Conan O'Brien, COMEDIAN: Russia has been banned from the Winter Olympics. Yes, But don't feel bad, Russia even though you won't win any gold medals you did win the U.S. Presidential Election. Thank you.
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DONNELL: Conan O'Brien gets tonight's Last Word. The 11th Hour with Brian Williams is next. Among this guest are John Heilman who will tell us about the whistle blower story that whistle blower who's talking about Michael Flynn.
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