12 senate republicans break with Trump. TRANSCRIPT: 3/14/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell.

Guests: Heidi Heitkamp, Laurence Tribe, Ayanna Pressley

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

And it`s yet another day in which the government of the United States of American competes with the government of United Kingdom for which one had a worse day. 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Which one can self-own more aggressively.

O`DONNELL:  Yes.

MADDOW:  Yes.

O`DONNELL:  It`s been an amazing thing to watch.  Just incredible.

  MADDOW:  Yes, thanks, my friend.

O`DONNELL:  Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW:  Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL:  Well, tonight, we will have another episode of meet the freshman.  Freshman member of the Democratic House of Representatives, Ayanna Pressley, will join us to discuss her confrontation with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in an Oversight Committee hearing today. 

And Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe will join us on how today`s vote in the Senate will help the lawsuits against the Trump declaration of emergency to build a wall at the southern border and also to discuss a new element in a possible obstruction of justice case against the president. 

And at the end of the hour tonight, we will discuss what to expect in the transition of power when the time comes for Donald Trump to leave the White House.  And show you Donald Trump of all people saying that he thinks Beto O`Rourke`s hand gestures indicate that Beto O`Rourke just might be crazy.  This from the man with the strangest hand gestures in the history of the American presidency.

But, first, we`ll be joined by former Senator Heidi Heitkamp and MSNBC`s Joy Reid on the dramatic vote in the Senate today in which more Republican senators turned against President Trump than ever before.  The Republican controlled Senate dealt President Trump a stinging defeat today, voting to end the president`s national emergency declaration at the southern border.  Donald Trump and his White House staff worked hard to pressure Republicans before the vote.

And they actually did manage to turn around one Republican senator who very publicly had declared and put it in writing that he would vote against the president but one was not enough.  Twelve Republican senators voted against the president and helped the Democrats win the vote 59-41. 

Here is the sample of Republican senators who voted against the president today. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER (R), TENNESSEE:  Never before has a president asked for funding, the Congress has not provided it and then the president has used the National Emergencies Act of 1976 to spend the money anyway. 

SEN. ROB PORTMAN (R), OHIO:  The use of national emergency powers to circumvent Congress` explicit decision on funding is unprecedented.  No president has ever used what`s called the National Emergencies Act in this way. 

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE:  A spending request is designated as an emergency only, only if the need for spending met five -- a five-part test.  It had to be necessary, sudden, urgent, unforeseen and not permanent. 

His decision to fund a border wall through a national emergency declaration, would never pass all of this five-part test. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  After the vote, the president tweeted that he looked forward to vetoing the resolution.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this is not an emergency and the Congress declared in a strong bipartisan voice that the president`s fear-mongering doesn`t make it one. 

It was the second time in two days that the Senate Republicans voted against the president yesterday, seven Republican senators voted with the Democrats to end U.S. military support for Saudi Arabia`s war in Yemen.  And the House of Representatives saw the kind of vote today it hasn`t seen in a long time on a matter involving President Trump.  Four Republicans voted present today, just present, but no Republicans voted against a resolution in the House of Representatives saying quote, the report of special counsel Mueller should be made available to the public and to Congress.  The vote for that resolution was 420-0 with four Republicans voting present. 

Today, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer tried to bring up that same resolution in the Senate for a vote and Republican Senator Lindsey Graham objected and blocked a vote on that resolution. 

Today, the president was asked if his immigration policies are cruel. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER:  Are your immigration policies cruel? 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  No, I don`t think they`re cruel.  I think they`re the opposite of cruel.  They have become cruel because they are so ridiculous and hurts people, it does the reverse of what it`s supposed to be doing. 

But, no, they are actually meant to be the opposite and hurting people, they are really hurting people.  A lot of people --

REPORTER:  Is it hurting your reputation or your country`s reputation?

TRUMP:  I think that we have done an incredible job, we`re apprehending record numbers of people. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  The green you see the president wearing there today is in celebration of St. Patrick`s Day, which is celebrated early in Washington and is, of course, a celebration of the history of American immigration particularly from Ireland. 

NBC News Cal Perry has once again spent the week at the southern border reporting on Trump border policies.  Today, he reported from one of the places on the border that does have a wall. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAL PERRY, NBC NEWS:  Lawrence, we`re here at the wall between El Paso and Juarez.  And there`s a new phenomenon here going on.  When you talk to aid workers, they`ll tell you, because the Trump administration is turning migrants back, what they are doing is coming here to this spot on the fence. 

Why are they coming here?  Well, they are coming to apply for asylum and they can do so quite easily because even though I`m now standing on the Mexico side of this barrier, I`m still in America.  The border is, of course, the river, the half way point between that water, so all migrants need to do to legally apply for asylum is get to this point and Customs and Border Protection will pick them up and start processing them through centers.  Once they are processed through, they`re released into the city of El Paso, a city that`s completely overwhelmed. 

VINCENT PEREZ, EL PASO COUNTY COMMISSIONER:  You`ll see a wall in most parts of our county but yet, we`re still receiving a record number of migrants.  The status quo of processing these migrants and leaving it up to local communities to deal with the migrants and to help assist them after that I think is grossly unfair.  We get no state assistance.  We receive no other assistance from any other level of government but I think the federal government should help communities such as El Paso. 

PERRY:  All this raises yet another legal question.  We`ve been told that activists and aid workers that migrants will sometimes wait for 24 hours on the other side of the fence before Customs and Border Protection is able to pick them up and process them.  By law, Customs and Border Protection should be doing it immediately.  The problem is they are just as overwhelmed as everybody. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  Leading off our discussion now is former Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp.  She`s now a fellow at Harvard`s Institute of Politics.  Also, joining us, Joy Reid, an MSNBC national correspondent, and host of "A.M. JOY", weekends on MSNBC, and NBC News correspondent Cal Perry is joining us from the southern border tonight. 

And, Senator Heitkamp, I`m so glad to have you here, because you were working in that Senate when it -- just last year, when it was unimaginable that 12 Republicans would stand up and vote against this president of the United States. 

HEIDI HEITKAMP, HARVARD`S INSTITUTE OF POLITICS:  Well, you say it`s against the president.  I like to put it this way, it`s for the Constitution.  It`s for Article I powers, which is absolutely critical, and many of the people who voted that way were appropriators because they don`t like being told what to do, and if you crack this egg, you can`t uncrack this egg. 

I think you take people like Mike Lee who stood with his principles.  Where was Ted Cruz?  For eight year, or at least the six years I was there, Ted Cruz railed against executive encroachment on legislative authority, and certainly was very critical of President Obama.  He didn`t stand with the Constitution today and I really applaud my colleagues that stood with the Constitution, stood with the importance of Article I. 

O`DONNELL:  Knowing them as you do, having worked with them there on the Senate floor for so many years, did you have any surprises in the way Republicans broke today? 

HEITKAMP:  I thought Jerry Moran was interesting.  I think that he`s a great guy.  I worked with him quite a bit because he represents a rural state.  But I think he really stood on principle. 

Lamar Alexander, not a surprise.  Lamar is an institutionalist.  He understands that balance of power.  He`s retiring. 

Lisa and Susan, no surprise.  But I really think there were a number of people like Wicker, like Moran who really in their gut believe this was a constitutional vote, a significant vote and that the people who voted the other way will ultimately regret it because just like breaking the filibuster, just like going nuclear on judges, things will change and then all of a sudden, you`re on the other side of it. 

We have to be for institutional norms and certainly 12 Republicans today stood up for the Constitution and the institution of the United States Senate. 

O`DONNELL:  And, Joy Reid, I was on the Hill yesterday and I had more than one Democratic senator tell me that what Senator Heitkamp just said about the ones that voted against it and many of them know in their hearts that it was the right thing to do, I have Democratic senators telling me many of them, most of them, know in their hearts it`s the right thing to do, but their hearts aren`t going to let them do what Trump doesn`t want them to do. 

JOY REID, MSNBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT:  Right.  Because cowardice is more powerful than what they know in their hearts. 

I mean, I`m glad that Senator Heitkamp mentioned Ted "The Constitution" Cruz, because what`s happening here is that these senators who are voting against essentially their own power, they are not just voting against the Constitution with all due respect to the senator, they`re literally voting to diminish their own status and standing as constitutional officers.  You know, the Constitution is written with the understanding with each branch of government that was equal would jealously guard their power. 

For somebody like Ted Cruz to call himself a constitutional originalist, but then say, go ahead, take my power.  If my body says no to the president, the president can over ride my body.  How do they run for e reelection saying that I`m the guy that stood for neutering the Senate, I`m the guy who stood for diminishing the power for the body that I wanted to serve in?  It makes no sense. 

And I`ll tell you that Cory Gardner from my home state of Colorado, "The Denver Post" that shocked everybody by endorsing him thinking he would be some sort of constitutional conservative has just withdrawn the endorsement, saying it was a mistake because obviously Cory Gardner cares more about the second branch of government than the first. 

O`DONNELL:  And, Joy, you have Lamar Alexander voting against the president, he`s not running for reelection in Tennessee.  I guess we don`t know what he would have done if he was running for reelection.  And then you have Susan Collins who is running for reelection in Maine, and she voted against the president.  How do you read the Susan Collins vote? 

REID:  Susan Collins is in trouble.  Cory Gardner and Susan Collins are probably the two Republicans in the biggest trouble in terms of their reelect.  I see Susan Collins, you know, sort of desperately trying to figure out this sort of line that she has to walk between being Trump enough to prevent herself from getting primaried but also seeming like a normal Republican enough to get reelected.  I don`t see how either of these guys get back in. 

Susan Collins can keep trying to get back in the good graces of sort of normal, moderate Republican.  I`m not sure it works.  I think about a Pat Toomey, who also seems to be trying the same thing, and saying, look, no, no, I`m still a normal conservative. 

The problem is this is not a conservative Republican Party.  It`s the party of Trump.  It`s a personality cult.  And you need to get with the cult or you get out of Congress. 

O`DONNELL:  Cal Perry, you`re at the border once again this week.  This kind of vote has no immediate effect on anything that`s happening at the border.  What about life at the border as it relates to what is being talked about in the Senate or in Washington?  It seems to be a big disconnect. 

PERRY:  Yes, look in places like El Paso where you have 25,000 family units taken into custody in the first four months of 2019 as compared to 12,000 family units in all of 2018, it`s crazy to think it`s a national emergency.  There is certainly a humanitarian crisis going on.  People here will say that out front, but it`s because this administration is doing unlawful things like turning migrants away at the port of entry. 

So, you have the president of the United States saying to a hemisphere, come to the ports of entry, enter the correct way and he turns those people away.  So folks are coming to the wall.  They`re coming to these little loophole areas where they know they have to be let in.  Customs and Border Protection is now holding these people for sometimes eight, nine, ten days and these are family units.  These are mothers and fathers with their children and they are being held in the processing centers just not equipped to hold them. 

So, you have things like 30 people in a cage meant to hold 15, and I`m choosing words carefully because this administration is misleading people about the emergency that exists in this country.  The secretary of DHS, Secretary Nielsen, misled Congress when she said these were not cages.  El Paso is a safe city.  Crime has not risen even though it`s a weigh station for those coming because the situation frankly in South America is deteriorating very quickly. 

O`DONNELL:  Senator, I always like to have Cal Perry here when discussing anything about the border because these Washington discussions almost never have anything to do with the reality there. 

And I want to focus in on one Republican who was apparently forced under all the pressure to vote with the president on this.  This is Thom Tillis, North Carolina, Republican, you know, served within the Senate.  He wrote a "Washington Post" op-ed saying there is no intellectual honesty in supporting the president`s position on this.  That is what he wrote last month. 

He said in the op-ed: As a U.S. senator, I cannot justify providing the executive with more ways to bypass Congress.  And today, he changed his position on every word that he wrote in "The Washington Post" and he voted with president Trump. 

HEITKAMP:  Well, no one is forced, first off, to vote with the president.  You have to make a choice, and obviously, that is a choice that the senator from North Carolina made today.  I think that he will rue the day that he did this flip-flop because, you know, at some point when you say I`m going to stand on principle and then nothing changes but you change your vote, that`s a really hard thing to justify at home. 

Because one thing people -- I know in this era where it seems like everything is, you know, there is so much hypocrisy in politics, that doesn`t pass the authentic smell test of doing the right thing and standing up for your principles.  I think he would have been a lot better off if he stood with his principles.  He wasn`t forced by anyone.  He made that choice himself. 

O`DONNELL:  That`s a very good point.  I shouldn`t have used the word forced, Joy.  I`ve seen senators pressured before but it is not forced.  They do have their -- always have their right to vote their conscience and position.

But I have never ever seen a flip-flop like this.  You get "The Washington Post" op-ed.

REID:  Yes.

O`DONNELL:  You put it all in writing and then you completely flip-flop and go the other way.  I don`t think that`s ever happened in the history of Senate. 

REID:  I mean, it`s extraordinary, Lawrence, because this was -- this op-ed was supposedly a statement of principles, but obviously, principles mean nothing when it comes to whether or not you are going to turn yourself into an apparatchik, an employee of the president of the United States.  That is not what a United States senator is supposed to be.  You`re in a co-equal branch of government.

And I have to say beyond, you know, Thom Tillis, I think about the senators that are from the southwest where I grew up.  Where was Cornyn?  Where was Martha McSally? 

If you are from Arizona, or if you`re from Colorado, or you`re from Texas, you know that this is bogus.  You know you have to go back and face a district.  You`re not in some red district in the House.  You`re facing a whole state where you have citizens in this country of Hispanic descent who know that you`re lying, who know that you are demonizing them, and you have to go back and face those people, too. 

They can pretend they only have to face Trump voters when they get reelected, but as Senator Heitkamp knows, a senator runs in a state.  You don`t just run in a district.  So, good luck in Arizona, in Texas, in places like that facing those voters with a lie, where you decided to side with the president saying this was an emergency.  Cal Perry can tell you it`s not an emergency.  All of our great reporters, they know it`s a lie. 

And I think that when these -- these senators up for reelection, they should have to answer for that. 

O`DONNELL:  Joy Reid, thank you for starting us off tonight. 

Cal Perry, thank you for your input from the border.  We really need that in this conversation.

And, Senator Heitkamp, always great to have you on a night when there is big action in the United States Senate.  Really appreciate you being here. 

And when we come back, freshman Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley will join us after confronting Wilbur Ross in today`s oversight committee hearing. 

And Harvard Law Professor Laurence Tribe will join us with his reaction to new information about another possible obstruction of justice by President Trump. 

And today, Donald Trump criticized Beto O`Rourke`s hand gestures and he asked us to study Beto O`Rourke`s hand gestures, which we will actually do later in this hour, and we`re also going to study Donald Trump`s hand gestures. 

And at the end of the hour, I`ll discuss something I`ve been very reluctant to discuss but become a larger worry from some people since Michael Cohen said this. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP LAWYER:  There will never be a peaceful transition of power. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  And then the president gave an interview yesterday in which he said something that sounded to many people like a threat if he lost the election or was impeached.

And I don`t want to fan the flames of panic about this, so I`m very reluctant to discuss, but at the end of this hour, I`ll tell you what I think will happen in the next presidential transition of power. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL:  The bipartisan vote in the Senate today to end President Trump`s emergency declaration at the southern border will be used in court against the president in lawsuits that have been brought to block the president`s emergency declaration. 

Harvard Law School`s constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe is a co- counsel in one of those cases and we are fortunate once again tonight to have Professor Lawrence tribe join us. 

Professor Tribe, thank you very much for joining us tonight and I want to get your reaction to what is now both the Senate and the House clearly voting with clear majorities to try to block the president`s emergency declaration.  How will that find its way into your lawsuits to block the declaration?

LAURENCE TRIBE, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL PROFESSORE:  Well, it certainly makes the lawsuit even stronger, stronger to begin with, because the power of the purse belongs to the president and even in a real emergency of the kind we faced in the Korean War when Truman seized the steel mills, he was told by the Supreme Court you can`t do that when Congress hasn`t given you a clear green light because that involves spending money to compensate them after you have seized them. 

In this case, Congress didn`t give a green light.  It did pass the national emergency act but that is never meant that when the president asks Congress for something and says I urgently need it and Congress says you don`t, that you can pretend that you have a clear, green light.  And if there was any ambiguity, it was removed by the overwhelming bipartisan vote, the 59-41 vote in the Senate joining the House. 

The fact that the president will veto it is not decisive. 

O`DONNELL:  You know, the court can still take note of these votes and that they are majority votes and --

TRIBE:  Right. 

O`DONNELL:  When do you see as the timetable for these cases? 

TRIBE:  Well, that`s a little hard to say.  I mean, we`re suing in the eastern district of Texas, there are other cases and other districts.  The government may slow walk them because they don`t really believe there is an emergency. 

They may take quite awhile but it is clear that once the government files its answer, we can move to seek quite immediate relief and we`re looking forward to that because as Judge Jackson said in another case just the other day, courts are one place where facts still matter and even though courts are differential to the president, the fact that there is no emergency at the border as Joy Reid so eloquently described and as we`ve seen as everybody knows, that fact is going to make a difference.  Even if there were an emergency as I said, the president can`t take the power of the purse to his own hands, but here, there is no emergency and that makes this a very strong case against the president. 

O`DONNELL:  As usual, today in Washington here in Washington in the age of Trump, there is more than one important legal story.  I want to turn your attention for a moment to House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler who participated in an interview of Matthew Whitaker who was temporarily the acting director of the FBI in his public testimony.  Matthew Whitaker certainly intended to give the committee the impression that he was his work was never interfered with in any way by President Trump.

But let`s listen to what Jerry Nadler said today about what happened in his closed door interview with Matthew Whitaker this week. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY), CHAIRMAN, HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE:  When presented directly with an opportunity to deny that the president talked to him about the Michael Cohen investigation, he refused -- he refused to deny it.  He evaded a lot of questions but refused to deny that. 

This goes to the heart of our investigation, which is obstruction of justice and abuse of power.  If the president is seeking to influence that investigation in which he was possibly implicated, that`s a very grave abuse of power.  It`s a very grave obstruction of justice. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  Your reaction to that, Professor? 

TRIBE:  I think Jerry Nadler is right.  The facts need to be developed and are being developed by the Judiciary Committee. 

But if it is the case as it appears to be that the president tried to get Whitaker when he was acting attorney general to lean on the acting head of the Southern District U.S. attorney`s office and to get Trump`s friend unrecused himself -- and there isn`t such thing as unrecusal -- but if he was learning on Whitaker to try to put back one of his political allies to run the prosecution in the southern district, that becomes instance of obstruction number 257 or 258.  I`m losing count.  But it`s certainly contributing to the pattern. 

O`DONNELL:  I think I spoke and called him the acting director of the FBI.  He was, of course, the acting attorney general in a much more powerful position, in fact. 

TRIBE:  Right.

O`DONNELL:  Professor Lawrence Tribe, thank you very much for joining us tonight.  Really appreciate you being here tonight. 

TRIBE:  Thank you.

O`DONNELL:  I just want to remind the audience, the professor`s most recent book, he is the co-author of "To End A Presidency: The Power of Impeachment".  And that`s now in paperback.

And when we come back, the last time Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross testified, the Republicans was in control of the House of Representatives.  Today was a very different story for Wilbur Ross and his story actually has changed.  Freshman Democratic Congresswoman Ayanna Presley delivered her share of the tough questions to Wilbur Ross today and she will join us next.

And later, the president told us to study Beto O`Rourke`s hand gestures today.  We decided to study his, instead. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. LACY CLAY (D), MISSOURI:  Mr. Secretary, you lied to Congress, you misled the American people and you are complicit in the Trump administration`s intent to suppress the growing political power of the non- white population.  You have already done great harm to census 2020 and you have zero credibility and you should in my opinion resign.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  That is how Donald Trump`s Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross was greeted today in the House Oversight Committee.  It was Wilbur Ross` turn today to discover how much has changed since voters decided to give Democrats control of the House of Representatives.

Last year, when Republicans controlled the House, Wilbur Ross testified there that he added a question about citizenship to the next census because the Justice Department asked him to do that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILBUR ROSS, SECRETARY OF COMMERCE:  We have had a request, as everyone is aware, from the Department of Justice to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census.  We are responding solely to the Department of Justices` request.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  Since that testimony in the discovery process of a lawsuit, e- mails have been revealed showing that Wilbur Ross` staff had made repeated requests to the Justice Department to send them a request for the change in the census and a legal justification for that change.  That lawsuit has also revealed that Wilbur Ross spoke to Steve Bannon and others in the White House about the change before receiving any communication from the Justice Department.

That`s why you just heard Congressman Clay telling Wilbur Ross you lied to Congress.  In today`s hearing, Wilbur Ross discovered what it`s like to go up against the freshman in the House of Representatives.  This time, it was Massachusetts Congresswoman Ayanna Presley`s turn to force the commerce secretary into a corner where he was afraid to answer the question.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY (D-MA), OVERSIGHT AND REFORM COMMITTEE:  On any of your calls with the attorney general, did you ask the attorney general to send you a letter requesting the addition of a citizenship question, yes or no?

ROSS:  As I have said before, the content of my conversations with the attorney general are confidential.

PRESSLEY:  It may be confidential but it`s not privileged.  So again, one more time, could you disclose what was the nature of your phone call with the attorney general if at any point you asked him to include the immigration question in the census -- the citizenship question?

ROSS:  My answer is the same as what I gave you.

PRESSLEY:  OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  After a Republican congressman said that Thomas Jefferson believed there should be a question about citizenship in the census, Wilbur Ross said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSS:  Well, I`m a great admirer of Thomas Jefferson.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  That`s the kind of thing a cabinet secretary could say back when 81-year-old Wilbur Ross was in college and there were no black women in the House of Representatives but now there are black women in the House of Representatives and black men who know about Thomas Jefferson`s treatment of Sally Hemmings and who know exactly the way Thomas Jefferson believed we should count human beings in this country.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. STACEY PLASKETT (D), UNITED STATES VIRGIN ISLANDS:  Mr. Ross, you`re aware also that Thomas Jefferson believes that slaves should be counted as three-fifths of a person for population basis.  So I`m not sure if Thomas Jefferson should be the litmus test for what we should be doing for accounting census.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  That was Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett of the Virgin Islands.  We are joined now by one of the freshman in the House of Representatives who are changing how the Trump administration is being held accountable.

Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, the Democrat from Massachusetts, a member of the Oversight and Reform Committee.  Thank you very much for joining us.  Really appreciate having you here.

PRESSLEY:  Thank you for having me.

O`DONNELL:  So another six-and-a-half-hour hearing.

PRESSLEY:  Yes.

O`DONNELL:  You get your shot and you corner the secretary.  And he claims something that doesn`t exist.  He has no right to say, none of them do, that the communication was confidential.  This administration seems to think there are rights that they don`t have.

PRESSLEY:  Well, this is the day of reckoning under chairman Cummings.  I mean under the previous -- when the Democrats were not in the majority, Oversight and Reform was giving this administration a pass and those days are over.  You may --

O`DONNELL:  Can I pause you for a second?

PRESSLEY:  Sure.

O`DONNELL:  This hearing would never have occurred -- not occurred if --

PRESSLEY:  That`s right.

O`DONNELL:  -- if the Republicans were in control.

PRESSLEY:  That`s right.

O`DONNELL:  So even if you had been elected into the minority, you wouldn`t have had any minutes with Wilbur Ross today.

PRESSLEY:  That`s right.  Day reckoning and Chairman Cummings said the challenge in charge of us as members of the Oversight and Reform Committee to be effective and efficient in pursuit of the truth.  We certainly did attempt to do that today as a committee in the collective.

I do believe that we were stonewalled at every turn.  And in fact, this was incredibly frustrating for six-and-a-half-hours when we could produce documents and in fact even video that showed that Secretary Ross was in contradiction with previous statements and that`s very serious.

Michael Cohen perjured himself and he`s going to jail.  So we don`t take these contradictions, these obstructions and this stonewalling lightly by any stretch of the imagination.  During this that I cornered him but during that round of questioning, he said that my time was up.  And I had to remind him that it was not up to him, that was up to the chair so.

O`DONNELL:  I want to go to something that happened on the House floor today that looks kind of extraordinary from us out on the outside.  Four hundred and twenty to nothing was the vote on the House floor saying that, of course, Robert Mueller`s report should be released to Congress and the public.  Were you surprised that there was zero votes against that?

PRESSLEY:  No.  You know, I consider myself to be an internal optimist here.  And there are many things that we disagree on but we collectively agree that the American people deserve to know the truth.  And so that report should be made public.

Again, there are indicators, potentially of obstruction of justice, of collusion, but we won`t know if any of that is substantiated or real until we receive this report and the American people deserve full transparency.

O`DONNELL:  I know when you were running in Massachusetts, gun legislation, gun safety issues were important to your campaign.  I actually ran into you one summer day in the middle of your campaign in Massachusetts.  You were behind in the polls but you were confident you were going to win and you did.

The ruling in the Sandy Hook case, the court ruling saying that yes, the gun manufacturers can be sued for the way they are both marketing and making these guns available to what turn out to be mass murderers.  That is a big breakthrough in this field.

PRESSLEY:  Absolutely.  Speaking of the Massachusetts seven, gun violence is an issue of consequence for our district and throughout the country.  It is -- I am heartened and inspired by the hundreds of family members that I have met who have suffered tragic loss and have become advocates in gun violence prevention to make sure that no other family knows that hurt and that ache.

This is the year it seems for accountability.  And so I think it`s an exciting precedence.  We can`t return those 26 souls but I hope it puts these families on a pathway to peace and healing and to justice and it`s an encouraging precedence.

You know, in the spirit of accountability -- actually, when Wells Fargo was before the Financial Services Committee, this was my line of questioning because unlike other banks which have divested from gun manufacturers and from the NRA, Wells Fargo continues to invest quite formidably and we took them to task on that.  They should be held accountable for the contributing role that they are playing in this public health crisis and epidemic that is gun violence.

O`DONNELL:  Can you stay with us for one more question after a commercial break?

PRESSLEY:  Absolutely.

O`DONNELL:  Because I want to ask you about this proposal you have about voting that Nancy Pelosi has now endorsed.

PRESSLEY:  Yes.  OK.

O`DONNELL:  We`re going to come right back with Ayanna Pressley right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REP. NANCY PELOSI, HOUSE SPEAKER:  I myself, personally I`m not speaking for my caucus, I myself have always been for lowering the voting age to 16.  I think it`s really important to capture kids when they`re in high school, when they`re interested in all of this, when they`re learning about government to be able to vote.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  She was talking about you.  She was actually asked about your proposal to lower the voting age to 16.  Now, you have the speaker on your side.

PRESSLEY:  Yes, my very first amendment that I proposed for HR-1.  We reported at the Rules Committee.  No easy feat for a freshman.  Shout out to the Chairman, Jim McGovern, there.  And we did earn 126 votes on the record in support of lowering the voting age and was very proud to have John Lewis enthusiastically cast a vote and be affirmative for that.

And then to learn today that our speaker is supportive.  And so we`ve advanced the debate and the conversation.  This is as many people we`ve been able to get on the record on the issue.  And although we weren`t able to get it included in HR-1, we`re going to continue to work on that.

O`DONNELL:  When the voting age was lowered, it used to be 21, I remember it was lowered to 18, the argument was, look, if you can draft young men at 18 and send them off to Vietnam to die, they should have a right to vote.  So there was a very, very powerful moral argument to it.  What`s the argument now to push down two more years?

PRESSLEY:  Well, first, let me just say very appropriate that it was Senator Ted Kennedy actually who proposed that.  And so Massachusetts is still, you know, offering these sorts of amendments and I`m proud to keep that history going.

But for me, the argument is that in 2019, 16-year-olds are dealing with 2019 challenges, hardships, and threats.  And we should show some 2019 courage that commiserates with what they are facing.  They are leading on the existential threats to our very society, gun violence prevention, climate change, and so many other issues.  And they clearly already have a stake in this democracy and they should also be able to cast a ballot.

O`DONNELL:  Ayanna Pressley, you are making former congressional staffers so proud because you`re a former household executive staffer --

PRESSLEY:  Yes.

O`DONNELL:   -- former Senate staffer.

PRESSLEY:  That means a lot.

O`DONNELL:  And now you`re in there asking the questions.

PRESSLEY:  Yes.

O`DONNELL:  Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

PRESSLEY:  It`s a pleasure.  Thank you.

O`DONNELL:  Really appreciate it.  Thank you.

And when we come back, the man in the glass house, Donald Trump, ridiculed Beto O`Rourke`s hand gestures of all things and asked us to study Beto O`Rourke`s hand gestures.  We decided to study Donald Trump`s hand gestures instead and that is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL:  Today, from inside Donald Trump`s glass house, he decided to throw this stone at Beto O`Rourke.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER:  Mr. President, any reaction to Beto O`Rourke?  Your reaction to Beto O`Rourke`s announcement today, Mr. President?

TRUMP:  Well, I think he`s got a lot of hand movement.  I`ve never seen so much hand movement.  I said is he crazy or is that just the way he acts?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  The flawlessly oblivious Donald Trump, of course, ever since he started running for president, people around the world have been asking is he crazy or is that just the way he acts?  The president went on to ask that we study Beto O`Rourke`s hand movement.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  So I`ve never seen hand movement.  I watched him a little while this morning doing, I assume, some kind of news conference and I`ve actually never seen anything quite like it.  Study it.  I`m sure you`ll agree.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  OK.  We`ll study it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BETO O`ROURKE:  Any single Democrat running today, and I may not be able to enumerate every single one of them right now, would be far better than the current occupants of the White House.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  And now, let`s study the man in the glass house, who should never throw this stone.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  Hands.  Hands.  I don`t know what I said.  I don`t remember.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  Is he crazy?  That`s what most of the world wonders when they see Donald Trump, whether he`s moving his hands or not.

Also today, Donald Trump said what might be the most insulting thing ever said about Trump voters, that they are violent criminals poised to commit treason.  He didn`t say it in exactly those words.  So when we come back after this break, you be the judge of what Donald Trump meant.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL:  When listening to Donald Trump, you must never forget that he was the man who said Mexico will pay for the wall.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  Mexico will pay for the wall.  Believe me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  So much of what Donald Trump says is a variation on that, a complete fantasy or an outright lie that he knows is untrue.  And I believe that`s what we`re dealing with in a Breitbart interview yesterday where the president said something that many people have now interpreted as threatening a coup, a foreshadowing that he will not leave office if he is impeached or defeated in his re-election campaign.

The president said, "I can tell you, I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump.  I have the tough people.  But they don`t play it tough until they go to a certain point and then it would be very bad, very bad."

Now, I don`t actually believe that the president was threatening a coup or an armed insurrection of some kind in support of Trump as president for life.  I believe that was gibberish from the man who said Mexico will pay for the wall.  I think the full context of his comments actually clarified that.

He went on to say, "The left plays it cuter and tougher like with all the nonsense that they do in Congress." So he`s actually saying Nancy Pelosi is tougher than Bikers for Trump which is probably true.  Bikers actually aren`t what they used to be.

You walk into a Harley-Davidson dealer tomorrow and you`re looking at prices that are the cost of a car, up to $45,000.  And Harley stopped being tough guy transportation decades ago.  There`s a lot of dentists out there now on their Harleys every weekend.  So let`s all relax about Bikers for Trump.

And let`s relax about the 750,000 police officers in America who Donald Trump wrongly believes all support him.  They have never un-holstered their guns because of a presidential election result and they never will.

They have families.  They have children.  They have futures.  They have comfortable retirement benefits coming to them if they put in enough years of service.

In other words, they`re regular Americans with a reliable paycheck and their lives are pretty good.  And even if the majority of them support Trump that leaves at least 300,000 cops in America who do not support Donald Trump.  American police officers are not going to start shooting at each other over Donald Trump.

And let`s relax about the 1.2 million people in the American military.  They`re not going to suddenly start rolling tanks down Pennsylvania Avenue because of an election result.  They are professional.  They are dutiful.  They are not going to make war on Americans or each other for Donald Trump.

Remember, even if the majority of the military support Trump, that leaves hundreds of thousands of military personnel who don`t support Donald Trump.  It feels ridiculous to even have to say any of this out loud.  But Donald Trump has pushed the country to this place, to this level of suspicion about what he wants.

And I`m sure Donald Trump would like to have the police and the military, and Bikers for Trump take up arms if he loses an election but they won`t.  They won`t because they are better people than Donald Trump wants them to be.

They are not violent criminals, ready to commit treason and murder for Donald Trump.  There are not millions of people in America ready to grab their guns and go to war against Americans for Donald Trump.  President trump`s rhetoric has given aid and comfort to hateful murderers in this country.

On August 12th, 2017, a white supremacist drove his car into a crowd of opponents of white supremacists and deliberately murdered Heather Higher.  That was soul-crushing for the country to witness, but it was not contagious.  None of the other Trump supporting white supremacists who shared the feelings of that murderous driver murdered anyone else in Charlottesville.

On October 27, 2018, a heavily armed anti-Semite who believes Donald Trump`s rhetoric about an invasion on our southern border and specifically blamed Jews for the invasion, Donald Trump said was taking over this country entered the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and murdered 11 people.

Donald Trump`s rhetoric helped drive those murders.  So he is already guilty of inciting murderous violence in America.  And we will probably see more of that kind of violence in the age of Trump.  Another Synagogue, another group of protesters against white supremacy, a reporter Donald Trump calls an enemy of the people, we don`t know.

But that, that is worth worrying about.  Not the next presidential transition of power.  Let`s not help Donald Trump fan his imaginary flames.

That`s tonight`s LAST WORD.  "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.

  THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END