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Trump weighs expelling Turkish Foe. TRANSCRIPT: 11/15/18, The Last Word W/ Lawrence O'Donnell

Trump weighs expelling Turkish Foe. TRANSCRIPT: 11/15/18, The Last Word W/ Lawrence O'Donnell

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

And now I`m going to try to repeat that description of ranked voting thing that you just said. 


O`DONNELL:  I was listening and -- I`m going to have to replay it and listen again. 

MADDOW:  I have always had a theory about this.  They call it ranked choice voting.  What does that even mean?  I`ve always thought if they called it one, two, three voting we`d probably have it all over the country.  I mean, you pick your first choice, if that person doesn`t win, then you pick your second choice. 

And then if neither candidate gets to 50 percent, you go through and you pick all the second choice winners from the people who didn`t pick one of the runoff candidates.  That`s all it is.  It just means you get to pick your first, second and third choice.  It does away with spoiler candidacies.  It totally makes sense. 

But when we put up a dumb graphic that doesn`t show that complexity, it made it look wrong. 

O`DONNELL:  My dear Rachel, why weren`t you an elementary schoolteacher when I needed you?  I needed you teaching me math in sixth grade and seventh grade. 

MADDOW:  In a way, you know, some of what we do on this job is kind of elementary school teaching adjacent in a way, sort of. 

O`DONNELL:  Kind of.  It certainly just was right there.  Thank you, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  Thank you, Lawrence. 

O`DONNELL:  Well, it has been reported everywhere now that President Trump has been in an increasingly wickedly bad mood since the Democrats won the House of Representatives on election night, and that means tonight he should be in a much worse mood than last night because the Democrats have won again.  The very last Republican member of the House of Representatives in New England lost his seat as Rachel was just saying to the Democrat in Maine. 

Maine State Legislator Jared Golden is now the 37th Democrat to flip a Republican House seat.  There are still six House races that have not been called.  "The Associated Press" has called one of those races tonight in California for the Democrats.  NBC News has not yet made that call.

Unnamed White House staffers and other Republican sources are telling anyone and everyone with a notebook that the election results and the Mueller investigation have driven Donald Trump absolutely nuts.  Quotes to that affect have been appearing everywhere from "The Los Angeles Times" to "The New York Times" to "The Washington Post," "Politico". 

And so, of course, the president had to begin his Twitter day today by accusing someone else of going absolutely nuts.  In his first attack tweet of the day, the president said: The inner workings of the Mueller investigation are a total mess.  They have found no collusion and have gone absolutely nuts. 

On Tuesday night at this hour, we reported that the president and his lawyers were working on written answers to some questions from Robert Mueller.  They`ve actually had these written questions for months, but they are cramming to do their homework at the last minute.  And that means that we had every right to expect a crazed Twitter attack on Robert Mueller, whenever the president took a break from his homework assignment of answering Robert Mueller`s written questions. 

Today was that day.  The president delivered four attack tweets against Robert Mueller without one word of truth or sanity in any of them.  Historians will use them as a window into the deeply perverted mind of the president of the United States. 

MSNBC`s Nicolle Wallace reports that a source close to the president told her today that, quote, his mind is the worst it has been since the campaign and that among the West Wing staff, there is a near universal sense of foreboding. 

"Politico"quotes a senior Republican saying that the Trump White House is, quote, preparing for the worst.  You can see it in Trump`s body language.  All week long, there is something troubling him.  It`s not just a couple of staff screw ups with Melania, said a senior Republican official in touch with the White House.  It led me to believe the walls are closing in and they`ve been notified by the counsel of action.  Folks are preparing for the worst. 

"Politico" reports that a deep anxiety is about to set in that Mueller is about to pounce after his self-imposed quiet period, and that any number of Trump allies and family members may soon be staring down the barrel of an indictment. 

"The New York Times" reports that the president has spent the last three days in private meetings with his lawyers, something Barack Obama never had to do.  Given what we know about the president`s attention span, it would take enormous pressure to keep him in those meetings over a three-day period. 

It has been a week in which the public developments in the Mueller investigation would be enough to worry the White House.  What the Mueller investigation is doing secretly is usually much more threatening than what we are able to see publicly.  But what we did see publicly earlier this week is that we saw the president`s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, in Washington, D.C. on his way to meet with Robert Mueller`s team.  Robert Mueller again pushed back the sentencing of former campaign official Rick Gates because he is still cooperating on, quote, several ongoing investigations. 

And we saw two days of Jerome Corsi, a friend of Roger Stone`s predicting in online video he will be indicted by the special prosecutor for perjury.  The president dramatically fired his attorney general last week the day after the election because the attorney general followed Justice Department rules and recused himself from overseeing Robert Mueller`s investigation of the president. 

President Trump has been very public about this reasoning for well over a year.  Donald Trump is so relentlessly ignorant about history or ethics or norms or what integrity looks like that he actually has no idea that he was not supposed to ever say publicly I want to fire my attorney general because he`s not protecting me from an investigation.  But now that he`s done that, there is not yet any evidence that the person he installed to control the Mueller investigation is actually controlling the Mueller investigation. 

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham will be the chairman for the Senate Judiciary Committee for the Republicans in January with direct oversight over the Department of Justice and the attorney general.  And so, today, he met with Matthew Whitaker who Donald Trump illegally installed as a so- called acting attorney general. 

And after the meeting, Senator Graham said this.  As to the Mueller investigation, I am confident that it is not in jeopardy.  There`s no reason to fire him.  I asked him, do you have any reason to fire Mr. Mueller?  He said he has zero reason to believe anything is being done wrong with the Mueller investigation. 

Now, big if.  If what Lindsey Graham is saying is true, that had to be even worse news today for Donald Trump than losing another House seat in Maine because as of today according to Lindsey Graham, Matthew Whitaker doesn`t believe anything is being done wrong with the Mueller investigation.  That would logically mean that Matthew Whitaker as of today has no intention and has no right or reason to fire Robert Mueller and no intention of limiting the investigation in any way. 

Leading off our discussion now, Lisa Graves, former chief counsel for nominations for Democrats and the Senate Judiciary Committee.  She was deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department.  Matthew Miller, former spokesperson for Attorney General Eric Holder, and MSNBC contributor.  And Jill Wine-Banks, the former assistant Watergate special prosecutor and MSNBC legal contributor. 

And, Jill, there`s a big if here, but if Lindsey Graham is telling the truth, which I think is the biggest if I`ve used in a long time, that`s a very good report of his conversation with Matthew Whitaker today. 

JILL WINE-BANKS, FORMER ASSISTANT WATERGATE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR:  It would be very encouraging to anyone who cares about justice but very discouraging to Donald Trump and could certainly explain his foul mood today if he thinks he`s not being protected by the man he put in to protect him.  Then he would be very upset.  And I would be very upset if I were him, too, if I had done something that was illegal and it didn`t pay off. 

So he has every reason to now feel like he should be issuing all the phony tweets that he issued, all the lies that he told today. 

O`DONNELL:  Lisa Graves, you know Lindsey Graham, you worked with him on the Senate Judiciary Committee.  What`s your reaction to what we heard from him today after that meeting with Matthew Whitaker? 

LISA GRAVES, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITEE FORMER STAFFER:  Well, it`s surprising especially what we know about Mr. Whitaker has said in the past and what we know from Trump`s own tweets about why he wanted to put someone new in at the Justice Department.  I`m not sure if Lindsey Graham is telling the truth here.  I`m going to hope that he is, and I would hope that Whitaker would know that lying to him to his face would be at his peril. 

But I think it`s hard to tell given what we know about Trump`s intent, which Trump made clear in terms of his efforts to try to obstruct and end this investigation that surrounds him. 

O`DONNELL:  Matt Miller, if there was some interference going on already with the special prosecutor`s investigation, would you expect to hear something?  Would there be some kind of leaked reaction to that?  Some kind of public resignation?  Rod Rosenstein -- some signal from rod Rosenstein?

  What do you think would be the first indicator that something -- that Matthew Whitaker`s interfering? 

MATT MILLER, FORMER SPOKESMAN FOR A.G. ERIC HOLDER:  I think it would depend on the level of interference.  If, say, Matthew Whitaker was willing to do something that was a complete inappropriate interference.  Let`s say there were indictments that have returned under seal and he, you know, ordered the special counsel to dismiss those indictments, with no cause at all, I think you would see resignations over that. 

If it`s more subtle, I think there would be those types of mass protests, maybe there`s even leaks.  I think you`ll see already is even without Matt Whitaker taking direct steps, I think you`ll see the president respond to the fact he`s more confident he has someone who will block Mueller from taking aggressive steps right away in his answers to these questions. 

I think the president -- think you`re right, Lawrence, what you said in your intro.  I think the act of having to sit down and answer those questions is likely to get under the president`s skin.  But I bet what we`re going to find is he actually isn`t in any real jeopardy because he now knows that he has an attorney general who`s very unlikely to approve a subpoena.

And so, he now looks at these questions differently, he and his legal team.  They know they can blow questions off.  They don`t have to answer some of them, because the leverage the special counsel had to enforce compliance has now been taken away. 

O`DONNELL:  Jill, Matthew Whitaker is surrounded all day every day by experienced FBI agents, experienced federal prosecutors at the highest levels of the Justice Department, all of whom have reason to treat him like a potential criminal suspect on an obstruction of justice case, based on his own public comments before he ever was installed in this position.  I would assume that they were all at the end of the conversation with him going back to their desks and writing James Comey style notes of everything he has ever said to them. 

I can`t imagine that he is sitting in there not knowing that and that wouldn`t be extremely inhibiting for him no matter what he thought he might be willing to do before he sat in that office. 

WINE-BANKS:  I think you are right on target.  And he is someone who really needs to recuse himself.  We haven`t heard yet what the ethics advice he`s getting is.  But he is not only conflicted because of his prejudgment of the evidence and not only because he said that the investigation is a hoax and a witch hunt, but because he himself may be a witness. 

Aside from his relationship to Sam Clovis, he`s been meeting with people in the West Wing.  He`s been possibly meeting with the president.  He`s been possibly meeting with White House counsel.  He possibly has been giving information to the White House that he has gathered as the assistant, as the chief of staff to the attorney general.  And that makes him a witness as well as a potential target for obstruction himself. 

So he is really conflicted.  And he`s also conflicted because he is the subject possibly of an investigation about the company he`s been on the board of that`s been accused of scamming people out of a lot of money.  So, there`s no reason why he shouldn`t feel that every word he speaks is being monitored and recorded.  And that should inhibit him. 

But people forget about that.  I mean in the same way that Nixon forgot he was taping himself and that he should be careful what he was saying in the oval office, he went right ahead and said things like go ahead and pay a million dollars, I know where we could get it.  So, you do think people forget these things and they just go ahead and say what they want. 

O`DONNELL:  Criminals surprise you. 

Senator Jeff Flake has now blocked possible judicial confirmations in the Senate judiciary committee because Mitch McConnell is not giving him a vote on the so-called Protect Mueller bill that has bipartisan support and was passed by the Judiciary Committee.  It`s ready on the floor to be voted on. 

Let`s listen to what Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said about that today. 


REPORTER:  What do you make of Senator Flake saying he`s going to vote against judicial nominees until he gets a vote on the Mueller protection bill? 

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA), CHAIRMAN, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE:  Since that bill came out of committee, I think it`s legitimate that the bill be brought up.  I don`t think it`s going to do any good or any harm, and if it satisfies me, if it became law because I voted for it. 


O`DONNELL:  Lisa Graves, it sounds like Chuck Grassley would just as soon get the Jeff Flake problem solved by having a vote in the Senate on this protect Mueller bill. 

GRAVES:  That`s right.  That`s interesting given how much protection Grassley gave to Trump over the Kavanaugh nomination.  Here you him singing a different tune and saying that bill should get a vote. 

I really hope that Jeff Flake exercises his power to deny consent to those judges until there`s a vote on this measure.  This is a really important measure in defense of the rule of law, and I`m glad to see that there are some Republicans as well as Democrats standing together to say this thing needs a vote and it needs to be enforced in order to protect the integrity of this investigation, because really what`s at stake here is whether the president is above the law, basically going to be allowed to act like a king or we`re going to enforce the rule of law.  And the Senate holds in its power the power to affect that, as long as Mitch McConnell gets out of the way.

O`DONNELL:  And, Matt Miller, Lindsey Graham also said today, he`d be perfectly ready to vote for the bill on the Senate floor because he voted for it in committee.  But Grassley said a very interesting thing in the middle of that quote where he said I don`t think it`ll do any good or any harm.  And one reason why it might not do any good is the bill still allows for the firing of Robert Mueller.  It just establishes an appeals process where Robert Mueller could appeal that action. 

MILLER:  Yes, that`s exactly right.  And another reason this is kind of an easy thing for Chuck Grassley to say even if the Senate were to take this bill and pass it, there`s no way the House is going to take this bill if it`s under Republican control which it is for the next month and a half.  And, of course, there`s no way the president would sign it.

But I will say, there is some utility to this effort, even if -- you know, bringing up the bill, pushing it through, even if it doesn`t make it into law, there`s utility in this effort in the same way there is utility in Jerry Nadler, the incoming chairman in the House, the Judiciary Committee, telling Matt Whitaker he`s looking over his shoulder and he`s going subpoena and investigate the way he was appointed and whether he interferes with the Mueller investigation.  All of these things are inhibiting in the same way the culture at DOJ of compliance with the rule of law and compliance with norms and Whitaker knowing that people are watching him, knowing that people on hill are watching has that same affect. 

There`s no perfect solution here.  The perfect solution is, the president shouldn`t be appointing attorney general who`s a sole qualification for the job is a publicly stated hostility to investigation into a president.  You don`t have a way to remove him from that job, so we have all this -- you know, the attack on the constitutionality, calls for recusal, this protect Mueller bill. 

We`re looking at trying to, you know, kind of cobble together different solutions when in reality the kind of entire political system is failing us to some extent when the president feels he has the leeway to make such an - - kind of out of bounds appointment in the first place. 

O`DONNELL:  And once again when asked a question today about the Whitaker situation, Donald Trump has Robert Mueller on the brain.  He was asked about his thinking about the attorney general position, meaning have you thought of who you actually want to nominate to be the next attorney general given that Matthew Whitaker is just the so-called acting attorney general. 

"The Daily Caller" in a softball interview, they said, could you tell us where your thinking is currently on the attorney general position, and Donald Trump immediately says, Whitaker is just somebody that`s very respected.  I knew him only as he pertained, you know, as he was with Jeff Sessions.  And, you know, look, as far as I`m concerned, this is an investigation that should have never been brought.  It should have never been had.  It`s something that should have never been brought.  It`s an illegal investigation. 

And, Jill Wine-Banks, no one asked him about the investigation.  But as soon as you mention attorney general, as soon as you mention his thinking about attorney general, he`s thinking about the Mueller investigation and saying it`s an illegal investigation that never should have been brought. 

WINE-BANKS:  Exactly.  Well, first of all, me thinks thou doth protest too much, Donald Trump, and that it`s time to stop blaming everyone else and protesting this.  I`m tired as I`m sure you are of hearing it`s a witch hunt, it`s a hoax and all of the other things that he`s saying, the no collusion, these are things simply not true.  We know how many indictments have been brought, we know what`s going on, and it`s time for him to stop blaming Hillary.

  I don`t want to hear him say her name again. 

O`DONNELL:  I`m sorry, Jill.  You`re going to hear him say her name again.  I`m sorry. 

WINE-BANKS:  I guess so, but I don`t like it. 


Jill Wine-Banks, Lisa Graves, Matt Miller, thank you for starting us off tonight. 

And when we come back we`ll have more of the president`s lies about the Mueller investigation.  And the Democratic House of Representatives is going to have to decide which House committee will investigate Donald Trump`s relations with Saudi Arabia, especially after the Saudi Arabian government executed Khashoggi in Saudi consulate in Turkey.  NBC News has new reporting on the president`s attempts to help Saudi Arabia. 

And Zack Wahls will join us.  Long time viewers of this program will remember Zack in his first appearance here in 2011 when he was 19 and he was speaking out for his two mothers` right to marry each other in the state of Iowa. 

Tonight, Iowa State Senator-elect Zack Wahls will join us.


O`DONNELL:  When the Democrats take control of the House of Representatives, they will have to decide which committee will investigate President Trump`s dealings with Saudi Arabia especially in the aftermath of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi by the Saudi government inside the Saudi consulate in Turkey.  The Trump administration announced sanctions today against 17 Saudis for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, including a close aide to the Saudi crown prince who has said that he never acts without the crown prince`s direct approval, but the sanctions did not include the Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. 

The announcement came as Saudi Arabia said it will seek the death penalty against five Saudis indictment for the murder.  Turkey`s President Erdogan has continued to imply that he has evidence linking the Saudi crown prince to the murder.

NBC News in important reporting today found that the Trump administration developed a plan to help the Saudi crown prince by doing a very big and very illegal favor for Turkey`s president. 

The White House reportedly asked the Justice Department to figure out how to legally expel from the United States, Fetullah Gulen, an opponent of the Turkish president and send him back to Turkey.  Mr. Gulen has a legally obtained green card, the same permanent resident status that Melania Trump had in the United States before she became a citizen.  He has lived legally in Pennsylvania for 20 years. 

The Trump White House has been trying to find a way to help send him back to Turkey where he would surely be imprisoned and possibly put to death after some kind of show trial.  The White House wanted to send Mr. Gulen to Turkey even though the Justice Department found he had broken no laws in Turkey, no Turkish laws.  The White House had been trying to find a way to face charges of helping to organize a coup against President Erdogan. 

According to NBC News, quote: Trump administration officials then asked for other options to legally remove him.  A senior U.S. official involved in the process described the reaction among career officials at the Justice Department saying, quote, at first there were eye rolls, but once they realized it was a serious request, the career guys were furious. 

Joining us now is former Ambassador Robert Jordan, former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 2001 to 2003 in the Bush administration.  He is the author of "Desert Diplomat."

Ambassador Jordan, your reaction to NBC News reporting on what the Trump White House seemed to be trying to do with the Justice Department. 

ROBERT JORDAN, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO SAUDI ARABIA:  Lawrence, this is horrendous story.  It`s almost mind-boggling that this administration would try to extradite or send back to Turkey someone who`s been living here for 20 years peacefully in the small town of Pennsylvania, and against whom there is no credible evidence that he`s committed any crime, particularly a crime that would be considered a crime within the United States, which is part of our extradition law and judicial interpretations. 

I think it`s really important for us to take note of this.  This guy should not be become a bargaining chip in some game, some monopoly game that this administration is playing with the Saudis or with Turkey. 

O`DONNELL:  And Michael Flynn was very interested in trying to accomplish the same thing for Turkey since he`s cooperating with the special prosecutor, he may have told Robert Mueller after pleading guilty, to Robert Mueller, he may have given him more information about what exactly the whole history is of this. 

Chuck Schumer said this tonight: I hope this story isn`t true.  It was a bad idea when General Flynn proposed it and it`s still a bad idea.  U.S. residents should not be used as pawns to appease foreign leaders who flout the rule of law.  Donald Trump should confirm that this will not happen.

Ambassador Jordan, I think we can be sure that Donald Trump will not be confirming that or probably just stay completely out of this story.  Talk about the tensions that exist or you experienced as ambassador to Saudi Arabia, the Saudi versus Turkey tensions that you see at play in this story. 

JORDAN:  Well, let`s remember that Turkey is not really an ally of the United States, even though they`re a member of NATO.  They have frustrated us at many turns including when we were planning to invade Iraq in 2003.  They refused to allow the fourth infantry division to come through Turkey into northern Iraq. 

They are proposing to purchase the Russian S-400 missile defense system which is designed to shoot down our F-35s.  At the same time, they`re trying to buy F-35s from us. 

So let`s remember they are not our ally and there`s no U.S. national interest at stake here, unless there`s an ulterior motive.  And that ulterior motive may be to curry favor with the Saudis in the Khashoggi affair.  And if so, that`s really a nefarious ulterior motive that I think needs to be condemned. 

We have got to find a way to deal with the Saudis.  I found this after 9/11, it`s very difficult to deal with a regime that gives no credence at all to rights, women`s right, religious freedom.  At the same time, you have to find a way to cobble together some kind of working relationship, even though your values were quite different. 

But this really goes beyond the pale when you have essentially a rogue regime now or at least rogue actors within Saudi Arabia which could include the crown prince, somehow manipulating this administration into somehow making this Gulen figure a trading chip in some really black, awful kind of a devil`s bargain here. 

O`DONNELL:  Ambassador, it sounds like in order to help the Saudis after their murder assassination of a dissident, they want to help Turkey possibly do exactly the same thing through a more formal legal process and kill one of their dissidents.  That seems to be the trade that the Trump administration has been trying to broker.

JORDAN:  It would certainly be a great risk of his life and certainly his freedom if he were sent back to Turkey.  And again, where`s the evidence that suggests that he should be sent there?  There is really nothing that we know of.  Two years ago, the administration looked at this.  They decided not to extradite him.

Anything else that they tried to cobble together to figure out a lame excuse to remove him, I think would be a green light to dictators and authoritarians all over the world.  If you`ve got someone within the United States that you want back, just make a deal with Donald Trump.  That is not what America stands for.

O`DONNELL:  Ambassador Robert Jordan, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

JORDAN:  Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL:  When we come back, the first draft of the history of the Trump presidency that will -- that every future historian of the Trump era will depend on.  That`s next.


O`DONNELL:  Daniel Dale is writing a first draft of history.  He is the Washington reporter who is keeping an invaluable record of Donald Trump`s lying.  All future historians of the Trump presidency will be reading Daniel Dale`s work.  Daniel Dale`s meticulous record of Trump lies shows us that during the campaign season, Donald Trump did the impossible or at least what many of us would have thought was impossible.  Donald Trump actually increased his lying.

Daniel Dale of the "Toronto Star" who has tirelessly fact checked every single Trump lie reports that in the month leading up to the midterm elections Donald Trump made 815 false claims.  That`s the same amount of lying told in his first 286 days in the presidency.  Daniel Dale reports that "Trump made 664 false claims in October."  That was double his previous record for a calendar month, 320 in August.

Trump averaged 26.3 false claims per day in the month leading up to the midterm election on November 6th.  In 2017, he averaged 2.9 per day Donald Trump made more false claims in the two months leading up to the midterms, 1,176 than he did in all of the previous year, all of 2017, 1,111.  The three most dishonest single days of the Donald Trump Presidency were the three days leading up to the election, 74 on election eve, Nov 5, 58 on November 3, and 54 on November 4.

But the lying didn`t work.  The Democrats won back the House of Representatives which means that Special Counsel Robert Muller has at least the House of Representatives supporting his investigation.  And so, of course, today Donald Trump resumed his relentless lying on Twitter about the Mueller investigation.

Joining our discussion now is, first draft of history, Historian Daniel Dale, Washington Bureau Chief at the "Toronto Star" and Matt Miller is back with us.

Daniel Dale, I know you`re not usually introduced as a historian but that`s the way I`m looking at your work.


O`DONNELL:  I know it is going to be just an invaluable asset.  I know what it`s going to feel like 50 years from now for historians to be able to go through every one of these numbers.  What do the numbers tell us?  A lot of us read the words of the tweet.  And I take all sorts of interpretations about the state of the president`s mind and the collapse of the president`s mind and what he`s trying to accomplish with a tweet when I look at the words of the tweet. But you`re looking at something else.  You`re looking at the size of the whole lying system.  What do the numbers tell us?

DALE:  I took a few things from this period.  One, I think the sheer frequency tells us that the president and his team knew that he could not win this election campaigning honestly.  It turns out he couldn`t win it even campaigning dishonestly but he knew that he couldn`t do it telling the truth.  What also struck me about this period was that Trump`s lying is often him going off script.  It`s him adlibbing, deviating from his prepared text.

In this case, many of the big laws were written into his rallies speeches.  These were deliberate.  And so this was a strategic decision to lie as a campaign strategy.  I think it was also interesting what he was lying about.  Of these 815 in the 31 days leading up to the midterms, 201 of them had to do with immigration.

And so these weren`t his usual stretches or exaggerations or, you know, trivial little claims about crowd sizes.  These were massive, massive fabrications.  You know this was him saying Democrats are going to abolish the borders.  Democrats are going to let illegal immigrants vote in this election.  And Democrats are going to give illegal immigrants free cars.  So he was simply making big stuff up to scare his base and it turned out it didn`t work.

O`DONNELL:  Yes.  You mentioned that this -- a lot of this was written into the text.  I noticed that at several points where I saw that oh, he`s, you know, he`s reading the teleprompter right now and the lies are in the teleprompter and that wasn`t as common in the past as it is now.  Matt Miller, what does it tell you in terms of where we`re going and especially with this new concentration on the lies are now focusing -- now that the election`s over, they`re focusing on Robert Mueller.

MILLER:  You know I think there have been two central elements of the president`s political strategy since day one.  One has been the constant attacks on the dehumanization of minority groups and immigrants.  And the second has been the kind of fundamental attempt to delegitimize any independent arbiter of the truth.  So you see that with his attacks on the media and you see that with his attacks on the Justice Department, the special prosecutor.

I think he tries to do that because, you know, he has to convince you -- in the case of the Mueller investigation, he knows that actions people have taken who are close to him are illegal.  He knows potentially his own actions to obstruct justice are illegal.  And he knows what the end game looks like.

He knows that Mueller at the end is going to produce, you know, most likely indictments of people very close to him.  And I would suspect the report that concludes he obstructed justice.  And so he has to try to delegitimize the special counsel from day one in anticipation of that report.  And I think he has some, you know, impact to the Republicans.

But I will tell you, I saw private polling as recently as today showing that while, you know, his attacks do some work, vast majorities of the American people want the special counsel to be able to finish his investigation.  They`re deeply suspicious of Trump`s attacks on the Justice Department, including his appointment of Matthew Whitaker.  And they want to see a public report at the end of it.  So I do think there are limits to the effectiveness of this strategy of his.

O`DONNELL:  I just want to give the audience a sense of what you can discover by following Daniel Dale`s work.  Here is one of Daniel`s tweets today and it says, "One more stat here.  Here are the top four topics of Trump`s false claims during his wildly dishonest month leading up to the midterms.  More or less what I`d have guessed."  These are the topics, Democrats, 214.  Immigration, 201.  Economy, 127.  Health care, 113.

And Daniel, there are so many fascinating elements of this including 127 lies about the economy, when the economy is doing very well when the truth is actually a good story to tell.

DALE:  Yes.  And I think that speaks the fact that Republicans realized that this election was not the economy stupid election.  You know this initially was supposedly going to be the election of the Trump tax cuts.  That`s what was going to carry Republicans to victory.  Then, it was going to be about maintaining strong economic growth.

And I think what Trump and certainly his team realized was that opinions of the president`s own conduct behavior and actions superseded, you know, any economic growth benefit that people were seeing.  And so Trump couldn`t simply say, you know, look at this economy, let`s keep it going.  He had to exaggerate.  He had to embellish.  He had to lie about that too.

O`DONNELL:  It does seem that the tweets, especially the attack tweets and the Robert Mueller tweets today are indicative of what`s on the president`s mind and what he thinks his job is today.  His job is to somehow undermine Mueller.  "Washington Post" has some reporting today about where that stands in terms of answering the written questions for Robert Mueller and the "Russian Post" reports there are at least two dozen questions all of which relate to activities and episodes from before Trump`s election.

According to Rudy Giuliani and others briefed on the questions, "There are some that create more issues for us legally than others," Giuliani said.  He said, "Some were necessary, some were possible traps, and we might consider some as irrelevant."  Matthew Miller, your reaction to Giuliani`s view of the questions.

MILLER:   It`s quite interesting as always with him that he admits that they have legal problems.  I mean most attorneys would come out and say, "Look, we`re happy to cooperate and answer all of the questions.  We think our client did nothing wrong."  Instead, he tells you that, "Oh, there`s some of these questions that present legal problems for us."  That is, I think, an unusual legal and public relations strategy.

I do think however though that in the end, you know, they`re going to look at this question-and-answer exercise and they`re going to do kind of pick and choose.  Some, they`re going to answer.  Some, they`re going to choose not to answer because they probably believe a subpoena isn`t coming and so they`re going to largely, I think, blow this thing off.

O`DONNELL:  Daniel Dale, thank you for the work you do.  Someone had to do it and it turned out to be you.

DALE:  Thank you.

O`DONNELL:  Thank you very much for joining us tonight.  And Matt Miller, thank you as always for joining us.  Really appreciate it.

And when we come back, Zach Wahls will be back after an electrifying statement that he made to the Iowa legislature when he was a teenager in support of his two mothers` right to marry each other in Iowa.  He is now Iowa`s State Senator-elect Zach Wahls.  He was one of the hundreds of Democratic winners of state legislature seats around the country.  State Senator-elect Zach Wahls will join us.


O`DONNELL:  Time for tonight`s winner.  On election night, we didn`t have time to hear from all of the big winners.  Some of the biggest winners for the Democrats happened at the state level where Democrats flipped more than 300 state legislative seats.  One of election day`s winners was Zach Wahls who won a seat in the Iowa Senate`s 37th district after defeating his libertarian opponent by 57 points.  Yes, 57 points.  Zach Wahls was 19- years-old in 2011 when he made his first appearance here on THE LAST WORD after a video went viral in which he argued in favor of his parents` right to marry.


ZACH WAHLS, IOWA STATE-SENATE ELECT:  You are telling Iowans that some among you are second-class citizens who do not have the right to marry the person you love.  So will this vote affect my family?  Would it affect yours?  In my 19 years, not once have I ever been confronted by an individual who realized independently, that was raised by a gay couple.  And you know why?  Because the sexual orientation of my parents has had zero effect on the content of my character.  Thank you very much.


O`DONNELL:  After a quick break, tonight`s winner Iowa State Senator-elect Zach Wahls will join us.



WAHLS:  I`m running for this seat because I will never forget how it feels to be excluded and how hard we had to work to get a seat at the table.  I`m running for this seat to fight for your family the same way that I fought for mine.


O`DONNELL:  Joining us now, tonight`s winner, Iowa State Senator-elect Zach Wahls.

Zach, congratulations and welcome back to the show.  And when did you decide to run?

WAHLS:  A pretty incredible story.  I think like a lot of people after the 2016 election, I found myself wondering what can I do to try and turn our country around.  Last year, I got a phone call from a mentor and my former U.S. history teacher who told me that there was going to be a state Senate seat opening up where I live and that he was thinking about running but he was leaning towards not running and that he thought that I should take a look at running.

And when I had the opportunity to run, I knew that I had a responsibility to try and do my part in like so many young people, I know you mentioned a moment ago, hundreds of seats across the country have flipped in state legislatures and over 150 young people have been a part of that.  I just knew that I had to do something.  I had to do my part.

O`DONNELL:  All right.  Let`s listen to Zach Wahls 2011 right here on this show.  Let`s listen to this.


O`DONNELL:  You`re 19.  You`re two years away, two years away from being legally eligible to run for the House of Representatives in Iowa.  Any thoughts of doing that?

WAHLS:  No, Lawrence.  I`m an engineering student at the University of Iowa.  I`m planning on going into engineering.  You know, that` s not, of course, to say that there are some public policy things I`d like to see accomplished but personally, no.  No plans yet.


O`DONNELL:  Typical politician, I have no interest in running.  Typical politician there, sitting with your mothers.  And so what happened?

WAHLS:  Well, you know, I think if I recall correctly, we spoke I think on a Thursday or Friday night.  Literally, you know, dozens of hours after I`ve given the speech.  I had the opportunity over the next several years.  Some of your viewers may remember, I actually appeared on this show talking about my campaign to end discrimination in the Boy Scouts of America as co- founder and executive director of Scouts for Equality.

And along the way, I started to really get an understanding of the impact that I could add as a potential -- as an advocate and as somebody who would be able to, I think, make a difference in politics.  And so the 2016 election was definitely, I think like it was for a lot of people a flash point where I started to think about it much more seriously.

At that point, I was studying public policy in graduate school and I knew that I wanted to work around politics or in policy in some capacity.  But it wasn`t until I had the opportunity to run for my own state Senate seat back home.  And I saw what was happening right here in Iowa where, in fact, Iowa had the largest swing from re-electing President Obama in 2012 to supporting President Trump in 2016.  That was a 16-point swing from 12 to 16.

And I knew the Republican agenda that was being enacted wasn`t in step with the values that represented our state.  And so when I got that phone call from my former high school history teacher, I knew that I had to say Yes.

O`DONNELL:  Zach Wahls make me feel old.  The kids are growing up too fast.  This is --

WAHLS:  Hey, we`re trying to save the world, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL:  This is a lot for me to process, Zach.  Zach Wahls, congratulations, state Senator-elect Zach Wahls.  And thank you very much for joining us tonight.  Really appreciate it.

WAHLS:  Thanks, Lawrence.

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


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


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The former first lady also referencing the current one and how when they met after the 2016 election, Obama told Melania Trump she`s just a phone call away.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Has she reached out to you and asked for help?



O`DONNELL:  Michelle Obama gets tonight`s last word and that word is "No".





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