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Trump faces primary challenger for 2020. TRANSCRIPT: 4/16/19. The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell.

Guests: Bill Weld, Raja Krishnamoorthi, Tom Malinowski

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

Fisher cat -- I`m just changing my first question. 


O`DONNELL:  I had never heard that scream.  I never heard of that particular creature.  But, of course, of course, Bill Weld would choose something --


O`DONNELL:  -- obscure like that. 

MADDOW:  Seriously.  I mean, points to him on this.  The fisher cat lives in trees.  It`s really big.  It drops down on to its prey.  It kills more than it can eat. 

It`s a ferocious thing.  If you had to pick something to be like your spirit thing for the -- I -- props to him. 

O`DONNELL:  So, Rachel, you know how in pros writing in books we get to use footnotes and that`s kind of, like, wicked difficult to do in this form.  I`m going to do my footnote with you. 


O`DONNELL:  Then I can just go on and do the story without reference to the footnote.  The footnote is Pete McCloskey. 


O`DONNELL:  Pete McCloskey is the Republican who actually challenged Richard Nixon in the primaries, for Richard Nixon`s reelection campaign, but he dropped out right after New Hampshire.  He was challenging him from the left as an anti-war candidate when the Democrats had the anti-war candidate coming through their primaries, George McGovern. 

So, it -- I`m not going to include it in my -- in my -- it`s --

MADDOW:  You`re setting me up to do, like, 45 minutes without a commercial on Pete McCloskey some time in the next few weeks. 

O`DONNELL:  No, no, I`m just leaving McCloskey out of my analysis of the importance and the damage that primary challenges do to incumbent presidents in their re-election campaigns, and that damage is absolutely devastating.  We don`t have -- in my lifetime, a re-elected president who had to survive a primary challenge, other than that Pete McCloskey thing with Nixon.

  These primary challengers like Bill Weld are the first crack in the wall that destroys a presidency on its way to re-election.  You can ask Lyndon Johnson.  You can ask Jimmy Carter.  You can ask George H.W. Bush. 

And we`re going to ask Bill Weld about it tonight.  He may be as a figure in presidential history the one who did the initial damage that stopped the Trump presidency in the re-election campaign. 

MADDOW:  That is -- that is spot on analysis.  All the -- and it`s more powerful by the fact that Bill Weld is so able.  They`re already trying to dismiss him in the president`s re-election campaign, in the White House as being this sort of figure of fun and nobody needs to be taken seriously. 

Bill Weld knows what he`s doing and he`s capable, especially in terms when it comes to articulating stuff that is wrong with the other guy.  I think you`re right.  Go, Lawrence, go. 

O`DONNELL:  Oh, by the way -- 


O`DONNELL:  -- he is currently polling higher than Donald Trump was polling at this point four years ago at the beginning of the presidential campaign.  So, Bill Weld is a factor.  That`s why we`re going to start off with him tonight. 

MADDOW:  Well done, my friend.

O`DONNELL:  And every time I say what you`re going to hear, you`ll know where to put in except Pete McCloskey in little tiny parenthesis that I`m not going to mention. 

MADDOW:  It will be an A block sometime soon over here, Lawrence.  Thanks, Lawrence. 

O`DONNELL:  OK.  Thank you, Rachel. 

Well, at the end of the hour tonight -- I just want to tell you about this now.  At the end of the hour, I am seriously bothered by today`s "New York Times" headline and summary, an exhaustive summary of all the political lies Donald Trump has told about 9/11 in attacking political opponents of his with 9/11. 

And the problem with today`s list is it`s extensive.  It has every single one of them that we all remember, the greatest hits, they`re all in there.  Except the one that I think is the most important one. 

And it is on the verge of becoming Trump`s lost lie.  And we cannot let this lie be lost to history because it is the worst lie, and I mean the worst lie that Donald Trump has ever told about 9/11.  He told it twice.  And then he stopped telling that lie. 

That lie lived for about 24 hours in the Trump campaign, and both times he used it I immediately said it was a lie.  Then he stopped.  When Donald Trump stops, that means he knows how bad that lie is.  We`re going to revisit that lie at the end of this hour. 

But we begin tonight with some very bad news for President Trump`s re- election campaign.  The president of the United States is now facing something we have seen very rarely in American political history and virtually every time it happened, it was the beginning of the road to defeat for the incumbent`s presidential re-election campaign. 

Donald Trump has a challenger in the Republican presidential primaries.  A Republican is finally running against Donald Trump and Trumpism.  A Republican has finally had enough.  And history shows that is the single worst thing that can happen to an incumbent president to be challenged for the nomination within his own party. 

The usual scenario is the challenger inflicts enough damage on the incumbent president during the primary season that the incumbent president cannot win reelection. 

The modern history of this begins in 1968 when Democratic Senator Eugene McCarthy did the unthinkable and announced his candidacy to run in just four presidential primaries against incumbent Democratic President Lyndon Johnson.  Gene McCarthy did not believe that he could defeat Lyndon Johnson for the nomination, but he was running against Lyndon Johnson`s war in Vietnam and he believed his candidacy was the only way for Americans to get a chance to vote against Lyndon Johnson`s war in Vietnam.  He wanted to put Vietnam on the ballot. 

Gene McCarthy scored what was considered a resounding victory in the New Hampshire primary by coming in such a strong second to the president of the United States, and by the end of that week, there was a second challenger to President Lyndon Johnson from within his own party, New York`s Democratic Senator Robert Kennedy jumped into the race against Lyndon Johnson. 

We had never seen anything like this, two power challengers against an all- power incumbent Democratic president who had won a landslide in the last election, and the pressure from these two challenges against the incumbent president forced something no one saw coming, something that shocked the country, the president of the United States giving up, withdrawing from his own re-election campaign. 


LYNDON B. JOHNSON, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT:  I shall not seek and I will not accept the nomination of my party for another term as your president. 


O`DONNELL:  No one who saw that can forget that moment.  And then all hell broke loose in the Democratic campaign.  Bobby Kennedy was assassinated.  Gene McCarthy lost the nomination fight to Vice President Hubert Humphrey, Lyndon Johnson`s chosen successor and the Democrats went on to lose the White House in November. 

Eight years later, it was the Republicans` turn.  California`s former Governor Ronald Reagan challenged Republican President Gerald Ford for the Republican nomination.  President Ford held on to win the nomination and then go down to defeat to President Jimmy Carter. 

Four years later, the Democrats did it again.  Another Kennedy -- Senator Ted Kennedy challenged incumbent Democratic President Jimmy Carter in the Democratic primaries and once again, the president held on to win the nomination of his party, but President Carter was so weakened by the primary challenge that he lost his re-election campaign to Ronald Reagan. 

Ronald Reagan was not challenged in Republican primaries and was re-elected easily, winning 49 states.  When his Republican successor George H.W. Bush ran for re-election in 1992, he was challenged in the Republican primaries by Pat Buchanan.  Pat Buchanan scored a Gene McCarthy-like upset in the New Hampshire primary by coming in a shockingly strong second to the incumbent president of the United States.  But even though Pat Buchanan did not win a single primary, he weakened President Bush`s re-election campaign and his grip on Republican voters to the point where President Bush lost the White House to Democratic challenger Bill Clinton. 

Democratic President Bill Clinton was not challenged by a Democrat in his re-election campaign, and his re-election victory over Republican Bob Dole was never really in doubt. 

The next president, George W. Bush, was not challenged in his re-election campaign by a Republican from within his party, and so was able to hang on for a narrow win over Democrat John Kerry, in President Bush`s re-election campaign. 

Then came the Obama presidency with President Obama facing no challengers in his own party during his re-election campaign.  And so, President Obama went into the general election at full strength and won a solid re-election victory. 

And here we are again tonight with a challenge to an incumbent president from within his own party.  These challengers have always been history- makers.  They have always turned the tide of history against the incumbent president.  So far, they have never been there at the end of the road when the electoral votes are being counted on that Tuesday night in November, but the president in their own party who they challenged in the primaries always ends up on the losing side of the Electoral College. 

Donald Trump`s challenger is a lot more credible than the last one we saw, Pat Buchanan.  He is the former Republican governor of Massachusetts, William Weld, who served two terms as governor.  Prior to that, he served as the U.S. attorney in Boston, the top federal prosecutor in Boston. 

Like Barack Obama, he is a graduate of Harvard Law School and like President Kennedy and a few other presidents, he is a graduate of Harvard College.  Bill Weld is not well-known nationally, but he is already polling at 8 percent among Republicans.  And I know that sound low to you now, but it is higher than what Donald Trump was polling at this point on the campaign calendar four years ago.  At this point in the campaign calendar four years ago, Bernie Sanders was polling at only 8 percent in the Democratic primaries. 

Current polls show Donald Trump with 54 percent of the Republican primary vote, with 8 percent definitely voting for Bill Weld and another 20 percent currently leaning toward Trump, but they could vote for Bill Weld.  Bill Weld is in a position to knock off Donald Trump.  Maybe not stop him from getting the nomination, but history shows challengers like Bill Weld have done damage to presidential nominees that cannot be repaired by Election Day. 

Bill Weld officially launched his presidential campaign yesterday and released this video yesterday. 


AD ANNOUNCER:  Today, we need Bill Weld more than ever, because America deserves better. 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  He`s a war hero because he was captured.  I like people that weren`t captured, OK? 

Uh, I don`t know what I said.  Uh, I don`t remember. 

And Mexico will pay for the wall. 

I moved on her like a (EXPLETIVE DELETED)

You also had people that were very fine people on both sides. 

I love WikiLeaks. 

I know nothing about WikiLeaks. 

AD ANNOUNCER:  America has a choice.  New Hampshire 2019.  A better America starts here. 


O`DONNELL:  Joining us now, the newest entry into the presidential campaign, former Massachusetts Governor William Weld. 

Governor Weld, thank you very much for joining us tonight.  Really appreciate it. 

BILL WELD (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Thank you, Lawrence.  It`s a great pleasure to be with you, as always. 

One point of order.  I actually didn`t compare myself to a fisher cat.  I compared Donald Trump to a fisher cat via sort of a bleak compliment.  I said he has a lot of animal cunning, but then I added so does a fisher cat or a wolverine, which are the two meanest animals in the northeast woods.  And you wouldn`t exactly invite a fisher cat or wolverine home to dinner with the kids.  That`s how the animal came up. 

But Rachel`s right about the animal.  It`s the animal that Rachel Carson brought in to eat all the porcupines on the islands in her novel "Silent Spring". 

O`DONNELL:  All right.  Well, now it`s making a lot more sense.  So you don`t have an official mascot animal for your campaign yet? 

WELD:  No, no, I don`t.  But I`m very serious about this campaign, Lawrence.  I think a lot of permanent damage is being done to our country if nothing changes, the arc of the last two years.  If we have six more years of spending ourselves into bankruptcy without a thought about it and insulting our allies and eroding our military alliances abroad, and cozying up to dictators and insulting everyone who is part of our lattice work of defense, there is no limit to the damage that can be done. 

O`DONNELL:  Now, you`re coming to us from New Hampshire tonight.  That is obviously where you`re going to concentrate, being from the neighboring state of Massachusetts.  You`ve spent all of your life in the region.  You know New Hampshire well.  You know it better than Donald Trump. 

Is it your strategy to try to land one of those Gene McCarthy or Pat Buchanan blows in the New Hampshire primary and then see how far you can get after that? 

WELD:  Well, my strategy is to win several of the New England states outright, one of them, of course, being New Hampshire, and then to go on to the Mid-Atlantic, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, then probably before then, California, Oregon and Washington.  The West is fertile ground.  The president`s barely welcome in California. 

And then parts of the Intermountain West and the Southwest are also good ground for me, after my run three years ago.  Take it from there.  You know, the last -- the last call will be the Rust Belt States.  You`re talking about how to get to a majority. 

  And states like Wisconsin, which the president won, and giving him the victory.  I don`t know, that`s Bob La Follette state.  That`s my kind of Republican and I think I could play well up there as well.  So we`ll see at the end of the day. 

But right now, we`re on day one of my campaign, and I`m already in second place.  How many of those 12, 15 Democrats would give their ITs to be in second place right now? 

O`DONNELL:  That`s right. 

WELD:  I ask you. 

O`DONNELL:  Governor, what is your number one issue -- policy issue that you`re running against Donald Trump with? 

WELD:  I think it probably is the spending.  He hasn`t vetoed a dollar in spending.  As you probably know, Lawrence, I was ranked the number one most fiscally conservative governor in the United States when I was in office.  And I think most Republicans think that we deserve an economic conservative in the White House. 

When I took over the state of Massachusetts, the outgoing administration said that the state was technically bankrupt. 

Well, let me tell you something -- if we keep running trillion-dollar deficits, and now with the president`s new budget another $7.9 trillion, admittedly a ten-year budget, but that would get us up to $30 trillion of accumulated deficit.  If the Chinese stop buying our bonds, we`d be just as insolvent as the state would be if it couldn`t borrow to meet its deficit. 

So, you know, the federal government has to do what households do, which is balance their checkbook.  I see no sign that`s ever going to happen with Donald Trump as president. 

O`DONNELL:  Is it fair to say you will be running as the kind of Republican that you always ran as in Massachusetts? 

WELD:  Well, yes, I mean, it`s no secret that I`m more open and tolerant -- very much so on social issues than the president is.  I made room for everybody.  I reached across the aisle. 

My cabinet was eight women and three men.  It always included minorities.  I reached out not only to the other party, but to Hispanics, South Asian, East Asian, African-Americans, Caribbean Americans, everybody felt included. 

And that`s why we got 71 percent of the vote on my re-elect, having gotten only 50.1 percent coming in. 

O`DONNELL:  And, you know, I remember you something of a showman as governor.  I retain in my visual memory only one image of your entire time as governor, and we`re going to roll the video of it as we speak.  You`ll remember it. 

  You were signing a bill that was about water cleanup and you dove into the Charles River to show your commitment to cleaning polluted water in the area.  And we all saw that brown water splash up around your dive. 

So, you`re someone who is as willing as Donald Trump to embrace the showmanship of campaigning. 

WELD:  Oh, I am a showman, and the other man in that picture when I dove in was Bob Durand, who was secretary of environmental affairs.  He came up to an event I had at the airport diner on Brown Avenue in Manchester today just to show his solidarity with the campaign.  He and I have been hunting and fishing buddies in New Hampshire, among other places, for a long time.  But that`s the kind of friend you`d like to have. 

O`DONNELL:  Governor Weld, we`re just getting started on this conversation.  When you come back, I want you to tell us if you think that Canada is a national security threat.  And we have to have tariffs against Canada imposed by the president of the United States.  And all sorts of other issues I know you want to talk about. 

But as your campaign was launched, I just wanted to note its historical significance in our recent history of challenges within a party of an incumbent president.  So, we wanted to get you on as quickly as we could.  We`ve got other business we have to get to in this hour. 

Governor Bill Weld, thank you for joining us tonight.  Really appreciate it. 

WELD:  Thanks so much, Lawrence. 

O`DONNELL:  And when we come back, two members of Congress will join us on the news of House committee subpoenas of bank records, probably involving - - possibly involving President Trump. 

And Trump staffers are reportedly very worried about what the redacted Mueller report will tell their boss about them. 

And at the end of this hour, Trump`s lost lie -- the lie that "The New York Times" once again forgot to include in its list of lies today that President Trump has told about 9/11.  We cannot let this become Trump`s lost lie.  It is his worst, ugliest lie about 9/11 and possibly the ugliest lie he has ever told.  That`s at the end of this hour.


O`DONNELL:  In a moment, we`ll be joined by two members of the House of Representatives to discuss subpoenas that two House committees have been issuing to financial institutions. 

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Chairman Adam Schiff, released this statement today about those subpoenas: As part of our oversight authority and authorized investigation into allegations of potential foreign influence in the U.S. political process, the House Intelligence Committee today issued subpoenas to multiple financial institutions in coordination with the House Financial Services Committee, including a friendly subpoena to Deutsche Bank, which has been cooperative with the committees.  We look forward to their continued cooperation and compliance.

To try to translate that, joining us now is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Democratic Congressman Tom Malinowski from New Jersey.  We`re also joined by a member of the House Intelligence Committee and the House Oversight Committee, Democratic Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi from Illinois. 

Congressman Krishnamoorthi, what do you know about these subpoenas and what can we know about them that doesn`t violate your pledge of confidentiality of anything classified? 

REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL):  Sure.  Lawrence, thanks for having me on. 

I can`t comment on the specifics of the subpoenas, except I can mention three facts which are publicly known.  One is that Deutsche Bank has lent Donald Trump $2 billion over the last couple of decades, despite the fact that, of course, Donald Trump has suffered numerous bankruptcies. 

Point number two is that Deutsche Bank is a bad actor in the money laundering space.  They were fined $500 million by both U.K. and American regulators for laundering money from Russia to other entities. 

And then the third and final point is that even today, the Trump Organization owes $340 million to Deutsche Bank.  So, you know, it`s a logical next step to try to figure out what is actually going on between the president and his affiliates and Russian or Eastern European entities that might be trying to launder money. 

O`DONNELL:  And what is the phrase "friendly subpoena" mean in this case? 

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  As Chairman Schiff pointed out, they are -- Deutsche Bank is cooperating with the committee right now, but they would not be able to produce this type of information absent a subpoena.  In other words, absent some kind of compulsory process. 

O`DONNELL:  Congressman Malinowski, you`re a veteran of the Obama State Department.  Here you are a freshman Democrat now, who has always had a foreign policy focus. 

Even before these Trump scandals, international banking, international money laundering issues were always a matter of concern for the American government.  What makes -- what do you see in it here that is unique? 

REP. TOM MALINOWSKI (D-NJ):  So, this is -- this is not just about Trump, it`s about the fact that for years, Russian oligarchs have been looting that country, billions and billions of dollars stolen and then laundered through Western banks like Deutsche Bank, laundered through real estate in Europe and the United States, shell companies. 

And this is about protecting our financial system, protecting our democracy against that money.  Fifty-two percent of all the wealth of Russia is outside of Russia.  And what we learned in 2016 is that it`s not just sitting around, they`re doing something with it.  They`re influencing our politics. 

Now, where the administration comes in is like this.  I think it`s really interesting that when somebody is trying to go after Russian money laundering, the president`s kids and lawyers seem to think it`s about them automatically, and that`s a little bit bizarre.  And any normal --

O`DONNELL:  Eric Trump came out and immediately objected to this.  And your response to that? 

MALINOWSKI:  Any normal administration would be working with us to protect our financial system against foreign money laundering and dirty money.  This is not a -- been a partisan issue.  Republicans and Democrats feel equally strongly about it. 

And so, I was kind of stunned that their first reaction was to, well, act as if it`s all about them, when actually it`s about something much bigger, protecting this country against that kind of influence. 

O`DONNELL:  Yes, Congressman Krishnamoorthi, to Congressman Malinowski`s point, there is nothing really in the announcement of these subpoenas that specifically says it`s going after anything Trump, and so it is odd for Eric Trump and others to immediately jump out and say they object to this. 

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  It`s odd but not surprising.  I think right now -- I think Chairman Schiff is doing the right thing and following the rubles, quite frankly.  We need to know why is it that all this money ended up going to Donald Trump from Deutsche Bank, $2 billion, and whether any of it was illicit money from Russia or Eastern Europe. 

Ultimately, Lawrence, this is about counterintelligence.  Regardless of whether the ties between President Trump and his affiliates and Russians or others amount to criminal conspiracy, they might still be the type of information that the Russians could use as a source of leverage or manipulation of the president or his affiliates, and that would endanger national security.  So that goes to our counterintelligence mission as a committee. 

O`DONNELL:  Now, this might be the first time I`ve ever read a tweet from Eric Trump, and could easily be the last.  But it is so strange that, as Congressman Krishnamoorthi mentions it --

MALINOWSKI:  Is it all caps? 

O`DONNELL:  It says: This subpoena is an unprecedented abuse of power and simply the latest attempt by House Democrats to attack the president and our family for political gain.

And, Congressman Malinowski, he doesn`t even know what`s in these subpoenas. 

MALINOWSKI:  Well, maybe he knows something that we don`t know. 

O`DONNELL:  Right. 

MALINOWSKI:  But the point is, Trump or no Trump, this is about protecting the country.  And we`re legislating on this. 

We`re looking at legislation to make it harder to set up these anonymous shell companies, through which anybody can open up a company, you know.  It`s easier to open up a company in Delaware than it is to get a library card in many states.  You need less identification. 

We need to deal with real estate.  The fact that the Patriot Act requires banks to do due diligence when suspicious cash transactions come through, but it exempted real estate, and so, dictators, criminals, drug lords move money through our system by buying real estate. 

O`DONNELL:  That`s a gigantic hole. 

MALINOWSKI:  It`s huge. 


MALINOWSKI:  And so we`ve got to legislate.  And to legislate, we`ve got to know the extent of the problem.  And under normal circumstances, the White House would be working with us to protect the country.  So, why is their first reaction, oh, my gosh, this is directed us?  Interesting.

O`DONNELL:  The subpoenas might have that answer when you get the material.

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi and Congressman Tom Malinowski, thank you both for joining us. 

And when we come back, NBC News is reporting that some White House staffers are now very worried about what the president will discover in the Mueller report about them, meaning what they said about him. 


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST:  There is, quote, breakdown level anxiety, end quote, among some current and former Trump White House officials over the release of the Mueller report.  A redacted version of the report is expected to be released on Thursday, and according to NBC News, Trump staff who speak with Mueller`s team now fear retribution from the president. 

NBC News is reporting, quote: Some of the more than one dozen current and former White House officials who cooperated with the special counsel Robert Mueller are worried that the version of his report expected to be made public on Thursday will expose them as the source of damaging information about President Donald Trump, according to multiple witnesses in the investigation.

Some officials and their lawyers have apparently sought clarity from the Justice Department about redactions and whether Robert Mueller`s team will redact the names of those who cooperated with the investigation.  These officials tell NBC News that the Justice Department has refused to elaborate.  Quote: They got asked questions and told the truth, and now they`re worried the wrath will follow, one former White House official said.

NBC News reports that the officials who are worried are those who said negative things about Donald Trump.  The same former White House official told NBC News, quote: Even if names are redacted or names aren`t in the report to begin with, it could be situations people were asked about and they answered truthfully that at least for some people, specifically the president, would be identifiable because the situation applies to just one person.

Attorney General William Barr stated in his four-page memo last month that the special prosecutor`s team interviewed approximately 500 witnesses throughout the investigation.  NBC News is reporting that President Trump`s legal team met again today to prepare for the report`s release, and the White House staff will do the same over the next two days, which is peculiar because they don`t have the Mueller report yet, right? 

Trump personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani told "Politico" that the president`s, quote, counter-report, as he`s calling it, has been edited already, and is, quote, now at 34 or 35 pages.

Rudy Giuliani did not explain how the Trump team was able to write a counter-report to a report they supposedly have not read.  Or have they? 

After this break, we`ll be joined by a presidential historian who says that the Founding Fathers would have impeached Donald Trump already without ever needing to see a single word of the Mueller report. 

We`ll also be joined by Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Eugene Robinson.  He will join us.  He`ll tell us what he will be looking for on Thursday when he finally gets to read the William Barr redacted version of the Mueller report. 


O`DONNELL:  Presidential historian Jeffrey Ingle writes in "The Washington Post," quote: The Constitution`s authors wouldn`t have needed any summary of the special counsel`s report to know it was time to impeach the president.

Joining our discussion now are Jeffrey Engel, director of Southern Methodist University`s Center for Presidential History and co-author of "Impeachment: An American History".

Also with us, Eugene Robinson, associate editor of "The Washington Post" and a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist.  He is an MSNBC political analyst and he is eerily awaiting his chance at the redacted Mueller report on Thursday. 

Jeffrey Engel, let me start with you and your piece in "The Washington Post" was so striking because you made the point about what the Founding Fathers had in mind by writing the impeachment clause in the first place, and they would have been, in your view, eager -- or certainly ready to use it against Donald Trump or anyone who behaved like Donald Trump. 

JEFFREY ENGEL, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN:  Yes.  And to be clear, I think they would have been very disappointed to have to use it. 


ENGEL:  But, we have to remember how they developed the Office of the Presidency as a Constitutional Convention in 1787 was really with George Washington in mind.  It was expected he was going to be the first president. 

We have to remember why that was.  It wasn`t really he was the best politician or the smartest or to be honest a particularly amazing general, it was because everybody could trust him.  They trusted that he was willing to sacrifice his own needs, sacrifice whatever was needed for the good of the country. 

And any president, they argued, who was unable to put the country first, to put America first and instead sought their own interests was a president who they thought was dangerous.  This actually underlies how they understood their concept of high crimes and misdemeanors.  A high crime doesn`t have to be a crime at all, what it really is an assault or a difficult -- difficult assault against the Constitution itself and the American people. 

O`DONNELL:  Yes.  You quote some of the framers talking about it should be used against anyone who has practiced corruption to win an election, for example.  And here you have a president of the United States who stands accused by federal prosecutors as an unindicted co-conspirator in a scheme to pay off women to keep their silence in the last weeks of the campaign, so that he could be elected president.  That strikes me as something that the Founding Fathers would have found worthy of impeachment, according to your research. 

ENGEL:  Yes, it`s actually quite amazing.  You know, the idea of impeachment came up relatively early in the Constitutional Convention.  For the most part delegates agreed that is something that would be necessary.  But then the tricky question was, well, how do you know a president should be impeached?  When do you know a high crime has occurred? 

And the delegates went through a whole litany of possible reasons a president might want to be removed.  For example, someone who had lied in order to gain office, someone who perhaps was willing to use his pardon powers in order to release people who had broken the law under his instructions from any kind of criminal activity, and essentially, any president who was doing something that was not clearly what was in the best interest of the people. 

And to be clear, they understood that some presidents would be quite terrible.  They had a term for it.  They called it maladministration.  Any president who was just an awful president was not one they thought should be impeached.  It had to be somebody who went a step further and was doing thing that actively hurt the nation out of their own self-interest. 

O`DONNELL:  Gene Robinson, the Democrats, especially as framed by Speaker Pelosi, have always said impeachment or consideration of impeachment has to wait until after the Mueller report.  After the Mueller report is probably going to be some time around noon time on Thursday. 


O`DONNELL:  And so, we could be in a very different impeachment discussion next week.  We don`t know what`s coming.  But on Thursday, we`re all going to be hunkered down, I`m sure you are, devouring the Mueller report. 

What will you go to first?  What is the -- what is the William Barr letter left you wanting to know about first? 

ROBINSON:  Well, the first thing I`ll do is -- is look through to see what is the context of that one quote that the Barr report lifts from the Mueller report about, you know, from -- did not find evidence of a conspiracy between the Russians and the -- and the Trump campaigns -- campaign essentially.  And it`s just that one little sentence. 

So, the first thing I`ll do is try -- is try to find that sentence and find what is the context.  Is it -- is that the sentence that the -- at the end of a long recounting of reasons to believe that shenanigans might have gone on but we can`t quite prove it?  Or is it just a flat-out exoneration, as the -- at the president claims, which I kind of doubt.  But that`s the first thing I`ll do. 

The second thing I`ll do is read deeply into what I expect to be a long section on obstruction of justice.  Robert Mueller didn`t attempt to rule whether the president -- whether or not the president obstructed justice.  William Barr made that decision for him, for the country, I guess, and ultimately for Donald Trump. 

So I want to know what the balance of -- the preponderance of the evidence says about that question, and I`m pretty sure it`s going to say he obstructed justice since he did it in plain sight and we followed just about every step of it or a whole lot of steps of it. 

O`DONNELL:  Yes, Gene, I think we`re going to find a lot of evidence for everything that the special prosecutor was investigating.  The Barr letter used the word "established," and the quotes from Mueller used the word "established" instead of the word "proved."  And I think if they had used the word "proved," it would have been a lot clearer to people. 

When they said that the investigation did not establish that there was collusion, what they mean there legally is they didn`t get it to a level where they could prove a criminal conspiracy in court about collusion, same thing with obstruction of justice.  So it may well be that there is a large menu of evidence for us all to stare at about all of these things. 

ROBINSON:  Yes, that`s true.  And on obstruction in particular, remember, Mueller didn`t even try to make that decision, as we understand it from the Barr report.  He said -- he apparently did not consider it his role to -- to make that call, so -- so Barr made it and now we get to make it, one hopes, if the report is not entirely redacted. 

O`DONNELL:  Eugene Robinson and Jeffrey Engel, thank you both for joining us tonight.  Appreciate it. 

And when we come back, Donald Trump`s worst lie about 9/11 is the one that keeps getting lost in reports about his lies about 9/11, like today`s report in "The New York Times."  And it`s not just his worst lie about 9/11, it is the most perverse lie Donald Trump has ever told. 


O`DONNELL:  Today, "The New York Times" wrote a major story about Donald Trump`s lies titled "Trump`s History of Using 9/11 for Political Attacks".  It contained all of the greatest hits of Trump lies about 9/11 that everyone remembers. 

But as usual, it left out the most egregious lie that Donald Trump has told about 9/11, and he told it twice, both times on TV.  But the torrent of Trump lies was coming so fast and furiously at the time that just about everyone missed it and "The New York Times" missed it today in what was supposed to be a exhaustive survey of Donald Trump`s lies about 9/11 and his use of 9/11 for political attack. 

And so, the newspaper of record, the newspaper historians relies on continues to have a big hole in the record of Trump lies.  It`s Trump`s lost lie. 

Readers of "The New York Times" know-nothing about it but regular viewers of this program do.  We will show you Trump`s lost lie once again after this break. 


O`DONNELL:  As usual today, "The New York Times" left out the big one from its exhaustive multiyear survey of Trump`s history of using 9/11 for political attacks.  And I say "as usual" because "The New York Times" has never mentioned the big lie Donald Trump told about 9/11 in the South Carolina Republican presidential primary debate while attacking Jeb Bush and the Bush family, and every other Republican on that stage with him that night. 

The big lie that "The New York Times" left out of its story today is one I have shown you and talked about on this program four times in the last three years since the day Donald Trump said it in February of 2016 in South Carolina.  That means millions and millions of people have heard me talk about it, have seen it on this program but it still hasn`t found it`s way into the "The New York Times" official record of Trump`s worst lies about 9/11. 

And that means the lost Trump lie is not just lost to "The New York Times," it might end up being lost to history because historians rely on "The New York Times" so much.  The fact that almost the entire American news media never noticed this lie during the presidential campaign is one of the proofs of the American news media`s failure in the coverage of the last presidential campaign. 

Prior to Donald Trump, it is inconceivable that a politician could tell a lie like this and not have it end the candidate`s campaign.  It is as vile a lie as Donald Trump has ever told, and even Donald Trump knows how bad a lie this is because he stopped telling it. 

He told it twice.  Once at the debate and the next morning on TV, and I called him on it both times as soon as he said it, and he never said it again, because even Donald Trump knows just how sacrilegious this lie is. 

Here`s the way he said it the first time. 


DONALD TRUMP (R), THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  How did he keep us safe when the World Trade Center -- the World -- excuse me, I lost hundreds of friends.  The World Trade Center came down during the raid.  He kept us safe.  That`s not safe. 


O`DONNELL:  I lost hundreds of friends. 

The next morning, he didn`t lose hundreds of friends on 9/11.  He had time to read my tweet overnight saying: Of course, Donald Trump lie said about how many friends he lost on 9/11, hundreds of friends.  Proving there`s nothing he won`t lie about. 

Donald Trump was actively responding to my tweets in those days and attacking me and threatening me on Twitter and threatening to see me on Twitter, and so, it`s very likely he saw that tweet.  And so the next morning, hundreds of friends became many friends. 


TRUMP:  How did he keep us safe when the world trade center during his time in office came down?  I was there.  I lost, many, many friends in that tragedy. 


O`DONNELL:  Many, many friends.  I immediately tweeted Donald Trump was lying again and Donald Trump never said that again.  He never said he lost a friend on 9/11 again, not one. 

Now, full disclosure, I didn`t not fact check how many friends Donald Trump lost on 9/11 before tweeting he was lying about that.  I just knew he was lying because I`d been watching Donald Trump long enough to know how he operates, the guy who tells you everything who was his uncle who is a professor at MIT is not going to leave out a friend of his so he can name who died on 9/11. 

And I knew that Donald Trump have never mentioned losing friends on 9/11 before.  You just had to be able to think about Donald Trump to know that he was lying about that. 

Michael Daly did the homework and fact checking for "The Daily Beast".  Michael Daly did not find any proof that Donald Trump attended a single 9/11 funeral, not one.  Donald Trump did not lose a single friend on 9/11.  Donald Trump didn`t go to a single 9/11 funeral, and he told that lie to gain political advantage on a debate stage in South Carolina where he was the only one from New York City, and no one there was smart enough to know he was lying. 

And because this instantly became Trump`s lost lie, he got away with it.  And what he got away with was stealing the grief of the 9/11 families, stealing the grief of the thousands of people who lost fathers and brothers and sisters and grandmothers and dear friends on 9/11.  Donald Trump stole their grief and wrapped himself in it on a debate stage. 

He used it as a weapon on a debate stage to score points against ignorant Republican presidential candidates who didn`t know he was lying.  He stole other people`s grief, 9/11 grief.  And the campaign news media let him get away with it as they let him get away with so much. 

And he got away with it again today when "The New York Times" once again failed in its coverage of Donald Trump by leaving out the sickest, most perverse lie that Donald Trump has ever told.  The man who doesn`t have hundreds of friends, who might not even have any real friends at all, lied about losing hundreds of friends on 9/11 and got away with it. 

The news media isn`t up to this job keeping up with the lies of Donald Trump, so you`re going to have to hold onto this one yourself if you don`t want it to be Trump`s lost lie. 

When your children and grandchildren ask you what is the worst lie that Donald Trump told, you can send them to "The New York Times" archives, but you might also want to have your personal list, the list that includes the time the man who apparently has no idea what human suffering is stole all of the suffering of 9/11 for himself.  He became a thief of grief. 

We owe it to history to not let that remain Trump`s lost lie. 

That`s tonight`s LAST WORD.