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McConnell faces growing pressure. TRANSCRIPT: 1/23/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell.

Guests: Barbara Res, Jack O`Donnell, Eric Swalwell

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

I`m just tweeting this now, Rachel Maddow predicts. 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS":  No, not prediction.  No, not a prediction.  Definitely not a prediction. 

O`DONNELL:  That Kamala Harris will be -- oh, no, wait, has a good chance. 

MADDOW:  Has a very good chance. 

O`DONNELL:  Very good chance. 

MADDOW:  Anybody looking at this field, anybody looking at this potential field, anybody looking at this time in American politics and at Kamala Harris` record knows she has a good chance of winning this nomination. 

O`DONNELL:  And my record has way back in it a prediction that she would be doing this and would have a very good chance of becoming president.  Back when she was district attorney.  That`s why -- like you, that`s when she first came to my attention.  I wasn`t aware -- I didn`t see the D.A. campaign that she won, but once she was D.A. of San Francisco, that`s when she came to my attention. 


O`DONNELL:  Senator, you`ll remember your very first appearance on this network was right here. 

HARRIS:  I remember so well.  I remember so well.  When I was running for attorney general, I remember it so very well. 

MADDOW:  How did it make you feel? 

HARRIS:  It was very special because nobody thought we would win.  When I ran for D.A. and attorney general, everybody thought this is never going to happen.  There were those that believed and I appreciate it. 

O`DONNELL:  Now, Senator, did you and Rachel see me during that last commercial break standing over in the corner of the studio?  Because what I was going to do --

HARRIS:   Oh, is he here? 

O`DONNELL:  I am not there now, but what I was going to do is beg you to come on this program at your convenience at some point in the future. 

HARRIS:  I`d like to. 

O`DONNELL:  Because as we all know, I will beg, but I had to rush up here because your interview went right up to here.  Right to here.  So this is the official begging moment. 

MADDOW:  Way to put her on the spot, Lawrence.  Well done. 

O`DONNELL:  Could you give me a date as you sit there? 

MADDOW:  My guest still.  No, no, no.  Bye, Lawrence. 

O`DONNELL:  Thank you, Senator.  Thank you, Rachel. 

HARRIS:  Thank you, Lawrence. 

O`DONNELL:  Well, Nancy Pelosi crushed Donald Trump today.  Crushed him.  And he knows that she crushed him and you can tell that Donald Trump wasn`t sure what happened when he was first told what Nancy Pelosi did to him today. 

We have the video of that moment.  Because it was NBC News Peter Alexander who told the president that Nancy Pelosi was changing her very polite suggestion that the president wait until after the government shutdown to find a mutual agreeable date for a State of the Union Address.  She was changing that to an absolute refusal to allow Donald Trump to set foot in the House chamber next week to give a State of the Union Address after Donald Trump in his typical bullying way said that he was still going to show up and give his State of the Union Address, even after Nancy Pelosi had politely asked him not to. 

Now, watch Donald Trump`s face as he listens to Peter Alexander`s question.  Now, it`s very, very unlikely that Donald Trump has any idea what the phrase concurrent resolution means.  You can kind of see that on his face, but he`s probably on his way to figuring out that it sounds like Nancy Pelosi has more power over this whole State of the Union thing than Donald Trump realized. 


REPORTER:  Mr. President, Nancy Pelosi just responded and she said she will not consider a concurrent resolution to have you come to the House on January 29th to deliver your State of the Union.  Your response to the house speaker? 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I`m not surprised.  It`s really a shame what`s happening with the Democrats.  They`ve become radicalized.  They don`t want to see crime stopped, which we can very easily do on the southern border, and it really is a shame what`s happening with the Democrats. 


O`DONNELL:  A shame?  That`s the best Donald Trump could do?  A shame?  That was it? 

That was Donald Trump experiencing defeat on live television and there wasn`t much fight in that guy.  In fact, there wasn`t any fight in him.  Speaker Pelosi had just killed Donald Trump`s dream of being the very first president to deliver a State of the Union Address during a government shutdown and he didn`t personalize his response to Nancy Pelosi, he didn`t attack her, he didn`t throw a nickname at her. 

An hour later, an hour later, the president had time to confer with his staff and they could explain to him that a concurrent resolution is a resolution that has to pass both the House and the Senate, and that a president`s formal invitation to address a joint session of the House and Senate in a state of the union address can only be made after a concurrent resolution inviting the president to do that is voted on by all members of the House and Senate.  And that is what Nancy Pelosi said is not going to happen.  The House of Representatives will not conduct the formal vote to officially invite Donald Trump into the House that is now controlled by Nancy Pelosi to address the Congress and the nation. 

And after his staff explained that to him, Donald Trump realized it`s all over.  Nancy Pelosi just said no and that is the end of that.  And so now with that, let`s listen to Donald Trump an hour later after his staff had the time to explain to him just how badly Nancy Pelosi had beaten him at his tough guy game.  Listen to just how defeated and crushed Donald Trump is, and the proof of how crushed he is is the nickname that he came up with deep in the rage of this defeat.  The nickname he came up with for the person who defeated him, the person who crushed him today. 


TRUMP:  We were planning on doing a really very important speech in front of the House and the Senate, the Supreme Court and everybody else that`s there.  It`s called the State of the Union.  It`s in the constitution.  We`re supposed to be doing it and now Nancy Pelosi or Nancy as I call her, she doesn`t want to hear the truth --


O`DONNELL:  Nancy.  That`s the best he could do.  Joy Reid`s having a hard time controlling herself right now.  Nancy. 


O`DONNELL:  That was it.  That was the best he could do.  That`s his new attack name for Nancy Pelosi.  The same name that her family uses for her, the name her loving parents gave her. 

Imagine how crushed and dazed and confused Donald Trump had to be to come up with that when he reached for the hate-filled nickname.  Nancy.  That is as disoriented as you have ever seen Donald Trump publicly.  Seething with hatred toward his latest opponent, as he so surely is.

And he doesn`t call her lyin` Nancy, he doesn`t call her low energy Nancy, the nickname he comes up with for the very first person who has stood up to him and stopped him, the first person who has had the power, the constitutionally granted power to stop the president of the United States from getting what he wants, the first person to do that to Donald Trump and the vicious nickname he comes up with for her is Nancy.  That`s what Donald Trump sounds like in total defeat. 


TRUMP:  We just found out that she`s cancelled it, and I think that`s a great blotch on the incredible country that we all love.  It`s a great, great, horrible mark.  I don`t believe it`s ever happened before. 


O`DONNELL:  Here`s a horrible mark, today the air trafficker controllers association, the airline pilots association and the flight attendants association issued a warning to anyone boarding an aircraft during the government shutdown. 

We have a growing concern for the safety and security of our members, our airlines, the traveling public due to the government shutdown.  This is already the longest government shutdown in the history of the United States and there is no end in sight.  In our risk-averse industry, we cannot even calculate the level of risk currently at play nor predict the point at which the entire system will break. 

It is unprecedented.  Air traffic controllers, the people who prevent aircraft from crashing into each other in the sky, cannot predict the point at which the entire system will break.  Donald Trump said he was proud to do this.  He said he is proud to shut down the government, proud to be pushing air traffic controllers to the spot where they cannot predict when the entire system will break, and when that system breaks, people die. 

Here`s another horrible mark of the Trump shutdown. 


FAYE SMITH, SECURITY GUARD, SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTE :  I`m here today to bring my appeal t bill to Mitch McConnell to show him.  If you`re not familiar, I`m on a second chance program.  I have to have my rent in on time.  I have no more money coming in. 

I am a guard at the Smithsonian Institute and I need my rent paid and I have nothing, and I need to know, when is he going to open things back up?  Because I`m about to be evicted.  If I don`t have my rent in by the first of next month through the second chance program, I will be evicted. 


O`DONNELL:  Leading off our discussion now, Joy Reid, MSNBC national correspondent and host of "A.M. Joy" weekends here on MSNBC, Barbara Res, the former executive vice president of the Trump Organization and author of "All Alone on the 68th floor: How One Woman Changed the Face of Construction", and Jack O`Donnell, the former president and chief operating officer of Trump Plaza and Casino, and co-author of "Trump: The Inside Story of the Real Donald Trump."  Jack O`Donnell, of course, being the most successful American with the name O`Donnell and not related to me, of course. 

Joy, I want to start with the woman we just heard, Faye Smith.  That is the real face of this shutdown right now today.  People who are on the verge of losing their homes.  She is going to be evicted in Washington, D.C.  Donald Trump has done a lot of evictions. 

REID:  Yes. 

L. O`DONNELL:  You know, in his life.  His father has done a lot of evictions.  They know from their end of it how that works. 

And Mitch McConnell is the person who now will be as responsible as Donald Trump for Faye Smith getting evicted if she does. 

REID:  Yes, and not only doing evictions.  If you follow history as Tony Schwarz and others have laid out, using tactic like not fixing the heat, making the apartment so unlivable that people essentially self-evict and leave in order to redevelop properties into luxury condominium.  He`s used to inflicting suffering on people that he thinks are disposable in order to get his way.  This is the way he operates. 

And, you know, unfortunately, the country is getting a couple of lessons at once.  We`re getting a forced lesson in the Constitution 101 on the -- in the powers of the Article I branch, which Nancy Pelosi is putting on a clinic.  As you said, she`s wielding her power so thoroughly and so efficiently and so publicly in a way that we don`t normally see women, you know, do. 

She`s not doing it with the sort of demure way we expect women to do.  She`s just wielding her power period.  And we`re so used to weak speakers.  We`re not used to it. 

So, Donald Trump is getting this lesson with the rest of the country.  Clearly, he knows nothing about the Constitution.  But for the first time, his infliction of misery on people, his lack of empathy for people is coming up against another power trying to stop him. 

The tragedy is the other half of the Article I power is apparently just as callous as Donald Trump.  I see no more concern in Mitch McConnell, no more compassion than I see in Trump.  In Trump, we know this is who he is.  We`re finding out this is also who Mitch McConnell is. 

L. O`DONNELL:  And, Barbara, I want to read you something that Tony Schwarz said today.  Tony, as we all know, actually wrote the book "The Art of the Deal," which has Donald Trump`s name on it.  It also has Tony`s name as a credited author, but apparently, Trump fans don`t notice that part. 

Tony Schwartz, who knows him very, very well, said, I have never seen Trump so utterly flummoxed and outgunned as he is by Nancy Pelosi.  He seemed both awed and cowed by her and it is turning her into a bigger powerhouse than she already was.  Fun to watch. 

What is it like for you, Barbara, to watch Nancy Pelosi versus Donald Trump? 

BARBARA RES, FORMER EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, THE TRUMP ORGANIZATION:  I sort of predicted this because I know -- I`ve followed Nancy for a long, long time.  I`m familiar with when Donald was run up against powerful women.  One comes to mind was a deputy mayor when he was working on the Trump City project.  She really took him on.  And it was looking great. 

And what he did was he just went over her head, diminished her.  She appeared in meetings and he called her honey and baby and he got away with that because she didn`t have the power.  She had some smarts and had some standing. 

But Nancy Pelosi, the minute I saw her -- I knew she`d be speaker.  I said, wait, this is going to be good. 

L. O`DONNELL:  Yes, this is what`s going to be.

Jack O`Donnell, I want to talk about Trump the deal maker, Trump the negotiator.  As we`ve all seen in this shutdown, all I`m seeing is the worst negotiator I have ever seen anywhere in American politics, not just the presidency. 

JACK O`DONNELL, FORMER PRESIDENT & COO, TRUMP PLZA HOTEL & CASINO:  Well, I think you`re right, Lawrence.  I mean, he really hasn`t engaged, but I will say, I don`t believe either side is really engaged in serious negotiation. 

And, you know, historically, he likes very simple deals.  I think that suits his mentality generally.  And, you know, he`s just saying no. 

And I think it`s just a tactic that he hopes that Pelosi at some point is going to start negotiating against herself, which would be to Trump`s advantage, but I think he`s absolutely shocked that she`s not doing that.  She`s standing her ground and she has the support of the party. 

And I think that`s significant because he also said today that Democrats are moving across, right?  And we all know that`s not happening.  No Democrats are going to move to Trump, regardless at this situation over the shutdown. 

L. O`DONNELL:  Joy, it`s almost like, you know, he`s trying to sell some apartments and he`s lying to the -- to possible buyers about who is buying and moving into the building.  Democrats are moving into this Republican building. 

REID:  You mean like when he moved his kids in and said they had apartments? 

L. O`DONNELL:  Every vote we`ve seen Nancy Pelosi bring in the house of representatives has picked up Republican votes. 

REID:  That`s right. 

L. O`DONNELL:  It has pulled Republicans away from Donald Trump, not lost a single Democrat. 

REID:  Yes, because unlike Donald Trump, particularly, you know, Republicans who are up in 2020, and that senators and all the house members, they can`t afford not to care.  They at least have to pretend to care because their constituents aren`t going to call Donald Trump, they`re going to call them. 

I want to say one quick thing about what Mr. O`Donnell had to say because there is a chorus of people who do a both sides thing.  Both sides aren`t moving.  The problem that I think, you know, I see with that, just looking at it from a constitutional point of view, the money that Congress is given by the taxpayer is not just behavior modification material, it`s the fiduciary duty of Congress to spend that money wisely. 

You don`t just say just give him some money so he`ll stop hurting people.  That`s not what the money is for.  A wall does not cost $5.7 billion.  It would cost tens of billions of dollars. 

How do people think he will get the next $5 billion?  If he extracts each $5 billion up to -- if it costs $100 million including the lawsuits and the takings clause, is he going to come back 20 times and put people at risk of being evicted and being hungry? 

In March, 40 million people will not get food stamps.  Already a lot of retailers who normally take EBT cards, meaning the to the food you can eat, that`s all you can buy with food stamps, can`t take the payments.  People are going to be hungry.  People are going to be miserable. 

The money that Congress has been given us is not behavior modification tools.  It`s not a binky.  It`s not there to make Donald Trump behave.  It`s tax money that the Congress has a duty to spend only on things that are needed.  A wall -- no one, even Republicans don`t think it`s needed. 

L. O`DONNELL:  Barbara, Tom Malinowski, who`s a freshman member of Congress from New Jersey, said today that we can`t possibly make any kind of compromise with Donald Trump to re-open the government.  We can discuss compromise with him after we re-open the government, but we have to teach him to never shut down the government again.  If Donald Trump gets anything from the shutdown, that will be a disaster going forward because he`ll do it again. 

RES:  I tend to agree with that.  I think they have him in a corner, and the only way -- the one thing I think is that there has to be a way to get him out, not gracefully because he won`t, but in situations where he can at least pander to the few people who want to follow him and do what he says.  So maybe come up with some kind of idea that he can say, I came in and I made the arrangements, I did the settlement, I was the one who took the high road, I made this happen and maybe he`ll -- maybe he`ll do something and everybody will look at him and point and say ridiculous. 

L. O`DONNELL:  Jack, does this resemble any of the corners you`ve seen Donald Trump in when he`s in a tough deal, when you were working with him in business?  Was he ever in a box this tight? 

J. O`DONNELL:  Well, I don`t know if it was this tight.  And it certainly wasn`t on this stage.  But the tragedy of this, Lawrence, is exactly what was just stated, is that this is on the backs of the American people and it`s not just the 800,000 government employees.  Trump has literally turned these people into a political human shield for himself, to protect that small base that he has, the 36 percent or whatever it is that support him regardless of what he does. 

And that`s the shame of this.  This is a -- this is -- that`s what they have become to him, political human shields, and, quite frankly, the American people at some point are all going to get it.  And I think we`re going to see marches over this. 

L. O`DONNELL:  Jack O`Donnell, thank you very much for joining us tonight.  As I say, Jack is not a relative.  Actually, Jack, I suppose if we traced it back 1,000 years, we`d find each other somewhere in Ireland. 

Barbara Res, thank you for joining us. 

And, Joy, please stay with us for a conversation later.  We`re going to talk about Kamala Harris` campaign when we come back. 

Also, when we come back, Congressman Eric Swalwell will join us with his reactions to the shutdown and also today`s developments on Michael Cohen`s testimony to Congress.  Michael Cohen has asked to delay his testimony citing fears for his family because of President Trump`s attacks on him and his family.  Emily Jane Fox will join us with her reporting on what Michael Cohen will do next. 

And when he does testify to that congressional hearing, one of the members asking the questions will be the newest member of that committee, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.  That is going to be a day in TV history.


O`DONNELL:  Today, we learned two big things about what is sure to be the worst day of this year for the Trump presidency.  The first thing we learned is that the worst day of this year of the Trump presidency is being rescheduled.  And the second thing we learned is that the most famous freshman in the House of Representatives since John Quincy Adams will be there. 

Today, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was named one of the new members of the House Oversight Committee.  That is the committee Michael Cohen is going to testify to in the House of Representatives.  So, Michael Cohen`s public testimony in the House of Representatives was already guaranteed to be the worst day of the Trump presidency this year.

But now, the anticipation of that hearing has intensified with the news that it will be Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez`s first turn in the spotlight of an already very important congressional hearing. 

That hearing is going to be rescheduled because Michael Cohen`s lawyers told Congress today that he would like to delay his testimony before the House Oversight Committee, which was scheduled for February 7th.  Our next guest, "Vanity Fair`s" Emily Jane Fox is reporting that Michael Cohen is still determined to testify before the House committee before he reports to begin his prison sentence on March 6th.  So some time before March 6th. 

Michael Cohen`s spokesperson Lanny Davis released this written explanation today: Due to ongoing threats to his family from president Trump and Mr. Giuliani as recently as this weekend, as well as Mr. Cohen`s continued cooperation with ongoing investigation, by advice of counsel, Mr. Cohen`s appearance will be postponed to a later date. 

President Trump has issued several intimidating tweets about Michael Cohen and his family, including things like this, lying to reduce his jail time.  Watch father-in-law. 

And the president uses Fox News to deliver threats to Michael Cohen and his family. 


TRUMP:  In order to get his sentenced reduced, he said, I have an idea.  I`ll tell -- I`ll give you some information on the president.  Well, there is no information. 

But he should give information, maybe on his father-in-law, because that`s the one that people want to look at, because where does that money -- that`s the money in the family.  I guess he didn`t want to talk about his father-in-law.  He`s trying to get his sentenced reduced.

So, it`s pretty sad.  You know, it`s weak and it`s very sad to watch a thing like that.  I couldn`t care less. 

JEANINE PIRRO, FOX NEWS HOST:  What is his father-in-law`s name? 

TRUMP:  I don`t know but you`ll find out and you`ll look into it because nobody knows what`s going on over there. 


O`DONNELL:  In a joint statement, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Elijah Cummings and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, said today after Michael Cohen requested a delay in his appearance before Congress, they said this, our nation`s laws prohibit efforts to discourage, intimidate or otherwise pressure a witness not to provide testimony before Congress.  The president should make no statement or take any action to obstruct Congress` independent oversight and investigative efforts, including by seeking to discourage any witness from testifying in response to a duly authorized request from Congress. 

Joining us our discussion now, Barbara McQuade, former federal prosecutor, and Emily Jane Fox, senior editor for "Vanity Fair" and the author of "Born Trump."  They are both MSNBC contributors.

And, Emily, what do we know about why Michael Cohen requested this delay and what`s going to happen next?  What is Michael Cohen`s thinking on what happens next? 

EMILY JANE FOX, SENIOR EDITOR, VANITY FAIR:  I think we should start thinking about this as a test case.  This is about Michael Cohen and this is about the president`s language and threats that he has used about Michael Cohen, not just last weekend in his fox news interviews, but over the last couple of months he has been tweeting about him repeatedly.  Every time he`s asked about him, he basically calls him a liar.  His attorney Rudy Giuliani has called him a serial liar serially across various interviews on every single network and in every single newspaper. 

But what Cohen is basically doing now is he is saying to Congress, I am not going to come and if you subpoena me, I will come but I won`t necessarily answer all your questions unless you take action to make sure that these kinds of threats will not be permitted.  Not only to protect his family, which is always something that he has stressed is incredibly important to him, but as a larger message that this is wrong that the president is doing it.  It is possibly illegal to witness tamper in this kind of way, and I think this is really a test to see -- if this is going to happen to Michael Cohen, this could happen to any witness that Congress calls. 

O`DONNELL:  Is he going to testify? 

FOX:  I think he`s only going to testify unless there is some action taken that would assure him that these kinds of threats will not be carried out going forward. 

O`DONNELL:  Barbara McQuade, what action could be taken? 

BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY:  Well, you know, there`s the ultimate action that could be taken is to impeach the president for witness tampering.  I don`t think anyone`s going to go that far in this situation.  Although I think you could make out a case that he satisfies the elements of the federal criminal statue for witness tampering, to intimidate a witness with intent to interfere with their testimony.  So that would be one thing. 

I mean, another would be to subpoena Michael Cohen to appear and testify regardless of the fact that President Trump is tweeting and making these statements about him.  But unless one of those things happens, I don`t know -- we may still find ourselves in this standoff. 

O`DONNELL:  Has Michael Cohen indicated what action would -- he would be satisfied with that the Congress might be able to take? 

FOX:  I think that there are -- I think that there are only a handful of actions that you can take that would be serious enough.  I think those actions would have to be something like holding him accountable for witness tampering or obstruction of justice. 

O`DONNELL:  And, Barbara, so now it`s starting to sound like if those are Michael Cohen`s conditions, I don`t see how they can be met, unless possibly a resolution -- Nancy Pelosi could get a resolution passed through the house of representatives, basically condemning the president`s conduct toward Michael Cohen, rebuking the president`s conduct toward Michael Cohen and witnesses generally that the House of Representatives is interested in.  That seems like something that Nancy Pelosi could get written and get through the House of Representatives pretty quickly. 

MCQUADE:  Yes, you know, in a normal administration and normal times, what usually happens when there is sort of this constitutional butting of heads is that leadership tries to work out some sort of an agreement so that one side will stand down.  As we`ve seen with the shutdown, it doesn`t seem like that kind of agreement is going to happen here. 

What I think is more likely to happen is that Michael Cohen`s testimony will be delayed.  One benefit of delaying his testimony, I think, is Robert Mueller`s investigation, and until that is completed, I think that Robert Mueller would prefer that Michael Cohen not speak publicly about all of the things that is being swirling around in BuzzFeed and some of these other things until he is ready to share that with the public.  And at that time maybe things simmer down such that Michael Cohen is not the greatest threat to Donald Trump. 

O`DONNELL:  So, Emily, this could be a longer delay than just a few weeks before he goes to prison. 

FOX:  It could be, but that would mean potentially moving back when he`s due to report to prison.  The time when he was supposed to testify for Congress was four weeks before he`s supposed to submit himself and go to prison.  So there is not a lot of time, unless that then gets moved back. 

But we also have to step back and realize as this is going on, as Cohen has been spending hours with his attorneys preparing to testify before Congress, he`s also been meeting with investigators, continuing to cooperate --

O`DONNELL:  Still?

FOX:  Still, recently.  Continuing --

O`DONNELL:  Recently meeting with investigators.

FOX:  Continuing --

O`DONNELL:  Is that the Mueller team or the Southern District of New York team?

FOX:  And the attorney general of New York.

O`DONNELL:  And the attorney general of New York?  The state`s interest in Michael Cohen?

FOX:  In my reporting today, I found out that he has been continuing to meet with all of these investigating bodies, as he is preparing to report to Congress at some point if he does testify.  He also got shoulder surgery on Friday.  And so there is just a lot that`s been going on in Cohen`s orbit.   And on top of it, the president has been continuing to publicly attack him and his family members.

O`DONNELL:  We`re going to know eventually everything Michael Cohen knows with all of these investigators.  We just don`t yet know when or even at this point what year that will be when we discover all that.

Emily Jane Fox, Barbara McQuade, thank you for joining us tonight on this important story.

And when we come back, how will House Democrats deal with President Trump attempting to interfere in their investigations?  We`ve just heard Emily Jane Fox tell us that Michael Cohen needs to see some action taken to protect him.

I will ask Congressman Eric Swalwell what Congress can do now.



REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D-MD), CHAIRMAN OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE:  We have not decided exactly how we will proceed from here.  But I guarantee you, as sure as night becomes day and day becomes night, that we will hear from Mr. Cohen.  Period.


O`DONNELL:  Joining us now, Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell from California.  He`s a member of the House Intelligence Committee and the Judiciary Committee.

Congressman Swalwell, we just heard Emily Jane Fox`s reporting from Michael Cohen`s team saying that he wants to see the Congress take action to protect him against Donald Trump`s threats against him and his family, particularly his father-in-law, who the president threatens individually, publicly.

What can you and the Congress do to reassure Michael Cohen and to encourage him to testify, given that as Emily Jane Fox just reported, he wants to see some action taken?

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE AND JUDICIARY COMMITTEES:  America needs to hear from Michael Cohen.  He has a story to tell.  He was on the inside in all of the president`s -- in his personal, his professional, and political lives, and he has turned for good.  And we need to hear that story.

So good evening, Lawrence.  I would say that it`s not just a responsibility on Congress, but it`s also a responsibility that the special counsel has, particularly to protect a -- what looks like a pivotal witness in a criminal case.

And Lawrence, as we talk about this, of course, we`re talking about the president of the United States and his lawyer.  But as a former prosecutor, this is no different than talking to someone who left a street gang and they`re testifying against the kingpin.  I`ve seen this so many times where, you know, they want to do the right thing then they start to get the threats, they start to get the pressure.

And you`ve got to convince them, you know, first, you`ve got to protect yourself.  We`ll do all we can to protect you.  That`s going to have to happen.  But that doing the right thing is the best thing that you can do for yourself and your family and not letting these individuals be rewarded with this kind of street intimidation technique.

O`DONNELL:  You know, if I were working on the staff of the House Oversight Committee now, today, I would have drafted for the chairman a House resolution rebuking the president for his witness intimidation conduct publicly, citing these incidences on "Fox News" and elsewhere and specifically what he said about Michael Cohen and Michael Cohen`s family.  And I would have brought that to the speaker right away and asked that the House of Representatives vote on that.

SWALWELL: I`ll leave that to, you know, Chairman Cummings.  He`s a pro when it comes to this.  He`s working.  And I can tell you firsthand, he`s working, you know, in a teamwork framework with Chairman Nadler and Chairman Schiff because Mr. Cohen kind of crosses into all three of those committees.

So we have to protect first the Mueller investigation and the witnesses in that investigation.  If the special counsel`s not able to do it because of limitations that the president and the attorney general are putting on them, you`re absolutely right, Lawrence, we should do all we can.  He is a pivotal witness here who will give us a window into the lies of the Trump Organization and what was going on with the Russians.

O`DONNELL:  What I think we both know is that we are eventually going to know everything that Michael Cohen has testified to and everything that he`s told investigators and the Southern District of New York, the state attorney general in New York State.  As we just heard, he`s still actively cooperating with them, as well as the special counsel, who he still actively cooperates with.

They will eventually reveal what they`ve found, but Congress` urgency to know what Michael Cohen knows has other dimensions to it that are different from prosecutors.  So we can all know -- we can all have the comfort of knowing we will eventually know, but Congress has a different level of urgency that the president seems to understand that.


O`DONNELL:  And that`s why he seems to want to delay what Congress is doing.

SWALWELL:  We have a different level of urgency and we also have a different responsibility, Lawrence.  You know, the prosecutors can only tell the American people what they can prove beyond a reasonable doubt.  We have to make sure we, you know, protect the institution of justice, the institutions of the rule of law, our freedoms, and democracy.

And so we`re not restrained by that burden.  And so, yes, I think we have to have a parallel investigation.  We don`t want to get in the way of the Mueller investigation, but also recognize that it`s very likely that acting Attorney General Whitaker and perhaps the new attorney general Barr will not be working with our interests aligned in finding out truly what happened.  So we have to, I think, bravely and boldly pursue that parallel track to find out just what happened.

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

SWALWELL:  My pleasure.  Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL:  And coming up, as you saw at the beginning of this program, at the end of Rachel`s program, Senator Kamala Harris is already making news in her first week as a candidate for president.  She joined Rachel tonight and had a second or two on this show before saying goodnight.

Joy Reid will join us and we will discuss the new candidacy for president, Senator Kamala Harris.


O`DONNELL:  Here is Senator Kamala Harris in her first appearance on MSNBC as a presidential candidate with Rachel Maddow tonight, when Rachel asked her a commander-in-chief question about keeping troops in Afghanistan.


RACHEL MADDOW, HOST, THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW:  Do you think that we should keep troops in Afghanistan?  The president seems to want to withdraw a large number of them but it`s not clear that`s going to happen.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA:  So I do not and I believe that we need to do it, though, in a responsible way and that is not what the president has done.  He has been conducting foreign policy through tweets, instead of what a commander-in-chief should do, which is understand the seriousness and the severity of one`s decisions and then put the time and the effort into studying an issue, consulting with their experts, be it generals, be it foreign policy experts, be it ambassadors and members of the state department, and our allies to make a decision.

Instead of this approach that assumes that we`re the only one in the room or that he`s the only one in the room.  I was in Afghanistan days before he made that decision, and, Rachel, when I was there, I spoke with generals and I spoke with troops.

There was an active conversation happening around negotiating what should be the future of Afghanistan.  And then out of nowhere, the president makes his decision.  It was irresponsible.

O`DONNELL:  After a break, Joy Reid will join us on the predictable rise of Kamala Harris from San Francisco district attorney to California attorney general to California`s junior United States senator to a presidential campaigner.

And I know that was all predictable because I predicted all of that back when she was San Francisco`s district attorney.  But there won`t be any gloating when Joy Reid joins us in just a moment.



MADDOW:  You have only been in the Senate --

HARRIS:  A great deal of respect.

MADDOW:  Why so fast?  Why would you -- why are you willing to move on from this job so fast, you just got there?

HARRIS:  November of 2016.  And in terms of my background, I have served in local government, I have served in state government and now in federal government.  I understand how these systems work and I understand how it is not working right now with this current administration and how it is impacting people at every level of our society, much less government.


O`DONNELL:  Joy Reid is back with us. And Joy, I`m trying to think, I`m just trying to think of whoever ran for president after two years in the Senate?

REID:  That`s a good question.

O`DONNELL:  I can`t --

REID:  I think someone from Illinois.

O`DONNELL:  Oh, yes, Barack Obama.  Oh, yes, yes, and which means that if she wins, she will have then served four years in the Senate --

REID:  Right.

O`DONNELL:  -- like Barack Obama.  But, in fact, in her governing resume, she has more experience and more varied experience than President Obama had before --

REID:  Yes.

O`DONNELL:  -- he entered the Senate.  He had just been a state legislator.  She had been a district attorney.  She then statewide was elected as an attorney general.

REID:  Right.

O`DONNELL:  And then United States Senator.  So here she is, the campaign that I thought was inevitable the very first time I saw her campaigning in California 10 years ago.  Here we are.

REID:  The moment she burst on the national scene, she gave you kind of a lot of the same grace notes that you got with President Obama, right?  This interesting resume, interesting background, a multiethnic background that`s sort of interesting.

And I tend to think about politics a little differently is that to me, the shorter your federal resume, the better off you are, right.  Because opposition research is the first thing you have to think about when you`re running for president.  What will people use in ads against me?

Rachel Maddow very wisely asked her about two of them, three of them really, and her answers to those were interesting.  The death penalty issue, which will be an opposition ad.  The Republicans will run a Willie Horton-style campaign about the fact she did not seek the death penalty against the person who killed an officer named Espinoza.

The crime lab issue, which came up when there were flaws in a crime lab or actually misconduct and she didn`t -- and she threw out the cases.  Yep, Republicans are going to use that.  She answered that tonight.

And criminal justice reform, which is going to be what the other side gets her on.  The thing Kamala Harris is facing right now is -- are people on the left, particularly younger people of color who are saying Kamala is a cop, that Kamala prosecuted people, she`s a prosecutor so we don`t trust her.

I think that`s the core issue she has to answer in the primary.  She has to come up with an explanation for what her record means for her thoughts on criminal justice reform.  If she can get through that, that short resume`s actually helpful.  There`s not a lot more than that tor the oppo research. . O`DONNELL:  I think what our recent politics has certainly taught us and maybe it was a lesson we should have learned sooner, is that really ultimately this no longer matters.  The modern voter in the last cycle cared nothing about your past.  They did not care that Bernie Sanders was an NRA --

REID:  Who voted for the crime bill.

O`DONNELL:  -- who was, you know, voting the way the NRA wanted him to as a Vermont senator.  They didn`t care that he did that in the past because he said that`s not where he was anymore.

You look at Trump.  His entire past was opposed to what he was saying as a candidate.  They didn`t care.  They didn`t care what his position on abortion was in the past.  They just cared what is it now and what is it going to be as president?

And so I suspect that any candidate`s best answers to past questions are going to be this is what I will do as president, and this is what I support as president, this is what I think as president.

REID:  And you know, while I rarely disagree with you, Lawrence O`Donnell, the one caveat to that is they care more when you`re a woman, right.  Hillary Clinton got tagged for the crime bill.  She was the first lady.  She didn`t even vote on it.  Like her husband did the crime bill and she could not escape it.

So you still I think as a woman, the burdens are higher.  The ceiling is higher.  The level of attack is higher.  And so I think that Kamala Harris has to be prepared for that as a woman candidate and a candidate of color.

So she`s got these double things working in her disfavor in terms of unfortunately where we are as a culture.  But in her favor, on the other hand, is a change election like we will have in 2020.  Typically has the electorate saying give me the furthest thing from what`s in there now.

George W. Bush and Barack Obama, give me the furthest thing.  McCain, not far enough, give me further change.  Which is why you can see that there are some people who voted for both Obama and Trump because they just say give me more change.

She is the furthest change, right, from President Donald Trump.  And she also is an answer to some of the things people are the most alarmed about.  She`s a prosecutor.  Maybe a prosecutor could prosecute the Donald Trump experience and what he`s done and be the one to be able to interrogate his presidency better than anyone else.  So there are ways that she can even use some of the things people use against her in her favor.

O`DONNELL:  Yes.  And the thing about campaigning in California is it is the most competitive, most difficult market you can compete in other than the national campaign.  It has more high-value TV markets than any other state in the union.  It is the most expensive place to campaign.

So any statewide campaign in California is a warm-up for this is how it works in the big game.  And she did it as attorney general.  She`s done it on Senate campaigns.  So that`s a kind of training that the other candidates don`t have.

REID:  And the fact that California-- you showed last night that super Tuesday map, brutal.  So you`re going to have to win place or show in at least probably two of those first four contests just to have the money, fund-raising ability to get into California.

And California happens at the same time as Texas and lots of other races.  So you got to have the half.  The fact that the field so far is clear, we don`t know what Eric Garcetti is going to do, the Los Angeles mayor, but right now she`d be the only California Candidate.

She would have some advantages naturally going into South Carolina because she`s African-American.  She also gives you sort of double, right, because she`s also Asian-American.  Her mom was of Indian background.

So she`s giving you so much that gives her cachet.  And California`s early.  So you almost feel like maybe the gods are trying to make it a little easier for her.  That is an advantage but she`s also got to do the hard work of politics.

O`DONNELL:  Yes.  California`s always been at the end of the calendar.  They got tired of that.  They got tired of not mattering so much.  They moved it up.  And now they`ve got a California senator in the race.

Joy Reid, thank you for joining us tonight.  Really appreciate it.

Tonight`s last word is next.


O`DONNELL:  Tonight`s last word goes to Virginia`s Junior Senator, Tim Kaine, who once again tried another Kaine mutiny on the Senate floor and made a move today that by definition is reserved -- by tradition is reserved only for the majority leader.


The senator from Virginia.

SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VIRGINIA):  Madam President, I ask unanimous consent that the Senate proceed with immediate consideration of calendar item number 5, hr-21, making appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2019.  I further ask that the vote be considered a third time and passed and the motion to reconsider be considered set aside and laid upon the table with no intervening action or debate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Is there objection?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Objection is heard.

KAINE:  Madam president.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Senator from Virginia.

KAINE:  Madam President, I rise to discuss the effects of the federal government shutdown.


O`DONNELL:  Didn`t work once again.