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Trump goes to Asia. TRANSCRIPT: 2/25/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell.

Guests: Jill Wine-Banks; Harry Littman; David Rothkopf

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

OK.  Wait, now -- now I`m ready.  I`m wearing my glasses tonight, Rachel. 


O`DONNELL:  Well, actually, now that you mention it, the president decided -- he decided to make fun of people who wear glasses today.  And that made me go look up how many people wear glasses like, say, in the United States, like how many voters.  It`s only 60 percent, Rachel.  It`s only 60. 

And so, I`m going to stand with the 60 percent who the president made fun of today, because we need a little help. 

MADDOW:  Well, you know the president always says, like, I`m your president or I`m our president or something.  Maybe he just means people who wear contact lenses. 

O`DONNELL:  Rachel, put on your glasses as soon as you get out of there. 

MADDOW:  I`ll do it.

O`DONNELL:  Thank you, Rachel. 

Well, Trump has a 54 percent disapproval rating in the latest NBC News poll.  And at the end of the hour, we`re going to show you the president`s disapproval rating state-by-state which shows that at this point, the president has virtually no path to coming close to winning the Electoral College in his reelection campaign as of now. 

Disapproval of the president comes in two forms, and sometimes at the same time.  One is disapproval of the president`s policies.  The other is disapproval of the person.  And disapproval of the person cannot be changed by changing policy. 

Here is the person that a clear majority of American voters disapprove of. 


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I don`t know what I said, ah, I don`t remember. 


O`DONNELL:  That was about three years ago.  Here`s that same person today. 


TRUMP:  He called over his people.  He`s gotten people standing behind him, every one of them is central casting, central casting, glasses --


O`DONNELL:  That`s your president.  That`s the president of the United States, the guy who thinks wearing glasses is funny. 

This is the kind of Trump news that is never emphasized enough, and in any other presidency would be explosive news.  It doesn`t just demonstrate presidential stupidity.  It demonstrates serious, neurological misfires for the president. 

The president has no functioning inhibitor in his brain that can control an impulse, that was supposed to disappear early in elementary school.  It also shows the president`s neurological incapacity to express himself with words and sentences.  Listen to what the president said next. 


TRUMP:  He reported within two minutes, explained, basketball players.  Bom.  Bom.  And I said --


O`DONNELL:  Those two sounds the president made after basketball players has meaning only to the president.  He was trying to communicate with all of us and with the world, and he just ran out of words.  He substituted noises for words and thought that he completed the sentence, thought he completed the thought clearly for us with the noises bom-bom.  Whatever that means. 

We have never seen public displays of brain dysfunction in a president of the United States, and it is the one elected office in the country where you really have to worry about this kind of thing.  It wouldn`t be such a big deal in a governor or a mayor or even a senator, but the president of the United States has the nuclear codes, and this president of the United States is going to sit down with a North Korean dictator who also has nuclear codes, and has probably just seen that the president of the United States makes fun of people like him who wear glasses. 

Here`s something Donald Trump doesn`t know, as I just told Rachel.  Sixty percent of us wear glasses or some kind of eye assist, contact lenses.  Sixty percent of Americans, 60 percent of voters were made fun of today by the president of the United States.  That`s how Donald Trump began a week that could be one of the worst weeks of his presidency, making fun of 60 percent of American voters. 

Maybe that can actually push up the number of voters who say they will never, under any circumstances, vote for Donald Trump`s reelection.  Currently, 57 percent of voters say they will never vote to reelect Donald Trump.  Only Donald Trump could find a way to push that number up. 

Tonight, President Trump is flying across the Pacific to another meeting with North Korea`s dictator, Kim Jong-un.  The president is doing everything he can to make this week`s headlines focus on his meeting with the North Korean dictator, but Washington will not allow that to happen.  Even the slightest public development in Robert Mueller`s investigation would be enough to make him turn away from his trip, and Michael Cohen`s public testimony on Wednesday about crimes he says he committed with Donald Trump at the direction of presidential candidate Donald Trump in order to win the presidency will prove impossible to contain for President Trump and his allies trying to keep that focus on North Korea. 

And tomorrow, the House of Representatives will hold an historic vote, a vote of disapproval of the president of the United States and his declaration of national emergency to take money away from other government purposes to build a wall on the southern border that Congress has decided not to build.  The resolution already has enough co-sponsors in House to pass.  What we will be watching for tomorrow is how many Republicans vote for it.  The resolution was introduced in the House of Representatives by the Democrats on Friday. 

Every member has had the entire weekend to read it and study it.  Every member of the House will have had the resolution for five days when they finally vote on it tomorrow.  But Republican Congressman Tom Cole got the orders today to say that that`s not enough time. 


REP. TOM COLE (R), OKLAHOMA:  We`re on short notice reviewing a bill to disapprove the president`s emergency declaration for the southern border.  I do not understand the haste with which the majority is pushing this disapproval resolution through.  We`ve had no time to review the bill and no committee has held a hearing or marked it up. 


O`DONNELL:  We`ve had no time to review the bill.  OK.  Here it is.  Let`s review it. 

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America and Congress assemble that pursuant to Section 202 of the National Emergencies Act, 50 U.S.C. 1622, the national emergency declared by the finding of the president on February 15, 2019, in Proclamation 9844, 84 Federal Register 49, is hereby terminated. 

How long did that take?  Control room says 22 seconds.  That took 22 seconds.  Now, some of those words might have sounded unfamiliar to your ear, but certainly not to a member of Congress, and the only legally relevant words in the resolution are, the national emergency declared by the finding of the president on February 15, 2019 is hereby terminated.

If there is a member of Congress who needs more than one minute to read and reread and reread this resolution and understand exactly what this resolution does, then that person is unfit to serve in the House of Representatives.  And Congressman Tom Cole knows that.  He was just the poor member of the leadership today who was forced to make the public statement today that Republicans don`t have enough time to read this. 

After the resolution of disapproval passes the House of Representatives, which it will, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell will be required to bring it to a vote in the Senate within 18 days.  Senate Democrats will need at least four Republicans to vote with them to pass the resolution.  So far, there are three Republicans who say they will vote with the Democrats. 

Senator Thom Tillis whose op-ed in the "Washington Post" says, I support Trump`s vision on border service but I vote against the emergency.  Senator Susan Collins said, if it`s a clean disapproval resolution, I will support it. 

And Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski said this. 


SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R), ALASKA:  I think it`s so important that there be clear lines when it comes to the separation of powers, the institution of the Congress as that appropriating branch.  I want to make sure that what, in fact, we are voting on when it comes to the Senate is what I believe it is.  If it`s what I have seen right now, I will support the resolution to disapprove. 


O`DONNELL:  Fifty-eight former senior government officials have signed onto a joint bipartisan statement saying, quote: In our professional opinion, there is no factual basis for the declaration of a national emergency for the purpose of circumventing the appropriations process and reprogramming billions of dollars in funding to construct a wall at the southern border.  The co-signers of that statement include former Secretaries of State John Kerry and Madeleine Albright, former director of Central Intelligence, John Brennan, former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, former defense secretary and former director of the CIA, Leon Panetta, and former ambassador to the United States, Samantha Power, and former Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman. 

Twenty-six former Republican members of Congress signed a letter calling on the current Republican members of Congress to, quote, honor your oath and protect the Constitution.  The letter says, it has always been a Republican fundamental principle that no matter how strong our policy preferences, no matter how deep our loyalties to presidents or party leaders in order to remain a constitutional republic, we must act within the borders of the Constitution. 

The Republican co-signers of this letter include former Republican Senators John Danforth, Gordon Humphrey and Olympia Snowe. 

Leading off our discussion now, former Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp who is a fellow now at the Institute of Politics at Harvard, and she was the first woman elected to the United States Senate from North Dakota. 

Also joining us, Adam Jentleson, former deputy chief of staff to Senator Harry Reid.  He`s now the director of public affairs for Democracy Forward.

And Jason Johnson is with us.  He`s a politics editor at, and the professor of political science at Morgan State University.  He`s also an MSNBC political analyst. 

And, Senator Heitkamp, I don`t know how long it takes you to study resolutions that I can read in 22 seconds, but poor Tom Cole in the House of Representatives being handed the job today of saying the Republicans do not have enough time, do not have enough time to read this resolution that takes me 22 seconds to read. 

HEIDI HEITKAMP (D), FORMER NORTH DAKOTA SENATOR:  Well, I think you said it right.  Tom knows better, and he`s really just a great guy, and I worked with him on a lot of Native American issues.  But you know what I was thinking about as you were reading it was all the handwritten notes that were on that tax bill at 2:30 in the morning when we were handed it and told we`re going to vote in the next half an hour. 

So, if you want an example of where you don`t have enough time, that tax bill, which is now proving to be a disaster, I think, for the president, that`s a great example of where it didn`t work so well.  But that resolution, there is no reason not to take the vote.  What`s really interesting to me is the level of hypocrisy that we`re going to say from people like Mike Lee or from Tom Cruz -- or from Ted Cruz who stood up many times and accused Obama of usurping legislative authority.  Where are they going to land on this when they know clearly that this is in excess of executive power? 

O`DONNELL:  Adam Jentleson, where are they going to land? 

ADAM JENTLESON, FORMER SENIOR AIDE TO SEN. HARRY REID:  That`s a really great question.  You`ll be looking for two things when the Senate eventually votes.  First, does it have enough votes to pass the Senate, which is a majority vote?  The rules attached to the special resolution allow it to bypass the Senate 60-vote threshold.  So, you know, does it pass to 51 votes?  I think the answer is probably yes. 

But then the question is, they would send to the president`s desk.  If he vetoes it, it goes to the Senate and the House, and then the question is does it get the two-thirds vote necessary to override the president`s veto?  That would be 67 votes in the Senate. 

So, I think what`s really going to be interesting looking at how it would fall in the senate is, where are you between 51 and 67?  Do you start to approach the 67-vote threshold?  Because that could be really interesting territory. 

O`DONNELL:  Jason Johnson, this is also being challenged in court, so there could conceivably be an injunction against it somewhere in one of the district courts it`s being challenged in even before you get to the 18 days in the Senate whenever Mitch McConnell brings this up. 

JASON JOHNSON, POLITICAL EDITOR, THEROOT.COM:  Lawrence, legally, this is going to be really complicated.  Remember, President Trump himself has somehow strangely predicted that this is going to end up in the Supreme Court and that the Supreme Court will give him this authority.  So, I think we`re not even in the first quarter.  Like, we literally just came out of the locker room right now as to how this process with this sort of emergency call is going to go. 

I do think it`s going to make it through the House.  I do think it`s going to make it through the Senate.  I do think the president of the United States will veto it.  I don`t think that Congress is going to have enough votes to overturn that veto, and then we`re going to be in a long and complicated process. 

I hope everyone recognizes that, look, calling your senators, calling your House of Representative members, that`s important right now.  But also, this is why voting matters.  All these lower level courts and all the appointments made by this administration is one of the reasons he could potentially get away with this kind of policy down the road. 

O`DONNELL:  Let`s listen to what Republican Senator Roy Blunt said about this yesterday. 


SEN. ROY BLUNT (R), MISSOURI:  I think we`re going to have to evaluate whether this is really the intention of an emergency.  Is it really an emergency if, again, the president asked the Congress to do it and they failed to?  That`s different than the way this law has been used in the past. 

INTERVIEWER:  So you could vote to try to block the president from moving forward with this emergency, you just haven`t decided yet?  Is that fair? 

BLUNT:  I think that`s fair. 


O`DONNELL:  So, Senator Heitkamp, my guess is that a senator like Roy Blunt represents probably a dozen Republican senators who are sitting exactly where he is right now, looking at it exactly the same way he is, which means on the fence could go either way on this.

  HEITKAMP:  I think there is a tremendous number of these folks who are going to have to do some soul-searching on the statements that they made when the president -- when President Obama declared DACA, and they screamed bloody murder on the floor of the Senate about how inappropriate it was for a president to do that.  I think -- I think that there is a whole lot of soul searching that`s going on right now, and I think it`s deeper than what you think.  I think it goes to really the core of who they are as United States senators. 

And, you know, it may not be enough to overturn a veto, but I think there is great discomfort, and this is the bargain that Mitch made with the president to open up government.  And I don`t even think Mitch McConnell on a good day wants to see this emergency power exercise the way the president exercised it. 

O`DONNELL:  The president seems nervous about Republican senators on this.  He tweeted: I hope our great Republican senators don`t get led down the path of weak and ineffective border security.  Without strong borders, we don`t have a country and the voters are on board with us.  Be strong and smart.  Don`t fall into the Democrats` trap of open borders and crime. 

And, Adam, that`s the best he can do in trying to hold Republican senators for his emergency declaration. 

JENTLESON:  Yes, and I think he should be worried.  I mean, look, right now, the senators who said they`re going to vote to support it are folks like Collins, Tillis and Murkowski, folks who are facing tough elections in 2020, and probably need to demonstrate a little bit of independence from the president to win in their tough states.  But when you have someone like Senator Blunt talking about possibly voting for it, then that raises the possibility of what we used to call a jailbreak, when you just completely lose control of the caucus and that`s when you start talking about 67 votes actually being a possibility. 

So, I think there is a possibility of that happening here.  I think the president is right to be nervous. 

O`DONNELL:  Yes.  That`s exactly why I was focusing on Senator Blunt, because, Jason, as Adam says, you look at key senators on each side sometimes as a small group, two or three, that are possible to go across the aisle, but then there are the situations where, you know, if this one goes, a dozen goes or more.  And that`s -- we could see that here. 

JOHNSON:  Right.  We saw that with sort of reopening the government.  Look, like most of us, we learned not to necessarily trust Susan Collins, she`s very Lucy on a football, and we saw that with Brett Kavanaugh will say one thing and vote the other way.  But the reality is no one wants to be the 51st vote, but many people are perfectly happy to be 56 or 57, right?  You can get a whole slew of people, then you`ve got cover.  Nobody has to worry about it.  So, that is a possibility. 

And the truth of the matter is, if I`m a Republican right now and I have a concern about this president being able to declare emergency, I don`t want this to get to a second vote.  I want to have such a large number of voters come out.  So, many Republicans vote in this first round that the president won`t think about vetoing it, then we can negotiate it another way.  I don`t think anyone wants to have to go through this process in another 18 to 20 days and then have to corral five or six more people.  Just get it done now and then they can cover themselves. 

O`DONNELL:  Senator Heitkamp, quickly before you go, if Mitch McConnell stretches this out the 18 days as we would expect him to, would he be hoping during that time, secretly hoping, that there is a court injunction against the emergency declaration somewhere so that then he might be able to just let senators go on this and vote any way they want? 

HEITKAMP:  I think the clear answer to that is yes.  I also don`t think this is just a political calculation on Republican senators.  I think this is a clear vote about what does it mean to be a legislator, what does it mean to protect the institution of the United States Senate?  What is Pat Roberts doing?  He`s going to retire. 

I mean, this is going to be a very, very difficult vote for the president if this vote is taken. 

O`DONNELL:  I want Senator Heitkamp with me whenever we`re counting votes in the Senate from now on. 

Thank you, Senator Heitkamp, for your invaluable perspective on this. 

Jason Johnson, Adam Jentleson, thank you for starting us off tonight. 

And when we come back, we have breaking news tonight from "The Wall Street Journal" about the House Judiciary Committee believing it has evidence that Matthew Whitaker did indeed talk to President Trump about the investigation of President Trump and Michael Cohen. 

And the president is headed to Vietnam to meet the North Korean dictator again, and his administration is reportedly taking advice on this meeting from Russia. 

And in tonight`s LAST WORD, Donald Trump is Donald Trump`s worst enemy for reelection.


O`DONNELL:  Breaking news, "The Wall Street Journal" is reporting tonight the House Judiciary Committee believes it has evidence that President Trump asked Matthew Whitaker at the time, the acting attorney general, whether Manhattan U.S. Geoffrey Berman could regain control of his office`s investigation into Mr. Trump`s former lawyer and his real estate business, according to people familiar with the matter. 

Last week, "The New York Times" broke the story that President Trump called Matthew Whitaker and asked him to put Geoffrey Berman in control of the investigation of Michael Cohen and Donald Trump in the Manhattan U.S. attorney`s office.  But tonight`s news is that the House Judiciary Committee believes that it has evidence that President Trump made that request. 

"The Wall Street Journal" notes in its reporting tonight, the House Judiciary Committee is investigating whether Mr. Whitaker may have perjured himself in his appearance before the panel earlier this month, according to one of the people familiar with the matter.  Mr. Whitaker told the panel 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.  Any evidence that Mr. Trump sought to intervene in the federal prosecutor`s probe could propel further lines of inquiry by lawmakers into whether he has tried to obstruct the investigation into his business dealings. 

Donald Trump`s business, which calls itself the Trump Organization, is objecting to a possible House of Representatives investigation of that business.  "The Washington Post" reports today that the Trump Organization has sent a letter to the House Judiciary Committee demanding that the committee cease any and all investigations into the organization.  "The Washington Post" reports that the Trump Organization objected to the committee`s hiring of Barry Berke on the grounds that his law firm, Kramer Levin, has represented Trump on a number of issues.

In a statement to "The Washington Post", Kramer Levin called the Trump Organization`s letter to Chairman Jerry Nadler baseless and said Berke`s consulting work for the Judiciary Committee complies fully with all applicable ethical rules, does not pose any conflicts of interest and respects any obligations the firm may have. 

At this hour on Friday night, we were still waiting for special prosecutor Robert Mueller to file a sentencing memo in the Paul Manafort case which was due at midnight on Friday.  That document became public over the weekend, and it reveals that Paul Manafort`s team of lawyers told the sentencing judge that Paul Manafort`s behavior reflects a hardened adherence to committing crimes, and lack of remorse.  They say that Paul Manafort is likely to reoffend, if not in prison.

Tonight, Paul Manafort`s lawyers file a reply, saying that Paul Manafort deserves a light sentence because he didn`t commit murder.  The Manafort lawyers actually entered this note of celebration in their filing about what Paul Manafort is not accused of.  They said, this case is not about murder, drug cartels, organized crime, the Madoff Ponzi scheme or the collapse of Enron. 

So, according to Paul Manafort`s lawyers, anyone who didn`t commit one of those crimes doesn`t deserve a heavy sentence which will come as a big surprise to the millions of prisoners with heavy sentences for not committing those crimes. 

Joining our discussion now, Jill Banks, former assistant Watergate special prosecutor, and an MSNBC legal analyst, and Harry Litman, a former U.S. attorney and deputy assistant attorney general under President Clinton. 

And, Jill, I want to start with you on this breaking news tonight about former Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker.  We had it told us by "The New York Times" that President Trump spoke to Matthew Whitaker about can you possibly get the U.S. attorney to unrecuse in Manhattan so that he can supervise my investigation after I appointed him, the investigation of the president.

But now, this report tonight saying that the House Judiciary Committee has evidence that this communication did occur, that could conceivably mean someone at the Whitaker end of the phone call or the president`s end of the phone call, who has somehow cooperated and delivered some kind of witness statement about this, what do you make of this development that the House Judiciary Committee has this evidence? 

JILL WINE-BANKS, FORMER ASSISTANT WATERGATE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR:  It`s very interesting they may have it.  It also means there is a possible perjury by Mr. Whitaker who has denied that he had any conversations like this. 

It`s completely consistent with how all of the people surrounding Donald Trump behave.  They deny, they deny, they deny.  Donald Trump has trained them if you don`t admit it, you`re not guilty.  And that`s something that should cause concern to all citizens in America. 

O`DONNELL:  Harry Litman, does it look to you that Matthew Whitaker threaded the needle careful enough in his testimony to avoid a perjury charge, because he was never specifically asked the question, did the president try to control something about that prosecution in New York?  The questions he was asked, he seemed to have stepped through the answers very, very carefully. 

HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY:  Yes, I think the short answer is yes.  And the punitive perjury here was actually a statement that was written and crafted and wordsmithed in advance.  He said, and this had been written for him, that he was not asked to make any promises or commitments.  I think that`s going to hold up even as against evidence that Trump went to him and said, can we reinstall this U.S. attorney, which by the way on its own it just reinforces that Trump`s complete ignorance of ethics rules and what recusal even means. 

But I think the one statement in question by Whitaker probably doesn`t rise to the level of perjury. 

O`DONNELL:  But, Jill, what this does mean is the possibility of another hearing in which the judiciary committee presents that evidence that`s being referred to tonight in the "Wall Street Journal`s" reporting and then would also bring Matthew Whitaker back in to face that evidence about what happened in the Trump phone call. 

WINE-BANKS:  It certainly could.  There are so many open issues that the House and many of the committees can be looking at as we await the final conclusion of all the evidence that surrounds the issues concerning the Russia investigation and the Southern District`s investigations of the Trump Organization, as well as the inaugural committee, as well as the things his children may have done in connection with the foundation.  So, there are a lot of things that may not rise to the level of crimes but that are witness to any oversight by the Congress in terms of whether they are appropriate behaviors. 

So they may not be criminal act acts, but they can be acts that something the president should be held accountable for. 

O`DONNELL:  Harry, give the audience some guidance about how to read this situation where the Trump business lawyers are saying the Judiciary Committee cannot hire anyone who ever worked for a law firm that in any way represented any aspect of Donald Trump`s business.  Apparently, the Judiciary Committee has hired at least one lawyer who was in the law firm that at some point had something to do with some aspect of Trump business.  This lawyer himself had nothing to do with him.

LITMAN:  Yes.  It`s a Hail Mary and probably done more for PR than any other reason.  Barry Berke, the lawyer in question, would have very carefully crossed his T`s and dotted his I`s before even coming there in the first place.

And it`s just well-known to anyone in a big firm, it may well be that a whole part of the firm is working for one client, it doesn`t bar everyone else from doing things that are potentially adverse.  So I think it`s more meant to kind of rattle sabers than actually any kind of earnest effort to try, in fact, to disqualify Berke.

O`DONNELL:  That`s all the time we have for our legal session tonight.  Jill Wine-Banks and Harry Littman, thank you both very much for helping us tonight.  Really appreciate it.

And when we come back, President Trump seems to believe that communism is a great economic system.  He attacks socialism all the time but he seems to think communism is just great, especially if that communist dictatorship is in a country that has beaches like the great beaches of North Korea.


O`DONNELL:  It sounds like President Trump is going to make his negotiations with North Korea all about the beaches.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  They have great beaches.  You see that whenever they`re exploding their cannons into the ocean, right?  I said, boy, look at that view.  Wouldn`t that make a great condo?  And I explained, I said, you know, instead of doing that, you could have the best hotels in the world right there.  Think of it from a real estate perspective.  You have South Korea, you have China and they own the land in the middle.  How bad is that, right?  It`s great.


O`DONNELL:  And with that statement, Donald Trump became the biggest public believer in totalitarian communism as an economic system of anyone who has ever lived outside of North Korea.  North Korea has the worst economic system in the world.  And so it doesn`t matter how nice the beaches are.

North Korea is not going to suddenly turn into Florida if it gets rid of nuclear because it would still have a murderous dictatorial regime that is profoundly distractive to the economic activity of all kinds and the economic growth that the economically illiterate Donald Trump dreams of for North Korea and its beaches.

On the presidential campaign trail, Donald Trump attacks socialism every chance he gets.  And the socialism he`s attacking is Medicare for all.  The socialism that Donald Trump hates is the socialism that he personally enjoys, government-provided health care.

At the very same time that Donald Trump attacks the kind of American socialism that he enjoys and that America enjoys, Donald Trump praises the economic potential of the cruelest, most destructive economic system on the face of the planet, North Korea`s dictatorial communism.  But like every head of state that Donald Trump meets, Kim Jong-Un is smarter than Donald Trump.  And he knows that trading his nuclear weapons for beach resorts is not the way for him to stay in power.

After a break, Foreign Policy Expert David Rothkopf will join us with his view of what to expect this week in North Korea and what to expect this week at the North Korean beaches.


O`DONNELL:  Here is President Trump today once again praising the economic potential of dictatorial communism in North Korea.


TRUMP:  I think we`ll have a very tremendous summit.  We want denuclearization and I think we`ll have a country that will set a lot of records for speed in terms of an economy.


O`DONNELL:  Joining our discussion now, Foreign Policy Expert David Rothkopf.

And David, every time he talks about this speedy economic development of North Korea, he is making the mistake of praising dictatorial communism which has repeatedly proven itself to be the worst economic system in the world and has been abandoned, really, by every place except North Korea.

DAVID ROTHKOPF, FOREIGN POLICY EXPERT:  Well, that`s not the only mistake he`s making.  He`s also making the mistake of thinking there`s somebody in North Korea who knows how to run an economy, that there`s infrastructure in North Korea, that you can instantaneously connect North Korea to South Korea which it is still at war with or to China.

And your vision that you painted there, of the North Korean Riviera, has a few drawbacks as well, not the least of which is it`s really going to be hard to get there, nobody is going to want to go, and it`s pretty cold right now.

O`DONNELL:  And what would you imagine the North Korean regime makes of talk like that?

ROTHKOPF:  I`m sure they`re smacking their lips.  They hear a guy who wants a deal, who has convinced himself that a deal is going to work.  They want sanctions relief.  They want cash.  They want money coming in.  And I think they think that if they show just a little bit of ankle, they give the president a little bit of what they want, they`re going to get all those things liaison offices.

And Kim Jung-Un is going to look like a diplomatic genius at home and frankly, he`s going to be legitimized around the world, something that was literally inconceivable two years ago.

O`DONNELL:  And the president`s new negotiating posture seems to be he just wants no more any kind of testing that could be called testing for a nuclear program.

ROTHKOPF:  I think the president`s negotiating posture is on his back asking Kim Jong-Un to scratch him on the belly.  I mean he just wants to get something that looks like a deal.  And so if there is no new testing, maybe they promise in a few years to get rid of a testing site, something that looks like progress, he`ll get the deal, he`ll get the credit, he`ll go call Prime Minister Abe in Japan and say, resubmit my Nobel Prize letter, and all the hard work is going to be done 3 years out, 10 years out, 20 years out as the North Koreans do or do not adhere to the spirit in the letter of the agreement.

O`DONNELL:  And the "AP" is reporting that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says that the United has asked Moscow`s advice in dealing with North Korea before this summit.  What could that possibly mean?

ROTHKOPF:  Trump asking for Moscow`s advice seems to be a theme that runs through almost everything in this administration.  Obviously, Moscow has got some relationship with the North Koreans.  I`m sure Trump sees this as a way of legitimizing the relationship he`s got with Putin because he can say, see, I couldn`t have done this without the relationship that I have with Moscow.

And maybe, just maybe, he`ll feel that will get him a little bit off the hook and distract from things like the Michael Cohen hearings this week, the impending Mueller report, and the 16 other investigations into his wrongdoing of different sorts.

O`DONNELL:  And, of course, according to Andrew McCabe`s account that he had an FBI official hear Donald Trump say that he believes Vladimir Putin when Vladimir Putin told him that North Korea does not have the missile capacity that his own intelligence agencies told him North Korea does have.

ROTHKOPF:  Yes, that really is going to win a prize for gullibility if it`s only gullibility.  That`s a polite interpretation.  Here, you have the president of the United States disregarding yet again all the collective intelligence and experience of his intelligence agencies to say, "Yes, Vlad wouldn`t lie to me.  I`ll take it at face value.  What could he possibly want?  He wouldn`t want the United States to possibly be weakened or buy into a bad deal, would he?"

O`DONNELL:  David Rothkopf, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

And when we come back, disapproval of Donald Trump and why that has become a majority opinion in the United States of America.  That is what Donald Trump will be running against in the presidential campaign and that`s what Donald Trump cannot beat, according to the polls that show the disapproval of Donald Trump.


O`DONNELL:  Donald Trump is president, thanks to the anti-Democratic institution that we call the electoral college.  He got three million fewer votes than Hillary Clinton and 77 more electoral college votes than Hillary Clinton.  That`s American democracy at work.

And that is why the electoral college is one feature of democracy that has not been copied by other countries around the world when they have established their versions of democracy.  With 57 percent of voters saying they definitely will not vote for Donald Trump, the electoral college once again remains Donald Trump`s only hope of holding on to the presidency.

But as of tonight, according to Gallup polling information, Donald Trump is 99 electoral college votes behind whoever the Democrats nominate for president.  And the final result could be much much worse.

After this break, we`ll show you some of the big surprises Gallup is finding on the electoral college map including the possibility that Donald Trump could lose Texas.  And we`ll show you why in his re-election campaign, Donald Trump`s worst enemy is going to be Donald Trump.


O`DONNELL:  The Gallup poll finds Donald Trump has a job approval rating of 50 percent or higher in 17 states.  That`s kind of polling information that Donald Trump himself would tweet triumphantly because math is not his strong suit.

It wouldn`t occur to Donald Trump that 17 states is only about a third of the states.  And he wouldn`t notice that Texas is not one of the states in which he has an approval rating of 50 percent or higher.  In fact, Donald Trump`s approval rating in Texas is 41 percent, with 52 percent of Texas voters disapproving of Donald Trump.

If that is Donald Trump`s approval and disapproval rating in Texas on election day, Donald Trump is going to lose Texas` 38 electoral votes.  The simple rule for incumbents running for re-election is that they are likely to lose when their approval rating is below 50 percent.

So that means that as of now Donald Trump is likely to lose Texas, but there`s plenty of time for President Trump to pump up his approval rating in Texas, but how would he do that?  Donald Trump has run out of moves.  There won`t be another Trump tax cut.  There won`t be a Trump wall.  And Texas voters know that better than most Trump voters in most Republican states.

That`s why Donald Trump is trying to pull something that looks like a rabbit out of something that looks like a North Korean hat, but for voters to believe that Donald Trump has achieved important progress toward denuclearization in North Korea, they will have to believe one or both of these people.

So it`s really hard to see how Donald Trump can improve his position in job approval polls.  And this is the only president in the history of polling who has never achieved a 50 percent or higher job approval rating nationally.  Pushing up Donald Trump`s job approval rating is something that President Trump has proved himself incapable of doing.

In 16 states, Donald Trump has an approval rating below 40 percent.  It is very hard for a politician to push an approval rating below 40 percent but Donald Trump has done it in 16 states.  That is less than a third of the states.

So what does Donald Trump have to worry about if he`s at 50 percent or higher in 17 states but below 40 percent in 16 states?  The problem is those 16 states where Donald Trump is below 40 percent have 201 electoral votes, that`s 201 electoral votes that Donald Trump can`t possibly win.

There is nothing he will be able to do to turn around those states that include huge electoral prizes like California, New York, New Jersey.  And the states where Donald Trump has an approval rating of 50 percent or higher have only 102 electoral votes because they include tiny population states like Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, and the Dakotas.

So as of tonight, of we give the Democrats the states where Donald Trump`s approval rating is below 40 percent and we give Donald Trump the states where his approval rating is 50 percent or higher, the Democrat needs to win only 69 more electoral votes.  And Donald Trump needs to win 168 more electoral votes.

It`s easy to see how the Democrat would pick up another 69 electoral votes.  And at this point, it`s very difficult to see how Donald Trump could change enough minds about Donald Trump to pick up the 168 electoral votes that he would need to win re-election.

To do that, Donald Trump would have to win almost all of the States where his approval rating is between 41 percent and 49 percent.  Now, President Trump is probably going to win a few of those states like Louisiana where he has a 49 percent approval rating and a 45 percent disapproval rating.  In Nebraska, where he`s at 49 approval, 47 disapproval.

But the president has a 42 percent approval rating in the key states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, which gave him the presidency last time.  And as of now, they look out of reach for President Trump.  And that`s because voting for an incumbent is different than voting for someone who has not yet held the office.

The voters of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, who voted for Donald Trump now know who they voted for much more clearly than they did on election night.  They have now lived through the Trump presidency, and many of those Trump voters are now part of the 54 percent disapproval rating that Donald Trump has in Pennsylvania and Michigan and the 53 percent disapproval rating he has in Wisconsin.

Here`s Gallup`s Trump`s job approval rating map of the United States.  Only the dark green states does Donald Trump have a job approval rating of 50 percent or higher.  And that is the fabled Trump base, those 17 dark green states.

And so as you follow the Trump presidency and the presidential campaign, ask yourselves what has Donald Trump said or done today that can change people`s minds about his presidency from unfavorable to favorable?  And almost every day, the answer to that question is going to be nothing.  And that`s because no matter what they put in the Trump teleprompter, he`s always going to be this guy.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  He called over his people.  He`s got 10 people standing behind him, everyone is central casting, central casting.  Glasses.


O`DONNELL:  Donald Trump gets "Tonight`s Latest Word."  "The 11th Hour with Brian Williams" starts now.