Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: November 1, 2018 Guest: Jamil Smith, Dahlia Lithwick
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Rachel, I have a very controversial question for you, which we`ve never discussed and even on those long canoe rides we do on the weekend on the lake, it`s never come up. And that is, where are you on Oprah? For or against?
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": Oprah is or hopra as far as I`m concerned. When everything else falls to hell, when everything else smolders in the ash collapses, Oprah will still be there to show us the way.
O`DONNELL: Oprah is one of those for whom for and against is obviously a joke. There`s no against, except in I guess some crazed precincts.
But -- so, I woke up this morning believing that Oprah Winfrey should not be a candidate for anything. I`ve always thought that. I`m one of those people who thinks there`s some training involved here and experience that`s necessary, and being a TV star is not that experience. That`s the country we used to live in, apparently. Apparently.
And then I watched her in Georgia, and I was stunned at how good she was on the political stage as a politician. That`s what she was today, a really effective high-level communicating politician.
MADDOW: Yes, and she was good on notes when she was reading for notes, when she was coming in there with sort of prepared remarks. She was really, really, good when she was off her prepared remarks. And part of it that made I think people consider her as a potential candidate is how well she said she didn`t want to run, right?
That`s kind of like a trifecta. Like those are the three things you need to be able to do. That and don`t put on a hat and you`re pretty much a top tier candidate.
O`DONNELL: But there was -- wonderfully there was nothing in the kind of polished politician quality of her speech at all. It was raw and real and honest and historical and thoughtful and wise and on-point. And --
MADDOW: It was Oprah.
O`DONNELL: That`s --
MADDOW: I know.
O`DONNELL: So that`s what it was. OK, it was Oprah.
All right, I am a changed -- well, not a changed man. I`m a changed political analyst on Oprah. I am now for.
MADDOW: We`ll talk it over in the canoe.
O`DONNELL: OK, in the canoe this weekend. Thank you, Rachel.
OK, let me get ready here because there`s only five days. Five days to go. Five nights from right now at this very minute, this hour, we will be counting votes in the election that could change America, the election that could change Donald Trump`s life both as a politician and the subject of a special prosecutor`s criminal prosecution of the president, and the election that could change your life. It will change your life one way or the other.
And there are only four more campaign days. Four is the real number to think about. That`s how many campaign days there are. Four. Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, that`s it. Then it`s over.
Candidates make their last speeches Monday night and voters will start going to the polls early Tuesday morning. Four campaign days left. And the challenge for Democrats is one they have never faced before. It`s one that no party has ever faced before in the history of American politics.
The challenge for Democrats is how do you campaign against a pathological liar who is president of the United States? Now, two years ago, Hillary Clinton campaigned against a pathological liar who was not president. What`s happening now is different, very, very different because today, the pathological liar who is now president can say he`s going to send American military personnel to the southern border and it might actually happen or some version of that might actually happen because the pathological liar is president.
Donald Trump can now use the presidency for campaign stunts, as he did once again today. He used the White House, the Roosevelt Room which is supposed to be reserved for government meetings and he delivered a Trump-rally style speech with no substance.
He announced no new policy proposals. The White House lied and said the president was going to make policy proposals, but he did not. No president has ever used the White House as a campaign location five days before an election the way the president did today.
How did Democrats campaign against that? How should Democrats campaign against these campaign stunts that are filled with pathological lies? That is a very difficult question.
Now, no one should pretend that that`s an easy question. And I know some people do. Should Democrats fight directly against what the president says, or will that bring more attention to the latest lie the president has told?
Like today when the president said that when American troops are on the southern border, they will be allowed to shoot, to kill anyone who throws a rock at them. The president actually said, quote, we will consider that a firearm because there`s not much difference when you get hit in the face with a rock. Donald Trump thinks there`s not much difference between a bullet and a rock.
Donald Trump has never served a day in the military. No one named Trump has. Not his father, not his grandfather. It`s not what Trumps do. No Trump has ever served in the military or in the war of their era.
I know when I was a kid I didn`t know anyone in my neighborhood whose father had not served in the military, during World War II or the Korean War. During Vietnam, most families I knew had someone serving in the military, including mine. But I didn`t know anyone named Trump.
Everybody I know knows the difference between a bullet and a rock and the law knows the difference between a bullet and a rock. And if an American soldier standing anywhere in the United States shoot someone who throws a rock, that soldier will be arrested on the spot and charged with murder or a manslaughter because that soldier has no greater legal right to use a firearm in the United States than any other person living in the United States. Donald Trump doesn`t know that. Donald Trump`s voters don`t know that, but Democrats do know that.
Should the Democrats run out there and today say that Donald Trump is advocating that soldiers commit crimes on U.S. soil? As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump repeatedly advocated that the military should commit war crimes, torture in foreign countries presumably. As a candidate he said we should not just kill our enemies but the families of our enemies, and the children of our enemies, the babies of our enemies, all war crimes. All of that.
How do you campaign against a pathological liar like this? Campaign managers and strategists on the Democratic side around the country have been thinking about this every day and every sleepless night. They think about it a lot more than you do or I do, and I don`t feel smarter than any one of them. And their choice seems to be to run for the office, not run against Donald Trump, because running against Donald Trump is running against a moving target, a moving target of pathological lying insanity.
Democrats are making sure that voters know that Republicans have pledged their loyalty to Donald Trump, but most Democratic candidates are then spending most of their time telling voters what is at stake for them, the voters and the way they live their lives starting with their own health care and the affordability of health care in this country, the country where you can still go bankrupt if someday in a doctor`s office a test comes out the wrong way for you. Seventy-one percent of voters know that. Seventy-one percent of voters say health care is the most important issue in this campaign.
Donald Trump`s choice after seeing that poll is to simply lie and say that he and Republicans will protect your health care and protect you if you have pre-existing conditions, even though they have attacked your right to have health insurance, if you have pre-existing conditions. Even though they have tried to rip those health insurance policies right out of your hands, which every single Republican in Washington has tried to do. Every one of them has voted to do that repeatedly.
And so in the face of that Trump lie, the Democrats say this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BETO O`ROURKE (D), U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE IN TEXAS: Universal health care just means that everyone can see that specialist, that primary care physician, get the mental health care they need to be at their best. Universal care in this state that has made it so hard for women to get a cervical cancer screening, to see a family planning provider, to see a doctor of any kind that we`re now at the epicenter of a mortality crisis three times as deadly for women of color in this state. Universal care can also mean that every woman makes her own decisions about her own body and has access to the care that ensures that she can.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: When asked about pre-existing condition by a reporter yesterday Donald Trump actually said this word for word: What the Democrats are going to do is destroy our entire health care and you`re not going to have any health care. You would destroy the country. You are not going to have health care.
Those are the words of a deranged man. How do you campaign against that?
Much is being made of something else Donald Trump said in that same interview. Quote, when I can, I tell the truth.
And much of the news media has reacted as if that`s a giant admission on Donald Trump`s part that he doesn`t always tell the truth. But what Donald Trump actually said there is a lie. He said when I can I tell the truth.
When I can? He doesn`t tell the truth when he can. He lies all the time.
He lies when the lie is instantly provable as a lie. He lies directly to people who he knows know that he`s lying, looks right into their eyes. He knows that they know it`s a lie and he still says it.
That is sickness. The man is sick. He is a deeply perverse pathological liar all the time. A rock is the same as a bullet.
If Democrats are elected, quote, says Trump you are not going to have health care. When I can, I tell the truth. Much of the news media now thinks that Donald Trump has admitted that he is lying about the news media being the enemy of the people.
Reporter Jim VandeHei Said to the president in an interview, I don`t think -- I don`t think you think we`re the enemy of the people, do you? And Trump said, I don`t, I don`t.
Now, why does anyone think he`s telling it truth in that answer?
Here`s what I think Donald Trump means in that answer to Jim VandeHei. He doesn`t think the news media is the enemy of the people. He thinks the news media is the enemy of Donald Trump.
Donald Trump does not, has not and will never care about the people. He cares about Trumps and not necessarily every single person named Trump. He clearly favors some of his children over others.
He sees the news media as his enemy, and he is enlisting his voters to join him in seeing the news media as their enemy by telling them that the news media is their enemy, the enemy of the people. That sounds better than the enemy of Donald Trump. That wouldn`t elicit quite as much support. A lot, but not quite as much as the enemy of all of you out there in my red hatted audience.
So, that`s the way Donald Trump says it. Donald Trump believes and has always believed that anyone who ever tries to tell the truth about Donald Trump is his enemy. That is his definition of enemy, and that is his definition of the political party he`s running against, the enemy.
American politicians have always understood prior to Trump the difference between the word opponent and enemy. The word enemy was used for foreign countries under declarations of war. An opponent, that word could be used reasonably in political campaigns and on the floor of the United States Senate, where senators respectful of each other rose as opponents of each other in debate without ever dreaming that the other senator or anyone in their party was their enemy, just their temporary debating opponent.
How do Democrats campaign against someone who will say anything when that someone is the president of the United States?
Joining us now: John Heilemann, national affairs analyst for NBC News and MSNBC, and co-host and executive producer of Showtime`s "The Circus". And Jamil Smith, senior writer for "Rolling Stone," who just profiled Florida Democratic gubernatorial nomine, Andrew Gillum.
And, John Heilemann, when I watch these Trump events as we watched today in the Roosevelt Room, there`s the job I have which is what am I going to say about this, is this something I`m going to ignore from him, how do I deal with it? And it might be I don`t mention it or I do or analyze it or not.
But I also wonder what are the Democratic candidates thinking when they see these events? What are their strategists thinking? What are their campaign managers thinking? Is it something some of them need to jump out on it? Is it something they shouldn`t? What are you finding when you talk to Democratic candidates as you go around the country for the circus, for your Showtime show and how are they reacting on a day to day basis to the Trump madness?
JOHN HEILEMANN, NBC NEWS AND MSNBC NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Let me say that opening was excellent. I now want to say I like Donald Trump when he says when I can tell the truth. When I can, I like to sit here at this table for the A block of THE LAST WORD so I can see in person, it`s like being at "SNL" mixed with a little like Shakespeare in the park.
O`DONNELL: You get no more money for this.
HEILEMANN: I know, I know.
O`DONNELL: Go ahead.
HEILEMANN: So, here`s the thing, this week, we`re doing this episode of "Circus" for Sunday where we are, in fact, seeing as the Democratic bench, the heaviest hitters, you know, Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Joe -- Barack Obama at the end of the week, Oprah Winfrey all out on the field right now basically saying we`re going to take on Trump.
I haven`t seen all of them. But I just came from Elizabeth Warren. I spent the day with her with Richard Cordray in Ohio, just off the plane from Columbus so I could sit here and listen to you do that excellent opening. I tell you what happened today at the two events she did for Richard Cordray, she didn`t mention Donald Trump`s name once.
O`DONNELL: Ah, there you are.
HEILEMANN: Not once did she mention it --
O`DONNELL: And that`s a strategic -- serious, strategic choice.
HEILEMANN: It is, and you noticed Oprah Winfrey did not go after Trump today from a different point of view. You pointed out she`s very political.
I was with Cory Booker for three events, four events, in New Jersey on Tuesday. He mentioned Donald Trump at the end of an event for Menendez where he was basically saying you`ve got to re-elect Bob Menendez to stop Donald Trump. But over the course of those four hours, the last 10 minutes was when he mentioned Donald Trump.
So, I have found it super interesting given that the one unifying principle of the Democratic Party over the last two years has been stop Donald Trump, opposition Donald Trump, hatred of Donald Trump, fear of Donald Trump, that in the closing moments, the biggest guns of the Democratic Party are not talking about Donald Trump. They are talking about the things you mentioned before, the substantive issues.
They`re basically saying, you can`t deal with this lunatic. What you can do is he`s a liar and the way to deal with that is talk about health care, talk about the environment, talk about jobs, talk about all of the topics on which Democrats are favored by the majority of Americans on the substance.
O`DONNELL: Jamil Smith, how`s Andrew Gillum handling what the president does every day?
JAMIL SMITH, SENIOR WRITER, ROLLING STONE: Well, for the most part, Lawrence, he`s really trying to make sure he focuses on the issues that apparently people care about. Health care, again, in Florida is a big deal, obviously. And him responding to the issues that I guess Trump brings up but not directly to Trump himself.
He`s not going to necessarily comment on a particular thing that Trump says or does. But he`s going to comment on the spirit of what Trump is doing. And I think that you`ve seen that in his ads, you`ve seen that certainly in his stump speeches and in his rhetoric.
But again, I marched near him when he was at the Florida A&M homecoming parade a few weeks ago and not one person on the side was yelling stop Trump, or you need to do something or help. They were asking, hey, I need a job, I need somebody to help look after my family, I need to make sure I have health care, I have a brother in jail who is -- you know, what kind of future is he going to have? I need to know these very practical things that real people deal with.
And I think this definition of kitchen table issues is different now in the Trump era. We`re not worried about what necessarily he`s saying every day, but we`re worried about what he`s embodying and how that is translating into policy.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Beto O`Rourke said about the possibility of 5,000 soldiers being sent to the southern border. And Beto O`Rourke is in a spot running in Texas when the president starts talking about the southern border, that`s the border of Texas. So he`s making a decision on a daily basis at least on issues like that to go straight back at the president because that is local issue in his race.
Let`s listen to what Beto O`Rourke -- by the way, lifetime resident of the border area in El Paso. Let`s listen to what he had to say about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O`ROURKE: He wants to send more than 5,000 soldiers to this community and other communities of the border, demeaning the service and sacrifice of more than 20,000 Border Patrol agents who are doing incredibly effective job of keeping the borders secure in our communities safe.
I want to make sure that we don`t give in to that paranoia, that we don`t submit to that fear, that we don`t allow ourselves to be defined by walls 2,000 miles long, 30 feet high at a cost of $30 billion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: John, some of the things I`ve heard about the southern border comes from people who live near the southern border, like Beto O`Rourke.
HEILEMANN: Right. Well, he lives in the city is the most -- the most diverse in terms of Hispanic and white America city in the entire country, the most integrated country, the greatest balance there, and he`s been living down there. He knows, I`ve heard him do this, we also we got to listen to him talking about this, talking about his uncle who was in law enforcement. The way he talks about the border patrol, the way he talks about it, he`s had to be part of that community not just representing it in Congress which he does but also someone whose entire family lineage comes from that and who has seen every side of this issue.
And you -- I mean, again, whatever you think about Beto O`Rourke`s electoral fortunes down in Texas right now, you think about the contrast how he talks about that issue, not someone who confuses, doesn`t know what a bullet is versus a rock, and the way Donald Trump talks about it, you recognize the difference between just reality and fantasy and delusion.
O`DONNELL: Jamil, what are you expecting to hear in just four days left of campaigning as closing arguments for Democrats?
SMITH: I think Democrats would be wise to essentially couch the language of Trump within the real lives of Americans. I think that instead of saying, well, this is racist and it`s Willie Horton and this and that, they`d be wise to concentrate on how offensive it is that Republicans are lying to them on health care, for instance? I think that it`d be wise to emphasize proposals about criminal justice reform and other things that you`ll never hear a Republican mention.
These are things that Democratic voters need to know that these folks stand on and they`re going to act upon if they`re elected. You know that they`re against Trump. They need to come to the table with a little bit more.
O`DONNELL: John Heilemann, Jamil Smith, thank you both for starting us off tonight. Really appreciate it.
When we come back, a very strange revelation today of e-mails between Steve Bannon and others in the Trump campaign that "The New York Times" is reporting there`s all sorts of crossfire in the Trump campaign about this.
And later, we`re going to see Oprah Winfrey campaigning in Georgia today where I learned an awful lot about what could be the political future of Oprah Winfrey and more importantly, the immediate political future of Stacey Abrams.
O`DONNELL: So, was Roger Stone a criminal or was Roger Stone just boasting that he was a criminal? That is what the special prosecutor is investigating.
"The New York Times" is reporting that Roger Stone sold himself to the Trump campaign as the pipeline to WikiLeaks, which was then trafficking in stolen e-mails from Democrats in Washington. "The New York Times" published an extraordinary article today filled with e-mails to and from Steve Bannon and Roger Stone.
"The Times" says nothing about how they obtained these e-mails. Are they stolen e-mails? Roger Stone doesn`t think so. He issued a statement today blaming Steve Bannon or an associate of Steve Bannon who used to be an associate of Roger Stone for just giving these e-mails, offering them to "The New York Times."
Roger Stone said Bannon or his hatchet man Sam Nunberg, who used to be Stone`s hatchet man, leaked this e-mail exchange to the various media outlets.
Now, this program has no history of trafficking in stolen e-mails. I did not read the e-mails that North Korea stole from Sony Studios when every other media organization in this country was trafficking in those stolen e- mails and falsely calling them hacked e-mails instead of the fruit of an international crime, which is what they were. The news media has actually never stopped to consider what our standards should be for handling and talking about stolen e-mails.
And so during the presidential campaign the e-mails stolen from the Democrats were constantly being read aloud on television and they were being referred to as hacked e-mails. The words stolen wasn`t used very much, and they were printed in all the major newspapers.
Now, Steve Bannon interestingly is not publicly complaining at all about his e-mails being published in "The New York Times," which is almost all you need to know to accept Roger Stone`s theory that Steve Bannon has simply handed over those e-mails because he`s trying to hurt Roger Stone by just giving all those e-mails to "The New York Times." And those e-mails do hurt Roger Stone.
The e-mails were sent on October 4, 2016, hours after the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, told reporters in a weird videoconference that he would soon release, quote, significant material related to the presidential election. Bannon then e-mailed Roger Stone that day saying, what was that this morning? Stone replied, fear, serious security concern. He thinks they are going to kill him and the London police are standing down. However, a load every week going forward.
Three days later the load began. WikiLeaks began releasing the e-mails that were stolen from Hillary Clinton`s campaign chairman.
Joining our discussion now, Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor and legal correspondent for slate.com. Also joining us is Joyce Vance, former U.S. attorney for the northern district of Alabama. She`s also an MSNBC legal contributor.
And, Dahlia, as I say the whole stolen e-mail question is something the media has never really figured themselves out, but these don`t seem stolen. They seem like they were just handed to the "The New York Times" to get Roger Stone in more trouble.
DAHLIA LITHWICK, SENIOR EDITOR AND LEGAL CORRESPONDENT, SLATE.COM: I think so. And I think also Stone today he tried to scoop "The Times" by putting them out minutes before himself.
O`DONNELL: That was the Donald Trump, Jr. strategy when his e-mails were under suspicion.
LITHWICK: But no, but you`re quite right. I think we haven`t figured out what we mean when we talk about stolen e-mails in the media, and that`s -- it`s hard to have a protocol when you don`t know --
O`DONNELL: At a minimum, calling them stolen is big improvement over hacked when they`re actually stolen.
Joyce Vance, what are you reading in these e-mails? What do you think the special prosecutor is reading in these e-mails?
JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: They`re awfully interesting. They certainly do damage Stone as you point out. But they also make Bannon coming out looking a bit better than he might have looked based on the rumors.
So, obviously, Mueller has had an opportunity to interview Bannon in the last few days, to talk to a lot of other people. He knows more than what we see in the e-mails. The crux of the matter is, was the campaign in the know, and if so who in the campaign?
O`DONNELL: "The New York Times" reports Mr. Stone presented himself to Trump campaign officials as a conduit of inside information from WikiLeaks. Mr. Bannon and two other former senior campaign officials have detailed to prosecutors how Mr. Stone created that impression.
So, Dahlia, this is serious investigation.
LITHWICK: It`s being cleared for the last few weeks. We know that Mueller is really honing in on Stone. We know he`s talked to a whole bunch of stone associates. He`s met with some of them several times. This is clearly important.
I think we have to be really clear today that we don`t necessarily have a smoking gun here.
O`DONNELL: No, right?
LITHWICK: What we do have and I think this goes right to what you opened the show with, is Stone saying something today that discredits something he literally said two days ago, when he said there are no e-mails, sort of suggesting that I`m the pipeline between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks. And two days later that`s manifestly untrue, and we`ve got the documents to prove it.
And just -- the thing that rankles for me is the lying and just sort of preening about the lying and saying oh, it was just puffery when I was lying. I was just fake involved. But it`s all this endless attempt to destabilize fact finding and truth.
O`DONNELL: Well, Joyce, he`s in serious perjury problems if he said to any federal investigators that there are no e-mails and then these e-mails emerge.
VANCE: He seems like someone who may have a number of perjury issues. You know, what Dahlia talks about is this sort of progressive storytelling that he`s had over time. And as you point out, if he`s said anything under oath or in a formal setting with the FBI, that alone could be enough to subject him to formal charges and it would have echoes really of some of the charges against Manafort and others that were used to then bring them in and encourage them to cooperate.
O`DONNELL: So there`s an interesting indicator about how long the special prosecutor might have known about this. And that is in the questions to the president that the president`s legal team kind of released as these are the things that the special prosecutor is interested in. And this was several months ago that they released their written notes about those questions.
One of the questions to the president from the special prosecutor was to be, what did you know about communication between Roger Stone, his associates, Julian Assange or WikiLeaks? So it sounds there when you consider that Mueller was asking that question of the president many, many months ago, they`ve been on this for a while.
LITHWICK: They`re obsessed with Stone. I think they really do feel like they`re -- and don`t forget, as you said, Stone was bragging about this. I mean at the time was saying I was the go-to guy, I knew stuff. Now, he`s changing it. As Joyce says, the story now is, oh, no, no, I had this one back channel and I was only tweeting things that were only publicly known, except oops, the back channel now says he`s not telling the truth so he`s got a new back, back channel.
And now Daniel Ellsberg is involved. I mean it literally is like where`s Waldo of just names of people I`ve thought of today. And, of course, that`s tough for Mueller to pin it all down. But if anybody can do it, I guess it`s Robert Mueller.
O`DONNELL: Joyce, quickly before we go, I`m sure you`ve faced this a prosecutor with various criminals that you end up dealing with. And that is people like Roger Stone lie all the time, including lying about having committed a crime. And it may be they didn`t commit a crime but they sure like lying about having committed a crime because they want to boast to whoever they were talking about. How do you sort that out?
VANCE: Yes, it`s really common. You do it by meticulously putting together other available information to compare to their story. And then at the end of the day, if you are in front of a jury or when you evaluate the evidence, Robert Mueller didn`t pick Roger Stone as a witness. He was picked by Trump and the Trump campaign. And so anything that goes to his credibility and his truthfulness really is at the campaign`s doorstep and not a problem that investigators have to own.
O`DONNELL: Dahlia Lithwick, Joyce Vance, thank you both for joining our discussion tonight.
And when we come back, the candidate, the best candidate out there today who says she`s not a candidate. Wait until you see what Oprah Winfrey had to say on the campaign trail in Georgia today.
O`DONNELL: If your doorbell rings in Georgia these days, it could be Oprah Winfrey.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DENISE: Oh, my God.
WINFREY: Hi, Denise.
DENISE: Hi, Oprah.
WINFREY: How are you?
DENISE: I`m wonderful. How are you?
WINFREY: Good. Surprise, surprise.
DENISE: Surprise. I am shocked.
WINFREY: Surprise. So I`m canvassing for Stacey Abrams.
DENISE: Yes, yes.
WINFREY: Are you voting for her?
DENISE: I absolutely am.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Hi, Oprah. I guess that`s what you say if Oprah`s at your front door when the doorbell rings. What else do you say? And then you jump up and down or something. When Oprah Winfrey spoke at a campaign event with Stacey Abrams today, Oprah specifically said she is not running for anything, but she said that in a speech that turned out to be a masterclass for politicians who are running for something.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WINFREY: I`m here today because of Stacey Abrams. I`m here today -- and I`m here today because of the men and because of the women who were lynched, who were humiliated, who were discriminated against, who were suppressed, who were repressed and oppressed for the right for the equality at the polls. And I want you to know that their blood has seeped into my DNA and I refuse to let their sacrifices be in vain. I refuse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Democrat Stacey Abrams is polling in a statistical tie with Republican Brian Kemp in a state that should be an easy win for a Republican running for governor. And she was polling in a tie before Oprah showed up to help make the closing argument.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WINFREY: For anybody here who has an ancestor who didn`t have the right to vote and you are choosing not to vote, wherever you are in this state, in this country, you are dishonoring your family. You are disrespecting and disregarding their legacy, their suffering, and their dreams when you don`t vote.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now from Georgia is LaTosha Brown. She`s the co-founder of Black Voters Matter.
And LaTosha, you were at that event today with Oprah and Stacey Abrams. I was watching it on television and I went into it I guess a doubter of Oprah as a political force. I`m a big believer after about, I don`t know, seven minutes of watching her. Wow. Oprah on the political stage is really amazing. How did Stacey Abrams do in her half of the act on stage together?
LATOSHA BROWN, CO-FOUNDER, BLACK VOTERS MATTER: Oh, no. They were masterful. It was beautiful I think. What was hard to capture is that the energy in the room, the room was just so on fire. People were so excited. There was so much hope, so much high energy in the room.
Stacey Abrams actually on the second half, she presented and she was just masterful. I think everything that -- well, you could hear her brilliance. She was prepared. She`s very grounded. There was this really excellent energy that you saw this interplay between she and Oprah.
After she presented, they had like a one-on-one conversation with each other. And one of the highlights for me was that Stacey Abrams got to ask Oprah a question around what was a hard moment for her. So it`s such a really strong interchange between two strong African-American women. You saw the energy. You saw the mutual respect for each other. It was actually a fantastic masterful event.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to some of what Stacey Abrams had to say. All right. I`m going to have to read it because the control room doesn`t seem to have it. Stacey Abrams said, "Growing up, my parents encouraged us to dream big. But we went without health insurance, struggled to get a good education despite my parents working full-time jobs. My story is not unique. I`m running for governor because I know we can celebrate the progress we`ve made and go so much further, create thousands of new jobs, expand Medicaid, keep hospitals open. As governor, I`ll fight for every family to have the freedom and opportunity to thrive. That`s not dreaming. We can do this."
And LaTosha, in so few words to hear a political candidate take the story from when she was growing up to what she will do as governor and move right through health care policy and important issues of the day was also very, very impressive today.
BROWN: Absolutely. You know, she captivated the room because what you saw, you saw authenticity. And I think people really are hungry right now for authentic voices, people who actually connect with them, and people who can empathize with what their experience is. Her parents happened to be in the room so people actually had the opportunity -- she introduced her parents and then she went on to share her story.
So there was this genuine connection in terms you authentically felt this energy, that people could see the stories. They could find themselves in her life and even in her sharing some of her vulnerability about some of the challenges that she`s faced growing up. I think that`s where you saw a lot of people afterwards, we would listen and people kept saying how moved they were by her stories.
O`DONNELL: And Donald Trump today said that she`s not qualified. Those were his words, not qualified to be governor. This is the least qualified officeholder in the history of the United States saying that she`s not qualified. She`s far more educated than he is, graduate of Yale Law School. She actually had -- has real government experience, was the minority leader of the legislature down there. Did she have a reaction today to Donald Trump saying that she`s not qualified?
BROWN: You know, not at all. Like most of us, she knew that that has very little resonance with any of us, right? That part of what she stated and I think her candidacy -- when you look at her candidacy, she actually stays the course. She`s very disciplined. She`s very focused. She stays on message and that resonates with people. She was very high energy but she also was very positive and very grounded and authentic.
O`DONNELL: LaTosha Brown, thank you for joining us from Georgia tonight. Really appreciate it.
BROWN: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
Up next, President Trump, of course, is talking about fear. He`s talking about an invasion. And he`s lying about how Pittsburgh reacted to his visit, his unwelcome visit to Pittsburgh. One of the people he lied about in Pittsburgh will join us.
O`DONNELL: Three people who were murdered in the Tree of Life Synagogue on Saturday were buried today, Bernice Simon, her husband Sylvan Simon, and Richard Gottfried. Donald Trump continues to fuel the anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that George Soros is funding what Donald Trump calls an invasion headed toward our southern border. The president`s invasion rhetoric inspired the mass murderer to go into the Synagogue and kill those people and try to kill as many Jews as he could.
In that mass murderer`s final social media post, he said he is going to kill Jews because he believed they are supporting what Donald Trump calls an invasion. And there is absolutely no evidence that the collective march, for many a barefoot march through Central America is actually being funded by anyone. Certainly not George Soros and certainly not the 11 dead in Pittsburgh, or anyone in Pittsburgh.
The president lied about what happened in Pittsburgh on the day that he visited without an invitation from anyone. A huge protest in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood met the president that day. The president told this lie about the protest.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I came home and sadly, turned on the news and watched as the far- left media once again used tragedy to sow anger and division. Sadly, they took a small group of protesters, far away from where we were. They did everything in their power to try to play it up and push people apart. It was fake and it was make-belief what they said.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: One of the people Donald Trump saw talking about these protests on television was Tammy Hamps who joined us on Tuesday night. She was one of the organizers of the protest. She will join us next with her reaction to the president`s lies about her and the protest and how his visit was resisted by the people of Pittsburgh.
O`DONNELL: Tonight, at a political rally in Missouri, the president of the United States actually complained, complained that the mass murder at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh stopped the momentum. That was the word he used, the momentum. That`s what he was worried about, it stopped the momentum of his campaigning and Republicans` campaigning. That`s what troubled the president tonight about a mass murder. Not one word of moral outrage about the targeting of Jews by the mass murderer, not one word. Just momentum, losing campaign momentum. That`s all that he cared about tonight.
Joining us now from Pittsburgh is Tammy Hepps, one of the people who protested the president`s visit to Pittsburgh.
Tammy, you`ve heard what the president said about your protest, that it was small, that it wasn`t anywhere near him, that it really didn`t represent the feelings in Pittsburgh at all, and that we in the news media were lying about it. And I guess lying about it, I was, I guess, lying about it by having you on the show from -- telling us your own experience in the protest. What`s your reaction to that?
TAMMY HEPPS, ANTI-TRUMP RALLY ORGANIZER: There were close to 5,000 of us there marching through the neighborhood. Our line snaked blocks long. We were singing. Our neighbors were out on their porches. We encountered the motorcade. We were just two blocks from the Tree of Life Synagogue and our voices carried. It`s as though he`s trying to erase all of us who were there and the experience that we had in raising our voices in peaceful songs and prayers to share our message.
O`DONNELL: What is your reaction to the president tonight, saying that the mass murderer at the Synagogue for him represented a loss of momentum as a campaigner?
HEPPS: I thought what I was most afraid of going in is that he would say crass things about our beloved dad. The fact that he just cast them entirely aside, they were a distraction, they took away from momentum, that he missed his rallies, that hurts me more than I could have possibly imagined when I worried about what might happen as a result of his business -- his visit, excuse me. I never dreamed that he would simply act as though it had never happened and it meant nothing and was just completely a separate experience that had no impact on the things that really mattered to him.
O`DONNELL: And the president seems to have no idea that the funerals are still going on every day.
HEPPS: No. In Pittsburgh, people are still mourning. There are funerals through the end of the day tomorrow. People are still in Shiva. There were long lines out of houses and community buildings of people trying to visit and comfort the mourning. This experience is ongoing in our city and ongoing around the country for everyone who is mourning for these people. It hasn`t even been a week since they were murdered. This is still actively a tragedy that people are still actively processing.
O`DONNELL: Tammy Hepps, thank you very much for taking your time away from Shiva tonight to join us once again. And again, I`m very very sorry for your loss and the losses that your community has suffered.
HEPPS: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Thank you. We`ll be right back.
O`DONNELL: Right here tomorrow night, THE LAST WORD at 10:00 p.m., Michael Moore will join us. That`s Friday night on THE LAST WORD. We`re doing an election special, Saturday night.
It`s going to be Saturday night live here at MSNBC at 9:00 p.m. I will be on at 9:00 p.m. doing an election special, Saturday night with a very special guest, Captain Chesley Sullenberger. Sully Sullenberger has been a lifetime Republican. He is now advocating that everyone vote Democratic in this upcoming election. At Saturday night at 9:00 p.m., in an exclusive interview, Sully Sullenberger will tell us why he has made that decision and why he is advocating people vote Democratic. Now, that is tonight`s "Last Word." "The 11th Hour with Brian Williams" starts now.