Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: October 8, 2018 Guest: David Frum, Max Boot, Lisa Graves, Cecile Richards; Nadya Tolokonnikova
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Joy. Thank you very much.
Well, the strangest meeting in history between a president and a deputy attorney general took place today on Air Force One. It was a meeting that President Trump scheduled specifically to set up a competing television event on the day that Christine Blasey Ford presented her accusations about Brett Kavanaugh to the Judiciary Committee. The strategy seemed to be to draw cameras away from what the White House expected to be a damaging hearing for Brett Kavanaugh.
But there was a genuine sense of urgency about the meeting the president wanted to have with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein because Rod Rosenstein was then publicly struggling to deny a story in "The New York Times" saying that early in the Trump administration, Rod Rosenstein discussed trying to assemble evidence to be used in convincing the vice president and the cabinet to remove President Trump from power by using the process authorized in the 25th Amendment. And Rod Rosenstein in that story was being quoted as willing to wear a wire possibly himself to record the president, to gather evidence against the president.
Speculation was then running high that the president would use the meeting that was scheduled for the same time as the Kavanaugh hearing to fire Rod Rosenstein and force TV attention to shift to the theatrical drama of Rod Rosenstein arriving at the White House and then leaving the White House and perhaps the president then making a statement about the firing, but the president canceled that meeting and decided to watch the hearing on TV like the rest of us. The meeting was rescheduled for today on an airplane, which couldn`t be more ironic because of this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Bill Clinton gets into the back of an airplane for 39 minutes, just prior to a determination being made, but gets on with the attorney general because he happened to be in Arizona playing golf. It was 110 degrees out, right? Nobody saw him on the golf course. Just happened to be there. Oh, there`s the attorney general. Oh, let me get back on the plane.
So they spent 39 minutes in the back of the plane. They talked about two things, golf and grandchildren, 39 minutes. So, I give the grandchildren five minutes, I give the golf three minutes right? What else do you think might have been talked about?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Well, you know the president didn`t talk about the grandchildren today.
As a candidate for president, Donald Trump and every Republican considered it an outrage that a former president of the United States would meet with a current attorney general over whom the former president had absolutely no power, and they found something extra conspiratorial in the fact that the meeting occurred on an airplane and the fact that Bill Clinton`s private plane landed in the same place as the attorney general`s plane. Today, Donald Trump met on an airplane with the deputy attorney general who is investigating him, investigating him.
Rod Rosenstein is the supervising special -- he`s the supervisor of the special prosecutor, of supervisor of Robert Mueller`s investigation. So, Rod Rosenstein is in effect the highest level working prosecutor in the Justice Department. And he`s supervising the prosecutor who`s investigating the president of the United States.
So, the Justice Department official has the ultimate control over the investigation of the president, met with the president today to try to convince him he was not part of a plot to use the 25th Amendment to remove him from power and he didn`t suggest the possibility of he himself wearing a wire to record either demented or criminal language by the president that could then be used to convince the vice president and the cabinet to remove the president from power. That is the strangest meeting that has ever occurred in the history of the United States of America between a president and a member of the Justice Department.
Here`s what reporters got from the president about that meeting after Air Force One landed today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The press wants to know what did you talk about? Well, we had a very good talk, I will say. That became a very big story, actually, folks. We had a good talk.
REPORTER: What did you say to Rod Rosenstein today, Mr. President?
TRUMP: We just had a very nice talk. We actually get along and a really good talk.
REPORTER: Did you say your job is safe? Is his job safe?
TRUMP: Yes, I`m not doing anything, I`m good. So, I`m not -- I don`t want to do anything about that. I`m not making any changes. You`d be the first to know. I`m not making any changes, though.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Not making any changes is what he was asked if he was firing Rod Rosenstein or anyone else in the Justice Department.
The president decided today that defending his campaign and himself against the charges of colluding with Russia was not enough. It was time to accuse the Democrats of colluding with Russia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Everybody understands there was no collusion. There`s no Russia. It was all made up by the Democrats. They`re the ones that colluded with Russia. The Democrats colluded with Russia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: As the president was telling that lie, "The New York Times" was reporting new details on the Mueller investigation. "The Times" reports, a top Trump campaign official requested proposals in 2016 from an Israeli company to create fake online identities to use social media manipulation to gather intelligence to help defeat primary race opponents and Hillary Clinton according to interviews and copies of the proposals.
The Trump campaign`s interest in the work began as Russians were escalating their effort to aide Donald J. Trump. Though the Israeli company`s pitches were narrower than Moscow`s interference campaign and appear unconnected, the documents show that a senior Trump aide saw the promise of a disruption effort to swing voters in Mr. Trump`s favor. Investigators working for Robert S. Mueller III have obtained copies of the proposals and questioned the Israeli company`s employees.
According to "The Times," the Trump aide who requested the proposal was Rick Gates, who pleaded guilty in the Mueller investigation in February and has been cooperating with prosecutors. And "The Wall Street Journal" is reporting that a Republican operative secretly raised $100,000 from donors to in an effort to obtain what he believed were Hillary Clinton`s e-mails before the 2016 election, what "The Wall Street Journal" called, quote, activities that remain of intense interest to federal investigators working for special counsel Robert Mueller`s office and on Capitol Hill.
And with only 29 days to go until election day, "Axios" is reporting Chief of Staff John Kelly recently formed a small working group to start preparing for the possibility that Democrats will soon put Congress` top investigators on Trump world. Senior White House staff have an off-site weekend retreat scheduled for late October. The agenda is expected to include a discussion of investigations under a Democratic controlled House.
Joining our discussion now, Joyce Vance, former U.S. attorney for the northern district of Alabama, and professor at the University Alabama School of Law. Also joining us, David Frum, senior editor for "The Atlantic" and author of "Trumpocracy: The Corruption of the American Republic", and Max Boot, senior fellow at the Council On Foreign Relations and author of the new book, "The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right."
And, Max, I`d like to start with you tonight with the president deciding to change his defense from there was no collusion to the Democrats colluded with Russia.
MAX BOOT, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: This is the old no puppet, you`re the puppet defense. I mean it`s preposterous, Lawrence. It doesn`t make any sense, and yet it has been strangely convincing to a large section, at least of the Republican electorate.
I mean, the way Republicans have gone along with these fairy tales that Donald Trump tells, his obfuscation, his attempts to obstruct justice, I mean, this is one of the major reasons. I`m not a Republican anymore. I mean, I can imagine Republicans making compromises with Trump on certain areas and saying, OK, I`m going to overlook a few deranged tweets if I`m going to get tax cuts or Supreme Court justices.
But how do you overlook the fact he`s fired the FBI director and has been engaged in nonstop obstruction of justice even as senior aide after senior aide has been found guilty of felonies. I mean, imagine what these Republicans would be saying if this were happening to Hillary Clinton. Its outrageous and I don`t know who to be more outraged about, whether it`s the fact -- you`re seeing this kind of behavior from Trump, or all these Republicans who claim to be the law and order party, they`re excusing it and they`re enabling it. It`s just disgusting.
O`DONNELL: I mean, I have to say, it seems to me that the outrage should be maybe double for the people who are enabling it because Donald Trump is only one person.
Joyce Vance, I want to go to the Rick Gates element of the news tonight, which is so fascinating, is we see in this the Trump campaign trying to make some explorations, earlier explorations possibly this time involving Israelis about how to manipulate social media, how to work this part of the world to their advantage. And Rick Gates seems to be the person who knows that story.
JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: This is an interesting development, and Mueller seems to hold a lot of cards here, because he has Rick Gates as his cooperating witness, someone who can lead him through the story.
You know, on its face, this is not what we think of an as an illegal campaign contribution. This if the reporting were to be borne out would be the Trump campaign engaging, paying for the services of an Israeli company. And although it could possibly be illegal in some way, it`s not a campaign financial violation.
But we know that George Nadir, who is acting as an emissary for the Saudi princes, made a $2 million payment to Joel Zamel, who ran Psy-Group, the Israeli company after the election. And if it turns out that was a payment that was made for the campaign, then all sorts of campaign finance violations could be possible. And Rick Gates who was right in the middle of it can tell Bob Mueller exactly what happened.
O`DONNELL: And, David Frum, in the midst of all this, of course, there`s "The New York Times" story about the Trump family tax schemes and tax evasion schemes, intergenerational over time. I want to listen to something the president said about that today when he was asked, because he has famous sly declared at some point in his adulthood, his father gave him $1 million and that`s it. That was his meager start in life.
And we`ve since discovered he was given $1 million by his father when he was a little boy. But let`s listen to what Donald Trump said today in -- when he faced questions about this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: How much money did you get from your father?
TRUMP: Very well-documented. Very well-documented.
REPORTER: Was it more than $1 million?
TRUMP: Yes, it`s been documented for many years. Very well, all public documents.
REPORTER: Are you worried that Democrats will look into your taxes?
TRUMP: Not at all. Not at all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: David Frum, the answer has gone from oh, he gave me a million dollars once to just refusing to answer the question and pretending it`s been very well-documented.
DAVID FRUM, THE ATLANTIC: It`s gone from defamatory, libelous, to inappropriate to old news to no big deal at all. As we listen to all these stories, do you remember that children`s game duck, duck, goose, where you go around the table with a group of kids, with so many areas of Donald Trump, there`s possible crime, possible crime, possible crime. Here, this is goose, it`s actual crime.
If you falsify invoices in order to deceive tax authorities, that`s a crime. And that`s what "The Times" so credibly reported the Trump family has done. Now, in this case, it happened outside the statute of limitations. And maybe they did it for half a century and then stopped and never did it again, but maybe not. Maybe the patterns for half a century continued.
And I think -- you know, as many people watch your program and all of us appear on it get frustrated things happen and we seem to be in the world of spin and not realities. But when you have a very credible allegation of an actual crime, and when there`s a new house that assumes the work of investigation, I think suddenly we meet realities.
There`s going to have be a special counsel to look at the question, is the president of the United States at present committing tax crimes?
O`DONNELL: Yes, and, Max, the president was asked recently -- the White House press secretary was asked, is he still being audited? Because that was the big lie during the campaign.
BOOT: It`s the never-ending audit.
O`DONNELL: I can`t show you the returns. That was of course the lie. He never showed the evidence he was being audited, which he could have. Everyone who`s being audited gets an audit letter. He refused to do that.
And so, the president I`m sure was kind of thrilled with a couple of weeks where all the attention was on someone else, all the attention was on Brett Kavanaugh. And I think he was also thrilled all the attention was on sexual assault allegations against another man, who he was hoping would survive those.
And yet every time something like that happens, every time there`s a big turn in the news on something, as soon as it`s over, it`s back to the potential and past crimes of Donald Trump.
BOOT: And there`s a good reason for that. There`s a good reason for that, Lawrence, which is that Donald Trump is the most unethical and dishonest president in the history of the United States. And every single week, we get more details about just how unethical and dishonest he is, including the -- I mean, let`s focus on the fact just in the last month or so, we have learned of two instances very credible where he in all likelihood violated the law in a fairly massive way. One was this tax fraud that was documented by "The New York Times."
The other was the fact that Michael Cohen, his personal attorney, implicated him in the commission of two federal crimes. Violating federal campaign financial laws, and we`re very blase about that, but this is unprecedented situation. We have a president who`s essentially a crook, something we have not faced since the days of Watergate.
But what makes nice this even more astonishing and dismaying is that there are no honest Republicans anymore as there were in the days of Watergate who would hold this president accountable. And that would leaves me to conclude, and this is point I make in my book, somebody who was a lifelong Republican up until 2016, the only way, Lawrence, we`re going to get any accountable in Washington is if everybody watches this show votes straight ticket Democratic.
I have differences with Democrats, but we need to have accountability. We need to have checks and balances. We`re not going to get out of these Republicans who are Donald Trump`s enablers.
We need Democrats to get to the bottom of this and do things like for example getting his tax returns, which the chairman of the House of Ways and Means Committee can do. But there`s no way in hell the Republican chairman is ever going to do that.
O`DONNELL: And, Joyce Vance, I want to get your reading of the long awaited meeting with Rod Rosenstein today which as it happened took place on Air Force One.
VANCE: Interesting context, as you pointed out given former Attorney General Loretta Lynch`s well-known airport tarmac meeting with Bill Clinton. This meeting was nuanced a little differently, and of course Rosenstein reports directly to the president on a number of matters.
But it`s hard to know what to make of this. Was it all theater or designed to create some tension during the Kavanaugh process or was the president really interested at one point in firing Rosenstein but then pushed back from that? I think that that latter explanation is more likely. Because for this president, firing Rosenstein and the impact that that could have had on narrowing and constricting the Mueller investigation could easily have been perceived as evidence of the intent to obstruct justice. It seems like the safer course for him is to make his piece with Rosenstein and work through it.
O`DONNELL: And, David Frum, the president at minimum got to show Rosenstein who is boss theoretically by ordering him to come on this plane ride with me and spend some time talking there. But it could just be the president is just waiting until after election day to fire him.
FRUM: Right, because there`s not a lot Donald Trump wants Rosenstein affirmatively to do.
FRUM: There`s things he wants him not to do. So the pulse check is this the day when the president is pressuring Rosenstein either to shutdown Mueller or quit and that -- or be fired by somebody who will? And that didn`t happen today. And every day that doesn`t happen is a good day.
O`DONNELL: David Frum, Max Boot, Joyce Vance, thank you all for joining us tonight.
FRUM: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, the biggest campaign rally of the career had nothing to do with Donald Trump. He wasn`t there. It wasn`t Donald Trump campaigning for a Republican for Senate. If Beto O`Rourke, who gets the biggest crowds out there on the campaign trail, can win a Senate seat in Texas, then Democrats are on their way to winning back the Senate.
Cecile Richards, a daughter of Texas and a Texas governor, will join us.
[22:20:15] O`DONNELL: Tonight, Donald Trump hosted the most partisan and angry ceremonial swearing in to the Supreme Court justice the country has ever seen. Two people gave remarks, the president of the United States and the newest Supreme Court justice. And both of them were angry and partisan.
The president told the lie that Brett Kavanaugh was found innocent of the accusations made against him by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and other women.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: With that I must state that you, sir, under historic scrutiny were proven innocent. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was a carefully written speech by the White House staff. This was not Donald Trump talking off the top of his head. White House staff members sat down and wrote those lies, that the president told at the kind of White House event that has always been handled with dignity and without politics after extremely controversial confirmation fights.
The president reduced everything that Dr. Ford said to the word lies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Those who step forward to serve our country deserve a fair and dignified evaluation. Not a campaign of political and personal destruction based on lies and deception.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: When President George H.W. Bush staged the same kind of event for Clarence Thomas after Clarence Thomas got the fewest confirmation votes in the 20th century after he was accused of sexual misconduct by Anita Hill, President Bush did not say a word about the controversy that erupted in the confirmation process. There was no bitterness about that.
And Clarence Thomas himself did not say a word about that controversy. Clarence Thomas thanked, quote, all the members of Congress. And the only member of Congress Clarence Thomas actually mentioned specifically by name was Bob Dole, because he`s the Republican leader of the Senate.
But Bob Dole did not play an active role in the confirmation since the Democrats controlled the Senate then, mentioning Dole was simply a courtesy, along with mentioning the president and the vice president. It wasn`t a pay back for winning the confirmation.
But Brett Kavanaugh did not follow the Clarence Thomas model.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: I thank the members of the United States Senate, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for his leadership and steady resolve. I thank Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley for his wisdom and fairness, and I give special gratitude to Senator Rob Portman, Susan Collins, Joe Manchin, Jon Kyl, and Lindsey Graham. They`re a credit to the country and the Senate. I`ll be forever grateful to each of them and to all the senators who carefully considered my nomination.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: So Brett Kavanaugh joins the court having all but publicly pledged his loyalty to specific senators who simply voted for him like Joe Manchin and others who fought for him and were willing to tell any lie for him like Lindsey Graham. Singling out seven senators for voting for you or energetically supporting you is something new Supreme Court justices simply do not do at these events.
And so, once again, Brett Kavanaugh has shown his political temperament at the kind of event where all the pre predecessors have shown their judicial temperament.
Joining our discussion now, Lisa Graves, former chief counsel for nominations for the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, and former deputy assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice. And Joyce Vance is back with us.
And, Lisa, I was so struck by just how politicized and angry this event was tonight both by the president and by Brett Kavanaugh.
LISA GRAVES, FORMER STAFFER, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: It really was extraordinary. And you had all the members of the Supreme Court sitting there in that room, along with predominantly Republican operatives and Republican politicians. And it was really surprising to hear Brett Kavanaugh praise Chuck Grassley for his fairness, praise Don McGahn for his fairness when everyone in the country who is a partisan knows they participated in one of the biggest whitewashes in American history, to basically truncate that FBI investigation of the charges against Brett Kavanaugh.
And then to hear President Trump claim that Brett Kavanaugh`s proven innocent, what happened was in fact the Republican Party was proven guilty of their willingness to ignore a track record of lies and compelling eyewitness testimony by Dr. Ford and put this man on the court despite evidence that he engaged in sexual assault and sexual misconduct.
O`DONNELL: I want to listen to one other thing that Brett Kavanaugh said. This was at the very beginning, and listen carefully to the second sentence here about what he says about the American judiciary. Let`s listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAVANAUGH: Mr. President, thank you for the great honor of appointing me to serve as a justice of the Supreme Court. I`ve seen first-hand your deep appreciation for the vital role of the American judiciary. I am grateful for your steadfast, unwavering support throughout this process. And I`m grateful to you and Mrs. Trump for the exceptional overwhelming courtesy you have extended to my family and me. Mr. President, thank you for everything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joyce Vance, he tells a lie in his second sentence of thanking Donald Trump, saying I`ve seen first-hand your deep appreciation for the vital role of the American judiciary.
It`s hard to think of a worse lie that Brett Kavanaugh could have told at that time. This is the only president of the United States who has attacked a sitting federal judge during his presidential campaign because he didn`t like the federal judge`s ethnicity, and that federal judge was handling a case involving Donald Trump.
VANCE: Kavanaugh on the one hand pone out that an independent federal judiciary is a crown jewel in our system of government and then makes this regrettable comment that it`s really hard to understand.
You know, the incident where President Trump criticized Judge Curiel who`s of Mexican heritage is a point where everyone should have come and condemned President Trump`s comments. And that was one of the earlier hints that we have that this has become a Republican Party who had standby Trump no matter what. And now, it turns out the no matter what is severe heavy damage to that independent judiciary, that newly sworn in Justice Kavanaugh is one hand so critical to our way of life, but at the same time seems willing to permit it to be denigrated and to really mischaracterize the president who has been in no way a supporter of the rule of law or the judiciary.
O`DONNELL: And, Lisa, Brett Kavanaugh there very strongly thanking the president for, quote, his steadfast and unwavering support throughout this process. Supreme Court justices never have to thank a president for that after confirmation because they never have confirmations that are this difficult. And even Clarence Thomas, after something comparable did not say that to the president of the United States. Did not make any hint that it was a difficult process that he went through, and the president need to hang tough on him.
But in that statement, Brett Kavanaugh owns every lie that Donald Trump told on his behalf during this confirmation process when he was out there talking to the press.
GRAVES: That`s exactly right. It reminds me, Lawrence, of what you said earlier in this process which is that Brett Kavanaugh began his nomination with lie in that similar praise for Mr. Trump. And he has ended that nomination with the same set of lies. And it really boggles the mind why a justice would want to make this sort of pledge of loyalty and gratitude to a president who has behaved in this way.
And also, I think what you saw in Brett Kavanaugh`s remarks as you pointed out is that Brett Kavanaugh really is a partisan through and through. He can mouth the words about an independent judiciary but at his heart, he is grateful and indebted to the right wing partisan Republicans in that Senate and to this president when the president is facing some of the most serious charges ever swirling around a president of these United States.
O`DONNELL: And so, we await any case arriving at the Supreme Court that involves the political interest of Lindsey Graham or Donald Trump or any of the other people that Brett Kavanaugh seemed to be pledging loyalty to tonight.
Joyce Vance, Lisa Graves, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
And when we come back, just 29 days until Election Day, Texas is now one of the most exciting places in campaign country. And that is thanks to one campaign. Democratic Congressman Beto O`Rourke running for Senate in Texas, where a Democrat has not won a Senate seat in 30 years. I`ve seen him campaign up close and it is going to be close in the end in this campaign.
O`DONNELL: The largest campaign rally of the year was not a Trump rally. For some Republican Senate candidate, no Trump rally has come close to the largest campaign rally of the year, which happened 10 days ago in the Senate campaign in Texas where Democrats have not won a Senate election in 30 years. Texas Democrats had all but given up hope of winning a Senate campaign until Robert Francis O`Rourke of El Paso started campaigning for Senate.
The congressman known by his nickname Beto O`Rourke drew 55,000 people on a warm Saturday night in Austin, Texas. I was there that night and I saw what all the excitement was about.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ROBERT FRANCIS O`ROURKE, SENATE CANDIDATE (D), TEXAS: This is a campaign of people, all people. And I don`t care about the differences between us. If you are a Republican, you`re in the right place. If you`re a Democrat, you`re in the right place. If you`re an Independent, you`re in the right place. Whoever you pray to or whether you pray at all, whoever you love, however many generations you`ve been in this country or whether you just got here yesterday, right now we`re all in the same boat. We`re all human beings and we`re going to start treating one Another that way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: With only 29 days to the election day now, Democrats had to get back on the campaign trail immediately after the Kavanaugh vote on Saturday, either to campaign for their own re-election or to campaign for other Democrats on the Senate. Senator Kamala Harris campaigned in Ohio for Senator Sherrod Brown`s re-election and she had this to say about how Mitch McConnell and the Republicans ran the confirmation process.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA: What we saw was an exercise of raw power, raw power. Which was used and had the effect of demeaning and diminishing and belittling people. Well, here`s the thing. If we want to correct the course, what do we need to do? We need to take the power.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: After the last confirmation battle like this 27 years ago when Anita Hill`s testimony against Clarence Thomas was ignored by Republicans, a Republican incumbent president was defeated in his re-election campaign and the number of women in the United States Senate tripled from two to six. And Democrats increased their majority in the Senate to 57 Democratic senators.
After an ugly Supreme Court confirmation battle, the anguish and disappointment of the defeated then turned into the energy for the victory in the 1992 election. A sweeping win for Democrats winning the House, the Senate, and the White House. Now, Democrats have 29 days to convert disappointment in the Senate to victory.
If you were standing there among the 55,000 people listening to Beto O`Rourke in Texas where Democrats were never supposed to win anymore, it felt like Democrats have the energy to win once again in Texas. And if Democrats can win in Texas, then control of the Senate could easily flip to a Democratic majority. There is no candidate on the campaign trail tonight in America who expresses what is at stake in the next election better than Beto O`Rourke.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O`ROURKE: The people of the future are counting on us while we can still get this right. But it`s all people, no packs. All people, no special interests. All people, no corporation. All people all the time, everywhere, every single day. That`s how we`re going to win this election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Cecile Richards herself, a daughter of Texas and a daughter of Texas` only woman governor will join us next.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIS: Years from now, our children, our grandchildren are going to look in our eyes and look at, each one of us, and ask us, "Where were you at that inflection point? Where were you at that moment?"
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now is Cecile Richards, former president of Planned Parenthood. And, Cecile, this really is one of those moments that can turn an election. But it`s that political challenge of changing the emotion of disappointment into the energy of victory, which we saw happen after the Clarence Thomas hearings.
CECILE RICHARDS, FORMER PRESIDENT, PLANNED PARENTHOOD: Yes, but I think we`re seeing that, too. I feel like this weekend, women mourned and now they are ready to get busy about this election. I mean, it couldn`t in some ways be better timing because now there are 29 days to focus everyone`s energy on turning up to vote. And as you know, in midterm elections, there are plenty of votes to win. It`s just getting your folks out and that`s where women are focused.
O`DONNELL: Yes. It`s hard to get people animated. It`s hard to get them to feel there`s some stakes in a midterm, and that`s why this kind of confirmation really provides that.
RICHARDS: Absolutely. And I feel like even if it was going to sort of, you know, go away or settle down, the president seems to be completely committed to throwing kerosene on the fire as he did tonight. I think women are -- we`re looking at who controls the Judiciary Committee. This was all-male, you know, majority who jammed through this appointment and were so disrespectful of Dr. Ford, of other women who came forward. And women understand that.
That`s a thing I think that the Republicans have forgotten that sexual assault and sexual harassment is not a partisan issue. This is an issue that affects women everywhere.
O`DONNELL: Ted Cruz on the Judiciary Committee voting for Brett Kavanaugh on the committee on the Senate floor. Beto O`Rourke out there saying he would have opposed this nomination and talking about yet another reason why the Democrats need to take back the Senate.
RICHARDS: I think it`s absolutely true. And I think if you look at the leadership in the Senate, I think what was also exciting though for a lot of women was to see Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Mazy Hirono, folks who actually represent what America looks like and to see them standing up for women, as well as men on the committee. It was incredibly inspiring.
O`DONNELL: What are you looking for in this Senate race? And there hasn`t really been a serious Democrat challenger in the Senate race in Texas in a very long time.
RICHARDS: It`s incredibly exciting. I think we`re both down there at the same moment and saw the thousands and thousands of people, folks said they haven`t seen anything like it in years since the progressive actually, back when other folks won those races. But I think the exciting thing is it`s not just Beto. Beto is doing an amazing job but we have -- this is the first time that Democrats have contested every single Congressional race in the State.
We`ve got Colin Allred running, Lizzy Fletcher, we have the first two Latinas coming to Congress from Texas. It`s a new day in Texas and people can feel it everywhere.
O`DONNELL: You know, I remember from the first convention I ever went to was 1988 and I walked into the Convention Hall, Democrat`s Convention Hall in Atlanta and your mother was at the podium delivering the speech that for me was the best speech at the Convention because like Beto O`Rourke, she was always completely -- knew exactly what she was talking about and why and you knew what she felt about it. And she took whatever the complex subject was and made it easily deliverable in a speech. And that was what I was seeing when I was watching him on the stage.
RICHARDS: I think that`s right. I mean, Beto is talking about a different kind of politics where every person is respected and knows our basic humanity. That`s what Texans want to feel. And I do think he has that same sort of Anne Richards appeal. Mom always used to say -- look, if my mom back in Waco can`t understand what you`re saying, no one`s getting it.
And I think that Beto has that amazing gift. Look, it`s a very exciting time to be a Texan.
O`DONNELL: Yes, it is. And it was an exciting time to be there.
Cecile Richards, thank you very much for coming in.
RICHARDS: Yes, you are. Thanks a lot.
O`DONNELL: Really appreciate it.
And when we come back, last week, Amy Schumer was one of the many protesters at the Senate who got arrested. Amy Schumer, like most of those protesters, were released after four hours. Our next guest was arrested after a protest and imprisoned for two years and that`s because she wasn`t protesting at the United States Senate. She was protesting in Russia.
Nadya, leader of Pussy Riot joins us with her new book, A Guide to Activist.
O`DONNELL: It`s time to add Senator Mitch McConnell to the list of people who do not actually understand what the word "literally" means.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY: We were literally under assault. These demonstrators, I`m sure some of them were well-meaning citizens, but many of them were obviously trained to get in our faces, to go to our homes up there, or to basically almost attack us in the halls of the Capitol.
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O`DONNELL: No, they were not literally under assault. No one tried to assault a single Republican Senator. But thousands of people, especially thousands of women came to Washington to make their voices heard, to fulfill their responsibility as citizens.
And yes, some of those women yelled at Senators, but none of them yelled louder at Senators than the nominee they were opposing when he yelled at Democratic Senators in the hearing room and refused to answer many of their questions when he was under oath. And none of the women yelled as loudly as Republican Senator Lindsey Graham did in his emotional and fact-free defense of the nominee who had already yelled at senators.
And so the Republicans in the Senate proved that they just like all- powerful people. The only kind of yelling they don`t like is yelling at them. Amy Schumer was one of the hundreds of people who got arrested last week while making her voice heard in the Senate. She was not intense to make her voice heard with her cousin, Senator Chuck Schumer, who was the minority leader of the United States Senate. She knew that cousin Chuck already agreed with her so Amy brought her voice to the Senate.
After being arrested, Amy Schumer said on Instagram, "We need to vote. We need to get our friends and family to vote. I don`t feel angry. I feel excited and ready to fight. Change is coming. And everyone telling me to lose weight, you first."
Nadya Tolokonnikova has protested and lost weight during three hunger strikes in Russian prisons. She tells those stories of resistance and more in her new book "Read & Riot: A Pussy Riot Guide to Activism." And Nadya is joining us now. Thank you very much for being here.
NADYA TOLOKONNIKOVA, AUTHOR, READ & RIOT, A PUSSY RIOT GUIDE TO ACTIVISM: Hi, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: You say in this book - first of all, one thing I`ve heard you say about this book is you can open to any page.
O`DONNELL: And you will learn and read something. And I tested that today and it`s absolutely true. And so I found this passage at the beginning where you say that nothing ever happens without protest. And you quote, many Americans, Cesar Chavez and other American protesters, and their history of protects and that seem to have been a model for you.
TOLOKONNIKOVA: Yes. Anything just through being really articulated. And so sometimes you even need to yell and shout at somebody, and yes. I`m quoting Bernie Sanders and he`s saying, "One hundred years ago, we didn`t have workers` rights and kids had to work for 16 hours a day." And look at these radical changes that had happened.
And he`s quoting -- he`s saying it because a lot of people right now, they are saying that, "Oh, the change is not possible." But if you take a look at their history, women did not have the right to vote a hundred years ago. And now we do but there`s still a long way to go. We have to dream and we have to find, you know, a new positive carrot in front of us and just fight for it.
O`DONNELL: You also say in here that -- you talk about how you learned that nice talks never work with those who have power over you, and what you`re talking about is the guy who was running the prison that you were in, who was -- you were constantly in conflict with and you were trying to get the, what was it, 12-hour days that you had to work every day that --
TOLOKONNIKOVA: Twelve hours, yes.
O`DONNELL: -- reduced and other conditions you were trying to get changed? And so you were fighting against that every day. You were not succeeding most of the time, but you had protesters on the outside who were lending you moral support. How did you deal with your own disappointment about not -- when you had setbacks?
TOLOKONNIKOVA: I would talk with people who are more vulnerable than I am. So let`s say I`m sitting in the corner and I`m really sad about myself, I`m thinking too much about myself. And then somebody is approaching me and it`s a woman, and she`s really ill and she`s not getting any medical treatment and she doesn`t have lawyers. She doesn`t have family and her husband is not with her anymore because he doesn`t give a flying [bleep] about her.
And I understand that it`s my duty to try to do my best to protect her and I`m not an almighty God but I`ll try to do my best. That`s the trick. When you start to think about other people more than yourself, then something can be changed, then you feel yourself better. And I started that hunger strike because I had so many people coming to me and asking me for help.
And I was trying to explain to them it`s just me, and by myself, I cannot do a lot. But if you join me, we can do together a lot. But they were frightened because it`s really dangerous to protest in Russia and especially --
O`DONNELL: Well, the danger we`ve seen more than once includes the possibility of being poisoned, as Peter, your former husband was. How is he doing now?
TOLOKONNIKOVA: He`s much better. He`s still weak because he didn`t eat for two weeks. He was unconscious for the first three days. And then on the fifth day, he was transported to Berlin. We found a private plane to bring him from Russia to Berlin, and then German doctors said it was poisoning. It was most likely was poisoning because they didn`t find a compound, but they said it might be some drug that the Russian Military Service used, so they cannot find it.
He was deterrent for two weeks and he was in delirium for two weeks which is really scary. Because someone who you know is really smart and focused person and you see him talking about being boned and red cats running around, it was really scary because we thought for a second maybe it was brain damage and he`ll never recover.
O`DONNELL: It takes much more bravery to be a protester in Russia than it does here.
Nadya, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
TOLOKONNIKOVA: Thank you so much.
O`DONNELL: I really appreciate it.
The book is "Read & Riot, A Pussy Riot Guide to Activism.
Tonight`s last word is next.
O`DONNELL: I worked for the Senator who coined the phrase, "Everyone is entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts." Daniel Patrick Moynihan is the subject of a new documentary that is now playing at the film forum here in New York City and will be opening in Los Angeles this weekend where I will be introducing it at the Laemmle Theater in Beverly Hills.
One of the many issues that Senator Moynihan studied and wrote one of his many books about was government use of secrecy. Here is some of that Moynihan documentary.
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SEN. DANIEL PATRICK MOYNIHAN (D), NEW YORK: It`s a romantic delusion that there is a secret. There are none. Say, when things are kept secret, they tend to be wrong. Keep that up and you will miss huge events and occupy yourself with marginal and unimportant events.
O`DONNELL: You know in many ways the 9/11 commission report is an outgrowth of what Moynihan was saying about this. The CIA with these massive silos of secrets that they couldn`t distinguish the value of. The FBI had massive silos and they couldn`t distinguish what has value, what doesn`t.