RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Thank you for being with us on this fine Friday night. I`m going to spend the weekend chasing shad (ph) and failing to catch them. But I will see you on Monday and if I have any fish stories, I will bring them back for you.
Now, it is time for "The Last Word" with Lawrence O`Donnell. Good evening, Lawrence.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel. It`s only fair for you, though, (INAUDIBLE) like that.
O`DONNELL: That`s very, very generous of you.
MADDOW: They are big part of my demo.
O`DONNELL: So Rachel, Andrew Napolitano, does he still works at Fox News? I saw him say those things yesterday, very convincingly, about the president being guilty of all of this obstruction of justice. And I was just amazed. I ran some of it last night. I assume he is going to need, safe harbor (ph) somewhere very soon.
MADDOW: Well, you know, cable news networks are complicated places and, you know, glass houses and all the rest. I don`t know how things run anywhere else. I barely know how things run here.
MADDOW: But those comments that he made, the reason that I aired those comments tonight is that I thought that he was very succinct and effectively clear --
MADDOW: -- and accurate in the way that he factually described the legal part of the obstruction case. That`s in the Mueller report. And it was tidy and it was from an unusual source. And may the chips fall where they may.
O`DONNELL: Yeah, and I have to say it`s not the first time that he has said things that are counter to the general flow at Fox. He has in the past at several points clung to reasonable positions that were not being held by very many other voices there.
MADDOW: Has also said insane things, including --
O`DONNELL: Yes, absolutely.
MADDOW: -- about this investigation. He was the one who was saying that it was England who was spying on the Trump campaign.
MADDOW: That he had sources that were telling him. I`ve been thinking about that because Trump revived that this past week. He confirmed that he was going to have a state visit to the U.K. and then the next day started ranting again about this Andrew Napolitano conspiracy that England was really the true spy on the Trump campaign, which may to seem like he maybe wanted to get disinvited from his state visit.
But, yeah, Andrew Napolitano in this case is explaining things in a way that I think is very helpful, has also been a complete nut on this same story.
O`DONNELL: Yeah, it`s quite a range of performance.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Well, at the end of the hour tonight, we`re going to talk about what it feels like to live in times when the president of the United States as he did again today, defended people who shouted, "Jews will not replace us." He defended those people again today, saying that some of those people who shouted that are very fine people.
It made me turn today to a passage in Anne Frank`s diary, that I think is the most powerful description of what it feels like, what it feels like to live in the midst of this kind of thing, of this kind of talk, this kind of darkness. Much darker time that Anne Frank lived in but her guidance lives on, and we will come to that at the end of the hour tonight.
There are new details from The Washington Post tonight about how Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was privately briefing President Trump on the Russia investigation during the Russia investigation and assuring the president that he was on -- Rod Rosenstein was on the president`s side.
The Washington Post describes a call between the president and Rod Rosenstein last year after The New York Times report came out that said that Rod Rosenstein had suggested wearing a wire, that him wearing a wire to record the president.
According to The Washington Post, Rosenstein, who by one account had gotten teary-eyed just before call in a meeting with Trump`s chief of staff, sought to defuse the volatile situation and assure the president he was on his team, according to people familiar with the matter.
He criticized the Times report, published in late September, and blamed it on former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, whose recollections formed its basis. Then he talked about special counsel Robert S. Mueller III`s investigation of Russia`s interference in the 2016 election and told the president he would make sure Trump was treated fairly, people familiar with the conversation said.
"I give the investigation credibility," Rosenstein said, in the words of one administration official offering their own characterization of the call. "I can land the plane." In the end, the president didn`t trust Rod Rosenstein to land that plane alone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): Who if anyone outside the Justice Department has seen portions or all of the special counsel`s report? Has anyone in the White House seen any of the report?
WILLIAM BARR, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: You know, I`m not going to - - as I say, I`m landing the plane right now and, you know, I`ve been willing to discuss my -- my -- my letters and the process going forward. But the report is going to be out next week and I`m just not going to get into the details of the process until the plane is on the ground.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The Washington Post reporting tonight says that President Trump eventually decided that Rod Rosenstein was "on the team after all," according to a senior administration official. The Washington Post reports that Rod Rosenstein was willing to resign after the report of him wanting to wear a wire last year. "I can go. I`m ready to go. I can resign. But I don`t want to go out with a tweet," the deputy attorney general said, according to one person`s account.
But according to The Washington Post," Rod Rosenstein met with President Trump aboard Air Force One a few weeks later and ultimately remained at the Justice Department. The Washington Post reports that Rosenstein also told the president more than once that he agreed Trump was being treated unfairly.
The one person familiar with the matter said Rosenstein was probably referring to media coverage rather than the investigation itself. To keep his job, the deputy attorney general has worked to mollify an often angry Trump while at the same time protecting the special counsel`s investigation of the president and his campaign.
In a speech today to the National Rifle Association, President Trump said that he was the victim of an attempted coup. Former CIA Director John Brennan said this about the president`s talk of a coup.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s the president alleging that you among others were in on the act for some kind of an attempted overthrow. How do you respond?
JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER DIRECTOR OF CIA: I don`t think it`s surprising at all that we continue to hear these sociopathic ramblings of Mr. Trump claiming that there was this effort to try to prevent him from being elected or to unseat him. And I welcome any type of, you know, continued investigation in terms of what we did during that period of time that we were in government. I`ve testified in front of Congress.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You would do it again?
BRENNAN: Absolutely I`ll do it again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Leading off our discussion tonight are three Democratic members of Congress, almost a quorum for a subcommittee. Congressman Lloyd Doggett of Texas is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, Congressman Jared Huffman of California who made news on the Democratic conference call this week which we will get to in just a minute, and Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett from the U.S. Virgin Islands. She is a member of the House Oversight Committee. She was also a senior counsel to former Deputy Attorney General James Comey and served as an acting deputy assistant attorney at the Justice Department.
Congresswoman Plaskett, I would like to start with you on your reading of this new information that we`re getting tonight about Rod Rosenstein`s role within the Justice Department where you used to work and his interaction with the president. What is your interpretation of that?
REP. STACEY PLASKETT (D-VI): This is the very reason that members of Congress are asking for an investigation and for testimony notwithstanding the Mueller report being out already. This is subsequent activity that is outside of the report that we need to get to.
You know, as Attorney General Barr said, he`s waiting until the plane has landed. Well, the plane is at the gate now. So, we`re ready for investigations and for him to come back and give us some more detail and substance on the process by which this report was actually made public.
O`DONNELL: And Congressman Doggett, you`ve watched a lot of investigations over your career and here we have this report on Rod Rosenstein tonight, in effect fighting for his job, according to the White House sources, and it sounds like saying whatever he needed to say to hold on to that job with the president.
REP. LLOYD DOGGETT (D-TX): It`s very troubling. And I think what we have to do in Congress is fight for democracy. Seldom in recent decades has democracy faced a danger as great as Donald Trump and his sleazy gang. We have to be there, standing up for democracy, recognizing that Rod Rosenstein and Mr. Barr are not going to be any help here.
I think our patience should be at an end. Investigate. Do it respectfully. But when people do not show up to testify, arrest them. Get the jail ready and get the fines ready to ensure that there`s enforcement.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Huffman, this is our first chance to talk since the reports about Speaker Pelosi`s conference call with Democratic members about how to proceed at this point in the investigations of the president. What can you share with us about your contribution in that call?
REP. JARED HUFFMAN (D-CA): In that call and in other opportunities, my message to colleagues and everyone who will listen to me on this is to think about the downside of not acting in this historic moment that has been forced upon us, really.
I am not haunted by the political uncertainty of moving forward and doing our job under the constitution. I am haunted by the thought of not doing that job, especially as the lawlessness and defiance from this president continues unfolding every day.
O`DONNELL: I want to read a report in Yahoo News from Paul Rosenzweig, who was part of Ken Starr`s special prosecutor team, prosecuting -- basically going after President Clinton which led to President Clinton`s impeachment. "Paul Rosenzweig, who served as a senior counsel to Ken Starr, said that a significant number of his former colleagues from the independent counsel office share his views. My view is that there`s ample reason right now for the House Judiciary Committee to begin an impeachment inquiry and if it were up to me, I would recommend them to impeach," said Rosenzweig.
Congresswoman Plaskett, your reaction to that.
PLASKETT: You know, that`s an opinion, and I think we are using our constitutional authority as well as our constitutional obligation to investigate. There`s no constitutional obligation to impeach a president. There is a constitutional obligation for us to be a check and balance which I think we`re being. And I don`t want us to fall into the same trap that this White House falls into and many of the officials in there that they feel that they have to make themself heard and make themself known.
The actions of Rosenstein, the actions of Barr are so outside the norms of normal prosecutors that I think the American people want us to move cautiously, want to us give them the full details, but not to be champing at the bit to make ourselves heard and to have our place in history in this time.
I think that they want to us to investigate, but they also want us to legislate at the same time. And there are many things that are going on in Congress that the people of this country are not hearing about, because we`ve become obsessed with what`s happening in the Mueller report and with this president in every tweet and every turn that he makes us follow.
O`DONNELL: I want to take a look at two items in a new Washington Post poll. One is 58 percent saying that yes, Donald Trump lied about matters involving the Mueller investigation, 58 percent saying the president lied. And then, on the other side of it, the question of, should Congress begin impeachment proceedings? And this is the same group that`s 58 percent of whom said the president lied.
Only 38 -- sorry, 37 percent say that Congress should begin impeachment proceedings, 56 percent saying they should not begin. Congressman Doggett, what is your reaction to those polls?
DOGGETT: Well, I think that Donald Trump has clearly committed impeachable offenses. And that every day he is in office, the danger to the security of America grows. The job we have is to see that he`s out of office as quickly as possible. But with every Republican except Mitt Romney refusing to even recognize the wrongdoing it may be that the most effective and clearest path to doing that is the 2020 election, not impeachment.
At the same time, this is about more than Donald Trump. We really are making a decision here about lawlessness from the chief executive of this country. We`re setting a standard that applies not only this year but for future presidents. I`m troubled. I would not take impeachment off the table. I think we need to investigate promptly and thoroughly and then make a decision about that.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Huffman, how much is the calendar one of the problems here? We`re 18 months away from an election that could change the presidency. When we`ve looked at impeachment proceedings in the past, once you start with hearings in the Judiciary Committee, we`re talking the better part of the year.
If they started next week, it would probably take the rest of this year. They`re obviously not going to start next week nor would they probably be starting next month. And so the calendar seems to be a significant factor in trying to come up with a plan in the House of Representatives.
HUFFMAN: It`s certainly a challenge. But Lawrence, I agree with my colleagues. How we do this matters. And I want to be very clear. Nobody I know of is proposing that we just rush right to an impeachment vote on the floor of the House. We do need to have sober and thoughtful and transparent hearings. We need to make our case to the American people.
All of these references to polls. Let`s remember that public opinion is not static. It can change. Our constitutional duty is a lot more static. And I would argue that when you`re presented with the kind of facts that we see before us in this situation, you have an obligation to move forward.
I think a lot of that is happening in the context of these investigations. I`m one member of Congress who feels like it probably should be in the context of an actual impeachment inquiry but the investigations are moving, they`re moving with urgency. I can live with that for now.
O`DONNELL: And Congresswoman Plaskett, as a member of the Oversight Committee, your commit is in a normal mode is in investigative mode. It`s the one committee that is almost always in investigative mode. And so your committee is going to be acting in an investigative mode whether the Judiciary Committee is or isn`t. How do you coordinate the different tracks of investigation that the various committees are following?
PLASKETT: I think that the chairs of the committees are doing a fantastic job with that under the leadership of Speaker Pelosi and really making sure that they each are staying within their lanes, whether that`s Congressman Doggett in Ways and Means in looking at tax issues, the Judiciary Committee looking at the issues that they oversight over, and Oversight who really fall under the umbrella of pretty much all of government making sure that we`re picking up the pieces, as well.
You know, we`re already looking at emoluments claws violations as well as campaign finance, along with -- in terms of the obstruction of justice issues. So all of those things, I think, are going to be going on in parallel tracks. And I agree wholeheartedly with my colleagues that we are going to be methodical about this, we`re going to be thoughtful about this, and we`re going to leave nothing unturned.
Individuals will have to answer to our committees, whether they try and avoid subpoenas or not. We are going to meet our constitutional obligation and let the chips fall where they may. And we believe that the courts are going to back us up, whether those be fines compelling them to appear or jail time if necessary.
O`DONNELL: I want to get to the subpoena question. Can you all stay with us for across the next commercial break? Because this subpoena question that Congresswoman Plaskett has just brought up is the important one. That will tell us a lot about the calendar, how much delay is involved in that subpoena, evasion game that the administration is playing.
So if you could please all stay with us. We`re going to go to commercial break now. That will give us enough time to do that subject justice when we come back from this break. And when we come back, we will get to the subpoena issue. We will be right back.
O`DONNELL: President Trump seems to think the Trump administration has given more than enough testimony about Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I let White House Counsel McGahn testify. I let everybody testify. I think McGahn -- excuse me. I think McGahn was in there for 30 hours. Whoever heard of such a thing? But I said I want everybody to testify.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: But now the president seems to be trying to stop everybody from testifying. Donald Trump`s refusal to cooperate with congressional investigations is forcing Democrats to examine increasingly aggressive legal options to enforce their oversight authority. House Democrats warn that Trump officials who refuse to comply with subpoenas could be held in contempt of Congress, fined up to $25,000 a day, possibly even jailed.
As happened in the Watergate investigation. The threat happened in the Watergate investigation when President Nixon tried to prevent his aides from testifying. Senator Sam Ervin, chairman of the Watergate Investigation Committee, threatened arrest of White House staff if they did not testify to the Watergate Committee, and then they did testify to the Watergate Committee.
This week, Donald Trump has stonewalled subpoenas and document demands from committees investigating Trump`s tax returns, the 2020 census, the recent firings from the Department of Homeland Security. Tonight, the White House agreed to a Republican proposal to allow Carl Kline, the former head of personnel security, to sit for a voluntary transcribed interview to answer questions about how security clearances were granted to officials like Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.
But that is not what Chairman Elijah Cummings was requested. He wanted Kline to testify before the House Oversight Committee. And there`s also no sign that the Democrats will actually accept this proposal because there is a scheduling conflict that that would represent with Attorney General William Barr`s testimony on Wednesday.
We`re back with Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett, Congressman Lloyd Doggett, and Congressman Jared Huffman. Congressman Doggett, I want to ask you about the tax return issue, because that`s -- you`re chairman of Ways and Means, you`re on Ways and Means Committee. Chairman Richie Neal has the absolute legal authority to see any tax return he wants to see. That`s written into law very clearly. What is the status tonight of that demand by Chairman Neal?
DOGGETT: Well, it`s really up to Chairman Neal now that he`s been denied not once but twice. Each of these letters is just about running out the clock as you`ve been saying. They`re trying to delay. This May 6th deadline is phony. I hope that Chairman Neal will move forward expeditiously to get these returns.
And whether it`s there or someone who refuses to come in front of the Oversight Committee or the Judiciary Committee, I think really the House needs to explore contracting for jail space.
We need to send a message that this is not going to be putting people up at the Willard Hotel that they`ll be there with the common criminals arrested if they do not comply with the inherent power of Congress to subpoena records and to subpoena people to come in. And whether it`s through arrest and jailing or through daily fines we intend to enforce these provisions and we`re not going to let them run out the clock.
O`DONNELL: And so now, President Trump is saying he doesn`t want Don McGahn to respond to Chairman Nadler`s subpoena to testify to the Judiciary Committee, but Donald Trump now wants to publicly testify about Don McGahn`s testimony. Let`s listen to what the president said today about Don McGahn`s testimony.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I never told Don McGahn to fire Mueller. If I wanted to fire Mueller, I would have done it myself. It`s very simple. I had the right to. And frankly, whether I did or he did, we had the absolute right to fire Mueller.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: So Congresswoman Plaskett, that`s the president of the United States accusing former White House counsel Don McGahn of lying under oath to special counsel Robert Mueller, because the Mueller report says that Don McGahn did indeed tell them that Donald Trump told him to fire Robert Mueller. And so how can Don McGahn now not testify to the Judiciary Committee now that the president is out there repeatedly, this isn`t the first time, saying that Don McGahn in effect lied to the special counsel?
PLASKETT: Well, I`m sure the committees are going to be asking Attorney McGahn -- Mr. McGahn to give to justify what he said and to really try and firm up those statements. But I want everybody to remember that the president is not speaking under oath when he`s talking to the press. And when he answered questions that the special counsel gave him, he only answered the questions related to the Russia investigation and refused to answer any questions related to the obstruction of justice.
So we have no statements from the president under oath written under the investigation that relate to the obstruction of justice. And until he does so, his word can`t be taken as being truthful at this point.
O`DONNELL: And Congressman Huffman, what`s so important about what Congresswoman Plaskett just said is that one of the questions the president obviously would have been asked is, did you call up Don McGahn twice on a weekend and twice tell him to fire the special prosecutor? In other words, he would have been asked to say what he said today under oath.
HUFFMAN: Well, and the only thing we have from this president under oath are his written answers where he suddenly came down with a terrible case of amnesia every time he was asked a question. This president is not interested in going under oath and being transparent. He`s certainly not interested in being accountable to the rule of law. I think it is gut check time for the United States Congress. He is testing us. He is trying to see if we have the stomach to do our job and to enforce the law. It`s a heck of a moment.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Doggett, what about the timetable on subpoena and subpoena enforcement, what does that look like?
DOGGETT: Well, we need to move forward expeditiously. When the chief of staff for the president says we`ll never get the tax returns, we don`t need to hear much more. We should be ready to move forward on it. When the president says he`ll erect stonewall here and won`t permit anyone to testify, let`s get the subpoenas out. Let`s set a short timetable on them, get them over there, and ask them to tell the truth.
I believe some of these officials will decide to comply with the subpoenas instead of complying with a president who is a man of his last word and who lies about everything. And they shouldn`t expose themselves to jail time and criminal fines because of willingness to follow this man.
O`DONNELL: Thank you all very much for joining and staying for some extra time here on our Friday night hearing. Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett, Congressman Lloyd Doggett, and Congressman Jared Huffman, thank you all very much for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it.
PLASKETT: Thanks for having us.
O`DONNELL: Thank you. Today, Donald Trump once again stuck to his belief that people who were shouting "Jews will not replace us" are very fine people, because they all love General Robert E. Lee just as much as Donald Trump does. That`s next.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: The Trump re-election campaign responded today to what Joe Biden said yesterday in his campaign announcement video about the aftermath of the deadly confrontation in Charlottesville two years ago when one of the members of a racist anti-Semitic mob used his car to kill Heather Heyer. One of the people who was protesting the racist anti-Semitic mob that gathered in Charlottesville to chant racist, anti- Semitic poison.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And that`s when we heard the words of the president of the United States that stunned the world and shocked the conscience of this nation. He said there were, quote, "Some very fine people on both sides." Very fine people on both sides? With those words, the president of the United States assigned a moral equivalence between those spreading hate and those with the courage to stand against it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And here was the Trump re-election campaign`s response to Joe Biden today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you look at what I said, you will see that that question was answered perfectly. And I was talking about people that went because they felt very strongly about the monument to Robert E. Lee, a great general. Whether you like it or not, he was one of the great generals.
I have spoken to many generals here right at the White House and many people thought of the generals, they think that he was maybe their favorite general. People were there protesting the taking down of the monument of Robert E. Lee. Everybody knows that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Favorite general? I don`t know. I like generals who don`t kill Americans. And Robert E. Lee killed more Americans than any general in any army in the history of the world. And every day that Robert E. Lee was killing hundreds of thousands of Americans and ordering hundreds of thousands of Americans to their deaths in hopeless battle against the United States of America, Robert E. Lee was committing treason against the United States of America. And every day Robert E. Lee was killing hundreds of thousands of Americans he was also a slave owner who tortured his slaves.
And Donald Trump is right that the people he said were very fine people were in Charlottesville to, among other things, worship Robert E. Lee specifically because Robert E. Lee killed hundreds of thousands of Americans so that he could continue to be a slave owner who could continue to torture his slaves whenever he felt like it.
That`s what Donald Trump`s very fine people love about Robert E. Lee. Some of them say they have no problem with killing Americans. One of them did kill an American in Charlottesville. Heather Heyer. One of the leaders of the racist anti-Semitic mob that Donald Trump says includes some very fine people told Vice News, quote, "We`ll effing kill these people if we have to," and after he said that, Heather Heyer was killed. One of them did exactly what that man said they would do.
Donald Trump said today exactly, exactly what he would have said if he were the president of the Confederate States of America instead of the United States of America. And after this break, we`ll be joined by Ron Klain and Aisha Moodie-Mills to consider how Donald Trump`s offensive behavior and comments as president will now be catching up to him in the presidential campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You also had people that were very fine people on both sides. You had people in that group -- excuse me, excuse me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: He has not been excused. And now the presidential candidates are coming at him for what he has actually said and done as president of the United States.
Joining our discussion now Ron Klain, a senior aide to Vice President Biden and to President Obama when they were in the White House, and Democratic strategist Aisha Moodie-Mills. She`s a fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard`s Kennedy School.
And Aisha, the president today said that he got that answer perfectly right. He didn`t repeat it. He didn`t go into the same words again, but what he`s saying was right was that there were very fine people on both sides which means he believes that some of those people who we saw chanting "Jews will not replace us" and other things were very fine people.
AISHA MOODIE-MILLS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I mean, this is a pattern of the president, right? Where he embraces white supremacists, he embraces Nazi sympathizers, and then says, oh well, you know, they`re all kind of fine people.
Here`s the challenge that we have not. Lawrence, is that we have not yet reconciled in America the fact that the civil war was about something that was far deeper than the economic condition of the South that we like to talk about. And that absolutely was a fundamental moral test for us around how we think about certain communities in this country. And we`ve never really faced that head-on.
We`ve never really dealt with and talked about the legacy of racism, of anti-Semitic sentiment. And the president is not in any position to want to even have that conversation. I think it`s important for us to understand our history and to be reminded that that rally that happened there in Charlottesville was created by white supremacists.
The entire intention of it was an opportunity to show strength among people who believe in white power. It wasn`t simply about a monument. In fact, in the organizing of it very little conversation was being had around the Robert E. Lee monument. And I think that, you know, it`s important for us to use this moment to actually confront head on what was this is time period about, what was this war about, who were these people, and I`m so thankful to you for actually in your previous monologue talking about the fact that this is someone who killed more Americans on American soil than anyone else.
And yet there are still people who have reverence for them. That`s a real conversation and a real soul searching that we should be having as a nation. I think it`s important.
O`DONNELL: Yes. So, Ron Klain, the president talks about favorite generals today. He can`t think of any from World War II who liberated the Nazi death camps. He can`t think of any of those generals. He thinks of the treasonous Robert E. Lee who killed more Americans than any other general in history.
RON KLAIN, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Yes, you know, it`s really amazing on a lot of levels, Lawrence. I mean, first of all I think you see the consequence of Vice President Biden and other Democrats putting pressure on Trump on some of his statements. And you see him default back to his two core competencies, spreading hatred and spreading lies.
You know, Trump elevating a slave owning treasonous general as a hero which he obviously is not and then telling this lie that many active generals tell him all the time Lee is their favorite general. You know, and obviously that`s not true and the White House can`t provide any names of generals who say that.
And so, you know, this is a president who got to the White House by spreading hatred and spreading lies who maintains power by spreading hatred and spreading lies, and is going to run a campaign in 2020 of spreading hatred and spreading lies. And it`s important for Democrats to stand up to that and I think -- and I think they are.
O`DONNELL: Let`s look at Bill Weld`s campaign announcement video. This is the Republican who is running against Donald Trump in the Republican primaries and his announcement video hit the president on a larger range of issues than Joe Biden did. Let`s watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today we need Bill Weld more than ever. Because America deserves better.
TRUMP: He`s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren`t captured, OK.
I don`t know what I said. I don`t remember.
I moved on her like a (EXPLETIVE DELETED). I couldn`t get there and she was married.
And when you`re a star they let you do it. You can do anything.
BILLY BUSH, FORMER HOST, "ACCESS HOLLYWOOD": Whatever you want.
TRUMP: Grab them by the (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
You also had people that were very fine people on both sides.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And that`s always the worst one, Aisha. Very fine people on both sides.
MOODIE-MILLS: Well, it`s all bad. I don`t know at this point I can say there`s a worse one because it`s all bad. You know, I -- the Republicans are really, really showing up as hypocrites right now. This was a party of so-called family values to hear them tell it. When you watch those clips and you look at how the person that they put in the White House that they revered so many of the leaders who frankly led through a moral compass, refused to push back against, this man is certainly hanging out with racists and white supremacists, or at least white supremacists and racists and Nazis think that he is one of them.
He is defiling women in the worst way. He`s making fun of people with different disabilities and no one`s saying anything on his side. So for Bill Weld to run this ad I think it`s really great and important. And I`m hoping, I`m hoping that the moral center of the Republican Party rises up and looks at this and says, yes, this isn`t quite who we want to be. This isn`t someone that represents our values.
O`DONNELL: Such a great point, Aisha, because when Donald Trump first said there were very fine people on both sides, there was some Republican objection to that. There were some Republicans who then stepped up and said he`s not speaking for me on that. But none today. The president can say it again a couple of years later and now that he`s in campaign mode, there won`t be a single Republican who objects to the way he said that today.
KLAIN: Aisha is right. I mean, one thing we`ve seen over the past years is really the collapse of the moral center of the Republican Party whether it`s Mitt Romney being the only one to take Trump to task for the Mueller report and others who criticize different of his positions during the 2016 campaign. Now falling fully into line.
This is Donald Trump`s Republican Party. Bill Weld notwithstanding. And they are going to re-nominate Donald Trump and they are going to run Donald Trump and run behind Donald Trump on the agenda of a man who believes that Robert Lee is a great hero. Of a man who believes that there were fine people on both sides in Charlottesville. And you know, as Vice President Biden said this is a battle for the soul of America.
It is a battle for the soul of America. And we`re going to have to make a decision as a country as to which side we`re on. We know what side Donald Trump`s on. We know what side his supporters are on that line up behind this agenda and we need to make it clear what side the majority of the American people are on.
[22:45:07] O`DONNELL: We`re going to leave it there. But before we do, let me just make one point about Bill Weld and the reason I keep bringing him back into these conversations. History shows that when a president is challenged from within his own party, in the primaries, if that challenger stays in the racist just beyond New Hampshire, that president will lose in the general election.
It`s just an automatic formula at this point. It`s never been defied. And so people who are hoping for a change in presidency should be paying attention to the Weld campaign as well as those Democratic campaigns.
Aisha Moodie-Mills, Ron Klain, thank you both very much for joining us on this Friday night. Really appreciate it. Thanks a lot.
KLAIN: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, at the end of the hour, we will just stop the news talk for a couple minutes to just consider what it feels like to live in a country where the president says that some of the people who shouted Jews will not replace us are very fine people. What does it feel like to live in that kind of darkness?
There are some historical models for us to look to and we will do that at the end of the hour tonight.
O`DONNELL: Here`s Lindsey Graham talking about why the president should be impeached.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): He doesn`t have to say go lie for me to be a crime. You don`t have to say let`s obstruct justice for it to be a crime. You judge people on their conduct, not magic phrases.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[22:50:08] O`DONNELL: And of course Lindsey Graham is completely right about that. You don`t have to say let`s obstruct justice for it to be a crime. But that was 20 years ago, and Lindsey Graham was talking about a Democratic president, and now that we have a Republican president who a Republican special counsel has caught doing much worse things, Lindsey Graham doesn`t believe what Lindsey Graham used to believe.
Once again today the president of the United States defended some people who are very, very clear about what they believe. They could not be more clear or more emphatic or more consistent. They are the people who shout the Nazi slogan "blood and soil" and "Jews will not replace us."
After this final commercial break here, we will consider what it feels like to live in a country where the president supports people who shout "Jews will not replace us." The news media has handled that as a news story and we`ve covered it extensively here as a news story. But let`s stop this time and allow ourselves to feel the impact of those words and what it feels like to live in a country that has a president who defends America`s 21st century Nazis. That is next.
O`DONNELL: Imagine you`re a 14-year-old in America tonight and the first presidency you remember, the presidency you grew up with was Barack Obama`s presidency. A president with the full range of admirable personal qualities, intelligence, kindness, grace, eloquence. Then came President Trump when you were 12 years old.
And if you really liked President Obama, of loved him, and if you agreed with what you know about President Obama`s policies and agreed with what you believed he was trying to do for America, the last couple of years have been the darkest years in American history as you have personally experienced it if you`re 14 years old.
So how does that feel? How does darkness feel? America was in a very dark place when I was 14 years old and it was getting darker. The body count in Vietnam was skyrocketing, my oldest brother was worried about getting drafted and sent to Vietnam to be killed. My cousin Johnny was finishing West Point and eager to start combat training for Vietnam where he killed on May 9th, 1968.
That was the war of my youth. The war where most American men did everything they possibly could to avoid service in that war. A draft card in your pocket felt like a death sentence. I remember people talking about avoiding service in the war or protesting the war, and a few people like my cousin Johnny talking about why they wanted to serve in the war, but I never heard anyone talk about after the war. No talk about after the war.
The darkness of the war was so complete that the generals fighting the war and the reporters covering the war talked about the light at the end of the tunnel and whether we could see it or not. And none of us could see it. But it was such a dark time that the most optimistic phrasing you could get out of our commanders in the Vietnam War was that they could see sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel.
The light at the end of the tunnel that they could see and we couldn`t gave us no hope in the darkness. And I know that`s the way these days feel for some people. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Eighteen months from now you are guaranteed an end to the darkness of Trumpism and a president who defends people who say Jews will not replace us. Just 18 months from now if enough people turn up to vote to change the presidency.
And as of tonight that is very likely to happen. You live on a country where most people disapprove of Donald Trump and most people have disapproved of Donald Trump every single day of his presidency, especially the days he defends Nazis and racists. And I can`t promise you that Donald Trump won`t be reelected, but you do not have the right to pretend that you can`t see the light at the end of that tunnel that`s just 18 months away.
If the end of the Vietnam War had been just 18 months away when I was 14 years old, then my cousin Johnny would be alive today. He`d probably be a grandfather today. At any point in my teenage years, if you told me that the end of the Vietnam War was just 18 months away, I would have been thrilled. I would have been filled with optimism about the future and about what this country could be after the Vietnam War.
But that`s not what it felt like then. That`s not what I felt like. I felt what many of you, certainly many 14-year-olds, might be feeling tonight on a night when once again the president of the United States defended these people.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: Jews will not replace us. Jews will not replace us. Jews will not replace us. Blood and soil. Blood and soil.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Some of them were very fine people the president said. They all shouted "Jews will not replace us." All of them, and Donald Trump says that some of them are very fine people.
It was a dark day in America when that happened and it was a dark moment in America again today when the president defended those people, defended his words about those people again today.
The most powerful description I`ve ever read of what it feels like to live in the middle of a dark period was written by a 14-year-old girl in her diary, on Monday evening, November 8th, 1943. Anne Frank was living with her family in hiding in an attic in Amsterdam, living in fear that the Nazis could barge in at any moment. That night she wrote, "I simply can`t imagine the world will ever be normal again for us. I do talk about after the war, but it`s as if I were talking about a castle in the air, something that could never come true."
The castle in the air was only 18 months away when Anne Frank wrote that. The war in Europe ended 18 months after Anne Frank wrote that after the war felt like something that could never come true. It never did come true for Anne. She died in a Nazi prison camp just a few months before the end of the war.
Anne Frank should be with us tonight as a 90-year-old great grandmother who could tell us that we`ve seen darker days than these. But she left us her diary and she left us her strength, and those of us who`ve lived long enough know that 18 months is not too long of a time to have to wait for a castle in the air.
That`s tonight`s LAST WORD. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.