LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
That`s the first time legislation has passed in that committee since 1993.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Wow.
O`DONNELL: That`s the last time they touched this stuff.
MADDOW: And background checks are supported by 10,000 percent of the American public. Even NRA members in gigantic numbers prefer background checks as the policy they would like to see in America. This thing polls through the roof, but it takes this long to get it through.
O`DONNELL: And, Rachel, as you know, the breaking news during your hour was that the same judiciary committee wants to hear from Matthew Whitaker again.
O`DONNELL: The so-called acting attorney general wanting to clarify some of the things apparently they`re not satisfied with what he said in that hearing. And we luckily have a member of the Judiciary Committee --
MADDOW: Very good.
O`DONNELL: Eric Swalwell, who can fill us in on that. And Rachel, can you help me with something? And that is -- that is I don`t -- I don`t -- I`m not sure I even have a theory.
What is Paul Manafort up to? What is the lying about? Once he entered a cooperation agreement with the special prosecutor?
MADDOW: Well, I just had the Chairman of the Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff here, and he said something very interesting. He said that in the judge`s ruling today, the way the judge described the way Paul Manafort had intentionally lied, he pointed at language from I believe the -- that hearing that we had partially un-redacted within the past few days, last week, that everybody`s been trying to read between the black boxes in there. He was essentially suggesting that Manafort may have lied about his ongoing communications with Kilimnik, this guy linked to Russian intelligence, because if that had come out, that would be so dangerous and so bad for President Trump that it would ruin Manafort`s chance -- Manafort`s chances for a pardon.
So he had to lie to prosecutors about that because telling the truth to prosecutors about that, having that come out in his court case would ruin the chance of Trump giving him a get out of jail free card. Now, that is a -- that is eye-opening if that`s why Manafort lied, but how Trump reacts to it now that Manafort has been caught in that lie is going to be all the more fascinating.
O`DONNELL: I heard Chairman Schiff say that. I have to say, it`s the only thing I`ve heard where I can see the logic to it. It`s like, OK, that makes sense to me. I get that.
But, boy, it is -- it is so strange to try to figure out from this distance as we watch it.
MADDOW: Well, yes. And Paul Manafort just as a human being, his --
MADDOW: The drama of his life --
MADDOW: -- is about to get very, very dark. What Barb McQuade was just explaining about -- you know, he`s looking at 24 to 30 years and he turns 70 on April 1st.
O`DONNELL: You know, now you mentioned, Rachel, his lying to prosecutors is not the first choice he`s made that surprises me. He`s had kind of a lifetime of those.
MADDOW: Yes. Yes.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Well, we do have other breaking news tonight.
The breakings (ph) we were just discussing with Rachel and that is, of course, that a federal judge who will decide the sentencing of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has decided that Paul Manafort lied to special prosecutor Robert Mueller`s team while he was supposed to be cooperating with them. That means that Judge Amy Berman Jackson can now weigh those lies when considering the sentence she will impose on Paul Manafort. Judge Jackson says that the special prosecutor`s office has proved three of the five instances of Paul Manafort lying to them that they brought to the judge`s attention for sentencing.
This could significantly increase Paul Manafort`s sentence. Judge Jackson ruled that Paul Manafort lied to prosecutors about $125,000 payment that Paul Manafort disguised as a loan. The prosecutors say and the judge says that that payment was material to the investigation.
The judge ruled that Paul Manafort also intentionally made false statements about another federal investigation being conducted by the Justice Department. We don`t really know what that is. The judge`s ruling gave no indication what that part of the ruling was about or who is in charge of that investigation.
Judge Jackson also said that Paul Manafort lied to the special prosecutor`s office, the FBI and the grand jury involving his interactions and communications with Konstantin Kilimnik, a business associate with ties to Russian intelligence. This includes one meeting in particular that one of Mueller`s prosecutors says goes to the heart of what the special counsel`s office is investigating.
"The Washington Post" reports that that meeting came at a critical time in the 2016 presidential campaign and is a possible fulcrum to proving the Trump campaign engaged in a conspiracy with Russia. As we learned earlier this week, that meeting occurred on August 2nd, 2016, the meeting between Paul Manafort and Kilimnik. It happened in a private cigar room called the Grand Havana Room, which is actually located in Jared Kushner`s building on 666 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan and that is very close to Trump Tower. They were joined in that meeting by the deputy campaign manager and Manafort associate Rick Gates.
"The Washington Post" reports that according to a hearing last week, one subject the men discussed was a proposed resolution to the conflict over Ukraine. The judge also appeared to allude to another possible interaction at the Havana Room, gathering a handoff by Manafort of internal polling data from the Trump campaign to his Russian associate. The meeting appears to have been so clandestine that it, quote, ended with the three men leaving through separate doors.
Paul Manafort, Rick Gates and Konstantin Kilimnik have all been charged in Mueller`s investigation. Rick Gates is still cooperating with these prosecutors and the special prosecutor`s office.
This is when we need a team of legal experts to interpret our breaking news, and we have a couple of great ones. They are both former prosecutors.
Cynthia Alksne has been a local assistant district attorney in New York City, and she has worked as a federal prosecutor, and has the invaluable experience for us of having worked with Robert Mueller in the Justice Department.
Eric Swalwell is also a former local prosecutor. He was a deputy district attorney in California and he is now a congressman representing California`s 15th congressional district and he is a member of both the House Judiciary Committee and the House Intelligence Committee, which makes him one of the real MVPs that we can have discussing these subjects.
And, Congressman Swalwell, I want to start with you. First of all, let me do a quick parenthesis about this breaking news tonight from the Judiciary Committee, where Chairman Jerry Nadler is asking Matthew Whitaker to return to the Judiciary Committee to amplify or expand on some testimony that apparently he and possibly you are not satisfied with.
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), HOUSE JUDICIARY & INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEES: Lawrence, good evening. We believe that his testimony was disrespectful last week. It was dismissive and possibly dishonest.
And he invoked a number of privileges to avoid our questions about how he got the job, why he didn`t recuse himself in light of his prior statements about the Mueller investigation and why he said publicly that the investigation has neared completion, despite also acknowledging that Bob Mueller would not share that belief. So, we`re going to get him back and press him on these issues.
But I just want to say quickly, Lawrence, there was positive news out of the Judiciary Committee. I just came from the committee. We voted on the eve of Parkland`s one-year mark to have background checks. That`s going to the full floor for a vote very soon.
So it`s the first time in recent memory that a tragedy like Parkland within one year has seen actual action to reduce gun violence.
O`DONNELL: Congressman, my own memory is the last time the committee acted on that was in the crime bill of 19 -- moving in 1993 and passed in 1994. That`s how long it`s been.
Let`s just pause on that, too, while you`re here. Tell us what that was like in the committee tonight because this really is a historic day for the committee and a historic vote.
SWALWELL: Well, it was also an emotional vote because you had so many Moms Demand Action activists in the room. Two of my colleagues, Lucy McBath and also Debbie Mucarsel-Powell. Lucy lost her son to gun violence and Debbie lost her father to gun violence. So for them to cast that vote to have background checks meant a lot.
Ted Deutch who represents Parkland was able to cast that vote. As soon as it was passed, I called Cameron Kasky who I took to the State of the Union. He was the young man who stood up to Marco Rubio and asked if he would refuse to take NRA money.
And, Lawrence, you`ll love this. You know, he`s still a kid. He`s 18 years old. He said, no way, you guys did that? I didn`t know you were working on that today, which, again, good on him he doesn`t have to worry about that.
Tomorrow is the mark of that solemn day. I hope they see that Congress is finally standing up for gun violence victims.
O`DONNELL: And, Congressman, to the Manafort developments tonight. You`ve been studying all of this within your Intelligence Committee investigation. I know there are things about that that you can`t share with us. But what is your reaction to the judge`s finding now in her sentencing procedure that Paul Manafort has been lying to the federal prosecutors, just as the prosecutors insisted to the judge that he was?
SWALWELL: Well, it`s so obvious from what is publicly available that he was not truthful. And, Lawrence, I think what he does next will be most telling. If he`s willing to remain uncooperative and not, you know, finally come clean, I think you can conclude that what he is seeking to protect is such a deep secret that revealing it would put himself, his family and the person he wants to protect also, Donald Trump, at risk.
So we must assume that it is something substantive in the Russia investigation and perhaps he thinks that his only way to save his neck now is a presidential pardon. So I think this is something, as Andrew Weissmann described, is at the heart of the Russia investigation.
It`s also information that occurred during the peak time of Trump-Russia communications. This is right after the Trump Tower meeting in June. The Republican convention in July when Manafort was allegedly involved in taking away the part of the Republican plank where we would defend Ukraine and also just a couple of weeks before his former partner Roger Stone intimated that there were more hacks to come against the Podestas.
So I think we can assume this was highly incriminating information.
O`DONNELL: Cynthia Alksne, I know you thought you`d seen everything as a federal prosecutor and then came the Manafort case, and I know it has -- it`s included elements that a lot of people have never seen before. Your reaction to what the prosecutors are dealing with now, and to this point, if tomorrow morning Paul Manafort woke up and said, OK, that`s it, I really want to Cooperate, I want to tell the prosecutors everything they want to know, that`s the only way for me to go from here on in, what could they do with that? Because they`ve just spent time in court saying what a liar he is.
CYNTHIA ALKSNE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, you always learn something, but it`s unlikely the sun will rise in the west tomorrow.
ALKSNE: It`s not going to do that.
And let`s frame it, really. Congressman framed it some, but let`s add to it. The meat of this is they had this meeting essentially a Russian agent, somebody with ties to Russian intelligence, and Manafort and Gates. And they`re talking -- they give them internal polling data. And what -- and according to gates, then Manafort went through the data to explain it to them.
And what do we know happened after that? The Russians were heavily involved in our election. You know, campaign strategists have always wondered how is it that the Trump campaign was able to have this very detailed micro-targeting given that they spent half the money that Hillary Clinton spent? Well, I think now we know. In this August meeting because they had all the data to do it and then the Russians took care of it for them.
And in addition, not only were they talking about the data, but they also went over this peace plan, which isn`t a peace plan at all. It`s Putin`s idea of how to solve the Ukraine problem, so that he can get the sanctions lifted so he can make more money. It`s all involved in a quid pro quo and it`s all this August 2nd meeting that Manafort is lying about.
And he`s lying about it because he`s covering for somebody and he wants a pardon.
O`DONNELL: Cynthia, what kind of sentence do you think Paul Manafort should be prepared for?
ALKSNE: Oh, essentially a life sentence. I mean, his sentencing guidelines --
O`DONNELL: So, twenty years or more? Yes.
ALKSNE: It`s a life sentence.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Swalwell, we have another breaking news story tonight that is developing literally in this hour. This is from leaks within the Trump government, the two -- saying that Trump`s Department of Homeland Security is now cutting the forces that are being used within the Department of Homeland Security to protect elections from foreign meddling.
I`m just going to read you the lead of this. It says two teams of federal officials assembled to fight foreign election interference are being dramatically downsized, according to three current and former Department of Homeland Security officials, and now the sources say they fear the department won`t prepare adequately for election threats in 2020. It sounds like there are more hearings for House Democrats to do.
SWALWELL: That`s right, Lawrence. But we`re no longer powerless and we don`t have to take this, you know, these blows to our democracy anymore.
But, again, Donald Trump is afraid of what these teams would find, which is that Russian interests are working on his behalf, and if he has any chance at all in winning in 2020, they`re going to have to work overtime because the American people are no longer on his side. But this is in line with what the Republicans did just a year ago when they took over $300 million that was slated for election funding security for the states and they zeroed it out.
And so, the threat is no less to the United States from Russia. We know that former Secretary of Defense Mattis said that they interfered not only in 2016 but also in the 2018 midterm elections. So we must assume that they`re going to turn it up for 2020.
But, Lawrence, I`m not, you know, as panicked as I would have been if we hadn`t won the majority. We`re going to insist that this funding will be there and that our ballot box is secure come 2020.
O`DONNELL: And, Cynthia, back to Manafort, do you expect the judge to be concerned with the example that Paul Manafort is setting in his behavior here and she might feel she needs oh set an example in the sentence because of that?
ALKSNE: Well, I mean, the 20 years is going to speak for itself. Anybody who is involved in this case is watching very carefully and they should recognize that if they`re going to lie to Bob Mueller, they`re going to lie to they you are and they`re going to lie to Congress, they`re going to end up in jail.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Swalwell, when you get Matt Whitaker back. Is that going to be through a subpoena or what is the process to get him back to your committee?
SWALWELL: We always want witnesses to come in voluntarily. If that doesn`t work, we`re going to bring him in under subpoena. But, again, the goal here, Lawrence, is to take a damage assessment to the rule of law, to see if it still stands at the department, how much damage has he done, has he been in communication with Donald Trump about the investigation, has he hobbled what Mueller is trying to do, does Mueller have the freedom of movement that he needs to follow all of the evidence?
And, again, as we learn that, we can use that to justify protecting Mueller with the legislation that we`ll put forward to do that, build public sentiment on the Senate side so they can also see that pass. It will be very informative and helpful for our goals, which is just to expand and protect the rule of law in this country.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Eric Swalwell and former federal prosecutor Cynthia Alksne, thank you both for starting us off.
SWALWELL: My pleasure.
O`DONNELL: Really appreciate that.
And when we come back, presidential candidate Donald Trump campaigned on building a wall and making the national debt disappear, and now the Trump wall has disappeared and President Trump has built the national debt to a new record high level. It is the only truly big thing President Trump has built.
And later, in tonight`s LAST WORD, we have Pulitzer Prize winning reporter David Farenthold reporting from deep inside Trump world. David Farenthold`s new information leaked from a White House source helps explain what Donald Trump is doing in those big stretches of time on his leaked schedules that the White House labels executive time. Turns out the president might be doing something more than tweeting and watching Fox News during executive time.
O`DONNELL: This has to stop. That`s what Donald Trump said in 2012 when the national debt was approaching $16 trillion. It didn`t stop.
President Obama began reducing the size of the national deficit, which contributes to the debt, but then when Donald Trump was sworn in as president, he forgot everything he ever said about the national debt and broke every promise he made during the campaign about deficits and debt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We`ll start reducing our debt and reducing it big league, which I want to do.
And we`re going to knock it down and we`re going to bring it down big league and quickly. We`re going to stop our deficits. We`re going to stop our deficits.
I`m really good at it. Who is better at debt than I am? Who is better? Is there anybody?
We`re not going to be increasing our debt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Not one word of that was true. President Trump has increased the national debt by over $1 trillion in each year of his presidency and now the Trump national debt has crossed the $22 trillion threshold for the first time. The national debt has been going up every day of the Trump presidency and setting new high records every day.
"The Associated Press" reports the debt figure has been accelerating since the passage of President Trump`s $1.5 trillion tax cut in December 2017. The Congressional Budget Office forecasts that the annual budget deficit will keep increasing and be more than $1 trillion a year beginning in 2022. That is why in Donald Trump`s 75-minute re-election campaign rally in El Paso, Texas, on Monday, he never once mention the words "national debt."
And "The Washington Post" is reporting that House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy has said in private that Republicans lost the House because of their policies, specifically trying to take health insurance away from people with pre-existing conditions. Kevin McCarthy has a way of saying things in private that he never says in public. During the presidential campaign, he was recorded in private saying he believes that Donald Trump is paid by Vladimir Putin.
Democrats agree with Kevin McCarthy that Republicans lost on the issues, and it looks like Democratic presidential candidates now have Donald Trump`s failed promises on the national debt to use against him in their campaigns.
Now, this is when we want to hear from an economist who has worked on these issues at the presidential level. And we are lucky now to have Austan Goolsbee with us. He is a professor of economics at the University of Chicago, who was the chairman of President Obama`s Council of Economic Advisers.
And Ezra Levin is with us. He helped force the issue of health care to the forefront of last year`s congressional campaigns. He was a major strategist of that. He is the executive director of the Indivisible Project.
And they are both joining us now.
Professor Goolsbee, strangely the national debt is the only thing that Donald Trump is building in his presidency.
AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, FORMER CHAIRMAN, COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: Yes. Look, he`s building up some other debts, too, but the thing that`s hard to wrap your head around is if you take the tax cut, it`s even bigger than $1.5 trillion. That was the official price tag, but now we see it`s more than $2 trillion, OK? So if you have something like 50,000 --
O`DONNELL: Austan, let me just stop you on that.
O`DONNELL: So you`re saying that the original estimate when the cut was being legislated was about $1.5 trillion, but now in actual practice, which often happens, they`re discovering the prediction was off. It`s bigger than that?
GOOLSBEE: Yes, and, look, they rushed it through without a score because they knew perfectly well it was going to get bigger. But what I can`t understand is how can you take -- you take one tax cut that will add $2 trillion and it`s opposed by the majority of people in the country. How do you have -- if you have $2 trillion to hand out, tens of thousands of dollars for every man, woman and child in America, how could you have the most unpopular tax cut in the history of polling? And it`s because people know what`s in it.
Now, we`ve seen that it didn`t do any of the things that Donald Trump promised, like with the promises made in the campaign. He made a bunch of promises on health care, that he was going to cover everyone for less money, and it was a -- not just inaccurate, it was a complete lie. They did the opposite. They tried to cut health care for millions of Americans.
O`DONNELL: And, Ezra Levin, that goes to you on health care. One thing that Republicans when they`ve opposed expansions of health care coverage that Democrats have tried to advance, one thing they always feared in the past was if this passes, if this becomes law, we Republicans will never be able to take it away. Once the public has it and they`re used to it.
Well, these Republicans did try to take it away. You pushed it energetically as the issue, the number one issue in congressional elections.
Were you surprised to hear that Kevin McCarthy in private actually understood the politics of this issue the same way you did?
EZRA LEVIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, INDIVISIBLE PROJECT: Yes, look, Lawrence, it is great to be on here, and I got to say, I`m a little uncomfortable that I`ve got to agree so wholeheartedly with Kevin McCarthy, but I think he got a lot right here. Let`s be honest.
I would just make two points on this. One, health care was huge, obviously, in 2017. We saw Indivisible Groups, among others showing up at town halls and writing letters to the editor and making calls to Congress and making this a highly salient issue for voters in 2018. But it wasn`t just the health care bill. We heard from Austan about this tax bill.
What the Republicans managed to do was cut taxes by $2 trillion, mostly for the wealthy and the corporations, but turned a giant tax cut into a political liability. So that the same Indivisible Groups that I saw out there protesting the health care bill were dressing up like the monopoly man and showing up with big giant checks to the top 1 percent protesting this tax bill, turning into a political liability.
So, yes, the health care bill helped sink the Republicans in the 2018 midterm. It wasn`t just health care. It was the entirety of the agenda they were pushing.
But that point aside, I think this insight from Kevin McCarthy is not understood well enough. Oftentimes when we talk about how politics works, there`s the electoral work, the elections, and then there`s the advocacy work, and they`re treated as two separate things. But what we saw in 2017 was the exact same groups knocking on doors to beat back the health care bill or beat back the tax bill, were protesting against Trump rescinding DACA. Those same groups were registering voters, getting behind candidates and getting out the vote in 2018.
So, it`s a real mistake to think about this as advocacy in electoral work. The advocacy work we`re doing, including right now in 2019 is electoral work. It`s an investment in a successful 2020 election.
O`DONNELL: So you`ve -- you have discovered the -- it seems rather simple formula that trying to get people to register to vote, it helps if you can give them a reason to register to vote. And that would be --
GOOLSBEE: Who would have thunk? And recruiting candidates. You`ve seen a bunch of these candidates, they tried to take away my health care and I`m paying for my mom`s illness. So I decided to run against my incumbent congressman.
And so, you saw a lot of these teachers running and they won. You saw a lot of people running on health care and they won.
The thing I don`t get is each one of these things is so tremendously unpopular, why is the president -- it`s not like he`s backing away from them or finding a way to change the subject. He keeps revisiting these things that are deeply, totally unpopular with the voters.
O`DONNELL: Yes. Ezra, we saw that the other night in his rally in Texas where the president in his list of accomplishments included we got rid of the individual mandate in Obamacare. As if there is something that they did to Obamacare that met the approval of voters.
LEVIN: Look, if President Trump and Republican congressional leadership and other Republicans running for Congress want to use outdated and damaging talking points that sink their re-election chances, I`m all for it. I really endorse that behavior.
O`DONNELL: Austan, Donald Trump called himself very proudly during his first presidential campaign the king of debt. He said it --
GOOLSBEE: The king of debt.
O`DONNELL: -- repeatedly. Do you expect the "king of debt" to be one of the Trump slogans during the re-election campaign?
GOOLSBEE: I mean, that one`s going to stick.
GOOLSBEE: Because he is the king of debt.
And you might have seen a piece just came out by Larry Summers and Jason Furman in which they show that if you take out the Bush tax cuts and the Trump tax cuts, we would basically have a balanced budget today. The reason why that debt has been growing, accumulating, and we`re paying interest is precisely because we had these huge tax cuts that we are going to continue to have to pay for.
O`DONNELL: Austan Goolsbee, Ezra Levin, thank you both for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.
And when we come back, President Trump doesn`t want to pay the backed pay that federal contractors lost during the five weeks of the Trump shutdown. One of those workers is a security guard at the Smithsonian, Faye Smith. She joined us during the shutdown and she will join us again tonight.
And in tonight`s LAST WORD, Donald Trump has already set a public record for most golf balls hit by a president. And it turns out, new investigative reporting and a leak from the White House shows that it could be many, many more.
O`DONNELL: President Trump is now obviously afraid, very afraid of creating another Trump shutdown.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I don`t want to see a shutdown. A shutdown would be a terrible thing. But I don`t want to see another one. There`s no reason for it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: There`s no reason for it. That`s not what you say before you create another shutdown. President Trump is making it very clear that there will not be another shutdown. But at the very same time, he is trying to satisfy the right-wing media that objects to the bipartisan government funding deal that could be voted on in the House of Representatives tomorrow that provides zero for the Trump wall.
Democrats have consistently lowered their offer to Republicans and the president on other forms of border security since the president demanded $5.6 billion for his wall in December before the Trump shutdown. Many in the news media have been latching on to other things that the president said today in which he tried to pretend that there will be some suspense about whether he will sign the bipartisan deal if it is passed by the House and the Senate.
But you just heard the president say there is no reason for a shutdown. He is going to sign whatever is passed by the House and Senate. He said that today, that there`s no reason for a shutdown, knowing that he has not yet won the final negotiating point that he is struggling within the deal.
That is the question of back pay for workers who are not directly paid by the federal government. Those workers suffered every bit as much as the 800,000 federal government employees who didn`t receive a paycheck during the 35-day government shutdown.
A new survey shows that 62 percent of federal employees and contractors depleted all or most of their emergency savings. Forty-nine percent fell behind on bills. Twenty-seven percent missed a mortgage or a rent payment.
Twenty-six percent had to borrow from retirement savings. And 25 percent used a food bank.
Faye Smith is a security guard at the Smithsonian, who is not paid directly by the federal government but is instead an employee of the security contractor that the Smithsonian has hired. During the government shutdown, Faye Smith joined us on this program and told President Trump exactly what was going to happen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FAYE SMITH, FEDERAL CONTRACT WORKER: President Trump, no disrespect, Ms. Nancy is not going to give you that wall. Mr. Trump, you need to stop holding us hostage. That`s what you`re doing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And the next day, Donald Trump took Faye Smith`s advice and ended the Trump shutdown knowing that Ms. Nancy was not going to give him that wall. Faye Smith will join us after this break.
O`DONNELL: There is no Trump wall. There will be no trump wall. But Donald Trump cannot stop talking about the wall that exists only in his dreams. And here is how Donald Trump insulted the intelligence of American voters today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We`re building as we speak in the most desperately needed areas and it`s a big wall. It`s a strong wall. It`s a wall that people aren`t going through very easy. You`re going to have to be in extremely good shape to get over this one. They would be able to climb Mount Everest a lot easier, I think.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: There`s no wall. Not one word of that was true and everyone knows that. During the government shutdown, Faye Smith, who is a security guard at the Smithsonian, went to Mitch McConnell`s office to ask him to do his duty and pass a bill to re-open the government.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SMITH: I`m here today to bring my bill for 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Faye Smith was not evicted and she is joining us now from Washington. Faye Smith, really appreciate having you back. And as viewers of this program know, after you appeared and after we showed that video, D.L. Hughley and others immediately came forward to help you financially. There was a GoFundMe page that helped you financially.
But tell us about all the other government contractors who you know with jobs like yours in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere who didn`t get that benefit that you got by being on this program and having attention brought to your case. They went five weeks without any pay.
And as we just saw on the statistics, many of them missed mortgage payments, many of them missed rent payments, and President Trump is trying to prevent them from getting any back pay at all. How will those workers deal with that?
O`DONNELL: Thank you for having me again this evening, Lawrence. I really appreciate that. I`m going to do like my conscience is going to tell me to do.
My sister raised me. her Name is Pat Wilkerson. She raised me to be a Respectable person and told me Tonight to be very respectful as I speak. And then someone else told me, a personal friend, no, Faye, say what`s on your mind and what`s in your heart.
And so I`m going to mix the two of that together. I`m going to be respectful but I`m going to say what`s in my heart. President Obama, my co-workers, and other contractors have suffered enough. We demand our pay -- our back pay that you have not signed off on. It is ridiculous that you would have federal workers get paid for back pay and us as contractors that does the same thing don`t get back pay. And you won`t even acknowledge it.
You won`t even acknowledge that we deserve back pay. Yes, we do. My co- workers went through everything. Yes, I had help. My sister Pat had three, four kids in the same family that was furloughed, you know? But we all got through it as a family.
But my co-workers, they have daycare bills. My co-worker was a diabetic. She had to spread her medicine out to make sure that she had enough to take and then still ended up in the hospital. I had co-workers that could not even pay their mortgages, you know? Trying to dig out.
And you`re going to suggest, go get a loan. Why are you standing in the food bank? We`re standing in the food bank because you put us there. We can`t do a loan. We don`t have it like that. We`re low-income people.
We need you to stop playing chess with our life. That`s what you`re doing. Stop moving us around like checkers. Leave Mr. Obama out of the conversation. Leave Ms. Nancy out of the conversation. You always putting things on Mr. Obama or Ms. Nancy, which I love the both of.
If they was in office right now, we would not be going through this. Ms. Nancy just got the speaker of the House back and I believe in Ms. Nancy. She will try to help us as much as she can. But we need you to stop it.
You and Mitch McConnell need to go ahead and sign off on these bills, give us our back pay and let us go ahead and dig out from the mess that you put us in. You are going to get your wall, but guess what we get? We get back bills. You get a wall, you get your money, but you know what we get? We got our bills that we got to pay in the back.
And now you`re talking about there may be another shutdown? We`re not even finished digging out from the first shutdown.
O`DONNELL: Faye, I think it`s not pretty clear that there is not going to be another shutdown, that Donald Trump`s afraid of doing that again. And the news we`re getting right now as you`ve been speaking is that the conferees in the House and the Senate are working on the final language of their report. And so that, we will know tomorrow morning at the latest whether in this bill you are -- your back pay is provided for.
So this news -- this will be tomorrow morning`s news, exactly every detail that`s in there. We may even know it before this hour is over tonight. So we are very, very close to knowing --
O`DONNELL: -- whether your back pay is going to be in this legislation. And if the Democrats held to the position that they were holding to this afternoon, then your back pay will be in there. So we will know that as soon as we have it from them.
Faye Smith, thank you very much --
SMITH: That`s all we want.
O`DONNELL: -- for joining us and thank you for explaining what this has been like for people. Really appreciate it.
SMITH: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, President Trump.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Faye.
And when we come back, the White House has been trying to keep reporters from seeing President Trump`s private schedules but they`ve been leaking. They have been trying to minimize reports on how much Donald Trump plays golf by not letting people know what happens when he goes to his golf clubs. I think we can guess.
David Fahrenthold is now on the Case. David Fahrenthold won the Pulitzer Prize for investigating the Trump -- so-called Trump Charity called the Trump Foundation, which is now being investigated by the attorney general of the State of New York. David Fahrenthold has some new findings for us about what Donald Trump is doing with his time.
O`DONNELL: Politicians have always been some of the phoniest people among us but we now have the phoniest president in history and he of all people is worried about looking phony.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: How would I look walking a dog on the White House lawn? Would that be -- right? Sort of not -- I don`t know. It doesn`t -- I don`t feel good. Feels a little phony to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The president who has large blanks on his schedule called "Executive time" also claims that he doesn`t have the time to walk a dog. And he might actually be telling the truth about that because walking a dog would take time away from playing golf.
And Donald Trump is the golfiest president of all time. Some observers theorize that Donald Trump would quickly end the government shutdown that he started three days before Christmas as soon as he realized it wouldn`t look cool for him to go to Florida as planned and golf away the rest of the year.
But he toughed it out at the White House, right through Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and then waved goodbye to his wife when she decided she had had enough and chose to spend the rest of the holiday period in Florida, making the decidedly anti-romantic choice of leaving the president all alone in the White House on New Year`s Eve. And he proved to America that he was working on New Year`s Eve with this video.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: While I am at the White House working, you are out there partying tonight, but I don`t blame you.
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O`DONNELL: So generous of him not to blame you for partying on New Year`s Eve and so stoic of the president to tough it out in the White House and not play golf for the entire 35-day government shutdown or so we thought. Until David Fahrenthold`s reporting today in "The Washington Post" that Donald Trump has a 50,000-dollar machine that allows him to play golf inside the White House.
Pulitzer Prize-winning Trump Investigative Reporter David Fahrenthold will join us next for tonight`s LAST WORD.
O`DONNELL: Presidential candidate Donald Trump was absolutely certain that presidents should not play golf.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: When you are in the White House, who the hell wants to play golf?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Turns out, no one in the White House history has played golf more than Donald Trump and he can now play golf inside the White House and we know that, thanks to the work of "Washington Post" reporter David Fahrenthold who won a Pulitzer Prize for his investigating reporting inside Trump world which exposed the real workings of the Trump Foundation.
David Fahrenthold`s new reporting on the president will surely be used by future historians to fill in those big empty spaces on the president`s scheduled called "Executive Time". And joining us now with his latest stoop is "The Washington Post`s:" David Fahrenthold.
And David, you have provoked a response from the White House with your reporting today. The White House which cannot be believed about anything, ever, issued this statement saying, "The president replaced the old system that was there. He paid for the new one, including installation, personally. He has not used it since it`s been installed."
In fact, that means we have no idea who paid for it, we have no idea how much he uses it because there is not a person in that press office who can be believed about anything.
DAVID FAHRENTHOLD, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, one part that we were able to check was that, indeed, President Obama did every one of these things. It was supposedly a less sophisticated version than what Trump has installed. Trump has got the top of the line.
That`s the one part we had some outside source on. We checked that. That turned out to be true. The other part, I have the White House`s word on and that is it.
O`DONNELL: Yes. And so this is coming at a point where people have been wondering how did he survive the 35-day shutdown not being able to go to his golf courses every weekend. And we have now have reason to suspect, at a minimum, that he was able to work on his swing inside the White House.
FAHRENTHOLD: That`s right. I mean, obviously, there is a history of presidents installing fitness equipment around the White House. Besides the golf simulator Obama put in, there`s bowling alleys, there`s tennis courts, all kinds of things like that.
So it`s not unusual that presidents would put in a way to pursue their hobby at the White House. What`s different in this case is that President Trump, as you pointed out, spent lots and lots of time criticizing President Obama for playing too much golf.
And also that Trump has sort of established this precedence of lots of period of unstructured executive time. When he doesn`t show up to the oval office, he`s sort of doing something in the residence. We don`t know what it is.
And in the middle of that, he installs this machine. So as you said, the White House says he hasn`t used it at all which begs the question of why he put it in.
O`DONNELL: And all the other presidents we could refer to in this area of highly used exercise equipment, every one of them made their daily schedules public. Every one of them was in the oval office at what we would all call first thing in the morning and some of them much earlier than that.
Donald Trump is known to arrive at 11:00 a.m. That`s an early arrival for him. And so he`s the one who has a presidential schedule that is unlike any other president before him.
FAHRENTHOLD: That`s right. And as you said, while running, before he was president, he made a really huge part of his attack of President Obama was that Obama was lazy basically. Obama wasn`t working hard enough, that he was spending too much time on golf.
And that President Trump, if you were ever elected would never waste time like that. He would work for the American people night and day.
O`DONNELL: And David Fahrenthold, your sources inside the White House were -- you got leaks from inside the White House to get this information?
FAHRENTHOLD: I work with another reporter, Josh Dawsey who is a great White House reporter and he was able to confirm it from inside the White House.
O`DONNELL: David Fahrenthold, thank you very much for joining us with your latest scoop tonight. Really appreciate it.
David Fahrenthold 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