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GOP Congressman pushes for border wall. TRANSCRIPT: 2/7/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell.

Guests: Manuel Roig-Franzia, Jerry George, Sean Patrick Maloney

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST:  It was a minute we wanted to give you, Rachel.  And good evening.  And this is one of those nights where we had a plan and Jeff Bezos happened. 

This statement that he`s released tonight is absolutely extraordinary, and I think it is a gigantic moment, actually, in the history of our digital communication, which everyone has known has been at risk for quite a while, that any one of us could be hacked.  We could have private things revealed through stolen e-mails, stolen texts, that sort of thing. 

And here is someone who stands up and says, I`m not going to take it anymore and maybe it took the richest man in the world to do that. 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "ALL IN":  Right.  And for him to say, listen, they appear to be freaking out by something that I`ve been looking into when it comes to them, their potential political motivation in pursuing me in this way.  Why did that set off AMI into this panic that they`re trying to, apparently, in Bezos` words blackmail or extort the richest man on earth?  Did they think they would get away with it, no consequences?  Something drove them to desperation with him now and it may have been what he was about to turn up about them. 

O`DONNELL:  Well, you sense they must be very nervous about the way federal prosecutors see the operations of the "National Enquirer", which has already come under fire in the Trump-Michael Cohen case in Manhattan. 

MADDOW:  Exactly.  And they had to deal quite fulsomely with prosecutors around those campaign finance felonies in order to enter into that non- prosecution agreement.  Which means prosecutors know a lot about AMI and their operations, including their operations that are considered to be federal crimes and for which somebody is about to go to prison and which the president himself has been implicated in. 

So they are in a spot, and they were desperate enough to try to do this to Bezos.  And I have no idea how this is going to end, but, boy, was this a surprise. 

O`DONNELL:  And they might be in much worse legal trouble tonight.  We will help to get through it all. 

Thank you, Rachel.  Thank you.

MADDOW:  Thanks, Lawrence.  Much appreciated. 

O`DONNELL:  Well, we do have a lot to cover tonight.  We`re going to have a special LAST WORD tonight about what is always, always the strangest speech that Donald Trump can give, and that`s the one he gave today at the National Prayer Breakfast. 

We`re also going to be joined tonight by two fathers.  Two fathers who are Republican congressman tried to get kicked out of a hearing yesterday in the House of Representatives.  Those two fathers were at that hearing because their kids were killed in the massacre at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School.  And that Florida congressman, one of them thrown out because of their reaction to what he had to say in that hearing.  Those two fathers will join us tonight. 

But first, we have crossed a threshold tonight in the history of digital communication and the manipulation and theft of digital communication.  Everything changed tonight because someone who has had his digital communication stolen decided to stand up to the thieves and say you cannot hurt me with what you have stolen from me.  And it took the richest man in the world to do that. 

We live in an age where public figures like movie stars have had their digital communication hacked and private photographs distributed publically.  We have seen North Korea attack a movie studio, steal and publish all of its e-mails because North Korea didn`t like a movie the studio made.  We have seen newspapers publish the information North Korea stole from that movie studio.  We have seen newspapers publish photos we now know were stolen by Russia from Hillary Clinton`s campaign. 

We have seen journalism adrift for years now in an ethics-free zone presuming that stolen digital communication is newsworthy.  And none of the victims of these digital thefts have known what to do about it except to suffer the pain of the exposure of their private communications.  And then came the "National Enquirer" which obtained stolen communications to and from Jeff Bezos.  And Jeff Bezos said no more. 

Jeff Bezos became the richest man in the world because 24 years ago, he had an idea that became Amazon.  He is now the owner of "The Washington Post" and tonight, Jeff Bezos did the bravest thing you can possibly do when confronted by people who have stolen digital communication. 

Instead of surrendering to what he now calls their attempts at extortion and blackmail, Jeff Bezos has published a letter, a statement, in which he details what has been stolen from him, the embarrassing material that`s been stolen from him.  And in the process, he condemns the "National Enquirer" for its gangster-like approach to him and to their coverage in general. 

Jeff Bezos published a statement tonight in which he said, rather than capitulate to extortion and blackmail, I`ve decided to publish exactly what they sent me, despite the personal cost and embarrassment they threaten.  Attached to his statement were a series of written exchanges between people working from "National Enquirer" and a Los Angeles attorney. 

Dillon Howard, who is an editor of the "National Enquirer" sent the e-mail describing every stolen photograph of Jeff Bezos that the "National Enquirer" now possesses.  In the last line of the e-mail, Dillon Howard says, I hope common sense can prevail and quickly.  The common sense that Dillon Howard and David Pecker who runs the "National Enquirer" wanted to prevail was the Jeff Bezos team of investigators led by Los Angeles security expert Gavin Ddebecker (ph), the leading security expert in Los Angeles, would stop saying that "The National Enquirer" is a politically motivated publication, which "The National Enquirer" has repeatedly proven itself to be.  It is a politically motivated publication. 

Also attached to Jeff Bezos`s statement tonight is a letter from a lawyer in New York named John Fine.  He is the deputy general counsel of the company that owns the "National Enquirer."  This is an e-mail to Martin Singer, the lawyer in Los Angeles, and it is an e-mail that could end John Fine`s career as a lawyer if it is adjudged to be, as Jeff Bezos says, an attempt at extortion and blackmail. 

John Fine`s emails to Marty Singer demands that Jeff Bezos and his team publicly state that, quote, they have no knowledge or basis for suggesting that American Media`s coverage was politically motivated or influenced by political forces.  And in exchange for that, for that statement, the letter says the "National Enquirer" agrees not to publish, distribute, share or describe unpublished texts and photos. 

And then John Fine`s e-mail says in the case of a breach of the agreement by one or more of the Bezos parties, American Media is released from its obligation under the agreement and may publish the unpublished materials.  So that is attorney John Fine putting a threat in writing written in New York sent interstate to a lawyer in Los Angeles, possibly incurring federal criminal liability on the way in an extortion scheme.  And Jeff Bezos decided he was not going to take it. 

In his statement tonight, Jeff Bezos wrote: If, in my position, I can`t stand up to this kind of extortion, how many people can?  These communications cement American Media`s long-earned reputation for weaponizing journalistic privileges, hiding behind important protections and ignoring the tenets and purpose of true journalism. 

Of course, I don`t want personal photos published, but I also won`t participate in their well-known practice of blackmail, political favors, political attacks and corruption.  I prefer to stand up, roll this log over and see what calls out. 

We have hurried to assemble the experts in this subject that you really need to hear from tonight from journalistic and legal perspective, including someone that spent 28 years at the "National Enquirer".  We have the people who can answer every question about this story as it stands now and it is developing at this hour.

We`re joined by Manuel Roig-Franzia, who has been in the awkward position of covering this story for "The Washington Post", which is owned by Jeff Bezos and has been covering it thoroughly and professional. 

Also, Tim O`Brien is with his.  He`s the executive editor of Bloomberg Opinion.   He has written a book about Donald Trump, studied Donald Trump`s relationship David Pecker, who runs the "National Enquirer". 

And Joyce Vance is here to cover the legal points for us.  She is a former federal prosecutor and MSNBC legal contributor. 

And we`re joined by Jerry George who spent 28 years at the "National Enquirer," including as the Los Angeles bureau chief.

And, Jerry George, let me start with you.  Has David Pecker ever been up against anyone like Jeff Bezos before? 

JERRY GEORGE, FORMER L.A. BUREAU CHIEF, NATIONAL ENQUIRER:  No, I think for the first time David Pecker has met his match.  We have finally gone through the looking glass, and we are way beyond yellow journalism.  We are now in the area of the RICO Act.  This is extortion. 

O`DONNELL:  Yes.  Joyce Vance, let me go straight to you on the legal points her because there is so much in here.  Jeff Bezos is very clearly saying this is extortion.  This is blackmail.  I read that e-mail from a lawyer in New York to Marty Singer in Los Angeles, and I have never seen an e-mail quite like that from lawyer to lawyer. 

JOYCE VANCE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY:  It looks like our common understanding of what blackmail is, this kind of a threat.  In federal law, there is a family of crimes under this umbrella of extortion and blackmail.  But what they consist of at their core is this notion that AMI would have to try to threaten -- in this case Mr. Bezos into giving up some property in exchange for AMI not doing damage to his reputation by releasing these photos.  The legal fight is over whether what Bezos is being asked to give up is actually property as the law defines it. 

But there could well be other crimes here.  There could be hacking.  There could be receiving stolen property.  Other crimes we don`t yet know enough to perceive here. 

It really looks as I think everyone agrees as though there is something here that`s not right. 

O`DONNELL:  And there is two other jurisdictions involved here.  There is New York state law that could have been violated by that lawyer.  New York state bar procedures could have been violated.  He could risk disbarment in New York state for this. 

And then there is California criminal liability that can be slightly different from New York`s, Joyce.  So, there is plenty of things to study here legally. 

VANCE:  That`s right.  There is federal law.  There is state law.  There are ethical obligations for lawyers. 

There is a lot that I think we`ll be looking at over the next few days and weeks. 

O`DONNELL:  Manuel, no one has been covering this story more thoroughly than you have at "The Washington Post".  I just want to ask you at the top what has Jeff Bezos had to say about your coverage of him, the owner of your newspaper? 

MANUEL ROIG-FRANZIA, THE WASHINGTON POST:  We have no idea.  We haven`t spoken with Jeff Bezos, and he hasn`t been involved at all in our reporting, but we have spoken extensively with his security consultant, and he`s provided us with some very interesting insights into the back stages of this whole drama, including the investigation that has taken place in which they have begun to believe, the Bezos camp, that this publication by the "National Enquirer" might have been politically motivated. 

I would just add one other thing.  You mentioned hacking at the top of the show.  Gavin de Becker told us that he does not believe that Jeff Bezos`s phone was hacked.  He thinks it`s possible that a government entity might have gotten a hold of his text messages. 

O`DONNELL:  And, Jerry George, let me go back to you because as the Los Angeles bureau chief, I`m sure you know of Gavin de Becker.  He is the person people in Los Angeles turn to for security, for her own personal protection.  He has a large firm.  He provides all sorts of services.  He has been doing this for a long time. 

There is no one I`m aware of in the country, in the private sector with more experience and resources in knowing how to handle an investigation like this. 

GEORGE:  Well, Gavin has had the reputation of being the best in the business for the past 25 years.  So his involvement alone bespeaks a major concern. 

O`DONNELL:  Yes.  And, Tim O`Brien, you have been studying Donald Trump`s relationship to David Pecker, who runs the "National Enquirer." the idea, the idea that they were trying to, in effect, extort out of him a statement that the "National Enquirer" does not have a political agenda. 


O`DONNELL:  I mean, there is no one -- there is no one who could possibly sign their name to that statement.  It is the most corrupt publication in America. 

O`BRIEN:  You know, two things I think worth pointing out here.  Jeff Bezos -- the "National Enquirer" already published a piece about Jeff Bezos and his extramarital affair, which relied on stolen personal property. 


O`BRIEN:  Whether it was a federal agency that intercepted it or it was a hacker, information was stolen and put to use.  Jeff Bezos launched an investigation to find out what happened.  The "National Enquirer" says to him, we are going to use more stolen information to prevent you from continuing an investigation of how we used previously stolen information to embarrass you. 

The second thing going on here is of course there is politics at work here.  David Pecker has a long standing relationship with Donald Trump.  The "National Enquirer" has reportedly buried years of different stories about Donald Trump that contain embarrassing information about him.  We know more recently, obviously, that Pecker was involved with Trump`s attorney Michael Cohen to bury stories about Trump`s relationships and sexual liaisons with Stormy Daniels and another woman. 

Pecker is cooperating with a federal investigation in that.  He weaponized prior to that the "National Enquirer`s" coverage in aid of Donald Trump`s candidacy.  When they say to Jeff Bezos, it`s time to stop looking into this and it`s also time for you to say there aren`t politics involved, it`s -- they know on the face that both of those things are false fronts and Bezos has the resources and the temerity to say, no, we`re not going to do this. 

O`DONNELL:  And Jeff Bezos is by Donald Trump a declared enemy of Donald Trump.  So, there is always a political agenda with "The Enquirer." 

O`BRIEN:  Not just Bezos but "The Washington Post" and Amazon.

O`DONNELL:  The entire newspaper, yeah. 

O`BRIEN:  And, Manuel, to go back to "The Washington Post" coverage of this, Jeff Bezos makes the point tonight in his statement that there is a Saudi connection to this story.  He says "The Post`s" essential and unrelated coverage of the murder of its journalist Jamal Khashoggi is unpopular in person circles. 

There is some reporting indicating that the "National Enquirer," the company, has been trying to obtain Saudi finance.  And, so, that they have an interest in making life difficult for Jeff Bezos and hoping they can possibly also influence Saudi coverage in "The Washington Post."

ROIG-FRANZIA:  Well, it`s quite plain from looking at Jeff Bezos`s letter that he published tonight that he`s interested in what would be described as the Saudi angle.  Whether that ends up developing and becoming a major part of the story I think it remains to be seen.  But at this point, it is still in the formative stages as far as this trajectory of this scandal. 

O`DONNELL:  Jerry George, knowing David Pecker and knowing the company and the way they operate, they`re in feed of money and financing.  They`re looking for Saudi financing. 

What would they be willing to do to try to help the Saudis in terms of their coverage in, say, "The Washington Post"? 

GEORGE:  Well, you know, I`ve mentioned earlier that the special issue that they would have in the spring touting Saudi as the new magic kingdom was suspicious in itself in that three months later, they acquired enough money to procure their biggest competitor.

But I might add that, you know, as much as the world knows Bezos as the world`s richest man and the founder of Amazon and the owner of "The Washington Post", to inquire of readers, Jeff Bezos isn`t really a name.  Jeff Bezos doesn`t really warrant the kind of cover that that the "Enquirer" gave him.  They splash the story on this marital affair and I doubt if 10 percent of "Enquirer" readers even know who he is.  So, I mean, I think that was suspicious in itself. 

O`DONNELL:  Manuel, where does the story go from here? 

ROIG-FRANZIA:  I think we`ll keep digging like we do every other story.  We`ll ask everybody questions and we`ll find out every piece of information that we can.  As they say, we`ll turn every page, every single page. 

O`DONNELL:  Manuel Roig-Franzia, Jerry George, Tim O`Brien, Joyce Vance, thank you all for joining us.  I really appreciate it. 

And when we come back, the president`s attacks on Democrats and the congressional investigations continue, and they are increasing.  Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, who is the newest Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee, will join us. 

And we now know how Republicans will continue to use Donald Trump`s wall in campaigns.  They will blame every problem in America on the fact that we do not have a wall on the southern border. 

And in tonight`s LAST WORD, Donald Trump as preacher is the least convincing version of Donald Trump. 



REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D), CALIFORNIA:  Our job involves making sure that the policy of the United States is being driven by the national interest, not by any financial entanglement, financial leverage or other form of compromise. 


O`DONNELL:  That was Congressman Adam Schiff yesterday, and this is President Trump this morning.  So, now, Congressman Adam Schiff announces after having found zero Russian collusion that he is going to be looking at every aspect of my life, both financial and personal, even though there is no reason to be doing so.  Never happened before!  Unlimited presidential harassment.  The Dems and their committees are going nuts. 

The Republicans never did this to President Obama.  There would be no time left to run government. 

No.  President Obama was never under investigation because there was no reason to investigate President Obama.  But President Nixon and President Clinton were both investigated in every aspect of their lives, including every aspect of their financial lives, and the government continued to function during those investigations. 

And we know from the recent release of the president`s schedules that there are vast tracks of presidential time in which Donald Trump is apparently doing absolutely nothing.  And, so, the one thing we know the investigations of Donald Trump are not doing is distracting him from the important business of being president. 

In another tweet, the president complained about new hiring that Chairman Adam Schiff has done at the Intelligence Committee.  The president even called one of those hires stealing people who work at the White House.  Chairman Schiff has reportedly hired Abigail Grace who worked on the National Security Council in the Obama and Trump White House. 

Here is what the chairman had to say about that.  We have a long tradition of hiring out of the intelligence community, out of the National Security Council, and if the president is worried about our hiring any former administration people, maybe he should work on being a better employer. 

Our next guest is the newest member of the presidential harassment team on the House Intelligence Committee, at least that`s the way Donald Trump sees it.  Joining us now is Democrat Sean Patrick Maloney, the newest Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee, which had been conducting the most in depth investigations of President Trump and his presidential campaign. 

Congressman, thank you for joining us and making your first appearance as a member of the committee. 

I want to begin, though, by getting your reaction to breaking news that`s happened in the last hour, and that is the passing of former Congressman John Dingell, the longer serving member of Congress, 59 years of service in the House of Representatives.  That`s longer than any house member or senator.  He entered service at the age of 28, taking his father`s seat in the House of Representatives.  I know he was there when you began your career. 

Your reflections on the loss of John Dingell tonight? 

REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY (D), NEW YORK:  Well, he was a pillar of the Congress, totally unique in American history.  You know, he was on the floor of the House of Representatives as a page listening to Franklin Roosevelt deliver the day of infamy speech, and he was there 70 years later when I started my career in the house. 

I have to tell you he treated me like we were lifelong friends, with respect and courtesy.  He was a great man and our hearts go out to his wife Debbie, to their family.  We have lost a great American. 

And it was a measure of his greatness that right until the end he had one of the most clever and wittiest Twitter accounts you are ever going to find.  For someone in his 90s to do that shows you how nimble an intellect he was.  And he, of course, was the author of some of the most important pieces of legislation in American history, affecting lives of millions of people, their healthcare, their well-being, the environment and Michigan and the country have lost a great man. 

O`DONNELL:  Yes, he`s a long serving chairman and an expert in many subjects.  One thing he did do was at the beginning of every Congress, he introduced a universal coverage health care bill and it was the very same bill that his father introduced during Harry Truman`s presidency.  It was a version of that, an updated version of that.  So he was always pushing on that issue. 

But I need to bring you to your new position on the Intelligence Committee.  There is the president attacking your committee today and attacking the committee for possibly a new hire of someone who has already worked in the White House.  What is your reaction to that? 

MALONEY:  My reaction is that thieves think all men steal.  The president cannot imagine that we would do legitimate, professional, constitutional oversight.  You know, I think sometimes the Republicans believe that every investigation is like their investigations.  When they trumped up the Benghazi investigation or remember Fast and Furious or those of us that served in the Clinton administration certainly remember what that was like. 

So, the idea that we would be doing a serious investigation about foreign influence over high government officials, including the president, about the influence of money, not just from Russia, by the way, but from countries like Saudi Arabia and that we would finish the important work left undone in that disgraceful report the Republicans issued whitewashing the Russia interference in the election. 

So, Chairman Schiff is a serious man.  We`re going to do serious work.  I`ll tell you what, judge us by our work.  We got started yesterday, so it is a little early to be name-calling. 

I`m proud to be judged by the work of this committee.  It`s a fine group, and we`re going to do a good job. 

O`DONNELL:  Let`s listen to what Congressman Schiff said about investigating the president`s finances. 


SCHIFF:  The president has gotten used to the idea that Congress doesn`t do oversight because for the last two years the Republican majority has essentially been missing in action when it comes to being a co-equal branch of government.  But that ended with the mid-terms. 


O`DONNELL:  Congressman, as we know, the previous presidents have had their finances investigated very closely.  Bill Clinton every penny that he and Hillary Clinton ever made was investigated during his time.  But the president seems to think you just can`t go near his finances. 

MALONEY:  Well, he should stop whining and start governing.  He should start doing the work and put down the Twitter account. 

Look, we have real work to do and we could do that together and we could do that in the course of these constitutional oversight activities.  You know, the Clinton administration somehow managed to balance the budget with Newt Gingrich even when all those investigations were going on in the second term. 

This president is consumed with self-pity and has been whining up a storm.  He should let the Congress do his work and if he`s innocent he should stop acting so guilty. 

O`DONNELL:  Has Chairman Schiff given you a sense of the timing of the way he expecting things to possibly unfold during this year? 

MALONEY:  Well, we just convened yesterday. The first thing we did which I think is very important is a vote to make sure the special counsel had all the transcripts from the work that`s been done up to date and that they can use those for any purpose, including prosecution of perjury.  That`s very important.

Those will also be released publically on a rolling basis as soon as possible, provided only that they don`t interfere with the special counsel`s work or that they don`t reveal national security information.  But those are going to be made public.  I think that`s very important.

We`ll go back and fill in the holes that they left undone.  But we`ll also look at the role of foreign money and foreign influence, as I mentioned.  I think that`s critically important.  And we`re going to defend the integrity of this committee`s work because if people come to this committee and lie, they`re going to pay a price.

O`DONNELL:  New York Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, thank you very much for joining us and please come back as the committee develops its work this year.  Really appreciate it.

MALONEY:  Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL:  And after this break, Republicans want to use the president`s failure to build a wall to their advantage.  And they will now blame every bad thing that happens in this country on the fact that we don`t have a wall on the southern border.


O`DONNELL:  The wall might be with us forever.  The wall has taken up a permanent place in our politics.  The Trump wall is not going to be built on the southern border.  Everyone knows that.

Republicans in Congress are already telling reporters they know there will be no money for tall in the budget bill next week that will prevent the next government shutdown.  And as one Republican senator today he expects the president to be reasonable, that was his word, reasonable, and sign that bill with no funding for the wall.

But it seems like the wall that will never be built will continue to be used by Republicans to explain every bad thing that happens in America.  Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee had its first hearing on gun safety regulations in 10 years.  The bill under consideration, the HR8, would require background checks for all gun sales.

Most Republican members of the committee boycotted the committee.  But one used his time in the hearing to complain only, only about the small percentage of our gun violence linked to undocumented residents of this country.


REP. MATT GAETZ (R), FLORIDA:  I hope we do not forget the pain and anguish and sense of loss felt by those all over the country who have been the victims of violence at the hands of illegal aliens.  HR-8 would not have stopped many of the circumstances I raised, but a wall, a barrier on the southern border may have and that`s what we`re fighting for.


O`DONNELL:  The man standing up and protesting there is Manuel Oliver.  He will join us in a moment.  The man sitting next to him is his friend Fred Guttenberg.  He will also join us.

Manuel Oliver lost his son and Fred Guttenberg lost his daughter in the mass murder that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida almost a year ago.  The person who has been charged with the murder of those children and all those other people in Parkland, Florida, is an American citizen who was born here in this country and attended that same high school.  A wall on their southern border would not have kept any of those 17 people alive.

We are joined now by Manuel Oliver whose son Joaquin was 17-years-old and Fred Guttenberg whose daughter Jamie was 14-years-old when America`s epidemic of mass murder came to their high school.

And I wanted to show you both that moment in the hearing that I`m sure you will never forget where Congressman Gaetz pointed at you and basically tried to get you thrown out of the hearing room.  We`re going to show that to the audience now.


GAETZ:  Is there a process in the committee whereby if the very same people are repeatedly interrupting the time of the members that those people will be asked to depart the committee, or is there --



O`DONNELL:  Fred, what did that feel like to you to have the Congressman point at you, wanting you thrown out of that room?

FRED GUTTENBERG, DAUGHTER WAS MURDERED AT STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL:  You know, that congressman showed who he was.  I felt like that was democracy at work.  You had Manny and I simply not letting him get away with that nonsense.

And I want to tell you something about my friend Manny sitting next to me because Manny has been in this country for 15 years.  He fled Venezuela because of the violence in Venezuela with his family to give them a safe, secure environment in this country.

So to have that congressman put his finger out that way when Manny`s son, my daughter were killed here by an American male was, from my perspective, the lowest form of political performance.  But you know what, Lawrence?  Put that sunshine on who these people are because I think it was good for America to see that he is an example of who has been in charge of doing things regarding gun safety or not doing things.  And now we get to see the nonsense that they put behind it.

O`DONNELL:  And Democratic Chairman Jerrold Nadler, of course, didn`t go along with this crazy notion of having you thrown out of the room.  Manny, let me ask you how it felt for you.  I know Fred has been at other hearings.  I don`t know if you have.  We`ve all -- we all saw Fred at the Supreme Court confirmation hearing of Justice Kavanaugh when Justice Kavanaugh refused to shake his hand.  But, Manny, was that your first congressional hearing?

MANUEL OLIVER, SON WAS MURDERED AT STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL:  It was.  I mean Fred is a pro when it gets to talking to politicians.  That`s not my cup of tea.  It is not my field.  But I thought that I needed to be there to support Fred and the other parents and the kids.

The kids are actually fighting for their lives and trying to have a better future.  So I don`t regret being there.  I think that my presence there, it`s a must.  I need to be there.

However, now that I`m there, I want to make sure we don`t waste time in there.  And this person was totally out of any context that was supposed to be discussed in that room.  And my reaction and Fred`s reaction is a reaction of a father.  You have to keep in mind that we are still fathers.

The fact that Jaime is not here and Joaquin is not here, does not mean we`re not here.  We are here and we`re going to defend our kids forever.  So that reaction, any father should be able to understand what we did and what we`ll keep on doing as long as we are in this life.

O`DONNELL:  Fred, what do you imagine Congressman Gaetz would say if the accused mass murderer at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School was an undocumented resident of this country?

GUTTENBERG:  Well, if that were true, we would have been guests of the president at the State of the Union.  But because the killer of our children was an American male, we were not.

But I do want to say that what Congressman Gaetz did takes the story away from the 40,000 a year who are murdered in this country, the real emergency.  Forty thousand people a year.

And the problem is, while we`re sitting here doing this interview, and I have spoken a bit about this lately, in this timeframe, somebody is getting the news that their loved one was killed.  Somebody right now is planning a funeral for a loved one who was killed that will be happening tomorrow.  Somebody just buried a loved one who was killed.  It is an epidemic.

And when you have a congressman who will put on a political stunt like that rather than dealing with the emergency that is gun violence, it`s shameful.  And I think if he -- if the killer of our children was an undocumented immigrant which wasn`t the case, that isn`t typically the case, he would have been having a political field day with it but it just wouldn`t be -- but it didn`t happen that way.

O`DONNELL:  And, Manny, I know that the Congressman knows who Fred is.  Fred has been very prominent out there and he knows exactly why Fred was at that hearing.  I think it would be pretty easy to figure out, even if he had never seen you before, why you were sitting beside Fred.

Hearings like this always have the parents of victims at these kinds of hearings.  The members know that.  And, so, when he`s asking to have you thrown out, I know that he knows, in asking to have Fred thrown out, I know he knows he`s trying to throw out someone who lost his daughter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.  And he should have been known that you were in exactly the same situation.

OLIVER:  But you know what?  It doesn`t really matter who I am.  He made a mistake.  Regardless of who is sitting there, he made a terrible comment about the actual serious discussion that we were all planning to have.

So let`s say he didn`t know who I was, which doesn`t really matter, he made a mistake.  He was out of context.  And that seems to me that is totally wasting time.  That was -- he had five minutes to make a point.  And in five minutes, I mean, someone is dying.  And this is an emergency and we have no time, extra time, to solve it.

By the way, I have to say that Jamie and Joaquin are not here and we cannot bring them back.  But we are doing this for the rest of the kids.  And he should know that because maybe because of what we`re doing, his kids will be safe.

GUTTENBERG:  Absolutely.

OLIVER:  That`s our point.

O`DONNELL:  Manny Oliver, Fred Guttenberg, I am very sorry for your loss.  I`m sorry you have to join us under these circumstances and I`m sorry about what you had to go through in that hearing yesterday.  Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

GUTTENBERG:  Lawrence, thank you.

OLIVER:  Thank you very much.

O`DONNELL:  We`ll be right back.


O`DONNELL:  As I once wrote in an episode of "The West Wing", this country is supposed to have separation of church and state but we have never pretended to have separation of church and politics.


ARNOLD VINICK:  Whatever happened to separation of church and state?

JOSIAH BARTLET:  It`s hanging in there, but I`m afraid the constitution doesn`t say anything about the separation of church and politics.

VINICK:  Are you saying that`s a good thing?

BARTLET:  I`m saying that`s the way it is.  Always has been.

VINICK:  Do you think the voter really needs to know if I go to church?

BARTLET:  I don`t need to know but I`m not going to vote for you anyway.


O`DONNELL:  I could watch those guys all night.  Alan Alda was playing a Republican candidate for president whose darkest secret was that he did not believe in God.  And, of course, Martin Sheen was playing a Democratic president who was a devout Catholic.

There is some reason to suspect that the last Republican candidate for president in real life who`s now the current president in real life does not believe in God because he says stuff like this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  But have you ever asked God for forgiveness?

TRUMP:  I`m not sure I have.  I just go and try to do a better job from there.  I don`t think so.  I think if I do something wrong, I think I just try and make it right.  I don`t bring God into that picture.  I don`t.


O`DONNELL:  Perfect answer for an atheist.  Strange answer for a man who today went for the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington and read a teleprompter speech about the power of prayer without giving a single example of anything that he himself has ever prayed for at any point in his life.

There is nothing stranger than Donald Trump presenting himself as a religious man.  He did it again today and we have the video.  And this being Donald Trump, that means we also have the video of Donald Trump contradicting what Donald Trump had to say today when he presented himself as a man of God.

Tonight`s last word is next.


O`DONNELL:  Dwight Eisenhower was the first president of the United States to attend the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, which was a minor entry on the president`s schedule at that time, and has since become a highly politicized event that every president feels compelled to attend.

It`s always an attempt by a president to demonstrate his religiosity.  And no president has done a less credible job than Donald Trump.  Here he is today.


TRUMP:  As president, I will always cherish, honor, and protect the believers who uplift our communities and sustain our nation.


O`DONNELL:  Really?


TRUMP:  Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country`s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.


O`DONNELL:  Here is more from the president`s teleprompter today.


TRUMP:  My administration is also speaking out against religious persecution around the world, including against religious minorities, Christians, and the Jewish community.


O`DONNELL:  Really?


TRUMP:  Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country`s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.


O`DONNELL:  The president created some controversy today when he said this.


TRUMP:  Since the founding of our nation, maybe of our greatest strides from gaining our independence, to abolition of civil rights, to extending the vote for women have been led by people of faith and started in prayer.


O`DONNELL:  Twitter lit up with people noting that Donald Trump said that one of our greatest accomplishments was "abolition of civil rights".  The White House later released a transcript of the speech that included what the president actually said and what the White House says he was supposed to have said if he could just read a teleprompter correctly.

According to the White House, the line was supposed to be, "Since the founding of our nation, many of our greatest strides from gaining our independence, to abolition, to civil rights, to extending the vote for women have been led by people of faith and started in prayer."

So you have a choice to make, which I leave to you.  Did Donald Trump deliberately say the abolition of civil rights to thrill some or perhaps many or maybe most Trump supporters who like the sound of that?  Or did the worst teleprompter reader in the history of the presidency simply make a teleprompter mistake?

You get to make up your own minds about this.  But having made enough teleprompter mistakes myself, o am just going to have to let he or she who has never made a teleprompter mistake cast the first stone on this one.  But let`s think about what the president just actually said there.

All of our great strides, including the abolition of slavery and civil rights, were led by people who believed in God and prayed.  But slavery was created and ran by people who believed in God and prayed.

And the treasonous war against the United States of America, led by Robert E. Lee and other Confederate generals, was led by people and fought by people who believed in God and prayed.  The Confederate army prayed for their success in killing anyone who fought against their right to own human beings.

Today, the president found just one passage from the Bible in his teleprompter, it was, of course, from the new testament.   And it actually might be the only passage in the Bible that Donald Trump has publicly proved that he really believes in and really does try to live by.


TRUMP:   As Jesus promises in the Bible, ask, and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.


O`DONNELL:  It always worked that way for Donald Trump and his father.  His father made him a millionaire in his own right when he was a little boy.  Long before Donald Trump started asking his father for money to bail him out of his losses and his Atlantic City casinos.  Ask and you will receive seems to have been the golden rule between Donald Trump and his father.

With other presidents, you could listen to this religion filled speeches with a straight face, because they had not already publicly proved that they don`t believe the religious sentiments they were delivering.  But with Donald Trump?  Here was the very last line that the White House speechwriters put in the teleprompter today for Donald Trump, the man of God.


TRUMP:  And let us always give thanks for the miracle of life, the majesty of creation, and the grace of Almighty God.

O`DONNELL:  Really?  That`s what you always give thanks for?  Here`s that same person answering the question, "What are you most thankful for, Mr. President?"


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What are you most thankful for, Mr. President?

TRUMP:  For having a great family and for having made a tremendous difference in this country.  I`ve made a tremendous difference in the country.  This country is so much stronger now than it was when I took office that you wouldn`t believe it.  And I mean, you see it, but so much stronger that people can`t even believe it.


O`DONNELL:  You`re absolutely right, Mr. President, people can`t even believe it.

That`s tonight`s last word.