Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: January 16, 2018 Guest: Harry Litman, Mieke Eoyang, Howard Dean, Kimberly Atkins, David Jolly, Eric Swalwell
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel. So that`s weird.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": Yes.
O`DONNELL: That`s the weird thing.
MADDOW: I found one weird thing in the news today.
O`DONNELL: No, but it really is. I remember commenting on that and talking about it when it was revealed who this lawyer attorney Burck is representing -- Reince Priebus, Don McGahn, and Steve Bannon. There was bound to be a conflict very soon. And here we had it today.
MADDOW: And, you know, it`s interesting, because he was representing Priebus and McGahn for a long time before this. And that alone seemed like a strange potential conflict. Now, he is representing Bannon as well.
I mean, one thing to keep in mind here is if there is a conflict of interest, as it relates to the Mueller investigation and the things that Mueller is looking at, presumably Mueller`s lawyers will pursue that and try to, you know, if it ever comes to any future court proceedings or whatever, that will then become an issue. They could push this thing. It isn`t something that gets litigated in the press.
But for the life of me, I can`t figure out why Rod Rosenstein isn`t recused from an investigation in which he is likely a witness. And I can`t figure out how this one lawyer can represent three people who are on three different sides of some of these important issues.
O`DONNELL: There comes a time if court cases develop where the court, the judge won`t allow it.
MADDOW: Yes, exactly.
O`DONNELL: They can intervene if necessary for that. But you know, it was a deadly serious day for Steve Bannon, Rachel. I could tell because he shaved. He -- and put on a necktie. But shaved. He didn`t even shave in the White House.
MADDOW: I -- I -- yes. Punt.
O`DONNELL: One of those days. Thank you, Rachel.
O`DONNELL: Donald Trump as we know is the worst liar we`ve ever seen in the presidency. By tonight, worst liar, I mean, two things, the frequency of the lying and the skill at lying. Donald Trump lies more than any other president in history and more than any other American politician in history. "The Washington Post" has documented over 2,000 obvious lies in less than a full year in the presidency.
But Donald Trump is also the worst liar because he is very, very bad at lying.
Smart lying is lying you actually can get away with. Smart liars never lie about things they can`t get away with. They don`t tell obviously insane lies like "I am the least racist person." We don`t know how many lies other presidents have told because they were all better liars. They surely all got away with more lies than Donald Trump does. That is the singular achievement of the Trump White House and the Trump administration.
The worst lying we have ever seen in Washington from the president and the people who work for the president. No one can forget John Kelly`s last time standing in front of a microphone when he told a story about Congresswoman Frederica Wilson and President Obama that was a lie from start to finish about both of them. And it sure sounded like a racist lie, a race-motivated lie.
And when John Kelly was proven to be an outright liar about Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, within a day we all awaited his apology. We were hoping to see John Kelly publicly teach Donald Trump what a man of fundamental goodness and dignity and honesty does when he makes a mistake. Apologize. And apologize gracefully.
We were all hoping to see the White House chief of staff publicly offer an eloquent and heartfelt apology that would remove any suspicion of racist motivation in what heed that say about Congresswoman Frederica Wilson. We were hoping for the kind of apology that could make us feel that he just made a mistake, an honest mistake. And so we waited for that apology.
And after one full day and night went by with John Kelly exposed as having been completely wrong in what he said about Congresswoman Wilson, and he did not apologize, what could have been a mistake really looked like a lie. Because not apologizing for his untrue statements was a very, very deliberate choice. Not a mistake.
We now have gone 89 days without John Kelly apologizing for what we can now clearly see as an outright lie. Not a mistake about Congresswoman Wilson. John Kelly takes his place on the White House payroll as one of the paid liars of Donald Trump, paid with taxpayer money. He has chosen 89 days of disgrace instead of instantly choosing honor and honesty and telling the truth.
When John Kelly left his job as the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to become White House chief of staff, he installed his chosen successor in the job of secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen.
And today, Secretary Nielsen publicly took her place on the list of paid liars in the Trump administration. Like her patron, John Kelly, and her boss, Donald Trump, she is a very, very bad liar.
If you`re going to try to lie under oath in congressional testimony, you better not try to lie about the small things, the things that don`t matter. But when you`re trying to protect Donald Trump with your lies, when that`s your job and you have decided to do that in under oath testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee, you will lie about anything.
Here is Kirstjen Nielsen lying under oath today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. PAT LEAHY (D), VERMONT: Norway is a predominantly white country, isn`t it?
KIRSTJEN NIELSEN, DHS SECRETARY: I -- I -- I actually do not know that, sir, but I imagine that is the case.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Norway is over 92 percent white.
Now, we haven`t been able to find any biographical information about Kirstjen Nielsen`s ethic heritage. But according to ancestry.com, most people named Nielsen trace their heritage to Scandinavia, specifically Denmark. Now, there is Denmark, right, across the water, just south of Norway.
Now, you don`t have to be of Scandinavian descent to know that Norway is predominantly white, as Senator Leahy put it in his question that provoked that very inept and obvious lie. Kirstjen Nielsen obviously decided she had to lie about it, being common knowledge that Norway is predominantly white. She had to lie about something everyone knows, which is that Norway is predominantly white, in order to protect the racist president of the United States who last week in a meeting that Kirstjen Nielsen attended said he would rather take in immigrants from Norway than from any of the 54 countries of Africa or Haiti -- countries that are the opposite of predominantly white.
Kirstjen Nielsen believed she had to pretend she didn`t know the president was talking about white people when he said he preferred immigrants from Norway. And so, she lied for the president today under oath. John Kelly was no doubt very, very proud of his protege today. She also tried to lie about what was said in that room last week in the oval office. She tried to assign the kind of ugly profanity that the president used about all the on countries of Africa to everyone in the Oval Office that day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), ILLINOIS: You said on Fox News that the president used strong language. What was that strong language?
NIELSEN: Let`s see. Strong language there was -- apologies. I don`t remember specific word. What I was struck with frankly, as I`m sure you were as well, was just the general profanity that was used in the room by almost everyone.
SCHUMER: Did you hear me use profanity?
NIELSEN: No, sir. Neither did I.
SCHUMER: Did Senator Graham use profanity?
NIELSEN: I did hear tough language from Senator Graham, yes, sir.
SCHUMER: What did he say?
NIELSEN: He used tough language. He was impassioned. I think he was feeling very strongly about the issue, as was everyone in the room. And to underscore a point, I think he was using some strong language.
SCHUMER: Do you all there the strong language he used repeated exactly what the president had said prior to that?
NIELSEN: I remember specific cuss words being used by a variety of members.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Republican Senator Lindsey Graham participated in that hearing today. He kept his focus mostly on immigration policy and avoided specifically quoting the words that the president used in the Oval Office. But he did say this about Senator Dick Durbin, who has quoted the president as referring to all of the countries of Africa as shithole countries.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Dick Durbin has been one of the best people you could ever hope to work with, that he is a decent, honest man, a liberal Democrat. Yes, he said yes. And I`m a conservative Republican. But on this and other things, we can find a way forward.
So, Mr. President, I`m going to end today where we ended Tuesday. Close this deal.
Thank you, Madam Secretary.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us, Josh Earnest, former White House press secretary for President Obama and an MSNBC political analyst. Kimberly Atkins, chief Washington reporter and columnist for "The Boston Herald". She is an MSNBC contributor. And David Jolly, former Republican congressman from Florida.
And, Josh, as you watched that hearing unfold today, there was a lot of interest in exactly how the White House meeting developed in which these words were said last week. Lindsey Graham went into that in some detail.
But what were you most struck by in what you saw in that testimony today?
JOSH EARNEST, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Lawrence, the thing that I was most struck by is that we have a secretary of homeland security who is entrusted with substantial responsibility. We rely on the secretary of homeland security to give us very specific advice, things like these interest steps that you should take to prevent your family from being or your property from being damaged in a storm. These are the steps that you and the business community should take to protect your computer networks from a cyberattack that emanates from overseas. Or a message to the American public to say these steps that we`re taking to prevent terrorists from harming Americans.
The point of these examples, Lawrence, is not just the secretary of homeland security is someone who deals with very serious life or death issues, but that that secretary of homeland security is somebody whose word and integrity matters, and whose word and integrity has life or death consequences.
And when you have a situation where that person who holds that job is willing to say things that are obviously not true about something so trivial, it includes -- it inserts a seed of doubt whenever we`re hearing her talk about something really important. And that`s troubling.
And look, Lawrence, I sat in enough oval office meetings with President Obama where he had to listen to his secretary of homeland security, either Janet Napolitano or Jeh Johnson say something that might have been something inconvenient for him, might have said something that he didn`t fully agree with. But they knew they had a responsibility to be honest, to tell the truth, even if it was going to cause them to be in disagreement with the president of the United States. They knew that`s what the obligation of the job demanded of them, and they didn`t shirk from that responsibility.
President Trump unfortunately hasn`t chosen someone with the same set of priorities.
O`DONNELL: I want to go to something else that happened in the meeting today. And this is when Senator Graham was discussing the televised meeting that had occurred two days before, I think we all remember, and one of the most striking moments in it where -- there were several moments -- where President Trump was moving left ward on immigration for a moment completely agreeing with Dianne Feinstein before some of the Republican House members there had to pull him back in their direction. And then he would wander back into a liberal sounding agreement with Lindsey Graham about possible paths to citizenship.
And in that exchange, the president actually talked about doing immigration policy with love. It was a word that stunned me when I heard him say it.
Let`s listen to what the secretary of homeland security says about that. And remember, she wasn`t watching this on TV. She was in the room when the president said the word "love" in that meeting about immigration legislation. Let`s listen to this exchange with Senator Graham.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRAHAM: Do you remember him saying the word "love"?
NIELSEN: I don`t remember him saying the word love. I remember him saying care. I`ve heard him use love before, compassion.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATE: It should be a bill of love. Truly, it should be a bill of love.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Kimberly Atkins, two loves there. So that tells us just how good a witness Secretary Nielsen is in reporting what happens in presidential meetings.
KIMBERLY ATKINS, CHIEF WASHINGTON REPORTER, BOSTON HERALD: Yes. I mean, look, these rooms aren`t that big. I know if I were in a room with my boss, the editor-in-chief of my paper and he was speaking, I think I would be paying pretty close attention to what he said. Certainly if he was talking about immigration policy, and definitely if he used a pejorative expletive to refer to countries in Africa. I think those are things that I probably would remember. And I think that`s only magnified when the person speaking and your boss is the president of the United States.
So, I really think that it`s really nonsensical, the answer that the secretary gave. I also was struck by the fact that she used the term tough language which is exactly the same language Donald Trump used a few days ago in a tweet, which sounds to me like they were talking points given out on this ahead of time.
So, I mean, I agree with Josh. It`s very disappoint when we come back you have someone in such an important position speaking, one of the few eyewitnesses to this much reported meeting that took place where the president is reported to have made these statements and where you have senators, Senator Lindsey Graham, a close ally now of President Trump, who is not disputing that fact. And you have still people resisting and sort of pushing this forward in a way that isn`t just disappointing in terms of you`re seeing someone telling you not the truth in front of you.
But it`s blowing up a chance to deal with people, nearly a million people who are in this country because they were brought here by their parents. And for which there is bipartisan agreement to find a way to find a solution for that problem, something that the majority of the American public want. But because of this political spat where people have sort of reverted to their political corners, it looks like that`s not going to happen, at least not this week. That`s a terrible outcome.
O`DONNELL: We all heard Lindsey Graham tell the story of how that presidential meeting occurred in the Oval Office. It began with Senator Dick Durbin, the Democrat, having a very positive conversation with President Trump on the phone at 10:00 a.m. Senator Durbin reported that to Republican Senator Lindsey Graham. Lindsey Graham then said, well, let`s set up a White House meeting.
The meeting was set up for two hours later, which have I have to say, Josh Earnest, in my experience in dealing with the White House, that`s awfully fast to set up a meet like this. These two senators --
EARNEST: It sounds like he had plenty of executive time this day.
O`DONNELL: Exactly. So they go racing up there. And by the time they get there at 12:00 noon, Lindsey Graham discovers a completely different president. Here is what he had to say about that after the hearing today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRAHAM: I will say, I don`t think the president was well served by his staff. I think the president`s -- that we saw Tuesday is that that Donald Trump exists, and somehow by 12:00 on Thursday, something happened. And I don`t think he was well served by his staff. But he is responsible for the way he conducts himself, and so am I. Can`t blame that on the staff. But I do believe his staff was --
REPORTER: Would that be General Kelly?
GRAHAM: Pretty much missed the mark here. I don`t think General Kelly is a fine man, but he is also a part of the staff.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: David Jolly, there is no bigger insult you can give a general than to call him part of the staff. But that is an accurate description of General Kelly`s position.
Where do we go from here, David, with your experience, the Republican Congress? There is Senator Graham hoping he can somehow get the Donald Trump of Tuesday to overrule the Donald Trump of Thursday.
DAVID JOLLY (R), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN: Yes, but Lindsey said he didn`t know what happened to the Donald Trump of Tuesday. I don`t know what created the Donald Trump of Tuesday, because reality is that was the exception. And, listen, Lindsey is very gracious in putting this on staff, on General Kelly, on Stephen Miller.
The reality it is was conservative senators in Perdue and Cotton and House members in McCarthy and Goodlatte and others who killed this deal. Staff doesn`t get to kill the deal.
Now, to the defense of conservatives in Congress, the Durbin and Graham compromise, if you will, never would have passed the House. And so, what Donald Trump was faced with, and staff probably counseled him on is this can`t pass the House. But the reality is Graham and Durbin tried to take advantage of that Tuesday moment where Donald Trump said "I`ll sign anything you put in front of me."
But ultimately the hard line immigration conservatives got to Donald Trump. The base got to Donald Trump and they realize they didn`t have the votes for it, and they killed can it. So, we need to hold legislators accountable for this, not staff.
O`DONNELL: Josh Earnest, Kimberly Atkins and David Jolly, thank you all for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it.
EARNEST: Thanks, Lawrence.
ATKINS: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, the congressional committee questioned Steve Bannon today for nearly 10 hours today, about nine and a half hours. One of those members of Congress, Eric Swalwell, who was in the room, will join us next.
And what we learned and what we did not learn from the president`s medical exam. Dr. Howard Dean will analyze the results of that medical exam for us.
O`DONNELL: It was a very long day for Steve Bannon today in a meeting of the House Intelligence Committee. We will have a member of that committee join us in a moment to tell what`s he can about what happened in that room for nine and a half hours that Steve Bannon was there. The lawyer representing Steve Bannon in that meeting today is Bill Burck, who also represents White House counsel Don McGahn, as well as former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus.
This is an extraordinary situation because in the meeting today, Bannon`s lawyer told the committee that Bannon was willing to answer questions, but he was under instructions from the White House not to. Those instructions would have come from White House counsel Don McGahn, who is one of the clients of Steve Bannon`s lawyer.
Here is everything that reporters got out of Steve Bannon tonight after his nine and a half hours with the committee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Mr. Bannon, who from the White House asked you to invoke executive privilege? How did the meeting go, Mr. Bannon?
STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: It was great.
REPORTER: Mr. Bannon, what did they ask you? What did they ask you, Mr. Bannon?
BANNON: Great day. Thanks, guys.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: California Congressman Adam Schiff is the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. And when the meeting finally ended tonight, he said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: After he explored several attempts to try to elicit information that took place during those periods, we convened on a bipartisan basis and agreed to the issuance of a subpoena to make his attendance at the hearing compulsory. He was then served with the subpoena during the course of the interview. His counsel then conferred again with the White House and was instructed by the White House to refuse again to answer any questions, even though he was under a compulsory process.
Mr. Bannon was also under instructions not to answer questions even after he left the White House concerning conversations he had with the president that might be for the purpose of the president seeking his advice on anything.
The scope of this assertion of privilege -- if that`s what it is -- is breathtaking. It goes well beyond anything we have seen in this investigation. We expect to have Mr. Bannon back in. We hope very soon with a different position by the White House, because this position is completely unsustainable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Congressman Eric Swalwell, a Democrat from California who is a member of the House Intelligence Committee. He was also at that hearing today.
Congressman Swalwell, was that everything that happened that was simply a discussion about process and the witness saying through his lawyer I`m not going to answer any questions? How did that become nine and a half hours?
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Good evening, Lawrence.
We witnessed today what I believe was the most aggressive effort by the White House thus far to obstruct our efforts to seek the truth. And it took a long time to sort out what Mr. Bannon was willing to talk about and not. And most of it he was not willing to talk about, citing a privilege for the White House.
I want to go through, Lawrence, first he cited that he couldn`t talk about what happened during the transition period. There is no evidence or case law to support that that is a privilege. Then he said he couldn`t talk about what happened while he was working at the White House. Now, some that of could be covered by the White House. However, he even asserted that essentially if he was talking to a buddy over a beer about something that the president had told him, that that was covered. That`s never been recognized to have been covered.
Most stunningly, I asked him and Mr. Schiff had asked him questions about what occurred after he left the white house in conversations with the president, and he asserted that the White House was prohibiting him from even talking than. So, outside the White House, even most recently that he`s had conversations, he believes the White House is preventing him from testifying.
O`DONNELL: And, obviously, there is no conceivable legal grounds for any kind of privilege during the transition. He is a private citizen at the time. He is a private citizen after he leaves the White House. And any conversations anyone has in that situation, there is no privilege whatsoever.
What -- did his lawyer actually try to frame this in any kind of legal terms that you recognized?
SWALWELL: I wouldn`t say it was with a straight face, Lawrence. And, again, this is disappointing because there are a lot of questions for Steve Bannon.
And arguably, you could say that he and the White House have waived his privilege. After all, he was cited a number of times most recently in the "Fire and Fury" book about conversations with the White House. And this flies in the face of a president who has stood before the media and said he`ll heel be completely cooperative and open with this investigation. And now we`ve seen in the last few weeks not only is he backing away from the president from being willing to talk to Bob Mueller, but now for the first time they are muzzling witnesses who may have seen something pertinent to our investigation.
O`DONNELL: And you have support from Republicans on the committee from this? There are Republican members of the committee making public statements saying there is absolutely no privilege that applies here.
Why are the Republicans suddenly cooperating with your view of this?
SWALWELL: I can`t speak to their motives. But I can tell you what`s heartening for both of us to be on the same sheet of music today. That`s what the country needs.
If we`re just pursuing what happened and talking to witnesses who have information and seeking documents that are relevant, then we`re doing our jobs. I was encouraged by that. We`re going have more witnesses coming in the next few weeks. And I hope we continue to see that kind of cooperation. We`ll have a much better investigation.
O`DONNELL: There is indication Hope Hicks is one of the witnesses you`ll be talking to in the near future.
SWALWELL: I can`t confirm, Lawrence, who the witnesses are. She certainly is a relevant individual in our investigation.
O`DONNELL: And also, the issue of bringing Steve Bannon back to the committee, is that going to happen on Thursday?
SWALWELL: So, that`s right. I believe Chairman Nunes announced that that subpoena will extend later on this week. And hopefully, we`ll have cleared up with the White House and we will see just how cooperative they want to be.
It`s also, I think, very interesting that "The Daily Beast" is reporting that Steve Bannon will cooperate with Bob Mueller and waive all privileges. Under no case law or authority would he be able to waive the privilege to talk to the special counsel, but not waive it to talk to Congress for our investigation.
O`DONNELL: Yes, and it`s just easier, you know, for the special counsel to immediately enforce an order for him to testify since they`re actually physically in court space, especially if it`s a grand jury. You -- the Congress would have to hold him in contempt and then try to go to court to enforce that. That would take quite a while.
SWALWELL: That`s right. You have a judge, you know, likely upstairs who can rule swiftly. But I hope my Republican colleagues are serious about doing all we can to compel the testimony and overcome these shenanigans.
It`s not shenanigans. Let`s be real. This is an effort to disrupt our efforts to get the truth. And I think law school professors will teach entire semester news on the new made-up privileges that the Trump administration has cited in this investigation.
O`DONNELL: Yes, and how long they actually last.
SWALWELL: That`s right.
O`DONNELL: How many hours that privilege works.
Congressman Eric Swalwell, please feel free to join us Thursday night and let us know how it goes with Steve Bannon on Thursday. Thank you very much for joining us tonight.
SWALWELL: All right. Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
Coming up, Robert Mueller will hear everything that Bannon will have to say that is what the daily beast is reporting tonight. A special prosecutor has subpoenaed Steve Bannon to a grand jury. And Steve Bannon says he is going tell him everything. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: It was subpoena day for Steve Bannon while Steve Bannon was actually getting subpoenaed today by the House Intelligence Committee in the middle of his meeting with the House Intelligence Committee because he was refusing to answer the questions of the House Intelligence Committee. The New York Times revealed that Steve Bannon had already been hit with a subpoena by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller. Steve Bannon is now the first person from President Trump`s inner circle to receive a subpoena from the special prosecutor.
The Times reports that Mr. Mueller is likely to allow Mr. Bannon to forgo the grand jury appearance if he agrees to be questioned by investigators in the less formal setting of the Special Counsel`s offices. The subpoena received Bannon came days after Michael Wolff`s book Fire and Fury was released. In the book, Steve Bannon is quoted harshly criticizing President Trump, his family and members of his staff, and speculating about their legal culpability.
Bannon called the Trump Tower meeting between Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and a group including a Russian lawyer, a group of Russians including a Russian lawyer, he called that meeting treasonous and unpatriotic. He told Michael Wolff, the author of the book the chance that Don Jr. did not walk these people up to his father`s office on the 26th floor is zero.
Joining us now, Harry Litman, former U.S. Attorney and Deputy Assistant Attorney General under President Clinton. He is now a professor at UCSD School of Political Science and Mieke Eoyang, a former House Intelligence Committee Staff member and Vice President for National Security Program at Third Way. And Harry Litman, I want you to take us into the world of the special prosecutor, special prosecutors, when a book like Fire and Fury comes out, and Steve Bannon is quoted at length speculating about possible crimes and misdemeanors of the Trump circle, is that something the special prosecutor grabs, starts reading and underling?
HARRY LITMAN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I think so. And it`s not whether Bannon thinks that a meeting is treasonous. It`s not his legal conclusions. But there are facts in there.
The one you just mentioned, Lawrence, about did Trump Jr. Take the Russians up to visit and see Trump, which would be devastating evidence on collusion. Discreet facts like that that he can question him on. And I did want to mention based on your last segment the reason that he`s going to have to talk to Trump and he didn`t have to talk to the House in the same way her can`t exert executive privilege here because that`s been settled. That`s what U.S. V Nixon, Richard Nixon.
Executive privilege is a balancing test. It has to yield to a criminal investigation, and here Mueller has the cards that the House didn`t have. But, yes, they`ll be poring through it and they`ll be loaded for bear an all the specific allegations. And one thing that the Wolff`s book shows is Bannon has panoramic knowledge of all kinds of events touching on everything during the year he was there.
He`s also as clear from the book a dangerous infighter and witness who maybe has some scores to settle with people, especially Jared Kushner. That makes him somebody that Mueller especially wants to talk to.
O`DONNELL: And Meike, as Harry just said, any claims of these privileges that they were playing around with today in the committee will not survive a minute once you get into criminal process. We all know that. That is settled law. But what do you imagine -- what do you imagine those nine and a half hours were about today if Steve Bannon was not answering questions?
And then parenthetically, have you ever seen anything like that in a committee meeting? You have a voluntary witness there who starts refusing to answer questions. And as he is sitting there, your committee that you used to work for slaps him with a subpoena as he is sitting at the table and saying, OK, now answer our questions.
MIEKE EOYANG, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I mean, that in itself is stung, that they issued a subpoena in the middle of a hearing to a witness who`s refusing to answer questions. You to be really contemptuous of Congress to have that happen. It is really an unprecedented step. I`ve never seen it happen.
I`ve seen people get threatened with a subpoena. Most witnesses are usually very deferential to the committee. But if Steve Bannon is the kind of person that he`s described to be in front of the members, they may have just gotten fed up with him and decided they weren`t going to take it anymore. Now it`s clear that for 11 hours he was sitting there and not answering a huge chunk of their questions. But they did say he was able to answer questions related to the two months that he was on the campaign before the election.
And that`s when some of these crucial meetings took place. The meeting in Trump Tower with the Russians that Don Jr. arranged. Some of these other questions about was Trump tweeting and what did he know about the Hillary Clinton e-mails. Were they in fact coordinating with Russians on social media?
These are questions that could be answered in front of the committee. And frankly, if Bannon isn`t telling the truth, those are criminal offenses for lying to Congress.
O`DONNELL: I want to go back to Michael Wolff`s book Fire and Fury and talk about how this affected the Special Prosecutor. It quotes Steve Bannon as saying this is all about money laundering. Mueller chose Weisman first and he is a moneylaundering guy. Their path to Trump goes right through Paul Manafort. Harry Litman, don`t the prosecutors just read that passage to Steve Bannon or something like it and say what do you mean.
LITMAN: What are you talking about?
O`DONNELL: The path to Trump goes right through Paul Manafort. What did you hear?
LITMAN: Right especially Andrew Weissmann I think takes notice of that. So sure and one of the big I think headlines of today is an indication that as far as the money laundering charges go and the Russia conspiracy charges go, we are a very -- we`re in the middle game. We`re a long way from the end. They of course will ask him what he means.
And he, like Manafort, knows a lot of where the bodies were buried on money laundering. Of course, Manafort isn`t answering questions. So he and possibly Kushner are going to be rich sources of letter and verse. To date all they`ve done is subpoena records, and it`s hard to make a case through them. When the witnesses come in and say look here, look there, that`s when it gets interesting.
O`DONNELL: Mieke Eoyang, I want to go to the politics of the House Intelligence Committee for just a moment because it was just weeks ago we were hearing Democrat members of that committee afraid that committee was going to shut down its investigation any minute now. And here they are looking for more witnesses and more witnesses from close in the Trump inner circle, like Steve Bannon and others. And I`m a little confused about it.
I started to think that maybe the Republicans on the committee actually wanted to obtain the testimony of those people so they could let the white house know what their testimony is because they won`t be able to discover that through the Special Prosecutor`s office on any Grand Jury Testimony. But then when you see the republicans today joining in this subpoena it seemed to be over the objections of the Whitehouse, I don`t have a theory anymore.
EOYANG: Yes, I think it`s important to remember that on the House Intelligence Committee they`re basically running two different simultaneous investigations. One of them is being run by Adam Schiff and Congressman Conway of Texas. And that`s a bipartisan investigation where the members are really interested in getting to the pack facts on potential interference by a hostile foreign government in our nation`s electoral system. And then simply from that, but at the same time, you have Devin Nunes, the Chairman of the Committee who was on the Trump transition team who is running all kinds of interference, trying to throw up all these red herrings into the mix.
And he is somebody where its clear he is on team Trump on this and he is not managing the committee in the best interests of the nation`s intelligence services. So it really does feel schizophrenic from the outside because you have two separate investigations running on the same committee.
O`DONNELL: Mieke Eoyang and Harry Litman, thank you both for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.
LITMAN: Thanks Lawrence.
EOYANG: Thank You.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, the single most important thing in President Trump`s medical history was not included in the medical exam that the Whitehouse doctor told us about today. That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you see any evidence of bone spurs which the President said he suffered from?
RONNY JACKSON, MEDICAL DOCTOR: We didn`t -- you know, none of that stuff has been bothering him recently. So we didn`t examine him for bone spurs right now. He has not come to me complaining of that. There was no reason in this particular assessment. We were pretty crunched for time with everything we had done. We didn`t look for issues like that. So I didn`t assess that. No.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And so the single most important thing in Donald Trump`s medical history was not part of the medical exam that the Whitehouse doctor gave him. The bone spurs that Donald Trump used to get him out of military service during the Vietnam War have never been confirmed by an independent medical examination of Donald Trump. The Whitehouse physician reported the President as being 6`3", 239 pounds.
The President would be clinically obese if he was just an inch shorter, which he probably is. Here is a photograph of Jeb Bush who is 6`3 standing beside Donald Trump who looks distinctly shorter than Jeb Bush. The Whitehouse Press Corps seemed stunned that the President, who cannot button the button on his suit coat isn`t much heavier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you take a waist measurement for the President? I think he is at 239, right? I think that`s just shy of obesity, right?
JACKSON: He is. Yeah.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re confident of that number? And did you do any measurements?
JACKSON: We don`t do measurements. We height and weight and then you know you can put him in the BMI calculator and you know what. But we`ve never done measurements, you know. There is not a lot -- you know, there is not a lot in it at this point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: We don`t do any measurements. Ooh, OK, doctor. But the doctor did something no Whitehouse physician before him has ever done. He tried to measure Donald Trump`s cognitive ability. Dr. Howard Dean will join us next to consider those results,
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACKSON: Had no intention of doing one. The reason we did the cognitive assessment, because the President asked me to do it. He came to me and said, is there something we can do, a test or some type of screen we can do to assess my cognitive ability.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now for a house call at the last word, Dr. Howard Dean. He is a physician and also former Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, former Governor of Vermont and MSNBC Political Analyst. Dr. Dean, if you had been involved in this physical exam, what would you have wanted to do?
HOWWARD DEAN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, leaving partisan impulses aside, the cognitive test, the Montreal Cognitive Assessment is a fairly low level assessment. It`s good at predicting dementia or pre-dementia which President clearly does not have. It does not evaluate whether you`re psychotic or not.
I don`t think he probably is if he spent an hour with a physician who has a good reputation by the way. That doesn`t say he is not morally or mentally unfit to be President. It just says he doesn`t have pre-dementia.
O`DONNELL: And what would you say are the things about the president from a physician`s perspective worry you? What worries you about him as a person?
DEAN: What worries me about him is his ability to lie on a daily basis. And appear to believe his own lies which I don`t think he does otherwise he really would psychotic. The other thing that worries me about him is his judgment, his seemingly inability to process information in a rational way. The final thing that really does concern me is the fact that he seems to lack empathy with others.
That I think is an important in the President of the United States. So he may or may not be mentally unfit. I think he`s certainly morally unfit.
O`DONNELL: And Michael Wolff`s book goes into real detail. We`ve known about this before, but this is the best presentation we`ve seen about the President`s attention span which is functionally zero in a lot of situations. And that`s what they were trying to show off to us in that televised meeting in the cabinet room last week, where the President could appear to stay on a subject for 55 minutes on immigration policy.
DEAN: Unfortunately, that meeting didn`t turn out so well. And, you know, I think it was what it was meant to be which was a show and tell about the President`s -- was or was not cognitively impaired. He`s not cognitively impaired from a medical definition point of view.
That doest mean he`s not psychologically impaired. I mean you know it`s pretty obvious he has a personality disorder. That doesn`t mean he`s psychotic, but it makes him not a great candidate for President or a great President.
O`DONNELL: Talk about that psychologically impaired and how that differs from mental illness.
DEAN: OK. So he`s -- a personality disorder is a form of mental illness, it does not involve delusions. So this is not a guy who believes his own lies we don`t think. And there`s no evidence of dementia with this test, which is very accurate for dementia.
The problem is, if you had to call him up at midnight and say, Mr. President, there`s a set of Russian missiles heading our way, what do you want to do about it? You have five minutes to decide. And he doesn`t have a chance to talk to the Secretary of Defense and people like that immediately and get himself briefed. I don`t think you can predict there would be a rational approach in his mind as to what to do.
You see is that every day in some of the things he says, and then changes his tune the day before. The other thing that`s shocking to me, him saying the things that aren`t true every single day, and then somehow expecting he`s going to get away with people not calling him on it. There`s some judgment error there.
O`DONNELL: Dr. Howard Dean, thank you for joining us tonight, really appreciates it.
O`DONNELL: Tonight`s Last Word will be tonight`s good news.
O`DONNELL: And now for the good news. In 2017, Nigeria completed a full year without any new cases of polio. And that is a huge accomplishment for Nigeria, a country that accounted for more than half of all polio cases worldwide just six years ago. And now there is more good news for Nigeria. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has agreed to basically pick up the tab for the cost of polio vaccinations.
The Gates Foundation has announced that it will pay a $76 million loan that Nigeria got from Japan for polio eradication. The Gates Foundation will step in and pay back loan to Japan covering the cost of polio eradication program in Nigeria. That is tonight`s good news, and that is Tonight`s Last Word. The 11th Hour with Brian Williams starts now.
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