Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: April 23, 2018 Guest: Michael Avenatti
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
And you know who I think can figure out how many nights Donald Trump spent in Moscow, I think Robert Mueller, and if you gave him the job, Michael Avenatti. I think Michael Avenatti can figure it out. Michael Avenatti is going to join us tonight on another subject, not how many nights the president spent in Moscow with whom.
But, Rachel, during your hour, this breaking news about Dr. Ronny Jackson, the development that his nomination is in trouble for reasons other than the basic competence that one would need to run something like the Veterans Administration.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": Yes, I mean, the V.A. is the second largest organization in the U.S. government, other than the U.S. military. It is incredibly complex. It is a difficult agency in the best of times, it`s been through incredibly difficult times recently.
And it was -- honestly, it was always a weird pick. Like the White House physician is a weird choice for that role just in terms of managerial experience, familiarity with the issues and all that stuff. But we`re chasing tonight, trying to nail down our own reporting in terms of what the allegations are that have concerned both Democratic and Republican senators about Jackson.
It is notable they have not just cancelled his confirmation hearing for Wednesday, but we don`t have a date for another one. These are reportedly bipartisan concerns. They were described by "Washington Post" reporter Lisa Rein on air tonight as serious concerns.
Again, we`re trying to chase down what it is that senators are concerned about, but it seems like this is iced so far. This seems to be off.
O`DONNELL: Yes, and there is that CBS report that has not been confirmed by NBC News or others that it does involve issues of personal conduct in the work place. We`re going to see what`s developed on it in the next half hour. We`re going to pick that story up again here in about a half hour from now. Who knows what we`ll learn in the meantime?
MADDOW: It`s fast breaking stuff. Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: It`s one of those nights. Thank you, Rachel.
No intention of firing. That`s the official White House line on whether the president will fire special prosecutor Robert Mueller or Mueller`s supervisor, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: As we`ve said many times before, we have no intention of firing the special counsel.
MARC SHORT, WHITE HOUSE LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS DIRECTOR: As far as I know, the president has no intention of firing these individuals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Remember when the president had no intention of firing national security advisor Michael Flynn, who has since pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI? Remember when Donald Trump had no intention of firing his next national security advisor, H.R. McMaster? Remember when Donald Trump had no intention of firing Reince Priebus, Anthony Scaramucci, who was fired 11 days after he was hired? Rex Tillerson?
The list goes on and on. You`ve seen Rachel`s giant wall of names. So we now know that with Donald Trump, no intention of firing really means this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHORT: Right now, he has no intention of firing him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Good for him for adding the right now. That`s all it means is right now.
Tomorrow morning or five minutes from now is a very different story and just about everyone, who the president has publically speculated about possibly firing does eventually get fired. Or resigns in what may or may not have been a firing.
The president publically toyed with his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a threatening way for months before eventually firing him. And so, everyone working in the Trump administration knows they can be fired in any moment, even if that moment is right after the moment when the White House says the president has no intention of firing you.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions is now threatening to quit if the president fires Rod Rosenstein, according to a report in "The Washington Post" on Friday. Former deputy attorney general, who was briefly Acting Attorney General Sally Yates, spoke about the importance of keeping Rod Rosenstein in his job last night on Showtime`s "The Circus".
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SALLY YATES, FORMER ACTING U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: While everyone understands how important it is that Robert Mueller stay in place, it`s really equally essential to the rule of law that Rod Rosenstein stay in place, because you can have a profound impact on the Mueller investigation through the deputy attorney general. I`ve seen them trot out various reasons that I would actually call excuses to fire Rod Rosenstein, but there doesn`t seem to be any substantive reason, other than wanting someone in that position that the president could control.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: This weekend, the president`s customary weekend of Twitter madness included this tweet which has the classic Trump fingerprints of misspelling, in this case the word council, which indicates it was written by the president. James Kelly illegally leaked classified documents to the press in order to generate a special counsel, therefore, the special counsel was established based on an illegal act. Really? Does everybody know what that means?
Well, what that might mean is that the president, that because James Comey admits to having legally leaked parts of his memos of conversations with Donald Trump to the "New York Times", that the president now has ever right to fire Robert Mueller because Rod Rosenstein chose to appoint a special counsel in part because of the information contained in the Comey leaks.
In the series of interviews James Comey did last week, he repeatedly said that he didn`t think the investigation of the president could be stopped by firing Rod Rosenstein or Robert Mueller. Several legal experts have suggested that the federal case in the Southern District of New York involving the president`s personal associate, Michael Cohen, is safely preceding outside the range of the president`s ability to fire anyone in that investigation.
And this weekend, the political article by law professor Corey Brettschneider says, one way to guarantee the continuation of the Mueller investigation is a possible sealed indictment of the president. If Trump were to fire Mueller and already filed sealed indictment would outlast Mueller`s tenure. A sealed indictment can only be dismissed by a judge, meaning Trump can not rid himself of a legal headache simply by terminating the special counsel. A sealed indictment would also ensure that the statute of limitations for crimes Trump might be charged with would not expire.
The article speculates that Mueller would be able to obtain a sealed indictment because of the high likelihood that the president would fire Rosenstein and Mueller if an indictment were made public. And so, a sealed indictment would allow the special prosecutor to lock in a case against the president, while continuing to follow the investigation where the evidence leads.
Joining our discussion now, Jill Wine-Banks, former assistant Watergate special prosecutor, Joyce Vance, former U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama and a professor at the University of Alabama Law School, and Jennifer Rubin, a conservative opinion writer at "The Washington Post". All three are MSNBC contributors.
And, Jill Wine-Banks, I want to go first of all to this backwards through what we heard about this possibility of a sealed indictment and how that might secure the future of the investigation even if somehow Rod Rosenstein or Robert Mueller were fired.
JILL WINE-BANKS, FORMER ASSISTANT WATERGATE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: It is a very intriguing concept, but I think there are actually better ways to protect the case that Mueller may be developing. First of all, all of this assumes that there is a strong enough case for an indictment. And if there is a strong enough case for an indictment, you have to overcome the possible argument that a sitting president can`t be indicted. If you can overcome that then I think you should go ahead with an indictment.
I believe that a sitting president can be indicted, and that he could even be tried, some have suggested that he couldn`t be tried because of his schedule. I think his schedule could be accommodated. The 25th Amendment might be the appropriate use here to allow someone else to manage the office while he was defending himself. So, if he can be indicted, there`s no reason to try a sealed indictment. It would undo what I think is one of the most important reasons for an indictment, and that is to let the public know what the president did.
And I wrote an article on NBCNews.com with one of my Watergate colleagues, who was also a Supreme Court law clerk, Jerry Goldman, and we were arguing for the public`s right to know and how important that is, and one way to serve the public`s need to know would be through a public indictment, much like the indictment that tells the story.
But it could also be done through a report, either through the special counsel`s ability to make a report under the rules that govern him or with the grand jury`s inherent power to issue a report. That`s what we did in Watergate, we issued a report to the Judiciary Committee of Congress, and they used it as a road map to impeachment. And that`s a very solid way to proceed.
O`DONNELL: Jennifer Rubin, I want to go to another subject that the president got started this weekend where he started tweeting, angrily, about a "New York Times" article that reported that Michael Cohen, of course, might flip, the term everyone`s using, flip and testify against the president because the president has treated Michael Cohen so badly for years. Maggie Haberman was one of the authors of the report.
And the president tweeted "New York Times" and third-rate reporter named Maggie Haberman, known as a crooked H. flunky, who I don`t speak to and have nothing to do with, are going out of their way to destroy Michael Cohen and his relationship with me in the hope he will flip.
And, of course, Jennifer, I don`t think there is a reporter who has spoken to the president more than Maggie Haberman has, and in her formal position, has spoken to the president and interviewed him more than Sean Hannity has.
JENNIFER RUBIN, OPINION WRITER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, that is quite a feet, isn`t it? Yes, he has. I mean, this is a typical Trump outburst. He says something patently untrue, no one is supposed to mention it or catch him on it and he goes on these rants because he`s upset.
And, of course, he doesn`t dispute the underlying assertion, which is there is something to be flipped on. You don`t flip on someone unless you have damaging information that could lead to an impeachable situation or an indictment.
And, by the way, I do agree with Jill. I think right now Mueller is going to have a hard time actually doing any kind of indictment, in part because that OLC memo, that`s the Office of Legal Counsel memo remains in place for the Justice Department. And that memo, wrongly in my view and perhaps in Jill`s as well, says you cannot indict a sitting president.
So, I think it`s unlikely at this stage, so long as that`s in place, that Mueller would indict. But I do think, number one, I think the problem with Michael Cohen is real, Trump is clearly more upset about that these days.
And secondly, by the way, he has no intention of firing the special prosecutor? Why doesn`t Congress just go ahead and do some belt and suspenders and pass something? I don`t think that Mitch McConnell would stand in the way if the president doesn`t mind, right? Well, I would have to see that.
O`DONNELL: That would be consistent, in a way.
Joyce Vance, Rudy Giuliani comes in to great fanfare to take over and mastermind the Trump representation defense in the investigation by the special prosecutor. And the first weekend under Rudy Giuliani`s guidance as a client, the president is tweeting about Michael Cohen flipping.
JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: It`s astonishing. But one thing we know about this president is that he`s never had the ability to take the advice of counsel and apparently even Rudy Giuliani won`t be able to change that. The tweets -- you know, it was an amazing display of tweets, almost scattershot, in an effort maybe to discourage people from staying focused on any one issue.
But the one that really stuck out was this tweet, you know, about witch hunt. He seems to go back to the witch hunt idea always. And the problem that increasingly he`s having is that Mueller is finding a lot of witches, and at the end of the day, you know, I think something that we`ve all said, right, is you can only flip on somebody if they`ve engaged in criminal conduct. And so, this idea that the president is assuming that there`s a risk that Cohen is going to flip is almost as though he is saying there is something that he could say about me, I am worried about the flip, but I don`t think he`ll do it.
O`DONNELL: Jill Wine-Banks, I want to get your reaction to something the president has been saying and James Comey has quoted him about this, the idea that he never really spent a night in Moscow. Let`s listen to the way James Comey explained that to Rachel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MADDOW: The president brought up the golden showers thing and said it really bothered him if his wife has any doubt about it. He then explained as he did at our dinner, that he hadn`t stayed overnight in Russia during the Miss Universe trip.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Well, that is, of course, Rachel reading a passage of Jim Comey`s book. And, Jill, so, his reason, his defense is, it`s impossible, I didn`t spend the night. When that`s your defense and we can show you did spend the night, and possibly two nights according to Keith Schiller`s testimony, a minimum of one night according to some logs of a private jet travel, that`s kind of a problematic defense.
WINE-BANKS: It is a very difficult defense to make, it`s the same kind of lie that Cohen made when he said I never was in Prague. It looks like he was in Prague. He said, I was never in Moscow overnight during the Miss Universe contest. He could have said, I didn`t sleep with any prostitutes, but he didn`t. He said I wasn`t there, so it was impossible.
Now, if you can prove that that`s a lie, it is a thing you can argue to the American people, or to a jury in a trial, it shows that he can`t be relied upon and none of his testimony is reliable. So, it`s a very foolish thing to do. The only thing you can say is he is either delusional or he`s got no relation to the truth.
O`DONNELL: Joyce Vance, it seems to be one of those things where Donald Trump is never satisfied with whatever his excuse might be and reaches for something more. But that`s the kind of thing I`m sure you`ve seen in courtrooms, that`s the kind of testimony, I never spent the night there, that can get people convicted.
VANCE: It really can. Juries punish defendants who they believe are lying to them. And the alibi that`s disproven is one of the most distinct form of lies that you hear defendants tell and really a criminal defendant who tells that lie is finished in the eyes of a jury. But, Lawrence, what I think is just so remarkable here is that this is the president of the United States telling a lie to the director of the FBI, and going back to it again and again. And it`s maybe an outright criminal act, but certainly, it`s an indication that nothing he says can be believed if that conversation with the director of the FBI is sacred, then there`s nothing that`s sacred.
O`DONNELL: Joyce Vance, Jill Wine-Banks, Jennifer Rubin -- thank you for getting us started tonight.
Coming up, Stormy Daniels` previous lawyer, her first lawyer, is reportedly cooperating with federal investigators, and an acquaintance of Stormy Daniels corroborates some of her story. Stormy Daniels` current lawyer, Michael Avenatti, will join us next.
And later, another Trump nominee is in jeopardy. There is reporting tonight about the president`s choice to be V.A. secretary that is very damaging to his nomination. We will be covering that breaking news later in this hour.
O`DONNELL: Actress Jessica Drake says that Stormy Daniels told her twice that she was threatened by someone to stay silent about Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JESSICA DRAKE, ADULT FILM ACTRESS: She actually told me about the threat twice. So the first time she told me about the threat was shortly after it happened. She relayed the experience to me. I said something like I`m so sorry, I can`t even imagine. What are you going to do?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And then, says, Jessica Drake, Stormy Daniels told her about the threat again. During the presidential campaign when Jessica Drake became one of the women who went public with her own accusations about Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DRAKE: She goes, remember what I told you about all those years ago. She goes, be careful. Be really careful. Don`t be alone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: In an interview with Ari Melber tonight, Jessica Drake repeated some of what he said during the presidential campaign about her own experience with Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST, "THE BEAT": And you say point blank he offered you money for sex?
DRAKE: The offer was made. I took it as if it was for sex because the calls that came prior to that were Mr. Trump wants you to join him in his hotel room, and then when I was speaking to Mr. Trump himself on the phone, he asked me, come on. Come on up, what do you want? How much? And then the numbers started to come.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump lumped Jessica Drake in with all the other women who made accusations about him during the campaign and he called them all liars. Something he has never done with Stormy Daniels. Donald Trump has never denied anything that Stormy Daniels has said about him. Not one word.
"The Washington Post" has reported that Keith Davidson, the attorney who represented Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal and negotiating nondisclosure agreements with Donald Trump, is cooperating with the federal investigation of Michael Cohen, the lawyer who represented Donald Trump in those negotiations. A spokesperson for Keith Davidson said, quote, he has done so and he will continue to cooperate to the fullest extent possible under the law.
Today the White House was occupied by questions about tweets from the president this weekend attacking a "New York Times" story that said the White House was worried Michael Cohen flipping and becoming a witness against Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: What was he worried that he`s going to flip over?
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think he said even in that there isn`t anything there for that to happen.
REPORTER: Why not tweet that then? Why open the opportunity for him to flip? It suggests that he has something to hide, doesn`t it?
SANDERS: No, I don`t think the president has anything to hide. I think he`s been quite clear on that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining the discussion now, Michael Avenatti, the attorney for Stormy Daniels.
And, Michael, I want to get your reaction to what Jessica Drake has to say in offering corroboration for Stormy Daniels telling her about the threat that she says she got from Donald Trump. I just want to add an amendment what I just said about Donald Trump never denying anything Stormy just said, the only thing he seems to contest is the idea that he was in any way involved in this threat to her.
MICHAEL AVENATTI, ATTORNEY FOR STORMY DANIELS: Well, you`re right, Lawrence. I mean, he`s never admitted anything either. He`s really stood behind the White House spokespeople, the deputy and Ms. Sanders.
But, you know, I think Ms. Drake`s statement further bolster my client`s credibility, not that she needed it quite frankly because I think that the vast majority of Americans have now seen her on two interviews "60 Minutes" and "The View". They`re heard the story directly from her, and I think her credibility is bullet proof as to what happened in connection with this threat and what happened in connection with the relationship she had with Mr. Trump in 2006 and 2007.
But I want to go back to something you just showed, that was Ms. Sanders outside the White House, and she actually told the press corps, that the tweet the president sent this weekend had a reference to the fact that he didn`t have anything to hide. That`s just a complete joke. I mean, are they actually making this up as they go along, because it appears so, Lawrence.
That tweet which I responded to and I read it a number of times, it said no such thing at all. That`s what it should have said if he was an innocent man. That`s what it would have said, that`s all it needed to stay, but it didn`t include that statement at all.
The president is clearly concerned, and he should be. He should be panicked, and it appears that he is, about what Michael Cohen may do next.
O`DONNELL: And you`ve been consistent from the start that Michael Cohen, as soon as you knew about the raid -- that Michael Cohen was going to crack, Michael Cohen was going to flip. You`ve known Michael Cohen for a matter of several weeks now and have had these dealings with him at that arm`s length of lawyers.
But I want to go to Jay Goldberg, who`s now an 85-year-old attorney in Manhattan, represented Donald Trump for decades in very serious legal matters, unlike what Michael Cohen dealt with. And here`s what Jay Goldberg told me about what he believes Michael Cohen will do, and he says he told the president this also.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAY GOLDBERG, LONG-TIME ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: I said, Michael Cohen is the type that he`s interested in protecting himself. And he`ll say whatever he thinks is necessary to get a deal with the government.
O`DONNELL: It sounds pretty bad, you say Michael Cohen will turn against the president, talking to special prosecutors. That sounds pretty bad.
GOLDBERG: He will turn against the -- Donald Trump, if that be his conclusion that that`s what the prosecutor wants.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And, Michael Avenatti, knowing what you do know about the shape of this case and about the shape of the Michael Cohen investigation, if Michael Cohen does flip and start talking about Donald Trump, what do you think could be revealed about the president? I would assume one of the things would be the number of these kinds of nondisclosure agreements he has reached with how many women over how much years.
AVENATTI: Well, Lawrence, I think that`s correct. I think that`s the tip of the iceberg, frankly. I mean, you`re talking about an individual that was at the right hand of Donald Trump for the better part of a decade, the last ten years prior to him being elected president of the United States.
He knows likely where all the bodies are buried. He was involved in whatever unseemly deals were done during that ten-year time period. This is about the last guy you want in the crosshairs. He`s the last guy you want the FBI raiding his home, his hotel room, and his office.
And, Lawrence, you know, I predicted on April 5th, which was a Thursday. It was the Thursday before the raid, which occurred on the following Monday, that ultimately Michael Cohen was going to be in serious trouble and was going to flip on the president.
I was the first one to predict it. I`ve had a number of predictions in this case. I don`t think I have been wrong yet. I`m going to stand by my recent predictions.
Michael Cohen is in a very, very bad spot. He`s in serious trouble. There`s no question in my view he`s going to be indicted. There`s no question he`s going to roll over on the president.
And I`m going to repeat what I`ve said. I do not think the president will survive this term. I think Michael Cohen knows too much. I think he was too sloppy along the way. I don`t think he was too smart in covering his tracks. And I think there`s going to be a mountain of evidence presented against Mr. Trump.
O`DONNELL: When you say you don`t believe the president will survive this term now that Michael Cohen has been raided, now that the FBI has all that evidence from Michael Cohen`s home, office, safety deposit box, and so forth, are you -- are you assuming that there would be criminal conduct there revealed about the president or just conduct that is politically unsurvivable, and the president might resign or the president might find himself in impeachment proceedings?
AVENATTI: I think the amount of heat that is going to come down on Mr. Trump in connection with his personal attorney of ten years turning on him and rolling on him will be insurmountable and I think his only exit in an effort to save whatever face he might have left at that time will be to resign the office. I know a lot of people think that is a bold prediction. I`ve made a number of bold predictions in this case thus far and I haven`t been wrong, I don`t think I`m going to be wrong about this one.
This situation is getting worse by the day. You now have Mr. Goldberg, who you interviewed, he -- I think he described -- I think he described on a scale of 1 to 100 that Michael Cohen wasn`t even a one as it related to protecting Mr. Trump.
O`DONNELL: Exactly. He gives it less than a 1 percent chance that Michael Cohen would actually protect the president in this investigation, at this stage of the investigation.
Michael Avenatti, a lot to think about there what you have to say. Thank you very much once again --
AVENATTI: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: -- for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.
AVENATTI: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
We have more breaking news tonight that one of the president`s cabinet nominations is in very serious trouble. It was going to be an uphill climb for his choice to be V.A. secretary, but new reporting tonight could stop this nomination of Dr. Ronny Jackson. There are serious problems developing on it. We`re going to have that.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: NBC News is now confirming the breaking news that Rachel and I discussed at the beginning of this hour.
Tonight "the Washington Post" was the first to report that President Trump`s choice to head the department of veteran`s affairs has had his confirmation hearing that was scheduled for this week postponed. "The Washington Post" reports Senate lawmakers have postponed the confirmation hearing for Ronny L. Jackson after top Republicans and Democrats raised concerns about his qualifications and oversight of the White House medical staff.
White House and other administration officials were told Monday. The development came two days before Jackson was scheduled to testify before the Senate committee on Veterans affairs. And through what was already looking to be a difficult confirmation process which a further jeopardy.
After "the Washington Post" broke that news tonight, CBS News reported that the Senate veterans affairs committee is reviewing allegations against Ronny Jackson, which include a hostile work environment, excessive drinking on the job and improperly dispensing meds.
Back with us for this conversation, Jennifer Rubin and Jill Wine-Banks. Jill actually used to serve as the general council to the U.S. army.
And Jill, another report note in the CBS report tonight, it says if proven true quote "it will sink his nomination," said one of the sources. And it seems though this information was first brought to the ranking Democrat on the committee, Senator Jon Tester. Jon Tester got in touch with the chairman. Told him about this and here we are now postponing this hearing.
JILL WINE-BANKS, FORMER ASSISTANT WATERGATE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: It`s absolutely the right thing to do. Working in the Pentagon I came to have a great deal of respect for the generals I worked with. They are some of the finest people I have ever worked with. But that doesn`t mean that every officer in the military is qualified to run such a large agency. And that was already a question.
And now with these allegations, it`s almost unconscionable to think that he could possibly go ahead with the confirmation, and it shows what a bad CEO the President of the United States is that he can`t vet his candidates any better than this.
O`DONNELL: And Jennifer, this is Ronny Jackson, the doctor who stood up there and surprised the world by telling us how healthy he believed Donald Trump was and how the hamburger diet was no problem for Donald Trump and apparently overlooked in his presentation of the President`s health, a heart condition and a -- various things in the President`s medical condition at the moment that are not, as the doctor tried to convince us, the healthiest he could possibly be.
JENNIFER RUBIN, OPINION WRITER, THE WASHINGTON POST: This is the typical person who comes into the Trump orbit. He may have had a good career before. He had been well liked. He comes into the Trump orbit and suddenly he is ruined. And Donald Trump has that effect on people.
What is interesting is that no one on the Hill, Republicans or Democrats, was very enthusiastic about this to begin with. They were very lukewarm. And in fact, (INAUDIBLE) wanted to talk to the President`s chief of staff, John Kelly, because he didn`t think this guy was qualified.
So this is yet another example that Trump has no vetting, no sense of qualifications. And because the Congress has just rubber stamped every single one of these people, there`s no incentive to weed people out because they figure out, well, we are just going to get away with it anyway.
So if this is marking a new era and Congress has suddenly and the Senate specifically, is going to come alive and actually do its job, all the better. And we really do need a very good veterans administration secretary. It`s been a troubled agency. It`s huge. It is complicated. It has a -- an enormous budget, I believe over $180 billion.
So I think it would be best for all concerned at this point if he went away or went back to being the President`s doctor. And the President actually talked to some people on the hill, got some input -- remember it is advice and consent. Why doesn`t he talk to people who knows something about the subject matter and get their input so that he sends up a nominee who is halfway qualified and might get confirmed.
O`DONNELL: Jill Wine-Banks, Ronny Jackson get glowing remarks from people who knew him, who worked in the White House who I have spoken to, who work in the Obama White House when he was there. And so, the challenge was going to be in the confirmation, the same challenge that the other physician in the cabinet faced, Ben Carson. What is your executive competence? Where have you demonstrated any executive competence?
Now we have an accusation that according to the CBS News report tonight is about excessive drinking on the job, improper dispensing of meds. But something like excessive drinking on the job is hard to miss. And it`s quite a striking collusion with the image that people in both parties had been very supportive of Ronny Jackson as a person.
WINE-BANKS: Well, it may explain why he thought the President was in such good health was he had been drinking a lot before he made that evaluation. It is the only thing I can think of, because that`s a serious problem. And it should have been noted if he has been unkind to people in the office, if he`s mismanaged a small medical office, how can we trust him with the health of our veterans? One of the most important things that we have to do is to protect our veterans and protect their health. This would be really awful.
O`DONNELL: This is one of those stories that we are literally going to be learning more about by the hour. And so tonight`s 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS, I`m sure will have even more on this.
Jennifer Rubin and Jill Wine-Banks, thank you very much for joining us as part of our discussion.
And President Macron of France is the Donald Trump`s favorite President ever because the guy really, really knows how to run a parade. Can President Macron convince President Trump not to kill the Iran deal?
O`DONNELL: Mike Pompeo`s nomination to be the second Trump secretary of state is quick through the Senate foreign relations committee tonight on a party line vote. Now that Republican Rand Paul has switched from pretending he would vote against Pompeo`s nomination to actually voting for it in the committee. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell said there is no doubt about the final confirmation vote on the Senate floor.
President Trump`s favorite European President arrived in Washington today. French President Emanuel Macron, who Donald Trump admires because he gives the best parades Donald Trump has ever seen. President Macron who appears to approach Donald Trump as if approaching a very dangerous child, sees his most important mission of the week to be convincing President Trump to continue United States` participation in the deal that prevents Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
The other parts, the other parties to that deal are the United Kingdom, Russia, China and Germany.
Last night on his HBO show, John Oliver came up with a strategy to convince the President to preserve the Iran deal. He reserved advertising time on FOX News for the President to see this add.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How was your day?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, dad.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dinner is ready.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m starving.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey there, Donald. Sorry to interrupt your supper. I`m a cowboy. Don`t like (INAUDIBLE). And I`m here to tell you the Iran deal may not be perfect but it helps restricts Iran`s ability to start making a bomb for at least ten years. You blow up the deal and that turns into zero years. And if I have learned one thing from all these years of cowboying (INAUDIBLE) is that zero is way less than ten.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s correct.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Also, you want to listen to a guy with a mustache like this? Don`t do it, Donald. Don`t do it. Hey, does anyone smell gas?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God, the stove.
O`DONNELL: If a cowboy on FOX News can`t convince Donald Trump, can a French President? That`s next.
O`DONNELL: The inside word has obviously reached Europe, and so even the President of France knows that the best way to talk to the President of the United States is through FOX News which he did yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT: For nuclear, what do you have as a better option? I don`t see it. What is the what-if scenario or your plan B? I don`t have any plan B for nuclear against Iran. So that is the question we will discuss. But that`s why I just want to say on nuclear, let`s preserve its framework because it`s better than that assault of North Korean type of situation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now Laura Haim, the French journalist who was the spokesperson and strategist for President Macron`s election campaign. And Ron Klain is a former chief of staff to vice president Joe Biden, Al gore and a former senior aide to President Obama.
And Laura Haim, Emanuel Macron is obviously at this point probably the most convincing foreign leader who could talk to Donald Trump about staying in the Iran deal, to which France is also a party. Are you aware of any strategies he has in dealing with President Trump about this?
LAURA HAIM, MEMBER OF MACRON`S DELEGATION TO U.S.: I think he really wants to talk to him face to face and be quite courageous and speak in a straight way by saying, Mr. President, you cannot leave the Iran deal. You have to make sure you understand what is at stake and that`s the message that President Macron wants to bring.
This is extremely important for him this week. You know that at the end of the week, the chancellor of Germany will come to D.C., and before that, Emanuel Macron, President Macron is going to try to be the diplomat in- chief, the negotiator in-chief to make sure that the American commander in- chief understands what is at stake.
O`DONNELL: And, Ron Klain, this seems to be a classic example of why leaders like Emanuel Macron treat the President of the United States with so much courtesy and externally with so much respect publicly with so much respect. This is the office of the President of the United States. This is the person who can pull the United States out of the Iran deal. France is part of the Iran deal. They need it to survive. Donald Trump`s the person that he has to deal with.
RON KLAIN, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN AND AL GORE: Yes. I mean it`s crazy that the President loves the parades in France so much that maybe he is willing to listen to Macron. Maybe if this doesn`t work, we will get the President of Macy`s to come down and do the next state visit.
But, look, I do think that we are 19 days away, 19 days away from an enormous decision that President Trump has to make. A decision that not only could unleash a nuclear program in Iran, but a nuclear arms race in the most dangerous part of the world. And I think the world`s best hope right now is Emanuel Macron persuading Donald Trump that there is no alternative. That he needs to stay in this agreement. And if he doesn`t, if President Macron cannot persuade President Trump of that, if his new national security team of Bolton and Pompeo get their way, we are going to see an incredibly dangerous scenario unfold in this highly dangerous part of the world.
O`DONNELL: Laura Haim, if the United States pulls out of the deal, that leaves France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Russia, Iran. That leaves a deal still there with the remaining parties. Does Emanuel Macron have a strategy for preserving the deal without the United States?
HAIM: At this moment, I think he really wants to convince President Trump to stay in the deal. And there was something quite striking a few moments ago when Emanuel Macron arrived here, was in front of the delegation, and he says something which was quite interesting. He said you know the values in the United States are based on courage and liberty. And I think with Donald Trump, that`s what he`s going to try to do. He is going to show him that you should have the courage to stay in this deal. You should stay in this deal. It`s too important to pull out. And you know he doesn`t want also Iran to have a lot of influence in this sensitive region. This is a very sensitive moment for the President Macron to have this deal stay in place in the world we live in.
O`DONNELL: Ron Klain, I think if we were asked what does Emanuel Macron have in common with Donald Trump, it would take us a long time to come up with anything. But President Macron has thought about that, and he talked yesterday on FOX News, which is to say directly to the President, about what they have in common and their special relationship. Let`s listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MACRON: We have a very special relationship because both of us are probably the maverick of the systems on both sides. I think President Trump`s election was unexpected in your country, and probably my election was unexpected in my country. And we are not part of the classical political system.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: See? Ron Klain, they have got a lot in common.
KLAIN: Yes. I think President Macron needs to get ready for that Electoral College map lecture that President Trump likes to whip out.
But whatever it takes, look, I think whatever common ground he can find, really the security of the world -- I mean I don`t want to be mellow dramatic, but the security of the world is at stake here. And there seems to be very few people who are positive influence on President Trump in this decision-making process.
With the Pompeo nomination now moving through the Foreign Relations Committee towards confirmation, he will be the secretary of state when this decision is made. We know he is against the Iran deal. We know Bolton is against the Iran deal. So we are going to have to be essentially saved from ourselves by this foreign intervention, by the leadership of President Macron. That is our best chance to preserve this vital security framework.
O`DONNELL: Laura Haim, one of the big challenges President Macron has is he has an agenda with more items on it that are very serious and very serious for President Trump. And that is the tariffs the President wants to impose on France and other European countries. And President Macron is there trying to struggle against the President on that. So it seems like he is trying to push Donald Trump back on all of Donald Trump`s priorities with Europe.
HAIM: Yes, he has the analogy of someone who is 40 years old and who wants to make sure the world is a better place for all of us. So what he is going to try to do is, of course, as we just spoke, talk to the President of the United States about the Iran deal, but about what`s happening with the threat. He is also going to try to see one more time what`s happening with the Paris agreement, about the environment because as President Macron said multiple times, he wants to make planet great again. And also he wants to talk to President Trump about the fight against terrorism, about what`s happening in Syria. This is really important.
And according to my sources, President Macron wants also to speak at length with the American delegation about what`s happening in the fight against terrorism.
O`DONNELL: Laura Haim, great to have you back in the show. Really appreciate it.
HAIM: You are welcome.
O`DONNELL: And Ron Klain, sending in the President of Macy`s next. That is the line of the night.
Tonight`s LAST WORD is next.
O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s LAST WORD.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Abstinence only education is making a comeback under Trump. Apparently organizations applying for federal family planning funds must include in their programs a meaningful emphasis on the benefits of avoiding sex. And the benefits of avoiding sex are real. It saves you hush money. Your lawyer doesn`t get raided by the feds. And your wife will still talk to you when the camera turns off.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That`s tonight`s LAST WORD and the word is abstinence.
Brian Williams has more on the breaking news tonight about the serious problems with the confirmation of Ronny Jacksons to be veterans affairs secretary.
THE 11TH HOUR with Brian Williams starts now.
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