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Cohen to describe Trump as "madman". TRANSCRIPT: 2/21/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell.

Guests: Jim Himes, Hakeem Jeffries, Laurence Tribe, Stuart Gerson

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

Here`s my phone, right there. 


O`DONNELL:  Do you know how many people have access to my phone? 

MADDOW:  I`m hoping it`s a number that -- well, I don`t know. 

O`DONNELL:  It`s just me and Bernie.  He`s got access to everything, right? 

You know how many people have access to Roger Stone`s phone? 


O`DONNELL:  He doesn`t either.  That`s what he said -- that`s what he said under oath in federal court today. 

MADDOW:  You know, the under oath and talking to the judge thing, it`s just not the same thing as going on talk radio.  You`re really held to a different standard. 

O`DONNELL:  Sure is.  I mean, the question really is today how much little perjury, if we can call it that, are you allowed to get away with in the hearing to decide whether or not you should be in jail awaiting trial?  And it seems like if he gets away with it, he got away with a bunch of little perjuries today. 

MADDOW:  Well, for the moment.  The thing is, this is the start of his trial, and to the extent that prosecutors are able to bring that judge evidence that anything he said was untrue, that itself will be treated as a very serious matter even if it was about very stupid stuff. 

O`DONNELL:  And Rachel, Bernie will have your phone ready for you as soon as you get off the set there. 

MADDOW:  Remind me to bring the lighter fluid. 

O`DONNELL:  Thank you, Rachel. 

Well, congressional oversight of the president of the United States finally begins in earnest next week when Mr. Cohen goes to Washington.  It was announced today that President Trump`s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen will testify in a closed session next week to the Senate Intelligence Committee.  That comes after announcements earlier this week that Michael Cohen will testify in a closed session next week to the House Intelligence Committee and most importantly Michael Cohen will testify publicly, next Wednesday, to the House Oversight Committee, where one source close to Michael Cohen says he will publicly say his former friend and former boss, who is now the president of the United States, is a madman. 

This will be the first time America has seen under oath testimony about President Trump from someone who knows almost every bad thing there is to know about Donald Trump.  Today, Michael Cohen made a surprise visit to Washington and he wouldn`t say a word about why he was there. 


REPORTER:  Mr. Cohen, why were you on the Hill today?  Sir, were you meeting with the Senate intel team? 

REPORTER:  What`s your message to the president ahead of the Mueller report? 


O`DONNELL:  Reporters, as you can see, followed Michael Cohen everywhere he went, including to the offices of the Senate Intelligence Committee.  And according to Lanny Davis, who accompanied Michael Cohen and his lawyers, Michael Cohen met only with his own legal team while he was at the Senate Intelligence Committee offices.  That probably means that Michael Cohen was there to review documents and evidence in possession of the Intelligence Committee in preparation for his testimony to the committee next week. 

Washington is now in eager anticipation mode for the completion of Special Counsel Robert Mueller`s report on his investigation, which according to multiple reports could be just days away.  The Justice Department rule for special counsels says at the conclusion of the special counsel`s work, he or she shall provide the attorney general with a confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions reached by the special counsel.  This report will be handled as a confidential document, as are internal documents relating to any federal criminal investigation. 

The rules require that the attorney general notify Congress about the special counsel`s findings.  Our first two guests tonight are two members of Congress who will be notified about the special counsel`s findings, but we don`t yet know who else will be notified. 

Here`s what Attorney General William Barr said about that in his confirmation hearing. 


SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE:  Will you commit to making any report Mueller produces at the conclusion of his investigation available to Congress and to the public? 

WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES:  As I said in my statement, I am going to make as much information available as I can consistent with the rules and regulations that are part of the special counsel regulations. 


O`DONNELL:  Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal raised the possibility today that Democrats in Congress might subpoena the Mueller report if they are not satisfied with what Attorney General Barr releases. 


SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT:  There will be subpoenas from Congress, including I hope from the Senate Judiciary Committee, where I sit.  But there will also be a public perception of cover-up because if William Barr believes, I think he does, that a sitting president can`t be indicted, I disagree with him, and he brings no charges that Mueller says can`t be brought, and if there are also no public disclosures, the public rightly will feel that there is a cover-up.  A Senate or House committee can subpoena anyone. 


O`DONNELL:  We`re joined tonight by two Democratic members of the House of Representatives who are on the committees that could issue subpoenas for the Mueller report. 

Congressman Jim Himes of Connecticut is a member of the Intelligence Committee, which will interview Michael Cohen behind closed doors next Thursday, after Michael Cohen has publicly testified to the Oversight Committee on Wednesday. 

We`re also joined by Congressman Hakeem Jeffries of New York, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over the impeachment process in the House of Representatives. 

And, Congressman Jeffries, will your committee subpoena the Mueller report if it is not delivered by the attorney general? 

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY), HOUSE DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS CHAIRMAN:  It`s my expectation that, you know, the House of Representatives as the custodians of our democracy right now, the American people voted for meaningful checks and balances on an out-of-control executive branch, voted for transparency, voted for disclosure, and if the Department of Justice refuses to publicly release the findings themselves, then I believe it will be our responsibility to make sure that we subpoena that information, that we present it to the American people, and that we even call Bob Mueller or others to testify to explain their conclusions. 

O`DONNELL:  And others in addition to Mueller, for example, could include other members of his prosecutorial team, possibly. 

JEFFRIES:  That`s absolutely correct.  Under Chairman Jerry Nadler`s discretion there`s a wide range of possibilities but we`re committed to making sure that the report sees the light of day.  Brandeis said sunlight is the best disinfectant.  We agree. 

O`DONNELL:  Can you think of any reason why Robert Mueller could reasonably decline to testify to your committee if his work is completed? 

JEFFRIES:  Well, I think he could potentially conclude if the report is publicly available that it speaks for itself.  And certainly he has taken the position that he`s declined to be public in his communication with the American people.  He`s let his work speak for itself to date.  He may let the report speak for itself.  But it will be critical that the report is seen by the American people. 

O`DONNELL:  And, Congressman Himes, it`s entirely possible the report won`t speak for itself because as the rules suggest, it can be a really minimal report simply saying here are the prosecutions we brought and here`s why, here are the prosecutions we declined to bring, the so-called declinations in that rule, and here`s why.  And those -- that could be basically written in shorthand. 

REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE:  Yes, that`s right.  Lawrence, there`s two reasons why these types of reports are generally kept private.  One is -- and in this case this would be true.  You don`t want to disclose sources and methods, anything that would damage our national security. 

The second one of course, and this is typical in the prosecutorial realm, if there`s somebody whose reputation would be damaged but who`s not being charged with a crime, you want to protect that reputation. 

Now, the point here of course is that we have an overwhelming public interest and we can deal with those two issues but we have an absolutely overwhelming public interest in further understanding the two elements of this investigation, understanding exactly what Russia did.  We have a public interest because we need to be prepared for them to do it again.  And, of course, we have a public interest in finally having resolution to the question that has divided this country politically and torn it apart. 

And, of course, you know, ended up with mud on the Department of Justice and attacks on the character of the special counsel.  And that is the question of whether there was any collusion by the president or the president`s people.  The answer may be no, in which case the president should have a real interest in getting it out there. 

The answer may be yes, in which case the American public has a very real interest in knowing whether that is true. 

O`DONNELL:  Would you expect your committee to also subpoena the Mueller report?  Could there be multiple subpoenas from multiple House committees?

  HIMES:  I think there could be.  That might be redundant.  You know, the Congress does have the power to subpoena documents from the executive. 

It will be sort of interesting because on my committee of course, the former chairman, Devin Nunes, pushed the boundary of what Congress would ordinarily demand of the Justice Department.  Devin Nunes established a whole new frontier in terms of demanding actual investigative material around the Clinton investigation in a way that made the Department of Justice and the FBI very, very nervous. 

It`s going to be pretty hard for Republicans to all of a sudden say oh, you`ve got no right to go to the Department of Justice to ask for investigative materials, particularly given the overwhelming public interest in finally getting some closure on what actually happened here. 

O`DONNELL:  Andrew McCabe, as he details in his new book, worked with Robert Mueller, knows Robert Mueller very well in Robert Mueller`s previous job as director of the FBI.  And this is what Andrew McCabe said today, what he told Ari Melber about what he expects in the Mueller report. 


ANDREW MCCABE, FORMER FBI ACTING DIRECTOR:  I expect that Director Mueller`s team will produce an all-encompassing report that details exactly what they found and exactly what they think about it.  I think it`s unbelievably important that that information is shared with Congress.  And I`d also like to see it shared to the greatest extent possible with the American people. 


O`DONNELL:  And, Congressman Jeffries, that`s someone who has worked closely with Robert Mueller, knows his work methodology. 

JEFFRIES:  Well, it`s incredibly important because we know a few things.  All of the president`s men are going down in flames, from Manafort to Gates to Papadopoulos to Cohen to Flynn and now, Roger Stone. 

It`s often said where there`s smoke there`s fire.  There`s a whole lot of smoke emanating from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  We need some clarity.  The Mueller report can provide that. 

There appears to be a triangular relationship between the Trump campaign, WikiLeaks, and Russian spies.  Roger Stone may be the link between the three.  Hopefully the Mueller report will clear all of that up for the American people. 

O`DONNELL:  The other view of what the Mueller report could be is written by Neal Katyal in "The New York Times," and he says the report is unlikely to be a dictionary-thick tome, which will disappoint some observers, but such brevity is not necessarily good news for the president.  In fact, quite the opposite. 

A concise Mueller report might act as a road map to investigation for the Democratic House of Representatives and it might also lead to further criminal investigation by other prosecutors.  A short Mueller report would mark the end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end. 

And so, Congressman Himes, there we see the two possible versions of the Mueller report, the extensive one, all-encompassing as Andrew McCabe says he expects, and Neal Katyal recognizing the possibility it could be something much shorter. 

HIMES:  Yes.  And that`s right.  And I mean, who knows?  We could get into an awful lot of speculation about how big, how small, what it will contain. 

One thing is for sure, and I say this because one of the real tragedies of this whole experience has been the president of the United States and the president`s people damaging the reputation of Robert Mueller, a man who was wounded in Vietnam, combat veteran, a lifetime of service to this country, besmirched and attacked and smeared by the Trump administration, by the president himself. 

One thing is for sure.  Bob Mueller`s interests will be the interest of the American people and doing the right thing.  So my guess is bob Mueller will have figured out a way to either establish the facts or, as Mr. Katyal said, if those facts point in questionable directions that are beyond the jurisdiction of his investigation he will point to them in such a way that other prosecutors or the Congress of the United States could pursue them. 

O`DONNELL:  Now, we`ve had a "New York Times" report indicating that President Trump called up Matthew Whitaker, the acting attorney general, to try to get him to take action involving the prosecution of Michael Cohen in the Southern District of New York. 

Let`s listen to what Matthew Whitaker said to your committee when he testified about this. 


MATTHEW WHITAKER, ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL:  At no time has the White House asked for nor have I provided any promises or commitments concerning the special counsel`s investigation or any other investigation. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did the president lash out to you about Mr. Cohen`s guilty plea? 

WHITAKER:  No, he did not. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Mr. Whitaker, did the president lash out to you on or about December 8th, 2018, to discuss a case before the southern district of New York where he was identified as individual 1? 

WHITAKER:  No, Congressman. 


O`DONNELL:  It looked like he was trying to calculate that date on that last answer because a more general version of that question, according to "The New York Times," he did indeed contact him about that case. 

JEFFRIES:  Yes.  And Whitaker was an extraordinary witness because he was both arrogant and incompetent at the same time.  So it was quite something to witness and experience. 

But we are going through that transcript with a fine-toothed comb and we`ll process additional information that is coming to us to determine whether he stood in front of the Congress and the country and lied.  There`s every reason in the world to believe, knowing this president, that he was likely to have pushed the envelope with Whitaker, and that`s probably the reason that he placed him there in that position in the first place. 

O`DONNELL:  And, Congressman Himes, I think we know what you`re going to be doing on Wednesday of next week.  I assume you`re going to be watching as much of Michael Cohen`s public testimony as possible before you get him as a witness behind closed doors the next day.  What are you expecting from Michael Cohen next week publicly and then how will that differ from what you`ll be pursuing privately? 

HIMES:  Yes, that`s a good question.  And I`m not sure that his testimony will be dramatically different in private than in public.  Michael Cohen was not employed by, you know, the CIA, the NSA, the military.  He hasn`t spent a lot of time in classified environments. 

So I don`t imagine there will be material he can`t speak out in open session that he could in front of the intelligence committees. 

What is really remarkable now, I think we`re up to three different committees in which he will be testifying, and I`ve got at least two questions.  Number one is, you know, does he have evidence of criminal wrongdoing that for whatever reason wasn`t pursued by the special counsel?  And number two, this I think is going to be primarily a political event.  All we know about what Michael Cohen told the special counsel is what the special counsel has told various courts in sentencing memos and that sort of thing. 

Michael Cohen is going to tell stories.  And we know this president`s behavior in public is behavior that we would not tolerate in our teenage children.  Can you imagine the stories that Michael Cohen has to tell about the president`s behavior in private?  I have to assume the White House is very nervous not so much about the legal implications here but by the political implications of somebody who knows the president intimately in telling those stories. 

O`DONNELL:  Congressman Jeffries, quickly before we go, the House resolution to block the president`s emergency declaration, is that going to be voted on tomorrow or just introduced tomorrow? 

JEFFRIES:  It will be introduced tomorrow.  It will be voted on next week.  It will be supported by every single member of the House Democratic Caucus and we expect some Republicans will support it as well. 

O`DONNELL:  That leads into our next segment which is about a very important lawsuit that`s being brought against the border wall and the declaration of emergency. 

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries and Congressman Jim Himes, thank you very much for starting us off tonight.  Really appreciate it. 

JEFFRIES:  Thank you, Lawrence. 

O`DONNELL:  And another lawsuit, as I said, was filed today against the president`s emergency declaration to build a border wall, and this lawsuit has the highest powered legal team of any lawsuit yet filed against the border wall.  Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe and a veteran of the George H.W. Bush Justice Department, Stuart Gerson, are co-counsel in this case, and they will both join us next. 

And Roger Stone is now one word away from going to jail.  If he says or writes one word about his case while waiting for trial, the judge is sending him to jail. 

And later, a judge ruled today that a federal prosecutor broke the law when he helped billionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein escape federal prosecution for trafficking in and raping young girls.  That prosecutor is now Donald Trump`s labor secretary. 


O`DONNELL:  Tomorrow, House Democrats will introduce a resolution to block Donald Trump`s national emergency at the southern border that he declared to pay for his wall.  In a letter, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote: The president`s decision to go outside the bounds of the law to try to get what he failed to achieve in the constitutional legislative process violates the Constitution and must be terminated.

Sixteen states have joined together in a lawsuit filed by the attorneys general of those states that claims President Trump`s emergency declaration to build a wall is unconstitutional.  And now, the county, the county of El Paso, Texas, has filed a similar lawsuit with the most high-powered legal team that has joined this fight. 

Harvard Law School`s constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe is co- counsel on the El Paso County case, along with Stuart Gerson, a former assistant attorney general in the Republican administration of President George H.W. Bush. 

And we are now lucky to have them both here tonight to discuss this new lawsuit. 

And, Professor Tribe, what is different about your lawsuit compared to the attorneys general lawsuit? 

LAURENCE TRIBE, HARVARD LAW PROFESSOR:  Well, our lawsuit really is focused on El Paso, which is ground zero of the president`s attack on the rule of law and the Constitution.  We`re making arguments that are to some extent similar. 

We`re arguing that the power of the purse belongs to Congress, that the president`s invocation of the National Emergency Act is completely bogus, there was no emergency, as he said himself he didn`t need to do this, and more than that and perhaps in greater detail than any of the other suits, we are pointing to all of the laws that the president claims are triggered by the emergency and showing that none of them authorize what he plans to do to a town like El Paso, where 800,000 people are living peaceful lives and do not need to have their lives disrupted by a president who claims that it`s going to be a center of criminality unless he gets to build a massive wall to protect it.

  O`DONNELL:  Stuart Gerson, does your lawsuit claim particular damage to El Paso County? 

STUART GERSON, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, GEORGE H.W. BUSH ADMINISTRATION:  Well, the question that El Paso County first faces is one of standing in ripeness.  And as Professor Tribe pointed out, this affects the county directly and immediately because the county has got to plan for things like eminent domain, shifts in policy, the building of this bogus wall.  And so, there`s a direct focus on the county and the needs of the county.  It`s an excellent plaintiff. 

O`DONNELL:  Now, we all remember in the Rose Garden, the president predicted that there would be a lawsuit or lawsuits, but he was very specific about where they would be, that they would be in California or in a jurisdiction that would allow them to be appealed to the 9th Circuit, which the president thinks is the most liberal appeals circuit in the country. 

And, Professor Tribe, you`re not going to be in the 9th Circuit.  Are you in a more challenging and difficult appeal environment if you`re appealing in what I think is the 5th Circuit? 

TRIBE:  It`s the 5th Circuit, and we are suing in the western district of Texas.  But we don`t think that this is a situation where liberal has to face off against conservative. 

The values of the U.S. constitution, the values that say that the president cannot simply ask Congress for money and when Congress refuses to give it to him grab it himself, those values should be values that count for every bit as much in the 5th Circuit as the 9th and indeed in the U.S. Supreme Court.  So we are not forum shopping.  We are bringing the lawsuit where the damage is experienced, and we expect to have a serious chance to win because we think we are completely right. 

And the very fact that Stuart Gerson and I are on the same side here, even though we are ideologically in very different places on most issues, I think nicely illustrates that the Constitution at this level is not a partisan document. 

O`DONNELL:  Let`s listen to something the president said in the Rose Garden that will appear in all of these lawsuits. 


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I want to do it faster.  I could do the wall over a longer period of time.  I didn`t need to do this.  But I`d rather do it much faster. 


O`DONNELL:  Stuart Gerson, President Eisenhower wanted to build the interstate highway system faster than we did, but they built it when they could as fast as they could.  You could say that about an awful lot of federal building projects, we`d like to build it faster. 

GERSON:  Well, the president has no Engine Charlie Wilson to help him.  But that aside, the president in a sense is whipsawing himself.  In one sense, he`s saying, well, this thing is going faster, I want to do it immediately.  That buttresses the standing and ripeness of the matter for El Paso County and its co-plaintiffs.  On the other hand, he`s also suggesting the bogus nature of this emergency. 

I want to just harken to something that Larry Tribe just said.  We`re not unhappy in the 5th Circuit.  Sure, there are plenty of conservative judges that are sitting, but the position that we`re arguing constitutionally is a fundamentally conservative one. 

As I suggested to Professor Tribe this afternoon, I`d expect James Madison and Alexander Hamilton to be on our side if they were around today.  This strikes at the heart of what the Framers were attempting to do, which was to prevent the concentration of power and a turn towards the tyranny that was rejected by the American Revolution. 

This is a fundamentally conservative position.  It strikes at the heart of separation of powers.  There has to be some limit on the power of the executive. 

An emergency is something that the branches don`t have time to consult about.  This hardly is the case.  And the president`s comment that you just quoted makes that very clear. 

O`DONNELL:  Professor Tribe, in your law experience, in so many important cases and cases you`ve taken to the United States Supreme Court, have you ever been on the opposite side of a litigant who was so helpful to your case?  In public comments that you could then simply type, right into your brief to support your position? 

TRIBE:  Honestly, I have never had an opponent who was quite as helpful, and I find it odd to say.  Thank you, Mr. Trump. 

But I really think that we do need to thank him for being as obvious as he is about the absence of any emergency and about the fact that he is simply trying to do what emperors and kings do, not what a president of the United States should do.  And I very much agree with Stuart Gerson that the Framers would roll over in their graves if they saw this as the result of their handiwork.  This is not what any of them would have imagined. 

O`DONNELL:  The unlikely legal team of Laurence Tribe and Stuart Gerson brought together by Donald Trump.  Thank you both very much for joining us tonight.  Really appreciate it. 

GERSON:  Thank you for having us. 

O`DONNELL:  Thank you. 

TRIBE:  Thank you.

O`DONNELL:  And when we come back, Roger Stone actually told a judge today under oath that he does not know the names of all the people who have access to his phone. 


O`DONNELL:  Roger Stone is now one word away from going to jail.  In federal court in Washington, D.C. today, Judge Amy Berman Jackson told Roger Stone that if he says anything, anything about the federal case now being prosecuted by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller with Roger Stone as the defendant, then Judge Jackson will revoke his bail and put him in jail awaiting trial.

Roger Stone was dragged into court today after he posted a photo on Instagram showing a rifle crosshairs next to a picture of Judge Jackson.  Last month, we saw Roger Stone making a Richard Nixon-style victory sign and holding a press conference after a court appearance.

Today, Roger Stone left the courthouse without saying a word.  There he is leaving today.  We will no longer -- he will no longer be able to attack Robert Mueller.  He will no longer be able to attack Judge Jackson.  He will no longer be able to say anything about his case unless he wants to go to jail.

Roger Stone`s gag order came after an extraordinary afternoon in which he tried to explain himself under oath and was chastised by the judge and for the first time was questioned by one of Robert Mueller`s prosecutors under oath.  Both Judge Jackson and Prosecutor Jonathan Kravitz grilled Roger Stone on how he found the image of the judge and why he posted it.

Roger Stone couldn`t keep his story straight.  He said he couldn`t remember who gave him the picture or the names of everyone who has access to his phone.  At one point, Judge Jackson asked Roger Stone, "how hard was it to come up with a photograph that didn`t have a crosshairs in the corner?"  Roger Stone responded that he didn`t recognize it as a crosshairs and that he believed it was a Celtic cross or a cult symbol.

But two weeks ago, Roger Stone posted this image on Instagram of himself in a rifle crosshairs in which he said, "I am in Mueller`s crosshairs."  Judge Jackson told Roger Stone and his lawyers, "these were, let there be no mistake, deliberate choices.  I do not find any of the evolving and contradictory explanations credible.  Mr. Stone could not even keep his story straight on the stand."

And so Roger Stone can no longer speak publicly about the case or the participants in the case.  Judge Jackson concluded, "I have serious doubts about whether you`ve learned any lesson at all."

After our break, Mimi Rocah and Ron Klain will join us with their reaction to what happened in court today including whether prosecutors and the judge are choosing to let Roger Stone get away with a little bit of perjury about the crosshairs that he pretended are not crosshairs and some other stuff.


O`DONNELL:  In the Roger Stone hearing today, the prosecutor asks this question.  "You cannot remember the names of all the people who had access to your cell phone four days ago?"  Answer, "Correct."  That was Roger Stone`s testimony in court today under oath, very little of which the judge said was believable.

Joining us now is Ron Klain, a former senior adviser to Joe Biden and President Obama and the former chief of staff to Attorney General Janet Reno.  And Mimi Rocah, former federal prosecutor and former assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York.  She`s also an MSNBC legal contributor.

And Mimi, stunning things in this hearing that were clearly not believable when he said them.  He changed his testimony at certain points as it wore on.  He technically lied under oath, obviously, more than once.  Is this the kind of hearing where the prosecutor and the judge just kind of go this is really about something relatively small like the conditions of bail, we`re not going to chase every little piece of perjury that occurs today?

MIMI ROCAH, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY:  Well, I think that the judge and the prosecutor achieved what needed to be achieved at this hearing, which was big, not small, which is they did show, the prosecutor showed and the judge frankly in her questioning did a fantastic job of showing that Stone is a liar and he cannot be trusted.  And that`s not going to just end there.

I don`t believe there will be a perjury prosecution, but it will become relevant throughout his case.  He`s lost credibility with this judge on day one.  I know we sort of take that for granted that because we see Stone lying all the time publicly.  But to do that in court under oath, it`s going to be very hard to bring that back when he needs it during a trial and credibility with the judge.

And also, you know, I think that he, if anything, sort of was almost -- if I were a prosecutor involved in the case, I would think really hard now about bringing charges about the threat, the underlying threat because I think he really sort of gave more fodder to the idea that this was actually intended to be a threat to the judge.  And I think that would be the more serious charge to bring as opposed to the perjury charge.

O`DONNELL:  And Ron, on the most -- there`s all different kinds of perjury and, of course, the stupidest kind of perjury is when you say something that we all just know on its face isn`t true, like I don`t know who has access to my phone.  I mean there`s no one out there who believes that.

RON KLAIN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR:  No.  I mean his testimony today was lie after lie after lie and even inconsistent lies from question to question.  You know, I think, though, the interesting thing here is the restriction on Stone.  He now is under a super duper complete gag order and we`ll see how that goes.

I think the mob scene you saw at the Las Vegas Airport today was people rushing to Vegas to bet on the under -- on the over-under of how long Stone will be able to comply with this court order.  And I think that`s one thing that was set up today by the judge, which is instead of putting -- revoking bail today, she made it very clear that this is in Stone`s hands.  And the odds that Stone honors the conditions seem very low to me.

O`DONNELL:  And the gag order actually covers not just Roger Stone.  It covers -- it says "The defendant may not comment publicly about the case indirectly by having statements made publicly on his behalf by surrogates, family members, spokespersons, representatives, or volunteers."

Now, Mimi, that surrogates thing is going to be very difficult to police.  I mean we could hear Rush Limbaugh or any of these people saying things tomorrow that Roger Stone has on the phone asked them to say.

ROCAH:  Right.  And look, I think that would be covered under this very well-crafted -- broad but well-crafted order if it can be shown that he actually asked them to say it, right?  I mean obviously, Rush Limbaugh giving his opinion wouldn`t count, but if it was --

O`DONNELL:  Right, right.

ROCAH:  -- became clear that Stone told him to.  I mean as Ron says, the judge has set this up perfectly.  She could have landed him today but that would have fed into this narrative of making him a martyr.  It would have been debatable.

Now it is set up.  It is clear.  He knows the terms.  I mean the chances that he`s not going to violate this I think are very small.  And once he does, she has basically already said I`m putting you in jail.

And there really can`t be any question about whether that is fair at this point, which I think is something that she is striving, you know, clearly in all of these court cases to show, that she is tough but fair.  And she`s giving everyone their fair shot.  And Stone is already blowing it like Manafort did.

O`DONNELL:  And Ron, last night`s big news, we discovered the arrest of a lieutenant in the coast guard who had a hit list, literally a hit list of people he wanted to murder.  And this is the way people get on that kind of hit list.

This was -- everyone on the hit list was perceived as being an anti-Trump person by this intended mass murderer.  And this kind of media that Roger Stone was putting out there about the judge with the crosshairs was a direct message to that kind of person that this is someone who belongs on a hit list.

KLAIN:  Yes, no question, Lawrence.  I mean, while President Trump is busy pursuing his medieval wall at the border, here in our own country we see a real threat to our safety and our law and order, and that`s these people who are stoked up by these threats that the president and his allies, people like Roger Stone, issue against elected officials.  Many of those were on this list, judges, other people, other people of authority.

And I think, you know, that`s -- seeing that kind of thing go on in our country, seeing the president inflame that, seeing his allies like Roger Stone inflame that, it`s just a horrible thing to see.

O`DONNELL:  Ron Klain and Mimi Rocah, thank you both for joining us on this discussion.

And when we come back, one of President Trump`s cabinet members, his labor secretary, was a federal prosecutor before that and he helped a billionaire friend of Donald Trump, Jeffrey Epstein, escape federal charges for sexually abusing and raping and trafficking in underage girls.

And now, there is a major development in that story today.  A federal judge has ruled that the prosecutors, in that case, broke the law.  A federal judge has ruled that Donald Trump`s labor secretary when he was a prosecutor, broke the law to help that sex trafficking rapist of young girls.


O`DONNELL:  Today, a federal judge in Florida found that President Trump`s Labor Secretary, Alexander Acosta, when he was the U.S. attorney in Miami, gave a friend of President Trump`s, Jeffrey Epstein, a deal promising not to prosecute him for child sex trafficking.

And the judge found today that Alexander Acosta broke the law in making that deal because he kept it secret from the children who Jeffrey Epstein raped.  Federal law requires that victims of crimes be notified and consulted on any prosecution deals involving the crimes committed against those victims.  The little girls who Jeffrey Epstein raped were never notified of the deal that allowed Jeffrey Epstein to escape federal prosecution.

That is the reason that Senator Dianne Feinstein voted against the confirmation of Alexander Acosta as Donald Trump`s labor secretary.  She said, "I oppose the nomination of Alexander Acosta for labor secretary.  His handling of a case involving sex trafficking of underage girls when he was a U.S. attorney suggests he won`t put the interests of workers and everyday people ahead of the powerful and well-connected.  In 2007, billionaire Jeffrey Epstein was accused of sexually abusing 30 underage girls.  Acosta cut Epstein a favorable deal without consulting or even informing the victims.  As a long-time advocate for the rights of crime victims, I find this deeply disturbing."

And today, a federal judge found that Alexander Acosta did indeed break the law in making that deal with child sex trafficker and child rapist and friend of Donald Trump, Jeffrey Epstein.  After this break, we will consider what happens next for Alex Acosta and Jeffrey Epstein and you`ll hear what Donald Trump had to say about his friend, the child sex trafficker and child rapist.


O`DONNELL:  At Alexander Acosta`s confirmation hearing for labor secretary, Senator Tim Kaine entered into the record a "Washington Post" article that described the deal Alexander Acosta made not to prosecute a billionaire friend of Donald Trump`s in a child sex trafficking case.  Senator Kaine read the article aloud.


SEN. TIM KAINE (D), VIRGINIA:  Rich and famous men love to hang around with Jeffrey Epstein, a billionaire money manager who love to party.  They visit his mansion in Palm Beach, Florida.  And they flew on his jet to join him on his private estate on the Caribbean Island of little Saint James.  They even joked about his taste in younger women.  President Trump called Epstein a terrific guy back in 2002 saying that "he`s a lot of fun to be with it.  It`s even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side."


O`DONNELL:  Today, a federal judge ruled that Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta broke the law when he was the U.S. attorney in Miami and signed a deal with Jeffrey Epstein that allowed Epstein to escape federal charges and plead guilty to a minor state charge that carried a sentence of 13 months in the county jail.

And during that sentence, Epstein was allowed to spend six days a week at his office in Palm Beach, Florida.  It is unclear what happens next for Alexander Acosta who was ruled today to have broken the law when he was a prosecutor and Jeffrey Epstein who was the beneficiary of that illegal deal.

Joining us now, Marci Hamilton, one of the country`s leading experts on the laws covering sex crimes against children.  And Mimi Rocah, former federal prosecutor is still with us.

And Professor Hamilton, I want to get your reaction to the judge`s ruling today.  This is an extraordinary case that we cannot think of anything like it happening before.

MARCI HAMILTON, NATIONAL EXPERT CHILD SEX ABUSE:  Well, it`s refreshing to see that 40 girls could actually be vindicated after a group of men essentially cut a secret deal.  What`s really amazing about the facts in this case from where I`m sitting is how often the prosecutors -- Acosta`s people, asked Epstein permission whether or not they could talk to the victims.  It really is -- it`s a great decision.

O`DONNELL:  And Mimi, when I got this decision today, in the front it says "opinion and order".  And so whenever there`s an order, I always flip to the back page where the judge`s order is going to be and you get to that back page and it is mystifying.

Because when it gets down to the final order, the judge simply says, "The parties should confer and inform the court within 15 days how they wish to proceed on determining the issue of what remedy, if any, should be applied in view of the violation."  It seems like as of today, the judge doesn`t know what to do and he`s asking the parties what to do.

ROCAH:  Yes.  I mean as you said, I don`t think there`s a really clear road map for this.  This is so unusual.  This is the -- what the judge found is that they violated the Victim Rights Act, right.  That`s how they broke the law.

And I think the fundamental question here is, why, right?  So Jeffrey Epstein got a slap on the wrist.  That seems pretty clear.  Why were they working so hard to keep that information from the victims?  Because they didn`t want the victims to object.  They wanted to sneak this in under the radar.

And so the question is now that you have a judge having found that and said that that`s what`s happened, shouldn`t that agreement that was snuck in under the radar, shouldn`t that be voided?  And I think that is an option here.

I mean again, we`re in unchartered territory.  But I think the judge has essentially said in the opinion, one of the remedies that is possible is the voiding of this agreement.  And if the agreement is voided, then the prosecution can continue and begin anew and the people that got immunity under the agreement no longer have immunity.

O`DONNELL:  And Professor Hamilton, am I right that there`s no statute of limitations for the crimes described here?

HAMILTON:  That`s right.  For the federal government since 2002, there`s no limit on the statute of limitations.  And so this prosecution could go forward.  They knew about 40 girls.  They have plenty of possible victims to testify.

I would be surprised if this doesn`t get reopened.  Although we have the problem that Acosta is in this administration.

O`DONNELL:  And what about that, Mimi?  I mean this is obviously something the House of Representatives can bring Acosta in for a hearing about this.  The Judiciary Committee and the House can do that.  How did you reach this deal?  Why did you reach this deal?

ROCAH:  Right.  Well, I mean I actually think there are sort of two separate issues now.  I think one issue is what if anything did Acosta and possibly other prosecutors do wrong.

I think the judge has made a lot of findings.  It can be relevant to that.  We know that the office of professional responsibility within the Department of Justice is now looking at that and that`s going to have to be dealt with on one track.

The second track though is what happens to the criminal case, the original criminal case?  And I actually don`t think that requires Acosta or frankly should have any of the original prosecutors.  They should have a new untainted team that works on this prosecution.  That`s what I would do.

And I think that`s what any office with integrity would do is start with a clean slate of prosecutors, they`d have to get familiar with the case.  But if someone is going to look at this, it should be people who were not involved in that original prosecution.

O`DONNELL:  Professor Hamilton, quickly before we go.  Do you expect a trial, a new trial, a new prosecution in this case?

HAMILTON:  I don`t see why not.  I think at this point, we live in an era, of the MeToo era.  These women deserve justice. There are so many of them.  It`s only fair to reopen this and to start over again.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Marci Hamilton and Mimi Rocah thank you both for joining us tonight.  That is "Tonight`s Last Word."  "The 11th Hour" with Brian Williams starts now.