Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O'DONNELL Date: May 1, 2018 Guest: Francesca Chambers; Ana Marie Cox; David Cay Johnston
LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
There is so much to discuss tonight, including the breaking news. But I was so struck by Joyce Vance's interview that you did with Joyce Vance in your hour where she talks about in this "Washington Post" report tonight that Robert Mueller brought up the possibility of issuing a subpoena to the president to testify if the president doesn't agree to an interview.
And Joyce Vance said to you that they would have made a very serious decision about even saying that, and that Robert Mueller would not have said that, she doesn't believe, if Rod Rosenstein hadn't already confirmed with Robert Mueller and said, well, if he doesn't agree to an interview and you need an interview, the next stage will be a subpoena, meaning that Rosenstein had in effect preapproved the subpoena so that Mueller then mentioned it.
That was a really fascinating exchange.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": And it has two totally fascinating implications, right? One is the Mueller investigation is proceeding and vaulting over new legal benchmarks, including this subpoena threat to the president with the authority, under the authority of Rod Rosenstein. And this is marching forward as a legal matter.
The other thing it suggests is that we think it's this amorphous and interesting open legal question as to whether or not the president can be compelled to testify, whether he can be forced to testify before the grand jury under a subpoena. We think of that as an open question.
What Joyce is suggesting about the process would indicate that the Justice Department has worked this out and thinks that they can proceed this way, that Mueller would not make this suggestion or threat as an empty one, and therefore, the Justice Department must internally have done the process, which makes them believe that they can do this. Which means that the president's legal team should not be, you know, resting on their heels and super confident in the idea that they'll have the law on their side if they try to say the president can't be subject to this.
O'DONNELL: Yes. I really wanted -- I noticed that you double underlined it when Joyce Vance said it. And I just wanted to double underline it again, really important point about that exchange.
MADDOW: Yes, and we'll learn -- I think we'll learn more when we see more of Mueller's hand. But we may not see that until we see it in court.
O'DONNELL: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O'DONNELL: Well, thanks to tonight's breaking news report in "The Washington Post," we now know to a reasonable certainty why the president's lawyers leaked the list that they wrote of questions that Robert Mueller and his investigators want to ask the president of the United States. The Trump legal team, which was in sole custody of that list, leaked the list of the special prosecutor's questions so that the president could attack the special prosecutor. Of course.
"The Washington Post" reports tonight that the president and several advisers now plan to point to the list as evidence that Mueller has strayed beyond his mandate and is overreaching. It now seems clear that the list of questions was written by the president's lawyers so that they could leak the list. I mean surely they wrote the list for their own internal purposes and to show to it the president. But also so they could leak it.
Robert Mueller's team did not put the questions in writing for the president's lawyers. They simply told the president's chief criminal defense lawyer John Dowd what the questions would be. And John Dowd then had those questions put in written form. And tonight, "The Washington Post" tells us that it was Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow who compiled a list of 49 questions the team believed the president would be asked.
It was Jay Sekulow's list that was handed to "The New York Times." And "The New York Times" says they got the list from, quote, a person outside Mr. Trump's legal team. And that makes John Dowd suspect number one in this leak because he is now outside Mr. Trump's legal team.
In fact, John Dowd quit the Trump legal team within a week and a half of getting those questions from the special prosecutor. The special prosecutor's office could not possibly have leaked the document because they don't have the written list of questions that was created by John Dowd and Jay Sekulow.
John Dowd has denied today that he leaked those questions. But John Dowd can now fairly be described by "The New York Times" or anyone else as a person outside of Trump's legal team. John Dowd is also the star of a dramatic scene delivered as the lead of "The Washington Post" report tonight complete with the terrible dialogue of a terrible Hollywood screenwriter that John Dowd has told NBC News he thinks is an accurate representation of the scene. And that means, of course, it is a scene that makes John Dowd the hero, at least for Trump supporting readers.
In a tense meeting in early March with the special counsel, President Trump's lawyers insisted that he had no obligation to talk with federal investigators, probing Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential campaign. But special counsel Robert S. Mueller III responded that he had another option if Trump declined. He could issue a subpoena for the president to appear before a grand jury, according to four people from familiar with the encounter.
Mueller's warning, the first time he is known to have mentioned a possible subpoena to Trump's legal team spurred a sharp retort from John Dowd, then the president's lead lawyer. This isn't some game, Dowd said, according to two people with knowledge of his comments. You are screwing with the work of the president of the United States.
John Dowd's line is something you could come up with only if you know absolutely nothing about the law. And John Dowd's work for the president has been as unimpressive as any lawyer's work for any president has ever been. He was actually overheard violating attorney-client privilege at a Washington restaurant by reporter Ken Vogel who took notes and reported on the conversation. That's never happened before. That's John Dowd's unique contribution to defending a president.
John Dowd's public unprofessionalism as a lawyer makes it conceivable certainly to me that he could have said something so childish and so silly to Robert Mueller. You're screwing with the work of the president of the United States. Everyone knows, and by everyone, I include high school students who have done a minimal amount of reading about presidents in trouble. Everyone knows that that is not a legal argument for stopping legal process against the president of the United States For investigations of violations of criminal or civil law.
Richard Nixon was investigated by congressional committees and a special prosecutor during wartime. Richard Nixon was managing and losing the Vietnam War every day that he was investigated, and he couldn't stop the investigations by saying you are screwing with the work of the president of the United States.
Bill Clinton was sued while he was president of the United States and had to submit to all of the legal processes of that lawsuit while he was also being investigated by a special prosecutor for violations of criminal law, including violations of law related to the lawsuit. And Bill Clinton was of course impeached by the house of representatives, and he never got to say "you are screwing with the work of the president of the United States."
There is absolutely no description or adjective offered in that scene in "The Washington Post" about how Robert Mueller conducted himself in that room at that moment. And that -- please pay attention to this -- that is always journalistic tell about which side this story is coming from.
No one in the Mueller investigation leaked any of this, and that could not be more clear if you know how to read these reports. Robert Mueller is nothing but a backboard off of which John Dowd gets to dramatically bounce his childish and legally empty line that I for one don't believe he ever said to Robert Mueller, because I'm giving John Dowd credit for being at least, at least smart enough not to humiliate himself with that kind of legal shallowness and all utter childishness in the face of serous and accomplished legal practitioners like Robert Mueller and his team.
Rudy Giuliani is quoted in tonight's "Washington Post" report and so we know that Rudy Giuliani did talk to the reporters, which means he might also be one of the sources of that fake dramatic John Dowd scene. Usually when people like Giuliani talk to reporters, there are things they are willing to say on the record with their names attached in quotation marks, and then there are other things that they say that appear in the very same article with attributions like according to two people with knowledge of his comments.
What Rudy Giuliani did say on the record to "The Washington Post" completely and humiliatingly contradicts Rudy Giuliani. In tonight's "Washington Post" report, Rudy Giuliani says this about the possibility of the president agreeing to an interview with the special prosecutor. Quote, I still have a totally open mind on what the right strategy is, which will develop in the next few weeks. The next few weeks.
According to Giuliani, when he entered this case, it was supposed to be over this week, right now. In Giuliani's first public comments in his new role as the lead Trump criminal defense strategist and leading public spokesperson for the Trump defense team and no doubt one of the leading secret leakers on the Trump team, Rudy Giuliani said 12 days ago, "I don't think it's going the take more than a week or two to get a resolution. They're almost there."
So, anyone seriously following this case and Rudy Giuliani's career was duly warned on the first day of his involvement in this case, do not, do not believe a word that Rudy Giuliani says. A week or two. And here we are at the end of a week or two. And Rudy Giuliani is telling "The Washington Post" tonight that the legal team will now begin developing a strategy for how it will approach the possibility of the president being interviewed by the special prosecutor. And Rudy Giuliani says the strategy will be developed in the next few weeks.
First, it was all going to be over in a week or two. Now, they'll have a strategy about what to do next in a few weeks. The president has never needed Rudy Giuliani to advise him on his strategy, because the president's strategy has been consistent from the start -- to lie and to lie about the investigators and the investigation.
Today, the president tweeted his reaction to his own lawyers' written versions of the questions the special prosecutor wants to ask him. These are the questions the president has known about for well over a month now. And today the president tweeted so disgraceful that the questions concerning the Russian witch-hunt were leaked to the media. No questions on collusion. Oh, I see. You have a made up phony crime collusion that never existed and an investigation begun with illegally leaked classified information. Nice!
And it would seem very hard to obstruct justice for a crime that never happened. Witch hunt!
And joining our discussion now, Nick Akerman, a former federal prosecutor and assistant Watergate prosecutor and MSNBC contributor. Mimi Rocah, a former prosecutor and former U.S. assistant attorney in the Southern District of New York and a fellow at Pace University Law School now. And David Corn, Washington bureau chief from "Mother Jones" and a co-author of the new book "Russian Roulette". He is also an MSNBC political analyst.
And, Nick, I want to go to the first -- I want to go in reverse order. The president's last tweet there about how strange it would be to have an obstruction of justice case about a case at the beginning of which there was no crime.
NICK AKERMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: Well, first of all, I don't know where he gets the idea that there was no crime. There certainly are crimes that are being investigated. There is the hacking into the Democratic National Committee, the theft of those e-mails to be used to help get Trump elected. There is probably a quid pro quo involved in that deal where the Russians agreed to help Trump in the campaign, and the campaign agreed that if elected, they would drop the sanctions that were imposed for Ukraine and by Obama.
Secondly, there is the whole conspiracy relating to the use of data, Facebook and Twitter to try and suppress the Hillary Clinton vote. I mean, we know that Russians have already been indicted for those charges. So, it's just a matter of time before Mueller winds up indicting the people who are on the American side of the equation.
So, the idea that these questions were just out of the blue, had nothing to do with conspiracy, the crime is not collusion. It's conspiracy. And that is what Mueller is looking at.
The obstruction, sure, it's a separate crime. And in Watergate, it was charged as a separate crime because they were unable to prove the involvement of all of these various Nixon officials in the actual break-in. So they were charged and they were convicted of obstruction.
The underlying crime didn't come up because they committed a separate crime. Here, there is a separate crime, but it also serves to prove Trump's consciousness of guilt. Why would he be firing Comey if he wasn't concerned that Comey was going to uncover his crimes?
O'DONNELL: Mimi Rocah, when you go into a negotiation, whether it's about legislation or litigation or anything else that you're in a serious negotiation about, it seems to me if you know how to do it, you know what your ammunition is. And so I, for example, do not mention the word "subpoena" in this discussion unless I know I can issue a subpoena.
MIMI ROCAH, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NY: Absolutely. And I think Joyce was absolutely right in that statement. There is no way -- because any prosecutor, but especially Mueller in this situation, you don't want to make an empty threat.
And I use "threat" loosely because it's really more of a promise, because then you look weak. If you say you're going to do something and you don't, you look weak. And you are in effect.
O'DONNELL: And Mueller would have had to pre-wire his subpoena authority with Rosenstein before he said that in the discussion?
ROCAH: I think so. I think that's a safe assumption here, given that Rosenstein is overseeing the investigation. This is such an important step. And what we know about Mueller and how he conducts himself, I don't think he would have just said this off the cuff, and I don't think he would have said it without first discussing it with Rosenstein.
O'DONNELL: And that brings us to Rosenstein. And, David Corn, I want you to listen to what Rod Rosenstein had to say today because this was extraordinary and would have been the lead tonight here if it wasn't overtaken by this "Washington Post" story, because Rod Rosenstein is this guy who really has been living inside his shell. And we really saw him come out of his shell today when he was asked about the House of Representatives, some people in the House of Representatives moving the idea of impeaching him. He was at a seminar where he was discussing various public issues. He was asked about that.
Let's listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Any reaction to the news that certain members of the House Freedom Caucus have talked about drafting up articles of impeachment, despite your best efforts to comply with their document requests?
ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: They can't even resist leaking their own drafts.
MODERATOR: Would you care to elaborate on that?
ROSENSTEIN: I saw that draft. I mean, I don't know who wrote it. I just don't have anything to say about documents like that that nobody has the courage to put their name on and that they leak in that way.
But I can tell you there have been people who have been making threats privately and publicly against me for quite some time. And I think they should understand by now the Department of Justice is not going to be extorted. We're going to do what's required by the rule of law.
And any kind of threats that anybody makes are not going to affect the way we do our job. We have a responsibility. Everybody in the department takes that oath. We have 115,000 employees. And if they violate it, they know they're going to be held accountable. And I know those folks know that I'm not going to violate my oath.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'DONNELL: David Corn, I think I heard applause out there in the audience watching this show right now. But we have -- that's the most we've heard from Rod Rosenstein about this investigation publicly. And to see him just very easily and I think with tremendous strength bat away these people who are attacking him in the House of Representatives was quite striking and suggests that you get the sense from that that he is backing Robert Mueller 100 percent.
DAVID CORN, CO-AUTHOR, "RUSSIAN ROULETTE": Well, I assume he is at this point. At some point if he doesn't, he probably will have an obligation to get rid of Robert Mueller. But I think we what we have here, we've seen for the last year and a half or so, Trump and his minion, and I use that word in terms of the movie, all kind of nibbling at the Justice Department, and declaring war on the FBI and people who follow rule, traditions and norms.
You know, I think a lot of it has come from the freedom caucus. They've come up with crazy cockamamie theories, conspiracy theories about the deep state and the FBI actually trying to work against Trump before the election as well as after the election. And I think it must be very hard for Rod Rosenstein and Comey when he was in office and Director Wray now to sit back and keep taking this again and again. It's very I think undermining of the morale of people who we count on to protect us from crime and terrorists.
So I think this was probably a gigantic venting. I think probably for the deputy attorney general on a scale of 1 to 10, this was an 11 in terms of pushing back against, you know, the politicos.
O'DONNELL: Mimi, I know Nick believes that the Nixon case established the subpoena power that the prosecutors have against a president. That was a subpoena for documents. So now there is this 21st century question does it apply to testimony? I know Nick believes it certainly does, that it applied to forcing a president to submit to any subpoena they would have issued then.
What is your view? Do we have it clearly enough that the Nixon case established the president's need to comply with a testimony subpoena?
ROCAH: I think so, because if you look at the language of those cases, it's really about, you know, the president not --
O'DONNELL: The Supreme Court opinion on it.
ROCAH: Exactly. It's really about the president not being above the law. And so why would you -- why would that be true for documents but not testimony? So, the principle, you know, and that's how courts decide cases. They take the principle from one case and apply it to slightly different but similar facts.
So, it seems to be it would be applicable to testimony as well.
O'DONNELL: And, Nick, quickly, before we go, did President Nixon's lawyers ever make the argument in court that hey, the president is too busy?
AKERMAN: No, no, they never did that you couldn't do it with this president, because he goes and files his own cases in federal court.
O'DONNELL: That's right. He becomes a litigant himself.
AKERMAN: Himself. And he sought on the golf course all the time. So how can he ever claim he is too busy?
O'DONNELL: Yes, and, David Corn, this is the same president who volunteered to come to New York and sit down and take as long as it took to examine the evidence taken in Michael Cohen's home and office and hotel room to sort out what attorney-client privilege he might have there. He says he is not too busy to participate in that case.
CORN: I think you had it right at the beginning, Lawrence. That line from John Dowd looked like a poor man's version of "West Wing." they're going to puff. And I think it's more or less probably directed at Trump himself. They want Trump to say no. The last thing they want is Trump appearing before Mueller, his lawyers.
O'DONNELL: David Corn, Nick Akerman, Mimi Rocah, thank you all for joining this first round of discussion. We really appreciate it.
John Kelly still has not denied that he called president Trump an idiot repeatedly. He has not specifically denied that.
And Donald Trump seems to have problems with every doctor he deals with. Tonight, you will hear from the Trump doctor who emerged as one of the most colorful characters in the campaign. He now says he feels betrayed by Donald Trump and actually used much stronger language than that in an exclusive interview with NBC News.
O'DONNELL: John Kelly is the new Rex Tillerson. John Kelly is quoted in an exclusive NBC News report saying this about his boss, the president of the United States: "He's an idiot".
John Kelly issued a written statement in response to that story in which he did not deny that he called the president an idiot. Just like Rex Tillerson never denied the NBC News report that he called the president a moron.
Here is John Kelly's written statement that does not specifically deny that he called Donald Trump what most people in the country have at some point called Donald Trump: I spend more time with the president than anyone else and we have an incredibly candid and strong relationship. He always knows where I stand and he and I both know this story is total BS. I am committed to the president, his agenda, and our country. This is another pathetic attempt to smear people close to President Trump and distract from the administration's many successes.
Now, OK, a couple of things. Number one, since when do White House chiefs of staff abbreviate profanities in their written public statements to the news media? Don't worry, don't bother going to look it up. The answer is this is the very first time in history.
And so, John Kelly, who fancies himself the standard bearer of honor and dignity in the most dishonorable and undignified White House in history becomes the first White House chief of staff in history to put "BS" in writing in his official statement.
Let's not let that one just slip by unnoticed in the stream of sludge pouring out of the Trump White House every day. And the other thing is he did not deny saying he's an idiot. And when a news story has a quote like that that is the most explosive piece of a long news story, you don't just issue a blanket denial of the entire story, of every word in the story. And so, the world patiently awaits John Kelly's denial that he called the president an idiot repeatedly.
Rex Tillerson staunchly refused to ever deny that he called the president a moron. And so, tonight, John Kelly is firmly in the Tillerson camp on this one.
Judging by the White House chaos score alone, John Kelly is without question the worst White House chief of staff in the history of the job. And John Kelly is the worst public liar in the history of the job. And John Kelly has supported more public lies by a president than any other White House chief of staff in history, including this lie this weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Senator Jon Tester of a really great place, Montana, he took a gentleman who is a truly high quality human being and what they said about him, what they said about this great American doctor, Ronny Jackson, an admiral in the Navy, Tester started throwing out things that he's heard. Well, I know things about Tester that I could say too. And if I said them, he'd never be elected again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'DONNELL: Donald Trump is lying about Jon Tester. He knows nothing about Jon Tester. He knows he is lying about Jon Tester. And he is lying about Dr. Ronny Jackson who has been criticized not just by Jon Tester and the Senate committee staff, including the Republican staff on the committee, but by Vice President Pence's wife and her physician, who say that Dr. Jackson improperly violated the patient confidentiality of Mike Pence's wife.
John Kelly knows all of that and doesn't care about any of it, because John Kelly has lied with just as much gusto about a member of the House of Representatives.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KELLY, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: The congresswoman stood up. And in the long tradition of empty barrels making the most noise, stood up there in all of that and talked about how she was instrumental in getting the funding for that building. Now, she took care of her constituents because she got the money. And she just called up President Obama. And on that phone call, he gave the money, the $20 million to build the building. And she sat down.
And we were stunned, stunned that she had done it. Even for someone that is that empty a barrel, we were stunned.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'DONNELL: Someone whose that empty a barrel. When immediately every word of that was proven to be completely false, outright lie from start to finish, John Kelly did exactly what Donald Trump would have done, nothing. No apology, nothing.
And John Kelly's refusal to do the decent and honorable thing and apologize to the black woman who he so casually lied about and called an empty barrel told me more about John Kelly than anything else he has done or said in the Trump White House. And he has not redeemed himself one bit since his vicious, lying attack on Congresswoman Frederica Wilson. The tragic truth of John Kelly is that no one working in the Trump White House has publicly demonstrated a closer moral resemblance to Donald Trump himself than John Kelly.
The NBC News report about Kelly calling Trump an idiot indicates that John Kelly believes his job is to make Donald Trump even crueler to immigrants, especially young immigrants whose future depends on the DACA program that the President has tried to kill. This is from the NBC News report.
He doesn't even understand what DACA is. He is an idiot, Kelly said in one meeting, according to two officials who were President. We have got to save him from himself.
John Kelly gloats in that report and takes pride in having prevented the President from entering a perfectly reasonable agreement on DACA with Democrats. White House insiders in that report say that John Kelly only has one goal now, and that is staying in the job until July so that he can have completed one full year as White House chief of staff and pretend that leaving the job is his choice.
The question for John Kelly tonight is how long will the man who John Kelly calls an idiot keep John Kelly in that job?
When we come back after a break, we'll have more of John Kelly's comments inside the White House, including belittling women in the workplace by saying women are more emotional than men. We will be joined in our discussion by Ana Marie Cox and Francesca Chambers.
O'DONNELL: The NBC News exclusive report about John Kelly calling Donald Trump an idiot multiple times is sourced to quote "four officials who say they have witnessed the comments. Another negative comment about Kelly is attributed to quote "one senior White House official." Another negative comment about Kelly is attributed to a second senior White House official.
But attempting to defend John Kelly in the NBC article is a group of quote "three White House spokespeople." And White House spokespeople have never done a weaker job of trying to defend a White House chief of staff against a negative story.
Here is a sample of their work in this NBC News report. The spokespeople, who would not speak for the record said it is possible Kelly may have said women are more emotional than men with one of them agreeing that generally speaking, women are more emotional than men.
Did you get that? One of the White House spokespeople who might be this person not only allowed for the possibility that John Kelly did say that women are more emotional than men, but actually specifically endorsed the idea, saying generally speaking, women are more emotional than men. So the official White House defense of John Kelly is not that he did not say -- that he didn't say that. It's that he's right. The Trump White House view of women in the workplace is quote "generally speaking, women are more emotional than men."
We are joined now by Ana Marie Cox, host of the podcast "With Friends Like These" and political columnist for fan girls from the sci-fi channel. And Francesca Chambers, White House correspondent for the dailymail.com.
Ana, your reaction to the John Kelly "he's an idiot" story as well as the attempted defense by the unnamed spokespeople in that report.
ANA MARIE COX, PODCAST HOST, WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE: You know, some people may have a hard time controlling their emotions, but I'm right now feeling white hot rage. And I don't think you can tell. I think I'm doing a pretty good job at controlling it.
No, this -- the fact that the White House would defend those remarks doesn't surprise me at all. I think the through line of this White House, of course, is the abuse of women and people of color and often women of color. And in fact, the abuse of women is to me the signature act that John Kelly protected and lied about, right? Because that's another thing that came out in recent stories is that he knew about the allegations against Rob Porter for about a year I think it was. And instead of this like sort of mishmash of stories we got right after they came out.
I wanted to believe like a lot of people that John Kelly was going to bring some kind of order and discipline and maybe even sanity to the White House. I just didn't realize he would be, you know, such a misogynist and a racist. It's kind of hard to be that much of one for that long in the military. The military is one of the few meritocracies we have in this country. But somehow he pulled it off, which I guess is a testament.
But I'm glad all this is being found out. I'm glad that the White House is confirming at least some of it. I mean, when you think about what they choose to confirm, I guess I shouldn't be surprised that this is it.
I also want to point out that he did say -- remember when his defense of Trump was to say that women should be cherished? I guess that doesn't necessarily mean being treated equally. And it never really has.
O'DONNELL: And Francesca, one of the things I have been struck by is that John Kelly in Trump White House terms got away with his lies about Congresswoman Wilson. He just got away with it, because at a certain point, they stopped being asked about it. And the Trump White House, their approach is when people stop asking about it, that means we have successfully conquered the story.
And even when all sorts of mainstream newspapers and others do stories about John Kelly, sometimes it doesn't even get mentioned, and it only gets a little footnoted and almost never gets explored in detail. But I have to repeat we have never, ever, ever seen a White House chief of staff stand up there and lie angrily and viciously about a member of the House of Representatives or anyone for that matter, have that lie proven to be a complete lie within hours, and then do nothing about it and never apologize.
FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT FOR THE DAILYMAIL.COM: Well, Lawrence, to add to your list of controversies, of course, there was also Rob Porter and his changing timeline on that. First, he issued a statement defending him, and then tried to say after the fact that right after he found out about it, he scooted rob porter toward the door. So there was that as well.
As far as these comments as to whether he called the President an idiot or not, the White House, in their defense of this article, did acknowledge that he had made comments about the deferred action for childhood arrivals in the past. And it would be hard for them to walk back from that because if you recall, John Kelly publicly said that the President had views that were not fully formed on the issue of immigration during the campaign.
He also said that the President didn't understand the issue fully until he, when he was at DHS and the other quote "real experts" informed the President about that issue, and that the President's views on the border wall had also evolved.
So, if you just look at the past comments that John Kelly has made and not just the current one in the NBC article, it gives you a little hint into whether that was true or not.
And Francesca, one of the striking things about the day he entered the White House press briefing room with you and all the reporters there was he was walking in there to save the day. He was walking in there to take control of this story and save the day. And he ended up doing something that was just stunningly unprecedented and vicious.
CHAMBERS: And also, again, when it comes to again bringing up the Rob Porter thing, the reason those comments even came about is because John Kelly was trying to defend himself in this situation. He seemed to realize that he had made an error and a misstep, and that he needed to correct the record. And that came about months after the fact.
Now whether or not he sees this idiot article as a potential misstep or something he needs to correct and sit down with reporters and speak On the Record more on that matter to the fact some of the other issues in the article you mentioned that he just called the entire thing BS but he did not specifically deny them one by one, we will have to see. Perhaps he thinks at this point the best thing would to just lay low because the last time that he sat down to reporters and tried to do that, some of this things that he said leaked out of that meeting that were not supposed to.
O'DONNELL: That's a great point, Ana. He has never had a publicly successful interaction with the White House press.
But I just want to go back to this point about when you are quoted in the article as saying he is an idiot, if you are seriously contesting the article, you have an obligation to specifically say "I did not say the President is an idiot," or at least set up a question you can be asked and you say was the President an idiot so he can say the word no. You got to get On the Record that. He hasn't done that.
COX: No, he hasn't. And if anything I felt this sort of spin that the White House was trying to put out around this is that they -- what it is? That they had a frank relationship, you know, that they were very frank with each other. That they didn't really speak nicely with each other. So they are trying to set this up as though that these two guys are tough and they can handle these like kind of strong statements to one another.
But if there is one thing we know about Trump is that he is a huge snowflake, right? So I think that -- I don't know what John Kelly's plan is here. Another thing that seems to be coming to light is that we thought he was a disciplinarian, but really he is just kind of a jerk. So I don't know if he has a plan or not. But maybe he wants out. Who knows? That's a one sure way to get out of this White House, right, is to call the President a name. So good luck with your resume there, John.
O'DONNELL: Ana Marie Cox, Francesca Chambers, thanks for joining our discussion tonight. Thank you.
Donald Trump's trouble with doctors continued today when his personal physician in New York City told NBC News that he feels betrayed by Donald Trump. But he used a word much stronger than that that I can't say now, because you have to hear it in context because it is as strange as you can imagine this doctor would put something.
O'DONNELL: Donald Trump can't seem to stay out of trouble with his personal physicians, his own doctors. During the Presidential campaign, Donald Trump's long-time personal physician suddenly became one of the campaign's most colorful characters, to put it mildly. And he seemed to be a shockingly unprofessional medical professional, issuing this letter certifying Trump candidate Trump's health stating Mr. Trump has had a recent complete medical examination that showed only positive results. If elected, Mr. Trump I can state unequivocally will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.
Many of us said at the time it was as if Donald Trump had written that letter itself. And now Dr. Harold Bornstein says that's exactly what happened.
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DR. HAROLD BORNSTEIN, TRUMP PERSONAL PHYSICIAN: I will also tell you that that letter that showed up in "the Times" about his health, he wrote himself.
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O'DONNELL: That was part of an extraordinary report by NBC News today in which Dr. Bornstein says that a month after his patient's inauguration as President of the United States, his Manhattan doctor's office was raided. That was the word he used, raided by long-time Trump bodyguard Keith Schiller and the Trump company's general counsel Alan Garner (ph) along with one other man who the doctor did not recognize. The Trump team seized all of Donald Trump's lifetime of medical records in Dr. Bornstein's possession. And Dr. Bornstein believes that it's because he let it slip publicly that Donald Trump takes Propecia (ph) to stimulate that extraordinary hair growth.
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BORNSTEIN: I feel raped. That's how I feel, raped, frightened and sad. I didn't know what to make of the whole thing. I couldn't believe anybody was making a big deal about a drug that's to grow his hair, which seemed to be so important. And it certainly is not a breach of medical trust to tell somebody they take propecia (ph) to grow their hair? What's the matter with that?
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O'DONNELL: Well, of course it is a breach of medical trust for a doctor to tell anyone anything about any medication that he has prescribed for any patient. We will have more on Donald Trump's very strange doctors next with David Cay Johnston who has been studying Trump world for many years.
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BORNSTEIN: Never in 30 years have I ever talked about Donald Trump with anybody who didn't work in -- in this facility. Never. I was very ultra- careful to lock the charts and lock the labs.
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O'DONNELL: Joining the discussion now, David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who found the DCreport.org.
And David, I want to show you one more clip from Dr. Bornstein today. He wanted to become the White House physician, and then that story about propecia (ph) came out in "The New York Times." And here's how he describes Donald Trump's top staffer Rona Graff calling him about that. Let's listen to what he said about that.
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BORNSTEIN: A morning or two after the story about his hair ran. She said, so you wanted to be the White House doctor? Forget it. You are out.
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O'DONNELL: And so, David, I guess Dr. Bornstein might have been on his way to a cabinet nomination now if it hadn't been for propecia (ph).
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, FOUNDER, DCREPORT.ORG: I sure hope not. But, you know, Donald has an extraordinary track record of getting doctors and others to say what he wants them to say. He didn't have to go to Vietnam because he had a bone spur that didn't keep him from doing anything except serving in the military. Somehow mysteriously at the age of 71 he grew an inch and according to Dr. Ronny Jackson, he only weighs 238 pounds. And if that's true, my hair is still all black.
A long history of Donald getting people to do these things. And it's not limited just to medical bills. I mean there's the mystery of the missing Manhattan sewage where Donald couldn't do a development he wanted because the sewage system in Manhattan was overloaded until one day in 1994, 24 million gallons a day of sewage disappeared. It didn't matter if it rained. It didn't matter if it was a busy day and lots of people came into the city. Every day, 24 million gallons of missing sewage.
O'DONNELL: And, David, the idea that Donald Trump would write his own letter that was supposed to be from his doctor and then said these very Trumpian things that you couldn't imagine a doctor saying, at the time people were saying it sounds like Donald Trump wrote his own letter. Of course he did.
JOHNSTON: Oh, yes. I was among those who went, this is just not a credible letter, clearly. And Donald's done this all his life. He has gotten people to do his bidding, to lie for him, to wink-wink and say, sure, Donald. And like Dr. Bornstein, they all at some point come to regret it.
O'DONNELL: This is one of those stories that shows us the size of life adjustment that Donald Trump had to make in the White House, and he couldn't make it, meaning when you get in the White House, if you think Ronny Jackson's great, it doesn't mean you can push him on to other things as Donald Trump discovered.
JOHNSTON: Right. One of Donald's basic techniques is to tell you he is going to do wonderful things for you. He is going to make you rich. He is going to get you an appointment. He is going to somehow involve you with someone you want to be involved with. And then at the end of the day, it's really what Donald wanted, and if you were dumb enough to go along with it, too bad for you.
O'DONNELL: David Cay Johnston, who has seen it all with Donald Trump, thanks for joining us tonight, David.
Tonight's LAST WORD is next.
O'DONNELL: Time for tonight's last funny word.
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STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: This afternoon, NBC News reported that Kelly has referred to Trump as an idiot multiple times. That -- yes. I believe multiple times because calling Trump an idiot is like Pringles. Once you pop, you can't stop.
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O'DONNELL: Stephen Colbert gets tonight's LAST WORD. And that word is "idiot."
Brian has more on the possibility of Robert Mueller issuing a subpoena for President Trump in the 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS which starts now.
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