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Putin praises Mueller. TRANSCRIPT: 5/14/19, The Last Word w. Lawrence O'Donnell.

Guests: Bill Yeomans, Ron Klain, Cecile Richards, Ben Rhodes, Ned Price

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

Is he number 22? 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:   Depends on how you count.  It`s either 22 or 23. 


MADDOW:  I think. 

O`DONNELL:  Close enough. 

MADDOW:  Twenty-one?  Yes. 

O`DONNELL:  OK.  That`s tomorrow night. 

Rachel, we have Cecile Richards joining us on that breaking news that you just brought about what`s happened in Alabama, passing that bill tonight, which basically completely outlaws abortion in Alabama. 

MADDOW:  Literally with no exceptions.  I mean, they -- they`re -- that`s what Republican-controlled states have wanted to do for decades.  They lied about it and said all they were trying to do was, you know, make abortion more safe or, you know, regulate the field of abortion providing in a way that was not at all about trying to outlaw abortion. 

Something about the Trump administration makes them feel like they can come out of the closet on this issue and so this is just an outright ban and you`re seeing states, Republican-controlled states all over the country just going for it now. 

O`DONNELL:  I mean, it`s risky for their side because it is -- it is possible that if this gets to the United States Supreme Court that they could issue some -- their own version of Roe versus Wade that actually strikes this thing down.  That`s why the other states have always not wanted to go this far because they`re afraid of getting an outcome that actually in effect reaffirms or at least partially reaffirms Roe versus Wade. 

MADDOW:  Right.  And that`s why there`s been so much euphemism in all of the Republican states` efforts as they`ve gone after abortion rights.  They`ve tried to make it de facto illegal to get an abortion without saying that`s what they`re doing.  They believe that they no longer have to hide behind that artifice, and it is presumably risky for the same reasons that they were afraid to do it before.  It will be interesting what Cecile Richards has to say about this given her current activism and her 12 years with Planned Parenthood.  But this is a landmark moment. 

O`DONNELL:  Yes, we actually asked Cecile to come on while the bill was still moving.  We weren`t sure it was going to pass or come to a vote by this time, but it has done that in the last few minutes.  Cecile is going to be here in a few minutes.

MADDOW:  Yes, well done.  Thanks, Lawrence. 

O`DONNELL:  Thank you, Rachel. 

Well, the NRA is finally attacking the right enemy, itself.  The NRA is completely collapsing in on itself in a breathtaking financial scandal inside the NRA.  NRA board members attacking other NRA board members.  NRA board members attacking the current president of the NRA, saying the current president of the NRA is lying. 

We`re going to have all of that for you, this stunning new information about it and the crazy spending that Wayne LaPierre has been doing at the NRA that is part of what all of this is about.  We`re going to have that at the end of the hour.  A lot of the updates on the facts of that case, you`re going to want to hear that. 

But first, Donald Trump Jr. is going to respond to a subpoena issued by the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, even though on Sunday the Republican chairman of another Senate committee publicly advised Donald Trump Jr. to ignore that Senate subpoena. 


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC):  If I were Donald Trump Jr.`s lawyer, I would tell him you don`t need to go back into this environment anymore.  You`ve been there for hours and hours and hours and nothing being alleged here changes the outcome of the Mueller investigation.  I would call it a day. 


O`DONNELL:  The 27 psychiatrists and mental health professionals who wrote the book about Donald Trump are going to have to find some time to explain Lindsey Graham. 

Lindsey Graham is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the committee with jurisdiction over our criminal justice system and our civil justice system.  That`s the committee that writes federal laws about, among other things, how federal subpoenas are enforced, and the chairman of that committee, who is a lawyer, is publicly advising a witness subpoenaed by the United States Senate to ignore that subpoena, publicly advising him to commit a crime. 

Psychiatrists studying Lindsey Graham`s attempts to subvert and pervert congressional subpoena power need to begin with 20th century Lindsey Graham. 


GRAHAM:  The day Richard Nixon failed to answer that subpoena is the day that he was subject to impeachment because he took the power from Congress over the impeachment process away from Congress and he became the judge and jury. 


O`DONNELL:  Before Donald Trump Jr. reached an agreement about testifying to the Senate intelligence committee late today, last night, Lindsey Graham publicly coached Donald Trump Jr. again, telling "The Washington Post," quote, you just show up and plead the Fifth and it`s over with.  Senator Lindsey O. Graham told reporters Monday, adding that Trump`s lawyer would have to be an idiot to let him testify again. 

Lindsey Graham is an obstruction of justice.  This is clearly witness tampering.  Lindsey Graham could be disbarred as a lawyer for that.  And by publicly tampering with a Senate witness, Lindsey Graham violated his oath of office. 

In any previous Senate, the Senate Ethics Committee would begin an investigation of Lindsey Graham today that would very likely lead to his expulsion from the United States senate. 

Something very serious has happened to Lindsey Graham and we don`t know what it is.  Something deeply disturbing has happened to Lindsey Graham, and we don`t know what it is.  And it is not just the difference between 20th century Lindsey Graham and today`s Lindsey Graham, it`s the difference between Lindsey Graham three years ago and Lindsey Graham today. 


GRAHAM:  He`s a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot.  He doesn`t represent my party.  He doesn`t represent the values that the men and women who wear the uniform are fighting for. 

I don`t think he has the temperament or judgment to be commander in chief. 

I think he`s a kook.  I think he`s crazy.  I think he`s unfit for office. 


O`DONNELL:  It may just be that Lindsey Graham is now running for his life in South Carolina in a way that he wasn`t three years ago.  Lindsey Graham is up for re-election next year and his very Trumpian public witness tampering and obstruction of justice might just be what a terrified Lindsey Graham has decided he has to do to avoid being challenged in a Republican primary by someone more Trumpian than Lindsey Graham. 

Lindsey Graham is now publicly everything he once said Donald Trump is.  I have never seen a United States senator disgrace his oath of office more than Lindsey Graham has done just in the last couple of days alone. 

Apparently, the Fox networks legal analyst, former Judge Andrew Napolitano, has more influence over Donald Trump Jr. than Lindsey Graham. 


FORMER JUDGE ANDREW NAPOLITANO, FOX NEWS LEGAL ANALYST:  I never heard of a senator saying disobey a valid lawful subpoena issued by the chairman of another Senate committee.  The subpoena, just like the one to Bill Barr, is presumed valid.  If you can`t or don`t want to comply with it, you got to challenge it in court.  You can`t just sit on it and you can`t not show.  Somebody will show up with handcuffs. 

NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS HOST:  No matter who you are. 

NAPOLITANO:  No matter who your father is. 


O`DONNELL:  Donald Trump Jr. was smart enough to ignore Lindsey Graham`s advice, or at least Donald Trump Jr.`s lawyers were smart enough, and so they have agreed to Donald Trump Jr. testifying once again to the Senate Intelligence Committee, but not publicly.  It will be a closed-door session in mid-June with a limited number of topics and will probably not last more than four hours.  That is the outline of the deal Donald Trump Jr.`s lawyers reached with the Senate Intelligence Committee tonight. 

"The New York Times" is reporting tonight that the House Intelligence Committee chaired by Adam Schiff is investigating whether lawyers for President Trump and his family helped shape false testimony that Michael Cohen has now admitted he gave to the Intelligence Committee in 2017. 

In his testimony to the oversight committee in February, Michael Cohen said that the Trump lawyers helped edit the false testimony that he gave to Congress in 2017 about a Trump Tower project in Moscow.  A May 3rd letter from Chairman Adam Schiff to the Trump family lawyers says, among other things, it appears that your clients may have reviewed, shaped and edited the false statement that Cohen submitted to the committee, including causing the omission of material facts. 

In addition, certain of your clients may have engaged in discussions about potential pardons in an effort to deter one or more witnesses from cooperating with authorized investigations. 

Chairman Schiff is demanding documents from those lawyers in his investigation.  Today, Chairman Schiff said this --


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA):  If there were others that were participating in that act of obstruction of justice, if there were others that were knowing of that false statement, participated in the drafting of that false statement, we need to know about it, we need to expose it and we need to deter other people from coming before our committee and lying. 


O`DONNELL:  We`re going to lead off our discussion tonight with some veterans of the Senate Judiciary Committee who I am sure have never seen anything like a Chairman Lindsey Graham in that committee before. 

William Yeomans spent 26 years at the Justice Department and was the former chief counsel on the Senate Judiciary Committee.  He`s now a senior fellow at the alliance for justice. 

Also with us, Ron Klain, former senior aide to Vice President Joe Biden and President Obama, and former chief counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

And Jason Johnson`s with us.  He`s the politics editor at and a professor of politics and media at Morgan State University.  He is also an MSNBC contributor. 

And, Jason, I want to start with you because the explanation of Lindsey Graham is not necessarily based on experience working at the Senate Judiciary Committee because --


O`DONNELL:  -- none of us have ever seen anything like it. 

Is this just what it takes for him to get re-elected on a free ride with no Republican challenger in South Carolina? 

JOHNSON:  Well, I think this is what it takes for him to sort of maintain his brand, Lawrence.  Like, you know, he clearly made a decision about two years ago.  I don`t know if it`s when John McCain passed away.  I don`t know if it`s just what he wants to do, but Lindsey Graham has said, look, I`m going to go to the mat for President Trump in any sort of extreme way I can. 

Whether that means defending Brett Kavanaugh with this whole sort of, you know, rally-the-troops speech he gave, whether it`s encouraging other people to not listen to congressional subpoenas.  This is what Lindsey Graham wants to do. 

Look, the fact is, I mean, he has a Democratic challenger, I believe it`s Jamie Harrison.  Like Lindsey Graham is not safe, but I don`t think that this behavior is due to any sort of elect fears.  I think this behavior is due to the fact he`s completely submitted to the Trump aura of power. 

And the problem is that, you know, it`s not just historically he`s going to shame himself.  That`s already a given.  It`s the fact that he also diminishes the office and makes it more difficult for Republicans in the Senate who want to do their jobs trying to do so when you have somebody next door being a back seat driver in how we administer justice. 

O`DONNELL:  Ron Klain, the comment I`ve seen from Lindsey Graham would have gotten you dragged in front of the Senate ethics committee when you were working at the judiciary committee.  And Donald Trump Jr. was -- his lawyers anyway were at least smart enough not to listen to Lindsey Graham. 

RON KLAIN, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO VP BIDEN:  Yes, I mean, credit Trump Jr., credit Andrew Napolitano.  You know, it`s shocking whenever I agree with him but he was right on this one. 

Look, I think that, you know, I agree with Jason.  It`s hard to explain Senator Graham`s behavior as anything other than kind of a determination just to do Donald Trump`s bidding, whatever it is, even really beyond -- beyond the pale here.  I mean, the judiciary committee for its good days and bad days, you know, has a vaunted tradition of standing for the law and adherence to the law. 

And for the chairman of that committee to tell a witness that they don`t have to comply with a lawful subpoena from another Senate committee so undermines the institution, so undermines the process.  By the way, this is a subpoena issued by obviously a committee chaired by another Republican senator.  And so, you know, this isn`t a partisan thing.  This is just really an effort to out-Trump any other Trumpy Republican senator. 

O`DONNELL:  And Bill Yeomans, we noticed no other Republican senator jumped out there and said, oh, yes, Lindsey Graham is right, you should defy a Senate subpoena and we know there is an awful lot of Republicans who love every chance they get to say something pleasing to Donald Trump.  And none of them were willing to join Lindsey Graham walking out on that plank. 

BILL YEOMANS, FORMER CHIEF COUNSEL, SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE:  Well, yes, I think it`s clear how over-the-top Lindsey Graham was here.  It is, as everyone has said, completely outrageous for the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which oversees the justice -- the law enforcement operation of the federal government to advise someone to defy the law. 

I do think, though, it`s worth noting that there was a tremendous Republican reaction to Richard Burr, who was willing to issue this subpoena on behalf of the intelligence committee.  And it`s my understanding that he got an enormous amount of pressure from other Republican senators who came to the defense of Donald Trump Jr.  So while Lindsey Graham stands out, he is not alone. 

O`DONNELL:  The inside the room reporting is that Mitch McConnell actually supported Chairman Burr on this, as you would expect a majority leader to do with any of his chairs issuing subpoenas.  And, Jason Johnson, this is - - this is all happening -- we always have to remember -- within a president campaign that is already under way. 

JOHNSON:  Right. 

O`DONNELL:  And so here we have one of the candidates` sons being subpoenaed and responding to that subpoena to testify to a Senate committee that could involve some jeopardy to that son. 

JOHNSON:  Well, some jeopardy to that son, some jeopardy to other members of the family, some jeopardy to the father.  Look, Lawrence, I`ll be honest, when Barr initially put out the subpoena, I was skeptical.  I thought is this going to be an excuse for Republicans to do this sort of dog and pony show and allow Don Jr. to just give speeches, right? 

As we`ve seen in some of these committees, they don`t actually ask questions, it`s an opportunity for them to play partisan games, but now that this appears this is a real question, this goes to the heart of what the Republican Party has to worry about.  When we go beyond the House and Senate, this goes to the heart of where the Republican Party is in the country.  This means -- this is a reminder of what we`ve talked about all along.  There are Republicans in this country who do not trust this administration, who do not trust Don Jr., who do feel they want to get to the bottom of this. 

I don`t think that Barr is acting just out of, you know, pure curiosity out of what is going on.  He also is reflecting a change in his party that`s happening nationally.  Republicans, they really need to be much more careful about this.  They don`t have as much strength in their base if they don`t have as much strength in their party that they used to have. 

O`DONNELL:  Ron Klain, the House Judiciary Committee has now formally scheduled the Don McGahn hearing for a week from today, Tuesday, 10:00 a.m., next week.  We`re not sure how long we will be in suspense about whether Don McGahn will show up or whether he`ll show up and take the Fifth Amendment or whether he`ll show up and plead executive privilege. 

What are the possibilities? 

KLAIN:  Well, first, we have to see if Lindsey Graham has legal advice for Don McGahn.  Doubtlessly, he does. 

But, look, I think all those things you mentioned, Lawrence, are possibilities.  What we have to understand is unlike in the Senate this is against the backdrop of massive resistance of Trump and his allies against the investigation.  The Trump lawyers were in court today trying to resist a subpoena from the House Oversight Committee for Trump`s financial records.  They got slapped down hard by the judge in that case. 

We`re going to see what they do with McGahn.  But clearly, you know, Donald Trump is trying his best to keep any of this information from coming out on the House side.  And they`re doing it in this kind of crazy way where they`re in court today arguing that Congress shouldn`t be able to look at Trump`s financial records because it`s a legal matter. 

They were in a court a few weeks ago arguing, hey, this isn`t a legal matter, it`s for Congress.  They went to Mueller and said, hey, it`s not for the Justice Department, it`s for impeachment process.  I mean, it`s constitutional three-card Monty that they`re trying to avoid this information coming up.  But sooner or later, I think the House is going to get to the truth on this. 

O`DONNELL:  Bill Yeomans, what strategy does the House have available to it? 

YEOMANS:  Well, the House has to continue pursuing trying to get witnesses, they have to issue subpoenas and follow through with contempt.  Unfortunately, all of that takes time.  They have to go to court to file civil suits, to enforce contempt citations, so they need to follow through. 

But one thing that I think is very important is that they not get lost in the process fights.  So, for instance, on the Mueller report, it is incredibly important that members of the committee continue to make the public aware of what`s in the Mueller report.  The American public is not going to pay a lot of attention to process fights, as interesting as we lawyers may find them. 

JOHNSON:  Right. 

YEOMANS:  So I think the House Judiciary Committee has to be very creative in finding ways to broadcast the president`s incredibly unpatriotic behavior and his criminal behavior.  And they need to do that in ways that the American people will listen to. 

O`DONNELL:  We have to get a break in here.  Bill Yeomans, Ron Klain, Jason Johnson, thank you for starting us off tonight.  Really appreciate it. 

JOHNSON:  Thank you.

KLAIN:  Thanks, Lawrence. 

O`DONNELL:  And when we come back, we have breaking news tonight.  Republican legislature in Alabama has just passed a law that would basically make it a crime for a doctor to perform an abortion in that state, punishable by 99 years in prison.  This is the most extreme anti- abortion law passed by a state.  It awaits a decision by the governor whether to sign that bill. 

Cecile Richards will join us next. 


O`DONNELL:  Our breaking news tonight.  About 30 minutes ago, the Alabama State Senate passed a bill that essentially outlaws abortion in Alabama, in conflict with settled federal law, as interpreted by the United States Supreme Court. 

The bill outlaws abortions except in cases that involve a serious health risk to the pregnant woman.  Republicans voted down an amendment that would have added exceptions for victims of rape and incest.  That vote was 21-11.  The bill now goes to the governor`s desk. reports that on Friday, the governor said she would wait to make a decision to sign the bill into law after the final version reaches her desk.  But if the governor does sign that bill, doctors who perform the procedure could be charged with a felony punishable by up to 99 years in prison.  Doctors attempting the procedure could face up to 10 years in prison. 

Joining our discussion now, Cecile Richards, the former president of Planned Parenthood.  She is the co-founder of the new women`s political group Supermajority.  She`s also the author of the book "Make Trouble."

Cecile, your reaction to the passage of this bill tonight? 

CECILE RICHARDS, CO-FOUNDER, SUPERMAJORITY:  Well, this is a terrible day for women and for families in this country.  This is, as you say, this is the most extreme abortion ban that`s ever been passed.  Obviously, Governor Ivey has a really important decision to be made.  This bill should not be signed into law. 

As you said, not only it would essentially end all abortions, legal abortions in the state of Alabama, but it also would put doctors into jail for up to 99 years.  You know, obviously, this completely flies in the face of Roe versus Wade, a court decision that was made more than 40 years ago.  This is a right women have had for all those years.  Women are not going to go back in America. 

O`DONNELL:  Is there any chance that the governor will veto this? 

RICHARDS:  I have no idea.  But if she has -- if she`s actually thinking about the future and well-being of people in her state, she should not sign this bill. 

I was so struck by one of the senators tonight, Senator Singleton, who talked about what it was like to be the father of two daughters and the state of Alabama by passing this legislation is basically saying to them, you don`t matter, we don`t care about you. 

It`s a really terrible day for the state of Alabama. 

O`DONNELL:  What could their legal theory be?  This is a direct and complete and full conflict with Roe versus Wade.  Did they actually believe they can get this case to the Supreme Court and this Supreme Court with two Trump nominees will then completely struck down Roe versus Wade, because that`s what you`d have to do to sustain this law? 

RICHARDS:  That`s -- no, you`re correct.  I mean, I don`t know what`s in their mind. As we know, this is not the first time they`ve passed bills that have been unconstitutional. 

But, look, I think women are very worried -- women and men in this country are very worried now with the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh.  Roe is hanging by a very thin thread. 

But I think the other thing that`s really important to remember, this is a country that supports abortion rights overwhelmingly.  In fact, support for Roe is stronger than it`s ever been, and I think that`s one of the reasons we see women not only running for office, the vast majority of voters in this country, 20 percent of Americans have marched or taken part in a protest since the Trump inauguration.  And the main reason has been women`s rights. 

So I think this is a, you know, I certainly hope that this law is declared unconstitutional, but I will tell you, this is sending a chill across the country and women are noticing and women are organizing. 

O`DONNELL:  And this -- the Alabama legislature has a history, as you say, of passing these bills that do get struck down in federal court at great legal expense to the state.  In legal fees as they go through this process. 

And so, it`s possible that some of these legislators have just gotten comfortable with the idea that they can do this as a stunt and as a way of showing, you know, where they stand on this, knowing that they`ll never have to live with the consequences. 

RICHARDS:  That may be true, Lawrence, but obviously it`s still incredibly irresponsible to pass this kind of legislation.  And I think that -- I think women are taking notice. 

You know, it used to be -- and I think Rachel mentioned this earlier -- it used to be that they passed these kinds of bills saying that they were supposedly to protect the health and well-being of mothers.  This is an all-out abortion ban.  The govern -- you know, the legislators have said it.  The governor now can do the right thing and stand up for women in the state of Alabama.

But I`m telling you, this is something that women are noticing all across the country and women are going to be the deciding voters in the 2020 election. 

O`DONNELL:  What does an issue like this now do in the presidential election and the congressional elections? 

RICHARDS:  I think it`s going to absolutely put the issue of safe and legal abortion on the ballot -- and as it has been, but more in a theoretical sense.  I think with the confirmation of Kavanaugh, the real shift of the court, obviously, Justice Breyer`s dissent this week.  I think people are concerned that this is a court that is ready potentially to overturn precedent and a decision that was made more than 40 years ago that guaranteed the constitutional right to abortion. 

And one thing, Lawrence, I think is important to remember -- look, abortion existed before roe versus wade.  It was simply unsafe and women died routinely, healthy women in emergency rooms across America.  I`m just telling you, women in this country are not going to go back to those days. 

O`DONNELL:  Cecile, I think this is the first time we`ve sat here as close watchers of the Supreme Court on this issue for the last four decades -- 


O`DONNELL:  -- and we really don`t know how this court would rule on this. 

RICHARDS:  I think we don`t.  I mean, obviously, a lot of us really voiced this concern in the Kavanaugh hearings and in the confirmation hearings.  But, listen, Donald Trump said he was only going to appoint justices who would overturn Roe versus Wade, and I think we have to start believing him and taking him at his word, and we`ll see if that, in fact, is what he`s done and . 

O`DONNELL:  Cecile Richards, thank you very much for joining us on this breaking news tonight.  Really appreciate it. 

RICHARDS:  Thank you, Lawrence. 

O`DONNELL:  Thank you. 

And when we come back, we have a new question that Robert Mueller will be asked before he testifies before Congress and it comes from Vladimir Putin.  You will hear what Vladimir Putin said about the Mueller investigation, next. 


O`DONNELL:  Today, once again, President Trump denounced the Mueller investigation.  While in Moscow today, Vladimir Putin praised the Mueller investigation.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (thru translator):  However exotic special counsel Mueller was, I have to say on the whole he had a very objective investigation and he confirmed that there are no traces whatsoever of collusion between Russia and the incumbent administration, which we said was absolutely fake.


O`DONNELL:  Vladimir Putin neglected to mention that the Mueller report conclusively proves that Vladimir Putin ordered Russia`s interference in our presidential election.  Vladimir Putin neglected to mention that Robert Mueller indicted 13 members of the Russian military who carried out Vladimir Putin`s order to attack American democracy.

Tonight, the "Associated Press" is reporting after an FBI briefing, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis says Russian hackers gained access to voter databases in two Florida counts ahead of the 2016 election.  The governor said he signed an agreement with the FBI not to disclose the names of the counties, but elections officials in those counties are aware of the intrusions.

After this break, we will consider how many ways Robert Mueller will disagree with Vladimir Putin when Robert Mueller eventually testifies to the House Judiciary Committee.


O`DONNELL:  What is it like for Robert Mueller sitting at home tonight watching Vladimir Putin lie about the Mueller report and Donald Trump lie about the Mueller report and what will Robert Mueller have to say about that when he eventually does testify to the House Judiciary Committee?

Joining us now, Ben Rhodes, former deputy national security adviser to President Obama and Ned Price, former CIA analyst and a former senior director and spokesperson for the National Security Council in the Obama administration.  Both are MSNBC contributors.

Ben, I really want to get your reaction to what you heard Vladimir Putin say today about the Mueller report.

BEN RHODES, FORMER OBAMA DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR:  Well, first of all, Lawrence, it`s kind of chilling to hear the president of Russia, an adversary of the United States that we know is still currently, actively aiming to undermine our democracy echo the words of the president of the United States, using the exact same formulation that there was no collusion.

And also to know that the Trump administration, whether it`s President Trump or Secretary of State Pompeo, is going to do nothing, nothing to address the finding in the Mueller report that Vladimir Putin directed the systematic attack on our democracy in 2016 and is planning to do that again in 2020.

This is happening right before our eyes, a foreign adversary attacking our democracy, and we have an administration that is doing nothing about that, despite the very clear findings in the Mueller report.

O`DONNELL:  And we know the administration`s doing nothing and we know you`re not allowed to mention it to the president of the United States if you work in the Trump administration, but Mike Pompeo did mention it in Russia today when he was with the foreign minister Sergei Lavrov.  Let`s listen to that.


MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE:  I made clear to Foreign Minister Lavrov, as we`ve made it clear for the past months, that interference in American elections is unacceptable.  If the Russians were to engage in that in 2020, it would put our relationship in an even worse place than it has been and I encourage them not to do that, that we would not tolerate that.


O`DONNELL:  Ned Price, that`s what Mike Pompeo says to reporters but Lavrov is sitting there knowing that the United States has done absolutely nothing about this.

NED PRICE, FORMER CIA ANALYST:  Well, and Lavrov is also sitting there knowing that President Trump himself, on numerous occasions, has had an opportunity to raise this with Vladimir Putin and failed to do so, the individual who was responsible for this multi-problem attack on our democracy and failed to do so.  Most recently failed to do so during their May 3rd phone conversation.

Look, I think the broader point here, Lawrence, is that we`re seeing this strange and wild metamorphosis that Ben alluded to.  If you were just reading a transcript of President Trump and President Putin, you would have a hard time discerning which one was the purported leader of the free world and which one was the former KGB head and now head of the Russian Federation.

Let me just give you a couple of examples.  In their phone call earlier this month, President Trump immediately thereafter took to Twitter and gleefully announced that they had discussed the "Russian hoax".  The Kremlin, for its part, actually put out this pretty professional-sounding readout that sounds like a readout that Ben or I would have put out in the Obama administration, saying they discussed issues of mutual concern.

Today, moreover, President Putin, as you showed, actually referred to the Mueller report as objective.  Meanwhile, half a world away President Trump was attacking the director of the FBI.  The leader of the free world is increasingly mimicking and taking on the tones of the person who attacked us in 2016 and continues that today.

O`DONNELL:  And, Ben, the president knows that he came in second in the vote and won the electoral college just barely with the help of Russia and Vladimir Putin.  Why would the president think he doesn`t need the help of Russia and Vladimir Putin this time, and when you hear Mike Pompeo saying that would not be tolerated, they just wouldn`t tolerate it if Russia helped Donald Trump again, we just won`t tolerate that?

RHODES:  Yes.  Look, I don`t believe Mike Pompeo for a second that he pressed Sergei Lavrov on this.  There are very concrete things they should be doing.

You heard about the hacking of the voter rolls in Florida.  We could be providing cybersecurity assistance to all our states to protect our elections.  We could be imposing additional consequences on Russia through sanctions to deter them from doing this.  We should be working with tech companies to get at the poison that is entering the social media accounts of Americans from Russia intervention in our election.

What worries me, Lawrence is they want the Russians to intervene again.  They`ve essentially said that the Mueller report showed nothing wrong.  They`re signaling, we welcome foreign intervention in our elections.

And the reality is if in 2016 this took place, imagine what could take place in 2020 with Donald Trump having all the resources of the U.S. federal government at his disposal seeking Russian intervention in our election, seeking any advantage he can get on a Democrat.  This is something that really should be getting alarm bells ringing in Congress.  And, frankly, aggressive action from the House Democratic majority to figure out what is going on here and what needs to be done and putting things on the table like funding for government agencies that are supposed to be protecting our democracy and essentially have been told to stand down by the president of the United States.

O`DONNELL:  And, Ned, in the middle of these kinds of news developments like Vladimir Putin on the Mueller report and so forth, we have the administration in some kind of increased posture of confrontation with Iran.  And with this administration, with this president, it`s very difficult to tell how real that is or how much of that is simply a Donald Trump distraction from other news that he doesn`t want people paying attention to.

PRICE:  Well, that`s right.  And unfortunately, you know, the stakes with Iran are incredibly high.  The stakes with Venezuela are incredibly high.  But the fact of the matter is that this administration has squandered its credibility across the globe with our foreign policy, but especially with Iran.

Look, you listen to John Bolton and to people like Mike Pompeo talk about an increased threat from Iran and you can`t help but think back to the early part of the 2000s when John Bolton was very credibly accused of manipulating intelligence.  And he actually was not -- his nomination as our ambassador to the United Nations did not go through.

You look at Mike Pompeo, who as CIA director actually manipulated and weaponized intelligence, releasing information that painted a picture of a close relationship between Iran and Al Qaeda, a relationship that is anything but close, in an effort to tie Iran to a terrorist organization, Al Qaeda, so that it would fall under what`s called the authorization for the use of military force of 2001.

You look at the steps they have taken and you look at the contradiction between what the Brits have said, what our closest allies have said, Pompeo`s counterparts that he flew to Brussels and got a chilly reception from this week, and you see a stark contrast.  And we can`t help but think that it`s our administration, not the others, who are increasingly manipulating and off the reservation when it comes to the fact of the -- the facts on the ground in Iran.

O`DONNELL:  Ben Rhodes, quick last word on the situation with Iran.

RHODES:  I take this very seriously, Lawrence.  We have reports of military planning and we have an administration that essentially has been trying to goad Iran into giving them a pretext for war.  This feels very similar -- this is deja vu all over again to the Iraq war.

This is John Bolton cooking up intelligence again.  This is moving military assets to the Middle East.  A war with Iran would be a disaster and we have a president of the United States who has consistently lied about the threat from Iran.  I think we all have to be very concerned about the direction this is taking because it`s nowhere good.

O`DONNELL:  Ben Rhodes and Ned Price, thank you both for joining us tonight.  Really appreciate it.

And when we come back, the NRA is finally attacking the right enemy, itself.


O`DONNELL:  The Daniel Patrick Moynihan Prize was established in 2008 by the American Academy of Political and Social Science to recognize public officials and scholars who make major contributions to public policy.

Alice Rivlin was the perfect first recipient of the Moynihan Prize because like Senator Moynihan, her career included a combination of scholarship and public service.  Congress literally did not know what it was doing until Alice Rivlin became the first head of the newly formed Congressional Budget Office in 1975.

Before that, Congress used to legislate with only the wildest of guesses about how much things cost.  Alice Rivlin changed all that by issuing the official cost estimates for legislation that Congress was then required to use.

Her first government position was as an assistant secretary in President Johnson`s Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.  She served in President Clinton`s cabinet as the director of the Office of Management and Budget.  She later served on the Federal Reserve.

Between government positions, Alice Rivlin repeatedly returned to the Brookings Institution where she contributed to policy papers and always instructive op-ed pieces.  She once told "The New York Times", "I`m a writer who sometimes serves in government rather than a government worker who sometimes writes."

I saw the awe with which Senator Moynihan, himself, a world-class -- a world-renowned scholar and a former Harvard professor always regarded Alice Rivlin when she testified to his committee or conferred with him privately in his office.  That awe was shared by most members of Congress on both sides of the aisle in those days who always wanted to know the same thing.  What does Alice think?

The Brookings Institution announced that Alice Rivlin passed away today.  Alice Rivlin was 88-years-old.


O`DONNELL:  The National Rifle Association has finally picked the right battle with the right enemy.  That enemy, of course, is the National Rifle Association.

At the center of that war within the NRA stands the NRA`s Chief Executive, Wayne LaPierre.  Now, I have to admit to being wrong about Wayne LaPierre because I`ve always said that he devoted his professional life to making sure that America`s mass murderers are the very best equipped mass murderers in the world but it turns out, he`s also devoted his professional life to wildly and probably very illegally abusing the finances of the National Rifle Association, which is to say abusing the $35 a year that NRA members send to Wayne LaPierre for their memberships.

When "The Wall Street Journal" first reported on the stunning level of Wayne LaPierre`s personal use of NRA money, the NRA`s new president, Caroline Meadows released a statement saying "the entire board is fully aware of these issues.  We have full confidence in Wayne LaPierre."

That didn`t sound quite right at the time.  And now we know just how untrue it is because one of the board members released a statement today calling Caroline Meadows` statement "outright lies".  Alan West served one term as a Republican member of the House of Representatives and is now in his second term as an NRA board member.

And today, he issued a written statement saying, "I have never been told, advised, informed, or consulted about any of these details mentioned in "The Wall Street Journal" and who knows how much more despicable spending of members` money."

Alan West added, "These statements have maliciously, recklessly, and purposefully put me and uninformed board members in legal jeopardy."  Alan West is trying to make it very clear that he has no part in the financial fraud that is now being exposed at the NRA.

Alan West revealed today that he supported former NRA President Oliver North`s effort to get Wayne LaPierre to resign before all of this scandal became public but Wayne LaPierre won that power struggle inside the NRA and forced Oliver North to resign.

Alan West says, "There is a cabal of cronyism operating within the NRA and that exists within the board of directors."  This is becoming public because the NRA decided to sue the advertising agency that it had used for many years, claiming that the advertising agency`s billing was inaccurate and unjustifiable.

And so as part of responding to that lawsuit, the advertising agency sent this letter to Wayne LaPierre in an attempt to clarify some of the underlying costs in the bills that the agency had sent to the NRA.  The letter says, "We need to address your wardrobe.  You required us to provide, specifically purchases at the Zegna Store in Beverly Hills."

And right there in the middle of the letter is the breathtaking total that Wayne LaPierre spent on clothing which he billed to the NRA`s advertising agency which then rebilled that to the NRA so that Wayne LaPierre`s clothes were actually paid for with NRA dues, $274,695.03, all from just one store.  In Beverly Hills.

Twice Wayne LaPierre spent $39,000 in a single day at the Zegna Store.  The last time Wayne LaPierre spent $39,000 in a day at the Zegna Store was September 22, 2015.

And that should have been enough clothes for the rest of his life but a year later, he spent $4,185 at the same store.  And then five months after that, he spent another $21,080 at the Zegna Store in Beverly Hills.

All of it, NRA dues money.  The advertising agency that paid for the purchases at the store no doubt deducted the $274,000 as a legitimate business expense, which it is not.  And so the advertising agency is now in real trouble with the IRS.

Wayne LaPierre is now in probably bigger trouble with the IRS because according to tax law, the hundreds of thousands of dollars in clothing that Wayne LaPierre grabbed out of that store in Beverly Hills is considered regular income to Wayne LaPierre, $274,000 of regular income.

And surely, Wayne LaPierre is very unlikely to declare that as income on his tax returns.  So Wayne LaPierre is probably in very, very deep tax trouble now.  Then comes the law firm that has represented the NRA for years.

Today in the "Daily Beast," Betsy Woodruff reports that the NRA has been paying an outside law firm $100,000 a day.  None of the legal experts who have studied the billing can understand it.  $100,000 a day, that`s just off the charts, said Deborah Rhode, a legal ethics expert from Stanford Law School.

The law firm sells itself as a multitasking law firm and includes in its list of skills crisis management.  And now the NRA`s law firm`s outrageous billing has delivered a new crisis to the NRA which no one can manage.

The New York State attorney general is investigating all of this for violations of New York State`s laws and regulations governing non-profit groups like the NRA.  Wayne LaPierre`s lavish personal spending has not been limited to clothes.  He also spent a couple hundred thousand dollars on air travel and a very peculiar expense for an apartment in Fairfax, Virginia, for a summer intern.

Wayne LaPierre spent well over $4,000 per month, per month, for an apartment for a young woman who was a summer intern for a total summer rent of of $13,804.84 all paid for -- with NRA dues and that is a very, very expensive apartment for Fairfax, Virginia.  Wayne Lapierre and the NRA`s crisis management law firm have not offered one word of explanation about that apartment that Wayne Lapierre rented for the summer for that young woman.  Not one word.

Wayne Lapierre and the NRA`s law firm and the NRA board members who are at war with each other are going to need a lot more crisis management.  That`s tonight`s LAST WORD.  "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.