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Transcript 12/8/17 The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell

Guests: Neera Tanden, Joyce Vance, Natasha Bertrand, Max Boot, Sam Seder, Mark Thompson

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: December 8, 2017 Guest: Neera Tanden, Joyce Vance, Natasha Bertrand, Max Boot, Sam Seder, Mark Thompson

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: -- American investigators and journalists and prosecutors will now have to fill in the rest of the picture.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening. I`m Lawrence O`Donnell, and this is tonight`s LAST WORD. There is breaking news on the Special Prosecutor`s investigation involving the White House staffer who has spent the most time with President Trump, White House Communications Director Hope Hicks.

She`s a 29-year-old former model who worked for the Trump family in public relations before Donald Trump ran for president. Like most Trump campaign staffers, she would not have been hired by any other presidential campaign.

Here is how Donald Trump introduced her last December to a rally audience in Alabama.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, Hope Hicks is a tremendously talented person. She started off with us right from day one. She used to be in my real estate company.

I said, what do you know about politics? She said, absolutely nothing. I say, congratulations, you`re into the world of politics.


TRUMP: Right? She knew nothing. And she was there the first day. And she was fantastic. And I`ll just say a couple of words. You know, she`s a little shy, but that`s OK because she is really, really talented.

Hope, say a couple words.


HOPE HICKS, WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Hi. Merry Christmas, everyone. And thank you, Donald Trump.



O`DONNELL: Hope Hicks began work at the White House as a staff member on the communications team whose more -- most prominent member then was White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

Hope Hicks has a unique position in the history now of the job of White House Communications Director. She is the fourth communications director to serve in the first year of the Trump White House.

No other White House in history has burned through three communications directors in the first year and gone onto their fourth. And so Hope Hicks is the first fourth communications director in the first year of a White House.

And she would be the White House communications director with the least experience in politics and government in the history of that job, were it not for her immediate predecessor in the job, the unforgettable Anthony Scaramucci who lasted a total of 11 days in that position.

But there is a huge asterisk on those 11 days because Anthony Scaramucci had not even taken his place on the White House payroll when he was fired from that job that he was in for only 11 days.

Or was he only pretending to be on that job for 11 days? We will have to leave all of that to the presidential historians to sort out.

So Hope Hicks is the second least experienced White House Communications Director in history, second only to Anthony Scaramucci. And she is the youngest. She`s absolutely the youngest White House Communications Director in history.

Now, we would show you more video of Hope Hicks speaking if we had any. But she avoids cameras and microphones even more than Jared Kushner. She is in her position because she exhibits, by all accounts, the thing Donald Trump prizes most -- loyalty.

Donald Trump obviously cares nothing about intelligence or wisdom or judgment or experience or knowledge of the workings of government. Loyalty is everything to Donald Trump.

And Hope Hicks` loyalty is being tested now more than it ever has before. According to "The New York Times," investigators working for the Special Prosecutor, Robert Mueller, has interviewed Hope Hicks over the last two days, yesterday and today.

"The New York Times" is also reporting that earlier this year, Hope Hicks was warned about Russian operatives who were trying to make contact with her after she began working in the White House.

"The Times" reports, according to former officials, American intelligence and law enforcement agencies became alarmed by introductory e-mails that Ms. Hicks received from Russian government addresses in the weeks after Mr. Trump`s election.

After he took office, senior FBI counterintelligence agents met with Ms. Hicks in the White House situation room at least twice, gave her the names of the Russians who had contacted her, and said that they were not who they claimed to be.

The FBI was concerned that the e-mails to Ms. Hicks may have been part of a Russian intelligence operation, and they urged Ms. Hicks to be cautious. The FBI`s meetings with Hope Hicks in the early days of the Trump administration are what the FBI calls a defensive briefing.

According to "The Times," defensive briefings are intended to warn government officials about specific concerns or risks.

The news of Hope Hicks` meetings with the Special Prosecutor for the last two full days come exactly one week after Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about conversations with the Russian ambassador last December.

Michael Flynn famously led the "lock her up" chant at the Republican convention last year. And tonight, when the "lock her up" chant actually broke out again at Donald Trump`s rally, he explained to his audience that Hillary Clinton was not locked up because the system is rigged.


CROWD: Lock her up. Lock her up. Lock her up.

TRUMP: Look, it`s being proven we have a rigged system. It doesn`t happen so easy. But this system, there`s going to be a lot of changes.


TRUMP: This is a rigged -- this is a rigged system. This is a sick system from the inside. And, you know, there`s no country like our country, but we have a lot of sickness in some of our institutions.

And we`re working very hard. We`ve got a lot of them straightened out, but we do have -- we really do. We have a rigged system in this country, and we have to change it. Terrible. Terrible.


TODD: The Special Prosecutor now has at least two cooperating witnesses in addition to the possible cooperation being obtained over the last two days from Hope Hicks.

Michael Flynn is cooperating with the Special Prosecutor in exchange for his guilty plea deal. And former Trump campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos, who has also pleaded guilty, is also cooperating.

In an interview with ABC News, George Papadopoulos` Italian fiancee says George Papadopoulos was not a low-level ignored player in the Trump campaign as the Trump team is now trying to describe him.


SIMONA MANGIANTE, FIANCEE OF GEORGE PAPADOPOULOS: He was constantly in touch with the high-level officials in the campaign, and he never took any initiative as far as, you know, unauthorized.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: Constantly in touch, you say, with members of the campaign. Was he in touch with the chief strategist, Steve Bannon?

MANGIANTE: Yes. As far as I know, yes. I know Steve Bannon, Michael Flynn.

STEPHANOPOULOS: He was in touch with Michael Flynn, General Flynn?

MANGIANTE: Yes, as well.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Will the President -- from what you know, will the President be happy with the story George tells?

MANGIANTE: I -- I don`t -- I mean, I think he tried to dismiss George as a coffee boy, so I`m sure he is not to be happy to read that. There are consistent evidences that he was not a coffee boy.


O`DONNELL: Today, the Special Prosecutor`s office filed a status report in court in the case against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

The Prosecutor said the government issued 15 search and seizure warrants to obtain more than 400,000 documents, including financial records, e-mail communications, and corporate records from Paul Manafort and his business partner, Rick Gates.

The Prosecutor`s team also possesses image copies of 36 electronic devices such as laptops and smartphones.

Joining us now are Joyce Vance, professor at the University of Alabama School of Law and a former U.S. attorney.

Also with us, Natasha Bertrand, political correspondent at "Business Insider," and Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress. Neera worked on Hillary Clinton`s presidential campaign.

Neera, I want to start with you. The "lock her up" chant broke out tonight quite spontaneously at the Trump rally. The President didn`t have to lead it. It just broke out because his fans that`s -- that remains their favorite chant as much as "build the wall."

The President`s explanation for why Hillary Clinton is not now locked up, what he said to his audience, is it`s simply because we have a rigged system and what he called a sick system, by which he meant the FBI and federal prosecutors, the Justice Department -- the Obama Justice Department who investigated Hillary Clinton`s e-mail server.

NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Look, I think we know exactly what Donald Trump is trying to do, and he`s been doing this for weeks and months. Essentially, he is basically trying to tell his supporters that whatever the FBI comes up with, whatever Mueller comes up with, is tainted.

I think this is a sign that he knows that they are going to find terrible things. You know, we already have evidence of direct collusion. The question is, what is illegal?

And so the fact that -- I mean, one part of me thinks he`s basically like daring the gods when -- you know, when he -- when people go into "lock her up" chants, when he faces the -- you know, faces a Special Prosecutor who has indicted multiple people from his administration and his campaign and could well indict far, far more.

I do think there`s some karma there. But I think, most importantly, what he`s really trying to do is to create a world in which if he is indicted himself, Republicans will feel like they cannot proceed. And I think that`s just very dangerous. That`s where America is going to meet the moment of whether we have a true democracy or not.

O`DONNELL: Joyce Vance, there`s so many legal points to go over tonight, including the specifics of what was revealed in that information filing today about the Manafort case and all that evidence that they have.

But I want to begin with, from your experience as a federal prosecutor, imagine for us what Hope Hicks` last two days have been. She has spent two full days, presumably talking directly to the prosecutors or -- and/or FBI agents.

Who do you imagine it is from the Mueller team who have been interviewing her for two full days?

JOYCE VANCE, FORMER UNITED STATES ATTORNEY FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA: So we know from some of the earlier stories we`ve heard from witnesses that Mueller actually runs teams in and out of these interviews. My guess is that these teams are probably aligned along some of the different subjects of the investigation.

So you may have one team going in to look at a particular subject matter. They`re showing Hope Hicks a series of documents, perhaps e-mails or other records, asking her who created them, why, what the process was. It is a very detailed, very intensive, and I suspect, for her, exhausting sort of an examination.

They`re building a meticulous case to look at what these records reveal, what her role was, and perhaps most importantly, what she knows about the role others played in particular instances that they are very interested in, like the meeting in Trump Towers in June of 2016.

O`DONNELL: And, Joyce, one more point. She comes from a wealthy family, a connected family that can certainly afford a very good lawyering. We could -- we have to presume she`s well represented.

She`s seen Michael Flynn -- before these two days of questioning started, she has seen Michael Flynn plead guilty to lying to the FBI. I would imagine, sitting there with -- in the presence of FBI agents and possibly prosecutors, that this is someone who`s been advised to not take the slightest chance with anything that could be called lying to the FBI.

VANCE: I think you`ve got to be right about that, Lawrence. We haven`t seen any indication that she has any criminal exposure of her own. That doesn`t mean she doesn`t have it, but it hasn`t surfaced.

And so the worst risk that she faces is lying to investigators about facts that they can easily prove. You have to assume that her lawyer has told her, no matter who else you expose to criminal liability, unless you yourself want to end up in jail, you need to be very careful to tell the truth.

O`DONNELL: Natasha, I want to go to that experience that Hope Hicks had with the FBI, presumably her first experience with the FBI, early in the administration, when they came to her and sat her down in the situation room, because they needed a secure room to have that discussion, where they tell her these people who are trying to contact you by e-mail are not who they say they are.

They point out that these are Russian government contacts that are trying to make contact with her. How would the FBI have obtained that information?

NATASHA BERTRAND, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, BUSINESS INSIDER: Well, they might have been monitoring the particular people that sent her these e- mails. And it`s a really big deal for the FBI to do this.

They would have had to, you know, unmask, essentially, Hope Hicks as the American recipient of these e-mails and then actually go to her and tell her, look, these people who are e-mailing you are not who they say they are.

This is not something that the FBI does every day. It`s quite rare actually. And the fact that the Russians were actually reaching out to Hope Hicks suggests one of two things or possibly both.

The first is that they were potentially trying to place her in a position where she was compromised so that she would ultimately, down the road, maybe have to keep her mouth shut about some kind of Russian connection that maybe she had been made aware of on the campaign.

The second is that they were trying to reach out to her so that they could specifically get to Donald Trump because, as we know, Hope Hicks was a liaison for Donald Trump ever since she really came onto the campaign.

Donald Trump doesn`t really use e-mails, so it was really Hope Hicks` job to field all of the e-mails and get to him the information that he really needed to know.

TANDEN: Could -- can I make one point about Hope Hicks, Lawrence?

O`DONNELL: Yes, go ahead.

TANDEN: Which is, you know, she`s also been part of the communications apparatus that has responded to a lot of these issues.

So let`s just remember when the initial story broke about the e-mails from Russians about that meeting at Trump Tower, e-mails from Russians saying that the Russian government wants to help, there were multiple answers by the White House. Hope Hicks, as we understand it, was part of that response.

So when you`re in communications in a White House that`s being investigated, people -- they have the ability to ask you about the original cases, but they actually also can ask you about the cover-up or the presumed answers.

As you`ll recall, the White House put out multiple reasons for that meeting. It started up it was just about adoption. Then they answer is new, finally, they sort of let out that there were e-mails of Russians trying to help.

And so I think the challenge for this -- the White House is that they have a person here who actually knows about original facts and what, you know, what may well look like the cover-up of original facts.

O`DONNELL: And, Joyce, when you hear that from Neera, when you hear about Hope Hicks` role with someone who doesn`t use e-mail himself, therefore he has to have an intermediary on all e-mail communications.

That`s the kind of person that becomes invaluable in an investigation because that`s someone who is not exposed to the criminal liabilities of what the President might have said in an e-mail but can tell you how that e-mail happened and how it was composed.

VANCE: She absolutely looks like a key witness. Someone who can tell the whole story, who can explain it, who can talk about the President`s reaction, who he was discussing these issues with. She really could be the crown jewel in this investigation.

O`DONNELL: And, Natasha, that filing, that evidentiary filing in the Manafort case today at minimum is alerting people outside of the Manafort case, other potential defendants, subject the investigation, here`s what`s coming your way, here`s how much we`re going to get on you.

BERTRAND: Absolutely. There were dozens of search warrants that were issued in that filing. And also another aspect of what he released today was quite interesting. It actually undermined Manafort`s argument that he really had not had any role in this op-ed, that he had been writing as late as November 30th with this Russian.

You know, he released all the red track changes that Manafort actually made in these e-mailed documents, showing that he played a direct role and therefore violated a court order. So Manafort right now is probably not really feeling great.

He is going to remain on House arrest and he is going to remain on GPS monitoring for -- for the foreseeable future is the likely scenario. And of course, the associates who have surrounded him, you know, throughout his past decades of lobbying work also have to be pretty worried right now.

O`DONNELL: Natasha Bertrand, thank you very much for joining us. I really appreciate it.

BERTRAND: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, tonight, President Trump gave his full, clear, loud endorsement to the accused child molester Roy Moore at a rally tonight. A campaign-style rally. And that is one of the reasons that the President`s approval rating has hit an all-time low.


O`DONNELL: Tonight, a self-confessed sexual assaulter campaigned for an accused child molester.


TRUMP: Get out and vote for Roy Moore.


TRUMP: Do it. Do it.


O`DONNELL: Stand Up Republic, an anti-Trump non-profit created by Evan McMullin who ran against Trump as an independent last year has committed $500,000 to an ad buy in Alabama to defeat Roy Moore.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What if she was your little girl, your daughter, your sister? What if she was 16 years old or 15, or even 14? Would you let a 32-year-old man be alone with her, date her, undress her, touch her, have her touch him?

That`s what Roy Moore did. He called it dating. We call it unacceptable. That`s why we can`t support Roy Moore.


O`DONNELL: And here is how the President made the case for the accused child molester tonight in a rally just across the border from Alabama in Pensacola, Florida.


TRUMP: We cannot afford, this country, the future of this country, cannot afford to lose a seat in the very, very close United States Senate. We can`t afford it, folks. We can`t.


TRUMP: We can`t afford to have a liberal Democrat who is completely controlled by Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. We can`t do it.


TRUMP: His name is Jones, and he`s their total puppet. And everybody knows it. He will never, ever vote for us. We need somebody in that Senate seat who will vote for our Make America Great Again agenda.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Max Boot, senior fellow for national security studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and a former foreign policy advisor for the McCain, Romney, and Rubio presidential campaigns.

And back with us, Joyce Vance, former federal prosecutor for the Northern District of Alabama.

And, Joyce, I just want to call on your Alabama political experience. What do you think will be the effect of the President campaigning for Roy Moore tonight?

VANCE: The President is tremendously popular in Alabama. He`s in Pensacola, which is the Mobile in south Alabama market. Moore needs to drive voters and support in that region. One thinks that this visit will be effective.

O`DONNELL: And, Max, your reaction to what you saw tonight.

MAX BOOT, JEANE J. KIRKPATRICK SENIOR FELLOW IN NATIONAL SECURITY STUDIES, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Well, Lawrence, I have to admit to being mistaken because I thought that had Republican Party had gone as low as it could possibly go last year when it supported, for the presidency, this anti-Mexican, pro-Russian conspiracy theorist who confessed on videotape to sexual assault.

But, obviously, the Republican Party is sinking even lower now because President Trump is now endorsing this accused child molester wholeheartedly for the Senate in Alabama.

By the way, not only is Roy Moore an accused child molester, but let`s remember that he is also racist, bigoted, xenophobic. Oh, and by the way, he`s also anti-American because, you know, he was quoted in an interview as saying that he agreed with Vladimir Putin that America`s the focus of evil in the world.

And if that`s not enough, he also, when he was asked when America was last great, he cited the time of slavery. Yes. So he is nostalgic for slavery.

I mean, this is like a caricature of a far-right hypocrite hustler and extremist, and this is who Donald Trump is endorsing for the Senate in Alabama and dragging the Republican Party along with him.

I mean, this is the complete -- this is the descent of this once great Republican Party into the complete darkness, into complete moral oblivion.

O`DONNELL: And of course, the Democratic candidate to counter Roy Moore is Doug Jones. He was the former federal prosecutor who obtained convictions in the bombing -- the Ku Klux Klan bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama in which four Black young girls were killed.

This is what Doug Jones said this week to distinguish himself from Roy Moore.


DOUG JONES, ALABAMA DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE FOR SENATE: I damn sure believe that I have done my part to ensure that men who hurt little girls should go to jail and not the United States Senate.


O`DONNELL: Joyce Vance, how does that play in Alabama?

VANCE: It plays extremely well. You know, Jones is a middle of the road Democrat. He is pro-gun. He`s got a strong background in law enforcement as a U.S. attorney.

So when he makes these kinds of statements, I think he becomes very palatable to middle of the road conservatives or frankly, to people who rejected Moore long ago not because of these new allegations of child abuse but because he ignored the rule of law, twice removed as state Supreme Court justice.

Jones really solidifies his support among people who care about the rule of law in Alabama with this type of a reference.

O`DONNELL: And, Max, you made reference to Roy Moore`s thoughts about how much better things were during the days of slavery.

In answer to a question about what Donald Trump means about Make America Great Again, Roy Moore associated that thinking with Donald Trump, explaining that he -- that Donald Trump means back in the days of slavery. Let`s listen to exactly how he did that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does Trump mean? What does he mean, make it great again?

ROY MOORE, ALABAMA REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE FOR SENATE: I think it was great at a time when families were united. Even though we had slavery, they cared for one another.

People were strong in the families. Our families were strong, our country had a direction, and we corrected many of the problems.


O`DONNELL: So, Max, anyone who is thinking that Donald Trump, when he said make America great again, meant take us back to, oh, say the segregation of the 1950s, it`s much worse than that. And according to Roy Moore, he interprets it as take us back to the days of slavery.

BOOT: I mean, you can`t make this stuff up, Lawrence. I mean, Roy Moore is like a caricature of this backwoods bigot. He is like this modern-day Elmer Gantry who is a massive hypocrite, a predator, bigot.

I mean, every vile characteristic that any human being could have, Roy Moore seems to combine them in one form. And for anybody who thought that the Republican Party couldn`t go any lower than Donald Trump, well, Roy Moore is repudiation of that belief because they are going lower.

And frankly, I think they can go lower still. There is absolutely no bottom in their descent into the moral darkness. And that`s why I think -- and I say this having been a lifelong Republican. I think the Republican Party cannot cease to exist in its present form.

We need a new central right party because it`s not just Donald Trump. It`s not just Roy Moore. It`s not just the people who support. It`s all the people who are kind of holding their noses and going along with it because in the name of party loyalty.

Well, I`m sorry, there is no party that can command one to support a child molester. That is -- it`s unethical. It`s immoral. It is just so flagrantly wrong. This is not a -- and the party that supports this guy can longer exists.

I mean, this is -- it`s just so offensive, so obscene. There are no words to describe this.

O`DONNELL: Max Boot, Joyce Vance, thank you both for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

BOOT: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up next, Sam Seder joins us on the collapsing poll numbers of President Trump.


O`DONNELL: The resistance to President Trump is getting stronger. A new poll from the Pew Research Center shows President Trump`s disapproval number is at a new high, an all-time high of 63 percent. And at 32 percent, his approval rating is the lowest of any president at the end of his first year since before Ronald Reagan.

Donald Trump`s approval has fallen or stayed the same among every single demographic in the polls since he took office, including Republicans, Whites, those over age 50, and White evangelicals whose approval of the President has actually fallen by 17 points.

Tonight, the President went to Pensacola, Florida to find that minority of Americans who approve of what he says he is doing. And of course, he mocked the vast majority of Americans who would never consider going to a Trump rally.


TRUMP: But they call themselves the resistance. You ever see these signs, resist, resist?


TRUMP: But you know what they`re really resisting? They`re resisting the will of the American people. That`s what they`re resisting.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now Sam Seder, host of "The Majority Report" radio show and an MSNBC contributor. And back with us, Neera Tanden.

And, Sam, these numbers are extraordinary. And when Donald Trump gets himself into one of those rally audiences, he gets to pretend


O`DONNELL: -- that that`s the majority.

SEDER: Yes. He actually -- he let them know that he won in a landslide --


SEDER: -- in the last election, too, which was pretty impressive because I think he`s the only person who knows that. I mean, the interesting thing, though, is that he is -- broadly speaking, his poll numbers are dropping.

But the problem that Republicans have is in those concentrated Republican areas, it isn`t dropping quite as fast. So they are basically creating a classic between a rock and a hard place situation with Donald Trump because the congressional caucuses and the -- his representative, they can`t abandon him. They`re sort of -- he`s a lead balloon for them at this point.

O`DONNELL: Yes. And, Neera, it`s fascinating to see how big that drop is with evangelicals. So he hasn`t -- what he has not done, which I think has been obvious to all of us, is since the election, he has not converted any person who hasn`t voted for Donald Trump.

No one`s been converted to Donald Trump, which is the business you`re in when you come in second in the vote as he did in that campaign. And all he`s done is lose support.

TANDEN: Yes. What I thought was interesting -- you`re absolutely right, he has lost support. That poll emphasized that he has lost almost 20 percent of White evangelicals. Other polls have shown that he`s losing White non-college women.

The tax plan he put forward was incredibly unpopular. His health care plan is unpopular. You know, I think it`s interesting how he is increasingly talking about the resistance. And tonight, he talked about how the resistance is fighting the will of the American people.

The truth is that Donald Trump, in everything he does, fights the will of the American people. Every -- almost every policy he has put forward has been majority opposition, health care, the tax bill, his future plans, his foreign policy is engendering opposition.

I hope he runs against the resistance. The resistance is made up of Americans from all walks of life who want their country back, who`s -- who oppose Donald Trump`s agenda, who supports a democracy that involves everyone, and who see your President endorsing an alleged child molester and says that is not the America I want to be part of.

O`DONNELL: The President, tonight, told his adoring crowd that he has done more to cut regulations than any president since Abraham Lincoln. This is the first time I`ve heard Abraham Lincoln referred to in the regulation speech. Let`s listen to this bit.


TRUMP: In 10 months, I`ve done more on knocking out regulations than any other president in our history. You know who was right up there?

Honest Abe Lincoln. Can you believe it? He was a regulation gutter. Can you believe it?


TRUMP: Abe Lincoln was a regulation cutter. Who would have known that? I said, you mean I beat Abraham Lincoln? That`s pretty good for 10 months.

I don`t know if regulation sounds so glamorous, but I can tell you it`s very important.


O`DONNELL: So, Sam, here is a regulation that Abraham Lincoln did not get rid of. He did not get rid of this one.

This is the regulation that requires airlines to show you exactly what the baggage fee is going to be when you`re buying a ticket. Abraham Lincoln did not get rid of that regulation. Donald Trump did, but he forgot to mention it to the people in his audience tonight who really actually care about what the baggage fees are.

SEDER: That`s right. I mean, there`s a whole host of airline regulations that Abraham Lincoln completely left.

O`DONNELL: He just ignored them, yes.


SEDER: I mean, look, I think there`s a whole host of regulations that Donald Trump has attacked, but I think we`re going to start to see the implications of those. People are going to be paying more for their baggage fees, or people are going to start seeing that their air is a little bit more polluted.

I mean, we`re going to see a series of these, and none of these regulations benefit the American public. We`re also seeing fees at -- and privatization of federal parks. He may be in the lead there, but I don`t think these are things that people necessarily want to hear.

I think there`s a lot of people in that audience who hear some buzz words, and they become sort of a function of identity politics that get checked off. But when the rubber meets the road, when the baggage is checked in, I think people are going to start to realize there`s a problem here.

O`DONNELL: Yes. And, Neera, when people end up paying the baggage fees and discovering what they are, they will never know that it was Donald Trump who decided to mask those fees as long as they could be masked in the ticket buying process.

TANDEN: I mean this is what the beauty of fake news is for Donald Trump. The beauty of fake news for him, which he is -- he`s the perpetrator of fake news. You know, he has a tax plan that hurts the people, the working class people, who just voted for him and lowers taxes -- it raises taxes on working class people, cuts taxes for billionaires.

He calls it a middle class tax cut. He calls it that over and over again. Now, the majority of Americans see through that lie and recognize that`s fake. But the sad thing is facts and the -- the folks in his audience who are going to see a tax increase listen to him.

I think, at some point, they will actually, more and more of them, women perhaps faster than men, are going to see that what`s really happened here is a giant baiting switch. He says he`s a guy for the working class, but he has an agenda of the robber barons. And that`s what we`re facing.

O`DONNELL: Neera Tanden, thank you very much for joining us. And Sam Seder, thank you very much for being back on the program.

SEDER: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Really great to have you.

Coming up, why Donald Trump was invited to the opening of the -- of a civil rights museum and why that ruined it for everyone else.


O`DONNELL: After Democratic Congressman and heroic civil rights leader John Lewis and others vowed to boycott the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum tomorrow because President Trump was invited, the White House now says the President will participate in a private event before the public ceremony.

On Tuesday, the White House announced the President accepted an invitation from Mississippi`s Republican Governor, Phil Bryant, to attend the state`s civil rights museum`s opening ceremony.

Thursday, John Lewis and Bennie Thompson of Mississippi released a statement saying they would not attend the opening ceremony because the President was attending, saying -- President Trump`s attendance and his hurtful policies are an insult to the people portrayed in this civil rights museum. After President Trump departs, we encourage all Mississippians and Americans to visit this historic civil rights museum.

In 1961, John Lewis was arrested in Jackson, Mississippi, the home of the new Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, for using a Whites only restroom at a bus station. According to "The Atlanta Journal-Constitution" earlier this week, Congressman Lewis expressed doubts about whether he could live with myself if he appeared on the same program as his political nemesis.

The NAACP also denounced Trump`s attendance as an affront to the veterans of the civil rights movement.

There is an endless stream of examples of how Donald Trump, throughout his life, has offended John Lewis and Bennie Thompson over the years, but here`s just one example of the President equating White supremacists to the people who protest against White supremacists and racists and Nazis.


TRUMP: We condemn, in the strongest possible terms, this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides. On many sides.

I think there`s blame on both sides. You look at -- you look at both sides, I think there`s blame on both sides. And I have no doubt about it, and you don`t have any doubt about it either.


O`DONNELL: Today, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and the White House agreed to have a private event tomorrow morning where the President will speak. He will also tour the museum. The public opening ceremony will be held afterwards.

Mike Espy, a former Mississippi congressman and Secretary of Agriculture who served on the state`s committee to establish the museum, told NBC News -- I think this was a diplomatic effort that will help solve this issue.

Civil rights activist and civil rights historian Mark Thompson will join us next.


O`DONNELL: If an American civil rights museum were to include an exhibit on the ongoing curse of racism in America, it would include the racist lie that Donald Trump used to launch his political career.


TRUMP: Three weeks ago, I thought he was born in this country. Right now, I have some real doubts. I have people that actually have been studying it, and they cannot believe what they`re finding.

MEREDITH VIEIRA, NBC NEWS HOST: You have people now --

TRUMP: Absolutely.

VIEIRA: -- down there searching, I mean, in Hawaii?

TRUMP: Absolutely. And they cannot believe what they`re finding.


O`DONNELL: Joining the discussion now, Mark Thompson, host of "Make It Plain" on SiriusXM Radio and a long time civil rights activist and amateur civil rights historian.


O`DONNELL: Mark, it`s just -- it`s stunning to me that this guy would have been invited in the first place.

MARK THOMPSON, HOST, "MAKE IT PLAIN": It is absurd. Thank you for having me, Lawrence. It is absolutely absurd. It`s insulting to everyone. The NAACP spoke out, John Lewis, Bennie Thompson.

I had the honor today of -- earlier of speaking at a retreat for the staff of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture, and we talked about it.

You know, when people build these institutions to tell the true stories and history of America, there`s no point in having someone there who continues to want to take us back to the bad parts of our history and endorse someone like Roy Moore who says America was great when there was slavery.

So this is despicable. And obviously, the message was received that he should not be there. He really shouldn`t be there at all. But he definitely should be skipping this one out.

O`DONNELL: And I`ve always noticed that the politicians who are -- who are actively going after the racist vote always try to make it acceptable by doing things wherever they can to let that voter say, oh, see, Donald Trump`s not a racist.

Donald Trump`s not a racist, and this is what they would use as their evidence that Donald Trump is not a racist. Look, he went to the museum.

THOMPSON: Right. Right, right. And it`s dishonest, it`s false. That`s fake news, honestly. And obviously, you know, he`s flailing. Any distraction from what`s going on with the investigation is what he`s seeking.

But since you called me an amateur historian, if I could draw -- try to draw a historical analogy. So to go to Mississippi where they are going to have an exhibit, obviously, about Emmett Till, an incident that brought about the modern day civil rights movement, what Donald Trump did with Central Park Five was very, very similar.

A White woman accused Emmett Till and he was lynched. The allegations that the Central Park Five committed a rape, and Donald Trump called for their lynching. He called for them to be executed.

So if I could draw a historical analogy, if Donald Trump had been around in 1955 in Mississippi, he would have advocated most likely for the lynching of Emmett Till.

But what`s interesting is that when a woman says, and several women say, Roy Moore has molested them or when over a dozen women say that Donald Trump has been inappropriate with them, it`s not believable.

But if the Black man is the one who is accused, then he believes and then calls for their lynching. So that in and of itself, going to Mississippi, at a civil rights event is blasphemous for Donald Trump to be there.

O`DONNELL: And we have David Duke tweeting to Donald Trump after his comments about Charlottesville where he equated the opposition to White supremacists with White supremacists.

Thank you, President Trump, for your honesty and courage to tell the truth about Charlottesville and condemn the leftist terrorist and Black Lives Matter.

And this is -- so this is someone who has the support of David Duke, has the support of Ku Klux Klan. And the idea that the Republican Governor of Mississippi would say this is the man we want at the opening of a civil rights museum shows you just how much respect the Republican Governor of Mississippi has for this museum.

THOMPSON: Yes, yes. It shows -- again, this is truly appalling. And I agree with John Lewis, I agree with Bennie Thompson, and anyone else who feels he shouldn`t be there.

I commend those who have built this museum and are trying to tell this story. But by all means, Donald Trump does not belong there. He is carrying out, in a modern-day form, a lot of that sad history of America. He`s not making America great again, he`s making America hate again.

O`DONNELL: And tonight, he is endorsing a candidate --


O`DONNELL: -- who says that making America great means take us back to the time of slavery.

THOMPSON: Yes. This is a frightening time. And I really wonder what the reset button is going to be because they`ve pushed people so far away from us having a unified country, people being more tolerant, people being more embracing of diversity. If we don`t bring this back, we`re going to be in serious trouble.

And frankly, I think that just adds to the list of articles against him. He is dividing the nation. I heard you play earlier -- he`s invoking Abraham Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln was struggling to unify the nation. He -- you know, if -- for Donald Trump, he is the opposite. He`s trying to keep the nation as divided as possible, and he`s got to go.

O`DONNELL: Mark Thompson, thank you very much for being with us.

THOMPSON: Thank you, man. All right.

O`DONNELL: Really appreciate it.

THOMPSON: Appreciate it. Always. Always.

O`DONNELL: Tonight`s last word is next.


O`DONNELL: As we go into this weekend of Christmas shopping and holiday giving, please remember the KIND Fund for Kids In Need of Desks.

You can purchase a desk, donate a desk in the name of anyone on your gift lists at Everyone on your gift list will then get an acknowledgment of that desk.

Also, you can help with scholarships for girls to attend high school in Malawi. All possible at

Thank you for considering that. And a programming note, this Sunday in MSNBC, we`ll show a new documentary about the life and career of Joe Biden.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think you could go to your grave never having run for president?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You going to run for president.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Are you going to run?

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC NEWS HOST: Is there no scenario in which you could see yourself getting into this race?

BIDEN: I`m not going to run. I`m not going to run for president.

I don`t know.

The answer is there`s a lot at stake and I might.

MATTHEWS: You look like you`re running for president. Are you?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s a question Joe Biden has been asked for decades.

VALERIE BIDEN OWENS, SISTER OF FORMER VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: All the time, particularly now. Everyone -- the second they say hi, Valerie, is Joe going to run?


TRUMP: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With Donald Trump`s electoral victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016, speculation about a Biden 2020 run has only intensified.

BIDEN: Do I regret not being president? Yes. I thought there was a need to bring the country together.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: He`d be a formidable opponent. He`s got a good standing with the American people. I think people like Joe Biden.

VALERIE JARRETT, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: I can`t think of anyone with more experience both in the Senate, in the White House, and as a citizen than Joe Biden.

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: I would never count Joe Biden out. This man is the energizer bunny. He just does not quit.


O`DONNELL: You can watch or record the Biden documentary Sunday night at 9:00 p.m. on MSNBC. That`s tonight`s last word.

Coming up, how much influence does Donald Trump really have over Alabama voters who don`t want to vote for Roy Moore? The "11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS" takes that on next.


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