Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: September 20, 2018 Guest: Kristine Lucius; Maria Teresa Kumar; Maya Wiley; Ron Klain
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
And it might continue breaking because Donald Trump will be speaking in Nevada, which in the very unlikely event, he says anything worth reporting, we will report that.
But at this hour tomorrow night, Rachel, when you and I are having this chat it is very hard to say where we`re going to be. Clearly that 10:00 a.m. Friday deadline that Chuck Grassley was trying to force on Dr. Ford about the decision, that is all in play now.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, TRMS: Yes.
O`DONNELL: That and the negotiations are under way, and we are going to be waiting hour by hour tomorrow.
MADDOW: I feel -- I have to say, Lawrence, I feel like -- I feel like anything is possible here. I really have no idea how this ends in terms of the Kavanaugh nomination. I mean, I`ve expressed my doubts as to whether or not it can survive.
But in terms of how this is going to play out in the long run and what`s going to happen next and how they`re going to deal with this allegation, I really just feel like it`s a totally open road in terms of what might happen.
From your experience in the Senate, do you feel you know where this is going to end up or do you feel this is as open ended as I do?
O`DONNELL: I cannot see where this is going to end up. Because of the elements of this that we really at this stage cannot figure out the power is of Dr. Ford`s side of this. I have been hugely impressed with how Dr. Ford has handled herself in this matter since her name became public and what has been basically her first week in the national spotlight and her intense kind of national spotlight.
And I don`t know whether she`s going to accept basically a bad deal from the judiciary committee. I wouldn`t. I wouldn`t advise her not to accept a bad deal from Judiciary Committee in testifying. I`m sure she`ll be getting advice both ways on that. So, you know, if Chuck Grassley does not deliver an adequate kind of deal about how to do this testimony, I have no idea what`s going to happen.
MADDOW: I mean, the on the Republican side at this point are that the FBI shouldn`t look into this as part of their background investigation even though that`s what you would normally expect, and we must hurry for reasons that we don`t want to talk about. And that`s it. I mean, that`s -- those are the back stops for their negotiations. Whereas the back stops for her negotiations are, I`m bringing you important nomination about a nominee to a very important lifetime post, and I would like it to be handled impartially and properly in a way that guarantees my safety.
I mean her back stops are better than theirs in terms of how they`re coming into these negotiations. But honestly I don`t know how it`s going to end.
O`DONNELL: Rachel, it is so generous of you to use the word "arguments" for what it is the Republicans are saying. I -- with my Senate experience, I do not have the strength to grant what they`re saying the status of arguments.
MADDOW: Their assertions?
O`DONNELL: Don`t get me started, Rachel. It`s a very short word, it`s just that word lie, and I don`t want to -- we`ll leave it at arguments.
MADDOW: I support you, my friend.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Well, Brett Kavanaugh finally speaks. Today, for the first time since Brett Kavanaugh has been facing an accusation of sexual assault, we heard from Brett Kavanaugh in his own words and he said: I will be there.
But here is what he did not say: I demand an FBI investigation. I demand an FBI investigation so that I can clear my name. He didn`t say that.
In his letter to Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today, Brett Kavanaugh in writing accepted the invitation to appear before the committee on Monday and he said, I continue to want a hearing as soon as possible so that I can clear my name.
And he could have also said: I continue to want an FBI investigation as soon as possible so that I can clear my name.
But with that letter, Brett Kavanaugh made it very clear he personally does not want an FBI investigation because he had an opportunity to say it right there and he didn`t. And until we heard from him directly in his own words, we can only surmise that he did not want an FBI investigation, but now we know. And we know that Professor Christine Blasey Ford does still want an FBI investigation and we also know that Dr. Ford will not be there Monday, because in a letter from Dr. Ford`s attorney, Debra Katz, to Chuck Grassley, sent hours before Brett Kavanaugh`s letter was sent, she said she wishes to testify provided that we can agree on terms that are fair and which ensure her safety. A hearing on Monday is not possible, and the committee`s insistence that it occur then is arbitrary in any event.
Debra Katz canceled her appearance on Rachel`s show tonight citing, quote, active efforts to reach agreement with the committee. And so negotiations are under way, and Chuck Grassley`s threatened 10:00 a.m. tomorrow is no longer a deadline. The truth is there are no deadlines in this story, none. There are no time restrictions. The hearing does not have to be next week. It does not have to be this month.
As every member of the Republican Senate proved when they deliberately kept a Supreme Court seat vacant for over a year. NBC News is reporting tonight that the negotiations are considering the possibility of Thursday as a potential hearing date, but that is not yet settled. NBC News is also reporting that Dr. Ford does not want Brett Kavanaugh in the room when she testifies. And Dr. Ford is asking that Brett Kavanaugh testify first.
And Dr. Ford would like other witnesses to testify, including the man she says was an eyewitness and participate in the attack on her, Mark Judge, who might have to be subpoenaed because he has told the committee in writing through his attorney that he never witnessed or participated in anything like the assault Dr. Ford describes and he does not want to be questioned, by anyone about that.
The Republicans apparently are discussing the possibility of hiring an outside counsel to ask the questions in the committee. Dr. Ford does not want the committee to hire an outside counsel for the Republicans to ask the questions instead of the senators. And that means the Republicans on the Judiciary Committee seem to realize just how bad they will look as a group of 11 men questioning a woman about a delicate subject.
Some of them must realize just how bad the Republicans looked in that same committee when they attacked Anita Hill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: And it bothers me because -- because she appears to believe everything that she said. And I myself don`t want to call her a liar. But as an old trial lawyer, I`ve seen witnesses just like that who believe every word they say and every word is absolutely wrong and we`ve proven it wrong and they still believe it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That man who didn`t want to call Anita Hill a liar is himself a liar tonight. Said he didn`t want to call Anita Hill a liar and then called her a liar. He went onto describe Anita Hill right there, as you heard him describe her as, some kind of hysterical, pathological liar. A liar who still thinks it`s true even after we proved to her what`s she`s saying is not true.
Orrin Hatch never ever proved Anita Hill wrong, never. And now, Orrin Hatch is lying to his voters in Utah who have kept him in the United States Senate for way too long, and he`s lying to the country when he says we don`t have time for an FBI investigation, and when he tells the lie that there is no reason for the FBI to investigate this new information --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HATCH: 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 any way of getting to the bottom of it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That`s why I was struck with Rachel`s generosity and calling what Orrin Hatch is saying now an argument. What Orrin Hatch is saying now is a lie. And the person who proves Orrin Hatch is lying now is Orrin Hatch then, because back then, Orrin Hatch didn`t want Senate staffers to do an investigation. No, not Senate staffers. He says he wanted real, appropriate non-Senate staffers.
And you`re going to find out why that`s a very good idea to have real appropriate non-Senate staffers do the investigation. Just a moment from now because we found out today and last night what the Republican Senate staffers on the judiciary committee are trying to do and what they`re trying to do to Dr. Ford. Orrin Hatch is still on that committee and Republicans are terrified tonight, rightly so, that Orrin Hatch will be allowed to ask questions of a woman accuser on the Senate Judiciary Committee once again. They`re terrified how that will look, and they should be.
But Dr. Ford and her lawyers seem to want to the American people to see the Senate Judiciary Committee for what it is, a group of close-minded men who have already made up their minds. And it`s not just the senators. It is the Republican staff of the Judiciary Committee.
And Brett Kavanaugh`s letter to Chuck Grassley today, he noted that he has been interviewed this week by the Republican staff of the Judiciary Committee. The Democratic staff of the committee did not participate in those interviews. And last night, the Judiciary Committee`s Republican, chief counsel for nominations tweeted this. Unfazed and determined, we`ll confirm Judge Kavanaugh.
And he followed that tweet with this one: I personally questioned Judge Kavanaugh under penalty of felony and five years of imprisonment if he lies. I`m still waiting to hear back from the accuser`s attorneys who can`t find time between TV appearances to get back to me. That`s Mike Davis.
Mike Davis is a poisonously prejudiced staffer who`s determined to confirm Judge Kavanaugh. And he has not heard one word from Dr. Ford. And he doesn`t have to because he knows the job that Chuck Grassley has given him is to make sure Judge Kavanaugh is confirmed. And we know about these tweets because our first guest tonight, former Senate staffer Adam Jentleson found them and brought them to public attention whereupon the tweets were deleted because they are outrageous.
But Mike Davis is still determined and Chuck Grassley is still determined and Orrin Hatch is still determined and every Republican man who`s a member of the Judiciary Committee is still determined to confirm Brett Kavanaugh. And they are willing, all of them, to tell any lie to do it, every single one of them. Every single Republican member of the committee and every Republican member of the Senate has collectively joined in the big lie that there is no role for the FBI in this investigation. Every one of them has joined in the big lie that this nomination must be voted on quickly.
And so, Dr. Ford knows that if she walks into the Judiciary Committee hearing she will be walking into a room where more than half of the senators are determined to disregard every word that she says. And Mike Davis and all those Republican staffers will be sitting behind the senators in that hearing room with exactly the same determination. Those staffers all take the same oath of office as those senators. It is an oath to defend and support the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic.
And it is an oath to faithfully discharge the duties of the office. Mike Davis has violated his oath of office. Mike Davis would be fired for publicly saying that he is determined to confirm Judge Kavanaugh before he has heard accusations against judge Kavanaugh, if -- if Mike Davis was employed by a senator who still took his oath seriously.
If Chuck Grassley took his oath of office seriously he would have fired Mike Davis already. But Chuck Grassley`s lying knows no bounds now. He has crossed a line with that. And I didn`t think that with Chuck Grassley or Orrin Hatch when I was working with them on the Senate Finance Committee and when I was a Democratic staff in the 1990s, and I never dreamed there will come a day where I would prove either of those men were outright liars just by playing video of what they said about exactly the same thing in the past.
The proof that Chuck Grassley is lying now about the FBI investigation is what Chuck Grassley said in support of the FBI investigation of Anita Hill. Same thing with Orrin Hatch. I showed you that video last night of both of them.
Dr. Ford knows she`s going into a rigged hearing with a majority of the senators who have made up their minds about her testimony before hearing a word of it. And she doesn`t want those senators to be able to an outside counsel to save them from doing their own dirty work on television.
Reports indicate Republicans are looking for a woman lawyer to hire to do that for them. There isn`t a single woman member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, not one. And now those men on the Republican side of the Judiciary Committee want to hire a woman as an outside counsel to sit there beside Chairman Grassley and save all of those men from humiliating themselves as most of them surely will.
If Dr. Ford can come to an agreement with Chuck Grassley about when and how to conduct a hearing that is more fair than staffers like Mike Davis and senators like Chuck Grassley and Orrin Hatch have proven themselves capable of delivering.
Senate staffers -- former Senate staffers on the Senate Judiciary Committee and others, Adam Jentleson, Lisa Graves, Ron Klain, will all join us next with what happens next.
O`DONNELL: Donald Trump is in Nevada tonight at a campaign event for Dean Heller, Republican running for Senate there who`s in a very close race now, statistical tie with the Democratic challenger. He just spoke to Sean Hannity talking about the possibility of Dr. Ford testifying to the Judiciary Committee. Let`s listen to some of that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I said let her say what she has to say and let`s see how it all comes out. But they`ve delayed it a week and they have to get on with it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And joining our discussion now, Adam Jentleson, the former deputy chief of staff to Senator Harry Reid. He`s director of public affairs for Democracy Forward.
Lisa Graves, co-director of Documented. She`s the former chief counsel for nominations for the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee and was the deputy assistant attorney general of the Department of Justice.
And Ron Klain is with us. He`s a former chief of staff to Vice Presidents Joe Biden and Al Gore, and former senior aide to President Obama. He was also chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee during the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill hearings.
And, Ron, I want to start with your reaction to what we just heard the president say. He has repeatedly said that he -- we should let her say what she has to say, was the way he said it tonight. He doesn`t sound as strict about a deadline as the Republican senators have tried to sound.
RON KLAIN, FORMER CHIEF COUNSEL, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Yes, Lawrence, you know, it`s ironic, funny, interesting that Donald Trump really has been on his best behavior the past couple of days about Dr. Ford`s charges and that`s because he`s looking at a political playing field.
Brett Kavanaugh is the most unpopular Supreme Court nominee in the history of polling of Supreme Court nominees. The Republicans face a life and death election this fall and women are the deciding vote. College age women, college educated women are the deciding vote, and they`re watching this carefully.
And Trump may lose a Supreme Court nominee. He does not want to lose the House and the Senate.
O`DONNELL: And, Adam, I want to go to you about Mike Davis, because I discovered Mike Davis` tweet when you captured it and retweeted about it. And I was stunned to see what he said, that his job, he`s just determined to get this nominee confirmed. Obviously, they pulled down the tweets as soon as it came up.
But it was an amazing window into this Republican staff investigation that Chuck Grassley and the Republicans were trying to tell us is a fair and honest investigation.
ADAM JENTLESON, FORMER SENIOR AIDE TO SEN. HARRY REID: Yes, I mean, usually Grassley`s staff is very skilled at erecting a facade of professionalism and sort of institutionalism in front of their relentless partisan hackery. But today, the mask slipped. Mike said the quiet part out loud, and they gave the game away.
I mean, they are trying to present themselves as so impartial that they can be trusted in place of the FBI to conduct an investigation into this. And today, we realized that that`s just not true.
O`DONNELL: Lisa Graves, what was your reaction when you saw Mike Davis` tweets?
LISA GRAVES, FORMER STAFFER, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well, I was shocked and quite frankly what you`ve seen in the press is lot of good press for Senator Grassley asserting that he`s supposedly providing all these options. That`s the language they`ve been trying to get there. And so, what you see there with gap between the stage managing that they`re doing and the reality.
The reality that everyone on that committee knows is happening, which is exactly the sort of extreme partisanship and determination to get Brett Kavanaugh through no matter the allegation, against him, no matter the severity of that, and the significance of that for our Supreme Court.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to something Orrin Hatch said during the Anita Hill -- during the Clarence Thomas confirmation about Anita Hill`s testimony.
I guess we don`t have it here. I`m just going to read it to you. And this Orrin Hatch`s understanding of this subject. This gives you a sense of what he actually knows about it.
I guess the control room has a ready now. Let`s listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HATCH: I do not minimize sexual harassment on the job if it occurs, and in this case, it did not occur. And I feel confident in saying that, having known Judge Thomas for so long, having known his reputation, having watched him in action, having him worked with probably thousands of women in the jobs that he`s worked on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Lisa, Orrin Hatch thinks that`s proof, that what he knows of Judge Thomas and his interactions with Judge Thomas means it`s impossible for sexual harassment to have occurred.
GRAVES: Well, that`s exactly why we have laws, because just leaving it up to men or people who are in a position of power to decide what counts and what doesn`t and whether it`s real or not, you know, is not adequate. We need to have laws to protect women, to protect people in the workplace. And also, I think that goes to a point on which we`ve seen here on the committee, which is, this committee used to have rules. It used to have practices.
One of those practices was, if there were a serious allegation like this, it would automatically be sent back over to the FBI to be examined. As you pointed out extensively, Chairman Grassley has repeatedly violated the rules and norms of this committee. It`s racing forward with no constitutional requirement he raised forward and trying to rig this system.
I have to say I`m so humbled by the courage of Dr. Ford in being willing to come forward in this sort of rigged process that senator Grassley and his Republican men on that committee and their staff are trying to put forward because she wants the truth told. And as you point out, she`s the one asking for a full investigation and a full and fair hearing.
Brett Kavanaugh didn`t ask that today in his letter and he was over at the White House all week and apparently didn`t ask it either.
O`DONNELL: Yes, and I don`t believe she`s going to be able to negotiate her way to a fair hearing. I think she`s going to be able to negotiate a more fair hearing, but it`s just going to be marginal. There`s a report in "The Washington Post" today, that I don`t think is going to surprise any of us. A senior Democratic aide said that reopening FBI background checks is routine, ten of them, ten of them, have been reopened for judicial nominees, ten of them have been reopened for judge nominations in the last three months alone.
And, Ron Klain, you were there when everyone on the committee agreed that of course the FBI had to investigate Anita Hill`s accusations.
KLAIN: Yes, Lawrence. For 27 years, I`ve carried out the fact I was a staffer on the committee that held the worst judicial confirmation hearings in American history. And now, Senator Grassley looks like he`s on the verge of lifting that burden off my back with the way he`s handling this matter right now. It was not even an issue in 1991 that the allegations Professor Hill made when she gave us permission to convey them to the FBI would go to the FBI.
It wasn`t even -- there wasn`t even a second thought about that being the right thing. The Democrats on the committee knew it was the right thing. The Republicans on the committee knew it was the right thing, and the Bush White House, Boyden Gray, President Bush`s counsel, immediately sent this matter to the FBI for review.
So, the argument the FBI doesn`t do it, shouldn`t do it, hasn`t done it is just complete and utter baloney.
O`DONNELL: And, Adam, the -- we`re going to watch this negotiation over the shoulder in whatever way we can tomorrow. It clearly will continue into the day tomorrow. At some point, it might be resolved tomorrow. It might not.
But they`re already floating Thursday. That`s emerged publicly as a possibility, Thursday of next week.
What risks does that include for the Republicans each day that passes?
JENTLESON: Oh, I think you saw this week there`s enormous risk. I mean, giving them time this week to sort of gain a little bit of confidence just resulted in them completely shooting themselves in the foot. I think time is not their friend for a number of reasons, but one of them is that every day that passes is a day that`s filled with terrible damaging quotes from Republican senators and their staffers.
And the reason they keep stepping in it is that they are just deeply out of step with what`s happening. It`s extremely clear that they just don`t take this matter seriously. And it`s also clear that they fundamentally don`t understand that they don`t really hold the cards here.
Dr. Ford holds the cards. She can choose when and where she wants to tell her story. And watching this panel of old, white men and their staff struggle to grasp that reality has been very interesting. And I think the longer it goes on, the worse it will be for them.
O`DONNELL: And, Lisa, I was very struck by the idea that the Republicans were smart enough to think we shouldn`t ask the questions, we should hire a woman lawyer to do it. And it`s sad that on the Republican side, they have to hire a woman lawyer to do it because they don`t have someone and they don`t have a woman member of the committee.
But it`s pretty rare -- I`ve never seen it in a confirmation hearing. It has occurred famously. Bobby Kennedy was counsel to a committee in the 1950s investigating labor unions, and he was up there asking the questions, becoming kind of a bigger star than some of the senators, and got a bit of a reaction from that.
We saw it in the Watergate hearings, but we haven`t really seen it ever in the confirmation process that I`m aware of. And I was really struck by Dr. Ford`s counter which is, no, I want these senators to be forced to do their own work. And I wouldn`t have thought of that counter but I`m very impressed with it. I think that`s a smart way to go.
GRAVES: I think that`s right. And I think that these senators are really not a profile in courage. I think they definitely know this is going to be a difficult hearing for them to be attacking her the way they basically are attacking her through proxies or the White House or Brett Kavanaugh`s buddies are attacking her, his associates and friends. I think that what you have here is a situation in which they want some woman to give them cover.
I don`t know maybe if Kellyanne Conway is available for them to push some sort of fact versus what`s a real fact and what`s true. But in this situation as you point out, it`s just not normal and not typical at all for this committee to have ever engaged in this process for a confirmation hearing. And I think in this case what you just have is an ever shifting set of processes they`re just floating one thing after another to try to escape. Following rules and also just following common sense -- common sense would say that these members would be concerned and troubled about these allegations versus trying to squash them.
O`DONNELL: Lisa Graves, Adam Jentleson, Ron Klain, thank you all for starting this off on this important discussion tonight.
And when we come back, how the Republicans now struggling with these accusations against Brett Kavanaugh when they`re out there on the campaign trail and elsewhere.
And important reporting tonight that Michael Cohen is now fully cooperating with Robert Mueller`s investigators. Very bad news for Donald Trump and for his adult children because Michael Cohen is also cooperating with the New York state attorney general in another investigation of the Trumps.
O`DONNELL: A little hiccup, that`s what Nevada Republican Senator Dean Heller called Dr. Christine Blasey Ford`s accusation of sexual assault against Brett Kavanaugh, a little hiccup. He said that in the Congress call of Nevada Republicans yesterday and assured them that the Republicans in the Senate would quickly put that little hiccup behind them and confirm Brett Kavanaugh.
What he left unsaid was his belief that none of the Republicans in the Senate care about what Dr. Ford might say in her testimony. He believes their minds are made up. Having been caught saying what he really thinks, today Dean Heller issued a written statement that you believe at your own risk. "I do not believe sexual assault allegations of any kind are a hiccup. I think it`s important for Dr. Ford to have the opportunity to share her story with the judiciary committee in public or private should she choose to do so."
The president is campaigning at this hour for Dean Heller in his re- election campaign in Nevada which is now polling in a statistical tie with Democratic challenger Jacky Rosen. The Senate office buildings today were flooded with protesters visiting Republican Senate offices including Chuck Grassley`s and the office of Susan Collins who claims to be undecided in her confirmation votes. Fifty-six protesters were arrested by Capitol police today.
Joining our discussion now, Maria Teresa Kumar, the president and CEO of Voto Latino, an MSNBC contributor. Kristine Lucious, a former staff director of the Senate judiciary committee and democratic staff is also with us.
Kristine, I want to get your reaction to the strategic negotiations going on here. There`s a report indicating that the Republicans would like to hire a woman lawyer to act as a counsel in the hearing and ask the questions and save all those Republican men from embarrassing themselves. There`s also a report indicating that the Democrats on the committee intend to rely on their women members of the committee, Amy Klobuchar, Kamala Harris, for them to focus the questions from the Democratic side. How important do you think this part of the negotiation is?
KRISTINE LUCIUS, FORMER STAFF DIRECTOR, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well, I think this part of the negotiation to me is strange. You know, I worked on the committee for more than 14 years. Never have I seen an outside counsel question witnesses before the Senate judiciary committee. I think that`s just an attempt for Republican members to cover-up the fact that they have no women on their side of the aisle on the committee.
But what I think you`re seeing today is that clearly, Dr. Ford is working here in good faith. She wants to testify before the committee. But on the Republican side, they`re facing a decency test and so far they`re failing it. They are not treating her with the respect she deserves. She certainly is reasonable for her to want to understand what she`d be walking into next week when she comes to testify.
And I just think that this additional piece of the notion that they would have an outside counsel question just shows that they are embarrassed that there`s no gender diversity on their side of the aisle on the committee.
O`DONNELL: The halls of the Senate offices were filled with protesters today. And I want to get Kristine`s reaction to this, too. But I can tell you from my experience working in those offices, Senators are very much afraid on those kinds of days. And they are trying to duck those protesters and they are just hoping it all goes away. And this looks like a pretty spontaneous wave of protests that have taken over those buildings.
MARIA TERESA KUMAR, PRESIDENT, VOTO LATINO: And Lawrence, it`s not going to stop. The fact they are basically going after a survivor coming forward and she`s asking to basically bring in her story and they`re trying to block her by bringing in a female buffer is not going to help their case. And the Republicans just can`t help themselves.
I mean if you recall when Justice Sotomayor was before them, when they started basically picking at her, just calling her white Latina because she seemed too tough and too bold for them, you could only imagine that they`re trying to save themselves when it comes to actually cross-examining Dr. Ford. And the wave of activism is not going to let go.
If you can recall, this is all stemming from the election of the president himself. Right after inauguration, we had the woman`s march which basically brought in close to five million marchers worldwide. It`s every single continent trying to basically come and speak for women. In the era of Me Too, the Republicans know that they`re in trouble and that is why they`re trying to basically hold this off.
And the fact that right now, the president is in Nevada trying to help Heller, the fact that Heller just said that this was a hiccup, I can just see all those ads right now that are just obviously going to help Rosen who`s basically right now trying to take that Senate seat from him.
O`DONNELL: Kristine, I want to get your reaction quickly to what it means when the Senate office buildings fill up with protesters like that. I know some people up there might think it`s ineffectual and on my personal experience is it has a real impact.
LUCIUS: It does have an impact. It changes the whole mood of the building. And when protesters are in your office, whether you`re a staffer or the senator, you can feel it. You can tell the temperature change. And I think that what we are seeing here reminds me of what we saw in 1991. Women are watching how the Republican Senators are treating this woman, Dr. Ford. And women are spontaneously moved to come to the Senate.
There have also been, of course, lots of rallies and an enormous outcry on social media and on the phones calling into Senator`s offices. But, Lawrence, you`re right, the Senators don`t enjoy it, they find it uncomfortable. But I think people are fed up and I think they feel like this rigged process, they need to express themselves in how upset they are at how they`re treating Dr. Ford and how they`re trying to rush this process through when it does not need to be handled the way the Republican Senators are handling it.
O`DONNELL: And Maria Teresa, it seems that Dr. Ford is now proving that the Republicans were engaged in a phony kind of rush because they`ve already delayed it all of this week. They thought they were going to be taking a vote on this nomination today and they are engaged in an ongoing negotiation about how to make their own hearing fair. And it`s Dr. Ford who`s trying to force fairness into a Republican-controlled committee.
KUMAR: Force fairness in making sure that they actually are playing by the rules. There are actually Senate rules of what happens when you actually bring in individuals forward and they were trying to circumvent them. And she`s holding them to be honest and I believe that she`s also encouraging people to do protests. Because, let`s not forget, there were protests from the very beginning.
The moment that the hearings for Kavanaugh started, there have been protests every single day, people filling those pews, making sure that we`re talking about the women`s rights to choose and issues that he is so turn proposed to. And we must not forget that one of the principles of our democratic process is that protest is patriotism and they`re showing that every single day with that courage.
O`DONNELL: Maria Teresa Kumar and Kristine Lucius, thank you both for joining us tonight. Appreciate it.
LUCIUS: Thank you, Lawrence.
KUMAR: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, new reports tonight that Michael Cohen, Donald Trump`s former lawyer, is now cooperating with Robert Mueller`s team of investigators. He`s talking about Donald Trump`s interests in Russia, and he`s cooperating with the New York State Attorney-General investigating Donald Trump`s family businesses.
O`DONNELL: The Kavanaugh confirmation crisis is not the only very bad news for Donald Trump today. There`s more very, very bad news for Donald Trump and his family tonight. In a report from "ABC News" revealing that Donald Trump`s former lawyer Michael Cohen has been cooperating with Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller since Cohen pleaded guilty to federal crimes that he says he committed in an active conspiracy with Donald Trump.
Michael Cohen`s guilty plea was entered in a case referred by Robert Mueller to the United States Attorney in Manhattan who then took over the case and rather easily obtained those guilty pleas from Michael Cohen. "ABC News" is reporting that Michael Cohen`s hours of interviews with Robert Mueller`s staff have focused on all aspects of Trump`s dealings with Russia, including financial and business dealings and the investigation into alleged collusion with Russia by the Trump campaign. Investigators were also interested in knowing, the sources say, whether Trump or any of his associates discussed the possibility of a pardon with Cohen.
On another front, that could be threatening to Donald Trump and his three oldest children, "ABC News" is reporting that Michael Cohen is cooperating with the New York State attorney general`s investigation of the inner workings of the Trump Family Charity and the Trump Organization where Cohen served as an executive vice president and special counsel to Trump for 10 years.
Michael Cohen`s cooperation with the special prosecutor only increases the likelihood that President Trump will someday face a subpoena from Robert Mueller. A subpoena that President Trump hopes his future Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh will say the president does not have to comply with.
After a quick break here, Ron Klain and Maya Wiley will consider what Michael Cohen`s cooperation with the prosecutor means for Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and anyone involved in the Trump businesses that Michael Cohen had a hand-in.
O`DONNELL: Michael Cohen, the man who secretly recorded Donald Trump is now cooperating with Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL COHEN: I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend David. You know, so that -- I`m going to do that right away.
TRUMP: Give it to me.
COHEN: And I`ve spoken to Allen Weiselberg about how to set the whole thing up with --
TRUMP: So what are we going to do?
COHEN: Funding -- yes, and it`s all the stuff, all the stuff because, you know, you never know where that company -- never know where he`s going to be.
TRUMP: Gets hit by a bus.
COHEN: Correct. So I`m all over that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now Maya Wiley, a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York and an MSNBC legal analyst and Ron Klain is back with us.
And Maya, we are once again back to Michael Cohen but this time with Robert Mueller`s people spending apparently a great deal of time with him.
MAYA WILEY, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: What`s fascinating about this to me is that he`s both cooperating, but he`s cooperating without a cooperation agreement.
WILEY: Right. Which is very interesting because he`s clearly trying to position himself in a way that is both about his public profile and part of the Lanny Davis role is to help him with his public image. At the same time, you know, Mueller never gave him a cooperation agreement. So that raises a question about how valuable is the information that he has to offer?
Because generally, what you get in exchange for the information that you`re going to share when you cooperate is an agreement that says essentially, if you tell us, you know, the truth and give us things that are useful, it will benefit you when it comes to sentencing on the things you`ve been willing to plead guilty on. That`s not what we have here.
At the same time, all roads lead back to the Trump Organization and his long-standing connection to Russia, to people like Felix Saider who is a long-time friend connected to the Russian mob, someone who sent him an e- mail and had an e-mail exchange with him about Trump Moscow, while Donald Trump was running in the presidential election.
So there`s no question that he has a lot he could potentially offer, particularly with regard to the business dealings. There`s no question it`s vulnerability for Donald Trump and he should be worried but it`s also a signal that there is no formal cooperation agreement.
O`DONNELL: And, Ron, one thing that Donald Trump knows tonight as a result of this reporting is that Robert Mueller now knows from Michael Cohen exactly how many women Michael Cohen arranged payoffs for to keep quiet about their histories with Donald Trump.
RON KLAIN, FORMER CHIEF COUNSEL, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Yes. You know, you played that tape a minute ago, Lawrence. It sounds like a high school theater production of Good Fellas.
KLAIN: I mean we have the future president of the United States talking about a guy getting hit by a truck. I mean it`s crazy. But, you know, in addition to what Robert Mueller knows, the other thing in the reporting tonight is how much Michael Cohen has talked to the New York State Attorney-General, now Barbara Underwood pending an election here this fall.
And that`s super significant for this reason, Lawrence. Donald Trump could go crazy and exercise his pardon power and putatively pardon all the people involved, his family members, Michael Cohen. But his pardon power does not extend to prosecutions by State Attorney Generals. So as much as he`s worried about Mueller, he has a second front to worry about, what`s going on in Barbara Underwood`s office with regard to the Trump Foundation and his family members. And that`s an investigation he literally can do nothing about.
O`DONNELL: And, Maya, there is now a record, there is an FBI and Mueller record of what Michael Cohen has told them. You know, so you can pardon Michael Cohen, you can do whatever you want with anybody, you can fire Robert Mueller. The written record of everything he`s told them, those FBI agents and prosecutors about Donald Trump exists.
WILEY: That`s exactly right. And I think Ron is exactly right. So, it exists. It exists for a wide number of prosecutors, right? Because there`s nothing that precludes the Feds from sharing that with the State. We know that when Eric Schneiderman was Attorney-General of New York State, he was actively engaged in discussions with the Mueller team and Ron is exactly right.
I think there`s vulnerability on both sides. I don`t want to say that it`s not that Michael Cohen doesn`t have information that may be useful to Mueller, but it`s absolutely true that the vulnerability here is the amount of evidence, the no questions of the roads that all connect Michael Cohen, Donald Trump, the Trump Organization, the Trump children and connections to Moscow, Oleg Deraposka, we can go down the list. All that is a matter of record somewhere even if we don`t know it all.
And the other thing about this is that`s a record that may be very public. That is a challenge that the Mueller investigation has in terms of the grand jury proceedings. The attorney general may be able to do it in a way that it becomes much more public.
O`DONNELL: And, Ron, quickly, there is an interview James Comey did recently. I`m not going to play it or anything. He basically said it starts to feel to him like Mueller is in the fourth quarter of the game because as prosecutors move, they tend to move up the chain. And now that he`s all the way up the chain of command to Paul Manafort, Comey says, "I think there is an argument to be made that they`re just about as high as they can go."
KLAIN: Yes. I mean the fourth quarter is the most interesting quarter. Manafort flipped recently. The interviews with Michael Cohen, I mean this is really getting to the interesting part, no question.
O`DONNELL: Ron Klain and Maya Wiley, thank you for joining our conversation tonight. Tonight`s last word is next.
O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s last word.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT: The spokesperson from the judicial crisis network who equated this assault to, rough horseplay, which raises the question, what has Brett Kavanagh done to horses?
SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY: We`re talking about 35 years ago. I`d hate to ask have somebody ask me what I did 35 years ago.
SAMANTHA BEE, HOST: Chuck, 35 years ago you were 50 and a Senator.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Stephen Colbert and Samantha Bee. get tonight`s last words. "THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS" starts now.
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