Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: April 11, 2018 Guest: David Frum
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
And it seems in Trump world, they never go away. I listened to your discussion of the new Steve Bannon strategy about how Trump world should deal with the special prosecutor. It is just amazing that he`s back.
RACHEL MADDOW, MNSBC HOST, TRMS: Everybody`s got a theory. The fact that what his theory is part of his theory is that Trump should retroactively exert executive privilege, you should -- like literally exert it not even assert it. He should somehow go into the special counsel`s investigation and extract the old interviews that White House staffers did and make them null and void, because he`s going to exert executive.
It`s very -- it`s a very weird theory Steve Bannon is pushing.
O`DONNELL: You know, Michael Cohen went to what one legal blog is calling the worst law school in America, but at least he went to law school, Rachel, which Steve Bannon, once the president starts taking his legal advice from Steve Bannon, it`s going to be really something to watch.
MADDOW: Yes. And the only good news about it is that it`s free.
O`DONNELL: Yes, that`s what he wants to pay. Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Well, Donald Trump has destroyed Paul Ryan`s life, and as Paul Ryan so clearly realizes, Donald Trump is on his way to destroying Republican control of the House of Representatives. The big blue wave is now looking so big, so overwhelming to Paul Ryan that he has formally, publicly, finally given up even pretending that he might run for re- election to his Wisconsin House seat.
And so, Paul Ryan will take his place in history as simply the worst of this country`s speakers of the House of Representatives, and he has earned that position in history through unprecedented and unrelenting cowardice as speaker of the House, an office that is constitutionally capable of containing and controlling an out-of-control president, but Paul Ryan surrendered all of his powers to the Trump presidency.
Previous speakers of the House have relished their powers over the president, have turned presidents into beggars for legislative favors, but Paul Ryan looked into his political soul and found nothing, nothing but weakness and subservience when faced with a President Donald Trump and rampant Trumpism in the House of Representatives. Paul Ryan is not even close to being the worst person who has been speaker of the house.
Pedophile Dennis Hastert served eight years as the Republican speaker of the House, only to be revealed in his retirement to be a criminal. And before the Civil War, of course, we had slave-owning speakers of the House, but they were all more effective in their job as speaker than Paul Ryan.
LAST WORD viewers have known since December 14th, 2017, that Paul Ryan was not going to run for re-election to his seat. That is the night that I announced it for Paul Ryan at this hour simply because he refused to deny a political story that day that he was thinking about not running for reelection. A speaker never does that. A speaker can never allow any doubt about that.
Allowing that doubt, that doubt that he might not run for election, is the same thing as just announcing that you`re not going to run. And so, it was very easy for me to say back in December with certainty that Paul Ryan was not going to run. And today, when he finally said it, he actually had the audacity to compare himself to one of the most successful and beloved speakers in history.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Look, I know most speakers don`t go out on their own terms. Tip O`Neill is probably last one to do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no. Tip O`Neill served 10 years as speaker of the House and was 74 years old when he retired. Paul Ryan has served three years and is 48 years old.
Tip O`Neill announced he wasn`t going to run for his seat at the very beginning of his last term, giving his party two full years to plan for his exit and consider who the next speaker should be. And in the year that Tip O`Neill did not run for re-election, Bobby Kennedy`s son Joe Kennedy easily held Tip O`Neill seat for the Democrats and the Democrats increased their majority in the House, winning 258 seats to the Republicans` 177, a majority beyond Paul Ryan`s wildest dreams.
Tip O`Neill was not the captain who abandoned a sinking ship leaving his crew on board. That is Paul Ryan. Paul Ryan might have lost a reelection campaign in his home district, but now we`ll never know because he`s quitting instead and he is quitting in his party`s darkest hour in the House of Representatives. Every poll shows the Republicans losing the House and that is because of Paul Ryan`s leadership which has been no leadership at all, none.
And I am one of the many congressional observers who is deeply disappointed in Paul Ryan. I never fell for the Washington media picture of Paul Ryan as a real policy wonk because I know that very few members of the House or the Senate actually qualify for that description on any subject. They are always guided by their staffs on policy, the staffs always know more than the elected members.
But Paul Ryan had done a better job than most Republicans at memorizing policy talking points and every once in a great while, he actually showed a tiny bit of hope that he might actually be thinking about policy, like when he chaired a hearing that included testimony from a woman who is actually a food stamp recipient, a working woman, working poor mother, a food stamp recipient. It was some of the most important poverty policy testimony that I have seen in Congress, and Paul Ryan followed Democrats lead in bringing that woman`s testimony into the committee to be heard and I reported on that hearing that night right here with a slight glimmer of optimism about what that could mean -- optimism that was crushed by Paul Ryan.
He leaves his speakership with exactly one accomplishment and today in his first exit interview, he could not even tell the truth about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: So if I -- if a year ago, two years ago, somebody asked me what are the two most important things to Paul Ryan, I would have said tax cuts --
RYAN: Tax reform.
TAPPER: Tax reform -- tax cuts, tax reform, OK, and entitlement reform, or changing the way the social safety net program, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid exist so that they will exist in future generations. One of them you`ve done. The other one you have not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Jake Tapper was right the first time. Tax cuts -- tax cuts not tax reform. Paul Ryan did not get tax reform through the House of Representatives.
You know who did? Tip O`Neill. The Democratic Speaker the House Tip O`Neill was the last speaker of the House to get tax reform passed. He did it in his last year as speaker in 1986, with Republican Ronald Reagan as president. Tip O`Neill worked with Reagan across party lines and crafted real tax reform that lowered income tax rates and eliminated or reduced deductions so that the amount of revenue that the federal government collected was the same amount that it collected under the higher income tax rates.
Tax reform does not increase the deficit or debt. That`s what Tip O`Neill and Ronald Reagan did, tax reform.
Paul Ryan just did tax cuts. There was no reform. Paul Ryan and Donald Trump`s tax cuts explode the deficit and wildly increased the national debt, with new estimates being released this week saying that it will increase the debt and the deficit even more than Paul Ryan knew it was going to increase the debt and deficit when he got that bill passed, tax cuts, not tax reform.
Donald Trump actually did tell that particular truth about the tax bill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I said you know I think I have the idea don`t call it tax reform, call it tax cuts. It was never called tax cuts. And they said, well, what is that? I said tax reform might mean you`re reforming taxes and you`re going to raise taxes, nobody knows what it means. So call it tax cuts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Trump was right. It was a tax cut, that`s all it was. Not tax reform and so, Paul Ryan leaves the speakership having accomplished nothing, absolutely nothing. He has brought disgrace on the House of Representatives by allowing the House Intelligence Committee to be corrupted by Chairman Devin Nunes. He leaves the house Judiciary Committee disgraced for not even pursuing necessary investigations of the Trump administration.
Paul Ryan is no Tip O`Neill and he is no Hugh Scott. Hugh Scott was the Republican leader of the House of Representatives from 1969. Hugh Scott was one of the Republicans who privately told President Richard Nixon, it was time to resign the presidency, because if he didn`t, a bill of impeachment would surely pass the House of Representatives.
Richard Nixon listened to Hugh Scott and took his advice because President Nixon respected Hugh Scott in a way that Donald Trump has never respected Paul Ryan and will never respect anyone in government.
In Paul Ryan`s case, Donald Trump has given Paul Ryan exactly the amount of respect as speaker that Paul Ryan deserves, which is none.
Joining discussion now, Joy Reid, MSNBC national correspondent and the host of "A.M. JOY", weekends here on MSNBC, and also with us, Jennifer Rubin, conservative opinion writer for "The Washington Post" and an MSNBC contributor, and David Frum, senior editor for "The Atlantic" and the author of "Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic".
And so, Joy, there is this widely made observation that if you get near Donald Trump, if you allow Donald Trump to have anything to do with your future, your future is destroyed. And then we see the end of Paul Ryan`s congressional career.
JOY REID, MSNBC HOST, "A.M. JOY": Yes, Rick Wilson puts it everything Trump touches dies. I think that`s his sort of all-purpose saying for Donald Trump.
Look, the reality is, is that I think you laid it out perfectly there, Lawrence, because Paul Ryan has been the ultimate triumph of form over substance. The Beltway media adored Paul Ryan. Even though you know at least eight years ago, Paul Krugman called him the flimflam man, his numbers never add up.
There`s all these Ayn Rand and ideas about ending the social safety net. He thinks it`s some sort of moral hazard to help the poor. He wants to end food stamps. He wants to privatize Medicare, I guess get rid of Medicaid, privatize part of Social Security.
He has all these ideas that are incredibly unpopular with American people but that have been very popular with both political journalists and Republicans, elected Republicans. They saw him as sort of a savior who could decouple the average Americans` devotion to the New Deal and the Great Society. This has been the great project of Republicans, at least on the economic front, is to somehow get people to break from this devotion to these New Deal era programs.
Paul Ryan is seen as this young wunderkind who can make that happen, who can sell a sort of chic new Alex P. Keaton version of the American life where people would just break from it and realize those things should go away or they should at least be sharply curtailed.
He never really knew how to do that. He was never actually a skilled speaker. And when it came to Donald Trump, he essentially behaved with nothing I can`t describe it with any other word other than cowardice. He wanted what he wanted so badly, his tax cuts for the rich, his tax cuts for corporations.
But he was willing to let Donald Trump do anything, and he forgot that he would -- he`s fourth in line to the presidency, he runs a co-equal branch of government, people who`ve been speaker have immense power and wield it. He always seemed like he was Donald Trump`s kid brother who didn`t know how to stand up to him in a fight.
O`DONNELL: Jennifer Rubin, explained the Republicans in the House of Representatives to me, please? Let me tell you what I mean.
When I worked in the Senate on the Democratic side, all of the Democratic chairmen relished their power. They relished their power over the president. The president wanted to something in their committee they always made the president bend the knee a little bit.
They also relished their power over each other and they fought for their jurisdictions and so forth. And so was the case with Democratic speaker`s of the House, Democratic Senate majority leaders, all that.
And so when I watched Paul Ryan operate as speaker, I`ve just been amazed that he seems to have not for one moment considered using his powers over the president, but -- and instead just served the president.
JENNIFER RUBIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Exactly. I think he first of all made a calculation that turned out to be horribly wrong, and that was that he would get what he wanted while he was supporting an unfit, erratic, completely -- you know, frankly unqualified president, that Donald Trump would have enough discipline, would have enough sense of responsibility that he would help Paul Ryan get what Paul Ryan wanted, and that was ridiculous because, of course, Donald Trump is so unfit and so erratic that he can`t really see any policy initiatives through.
But the second part I think seriously is this issue you know joy was saying that his big dream was to decouple the American people from the New Deal. One of his other great projects was to recapture power for the Congress, as bizarre as that sounds -- yes, he made all kinds of white papers and announcements about taking back power from the executive branch which had been delegated out by Congress. Congress had not stepped up to the plate, had its responsibilities.
And what did he do, he essentially assigned his entire job over to the White House and that if anything else I think will be the long-term legacy of someone who came with the idea that there was an imbalance in our system, presidents were too powerful, the people`s house was the most responsible, the most Democratic of our branches of government and he frittered it away. And that is the great tragedy of Paul Ryan and I think that, plus of course the enormous debt, is what he`s going to be known for.
And I think he leaves with not even apparently at the guts to do some important things on the way out the door. He`s not even running for reelection. Why does he get rid of Devin Nunes now? Wouldn`t that be fabulous? But he`s too afraid even to do that.
So, he leaves I think disrespected by people who used to respect him and friendly with a fair amount of contempt by Democrats.
O`DONNELL: David Frum, with Republican senators who have announced like Jeff Flake that they`re not going to run free election, they seem free to say things that they otherwise would not. Is there any chance of that with Paul Ryan now?
DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: Well, but why -- why should he? I mean you said early on that Donald Trump is destroyed Paul Ryan and, of course, there`s a lot of truth that. It`s also true that Paul Ryan has destroyed Donald Trump.
Imagine if Donald Trump had -- as the 2017 version of Donald Trump had been the same as the 2015 version, and he had joined to his nationalist program on trade and immigration the big infrastructure program, he had sustained the social safety net as he said he would, he had opposed upper income tax cuts, all of which were not only demanded by the country as a whole but by actually most Republican primary voters.
Donald Trump would today be in my opinion I think a much more popular, may be more dangerous president than he is.
Instead, Donald Trump signed on to the Ryan program. He signed on to this massively unpopular tax cut, pretty hard to be unpopular while cutting taxes but that`s happened.
He signed on to the attempts to repeal to spend the first half of his most powerful year in office attempting to repeal Obamacare. It`s a funny thing to think about, but Steve Bannon`s political instincts may have been sharper than Paul Ryan`s, and that it may be that if the Trump ship goes down, Paul Ryan will be the person to put a hole in the bottom of it.
O`DONNELL: Joy Reid, a Republican source said today on "Axios", this is going to make every Republican donor believe the House can`t be held.
REID: Absolutely. I mean, first of all, for a speaker of the house to make himself a lame duck, with this much time left in the year and then for, you know, Mitch McConnell saying, we have much to do -- no, you have nothing to do. You are a lame duck. You have nothing more to do.
And if you think about the fact that not only is he abandoning ship, he`s abandoning his seat. Right now, the only real challenger for his seat is an avowed white nationalist named Paul Nelly (ph) who he would you know presumably want to do something about, but he`s not even doing anything about that. He`s probably also lost the first district in Wisconsin to the Democrats. Meaning, Democrats don`t need 23 seats, they need 22, thanks to the current Republican speaker of the House.
I mean, I think that -- you know, there`s nothing more -- you know, I think it`s cowardly for any of them that say Paul Donald Trump is terrible, I`m leaving -- I`m leaving instead of fighting him. Paul Ryan has essentially said, Donald Trump is wonderful, and I`m leaving and he is signal to every Republican donor, we are definitely losing the House.
As I said in December, Paul Ryan needed to get out now so that he could be cleansed of the Trump stink and in his mid-50s, in 2024, he can come back after the age of Trump and run for president not having been associated with the final years of Trump.
We`re going to have to squeeze in a break here. Everyone`s going to stay in place.
And when we come back, a Republican member of Congress goes on a profane anti-Trump tirade. Wait until you hear what he had to say later in the show.
Also coming up, the president is tweeting us toward war in Syria, even though there is no apparent constitutional authority for the president to attack Syria. Former Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman will join us.
O`DONNELL: I just want to correct, Hugh Scott`s note from the first segment. He was the Senate minority leader, not the House Minority Leader during the Watergate.
There`s breaking news tonight from "The Washington Post". Stephen K. Bannon, who was ousted as White House chief strategist last summer but has remained in touch with some members of President Trump`s circle, is pitching a plan to West Wing aides and congressional allies to cripple the federal probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to four people familiar with the discussions.
The first step these people say would be for Trump to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein. According to "The Post", Steve Bannon is recommending the White House cease its cooperation with the special prosecutor Robert Mueller. He is telling associates inside and outside the administration that the president should create a new legal battleground to protect himself from the investigation by asserting executive privilege and arguing that Mueller`s interviews with White House officials over the past year should now be null and void.
A search warrant used this week to raid the office hotel room and the home of Trump associate Michael Cohen specified that the search was targeting among other things that we already knew about, all of his communications about the "Access Hollywood" video, the video on which President Trump brags about his preferred methods of sexual assault.
"The Washington Post" reports the broad request also sought Cohen`s communications with Trump and campaign surrogates about potential sources of negative publicity in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election.
And the panel is back with us, Joy Reid, David Frum, and Jennifer Rubin.
And, Joy, take your pick. I mean, you`ve got -- you`ve got graduate of no law school Steve Bannon guiding the legal strategy now or he`d make suggesting his guidance and start off with fire Rod Rosenstein.
REID: Yes, when I read the story, I was like, let me -- let me Google one more time and look at his bio to see what law school he went to. Oh, right, no law school. The idea that Steve Bannon is trying to worm his way back into the Trump inner circle by giving free legal advice that makes absolutely no sense and apparently, Don McGahn is horrified, but who listens to him?
I think one of the risks here though could be that if Donald Trump listens to Steve Bannon and there`s you know there`s a lot of evidence in his biography but even if he`s mad at you, even if he thinks that you`re a bad person in the moment, he will still listen to people he supposedly falling out with it.
And if he starts to listen to this and believe the Bannon story that the right will stand with him if he fires everyone down to the guy who mops the floor and gets rid of Mueller and Rosenstein, if he does that, he could lose his White House counsel, he could begin to lose the few remaining people who are you know cognizant of reality and then where do we go from there?
O`DONNELL: David Frum, the "Access Hollywood" linkage in this subpoena is fascinating because shortly after the "Access Hollywood" video came out, within hours, Wikipedia dumped out some material about the -- I`m sorry, WikiLeaks not Wikipedia -- dumped out some material that was -- it was intended to be harmful to the Democrats and the timing of that is interesting and did that involve any communications with Russians to get that to happen you can see where that might be the window through which Robert Mueller found this.
FRUM: And then shortly after that, the payoffs to Stormy Daniels and other women started.
Look, in the last segment, I suggested that I thought Steve Bannon`s political instincts were better than Paul Ryan`s and the Paul Ryan did damage the Trump presidency and that Trump just from a narrow self- interested point of view would have been better off listening to Steve Bannon more and Paul Ryan less.
On this legal matter, I think again Bannon`s advice is pretty good. What Bannon is basically saying to Donald Trump is, you`re incredibly guilty. O`DONNELL: Yes.
FRUM: Start acting like it.
FRUMP: That quit with this innocent person approach. It`s not going to work.
There are times when the cover up is worse than the crime, but if grandma`s dead body is lying livid rigid in the bathtub upstairs, the crime is worse than the cover-up. Try cover-up, it`s your best hope.
I think in this case, that`s really good advice. Cooperation will not help Donald Trump, but a cover-up, an attempt to inflame the country, appeal to your base that probably is the best plan. Bannon is probably right about this.
O`DONNELL: Jennifer, this is such an important point and so many people who are been observing this for the past year keep at saying why would the president do X, why doesn`t he do do Y? And the answer is, there`s a very big difference between how guilty suspects should behave and consult and how not guilty subjects should behave. And Trump has behaved flawlessly as a guilty subject.
RUBIN: That`s right, and I actually do have a law degree and although I love David, it`s horrible advice because it makes no sense. There is no such thing as not cooperating with the special prosecutor. They go and get subpoenas and they enforce them.
He can try to do this wackadoodle exercise of taking documents back and sprinkling them with fairy dust in order to get executive privilege, but that doesn`t work. The special prosecutor and now the New York prosecutor are going by the book, they are gathering evidence, they`re getting subpoenas and Trump really doesn`t have a choice.
Sure, he could try not to cooperate and then Mueller would go get a subpoena and force him to. That`s the same myth behind his so-called scheme that he chooses not to sit down for an interview. Well, fine, slap a subpoena on him and have them come forward.
So, I think this is -- you know, this is Steve Bannon being Steve Bannon, and trying to create chaos.
What I think was interesting is it comes on the same day that for the first time, the Republicans are beginning to get nervous and Chuck Grassley, who`s the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee is going to hold hearings on a bipartisan bill that would provide some, not really all, but some protection for Robert Mueller.
And so, I think there`s definitely a sense on the Capitol Hill that this is a new level of crazy for Trump a new level of being out of control and they I think for the first time are really petrified, he is going to take that step and then they`re going to be in the midst of a constitutional crisis.
O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Joy.
Well, I was going to say, of course, procedurally, everything Jennifer just said is completely accurate and every other president would understand it.
The Steve Bannon advice I believe that the next stage is going to be of course you don`t agree to the interview with Mueller, and when Mueller subpoenas you, you do not accept the subpoena, you do not let the U.S. Marshal through the gate of the West Wing to serve a subpoena, your lawyer does not accept service of the subpoena.
If they decide that the service has been achieved, you absolutely physically do not move a muscle and don`t show up. And then you ask Robert Mueller, who are you going to send with what badge to get through the White House gate to get me in handcuffs to drag me up there, because there is -- no one has ever figured out what you actually do if a president really does defy a subpoena because Richard Nixon in the end didn`t.
REID: Didn`t do it and, you know, I had this very discussion with a couple of our friends, good legal minds this weekend, and the right went crazy even just the suggestion of it, but that is the problem. And it kind of goes with what we were talking about before.
Three quick things: one, no, Robert Mueller cannot unsee what he has seen. So, you can`t do anything about that.
REID: You can`t suddenly waive executive privilege over to make it go away.
Number two: you can`t control what the New York investigation does and what -- I`m not a lawyer, but I would think what you want is certainty, you kind of know what Robert Mueller is like. We don`t know, if you get rid of Rosenstein, you don`t know what the next person who might have a some, you know, some feelings about just about the Department of Justice in the way that they`ve been treated, you don`t know what they`re going to do. You don`t know where it`s going to go.
But as a political matter, because you have a House of Representatives that will not act, a speaker who will not act, who will not enforce the Constitution, because no one has been willing to enforce a single sanction on this president, no one will enforce any law against him, the Republican Party is supine, they are butlers and concierges laying at his feet, saying, sir, what would you have us do next, even when they hate him.
The reality is that Donald Trump does have a political out, which is to barricade himself in and say, I don`t recognize this in court and have Fox News and all of his friends say, that`s right, Mr. President, fight the power, fight the swamp. And then we don`t know. This is the definition of constitutional crisis. What is Paul Ryan going to do? Be a little but less polite and nice to him?
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Right. At that point, impeachment is the only remedy. And we are going to hear later in the show from a Republican who says, that the Republicans could consider impeachment after they get past their primary season this year. We`ll see if that happens.
Joy Reid, Jennifer Rubin, David Frum, thank you very much for joining us from the beginning of the show. Really appreciate it.
REID: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: As I said, there`s a Republican member of Congress who goes on a profane anti-Trump tirade and says it is possible that Republicans might choose to impeach him if it gets bad enough heading into the 2018 election.
O`DONNELL: It should come as no surprise that what senators say in public and the House members say in public is the tip of the iceberg of what they really think and often not at all what they actually think. Republican blogger Eric Eriksson had all of Washington guessing today who his secret source was for a long stream of profane anti-Trump comments that appeared in quotation marks from someone identified only as a Republican member of the House of Representatives.
Eric Eriksson and the unanimous House members certainly gave the impression that the quotes represented a general consensus among House Republicans. Here are some of the juicy bits.
It`s like Forest Gump won the presidency but an evil really f-ing stupid Forest Gump.
I say a lot of stuff on TV depending him. But honestly, I wish the mother would just go away. We are losing or we are going to lose the House, lose the Senate, lose a bunch of states because of him, all his supporters will blame us for what we have or have not done, but he hasn`t led. He wakes up in the morning poops all over twitter, poops all over us, poops all over his staff then hits golf balls. F him. Of course, I can`t say that in public or I will get one out of tongue.
Judiciary is stacked with a bunch of people who can win reelection so long as they don`t piss off Trump voter in the primary. But if we get to summer and most of the primaries are over, they just might pull the trigger if the President fires Mueller. The poop will hit the fan. If that happens, and I would vote to impeach him myself, most of us would, I think. Hell, all the Democrats would. And you won`t need a majority in the House. If we are going to lose because of him, we might as well impeach the mother, take him out with us and let Mike Pence take over. At least then we could sleep well at night.
The member of the House Judiciary Committee and a former Republican congressman will join us next with that reaction to the anonymous Republicans theory that impeachment could begin this year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Why don`t I just fire Mueller?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just fire the guy?
TRUMP: well, I think it`s a disgrace what`s going on. We will see what happens. But I think it`s really a sad situation when you look at what`s happened. And many people have said you should fire him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Could that get him impeached?
Joining the discussion now, Democratic congressman Steve Cohen who is a member of the House judiciary committee and David Jolly, a former Republican congressman. David Jolly was served from Florida.
David Jolly, I want to start with you on the Republican side of this. You just heard that theory from Eric Eriksson`s blog, and an anonymous House member saying that it is possible once the Republicans are past their primaries this year that if Trump were to fire Mueller that they could on the Judiciary Committee begin considering impeachment. Does that sound farfetched to you?
DAVID JOLLY, FORMER FLORIDA CONGRESSMAN: It does. I don`t have that much faith in the Republicans to do what`s right. I do think the drum beat of impeachment grew a little louder this week. But when it came to the attacks on the justice system as well, and some of these very (INAUDIBLE) national security moves that he has flirted with.
But Lawrence, let`s be honest. If you are talking about somebody in the grocery store who is referring to the mindlessness of this President, insults him for his acumen on policy and politics, suggests that he is willing to accept a certain amount of criminality. And frankly, further that criminality, that could really be anybody in a grocery store in any town across the United States.
In this case it just happened to be one of 435 members of Congress, entrusted to protect the Republic. But we also can`t overlook that this is somebody that did this on background, unwilling to go forward with his identity or her own identity. And that is reality of today`s Republican Party. They are frustrated with Donald Trump. That it is a miserable time to be a Republican on Capitol Hill. But they are unwilling to confront him. And I don`t think that changes after the primary despite what Eric Eriksson reported.
O`DONNELL: Steve Cohen, what is your reaction? Do you think the Republican members of your committee, after their primaries, if the President fires Robert Mueller, could they turn on the President?
REP. STEVE COHEN (R-TN), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well, they could but too many are k-pods (ph). And it would be tough to do that. Several have told me, like he said, they personally don`t like Trump. They find him not to be a good human being and they don`t like their dealings with him personally and they really resent him. I have had several members tell me that over and over for the last couple years, but they don`t have the guts to come out and say anything. They are afraid of their primary voters and even after the primary, after the filing deadline, I don`t see enough of them to have the (INAUDIBLE) to stand up and do it.
In fact, there are some members who are retiring. And one of them told me he was retiring because he couldn`t stand Trump and didn`t want to be around the man ever again in his life, and yet he is still with resistant to signing onto my discharge petition to protect Mueller to give him due process, if he was fired for other than cause because he was kind of afraid of backlash coming lighter to his staff that he thought might get blackball because he stood up against Trump. The only Republican who stood up strong is Walter Jones. He is kind of Gary Cooper of the House Republicans.
O`DONNELL: David Jolly, there`s a report tonight that Joseph diGenova on FOX News, Sean Hannity Show, said that -- he said that Sessions should fire Rod Rosenstein tomorrow. President Trump tweeted before Sean Hannity`s show that everyone should watch Sean Hannity tonight -- which he doesn`t do it every night. I know people think he is doing every night. But he really wanted people watching which means that, of course, Trump knew Joseph diGenova was going to say, Sessions should fire Rosenstein tomorrow.
What would happen in the House of Representatives if Sessions were to do that? There`s no real indication that Sessions would do that with Joseph diGenova telling him to do it on FOX News.
JOLLY: Sure. Look, I think this is a President that many Americans tonight believe is corrupt in his own dealings and there is a Republican party that continues to protect and insulate him.
Now we have heard voices within the Republican Party speak about confronting the President should he move to have Mueller fired. I`m not fully confident that would happen among Republicans today. But Lawrence, let`s look at what happened with this raid of Cohen`s office because I think something important happened this week that we are not really paying attention to and it`s this.
Should Trump move to have Mueller and Rosenstein fired or dismissed and this case closed, what Mueller and Rosenstein did this week is they referred to the southern district of New York, this raid on Cohen`s office, this other civil legal matter that implicates and could possibly have Donald Trump and Cohen culpable in a civil case that rises to perjury or obstruction or intimidation. So that, this is what they did, if Mueller and Rosenstein are fired and that case is exposed, Donald Trump`s exposure continues in the southern district of New York. So despite the drum beat is to fire Mueller, I don`t think this solves this Trump and Republicans tonight.
O`DONNELL: Steve Cohen, I think, Joe on FOX News tonight, gives us a look into what the President wants. He wants Jeff Sessions to fire Rosenstein. Jeff sessions has made it very clear that he is not going to do that.
COHEN: Rod Rosenstein is an honorable American. He has done a good job over there. And he appeared before our committee. I was most impressed. He was a good appointment. And Trump, of course, was responsible for his appointment. He is a career justice department official, he has integrity and that type of person will not do well in the Trump world. If Trump wants his filthy, he doesn`t want any kind of expertise or abilities. He likes, like Michael Cohen, he is kind of a fixer. And he likes the rough guy and he likes the lie and he just -- he lies all the time and he got that from Roy Cohn and he`s -- I`m a Cohen and I hate the fact that -- I wish Michael Cohen would change his last name and Roy Cohn would have never lived. Because they are giving name as a bad name. But Roy Cohn was one of the worst people in the world. And Donald Trump loved him and emulated him and held him up as a mentor who says something about Donald Trump who is trying to be beyond Roy Cohn as the worst person in the world.
O`DONNELL: The honorable Steve Cohen, gentleman from Tennessee. And David Jolly, thank you both for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, Donald Trump is tweeting about a possible strike on Syria and he is not making it sound like there`s anything doubtful about it. It sounds like he has promised to do it.
O`DONNELL: This morning at 6:20 a.m. on FOX and friends, they were discussing what the U.S. reaction should be to Russia`s threat to shoot down any U.S. missiles fired in Syria. Thirty seven minutes later, the President tweeted Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready, Russia because they will be coming down nice and new and smart. You shouldn`t be partners with a gas-killing animals who kills people and enjoys it.
At 7:04 a.m. on FOX and Friend, they were discussing how the U.S. sanctions are wrecking Russia`s economy. Thirty-three minutes later, the President tweeted our relationship with Russia is worse now than it` has ever been. And that includes the cold war. There is no reason for this. Russia needs us to help with their economy, something that would be very easy to do and we need all nations to work together. Stop the arms race?
Joining us now former U.S. undersecretary of state for political affairs, Wendy Sherman. She is also an MSNBC global affairs contributor.
And it was no surprise to discover that the President`s staff and cabinet were taken by complete surprise.
AMB. WENDY SHERMAN, FORMER U.S. UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE: No surprise at all.
O`DONNELL: That he tweeted, actually tweeted, get ready, Russia, because the missiles will be coming and they are going to be nice and new and smart.
SHERMAN: It is really quite extraordinary because as we heard from general Mattis, they have not finished their assessment of whether and how this attack took place though we all believe Syria was behind it. Assad was behind it.
We haven`t decided on what options we are going to take. And we haven`t worked out everything with our coalition partners. I hope we will at coalition partners with the British and the French. Theresa May, the prime minister of Great Britain was going to her cabinet there this evening to try to decide how to go forward.
So I`m sure that everybody who has been working very hard to present the President with options were stunned. We have 2,000 troops in Syria. And they are at risk here as well. This is a very serious decision. Syria has always been a proxy war. A lot of players using it as a map.
Obviously, Russia and Iran are big players in Syria. And so, the decision the President has to make are very consequential. And when he tweets out let`s go after Russia. Russia has got nuclear weapons. We have nuclear weapons. The exclamatory (ph) possibilities here are extreme. And rather than ranting about the FBI raiding his lawyer when he was sitting with all the commanders of our military, I wish he would have been focused and disciplined on what was at stake in Syria.
O`DONNELL: When President Obama considered striking Syria, he went to the Congress for authorization. Doesn`t it President need that authorization?
SHERMAN: Well, that`s a debatable point.
O`DONNELL: President Obama didn`t get the authorization.
SHERMAN: Yes. He didn`t get the authorization. In fact, then speaker Boehner sent to president Obama a whole list of questions. What is going to be the duration? What is the scope? What are the objectives? How much is it going to cost?
O`DONNELL: Reasonable questions.
SHERMAN: Reasonable questions. Those same questions should be asked of President Trump. And tomorrow, secretary Mattis has a hearing and secretary hopefully to be from his perspective Pompeo has his confirmation hearing. I would expect all those question would be asked to both gentlemen.
O`DONNELL: And here`s Paul Ryan, speaker of the House. He could send - he could just take the Boehner letter to President Trump and change the name at the top and send it to (INAUDIBLE) President Trump.
SHERMAN: Absolutely. It would be a good idea.
O`DONNELL: Assuming that the President does go forward with a strike as he promised the world through twitter, what next? What happens after that?
SHERMAN: Well, this administration rarely has a day after plan. There is no strategy here. There is no what happens if we take this strike. Will it deter Assad? The last strike didn`t do anything to deter Assad. Will this help get us into a political negotiation to finally help the 12 million Syrians who were displaced in Syria or sitting in refugee camps to come home and put Syria back together again? There is a future here and someone has to help create it. I don`t think the President thought about anything after the day after.
O`DONNELL: And the President has clearly said that he really -- doesn`t want to have anything to do with Syria. He just wants to wash his hands of the whole thing and walk away from it. Let Russia deal with it and now he is getting ready for his smart missile attack.
SHERMAN: You know, some days I think that Donald Trump is like an abusive parent, you never know which parent you are going to get. Whether you are going to get the, I love our people and what they`re doing or I can`t stand you, get out of my way. One day he is saying let`s get out of Syria, the next he is saying let`s get deeply involved in Syria.
Again, what are the objectives? What is the strategy? What are we doing here? What is going to happen to the people in Syria? What`s going to happen to our troops? What`s going to happen to our alliances?
There is a lot of stake here. And he is doing this at the same time he has to prepare for a summit with Kim Jong-un, state visit by President Macron and a visit by Prime Minister Abe and make a decision about whether to stay in the Iran nuclear deal or try to let Iran get back on a path of getting nuclear weapons which has never made any sense to me whatsoever. There is a lot at stake and he has a new national security adviser and we don`t know where they are headed.
O`DONNELL: Ambassador Wendy Sherman, thank you very much for joining us.
SHERMAN: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Really appreciate it.
Tonight`s Last Word is next.
O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s LAST WORD.
Today, the Illinois Senate voted 43-12 to ratify the equal right amendment which was introduced and passed by Congress in 1972. Congress put a 10- year deadline on states ratifying the amendment. Three-fourth of the states are necessary for ratification. That is 38 states.
Thirty-five states ratified the equal rights amendment within the deadline when the ERA came up three states short, everyone thought it was dead. Everyone gave up. Then a few years ago, organizations like Equal Means Equal started pushing for ratification again.
In 2017, Nevada became the 36th state to ratify the ERA. Only two more are needed. And with the Senate passage in Illinois, Illinois is now halfway there.
But why continue to push for ratification 36 years after the deadline? Because supports insist the deadline the deadline is unconstitutional since the constitutions specifically describes the procedure for amendments and it does not include a deadline.
In an interview in 2005, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said every constitution written since the end of World War II includes a provision that men and women are citizens of equal stature. Ours does not. I have three granddaughters. I would like them to be able to take out their constitution and say here is a basic premises of our system. That men and women are persons of equal citizenship stature.
Equal means equal. That`s tonight`s LAST WORD.
Coming up, much more on Steve Bannon`s legal advice to Donald trump. THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS starts now.
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