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Senators weight in after Kennedy. TRANSCRIPT: 06/27/2018. The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell

Senators weight in after Kennedy. TRANSCRIPT: 06/27/2018. The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell



And we're also going to have the latest audiotape that has been revealed of a child in custody in the United States talking to his mother in Guatemala. It's another one of those very, very painful conversations to listen to that has become this uniquely American conversation that we're listening in on these parents talking to their children across these borders of these countries.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": Amazing, amazing. Well done, my friend, thank you.

O'DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thanks.

O'DONNELL: Well, as Rachel's pointed out, it only takes one and this is going to be a different take on how it only takes one and what that means. One senator can stop the nomination of the next Supreme Court justice, one perfectly placed senator.

Republicans have a 51/49 majority on the Senate floor but Senator John McCain is too ill to vote, which means Republicans just have a one vote advantage on the Senate floor to 50-49.

But when the first Trump Supreme Court justice nomination came to a vote on the Senate floor, three Democrats voted for Neil Gorsuch, three Democratic senators in states where Donald Trump is popular, Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota, where the president visited tonight and campaigning against her and where Donald Trump won by 36 points. Joe Manchin in West Virginia where Donald Trump won by 41 points. And Joe Donnelly in Indiana where Donald Trump won by 19 points, all three of them voted for Neil Gorsuch.

But this time, everything could be different if one senator does what he has promised to do. A retiring senator in his final months in office who is not in the Senate leadership or a chairman of a committee is normally a powerless figure who is in the ongoing process of bidding fond farewell to his colleagues.

But tonight, the occasional Trump critic, Republican Senator Jeff Flake, who is in his last months in office, has positioned himself to become the most powerful senator he's not a chairman of a committee he is normally ignored by most of his Republican colleagues and by the Republican majority leader of the Senate McConnell. Jeff Flake is normally a quiet mild- mannered senator whose only claim on attention has been his occasional sharp and eloquent criticisms of President Trump but they have mostly been criticisms of the president's style not his policies. Jeff Flake has supported most Trump policies.

But there's one Trump policy that Jeff Flake truly hates, a recent Trump policy and he has declared his willingness to launch the Senate version of a war over that policy and no, it is not the policy of arresting and jailing children and infant babies on the southern border. For Jeff Flake the very worst thing that Donald Trump has done is illegally imposed tariffs on imports from Canada and the European Union tariffs on products that have nothing to do with our national security.

Congress has the sole authority to raise or lower or eliminate tariffs. Something that Congress seems to have forgotten just like Congress has the sole authority to raise or lower taxes, the president cannot raise taxes with an executive order. But decades ago Congress inserted a little noticed loophole in international trade law allowing the president to unilaterally adjust tariffs for national security reasons only.

And Jeff Flake is outraged that Congress is allowing the president to illegally use this power since there is not a national security issue involved in these tariffs, and he wants Congress to pass a law that would close that loophole. Jeff Flake is pushing a bill along with Senator Bob Corker who sponsored the bill to do exactly that. It wouldn't close the loophole completely it would simply require a congressional vote to approve any tariff action taken by the president because of national security.

Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell who knows the Trump tariffs are a violation of international trade rules and violation of American law is afraid of getting in a fight with Donald Trump, especially afraid of getting in a fight with Donald Trump during the election season and so, Mitch McConnell is refusing to allow Jeff Flake to have a vote on that bill in any form even as an amendment to some other legislation on the stand forth.

And so on Sunday, George Stephanopoulos asked Jeff Flake what has turned out to be the most important question of the week, the most important question of the year.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS HOST: Are you prepared to use your other powers to do that? I know that you've considered at least on this issue of tariffs and a couple of other issues saying that as a member of the Judiciary Committee, you will no longer allow judges to come out of the committee unless you there's action on issues like tariffs.

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: As George Will put in his column, Article III branches important, the court certainly, and we've approved a number of judges. That is important but Article I, the Congress, Article II, the executive are important as well, and I do think that unless we can actually exercise something other than just approving the president's executive calendar, his nominees, judges that we have no reason to be there.

So, I think of myself and the number of senators, at least a few of us will stand up and say let's not move any more judges until we get a vote, for example, on tariffs.


O'DONNELL: Let's not move any more judges. Of course, Jeff Flake said that before he knew that by the middle of the week, we would be headed for a vote on a Supreme Court justice.

Yesterday, "Daily Beast" reporter Andrew Desiderio interviewed Jeff Flake and delivered a report with the headline, Jeff Flake: I will block Trump judicial nominees until GOP votes on tariffs. Jeff Flake told "Daily Beast", I'm committed to getting a vote on tariffs.

That was 24 hours before Jeff Flake knew he was going to be facing a vote on a very important judge before he leaves the Senate, the next Supreme Court justice. Jeff Flake is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. There are 11 Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee and 10 Democrats. So, it takes only one Republican vote against the nomination in this -- in the Senate Judiciary Committee to defeat that nomination in the committee.

And so, if Jeff Flake doesn't back down and stays true to what he said before Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, Jeff Flake can be the senator who stops the next Trump nominee to the Supreme Court. Normally, a nomination that is defeated in the committee dies in the committee, that's the end of it. But in this case, the nomination would still go to the Senate floor. Mitch McConnell would still bring it to the Senate floor, with the report, technical report, that the Judiciary Committee voted against it, but that wouldn't bind the Senate floor.

It would go to the Senate floor though with one Republican voting against it, and that would give plenty of encouragement and political cover to the three Democrats who might be inclined to vote for the nomination. By that time, there might be enough pressure on Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine and Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska to vote against the nomination because of the certain knowledge that the new Supreme Court justice would overturn Roe vs. Wade and therefore allow abortion to be made illegal in several states that would choose to do that. Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski are the only two pro-choice Republican senators.

So, if Jeff Flake does not back down from what he said he would do to block Trump judges before he knew that one of the judges he would have to block would be a Supreme Court justice, then Jeff Flake could create a dynamic situation on the Senate floor where anything could happen. The Democrats might be able to hold all of the Democrats then in opposition to a Trump Supreme Court nomination and then on the Senate floor. It would only take that one Republican to kill the nomination.

And if Jeff Flake is that one Republican, he would then leave the United States Senate with a very important place in history.

Leading off our discussion now, Jill Wine-Banks, former assistant Watergate special prosecutor and MSNBC contributor, Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, she was also Hillary Clinton's policy director during the 2008 presidential campaign and Ron Klain, former chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee and an Obama administration official. He has worked on several Senate confirmations of Supreme Court justices both in his Senate staff position and in his White House positions.

And with that, Ron, we're going to begin with you. I know you were on the judiciary committee during the Clinton confirmations, getting Ruth Bader Ginsburg through the committee, within the Obama administration, you helped get Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan through the Judiciary Committee with your experience. What do you see as the possibilities tonight?

RON KLAIN, FORMER CHIEF COUSNEL, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well, I think the Democrats are going to have to fight hard, but I think if they fight hard, it's an open question as to what will happen. You laid out one scenario, Lawrence, I think there are others.

Look, I think the key thing is to focus on a woman's right to choose. We didn't stop Mitch McConnell when he stole a Supreme Court seat in 2016. But we have to stop Donald Trump's Roe reversal reproductive rights rip- off. We have to not let this happen.

I think that Democrats showed they could beat the odds when they beat Robert Bork in 1987. I think if they fight hard and organize, they can put pressure on Collins, on Murkowski, on Flake and potentially derail whatever Trump's trying to do here.

O'DONNELL: Neera Tanden, Jeff Flake at 8:56 p.m. tonight, knowing what he said in his little-noticed comments on Sunday and Tuesday, issued a written statement that doesn't really say anything. He said, as I have said before, approving a principled conservative who will interpret the Constitution rather than legislate from the bench should be our top priority. OK, standard language in these press releases.

And then he simply said, as we turn towards filling his seat, I look forward to the Senate fulfilling its responsibility of providing advice and consent during a robust confirmation process.

Neera, that's Jeff Flake not saying he will, not saying he won't, not saying anything but he's got to be thinking tonight about what he has been saying before tonight.

NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT, CENTER OF AMERICAN PROGRESS: The most crucial question for Jeff Flake is, if you have qualms about this presidency, if you give speeches to the American people saying that this president is flouting norms and laws and rules of law and democracy itself, the one step he can take to end that, to actually discourage it, to stop it is to vote against this nomination, a nomination which has added importance because of the norm-breaking, rule-breaking that happened with Merrick Garland, a stolen justice seat, that justice course that he's in today.

But I want to say, I absolutely agree with Ron that women are leading this resistance. They have led the activism in the country. What is really happening here is the Donald Trump will put forward a justice who may say one thing or sound good or sounds reasonable but will overturn Roe v. Wade, and it is up to the American people to say that that is a bridge too far. It is up to women across this country to organize, to engage, to use democracy's tools to say to Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, you cannot vote for these nominees and this nominee are such a nominee and claim you are pro-choice. That is ridiculous.

O'DONNELL: Jill Wine-Banks, I know you have argued cases to the Supreme Court. I want to get your reaction to what it will to practitioners as a legal practitioner to have this Kennedy seat filled by let's just say another version of Neil Gorsuch?

JILL WINE-BANKS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: I think the difference between the Gorsuch appointment which was replacing a conservative with a conservative is that this is replacing a person who actually listened to arguments on both sides and who was a centrist in a way not as much of a centrist as he is known as, because he's done a lot of decisions that I would consider to be bad, Hobby Lobby, Gore versus Bush, many others, some of the gerrymandering cases, some of the voting rights cases.

But he was more of a person who was known at least as a decisive factor in the - decisions. So, it's much more important that the Democrats stand up and be strong and that some Republicans join in and say that we need to have someone who will listen to the arguments. As a practitioner, we want to have an open-minded judge who will listen to the arguments put forth and we'll make a sound decision on it, and that's what I'm afraid of.

I am so worried about democracy and all the rights that we've come to take for granted that I've grown up with being abolished under this new court.

O'DONNELL: Ron Klain, you've worked on exactly the strategic question both in the Senate and in the Obama administration. How do you hold on to the Democrat who is in a state like North Dakota --


O'DONNELL: -- and we've had Democratic senators in states like that, in every one of these Supreme Court votes that you've worked on, how do you hold on to Heidi Heitkamp when the president flies up to her state tonight in North Dakota campaigning against her and Donald Trump is so overwhelmingly popular in North Dakota?

KLAIN: Well, a couple things, Lawrence. First, I think a reminder that president Trump went up and campaigned against her. So, trying to make peace with Donald Trump is a fool's errand for her, right? Trump is going to fight her either way, whatever she does. So, she needs to just do the right thing.

And look, I think what happened with Judge Bork is a model here. Judge Bork was nominated by a very popular Republican President Ronald Reagan. He had superb credentials and people said the Democrats couldn't hold together, they couldn't possibly win.

And yet the Democrats did hold together and got six Republicans to cross the line. And now, the Senate is in worse shape now, but I do think that if the case is made persuasively about the rights the American people will lose, especially the right to choose by confirming this justice, you can hold our Democrats, you can flip a few Republicans and you can beat this person, just like the Democrats beat Robert Bork in 1987.

O'DONNELL: Neera, I've talked to Democratic staff strategists tonight who are saying it is all about Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, and that every bit of pressure needs to be put on them, that they can't stop this with just Democratic votes at this point anyway, they need to pick up at least one Republican or more.

TANDEN: And I just want to -- that's absolutely true, and I just want to remind everyone that a year ago at this time, health care hung in the balance in a very -- in a very similar way. And the American people rose up. People flooded town halls, they made calls.

This is not inevitable. Mitch McConnell today tried to sound as if it's everything's on track. He's going to have the vote two before the elections, because he wants us to believe it's impossible to fight this.

But the truth is that Ron is absolutely right. These justice fights, judicial fights have been fought and won, and I would like to just say I remember, you know, 20, 25 years ago, women started engaging in national debates on abortion because Roe v. Wade was on the bounce with George Bush Sr.'s election. In fact, that was the first time I became politically active at all on the choice issue back in my college days.

And the fact that we are facing a question of whether Roe will be the law of the land and this time means that it's really going to be up to women to engage this -- in this fight, to call your senators tomorrow, all of your senators tomorrow and to engage Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski and Flake, the whole panoply of Republican senators here have to recognize that Roe is on the line and that they want it -- they don't want to talk about it but we have to.

O'DONNELL: Neera Tanden and Jill Wine-Banks, thanks for joining our first round of discussion.

When we come back Donald Trump's next Supreme Court nominee will have to answer questions about Donald Trump, like, can the president of the United States be indicted? And that's just for starters. Harry Litman who clerked for Justice Kennedy will join our discussion.

And last night, a federal judge issued an emergency order stopping the Trump family separations on the southern border and has given the Trump government a tight deadline to reunite all of the families they separated.



SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: If you start waterboarding people, you may get impeached. Is that a fair summary?

NEIL GORSUCH, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: Senator, the impeachment power belongs to this body.

GRAHAM: OK, that's even better. Would you be subject to prosecution?

GORSUCH: Senator, I'm not going to speculate.

GRAHAM: But he's not about the law?

GORSUCH: No man is above law.


GORSUCH: No man.


O'DONNELL: No man is above the law. We will hear it -- we will be hearing that in the next Supreme Court confirmation hearing.

The next Trump Supreme Court nominee is going to be facing questions, especially from Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee about special prosecutor Robert Mueller's investigation.

Can the president be subpoenaed to testify? Can the president be indicted? Can the president be put on trial in a criminal court or is the president's only subject to trial in an impeachment trial in the United States Senate? Can the president pardon himself?

It will be a confirmation hearing unlike any we have ever seen.

Joining us now is Harry Litman, a former U.S. attorney and deputy assistant attorney general under President Clinton. He was also a law clerk for Justice Anthony Kennedy, and Ron Klain is back with us.

And, Harry Litman, as Ron can tell you, the staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee of working on questions right now and certainly there will be many about the special prosecutor's investigation.

HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Yes, I think that's right and you've identified some of them. Now, the dance is going to be -- Ron knows this better than anyone -- the nominee is going to try to have a sort of bromide to stiff arm the questions and say, well, I can't rule about those because it could come before me. And then the follow-ups from the Democrats will try to be a little broader on executive power and theory.

Justice Kennedy has actually given the Democrats a final small gift here. The travel ban concurrence actually expresses certain views about the limitations of executive power, any nominee is going to have to extol Justice Kennedy and say good things about his jurisprudence and it will provide Democrats a chance to say, well, look, Justice Kennedy said this, do you agree or disagree, and put it in the broad level of executive power generally.

O'DONNELL: Ron Klain, if you were strategizing how to approach the questioning for the Democrats on the committee, how would you organize it and would you trot would you try to organize it that some senators are assigned to focus on Roe versus Wade and other senators are assigned to focus on other matters.

KLAIN: Yes, Lawrence, what I -- where I would start before the nominees rear end got even settled in the chair was with the question of whether or not the president or any member of his administration asked about the nominee's positions on the questions of a emoluments clause, on the questions of the president's vulnerability to indictment, on all the questions.

The first thing you want to ask is, was the nominee asked about those because there's no to dodge to those. There's no privilege or no way I can't really talk about my rulings in the straightforward question were you asked about this as part of the appointment process?

We know Donald Trump went to Jim Comey and said make me a pledge of your loyalty. I don't think they'll do something quite so crass here, but the first thing to be on lookout for was what kind of pledge was extracted from this nominee to get Donald Trump's approval for the Supreme Court.

O'DONNELL: And, Harry Litman, it seems that, you know, the Republicans have people like Ron Klain on their teams who guide people through --

LITMAN: Nobody's like Ron Klain.


O'DONNELL: Who will imitate -- who try to do their best imitation of Ron Klain, guiding people through the confirmation process and they will be steering the nominee toward those answers that we heard so often from Neil Gorsuch, things like I'm not going to speculate and I have not formed an opinion, I have not considered that, even when we know that, of course, you have an opinion of Roe versus Wade, they all deny having an opinion of it.

LITMAN: Right. Clarence Thomas never having spoken about it.


LITMAN: The sort of important fact here kind of sad is all, those people, the steers, will really be ahead of the game. They'll know -- they will know the script in advance. On the other hand, certain appointees do it better than others. Everyone gets well-prepped, nevertheless, I would say, Roberts say was sort of masterful. Bork was obviously cloddish and there's only -- there a certain kind of personality may come through, they'll all be scripted with an eye toward what the questions are going to be. They won't be a surprise.

Yet, some potential nominees will be more supple and reassuring than others and that that will be part of the drama here.

O'DONNELL: And, Ron, we have every reason to expect that the nominee will be relatively young and will be a member of the federal bench already and therefore will have been already confirmed by the United States Senate and some of them confirmed in possibly some cases almost unanimously. And so, they will know something about this routine although talk about how there's no pressure quite like the Supreme Court nominees hearing.

KLAIN: Yes, I mean I think, Lawrence, what they go through when they get nominated lower court, a hearing with virtually no one in the room just one senator lobbying in different questions at them is nothing at all like what they're facing here. Every nominee I've worked with, with one exception, had been a prior lower court nominee and they -- you know, had never seen anything like what they're going to see in a Supreme Court confirmation hearing, particularly one with the fate of the court on the balance.

And I think also there's another tactic the Democrats can use here which is try to put between a rock and a hard place. If you press them on them saying that they will subject Trump to the law, that they will you know hold Trump accountable for things, we know from reports that when Gorsuch just lightly criticized Trump, Trump sat back and considered withdrawing his nomination.

So, I think trying to push the nominee into saying critical things, trying to press the gap between the nominee and the president, that could be an interesting twist on the process here.

O'DONNELL: Ron Klain --

LITMAN: It's a very interesting point, Lawrence, that that Donald Trump himself is kind of a wild card. He might ask questions he shouldn't. He may have reactions he shouldn't. He may not be sophisticated, things could happen.

O'DONNELL: Anything can happen on this one.

Ron Klain, thank you. We needed you on this and night more than any other. Thank you very much for joining us.

Harry Litman, thank you for joining us.

And when we come back, a federal judge issued an emergency order last night stopping the Trump family separations on the southern border and that judge has also ordered the Trump government to reunite those families and do it quickly with a deadline.


LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: There is a new judge in town. The Flores case in the Los Angeles federal court has for decades determined the rules for treating children taken into federal custody at our southern border. But last night another federal judge in San Diego issued an order in a case brought by the ACLU on behalf of families separated at the southern border and put in federal custody.

Judge Dana Sebraw who was appointed to the federal bench by President George W. Bush ordered the Trump administration to immediately stop splitting up parents and children at the southern border and the judge set a firm deadline for the government to reunite the families that they have already split up. Judge Sebraw ordered that within 14 days of the preliminary injunction that he issued late last night, the Trump government must reunite all migrant children under age five who have been separated from their parents, and within 30 days they must reunite all migrant children age five and other with their parents.

The judge also ordered the Trump government to connect separated parents and children by phone within 10 days. The judge's order means that the Trump government will have to speed up family reunifications, something that they do not know how to do.

The health and human services department this week that it was able to reunite just six children with members of their family over a six-day period, one child per day. And some of the parents are no longer in the United States.

A new study today finds that several hundred parents appear to have been deported without their children in April alone. The Trump justice department is leaving open the possibility that it will appeal the court order. NBC News asked that the justice department would appeal the order and the justice department declined to comment.

The President was asked about Judge Sebraw's order today.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about the injunction on immigration? Will you fight that? The California judge who says reunited families must be put together within a month?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, we are going to see, but we believe the families should be together also, so there's not a lot to fight.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you guarantee that?

TRUMP: We believe families have to be together.


O'DONNELL: President Trump suffered another defeat on the House floor today. This morning, the President endorsed a house Republican immigration bill tweeting House Republicans should pass the strong but fair immigration bill known as (INAUDIBLE) in their afternoon vote today.

And even with Donald Trump's capitalized letter support of the bill, the bill was crushed in the house today with almost as many Republicans voting against it as voted for it. The vote was 121 in favor, 321 opposed. Every Democrat voted against it and 112 Republicans voted against the President and the bill.

After the vote, the President lied and tried to say he didn't really endorse the bill.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have a message to house Republicans who failed to pass the immigration bill earlier?

TRUMP: No, I want them to do what they want. You know, the problem we have, and I told them this morning, I said, pass it if you can, but I also want them to do what they want.


O'DONNELL: You saw what he said in the tweet. He did not tell them to do what they want. He said quote "House Republicans should pass the strong but fair immigration bill."

And half of the Republicans ignored the President today. And another has produced another painful audio recording of the child in federal custody. Vice (ph) news released a recording of a 7-year-old boy in federal custody in the United States speaking to his mother in Guatemala.


O'DONNELL: Joining us now from El Paso county Texas, NBC global news editor, Cal Perry. And also with us MSNBC legal contributor Danny Ceballos who just returned from the border.

And Cal Perry, we just heard yet another recording of a child in custody in this country. It sounds like the judge in the San Diego case is going to find out where the babies are. But in the meantime, there are protests continuing, and you saw a protest today in Texas where they were trying to, in some way, communicate with the kids in custody.

CAL PERRY, NBC NEWS GLOBAL NEWS EDITOR: Yes and by way of explaining I think what's happening down here at the border and what's happening across the country. Take a look at this video. We had a small protest. There have been small protests every day trying to keep attention down here. This one was to get a balloon. A balloon over top of the camp with a sign that says you are not alone, written in Spanish.

Unfortunately what happened is a rancher showed up, this was a public road being used and a rancher showed up to literally run the protesters off of this public road. At one point he takes out a gun. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's got a gun. Tell them he's got a gun.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tell them up there he's got a gun.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't have my phone.


PERRY: So now you have on a public road in the state of Texas, protesters confronted by a rancher with a gun. I had the pleasure of meeting this rancher about a week earlier, he ran me off that public road and he does not believe that the things that are being said on TV are true. He thinks that it's a false narrative being controlled by the media, which is what a great number of people in this country think. So where we are here, in 2018, as a journalist in America is if I tell the truth standing outside an internment camp I'm suddenly taking a political view because it is the truth. Because the ruling party ruled by Donald Trump, the party of Donald Trump, their entire platform, Lawrence, at this point, is to lie, is to deceive, and is to distract from what's going on in this country which is children in internment camps, separated from their parents on government sites in the middle of the desert. That's where we are.

I found it pretty shocking. But I have to tell you, this has been going on for a week down here. That rancher was not arrested and he has the support of the officials in the camp, Lawrence.

O'DONNELL: Danny Ceballos, you have been in the federal courts down at the border watching how the immigration cases are being handled. But as it turns out federal judge in San Diego court has issued the order that's seems to be now in control of what's happening. And it sounds -- given the deadlines and the specificity of his order, it sounds like he is going to find out where the babies are, how many of them are there, how many of them need nursing mothers. This judge is after specificity.

DANNY CEVALLOS, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: That's right. And the criminal proceedings I have observed in south Texas, occurred independently of this order because they were separate proceedings. This was not immigration court that I sat in on. This was federal criminal court specifically, federal criminal court and only misdemeanor cases before a magistrate. And that magistrate told the 70 to 75 defendants that I saw, I have nothing to do with whether or not you were separated from your children. Nothing at all.

And in a way he was right. In a way it's not true also because the U.S. attorneys in there, are not U.S. attorneys. They are custom and border protection attorneys who are cross designated as U.S. attorneys.

So you actually have CBP in the courtroom as a party. They could certainly address the issue of children. But the point is the court's order today as to the reunification, the immediate forth with reunification of children, with their families will exist independently of those misdemeanor prosecutions. And as long as the Trump -- the current administration chooses to prosecute those misdemeanors in mass, you are still going to have this problem coming up because parents just as with citizens can be separated from their children in criminal proceedings. It's afterwards they should be reunified promptly.

O'DONNELL: Cal, was there any reaction and objections today to the San Diego judge's ruling?

PERRY: Listen, people here I think don't really believe that it is going to make a difference. You mentioned those numbers we heard last week. There was 2,053 children in custody. And then yesterday, 2047.

You know, Jacob Soboroff on that conference call, you know, asked for clarification, and said maybe you are still separating some. If a parent is at a risk, the child is at risk, excuse me, with being without the parent, and the government got back to him two hours later and said, yes, yes, that sounds right.

I mean, I don't think they have a good grasp of the situation. It seems clear that they were (INAUDIBLE). The government was unprepared, certainly the agencies were unprepared to deal with the new policy of separating children from their parents. And now after the executive order I think they are equally as unprepared to reunite those children. On that camp in Tornillo, Texas, of the 26 children that were separated from their parents in the last week, only three have been reunited.

So when I stand there and I talk to a spokesperson from HHS and he says that they knows where everyone is, clearly, that's not the case. I think what you mentioned is key which is a lot of these parents and they have been deported.

Just by way of example, the El Salvadorian consulate was at the camp the other day because they are having problems confirming documents. The U.S. government doesn't accept all documentation from these countries. There is a lot of fragile and use of documentation. They said so they have to go through this with a fine-tooth comb, Lawrence.

O'DONNELL: Cal Perry, thank you for your invaluable reporting once again tonight. Really appreciate it.

Danny Cevallos, thank you for joining us tonight. Really appreciate that.

And when we come back, once again, the Russian government has told the world about something the President of the United States has decided to do before the White House announced it.


O'DONNELL: Once again the Russian government announced something the President of the United States has agreed to do before the White House announced it. And as usual, the White House had no problem with that. The Russian government is actually more transparent more quickly about its dealing with President Trump than the White House is about President Trump's dealing with the Russian government, especially Vladimir Putin.

This time, the news from the Russian government is that President Trump has agreed to a meeting with Vladimir Putin the same Vladimir Putin who our intelligence services say interfered with the Presidential election, which is to say interfered with American democracy. Today the President said this about the upcoming Putin meeting.


TRUMP: It would look like we will probably be meeting sometime in the not- too-distant future. And I said it from day one, getting along with Russia and with China and with everybody is a very good thing. It's good for the world, it's good for us, it's good for everybody. So we will probably be meeting sometime around my trip to Europe.


O'DONNELL: Yes, getting along with everybody is a very good thing. But getting along with Russia does not mean allowing or encouraging Russia to illegally interfere with our election process.

Up next, former undersecretary of state Wendy Sherman will join us with her reaction to the President of the United States rewarding Vladimir Putin with a summit meeting.


O'DONNELL: Here is what President Trump's national security advisor John Bolton had to say earlier this year before he became President Trump's national security adviser and before he met with Vladimir Putin today to work out the details of a Trump-Putin summit.


JOHN BOLTON, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Whatever they did in the 2016 election, I think we should respond to inside a space and elsewhere. I don't think the response should be proportionate. I think it should be very disproportionate, because deterrence works when you convince your adversary that they will pay an enormous cost for imposing cost on you. And that's what causes them to say we are not even going to think about it.


O'DONNELL: Joining us now ambassador Wendy Sherman, former undersecretary of state for political affairs and MSNBC global affairs contributor.

Ambassador Sherman, John Bolton who we just heard say that Russia should pay in enormous cause for what they did in our election.

AMB. WENDY SHERMAN, MSNBC GLOBAL AFFAIRS CONTRIBUTOR: Now, I have to say, Lawrence, I didn't think there would be a day where is would agree with anything John Bolton said. But I just did. Because he has it right. It should be disproportionate.

I sort of feel like we are in the movie "Ground Hog day." We saw the president meet with Kim Jong-un after he bashed our allies at the G-7 and then hogged our adversaries. And I fill like we are about to that again. The President will go to NATO and complained that NATO is costing too much and not really taking care of America's interest. And then he will go meet the [Prime Minister of Great Britain and that would be difficult. He will probably have a side meeting La Farce who is a pro-Brexit tier. And then he will go and meet with Putin possibly in Helsinski in a stand-alone summit.

Now I'm all for talking to the Russians, but a stand-alone summit is a real gift of saying that he is the President's equal and it's not at all clear what we are going to get out of such a summit.

O'DONNELL: Secretary of state Pompeo said today that he is very confident that the President, when he meets with Putin quote "will make clear that meddling in our elections is completely unacceptable. Are you as confident?

SHERMAN: I think if he does it, we are going to hear exactly what you just said. It will be one sentence and then he will move on. Because Putin will say we would never meddle, we have never meddled, we never will meddle and the President will say, well, I just want you to know it is unacceptable. And then they will move on. So it really won't be meaningful.

I look back at others who have had summits in Helsinski, President Ford did and President Herbert Walker Bush did. And they got things out of those summits. OSEE was created which creates cooperation. Looks at human right, the Helsinski accord, chemical weapons treaties got signed. Big things happened because we were tough and we were clear and we understood that we had a NATO alliance that was going to help us make sure that Europe stayed whole and peaceful and that we didn't have another world war.

I don't know that the President has any understanding of the context in which he is about to have a meeting with Putin, who is indeed the adversary John Bolton said he is.

O'DONNELL: With your experience negotiating with North Korea, I want you to get your reaction to a "Wall Street Journal" report indicating that they have indications that North Korea is actually upgrading its nuclear research capacity and its nuclear weapons capacity.

SHERMAN: Yes, indeed, 38 north, which is a think tank that looks at all things North Korea through commercial satellite, has seen some improvements at a reactor site. And, you know, this shouldn't surprise us. Kim Jong-un agreed perhaps to freeze testing of missiles and of nuclear testing, but he didn't say anything about research and development. He didn't say anything about improving production. We have a very long way to go to denuclearization. So no surprise here.

O'DONNELL: Ambassador Wendy Sherman, thank you for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

SHERMAN: Thank you.

O'DONNELL: Tonight's LAST WORD is next.


O'DONNELL: Time for tonight's LAST WORD.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is one talk show Trump likes.

TRUMP: They are not talented people. Johnny Carson was talented.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is right. Carson was a legend. And here's just a taste of some of his great material.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't worry about Jennifer Flowers. She got a new -- she got fired, you know. She was a reception at an unemployment agency. She got canned. But she got a new call today as a Donald Trump backup mistress.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He really was ahead of his time. That guy is funny.


O'DONNELL: Thanks to Stephen Colbert, this is the first time I get to say Johnny Carson, the legend, gets tonight's LAST WORD.

"The 11th Hour" With Brian Williams starts no.



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