IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Mueller's day before the cameras. TRANSCRIPT: 5/16/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell.

Guests: Raja Krishnamoorthi; Jamie Raskin; David Cay Johnston Tim O`Brien;Rosa DeLauro

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

Well, it was unredacted day a little bit. 


O`DONNELL:  I mean, and really powerfully interesting new information to put it mildly that was unredacted in that court filing. 

MADDOW:  Oh, yes.  I mean, the Flynn stuff about what Flynn cooperated on and then just like the follow-up rulings from the judge, oh, and by the way, I want the recordings of the intimidating phone call from the president`s lawyer when he called you in the middle of the night and told you not to cooperate, and I want the recording of you talking to the Russian.  And, oh, by the way, I`m ordering the Justice Department to publicly release an unredacted Mueller report, right?  Wow. 

O`DONNELL:  So, the thing about wanting to hear the recording makes perfect sense to me because when you read the transcript of the reporting in the Mueller report as I`m about to do on TV, there are what appear to be edits in it.  There`s these little ellipses throughout.  So, they seem to be taking words out for whatever reason and so it makes perfect sense that the judges want to know, OK, what`s that -- I need everything that`s in that, especially since that call is taken to be in the Mueller report a piece of the obstruction of justice case. 

MADDOW:  That`s right.  And you know, the ellipses when you have a block quote like that and it`s got ellipses and it`s about what one person in a conversation was saying, it`s often because they`re taking a recording of a conversation between two people or whatever.  But that was a recording of a voice mail. 

O`DONNELL:  Right. 

MADDOW:  So the ellipses in the edited pieces or whatever you really want to know what`s in there.  But, apparently, we the public are going to get the transcript.  The judge is it going to get the recording.  I wouldn`t be surprised if we ultimately get the recording, too. 

O`DONNELL:  And, Rachel, before you go, one little note that struck me that was part of what was unredacted today.  It says Michael Flynn was subject to potential interference in his testimony by people connected with the administration and then Congress. 

MADDOW:  And Congress. 

O`DONNELL:  Does that mean members of Congress?  Does that mean congressional staff?  Does that mean Devin Nunes best friend?  What is that? 

That "Congress" word jumped out at me like the most enormous possibility in there. 

MADDOW:  Exactly.  Who connected to Congress, or like -- you know, who has -- with congressional reference is contacting Michael Flynn about his cooperation?  I mean, you know, there`s been some intriguing stuff about members of Congress in the Manafort prosecution, there was redacted stuff that seemed to indicate beside with congressional connections may have done bad stuff, that Manafort got in trouble with.  There`s this reference in terms of somebody related to Congress having taken part in what appears to be an obstructive effort in getting Flynn not to cooperate. 

I mean, I don`t know, there`s 14 redacted cases that -- or 12 of the 14 cases that derive from Mueller`s prosecution that were referred to other prosecutors are ones we haven`t seen, the possibility that zoom of that has something to do with people in Congress is mind bending.  I`ve got a suspects list in my head right now.  We`re going to save that for later. 

Thank you, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  Thanks, Lawrence. 

O`DONNELL:  Well, the Trump trade wars are really hurting the American farmer.  The American farmer is the biggest loser in the Trump trade war and so, Donald Trump is just taking taxpayer money and handing it to American farmers and many of them really need it because they`ve lost so many billions of dollars in trade with China and other countries. 

And the biggest winner, one of two of the biggest winners in the Trump handouts of money to American farmers turn out to be two Brazilian criminals who are not allowed to leave the country of Brazil by their own government.  They also happen to be brothers and they are collecting $62 million in that cash to compensate farmers.  They`re collecting $62 million of it.  We`re going to have that story for you later in this hour, and the congresswoman who is fighting exactly that and has introduced legislation to fight exactly that.  Rosa DeLauro will join us. 

But, first, as I was just discussing with Rachel, the situation that has happened today in federal court because of these new unredacted elements in the Mueller investigation, Attorney General William Barr is refusing to provide Congress with an unredacted version of the Mueller report, but Robert Mueller has apparently decided to unredact some court filings today that reveal more about the obstruction of justice case against the president and how that obstruction of justice case includes the president`s personal lawyer. 

Robert Mueller also revealed more today about Trump campaign officials` interest in WikiLeaks` delivery of stolen e mails from Hillary Clinton`s campaign chairman. 

Today`s revelations are part of the sentencing process for President Trump`s first national security adviser Michael Flynn who has not yet been sentenced.  Apparently, now, that the Mueller report has been released, the special counsel`s office has decided they can remove some of the redactions in a sentencing memo about Michael Flynn that they filed last December.  In December, half of a sentence in the middle of page 3 was redacted. 

That sentence reads now: The defendant assisted the special counsel`s office investigation on a range of issues including interactions between individuals in the presidential transition team and Russia. 

And today, the redaction of the rest of that sentence was lifted and we see it says: The defendant assisted the special counsel`s office investigation on a range of issues including interactions between individuals in the presidential transition team and Russia, discussions within the campaign about WikiLeaks release of e mails and potential efforts to interfere with the special counsel`s office investigation. 

More details were unredacted on page four of that document today.  There is the redacted version of page four.  Here is the unredacted version of page four.  The unredacted materials include this line, the defendant recalled conversations with senior campaign officials after the release of the Podesta e-mails during which the prospect of reaching out to WikiLeaks was discussed.

On page 52 volume one of the Mueller report details with the Trump campaign about WikiLeaks.  It includes several redactions because of what the Mueller report calls an ongoing matter, meaning an ongoing case or investigation.  That probably in this instance refers to the Roger Stone case, in which Roger Stone is accused of lying about WikiLeaks. 

What Rick Gates told the special counsel`s office is redacted except for the final sentence saying: Gates recalled candidate Trump being generally frustrated at the Clinton emails had not been found.

On page 54 of volume 1 of the Mueller report, there is more from Rick Gates about WikiLeaks, including a partially redacted conversation he had with candidate Trump.  According to Gates, by the late summer of 2016, the Trump campaign was planning a press strategy, a communications campaign, a messaging based on the possible release of Clinton emails by which can WikiLeaks and then you see there is a redaction and the next words are: while Trump and Gates were driving to LaGuardia airport. 

Another redaction, then, quote, shortly after the call, candidate Trump told Gates that more releases of damaging information would be coming.

Those redactions about what was said to candidate Trump about WikiLeaks and what candidate Trump said to Rick Gates about WikiLeaks are crucial to any investigation of the presidency by Congress.  That is why the Democrats in the House Judiciary Committee are demanding the unredacted Mueller report.  Another newly unredacted portion of the court filing today shows another element of the obstruction of justice investigation of the president and this one includes the president`s lawyer. 

The newly unredacted sentences in the court filing today about obstruction of justice say the defendant assisted the special counsel`s office investigation into potential efforts to interfere with or otherwise obstruct its investigation, the defendant informed the government of multiple instances both before and after his guilty plea where he either he or his attorneys received communications from persons connected to the administration or Congress that is could have affected both his willingness to cooperate and the completeness of that cooperation.  The defendant even provided a voice mail recording of one, such communication income some of those instances, the special counsel`s office was unaware of the outreach until being alerted to it by the defendant.

That new little unredacted material links up with page 128, 121 of volume two of the Mueller report which includes what appears to be a partial transcript of a voice mail that one of Michael Flynn`s lawyers received after Michael Flynn began cooperating with the prosecutors. 

In late November, 2017, Flynn began to cooperate with this office.  On November 22nd, 2017, Flynn withdrew from a joint defense agreement he had with the president.  Flynn`s counsel told the president`s personal counsel and counsel for the White House that is Flynn could no longer have confidential communications with the White House or the president. 

Later that night, the president`s personal counsel left a voice mail for Flynn`s counsel that said, I understand your situation but let me see if I can state it in starker terms.  It wouldn`t surprise me if you`ve gone on to make a deal with the government, if there`s information that implicates the president, then we`ve got a national security issue, so you know, we need some kind of heads-up.  Just for the sake of protecting all our interests if we can, remember what we`ve always said about the president and his feelings toward Flynn, and that still remains. 

On November 23rd, 2017, Flynn`s attorneys returned the call from the president`s personal counsel to acknowledge repeat of the voice mail.  Flynn`s attorneys reiterated that they were no longer in a position to share information under any sort of privilege.  According to Flynn`s attorneys, the president`s personal counsel was indignant and vocal in his disagreement. 

The president`s personal counsel said that he interpreted what they said to him as a reflection of Flynn`s hostility towards the president and that he planned to inform his client of that interpretation.  Flynn`s attorneys understood that statement to be an attempt to make them reconsider their position because the president`s personal counsel believed that Flynn would be disturbed to know that such a message would be conveyed to the president. 

A footnote to that passage in the Mueller report says, because of attorney/client privilege issues, we did not seek to interview the president`s personal counsel about the extent to which he discussed his statements to Flynn`s attorneys with the president.  That section of the Mueller report does not identify the president`s personal counsel by name but at that time, Washington attorney John Dowd was acting as the president`s personal counsel before he quit because as John Dowd told Bob Woodward in Bob Woodward`s bestselling book "Fear," John Dowd believed that his client, the president of the United States, was, quote, an f-ing liar. 

Leading off our discussion tonight are Mimi Rocah, former federal prosecutor and MSNBC legal contributor, and Walter Dellinger, he`s a former assistant attorney general and the head of the Office of Legal Counsel under President Clinton.  He`s also acting solicitor general in the Clinton administration. 

And, Walter, I`d like to start with you tonight.  You wrote an op-ed piece in the "Washington Post" saying that Congress doesn`t need the unredacted Mueller report at this stage.  They have enough to proceed to impeachment if that`s what they`re going to do. 

What does tonight`s information add to that? 

WALTER DELLINGER, FORMER ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL:  Well, what tonight`s information showed is that we`re just learning more and more about the massive efforts to obstruct justice on the part of the president.  It`s not that the unredacted materials wouldn`t be useful.  It`s not that the Congress isn`t fully entitled to them.  They certainly are. 

It`s just the emphasis on seeking out the redacted materials obscures the fact we have massive bases for finding that the president obstructed justice in the worst of high crimes and misdemeanors in multiple ways and what Attorney General Barr did has obscured that, the facts that led more than 900 former federal prosecutors to say that these are indictable offenses. 

O`DONNELL:  Mimi Rocah, I want to get your reaction to this voice mail from John Dowd.  Again, it doesn`t identify John Dowd in particular but John Dowd was the president`s personal attorney at the time and when attorneys are communicating, it`s very clear who they would be communicating with this had situation. 

When Michael Flynn`s lawyers tell John Dowd, we can no longer participate in a joint defense agreement, they say that John Dowd was indignant and vocal in his disagreement.  He`s disagreeing with Michael Flynn`s lawyers saying, yes you can, you can still tell me everything. 

MIMI ROCAH, MSNBC LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR:  Right.  I mean, he`s wrong as a matter of law when he says that because once there is no longer a joint defense agreement, which happens automatically when someone is cooperating which by this point they well knew that Flynn was cooperating, once the joint defense agreement goes away, there`s no basis for him to be sharing - - for Flynn`s lawyer to be sharing information anymore with Trump`s lawyer. 

I mean, it`s not only that he can`t.  He shouldn`t be, right?  Because now we have attorney/client privilege basically in effect again.  That`s how it sort of comes back to cloak the communications. 

So, I mean, this was sounds to me like he didn`t like the answer he was getting because he didn`t like the fact that Flynn was cooperating.  That`s what he was -- that`s what Dowd or whoever it was who was communicating was getting angry at, right?  It was the fact that Flynn was actually cooperating.  And to get angry at a witness for cooperating is trying to dissuade them from cooperating.  So, that is an obstructive act in my mind. 

Now, it`s very interesting as you pointed out.  I mean, you immediately think why is this not yet another obstructive act that Trump should be responsible for.  Let`s put the lawyer`s awful conduct aside for a second.  And it just seems that Mueller wasn`t able to get to the bottom of was this is something that was directed by Trump, did he have discussions with Trump about doing this when he communicated it to Flynn`s counsel. 

I mean, I think that we can all assume that it was something that Trump understood was happening even if it wasn`t explicit but he wasn`t able to get the facts that you see Mueller have elsewhere so detailed in the report. 

O`DONNELL:  Walter Dellinger, this conversation, the voice mail and the conversation from John Dowd from the president`s personal lawyer strike me as a disbarable material for an attorney.  It appears to be the special counsel reported it in the context of the obstruction of justice mosaic that he assembled involving the president and now the president`s lawyer. 

But what do you make of Robert Mueller`s decision not to attempt to interview the president`s personal lawyer on the grounds of attorney/client privilege which, of course, does not extend to violations of law by the attorney? 

DELLINGER:  Right.  I think that`s an instance one of many in which Mueller has leaned over backwards to be fair to the president and his team.  But the other large reason I think he did not, Lawrence, is that look at what we already know that the president himself had done.  We have multiple senior officials who testified under pain of false statement that the president ordered the firing of Mueller, that he ordered the White House counsel to leave a false memorandum to the file denying that.  That he tried to get the attorney general to unrecuse and to preclude the investigation from going into the 2016 campaign. 

All of that the president was personally involved in and should have spawned a reaction as soon as the Mueller report was released that this is a high crimes and misdemeanors of the highest order. 

O`DONNELL:  Mimi, the Mueller report we`ve been concentrating so much on volume two because that`s where all the obstruction of justice framing is, but this filing in court today sent us back to volume one and back to WikiLeaks.  And there you see these redacted paragraphs with Rick Gates who is in a car going to LaGuardia airport with candidate Donald Trump and they are talking about WikiLeaks and that is almost entirely redacted. 

ROCAH:  Yes.  There`s no questions that what this highlights I think these unredacted redactions tonight that we don`t know the full extent even now, even sitting here of Trump and the -- Trump personally and his campaign but him personally, the extent of his involvement in -- you know, the contacts with Russia and trying to get information about Hillary Clinton`s e mails.  Whether or not they constitute a crime that they are behavior that we would all be quite -- that would be relevant to impeachment hearings.  We just don`t know the full extent of it yet. 

That`s part of why we need this to be a full unredacted report.  But it reminds us that we`re so caught up in the legal battles that are going on every day because they`re compelling and they`re important.  But the substance of this report and what we still don`t even know yet is just, it`s mind blowing how corrupt his behavior was both in with respect to Russia and with respect to obstruction.  We need to get the focus back on that conduct. 

O`DONNELL:  We`re going to have to take a break here.  Walter Dellinger and Mimi Rocah, thank you both very much for starting us off tonight on this new legal material.  Very much appreciate it.  Thank you. 

DELLINGER:  You`re welcome, Lawrence. 

O`DONNELL:  When we come back, what will Congress do about the president?  Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi and Congressman Jamie Raskin will join us next.

And later, the president releases his annual financial disclosure forms which tell us absolutely nothing about his real financial condition, but we did discover some very interesting things about the third Mrs. Donald Trump in the financial disclosure forms.  That`s coming up. 


O`DONNELL:  Attorney General Barr says it`s Bob`s call.  He told "The Wall Street Journal" this about Robert Mueller testifying to the House Judiciary Committee.  It`s Bob`s call whether he wants to testify. 

Well, that surprised Chairman Jerry Nadler. 


REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY):  Attorney General Barr says he has no objection to Mueller appearing.  We`ve been negotiating with the Department of Justice and they simply are dragging their feet at fixing a date.  So we`ll continue trying to fix a date.  If it goes too long, we`ll have to consider a subpoena. 

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  So, at this point you think -- 

NADLER:  Right now, they`re saying, fix a date. 


O`DONNELL:  Former Attorney General Eric Holder told NBC Congress already has the information it needs for impeachment. 


ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL:  There are grounds for impeachment.  I said, if you look at the second part of the Mueller report, there`s no question that obstruction of justice does exist in the findings that Bob Mueller reported.  And in painstaking detail and that in and of itself would be the basis for impeachment. 

I think the House needs to gather evidence, need to hear from Bob Mueller.  They need to get the entirety of the report and then make a reasoned decision whether or not they`re going to go forward with the impeachment process. 


O`DONNELL:  Joining us now, two Democratic members of Congress who represent the big three -- the big three investigative committees in the House of Representatives.  Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois is a member of the House Oversight Committee and the House Intelligence Committee.  And Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland is a member of the House Oversight Committee and the House Judiciary Committee. 

Thank you very much for joining us tonight. 

You -- I have to assume are you feeling increasing pressure about the issue of impeachment.  Congressman, you just heard the former attorney general, you just heard in our first segment tonight, Walter Dellinger, former Justice Department official himself, his op-ed piece today in the "Washington Post" saying the Judiciary Committee already has more than enough for impeachment. 

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD):  Yes, it`s like water behind a dam.  The pressure is just building every day for impeachment.  And you know, we got more evidence today leaked out from the redacted portions of the report which confirm everybody`s sense that there was presidential obstruction of justice.  We knew of 10 or 11 episodes of it that were invoked in the unredacted portions by special counsel Mueller.  Now we know about you know, more evidence of it coming from Michael Flynn. 

It just seems overwhelming.  You know, I think there were more than 800 federal prosecutors, that his former colleagues of the attorney general, who came out and said when they read the redacted version of the report, they are convinced that this would be brought as an obstruction of justice prosecution and an indictment in federal court against anybody other than the president and the special counsel says out of deference to the rule that the DOJ doesn`t indict the president, we`ll kick it over to the House of Representatives. 

So what is an impeachment, an impeachment is an indict by the House of Representatives that goes over to the Senate and then there`s a trial over there.  So, I think the pressure is building.  You know, we understand that it`s not an up or down vote.  A lot of people say are you for or against impeachment.  That`s not what it`s about it. 

The question is: are you for an impeachment inquiry?  Do you think there`s enough evidence to suggest there were high crimes and misdemeanors against the United States.  And there were three articles in the Nixon articles of impeachment.  OK? 

So, one of them was -- the first was obstruction of justice.  The second was abuse of power and the third was contempt of Congress.  Sound familiar? 

O`DONNELL:  Congressman Krishnamoorthi, we see in the new unredacted elements of the court filings today the potential for what`s actually in the Mueller report in what is still redacted.  We see references to Rick Gates, Donald Trump in a car on the way to LaGuardia airport, they are talking about WikiLeaks.  We know that from the beginning of the paragraph and from the little hints at the end of the paragraph but we don`t know what`s in the middle. 

And that it`s what your chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Congressman Schiff, is trying to obtain.  That speaks directly to the interests of the Intelligence Committee. 


In a bipartisan request with Chairman Schiff and Ranking Member Devin Nunes, they asked for the counterintelligence findings that we`re statutorily obligated to receive from the special counsel`s office and the Department of Justice.  We haven`t seen them yet. 

O`DONNELL:  I want to stop you there for a second to underline this for the audience.  Your committee, the Intelligence Committee, operates under different rules from the rest of the committee and there are actually provisions made specifically for your committee to receive some of the material that is specifically redacted in the Mueller report currently.


Just for your viewers background, there was actually members of the FBI who were embedded in the special counsel`s office who were collecting counterintelligence information, and that was collected in presumably some kind of repository.  We are obligated to receive that by statute. 

And so, that`s what we`re in bipartisan way trying to attempt to receive right now.  The reason is very plain.  Even if the 140 plus contacts between Trump and Russian officials did not possibly amount to criminal conspiracy, they may have involved incredibly embarrassing information, information that the Russians could use to manipulate current Trump officials to endanger national security. 

Just one other observation you mentioned that perhaps someone connected to Congress may have obstructed the probe or influence the probe.  I can tell you tonight, it wasn`t me.  I don`t think it was Jamie either. 

O`DONNELL:  Yes, and that was for me one of the stunning things we learned today by unredacting some of these lines in the filing is that the special counsel is saying that people close to the president, people close to the administration, and people close to Congress including possibly members of Congress.

Congressman Raskin, what was your reaction to that? 

RASKIN:  Well, first of all, I appreciate being absolved of that particular offense by my colleague. 

No, it`s alarming but to me it`s not surprising because in fact, we know that there are key members of the Republican caucus who have been acting in very close coordination with the White House from the beginning.  The whole phony deep state conspiracy theory where they decided to go after Peter Strzok and Lisa Page is something that was closely coordinated between the White House and the Republicans in Congress.  They`re trying to revive it now.  They say let`s get back to the real business of Congress which is going after Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, you know, avoid all of the corruption, avoid all of the obstruction, avoid the emoluments clause, let`s talk about the deep state conspiracy theory.

And they`re also the ones who`ve been advancing this extreme absolutist interpretation of the Constitution which is the unitary executive theory, the president can do whatever he wants with respect to the executive branch.  He can fire people, he can end criminal investigations.  I mean, ultimately, that`s where their argument is going even if all of this is true, it could not be obstruction of justice. 

That`s why Attorney General Barr was hired because he wrote this 18-page single space memo which said the president literally cannot be found guilty of obstructing justice because he sits atop the law enforcement machinery like a king.

And now, our colleagues in Congress, unfortunately, are going along with that on the Republican side.  So they`re forcing a very dramatic constitutional confrontation about the powers of Congress, the Article I branch, the lawmaking branch which has the political sovereignty of the people versus the power of the president.

And we say he`s got one core job which is to take care of the laws that they`re faithfully executed, not flouted, not circumvented, and not violated.  And if you trample the rule of law, we`ve got the power to impeach you.  You don`t have the power to impeach us.

O`DONNELL:  Congressman Krishnamoorthi, quickly before we go.  Is your Intelligence Committee going to get testimony from Michael Flynn to find out who were those people close to Congress or in Congress who tried to influence him?

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  Good question.  I don`t know that our committee has actually taken up this matter yet.  Obviously, Chairman Schiff is probably reviewing his options right now and will then take appropriate measures.

But I think this all the more supports the conclusion that a lot of us have had for several days, if not weeks at this point, which is we need the full unredacted report, we need all the underlying documents, and we need Mr. Mueller to testify on Capitol Hill.

No filters.  No more filters.  We need to hear directly from Mr. Mueller.

O`DONNELL:  Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi and Congressman Jamie Raskin, thank you both for joining us tonight.  We really appreciate that.

RASKIN:  Thanks for having us.


O`DONNELL:  And when we come back, President Trump`s new financial disclosure form doesn`t tell us very much about his income but it tells us everything about Melania Trump`s income and a very interesting real estate asset that Melania Trump has.


O`DONNELL:  As a federal elected official, President Trump is required to file a financial disclosure form.  He did that today but it doesn`t really tell us what we need to know about Donald Trump`s income or his wealth or his debts.

Donald Trump could have debts greater than his assets or his income or he could be taking home much more money as president of the United States than he was as a private citizen.  He could have debts to foreign countries.  We don`t know.

The financial disclosure forms only show approximations of how much total cash, total revenue Donald Trump`s businesses took in.  They do not show how much those businesses had to then pay out in expenses and whether those businesses had any profits at all, that Donald Trump was able to take home for himself.

Only Donald Trump`s tax returns would tell the truth.  Unless, of course, Donald Trump is filing false tax returns.

The only thing that is starkly clear in the Trump financial disclosure form is that Donald Trump`s third wife Melania is completely financially dependent on him.  The disclosure form shows that she has an income of zero but that she does own her own apartment in New York City.

For more of the gems in the Trump financial disclosure form, we are very lucky tonight to have two experts in Trump finances.  They have both written books about Trump finances.  David Kay Johnston won his Pulitzer Prize for tax reporting at "The New York Times" and is exactly who we want to hear from tonight on the Trump financial disclosure form.

And Tim O`Brien`s book about Donald Trump`s finances got Tim O`Brien sued by Donald Trump, a lawsuit that Donald Trump lost but not before Tim O`Brien through the subpoena power of that lawsuit was allowed to see Donald Trump`s tax returns, the only reporter who has ever held one of those big things in his hands.

After this break, David Cay Johnston and Tim O`Brien will join us.


O`DONNELL:  There are only two real numbers about Donald Trump`s actual income in the financial disclosure forms that he filed today and those are his two pensions.  He receives a pension from the Screen Actors Guild of $90,776 a year and he receives a pension from the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists of $8,724 a year.  Everything else about Donald Trump`s finances comes down to guesswork.

We are now joined by two of the best-educated guessers about Donald Trump`s finances.  David Kay Johnston is the founder of and the author of "It`s Even Worse Than You Think, What the Trump Administration is Doing to America.  And Tim O`Brien is the executive editor of "Bloomberg Opinion" and an MSNBC contributor.  He has reported on Donald Trump for decades and was sued by Donald Trump and won.

And Tim, before that case was over, you got to look at several years of Trump tax returns.  The judge then limited, swore you all to no comment.  You can make no public comment about what`s in there.  But having seen Trump`s tax returns, having seen this financial disclosure form, what`s the difference?

TIM O`BRIEN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, BLOOMBERG OPINION:  Well, the difference is hundreds of millions of dollars.  That financial disclosure form is what his businesses are making.  He`s quite happy to sort of go along with the charade that that`s his income.

O`DONNELL:  But we don`t even know profit though.

O`BRIEN:  We don`t know.  We don`t know.

O`DONNELL:  (CROSSTALK) much money.  We don`t know what that means.

O`BRIEN:  And we know from good recent reporting, for example, "The Washington Oost" that Doral which is his golf course in Miami and one of his biggest holdings has been sucking wind for a couple of years.  We know from a recent report in "Bloomberg News" that Trump Tower is down on its heels.

The common bond between both of those properties is they have the Trump brand in them and people are starting to get turned off by that.  I think the larger thing to think about in terms of all of this is if Trump is hurting financially and he went into the presidency thinking it was going to help him financially, it only makes him more vulnerable to outside financial influences.

And I think this comes back to the whole confrontation between the Congress and the White House right now.  When Lindsey Graham and Mitch McConnell are saying the Mueller report is over, let`s move on, we don`t need to examine this again, the Congress is looking at the kinds of things buried in that financial disclosure report.

Where is Trump`s money hidden and what sources has he used to finance his operations?  And that goes way beyond Mueller`s mandate and that`s still a very fresh level of inquiry and it gets back on the things that haunted this White House since Trump first became president which is financial conflicts of interest.

O`DONNELL:  David Kay Johnston, you got your hands on one page, I guess it was, as I recall.


O`DONNELL:  The first page of one year of Trump tax returns that shows the basic summary data.  It doesn`t show all the sourcing and all of that but very, very useful to see.  And much more useful to see from my experience than what I was able to find in the financial disclosure forms.  What did you find in the financial disclosure form?

JOHNSTON:  Well, we should keep in mind that almost four years ago, Donald put out a statement saying that the financial disclosure form required a president was not designed for a man of Mr. Trump`s great wealth.


JOHNSTON:  Absolutely right.  Absolutely right.  One of the things we don`t know is of the more than $300 million of debts, what are the terms of those debts?

Are there covenants that he has to keep up or he could have balloon payments put upon him?  Who actually owns those debts and can call them in?  And if he`s paying on average five percent on the debts that he has and he`s making five percent of the total revenue, that means that he`s got about $5 million to $7 million a year to play with.

And given Donald Trump`s lifestyle, that may not be enough.  He may be under serious financial pressure.  We really need to have a much better understanding of who has leverage over him, what he is dependent on and we need to take a good hard look at the revenues at the Trump Washington Hotel right down the street from the White House.

O`DONNELL:  Tim, David mentioned lifestyle.  I`m glad he did because the fact of the matter is Donald Trump`s lifestyle has never been cheaper to maintain.  He`s no longer paying for the jet fuel.  It`s Air Force One.

O`BRIEN:  Free rent.

O`DONNELL:  Right.  And he`s getting actually big infusions of revenue because the Secret Service has to rent space in Trump Tower in Manhattan, space that no one else wants to rent by the way, and a variety of other things.  The Secret Service spends a lot of money on golf cart rentals at his places.  And so his actual -- his personal cost of living has probably dropped dramatically in the White House.

O`BRIEN:  It has.  And you know, he`s actually been an expert at living off the till even before he got to the White House.  His father kept him afloat during years when he was on the verge of personal bankruptcy.  When he ran a public company, the public company paid for his jet and gave him other perks that he was able to take advantage of.  And he`s brought that into the White House.

I think, again, regardless of how low his cost of living is, which I think right now is the lowest it`s probably ever been, he remains this obscure piggy bank that no one really has a handle on.  David talked about the hotel in Washington.  That remains one of the biggest sources of financial conflicts for him.

O`DONNELL:  And David, going forward, the House Ways and Means Committee, they`ve got their response to their subpoena tomorrow.  We know that Trump administration is not going to hand over those tax returns.  They`re going to continue to violate that law.

What do you see as the final legal route on getting those tax returns for the House Ways and Means Committee?

JOHNSTON:  Well, for starters, the New York State law that I think Governor Cuomo will sign shortly will be very important to getting at this.

O`DONNELL:  Because that law says that New York State will provide to -- basically, it`s a mirror of the federal law, they`ll provide to the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee the state tax returns and they basically reveal the basic data that`s in a federal tax return.

JOHNSTON:  That`s right.  And it`s important that Cuomo sign that bill when it reaches his desk and doesn`t come up with some excuse not to do so.  If we`re going to learn what we need to know about who has leverage over Trump, who is he obligated to.

O`DONNELL:  Well, the governor says he`s going to sign that.  David Cay Johnston, Tim O`Brien, thank you both for joining us tonight.

And when we come back, the Trump bailout for American farmers isn`t all going to American farmers.  Two criminals in Brazil have taken $62 million of the money that Donald Trump has been handing out to the farmers who have been losing in his trade war.


O`DONNELL:  American farmers continue to be the biggest losers in the Trump trade wars.  The United States is the world`s largest exporter of agricultural products but China and other countries that the president has gone to war with have cut their purchases of American agricultural exports.

And American farmers are now in such a financial depression that President Trump has now promised to simply hand American farmers $15 billion of your taxpayer money instead of the money that those farmers could be earning and would be earning in the export market that Donald Trump has now ruined.

The very biggest winners in the federal government`s handouts to farmers that the Trump administration has already delivered at taxpayer expense are not all Americans.  Two of them are Brazilian.  They are criminals living in Brazil who own massive agricultural companies in the United States.

"The New York Daily News" is reporting the Trump administration has forked over more than $62 million in taxpayer cash that was supposed to be earmarked for struggling American farmers to a massive meatpacking company owned by a couple of corrupt Brazilian brothers.

That Brazilian company, JBSSA, is currently the largest meatpacker in the world.  It`s owned by two brothers, Joesley and Wesley Batista, who have both spent time in Brazilian jail for bribing elected officials and are currently not allowed to leave the country of Brazil.

Last year, "Reuters" reported that the company owned by the two brothers is being investigated by the Justice Department for violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  And even though the company employs Americans through its Colorado-based subsidiary, it does not appear to be struggling as a result of the trade war.  In fact, it may be benefitting greatly from the trade war.

According to "The Daily News," the company`s exports to China ballooned to more than 24 percent in 2018, compared to less than 21 percent the previous year.  Democratic Connecticut Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro has introduced a bill to keep foreign-owned companies from receiving any of the Trump trade war bailout money.  She told "The Daily News," "it is clear the president is not the least bit knowledgeable about trade policy or aware of the chaos his failed approach has caused."

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro will join us next.


O`DONNELL:  Joining our discussion now, Democratic Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut.  Congresswoman, you saw this coming before "The Daily News" ever wrote a story about two Brazilian criminals getting $62 million from American taxpayers for bailout money for American farmers.  You introduced a bill to prevent exactly this.

REP. ROSA DELAURO (D-CT):  That`s right.  And you know, it really is outrageous.  We believed that the president said that this was a trade aid package that was going to help American businesses, American farmers.  And lo and behold, we`re looking at $62 million-plus that is going to two very corrupt brothers who have admitted manipulating the markets, who have admitted that they have bribed federal food inspectors and government officials.

They have served jail time.  As you pointed out, they are subjected of concern at the Department of Justice for Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  And, by the way, I might add that in their first quarter, they made $273 million.  They do not need to be bailed out.

It is American businesses, American farmers who are getting the short end of this stick.  They are hurting, not JBS and the Batista brothers.

O`DONNELL:  And there is not a farmer out there who wants to be getting this bailout money, they want to be selling their soybeans and their other products on the world market.

DELAURO:  That`s right.  They are indeed.  That`s -- the tremendous pride that they have in selling the product and what we have here is a failed trade policy.

And we all know that we have to have a different approach on a bipartisan basis.  We believe we need a different approach to China.  But the president is really almost willfully ignorant about trade policy and understanding the nuances of it.

And what`s happened, because of his trade policy and the failed policy that the collateral damage are American farmers and American businesses.  What we need to do is to be working with our allies.

If you -- you can be tough on China and look at industrial espionage and the subsidies that they provide, the prison camps that they`re engaged in, but we also need to be working with our allies in taking on China.  Taking a look at workers` rights and human rights and some of these other efforts, which are off the table.

But this view that you can create policy through a tweet and that because of some petulance or because you are annoyed is not a trade policy that will benefit American businesses and American farmers and that is outrageous.  And we need to provide what we do in the legislation to say no to foreign companies and buy from American companies and American farmers.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, thank you very much for joining us tonight.  Really appreciate it.

DELAURO:  Thank you.

O`DONELL:  Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro gets "Tonight`s Last Word."  "The 11th Hour" with Brian Williams starts now.