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Nadler's ultimatum to Barr. TRANSCRIPT: 5/3/19, The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell.

Guests: David Cicilline, Tom Nichols; Evan McMullin


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  All right, busy Friday, busy week, busy weekend ahead. Keep in mind that Monday is not only the day that Michael Cohen reports to prison, it is the deadline set by the Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler for the Justice Department to hand over the unredacted Mueller report, 9:00 a.m. Monday is the deadline.

Today, Nadler said the committee will move to contempt proceedings if the Justice Department doesn`t comply. Monday is also the treasury secretary`s deadline for telling the Congress whether he`s going to give them presidential tax returns or not.

There`s a lot going on right now. There`s a lot to worry about over the weekend. But Monday and Tuesday are going to be a little bit nuts as well. So, stay on your toes.

That does it for us tonight. We`ll see you again on Monday. Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" with Joy Reid, filling in for Lawrence tonight. Good evening, Joy.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Rachel. First of all, stipulating that Monday is normally my Saturday --

MADDOW:  Yeah.

REID:  -- so typically I would be asleep until like 10-ish.

MADDOW:  Yeah.

REID:  But I`m going to be up --

MADDOW:  I know.


REID:  -- because those deadlines are like weighing on my soul. I cannot wait to see A, whether or not any compliance happens, it probably won`t, but also what the Democrats do about it. There has really been this conundrum where the Democrats don`t seem ready to do the max, like the things they could do.

MADDOW:  Well, I mean, especially with Nadler. You get the sense -- Charlie Savage had a good piece about this in the Times today. You get the sense that he is sort of filling in the record for a future court for a future federal judge who will be looking at his behavior and who will want to see evidence that he did everything possible to come to a negotiated solution that he gave them every out.

I mean, to a certain point, you know, you can bend over backwards until you`re facing forward again. Monday`s deadlines -- I mean, it`s the IRS deadline.

REID:  Yeah.

MADDOW:  That`s a statutory deadline.

REID:  Yup.

MADDOW:  There`s the contempt deadline in terms of getting that report. There`s Cohen turning up to prison. That was the original deadline for the Deutsche Bank subpoenas. I mean, all of this stuff is coming through. Don McGahn`s document subpoena is due on Tuesday.

REID:  Yup. And it`s Michael Cohen`s day that he has to report. There is so much going on Monday. But it is interesting because you make a good point. It feels like the Democrats are playing to an audience of one, one guy named John Roberts.

MADDOW:  Yeah.

REID:  If any of this ends up in the Supreme Court, to your point, they may want to have shown, look, we dotted every "I," we dotted every "T," we weren`t out to get this guy, we really had no choice.

MADDOW:  Yes. I think that`s exactly right. And you have to balance that at some point, right?

REID:  Yeah.

MADDOW:  Clearly, what the president is doing, which is just exactly what Nixon was doing in `74, is playing for time.

REID:  That`s right.

MADDOW:  Try to delay, try to delay, try to delay.

REID:  Yup.

MADDOW:  I hope that some other eventuality pops up --

REID:  Yup.

MADDOW:  -- that makes the delay worth it. You know, the Democrats right now are allowing those delays to happen.

REID:  They are.

MADDOW:  At some point, those two interests will diverge --

REID:  Yup.

MADDOW:  -- and the Democrats will decide to finally drop the hammer. They`ll have to.

REID:  Yeah. As somebody that I really love once said, watch the space.

MADDOW:  Watch the space all the time.


MADDOW:  I wonder who that is.

REID:  It`s you. Rachel Maddow, have a great weekend.

MADDOW:  Thanks, Joy. Bye.

REID:  Bye. Well, I`m Joy Reid, in for Lawrence O`Donnell. OK, picture this. You are the president of the United States. You`ve taken an hour-long phone call with the president of Russia, the man who launched a cyber war against the United States in an attempt to dictate the outcome of the presidential election in which you became president.

What might be your big takeaways from that conversation? And what might you want the country that you`re ostensibly leading to know about it? If you`re Donald Trump, it`s that the Russian president smiled during the call.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over):  Mr. President, did you address the election meddling issues that came up in the Mueller report with Mr. Putin today?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  We just got steady. Actually sort of smiled when he said something to the effect that it started off as a mountain and it ended up being a mouse. But he knew that because he knew there was no collusion whatsoever. So, pretty much that`s what it was.


REID:  He actually sort of smiled. That was the actual scene today in the Oval Office, where Donald Trump speaking to reporters or more like speaking at them, recounted a call he had this morning with Vladimir Putin.

The White House actually had to clarify later that it wasn`t a video call. So it`s not clear how Trump knew Putin was smiling. Maybe he just felt it in his spirit. Now, we could think of one reason why Putin might be smiling during that phone call.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over):  Mr. President, did you tell him not to meddle in the next election?

TRUMP:  Excuse me, I`m talking -- I`m answering this question. You are very rude. So we had a good conversation about many different things. OK?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over):  Did you tell him not to meddle in the next election?

TRUMP:  We didn`t discuss that.


REID:  Robert Mueller`s 22-month long investigation concluded that "The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systemic fashion and that the Trump campaign sought to benefit from what Russia did."

The fact that the president apparently has no time or interest confronting Vladimir Putin about Russian meddling in future American elections should raise alarm bells, and it`s not just because per two years of reporting, Trump will do almost anything to avoid talking about Russian interference because it makes him feel insecure about the legitimacy of his election, and per that reporting, White House officials have been only too happy to oblige.

The New York Times reported last week that then Homeland Security secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, was instructed not to bring up Russian interference in Trump`s presence even as she was tasked with ensuring the security of the 2020 elections.

And one former senior intelligence official told The Washington Post in 2017 that mentions of Russian interference, take meetings with Trump "off the rails." One explanation for this is that despite the unanimous agreement of his intelligence services and a 400-plus page report from the special counsel, Trump simply doesn`t believe Russian interference happened, apparently because per his solicitous performance in Helsinki last year, Putin told him so.


TRUMP:  I have President Putin. He just said it`s not Russia. I will say this. I don`t see any reason why it would be. I have great confidence in my intelligence people. But I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.


REID:  The more alarming explanation is that again, as was detailed in the Mueller report, Trump`s campaign sought to benefit from Russian interference. The Mueller report detailed how Russia`s Facebook efforts reached more than 100 million people, targeting voters they hoped would disenfranchise themselves by staying home and not voting. Mueller wrote about how Russia organized pro-Trump rallies and attempted to find numerous points of contact on the Trump campaign.

You think a president not seeking to benefit from that kind of activity again in 2020 might do the release of the Mueller report as an ideal opportunity to readdress the issue with Putin to get tough and show the country that whatever you think of his campaign in 2016, a Donald Trump administration will not stand for any kind of interference in our election. You would think.

But as The Washington Post`s Aaron Blake writes, none of that was apparently worthy of Trump`s time when he had a chance to talk to the man who U.S. Intelligence says was behind it all. Clearly though, there`s something that Trump wanted to talk about with Putin. Kremlin said that the conversation was at Trump`s initiative. And Russian news agency, TASS, which released this photo of Putin during his call with Trump, reported that "The conversation lasted for almost 1.5 hours."

If that reporting is true, then Donald Trump had nearly 90 minutes to confront Vladimir Putin and warn him not to interfere in our elections. Trump didn`t say a thing, until the question we`re left with tonight is why not.


TRUMP:  Getting along with Russia and China. Getting along with all of them is a very good thing. Not a bad thing. It`s a good thing. It`s a positive thing. Getting along with other countries, including your country, by the way, but getting along with countries is a good thing. And we want to have good relationships with every country.


REID:  Leading off our discussion tonight: Frank Figliuzzi, former FBI assistant director for counterintelligence; Evelyn Farkas, senior fellow at the German Marshall Fund and a former deputy assistant secretary of defense; and Eugene Robinson, associate editor and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The Washington Post. All three are MSNBC analysts.

Thank you all for being here. I want to start with you, Frank, because there are two ways to think of Donald Trump`s refusal to confront Vladimir Putin regarding the attack on our election in 2016.

One, per Helsinki, he just doesn`t believe it happened, so he doesn`t think it`s important. Or two, the more sinister explanation, he wants to benefit from it again. When you look at Donald Trump`s behavior in the Oval Office today and what he said, which of those seems more plausible to you?

FRANK FIGLIUZZI, MSNBC ANALYST, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FOR COUNTERINTELLIGENCE:  Many of us have been asking the question why. Why would you be on the phone for an hour with the Russian leader and not bring this up in a very firm way? Think of the political capital the president could have gained with voters beyond his base, Joy, if he simply said, I brought it up, I chastised him, threatened him with additional sanctions. But he didn`t do that.

Many would have said, hey, he`s doing the right thing. He`s trying to make sure this doesn`t happen again for the good of the country. So I`m left to this conclusion, Joy. As you say, it`s not because he doesn`t think that it happened. It`s not because he does not believe the Intelligence Community. And it`s also not because he thinks it happened but it didn`t change the outcome of the election.

I`m convinced that he`s fearful that he thinks it happened and it might have actually impacted the outcome of the election, and he is OK with that happening again. That`s the only conclusion that I can see here that makes sense to me. And so he is essentially in -- you know silence is assent. If you`re not bringing it up with Putin, you`re essentially giving him the green light.

REID:  Yeah.

FIGLIUZZI:  As with other mob bosses and that mentality, when you are silent, when you give someone the look, the nod, you`re essentially saying, keep doing it.

REID:  Yeah, and you know, Evelyn Farkas, the challenge with an alternative explanation to what you just heard Frank articulate, is that Donald Trump has been shown over the years to pretty much like anybody he thinks likes him, and to think that anyone who is on his side is on the good side. And that`s the way he sort of delineates the world in his binary way.

Let`s go back to Helsinki. Here is Vladimir Putin saying in his own words what he wanted to happen in 2016.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over):  President Putin, did you want President Trump to win the election and did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator):  Yes, I did, because he talked about bringing the U.S.-Russia relationship back to normal.


REID:  And then here is Trump today tweeting about his call with Putin. "As I`ve always said long before the witch hunt started, getting along with Russia, China, and everyone is a good thing, not a bad thing. We discussed trade, Venezuela, Ukraine, North Korea, nuclear arms control, and even the Russian hoax. Very productive talk."

So Donald Trump knows that Vladimir Putin wanted him to be president. He knows that there was a big report saying that Vladimir Putin took action to help him be president. And he says getting along with Russia, top priority for him, he is getting what he wants. How else to interpret it that Donald Trump is open to a repeat?

EVELYN FARKAS, MSNBC ANALYST, SENIOR FELLOW AT GERMAN MARSHALL FUND, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE:  Yeah, I can`t -- I don`t want to speculate too much, but everything Frank said and what you said makes sense, Joy. I think the thing to be disturbed about is regardless of his motive, Donald Trump is playing with fire, because Vladimir Putin is a risk-taking leader who thinks that Donald Trump and America is weak.

I spent some time this week with Russian former oligarch who no longer lives in Russia. I`m not going to say who it was. He talked very openly about the fact that Putin himself is politically at a weak point internally, domestically, which of course always makes Putin then look for a way to distract his people and that is usually what he does is he takes some sort of international military action.

We see him in Venezuela and I don`t know if you`re going to get to that later in the conversation, but Putin lied to Trump about Venezuela and he apparently accepted the lie just as he did in Helsinki about the interference in our elections.

So I think the problem here is that regardless of the motive, our president is playing with fire because Vladimir Putin is a man who sees President Trump and America as weak. And Vladimir Putin himself is weak and when he`s weak, he lashes out. And that could present a lot of danger for us and our allies.

REID:  And just to stay with you for a moment, Evelyn, because we know now that North Korea has fired off yet another missile.

FARKAS:  Right.

REID:  Donald Trump keeps saying that he solved the problem on the Korean peninsula. He claims that Vladimir Putin apparently is advising him on what to do. But that`s what happened today.

FARKAS:  Right. And they just met, Joy. So President Putin just met with Kim Jong-un this past week. God knows what they discussed. The one thing we know they discussed was probably sanctions because Putin came out with a statement saying, we should find a way in exchange for North Korea`s good behavior. He didn`t use that language but basically good faith actions. We should find a way to relieve the sanctions.

Well, North Korea hasn`t taken any good faith actions. I mean, except for maybe the long range ballistic missile, you know, the fact that they`re not conducting those tests right now. But as you just said, they conducted the short range test. This is the second one in a matter of a week or so. They`re clearly signalling to our government that they want President Trump to make more concessions.

REID:  Yeah.

FARKAS:  And that`s exactly what President Putin wants as well.

REID:  And Eugene Robinson, I don`t get it just from a standpoint of a president seeking re-election. This all makes him look quite weak. You have the Kremlin putting out readouts of his interactions with Vladimir Putin that are more detailed than what we get from the White House.

You have Donald Trump being taken for a ride on Venezuela, taken for a ride on North Korea, and essentially sort of acting like he is the junior partner in this new partnership with Vladimir Putin. I don`t get it just from a political standpoint. Do you?

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC ANALYST, ASSOCIATE EDITOR FOR THE WASHINGTON POST:  No, I don`t. You know, I fear -- I mean, I`m not sure this is the case, but all of you may be making far too much sense and being far too logical about this. You know, one thing we should take into account when we talk about President Trump is not just his venality and his ignorance and all the other things that make him unfit, but also his massive narcissism.

And you know, at some level, I think he probably understands full well that Vladimir Putin`s massive interference in the election quite likely put him over the top. I think he understands that. I think he cannot admit that. He cannot stand to have that talked about in his presidency. He cannot stand to acknowledge it publicly. He certainly can`t acknowledge it to Putin with whom he has the sort of almost junior partner relationship that is -- that is weird.

But that has been pretty consistent. He has always seemed to look up to Putin. You know, hard to do when he`s, you know, 6`2" and Putin is about 5`7", but he looks up to him.

REID:  Yeah. And you know, Frank, what might a foreign intelligence service then make of an American president who seems to want to make himself the underling of the Russian president who, to Evelyn`s point, isn`t even a strong president at this point? What might a foreign intelligence service do in that stead when you have an election coming up?

FIGLIUZZI:  Well, rest assured other foreign intelligence services are monitoring this very, very closely. They`ve done a personality assessment and they`re seeing, as Eugene said, this kind of illogical behavior that they will try to capitalize on. So, you can compromise this president by merely making him think that you`re helping him.

And if you do that in the context of the upcoming 2020 elections, let`s say China, let`s say pick your country, decides to let him know with a wink and a nod we are helping, we are behind you, we are going to do some social media propaganda, we might do some hacking, they`ve got him. They`ve got him. They own him. And rest assured we`re going to see them try to do that unless our defenses are in place.

REID:  And Eugene, all of that then comes in the context of an attorney general of the United States, who could not say with clarity that anything that Frank just described would be illegal or would even be wrong.

ROBINSON:  Right. I mean, it was astounding -- certainly -- basically as I understand Attorney General Barr`s position. The president cannot be held accountable. He certainly could not be held accountable for winking and nodding and sort of welcoming the next round of Russian interference. It was an astounding performance the other day and it`s a sad state that our Justice Department seems to be in under William Barr but that`s where we are.

REID:  Yup. Now, it`s going to be an interesting election. Eugene Robinson, Evelyn Farkas, Frank Figliuzzi, thank you all very much.

Coming up, one of the articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon was tied to his refusal to comply with congressional subpoenas. Is Donald Trump wandering into just that territory? Congressman David Cicilline joins me, next.

And Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and the other white male candidates have been sucking a lot of the oxygen out of the Democratic primary race, but a woman may be beginning to close the gap. That is coming up.


REID:  Donald Trump and his administration have made it clear that they are determined to stonewall any attempt at congressional oversight, and that increase in brinksmanship is forcing reluctant House Democrats to explore increasingly aggressive options to force the administration to comply. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said this earlier today.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA):  I do think that the path of investigation and getting more information and you never know that one thing can lead to another. Impeachment is never off the table.


REID:  After dismissing Russian election interference in a phone call with Vladimir Putin, the president teed up yet another battle with Congress over calling additional witnesses.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over):  Does Mueller testify? Would you like to see him testify?

TRUMP:  I don`t know. That`s up to our attorney general, who I think has done a fantastic job.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over):  Did you decide whether you will invoke the executive privilege as it relates to Don McGahn?

TRUMP:  That would be determined over the next week or so.


REID:  Joining me now is a member of the House Judiciary Committee, Democratic Congressman David Cicilline of Rhode Island. He is also a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee. Congressman, thank you so much for your time tonight.

REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-RI):  My pleasure.

REID:  Let`s first talk about William Barr who has essentially stopped complying. He did not show up to a hearing at the House Judiciary Committee where he was scheduled to appear. He does not appear to be willing to cooperate further. I want you to listen to your colleague, Congresswoman Jackie Speier, who was on "Hardball" earlier tonight with my colleague Chris Matthews. And this is what Congresswoman Speier says should happen if Barr does not begin complying.


REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA):  Once there are specific subpoenas and he does not comply with them, he can be brought before the House. He can be tried. He can either be held there to testify or he can be punished. And there is actually a jail in the Capitol which has been used as recently as 1930. And there was actually the brother of a former attorney general during Teapot Dome that was actually brought in from Ohio with a deputy sergeant of arms to be required to testify.


REID:  Teapot Dome has finally been invoked on a segment of television I`m doing. Are you willing to go that far? Do you believe that William Barr if he refuses to testify, if he refuses to comply with lawful subpoenas from Congress, should be arrested?

CICILLINE:  Well, there`s no question that Congresswoman Speier is absolutely right. Congress has the inherent authority to hold individuals in contempt who defy a lawful subpoena that was affirmed by the Supreme Court in 1821 and again in 1935. I hope it does not have to come to that.

But let me be very clear. Our congressional oversight is dependent on our ability to compel the production of documents and to compel the testimony of witnesses under oath. And when the committee issues a lawful subpoena, they must be enforced. If we leave it to the executive branch to decide what they`re going to provide, that will effectively extinguish our oversight.

Clearly, that`s not permitted. I think members of the committee are committed to making sure we get the materials and witnesses we need to find the truth to demonstrate no one is above the law. The really tragic part of all of this is all the stonewalling that the president is doing is wasting an enormous amount of time.

We ran on an agenda for the people of this country to drive down health care costs, raise family incomes, rebuild the country, and take on corruption in Washington. We`re moving forward on prescription drug, reducing prescription drug prices. We are moving forward on infrastructure bill. We passed HR-1, a major reform. We passed equal pay for equal work. We reauthorized the violence against women act. We`re getting a lot done.

But every minute we have to fight over getting what we`re entitled to is not good for the American people. I think the whole committee understands we will get the witness before the committee that we need to hear from to get to the truth, to collect all the evidence we need, to make a final judgment in this matter.

REID:  You know I`m glad you mentioned some of the things that Democrats are trying to do. I think respectfully, sir, what a lot of the Democrats are saying -- you know, Democratic voters are complaining about is, that the Democrats seem to be so focused on getting back to business, back to doing the agenda that, as you said, Democrats ran on to get elected to take over the House.

That they`re willing to put up with a lot -- and a lot abrogation of Democrats` constitutional authority and really not willing to go to the maximum while the administration is willing to go beyond the maximum to simply say we don`t owe you any compliance at all. There`s a piece in The New York Times today reporting on how Chairman Nadler, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has made yet another counter offer.

Yet another counter offer in terms of getting the full Mueller report saying, "If the dispute moves to the courts, as seems likely, one of the issues that will arise is whether each branch has tried to accommodate the other branch`s constitutional needs. In previous legal battles, courts have said the constitution requires both sides to negotiate in good faith to find a solution. If nothing else, Mr. Nadler is establishing a record that House lawyers can point to in any such litigation as they urge a judge to find the administration`s position is unreasonable."

Is what looks to a lot of the public like caution, really the attempt to build a record that can survive the Supreme Court?

CICILLINE:  Yeah, absolutely. Look, I think we understand we have to do both things. We have to deliver on the commitments we made in the election to reduce health care costs, raise family incomes, to take on the corruption in Washington, and to deliver results for the American people. We`re doing that.

But we also understand we were elected to hold this administration accountable and to discharge our responsibilities under the constitution. And I think many on the committee are pressing the chairman. I think he`s quite right in being certain that he develops a record because this will be litigated.

And it`s absolutely the case that the court will look at what accommodations you have attempted to make, and Mr. Nadler has really made a magnificent record of all of the efforts he`s made to be reasonable with the attorney general, to seek accommodation. But on Monday, if he doesn`t comply, we`ll begin the proceedings to hold him in contempt and to compel his compliance.

But what`s really stunning, Joy, is to think about the attorney general of the United States has refused to come before the Judiciary Committee voluntarily to answer some important questions. And you have to wonder why. What is he afraid of? This is the chief law enforcement officer in the country and he`s afraid of 30 minutes of questioning by a staff attorney? That`s the real question here.

But we`re going to get him before the committee. We`re going to get the full Mueller report and all the materials we need to make an informed judgment about next steps for the committee.

REID:  Congressman David Cicilline, thank you so much for your time tonight. I really appreciate it.

CICILLINE:  Thanks for having me.

REID:  Thank you. Coming up, Donald Trump is accused of ignoring his duty to protect the United States from foreign election interference and is accused of obstructing justice. And still, there is silence from his political party. How long can that last? That`s next.



REP. JONI ERNST (R-IO):  Russia will show no hesitation.  They have not in the past.  They won`t in the future.  And using these types of acts of aggression in an attempt to undermine our elections process and our way of life.  And it doesn`t matter if the attack is coming from the end of a barrel of a gun or the click of a mouse.

REP. BEN SASSE (R-NE):  In a digital cyber era, you don`t need a bar and a hooker anymore.  You can surround people digitally much easier and we know that we`re going to be having these kinds of attacks in the future and we need to up our game.


REID:  During this week`s Senate hearing on the Mueller report, it wasn`t just Democrats who voiced concern about Russian election interference.  Republicans did it, too.

But today, when we learned that Donald Trump spoke on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin for more than an hour and didn`t once tell him to stop attacking our elections, Republicans haven`t said a word.

Joining us now is Tom Nichols, a national security expert, and former Republican Senate staff member.  Also joining us, Evan McMullin, a former CIA operative and a former independent presidential candidate and he`s the co-founder of Stand Up Republic.

Tom, I`m going to start with you because you had quite a tweet today.  You tweeted, "I eagerly await the inevitable explanations from Republican apologists and enablers about why the president told Putin he doesn`t accept the Mueller report and why he won`t let McGah testify.  If you think I`m questioning anyone`s patriotism, let me just assure you, I am."

Do you believe at this point that Republicans are willing to allow Russia to interfere in an election just so that they can stay in power?

TOM NICHOLS, NATIONAL SECURITY EXPERT:  I don`t think Russians -- that the Republicans are willing to let the Russians interfere with an election.  And the part about McGahn turned out to be an error from an earlier NBC report.

But the fact that Republicans aren`t speaking up about this, the Republicans, the party of national security as they once billed themselves, the party of Ronald Reagan, that they are not standing up, that they are not criticizing this means they really have chosen party over country.

They have chosen to enable this administration rather than to do their Constitutional duty and speak up about this problem.  And I question the judgment and the patriotism of anybody who thinks that this is somehow acceptable.  I really do.

REID:  And Evan McMullin, just to be specific, the Mueller report was very detailed in the things that it says, that the GRU, which is the sort of follow-on to the KGB what they did.  Just one part of it.

In November 2016, the GRU sent spearfishing emails to over 120 e-mail accounts used by Florida County officials responsible for administering the 2016 U.S. election.  We understand the FBI believes that this operation enabled the GRU to gain access to the network of at least one Florida County government.

When Marco Rubio who is never really that strong in criticizing this president, he`s pretty much a fan, most of the time.  But in an interview, Senator Marco Rubio took it a step further saying that Russian hackers not only accessed a Florida voting system but were in a position to change voter roll data.

My biggest concern he said is that on election day, you go vote and have mass confusion because voter registration information has been deleted from the system.  This is an ongoing threat of literal disenfranchisement of American voters by a foreign intelligence service.

How do you explain why Republicans don`t have their hair on fire and aren`t standing up and demanding that the White House do something about it?

EVAN MCMULLIN, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: Well, it`s incredibly frustrating and incredibly dangerous.  And I have to tell you that you know, I`ve been concerned for a few years now and I`ve made that clear.  But I am more concerned now about the future of our democracy than I`ve ever been.

And look, I think if you ask why Republicans are behaving the way they are, if you`re an elected Republican, you look at the base and you see the base is still with Trump even in the midst of the Mueller report and all that it revealed about his welcoming, encouraging and planning to capitalize on the Russian attack and then all the efforts to obstruct justice, they are still the Republicans.  The Republican base is still with the president.

And it`s not a surprise.  Why?  Because "Fox News" and the Republican media establishment continues to lie to the base and to mislead them.  And so then elected officials see that and they say well if I`m going to be reelected again, I`ve got to continue to go along with this.

But it`s even more than that now.  Now, they`ve justified, they`ve defended the president for so long, amid all this information, all these revelations of wrongdoing that now they have to protect the president because if they don`t, this entire Trumpian house of cards collapses.  And they go down along with it in the next election.

And so now they have to protect it.  They have to stand it up.  Even at the expense of our democracy, at the expense of American freedom.  And it is disgusting how they`re willing to do that.

And I`m beside myself these days and it`s a time for them to stand up and speak truth to the American people and stop looking out for themselves.  Our democracy is truly on the line right now.  And they`re the ones that have to act.

REID:  You know, and Tom Nichols, I think to Evan McMullin`s point, the base of the Republican Party doesn`t believe that Russia interfered in the election.  "The Washington Post" latest last poll of Republican voters dated March 26 to 29 found that 54 percent said no, they don`t believe that Russia interfered because, of course, their president is telling them that it didn`t happen.

But you do have Patti Davis wrote a piece in "Washington Post" in which really laid down the gauntlet and said essentially stop naming Ronald Reagan as your hero, stop using the Reagan legacy if you`re going to stand silent as America is dismantled and dismembered as democracy is thrown on the ash heap of yesterday.  She says shame on you. don`t use my father`s name on the way down.

Republicans still want to claim the mantle of Reagan.  They still want to say that they`re tough on national defense.  But there`s an ongoing threat to the election that`s coming up.

It`s hard not to make the argument that maybe that they`re like, you know, if the outcome is on our side, that`s fine.

NICHOLS:  First of all, I agree with Evan.  I`ve never been this concerned either.  I mean I just have never seen anything like this.  I`ve never seen this kind of collapse of an American political party and the collapse of their voter base that`s covered so much territory in 30 years to go from being the party of Reagan to whatever this is.

But look, I believe that there are Republicans.  I shouldn`t say I believe.  I know that there are Republicans who are deeply concerned about this.

But a principle isn`t a principle if you only voice it when it`s politically convenient.  And that`s the problem is that you know, they`re just concerned about taking on that minority in the primary vote who is the majority of the Republican Party but a minority of voters.

And they don`t want to go down with that ship.  That`s just incredibly dangerous.  This is a time to speak up.

REID:  Yes. Yes.  Tom Nichols and Evan McMullin, thank you guys very much.  Really appreciate your time.

MCMULLIN:  Thank you.

REID:  Thank you.  Coming up, the ideas candidate.  Senator Elizabeth Warren is defying the Democratic primary boys club and moving up in the polls.

Lawrence`s interview with Senator Warren on her ideas to help the middle- class that Donald Trump`s policies to help the rich are leaving behind.  That`s next.


REID:  It`s still very early in the Democratic presidential primary for 2020 but already we`re seeing some interesting movement in the polls.  Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders have topped most of the early polling so far.

But this week, three different polls showed Senator Elizabeth Warren whose campaign has been doggedly focused on policy, not flash, climb into the top three.  One poll even found Warren one point ahead of Sanders in a statistical dead heat.

Earlier this week, Lawrence spoke with Senator Warren about how her policy- driven campaign might be affecting her standing in those new national polls.


O`DONNELL:  Let`s agree it`s way too early for the polls to be telling us anything definitive about what`s going to happen in this race.  But there`s very good news for two candidates in there.  There`s very good news for Joe Biden who`s at the top of all of these polls.

And the other good news is for your candidacy which has moved up and actually it`s in the top three of each one of those polls.  Coming in number two in one of the polls moving slightly ahead of Senator Sanders, actually in a statistical tie with him but you`re at 12 and he`s at 11.  That`s a big jump up for you in that poll.

And everyone has been noticing that you have been rolling out more new policy.  And I want to stress new policy because it`s one thing for candidates to be coalescing around things like Medicare for All which is an idea that has been gaining traction over time.

But you and some of the other Candidates are introducing new policies but no one more than you.  Do you believe that this move in your candidacy is actually about these policies that that`s what voters are listening to in this campaign?

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  So look, I can`t say anything about the polls.  It is way, way too early on polls.

But here`s what I can tell you.  Having a chance to go out and talk with people all across this country about how we could actually make this government work, not just for a thin slice at the top but make it work for everyone else, and watching people engage that idea, it`s enormously exciting.

You know, I get out and talk about a wealth tax.  Two cents on every dollar above $50 billion for the great fortunes in this country.  Just two cents.

They pitch that in and all of a sudden, as a country, we can provide universal childcare, universal Pre-K.  We could pay our child care and Pre- K workers professional level wages.  We could do a universal college.  We could knock off student loan debt for nearly 95 percent of the people who have student loan debt.  And still, have nearly a trillion dollars left over.

A trillion dollars to put into green energy, to put into infrastructure.  That`s how you begin to rebalance an economy.  So it isn`t just working for those at the top.  It`s working for everybody.  We could actually do that.

O`DONNELL:  We have a page one report in "The New York Times" above the fold about the biggest corporations in this country playing not just paying zero in corporate taxes, actually, and you know the punch line to this, getting a rebate.

WARREN:  I do.

O`DONNELL:  A rebate.


O`DONNELL:  And I`ve got to say, that shocked me, even having worked on tax law myself.  I understand that they get away with paying zero.  But the idea that Amazon and some of these big companies actually getting a rebate from the government, this is the kind of issue you`ve been talking about consistently.

And when I read in that story your quotes from voters who are very angry about this and they`re not attaching in that article to particular candidates.  But it`s very clear to me that the Democratic campaign, you in particular and some of the other candidates, are talking very specifically to that issue.

WARREN:  Yes.  So I have another proposal.  I got a plan for that.  And the other plan around corporate taxes is to acknowledge those big companies that are doing that like Amazon.

They tell the public, they tell their investors, they set their executive compensation on saying, we made more than $10 billion in after-tax profits.  Whoo-hoo.  And then they turn around and say to the IRS, well, by the time we`ve jumped through this loophole and done this part and done this trick, it`s actually zero or you owe us a refund.

You know, that`s just not right.  So what I`ve proposed is that for the big companies, the ones making more than $100 million in income each year, that they pay seven cents on the dollar.  Seven percent of what they publicly announce as their after-tax income.

They do that, whatever the rest of the taxes are because we shouldn`t be in an America where you know, most Americans are paying taxes, but these big guys are making a zillion bucks.  And yet, they`ve wired the tax code so that they are either paying nothing or getting a refund?

If we did that, we would raise a trillion dollars over 10 years.  And here`s the deal.  You know, for everybody across this country, we just want to say the guys at the top, whether it is a giant corporation or it`s one of the great family fortunes in this country, you made it big.  Good for you.

But you built those fortunes, you know, employing workers the rest of us helped pay to educate.  You built those fortunes using roads and bridges all of us helped to pay for to get your goods to market.  You built those fortunes using police and firefighters all of us helped to pay for.

And the deal is you make it that big, put something back in so everybody else has got a chance to make it.  That`s what this is about.

And that`s what my campaign is about.  It is about ideas and it is about how we can really build a future together.  I hope that everybody who likes campaigns about ideas will go to, that they`ll volunteer an hour, they will pitch in ten bucks.

They will be part of this because this is how we`re going to build an America that works, not just for a thin slice at the top, but one that works for all of us.

O`DONNELL:  Senator, I want to ask you what you would have said to the president if you were in that meeting with the Democratic leadership and the president on infrastructure.  I would also like to ask you what you think the House of Representatives should do in reaction to the president`s obstruction on their subpoenas.

But the commercial break structure of this show requires me to squeeze in a minute or so.  Could you stay with us across that break and we`ll just do a couple more questions after that?

WARREN:  Of course.  Of course.

O`DONNELL:  All right.  We`re going to be right back with Senator Elizabeth Warren.



REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-NY), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:  We just had a very productive meeting with the president of the United States.  We came to this meeting with an understanding that there is great need in our country for rebuilding our infrastructure.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER:  We agreed on a number which was very very good, $2 trillion for infrastructure.  Originally, we started a little lower.  Even the president was eager to push it up to $2 trillion.


O`DONNELL:  And we`re back with Senator Elizabeth Warren.  Senator, as you know, the Democratic leadership of the House and Senate met with the president to talk about infrastructure.  It`s hard for me to see them ever coming to an agreement.  But if you were in that meeting, what would you have told President Trump about infrastructure?

WARREN:  So I really want to see us make an investment in infrastructure.  This is how we build the future in this country.  This is how we build jobs for the future in this country.  We have got to make those investments.

So I`d ask him, where is the money coming from?  You know, we can`t just talk about this in the abstract.  I`ve got two proposals on the table.  And ultra-millionaires wealth tax and a corporate tax.  Either one would raise money for trillion dollars in infrastructure spending.  What is your plan, Mr. President?

O`DONNELL:  How about an increase in the gasoline tax?

WARREN:  I got to say, I have real hesitation about that.  That hits working families hard.  Why should we be going there instead of to the 75,000 richest families in this country?

Why should we be going there instead of to corporations that announce a hundred million dollars or more in profits that are paying no taxes right now?  Why don`t we do something that`s a little more progressive?

O`DONNELL:  And you have seen the obstruction that the White House administration and the attorney general seems to be complicit in that obstruction of the House investigations on multiple fronts, the president trying to deny every -- all sorts of cooperation and subpoenas in a way that we`ve never seen before.

You have got an attorney general saying I will not take questions from counsel in House hearings, something that has been happening in hearings for my entire lifetime.  What would be your suggestion to the House of Representatives about how to deal with this administration and the obstruction that they`re running into now?

WARREN:  So I think this is a moment that, again, Congress needs to assert itself.  We have responsibilities under the Constitution of the United States, including oversight responsibility.

We`re supposed to be out here to make laws, to investigate the fact that a hostile foreign government attacked our elections in 2016.  And to make sure that we are properly prepared as we roll into 2020.  We have a job to do and part of that involves getting information from the administration.

So I have a lot of confidence in our leadership in the House.  I know they will be strong on this.  And they just need to keep bearing down because the Constitution talks about two branches of government, not simply a president and everyone spinning around him.

O`DONNELL:  Senator Warren, before you go, let me just squeeze in a question I`ve asked every presidential candidate who`s been here.  What is the best policy idea you have heard from one of your competitor`s in this campaign?

WARREN:  Oh, I think Julian Castro, his idea around immigration and about changing how we treat people who come here and who are not documented.  I think he`s got some really good ideas around this.  I`m very interested in his work.  I admire it.

O`DONNELL:  Senator Elizabeth Warren, thank you very much for joining us and for staying a little bit extra with us.  We really appreciate it.

WARREN:  You bet.


REID:  Well, that`s tonight`s last word.  Be sure to join me tomorrow morning for my show "A.M. JOY" which starts at 10:00 a.m. Eastern, weekend mornings.  And we`ll talk about the two candidates who had the best week this week, both of them women, both of them you have seen in the last two hours.


BRIAN WILLIAMS, MSNBC HOST:  Tonight, Donald Trump`s hour-long phone call to Vladimir Putin.