Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: August 23, 2018 Guest: Bret Stephens, Michael Avenatti
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
I wanted you to do another minute on the hurricane, so I could speed read this story in "The New York Times" --
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": Yes.
O`DONNELL: -- about a Manhattan D.A. with the criminal charges against the Trump Organization. It is all there, Rachel, as you know, in what the federal prosecutors released on Tuesday. It says in their documents that the Trump Organization paid $420,000 to Michael Cohen, which was money for the Stormy Daniels payout, and that Michael Cohen had sent them invoices monthly, $35,000 a month saying legal fees.
O`DONNELL: Now, that`s a company that is deducting from its taxes legal fees, and they are fraudulently labeled legal fees. You cannot deduct payments to the girlfriends. Those cannot be deducted. And it`s tough in a company like the Trump Organization. But you can`t.
MADDOW: That`s actually the funnest day of tax law school.
MADDOW: When you find out what you can do with the payments to the girl friends and what you can`t do. I mean, they are in trouble here because it wasn`t legal fees. It was payments to the girlfriends. And if they were deducted -- if they weren`t deducting it, if they weren`t taking it off their taxes, that implies they knew it wasn`t legal fees, in which case that`s a problem, because they knew they were responding to phony invoices.
But if they were deducting it as legal fees, if they were putting it on their taxes, then as you say, that`s tax fraud. I mean, this is not a good way to run a bid business either way.
O`DONNELL: You know what would help here? Donald Trump`s tax returns and his company tax returns.
O`DONNELL: That would really help.
MADDOW: You know, the Manhattan D.A. going after the Trump Organization as an entity potentially raises questions about the availability of those tax returns. But also the other piece that is imbedded in that story that doesn`t make the headline, what I think is maybe potentially a bigger deal is that the New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood is also reportedly seeking a criminal referral for Michael Cohen with regard to his taxes at the state level, his state taxes.
That`s how Barbara Underwood was able to flip Gene Freidman, the taxi king, which gave us, I think, basically most of the criminal charges against Michael Cohen already this week. If she is going to put the same kind of squeeze on Cohen at the state level, I mean, nothing about what he pled to at federal court is going to prevent that and that`s going to be a whole new level of hell for him, and a whole new level of prospects for prosecutors.
O`DONNELL: And as you have been pointing out this week, Donald Trump can`t pardon his way out of New York state charges with any of these people, including himself.
MADDOW: Exactly, exactly.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Well, here is something you have never heard a president say before: if I ever got impeached.
The word impeach has not crossed the minds of most presidents. There is no reason to even mention the word during most presidencies, and there has been much media debate this year about whether it is too soon to discuss impeachment in the Trump presidency. That debate ended today when the president of the United States discussed his own impeachment when he was asked about it on Fox News.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AINSLEY EARHARDT, FOX NEWS HOST: Seventy-six days away from the midterms. Hard to believe. If the Democrats take back power, do you believe they will try to impeach you?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, you know, I guess it says something like high crimes and all -- I don`t know how you can impeach somebody who`s done a great job. I`ll tell you what, if I ever got impeached, I think the market would crash. I think everybody would be very poor because without this thinking you would see -- you would see numbers that you wouldn`t believe in reverse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Without this thinking, we never would have heard the president of the United States say if I ever got impeached. And right there, right there, stop right there because I think right there are two definite song titles. In the musical about the Trump presidency that will be written by Lin-Manuel Miranda`s great great-daughter some time the road, the "without this thinking", that`s going to be one song title. We know that. And, of course, the melodic, "if I ever got impeached" has to be a song title in the Trump musical.
Fox News and the president have decisively ended the debate on whether it`s too soon to be discussing impeachment. On Tuesday night on this program, I realized that we had shifted from investigation coverage to impeachment coverage after federal prosecutors and Michael Cohen made history by declaring under oath in federal court in Manhattan that the president of the United States had committed two federal crimes for the principal purpose of influencing the election.
But as we discussed here last night, Donald Trump was not the only person in addition to Michael Cohen who was accused of committing federal times in that courtroom on Tuesday. Prosecutors said that still unnamed members of the Trump campaign participated actively in those crimes and new everything about those crimes and that David Pecker, the chairman and CEO of the company that runs the "National Enquirer" and the top editor of the "National Enquirer", Dylan Howard, also were very important participants in the conspiracy to commit those crimes.
Last night at the beginning of this program, we wondered whether David Pecker might already be cooperating with federal prosecutors, and about 10 minutes later, we delivered the breaking news that David Pecker was indeed reportedly cooperating with federal prosecutors. That`s what we knew last night. And today, we discovered that David Pecker has already been granted immunity in his cooperation agreement with federal prosecutors, along with Dylan Howard.
And as the day wore on, we learned more about what David Pecker knows and what he might possess. "The Associated Press" is confirming they kept a safe on hush money payments and other damaging stories that killed as part of its cozy relationship with Donald Trump, leading up to the 2016 presidential election. People familiar with the arrangement told "The Associated Press".
Dylan Howard removed them from the safe in the weeks before Trump`s inauguration, according to one person directly familiar with the events. It was unclear whether the documents were destroyed or simply were moved to a location known to fewer people.
Here is who knows what was in that safe: David Pecker, Dylan Howard, Michael Cohen, and Donald Trump. With today`s reporting, the president might have more trouble sleeping tonight than he did last night. The president has to somehow fall asleep knowing that David Pecker is telling federal prosecutors everything he knows about Donald Trump. And he has been collecting the dirt on Donald Trump for years and years and years and stashing it in the "National Enquirer`s" safe.
And that dirt might include recordings. Prosecutors said that the evidence they have obtained to prove that Michael Cohen and Donald Trump and David Pecker conspired to commit federal crimes includes hard copy documents, seized electronic devices and audio recordings made by Mr. Cohen and "The New York Times" is reporting the prosecutors might now have even more recordings from the "National Enquirer."
Dylan Howard, the company`s chief content officer, who is also said to be cooperating, was known to have a recording device in his office, according to people familiar with his operations. And so, "The National Enquirer" after many years of protecting Donald Trump, is now helping a federal criminal investigation of Donald Trump. In other words, David Pecker and the "National Enquirer" have flipped.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: This whole thing about flipping, they call it, I know all about flipping for that 30, 40 years I have been watching flippers. Everything is wonderful and then they get 10 years in jail and they flip on whoever the next highest one is or as high as you can go. It almost ought to be outlawed.
I have had many friends involved in this stuff. It is called flipping and it almost ought to be illegal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: He knows David Pecker has flipped and he knows what David Pecker knows about him. And last night at 1:10 a.m., the sleepless president tweeted this primal scream: No collusion. Rigged witch hunt! All capital letters.
There is the president of the United States, three hours after we first reported on this program that David Pecker had flipped and the president is raged, tweeting no collusion, rigged witch hunt.
When the special prosecutor was closing in on President Richard Nixon, he wandered the halls of the White House at all hours of the night in the mixture of anger, depression, bitterness and drunken stupor. But he didn`t have Twitter. And so, we didn`t know the next day what he had been thinking at 1:10 a.m.
Tonight is going to be worse, because tonight Donald Trump knows not only that David Pecker is cooperating but that he`s been granted immunity and now there is more New York prosecution -- investigation going on of the president that might lead to New York City and New York state prosecutions. And the president knows that his power of persuasion over even his own voters doesn`t work when they take an oath as jurors.
The president discovered last night watching Fox News that Paula Duncan, who is a proud Trump voter, is also one of the jurors who voted to convict Paul Manafort on all 18 counts. She also revealed that all of the rest of the jurors wanted to convict Paul Manafort on all 18 counts except for one holdout juror. There`s exactly one holdout on those 10 counts. And that`s the reason Paul Manafort was convicted on eight counts and there was a hung jury on the other ten.
And President Trump should by now know that Paul Manafort`s likelihood of pleading guilty to charges he`s scheduled to go on trial on in Washington, D.C. next month skyrocketed after that Fox News interview with that juror in Manafort`s Virginia case because it is possible that a Washington, D.C. jury won`t have even a single Trump voter on it. Donald Trump got 4 percent of the vote in Washington, D.C.
So, if Paul Manafort goes to trial in Washington, D.C., he`s not going to have a jury more sympathetic to him and Donald Trump than he had in Virginia this week. And Paul Manafort has now discovered that even a hard core supporter of Donald Trump was overwhelmed with the evidence of Paul Manafort`s guilt. And she had no problem voting guilty on every count.
In his Fox News interview, Donald Trump praised Paul Manafort for not flipping and said he has, quote, great respect. Great respect for Paul Manafort.
And Rudy Giuliani delivered the hope of a pardon today to convicted felon Paul Manafort in an interview with "The Washington Post". At 5:00 p.m. today, "The Washington Post" reported, quote: President Trump asked his lawyers several weeks ago for their advice on the possibility of pardoning Paul Manafort and other aides accused of crimes. His lawyers said Thursday the subject of pardoning Manafort came as Trump`s former campaign chairman faced multiple charges of bank fraud and tax evasion.
In an Alexandria criminal case, Trump attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani said in an interview, Trump`s lawyers counseled the president against the idea of pardoning anyone linked to the investigation to Russia`s interference in the 2016 election. According to Giuliani, saying Trump should at least wait until special counsel Robert S. Mueller, III has concluded his probe. Giuliani said the president agreed and did not push the issue further.
So there is Manafort`s almost promise of a pardon at the end of the investigation. And on the same day that the president discussed his own impeachment, he once again attacked his own attorney general.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I put in an attorney general that never took control of the Justice Department, Jeff Sessions. Never took control of the Justice Department.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And so, the president who began his presidency by asking FBI Director James Comey to drop the investigation of Donald Trump`s national security adviser Michael Flynn lying to the FBI and then fired James Comey after James Comey refused to drop that investigation, the president who has spent the better part of two years now publicly attacking the FBI, including individual FBI agents, the president who has spent two years attacking the Department of Justice, the president who has attacked the deputy attorney general who he appointed, Rod Rosenstein, for not stopping an investigation into this presidency, the president who attacks every federal prosecutor assigned to Robert Mueller`s investigation of the president and has repeatedly lied about and attacked Robert Mueller himself, that same person once again today attacked his own attorney general, a former senator who was enthusiastically supported in his confirmation by every Republican senator.
And so, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham just could not take it anymore and said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THEN-CONGRESSMAN LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: We believe he assaulted our legal system in every way. Let it be said that any president who cheats our institutions shall be impeached.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: No, that wasn`t today. That was Congressman Lindsey Graham explaining why he voted to impeach President Bill Clinton.
Today, after the president of the United States once again threatened the rule of law in this country and attacked and insulted Lindsey Graham`s dear friend, the attorney general of the United States, Senator Lindsey Graham could not remember the words that Congressman Lindsey Graham said on that historic day on the House floor and instead, Lindsey Graham said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRAHAM: The president`s entitled to an attorney general he has faith in, somebody that`s qualified for the job. And I think there will come a time sooner rather than later where it will be time to have a new face and a fresh voice at the Department of Justice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And there you just witnessed the collapse of a political civilization.
The president is entitled to an attorney general he has faith in. Lindsey Graham actually said that on the same day that the president said that the standard prosecutorial tool that all attorneys general have used, flipping witnesses, should be illegal. Lindsey Graham said the president is entitled to an attorney general he has faith in and Lindsey Graham knows the only attorney general this president of the United States would have faith in is an attorney general who will always protect the president of the United States, which now means protect the president from his friends, Michael Cohen and David Pecker, the friends who federal prosecutors and New York City say colluded to commit crimes with the president of the United States to effect an election.
Joining our discussion now, Jill Wine-Banks, former assistant Watergate special prosecutor, Bret Stephens, columnist for "The New York Times", and Eugene Robinson, an associate editor and Pulitzer Prize-winning opinion writer for "The Washington Post". All three are now MSNBC contributors.
And, Jill, I wanted to get your reaction to what we saw here today in terms of the president actually once again going after the attorney general and the weakness we are seeing in the Republicans in the Senate very publically now talking about the possibility of replacing Jeff Sessions.
JILL WINE-BANKS, FORMER ASSISTANT WATERGATE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: It is appalling, of course, to hear this kind of conversation. The president once again is really obstructing justice in plain sight. His tweets are constantly attacking our systems, our institutions of justice and are having an effect. We saw that in the Manafort trial. The juror who is a big supporter of his said this is a witch hunt, but the evidence is there.
So, on the one hand, it shows that a jury will convict because they pay attention to the actual evidence, but it also shows how much influence he`s had in undermining the Mueller investigation and the Department of Justice, the FBI and that has an effect that we should not be tolerating. This is just totally wrong and we should stop the president from being able to do this.
O`DONNELL: Gene, when it rains, it ours, especially when you are talking about criminal tax investigations and financial shenanigans in big companies. The breaking news at the beginning of this hour that New York state now, the district attorney in New York City, looking at exactly what happened in the Trump company in the payoff to Stormy Daniels.
EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST: Right. And guess what, Lawrence? If you start turning over rocks at the Trump organization, you are going to find all sorts of awful, nasty things down there. It -- you know, there is a continuum here that the Trump Organization from the campaign, the Trump White House, it is kind of a long running, continuing criminal enterprise in the sense of cutting corners, not following rules, not following laws, and so, it`s really no surprise that state and municipal authorities are going to look at the organization and wait until they get -- start talking to Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer and accountant.
There is no accountant-client privilege to be respected. And he knows where all the bodies are buried. So, this is big trouble. If I might just, two things that really jumped out at me today. One was Lindsey Graham saying Trump is entitled to the attorney general of his liking. Well, what he wants is an attorney general who is corrupt and he`s not entitled to that.
And the illustration of what he wants, he got from Rudy Giuliani with that hint, that message, that he sent to Paul Manafort. Just wait. Just wait. Stick it out and you are going to get a pardon. I mean, it couldn`t have been clearer.
O`DONNELL: Bret, what has happened to Lindsey Graham in the 19 years between the two videos that we just showed?
BRET STEPHENS, OP-ED COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, you had a Democratic president in `98 and you have a Republican president today. It seems to me that obvious and that nakedly partisan. You know, one of the things that I observed, I really cut my teeth as a journalist in the late 1990s on, the Clinton impeachment saga is almost precisely the same standards that Republicans and conservatives used against President Clinton would apply both legally as well as morally to President Trump.
You remember that book by William Bennett, "The Death of Outrage." where is the outrage against this president? We`re talking about Clinton, his depredations against him in his office, his twisting of the law. You know, when I heard Rudy Giuliani say, you know, truth isn`t truth, I recalled Clinton`s famous line about, you know, it depends on what "is" is. You know, that kind of sophistical, the sophistical use of language.
The difference is, of course, that now you have a Republican president, a very pliant Congress the same standards that used against Clinton. But all I would say to my conservative friends, especially those I`ve known since back in the days, just use the same standards you applied with President Clinton and ask yourself, how do they not apply exactly, in fact, with much greater force against President Trump morally and legally?
O`DONNELL: Yes. That`s -- Jill, that`s why I have been playing these Republican senators this week, Lindsey Graham we heard Orrin Hatch last night. We`re going to have more from Chuck Grassley, all of whom voted to remove Bill Clinton from the presidency and for less cause than what we`ve seen this week in the accusations in federal court, which none of them at this point seem particularly curious about. A real quiet reaction from Republican senators, Republican congressmen from what they learned in federal court from Michael Cohen on Tuesday.
WINE-BANKS: What they heard Michael Cohen say should have been what Brennan calls the red light flashing because it really was a dramatic moment in our history when you heard a defendant pleading guilty and saying, I was doing this at the direction of the president or who was then the candidate Donald Trump. He named him, basically, as an unindicted conspirator in his crime. Now the best the Trump administration can do is to say, well, it is not really a crime. So crime is not illegal anymore. Truth isn`t truth.
And I just don`t get where the Goldwaters are from the Senate now. Who is a congressman who is a Republican with any spine or any decency? Someone that will tell the truth and recognize this is just not good for our country. We have to do something to stop it. And the Republicans are just sitting on their hands and ignoring it and allowing him to get away with it.
O`DONNELL: I want to show a banner that was on Fox News earlier tonight. I rarely do this, but this one is too perfect. It was talking about -- you see? It is the left`s new obsession with impeachment.
Now, this is the left`s obsession. And this is on Fox News. And Fox News employs the only reporter who has asked the president of the United States about impeachment, and that happened this very day on Fox News. And, so, the Fox News reporter and the president of the United States discussing impeachment on Fox News.
But, Gene, Fox News is accusing the rest of the world with some kind of obsession.
ROBINSON: Yes, yes. I mean, there is -- you know. But I miss irony. I liked it when irony existed. But irony is so dead. It`s quite amazing.
Of course, that is -- you know, the president has raised the issue, in fact, at rallies. He is essentially trying to whip up enthusiasm among the base by saying, look, they`re going to impeach me, they`re going to impeach me. You`ve got to come save me.
The way he did it today in that interview was truly bizarre when he got to, you know, this thinking. It was -- we were -- I was thinking, you know, Nixon wandering the halls in some sort of altered reality. It was quite weird.
O`DONNELL: Jeff Sessions issued a statement today basically in response to the president saying, while I am attorney general, the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations. I demand the highest standards and where they are not met, I take action. However, no nation has a more talented, more dedicated group of law enforcement and investigators and prosecutors than the United States.
Bret Stephens, that sounds like the kind of thing the president of the United States used to say before this presidency.
STEPHENS: Yes. But we have a presidency in which Donald Trump seems to expect kind of Kim Jong-un style, you know, the field notation guys or the applause that Putin enjoys.
I have to say I own the world`s smallest violin, which I would gladly donate for the sake of Jeff Sessions because he has, in fact, been nothing but loyal. And he`s been taking it from the president for at least a year. I think it was the summer of 2017 when Donald Trump first unloaded on him in public. It stuns me that the man didn`t have the self-respect then and there to walk into the Oval Office, offer his resignation, walk out and say, get the walk.
O`DONNELL: There is one report that he did and they chased him out to the car. Reince Priebus chased him to the car and had to talk him into staying on. So, that --
STEPHENS: Well, he did stay on. He wants to keep his job in order to separate families, his higher calling is to separate families at the border.
But what the president wants is not loyalty. That`s not the word he`s looking for. He wants cravenness. And I think that effectively is what happens to even who goes to work in the administration. They either turn into a toadie or they forced to, quote, betray the president.
O`DONNELL: Bret Stephens, Gene Robinson, Jill Wine-Banks, thank you for starting us off tonight. I appreciate it.
When we come back, Michael Avenatti is here. He believes he will get President Trump under oath before Robert Mueller does. He will tell you why now that Michael Cohen has pleaded guilty he believes the door is open. Michael Avenatti will join us next.
O`DONNELL: We have breaking news at this hour, expressed in this headline in "The New York Times" tonight. Manhattan D.A. eyes criminal charges against the Trump Organization.
This is because of the revelations Tuesday in federal court that Michael Cohen was paid $420,000 in legal fees, what was labeled legal fees by the Trump organization to cover for the payment of hush money to Stormy Daniels. Legal fees, of course, being tax deductible to a business if the business did deduct those, that would be a criminal tax violation, and there are other business records violations that are particular to New York state law if the business included fraudulent entries in their bookkeeping about those payments.
We are joined now by Michael Avenatti, the attorney for Stormy Daniels.
And, Michael, once again tonight, we have this "New York Times" report of a new criminal legal investigation of Donald Trump and Donald Trump`s business because of the payments to Stormy Daniels that you have helped make public.
MIHCAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS` LAWYER: Well, you know, Lawrence, what would we do without all of, quote, this thinking, close quote, to quote the president`s interview. I mean, it`s truly amazing. When I think about the great philosophers, I think about Socrates and Plato and obviously Donald Trump.
I mean, there is no question he goes with the other two. What is amazing, Lawrence, is, quote, this thinking, close quote, is ultimately going to be the downfall of this president. This is crumbling around him, this criminal enterprise that he led for so many years, the people that he surrounded himself with, the actions that they undertook. All of this is unraveling at a breakneck pace, and it`s only going to get quicker. It is only going to get faster in the coming weeks and months in my view.
O`DONNELL: Now, the discovery in your civil lawsuit against Donald Trump and Michael Cohen was stopped by the judge pending the outcome of the criminal case involving Michael Cohen. It`s your position now that that case is complete and you are going to now ask the judge to go forward with your discovery, which is to say go forward with issuing a subpoena for a deposition to the president of the United States. What is going to happen next?
AVENATTI: Well, you are absolutely right. On September 10th, we will have a hearing in Los Angeles, and I`m going to demand that the case be restarted or allowed to proceed. I want to take a deposition of Michael Cohen under oath. I then want to proceed forth with a deposition of Donald Trump under oath and I want to ask them the questions that all of us want to know the answers to.
Namely, what was the flow of the money? What did the president know? What did he communicate with Michael Cohen about? How did they handle the funneling of the money? How was it decided it would be $430,000? The president is going to have a lot of explaining to do, Lawrence, and I have taken a lot of depositions in my career, but I will tell you I am counting the days to this deposition. We might even use that Air Force One video and ask him to explain those comments in light of what we know now to be the facts.
O`DONNELL: And based on the court`s ruling in Bill Clinton`s dealing with a similar civil subpoena in a civil lawsuit involving Paula Jones, the precedent is that the courts do require the president to submit to a deposition like this.
AVENATTI. You`re absolutely right. We have solid precedent from the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Jones v. Clinton. We all know what that resulted in. I don`t think the president is going to have a leg to stand on relating to attempting to avoid this deposition. I think there is little question. We`re going to get Michael Cohen`s deposition in light of the plea that he entered two days ago in New York.
And I think that we have only scratched the surface relating to the amount of evidence and the facts that are going to come to light as to what really happened here and what Michael Cohen, what information he conveyed to the president and what the president conveyed to Michael Cohen.
O`DONNELL: Michael Avenatti, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Appreciate it.
AVENATTI: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, more Republicans struggled to sit today with what to say about what has happened this week involving the president and Attorney General Jeff Sessions and everything else that Donald Trump has thrown their way. They are responding in ways they have never responded before. It is a very different response to the way they responded to the investigation of President Bill Clinton.
Dan Rather covered the investigation of Bill Clinton. For CBS News, Dan Rather will join us.
O`DONNELL: Today in response to the president`s latest attack on his own attorney general, Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee who guided Jeff Sessions` confirmation through his committee said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY, IOWA: I do have time for hearings on nominees that the president might send up here that I didn`t have last year.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: So there is Chuck Grassley, welcoming a new nomination for attorney general Chuck Grassley. No problem with president trump getting rid of Chuck Grassley`s dear friend Jeff Sessions and replacing him with an attorney general who will protect the president and stop the Mueller investigation over the president.
Senator Chuck Grassley is one of the current Republican Senators who voted to convict Bill Clinton in his impeachment trial in the Senate and remove him from office. And here is what Senator Grassley said then about why President Bill Clinton had to be removed from office.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRASSLEY: I was brought up in an era and I hope we still have that era today that presidents tell the truth. George Washington didn`t lie. Whether that`s true or not, I don`t know, but that`s the way I was led to believe that public officials ought to set a standard, a very high standard. And telling the truth obviously is the easiest thing a public official can do because if you tell the truth, you never have to worry about what you told somebody else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now, Dan Rather, former anchor of "CBS Evening News" and the current president of News and Guts and host of AXS TV`s "The Big Interview".
Dan, what happened in the last 19 years to Chuck Grassley?
DAN RATHER, PRESIDENT, NEWS AND GUTS: Interesting question. You could say the same about Lindsey Graham. Lindsey Graham during the time President Clinton was being impeached said the American presidency has to be about honor and integrity, honor and integrity. I ask any reasonable person to consider whether what we`re seeing and hearing out of the White House now and have been hearing and seeing for quite some time meets the standard of honor and integrity.
O`DONNELL: And here is Chuck Grassley citing the idea that George Washington never told a lie, and therefore, there is the standard that presidents have to live by. There is not a single senator now in the Senate who voted for the removal of Bill Clinton from office, who has said one thing this week objecting to anything they learned about Donald Trump in Federal court on Tuesday when Michael Cohen pled guilty.
RATHER: And that`s the reason we should not underestimate Donald Trump going forward. He`s not a knockdown these last 48 to 60 hours. We`re now about to find out what in boxing they call a fighter. While it may be unpleasant for some people, I ask that they be reminded that some 89 percent of people who call themselves Republican still stand behind Donald Trump.
And as long as he has the Senate in Republican hands, my own opinion clearly labeled is, the Republicans won`t even consider breaking away from Donald Trump until and unless he tries to fire Robert Mueller. That might do it. But all this talk about impeachment, Lawrence, which is inevitable given what`s been going on.
I think it is very clear that as long as the Republicans have control of the Senate and as long as in the fact they have control of the Supreme Court is going to be very, very difficult to get impeachment now.
A lot is going on with Mueller we don`t know about and down the road, things could change dramatically. But it is a little premature to bury the Trump presidency. We have all made mistakes of underestimating him in the past. I don`t intend to make that mistake again.
O`DONNELL: The thing we don`t know is what the state of the evidence is going to be next month or even next week.
RATHER: Or even tomorrow.
O`DONNELL: We have evidence this week that we did not know about last week.
RATHER: A lot.
O`DONNELL: And we don`t know where it`s going to come from. We knew eventually we were going to get something from Michael Cohen. But even in the Michael Cohen pleadings that the prosecutors put into court, it identified other unnamed members, members of the Trump campaign who participated in those crimes. And so we don`t know just how many smoking guns the Republicans might have to be juggling next year.
RATHER: Or even next week, the way things are going. But here`s where we are, I think that what the country needs is a few, it will only take a few Republican Senators who prefer to draw profiles and courage and break away from this see no evil, hear no evil, I don`t want to talk about it kind of thing and speak up. As Senator Barry Goldwater and Senator Howard Baker among others did with Richard Nixon, as you know, they finally came to him and said we, Republicans are going to vote you out of office if you don`t resign.
A question that sort of hangs out there, Lawrence, is what conversations, if any, Donald Trump has had or will have with members of his family, his sons, his daughters, his wife when this noose gets tighter and tighter. Somewhere down the road, if he hasn`t already, he`s got to have that conversation with his family.
O`DONNELL: And those conversations conceivably to be had with Mike Pence at some point in time when we went through this in the Nixon presidency, it was the vice-president ascended to the presidency. A month after the president`s resignation, the vice president delivered a pardon to the president of the United States that enabled Richard Nixon to go on and live life as a free, young, troubled man.
RATHER: Well, I wouldn`t rule it out as a possibility in this case.
O`DONNELL: And the stories that we`re seeing tonight, this breaking news tonight that New York State prosecutors now are investigating what the Federal prosecutors revealed in Federal court on Tuesday. This is the kind of thing that with your experience, you knew was coming, but it certainly seems like it`s not the kind of thing that the Trump White House understood was possible in the avalanche of investigation upon investigation.
RATHER: Well, it`s always hard to tell from the outside but on the evidence available, I would say you`re right. If those inside the White House either were not aware or underestimated the movement of state courts. And by the way, tonight as you know, the times has its story that Manhattan District Attorney is also looking into this.
And important to note, in those cases, the idea that you can`t indict a president may not apply. But the more important thing is that he can`t pardon anybody.
RATHER: But this thing is opening up with the head of the "National Enquirer," Mr. Pecker, turning against Donald Trump by saying that he`s going to go states evidence. I wouldn`t underestimate that because Pecker knows a lot.
O`DONNELL: Yes. Dan Rather, thank you very much.
RATHER: Thanks for having me.
O`DONNELL: Really appreciate it.
When we come back, Jill Wine-Banks will join us and we`ll consider what we learned from the one juror in the Manafort case who has publically discussed the deliberations.
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FEMALE: You are President Trump`s supporter?
FEMALE: I am, very much so.
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O`DONNELL: That is Paula Duncan, the first Paul Manafort juror to speak publically. She voted for Donald Trump for president enthusiastically and she voted guilty on all 18 counts against Paul Manafort. She obviously took her oath as a juror very seriously and she considered the evidence very seriously. She explained why the Jury could not come to an agreement on all 18 counts.
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SHANNON BREAM, HOST, FOX NEWS: How close, I want to know, did this Jury come to convicting Paul Manafort on all 18 counts?
PAULA DUNCAN, MANAFORT JUROR: By one. There was one hold-out.
BREAM: So you all agreed on the 8 counts, the 10 others, there was one person who kept you from making that next step?
DUNCAN: That is correct, yes.
BREAM: What was their reasoning, if they shared it with you?
DUNCAN: Reasonable doubt. The person, a female juror, was -- we all tried to convince her to look at the paper trail. We laid it out in front of her again and again and she still said that she had a reasonable doubt and that`s the way the jury worked. We didn`t want it to be hung so we tried for an extended period of time to convince her, but in the end, she held out and that`s why we have 10 counts that did not get a verdict.
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O`DONNELL: After this break, Jill Wine-Banks will consider whether President Trump`s tweet about Paul Manafort during the trial might have affected that one hold-out juror and will consider what that interview we just heard with that juror means for Paul Manafort`s next jury in his next trial.
O`DONNELL: During Paul Manafort`s trial, President Trump tweeted this. "Paul Manafort worked for Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole and many other highly prominent and respected political leaders. He worked for me for a very short time. Why didn`t the government tell me that he was under investigation? These old charges have nothing to do with collusion, a hoax."
Jill Wine-Banks is back with us. And Jill, we`ve never seen a president of the United States make comments like that during a criminal trial. And when you listen to Paula Duncan, tell us about that one hold-out on the jury. You have a right to wonder was that hold-out juror or the other jurors, for that matter, were they exposed to this kind of information, this kind of tweet? Did it make their deliberations more difficult?
JILL WINE-BANKS, FORMER WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: Well, you may remember, Lawrence that I said on your show that I thought that his tweet was jury tampering. So I definitely think it could have affected a non-sequestered Jury. They may have been exposed to that not deliberately, but with social media being what it is, it`s almost hard to avoid. But I would add that I think that the judge`s comments were equally devastating and could have caused a hung Jury.
The judge was so far beyond what is appropriate for a judge. If he had made the same kind of comments he made about the prosecution, if he had made that about the defense, it would have been reversible error for sure. His comment to Rick Gates that Mr. Manafort couldn`t have been paying very close attention if you were able to steal so much money from him, that`s really devastating to the prosecution, and he made many other comments and that worried me from the very first moment that the judge started making comments against the prosecution.
So it could have been either one of those things that influenced the juror or it could have just been that he - she, I guess it was a female juror, was really loyal. But mostly, I have great faith in juries. They take very seriously their obligation. They pay attention to the evidence. They make decisions based on the evidence.
You heard Ms. Duncan say she`s a loyal Trump voter and she will vote for him again, she said. But she saw the evidence and knew that Manafort was guilty. So 11 jurors would have convicted on 18 counts. That has to affect how Mr. Manafort is thinking.
O`DONNELL: Yes, it doesn`t look like it`s going to be easier for him in the D.C. prosecution. Jill Wine-Banks, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
Tonight`s last word is next.
O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s last word.
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CONAN O`BRIEN, HOST: Yes, that`s what I`ve heard. He just watches "Fox & Friends," and that gave me an idea. I want to do just a quick experiment, OK? Billy, do me a favor, could you roll the "Fox & Friends" graphic, please? OK. Now maybe, maybe if he`s flipping around and he just saw that, maybe President Trump might watch our show.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look, that`s kind of pathetic. You think that showing a cheap graphic is enough to get the president to watch this show.
DONALD TRUMP: It`s Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Conan O`Brien gets tonight`s last word. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts right now.