Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: February 19, 2018 Guest: Daniel Dale, Mieke Eoyang, David Willman
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
I want to give you a tip about the White House briefing because I watched it just a tiny bit more than you do. I agree with you about it completely. It`s usually a zero information zone, easily avoidable and ignorable, and - - but I know when they say it`s scheduled for two, and you`re planning your take-up.
It doesn`t actually have to be takeout. You could actually have a reservation at a restaurant for two and by the time you get to the office after that, it will probably be just about starting. Don`t be surprised if it starts at 3:15 or --
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": So, here`s my question about that did they start it late and then let it run as late as it needs to go, or do they have a closing time in mind and as it gets later and later in terms of when it starts, the thing just gets shorter and shorter.
O`DONNELL: That`s what I`ve seen and them in the few that I`ve seen, is there always seems to be a very strict end time to this thing. But the -- but that starts at 2:00 thing is -- that`s just a suggestion about like kind of when to start thinking about it.
MADDOW: All right. I`ll head out and get some ramen at 2:00 and see if I can make that bet.
O`DONNELL: That will work.
MADDOW: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thanks, Rachel.
Well, Donald Trump spent his weekend in Florida not playing golf because apparently his advisers told him it wouldn`t look presidential for him to be happily playing golf so close to the scene where 14 students and three teachers were murdered in their high school on Wednesday, so he waited until today to play golf. The White House could not hide the fact that the president went to his golf resort today, but the White House is refusing to answer the question, did the president play golf, which in every previous White House has never been a controversial question. They`re refusing to answer the question of did the president play golf, of course, means that the White House doesn`t like the answer to the question which, of course, means, of course, yes, the president must have played golf on Presidents Day.
The Trump advisors who succeeded in getting him to not play golf for two days of the three-day weekend could not succeed in getting him to not tweet utterly stupid, self-centered false very unpresidential tweets. "New York Times" columnist Thomas Friedman, a nonpartisan columnist, quoting one of those tweets in his column called Trump`s Saturday night tweet demented.
Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign. There is no collusion get back to the basics and make us proud.
That was the most perverted possible interpretation of what we have learned from the investigation of America`s most recent school massacre. In the president`s stream of tweets this weekend, he had nothing to say about Vladimir Putin and nothing negative to say about the Russian interference with our election as described in the indictment of 13 Russians that was revealed on Friday by special prosecutor Robert Mueller.
The president of the United States had only this deeply perverted thing to say about Russia this weekend. It was the goal of Russia to create discord, disruption and chaos within the U.S. then with all of the committee hearings, investigations and party hatred, they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. They are laughing their asses off in Moscow. Get smart, America!
And this is where we pause to consider just for a moment what if -- what if Barack Obama had ever used language like that in his official public communication as president of the United States, what would the reaction have been on Fox News and the right-wing Trump worshipping media? They criticize Barack Obama as unpresidential for this and they criticized him for this, a light-colored suit in summer which is actually a classic sartorial tradition.
That`s what got you criticized for as unpresidential when Barack Obama was president. Donald Trump has debased the public language of the American presidency. He does it every day with his absurdly limited vocabulary and his vulgarians ignorance of proper presidential language the Trump view of Moscow is not shared by everyone working in the White House we did see a proper White House reaction this weekend to the indictment of the 13 Russians, but we had to go to Germany to see it at the annual Munich Security Conference. A Russian stood up and had the audacity to ask White House national security advisor H.R. McMaster when Russia in the United States would start working together on cybersecurity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you feel about our repeated proposals to start a bilateral dialogue, a Russian-American dialogue on cybersecurity, which is being rejected all the time by the American side? Thank you.
H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, I`m surprised Russian-- I`m surprised if there were Russian cyber experts available based on how active most of them have been against in undermining our democracies in the West.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Donald Trump didn`t clap for that. H.R. McMaster, unlike his boss, sounds like someone who actually read the indictment of the 13 Russians.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCMASTER: I would just say that we would love to have a cyber dialogue when Russia`s sincere about curtailing its sophisticated form of espionage, what you might call this modern-day sort of form of Moscow rufka (ph) enabled -- enabled by modern technology. And I think that day will be coming because we`re becoming more and more adept at tracing the origins of this espionage and subversion. And as you can see with the FBI indictment, the evidence is now really incontrovertible and available in the public domain.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: President Trump not surprisingly hated what his national security adviser said in Germany this weekend about the indictment. And so, the president tweeted this: General McMaster forgot to say that the results of the 2016 election were not impacted or changed by the Russians and that the only collusion was between Russia and crooked H, the DNC and the Dems. Remember the dirty dossier, uranium, speeches, emails and the Podesta company!
Of course, H.R. McMaster did not forget to say any of those nonsensical lies. Thomas Friedman says that the president`s reaction to the indictment shows that he is either totally compromised by the Russians or is a towering fool or both. Trump`s behavior amounts to refusal to carry out his oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution hears an imperfect but close analogy. It`s as if George W. Bush had said after 9/11 no big deal I am going golfing over the weekend in Florida and blogging about how it`s all the Democrats` fault, no need to hold a National Security Council meeting.
Thomas Friedman offers a possible explanation for Donald Trump`s refusal to ever criticize Vladimir Putin or make any attempt to defend the United States against Russia`s cyberattacks. And we`ve all been offering our own versions of this. I offered one of these last week on this program.
Here`s Tom Friedman`s theory of the case. Either Trump`s real estate empire has taken large amounts of money from shady oligarchs linked to the Kremlin, so much that they literally own him or rumors are true that he engaged in sexual misbehavior while he was in Moscow running the Miss Universe contest, which Russian intelligence has on tape and he doesn`t want released, or Trump actually believes Russian President Vladimir Putin when he says he is innocent of intervening in our elections over the explicit findings of Trump`s own CIA, NSA and FBI chiefs.
In some, Trump is either hiding something so threatening to himself or he`s criminally incompetent to be commander-in-chief.
Joining us now: Jonathan Alter, MSNBC political analyst and a columnist for "The Daily Beast". Also with us, Daniel Dale, Washington correspondent for "The Toronto Star". And Mieke Eoyang, former House Intelligence Committee staff member and vice president for the national security program at the Third Way.
And, Jonathan, after a weekend of this much to deal with feel free to grab any piece of it and your reaction to where we are tonight.
JONATHAN ALTER, COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, whatever the motives that Tom Friedman laid out, we`re going to find out about a year from now when the house of representatives, if the Democrats take control and that`s a big if, begin their impeachment proceedings against him because that will happen. That`s what was clear from this week -- this weekend.
The key word to understand, the key phrase is dereliction of duty. You`re going to be hearing that a lot. The president takes an oath to defend our country when were attacked. He failed to do that in the last several days after we learn rock solid that we had been attacked, that this was a cyber Pearl Harbor or a cyber 9/11. So, he has violated his oath and the Democrats will make him pay, whether they`ll get a conviction in the Senate and remove him from office is another question. We`ve crossed the Rubicon on this.
O`DONNELL: Mika Eoyang, please compare and contrast the president`s reaction to the indictment versus the national security adviser H.R. McMasters reaction.
MIEKE EOYANG, FORMER HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE STAFF MEMBER: Yes, the president`s reaction was all about himself and I think H.R. McMaster is recognizing the national security threat that was posed in the indictment, and when the Mueller indictment lays out exactly what the Russians had done here, spending $15 million and having all of these people deliberately designed to try and tear us apart to exacerbate divisions as the president acknowledged, to sow discord, they couldn`t have picked a better candidate to back than Donald Trump, who seems to everyday throw us into chaos and discord with the way that he talks about things and the way that he dominates the news cycle.
So many of these things are self-inflicted, so the Russians I think are probably pretty proud of what they did and understandably H.R. McMaster is quite dismayed at that.
O`DONNELL: And, Daniel Dale, I want to quote one more thing in Tom Friedman`s "New York Times" op-ed piece, and Friedman`s are an important case because he`s a nonpartisan columnist. This does not come from a partisan source of all. Tom Friedman wrote: This is code red. The biggest threat to the integrity of our democracy today is in the Oval Office.
DANIEL DALE, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE TORONTO STAR: Well, we can get desensitized to Trump behaving like Trump but we -- but we shouldn`t. you know this is a this is a long-running consistent attack on American institutions and I think you could argue American principles. You know, we used to be able to take it for granted that whatever the response was, whether we agree with it or not, whether it was proportionate or not, you know, the president of the United States would defend the United States against an attack whether it was a cyber attack or otherwise and we can`t take that for granted with Trump.
I think one thing that was notable though about his comments this weekend was that there was a shift in how he talks about the Russian matter. You know, he`d been saying for so long that this is nothing this is a hoax that he believed Vladimir Putin and now his line is this is real but it was Obama`s fault.
So, if nothing else, Mueller did shove him off of the talking points that he`s used for quite some time.
O`DONNELL: And, Jonathan, we discover from near China`s report who was with him in Florida this weekend. It says he was surrounded in Florida by people who are likely to share his grievances, his two oldest sons, as well as John F. Kelly, his chief of staff, and Dan Scavino Jr., the White House social media director who often emulates his boss`s prose on Twitter.
So, he had a apparently a chorus of supporters there.
ALTER: Yes. And, you know, he didn`t play golf to show respect for what happened in the school shooting, and then he tweets disrespect all weekend, not just for a wide variety of people but for those kids and for the victims by trying to use that tragedy to defend himself from the Russia investigation by saying you know that the FBI was too busy in Broward County investigating the -- failing to catch the killer beforehand. They were too busy because Russia. You know, this was a horrible slur on those folks, right after this tragedy.
And as for trying to blame Obama, which is preposterous because Obama imposed the sanctions that Trump then tried to lift on Russia and also it`s important to remember that this president began his political career with a lie about Barack Obama. This lying about Obama is the whole foundation of his -- of his political advancement. So, you can`t believe a word that comes out of his mouth and I think it`s also very important to hold accountable those people in elected office, all the way down through state legislators who are enabling him.
And if you go back to the `50s, they used to call him fellow travelers, right? These are fellow travelers with Trump in being soft on Russia and disrespecting our people and our Constitution.
O`DONNELL: Mieke --
EOYANG: Lawrence --
O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Mieke.
EOYANG: I was going to say, I want to come back to this being soft on Russia because to Jonathan`s earlier point about the 2018 elections, one of the things that`s really troubling here in the way that Trump is attacking the FBI is he`s not spent one second thinking about how to protect America and the next elections. And we heard last week from all the intelligence chiefs that the Russians are coming back and they`re likely targeted the elections and they will try very hard to prevent exactly the scenario that Jonathan was laying out, which is that Democrats will try and retake the House.
Trump is not at all interested in that happening. He`s also not at all interested in protecting the Americans right to choose their own leadership from Russian interference.
O`DONNELL: Daniel Dale, the president was being called out by name by some of the students at the high school who endured and escaped that massacre over the weekend and in the various gatherings that they`ve had there. And clearly, some people in the White House thought this is not a good time to play golf, but they couldn`t stop him today.
I`m going to look at tomorrow`s cover of "The New York Daily News" where the president actually went and played golf today they have the line, may I play through, Trump visits golf courses while families bury school massacre victims just miles away.
And, Daniel, it seems there`s only one president who`s capable of that juxtaposition.
DALE: Well, I think, Lawrence, whatever you think about the appropriateness of golf and the offensiveness of playing golf at such a moment, I think what we`ve seen again in the last few days is that, you know, Trump can only perform a rough approximation of the tone we expect of a president after a tragedy for a very limited period of time and only when he`s given a script, you know, so he can he can give a somber speech.
But in the days to come, he just can`t do it and I think it`s because what we`ve seen -- what we know is that his emotional range is very limited in the moments that calls for empathy, it`s just not there. You know, he`s a performer but what he`s good at performing is anger, is rage, is irritation, the moments that call for a softer more empathetic human tone.
And so, things that are presidents might -- with more empathy might not even think to do like play golf, he just does because this is who he is.
O`DONNELL: Jonathan, we saw mass shootings like this during the Obama presidency and we saw the president get on Air Force One and fly to the state, fly to the place where that shooting happened, but he did not go there to play golf.
ALTER: You know, honestly, the golf doesn`t bother me that much. It`s pretty far down the list of abuses. We have a president who is not defending our country. You know, as Mieke just said, this is -- we`re going to be attacked again and it`s Tom Friedman said, it`s like as if after 9/11, the president said, nothing to see here, no need to have a National Security Council meeting, we might get attacked again by terrorists but so be it.
That`s not the way presidents are supposed to respond, whether it`s Russians assaulting us or people using AR-15s to kill our children. President`s supposed to defend us, that`s what he takes an oath to do. That`s what he`s not doing.
He will be held to account for this if the Democrats take the House of Representatives.
O`DONNELL: And, America knows that President Obama would have been in Florida this weekend and he would have been possibly at those funerals, would have spoken to those students directly. They would have -- he would have hugged those students, he would have met with them, would have listened to them, all that would have happened in an aftermath like that during President Obama`s time. But, of course, we didn`t see anything like that with this president this weekend.
Jonathan Alter, Daniel Dale, thank you both for joining us. Really appreciate it.
Mieke, we`re going to need you for another discussion coming up. "The L.A. Times" is reporting the special prosecutor is on the verge of obtaining another important guilty plea.
And what does Stormy Daniels have to do with the special prosecutor`s investigation? A former IRS agent will explain the possible tax fraud in Donald Trump`s lawyer`s payment to Stormy Daniels, and why that would interest Robert Mueller.
And Donald Trump has a new group of critics who he is afraid to confront or criticize. The president has not yet attacked the high school students who survive the massacre at their high school last week, and they`re now criticizing Donald Trump. Two of those students will join us.
O`DONNELL: -- Rob Mueller said he found new evidence of criminal activity against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort last week and now, "The Los Angeles Times" is reporting that Manafort`s associate Rick Gates, a former top aide to both Paul Manafort in his business and at the Trump campaign, has reached an agreement with the special prosecutor to plead guilty and become a cooperating witness in the investigation.
The indictment of Paul Manafort and Rick Gates says that both men for years were unregistered agents of the Ukrainian government and hid millions of dollars of Ukraine based payments from U.S. authorities. According to a person familiar with those talks. Gates is a longtime political consultant can expect, quote, a substantial reduction in his sentence if he fully cooperates with the investigation. He said Gates is likely to serve about 18 months in the prison.
Joining us now, David Willman, an investigative reporter for "The Los Angeles Times", and he`s based in the Washington bureau that of "The L.A. Times". Also with us, Mieke Eoyang.
David, tell us about the Gates case and how it is different from the Manafort case, to what extent it is and how helpful Gates can be if he becomes a cooperating witness.
DAVID WILLMAN, LOS ANGELES TIMES INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Sure, Lawrence. Rick Gates was a aide-de-camp, a top facilitator for Paul Manafort for at least a decade in their lobbying consulting business and that carried over to when Paul Manafort was hired by Donald Trump to be the chairman of his presidential campaign as of June of 2016.
But getting to the indictment that, both Manafort and Gates are charged with now as of late October by Robert Mueller`s team of prosecutors and a grand jury, there was -- Paul Manafort is accused alleged to have laundered some $18 million through tax haven accounts, in places like the Grenadines, Seychelles Islands, and Rick Gates was a partner in that crime literally, according to the indictment.
The indictment alleges that Rick Gates personally took three million dollars out of those accounts that were in these tax havens and spent it on his own personal needs, including things around his residence what have you.
O`DONNELL: And, David, what about this notion that he might be pleading down to an 18-month sentence? That sounds like they`re -- a sentence that who you get at trial would be a significant multiple of that.
WILLMAN: He was facing a significant multi -- he would face a significant multiple of that if he were convicted at trial. So, obviously, what he`s getting what Mr. Gates is getting is a reduction, a potential reduction of his sentence if he fully cooperates and what is he giving to the government. What we reported in "The Los Angeles Times" is that Rick Gates has agreed to testify against his former partner Paul Manafort, and that would add what, you know, one of my sources described as a cherry on top of the government`s already formidable case against Paul Manafort.
So, obviously, it increases the pressure on Paul Manafort to be asking himself, do I really want to go to trial here or do I want to try and cut my own deal? And then the question is, what does he have to offer the prosecutors in exchange?
O`DONNELL: And, Mieke Eoyang, the only direction prosecutors generally are interested in is up, what can you offer that is above your rank. And in that campaign, the only thing above Paul Manafort rank was Donald Trump.
EOYANG: That`s right.
It would be to offer up connections between Donald Trump and potentially the Russians, these questions about what did he know about the hacking of John Podesta`s emails, which would be a violation of Computer Crimes, Fraud and Abuse Act, and also potentially if Manafort has any insight into Trump`s past dealings with Russians, with past oligarchs and some of these real estate deals because everyone else who might be of interest seem to have already gotten the plea agreements, and then the only other person that has been quite fraught if there were any information on this who was involved with the campaign is the Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who also had some dealings with the Russians that he did not report during his confirmation hearings.
O`DONNELL: And, David, there`s some reporting in "Politico" about some of the more fringe elements of Republican right wing saying that the president should be issuing pardons immediately and they`re the kind of people who you might normally ignore, but the fringe in Trump world becomes the center of the president`s thinking frequently. Might people like Paul Manafort be hanging on in the hope of pardons or is it even possible to consider the possibility that Rick Gates moving into the zone of a guilty plea might provoke the president toward pardoning?
WILLMAN: I think that`s obviously a very significant question and I`m left to wait to see what this president will or won`t do. I`ve long since abandon any hope of accurately predicting what he might do.
But I think, you know, going a little bit further on what Rick Gates might be able to bring to the body of knowledge about the totality of circumstances is that Gates and Manafort obviously were representing lobbying for the Ukraine government and a dominant political party in Ukraine and it`s then president who was very much aligned with Vladimir Putin. In fact, Gates directly in concert with Manafort hired two firms here in Washington D.C. to lobby on behalf of the Ukrainians and one of the things and this was a multi-million dollar lobbying operations, one of the policy items that was being lobbied was potential United States sanctions against Ukraine.
So, Rick Gates, certainly Paul Manafort, there`s no ingenues here when it comes to being aware of what`s going on in both Ukraine and Russia.
O`DONNELL: "The Los Angeles Times`" Dave Willman and Mieke Eoyang, thank you both for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it.
WILLMAN: Thank you.
EOYANG: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: What could Stormy Daniels have to do with the special prosecutors investigation? An IRS -- former IRS agent will join us and try to connect some dots there.
But first, we`ll be joined by two students in the -- from Parkland, Florida, who were in that high school when the bullets were being fired. They survived it and they now have some things to say to the politicians who they believe have not done enough to protect them including President Trump. They will be our next guests.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED PERSONS: Hey, hey, NRA, how many kids have you killed today? Hey, hey, NRA how many kids have you killed today?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: That was a student protest in Washington D.C. today in front of the Whitehouse, echoing the student protests in that exact spot exactly 50 years ago 1968 during the Vietnam War when their chant was hey, hey, LBJ how many kids did you kill today. The motto of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is be positive, be passionate and proud to be an eagle. The students` devotion to that motto has been tested in the most horrifying possible after Valentine`s Day when a shooter murdered 17 people at the school, 14 high school students and 3 teachers. Since then the Stoneman Douglas Eagles have become a passionate and tragically eloquent voice in our politics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think government officials should do more for students because they`re sitting up in the government but they`re not in our seats. They don`t know what it`s like going to school feeling unsafe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This fight is not going to be easy. This fight is not going be short. We`re going to have to continue for days, months and years and decades, because the people and the special interest that want to pass these gun laws make it easier for these people to get the guns are not going to stop and we cant either. We need get out and vote.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are people from both sides who are saying enough of these guns. This is about creating a badge of shame to put on anybody who is accepting money from the NRA, Republican, Democrat, Independent.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There had been one tweet that I would like to call attention to. So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled for bad and erratic behavior, neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must report those instances to authorities again and again. We did time and time again. Since he was in middle school. It was no surprise to anyone who knew him to hear that he was the shooter.
Those talking about how we should have ostracized him, you didn`t know this kid. OK. We did. We know that they`re claiming that there are mental health issues and I am not a psychologist, but we need to pay attention to the fact that this isn`t just a mental health issue. He wouldn`t have hurt that many students with a knife.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m a high school senior who three days ago was worried about which of my friends was going to receive flowers for Valentine`s Day, I was focused on what I was going to be wearing to prom one week ago. My main ceoncerned were my grades, college acceptance and my social life. Now I`m a high school senior who`s worried about which memorials I need place flowers at.
Now I`m focused on what clothes I can wear so that I can run away from gunfire. My main concerns are funerals, gun control and whether or not I`m going to be shot wherever I go. My innocence, our innocence has been taken from us. I am 17 but in a matter days I have aged decades.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re not going to let the 17 bullets we took take us down. If anything we`re going to keep running and we`re going to lead the rest of nation behind us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Before the press gets tired of seeing us on the news, before people just change the channel. This will not be forgotten. We will not be silenced. We are going to make a change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: In the words of Delaney Tarr that you just heard, please do not change the channel because after the break we will be joined by two students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED PERSONS: Shame on you. Shame on you. Enough is enough. Douglas strong. Douglas strong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: We`re joined now by Kevin Trejos a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and Adam Alhonta a junior at the high school. Guys thank you both very muchfor joining me tonight. I know how difficult this must be for both of you and the week you`re going through. And I may ask you some questions here but the most important thing to me is you get to say whatever you want to say to America with this forum that you have at this moment.
So, Kevin, with that in mind, what is it that at this stage of your experience and what you`ve been through you want people to know and you want people to be focusing on.
KEVIN TREJOS SR., MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: Look, we just want everyone to know that we need to have change in this country. We`re looking for bipartisan solutions to really make sure that school shootings like the one that just happened never happen to anyone else again. You know we had to experience it and it`s not fun. We don`t want anyone to have to deal with that ever again.
O`DONNELL: And Adam, what would you say to other high school students, other students out there in the country who are wondering about the possibility of this happening at their schools, who now go to school with this as an active fear? How should they deal with that?
ADAM ALHONTA JR., MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: I think that if students really believe and change and they don`t think they feel safe, they need to come out and they need to show their support. And they really need rally together as a school. And even as a community all across the nation to keep trying and really support us and back us for what we stand for because we really want different -- we really want to make a change. None of us want to go to school thinking we won`t come home that night.
O`DONNELL: Kevin, we`re hearing a lot, I saw a lot of the local coverage of what you`ve all been doing. And most of what we`re hearing, at least in the news media`s coverage of it including the Miami Herald is that you`ve - - you`re basically making a political case most of you in favor of more gun regulation, more gun control, banning assault weapons, limiting magazines for example, strengthening background checks, waiting periods. Kind of a list of things have been attempted at least on the democratic side in Washington but haven`t gotten anywhere in years. Is that reflective of most of the students? Have most of the students as far as you can tell shared this view that there is now a political agenda, a governing agenda that is necessary.
TREJOS: Well Lawrence, let me be clear. This isn`t about banning assault weapons. This isn`t about these kind of very partisan changes that are -- that you`re suggesting. We`re looking for change and the truth is, we need bipartisan solutions is not because the Democrats may want to ban assault weapons. They might want to do all these things that the right just doesn`t want.
And if -- to get meaningful change passed we can`t use those kind of partisan tactics because then nothing will happen. The right will look at us like we`re crazy leftists. That`s not what it`s about. It`s about making sure nobody gets hurt again.
O`DONNELL: Adam, what specifically would be the change you want to see?
ALHONTA: I want to see people -- I really just want to see our politicians listening. And I don`t really think they are. I think what they`re really talking about is the issues that don`t matter. Like this was a mental health issue. because really it was a gun control issue in the sense that if anybody looked at a piece of paper and saw that Nikolas Cruz was autistic and purchased an assault rifle, purchased -- just even got to hold a weapon like that is unfathomable.
And I think that this isn`t really a mental health issue, it`s more of a gun control issue. And people need to realize that people should not be getting these weapons and not even looked at for a second on who they are and what they want to use it for.
O`DONNELL: Kevin, the Whitehouse is saying that the President is going to meet on Wednesday, apparently in Washington, with some of the students from your high school. Do you know any students who have been invited to the Whitehouse?
TREJOS: Actually, as of now, I don`t know anyone. I know a lot of people are going Tallahassee on Tuesday and Wednesday. But the Washington I don`t know anything about right now.
O`DONNELL: Adam do you know anyone who`s been invited to the Whitehouse?
ALHONTA: No, I don`t know of anyone invited to the Whitehouse on Wednesday. But I do know here down in South Florida we are hosting a town hall meeting at the BB&T Center and I can assure you and the President we`re backing our statement that we are going to be here and at this rally and if he would like to come. He`s more than welcome.
O`DONNELL: Kevin, if you got a moment with the President, what would you want to tell him about this?
TREJOS: Look, Mr. president, you have to listen to us. We`ve been through it. You have to enact real change you know. I saw you on the campaign trail, maybe I didn`t vote you or my parents didn`t vote from you. But I saw on the campaign trail, you wouldn`t take money from the NRA.
That you were going to be independent. That you wouldn`t be beholden to the interest groups that you would care about the people and that`s what I`m looking for now. I`m looking for you to care about the American people, the victims in Parkland, the people of South Florida who are just struggling after this tragedy.
O`DONNELL: Adam, if you got time with the President, what would you say?
ALHONTA: If I got time with the President, Lawrence, I think I would really tell him that he needs to look back at what he said a couple months ago. He once told the American people that we would come first. And I think his personal beliefs are coming first. And I think he is coming first at the moment.
And it really doesn`t matter what he wants, because we are the American people and if we really truly were to come first in his perspective, then that`s what he would do. He would sit down and he would listen to us and he would stop with all of his trying to put this on mental health or trying to put this on even Russia and he would stop playing golf. And he would look us in the eye and tell us he`s going to make a difference.
O`DONNELL: Kevin and Adam, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I really appreciate you taking the time. I`m very, very sorry for your loss and what you`ve been through and what I know you and your families and the community are going to continue to go through. Thank you very much for being here, really appreciate it.
ALHONTA: thank you for having us.
TREJOS: thank you.
O`DONNELL: We`ll be right back
O`DONNELL: Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller might have a new name on his witness list. And there is right there. On the sign the President and the press pool motorcade drove by last night on the way to Trump International Golf club.
Of course, Robert Mueller would have to use Stormy Daniel`s real name when and if she subpoenas her. Today The New York Times ran a front page report on the man the times calls Trump`s fixer, the President`s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen. Michael Cohen recently admitted to personally paying Stormy Daniels whose real name is Stephanie Clifford $130,000 just weeks before the2016 election to in his words, to protect Donald Trump.
In his statement Michael Cohen said neither the Trump organization or the Trump campaigns was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford and neither reimbursed me for the payment either directly or indirectly. The payment to Ms. Clifford was lawful and was not a campaign contribution or campaign expenditure by anyone. Michael Cohen thought that put him in the clear legally.
Michael Cohen ended his statement with his loyalty pledge to Donald Trump. I will always protect Mr. Trump. In 2011 Stormy Daniels gave an extensive interview to In Touch Weekly which they not publish then but posted online last month. In that interview she describes her sexual relationship with Donald Trump who was then married to his third and current wife.
There has been much analysis including on this program about Michael Cohen $130,000 possibly being a violation of campaign law. But -- but it might also be a violation of tax law. And that could allow Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller to test just how much Michael Cohen is willing to protect Donald Trump. If Michael Cohen is facing jail time in a tax fraud case because of this $130,000, Donald Trump will have a lot to worry about.
Our next guest is a former IRS Agent who will guide us through the possible tax fraud case against Michael Cohen and possibly Donald Trump.
O`DONNELL: For tonight`s Last Word we`re joined now by Martin Shealer, a retired Branch Chief of the IRS Criminal Justice Division. And Martin I want to take a look at this $130,000 that Michael Cohen says he just out of goodness of his heart gave to Stormy Daniels. You see a possible tax fraud case in that. Outline that for us.
MARTIN SHEALER, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, two words, client conspiracy. You know when I heard first heard about this payment I wasn`t looking at it from an FEC point of view like campaign contribution. I was looking at as an experienced IRS agent. And my question was if this was a straightforward payment for hush money, why didn`t Michael Cohen just write out a check from his personal checking account and made it out to Stephanie Clifford, Stormy`s taxpayer name?
Instead he went through all these conniptions you know in terms of misleading and concealing the payment from the IRS and anyone else. And the way he did this was he sets up a Delaware shell company called Essential Consultants. He then processes payment through this shell company to a fake new, a pseudonym called Peggy Peterson, which was a name fabricated by Cohen as well as everyone else as part of the nondisclosure agreement, received a pseudonym, a fake name to further conceal this agreement and this payment.
So when I see -- so you have an agreement which is the first thing you need in a conspiracy, the nondisclosure agreement. And then you have the overt acts such as the setting up of the shell company, the fabrication of names and the final payment is through an attorney-client bank account made out to a Peggy Peterson, another fake name. So if I`m the IRS how would I know that Stephanie Clifford received this $130,000? And you know one of the final things I would suggest is did Michael Cohen set up -- get an FEIN number, a Federal Employment Identification Number when he setup the shell company?
And did he issue a 1099 to Stephanie Clifford and to the IRS reporting the full $130,000 or did he issue a 1099 in another name, Stormy Daniels, Peggy Peterson? And I`d throw out how about honey bunch since that`s the way she was referred to.
O`DONNELL: The 1099 is crucial because it has to be to a real name or its tax fraud. That real name has to have a real Social Security Number or its tax fraud. There`re so many tripwires around the 1099 for tax fraud. And if Donald Trump knew about this and Michael Cohen was talking to trump about pulling this off, wouldn`t Donald Trump be part off that conspiracy, the Special Prosecutor would be able to focus on that?
SHEALER: OK, a couple of things here. There was a recent New Yorker article with regard to a Karen Mcdougal, a playmate has was also a paramour of Mr. Trump back in 2006. And in her personal notes she put down no paper trail for him. I`ll leave it to the viewers as to him, who might that be. What we have is pattern here
O`DONNELL: Martin, I`m sorry. We`re going to have to leave it for the viewers tonight. I think you`re onto something really important about the question for Michael Cohen next time someone gets to ask him a question is did you fill out a 1099