Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: September 11, 2018 Guest: Ned Price; David Corn; Jason Johnson, David Maraniss
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Rachel, it was really a great interview with Bob Woodward. We discovered things -- you talk about things no one else has been talking about in this book. There are so many things to go through.
But I want to get your reaction. What do you think were the highlights, what were some of the surprises in your conversation?
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, TRMS: Well, it`s interesting. On that issue of the national security advisor, H.R. McMaster and the National Security Council apparently concluding that the president had obtained Russian propaganda --
MADDOW: -- and was distributing it from the White House via his Twitter account, that as of last summer, them determining that, that really is hanging out there with us having no idea where that went. We`ve got Woodward`s bullet proof reporting that McMaster discovered that. He verified it. It wasn`t something that just looked like Russian propaganda. The National Security Council determined that it was.
If we had a functioning Congress, that is the sort of thing that you would expect there to be congressional investigations about. Also, there does seem to be, as I was talking with Mr. Woodward about just a moment ago, there does seem to be real sensitivity within the White House to the questions raised about Jared Kushner`s finances and business dealings, with all sorts of people close to the president raising the prospect that that might have been the real reason behind lots of his behavior, everything from firing James Comey to picking fights with Jeff Sessions, a lot of people in the White House attributed freak-outs from the president and outbursts from the president as efforts to try to distract specifically from concerns about Jared`s finances.
So, there`s all sorts of little threads like that. I know there`s personality staff and people calling people crazy. There are investigative threads here, too, to pull and I think this book is actually going to be a start of a lot of that reporting.
O`DONNELL: And what I`m intrigued by and hasn`t gotten a lot of concentration until your conversation with Bob Woodward tonight is the way the governing actually works in this White House. In that sense, that part -- those parts of the book you can compare them to previous Woodward books inside previous presidencies and he made a reference to the book he wrote about the first book he wrote about the Clinton administration and NAFTA and the way NAFTA worked its way through the legislative process.
And you can see in the story that he told in that book which is titled "The Agenda", it`s an everything is an extremely careful process, and every decision being made about NAFTA in its implementation and what the government would have to do to implement it, is done with extreme care, both inside the Clinton White House and in the Congress when they`re doing it. And then you cut to the 21st century version of this in the Trump White House where we heard Bob Woodward tonight describe to you how he just wants to throw it all away and people are surrounding him telling him all of the things that NAFTA has done that he does not know about. He clearly does not know about. And it has -- and then new information has no effect.
MADDOW: Yes, that`s -- that last point. That`s the key part of it, because there is a difference between a president having suspect ideas -- at one point Woodward uses the phrase "dangerous ideas" to talk about how even Trump`s top advisors advise -- think about the way that he thinks about the world. But it`s another thing to be unwilling or unable to engage with the implications of what you`re about to do because you`re so caught up in the idea of the excitement that you`re about to do something big. If you actually can`t weigh the consequence of that because you`re incapable of seeing that far down the road or incapable of absorbing that complexity, I mean, that`s the reason we don`t let dogs drive cars. You know what I mean?
It doesn`t mean dogs are bad. It just means like just because you can reach the pedal doesn`t mean you should be able to propel this hunk of iron. So, it`s disturbing. It`s -- I think it`s insightful in terms of the president`s psychology, but I think it also shows us why he called the book "Fear." There`s reasons to worry.
O`DONNELL: And, Rachel, that`s -- I think the missed possible subtitle of this book. I think in the paperback version, let me get it in the frame. Paperback version is going to be "Fear: Why we don`t let dogs drive cars" by Bob Woodward. That should be the paper back title of this book.
MADDOW: I`m going to home tonight and my dog is not going to get up and say hello to me. He`s going to turn his back to me. I`m in trouble with the dog community. I can tell you.
O`DONNELL: The dog will get over it, Rachel. Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Well, we have so much to discuss. Our panel, with our panel tonight on Rachel`s interview with Bob Woodward in this last hour. And this new book "Fear", which has rocked the White House by revealing the uninformed and unfit President Trump in more detail than any previous reporting. This book is on sale today and Americans will now be able to read this, judge it for themselves.
"Politico" is reporting that the president is absolutely livid at the former members of his administration, especially Gary Cohn and Rob Porter, who he believes leaked to Bob Woodward. They are both obvious direct sources of the book. Both men appear frequently in the book, including in a section that describes Cohn stealing a letter from the president`s desk before he could sign it to terminate the United States trade deal with South Korea.
And so today, those two former members of the Trump administration released written statements about Bob Woodward`s book and they do not, they do not take back a single quote that either one of them gave to the book. Gary Cohn, the former chief economic advisor, said, in part, that the book does not accurately portray my experience at the White House. And Rob Porter, the former staff secretary, referred to the book as having selective and often misleading presentations.
Their statements were very, very similar, but neither statement denied being a source for the book and both of them obviously are. And they did not deny any, any of the claims made in their name in the book. And so, neither statement actually in any way contradicts anything in Bob Woodward`s reporting in this book.
But the president again tried to claim today that these new statements actually have meaning and that the book is not a reliable account of his presidency.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Do you believe Rob Porter and Gary Cohn`s denial today?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, you shouldn`t be talking about that right now because it doesn`t matter. But I really appreciate their statement. Their statement was excellent. They both set out beautiful which shows the book is just a piece of fiction.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And the president has tweeted that the Woodward book is a scam and Bob Woodward is a liar.
But there is an obvious contradiction in the president`s statements on Bob Woodward`s book. "Politico" puts the contradiction this way. It`s difficult to rationale argue that the book could be both fiction, dreamed up by Woodard and a betrayal by a former top stewards of the administration who shared with the famed journalist alarming details of how the White House functions.
Joining our discussion now leading us off tonight: Tim O`Brien, he is the executive editor of "Bloomberg View". He`s the author of "TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald", and an MSNBC contributor. David Corn is with us, he`s the Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones", coauthor of the book "Russian Roulette", and an MSNBC political analyst. And David Maraniss, an associate editor at "The Washington Post" and best selling author who has written biographies on Presidents Clinton and Obama.
And let me go to David Maraniss on this.
You have read books about presidencies. You have written books about presidencies. You have read Bob Woodward books about presidencies before.
DAVID MARANISS, PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING REPORTER: Yes.
O`DONNELL: The president tonight trying just the most lame White House reaction to a Bob Woodward book ever, and where do you think this stands at the moment in the Bob Woodward versus the credibility of the Trump White House?
MARANISS: So many paths, Bob said, right?
O`DONNELL: Yes, so many paths. Yes, that`s what he just told Rachel in the last hour.
MARANISS: Yes. You know, in one way, it`s sort of Watergate redux with non-denial denials. People who spent hours and hours with Bob Woodward and gave him documents denying things that they said to him when he has them on tape. And has the documents. In the war on truth, I can`t think of a better general on the side of truth than Bob Woodward. And that`s where we stand right now.
O`DONNELL: I wanted -- here`s a quote from rob porter in the book. Let`s remember, Rob Porter and Gary Cohn their written statements -- they don`t attempt to contradict a single word in the book. Porter says, it felt like we were walking along the edge of the cliff perpetually. Other times, we would fall over the edge and an action would be taken.
And Tim O`Brien, it`s very clear, I mean, anyone who knows how to read these books can tell that rob porter is a direct source, speaking directly to Bob Woodward as is Gary Cohn. And these statements they`ve issued today are things that have happened with Woodward books before and Bob Woodward has said in the past that sometimes people will actually tell him. Sorry, but I`m coming out today and I`m going to say something negative about the book, even though, of course, I did give you all this interview material.
TIMOTHY O`BRIEN, AUTHOR, "TRUMPNATION": The most famous -- this has happened before -- Mark Felt, who was Deep Throat for both Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. Mark Felt spent 30 years after that book came out denying that he was the source for the book because everyone in Washington needs to insulate themselves from the fallout of a Bob Woodward book. There is a good chance that a number of the people in the White House who have stepped up and have said, this is an inaccurate account, or I never said what I said, are simply covering themselves because they`re aware that they`re with a president who is going to be vindictive and is going to try to take them off the stage.
And I think the other issue here that comes out in full spades in this with what all of them are contending with is they`ve got a president who is profoundly ignorant. He`s not only intemperate, he`s ignorant and they`re trying to protect him from his own ignorance.
O`DONNELL: When you were writing about Donald Trump and his businesses is this what you noted with the businesses, the frustrated advisory group around him?
O`BRIEN: You know, the Trump that`s portrayed in Bob`s book is the same Trump who ran for president. He is the same Trump who ran the Trump Organization. He is the same Donald Trump that everyone in New York has known for the last 50 years. This is exactly who this guy is.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen what Bob Woodward told Rachel about the need to create a process in the White House. John Kelly at a certain point, chief of staff, realizing that they had to do something so that when Donald Trump simply tweets something or says something, it doesn`t automatically become the next action of the White House. Let`s listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB WOODWARD, AUTHOR, "FEAR: TRUMP IN THE WHITE HOUSE": Presidents can do wonderful things and they can do disastrous things. The process really matters. It finally gets to a point in the book where General Kelly, who is the chief of staff, sits down with Rob Porter who is the staff secretary and says, we need to write up rules and we need to tell the president that if he makes one of these seat of the pants decisions, it`s not final. We have to sit down and have a process where the president will actually literally sign a document, a decision memo.
And they say, it`s not final. You can`t run around and do these things. There`s got to be a process. You`ve got to hear arguments.
And time and time again -- I mean, sometimes he does, but time and time again he doesn`t.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: David Corn, it doesn`t sound like the process is working.
DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, MOTHER JONES: You know, Donald Trump`s love affair with chaos is well known. You know, we saw it in the campaign. We`ve seen it in how the books and a lot of reporting that`s come out in the last year and a half.
To me, the most frightening thing here -- and this -- I think the lack of process is reflected in this. In Bob`s book, he talked about it with Rachel. There are examples throughout the book. The president seems incapable of thinking.
I know that sounds hyperbolic, but thinking entails absorbing information, considering the information, processing the information, and coming to some conclusion or output at the end. And instance after instance, he refuses to absorb information. Maybe he can`t even do so.
And there is no process internally to match any bureaucratic or organizational process. And to me that`s the mostly frightening thing. A guy with his finger on the nuclear button who is impulsive, egotistical and narcissistic really doesn`t seem to be able to engage in basic cognitive activity.
O`DONNELL: And the World Trade Organization is a very good example of that. We heard Bob Woodward --
O`DONNELL: -- describing this to Rachel in the last hour, the president`s inability to understand how things actually work in the World Trade Organization and why it generally works so much to the United States` advantage.
Let`s listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOODWARD: When confronted with evidence -- for instance, there is a scene in the book where he starts talking about the World Trade Organization, which is an organization that actually gives us great leverage if there is unfair trade practice in the world. And he said, this is the worst organization in the world and the advisors who are experts in there say, no. And Trump says, well, we lose our cases there and they bring out the document. No, we win 85.7 percent of the cases, not just 85 percent, but 85.7.
And Trump says, no, that`s not true. They said, bring in your trade representative. Call him. Ask him.
Trump, I don`t want to. I won`t do that. He closes his mind to the information that makes it possible for the president to weigh arguments and data.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And, David Maraniss, the president seems incapable of being embarrassed at the exposure of his own ignorance in those scenes.
MARANISS: You know, that was so classic Bob Woodward, the 85.7 percent. You know, he`s relentless -- he`s very cautious, never getting ahead of the facts, but relentless in the pursuit of them, and that sort of show that. But yes, I mean, there have been a few politicians in the modern age who seem incapable of embarrassment or guilt, and Donald Trump in this book time and time again comes through in that fashion.
O`DONNELL: And, Tim, the Donald Trump that you`ve seen, as we`ve said, seems to be -- this seems to be just the government version of the Donald Trump --
O`DONNELL: The way he operated in business, the way he did everything. When he gets these paper statements today from Rob Porter and Gary Cohn, does he fall for those?
O`BRIEN: I think all he cares about is the show. You know, he has this very reptilian sensibility about how to survive. It`s one of his core strengths. He will just put aside and even if it contradicts what he wants to believe is happening.
It`s also one of his core flaws because he only lives in this world, this fiction that he creates around himself. I think he knows full well that those are possibly cover documents for both Gary Cohn and Rob Porter. But what he cares more about is that his assemblage of voices out there saying, Bob Woodward is a liar and the president of the United States is telling the truth.
And that`s why it`s worth remembering in a moment like this that Trump is 72 years old and he spent the last five decades anonymously leaking horrendous gossip and damaging information about friends, business partners and his own family members.
O`DONNELL: And, David Corn, on one of the mysteries Bob Woodward could not penetrate is what he calls the Michael Flynn mystery, the mysteries of Michael Flynn and what went on in those days at the White House before he was fired. And so that seems like that`s up to special prosecutor to explain that one.
CORN: Well, it`s something that, you know, a congressional investigation could explain, too. We don`t seem to be having that on the House side. Remember, we`re waiting for the Senate Intelligence Committee`s investigation which may or may not be better than the House Intelligence.
There still are dozens of questions, particularly in the Trump-Russia scandal that Bob`s book doesn`t address, doesn`t get to, and the public deserves answers to. And Trump, of course, is trying to distract mightily from that.
O`DONNELL: David Maraniss, quickly before we go, future historians when they come to Bob Woodward`s book and they come to what we now know about this presidency, what would be the historian`s take on Bob Woodward`s book, reading it 50 years from now?
MARANISS: I think they`ll find it largely reliable, as historians have found when they`ve gone over the notes of his books on Nixon. John Farrell who wrote a great biography of Nixon went through all of the notes Woodward had down at the University of Texas and found it accurately portrayed what he was finding. I think the largest point, best point I`ve seen lately is David Ignatius, my colleague at "The Post", who described the fear of Donald Trump in a different way.
It wasn`t that he ruled by fear or we should be feared, but that Donald Trump was afraid, and that made him small. And everything he does is a fear of showing vulnerability and humanity.
O`DONNELL: David Maraniss, David Corn, Tim O`Brien, thank you for starting our discussion tonight. We appreciate it.
And when we come back, what will we know about the president`s legal defense? What Bob Woodward`s book reveals about that.
And later, Donald Trump had to do something today that`s very difficult for him. He had to speak about 9/11 without lying.
O`DONNELL: As Bob Woodward said to Rachel Maddow at the end of the last hour, there are so many paths. He said, I`ve done this for 47 years. I`ve never seen so many paths, and I`ve never seen so much as -- and he said, there is a war on the truth. One of the paths that Bob (AUDIO GAP) is a path to Donald Trump through his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, the special prosecutor is exploring that path.
And tonight, "The Washington Post" is reporting that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is in talks with special prosecutor Robert Mueller`s office about a possible plea deal. "The Washington Post" notes that the judge in the case today delayed a scheduled pretrial hearing, but there was no reason given for that delay. "The Washington Post" notes that President Trump has praised Paul Manafort for not pleading guilty.
"The Post" quotes the president saying, prosecutors applied tremendous pressure on him and he refused to break, make up stories in order to get a deal, the president tweeted that last month. Such respect for a brave man. That is the president`s expressed respect for a convicted felon.
Bob Woodward`s book reveals that President Trump`s criminal defense lawyer John Dowd (AUDIO GAP) not because he believed (AUDIO GAP) believed President Trump was guilty of obstruction of justice, but because Donald Trump simply could not tell the truth. The book reports conversations between the president and his lawyer that could only have come from the president or his lawyer, which means John Dowd appears to be the source of this material in the book, especially since the book includes things that John Dowd thought but never said. John Dowd`s own interior dialogue with himself is in this book, and there`s only one place to get that. And that is -- that actually is what the last line of the book is.
The book ends with, in the man and his presidency, Dowd had seen (AUDIO GAP) political back (AUDIO GAP) the evasions, the denials, the tweeting, the obscuring, crying fake news, the indignation, Trump had one overriding problem that Dowd knew but could not bring himself to say to the president. You`re a F-ing liar.
Joining our discussion now, Mimi Rocah, former federal prosecutor, and Jason Johnson, politics editor at theroot.com. They are both MSNBC contributors.
And, Mimi, what do you make of this report of plea negotiations with Paul Manafort tonight, one of the paths as Bob Woodward would call it?
MIMI ROCAH, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, that would be significant no matter what kind of plea it turns out to be, but it is worth noting that there are two different kinds of pleas that Manafort could take. One would be a plea where in exchange for the plea, he gets some kind of benefit to his sentence. You automatically get credit just for accepting responsibility and that can help you in your sentence. The other would be a plea where you give information to the government and then you get an even bigger break in your sentence.
And right now as far as I know, we don`t know which one, and that can make a huge difference in the sort of path of the investigation and where it goes from here. Obviously, if Manafort did decide to cooperate, that would break open all sorts of new information, I would assume, for Mueller. But even if he doesn`t, it would be very significant just if he took a plea.
I mean, this is a man who has been fighting these charges tooth and nail. It would I think be really something to see him stand up and under oath admit to guilt. And I`m sure that part of what is going on -- and there was some reporting of this -- Mueller, even if he doesn`t cooperate, Mueller is going to want Manafort to admit to certain things that, you know, have been heavily disputed by the president, I think.
O`DONNELL: And, Jason Johnson, if Paul Manafort does that, if Paul Manafort decides the truth is that he is guilty and he gets up and admits that he`s guilty, he will no longer be considered a brave man by this president of the United States.
JASON JOHNSON, POLITICS EDITOR, THEROOT.COM: No, he will be considered a very dangerous man by this president of the United States, because what does Paul Manafort have to offer? Brilliant insight, some suggestions for suits, maybe some information about Ukrainians.
No, he primarily has information to offer about this presidency, about this campaign, about communications, about finances. That`s the only thing that Paul Manafort can really come to the table and offer this investigation. So he becomes a very dangerous man for this administration.
I think it`s important to note that the fact that he`s considering these negotiations means he either doesn`t believe that a presidential pardon is coming or doesn`t believe that a presidential pardon can cover him (AUDIO GAP) potentially guilty of. And that`s the other layer of this that sends a message to everybody else out there. Maybe pardons won`t be enough and working with Mueller might be your safer option.
O`DONNELL: Mimi, there are so many stunning things in Bob Woodward`s book. But one of them is John Dowd`s obvious cooperation with Bob Woodward on this book, which seems to be a violation of the attorney/client privilege.
ROCAH: Well, it`s a violation if he`s revealing, yes, conversations he had directly with Trump, which it seems like --
O`DONNELL: He is.
ROCAH: He is. Although some of it, as you say, is also his internal dialogue, the things he wished he had said to Trump. But I think that seems to be part of --
O`DONNELL: He`s in there with phone calls to his client telling Bob Woodward the words in quotation marks that were said on phone calls.
ROCAH: There`s no question. He should not be doing that. It`s a violation of the attorney/client privilege and a number of ethical rules. I don`t know if he just doesn`t care or it seems like what Dowd wants to do is sort of get his story out there (AUDIO GAP) left the team. (AUDIO GAP) because, you know, as you said, he thinks (AUDIO GAP) Trump can`t tell the truth.
And I think the important thing about that statement, which plays such a big part in Dowd`s book -- sorry, Woodward`s book is that, you know, Dowd knows that Trump could go in there and lie about the weather. He could lie about things that don`t matter and that`s not going to get Trump prosecuted for perjury.
O`DONNELL: Because it`s not a material --
ROCAH: Exactly. It needs to be (AUDIO GAP). So Dowd, by saying that, by saying you`re going to end up in an orange jump suit or some version of that, he`s saying Trump is going to lie about things that have a (AUDIO GAP). And what that tells me is that he thinks Trump knows things that would have an effect on the investigation.
So, this whole, you know, claim of Trump knows nothing about collusion, no conversations with Russians, that just doesn`t ring true with what Dowd is saying here about the back story.
O`DONNELL: We`re going to have (AUDIO GAP) Jason Johnson, Jason is going (AUDIO GAP) for joining us.
Coming up, (AUDIO GAP) who can never (AUDIO GAP) Vladimir Putin now faces a new test. We have an NBC News exclusive report tonight that Russia may have been behind an attack against U.S. diplomats in Cuba.
O`DONNELL: Here is more of Bob Woodward`s interview with Rachel Maddow tonight where Bob Woodward quotes Defense Secretary Mattis telling the president, "We`re trying to prevent World War III."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOB WOODWARD: Trump is concerned about all the expense of deploying troops in South Korea or in Europe and Secretary of Defense Mattis is saying to him, "You know, this is the best bargain we have. These troops are here to protect us, not South Koreans or Europeans." And then Trump persists and finally, Mattis said I think one of the most bracing lines in the book, "We`re doing this to prevent World War III."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Bob Woodward`s new book is among other things a warning about how President Trump as Woodward puts it jeopardizes real national security. And tonight, the Trump doctrine of never offending Vladimir Putin faces a new test. NBC News reported exclusively news agencies not consider Russia to be the main suspect in a series of mysterious attacks on our diplomatic missions in Cuba and in China that have led to brain injuries among U.S. personnel working there.
Though they currently do not have enough evidence to formally accuse Russia, their suspicions are reportedly backed up by communications collected as part of an ongoing investigation. And joining our discussion now is Ned Price, former senior director and spokesperson for the national security council in the Obama administration. He`s also a former CIA analyst and is an MSNBC national security contributor. And David Corn is back with us.
And, Ned, I want to get two things. Your reaction to Bob Woodward`s description of the national security tensions within this administration and they`re trying to prevent World War III and Donald Trump doesn`t seem to understand it. And this also, this NBC News report about what we`re discovering about the possibility that the Russians were behind what`s happened to the diplomatic personnel in Cuba.
NED PRICE, FORMER SENIOR DIRECTOR AND SPOKESPERSON, NATIONAL SECURITY: Well, Lawrence, the tensions that we see in this administration, to my mind at least, are unlike any tensions we`ve seen in previous administrations. In previous administrations, you have natural and sometimes logical cleavages between different factions and administrations, the state department versus defense department, the intelligence community versus another element.
In this case, you have President Trump versus the world. You have President Trump versus his entire national security establishment in some cases. We learned this both from the Woodward book and, of course, we saw a very vivid depiction of this in the anonymous op-ed that "The New York Times" wrote. It is one man standing in many cases against the people who are most knowledgeable and experienced about our national security and unfortunately that one man is Donald Trump.
When it comes to what we learned today from NBC News about current suspicions of Russian involvement in these attacks in Cuba, what has struck me is the administration`s silence on this. We have heard absolutely nothing from the administration about culpability for these attacks. And we have every reason to believe that if the Cuban Government were in any way responsible for these, the Trump administration would go out of its way to point the finger at Havana.
The Trump administration, of course, has done everything it can to try and roll back some of rapport that the Obama administration pursued with Cuba and Russia, of course, being responsible for this would make perfect sense. It would make perfect sense that the administration once again is trying to protect its ally in Moscow, Vladimir Putin. Its ally in Moscow that has an intelligence presence in Cuba, that has this technology, that has agents, and that has reason to do this.
The Russians, of course, have reason to divide us from the Cubans, our neighbor in the western hemisphere, and it`s my strong suspicion that the Trump administration knows a lot more than what they`ve told the American people.
O`DONNELL: And, David Corn, the scenes of frustration in Bob Woodward`s book about national security issues are some of the most extreme. And there is a confirmation in this book about one word that was in dispute many months ago when Stephanie Ruhle here at MSNBC was the first to report that Rex Tillerson called the president a moron at the end of a meeting in the Pentagon about national security issues.
That meeting is described in great detail in Bob Woodward`s book and the way Stephanie originally reported the quote, "Tillerson ended the meeting by calling Donald Trump an f-ing moron." Bob Woodward confirms it was f- ing moron, not just moron. And Rex Tillerson said it in a way deliberately so that everyone in the room could hear him, and this was after the president was saying things like why don`t we just pull all of our troops out of South Korea and rambled around the map of the world of where U.S. defense assets were in a way that frightened everyone in that room.
DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, MOTHER JONES: I think this scene is the most chilling scene in the entire book. It takes place in the tank, the sort of highly secure conference room in the Pentagon. And basically, this was kind of a bit of an intervention, you can call it.
Mattis and Tillerson and other bigwigs wanted to get Trump out of the White House, sit him down in front of that map, and say, here we have troops, here we have trade deals, here we have listening posts, here we have an interest in this country and that country. And basically show Trump that we`re interconnected with allies around the world, and we have to keep that in mind. And if you start a trade war with an ally, it might have a national security implication.
And Trump is just highly resistant to this. He keeps saying, "These guys aren`t allies, they don`t care about us. We have nothing to do with them. Are they going to back me when I rip up the Iran deal? If not, they`re not allies, they`re not friends of mine." And they keep trying, trying in many different directions to show him that the America has a place in a global structure that`s to the advantage of America.
And all he can do is stick to this basic idea that he, America and him, are getting screwed by everybody else in the world and it`s time to shove it to everybody. And that`s when he walks out and that`s when, you know, Tillerson says, "The man is an f-ing moron."
O`DONNELL: Yes. And Ned Price, I think you can confirm for us that that`s not the language of these meetings normally, especially the part in that same meeting where the most ridiculous person ever allowed in such a meeting, Steve Bannon, is the one who the president turns to argue with the defense secretary and the generals and others and Gary Cohn and others in that room. Steve Bannon throwing around a lot of profanity on his part in his direct address with those generals.
PRICE: Lawrence, I think one of the many absurdities that we have long forgotten about this administration is that Steve Bannon was actually placed on the national security council in January of 2017 and one of the first orders that President Trump promulgated as president of the United States.
I can confirm you are in fact correct, I did not routinely hear that language in the situation room. It is not the language you expect to hear when you are debating and sometimes speaking about matters of life and death. Everything from the Iran deal to Cuba, to matters of nuclear contingency. So it is not certainly par for the course in those settings.
O`DONNELL: Go ahead, David.
CORN: Just one quick thing. You know, it`s time for Rex Tillerson, Gary Cohn, and Rob Porter to say these things out in the open. This is how the president behaves. The public has a right to know, particularly before the midterms. And they`re cowards if they`re sitting on these experiences and not sharing them with us.
O`DONNELL: Ned Price, David Corn, thank you both for joining our discussion tonight. And when we come back, September 11th is always a challenge for Donald Trump because it`s very hard for him to not tell lies about September 11th.
O`DONNELL: Today on the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the president did something that is very difficult for him. He talked about 9/11 without lying. The president read a speech in teleprompters that was written for him by White House speechwriters and so it did not include any of the president`s lies about 9/11. In the past, the president has lied about what he saw on 9/11.
He said he saw thousands of people in New Jersey celebrating the attack on the World Trade Center on the day that it happened. That was a lie. He didn`t see any people doing that, none. The president lied about what he did after 9/11. He lied about having contributed to charitable funds for the victims of 9/11. That was a lie. He had not contributed anything until he became a presidential candidate.
And Donald Trump`s worst lie about 9/11 is the lie that got the least attention. Most of the news media completely ignored Donald Trump`s worst lie about 9/11. It is the lie that he told about what he personally lost on 9/11.
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MALE: How did he keep us safe when the World Trade Center --
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The world -- I lost hundreds of friends.
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O`DONNELL: As soon as Donald Trump said that in the campaign debate in South Carolina that he lost hundreds of friends on 9/11, I said that he was lying. I didn`t know how many friends he lost but I knew it wasn`t hundreds. And the next day on "Meet The Press," Donald Trump changed that answer to many, many friends. He said he lost many, many friends on 9/11.
And once again, I immediately tweeted that that was a lie and I still didn`t know exactly how many friends Donald Trump might have lost on 9/11. But knowing the way Donald Trump lies as I do, I suspected then that the real number was zero, and then I checked and the real number was zero. Donald Trump did not attend a single 9/11 funeral, not one.
There has been much debate in the news media about how do you know when a Trump lie is a lie and not just a falsehood that he believes? One way of knowing that a Trump lie is a lie is that he stops saying it. And when I held that lie up to Donald Trump`s face, even he could see how evil that lie was. And even Donald Trump knew he could never try to tell that lie again and so he never did.
In a political debate on a Saturday night, he said he lost hundreds of friends. And the next morning on "Meet The Press," he said he lost many, many friends on 9/11. And then he never, ever said it again, never. In a political debate to score points, Donald Trump tried to steal the grief of 9/11 families and then use that grief as his own, use it as a weapon in a political debate. And the one thing we know Donald Trump has never felt about 9/11 is grief.
In his lifelong quest for attention, Donald Trump managed to get himself on local television in New York City on 9/11 after both of the World Trade Center towers fell, and he had no idea how to even begin to express grief because, of course, he couldn`t feel any. Instead the feeling that he had that day on 9/11, the thing he found within himself, was pride, pride that he believed he now had the tallest building in lower Manhattan now that the World Trade Center had collapsed.
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TRUMP: 40 Wall Street actually was the second tallest building in downtown Manhattan and it was actually before the World Trade Center was the tallest. And then when they built the World Trade Center, it became known as the second tallest and now it`s the tallest.
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O`DONNELL: Did you hear any grief there? That was on 9/11. And it wasn`t grief that the president felt today when he got off Air Force One in Pennsylvania to attend the 9/11 commemoration of flight 93 that takes place there every year. There is only one president in our history who could arrive at such a solemn and tragic commemoration and behave as if he was arriving at a rally.
Donald Trump has attended the 9/11 commemoration services in his hometown of New York City only once in 2016 when he was running for president. Every year, family members who lost loved ones on 9/11 shared the difficult duty of reading the names of everyone who was killed at ground zero. It takes hours, and local television still covers every minute of it as they did today. And that`s when you see the real pain of 9/11, the real grief.
And on this day, none of that grief seems diminished by the passage of time. On this day, you see the faces and you hear the voices of the living victims of 9/11, the people who lost husbands and wives, sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, grandmothers and grandfathers.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Richard Michael Caproni, Jose Manuel Cardona, Dennis M. Kerry, Sr, Edward Carlino, Michael Scott Carlo, and my father and guardian angel, we miss you and love you always.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And my grandfather Joseph Piscatalo. Even though I never met you, I`ll never forget you. I love you.
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O`DONNELL: We`ll be right back.
O`DONNELL: With a category 4 hurricane bearing down on the Carolinas, the president saw the deadly storm threat today as a chance to brag about what a great job he did in the aftermath of the hurricanes in Puerto Rico. And he obviously did not feel a bit of grief for the 3,000 people killed by those hurricanes.
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TRUMP: The job that FEMA and law enforcement and everybody did working along with the governor in Puerto Rico, I think, was tremendous. I think that Puerto Rico was an incredible, unsung success.
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O`DONNELL: Jason Johnson is back with us. And Jason, sociopath is the word used to describe people who cannot feel the suffering of other people.
JASON JOHNSON, POLITICS EDITOR, THEROOT.COM: Yes, I think that`s a fair description. Also liar, monster, white nationalist, incompetent, unhinged. We have a whole SAT worth of vocabulary words that can describe this president. It`s bad enough that he talks about the loss of over 2,000 lives in a, you know, weather tragedy as being a heck of a good job.
But what`s worse is his administration lied about it. His administration tried to tell the rest of the American public that less than 100 people died. His administration is full of Republicans who tried to take money from FEMA and put it into ice. So it`s not that he just does not care, but he`s actively engaged in policies that will not mitigate the tragedy that Puerto Rico has experienced, and in fact makes the situation worse.
O`DONNELL: And Jason, the staff got an appropriate speech forum in a teleprompter in Pennsylvania today, but every other moment when he`s getting off the plane, it`s like he`s going to a rally. Even when he`s at the location, at this sacred location, he does this horrible thumbs up moment that is so disconnected to the event that he`s at, at the place that he`s visiting. And this is just a recurring phenomenon with him.
JOHNSON: Yes. I remember, Lawrence, the first time that the president went and visited Puerto Rico, for example, do you remember him tossing paper towels at people? He`s tossing paper towels. Every single opportunity this president has to heal the country or bring us together, if it`s not about him, if it`s not an opportunity for him to brag about himself, for him to bring the attention to himself, he doesn`t care.
And when you think of something like 9/11, which is 17 years of people suffering and tragedy, the cancer cases, all the things that have happened since and this president has nothing to say about those things. If only he had an opportunity to bring it to himself, that`s the only time he`s going to care.
O`DONNELL: Well, he brought it to himself once and he lied about it. He said he lost hundreds of friends on 9/11, and at least he has stopped telling that lie. Jason Johnson, 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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STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: Gary Cohn and General Mattis are portrayed in the book as fully aware that Trump doesn`t understand the importance of allies overseas, the value of diplomacy or the relationship between the military, the economy and intelligence partnerships with foreign governments. Something they referred to as the big problem, which, coincidentally, is also Trump`s secret service code name. Now, big problem. We got a big problem. We`ve got big problem incoming.
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O`DONNELL: Stephen Colbert gets tonight`s last word. "THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS STARTS NOW."
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