Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O'DONNELL Date: September 14, 2018 Guest: Jill Wine-Banks, Glenn Kirschner, David Corn
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST, MSNBC: That does it for us tonight. We will see you again on Monday. Now, it's time for "The Last Word" with Lawrence O'Donnell. Good evening, Lawrence. LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, THE LAST WORD HOST, MSNBC: Good evening, Rachel. You know how this show starts at 10:00 or I should say is supposed to start at 10:00, and every once in a while it starts 15 seconds later, 30 seconds later, whatever -- MADDOW: My fault, sorry. O'DONNELL: And it's a pretty organized and ritualistic thing, and that's the way it's supposed to work. But, we can change that. We can change it on the fly if we have to. And if something happens and there was some kind of giant breaking news event, we would deal with that whole concept differently. And the Senate Judiciary Committee can do exactly the same thing.
And that is what they did with Anita Hill when the confirmation hearing was over. Clarence Thomas' hearing was over. And it was reopened because of this dramatic new information. And Orrin Hatch is pretending tonight that there's some kind of schedule, there's some kind of thing that prevents them from reopening any of this on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and that is simply not true.
There is no time limit. They can take the rest of the year if they wanted to. But you're going it hear a lot of that, about, you know, it's over and time is up, and time is never up on the confirmation process. MADDOW: And, you know, with Professor Anita Hill personally weighing in on this today --
MADDOW: -- saying that she has personally experienced what happens when these things get weaponized against the accuser and there ought to be a way for people to approach the Senate when they have personal information that is relevant to an important nominee. That still has not been fixed since her time there.
It's an incredibly important point that you're making. One precedent that was set by her allegations against Clarence Thomas, which again she never expected to become public either. She never expected to have her name associated with those allegations, but she made them. It reopened the confirmation process, and it played out the way it did.
That is the closest thing we've got to a precedent here. I don't know what Republicans are going to try to do, but I think they're going to be a little bit towed along on this story by the fact that this story is going to continue to develop over the next few days.
O'DONNELL: It may be all up to Susan Collins what they do next. What might she demand from her own party or Lisa Murkowski. But, Rachel, we're going to begin tonight with the Paul Manafort plea agreement. And it's the agreement part -- the agreement of what Paul Manafort will deliver for his plea that has to have everybody named Trump, especially if the first name is Donald, whether it's senior or junior, very worried tonight.
MADDOW: It's breathtaking. Honestly, I mean, Lawrence, I am in Los Angeles tonight on a Friday night, which is weird. I am in California because I have the day off today because I'm supposed to be spending the weekend with my family out here.
O'DONNELL: I know that. MADDOW: I am not taking the night off. I am on T.V. from California because of that breathtaking cooperation agreement from Manafort. I totally believe it was possible he was going to plead guilty. I totally believe they would come up with maybe some limited cooperation deal, maybe that was a possibility. Never in a million would I have told you that he will have a full monty cooperation agreement.
It is breathtaking. It has got to be a terrifying day for the president and his family. And this is -- this is potentially a game changer. It's a really big deal.
O'DONNELL: And it turns out all that public praise from Donald Trump to Paul Manafort about what a brave man he is, an honorable man, and all of that couldn't quite carry Paul Manafort through this part of the process. MADDOW: And what happens next? I mean, Manafort is back in jail tonight, right? Thinking about his cooperation deal, thinking about his ultimate sentencing, thinking about how much he has to talk to prosecutors and investigators until he can get to a sentencing, until he can see a light at the end of the tunnel. I mean, his whole life has changed, but the president's life may very well change, too.
O'DONNELL: And the Mueller investigation might be turning a profit now with something over 20 million dollars in seized assets from Paul Manafort. This just might give them some extra lunch money. MADDOW: With that Trump Tower apartment being one of the things that Manafort had to forfeit, I do sort of imagine them moving like a little part of the Justice Department into that apartment.
MADDOW: You know, just like put some H.R. folks in there or some little thing. You know, some little aspect of the Justice Department just to remind everybody that actually that Paul Manafort apartment is now owned by the U.S. taxpayers. O'DONNELL: They'll think of something. Rachel, get out of there.
O'DONNELL: Go hang with the family.
MADDOW: I will.
O'DONNELL: Thanks for coming in tonight, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O'DONNELL: Thank you.
MADDOW: Yeah, appreciate it.
O'DONNELL: Well, Paul Manafort's guilty plea today might be the single worst development in Donald Trump's life and it might be the single worst development in Donald Trump, Jr.'s life, because Paul Manafort was in the room with Donald Trump, Jr. in Trump Tower during the presidential campaign meeting that Donald Trump, Jr. arranged with a group of Russians who promised dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Paul Manafort has promised to tell special prosecutor Robert Mueller every single thing that happened in that room, every word that Paul Manafort can remember was said in that room, and what Paul Manafort rembers might lead to the first federal criminal prosecution of the son of a president of the United States.
Paul Manafort could be the key witness in a case that would be entitled, the United States of America versus Donald Trump Jr., and President Trump could once again be identified as an unindicted co-conspirator in such a case if Paul Manafort and others can testify credibly that presidential candidate Donald Trump knew about that meeting and was a participant in a conspiracy to obtain dirt on Hillary Clinton from Russians.
And so the big news of the day for anyone named Donald Trump is that Robert Mueller has a new witness, a big new witness. And that is even bigger news than that witness saying in court today, I plead guilty. Paul Manafort spent this week telling special prosecutor's team everything he knows about every crime he has committed or every crime he knows about.
Some of Paul Manafort's crimes were described in court today by Andrew Wiseman of the special counsel's office. But Prosecutor Wiseman was careful to point out that nothing that he publicly described in court today includes anything that Paul Manafort has told the special prosecutor in his first week of cooperation with the special prosecutor.
So, there is a lot, lot more to come from Paul Manafort. And we know that the special prosecutor reached this plea bargain agreement with Paul Manafort today because Paul Manafort has already provided and will continue to provide valuable information to the special prosecutor.
The moment that officially changed Donald Trump and Donald Trump, Jr.'s lives came after Andrew Wiseman outlined the crimes that Paul Manafort confessed to this week: conspiracy, obstruction of justice, conspiracy against the United States.
Judge Amy Berman Jackson said to Paul Manafort, so are you prepared to tell me now whether you wish to plead guilty or whether you wish to go to trial? And Paul Manafort said, I am. And the judge said, what is your decision? And Paul Manafort said, I plead guilty.
And with that, every member of the Trump campaign team who has been charged by Robert Mueller has now pleaded guilty. Every single one of them. Robert Mueller and his team are undefeated against the Trump team.
And every one in the Trump team who was ever in a room with Paul Manafort or on the phone with Paul Manafort or sent an e-mail to Paul Manafort or received an e-mail from Paul Manafort has to try to fall asleep tonight wondering who's next. Who will Paul Manafort hand over to Robert Mueller?
Leading off our discussion now, Jill Wine-Banks, former assistant Watergate special prosecutor and an MSNBC legal contributor. And also joining us is former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner. And Jill, as Rachel mentioned at the top, there were a couple of ways for this to go today.
There wasn't a lot of suspense left in whether he was going to plead guilty. But he could have just walked in there and pleaded guilty. Could have just done that and sat back and hoped and waited for his pardon. But he didn't. He went all the way over the line and is now on team Mueller.
JILL WINE-BANKS, FORMER ASSISTANT WATERGATE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR, LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR, MSNBC: And you know what that says to me? That says how untrustworthy Donald Trump is, that his campaign advisor, his campaign chief couldn't rely on him for a pardon and had to take the chance of going with full disclosure to the prosecutor and cooperating. That's what it says to me.
And it's a big break because he's someone who was in at least several key meetings including of course the June meeting at Trump Tower which has been very much a focus of the investigation and could be part of the conspiracy to work with Russia on the campaign to affect the outcome of the election. And so it's a very important time for Mueller. And as you pointed out, it is 100 percent win for Mueller and zero for team Trump.
O'DONNELL: Glenn, first, your perspective on what we saw in court today.
GLENN KIRSCHNER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: So, Lawrence, I think it's a hugely consequential turn of events for both the Mueller investigation and for the president and his administration. When I got a hold of a copy of the plea agreement in the Manafort case earlier today, I was looking for one phrase, and I found it on page two, paragraph three.
Let me just read the legal (ph) and then talk about what it actually means. It says that no other charges will be brought against the defendant, Paul Manafort, for his heretofore disclosed participation in criminal activity.
In layman's terms, Lawrence, what that means is the following. When we meet with a defendant who is an aspiring cooperating witness, we interview them over and over again and we, frankly, try to wring dry every drop of information that the cooperator has about the criminal conduct of others but equally important, the criminal conduct of Mr. Manafort himself.
Because the last thing we want as -- I was a career prosecutor -- the last thing a prosecutor wants is for there to be any surprises about the crimes a cooperator committed before we make the decision to bring them on board as a cooperating witness.
And there's a benefit to the cooperator when he sits down with the prosecutors and provides all that information about his own criminal conduct. We put a term like this in his plea agreement, and it says, as long as you've told us about other crimes you've committed, you get a pass. You basically get immunity because we rolled it into today's plea agreement.
So what that means is he could have sat down and provided all sorts of information about him, Mr. Manafort, personally colluding with Russians to undermine the election, coordinating that with the president, with Don Jr., with Jared Kushner, with others. I'm not saying he did that. We have to wait and see.
But if he provided that information, that is probably what prompted Robert Mueller after the many meetings that they had, which we learned about in today's hearing -- Robert Mueller to say, you know what, Mr. Manafort, you brought enough value to the process as a cooperator that we are going to give you a plea agreement even after you've been convicted in one of your criminal cases.
Lawrence, that leads me to conclude Paul Manafort must have blockbuster information. He's provided it to the special counsel. And now we have to wait for the next very large shoe to drop.
O'DONNELL: Yeah. And Jill, to that point, in general terms, certainly in all of these kinds of agreements that I've ever seen and witnessed in court, the person -- the thing of value that they tend to be giving over is someone bigger than themselves. It's someone above them in the chain of command of whatever enterprise they're in. It is of value still to hand over material on people who are kind of below you in that target list by prosecutors.
But to Glenn's point, given how good a deal as you could describe it, how good a deal this is for Paul Manafort at this stage, given how clearly guilty he is, you certainly get the feeling that something large has been handed over to Robert Mueller this week.
WINE-BANKS: I think we can assume that that is true, that it would either be Jared Kushner or Donald Trump, Jr. or the president himself. There is, of course -- I want to caution there is the possibility that it was just I'm willing to take responsibility, I'm willing to plead guilty to my own crimes, I don't want to pay for a defense, I don't want to make the government pay for the prosecution, and I'm just giving up.
He's forfeiting almost all of his assets, his real estate, his bank accounts. So, he may just feel like, well, that's what I'm doing. And there may be nothing more. But given the language that was used in court in terms of the plea agreement itself, I agree with Glenn that it is very likely that he has told them quite a great deal.
And Glenn is right. You wouldn't take a plea agreement unless you had had a proffer of all the evidence that the witness has before you would agree to it. So I think we can look forward to many weeks and months of disclosures and new indictments that may be the result of this and to the investigations that will follow-up on the details that he provided to them in the proffer leading up to the plea agreement. O'DONNELL: Let's listen to some of the spin that Rudy Giuliani offered on Fox News Tonight, and then we will analyze what he had to say after we listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The plea is to crimes that have to do with Manafort's past. No involvement with President Trump, no involvement with the campaign, no involvement with Russia. And by the way, there's also no evidence of obstruction. There have been four guilty pleas now, and they're completely irrelevant.
(END VIDEO CLIP) O'DONNELL: Glenn, your reaction to that. KIRSCHNER: You know, Lawrence, I've heard this over and over again from either the president himself or Sarah Huckabee Sanders or Mr. Giuliani. They keep complaining and protesting with each guilty plea that's obtained, with each conviction that's obtained. They complain that that conviction, that guilty plea doesn't prove Russian collusion.
And, you know, I can envision the three of them sitting in a movie theater. And every time they watch another trailer, a preview of coming attractions, they sit there and they complain that this is not the movie, this is not the movie.
We all know this is not the movie. We all know these cases that have been brought thus far by Mr. Mueller are not the Russian collusion cases. But guess what? The movie is coming.
And the movie will be when Mr. Mueller makes that decision whether to issue a report that ultimately will be released to Congress about his findings or drop a great big conspiracy indictment on everybody who may have participated in a conspiracy with Russia to undermine our presidential elections and obstructed by perhaps covering it up.
That will be the movie. All of these other things are just the previews of things to come.
O'DONNELL: And let's consider Rudy Giuliani's most insane comment of the night to the Fox News audience. And I don't know how much of this they actually take as real. But Rudy Giuliani says he's hanging his head in shame because the Justice Department has found crimes and decided to prosecute those crimes. Let's listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GIULIANI: My head hangs in shame for the department that I gave 60 years of my life to, the Department of Justice, has this sort of (ph) ranking official in the Department of Justice, when I could proudly say it was a Department of Justice. And the only thing that can be done now is as relentless an investigation of all these people as they did to President Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP) O'DONNELL: Jill, your reaction to that.
WINE-BANKS: My reaction is that we have seen a march to the truth. We have seen cases build upon cases. And each person who has pled guilty has been from the Trump team and has said, I committed crimes. One of them said in court under oath that he committed a crime at the direction of the president himself.
You can't get any better than that. And the fact that all of these people have pled guilty shows how carefully Mueller has proceeded and how he has developed the evidence. All you have to do is read the information that Manafort pled guilty to today. It is a detailed layout of all of the things that he did, all the conversations he had, all the illegal transfers of money he had.
Mueller has facts, and just like Paula Duncan concluded in the first Manafort trial, although she is a loyal Trump supporter and although she said the investigation is a hoax and a witch hunt, she said, but the evidence against Manafort was real. Those were facts and I voted to convict him on 18 counts.
And I'm hoping that the American people will start to see the facts once Mueller either issues an indictment that names higher-ups or issues a report that names them and spells out in detail what they have done wrong. That's when people will start to see the truth and will turn their opinion and vote in the way that they should against the Trump team who has committed these crimes.
O'DONNELL: And Rudy Giuliani and the Trump team always seem to forget that Michael Flynn actually pleaded guilty to committing crimes in the White House while in the Trump administration. Jill Wine-Banks, Glenn Kirshner, thank you both for starting off our discussion tonight.
And when we come back, Paul Manafort is the latest Trump team member to plead guilty, but the first one who was in that Trump Tower meeting, the first one to plead guilty who was in the Trump Tower meeting. What happens now to Donald Trump, Jr., Jared Kushner, and everyone else who was in that meeting? That's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NORAH O'DONNELL, ANCHOR, CBS NEWS: So to be clear, Mr. Trump has no financial relationships with any Russian oligarchs?
PAUL MANAFOR, FORMER CAMPAIGN CHAIRMAN OF PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: That's what he said. That's what I said. Obviously, that's what our position is.
(END VIDEO CLIP) O'DONNELL: Paul Manafort is now giving a much clearer answer to that question to special prosecutor Robert Mueller and his staff. Paul Manafort is the first person who attended the Trump Tower meeting with Russians who has decided to cooperate with the special prosecutor.
Joining our discussion now, David Corn, Washington bureau chief for Mother Jones and the coauthor of the book "Russian Roulette" and an MSNBC contributor. And Craig Unger, journalist and author of the book "House of Trump, House of Putin."
David Corn, what does this mean to what we're going to be understanding eventually about that Trump Tower meeting? We have someone now from inside the meeting, who we also know was taking notes, who is now cooperating with Robert Mueller.
DAVID CORN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, MOTHER JONES: Well, there's a difference between what we will understand and what Bob Mueller will understand. Bob Mueller, you know, in theory will understand everything, what led up to the meeting, what happened in the meeting, and what Paul Manafort knows of any follow-up.
Remember, they had this meeting on June 9th, and then about a month or so later, the WikiLeaks implies part of a Russian operation, released the DNC hacked e-mails, and Manafort went on T.V. and said the Russians had nothing to do with any of this, this is all a hoax.
He started that line of defense when he'd been in a meeting that had been set up because the campaign had been told the Kremlin had a plot, had a scheme to help the Trump campaign. So he'll tell Bob Mueller supposedly everything he knows on that front. The question is, does it lead to a prosecution or public information for us to find out at some point in time? O'DONNELL: Craig Unger, what do you expect the special prosecutor's office to find out as a result of this plea?
CRAIG UNGER, AUTHOR AND JOURNALIST: Well, I think there are a couple of clues in the documents Mueller filed today, that if you pull them, the threads start to unravel. And they start to expose Trump's and Manafort's ties to the Russian mafia. Let me just mention a couple of them.
One is if you look at the documents, you'll see that Manafort laundered money through a company called the Lucicle Company. Well, that company was tied to a guy named Ivan Fursin, who has partnered with the most -- the brains behind the Russian mafia, a man named Semion Mogilevich. And Mogilevich's operatives has been around Trump for more than 35 years.
Trump started laundering money for the Russian mafia through Trump properties as early as 1984. The FBI chased Mogilevich's operatives all over Brooklyn and found that they actually lived in Trump Tower. And there have been Russian mafia operations based in Trump Tower for many of these years.
There's also a guy who's not mentioned by name but by his position. If you'll excuse my Ukrainian -- his real name is Serhiy Lyovochkin. He was chief of staff to President Yanukovych, who Manafort was working for. He, too, is part of Mogilevich's circle.
If you look at what they are really doing, it gets to the root of what I think this whole scandal is really about. It is that Russia is kleptocracy with Putin at the very top. They are stealing Russia's natural resources and profiting enormously from the Ukrainian energy trade, and they brought in Manafort to back them up politically in Ukraine, and that's where the money comes from.
O'DONNELL: And David Corn, this kind of -- Craig's answer to that pretty simple question is really extraordinary, and it shows you the kind of depth that's possible. I mean that's the tip of the iceberg of what Craig knows. Robert Mueller must be sitting on an even bigger iceberg at this point.
CORN: Well, you know, I hate the iceberg cliche, but I've used it for the Mueller probe, because time and time again, we've learned when he makes public filings that he's looking at things or discovered things that we didn't even know existed.
And to me a big question here is in this investigation is whether Mueller is digging deep into some of these financial issues. Trump's finances are very opaque, not just with any about any interactions with Russia but just in general. Big loans from Deutsche Bank, we don't fully understand the origin or why they exist.
And so, you know, that's the type of thing that if -- that Mueller has a team assembled who specializes in white collar crime or money laundering they could really dig into, and that Manafort might have some insight into.
We are still waiting to see. We don't have any public signs yet, whether that is one big part of the probe or not. But if it is, you know, this could go on for a long time and go much deeper than just Russia collusion.
O'DONNELL: And Craig, what is your view of what kind of exposure Donald Trump personally has on the Russian money laundering you've described? Is it possible that he didn't know who was buying these apartments and what money they were using to buy these apartments? UNGER: Well, it's absolutely possible or rather it's very difficult to prove what he does know. I certainly can't get inside his mind. But there is -- I'm not a lawyer, but there is a legal concept known as willful ignorance or willful blindness.
And when you look at the scale of money laundering, BuzzFeed reported that there were 1,300 condos, Trump-branded condos that were sold under conditions that appear to be money laundering. And I think a good prosecutor could make the case that that is not random or coincidental that this was a pattern and it was deliberate and done with knowledge.
O'DONNELL: David Corn, Craig Unger, thank you both for joining our discussion tonight. And coming up, The New Yorker is reporting more details about the woman who claims that Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, sexually assaulted her when they were both in high school. The New York Times has more details on it. But Republicans seem to think there is nothing to talk about here. That's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You confirmed three times in a row, and this is your fourth time, then you should be confirmed here. Never once were you attacked like this by anybody. And I know you, and the people who know you the best, and that involves hundreds of people, think the world of you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'DONNELL: And Orin Hatch thinks the world of Brett Kavanaugh. Today, Republican Senator Orin Hatch issued this statement, "I do not intend to allow Judge Kavanaugh's confirmation to be stalled because of an 11th hour accusation that Democrats did not see fit to raise for over a month. The claims are wholly unverifiable and come at the tail-end of a process that was already marred by ugly innuendo, dishonesty, and nastiest form of our politics. The American people deserve much better from the Senate as an institution."
And that is essentially the same defense, that Orin Hatch offered for Clarence Thomas who faced accusation from Anita Hill after his confirmation hearing was over. But because there are no time limits on how long the confirmation process can take, the senate judiciary committee then reopened for Clarence Thomas' hearings and heard from Anita Hill. After which, Clarence Thomas was then confirmed by the Senate 52-48. Before Anita Hill testified, Clarence Thomas was probably on his way to getting at least 80 votes in favor of his confirmation in the Senate.
The Senate judiciary committee has the same option now, as it did for Clarence Thomas. The committee can slow down the process and reopen the confirmation hearing if Judge Kavanaugh's accuser changes her mind and is willing to reveal herself publicly and testify about what she said in a confidential letter to a member of Congress about what Brett Kavanaugh did to her when they were both in high school.
"The New York Times" and "The New Yorker" reveals more of the details about that letter today. Writing in "The New Yorker," Ron Farrow and Jane Mayer report, "In the letter, the woman alleged that during an encounter at a party, Kavanaugh held her down and that he attempted to force himself on her." She claimed in the letter that Kavanaugh and a classmate of his, both of whom had been drinking, turned up music that was playing in the room to conceal the sound of her protests and that Kavanaugh covered her mouth with his hand. She was able to free herself.
In recent months the woman had told friends that Kavanaugh's nomination had revived the pain of the memory and that she was grappling with whether to go public with her story. She contacted her Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, a Democrat, sending her a letter describing her allegation. California Congresswoman Anna Eshoo then passed that letter along to California Senior Senator Diane Feinstein, the senior Democrat on the senate judiciary committee.
"The New Yorker" reports that the woman considered speaking publicly about her experience with Brett Kavanaugh, but quote "After the interactions with Eshoo's and Feinstein's offices, the woman decided not to speak about the matter publicly." Republican Senator Susan Collins had a pre-scheduled hour-long telephone discussion with Brett Kavanaugh today but Senator Collins made no comment, no public comment about that discussion or about the new accusation against Judge Kavanaugh. So what will the judiciary committee do next?
After this break, we will be joined by Jill Wine-Banks and Lisa Graves who is the former chief counsel for nominations on the Democratic staff of the Senate judiciary committee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONAN FARROW, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: Kavanaugh clamped a hand over her mouth and held her down and attempted to force himself on her. She did escape but she said in her communications and her letter to these individuals on the Hill that this was a traumatic incident. So much so that she had to seek psychological treatment for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'DONNELL: Joining us our discussion now, Lisa Graves, former chief counsel for nominations for the Democratic side of the Senate Judiciary Committee. She was a deputy assistant attorney general for the Department of Justice, and Jill Wine-Banks is back with us.
And Lisa, no one knows more about this process than you do. What happens next in the Senate Judiciary Committee?
LISA GRAVES, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE: Well, there's nothing stopping Senator Grassley from reopening the hearings, from having additional hearings or providing more time. As you pointed out, there's no rule that requires this process to go so fast. And, in fact, I know that with all this claims and issues on 11th hour allegation, the fact is that Brett Kavanaugh was nominated only on July 10th. It was less than 60 days before his hearings began, and they've been quite rushed given the many controversies in his background.
And so the Senate could have a closed session with the Senate Judiciary Committee to consider this further. There could be time for this victim to come forward or other victims to come forward and there should be actually more time for the entire nation to learn more about Brett Kavanaugh. Certainly, we know that numerous documents that the Senate Democrats have requested have not been provided.
And the documents thus far showed that he's been untruthful, even though he testified under oath about several matters to the Senate over the course of 2004, 2006 and now. And so I think there's more than enough reason to slow down and in fact stop this process from moving forward.
O'DONNELL: And Jill, it is so extraordinary. I mean Lisa points out that you can find things in Brett Kavanaugh's testimony that are simply not true. And some people are calling them lies. I'm not sure what else you'd call them. But when you have a nominee whose credibility has already been very successfully challenged as a truth teller in that hearing, and today he issues a statement denying these accusations. He's issuing that statement after a confirmation hearing has significantly weakened his credibility.
JILL WINE-BANKS, FORMER ASSISTANT WATERGATE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: Yes, I agree with everything Lisa said and with what you said, and I appreciate you saying, that there is no rule that forces this to go forward. We need to have a full investigation. We need to hold off a vote in the Senate until there is time for a full exploration of this. If he is innocent, we need to see that. If he's guilty, we need to see that.
And the fact about the memos that were stolen from the Democrats that he says, "Oh, I didn't know," that doesn't ring true to me. So there are a lot of issues besides this one that have been sort of shuffled under the rug and that need to be explored.
I would urge this woman, I know how hard it must be to come forward, but I really hope you will. I'm pleading with you to come forward and speak out on this because there is so much at stake. The times are different now. The Me Too Movement has made you able to be heard and believed in a way that Anita Hill didn't have a chance for. So please come forward and let us hear the whole story of this.
I also think it raises the issue of the time that Kavanaugh clerked for Kozinski who left the bench because of sexual misconduct in his chambers. And we need to know more about what Kavanaugh knew. I know he's denied that he knew anything but the knowledge was everywhere. People knew about it. How could he not have known? And if he did know, why did he do nothing? I think there are a lot of questions that need answering before the Senate votes on this.
O'DONNELL: And Lisa, there is criticism developing on both the Democratic side and on the Republican side about how Senator Feinstein has handled her end of it. Given what we know about it, what is your view about how Senator Feinstein has handled this?
GRAVES: Well, I have to say that this is almost the definition of being between a rock and a hard place. You have a victim who has come forward, who's asked for information not to be shared and, of course, it's necessary to honor her request for confidentiality. And yet you have this significant allegation that bears on the ability of this man, the appropriateness of this man to be appointed to the United States Supreme Court.
And we know through history with Anita Hill that we have someone who's on the Supreme Court in which there were credible allegations of his sexual misconduct, of sexual harassment. And I think that Anita Hill has certainly been vindicated over the course of time and yet we still have Justice Thomas on the court. And so these are very serious matters which is exactly why as Jill said there's no need to rush forward. We need to get to the bottom of this and the other matters.
Quite frankly, it was a digital Watergate what happened in the Senate with the Senate's own files being taken and stolen and then given in many instances to Brett Kavanaugh. And I do believe that he lied about what he knew and when he knew it. And I believe it's quite clear to me based on that episode and many more in terms of his answers in 2004 and 2006 that he lied under oath.
And that's one of the most serious things that can be alleged about a judge because the most important thing for a judge in this country and any country is that they be honest about the facts and law. And we have a man here who I think has demonstrated over and over again that he's not honest about the facts and law. And the fact is, is that you can't just be someone who can cite cases off the top of your head. That doesn't make you a good judge.
What makes you a good judge is that you're fair and honest and you're honest not just about the law but about facts and I don't think Brett Kavanaugh has been honest with the facts. And I think it's important to believe a woman who comes forward under these circumstances even if her identity is confidential.
O'DONNELL: Lisa, if you still had your old job at the Senate Judiciary Committee, I am sure at some point in the last few weeks it would have fallen to you to have a conversation somehow with this woman. What would you tell her?
GRAVES: I would tell her what Jill told her which is that it's so important to come forward if you can possibly come forward. Certainly, she would be attacked. Senator Grassley was also there at the time and he also attacked Anita Hill just like Orin Hatch. But there's so many more women who have come forward, who would Stand beside her, who would defend her against the squirrel's attacks of Republicans who've already been lining up with attacks on her. Her character is her own possession, and I know that she would be surrounded by millions of other women who would stand by her.
O'DONNELL: Lisa Graves and Jill Wine-Banks, thank you very much for joining us in this important discussion tonight. Appreciate it.
GRAVES: Thank you so much.
O'DONNELL: And when we come back, another bad news week for President Trump ending as other weeks have, with a guilty plea. But this week also ending with a challenge to his Supreme Court nominee, the kind of challenge we have not seen since Clarence Thomas' confirmation.
O'DONNELL: Things were looking bad enough for the Republicans with just 53 days until the midterm Congressional elections, but now President Trump's campaign chairman has pleaded guilty and become a cooperating witness with the special prosecutor and the president's nominee for the Supreme Court faces a new accusation of sexual assault when he was a teenager.
Joining our discussion now Evan Siegfried, Republican strategist and the author of GOP, GPS: How to Find Millennials and Urban Voters the Republican Party Needs to Survive. And David Corn is back with us.
And Evan, from the Republican perspective of the polling, is about as bad as it gets, 538 is generic congressional ballot average Democrats 48.9 percent, Republicans 39.8 percent. See, that's the highest, that's the best number the Democrats have had since Trump has been in office.
EVAN SIEGFRIED, AUTHOR, GOP GPS: Yes, it is. And we've been having terrible weeks as Republicans and part of it is due to the president and part of it is due to us not standing up to him as a Republican body in the legislature and being an accurate check. But I have been actually going through the data of voter registrations throughout the country, comparing them in 2014 and 2010, and I'm seeing a great deal of enthusiasm among voters. In Colorado itself, new voter registrations at this time are up 333 percent over what they were in --
O'DONNELL: How is that going by party?
SIEGFRIED: That is going where more people are registering as Democrats and more people who are likely Democratic voters such as younger voters and women are registering, outpacing men. And it's becoming a big problem. In Colorado, the Republican party has lost registered voters and the Democrats have gained 23,000. And then you are seeing it in Iowa. You're seeing it in Minnesota. You're seeing it in Pennsylvania. These are all states that require this.
And I think that people are not really realizing that in addition to these suburban white women who are going to voting against Republicans and have already in special elections since 2017, younger voters especially millennials are going to turn out.
O'DONNELL, CO-AUTHOR, RUSSIAN ROULETTE: And David Corn, it seems like the Brett Kavanagh story certainly is going to still be with us next week and after that because next week is just at the moment is the scheduled vote in the judiciary committee, that there is still time after that before the vote on the Senate floor. And so we don't know what damage is going to be done to Brett Kavanagh or to the Republicans in the next week with that story.
DAVID CORN: I mean look at it this way, Lawrence. If you are not part of the basiest base for Trump, what appeals to you these days from Trump or the Republican party? It is either chaos, unhinged tweets or you know you got the Brett Kavanagh story which may or may not explode on the basis of these allegations but that in of itself only appeals to his Evangelical base.
If you're in the middle, if you had any doubt, a lot of voters voted for Trump in 2016 would like "I want to roll the dice a little bit. I don't like Hillary. He's kind of wild but let me see what he does. And those people are not rushing to embrace the Republican party. The Republican party doesn't even exist anymore, no consistent ideology, no consistent agenda except tax cuts for the rich. It's really the Trump party.
Evan, you are saddled with this. I know you don't want to be but this election is going to be a referendum. And the only thing the Republicans have going for them, two things. One is Gerrymandered districts and voter suppression tactics. Other than that, the wind and everything else is going against the GOP.
O'DONNELL: And Evan, the only known political strategy, if we can call it that, for a party when there are problematic investigations going against them on their side is to simply stay absolutely silent about the investigations and talk about other things. Donald Trump can't stay silent about this investigation of him, his administration, his campaign. And so the Republicans out there who are trying to campaign and trying to avoid that subject get hit with it every day by Donald Trump.
SIEGFRIED: They do, but they haven't seen the tweets as the excuse goes. But I think that Republicans we are trying to talk about other things such as immigration as well as fire up the base by saying, "We need you to turn out because we will be the check on the impeachment when Democrats take the house and go unhinged."
But I think that other thing is I think a lot of the Republicans tuned out the investigation is because it's very intricate. And at the same time, they're looking at the economy which Republicans are trying to boast off of but they are not feeling the economy. There is a disconnect between how great the economy is and how people are doing. When you ask the question in polling, are you better off than you were a year ago or two years ago? Most people say they are either the same or worst off. It is only in the high teens that they say they are better off if they're not a Republican member of my party's base.
But it is also with the tax cuts you are seeing this. We don't really have much to hang our hats on other than Neil Gorsuch. And with the Brett Kavanagh hearing, I'm not going all that much and saying that there is credibility in the sexual harassment allegations. I need the woman to come forward. We saw it happen with Roy Moore. We were able to judge his accuser's credibility.
And until I hear that and until I see that Dianne Feinstein unredact the name and actually shares this with everyone, I am skeptical but I want to know more.
O'DONNELL: Well, it isn't up to Senator Feinstein redacting. She is under a pledge to the woman to not do that. But David, as Evan points out, I mean there just isn't a version of anything that is working for the Democrats including this rushed confirmation process.
CORN: You mean Republicans.
O'DONNELL: For the Republicans, including this rushed confirmation process for Supreme Court Justice.
CORN: No. Midterm elections, you know this, Lawrence, are an amalgamation of a series of local elections when often local personalities of the candidates and local issues have a big role to play, a dominant role to play. But they also occur within overarching narratives that either go with the wind or go against the wind. And right now, the Republicans have no narrative other than what is up with Trump and that doesn't work for them.
O'DONNELL: Evan Siegfried and David Corn, thank you both for joining us tonight. Tonight's last word is next.
O'DONNELL: Time for tonight's last word.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: Trump has had major problems with the Department of Justice, mainly the justice part. But here is the thing, they don't think anyone can get confirmed if Sessions needs to be replaced. And on top of that, no one in the GOP wants the job. When asked about it, Senator John Cornyn said, "We already have an attorney general. I love my job." Lindsey Graham responded, "No, I like being a Senator. There are plenty of more qualified people than me, bunches of them, thousands." And Rand Paul replied, "What is that Attorney General. I am Hans, a humble German tourist with no opinions." I like that Hans guy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'DONNELL: Steven Colbert gets tonight's last word. "THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS" starts right now.
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