Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: February 22, 2018 Guest: Ron Klain, Paul Fishman, David Cay Johnston
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
And congratulations on telling a really -- that is a complex story, this thing that happened to that governor. I actually thought about trying to tell the story and I gave up because there`s extra chapters to it about how we found out about all this stuff involving the woman`s ex-husband, and I couldn`t even figure out how to begin to tell it. And that`s why we need two hours of these shows, so that you can do the things I can`t get to. Brian`s going to do some things after me that I can`t get to.
But we do have the 32 indictments tonight and we`re both covering that. And Rachel as you know, the IRS is always very proud to tell the story about how they never managed to get Al Capone for murder but they got him on tax evasion. And that`s what`s in these indictments.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, TRMS: And we have been waiting since October for the tax evasion charges, for tax fraud against Manafort and Gates, not because we thought they might be tax frauds but because the case against them on taxes was spelled out in the first indictment in October, it just didn`t come with any tax charges. Well, now, we`ve got the tax charges.
O`DONNELL: Yes. I mean, how could there not be tax evasion in a big money laundering case. That`s the one thing federal prosecutors know how to do. I mean, that is their strike zone, tax evasion cases. I`ve been in federal courtrooms watching tax evasion cases. It is very hard to squeeze out of one of those as a defendant.
MADDOW: Well done, my friend. Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
O`DONNELL: Well, as of now special prosecutor Robert Mueller has charged 19 people with crimes, including 13 Russians who don`t live here. And of the five Americans who have been charged, only two of them have not pleaded guilty. And today, those two who have not pled guilty found themselves loaded up with more charges, 32 to be exact.
The status report on the case today was signed by Andrew Weissmann, and here`s what Steve Bannon said about Weissmann in Michael Wolff`s "Fire and Fury." You`ve got the LeBron James of money laundering investigations on you. Everybody in that White House was worried about Weissmann.
The special prosecutor unsealed 32 new charges against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his aide Rick Gates. There are 16 counts related to falsifying individual income tax returns, seven counts of failing to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts, five counts of bank fraud conspiracy and four counts of bank fraud.
The new indictment claims that Paul Manafort and Rick Gates concealed years of work for lobbying work for Ukraine. They laundered millions of dollars in proceeds and misled investigators about their foreign work. Quote, in total more than $75 million flowing through the offshore accounts, Manafort with the assistance of Gates, laundered more than $30 million, income that he concealed from the United States Department of the Treasury, the Department of Justice and others.
Some of the charges which include fraudulently obtaining banks loans and lying on income tax returns allegedly occurred as Paul Manafort became chairman of the Trump campaign. These latest charges came less than a week after Mueller indicted those 13 Russians and three Russian companies for interfering in the presidential election and only two days after a Dutch lawyer pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about some of his interactions with Rick Gates.
"The New York Times" reports that Robert Mueller could be trying to use these charges as leverage to get closer to the White House. Mr. Manafort`s friends have said that Mr. Mueller`s indictment is an effort to pressure him into providing information about Mr. Trump and his campaign. If so, Thursday`s indictment adds to that pressure.
A spokesman for Paul Manafort has released this statement tonight. Paul Manafort is innocent of the allegations set out in the newly filed indictments and he is confident that he will be acquitted of all charges. The new allegations against Mr. Manafort once again have nothing to do with Russia and the 2016 election, interference, collusion. Mr. Manafort is confident that he will be acquitted and violations of his constitutional rights will be remedied.
Ominously for Paul Manafort and others facing possible charges, Rick Gates released no statement about the new charges filed against him. Nothing about Rick Gates being innocent, nothing about Rick Gates being confident that he will be found not guilty of all of these charges.
Joining us now, Ron Klain, former chief of staff to Vice Presidents Joe Biden and Al Gore, and former senior aide to President Obama. He`s also former chief counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Also with us, Paul Fishman, a former U.S. attorney for New Jersey. And David Cay Johnston is with us. He`s a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who founded DCReport.org. He`s the author of "It`s Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration is Doing to America", a bestseller now.
Paul Fishman, I want to go to you as the experience federal prosecutor here. What do you make of these additional 32?
PAUL FISHMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, when the original indictment was returned in October, it was apparent to anybody who read it the tax charges were forthcoming.
The indictment described a whole series of money laundering transactions that were designed ultimately to get income to Paul Manafort and maybe to Gates. And the tax approval process in the Department of Justice takes a little while longer. It`s a more tightly controlled process. So, it wasn`t a surprise it came. Nor was the magnitude of those.
The magnitude of the bank fraud charges was stunning, because what`s clear is for a year and a half, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates engaged in fraud after fraud on bank after bank. And what`s really surprising I think about this, is even more than the first indictment, the extent to which Rick Gates went out of his way to help Paul Manafort defraud these banks. His role is described quite particularly in this these indictments.
O`DONNELL: So, I know that the maximum penalty for tax evasion is five years. Anyone who has sat in a tax evasion trial knows that. They can stack those five-year sentences if they get multiple convictions for multiple examples of separate years of tax evasion.
What about the penalties on the money laundering and other charges. It seems like for Manafort who`s 68 years old, you can stack up a set of sentences that are life sentence here.
FISHMAN: Yes. Well, first of all, the penalties for bank fraud and for money laundering way stiffer than for tax evasion. So, you`re looking at a much bigger --
FISHMAN: But ultimately the way it works in federal court as I`m sure you and lots of folks who are watching the show know that there`s a sentencing guideline regime out there that basically gives a range for what somebody does. But the range for Paul Manafort is going to be pretty high, probably in the double digits for sure. And for a guy his age, that`s a pretty long prison sentence, it`s a pretty long prison sentence for anybody.
O`DONNELL: Ron Klain, your reaction to this news, this round of indictments?
RON KLAIN, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Well, I think it`s very significant, Lawrence, because I think it begins to pierce the idea that the Manafort and Gates thing have nothing to do with the Russia problem, because what`s playing in this indictment is Manafort and Gates were deep in hawk to Putin`s ally in Ukraine. They were in a desperate financial situation. And in the middle of a desperate financial situation, Paul Manafort decides to take a volunteer job as head of the Trump campaign.
And so, the question is who suggested that a person who is so desperate, they were defrauding banks, should become a volunteer in the campaign, what was all this about? I think we`re closer and closer to learning that the top two team members in Trump Tower were on Putin`s puppet`s payroll. And I think that is a very significant development as this whole thing unfolds.
O`DONNELL: David Cay Johnston, you have been studying the financial shenanigans of Donald Trump and people around him for many, many years, what do you see in this round of indictments?
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, DCREPORT.ORG: Boy, I`m glad I`m not the lawyer for either one of these guys. The draftsmanship that went into this indictment is remarkable. It is as clear reading as possible. I`ve watched federal tax prosecutors blow cases because they made them so difficult to understand, the jury couldn`t get it, this is laid out in the most brilliant, simple fashion. And a great deal of it involves Cyprus. And that means Russians are involved in this even though they`re not named.
They`ve also got things that are very revealing about all the people we`re never going to hear about in public, or not until there are trials. They`ve got a bookkeeper. They got an accountant. They have unnamed another person where there are e-mails, there are memos, please doctor these documents.
How do you defend against something like that when all they have to do is prove that they filed the false tax returns and they can trace all the money?
O`DONNELL: Paul Fishman, Steve Bannon calls Andrew Weissmann who signed one of the documents in court today, the LeBron James of money laundering investigations, is that a fair description of the legal team that Paul Manafort is up against?
FISHMAN: Weissmann is not that tall, but it`s entirely correct that Bob Mueller has assembled a team of very experienced, very talented, very dogged prosecutors. Weissmann is one, Greg Andre is one, Michael Dreeben, who is one of the longest serving members ever of the solicitor general`s office, and knows more about criminal and federal criminal law than almost anybody alive is one.
The rest of the team is just that talented. And so, that`s part of it. But part of it is if you read the indictment, and David was right, you read that indictment, they have done remarkably good, deep, investigative work. You can tell from the indictment who some of the witnesses are, you can tell they`ve gone through the e-mails for Manafort and Gates with a fine- tooth comb, they have the e-mails. This looks like a rock solid case on every count.
O`DONNELL: And, Ron, the other thing the prosecutor is doing with the indictments is he`s communicating with us. He`s communicating with the American people, it seems, as clearly as he possibly can and revealing as much information as he can in the actual written words of these indictments so that people can understand what`s happening in this case. It is possible to deliver indictments like this with less revealed detail within the range of the indictment.
But this seems to be the only way that Robert Mueller intends to communicate.
KLAIN: That`s right, Lawrence. I think as with the indictments of the 13 Russians. It is a very easy document to read. It`s very lay-person friendly. It lays out a very substantial case.
If Weissmann is the LeBron James of financial prosecutors, Manafort`s defense is the Mugsy Bogues of defenses here. I mean, you really has no case when you look at the detail of financial transactions, the specificity in there, the specificity of all these bank transactions, the loans and everything. I mean, it is a damning case against Manafort and Gates, shows how far Gates went to help Manafort commit this kind of fraud.
And again, I think it also shows how close the flow of Russia-tainted money, money from Putin`s allies in Ukraine were to these two people at the top of the Trump campaign in the summer of 2016, at a time when the Republican platform was being rewritten to confront Russia over Ukraine. I mean, there`s just a lot here that stinks up a lot.
O`DONNELL: And, David, there`s a reporting -- a reporting tonight indicating that Jared Kushner`s security clearance at the White House is being held up by more than just the routine FBI background check. It`s being held up apparently by the Mueller investigation. That that is the impediment to getting him cleared on a background check.
JOHNSTON: Well, given the things the Kushner family has been involved in in the past and their connections, I`m not at least bit surprised. I`m shocked at the idea that Jared Kushner is allowed within 100 feet of any kind of sensitive document. There`s one other item in here, Lawrence, and Paul is probably the person who can talk about this, but this indictment was filed in Alexandria, Virginia.
The earlier case was filed in Washington, D.C. And that suggests they can bring this as two separate prosecutions, one after the other, and really knock them around -- and I may be wrong about that. But it does strike me there must be a reason that these are filed in separate jurisdictions and it`s got to be -- have a message to the defense.
FISHMAN: Well, so I`m not sure that it`s a message. Here`s the thing, you can only prosecute somebody for the crime in the place they committed the crime, so the first indictment which alleged money laundering as well as the failure to register as a foreign agent had to be filed in D.C. because the registration process for foreign agency takes place when you register or don`t register with the Department of Justice or the Department of Treasury.
FISHMAN: The tax evasion charges, when you get charged with tax evasion, it`s where you live, where you made the money or where you filed your tax returns, looks like Manafort didn`t do any of those things in D.C., so they filed those returns in Virginia. But David is right, it looks like right now, they`re going to be back-to-back trials, maybe not weeks apart but certainly months apart. And we`ll have to see which goes first.
O`DONNELL: Paul Fishman, Ron Klain, David Cay Johnson, thank you all for joining us on this important night. Really appreciate it.
KLAIN: Thanks, Lawrence.
FISHMAN: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: President Trump thinks all we need in our schools now is a good guy with a gun to stop any bad guy with an assault weapon. President Trump wants the good guy with a gun to be a schoolteacher. Even Florida Senator Marco Rubio thinks that`s a bad idea, but Senator Rubio still supports the sale of assault weapon and he was confronted by Fred Guttenberg who lost his daughter Jaime at the school massacre last week.
Fred Guttenberg will join us.
O`DONNELL: Two thousand one hundred eighty-two miles per hour. That`s how fast the bullets were moving when they came out of the barrel of that AR-15 in Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School last week, 2,182 miles per hour, 3,200 feet per second. That`s what those kids were trying to outrun. Thirty-two hundred feet per second, that`s three times faster than the speed of a bullet leaving the barrel of a .9 millimeter handgun.
With a high capacity magazine, the AR-15 can fire 90 or 100 bullets in a minute. A concealable handgun can fire maybe 15 bullets in a minute.
But President Trump said today that he believes if you put that concealable handguns in the hands of White House Chief of Staff John Kelly he could have stopped the shooter in Florida last week. John Kelly could have gone into that school alone, with no body armor and gone up against a mass murderer with an AR-15 and that would have been the end of it.
John Kelly was in the room when the president said that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m watching John Kelly, General John Kelly. So, he`s a four-star marine. He`s a tough cookie. If he was a teacher, I wouldn`t worry about him having a gun because I guarantee, he can use it better than anybody. There`s no security guard you`re going to hire that`s going to handle a gun better than him. So, if he`s a teacher or other friends that`s a marine, if they`re teaching, or other people like that, I want them to have a gun.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Well, that`s certainly the kind of thing Clint Eastwood was doing in the movies when he was 67 years old, going up against the bad guy with superior fire power and taking the guy out with his handgun.
The president has seen too many Clint Eastwood movies. John Kelly is 67 years old. He`s never gone into combat only with a handgun, or commanded marines armed only with handguns. He`s only commanded marines that have the finest weapons of war, the finest weapons of war, like the AR-15.
John Kelly would never order a marine into combat armed with only a handgun. John Kelly was never trained to go into combat in an American high school where the possible collateral damage included high school students, thousands of them, and dozens of American high school teachers. No marine has ever been trained to do that, and no marine has ever done it.
But in Donald Trump`s imagining of mass murder in American schools, all it takes to stop the shooter is a former marine in a concealable handgun. He seems convinced that former marines and other veterans have filled American teaching jobs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You have teachers that are marines for 20 years and they`re retire and they become a teacher. And they`re Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard. They`re people that have won shooting contests.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: No, that`s not what people do when they retire from the military. No one appears to be keeping a close count of the number of marines and other veterans that become school teachers, but it is a tiny, tiny percentage of teachers. It could be below 3 percent, possibly below or around 1 percent of teachers. Donald Trump seems to think it`s 40 percent.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: They`re not going to walk into a school if 20 percent of the teachers have guns, maybe 10 percent or maybe 40 percent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: After I pointed out on this program last night that Donald Trump`s original idea for having 20 percent of teachers having guns would mean 700,000 teachers in America carrying concealed handguns in the schools, reporters in the White House press briefing today asked if the president`s doubling of that figure to 40 percent meant that he really believed we would have 1,400,000 teachers with guns in American schools, which would be almost double the total number of American police officers.
And, of course, as usual in a White House press briefing, I will spare you with how it went, there was no real answer to that question. I mean, I will spare for how it went.
After I pointed out on this program last night that the president had no intention of paying any of those teachers for doing double duty as police officers, the president suggested this today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: What I`d recommend doing is the people that do carry, we give them a bonus. We give them a little bit of a bonus. Frankly, they`d feel more comfortable having the gun anyway. But you give them a little bit of a bonus.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: A little bit of a bow nuns he has new ideas. So the reporter pointed out in the press briefing today if the bonus was, say, $1,000 a piece for risking your life, that would cost somewhere between $700 million and a billion dollars. Reporters asked if the president was prepared to provide federal funding for that, and as usual, there was no real answer in the White House press briefing room because no one in the White House has really thought about this.
But the president`s own budget tells what they think. It already provides for a cut in funding in school security. That`s the Trump position, that`s the Republican position, cut funding for school security. They`re already on record with that budget.
On this subject and so many others, the president lives in a fantasy world and the people working in the White House seem to believe that their job is to never interrupt the fantasy. And that was really the most painful part of what we saw today in the White House. When the president looked across the table in the Roosevelt Room today and looked at 67-year-old John Kelly and told the world that if John Kelly had a handgun at Marjory Stoneman Douglas last week, the mass murderer would have been shot and killed on the spot. And John Kelly would have saved the lives of some of the children who were murdered that day.
John Kelly had an obligation in that moment, John Kelly actually knows a lot about trying to stay alive when you`re getting shot at and trying to kill the people who are shooting at you. And Donald Trump knows nothing about that. And so, John Kelly had an obligation, when Donald Trump mentioned that.
Kellyanne Conway spoke up in the Roosevelt Room today and threw in her two cents about what`s happening in American schools and what she had to say was worth less than two cents. But John Kelly sat there and said nothing. John Kelly allowed himself to be used as a prop for Donald Trump`s fantasy. John Kelly allowed his honorable years of service as United States marine to be used by a politician who`s in lock step with the National Rifle Association and who is determined to make sure that mass murderers be able to continue to buy assault weapons over the counter in America and remain the best equipped mass murderers in the world.
John Kelly had a moral obligation today to the truth and to the moral obligation to this country, to tell the president right there in that room, at that moment, that it`s not as easy as he imagines. John Kelly had a moral obligation to tell the president that it is grotesquely wrong to tell American parents that all we need to protect their parents in their schools is a John Kelly with a handgun.
The students of Stoneman Douglas High and students around the country and their parents want action. They want decisive action to prevent assault weapons, specifically, assault weapons from entering the schools and killing children and teachers and the president offers them fantasies. He offers them imagined movie characters. He offers them an imagined army almost twice the size of the total American police force, an army of teachers with handguns who will protect every student in America, we`re never going to have that army.
And John Kelly who knows that, who knows something about raising and training and maintaining armies had a moral obligation to tell American parents and students the truth today that that army is not coming. That a teacher with a handgun, very few of whom are former marines, very, very few, that that teacher will be able to take out the mass murderer with the AR-15. It was John Kelly`s job to tell the president the truth about that.
The AR-15 was designed not just to fight gun battles but to win gun battles and it was designed to leave no wounded behind. It was designed to kill more effectively than other guns can. It was designed to destroy human organs with one bullet, when other guns can`t do that.
Dr. Heather Sher is a radiologist, she was on duty last week, here are some of the clinical observations she made. In a typical handgun injury that I diagnose almost daily, a bullet leaves a laceration through an organ like the liver. To a radiologist, it appears as a linear thin grey bullet track through the organ. There maybe bleeding and some bullet fragments.
I was looking at a CT scan of one of the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School who had been brought to the trauma center during my call shift. The organ looked like an overripe melon smashed by a sledge hammer with extensive bleeding. How could a gun shot wound have caused this much damage?
One of the trauma surgeons opened a young victim in the operating room and found only shreds of organ that had been hit by a bullet from the AR-15, a semiautomatic rifle which delivers a devastatingly lethal high velocity bullet to the victim. There was nothing left to repair. The injury was fatal.
Dr. Sher was also on duty a year ago when there was a mass shooting at Ft. Lauderdale International Airport. Eleven people were hit by shots from a .9 millimeter handgun. Here`s what she said about those gun shot wounds. The gunshot wounds were the same low velocity handgun injuries as those I diagnose every day, and all six of the victim who arrived at the hospital that day survived.
The AR-15 is different. And that`s what people who stood up to Senator Marco Rubio in Florida last night tried to get him to admit, the AR-15 is different.
Dr. Sher wrote, the high velocity bullet causes a swath of tissue damage that extends several inches from its path. It does not have to hit an artery to damage it and cause catastrophic bleeding. A bullet from a handgun or other weapon can enter your body and pass through you without killing you and a bullet from an AR-15 entering exactly the same place and traveling the same track can kill you.
AR-15s are different. They do catastrophic damage inside the human body that other weapons and ammunition are incapable of doing. Dr. Sher says exit wounds from an AR-15 can be the size of an orange.
Doctors are parents too. Dr. Sher told this story about the day of the shooting.
One of my ER colleagues was waiting nervously for his own children outside the school while the shooting was still in progress. The first responders were gathering up victims whenever they could and carrying them outside the building. Even as a physician trained in trauma situations, though, there was nothing he could do at the scene to help to save the victims who had been shot with an AR-15. Most of them died on the spot, with no fighting chance at life.
Banning the sale of AR-15s, would have given those kids in Florida last week a fighting chance at life, allowing the murder to so easily and legally obtain an AR-15 gave those kids no fighting chance at life. No chance at all and president Trump and Marco Rubio and every Republican in Congress still wants to make sure that every mass murderer who can pass a background check, and most of them can, can legally buy an AR-15, which most of them do. We now live in a country where for some politicians a fighting chance at life for kids in school is too much to ask.
We`ll be joined next by the father of one of the students killed last week who confronted Senator Marco Rubio last night over his continued support of the AR-15.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRED GUTTENBERG, FATHER OF TEEN SLAIN IN PARKLAND SHOOTING: Senator Rubio, my daughter, running down the hallway at Marjory Stoneman Douglas was shot in the back.
MARCO RUBIO, UNITED STATES SENATOR: Yes, sir. Yes sir.
GUTTENBERG: With an assault weapon, the weapon of choice.
RUBIO : Yes, sir.
GUTTENBERG: it is too easy to get. It is a weapon of war. The fact that you can`t stand with everybody in this building and say that, I`m sorry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: We`re joined now by the man who confronted Senator Rubio last night and lost his 14-year-old daughter Jaime Guttenberg last week. Fred Guttenberg joins us now. Mr. Guttenberg thank you for joining us. I`m very sorry for your loss and sorry we`re talking under these circumstances.
GUTTENBERG: Thanks Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: I want to get your reaction to this issue that is up there now, and that is, of course, the -- let`s give guns to teachers. And it`s being advanced by politicians who absolutely are opposed to restricting or banning the sale of assault weapons. And it seems as if that is going to be their offer, guns for teachers, but allow the assault weapons to continue to come into the schools.
GUTTENBERG: I just left BB&T Center where the Florida Panthers play. They honored the victims and families tonight. After listening to what it was like in that building, my response to that is they`re kind of like throwing piles of crap at the wall to see what will stick. OK. It was pandemonium in that building.
We couldn`t even get the resource officer to go in, OK. The idea that in a blackout condition in that building, which is what it was like, with kids running in all directions, OK, trying to get into rooms, trying to get out of rooms, upstairs, downstairs, that you`re going to have untrained security shooting guns is only going to lead to more casualty. Now, if we want to have the conversation about more security on campus. If we want to have a conversation about maybe upping our game with who we put in as a school police officer, I think that`s a worthy conversation.
But teachers need to teach, students need to learn, and police need to secure. I just -- I can`t believe it. These kids today don`t want that. They don`t want their teachers carrying guns in school. I was with them.
They`re afraid enough to go back to school. They`re not sure they`re going back this week. And the idea of their teachers carrying guns doesn`t make them feel better
O`DONNELL: Mr. Guttenberg your son, Jessie, is still a student at the school. Is he ready to go back?
GUTTENBERG: He is. No. But he is. You know, in my house, you know, I kind of teach my kids -- well, my son, that you go forward. You power through. You know, it`s not always easy and you have to face fear.
You know, Jessie understands that whatever he`s about to face, his sister running from a gunman, nothing will ever be as scary as what she faced. Jessie`s uncle, my brother, we laid to rest back in October. He died to cancer related to his in 9/11. My brother was in the World Trade Center when it collapsed and hid in a room with 10 other doctors that for whatever reason this room didn`t collapsed. Nothing can ever be as scary as what my brother and daughter went through. Jessie understands that and Jessie`s going to back to school.
O`DONNELL: You talked about powering and going forward. And I have to say that I know every parent I talked to, including myself, we all wonder how you do it. How you personally do it. You are now one week away from losing your daughter, an experience you never thought was going to happen. I cannot imagine being able to speak at this stage if I was going through that, I can`t imagine being able to speak publicly.
I can`t imagine being able to stand there and confront a Senator last night on television. how are you doing it? How are you getting through day-to- day?
GUTTENBERG: You know what, adrenaline and they keep pissing me off more. And when -- listen, I want to rest. I am intending to do that this weekend. I`m emotionally drained. I am physically drained, but my daughter was the toughest person I know. And, you know, if you had a chance to talk to anybody about her, they would tell you stories of her toughness.
She`s standing on one shoulder and my brother is standing on the other. I`m doing this for them. I`m doing this for these kids that I was with tonight. They want -- they want to go back to school. They want to be safe.
Somebody needs to be their voice. These students have been unbelievable. They have spoken up, they have been fierce, They`ve been tough. But they need someone to stand with them. I`m tired but you know what, they deserve to be safe. It is my honor to do it for them and with them.
O`DONNELL: Fred Guttenberg, It`s an honor to have you join us today, and I appreciate it understanding what you`ve been through. which unimaginable to the rest of us, your strength dealing in continuing to deal with this everyday. I admire it and I could never imagine myself having the strength to get through everything you`ve gotten through. Thank you very, very for joining us.
GUTTENBERG: Thank you, Lawrence. Have a good night.
O`DONNELL: Thank you. Coming up we`ll be joined by one of the students who was there that day, who has been out there leading these protests.
O`DONNELL: the mountain is moving an inch at a time. The kids from Stoneman Douglas High School are doing the impossible. They are moving the mountain. The mountain that has stood in the way of gun safety and that mountain is the National Rifle Association. Today the nation`s privately owned bank cut ties with the NRA. The First National Bank of Omaha said it cut its contract to issue NRA branded Visa credit cards.
The card was the official credit card of the NRA and provided benefits to members. A spokesman First National Bank of Omaha said customer feedback has caused us to review our relationship with the NRA. Joining the discussion now, David Hog. He is a senior at Stoneman Douglas High School.
David thank you very much for joining us. I know you`ve done a lot of this and it is a burden and this is late at night and I really appreciate you taking the time and continuing this discussion with us. So there you have it. You`ve already achieved things in a week, David, that we have never seen in the aftermath of shootings like this.
You have the President moving on background checks, moving toward additional strengthening of background checks. You have other Republicans doing that and possibly some other things. But no one backed by the NRA has moved on an inch on the assault weapons, and we saw that last night with Senator Marco Rubio and others. What is your hope of how to get some kind of movement on assault weapons?
DAVID HOG, STUDENT, STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: My hope to get some kind of movement on assault weapons is honestly just to get better background screenings because in all honesty if these people are not going to move on assault weapons we have to work with them to come to some sort of compromise where we ensure that nobody who is mentally unstable, has a history of domestic violence, or a criminal record is able to get these weapons. We have to deal with that as it is now, because the Republicans, supported by the GOP, supported NRA are in control until midterms, hopefully because they`re in control, we have to work with them for now. But I`m sure if they don`t work with us, it`s all right because they won`t be around for much longer.
O`DONNELL: And David, I also want to ask you about this issue that the President is now advancing, which is giving guns to teachers, and, of course, that`s his way of not dealing with the assault weapons ban, he wants to change the subject.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what one of your teachers, Greg Pitman had to say about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GREG PITMAN, TEACHER, STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL: As teachers we`re used to making split second decisions of lessons not going to well we need to modify it. We need to change something. I don`t want to have to take a split second decision to decide are you a threat to my class, as a student, do I need to shoot you? What if I make a mistake and shoot and kill a student by accident? Act on what I think is correct, and it`s incorrect. I`m not trained to be the S.W.A.T.
I`m not trained to be the police. I`m not trained to be the army. I`m trained to be a teacher. I want to teach.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: David, your reaction to this idea of teachers with guns.
HOG: I think he`s absolutely correct. In the sense if you`re a teacher with a gun and you get taken out by one of these active shooters a student may very likely grab the gun and try defending his or herself but if you`re a police officer entering how do you know that`s not the shooter. How do you know there aren`t not multiple shooters. the response by the GOP maybe be to get more school ids but what happens when you`re in one of these scenario
And you can`t read the ID because you`re trying to make the decision of who`s going to live. You are going to pull that trigger regardless of whose running that ID. And that`s why we can`t have guns in school. The answer is not more guns.
That`s what the NRA wants us to believe. They want us to be in fear. They want to scare us because the more that were afraid the more guns were going to buy and the more money they`re going to get.
O`DONNELL: David, are you ready to go back to school?
HOG: Honestly not a single bill has been passed yet and I don`t want to go back until at least one is passed. It`s disgusting and deplorable. That`s all right. these people in power, like Marco Rubio, and different ones who refuse to take action on this, like the person that`s in charge the Senate, the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, they won`t be around much longer if they don`t allow the bills to come to the floor. And such they won`t get re-elected. They`re going to have to pay for it.
O`DONNELL: David Hog, thank you for joining us. I`m very sorry for what you`ve been through. Thank you very much.
HOG: I`m sorry for to our legislatures. I hope they enjoy their power while it lasts. They`re not going to have it much longer.
O`DONNELL: Thanks David. We`ll be right back.
O`DONNELL: A reprieve, that`s what one Whitehouse official called the mass murder of 17 people at a Florida school last week, a reprieve, alucky break for the Whitehouse staff. The Washington Post reports "for everyone it was a distraction or a reprieve said a Whitehouse official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to reflect internal conversations. A lot of people felt it was a reprieve from seven or eight days of just getting pummeled"
Since everyone in the Trump Whitehouse leaks to the press it could be anyone who said that. Whitehouse Chief of Staff John Kelly and Whitehouse Counsel Don McGahn were the biggest beneficiaries of the reprieve because the Whitehouse was getting pummeled every day with questions about what did John Kelly and Don McGahn know and when did they know it about the FBI background check on Whitehouse aide Rob Porter that revealed that Porter was accused of violence against both of his former wives, one of whom has a photograph of a black eye that she says Rob Porter gave her with one punch. And the other has a restraining order she obtained against him.
The Whitehouse used the shooting in Florida as a reason for canceling press briefings so the immediate need to respond disappeared. And Whitehouse Counsel Don McGahn who has not said one word about this felt free enough to go to the Conservative Political Action Conference where he taught a kindergarten level course in what the Whitehouse counsel does.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DON MCGAHN, WHITEHOUSE COUNSEL: it is the primary legal adviser to the President, where I advise the President on a range of issues from constitutional law, executive power, whether or not we can go to war, judicial selection, administrative law, essentially government law that the government has to encounter on a day-to-day basis.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And that involves you in just about everything.
MCGAHN: Unfortunately, yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, yes. Hard for you to say I didn`t do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Notice that he said law that the President has to encounter. Not obey. Encounter. And then, of course, there`s the hard for you to say, I didn`t do it. And it`s hard for you to say, I didn`t know it if you`re Don McGahn.
Next Wednesday is the deadline that the Republican Chairman of the House Oversight Committee gave John Kelly in a letter demanding to know "what information was available to the adjudicator of Porter`s interim clearance at the time it was adjudicated, who adjudicated his clearance, and what derogatory information was subsequently made available to the Whitehouse on Porter when and to whom?" And because the FBI Director, Christopher Wray has already testified that the FBI told the Whitehouse everything they need to know about Rob Porter months before John Kelly says they did, Chairman Gowdy sent the same letter to the Director of the FBI with the same deadlines for answers next Wednesday and the same important questions, what derogatory information was subsequently made available to the Whitehouse on Porter, when and to whom?
And so even though the Rob Porter -- the Rob Porter story has gone quiet, as it should while we cover the massacre of 17 people in Florida. John Kelly and Don McGahn know that even if they try to drag their feet and somehow slow down their response to the Chairman of the Committee, the FBI will get its homework in on time, and the FBI will be telling the Chairman next week, if not sooner, exactly what derogatory information was subsequently made available to the Whitehouse on Porter, when and to whom, and there`s absolutely no question that Don McGahn`s name is going to be in the FBI`s answers to those questions. A week from now, Don McGahn is going to have to have much more to explain than he explained to his kindergarten class today at CPACK.
O`DONNELL: We have breaking news. We have just learned that three major car rental companies just announced they are ending discounts and deals for National Rifle Association members. The Dallas morning new reports Enterprise, Alamo, and National Car Rental are ending that discount effective March 26th. And so tonight the kids of Stoneman Douglas High school are moving the mountain. Last Word, "The 11th Hour With Brian Williams" starts now.