LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
And while you were working, "The New York Times" has once again reported an interview, an exclusive interview in the Oval Office tonight with Donald Trump. It is the same newspaper that he calls the failing "New York Times." But somehow he just can`t stop talking to them.
And there`s amazing things in here. He talks about basically giving up on trying to make a deal on the wall. He actually praises Kamala Harris as a presidential candidate while attacking Elizabeth Warren. He goes on to talk about claims that Rod Rosenstein told his lawyers that he the president is not a target of investigation, and a bunch of things.
Also, also there`s a point, a spot in here I just want to read to you where the president claims that being president of the United States has been very costly for him financially. That his company is just losing money because of this horrible curse of the presidency.
He says, I lost massive amounts of money doing this job, he said. This is not the money -- this is one of the great money losers of all time. You know, fortunately, I don`t need money.
This is one of the great losers of all time. But they`ll say that somebody from some country stayed at the hotel and I`ll say, yes, but I lose. I mean, the numbers are incredible.
So there you have it. You don`t need the tax returns, Rachel. He said he`s losing money. It`s just --
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": I can just see the presidential challenge coin right now. President Donald Trump, one of the great money losers of all time, and then with the dates of his presidency on it. I would buy that trinket, for good money.
O`DONNELL: I`m sure he`s going to show us all the tax returns of the companies and his personal tax returns that prove what a loser this presidency thing has been for the Trump businesses.
MADDOW: Well, you know what? He does have an option. It`s not a mandatory job. Nobody`s forcing him to stay in it if it really does suck that bad.
O`DONNELL: True. Mike Pence looks ready to go. He always does.
Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Bye, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Well, we have breaking news tonight from the "New York Times" as I said, the newspaper that Donald Trump likes to call the failing "New York Times." It is the very same newspaper that Donald Trump repeatedly invites into the Oval Office for exclusive interviews when he is feeling most desperate about getting his message out there. The president knows that what he says to Fox News has no reach beyond Fox News.
But he is obviously a lifetime believer in the power of the "New York Times," as are most people who grow up in New York, as Donald Trump did.
"The Times`" exclusive report from the Oval Office tonight by Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman quotes the president as saying that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has said the president is not a target of the Mueller investigation.
Quote: He told me -- he told the attorneys that I`m not a subject, I`m not a target. When asked if he is a target of federal prosecutors in New York City, the president said, I don`t know about that.
The president told "The Times" that he has given up on negotiations with Congress for his border wall and he made it very clear in the interview that he fears Elizabeth Warren most as a presidential candidate. He did that by attacking Elizabeth Warren, using what the "New York Times" described as the president`s, quote, "favorite slur" for Elizabeth Warren, and he praised the candidacy of Senator Kamala Harris.
"The Times" notes that the president does not know how to pronounce her name. The president said: I would say the best opening so far would be Kamala Harris. A better crowd, better crowd, better enthusiasm.
That doesn`t mean that the president would prefer to run against Kamala Harris. It simply means his number one priority right now is to hurt the Warren candidacy. Senator Harris will surely come in for her sure of Trump attacks. That`s the way Donald Trump did it last time. He picked the person he perceived to be the front-runner in the Republican primaries, Republican candidate Jeb Bush, and he attacked him relentlessly until he drove down Jeb Bush`s poll numbers, and then in sequence, attacked every candidate left standing after Jeb Bush.
"The Times" reports that the president said he had, quote, summoned his intelligence chiefs including Dan Coats, the national intelligence director, and Gina Haspel, the CIA director, to the White House because he had heard they contradicted his foreign policy during testimony to Congress this week.
But that meeting actually made it looked as if Chuck Schumer was in charge of White House scheduling. Because at this hour last night, we brought you what was then the breaking news, that the Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer sent a letter to Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, urging him, urging him to have, quote, an immediate meeting with the president to educate him about the facts and raw intelligence underlying the intelligence community assessments.
Chuck Schumer`s letter came at the end of a day in which the president openly attacked and insulted all of the leaders of our intelligence agencies and everyone working in those agencies. In one tweet he screamed, they are wrong, exclamation point. In another the president said that people working in intelligence should go back to school. The president launched that attack the day after the heads of those agencies testified to the Senate and presented intelligence assessments that completely disagree with what President Trump has said about North Korea and Iran and ISIS.
The president did not attack their testimony on the day that they gave that testimony. It was only after the president saw the news media reaction to the directors` complete disagreement with the president that the president angrily attacked his FBI director, his CIA director, and his director of national intelligence, Dan Coats.
Senator Schumer`s letter to Dan Coats ended this way: The president is putting you and your colleagues in an untenable position and hurting the national interest in the process. You must find a way to make that clear to him.
And here is the picture today of Dan Coats trying to, as Chuck Schumer put it, make that clear to the president, to educate the president. That meeting was demanded by Chuck Schumer. Much has been written, perhaps most authoritatively in Bob Woodward`s book, about just how uneducable president Trump is. Sources inside the White House have told Woodward and others that it is impossible to educate the president. And much of the public knows that.
And Senator Schumer`s letter seems to deliberately play off of that public knowledge, that the president cannot be educated. The president proved that once again today with his report on the meeting in which Dan Coats and the director of the CIA, Gina Haspel, tried to educate him.
Just concluded a great meeting with my intel team in the Oval Office, who told me that what they said on Tuesday at the Senate hearing was mischaracterized by the media and we are very much in agreement on Iran, ISIS, North Korea, et cetera. Their testimony was distorted.
It is theoretically possible to mischaracterize and distort what happened in a Senate hearing. And that is why the Senate keeps transcripts of all of their hearings and almost every Senate hearing is recorded on video. And so, you can always check what was really said.
But there is no video recording of the president`s meeting in the oval office today. There is no transcript of it. But you can be absolutely sure that the president is mischaracterizing the meeting when he says that the intelligence directors told him that their testimony was mischaracterized by the media. Their testimony was not mischaracterized by the media. It was shown by the media, on video. So you got to see just how wrong the intelligence directors say the president of the United States is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAN COATS, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: ISIS is intent on resurging and still commands thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And we have won against ISIS. We`ve beaten them and we`ve beaten them badly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: We`ve all seen President Trump tell the world that he believes Vladimir Putin and that Russia did not attack our Democratic process in the 2016 presidential election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: He just said it`s not Russia. I will say this: I don`t see any reason why it would be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The reason why it would be is that everyone in the American intelligence community has told President Trump repeatedly that Russia did it, Russia is guilty, Russia attacked our campaign processes in 2016. And yesterday, the president`s FBI director said Russia is still doing it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: Not only have the Russians continued to do it in 2018 but we`ve seen indication that they`re continuing to adapt their model.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The president also tweeted today that after that meeting today, he said, I would suggest you read the complete testimony from Tuesday. A false narrative is so bad for our country. I value our intelligence community. Happily, we had a very good meeting and we are all on the same page.
Here`s a page that no one else in the world is on, except Donald Trump. There is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea. For Dan Coats and the other leaders of our intelligence community to be on the same page with Donald Trump, they would have to have said to him today in that intervention you saw in the Oval Office that there is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea.
Here`s what Dan Coats said to the Senate about that on Tuesday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COATS: We currently assess that North Korea will seek to retain its WMD capabilities and is unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capabilities because its leaders ultimately view nuclear weapons as critical to regime survival.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: So what are you going to believe? What Dan Coats said in public to the United States Senate or what Donald Trump claims Dan Coats said to him in private, in the Oval Office?
Leading off our discussion now, Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell from California. He`s a member of the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees. And Jason Johnson, politics editor at theroot.com and an MSNBC contributor.
Congressman Swalwell, first of all, the president`s characterization of this meeting today in the oval office in which the only source we have on this is the president, no transcript, no video, and he`s saying that the intelligence chiefs came in there and said to him we didn`t say any of those things that are now on video that we`ve all seen them say.
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Well, good evening, Lawrence. So telling is that the president did not watch that hearing which I and so many others watched to learn about our worldwide threats because if he had watched he would have seen that they laid out the threats that we face.
What is most concerning, though, is that the threats that the president believes face us are phantom threats and he`s putting up walls to protect against them and those walls on the southern border would only divide us and destroy the symbol of America being welcoming. But he`s not allowing us to have the walls that we need for our true threats, the walls of a cyber defense against Russia, the walls of an alliance of NATO to counter any threat from Russia or other countries. The walls that we would need economically to take on China.
The president, you know, has us afraid of threats that are not there and turns us against each other. And we are almost defenseless against emerging threats that could truly destroy us economically and security- wise.
O`DONNELL: Jason Johnson, let`s listen to something that Nancy Pelosi said today about this conflict between the president and the intelligence chiefs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The president just doesn`t seem to have the attention span or the desire to hear what the intelligence community has been telling him. So for him to make this statement that he did yesterday, that`s cause for concern.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Jason Johnson, I was on the hill today and I have been given every reason to believe that this language is being very carefully chosen by Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. Nancy Pelosi there using the phrase "attention span"; Chuck Schumer using the phrase "educate him"; because they believe that the public believes that the president does not have the attention span and it is impossible to educate him.
JASON JOHNSON, POLITICAL EDITOR, THEROOT.COM: Low I.Q., low energy, attention span. Apparently, no one just wants to say stupid because that`s really what they`re saying. They want to say that they really believe that the president of the United States is too stupid and too undisciplined to follow the basic rules and guidance and advice that`s coming from the security chiefs, after he has spent the last two years and most of his presidency attacking them.
But, Lawrence, what I find more disturbing, and this is a consistent thing about this president, is his penchant for lying. His penchant that even when it can be proven that he is lying, even when someone is speaking to him, even when he has been proven to be incorrect, he`ll just spin the story.
He`s a guy who can be in the pits of hell and be like I turned them to turn the heat up and I like pitchforks, right? Like it doesn`t matter what people tell him. That`s what`s most disturbing.
It doesn`t just send a dangerous message to all of the national security people we work with, but it sends a dangerous message to all of our allies abroad, that this president when you talk to him can`t be trusted to not only leak information to possibly Russia and then to China, but also he will mischaracterize your conversation that ways that could be dangerous to intelligence gathering around the world.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Swalwell, I want to get your reaction to some of the other things the president said to the "New York Times" tonight, one being that he`s basically just given up on the negotiations with Congress about funding the wall.
SWALWELL: Yes. He called the wall talks a waste of time. And actually, Lawrence, only an authoritative figure would think that collaboration and God forbid Republicans and Democrats sorting out border security would be a waste of time. You know, I know in Washington oftentimes governance is about theater than policy. And, you know, there has been an obsession over Donald Trump getting schooled in the "art of the deal", and that probably happened.
But the truth is governance is about testing ideas. And the idea of a wall was tested and it failed because it`s just a bad ineffective idea. The idea of using a shutdown to get around the legislative process was tested. It failed because it hurts people and it`s a bad idea.
Democracy is a great idea, and if we use it, we can make sure that government helps people in their everyday lives. And I think Donald Trump is going to learn that the hard way.
O`DONNELL: And, Jason, I want to get a quick reaction from the "New York Times" reporting where president Trump attacks Elizabeth Warren, does the vicious stuff and uses the slurs, but then in the same interview tries to say and does say positive things about Kamala Harris.
JOHNSON: Yes. In addition to still not being able to pronounce Senator Harris`s name correctly.
Look, it`s very obvious the president is concerned about running against Elizabeth Warren in the same way he was concerned about running against Hillary Clinton. Not that this in any way slights Senator Harris but he doesn`t necessarily think she`s a concern.
But also remember, Lawrence, he puts it in terms of pageantry. She had the best first act. She had the best performance. I don`t think this man realizes that elections have consequences and even if he sees this as a reality show that show might result in him getting canceled in 2020 if his ratings don`t look better than Harris`s or Warren`s or Booker`s or anybody else who runs.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Eric Swalwell, Jason Johnson, thank you both for joining us tonight.
We are staying with this breaking news from the "New York Times" tonight. "The Times" has just posted a portion of audio of their interview, exclusive interview in the Oval Office with President Trump tonight.
Here is the president talking with Peter Baker about Nancy Pelosi and the fight over the border wall.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think Nancy Pelosi is hurting our country very badly by doing what she`s doing. And, ultimately, I think I`ve set the table very nicely.
I think people understand. Well, they understand, Peter, they didn`t know what was going on at the southern border. Now they know. They had no idea the amount of crime, the amount of drugs, the amount of human trafficking, which can be stopped with the proper system.
I`ve set the table. I`ve set the stage for doing what I`m going to do.
PETER BAKER, REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: You`re going to wait out 21 days before --
TRUMP: Yes, I`m going to wait until the 15th. I think it`s a waste of time.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That audio was just released by the "New York Times." It`s just a portion of their interview with President Trump tonight.
And today, the president admitted something that no president before him ever has. The president has given up. Presidents are never supposed to give up. They are always supposed to continue to try to govern to the best of their abilities and to push the country and the Congress in the direction they think we should go.
But today, the president said he`s given up on trying to make a deal with Congress about his border wall. He also said that in his "New York Times" interview tonight. Of course, the president will be challenged in court if he tries to declare a national emergency to build his wall.
This morning on "Morning Joe", Congressman Adam Schiff said that he thinks he knows what exhibit A will be in that court fight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: The fact that none of the intel chiefs brought up a threat at the southern border as being one of the most pressing threats facing the country, that could be exhibit A in a challenge to any kind of a declaration of a national emergency, the fact that none of our intelligence agencies think it`s an emergency, the fact that Congress on both parties don`t think this is an emergency. I think if anything this is going to undermine the legal case the president is going to try to make. That hearing yesterday could be a central exhibit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now, Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the liberty and national security program at the Brennan Center for Justice. Also with us, Maria Teresa Kumar, president and CEO of Voto Latino, and an MSNBC contributor.
Elizabeth, I`d like to start with you. You`ve written about the president`s authority to use the National Emergency Act to try to go in here and build the wall.
What do we need to know about that?
ELIZABETH GOITEIN, LIBERTY AND NATIONAL SECURITY PROGRAM CO-DIRECTOR: So, the National Emergencies Act was passed in 1976. It gives the president incredibly broad discretion to declare a national emergency. There`s no definition of national emergency in the statute. There`s no criteria he has to meet.
And once he declares that emergency, the special provisions of about 123 different laws become available to him. And those laws give him sometimes very extraordinary powers to do things in all areas of government, ranging from military deployments to agriculture to communications. And so, it really is an incredibly powerful statute with very few checks and balances.
O`DONNELL: But isn`t it all written in the anticipation that the president has to have emergency powers when a response is necessary and Congress is unavailable to in any way respond itself?
GOITEIN: That`s exactly right. I mean, the whole point of emergency powers is not to displace Congress or get around the will of Congress. It`s to give the president a little more flexibility in situations where a crisis is unfolding so quickly that Congress really has no time to act. So these are authorities that Congress has granted in advance for those situations when things are just unfolding so fast.
And in a situation where Congress has plenty of time because President Trump keeps saying, I`m going to give Congress more time, more time. And then not only has that time but actually votes not to give the president this kind of authority, then it`s just a tremendous abusive emergency powers. And I think in this situation quite likely unconstitutional.
O`DONNELL: Yes, because then the president is just trying to get around a negative vote by Congress. Congress has voted against what he wants to do with the emergency power.
GOITEIN: Absolutely. And Article 1 of the Constitution is very clear the president cannot spend funds that Congress has not appropriated. So, it`s very much an abuse of power.
The problem is that you know, this law, the National Emergencies Act, is written so incredibly broadly, without the checks and balances that we need, and so it`s going to end up being a very long, very pitched battle in the courts, and I`d like to say that the outcome is certain and that the courts will do the right thing. But I think, you know, it`s going to be up to this Supreme Court with five very conservative justices who have shown a tendency to really support strong executive power at least as exercised by this president.
O`DONNELL: Maria Teresa Kumar, so the end we see coming here is that the confreres who are meeting continue agree on some kind of spending, but does not include any money for the wall, continued funding the government, no money for the wall, they pass that through the House and the Senate, president Trump in effect just ends up signing it with no comment probably, no cameras around.
And then the president goes into this emergency mode and goes -- and invokes emergency in order to get the military to suddenly start building a wall on the southern border. That immediately gets challenged in court. And so, the wall becomes a court fight and the president is off the hook. He`s done everything he can.
MARIA TERESA KUMAR, VOTO LATINO: Right. And then, all of a sudden, he appeases the conservative base, the talking heads, saying look, he did what he said he was going to do. He tells his base, look, I just did what I was going to do. But I really need to emphasize the fact that this president is stress-testing every single branch of government, whether we`re talking about the judiciary, we`re talking about legislation works.
He`s constantly trying to circumvent the traditional processes, whether it`s opening up the government, actually presenting a bill that can be legislated against, that can be debated against on the House floor, on the Senate floor, about this wall, about immigration reform. I think if you were to talk to the majority of members of Congress, everyone would agree we need to modernize our immigration system. Everyone would agree we need to modernize how we have national security at the border.
They would agree we have to talk about the individuals that are living here in the shadows, the 11 million, and what future immigration is. But he doesn`t want to have that debate because that takes steps, that takes this also idea of political understanding of how condition works, and he has a formidable component -- individual against him which is Nancy Pelosi. She understands the intricacies of how you legislate not only literally but also behind the scenes. And I think that is something he is not ready to do toe to toe.
So what does he want to do? He wants to do this away from the cameras and then declare presidential authority. But the majority of the American people aren`t going to buy it, Lawrence. The American people, 3 million of them said I don`t want this immigration debate, I don`t want to fear monger.
When it came to the midterms, he got a shellacking because they weren`t buying this bit on the wall. And when it came to the government shutdown, they also said look, we don`t need a wall, we need to modernize our systems of immigration and our national security at the border but this is not the way to do it.
O`DONNELL: So, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer sit in the Oval Office and they tell the president no on the wall. And then the president ends up with his shutdown tantrum, says he`d be proud to have a shutdown. And then, Maria Teresa, we saw the president then try to find a semantic solution. He thought maybe if we just don`t call it a wall.
Let`s just listen to all of president Trump`s attempts to not call this a wall. And he thinks this is how you negotiate and actually get the wall. Let`s listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The only thing that`s going to stop that is great border security, with a wall, or a slat fence. Or whatever you want to call it.
And we`ll call it a barrier instead of a wall. And I`m OK with that too. I don`t care what you call it. But it`s got to be there.
The wall, the barrier, whatever you want to call, it`s OK with me. They could name it whatever they can name it. Peaches. I don`t care what they name it. But we need money for that barrier.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: So now --
KUMAR: Nancy --
O`DONNELL: Maria Teresa, he said he`s giving up today, right, completely giving up on the whole thing. He`s not calling it peaches anymore.
KUMAR: I was going to say.
O`DONNELL: And he issues a tweet saying let`s just call them walls from now on and stop playing political games, a wall is a wall. The only person playing political games with what you call this thing is the guy who was calling it peaches.
KUMAR: Right. And Nancy is not going to give him peaches. Let`s be frank.
And she`s still waiting for Mexico to pay for the wall. What did Steve Schmidt say earlier? Where are the pesos?
Like his not delivering on a campaign promise. And this is not the only one. There are several campaign promises he promised the American people that are not coming to fruition.
But this was his signature piece for his presidency. And he`s basically recognizing that the majority of the American people not only don`t want it but they now have a Congress that is planning on being the checks and balances that they promised to him and he`s going to have to basically level with the American people in saying look, you can throw whatever tantrum you want but at the end of the day the wall is not the primary issue.
The majority of American people want to figure out how do they continue job growth, how do they have access to health care, how do we have a smart immigration policy because we can all recognize it`s broken. The wall is just not going to cut it.
O`DONNELL: Maria Teresa Kumar and Elizabeth Goitein, thank you both for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it.
And when we come back, what special prosecutor Robert Mueller did today that tells us a lot about how much more of the Mueller investigation we will be covering and why Roger Stone could be the gift that keeps on giving to the Democratic presidential candidates.
O`DONNELL: More breaking news tonight from the president`s interview with "The New York Times." President Trump claims that he has received reassurances from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that the president is not a target or subject of Robert Mueller`s investigation. "He told the attorneys that I`m not a subject, I`m not a target," Mr. Trump said. Asked if that also covered the separate investigation by federal prosecutors in New York, he said, "I don`t know about that."
Trump also denied having ever spoken with his long-time associate Roger Stone about WikiLeaks and e-mails stolen from the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign. He went on to tell "The Times" that he`s always liked Roger Stone and that he considers him a character and that he believes Stone`s early morning arrest by the FBI was a very sad thing for this country.
Roger Stone`s newfound celebrity status is a dream come true for Roger Stone. Every head in the room swiveled when he walked in. That is according to the reliable source, gossip column in "The Washington Post" today. The heads were swiveling to see the man who is now living his dream, the dream of making heads swivel.
According to the reliable source, "just before noon Tuesday, Trump`s long- time friend and Political Adviser Roger Stone, fresh from pleading not guilty to charges relating to the Russia investigation, showed up to the Palm, a veteran steakhouse, with an entourage of lawyers, security guards, and a videographer.
"Every head in the room swiveled when he walked in," said a source in the Palm`s dining room. Not long after Stone showed up, another political operator walked into the famous dining room, Lanny Davis, Michael Cohen`s former lawyer and current adviser. Davis arrived after Stone and was surprised to be in the same room as the Trump pal.
The two men, the Trump loyalist and the lawyer who represented the guy who flipped on the president, were seated at opposite ends of the restaurant. The Palm is used to such sticky situations. But apparently, the discretion wasn`t necessary. Stone not only eventually made his way over to Davis`s table but the odd couple snapped more than a few photos together."
"The Washington Post`s" source`s take on the packed lunch hour? "This is like bizarro world." It is Roger Stone`s world, a world that craves fame. And when Roger Stone sees someone in that world, that also has even a little bit of fame, Roger Stone is drawn to that person`s fame.
Fame is the currency Roger Stone has always wanted to have. And he got it the hard way, thanks to Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, who in court today filed a motion indicating that the evidence in the indictments he has brought against Roger Stone is both voluminous and complex.
It is composed of multiple hard drives containing several terabytes of information consisting of among other things FBI case reports, search warrant applications, and results, bank and financial records, and the contents of numerous physical devices including cellular phones, computers, and hard drives.
The motion said that the evidence spans several years. The special counsel`s motion asked to designate the Roger Stone case as a complex case that is not subject to the speedy trial rules of federal court. Roger Stone`s lawyers agreed with the motion and the judge granted the motion.
So Roger Stone is not going to be scheduled for a speedy trial. So that means Roger Stone could be making heads swivel at the Palm for the rest of this year before he has to squeeze his lunch breaks into the lunch hour of a federal trial. That`s one indicator that reports that the Mueller investigation is close to completion could actually be many months premature.
After a break, we will get Former Federal Prosecutor Glenn Kirschner`s take on the court`s decision to delay the Roger Stone case today and what we learned about the evidence in the case. And Jason Johnson will consider what effect the new schedule for the Stone trial will have on the schedule of the presidential campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROGER STONE, LONG-TIME TRUMP ALLY: Yes, I did not coordinate anything with the Trump campaign pertaining to WikiLeaks. I did cover -- I did follow the story perhaps more closely than anyone else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was Roger Stone offering the short version of his defense to the news media today. But Robert Mueller`s court filing today indicates that the case is much more complex than that.
Joining our discussion now, Glenn Kirschner, former federal prosecutor, and an MSNBC legal analyst. Jason Johnson is back with us.
Glenn, translate the Mueller memo today, the motion to delay the trial.
GLENN KIRSCHNER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Sure, Lawrence. So the motion was basically an effort to get out from under the speedy trial clock, the 70-day trial deadline. And I think it`s interesting that Mueller was the one who filed the motion but the defense immediately threw up its hands and said, "You know what, we don`t need a speedy trial. We think this is a really complex case so we`re not even going to oppose your motion."
So it looks like both parties recognize that there`s still a lot of work to be done with respect to Roger Stone`s criminal behavior. Some of which he`s been charged with, some of which I think is probably still to come.
O`DONNELL: Any guess about what the trial date would end up being in this case?
KIRSCHNER: You know, my guess is that Roger Stone is going to fold like a cheap lawn chair and cooperate with the prosecutors ultimately unless he wants to die in prison. Absent that, if he really wants to beat his chest and stay strong, you`ll probably see a trial within about six months.
O`DONNELL: OK. And Jason Johnson, we will have the first Democratic presidential debates before six months. And so what interested me -- one of the things that interested me about this scheduling outcome today is this pushes the Roger Stone trial further into what will be a real presidential campaign. And boy, when you`re a candidate, you don`t want anybody on your side facing any criminal trial while the campaign`s going on.
JASON JOHNSON, POLITICS EDITOR, THEROOT.COM: You know, President Trump, Lawrence, is just going to be playing whack-a-mole every six or seven weeks during his campaign. Remember, it`s not just Roger Stone. It`s additional information out of Cohen. It`s additional things that may happen if and when we see indictments for Jared Kushner and Don Jr.
All of these things are going to start playing out into the fall. And day after day after day, as we move towards perhaps having 8, possibly 10, possibly 12 different Democrats who are going to be running for the Democratic nomination in 2020, there will be nothing to distinguish between the ongoing investigations of Donald Trump and regular campaign rhetoric from these different Democrats across the world.
If the president ever thought he was going to be able to escape this by distracting the public, it`s not going to work. When Castro was out talking about Trump in Iowa, when Harris is out talking about Trump in South Carolina, when Booker is out talking about Trump in Texas, the message that you have a corrupt president of the United States as we can tell every single time Roger Stone opens his mouth and does a training day, King Kong ain`t got nothing on me speech, this is going to be something that will constantly be in the public consciousness and it`s going to hurt this president when he tries to run for re-election.
O`DONNELL: Glenn, one thing the president said in his "New York Times" interview tonight is that "Rod Rosenstein told my lawyers that I am not a subject or a target of the Mueller investigation."
KIRSCHNER: Yes. And I don`t want to be glib but my first thought was I wonder if Rosenstein was wired up for that conversation. Because then, we might actually hear what was said.
But look, Lawrence, we have all seen the president play this game before. When he was standing at the door of Air Force One and reporters asked him, "Were you aware that there was a payoff to Stormy Daniels?" What did he say? "No, no, you`ve got to ask my lawyer Michael Cohen." Of course, that was false.
We`ve heard information about how at first they claimed that he never participated in drafting what turned out to be a false narrative about what happened in the Trump Tower meeting with the Russians. That was false.
How many times are people going to let the president fool him when he claims I`ve done nothing wrong? I suspect we`re going to learn at the end of the day that this claim is also false. He is not only a subject. He is almost certainly a target of the investigation.
O`DONNELL: Well, the other thing about that quote is the president doesn`t put any time frame on it. And it could have been that Rod Rosenstein said this to him in 2017 and it wasn`t operative a month later. But the other thing, of course, Jason, that the president knows is Rod Rosenstein can`t confirm or deny that they ever had any kind of conversation about any of that.
JOHNSON: Yes. Lawrence, this is a federal investigation. It`s not "Law & Order," right. Like the cops, Briscoe doesn`t walk in and say, "You know, you`re under investigation. You better enjoy that meal now." That`s not how this works. They`re not going to tell the president that he is a person of interest until probably 15 minutes before Mueller drops drop some sort of report or some sort of indictment.
So this idea -- the president -- I honestly think President Trump is convincing himself that everyone tells him that he is not a person of interest because every single human being around him is. And at some point, if you surround yourself with interesting people, you too might be a person of interest.
O`DONNELL: Glenn, what was your reaction to the description that we got of the kind of evidence that Robert Mueller is dealing with in this case, in the Roger Stone case?
KIRSCHNER: It`s pretty consequential. It sounds like terabytes. I`m not a computer guy. That sounds painful, a terabyte. I don`t know how much information that actually is. But I know I`ve been told it`s a lot. But if I could jump back to just the way people have been criticizing the arrest and the search --
O`DONNELL: Donald Trump did that in "The New York Times" interview also.
KIRSCHNER: He did. And you know what, Lindsey Graham is sort of sheepishly now singing the same tune as the president on that front. And you know, first of all, when law enforcement conducts an arrest and a search, they do that after a judge, has reviewed the evidence as sworn to by the FBI, and the judge decides there`s evidence of crime to be found in the place to be searched. That`s why they searched Roger Stone`s properties because a judge concluded there would be evidence of crime in those properties.
Then we had people complaining that there were too many law enforcement agents involved in the arrest and the search. First of all, there is what`s called an ops plan, an operation plan that goes into, you know, strategizing for every significant arrest and search that is conducted.
And I`m quite sure Lindsey Graham wasn`t at that ops plan. And he didn`t know what the police were facing but it was a multijurisdictional effort. It`s U.S. Marshals, it`s FBI, it`s local law enforcement. Those people were there because they needed to be there to protect the safety of everybody.
O`DONNELL: Glenn Kirschner, Jason Johnson, thank you both for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it.
And when we come back, we`ll be joined by one of the members of that congressional conference committee working to reach a budget agreement before the February 15 deadline. She will join us. And that will be a budget agreement that Nancy Pelosi has promised to us will not contain $1.00 for the Trump wall.
O`DONNELL: We have been thrown into breaking news mode tonight by an interview that President Trump did with "The New York Times." The very same newspaper that the president calls the failing "New York Times."
In that interview, President Trump said this about Nancy Pelosi. "I`ve actually gotten along with her but now I don`t think I will anymore. I think she`s doing a tremendous disservice to the country. If she doesn`t approve the wall, the rest of it`s just a waste of money and time and energy because it`s desperately needed."
Earlier today, President Trump said that Nancy Pelosi will be begging for a wall on the southern border.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I keep hearing the words that we`ll give you what you want but we`re not going to give you a wall. And the problem is if they don`t give us a wall, it doesn`t work. Without a wall, it doesn`t work. You will have so many people coming into our country that Nancy Pelosi will be begging for a wall. She`ll be begging for a wall. She will say, "Mr. President, please, please, give us a wall."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: I don`t think she`s going to say that. The president keeps failing in his dealings with Nancy Pelosi but her position has not changed. No wall, not $1.00 for the wall. New polling shows that more voters now trust Nancy Pelosi than Donald Trump. This morning, Nancy Pelosi reiterated that there will be no money for the president`s border wall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Are you committed to bringing that to the floor? A vote?
REP. NANCY PELOSI, HOUSE SPEAKER: Well, if they come up with a bipartisan consensus, of course.
REPORTER: Even be it includes border wall money though?
PELOSI: We`re not having a negotiation over this right now. They`re having a negotiation over it in there. There`s not going to be any wall money in the legislation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: You got that? There`s not going to be any wall money in what the committee decides. Nancy Pelosi is technically not a member of the Bipartisan Negotiating Committee, Conference Committee, working on a funding solution for the government, but she is really in charge of that negotiation. No deal will be agreed to by the negotiators without Nancy Pelosi`s approval of every sentence of that deal.
And when we come back, a member of that Bipartisan Conference Committee, Congresswoman Barbara Lee, will join us.
O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee of California. She`s a member of that Bipartisan Conference Committee negotiating a funding bill to keep the government open.
Congresswoman, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I know you`ve had one official meeting of the committee. Nancy Pelosi says there will be no border wall funding in any final agreement. Is that your position and the position of the Democratic conferees?
REP. BARBARA LEE (D-CA), BIPARTISAN CONFERENCE COMMITTEE: Absolutely. First of all, Speaker Pelosi is very smart and she is an effective leader. And she knows very well that $5.7 billion for a border wall, it will do nothing. It is not -- it`s a waste of taxpayer dollars.
And what she really wants and what we all want is to look at how we can come up with a proposal for effective border security, which means using 21st Century technology, imaging, and all of the new ways of making sure that our borders are secure.
O`DONNELL: I want to read you something that the president said in his interview tonight with "The New York Times," which has become breaking news. This is something he said about the speaker of the House and this is something that no previous president has ever said about a speaker of the House because every previous president has understood just how powerful a speaker is.
President Trump said, "I`ve actually always gotten along with her but now I don`t think I will anymore." And as you know, the president doesn`t have a choice. The speaker of the House has complete control over any legislation passing through the House of Representatives. And if he doesn`t think he can get along with Nancy Pelosi, that means he is surrendering completely and won`t get a single piece of legislation passed.
LEE: Well, I tell you, first, it sounds very childish.
O`DONNELL: Yes. That, too.
LEE: Secondly, it sounds like he is either uninformed or really doesn`t care about the -- our system of checks and balances. You know this is a democracy. It`s not a dictatorship. We have three branches of government, and the Congress has to do its job.
As a member of the Appropriations Committee and as a member of the Conference Committee, it`s our job to put forth a conference report for border security. The Congress has the power of the purse. So I don`t think the president even understands the nature of our democracy.
O`DONNELL: He does say in this same quote to "The New York Times," he says, "If she doesn`t approve the wall." So he now is recognizing that Nancy Pelosi does have veto power over the wall. She does have power over this outcome. He never told his voters when he was running and telling them that Mexico was going to pay for it, that in reality, it was going to be up to Nancy Pelosi whether or not there`s a wall on the southern border.
LEE: Well, he has misled his voters. He`s misled the country in general. But I have to tell you, in this instance, he`s doing everything he can to derail what we are, as appropriators are engaged in, in terms of our work project.
He`s trying to just say that -- like he said earlier, he`s not going to even read the report if it doesn`t have a wall in it, that he thinks it`s a west of time. I mean my goodness, what does he think this country and government is all about?
We are appropriators. We`re working in good faith, both Republicans and Democrats, House, and Senate. And we are trying to come together to come up with a border security proposal that makes sense, that that`s effective and that`s evidence based.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Congresswoman Barbara Lee, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.
LEE: My pleasure.
O`DONNELL: Barbara Lee gets tonight`s "Last Word." "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END