Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: December 18, 2017 Guest: Natasha Bertrand, Ron Klain, Austan Goolsbee
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel. As we know, it is that time of year and so, I have your present. It`s right here.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, TRMS: Uh-oh.
O`DONNELL: It`s actually the one Donald Trump promised you. It is -- it is the wicked big Republican tax bill. It is 1,100 pages, Rachel. That`s the bow for you right there.
MADDOW: You shouldn`t have.
O`DONNELL: And Donald Trump told you, it`s going to be just the greatest Christmas present ever, and because I know you are a huge real estate investor and developer, there`s something in here that they`re calling the Corker kickback, but don`t worry about that. It`s going to be great for you, Rachel. It`s going to be great.
MADDOW: You know, I -- thank you. For one. Also, I didn`t get you anything yet.
O`DONNELL: All right, well --
MADDOW: I`ll -- let`s meet tomorrow.
O`DONNELL: I`m used to that, Rachel. I`m used to that by now.
MADDOW: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
Well, tonight, "The Washington Post" is reporting that White House lawyers plan to ask special prosecutor Robert Mueller`s team in a meeting later this week -- they want to say in that meeting they plan to ask Mueller`s investigators if they need more information before reaching a conclusion that the probe as related to Trump is complete. According to a person familiar with the Trump team`s plan who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe private conversations.
The high stakes meeting between White House lawyers and Mueller`s team come as conservative lawmakers and pundits have intensified their demands for a second special counsel to investigate the FBI, pointing to text messages between two former FBI officials discussing their dislike of Trump. A White House adviser said the president has enjoyed the attacks in recent weeks and spoken to number of Fox News hosts, Republican lawmakers and others who have castigated Mueller`s team, the adviser said.
As Trump lawyers mounted a new attack this weekend on special prosecutor Robert Mueller, in Washington speculation built to a fever pitch about the president possibly firing special prosecutor Robert Mueller.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Will you tell us about firing Robert Mueller?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I`m not. What else? What, are you surprised?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Well, the only reason to be surprised by that answer is if the president is actually telling the truth. But behind the scenes reporting by "The New York Times" and "The Washington Post" indicates that whenever Donald Trump looks at the Justice Department, he sees people at the top who he does not like and does not trust, all of them appointed by Donald Trump himself.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, FBI director Christopher Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed special prosecutor. "The New York Times" reports two people who have spoken to the president recently said that he was far more frustrated with the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and the FBI Director Christopher Wray than Mr. Mueller. Mr. Trump has said that Mr. Wray has not moved quickly enough to rid the bureau of senior officials who were biased against Mr. Trump and had worked for James B. Comey, the director whom Mr. Trump fired in May.
"The Washington Post" reports in recent discussions to advisers said Trump has called the attorney general weak and complained that Rosenstein has shown insufficient accountability on the special counsel`s work. A senior official said Trump mocked Rosenstein`s recent testimony on Capitol Hill, saying he looked weak and unable to answer questions. Trump has ranted about Rosenstein as a Democrat. One of these advisers said and characterized him as a threat to his presidency.
Now, for the neurologists and psychiatrists out there who are tracking the neurological function of the president of the United States, it should be noted that the man, the president is ranting about and calling a Democrat is a Republican who as I said Donald Trump himself appointed. President George W. Bush appointed Rod Rosenstein to be the U.S. attorney in Maryland. President Bush later nominated Rod Rosenstein to a federal appeals court judgeship but that nomination was blocked by the Democratic senators from Maryland. That`s the Republican who Donald Trump now thinks is a Democrat.
Today, NBC News reported that Donald Trump was warned by the FBI last year as soon as he won the Republican nomination for president that he had a problem with Russia. In the weeks after he became the Republican nominee on July 19th, 2016, Donald Trump was warned that foreign adversaries, including Russia, would probably try to spy on and infiltrate his campaign according to multiple government officials familiar with the matter. The warning came from a high level briefing of senior FBI officials, the officials said by the time of the warning in late July or August, at least seven Trump campaign officials had been in contact with Russians or people linked to Russia according to public reports. There is no public evidence that the campaign reported any of that to the FBI.
And lawyers for Donald Trump who led chants of lock her up when the FBI was investigating Hillary Clinton`s emails, those lawyers for Donald Trump are now very upset that the FBI is investigating the e-mails of the Trump transition team, all of those Trump transition e-mails on a government server using government e-mail accounts owned and operated by the government. Everyone using government email accounts knows that those accounts are controlled by the government.
Still, Trump lawyers were surprised to discover that special prosecutor Robert Mueller had obtained those transition e-mails and was using them as the basis for some of the investigators` questions to witnesses, especially questions to witnesses who worked on the Trump transition.
Now, you know a lawyer`s complaint is completely empty when the lawyer files that complaint not in court in a legal proceeding where a judge can consider that complaint, but in a letter to Congress, which has absolutely no jurisdiction over the special prosecutor`s investigation. The Trump transition team lawyer sent a letter to the House Committee on Oversight and the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs complaining that the special prosecutor had obtained the e-mails without the permission of the Trump transition team. The special prosecutor`s office issued a rare statement in response to that letter, saying when we have obtained e-mails in the course of our ongoing criminal investigation. We have secured either the account owner`s consent or appropriate criminal process.
Joining us now, Julia Ainsley, national security and justice reporter of NBC News covering the Department of Justice and Homeland Security. She`s one of the reporters who broke the FBI briefing report. Also with us, Jill Wine-Banks, former assistant Watergate special prosecutor and an MSNBC contributor. Also with us, Natasha Bertrand, political correspondent at "Business Insider".
And, Jill, I just want to go to you first as a lawyer among us. What do you make of the Trump lawyers` claim that the special prosecutor had no right to obtain those transition e-mails?
JILL WINE-BANKS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I think you have summed up today`s news quite well. And that it is a hollow complaint of Trump`s lawyers. If they had a legitimate complaint, they would have gone to court. They wouldn`t have gone to Congress who can talk about it but can`t do anything about it. And it seems to me that it is possibly one more step that is being taken to undermine Mueller and as a lead-in to firing Mueller.
And all I can say is that the majority of people according to all the polls already believe that Trump has done something either illegal or unethical with Russia and they are prepared the march to take to the streets, Move On and Indivisible have prepared a Website where you can sign up and people will in mass numbers protest if the president does that.
O`DONNELL: Julia Ainsley, going to your reporting today that the FBI warned Donald Trump right after he got the Republican nomination July 19th, 2016, that foreign governments, including Russia would be trying to reach people involved in the Trump campaign, this is clearly the FBI warning these people about this. And apparently, the FBI didn`t hear anything back from the Trump campaign about any contacts.
JULIA AINSLEY, NBC NEWS NATIONAL SECURITY & JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes. That`s right, Lawrence. So what does this is kind of puts a bullet hole in the argument that we have heard that Trump administration make a few times to say, look, we were novices going into this. We aren`t from the inside Washington crowd and that is why some of us may have taken the meeting like the June 2016 meeting where Donald Trump Jr. And the Russian lawyer for that dirt on Hillary Clinton. It`s a reason why they might not have reported everything they needed to on the security clearance forms.
That argument doesn`t hold up now that you know there was this briefing, that they were briefed and warned. That meant that they should have reported past overtures, as well overtures that came after this meeting, which include Donald Trump Jr. speaking to WikiLeaks.
O`DONNELL: And, Natasha, we`re getting these reports out of the White House, about White House lawyers telling the president don`t worry. It is going to be wrapped up soon. It`s going to be wrapped up soon.
That increasingly sounds like lawyers trying to manage Donald Trump`s mood inside the White House.
NATASHA BERTRAND, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, BUSINESS INSIDER: They`re trying to make sure he doesn`t tweet essentially. They`re trying to keep him calm so that when the investigation does not end, you know, soon, that he doesn`t explode.
This is a pattern. They have been saying to Trump that the investigation was going to end by Thanksgiving, by Christmas, by New Year`s. Now, they`re saying that it might end by early next year, hopefully, this week when they actually speak to Mueller`s team, they`ll be able to work out some kind of deal in which Mueller will then write Trump a letter and exonerate him and not something he would do, according to many legal experts that I spoke to today.
But, yes, this is an effort to keep him calm, keep him off Twitter keep him from firing Mueller, because, of course, that would prompt a major backlash, there would be protests in the streets and I have spoken to many civil society groups already who say they`re preparing for that.
O`DONNELL: Jill, "The Washington Post" describes this meeting as the Trump lawyers saying to the prosecutors, OK, so, how much more work are you going to do? When are you going to wrap this up? That`s not a meeting I have ever heard of before.
WINE-BANKS: It is common for defense lawyers to come in and plead their case, and to say what they think should happen. It would be quite unusual for the prosecutor to say, here`s my strategy.
WINE-BANKS: Here`s what I plan to do.
WINE-BANKS: Here`s who I`m going to investigate. And I think if we can go back to the e-mails, one of the reasons they`re so upset about the presidential transition team`s e-mails being in the possession of Mueller is it means they cannot lie about things that happened. Because Mueller has the evidence of what really happened. And if possibly, they were interviewed before they found out about those, possibly things they said as evidence aren`t exactly true so they`re upset about that.
I can`t imagine that Mueller is going to say, I can tell you when I will be done. He will say, we have the following witnesses that need to be interviewed and then we will follow up on the leads we get from those people. And then we`ll follow up on the leads from those people. So, it won`t be over that quickly and I think that they are wrong to be telling their client it will be because, eventually, he isn`t going to trust them because as Julia said, they said that it was going to be over by Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year`s and now, we know it`s not.
O`DONNELL: But, Julia, it does sound like the management of a 4-year-old, they`re just trying to get through the day.
AINSLEY: Sure. I mean, exactly. They want to keep him calm, just like Natasha said. And at this point, it looks like his lawyers are trying to get from Mueller this same thing that Trump wanted to get from Jim Comey back when he was FBI director and to say Trump isn`t implicated in any of this. He wants to just remove himself, it`s almost like he doesn`t really care what happens to a lot of people who work on his campaign, people who may have been working on his behalf to please the boss.
He just wants to remove himself from this so he can sleep at night and move forward but, of course, it is not that easy and Robert Mueller doesn`t have a mandate to exonerate him. He doesn`t have a mandate to report to Congress, special counsel is carved out in a different piece of that. And so, this argument, might not go as far as Trump would like it to.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to something that James clapper said on CNN today in reaction to the series of phone calls that Donald Trump has had with put Vladimir Putin in the last few days.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I think this past weekend is illustrative of what a great case officer Vladimir Putin is. You have to remember Putin`s background. He`s a KGB officer. That`s what they do. They recruit assets. And I think some of that experience and instincts of Putin has come into play here in his managing of pretty important account for him if I could use that term with our president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Natasha, the president of the United States, an asset of Russian intelligence.
BERTRAND: Well, what`s fascinating about this is that he is very, very quick to trash the intelligence community when it, you know, says that he has campaigned perhaps cultivated by Russia and Russia intervened in the election to help them. But he is very quick to praise the intelligence community when it may have helped thwart a terrorist attack in Russia.
We saw that bizarre kind of press release that was released yesterday by the White House saying thank you to the CIA, you know, that Vladimir Putin actually called Trump to thank him directly for, you know, giving him this intelligence to prevent a major terrorist attack, and it may seemed like kind of a pretext of cooperation to kind of sell it to the American public this is a really good thing, actually, for the relationship with Russia to be repaired. So, that was something very unusual we saw.
As far as him being an intelligence asset of Russia, that is not something that James Clapper is not the only one saying.
O`DONNELL: And, Jill, your reaction to the president saying he is not thinking about firing the special prosecutor.
WINE-BANKS: Well, as I said before, I hope that`s true because I think it would be a constitutional crisis, and that there would be mass uprising if he does it. It would be a foolish thing for him to do.
If he`s so confident that he is innocent, then the investigation will end because unlike a U.S. attorney`s office, this is an office that will go away eventually. They will finish their work. And they will by saying nothing and by not indicting him or by not issuing a report to the Congress for impeachment, they will be saying that he did not conspire with the Russians. Their jurisdiction includes finding out what the Russians did, whether any Americans in the campaign participated in it. Those are the first two elements of their jurisdiction.
And so, if they close down the investigation without naming people for being in a conspiracy with the Russians, then Trump will have what he wants.
O`DONNELL: Natasha Bertrand, Julia Ainsley and Jill Wine-Banks, thank you all for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it.
WINE-BANKS: Thank you.
BERTRAND: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, House Republicans now seem ready to shut down their investigation of Russian interference in our election. Congressman Jim Himes, a member of the investigating committee will join us.
And next, the huge gift that Republicans gave themselves and the gift they gave the president or did the president`s accountant write this gift for him in here? Boy, there`s a lot of free money in this tax bill for Donald Trump and for Senator Bob Corker. That`s coming up.
O`DONNELL: (AUDIO GAP) only Republican who voted against the Senate version of the Trump tax cuts is now poised to become the Republican senator who gets the most credit for passing the final version of the bill when it comes to a vote again in the Senate if the bill passes the Senate this time.
The Corker kickback has now become the rallying cry of opponents of the Trump tax bill which now has a provision that neither the House nor the Senate voted on in the previous bills that is designed to greatly enrich the wealth of already very rich real estate investors like Tennessee Republican Senator Bob Corker and famous real estate investor Donald Trump. President Trump was already very happy with how much richer his own tax legislation was going to make him and his family even before the Corker kickback was inserted in the bill.
But it could be that Donald Trump and Donald Trump`s accountant always knew that this extra favorable treatment for real estate investors and developers would be quietly inserted in the bill, at the last minute. Instead of when everyone was watching in the House Ways and Means Committee mark-up and the Senate Finance Committee mark-up and the Senate floor.
As we reported last week, Senator Corker who opposed the bill to increase the deficit by one and a half trillion dollars decided to change his mind on Friday and support the final version of the bill even though that bill would still increase the deficit by a trillion and a half dollars. When David Sirota first reported this weekend on how the new version of the bill benefits Bob Corker, Senator Corker`s defense was he couldn`t possibly have been influenced by the new provision that enriches him so much because he had not read the bill. That`s right.
The senator`s defense for changing his mind on a bill that he opposed was I haven`t read the bill. That was his defense.
Senator Corker went further than that and claimed that he couldn`t understand it even if he read it. I don`t really know what the provision does to be honest. I would need an accountant to explain it. And in my experience working in the Senate on tax legislation -- that`s honest answer for most senators. They cannot explain a single sentence of tax legislation. And still, they vote for it.
But the truth is they often do actually use their own accountants to explain tax legislation to them and nothing prevented Bob Corker from doing that this weekend. From calling up his accountant and having his accountant explain to him just how many millions he might reap from this new tax provision. When David Sirota explained the tax provision to Bob Corker over the phone, Senator Corker said, quote, it sounds totally unnecessary and borderline ridiculous.
But still, as of tonight, Senator Corker plans to vote for the tax cuts and his defense of voting for the provision that benefits him and that he claims he did not know about until reporters asked him about it is that he had nothing to do with putting that provision in the bill. Well, he had nothing to do with a lot of other bad things in the bill that he`s voting for. He had nothing to do with the bill increasing the deficit by a trillion and a half dollars. That`s like someone keeping money dropped in your lap by fleeing bank robbers and keeping it because you had nothing to do with robbing the bank.
You know where this money came from. Bob Corker now knows that there`s a provision in the tax bill that is, quote, his words, unnecessary and borderline ridiculous. And it benefits him enormously.
And that has given him no pause. Not one second`s pause. He is still voting for the bill. His conscience is completely untroubled by that.
And this is the time when a senator should reach into what`s left of his decency and take to the Senate floor and announce that now that he has discovered what is actually in the bill that he had not even read when he declared his support for the bill, he can no longer support the bill because it contains a provision specifically designed to enrich him, and to enrich the president of the United States. It is a provision that is unnecessary and borderline ridiculous. That`s the speech Bob Corker`s supposed to make right now.
This is not business as usual in the Senate. Make no mistake about that. We have never seen tax legislation written like this before. I worked in the Senate writing tax legislation. This is the dirtiest bill I have ever seen.
And the question tonight is: are there two Republican senators who have the decency to stop this corrupted legislation and is Bob Corker one of those senators? If Bob Corker votes for the Corker kickback, his entire Senate career will be remembered for nothing else.
Joining us now is Ron Klain, former chief of staff to Vice Presidents Joe Bide and Al Gore, and former senior aide to President Obama. Also with us, Austan Goolsbee, an economics professor at the University of Chicago and a former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers for President Obama.
And, Ron, I just want to go to your Senate experience from the time working in the Senate. We know things get slipped into conference reports. They get slipped in at the last minute. Provisions like this, obscure provisions especially tax legislation.
What we have not seen before is a provision slipped in to a tax bill, in a conference committee that very specifically enriches the president of the United States, his family, his descendants and enriches the one senator who`s changing his mind to vote for the bill.
RON KLAIN, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO VP BIDEN: Yes, it is unprecedented as far as I know, Lawrence.
And, you know, I guess on game shows, they have parting gifts and this is the parting gift for Senator Corker. He`s going to leave to Corker kickback, millions of dollars of unearned tax breaks. And we know that one of the other beneficiaries, as you mentioned, is President Trump.
You know, President Trump, we don`t know how much it benefits him because, of course, he hasn`t released the tax returns. But one year of the tax returns came out in the campaign, 2005. And that year, he had $109 million of this pass-through income that will get special tax treatment. So, it`s a big boost for President Trump and his bank account, a big boost for Senator Corker and a complete unjustified giveaway.
O`DONNELL: Austan Goolsbee, your reaction to where this legislation stands tonight?
AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, FORMER CHAIRMAN, COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: Well, it feels like they`ve got the Republicans on board that they`re going to vote for it.
But, you know, I guess I would caution you. This provision is outrageous that we`re describing, but it`s just one little thing. That`s just one provision.
And this is like, you know, if you opened your cupboards to take out a box of cereal and you see a rat, the thing is, rats don`t travel in ones. And even if they change that provision, this thing is full of rats or stinking Easter eggs or whatever you want to call it, that they -- the president promised that they were going to end the carried interest loophole for hedge fund managers -- well, turns out that was not true. They didn`t end it.
It turns out for the middle class, more than 50 percent of America by the time they phase in the full bill, will be facing higher taxes than they do today. They`re $20 million exemptions for people with estates of $20 million and above. They cut the tax rate. They created a new bracket for millionaires to reduce their tax rate. They`re just one thing after another.
So if just that one provision were the only thing there, I feel like they could just remove that provision. But this thing is riddled with those.
O`DONNELL: Ron Klain, and legislation in the past we have never really been discussing how does it benefit an individual? How does it benefit the president? We have not had presidents who own and operate businesses, especially big real estate businesses and senators, and how does it benefit individual senators?
When we have seen changes made in legislation for a particular senator, what they were doing was changing the impact on that senator`s state. They were literally changing the impact on Nebraska, not on the individual senator representing Nebraska. This is what I`m talking about as being something we haven`t seen before.
KLAIN: That`s right, Lawrence. I mean, look. I think if someone`s out there watching your program tonight and they`re not sure if this bill benefits them or not, they should take out their smartphone and see if one of the last ten numbers they called was a powerful Washington lobbyist. If it was, then this bill probably works for you. If it wasn`t, then this bill passes your taxes.
Now, Senator Corker, he is better than the powerful Washington lobbyists. He is the key vote on the tax bill. And miraculously, as if by immaculate conception, a provision gets inserted that was neither in the House bill, nor in the Senate bill, that`s passed up at the last minute and pads Senator Corker`s bank account and pads President Trump`s bank account. That is just an outrage of the first order.
O`DONNELL: And, Austan, I think you`re very familiar with the economic illiteracy of the members of Congress, having to try to persuade them about certain economic issues. But one thing I have also noticed, when a big tax legislation is moving that affects any of the interests of senators this way, they`re very aware of how that affects them.
And what I`ve seen up close more than once are senators actually voting to increase taxes on themselves, knowing full well that they were doing that and not asking for any special carve-offs and favors in doing that.
GOOLSBEE: You wish that our leaders were mostly concerned with the fate of the country. And what would be best for the nation. And if that were the argument that we were having at least I would understand. You know, they believe that this is going to be better for the country and we believe that the corporations will not pass the massive savings that they get on to workers in the form of $4,000 more of wages.
We can have a debate about facts or about economics. It doesn`t feel like that`s what`s happening here and I don`t think that it`s a coincidence. I think this comes from the top. You know? We`ve got a Whitehouse in which they don`t fill out their conflict of interest forms.
They constantly correct it. Oh, did I forget that I had $50 million of that type of asset? We have got what seem to be pretty serious accusations of violating the emoluments clause of the constitution, violating conflicts of interest and that culture permeates from the top. And I think you`re seeing that in Congress now.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Austan Goolsbee and Ron Klain thank you both for joining us tonight, appreciate it.
RON KLAIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Up next, are house Republicans trying to shut down their own Russia Investigation? Congressman Jim Himes joins us next.
O`DONNELL: Today Rob Goldstone, the British Publicist who helped arrange a meeting at Trump Tower with a group of Russians and Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort testified at a close door session on the House Intelligence Committee. And apparently Rob Goldstone knows his way around Trump Tower a little better than the Capitol because after leaving the committee meeting he had some trouble finding his way out of the building.
Does a little bit of a circle there and then -- and then eventually gets on track headed in the right direction. Right about now. Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee have requested interviews with 30 possible witnesses but the Republican Leadership of the Committee have not scheduled any of those interviews. Today NBC News reports that Senior Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee say they`re getting ready to shut down their Russia Investigation in quote the coming weeks.
Joining us now, Connecticut democrat Congressman Jim Himes, a member of the House Intelligence Committee. Congressman Himes, is it your sense that this is going to be shut down?
JIM HIMES, UNITED STATES CONGRESSMAN: Well, I sure hope not. I mean, it looks a little that way. I mean I was looking at my calendar today and there are eight separate interviews scheduled for this week. Eight is typically the number of interviews we might do in a month and a half. Today alone we had three. two of these are scheduled in New York and at times when theoretically we might be in Washington voting on the tax bill or the budget towards the end of the week. So it sure feels like an awful lot is crammed into one week and we don`t have a lot scheduled down the road which really concerns me because there`s still work to be done here, witnesses that have yet to be called. We`re only now getting the documents that we have asked so my hope is that what appears to be happening is not in fact happening and will have the opportunity to do a good solid comprehensive job here.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Himes, I have to say when I worked in the Congress, there was no doubt among committee members about something like this. They all knew exactly what to expect, how long the commitment was. You wouldn`t be sitting around wondering if the other side was going to end something like this. Is this the new normal in the House of Representatives any way?
HIMES: Well, you know, sadly, particularly on the House side, we have been beset by partisan activity. Our chairman had to recuse himself most memorably a couple of months and Mike Conaway stepped in. You know the Committee has been particularly focused on thing like unmasking the possibly that Trump was wiretapped in Trump Tower. Things that are sort of not necessarily germane to the investigation.
So it is fair to say that the House Investigation had more than its fair of partisanship and people on the Committee more than aware of the fact that Mueller and the FBI Investigation is producing new information that we don`t necessarily have access to so apart of the fact there`s witnesses to want to interview, you would hate to stop at the House investigation or any investigation at a time where there could be additional revelations out of the FBI Investigation that Congress might want to follow up on
O`DONNELL: But the FBI Investigation and the Mueller Investigation is exactly what Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy pointed to today about this saying I think most people are waiting on Mueller so given the fact there`s a Special Prosecutor Investigation, how important is it for the house to continue to proceed?
HIMES: Well, it`s really important, right, because Mueller has resources that we don`t begin to have. He`s got a lot more people, He`s the ability to very rapidly subpoena, to have people who will cooperate, wearing wires, all of that stuff. And you know, let me give you one example. it`s sort of a little embarrassing to say but the House Investigatory Committee was caught I think as much by surprise as any one else by the revelation of the Donald Trump Jr. meeting.
That subsequently, of course, became the topic of the investigation. We had the President`s son in for an interview. You would really hate to shut down the investigation in January only to discover in February that there was all kinds of stuff that you did not take into account as you`re drafting your report. So it feels to me at a minimum we ought to get through the witness that is we want the see and then we ought to be very cautious and deliberate in not winding up a lot sooner than the Mueller Investigation or the Senate Investigation.
O`DONNELL: Has the witness list as it developed so far been developed in a bipartisan way? I see Rob Goldstone in there today. Was that the Democrats request that he be in there? Was that the Republicans idea he be in there? Was that bipartisan idea?
HIMES: Yes. Generally, and look, having said that the House Investigation has been beset by bipartisanship, you know generally Mike Conway who stepped in to chair the investigations and Adam Schiff have worked very, very well together. And there have been moments where we have requested subpoenas, where we have requested witnesses and it hasn`t happened quite as fast as we would like.
But we haven`t been told flat-out no if the investigation is ended and we are told flat-out no on a couple of dozen witnesses that are important we`ll obviously explain to the American people who those witnesses were, why we thought they were important and let the American people judge whether they were germane to the investigation. But.I do want to say that, you know, in general, it has been a cooperative environment within the investigation.
O`DONNELL: A quick word about independent candidate Jill Stein. Green Party Candidate Jill Stein, the Senate Intelligence Committee apparently has requested documents from the Jill Stein campaign. Is that an area that you`re exploring?
HINES: So I have no personal knowledge of that and we also tried to be pretty careful out of not disclosing the, you know, ins and outs of the mechanics of our own investigations. I will say and this really important. Another reason why the House Investigation should not be ended too abruptly and troubled me for sometime, the Senate and the House had been sort of proceeding down their own paths.
You just told the story of Jill Stein. it really is important if the Congress is to produce one or two reports that are consistent with each other around how we were attacked, how we responded to those attacks. It`s important that we have the benefit of the Senate`s work and they have the benefit of our work which is yet another reason why we shouldn`t be bringing the House Investigation to a close well before the Senate does.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Jim Himes, thank you for joining us again tonight, really appreciate it.
HINES: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, Politico is reporting that some of the Senators, some of the Democratic Senators who asked Al Franken to resign have now changed their minds. Will Al Franken change his mind? That`s next
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think Senator Franken should not resign in January?
JOE MANCHIN, UNITED STATES SENATOR: I definitely think he should not resign. I think he should submit himself which he has willing will done and offered to do and go through the complete process of an extensive ethics review and whatever the outcome is, I will live with it.
I have seen a person that has -- his own caucus turned on. It made me sick. They know how I feel. My caucus know I`m upset with the process or lack of a process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Democratic Senator Joe Manchin not one of the Democratic Senators who urged Senator Al Franken to resign and now Senator Manchin is urging Senator Franken not to resign. According to a new report in Politico, at least four senators are urging Al Franken to reconsider resigning including two who issued statements calling for the resignation two weeks ago. And said they now feel remorse over what they feel was a rush to judgment.
Senator Patrick Leahy with a statement calling for the resignation has since told him privately that he regrets doing so according to two people familiar with the conversation. Leahy declined to comment. I think we acted prematurely before we had all the facts said a third Senator who has also called for the resignation and has since expressed regret directly to Franken.
In retrospect, I think we acted too fast. With Al Franken on the verge of resignation, official resignation, any day now, here is some more of what Senator Manchin said in his interview with Politico.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANCHIN: What they did to Al Franken, I`m sorry, what they did to Al was atrocious. The Democrats, he most hypocritical thing I have ever seen done to a human being and have enough guts to sit on the floor and watch him give the speech and go over and hug him? That`s hypocrisy at the highest level I have ever seen at my life. It made me sick.
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O`DONNELL: Up next, the Politico Reporter who broke the story of Democratic Senators now changing their minds about Senator Franken.
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MANCHIN: I`m not defending him. I`m just saying that Al Franken and every other man or woman should have the process they`re able to go through. His best defense was the day he spoke and he says I`m going to leave. My goodness, I think people in that audience had already signed for him to leave had a second thought. So I think they wish it would have gone through a process, too.
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O`DONNELL: Joining us now Edward-Isaac Dovere, Chief Washington Correspondent for Politico. And you broke this story about what Senator Manchin has been thinking. Is this -- Senator Manchin has been consistent apparently straight through but tell us about these Senators who have changed their minds, including the Senator you talked to who is unnamed who changed his mind. Is this the Senators own thinking? Are they talking about themselves? Is it constituent feedback they`re getting?
EDWARD-ISAAC DOVERE, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: Well I spoke with Senator Manchin last week for the podcast interview that you played a little clip of. And then after he made the comments he made, I was asking around a little bit about it and started to hear that there were some other Senators that felt that way.
I talked to two over the weekend who told me not by name but that they were among those who felt regret and remorse about what happened. I reported that Patrick Leahy had said it to Franken privately. Senator Leahy put out a statement today confirming that that is true and that he does feel that way.
So they have been saying it to Franken and whether anything more becomes of had, we`ll see at this point. As far as all the reporting that I`ve done, Franken is Planning to go, he does not see a way to change the situation and expecting to leave in early January.
O`DONNELL: And I`ve heard indications it could be sooner than that since his successor has been chosen. Let`s listen to more of your interview with Joe Manchin because I have to say in my experience, I have not heard a Senator talk about his colleagues in his own party this way before. Let`s listen to this.
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MANCHIN: I hope they have enough guts, if they had enough guts, enough conscience and enough heart to say, Al, we made a mistake asking prematurely for you to leave. Least go through now, al, would you subject yourself to a rigorous ethics examination? An ethics, you know, investigation and live by whatever comes out and then we`ll put the vote on you, al. That`s what they should do. That`s the human and decent thing to do. If they have any decency in them they`d do that. Every one of them that signed for him to go out including Chuck Schumer would do that.
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O`DONNELL: To hear him mention his party leader`s name of the Senate specifically on this is really extraordinary.
DOVERE: It is. And I will tell you that there is more of that interview that`s going online tomorrow morning, the full interview. And there are some comments that he made about other people in other context, saying to Elizabeth Warren that Washington Democrats have given up on holding people responsible for anything and very critical of members of his own party, but at the same time, Manchin points out he feels he has every reason to work with Donald Trump.
That there was no outreach and effort for him to join in on the tax bill that`s why he hasn`t supported that or Obamacare Appeal. And so this Franken situation is just the tip of. iceberg for him. And he`s really upset about where these are.
O`DONNELL: And Franken and Manchin are on opposite ends of the Democratic Party. These are not people who agree very much on how the Democratic Party should approach anything. So that makes this all the more fascinating to watch.
DOVERE: Yes, he is not saying oh, I`m looking forward to working on bills with Al Franken. Much more so he`s looking forward to Doug Jones being in the Senate. But he is saying that there is a process here and he feels like that process should have been gone through. Now notably I talk to someone who is in touch with Kirsten Gillibrand who helps lead the charge for Franken to be pushed out the door by his colleagues essentially is what happened there. And Gillibrand has apparently been saying to people that she feels like, hey, Franken was entitled to the process if he wanted to. But he wasn`t entitled to my silence is how she`s put it.
O`DONNELL: Edward-Isaac Dovere thank you for your reporting. Thank you for joining us.
DOVERE: Thank you Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Really appreciate it, thank you. Tonight`s Last Word is next.
O`DONNELL: Friday night i introduced you to Maureen Vester, she is 8 years old, she is a second grader in Malawi. That`s a picture of her last year when she was a first grader. That was the day she got her desk delivered to her, first time she`d ever seen a desk, and the rest of the kids first time they saw a desk
Thanks to the K.I.N.D. Program, Kids In Need of Desks. That is a fund that I created with Unicef that you have been supporting every year since we`ve been doing this show . And he is some tweets from Friday night.
The great Joy Reid was watching and she tweeted just made the annual Reid family donation to the K.I.N.D. Fund and dedicated this year gift to future Dr, Maureen. Much love to Lawrence for this incredible effort and I told a complicated story that she`s referring to there that you can go back and find.
And Maureen told us this year that she wants to be a doctor. And that`s what joy was referring to there. And that is what you`re doing. You`re enabling girls like Maureen to get a better education and you`re helping them to get through high school because high school in Malawi, public high school is not free.
There is tuition and it is very hard for girls particularly to scrape up for money for that. And that`s why we provide scholarships for girls to finish school in Malawi. And then from Cynthia Deni we got for Dr. Maureen join me in donating to the K.I.N.D., Kids In Need of Desks. Help lift these young girls up out of the dirt and give them a proper place to sit, to write and to succeed. And you have done that to an extraordinary degree.
Just over the weekend, thanks to your fascination with Maureen, you have contributed just over this weekend $246,625. That`s all thanks to introducing you to Maureen on Friday night. We will have updates on total later this week. That is Tonight`s Last Word.
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