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Trum Admin vs. Congress. TRANSCRIPT: 5/10/19. The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell.

Guests: Val Demings, Dan Kildee, Neera Tanden, Alexis Goldstein


RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  That does it for us tonight. I was so excited for that interview. I can`t believe that we had James Baker here talk about all this stuff. That was amazing. All right. I have to tell you something about Monday night show.

Beto O`Rourke is going to be here, the former Texas congressman and current candidate for the Democratic nomination for president. First time he has been here since he has announced that he is running for president. That`s Monday night right here on set.  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, great interview. It was really fascinating and you asked the question that I most wanted to know about, which is the Trump Tower stuff.


REID:  It`s still weird for me. I still -- I need more information on that so.

MADDOW:  All the like potential leverage in counterintelligence stuff like where did that go? Just poof.

REID:  Poof, magic.

MADDOW:  I feel like I finally sort of understand where it went after talking about it. I`m going to make sense over the weekend.

REID:  It does. And I think people forgot the scope and the limits of what it is that Mueller was actually investigating and I think people did think he was going to answer all of these questions, but of course, there is a lot more to come. And congratulations on getting the Beto interview on Monday. I`ll be watching.

MADDOW:  Thank you very much. I love the self-esteem toss over. This is great.

REID:  Because, you know what, we love ourselves, we love one another. We have to build each other up. It`s a crazy time. I watch the "Handmaid`s Tale" like it`s a documentary. It`s a crazy thought.


MADDOW:  I love you Joy. Happy Mother`s Day.

REID:  Happy Mother`s Day weekend, bye. All right, everybody, thank you for joining us. I`m Joy Reid in for Lawrence O`Donnell. Well, tonight we begin with a question for the president. If you truly believe that the 448-page Mueller report totally exonerated you, as you so often claim, if you are sitting on 448 pages of pure exoneration, why did you need your former staffer to write a letter clearing your name?

That`s what we want to know after new reporting tonight from "The Wall Street Journal" and "The New York Times." According to "The Journal," "Within a day of the release of the Mueller report last month, President Donald Trump sought to have former White House counsel Don McGahn declare that he didn`t consider the president`s 2017 directive that he seek Robert Mueller`s dismissal to be obstruction of justice.

But Mr. McGahn rebuffed the request. The "Times" adds that White House officials "asked at least twice in the past month for McGahn to make that public statement. NBC News has since confirmed this reporting. Now, it seems we have finally found the one person in Donald Trump`s orbit while he was perfectly willing to put his reputation on the line by associating himself professionally and in history with Donald Trump, would not risk being disbarred for Donald Trump.

It`s a pretty low bar. And it doesn`t mean Don McGahn is in the clear just yet. Before this news broke, House judiciary chairman Jerry Nadler threatened to hold McGahn in contempt if he doesn`t comply with a subpoena to come before the committee.


REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY):  We`ve subpoenaed McGahn and we`re expecting him to show up on the 21st. And if he doesn`t, he will be subject to contempt. Unless he has a court order telling him he can`t, which I don`t think he would get. And we have -- he has to respect the rule of law like anybody else.


REID:  This threat of contempt is just one example of the De0mocratic gloves coming off. House Democrats fed up with the Trump administration`s attempts to stone wall congressional oversight are mounting an increasingly aggressive campaign to compel the president and the White House officials under him to comply as the constitution demands.

Tonight, the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee in the House subpoenaed the treasury department and the IRS for six years of Donald Trump`s personal and business tax returns. Chairman Richard Neal said, "While I do not take this step lightly, I believe this action gives us the best opportunity to succeed and obtain the requested material."

Chairman Neal gave the agencies until May 17th to produce Trump`s tax records. He`s expected to go to court after that. Subpoenas are one of a growing number of tools Democratic lawmakers are using or considering to force the Trump administration`s hands. There`s the money threat. House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff floated a new idea for enforcing subpoenas. Fine officials who ignore them.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA):  I think it`s far more practical to consider levying individual fines on the person, not on the office until they comply. Courts use that practice. I think it`s quite successful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  You`re talking about a big number?

SCHIFF:  Yes, yes. Well, you could fine someone $25,000 a day until they comply and that will probably get their attention.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  And can you do that?

SCHIFF:  We can do that. We can do that, but if there is going to be this across-the-board stonewalling, we`re going to have to consider extraordinary remedies.


REID:  Another financial option on the table, withholding funds until officials comply with subpoenas. This week, the House Oversight Committee threatened to withhold the salaries of interior department officials who have blocked lawmakers from interviewing agency employees for an investigation into Secretary David Bernhardt. Then there`s contempt of Congress.

The big news this week was that the House Judiciary Committee voted to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt over his failure to produce the full, unredacted Mueller report. Now, Chairman Nadler has endorsed the idea of bundling together several contempt resolutions against Trump associates before having lawmakers vote on them.

And the biggest Democratic play of all may be the hardest to actually make happen. Today, Jerry Nadler along with Congressman Ted Deutch and Eric Swalwell introduced the No President is Above the Law Act. The legislation would pause the statute of limitations for any federal offense committed by a sitting president whether it was committed before or during the president`s term of office.

As Chairman Nadler put it, "No person can be permitted to evade accountability for their actions just because they happen to be president. The presidency is not a get out of jail free card." Leading off our discussion tonight are two Democratic members of Congress, Congresswoman Val Demings of Florida. She`s a member of the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees.

And Congressman Dan Kildee of Michigan, and he`s a member of the House Ways and Means Committee. Thank you both for being here. You`re at a disadvantage, you`re not at the table here with us so I`m going to go to you first, Congressman Demings. You used to be the sheriff of Orlando, Florida.

You used to be a law enforcement officer. Have you ever in your career heard of somebody going to court, being exonerated, being acquitted at trial or, you know, completely exonerated of whatever the crime was, and then going back and asking a witness in that trial to write them a letter stipulating to their exoneration?

REP. VAL DEMINGS (D-FL):  Good evening, Joy. It`s great to be with you. And as you just stated, look, I spent 27 years in law enforcement, served as chief of police in Orlando. And one thing I learned many, many years ago is that nobody, nobody is above the law.

The constitution of the United States gives Congress the authority to provide oversight over the executive branch as an equal branch of government. While the president obviously has no respect for what the law says, what the constitution says, or the oversight responsibility that we have.

I can tell you, Chairman Nadler, the Judiciary Committee and Congress, at least on the Democratic side, we are serious about holding him accountable. And to ask a staffer and, you know, thank God for Mr. McGahn who refused to violate the law or lie for the president, refused to write that letter. But no, I`ve never heard or seen anything like that even after 25 years on the police department.

REID:  Yes, you know, I`m tempted to give McGahn, you know, kudos for, you know, refusing to commit something that, you know, in the end might get him disbarred, right. Donald Trump asked people to commit abrogation of decency and of their own ethics all the time. But he considered it.

You know, according to "The New York Times," McGahn actually considered doing it. He considered saying that Trump didn`t obstruct justice and then the Mueller report came out. Here`s the quote, "Mr. McGahn initially entered the White House request. But after the report was released detailing the range of actions, Mr. Trump took to try and impede the inquiry. Mr. McGahn declined to put out a statement."

And then the "New York Times" goes on to report that Donald Trump was angry and believed that McGahn had shown disloyalty by telling investigators for the Special Counsel that Trump`s attempts to maintain control about -- Trump`s attempt to maintain over the Mueller investigation.

The chairman of the committee, Chairman Jerry Nadler, said this means McGahn has to testify. But, you know, if he comes before your committee, wouldn`t it perhaps be worth asking him whether or not the fact that he considered actually going ahead and doing this. And then the Mueller report came out, leads him to believe that the Mueller report actually shows that Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice.

DEMINGS:  Let me say this. As you well know, we voted this week to hold the attorney general in contempt of Congress. We expect Mr. McGahn to appear before our committee on the 21st of this month. If he does not appear, respect the subpoena that he has received, we can go down that same path for him.

And you better believe when he comes before the committee, we are going to ask him after the Mueller report showed at least 10 instances where the president either obstructed justice or attempted to obstruct justice, tried to get witnesses to lie for him, threatened witnesses, members of his staff, destroyed e-mails and other evidence, we`re going to ask him why on earth would he even consider writing a letter that we all know would not have been the truth?

REID:  Yes. Let me go to you, Congressman Kildee, on the taxes, because a lot of people do not understand why these officials in treasury and in the IRS are being given so much time.

There`s a story in "The New York Times" that says that an aide to the committee that you serve on the Ways and Means Committee suggested on Friday, this is quoting the "Times," "that though the panel is confident in the merits of the chairman`s argument that the tax records should be turned over, Mr. Neal and lawyers in the House ultimately decided they`re going straight to court to try and enforce that provision carried too much risk.

They feared that a judge could simply throw out the case for lack of standing, essentially rendering the use of the tax code provision unenforceable whenever the executive branch objects." And so in other words, that Donald Trump could actually succeed to making it impossible to ever enforce the provision. Is that why the delay is happening?

REP. DAN KILDEE (D-MI):  Look, this is unchartered territory and so we are doing everything we can to get this right. The chairman has been really clear on this. We`re going to take a methodical approach. The problem that we saw in 6103 is that we`ve never had the IRS say no.

REID:  Right.

KILDEE:  And it was never even anticipated back in 1924 that there would ever be a question as to whether the IRS would comply with a legitimate request from the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee for a tax return.

So, issuing the subpoena gives us the tool that we need in the event that they don`t respond positively to the subpoena to go and enforce that subpoena. So, there`s never really an enforcement mechanism built into 6103 because nobody ever expected.

REID:  No one ever did it before.

KILDEE:  Nobody ever expected that they wouldn`t comply.

REID:  Yes. Well, it`s everything about the Trump administration. What about this question of withholding the salaries of the people who are refusing to comply with the subpoenas? Could the House Ways and Means Committee simply cut off the salaries of the IRS commissioner or cut off the salary of the Treasury director and just start not paying people until they comply?

KILDEE:  So my preference is to use the other branch of government, the judiciary, to enforce a legitimate order.

REID:  You trust the judiciary that Trump has seeded with 100 of his personally picked or the right-wing, hand-picked judges from the federal society?

KILDEE:  Ultimately, we have a system of government that depends on the separation of powers.

REID:  So you wouldn`t want it to say, listen, you`re not getting your paycheck until you comply? That would probably make them comply.

KILDEE:  Yes, I mean, I haven`t given that very much thought, but my first inclination is to let`s follow the rule of law. Let`s use the system that has served this country for a long time, knowing that it has flaws. And one of the flaws is that presidents get to appoint judges that sometimes are biased in their favor but we have to I think give that a chance.

You know, the people back home that I listen to, they`re exhausted by this. They are absolutely exhausted by this and I just want to acknowledge that because it`s important for us to point out that we really should be focusing a lot more of our attention on the troubles that people have in their own family.

REID:  Well, let me ask you on that because -- I want to ask both of you. You`re members of Congress and you guys are both from states that are obviously pivotal and important electorally, but also they`re human beings living there, OK, just to be blunt.

And people in Michigan, if they don`t pay their bills, they have are going to have real consequences. They cannot escape from the consequences of getting a summons. You get (inaudible) you better go. You end up -- you`re summoned to court, you can`t just say I`m not going.

KILDEE:  Right.

REID:  So, I wonder if the people in your district are connecting with the fact that this president is saying that he doesn`t have to do the things they would have to do.


REID:  They would be held to account if they attempted to not pay their taxes or not respond to a court order.

KILDEE:  They want us to focus on the problems that they face every day, but they also do really want us to make sure that the rules apply to everyone. And even if sometimes that puts us in a position where the politics could get in the way, we don`t have a choice.

REID:  Yes.

KILDEE:  We swore an oath to the constitution.

REID:  Absolutely.

KILDEE:  We have to enforce it.

REID:  Yes. And Congresswoman Demings, I want to play you what Adam Schiff had to say about because Donald Jr., I mean, Donald, Jr. is not even in the White House. He is not a White House official. He is not the president of the United States.

This is an ordinary citizen out there in the world just like any of us saying, I won`t comply with the subpoena. When I`m subpoenaed, I don`t have to listen to that at all. That is extraordinary because it says something about the ability to confer lawlessness on someone else by a president. Here is Adam Schiff talking about Don, Jr. and even Ivanka.


SCHIFF:  Yes, I think Don, Jr., has the same problem the president does. Like father, like son, which is -- and the president`s lawyers have been quite blunt about this. They fear putting him in front of anyone under oath where the president too is incapable of telling the truth for more than a minute. It was legal malpractice. And Don, Jr.`s lawyers may feel very much the same about him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  What do you think are the chances that Congress will call Ivanka Trump?

SCHIFF:  I don`t know. You know, there is certainly relevant testimony that she maybe able to offer on things like Moscow Trump Tower. And so I wouldn`t exclude anyone really because they are family of the president.


REID:  You know, Congresswoman Demings, I`m quite sure the people who were dragged before the Watergate hearings didn`t want to go. I`m pretty sure Hillary Clinton didn`t want sit for 11 hours and answer questions about Benghazi. When you get subpoenaed, you got to go. I mean, have you ever taken someone into custody back in Orland when you were a law enforcement officer that was willing to go, was happy to go, that wanted to go and go into court?

DEMINGS:  You know, Joy, let`s think about it. I think Mueller was pretty clear on then for the investigation was about a sitting president. Any other man or woman would have been indicted. And so you`re absolutely correct. I don`t believe, number one, I do question that because I`m not sure the president can do anything and not be indicted. Let me just -- and that`s just Val Demings talking. Let me say that.

But also for the president`s son, for the president, for the attorney general, for the Treasury secretary, and others to absolutely just refuse and ignore a subpoena, to refuse and ignore the authority, the oversight authority that Congress has, is totally unacceptable. It`s acceptable for them. Certainly it would be unacceptable for someone in my district.

REID:  Yes, absolutely. At least in a democracy it would be. And that is what we are. So, Congresswoman Val Demings, Congressman Dan Kildee, thank you both very much. Have a great Mother`s Day weekend. Appreciate it.

And coming up, make no mistake, investigators are going to get Donald Trump`s tax returns. They will get them. It`s just a matter of time. But there`s already a scandal in what we already know. We have all the information we need to call it out right now, tonight, later in the show.


REID:  It`s been another bad week for Donald Trump. It`s been just three days since the nation learned that Trump wrote off more than a billion dollars in losses through the late `80s and early `90s, making him what Walter Shapiro, writing in "The New Republic" called "The Worst Businessman in America."

A man who for "The New York Times" reporting appears to have lost more money than nearly any other individual American taxpayer during the same period when he was carefully cultivating his image as a master of business.

Well there is another way to look at those huge losses that Trump reported on his taxes during that period. I mean, if he was not America`s worst businessman, the other option that is that he was engaging in massive fraud to lower his tax bill.

And Congress may be on the verge of finding out just which one it is, after House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal issued a subpoena for Trump`s tax records. That subpoena comes on the heels of news that the president`s eldest son and name sake, Donald Trump, Jr., could soon be issued his own subpoena by the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee.

Trump for his part appears to be responding to this wave of bad news the way he always does, by attacking whoever he sees as his biggest opponent, sometimes with the help of a foreign government. Yesterday "The New York Times" reported that Donald Trump`s T.V. lawyer, Rudy Giuliani has been dispatched to Ukraine in order to, among other things, try and dig up dirt on Hunter Biden, the son of former vice president and current presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Giuliani`s other task, apparently, is to investigate the origins of the Mueller investigation. And tonight, "Politico" reports that in a conversation with Donald Trump, the president suggested it would be just fine for him to ask his attorney general to investigate the leading Democratic candidate running against him.

Joining me is Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress and a longtime adviser to Hillary Clinton who knows a thing or two about Trump`s smear tactics, and Tim O`Brien, executive editor of Bloomberg Opinion and am MSNBC contributor.

He has reported on Donald Trump for decades and was actually sued by Donald Trump and won. Normally Neera I would go ladies first but I want to come to Tim first because I want to know the answer to my question. I mean, Donald Trump, there really -- I can`t think of any two more -- I can`t think of more than these two options. Maybe there are more. Donald Trump was either a terrible businessman. He`s just really bad at business.


REID:  Or is a fraudster.

O`BRIEN:  Maybe. You know, there could be positive answers to both of those things. You know, he`s tried to spin this "New York Times" tax story as misguided because he was simply using the tax code to prevent his profits from coming into his income tax returns, and that made him smart and that was just about depreciation and it was just about using loopholes to lower his tax bill. That`s not what it`s about.

The "Times" reporting specifically shows that most of the losses during that 10-year period came from the fact that he was running his business poorly. It wasn`t because of his skillful use of the tax code.

REID:  I mean, if he`s so smart, why was he the only loss his father -- I mean, the father wasn`t exactly a guy who paid his taxes either, but he made money. And the only time he lost money was when he lent his son, Donald Trump anything.

O`BRIEN:  Well, in fact, but for his father`s presence, Donald Trump himself would have gone personally bankrupt. In the early 1990s in the midst of this period, when he was reporting his massive losses, he had to go and beg his siblings to extend him about $30 million loan to keep from filing for personal bankruptcy. And they ended up making him pledge his share of his father`s estate in order to give him the money.

REID:  Wow.

O`BRIEN:  And then he ended up presiding over six corporate bankruptcies. He`s not a good businessman. That`s been know for a long time.

REID:  Yes.

O`BRIEN:  I think the value of the "Times" reporting is just putting real numbers on him best that he can`t dispute.

REID:  Right. And that`s the way he ran for president, was that he was going to run the country like a business. Well, you know, actually he might be --

O`BREIN:  He is. Yes.

REID:  He actually is doing that, Neera Tanden. When the attorney general, William Barr couldn`t really answers Chris Coons` question about whether or not it would be unlawful for a campaign to seek foreign dirt on opponent, well that was extraordinary, and at this point ordinary and the lies of Williams Barr.

But it definitely, I guess clearly sent the green light to the Trump campaign that they can send Rudy out to go and find more dirt. What do you make of this attempt to go and search for dirt on Joe Biden in Ukraine?

NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS:  Well first, I would just like to say on the tax avoidance story, which is such a huge story that we jus can`t let it go. The fact that the president of the United States is basically using tax avoidance as his excuse because that looks better even though, I don`t know, waitresses, coal miners, people who work in construction, they don`t get to avoid taxes through massive tax schemes.

But because they think he`s so sensitive about being a terrible businessman, he`d rather make the case that he is a tax cheat than the worst businessman in America. And so I`m really glad that we`re actually going to get his taxes, hopefully, soon.

But I think what is really deeply concerning, and I know we use these words like concerning and troublesome, but just what is happening right now is in real time we are seeing Donald Trump and his actual campaign apparatus and his personal attorney essentially trying to lure in a foreign country to help his re-election.

The fact that he is essentially trying to go to the Ukrainians and curry favor because he is president of the United States -- they are a small country -- to go after Joe Biden, the opponent that is currently beating him in the polls nationally and in the states that he needs to win like Michigan, Ohio, et cetera.

And he wants to use a foreign government to create a scandal, a fake scandal. And I need to say this. "The New York Times" itself reported that there is no evidence that Joe Biden did anything for the benefit of his son. So this entire thing is essentially a fake scandal in which the Trump campaign has weaponized a "New York Times" story to go after his opponent, which sounds familiar to me.

REID:  Doesn`t it?

TANDEN:  But it should be deeply worrying to the American people because the president of the United States is basically using the foreign policy of the country to ensure help his re-election, which is really a criminal behavior.

REID:  And, you know, what ties these two stories together, Tim O`Brien, is that Donald Trump, you know, to Neera Tanden`s point, it`s better for him in a way to be seen as a tax cheat than to be seen as a bad businessman because he sits atop the executive branch and per his attorney general, there`s no law that can contain him.

He can do whatever he wants. He can violate whatever law he wants. And in this case, William Barr has kind of said, go ahead. If you want to go and, you know, play around in foreign intelligence services and governments --

O`BRIEN:  Well, you know, they also gave him that same legal foundation when they said they wouldn`t turn over his tax returns.

REID:  Right.

O`BRIEN:  Steve Mnuchin said Congress has no right to these returns unless their action is guided by some form of legislation, which completely overlooks the fact that they`re empowered to oversee the executive branch.

They`re now saying he`s also empowered on the foreign, you know, landscape to do anything he wants as well. They`re making an argument at every turn for an imperial presidency.

REID:  Absolutely.

O`BRIEN:  I think that`s the larger issue here in all of these isolated incidents that people have to really be concerned about it. And, you know, Bill Barr is a sophisticated, disciplined, more intelligent version of Rudy Giuliani.

And he`s putting a smoke screen around all of these issues, whether it`s the Mueller report, Donald Trump` taxes, to create an argument that it`s nobody`s business by the president`s, that the president`s judgment is paramount and that he shouldn`t be checked by constitutional powers that belong in the Congress. I think people should be very concerned about where that`s headed.

REID:  Unitary executive theory, you know, because that appears to be what we have. Neera Tanden, talk to the media just for a moment because this pattern of -- down to the news of Ukraine as a lever against an American candidate, an American Democrat that is attempting to run for president.

What should the media be doing to govern itself if as expected Rudy Giuliani and whatever other minions they decide to send around the world looking for dirt start offering stories to "The New York Times" or "The Washington Post," to the American media to try and harm Joe Biden or any off the other candidates should they become the nominee?

TANDEN:  I mean, look at the facts. Like, if you have a situation, if there`s a situation in which a Democratic candidate is accused by Rudy Giuliani or the Trump forces of doing something for their son and you don`t find any evidence of that, don`t write the story.

I mean, what happened here with the story is that there were accusations, there was no proof, and then this was weaponized with "Breitbart" and the Trump campaign put money on Facebook behind the story and basically used this as a campaign strategy to weaken Joe Biden.

Now, the truth is, I think people are relatively sophisticated and Joe Biden is still doing well in the polls against Donald Trump. That is why we should be incredibly vigilant about the idea that we have this and basically, you know, funnel tube between the Trump campaign and media that then the Trump Department of Justice can use its resources to then go after a nominee and/or a candidate.

And the challenge behind all of this is that if you were treating Donald Trump like a normal candidate, then you are basically engaging in supporting his ability to weaponize information and to use the authority of the Justice Department to attack the Democratic process, which we have seen for two years and there`s really no excuse for letting that go by.

REID:  Wise words from Neera Tanden. All right, Neera Tanden and Tim O`Brien, thank you both. Really appreciate you joining us.

Coming up, the scandal no one is talking about when it comes to billion dollar loser Donald Trump and his tax returns. But it is outrageous and we will be talking about next.


REID:  Americans are about to start paying more for many of the things you shop for because Donald Trump -- because of Donald Trump`s growing trade war with China.  The president, as promised, increased tariffs today to 25 percent on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods and is threatening even more.

American consumers will pay those tariffs.  You will pay them.  And American farmers are predicted to face more financial nightmares.

But when it comes to negotiating a trade deal, the president tweeted, "There`s absolutely no need to rush as tariffs are now being paid to the United States by China", which again is not how tariffs work.  Americans pay the Trump tariffs.

The trade war has already led to $12 billion in bailouts for American farmers and now the president is expecting to need even more bailouts.  He tweeted, "With the over $100 billion in tariffs we take in, we will buy agricultural products from our great farmers in larger amounts than China ever did."

OK.  Remember, all of this comes after Donald Trump promised that trade wars were good and easy to win.  Apparently not.  And as Trump places more financial stress on struggling Americans, and it`s worth noting that he himself has never had to face the same financial worries that regular Americans have.

Trump inherited hundreds of millions of dollars from his daddy.  And then as "The New York Times" reported, his businesses has lost over a billion dollars according to IRS data.  More money than nearly any other individual American taxpayer.

But Trump himself was able to lose all that money without facing the consequences that you or any of us would face if we squandered money that belonged to other people and banks and bond investors because Trump was able to secretly lean on dear old dad`s wealth to continue living like a winner.

Donald Trump literally applied for the job of president where he now gets to make economic decisions affecting the entire country based on his business record.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I`m a businessman.  I know how to do this.  I`m a world-class business guy.   I built an unbelievable company, very, very little debt, tremendous, some of the greatest assets in the world, tremendous cash flow, tremendous cash sitting there.

I`m endorsed by some of the greatest business people in the world.  We`re going to use our great business people to make these deals.

REID:  After a break, what Trump the businessman tells us about Trump the president.



IVANKA TRUMP, DAUGHTER OF DONALD TRUMP:  I remember once my father and I were walking down Fifth Avenue, and there was a homeless person sitting outside of Trump Tower.  And I remember my father pointing to him and saying, you know, that guy has $8 billion more than me because he was in such extreme debt at that point, you know?

TRUMP:  I`m really rich.  By the way, I`m not even saying that to brag it.  That`s the kind of mindset, that`s the kind of thinking you need for this country.


REID:  If Donald Trump had any self-awareness at all, any at all, he might think, you know, I`ve been in dire financial straits even at the billion- dollar level.  I know what it feels like to not be able to pay my debts.  Maybe I`ll at least try to keep my campaign promise to help out regular Americans who are struggling financially.

But no, Donald Trump is Donald Trump.  And he loves that now that he`s -- he loves it now that he has benefited from the system that`s been rigged for people like him, by people like him, that he just gets away with it all.  So he`s doing the exact opposite and he`s looking for ways to hurt Americans who are just trying to dig out of holes that weren`t created by losing all their daddy`s money.

Joining us now is Alexis Goldstein, senior policy analyst from Americans for Financial Reform.  She is also a volunteer for free black mamas, an initiative to bail out black mothers in time for Mother`s Day.  That`s actually great.  And back with us is Tim O`Brien.

Alexis, this is -- what has been kind of obsessing me for the last couple of days is this "New York Times" story came out.  Donald Trump lost all this money.  He never paid any consequences for it.

But when you think about the consequences that people face every day when they don`t pay a light bill or phone bill, when they don`t pay a bank loan or a mortgage loan, the consequences are real and dire.  I wonder if it`s connecting out there that the rigged system that Donald Trump talked about is the one rigged for him by people like him?


And it`s really interesting to watch him as he`s come into office.  It`s very clear he wants everyone to think he`s rich, but all of his policies benefit the rich, they coddle the rich.

The Trump tax scheme gave $28 billion in profit back to the Wall Street banks that crashed our economy.  And meanwhile, all of his policies are trying to crush poor people, crush immigrants, crush people of color.  And you can see it so deliberately everywhere you look.

Just this week, speaking of debt, right, ordinary people who have debts often get hounded by debt collectors, something that President Trump probably has never experienced in his life even though he`s been in a lot of debt.

And the Trump administration is proposing that debt collectors be able to contact you seven times a week for every single debt that you have.  So if you have three student loans, that`s 21 contacts, 21 calls from a debt collector every week.

So it`s really a policy that`s going to hurt pretty much everyone who has debt in the country, except, of course, wealthy people like Donald Trump.

REID:  Yes.  I mean there`s a reason "Bloomberg" reported the Trump administration is thinking of altering the way it determines the national poverty threshold, which means that people who are living on the margins could lose their access to welfare programs like food stamps.

They would actually literally alter the formula so that people could get kicked off of the things that feed their families.  There`s a callousness to what ordinary people are suffering that goes along with the fact that he`s sort of laughing all the way to the bank to withdraw other people`s money that he never pays out -- pays back.

GOLDSTEIN:  Well, right.  And you can see it in budget proposals they`ve put forward.  They want to slash funding for public housing.  They want to make sure undocumented immigrants can`t live in public housing.  They want to change the rules for SNAPS so that people who live in states that have like lots of unemployment still get kicked off of SNAP after a certain amount of time limits pass by.

There are just all of this very deliberate steps.  The Trump tax again is a really good example of it.  It hurt a lot of ordinary people.  It gave billions and billions of dollars to corporations.  And it`s very deliberate and you can see it in pretty much every single department from the USDA to the IRS, to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under Trump`s new head of that, Kathy Kraninger.

REID:  Tim, you talked about this in the break.  Nothing helped Donald Trump become president probably more than "The Apprentice."  And this perception by ordinary people, well, he`s a good businessman so he`ll be able to manage the economy.

Even people now who are getting hurt by his tariffs and going under are going under believing, well, I think he`s going to know what to do and he`ll do the right thing.

O`BRIEN:  Yes.  I think one of the great hoaxes he perpetrated during the 2016 campaign was that he was a friend of the little guy and that he was a depth businessman who was going to come and shake up Washington and make sure that Washington worked on behalf of the forgotten American.

And the reality is Donald Trump doesn`t care at all about average Americans.  You saw it when the government shutdown occurred.  There were lots of government workers who weren`t able to meet their rent or weren`t able to buy groceries, and that Trump and his family coming up with thousand reasons of how those people could help themselves out.

You`ve seen it on the border crisis, how immigrant families have been treated.  And now you`re seeing it this past week I think in both -- where the rubber meets the road on his tax policy and on tariffs.  He orchestrated a drastic overhaul of the tax code that benefited people like Donald Trump, people in real estate get pass-through income, created a much lower rate that other Americans and average American -- working Americans can`t take advantage of that tax code.

REID:  Yes.

O`BRIEN:  On the tariff policy, he`s putting that bonkers Twitter -- tweet storm he went on today in which he laid out a bunch of theories about how tariffs work that no economist, CEO, or retailer would agree with.  The net takeaway from everything on his tariff policies, that`s going to increase prices for average American consumers.

And I don`t know if it`s going to happen in states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan, swing states that he`s going to need in 2020 to win.  It`s voters in those states who are going to get hurt by it.

REID:  It`s pretty amazing.  And meanwhile -- and we are out of time.  But he -- you know, while Alexis is out there trying to free moms that are incarcerated so that they can be home with their families for Mother`s Day, he`s plotting to use the Justice Department, which he has control over, to just personally prosecute whichever political enemies he sees fit.  It`s a completely two America`s bizarre scenario.

Alexis Goldstein, Tim O`Brien, thank you both.  Really appreciate you joining us.

GOLDSTEIN:  Thank you.

REID:  And coming up -- thank you.  The war on women reaches a scary new phase and it is indeed shocking.  How far right-wing Republicans are willing to go to put the state in control of women`s lives?  But the women who oppose, the laws, Republicans are -- cooking up -- aren`t letting them pass without a fight.  And that is next.


REID:  Republican lawmakers in states across the country are waging a war on women`s most basic rights that could lead to a new fight in the Supreme Court over Roe V. Wade, a landmark decision that has guaranteed a woman`s right to choose since 1973.

Yesterday, the Alabama State Senate delayed a vote on a bill that would effectively make abortion illegal in the state, punishable by up to 99 years in prison for doctors who perform the procedure.  Chaos erupted on the floor as Democrats protested a Republican effort to strip exemptions for cases of rape and incest from the bill.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  All those in favor, say aye.  Any opposed?  Motion passes.  Committee amendment is tabled.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Mr. Chairman, there was no motion.  There was no motion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  There was a motion.  He made a motion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  He didn`t make a motion, Mr. President.  He did not make a motion.


REID:  Wow.  That bill is expected to pass next week, making it the strictest anti-abortion law in the entire country.  Alabama lawmakers also introduced legislation that would make it a crime to falsely accuse someone of rape or sexual assault punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Earlier this week, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed into law a bill that bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, before most women even realize they`re pregnant.  Just think about that for a moment.

But the law doesn`t stop there because the law grants personhood to fetuses.  Women who travel to other states where it is legal to get an abortion could be prosecuted for leaving the state for the purposes of committing a crime.

Even a woman who has miscarriage could be investigated by law enforcement and potentially charged with a crime.  Georgia is the fourth state to pass a six-week abortion ban this year.  In Ohio meanwhile, Republicans are proposing a bill to prohibit private insurance companies from covering abortions but could also limit access to birth control.

That bill also mandates a medical procedure for women with ectopic pregnancies, where get this, the embryo would supposedly be re-implanted into the universe, a procedure that doesn`t exist.  As one gynecologist told "The Washington Post", the treatment laid out in the bill is science fiction, nothing can be done to continue that pregnancy.

These laws have yet to take effect and some are already being challenged in court.  But some Republicans are making their motives clear.  The "Post" reports that Alabama State Congresswoman Terry Collins who sponsored the bill said its purpose is to spark litigation that would force the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider Roe V. Wade.

After the break, we`ll talk about the Republican assault on women`s rights and the fight to protect Roe V. Wade with former Democratic Texas State Senator Wendy Davis who helped filibuster an abortion bill in Texas.



CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST:  Do you believe in punishment for abortion, yes or no?  It`s a principle.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment.

MATTHEWS:  For the woman?

TRUMP:  Yes, there has to be some form.


REID:  That was Donald Trump on the campaign trail in 2016 telling our own Chris Matthews that he thought women should be punished for having an abortion.  Well, now, after installing two conservative judges for the Supreme Court, the Republican Party under Trump is trying to make it happen.

Joining us now is Wendy Davis, a former Texas State senator and the founder of Deeds Not Words, a non-profit that empowers millennial women to be advocates in their communities.  She stood for 11 hours on the Senate floor filibustering that bill -- filibustering a bill that would have restricted access to abortion in Texas in 203.

Wendy Davis, thank you for being here.

WENDY DAVIS, FORMER TEXAS STATE SENATOR:  Thank you for having me, Joy.

REID:  I still remember your pink sneakers.  A lot of women went and bought pink sneakers after that.  But you have an organization now that`s trying to empower young women.

Are young women starting to connect with the threat to even their right to birth control, this idea that if you make a rape accusation in Alabama and the person is acquitted, that you then can be charged with a crime, sort of almost making people afraid to go and report rapes?  This whole attitude toward women, is that connecting with young women?

DAVIS:  It really is.  And specifically, the idea that lawmakers who are far removed from their lives and the consequences on their lives of these intrusions are trying to make decisions that are about the agency that they possess over their own bodies.

And I`m very encouraged by the fact that they are picking up the mantle, understanding that they can`t wait their turn to show up in local decision- making, state decision-making, and national decision-making where the future, the integrity of their bodily decisions and the opportunities that they`re able to make by virtue of possessing their reproductive rights, they understand how threatened those are.

And I`m encouraged that they acknowledge their responsibility and the power that they have to step forward and do something about it.

REID:  The bill that you filibustered in Texas, seems almost quaint by comparison to some of the bills we`re seeing now, that would put women in jail potentially for life, subject them to a murder charge for taking a pill.  I wonder if they would have to monitor women`s online activity.

How would they catch them?  How would they know who`s leaving the state for the purposes of getting an abortion?  Are they going to stop women at the border from driving out of the state and check them to see if they`re pregnant?

It does raise the handmaids -- and I talked earlier with Rachel Maddow about the handmaids but it does raise that specter that these people want to put the state in charge of what you buy online and where you go if you`re a woman.

DAVIS:  It`s true.  And really, when you think about it in the larger context, Joy, it`s the idea that women are somehow not equal beings, that our very autonomy, our very movements are those that could be subjected to state and federal oversight.  And it`s taking things to such an extreme.

In some ways, it seems so extreme that it`s surreal and therefore maybe we shouldn`t get too fired up about it.  But on the other hand, we have to understand that this is a march that`s taking us in a particular direction.

And just as you said, in 2013, the bill that we filibustered in Texas which was about as bad as things had gotten in the anti-abortion movement, it seems pale in comparison.  And we can`t let ourselves get numb to what they`re doing right now in the belief that it`s so absurd it can`t possibly ever happen.

Because bit by bit by bit, they`re moving the needle so that what was once considered absurd is less so by comparison and women are losing their rights all over this country.  And the thing that I really think we need to return the conversation to, they want very much for voters and the American public to be thinking about this issue in the way that they talk about it.

That`s why they specifically choose to use language like a heartbeat when we`re talking about a six-week unconstitutional abortion ban.  For us, I think we have to really demonstrate that they have zero credibility in their argument.

When it comes to the idea that they`re doing this because they`re trying to protect the sanctity of a living being, when we in this country have one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the developed world, we have one of the highest infant mortality rates in the developed world and we are seeing these marches, these intrusions against women`s decision-making in states where we have the highest numbers of uninsured women, we have children who are going without any kind of health care, we have states that refuse to expand Medicaid.

They don`t care about human beings and I think we really need to make sure that we`re moving that argument forward and calling them on the lack of credibility that they have.

REID:  Absolutely.  But boy, do they care about controlling women.  Wendy Davis, thank you so much for joining us.  Really appreciate you.  Thank you.

That is "Tonight`s Last Word."  I`m Joy Reid.

I will see you tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. Eastern for my show "A.M. Joy" where I will have a big announcement.  Big announcement coming tomorrow.  "The 11th Hour" with Brian Williams starts now.