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Michael Cohen to testify in public Feb 27. TRANSCRIPT: 2/20/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell.

Guests: Brett Horvath; Robert Reich

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

And people have had their bail revoked for a lot less than threatening imagery of the judge in their case. 


O`DONNELL:  And so, it could well be that this time next week, this time next week, Roger Stone is behind bars and therefore might not be able to watch Michael Cohen`s testimony this time next week. 

MADDOW:  Yes, I don`t know about, like, C-Span in the federal lockup.  I don`t know. 

O`DONNELL:  It depends on luck of the draw of where you are and, you know, some of them have TV.  Some of them don`t.  We`ll see what happens. 

MADDOW:  Wow.  Well, you know --

O`DONNELL:  This week, I mean, these hours, Rachel, yours and mine on this night next week will be the post-Michael Cohen testimony hours.  The first public testimony Michael Cohen will give to the House of Representatives about everything he was up to with Donald Trump. 

MADDOW:  When you saw that list of topics from Elijah Cummings today when he laid out the scope of the hearing, tell me honestly, did it not cross your mind that you and I should rent out a movie theater? 

O`DONNELL:  Oh, yes.  Oh, yes.  All those things --

MADDOW:  It`s 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday.  Our shows aren`t on until 11 or 12 hours later, right?  We could, like, get a theater.  I don`t know. 

O`DONNELL:  Rachel, at a location convenient to you. 


O`DONNELL:  You say the word. 

MADDOW:  Maybe a drive-in.  Thanks, Lawrence. 

O`DONNELL:  Thank you, Rachel. 

Well, as I said, next week is the week.  Next week is going to be a very bad week for Donald Trump.  The question tonight is, how bad? 

Democrats in the House of Representatives announced today that Michael Cohen will testify publicly exactly one week from now to the House Oversight Committee, and he will testify the next day in a closed session of the House Intelligence Committee.  The chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Elijah Cummings, released a list, the list Rachel was just talking about, of the subjects that Michael Cohen will testify about. 

The chairman`s statement says that this list was the result of consultations with the Department of Justice, which probably means consultations with the Office of the Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller in the Department of Justice.  And that might be another indicator, another clue that Robert Mueller is very close to completing his investigation and might even be submitting his final investigative report to the attorney general next week, maybe even before Michael Cohen`s testimony. 

"The Washington Post" is reporting tonight that Justice Department officials are preparing for the end of the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III`s nearly two-year investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and believe a confidential report could be issued in coming days, according to people familiar with the discussions.  The special counsel`s office agreed to delay the beginning of Michael Cohen`s prison sentence so that he could testify to Congress next week. 

Some of the issues that Michael Cohen is scheduled to testify about were part of the special prosecutor`s investigation, that list provided by Chairman Cummings is the president`s debts and payments relating to efforts to influence the 2016 election.  The president`s compliance with financial disclosure requirements.  The president`s compliance with campaign finance laws. 

The president`s compliance with tax laws.  The president`s potential and actual conflicts of interests.  The president`s business practices. 

The Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.  The accuracy of the president`s public statements.  Potentially fraudulent or inappropriate practices by the Trump Foundation.  And public efforts by the president and his attorney to intimidate Mr. Cohen or others not to testify. 

Michael Cohen has agreed to testify voluntarily and will not be under a subpoena, so this time next week when Michael Cohen is testifying to Congress, as I said, Roger Stone might be behind bars.  If his hearing does not go well for him tomorrow when he is trying to explain to Federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson that she should not change the conditions of his release while awaiting trial after he created an Instagram post showing a picture of the judge with a firearm -- a firearm crosshairs in the photograph.  The Instagram post attacks the judge for being appointed by President Obama and says she is part of a conspiracy to conduct an unfair trial of Roger Stone. 

And he uses those lies about the judge to try to raise money in that Instagram post.  And so at this very hour, a week from now Roger Stone might or might not be in jail, but we will definitely be covering the no doubt condemning testimony that Michael Cohen will deliver about Donald Trump, including an expansion of what Michael Cohen said under oath in federal court in Manhattan, that Donald Trump ordered him to commit federal election crimes in providing hush money to two women during the presidential campaign and that Donald Trump himself knowingly directed those crimes to be committed and joined in the commission of those crimes against the United States of America.  That`s what we are now guaranteed to be covering one week from tonight, but we might also be covering the end of the Mueller investigation. 

Leading off our discussion about all of that now, Harry Litman.  Harry is a legal scholar who has been following every turn of the Mueller investigation and the investigation of Michael Cohen.  Harry Litman is a former federal prosecutor and a former deputy assistant attorney general in the Clinton administration. 

And also joining us with the Capitol Hill perspective, Lisa Graves, who is a former deputy assistant attorney general in the Clinton administration and a former counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

And Sam Stein is with us.  He`s the politics editor of "The Daily Beast."  He is also an MSNBC political analyst.  He will cover the politics of what is looming for next week. 

And, Harry Litman, let me go to you first on what we`re hearing about the Mueller investigation.  Sync that with the now announced scheduling just tonight, the announced scheduling of Michael Cohen testifying publicly this time next week.  Does Michael Cohen`s basically being released by the special prosecutor to go testify and tell all publicly indicate, is that another indicator we may be close to the end of the Mueller investigation? 

HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY:  You know, I think it`s another indicator and surely it was coordinated with the special counsel.  And there are some good teasers out there, including the fact that some of Mueller`s lawyers are calling their old bosses saying, I`m ready to come back.  But it`s a puzzle to me, Lawrence, because there are so many big pieces that Mueller has not completed, starting with Roger Stone and going from there. 

So the reports, more and more little details come out and yet I remain uncertain that next week really will see the delivery of the report.  Time and not very much time will tell, but it`s not simply there are more things to finish up, it`s that some of those things seem so core to Mueller`s mission that it`s a bit of a mystery that he`d be ready to pass on the reins. 

O`DONNELL:  Harry, I completely embrace and share your uncertainty tonight.  I have -- I have no feeling at all myself about -- and no willingness to predict what will happen next week, other than what is already scheduled, which is the Michael Cohen hearing. 

And, Lisa Graves, with your experience on the Senate Judiciary Committee and your understanding of how these congressional committees handle testimony like this, what do you -- two things.  What are you expecting from that testimony next week?  And do you see in it an indicator that we could be near the end of the Robert Mueller investigation? 

LISA GRAVES, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, JUSTICE DEPARTMENT:  Well, I share your uncertainty and Harry`s uncertainty.  I think there are a lot of tea leaves out there, but it seems that there are a lot of things that remain outstanding for the special counsel.  I do think next week we`re going to see reprieves of the Republican grandstanding and public hysteria that they expressed at the hearing earlier this year in which they make all these accusations to try to disrupt those hearings. 

But I think we`re going to see possibly some very compelling testimony because of the plea agreement that Michael Cohen has entered into.  And it`s important that we see that testimony as the American people because we don`t know what`s going to happen at the Justice Department with William Barr as the attorney general, in terms of his approach to this, or with the new nominee to be deputy attorney general, who has no criminal background experience, Jeffrey Rosen. 

So, it`s important for the public to have the chance to hear this testimony because we don`t know what the Justice Department is going to do when it does have a chance to take a look at that report by Robert Mueller. 

O`DONNELL:  Sam Stein, you`re free to offer your guess in the midst of all of this collective uncertainty about what Robert Mueller`s going to do next week, but you are also here as an experienced eye on the politics, the politics that will explode in Washington next week when Michael Cohen begins publicly testifying under oath, answering questions about the person who will not be referred to as individual one, as President Trump was in federal court here in Manhattan, but will be referred to by name, with Michael Cohen describing the president directing him to commit crimes during the presidential campaign. 

SAM STEIN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Right.  Well, I`m not going to offer a guess about what`s happening with the Mueller report.  I`m not stupid enough to do that. 

We`ve had -- we`ve had various times where everyone was dead certain that it was happening or coming to a conclusion within a matter of weeks or months, only to end up in this current state.  That said, all the signs seem to be pointing in that direction.  Obviously, Rod Rosenstein had let it be known he was not going to leave before the probe`s conclusion and he is now apparently nearing the exit doors.  So, it does seem like we`re getting towards that sort of uncertain conclusion. 

And, yes, I think the politics will be explosive.  Obviously, a lot of it depends on what happens with what Mueller produces and whether there even is a report and whether that report is made public, but also there is a very good possibility that the conclusion comes with some more indictments, which, of course, would be explosive in its own right. 

And then on top of that, as you noted, we have this Cohen testimony which has been delayed on a couple of different occasions.  You know, it`s difficult to ascertain what the political fallout will be, but I think it`s fairly easy to conclude it won`t be a great day for Donald Trump.  Yes, there will be some Republicans running interference for him on the committee, the people on that committee who are still Republicans tend to be allies of the president.  They`ve kind of hinted they want to run that type of interference.

But, by and large, what we`re going to see is a person who has served by the president`s side for many years as his attorney, who has been involved in not just the most important business decisions of his tenure, but also the early political ones, too, who is going to peel back the curtains for us on what seems to be from all reports a very unseemly operation, both in terms of its business and its politics.  So I can`t imagine that Donald Trump will enjoy next week.  If anything, it`s going to be very painful. 

O`DONNELL:  And, Harry, I suspect among the things that are going to occur when Michael Cohen testifies is he will cover ground that we already know about because it was covered in federal court in Manhattan.  It was covered in that dispassionate language both in the written pleadings in the case and then in what Michael Cohen recited in the courtroom.  But there were no questions.  He wasn`t being probed about the statements that he was making.  There was the use of that -- those phrases like individual one.

This is going to be that live exchange.  This is going to be Michael Cohen the human being.  This is going to be Michael Cohen choosing his own words, choosing his own words about someone he now says has been threatening him, and talking about how they committed some crimes together during the presidential campaign in order to influence the vote in the presidential campaign so that Donald Trump could win. 

America`s going to hear someone testifying under oath about exactly that and that can change everything. 

LITMAN:  Completely.  It`s likely going to be riveting.  Think back to Watergate.  There was all kinds of reports back there, but when you actually had all of the president`s men in the -- in the dock, in the Senate to saying back and forth in candid terms, it`s a game changer, exactly as you say. 

They`ll be a sort of -- oh, by the way, Cohen`s not -- he`s appearing voluntarily, not under subpoena, and that will make the interview or the testimony more free-ranging.  It won`t be constrained by worries about its effect on Mueller`s testimony.  So, you`ll have some really vivid questioning by the Democrats.  Then it will be a Republican`s turn to basically lambast him.  Then you`ll go back to the Democrats with more vivid uncovering of things we`ve heard about in the abstract but nothing like having the details really revealed.  It`s going to be a dramatic day. 

O`DONNELL:  Lisa, I think we know what to expect, as Harry just said, from the Democratic side.  They are just going to want to help Michael Cohen get his story out with as much detail as possible.  On the Republican side, with your experience in the Senate Judiciary Committee, what are you expecting tactically on the Republican side of the Michael Cohen hearing? 

GRAVES:  Well, I`m afraid we`re going to see a reprise of the sort of Lindsey Graham attack mode we saw during the Kavanaugh hearing.  I suspect we`ll see a lot of, you know, near shouting, interruptions and, you know, really harsh accusations coming from the Republicans to try to sort of change the narrative and put Michael Cohen on the defensive. 

Cohen has been, you know, very contrite in his statements to the court.  He`s, you know, expressed, you know, regret over his role in these crimes, and I think that it will be very hard for the Republicans to sit still and hear Michael Cohen testifying under oath about specifically, as you said, Lawrence, President Trump and candidate Trump doing "X" or "Y" and being complicit in trying to, you know, hide the money in his involvement in the hush money and other activities in terms of Trump`s business interests in Russia, which he lied about and denied repeatedly during the campaign and has continued to lie about. 

So we`ll have an opportunity to really hear from Michael Cohen about a range of issues.  And as Harry said, he`s not subject to subpoena.  And that means that there will be a free range of testimony that can be offered about these really serious matters. 

O`DONNELL:  Sam Stein, quickly before we go.  At this time a week from now as we`re analyzing Michael Cohen`s testimony, will impeachment get new energy in Washington next week? 

STEIN:  It really -- I mean, it really depends.  I am curious if they press him on that disputed "BuzzFeed" report about whether Donald Trump directed him to offer previous false testimony to congress.  Those are the types of questions that depending on how Michael Cohen answers it, you start getting into talk about impeachment or those types of proceedings.  But we can`t possibly know until we see Michael Cohen sit down and express his comfort level with going into those types of details. 

O`DONNELL:  The ever-patient Sam Stein who`s waiting for next week. 

Harry Litman, Lisa Graves, Sam Stein, thank you for starting us off.  Really appreciate it. 

And when we come back, a warning that foreign state actors like Russia and North Korea are already at it again.  They are already attacking the 2020 presidential campaign. 

And it appears that Elizabeth Warren`s tax plan is winning President Trump`s -- is beating the president Trump tax bill in popularity with voters.  Former Bill Clinton Secretary of Labor Robert Reich will be here to discuss all of that. 

And in tonight`s LAST WORD, we will evaluate Andrew McCabe`s credibility about what he said last night on this program and in his book, "The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump". 

And as of tonight, as of right now tonight, not one person has contradicted a single thing that Andrew McCabe`s book contains or anything that Andrew McCabe has said in interviews.


O`DONNELL:  We have breaking news tonight, some shocking news.  The FBI says it stopped a plot by a lieutenant in the Coast Guard to launch a mass murder attack in this country, an attack on prominent Democrats, including presidential candidates, and also some well-known journalists, including hosts of programs on MSNBC and CNN. 

Court filings indicate that federal agents arrested Lieutenant Christopher Paul Hasson on Friday, who they say was planning, quote, to murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country.  Federal agents searching his Maryland home found an arsenal of 15 assault rifles, shotguns and hand guns and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition.  They also found a large stock of steroids and human growth hormone that he planned to use prior to launching his murder spree. 

He conducted an Internet search for the phrase "civil war if Trump impeached."  His list of targets included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Maxine Waters, Senator Richard Blumenthal, whom he refers to in that list as Sen Blumen-Jew.  And many of the senators running for president in 2020 were on his list. 

In a letter found by investigators, Lieutenant Hasson wrote: I am a longtime white nationalist, having been a skinhead 30-plus years ago before my time in the military. 

The documents reveal that the defendant, quote, conducted online searches and made thousands of visits for pro-Russian neo-fascist and neo-Nazi literature.  A new report in "Politico" says there are signs of some of the same activity from foreign state actors online that we saw in their interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.  That activity is now aimed at the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.  That is, according to a new report from "Politico", which says that there are signs that some of the activity is coming from foreign state actors. 

The goal of the coordinated barrage appears to be undermining the nascent candidacies through the dissemination of memes, hashtags, misinformation and distortions of their positions, but the divisive nature of many of the posts also hints at a broader effort to sow discord and chaos with the Democratic presidential primary.  The main targets appear to be four of the leading current leading presidential candidates, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Beto O`Rourke, who is not yet an announced presidential candidate.  According to "Politico", there are clear signs of a coordinated effort of undetermined size that shares similar characteristics with the computational propaganda attacks launched by trolls at Russia`s Internet Research Agency in the 2016 presidential campaign. 

Joining us now to discuss all of this is Brett Horvath.  He is the president of Guardians.AI, that`s the tech company that helped "Politico" analyze what`s going on in the disinformation campaigns. 

We`re also joined by Malcolm Nance, who is an MSNBC counterterrorism and intelligence analyst, and the author of "The Plot to Destroy Democracy: How Putin and His Spies are Undermining America and Dismantling the West". 

And, Malcolm, let me begin with you on this arrest that we`re now learning about of a lieutenant in the coast guard who was planning what the prosecutors are calling a mass murder attack unlike anything we`ve ever seen.  Some very specific targets included in this mass murder that he was planning. 

MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC COUNTERTERRORISM AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST:  You know, I read the report and I took a look at what he was saying.  Very interesting factor here is that he seemed to be an admirer of Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian neo-fascist, anti-globalist, you know, supporter of Russia who believed there need to be a global international of white nationalists who would go around conducting mass murder. 

Breivik himself carried out a mass murder and a car bomb attack in Norway in which he killed over 89 people, including an attack on Utoya Island, a political party children`s summer camp where he shot 69 children to death so he said he could eliminate the next generation of liberals` leadership from Norway.  This appears to be a person who wanted to copycat that attack.  He said he followed Breivik`s manifesto, saying about taking steroids to pump yourself up for the attack. 

What I find most noteworthy, his arsenal, he had a lot of guns but he didn`t have a lot of ammunition.  So, there is most likely somewhere else caches of ammunition and weapons which he intended to carry out these attacks with. 

O`DONNELL:  Andrew McCabe appeared at 8:00 p.m. tonight on Chris Hayes` show.  Chris Hayes was actually one of the people on this hit list of this coast guard lieutenant who has been arrested, who is now in custody.  Chris Hayes asked Andrew McCabe if the -- how the FBI considers these kinds of threats from white supremacists like this suspect who is now in custody. 

Let`s listen to what Andrew McCabe said about that. 


ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER ACTING FBI DIRECTOR:  The FBI takes the threat posed by domestic terrorism in all its forms very seriously.  Does it take it seriously enough?  That`s a different question.  As this threat continues and develops and becomes more violent and more intense, the FBI, I`m sure, is going through a process of constantly re-evaluating how their intelligence collection and their investigative resources are positioned against this threat. 

But I can tell you from my own experience it is one of the most concerning and closely watched threats that we have in the counterterrorism division at the FBI. 


O`DONNELL:  And, Malcolm, in this case, closely watched enough that they were able to catch this one and stop it. 

NANCE:  Well, you know, there`s this saying with the FBI that if you -- if you`re plotting an attack and you`re trying to communicate with ISIS or al Qaeda, you`re talking to the FBI.  They have gotten down international counterterrorism to a science here in the United States.  It is the right- wing exists, and we`re seeing the largest level of right-wing extremism since the 1980`s militias movement. 

The problem is many people in this movement believe that law enforcement and organizations like the FBI are going to be sympathetic to them.  It`s just a question of manpower and resources and the belief that this ideological underpinning of white supremacy is a threat on par and equal to what they believe is Islamic extremist terrorism. 

Until the bureau gets its orders, and it`s certainly not getting any help from this White House, they are going to be stressed and stretched to be able to meet this threat.  And one other thing: this is one individual.  It is very hard to get in the mind of a single killer. 

But as soon as you get these indications, the organizations like the Coast Guard intelligence and the FBI snapped down on that person. 

O`DONNELL:  Brett, you did the analysis for politico about what`s happening already in the 2020 campaign from foreign actors like Russia and North Korea.  This suspect who is in custody who was planning mass murder was trafficking in some of these Russian-sourced materials online.  What you have found in the reporting at "Politico" apparently is that you`re seeing patterns that are virtually identical to what we saw in 2016. 

BRETT HORVATH, GUARDIANS.AI PRESIDENT:  Correct.  And I don`t know the particulars of this case, but I think this and the recent statements by Dan Coats and others highlights that this isn`t just about fake news.  It`s not just about politics.  It`s about a full-scale attack to divide and confuse Americans and rip at the fabric of our society. 

And so, for us, we look at this research from a nonpartisan perspective because we see weaponization of ideas on all sides.  And that -- and that particular case, to me, it`s an example of narratives have consequences and memes can turn into behaviors.  What happens on Twitter and social media doesn`t stay there. 

So, we saw a troubling shift in tactics and narratives in the middle of the 2018 cycle.  We analyzed over 140 million tweets and saw that there was a shift in tactics that evaded detection by how most researchers find this stuff.  They`re getting more clever, more nuanced. 

And then all of these accounts started surging last minute, really the last week of the 2018 campaign, and they were pushing narratives around voter fraud, around the caravan crisis, and these narratives started to have more and more calls to violence if there were cases of voter fraud or other conspiracies that came true. 

O`DONNELL:  And what do you -- do you think that the correct measures are being taken to defend against this kind of stuff for the 2020 campaign? 

HORVATH:  Unfortunately not.  I think that`s one of the items both from the government, these political campaigns, journalists and NGOs really just aren`t equipped.  We`re still debating what happened in 2016.  Meanwhile, bad actors both domestic and abroad are evolving their techniques, going to new platforms and being more targeted in the way they really try and hack the thoughts of everyday Americans. 

O`DONNELL:  We`re out of time for this tonight but we`re going to have to have you both back to guide the audience about what they should be consuming and how they should be consuming political information online during the campaign.

Brett Horvath, Malcolm Nance, thank you both for joining us tonight.  Really appreciate it.

And when we come back, a new poll shows a majority of Republicans support Elizabeth Warren`s plan to raise taxes on the super-rich.  Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich will join us with his analysis of the issues being raised by the Democratic presidential candidates, especially the economic issues.  Those are the issues that Robert Reich advised Bill Clinton on in his successful 1992 presidential campaign.


O`DONNELL:  Donald Trump has tax problems, very big tax problems, with most taxpayers complaining that they don`t feel the impact of the Trump tax cuts, which were designed to give the big benefits to corporations and the super-rich.

No voter knows just how much Donald Trump himself benefitted from the tax cuts that he signed into law because we`ve never seen a Trump tax return.  That`s why Democrats in the House of Representatives are advancing a bill that would require presidential candidates to release 10 years of tax returns, something that Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren has already done.

The even bigger tax problem that Donald Trump has for his re-election campaign is that the Democratic proposals for taxing the super-rich are super popular.  According to a new poll, a majority of voters, including Republicans, support Elizabeth Warren`s two percent tax on wealth over $50 million, 75 percent of Democrats support it and 51 percent of Republicans support it.

And a majority of voters approve of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez`s proposal to tax income over $10 million at 70 percent which is double the current tax rate for income over $10 million.  Senator Bernie Sanders is the newest entry into the Democratic field of presidential candidates and he is proposing higher estate taxes on the super-rich.

President Trump attacks all of the candidates` ideas about how they would spend the money that their new taxes would raise, such as Elizabeth Warren`s new proposal for universal childcare.  The president dismisses all of these ideas as socialism.

That`s the same line that opponents of Social Security used in 1935.  It`s the same line that opponents of Medicare used in 1965.  It`s the same line that opponents of Obamacare used when Congress was voting on that.

But the problem for Donald Trump and his speechwriters is that`s the kind of socialism that Americans like and Americans want.  In the last presidential campaign, the Bernie Sanders campaign went a long way to demystify the word socialism in American politics.  So what does the word socialism mean in American politics now and will it work as a way to attack Democratic candidates` policy proposals?

Professor Robert Reich, who served as Bill Clinton`s labor secretary and served as an economic adviser to Bill Clinton`s presidential campaign, will join us next with his view of the policy playing field for the presidential campaign.


O`DONNELL:  President Trump plans to run against socialism no matter who the Democratic nominee for president is, but polls show that attack won`t work.

Joining us now, someone with real experience advancing economic policy on the campaign trail.  Robert Reich was an economic adviser to candidate Bill Clinton on the presidential campaign of 1992, before becoming Bill Clinton`s secretary of labor.  Robert Reich is currently a professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley.  His latest book is "The Common Good."

And Professor Reich, I have a feeling Donald Trump would say that sounds like a socialist title to him, "The Common Good."  I`m not sure he`d like the sound of that.

ROBERT REICH, FORMER BILL CLINTON LABOR SECRETARY:  I`m not sure he knows what the common good is, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL:  That`s right.  That`s right.

REICH:  But for 85 years now -- in fact, just before the program I went back and I checked.  For 85 years, Republicans have been accusing Democratic presidents of being socialists.  And it started with Franklin D. Roosevelt, as you pointed out before when he was trying to get Social Security passed.

And then Lyndon Johnson, 30 years later with regard to Medicare.  But these are the most popular programs in America.  And Trump voters love Social Security and they love Medicare.  And certainly, with regard to pre- existing conditions on the Affordable Care Act, most Americans want that as well.  So this is not -- this attack, the socialism attack, I don`t think is going to stick.

O`DONNELL:  And the -- there`s a poll out on Medicare for all, for example, 70 percent in favor of Medicare for all.  Look, I accept the label of socialist for things like Medicare, Social Security.  I think those are socialist programs.  They`re what I call good socialism and America thinks it`s so good it refuses to call it socialism because it seems to think that`s a bad word.

REICH:  Well, certainly those of us who are over 30 years old, we remember the Soviet Union and some of us even remember Joe McCarthy in the 1950s calling Democrats and anybody else he could find communists.  But, you know, in these days, those labels really mean very, very little.

Most Americans care about what I call kitchen table economics.  And they care about their wages, their benefits, they care about retirement.  They`re worried about funding college education for their kids.  They`re worried about affording drugs and health care and everything else.

And to the extent that Democrats can be Democrats and respond to these kitchen table economic issues, then labels, frankly, don`t mean a thing.

O`DONNELL:  And the -- it seems that everyone has a form of socialism that they like.  When you look at the NFL and how they get their stadiums paid for by local taxpayers.  You look at Amazon wanting to do business, open up more office space in New York City and it wants tax breaks from the local government, that`s socialistic help from the local government.

And so everyone seems to find something socialistic that they like.  And if they like it in America, they don`t call it socialism.

REICH:  Well, that`s right.  In fact, Donald Trump believes in and has been promoting since he was elected socialism for the rich.


REICH:  And harsh capitalism for everybody else.  I mean, look at the $1.9 trillion cut in taxes for big corporations and for the very, very wealthy.  No conditions placed on that, obviously.  He said everybody would be benefitted, it would trickle down.

It didn`t trickle down.  It went into executive salaries and stock buy- backs.  Well, that`s a form of socialism if you think about socialism for the rich, it`s about basically giving them huge benefits for doing nothing.

O`DONNELL:  Robert Reich, are you ready to get back into presidential campaigning?  Is there a candidate you`re going to sign up with?

REICH:  No, Lawrence.  I think that like I usually do, I`m going to try to be as helpful as I can.  This particular crew of Democrats, both the ones who have announced and others who are in the wings, frankly, I`ve been in and around the Democratic campaigns for the last, I don`t even want to say, 45 years.

And this is among the most gifted and experienced, and I think really impressive crew that the Democrats have fielded.  And it`s also the most diverse, clearly the most diverse.  I think this is terrific.

O`DONNELL:  Robert Reich, thank you very much for joining us tonight.  Really appreciate it.

REICH:  Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL:  And when we come back, tonight`s last word, the credibility of Andrew McCabe.


O`DONNELL:  Former Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe was my guest for most of this hour last night, Discussing the revelations in his new book, "The Threat, How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump."

One of the most important and historic scenes in the book is the meeting in which Andrew McCabe tells congressional leaders that the FBI has opened a counterintelligence investigation of the president of the United States.  That means that the FBI was investigating the real possibility that the president could be an agent of or an unwilling asset of the Russian government and Vladimir Putin.

It was a briefing that no one in that room ever expected to hear about an American president.  The president of the United States was a suspect in an investigation of his possibly illegal dealings with Russia.  It was the plot of a bad movie being presented to the gang of eight

The gang of eight is the Capitol Hill term for the top level congressional leaders who receive the most classified briefings on intelligence matters.  Andrew McCabe`s credibility has been challenged by most of the interviewers he has faced when discussing his book because the inspector general of the Department of Justice found that Andrew McCabe was not completely truthful when questioned about contacts with the news media while he was deputy director of the FBI, the year before the events described in his book.

After this break, we`ll consider Andrew McCabe`s credibility and reveal how Andrew McCabe discovered that the gang of eight is really a gang of about two dozen.


O`DONNELL:  Here`s what former Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe told us last night about his meeting with the so-called gang of eight of congressional leaders and the leaders of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees.


O`DONNELL:  In this meeting in the gang of eight, you`re telling them that you have ordered a counterintelligence investigation of the president of the United States.  Did you make it clear to them that this is a counterintelligence investigation of Donald Trump?  And did you provide them with any evidence that in effect launched this investigation?

ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER ACTING FBI DIRECTOR:  So I don`t want to go into too much detail about exactly what we discussed in that briefing.  I want to be respectful of the fact that those communications between the leaders of the department and the leaders on the Hill are things that we respect in terms of being confidential.


O`DONNELL:  And so respecting the confidentiality of that meeting, Andrew McCabe did not tell us any of the specific evidence that he presented in that briefing.  He simply said that he told the congressional leaders that the FBI was now officially investigating the president of the United States.

In his book, he does not reveal specifically what he said.  His book says, "After reminding the committee of how this investigation began, I told them of additional steps we had taken.  No one interrupted.  No one pushed back.  The mood in the room was sober.  Schumer had been nodding his head and looking at me very directly throughout the brief.  On McConnell`s side of the table, I sensed a great deal of resignation."  I asked him about that last night.


O`DONNELL:  And none of them asked a single question about it or raised any issue of resistance to that investigation?

MCCABE:  Lawrence, there was no resistance whatsoever.  The purpose of the briefing was to brief them on the steps we had taken.  I also walked them through the history, how we had gotten to the point where we were at that place and time, and then to brief them on the steps that I had taken during that week.

It was the same briefing in which Rod Rosenstein announced to the leadership that he had appointed a special counsel.  But at the conclusion of my remarks, there were no objections.  There were no protests.  There was no -- there was a clear sense in the room that people were resigned to the fact that we had taken a necessary step.  That was my impression.


O`DONNELL:  In judging Andrew McCabe`s credibility about that meeting, you should consider that no one who was in that meeting is now objecting to Andrew McCabe`s written description of that meeting or what Andrew McCabe said about that meeting on this program last night.

Andrew McCabe discovered in the room that the gang of eight is really a gang of about 24 because each of the members usually brings a couple of staff members with them.  So not one of the two dozen people who were in that room has emerged to simply say Andrew McCabe`s not telling the truth about what happened in that room.

NBC News got an official no comment from six of the members who were in that room.  Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Congressman Adam Schiff, Senator Mitch McConnell, Senator Chuck Schumer, Senator Richard Burr, Senator Mark Warner.

Former Speaker Paul Ryan issued a statement saying we never commented on his intelligence briefings and Devin Nunes issued a statement that simply is not true.  He said, "I cannot comment on the content of gang of eight briefings."

That is not true.  The truth is he cannot comment on the classified content and only the classified content of gang of eight briefings, just the classified content.  That`s all that`s restricted.

And that`s what we saw Andrew McCabe do here last night.  That is why Andrew McCabe would not tell us the specifics of the evidence he presented in that room because that is classified.  But Devin Nunes would not be revealing anything that happened in that room if he simply said Andrew McCabe is not telling the truth about what happened in that room.  But Devin Nunes has not said that.  Carefully not said that.

Andrew McCabe`s book has been available for days now.  And there is not one sentence about anyone in that book that has been challenged by anyone in that book.  In interviews, Andrew McCabe has revealed that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein more than once seriously discussed the possibility of wearing a wire into the oval office to record his discussions with the president because he believed that those discussions could include evidence that could be used against the president.

The Justice Department issued a statement about that which did not deny that Rod Rosenstein seriously discussed wearing a wire into the oval office.  The statement says, "The deputy attorney general never authorized any recording that Mr. McCabe references."

Exactly.  That`s exactly what Andrew McCabe said.  There`s no conflict there.  Andrew McCabe never said that Rod Rosenstein authorized the wearing of the wire.  He says that Rod Rosenstein just talked about it and talked about it more than once.  So there you have Rod Rosenstein in effect with that statement confirming that he talked about it because he doesn`t deny that he talked about it in the statement that the Justice Department issued.

In interviews, Andrew McCabe has also revealed that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein more than once conducted serious discussions about the possibility of using the constitutional procedure of the 25th Amendment to remove the president from office.

The Justice Department`s statement says the deputy attorney general previously has stated there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amendment, nor was the deputy attorney general in a position to consider invoking the 25th Amendment.

Exactly.  There`s no conflict there because Andrew McCabe did not say that Rod Rosenstein was in a position to invoke the 25th Amendment because everyone knows the deputy attorney general cannot invoke the 25th Amendment.  It can only be invoked by the vice president, first the vice president, and then a majority of the cabinet has to join the vice president.

And so the Justice Department`s statement does not contradict a single word that Andrew McCabe has said about Rod Rosenstein seriously discussing wearing a wire into the oval office and seriously discussing whether the 25th Amendment could be used to remove the president.

The Justice Department`s statement serves in effect as a confirmation that what Andrew McCabe is saying is absolutely true about Rod Rosenstein because Rod Rosenstein does not dare to contradict one word that Andrew McCabe actually said about him, and that is because Rod Rosenstein no doubt knows that Andrew McCabe took careful notes of all of his conversations and all of those notes are in the possession of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller.

So if you`re trying to judge Andrew McCabe`s credibility about what he has written in his book and what he has been saying in his interviews, the fact is that as of tonight, and now this could change, but as of right now tonight, not one word Andrew McCabe has written or said in his interviews has been contradicted by any of the people he is talking about in his book or in his interviews.


ANDREW MCCABE, FMR. FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR:  I knew with this book I had the opportunity to give the American public the rare chance to peek behind the FBI curtain to understand who does this work, why do we do it, and how do we do it.  How do we make these decisions?  Where this incredible organization is going to go and what we`re going to do?

It`s not the story that you`ve heard from the President.  It is not the story that you`ve heard from his supporters on the Hill.  It is the actual story of how work is done in an institution that is crucial to the health of this democracy.


O`SONNELL:  Andrew McCabe gets "Tonight`s Last Word.  "The 11th Hour" with Brian Williams starts now.