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Trump pushes arming school personnel. TRANSCRIPT: 2/21/2018. The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell

Guests: Sean Simpson, Paula Reed, Harry Litman, Ned Price, Max Boot

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: February 21, 2018 Guest: Sean Simpson, Paula Reed, Harry Litman, Ned Price, Max Boot

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel. As I know you know, the president`s big idea in his meeting today with some of the survivors and some of the families of victims of school shootings was that teachers should have guns, we need more guns in the school, teachers should have them.

I`m going to be joined our first guest today, a teacher from Stoneman Douglas High School who was there when that shooting was going on, and a teacher from Columbine, they`ll talk about their experiences with one of those -- with assault weapons in their schools and what they might be able to do if they had guns.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": Well done, my friend. Thank you. Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thanks, Rachel.

Well, yesterday, when the White House press secretary was pressed by a FOX News reporter who repeatedly asked if president had any ideas of his own about to reduce gun violence and make American schools safer, the press secretary had no answer. And when the press secretary was asked yesterday if the president favors former House Speaker Newt Gingrich`s idea to have six or eight armed teachers in every school in America, to engage in gun battles with school shooters, the press secretary said she had no idea. She said she`s never discussed that with the president.

Well, now, we know the answer to that question.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It`s called concealed carry. It works where you have people adept at using firearms, which you have many. It would be teachers, and coaches -- if the coach had a firearm in his locker when he ran at this guy, that coach was very brave, saved a lot of lives I suspect. But if he had a firearm, he wouldn`t have had to run, he would have shot, and that would have been the end of it.


O`DONNELL: That would have been the end of it. That`s Donald Trump`s imagining of what might have been if one of the coaches at Marjory Stoneman Douglas had a gun last week, a handgun, when the bullets started flying. If he had a firearm, he wouldn`t have to run, he would have shot. And that would have been the end of it.

We don`t know which coach Donald Trump was talking about, because he obviously does not know the names of the three school personnel and the 14 students who were murdered last week. Those names were not on the short list of talking points that the president held in his hand during that meeting.

The president might be talking about Aaron Feis, who was an assistant football coach. He ran toward the sound of the gun fire. His wife and daughter will bury him tomorrow. Aaron Feis was 37 years old.

Or the president might have been talking about Christopher Hixon, the athletic director and wrestling coach. He was patrolling the school as a security guard when the shooting started. His funeral was today. Christopher Hixon leaves behind his wife and four children. Christopher Hixon was 49 years old.

Or the president could have been talking about 35-year-old Scott Beigel. He was geography teacher and track coach. He followed the school security protocol and stayed at his classroom protecting his students, and that`s where he was skilled. And several of his students said that Scott Beigel personally saved their lives.

If he only had a gun -- that`s what the president thinks. If one of those coaches had a gun, the president believes he would have fired that gun and that would have been the end of it. That`s the way this fantasy war game plays out for everyone who thinks it`s a good idea to give school teachers an extra job, an extra job that no one has suggested they`d be paid for. The job of police officers.

The people who suggest that all ignore there was a police officer at the school and it`s a very big high school with multiple buildings, over 3,000 students, and a police officer assigned to the school every day. And that police officer did his best. But it didn`t turn out to be as easy as Donald Trump imagined. The police officer has to find the shooter. The police officer`s hearing has to be perfect, has to tell him exactly where the bullets are coming from, he can`t be faked out by echoes of firearm blast.

He has to instantly know exactly where the shots are coming from. He has to go right to that spot where the shots are coming from and then stand there and aim his handgun at the shooter with the assault weapon. And then just kill the shooter.

In Donald Trump`s world, to do that, the teacher, the police officer with the gun, has to be very, very lucky. The shooter would have to allow him to do it. The shooter would have to decide not to fire his assault weapon at the teacher with the gun or the teacher would have to be lucky enough to come up behind the shooter with the assault weapon and the teacher would have to be lucky enough that there`s absolutely no one else in their space, that the shooter and the teacher are alone in a hallway or classroom, so that when the teacher fires his handgun, the only possible person hit is the shooter.

There can`t be dozens of students huddled on the floor behind the shooter, or dozens of students or teachers running away from the shooter because all of them could be hit by the teacher`s bullets. Simple minds always imagine the ideal scenario for their imagined hero to take down a suicidal shooter with an assault weapon and high capacity magazines moving through hallways in a school.

Of course, Donald Trump isn`t naive enough to think that any teacher could handle this job of being the secret campus cop who always has the concealed handgun ready to go against the assault weapon.


TRUMP: This would be for people adept at handling a gun, and it would be - - it`s called concealed carry, where a teacher would have had a concealed gun on them, they`d go for special training.


O`DONNELL: So, teacher training would not be enough for these teachers. They would have to go for special firearms training. Donald Trump and Republicans in government would be unwilling to pay for that training.

President Trump`s own budget cuts money for school security. Republicans cut the overall funding of the United States government by a trillion and a half dollars with their tax cuts. They didn`t leave any money for training teachers to use firearms in shootouts with mass murderers who have assault weapons.

And that is a very complex form of firearms training. That is not going to a firearms range and aiming at the classic hanging stationary target. That is more specialized than the firearms training that most police officers in America actually get.

Now, let`s just assume that the teacher with a gun gets exactly the same amount of training as the police officer with the gun, and let`s remember, that`s taking time away from the rest of that teacher`s duties as a teacher to do that firearms training.

But let`s just assume that happens, that we train teachers with firearms just as much as we train police officers. Here`s something Donald Trump doesn`t know, most bullets fired by trained police officers miss their targets most of the time. And they miss their targets by wide margins, for many reasons but mostly because the target isn`t cooperating with being shot. The target isn`t stationary, the target is moving.

And there`s no form of training that duplicates the human experience of going up against a real assault weapon that has already blown off the faces and the arms and the legs of children who are alive just minutes ago. There is no form of training that duplicates the emotional, psychological experience that a teacher would go through when going against an assault weapon that has already killed his students and is now aimed at the teacher, who is armed with a handgun.

Teachers are not going to be more accurate in their used of handguns than trained police officers are. Teachers would miss the target probably more often than police officers do. Teachers would miss their target most of the time, just like police officers.

And what would teachers hit? Donald Trump would put teachers in the position of firing a handgun under unimaginable pressure and possibly killing one on or more of their own students in the process by mistake. And then would come the aftermath that the police departments are familiar with, wrongful death lawsuits. State and local governments pay out hundreds of millions of dollars a year as compensation for bad shootings by trained police officers.

Hundreds of millions of dollars, the federal government doesn`t cover one penny of that. Donald Trump`s government is not going to cover one penny of any settlement involving a teacher mistakenly, tragically, shooting a student, wounding a student or killing a student or several students. Teachers will not be able to buy insurance policies that protect them from those risks, no insurance company would take that business.

Donald Trump doesn`t know who teachers are. He doesn`t know what they actually do. He`s never been a teacher, not related to a teacher. It`s not the type of work his kids would ever be drawn to. By all reports, he paid no attention at all to his own kids` education.

Donald Trump does not know that 76 percent of American schoolteachers are female, 76 percent. Some schools have 100 percent female teaching staff. Donald Trump imagines that every school has big strong coaches like Aaron Feis and Christopher Hixon, Scott Beigel. And they`re all eager to conceal a hand begun so they can take on the next school shooter with an AR-15.

Here`s how Donald Trump thinks teachers should go to work together carrying a handgun.


TRUMP: So, let`s say you have 20 percent of your teaching force, because that`s pretty the number.


O`DONNELL: OK, 20 percent, that`s 700,000 teachers in America who need to go to school tomorrow with a concealed handgun because according to Donald Trump, all they have to do is shoot the guy, because it`s always a guy with the assault weapon, and that would be the end of it.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has about 140 teachers, coachers, administrators, so that means 28 of them would have to show up to work every day carrying their concealed handguns. Twenty-eight of them would have to be ready to run toward the sound of the assault weapon and, of course, each one of those 28 teachers with their handguns would have to always know the exact movements of the other 27 teachers with their handguns so that they don`t fire in such a way that they could shoot each other. They would have to know where each of those 28 handguns are every second so that students don`t get caught in the crossfire of those 28 handguns that Donald Trump imagines could have been fired at that shooter last week.

Usually when police officers respond to shooting incidents like that, they don`t immediately run into the building and run toward the sound of the assault weapon. They coordinate, they have radio communication, they try not to make a move without knowing what every other armed police officer is doing, without knowing where every other police officer is. They wear body armor and even when covered in body armor, sometimes they don`t immediately confront the shooter.

And you`re not going to want to be the teacher in the school running around the school with a handgun when the SWAT team enters that school looking for the mass murder. There`s a real risk that the teachers with the handgun would be shot by the SWAT team who don`t know that those teachers are the good guys.

The president obviously doesn`t know what he`s talking about. He didn`t meet with some survivors and parents and victims of school shootings today to find a solution to America`s mass murder epidemic. He went in to that room in the White House with simplistic talking points written for him by White House staff and he echoed those talking points.

The idea of teachers carrying guns is another smokescreen by another politician who wants to make sure that American mass murderers can continue to very easily obtain assault weapons and super sized magazines and unlimited amounts of ammunition. Donald Trump wants to use the idea of teachers with guns as a solution, a real solution to the problem of school shooters so that there would be no need to ban assault weapons now that teachers have guns.

The president didn`t say one word about assault weapons today, and that is the issue for most of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas students who have been stepping up to microphones, including Sam Zeif, who was at the meeting with the president today.


SAM ZEIF, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR: I don`t understand why I can still go in a store and buy a weapon of war, an AR. I was reading today that a person 20 years old walked into a store and bought an AR-15 in 5 minutes with an expired ID. How is it that easy to buy this type of weapon? How do we not stop this after Columbine, after Sandy Hook? I`m sitting with a mother who lost her son. It`s still happening.

In Australia, there was a shooting at a school in 1999. You know after that, they took a lot of ideas, they put legislation together, and they stopped it. Can anyone here guess how many shootings there have been in the schools since then in Australia? Zero. We need to do something. That`s why we`re here.


O`DDONNELL: Fox News doesn`t cover what happened in Australia, so that`s probably the very first time that Donald Trump heard that. Even some people who own AR-15s have changed their minds this week about those weapons. There are YouTube videos now of owners of AR-15s, destroying them, cutting them in half and saying proudly now we have one less a AR-15. That`s what the massacre in Florida did to them to change their minds.

But not one Republican has changed their position on assault weapons. Not one position who takes money from the NRA, like Florida Senator Marco Rubio has changed his or her opinion on assault weapons. Mike Pence and Donald Trump sitting in that room with survivors and families of victims have not changed their position on assault weapons.

And the only idea that Donald Trump offered today was what to do when that assault weapon shows up at your school, as it inevitably will, as long as Donald Trump and the NRA get their way and assault weapons continue to be so easy to get that most of our mass murderers walk into a store, by them legally, and then fill up their magazines and start ripping apart the bodies and faces of our children in our schools.

Donald Trump`s idea is to absolutely do nothing, to keep the assault weapon out of the school, to keep the assault weapon out of the hands of a mass murderer who can pass a background check, which, of course, is most of them. His solution is to put a much weaker and inaccurate handgun into the hands of the teacher who he thinks can stand there and shoot the mass murderer and that will be the end of it.

Donald Trump and every other politician who take money from the NRA is going to make sure that the mass murderers who enter our schools will still be the best equipped mass murderers in the world. They will still be able to get assault weapons, super-sized magazines and unlimited amounts of ammunitions. Weapons of war will continue to come into our schools because Donald Trump and Republican politicians refuse to restore the assault weapons ban that for 10 years in this country actually did reduce mass shootings in America.

Two teachers who have endured these attacks will join us next. One from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, and one from Columbine High School.



ZEIF: In Maryland, they have proven that the Second Amendment does not protect these types of weapons. They have banned over 45 different kinds of assault weapons, including the AR. The Second Amendment, I believe, was for defense and I fully respect that, like I said. But these -- these are not weapons of defense. These are weapons of war.


O`DONNELL: That was Sam Zeif, student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School today at the White House.

Joining us now, Sean Simpson, a science teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, and Paula Reed, a teacher at Columbine High School. She`s been a teacher there since 1996.

Sean Simpson, I want to start with you. Feel free, I mean this to both of you, to share with us any thoughts you have about this. I don`t mean to control what you have to say about this, but we are interested in your reaction to the president`s idea of arming teachers, that that`s the solution, that`s how to deal with assault weapons coming into the schools.

Senator Rubio, Florida Republican senator, has opposed that. It has not been greeted with any real support since the president said it so it doesn`t sound like it`s going anywhere.

But, Sean Simpson, your reaction to that, especially since he cited the coach, not sure which coach since three were killed at your school who were killed in this massacre. The president believes if one of those coaches had a gun, it would have ended right there.

SEAN SIMPSON, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL SCIENCE TEACHER: Larry, I don`t know if that`s even possible, to be true. I know Aaron and Christopher and Mr. Beigel, you know, were heroes in what they did. I`m not sure having a firearm would have changed that for those three.

I have colleagues that do believe that having the option of being armed should be, you know, an option. That being said, you were right when I heard you say in your opening monologue, I guess it would be, that Officer Peterson was there, he got there quickly, and facing an assault weapon with his bullet proof vest and his gun he didn`t really stand a chance.

I`ve seen people on the Internet go after him saying he should have done more. I don`t know what those people are thinking, going up against a semiautomatic rifle and a young man that I believe let off about 150 rounds. I`m not sure what he could have done more than he did.


O`DONNELL: Go ahead.

SIMPSON: Could somebody else --

REED: We also had an armed SRO, and, yes, the same thing.

O`DONNELL: So, Paul Reed, at Columbine, there was an armed officer in the school when this was going on?

REED: He was on the outside of the building. He was out at lunch, but he was generally part of -- he was a school resource officer, he was there every day. He exchanged fire with Eric outside the school.

O`DONNELL: And, Mr. Simpson, your -- the students who have been stepping up to the microphone from your school are in favor of banning assault weapons, of going back at a minimum the assault weapons ban that we had had for 10 years, that did reduce this kind of shooting. The -- but the Florida legislature certainly wasn`t listening to them this week.

What do you expect your students` reaction to be given that they had a setback on it this week? What do you expect to be their continued pursuit of that?

SIMPSON: Well, our students are intelligent. I mean, you can tell that. You`ve listened to them. They -- I don`t believe they expected a win right out of the gate. But that MSD Strong, that never again that they are saying, they believe that. They believe that wholeheartedly.

And I know that they`re not going to give up. I know that these kids will be the champions of this issue. They`re not going to give up. They have the drive, they have the intelligence, and they have the will to get this changed.

You know, the first step is going to be addressing the weapons. Yes, we have mental health issues that have to be dealt with, I`ll give you that, that`s fine. But the fact that the weapon is so easy to come about that anybody can get their hands on it, that`s the main problem. Why does somebody need a weapon that has a 30-round magazine? Why do you have to have a weapon that can -- that`s only designed to kill?

I mean, that round is not really designed for hunting. It`s designed to kill. It`s designed to enter the body, tumble and rip you apart. That`s what it`s designed to do.

And, you know, that`s not a weapon that`s used for hunting deer. And if you need 30 rounds to shoot a deer, you should find another hobby because, you know, that`s -- you`re not good, you know? There are hobbies I would love to try that I can`t do.

REED: I think the other thing, you know, as you were talking about Trump`s solution to this and arming students, I think the other thing --

SIMPSON: Teachers.

REED: And, Sean, you probably notice this, we teach high school kids, right? When it comes to brain development, students are impulsive. You can talk about concealed carry, but I don`t wear the kind of clothing to work that really is good for concealing a gun. So, a kid is going to know that I have one.

If I take an angry 17-year-old who was not armed and give him access to a weapon by overpowering me if I`m not expecting it, then we just created a situation that didn`t have to be there. So I look at that as a potential way to arm students who wouldn`t have been.

O`DONNELL: Paula Reed, given your experience with what many of us remember as the first in what has become the series of these, Columbine, if you were at the White House today with your decades of having decades ago experienced this and watching the rest of these and thinking about it, what would you have told the president today?

REED: I would have told him to spend some time in a public high school and to see what our day-to-day lives are like. And what a school day is like.

And all the myriad different ways that things can go wrong but that we generally handle things. I think it`s appalling -- and you know I know a lot of people think of us as the first. We were not the first. And we remember, acutely, Jones Borrow, and West Paducah, and Springfield, Oregon, and the people that came before us.

So, this has been going on a lot longer and the absolute unwillingness to do anything. It`s so sad because I went and spoke with teachers from Sandy Hook six weeks after their shootings and the people said, well, this is going to make a difference, though, isn`t it? I said, no, it`s not.

The NRA is going to win and there`s nothing is going to happen because of this. And people thought I was jaded. Oh, they said, it`s babies. It`ll make a difference that it`s little babies.

I think --

SIMPSON: No, they didn`t have a voice. That`s the problem.

REED: I think the kids that are speaking now are going to make a difference. I think when people start hearing kids in their own voices demanded change and talking about what happened to them, I think this is going to be really powerful. And I don`t think that our kids, in `99, I don`t think it even occurred to them that they had that kind of power. I`m just -- I`m in awe of those kids in Florida. Good on them, you know.

O`DONNELL: Sean Simpson, go ahead.

SIMPSON: I think the fact that your children were smaller made a difference. I think the fact our kids are old enough to articulate their opinions. They`re right at voting age. A lot of kids are going to be voting in this election or the very soon thereafter.

Their voice is going to be heard. And the people who are not listening -- those 70 -- I believe it was 70 Florida representatives that voted not to even listen, I think they should be worried. I think they should be really worried because these kids are going to move the bar.

I think these kids, and some parents because I know some people who were staunch Republicans who were friends of mine, we`ve had this discussion, and they`re saying -- well, we probably don`t need this weapon. There`s no reason for it. I can hunt with a bolt action rifle that I have to actually, you know, manipulate or I can hunt with something else.

And there are other ones, other people like, no, I want my assault weapon. And you ask why, and they`re just -- because I can, it`s the second amendment. And then you ask them because I`ve asked this, I said you know when I read this thing because I`m not from this country.

And so I had to look back at the stuff when I wanted to have a decent argument and I said what part of a well regulated militia are you? And could not answer that. We have to defend ourselves against a tyrannical government.

One platoon of an army, navy marines could take out an entire city of people with an AR-15 without a hassle so that`s nonsense. You know they just want their guns to say they have them. And that`s just sad that we can`t move past their big boy toys that they want. And I want it. I want it.

PAULA REED, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Some of it is that. I mean I will say, I know some of my students who were at Columbine during the shootings are very, very pro-gun. And they`re coming from the point of view of they were trapped, unarmed against an armed intruder. But --

SIMPSON: But it`s a high school. You`re not going to have a weapon in a high school.

REED: Right.

SIMPSON: Though the fact we`re talking about arming teachers is one thing. And I understand you`re not comfortable carrying. I have a friend that was in that hallway. He got grazed by a bullet saving kids. As a matter of fact, he found shrapnel, he found a piece of shrapnel in his hip the day after he didn`t tell anybody. He took it out, cleaned it up and went around his business.

That man saved lives. And he feels if he had a weapon he could have ended it while the gentleman was reloading. That`s possible. No teacher I`ve spoken to is saying hey we can go out and actively hunt this shooter. I think more of what they`re thinking is if they`re in this room and this gentleman enters, they at least have something to defend themselves in the classroom. They`re not actively going out to look

REED: Right, have colleagues who feel the same way.

SIMPSON: And I know that not everybody wants to be armed and you know but some do. And you have to -- after going through it, I can understand why. I was probably 3 or 400 feet away. I heard the shots when I was evacuating and saw the look on my children`s faces running towards me saying they`re shooting at us. You know I would not have run towards that semiautomatic gun fire with a weapon. But I definitely, if I was stuck in my room could defend that entrance to somebody coming through.

REED: Right.

SIMPSON: You know so I understand. I understand that some will not want to. I understand some will. it`s -- it`s a hard issue --

REED: do you ever worry that --

SIMPSON: But the big issue is to get rid of them.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Let me just -- Sean Simpson, before we go, what do you plan to tell your students when they come back to school?

SIMPSON: Honestly, I don`t know. I have colleagues that are not ready to go back. I have colleagues that are not ready to go back. We`re supposed to report on Friday. I have colleagues that are not ready to go back.

I have students that I`ve seen that are not ready to go back. But we`re going back on Friday and we`ll see how that goes. I don`t know what I`ll say to them. Some have been writing to them on Facebook, Instagram saying hi, how are you doing, I`m glad you made it. I was thinking about you. And it`s nice. It`s touching.

I have kids that have reached out from 2004 that have, you know, said they`re thinking about me. Kids I didn`t know still liked me. One said he obviously didn`t but now he`s still praying for me. So that was nice.

You know, but I don`t know what to tell them. I honestly don`t. I`m going to be there. I had the same fear that they did running through those hallways and trying to escape out of the back fence. We shared a terrifying experience together and hopefully being together, talking about it. I won`t be teaching chemistry. I won`t be teaching environmental science when they go back, that`s for sure. That`s not going to happen for a while --

REED: Sean?

SIMPSON: But I can have a conversation.

REED: I private messaged you on facebook. I`ve done that first day back. So if you want to talk before you do it, I`m here.


O`DONNELL: We`re going to have to leave it there, Sean Simpson and Paula Reed. Thank you both for joining us. I`m very, very sorry for what you both --

REED: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: ... had to go through in a job that should be one of the most peaceful jobs that you could possibly pursue. Thank you very much for joining us, really appreciate it.

SIMPSON: Thank you for your time.

O`DONNELL: Thank you. Coming up tonight we have major developments in the Special Prosecutor Investigation and why one former Trump associate is now very, very worried about Trump Attorney Michael Cohen


O`DONNELL: There are new developments tonight in Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller`s Investigation. NBC News reports Federal Investigators are probing whether former Trump Campaign Chair Paul Manafort promised a Chicago banker a job in the Trump Whitehouse in return for $16 million in home loans. Two people with direct knowledge of the matter told NBC News. Today a new charging document was added to the case of Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates in Federal Court.

The charging document is sealed so it`s not known if it`s a new charge, new charges or a superseding indictment. NBC News is reporting tonight that former Trump Political Adviser Sam Nunberg is scheduled to meet with a member of the special Prosecutor`s team in Washington tomorrow according to a source familiar with the planned meeting. Now here`s what Sam Nunberg told Ari Melber last night about Trump`s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.


SAM NUNBERG, FMR. TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: I worry about Michael. I`m not going to say Michael is going to lie. I worry about Michael. Michael Cohen got screwed out, got screwed the most I ever saw by anyone, by Donald Trump. And what I worry about is what Michael is going to say when he`s called in by somebody like Andrew Weissmann about the payouts.



O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Harry Litman former Federal Prosecutor and Deputy assistant Attorney General under President Clinton. He`s now a professor at the University of California, San Diego. And the last thing that Sam Nunberg was saying there that got squashed a little bit was he was worried about what Michael Cohen is going to say when he`s called in by somebody like Andrew Weissman about the payouts. And that sounds like he`s talking about the Stormy Daniels payout to not say anything about her sexual relationship with Donald Trump and possibly other payouts. And there`s been speculation that Robert Mueller would be interested in that. What`s your reading of that?

HARRY LITMAN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yeah, I mean why wouldn`t he be. And there does seem to be a series of them. You know Sam Nunberg is kind of a charming rogue here and he`s on record as saying basically it`s a den of thieves, everybody lies about everything. But Cohen obviously everything he has said about Stormy Daniels and others has had a fishy smell to high heaven.

And he`s going to be very hard pressed. you know, Mueller just remember indicted a lawyer, Alex Van Der Zwaan for lying and serving notice that lawyers like Cohen, like Don McGahn may well be in trouble if they lie to him. But Cohen seems to have been the bag man for these sorts of things for many years and he`s got a lot to tell if he chooses to.

O`DONNELL: I can imagine how much fun it is in the special prosecutor office`s to see Sam Nunberg on TV yesterday saying something like that and now they get to question him about something like that. Harry Litman thank you for joining us.

LITMAN: Thank you Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, John Kelly and Jared Kushner on the security clearance problem in the Whitehouse. There`s a Friday deadline on this problem.


O`DONNELL: At the end of last week Whitehouse Chief of Staff John Kelly issued a memo about security clearances that has a deadline in it, an actually deadline. The deadline is Friday. The memo issued last Friday says effective one week from today, discontinue any top secret of sci-level interim clearances for individuals whose investigations or adjudications have been pending since June 1, 2017 or before. Jared Kushner`s has been pending since before.

Actually, since the first day of the trump administration and so, some are interpreting this memo to be aimed at Jared Kushner`s security clearance. Vanity Fair`s Gab Sherman reports tonight that Republican close to the Whitehouse tells him this is Kelly`s way of saying it`s me or Jared Kushner. A friend of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump tells Vanity Fair Jared is fighting back and Ivanka is fighting for her life.

According to the friend Kushner has described Kelly as worse than Priebus. Kushner has even spoken with Rupert Murdoch and asked him to lobby the President on his behalf. That comes after the New York Times reported Jared Kushner is resisting giving up his access to highly classified information prompting an internal struggle with John Kelly over who should be allowed to see some of the nations most sensitive secrets. Up next, Max Boot and Ned Price on John Kelly`s security clearance problems with Jared Kushner.


O`DONNELL: The question now is, 48 hours from now, will Jared Kushner still have a security clearance? Joining us now, Ned Price, former Senior Director and Spokesperson for the National Security Council and former CIA analyst. He`s also an MSNBC National Security Analyst. And joining us is Max Boot, Senior Fellow at the National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of the road not taken. Ned Price, your reading of this security clearance situation since you`ve gone through all of this?

NED PRICE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well Lawrence I actually see three possibilities here in the clash, coming clash between Jared Kushner and the Chief of Staff. Number one, it`s certainly possible that Sarah Huckabee Sanders is lying when she has said repeatedly the past couple of days that Jared`s functions and core duties will not change after Friday. And that he, in fact, will no longer perform some of the foreign policy functions in his portfolio.

The second possibility is John Kelly`s memo was never intended to apply to Jared in the first place and that john Kelly has been making a farce of this memo all along. But the third I think is perhaps the most likely. And it`s that the Whitehouse would go above and beyond its usual level of disingenuousness and take advantage of an apparent loophole in the Kelly memo.

The Kelly memo says that anyone who`s investigation or security clearance adjudication has not begun, had not you know by June 1st, would lose his or her clearance. You have to remember it took Jared four tries to submit his paperwork with the last submission taking place in June after that June 1st deadline. One reading of Kelly`s decree is that Jared`s -- neither his Investigation nor certainly his adjudication began before that June 1st deadline. You can certainly imagine that Whitehouse taking advantage of the loophole.

O`DONNELL: Oh yes, Max Boot, Ned Price for me has unlocked the mystery, that`s what it sounds like to me because it`s hard -- one thing hard to believe this week is that John Kelly has the authority and the power to control anything about Jared Kushner after a couple of weeks of humiliation of John Kelly.

MAX BOOT, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: That`s true. And I mean it`s hard in any case when you`re dealing with the President`s son-in-law. I mean this is why nepotism is not a good idea, because Kushner cannot be held to the same standards as others. And so this would be an interesting indication of what the relatively power levels are. But I`m with you, it seems doubtful that Kelly can trump Kushner, so to speak, in any situation, much less now.

O`DONNELL: And Ned, when we read these quotes from unnamed sources, Vanity Fair, New York times, about this power struggle and Ivanka`s worried and Jared`s worried and Kelly`s playing tough and all of that. We never quite know -- these sources always have agendas. And so it`s very hard for us to figure out just how significant that kind of talk is. ... PRICE: Well it really is. And I think we have to remember that both Ivanka and Jared are very savvy and the people around them are very savvy. So when you read Lawrence that people close to Ivanka and Jared are people familiar with their thinking, you know that`s coming directly from Ivanka and Jared. I don`t think John Kelly really benefits from that same media infrastructure and architecture around him. So it seems to me that Ivanka and Jared are running laps around John Kelly in the press.

O`DONNELL: And Tuesday night, John Kelly put out a statement. it seemed specifically to end this speculation. and that written statement he said, as I told Jared days ago, I have full confidence in his ability to continue performing his duties in his foreign policy portfolio, including overseeing our Israeli/Palestinian peace effort, serving as an integral part of our relationship with Mexico. And Max he could put out that statement as long as -- certainly as long as he was relying on loophole Ned Price as identified in the other Kelly memo about these clearances.

BOOT: Yes. I mean I have to laugh about the idea of Jared Kushner being an integral part of some foreign policy team with his complete lack of knowledge or background in any relevant foreign policy areas. But yes, that interpretation makes sense. I mean the question I have is, and I haven`t seen a good answer to this, is what is the holdup? Why is it the President`s son-in-law cannot get a security clearance?

A process that normally takes a few months and there would be intense pressure to clear him but he`s not getting cleared. So what is the issue? And I`m wondering is there any connection with the fact that CNN just reported a few days ago Special Counsel Mueller`s investigating Kushner not only for his connections with the Russians but also with Chinese investors as well as the Russian banker he met during the transition of course in his mad scramble to get financing for 666 fifth avenue, his underwater building in New York City.

I mean it has to be something pretty darn significant to hold up the President`s son-in-law for a year, right? And remember also, the other mystery here is Trump could actually decide just to grant him a clearance tomorrow, a permanent clearance. He hasn`t done that.

Why isn`t he doing that? Is he worried there will be some kind of damaging leak? Is he worried some security officials will quit? There`s so much we don`t know here.

O`DONNELL: Yes. We`re going to have to end it there, Max Boot and Ned Price. And Ned, thank you. I think you did for me unlock the mystery of the memo. I think you found the loophole. Thank you both for joining us, really appreciate it.

PRICE: Thanks.

O`DONNELL: We`ll be right back.



SAM ZEIF, STUDENT, Stoneman Douglas High School: These are not weapons of defense, these are weapons of war.


O`DONNELL: That`s Sam Zeif, senior at Stoneman Douglas high school and he will join Brian Williams for an interview next. The 11th hour with Brian Williams" starts now.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, 11TH HOUR ANCHOR: Tonight, survivors of school gun violence and victims, family`s members, sit down with the President in a session that got heated at times. One of them, a student at that Florida high school, standing by to talk with us.

Plus from Tallahassee to Washington, students take to the streets and the Capitol, demanding action. And again the question, is in the generation that`s going to force a change this policy in a ghoulish pattern of mass shootings? And on the Russian front new reporting on the Mueller investigation what might be new trouble for Paul Manafort. The 11th Hour on a Wednesday night begins now.


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