Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: January 23, 2018 Guest: Harry Litman, David Leonhardt, Eugene Robinson, Angelica Villalobos
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel. Will I see you in Davos this weekend?
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": No, no.
O`DONNELL: OK, because I want to work on remodeling my kitchen. And that`s the place.
MADDOW: I just want to know, who is going to be there to answer the phone at the White House? They`re bringing the entire cabinet and the entire White House staff.
O`DONNELL: Well, there is no government shutdown. So they will have someone to answer.
Rachel, I was so glad to see you interviewing Senator Schumer tonight, because if you couldn`t do it tonight, and if I had to do the Schumer interview, it would have been so short. It would have been me saying, well, I get it. I see why you did what you did. And that would be it, because I`ve been in that room in the majority leader`s office in the Senate in the middle of the night trying to figure out these strategies.
And I know there is no good choice. And when I see the not good choice that the leader picks, it`s usually kind of a toss-up, 50-50, one way or the other. So, I really -- I really don`t have any questions for Senator Schumer. But it`s fascinating to see him responding to all of that doubt out there.
MADDOW: Yes. Exactly.
O`DONNELL: And all that negative fire he has been taking from his own side.
MADDOW: And to see him making the case, listen, we are better off than we were. Nobody can tell. It doesn`t look like that. But I swear there was rhyme behind this reason.
I mean, he has a case to make against a Democratic base and a lot of liberal activist groups in particular who are really mad about how that went down. I think it`s mostly because the Democratic strategy raised hopes that something could happen via the shutdown. That definitely didn`t happen.
He is making the case that things are better off than they were. The proof will be in the pudding on that. But he`s definitely got a very angry Democratic core base to take on and persuade of his side on this.
O`DONNELL: Yes. And as I was watching it from the strategic and tactical standpoint, the parliamentary standpoint, I didn`t see any better moves for the leader. I did see many better opportunities at better messaging.
O`DONNELL: Because I do think the message that came out from the Democratic side was, as usual, kind of chaotic. And there are many, many different voices saying many, many different things about what they were trying to accomplish, thereby giving the impression that only the victory coming out of this would have been getting DACA, which I don`t think was ever possible in the tactical spot they were in. And there was a better way of playing the message side of it for sure.
MADDOW: And if you raise that prospect, via messaging or the way that you`re talking about your stand, and then people don`t see you deliver on that, that is going to be something that gives you a deeper hole to dig out of than where you started.
He is trying to make the case that we`re closer to a DACA solution because of what just happened over the last few days. Again, that`s something that he doesn`t have to just argue, he now has to prove in order to make that case. And he`s the one who can deliver on it if that`s true.
O`DONNELL: Well, one way they`re closer is they did get one hostage out of the building. They got CHIP out of the hostage taking game that was being played. So, now, there is just one hostage left. That makes it strategically in the Senate, that makes that a little bit easier to do.
O`DONNELL: But as he said, there is no guarantee. It`s going to be I think a big surprise if they can pull this off.
MADDOW: Yes, no way to run a government.
O`DONNELL: That`s right.
MADDOW: As we say. Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
Well, tonight, the special prosecutor`s investigation is moving closer, much closer to the president of the United States. "The New York Times" is confirming something that has long been suspected that former FBI Director James Comey met with the special prosecutor`s team for an interview last year, and "The Washington Post" is reporting that the special prosecutor is now negotiating the terms of an interview with the president of the United States.
And Roger Stone is convinced that the pot of the United States is going to commit perjury. And no one in politics knows Donald Trump better than Roger Stone. Of all the political gadflies in and around the Trump presidential campaign, none of them knew Donald Trump longer than Roger Stone. Roger Stone met Donald Trump 39 years in 1979. Roger Stone`s specialty in Republican politics has always been dirty tricks, which he began learning at a very young age from the man in Republican politics then known as Tricky Dick, Richard Nixon, whose own dirty tricks eventually destroyed his presidency and forced him to resign on the verge of being impeached in 1974.
Roger Stone was introduced to Donald Trump by an even dirtier trick master than Roger Stone, Republican lawyer Roy Cohn, who was eventually publicly disgraced by being disbarred and charged with crimes before he died in 1986.
President Trump has complained that Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who we learned today was interviewed by the special prosecutor just last week, has never tried to protect Donald Trump the way Roy Cohn did when he was Donald Trump`s lawyer. "The New York Times" recently quoted president Trump as saying in frustration, where is my Roy Cohn? By which he apparently meant why don`t I have an attorney general like Roy Cohn who will violate any rule and break any law to protect me?
Roger Stone is Roy Cohn without a law degree. So, he`s never been disbarred for any of his dirty tricks. But he was effectively banned from major Republican politics in the 1990s when it was discovered that he and his then wife were advertising in swingers` magazines to find like-minded couples to hook up with.
And yes, before the Internet took over our lives, that sort of thing was actually done through magazines. And no, I`m not going to show you the photos of Roger Stone in those swinger magazines because, as you know, that`s what Google is for. When the photos of Mr. and Mrs. Rogers Stone in swingers magazines became public, everyone in Washington suddenly realized that Roger Stone was living a much more exciting life than we thought he was, and that those photos were basically Roger Stone`s political obituary.
But Donald Trump, who still hasn`t said one word of denial about reports in "The Wall Street Journal" that he arranged to pay off a porn star to keep quiet about an affair they had is not the kind of guy to be troubled by Roger Stone`s lifestyle. It may be that of all the political types around Donald Trump for the last couple of years, none of them have a better view, a better understanding of who Donald Trump really is than Roger Stone. Not just because Roger Stone has known Donald Trump the longest time, but because Roger Stone is almost as unusual as Donald Trump.
And he is unusual in ways that are very similar to Donald Trump. They share a variety of proclivities from the political to the personal. Roger Stone was the Donald Trump of politics before Donald Trump entered politics. Roger Stone thinks like Donald Trump. Roger Stone has always told lies with ease and confidence. So he is rarely worth listening to.
But tonight, "The Washington Post" has decided to give Roger Stone the last word in its breaking news report that special prosecutor Robert Mueller is, quote, seeking to question President Trump in the coming weeks about his decisions to oust national security adviser Michael Flynn and FBI director James B. Comey, according to two people familiar with his plans.
"The Post" goes on the report that the Trump legal team is negotiating the terms for the president`s interview with the special prosecutor`s team. Roger Stone thinks that is sheer madness. "The Washington Post" ends its report tonight with this. Roger Stone, a long-time informal adviser to President Trump said he should try to avoid an interview at all costs, saying agreeing to such a session would be a suicide mission.
I find it to be a death wish. Why would you walk into a perjury trap? Stone said. The president would be very poorly advised to give Mueller an interview. End of story.
Of course, a perjury trap can only be a perjury trap, if you choose to commit perjury. And that is what Roger Stone is apparently convinced the president will do. Roger Stone`s 39 years of hanging out with Donald Trump make him 100 percent confident that Donald Trump will commit perjury in an interview with the special prosecutor.
Roger Stone thinks it`s a suicide mission. It`s a death wish. Roger Stone thinks the president of the United States will fall into a perjury trap. And Roger Stone knows the real Donald Trump much better than Trump`s Washington lawyers do.
Joining us now Harry Litman, former U.S. attorney and deputy assistant attorney general under President Clinton. He is now a professor at the University of California, San Diego. And Matt Miller, former spokesman for Attorney General Eric Holder and an MSNBC contributor.
And, Harry Litman, people refer to these things, they talk about it as a perjury trap. And as I said, it`s only a perjury trap if you commit perjury.
HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: That`s true. But he really is walking into it. It`s clear why Stone thinks it`s a suicide mission.
Look, first he`s told lie after lie and shifting series of lies about the basic reasons for the firing of Comey. And he is going to be fed each of those one by one. And he can`t possibly reconcile them all. That`s one.
But the other big point here is Flynn is cooperating. Flynn knows exactly what happened, and Trump does not know what Flynn said. So, he would, if he comes out with anything that`s different from what the witnesses have already told the grand jury, he is completely exposed for perjury.
His basic option to avoid perjury is to cop to obstruction, not a very attractive choice.
O`DONNELL: And, Matt Miller, when the president does finally do this interview, he now knows that James Comey has already been interviewed and that he, the president, had one-on-one conversations with James Comey that he will be asked about. He knows that his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has already been interviewed for several hours, and that they have material about the president from Jeff Sessions. He knows they have information from Flynn. The president knows they have information from Michael Flynn about the president.
In other words, Matt, when the president goes into this, he knows that the special prosecutor knows, already knows an awful lot about what Donald Trump has said in conversations with those people.
MATT MILLER, FORMER SPOKESMAN FOR A.G. ERIC HOLDER: Yes, that`s right. And by the time he does this interview, the special counsel will have talked to Steve Bannon, his former top aide. And he has talked already to former chief of staff Reince Priebus.
Everyone that was around Trump at the time he made the decision to fire Jim Comey, and that everyone that was around him in the period leading up to that decision, when he was complaining about the Russia investigation. From all the reporting we know, he was repeatedly inside the White House complaining and venting and wanting that investigation ended. Everything he said to all of those staffers of his, Bob Mueller knows all of that.
So when Donald Trump goes, in if he denies any of those conversations, look, he will have walked into this perjury trap that you laid out.
The problem is, and I think Roger Stone is right to be worried, and I think it`s clear that his attorneys are worried, when is the last time you`ve seen Donald Trump in a public appearance get through an entire interview or through a press conference without telling a lie? He seems constitutionally incapable at many points of telling the truth. And, you know, there had not been a lot of consequences for him when he does that publicly, when he is talking to a reporter. There will be huge consequences for him if he does it in an interview with Bob Mueller.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to the president today when he was asked about the news that just emerged today that the attorney general has been speaking -- interviewed by the special prosecutor.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Mr. President, are you concerned about what the attorney general told the special counsel?
TRUMP: No, I`m not at all, Kristen. Not at all.
REPORTER: Did you talk to him about it?
TRUMP: No, I didn`t, but I`m not at all concerned. Thank you all very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Harry Litman, interesting question there. Kristen Welker asked him. Did you talk to him about it, meaning did you talk to Jeff Sessions about talking to the special prosecutor? And the president says, no, I didn`t. And we certainly know by the president`s history in this arena that he would have talked to him. And things would have had to change a lot to constrict his behavior to not talk to the attorney general about this.
LITMAN: That`s true, although he`s probably under a complete tight leash not to talk to other witnesses. That`s how you can get into even further trouble with obstruction.
But on Sessions, there is two points that need to be made. First, Sessions is a big witness here. He is in the February 14th meeting with Comey. He is emasculated by Trump for not recusing himself. He is button holed by Comey after who tells him don`t let the president near me in that way. That`s one point.
The second point, there is this major disconnect with Trump. Everything he is saying in the press conferences, no collusion, no collusion. But he seems not to have realized that Mueller is coming at him like a freight train on the obstruction charges. And there he`s got a clean and strong case. If his lawyers haven`t figured that out, it`s time they do it.
O`DONNELL: And, Matt Miller, there is a new poll out, CNN poll saying if Trump is asked by Mueller should he testify under oath? It`s overwhelming, 78 percent yes. And you can`t get that poll up to 78 percent without including a lot of Trump voters who are saying yes, the president should testify under oath to the special prosecutor.
MILLER: Yes, it`s a heartening result after the attacks we`ve seen on the special prosecutor, on the FBI, really on the rule of law itself, to see that still an overwhelming majority of voters think that the president ought to participate in this interview.
Look, he only has one way out of this interview, and that`s to take the Fifth Amendment which I think obviously is politically untenable. It ought to be evident for the president to take the Fifth Amendment. You know, every American has that right adds a private citizen. I think we should ask more of that from a president.
So, if he does decline this -- so, barring taking the Fifth, if he declines this interview, I think what we`ll see in short order from the special prosecutor is a grand jury subpoena. The president will have to comply with that, unless he is willing to just completely provoke a constitutional crisis by refusing a lawful court order. He is going to be forced to testify at some point in this investigation.
O`DONNELL: Harry --
LITMAN: That seems right, although that`s a big unless, unless he is willing to provoke a constitutional crisis. A lot of reasons to think that he would be willing to provoke a constitutional crisis. And there are ways he can sort of make a mess and push things down the road. I`m sorry, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: I`ll just, we can leave it there any other politician would be worried about what would happen if he took the Fifth Amendment. When Donald Trump is in that room, he is going to be more worried about his future in this possible criminal investigation than his future as a politician. If the Fifth Amendment means one term for Donald Trump, he`ll take it.
Harry Litman, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Matt Miller, please stay with us.
Coming up, we have more breaking news. After firing James Comey as the FBI director, the president reportedly asked the new acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe who he voted for for president.
And later, it`s really all about real people, not just tactics on the Senate floor. A Dreamer who asked Paul Ryan if she is going to be deported will join us. And you will see the answer that Paul Ryan gave her when she asked that question.
O`DONNELL: -- FBI Director James Comey to drop his investigation of Michael Flynn, which James Comey did not do, President Trump then fired the FBI director. Since then, the president has not stopped tampering with his next two FBI directors.
The president was asked about that today after a story in "Axios" reported that the current FBI director threatened to resign after facing pressure from the Trump administration to get rid of Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Did Christopher Wray threaten to resign?
TRUMP: No, he didn`t at all. He didn`t. He did not even a little bit. Nope. And he is going to do a good job.
REPORTER: Are you concerned about this new relationship with the FBI?
TRUMP: Let`s see how it all works out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Shortly after the president said that today, word began to leak out of the Justice Department about how it`s all working out. "The Washington Post" is reporting that two new officials will join the FBI, both replacing people who served under James Comey.
Former U.S. Attorney Dana Boente who briefly served as acting attorney general after Sally Yates was fired will be the FBI`s new general counsel replace James Baker. And Zachary Harmon will become the FBI director`s new chief of staff, replacing Jim Rybicki, who was the chief of staff under James Comey.
The most important news about the FBIJ came later today in a stunning report from "The Washington Post" what the president said shortly after he fired FBI Director James Comey. Between the Comey firing and Senate confirmation of Christopher Wray as the next FBI director, the FBI`s deputy director served as the acting director of the FBI.
Soon after he became the acting director, Andrew McCabe was summoned to the oval office for what "The Washington Post" reports was a get-to-know-you meeting. There is no indication in "The Washington Post" report that anyone other than the president and the acting Director McCabe were in the Oval Office for this meeting, which did not go well.
"The Post" reports the two men exchanged pleasantries, but before long Trump, according to several current around former officials asked Andrew McCabe a pointed question. Whom did he vote for in the 2016 election? McCabe said he didn`t vote. Trump, the official said, also vented his anger at McCabe over the several hundred thousand dollars in donations his wife, a Democrat, received for her failed 2015 Virginia state Senate bid from a political action committee controlled by a close friend of Hillary Clinton.
McCabe, who has spent more than two decades at the bureau, found the conversation with Trump disturbing, said one former U.S. official inside the FBI. Officials familiar with the exchange expressed frustration that a civil servant, even a very senior agent in the number two position would be asked how he voted and criticized for his wife`s political leanings by the president. One person said the Trump-McCabe conversation is of interest to special counsel Robert Mueller.
Joining us now, Betsy Woodruff, politics reporter for "The Daily Beast" and MSNBC contributor, and back with us, Matt Miller.
And, Matt, what would be the special prosecutor`s interest in that exchange with Andrew McCabe about how he voted in the presidential election?
MILLER: I think the interesting thing about this exchange is you have to remember the context in which it occurred. This is right after Jim Comey was fired. And, Andrew McCabe was essentially there meeting the president in a job interview. He was up for the position of acting director. The administration interviewed him and several other candidates for that position. And he was potentially in line to be nominated to be the full- time director.
So, the president is sending a very clear signal to him in that meeting, just as he did in his first meetings with Jim Comey after taking office they expect you to be loyal to me. I want to know that you`re someone that has my back, someone that supported me in the election. I`m going to let you know that I disagreed with the fact that your wife was supported by an ally of Hillary Clinton.
He was telling the FBI director very clearly I think if you want to get this job, I expect you to be loyal to me. Not to the Constitution, not to the rule of law, but to me, Donald Trump.
O`DONNELL: And, Betsy, it`s very clear as we see in this sequence Donald Trump has gone through three FBI directors so far. One acting director, two directors. That he has no inhibitions apparently still about tampering with the FBI director.
BETSY WOODRUFF, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Right. And it`s really extraordinary just how much the senior ranks of the Justice Department have been roiled during the Trump presidency. Jim Comey was fired, of course. Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, reportedly threatens to resign over pressure that President Trump and the White House put on him. Chuck Rosenberg, now a contributor to this network, stepped down as head of the Drug Enforcement Administration which is part of the Department of Justice after saying publicly that he was concerned that president Trump appeared to condone police misconduct. And, of course, now, we have Chris Wray reportedly threatening to resign as well.
That`s an entire spate of incredibly powerful people with extraordinary amounts of responsibility either being forced out of their jobs or threatening to leave their jobs because of one reason, and the one reason is President Donald Trump. It`s having a dramatic behind-the-scenes effect on the way the Department of Justice as an institution works.
But that said, what makes this whole situation even more unusual is that it points to a slight ham-handedness in Trump`s firing of James Comey. Anyone who is familiar with the way that leadership of the FBI works could have told you Comey and McCabe were close. Firing Comey and replacing him with McCabe would be like firing Comey and replacing him with Comey.
On top of that, Chris Wray is very much part of this same cohort of experienced federal law enforcement officials that almost came of age in the wake of 9/11. Chris Wray was in the Justice Department while Bob Mueller was heading the FBI as that institution turned into primarily a counterterrorism institution.
These guys all know each other. They`ve known each other for years. They`re close. They get along.
The idea that Chris Wray would let Donald Trump bully him into firing someone who he`s known, who is part of that circle, just strains credulity, and it all points to the fact that Trump just doesn`t seem to know how to make the FBI become loyal to him as much as that clearly seems to be his goal.
O`DONNELL: And, Matt, you begin to think as you listen to the way the president talks about this that if you are a Democrat or married to a Democrat, you can`t possibly be a fair FBI agent or officer at the same time. And then when you tell the president that Robert Mueller is a Republican, then apparently even being a Republican isn`t good enough.
MILLER: Yes, look. What Donald Trump wants is not an adherence to the rule of law. He doesn`t want someone what is in that job that is going to call balls and strikes based on how they see them. He wants someone that is going to call balls and strikes in his favor.
I think -- you know, Betsy makes a really good point about this ethos among people like Chris Wray, people like Bob Mueller, people who have come up in the Department of Justice. For people who have never worked there, it`s kind of hard to describe how ingrained this culture of independence is. So, for all of them to see what Donald Trump does on a daily basis -- to have any one of these officials threatened to resign and protest in a normal administration would be a huge occurrence. But we`ve seen it from just about every senior official in the justice department in this administration,.
And it still, none of it is ever enough for Donald Trump, and none of it ever backs him down. We still see him on almost a daily basis going after the FBI on Twitter, complaining about the attorney general, sometimes complaining about the deputy attorney general. He will not be satisfied until this Justice Department has, one, shut down the investigation into him, and two, launched investigations into his political opponents. Anything short of that, he is going to continue to rail publicly and privately about this department.
O`DONNELL: Matt Miller and Betsy Woodruff, thank you both for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it.
WOODRUFF: Sure thing.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, where did the $130,000 come from? The $130,000 used to pay off the porn star who says she had an affair with that guy in the picture.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you say to those Dreamers who are worried that you won`t keep your word and a bring a bill to the floor? A lot could go wrong between now and then.
MITCH MCCONNELL, United States SENATOR: I intend to keep my word.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Here is what the Democratic Leader of the Senate Chuck Schumer told Rachel about that tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: large residential washers and washing machine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Let`s see. Chuck Schumer said I realize sometimes he`s broken his word before. But he said on the floor we will definitely get a vote on February 8th. And I think the control room now has Chuck Schumer actually saying what I was just telling you Chuck Schumer said. Let`s listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHUCK SCHUMER, UNITED STATES SENATOR: I realize sometimes he`s broken his word before. But he said on the floor we will definitely get a vote on February 8th of a bipartisan bill on Dreamers that has my OK. So it will be a very good bill. And the thing about McConnell`s promise, he didn`t just make it to me, he made it to 10 Republican members of his caucus. A leader is very, very reluctant to break a promise to members of his caucus so now we have a chance to get 60 votes for Dreamers in the Senate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: A new NBC Poll today shows that a combined 56 percent of Americans believe that the President or Republicans in Congress are to blame for the shutdown, while 39 percent believe Democrats are to blame for the shutdown. Joining us David Leonhardt, an op-ed columnist for the New York Times. Also joining us Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize winning opinion writer for the Washington Post and an MSNBC Political Analyst. And David, the Democrats came out of this with a six-year deal on CHIP and the Republicans came out of it with a new deadline of February 8th where they go through the whole thing again.
DAVID LEONHARDT, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. I mean I think you said a version of this at the top of the show. I think the Democrats` mistake here is letting anyone think they actually had the ability to use a shutdown threat to solve the Dreamers problem. They don`t.
We saw this repeatedly when Republicans were in the minority and we had a Democratic President that if the minority party says we will shut down the government unless you give us what we want, if the majority party gives in to that, the majority party is essentially saying to the minority party, you can do whatever you want. You just have to threaten to shut down the government and we`ll give in. And so the notion I think that has become common among some progressives that Democrats folded here is wrong.
The problem was the Senate giving the sense that they could actually succeed. They couldn`t. I`m actually less worried about whether McConnell gives them a vote and I`m more worried what Paul Ryan does and whether he will allow a vote on the Dreamers in the House.
O`DONNELL: And Gene, Chuck Schumer says this is one step at a time. This is let`s get that vote in the Senate without the vote in the senate, we won`t be able to put any pressure on the House.
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: That`s true. And they probably are 60 votes in the Senate I think for the Dreamers. You know the Democrats` problem, as David said essentially is that they are in the minority. And you don`t get to - you don`t get to run the Senate if you`re in the minority. That said, it`s a whole lot easier to get it through the Senate than it is to get it through the House.
And what will Paul Ryan do if he just would allow a vote on a clean Dream Act in the House? It might well pass. But that will be with Democrats and moderate Republicans. That would not have the support of a majority, the majority, the Hastert Rule.
And that`s what he use to and probably has to keep his job. So you know the one thing we ought to keep in mind though in terms of the political ramifications of the shutdown is everything has a shelf life of about three days these days.
O`DONNELL: That`s right. Yes.
ROBINSON: So it will be so forgotten.
O`DONNELL: What shutdown? What are you talking about?
ROBINSON: Yes, exactly. By next month it will seem like it was years ago.
O`DONNELL: Yes, and I think Chuck Schumer didn`t get into this tonight. But there was a big dynamic change when Mitch McConnell announced that he was going to move the date, which was a concession by McConnell to move the date up a week from the 16th to the 8th. Lindsey Graham immediately announced that that would be OK with him and he would vote for this. And what that meant was that Chuck Schumer was facing the possibility, in fact, the absolute fact that all of the Republicans who supported the Schumer side of this were going to immediately defect to the Republican side. And then, David, you would have nothing but a Democratic partisan vote alone to take full responsibility for shutting down the government.
LEONHARDT: That`s right. Matt Glassman, a political scientist had a nice line. He said DACA unites the Democrats. That`s the Dreamers. Unites the Democrats and divides the Republicans. A shutdown unites the Republicans and divides the Democrats. So if you are out there and you were horrified by the possibility that these young Dreamers were going to be deported, what you should be rooting for is that the Dreamers issue is kept separate from the shutdown issue because if it`s connected, I don`t think it`s going to get solved.
O`DONNELL: david leonhardt thank you very much for joining Gene Robinson could you please stick around because I need someone -
O`DONNELL Who will join me in the discussion of the President and the porn star and you`re nominated for that.
ROBINSON: Somebody`s got to do it. somebody got to do it Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: All right, we`re going to take a quick break. Gather your thoughts gene. We`re going to be right back
O`DONNELL: And now the latest on the President and the adult film actress. Citizens for responsibility and ethics, a watchdog group in Washington tweeted President Trump is accused of paying $130,000 in hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels to hide an affair a month before the election in what is probably just a coincidence, the Trump campaign transferred $130,000 to the Trump businesses a month after the election. Here is right-wing Christian conservative Tony Perkins explaining why right wing Christian conservatives seem to have no problem with this kind of thing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY PERKINS, RIGHT-WING CHRISTIAN CONSERVATIVE: Evangelicals did not vote for Donald Trump based on his moral qualifications. But based upon what he said he was going to do and who he was surrounding himself with. Evangelical support is not unconditional. If the President were to all of the sudden revert back to some of that behavior as President, the evangelical support will not be there for him. So it`s basically -- we kind of gave him, all right, you get a mulligan. You get a do-over here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Gene Robinson.
O`DONNELL: Is back with us. Gene, please don`t use any golf terminology, because I really don`t understand that stuff. So this $130,000, if that came out of Trump businesses to make that payment. That is a campaign finance violation.
O`DONNELL: And it`s also a campaign violation if it came out of Donald Trump`s pocket because he didn`t report it as a campaign contribution.
ROBINSON: That`s Correct. So, you know, it is that old phrase, never said by deep throat, follow the money. It is the money here that could potentially be a violation of law. And so we`re going to have to find out more about that. Step back for a second. If at any other time in American history we learned that the President had paid hush money to a porn star to keep an affair quiet, it would be front-page news above the fold every day.
And now it just seems like, you know, another thing. One does wonder how many do-overs, I won`t use the phrase, the term Mulligan`s. But how many do-overs the Family Research Council is willing to give Trump, though. You have the Access Hollywood tape. You have his entire life to sort of give him a do-over on. And including stuff -- well, I don`t know about sex stuff. But what he is saying and doing in the Whitehouse certainly does not comport with what I think of as the values of the evangelical community.
O`DONNELL: And, Gene, as we know, the Trump Twitter finger is always ready to go to deny any accusation against him. Not one word of denial from Donald Trump or the Trump Whitehouse about any aspect of this story.
ROBINSON: Yes. And someone must have gotten to him and said don`t say a word. And imagine -- well, I`m projecting here. But one thing he could be worried about is that if he, you know, a Tweet that would obviously criticize Stormy Daniels and defame her in some way, you know, might essentially open him up to a lawsuit. If he says she is lying, he can say she has -- he has defamed her and sue him and then she`d have discovery and we`d learn a whole lot of stuff that he probably doesn`t want us to learn.
O`DONNELL: And there is an unexplained cancellation for Melania Trump on the trip to Davos. She has decided not to go. And today, gene, America might not know this, but this is Donald Trump`s wedding anniversary, his third wedding anniversary, by which I mean his third wife. His wedding anniversary with his third wife and he hasn`t tweeted a word about that either or said a word about that publicly or made any communication that we know of with his wife about that. And it just might be that it`s too stormy a week for that.
ROBINSON: You know, who knows? I think it is wrong and absurd for people to make the assumption that Melania Trump is some sort of mannequin who is or android who is like cool with all the stuff that Donald Trump does and has done. Why would you assume that? Why would you assume that she wouldn`t have, you know, just normal reactions and I imagine this week her reactions might have been rather acute.
O`DONNELL: Eugene Robinson, thank you very much for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.
ROBINSON: Happy to be here, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, a Dreamer who got a chance to ask Paul Ryan if she is going to be deported will join us. And you will see what paul ryan said to her when he answered that question. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: It`s about people, the lives of real people. And it`s easy to lose sight of that when there is so much talk about politicians and the blame game, about who won and who caved. but legislation is always about people. And those people are never in the room when the big deals are getting done to pass legislation.
When congressional leaders closed the door to try to negotiate a deal on legislation to continue the DACA program, there were no DACA beneficiaries in the room. There is no one in the Whitehouse who is related to a DACA beneficiary. We heard from the Trump Administrations Homeland Security Secretary who testified under oath that she has never met or spoken to a DACA Beneficiary.
All of the Democratic Party legislative leaders have had meetings with DACA beneficiaries and their families. And we know that Paul Ryan has spoken to at least one DACA beneficiary because he did it on TV. When Angelica Villalobos stood up at a CNN Town Hall a year ago a TV show a year ago and asked Speaker Ryan if she should be deported as she stood there with her 10-year-old daughter Destiny. Angelica and Destiny will join us in a moment. But first let`s listen to how Paul Ryan answered her question one year ago
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGELICA VILLALOBOS, UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANT: Thank you, speaker Ryan. I am undocumented. As you mentioned, I live in the state of Oklahoma. I`m here with one of my daughters Destiny.
I`ve been in the United States for 21 years. I am protected from deportation because of the DACA program. To be protected I applied, went through a background check and paid nearly $1,000 in visa. It`s clear if DACA gets repealed, my daughter will lose her mother -- I`m sorry -- she will lose her mother, and I want you to know that DACA has helped me. Do you think that I should be deported and many families in my situation should?
PAUL RYAN, UNITED STATES SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: No. Angelica, first of all, I can see that you love your daughter, and you`re a nice person who has a great future ahead of you, and I hope your future is here. What we have to do is find a way to make sure you can get right with the law. And we`ve got to do this in a good way so that the rug doesn`t get pulled out from under you and your family gets separated. That`s the way we feel and that is exactly what our new incoming President has stated that he wants to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And nine months after Paul Ryan said to Angelica, I hope your future is here, the President pulled the rug out from under DACA beneficiaries by ordering an end to the program on march 5th of this year. Angelica Villalobos and her daughter Destiny will join us next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN: If you`re worried, you know, about some deportation force knocking on your door this year, don`t worry about that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Angelica Villalobos and her daughter Destiny. And it`s been a year since you heard Paul Ryan tell you not to be worried about that knock on the door. Are you worried about that knock on the door tonight?
O`DONNELL: And when you watched what happened in the United States Senate over the weekend in this ongoing fight for DACA, realizing that the fight is now going to resume with a February 8th deadline, March 5th being the deadline for the program, what is your -- how optimistic are you, how pessimistic are you about this outcome?
VILLALOBOS: You know, us being Mexican, I can tell you that I -- hope is the last thing that we lose, so I`m definitely hoping that something will get done. As far as like, how do I feel when I see things happening like it did this weekend where you know literally it looks like it`s playing a game. So it`s very scary at times because you don`t know what to expect from, you know, Congress, and obviously they think it`s a game by, you know, making us choose whether we want one thing or the other.
O`DONNELL: Destiny, you`re 10 years old. You`re in the fifth grade. You`re learning an awful lot about politics and government for a fifth grader. If you could talk to Paul Ryan again tonight, or President Trump, what would you tell them about your mother`s situation?
DESTINY VILLALOBOS: I would ask them why like, Paul Ryan, as I`ve heard my mother say many times, like, he said not to worry, but right now he`s not doing anything.
O`DONNELL: Angelica, it seems a little worse than not doing anything on Paul Ryan`s side. He has members of the House of Representatives on his side saying they absolutely do not want to make any steps on DACA during this budget deadline.
VILLALOBOS: Well, when you think about it, I mean, he did say that we should not be worrying, that they do not have the deportation force coming out and knocking on our door. But it is happening. It has happened in the last year since I you know got to ask him the question.
I think that he needs to really think about what he said, because technically he made a promise. He said that I should not be worried about it, which this is not the case. and by him obstructing to bring the D.R.E.A.M. Act to the floor for a vote, I mean I think definitely he is not, you know, meeting up to -- he`s not meeting the promises that he made.
O`DONNELL: Destiny, do you and your family talk about what might happen if DACA expires and they do try to deport your mother?
DESTINY VILLALOBOS: Well, we try not to but it always ends up coming up at some point.
O`DONNELL: Angelica, is there a family plan, a plan B if something like this happens?
VILLALOBOS: Definitely there is. I hope it doesn`t come to that. But we have talked about my oldest daughter will be 18 in August, and, you know, we talked about making her the legal guardian of the children in case something were to happen to me and their dad. you know, pretty much make her grow up at 18 and take care of what us as parents should be taking care of, and she needs to only worry about school. But right now we`re thinking about her moving to college this next fall and also thinking about whether she will need to stay in the state to take care of her sisters.
O`DONNELL: Destiny, has any of this experience given you any thoughts about what you may want to do when you grow up?
DESTINY VILLALOBOS: No, not really.
O`DONNELL: Fifth grade, you have plenty of time to figure it out. Angelica and Destiny Villalobos, thank you very much for joining us tonight, really appreciate you being here.
VILLALOBOS: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Thank you. Angelica and Destiny Villalobos gets tonight Last Word. The 11th Hour with Brian Williams starts now.
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