THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL March 14, 2018 Guest: Max Boot
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
And I learned so much about the Japanese interest in Kushner properties tonight, which is -- I mean, Rachel a story you did tonight would be enough to bring down any other federal government official at any other point in time and we just don`t even know what happens with this one.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": This is a real -- it`s a -- it`s great reporting by Bloomberg News. It`s absolutely their scoop. They got this one alone.
But the timing on this is remarkable. They held that unusual meeting with Donald Trump while Jared Kushner is there, while Jared Kushner has his business interest in Kushner Companies.
Kushner Companies needs investment. They get it from the Japanese government for that building. They pay a big premium for that investment and then they leave the building sitting there vacant because apparently, it wasn`t that urgent of an investment for them in terms of moving it for real estate for a year now.
And you`re right -- I mean, this is the kind of scandal that would be two years worth of congressional hearings and front-page news for any other president, but in this one, it`s like oh just see that thing in Bloomberg? Which thing? It`s amazing.
O`DONNELL: Yes, yes, I didn`t even know about the two years of hearings. I mean, in most presidencies, this would be a quick out the door, you know, what do you -- what are you crazy? What did you do? Japanese government bought into one of your properties, you`d be out so fast in any other administration. It`s just astonishing.
And part of the -- being part of the reality check on this for us as a country maybe whether or not this results in a significant political scandal in Japan if it turns out that it looks to the Japanese public and to Japanese investigators, like the Japanese government made this investment as a way to try to curry favor with Jared Kushner and thereby his father-in-law.
And it may be that the Japanese government is better at dealing with these kinds of scandals than the American government is now anyway.
MADDOW: Yes, we`ll see. Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thanks, Rachel.
Well, this morning was the very first morning this week that Donald Trump woke up and did not tweet about the special congressional election in Pennsylvania. First thing Monday morning, he tweeted about it. Tuesday morning, he tweeted about it and this morning, not a word.
Here`s Donald Trump`s last tweet about the congressional race in Pennsylvania. The economy is raging at an all-time high and is set to get even better jobs and wages up vote for Rick Saccone and keep it going.
That was yesterday morning, and in the middle of the night last night, well, at exactly 5:22 a.m., this happened.
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STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: We have an apparent winner in the Pennsylvania special election for the House district in the 18th, Conor Lamb, the Democrat. NBC news is declaring the apparent winner over Rick Saccone, the Republican.
Finally, oh my god, we waited all night for these numbers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: A heroic night of coverage by Steve Kornacki, and Donald Trump was crushed last night in Pennsylvania`s 18th congressional district, so was Donald Trump Jr. who went to the district wearing his vote Republican hairnet, and that wasn`t good enough.
Ivanka Trump was crushed in Pennsylvania`s 18th congressional district. She campaigned for the Republican candidate and it did absolutely no good.
And Mike Pence was also personally crushed in Pennsylvania`s 18th last night. He campaigned there for the Republican candidate. The Republicans know what happened last night. The Democrats won a congressional district where they didn`t even bother to put up a Democratic name on the ballot in the last two elections. That`s how hopeless it was.
Democrats won in a congressional district where the Republican could previously run unopposed. Democrats won in a congressional district where Donald Trump won by 20 points, a congressional district where Mitt Romney won by 17 points. The Democrat won in a congressional district that was gerrymandered by Republicans as are most of the congressional districts where Republicans win.
But this was a congressional district so perversely gerrymandered by the Republicans that the United States Supreme Court ruled it such an illegally contrived district that Pennsylvania is going to have to just eliminate it, just erase it off the map in the next election. The Democrat won in a district that was illegally gerrymandered by Republicans so that a Democrat, any Democrat could never win, and a Democrat won.
And so, Donald Trump has been humiliated into silence today. He can`t think of a word to say about what happened.
The White House tried to spin it today that without Trump`s involvement in the race, the Republican would have lost by an even wider margin and that is, of course, a wild lie. The district was gerrymandered to the illegal point where the Republican could never lose, and Donald Trump went to the never lose district and lost, delivered a loss for the Republicans just by being himself.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I used to how easy it is to be presidential, but you`d all be out of here right now -- you`d be so bored, because I can stand out, right?
I`m very presidential. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for being here tonight. Rick Saccone will be a great, great congressman.
And then you go God bless you and God bless the United States of America. Thank you very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was Donald Trump doing what I guess is his impression of Mike Pence.
Donald Trump`s problem is that he actually cannot be presidential. He can never be presidential. Donald Trump`s problem is a majority of the country is embarrassed to have him as the president of the United States because he can never be presidential. Donald Trump`s problem is that many Trump voters now who wanted him to be presidential now realize that it is impossible and they voted for a clown and those Trump voters want the circus to be over.
And so in Pennsylvania`s eighteenth last night, Trump voters turned against Donald Trump and those voters gave the win to the Democrats. Donald Trump stood on a stage in that congressional district on Saturday night and tried his hand at very, very bad comedy and very practiced racism and the voters of that district said, no, they said no to Donald Trump, no, we will not send another representative to Congress to support Donald Trump.
Republican House members spent the day under Paul Ryan`s order lying about -- to the public about what they think happened in Pennsylvania last night.
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REP. CHRIS COLLINS (R), NEW YORK: I think this was a case of a very strong Democratic candidate and on a relative basis a much weaker Republican candidate.
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O`DONNELL: That was the big Republican lie of the day. It was the Republican candidate`s fault.
Gerrymandered districts are candidate-proof. The Republicans gerrymandered that district to the point of illegality so that it wouldn`t matter who the Republican candidate was. What the Republicans ran into in Pennsylvania`s 18th was a big blue wave that wiped out the Republican candidate. The Republicans -- the Republicans got wiped out, the president got wiped out, the Republican president`s family got wiped out.
And professional Republicans know that. Privately, they`re all desperately worried about what happened in Pennsylvania last nigh. This is what each party does when something like this happens. They can`t publicly admit that they`re panicked. It would be like a company publicly admitting that they`re panicked about their stock price going down and then this stock price would go down even more.
Many Republicans saw this coming, including most of the Republicans who decided not to run for re-election. A record number of high-ranking Republicans in the House have decided not to run for reelection.
Republican Senator Jeff Flake who has decided not to run for reelection is more willing to publicly face reality.
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REPORTER: Do you think that republicans should be more worried after they lose that House race last night in Pennsylvania, a Republican district that the president won?
SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: Yes. Well, I mean, it`s a 20-point Trump district, that`s a wake-up call for sure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining the discussion now: Jennifer Rubin, conservative opinion writer at "The Washington Post" and an MSNBC contributor, Sam Stein, the politics editor of "The Daily Beast" and an MSNBC contributor, and Max Boots, senior fellow for National Security Studies the Council on Foreign Relations, and the author of the book "The Road Not Taken".
And, Jennifer, the Republicans gerrymander a district illegally to the point where it`s impossible for the Republicans to lose and the Republican loses and they blame the candidate.
JENNIFER RUBIN, CONSERVATIVE OPINION WRITER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, as Mike Murphy said, you should be able to run a box of hammers in this district and still win it and they managed not to win it. I think this is a panic time.
I know two other things. First of all, they had to entirely drop their pitch for the tax plan, because that was working so badly that they had to at the last minute go back to their bread-and-butter issues which are immigration, racism, protectionism and so on. So, it should be a wake-up call for all those Republicans who are actually listening to Paul Ryan who says running on the tax plan. Well, they couldn`t run on a tax plan in a gerrymandered district.
The other thing I would say is you know there`s a little bit of a winner here? It`s Joe Biden, who went out and campaigned for him and his the state of his birth and did a pretty good job. And I think Joe Biden`s going to be in some demand as we get closer to the fall.
O`DONNELL: So, we do have some breaking news at this moment. Donald Trump has finally spoken about this. He did it at a private fundraiser for a Missouri Senate candidate and I think the Republicans who want to keep going to want to keep those things private so that their voters don`t see Donald Trump.
And he is now telling he told the crowd at that at that event tonight that that the Democrat ran, quote, a pretty smart race actually. He says, the young man last night that ran, he said, oh I`m like Trump, Second Amendment, everything. I love the tax cuts, everything, he ran on that basis.
And here I can`t even read what the president says without him being drowned out by laughter of the -- he said -- and so Trump ends that by saying, I said, is he a Republican? He sounds like a Republican to me.
Here are just some of the Democrat Conor Lamb`s positions. First of all, he ran against the Trump tax cut for universal health care, for expanded background checks on firearm purchases, for stronger unions, against cuts to Social Security, for a woman`s right to choose and for medical marijuana.
And, Sam Stein, he didn`t ever say I`m like Trump.
SAM STEIN, POLITICS EDITOR, THE DAILY BEAST: Are you sure about that? Are you sure?
O`DONNELL: I`m sure about that.
STEIN: Because you`re on a being Trump, that`s shocking to me.
You know, let`s just step back for a second and recognize that the vast majority of the advertising used against Conor Lamb was to portray him as a lackey for Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. They spent weeks if not months accusing him of being a closeted liberal who would just vote for Pelosi and follow her lead if you were to be elected office.
Now, in the span of about 12 hours or so, Conor Lamb has morphed into a Donald Trump Republican. The talking points are completely convoluted. They make no sense as you went through positions.
He wasn`t a liberal. He was a center-left candidate. He notably opposed an assault weapons ban, but that doesn`t put him totally outside of the Democratic mainstream. He was, you know, a fairly conventional Democratic candidate who told a good story, but also if we`re just being honest about it, truly benefited from a backlash that`s happening across the country to Trumpism, and that backlash is taking place not just in the suburbs but it`s taking place in traditionally red districts, certainly taking place and flip districts.
And, you know, it`s remarkable to see some of these House Republicans just in denialism about it because if they don`t get going as I talk to a number of GOP strategists today, if they don`t get going, they`re going to be next.
O`DONNELL: Let`s take a look at how the Republicans ran against this guy who they are now claiming was a Republican. Here`s the way Paul Ryan spent his money in this campaign financing an ad against Conor Lamb. Let`s listen to this.
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AD ANNOUNCER: How do we know Conor Lamb will join Pelosi`s liberal flock? He already has. Lamb joined Pelosi to oppose a middle-class tax cut, calling your tax cut crumbs. Conor Lamb, a Pelosi following, high taxing, big spending liberal. We deserve better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: So, Max Boot, there you have it. That`s the guy who they`re now trying to claim was a Republican.
MAX BOOT, OPINION COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: There was probably a backlash from people like me who love lamb, so you know what do they have against lambs? I mean, they`re -- you know, they through everything but the kitchen sink at him, and the fact is it didn`t stick. And remember, this was right after Trump had imposed steel tariffs and a lot of people speculated that a lot of the reason he imposed these tariffs which risk a trade war that could imperil the U.S. economy is to win this congressional district.
I mean, I`m wondering now, can we repeal those stupid tariffs because he lost this district? I mean, I think the larger you know meaningful Republicans is going to be pretty clear the odds of a -- you know, of a Democratic majority and in the fall in the house are going up dramatically and that`s very bad news for Trump. You know, one of the things that jumped out at me as soon as I heard about the result was the word subpoenas, because this week, you had the House Intelligence Committee closing down their investigation of connections between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.
And as the Democrats pointed out, they did this after failing to subpoena most the relevant documents, after failing to compel testimony from a lot of the relevant witnesses, and they can get away with this because the House Republicans are in the majority.
But at the rate they`re going, they`re not going to be in the majority at this time next year and Donald Trump better watch out because the subpoena power is going to be used against them and there`s an awful lot of stuff to uncover as -- you know, as we hear on a nightly basis.
O`DONNELL: Jennifer Rubin, I have never seen a speaker of the House like Paul Ryan and I mean that every day, because the speaker it normally knows when to distance himself -- I can say himself since most of them have been men, distanced themselves from the president of their own party when they have to especially for re-election within the House. It is the speaker`s job to figure out when to do that, to save the membership, save the House at least.
Paul Ryan doesn`t seem to be able to find any moment any space anywhere to separate himself or any members of the house from Donald Trump.
RUBIN: Well, he`s the positive spine in a pawnshop apparently, and has no ability to resist Donald Trump. You`re exactly right.
Listen, he tried this -- he actually allowed people to distance themselves from Trump in 2016, and some of them were able to survive, many of them were able to survive in fact. But no, he has made his bed. He`s going to make them all lie in it. They`re going to have to wrap their arms around Donald Trump and they are so petrified of their own base that they think this is the only way that they survive. I think that`s wrong but that`s their thinking.
STEIN: Can I jump in here because some of the reporting that we did today from the Hill underscores what is a somewhat tricky dilemma that Paul Ryan faces?
Half of his caucus, a good chunk of his caucus firmly believes that the way to get out of this rut is to actually just continue doing what they`re doing but more aggressively. You know, make the case that the tax cuts were positive for us even harder. And then the other half of the caucus is totally freaked out about what happened and they`re taking precautionary steps right now to make sure that they`re insulated from it.
And so, Paul Ryan has these two variables that is to contend with. And so far, he`s just choosing to do nothing.
O`DONNELL: Sam Stein, Jennifer Rubin and Max Boot, thank you for joining this round of the discussion.
Up next, the most toxic working environment on the plane. Where could that be? 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. People working inside the Trump White House are describing it as the most toxic environment they`ve ever been in. It is, of course, the environment they chose.
And former Ambassador Wendy Sherman will join us tonight to discuss the president picking the CIA director to replace the nation`s top diplomat.
O`DONNELL: A moron fired the secretary of state. That`s according to the secretary of state, who called the president to moron 236 days before the president fired him. It was in a meeting in the Pentagon with other senior administration officials just after the president left that meeting. That`s when Rex Tillerson told everyone who remained in the room after the president left that the president is a moron. There were no reports of anyone objecting to Rex Tillerson saying that.
In some reports, moron was preceded by the most profane of adjectives, and the reason Rex Tillerson called the president of moron was if the president had compared American military operations in Afghanistan to the challenges of remodeling a famous restaurant in Midtown Manhattan, The 21 Club.
Rex Tillerson refused to deny that he called the president a moron. It just would have been the easiest thing in the world for the secretary of state to say, just say that`s not true but he would never do it. Something somewhere in Rex Tillerson`s definition of his own integrity prevented him from saying, no, I did not call the president a moron.
NBC News Carol Lee and Kristen Welker report that, quote, two sources familiar with the matter tell NBC News that President Trump could never get past Tillerson calling him a moron, which was a constant undercurrent that exacerbated their other clashes.
Two hundred thirty-six days, think about those days. That may be the most extraordinary demonstration of patience in Donald Trump`s entire life, someone who works for him, calls him a moron and takes him 236 days to fire the guy. Imagine how excruciating those days were for Donald Trump and imagine now, imagine now how excruciating it must be for Donald Trump that he, like the rest of us, doesn`t have any idea how many times Mike Pompeo has called him a moron.
CIA Director Mike Pompeo is President Trump`s new choice for secretary of state. Maybe Mike Pompeo has never called Donald Trump a moron, but according to Michael Wolff`s book "Fire and Fury", everyone in the Trump administration calls the president something that the president doesn`t want to hear. Insulting Donald Trump`s intelligence was both the thing you could not do and the thing that everybody was guilty of.
For Steve Mnuchin and Reince Priebus, he was an idiot. For Gary Cohn, he was dumb as. And for H.R. McMaster, he was a dope. The list went on. And the list no doubt includes Mike Pompeo.
So, Donald Trump`s secretary of state has called him a moron, his former White House chief of staff and his treasury secretary call him an idiot, his national security advisor calls him a dope, and we can only wonder what Mike Pompeo calls Donald Trump.
And what was one of his last statements as secretary of state, Rex Tillerson issued a harsh condemnation of Russia following a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in the United Kingdom when President Trump was saying absolutely nothing about it. And today, British Prime Minister Theresa May expelled 23 Russian diplomats in response to the attack. Tonight, the White House press secretary finally released a statement condemning the attack, saying the United States shares the United Kingdom`s assessment that Russia is responsible for the reckless nerve agent attack on a British citizen and his daughter.
The statement was not by the president of the United States. The statement was labeled as a statement by the press secretary.
Joining us now, Ambassador Wendy Sherman, former U.S. undersecretary of state for political affairs. She`s also an MSNBC global affairs contributor.
And Ambassador Sherman, on this statement tonight issued by the press secretary supporting the United Kingdom`s finding in this incident with Russia, is it -- is it customary for that statement to be made by the press secretary in the name of the press secretary and for us to have absolute silence from the president of the United States?
WENDY SHERMAN, MSNBC GLOBAL AFFAIRS CONTRIBUTOR: It is very unusual in these circumstances, Lawrence. I`ve just come back from Brussels and London, and I can`t tell you what a surreal experience it is to be in the middle of meetings and just as people are going to sleep, you hear that the president United States has decided on impulse to have a summit with Kim Jong-un, the dictatorial leader of a country in which none of us would ever want to live.
And then a couple of days later, as the British are completely overwhelmed with this assassination outside of London by clearly. a Russian agent of some sort with a chemical weapon just completely obsessed with and concerned with it, we have radio silence from the White House from the president the United States. Great Britain, which is supposed to be our special relationship, wonders where that relationship is.
You know, this is a president who has made us feel sorry for people who we actually didn`t think we`re doing a very good job. That was true of Jeff Sessions. When many Democrats didn`t want him to be attorney general but have come to feel sorry for him, and now, Rex Tillerson who decimated diplomacy in the Department of State, at least had the guts to say that Russia was responsible for this really horrific incident, which could happen here in the United States of America.
O`DONNELL: I want to talk for a moment about the CIA director becoming secretary of state that`s something we haven`t seen before, and as ambassadors around the world know, their embassies are always suspect as harboring some people who are described as diplomats but are in fact working for the CIA. And whenever we see these expulsion cases, it`s every country has a list of who they suspect of this and that`s who they tend to expel in moments like this.
And so, U.S. ambassadors around the world spend a significant amount of time trying to convince the countries -- their host countries that they are not just outposts of the CIA. How awkward is this then for the CIA director to become secretary of state?
SHERMAN: I think it`s a very good point and I think there will be a lot of suspicion, a lot of concern. And in fact, we`re seeing something that we`ve seen in authoritarian governments, where the intelligence officer really has a very close relationship with the authoritarian leader, really becomes an agent of a police state in many ways. I`m not suggesting at all that that`s what Director Pompeo will do or that President Trump will even do.
But each one of these very unusual moves makes us quite concerned and I must say the rumors that John Bolton might replace General McMaster as the national security advisor and Mike Pompeo who has long been a hawk on a whole set of issues does make one wonder if the president is creating a war cabinet, not a peace cabinet.
O`DONNELL: And we`ll talk about the State Department in the aftermath of Rex Tillerson this is one of those moments where people are looking at Rex Tillerson as being some sort of higher ground possibly than then Donald Trump. But this is someone who just decimated the State Department.
SHERMAN: Utterly. Sixty percent of the senior foreign service are gone, people who served during the Obama administration, even if they are career civil servants who served Reagan and Bush and Bush again are seen as suspect and have not been offered onward assignments. So, they`ve left in droves -- civil servants have left in droves or they`ve been driven out of the Department of State.
The president asked for a 39 percent budget cut the Congress wouldn`t do it but Secretary Tillerson said he wouldn`t spend the money, as you have reported, a hundred and twenty million dollars was earmarked to really push against Russia`s propaganda and not a cent of it has been spent.
So, at some level, I`m sure the State Department is hoping that Director Pompeo should he be confirmed being close to the president will now have more power and I was glad to see in his statement that he said he looked forward to working for the dedicated foreign service and civil servants at the State Department. That`s important. But he`s got a lot of rebuilding to do.
And the most important thing here, Lawrence, is we have a lot of crises right in front of the president United States and these transitions, although they may ultimately get him the team he wants, it`s going to take some time. He`s got to get ready for a summit with Kim Jong-un, he has to make very consequential decision about Iran and it looks like he wants to jettison the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the deal that keeps Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and set us on a path to having two nuclear crises, one with Iran and one with North Korea, and without a team in sight to handle it all.
O`DONNELL: Former Ambassador Wendy Sherman, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it.
SHERMAN: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up we have more on that breaking news tonight of President Trump`s remarks, breaking his silence about the big defeat for the Republicans and him in Pennsylvania last night. We`ll talk to the reporter who heard what the president had to say tonight in that Republican fundraiser.
And we`ll have an important update on Steve Kornacki who did heroic work last night. And you see the injured last left hand. He had surgery on the hand today. He`s doing well. Couldn`t have done more for us tonight.
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DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: Go out on Tuesday and just vote like -- you got to get out there. The world is watching. I`m going to be home watching the returns. The whole world, remember that, they`re all watching. We want to keep it going. We want to keep the agenda, make America great going. You got to get them in. This is a very important race.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was Saturday night when Donald Trump was campaigning for the loser of last night`s special Congressional election in Pennsylvania. President Trump tonight, just tonight has made his first comments on the loss for the Republicans in Pennsylvania. He is now of course taking credit for the Democratic candidate`s win. The Atlantic Magazine has obtained audio of the President speaking tonight at a fund-raiser for a Republicans candidate in Missouri.
The audio says, the young man last night that ran, he said oh, I`m like Trump. Second amendment, everything. I love the tax cuts, everything. He ran on that basis Trump said. He ran on a campaign that said very nice things about me.
I said is he a Republican? He sounds like a Republican to me. Later on Donald Trump stressed the Democrats appeal to many blue collar conservatives saying when but I guess when you`re running in a certain area that`s probably a good tactic. Joining us now by phone is Elaina Plott. She`s a staff writer for the Atlantic and she obtained the audio of what the President had to say tonight. Elaina thank you for joining us tonight.
ELAINA PLOTT, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Thank you for having me Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: So this is audio spirited out of a Republican fund-raiser where no press was allowed. This is the kind of audio we got during the Romney Presidential campaigns. And this was Donald Trump saying that the Democrat won because he said I`m like Trump?
PLOTT: Exactly. It`s just another instance, Lawrence, where you think, following an unfavorable election for Republicans, Trump trying to have it both ways. Of course if Rick Saccone had won Trump would have argued that it was because of his last minute rally for him on Saturday night. But now that Connor Lamb has edged him out by a razor thin margin, we see Trump trying to claim credit for that as well.
It`s also, you know, a lot of Hill reporters were waiting to see what the President would say about this race. Of course with Ed Gillespie, with Roy Moore, he was quick to the draw to tweet. He hasn`t supported those candidates. Those candidates had not ran on this message.
But he was unusually silent today about Rick Saccone today. So I think these remarks were new worthy not only of that Trump was trying to take credit for Connor Lamb`s victory but also that he was finally breaking his silence.
O`DONNELL: And it your sense that those people in the room, Republican donors, are so completely ignorant of the campaign that they think the Democrat said I love the tax cuts and they don`t know that the Democrat ran against Trump tax cuts?
PLOTT: No, I wouldn`t characterize the response I heard from them as ignorant at all. From the audio I obtained, when Trump speaks you go along with it. That`s part of his appeal. When he does speak to the crowds he feels enlivened by them. He draws from their energy. There was so much laughter throughout his speech tonight. You know I`m reticence to believe there was a donor in the room who you know was nodding their head in belief at what Donald Trump was saying. But it was more kind of, you know, when Trump plays his part as a donor, you play your part too.
O`DONNELL: Is it going to dawn on any of those donors do you think that they are helping to finance these Trump trips like we saw Saturday night that help sink Republican candidates.
PLOTT: You know I think what you`ll hear a lot of donors say and throughout my reporting in the last couple of days with Rick Saccone, a lot of them are simply saying Rick Saccone was an anomaly. He was bad candidate. Despite the fact you know in the last year, Trump and Republicans haven`t been remarkably successful in their special elections or again with Ed Gillespie and his bid for Governor of Virginia.
But I think you know you`re going to see a lot of cash flooding in for someone like Josh Holly and his bid against Claire McCaskill, someone like Kevin Kramer in North Dakota when he against Heidi Hitkamp. I think a lot of them are still in a little bit suspension of disbelief that, you know, something like the special election with Rick Saccone is actually indicative of what might happen in November.
Everybody is keen to see these as anomalous and not actually a dull weather despite the fact that you know evidence is pointing to the fact that this election last evening was a referendum on Trump. It wasn`t just you know fluke in it of itself.
O`DONNELL: The Atlantic`s Elaina Plott. Thank you very much Elaina for joining us with your breaking news tonight, really appreciate it.
PLOTT: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: And as we said earlier it wasn`t until 5:22 a.m. when Steve Kornacki could finally announce to the world that NBC News had called Conor Lamb the apparent winner in the Pennylvania Special Election and that was not the end for Steve Kornacki who tweeted a few minutes later, I`ll never forget the ones who stayed awake with me will be on for the start of Morning Joe. That means at 6:00 a.m. then going to sleep and then have hand surgery.
And that`s what Steve did. He e-mailed me today right before his hand surgery. There he is resting comfortably, relaxing. That is the most relaxed I have ever seen Steve Kornacki. You have to hospitalize him to get him that relaxed.
Coming up, the kids are moving the mountain. They are moving on gun control. Cameron Kasky, one of the survivors of the Stoneman Douglas Massacre who has started the march for our Lives Movement, the never again movement will join us.
O`DONNELL: It was exactly one month ago today the students and faculty at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School were running out of their school in fear of their lives as a mass murderer was gunning down 17 people inside the school. Today thousands of students across the country walked out of their schools in spiritual solidarity with the victims and survivors of the massacre at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School. Elementary school student, Middle School student and high school students, all of whom have to fear that they might be the victims of an assault rifles in their school walked out of their schools. Some with the guidance and support of their teachers and marched for common sense gun laws.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re the next generation. And it`s now or never. If we don`t do something to put a stop to it now it`s never going to change. Nothing is going to change.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The constitution before all else decrees the pursuit of life so why does our nation anger when we lack the power to kill.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We won`t toll rat being care issued to come to school. We won`t tolerate having to stay out of school because we`re scared. It has to change. We can`t be hunted. We`re the victims that we are the ones going to die if this continues.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) are not enough. The White House needs to step it up!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re asking for fewer prayer, fewer words and more action.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We will not ignore the fact that gun violence is a public health crisis as it is the leading cause of death in the united States.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m here to fight for change. And hopefully I don`t have to wake up and be scared to go to school again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well we`re tired of sitting in class worrying about is it going to be me, my little sister.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No more silence, end gun violence. No more silence, end gun violence
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`re not permitted to walk out. You would face suspension if you did. So here we are.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is so much more important to me than any sort of school discipline. This meant so much to me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why is it so important?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because these are lives at stake. This is too important not to be a part of
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They failed us too many times. And it`s time we carry the conversation and we turn it so we can lead it. I`m voting in November and I hope everyone else turning 18 is voting in November as well.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a voter registration form and one of our teachers is collecting them and going to give them to the government.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And so you`re planning on voting?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I`m planning on voting because it is -- I`m not going to let politicians be scared of the NRA and let them think they can stay in office if they act this way.
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O`DONNELL: Joining the discussion now from Tallahassee Steve Shale, a Democratic Strategist, former Florida State Director for the Obama 2008 and former senior adviser to the Obama 2012 campaigns. Steve you`re in Florida. You`ve been talking to these kids. Give us -- assess for us the political potential of what we`re seeing here
STEVE SHALE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well I think we saw it this past week. I mean the legislature passed legislature passed the first major -- any kind of gun control legislation in 20 years. It was because of these kids. You know a week or so after the massacre, they came to town, sat down, told their stories one on one with the legislators. And you saw sort of slowly just them chipping away at the inevitability of the NRA, with everything. And frankly, we got that bill passed because of them.
O`DONNELL: Steve, a political professional like yourself has seen it all. You always have the feeling that you`ve seen it all. And of course the normal reaction politically, governmentally, after one of these shootings is nothing. Nothing happens. When did you first get the feeling something was actually going to happen in Florida and that these kids were actually going to get a bill passed?
SHALE: I think two things. first of all, one of my good friends -- Republican friends of mine Chris Latvala, who comes from a moderate district in Pinellas County. You know he came out for the (INAUDIBLE) assault weapons ban after meeting with one of these kids. And Chris is a guys who`s been a pretty strong second amendment rights guy, you know, most of his career so this was a big step.
And you saw these kids going in one by one. And were a lot more shrewd than people give them credit for. I think a lot of people assume they`d come up and just kind of yell and scream and not know what they`re talking about. But they understood how hard it would be to passed legislation and that they weren`t going to get everything they wanted but they plowed away.
The other thing Lawrence that was really important is the parents, the 17 parents came together behind a single piece of legislation and 17 parents from all walks of life, all political backgrounds and really made it very hard for legislators to walk away.
O`DONNELL: Steve Shale, thank you very much for joining us from Florida tonight, really appreciate it.
SHALE: OK. Thanks Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: And we will go back to Florida. Cameron Casky will join us next. HE will get tonight last word from Florida on this historic day.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I walked out because it is time for a change.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Love your children more than your guns. That`s why I walked out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I walked out because I have a right to a safe school. And the only way we can guarantee all children in the United States have that right is to pass commonsense gun legislation.
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O`DONNELL: Joining the discussion, Cameron Kasky, Junior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Cameron thanks for joining us tonight. How did it feel for you today watching this walkout across from students and school across the country exactly one month after you had to run of your school in fear of your life?
CAMERON KASKY, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: It was inspiring. The fact that students all over the nation were taking leadership positions that we were thrust into and there were -- they hadn`t been hit the way we were and they still realized the change -- that they need to demand it. They took those leadership positions, stepped into them and they led their communities in the right direction.
And All over the country, people were coming together and saying, we`re together on this. This isn`t red or blue, this is the American people. And this isn`t just the kids. We`re getting killed everywhere.
O`DONNELL: And Cameron, we saw a variety of reactions from schools themselves. I saw some schools where the teachers were helping and supporting the students in this choice. And others where they were doing it under the threat of being suspended. What do you say to kids around the country who took a chance today, took a chance with suspension?
KASKY: that was amazing to watch. And these schools that are locking their kids in the schools during the walkout, there`s a first amendment too. The second amendment isn`t the only one that exists.
And these children have a right. My peers have a right to come out and demand change. And I`m embarrassed to be in a country where those schools were allowed to do that. And to the students, who took a risk, I thank you for your courage and you inspire me and we will give you the justice that you deserve. Not only on this level, but overall. We`re defending everybody here.
O`DONNELL: Cameron, you`ve got the big march coming up in Washington in a couple of weeks. Is that the next point to look forward to here?
KASKY: Well, it`s a big week for everybody. But Saturday, march 24th, is going to be amazing. what we`ve seen today, that`s just the beginning. And especially in Washington, D.C. we are going to be joined by so many influential people. Just to name a few, we`ve heard from Jennifer Hudson, Ariana Grande, Demi Lovato, Mylie Cyrus, people who have voices that are used for good and are strong. And everybody`s coming together.
And everybody is saying, politicians who are corrupt, politicians who are accepting money from these organizations, you can`t run from us. We are the people. We are the people who voted you in. we are the people who will vote you out.
O`DONNELL: And Cameron, when you get to Washington, is there a strategy that will be different for that event than the other public events so far?
KASKY: Well, the strategy here is to come out and say, here`s our petition, here`s what we want to see. We need to see an assault weapons ban. We need to see the age limit raised. We need to see a lot of things.
And he fact that they`re passing this stop school violence act, which is a strong ode to just how weak our government is, the fact that the only bill people can get behind this is bill, it doesn`t say the word gun" once. We are not having that. That is a baby step.
If anything, that`s just another excuse for politicians who are accepting money from the NRA to get out of this one free. We are not letting you get out of this. That bill that`s weak -- it doesn`t say the word background checks once.
It`s not going to happen. We are saying, this is what we specifically want. We are the people. We demand it. You work for us. You need to do this now or you will feel it in the polls.
O`DONNELL: Cameron Kasky gets tonight`s last word. Thanks Cameron. Thanks for joining us.
KASKY: Thanks for having me.
O`DONNELL: Coming up New York Times Reporter Matt Apuzo on the possibility Attorney General Jeff Sessions might fire former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe before McCabe`s official retirement on Sunday. That important story is next on the 11th hour with Brian Williams which starts now.