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Chief Justice Roberts Rebukes Trump. TRANSCRIPT: 11/21/18, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell

Guests: Michael Moore

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST:  This is kind of weird this is the only place we meet these days, but it`s terrific to see you.  Have an excellent thanksgiving.  I`m thankful for the privilege of working with you and for being your friend. 

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST, "A.M. JOY":  I will take any opportunity to see you.  Thank you, my friend.  Have a wonderful show and a happy Thanksgiving. 

VELSHI:  All right, Joy.  Thank you.

I`m Ali Velshi, in for Lawrence O`Donnell.

The blue wave is getting bigger and President Trump is facing more resistance than he has ever faced before.  Today, even the chief justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, pushed back against the president, after Trump tried to blame, quote, an Obama judge for his administration`s latest court loss. 

We`re going to have more on Chief Justice Robert`s defense of the federal courts against the president, and the unprecedented war of words that followed later in the hour. 

But there`s resistance outside the courtroom that might have even more long lasting consequences for President Trump.  Michael Moore joins me in just a moment with a fresh perspective of what comes after America`s historic rebuke of President Trump in the midterms, and yes, it was historic. 

"The Cook Political Report`s" David Wassermann now says that the Democrat`s margin in raw House votes breaks the record for the biggest win by either party in the history of midterm elections.  The vote total from Cook shows Democrats won 8.9 million more House votes than Republicans did, with 59.3 million votes, to Republicans 54.4 million votes. 

That Democratic lead in raw votes is even bigger than the previous record in the 1974 midterms that happened just a few months after President Richard Nixon resigned in disgrace following Watergate.  Let that sink in for a moment. 

Voters chose Democrats by more votes under President Trump than they chose Democrats after Watergate.  That`s not just embarrassing, it`s hard to imagine a more worrying statistic for President Trump as he faces his own re-election prospect in 2020, except maybe this: Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg has a new piece in "The New York Times" where he concludes that Trump is beginning to lose his grip with the voters who elected him. 

Greenberg says it wasn`t just the reliable Democratic coalition that drove the blue wave in these last midterms.  Quote, the 2018 election was much bigger than that.  It was transformative, knocking down what we assumed were Electoral College certainties.  Democrats got their wave in part because a significant portion of male and female white working class voters abandoned Mr. Trump and his Republican allies. 

Democrats made their biggest gains in the rural parts of the country.  That was the shocker.  The Democratic wave exposed Mr. Trump`s vulnerability and suggests a less polarized country.  I thought it would take Mr. Trump`s defeat in 2020 for America to be liberated from this suffocating polarization, but it may have already begun, end quote.  And the losses might get bigger for Donald Trump. 

Next Tuesday in Mississippi which hasn`t had a Democratic senator since 1982, a Senate runoff that should have been an easy Republican win is now looking uncertain.  Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith has made gaffe after gaffe, starting with saying she`d like to attend a public hanging, which some people in Mississippi are old enough to remember as a lynching.  That`s giving Democrat Mike Espy a chance.  He is still a long shot.

But Republicans are worried enough the president will travel to Mississippi next week to campaign for Cindy Hyde-Smith.  But even if the president holds onto Mississippi for Republicans, is there any doubt that as Stan Greenberg writes, President Trump is beginning to lose his grip? 

Joining me now, Academy Award winning documentary filmmaker Michael Moore. 

Michael, welcome.  Thank you for being here. 

MICHAEL MOORE, DOCUMENTARY FILMMAKER:  You can say that last sentence again, he`s losing his grip. 

VELSHI:  But it is kind of interesting, right?  What Greenberg is writing is that some of Donald Trump`s very faithful base as we like to call it in rural America is turning on him.  Why do you even think that is? 

MOORE:  Well, look what happened in Michigan, the three states that gave Trump the presidency, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania all went blue two weeks ago.  Democratic governors, Democratic senators in Michigan. 

We have a majority now in Michigan Senate.  Four women at the top run the state.  Two women, Democrats turned over two Republican seats in the Detroit area. 

So all of this is not surprising what you just said or what Stan Greenberg wrote in "The Times."  What I -- if I`m anything tonight it`s I`m of a belief that we can take what we learned in a place like Michigan. 

VELSHI:  Right. 

MOORE:  And really, really crush it in 2020.  But it will take some work, and it`ll take the Democrats who got elected two weeks ago to really show the voters that they are going to do something, that they`re going to stand for something. 

So, their performance in these two years is very important.  It`s going to take a recruiting team to get beloved Americans running for office in 2020. 

VELSHI:  But we saw some of that. 

(CROSSTALK)

VELSHI:  We`ve seen a Congress now that looks more like the face of America than we`ve seen in a long time. 

MOORE:  More of that, and I think it was in "The Times" where they showed that those who ran out of the center and towards the left had a better chance of winning two weeks ago than those who thought I better play this more conservatively as a Democrat.  Those people lost. 

The people who ran more liberally won, and we need to again build on that.  Here`s the lesson I learned in Michigan is that ballot proposals are the answer.  George W. Bush and Republicans knew this in 2004.  They put 14 ballot measures in 14 states to outlaw gay marriage, to make it illegal. 

VELSHI:  That motivated people -- 

MOORE:  To the polls.

VELSHI:  Who otherwise may not have gone. 

MOORE:  And so, Bush won his first popular vote in 2004, reelected, because they have all those people coming out.  This is what we did in Michigan two weeks ago.  We had a ballot proposal to legalize marijuana. 

Largest turnout of young people in we don`t know when came out to the polls.  We had a ballot proposal to outlaw gerrymandering, make that part of the Constitution and form a citizens bipartisan, nonpartisan commission, no politicians to be on the commission, that will draw the map. 

VELSHI:  So, let me just draw the distinction -- 

MOORE:  And that brought out a whole another -- 

VELSHI:  With legalizing marijuana, that was going to happen if the vote went through.  With the gerrymandering, it wasn`t going to change any of the districts in Michigan obviously in that election, but it brought people out who are sick and tired of these stupid shaped constituencies all across America.  It`s a laughingstock of the democratic world we`ve got these constituencies, these districts long and skinny and take turns and look like a salamander hence the name gerrymandering. 

MOORE:  Correct.  So by taking a stand and putting that on the ballot, African-American vote -- so many came out that didn`t vote in 2016, and they came out.  This is the way you bring people out that don`t vote that much or don`t like the politicians or the Democratic Party has not been responsive to them.  They can vote on a particular issue. 

So, we need on the ballot on 2020 have ballot proposals especially in the swing states for legalizing marijuana, for free college, for equal rights for women, and to outlaw gerrymandering.  People right now they should talk about this tomorrow at dinner. 

And by the way, at dinner tomorrow you know, your conservative brother-in- law, this year, don`t make him sit at the kids table.  Let him sit at the main table.  We should be generous in victory, be kind to him and let him know that the things that we`re going to push for he`s going to benefit --

VELSHI:  So complain that.  Tell me why my conservative brother-in-law should think that figuring out a way to fix gerrymandered districts is good for him? 

MOORE:  Well, I tell you -- this is why Utah passed an anti-gerrymandering thing.  They know we`re coming.  They know the Democrats.  We`re the majority of the country.  We already know that from the popular vote two years ago.  We know it from the popular vote this month.

They know we`re coming, and we`re back in power and we`ve got the House and the Senate and the White House.  They don`t want those gerrymandering laws that they`ve been benefitting from, they want to fix that now.  So, you actually found that smart Republicans are voting for this because they`re going to be the negative beneficiary --

VELSHI:  They`ll be on the wrong side. 

MOORE:  They`ll be on the wrong side.  So basically it`s in their best interest for all of us to get rid of gerrymandering and any kind of voter suppression.  And that`s what we did in Michigan.

VELSHI:  The degree to which voter suppression is alive and well in America in Kansas, in Georgia, I mean, this is -- it`s kind of remarkable that it`s getting worse.  We should be trying to get people out to vote any way possible.  And fortunately, lots of people did come out and vote this time. 

But why we are putting impediments to people voting, the signature match law in Georgia is just stupid.  Cindy McCain said sometimes she signs Cindy McCain.  Sometimes she signs C. McCain. 

MOORE:  It`s anti-American, and to the troops who Trump does not respect, who he uses as a photo-up down on the border for the election, and never bothers to visit, never says a good word about them.  You know, they volunteer to risk their lives so that we get to have certain basic democratic rights.  The most Democratic basic right is the right to vote, is the right for you and I to have a say.  If that is denied to any American, all of us should be ashamed by this. 

It`s the absolutely worst thing to do.  It`s -- people have died in many of our families in past wars or whatever, and to dishonor their death so that we can have this, by trying to rig the system so that those who don`t have the most votes can end up with the most seats, it`s like --

VELSHI:  Which has happened a lot in this country.  The number of voters disenfranchised by these laws in Georgia as an example, we`re not talk about tens of thousands.  We`re actually talking about hundreds of thousands of people. 

MOORE:  Right, but what I say to Republicans is why -- how do you feel when you win a game and you know that you won it because it was rigged or the table shifted, or you only had to run the ball back 80 yards instead of 100 yards, how do you feel about that?  I mean, do you feel you`re the winner?  I wouldn`t feel good about it, you know? 

I -- when I was in junior high school I was playing basketball and I was rolling a far corner and I did a hook shot in the far corner where the two out of bounds lines meet and I saw my ball out of bounds and it made a swish in the basket, and I -- the ref didn`t see it.  And I said to the ref, I said it was out of bounds.  And the coach was like what are you doing? 

I was like it wasn`t a fair basket.  How would I feel if we won and it was because of that basket which I know wasn`t right because I stepped out of bounds. 

VELSHI:  I`m not sure everybody in the country is burdened with that morality. 

MOORE:  Aren`t we raised to know what`s right and wrong?  It`s so basic.  It`s not Democratic or Republican, is it?  Isn`t it basic?

VELSHI:  You and I were raised on two sides of another border.  You`re from Michigan.  I`m from Toronto, cold places.  We`re used to cold.

Tonight, President Trump tweeted about the cold.  He said brutal and extended cold blast could shatter all records.  What ever happened to global warming? 

Michael, what does this get people who deny climate change other than if you have stock in a coal company or an oil company, what does it get you to be on the wrong side of this thing? 

MOORE:  Look, we have a billionaire for president, and he`s for anything that benefits the wealthy.  That`s his job.  That`s what he`s supposed to advocate for. 

But to your conservative brother-in-law who`s sitting at the table tomorrow on Thanksgiving, say to him, look, climate change.  When we`re in office, we`re going to fix that.  We`re going to really do our best.  It may be too late, but we`re going to do our best to fix this, and you`re going to benefit from it.  We`re not just doing it for our people, for the Democrats. 

VELSHI:  That`s my point. 

(CROSSTALK)

MOORE:  Your house doesn`t go down in mudslide.  You`re not under water.  You`re going to benefit from this, too. 

You should come along with this because it benefits you.  I think that`s the way you have to -- with Trump, look, you guys -- you show these tweets all day long on this network, on the other network.  It`s just nonstop. 

And it was I guess funny to some people at first, and then it went to shaking our heads like can you believe this.  And now it`s like, wow, I think everybody`s realized with him essentially sanctioning the murder of "The Washington Post" journalist, saying that, saying that about the troops this week, saying that about Admiral McRaven, all of this I think is starting to dawn on people.  And so that report that you read from "The New York Times", they`re not surprised. 

The people out there who live in rural America they don`t like hearing that.  They thought he`d be like a Molotov they can throw in a system that haven`t benefitted them. 

VELSHI:  And one can understand why they wanted that.  You know that.  You come from rural America. 

MOORE:  Well, that`s what I said before the election, this is going to happen because people are angry.  Well, you know, he`s helped to blow up pieces of our democracy, and it hasn`t benefitted anybody.  And nobody`s made any money off his tax cut.  And he can point to the stock market all he wants but that doesn`t affect that person -- 

VELSHI:  More than half of Americans don`t --  

MOORE:  Think about this: people in Kansas said to themselves what can I do now to send a message?  I know, I`m going to send a congresswoman who is lesbian, Native-American, mixed martial arts fighter from Kansas. 

VELSHI:  And that happened in a lot of places in America. 

MOORE:  Oklahoma City sent a Democrat.  Utah today, that was called.

VELSHI:  A gay governor in Colorado, a bisexual senator, a Muslim refugee. 

MOORE:  The country has change.  And this is why I say the leadership of the Democratic Party.  Come along with the change here.  Don`t hold back. 

Don`t think anymore, well, we can have half health care.  No, we need full, full universal health care for everyone. 

VELSHI:  Like every developed country in the world. 

MOORE:  Just look at what Canada does.  Canada has stolen enough from this country, you take everything we do, you go to Canada, we see you doing everything we do, it`s time we take something from you, universal health care. 

Oh, and the other thing, too, hunting is the number one sport in Canada more so than hockey. 

VELSHI:  That`s correct.

MOORE:  There`s 7 million registered guns in the nation of Canada, which only has 34, 35 million people.

VELSHI:  Right.

MOORE:  All right?  How many gun murders last year, 100, 200, nothing, nothing.  So clearly you figured out how to deal with this issue. 

We need to show some humility and say, you know, we`re so confident about our goodness here at this Thanksgiving, that we need to reach out to others and say how had you do this?  How do you do that without mass shootings in Canada?  How do you pay for it?  Everybody gets to see a doctor and that ends with you Canadians living, not you, you`re an American now, but hand your Canadian passport -- 

VELSHI:  I got it, I got it.

MOORE:  Plan B, Ali, just saying.  But you live three to four years longer than we do average. 

VELSHI:  Almost every outcome in health is better in any other OECD countries for less than half the cost for Americans. 

MOORE:  Half the cost, why wouldn`t -- if you`re conservative, why wouldn`t you be for that? 

VELSHI:  So, let me ask you a question, a third of the country, angry, intolerant, hard to reconcile.  But what do the rest of us have to do?  How much intolerance do we tolerate in order to build bridges of empathy, to talk to people who are legitimately angry? 

Maybe not for the reasons we believe but they really are angry.  They`ve not seen their wages go up and stock prices go up and the rich get richer, they`ve seen their incomes. 

You`ve studied this.  You`ve done films about this.

MOORE:  You can`t -- first of all, you can`t build a bridge to a racist or misogynist, you know, they have to be shunned and treated like we treated smokers 20 years ago, ten years ago.  I walked down the street with my sister and I said let`s see how long we can go before we see somebody smoking, not to people sitting outside the building thus far.  We walked 10, 20 minutes and not a smoker. 

Racist and misogynists shunned, but the conservatives, Republicans, whatever, who do dare about this country, who are not bigots, they`re just rightfully angry, we can reach out to them and say come on, it`s -- we can create -- give us a chance, we`ll create this good America, and it`ll look like a real America.  Congress now does look more like that in the Democratic side.

We`ll build a better country.  And when we have Thanksgiving together in years in the future -- you know, we can have our disagreements.  We can have a great debate.  But in the end, we all love this country, and we`re going to sink or swim together, I don`t think any of us want to sink. 

So we need to come together on this.  And my request to the conservatives who might be watching is give this a shot.  Give these Democrats who just got elected a shot, and we`ll get back in the White House in the Senate in 2020, and we will build a country where your house isn`t on fire or going to go into the ocean in a mudslide. 

VELSHI:  Michael, good to see you.  Thank you for being with us.

MOORE:  Happy Thanksgiving. 

VELSHI:  Happy Thanksgiving.

MOORE:  Canadian Thanksgiving is in October.  Just saying. 

VELSHI:  I`ve still got the passport, so if you need a hand. 

MOORE:  When you have a dual passport, do you get turkey twice? 

VELSHI:  You get turkey twice.  You get in October and then you got it in November.  Good to see, my friend.

MOORE:  Thank you, sir.

VELSHI:  All right.  Coming up, as conservative Chief Justice Roberts joined the resistance, Justice Roberts` response to Donald Trump is next. 

And Donald Trump is managing to bring people together this Thanksgiving, as both Democrats and Republicans are both condemning his shocking response to Saudi Arabia`s assassination of a journalist and a U.S. resident.  Today, he took it a step further by thanking the dictatorship and saying Americans should be thankful to them as well.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELSHI:  All right.  Today, President Trump received a rare public rebuke from an unlikely source, the chief justice of the Supreme Court.  John Roberts was responding to Trump`s attacks on a federal judge for temporarily blocking his asylum ban. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Well, you go to the ninth circuit and it`s a disgrace, and I`m going to put in a major complaint because you cannot win if you`re us, a case in the Ninth Circuit.  This was an Obama judge, and I`ll tell you what, it`s not going to happen like this anymore. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI:  All right, Chief Justice Roberts has remained silent as President Trump has insulted the judiciary time and time again.  But today, Roberts broke his silence and released this statement. 

Quote, we do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges.  What we have is an extraordinary group of people, group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them.  That independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for. 

President Trump took to Twitter to escalate his war of words tweeting: Sorry Chief Justice John Roberts, but you do indeed have Obama judges. 

Roberts has only rebuked a president one other time.  In 2010, Roberts called President Obama`s State of the Union speech very troubling after Obama criticized a Supreme Court decision in that speech.  Republicans who support Trump seem to have forgotten this. 

Senator Chuck Grassley tweeted Chief Justice Robert`s rebuke for a comment he made about a judge`s decision on asylum.  I don`t recall a chief attacking Obama when that prez rebuked Aleto during the State of the Union.  Again, he did. 

All right.  Joining us, Jill Wine-Banks, former assistant Watergate special prosecutor, Joyce Vance, former federal prosecutor and a professor at the University of Alabama School of Law.  They`re both MSNBC legal contributors.  Jonathan Alter is a columnist for "The Daily Beast" and an MSNBC political analyst. 

Thanks to all of you for being here. 

Jonathan, let me just start with you.  It`s a big deal that John Roberts said this considering that John Roberts doesn`t say a lot of things quite often particularly when it comes to being critical of the president.  The idea that John Roberts criticized the president or suggested that the president`s criticism of judges is misguided seems important to me. 

JONATHAN ALTER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Extraordinarily important for one branch to stand up against another branch, this is what the founders envisioned for the branches to check each other.  And Roberts was doing that, standing up for the rule of law, standing up for an independent judiciary. 

The big question is whether there will be more of this to come and whether in some of his decisions, whether he will side with the moderates on the court instead of just going right down the line with conservatives on say questions of whether a president can be subpoenaed and other things that relate to the investigation of Trump when they come before the Supreme Court, which they`re likely to do in the next couple of years, Roberts is no longer quite as predictable a vote as he was before because he believes that this president is assaulting the fundamental ideas on which this country was founded.  And when the chief justice of the Supreme Court comes to that conclusion, you bet that`s a big deal. 

VELSHI:  Joyce, let me ask you about this because the president in his mind sees judges as belonging to presidents or aligned with presidents.  And, of course, as we`ve discussed in the last few days, he sees the Department of Justice, which is part of his branch, part of the executive branch, as being his personal Department of Justice.  In November this month, this is what Trump said about the judiciary. 

Let`s listen. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  You know, the saddest thing is that because I`m the president of the United States, I am not supposed to be involved with the Justice Department.  I`m not supposed to be involved with the FBI.  I`m not supposed to be doing the kind of things I would love to be doing, and I`m very frustrated by it. 

I look at what`s happening with the Justice Department.  Well, why aren`t they going after Hillary Clinton with her e-mails and with the dossier and the kind of money --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI:  Sorry, Joyce, I was mistaken, that was from a year ago the president said that.  But this line stands out where he said I`m not supposed to be doing the kinds of things I would love to be doing and I`m very frustrated by it.  I`m sorry he`s frustrated by it, but that`s kind of a serious concern on the part of the president we should all be worried about. 

JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY:  It`s an incredibly telling statement.  It`s clear this president is not a big believer in an independent judiciary or an independent Justice Department.  What he really wants is additional groups, additional allies that will help him carry out his political and his personal agenda. 

We should have been stunned when we heard the statement a year ago, but he also made it clear during the campaign he viewed the Justice Department as a way of locking up his political opponents.  Trump has been, if anything, consistent on this topic.  Unfortunately, it`s a kind of consistency that we would be a lot better without and need to start taking seriously.

VELSHI:  Jill Wine-Banks, as we mentioned Chief Justice Roberts did do this one other time when President Obama made a comment during his State of the Union.  Let`s listen to what that was all about. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT:  With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the flood gates for special interests, including foreign corporations, to spend without limit in our elections.  I don`t think American elections should be bankrolled by America`s most powerful interests or worse by foreign entities.  They should be decided by the American people.  And I urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps correct some of these problems. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI:  So, Jill, let`s just put this into context.  That was a president criticizing the Supreme Court.  It was done in a very different flavor, it didn`t sound personal, but Chief Justice John Roberts didn`t like that either. 

How are presidents supposed to push back against another branch of government if that branch happens to be the court? 

JILL WINE-BANKS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  Well, first of all, happy thanksgiving to you and all of your viewers.  But secondly, it is a very different context that President Obama spoke to.  He was not criticizing the court or any member of it.  He was criticizing a decision that had a very big political impact and was suggesting that legislation was necessary to change that. 

That seems to me an appropriate way for a president to deal with a Supreme Court decision that he thinks needs to be changed, is to urge legislation.  Not to personally attack and undermine the credibility of the court, which is what President Trump is doing, and which is completely unprecedented and wrong. 

And this isn`t the first time he`s done it.  He did it with the case involving his first travel ban.  He`s done it in another case where it was involving his own lawsuit about his university.  And so, he has a history of doing this. 

And Jonathan and Joyce are both absolutely correct as to how dangerous this is for democracy and how important the separation of powers is.  And if you heard the first line of what President Obama said, he said, with all due respect to the separation of powers.  That`s something that Donald Trump does not understand, nor does he understand an independent Department of Justice and the importance of that. 

When he says prosecute an opponent, that is exactly the wrong thing to do.  He can say investigate and see if there`s a crime, but he can`t say just go and prosecute. That is really something that is a threat to democracy.  It is what an authoritarian dictator does.  And I don`t want to live in a country where we allow that to happen. 

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Well said.  Thank you to the three of you.  Stay with us for this break. 

Coming up what we now know about the answers President Trump submitted to special counsel Robert Mueller`s investigation, and why President Trump is thanking Saudi Arabia on the day before thanksgiving to the chagrin of even some Republican senators. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELSHI:  Special counsel Robert Mueller finally has what he has wanted for months, answers from President Trump to some of his questions.  Namely questions about potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. 

Tonight, Rudy Giuliani, one of the President`s lawyers, tells NBC News that he anticipates some follow-up questions from Mueller`s team by the end of next week.  But in what may be a signal of a coming standoff between the President`s legal team and the special counsel`s office "Axios" is reporting that so far quote "the high stakes exchange with Mueller included no questions or answers about obstruction of justice." 

Not surprisingly, "Politico" reports that Mueller quote "still wants to question the President over his actions while in the White House including about potential obstruction of justice. 

So, folks, this fight is far from over.  It is a fight that could result in an historic (ph) subpoena and a Supreme Court case.  Depending on how the battle plays out, "Politico" says House Democrats may even try to launch impeachment proceedings against Trump. 

But the President`s view on a subpoena seems clear.  He won`t cooperate.  Rudy Giuliani tells NBC News that he doesn`t see how Mueller`s team could even get a subpoena, claiming they would have to show special need for it.  And Giuliani says if Mueller wants to ask the President about obstruction quote "I doubt we would comply." 

Back with me Joyce Vance and Jill Wine-Banks. 

Joyce, let`s just talk about this for a second.  If Mueller wants to ask a question about obstruction the President and Rudy Giuliani and his legal team says they are not answering such questions.  What is Mueller to do? 

JOYCE VANCE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR:  Well, first off, I think it`s important to remember that we are only hearing one side of this debate.  We are only hearing what the President`s team is releasing and we have no idea if Rudy Giuliani is fully representing what`s going on here. 

But let`s assume for a moment this is accurate and that they have chosen to selectively answer questions, Mueller can contemplate whether he wants to issue a subpoena and have that fight which undoubtedly will go all the way to Supreme Court. 

And there`s an additional twist to it.  The problem is this.  Typically DOJ prosecutors don`t issue a subpoena and require targets of investigations to testify in grand jury.  A target is someone who is going to be charged as a defendant.  We typically talked about the President as not being a target only because his status as President protects him from indictment.  But of course he could be indicted after he left office, he could potentially be impeached.  His status here may color that question of whether Mueller wants to seek a subpoena. 

VELSHI:  So Jill, through the lens of history where do you see where we are in this investigation?  Obviously, Robert Mueller knew there was an election coming.  He knew the outcome of that election might be Republicans take the House and Donald Trump felt more emboldened to reject his advances.  Now that Democrats hold the House, do you think that affects his thinking and where he is in his investigation? 

WINE-BANKS:  Well, I think a more relevant perhaps comparison as you said Donald Trump has said I won`t cooperate with a subpoena, but I would like remind him that Richard Nixon said I will not give you the tapes in response to the subpoena, and he stone walled as long as he could until there was unanimous decision from the Supreme Court that he had to turn over and respond to that subpoena. 

And yes, there`s a difference between a subpoena for documents and a subpoena for testimony, but it`s, I think, a difference that doesn`t matter.  It is a difference without distinction and that the court would find that the decision in U.S. v. Nixon would govern his subpoena for testimony. 

So I think it`s a battle he would lose at least in a fair Supreme Court.  And of course we now have Kavanaugh who has already announced his intentions on that issue.  And so we don`t know how the case will come out, but in any other Supreme Court I would predict that we would have a decision that he would have to comply with a subpoena and give his testimony.  He is not above the law. 

VELSHI:  And Joyce, the President again "The New York Times" reporting last night that the President had asked Don McGahn about going to the justice department and asking them to prosecute, not just investigate, Hillary Clinton.  And, you know, Don McGahn pushed back on it and said you don`t do that.  You can`t ask them to prosecute and you might get impeached. 

Rudy Giuliani is now talking about this.  He told "the Hill" he thinks Hillary Clinton should be investigated.  He told "the Hill" on Wednesday that Hillary Clinton should be investigated for possible obstruction of justice.  Of course she should be investigated Giuliani said asserting that there is plenty of evidence that Hillary obstructed justice by destroying evidence in a gross and massive way. 

What is the benefit of Rudy Giuliani talking about this?  Because most legal opinions are that the President was wrong to suggest this. 

VANCE:  Yes.  You know, it`s just more red meat being thrown to the base.  It doesn`t do the country any favors to misalign people and give them false explanations for the way our government is supposed to work.  On the one hand it`s just absolutely improper for a President to direct the justice department to prosecute his political enemies.  I don`t think that that needs a lot of explanation.  We all get that`s what separates us from banana republics. 

On the other hand, Hillary Clinton has already been thoroughly investigated, maybe more thoroughly than anyone in recent history in this country.  She has already been given a clean bill of health by law enforcement agencies, that`s to say there was not a finding, that there was sufficient evidence to move forward. 

And every effort to reopen any aspect of that case against her, has been pushed aside by law enforcement.  This isn`t Democratic law enforcement or republican law enforcement.  This is professional law enforcement which has already made a decision that there is nothing to investigate. 

So this insistence by Giuliani that an actual witch hunt should continue against a former Presidential nominee does an incredible disservice to this country, it is wrong particularly for a former U.S. attorney who knows better. 

VELSHI:  Thanks to both of you and happy thanksgiving to both of you, Joyce Vance and Jill Wine-Banks. 

All right.  Coming up, on one of the busiest travel days of the year Donald Trump tweets about the lower prices at the pump and says America should be thankful for Saudi Arabia.  We are going to fact check that claim. 

And spoiler alert, it`s false.  Right after this. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELSHI:  Yesterday President Trump refused to take action against Saudi Arabia despite the CIA`s high confidence assessment that the crown prince ordered the murder of "the Washington Post" journalist Jamal Khashoggi. 

Trump defended his position for economic reasons, claiming the U.S. would lose a multibillion dollar arms deal and oil prices would spike.  Today Trump doubled down on that message, tweeting oil prices getting lower, great, like a big tax cut for America and the world, enjoy, $54, was just $82.  Thank you to Saudi Arabia but let`s go lower. 

OK, there`s a lot to unpack there.  "The Washington Post" fact checked that writing quote "Trump`s tweets ignored other factors driving the fall in oil prices such as global concerns - concerns about global economic growth and a U.S. China trade war as well as a rise in U.S. oil production and U.S. exemptions to sanctions on Iranian oil.  The U.S. has substantially increased its domestic oil production over the last decade.  Take a look at that chart.  That`s because of the fracking revolution.  And last year only 49 percent of U.S. imports actually came from Saudi Arabia, according to the U.S. administration, 40 percent of American oil comes from Canada. 

So Saudi Arabia is not the reason for our low oil prices, nor are they paying us the hundreds of billions of dollars or creating the hundreds of thousands of jobs as Trump continues to claims.  Those numbers are lies. 

So why is Trump continuing to defend the kingdom?  Well today, "Washington Post" publisher Fred Ryan attacked the President for his transactional approach to the diplomacy, unconcern with human rights abuses writing quote "a clear and dangerous message has been sent to tyrants around the world.  Flash enough money in front of the President of the United States and you can literally get away with murder." 

After the break, I will discuss whether there is more going on with Trump and his financial ties to Saudi Arabia with Evan McMullin and Johnathan Alter. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  It`s a very complex situation.  It`s a shame, but it is what it is.  The CIA has looked at it.  They have studied it a lot.  They have nothing definitive.  And the fact is maybe he did, maybe he didn`t.  We are not going to give up hundreds of billions of dollars in orders and let Russia and China have everybody else have them.  It`s all about for me very simple.  It is America first.  If we abandoned Saudi Arabia it would be a terrible mistake. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI:  That was Donald Trump yesterday, refusing to hold Saudi Arabia accountable for the brutal murder of a U.S.-based journalist.  But why? 

Joining us now Evan McMullin, former CIA operative and former independent presidential candidate who challenged Trump during the 2016 election.  Jonathan Alter is back with us. 

Evan, let me just start with you.  Because we are talking about the CIA here.  The CIA has different levels of confidence when it reports on something and they have said that they have high confidence about this.  What`s in it for the President in again -- this is now not the first time he has done this, but again refusing to agree with or accept the conclusion of our intelligence agencies. 

EVAN MCMULLIN, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE:  Well, look, I think it`s twofold, Ali.  I think it is -- first of all, that President Trump does have long- standing conflicts of interest relating to Saudi Arabia.  He has done millions of dollars of real estate deals with the Saudi Arabian government.  He has pursued projects even during the last campaign, the Presidential campaign, in which he was of course a candidate, he was pursuing business opportunities in Saudi Arabia even then.  And even this year the Saudi Arabian government has spent significant amounts of money in his hotels in the United States. 

So there`s a clear conflict of interest.  And I think, you know, our founders put into the constitution a prohibition on our governments receiving payments or gifts from foreign governments.  And this is a case study for exactly why they thought ahead and included something like that in the constitution. 

But you know, the other thing is that I think, you know, Trump is part of a rising tide of authoritarians around the world.  He is perhaps, you know, a leader among them of course.  And I think that he doesn`t want to stand up to a government that is using its powers to attack journalists in this case because he is aligned with governments like that.  I don`t think -- he`s not looking to hold governments accountable and to make sure, you know, they are accountable to their people and to promote democracy and human rights around the world because that`s not what he desires for his own rule here in the United States. 

VELSHI:  I mean, wow.  Part of a rising tide of authoritarian leaders around the world. 

"Washington Post" publisher saying, Jonathan, to the President that Saudi Arabia has basically demonstrated if you flash cash to the President of the United States you can get away with murder.  I mean, these are strong words coming from the publisher of a newspaper.  But one doesn`t have to be particularly sophisticated to think the President has said it several times.  He has talked about it is what it is.  Maybe he did it, maybe he didn`t.  He keeps lying about the number of jobs and the size of the arms deals.  It`s really strange. 

JONATHAN ALTER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  In his statement today, his written statement, he actually took the side of Saudi Arabia against the United States.  People will die because of that statement. 

VELSHI:  Absolutely. 

ALTER:  Because it gives a green light to regimes all over the world to do what they want not just with reporters but with any kind of dissidents.  And they have a free hand.  It used to be that they knew there would be a price to pay with the United States if they went around killing people. 

Now, it might be that there is still a price to pay because there are a lot of Republicans on Capitol Hill who are joining Democrats and being very upset about this.  So we might not have heard the end of this.  There may yet be an arms embargo against Saudi Arabia. 

Now, even the facts of that the President misstated.  He said that there were hundreds of billions of dollars on the line, you know --

VELSHI:  We have been able to count up about 14 or 15 billion. 

ALTER:  Yes, under 14 billion.  And even that isn`t clear.  And then he said and by the way, if we don`t sell them these weapons they will just buy them from the Russians and Chinese. 

VELSHI:  Also not particularly practical. 

ALTER:  Completely untrue. 

VELSHI:  They have been buying American arms for decades. 

ALTER:  Yes.  And they have to.  The parts and everything that go in their American-made aircraft.  So that was completely untrue.  We know you that can`t believe a word out of this President`s mouth.  But in this case the consequences are more serious for what these regimes will do around the world to their own people. 

VELSHI:  So that`s one side of it, Evan, what regimes will do to critics.  The other side of it is understanding the importance of journalists as critics around the world.  This -- what the President has done has got to send a chill through every journalist of a regime around the world that does not have respect for press freedoms.  The President used the term in his screed yesterday that some have said Jamal Khashoggi might be an enemy of the state in Saudi Arabia.  That mirrors the language that he has used about the media in America as enemy of the people.  It legitimizes the idea of media as enemy of a government. 

MCMULLIN:  Yes, that`s right.  And we as Americans and free people everywhere need to oppose this very strongly, this kind of rhetoric.  Obviously, this kind of violence.  And the reason is that the press, even a biased press, is critical to the defense of our basic rights.  And boy, is this, you know, a case in point.  And it can happen here in the United States.  And it may not be Trump himself who applies the violence, but it may be his followers.  And in fact, some of them have already taken that step.  You know, the pipe bomber recently attacking the President`s opposition as well as figures in the media. 

The President`s words matter to his people here in the United States, some of whom are going to follow his lead and take violent action.  But also, as Jonathan said so correctly and so importantly, that foreign governments, foreign authoritarians, dictators, they watch very closely to see what the U.S. President does and what the U.S. government does or doesn`t do and they take cues from that about what they can get away with.  And you can -- I could cite example after example of this, Bashar al-Assad in Syria is one of them, where they test the water with a killing here, a slaughter there.  And if they don`t get a strong response from the United States in opposition they will do more.  And I`m afraid that`s what we are about to see globally. 

VELSHI:  Jonathan Alter, Evan McMullin, thank you for joining me.  Happy thanksgiving to both of you. 

MCMULLIN:  Happy thanksgiving. 

VELSHI:  Tonight`s LAST WORD is next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

  VELSHI:  Time now for tonight`s LAST WORD. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  But when it comes to Donald Trump a former senior White House official says he has never been interested in going.  He is afraid of those situations.  I`m ready to visit the troops.  These damn bone spurs.  They just -- I -- you know what they say.  They flare up.  They flare up at the most inopportune times.  You know what they say.  War is heel. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI:  That`s tonight`s LAST WORD. 

I`m Ali Velshi.  I`ll see you at 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. tomorrow on MSNBC. 

Coming up on "the 11th hour" former acting solicitor general Neil Katyal will react to Donald Trump`s fight with Supreme Court justice john Roberts. 

"THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS" starts right now. 

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