Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: March 27, 2018 Guest: Ron Klain, Dahlia Lithwick, Eric Swalwell, Mike Quigley
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: I`m not ready. Good evening, Rachel.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": Do you want me to hum a few bars?
O`DONNELL: No. Take a look at this wall behind me. I don`t know if you had your TV on this afternoon when Nicolle Wallace was on.
O`DONNELL: But this was a wall created by her graphics team. They kept up for quite a while. It`s all the people -- it actually covered her whole set. It`s all the people who Donald Trump has found the time to attack --
MADDOW: Oh my god.
O`DONNELL: -- on Twitter.
It`s actually a sample -- I shouldn`t say it`s all. It`s a sample. It`s some alphabetical clumpings, but it`s just a -- actually a tiny sample. And Stormy Daniels` name is not up there. Because he just hasn`t gotten around to it.
By the way, Rachel, you know whose name is not up there? Rachel Maddow.
MADDOW: That`s OK.
O`DONNELL: The Stormy Daniels of MSNBC, apparently.
MADDOW: Hey, wait!
O`DONNELL: Apparently, he is so afraid of you. He is so -- that`s what it means if he hasn`t attacked you. He is so afraid of you. He doesn`t want people to know you exist. That`s how afraid he is.
MADDOW: Also, there was that "Shark Week" thing between us.
O`DONNELL: That`s exactly right.
MADDOW: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
That worked. Got a little bit of a blush out of Rachel.
The news of the night is there is no White House. Have you realized that yet? There is no White House. Not since Donald Trump took the oath of office.
There is no White House in the traditional journalistic sense that allowed journalists and headline writers to use phrases like, the White House confirmed today that X, or the White House denied today that Y.
For that White House to exist, the White House that speaks for the president, that White House has to know what the president actually thinks, or what the president is actually going to do, or what the president actually did or what the president actually said. And there is only one person in the Trump White House who knows those things, and that the Donald Trump.
And so, when the White House press secretary says the president has denied everything that Stormy Daniels has to say about him, the White House press secretary is not telling the truth.
The president has never denied a single word Stormy Daniels has ever said about him. All we have so far is the White House press secretary claiming that the president denies it. We have never heard the president deny it. The president has never tweeted that he denies it.
And the White House press secretary, as far as we know, has never even spoken to the president of the United States about Stormy Daniels.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Have you sat down with the president to talk about Stormy Daniels? What has he told you that he wants us to know about this topic?
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: As I just said and I -- and as we have addressed on a number of times, the president has denied these allegations. I don`t have anything else further to add on that front.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was today, two days after Stormy Daniels got a bigger audience on "60 Minutes" than Donald Trump and his family got on "60 Minutes" after he won the election.
The White House press secretary was asked, have you sat down with the president to talk about Stormy Daniels? And the White House press secretary refused to answer that question. That`s a simple yes or no.
Have you sat down with the president to talk about Stormy Daniels? Yes or no. We didn`t get a yes or a no. We got nothing on that question.
It was coupled with the question what has he wants us to know about this topic, and then Sarah Sanders allegations. But she will not say that the president has actually denied it directly to her.
And so, we can safely assume that the White House press secretary has not sat down with the president to talk about Stormy Daniels. And we can safely assume that the White House press secretary has never heard the president deny what Stormy Daniels says about him. And no one in the White House press corps should ever allow anyone in the White House briefing room the say that the president has denied these allegations because he has not.
Here is the same White House press secretary talking about president Trump after he launched a Twitter attack against MSNBC`s Mika Brzezinski.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: I think he`s been very clear that when he gets attacked, he is going to hit back. I think the American people elected somebody who is tough, who is smart and who is a fighter. And that`s Donald Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: She is very proud that he hit back at Mika Brzezinski.
Well, the people who voted for hitting back are having to wait longer than they`ve ever had to wait before for Donald Trump to hit back, to hit back at Stormy Daniels or at Stormy Daniels` lawyer, Michael Avenatti, who has been very effectively insulting the intelligence of Donald Trump and Donald Trump`s lawyers.
Here is Michael Avenatti last night on this program.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS` ATTORNEY: That was a catastrophic mistake on their part and the reason it is because -- and I don`t want to get too far down in the weeds. But under the Federal Arbitration Act, which is what the federal court is going to apply when determining whether to send the case to arbitration, we get expedited discovery relating to whether there was an actual agreement. And we`re entitled -- we are entitled to a trial on that issue.
O`DONNELL: So you get discovery. You get Donald Trump under oath in a deposition discovery just on the matter of was there an agreement?
O`DONNELL: Oh, boy. OK. That`s a trap. That sounds like a trap to me.
AVENATTI: Right. So, so we laid that trap. And they stepped right in the center of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was me learning something on TV. It doesn`t happen that off. But Michael Avenatti has taught me a few things.
Friday night on HARDBALL, Michael Avenatti told Chris Matthews that he was firing a warning shot, quote, to Michael Cohen and any other supporter of the president and to the president himself. A warning shot, Michael Avenatti says, right at the president himself. And all those Trump voters who Sarah Sanders said voted for someone who is going to hit back are still waiting because Donald Trump is terrified of Michael Avenatti. And he is terrified of Stormy Daniel, just terrified.
Here is more from the White House press briefing today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: You also could him a counterpuncher many times. Why has he not punched back on this one?
SANDERS: Look, the president -- I didn`t say he punches back on every single topic. If he did, he would probably be addressing a lot of the stories that most of you write every single minute of every single day. He also has a country to run and he is doing a great job with that. Sometimes he chooses to specifically engage and punch back, and sometimes he doesn`t.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: As I told Rachel, the wall behind us here is a partial, partial list of the names the president of the United States has found the time to punch back at, as Sarah Sanders would put it. Stormy Daniels` name is not there. Michael Avenatti`s name is not there.
The president certainly has the time to tweet attacks against both of them, but he now knows that if he publicly calls Stormy Daniels a liar, Michael Avenatti has a defamation lawsuit ready to go against the president of the United States. And Michael Avenatti will have yet another legal avenue for getting the president of the United States under oath in a legal deposition about what he really did with Stormy Daniels.
But there is a way to make all of this go away. An easy way the make us all stop covering the Stormy Daniels story. Donald Trump could simply drop the litigation he has brought against Stormy Daniels. He could drop the case. He could order Michael Cohen to just rip up the confidentiality agreement completely release Stormy Daniels from the confidentiality agreement and then Stormy Daniels goes away, because after all, the confidentiality agreement prevents her from saying what she has already said twice, once in an extensive interview with "In Touch" in 2011, and once again this weekend on "60 Minutes."
Donald Trump and Michael Cohen are now engaged in a pointless lawsuit to try to prevent Stormy Daniels from saying what she has already said on "60 Minutes" in a video that is now going to live forever. We will be allowed to replay that "60 Minutes" video forever. The Stormy Daniels "60 minutes" interview will be seen by historians 100 years from now. Nothing can be done about that now.
The Federal Election Commission will move very slowly, as it always does, on of the contribution Michael Cohen, in effect, made in the last week of the presidential campaign by paying Stormy Daniels $130,000 to stay quiet about candidate Donald Trump.
The only thing that`s keeping this story alive on a daily basis now is that the president of the United States has taken legal action in federal court against Stormy Daniels to stop her from telling the story that she has already told. And that makes absolutely no sense. Any good lawyer would tell Donald Trump now to drop his case against Stormy Daniels -- unless, unless Donald Trump knows that Stormy Daniels still has something that she can reveal about him that is even more dangerous to him than what she has already said.
Joining our discussion now, Ron Klain, the former chief of staff to Vice Presidents Joe Biden and Al Gore, a former senior aide to President Obama. He`s also a former chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee and he was chief of staff to Attorney General Janet Reno.
And we`re joined by Dahlia Lithwick, who writes a law column for Slate.com, and host of the podcast "Amicus".
Ron, I just want to go to you on this legal matter that I`ve raised, which is this is civil litigation. Anyone, any party to civil litigation could end it at any time by just kind of going long with what the other side wants. It can just be stopped, if it`s bleeding you, if it`s more than you can stand.
It makes utterly no sense for the president to continue with this litigation trying to silence Stormy Daniels now that she has already spoken, unless Donald Trump knows that she`s got something much, much worse.
RON KLAIN, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Yes, Lawrence. I mean, I do think Michael Avenatti, as you said on your show, has laid some powerful legal traps for Donald Trump. But I also think you don`t need to be like the legal Davy Crockett to trap Donald Trump. I think he is his own worst enemy here.
There are two possibilities, right? One is the one you mentioned, which is that Stormy Daniels has some things, some evidence, some proof that the president`s trying to suppress. The second is that there are other women out there who we haven`t yet heard from who also signed NDAs, who also were pressured by Michael Cohen and the Trump Organization not to tell their stories, and the Trump lawsuit is an effort to fire a warning shot at them.
But I absolutely agree that there is some unknown thing, some unknown person, some unknown piece of evidence that Donald Trump or Michael Cohen must be trying to suppress because their strategy makes absolutely zero, zero sense otherwise.
O`DONNELL: Dahlia, I just wanted to stay with this for one round as a legal matter, because I think a lot of the audience doesn`t understand how this works in civil litigation. You know, in criminal litigation, you`re charged with a crime. It`s not up to you how this thing goes. You can plead guilty. That`s your only way to shorten the process.
But civil litigation is in effect, it`s two people who have both decided I`m going to fight this in court. I mean, Stormy Daniels can drop out any time she wants. Donald Trump can drop out any time he wants.
Clearly, there has been more damage done to Donald Trump in this case than to Stormy Daniels. There is no financial end of the road here for the Trump litigation. I mean, they`re saying we want to get $20 million from Stormy Daniels. She doesn`t have it. The only thing you could ever get if you`re successful is a sheriff in Texas auctioning off her house some day with every TV camera in the world watching Stormy Daniels and her daughter become homeless.
That`s not going to happen. There is nothing that`s going to happen at the end of this road for Donald Trump that erases the "60 Minutes" interview which is already out there.
DAHLIA LITHWICK, SLATE.COM: And I think to boot, the cost to him.
O`DONNELL: Cost to him.
LITHWICK: Goes so beyond. You`re right. The worst thing that happens to her is there is a huge financial cost.
The worst thing that happens to Donald Trump is perjury trap, Clinton. You know, it is a whole mess of other women coming forward. And I thought one of the most interesting things that Michael Avenatti said to you yesterday was, now, we`ve amended our complaint.
LITHWICK: We now have the power. We`re in it now, even if they walk away. So I think that it is so important that as the stakes go higher and higher for Trump, they`re flat for Stormy Daniels. Nothing worse can happen than what we can imagine happening.
O`DONNELL: And so, Ron, I think we come back now to your point which I think is vital which is that Michael Avenatti has said -- first of all, he said after "60 Minutes," six more women came forward with confidentiality agreements. Now, he is saying it`s eight. He hasn`t checked them out all. But people saying they have Trump confidentiality agreements. They want the talk to Michael Avenatti about getting out of those or what they can do.
And so, that would be the other possible thing that Donald Trump is worried about is how many are out there. Is it 100? You know, this was boilerplate confidentiality agreement apparently that Michael Cohen had ready to go whenever they needed one.
KLAIN: You know, it is telling that right now, Donald Trump has more lawyers working for him to suppress women`s stories than he has working for him to defend him in the investigation of whether or not he colluded with Russia on the 2016 election. That tells you a little bit about what thing he is worried about more. And so, we don`t really know what`s yet to come.
As you said, Michael Avenatti said he`s heard from other women. We dent know how many there will be. We don`t know how many Trump signed up to these nondisclosure agreements.
But I do think that is what is motivating the Trump strategy here. It is a bit of trying to, you know, erect some kind of dam to prevent the dam from bursting. And every day this goes on, you know, the water gets higher and higher and higher for President Trump.
O`DONNELL: So, Dahlia, he does not have a criminal defense lawyer working for him tonight, while he is being investigated by a special prosecutor for obstruction of justice. But he does have a really great civil attorney harder in California who is representing him on this Stormy Daniels case. And when you look at the deploying of legal resources, he`s got his best legal resources on the Stormy Daniels case as of tonight.
LITHWICK: Yes. And we haven`t heard anything from his attorney on the Stormy Daniels case.
O`DONNELL: Yes, he doesn`t say a word.
LITHWICK: At the very least we can say we hear an awful lot from his lawyers on the Mueller probe. So, again, we know how they`re allocating their attention. But I actually think, and this is so important, whenever Trump gets mad about Russia, he says it`s a witch-hunt. It`s not true. It`s not true.
I think he can`t comprehend what he is on the hook for there. Here, I think part of the reason he is not talking is he knows quite well what it is to pay a woman to lie.
O`DONNELL: Yes, he -- this is a case that he completely understands. And, Ron, you know, one of the things that`s been said about the confidentiality agreement which Michael Avenatti brilliantly has made public by attaching it, to his initial civil complaint it is has issues of paternity in there.
And Michael Avenatti has said, look, the paternity issue has nothing to do with Stormy Daniels. He wanted to clarify, yes, that was in the confidentiality agreement. But he thinks it was just boilerplate. So, does that mean that paternity is a boilerplate issue in repeated Trump confidentiality agreements with repeated women, and in how many of those confidentiality agreements was it actually an important issue?
KLAIN: Yes, I mean, look, it`s clear that in Michael Cohen`s office, there must have been a big stack of these forms ready to go in bulk, because this was some kind of boilerplate form that they had ready and that they signed Stormy Daniels up to on the eve of the 2016 election. And as you said, in some ways, the most serious legal issue here is how did Michael Cohen pay $130,000 to Stormy Daniels, which he completely implausibly contends he paid out of his own pocket as some kind of favor to Trump and wasn`t reimbursed, wasn`t paid by the campaign.
It`s just -- I mean, I know a lot of lawyers. I`ve never seen a lawyer do that.
And so, they clearly were ramped up for this. They clearly expected multiple women to come forward. We don`t really know how many. But this was not a one off here, not one incident, or not even the two incidents of the two women we have seen on TV lately. They were prepared for many people to come forward with these kinds of claims.
O`DONNELL: And, Dahlia, if paternity is a boilerplate item in Donald Trump confidentiality agreement with women he`s had sex with, that would legally include, prevent the woman from making any reference to whether Donald Trump created any paternity issues, and also would prevent any reference to was Donald Trump in any way involved with or paid for an abortion for this woman.
LITHWICK: I think that`s correct. I think the aim here is to cover the waterfront, and to stop any of that from coming out. I think, again, Michael Avenatti has done such a stupendous job of this performance art of there`s DVDs and there is other stuff. And, you know, we might have something here.
I think that part of what is so destabilizing about this is that he is playing Donald Trump`s kind of truthiness game. We don`t exactly know what`s going on. But he is playing it better than Donald Trump.
O`DONNELL: Well, Donald Trump surely knows if he has other confidentiality agreements with other women with who he had sex with, where there really was a paternity issue and whether he -- was involved in an abortion or paid for an abortion. He would know. He has figured it out that that would be the nuclear revelation that could occur in any one of these cases. He must know that.
LITHWICK: I think he knows that. And I think he also knows the minute he is deposed, he can`t go for two minutes without saying something that is factually untrue. I think that the nuclear option is going to be the minute he gets deposed. He is going to say something, even if it doesn`t get to your abortion scenario. He is going to say something that`s just false.
O`DONNELL: Well, if he gets deposed about the confidentiality agreement, he will be asked about paternity under oath by Michael Avenatti.
Dahlia Lithwick, Ron Klain, thank you both for joining us. Really appreciate it.
KLAIN: Thanks, Lawrence.
LITHWICK: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: So, guess who is paying for wall now. Mexico refused to pay for it. Congress refused to pay for it.
Donald Trump has a new idea. The people he wants to pay for it are rich. Hint, they wear uniforms. But also coming up, members of Congress in both parties seem increasingly worried about Robert Mueller`s future.
We will be joined by two members of the House Intelligence Committee who are trying to protect Robert Mueller`s job.
O`DONNELL: Tonight, Republican Senator Thom Tillis and Democratic Senator Chris Coons, the two senators who last year introduced actual legislation to protect special prosecutor Robert Mueller`s job, released a statement calling on President Trump to let Robert Mueller`s investigation proceed, quote, without impediment.
The senators said, quote: The American people should have confidence in the Department of Justice ability to conduct independent investigations and its commitment to the rule of law. We urge President Trump to allow the special counsel to complete his work without impediment, which is in the best interests of the American people, the president and our nation.
And now, nine Democrats in the Senate Judiciary Committee have sent letters to high-ranking Justice Department officials saying we ask that you publicly commit to refuse any order or request whether expressed or implied to interfere in the special counsel`s investigation, including but not limited to firing Mr. Mueller, cutting off fund organize resources, limiting staffing, or inhibiting his ability to follow the facts wherever they may lead and hold those accountable who may have broken the law.
Joining us now: Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell from California and Democratic Congressman Mike Quigley from Illinois. They`re both members of the House Intelligence Committee.
All right. Congressman Swalwell, you`ve been a federal prosecutor. What do you make of this attempt in the direct communication with high-level Justice Department officials to preserve Robert Mueller`s job?
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA: It`s critical right now, Lawrence. We`re at a period of the investigation where it looks like by the witnesses that Bob Mueller and his team continue to interview, that they are getting closer and closer to the president. And this is a very fragile time for the investigation in that the president has told the world, has telegraphed that he wants Bob Mueller gone. And he has allies in Congress who seem to be OK with it.
And so, the best thing that we can do right now is to cement Bob Mueller`s role legislatively. There is legislation to do that on the Senate and on the House side. We should all come together and say that this investigation is important. Not only to hold anyone criminally accountable for what happened in Russian interference, but to show the Russians that we are united and that we will make sure that whether it`s a Russian or an American, if you work to interfere in our election, you will be held accountable. And you`re not going to allow further chaos to occur in our democracy.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Quigley, the Republicans on your committee basically have shut down your committee`s investigation. The Mueller investigation is always running in the background with more powers than any of the congressional committees have had, their subpoena powers, their ability to compel testimony. Now with your committee shut down, it seems to emphasize much more even clearly than ever before the importance of the Mueller investigation.
REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D), ILLINOIS: You know, absolutely. I think Eric and I both signed discharge petitions in the last week asking that this legislation hit the floor to protect the Mueller investigation.
You know, where is leadership? It`s clearly not going to come from Chairman Nunes or the Republicans on the Intel Committee. It has to come from Mr. McCarthy. It`s going to have to come from the speaker of the House.
They`re going to have to step up and put legislation on the floor. And not just issue a few stray statements that they`re concerned about this, or the investigation has to go on. Clearly, this administration did everything it could to obtain power. And clearly, right now, they`re going to do anything they can to maintain that power.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Swalwell, the Judiciary Committee, we got nine Democrats writing those letters. It`s not that long ago that I can imagine in the Senate if something like this happened, it would have been a bipartisan letter from the chairman and the ranking member or it would have been signed by all the members of the committee.
But they do have Thom Tillis, at least. They do have one Republican senator. And that seems to be a different -- a slightly different dynamic from what you`ve encountered in the House which seems purely partisan in the House.
SWALWELL: That`s right, Lawrence. If right now what you`re seeing in the House, it was a road, it would be the president speeding recklessly down it without a stop sign or a cop on the beat. That`s the environment that we are in.
And, you know, I don`t think the Russians ever would have imagined in their wildest dreams that in addition to getting the preferred candidate they wanted elected by helping Donald Trump, that they would also see in our Congress a complete inability to tell the American people how we were so vulnerable, who was responsible, whether the government response was adequate, and to see any reforms be made to prevent it from happening again. And they have somehow achieved that.
And so, that`s why we have to unify. It`s not to only hold Donald Trump and his team accountable if there are criminal violations, but also to show the Russians that we`re unified and we`re going to put up a shield against any future efforts.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Quigley, what do you hear from your Republican counterparts in the cloakroom when the microphones are not on about the possibility of the president firing the special prosecutor, especially with polls out now, recent polls showing the country overwhelmingly supports the special prosecutor finishing his job?
QUIGLEY: I think my Republican colleagues agree with the majority of American people. They want to protect the Mueller investigation. They understand what it means to the rule of law. And, again, you`re seeing a few stray statements, some of them very strong.
Unfortunately, some of those very strong statements come from the Republicans who are leaving the House. So, where is the profiles in courage at a time when this country needs it most? They can get out of this without totally offending their base by saying let the Justice Department do its work.
But right now, where is the House? They`ve shut down the investigation of what Russia did, yet they continued to investigate their own government. That tells you where they`re at.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Mike Quigley and Congressman Eric Swalwell, thank you both for joining us. Really appreciate it.
SWALWELL: Thanks, Lawrence.
QUIGLEY: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, we have breaking news, which is actually breaking history. North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un made a secret visit to China, his first visit outside of North Korea since taking power. And that`s where he confirmed through the Chinese government that he is willing to meet with President Trump.
And Trump voters are growing to love who Trump wants to pay for the wall, as long as they are not in the military or related to anyone in the military or care about anyone in the military.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: History was made today in Beijing when the Chinese government announced that North Korea`s dictator Kim Jong-un had made a secret visit to Beijing from Sunday to Wednesday. Kim Jong-un`s trip was not publicly revealed until Kim was on his way back to North Korea, or perhaps even safely back in North Korea. Kim traveled to china on this train, which reaches a top speed of only 37 miles per hour because it is heavily armored to protect Kim from an attack.
It is the first time North Korea`s dictator has left North Korea since he took power in 2011 when he was 27 years old. Kim does not leave North Korea for two reasons. First, he is not welcome in most of the world. And second, he is in constant fear of a coup, which is more likely to occur if he leaves the country. The Chinese government announced that Kim is willing to have talks with the United States and hold a summit.
This is the first confirmation that Kim is willing to meet with president trump since president trump announced that he is willing to meet with Kim. Tonight, the White House released this statement. The Chinese government contacted the White House earlier on Tuesday to brief us on Kim Jong-un`s visit to Beijing.
The briefing included a personal message from president xi to president trump, which has been conveyed to president trump. The United States remains in close contact with our ally, South Korea and Japan. We see this development as further evidence that our campaign of maximum pressure is creating the appropriate atmosphere for dialogue with North Korea.
Negotiations over nuclear weapons with North Korea will be at least as difficult as the Obama administration`s negotiations on the development of nuclear weapons with Iran. the Obama administration`s energy secretary Ernest Moniz writing an op-ed in "the Boston globe" today said with North Korea, our strategy should be don`t trust and verify, verify, verify, verify, verify.
Joining us now for an exlusive interview, Former United States Secretary of Energy, Ernest Moniz. He serves as CEO and co-chair of the Nuclear Threat Initiative.
Thank you very much for joining us.
ERNEST MONIZ, FORMER UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF ENERGY: Thank you Laurence.
O`DONNELL: A real -- real pleasure. I want to get your first reaction to the developments with North Korea today.
MONIZ: Well, frankly, I think that dialogue going on among the various parties, U.S., North Korea, South Korea, China is very encouraging. I would add Japan in that mix obviously. But we`ve been saying for some time that we cannot resolve the nuclear problem in Korea, in North Korea unless we address overall regional security issues because that in some sense is the basis of this nuclear program.
O`DONNELL: Give the president a briefing of what he`s in for in nuclear negotiations with North Korea.
MONIZ: Well, I think one of the issues, and you mentioned that op-ed that I just referred to, a certain parallel that certainly in the Iran negotiations, it`s a situation where the international community did not trust Iran in terms of nuclear weapons. And so, verification, intrusive verification was absolutely central to an agreement. There could not have been one without that. And I would say we achieved it.
Now you go to North Korea, if anything, there could be even less trust in North Korea. We`ve run that film before after all. And I might say that going back now a couple of decades; we have seen the results of not having a very strong verification regime. So my statement to the President is that denuclearization as some - as some goal in the future, we`ve heard that before.
What I think needs to be accomplished is to get an understanding that a serious negotiation between the U.S. and North Korea and other regional powers can only go forward on the basis of having a very strong verification regime, one that has never been the case before in North Korea. It wasn`t the case in Iran either for that matter. It is now.
But for a closed society, that will be a very, very difficult negotiation.
O`DONNELL: And Iran is an open society compared to North Korea.
MONIZ: Yes. Absolutely.
O`DONNELL: So what in -- in Iran, you were trying prevent the development of nuclear weapons. North Korea has them. So what is the difference in that kind of negotiation with a country that already has them?
MONIZ: Well, I think first of all, that supports the issue - the thrust that I already mentioned. I think in Iran, centering on the nuclear negotiation made sense to prevent a nuclear weapon. Verifiably. I have to keep saying verifiably. Whereas in North Korea they obviously have nuclear explosives.
So number one, the regional security postures is what has to be discussed. But secondly, I think that we could end up with something like -- talk about a freeze, for example. No nuclear tests, maybe no long-range missile tests going on. Well, we know how to verify that. That`s easy. But we can`t have time running forward while they might continue, for example, to develop more nuclear weapons material. That requires the kind of verification regime we have in Iran.
So that`s the task at hand. And again, I think the Iran deal provides a really good template for going forward on that.
O`DONNELL: What are the - what kind of people does the President need on obtaining negotiating this? President Obama, who was involved heavily himself, had Secretary Of State John Kerry. He had you, energy secretary, a nuclear scientist yourself. He had a large team involved in this with heavy expertise.
There is no secretary of state right now. There may not be a confirmed secretary of state by the time we get to this point with North Korea.
MONIZ: Well, I would distinguish what I presume to be discussions coming up between the President and the Korean leader from negotiations. I think that`s a different issue. And those negotiations certainly will take -- will take some time. I presume we will have a secretary of state at that time. However, we all know that it`s not only the top of the agency, you need depth. And that`s where at the Department Of State and many other departments, we may not have yet all of those senior positions filled that we need.
For example, at the department of state, the expert on Korea left the department of state about two months ago. To my knowledge, that expertise has not been replaced.
So I think the discussions are important. Frame future negotiations that includes the verification and other issues. And then - then get the team together as one goes into negotiations. I might add you but here clearly the issues of the American military posture in the -- in Korea and the region of Korea, Japan will clearly be an important part of the negotiation. So Secretary Mattis certainly has to have a big role in this as well.
O`DONNELL: What about your old department, the energy department, which is where the technical expertise residence for this. President Obama had you, former NIT Professor, Nuclear Physicist and President Trump has Rick Perry.
MONIZ: Well, the key here is to understand, Lawrence, that the you know, department of energy was involved deeply in the negotiations long before I was personally involved. I was involved in the discussions, you know, in the Security Council and the like. But the real depth comes in the programs and in the - in our national laboratories. Those teams of scientist and engineers were supporting the negotiators all the time. In the Iran situation --
O`DONNELL: Still in place?
MONIZ: Yes. Most of them are in place. And many of work in the national laboratories. They`re not at the Department Of Energy at all. Some are and they are largely career people in place. So I think the technical support can be there. The question is how you organize it and bring forward the team approach that I don`t mentioned to the negotiations.
And there is some staffing up still needed.
O`DONNELL: I would think so.
O`DONNELL: Former Secretary Of Energy, Ernest Moniz, thank you very much for joining us tonight on this important and historic night it turns out. Thank you.
MONIZ: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, trump voters are going to love who Donald Trump wants to pay for the wall with Mexico now. It`s a big surprise.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will have Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words. Mexico will pay for the wall. Believe me. And whose going to pay for the wall? Mexico. Mexico. 100 percent. 100 percent.
(END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: In his first month in the White House, President Trump surrendered to the President of Mexico on paying for the wall. And ever since, he has been trying to get Congress to pay for the wall with the Republican controlled congress has refused to do. The budget just passed includes over a billion dollars for repairing and reinforcing current fencing and secondary fencing on the southern border. And it contains none of the $25 billion that Donald Trump says he needs to actually build the new wall.
And now the President has a new idea. Now that mexico won`t pay for the wall and Congress won`t pay for the wall, he wants the troops to pay for the wall. American troops. Maybe take it out of the meager pay raise that the American military got in the budget bill. "The Washington Post" reports trump has suggested to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and congressional leaders that the pentagon could fund the sprawling construction, setting a national security risk.
After floating a notion to several advisers last week, Trump told House Speaker Paul Ryan that the military should pay for the wall. Ryan offered little reaction to the idea, according to the post.
On Sunday, President Trump tweeted, "Because of the 700 -- $716 billion gotten to rebuild our military, many jobs are created and our military is again rich. Building a great border wall with drugs, poison and enemy combatants pouring into our country is all about national defense. Build a wall through M exclamation point and Trump scholars have interpreted that capital M at the end of the tweet to mean military."
So the President says, "Our military is rich again." Those are his words. Rich means having more money than you need. Rich means having a lot more money than you spend. The military just got a 2.4 percent pay raise. And Donald Trump now thinks they`re rich. Rich enough to pay for the wall that Mexico refuses to pay for.
New York Times reports that at least 12 states say quote, "they would sue to block the Trump administration from adding a question about citizenship to the 20 census. California filed its lawsuit just hours after the Commerce Department announced the addition of that question about citizenship last night."
When we come back, Ron Klain will detangle the mystery of the Trump wall and what`s going to happen on the census.
O`DONNELL: It is very hard, maybe actually impossible for the White House Press Secretary to talk about anything without lying. Even the census.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From the census Sarah, what do you say to critics who argue this is a way to target immigrants, that it`s going to be fewer resources for immigrant communities.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY OF THE PRESIDENT: One again, I would argue that this has been practiced of the United States Government, the purpose is to determine individuals that are here. It`s also helps to comply with the voting rights act without that information. It`s hard to make those determinations and that information needs to be gathered and had has been part of the United States census, every time we`ve had a census since 1965, with the one exception of the 2010 census.
(END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Rod Klein is back with us. And Ron, I just -- I can`t fathom what the staff work is involved that leads to a lie like that about the census which has not had the citizenship question since 1950.
RON KLAIN, FORMER SENIOR AIDE TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: Yes. I mean it would be easier to count every person in the country than to count the number of lies in that statement by Sarah Sanders because I kind of list seven or eight but I lost that question has not been in the census since 1950, that means there are multiple census`s that have not included it. She`s referring to a different project. The biggest lie is this has anything to do with enforcing the voting rights act at all. We know that a train general sessions is a harsh opponent to the voting Rights Act, the idea that he wants to use this to enforce the voting rights act is about as realistic the idea he turns on the TV Saturday Night to see Kate McKinnon play him on SNL. It`s just not true.
And so, you know, that was just lie after lie after life. The goal is to discourage immigrants from answering the census to have them undercounted, to have them be underrepresented, to direct federal resources to other places. And I think it`s definitely wrong. It may well be legal and a bunch of states are taking them to court to prove that.
O`DONNELL: Yes. California`s already got them in court. And of course, if they can -- if the census can get the -- basically the count down in places like California, places like New York, you could end up losing a member of congress or two from states like that?
KLAIN: That`s right. I mean, I think California and New York, Texas could be impacted. It isn`t just representation. It`s federal dollars and it isn`t just dollars to immigrants, it`s dollars to communities where immigrants live. Schools will be cut. Hospitals will be cut. Roads will be cut. Bridges will be cut. This will have a huge impact.
And the funniest thing is, republicans like to say they believe in strict construction of the constitution, that our constitution, Article 1 Section 2 Clause 3 says, quote, "there has to be an actual enumeration of the people here in this country, all inhabitants, citizens and non-citizens in the census and what the republicans are doing flies in the face of that explicit constitutional provision."
O`DONNELL: And they were very specific about what applies to citizens, what doesn`t apply to citizens, that is something they were very conscious of. They were very conscious in those days of there being an awful lot of people in the country who were not citizens. So hey knew what they were writing when they were writing that in the constitution.
Ron Klain, I`m sure we`re going to talk about this more as time - as this case goes on. Thanks very much for joining us. I really appreciate it.
KLAIN: Thanks Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Tonight`s Last Word is next.
O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s Last Word and the last word is of course Stormy.
STORMY DANIELS: Of course, Miss Daniels fleshed out the story a bit, with a disturbing amount of flesh.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He turned around a pulled his pants down a little and he had underwear on stuff and I just gave him a slot. And from that moment on he was it a completely different person.
STEPHEN COLBERT: How so?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He stopped talking about himself and he asked me things and I asked him things and it became like you know, more appropriate.
DANIELS: A couple spanks and Donald Trump started acting more appropriate. John Kelly, you know what to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Stephen Colbert and Stormy Daniels get the last word. Coming up, more breaking news about North Korea, Malcolm Nance, joining Brian, The 11th hour with Brian Williams starts now.