Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O'DONNELL Date: December 14, 2017 Guest: Ned Price, Evan McMullen, David Leonhardt, Jonathan Capehart, Patricia Gaines
LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel. I'm here completing my notes. Toenail fungus unpopular.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, TRMS: Sorry.
O'DONNELL: This is stuff I'm stealing. I sit here and write down the phrases for later recycling.
MADDOW: I was going to say herpes unpopular and tried to make it classier.
O'DONNELL: You had it in the right spot.
MADDOW: I know. I'm glad I didn't say herpes on TV. Oh.
O'DONNELL: No. Because then -- I'd be left -- what's the comeback to that.
MADDOW: I know. Well --
O'DONNELL: Like this. Like now.
MADDOW: Never do that. Sorry, Lawrence.
O'DONNELL: New rule. OK. Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Sorry, my friend.
O'DONNELL: All right. Just -- OK. We're out of that.
With the tax bill that he has been dreaming about for years, now in danger tonight in the United States Senate, House Speaker Paul Ryan let it be known today that he is quitting. He is not going to quit like the last Republican speaker of the House did. John Boehner just quit right at the middle of a session of Congress, just bolted, just ran away from the job, more than a year before the next election.
"Politico" reported today that Paul Ryan plans to not run for re-election. "Politico" said Ryan has made it known to some of his closest confidants that this will be his final term as speaker. He would like to serve through Election Day 2018 and retire ahead of the next Congress.
This report quickly became a problem for Paul Ryan today because he is asking members to vote for the most unpopular tax legislation in history and now they know that Paul Ryan himself is not willing to face voters in his home district after he does that.
Here's Paul Ryan today trying to sound like he was denying the "Politico" report but he was asked the wrong question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Thank you very much, everybody. Appreciate it.
REPORTER: So, you're quitting anytime soon?
RYAN: I'm not -- no.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'DONNELL: He was asked if he was quitting any time soon. And, no, he's not quitting any time soon. He's quitting a year from now.
The correct question to ask Paul Ryan is, are you committed to running for re-election in next year's congressional election? `Politico" says he is not going to run. "Politico" says he has told people he's not going to run.
Paul Ryan is facing a real challenge from Democrats in the re-election campaign that he's apparently decided not to run in. And that is exactly the right choice for Paul Ryan to make because Paul Ryan still wants to be president. He can't risk losing his re-election to a House seat when he still wants to be president.
Paul Ryan had his season on the presidential stage campaigning as the Republican vice presidential candidate with Mitt Romney at the top of the ticket and in politics, there's nothing more addicting than the presidential dream. The presidential dream never dies in politicians like Paul Ryan. It has to be beaten out of them. And I mean literally beaten out of them. They have to run for president and get beaten. That's the only way the presidential dream dies.
Paul Ryan is surely looking at running for president in 2024 when he will be 54 years old. And the age of Trump will be over. Paul Ryan doesn't want to live with the blame for the loss of seats in the Republican House in the next election and possibly even the loss of the majority to the Democrats in the House.
He doesn't want to deal with the couple of more years of the Trump presidency with even fewer Republican House members. He is surely calculating that if he leaving at the end of next year and goes for the big money that can cover his young kids' college tuitions and begins the return to campaigning six years from now, the stink of Trumpism will be off of Paul Ryan. He will once out of office no doubt become ever more critical of Donald Trump.
Paul Ryan wants to be able to claim that he did something before he leaves the House. And cutting taxes is now the only thing that he knows how to do or thinks he knows how to do and he knows that six years from now the exploding deficits won't be blamed on him and if he's really lucky a Democrat will be elected president in 2020 and that Democratic president will raise taxes in a responsible manner as Democrats have done before and then Paul Ryan can run against the tax raising Democrat for president.
In the meantime, Paul Ryan's command of his troops just loosened today. The California Republicans in the House of Representatives voting against their state's interests on this tax bill have less reason to do that tonight now that they know Paul Ryan isn't going to pay the price for that vote. Marco Rubio's two years younger than Paul Ryan and he's going to run for president again and why Marco Rubio positioning himself tonight as the champion of the kids, the champion of children, saying he will vote no on the tax bill unless they increase the child tax credit.
That is what Republicans used to call compassionate conservatism. Marco Rubio just elected to a six-year term Senate and if he wants to he can challenge Donald Trump in a primary in 2020 if Trump is weak enough and even if Marco Rubio loses, he can still go back to the job in the Senate. And maybe in 2020 Republican voters will have learned the lesson about Donald Trump. Maybe they'll learn it soon. The lesson the that Rubio tried to teach them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: He's a con man. I think it's time to unmask him for what he is.
I will not allow the conservative movement to be taken over by a con artist by the name of Donald Trump. You have friends thinking of voting for Donald Trump. Friends do not let friends vote for con artists.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'DONNELL: Marco Rubio is positioned to jump into a primary against Donald Trump or be patient. Wait another four years.
That's what you're watching tonight. Presidential dreams. Presidential dreams in the House and in the Senate and when you're a member of Congress and you have presidential dreams every vote counts, every vote you cast in Congress counts and so tonight, Rubio is the last man standing in the Senate in opposition to the tax bill and he's doing it for the kids.
He says he's doing it for families with kids who are struggling to make ends meet and need more money from the child tax credit. It could just be a stunt. Marco Rubio might know right now tonight that he's ready to cave to the special interests who fund his campaigns and who contribute to Republican presidential campaigns if they just make him one of those public promises of working on improving the child tax credit next year.
If Marco Rubio accepts something like that, then you know this was all just a stunt. But if he doesn't, the bill could die because Republican senator corker has already said he's voting no. If Rubio votes no and John McCain doesn't vote because he remains in the hospital where he is tonight undergoing cancer treatment, then the bill will be defeated in the Senate. Here's what Marco Rubio said today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUBIO: Consistently throughout this process I've outlined the need to increase the refundable part of the child tax credit and what I have said consistently and now in the press is that unless they figure out a way to increase the refundable part higher than $1,100, the way they figure out a way to give corporations an extra year of cuts, the way they figured a way to lower the top rate for someone making a family making $1 million, unless they figure out a way to add to the $1,100 figure, I won't support the bill.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'DONNELL: Joining us now, David Leonhardt, an opinion columnist of "The New York Times", also with us, Ezra Klein, editor at large at "Vox" and the host of the podcast "The Ezra Klein Show".
Ezra, so, more than $1,100. $1,101, $1,200? What does it have to go up to?
EZRA KLEIN, EDITOR AT LARGE, VOX: That was a notable thing, right? He just gave a directional ask.
O'DONNELL: Yes, right.
KLEIN: Not a real ask. I want to note something. I saw a poll today I think frames this so well. So, the affordable care act, Obamacare, is polling at 57 percent. Do you remember that under Obama that never broke majority support? Republicans managed to make it pull up 57 percent, a very big majority, much more popular than Donald Trump or Paul Ryan and now this polling at 29 percent. Republicans managed to make tax cuts, tax cuts less popular than Obamacare.
That is a tremendous political achievement. Not one they necessarily wanted but it's a hard thing to do. And I think it frame what is Rubio is doing here. If Republicans had an ounce of sense on this, they would take the tremendous gift Marco Rubio is giving them.
What he's asking for is not much. It would not make it progressive. It will not make it fair. It will not make it well written. It will not make it a good bill, but because he's managed to make this a point of controversy in Washington if he got his way people would say, oh look, the Republicans relented. The bill is better for the working poor and would be better for the working poor and maybe not so unpopular.
The fact they're not falling all over themselves to give Rubio what he wants here, it's like a party that's almost suicidal.
O'DONNELL: David Leonhardt, another part is every other Republican in Congress thinking of running for president, they don't want to give Marco Rubio in effect that presidential moment of dictating the final piece of the bill.
DAVID LEONHARDT, OP-ED COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: They don't. They also know that the odds of Rubio actually voting against this bill seem really slim. One of the things that everyone's talked about is this bill goes out of the way to punish blue states. It punishes New York and California with what it does to tax breaks.
This bill is really nice to Florida. If you are a wealthy person in Florida and that's basically who Marco Rubio is surrounded by in terms of his campaign donors, in terms of a lot of hi advisers, this bill is really, really good for you. And not only does Marco Rubio know that, but all of his colleagues know that.
And so I think the concern here, as Ezra said, he is giving them a gift, a political gift, I think they may try to give him a little bit. Take the politics of it and leave the substance of the bill really damaging.
O'DONNELL: Another thing that came out in polling about this it's what do you think the bill does? Quinnipiac poll, do you think the GOP tax plan will increase or reduce your taxes? Forty-four percent believe it will increase their taxes. That's the single biggest response, increase. Reduce, 16 percent believe it will reduce. Not much impact, 30 percent.
Ezra, and as people continue to learn in legislating, it doesn't matter what's in the bill. What matters is what people think is in the bill.
KLEIN: It also matters what's in the bill. The reason they think it will, more than 44 percent people should think this. What tax cuts for the middle class, they all expire so they have a lower deficit score to fund their corporate tax cuts permanently. That's what the bill says.
And, by the way, I think this is a real problem with how we talk about tax bills in politics. This bill eventually in theory at least has to be paid for somehow and Paul Ryan in the same article you're talking about and also in public comments has said that the way he wants to do is next year he wants to cut Medicare and welfare and other social programs and Medicaid and the rest of it and Donald Trump asked about this today. The reports came out in a lunch or something with Republican congressmen and said, yes, I'd be happy for entitlement reform on the first day of my second term.
So, they're disagreeing about when exactly they're going to pay for this bill by cutting programs at the poor and the elderly. But they don't disagree that's how they want to pay for this bill. And so we talk about the distributional affects of this bill and already just if you look at the tax side when they're spending $1.5 trillion off the deficit, it's already a tax increase for most people going the way they say it will.
But if doesn't, and they actually pay for it, it becomes a biggest hit to the working poor, it becomes a bigger hit to people who rely on government programs which again are the elderly and the working poor, and nobody's being quiet about this. Paul Ryan, Donald Trump, the rest of them, saying it perfectly publicly.
So, this is a place where the problem is that it's only 44 percent who believe this. This bill is going to be really bad for a whole lot more than 44 percent of the population.
O'DONNELL: And, David, this sends us -- if it passes, it sends us into a cycle that we have seen before, a massive Republican tax cut of as we saw with George W. Bush, for example, followed by a call and an attempt to, quote, reform entitlements. Cut Medicare, cut Social Security in order to try to reduce the deficit or eliminate the deficit. This is the cycle that we would be embarked on if this bill passes.
LEONHARDT: It is the cycle. When's different this time is that the Democrats have already done a very good job shaping public opinion. If you think about these poll numbers that we're all talking about, there were no poll numbers like this on George W. Bush's tax cuts. None at all.
So I think that makes this bill more vulnerable.
So, yes, Republicans will come back. They have the majority. They are going to try to cut Medicare and Social Security and Medicaid and all kinds of programs to help the poor, but I do think that Democrats have done something important here which is they have defined the terms of the debate. I think that will make it harder in the long term for these policies to stick. And it will make it easier for the Democrats to undo them at some point.
O'DONNELL: Ezra, the Bush tax cut with bipartisan vote and the kind they usually do, Democrats climbing on saying we want a piece of this, too. We want to be able to say we voted for cutting taxes. But the Bush tax cuts look highly responsible in their way compared to what we are looking at now.
KLEIN: Yes. I want to be careful because the bush tax cuts were very irresponsible.
O'DONNELL: They were but there was a surplus that they were cutting into.
KLEIN: This bill metaphorically and almost literally, if you follow the final night the Senate vote, is written in crayon.
KLEIN: It is a terrible bill. Not just -- forgetting what it does as a technical matter, it could lose hundreds of billions of dollars more than people think because of loopholes so large and rather than fix it, one of the things I thought was so remarkable out of the conference committee is what they figured out how to do, rather than fix the bill, or make it a little bit more progressive, or do something to make it more popular, they figure out a way to take more money to make the top rate, the rate that the richest people pay, lower.
That is the thing they fixed. Republicans looked at the bill, went to conference committee and said, god, it doesn't cut taxes on rich people enough.
LEONHARDT: Lower than the Senate or the House, right?
KLEIN: Lower than the Senate or the House. So, I mean, this bill is a remarkable product. It is -- it is -- I said this earlier. But it's a Kamikaze mission of tax reform. They are not trying to make a bill people will like.
At least the Bush administration, say what you will about them, they really put an effort of a bill they thought people would end up supporting. Democrats were angry because they were trapped in a bill of huge tax cuts to the rich and but give enough to the middle class and the poor to have some support. Republicans this time are not even trying.
O'DONNELL: But, David, they know exactly when the next attempt at real deficit reduction will be made and they know it will be made by a Democratic president who like Bill Clinton will throw in a mix of tax increases and possibly entitlement cuts like Barack Obama, throw in some tax increases so that then the next Republican can run against the next Democratic president for having raised taxes.
LEONHARDT: Yes. That's true. But I do think the radicalism -- the radical nature of this process and this bill is going to affect Democrats next time around. The Obama administration tried to be extremely responsible in terms of deficit reduction, frankly, more responsible than the Democratic majorities in Congress wanted to be.
I would be surprised if next time around a Democratic administration tries to do the same number of politically painful responsible stuff. Obama did it in part to win some Republican support and peel it away and he almost completely failed to do that. And so, I think what the message of now is that the parties are basically saying that brute political force may make more sense.
And so, I think when the Democrats get a majority back we'll see them trying to raise taxes on the affluent. I don't think we're going to see them be sort of masochistically responsible in a budgetary way and maybe that's OK.
O'DONNELL: Ezra Klein, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
And, David Leonhardt, please with us. We're going to have a discussion about your extraordinary report. You actually tried to count every one of President Trump's lies. You get a prize for that and we're going to be talking about that coming up.
Also, coming up later, Patricia Gaines who fled Selma, Alabama, in 1961, with her family when her father was threatened by the Ku Klux Klan, she returned to Selma on Tuesday for the first time since 1961 to help drive voters to the polls for Doug Jones. She will join us.
O'DONNELL: There was a big effort to get him to be a standard president. That is a quote. That's what one Trump adviser told "The Washington Post" today. There was a big effort to get him to be a standard president. That was at the beginning of the Trump presidency.
And now, they have given up, completely given up. They recognize that the United States of America now has a president who is unfit to fulfill even the passive presidential duty of receiving an intelligence briefing. Donald Trump cannot sit there and even listen, just listen, to what he's supposed to hear from the intelligence agencies.
Exclusive report based on interviews with 50 current and former U.S. officials, "The Washington Post" reports current and former officials said that his daily intelligence update known as the president's daily brief or PDB is often structured to avoid upsetting him. Russia-related intelligence this might draw Trump's ire is in some cases included only in the written assessment and not raised orally said a former senior intelligence official familiar with the matter. In other cases, Trump's main briefer adjusts the order of his presentation and text aiming to soften the impact.
If you talk about Russia meddling, interference, that takes the PDB off the rails said a second former senior U.S. intelligence official.
Joining us now, Ned Price, former senior director and spokesperson for the National Security Council and former CIA analyst who wrote and presented presidential daily briefs to President Obama.
And, Evan McMullin, a former independent presidential candidate and a former CIA operative.
Ned, since you have actually done this and been in the situation with the president, can you imagine having to soften the impact of the information? Isn't the point of it for all of the information in it to have the correct impact that it should have on a president?
NED PRICE, FORMER CIA ANALYST: Well, that's right, Lawrence. Look, I wrote PDBs for President George W. Bush and President Obama. I briefed PDBs in the Obama administration and I was briefed on PDBs during the latter half of the Obama administration.
And what I can tell you is that chicken soup for the soul, the PDB is not. It is not an uplifting read. It is very rarely has good news. Most of which you read in the PDB is bad news.
It is devastating developments, it is dire analysis of the most important and challenging threats we face. And it's presented in the PDB precisely because the president has to deal with these issues.
Simple issues do not make their way to the president's desk. Only the most complex and challenging ones do and it seems from this report today that President Trump is not willing to grapple with these issues and in doing so he's not willing to dispense with the key function of this office.
O'DONNELL: Evan McMullin, your reaction to this "Washington Post" report?
EVEN MCMULLIN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes. You know, I think for years now through this whole process, the campaign and after it, so many of us have warned against the president's unfitness. This is what we're talking about. This is the tangible effect of that, wherein the president can't actually listen to information that he as the chief executive of our country, the commander-in-chief, needs to protect us. Needs to protect news this case our basic right to choose our own leaders, the core of the democracy. And in -- this is that fitness issue.
But I'll say one more thing just reaction to this report. And that is, that although it's a phenomenal report, I would like to push back against this narrative that I have heard for so long that the president objects to the Russia interference narrative because or story because he's trying to protect his ego.
I think there's some truth to that but there's much more at stake here for him. He fired a FBI director over this. He's threatened special counsel Mueller. He's also -- Mueller who's indicted or obtained plea agreements from total of four Trump team officials.
This is something that presents real legal and political risk and jeopardy to the president. And that is why he doesn't want to walk into what the report says that Trump calls a trap. He says it's a trap for him to acknowledge this threat from the Russians or Russia interference. It is a trap because if he acknowledges it then all of a sudden all those campaign contacts with Russians become far more suspicious.
It's a trap because if he acknowledges it then his base kind of has to acknowledge it, as well. If his base acknowledges it, it can weaken his support in the House where they can impeach him if they so choose. This is a big issue, not just about his ego.
O'DONNELL: Ned Price, having done president's daily briefs, how would you do this if you were briefing President Trump based on everything you have just learned from that "Washington Post" article?
PRICE: Well, there was an interesting detail in that article, Lawrence. And when they have pieces of information, primarily about Russia that they think may trigger this president, they include that in the written material. They don't include it in the oral briefing and what that says to me is that they don't think this president is actually reading those written PDBs, those written presidential daily briefs. They don't raise it in the oral session because they know he's there and interact and forced to sit behind the resolute desk for at least a portion of the morning and listen to what his intelligence briefers have to say.
But look, I think that does a disservice not only to this president but also to the American people. The president must grapple with the intelligence, the best intelligence, the highest quality intelligence that our intelligence community produces on a daily basis. He must hear this. If it's true, that the president is routinely not reading his daily briefs, it is the responsibility of the intelligence briefers to bring it to him in another form.
They have already shortened the briefings, they made them heavier on graphics, they reportedly have included mentions of his name. More frequently so as to attract his attention. But clearly, it's not getting through to him unless it's presented and I think that's something that intelligence briefers in this very new and strange age should take to heart.
O'DONNELL: Evan, isn't this to some extent -- it's a couple of possibilities. Like trying to teach a kindergarten student calculus like his brain is simply incapable of processing the information, or it's dangerously upsetting to a emotionally, psychologically unstable human being. Since the intelligence community cannot initiate any proceedings to remove the president, that's up to the vice president and the cabinet with the 25th Amendment, up to Congress with impeachment, they have got to deal with who they have to brief.
And isn't there a case to be made that they should not be telling this child-like emotional creature in the Oval Office information that might make him do dangerous things internationally?
MCMULLIN: I'll tell you, Lawrence. That is a difficult question to answer. I think, yes, you could make the case that there are certain things that perhaps should go to the president for a variety of reasons, both his fitness -- to include both his fitness and his strange relationship to put it kindly with Vladimir Putin.
But at the same time, intelligence officials report to the president of the United States and they have the duty to inform him. So, look, we have put ourselves in an incredible predicament with this. This is a political decision that we made through the process and obviously with the interference and all of that. But we the American people and the intelligence community find ourselves in a terrible predicament, one from which we should remove ourselves as quickly as possible.
O'DONNELL: And, Ned, we have very little information about a phone call today between President Trump and Vladimir Putin. President -- White House saying that the president thanked President Putin for acknowledging America's strong economic performance, the two presidents discussed working together to resolve the very dangerous situation in North Korea and it would seem that you need a well briefed president to make -- to be in a phone call like that.
PRICE: Well, yes. You do. And one would hope the president was well briefed before this phone call. Look, when we learned earlier today from Russian news accounts that President Putin and president Trump had spoken, my first instinct although wrong was to hope that this "Washington Post" piece had triggered the president to call President Putin and to confront him on these issues that were at the heart of the piece, namely Russia's meddling.
But in the end, the readout issued by the White House, it was about two sentences, and it said as you mentioned that President Trump called to thank President Putin for mentioning America's great economic growth during President Putin's year-end press conference. So far from press President Putin President Trump actually called to thank him on a day when this is headline news and I think that's telling about this administration.
LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Ned Price and Evan Mcmullen, thank you for joining us tonight.
PRICE: thanks a lot.
EVAN MCMULLEN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thank You.
O'DONNELL: Coming up, the New York Times has done it. or at least, they tried to do it. They tried to count every one of President Trump's lies, every lie that Donald Trump has told since becoming President. We'll bring you that report.
O'DONNELL: This summer the New York Times tried to publish the authoritative list the lies of President Trump, All the lies Donald Trump told since taking the Oath of Office and a difference of an intentional knowing lie and a mistake. Something that's just said as a mistake and so, The Times had to choose what constitutes a Trump lie.
The Times chose a very lenient definition of lie for Donald Trump. The Times lets him get away with what they call, "misleading statements and mild exaggerations and Trump's frequent imprecision with numbers." Even by that standard, The Times found that Donald Trump lies to a degree we have never seen before. And their new report, The Times" found, "Trump is unlike any other modern President. he seems virtually indifferent to reality, often saying whatever helps him make the case he is trying to make and here's just a small sample of the New York Times list Presidential lies including the New York Time is correction of those lies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: I guess it was the biggest Electoral College win since Ronald Reagan. If you look at President Obama and other Presidents, most of them didn't make calls. We have become an energy exporter for the first time ever.
They all say it's nonbinding. Like hell it's nonbinding. The murder rate in our country's the highest it's been in 47 years. right? Fake media goes, Donald Trump has changed the chance on china. I haven't changed my stance. Your insurance companies have all fled the State of Iowa. Believe me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'DONNELL: The New York Times report on the President's lies concludes, Trump is trying to make truth irrelevant. It is extremely damaging to democracy and it's not an accident. It's core to his political strategy. Up next, Leonhardt who wrote the New York Times report on Trump's lies will join us along with Jonathan Capehart and compare President Trump to President Obama.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: If they have a puddle, in the middle of their field, a little puddle the size of this, it's considered a lake. And you can't touch it. And if you touch it, bad, bad things happen to you and your family. We got rid of that one, too. OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'DONNELL: The New York Times corrected that lie this way. the Obama Environmental Rule to limit pollution in the country's waters explicitly excludes puddles. Joining us now, Jonathan Capehart opinion writer for the Washington Post and an MSNBC Contributor and back with us David Leonhardt who wrote the New York Times report on President Trump's lies. And David, this is a tough assignment. This is a massive assignment but you've wrestled it once again. And tell us what you found as you were studying the trump lies. it seems more of what you found in the summer that this is just an extraordinary thing, the likes of which we have never seen.
DAVID LEONHARDT, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. it is. First of all U have to say that segment aired set to music is really brilliant.
O'DONNELL: That was Moore Daily who always does that kind of brilliant video for us here.
LEONHARDT: It was wonderful. So as you noted, we published this summer our attempt at a definitive list of Trump's lies. We set a high bar. not mere exaggerations or things that most people disagree with but an outright lie. So a good example of something that didn't clear the bar is as President retold this (INAUDIBLE) story about General Pershing. And seem to suggests that Pershing had executed Muslim terrorists. But Trump never if you looked at the word said anything that was clearly wrong and didn't count that one.
It had to be demonstrated to be false just like the ones you've shown. After we ran it, a bunch of Trump supporters said to us on social media and other places, Yes, but you know every President lies and if you did this for other Presidents it would be just as bad. So we took them seriously and a team of people at he New York Times basically went back and scrubbed all of Obama's stuff and what they found is that when use the same standard Donald Trump so far told 103 distinct lies some of which he's repeated many times. 103 distinct ones., Obama over eight years had 18.
So if you're doing annual averages, that's about 124 a year for Trump and for Obama, it's about 2 a year.
O'DONNELL: Jonathan Capehart, you get into the definitional issue talking about President Obama's statements, too, because some of those are predictions that didn't come true, for example, if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor under Obamacare. Well, that's true for a lot of people. It is not true for everyone and it isn't clear to me that the President knew exactly how that was going to work out.
But that's what I heard when I was talking to voters the beginning of the presidential campaign in New Hampshire and you would say something about Donald Trump lying. They would simply say, they all lie and they could all give you one thing from every recent President who they -- which they took as a lie.
JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Right. And the key thing that David didn't point out in his own story that I think is the highlight here is that when President Obama and even President George W. Bush when they were called out on their lie, they stopped telling the lie. And that is the big difference. President Trump when he's told that he's lied, he just stares you back in the face and keeps repeating the lie.
And therein lies the problem for the presidency and for the country when you have a president who willfully lies to the American people on a daily - - maybe even hourly basis And that makes our jobs as journalists at Washington Post, New York Times, MSNBC, that every time the President repeats a lie or says a lie that we fact check him in real time so that the American people they can hear what he says. But they can see with their own eyes and read when their own eyes what the truth is. It's just a matter of whether they're willing to accept it.
O'DONNELL: David, Weapons of Mass Destruction for President George W. Bush is a great example of this because there's a lot of people believed that he was lying about that. There are others who believe he was just wrong about it. But what everyone knows is when weapons of mass destruction were not found in Iraq, President Bush did not continue to insist that they were there.
And we now know that under a President Trump in that same situation he would simply insist that they were there and were somehow hidden, remained hidden or spirited away at the last minute.
LEONHARDT: That's exactly right. And as Jonathan said, the word lies is unfair to Bush and Obama in many ways and we say that in the story. Look, when Obama said something that was patently false and not a ton of them, but followed a pattern. His advisers would sort of lamely try to say no, no , it wasn't false. This is what he meant or this is how it's defensible.
But then he wouldn't do it again. And Trump just does it again and again and again. He has no regard for it. He's trying to monopolize the flow of information. He's trying to discredit CIA Agents and FBI Agents and scientists and journalist and judges and members of congress. It's extraordinarily dangerous. It's extraordinarily damaging to democracy and it really requires a lot of vigilance from a lot of different people and just not to go crazy over what he's trying to do here.
O'DONNELL: And, Jonathan, another big difference I noticed that the staff level is if an office holder or President makes a mistake publicly, says something publicly that isn't true, the staff usually goes into overdrive to figure out how that happened, who got the them the wrong information, how did that slip through the cracks and don't want do let it happen again.
It seems that the lies we see out of Donald Trump come primarily from Donald Trump. The staff has nothing to do with them when they are born. But then it is the staff's job to then publicly support the lie.
CAPEHART: Yes. And that is a big problem. And we have seen it many times, particularly when Sean Spicer was the Press Secretary where he would say something and then he would be undercut by something that the President said.
CAPEHART: and then -- I'm sorry. My earpiece is falling out. But so the President would undercut his own people and this becomes a problem when the staff know that is the President lied and yet they have to go out there and basically perpetuate the lie because as you said I think in the second segment, on The Washington Post story, about how tender the President is when it comes to Russia, the Russia briefings, that they're managing this President who can't handle hearing the truth and can't handle being told he's lied and to correct it even when it means helping his own administration.
O'DONNELL: Jonathan Capehart gets the Last Word Tonight on Donald Trump's lies but that will not be the last word about Donald Trump's lies. David Leonhardt, thank you for your extraordinary report. Jonathan Capehart thanks for joining us.
CAPEHART: Thank you Lawrence.
LEONHARDT: Thanks Lawrence..
O'DONNELL: Coming up, the story of the campaign volunteer who went to Selma, Alabama, on Tuesday to help the Doug Jones campaign. It was her first time in Selma since her family fled in 1961 after being threatened by the Ku Klux Klan. Patricia Gaines will join us and tell her story.
O'DONNELL: It has been 48 hours since Roy Moore lost the Alabama Senate Election and he has still not conceded. it is not clear that Roy Moore actually understands that losers conceding elections is just a tradition. It isn't necessary.
And it doesn't actually matter whether the loser concedes or not. The loser is still the loser. Alabama's Senior Senator Richard Shelby at this advice for Roy Moore today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Shelby, does Roy Moore need to come out and concede at this point?
RICHARD SHELBY, UNITED STATES SENATOR: Absolutely. What 22, 25,000 votes behind, I thought he'd concede the other night if I was 25,000 votes behind. It's not going to change much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'DONNELL: One of Doug Jones' campaign volunteers in Selma on Tuesday was Patricia Gaines. In 1961, Patricia Gaines and her family fled Selma in the middle of the night after her father was threatened Her father was a minister in Selma who said he was willing to allow black people to worship in his church and take communion in his church. Tuesday was the first time Patricia Gaines returned to Selma after fleeing with her family in the dark of night in fear of the Klu Klux Klan in 1961. Patricia Gaines joins us next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DOUG JONES, UNITED STATES SENATE-ELECT: Alabama has been at a cross roads. We have been at cross roads in the past, and unfortunately we have usually taken the wrong fort. Tonight, ladies and gentlemen, you took the right road.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'DONNELL: And helping Alabama take the right road on Tuesday was Patricia Gaines, a campaign volunteer for the Doug Jones Campaign. Patricia Gaines joins us now. Thank you very much for joining us tonight. could you tell us about that night in 1961 that I just told the audience about when your family, your father, fled Selma, Alabama, in fear of the Klu Klux Klan, what was it like to abandon your home in the dark of night and set off?
PATRICIA GAINES, DOUG JONES Campaign VOLUNTEER: It was very strange, but my parents didn't tell us we were going to leave in the middle of the night. So we did. We got in the car. My little brother sitting by -- beside me and my father kept the lights off and literally rolled out of our driveway before he started the engine.
And we went slowly through Selma about 12:30 in the morning, with no lights on. and as we left Selma, my mother started obsessing about headlights behind us, and spent most of the trip asking if we were being followed. It was a terribly long night, and when we finally got to mobile, for some reason I had a fever of 104. I guess that was just the trauma of being forced out of Selma and the shame that we were all feeling -- and just a very, very strange experience.
O'DONNELL: And when you volunteered for the Doug Jones campaign, you -- being close to Birmingham as your home is, you just assumed you'd be in Birmingham and you got the surprise of being assigned to Selma. That was your first -
O'DONNELL: What did it feel like since you were going back since 1961?
GAINES: I had to be talked into it a bit. And I was resisting, but my friend, he's a wonderful writer, said I want you to go because I know I'll be safe with you. And I said you will be safe with me.
And we will go because she's going to write about it. she's fantastic writer, her name is Margaret Wrinkle. And I said OK, I will -- so this is art. I will go for art and justice.
O'DONNELL: And what was it like to be in that audience when you were listening to Doug Jones In that victory speech and quoting martin Luther King Jr. which is not something often heard in the victory speech in Alabama?
GAINES: It was so incredible. We were able to just, you know, run through the lobby and get in there for his speech. And I could just hardly believe what, what a good man we have elected. And I was just so proud. My family - - I believe that Alabama was democratic for 120 years or so and my family had always been -- we had always been Southern Democrats.
And to hear this man who is a good man, a who's going to include -- who can bring us together. And I was just so proud of Alabama that we were anyone to turn the vote around. I was so proud of Selma because Selma -- the landslide for Doug Jones in Selma turned our state blue.
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