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Trump finance chief granted immunity. TRANSCRIPT: 08/24/2018. The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell

Guests: David Frum

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: August 28, 2018 Guest: David Frum


And it seems that the pollsters only get surprised by the strength of insurgencies. It`s never a surprise that the establishment candidate, and no matter what year we`re talking about, turns out to be stronger than we thought. It -- that`s never the thing they miss.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": Well, prognostication is often based, you know, on poll numbers and stuff, but they also, you know, you look for endorsements, you look for money, you look for the professionalism of the campaign, you look for ads. You know, if you`re prognosticating in an old school fashion, you add up all this stuff that tends to be a sort of oblique measurement of establishment support.

And so, when establishment candidates don`t do well, it does usually blindside everybody. But I mean, this year with the kind of politics that we`ve got right now actually in both the Democratic and Republican parties, I think prognostication is a very dangerous business to be in in general.

O`DONNELL: Well, it is as you mentioned, Steve Kornacki night in America. I know a lot of people think of it as primary night. But it`s Steve Kornacki night in America.

And one of the things I`ve notice about Steve Kornacki night in America, Rachel, is the later we go, the more excited he gets. Unlike the rest of the human race with fatigue. You can actually see it set in the later you go.


O`DONNELL: So, Steve Kornacki`s going to be on this show, and it`s later than his appearance on your show. OK? So I`m going to get later night Steve Kornacki.

MADDOW: A, Steve gets more excited as the night goes on. And B, more exciting stuff keeps happening.

O`DONNELL: That must be it.

MADDOW: So, it`s pretty explosive. I know. Lucky you. Thanks, Lawrence.

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

Well, polls closed just moments ago, just at the top of this hour, in Arizona, where we are watching the Democratic and Republican primary there for the Senate seat currently occupied by Jeff Flake who`s not running for re-election. The first person Donald Trump pardoned, former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, is running for that Senate seat in Arizona.

And MSNBC`s Steve Kornacki is of course watching that vote closely in Arizona as well as the other primary states tonight. He`ll bring us the results as soon as we have more to report.

But first, we have breaking news tonight from the "Washington Post" saying that President Trump has, quote, privately revived the idea of firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions. According to, quote, three people familiar with the discussions.

The fix is in. That`s what retiring Republican Senator Bob Corker told the "Washington post" tonight. Senator Corker said, my sense is the fix is in. Senator Corker expects Jeff Sessions to be fired after the midterm election. Quote: They`d do it before but they`re worried about the effect it would have on the midterms themselves, he said in an interview. Adding: it`s about the investigation and I think the Mueller investigation ought to go on unimpeded.

"The Washington Post" reports: at least twice this month, Trump vented to White House advisers and his lawyers about his frustration at the endless investigation of his campaign and declared that he needs to fire Sessions for saddling his presidency with the controversy. One such discussion occurred in early August during the trial of his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

On August 1st, the second day of the trial, Trump tweeted that Sessions should shut down the special counsel probe. In subsequent talks with his lawyers and advisers, Trump said what he really wanted to do was fire Sessions, the people said.

Those same three unnamed people who leaked all of that information to the "Washington Post" also told "The Post" that the president`s criminal defense lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Jay Sekulow, quote, advised him that Mueller could interpret such an action as an effort to obstruct justice and thwart the investigation. Rudy Giuliani told the "Washington Post," quote, if there is any action taken, the president agrees with us that it shouldn`t be taken until after the investigation is concluded.

But just last week after the Paul Manafort guilty verdicts, the president seemed very eager to get rid of his attorney general.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When everybody sees what`s going on in the Justice Department -- I always put justice now with quotes. It`s a very, very sad day. Jeff Sessions recused himself, which he shouldn`t have done. Or he should have told me. Even my enemies say that Jeff Sessions should have told you that he was going to recuse himself and then you wouldn`t have put him in.

He took the job and then he said I`m going to recuse myself. I said, what kind of a man is this?


O`DONNELL: What kind of a man would go from saying if Jeff Sessions is fired there will be holy hell to pay to saying the president deserves an attorney general who will do whatever he wants? This kind of man.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: This effort to basically marginalize and humiliate the attorney general is not going over well in the Senate. If Jeff Sessions is fired, there will be holy hell to pay.

The president`s entitled to an attorney general he has faith in.

We need an attorney general that can work with the president, that can lead the Department of Justice. This relationship is beyond repair I think.


O`DONNELL: Senator Lindsey Graham personifies the collapse of support for Jeff Sessions among Republican senators. Republican Richard Shelby, the senior senator from Alabama who was Jeff Sessions` partner in the Senate representing Alabama before Jeff Sessions became attorney general, publicly turned on Jeff Sessions today, saying, nothing lasts forever and that the president and attorney general have a, quote, toxic relationship.

Jeff Sessions` strongest supporter in the Senate is the most powerful senator, Mitch McConnell.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: I have total confidence in the attorney general. I think he ought to stay exactly where he is.


O`DONNELL: "The Wall Street Journal" is reporting tonight that five Republican senators had a private breakfast with Jeff Sessions last week in the attorney general`s personal dining room at the Justice Department headquarters and they all urged him, quote, to resist any pressure to quit following criticism from President Trump and to stay in the job at least through the midterm elections.

So just a couple of months` worth of encouragement there. The senators reportedly urging Jeff Sessions to remain on the job through the November elections. So, just a couple of months worth of encourage them.

The senators reportedly urging Jeff Sessions to remain on the job through the November elections were Jon Cornyn of Texas, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and John Kennedy of Louisiana. If Donald Trump does replace Jeff Sessions, his new attorney general would immediately be able to control Robert Mueller`s investigation and possibly much more importantly, the new attorney general would be able to decide what would happen to Robert Mueller`s written report when his investigation is complete.

The attorney general could immediately send that report to Congress as evidence supporting the impeachment of the president or the new attorney general could lock that report in a Justice Department safe and never allow one word of it to become public.

Leading off our discussion now Matt Miller, former spokesperson for the Attorney General Eric Holder and MSNBC contributor. David Frum, senior editor for "The Atlantic" and author of "Trumpocracy." and Maya Wiley, former counsel to the mayor of New York City. She`s also an MSNBC legal analyst.

And, Maya, even the encouragers of Jeff Sessions are simply saying hang on until after the election.

MAYA WILEY, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: I don`t think there`s any question that Donald Trump is going to continue to undermine one of his most loyal supporters because of the Mueller investigation. That`s clear. And I say that because remember that Jeff Sessions is one of the earliest supporters of Donald Trump, one of the earliest inside the beltway establishment people.

But he`s also been unapologetically a supporter of Trump`s policy that he`s been very effective I would say and argue unfortunately for justice in this country, extremely effective at executing whether it`s separating families at the border, whether it`s reversing efforts to provide support for police accountability and safer communities, or even the way in which we over- criminalize particularly black and Latino communities in terms of sentencing laws. So what we have seen is a Jeff Sessions that had been quite effective, an early supporter and a regular -- someone who has regularly been defensive of Donald Trump`s administration.

And remember in October 2017 when Jeff Sessions appeared in this oversight hearing before Congress and he was asked several questions and given several opportunities to support the Mueller investigation and he wouldn`t. This is the man that Donald Trump wants to fire. And I don`t think that`s going to change, and I think part of what we`re hearing is some senators actually just acknowledging that.

O`DONNELL: Yes. David Frum, Bob Corker saying the fix is in, it couldn`t be clearer to him.

Lindsey Graham in one of the most stunning reversals since the invention of video recording. It`s as if he does not know that we have recordings of what he said about this last year. But Lindsey Graham personifies what looks like a collapse of Republican support in the Senate for Jeff Sessions.

DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: There`s another thing they think people don`t know, and that is what day it is. This is now the end of August of an election year in which the Republicans are probably going to do quite badly. President Trump throughout this struggle with Robert Mueller has had a political strategy, to defame and denounce the investigation, to try to discredit it and to try to hold on to enough Republicans to gird him against whatever Mueller reveals.

But that political strategy looks like it`s going to pay diminishing dividends after November. The president now needs a legal strategy and he hasn`t got a very good one because firing Jeff Sessions simply means a giant battle over the confirmation of the next attorney general before a Senate that is almost certainly going to be less Republican than the present Senate. And even if the Republicans hold the Senate, those hearings are going to be embarrassing. They are going to involve a huge national debate.

And it is going to be very hard for the Republicans holding those hearings to avoid being put on the spot by the Democratic colleagues about whether or not the president supports firing Robert Mueller, but that`s obviously what the hearing will be about.

O`DONNELL: Matt Miller, it seems to me at this stage, after last week became impeachment week, by which I mean it was the week in which everyone started discussing the possibility of impeachment with the Michael Cohen guilty plea, in which he directly in effect testified in court to Donald Trump participating in crimes, that a new attorney general`s ability to take the special prosecutor`s report and basically just throw it away, just take it and lock it in a safe and never allow Congress to see it, never allow anyone to see it, would be the most important power that that new attorney general would have for Donald Trump.

The idea that Congress would be able to rebuild from nothing the Mueller investigation in an impeachment proceeding seems very difficult.

MATT MILLER, FORMER SPOKESMAN FOR A.G. ERIC HOLDER: Yes, there`s no way they`d be able to. That`s a very important thing. But there are others as well. You know, the person who supervises Bob Mueller has the ability to approve or deny if he wants to go into new lines of inquiry. If he wanted to, say, subpoena the president of the United States for testimony if the president doesn`t agree to an interview which, of course, it seems he`s not going to do. Any kind of steps like that have to be approved by Mueller`s direct supervisor which now is Rod Rosenstein but could be a new attorney general.

You know, I worry less if Jeff Sessions is fired about a permanent attorney general who`s confirmed by the Senate because I think that person would have to commit in Senate hearings to not interfere with the investigation, in the same way that during Watergate, Elliot Richardson and William Ruckelshaus both made those kind of pledges to the Senate.

What I worry more about is that interim period should Jeff Sessions be fired and the president names an acting attorney general. Does he make Rod Rosenstein the acting attorney general, or does he find someone else in his administration? All he has to do is take anyone who is Senate confirmed to any position, it could be an assistant secretary in the State Department, in the Labor Department, anyone from across the administration that he can put into the Justice Department as an acting attorney general. That person could immediately take control of the Mueller probe and either shut it down or curtail it in very significant ways.

O`DONNELL: But, Maya, the Justice Department is possibly the only department that has a specific law, specific statute about who becomes the acting attorney general if the attorney general is fired or quit or is unable to perform the duties, and that is Rod Rosenstein. So, the president, if he wants to use the vacancy act as Matt Miller was describing, would be wandering into a space we`ve never been in before, for which there may be absolutely no legal basis. It doesn`t seem to be a legal basis for it.

So, you could then have a court fight over who is the acting attorney general of the United States.

WILEY: It`s very hard to see how all of this won`t be a huge mess if Donald Trump has his way. And I think Matt has made an extremely important point. And so, let me go backwards a step. Remember that there is a movement to try to impeach Rod Rosenstein. So, we`re also talking about a political environment in which Trump himself and Republicans themselves have sort of put a target on Rod Rosenstein`s back.

So, at the end of the day, I think what we`re looking at is nothing short of a huge debacle for the country. One way or the other, how this plays out is so dependent on the midterms. And remember that Steve Bannon is actually organizing talking points that suggest that Republicans need to turn out because Democrats will impeach Donald Trump.

Well, the reverse is now happening as well, where folks are starting to message on the Democratic side, look at what this is about, this is about whether we will have a full and thorough investigation around what happened with Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election. By the way, without regard to what the outcome of that investigation is, just letting it finish so the American public knows what it needs to understand, which is what the heck happened.

O`DONNELL: Yes. And, David Frum, it seems that this president would not be firing Jeff Sessions in order to allow Rod Rosenstein to become the acting attorney general, which is what current law calls for. So it would be the kind of thing that Washington calls a massacre. It would seem you can`t fire Jeff Sessions without firing Rod Rosenstein at the same time.

FRUM: Well, this goes to how the lack of legal strategy backs into the lack of political strategy. I mean, does the president -- look at the clock. If the president does this, he`s going to be doing it after Labor Day, with minutes to go before the midterm elections. This is going to be an election that comes very much about the ability to activate bases.

The Democratic base is always harder to mobilize than the Republican base. I think there are very few things that President Trump could do that would mobilize more Democratic turnout than to do a big bloody messy firing of his attorney general, obviously to shut down this investigation just weeks before the midterm election.

O`DONNELL: But, Matt Miller, that`s where the Republicans come in and their advice to the president not to do it, just don`t do it until after the midterms. That seems to be at this point the Republican Senate`s position is and Republican Congress position, don`t do this until after the midterms because of what David Frum just said, that it will hurt us in the November election.

MILLER: Yes, that`s right. And they have finely tuned political radar. They know exactly what would happen to their prospects should he fire the attorney general before then and seem to be taking a direct assault on the investigation.

But that is cold comfort for the ultimate outcome of the investigation, delay it until November may help their political prospects but it doesn`t do much for the Mueller investigation given that I don`t think we`re going to see any real significant move against the president in these next two months between now and the election.

There`s one other thing -- one other lesson I take from watching these comments from Republican senators. You know, Lindsey Graham is a great example of it but you can go down the list of people quoted in that "Washington Post" story who were once defenders of Jeff Sessions who have thrown up their hands and given up and taken this position, well, if the president wants to do it, he has the authority to do it, he can do it. It makes me think of all of these other things we think of as red lines, the president firing Bob Mueller, the president issuing pardons to try to hurt this investigation, things that some Republicans have said would be red lines for them, well they once said firing Jeff Sessions would be a bridge too far and they`re completely backing down on it as they have backed down so many times when the president has stretched his authority.

It makes me worry that if he fires Sessions and gets no pushback from Republicans, which it seems like he won`t, it just is another encouragement that he can do whatever he wants to try to shut down Bob Mueller and end this investigation into himself.

O`DONNELL: And, Maya, I have never seen a United States senator get tired of holding a certain position. It`s not that Donald Trump has worn them down and they somehow have Trump fatigue. Richard Shelby and Lindsey Graham, these people have made a new political calculation, which is a different political calculation than the one they made defending Jeff Sessions. And their new political calculation is I am on the Trump side against Jeff Sessions.

WILEY: Which is really saying I`m on the Trump side against the United States of America. And I think that`s what`s getting lost in the larger conversation that just looks at the specifics of the mechanics of how this works, is the United States attorney general is the highest lawyer of the land. I didn`t -- was hoping that Jeff Sessions wouldn`t be confirmed, to be quite frank, because I don`t think he`s upholding all the laws of the land in my view.

But having said that, he`s essentially being attacked for not -- for not protecting the president of the United States over the Constitution of the United States. That should be unacceptable to all of us.

O`DONNELL: We`re going to have to take a break here. David Frum, Matt Miller, Maya Wiley, thank you for starting us off tonight. I appreciate it.

When we come back, why Donald Trump spent the weekend calling people and screaming. Of course, he did.

And Natasha Bertrand will join us with her exclusive reporting on Devin Nunes` excellent adventure in London investigating the Christopher Steele dossier. That`s next.


O`DONNELL: Tomorrow is another big day for Paul Manafort. Special prosecutor Robert Mueller has to tell a federal court in Virginia whether he intends to continue to prosecute Paul Manafort on the 10 verdicts that the jury could not reach an agreement on last week while the jury was busy convicting Paul Manafort on eight other counts. A member of that jury revealed last week that there was only one holdout on the 10 undecided counts. Eleven jurors were in favor of guilty and only one was in favor of not guilty on those counts. Prosecutors would normally continue to prosecute a case like that were a jury so heavily in their favor.

But Paul Manafort`s second trial is rapidly approaching in Washington, D.C. where he is facing charges of obstruction of justice, money laundering, and failing to register as a foreign agent. Jury selection in that case is scheduled to begin on September 17th, but today, the judge delayed the beginning of the trial for one week later. The trial will now start on September 24th.

During Paul Manafort`s trial in Virginia, Congressman Devin Nunes used taxpayer money for his own trip to London where he tried to investigate the origins of the Christopher Steele dossier that describes Donald Trump`s history with Russian businesses and Russian businesspeople. And in an exclusive report in "The Atlantic", our next guest Natasha Bertrand reports that Nunes requested meetings with the heads of three different British agencies, MI-5, MI-6, and the government communications headquarters, or GCHQ.

But those meetings did not pan out. Nunes came away meeting only with the U.K.`s deputy national security adviser, Madeleine Allesandri. The people familiar with his trip told me that officials at MI-6, MI-5, and GCHQ were wary of entertaining Nunes out of fear that he was trying to stir up a controversy.

Natasha Bertrand, staff writer at "The Atlantic," joins us now. Also with us, David Corn, Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones" and co-author of the book "Russian Roulette." Both are MSNBC contributors.

And, Natasha, I want to go to your exclusive reporting on what Devin Nunes was up to on his summer break. And big surprise, people in London were a little suspicious of him.

NATASHA BERTRAND, STAFF WRITER, THE ATLANTIC: Exactly. So, he went over there with the intention of trying to get more information about Christopher Steele, the author of the Trump dossier, from MI-6, MI-5 and GCHQ. Of course, MI-6 is the agency that Christopher Steele worked for for a number of decades and MI-5 is the U.K.`s domestic intelligence service.

And what he was trying to glean from MI-5 is actually particularly interesting. I`m told that he was trying to kind of figure out what they knew about Christopher Steele`s relationship with Bruce Ohr, the top Justice Department official who, of course, was grilled today by House Republicans and who was speaking to Chris Steele throughout 2016 and 2017, kind of debriefing him on additional intelligence he may have gotten from the Trump Russia project that he was doing.

So --

O`DONNELL: Go ahead.

BERTRAND: So he went over there and he requested these meetings and ultimately they did not meet with him. I was told that Nunes was rebuffed behind the scenes some tell me that they just couldn`t find time for him, which is its own kind of snub, because, of course, when the House Intelligence chairman goes over to meet with high-level intel agencies in another country, you would expect them to kind of drop everything and meet with him.

But I was told that because of Nunes`s track record in disclosing classified information and potentially compromising sources that they were wary of giving him any kind of information about Chris Steele or about the Russia investigation that they may have.

O`DONNELL: And, David Corn, he also has a record that would make them very worried that he would misquote them or take something that they said and present it completely out of context back in the United States as he`s done with so much information.

DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, MOTHER JONES: Well, I have firsthand evidence of that, interaction with that, when he put out that infamous Nunes memo, he quoted work that I`d done and work that my co-author Mike Isikoff had done and got it completely wrong. So you know, let`s just also -- I mean, kudos to Natasha. I was very jealous when I read this story. It was a great scoop.

But, you know, the thing here, the big picture is Devin Nunes, the head of the House Intelligence Committee, very important job in Washington, D.C., still continues to demonstrate to us, he cares nothing about the Russian attack on the 2016 campaign. He cares about Christopher Steele, Bruce Ohr, and all these, you know, wackadoodle conspiracy theories that would somehow protect Donald Trump.

As a guy who were first about Steele and the dossier, I can -- I`d love to sit down with Devin and tell him that you`re completely wrong, you`re out to lunch, stop wasting your time and do what needs to be done, which is to protect our elections from further Russian intervention when we have evidence that it`s still continuing. It`s just gotten to be absurd.

O`DONNELL: David, you met with Christopher Steele. What would you tell Devin Nunes about him if he wanted to talk to you about him?

CORN: I`m sure what the MI-6 and MI-5 guys would say if they thought it was worth speaking to Devin Nunes, would say. He is a respected professional. He`s worked 20 years with British intel and then he worked with the FBI and other U.S. agencies on sort of a contractor basis.

So, people who have worked with him speak tremendously highly of him. It doesn`t matter what my impression is. He has an established track record.

And if he doesn`t like what he did with the memos, I don`t think you can fault him. He was given an assignment. He went out. He sent stuff in. It wasn`t for public consumption. It was just a lot of leads.

And it`s really not much of a story. I mean, we wrote a book about it. But in terms of like the dark evil side of this and plotting with Bruce Ohr, a person no one ever heard of, another great public servant, I mean, the Republicans have turned this world upside down and the only person it helps -- actually, there are two people it helps, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.

O`DONNELL: But, Natasha, Devin Nunes it appears on this London trip as far as we know didn`t find anything to help Donald Trump.

BERTRAND: There`s no indication that he did. He was kind of pawned off on the deputy national security adviser. She was kind of the last one who actually would agree to meet with him, that is what I`m told anyway. But he didn`t glean any kind of new information about the Steele dossier or about his relationship with Bruce Ohr, about whether the British authorities knew about that ongoing communication.

It`s also very interesting to note that Devin Nunes should be in theory at home with his constituents ahead of the election, where he`s facing a close race. And instead he is off in London and before London, Azerbaijan kind of going on these international trips, which is very, very weird in the middle of an election season.

So, this just shows how his obsession with Chris Steele, with undermining the Russia investigation, has really -- it`s continued. And that`s remarkable given all of the evidence we have that has really debunked his numerous claims throughout the last year, whether it was the unmasking scandal of course, which lost steam eventually and he eventually -- he launched a parallel investigation into surveillance abuses by the Justice Department.

And, of course, as David mentioned that Nunes memo in which he alleged those surveillance abuses was ultimately debunked but he continues and he has become completely fixated on this. And, of course, the president has facilitated that and rewarded it. So it`s really remarkable to see that he has continued down this path.

O`DONNELL: Natasha Bertrand, great reporting. Thank you for joining us tonight. David Corn, thank you for joining the discussion.

And when we come back, the president is searching Google for news about himself and getting very angry at what he sees but he`s not searching for the parents of those 538 children still separated from their families, separated by Donald Trump on our southern border. That`s next.


O`DONNELL: How was your weekend? According to Gabriel Sherman`s report in "Vanity Fair," your weekend was probably way better than Donald Trump`s. "He spent the weekend calling people and screaming," one former White House official said. At the end of Trump`s worst week, what else would you expect the man to do on the weekend? That same report by Gabe Sherman quotes another west wing official saying, "Trump is nuts. This time really feels different."

Donald Trump did not spend the weekend calling people and screaming about the 528 children who are still separated from their families after Donald Trump ordered them separated from their families at the Southern border. The president is under a court order to reunite those families. And so he should be calling people and screaming or doing whatever is necessary to reunite those children but he obviously doesn`t care about any of them.

He cares about his campaign chairman, Paul Manafort being found guilty of federal crimes, his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen pleading guilty to federal crimes, and his long-time accountant Allen Weisselberg who is now the chief financial officer of the Trump businesses getting immunity from Federal prosecutors along with David Pecker, the publisher of the "National Enquirer." In exchange for that immunity, they have to tell the truth to the FBI and federal prosecutors about Donald Trump.

All of that happened last week, in Trump`s worst week. So the president spent the weekend calling people and screaming about that. And no doubt trying to think up ways to distract attention from the criminal investigation closing in on him. And one bright idea that he had about distracting attention came this morning at 5:28 A.M. when he tweeted about how unfair the Google search results are when you search for Trump news.

That is, of course, news about the terribly unpopular president of the United States, who found the time today to tweet about Google`s search results but couldn`t find the time to say one word about the latest tragic statistics on the number of people killed by hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Today, researchers at George Washington University issued the latest revision of that total to 2,975. That`s after the government`s first official count of the death toll at 64.

The new statistics provoked an emergency press conference by the governor of Puerto Rico today to explain why the government has been so slow in revising that official count. But the president of the United States didn`t think there was anything worth noticing in the increase in the death toll of American citizens killed in that hurricane from 64 to 2,975. The suffering of those thousands of people who were killed in Puerto Rico, the suffering of their families, the suffering of the 528 families still separated at our southern border cannot find any space to occupy in the mind of this president of the United States, where the only suffering he recognizes is the pain he feels when you Google Trump news.

Jason Johnson and David Corn will join our discussion next.


>>> Here is the Mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico today.


CARMEN YULIN CRUZ, MAYOR, SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO: All he had to say is I`m sorry that 2,975 of you died. That`s all he had to say but he`s incapable of doing that. Anything that comes out of the president`s mouth that does not begin with "I am sorry that those people died," even as a simple act of being in tune with what we`re feeling is totally neglectful and totally off the grid. I mean, the man does not have a clue.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Jason Johnson, politics editor at, an MSNBC contributor and David Corn is back with us.

And Jason Johnson, we saw it with John McCain, and now we`ve seen it with 2,975 people as the Mayor put it, "He cannot even say I`m sorry."

JASON JOHNSON, POLITICS EDITOR, THEROOT.COM: Yes. When you have to be shamed into lowering and then raising the flag for a Veteran and a noble member of the U.S. Senate, it`s indicative of how this White House operates. But Lawrence, the part that has always gotten me about Trump and his refusal to just show common courtesy and decency towards human beings is the fact that no one around him seems embarrassed by this.

No one around him seems ashamed about the fact that, you know, he didn`t want to raise the flag. No one around him seems ashamed that he can`t say "Oh, my gosh, 3,000 Americans died and we basically tried to hide the figures like it was the concussion protocol in the NFL." That`s what really ghouls me about this administration. We can have a despicable man in the White House, but the fact that he`s surrounded by enablers endangers us all.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Donald Trump did say about this hurricane in Puerto Rico when the death count was just ridiculously underreported at that time. Let`s listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`ve saved a lot of lives. If you look at the -- every death is a horror, but if you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina and you look at the tremendous hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died and you look at what happened here with really a storm that was just totally overpowering, nobody`s ever seen anything like this, you can be very proud. Everybody around this table and everybody watching can really be very proud of what`s taken place in Puerto Rico.


O`DONNELL: David, first of all, no other president would have talked about even that low death toll number that way. But if they had made comments about it, they wouldn`t let those comments stand today when that number goes up by almost 3,000.

CORN: Well, it`s a Trump hurricane so it has to be the best hurricane, right? And his response has to be the best response. You know, what strikes me today about the Google news episode at 5:00 A.M. in the morning is that it makes clear that the thing that motivates Trump more than anything else is his own petty personal grievances.

This guy is not 98 percent water like the rest of us. He`s 98 percent spite. That`s what motivates him. That`s what gets him up in the morning and gets him into that office or even before the office into the bathroom and tweeting away. He doesn`t care about 2,900 Americans in Puerto Rico. He doesn`t care about Americans who have clean water in Flint, Michigan, doesn`t care about separated families. He doesn`t care about victims of gun violence. He cares about his own petty grievances. It`s the way a narcissist sees the world.

O`DONNELL: And Jason, there`s the president screaming into the phone all weekend because he`s angry about the investigation closing in on him. And there`s no report, there`s not even a hint from anyone in the White House that he has picked up the phone, that he has said one word, that he`s made one attempt to move his bureaucracy on reuniting those children at the southern border.

JOHNSON: No. No. The president doesn`t care. I mean he doesn`t care about brown children. He doesn`t care about brown people. He doesn`t care about Puerto Ricans. He doesn`t care about, you know, shootings in Florida. These are not things that concern him.

You know, Lawrence, for a Gen X-er like me, they always say, you know, you can learn a lot about somebody by their search history on their computer, you just look at the tabs. And the fact that Donald Trump, when he looks on Google and fake news always finds something bad, what that indicates is he wakes up every day trying to see what do they think about me, what do they think about me? Who`s saying bad things about me?

His computer is basically alerting based on his own grievances. And that shows us that his computer is giving him the painful world that he sees. So I`m not surprised he`s only obsessed with his own reviews, his own Q numbers. And that`s why the moment things start looking bad, he never looks inward, he attacks outward.

O`DONNELL: And so David, when he checks tomorrow, he`s going to find there`s a lot more negative comment about his silence about the 2,975 deaths in Puerto Rico.

CORN: And, of course, bad news coverage about his complaints about Google News.


CORN: I mean, it`s -- and he`ll be out there, you know, finding another way to show that the world is against him, which he thinks plays to his base, and to some degree it does. But really what it does is play to his psyche.

O`DONNELL: Jason Johnson and David Corn, thank you both for joining us tonight. Appreciate it.

CORN: Thank you.

JOHNSON: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: And when we come back, it is once again Steve Kornacki night in America. Steve is here. He will give us the latest on what`s happening in Arizona, what`s happening in Florida in the primaries.


O`DONNELL: We have a surprise winner tonight, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum declaring victory in the Florida Democratic primary for governor.


ANDREW GILLUM, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE, FLORIDA GOVERNOR: I got to tell you, I am overwhelmed. You know, there were just a few people, just a few people who said that this moment would not be possible. A few. And then there were a few more who believed that this thing was possible.


O`DONNELL: And there wasn`t any polling saying that that was possible. For more, we now turn to MSNBC National Political Correspondent Steve Kornacki over at the big board. Steve, what else do we have to know?

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The polling strikes again, right. Gwen Graham was leading in basically every survey we saw heading into election night, primary night. Gwen Graham, that`s a big name in Democratic Florida politics. She was a congresswoman. Her father was a governor, senator. Number two was supposed to be Phil Levine, the former mayor of Miami Beach.

Look at the coalition that Gillum put together in pulling off this shock. You see, the mayor of Tallahassee, one Leon County right in and around Tallahassee. But look, go down to the southern part of the state here around Miami, supposed to be Levine country. Let`s see if we can call that up, take a look. Sorry, that`s the statewide.

Take a look at here in Miami, Dade County, Gillum winning it out. Like Graham finishing a very distant third. Go north, Brower County, Gillum winning it, running away. Graham, a very distant 30 cleaned up there. She got her clock cleaned there. He won in Orlando, he won in Tampa, he won big in Jacksonville. And then this was the teal surprise. This was supposed to be sort of the heart of Gwen Graham Country, a little more Conservative, the panhandle part of the state. Gwen Graham won a little bit in here.

Look at all the counties, match up the color here. Gillum covered the blue color, the dark blue there, he won some of those counties there. So really different regions of this state, he put a very interesting coalition together. I think it`s going to be looked at very is closely in the coming days. Did he get a lot of young people out, people who weren`t necessarily expecting to turn out?

And, of course, who will he face in the general election? It is Donald Trump`s candidate, Ron DeSantis, the congressman bidding, crushing the choices of the Republican establishment, former congressman, state agriculture commissioner Adam Putnam. DeSantis wins this big. Democrats are looking at this race and they`re saying in the midterm climate of 2018, that tight connection with Trump is going to be baggage for DeSantis in the general election.

Of course, Democrats, before tonight thought it was going to be Gwen Graham or maybe Phil Levine as a nominee. Now, they`ve got a nominee that really wasn`t on anybody`s radar until about two hours ago.

O`DONNELL: And Steve, what are we seeing in Arizona? Is it too early?

KORNACKI: Yes. Well, so the polls are closed in Arizona. Funny, the way it works there, the state law says the polls are closed, they wait an hour and then they`re allowed to release results. Arizona, almost all the votes, the vast majority are mail-in votes, and they are released within a few minutes of 11:00. So really, Lawrence, it says 000. Probably a half hour from now, we`re going to have the vast majority of vote in this senate race. Martha McSally trying to get that Republican nomination against the two insurgence there.

O`DONNELL: Steve Kornacki, we will be watching you later tonight when you have more results.


O`DONNELL: Thanks for joining us.

And Florida`s Democratic nominee for governor Andrew Gillum appeared on the LAST WORD the day after the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.


GILLUM: These students have simply asked that they want to be kept safe. They want their elected officials to do exactly what we were elected to do and that`s to lead. Not to take temperatures, not to test every policy against the acceptability of the NRA, but to lead in a way that will ensure the protection of people.

Here we are after Sandy Hook, after polls, after the Fort Lauderdale Airport, after what happened in Las Vegas, and now after what has happened in Parkland, and we`re still here sending thoughts and prayers. Well, you know what? This moment requires more than thoughts and prayers, it requires action. And that`s what people are asking for from their governor, from the legislature, and from their elected officials in Washington.



O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s last word from comedian, podcaster, writer, and actor Mark Merin.


MARC MARON, COMEDIAN: I`m waiting for Trump to just staff the White House with actual Russians. Like (INAUDIBLE) just came out, this is Boris, Ivan, (INAUDIBLE). They`re going to do a great job, believe me. We`re all clapping and laughing but if it happens, right, most of America will be like, "What`s going on? He can`t just hire Russians." Then about three days will go by and people are like, "I guess that`s happening. I guess it`s just going to be Russians there."

Because apparently, Conan, there are no rules to being president. We just make assumptions that they somehow stayed in the same lane a bit, maybe. You know, at least -

CONAN O`BRIEN, HOST: They all behave more or less the same.

MARON: More or less the same. Well, that`s not happening and I just hope someone`s writing some rules down. Just in case, we make it through this one, a few dos and don`ts might be natural.


O`DONNELL: Marc Maron gets tonight`s last word. Election results straight ahead on "THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS" which starts now.


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