Omarosa debacle. TRANSCRIPT: 08/13/2018. The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell

Guests: Jill Wine-Banks, Joyce Vance, David Corn, David Frum, David Rothkopf, John Podesta

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: July 13, 2018 Guest: Jill Wine-Banks, Joyce Vance, David Corn, David Frum, David Rothkopf, John Podesta

RICHARD ENGEL, MSNBC HOST: It is early Saturday morning in London now. The President has a day in Scotland. And then, despite these new indictments, he is going to go to Helsinki for his Monday summit with Vladimir Putin.

Now, it`s time for THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL. Lawrence?

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Thanks, Richard.

ENGEL: Good evening.

O`DONNELL: Thank you. Watergate Part Two. That is where America is tonight.

We now have a detailed indictment of the people who broke into Democratic Party headquarters during the 2016 presidential campaign. The last time that happened was 1972 when burglars were caught breaking into the Democratic National Committee`s offices in the Watergate office building in Washington, D.C.

The people who broke into the Democratic Party`s offices in 1972 were acting to help the Republican candidate for president. And the people who broke into the Democratic Party`s offices in 2016 were acting to help the Republican candidate for president.

No one caught the thieves in the act during the 2016 campaign because they broke into the office without ever setting foot in the Democratic Party`s office. Twelve Russian military officers pulled off the theft this time.

And today, three days before the President is scheduled to meet one-on-one with Vladimir Putin, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein made a historic announcement of an indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C. this morning and signed by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: Today, a grand jury in the District of Columbia returned an indictment presented by the Special Counsel`s office.

The indictment charges 12 Russian military officers by name for conspiring to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

Eleven of the defendants are charged with conspiring to hack into computers, steal documents, and release those documents with the intent to interfere in the election.

One of those defendants and a 12th Russian military officer are charged with conspiring to infiltrate computers of organizations involved in administering the elections, including state boards of election, secretaries of state, and companies that supply software used to administer elections.

According to the allegations in the indictment, the defendants worked for two units of the main intelligence directorate of the Russian general staff known as the GRU. The units engaged in active cyber operations to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

There was one unit that engaged in active cyber operations by stealing information, and a different unit that was responsible for disseminating the stolen information.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The indictment goes into technical detail of exactly what each Russian military officer did in this international criminal conspiracy and how each made their stolen material public.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSENSTEIN: The conspirators created fictitious online personas, including DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0, and they used those personas to release information, including thousands of stolen e-mails and other documents beginning in June of 2016.

The defendants falsely claimed that DCLeaks was a group of American hackers and that Guccifer 2.0 was a lone Romanian hacker.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The indictment shows how the Russians also used WikiLeaks, run by Julian Assange, to disseminate stolen material -- so that it would get more media attention -- that was harmful to Hillary Clinton`s campaign and helpful to Donald Trump`s campaign.

And in a stunning section of the indictment came the news that the Russians also invaded state election information, including information about 500,000 voters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSENSTEIN: In a second related conspiracy, Russian GRU officers hacked the Web site of a state election board and stole information about 500,000 voters. They also hacked into computers of a company that supplied software used to verify voter registration information.

They targeted state and local officials responsible for administering elections. And they sent spear phishing e-mails to people involved in administering elections, including attaching malicious software.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The indictment also charges the Russian military officers with money laundering in order to pay for some of the online infrastructure that they used in their attack.

And now that the special prosecutor`s office has completed the investigation that led to this indictment, the Deputy Attorney General announced today that the prosecution of the case would be moved to the Justice Department`s National Security Division.

And in that part of Rod Rosenstein`s announcement today, he made a little notice comment that should completely change the agenda of President Trump`s meeting with President Putin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSENSTEIN: Assistant Attorney General John Demers is here with me today because we intend to transition responsibility for this indictment to the Justice Department`s National Security division while we await the apprehension of the defendants.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: While we await the apprehension of the defendants. The FBI does not have the power of arrest in Moscow, but President Trump`s Justice Department has just indicted 12 Russians for the most serious crimes against the United States that any Russians have ever committed -- tampering with the Presidential election in an effort to elect Donald Trump.

President Trump`s agenda in his meeting with President Putin should begin and end with a demand for the immediate extradition to the United States of the 12 Russians indicted today by American citizens sitting in judgment of those 12 Russians in a grand jury in Washington, D.C.

The American people have spoken today as represented in the action of that grand jury of American citizens. The President spoke today about what he might say to Vladimir Putin about his interference in our election.

The President said this before today`s indictment was made public.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know you will ask will we be talking about meddling, and I will absolutely bring that up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: No, Mr. President, your job is not to bring it up. You have a new job now as the head of the executive branch, the branch that enforces our laws.

The President`s job now is to demand that the 12 Russians indicted today be surrendered to the United States for trial. That is what any real president of the United States would do.

Joining us now, Jill Wine-Banks, former assistant Watergate special prosecutor; and David Corn, Washington bureau chief from "Mother Jones" and co-author of the best-selling book, `Russian Roulette"; and Joyce Vance, a former federal prosecutor. She`s a professor at the University of Alabama School of law. And they are all MSNBC contributors.

And, Jill Wine-Banks, here we are now. This really is Watergate Part Two.

JILL WINE-BANKS, FORMER ASSISTANT WATERGATE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: It really is, and you have laid out a very good case. I would say that one of the differences is that this, in a way, answers a question that I have always had about, what were they thinking about breaking into the DNC during Watergate? What did they hope to get?

Well, now, we have seen what they might have been able to get if they had been successful because this was a successful break-in. They got very damaging documents that they weaponized and used to hurt Hillary Clinton and to help elect Donald Trump. That might have happened.

One difference, of course, is that the people who broke in worked for the White House and the committee to re-elect the President. Some were Cuban exiles who had worked in the Bay of Pigs invasion on behalf of the U.S.

We have now been invaded by a foreign adversary. This is very serious. And I agree with you completely that the first and last thing that should be discussed in the meeting with Putin -- if it isn`t canceled. But if it goes forward, he must fly home with the 12 indicted Russians.

O`DONNELL: I want to go to another element of the indictment here that`s very important because it comes in the same day that Donald Trump actually asked Russia to break the law in the way that Russia did break the law.

The indictment says that on July 27, 2016, the conspirators attempted, after hours, to spear phish, for the first time, e-mail accounts at a domain hosted by a third-party provider and used by Clinton`s personal office. At or around the same time, they also targeted 76 e-mail addresses at the domain for the Clinton campaign.

And that was -- that came at the end of the day when Donald Trump said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I will tell you this. Russia, if you`re listening, I hope you`re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joyce Vance, will Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller link Donald Trump -- at some point, link that comment to what the Russians did on that same day?

JOYCE VANCE, FORMER UNITED STATES ATTORNEY FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA: You know, that has to be the question that we`re all asking tonight, Lawrence.

This is what prosecutors call a speaking indictment. It tells a narrative story instead of just reciting the elements of the statute. And so Mueller had a lot of discretion about the language that he chose to include in this indictment.

And he`s very deliberately setting the stage here, making sure that none of us could miss this conduct on the 27th where he notes that Russia hacked the DNC, hacked Clinton`s servers for the first time, trying to get this information that Trump asked them to get for him on that date.

And so I suppose, much like Watergate, we`re back to this question of what did the President know and when did he know it? Was it just a random, lucky chance guess of a question that he asked Russia to do this, or had someone told him that there was a realistic possibility?

You know, law enforcement folks say that there is no such thing as a coincidence in law enforcement, so I would guess Mueller will have more to say on this point.

O`DONNELL: And, David Corn, of course, no sane person would openly invite Russians to commit a crime, but then we have been discussing exactly what the sanity level of Donald Trump is for the last couple of years.

DAVID CORN, CO-AUTHOR, "RUSSIAN ROULETTE: THE INSIDE STORY OF PUTIN`S WAR ON AMERICA AND THE ELECTION OF DONALD TRUMP": I think the indictment today is not just an indictment of the Russians but an indictment of Donald Trump and his whole crew. This shows something that we all kind of know.

O`DONNELL: But, David -- David, let me stop you though.

CORN: Yes, OK.

O`DONNELL: One of the White -- the White House`s reaction to this in their press release was nothing other than none of us had anything to do with it. Special Prosecutor says that none of us had anything to do with it.

The White House press release on it said nothing about the outrage of what the Russians were actually accused of doing --

CORN: Right.

O`DONNELL: -- and brought no objection to it whatsoever. But, David, the White House says this indictment gives us a completely clean bill.

CORN: Well, of course, it doesn`t because it shows there was an attack being mounted? It is not meddling. It is an attack on the United States political system throughout the summer of 2016.

While this attack was going on, even when it -- when there was evidence that it had happened, the Trump campaign, again and again, denied it was happening. This is akin to aiding and abetting. Even if you`re not in on the caper, you`re helping them get away with it.

Then we have this information today that Trump made a request and the Russians seemingly allegedly responded to it.

And at then even, like, in end of the campaign, the last, you know, two months, Trump, after being briefed that this attack was underway by the U.S. intelligence in August of 2016, still publically keeps saying, again and again, we don`t know if it`s the Russians. It could be this 400-pound guy.

And so this indictment today shows, without question, what we knew already. This attack happened and, yet, the Trump campaign tried to collude with Russia while the attack was underway, tried to form contacts with Russia while it was underway, and denied it was happening.

This is aiding and abetting, and it`s a little bit more important than a lot of the distractions and diversions that the House Republicans have thrown at us. And it`s bad enough you don`t even need for the collusion to say that Trump basically made common cause with a foreign adversary as it attacked the United States.

What worse can you say about a president of the United States?

O`DONNELL: Jill, talk about the difference between what you would need for a criminal indictment and a criminal conviction in court and what you might put in a bill of impeachment, particularly in relation to what we just saw the President do.

Candidate Trump standing up there inviting the Russians to commit crime, to commit crime against our democracy, crime that they are now charged with. Donald Trump publically invited them to commit that crime. Is that the kind of behavior that could find its way into a bill of impeachment?

WINE-BANKS: It certainly could be grounds for impeachment. Basically, impeachment is any crime, high crime or misdemeanor or treason. And working with a foreign agent or a foreign government could certainly be any of those things.

So it could be for impeachment, but I think it is also clear evidence of a crime. I mean, David is completely correct in saying that this is aiding and abetting the obstruction of our elections. That is a crime, and we should be looking at it.

But I would say that the Republicans in Congress who have wasted our time yesterday in an absurd hearing, attacking an FBI agent instead of looking at how they can prevent further interference in our elections.

We have clear proof beyond a reasonable doubt that our elections were hacked, that state election systems were violated, and that it is going to happen again in a few months. November is just months away, and Congress has to harden our election systems. The states have to get active in this.

We need to protect the sanctity -- the importance of our elections, and people need to know that their vote will count as they cast it. And we need to know that the social media won`t be used to change votes, thinking that it`s from Americans instead of from Russians. So it is all aiding and abetting, and we must get busy on this.

O`DONNELL: Joyce Vance, I want to get your reaction to the timing of this. Rod Rosenstein said that the indictment was actually returned this morning by a federal grand jury in Washington, D.C.

Did Rosenstein have any discretion as to when he would make this public? Could he have delayed this announcement until Tuesday after the President has met with Vladimir Putin?

VANCE: Well, he did. The return needed to be made once the grand jury voted. But, of course, there is timing involved.

But, look, Lawrence, I have worked with Rod Rosenstein for a number of years. He`s a straight arrow. My guess would be that he left discretion up to Mueller`s team about when this case was ready to indict and simply reported it out at that time.

He is not someone who believes prosecutors get to play loose and fast. He doesn`t believe in political strategies. And I think he reaffirmed that today, noting that people who are leaking information usually aren`t folks involved in the Justice Department and that his strategy is to try his cases in the courtroom at the appropriate time.

O`DONNELL: And, Joyce, just one more thing. Rod Rosenstein said that he has told -- the told the President about this beforehand. The last time he could have spoken to him in person would have been Monday.

So based on everything you heard him say about the way he notified the President, do you believe he might have been able to do that on Monday, anticipate what a grand jury would do on Friday?

VANCE: I think so. You know, people love to say that prosecutors can indict a ham sandwich, and I think that that oversimplifies. But in this case, the government knew that it had more than sufficient evidence for a grand jury to return a true bill, and I would expect that Mr. Rosenstein would have briefed the President whenever they met in person.

It wouldn`t have even had to have been just this Monday. It could have been at stages along the way as this case progressed.

O`DONNELL: Oh, we`re going to have to get a break in here. And when we come back, John Podesta will join us. He will tell us what it felt like to read today`s indictment description of how the Russians targeted him, went after him, and got him.

And some Republicans started working on impeachment today. The impeachment of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Seriously.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSENSTEIN: The indictment was returned today because prosecutors determined that the evidence was sufficient to present these allegations to a federal grand jury.

I briefed President Trump about these allegations earlier this week. The President is fully aware of the Department`s actions today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And that makes it all the more disturbing that this morning, already knowing that these indictments were coming, the President of the United States said this to the world.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I`d call it the rigged witch-hunt. I think that really hurts our country, and it really hurts our relationship with Russia. I think that we would have a chance to have a very good relationship with Russia and a very good chance -- a very good relationship with President Putin. I would hope so.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now, David Rothkopf, CEO of The Rothkopf Group, host of "Deep State Radio" and a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Also joining us, David Frum, a senior editor for "The Atlantic" and author of "Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic."

And, David Frum, it seems there is a new item on the Trump-Putin agenda, and that is extradition.

DAVID FRUM, AUTHOR, "TRUMPOCRACY: THE CORRUPTION OF THE AMERICAN REPUBLIC": Right, but let`s also remember today is the day when British police traced the source of this nerve agent that killed a British citizen, and it may be the same nerve agent that sickened two Russian defectors who were in the United Kingdom. So there is a lot to discuss with the Russians.

We have a habit, when we talk about this, of just out of politeness maybe or old-fashionedness of talking about this as if, what would a normal president say to Vladimir Putin in these circumstances?

But, you know, it`s awkward to put this, but we have to also think about this as President Trump is not there just to speak for America. He`s there as a participant in many of these actions, maybe possibly a guilty participant.

O`DONNELL: And Senator John McCain issued a statement today saying -- if President Trump is not prepared to hold Putin accountable, the summit in Helsinki should not move forward.

And, David Rothkopf, of course, the White House said the summit is still on absolutely. But we will possibly never know what the President actually says to Vladimir Putin about this since he wants the meeting to be one-on-one.

DAVID ROTHKOPF, VISITING SCHOLAR, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE: We won`t know. The President wants it to go on, and I think it`s very unlikely that he`s going to make the case that he ought to make on this, pressing the Russians.

Indeed, I think it`s absolutely right to call for him not to go and not to do this summit. But he is going to follow through.

And one of the problems with that is that by doing the summit, he is giving something to Putin. He is saying, I embrace you. I am elevating you in much the same way that he did with Kim. And that`s a foreign policy deliverable. That`s a win for Putin.

So in the midst of this, as David said, there is this case in Russia which is part of a series of cases in the midst of this ongoing case here in the United States. The President of the United States has chosen to embrace a man who is attacking the western alliance in a way that we have never seen it be attacked before.

O`DONNELL: I want to play what Donald Trump`s Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said he would say to Vladimir Putin in a situation like this. Let`s try to imagine Donald Trump saying anything like this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAN COATS, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: My message would be, we know what you`re doing, and we know you know what you`re doing. We know you run the shop. We know you`re making the decisions.

You can`t pass it off to, oh, that`s some hacker down somewhere where we don`t know. We know what you do. And so you make the choice. But if you want to stay in this tit for tat, we`re going to beat you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And, David Frum, Dan Coats is saying that on the same day that the President of the United States just made a game of it as if it was a T.V. lawyer show, referring to the old Perry Mason show and, you know, I can`t get -- I`m not going to be able to get Putin to confess to anything.

FRUM: Well, look, Dan Coats is playing the game I just described. He is playing this pretend game where, what if we had a president who was not implicated in these Russian adventures, what would that president say?

And it is interesting to speculate what that president would say. That`s not the President that the United States has. The President that the United States has -- I mean, he and Vladimir Putin have much more in common than the President has with Dan Coats.

O`DONNELL: And, David Rothkopf, there has been a lot of talk from not just John McCain, but other Democratic senators today.

But silence from most Republicans, silence from Mitch McConnell, just one sentence from Paul Ryan saying that this indictment -- at least he talks about the indictment. He doesn`t talk about who the indictment did not charge. And Paul Ryan`s statement does say that the -- what the Russians did was bad, but that`s about it from the Republican side.

ROTHKOPF: Well, I think the Republican side has a sense of culpability. I think some of them may see what`s coming here. You know, this is not -- you`ll forgive me for comparing this to what you were talking about in the first segment. This is not Watergate. This is not a second-rate burglary.

This is an ongoing attack by America`s number one adversary on our democracy. Dan Coats, who you referenced earlier, has been saying this attack is continuing right now. So this is a major national security issue.

And I think, in fact, one of the reasons that this indictment came out today was that Rosenstein and Mueller wanted to send the message to the Russians that Coats was talking about because they knew Trump wouldn`t send it.

In other words, they are saying, look, this is serious. We know it is serious. We are treating it like the national security threat that it is. And even if the President doesn`t mention it, rest assured, we are going to follow up on it, and we are going to press forward.

I think a lot of the Republicans that you talked about are afraid of how that story plays out because, unlike Robert Mueller, they have lost the plot here. They think it is political. It`s not political. This is about America`s national security and an ongoing threat that is not being addressed by this administration.

O`DONNELL: David, from one of the great overlooked questions for which we don`t actually have an answer is, to President Trump, why are you meeting with Vladimir Putin?

FRUM: Yes.

O`DONNELL: There has never been a White House rationale for the meeting. There`s never been an agenda identified for this meeting.

There`s -- we understand we are accustomed to heads of state meeting with heads of state, but we don`t actually know why this meeting is taking place. And we especially do not know why Donald Trump doesn`t want anyone else in the room.

FRUM: We don`t know and we do know. A line I have been using for two years now is that this -- the Trump-Russia story is a story of many secrets but no mysteries. And there are a lot of details we don`t know, but the central core of the story, we have known that since the summer of 2016.

O`DONNELL: We`re going to have to take a break here. David Rothkopf, thank you for joining our discussion. David, I really appreciate it.

Up next, John Podesta, the former chairman of the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign will join us. We will ask him what it felt like today when he read the indictment`s precise description of how the Russians stole his e-mail.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSENSTEIN: The defendants accessed e-mail accounts of volunteers and employees of a U.S. presidential campaign, including the campaign chairman, starting in March of 2016.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That campaign chairman was John Podesta, the chairman of Hillary Clinton`s campaign for president. And John Podesta joins our discussion now from California.

And, John Podesta, first of all, thank you very much for joining us on this really important night. And I just want to read for the audience --

JOHN PODESTA, FORMER CAMPAIGN MANAGER FOR HILLARY CLINTON: Glad to do it, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: -- the portion of the indictment that describes how the Russians attacked you and how they got to you.

The indictment says that on March 19, 2016, a Russian military officer and his co-conspirators created and sent a spear phishing e-mail to the chairman of the Clinton campaign. They used the account John356gh at an online service that abbreviated lengthy Web site addresses referred to as a shortening service.

They used the account to mask a link contained in the spear phishing e-mail, which directed the recipients to a GRU created Web site.

The military officer altered the appearance of the sender e-mail address in order to make it look like the e-mail was a security notification from Google, a technique known as spoofing, instructing the user to change his password by clicking the embedded link. Those instructions were followed.

On or about March 21, 2016, the officers and their co-conspirators stole the contents of the chairman`s e-mail account, which consisted of over 50,000 e-mails.

And, John Podesta, I can`t help but wondering -- wonder what it felt like today when you read that portion of the e-mail with that line that says the -- those instructions were followed. Do you remember that moment where you clicked on john356gh?

PODESTA: Well, Lawrence, there is a little bit more of a backstory to that, but I think the general observations of this have been well known, that there was a spear phishing attempt. It involved my assistant in my office.

But, at any rate, what`s important is that at the heart of this was a conspiracy, which is laid out in this indictment. Crimes were committed by officers of Russian intelligence that was done at the direction of Vladimir Putin, as our intelligence community has discerned.

There were allegations of money laundering, of computer fraud and abuse, of conspiracy. It involved conversations with American individuals. And, you know, still, we get nothing from Donald Trump.

This was, I think, profoundly an attack on me personally. And of course, that`s painful. But more importantly, it was an attack on America`s democracy. And I --

O`DONNELL: And --

PODESTA: You know, I grieve for the country, really.

O`DONNELL: Now, you worked for two presidents. You were in the White House working for Bill Clinton and working for President Obama.

What would President Obama do today about this? And especially what if President Obama had a meeting scheduled with President Putin on Monday, what would President Obama do?

PODESTA: Well, I think once this -- well, first of all, I think we have to step back a bit and say that Mr. Rosenstein briefed President Trump before he left on this trip. And yet, he decided to go forward with this meeting with Putin with no discernible agenda in front of him. An attempt to suck up to him, I guess. It is a little unclear what he intends to get out of it.

But we know what President Obama would have done because when he was faced with the situation where he was supposed to meet with President Putin and President Putin permitted the person who had hacked into the national security information in our country, he canceled that meeting.

There have been calls for Trump to go ahead and cancel the meeting with Putin. I doubt he`s going to do that. But more importantly, I doubt he`s going to really confront President Putin.

You know, he`s blown it off on his trip through Europe. He`s compared it to Perry Mason. He said, you know, I`ll ask the question again that the press wants me to ask.

But when President Obama was faced with President Putin admitting Edward Snowden to Russia, then President Putin -- Obama took the step of canceling that meeting. He took the steps of sanctioning the Russians after it became known that they had interfered with our election.

I don`t see any of that coming from President Trump. From the get-go in this campaign, he has tried to -- really, to adopt the Russian foreign policy, to dismiss what Putin has done in Ukraine and Crimea, et cetera. And now to completely dismiss the indictments that Mueller has brought forward, the guilty pleas from his national security advisor.

So, you know, I`m not expecting much from President Trump, but one can only hope that he`ll put America first and push forward with trying to get some resolution. Maybe a first step would be to ask Putin to extradite those 12 military officials who were indicted today in the U.S. court.

O`DONNELL: Yes. The Trump Justice Department has accused these Russian military officers of committing a crime against you personally, along with other people, but a specific crime against you personally.

Do you believe you have a right to have your interests represented by the President of the United States and demand extradition of those people accused of those crimes so that you can face them in a courtroom in America?

PODESTA: I have a right, but I have low expectation that he`ll do it. I have to say. You know, I think, again, his course of conduct has been to dismiss this. You know, he constantly refers to an investigation that`s already yielded 35 indictments as a witch-hunt.

And all I have to say is that the hunters are finding a lot of witches, and a lot of them are connected to Donald Trump.

O`DONNELL: John Podesta, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I know it was not easy for you to do that. I really appreciate you being with us. Thank you very much.

PODESTA: No problem, Lawrence. Thanks.

O`DONNELL: And when we come back, the impeachment of Rod Rosenstein. That is what some Trump extremists in the House of Representatives are now trying to do.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSENSTEIN: I want to caution you, the people who speculate about federal investigations usually do not know all of the relevant facts. We do not try cases on television or in congressional hearings.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was a timely reminder for all of us today from Rod Rosenstein, but he may have been directing those comments more specifically at the most extreme Trump supporters in the House of Representatives who are now plotting to impeach Rod Rosenstein.

Politico reports today House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows had the impeachment document on the floor of the House at the very moment that Rosenstein spoke to reporters and T.V. cameras Friday.

Conservative GOP lawmakers have been plotting to remove Rosenstein for weeks, accusing him of slow making their probe of FBI agents they have accused of bias against President Donald Trump.

Now, do I really have to explain to Mark Meadows why he is never going to be able to impeach Rod Rosenstein? Should I explain it to him, or should I just let him keep going in his typical Trump extremist, imbecilic way? Let him just publicly and miserably fail in his mad crusade against Rod Rosenstein?

I mean, I really would love to see that clown car called the House Judiciary Committee run by Bob Goodlatte, which we all watched at its clownish best yesterday -- I`d love to see them try to run an impeachment hearing on Rod Rosenstein.

So I don`t know, maybe I shouldn`t tell them how hopeless the whole madness is. I will decide during the commercial break whether to teach Mark Meadows a lesson about impeachment votes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSENSTEIN: The Special Counsel`s investigation is ongoing, and there will be no comments about the Special Counsel at this time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Back with us, Jill Wine-Banks, David Corn, and David Frum.

And we are now facing the House of Representatives, the extremists there, the Trump supporters, talking about the possible impeachment of Rod Rosenstein.

And, Jill, they don`t -- I`m not sure they have read the constitution about impeachment. It takes a two-thirds vote in the United States Senate. Where, as of tonight, there are probably zero votes for the -- to convict Rod Rosenstein in an impeachment trial.

WINE-BANKS: I think beyond the fact that there are probably zero votes, there certainly are not two-thirds. But in addition, America will stand up and fight that. They will take to the streets if that happens.

The investigation is not nearly over. It`s clear that there are more indictments to come, and his announcement today of the current indictment stated we haven`t indicted Americans. You could almost hear the word yet at the end of that.

There is certainly more to come, and it would be completely wrong, as well as politically unachievable.

O`DONNELL: And, David Frum, I`m not sure they would even get the votes in that crazy House Judiciary Committee --

FRUM: No.

O`DONNELL: -- that we watched on display the other day. But they would need a majority vote on the House floor, and I don`t think they would get to a majority vote of House Republicans on impeaching Rod Rosenstein.

FRUM: Well, what you are hearing is kind of the doorknob rattling as trapped men try to find an exit. To date, the Republicans in the House have had a communications strategy for dealing with President Trump`s legal problems. They haven`t really had a political strategy and they haven`t, at all, had a legal strategy.

But this is about to get very, very real, as you were saying, and as -- that there are almost certainly indictments of Americans coming. And the realities of the situation are becoming harder and harder to deny.

So, yes, you can get people revved up by talking about everything, the FBI is bad, the FBI is unfair, the FBI has opinions. But that only works until this becomes a legal matter, and then you need a defense. And they haven`t got one.

O`DONNELL: And, David Corn, there`s a fascinating passage in the indictment today about a candidate for the U.S. Congress.

It says -- conspirators posing as Guccifer 2.0 received a request for stolen documents for a candidate for the U.S. Congress. The conspirators responded using the Guccifer 2.0 persona and sent the candidate stolen documents related to the candidate`s opponent.

I`m not sure what the timetable is for finding out who that candidate was, but there could be some Republicans who wants to impeach Rod Rosenstein who might know who that candidate was.

CORN: Yes, they might. And, you know, I have a little bit of a different take than David and Jill here. I mean -- and maybe you, Lawrence. I think this is ridiculous and absurd. But I think everything that the House Republicans have done over the last 18 months has been ridiculous and absurd, going on about FISA warrants and unmasking and Trump, you know, being wiretapped by Obama.

I mean, their strategy just really seems to be to muddy the waters. They don`t have to win. They don`t win any of these things. They didn`t win yesterday, but they made everything look kind of unclear and complicated. That serves their base.

I can`t tell you how many tweets I`m getting a day from Trumpkins who say, this indictment shows there`s a deep state conspiracy against Donald Trump. And we`re all part of it, by the way. So I think they`re just going to keep on moving because the idea -- their goal is to prevent clarity here, even when indictments like today`s gives us some semblance of clarity.

O`DONNELL: Let`s take a look at Rod Rosenstein at work today. This is the person who some of these House Republicans want to see in the witness chair in an impeachment hearing in the Judiciary Committee in the House.

Here he is being asked about his response to the President calling the investigation a witch-hunt, and this is no surprise. This is pure professionalism at work here.

CORN: Yes.

O`DONNELL: Let`s watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Number one, the timing today on the eve of the President`s meeting with Putin, can you talk about that? And also, just today, the President described the Mueller investigation as a witch-hunt. Your response.

ROSENSTEIN: The timing, as I mentioned, is a function of the collection of the facts, the evidence of the law, and a determination that were sufficient to present the indictment at this time. As I mentioned, I did brief the President.

With regard to the nature of the investigation, I only comment on the evidence. The evidence that reflects -- is reflected in our indictments. And then our charges represents a determination by prosecutors and agents without regard to politics. And we believe the evidence is sufficient to justify the charges.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Jill Wine-Banks, I did not see one Republican member of the House Judiciary Committee yesterday who could win one round of questioning with Rod Rosenstein.

WINE-BANKS: I agree. Yesterday`s hearing was such a disgrace. It reminded me of the McCarthy hearings, which I didn`t see live but have seen videos of.

I was ashamed to be an American with the attack on Peter Strzok. There was no cause for it, and they accomplished nothing. He withstood the withering attacks on him.

I think one of the best lines of the day was -- I`m going to ask questions even though they grandmother told me, if you`re at a circus, don`t jump into the center ring unless you want to look like a clown. But he went ahead anyway, and he didn`t look like a clown because he was one of the people who was asking legitimate questions.

But there was no evidence that came out of yesterday. So it`s in stark contrast, the facts and evidence presented to the American people today in the form of this speaking indictment.

O`DONNELL: And, David Frum, Rod Rosenstein tried to take the politics out of today`s announcement. He said when we confront foreign interference in American elections, it is important for us to avoid thinking politically as Republicans or Democrats. What do you suppose is the future for Rod Rosenstein`s attempt to get the politics out of this?

FRUM: I think this is all going to become a lot more intense. Because, as I said before, until now, there has been a communications strategy, by the White House, by its allies on Capitol Hill.

But they now are going to need a legal strategy. They have to do something. The situation is becoming very dangerous. It is clear that more indictments are coming. Simply making people excited on Twitter is not going to get them very much farther than they are today.

O`DONNELL: David Frum, David Corn, and Jill Wine-Banks, thank you very much for joining us on this important night.

Tonight`s last word is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: For tonight`s last word, we turn back to what I had to say very late at night last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": What about when he meets with -- in Helsinki with Vladimir Putin? What`s going to -- what would we look for there?

O`DONNELL: Scariest meeting in the history of the American presidency because this will -- he wants this meeting to be just Putin-Trump, no one else in the room except the two translators. That makes the two translators the most valuable translators in history because they will be the only witnesses to what these guys said.

COLBERT: After that meeting is over, if I was one of those translators, I would have someone else taste my food. Forever.

(LAUGHTER)

O`DONNELL: For the rest of what could be your short life if you`re the Russian translator.

COLBERT: Yes, sir.

O`DONNELL: And so we know we cannot trust Donald Trump`s account of what happened in that meeting. We know we can`t trust Vladimir Putin`s account of what happened in that meeting. So we really will likely never know what happened in that meeting.

And the other important part of it, to go back to your why, we`ll never know why that meeting happened the way it did, why did Donald Trump insist that no one else be in the room.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And it my chat with Stephen Colbert is tonight`s last word. The Russians have not given up in trying to interfere in our elections as Brian will show you in "THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS" which starts right now.

END

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