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Trump revokes Brennan's clearance. TRANSCRIPT: 08/15/2018. The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell

Guests: Harry Litman

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: August 15, 2018 Guest: Harry Litman


And I am so sorry. I am so sorry that you did not get the transcript of today`s court proceedings in time for your hour tonight. I have it right here.


O`DONNELL: Does it pain you that I have it in my hands? I shouldn`t have --

MADDOW: I have the rage.

O`DONNELL: I -- no, yes. No, I`ve heard about that. I saw your exchange with Ali.

MADDOW: It`s the wrath. It`s the rage. This is really just jealousy. I`m turning green, not red. Yes.

O`DONNELL: So, I got this 10 minutes ago, OK? And let me just give you this. Let me just give you the last line, the last line spoken by the defense.


O`DONNELL: Today to the jury.

The government has not met their burden beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Manafort knowingly and willfully filed false returns or knowingly or willfully failed to file F bars. He then went on to thank the jury.

The last line, the last line from the prosecution. Last words the jury has heard from one of the lawyers in the case before the judge took over with his instructions.

Ladies and gentlemen, the evidence in this case is what controls. It`s the evidence that comes from that witness stand and it leads to only one conclusion, and that is that Mr. Manafort is guilty and guilty as charged.

MADDOW: One of those sounds very Perry Mason and one of those doesn`t.

O`DONNELL: Which? Which one?

MADDOW: The one that didn`t say F bar, which actually might be an FEC banned acronym.

O`DONNELL: You see the emphasis there. The evidence is the evidence that comes from that witness stand where Paul Manafort never sat and where no witnesses appeared for the defense. Everything you are supposed to take from this case comes from that witness stand. The defense gave you nothing.

MADDOW: You know, everybody keeps telling us all the legal experts keep telling us it is not that weird that the defense didn`t mount a defense. But the defense didn`t mount a defense. And they do, no matter what happens here, have to be looking down the barrel at the next federal criminal trial for Paul Manafort that is due to start in just a few weeks just a few miles away in Washington, D.C.

The idea they might try not mounting a defense and that might fail here would set them up in D.C. to have to mount a defense, although, they would be coming at it from a place of weakness because they just lost their previous case in an adjoining district. I mean, it just -- I don`t envy these guys.

O`DONNELL: No, it`s a perfectly reasonable tactic to not mount a defense, but there`s no lawyer who`s going to tell you that that tactic improves the statistical likelihood of a not guilty verdict.


O`DONNELL: In fact, it reduces it rather dramatically.


O`DONNELL: If you look at the cases where there is no defense presented. That is -- that makes it much less likely to get to the not guilty.

But, Rachel, we`re going to be covering this. Many other things tonight. Steve Schmidt is here. He wants to talk about what happened to John Brennan today. And you know Steve Schmidt and I think you know he has something to say about this.

MADDOW: Yes, and credit to you, my friend, for having been a part of this story in terms of John Brennan`s last public comment last night before this happened today, happening on THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL.

You`re in the middle of this one like you are in the middle of a lot of these. I am very much looking forward to your coverage tonight.

O`DONNELL: And, Rachel, you`re going to be in the middle of the transcript as soon as you leave your desk.

MADDOW: I`m coming to steal your copy.

O`DONNELL: They`re going to hand -- they have one for you. They`re going to hand it to you and that`s what you`re going to do instead of sleeping tonight.

MADDOW: If they don`t have a copy of mine, I`m taking yours.

O`DONNELL: They do. They do. Thank you, Rachel.

I will not relent when the history of Robert Mueller`s investigation of the president of the United States has written, we surely discover that every time President Trump`s TV lawyer Rudy Giuliani publicly threatened Robert Mueller as he did today, publicly demanded that the investigation end as he did today, every time Rudy Giuliani did that, Robert Mueller thought to himself, I will not relent. History will probably tell us that.

That`s what Omarosa seems to be thinking now that the president is suing Omarosa to try to shut her up, to stop her from repeatedly going on television and playing her secretly recorded audio of conversations that include Trump campaign staffers sharing the firm belief with Omarosa that Donald Trump has definitely said the N-word and has probably been recorded saying the N-word.

"I will not relent" starting to sound like Omarosa`s motto this week. The president has never attacked anyone more viciously than he has attacked Omarosa this week, trying to get her to shut up. I won`t repeat what he has called her. The whole world knows the words the president has chosen, disgusting language.

It is Trump at his most publicly vile. But he does not seem to be scaring Omarosa. She will be back on television tomorrow, possibly with more secret recordings. She seems to be thinking I will not relent.

That was the unifying feeling that was going through the minds of the millions and millions and millions of people in the United States and around the world who rose up in resistance to president Trump the day after he was inaugurated. I will not relent.

And if you criticize Donald Trump publicly, he is going to do everything he possible can to crush you. So, the one thing you need to know about yourself before you criticize Donald Trump is, I will not relent.

Former CIA Director John Brennan knew exactly who he was dealing with when he decided to publicly start criticizing Donald Trump. John Brennan knows more about Donald Trump than Donald Trump wants him to know. John Brennan knows much more about Donald Trump than John Brennan can say publicly.

As CIA director, John Brennan was in the group of Obama administration intelligence officials who briefed President-elect Trump at Trump Tower two weeks before his inauguration. That was the day that James Comey was left alone in the room to brief Donald Trump specifically on a dossier that had been circulating around Washington that described Donald Trump`s connections to Russians, including an unsubstantiated account of a night Donald Trump allegedly spent at a Moscow hotel in the company of Russian prostitutes.

John Brennan is now our senior national security and intelligence analyst for MSNBC and NBC News, and he surely knew when he began sharply criticizing President Trump this year that Donald Trump was going to strike back. Donald Trump was going to hit John Brennan as hard as he could and John Brennan has no doubt known from the start what he would say when the day came that Donald Trump hit John Brennan as hard as he could and that day was today.

And John Brennan immediately said, I will not relent. The straw that broke the camel`s back as Rachel was just suggesting for Donald Trump was John Brennan`s first appearance on this program at this hour last night.

Here is the last thing that John Brennan said publicly before President Trump stripped him of his security clearance today.


JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: First, I think Donald Trump has badly sullied the reputation of the office of the presidency with his invective, with his constant disregard, I think, for human decency, as well as his befriending of autocratic leaders around the world and his continued pursuit of relationships to benefit himself as opposed the country. I do think that America`s standing in the world has also been tarnished.

But I think even more fundamentally, what he is doing here in the United States is very polarizing and he is, I think, the most divisive president we`ve ever had in the Oval Office. He is feeding and fuelling hatred and animosity and misunderstandings among Americans. And so, I am very concerned when I look at some of the tweets that are out there and commentary. We are just fighting with each other as a nation.


O`DONNELL: And so, today, a hastily scheduled White House press briefing began this way.



REPORTER: Good afternoon.

SANDERS: I`d like to begin by reading a statement from the president.

As the head of the executive branch and commander-in-chief, I have a unique constitutional responsibility to protect the nation`s classified information, including by controlling access to it. Today, in fulfilling that responsibility, I have decided to revoke the security clearance of John Brennan, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Mr. Brennan has recently leveraged his status as a former high ranking official with access to highly sensitive information, to make a series of unfounded and outrageous allegations, wild outbursts on the Internet and television about this administration.


O`DONNELL: John Brennan learned of the president`s action after friends alerted him to the White House press briefing announcement and his first response was on Twitter.

John Brennan said: This action is part of a broader effort by Mr. Trump to suppress freedom of speech. It should gravely worry all Americans, including intelligence professionals about the cost of speaking out. My principles are worth far more than clearances. I will not relent.

John Brennan`s first interview after the White House announcement today was by phone with MSNBC`s Nicolle Wallace.


BRENNAN: Revoking my security clearances is his way of trying to get back at me. But I think I have tried to voice the concerns of millions of Americans about Mr. Trump`s failures in terms of fulfilling the responsibilities of that sacred and solemn office of the presidency. And this is not going to deter me at all. I`m going to continue to speak out.

But I am very worried about the message that it appears that Mr. Trump is trying to send to others, including those that currently hold security clearances within the government. I have seen this type of behavior and actions on the part of foreign tyrants and despots and autocrats for many, many years during my CIA and national security career. I never ever thought that I would see it here in the United States.


O`DONNELL: Leading off our discussion now, Steve Schmidt, former Republican strategist, and Malcolm Nance, author of the new book, "The Plot to Destroy Democracy". They are both MSNBC contributors.

And, Steve Schmidt, your reaction to what the president did today with John Brennan`s security clearance?

STEVE SCHMIDT, FORMER REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, it`s an abuse of power. It`s retribution against a political opponent by the president of the United States, autocratic president, one who encourages his followers in chants of lock her up, we`ll lock him up against political opponents.

John Brennan is an American patriot. He has served America honorably, far more honorably than Donald Trump has. And what`s true about this is that when you look at an administration where Omarosa or Jared Kushner or Ivanka Trump have security clearances and John Brennan does not, then you know something is askew and amiss.

But, look, he has an enemy`s list and he is clearly targeting the enemy`s list. Have no doubt. If Donald Trump could send out secret police to handcuff and arrest John Brennan, perhaps me, perhaps many others who speak out against this president, have no doubt he would likely do it.

And that`s the point here. It`s the abuse of power, but also the power that he has that he`s unable to abuse but would if he could that we ought to be having a discussion about in this country.

O`DONNELL: Malcolm Nance, what did the nation`s intelligence service lose with this decision in terms of its ability to confer with a former CIA director over matters that the CIA director might have unique knowledge?

MALCOLM NANCE, FORMER COUNTERTERRORISM INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: Well, it loses a body of knowledge. It loses corporate knowledge.

I want to point something out about John Brennan. I know John Brennan. I have met him several times. John Brennan is the man that killed Osama bin Laden at the order of President Barack Obama by integrating CIA assets, producing the intelligence, passing that intelligence on to our special mission war fighters and executing that mission.

He has unique intelligence knowledge, which must be shared with his successors and his opinion which should be brought forth whenever this nation needs to defend itself. Donald Trump does not concern himself with the protection of this nation. He concerns himself with the protection of Donald Trump.

And so, he allows people -- as Steve said, people like Jared Kushner who made contact with the Russians and asked for secure, cryptographic communications to hide his back channel from the CIA and the NSA, he should not be cleared. John Brennan should be cleared. You know, at this point, John -- Donald Trump has given more top secret information to the Russians just through inadvertent disclosure than the clearance that John Brennan has had. So, this isn`t enough.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what John Brennan told Nicolle Wallace today about his service to both Democratic and Republican presidents and the way he thinks this is actually -- the way this feels for him today. Let`s listen to this.


BRENNAN: I served for six presidents, three Republicans and three Democrats. And I don`t think there was ever a time that any intelligence or law enforcement questioned whether the president of the United States was taking their information seriously. So, this is I think a sad time.

We will come out from it, under it. I am very confident in the resilience and the strength of this nation. And Mr. Trump is not going to bring this country down.


O`DONNELL: Steve Schmidt, John Brennan, sad but confident.

SCHMIDT: Well, look, Lawrence, I think that one of the things that we have to do as a country is to recognize how abnormal all of this is and to talk seriously with each other about a president who is purposely divisive, who pits Americans against each other, who incites the worst instincts and impulses in the country, and to look around the world and ask a question: is the country in decline?

And when you look at the signs, it`s hard to argue that we are not. And that there is a fundamental choice lying ahead for the American people in what I would argue is the most important midterm election in American history coming in November and then the most important presidential election since the election of 1864, which frankly was a memorandum on whether we would continue to be a country or not. The next presidential election will mark a choice for this country about whether it goes down a path of decline or begins an era of renewal following Donald Trump.

He is right that it is a resilient country. And John Brennan is right to have faith in America. But our inheritance that was given to us by such sacrifice by generation of American patriots is not entitlement. We are not guaranteed greatness in our future.

And when you have a president as reckless, as incompetent, as mean-spirited as Donald Trump, when you see the brokenness in our politics, the pitting of American against American to the degree that we`re seeing, it is not necessarily the case that everything is going to be OK. And I think there is a real lack of imagination in the country`s mind about the damage that a president is incompetent, reckless, ignorant as this one could cause in the world.

So, I appreciate the director`s optimism, but I`m someone who is deeply concerned, deeply worried about the trajectory that this vile president has the country on.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to more about what John Brennan told Nicolle Wallace talking about the president`s dishonesty, his nastiness, especially the nastiness we`ve seen in the last couple of days.

Let`s listen to this.


BRENNAN: I must tell you that Mr. Trump`s dishonesty, his lack of integrity is masking us, that mean-spiritedness, the kinds of things that he has just tweeted out over the past 72 hours. The terms that he uses, this is not what I think of an American president, nor of America.

We`re better than this. We have to be better than this. We have been a shining example to the world and Mr. Trump is letting this country down.


O`DONNELL: Malcolm Nance, John Brennan pleading that we are better than this.

NANCE: And we are better than that. I mean, we are absolutely better than this.

And what breaks my heart is that there are right now hundreds of intelligence watch standards around the world watching this program listening to these words thinking that their careers, their dedication working in the dark, their selflessness, which they asked for no public recognition, can just be tossed away because of a political whim. If it can happen to the highest person at the CIA, even though he`s a former director, it can happen to the average watch stander.

It might be happening. You know, this administration almost immediately employed political commissars early on.

Steve Schmidt is right. You know, this administration is incompetent. And their incompetence shows their meanness, their ruthlessness and their utter villainy to a certain extent.

But, you know, I`m in Philadelphia, and every time I come back here, where I was born, I`m just reminded back to that -- to the Declaration of Independence which addressed this at one time were, I paraphrase, you now, a prince with characteristics that marks such a tyrant is unfit to be the leader of a free people, and that`s where we are.

O`DONNELL: Malcolm Nance, Steve Schmidt, thank you for leading us off tonight. Really appreciate it.

When we come back, why tomorrow is going to be without a doubt the single most agonizing day Donald Trump has experienced in the White House.

And President Trump knew he was in trouble this morning when "Fox and Friends" turned on him. We have the video.

And we don`t have a recording of Donald Trump saying the N-word, but we have something else that he said in 1989 about being black. You really want to hear him say this.

And at the end of our hour tonight, we will have a very special last word tonight.


O`DONNELL: Agony, that`s what Donald Trump is in for tomorrow, sheer agony. Tomorrow is going to be Donald Trump`s most agonizing day in the presidency because.

Beginning at 9:30 a.m., six men and six women will start their jury deliberations in the case of the United States of America versus Paul Manafort. Paul Manafort`s future will be on the line in that jury room and so will Donald Trump`s. That`s what Rudy Giuliani and President Trump apparently believe, according to reporting tonight in "The Washington Post" in which Rudy Giuliani said the first verdict obtained by Robert Mueller`s team of prosecutors could determine the future of the Mueller investigation and the Mueller investigators.

Giuliani told "The Washington Post", quote, they`re empowered if they win and defeated if they lose.

Imagine Donald Trump`s joy if a jury rejects Robert Mueller`s first prosecution in court. And imagine Donald Trump`s rage if a jury hits Paul Manafort with the word guilty. And imagine Donald Trump`s personal agony tomorrow starting at 9:30 a.m. as he awaits that jury verdict.

In final arguments today, the prosecution told the jury the star witness in this case is the documents, the documents that the prosecution says prove that Paul Manafort committed tax fraud and bank fraud, the documents that show $60 million in income to Paul Manafort from Ukrainian oligarchs with zero taxes paid on that income, the documents that show Paul Manafort lying about his assets and applications for bank loans, the documents that show Paul Manafort maintaining foreign bank accounts which he did not reveal to the government as required by law, the documents that show Paul Manafort deliberately lying to his bookkeeper and his accountants.

The defense tried to make the case all about Rick Gates, Paul Manafort`s former assistant, who has already pleaded guilty in the case to the lying to the FBI. The prosecution said, when Paul Manafort was hiring Rick Gates to work for him, he deliberately chose someone who would break the law, along with Paul Manafort. The prosecution said about Rick Gates -- about Paul Manafort hiring Rick Gates, he didn`t choose a Boy Scout.

The prosecutors made no public comment today, but one of Paul Manafort`s lawyers who did not call a single witness in defense of Paul Manafort said only this.


KEVIN DOWNING, ATTORNEY FOR PAUL MANAFORT: Mr. Manafort was very happy with how things went today. His defense team got to address the jury, point out the shortcomings in the government`s case and explain that the government has not met their burden of proof. Thank you.


O`DONNELL: Our legal team joining us now.

Jill Wine-Banks, former assistant Watergate special prosecutor and an MSNBC legal analyst, and Harry Litman, a former U.S. attorney and deputy assistant attorney general under President Clinton.

Jill Wine-Banks, your assessment of where this case stands tonight?

JILL WINE-BANKS, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: I would say the case went in very well for the prosecution. The evidence especially in the form of documents was very strong. But so were the witnesses.

Yes, Rick Gates is a flawed person, but his testimony was corroborated by the documents. And I think it`s believable. And he isn`t the one who benefitted from all of the foreign accounts. The beneficiary was the man whose lavish lifestyle was funded by those accounts. His expenses were paid out of the foreign accounts he didn`t acknowledge at all.

And so, I think it went very well. My only concern is some of the remarks that the judge made I think were very detrimental and some of it was taken care of by corrective instructions right before the jury went in. But it is of concern to me, and it only takes one juror for a hung jury. I don`t think there is any chance that there will be an acquittal. But there is a possibility of a hung jury.

O`DONNELL: Harry Litman, 18 counts, including these counts of failing to acknowledge the foreign bank accounts, which seems to me as I have read the testimony about it, the most open and shut part of the case. There was absolutely no defense presented on that element at all. There wasn`t anything in cross-examination of the witnesses that came in from the treasury to talk about that.

And then that final sentence that the prosecutor said to the jury at the close of the case, the evidence in this case is what controls. It`s the evidence that comes from that witness stand. And it leads to only one conclusion, and that is that Mr. Manafort is guilty and guilty as charged.

Harry, that emphasis about the witness stand when the defense does not call a single witness to the witness stand is the kind of thing that lands with juries.

HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: You know, I think it does. As many lawyers expected Manafort not to testify, understood what the rules of the game that he couldn`t afforded to, but I think one finds again and again when one interviews jurors, they want to hear from the accused. And they combined his sitting down with a really pretty weak, well, they haven`t met their burden kind of closing argument, which is the last card in the deck as it were.

As Jill says, the witnesses are strong, but the documents which they will take back with them are particularly strong. There is really no reasonable doubt about Manafort`s having lied up and down, lied to inflate income when he needed it, lied to reduce it when he wanted to get away with taxes. As Jill says, you can never know about a hold out, but it went in very well.

One thing I would say, it is a very meticulous jury. They`re paying a lot of attention throughout the trial, but especially today. And I think you can expect them to work through the charges one at a time and that we will not have a verdict until maybe early next week. We wouldn`t be worried about the holdout scenario until a little bit after that, I think.

O`DONNELL: And, Harry, with this kind of indictment and this kind of -- the number of counts, it would not be surprising for there to be a question or two from jury deliberation possibly tomorrow or the next day as they`re thinking about this.

LITMAN: I think that`s really right, especially again given how sort of meticulous and methodical they`ve been and everyone might then say, oh, my, look at them, they`re having doubts about one charge or another, especially those last four bank fraud charges.

But, you know, I think it won`t be that meaningful in the long run, even if he`s convicted of say 14 of 18, his sentence is probably the same and I think it registered as a resounding victory for Mueller.

As long as there is not a hold out, as long as there is a result, if the jury decides to acquit on a couple charges, I think Mueller nevertheless will be satisfied.

O`DONNELL: Harry Litman, Jill Wine-Banks, thanks for joining us tonight.

LITMAN: Thanks.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: President Trump`s TV lawyer again threatened Special Prosecutor Robert on his investigation telling Bloomberg, "If he doesn`t get it done in the next two or three weeks, we will just unload on him like a ton of bricks." I thought Rudy Giuliani already unloaded all of his bricks.

And tonight, the Washington Post is reporting that the President`s criminal defense lawyers are working on their legal research to fight all the way to the Supreme Court if Robert Mueller issues a subpoena to President Trump to testify to a grand jury. Rudy Giuliani told the Washington Post, "We would move to quash the subpoena and we`re pretty much finished with our memorandum opposing a subpoena."

By we, Giuliani, of course, means Emmet Flood, the President`s real lawyer working on the legal case who would actually represent Donald Trump in court while Rudy Giuliani (INAUDIBLE). Rudy Giuliani outlines three possible scenarios of what happens next. Plan A is we somehow work out the questioning. Plan B is we don`t and they subpoena. Plan C is they file the report and don`t issue a subpoena.

Joining our discussion now, Jason Johnson, politics editor at and MSNBC contributor and Jill Wine-Banks is back with us.

And Jason Johnson, in the history of these kinds of investigations, presidents have always wanted to show they have nothing to hide. And that is part of why Bill Clinton ultimately ended up agreeing to testify rather than face a subpoena.

But this President and Rudy Giuliani seem to have no problem communicating very clearly that he`s got a lot to hide and a lot he doesn`t want to talk about.

JASON JOHNSON, POLITICS EDITOR: They`re acting incredibly guilty. And the other problem here, Lawrence is that they`re pushing this issue. The reason that you usually end up volunteering and Clinton would sit down and talk to special prosecutors is you do not want to roll the dice with the federal and constitutional crisis that might come from trying to resist a subpoena.

Maybe you end up winning and then you show presidential power is stronger than you thought, the executive stronger than you thought and you can`t be subpoenaed until you leave office. But if you lose, if it becomes apparent to your political adversaries to the opposing party that a president can be subpoenaed while they are in office, it would destroy anything Trump ever wants to do.

So they are playing chicken right now and they really don`t have much to grow with. It`s not a good idea. He should probably just submit to the questions.

O`DONNELL: And Jill, once again some incoherence from Rudy Giuliani, investigation must be over by September 1st but if there is a subpoena, we will fight it which is months and months and months if it goes all the way to Supreme Court.

JILL WINE-BANKS, FORMER ASSISTANT WATERGATE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: Well, he is making up the rule about September 1st and he`s not in a position to make up that rule. They can go on until this investigation is completed. And of course, the Mueller team should do that.

There is no reason to stop it and there is a reason not to do something that would interfere with the midterms which would be, for example, if he was going to return an indictment against the President or any other sitting person who`s running for election in the midterms, that you wouldn`t do in October or November, probably. But you could as soon as the election is over and so there`s no reason to put an end to it.

And Giuliani just makes things up. He says things that are simply not true.

O`DONNELL: And today, John Brennan said that he believes that not only must the investigation continue but it is obviously putting more and more pressure on Donald Trump and perhaps that`s part of the behavior we`ve seen -- we`re seeing Donald Trump manifest publically. Let`s listen to what John Brennan said.


JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER DIRECTOR, CIA: It`s critically important that Bob Mueller and the two investigators be allowed to continue their work unimpeded by Mr. Trump or anyone else in the administration. It`s important that Rod Rosenstein stays in charge of that investigation from a Department of Justice oversight perspective.

But clearly, I think Mr. Trump is getting more and more concerned, more and more desperate. I would say more and more frightened as there is closer and closer magnification of some of the things that those around him have been involved in.


O`DONNELL: Jason, John Brennan knows a thing or two about Donald Trump and he thinks he`s frightened.

JOHNSON: He`s terrified. Look, I mean first off, he`s going to wait on pins and needles for tomorrow morning and find out what happened to Paul Manafort. If that - basically, if Manafort is found guilty which seems highly likely at this particular point, I don`t think the super (INAUDIBLE) win it, then he realizes that not only does that mean that one of his closest advisors is now going to be going to jail but also that everybody else who will be caught in Mueller`s net will probably just turn on him.

So the President is extremely concerned about these things. And I don`t think we can ever sort of underestimate the fact that he`s looking at the polls, he`s looking at the internal numbers even if they have to write them in crown (ph) in the White House will pay attention and it looks like Democrats may take the house.

And if he thinks that Manafort in this investigation is bad now, wait until the Democrats in the House have oversight, he`ll be in trouble every single week. That`s why he really shouldn`t be risking things with the subpoena right now. He should go in and try to get this done as fast as possible because the Democrats will give him no quarter if they take over the House.

O`DONNELL: And Jill, do you remain confident that Robert Mueller will prevail on the subpoena for testimony?

WINE-BANKS: I am very confident on that. U.S. v. Nixon said that no one is above the law, including the President and they allowed a subpoena for documents. And there is no real difference between making the President turn over incriminating tapes and making the President testify.

Yes, there is a time issue for him to do both of those and probably a little more for testimony. But a man who can play as much golf as this President does has enough time to prepare to be interrogated in any kind of situation before a grand jury. So I`m very sure that he would lose that one and he would look really bad.

And I think he is trying to just divert his recent episodes and this release about, you know, that Omarosa is lying and he`s trying to divert attention so he`s now taken away the security clearance for John Brennan To divert attention from Omarosa. He is scared and he has every reason to be scared because the evidence and the pieces of the puzzle are really fitting together.

O`DONNELL: Jill Wine-Banks and Jason Johnson, thank you very much for joining us.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: When we come back, was Donald Trump outsmarted by Omarosa? Fox & Friends think so. Yes, Fox & Friends, today said that Omarosa outsmarted their hero Donald Trump. And our last word tonight will be a look at one of the most beautiful and moving moments in Washington, D.C. history.


O`DONNELL: President Trump`s morning began as it always does, watching his favorite TV show where he was told that Omarosa has outsmarted him.


BRIAN KILMEADE, HOST, FOX & FRIENDS: In order to sell a book, she`s come out with a series of tapes, and in many ways seems to have outsmarted the President who has taken the bait and gone out and tweeted directly after it.


O`DONNELL: Imagine Donald Trump`s panic this morning when his friends at Fox & Friends declared Omarosa the winner in her battle with the President. Was that the moment that convinced Donald Trump that he had to change the story of the day? Is that why the President struck out at John Brennan today and removed his security clearance today? Something he could have done at any time?

The question of the day at the White House press briefing today was going to be about the President using the "N" word. Here`s NBC`s Kristen Welker just before the briefing started today.


KRISTEN WELKER, HOST, NBC: The other big question that we tried to get to in this briefing room yesterday is there in fact a tape in which President Trump when he was a citizen used the "N" word. Sara Sanders` saying that, look, she would refer us to the President`s statement in which she denies it, but then she hasn`t had a chance to ask him herself. Has she at that point, that`s one of the critical questions.


O`DONNELL: But the briefing was not filled with questions about the President`s racism because of the President`s dramatic announcement about removing Joh Brennan`s security clearance. And so is that the end of it or did Donald Trump simply get one day off from Omarosa`s accusations?

Omarosa is scheduled to be back on TV tomorrow. The story she has created has already transcended Omarosa and her book and is all about Donald Trump`s history of racism. When we come back after this break, listen to what Donald Trump said about being black in 1989.


O`DONNELL: We do not have a recording of Donald Trump saying the N word but we do have this video from 43-year-old Donald Trump in 1989.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have said on one occasion, even about myself, if I were starting off today, I would love to be a well- educated black because I really believe they do have an actual advantage today.


O`DONNELL: And joining our discussion now, Franklin Leonard, the film executive and founder of the "Blacklist" and Jason Johnson is back with us.

And Franklin Leonard, there`s Donald Trump in 1989 saying, "I would love to be a well-educated black because I really believe they do have an actual advantage today." Any hints of racism in that?

FRANKLIN LEONARD, FILM EXECUTIVE: I mean look, I said for several years now that when you are accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression but it is not. I think what`s remarkable about this is that we are not even talking about equality in any practical sense. We`re talking about the hence of the beginning of progress towards equality and yet in 1989 and still in 2018, you hear this sort of victimization narrative from the White House and also really animating the entire white supremacist movement in this country.

But look, I`m very happy to be where I would imagine Donald Trump would consider a well-educated black but there is no evidence to back up that claim. I think Dr. Sandy Darity did such an amazing work sort of disputing the myth that education solves the wealth gap in this country. Being a well-educated black, we`ll assume that he`s a college graduate. Roughly equates in terms of median income to being a high school dropout if you`re white.

I also think it`s notable that this quote, this interview came I believe it`s late 1989 which was roughly contemporaneous with Trump`s public comments about the Central Park five. So at the same time, he`s claiming he would rather be a well-educated black, he`s also calling for maximum punishment for black men who were innocent of a crime and we know that now.

O`DONNELL: Professor Jason Johnson, I think he was talking about you if I`m listening to him and Harvard graduate Franklin Leonard. But listen to what John O`Donnell who I`m not related to who works for Donald Trump what he wrote in his book called "Trumped", about Donald Trump and this is about Donald Trump`s own attitude towards educated black men working in his business.

There is a passage in the book where O`Donnell writes, quotes Trump saying, "Black guys counting my money, I hate it. I think that the guy is lazy and it`s probably not his fault because laziness is a trait in black." And so that`s how the black accountants were treated in one of Donald Trump`s casinos when he actually saw an educated black man working as an accountant.

JOHNSON: Yeah, imagine what he thinks of non-educated black people. I mean like I guess Omarosa or Ben Carson. Well, here`s a thing about Donald Trump, it`s not just that he`s a racist, right, that`s already a given, it`s that he`s even more racist than people that we know are racist.

He got sued by the Nixon administration for housing discrimination. I mean like Nixon came up with a sober (ph) strategy. You know, he picked Jeff Sessions to be his attorney general. Jeff Sessions was too racist for Republicans 30 years ago. I mean, you know, in his explanation that, "Well, I have not said this word or this ever". Look, at the end of the day, we don`t need a tape to know that Donald Trump is racist.

I was at the Unite the Right Rally in Washington, D.C. on Sunday. I didn`t hear anybody say the "N" word but I am pretty sure those guys are still racist. So the idea that he can hide or dance around this or that he makes some distinction between educated and non-educated black people is an absolute why.

O`DONNELL: And Franklin Leonard, a wise man of show business who worked with Donald Trump in the (INAUDIBLE) business knows him very well said to me today that there`s absolutely no doubt that Donald Trump pulled his move on John Brennan today to change the subject from Omarosa and make sure that the questions today were not about is there a recording of Donald Trump using the "N" word.

LEONARD: I mean, of course, he did. I mean this is a playbook we see time and time again. Something happens, we got to have a distraction. It`s fascinating that they have them on file now and ready to go, undated, ready to release and I am sure we`ll see it many more times.

O`DONNELL: Well, because of their incompetence, it actually was dated and it was dated July 26th. We actually see on the document that they have been sitting with this since July 26th, waiting for the day they needed to block something. And Franklin, it seems that Omarosa was what they need to block the most.

LEONARD: I mean look I think this is just typical of the incompetence of the administration on some level. I think I`m happy about it because it means that we actually find the opportunities that we need to find out. But just as the hiring of Omarosa indicates incompetence. The sort of trail that she left throughout the administration would indicate that as well. This is part of the course.

O`DONNELL: Franklin Leonard and Jason Johnson, thank you both for joining us tonight.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

LEONARD: Thanks for having me.

O`DONNELL: And when we come back, a special last word and that word is Aretha.


O`DONNELL: Aretha Franklin has had 76 birthdays including the day she was born. I had the honor of attending her 2015 birthday party where she was surrounded by family and friends. Aretha told me she`s been keeping an eye on me, meaning she`s been watching this show. And I hope she`s watching tonight.

We have all been thinking of Aretha this week with her family reporting that she has been struggling with her health. And so I know that everyone watching right now and hundreds of millions of people around the world is joining me in sending me our love to Aretha tonight.



O`DONNELL: Aretha Franklin gets tonight`s last word. The "11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS" starts now.


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