Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: November 27, 2018 Guest:
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
And the Mueller investigation has taken so many twists and turns today. But the Paul Manafort dual cooperation, cooperating allegedly with the special prosecutor, cooperating with the Trump lawyers at the same time. No one saw that coming.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": You know, we knew about these joint agreements, these joint defense agreements, right? Which Giuliani and the Trump lawyers had been bragging they had with all sorts of people who were involved with this. Typically joint defense agreements, where your lawyers are allowed to talk to each other, those go away once you flip and start working with prosecutors.
We had never been able to confirm whether or not Manafort also gave up his joint defense agreement with Trump when he flipped. If, in fact, as "The New York Times" reports tonight, he never gave up that agreement, then maybe this was the plan all along, that maybe the whole reason he did flip was so that he could provide information to Trump`s lawyers about what was going on inside the investigation.
I mean, this is so weird in terms of the way these things usually unfold. I can`t imagine this is going to be the last we hear of it.
O`DONNELL: We`re watching obstruction of an investigation in plain sight. Every single thing that the Trump lawyers, that Donald Trump himself can possibly do to get in the way of this investigation, they are doing it. And it seems to be if we do it in plain sight, they can`t impeach him for it, can they?
MADDOW: Yes, that`s the bet, right? John Dowd, yes, we talked to Manafort about pardons. Rudy Giuliani being like, yes, we sort of had Manafort squealing on the special counsel he was supposed to be cooperating. Yes, we did that.
Trump is saying, you know, when I put Matthew Whitaker in there, I was thinking, boy, this Russia investigation is a lot of hooey. I mean, they`re just -- I mean, the bad news about the way this movie ends is that the confession is going to be boring because we`ve heard it all before.
O`DONNELL: Yes, it`s all there. It`s all in plain sight. That`s the extraordinary part of it.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Well, as I said, it is an important night of breaking news in the modern investigation with a new leaked document from that investigation and this document was leaked deliberately by one of the criminal suspects in the investigation. He leaked that to NBC News today. That was our lead story about the Mueller investigation until, in the last hour, "The New York Times" broke an even more important story, much more important story, about why Paul Manafort`s cooperation deal with the special prosecutor completely collapsed.
The headline of today`s -- tonight`s "New York Times" story is Manafort`s lawyer said to brief Trump attorneys on what he told Mueller. "The Times" reports that Paul Manafort`s lawyer, Kevin Downing, quote, repeatedly briefed President Trump`s lawyers on his client`s discussions with federal investigators after Mr. Manafort agreed to cooperate with the special counsel.
This is as strange a legal story as has ever been reported by "The New York Times". And because it involves Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani, it gets even stranger.
The source, the source for "The New York Times" story about this terribly incriminating story about what is essentially an ongoing conspiracy between Paul Manafort and Donald Trump, the source for that story is Rudolph Giuliani. He is the source by name in "The New York Times."
Giuliani told "The New York Times" that Robert Mueller, quote, wants Manafort to incriminate Trump. That news came after another strange development in the Mueller case today when Jerome Corsi, who is a target of the investigation, released a guilty plea agreement with the special prosecutor which describes perjury committed by Jerome Corsi. It is a plea agreement that in the end, Jerome Corsi decided not to sign.
This, again, is something we have never seen before. A target of the federal investigation about a president deciding at the last minute not to sign his plea agreement and instead releasing his incriminating plea agreement to the press, first to NBC News, and then to other news organizations today. The document says that Jerome Corsi lied about his communications with Roger Stone about contacting Julian Assange and WikiLeaks in order to obtain incriminating information about the Clinton campaign. And Clinton campaign stolen e-mails, e-mails stolen by Russian agents and provided to WikiLeaks.
The Corsi matter also involves collusion with the Trump White House and the Trump lawyers. "The Washington Post" is reporting that Jerome Corsi gave a copy of that plea agreement to the Trump lawyers a week before Thanksgiving.
And that is exactly when Donald Trump tweeted this: The inner workings of the Mueller investigation are a total mess. They have found no collusion and have gone absolutely nuts. They are screaming and shouting at people, horribly threatening them to come up with the answers that they want. They are a disgrace to our nation.
Leading off our discussion of this breaking news, Jill Wine-Banks, former assistant Watergate special prosecutor, Joyce Vance, former federal prosecutor and professor at the University of Alabama School of Law, both are MSNBC legal contributors. And John Heilemann is with us. He`s a national affairs analyst for NBC News and MSNBC. He`s co-host and executive producer of Showtime`s "The Circus".
And, Jill, this is another of those legal nights where we`ve never seen anything like it. I`ve never seen anything like either one of these developments in any federal case anywhere, a cooperating witness sharing information with another party under investigation by the prosecutors that he is cooperating with.
JILL WINE-BANKS, FORMER ASSISTANT WATERGATE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: I feel like I`m watching an episode of "The Americans" where you have a double agent because there is there`s no other explanation for the behavior of Manafort and probably of Corsi as well, that they were cooperating with the prosecutor at the same time as they are cooperating with the president. And that just is really an incredible thing.
And every time you think that things can`t get more interesting, they do. Or every time you think the president can`t go any lower, he does. So, this has been a really interesting evening and it`s going to take days of discussion to really figure out what is going on here.
O`DONNELL: Jill, it seems like pardon is the only logical end game. It`s the only thing that I can see when I look at both of these cases, but especially the Manafort case. Manafort facing the possibility of spending the rest of his life in prison and at this stage, the only person who can save him from that is Donald Trump with a pardon.
WINE-BANKS: Well, he can`t actually save him completely. Donald Trump probably has dangled a pardon, and Manafort probably was arrogant enough to think that he could have his cake and eat it, too, that he could possibly get away without having a second trial, not spending the money, that he could lie and get not caught. And that if he did, it wouldn`t matter because he`d get pardoned.
So he thought he had it all to himself and that he could get away what all of this. But a pardon definitely won`t save him from a state prosecution for some of the crimes that are both federal and state crimes. All the financial fraud things could lead to a state indictment.
So, he could end up in jail for all of those and his plea is not reversible. He pled guilty to at least two counts and so he`s not going to get away with that. Now he can be pardoned for it at the federal level, but he can`t be pardoned right now because even, even the most loyal Trump supporters are going to go berserk if that happens, because you were right when you said this is all happening in plain sight.
We don`t need to hear tapes of President Nixon. We are seeing it on Twitter and on TV, and in newspaper reporting every single day right in plain sight. You were exactly correct on that one.
O`DONNELL: Yes, and, Joyce Vance, if this were any other group of people, the sourcing of this story tonight for "The New York Times" would not be the president`s lawyer, would not be Rudy Giuliani. It would be something that they were desperately trying to hide and would never want to be made public. What do you make of the fact that Rudy Giuliani is "The New York Times" direct and named source for this behavior by the Trump lawyers and the Manafort lawyers?
JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: It`s really hard to figure, Lawrence. It`s almost as though he didn`t see anything wrong with what they were doing. You know, I suspect that all over America, federal prosecutors are scrambling to add new language into their plea agreements.
Up until now, I think most prosecutors never felt a need to put into their plea agreements with defendants, language that said, and, by the way, if you`re cooperating with the government, you`ve got to cut all of your ties to your former codefendants, and you can`t share information about our investigation back with them, right? Everyone understood that that couldn`t happen. It`s arguably obstruction.
Giuliani seems to be the only lawyer in America who couldn`t sort that out for himself.
O`DONNELL: And, Joyce, to that point, when I was reading this, I thought, are there some possible malpractice implications for Paul Manafort`s lawyer? Because these actions that he took have created another kind of jeopardy for Manafort.
He`s lost basically what the continuing cooperation of the special prosecutor, he`s lost whatever sentencing benefit was going to be.
VANCE: There are a lot of potential implications here. I think we would have to know more about the facts to be certain. That Kevin Downing, Paul Manafort`s lawyer, could be looking, for instance, at action by the bar that issues his license. There could be some violation of bar rules.
It`s also possible that if there was a protective order, that Mueller had entered into with Manafort and his lawyer so that they could share information during cooperation, that that may have been violated when they went back to Trump`s lawyers to share information. Also, if they thought that they were still acting under some form of joint defense agreement, they were just wrong. No joint defense agreement existed once Manafort began to cooperate.
And so any conversations that were had between Downing, Manafort`s lawyer, and the president`s lawyers, would be fully discoverable by Mueller`s prosecutors. And I feel sure that they`ll aggressively try to uncover the substance of those communications and even consider whether they can be used in evidence. Everything that happens here is really unprecedented and really unusual. Hard to believe that smart, good lawyers could have thought that they could get away with this without any repercussion.
O`DONNELL: Joyce, that is a great technical point, that a joint defense agreement is about defense. And once you have surrendered your defense and pled guilty, how can you possibly in any legal sense still be engaged in a joint defense agreement with those lawyers. And so, that is obviously a big hole in what`s happened here.
John Heilemann, the president tweets about the Mueller investigation from time to time, and when in the moment of those tweets, there`s a lot of speculation of what happened, what happened inside the White House, what`s the latest thing that Trump just discovered about the Mueller investigation that has him so animated today. And now we know that Jerome Corsi handed over to the Trump lawyers his plea agreement that he was deciding not to agree to. And in that agreement, there is this language that says that there was direct communication. Roger Stone was understood to be in regular contact with senior members of the Trump campaign, including with then candidate Donald J. Trump.
"Washington Post" reporting tonight that Donald Trump was infuriated to discover that his name actually appeared in the -- in this plea agreement, and that`s when the tweet storm went out against Mueller.
Let me interrupt you for a second. We do have a call in the Senate race in Mississippi. NBC News is projecting that Cindy Hyde-Smith is the winner of that race. Mike Espy coming up short in Mississippi.
And, John Heilemann, that doesn`t come as a surprise according to a poll that indicated all the information indicated Mike Espy was going to have to pull off something of a miracle tonight. We`ll come back to that later in the hour.
But to this point that we can now plot in real-time, Trump discovers X and tweets Y about Mueller.
JOHN HEILEMANN, MSNBC NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Right. We saw there was one particular Trump tweet that came out -- I can`t remember exactly how many days ago it was now -- where he said, he indicated he had inside knowledge what was going on in the Mueller investigation. Everyone noted he fact he seemed to be claiming in a way that Trump -- I mean, as delusional as he sometimes is -- it seemed not to be fabricated in the sense that it wasn`t like there was anything on Fox News. I mean, again, there are a lot of people who are criminologists, what`s the source, where did he pull this from.
And there was nothing in public media accounts that would have led him to make the assertions he was making about people screaming and people being badly mistreated and being tried to be forced into lies. And it made you feel as though somebody privately was telling him something, true or false, they were telling him something that gave him a sense that he had inside insight into the investigation and was clearly driven crazy by it, was made -- madness, the madness of king Trump which turned up to 11 at that moment.
And so, now, we know. And I do think that the right answer here, with both these guys -- one of the things about the people around Donald Trump is that they all -- none of them are that smart and all of them think they are very smart. And so, some of these elements here are classic instances of shocking, but not surprising.
That Paul Manafort would think there was a way to game this out and it explains a lot of his behavior, that he went to trial knowing he was guilty of all these -- he knew he was guilty of all the things he was being accused of. He knew the paper trail. He knew he was going to be convicted. Why did he go to trial in the first place? Why did he spend all that money?
There was a whole bunch of questions before he was going to make the plea agreement, why not make it before the trial if you knew you were guilty and you`re going to get convicted? All of it makes sense now through the twisted prism of someone who thought they could play this double agent role if they believed -- he believed in the end, there was a pardon at the end of the line.
I don`t think the kind of relationship exists between Jerome Corsi and Donald Trump, anything of that relation exists as the kind of relationship between Paul Manafort and Donald Trump which goes back decades. I`m certain now, my gut and intuition, the reporting that`s out there and the reporting that I have suggests to me this is exactly what`s been happening with Paul Manafort throughout. He had a game plan.
We all look at it now and say it was mentally ill to think it would work. But it`s pretty clear it all makes sense now once you adopt that view of the world and the game that he thought he could play.
O`DONNELL: And, Jill, it is a game we`ve never seen before. And as John describes it, it makes a certain sense within that realm. It`s go to trial on the first case so that you can always claim in the future, I got railroaded. But then when you do get that guilty verdict and you have to face the expense of a possible second trial, then you plead guilty for a couple reasons. One, to save money, but then also to get inside the Mueller investigation.
O`DONNELL: I mean, deliberately step inside the Mueller investigation and then while inside the investigation, finding out what they want to know, communicate every bit of that directly to Donald Trump through the lawyers.
WINE-BANKS: I agree with both John and Joyce. They are both correct, as are you. And it is crazy to think you can get away with it.
But also to further something that Joyce said in answer to your question, I think that one of the things that is wrong with the lawyers doing this is either they`re guilty of malpractice for not having advised their client that he could lose the entire deal if he did this double-agent thing and didn`t warn them, that would be malpractice. But it also may be that they warned him and he said, I don`t care, I`m going to get a pardon and so I`m willing to do this because I can help the president. I can even give false information to them that will throw them off and cause them to waste time.
So, it could be that he acted -- the lawyer acted with the client`s knowledge and the client approved it so that it wasn`t something that, although the lawyer should have known that the agreement evaporated upon an agreement to cooperate, that I think Joyce is completely correct is that everybody should be adding it to any deal going forward, that you cannot share any information that you learn from our questioning or from the documents we show you.
So, that`s an important thing that we should take away from this and that every prosecutor ought to be busy amending their standard forms.
O`DONNELL: And, Joyce, what do you make of the Jerome Corsi development where he publicly hands out his own plea agreement, which in the end he decided not to sign?
VANCE: It`s really intriguing. On the one hand, Corsi is saying he`s not guilty. He didn`t lie to prosecutors. On the other hand, he`s passing out sort of like, you know, Halloween candy these very damaging documents that establish essentially beyond a reasonable doubt that he, in fact, was guilty.
There is a time line. There`s a course of conduct. There`s information shared. So, Corsi, who perhaps is trying to make some sort of a public case, is at the same time really condemning himself.
He looks like someone who just really likes publicity, who can`t stand to be out of the limelight. And I think maybe we get a little bit of a hint about what`s going on in some of this paperwork where we learn that prosecutors, for instance, expected him to surrender his securities license as a condition of pleading guilty.
Perhaps he wasn`t willing to go quite that far. It was a really good deal, no jail time. But maybe he felt like the loss of his livelihood was something he simply couldn`t agree to.
O`DONNELL: And, John, on the pardon question, Rudy Giuliani telling "Wall Street Journal," asked if the president would pardon Manafort or Corsi, Giuliani said, quote: Right now would not be the time.
It seems the time would be the day after the reelection in which President Trump either wins or loses, and at that moment, he can pardon Manafort. Manafort is going to have to do, you know, the next 24 months. But that`s a small price for Manafort to pay. That`s less time than he would have gotten in the plea agreement.
VANCE: You know, he is now used to the orange jump suit. He`s worn it for a while. And, you know, he`s in solitary confinement for his own safety, which is not the worst place for Paul Manafort to be given some of the connections he has in the world and some of the things that could happen to a guy like him given the way the Russians tend to treat people who have run afoul of their interests.
Just think about Jerome Corsi and Paul Manafort in this way. So much of this by biography is destiny, these people are who they are. Jerome Corsi is the guy who was perfectly happy to be known throughout the world as the author of and the chief propagator of, beyond Donald Trump, the racist conspiracy theory that Barack Obama was not an American citizen, was born in Kenya.
This was his -- Joyce is right. He doesn`t care what he gets attention for. He`ll get attention for whatever. He`s a kooky old man who found a way to become famous and a hero in some parts of American culture, for the fact that he was the author of this nut house theory that brought him to prominence.
Then you got Paul Manafort. Remember Paul Manafort, what`s he done for the latter part of his career? He`s in places like Ukraine. He`s in places doing dirty deals with crooked politicians, corrupt magistrates, dirty businessmen, Russian mobsters, all these people.
That guy is the guy who thinks about the fact that he could become a character in a double-agent plot that would somehow end up with it all working out fine for him and getting the presidential pardon. That`s the kind of thing if you`re a political consultant in the Ukraine, ten years ago, that you are advising your clients, hey, we`ll work it out. We`ll pay the magistrate. We`ll payoff the new president.
This is how it works. All systems are gameable. That`s the Paul Manafort kind of touch stone of how he operates. And, of course, when he then found himself in jeopardy, he would think about it the same way.
O`DONNELL: Well, that is such a great point about Manafort. Within his experience in dealing with Russians and the Ukraine, this is simple stuff.
O`DONNELL: This is elementary.
John Heilemann, thank you very much. Jill Wine-Banks, Joyce Vance, thanks for starting us out tonight.
And when we come back, the Trump administration is now trying to avoid revealing what the CIA knows about the killing of "Washington Post" journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
And Steve Kornacki is going to join us with the latest developments on that Mississippi special election race.
O`DONNELL: The full Senate is scheduled to receive a close door briefing tomorrow on Saudi Arabia from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary James Mattis. But they will not hear from CIA Director Gina Haspel or any other intelligence officials about the murder of "Washington Post" journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
According to "The Guardian", officials said the decision for Haspel not to appear came from the White House. One Senate staffer told "The Guardian" the decision to not have a single intelligence official at the briefing is, quote, totally unprecedented and should be interpreted as nothing less than the Trump administration trying to silence the intelligence community.
The report led to this question being asked of national security advisor John Bolton today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BOLTON, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: Tell me, the other question.
REPORTER: Are you blocking Gina Haspel from sharing information with members of Congress?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: But, of course, if the CIA director does not attend a briefing that the Senate wants her to attend, that can only be because the president is forbidding her from attending. There is no other reason.
Tomorrow`s briefing comes as the Senate is expected to vote as soon as this week on a resolution to cut off U.S. support for Saudi Arabia`s war in Yemen. In response to the Khashoggi murder, the Trump White House does not want that resolution to pass.
Gina Haspel`s absence has been frustrating even for some Republican senators.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: It would be very good for the CIA director to be there, too. I think people are going to care a great deal about what`s happening in Yemen, no question. But they also are going to care a great deal about the CIA views on the crown prince.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: In a new interview tonight, President Trump told "The Washington Post" this lie about the crown prince`s involvement in the Khashoggi murder. Quote, maybe he did, maybe he didn`t. But he denies it and people around him deny it and the CIA did not say affirmatively he did it either, by the way.
I`m not saying that they`re saying he didn`t do it, but they didn`t say it affirmatively. That is a lie. The CIA did say affirmatively that the crown prince ordered the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. CIA Director Gina Haspel has listened to the audiotape of the murder and other evidence in the case which would make her the most valuable participant in tomorrow`s Senate briefing.
Today, national security advisor John Bolton offered an imbecilic reason for why he said that he has refused to listen to the audio recording of the murder.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BOLTON: No, I haven`t listened to it. And I guess I should ask you why do you think I should? What do you think I`ll learn from it?
REPORTER: You`re the national security advisor. You might have access to that kind of intelligence.
BOLTON: How many in this room speak Arabic?
REPORTER: You don`t have access to an interpreter?
BOLTON: You want me to listen to it? What am I going to learn -- I mean, if they were speaking Korean, I wouldn`t learn any more from it either.
REPORTER: Well, an interpreter would be able to tell you what`s going on.
BOLTON: Then I can read a transcript, too. I`m just trying to make the point that everybody who says, why don`t you listen to the tape, unless you speak Arabic, what are you going to get from it?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Of course, because this was a White House briefing, there was, of course, no follow-up question asking him if he even read the transcript.
Joining us now is Ambassador Wendy Sherman, former under secretary of state for political affairs and an MSNBC contributor. Back with us is John Heilemann.
And, Ambassador Sherman, I want to start with your reaction to John Bolton saying, because some foreign intelligence is in a foreign language, no one in his position should avail himself of that intelligence.
As I understand it, we have not been gathering English language intelligence on possible adversaries or contentious parties out there since the civil war.
WENDY SHERMAN, FORMER UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR POLITICAL AFFAIRS: Indeed, Lawrence. There are two reactions. First, torture, terror, murder, the sounds of all of that are universal. You don`t need an interpreter.
I think that John Bolton doesn`t want to listen to the tape. I think President Trump doesn`t want to listen to the tape because they want deniability. They don`t want to hear the horrific sounds of that tape.
And, yes, they could listen to it with a transcript sitting by them, or with whisper interpretation while they`re listening. But I feel like this is see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil, three monkeys sitting on a couch not willing to accept what the CIA is trying to tell them.
And, quite frankly, it is so -- I was trying to think of an instance where I went up to Capitol Hill on a very serious security issue without the CIA. I know that the Republican majority would have insisted upon it because, quite frankly, they`re more interested in listening to an intelligence assessment than to a policymaker`s assessment because they think it will be more factual. And without politics, and I think that`s exactly why John Bolton and the president see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.
O`DONNELL: And, Ambassador Sherman, it also seems like they actively do not want to listen to it because they do not care, that there is nothing that they could possibly hear in that recording that would in any way affect their thinking about Saudi Arabia.
SHERMAN: Indeed. I think that the Trump administration, quite frankly a lot of leaders around the world, have decided to give the crown prince of Saudi Arabia a pass. But if you`re going to give him a pass, which in this case I would not do, but if you are, end the Yemen War. Stop offensive weapons being sold to Saudi Arabia. Get them to try to patch things up with Qatar and find a way forward with all of the Gulf countries together if you really want to deal with the security issues, if you really want to deal with Iran`s behavior in the region.
There is no strategy to do any of that. The Senate -- and it was interesting to hear Bob Corker`s comment. Bob Corker has always been someone who as in his own words would lay down on the railroad tracks to ensure that Saudi Arabia got whatever weapons system it wanted. He`s now saying he`s changed his mind.
And besides, the resolution on ending our involvement in Yemen, there is a possible war powers resolution that would come forward, which would be privileged that McConnell could not stop, that would say that we cannot sell weapons as long as this goes on and there are no answers for the U.S. Senate or for the U.S. Congress. So, it would be interesting days ahead to see what happens here.
O`DONNELL: John Heilman, CIA director Gina Haspel listened to the audio. She actually went to Istanbul where the murder took place. She did her own hands-on investigation. No one more valuable, no one higher ranking in the Trump administration who knows more about this. She`s the obvious person for the Senate to hear from tomorrow.
"Washington Post" reported weeks ago that the CIA found that the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the assassination, and they hold that view with what the CIA calls high confidence.
O`DONNELL: That is what the Trump administration does not want the Senate to hear tomorrow.
HEILMAN: Yes, yes. I mean I find the whole discussion, to be candid, a little ridiculous on some level. Your point is the correct point. I don`t know about John Bolton. I don`t know what -- where he`s at on this. There may be some level of denial and he doesn`t want to hear the screams and all that stuff. Donald Trump knows --
O`DONNELL: By the way, it may also be he has listened to the tape and he`s lying there.
HEILMAN: He may be lying. Totally possible.
O`DONNELL: Everything is possible.
HEILMAN: But the Donald Trump thing is really simple. He knows what happened. He has no doubt in his mind. He`s not actually -- I love Wendy Sherman. She`s right about almost everything but Trump is not in denial. He just does not care. He does not care --
O`DONNELL: Wendy Sherman is a diplomat. That`s what she said, he`s in denial.
HEILMAN: He does not care. He does not care. He does not care that Khashoggi was murdered at MBS`s order. He does not care. What he cares about is himself and money and he has had long-standing ties with the Kingdom. He`s had long-standing ties with the prince. His family has had long-standing ties with the prince and he knows he`s going to be out of office at some point.
And if he stays tied with the prince, he can make more money by staying tight with MBS than by turning against him. It`s really simple. He`s a collectocrat. And in the end, he does not care about journalists, he does not care about journalists` lives, he does not care about this particular journalist or the fact that he was dismembered, had his body scattered in a field someplace. Does not care.
All he cares about is what`s at his best financial interest today, yesterday, and particularly tomorrow. And that makes him just say, "I don`t care, I`m sticking with MBS."
O`DONNELL: We`re going to have to leave it there. Wendy Sherman, John Heilman, thank you both for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.
And when we come back, Steve Kornacki will join us with the new election results tonight and what the midterms which we`re now finally over, what they mean for the president, how much the president has lost in the Congress in these elections?
O`DONNELL: It is our final election night in America this year, tonight in Mississippi. Let`s go straight to Steve Kornacki with the latest. Steve, the Senate race has been called.
STEVE KORNACKI, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is. Cindy Hyde-Smith, the Republican, has held on here. You can see right now she`s leading by 10 points with about 80 percent. And we do expect that will tighten a little bit because that`s not really coming yet, the outstanding vote, a lot of it is from this part of Mississippi. These are heavily black counties.
The Mississippi Delta, along the Mississippi River here. We expect that sort of the late reporting part of the state. So I do think when all is said and done, it`s likely Mike Espy, the Democrat, will be within single digits in Mississippi.
Just to put that in some perspective for you, Lawrence. Look, if Espy were to get -- he`s at 45 now. If he were to get to 46, 47, something like that, look, Hillary Clinton got 40 percent here in 2016, very red state. Barack Obama -- this is like the high watermark at least before tonight. Barack Obama got 44 percent here in 2012, 2008 he got 43 percent.
You know, basically what happened here for Democrats is they`re getting huge support as you`d expect in black areas. They made some inroads, a very interesting thing tonight, suburban Memphis right here, giant county compare this. Look, Mike Espy got 41 percent, Hillary Clinton only got 31 percent here. So you do have some of these college-educated white voters who flipped over.
What saved Hyde-Smith is, look, these sort of rural, heavily white areas. She`s getting Trump numbers as you can see in these places. No slippage there. We look next door in Alabama, those are the kinds of places where Roy Moore had slippage, none for Cindy Hyde-Smith. So it`s enough for her to win. Probably looks like a high single digit for her in a very red state.
O`DONNELL: But Steve, it does continue this trend in the south that we`ve seen in Alabama, Georgia, now Mississippi of Democrats really closing the gap, really moving back into competitive postures there for the first time in many decades.
KORNACKI: Yes, that`s the thing. Mississippi does not have a lot of these sort of big metropolitan suburban areas but you see a hint of it here. What you`re seeing more broadly across the rest of the south, when I say these sort of counties, these are one of the biggest counties in the state. Look at that jump for Espy here.
Now, Mississippi is just more rural than a lot of other states. But Desoto, what you saw in this county, you see it outside Atlanta. You see it outside Houston. You see it outside Dallas. That could be the future for Democrats in the south. Not necessarily Mississippi. That`s always going to be a stretch.
But the Desoto counties of the south, outside Memphis, a little bit more sort of, you know, commuter class right there where you can combine strong support from African-American voters with some of the sort of white-collar professional white voters. That`s the combination that could help Democrats probably elsewhere in the south more than Mississippi.
O`DONNELL: Steve Kornacki, thanks on our final election night in America this year. Thank you, Steve.
And when we come back, what the elections, the full count in the midterms, mean for President Trump and how Trumpism will now be stopped cold by the Democratic House of Representatives.
O`DONNELL: There is now just one outstanding race that has not yet been called in the midterm elections. Democrat TJ Cox is leading Republican Congressman David Valadao in the race for California`s 21st Congressional district. If the Democrat wins that House race and knocks off the incumbent Republican, that would bring the Democratic pick-ups to a total of 40 in the House of Representatives.
Jason Johnson, politics editor at theroot.com joins us now. He`s an MSNBC contributor. And Elise Jordan is the co-host of Words -- "The Words Matter" podcast. She`s also an MSNBC political analyst.
And, Elise, I want to go first to Mississippi tonight. You are from Mississippi. I want to get your reaction to that Senate race and what we saw there.
ELISE JORDAN, CO-HOST, THE WORDS MATTER: I think what Mike Espy did pretty much unaided by the National Democratic Party establishment is pretty incredible and impressive, and he has shown that Democrats should compete in the state and that they have a chance in Mississippi. He was up against an incredibly weak candidate. Donald Trump pulled her over the finish line.
And you look at where Mike Espy did make inroads in places like Desoto County, the suburb of Memphis, Tennessee, more educated population. It mirrors the national pattern of educated professionals moving away from the Republican party, even in Mississippi.
But then you look at other more rural areas of Mississippi and Cindy Hyde- Smith managed to even outperform, you know, say Mitt Romney and was at a very Trump level of support. So Donald Trump is as strong as ever in the rural places of our country and in the suburbs, even in a place like Mississippi, so red, his support is slipping.
O`DONNELL: And Jason, one of the big lessons out of the south this election season is the Republicans now, for the first time in many, many decades, have to spend serious money trying to hold on to seats in places like Mississippi, Alabama where they lost a Senate seat, Georgia. The idea within the Republican party was, well, we`re never going to have to spend money in any of those states so we can devote all our resources to more swing states where a Senate seat can go one way or the other.
JASON JOHNSON, POLITICS EDITOR, THEROOT.COM: Yes. I mean the lesson that I`m glad the Democrats finally figured out this year, is you should compete everywhere and there should be no more gimme states. There should be a 50- state strategy. Everywhere you go, put up a good candidate. It doesn`t matter if it`s Georgia. It doesn`t matter if it`s Florida. It doesn`t matter if it`s Alabama or Mississippi because you never know where there is an opportunity for you to actually make some inroads.
And here`s I think what`s really key. Even with the State of Mississippi, yes, Mike Espy is likely to lose, it`s the down-ballot races that also matter. There are African-American men and women running for important judicial positions at the state level. District appeals courts and local magistrate`s courts and they are being propelled forward because of the work of Mike Espy. Just like we saw in Georgia where Stacey Abrams` efforts ended up helping Lucy McBath.
So the Democrats need to learn a lesson that the south should not be forgotten about. Mississippi should not be forgotten about. There will be some victories tonight even if it`s not the top of the ticket in Mississippi.
O`DONNELL: And, Elise, Mike Espy, when he was a member of Congress from Mississippi, he was serving in a Democratic majority. We`re going to see another Democratic majority standing there now basically as, first of all, a complete roadblock to everything with the word Trump on it.
JORDAN: And so Donald Trump is going to not have such a fun time dealing with the House when it comes to the new session of Congress starting up. It`s going to be a different ball game for him and he`s going to have a check on himself for the first time in his lifetime. You look at all of the corruption of this administration, and I truly hope that there is going to be some oversight and some check on Donald Trump`s excesses and his flagrant flouting of the rule of law.
O`DONNELL: And Jason, it seems that even Donald Trump realizes that the midterms have ended the whole charade, including his biggest charade about Mexico paying for a wall, he`s now saying in an interview with "Washington Post" that he realizes Democrats in Congress are going to have to vote to pay for his Wall. So he`s gone from demanding that Mexico pay for it to now requesting politely that Democrats and the House of Representatives pay for his wall, which I think we can all bet is not going to happen.
JOHNSON: Yes, not likely. Well, look, Lawrence, remember, Trump did get his wall. It just happens to be a blue wall of Democrats in the House and they`re not going to let him pass anything. That`s what he`s really looking at right now. I think what`s key, whether it`s the wall, whether it`s future immigration plans or even immigration, the president can`t negotiate with people who he spent the last two years insulting and diminishing.
O`DONNELL: Elise Jordan, Jason Johnson, thank you both for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.
And when we come back, it is Giving Tuesday. We have a reminder about that.
O`DONNELL: You still have an hour left to do something for Giving Tuesday. MSNBC is the signature media partner of Giving Tuesday for the fifth year in a row. And if you`re still looking for some way to give back, please consider donating to the KIND fund. That`s kids in need of desks. It`s a unique partnership that I created between MSNBC and UNICEF that provides desks for schools in Africa where the kids have never seen desks. And it provides scholarships for girls to attend high school in Malawi where like many African countries, public high school is not free.
I spent last week, Thanksgiving week in Malawi meeting with girls on our scholarship program and delivering desks to schools. And after talking about all of that last night on the show, many of you devoted your Giving Tuesday to the KIND fund.
Last night, Maya tweeted, "Tomorrow is Giving Tuesday. Teachers in my family including my mom will be getting donations to the KIND fund to help kids in Malawi." Goldie Taylor, a friend of the show and a frequent guest on this show tweeted, "I remember when Lawrence first launched the KIND fund on MSNBC devoted to giving desks and academic scholarships for girls to finish high school in Malawi in partnership with UNICEF, tomorrow is Giving Tuesday 2018. I hope you will join me in contributing."
Xavier tweeted, "The KIND fund is such a great cause. I`m about to make a donation. Everyone should do the same. And Thomas Whaley said, "I donated to the KIND fund as well. Being a teacher, I have been in awe of this magnificent cause from the beginning and the impact it has made and continues to make for so many.
Anna Claire said, "This Giving Tuesday, I sent a donation to UNICEF and kids in need of desks." Tia tweeted, "Just donated $500." Thanks, Tia. You can donate any amount, $10 Is helpful, $5 is helpful. Any amount will help deliver desks or provide scholarships for girls. And when you go to lastworddesks.msnbc.com, you can choose to contribute to desks or scholarships and you can make a donation in the name of anyone on your gift list and UNICEF will send them in acknowledgment of your holiday gift.
Seven minutes after Tia contributed $500, she then tweeted this, "I actually doubled it after reading the website. Lawrence, I`ve been blessed and hope it helps." It helps enormously. Your contributions really do change lives.
On another night, you`ll be hearing from some of the girls who we have supported with scholarships who have now made it all the way to college in Malawi and they wouldn`t be there without your support.
My dear friend Holland Taylor tweeted, "Nothing feels better than giving to the KIND fund, lastworddesks.msnbc.com for these children in Malawi. What a difference this has made for them. And then Martina Navratilova responded to Holland Taylor saying, "Done. And you are right, Holland." And then I jumped in and thanked Martina as I try to do with most of you who mentioned your contributions on Twitter. And Martina said, "Always. What you do in Malawi is just fantastic. Thank you, Lawrence."
And thank you to everyone who has been helping. I would be doing nothing in Malawi without your support. I have the easy job and the fun job of going to Malawi and seeing the ways you are changing lives there. Thank you to all for your kindness and generosity this Giving Tuesday.
Tonight`s last word is next.
O`DONNELL: Tonight`s last word is from President Obama tonight at Rice University in Texas with John Meacham.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The biggest challenge we`re going to have over the next 10, 15, 20 years is to return to a civic conversation in which if I say this is a chair, we agree that this is a chair. We can disagree on whether it`s a nice chair, whether we should replace the chair, whether you want to move it over there, but we can`t say it`s an elephant.
JOHN MEACHAM: I thought we were against Obamachair.
OBAMA: Yes. That was a good chair, by the way. And I noticed the folks who tried to move it this last election didn`t have a good time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That is quite a regal chair they give you at Rice University. President Obama gets tonight`s last word.
"THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS" starts now.
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