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Trump rants for more than two hours. TRANSCRIPT: 3/4/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell.

Guests: Frank Rich, Michael Rothfeld, Eric Swalwell, Ira Shapiro, SamStein

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST:  And, Rachel, once again, I am learning my breaking news from you.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  In the crossover, sorry. 

O`DONNELL:  Yes.  No, I need to hear it and so if you need more time to expand on this "Wall Street Journal" report, this is -- this is new ground.  This idea that the pardon was being dangled in front of Michael Cohen.  Obviously, something happened to that because Michael Cohen has clearly given up on the pardon strategy. 

MADDOW:  Yes, so Michael Cohen gets there and in his opening statements as I would not seek or accept a pardon from Trump, that gave rise to these really interesting reports over the weekend that what he has was talk about behind closed doors at the intelligence committee is the prospect he was being dangled a pardon around the time that the FBI and SDNY was reviewing all that stuff that was taken from his home and office. 

This "Wall Street Journal" story that just broken sort of casts that the other way around, saying that Cohen came looking for a pardon through his former attorney Stephen Ryan.  I think a lot of, you know, all of this reporting will depend whether or not Rudy Giuliani is the source for the story.


MADDOW:  So, we`ll have to find that out.  But this is very hot territory in terms of potential legal jeopardy for the president. 

O`DONNELL:  It certainly is.  Thank you very much, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  Thanks, Lawrence. 

O`DONNELL:  Well,           there is sometimes a method to Donald Trump`s madness.  Both the method and madness were on full display on Saturday at the Conservative Political Action Conference.  The president clearly had a mission on Saturday and it was to teach his audience his followers the one word he really wants them to say when the Mueller report comes out or when the House Judiciary Committee votes on articles of impeachment. 

And that word is a common profanity that you have never heard the president of a United States just dropped into a major speech, to an audience of thousands of people and a TV audience of millions of people.  It`s a word that I can`t say on TV because this industry considers that word beneath the dignity of an anchorman, an occupation that has played in the movies by Will Ferrell. 

We are going to show you the president saying that word at the end of this hour.  It will be unedited.  He will not be bleeped.  You will hear him say it.  You`ll hear him say a couple times because he said it a couple times. 

And I`ll explain why I believe the president said that very deliberately on Saturday, why I believe that specifically is the word that President Trump wants to drive into the heads of his followers now and why this is not just another instance of a performer whose brand is outrageous, having to go to an even more outrageous level.  It was more than that.  It was a deliberate choice by Donald Trump in the management of his relationship with his followers. 

Here is a taste of the madness that was on display on Saturday. 


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  You know, great friend of mine from New York, he`s a stone cold killer.  He`s a brutal man.  He`s actually not even a good friend of mine because he would turn on me in two seconds. 


O`DONNELL:  OK.  That`s new ground for a presidential speech.  The speech rambled on for two hours so it had a lot of new ground for a presidential speech. 


TRUMP:  You talk central casting, these guys, you can`t -- I mean, it`s incredible.  They had a master sergeant there.  I can take him right now, bring him to Hollywood, make a military movie and he`s the star of the movie.  That happened once before, you know, that did happen once before.  Remember, they brought a man in, a sergeant, a drill sergeant to teach some actor how to be a drill sergeant. 

The drill sergeant was so incredible that he ended up starring in the movie and he should have gotten the academy award, by the way, but he didn`t that`s because Hollywood December criminates against our people.  You know the movie I`m talking about, right?  What was that movie?  You know the movie. 


O`DONNELL:  "Full Metal Jacket", 1988.  And for once and possibly the only passage in that speech, Donald Trump is right.  That is the most accurate string of sentences that Donald Trump assembled in his speech on Saturday. 

Lee Ermey was a marine drill sergeant who Stanley Kubrick ended up casting as a drill sergeant in "Full Metal Jacket."  There has never been a better portrayal of a drill sergeant by an actor, and Lee Ermey was not a Trump supporter in 1988, because no one was, and Lee Ermey did get a much deserved Golden Globe nomination, but it was a very tough field for best supporting actor category that year because Sean Connery was in it and Sean Connery won the Oscar for his part in the "Untouchables".

But on Saturday, that CPAC, Sean Connery did not deserve that Oscar over an actor whose name Donald Trump couldn`t remember because of some kind of liberal Hollywood conspiracy.  That is what Donald Trump and CPAC have become.  That`s where their madness goes. 

Congressman Eric Swalwell, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, will join us tonight.  We will get his reaction to President Trump`s new defense offered on Saturday.  His new defense about his public attempt at collusion with Russia during the presidential campaign. 


TRUMP:  Russia, if you`re listening, I hope you`re able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing. 


O`DONNELL:  On Saturday, Donald Trump mounted the joke defense. 


TRUMP:  If you tell a joke, if you`re sarcastic, if you`re having fun with an audience and having fun with millions of people and 25,000 people in an arena and if you say something like Russia please, if you can, get us Hillary Clinton`s e-mails.  Please, Russia, please. 



O`DONNELL:  Those are Donald Trump`s imitation of Donald Trump.

MSNBC`s Katy Tur was actually on the scene when Donald Trump asked Russia to get those e-mails during the campaign, and he did not use the joke defense. 


KATY TUR, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Do you have any qualms about asking a foreign government, Russia, China, anybody, to interfere -- to hack into a system of anybody`s in this country? 

TRUMP:  That`s up to the president.  Let the president talk to them.  Look, here`s the problem, Katy, here`s the problem, very simple.

TUR:  No, no, you just told us a moment ago, Mr. Trump, you said the Russians --

TRUMP:  He had no respect -- 

TUR:  You said, I welcome them to find those 30,000 e-mails --

TRUMP:  Well, they probably have them.  I`d like to have them released. 

TUR:  Does that not give you pause?

TRUMP:  No, it gives me no pause. 


O`DONNELL:  No pause, no joke defense. 

"The Washington Post" counted 104 lies that the president told in his speech on Saturday.  He came close to a lie a minute in what was 122-minute speech.  A piece by Jane Mayer in "The New Yorker" published online today is titled "The Making of the Fox News White House".  The article describes the symbiotic relationship between Fox News and Donald Trump and explains why the 104 lies the president told on Saturday will never be exposed by Fox News. 

One conservative commentator quoted in the piece who used to appear on Fox News will be among our first guest tonight, Jennifer Rubin.  She told "The New Yorker" that Fox News has morphed into something that is not even news.  It`s simply a mouthpiece for the president repeating what the president says no matter how false or contradictory. 

Jane Mayer reports that before the 2016 election, a reporter named Diana Falzone had proof that Donald Trump had an affair with Stormy Daniels and that Michael Cohen was negotiating a proposed hush payment but, quote, Falzone`s story didn`t run.  It kept being passed off from one editor to the next.  Falzone at last heard from Ken LaCorte, who was then the head of the  Falzone told colleagues that LaCorte said to her, good reporting, kiddo, but Rupert wants Donald Trump to win, so just let it go. 

Jane Mayer also reports that Trump has told confidence that he has ranked the loyalty of many Fox reporters on a scale of 1 to 10.  Brett Baier, Fox News chief political anchor, is a sixth, Hannity a solid 10.  Steve Doocy, the co-host of "Fox and Friends", is so adoring that Trump gives him a 12.

And Jane Mayer reports -- and who can argue with the rankings, by the way?  Jane Mayer reports that a pair of Fox News insiders and a source close to Donald Trump told her that they believe then Fox News chief Roger Ailes informed Donald Trump`s campaign in advance about a debate question that he got from Megyn Kelly at a Fox News debate in 2015. 


MEGYN KELLY, DEBATE MODERATOR:  You`ve called women you don`t like fat pigs, dogs, slobs, and disgusting animals.  Your Twitter account --

TRUMP:  Only Rosie O`Donnell. 


O`DONNELL:  Joining us now, Frank Rich, writer-at-large for "New York Magazine".  He`s also an executive producer of HBO`s "Veep" and "Succession".  And Jennifer Ruben is with us, opinion writer for "The Washington Post" and an MSNBC contributor. 

And so, Frank, now we have reason to suspect the Rosie O`Donnell line, which was an ugly and vicious line was actually rehearsed by Trump and ready to go because Roger Ailes had given him that question coming up in the debate. 

FRANK RICH, WRITER-AT-LARGE, NEW YORK MAGAZINE:  Well, look, everything that Trump is guilty of, he`s accused someone else of doing so he can accuse Hillary of having all the questions when he had them.  He accused, you know, Barack Obama playing golf all the time when he plays golf all the time and many worse sins than that.  So, it`s par for the course. 

I mean, none of this really surprises me and certainly doesn`t surprise me that Murdoch would kill a piece that might hurt Donald Trump or I would add any Republican candidate including when Ailes was around.  I don`t think Fox News was ever a news channel.  It`s a state propaganda organ now, but when it had the discarded "fair and balanced" slogan, it wasn`t a news organization then.  They had window dressing with a liberal co-host for Hannity and some real reporters, but basically, it`s always been a propaganda operation for Murdoch and the Republican Party. 

O`DONNELL:  Jennifer Rubin, this is an article in "The New Yorker" about Fox News that by the time we get to it and read it, it is telling us things that we know but.  You know, I`ve known what you said in "The New Yorker" but I don`t have the proof of it in the way that you do with your experience having dealt with Fox News and we never had stories like we now have about Fox News spiking and killing the Stormy Daniels story even though the reporter had it at a crucial time to have it. 

I mean, that`s excellent reporting.  Let`s make a note of that.  That someone at Fox News was doing excellent reporting that`s someone higher up at Fox News was saying, no, we`re not going to use.  And so, these specifics of Roger Ailes giving a question or spiking a Stormy Daniels story, that`s all new information that we never had before. 

JENNIFER RUBIN, OPINION WRITER, THE WASHINGTON POST:  Right.  The beauty of the reporting that Jane has done is that it combines the things we do know, that Trump goes on Sean Hannity show gazillion times for softball interviews, and he watches Fox daily for hours on end.  Those are the sort of things that we already knew, and then combines it with specifics to show how you correctly said, how symbiotic that relationship is, and that they not only supply him with his information rather than having an administration expert, his military provide him with information, they do but that he will follow them so slavishly that when they make an error, he will pick up on it. 

So, if they put up a card on air that incorrectly states crime statistics, he will repeat that.  When they come up with a bogus story about white farmers` lands being seized in South Africa and being murdered, he will repeat this.  So, it is a real question who`s leading whom here.  Is it Ailes` old operation that is leading Trump around by the nose or is he leading them around by the nose?

O`DONNELL:  Frank, to this expansion of the judiciary committee investigation of the president, this really now has a kind of shades of Watergate going on.  In Watergate, there was the Watergate committee that was doing this kind of general investigation before there was ever a House Judiciary Committee having an impeachment investigation and considering articles of impeachment.  That was a special committee in Watergate that was assembled just to do that. 

Here it is just the House Judiciary Committee doing the most expansive investigation of the president possible, which happens to be exactly the same place where impeachment begins.  Doesn`t this feel like the beginning of what can -- with basically the flick of a procedural switch in the committee become the impeachment process? 

RICH:  I guess so.  But I just don`t believe there can be impeachment unless the composition of the Senate changes.  As long as you have loyal Republicans in the Senate where the trial would happen, I just feel they`re not going to convict him and I think it`s important -- I think all of that is true, but I think it`s important to remember that in the case of Nixon, we never got to the impeachment trial. 

Eventually, just the weight of the evidence and finally the dissertation of major Republicans, establishment Republicans is what did him in and, you know, he was in until he wasn`t.  After the Watergate hearings, polls show that Americans were sick of Watergate.  They felt they sort of agreed with Nixon that enough already. 

So, I feel the evidence is enormous.  I think whether it actually leads to him being impeached and found guilty I find dubious.  I think - I don`t think he`s going to last but I don`t think he`s going to be out because of an impeachment trial. 

O`DONNELL:  And, Jennifer, might there be the possibility as evidence develops that it is so convertible, it is so powerful that the committee ends up with basically what feels like no choice.  If they don`t take some kind of stance in articles of impeachment, they will have left a record forever that, yes, you absolutely could engage in campaign finance crimes that federal prosecutors in New York call a crime against the United States.  You can do all of that and in the modern presidency, you will suffer no price.  There will be no impeachment process. 

RUBIN:  I tend to agree with Frank that this is so voluminous that there are so many avenues for exposing corruption, abuse of power, obstruction of justice.  This is going to go on for a year or more.  The Watergate hearings, as you correctly point out, which preceded impeachment, went on for about 14 months, which is just about the time between now and the election. 

So, even  if they wanted to, I think this is going to go on for a very long time and the purpose of this is to investigate and educate the American people.  I don`t think there`s any amount of evidence out there that will convince enough Republicans to remove him and as such, I don`t think the Democrats are going to bother frankly to impeach him because it will be seen as a vindication for him. 

I do think the game plan here is to expose all the things Republicans have been covering up and let the American people in the electoral process decide.  And maybe there will be a smoking gun.  Maybe Republicans will decide they`ve had enough. 

O`DONNELL:  Frank Rich, Jennifer, thank you both for starting us off tonight.  I really appreciate it. 

And when we come back, we have breaking news from "The Wall Street Journal" as Rachel mentioned about pardon discussions between Michael Cohen`s lawyers and President Trump`s lawyers.  We have one of the reporters who just broke that story who will join us.  And Congressman Eric Swalwell is a member of the House Judiciary Committee which has requested documents from 81 individuals, companies and government entities tied to the widening investigation of President Trump.  We will ask him if this is really the committee`s beginning of an impeachment investigation.

And later, Mitch McConnell has given up on trying to save President Trump`s emergency declaration, in the Senate.  Mitch McConnell admitted today that the Democrats have enough votes in the Senate to win the vote on the resolution to eliminate the president`s declaration of emergency.

And at the end of this hour tonight, a special comment on why the president says things in front of cameras that even I cannot say here on television. 


O`DONNELL:  Breaking news at this hour, "The Wall Street Journal" is reporting that one of Michael Cohen`s attorneys, quote, raised the possibility of a pardon with attorneys for the president after federal agents raided Mr. Cohen`s properties in April, according to people familiar with the discussions.  The president`s lawyers, including Jay Sekulow, Rudy Giuliani and Joanna Hendon, dismissed the idea of a pardon at the time, these people said.  But at least one of them, Mr. Giuliani, left open the possibility that the president could grant Mr. Cohen one in the future they said.

We are joined now by phone by one of the reporters who broke this story.  Michael Rothfeld, an investigative reporter for "The Wall Street Journal". 

Michael, what is your finding in terms of when the last contact might have been about pardons? 

MICHAEL ROTHFELD, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL (via telephone):  Well, this would have been, so the raid was in April and sort of been in the couple of months after that because things started to erode with Michael Cohen and the president probably about May-ish and then I think in July is when he went on George Stephanopoulos and said I`m going to protect my family and I`m -- they are the ones I`m loyal to.  So, by that time, the discussions were obviously over.  And -- go ahead. 

O`DONNELL:  But, Michael, why wouldn`t Michael Cohen`s view of protecting his family include getting a pardon from the president? 

ROTHFELD:  Well, I mean, what we`re reporting is that he was largely rebuffed or at least there wasn`t immediate commitment made in the conversations between his lawyer Stephen Ryan and the president`s lawyers that, you know, as you noted, the most possibility was held up by Rudy Giuliani who said we`re not going to have any discussions right now about a pardon, but maybe down the road if the president wants to do it, but that would have been way after Cohen had to go to trial and make decisions about whether he wanted to plead guilty.  So, that just wasn`t what he was looking for. 

O`DONNELL:  Do you -- does your reporting find any sense of whether Michael Cohen gave up hopes for a pardon based on his own knowledge of Donald Trump and his interpretation of what he was hearing through his lawyers or whether Michael Cohen`s lawyers in effect advised him to not basically play for the pardon? 

ROTHFELD:  I don`t know what the conversations between him and his lawyers were, but essentially he did -- that lawyer Steven Ryan after they reviewed all the documents seized, Cohen got a new lawyer, criminal lawyer to handle that case presumably, Ryan would have conveyed to him that, you know, the president`s lawyers were not offering any kind of a pardon and so, Cohen felt like he had to -- he felt like he was loyal to the president for a really long time and wanted something in return and -- but it wasn`t forthcoming and that`s kind of when he turn against the president. 

O`DONNELL:  Were there -- in your judgment knowing what you know about the case at this stage, were there any magic words the president could have conveyed through Rudy Giuliani, to Michael Cohen that would have held on to Michael Cohen`s loyalty to the president? 

ROTHFELD:  That`s hard to say.  I mean, whether some kind of, you know, ambiguous potential promise could have been held out.  But, you know, the issue is really obstruction of justice and that`s something that, you know, Congress is looking at and Michael Cohen testified at the House Oversight Committee last week.

And now, the House is requesting information about pardons, potential pardon discussions from various other people associated with Cohen and Mr. Trump.  So they are looking into that and not just with respect to Cohen but Paul Manafort in terms of whether, you know, anyone dangled pardons which could potentially be obstruction of justice. 

O`DONNELL:  Michael, you just teed it up perfectly for our next guest, a member of Congress.  Michael Rothfeld with "The Wall Street Journal" with tonight`s breaking news, thank you very much for joining us on this important story.  Really appreciate it, Michael.  Thank you. 

And we are joined now by Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell of California.  He`s a member of the Judiciary Committee and Intelligence Committee in the House. 

Congressman Swalwell, your reaction to this "Wall Street journal" breaking news report this hour, lawyer for Cohen approached Trump attorneys about pardon. 

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE:  Good evening, Lawrence.  What I think is most striking is that they didn`t shut it down if the story is true.  We`re going to get to the bottom of this.  We have Mr. Cohen coming back on Wednesday. 

But, two, why can`t Donald Trump just come out and say I`m not going to pardon Paul Manafort.  I`m not going to pardon Michael Flynn.  I`m not going to pardon Michael Cohen? 

He won`t do that because he is trying to do anything he can and he`s not above doing anything to keep them loyal to him.  Michael Cohen is testifying anyway.  He has no life jacket.  He`s got no cooperation agreement with the Southern District of New York or the Mueller team, and he certainly is not getting a pardon for Donald Trump. 

I think that actually makes his testimony even more credible and if you believe what he`s saying, it`s very damming for the president and it gives us the responsibility to put back in place the rule of law in our country, which is a wrecking ball taken to it in the last two years. 

O`DONNELL:  Do you expect this "Wall Street journal" report will lead to a new series of questions for Michael Cohen the next time you speak to him?  It`s going to be at the intelligence committee and it`s going to be behind closed doors. 

SWALWELL:  The issue of whether the president is offering pardons or whether there are discussions is something that we should definitely run to ground and explore not just with Michael Cohen because I think there are other witnesses who are similarly situated who the president is probably done this with and, of course, showing that he has no loyalty to the pardon process when he gave Sheriff Joe Arpaio without going through any background check or Department of Justice policies. 

So, yes, that`s something we need to explore and make sure the American people know whether the president is corrupted and using this process in an inappropriate way. 

O`DONNELL:  Congressman, you`re one of the key players on two of the most important committees investigating the president now, also the Judiciary Committee where Chairman Nadler has sent out 81 requests for documents from individuals. 

SWALWELL:  That`s it? 

O`DONNELL:  Companies.  Yes, only 81.  Government entities, individuals, companies.  This really looks like the groundwork for what could be an impeachment investigation in the impeachment process which will be held in exactly the same committee. 

SWALWELL:  Yes, well, 81 I`m sure sounds like a lot if it`s compared to zero.  And zero is what we had over the last two years.  And zero was what the American people was fed up with because there was zero accountability on all of these abuses of power. 

So, yes, we`re looking at obstruction of justice.  We`re looking at abuse of power by the president and we`re looking at public corruption.  And we have reason to look because of the way the president is cashing in on access to the Oval Office, the way he`s allowing foreign entities to stay in his hotel across the street from the White House, and the way he attacks the free press and attacks the rule of law.  And as long as we can demonstrate to the American people that we`re interested in making sure the rule of law stands because if you don`t have it, you lose a free press, you lose free ideas, free markets, and the freedom to dream. 

So, I think as long as we can a articulate that to the American people, and we show them we have a reason to look, they`re going to be with us and we`re going to keep looking. 

O`DONNELL:  Presumably, these document requests could obviously lead to more document requests and more requests for witness testimony. 

SWALWELL:  Yes, and certainly, you know, this is just the beginning but these are individuals who in what little we learn from the intelligence committee investigation, what little we learned in the minority in the last two years, what we learned a lot from free press reporting show that there may be corruption at the White House, that the president, you know, his businesses, his inauguration, his campaign may not have operated above board as we expect. 

So, we have very good reasons to look and again, we`re going to do this not with Donald Trump justice but with the rule of law guiding us every step along the way. 

O`DONNELL:  Congressman, we heard a new defense from the president this weekend to the charge that he openly asked for Russia`s help during the campaign asking Russia to find Hillary Clinton`s e-mails and make them public.  We just showed the video of Katy Tur at the time in the campaign trail asking the president about that and he stood by it and he`s very serious.  His new defense is that that was all a joke. 

What do you make of that defense? 

SWALWELL:  There are a lot of people who can make jokes but Donald Trump is not one of them.  This is a guy who literally tweets on Sunday morning at "Saturday Night Live" and calls them fake news. 

Second, if it was a joke, Russia wasn`t joking because they followed his instructions and kept hacking.  And third, I would ask the president, were you joking when you told Lester Holt that you fired James Comey to get rid of the Russia investigation?  Were you joking when you said I love WikiLeaks as they continue to release hacked and stolen e-mails?

And were you joking when you sided with Vladimir Putin over the U.S. intelligence community?  Donald Trump may be a joke but he was not joking when he did all of those.

O`DONNELL:  Congressman Eric Swalwell, thank you very much for joining us tonight.  Really appreciate it.

SWALWELL:  My pleasure.

O`DONNELL:  And Coming up, Mitch McConnell has given up on trying to save President Trump`s emergency declaration in the Senate.  He knows the Democrats have enough votes to defeat it.

And the president said things in public this weekend that we can`t say on television.  You will hear him say it.  He will not be bleeped.  There`s a very important point to make about what the president was doing on Saturday in trying to lower the public standards for the presidency.


O`DONNELL:  President Trump is going to lose.  There are now enough votes in the United States Senate to end President Trump`s declaration of emergency to build a border wall.  The resolution has already passed the House of Representatives and is awaiting a vote in the Senate.

Today, Senator Rand Paul announced in an op-ed that he would vote with the Democrats against the president`s unconstitutional use of an emergency declaration, to build a wall.  Rand Paul brings the declared votes against the president in the Senate to 51.  But there could be many more Republican votes against the president by the time the Senate votes.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY:  I do believe that there is at least 10 Republican no votes.  We`ll see possibly more.  My reason for speaking out now is that I think we all need to think this through before we get too far down the road.


O`DONNELL:  Here is what Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said about the resolution today.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KENTUCKY, SENATE MAJORITY LEADER:  I think what is clear in the Senate is there will be enough votes to pass the resolution of disapproval which will then be vetoed by the president.  And then in all likelihood, the veto will be upheld in the House.


O`DONNELL:  We are lucky to be joined now by a real expert on the workings of the United States Senate.  Ira Shapiro is a former Senate staffer who worked as the counsel to the former Senate Majority Leader Robert Bird and is the author of multiple books on the Senate, including his latest, "The Last Great Senate, Courage and Statesmanship in Times of Crisis."

And Sam Stein has been covering the Senate and Washington for many years and has yet to write a book about the United States Senate.  He`s the politics editor of "The Daily Beast" and an MSNBC political analyst.

Ira Shapiro, we have never really seen an emergency declaration used this way by a president.  Therefore, we`re all going to see a vote in the Senate that we haven`t seen before.  Unless you can find one somewhere in your history of the Senate that compares to this.  But here we have Mitch McConnell publicly acknowledging the president is going to lose this vote.

IRA SHAPIRO, AUTHOR, THE LAST GREAT SENATE:  Yes, we do, Lawrence.  But I do think it is important that a number of Republican senators and not just a small number could potentially vote against the president on this.

I mean it`s wonderful when Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski and Rand Paul step forward but I`m looking at the many other senators who have expressed their view that the president is misusing the emergency power.  Well, they should put their vote to work and not just express concerns.

O`DONNELL:  And Sam Stein, it seems as though that many of these Republicans were maybe hoping that a federal court would step in and issue some kind of injunction quickly that could make their vote a little bit more academic on this.  But it looks like they`re going to have to face a real decision on this.

SAM STEIN, POLITICS EDITOR, THE DAILY BEAST:  Yes.  And I think for a certain number of them, they actually would welcome this decision.  The final outcome, at least politically speaking, is fairly well-known.  There`s not going to be two-thirds in each chamber to override a presidential veto.  So this will go forward and ultimately be decided in the courts.

And so for a few senators who are in tough spots in the 2020 cycle, this is a way to both show your independence from President Trump, come out as not incredibly Conservative on immigration policy and also strike a tone of a sort of a strict constitutionalist conservative.

So for Corey Gardener type, for instance, who`s up for a very tough reelection fight in Colorado with a fairly decent Hispanic voting block, this might actually be a welcome sign that you get to register a disapproval with this emergency declaration.

O`DONNELL:  Let`s listen to what the president said about this at CPAC on Saturday.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I watch good people, friends of mine were very concerned with setting precedent.  That`s precedent, not president.  The Democrats, they`re going to do whatever they do if they get into power and won`t have a damn thing to do with whether or not we approve our national emergency.


O`DONNELL:  And Ira, of course, there is no record of the Democrats doing anything like this in the United States Senate.  And I for one am not convinced that the Senate won`t turn out actually a veto-proof majority.  The Republican vote on this could surprise people.

SHAPIRO:  Well, I`m hoping that, Lawrence.  I mean frankly, my fear for a long time has been the diminished Senate weakening over a long period and particularly in the last decade would not be strong enough to stand up to a potentially overreaching and now dangerous president.

This is a pretty good test case right now because the constitutional issues are clear.  But frankly, this is a day at the beach compared to what might be coming later in the year when the Senate has to really consider the full nature of the president`s conduct.

O`DONNELL:  And Sam, that`s a good point that here we are on something that is a very clear constitutional issue.  And if we ever got to the point where something was being reported from the House in terms of articles of impeachment, that is another level of the game that these senators are not even, I don`t think they are even beginning to contemplate that.

STEIN:  No.  And I would argue that, in fact, by the smaller acquiescence that the Senate has given Donald Trump, they have actually made it a lot harder to stick up to him on the bigger stuff should impeachment for instance come in the pipe.

But you see it all the time, so-called institutionalist like Mitch McConnell, have seeded their power to the presidency in the form of the appropriations passes, even judicial nominations process.  I remember we had a government shutdown for 35 days simply because Mitch McConnell wouldn`t bring a bill that his own members had unanimously agreed to the floor.

Again, these are acts that diminish the institutional clout of the Senate and of Congress as a whole.  So it`s very difficult to see them standing up to Trump on huge matters that involve the future of his own presidency when they can`t even stand up to him on matters of keeping the government open for a bill that they themselves support.

O`DONNELL:  And Ira, I for one am very surprised.  I`ve been surprised now for two years at Mitch McConnell`s conduct because during the presidential campaign, I mean I didn`t think Donald Trump was going to win but I would sometimes say if he ever did become president, he would discover that Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell have very strong powers over him.

But Mitch McConnell has refused to ever use those powers and we`re seeing not just an institutional collapse but up close, we`re seeing an actual personal collapse of dignity for Mitch McConnell and a collapse of the male ego in which, you know, you know, you and I always saw chairman and majority leaders and congressional leaders wanting and somewhat egotistical way to show their powers over a president.

SHAPIRO:  Well, Lawrence, I don`t fully agree with that in the sense that while people say that Mitch McConnell is enabling Donald Trump, I think Mitch McConnell has also used Donald Trump when it suited his purposes.

Donald Trump didn`t run on repealing the Affordable Care Act.  That was something Mitch McConnell wanted to do.  So it has gone both ways.  And I think that McConnell has been enabling Trump but he`s also been using him when it`s been appropriate.

He clearly doesn`t like the current situation.  McConnell doesn`t believe in government shutdowns and he doesn`t believe in this national emergency but he still will not stand up and cast a vote against it.

O`DONNELL:  Ira Shapiro who has much more Senate history in his head than I ever will and Sam Stein, thank you both or joining us tonight.  Really appreciate it.

SHAPIRO:  Thanks, Lawrence.

STEIN:  Thank you.

O`DONNELL:  And when we come back, the dangerous case of Donald Trump was on public display at the Conservative Political Action Conference and he very deliberately took his language to a new outrageous level.


O`DONNELL:  The dangerous case of Donald Trump was once again on public display this weekend at the Conservative Political Action Conference.  The dangerous case of Donald Trump is a bestselling book in which 37 psychiatrists and mental health experts assessed the president of the United States.

Those 37 mental health professionals began taking notes on Saturday before Donald Trump opened his mouth at CPAC.



O`DONNELL:  What was that hug about?  This book explains it.  This book catalogs Trump`s serious mental impairments that are untreated and most likely impervious to treatment.  This book explains what Donald Trump was doing on the stage on Saturday, better than any of the news reports of what he said.

"The Washington Post" recorded 104 lies that the president told on the stage at CPAC and that is an invaluable accounting of the dishonesty of the speech but this book explains why Donald Trump can lie to his followers so easily.  The book includes four characteristics of the followers of leaders who have lied their way to adoration by those followers.

One, the leader is perceived by the followers as somehow superhuman.  Two, the followers blindly believe the leader`s statements.  Three, the followers unconditionally comply with the leader`s directives for action.  Four, the followers give the leader unqualified emotional support.

Jerrold Post is now a professor of psychiatry after serving 21 years in the CIA.  He wrote the CIA`s personal profile of Saddam Hussein.  In this book, he writes, Trump has a mirror hungry leader personality which feeds on the adoration of his followers.


TRUMP:  There is so much love in this room.  It`s easy to talk.  You can call your heart out.  There is love in this room.  You can talk your heart out.  It`s easy.


O`DONNELL:  According to the psychiatrist who have been studying Donald Trump and according to all the public evidence we`ve seen, the place Donald Trump goes for love is the CPAC stage and the Trump rally stages where he stands out there alone surrounded by thousands of strangers who he believes loves him and do indeed appear to love him.  And Donald Trump has never even suggested that he looks for love anywhere else.  Listen to his description of his New Year`s Eve.


TRUMP:  So I stayed in the White House.  And I`ll tell you what, I was there, I told my wife, go to Florida, enjoy your Christmas.  I stayed for Thanksgiving.  I said -- I mean I was in the White House for a long time, months, months.  I had cabin fever in the White House.

But if you got to have cabin fever, that`s the place to do it.  But I was there, I don`t know, for a number of months through Christmas.  I spent my New Year`s all by myself.  Don`t cry.


O`DONNELL:  In the two-hour speech, Donald Trump talked about his wife and he talked about love but never in the same sentence.  And at no point in his presidency or before his presidency have we ever seen Donald Trump hug his wife the way he hugged the American flag on that stage on Saturday.

And he hugged that flag not because he loves the flag but because he loves his audience`s reaction to him pretending to love the flag.  Donald Trump has changed his supporters at CPAC.

He has literally changed what they think and how they think and he has done that by systematically wearing down their resistance to what he thinks and what he says.  And most importantly, he has eliminated their resistance to what they used to think was un-presidential.

After this break, we`re going to show you Donald Trump`s most un- presidential language at CPAC.  It will be unedited.  You will hear him say the word that I`m not allowed to say on T.V.  It`s a word that Donald Trump`s followers didn`t think presidents should use publicly until the madness of Donald Trump changed the way they think.



TRUMP:  Then in 1913, they ended tariffs, OK?  They ended tariffs.  Somebody got stupid and they ended tariffs.


O`DONNELL:  No, somebody got stupid on Saturday and said they ended tariffs in 1913.  The United States of America did not end tariffs in 1913 and continue to have tariffs on various products throughout the 20th and 21st Century.  That was Donald Trump insulting the intelligence of his CPAC audience and they loved it.

Donald Trump has mounted an all-out assault on the intelligence of his audience at CPAC for years now.  And Donald Trump has won.  Stupidity reigns at CPAC now and has every day of the Trump era.

The very first keynote speaker at the very first Conservative Political Action Conference in 1974 was Ronald Reagan and they loved him and they loved the Reagan presidency.  Ronald Reagan was a typical anti-tariff Republican of his era and he began the groundwork for what became the North American Free-Trade Agreement, work that was continued by Republican President George H.W. Bush, and then completed by Democratic President Bill Clinton.

CPAC used to be opposed to tariffs.  CPAC used to understand that only Americans pay American tariffs.  The Trump tariffs are not paid in foreign countries by foreign countries.  The Trump tariffs are paid in America by American consumers.

The Trump tariffs are taxes, something that CPAC has always opposed.  Donald Trump`s tariffs are increases, in effect, in sales taxes on products sold in America.  CPAC used to oppose that vehemently.


TRUMP:  And everyone said, oh, it`s a tax on our -- it`s not really.


O`DONNELL:  Yes, Donald Trump wouldn`t dare finish that sentence, "You know everyone said, oh, it`s a tax on our", and then he stopped.  Our what?  Our people, our consumers.  That`s who`s paying the Trump tax in the form of Trump`s tariffs.

President Trump is so confident in the stupidity of his CPAC audience that he said this.


TRUMP:  You know I`m building the wall.  We`re finishing the wall.  We`ve got a lot of money.


O`DONNELL:  Everyone who can read facts knows that Donald Trump is not building the wall.  There will never be a Trump wall but Donald Trump can still reduce a CPAC audience to mindless chanters about building a wall that will never be built because he has worn them down.  He has brainwashed an audience of followers eager to be brainwashed.

Since World War II, psychiatrists and social psychiatrists have been intently studying the relationship of leaders like Donald Trump and their followers.  In the dangerous case of Donald Trump, the book that I mentioned, former CIA psychiatrist Jerrold Post writes, "The relationship between Trump and his hardline followers represents a charismatic leader- follower relationship whereby aspects of the leader`s psychology unlock, like a key, aspects like his follower`s psychology.

And having unlocked them like a key, Donald Trump is now putting in their minds the words he wants them to say when Michael Cohen publicly testifies about Donald Trump committing crimes, or when the Mueller report comes out, or when the Democratic House Committees continue to pileup incriminating evidence against the President.

There is one word that Donald Trump needs everyone at CPAC and all of his followers throughout the country to say all at the same time and he said it to them on Saturday.  He said that after the Republicans lost the House of Representatives in the last election, the new Democratic Chairman in the House who have been there a long time are all of a sudden trying to take him out.

And here are the exact words that the president used in saying that.


TRUMP:  Now, we have people that lost and unfortunately, you put the wrong people in a couple of positions, and they leave people for a long time that shouldn`t be there.  And all of a sudden, they`re trying to take you out with bullshit, OK.


O`DONNELL:  That`s the word Donald Trump wants millions of people to scream the day the Mueller report comes out or the day the House Judiciary Committee votes on articles of impeachment.  And yes, that audience -- in that audience are some of the people who were outraged that President Obama wore a light-colored summer suit in the summer because it was for them a grotesque departure from what they believed was a presidential norm.  Now, they did seem to forget that Ronald Reagan wore the same kind of suit in the summer.

Trump followers used to be a very harsh border patrol protecting what they believed was presidential decorum before Donald Trump came along.  They were eagerly ready to attack a Democratic president for using un- presidential language or wearing the wrong colored suit.

And now?  They are ready to learn a new chant.  A new one-word chant that Donald Trump began teaching them at CPAC.  Donald Trump is getting them ready to go with that one word that I can`t say on T.V. because it is beneath the dignity of an anchorman, an occupation played in the movies by Will Farrell.

Donald Trump has found a spot below that in his public speech and his followers are doing what they have done every time Donald Trump has said and done something previously offensive to them if someone else had said it.  They have followed Donald Trump to that new low.

Those followers of Donald Trump are lost, believing things they didn`t use to believe.  Approving of things they didn`t use to approve of.  Unless the impeachment process catches up with Donald Trump, Trump followers will remain lost in Trumpism, until a majority of Americans who have always opposed Donald Trump and Trumpism turn out in full strength in the next election and do an intervention for Trump followers that remove Donald Trump from office and breaks their addiction to Trumpism.

That is tonight`s LAST WORD.