Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: September 21, 2018 Guest: Wendy Sherman, Lisa Graves, Mieke Eoyang, Norm Ornstein, Harry Litman
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC: Good evening Rachel, and here we are at what was the 10:00 p.m. deadline for Dr. Ford to tell the judiciary committee what she was going to do next week. And of course, as you`ve reported, Dr. Ford`s lawyers have asked for one more day to make that decision. And it is -- there`s no conceivable reason why they can`t give her that one more day, but these are people who are fighting over Wednesday instead of Thursday next week, as if that makes any difference.
MADDOW: And again, what they`re using to bolster their argument is we don`t want to delay anymore, we want it to be Wednesday and not Thursday. And we want to go. We want to do this. And if you say no, we will vote on this lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court without ever hearing this allegation, without hearing from the accuser or any witnesses or anybody who might be able to corroborate or deny this story. That doesn`t seem like a very strong place from which to push from the Senate Republican side, but that`s where we are.
O`DONNELL: Yes, and they try to use normal jurisprudential norms like the accuser goes first and then the person who`s defending himself goes second, which is a norm in jurisprudence. But every other norm in jurisprudence, they want to defy. They don`t want all the witness, the Republicans.
It`s a stunning selective use of this is what we think is fair, and it`s very clear, a very clearly designed to make sure this hearing is anything but fair.
MADDOW: Insisting that they will not allow testimony from any witnesses when Christine Blasey Ford from the very first instance when she came forward, from that first letter to Dianne Feinstein she already was citing people who could corroborate her story, people who she had told in advance, people who she had notified about this before Kavanaugh was ever nominated to the Supreme Court.
She has made corroborating witnesses part of what bolsters her story from the very beginning. From the very beginning it has never just been I say this thing and he denies it. She`s had other people who could help back her up and they`re insisting they don`t want to hear from any of those people.
And if she wants them to hear from any of those people, that`s a deal breaker for them and she can`t come before the Senate at all. They are not playing from the history books on this.
O`DONNELL: No, they`re not even pretending to be. Thank you Rachel.
Well, we just got this information from Dr. Ford`s lawyer. Their response to this threatened deadline of 10:00 p.m. to make up your mind, and I`m going to read you the final paragraph of what Debra Katz said to the committee staff in response to this threatened deadline tonight of 10:00 p.m.
She said "The 10:00 p.m. deadline is arbitrary. Its sole purpose is to bully Dr. Ford and deprive her of the ability to make a considered decision that has life altering implications for her and her family. She has already been forced out of her home and continues to be subjected to harassment, hate mail and death threats. Our modest request is that she be given an additional day to make her decision."
And I`m so glad that Debra Katz has used the word "bullied" to describe exactly what Chuck Grassley and all of the Republicans in the Senate are trying to do because every Republican senator has joined and supported Chuck Grassley in the bullying tactics that Chuck Grassley has been using with Dr. Ford.
The first deadline that Senator Chuck Grassley gave to Professor Christine Blasey Ford to agree to his terms for her to testify to the Judiciary Committee was 10:00 a.m. this morning, that was her deadline. And then he moved that deadline to 5:00 p.m. today and then he moved that deadline again to 10:00 p.m.
And each time Senator Grassley did that, he did it in the media first. He announced it to the media before he announced it to or communicated directly with Dr. Ford`s lawyers. Senator Grassley, reached some compromises with Dr. Ford`s attorneys, but refused some of Dr. Ford`s most important requests.
Senator Grassley agreed to the request that Brett Kavanaugh would not be in the room when Dr. Ford was testifying, but did not agree to her request that Brett Kavanaugh testify first. Senator Grassley wants Dr. Ford to testify first followed by Brett Kavanaugh. Dr, Ford requested that only senators be allowed to ask questions, but senator Grassley said the committee will, "reserve the option to have female staff attorneys who are sensitive to the particulars of Dr. Ford`s allegations and are experienced investigators to question both witnesses. We believe this will allow for informed questioning, will generate the most insightful testimony and will help de-politicize the hearing."
Chairman Grassley has refused Dr. Ford`s request that the committee subpoena the testimony of Mark Judge, who Dr. Ford says was in the room when Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her and participated in that assault.
The 10 Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter to Chairman Grassley today saying, "The committee should at a minimum hear from the FBI, the individual who administered Dr. Ford`s polygraph test and all witnesses to the event. This includes Mark Judge, each of the individuals Republican staff have contacted and other relevant witnesses.
There is simply no reason not to hear all it facts. The committee should also hear from character witnesses for Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford. It is only fair to both. As well as from outside experts who can speak to these allegations."
And one reason the Democrats want outside experts to testify is a tweet by the president of the United States this morning. "I have no doubt that if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local law enforcement authorities by either her or her loving parents. I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn a date, time and a place."
As bad as she says. That is the new presidential defense of his nominee. Early this week, the president was pretending that he wanted to hear what Dr. Ford had to say, but that`s all over now. Donald Trump is not pretending anymore, but he does seem willing to accept the notion that Christine Blasey Ford was attacked by Brett Kavanaugh when they were in high school, but the attack just wasn`t that bad.
He said if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says. The president`s acceptance of an attack in that tweet suggests that the White House and the Republicans are anticipating very convincing testimony from Dr. Ford. That is also the working principle behind a twitter campaign launched yesterday and then quickly abandoned in which a Republican operative pushing the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh suggested another suspect from Brett Kavanaugh`s high school class because he looks like Brett Kavanaugh in their high school photos.
Now, we`re not going to show you those photos that were posted on twitter because it is so reckless and irresponsible a charge that Republican Ed Whelan who posted this theory has completely retracted it. Ed Whelan is the head of an organization that falsely calls itself the Ethics and Public Policy Center.
And he is obviously a morally bankrupt, ethically vacant human being. But he works closely with Republicans administration on Supreme Court confirmations. And the most interesting part of Ed Whelan`s perverse theory of the case is that he completely accepts the idea that Dr. Ford was sexually assaulted, it just wasn`t Brett Kavanaugh.
That tells you that the Republican machinery that is working overtime to defend Brett Kavanaugh is expecting Dr. Ford to be so convincing a witness that the only two defenses available in the end might be mistaken identity or as Donald Trump says just wasn`t that bad.
Republicans have no intention of offering Dr. Ford a fair hearing. Fair is out of the question. The question is only how unfair will it be. It`s going to be so unfair that the Republican leader of the Senate today said he already has the votes for the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh. It`s a done deal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: You`ve watched the fight, you`ve watched the tactics, but here`s what I want to tell you. In the very near future Judge Kavanaugh will be on the United States Supreme Court. So, my friends keep the faith. Don`t get rattled by all of this. We`re going to plow right through it and do our job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Plow right through it. Mitch McConnell knows the outcome. He has not heard one word from Dr. Ford, but he knows he is going to plow right through it. Mitch McConnell does not have a public record of lying when he says he has the votes to get something through the Senate. And that`s what he said today, he has the votes.
So the question tonight about those Republican votes in the Senate is, is Mitch McConnell lying or is Senator Susan Collins lying when she says that she`s undecided? Is Senator Lisa Murkowski lying when she says that she is undecided? Is Senator Jeff Flake lying when he says that he wants to hear the testimony of Dr. Ford? Why would jeff flake need to hear the testimony of Dr. Ford.
Why would Jeff Flake need to hear that testimony? Mitch McConnell just said he has Jeff Flake`s vote in his pocket right now. It`s a done deal. The Democratic senator`s letter to Chairman Grassley says, "there is not an effort to get -- this is not an effort to get to the truth. We fear that rather than learning from the past Senate Republicans and the Trump administration are repeating this committee`s previous mistakes and making new ones.
Up to this point the committee and majority`s treatment of Dr. Ford has unquestionably been worse than the disgraceful treatment that Anita Hill received 27 years ago. And that disgraceful treatment was delivered to Anita Hill by Chuck Grassley who was a member of the committee then and by Orrin Hatch who was a Republican member of the committee then.
They have both spent the week lying about the precedent set in the Anita Hill case. And in every such controversy in the confirmation process, the standard procedure of an FBI investigation. They`re not doing that for Dr. Ford. No FBI investigation because their plan is to treat her with even more unfairness than they treated Anita Hill.
Anita Hill`s accusations got three days of testimony in the Senate judiciary committee, 22 witnesses were heard. Chuck Grassley wants one day of a hearing with only two witnesses, Judge Kavanaugh and Dr. Ford. Because chuck Grassley`s job is to do what you just heard Mitch McConnell promised, to just plow right through it.
Democrats want to hear from all the relevant witnesses and, "outside experts who can speak to these allegations." That`s always a good idea. But now for fairness, it is an absolutely mandatory idea now that the president of the United States is publicly questioning why Christine Blasey Ford did not report this assault when she was a teenager.
The reasons that young girls and women don`t report these assaults are well-known. They`ve been discussed many times on television. We know Donald Trump watches television. There`s a vast body of scholarly literature about it. There are articles in the popular press about it. And there have been for decades. We all know the painful reasons that sometimes these cases are not reported.
Hundreds of thousands of women tweeted today under the #WhyIDidntReport and I urge you all to spend some time reading their reasons, their personal reasons. Women know the reasons. You know who else knows the reasons? Sexual assaulters. They`re counting on women not reporting. And the president of the United States is both an accused sexual assaulter and a confessed sexual assaulter.
We all heard him describe the sexual assaultive way in which he likes to grab women when he was recorded on that "Access Hollywood" bus surrounded by strangers, a camera crew, a bus driver, all sorts of people he didn`t know. And that`s what he was willing to confess to them, to strangers. So imagine what his real personal truth and his real personal history is on sexual assault.
His first wife accused him of rape under oath. And so, an accused sexual assaulter has now given his opinion in a sexual assault case. And his opinion is that whatever Brett Kavanaugh did to Christine Ford, it just wasn`t that bad -- wasn`t as bad as she says.
Presidents are not supposed to comment on criminal investigations, but Donald Trump has done that many times. Presidents are not supposed to comment on ongoing criminal cases, but Donald Trump has done that many times. Presidents are not supposed to comment about a criminal trial, but Donald Trump did that during the Paul Manafort trial.
He tried to influence the Manafort jury because he had every right to believe that there were Trump voters on the Manafort jury, and he was right. But the one Manafort juror who we heard from was a Trump voter, and she took her oath as a juror very seriously. And she voted guilty on every single count against Paul Manafort.
Republican United States senators do not take their oaths as seriously as Paul Manafort`s jurors did. And so their minds are made up. If you believe Mitch McConnell, their minds are made up. They`re going to plow right through it. Minds are made up before Dr. Ford has spoken a single word.
During Charles Manson`s trial for multiple murders, President Nixon made the mistake in a rushed answer in a press conference of suggesting that Charles Manson was guilty and the Nixon White House immediately issued a corrective statement retracting that comment saying the president of course did not intend to make that comment, the president did not intend to influence that trial or influence that jury in any way.
Donald Trump is now trying to tamper with the jury. Mitch McConnell has surely told Donald Trump that he has the votes to confirm Judge Kavanaugh. So, the Senate is not the jury Donald Trump is trying to influence. Donald Trump is trying to influence the jury that votes on November 6th.
He`s trying to influence the jury whose first chance to make their statement about what they see in the Senate judiciary Committee next week will occur on November 6th. And what he`s saying to that jury is what Donald Trump has always said, you cannot believe the woman, you must never believe the woman because whatever happened it was not as bad as she says.
After this break, we will be joined by a group of congressional experts who know the confirmation process well. Wendy Sherman, Lisa Graves, Mieke Eoyang and Norm Ornstein.
O`DONNELL: Today 48 members of the faculty of Yale Law School wrote a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee about one of Yale Law School`s graduates, Brett Kavanaugh. The lawyers says, "With so much at stake for the Supreme Court and the nation, we are concerned about a rush to judgment that threatens both the integrity of the process and the public`s confidence in the court.
Allegations of sexual assault require a neutral factfinder and in investigation that can ascertain facts fairly. Those at the FBI or others tasked with such an investigation must have adequate time to investigate facts. Some questions are so fundamental to judicial integrity that it Senate cannot rush past them without undermining the public`s confidence in the court."
Joining our discussion now Ambassador Wendy Sherman, former under secretary of state. Twenty-seven years ago Wendy Sherman helped Anita Hill deal with the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, which she describes in her new book "Not For The Faint Of Heart." Also joining us Lisa Graves, the former chief counsel for nominations for the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Mieke Eoyang is with us, a former staffer on the House Intelligence Committee and importantly here, former chief of staff to Ana Eshoo who was the first member of Congress who Dr. Ford communicated with about her sexual assault charges. And also joining us is Congressional scholar Norm Ornstein.
And Wendy Sherman, I want to go to you first. Very important point that Democrats make in their letter to Chuck Grassley, that this committee, the majority of this committee, Republicans, are intent on delivering a more unfair hearing this time than they did for Anita Hill.
WENDY SHERMAN, CONSULTANT FOR ANITA HILL: Right, it was one the most dismiss weekends of my life, Lawrence, and I must say this appears to be worse. At the time, the Democrats thought they were holding a hearing. The Republicans believe they were holding a trial, and they put Anita Hill on trial. I actually agree with you. I think that in this case, Dr. Ford should go first, but that`s really for her negotiations so that in fact she can lay the terms of this discussion.
But even in that case there were witnesses, but back in the time of Anita Hill the witnesses who had also been harassed by Clarence Thomas were not allowed to testify. There were so many ways in which she was cis disabled, and that has happened in spades this time completely bullying Dr. Ford at every single turn here.
It is really quite disturbing, and today the Senate nominee, Republican nominee for the United States Senate, Mr. Kramer said what`s the big deal in essence, they were drinking and nothing came of it. Is he really saying it only matters if she had been raped fully raped? It is just astonishing to me that we still live in a time with the MeToo movement, with the woman`s movement, with all that we have tried to do to change this world, that we`re seeing even worse behavior than we did in 1991.
O`DONNELL: Lisa Graves, I want to get your reaction to where the negotiations stand now. Attorney Katz in representing Dr. Ford in her response to the committee tonight did for the first time use the word "bully." That the Republicans and Republican staff on the committee speaking for chairman Grassley have been trying to bully Dr. Ford every step of the way.
LISA GRAVES, FORMER STAFFER, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well, I think that`s an accurate description of what`s going on, and I would go a step further, which is to say that this is really an effort to railroad her and to create some sort of situation in which in fact she doesn`t testify. I think that a fair reading of what`s going on this week is terror on the part of the White House, on the part of the nominations team for Kavanaugh at letting her testify fairly.
They`ve thrown up every roadblock, they have made a pretense in the press. Senator Grassley has lied to the American people. He has lied to the other members in that committee about the precedent for having the FBI go back. Meanwhile, Brett Kavanaugh has been in (inaudible) of the White House, working out various things to say.
His allies have been out bringing forward with the most discredible claims to try to smear an innocent person, a schoolteacher, to try to blame someone else. You have the statement by Senator McConnell today basically taking for granted that Susan Collins, that Lisa Murkowski, that Jeff Flake, that Senator Corker, that they`re all just going to go along with this charade, this sham.
It`s despicable, it`s discredible, it`s dishonorable, and the American people are watching. American women are watching. American men who love them are watching. And they`ll be held to account if they do not allow this woman a chance to really tell her story and have that opportunity to make sure the American people know they`re about to put someone accused of attempted rape on the highest court in our country. Nothing could be more serious when it comes to the integrity of our courts and what`s happening is a sham.
O`DONNELL: Lisa, I have to say, I my experience with Mitch McConnell, I think it`s possible much worse than he`s taking Senator Collins` vote for granted or Senator Murkowski`s vote for granted, but that he`s actually been promised those votes by those senators secretly because he`s not the type to go out there and talk about votes he doesn`t have. He usually doesn`t do that.
Mieke Eoyang, I want to get to you. You were chief of staff of Congressman Eshoo. That`s actually where this information was first delivered to Congress, the very first letter that Dr. Ford wrote was delivered to the congresswoman who you used to work for. What can you tell us about Congresswoman Eshoo`s reaction to this and what it felt like to have that anonymity request while she was reading this explosive information?
MIEKE EOYANG, FORMER STAFFER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Yes. I think that this was one of the real differences what you see between the Anita Hill experience that Wendy talked about and today, is that the first few people who are handling Dr. Ford`s allegations were women, who were deeply empathetic to what she was going through and what she was saying, who were very respectful about her wish for confidentiality, and let the victim`s wishes really guide the ways in which they were handling the information instead of turning it into the this media circus.
Now, Congresswoman Eshoo has always been a very strong supporter of women and she issued a statement on behalf of her constituent, Dr. Ford. So, I think that she is really staying -- standing in her corner and what you see now is that once the process (ph) has been turned over to Senator Grassley and some of the men who are more interested in the politics than the wishes of the victim, this thing has turned completely upside down.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Senator Susan Collins said today about President Trump`s tweet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: I was appalled by the president`s tweet. First of all, we know that allegations of sexual assault -- I`m not saying that`s what happened in this case -- but we know that allegations of sexual assault are one of the most unreported crimes that exist. So I thought that the president`s tweet was completely inappropriate and wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Norm Ornstein, when Mitch McConnell says he has the votes, he usually has the votes.
NORMAN ORNSTEIN, CONGRESSIONAL SCHOLAR: Yes, but I`m not sure he does in this case, Lawrence. I think he`s trying to push this through before things can turn in a very bad direction. And it may be that he thinks he has the votes, but the pressure on Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski is extraordinary right now.
And I must say if the Democrats end up just sort of watching this happen and we get a vote in the committee on Monday and then they begin to move towards a schedule on the floor, they ought to hold their own hearing with Mrs. Ford. They ought to bring in Lisa Fairstein, who knows more about how to handle cases of alleged sexual assault than anybody.
As a witness, they ought top bring in Ronald Reagan`s daughter, Patty Davis, who have this happen to her and didn`t tell anybody about it. John Dickerson`s wife, Anne, who had something like this happen and didn`t tell anybody about it, and lay out the case themselves and then make it so that the people who vote for Brett Kavanaugh including those like Jeff Flake and Lisa Murkowski who said we shouldn`t do this until we hear from her.
The idea that because she wouldn`t do it on Monday or Wednesday and wanted to wait until Thursday, is going to be an excuse. I think you`ve got to put these cards on the table and force this so that McConnell maybe won`t quite prevail.
O`DONNELL: And Wendy Sherman, the only clear ask that is left on Dr. Ford`s side is literally Thursday instead of Wednesday. And these Republicans who left the Supreme Court seat open for more than a year are going to try to make the case that, no, America cannot proceed without having this hearing on Wednesday. It can`t possibly wait 24 hours.
SHERMAN: Look, Lawrence, they not only waited a year to fill this seat, they didn`t allow Merit Garland to sit at all, to even have a hearing. So delay -- Republicans saying there shouldn`t be a delay is an absurd notion.
When Patty Davis wrote her op-ed today, she waited 40 years to have the justice of at least being able to tell her story. What matters here is what my colleagues have said on TV tonight, which is this is someone we are putting on the Supreme Court for a lifetime appointment. Dr. Ford has already had to live with this assault for her lifetime. The least we can do is really truly hear her.
O`DONNELL: I think we all remember that march of women, members of the House of Representatives who marched over to the United States Senate to demand that Anita Hill be heard by the judiciary committee. That`s because there weren`t enough women in the United States Senate at the time --
SHERMAN: Two. Only two.
O`DONNELL: -- to create that image. That`s right. And Lisa Graves, every single United States senator has a right to be present in that Judiciary Committee hearing room at any time. And if Chuck Grassley tries to move to a vote on Monday, I would expect every single Democratic senator to be physically present in that room raising their voices to stop that.
GRAVES: I think that there will be a lot of voices raised on Monday if this goes forward to a vote. I think you have senators and members of the house who are extremely upset about this and they`re hearing from people across the country; Brett Kavanaugh is the most unpopular nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court in the history of polling.
And I don`t think that Grassley is going to be able to bang that gavel and force this through with the number of voices that are going to be speaking out. I would point out also, Lawrence, that Google and Facebook in their negotiations for their hearing got a lot more due process than Dr. Ford. What does that say about Chairman Grassley?
O`DONNELL: Yes. They got a lot more of their demands met on both scheduling -- and by the way scheduling is the easiest thing. Witnesses get the schedule that they can comply with. And Meika, when I think of those women from the House of Representative 27 years ago making that march, House members, all have Senate floor privileges. They can walk around to the Senate floor at any time. I would expect the Senate floor to be filled with every single Democratic member of the House next week if Chuck Grassley and Mitch McConnell are really trying to ram this through.
EOYANG: That`s right. And that`s actually how those women including my first boss Pat Schroeder got into the Senate dining room to harangue their colleagues about what was happening to Anita Hill. But the rage that you`re going to see now, we`re really talking about tearing the country apart, and as the Yale Law School letter says at some point we have to ask what`s best for the good of the country.
Richard Nixon lost two different Supreme Court nominees and then couldn`t get a number of other ones appointed. At some point, they`ve got to be able to find someone who meets the standard of integrity that we expect for a Supreme Court Justice. And there`s no reason why members of Congress shouldn`t be up in arms if they can`t find that person.
O`DONNELL: Norm, I think the truth of what the Republican thinking is on this is Dr. Ford`s accusations accepted at face value are OK with us. And they`re OK either because they happened in high school or because as Donald Trump puts it, it just wasn`t that bad.
ORNSTEIN.: Well, this has gone from this absolutely didn`t happen, it`s an 11th hour hit job to, well, maybe it happened but it wasn`t so bad to, well, maybe it happened but it was a case of mistaken identity. But the bottom line here, Lawrence, is this has been for a while a devil`s bargain. They will take anything that Donald Trump does or says in return for getting judges.
What McConnell did over a number of years to block judicial nominations from going through, Merrick Garland was one, dozens of district court and especially appeals court judges saying he wouldn`t let any D.C. Circuit nominees through for years when Obama was president. This is the number one priority for them because they know they won`t be in power for all that long, and they can have people who can make decisions for 30 or 40 years, and it is immoral to operate in this fashion. That is the only appropriate word we can say on television.
O`DONNELL: Norm Ornstein, thank you for joining this discussion tonight. Ambassador Wendy Sherman, Lisa Graves, Mieke Eoyang, thank you all for this important discussion. Really appreciate you being here.
When we come back, Trump supporters are using a "New York Times" report on Rod Rosenstein to try to get Rod Rosenstein fired. The question is, was it a joke when Rod Rosenstein was talking about wearing a wire and using the 25th Amendment to get Donald Trump out of power?
O`DONNELL: Was it a joke? In a Trump world, what difference does it make? That`s the question or the questions Donald Trump is facing tonight as he thinks about firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein after "The New York Times" report today indicating that Rosenstein discussed wearing a wire to record President Trump so that recording could be used to gather the support of the vice president and the majority of the cabinet to use the 25th Amendment to remove Donald Trump and install Mike Pence as the acting president as provided for in the 25th Amendment.
The first public discussion of using the 25th Amendment to remove Donald Trump from power was on this program one month into the Trump presidency when we had already seen enough madness in the White House to know this president is a danger to us and the world. And it turns out the Trump administration was thinking about it almost as early as I was. Today`s report confirms an anonymously written op-ed piece in "The New York Times" by a senior Trump administration official who said that there were early whispers about using the 25th Amendment against Donald Trump.
After a break, Mieke Eoyang and Harry Litman will join us to consider why Sean Hannity leaned into his camera tonight to tell the president of the United States directly not to fire Rod Rosenstein.
O`DONNELL: John Hannity has some advice tonight about the breaking news story that "The New York Times" began today about Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein talking about possibly wearing a wire to record President Trump to amass evidence to use the 25th Amendment process to remove President Trump from power and install Mike Pence as the acting president. Sean Hannity`s advice to Donald Trump about this is very surprising.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I have a message for the president tonight. Under zero circumstances should the president fire anybody, these actors tonight and I have multiple sources confirming this and more information coming. They are hoping and praying that the president does just that. They`re hoping he gets mad, that he gets sick and tired of it, and that they can turn this politically into their equivalent of a Friday night massacre. The president needs to know it is all a setup.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Accepting the challenge to try to make sense of all of this are Harry Litman, the former U.S. attorney, and deputy assistant attorney general under President Clinton and Mieke Eoyang is back with us.
And Harry, the Sean Hannity theory is someone did this specifically to try to trigger the president to fire Rod Rosenstein so that then an avalanche of criticism would come down on the president for doing that before the midterms and then help turn out Democratic voters for the midterms.
HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Yes. How`s that for a triple bank shot?
O`DONNELL: There it is. That`s the Hannity theory.
LITMAN: And who`s on the other side of the pool cue? I mean the whole thing is completely crazy, of course. But what to put in mind at first is just the sense of crisis that pervaded the Justice Department back in May when we were first sort of getting the exposure to the madman in the White House. Now, it`s become almost normalized. But in those early days where you were first seeing erratic and anti-constitutional behavior, you were having these serious meetings at the department.
I don`t believe that Rod Rosenstein would or did seriously consider himself wearing a wire. But nevertheless, you have all the officials around the table broaching the 25th Amendment, broaching even in humor wearing a wire. That is just a crazy situation. And yet things have only gotten crazier since but we`ve somehow gotten inert to it.
O`DONNELL: Yes. In other administrations, that stuff doesn`t even come up as a joke. Rod Rosenstein`s first response to this was to say, ""The New York Times" story is inaccurate and factually incorrect. I will not further comment on a story based on anonymous sources." But then he was forced to further comment hours later. In a second statement, Rosenstein said, "I never pursued or authorized recording the president and any suggestion that I have ever advocated for the removal of the president is absolutely false." So, Mieke, Rod Rosenstein did feel it necessary to refute the two big points in the article.
EYOANG: Yes. It`s very clear that Rod Rosenstein`s job has been in jeopardy for quite some time and the president is just looking for a fuse to fire him. So he needs Rosenstein to make all kinds of statements of loyalty, telling him he`s not a target of the investigation, assuring him that he didn`t intend to suggest he was going to wear a wire.
But to Hannity`s point, from Trump`s point of view the last time he fired someone senior at the Department of Justice, we wound up with the Mueller investigation. So if he`s going to do it again, who knows what consequences are going to ensue. Firing Rosenstein at this point will trigger a very serious red line from Congress in the sense that he`s really interfering with an ongoing investigation. Rosenstein is the one who gave him the figly for firing Comey, to begin with. He won`t have anyone left to write that excuse for him. It is a terrible idea to fire Rosenstein.
O`DONNELL: And Harry, knowing what you know about the Trump White House from Bob Woodward`s book and all the other inside the White House reporting that we have, it`s clear that someone in the White House must have believed that the president was close enough to firing Rod Rosenstein, that someone needed to enlist Sean Hannity to tell him not to do it on TV.
LITMAN: That`s right. Now, is it a friend or a foe? We also know, by the way, to Mieke`s point, that the White House actually pushed on the Department of Justice to have Rosenstein issue his second denial. So that doesn`t seem like the sort of institutional response of a White House that`s gearing up to fire him.
Nevertheless, I do certainly take the point of all that could follow were he to be fired but he`ll never have a better excuse than this. I mean if he asserts that this was done seriously and there`s a lot that happened at the meeting other than that kind of joke and jest, he`ll be on firmer ground than he was yesterday and will be tomorrow.
O`DONNELL: We await Donald Trump`s announcement of the firing because he believes "The New York Times." Harry Litman and Mieke Eoyang, thank you both for joining our discussion tonight.
President Trump said things about Dr. Ford who has accused Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault, said it today on twitter. And he asked why she didn`t come forward when she was a 15-year-old girl to report that attack? Hundreds of thousands of women came forward today and told Donald Trump why I didn`t report.
O`DONNELL: Last night, the president asked a question about the sexual assault allegation against Brett Kavanaugh, a question that he knows the answer to.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: To see what`s going on is just very, very sad. You say why didn`t somebody call the FBI 36 years ago?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Donald Trump knows why. Confessed sexual assaulters like Donald Trump know the answer to that question, that`s why people like Donald Trump repeatedly sexually assault women as he is accused of doing throughout his entire adulthood. And as he boasted about on that "Access Hollywood" video when he describes his preferred methods of sexual assault.
There are now hundreds of thousands of answers to Donald Trump`s question on Twitter under the hashtag #WhyIDidntReport. Sexual assaulters know why women don`t report. That is what sexual assaulters are counting on, that they will never be reported. And I hope that I`m just one of millions of men who spent a couple of hours today reading those answers. Thousands of them contained an identical line, word for word, no one would believe me. It keeps recurring as a haunting refrain as you read why I didn`t report.
Angela Ward said, "I was 17 and he was my best friend and told me no one would believe me. He had more friends than I did and his parents knew mine and I thought I would be blamed #WhyIDidn`Report."
Darrell Hannah said, "I did. It didn`t matter. I was dismissed, disparaged and I still get blamed, #WhyIDidn`tReport."
Paisley Flower said, "The first time, I was eight years old. The second time I was 12. Both times, I was frozen with fear. I didn`t tell anyone for fear no one would believe me. I was a little girl and I was terrified. I still haven`t told. I still freeze up when I think about it, #WhyIDidntReport."
Amee Vanderpool said, "I was humiliated. I knew everyone would find out. I was afraid it would ruin my professional reputation before I had even started. I was afraid they would not believe me and let him hold my grade back. I was afraid they would not let me graduate from law school, #WhyIDidntReport."
Chrissy said, "Why I didn`t report? Because I was a new private in the army deployed overseas and I didn`t know anyone. I trusted him because he was my NCO. Everyone loved him. He could do no wrong. No one would have believed me."
Cindy McFarlane said, "At 13, I was given a list of questions that would be asked if I reported. Most were accusatory. No traumatized 13-year-old is going to agree to that. When I tried to report a few years later, the question was, do you have proof? #WhyIDidntReport."
Jessica Raven said, "The first thing I wanted to do after being raped was take a shower and shower again and again and again to get the feeling of being violated off of me. With support from friends, I did attempt to report it and I was told that there was no proof because I showered, #WhyIDidntReport."
Christina Reynolds of EMILY`s list added an important footnote when reading these stories. She said, "The #WhyIDidntReport tweets are powerful, but please understand that those are only coming from people comfortable about talking about what happened to them in some way. There are many people who are still silent. This represents just a portion of the problem we face as a society."
Maureen Shaw said, "I was only 15 and scared. Nobody would believe me or worse, would blame me. I was scared he would do it again if I told anyone. It was and still is humiliating to recount such profoundly sexual violent details. I didn`t want to break my parents` hearts, #WhyIDidntReport."
And so parents of daughters have a big job to do. Don`t ever let your daughters feel that they can break your hearts by telling you the truth. And parents of sons, have a much more important job to do. Stop the violence. Do not let your sons grow up to be the guy that did that to Maureen Shaw or to anyone else.
O`DONNELL: We began this hour with the report that Debra Katz, attorney for Dr. Ford was asking for an extension of Chuck Grassley`s 10:00 P.M. deadline that was imposed on Dr. Ford`s night to decide whether she would testify next week. One of the lines in Debra Katz` letter to Chuck Grassley says the 10:00 P.M. deadline is arbitrary. It is so arbitrary that the 10 P.M. deadline has passed. Dr. Ford has not agreed to testify next week, and Chuck Grassley has not responded to his own arbitrary deadline that he set for 10:00 P.M. tonight.
That`s tonight`s last word. "THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS" starts now.
Copy: Content and programming copyright 2018 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Copyright 2018 ASC Services II Media, LLC. All materials herein are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of ASC Services II Media, LLC. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content.