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Dems flip 3 more seats. TRANSCRIPT: 11/14/18, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell

Guests: David Jolly, Neera Tanden, Jed Shugerman

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Rachel. 

And an hour ago, I happened to catch your handoff with Chris Hayes, which I don`t usually catch because I have other stuff to do at that particular moment.  But I just want you to know that I`m always here if you ever drop in here 40 seconds early, I`ll be here.  The wires will all be wired, it`ll be wired. 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS":  Are you just trying to add to my shame? 

O`DONNELL:  I do think the highlight reel should include tonight`s hand-off with Chris Hayes, which was a classic behind the scenes glimpse. 

MADDOW:  I am a late person.  You know as well as everybody in this building that I sit down two seconds generously before it is time for the show to start, and then I always go late into the first minute of your show.  And so, I realize this is a problem that I might fix. 

But, boy, was I surprised when Chris came to my early tonight. 

O`DONNELL:  It was the most fun I`ve had watching TV. 

MADDOW:  The whole crew got to be on TV. 

O`DONNELL:  It really was the inside the world of Rachel Maddow. 

MADDOW:  Thank you, Lawrence. 

O`DONNELL:  Thank you, Rachel. 

Well, as election night in America continues, the Democrats continue to win seats in the House of Representatives.  The wave continues.  Three new races have been called for the Democrats tonight.  Steve Kornacki will, of course, join us with the latest on those new wins for Democrats. 

And in the White House, this means it`s a whole new level of insanity.  That`s what people inside Trump world are now saying about Donald Trump`s reaction once he began to realize just how badly Donald Trump and the Republicans were beaten in the election.  A beating that continues to get worse every day as new Democratic winners continue to be declared in congressional races from coast to coast. 

One former West Wing staffer told Gabriel Sherman at "Vanity Fair", quote, this is level of insanity I`ve never seen before. 

Now, just pause and imagine what that insanity level must be like.  A new one they`ve never seen before.  Previous presidents who have lost congressional seats in midterm elections all immediately went to work trying to figure out how to win those voters back for their own upcoming re-election campaigns but not Donald Trump.  He just goes to a new level of insanity, according to a Trump insider. 

And that insanity includes Melania Trump.  She is Donald Trump`s third wife and the only one of Donald Trump`s wives to push him around publicly, and she did it at the peak of Donald Trump`s power, the peak of the power in Donald Trump`s life.  She wasn`t just pushing Donald Trump the real estate guy around, she was pushing around the president of the United States when she had her staff make a public statement yesterday that Melania Trump believes that deputy national security advisor Mira Ricardel, quote, no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House. 

That was Melania Trump deciding to act as president of the United States, something she apparently decided that was something she could do because of her husband`s new level of insanity, that that allows her to do that now.  She humiliated her husband, she humiliated White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, proving John Kelly is in charge of nothing and no one in the White House, and today, Mira Ricardel, she is no longer enjoying the honor of working in the Trump White House. 

And so, the White House issued this statement today following up on Melania Trump`s order.  The statement says: Mira Ricardel will continue to support the president as she departs the White House to transition to a new role within the administration. 

No first lady has ever before publicly urged the removal of a White House official whose employment in the White House was never in doubt until the first lady decided it should come to an end and announced that decision publicly.  This is whole new level of insanity. 

Gabriel Sherman`s reporting for "Vanity Fair" examines the president`s, quote, dark mood during his weekend trip to France.  Donald Trump was surprised, surprised his decision to skip the ceremony at an American military cemetery because of rain became a huge scandal.  Gabriel Sherman reports, quote: One Republican briefed on the internal discussion said the real reason Trump did not want to go was because there would be no tents to stand under.  He was worried his hair was going to get messed up in the rain, the source said. 

John Bolton and everyone was telling him this was a big mistake.  A former administration official said Trump hates being outside in wet conditions.  What I honestly think, he woke up and said, it`s pouring rain, this is joke and I`m not doing this. 

While the president was worrying about how his hair could survive rain, at least some Republicans were facing the reality of what went wrong in the election. 


REINCE PRIEBUS, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN:  Our message was weak, our ground game was insufficient.  We weren`t inclusive.  The perception that we`re the party of the rich, unfortunately, continues to grow.  As it all goes back to what our moms used to tell us, it`s not just what you say, it`s how we say it. 


O`DONNELL:  Well, that was actually Reince Priebus after Barack Obama won his re-election campaign.  Remember what happened then?  Remember the Republican autopsy?  That`s what they called it. 

Republicans took their loss to President Obama very seriously and immediately went to work trying to figure out what they needed to do to win elections again.  That`s what Reince Priebus was talking about there, and as part of the Republican autopsy then, even Sean Hannity changed his position on immigration and said we should create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants in this country.  Sean Hannity believed Republicans were going to have to appeal to minority voters and change their positions accordingly. 

But the Republican`s next nominee for president was Donald Trump.  And the rest is history.  Sean Hannity changed his mind again to conform with the Trump position as did the entire Republican Party. 

But some Republicans who worked on that Republican autopsy six years ago are starting to think again about how to save the Republican Party.  Kevin McCarthy is one of them.  Kevin McCarthy is the new leader of Republicans in the House of Representatives because Paul Ryan saw the defeat of Republicans coming over a year ago and decided not to run for reelection to his congressional seat. 

Today, Kevin McCarthy told NBC`s Kasie Hunt that recruiting women and minority candidates will be a focus of his.  He said, give me two years, I`ve only been leader for a few months.  Kevin McCarthy admitted to Kasie Hunt that the Republicans have a structural problem.  That was the term they used in their discussion today, meaning that Republicans are appealing to too narrow a selection of voters to actually win elections. 

Donald Trump is the Republican`s structural problem.  And as of tonight, the president does not stand a chance of being re-elected.  Only 37 percent of voters want to see President Trump re-elected.  Fifty-eight percent of voters want to see President Trump defeated in 2020. 

For the Trump campaign to have a chance something dramatic is going to have to change about Donald Trump himself.  And so far, changing Donald Trump has always been impossible. 

There is an extraordinary number within that Monmouth University poll: 16 percent of Republicans do not want Donald Trump to be reelected.  Donald Trump cannot give up 16 percent of Republicans and have any chance at re- election.  Fifty-nine percent of independents say they do not want Donald Trump to be elected, 59 percent of independents. 

So, for Donald Trump to be re-elected he has to somehow change the minds of every Republican who does not want Donald Trump to be re-elected and at the same time, he has to change the minds of tens of millions of independents all over the country who do not want Donald Trump to be reelected.  And we have never seen Donald Trump use his presence or use his political position to change the minds of voters who are against him. 

The new level of insanity does not include the new House Republican Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.  He knows the Republicans have to do something, have to change something in order to win the next election.  But he also knows that Donald Trump can never change. 

Leading off our discussion now, David Jolly, former Republican congressman from Florida, Neera Tanden, the president of the Center for American Progress.  She was Hillary Clinton`s policy director during the 2008 presidential campaign.  And Cornell Belcher, the Democratic pollster and MSNBC political analyst is with us. 

And, David Jolly, I want to start with you and I want to start with what strikes me as possibly the most prohibitive number for Donald Trump.  Sixteen percent of Republicans do not want Donald Trump re-elected. 

FORMER REP. DAVID JOLLY (R), FLORIDA:  And it`s likely going to get worse, not better. 

Look, to Kevin McCarthy`s point, and with all due respect, it`s not a structural problem Republicans have.  It`s a policy problem Republicans have. 

And in full disclosure, I was part of that small group of Republicans a few years back that blocked Kevin McCarthy`s ascension to the speakership, the first time he tried to become leader and I did so because I told him point- blank, because Republicans refuse to address comprehensive immigration reform, because they kept pursuit of repeal of Obamacare without replace, because they keep shutting down votes on common sense gun reform.  And that was when Republicans controlled the House. 

Now, we know about today`s Congress that the Republican caucus has become more Trump like, not less Trump like and Kevin McCarthy won`t be able to control the floor agenda. 

The contrast with Democrats who right now arguably are kind of pitch perfect on talking about paycheck issues, on health care, on community safety, while also saying we`re going to engage in oversight but not too far, that contrast over the next two years is going to hurt Republicans and Donald Trump more than it`s going to help them. 

Democrats have some challenges as well.  They`ve got to identify who is the voice of the party as all these presidential candidates emerge, and they`ve got to look hard at some of the losses they had last Tuesday.  Even though I do think it was a wave, how do you win states like Florida, how do you win states like Missouri?  Those are real procedural challenges that Democrats have to figure out as well. 

O`DONNELL:  And so, while the Republicans have to figure out how to win elections, they`ve got the president reportedly at a whole new level of insanity. 

I want to read more of Gabriel Sherman`s reporting from inside the White House.  He says, quoting, a person close to Donald Trump, he says, this is a matter of the president now being on his own without any countervailing force whatsoever, a person close to Donald Trump said.  It`s just 100 percent Donald Trump doing what Donald Trump wants. 

Neera Tanden, can anyone turn Donald Trump into someone who can appeal to voters who aren`t already supporting him? 

NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS:  I mean, the reality of this last two years is that Donald Trump has not built on his base.  And I think that you pointed out the numbers amongst Republicans, but I think what`s an even more clear warning shot is how well Democrats did across the country with independents.  They won independents decisively even in places like Texas. 

And, you know, David is right there are places Democrats should focus on and try to shore up.  But when you look at the breadth of the victory from one part of this country to basically every corner, Democrats put together a winning coalition.  A large scale coalition of suburban women, a lot of college educated white men, in fact, it used to be the base of the Republican Party, as well as millennials who no one expected to turn out and people of color, Latinos, because of the divisive hateful rhetoric around the caravan. 

So, I think the truth is, Donald Trump is in a day`s long fury because his strategy backfired.  It was -- he went all in on hateful chaos day in and day out.  He has no other way to be as president and it failed. 

O`DONNELL:  Cornell Belcher, I want to hear your professional opinion as a pollster in what we`re seeing in these new polls.  And we`re granting, we`re recognizing the next election is two years away.  But we have just seen two years of Donald Trump failing to convert a single voter in his direction, but never even trying to do it. 

So when you look at these polls showing the trouble that Donald Trump is in, the only pattern we know is that Donald Trump has shown no evidence about how to pull himself out of these holes that he`s in the polls. 

CORNELL BELCHER, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Look, I think, you know, McCarthy and a lot of the Republicans at some point, and former Congressman Jolly probably knows this better than I do, at some point, there`s going to be a break in the Republican Party because there`s, you know, Donald Trump`s Republican Party, which it is right now but has no room for the Kasichs of the world, has no room for the Bushes of the world and has no room for a whole swath of Republicans who once upon a time you understood. 

And Donald Trump has continued to narrow the Republican Party to a core group of people who are very anxious about their status in this country. 

I want to step back from a moment and sort of talk about that narrowing because it`s profound, right?  If you look at Texas, Texas is for Republicans what California is for Democrats.  It is the biggest blue state.  Texas is a big red state.  You had a Democrat come within two points of taking out a sitting Republican senator.  That should send shock waves all across the Republican establishment. 

You have Democrats making inroads in states that are very important.  Arizona, Democrats have made inroads in a state that`s been fairly red.  Nevada is beginning to look like Virginia, which once upon a time was a red state, and Virginia was once upon a time a red state.  And you have Georgia, which boggles my mind because I thought we were four years away from this in Georgia.  You have Georgia as a toss up. 

If states like Georgia and Arizona are turning red, the pathway for Republicans in 2020 back to the White House has gotten more and more narrow while the pathway for Democrats is expanding.  Look, Arizona will be a battleground state in the next presidential election, and I didn`t think it would be.  But if we`re coming within a point in Georgia, whoever the next Democratic nominee is, we`ll put money there. 

O`DONNELL:  And, David Jolly, when you look at a couple of the districts that were flipped in Texas, one of them the Republicans have held for 52 years since George H.W. Bush first won that seat in 1966.  A powerful 18- year member from Texas just knocked out -- no one in his district seemed to care he was the chairman of appropriations subcommittee and could do the district some good.  None of the old moves are working in those kinds of districts for Republicans. 

JOLLY:  That`s right.  A couple of things we`re seeing as the political demographics, the heartbeat of the country`s politics are moving further away from where Republicans are.  And Republicans seem to be moving further away from the heartbeat is.  Look, I would be rather going in the Democratic position in 2020 right now.  You`ve got to hold your gains and pick up a bit more. 

To your point on Kevin McCarthy, you know, I joked there`s not enough Red Starbursts in the world to keep Kevin McCarthy to keep Donald Trump in check going to 2020.  But here`s the important thing, Lawrence, when we get there races are all about contrast.  Contrast between the two candidates.  And that`s where Democrats have to decide, who is their voice, what is their message in 2020, are they staying right where they`re at?  And also be prepared. 

I do think we`re going to see a disruptive candidate.  If it`s a primary challenge to Donald Trump, that really endears them in the primary process, where very well might be an independent or third party candidate.  Are they viable or do they play a spoiler role, or does it hurt Trump or actually eats into some of the gains in the midterm elections? 

O`DONNELL:  David Jolly, are you announcing tonight you will step into the primary field and be the challenger of Donald Trump in the Republican primaries? 

JOLLY:  I promise you, I will part of the disruption in 2020.  And I will say this, if it means it`s a spoiler role that kills Donald Trump`s re- election chances, I`d like to go down in history being part of that team. 

O`DONNELL:  And, Neera Tanden, when we first saw this phenomenon occur in 1968 when Gene McCarthy, Democratic senator, rose up against his own Democratic President Lyndon Johnson.  Gene McCarthy did not expect to win.  He simply wanted to put the most important issue of the day in his mind on the ballot, which was the Vietnam War.  McCarthy was the anti-war candidate, he wanted voters to simply express themselves that way.

But that was enough.  That challenge was enough when Bobby Kennedy also joined the campaign as an anti-war candidate to convince Lyndon Johnson to simply quit, to simply give up.  And this was the most powerful uncanny politician who`d ever occupied the presidency, and no one expected Lyndon Johnson to give up and not run until the moment he actually spoke the words, that he was giving up and not running for re-election.  The Trump model following the LBJ model is not inconceivable. 

TANDEN:  No, and I would say, you know, if I were a House Republican, I would really ask myself is Donald Trump helpful to my prospects if I`m not just in the most rural part of this country or is he helpful?  And is it helpful or harmful?  And is it helpful to have him on the top of the ticket for us to get to the top of the majority or is it harmful? 

And the reality is, look, Republicans made their bed with the devil over the last two years.  Mitch McConnell and former Speaker Ryan made a deal with they basically looked away, were no check on Trump.  Basically said yes to every single thing he did.  And the country rose up in opposition. 

You know, I`m definitely not an advisor to the Republican Party, but I have to say they have to ask themselves who is actually going to help them in the long-term be a majority party?  They are not a majority party today.  They are just not a majority party today. 

They are in the Senate because of basically the structural problems of the Senate, but the House is much more representative.  Even with gerrymandering, the Democrats did so well. 

So, I think -- I think if I were a possible challenger, but if I were just a Republican back-bencher, I would ask myself.  And I think that`s -- Donald Trump knows he`s not -- he has a lot of issues in the Republican Party, too.  I think that`s part of his seven days-long fury as well. 

O`DONNELL:  And, Cornell Belcher, the old professional advice for one party when the other party is destroying itself is to simply get out of the way and stay quiet and let them do that.  The trouble is a field of Democrats candidates for president is going to have to develop and develop relatively quickly, so they`re not going to be able to just kind of silently watch the Republicans struggle with their own confusions. 

BELCHER:  I think that`s right, and one of the signs if you`re a Democrat and looking for it in the exit poll is this.  There`s not a great deal, Lawrence, between the fave, unfave of Dems in Congress and Republicans in Congress.  Republicans are more unfavorable, but there`s not ten points worth of difference there. 

And I think Democrats will be amiss if they in fact looked at what happened on Tuesday of the election and thought it was about them, more so than it was about Donald Trump.  And I think to a certain extent, Democrats still have to put forward an aspirational vision, the types that we saw under Obama, that gave people something to vote for. 

Look, when we -- and they have -- they have -- a once perhaps in a generation sort of chance.  You have college white voters breaking for Democrats this time.  Hillary didn`t win college white voters.  Obama didn`t win college white voters. 

This is once in a lifetime, once in a generational sort of opportunity to realign the parties, if Democrats, do this right and put forward a forward thinking vision and we`ll see if they can do that. 

O`DONNELL:  Neera Tanden, David Jolly, Cornell Belcher, thank you all for starting us off tonight.  Really appreciate it. 

And when we come back, Steve Kornacki will join us with the latest election results.  More wins for Democrats tonight. 

And Congressman Eric Swalwell will join us with what the new congressional majority of Democrats will do.  And he`ll discuss the grotesque inhumanity that Donald Trump has shown to be victims of the California fires. 

And even the Fox News top legal analyst believes the installation of Matthew Whitaker as a so-called acting attorney general is unconstitutional. 


O`DONNELL:  There is a new Jeff Flake in town.  Republican Senator Jeff Flake with just weeks left in his time in the United States Senate has joined the resistance to protect Robert Mueller`s investigation. 

Jeff Flake is finally using the super power granted to him as a Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee to block all confirmations of judges in the Senate Judiciary Committee because today, when Jeff Flake rose on the Senate floor with Democratic Senator Chris Coons to ask for a vote on their bipartisan supported bill to protect Robert Mueller, Mitch McConnell blocked that vote, and that was the breaking point for Jeff Flake. 


SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA:  Why are we so sanguine about this?  Yet when we have the opportunity to past legislation to say protect the special counsel that received a bipartisan vote in the Judiciary Committee, we fail to bring it up on the Senate floor?  Why? 

Bring it to a vote.  Bring it to a vote.  And until we do, the 21 nominations that are in the Judiciary Committee waiting for a vote there will not receive a vote, nor will I give my vote to the 32 nominations that are sitting here on the Senate floor. 


O`DONNELL:  That is what the power of a single senator looks like.  Those nominations cannot pass the Senate Judiciary Committee without the vote of every Republican on that committee.  Senator Flake took his stand today after the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel released a 20-page memo attempting to justify President Trump`s installation of Matthew Whitaker as a so-called acting attorney general. 

Assistant Attorney General Steven Engel, the head of the Office of Legal Counsel, wrote in the memo, quote: This office had previously advised that the president could designate a senior Department of Justice official such as Mr. Whitaker as acting attorney general. 

Most legal scholars including conservatives have said the choice of Matthew Whitaker is illegal and unconstitutional.  The memo claims that the acting attorney general does need to be promoted from a position that was confirmed by the Senate.  The memo does admit that there has not been an acting attorney general who did not have Senate confirmation since 1866, before the creation of the Department of Justice.  And that 1866 appointment lasted only six days. 

FOX News senior legal analyst, former Judge Andrew Napolitano, was not persuaded by that memo. 


ANDREW NAPOLITANO, FOX NEWS SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST:  I was very disappointed to see the lawyers who work for Matthew Whitaker, go back to 1866 and look for a precedent there to decide whether or not he was lawfully appointed.  I don`t care what happened in 1866 because the Congress changed the law in the 1960s and said whoever runs the Justice Department has to be nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate because we put too much power in their hands.  That kind of power can`t go to a political hack. 


O`DONNELL:  For our guidance, we turn now to Jed Shugerman, a professor of law at Fordham University. 

Professor Shugerman, you`ve been writing about this today.  I just want to give you the floor and argue your case on the installation of this so- called acting attorney general. 

JED SHUGERMAN, PROFESSOR OF LAW, FORDHAM UNIVERSITY:  Well, there are two problems with the memo that came out today.  One small one that says bigger problems and then one giant problem.  The smaller problem is that the OLC, the office of legal counsel, which was once known for having the greatest minds of the DOJ, made a very basic mistake about two statutes. 

Very simple point about these two statutes is it says there`s a DOJ statute and there`s this broader Vacancies Reform Act.  And they said the reason why this broader Vacancy Reform Act applies and allows Whitaker to be appointed is because it refers to the DOJ statute and that cross -- they referred -- they call it a cross-reference.  And because the broader Whitaker Act cross-references the DOJ, it means that Congress meant it to supersede or apply to the DOJ Act.

It`s hard for something to cross reference another act if it didn`t exist yet, right.  So the DOJ Act was passed long before the Vacancies Reform Act.  There`s no way the DOJ Act could cross-refer to something that wasn`t passed until 20 years later.

O`DONNELL:  And the original law, the Department of Justice outlined a line of succession in an attorney general vacancy.

SHUGERMAN:  That`s right.

O`DONNELL:  And it would specify that the deputy attorney general should become the acting attorney general.  They want to now say that this later law overrides the Department of Justice Act.

SHUGERMAN:  That`s right.

O`DONNELL:  But if it was intended to override the department -- the law about the Department of Justice, it would have specifically said so?

SHUGERMAN:  So and there is -- let me say.  The Act as written is a mess.


SHUGERMAN:  It is a messy Act.  Now, I will say that I`ve dug into this for a couple of days.  And there is a plausible argument that just based on the text of this messy Act, you could read --

O`DONNELL:  This is the vacancy?

SHUGERMAN:  The vacancy, yes. The later Act gives discretion to a president to appoint Whitaker arguably.  The bigger problem is it is still unconstitutional and the OLC, in addition to making this basic statutory error which is an embarrassment, they may have been right on the statute as a matter of text.  They ignored the broader purpose.  And the purposes of statutes are important so that`s a gap in their reasoning.

But here is the biggest point.  The Whitaker appointment violates the Constitution.  And here`s how they try to dance around that.  They said --

O`DONNELL:  This is because he doesn`t have Senate confirmation.

SHUGERMAN:  That`s right.  The point is that a principal officer and the Office of Legal Counsel acknowledges, that a principal officer must be confirmed by the Senate.  So the move they make is they say the attorney -- this acting attorney general is not a principal officer.

And here`s why that doesn`t work.  The Supreme Court has said consistently that a principal officer has no superior other than the president.  That sounds like an attorney general.

O`DONNELL:  Or an acting attorney general.

SHUGERMAN:  Or an acting attorney general.  Whitaker is the -- and so then there`s another point about an inferior officer is one who reports to a superior officer below the president.  Clearly, an attorney general or an acting attorney general is a principal officer.  You can`t just announce that you`re going to call it something else if there is no basis for it.

O`DONNELL:  And so if there`s cabinet meeting tomorrow, Matthew Whitaker would be sitting at the table with the principals who are all heads of departments.


O`DONNELL:  He would have exactly the same status as all of them.

SHUGERMAN:  That`s exactly right.  So just because they assert something, we`re going to treat the acting attorney general as an inferior officer, that flies in the face of the text of the Constitution and the Supreme Court precedents.  So the only other -- so the only other way you can make this argument is that there`s something functional.  They have to show that by labeling this person an acting attorney general, that making that an inferior officer, there has to be some limited power or some functional explanation for why that`s something different.

So that`s one Constitutional problem that they don`t resolve.  But there`s also a bigger picture Constitutional problem.  The president takes an oath to faithfully execute the office.  The president shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.  Bypassing Rosenstein, a Senate-confirmed deputy attorney general for whom there are statutes that say he is the next in succession, there is no precedent that allows a president to pick a crony who is not Senate confirmed with no real special circumstance but just because he wants to.  That is a faithless execution of the law.

And so two co-authors and I have dug into the history of that part of the Constitution and it imposes the limits on officers that language of faithful execution means that presidents have to act in good faith.  They need to have a public interest in mind and not their own interest in mind.

O`DONNELL:  And there is already a legal challenge from the State of Maryland and there will probably be more legal challenges to this installation of Matthew Whitaker.

Jed Shugerman, thank you very much for joining us tonight.  I really appreciate it.

SHUGERMAN:  Great.  Thank you.

O`DONNELL:  And up next, Steve Kornacki is back because it is still election night in America.  Races are being called tonight.  And, yes, Democrats are still winning.  Congressman Eric Swalwell will also join us.


O`DONNELL:  It is still election night in America and Democrats are still winning for more.  Let`s go where we always go, to Steve Kornacki at the Big Board.  Steve, the latest.

STEVE KORNACKI, POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR:  Yes.  A bunch of votes coming in as we speak tonight, especially out in California.  Take you through the bottom line we got here.  These were the Republican-held seats Democrats were targeting coming into this midterm and you could see right now there are 37 of them, they flipped.

There were three Democratic seats that Republicans wants.  The Democrats right now at this hour a net gain of 34 seats in the House for them.  And you can see there are also still some uncalled races so we expect that number to grow.

What is new tonight, what`s new in the last few hours I can show you.  In New Jersey, you have this race in South Jersey, Tom MacArthur, Republican incumbent.  We are now declaring Andy Kim, his Democratic challenger the winner here. Why this is particularly noteworthy, Tom MacArthur was the Republican in the House who was instrumental in striking the compromise among Republicans that got the Obamacare repeal legislation through the House.  Of course, a lot of Democrats say this was key to them taking back the House.  McArthur, the architect to that Republican plan, he has now been defeated in California.

One of the other declarations from NBC in the last few hours, Jeff Denham, Republican incumbent.  This is a district Hillary Clinton won in 2016.  Now, we are declaring that Josh Harder has unseated Jeff Denham in that district.

And the other one, this is a big name.  We just called this in the last hour.  We declare now that Dana Rohrbacher, Republican incumbent for 30 years from Orange County has officially been defeated, not even that close in his district, and there`s more too.  Those are our declarations tonight.

We see more votes coming in.  Look what else is happening in Orange County, Mimi Walters, Republican incumbent.  More votes came in tonight.  She has fallen now almost 4,000 votes behind her Democratic challenger.  Every night, we`ve got an update in this race.  Walters has been falling farther behind losing ground.

How about this one?  Also, Orange County, the Democrat with the latest update tonight within 122 votes of Young Kim, the Republican in this district.  All expectations are that tomorrow night at this time with the next update, Gil Cisneros, the Democrat, would take the lead there if he does if that holds.

How about this for an extraordinary story in Orange County, California, Lawrence, which is the cradle of Goldwater Republican conservatism.  Some of the biggest names of Republican politics of the second half of the 20th century came out of Orange County, California.  You could be looking at an entirely Democratic delegation from Orange County after this election.

O`DONNELL:  Steve, that is really stunning.  The Orange County vote.  But I have to say, when those Republicans all voted for a massive tax increase on property owners in states like California and New Jersey because of the new Trump tax bill that eliminated their ability to deduct their property taxes, their state income taxes, I didn`t see how they could survive that.

Steve, before we go, take us to Florida and the latest that`s happening there.

KORNACKI:  Yes, quickly.  The Senate race in Florida, again the bottom line in this race is that the Democrat Bill Nelson down 13,000 votes. This machine recount is scheduled to finish tomorrow at 3:00 p.m.  Some question if all the counties, Palm Beach, in particular, can finish by then.  But assuming that they do finish that on time, there`s no core intervention here.

This Senate race will then go to a manual recount in the big outstanding issue in question in the manual recount they call the undervote in Broward County, about 26,000 ballots where they had markings in the governor`s race, not in the Senate race.  Huge Democratic county.  The Nelson campaign is insisting this was a machine error in Broward County that would mean a ton of votes for Nelson.  If that`s true, the manual recount would catch it.  The other option, of course, we`ve been saying is it`s just a belt design and the Democrats could be out of luck.

O`DONNELL:  And Steve, the timetable on the manual recount?

KORNACKI:  That is three days.  So tomorrow at 3:00 p.m., the machine recount ends and then a three day, you know, through Sunday recount would begin manually if the courts don`t intervene.  There are lawsuits that are pending right now.

O`DONNELL:  You`re not leaving the Board any time soon.  Thank you, Steve Kornacki, for joining us once again.

KORNACKI:  Thanks.

O`DONNELL:  Really appreciate it.


O`DONNELL:  When we come back, Eric Swalwell -- Congressman Eric Swalwell will join us with more on the Democratic wins and the president`s failure to help the people of California survive the most deadly fire in the state`s history.


O`DONNELL:  The new Republican minority leader of the House of Representatives knows that his biggest problem is Donald Trump.  On Monday, Kevin McCarthy who represents California`s 23rd district had to call the president to tell him to stop tweeting on the side of the fires and blaming Californians for the loss of their homes and their lives.

The fire`s death toll is the largest in California history with 59 now officially recorded deaths as of tonight.  President Trump saw no reason to rush federal help to California and he has now fallen quiet about the 5,000 troops that he rushed to the southern border to do battle with a nonexistent threat that the president claimed before the election was an invasion of our country.  Today, the secretary of defense visited the troops who have been deployed at great expense to the southern border to do absolutely nothing.


JIM MATTIS, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE:  At the present, I do not anticipate military personnel coming into direct contact with migrants.


O`DONNELL:  The president promised his supporters that those troops would shoot and kill anyone who so much as threw a stone at the southern border.  The defense secretary has once again made it clear that the troops that are there are there to do absolutely nothing.

After this break, California Congressman Eric Swalwell will join us with more on the California fires and the troops sent to the southern border, including the southern border of California to do absolutely nothing and the big Democratic wins in California tonight.


O`DONNELL:  Here is the secretary of defense today talking to troops at the southern border and explaining to them that they don`t really have any work to do there.


MATTIS:  We were asked why the secretary due to the number of people coming this way to back them up.  What does that mean?  It means that people do all the work but we`re standing behind them as a confidence builder --


O`DONNELL:  Joining us now Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell, member of the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees.  He`s been very critical of the president now, how he`s handled the California wildfires and sending the troops in the southern border.

Congressman Swalwell, we just heard from James Mattis that the troops` job at the southern border is a confidence builder.  They`re not supposed to do any of the work, they`re supposed to leave that to Homeland Security, and just be there as a confidence builder.

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE:  Good evening, Lawrence.  I`m disappointed to see General Mattis validate this politicization of our troops at the border.  I`ve got a lot of respect for him in how he`s conducted himself throughout this administration.  But this is a stunt and it`s exploiting our troops to defend against an invisible envision which is actually unarmed refugees, hundreds of miles away.

And there`s a cost to this.  It`s not as if this is free to us.  The cost is that as California is scorched by these fires, we`re seeing up to $200 million spent at the southern border where resources could be devoted to assisting the firefighters fighting these fires and preventing people from losing their homes or their lives.

O`DONNELL:  And people are dying in California and the president is sending the resources to the southern border.  Jeff Flake -- Senator Jeff Flake pointed out today that in his State of Arizona, the troops are stationed 90 miles north of the actual border and he labeled it just a pure stunt.

To get back to the fires, Kevin McCarthy, now the Republican leader of the House of Representatives, minority leader, had to tell the president, asked the president, begged the president presumably to stop tweeting on the side of the fire against Californians.

SWALWELL:  Yes.  And Lawrence, Kevin McCarthy is the minority leader because he just saw a wipeout in California because on so many issues, on immigration, on the fires, on health care.  He saw his California Republican colleagues fail to stand up to the president and instead hurt the people of California.  That`s why they will lose six seats and there are four more seats that we came within 10 or fewer points and that we`re going to be competitive in, in just two years.

O`DONNELL:  Talk about what California now needs in the aftermath of these fires.

SWALWELL:  Well, right now, you know, as the president sends these tweets or threatens to withdraw funding, thankfully, Californians and people from all over the country are sending in towels and clothing and pet supplies to the fire stations.  We`ve got, you know, over 7,000 firefighters bravely fighting these fires right now.

But what we need is a long-term plan to address climate change because clearly, this is a contributing factor.  Also, to make some hard decisions about where future home development occurs, especially if it`s in a high- risk fire area.  And also to look at, you know, what role does, you know, the trees near power lines play.  Because clearly, high winds and tree debris flying and hitting the power lines has caused some of these fires but it takes leadership.

And Lawrence, Oklahoma City, Bill Clinton went there after the bombing and consoled the nation.  After September 11th, President Bush standing in the rubble saying, "I can hear you."  And we have a president just sitting in his bathrobe during executive time tweeting out insults at the people of California.  That`s not leadership.

O`DONNELL:  Congressman Eric Swalwell, thank you very much for joining us again tonight.  Really appreciate it.

SWALWELL:  My pleasure.

O`DONNELL:  Tonight`s last word is next.


O`DONNELL:  Time for tonight`s last word.


SETH MEYERS, HOST LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS:  First lady Melania Trump issued a statement today calling for the removal of Deputy National Security Adviser Mira Ricardo.  Wait, she can do that?  All this time, we`ve been waiting for Robert Mueller to get rid of Trump when we should have been talking to her.  She already doesn`t like him.


O`DONNELL:  Seth Meyers gets tonight`s last word.