Rep. Nadler responds to McGahn. TRANSCRIPT: 5/20/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell.

Guests: Jim Himes, Glenn Kirschner, Jim Himes, David Cay Johnston, RickWilson

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST:  You mean, so I own 30 Rock now? 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Yes. 

O`DONNELL:  OK.  I`ll take that. 

MADDOW:  Unfortunately, it needs a plumbing upgrade and some new electrical. 

O`DONNELL:  It`s perfectly OK with me. 

Rachel, we have breaking news tonight from Chairman Jerry Nadler.  He`s just written a letter to Don McGahn in response to be Don McGahn`s lawyer as you know, of course, saying that Don McGahn won`t show up tomorrow because the president told him not to and the Justice Department said that`s OK because he has complete immunity from any kind of congressional subpoena.  Chairman Nadler points out that memo from the Justice Department isn`t really citing case law so much as citing itself, citing memos from that legal office over the decades. 

And Chairman Nadler points out that one of the Justice Department rules that is completely ignored in that memo is he says the Justice Department`s own be long-standing policy is that, quote, executive privilege should not be invoked to conceal evidence of wrongdoing or criminality on the part of executive officers. 

Amazing how that would have been left out of that memo today. 

MADDOW:  Well, and you know, for the White House to be asserting that people should defy subpoenas in the abstract because the White House believes or they can get the Office of Legal Counsel to state or the president`s lawyers aver something is true is one thing.  But when the subpoena goes to an individual who is no longer a government official and that individual is going to be the one who`s held liable for all the consequences that come from defying a subpoena, just putting exclamation points on your orders doesn`t necessarily make it any more likely that person is going to decide it`s in their interest to get themselves in legal trouble and legal jeopardy specifically because the president wants them to. 

I mean, Don McGahn has his own interests at this point.  And the president has dried to drag Don McGahn through the mud behind him at this point and McGahn`s got to do what he`s got to do for himself in addition to listening to what the White House is yelling at him. 

O`DONNELL:  But it really is astonishing that the Justice Department would produce this memo today and completely ignore that and several other points raised by Jerry Nadler, but that particular point which is the Justice Department`s own policy that is executive privilege should not be invoked in any matters involving possible, how do they put it, wrongdoing or criminality on the part of executive officers. 

MADDOW:  Right, and you know, where was that forged?  That was forged in the heat of Watergate when Nixon was trying to claim privilege over stuff where what he was doing when that stuff was finally exposed was plotting crimes.  It turned out, that can never be a privileged discussion.  Yes.  I mean, these fights are -- these fights are louder than they are saying at this point on the part of the White House, but I think they`re just hoping to stretch it out --

O`DONNELL:  So far, the president is only winning legal points inside the William Barr Justice Department. 

MADDOW:  Yes.

O`DONNELL:  Nowhere outside of that, like say, a courtroom. 

MADDOW:  That is a very good point especially tonight with the Mazars ruling, especially, yes. 

O`DONNELL:  Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW:  Thanks, Lawrence.  Cheers.

O`DONNELL:  Well, today saw a huge victory.  I mean huge and historic and important.  A huge victory for the House of Representatives and a crushing defeat and I mean historic, crushing defeat for President Trump in a ruling by a federal judge in Washington, a judge who wrote: This court is not prepared to roll back the tide of history. 

The case is Donald J. Trump versus Committee on Oversight and Reform of the House of Representative.  The president is suing to block Elijah Cummings subpoena of Trump financial documents from an accounting firm that did several years of work for Donald Trump and Trump businesses.  The judge ruled that the subpoena must be obeyed and the judge refused to grant a delay in the execution of his order because the judge said that Donald Trump`s lawsuit does not present, quote, serious legal questions about the subpoena. 

The judge said this is not a serious case.  The president doesn`t have a chance of prevailing. 

The president`s private attorney arguing the case told the court last week that Congress did not have a legitimate investigative reason for obtaining the Trump financial documents, the judge traced the committee`s interest in those documents in detail beginning with, who else, Stormy Daniels.  The judge noted that the committee was seeking, quote, documents related to Trump`s reporting of debts and payments to his personal attorney Michael Cohen to silence women alleging extramarital affairs with the president before the election.  The judge went on to list several other financial matters of legitimate interest to the committee and stressed, quote, Congress`s power to investigate is broad.

Judge Amit Mehta wrote: It is not the court`s role to decipher whether Congress`s true purpose in pursuing an investigation is to aid legislation or something more sinister such as exacting political retribution.  Congress`s motives are off limits. 

The president`s lawyer argued to the judge last week that Congress is not allowed to conduct criminal investigations.  It is only authorized to conduct investigations for legislative purposes.  To that, the judge said today, it is simply not fathomable that a constitution that grants Congress the power to remove a president for reasons including criminal behavior would deny Congress the power to investigate him for unlawful conduct past or present, even without formally opening an impeachment inquiry. 

Judge Mehta reminded us of the most historic investigations of presidents that began before impeachment proceedings. 

Quote: Twice in the last 50 years, Congress has investigated a sitting president for alleged law violations before initiating impeachment proceedings.  It did so in 1973 by establishing the Senate Select Committee on presidential campaign activities better known as the Watergate Committee and then did so again in 1995 by establishing the special committee to investigate Whitewater Development Corporation and related matters.  The former investigation included within its scope potential corruption by President Nixon while in office while the latter concerned alleged illegal misconduct by President Clinton before his time in office. 

Congress plainly views itself as having sweeping authority to investigate illegal conduct of a president before and after taking office.  This court is not prepared to roll back the tide of history.

Leading off our discussion now is Congressman Jim Himes, a Democrat from Connecticut and a member of the House Intelligence Committee and the House Financial Services Committee. 

Glenn Kirschner is with us.  He`s a former assistant U.S. attorney who has worked with special counsel Robert Mueller.  Glenn Kirschner was in the courtroom last week when that case was argued.

And Jill Wine-Banks is with us, a former assistant Watergate special prosecutor and an MSNBC legal analyst, who is surprised by none of these developments because she`s seen it all before. 

Congressman Himes, I want to start with you and what this ruling means on enforcing this subpoena against a White House that is trying to block every subpoena. 

REP. JIM HIMES (D-CT):  Yes, well, it`s not surprising.  I mean, you read Judge Mehta`s opinion well.  Look, two things are coming out tonight and this is not the end of the story, of course, because the Trump administration, Trump will appeal the judge`s decision. 

But two things are coming out tonight.  Number one, Congress is the Article 1 authority in this country with the power to investigate whatever it chooses.  And you know, that stems from something as basic as the notion that Congress is the one part of our government of the three parts of our government that is actually elected by the people. 

And that`s why it`s Article 1 and that`s why no matter who you are, whether you`re Don McGahn or Mazars or the Justice Department, you don`t get to say no to Congress except under Fifth Amendment privileges in the Constitution.  And, you know, that is the underlying theory under which the decision came down. 

The other thing, by the way, you know, Mnuchin producing tax returns.  The law could not be more clear that those returns must be produced.  So, the administration is saying, well, the motives of Congress are not to our liking.  You can imagine where the country goes if the question before a court is what the presumably undiscoverable motives of the Congress might or might not be. 

But, of course, the judge dispensed with that today in his decision. 

O`DONNELL:  Well, Congressman Himes, that`s so important because on the Ways and Means Committee case in which Chairman Richard Neal is demanding to see the Trump tax returns which the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee is legally empowered to do very specific law written that gives him that power and that law in writing does not require him to ever after announce what his actual motivation is and there`s the Trump administration saying we don`t like your motivation. 

HIMES:  Well, I mean, that`s exactly right.  You don`t need to be a lawyer to read that law and the law says that the IRS shall with no conditions no ways out shall provide this.  By the way, we can have a debate whether that`s a smart law or not.  That`s, of course, what a democracy does. 

But today, the law says shall and so it`s just another example of the administration using process, using the courts which are designed to protect the innocent and to make sure our liberties aren`t stamped on to in this case protect a president whose behavior has been corrupt.  And, you know, we will win in the end but make no mistake, the strategy of the White House here is to draw this out for as long as possible to keep as much averse information as possible from emerging before the 2020 election. 

O`DONNELL:  Jill Wine-Banks, the judge cited your work in the Watergate investigation today and other investigations and it -- if this ruling holds, the Trump delay by blocking every subpoena strategy collapses. 

JILL WINE-BANKS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  It does.  And it`s about time because I think he`s really gone way too far now with the total stonewalling.  It`s one thing to stonewall on the Mueller investigation.  But now, he`s stonewalling on everything. 

He would totally defeat purpose of congressional oversight if the witnesses, for example, about the security clearance process can`t testify, witnesses about the immigration and children in cages can`t testify.  If Don McGahn can`t testify.  These are all things that cannot happen. 

The judge wrote a very thorough and very well thought out opinion, and I think if anything is clear from Watergate, it`s that you cannot just thumb your nose at Congress and you can`t thumb your nose at a Justice Department subpoena.  And that`s what the president is setting himself up to do is to be above the law and just say, I`ll do what I want to do and our whole constitution is based on the fact that people will follow the law. 

O`DONNELL:  Glenn Kirschner, you were in the courtroom when this case was argued and here you have an opinion by the judge in your hands today saying he actually didn`t hear any serious issues raised by President Trump`s lawyer. 

GLENN KIRSCHNER, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY:  Yes, Lawrence, I want to borrow a phrase from the Mueller report.  Judge Mehta`s ruling was a sweeping and systemic rebuke of the president`s claims that he, one, is above the law and, two, is not susceptible to congressional oversight.  When I sat in that courtroom, I was shaking my head because I heard the president`s lawyer William Consovoy say things like Congress can`t investigate a president who violates criminal statutes and Congress can`t investigate a president who violates the Constitution, for example, the emoluments clause, and Congress can`t investigate a president who may have a financial interest, a conflict of interest in legislation he supports or executive orders he authors. 

And Judge Mehta was shaking his head.  He was being polite, but you could see he was buying into none of it.  So when I see him use a word like your arguments were unfathomable, I was fully expecting this kind of an opinion to be handed down.  What I wasn`t expecting necessarily, Lawrence, is that it would be handed down so quickly. 

Let me tell you, after 30 years in courts, including decades in the courts of Washington, D.C., rarely do things happen quickly.  But the fact that Judge Mehta handed down this decision in six days is pretty remarkable and now just two days from now on Wednesday, we`re going to see Judge Ramos in New York get to handle the exact same issue with respect to congressional subpoenas for the president`s Deutsche Bank records and his Capital One records.

And, you know, Judge Mehta`s ruling is not binding authority or precedent for what Judge Ramos will do, but it is extremely persuasive and I fully expect Judge Ramos to rule the same way and hopefully, just as promptly.  I do think the sort of dam is breaking at this point.  And this is a great day for transparency, and for accountability but a really bad day for the president`s seemingly endless attempts to cover up his own misconduct. 

O`DONNELL:  Congressman Himes to the two points that Glenn made, one an opinion issued with remarkable speed especially when you read it and you see the depths of the scholarship, the legal scholarship going back to 1860.  This is the kind of opinion that even though it`s written by a district court judge, you can tell this judge is hoping that other judges are going to read this opinion before they have to rule on what will be other Trump subpoena blocking attempts. 

HIMES:  Yes, no, and that`s right.  And look, I guess account speed can probably be attributed to at least two things.  Number one, a consciousness of the fact that process is being used here to block the constitutional prerogatives and authorities of the Congress.  I would like to believe that most members of the judiciary would be opposed to that.

But, look, if you`re not a lawyer at some level you can understand the absurdity of the arguments that were made before this judge.  Remember -- I mean, all of four or five weeks ago when the Mueller report came out, the Mueller report said it showed deference to the Office of Legal Counsel`s opinion that the sitting president cannot be indicted. 

Now, again, we can have a long legal debate over that, but let`s just assume that they`re right.  I`m not sure they`re right.  If that is true, if the Justice Department Office of Legal Counsel is true, then the one other body on the planet that can hold the president accountable and there`s no question that our Founding Fathers in the Constitution want to have a mechanism to hold the president accountable.  At some level, that`s kind of what our country is about, it is Congress that will do that. 

And then to turn around and say that Congress does not have the right to execute the very authorities that create the OLC opinion that the president can`t be indicted is, I mean, again, to a non-lawyer, it`s absurd on the face of it. 

O`DONNELL:  Glenn, to go back to your point about the next subpoena case being in New York City.  It`s inconceivable to me that any judge sitting on any of the other Trump subpoena cases that come along, including this next one, would not read this opinion because they`re going to having to, if they`re going to rule in other way, they`re going to have to take on this opinion. 

KIRSCHNER:  Yes, it`s unconceivable to me, as well, Lawrence.  I`m confident that other judges will read it.  And it`s also inconceivable to me they will depart from the reasoning in Judge Mehta`s opinion. 

Listen, I was in the court for Judge Sullivan when he took General Flynn to task for basically selling out his country.  And then being in court watching Judge Mehta take the president`s lawyers to task for making unfathomable, unsupportable arguments, it leads me to conclude as I have believed for 30-plus years now, the state of our judiciary is strong.  And I think now that these matters are moving into the courts, the courts will not endure or endorse the games that the president and his administration and his underlings and his enablers like Barr have been playing for so long trying to keep these matters under wraps. 

I think we`re going to begin to see what it is the president has been so deathly afraid of the public seeing. 

O`DONNELL:  Jill, quickly, is this an indicator with your experience in Watergate and delay tactics by a president and eventually getting where you had to go, is this an indicator for Democrats in the House that they should move to court quicker? 

WINE-BANKS:  Yes, I think it probably is.  I want to point out to follow on something Glenn said, that speed of decision frequently happens when there is a huge public interest and public need.  In Watergate, we tried this Rule 6 exception to give the information to Congress and we did that on March 1st.  And by March 26th, Congress had all of the evidence, all of the grand jury information, the tape recording and the transcripts.  It only took that short a time, and even when we went to the Supreme Court on the tapes themselves, it only took three months. 

So it can happen in a very speedy way when there is a need and there is definitely a need here.  And I don`t think you need to declare impeachment.  It certainly strengthens the case but as you were pointing out, for example, on the tax returns, there doesn`t even have to be a legislative purpose.  That law was created so the Congress would look at conflicts of interest without any legislative purpose other than seeing whether this was such a conflict. 

And we need to get acting on this and I think Representative Nadler has taken a very strong stance against the McGahn subpoena denial.  And I think it`s time for Congress to really do it.  Yes. 

O`DONNELL:  As we go to a quick break here, I just want to thank Glenn Kirschner very much for joining us.  Glenn, invaluable to have you here after having been in the courtroom.  Really appreciate it.

Congressman Himes, Jill Wine-Banks, please stay with us, because when we come back, we have to talk about the breaking news at this hour. 

And this is Chairman Jerry Nadler`s letter about Don McGahn`s testimony.  This is new at this hour. 

Jerry Nadler`s letter to Don McGahn saying even if the president is telling you that you don`t have to testify to our committee tomorrow, you most certainly do.  Chairman Nadler is citing law that the Justice Department ignored today in their memo about excepting Don McGahn, declaring that Don McGahn had an absolute immunity from the congressional subpoenas.  That`s next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL:  We have breaking news upon breaking news in this segment tonight.  The most recent breaking news, the letter from the Chairman Jerry Nadler about Don McGahn`s testimony tomorrow to the Judiciary Committee.  But first, the breaking news today of the release of transcripts of Michael Cohen`s closed door testimony to the House Intelligence Committee. 

And in that testimony, Michael Cohen says that one of President Trump`s private criminal defense lawyers Jay Sekulow told Michael Cohen to not tell the truth about Trump negotiations to build a Trump Tower in Moscow.  It was all about the Iowa caucus.  According to Michael Cohen, Jay Sekulow told him to testify falsely to Congress by saying the last discussions of a Trump Tower in Moscow were in January of 2016 before the Iowa caucus. 

Michael Cohen told the House Intelligence Committee that Jay Sekulow knew that was not true.  Michael Cohen now admits the discussions about the possible Trump Tower in Moscow continued into the summer of 2016 after the Republican primaries were completed.  The president`s criminal defense lawyer now has criminal defense lawyers who issued a statement today in response to the newly revealed Michael Cohen testimony and they did not deny the accusation of criminal witness tampering against Jay Sekulow made by Michael Cohen in that testimony. 

Here is the lawyers` entire response which does not actually include one word of denial of Michael Cohen`s accusation.  Listen to this carefully. 

Michael Cohen`s alleged statements are more of the same from him and confirm the observations of prosecutors in the Southern District of New York that Cohen`s instinct to blame others is strong. 

That this or any committee would rely on the word of Michael Cohen for any purpose much less to try and pierce the attorney/client privilege and discover confidential communications of four respected lawyers defies logic well established law and common sense. 

That`s their whole statement.  And the president`s lawyer was accused of witness tampering and he did not dare deny it, in that statement, for whatever reason. 

Also tonight, former White House counsel Don McGahn told the House Judiciary Committee he will not responds to their subpoena and appear to testify tomorrow.  He did that in a letter from his lawyers to Chairman Jerry Nadler. 

Jerry Nadler responded with a letter tonight to Don McGahn that we just have received in the last few minutes and it is really striking in what it has to say to Don McGahn.  It points out that the opinion he is relying on from the Justice Department`s Office of Legal Counsel, quote, has produced an opinion as an excuse for you from testifying but that opinion has no support in relevant case law and its arguments have been flatly rejected by the courts. 

Jerry Nadler goes on to say the Justice Department`s own long-standing policy is that executive privilege should not be invoked to conceal evidence of wrongdoing or criminality on the part of executive offices, tellingly, the department`s opinion ignores that policy entirely.  Now, Chairman Nadler`s letter goes on to say this about Don McGahn`s position now in relation to the president. 

The president himself has already called your credibility into question.  He tweeted less than ten days ago that he was, quote, not going to fire Bob Mueller.  Denying a central event that you described to special counsel Mueller under penalty of felony.  In other words, under penalty of perjury. 

Jerry Nadler goes on to say.  In attacking your credibility and asking you to make public comments about these events, the president has not only further waived any possible privilege with regard to your testimony, he has also created substantial concerns about acts of witness intimidation and further obstruction of Congress`s ongoing investigations. 

And back with us are Congressman Jim Himes and Jill Wine-Banks. 

Congressman, I know you`re not a member of Jerry Nadler`s Judiciary Committee.  But this situation with Don McGahn affects all of the committees, the Intelligence Committee that you`re on where you released the Michael Cohen testimony today. 

I want to first get your reaction to Chairman Nadler`s letter and then we`ll talk a little bit about Michael Cohen`s testimony. 

HIMES:  Right.  Well, Chairman Nadler is right.  People need to understand how completely unprecedented Donald Trump`s strategy here is.  You said at the close of the last segment he is claiming an absolute right to say no to the Congress, no president in 240 years of history has ever claimed that. 

Richard Nixon when ordered to turn over the tapes of the conversations in the Oval Office turned over the tapes of the conversations in the Oval Office.  Bill Clinton didn`t imagine that he would say I`m not going to be interviewed by the Starr investigation team.  He was interviewed.  There was negotiation but he was interviewed. 

So, look, just as in the case that we`re talking about earlier, the president is not on any way, shape, or form on legal ground.  And you know, so McGahn must show up.  That is what the law will say. 

Now, look, we can have a conversation about executive privilege.  Executive privilege is important in the sense that any president should have the right to believe that the private conversations he has with advisers about policy will be protected. 

But remember, bottom line when it comes to the law, Congress need not recognize executive privilege.  Now, that`s not where we are.  We will recognize that but when you assert executive privilege, you come before the Congress and you say, look, I`ll talk about everything other than that which the White House wants to the assert executive privilege on. 

And so, that`s the right way to do this.  But you know, look at the end of the day, this is going to be just another example of the White House offering up a completely novel and absurd legal strategy to protect the president. 

O`DONNELL:  And, Congressman, on Michael Cohen`s testimony released today, here is very clearly, you were in the room when he gave that closed door testimony he`s very clearly saying, Jay Sekulow, the president`s lawyer, told me to say things that were not true to Congress.  And that`s ultimately what the accusation that he pled guilty to lying to Congress was about that testimony. 

HIMES: Yes.  And look, let`s stipulate that a man who is now in prison for lying to Congress is, in fact, not your very best witness but Michael Cohen as is his habit, showed up with receipts.  Just as he had canceled checks signed by the president to reimburse the payments for Stormy Daniels, he has and I believe they either are or will be released the e-mails that went back and forth with all of these attorneys as they were crafting his statement.

Now, remember, it`s his statement and that in and of itself is sort of interesting, right.  Michael Cohen is in jail because he was inaccurate.  He lied about his statement.

His statement was whatever else you think of Michael Cohen was created by all sorts of attorneys coming together and offering comments and when you see the transcript as I suspect you have, you will see that Abbe Lowell is offering up comments about whether he should be talking about Ivanka Trump.

I mean, again remember, this is Michael Cohen`s statement and it was drafted by a collection of lawyers on his behalf acting not on Michael Cohen`s behalf but acting in the defense of Donald Trump.

O`DONNELL:  Jill Wine-Banks, I want to get your response to Jerry Nadler`s letter which is the new entry in what is a triple document day, first a memo from the Justice Department saying that Don McGahn has complete immunity from congressional subpoenas, doesn`t have to testify, then the president ordering Don McGahn not to testify, Don McGahn`s lawyer.

Then, letter to Jerry Nadler saying he`s not going to testify.  The president says he doesn`t have to.  Justice Department says he doesn`t have to.  Then Jerry Nadler comes back tonight with this very powerful letter filled with legal citation beyond the Justice Department`s citations.

WINE-BANKS:  First of all, the office of legal counsel opinion -- in my opinion is extremely weak.  It is built on one thing and one thing only and that is prior office of legal counsel opinions.

There`s only reference to one district court opinion and that one said there is no such thing as absolute immunity.  So there is no absolute immunity.

Jerry Nadler`s response, Chairman Nadler`s response is very well crafted and points out all the defects in the office of legal counsel opinion.  Except for possibly one which is that one act of obstruction between Trump and McGahn happened after McGahn was no longer a White House employee.  He was just a private citizen.

So there can be no immunity for that one.  And that`s what happened when he asked him to lie after he was out of the White House and to say that he had never obstructed justice.  So that piece can`t be.

And also, it`s very clear that there is no privilege attached to anything that has been submitted to the public.  They argue that there`s a privilege because when he allowed him to testify before Mueller, it was all within the executive branch.

But when he let it be made public in the Mueller report to all of us, that waived the privilege.  So anything on those points certainly can be testified to tomorrow without a question.

O`DONNELL:  Jill Wine-Banks and Congressman Jim Himes, thank you for guiding us through all of this breaking news tonight.  Really appreciate it.

WINE-BANKS:  Thank you.

HIMES:  Thank you.

O`DONNELL:  And when we come back, "The New York Times" reports that Deutsche Bank saw suspicious activity in the president of the United States` bank accounts and wanted that suspicious activity reported.  And Deutsche Bank didn`t report it.  David Kay Johnston joins us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL:  It has come to this.  The president of the United States is suspected of possible money laundering by people working at the bank where the money laundering might have occurred.

"The New York Times" reported yesterday that anti-money laundering specialists at Deutsche Bank found multiple suspicious transactions involving accounts tied to Donald Trump and Jared Kushner during the presidential campaign and during the first year of the president in office.

The "Times" reports the transactions, some of which involved Mr. Trump`s now-defunct foundation, set off alerts in a computer system designed to detect illicit activity according to five current and former bank employees.  Compliance staff members who then reviewed the transactions prepared so-called suspicious activity reports that they believed should be sent to a unit of the Treasury Department that polices financial crimes.

But executives at Deutsche Bank which has lent billions of dollars to the Trump and Kushner Companies rejected their employees` advice.  One of the Deutsche Bank employees who reviewed the transactions involving Kushner Companies in the summer of 2016 says she found that money had moved from Kushner Companies to Russian individuals.  She recommended the transactions be reported to the government but was overruled by bank managers.

She told the "Times" that she was then fired after raising concerns that the bank was not properly vetting the accounts of dozens of politically exposed clients of the private banking division including Mr. Trump and members of his family.

Joining us now is David Cay Johnston, the founder of dcreport.org and the author of "It`s Even Worse Than You Think, What the Trump Administration is Doing to America."

And David, no reporter has studied Trump finances more extensively and over more years than you have.  Your reaction to these Deutsche Bank reports, I`m sure did not include surprise, but this is news that five people from inside Deutsche Bank are telling "The New York Times" about possible money laundering by the president.

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, AUTHOR, THE MAKING OF DONALD TRUMP:  Well, and one of those is someone who was named and photographed by "The Times".  What I was surprised by was the gullibility of a whole bunch of news organizations that took a non-denial denial by Deutsche Bank as a denial that anything had happened and a statement by the Trump Organization that we didn`t know anything about the money laundering issues.

Of course, they wouldn`t know about it as knocking down the story.  This is a very troublesome story, Lawrence for Donald and for Jared Kushner because it continues into the time period when they were both our employees in the White House.

O`DONNELL:  Let`s listen to what Congressman Adam Schiff said about this in the last hour with Rachel.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE:  This suggests that what we have feared all along may have taken place and that is if the president is claiming no business dealings with Russia while he`s trying to make this Trump tower deal take place, has he also been concealing money laundering with Russians?

If these whistleblower allegations are correct, that they were essentially discovering transactions that looked like money laundering with Russians that should have been reported to Treasury but were not reported to Treasury, that`s some serious business that we need to look into.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  And this is part of the subpoena flow that`s been coming out of the House of Representatives trying to get at this.

JOHNSTON:  Well, and there would be extensive documentation within Deutsche Bank about what went on here that Congress needs to see because if the president of the United States was laundering money, that`s a crime and you cannot serve as president under our Constitution if you`ve committed a crime.

So it is very important that Congress get these records.  And if it turns out those records are missing, that in itself I think should be taken as an indication that somebody is covering up.

O`DONNELL:  And also, David, at Deutsche Bank, there would be various loan documents that would indicate possible backers that Donald Trump has.  And if you were to discover that some of these big loans were cosigned by say one or more Russian oligarchs, that would be part of the discovery of all of this that the Congress would be very interested in.

JOHNSTON:  Yes.  That was something I brought up on your show some months ago, the possibility that there are backers or guarantors and other transactions in the background that we don`t see directly.  The bank should have records of those.

Now, Deutsche Bank, of course, is a privilege.  Corporations don`t have a right to live as you and I do.  And they say they are cooperating with investigators both from the State of New York and from the federal government.

And we should hope that there is a thorough inquiry into this.  And exactly what was going on with Trump`s relationship with Deutsche Bank, which by the way has paid over $600 million in fines just for laundering money for Russian oligarchs in Cyprus, Germany, and America.

O`DONNELL:  David Cay Johnston, thank you very much for joining us tonight.  Really appreciate it.

JOHNSTON:  Thank you.

O`DONNELL:  And when we come back, history was made this weekend when a member of Congress became the very first Republican to support the impeachment of President Trump.  That Republican was, of course, immediately attacked by Donald Trump and already has a Republican opponent -- pro-Trump Republican opponent now in his next re-election campaign.  That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL:  We now have the single most clear, concise, and eloquent statement in favor of impeachment of President Trump by a member of the House of Representatives and that member is a Republican.  Michigan Congressman Justin Amash made history on Saturday afternoon when he became the first Republican member of Congress to advocate impeachment of President Trump in a series of flawlessly composed tweets.

Congressman Amash wrote, "Here are my principal conclusions.  One, Attorney General Barr has deliberately misrepresented Mueller`s report.  Two, President Trump has engaged in impeachable conduct.  Three, partisanship has eroded our system of checks and balances.  Four, few members of Congress have read the report.

Under our Constitution, the president shall be removed from office on impeachment for and conviction of treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors while high crimes and misdemeanors is not defined, the context implies conduct that violates the public trust.

Contrary to Barr`s portrayal, Mueller`s report reveals that President Trump engaged in specific actions and a pattern of behavior that meets the threshold for impeachment.  In fact, Mueller`s report satisfies all the elements of obstruction of justice and undoubtedly any person who is not the president of the United States would be indicted based on such evidence.

Impeachment which is a special form of indictment does not even require probable cause that a crime, obstruction of justice, has been committed.  It simply requires a finding that an official has engaged in careless, abusive, corrupt, or otherwise dishonorable conduct.

While impeachment should be undertaken only in extraordinary circumstances, the risk we face in an environment of extreme partisanship is not that Congress will employ it as a remedy too often but rather that Congress will employ it so rarely that it cannot deter misconduct.

America`s institutions depend on officials to uphold both the rules and spirit of our constitutional system even when to do so is personally inconvenient or yields a politically unfavorable outcome.  Our Constitution is brilliant and awesome.  It deserves a government to match it."

Those tweets were politically unfavorable enough for Congressman Amash that he suddenly has a Republican challenger now who announced his candidacy within 24 hours of those tweets.  And President Trump, of course, attacked Congressman Amash on Twitter calling the congressman a lightweight and a loser.

In other words, the president did not in any way address any of the important points made by Congressman Amash.  To analyze this David and Goliath battle in the Republican Party, we will be joined after this break by Republican Strategist Rick Wilson and Jason Johnson.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL:  Here`s Republican Congressman Larry Hogan announcing his support for impeaching Republican President Richard Nixon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. LAWRENCE HOGAN (R), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE DURING NIXON IMPEACHMENT HEARINGS:  Prime Republican, prime loyalty and personal affection and precedence of the past must fall, I think, before the arbiter of men`s action, the law itself.  No man, not even the president of the United States, is above the law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  Those words were echoed this weekend when Republican Congressman Justin Amash became the first Republican member of Congress to support impeaching President Trump.

Joining our discussion now, Rick Wilson, a Republican strategist and a contributor to "The Daily Beast".  He`s the author of the book "Everything Trump Touches Dies."  And Jason Johnson is the politics editor at "Theroot.com" and a professor of politics and media at Morgan State University.  Jason is also an MSNBC contributor.

And Rick Wilson, here we have the Republican David and Goliath and I thought we`re all supposed to root for David in that story, right?

RICK WILSON, Republican STRATEGIST:  Well, you know, this is the new Republican mode and it`s always going to be that anyone who opposes Trump must be destroyed.  That`s why the caucus is going after him and that`s why the NRCC is floating this guy in the primary.

It reminds me that in 1973 when the impeachment articles were brought to the Judiciary Committee, Republicans voted with the majority on three of the charges, obstruction of justice, abuse of power, and contempt of Congress.

And as Justin laid out in those tweets, as we`ve seen from the evidence, those three cases could be made.  But I promise you not one member, except for him right now, would vote for them no matter whether or not they believe them to be true or not or whether the evidence is overwhelming or not.  They will protect Donald Trump until the last dog dies.

O`DONNELL:  Jason Johnson, I can remember during the first year of the Trump presidency sitting here as many were waiting, just waiting for that Republican to stand up against Trumpism in the United States Senate or in the House of Representatives, and then waiting through the second year for that to happen., waiting through the third year.

Here we are into the third year of the Trump presidency and finally, someone has stood up on the most important possible position you can take against this president, saying that, yes, he should be impeached.

JASON JOHNSON, POLITICS EDITOR, THEROOT.COM:  Well, Lawrence, I always say this when it comes to votes in the House, votes in the Senate, nobody wants to be the 60th vote but everybody is happy with being 56, 57 and 58.  We`re basically seeing that in reverse in the House.

I really doubt Justin Amash did this completely in a vacuum.  I think one of the more compelling things about reading his tweets is when he talked about the fact that, number one, no one in the House has even bothered to read their homework yet.  And two, that he actually discussed this with his staff and that they had a back and forth as to whether or not he would make this statement.

That suggests to me that there are other people involved in this.  There are other people who are sort of putting their finger to the wind and saying, "All right.  Can he survive this?  Is this OK?  I mean is the person running against him a real challenge, I don`t think so."

And let`s also make this very, very clear.  Justin Amash is not like some sort of wishy-washy moderate.  The guy was part of the freedom caucus.

He came in with the Tea Party.  He`s still sort of learning.  He had the audacity to suggest in that recent interview, he said, yes, I think actually a lot of Tea Party people just didn`t like Obama for some reason, it wasn`t about policies.

So he is under no circumstance as somebody that would be considered an ally of the left or Democrats.  So it`s compelling he made this decision.  I don`t think he`ll be the last one.

O`DONNELL:  And Rick, what about the -- I think if people were waiting for this kind of person to emerge, they would have predicted it would have come from one of the Republicans who stopped to think in more moderate directions like possibly someone like Mitt Romney. Here it is coming from someone who`s on the far right in most policy issues.

WILSON:  You know, Lawrence, I sort of -- I sympathize with Justin here because I wrote my book about Trump as a critique from the right.  And all these people were -- all the Trump guys are shocked by that but there`s a critique of him from the right.

And I think Amash made it very eloquently in this case.  And look, most of the people that would have been from the center, those suburban districts because Donald Trump is political cancer, he destroyed all of their political careers.  They either quit or lost in 2018. They left.

We`re 40 seats down because of Donald Trump.  And most of those people were the suburban moderates.  They were the people in the suburbs of Virginia and Charlotte and other places.  They`re gone now.

So the safe seat guys in the R-plus 27 districts are still there and they`re all in.  And so I think there`s a little bit of shell shock right now from a lot that Amash dared to open the gate here.

O`DONNELL:  And Jason, the Republican Party official this weekend accused him of parroting democratic talking points.  He wasn`t. He was contradicting democratic talking points.

Democratic talking points are we`re not ready for impeachment, we need the unredacted Mueller report.  Here`s somebody who says you do not need the unredacted Mueller report.  It`s all there in the publicly available version.

JOHNSON:  Right.  I`m shocked, Lawrence, and disgusted that we`re getting more bravery from a Republican and a Conservative Republican than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who was asked right after Amash made this speech, "Hey, do you think this is enough bipartisanship to move forward an impeachment?"  And she basically punted the ball again and said, "No, no, no.  The bipartisanship that we actually need is in the Senate."

Look, leave that to Senator Kamala Harris.  She`s very good.  Leave that to Cory Booker.  They can handle this.  The fact that you now have Republicans who are setting alight -- who are setting a fire to Democrats` feats in the House to actually engage in impeachment when we have Don McGahn who`s basically flipping his finger at the Constitution and saying I`m not going to come in and testify, this is an example of the leadership that was lacking in the Democratic Party.

The people were asking for in 2018, I hope Amash, is the beginning of a change in attitude for the Democratic leadership, but it doesn`t seem like that`s happening right now.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Professor Jason Johnson gets tonight`s LAST WORD.  Rick Wilson, Jason Johnson, thank you both for joining us, really appreciate it.  "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.

  THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END