THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: April 4, 2018 Guest: Eric Swalwell, Ruth Marcus, John Nichols
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
So, Tuesday, who will the national security advisor be? Will John Bolton clear the -- get the ethics clearance and take the job or will H.R. McMaster sit there until Bolton clears or never clears? Or what? What`s next?
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, TRMS": Well, you know, if it were any job other than national security advisor or any potential conflicts other than hey, maybe you`re in the middle of the Mueller counterintelligence investigation you might expect they clear whoever it is through. I think the prospect that you`re going to have a counterintelligence investigation problem for two of your three national security advisors while the Flynn one is still resonating. Flynn is still awaiting sentencing. I think the John Bolton situation is a real question. We`ll see.
O`DONNELL: And there`s always the possibility of a pardon discussion in the White House for Donald Trump`s first national security advisor, and would the current national security advisor be part of that discussion?
O`DONNELL: The things to imagine.
MADDOW: Yes, and who clears the security clearance? Yes.
O`DONNELL: All of that, yes.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Well, in the mini series about Robert Mueller`s investigation, there are going to be a lot of dramatic scenes in airports and a lot of different airports. It seems that Robert Mueller`s FBI agents are doing a lot of their work in American airports. They first secretly arrested George Papadopoulos when he got off a plane at Washington Dulles Airport in July.
And tonight, "The New York Times" is reporting that in February, federal agents stopped Joel Zamel, an Australian entrepreneur, at National Airport in Washington and briefly seized his electronic devices.
"The Times" is also reporting tonight about four weeks, FBI agents working with Mr. Mueller`s stopped a Russian oligarch at a New York area airport, questioned him about his dealings with Mr. Trump and seized his electronics, according to a person familiar with the matter.
And Ted Malloch, a Trump campaign advisor, was stopped at Logan Airport in Boston when he returned from an international trip. FBI agents reportedly took his cellphone and questioned him about Roger Stone and WikiLeaks.
And George Nader became a cooperating witness after he was stopped at Dulles in January. George Nader is emerging as a more and more complex figure in the investigation, with connections stretching from the United Arab Emirates to Russia. "The New York Times" has new reporting on the extent of George Nader`s connections with Russia.
Nader is a Lebanese-American businessman who used his Russian connections to set up what has become to close followers of this drama, the famous meeting in the Seychelles between Trump transition adviser Erik Prince and the manager of a state-run Russian investment funds. People familiar with the meeting have now told "The New York Times" that its purpose was, quote, in part to explore the possibility of a back channel between the Trump administration and the Kremlin.
According to "The Times", Mueller`s investigators have been pressing, quote, for details about a meeting Mr. Nader attended in New York in early 2017 with Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon at the office of the hedge fund manager Richard Gerson, a friend of Mr. Kushner`s. At the time of that meeting, Kushner and Bannon were White House advisors to the president. One focus of the investigation is whether any Russians illegally funneled cash donations into the Trump presidential campaign and inauguration.
And there are new developments surrounding Roger Stone`s contact with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. "The Wall Street Journal" reported that in an e-mail dated August 4th, 2016, Mr. Stone, wrote, I dined with Julian Assange last night, according to a copy of the message reviewed by "The Wall Street Journal." On the same day that Roger Stone sent that e-mail, August 4, 2016, he appeared on the right-wing conspiracy show Info Wars, saying that Julian Assange has proof of scandals at the Clinton Foundation.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
ROGER STONE, FORMER TRUMP ADVISER: Let`s remember that their defense in all of the Clinton Foundation scandals has been not that we didn`t do it, has been, you have no proof. Yes, but you have no proof. Well, I think Julian Assange has that proof and I think he`s going to furnish it to the American people.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: In that same appearance, Roger Stone said that he spoke to Donald Trump the day before, which was exactly the same day he says he dined with Julian Assange.
Joining us now, Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell from California. He`s a member of the House Intelligence Committee.
Also with us, Barbara McQuade, a former federal prosecutor and professor of law at the University of Michigan. She`s an NBC News and MSNBC legal contributor.
And Matt Miller, a former spokesman for Attorney General Eric Holder, and an MSNBC contributor.
And, Congressman Swalwell, I want to begin with what we were just learning about Roger Stone. He writes an e-mail saying he dined with Julian Assange. The next day, he goes on a show and talks about -- the day after he says he dined with Julian Assange, he was on a show talks about what he expects Julian Assange is going to reveal, something about the Clinton Foundation and scandals.
What do you make of where Roger Stone is now fitting into this story?
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA: Good evening, Lawrence.
It certainly appears that every tree that you shake in the Trump forest, a Russian falls out of it. And we learned more and more today about that. I first believe that Roger Stone did have foreknowledge about what the Russians were going to do. He was in communications with Guccifer 2.0. A Russian cutout that was used to disseminate Hillary Clinton`s e-mails and he was very close to Donald Trump.
So what I hope bob Mueller`s team gets to the bottom of, which is something that the House Intelligence Committee was not because the Republicans impeded us, was to find out what knowledge Donald Trump had about what Roger Stone knew, because if Donald Trump had knowledge that Roger Stone was aware of what the Russians or Julian Assange was doing, then that changes everything and that would explain a lot about some of the cryptic messaging that Donald Trump was putting out, that there would be information about Hillary Clinton that will be forthcoming or continuing to invite the Russians to hack Clinton`s deleted e-mails.
And so, I`m encouraged that Bob Mueller`s team is moving as fast and as they are and as doggedly as they are, and hopefully, Roger Stone sits in their witness chair very soon.
O`DONNELL: And Congressman Adam Schiff, who`s the top Democrat on your committee, said about the Roger Stone e-mail, he said that it makes it very clear that the Republicans ended the probe -- your investigation -- too early because Stone never gave that e-mail to the committee. There was -- was Stone subpoenaed for that e-mail or any documents?
SWALWELL: Again, this is the problem with our investigation was Stone, like many others, was not required to turn over all of the documents that he possessed, the communications he had, his travel records, bank records. We ran a take them at their word investigation. These individuals as you can see are not worthy of being taking at their word, you have to subpoena. Like they did with -- like the FBI did with Papadopoulos and George Nader, you have to confront them with outside evidence and hopefully get to some measure of the truth.
And so, if our -- investigations are not complete by the time that hopefully we win the House, we may be in a position where we have to do the investigation all over again so the American people know who should be held to account.
O`DONNELL: And, Barbara McQuade, Roger Stone has offered his defense about that e-mail saying he dined with Julian Assange. His defense is it was a joke. How does that joke play?
BARBARA MCQUADE, MSNBC LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, if it`s a joke, it`s not particularly funny. Although it seems unlikely that he had dinner with Julian Assange, in light of the logistics of Julian Assange being in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
But nonetheless, it does seem to suggest he had contact with Julian Assange. They don`t have to meet face-to-face to have contact. They can speak by telephone, by some other communications device, by text, direct message or other means.
So, I don`t know that it was literally true, but it seems coincidental he has this information, he`s publishing this information, and to not have spoken to Julian Assange. So, I`m sure Robert Mueller is trying to get to the bottom of that, of what kind of coordination there was between Roger Stone and WikiLeaks and as the congressman said with President Trump himself.
O`DONNELL: Matt Miller, it turns out the TSA, aren`t the only agents at the airports these days. Airports in the northeast from Washington to Boston are crawling with FBI agents when Russian oligarchs are getting off the planes or anyone else Robert Mueller is interested in.
MATT MILLER, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, it`s an extremely aggressive set of steps by the special prosecutor. And one of the things I think people don`t realize, it`s a great place to approach these witnesses because when you come through customs, when you come through immigrations, FBI agents don`t need a search warrant to seize your phone, to seize your computer and get access to them.
It`s a great, and if you want to ask witnesses question, they`re, of course. there without their attorneys, no one is obligated to ask questions, but these are people who are not American citizens these witnesses because when you come through customs, immigrations, FBI agents don`t need a search warrant to seize your phone or get access to them. They`re there without their attorneys, if these are people who are not American citizens they can be turned around and put on a plane back out of the country. It`s an aggressive step and a good way to catch the witnesses off guard. And you`ve seen it in a number of instances now.
O`DONNELL: And, Barbara McQuade, with your experience as a federal prosecutor leading investigations, talk about the advantages that you have with people at airports, even leaving aside those extra rights you have in dealing with them in the international zone of an airport, but just the very fact that while you know exactly what door they`re going to walk out of it, it`s a lot easier than say, staking out an office building.
MCQUADE: Yes, you know, for a couple of things, it really reduces the risk to meet someone at the airport. Number one you know when they`re going to land and arrive. So, you don`t have that element of surprise or the fear they`re going to panic, and use a weapon and there could be something dangerous.
The other thing is to the extent that these are not American citizens, this could be the only opportunity to talk with them and even serve them with a subpoena, or interview with them. You now, we can`t serve people all around the world, only those in our borders for court process. So it eliminates that risk that they might leave tomorrow, they might leave later today if we don`t have this opportunity to talk to them. So, I think in addition to the strategic advantages that Matt talked about, you eliminate risks of physical danger and danger you might not catch up with them.
O`DONNELL: And, Congressman Swalwell, I know you were also a prosecutor, so we have a wealth of prosecutorial knowledge to draw here. I want to get your take on the Manafort case today. This is a separate case where Manafort is trying to sue to contain the scope of the Mueller investigation claiming the scope has gone too broad.
And they reached a point in the day where the judge said to Mueller`s lawyers, I don`t understand what is left of your case. And I have to say, Congressman Swalwell, I`ve been in a lot of federal courtrooms, a lot of other courtrooms, that`s a rare comment from a judge.
SWALWELL: Yes, well, Lawrence, I worked as a county prosecutor in Oakland, California, but the tactics were very similar to achieve our objects. You know, I believe with Paul Manafort, you know, there is an overwhelming amount of evidence that he had prior relationships in the business world and political world with Ukrainians and people connected to Russia. He sought to hide those relationships from the U.S. government. And so, you know, ideally, he would cooperate and also assist us in knowing what Donald Trump`s knowledge was.
But also, Lawrence, the best thing these witnesses can do at this point is come clean. Bob Mueller`s team, they`re demonstrating they`re going to find out. They`re going to get to the bottom of your B.S. story, whether it takes weeks or months to subpoena your outside records. They`re going to put you in that chair and they`re going to confront you.
And if you lie to them, you`re going to be charged with a false statement. If you cooperate, things could go much better for you. But if you did something, this team is going to find it and that`s a good thing and that`s a good message if Bob Mueller can do his job, to send to the Russians we`re not going to tolerate this.
O`DONNELL: And, Matt Miller, the Seychelles meeting comes into focus more and more. I remember when it first started to get mentioned, it was one of those things that wasn`t easy to keep tract in your heard of where it fit. But, clearly, Robert Mueller is zeroing in on it as the place that it seems that the Trump administration was trying to establish a back channel to the Kremlin and that back channel is what Robert Mueller wants to open up.
MILLER: Yes, you`re right, Lawrence. When this story first broke about a year ago, I think last spring, and other pieces broke earlier this year, it was one of those stories that everything looked fishy but it was hard to explain what was going on. The more we learned about it, the more disturbing it is. All the players involved, there are some of the sketchiest characters in this entire story. You have George Nader who have been convicted of child pornography, who was there representing the United Arab Emirates. You have Erik Prince there representing the Trump administration, the notorious former CEO and founder of Blackwater.
And one of the things that -- you know, a couple of things that don`t make sense about this meeting, why was the Trump administration eager to set up a back channel with the Russian government. They were going to be in the White House in just a few weeks. There are many ways for both the transition and the administration to talk to the Russian government without having a secret backchannel.
And the second thing is, why did everyone involved in this lie about it? We know that Erik Prince when he went before Congressman Swalwell`s committee didn`t tell the truth about this nature of the meeting. And it leads you to ask, if it wasn`t on the up and up, if there wasn`t something they needed to conceal, why not just tell the truth?
O`DONNELL: Barbara, that`s a great point because the Seychelles meeting could just be something that they ended up getting tripped up and got into legal jeopardy by lying about it. And the meeting itself might not have that much critical potential in it, but more and more, it seems to be clearly the back channel that Robert Mueller is going for and the team`s belief, possibly, that within that back channel is what they need to find out about the Trump relationship to Russia.
MCQUADE: Yes, I think that`s right. You know, the fact that people lie about things could be a crime in itself. But more often, it`s a red flag because it suggests a consciousness of guilt, that you`ve done something wrong and that`s why you`re trying to cover it up.
You know, the second time we heard about this back channel, there was also the report that Jared Kushner had discussed seeking a back channel. And so, if there`s a back channel, what is it they wanted to talk about that they couldn`t talk about overtly. And so, I`m sure that`s something that piqued the curiosity of Robert Mueller and he wants to find out what was it they wanted to discuss that they didn`t want the intelligence community to know about.
O`DONNELL: Barbara McQuade, Matt Miller, and Congressman Eric Swalwell, thank you all for joining this first round of discussion. Thank you, appreciate it.
We will be joined by the winner in another surprise election loss for Republicans in a state that President Trump won.
And the Trump trade war is only going to make things worse in that state and other agricultural states for Republicans.
And the president`s national security advisor broke with the president today but he has less than a week left on the job.
O`DONNELL: Devoted viewers of the weather channel know that a category three hurricane has winds up to 129 miles per hour. A category four goes up to 156 miles an hour. And a category five is anything and everything above 156 miles per hour.
Now, those are all deadly, destructive winds depending on how you get hit by them from category three to category five. Category five for sure, category four for sure.
And that is how Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is now describing what Republicans are facing in this year`s congressional election. He told his paper in his home state of Kentucky. This is going to be a challenging election year. We know the wind is going to be in our face. We don`t know whether it`s going to be a category three, four or five.
So, he just knows it`s going to be deadly. And he doesn`t know how deadly.
The Republican leader of the House of Representatives is so afraid of how big the blue wave is going to be that Paul Ryan hasn`t even announced that he will campaign for re-election for his own congressional seat in Wisconsin, which last night was the scene of the latest demonstration of the power of the big, blue wave. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is leading his Republican members into their re-election campaigns without announcing whether he himself is going to run for re-election to his seat in Wisconsin.
This is shockingly late on the election calendar for a speaker of the House to leave his members guessing about whether he is confident of his own election in his home district. And Paul Ryan has more to be afraid of today than yesterday after last night`s victory by Rebecca Dallet in the election for an open seat on the Wisconsin supreme court.
Rebecca Dallet will join us to tell us how she did it and it was not a squeaker. She beat her conservative opponent by 12 points.
Last night, Republican Governor of Wisconsin Scott Walker tweeted tonight`s results show we are at risk of a blue wave in Wisconsin. Then he had to throw in a little speech about the far left is driven by anger and hatred, we must counter it with optimism and organization. Let`s share our positive story with voters and win in November.
The trouble is, Republicans did share their story with voters last night and they lost last night in Wisconsin. It`s the first time a Democrat won an open seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 23 years and what did Paul Ryan, the Republican speaker of the house from Wisconsin tell his troops today to bolster their confidence? Absolutely nothing. Not one word from Wisconsin`s own Paul Ryan about this major upset for Republicans in Wisconsin last night.
Joining our discussion now, John Nichols, national affairs correspondent for "The Nation" Magazine, and Ruth Marcus, deputy editorial page editor and columnist for "The Washington Post."
And, John, you`re joining us from Wisconsin tonight?
JOHN NICHOLS, THE NATION: I am joining you from Madison, Wisconsin.
O`DONNELL: From Madison, Wisconsin.
All right. So, tell us what happened in Wisconsin. This is, by the way, is the second time the Republicans have seen an upset in an election in Wisconsin and the second time that Scott Walker has warned Republicans about a blue wave.
NICHOLS: Sure. What happened last night was something quite remarkable. As you noted in this officially nonpartisan race for state Supreme Court, you saw the candidate who was backed by unions and progressives, and essentially Democrats beat the candidate who was aggressively backed by Scott Walker, the NRA and a lot of business interests. It was a clearly defined race.
And the interesting thing in Wisconsin is over the last quarter century really, the Republicans, the conservatives, have figured out how to win these races. They`ve gotten very, very good at winning not just open seat races but occasionally beating an incumbent who`s more progressive. And so, for Scott Walker, this was supposed to be an easy one. Instead last night was devastating.
It wasn`t just that Rebecca Dallet won by 12 points, as you pointed out, it was that she won in a campaign in which she very clearly established herself as a more progressive thinker than her opponent and also where she took on the NRA. She objected to her opponent`s strong embrace of the NRA. And she won 36 -- we`ll see how the final counting goes but she won roughly half the counties in the state. That mean she won urban counties but she also won a lot of rural counties. She won about two dozen counties that voted for Donald Trump.
O`DONNELL: Ruth Marcus, what do you make of the speaker of the House being silent about a big election outcome in Wisconsin?
RUTH MARCUS, DEPUTY EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR, THE WASHINGTON POST: If you don`t have anything useful to say to your troops, why say anything at all? Look, it is always a risky moment for the party of the incumbent president in the off-year election. It`s traditional to lose seats.
When the president has the approval ratings of this president, I know he tells us they`re historically high and better than cheating Obama or whatever he called him the other day. But come on, not true.
It is not going to be based on history and based on current reality. It is not likely to be a very good year for Paul Ryan`s troops. So what does he have to gain by saying anything about Wisconsin`s Supreme Court race?
O`DONNELL: John Nichols, is Paul Ryan being pressed by local media in Wisconsin on the question of is he going to run for re-election to his seat?
NICHOLS: Yes, increasingly when he`s available. One thing to understand about Paul Ryan is that he is increasingly out of the circuit. He does still do events in his district, there`s no question of that, but they tend to be more closed. He doesn`t do the traditional town hall meetings.
Once upon a time, Paul Ryan was one of the most accessible political figures in Wisconsin. Media had an easy time getting to him. People in his district saw him a lot. That`s not true anymore. It`s part of what`s giving him political trouble in the state.
But it`s also a function of what he`s going through. I think he`s really wrestling with the position he`s in. I expect he`ll run for reelection, but he has not said it yet which is remarkable.
O`DONNELL: Ruth, I want to put up a map created by your paper, "The Washington Post," of soybean production in the United States. This is, of course, relevant because China fighting back against the Trump tariffs is saying they`re going to put a tariff on the soy bean production and we see, that goes right into -- that is going to affect Wisconsin and the states that swung the Electoral College for Donald Trump and before we -- let`s switch to the map of corn production in the United States, which is also going to get hit with Chinese tariffs and it also covers a similar area, and that is the sweet spot of how Donald Trump wins the Electoral College.
But it`s also a possible effect in the 2018 congressional elections once these tariffs have an effect, if they go into effect.
MARCUS: Sure. And glancing at the screen, it seemed like the only really sort of surprise and critical Trump state that isn`t affected there is Pennsylvania. I don`t think there`s a lot of soybean production in Pennsylvania.
And I think that`s one reason why you`re hearing some anxiety from people like the Senate majority leader, talking about tariffs, talking about where this could lead because the answer is not necessarily any place good for the economy, and not necessarily any place good for Republicans in those districts that could be hit by the tariffs.
O`DONNELL: So, category three, four or five, according to Mitch McConnell, depending on how high the tariffs get.
Ruth Marcus, John Nichols, thank you both for joining us, really appreciate it.
NICHOLS: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Up next, we will be joined by the winner of that Wisconsin election. She will join us next. Her win just increased Republican re- election fears.
Also coming up, one of the president`s senior advisers, national security advisor, has broken with the president, but he only has a few days left on the job.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: And here`s the winner last night of that big upset victory in that state-wide race for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REBECCA DALLET, U.S. JUDGE: I`m glad to say we won this race and I`m headed to the Supreme Court. Tonight we proved that when the people rise up and stand together, we can beat the special interests. We beat the NRA. We beat the millions of dollars that were spent on this race flooding into our state.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was Rebecca Dallet in her victory speech last night. And Rebecca Dallet joins us now from Wisconsin, having been elected to a 10- year term on the Wisconsin state Supreme Court.
Thank you very much for joining us on your first national interview about this. I just want to get into the role the NRA played in this campaign, and what was -- what were you saying about it and what was your opponent saying about it?
DALLET: Well, thank you, Lawrence, for having me. My opponent was endorsed by the NRA within 24 hours of the Parkland shooting, and I believe that that caused a lot of national attention to be drawn to this race. When we talk about the NRA right now, and as a parent of three daughters in high school and college, we talk about families like mine being afraid of having their kids in school. And my opponent vowed to protect the firearm freedoms of the NRA. They sent out mailers to that effect, and I think Wisconsinites were very concerned with that.
O`DONNELL: As a political matter in Wisconsin, what were the risks for you in taking on the NRA?
DALLET: Well, we have a situation in Wisconsin for the last decade, the years that I`ve been a judge, where we`ve had special interest money pouring into these Supreme Court races. And money like groups like the NRA and other business lobbies and other groups. And that money has been buying justice or a justice.
We`ve then had Supreme Court Justices, like the one I announced against Justice Gableman sitting on cases that involve parties that spent that money and refusing to step off of those cases and then ruling in favor of those groups that spent the money. Wisconsinites have seen that this isn`t fair. And they`ve lost confidence in our courts. And I think this win was a win for Wisconsin and a win against special interests like the NRA trying to buy our courts.
O`DONNELL: You also had some outside help from Eric Holder and (PACs) that he was organizing and supporting. How important was that in your win?
DALLET: Well I was grateful to have help of groups like Eric Holder`s Group. The difference between me and my opponent, I made the statement and promise to my voters that any group that spends money significantly on my race, I will not hear the cases involving those groups should they come in front of the court. And I think that`s a big difference of what means we`re going to have fair and independent courts in the eyes of the voters.
O`DONNELL: This is a 10-year term, so you`re going to be wielding influence on that court for a long-time to come. This is what makes it such an important race. And at what point did you feel -- let me put it this way, did you know you were going to go over the top by 12 points?
DALLET: It`s hard to know. I knew that going around the state my message really resonated with voters. And I traveled our state far and wide since June 1st. And my message was one of experience. I`ve worked in our courts for more than 23 years, standing up for victims in some of the toughest cases of rape and child abuse, both as a prosecutor and a judge, and I spoke out against the special interests that have really bought our courts or appeared to buy our courts for the last decade. The message resonated with voters and I was hopeful they would turn out, which they did in great numbers last night.
O`DONNELL: What would you say to democrats who are concerned about standing up to the NRA in some of their congressional districts around the country? Some of them want to but feel it might be too politically risky?
DALLET: Well, I think we all need to talk about fairness and independence, especially in our courts. And when we have special interest money that is influencing and taking the place of the people, we all need to stand up to that. We`ve seen in this country, as we all know, this real interest on the part of our young people. And one of my daughters helped lead the walk out in her school. I participated in the March For Our Lives with my other daughter. We`ve seen the interest taken in safety and gun violence prevention. It`s a national conversation that I think everyone needs to be a part of.
O`DONNELL: Wisconsin State Supreme Court Justice-Elect Rebecca Dallet, thank you very much for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.
DALLET: Thank you for having me.
O`DONNELL: Thank you. Well, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster got a knock in on his boss, Donald Trump, on his way out the White House door.
O`DONNELL: Donald Trump could have been a radio sports announcer like Ronald Reagan was before the invention of television. In those days, you had to get the score right but you could miss plays or make up stuff as a football radio announcer because no one could see what you were talking about. Television changed all that. But for Donald Trump, it doesn`t matter what you can see.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, United States President: Nobody`s been tougher on Russia than I have. And you can -- I know you`re nodding yes because everyone agrees, when they think about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: No, no one in that room was nodding yes. And no one in that room agreed with him. He was speaking to a roomful of reporters. And the President`s National Security advisor doesn`t agree with him either.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
H.R. MCMASTER UNITED STATES NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: Russia brazenly and implausibly denies its actions and we have failed to impose sufficient costs. The Kremlin`s confidence has grown as its agents conduct their sustained campaigns to undermine our confidence in ourselves and in one another.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was yesterday, same day that Donald Trump said no one`s been tougher on Russia than Donald Trump. That was H.R. McMaster`s final speech as President Trump`s National Security Advisor. And he said exactly what he knows Donald Trump did not want him to say. He is not a member of the Trump Administration to publicly say he is -- there`s no member of the Trump Administration to say he`s not done enough to stop Russia. Here`s what the President`s Director of the NSA, Michael Rogers, said in February.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL ROGERS, UNITED STATES DIRECTOR, NSA: I believe that President Putin has clearly come to the conclusion there`s little price to play here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bingo.
ROGERS: And that therefore I can continue this activity. Clearly what we`ve done hasn`t been enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The White House Press Secretary was hit with tough question -- a tough question today. Does the president agree with his National Security Advisor that we failed to impose sufficient costs on Russia? Simple question, yes or no. A yes or no question with maybe an explanation after the yes or the no. But the Trump Press Secretary as usual decided that the way out of the corner that H.R. McMaster painted her into was to simply lie about what H.R. McMaster said and move on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is he agreeing with McMaster that we have failed to impose sufficient costs on Russia?
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: What McMaster actually said is we`ve been very tough on Russia. He echoed the President`s message that he said yesterday during the press conference with the Baltic leaders that no one has been tougher on Russia than this President.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion Richard Clark, a Senior White House Adviser to three Presidents on issues of cybersecurity and counter terrorism. He`s the author of the book "Warning, Finding Cassandras to Stop Catastrophes." Richard Clark, what do you make of H.R. McMaster saying very clearly the exact opposite of what the President was saying on the same day?
RICHARD CLARK, MSNBC CONTRIIBUTOR: Now, Lawrence, this is a remarkable speech and I actually urge viewers to go on the White House website and read it. It`s that important. Apparently, you can only tell the truth in the Trump Administration when you`re running out the door. Tillerson did a little bit of that, and now McMaster is in saying definitively that the Russians have done the nerve gas attack, the cyber attack in Ukraine, the penetration of our electric power grid and saying definitively, quote, "We have failed to impose sufficient costs, and therefore they will do more."
It`s a remarkable speech. It`s a speech that a President of the United States should have given about what the Russians have done and the entire pattern of Russian aggression. But there`s been a strange silence from the president who should have given the speech. So McMaster gave it on the way out.
O`DONNELL: I want to listen to a little bit more of what McMaster had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCMASTER: Mr. Putin may believe that he is winning in this new form of warfare, he may believe that his aggressive actions in the parks of Salisbury, and Cyberspace, in the air and on the high seas can undermine our confidence, our institutions and our values. Perhaps he believes that our free nations are weak and will not respond, will not respond to his provocations. He is wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: But is he wrong? Is Putin wrong to think that the United States is weak in its response?
CLARK: No, Putin`s exactly correct in thinking that we`re weak in our response. The President has not turned ever to his National Security Advisor -- any of the ones he`s had so far -- and said, come up with a plan to push back on the Russians, to stop their aggression in Europe and stop their aggression in cyber space. He`s never ordered NSA to the fight them in cyber space. I don`t think he`s ever going to.
One of the remarkable lines in this speech by the president`s national security advisor is, "Even in the United States public officials have developed idealized views of this tyrannical regime." Well, what public official do we think he`s talking about, Lawrence?
O`DONNELL: Yeah. What should we be doing in our cyber defense against Russia?
CLARK: Well, I think there are a number of things we can do both offensive things and defensive things. I know there is a risk of doing offensive things that they will retaliate and we`ll get involved in a tit for tat escalation process. But at some point, you have to stand up to bully, even if you risk a fight.
I think not having done that in the wake of repeated cyber attacks on our election, on our power grid, on our corporations, they`re going to keep doing it. So I would find some target, perhaps the Internet Research Institute that attacked our elections and I would attack them. I would wipe out their computer systems and I would also find information online, perhaps about Putin`s vast wealth and reveal that publicly in our own version of WikiLeaks.
O`DONNELL: How much of that can the NSA do without a specific presidential order?
CLARK: It cannot do it without a presidential order.
O`DONNELL: And there we are. Richard Clark, thank you very much for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.
CLARK: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Many Labor Unions observed this anniversary of Martin Luther King`s death today because Martin Luther King Jr. was very active in the labor movement. And that was actually the last thing he did in his life was participate in and support a labor strike in Memphis. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was in Memphis on this day 50 years ago because he was supporting a strike by sanitation workers in Memphis. The only place Memphis Sanitation Workers could escape from the rain on a garbage truck was inside the scoop of the garbage truck. That`s where Robert Walker and Echol Cole were hiding from the rain when the compressor malfunctioned and swallowed them into the belly of the truck 50 years ago.
Their bodies were crushed along with the garbage inside the truck. The horror and degradation of their deaths was unbearable for their co-workers, who all walked off the job and demanded the right to join a union. Their protest slogan was simple, "I am a man."
After speaking to a massive crowd on his first night in Memphis, Dr. King flew back and forth to Memphis for the next two weeks, squeezing in speeches and sermons in Harlem and Washington and even managing to sleep at home in Atlanta three nights. The last time in his life that he spoke publicly was in Memphis at the Masonic Temple the night before he was assassinated. Every Martin Luther King Jr. speech had political content and most had the emotion and rhythm and religious content of a sermon. The last speech had all of that.
It was classic Dr. King. More than 40 minutes long. Full of political argument and strategy, prayers and predictions, all delivered with no notes. Dr. King very explicitly called for nonviolence above all else in Memphis. He suggested that boycotts of some local banks and big companies like Coca-Cola might be necessary to get mayors to pay attention.
He had death on his mind that night. He told the story of how he almost died years earlier when he was stabbed at a book signing in New York City. He revealed that the airline pilot on his flight from Atlanta that morning told him that the plane had been thoroughly searched for bombs and that the plane was guarded through the night because they knew Dr. King was reserved on that flight. And then he said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. MINISTER: Like anybody, I would like to live a long life, longevity has its place. But I`m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God`s will. And he`s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I looked over and I`ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land! So I`m happy tonight, I`m not worried about anything. I`m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The next day, on April 4th, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was hit by one assassin`s bullet at 6:01 p.m. at 7:05 p.m., he was pronounced dead at St. Joseph`s Hospital. He was 39 years old. The reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. lived and died in his words, not fearing any man.
O`DONNELL: On this 50th year commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.`s Assassination, looking back at it, tonight`s Last Word goes to President Barack Obama and Martin Luther King Jr.`s friend, Congressman John Lewis.
BARACK OBAMA, 44TH PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES: Dr. King was controversial. But he studied and thought and crafted what he had to say. And he knew when he spoke that he was expressing a truth as well as he could know it.
JOHN LEWIS, UNITED STATES CONGRESSMAN: I thank god that he lived. He taught us how to live. He taught us how to stand up. To be brave, courageous, as bold and to never give up.
O`DONNELL: Martin Luther King Jr.`s friend, John Lewis, gets tonight`s Last Word. Up next, there`s new reporting White House Chief of Staff John Kelly warned EPA Director Scott Pruitt that the scandals had to end. That`s on the 11th Hour with Brian Williams. And that starts now.