Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: June 12, 2018 Guest: Nicholas Kristof, James Fallows, Ron Klain
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel. I`m busy taking notes. I`m just -- on Thursday, I`m going have to rerun the tape.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "ALL IN": I didn`t even get to what`s going to happen to Michael Cohen on Friday.
O`DONNELL: Yes, we`re going talk about Michael Cohen here in this hour and the worries within Trump world about Michael Cohen.
But, Rachel, you know, people have said, some observers have said that Donald Trump sometimes makes a mess of things, but the mess you were talking about earlier in your hour is actually a criminal mess. The Federal Record Act says you cannot create a federal record and do that to it.
Can`t do that. It`s a crime. That`s a crime, if you`re the president or White House chief of staff and you write down notes of a meeting you`ve just had and you rip them up, that`s a violation of Federal Records Act.
MADDOW: And I love that they`ve tried to mitigate that criminal act by having other people grab stuff off the floor and out of his trash can and piece it back together as if he never tore it up in the first place. Maybe no one will notice. That`s been the operative plan involving many, many staffers of the federal government getting paid a lot of money to do that full time for months now.
O`DONNELL: And so, is it -- is it a violation if you rip it up and someone else tapes it back together? The courts have not ruled on that yet.
MADDOW: Presumably, once somebody tells you, hey, sir, that`s a crime, you can`t do that, then the next time you do it, it`s got to be a crime, right?
O`DONNELL: Yes, it really changes a lot the next time you do it. Thank you, Rachel.
Don`t! Stop, stop, stop! Don`t do it!
O`DONNELL: Remember when the president of France was Donald Trump`s new best friend with all those awkwardly longhand shakes and pats on the back and strange touching?
Well, it sounds like Donald Trump has a new best friend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Really, he`s got a great personality. He`s a funny guy. He is a very smart guy. He is a great negotiator. He loves his people, not that I`m surprised by that. But he loves his people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: He loves his people.
There is a reason that Kim Jong-un is the only overweight person we have ever seen in North Korea, and that is because he is the only person in North Korea who gets to eat as much as he wants, as often as he wants, eat and drink as much as he wants whenever he wants, whatever he wants, and he starves his people. Starves them.
Masses of North Koreans are starving every day and every night, and the president of the United States says the North Korean hereditary dictator loves his people. He loves his people so much that Donald Trump said it twice. Donald Trump has never praised another head of state more fully than he praised Kim Jong-un. President Trump has now said stronger words of praise about Kim Jong-un than he has ever said about even Benjamin Netanyahu.
Great personality, funny guy, great negotiator. Kim Jong-un didn`t say any of those things about Donald Trump. Yet Donald Trump, to say all of that, the only thing Kim Jong-un had to do was sign a piece of paper that said he, quote, commits to work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
Kim didn`t have to say what century that would take place in. He didn`t have to say what denuclearization means to him. And so, another line of that piece of paper that the president and the dictator signed says that they, quote, commit to hold follow-on negotiations led by the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a relevant, high level DPRK official at the earliest possible date. Not even a date certain.
There isn`t even a deadline for their next meeting, and the document doesn`t name the North Korean official who Mike Pompeo will be meeting with, because, of course, Kim Jong-un just might kill a few North Korean officials between now and then. So, he`s not going to name the North Korean official who Mike Pompeo will meet with because he doesn`t want to guarantee that any particular North Korean official will not be killed before that meeting.
Kim holds power through murder of people around him, including relatives and by terrorizing his entire country, and by starving millions of people. That`s the person who Donald Trump now trusts and believes. President Trump said repeatedly that he believes that Kim is going to do everything that the United States wants him to do. We have never seen a more naive and trusting American president in a summit meeting with a foreign leader of any country in history.
And we have never seen a president of the United States in a summit meeting with a more vicious leader of any country, a more untrustworthy leader of any country. And this is the leader who Donald Trump trusts and believes and praises more than any other in the world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: The man you met today, Kim Jong-un, as you know, has killed family members, has starved his own people, is responsible for death of Otto Warmbier. Why are you so comfortable calling him very talented?
TRUMP: Well, he is very talented. Anybody that takes over a situation like he did at 26 years of age and is able to run it and run it tough -- I don`t say he was nice or I don`t say anything about it. He ran it. Very few people at that age -- one out of 10,000 probably couldn`t do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Run it tough. He ran it tough on Otto Warmbier.
The president of the United States is actually praising the toughness of a hereditary dictator, a man who inherited his dictatorship and runs it tough through murder and torture and starvation and imprisonment of anyone and everyone he feels threatened by. And so, nothing was accomplished at the Singapore summit unless you believe that North Korea`s willingness to continue to talk to the secretary of state is an accomplishment. But North Korea has always been willing to talk to the secretary of state. And so, Mike Pompeo will be the latest secretary of state to try to get North Korea to give up nuclear weapons.
Joining us now is John Heilemann, national affairs analyst for NBC News and MSNBC. He is the co-host and executive producer of Showtime`s "The Circus". Also with us, Nick Kristof, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for "The New York Times", who has reported from North Korea multiple times. And James Fallows, Europe editor for "The Atlantic", former speech writer for President Jimmy Carter and co-author of the new book "Our Towns: 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America."
John Heilemann, he loves his people. The president actually went to that point. And this is the same president who made so much of the Otto Warmbier case, a death that he blamed on Kim.
JOHN HEILEMANN, NBC NEWS AND MSNBC NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: We know the president doesn`t know very much about very much. That`s been on vivid display throughout his presidency. I think that -- and this will not be news to anybody either when you watch this performance, you see a moral cipher, someone who is the guy who came on this network when he was running for president and said that he admired Vladimir Putin`s toughness.
And when it was pointed out that Vladimir Putin had murder journalists, he said well, so what? It`s better than Barack Obama who is weak, and we`ve killed people, too, in the United States. That was -- there was a moral vacuousness to that comment, and there`s an abject, kind of horrifying moral vacuousness that happened in Singapore yesterday. It`s just one of the most depressing things that I`ve seen and I`ve been pretty depressed during this administration.
O`DONNELL: Nick, you`ve been to North Korea multiple times. Your reaction to what happened yesterday.
NICHOLAS KRISTOF, COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, look, North Korea is not just one more repressive country. It is the most totalitarian country ever. A U.N. report noted it has no parallel. The International Bar Association did a report by a concentration camp survivor, a survivor of Auschwitz.
He compared the labor camps in North Korea to those that he had survived in. And so --
O`DONNELL: And these labor camps have been going on for decades.
KRISTOF: Since the beginning of the country. About 100,000 political prisoners are sent to them. And what is different -- lots of countries imprison dissidents. But in North Korea, if you are labeled a political prisoner, if you have, for example, a cell phone that can near the China border area that can reach into China, if you have a radio with a dial so that it can get South Korean broadcasts, then not only are you sent to the camp, but three generations of the entire family are sent together.
And so, this is a country that really does not have a parallel. And what troubled me the most I think was not just the silence about human rights, but President Trump seemed to become a defender of North Korea, a spokesman for North Korea. And he -- I mean, he referred to military exercises as a great provocation which is the North Korea position. He said that, yes, North Korea is a little rough on human rights, but lots of countries are rough.
And in that same VOA interview, he was asked his message to the North Korean people. And he said -- he spoke up for Kim Jong-un. He said, yes, he loves his people. We like him. And he is trying to do right by his people.
And, you know, I just was imagining what happens to somebody who`s got family members in those camps, and they`re thinking, they`re hearing that in this illegal radio in North Korea, and the despair they must feel.
O`DONNELL: Let`s underline this. Voice of America radio is pumped into North Korea for the few people who can hear it. And what Voice of America wants them to hear is some kind of hope. And what they heard was the president of the United States praising the dictator of their country.
KRISTOF: That`s exactly right. And the only people who could hear that would be on radios that had been illegally tinkered with to get short wave broadcasts or to get Chinese stations. And so, they`re taking an enormous risk silently listening where nobody can hear them to that broadcast with the pictures of the great leader and the Dear Leader staring down at them from the wall that every house must have.
And then to hear President Trump say commend their leader and say that he loves his people, I mean, what do you say?
O`DONNELL: And we now have a new breaking news report from North Korea saying that Donald Trump has agreed to lift sanctions on North Korea. That is a claim being made by North Korean state media at this hour, saying Donald Trump agreed to lift sanctions against North Korea along with providing it with security guarantees. The nation`s state news agency has claimed.
The Korean news agency also reported that Kim Jong-un had accepted an invitation to visit the White House, said Mr. Trump had indicated he would lift sanctions along with ending military exercises with South Korea. There was no independent confirmation of the claim, and no immediate comment from the White House.
And, James Fallows, the truth of it is we have no idea what was said in that room by either one of them.
JAMES FALLOWS, EUROPE EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: Exactly, because if you benchmark this against normal militia, a head of state meeting would happen as the last stage because there would be preparation by staff members and secretaries of state. And these things could be worked out.
And at a minimum, there would be aides in the room to hear what one of these people was saying to the other so we would know that for a fact, and you wouldn`t have the president of the United States talking about highly provocative war games, which is what North Korean state media has been saying for decades in "The People`s Daily" in China.
So this is one more sign that just winging it has consequences.
O`DONNELL: The report also quotes Kim as saying that the North could take additional goodwill measures. And so, John, this was what we`re anticipating last night, two liars go into a room, two proven liars go into a room, and they`re the only sources of what was said in that room.
And Kim wasn`t going to say this smart enough to not try to say this publicly while Donald Trump was with him.
O`DONNELL: And so now he says it in North Korea to the North Korean news agency. And what is the president of the United States going to do about this man who he has been praising? Does he now call him a liar or does he say yes, I offered to lift sanctions?
HEILEMANN: And these are some things that he has already hinted are things he was going to do in the future, at the appropriate time. It`s going to be hard for him to say, well, you know, what I said in the press conference that I would let him come to the White House at an appropriate time. I didn`t say now. You know, splitting hairs in a situation where there is going to be no proof.
All of the things that we`re now talking about, some we know to be true that are things Trump says are going to happen related to what are called war games by some. Some are now asserted by the North Korean state media, tangible things, a trip to the White House, lifting of sanctions, security assurances. These are all tangible things.
And what did Donald Trump get for those tangible things? Nothing. Not a single tangible thing. Aspirations, happy talk, things that might happen one day in the future. And the same things North Korea has been saying to successive administrations for the past 30 years.
If this, I never like to play this game because it is just so shooting fish in a barrel with a big submachine gun, but if Barack Obama had done this --
HEILEMANN: -- the entire Republican Party would be calling for his impeachment tonight.
O`DONNELL: Well, we can fill the rest of the hour showing video of Republicans criticizing President Obama for even mentioning the possibility of talking directly to the North Korean leader, and including the Republicans who were in the room with Donald Trump yesterday in Singapore, Mike Pompeo and John Bolton.
And so, this is clearly one over those instances where they are spinning a complete circle exclusively because Donald Trump is doing it.
KRISTOF: That`s right. There are a number of things that we could reasonably have expected to get. It would have been reasonable to have North Korea commit to have no more nuclear tests, no more missile tests.
In 1994, they committed to freezing plutonium, to having international inspectors. As recently as 2005, they committed to rejoining the NPT. They could have committed to some kind of verification regime, international inspectors. And none of that happened.
So, one has to sort of assume that they`re simply going back to what they originally promised in 1992, which is denuclearization, by which they mean essentially that the U.S. no longer protects South Korea. And in the meantime, you know, we gave up some valuable things. We gave up military exercises.
We gave the legitimacy that we confer on Kim Jong-un. We gave the lavish praise that President Trump provided to him. We gave security guarantees in which the content is not specifically known.
But we -- our great deal maker gave up quite a bit. And as John says, we didn`t get anything.
O`DONNELL: Let`s take a look at the motivational video that the president of the United States had made to show to Kim Jong-un, to show him what his future could be. Let`s look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Will he shake the hand of peace and enjoy prosperity like he has never seen? A great life or more isolation? Which path will be chosen?
Featuring President Donald Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un in a meeting to remake history, to shine in the sun. One moment, one choice. What if?
The future remains to be written.
(END VDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: James Fallows, that looks like a child`s presentation to another child to try to convince them to come to the party. And apparently Donald Trump wants to lift sanctions on speed boats. That`s why he had that speed boat in the video.
But Donald Trump is a true believer in materialism. There is nothing that matters to him more than his stuff. And he thinks that`s universal, and he thinks that Kim wants those speed boats for his people.
FALLOWS: And he probably wants some for himself.
But that video, like so many things about Donald Trump was unintentionally very revealing, because I agree with John and Nick, the United States got absolutely nothing from this deal and gave up tremendous amount. Donald Trump got something, at least in the short-term, at least in the theme of that video being a man of destiny, you know, setting the world`s course.
So, he gave Kim Jong-un -- so Trump himself was the only victor with the American citizenship from this deal. The rest of us lost.
O`DONNELL: Nick, quickly, about materialism within North Korea, there is no less materialistic country or population on earth. The idea that Kim wants to make his people rich strikes me as something that has not yet crossed Kim`s mind.
KRISTOF: No, I actually disagree with that to some degree. So, his father was very much -- there was a policy of military first. And Kim Jong-un when he took over had a dual policy of military development, but also development of the economy. And so, for the -- and then recently, he took away the military part, now it`s just economic development.
So, in Pyongyang, for the elites who are allowed to live in Pyongyang. You have to be an elite to live there. Disabled people are pushed out of Pyongyang, for example.
But for those elites, they have opened up nice restaurants, a dolphinarium, an amusement park. And there are these aspirations for the elites who are influential, family members of the regime, that for those there is some sense that Kim Jong-un would actually like to lift living standards, a long way from having speed boats.
O`DONNELL: Right, and --
HEILEMANN: But dolphinariums.
O`DONNELL: So, speed boats for the elites.
Nick Kristof, thank you very much for joining the discussion tonight.
Coming up, the president has told us what he will do if the North Korean dictator fails to live up to his promises to President Trump. The president says that he will simply lie about that.
And a new report tonight that the Trump team is very worried about Donald Trump`s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen who some Trump team members fear more than they fear the special prosecutor.
MADDOW: It`s going to hit the fan pretty soon, and that`s how a friend of President Trump described the special prosecutor`s investigation to "Vanity Fair`s" Gabriel Sherman. People close to the president believe the investigation is reaching what they call an inflection point soon, and, quote, Donald is very worried, according to Republican close to the president. Trump allies reportedly view the legal cloud hanging over Trump`s former attorney Michael Cohen at least as ominous as Robert Mueller`s investigation.
Michael Cohen has told friends that he expects to be arrested any day now, according to a source close to Cohen. Reached for comment, though, Michael Cohen wrote in a text message to Gabriel Sherman, quote, your alleged source is wrong.
But the idea of Michael Cohen flipping and cooperating with prosecutors still has Trump advisers super worried. Trump should be super worried about Michael Cohen, a former White House official said. If anyone can blow up Trump, it`s him.
And BuzzFeed news reports some Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee want to interview Ivanka Trump as part of their committee`s Russia investigation. That follows a "BuzzFeed" report that found that Ivanka Trump was in contact with a Russian weightlifter during the presidential election who offered to connect her father to Vladimir Putin in order to facilitate a Moscow Trump Tower. Ivanka Trump connected the weightlifter to Michael Cohen, who was then working on a Moscow Trump Tower project at that time.
Joining us our discussion now is Jill Wine-Banks, former assistant Watergate special prosecutor and an MSNBC contributor, and John Heilemann is still with us.
And, Jill, the worries about Michael Cohen seem to be mounting. And I think any lawyer out there thinks, yes, if one of your former personal lawyers is being investigated and raided by the FBI, you really should be worried about that.
JILL WINE-BANKS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: He really should be worried, and especially because less than 0.05 percent of all the documents seized had anything to do with legal representation. So, there is not very much attorney-client privilege.
O`DONNELL: So, the special master who has been going over all these documents to try to preserve or hold some that should be protected by attorney-client privilege has only found less than 1 percent of the documents to be privileged?
WINE-BANKS: Yes. That is correct. It is a very small fraction, which means his work, as we`ve all been calling him, as a fixer.
O`DONNELL: So, not legal work protected by attorney-client privilege. How do you make that distinction?
WINE-BAKS: Well, it`s very easy when you are the Judge Jones, who is the special master and you go through them, it`s very clear when someone is seeking legal advice as opposed to business advice or criminal advice. And I don`t mean criminal representation. I mean the kind of advice where you work together to commit crimes or to form a deal. One of the big things was Trump tower in Moscow that was something that Cohen was working on.
Those things are not in any way, shape, or form related to his legal work for Donald Trump.
O`DONNELL: And, John, today, Ivanka Trump takes a step into the Michael Cohen story by referring the Russian weightlifter to Michael Cohen to talk about the dream of the Trump Tower Moscow.
HEILEMANN: Yes. And it`s not a story you want to be stepping in to, for reasons we just describe. That`s not -- it`s not a fairy book kind of narrative you`re stepping into there. I just -- for exactly this reason, well all know a lot of lawyers who don`t practice law. There was a glut of lawyers. A lot of our smart friends went to law school and then decided to become investment bankers, got into business development, did all kinds of stuff. We know tons of people like that.
Michael Cohen is sort of like that except much dumber and not like a really good lawyer who decided not to be a lawyer, and he got into business with Donald Trump. So, he got into dirty business, right? He is like the biz- dev guy for Enron, right, who spent his decade running around to skeevy parts of the world where it takes even more dirty stuff to get things built than New York city, and that`s saying a lot.
And he dealt with nasty people doing just at the edge of or outside the edge of the law to try to make Donald Trump richer by slapping his name on things that Donald Trump didn`t own. That was Michael Cohen`s job, and in Trump world, that`s a biz-dev job. In Ray Donovan world, that`s a fixer job.
But none of it has anything to do with the law per se. The bigger problem is the stuff he was doing is not protected by attorney-client privilege. And to go back to the real point, dumb.
WINE-BANKS: You can`t make this up.
HEILEMANN: And deeply crooked.
I don`t mean necessarily -- I don`t know if he has committed crimes. I`m not saying that, but I mean, crooked as in bent. Like we know people that the rules don`t really matter to them all that much. Again, not something that lawyers tend to generally -- real lawyers tend to -- an attitude they tend to adopt.
O`DONNELL: So, Senator Ron Wyden is saying that he would like the staff of the intelligence committee to interview Ivanka Trump. He said he would like the staff to do that because there are two separate national security questions they want to talk to her about.
But one of them is this connection of the Russian weight lifter to Michael Cohen on the Trump Tower Moscow dream. Presumably, Michael Cohen has somewhere in all that stuff the FBI collected, some information about that specifically, and possibly some communication directly from Ivanka Trump to Michael Cohen about that.
WINE-BANKS: Absolutely. And she should be worried about not being 100 percent accurate. The Russian weightlifter has said I never had anything to do with anybody from the Trump organization, and yet, apparently, there are e-mails. And that disproves that.
So, she has to be very careful too to do exactly what the right thing is. This is all so almost ridiculous. Everybody says you can`t make this up. If you did, if you wrote this as a novel, no one would accept it. No publisher would publish it because it`s too ridiculous.
HEILEMANN: I`m telling you, in the end of this whole thing, this is going to be a story would be the buildings. It`s going to be a story about Trump Tower Moscow that never came to be, and 666 Fifth Avenue. Ivanka Trump`s got a husband who is going to be deeply implicated in a lot of shady maneuvers around that building.
666 Fifth Avenue --
O`DONNELL: That`s the Jared Kushner building.
HEILEMANN: That`s the Kushner building that is now a billion dollars in debt and has led him into all kinds of compromised dealings.
And on the other side, this Trump Tower Moscow thing, which again, the more we hear about it, the more complicated it is, the more compromise it is. It went on a lot further into the campaign than we thought. We have a report that takes it up to May or June when Donald Trump was the de facto Republican nominee and people like Michael Cohen was still running around trying to get Trump Tower Moscow built.
That -- these buildings and the compromises entailed in them are going to be a big part of the story of wherever we land at the end of this.
WINE-BANKS: But one thing we have to be care of -- we keep referring to her as the wife of, the daughter of. She is working for the president of the United States. She is a senior adviser to him.
And in that role, she has done some things that need to be looked at. So, it`s not because of her relationship.
WINE-BANKS: It`s because of her activities and her role as an employee, an unpaid employee. Heaven knows she doesn`t need it. She made $82 million this year in income outside of the White House.
HEILEMANN: A lot of dollar, dollar bills, y`all.
O`DONNELL: This is a very important point, Jill, that our overreliance on the descriptor of president`s daughter --
O`DONNELL: -- creates a frame on the Ivanka story that would be somewhat different if we simply said a senior adviser of the president, senior adviser to the president, because that`s the reason she is in these spots, the investigative spots that she`s in.
WINE-BANKS: That`s exactly my point and I think we need to make certain things clear.We have to call things what they are. When he says spygate, no one should repeat that because there is no such thing. It`s a liegate, but it`s not spygate. When you call her his daughter, that takes it a sort of like, well, we shouldn`t be going after his family.
We are not going after his family. We are going after the people who work in the administration, who worked in the campaign. Those are fair game.
O`DONNELL: She was a campaign operative.
O`DONNELL: And now a White House operative.
John Heilemann, thank you for joining us discussion tonight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Always glad to be here.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, while the world watched the President of the United States praise a murderous dictator, the White House was doing some things that missed yesterday`s news cycle like releasing some financial disclosure forms. We will be back with a little bit of yesterday`s news that got smothered by the Singapore summit.
O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s episode of yesterday`s news. The Singapore summit blocked out all sorts of news that happened yesterday, including the White House release of financial disclosure forms for two senior advisers to the President, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.
According to the financial disclosures, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner declared at least $82 million last year in income as a married couple. Ivanka Trump reported a direct income of at least $5 million from the trust that holds her business and corporations. She also reported an income of almost $4 million from the Trump international hotel in Washington, D.C.
And joining our discussion now, Ron Klain, former chief of staff to vice Presidents Joe Biden and Al Gore, and a former senior aide to President Obama. Jill Wine-Banks is still with us.
And Ron, you had to file those disclosure forms in the White House. What do you make of these disclosure forms?
RON KLAIN, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO VICE PRESIDENTS JOE BIDEN AND AL GORE: Well, I mean, it`s a minimum of $82 million as filed in blocks. And it might be as much as $220 million.
O`DONNELL: Because they provide ranges.
KLAIN: Ranges, yes, almost. And so, I mean -- I mean, there is nothing I can say. It`s just really stunning the amount of it. And as you mentioned, $4 million of it came from her share, Ivanka Trump`s share of proceeds from the Trump international hotel where lobbyists, where foreign officials, foreign lobbyists show up and essentially pay cash into the Trump family pockets. It is hotel emoluments clause. The guests check out. Ivanka Trump cashes. In.
O`DONNELL: And Jill, a judge hearing the emoluments case has been saying - - making rulings lately favorable to the plaintiffs in the emoluments case exactly about what Ron`s talking about.
WINE-BANKS: I would say it`s about time because it seemed obvious to me from the very beginning that this is your classic case of why people should not have two jobs. And not only for them to have reported that`s the Kushner/Trump reporting the $82 million minimum, but also Donald Trump has all of these interests that are clearly conflicts of interest and should not be allowed in any way, shape or form by our government.
It`s just wrong for him to be able to get away with, this and he has been. And especially because the Trump hotel in Washington is on lease from the U.S. government, a lease that says no one who works for the government is supposed to have any interest in the lease. And how that`s been allowed to stand is beyond me. I think legally, that has to stop, and he should not have any profit from it. And he is supposed to be turning back by the way any profit at least from foreign governments that pay into it. I haven`t seen any documentation that that`s actually happened, and if her small percentage of the hotel produced at least this $4 million, imagine what he is earning from it.
O`DONNELL: Well, and his brothers, Ron.
O`DONNELL: This money goes right through the President`s family.
KLAIN: Right. I mean, that`s the thing. Remember, we were told that Ivanka was getting out of the family business. That she wouldn`t be profiting from the family business.
O`DONNELL: Before that, we were told she wasn`t going to have anything to do with the government.
O`DONNELL: Just going to stay home in New York. That was the first thing we were told.
KLAIN: Then we were told she wasn`t going to profit it from. And what this form tells us is not only did she profit hugely from her father, her boss, the President of the United States being in the White House, but clearly, obviously, her brother`s profited hugely. And her father profited hugely.
And so, you know, this is really just the tip of the corruption iceberg, of the millions of dollars this man and his family are making from being President of the United States. Outside income. I mean, when I worked in the White House, virtually no one had any outside income. To have hundreds of millions of dollars of outside income while you`re working in the White House. We are talking like private citizens who is working as advising the President on decisions.
The other thing in that Lawrence, as you mentioned was her profit from the licensed products. Every few months the Chinese grant her more trademark that is money in her pocket. $5 million last year. How can she be advising the President on his policy vis-a-vis China given how much this is ringing her personal cash register?
WINE-BANKS: And how could he --
O`DONNELL: Go ahead.
WINE-BANKS: ZTE, he is pro ticking jobs in China for a Chinese company at the same time as she is getting these trademarks.
O`DONNELL: We are going to have to leave it there for tonight.
Jill Wine-Banks, thank you very much for joining our discussions tonight.
And coming up, President Trump tells us what he will do. He actually made it very clear, exactly what he will do if he discovers six months from now that he has made a terrible mistake by trusting the North Korean dictator. He told us he will simply lie about it.
O`DONNELL: I`ll find some kind of excuse. That could be Donald Trump`s life motto. "I`ll find some kind of excuse." he actually said that out- loud last night. He said it after saying the most naive thing anyone could actually say about the North Korean dictator. President Trump said repeatedly that he believes, believes Kim Jong-un. And then he said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Honestly, I think he is going to do these things. I may be wrong. I mean, I may stand before you in six months and say hey, I was wrong. I don`t know that I`ll ever admit that, but I`ll find some kind of an excuse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: I`ll find some kind of an excuse. He has done that all of his life. He has done that with all of his wives. He has done that as a political candidate. He has done that as President. When something Donald Trump has promised does not happen, he either doesn`t mention it again, or he finds some kind of an excuse. Here is a lying promise that Donald Trump made that he never delivered on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: He may not have been born in this country. And I`ll tell you what. Three weeks ago I thought he was born in this country. Right now I have some real doubts. I have people ta have actually been studying it, and they cannot believe what they`re finding.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have people now down there searching -- I mean in Hawaii?
TRUMP: Absolutely. And they cannot believe what they`re finding.
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O`DONNELL: He was lying. He never sent any investigators to Hawaii. He never found out anything in Hawaii. And he never, never apologize for LYING about that. And here is another Trump promise.
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TRUMP: And who is going to pay for the wall?
TRUMP: Mexico, 100 percent, 100 percent.
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O`DONNELL: And now even that audience knows that Mexico will never pay for a wall, but here is Donald Trump`s new excuse.
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TRUMP: Mexico said they`re not going to pay for the wall. What does that mean? What does that mean? We`re renegotiating NAFTA. In the end, in the end, Mexico is going to pay for the wall. I`m just telling you. I`m just telling you.
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O`DONNELL: In the end, Mexico is not going to pay for the wall. And that excuse will not work. It won`t happen through NAFTA. It won`t happen in any way at all. But the Trump excuses about the wall will keep coming. So what will Donald Trump stand before you and say in six months if absolutely nothing happens in North Korea?
That`s the timetable the President gave himself in his declaration of belief in the truth telling and honest intent of North Korea`s murderous dictator. Quote "I may stand before you in six months and say, hey."
OK. We`re going to go to a break so you will have time to try to fill in the rest of that Trump excuse that we might be hearing six months from now. And when we come back from that break, we will get James Fallow`s and Ron Klain`s answer to that question.
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TRUMP: Honestly, I think he`s going to do these things. I may be wrong. I mean, I may stand before you in six months and say, hey, I was wrong. I don`t know that I`ll ever admit that, but I`ll find some kind of an excuse.
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O`DONNELL: Back with us James fallows and Ron Klain.
And James Fallows, the President opened a window into his process there.
FALLOWS: He did indeed. I think it was important evidence on which of three hype these is correct for why he says so many things that aren`t true. One, he genuinely is confused. He thinks he has been the most successful President. That`s one hypothesis. The second is deliberate lying, Richard Nixon style. And the third is just this kind of performance art, when they called him k-fab and there is a famous book on rendering BS, of just, you know, not caring at all whether something is true or not. I think this was the on BS confirmation that we saw here.
O`DONNELL: And Ron, my guess about this is that Trump voters who are still Trump voters and still Trump supporters, when they see that and when they see him open that window and say, of course, well, I will never admit that I was wrong, I will find some kind of an excuse, that they are now conditioned and ready to help him with the excuse, not just accept it but help him with it and take it to their coffee shops and recite it to anyone who isn`t a Trump supporter.
KLAIN: Yes. I mean, Lawrence, this was of course the breakthrough Trump tactic in the campaign, the sad breakthrough, which was making up these explanations that were patently untrue but that his supporters repeated. Why did he never release his tax return? Oh, he was under audit, you know. And who`s going to pay for the wall? Mexico will pay for the wall.
These things are just blatantly, plainly untrue, but that he put out as stories in the campaign that his supporters shared on social media, said to their neighbors, justified their support of him. The one thing we know for sure is that Donald Trump will not stand up in six months and tell us he was wrong. He has never done that. `
And, you know, the scary thing about this otherwise kind of funny thing is that he now has kind of made a commitment to vouch for Kim, to basically stand behind Kim, kind of be his truth-telling ally, and that`s a horrible thing to do with a dictator, a ruthless dictator who has a habit of lying. And that`s what Donald Trump aligned himself with in Singapore.
O`DONNELL: You have both worked in the White House and democratic presidencies.
And James Fallows, you`d be terribly worried in getting caught in something that could be called a flip-flop, within six months especially. Do you look back on this and think we worried too much about how strict we were about our own communication I communication?
FALLOWS: I worry more that we are sort of holding Donald Trump to too little account. I think back to Jimmy Carter who during his campaign said earnestly, I`ll never lie to you. His four years in office, every day was could you trap him in any single lie and that would invalidate this earnest claim he made. So it`s just an entirely different universe like so many other things.
O`DONNELL: And, Ron, is there a conditioning going on with the Trump voter that is still the Trump voter? There surely Trump voters who are no longer Trump voters, aren`t going to vote for him again. But they are being told every day, certainly by us and by other segments of the news media, that what the President said is untrue. Does that feel to them like some sort of attack on their own judgment where they develop the same defensiveness that Donald Trump but on the s on the same point?
KLAIN: Yes. I mean I think I agree with James` three theories of why Trump lies, but there`s now a fourth that you`ve raised, which is kind of the autocrat signature, which is he lies, and you know he`s lying, and he knows you know he`s lying. And he lies because he`s trying to tell you he can get away with it, and no one can do anything about it. Now he has also passed it on to his supporters.
His supporters support him in the face of the lies being called out because the lies are being called out. It is part of the power dynamic of this Trump movement. And that`s why he attacks the media so much. He tacks anyone who wants to call him on his lies and his supporters rally behind him in those attacks.
O`DONNELL: And, James, again the President here is saying this, and he`s kind of openly laughing about it himself, saying, you know, I don`t think I`ll ever admit that I`m wrong, but I`ll find some kind of excuse. This is exactly what people are supposed to teach their children not to do. I`m not sure if that lesson has disappeared.
FALLOWS: I agree. And on top of Ron`s fourth category, I`ll have a fifth, which again takes us back to pro wrestling, which is the performance joy Trump was revealing there and his crowd, too, of I can get away with this. The fun he was having from saying, well, look and see how I`ll wiggle out of this one.
O`DONNELL: And the President said that he -- at one point he said we didn`t really talk about human rights very much. And another point in the same discussion, he said we talked about human rights a great deal.
And Ron, this goes to that issue of we have no idea what they talked about, and Donald Trump will change his own description of what they talked about within the same description.
KLAIN: Yes. Two liars go in a room. We are pretty sure the truth is not what comes out. And I think, you know, your opening segment tonight talking about this dispute about whether or not Trump promised to lift sanctions while he and his vice president and a senator listens. All different accounts, but what Trump promised we would or wouldn`t do militarily now on the Korean peninsula.
And I mean, that is the problem here. Two liars went in a room. The truth certainly died there. Who knows what else was a victim.
And, James, the President is worried about how much money it costs to continue to run these military practice sessions. This is a piece of the defense become that has been sitting there and operative for 70 years now.
FALLOWS: Yes. The person I would not want to have been at that moment was defense secretary James Mattis because the best bargain in U.S. military spending is on military exercises and training. The salaries of the soldiers are being paid anyway. You are paying for these planes and ships. But what has made the U.S. strong militarily is precisely practice, engagement, drill. So the idea that this is a cost-saving measure is just insane.
O`DONNELL: Let`s just drop the training.
James Fallows, the book is "Our Town" and Ron Klain, thank you both for joining us. Really appreciate it.
Tonight`s Last Word is next.
O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s surprising LAST WORD.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump told reporters he will know if the Kim Jong-un meeting is going well by touch and feel. That`s what he said. In other words, Trump`s lawyer is going to have to pay Kim Jong-un $130,000. I worked it out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you are a star, they let you do it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
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O`DONNELL: And Andy Richter gets tonight`s LAST WORD, and that is a first for Andy.
Coming up, it is primary night in six states tonight, and that means Steve Kornacki will be giving Brian the latest results next in the 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS which starts now.
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