Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: January 10, 2018 Guest: Ron Klain, Jennifer Rubin
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel. So, Normay.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, TRMS: Normay.
MADDOW: The prime minister of Normay appeared unfazed.
O`DONNELL: So, Normay -- there should be a Normay, though. Don`t you? I mean, when you think of the country names in the world, it`s --
MADDOW: Nambia, Smeden. I know.
O`DONNELL: Norway, Normay, what`s wrong with Normay?
MADDOW: I know.
O`DONNELL: And Norm MacDonald should be the prime minister of Normay or something such.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Well, the president seemed to move us one step closer to a constitutional crisis today simply by saying, "we`ll see what happens."
We`ll see what happens is an OK answer to some questions. But it is a very, very bad answer to other questions.
Are you here to rob this bank? We`ll see what happens. That is not a good answer. And it is a terrible answer to questions like this question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Would you be willing to speak under oath to give your version of these events?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One hundred percent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: See? That`s the right answer. That`s the right answer.
The president of the United States is willing to submit to appropriate legal process. The president gave that answer seven months ago. Today, the president was asked exactly the same question and he said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We`ll see what happens. I mean, certainly I`ll see what happens. But when they have no collusion and nobody`s found any collusion at any level, it seems unlikely that you`d even have an interview.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That answer sent Washington political and legal analysts into overdrive today trying to figure out what that meant. Would the president refuse to cooperate with the special prosecutor? Would he even refuse to respond to a subpoena? And what would happen if the president defied a special prosecutor`s subpoena?
We will consider all of those questions. But first, let`s consider, what`s the difference? What`s the difference between now and seven months ago? Seven months ago, the special prosecutor was quietly working in secret and publicly revealing none of the results of his investigation. Seven months ago, the special prosecutor had brought no indictments and had no convictions, no guilty pleas.
Since then, the special prosecutor has a guilty plea from George Papadopoulos, the Trump campaign aide who reportedly provoked the opening of an FBI investigation of the Trump campaign`s contacts with Russia during the campaign by telling the Australian ambassador to the United Kingdom that Russia had e-mails of Hillary Clinton.
And the special prosecutor has a guilty plea from the Trump campaign`s top foreign policy adviser, former General Michael Flynn, who became President Trump`s national security adviser in the White House for 24 days before he was forced to resign because of a FBI investigation of him that was under way long before there was a special prosecutor. Special prosecutor took over that investigation of Michael Flynn and within a few months obtained a guilty plea from Flynn who along with Papadopoulos is now working as a fully engaged witness for the special prosecutor, telling the special prosecutor everything that he knows. As is Papadopoulos, including, of course, everything that they know about Donald Trump himself.
And Donald Trump knows they`re doing that now. Donald Trump also knows that his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort could turn on him at any moment and reach a plea agreement with the special prosecutor on his indictments for money laundering and other crimes. As can Paul Manafort`s partner who also joined the Trump campaign and is also facing the same kind of indictments Paul Manafort is now facing from the special prosecutor.
So, what`s changed in seven months?
Donald Trump knows tonight that the special prosecutor already has at least two fully cooperating witnesses revealing everything that they know about Donald Trump and might soon have two more. And Donald Trump knows that the special prosecutor`s investigation`s getting even closer to his son-in-law Jared Kushner who faces the possibility of being indicted for lying about his contacts with Russians and other foreign nationals.
In other words, the noose is tightening around the Trump White House and the Trump family. And the president knows by now that all of his lawyers` public claims that the special prosecutor`s work was winding down is pure fiction and that the special prosecutor is still adding to his staff of legal experts pursuing this investigation.
The most notable new member of the team is Ryan K. Dickey, a federal prosecutor of the Justice Department`s computer crimes section. Ryan Dickey participated in the investigation of the famous hacker known as Guccifer, who is now serving a federal prison sentence.
Donald Trump does not know how to use e-mail. He clearly does not have the experience or the capacity to even begin to imagine what a cyber investigation actually is and what -- and Donald Trump might then actually assume that he is safe from Ryan Dickey`s cyber investigation simply because he himself never uses e-mail. But everything that has happened in the special prosecutor`s investigation, the last seven months has obviously been terrifying for Donald Trump.
How terrifying? A hundred percent guarantee that he would submit to an interview with the special prosecutor has now become -- we`ll see what happens.
Joining us now: Jill Wine-Banks, former assistant Watergate special prosecutor and an MSNBC contributor, Ron Klain, former chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden and Al Gore, and a former senior aide to President Obama. He`s also a former chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Also with us, Jennifer Rubin, conservative opinion writer at "The Washington Post" and an MSNBC contributor.
Jill, your interpretation of what you heard the president say today about his cooperation with the special prosecutor.
JILL WINE-BANKS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, there are three things that I want to say about that. One, it`s not his choice. If he wants to try to evade what he had already promised, he can be subpoenaed. So, he either cooperates which would be politically the smart thing to do or he gets subpoenaed which would be politically very bad for him.
He has to appear. He has to testify. He would not be the first president to do that.
We interviewed Nixon after he resigned. Clinton had to testify. Ford had to testify. So, he`s going to have to testify and he may as well do it gracefully instead of making it look even worse for him.
O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Jill. Sorry.
WINE-BANKS: The second thing which is really important is that it`s sort of like what led to the Saturday Night Massacre when Nixon tried to compromise with us by offering -- he wouldn`t give the tapes. He would let the Senator Stennis listen to the tapes and tell us what they said which would not have been admissible evidence. We couldn`t accept that. That`s what led to the press conference that led to the Saturday Night Massacre.
So, he can`t compromise and I don`t think Mueller will be likely to say, OK, you can answer written questions. That`s just not going to happen.
And the third thing is, he is going to be in a big risk because he doesn`t know what Flynn actually knows, what other cooperating witnesses Papadopoulos and maybe others cooperating. He doesn`t know. John Dean has said the biggest mistake the White House had during Watergate was they didn`t realize how much he knew and he testified fully and that was a very good grounds for us to cross-examine all of the defendants, including the president.
So, I think those are important things to keep in mind in this.
O`DONNELL: Ron and Jill, I want you to put your heads together on this if you might.
And, Ron, on the question of federal criminal process here, let`s say this comes to a subpoena. Who goes to the White House with what subpoena? And I mean quite literally, Ron, since you have worked there, how does that person get in to the White House? Because the only way in to the White House is that someone in the White House has to grant you that admission at the White House gate. How does this work?
RON KLAIN: Well, you know, Lawrence, we`ll see just how obstreperous President Trump gets. But there are definitely ways to serve that subpoena. But at the end of the day, you know, it`s duty, ultimately I suppose, of the deputy attorney general, one of his weekly visits over to the White House to deliver it if need be.
I`m not really worried about the subpoena getting there. I think the question is, what President Trump does when it arrives. And as Jill said, this isn`t a question of what he wants to do. He has no choice. He has one right that`s left, though.
We talked tonight about the briefing on to the Constitution Donald Trump got. I hope he got up to the Fifth Amendment and may be -- you know, that may be what this comes down to, whether or not we have the incredible spectacle, sitting president of the United States repeatedly asserting his Fifth Amendment defense to decline to answer Bob Mueller`s questions. That`s really the only option in the end Donald Trump has.
O`DONNELL: I have a funny feeling the Fifth Amendment is the only one Donald Trump knew before becoming president.
But, Jill, let me go back to you just quickly on this procedural notion. Did you have to consider this during the Nixon investigation if we have to serve a subpoena, how do we actually put the piece of paper in the president`s hand?
WINE-BANKS: We actually did worry about that. We eventually worked out. The subpoena went through his lawyers and they accepted delivery of the subpoena.
But then, we worried about if he didn`t comply with the subpoena by turning over the documents, how would we get a marshal to enter the White House to seize the documents? That was a serious question. And we never really figured out an answer, but luckily public pressure after the Saturday night massacre forced the president to agree to give us the tapes.
O`DONNELL: And, Jennifer Rubin, as we sit here tonight discussing this, Richard Nixon seems like such a reasonable man compared to --
JENNIFER RUBIN, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: And a smart one, yes.
O`DONNELL: Yes, compared to Donald Trump.
Also, you know, law school graduate who understood the process and ultimately I think Jill would agree recognized that there wasn`t going a way -- this was eventually going to close in and not put the country through this strange exercise of a marshal and thing out on Pennsylvania Avenue trying to figure out how to get in.
But, Jennifer, your -- what was your reaction to what you heard the president say today backing off the 100 percent guarantee that he would cooperate?
RUBIN: But you have to understand that despite all the bluster, despite all the chest pounding and the throwing the dust in the air, Donald Trump is a coward. He`s a physical coward. He`s an emotional coward. So, he will not have the nerve to stand up and say, I won`t be questioned by Mr. Mueller.
And then when he does he is going to be putty in his hand because three things. One, he doesn`t know what he shouldn`t say. He doesn`t know and still doesn`t accept that obstruction of justice is something that he can commit and can be prosecuted after leaving office or impeached for. Secondly, he doesn`t know what the other people know. And third of all, he doesn`t know what the special prosecutors have in terms of documentary evidence about his finances.
So, it is a minefield. I can imagine his lawyers must be having a nervous break down at the prospect that he would be testifying under oath. Really, Trump has two choices and two choices only. One, he can do this in an interview or maybe his lawyers get to be present. Or secondly, he can do it in front of a grand jury where even his lawyer isn`t there. So, he could pick poison, but he`s going to have to go there and do his bit.
O`DONNELL: The president issued an angry tweet today about all of these investigations, saying it`s a witch hunt and ending with the line, saying the world`s laughing at us and ending with the line Republicans should finally take control.
And, Ron Klain, it was not clear to me whether he meant that Republicans should take control of the investigations going on in the committees and the congressional investigations or whether he meant they should take control of -- also take control of the special prosecutor`s investigation.
KLAIN: Yes. I think this is a little bit of King Henry, won`t someone rid me of this man? You know, he`s looking for someone to shut this thing down because the water is rising.
And let`s be clear. The only witch hunt going on here is a question of which members of the Trump inner circle committed which crimes, because that is the witches we`re down to. There are convictions. There are indictments.
I mean, you know, this is far from anything other than a rounding of the wagons to figure out ultimately who gets charged with what. And that`s got to be scaring Donald Trump tonight.
O`DONNELL: Well, luckily, a reporter got a chance to ask the president today what he meant by Republicans taking control of the investigation and we have that video right now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Mr. President, how do you want Republicans to take control of the Russian investigation?
TRUMP: Thank you very much, everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Jill, he meant thank you very much apparently. That was his answer to that question.
WINE-BANKS: That`s his answer to a lot of questions and I think he has plenty to be worried about and I think we`re also getting away from the main purpose of the congressional investigations is, which is to find out how to protect American elections from the Russians interfering with them and I think that the Democratic report today, Senator Cardin spoke very well about that, is something that we need to pay attention to.
What are the steps we should be taking before 2018, so that we have a free and fair election, not subject to foreign intervention?
O`DONNELL: And, Jennifer, that is the part that I`m so glad Jill brought it up. That`s the part lost in all of this, in all of our coverage, because we are pursuing this criminal investigation at the same time. But there is also the issue of how do we protect this country`s election process going forward and this is an administration that`s doing absolutely nothing about that.
RUBIN: Right. That`s really struck me. First of all, the Republicans didn`t join in the report. It`s a superb report. I talked to a number of foreign policy specialists. It`s detailed, it`s factually accurate, it makes concrete suggestions. Why in the world Republicans would not join on this any other time? It would be unheard of. But they can`t join because Donald Trump won`t admit that Russia is a real problem.
So, are they interested in protecting the country? It doesn`t seem like. And certainly, if you go back to the transcript of the fascinating interview before the Judicial Committee by Glenn R. Simpson, who is the founder of Fusion GPS, it is very obvious that the lawyer doing the questioning on behalf of the Republicans is interested in no real substantive data. His entire line of questioning had nothing to do with the substance either of the dossier, the so-called dossier, or the level of confidence that Fusion GPS had in the dossier or anything else in substance.
They`re there for one reason and one reason only and that is to protect the president. And that regard, they`ve become complicit in this. They`ve become co-enablers. They`ve become co-conspirators in a plot to obstruct justice. And I think when this all washes out, they`re going to be people like Lindsey Graham who used to have a spine and I think just pines to be Mr. Trump`s secretary of state, who are going to look very bad in the light of history.
O`DONNELL: And, Jill, to Jennifer`s point, when you read that transcript as I did yesterday, the first, you know -- long hour of it at least is all this stuff that is not directly on point to why this witness is there.
Once you get to the real issues of why the witness is there, it`s really just the Democratic staff that are asking those questions, although you can`t tell in the reading of that whether it`s Democratic staff or Republican staff. The questions all make perfect sense and trying to pursue what was really going on in that investigation. But when you step back far it and look at who asked the questions, the Republican staff as Jennifer points out really did not ask virtually any relevant questions at all.
WINE-BANKS: You are both absolutely correct. And it is very much confounding to me that there could have been a criminal referral made by Graham and Grassley after that testimony. It`s clear that he, Steele, was a completely credible source, that the FBI wasn`t acting fast enough and he was genuinely concerned about the impact on American election and on American democracy.
And if he went to the press, it was because he was trying to make sure that Americans knew what was going on. And that he believed his information and had credible information.
So, it`s a very concerning how the Republicans handled that hearing, and the suppression of the tape. Congratulations to Senator Feinstein for releasing it.
O`DONNELL: We are now going to have to create a new graphic for this show written by Ron Klain called which hunt.
Jill Wine-Banks --
WINE-BANKS: Except for my pin. Notice my witch pin.
Jill Wine-Banks and Ron Klain, thank you both for joining us tonight. Jennifer, please stick around.
Coming up, Senator Amy Klobuchar, member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, will join us and tell us the committee`s reaction to Senator Feinstein releasing that transcript yesterday. And one of the sources of the Fusion GPS dossier on President Trump will join us.
And the president`s public schedule is now being dictated by Michael Wolff`s book "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House." The Trump White House is doing everything it possibly can to prove that the book is untrue and what they`re doing is not working.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Welcome back to the studio. Nice to have you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Welcome back to the studio.
The image of Donald Trump created in Michael Wolff`s new book "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House" is now completely controlling the president`s public schedule. Yesterday, the White House decided to show that the president has not lost his mind. Something no other White House staff has ever had to try to prove.
And so, the White House staff allowed the first hour of the president`s meeting with a bipartisan group of congressional leaders in the cabinet room to be televised and that showed the president in action in a policy discussion exactly as he is depicted in Michael Wolff`s book. And that is, of course, agreeing with whoever is the last person to speak to him.
And yesterday, we saw the president do that, after every Democrat spoke and then after every Republican spoke. First he agreed with Senator Dianne Feinstein. To the Democratic Party idea that they should just legislate a fix for DACA kids as fast as possible as a clean bill with nothing else on it.
Then, when Republicans started interrupting and seized back the president`s attention, he agreed with them that, of course, we can`t do that. And so, it went, back and forth. The dysfunctional president who understands none of the legislative components or the legislative strategy being discussed. A discussion that he has been forced to participate on TV to prove that he does know what he`s doing.
It was alarming to anyone who thinks that the president should actually have his own policy position on this or any other issue. No one was more alarmed, more disappointed in the president yesterday than the hardliners on immigration like the banished Steve Bannon and Ann Coulter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANN COULTER, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think we can call this the lowest day in the Trump presidency. I mean, he was clearly trying to overcome the bad press of this Michael Wolff book by showing, oh, he`s in command. But in fact, what he did was fulfill every description of him in the Michael Wolff book. He doesn`t listen. He has no command of the facts. He agrees with the last person who speaks to him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Sam Stein, the politics editor of "The Daily Beast". He`s also an MSNBC contributor. And back with us, Jennifer Rubin.
And, Sam, I know these words are going to live in infamy for me on Google but I`m forced to say them.
SAM STEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Say it. Say it.
O`DONNELL: I agree with Ann Coulter.
STEIN: I knew you would say that.
STEIN: Yes. We`ll let that linger a little bit.
O`DONNELL: No, don`t. Jump in there, Sam.
STEIN: It was a remarkable but somewhat predictable moment. Not the Ann Coulter comment but the Trump session.
And it was very clear from the get-go that this was not done for any other reason than to counteract the narrative of Trump being way out of his league and in total dis-command of the policy elements of any policy threw in front of him. And what he ended up showing essentially he would sign anything, literally anything that was put in front of him. His position according to him was whatever the people in the room agreed to.
And maybe this works with health care and he could get by, maybe this works with tax policy and he can get by, but immigration was the bedrock principle, the bedrock issue upon which his entire campaign based and it`s what drew a lot of this nationalist right to his campaign. It is what he used as a cudgel against virtually every other candidate in the race.
And what we`ve seen is that there was no principle at all. That it was a posture. And it`s not just yesterday in this session that we have seen it. His position on the wall which was always symbolic but an important symbol of his immigration policy has been basically upended over the summer, and to this very day, there is no such thing at the wall outlined in the campaign. There`s no coast to coast wall. Mexico`s not going to pay for it.
Now, it`s very much very much of a conservative mainstream position of what a wall should be, which is a mix of physical barrier, along with border security in the form of drones and new technologies. And it`s just a remarkable thing to see him come to what would have been a heretical portion for him in the 2016 primary.
O`DONNELL: Jennifer, Sam says it`s a symbolic position. I heard him describe it in physical detail. I heard him tell us the days on which it got higher in height. It went up ten feet, if someone in Mexico said something that bothered him.
And so, I -- were there not a substantial number in your estimation of Trump voters out there who believed the president`s physical description of this wall from the Pacific Coast to the Gulf Coast?
RUBIN: Lawrence, you are taking him literally. And you should have been taking him figuratively, metaphorically. You know, it is a wall in the sense that it`s a divide, a great divide between the two countries.
Listen, he never intended I think to do anything or say anything that was going to cost him any of the votes in his base. So, if he had to say that the wall was going to be pink and purple with elephants dancing on the top, he would have said it. He has no sense of reality. He has no sense of what is possible. He probably doesn`t even remember what promises he made and what promises he`s reversing.
What you have to understand with Donald Trump is every time he says something you really have to ask three questions of yourself.
One, does he have any clue what is going on in the room? And Sam is exactly right. He obviously didn`t know what was going on in that meeting and he would just yes, yes to anyone who talked to him.
Secondly, did he once know what he was talking about and then forget in the guy with the greatest memory appears to not remember what he said the day before.
And third is, is he trying to snow and intimidate and really insult the American people`s intelligence? And that`s possible, too.
But I think what we saw here and imagine that this was not about the wall but about North Korea or about Iran, can you imagine someone trying to make decisions like this? Oh, and, by the way, he is trying to make a decision on Iran for a deadline on Friday.
So, it`s frightful. It`s exactly what the critics have said. It`s exactly what`s in Michael Wolff`s book, and now, we can all go to bed understanding that the president has not a clue what is going on around him. And if you want to deal on DACA, as I and other people do, you should make sure that Stephen Miller is not the last person to talk to Donald Trump.
O`DONNELL: And, Sam Stein, the deal on DACA, the polls indicate the Democrats have tremendous leverage, 83 percent of Americans want to continue DACA, 63 percent of Trump voters favored granting DREAMers citizenship, and that`s in a Fox News poll.
STEIN: You know, this has been the standard -- maybe not that high but it`s polled this way and polled favorably this way for a long time. The only caveat here is there have been issues before that poll overwhelmingly popular that have gone nowhere in Congress. Chief among them gun control for instance.
That being said, from my own reporting, I can detect actual green shoots of optimism about the possibility of a deal getting done.
Now, of course, it all could go to hell. There`s a possibility that some of the hardliners will get Trump`s ear at the end. But people on the hill genuinely believe they have at least the contours of what an agreement should look like.
The question is, what is the vehicle for pushing it? Do you attach it to a must-pass government funding bill? Do you wait until the expiration of DACA program as defined by Donald Trump, although there are protections expiring in real-time? And the question now that I`m trying to figure out is, what does the Democratic Party feel is the best leverage point?
So, those are the major questions. They tend to be actually more procedural than legislative in some respects.
O`DONNELL: Jennifer Rubin, thank you for joining us.
And Sam Stein, THE LAST WORD`s optimism correspondent, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
STEIN: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Really appreciate it. Coming up, Senator Amy Klobuchar member of the Senate Judiciary Committee will tell us where the committee goes from here now that Senator Feinstein has released the previously secret committee transcript, on the Fusion GPS interview. And one of the first sources consulted by Fusion GPS in its investigation of Donald Trump when they were assembling that dossier, one of those very first sources will join us.
O`DONNELL: So the day after senator Dianne Feinstein, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee took it upon herself to defy the Republican Chairman of that Committee and release the interview transcript of Fusion GPS co-founder Glen Simpson, The reaction from the Republican Chairman of the Committee and other Republicans on the Committee to my great surprise was not outrage. Instead, the Republican reaction suggested it was no big deal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LINDSEY GRAHAM, UNITED STATES SENATOR: I`m actually OK with that. I want the public to know about the dossier and how it was used by the FBI. I want the public to see some of the things I have seen about Mr. Steele.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And even more to my surprise the almost always cantankerous sounding Chuck Grassley, the Chairman of the Committee, who`s usually very easy to anger sounded like he wanted to make peace with Senator Feinstein.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK GRASSLEY, UNITED STATES SENATOR: Obviously I was a little disappointed because I had an understanding ahead a time that it`d released when we both agreed to release it. And I think I`ve shown my cooperation with the other side by just yesterday agreeing to two interviews that they want of their -- at their request. And so, I think we`re going to move forward without any glitch in the way we have been operating.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The one Republican who was outraged by Senator Feinstein did is the one who knows absolutely nothing about the rules and procedures and customs of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Donald trump wet the tweeted the fact that sneaky Dianne Feinstein who has numerous occasions stated that collusion between Trump/Russia has not been found would release testimony in such an underhanded and possibly illegal way totally without authorization is a disgrace, must have tough primary exclamation point. Joining us, democratic member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and Minnesota Senior Senator Amy Klobuchar. Senator Klobuchar, thank you for joining us tonight.
AMY KLOBUCHAR, UNITED STATES SENATOR: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Did you have any advance warning from Senator Feinstein that she was going to do this?
KLOBUCHAR: Well a number of had been talking for days and come out and she had, as well, saying it should be released, that Chairman Grassley should release it but it wasn`t happening. She went ahead and did it.
And let me explain the between the tea leaves here why the Republicans may be muted on this. Let`s remember that first of all Chairman Grassley wanted Glen Simpson to testify publicly, right? So why would he care if it`s released?
Secondly, you have the fact that Simpson himself has said he wanted it released, the transcript. And I think that`s a pretty big deal because if the witness had said otherwise I`m sure she would have come to another decision in this case.
And the third thing is that there`s a right to know. Senator Cornyn, number two Republican in the Senate, also said in addition to the remarks you included today, he said, look, I believe in transparency. And that was key. There were things leaking, things were coming out and being used about that testimony that weren`t fair and it was important that the American public got the full story.
O`DONNELL: Senator Grassley did say today that he was concerned that something like this might inhibit Jared Kushner from cooperating with the committee.
KLOBUCHAR: Well, I would be more concerned if this was a witness that said I don`t want this public and you might have then people not want to come forward and talk behind closed doors. But in this case, you had the situation where a witness actually publicly said I want this out there. Things are coming out that aren`t true.
You know for instance, the number of things were coming out about that in fact they had asked Steele to go to the FBI and that just came out as not true in the testimony that Steele had gone to them and said he felt it was his obligation to the go to the FBI and being reported that Democrats paid for this report and, in fact, in the testimony Glen Simpson explains that both Republicans and Democrats were paying.
O`DONNELL: The -- as we know, the president tweeted today that Republicans should finally take control of the investigations. We are not sure whether he also means the special prosecutor`s investigation. But he certainly seemed to mean the Congressional Investigation.
And your Committee`s Investigation, the Judiciary Committee. Let`s listen to how your Chairman, Chairman Grassley reacted to that today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRASSLEY: I don`t know what the President has in mind and I don`t think I better comment until I have a discussion with the President on that point. And I don`t intend to have a discussion with the President on that point. And i hope he doesn`t call me and tell me the same thing that you said he said.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Senator, your reaction to that?
KLOBUCHAR: Well, I think that was pretty direct. What the Chairman was saying, while we like to see more hearings and hope we have more coming up is that he`s not going to take direction from the President. Now, this all being said, what we have continued to see from a number of Republicans, not all, but a number of them has been an undermining of Director Mueller`s Investigation.
And that really has concerned all of us because that is a place where he has the ability to get to the bottom of the facts while we have the ability to get things out to the public. We`re never going to be able to do the kind of work he`s doing. And that`s why while I`m glad that Chairman Grassley wants our work to continue and I know the Intelligence Committees as well.
But we have to remember that undermining Mueller is really -- is to me is really setting us backwards. You have to let him do his work and do his job. And I think that`s very clear no matter what the president tweets.
O`DONNELL: Senator, within the incredibly important jurisdiction of the judiciary committee, you have immigration law and policy. Tell us where you think the situation stands tonight, legislatively on DACA.
KLOBUCHAR: Well, we are feeling better about this. Now, you know, we have heard the President say before he wants to get this done. And he put us in this position to begin with. But I was heartened by the fact that first of all even before this meeting he`s made clear he knows we can`t wait until March because of the status of so many of these DACA kids who daily are going out of status and the court ruling, of course, helps but it`s still a problem.
And then you have the meeting itself where he said he wanted to get it done and went even further which surprised me to say he wants to work on comprehensive immigration reform next. Now I don`t know what he means by that. But I know the bipartisan bill in the Senate and it did some really good things for this country, the economy, brought the debt down.
You name it. And it would get us to a different place if we actually started talking about the contributions that immigrants made to our -- make and have made to our economy and what we need to do to keep that rolling.
O`DONNELL: We saw him on video, TV, agreeing with Lindsey Graham and Chuck Grassley on the possibility of a path of citizenship for 11 million people. But that was before the other Republicans started talking so we don`t know. I don`t know. I don`t know how you figure out, senator, where the President actually is.
KLOBUCHAR: We don`t. But even - you know as we go back and forth and I appreciate everyone talking about this, you have to remember there`s individual Dreamers out there, average age 6 1/2 years old brought over here. 97% of them working or going to school and they`re watching every word, they`re watching every speech. Their literal lives depend on this.
And so we just have to remember and I hope despite all this back and forth on this and the president saying one thing or another we have this obligation to get this done. And that is what we have to remember. Every single day when we go to congress and we just ask our colleagues to join us as the Democrats have been taking the lead on this. But we`re glad there`s some Republicans at the side. We have to get this done.
O`DONNELL: Senator Amy Klobuchar, thank you very much for joining us in your appearance in the New Year.
KLOBUCHAR: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Really appreciate it.
KLOBUCHAR: New Year. That right. Thank You, lawrence. >
O`DONNELL: Thank you. Coming up, a special last word tonight, a little peek at what I will have to say Seth Meyer show later tonight on NBC
O`DONNELL: Today as a follow-up to what I said then was the president`s ridiculously empty threat to sue Michael Wolff and his publisher for his new book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, the President said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: We are going to take a strong look at our country`s libel laws. So that when somebody says something that is false and defamatory about someone that person will have meaningful recourse in our courts.
Our current libel laws are a sham and a disgrace and do not represent American values or American fairness. We want fairness. You can`t say things that are false, knowingly false, and be able to smile as money pours into your bank account
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The President was not asked today whether the new version of libel law that he is imagining would prevent him from engaging in years of pathological lying about President Obama`s birth certificate. One of the phony libel suits that Donald Trump actually did file and lose was used in the Fusion GPS Investigation of Trump`s Business affairs according to Glen Simpson`s testimony to judiciary committee that was released testimony by Senator Feinstein.
It was a libel case against Author Tim O`Brien who wrote a critical book about Donald Trump and Glen Simpson`s testimony to the committee staff. He said he began his investigation of Donald Trump this way. We ordered every Donald Trump book. Those books cover his divorces, his casinos, early years dealing labor unions and mafia figures. It was sort of an unlimited look at his, you know, his business and finances and that sort of thing. David Cay Johnston wrote one of the very first such books about Donald Trump in that collection of books that began the Fusion GPS investigation of Donald Trump. David Cay.Johnston will join us next,
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I own nothing in Russia. I have no loans in Russia. I don`t have any deals in Russia. Russia is a rouse. I have nothing to do with Russia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining the discussion now David Cay.Johnston, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who founded dcreport.org, a non profit news organization that covers the Trump administration. He`s also the author of the fourth coming book it`s even worse than you think, what the Trump Administration is doing to America. And David, if you`re lucky the President will try to shutdown the presses on your book as he did with Michael Wolff. David, were you surprised yesterday to read the Judiciary Committee Transcript where Glen Simpson says the first thing he did in investigating Donald Trump was to get your book and other books written about Donald Trump?
DAVID KAY JOHNSTON, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, no, I was pleased but that`s what reporters do. You know one of the first things you learn as a reporter is you first read the clips, find out what`s in the record. And Glen Simpson who I know just very tangently is a very excellent reporter. He`s beaten a few times. So I know he`s good.
O`DONNELL: By beaten you, you mean got into the story before you? I just want to clarify that for that record. So in that -
JOHNSTON: See the story I missed.
O`DONNELL: In that transcript, David, what jumped out at you?
JOHNSTON: Well, Trump made all these trips to Russia and yet there have never been any business deals, at least that we know about. And that`s very striking. Clearly Glen Simpson whose an excellent reporter, who understands finance, got to looking at this and saying to himself, gee, why is he going to Russia and there`s no deals? What`s going on at these golf courses in Ireland, Scotland that have to make public reports and their loosing money hand over fist. But Trump keeps saying he has money.
And of course immediately as this went on he began to realize the obvious thing about Donald Trump is -- is Donald Trump a major money launderer?
O`DONNELL: And what would be the indications of that?
JOHNSTON: Well, of course there`s the famous mansion deal in Florida, where in 2008 the real estate market collapses and Donald Trump sells to a Russian oligarch named (INAUDIBLE) a house for more than twice what he paid for it. The cover story was the guy was hiding money from his wife.
Well, if you want to hide money from your estranged wife you don`t overpay for property. You find things you can buy at a discount because of market conditions. And it`s smelled deeply of being a payoff. If a state senator in Florida had done the same deal, there would have been major investigations of what going on with him.
O`DONNELL: And you can see in the Transcript Simpson`s fascination with Felix Sater who he knew about and you have also studied.
JOHNSTON: Yes, Felix Sater who is twice convicted felon, Donald claims he wouldn`t know what he looked like. He traveled with him all over the place. There`s numerous photographs and videos of them together, is deeply involved in Russian crime.
There are others. And you know, Donald keeps saying I have nothing to do with Russia. You notice he never says Russians and he certainly never says Georgians, people from Kazakhstan or Azerbaijan. And It`s a very narrow statement that he actually makes when he says I have nothing to do with Russia which by the way is obviously not true.
O`DONNELL: We`re going to have to leave it there for tonight. David, when your new book coming out?
O`DONNELL: All right, there`s going to be room in the bookstores because michael Wolff`s book is sold out. David Cay Johnston book is the next way to take a look at Donald Trump. David Cay Johnston, thank you very much for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.
JOHNSTON: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Tonight`s Last Word is next.
O`DONNELL: Yesterday the PRESIDENT allowed the first hour of his meeting with congressional leaders to be televised and so today naturally he declared it a big hit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: And my performance, you know, some of them called it a performance. I consider it work. But got great reviews by everybody other than two networks who were phenomenal for about two hours. Then after that they were called by their abortionist and said oh, wait a minute, and unfortunately a lot of those anchors sent us letters saying that was one of the greatest meetings they`ve ever witness.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And so tonight Seth Myers had to ask me if I was one of those news anchors who sent a letter to it President praising his performance.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SETH MEYERS, COMEDIAN: He had a meeting yesterday, and he actually said that the meeting went so well that anchors -- he received letters from anchors telling him how well it went.
O`DONNELL: Yes, he did.
MEYERS: Is it safe to say you did not sit down at your roll away desk last night and write a letter?
O`DONNELL: It`s safe to say and I`ll have to check with the audience, but no one in America wrote a letter. He is so wonderfully 19th century.
MEYERS: Also the fact the letter already got there meant they FedEx-ed it.
O`DONNELL: Yes, yes and I don`t know - I mean I supposed there`s maybe fox News station showed up, but I imagine those guys just call them up and tell him you did a great job. They don`t actually send letters.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: You can watch the full interview on Late Night with Seth Meyers tonight on NBC. That`s tonight Last Word. The 11th hour with Brian Williams starts now.
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