LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
And so, Michael Cohen apparently is going to get another 90 days before sentencing.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Maybe. The judge gets to decide if he gets another 90 days, and that judge has been a little unpredictable when it comes to Mike Flynn`s sentencing.
O`DONNELL: But with both sides of the special prosecutors saying it`s OK with them, that would be the likelihood. It`s fascinating that the special prosecutor in these filings says their work with him is otherwise complete. What do you make of that?
MADDOW: Well, we don`t exactly know what Flynn cooperated on. In the initial lead-up to his sentencing hearing that went so awry in December, we got a fairly detailed statement from prosecutors about the way he had been helpful when those prosecutors were asking for the judge to go easy on him. But so much of it was redacted, so much of it was hard to piece together that we can`t, I think, substantively in normal words describe what it is that he`s done.
He apparently hasn`t done much more with prosecutors since then. It was the judge who said he wanted Flynn try to do more. It will be interesting to see the way the judge reacts to this since the judge has been so independent and sort of -- I don`t want to say contrary. He`s at least been his own man on this very much so, but then it looks like if the judge goes along with it, we still won`t know more about Flynn`s fate until mid- June.
O`DONNELL: And we have a couple guests who are studying these right now, so we won`t know much until we get to that in our next segment.
Thank you for starting us off, Rachel. Really appreciate it. Thank you.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Well, the investigation of Donald Trump took an unpardonable turn today, meaning no pardon by any president can defeat the progress of what happened in the investigation today because it happened in the state of New York where the New York attorney general is now seeking the financial records of two banks that have done business with Donald Trump and his family. Presidential pardons apply only in federal cases, not in state cases. We`ll hear more about that later in this hour.
And at the end of this hour tonight, we will consider the future of Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell and why that future looks very bleak tonight. Everyone knows that the presidential campaign is already underway, but so are senators` reelection campaigns. Those Senate re- election campaigns are operating on a much quieter track.
So, we don`t know exactly what Mitch McConnell might be doing or planning for his re-election next year, but it is more likely than it has ever been in Mitch McConnell`s career that he just might not run for re-election this time. His polling in Kentucky could not be worse, and Paul Ryan`s retirement must be looking pretty comfortable to Mitch McConnell right now. We will show you all the reasons why Mitch McConnell might not run for re- election at the end of this hour and how he could actually be defeated in Kentucky if he does run for re-election.
One of the reasons Mitch McConnell might not run for re-election is what is happening in the house of representatives right now under Democratic control. If the Democrats took control two years from now, Mitch McConnell would be watching from the sidelines in the Democratic controlled Senate even if he did manage to run for re-election.
And what has happened in the House of Representatives is that the freshman members on the Democratic side of the House have changed everything. One of the new stars of the freshman class and the House of Representatives will join us in a moment. She has already mastered the very difficult art of having a real impact in those five minutes of question time that she`s allowed in House hearings.
Veteran Democratic Congresswoman Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, as a member of Nancy Pelosi`s leadership team, Congresswoman Clark is the vice chair of the House Democratic Conference, and this is what she says about her new freshman members.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KATHERINE CLARK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I do think the freshmen have changed everything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Those freshmen got a chance to change everything because voters sent them to Congress to change everything, and everything they have changed has been bad for Donald Trump and the Trump administration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLARK: Those freshmen have delivered us the majority. We are now able to have the investigations that Republicans refuse to look at, refuse to take up, and to do our job as laid out in Article I. So, yes, I think they have changed everything and have given us the tools we need to be able to hold this administration accountable.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: We are seeing dramatic moments in hearings now routinely that we used to see once or twice in a decade in the past the way the Congress worked. Members of Congress coming to the hearings now prepared and ready to hold witnesses accountable and to do it in as pointed and dramatic a way as you can and an otherwise confining setting of a hearing room.
Today, the action was in the pointed and dramatic a way as you can and an otherwise confining setting of a hearing room. Today, the action was in the House Financial Committee. The witness facing the tough freshman questioning was Timothy Sloan, the CEO of Wells Fargo. Wells Fargo has paid more than $4 billion in fines and settlements since it was caught for opening accounts, millions of accounts without customers` knowledge and other stunning customer abuses.
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, came to all the hearings today, as she has to all of her hearings so far, ready to challenge a witness in a way that Republicans never would. She focused on Wells Fargo`s financing for the Dakota Access Pipeline that the Obama administration suspended construction of after the Standing Sioux Tribe challenged that project in court.
The Trump administration, immediately after taking office, allowed the project to go forward with financing from Wells Fargo.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK: Hypothetically, if there was a leak from the Dakota Access Pipeline, why shouldn`t Wells Fargo pay for the cleanup of it since it paid for the construction of the pipeline itself?
TIMOTHY SLOAN, WELLS FARGO CEO: Because we don`t operate the pipeline. We provide financing to the company that`s operating the pipeline. Our responsibility is to ensure that at the time that we make that loan, that that customer -- and we have a group of people in Wells Fargo, including an environmental oversight group headed by one of my colleagues who used to be at the EPA --
OCASIO-CORTEZ: So, one question, why didn`t Wells Fargo finance this pipeline when it was widely seen to be environmentally unstable?
SLOAN: Again, the reason why we were one of the 17 or 19 banks that financed that, is because our team reviewed the environmental impact and we concluded that it was a risk we were willing to take.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: So the environmental impact team at Wells Fargo said, go ahead, take the risk.
Freshman Congresswoman Katie Porter pursued another line of tough questioning in that same hearing today, same kind of questioning you`ve seen repeatedly. You have seen on this program, in video, that we have shown you of her devastatingly effective questioning, including her questioning of a Trump official. We showed you on this program last night, Katie Porter is the first Democrat in history to be elected to represent California`s 45th congressional district in Orange County, a county that normally votes Republican. Two of Democratic presidential candidates have had a hand in the development of Katie Porter`s skills.
When Senator Kamala Harris was California`s attorney general, she appointed Katie Porter to be the state`s independent monitor in banks with a $25 billion mortgage settlement that brought reforms to a mortgage business in California. And Senator Elizabeth Warren was a professor of Katie Porter`s when Katie Porter was a student at Harvard Law School. Katie Porter graduated from Harvard Law School magna cum laude and eventually became a country a tenured law school professor herself.
Like Elizabeth Warren, it was from her position as a law school professor that she decided to run for office. If you were washing last night, you saw Katie Porter`s crushing line of questioning to the Trump administration`s director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau who could not calculate the annual percentage rate of a predatory payday loan, the kind of loan that offers financially vulnerable people a small infusion of cash at astronomical interest rates.
Today, Katie Porter did it again in the hearing room, this time with the CEO of Wells Fargo, Timothy Sloan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KATIE PORTER (D), CALIFORNIA: In 2016, you said, quote, I`m fully committed to taking the necessary steps to restore our customers` requests. You also said in a call in January 2017, quote: We`ve already made progress in restoring the company`s thrust, and we`ve remained committed to being transparent with investors. In your 2017 proxy statement to investors, you said, quote, restoring the trust and the trust of all key stakeholders is our top priority.
Those statements to me are pretty vague. They sound like they might be obscure, empty promises. Do those statements really mean something to you, Mr. Sloan?
SLOAN: They do.
PORTER: So it`s safe that is that the statements you made mean something to you and that customers and investors can rely on those statements?
SLOAN: That`s correct.
PORTER: OK. Then why, Mr. Sloan, if you don`t mind me asking, Mr. Sloan, are your lawyers in federal court arguing that those exact statements that I read are, quote, paradigmatic examples of non-actionable corporate puffery on which no reasonable investor could rely.
SLOAN: I don`t know why our lawyers are arguing yet. You asked me a direct question in terms of do I believe the statements --
PORTER: I understand it`s convenient.
SLOAN: -- and the answer is absolutely correct.
PORTER: Are you lying to a federal judge, or are you lying to me and this Congress right now as to whether we can rely on those statements?
PORTER: It`s convenient for your lawyers to deflect blame in court and say that your rebranding campaign can be ignored, is hyperbolic marketing. But then when you come to Congress, you want us to take you at your word, and I think that`s the disconnect. That`s why the American public is having trouble trusting Wells Fargo.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Democratic Congresswoman Katie Porter of California.
Congresswoman, thank you very much for joining us tonight. This is the first time we are meeting in the same room, in the studio here in Washington. I`m very glad we`re able to do that.
I have to say -- I know that when the most freshmen in the House are told, that when they get their big moment in the hearing room, after waiting sometimes for 25 members to do the questioning before they get down to the freshmen, you`ll get five minutes, you`ll get five minutes. And most members, frankly, give up on the concept.
They don`t do much homework, they just make a little bit of a speech in five minutes where they think they`re saying something that they are hoping their constituents want to hear, but they don`t really both to do the work of it because they don`t see what you can accomplish in five minutes.
Did you know from the outset that five minutes was going to be enough time for you to be able to pull off cross examinations like this?
PORTER: I think I did. And from being a professor in a classroom, I only have a minute or two to ask any student a question and I`m merely trying to prove, does that student know the answer? Are they prepared for class? Have they mastered this concept?
So, I think being in a classroom setting and asking students pointed questions, I mean, sometimes, student doesn`t know what they`re talking about, was actually real good preparation for coming to Congress.
O`DONNELL: Yes. You know, I have seen more hearings that I can remember and so, I`ve been marveling at you and the other freshman with what you`re going to accomplish. And in taking this process so seriously and so many times in those hearing rooms, they`re not very crowded. There are not a lot of you showing up -- it`s true that these hearings happen at competitive times. Sometimes you will have two hearings scheduled at the same time. You have to pick one.
But there`s a lot of other draws on freshman and other members time, including fundraising and spending a tremendous amount of our days out there fundraising. It seems like this freshman class is not devoted to fundraising, using their time for fundraising the way their predecessors have.
PORTER: I mean, I think we were sent here by the American people because there`s real concerns about what`s happening in Washington. And so, how can we address those concerns is by doing our constitutional duty to engage in oversight, and hearings are one of the tools that we have to do that.
Fundraising doesn`t help improve our government, asking questions does, listening to witnesses. I feel very fortunate that I come into every hearing with a big binder and read for two or three hours each night, the night before. And I`ve been really gratified that some of my freshmen had said to me, oh, you`re up next, I`m not leaving. I want to see what you got, you know, in store for me today.
O`DONNELL: Right. I have to say, you strike much more as a staff member than a member of Congress and within the staff world of Congress, that`s the highest compliment you can give because what everyone knows is in general, the staff knows a lot more than the officeholder, and in general, any staff member who covers a certain area is way better informed than the staff member of Senate or House member.
But you come to this with your own body of knowledge. You pulled out your own textbook in the video that we showed here last night and quoted your own textbook to the Trump administration official who didn`t understand how to calculate interest rates.
PORTER: Yes. No, I think that`s why I came. I mean, I came to Congress to use that knowledge and I think we`re seeing that with a lot of freshmen. Most of us have never been elected before. We don`t know that our job is to sit quietly and give speeches in these hearings. We think it`s a hearing and we think these are witnesses and we think our job is to ask questions.
And so I think we`re bringing the knowledge that we have, whether it`s a work -- job in finance or whether it`s work as a professor or work as a teacher or nurse or whatever it is, we`re bringing that knowledge into the hearing room. And I think it helps regular Americans who are watching these hearings engaged with what`s going on.
O`DONNELL: You know I can`t off the top of my head to think of a committee in the house that doesn`t have some intersection with the investigation of Trump business or Trump interests. The New York state attorney general has announced that she is going to investigate the Trump businesses relationship to Deutsche Bank. Your committee has announced that you are interested -- Financial Services Committee is interested in that same target.
Where are -- where is your committee at this point on the examination of Deutsche Bank in relation to Donald Trump?
PORTER: Yes, Chairwoman Maxine Waters who leads our committee has set out a really thoughtful agenda and she`s made clear that looking into Trump`s relations -- the president`s relationship with Deutsche Bank will be part of the committee`s agenda. So I expect a lot of fireworks at that hearing and I`m definitely going to come ready with questions when it happens, and I think we`ll see the freshmen in general come ready with questions and trying to really understand what is happening here and engage the American people in understanding what`s at stake in the president`s dealings. And his financial dealings are a really important part of the concerns that we have with this presidency.
O`DONNELL: From your perspective as a law professor, I want to get your reaction to it. Nancy Pelosi has said -- she gave an interview that was actually given to "The Washington Post" last week at emerge yesterday where she was saying that she`s not for impeachment. She`s saying she wants to see a level of proof about the president and not only that, a bipartisan interest in pursuing impeachment. She wants to see Republicans willing to pursue impeachment before she`d be willing to pursue impeachment. Your reaction to that?
PORTER: I mean I think we have to see where the evidence is. So, I think announcing that we are or not doing something before we have the evidence is really not being fully responsive to the American people. I have great confidence in the speaker to guide us forward in the right way.
I think we cannot be undertaking impeachment for political purposes. I think we have to be undertaking it because it`s our constitutional duty, but I can assess that constitutional duty until I see all the evidence.
O`DONNELL: If you should not undertake impeachment for political reasons should you decide not to impeach for political reasons?
PORTER: No, I think if the evidence is grave enough, we have a duty to take action.
O`DONNELL: No matter what the political dynamics look?
O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Katie Porter, we`re going to be continuing to watch you I`m sure, who`s in your video, you`re really helping us produce this show by delivering not just video that is so watchable but you are teaching lessons to people out there about how this government is supposed to work and why they voted.
So I have to tell you the response we get online from your appearances is really inspirational, we`re really appreciative.
PORTER: Thank you so much.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Congressman. Really appreciate it.
When we come back, Michael Flynn`s breaking news tonight, the news that his lawyers have asked to delay his sentencing for 90 days. Special prosecutor says 90 days is OK with them. We are just getting that breaking news in the last hour.
And also, Michael Cohen`s testimony to Congress about President Trump`s questionable business practices apparently led the New York state attorney general to subpoena bank records connected to Donald Trump and his business dealings.
And who is most unpopular Republican senator? The Republican senator with the lowest approval rating in his state, a pathetic, un-reelectable, 33 percent approval rating. Will he be one of the Republican senators who announces that he`s had enough and is not running for re-election? Guess who that senator is. You`ll find out at the end of this hour if you haven`t guessed already.
And if you live in Kentucky, you probably have guessed already because you know how unpopular he is there and why his life in the Senate has been made impossible by Donald Trump.
O`DONNELL: We have a new sentencing memo right here in the Michael Flynn case, and we have the experts here to decode it for us. It was filed tonight.
Lawyers for President Trump`s first national security adviser Michael Flynn say that he wants to delay his sentencing for 90 days because, quote, there may be additional cooperation that he can offer as he tries to reduce his potential punishment.
In this court filing, special prosecutor`s office says they have finished their work with Michael Flynn and view his cooperation as, quote, otherwise complete. But Michael Flynn has been cooperating with prosecutors in a Virginia case, in an ongoing case against two of his former business associates who have been accused of illegally lobbying for Turkey. That case is scheduled for trial in July.
And because of Michael Flynn`s continued cooperation, his lawyers have asked for another 90 days to submit their next sentencing status report for the judge to consider.
Taking over now to analyze this for us, Ron Klain, former senior adviser to Joe Biden and President Obama, and former chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
And Kimberly Atkinson is with us. She`s the senior news correspondent for WBUR and an MSNBC contributor.
You both had time to study this. I want to go to this last line that I want to read aloud word for word. This is very short. It`s a two-page thing. It`s as thin as legal filings get.
It says -- and this is the special prosecutor speaking here -- the government takes no position on the defendant`s request for a continuance. However, while the defendant remains in a position to cooperate with law enforcement authorities and could testify in the Eastern District of Virginia case should it proceed to trial, in the government`s view, his cooperation is otherwise complete.
I`ve read it three times now, Ron Klain. I have no idea what they`re saying.
RON KLAIN, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: So, look, it`s a short filing but I think it has several flashing lights for President Trump. The first is it`s just a reminder once again that notwithstanding the spin that Mueller is almost finished, there is a lot of action left to go here in terms of trials for the president`s henchmen and wherever that will lead. So, a reminder, we`re not at the end, we`re not even near the end yet.
But second, specifically that paragraph that you read, I think it`s a turning point for Mueller in this investigation. Because he`s been holding off sentencing people to kind of get their cooperation. I think what you`re saying there is, look, they can be sentenced whenever I want, and still, if I need something from them, I can come back and get it again. So Trump thinks he`s heard everything the people have to say, he hasn`t heard everything the people have to say and there is more from Michael Flynn when this is over.
O`DONNELL: So, Kimberly, the most ominous reading of it is -- for the president is that Robert Mueller has everything he needs to get from Michael Flynn, who is in so many ways the closest witness to the president of the United States in action, in the job while president. And that there could be things there that are devastating the president or everything he got out of Michael Flynn doesn`t really help Robert Mueller in the investigation of the president.
KIMBERLY ATKINS, SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, WBUR BOSTON: Yes. I mean, look, with the regular caveat that we don`t know anywhere near as much as Robert Mueller and his investigators know --
O`DONNELL: And I know less than any of the people.
WATKINS: We don`t know. But yes, this is someone -- we have to remember - - this is someone who was with Donald Trump throughout the campaign and into the White House. This is a former White House official now --
O`DONNELL: Transition --
WATKINS: Every bit of it. This is someone who now is looking to get sentenced.
Look, I think at the end of the day, the one thing Michael`s lawyers are trying to do is keep him out of prison. The last time he went before a judge, Emmet Sullivan (ph), the judge made it very clear that he thought he was going to get a very low sentence, no jail time at all, the judge made it clear that he thought otherwise, that these were serious crimes that he was alleged to have committed, and that unless he could give some more which is strongly suggesting he try to cooperate even more with the Mueller investigation and this other Virginia investigation, he was on his way to prison.
So, I think at the very least, his attorneys tried to say until everything else is done, let us cooperate as much as we can. That was my reading from this, but yes, Robert Mueller probably does know, but it`s essentially a shrug from Mueller`s investigation.
O`DONNELL: Yes. I mean, Kimberly`s point about -- you know, he was ready to be sentenced -- the prosecutors were ready to sentence him months ago. It was just at the last minute that the judge kind of helped him out of whatever was going to happen to him that day. So, it really isn`t news, I guess, when Robert Mueller says here his cooperation is otherwise complete. It seems like they felt that way months ago.
KLAIN: That`s right, Lawrence, but I also think what Mueller is signaling is that he is prepared to use whatever he needs to use, whether Mike Flynn is out or in jail, wherever he is. And as Kimberly alluded to, Michael Flynn is staying out of jail, that`s not surprising.
He now is saying I`m going to testify in another trial, maybe we should see what cards I have before that trial before you sentence me. None of this points in the direction that`s helpful to President Trump.
In the end, maybe Michael Flynn has nothing, maybe, but if he does, we haven`t see it yet, and we haven`t seen what cards Bob Mueller has to play about what Mike Flynn has.
O`DONNELL: Did we just discover that there`s a 90-day delay in the Mueller report? I mean, can the Mueller report come out while we`re awaiting sentencing of Michael Flynn, which means we`re awaiting just how much more does Michael Flynn have to say?
ATKINS: We don`t know -- I keep saying that answer over and over again, but we don`t know. I was never of the mind that all of this was done. There are just too many moving pieces, there are still too many unanswered questions, particularly around Roger Stone.
I don`t think we could be expecting a report before all that wraps up. So, I don`t think that this report is as imminent as most people do. I think we have to wait to see it all play out, but I think -- but the fact that he`s saying we`ve gotten everything that we need, essentially, from Michael Flynn signals that it`s, at the very least, in its final stages.
O`DONNELL: Do you feel free to take a vacation in the next 90 days?
KLAIN: I will definitely take a vacation in the next 90 days, but I will definitely be back to talk about this.
O`DONNELL: Ron Klain, Kimberly Atkins, thank you both very much for dealing with this breaking news for us tonight.
And when we come back, Michael Cohen`s testimony to Congress has now apparently led to the New York state attorney general beginning an investigation of Trump financial dealings in New York state where a presidential pardon won`t do you any good in a state investigation. That`s next.
O`DONNELL: Last night, New York State Attorney General Tish James` office sent issued subpoenas to two financial institutions connected to the Trump Organization, Deutsch Bank and Investors Bank for records relating to the financing of five Trump business projects, including a failed effort to purchase the Buffalo Bills football team in 2014.
The president cannot use his pardon power to change the course of this investigation because presidential pardons apply only to federal cases, not to state cases. "The New York Times" is reporting, "The request to Deutsche Bank sought loan applications, mortgages, lines of credit, and other financing transactions in connection with the Trump International Hotel in Washington, the Trump National Doral outside Miami, and the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago, according to a person briefed on the subpoenas.
Investigators also requested Records connected to an Unsuccessful effort to buy the buffalo bills. Investors bank was subpoenaed For records relating to Trump Park Avenue, according to "The New York Times." NBC News has since confirmed this reporting.
The subpoena follows congressional testimony by the president`s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen that Donald Trump inflated his net worth in documents sent to Deutsche Bank when seeking loans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. LACY CLAY (D), MISSOURI: To your knowledge, did the President or his company ever inflate assets or revenues?
MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP LAWYER: Yes.
CLAY: And was that done with the president`s knowledge or direction?
COHEN: Everything was done with the knowledge and permission of Mr. Trump.
CLAY: To your knowledge, did the president ever provided inflated assets to a bank in order to help him obtain a loan?
COHEN: These documents and others were provided to Deutsche Bank in one occasion where I was with him in our attempt to obtain money so that we can put a bid on the Buffalo Bills.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Tonight, the president tweeted an attack on the State of New York and on the Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, who has absolutely nothing to do with the newly elected attorney general whose authority is completely independent of the governor. The governor has nothing to do with this investigation.
The investigation will bring further scrutiny to Deutsche Bank and its lending practices. "The New York Times" notes that the bank was "one of the few lenders willing to do business with Donald J. Trump in recent years."
The bank is already the subject of two congressional investigations. As we just heard from Congresswoman Katie Porter, the House Financial Services Committee is looking at Deutsche Bank and the House Intelligence Committee is investigating Deutsche Bank.
After this break, we will be joined by experts on this story. David Cay Johnston, he is a Pulitzer Prize-winning tax reporter for "The New York Times" and he is an author who has written books about the Trump businesses. He`s an expert on the Trump businesses. He will join us.
David Enrich is the financial editor of "The New York Times" who worked on this person, revealing this investigation and the details of this investigation tonight. These are the people we want to hear from about this New York State attorney general investigation of the Trump businesses. We will be right back with that.
O`DONNELL: And we`re joined now by two reporters who have been studying the president`s finances. David Cay Johnston is the founder of dcreport.org and he`s the author of "It`s Even Worse Than You Think, What the Trump Administration is Doing to America."
And David Enrich is "The New York Times" finance editor who has been working on "The New York Times" coverage of the new investigation launched by the New York State attorney general`s office into the financial dealings of Donald Trump and the Trump businesses.
And David Enrich, tell us what we know at this stage of what the New York State attorney general is pursuing.
DAVID ENRICH, FINANCIAL EDITOR, THE NEW YORK TIMES: They`re basically looking for evidence of bank fraud committed by the president and his company. They heard, as everyone else did, Michael Cohen testifying in Congress saying that Trump overstated his assets and his net worth in applying for loans from Deutsche Bank and they are looking to see what evidence exists of that inside Deutsche Bank, which is the only lender that has consistently been willing to give money to Donald Trump over the past 20 years.
O`DONNELL: And David Enrich, do we know that this follows Michael Cohen`s testimony or is this -- could these subpoenas have been something that the New York State attorney general was working on even before Michael Cohen testified?
ENRICH: Well, we know that the New York attorney general, like other federal and state regulators, has had its eye on Deutsche Bank and the Trump relationship there for a very long time. This is the only bank that was willing to lend him money and that means this bank has played a very central role in supporting Donald Trump`s rise to power.
And over the past several years, they have finances one project after another. And so regulators and prosecutors all over the country are looking at this bank as kind of the place where all the answers exist. If you`re trying to understand what`s going on inside Trump`s finances.
I don`t know if this was something that they planned prior to Michael Cohen`s testimony. It certainly tracks very closely with the specifics of what Cohen said on Capitol Hill.
O`DONNELL: And David Cay Johnston, one of the questions that you have looking at this relationship is when no other bank will lend to Donald Trump, why Deutsche Bank? Why are they lending to Donald Trump?
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING TAX REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, one theory, and we may find out through this investigation, is that Deutsche Bank wasn`t really the lender, that they laid this off on to VTB, that`s the Russian spy bank or one of the other Russian state banks.
It`s not uncommon for banks to simulate syndicate big loans and spread the risk among several banks. But it`s long been suspected that Deutsche Bank made these loans because it was really the Russians who were at risk.
O`DONNELL: Is that something, David Enrich, that you think the New York State attorney general would be able to penetrate?
ENRICH: I think they`re certainly interested in trying. I have to say, though, I spent more than a year now digging into the relationship between Deutsche Bank and Donald Trump for a book that I`m writing on the subject that comes out early next year. And I have not seen any evidence.
I`ve talked to basically every person at Deutsche Bank, past and present, who was involved in any way with the Trump relationship over the past two decades. And every single one of them has told me basically the same thing when it comes down to Russia, which is that they have not seen any evidence of Trump being in hoc to Russia by way of Deutsche Bank.
O`DONNELL: So David Cay Johnston, if Michael Cohen`s testimony proves true and the New York State attorney general finds that Donald Trump deliberately misstated the value of an asset, inflated the value of an asset so that he would look better in a loan application, what would that mean for Donald Trump?
JOHNSTON: Well, if he signed the loan application, and those are done under penalty of perjury, potentially he faces the criminal charges, but the loan would have to probably have been made to make a case stick.
I think we`re certainly going to find out a lot more about how he presented himself. But whether or not this results in a criminal charge, a lot of facts have got to be developed before we know.
O`DONNELL: David Cay Johnston, David Enrich, thank you both very much for joining us on that important story.
And when we come back. You`re a Republican senator. You are constantly humiliated by Donald Trump. Your poll numbers in your home state could not be worse. Do you run for re-election next year to get six more years in the Senate, or do you quit Paul Ryan style and decide that being the Republican leader of the Senate is no more fun than being the Republican Speaker of the House was for Paul Ryan? That`s next.
O`DONNELL: Any time from tomorrow to about a year from now, you will be hearing announcements like this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL RYAN, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Today, I am announcing that this year will be my last one as a member of the House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was House Speaker Paul Ryan last year announcing that he would not run for re-election to Congress. He made that announcement on April 11, 2018. Most members of Congress who announce that they are not going to run again announced much sooner than that in the election year. And many of them announced in the year before the election year so that their party in their state can have time to find and support the right candidate to succeed them in office.
For example, Senator Lamar Alexander announced last year that he will not run for re-election next year, thereby giving Tennessee Republicans plenty of time to try to find the strongest candidate to replace him.
Here are all of the Republican senators who are up for re-election next year who have not yet announced that they will run for re-election. They will look at their polling in their states and they will look at what their next six years of life in the United States Senate would be if they win re- election and they will see that they will either be re-elected into another four years of humiliation in service to the madness of the Trump presidency, or they will be re-elected into the first four years of a Democratic president where their only function will be trying to block presidential appointees to federal judgeships.
Both of those are dreary Scenarios for Republican senators. And so there will be more Republican senators announcing that they will not run for re- election and the Republican senator with the strongest incentive to not run for re-election is the one with the very worst polling numbers back home in his state, a 33 percent approval rating.
At the end of next year, he will have served 36 years in the United States Senate. And the voters in his state do not appreciate the 35 years of service that he`s already given them. The vast majority of those voters say it`s time for someone new.
And that senator who is the most unpopular Republican senator in his home state also happens to have the most difficult job of any Republican senator in the United States Senate. At 78-years-old, will he really be looking forward to another four years of humiliation by Donald Trump or four years of nothing but trying to block the Democrats` judicial nominations?
After this break, we`ll take a look at all of the reasons Mitch McConnell might not run for re-election to the Senate, including how jealous he must be of Paul Ryan right now.
O`DONNELL: No majority leader of the United States Senate has ever had it worse than Mitch McConnell. Even the majority leaders of the Senate who had presidents of the opposing party, they were all treated with more dignity and respect and professionalism by the president of the opposing party than Mitch McConnell gets from Donald Trump.
Normally, the working relationship between a majority leader and the president of the leader`s own party is a highly cooperative partnership in which the majority leader has most of the power when it comes to legislation. Majority leaders have told presidents of their own party what is possible and what is not possible in the Senate, and those presidents did not try to defy them.
Mitch McConnell has the distinction in history of being the first Senate majority leader attacked by a president of the United States on Twitter. Six months into the Trump presidency, the president tweeted, "Can you believe that Mitch McConnell, who has screamed repeal and replace for seven years couldn`t get it done."
Two weeks later, the president attacked, tweeted, "The only problem I have with Mitch McConnell is that after hearing repeal and replace for seven years, he failed. That should never have happened."
Of course, that tweet was not true because that was not the only problem that Donald Trump had with Mitch McConnell. To be clear, no president has ever dared to publicly attack the majority leader of the Senate of his own party. Mitch McConnell has repeatedly thought that he has made a deal with President Trump only to discover that the president`s word meant nothing, that he changed his mind because of something he just saw on T.V.
That has never happened to any other majority leader, even with presidents of the opposite party. Mitch McConnell told President Trump not to shut down the government. Mitch McConnell then went public, saying there would not be a government shutdown.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: I think a government shutdown is not a good option. That`s my view. The American people don`t like it. We`ve been down this path before and I don`t believe we`ll go down this path again.
KASIE HUNT, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: To put a finer point on that, Aare you convinced that we will not shut down over Christmas?
MCCONNELL: Yes, I am.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Normally, when a Senate majority leader says that, you can take to it the bank. That`s it. There won`t be a shutdown. The majority leader says there won`t be a shutdown. But Mitch McConnell`s words mean nothing because Donald Trump humiliates him.
Donald Trump humiliated Mitch McConnell and became the first president in history to shut down the government when both Houses of Congress were controlled by his own party. Mitch McConnell knew that was going to end very badly for the Republicans and Donald Trump, and there was nothing that Mitch McConnell could do about it.
There has never been a more powerless majority leader of the Senate than Mitch McConnell in his relationship with the president. Any Republican majority leader could have rammed through the judicial confirmations that Mitch McConnell has rammed through the Senate. That`s the easy part of the job.
Every other part of Mitch McConnell`s job is made impossibly difficult or just plain impossible by the worst and most erratic president in history. Why, why would Mitch McConnell want more of this, especially when Kentucky has no gratitude for the job that he`s been doing in the Senate?
Polling shows that Mitch McConnell has a 33 percent approval rating in Kentucky. That is a deadly approval rating for an incumbent senator. Sixty-one percent of Kentucky voters say that Mitch McConnell has been there too long and it`s time for someone new.
Mitch McConnell is already the longest-serving senator in Kentucky history. Kentucky is done with Mitch McConnell if Democrats can find the right candidate to run against him like possibly Amy McGrath who lost a close election for a Kentucky House seat last year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMY MCGRATH, FORMER CONGRESSWOMAN CANDIDATE, KENTUCKY: In a fighter jet, it was never just about me. For every one of my 89 combat missions, there were hundreds of marines who were part of a team. I`m Amy McGrath. And Congress doesn`t think that way. Too many there refuse to work with the other side. They would rather block any good idea than let the other side get credit for anything. I approve this message because I`ll never take orders from a party leader but I will work with anyone if it means we can get something done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Does Mitch McConnell want that fight? Does Mitch McConnell really want to spend the next year and a half fighting off a strong Democratic candidate in his own re-election campaign while at the same time trying to get enough Republican senators re-elected to the Senate to hold on to the majority?
And then the best reward he can get, if he makes all of that happen, is another four years of utter humiliation from Donald Trump, if the Republicans hold on to the presidency. Paul Ryan knew early in the Trump presidency that Donald Trump was going to drive the Republicans out of power in the House of Representatives.
Paul Ryan knew long before he announced publicly that he was not going to run for re-election in his district. Paul Ryan did not take one step to run for re-election in his district. And by the time he announced he wasn`t going to run, there was no surprise among any of the professionals in Washington because Paul Ryan hadn`t done a single thing to run for re- election.
Donald Trump drove Paul Ryan out of office and lost the House of Representatives for the Republicans while he was at it. Will Donald Trump drive Mitch McConnell out of office and possibly lose the Senate for Republicans while he is at it? Or will Kentucky voters drive Mitch McConnell out of office if he decides to run again?
Next year could be the last year of the humiliation of Mitch McConnell. That is tonight`s LAST WORD.
We have a quick programming note. Senator Elizabeth Warren, presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren will be a guest on "Morning Joe" tomorrow morning right here on MSNBC. And then, I will be a guest on "Morning Joe" tomorrow morning right here on MSNBC where we will no doubt discuss what Elizabeth Warren just said on "Morning Joe." "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams is next.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END