RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: One quick note before we go tonight. Newly announced presidential candidate Jay Inslee, the Governor of Washington State, will be my guest live in studio on Monday night. It will be his first cable TV interview since he announced today he is running for president. I`ll see you then. Now it`s time for "The Last Word" with Lawrence O`Donnell. Good evening Lawrence.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel. And I just pulled a Rachel Maddow here. I just ran into the chair about, I don`t know, two and a half seconds ago.
MADDOW: Do you need to catch your breath?
O`DONNELL: It`s the standard arrival time for you I know, two and a half seconds before the camera goes on. But, for me, I need that little glide time in here which I did not get tonight.
MADDOW: Just take it in through your.
O`DONNELL: OK, it`s a breathing thing? Yes? All right. Well, we are going to see how this hour works then.
MADDOW: Well done, my friend.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Full disclosure, Tom Melanowski is a friend of mine. And I say full disclosure because he is now a member of Congress and he`s going to be joining us later in this hour. Tom was born in Poland at the height of the Cold War when it was in communist control and in the grip of the Soviet Union.
When he was 6 years old, he fled to the United States with his mother, grew up in New Jersey. I met Tom when we both started working for Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan around the same time in 1988. Tom has spent his life concerned with human rights in his work in Senator Moynihan`s office and then in President Clinton`s National Security Council where he was a senior director and then as the chief advocate for Human Rights Watch and then as President Obama`s Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy Rights and Labor.
I should have known what Tom Malinowski was going to do when President Trump said that he believes that Kim Jong-un had nothing to do with the torture and death of Otto Warmbier. Tonight Tom Malinowski tweeted this, "I`ll be introducing a bipartisan resolution next week affirming that Congress holds Kim Jong-un responsible for the death of Otto Warmbier."
Of course Tom Malinowski is going to get that done and that`s why Congressman Malinowski will make his first appearance on this program later in this hour and this one is emotional for me; this is personal. When Tom and I started working for Senator Moynihan in 1988, neither one of us ever dreamed that we`d be doing what we`re doing today; that Tom would be a freshman member of Congress and I`d be lucky enough to be in a position to interview him.
You`re going to want to meet Tom Malinowski. At the very end of the hour tonight, a very special "Last Word" segment using video from the Michael Cohen hearing starring Congressman Jimmy Gomez, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and some additional footage starring fictional Congressman, Matt Santos as played brilliantly by Jimmy Smitz on the NBC White House series, "The West Wing."
We`re going to show you something that Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez did in that hearing that has a meaning that no one else seems to have noticed and Jimmy Smitz is going to show the presidential candidates how you take on Donald Trump on the debate stage. You will not want to miss that. Malcolm Nance is going to be joining us tonight. We will also be joined by Congressman Lloyd Doggett, a senior member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee - the one committee that has the legal authority to obtain Donald Trump`s tax returns.
The Ways and Means Committee is not usually an important player in investigative hearings, but the Trump tax returns might make Ways and Means the most important committee in the investigative process. It is now clear that democrats in Congress intend to use Michael Cohen`s testimony this week as the road map for their investigations of the President of the United States. That means Michael Cohen`s testimony is the beginning of the beginning of the first serious Congressional investigations of Donald Trump and one of the first steps in these real Congressional investigations of the president will be to obtain his tax returns.
The Associated Press reports multiple democrat-led House committees are pledging to investigate not only Trump`s campaign ties to Russia, which are also the subject of Special Counsel Robert Mueller`s probe, but presidential conflicts of interest, possible money laundering and other oversight matters that democrats say were ignored under GOP control.
After Michael Cohen`s final day of testimony, which was to a closed session of the House Intelligence Committee, a member of that committee, Democrat Eric Swalwell said that Michael Cohen, quote, "Has been asked based on a lot of new evidence we learned today to bring corroborating materials that he believes he has."
The most incriminating corroborating material that Michael Cohen has produced publicly so far was the check that was called a smoking gun in Wednesday`s public hearing. The check showing Donald Trump`s signature while he was President of the United States engaging in a criminal scheme to reimburse Michael Cohen for paying for the silence of Stormy Daniels in the last days of the presidential campaign.
The world has never seen a check signed by a President of the United States for a criminal purpose. That is what federal prosecutors in New York say Donald Trump and Michael Cohen did in arranging the payoff to Stormy Daniels. They engaged in what the prosecutors call a crime against the United States of America. NBC news reports that the Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over taxation and has the unique power to examine individual tax returns, is quote, "readying a request for years of President Donald Trump`s personal tax returns that is expected to land at the Internal Revenue Service as early as the next few weeks," NBC news has learned.
And democrats are prepared to take all necessary steps, including litigation, in order to obtain them. Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neil of Massachusetts has asked the committee`s attorneys to prepare the request according to two aides involved in the process. Neal has also contacted the chairs of several other House investigative committees, including Oversight and Government Reform, Financial Services, Intelligence and Judiciary asking them to provide detailed arguments for why they need the president`s tax returns to conduct their probes.
The Ways and Means Committee believes ten years of President Trump`s tax returns, quote, "can give a good sense of whether there is any evidence of tax fraud and numerous items of interest," an aide told NBC news. Congressman Lloyd Doggett, who is a senior member of the Ways and Means Committee, will join us in a moment. Top democrats have told "Axios" that the House committees want to call Trump family members to testify, with subpoenas if necessary, before some committees.
Besides Russia, topics include conflicts of interest, money laundering and Jared Kushner`s security clearance and other White House clearances. Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin, a member of the House Oversight Committee, tells "Axios" that the committees are zeroing in on the Moscow Project, the Russia connection and the influence of other foreign actors like Saudi Arabia. Today Congressman Gerry Connelly of the Oversight Committee said it`s all about methodically building a case.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you reconcile that growing belief that criminal activity took place and a hesitation, even reluctance to consider impeachment?
REP. GERRY CONNOLLY, (D) VIRGINIA: Well, I think what you`re describing as hesitation or reluctance I would rather describe as trying to be methodical and - and building a case here, if a case is to be had. We can`t ignore criminal activity. But remember, this is the first public hearing, the first. It has to be a process. When we look back at Watergate, that was almost a two-year process and it worked. It persuaded the American people that the person they put faith in didn`t deserve it.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Leading off our discussion now, Democratic Congressman Lloyd Doggett of Texas. He`s a senior member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. Also with us, former federal prosecutor, Barbara McQuade. She`s an MSNBC legal contributor, Jill Wine-Banks, a former assistant Watergate special prosecutor and an MSNBC legal analyst, is with us.
And, Congressman Doggett, I want to begin with you and the Ways and Means Committee, your attempt to obtain the president`s tax returns. This is a power that the Senate Finance Committee has with its jurisdiction over taxation and the House Ways and Means Committee has with its jurisdiction over taxation. It is rarely used. In my years working as the staff director of the Senate Finance Committee, I never saw it used.
And so, the system is a little rusty about actually how to use it. Does Congressman Neal feel that he has all the legal counsel he needs now to proceed with asking the IRS to deliver Donald Trump`s tax returns?
REP. LLOYD DOGGETT (D), TEXAS: Well, that would really be for him to say. I have confidence in him and the approach he`s taken here. Clearly, the evidence grows by the day of a potential criminal enterprise here. And we have our work cut out, given the confidence that we need in the tax system for the American people, given the role that the president can play in tax law and tax administrative decisions.
There`s some estimate that he may have gotten as much as a billion dollars for his family out of the recent tax law. So, we have so many reasons, in addition to what Michael Cohen has said this week, to look at the tax law, tax policy, and then our committee also has a responsibility for others, the possibility of significant amount of Saudi and Russian influence through investments in Mr. Trump`s enterprises. That also needs to be explored.
So, I`m hopeful now we`re three months almost into this session that we will move almost immediately to get personal and business tax returns in order to get a full picture of what`s going on here. You`re familiar, Lawrence, as you said with the statute. It`s almost a 100-year-old statute.
It makes it clear all it takes is the signature of the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee to request the Treasury Department to provide these returns, though I think good groundwork is being laid here to lay out a very legitimate set of legislative purposes that will be met by getting these returns.
O`DONNELL: Congressman, I just want to clarify for the audience that one of the purposes of the committees the chairman being able to obtain the returns is actually for -- to understand how tax law is working.
And so, the cases that I have seen when I was at the Senate Finance Committee were we obtained certain kinds of tax returns where the individual`s information was crossed out. We didn`t know whose return it was. We just wanted to see what does it look like when you see a certain pattern of deductions and how does this particular real estate deduction work and how is it working in practice.
O`DONNELL: That`s normally what it`s been for. It`s a pretty academic exercise.
DOGGETT: That`s right.
O`DONNELL: This is something very, very different. This is almost like the Ways and Means Committee wanting to do its own audit of returns. And that`s something we haven`t seen before.
DOGGETT: Well, it -- and we`re in an unprecedented situation with this president and the way he operates and the way he`s operated and mixed his personal interests and desire for personal enrichment with what should be the public interest. So, there are many aspects of this that need to be explored.
And, of course, even Donald Trump recognized he needed a stamp of approval for his tax returns so he produced a letter that I think you`ve discussed last year from his law firm saying that he was clear of any Russian counterparts. Of course, the law firm that gave him that stamp of approval had up on their Website that they were proud to be the Russia law firm of the year.
And so, looking at his foreign entanglements as reflected not only in his personal returns but up to 500-plus entities that he appears to control. That range from Azerbaijan, to Miami Beach, to Panama, there`s good reason to look at those, see what confidence we can have that he`s even being audited. Michael Cohen raised a question about that, as to whether he was actually being audited.
But we want to be sure that the audit is done right, if that`s happening. In Richard Nixon`s case, there were generous public comments about the audit from the IRS. And then when the facts were all out there, it turned out that he owed a significant amount of money.
Here`s a president that appears to have engaged, according to his fixer, his lawyer, in some very questionable, what appear to be criminal, sleazy kind of operations that would deny tax revenue the government needs and confidence that the public needs in this tax system, so that we all do our part to support this country.
O`DONNELL: Jill Wine-Banks, Congressman Doggett just handed the ball off to you, with that reference to Richard Nixon`s tax returns, which I know were part of the Watergate investigation. And I have to say, this week, Jill, for you, this is when it must really start feeling like Watergate. You have very serious congressional investigations under way at the very same time that you have a very serious special prosecutor at work. And now, we see the pursuit of the president`s tax returns.
Tell us about how the Nixon tax returns worked their way into the investigation.
JILL WINE-BANKS, FORMER ASSISTANT WATERGATE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: Well, first of all, both congratulations to your opening and Congressman Doggett. That really lays out a significant case and also to Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who really laid the foundation, saying that through a very concise series of questions, that there was a real reason to get the tax returns and financial and bank records of the president.
She really laid it out. She also identified some significant witnesses that should be called to Congress. And having public hearings is very much a part of what Watergate did to bring the American people the knowledge they needed so that they could accept what we did in the indictment.
The tax returns for Richard Nixon related to some phony deductions that he had taken and were legitimate grounds for one of the many things that he did wrong. And they sort of got lost in the overall obstruction of justice case, the abuse of power, the abuse of government agencies like the CIA to interfere with the FBI. Those things ended up being much more what the public focused on.
But I think that this series of really first time public hearings is so critical. We need more of it. The American people want to know and should know. And that`s whether the evidence ends up exonerating or incriminating the president. We don`t know the outcome, but so far, the public hearing is incriminating to the president.
O`DONNELL: And, Barbara McQuade, as a prosecutor, when you hear Congressman Jerry Connolly say, building a case, what you`re seeing is Congress methodically, as he put it, building a case. And you see we now have three to four committees in active pursuit of building that case.
BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Yes. A supervisor of mine when I was a federal prosecutor used to like to use this metaphor to say, you know, one brick is not a wall, but many bricks are a wall. And so don`t expect to advance a case with any one witness or any one document. But if you can assemble enough of them, you can put together a very sizeable and significant case.
And so, this week I think we learned many things that help advance that case. Michael Cohen himself is not a wall of evidence. And I think there are those who are pointing to Michael Cohen and saying see there, there is no collusion, there is no case. But he advanced the ball in many ways. First, some of the facts that he testified to and some of the documents he brought himself.
But as Jill just said, in the questioning, for example, Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez identified and drew out of him, elicited the names of additional people that should be questioned and other documents that should be reviewed. And so, in that way, every time you interview a witness, every time you look at documents, you uncover additional bricks that you can use to build that wall.
O`DONNELL: And, Congressman Lloyd Doggett, I know that you became a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, you thought, as all committee members thought, that the most controversial, pressurized thing you`d ever handle is tax legislation because that`s what usually is, the most pressurized thing in a Congress.
But here you are now on the ways and means committee at the very center of this investigation and we really appreciate you joining us tonight. And we hope you can come back. We`re going to have to hear more about how it`s proceeding in your committee. We really appreciate it.
Barbara McQuade and Jill Wine-Banks --
DOGGETT: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: -- we always need your expertise on this and we`re lucky to have it tonight. Thank you for joining us and we really appreciate it.
WINE-BANKS: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, the democratic Congress will investigate why intelligence experts and Donald Trump`s own top aides didn`t want Jared Kushner to have a top security clearance, but President Trump gave it to him anyway.
And freshman democratic Congressman Tom Malinowski is going to join us. He is going to introduce a resolution in the House of Representatives that says Kim Jong-un is indeed responsible for the torture and death of Otto Warmbier in direct contradiction to what Donald Trump has said about it. Tom Malinowski will join us. At the ending of this hour, we are going to use more material from the Michael Cohen hearing on Wednesday, this time starring Congressman Jimmy Gomez, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, with a cameo appearance from a fictional congressman, Matt Santos, played by the great Jimmy Smits in the NBC presidential drama, "The West Wing" and it will all lead to a lesson for the democratic presidential nominee on how to handle Donald Trump on the presidential debate stage.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will show them the debating homework they`re going to need and Jimmy Smits will show them the debating style they`re going to need against Donald Trump. And, yes, there will be a "West Wing" clip.
O`DONNELL: The House Oversight Committee already had an open investigation about White House security clearances, but that investigation went into overdrive today after "The New York Times" reported Jared Kushner was denied a security clearance by everyone involved in the process, and then got a security clearance only because President Trump intervened and ordered a security clearance for his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, something the president has repeatedly publicly denied that he did.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There`s been a story in the news in the last two weeks about your son-in-law`s security clearance.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you tell General Kelly or anyone else in the White House to overrule security officials, the career veterans?
TRUMP: No. I don`t think I have the authority to do that. I`m not sure I do.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You do.
TRUMP: But I - I wouldn`t -- I wouldn`t do it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. You know.
TRUMP: Jared is a good - I - I - I was never involved with his security.
O`DONNELL: Donald Trump is not the only Trump who denied that the president interfered in the security clearance process.
IVANKA TRUMP, DAUGHTER OF PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: There were anonymous leaks about there being issues, but the president had no involvement pertaining to my clearance or my husband`s clearance.
O`DONNELL: Now you know what Ivanka Trump looks like when she`s lying. "The New York Times" reports that White House Counsel Don McGahn and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly were so concerned about the president ordering a security clearance for his son-in-law that they each wrote memos in which they clarified their objections to the security clearance for Jared Kushner.
Tonight Overnight Committee Chair Elijah Cummings sent a letter to the White House saying that they have, quote, "stalled, equivocated and failed to produce a single document or witness to the committee about security clearances." Today Harvard Law School Professor Lawrence Tribe said if Trump is ever impeached, the charges of great and dangerous offenses against the nation should include recklessly imperiling our national security by abusing, for personal and family benefit, his authority to grant access to top-secret information.
Joining our discussion now is John Sipher, a former senior CIA officer who ran operations in Russia. This week he wrote a piece for "The New York Times" titled, "Putin`s One Weapon, the Intelligence State." He is also a writer for the "Cipher Brief."
And Malcolm Nance is with us. He`s an MSNBC counterterrorism and intelligence analyst. Malcolm, I want to get your reaction to that last thing I read, which is Lawrence Tribe in effect writing an article of impeachment. If it is proven that Donald Trump did override the process and order the security clearance for his son-in-law, is Professor Tribe`s draft of an article of impeachment appropriate or is that an overreaction?
MALCOLM NANCE, FORMER COUNTERTERRORISM INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: Well, that depends. It really depends on whether that information that Jared Kushner got may have been abused. We`ve seen some evidence that there was some abuse that is outside the parameters of normal foreign policy. Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, actually bragged publicly that he was given a list of his enemies, whom he arrested, imprisoned and in one case may even have caused the death of an individual in order to extort money out of people who were the royalty of Saudi Arabia.
He claims Jared Kushner gave him that enemies list. That is not a normal use of intelligence processes that we have. Could Donald Trump say I did this, I gave him as the central adjudicating authority, I gave him this clearance? Yes but if at any point that information is found to be in the hands of our enemies or is found to have been traded off in some form of horse trading for some personal benefit, then you have an article of impeachment.
O`DONNELL: John Cipher, what do you see at stake in the security clearance process, especially as it regards Jared Kushner?
JOHN SIPHER, FORMER SENIOR CIA OFFICER: Well, in some ways I think it`s more simple. I can remember in the `90s when some of President Clinton`s activities were such that essentially everybody below him would have been fired for the same stuff that he was getting involved with. I think this impacts on millions of people with security clearances who have to open up their lives, who have to show their financial records, who have to follow the rules to keep a security clearance, when the people at the top can abuse that privilege, you know, at will. And so I think there`s a lot of people working for this president, working for this administration who really feel that they`re part of an unfair process.
O`DONNELL: And Malcolm, the fact that the president is out there saying I didn`t do what sources inside the Trump Administration are saying he did do, this is not going to come as a surprise to anyone. This is something that it seems the country has already just figured into the process, that there`s really no chance Donald Trump would tell the truth about something like this.
NANCE: No. Well, Donald Trump, you know, plays this - this active measure sort of old communist trick, the fog of unknowability, you know that served Vladimir Putin so well. I didn`t do this. I never said that. But if I did, I`m president, I could do it. Well, which one is it? And he really markets that, so that when it does come out, and it will come out because there are two contemporaneous memos from eyewitnesses to this process, he will lean back and will say, well, I had the authority to do that anyway. And this is, you know like Michael Cohen said the other day, it`s the way that he gets people to lie and say things in an open sort of scheme in which he will give them an inference and they will run with it. So by next week when this comes out, the entire Republican Party will be saying he has the authority to do this.
O`DONNELL: And John, obviously the Trump White House is leaking about this. I mean "The New York Times" doesn`t reveal its sources, but that`s where all of this information would have come from, the existence of the John Kelly memo, the existence of the White House counsel`s memo saying there should not be a security clearance. I mean leaks from inside the White House are hanging signs on exactly what the Congress should be sending subpoenas for.
SIPHER: Well, that`s because, like I said before, I think a lot of these people realize the unfairness of it -- the rules that they have to follow to keep their security clearances, in fact that they would get fired if they did any of this kind of activity. Think about the people who had to review these security clearances for Mr. Kushner, for them to deny a clearance to him, the president`s son-in-law, think of how they had to make that decision. They had to be pretty sure of themselves to deny a clearance for someone that high in the White House, that close to the president.
They had to be pretty confident this was a really bad idea and so the people in the White House who were around this and see these things and see these things every day and see Mr. Kushner and perhaps like we do, see him as someone who`s really a third stringer, a 32-year-old with no experience whatsoever running our foreign policy, they are probably embarrassed by it and upset by it as well and, therefore, perhaps leak.
O`DONNELL: Well, Chairman Elijah Cummings is going to try to subpoena his way to the bottom of this and possibly so is the special prosecutor. John Sipher, Malcolm Nance, thank you both for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.
SIPHER: My pleasure.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, I should have known that Tom Malinowski wasn`t going to stand for what Donald Trump is saying about North Korea`s murderous dictator. I`ve known Tom Malinowski a long time and you`re going to meet him tonight as a freshman member of Congress. Next week, Tom Malinowski is going to introduce a resolution in the House of Representatives in direct contradiction of President Trump, a resolution that says the North Korean dictator is responsible for the torture and death of Otto Warmbier.
O`DONNELL: Historians will struggle to decide what is the most deplorable thing President Trump said, the stupidest thing President Trump said, the most evil thing President Trump said. What he has said this week about the murderous dictator of North Korea will be on historians` lists in every one of those categories.
TRUMP: He`s very smart. He`s sharp as you can be and he`s a real leader.
O`DONNELL: No dictator is a real leader. Real leaders are elected by a majority of the people in their country. That means Donald Trump is not a real leader and it means that Kim Jong-un is really not a leader at all. He is a terrorist. He controls his country by terror.
TRUMP: He likes me, I like him. Some people say, "Oh, you shouldn`t like him." I said, "Why shouldn`t I like him?"
O`DONNELL: You shouldn`t like him because he is an overfed man who starves his own people to death. That man starves children. That man sitting beside you starves the elderly. He is a world class sociopath sitting right beside you, a madman. He is not smart by any standard other than the Trump family standard. That`s why you should not like him. Your job as president is to negotiate with people you don`t like and to try to get them to do things we want them to do.
President Obama has always done that. President Obama never said that he liked the leaders of Iran when he got them to stop their program of developing nuclear weapons through negotiations. You should not like the North Korean dictator, and you should not believe him. Donald Trump became a partner, an active partner in evil with Kim Jong-un when he said he believed that Kim Jong-un had nothing to do with torturing the young American citizen, Otto Warmbier, who was in custody in North Korea for a year; tortured to the point of brain damage for a year. When Kim Jong-un finally let him go home to die, Donald Trump says the murderous dictator of North Korea had nothing to do with that.
TRUMP: I don`t believe that he would have allowed that to happen. It just wasn`t to his advantage to allow that to happen. I don`t believe he knew about it and some really bad things happened to Otto, some really, really bad things. But he tells me -- he tells me that he didn`t know about it and I will take him at his word.
O`DONNELL: What was that? Rank Trump stupidity? Yes. Evil? Yes. Here`s what Otto Warmbier`s parents had to say about that in a written statement today. "We have been respectful during this summit process. Now we must speak out. Kim and his evil regime are responsible for the death of our son Otto. Kim and his evil regime are responsible for unimaginable cruelty and inhumanity. No excuses or lavish praise can change that."
Our next guest is not going to stand for it. Freshman Congressman Tom Malinowski is going to introduce a bipartisan resolution affirming that Congress holds Kim Jong-un responsible for the death of Otto Warmbier. Congressman Tom Malinowski will join us next. Join us next.
O`DONNELL: Here is the father of Otto Warmbier in 2017 after his son died from the torture that he suffered in North Korea.
FRED WARMBIER, FATHER OF OTTO WARMBIER: He`s blind, he`s deaf, he`s got a feeding tube, and we kneel down and we hug him and try to connect with him. He`s a complete vegetable. And his bottom teeth look like they had taken a pair of pliers and rearranged them. Otto was systematically tortured and intentionally injured by Kim Jong -- Kim and his regime. This was no accident.
O`DONNELL: That was shortly before Otto Warmbier died. Joining us now is democratic Congresswoman Tom Malinowski from New Jersey. He was former the Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor in the Obama Administration. He plans to introduce a bipartisan resolution in the House affirming that Congress holds North Korea`s Kim Jong-un responsible for the death of Otto Warmbier.
Tom, thank you for joining us tonight, really appreciate it. I explained to the audience at the beginning of the hour tonight our connection going back to 1988 working at the same time, both of us, for Senator Moynihan of New York. You were always working on human rights issues then. Your career has stayed on that focus and here you are now in your first year of service in the House. What was your reaction when you heard the president just acquit, totally acquit, say, Kim Jong-un is innocent of the death of Otto Warmbier.
REP. TOM MALINOWSKI, (D) NEW JERSEY: Disgraceful, and part of a disgraceful pattern. You know he seems to instinctively side with powerful men who are accused of moral transgressions. Go figure, in this case bringing more pain to a family that has suffered far too much pain. And I think it`s just another case where the United States Congress has got to try to be an alternative voice for America in the world. Congress has to step up and say what`s right and what`s wrong, what`s true and what`s false. And I`ve got to tell you, I`ve talked to a lot of my republican colleagues in the last 48 hours, just on this issue, and they agree. This is something we`re going to be bipartisan on.
O`DONNELL: Your announcement tonight said bipartisan, so that means you believe you have republican votes lined up for your resolution.
MALINOWSKI: We`re divided on so many things, right, in the Congress; domestic policy, even foreign policy, but not a question like this. This is so fundamental. I think, again, it`s just important that when the president goes off and says something like this or fails to say the right thing on behalf of our country, that the Congress step up and do its duty together and I think we will.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what the Republican Leader of the House, Kevin McCarthy, has said about this.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY(R) CALIFORNIA, HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: I do not see the leader of North Korea as somebody who`s a friend. We know what happened to Otto. We know what this country has done. I support the president and his effort to denuclearize them but I do not have a misbelief of who this leader is.
O`DONNELL: Do you think you`re going to have Kevin McCarthy`s vote on this vote that basically rebukes President Trump?
MALINOWSKI: I sure hope so. I think it`s a vote that stands up for what the United States believes in. Say what you want about President Trump, we need to speak for America.
O`DONNELL: This will really be historic in so many ways. First of all, it`s just beyond belief that the Congress even has to make this statement in reaction to a president saying this. But if you are the one who introduces the resolution that finally finds the thing in which you can get republicans, possibly even a majority of the republicans in the House of Representatives to vote against the president.
MALINOWSKI: It won`t be the first time. We just did it on NATO. Right? We just overwhelmingly passed in the House of Representatives not just a resolution, but a binding piece of legislation that says you cannot pull the United States out of NATO. When it comes to our basic values, our security in the world, who we stand with, who we stand against, I still think we`re united in the Congress.
O`DONNELL: Tom Malinowski, thank you for joining us tonight. This is really an honor to have you in your first appearance here as a member of Congress.
MALINOWSKI: It`s my honor, thank you.
O`DONNELL: When we come back, the Michael Cohen hearing was a lesson for the democratic presidential candidates on how to handle Donald Trump on the debate stage. I will explain that with clips from Congressman Jimmy Gomez, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and a cameo by fictional congressman Matt Santos played by the great Jimmy Smits in the NBC presidential drama, "The West Wing." Yes, "West Wing" clip coming up.
O`DONNELL: Remember the audit -- it`s the reason candidate Donald Trump said he could not release his tax returns.
TRUMP: I`m being audited now.
A minor audit.
It`s under routine audit.
But, but as soon as my routine audit is finished, I`ll release my returns; I`ll be very proud to.
O`DONNELL: As I told you then, I never believed it. I never believed there was an audit. I immediately started asking Donald Trump and the Trump campaign to simply produce the audit letter that begins every audit. A letter from the IRS saying that they are auditing Donald Trump`s tax returns. That letter wouldn`t tell us anything that`s in his tax returns; it`s a simple one-page letter that everyone under audit gets. It`s one of the many reasons Donald Trump would never be interviewed on this show, the audit letter that probably didn`t exist, and where he was interviewed, the interviewers didn`t know about audit letters, so the news media let it slide and slide and slide. But Congressman Jimmy Gomez never forgot about the audit story.
REP. JIMMY GOMEZ, (D) CALIFORNIA: Mr. Cohen, do you know whether President Trump`s tax returns were really under audit by the IRS in 2016?
COHEN: I don`t know the answer. I asked for a copy of the audit so that I could use it in terms of my statements to the press and I was never able to obtain one.
O`DONNELL: He obviously means he asked for a copy of the audit letter since there is no copy of an actual audit. Now I`d like to think that I provoked Michael Cohen to ask for the audit letter over there in Trump world, but Donald Trump and his accountants didn`t have an audit letter to show Michael Cohen.
GOMEZ: Can you give us any insight into what that the real reason is that the president has refused to release his tax returns?
MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER DONALD TRUMP ATTORNEY: The statements that he has said to me is that what he didn`t want was to have an entire group of thank tanks that are tax experts run through his tax return and start ripping it to pieces and then he`ll end up in an audit and he`ll ultimately have taxable consequences, penalties and so on.
GOMEZ: So that`s an interesting point, that basically said he didn`t want to release his tax returns, because he might end up in an audit. So could you presume from that statement that he wasn`t under audit?
COHEN: I presume that he`s not under audit.
O`DONNELL: Sounds like Michael Cohen and I have -- Michael Cohen and I have both been presuming that Donald Trump has not been under audit since the first time he claimed that he was under audit. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been praised for her series of questions in the hearing a "New York Times" op-ed today declared that Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez won the hearing because her smart questions established a basis for Congress to subpoena Donald Trump`s tax returns. But she did something else with her questions that no one else seems to have noticed, something very, very important and important for the presidential campaign. And we`ll show you that, next.
O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez delivered a brilliant line of questioning at the Michael Cohen hearing on Wednesday that opened up new areas of investigation for the committee with new witnesses. She picked up on a point Michael Cohen made earlier that "The National Enquirer" has a treasure trove of documents about stories that it killed for Donald Trump.
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ, (D) NEW YORK: You also mentioned that the president was very concerned about the whereabouts of these documents and who possessed them. Does that treasure trove of documents still exist?
COHEN: I don`t know. I had asked David Pecker for them.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: So you would say the person who knows of the whereabouts of these documents would be David Pecker.
COHEN: David Pecker, Barry Levine or Dylan Howard.
O`DONNELL: So David Pecker, Barry Levine, and Dylan Howard, your subpoenas are probably on the way. And then Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez asked the first question in what is sure to be an investigation of insurance fraud by Donald Trump.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: To your knowledge, did the president ever provide inflated assets to an insurance company?
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Who else knows that the president did this?
COHEN: Allen Weisselberg, Ron Lieberman and Matthew Calamari.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: And where would the committee find more information on this? Do you think we need his financial statements and his tax returns in order to compare them?
COHEN: Yes, and you would find it at the Trump Org.
O`DONNELL: So Allen Weisselberg, Ron Lieberman, and Matthew Calamari, all better start getting ready for the committee`s questions for them on insurance fraud and many other aspects of the Trump business. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been widely praised for all of that, but most observers have missed that the Congresswoman who republicans like to call a socialist exposed Donald Trump`s personal brand of socialism; the socialism that Donald Trump really loves, the socialism that puts -- puts taxpayer money directly into Donald Trump`s pocket.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: The Trump Golf Organization currently has a golf course in my home borough of the Bronx, Trump Links. I drive past it every day, going between Bronx and -- going between the Bronx and Queens.
O`DONNELL: That was the most perfect illustration of House Speaker Tip O`Neill`s old line that all politics is local and it turned out to be the perfect illustration of just how much Donald Trump loves socialism when it`s just for him.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: Taxpayers spent $127 million to build Trump Links in a, quote, "generous deal," allowing President Trump to keep almost every dollar that flows in on a golf course built with public funds.
O`DONNELL: New York taxpayers spent $127 million that could have gone to public schools or public housing. But it went to a Trump golf course, which benefits the fewest possible New Yorkers per square foot of any building project in the history of New York, and it financially benefits Donald Trump.
TRUMP: Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.
(CROWD CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
O`DONNELL: Yes, Donald Trump is like every other republican businessman in America who hates socialism, except when the socialism is designed to specifically put money in their pockets, like the owners of professional sports teams who force taxpayers to pay for their stadiums. The presidential candidate who is going to beat Donald Trump on a debate stage is the presidential candidate who knows what to do when Donald Trump throws around that word "socialism" as if it is a crime. In the final season of NBC`s "The West Wing" when I wrote the live presidential debate episode, I had Alan Alda throw the world "liberal" at Jimmy Smits a few times and then instead of running away from that word the way democrats did in t hose days, instead of being afraid of that word, Jimmy Smits said what I always wanted to hear a candidate say.
JIMMY SMITS ON "THE WEST WING"; Republicans have tried to turn "liberal" into a bad word. Well, liberals ended slavery in this country.
ALAN ALDA ON "THE WEST WING": A republican president ended slavery.
SMITS: Yes, a liberal republican. What happened to them? They got run out of your party. What did liberals do that was so offensive to the Republican Party, Senator? I`ll tell you what they did. Liberals got women the right to vote. Liberals got African-Americans the right to vote. Liberals created social security, and lifted millions of elderly people out of poverty. Liberals ended segregation. Liberals passed the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act. Liberals created Medicare. Liberals passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act. What did conservatives do? They opposed every one of those programs. Every one. So when you try to hurl that word, "liberal" at my feet as if it were something dirty, something to run away from, something that I should be ashamed of, it won`t work Senator because I will pick up that label and I will wear it as a badge of honor.
(CROWD CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
O`DONNELL: So when Donald Trump throws the word socialism at the democratic presidential candidate on the debate stage, that candidate cannot hide, cannot run away from that word. That candidate has to tell the audience that`s what republicans said about Social Security when they opposed it in 1935 and that`s what republicans said about Medicare when they opposed it in 1965.
And it`s true that those are socialistic programs. But they`re programs that work well and make millions of people`s lives much better. The Democratic candidate is going to have to be brave enough to honestly talk about socialism to that national T.V. audience and tell them that there is good socialism, like social security and Medicare, and there is very, very bad socialism.
And the worst socialism in America is Trump golf socialism. Donald Trump`s socialism.
That`s tonight`s LAST WORD. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.