Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O'DONNELL Date: March 29, 2018 Guest: Gene Robinson, Jim Messina, Barbara McQuade
LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
You know that sounds a little -- a little swampy, I have to say.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": Yes.
O'DONNELL: You know, actually living in a lobbyist's house.
MADDOW: It's not even a metaphor, like usually you say like, oh, like you're living in these guys house. Literally living in the house.
O'DONNELL: Yes, I have not heard of a closer relationship than that actually than -- you can't get closer than living in the house.
MADDOW: Yes, I mean, maybe if they were sharing clothes.
O'DONNELL: So, you seem pretty close to convinced that it wasn't the travel. The travel is not why Donald Trump fires people, expensive travel does not get you fired in the Trump administration.
MADDOW: Steve Mnuchin, Ryan Zinke and Scott Pruitt would seem to indicate that that's not a firing offense.
O'DONNELL: Yes, doesn't look like it.
O'DONNELL: Thank you, Lawrence.
O'DONNELL: The FBI has been investigating Donald Trump's attempts to do business in the former Soviet Union longer than we realized it turns out. In 2010, Donald Trump and his daughter Ivanka went to Riga, the capital of Latvia, where he explored the possibility of building a Trump Hotel. Trump abandoned the project after some of the people involved were questioned by Latvian authorities in a criminal investigation.
Latvia then asked the FBI to investigate Donald Trump's involvement. "The Guardian" is reporting tonight that Latvia made that official request for investigative help from the United States in February 2014. Latvia's request was described to "The Guardian" by two sources who have reviewed it but were not permitted to discuss in publicly, the Latvian authorities asked for Trump himself to be interviewed for their inquiry. According to the sources, at least one Trump Organization executive did speak with FBI officials and the company provided written answers to additional questions.
The U.S. did not formally respond until September 2015, the sources said. And, of course, by then, Latvian investigators were close to concluding their case and appear not to have pursued the link with Trump any further.
And also by September 2015, Donald Trump was running as a Republican candidate for president.
"Reuters" is reporting tonight that Attorney General Jeff Sessions is being investigated by the special prosecutor who's trying to find out exactly what Jeff Sessions and then Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak said in their conversations during the campaign, conversations that Jeff Sessions says he just forgot about when he was asked about contact with Russians during his confirmation hearing. Investigators have asked detailed questions about conversations that Sessions, then a Trump campaign advisor, had at a convention event attended by then Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergei Kislyak, said the first source who was questioned by Mueller about the event.
That same source tells "Reuters" that Robert Mueller's investigators asked whether Jeff Sessions had private conversations with Sergei Kislyak at a campaign speech then candidate Trump gave at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. in April of 2016. And here's a photograph of that event which includes Jeff Sessions and Ambassador Kislyak.
Another issue Mueller's team has been asking about is how and why Republican Party platform language hostile to Russia was deleted from a section of the document related to Ukraine, said another source who also requested anonymity. At one committee meeting, according to people in attendance, Diana Denman, a member of the platform committees national security subcommittee proposed language calling for the United States to supply lethal defensive weapons to Ukraine's armed forces and greater coordination with NATO on defense planning, but the final platform language deleted the reference to lethal defensive weapons.
After the convention, Denman told Reuters in 2016, J.D. Gordon, a Trump foreign policy advisor, told her he was going to speak to Trump about the language on Ukraine and the Trump's campaign team played a direct role in softening the platform language.
NBC News is reporting tonight that President Trump does not want anyone in the Trump administration to make any negative comments about Vladimir Putin, even when the administration takes steps to resist Putin. According to NBC News report, President Donald Trump's national security advisors spent months trying to convince him to sign off on a plan to supply new U.S. weapons to Ukraine to aid in the country's fight against Russian backed separatists, according to multiple senior administration officials. Yet when the president finally authorized the major policy shift, he told his aides not to publicly tout his decision, officials said. Doing so, Trump argued, might agitate Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to the officials, he doesn't want us to bring it up. One White House official said, it is not something he wants to talk about.
Officials tell NBC News that the divide between the Trump administration's actions and the president's public posture on Russia stems from, quote, stubborn refusal to be seen as appeasing the media or critics who questioned his silence or kind words for the Russian leader.
Joining our discussion now, Eugene Robinson, Pulitzer Prize-winning opinion writer from "Washington Post" and MSNBC political analyst, Nicholas Kristof is Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for `The New York Times", and Barbara McQuade, former federal prosecutor and professor of law at the University of Michigan. She's also an NBC News and MSNBC legal contributor.
And, Gene, I just want to go to you first on this reasoning we're seeing in the NBC report about why we never hear a word from the president about Vladimir Putin that isn't positive and it's that apparently he just doesn't want to give us that. He feels like that would be somehow a victory for his critics.
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I mean, step back for a second. This is clinically insane.
ROBINSON: You know, we're talking about foreign policy between the United States and Russia, right? I mean, you know, huge issue complicated -- anyhow, it makes no sense.
But in the context of Donald Trump, it's probably true. That's probably a big part of the reason he doesn't want to be seen to give in to the likes of you and me.
O'DONNELL: And, Nick, any other politician under suspicion of being too close to Russia would look for -- and to Putin, would look for every chance to get in the way of Putin, every possible chance, to create the counter image. Donald Trump clearly doesn't want to do that and he's telling his people that it would be too much of a concession to his critics, but he could do it playing the tough guy, he told his audiences, he's the toughest guy in the world.
So, there are all sorts of Trump characteristics that he could bring to play in the imagery of this, which he refuses to do.
NICHOLAS KRISTOF, THE NEW YORK TIMES: That's right. I mean, it was clear when the administration actually did supply or did agree to supply defensive arms to Ukraine, actually some of his aides, apparently in contravention to his orders, were making the point that this was actually a tougher move than the Obama administration had made. But apparently that - - I mean, it was a -- it was a perfectly good argument, but apparently, it was one he didn't want to make.
I would say though that I do think that there is a difference between that period and today and following the expulsion of Russia's latest moves, there really is a genuine concern about U.S. -Russia relations spiraling out of control. And so while his hesitation to say anything to speak about this truly was, as Gene says, just insane earlier.
Today, I understand it a little bit better. I mean, there is -- there is genuine reason to be concerned about both sides just escalating in ways that become truly, deeply problematic.
O'DONNELL: Barb McQuade, I want to take a look at some of the new investigative elements that have been made public today, working backwards from Latvia, which takes us back years of showing the president's interest in doing business with in the Old Soviet sphere and it turns out the FBI got called in to that deal.
BARBARA MCQUADE, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, you know, as I understand it, that deal occurred or the conversations about that deal was in 2010 and then it never materialized. So, it may be, here we are in 2018, that it's beyond the statute of limitations to ever charge that as part of a Mueller.
But nonetheless, I would imagine that there is interest in that for a number of reasons relating to Trump's finances -- who is he accepting money from, who has leverage over Trump to this day, who might be a potential blackmailer, and just looking at the exchange of money. So, I think even though that is unlikely to materialize as a charge, I think Mueller's team would be interested in just learning more about that transaction.
O'DONNELL: And, Gene, tonight's "Reuters" report takes us back to the beginning of this investigation, saying that Mueller's interest in what happened at the Republican convention in Cleveland, Ohio, in July 2016 is an indication that Trump campaign contacts and actions related to Russia remain central to the special counsel's investigation.
ROBINSON: Right. It's -- it always keeps coming back to Russia, and as Barbara said it comes -- he's coming back to the cast of characters, however many characters there might be in there.
And, you know, I think Mueller wants to look and probably is looking at what Russian has the Trump organization done business with over the years, who were the people involved in that failed Latvia transaction, other transactions, attempts -- for projects involving Russians, including the Moscow Tower, the Trump Tower in Moscow, that sort of thing.
And as we know, Mueller has attorneys on his staff who are expert at tracing these kinds of money flows and connections.
O'DONNELL: And, Nick, you have the Attorney General Jeff Sessions basically the focus of an investigation of exactly who said what to whom between Jeff Sessions and Russians, including the Russian ambassador. And this is something that Jeff Sessions has dealt with and dealt within a kind of additional appearances of the Judiciary Committee after his confirmation hearing.
And in terms of news cycles, there's been moments where it felt like, OK, Jeff Sessions has put this behind him, but it's never been resolved.
KRISTOF: Exactly. I mean, it keeps coming back and now we enter and I think much better the context of which that was happening, that Russia was repeatedly trying through a whole number of people to reach the Trump campaign and to reach President Trump or candidate Trump himself. And, you know, this -- the thing that there's also just mind-boggling about this is, of course, that during the campaign and after President Trump was elected, they repeatedly said that there have been zero contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia.
And I remember Vice President Pence saying around the time of the inauguration that, of course, there were no contacts, why would there be contacts. Well -- and now we know there were more than 60, and the more you look, you know, the more they are. It's like these Russian little nesting dolls, you know, they're keep finding more.
So I have a feeling we're didn't even microscopes to keep on finding.
Barbara, as a Justice Department veteran, I want to ask you about what must be just incredible institutional tensions. Here you have a special prosecutor who wants to know exactly what the attorney general said to someone, in this case Russian ambassador, what that person said to the attorney general, what other conversations the attorney general might have had during the course of the presidential campaign and possibly yet other times that are relevant to this investigation.
The attorney general now knows and is probably known already that the special prosecutor working under him in the diagram of the department is investigating him. FBI agents are investigating the attorney general. This is something that most people in the FBI have never experienced. Most, you know, people in the Justice Department have never experienced anything like this.
MCQUADE: Yes, it's a very significant matter. It's the very reason we have a special counsel because no one else really can investigate the boss, and so, the special counsel is empowered to do that. And, you know, I don't know that the mere fact that he's investigating these particular reported contacts means that there's truth to them. It means that Jeff Sessions was involved in collusion in any way.
But I think any responsible prosecutor would have to take that step. We've all heard reports about it. Finally, somebody is looking at it very carefully and will resolve one way or another whether these contacts happen and whether they were inappropriate.
O'DONNELL: And, Gene, it's just another one of those moments that double underlines how important it was for Jeff Sessions to recuse himself, something that the president still doesn't seem to understand.
ROBINSON: It was, especially since he never resolved the question. And so, you know, and still, you know and I know that still Donald Trump is burning over that, he's still angry at Jeff Sessions on some level for not being in his view loyal, which would have meant not recusing himself.
But, obviously, he had to do it and he did what he had to do.
O'DONNELL: And, Nick, let's just do the thought experiment for a moment. The special prosecutor investigating an unrecused attorney general, who he is reporting to whenever the attorney general wants to know how things are going, he's allowed to just check in with the special prosecutor and say and check things out how things are going. Imagine if this attorney general had not been recused.
KRISTOF: Yes, I mean, this is completely underscored exactly why we need a special counsel and it -- why it would be a catastrophe if he ends up as I think a lot of us fear being removed.
O'DONNELL: Well, Barbara, what about that? If the attorney general is removed, what would then occur? It would take some time to get a new attorney general confirmed, but who would then be running the Justice Department?
MCQUADE: Yes, you know, down the road, there'd have to be somebody presidentially appointed and Senate confirmed. But in the meantime, there could be an acting attorney general and that's where I worry about some mischief being afoot. It could be somebody who is you know currently the number three. I think Noel Francisco, the solicitor general, is the obvious choice.
But under the Vacancies Reform Act, the president could actually choose anyone who's presidentially appointed and Senate confirmed right now. So, people like Scott Pruitt or Betsy DeVos, he could put someone like that in there on an acting basis for a short period of time, and I worry about what might happen during that duration from approval or disapproval of certain matters that Robert Mueller brings to bear to the firing Robert Mueller.
O'DONNELL: And, Gene, it's impossible to imagine someone being put in there as acting that way without a specific understanding with this president about exactly what to do in the first hour.
ROBINSON: You know, that's what that's what you have to fear. Look, I'm still trying to get past the Barbara suggestion of Betsy DeVos.
ROBINSON: The attorney general, I might have to lie down.
O'DONNELL: We're going to have to leave it there.
Nick Kristof, thank you for joining us tonight.
Coming up, David Hogg is one of the lucky ones. He's one of the lucky students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, who survived a mass murderers attack, so that he can now be attacked by Fox News. And tonight, advertisers are pulling out of Fox News because of the attack on David Hogg.
And today, at a speech in Ohio, the president returned to his old crowd- pleasing trademark.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You're fired. Get out of here!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'DONNELL: But he apparently is afraid to actually say that to the people he actually does fire. The Veterans Affairs secretary says the president didn't say a word about any firing the last time he spoke to him, which, of course, was the day that he got fired.
O'DONNELL: In the Trump administration, this is what your last day of work is like.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: When is the last time you spoke to him?
DAVID SHULKIN, FORMER VETERANS AFFAIRS SECRETARY: I spoke to the president yesterday.
HAYES: What was that conversation like?
SHULKIN: We spoke about the progress that I was making, what I needed to do from a policy perspective to make sure that we are fixing the issues in V.A. Very focused. He was very inquisitive about the things that we were working on, making sure that we were focused on the job at hand.
HAYES: Wait, that's before you were fired?
SHULKIN: That's correct.
HAYES: You spoke to him, he made no mention of the fact that he was about to terminate you?
SHULKIN: That's correct.
HAYES: And then you found out via tweet?
SHULKIN: Yes, right before that, the Chief of Staff Kelly gave me a call, which I appreciated, he gave me a heads-up. And so -- but that was much after the phone call.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'DONNELL: White House Chief of Staff John Kelly was able to squeeze in a warning yesterday to the Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin that he was going to be fired by tweet in a couple of minutes. But John Kelly was squeezed out of the firing of national security adviser H.R. McMaster.
According to Bloomberg, quote, Kelly wasn't with the president last week when Trump abruptly decided to oust H.R. McMaster and replace him with John Bolton. Just two people were in the room for that decision, Trump and Bolton.
And Kelly is rarely on the line anymore when Trump calls foreign leaders. Last week when Trump spoke with President Vladimir Putin, Kelly wasn't on the call. Donald Trump seems to think that all of this is the opposite of chaos.
"Bloomberg" reports that Donald Trump is told confidence that the White House is the opposite of chaos portrayed in the media. With White House communications director Hope Hicks leaving her job this week and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly apparently becoming increasingly irrelevant, the president is beginning to wonder if he needs a chief of staff or a communications director. Some outside advisors are telling the president that he doesn't need a chief of staff or a communications director. According to a CNN report, the option has been planted in Trump's mind and he's not rejected it outright.
Joining the discussion now, Jim Messina, the deputy chief of staff for President Obama from 2009 and 2011, and campaign manager for President Obama in 2012. Also joining this discussion, Amy Siskind, the author of "The List: A Week-By-Week Reckoning of Trump's First Year".
First of all, Amy, parenthetically, an extraordinary book. It is the most easily readable book I have ever held in my hands. You simply flip it open to any page and you get this astounding list of the crazy, insane things that happened in Trump world on a particular day.
Jim, I want to go to the White House. Imagine if you will a White House without a chief of staff, a White House without a communications director, and really seriously how different would that be?
JIM MESSINA, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF: Not very different.
O'DONNELL: This kind of what it's been, right?
MESSINA: This is like an episode or a sequel to "Home Alone", right? He's just by himself making these decisions. He's firing people, you know, everyone's like who's the next communications director? Lawrence, what does it matter? He's doing the job himself and that's why you have the chaos that you're seeing.
We've had four communications directors. We're in our third national security adviser. This is just unprecedented and it's getting worse not better.
O'DONNELL: And, Amy, John Kelly was brought in to control the chaos, to make this place sensible and stop the leaking. The leaking got worse, the chaos got worse. I have seen not a single day where it seems to have made any positive effect to have John Kelly around.
What difference does it make?
AMY SISKIND, AUTHOR, "THE LIST": Trump is seizing power now. I mean, it's slowly happening when you look at my list week by week that he's getting rid of people or bringing in insiders. It's becoming like the Trump Organization where he's basically surrounded by sycophants and the "Fox and Friends" cast.
His desire and if you look at the last few weeks, he's unilaterally taking action. There's no rhyme or reason to our policy and the Obama administration. It was well thought out you would lay out a plan. One week, we're having China tariffs. One week, tariffs again you know steel and aluminum.
It's whatever, you know, his friends talk to him about the night before or just something to change the subject. There's just no plan, no vision. He's just feels now you can sense it that he is in control and there's no checks and balances, the legislative branch is doing nothing to stop him.
O'DONNELL: And, Jim, there's a huge difference between the image he still tries to convey by doing the trademark "you're fired" out there on the stage today, but the very same man, the very same man, is actually afraid to say that to a human being in real life.
MESSINA: It is unbelievable. I mean, the guy calls up his secretary and instead of firing him like he did every week on TV for 10 years, he pulls the punch and has someone else do it.
You know, apparently, it's -- you can't fire anyone and he can't be mean to Vladimir Putin. Those are the two things for a strongman president who like his defining himself by his strength, he's showing incredible weakness in really weird places.
O'DONNELL: Amy, yours is what may be the first history reference book written during the Trump administration because one of the points of your book, the point of your book is to say this is not normal, we are losing track, there's too many things in a given day. You know, a day with 11 extraordinary things that have never happened before is getting lost because of some other thing -- some tweet or something like that and you're trying to hold on to every one of these things and leave this record of what you now call the list.
SISKIND: Yes. So what's happening each week is in the chaos the week before is gone and there's a lot of things going on that are not getting any coverage as he controls power, which is what's happening to the environment, what's happening to marginalized communities and women are rights and protections being taken away, information disappearing. But that's all part of what happens in an authoritarian regime. So, if you follow the rise of other authoritarians, this is an old playbook even if new to our two fragile democracy.
And I think we're learning that -- what we learned in high school history that there were checks and balances, these were more norms than laws and there's nothing right now stopping him short of the election in 2018 flipping into Democratic control. And if we have a fair election, I mean, I think we -- you know, there's nothing under way that would assure us that we will.
So, I think we're now at a point where things are escalating pretty rapidly. We don't have a state department. Eight out of the top ten key roles are either are vacant and one of the one of them that is filled is filled with the "Fox and Friends" co-hosts.
So, Trump has taken on diplomacy, too. He's meeting with Kim Jong-un. He's sending South Korea officials to tell our country that he's meeting with Kim Jong-un.
And so, it's basically one person running our country right now and the Republicans refused to put him in check.
O'DONNELL: Amy Siskind, Jim Messina, thanks for joining discussion tonight.
Up next, advertisers are once again fleeing Fox News. The advertisers drove Bill O'Reilly out of his job. What will happen now to Laura Ingraham?
And the Trump battle with Stormy Daniels and the Trump lawyers keep making mistakes that Stormy Daniels lawyer has to thank them for.
LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Fox News pushed the panic button today on Laura Ingraham at exactly 1:06 p.m. At that point, only one advertiser had had public ally announced the decision to pull out of her show after she ridiculed David Hogg on Twitter. He's the 17-year-old senior who is a familiar voice on this program and at the March for our Lives on Saturday in Washington.
He's a senior of course at major Stoneman Douglas Parkland High School. David survived the mass shooting at his high school in Parkland, Florida on February 14th. And as a student reporter, he's been eloquent in leading the campaign for gun safety laws. Yesterday Laura Ingraham ridicule David Hogg for having been rejected for some colleges this year. Now there are 20 million college students in America. Almost all of them have been rejected. David Hogg's case is typical.
He's been accepted at some colleges, rejected from others. The only reason why know that is that David Hogg has publicly spoken about it. When asked how he was getting in the aftermath of the tragedy he has mentioned some of the normal things that he's going through at this point in this life and even though grieving and organizing a movement. And one of those things was getting college rejection letters. He's mentioned it with modesty and humility.
In her tweet yesterday Laura Ingraham said he was whining about it. Laura Ingraham fired off her insulting tweet at David Hogg at 11:45 A.M yesterday. Last night on Twitter David Hogg suggested that advertisers should boycott Laura Ingraham show. She had no reaction to that. And as outrage continued to mount overnight and today she had nothing to say.
And then 25 hours after she so bravely fired off her insulting tweet about David Hogg, Laura Ingraham tweeted this apology. Any student should be proud of a 4.2 GPA, including David Hogg. On reflection, in the spirit of Holy Week, I apologize for any upset or hurt my tweet caused him or any of the brave victims of Parkland. I'm sorry.
We kind of lost our spot here. Parkland -- then she went on to talk about having David Hogg on the show. We can skip past all of that, we don't need any of that. OK. And so it took her 25 hours. 25 hours of reflection to decide to apologize. And she was apologizing not because one advertiser had already announced a boycott of her show.
She was apologizing because it's Holy Week, and on reflection, in the spirit of Holy Week, I apologize is what she said. OK. What if it wasn't Holy Week? Laura Ingraham continued to lose advertisers after the apology. Trip Adviser said in our view these statements focused on a high school student, crossed the line of decency, as such we have made a decision to stop advertising on this program. Nutri said we are in the process of removing our ads from airing on this program as the comments she has made are not consistent with how we feel people should be treated.
WayFair said the decision of an adult to personally criticize a high school student who has lost his classmates in unspeakable tragedy is not consistent with our values. Nestle said we have no plans to buy ads on the show in the future. David Hogg was not impressed by the apology. And he told the New York Times she only apologizes after we went after his advertisers.
The only reason Laura Ingraham has a show on Fox News now is because the prime time lineup was blown up last year when Bill O'Reilly was forced out of the network not because he was a repeated and constant sexual harasser who paid tens of millions of dollars in settlement fees to his victims, including $32 million to one of them, Fox News knew about that, they kept him on the payroll. They had absolutely no problem with that.
The only reason Bill O'Reilly had to be kicked out of Fox News is his advertisers turn on him every day more and more advertisers turned on him and said enough is enough. We covered the fight of the advertisers fleeing Bill O'Reilly's show every night on this program when that was happening and when Bill O'Reilly was finally driven out. It was clear anyone could be driven out of Fox News if enough advertisers turn on them.
So what Laura Ingraham was doing today, after what she called reflection, 25 hours of reflection, was following her boss' orders to save her job. If David Hogg can continue to drive advertisers away from Laura Ingraham's Show then she will not survive. The timing of Laura Ingraham's apology, the wording of Laura Ingraham's apology has no credibility as a real apology. So she might have to try apologizing again.
And next time, I would suggest, in the spirit of Holy Week as she would put it, as an act of contrition, she could release her college rejection letters. When we come back Gene Robinson and Jim Messina will consider the political power of David Hogg and the other young leaders of the March for our Lives. They just taught Fox News another painful lesson. Is the Republican Party next?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN DEITSCH, SENIOR, MAJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS PARKLAND HIGH SCHOOL: As far as colleges and everything, I've gotten several rejection letters, I've gotten some acceptances, too. But I don't know where I'm going to be in November.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'DONNELL: That was Ryan Deitsch. He's a senior at Majory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. And he is alive today because he hid in a closet while 17 people in his high school were gunned down by a 19-year-old mass murder who was able to buy an assault riffle in Florida to carry out that attack. That was Ryan speaking on this program Friday night in Washington the night before the March for our lives.
And Ryan is one of the lucky ones. He's one of the kids at Majory Stoneman Douglas High School whose still alive. And he knows it makes him one of the lucky ones. It also makes him one of the students that Fox News might choose to the attack at any moment. Gene Robinson and Jim Messina are back with us for this discussion. And Gene we've seen a version this before with Bill O'Reilly.
I just want to throw up an image of all the advertisers who we created a wall for this back when we were covering the O'Reilly crisis at Fox News. And we put up a full screen of every one of the advertisers, which is over there if our cameras can find it. Yes. And it kept building every night, Gene. Just kept getting bigger, bigger, bigger. We have eight have pulled out of the Laura Ingraham Show. Seven of them after her apology which they have obviously judged to be inadequate.
GENE ROBINSON, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yeah, that's right. You recall, during the O'Reilly episode this did tend to snowball. Now that was happening at the sort of me too moment. This is the moment of the kids from Parkland, I think. And the fact that Laura Ingraham made this gross -- I was going to call it an error.
It was an atrocity really, an obscenity what she did, the way she criticized a young high school student who had been through that sort of trauma, or any high school student in that way on Fox News. but the fact that she went there is just an indication of the extent to which these students and this movement have gotten under the skin of the far right and sent them to some sort of def-con 1 level of panic over the impact they're having, I think.
O'DONNELL: Jim, you know, Fox people have always considered the other side of the debate an enemy. And so you know they've done plenty of attacks on people like me, and that's one thing. I don't know most of them, I don't notice them.
JIM MESSINA, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: They don't like me much either.
O'DONNELL: Right. OK, fine. But they are so in that habit, that it never crossed Laura Ingraham's mind because this is her currency. This kind of ridicule. This kind of wise guy stuff is her currency. This is what she traffics. Never crossed her mind there was a single thing wrong with it. And she had 24 hours to stare at it and couldn't find anything wrong with it until the advertisers started to go.
MESSINA: Yes, look she's a bully. And that's what Fox News is, they bullies. And for the first time in a very long time a bunch of really smart kids took to social media and punched the bully in the face. And I think the interesting thing in the next 24 hours you just read the list of eight companies that have gotten rid of them, gotten rid of her, but there are seven who haven't, including AT&T, All State, Liberty Mutual what are they going to do, right?
The pressure on them is going to be unbelievable. And it feels like this moment Lawrence, once or twice in a generation you can see American politics just flip on its head. We saw this on the gay marriage issue where literally the poll numbers changed in five years. This feels like that moment for gun control.
And these kids are leading and they're doing it all online, all on social media. And folks like the NRA who are Traditional White Washington lobbyists, can't cope with it. And I think you're right Laura Ingraham panicked, lashed out and is paying a very dear price. And, you know, I'm not a betting man but I'd go to Vegas tonight and bet she doesn't have a show next week.
O'DONNELL: Well Gene Fox News, her bosses at Fox News they've been through this. She hasn't. They went through it -- Rupert Murdoch went through this with Bill O'Reilly. He knows how this wave works. He knows how quickly you have to try to do something about it because they didn't move quickly enough and had actually had no idea what to do in the case of O'Reilly. What are you going to do, apologize to the women he's already paid tens of millions of dollars to O'Reilly couldn't figure out a word to say under the circumstances and Fox couldn't figure out how to save him.
ROBINSON: Right, example. So you figure the next step is probably another Laura Ingraham apology, if she gets a chance to do that, and I assume she will because clearly the first one did not have the impact. So now these other companies that Jim mentioned have to decide which side are they going to be on in this story. And I think that, you know, probably more are going to decide they want to be on the side of the kids who were viciously attacked.
O'DONNELL: I want to take another look of the honor roll of advertisers who have left Laura Ingraham. It's Expedia, Hulu, Nestle. Nutrish, Trip Adviser, Way Fair, Johnson & Johnson, Stitch Fix. And Jim this is what we use to every night on the Bill O'Reilly coverage putting up the new names, the companies leaving them up there since they're no longer advertising at this very same hour on Fox News. I'd like to just leave them there and let them get some viewer exposure as we discuss this for minute.
O'DONNELL: And -- but Jim, Laura Ingraham, in her apology, it struck me so that she had to reach out to the religious right, to remind them I'm on your side remember, and she framed her apology as something she was doing in the spirit of Holy Week. She invoked religiosity into her apology. By the way, left open the question of OK, there's 51 other weeks, what would have happened on those weeks?
MESSINA: Right and it's so obviously transparent, right? This isn't about Holy Week. This is about anything. This fiasco is just about one thing, and that's money. When the sponsors started walking she had no choice. Instead of being honest and saying I screwed up and this is terrible, she had to drape herself in religion to exactly as you say remind her base don't leave me. I am yours. I need your help right here.
And it's so transparent and I just don't think it's going to work because you know these right wingers are picking a fight with 17-year-old kids and they know how to fight back and they know how fight back on social media much faster. And what's going to happen tomorrow if I work for any of these companies I'm going come to work and say if we don't fix this by noon we're in deep trouble.
O'DONNELL: Jim Messina, Gene Robinson, thank you both for joining us, really appreciate it.
Coming up, President Trump has a lot of lawyers, so-called lawyers fighting Stormy Daniels, they don't sound like lawyers because they keep getting President Trump in more and more trouble in the Stormy Daniels case.
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MEGYN KELLY, JOURNALIST: Why would he pay a 130 grand of his own money?
DAVID SCHWARTZ, WRITER: the truth is he loves the boss.
KELLY: He did it out of love.
SCHWARTZ: He did it -- he did it out of love and he did it out of loyalty, OK?
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O'DONNELL: The man getting laughed out when describing Michael Cohen's love for Trump is David Schwartz. He has introduced repeatedly on television as Michael Cohen's lawyer. He is not.
He has not filed a legal appearance in the Stormy Daniels Lawsuit against Michael Cohen. Attorney Brent Blakely is actually Michael Cohen's lawyer. Charles Harder is Donald Trump's lawyer which is to say David Dennison lawyer since David Dennison is remember this always is alias that the President of the United States uses in confidentiality agreements with women. That's right. The President has an official legal alias, David Dennison. David Schwartz the guy you just saw has become simply the person who speaks for Michael Cohen on TV since Michael Cohen seems to have finally realized that he is terrible with that himself. The trouble is his friend David Schwartz. is at least as bad as Michael Cohen and has made it much more likely that confidentiality agreement will Stormy Daniels be ruled invalid.
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SCHWARTZ: The President was never aware of the agreement or at least Michael Cohen never told him about the agreement. I could tell you that.
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O'DONNELL: The judge of the Stormy Daniels case denied a motion to expedite, speed up depositions for President Trump and Michael Cohen but indicated in his ruling that those depositions can go forward after other preliminary steps are taking. The judge simply said that asking for the depositions now are premature. Barbara McQuade is back with us. And Barbara Here you have Schwartz saying that the President knew absolutely nothing. David Dennison, Donald Trump whatever you want to call him knew absolutely nothing about this confidentiality agreement with Stormy Daniels and therefore could not possibly have been a party to it and yet Donald Trump in his own name is trying to Federal Court to enforce it.
BARBARA MCQUADE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. As other experts have pointed out, today if President Trump or David Dennison did not know about the existence of this contract then he could not have entered into it and it therefore is unenforceable. So the comments that the lawyer is making about the unawareness of President Trump of even the existence of this is illogical and may render the contract unenforceable to free Stormy Daniels to tell her story as she wishes.
O'DONNELL: And Michael Avanatti has pointed out as have others that there are passages in the judge's ruling in which the judge points very clearly to how this can indeed go to court assuming you reach certain impasse points in trying to resolve it all with arbitration.
MCQUADE: Certainly. And you know the judge wrote a fairly lengthy opinion which wasn't necessary. He could have summarily denied it. But I think understanding the great public interest in the case it went very pain stakingly through it and talked about all of these things.
First it's just premature. The Trump defendants have time to full-time to file their answer. That's not due until April 9th at the very earliest. They then have indicated that they plan to file a motion to enforce the arbitration provision. That hasn't happened yet.
And so but the judge did say that the motion for the deposition was denied without prejudice. That means the parties can bring it again. And so after those other events occur the lawyer for Stormy Daniels has said he plans to file that motion and at that time it will be ripe. And it seems to that it on a path for a judge to perhaps grant that motion for deposition.
O'DONNELL: Barbara McQuade, thank you very much for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.
MCQUADE: Thanks Lawrence.
O'DONNELL: Tonight's last word is next
O'DONNELL: Time for tonight's last word.
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CONAN O'BRIEN, TV HOST: Despite everything that's been going on in the past couple of weeks, despite everything President Trump's approval rating has gone up to 45 percent. Yes. Up to 45 percent, yes. Ladies and gentlemen, at this rate he is two porn stars away from being reelected. Think about it.
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O'DONNELL: Conan O'Brien gets tonight's last word. And coming up more on how the Trump White House deals with the President's refusal to criticize Vladimir Putin. One of the NBC News Reporters who broke that story will join Brian. The 11th hour with Brian Williams starts right now.