Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: September 19, 2018 Guest: Kristine Lucius, Lisa Graves, Cecile Richards
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
December 18th was going to be a Christmas shopping night for me, but, OK, I`ll be here. I will be here December 18th. That`s in.
Rachel, you know what, I`ve got to say I was taking some notes here. And when you said the highest ranking member of the Trump administration to plead guilty, I was so deep in Kavanaugh that I said what and had forgotten about this name named Michael Flynn. Brett Kavanaugh has taken up that space.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": I know. You know, and between now and December 18th, we`re going to get all sorts of interesting filings around his sentencing in which prosecutors will tell us in public facing documents how much he has cooperated. So, we`re between now and when he gets sentenced we`re about to learn a lot about how Flynn has factored in this case. Which should be interesting in terms of understanding where Mueller and his team is at.
O`DONNELL: We`ve now embarked most of an hour discussing the lies the members on the Senate Judiciary Committee are now trying to sell to the public, and I`ve got a couple of former Senate Judiciary Committee staffers to help me with that. So, that`s what we`re up to.
MADDOW: Well done, my friend. Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
Well, tonight, Senate Republicans are trying to bully a woman into testifying to the Senate Judiciary Committee on their terms. And the terms the Republicans are offering Professor Christine Blasey Ford are worse, they are worse than the terms that same Senate Judiciary Committee offered to Professor Anita Hill in similar circumstances 24 years ago. And there`s no other word for it, I`m sorry, there`s no word for what Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley, is trying to do to Dr. Ford. It is the Senate`s version of bullying.
Senate chairman have bullying powers. And Chuck Grassley is trying to use his. Chuck Grassley is desperately trying to create public rationales for what he is doing that sound reasonable. But they only sound reasonable if you know absolutely nothing about Senate procedure, Senate committee procedure and the history of Chuck Grassley`s own Judiciary Committee, and most importantly Chuck Grassley`s personal history.
Most Republican members of the Senate do not understand Senate procedure, in fact. In fact, Democrats either. They do not understand Senate Judiciary Committee procedure, not really. And they do not understand Senate Judiciary Committee history, very few of them do. And only one of them knows Chuck Grassley`s personal history with this subject.
And that is the 84-year-old Republican Senator Orrin Hatch who sits beside the 85-year-old Chuck Grassley in the Senate Judiciary Committee now. They are the two Republicans on committee who have been here before. They are the two Republicans who personally bullied Professor Anita Hill when she came before that same committee to testify against Clarence Thomas` nomination to the Supreme Court by a Republican president because she said he had committed repeated acts of sexual harassment against her in the workplace and elsewhere.
They are the only two Republicans still sitting on that committee 27 years later. Twenty-seven years after disgracing themselves when Anita Hill testified to the committee. They`re still there. Anita Hill`s accusations against Clarence Thomas were investigated by the FBI. And at the time everyone thought that was a reasonable thing to do, it was the only thing to do.
And the FBI`s investigation only took a couple of days. No one said we don`t have time for an FBI investigation. And no one said that because no one would have believed it back then. It would have been like standing up in the Senate and saying the earth was flat. Everyone in the Senate knows there is no deadline for a committee confirmation vote and there is no deadline for a confirmation vote by it full Senate.
Chuck Grassley is trying now to pretend there is some kind of deadline that does not allow the time for an FBI investigation that we know only takes a couple of days. And the very best witness against Chuck Grassley on this lie is Chuck Grassley.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R), IOWA: When the chairman of the Judiciary Committee and when the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee learned of these allegations, the FBI was immediately ordered to conduct an investigation. That investigation was completed before the Senate Judiciary Committee voted on Friday, September 27, 1991.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Chuck Grassley.
When the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, when ranking member of the Judiciary Committee learned of Anita Hill`s accusations the FBI was immediately ordered to conduct an investigation. And Chuck Grassley thought that was exactly the right thing to do back when he was a junior member of the Judiciary Committee.
Orrin Hatch was on the Judiciary Committee when Anita Hill testified. And he could not resist pouring over the details publicly over the pornography that Anita Hill says Clarence Thomas told her about at work. Senator Hatch gained enough seniority in the Senate to eventually become chairman of the Judiciary Committee before he moved on to become chairman of another committee.
And here is what Orrin Hatch said about the FBI investigation of Anita Hill`s accusations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: Chairman Biden and the ranking member Thurman, when they heard about this the first time, they immediately ordered this FBI investigation, which was a very right thing to do. It`s the appropriate thing to do. They did what every other chairman and ranking member have done in the past. And the investigation was done and it was a good investigation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: They immediately ordered this FBI investigation, which was a very right thing to do. That is kind of uniquely Orrin Hatch verbiage. A very right thing to do.
It`s the appropriate thing to do. They did that. They did what every other chairman and ranking member have done in the past and what Orrin Hatch said there was true. It was true then. It`s true now, but Orrin Hatch won`t say it now.
Now, when these two old men of the Senate, Orrin Hatch and Chuck Grassley, lie to us now, they lie as if they don`t know that the video still exists. They lie as if they have forgotten there is a congressional record of every word they`ve ever spoken on the committee and on the Senate floor. Chuck Grassley and Orrin Hatch both believed that an investigation that only lasted a few days was the appropriate thing to do in response to Anita Hill`s accusations. And now, they`re saying there`s no reason to do that before hearing Dr. Ford`s testimony.
This means that Senator Grassley`s investigation to Dr. Ford to testify to the committee is being issued with malice. Chuck Grassley won`t even give her what he thought was appropriate for Anita Hill. Before he then abused Anita Hill. He personally did in that hearing. And we saw what they did to Anita Hill. We saw what those Republican senators did to Anita Hill when she came into their hearing room.
Dr. Ford says Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her, tried to rape her, she believes. Brett Kavanaugh says that never happened, nothing like that ever happened. One of them, one of those two people wants the FBI to investigate and the other one doesn`t.
Why isn`t Brett Kavanaugh demanding an investigation? Why? Why not? Why doesn`t (AUDIO GAP) to submit to the best (AUDIO GAP) investigators we have, and why does Dr. Ford want to submit to an investigation by the FBI? Why does she want to do that? And why do the Republicans on the Senate want to save Brett Kavanaugh from ever facing an FBI question about this?
Every reason that they give is a lie -- every single reason. You just saw Orrin Hatch say it`s the appropriate thing to do. You saw Chuck Grassley say that that is exactly what was done when the Judiciary Committee learned about Anita Hill`s accusations against Clarence Thomas.
The Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee and all of the Republicans in the Senate, all of them, every one of them, every single one of them is now lying about not needing an FBI investigation. That is a lie that every single Republican in the United States Senate has now agreed to tell.
Why should Dr. Ford accept worse conditions issued to her with malice for her Senate testimony than what the very same committee gave to Anita Hill? Chuck Grassley is pretending that he has given Dr. Ford options, the option to testify privately, which is not something she`s requested or the option to testify publicly. That`s the way of pretending that Dr. Ford has some menu of multiple choice in front of her about how to do this, but the option she wants is more time because she and her family have essentially become fugitives trying to avoid the glare of this story and the death threats that come with it. And she wants what Anita Hill got.
She wants an FBI investigation. She wants a basic, decent approach to this subject first by the FBI. Chuck Grassley won`t do that. Chuck Grassley says no FBI investigation.
And the only possible time on the calendar that exists for this is Monday at 10:00 a.m. No other time is possible. And in his bullying letter today to Dr. Ford`s lawyers, Chuck Grassley demanded something even more impossible to comply with, even more bullying under these circumstances than the Monday 10:00 a.m. appointment in Washington 2,500 miles away from her home.
In the last line of Chuck Grassley`s letter to Dr. Ford`s lawyers, Chuck Grassley says Dr. Ford`s prepared testimony and biography are due to the committee by 10:00 a.m. on Friday, September 21st, if she intends to testify on Monday. Chuck Grassley is demanded Dr. Ford`s full written testimony by 10:00 a.m. on Friday of this week so that he and the committee members can have it all weekend and of course start leaking it at 10:00 a.m. on Friday morning.
Chuck Grassley didn`t expect to be here. Even when Dr. Ford`s accusations first became public, he was still sure he was going to be able to hold a vote on this nomination tomorrow. Chuck Grassley began this week along the rest of the Senate Republicans believing they were going to have a vote on this nomination tomorrow.
Chuck Grassley began this week, along with the rest of the Senate Republicans, believing that they were going to have the committee vote on this nomination tomorrow. They believe that they would not have to delay anything, and they were wrong. They were wrong about what was going to happen next.
Chuck Grassley now thinks he knows what`s going to happen next. But Chuck Grassley has misjudged the strength of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford every step along the way to where we are now.
And so, we -- we know now how strong and how smart Dr. Ford is in the way she has handled herself this week and dealt with this committee -- her very first week of public life in America.
But here`s what we don`t know. How stupid is the American news media? This is one of those times we have to ask that question. And I don`t mean Fox News. I mean reporters and media organizations who should know better. How many of them will stick their mic microphones out there and let Chuck Grassley get away with any lie he wants to tell about there being no time for an FBI investigation?
This is when voters need the news media because voters cannot drop everything they`re doing at work and rush to Washington and occupy the halls of the Russell Senate office building or the Dirksen Senate office building and tell those senators how they people. It is the Washington press corps now that has a job to do and it`s an important job and only they can do it. And that job is not to simply facilitate and pass along the outright lies of Chuck Grassley and Orrin Hatch and now all of the Republican senators who are all lying about the fact that there`s no time for an FBI investigation.
The news media`s job now is to penetrate and expose that lie. That is a lie. And any member of the news media who accepts that lie unchallenged by any Republican member of the Senate is complicit in that lie.
The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee is on his way to committing a crime against the truth in his committee. And I`m no longer sure that Chuck Grassley even knows that. I`m no longer sure Chuck Grassley has any memory of a single word he said during the Clarence Thomas hearings.
I worked with Chuck Grassley when I was on the Democratic staff for the Senate Finance Committee in 1990s. And on that committee, Chuck Grassley was always reasonable, if occasionally cantankerous participant in the committee`s work, and he almost always voted against everything I was trying to move through that committee, but I never doubted Chuck Grassley`s integrity and his work on the finance committee at that time. But I am sorry to say Chuck Grassley has stayed in the Senate way too long.
Listen. Listen to this. Listen to the very first words that Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, spoke today when he was asked why he opposed an FBI investigation this time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRASSLEY: Just so you guys and gals all understand -- maybe I`m supposed to say guys and gals, maybe I better say men and women.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Yes, senator Grassley, it`s 2018. We call them women now.
Joining our discussion now, Kristine Lucius, a former staff director for the Senate Judiciary Committee. She`s the executive vice president of the Leadership Conference.
And Lisa Graves, co-director of documented. She`s a former chief counsel for nominations for the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee on the Democratic side. She was deputy assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice.
And, Kristine, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Lisa has been with us before, and I -- it is just the time when we need the expertise of former staffers on the Senate Judiciary Committee to guide us through where we are now.
And I want to get your reaction to the Republicans on this committee all now including Jeff Flake who seem to be sounding reasonable earlier in the week holding onto this position there`s absolutely no time for an FBI investigation.
KRISTINE LUCIUS, FORMER STAFF DIRECTOR, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Lawrence, I think you`re right. I think it`s absurd. And as you said at the contrast, as bad as Anita Hill was treated by the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991, Dr. Blasey Ford is being treated even worse by Chairman Grassley and for two reasons. You noted one of the reasons, which is she asked that the FBI do its investigation first. And the tapes that you just ran show that Senator Grassley and Senator Hatch both talked about that being a long-standing precedent, that being the obvious first step and exactly what needs to happen next.
Regardless, Chuck Grassley is denying Dr. Blasey Ford that, and apparently the administration is denying it as well. And I think that will cause a lot of people to wonder why? Why don`t they want the FBI to go out and investigate these claims? Dr. Blasey Ford wants to investigate it.
But the second thing that Chairman Grassley is doing to treat her even worse than Anita Hill is he is saying that only two people can testify, only Dr. Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh. That is worse treatment than Anita Hill received. There were outside witnesses that she was able to call that corroborated her account.
They are not allowing Dr. Ford to do the same thing, which really shows what are they hiding? It really causes that to come into light, that, you know, as bad as Anita Hill was treated, that they`re doing even worse to Dr. Blasey Ford, and the question is why? What are they hiding?
O`DONNELL: I want to read Dr. Ford`s lawyers response to Senator Grassley tonight. Issued a statement saying the committee`s stated plan to move forward with a hearing that has only two witnesses is not a fair or good faith investigation. There are multiple witnesses whose names have appeared publicly and should be included in proceeding. The rush to a hearing is unnecessary and contrary to a committee discovering is truth.
And, Lisa, as Christine just said and a point I`ve made, they are offering Dr. Ford much worse terms, much worse circumstance than they offered Anita Hill. And we know how badly the Anita Hill hearing went, and you would think that this committee had learned something from that, but it seems like what they learned from it was don`t even be as fair to the witness as we were to Anita Hill.
LISA GRAVES, FORMER STAFFER, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well, it`s really shocking as Christine said and as you`ve pointed out, they`ve concocted some idea that it`s unprecedented to seek FBI, a follow-on set of work by the FBI, supplemental investigation to examine this when their own words reveal how false those statements are. And the Department of Justice is complicit in echoing them, that this is somehow outside the purview of the background investigation.
Kristine and I between us have read hundreds of FBI files. We know this is not how the process works. The American people are being lied to by Senator Grassley about this process. And I was shocked to hear him say this was some sort of separation of powers issue, that they couldn`t commandeer the executive branch to do this investigation.
The fact is there`s never been a time in which a ranking member and chairman have not agreed to request information in circumstances like this where further investigation is obviously necessary. And Lord knows that Brett Kavanaugh has time on his hands. He spent the last three days ensconced at the White House doing murder board basically to try to figure out what he`s going to say, what level of umbrage he`s going to take, how he`s going to answer questions about something he claims not to know about. He could have been interviewed already.
But the chairman is seemingly standing in the way of that precedent and lying to the American people about this and presumably to other members of that committee. Jeff Flake is being sold a bill of goods if he believes Senator Grassley about the president on this committee. What`s unprecedented is to have this matter not go back to the FBI for further investigation by people who are professionals and know how to do just that.
O`DONNELL: And, Kristine, we`re now seeing in effect Jeff Flake and Susan Collins gang up on Dr. Ford saying, well, of course she should show up on Monday at 10:00 a.m., as if there`s absolutely no other space on the calendar for this.
LUCIUS: Yes, it`s absurd that this would have to happen next Monday. What would happen in the normal course of a bipartisan process is that the chair and ranking would work with the witnesses to make sure that they could make it.
What I found surprising this week is you had Chairman Grassley announce that she was coming when we now know that there was no agreement, there was no back and forth discussion with her to accommodate this survivor of sexual assault. So it just seems like a completely different process than Lisa or I were involved in when we worked on the committee.
And one other point I`d like to make. You mentioned your experience, Lawrence, when Senator Grassley was on the finance committee when you were there. My experience with Senator Grassley when I was on the committee is he was really independent, he was principled, he kept his word, and also he likes to really protect whistleblowers.
What I am surprised about here is how he is treating what I consider to be a whistleblower, which is Dr. Blasey Ford, risking everything to come forward and tell her story. And he`s not treating her with the same accord that I saw him treat whistleblowers over the years I worked in the committee.
So, it`s particularly surprising to me because how he`s acting in this instance, because I have seen him over the years be very protective of the confidentiality or the need for protection for whistleblowers who are risking their careers and their privacy to come forward to inform the committee.
O`DONNELL: And, Lisa, I want to get your reaction about that and your personal view of both Senators Grassley and Hatch. And I want to throw in parentheses here, in the Senate Finance Committee, where I worked with both of them. I have to say it was a very good working relationship. They were on the other side of almost all the issues, but they were responsible and everyone thought they were solid, responsible Republicans on that side of the table.
And we never had the slightest reason to question their integrity about anything. It`s a very different environment and intentions. So, it disappointments me greatly to be saying these things about either one of them and to be saying it about both of them bothers me a lot.
But, Lisa, tell me about your experience with both Senator Grassley and Senator Hatch.
GRAVES: Well, having observed them up close, what I can tell you is whatever solicitousness they display in trying to reach a compromise in legislation, on the issue of judicial nominations, they`ve adopted an extremely hard line. That hard line has basically either forced them or compelled to break rule after rule after rule in order to force these judges on the court, on the lower court level, as well as now for the Supreme Court vacancy.
When it comes to the judicial appointments process, no rule is allowed to stand in their way, no history, no precedent, no practice. And there`s some irony there, where you have a person being chosen to go the U.S. Supreme Court to interpret our laws being put on the court potentially in violation of almost every norm and practice and precedent of the Senate and Senate Judiciary Committee.
O`DONNELL: Lisa Graves, and Kristine Lucius, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really need your expertise on this. We really appreciate it. Thank you very much.
LUCIUS: Thank you so much.
GRAVES: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, the president attacked his attorney general again today, no doubt with the attempt of firing him after the midterm elections.
And Cecil Richards will join us with her experience testifying to hostile Republicans in Congress and what that means for Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.
And later, more on the investigation that Brett Kavanaugh and his Republican supporters seem to be so very, very afraid of.
O`DONNELL: Brett Kavanaugh has been accused of perjury in his confirmation hearing when he answered questions about his involvement in e-mails that were stolen from the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee and provided to Brett Kavanaugh when he was working in the Bush White House.
The whole truth and nothing but the truth is not exactly Brett Kavanaugh`s style as a witness in his confirmation process. The committee asked for all of Brett Kavanaugh`s speeches and he gave them those speeches including a written copy of a speech that he delivered at Catholic University Law School.
But he left out what is now a very important lie. No now, was that lying to the committee to leave out that lie? Was that just an oversight?
Here it is. You decide.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE NOMINEE: Three classmates of mine at Georgetown Prep were graduates of this law school in 1990 and are really, really good friends of mine, Mike Bidwill, Dan Urgo, and Phil Merkle, and they were good friends of mine then and are still good friends of mine as recently as this weekend when we were all on e-mail together. But fortunately, we had a good saying that we`ve held firm to this day as the dean was reminding me before -- before the talk, which is what happens at Georgetown Prep stays at Georgetown Prep. That`s been a good thing for all of us I think.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And that was not in the written version of the speech that he gave to the committee, what happens at Georgetown Prep, stays at Georgetown Prep. That`s been a good thing for all of us, he said. That wasn`t in there.
Today, the former president of Planned Parenthood tweeted this: Any woman has been called before a Republican led panel knows it`s not about fact- finding. It`s political theater masquerading as a search for the truth.
Joining us now, Cecile Richards, former president of Planned Parenthood.
Cecile, you better than most people know what Dr. Ford is in for if she does raise her right hand and take the oath and testify to this committee. What would you be telling Dr. Ford tonight about what`s coming?
CECILE RICHARDS, FORMER PRESIDENT, PLANNED PARENTHOOD: Well, I mean, I think she is fully aware. I think this is woman obviously thinking about what she does. And I have respect for her and how she handles herself. I just know just in the four hours I spent before a Republican committee that it was not a fact-finding hearing. It was not an effort to get to the truth. It was actually an opportunity for members of Congress to preen and strut before the TV audience, and frankly to try to humiliate me and other women who have come before them.
That is -- that`s the dynamic, and I think that`s why, of course, the irony that they are refusing to allow the FBI which actually is a fact-finding organization and agency to investigate this matter makes it even more suspicious to me. I think what they`re really trying to do is setup political theater, and she`s very smart to be careful how she goes about this.
O`DONNELL: And I want to read you something that Dean Heller, Republican senator from Nevada, said today on a conference call that has now been reported, a conference call to Nevada Republicans. And this is certainly an inside look how the men certainly of the Republican Senate see this. He said we`ve got a little hiccup here with the Kavanaugh nomination, we`ll get through this and we`ll get off to the races.
And so, for him it`s a little hiccup.
RICHARDS: No, exactly. I mean, look, she would be coming before a committee that included Senator Lindsey Graham, who has called this a drive-by shooting. We certainly have heard from Senator Hatch who thinks somehow she`s just mixed up.
So, it`s not that she`s coming before a group of people who are impartial who actually want to get to the truth. If they wanted to get to the truth, they`d let the FBI investigate this as she`s asked. But instead, they`re trying to jam this nomination through as we`ve seen. And when you look at Merrick Garland who, of course, was nominated and spent 300 days trying to keep from actually entertaining his nomination.
So I think that this is a committee that is already stacked against her politically, and they are looking to jam her, to bully her. And I think she`s wise to be really smart and thoughtful about how she goes through this process.
O`DONNELL: I mean, to say we have to have you here on Monday at 10:00 A.M., but oh, by the way, make sure you have all of your whole written statement for us Friday at 10:00 A.M. is to say we don`t want your best testimony, we don`t want you prepared, we don`t want you rested, we don`t want you to get outside the bubble of madness that you`ve been captured in by the glare of this story since it became public. And there`s Susan Collins encouraging all of this. Susan Collins is encouraging all of Chuck Grassley`s bullying here.
RICHARDS: It`s been very discouraging to see what Senators have said and treating her with suspicion as opposed to someone who`s actually trying -- coming forward and doing her civic duty to talk about someone who`s been nominated, not just for an average judgeship, for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. And I think the important thing too, Lawrence and I know you`re picking up on this because every woman are paying attention.
And if anyone on that committee thinks that women aren`t noticing this, they should just wait until November 6, because women are upset. They`re sick of seeing women bullied. They`re sick of seeing women not being treated with fairness and listening to our stories. So I hope the Republicans on this committee are really, really thinking carefully about how they treat this woman.
O`DONNELL: Celine Richards, thank you very much.
RICHARDS: Yes, good to see you again.
O`DONNELL: Really appreciate it.
RICHARDS: Thanks a lot.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, more on the FBI investigation and why Brett Kavanaugh is afraid, apparently, of talking to FBI agents because lying to FBI agents is a crime.
O`DONNELL: Before Professor Anita Hill testified to the Senate judiciary committee accusing Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment in the Supreme Court confirmation hearing, the president of the United States, George H.W. Bush ordered the FBI to investigate Professor Hill`s accusations. The FBI interviewed Anita Hill about those accusations. The FBI interviewed Clearance Thomas about those accusations and filed a report which was immediately handed over to the Senate judiciary committee.
The president ordered the FBI to do that investigation because the chairman of the judiciary committee Joe Biden called the then White House Counsel C. Boyden Gray and demanded an FBI investigation and the Republican White House Counsel immediately agreed, of course, that there should be an FBI investigation.
The Trump White House Counsel Don McGahn is now the man shepherding the Kavanaugh nomination through the Senate. He is at Brett Kavanaugh`s side every minute of the day, but Don McGahn is no C. Boyden Gray so we don`t have an FBI investigation. And Donald Trump has no idea what the job of the president is and so we still don`t have an FBI investigation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Your reaction to Ford calling for an FBI investigation? Will you order one?
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, it would seem that the FBI really doesn`t do that. They`ve investigated --
REPORTER: They would if you ask them to, Mr. President.
TRUMP: They`ve investigated about six times before and it seems that they don`t do that.
REPORTER: They will do it if you ask them to. Would you consider asking them?
TRUMP: Well, I would let the senators take their course. Let the senators do it. They`re doing a very good job. And really, it`s up to the Senate and I really rely on them. I think they`re going to do a good job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: No, it`s not up to the Senate. An FBI investigation of a possible rape attempt, in this case, is actually up to the self-confessed sexual assaulter who is currently the president of the United States.
Joining our discussion now Jill Wine-Banks, a former assistant Watergate special prosecutor and also joining us Joyce Vance, a former U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama and a professor at the University of Alabama School of Law. Both are MSNBC legal contributors.
And Jill, you have a situation, two people in a room in high school talking about what happened in that room. One says, "He tried to rape me", and the other one says, "Nothing like that ever happened" but only one of them wants an FBI investigation. What does that tell us about these two people`s approach to finding the truth now?
JILL WINE-BANKS, FORMER ASSISTANT WATERGATE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: It says a lot about it. What it says is one of them knows that the facts will support her and the other one is afraid what the investigation will show. Otherwise, both of them would be asking for the investigation. And there were three people in the room, not just two and all three need to testify.
Although, right now the investigation in front of the Senate is a hoax and a sham. It is totally unfair. It is structured with the senators already having said, "Well, she`s mixed up. I don`t believe it happened." That`s not how we should be going into a hearing. It needs to be a full and fair hearing. It is a not a he said-she said. It is not two witnesses. It is all the witnesses that the FBI can find through a thorough investigation before the hearing starts.
That`s what we need. That`s what justice demands. That`s what truth demands. It`s what respect for women demand. And women will be listening and will be watching and will vote in accordance with what the Senate does now.
O`DONNELL: Let`s once again let Orrin Hatch of 1991 prove to you tonight that the Orrin Hatch of today is lying about there being no time for an FBI investigation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ORRIN HATCH, (R) UTAH: I`m not going to be happy with just an ethics investigation. I don`t think anybody is. I want you to order an FBI investigation. I want an investigation by real appropriate non-Senate staffers. I want some people who aren`t affiliated with the Senate to look into this matter because I think that`s the only way we even have the slightest chance anyway of getting to the bottom of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And Joyce Vance, today, Chuck Grassley`s saying, "No, no, no. The Republican Senate staffers on the committee are the best investigators for this."
JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, he certainly made the right case for it way back when. There`s no doubt that the FBI, the professionals that`s conducting background investigations have a role to play here, and keeping them from playing that role is in many ways obstructing this investigation and keeping the senators who will have to vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh from having critical information that they need to fulfill their constitutional duty.
The FBI does this quickly. Everybody who`s worked for the Justice Department has seen a rush come through on a judicial confirmation investigation. They can do it expeditiously. It won`t delay unnecessarily. And at the same time, it will give Dr. Ford the time that she needs and the time that she deserves, quite honestly, as a non-lawyer who`s never testified on the Hill before to prepare her testimony, to understand the process and to appear so she along with every other witness and all of the information that the FBI uncovers can be presented to senators.
O`DONNELL: And Jill, there were two reasons why the Bush White House ordered the FBI to investigate Anita Hill`s accusations. One was they actually had some confidence in their nominee and that their nominee was telling the truth. And the other was they couldn`t possibly expect the public to allow this confirmation to go forward or the Senate to go forward without an additional FBI investigation.
WINE-BANKS: I think that`s true but in this day of alternative facts, which are really lies, there is no such thing. That`s what`s happened and they now think in the White House that they can get away with this. And that would be an outrage. We need to have the investigation. It is something that is so much deserved, and we cannot let her be more abused.
I remember the Anita Hill hearings and Rachel Maddow played the tape of the hearings recently, last night I think, and it`s appalling. It`s totally appalling. And if we want to have some independent source do the investigation, I recently served on a Pentagon committee looking at sexual assaults in the military. We have an entire system to look at assault allegations, sexual assault allegations. The military lawyers and investigators are very well prepared to do this kind of investigation as an independent source and they should be called upon.
O`DONNELL: Well, lying to the FBI is a crime. Dr. Ford knows that. Brett Kavanaugh knows that. One of them is not afraid to talk to the FBI and only one of them. Jill Wine-Banks, Joyce Vance, thanks for joining our discussion.
And when we come back, President Trump seems to be very afraid of losing Brett Kavanaugh as his Supreme Court pick and we will find out whether Brett Kavanaugh will make it through, and we`ll then find out whether Jeff Sessions will make it through to another year as attorney general or whether the president`s attack on him today is the beginning of the final days of Jeff Sessions as attorney general.
O`DONNELL: Tonight`s good news is Donald Trump doesn`t think that he has an attorney general. And that`s good news because he`s not supposed to have an attorney general. The United States is supposed to have an attorney general. The question is does the United States have an attorney general? Or maybe the question is how long will the United States have an attorney general?
President Trump told the Hill in an interview published today, "I don`t have an attorney general, it`s very sad. I`m so sad over Jeff Sessions because he came to me. He was the first senator that endorsed me and he wanted to be attorney general and I didn`t see it. And then he went through the nominating process and he did very poorly. I mean, he was mixed up and confused."
"The Washington Post" is reporting tonight from leakers inside the Trump White House that the president`s latest attack on his attorney general, "Was also a raw expression of vulnerability and anger from a president who associates say increasingly believes he is unprotected."
We will have more on the unprotected president and the attorney general he hates after this break with Jill Wine-Banks and Joyce Vance.
O`DONNELL: Today the president basically said he`s going to fire his attorney general after the midterm elections and then rush a new attorney general through the confirmation process before the Democrats take over the Senate in January if the Democrats win the Senate in the midterm elections. He didn`t, OK, use exactly those words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I`m disappointed in the attorney general for many reasons and you understand that.
REPORTER: Are you going to fire him? Are you going to fire Jeff Sessions?
TRUMP: We are looking at lots of different things.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now, Jill Wine-Banks and Joyce Vance who are back with us.
And Joyce, John Weaver who is a prominent Republican strategist tweeted today that he has spoken of two senators in the last week saying Jeff sessions definitely fired after the November 6 elections.
VANCE: It`s an incredible irony that the president`s first supporter has fallen from grace. There is no disguising what`s at work here. The president has never appreciated the fact that Sessions recused from the Russia investigation, wanted a lawyer who would protect him, more of a consigliere than an attorney general. And that`s not what he has.
O`DONNELL: And Jill, this means Robert Mueller will be effectively removed from office or fired by the new attorney general that the Republicans rush through there. That new attorney general will take control of the Mueller investigation.
VANCE: Well, presumably he will or she but that assumes that that person also had nothing to do with the campaign and nothing to do with any Russians because if he or she did, then that would require a recusal also. There was no question that Jeff Sessions was legally required to recuse himself. And what the president wants is he wants his old lawyer Cohen who is a fixer to be the lawyer at the Department of Justice and that is a total misunderstanding of what the role of the attorney general is. And I think it`s a shame for America that we can`t count on the Department of Justice for justice, for unbiased, lined justice.
O`DONNELL: And Joyce, Robert Mueller has to see this coming as of tonight, if not sooner. What precautions can he take with his investigation, assuming he will be effectively relieved from duty after Jeff Sessions is fired?
VANCE: The Mueller investigation won`t end if Robert Mueller is fired. He is very carefully. He planned it. He and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein tentacles for this investigation in attorneys` offices. We have seen prosecutors in Southern District of New York, we`ve seen cases in the District of Columbia. There are other offices that might conceivably have jurisdiction.
And the reality, Lawrence, is that once an investigation is commenced, prosecutors and agents just don`t give up on it. They`ll continue moving forward. This case will continue. Mueller could even possibly have indictments under seal that would be launched when appropriate after he left. So there is very little the administration can do to shut it down just by naming a new attorney general.
O`DONNELL: And Jill, I know this is something you worry about as Watergate prosecutors. What happens if President Nixon fires the whole group? But it doesn`t seem like there is much you can do in anticipation of that.
WINE-BANKS: Well, there is, actually, a lot that can be done but there`s one major step which is that the grand jury that is now hearing the evidence has inherent authority to issue a report and that the chief judge of the District of Columbia court can order the jury to continue its investigation and can allow it to reveal the evidence. It would be, in effect, a roadmap to impeachment which is what we had in the Watergate case where we named the president an unindicted co-conspirator and gave the evidence to the House judiciary committee. But this could go public, and that`s one very good way of going ahead with it.
O`DONNELL: I continue to learn something every time I shut up and listen to the last word legal team. Jill Wine-Banks and Joyce Vance, thank you both for joining us tonight.
Tonight`s last word is next.
O`DONNELL: And now for tonight`s last word.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SETH MEYERS, HOST, LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS: Following an accusation of sexual assault, Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh visited the White House today for the second day in a row. It`s the first time an accused sexual assaulter has gotten in the White House without the electoral college.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Seth Meyers gets tonight`s last word. "THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS" starts now.
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