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Cohen asserts 5th amendment. TRANSCRIPT: 04/25/2018. The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell

Guests: Eric Swalwell

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL> Date: April 25, 2018 Guest: Eric Swalwell

DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, MOTHER JONES: -- with Donald Trump and everything he has said about intervening in investigations of Hillary Clinton and everything else. And with Sessions` record of not really sticking to the recusals he has already that we can look at the justice department at the top level and its interactions with the White House and think that the fix is not in.

Remember, Donald Trump always talks about things being rigged, rigged, rigged. Well there is a lot of projection that seems to be going on that he is not giving anybody the assurance that these investigations are not being tampered with in some way.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Matt Miller I want to go back to the original point in this segment and that is Rudy Giuliani coming on board the Trump team and the first thing he does is sit down at a basically, legally standing at a principle to principle meeting, Giuliani to Robert Mueller, and he is trying to get a sense of what it is Robert Mueller needs.

What is it that Robert Mueller would be able to tell Giuliani in a situation like that? Giuliani basically wants to know, when does this going to end?

MATT MILLER, FORMER DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE CHIEF SPOKESMAN: I think Mueller would be willing to tell Giuliani what they usually tell lawyers in this situation. We want to talk to your client about these specific areas. The probably wouldn`t preview the exact questions, but he would tell you generally, we want to look into these questions about obstruction of justice. We probably want to look in to the June 9th, 2016, Trump tower meeting and give him a general sense.

I think what we see from Giuliani`s side, there is a tell in what he is doing, and they isn`t a tell is the way he is out talking to the press. There is a leak to "the Washington Post." They clearly came from the Trump team. And there was this On the Record interview from the "the Wall Street Journal," where he is raising questions about whether the Mueller`s team is going to give him a fair shake.

I think it seems likely to me, he -- the President has decided he is not going to give Bob Mueller this interview. He is going to refuse to be interviewed. And if he is subpoenaed, he is taking the fifth.

And what the Trump team there is now trying to do is set up a public explanation for why they won`t cooperate. They are going to say, we met with him, we wanted assurances that he would be fair. We couldn`t get those assurances so we are not going to cooperate.

And that is such an abuse for his office given that the rules from every other federal government employee, from a boarder patrolman to a lying attorney at DOJ, to an auditor of the IRS, if you are investigated by the FBI and take your fifth amendment rights, which you have the right to do as a private citizen, you are fired. You can no longer work for the federal government. And if that the standard for every other federal government employee, it should certainly be the standard for the President of the United States.

O`DONNELL: Go ahead, David, quickly.

CORN: I was going to say, very quickly, Donald Trump lied to Jim Comey about whether he spent a night in Moscow. There is no way any lawyer could let him go before Mueller and gives testimony of any sort and think he is not going to tell 20 different lies and get into further trouble. So I think this is all a game.

O`DONNELL: We are going to have to leave it there.

Matt Miller thank you very much for joining us.

We when we come back, the pink haired Cambridge Analytica whistleblower briefed Democrats in the House today about what Steve Bannon was working on.

And Congressman Eric Swalwell was there. He will join us next.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Wylie, how do you think it went?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What did you tell them?

WYLIE: Answers to their questions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think Congress can do in response to what you told them?

WYLIE: They can investigate it. And see if the actions were compliant with American law.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think that they will?

WYLIE: I hope so. That`s why I came.


O`DONNELL: That`s the now world famous Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie after a closed door meetings with House Democrats on the judiciary and oversight committees yesterday.

According to partial transcripts released by the committee today, Christopher Wylie told Democrats Cambridge Analytica was set up to be essentially a full service propaganda machine. Wylie also told them when Steve Bannon became vice President of Cambridge Analytica in 2014 he wanted to discourage certain groups from voting.

Here is that part of Wylie`s comments.

Question: Did Steve Bannon ever specifically direct the research of or say that he wanted to do research that would help with voter disenfranchisement or depressing voter turnout?

Answer: There is one document which I have that specifically says in bold terms voter disengagement as an objective in the United States.

Question: Did you ever hear Steve Bannon specifically talk about voter disfranchisement or voter disengagement?

Answer: Yes. If by that term you mean discouraging particular types of voters who are more prone to voting for Democratic or liberal candidates, if that is what you mean by that term, then yes.

Today, Christopher Wylie met with Democrats on the House intelligence committee. And After that meeting, Wylie tweeted of who just finished a five hour session with the U.S. House intelligence committee, very thorough questions from Congressman Adam Schiff, Schiff and committee members. Thanks to Nancy Pelosi for hosting. Now I need a drink.

Joining us now congressman Eric Swalwell, a Democratic congressman from California, a member of the House intelligence committee. He was in that meeting today. And David Corn is still with us.

And Congressman Swalwell, what did you learn today that has improved your understanding of what Cambridge Analytica was up to and Steve Bannon was up to?

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Good evening, Lawrence. And I share his sentiment. I need one too.

But you know, what we learned from Mr. Wylie was first he was credible, he was forthcoming. He flew over from the UK to testify to us. But we learned that there were people on the Cambridge Analytica team who had a relationship with Julian Assange. We learned that the Cambridge Analytica team had engaged in election interference and compremont (ph) in a Nigerian election. We also learned that the Cambridge Analytica team through Steve Bannon was trying to suppress voter turnout.

Now, these are things that would probably disqualify you from working on most campaigns but you can understand why it was probably something that help them get the job on the Trump campaign.

We also learned that Republicans are completely uninterested in participating in this because they were invited because they were invited but because they shut down the investigation, they did not show up. So we are going to continue going to continue to do all we can to unearth the evidence so we can protect the ballot box in November.

O`DONNELL: David Corn, and this goes straight into your book, "Russian Roulette."

CORN: Yes.

O`DONNELL: Mr. Wylie talked about how Steve Bannon was getting Cambridge Analytica to do studies of American voter reaction to Vladimir Putin and questions about how American voters saw Putin.

CORN: That is very intriguing. I wonder why Cambridge Analytica, of all the things to focus on, would focus on what people think of Putin. Now of course, we know from an early part of the campaign Donald Trump was making lots of flattering remarks about Putin, hiding the fact that he was doing business with Russia at the same time. And could it be as simple as saying well, Trump`s going to keep talking this way, we want to know if that helps or hurts.

You can come up with more devious explanations. And you know, I wanted to go back to what the Congressman just said, the Republicans did not attend the House intelligence session. There was another session with other committees. Republicans did not attend that either. I mean, I know we live in a very tribalize partisan environment at this point in time, but if Republicans don`t give a damn about the misuse of datum political campaign, probably will come back to bite them on the you know what as well. But it is a real (INAUDIBLE) of duty.

O`DONNELL: And congressman Swalwell, we know Christopher Wylie has spoken to similar committees in the parliament in the UK where he did get bipartisan attention there to what he had to say.

SWALWELL: Yes. He was struck at how one-sided our attendance was today. He was telling us in between questions when we were talking breaks that over in the UK, he said you had a number of different parties who were participating. And he was surprised that wasn`t the case here.

Now it may also not surprise you, Lawrence, that right now Democrats, as we are starting to see evidence that there may have been a hack of the Republican national committee that we continue to offer to Republicans a truce, a use truce, so to speak, that neither side would use in this upcoming election any hacked materials from a foreign power against the other side. And the Republicans still, to this day will not take us up on this.

And so we just have to sit back and ask like are they essentially inviting countries to hack our democratic candidates or are they open to that? Do they know something that we don`t? But why can`t they just unite with us to say we are never going to tolerate another country from interfering in our election?

O`DONNELL: Congressman Eric Swalwell and David Corn, thank you both for joining us, really.

SWALWELL: My pleasure.

CORN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Donald Trump`s embattled nominee to be V.A. secretary, Ronny Jackson, has been meeting with White House staffers tonight. There has been little time left in his candidacy for that job. He will withdraw, as I told you last night. Now it`s just a question of timing. Will he withdraw tonight, tomorrow, next week? That`s next.


O`DONNELL: Well, he hasn`t withdrawn the nomination yet, but right on schedule, the Trump White House is leaking word that Dr. Ronny Jackson is getting fed up with the confirmation process and he is thinking about throwing in the towel and withdrawing as President Trump`s nominee to be secretary of Veterans Affairs.

As viewers of this program already know, Dr. Jackson will never have a confirmation hearing and will indeed withdraw his nomination. It`s just a question of timing. Will it be tonight? Will is it tomorrow tonight, Friday night or is it better for Donald Trump to actually keep this controversy alive for as long as he can to help divert attention from his friend Michael Cohen invoking the Fifth Amendment.

Reuters reports Ronny Jackson was in a meeting at the White House tonight discussing whether to withdraw as Trump`s nominee to have the department of Veterans Affairs. NBC News reports Ronny Jackson has grown increasing frustrated with the process and his inactive discussion with senior White House officials about withdrawing his name from consideration ahead of this confirmation according to two sources with knowledge of the conversations.

Today, the senior Democrat on the Veterans Affairs committee Senator John Tester released a summary of damaging allegations against Ronny Jackson made by 23 of Ronny Jackson`s colleagues.

According to new allegations at a secret service going away party, Jackson got drunk and wrecked a government vehicle. Another new allegations first reported over "the New York Times" says Ronny Jackson provided such a large supply of perk set, a prescription opioid to a White House military office staff member that he threw his own medical staff into a panic when they couldn`t account for the missing drugs. Here`s the principal deputy White House press secretary tonight.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is he going to withdraw? Are you preparing for that? Are you preparing for him to withdraw?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are prepared for everything.


O`DONNELL: Prepared for everything means, of course, they are prepared for him to withdraw.

White House reporter Francesca Chambers joins us next. She asked the tough questions about Ronny Jackson in today`s White House briefing.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you having a good day?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Things are going great, guys. Appreciate it.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Francesca Chambers, White House correspondent for

And Francesca, in the briefing today, you had the tough questions for them on Ronny Jackson. It seems like -- I mean, obvious to say, they weren`t ready for this. They weren`t ready for it when the President announced it. Though it seems to be it was the President`s idea of nominating him without any vetting whatsoever. And now they don`t seem ready to answer any of your questions now that the confirmation is in trouble.

FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, DAILYMAIL.COM: Yes, Lawrence. I asked a pretty straightforward question why the press secretary Sarah Sanders today after she said that Ronny Jackson had had four different background checks. I asked her if any of those were conducted while President Trump was in office. And more recently since he said he wanted Ronny Jackson to be his Veterans Affairs secretary. And she kind of hedged on the question and said that she believed that the last one had been conducted since President Trump had taken office at the beginning of the administration. But certainly, that was a question that the White House should have expected today and had a direct answer on.

O`DONNELL: The summary allegations released by senator John Tester, I`m just going to read a sample of them. Jackson was described as, these are quote, "the most unethical person I have ever worked with. Flat-out unethical, explosive, 100 percent bad temper, toxic, abusive, volatile, incapable of not losing his temper. The worst officer I have ever served with. Despicable." It goes on.

These are anonymous. I don`t want to over give them as much weight as they would deserve if they had names on them. But one of the reasons they are anonymous is a lot of these people who have spoken to the committee staff currently work with Ronny Jackson and they don`t want to suffer the consequences of what they have to say.

CHAMBERS: But that`s also something that`s allowed the White House to say look, these are anonymous sources. These are people who are unwilling to come forward and state their name. It`s also helped them to be able to say that perhaps these are people who are bitter with Dr. Ronny Jackson and have something to gain potential by wanting to see him in this position. So absolutely, it`s something that is helping the White House`s case here.

O`DONNELL: And of course, Ronny Jackson has no experience whatsoever with this kind of thing. I mean, there`s a lot to say about the experience he doesn`t have to run a giant organization like the V.A., but he has no experience with this stuff, with these kind of explosive situations developing in the news media about him and about his background.

And so, I`m wondering whose job is it in the White House to give him a realistic frame of what`s happening to him. He might not realize that this is all over. Someone may have to tell him it`s all over.

CHAMBERS: Well, we know that he was huddling at the White House today with White House press secretary Sarah Sanders. And, of course, later on in the evening, there were other White House officials in the press office involved in meetings with him. So there are certainly people who are dealing with this at the White House.

The last that we heard from the White House on this topic was deputy press secretary Raj Shah saying they believe that he deserves a hearing and that he should have an opportunity to defend himself.

And we also know that Dr. Ronny Jackson was on Capitol Hill this evening clearly trying to make the same case for lawmakers to move the ball forward here. But we are also hearing the White House say from Raj Shah and others that at this point they are making preparations for the fact that he could withdraw his name from the nomination process. And of course that hearing that he was supposed to have has been delayed indefinitely at this point. So there`s no hearing on the books to speak at this point for him.

O`DONNELL: Francesca, I promise you, there will be no hearing. I hate to be the one to break it to the world, but -- and to Ronny Jackson if he is watching. There will be no hearing.

Francesca Chambers, thank you very much for your reporting and for your questions in the briefing today. Really appreciate it.

We will be right back.


O`DONNELL: That`s tonight`s LAST WORD.

If Ronny Jackson withdraws his nomination before midnight, Brian will cover that live in the 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS, which starts now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tonight, Rudy Giuliani and Robert Mueller have met face to face. The latest reporting from "the Washington Post" on the negotiations over a potential Mueller interview of Trump.

Plus, Michael Cohen says he will plead the fifth in the Stormy Daniels lawsuit. We will look at what that might mean for the President.

And the nomination of the President`s doctor to run the V.A. is in deep trouble. Even more bombshell allegations just out tonight. Now the late word, he`s considering withdrawing his nomination.

THE 11TH HOUR on a Wednesday night begins now.