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Trump gives Barr sweeping powers. TRANSCRIPT: 5/24/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell.

Guests: Joe Neguse, Margaret Carlson, Tom Nichols, Jon Meacham, DrewHarwell, Ana Marie Cox


DANO WALL, DESIGNER:  -- how she was going to be on the $20 bill --

REID:  Yes.

WALL:  -- and I think it`s a good entry point into talking about representation.

REID:  I think Marie Kondo, I say it also, sparks joy. I like it. I`m going to be spending Tubman`s. Got a change for a Tubman? Dano Wall, designer of the 3D printed Harriet Tubman stamp. Thank you so much for your time.

WALL:  Thank you.

REID:  Appreciate it. And that does it for us tonight. Rachel Maddow will be back here on Monday. And you can catch me this weekend on "A.M. JOY" at 10:00 a.m. My special guest on Sunday will be Valerie Jarrett, President Obama`s long-time senior advisor and she has some thoughts on the Tubman $20 bill.

Now it`s time for "THE LAST WORD." Ali Velshi is in for Lawrence tonight.

Good evening Ali, and have you got a change for a Tubman?

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST:  That is wild. That is wild. You know what, change for a Tubman should be like for five 50s or something like that.

REID:  How would you? You should get more money back.

VELSHI:  I`ve been in this business 25 years, most of it as a financial and economic journalist and I`ve never thought about something your guest said, currency by virtue of its ubiquity has the power to spread ideas. Never thought about that before your guest said that.

REID:  Absolutely. There`s almost nothing you`ve never thought of. So I actually give him -- Dano gets a point tonight.

VELSHI:  I am in amazement. Thank you, Joy --

REID:  Thank you. Have a great show.

VELSHI:  -- as always, I look forward to seeing you this weekend.

REID:  Bye.

VELSHI:  I`m Ali Velshi in for Lawrence O`Donnell. Ahead this hour, the anatomy of a smear campaign. We`re going to look at the right`s coordinated attack on Nancy Pelosi via a doctored video, a video that was even tweeted out by the president.

Also, debunking Trump`s treason claims, the president has thrown around the word treason a lot lately, but it`s not entirely clear that he knows what it means. But first, the impeachment calls are growing.

Tonight, NBC News counts 38 House Democrats who support at least opening an impeachment inquiry against President Trump. Of those 38 House Democrats, 10 are on the judiciary committee. And of course, this week, one House Republican, Michigan Congressman Justin Amash joined the call for impeachment.

That means a little less than 10 percent of the entire House currently supports impeaching the president. The dam has clearly started to break on the left as Democrats grow increasingly outraged at the Trump administration for thumbing its noses at Congress` oversight efforts.

But will that lone Republican, Justine Amash, be the start of the dam breaking on the right? It seems former Missouri Congressman Tom Coleman wants to put some more cracks in that dam. Coleman, a lifelong Republican served in the House for nearly two decades. And in a new op-ed, he writes that the both President Trump and Vice President Pence are illegitimate and calls for them to be impeached.

Coleman says "Because DOJ regulations put a president above the law while in office, I believe the only viable option available is for the House of Representatives under Article 22 Section 4 of the Constitution to open its own investigation, hold public hearings and then determine if they should pursue removal of the president through impeachment.

There`s a trove of evidence in the Mueller report indicating that Trump has committed multiple impeachable offenses including abuse of power and lie together American public, both were part of the articles an of impeachment brought against President Richard Nixon."

That doesn`t tip some Republicans over the edge, maybe the president giving his attorney general sweeping new powers to investigate his perceived political enemies might do the trick. That was the big news last night when Trump gave William Barr "full and complete authority to declassify intelligence gathered as part of the Russia investigation." Trump made it quite clear why he gave Barr this power.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I declassified everything, everything they want. I put it under the auspices of the attorney general. He`s going to be in charge of it. He`s a great gentleman and a highly respected man. So everything that they need is declassified and they`ll be able to see how this hoax -- how the hoax or witch hunt started and why it started. It was an attempted coup or an attempted take-down of the president of the United States."


VELSHI:  Of course, the Russia investigation was not an attempted coup to take down the president of the United States, but Trump wants you to think that. And he seems to have an idea where his attorney general should look to prove this false coup theory.


TRUMP:  I hope he looks at the U.K. and I hope he looks at Australia, and I hope he looks at Ukraine. I hope he looks at everything because there was a hoax that was perpetrated on our country.


VELSHI:  Now, there are big questions tonight about how this move will impact the intelligence community and whether it would have a chilling effect on classified sources who fear being exposed. And we have one other question about this move from the president.

Trump has said he won`t work with Democrats while they continue their inquiries into the Russia investigation so why is he allowing his attorney general to continue an inquiry into the Russia investigation?

Leading off our discussion tonight are Democratic Congressman Joe Neguse of Colorado. He`s a member of the House Judiciary Committee. Margaret Carlson is a columnist for "The Daily Beast" and Tom Nichols is a national security expert and former Republican Senate staff member. Welcome to all of you. Thank you for joining me on a Friday night.

Congressman, let`s start with you. Where do you stand on how Democrats should proceed with respect to the president?

REP. JOE NEGUSE (D-CO):  Thank you, Ali, for having me on. I support opening an impeachment inquiry. I, like many colleagues believe that the findings, detailed in the Special Counsel`s report made clear that the president engaged in impeachable conduct.

And I think the findings coupled with really the pattern of wholesale obstruction of Congress that this administration has been engaged for the better part of the last two months as the judiciary committee has tried to do it`s important investigatory and oversight work.

It certainly made clear to me that an inquiry and opening an inquiry is warranted. And so, I`ve joined many of my colleagues earlier this week in stating the same.

VELSHI:  Margaret, the president seems to have moved forward. He`s been carrying on about hoaxes and no collusion and we`ve learned that William Barr seems to be conspiring with the president to make sure these messages get out first.

But this new call for the declassification and investigation into the investigators is going to having an effect that many intelligence officials tell me could be quite chilling and dangerous for democracy.

MARGARET CARLSON, COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST:  Well, indeed it will. It`s going to be interesting to see how far William Barr will go in supporting the president. I noticed that DNI Dan Coats today produced his own hostage tape just as the aides in the White House did yesterday by saying that the president was completely calm, not a bit upset one after another in the Oval Office.

So, Dan Coats today said that it was fine that what William Barr was about to embark on declassifying this information, revealing sources and methods, opening up people abroad to being, you know, captured, killed, you know.

These are undercover people that rely on secrecy and they rely on us here keeping it that way. Dan Coats once spoke out against Trump not exactly against him, but you`ll remember that Aspen security forum where he found out that Trump had invited Putin to the White House.

VELSHI:  Andrea Mitchell was interviewing him and mentioned that to him while he was on stage.

CARLSON:  Right. And he was shocked by it. And this was after saying he had no idea what had happened at the prior Putin/Trump meeting because there was no one present. So maybe Coats will be, and he said isn`t that special. I mean, he actually reacted. So maybe Dan Coats is the person who is going to stop this at some point because it will go too far.

VELSHI:  Tom, let`s talk about what Dan Coats said as part of his commentary that Margaret was just talking about. He said, "As part of the process, I`m confident that the attorney general will work with the intelligence community in accordance with the long established standards to protect highly sensitive classified information that if publicly released would put our national security at risk. The intelligence community will continue to faithfully execute its mission of providing timely, apolitical intelligence to the president and policymakers."

To Margaret`s point, Tom, that Dan Coats had to say that suspects he doesn`t actually believe that this is safe in the hands of the attorney general.

TOM NICHOLS, NATIONAL SECURITY EXPERT:  Yes, when someone in Washington says I trust that someone will do this, that`s a way of saying do it this way. The Coats` statement was interesting because it`s had long established practices. In other words, we`re not going to go cowboy on this. We`re not going to start just throwing things out there because they happen to be politically advantageous.

And it tells you something about where William Barr`s reputation is right about now, that people are worried that he`s going to do that, that someone who once had a great deal of credibility and was regarded as somebody who had a great deal of probity is now basically getting a shot across the bow from other parts of the executive branch saying don`t go crazy with classified material just because you need to go to the wall for the president`s political interests.

VELSHI:  Congressman Neguse, this is problematic in the rear-view mirror when looking at what happened between 2016 and now, but James Comey tweeted today, "Investigate what you wish about 2016 but don`t forget the people of the FBI must investigate and stop Russian efforts in the 2020 election. What impact will loose talk about spying and disgraceful talk about treason have on FBI agents and analysts?"

And I put that to you, congressman, because there`s got to be a chilling effect of this kind of investigation on anybody in the FBI, the CIA or anyone else in American intelligence who is looking into or thinking of looking into any sort of interference that might favor the president right now.

NEGUSE:  I think that`s right, Ali. I think that former director Comey articulated it well. I worry a great deal about the chilling effect it will have on folks in the intelligence community, on the civil servants who are protecting us each and every day.

Let`s not forget that a foreign adversary interfered significantly in systemic fashion in 2016 in our elections. They will do it again and, you know, what I would say is I don`t think that the president`s order is going to have a chilling effect on the Congress. That I can assure you at least, with respect to the Democratic House.

I think we`re fully committed to defending the rule of law and taking the steps that we need to take to preserve the sanctity and the security of our elections next year. But I mean, again, I would say that this is a dangerous time for our country.

I worry a great deal when you watch the audio or the video clip yesterday of the president talking about treason and so forth, I think a lot of these can get lost in the noise and news of the day, but the idea that that kind of language has been normalized now should really trouble each and every American.

And, of course, now, the president going beyond just mere words and actually effectuating his plans and action in terms of issuing an unprecedented order providing his attorney general with unfettered discretion to declassify anything and everything sources and methods and so forth. It should, as I said, trouble each and every American. It certainly troubles me as a member of Congress and I believe many of my colleagues.

VELSHI:  Tom, it`s very hard to watch this happen because you`ve got the president saying things and there are a lot of Americans who believe that the institutions are there to protect them from this, whether it`s Congress or the courts or intelligence agencies or law enforcement or institutions like the Department of Justice.

And a number of people, as you just commented, are surprised to see that William Barr appeared to be a willing participant in the president`s disinformation campaign about the Mueller report and now seems to be willing to go down this road. Congressman Neguse seems committed to try to stand in the president`s way on this one, but what can Congress or anybody else do about it at this point?

NICHOLS:  Congress has its full range of Article I powers to investigate and to engage in oversight, but I think you`re fighting against a narrative that is being pushed consistently and with great discipline, which is unusual for this White House which usually has no message discipline, to use words like spying for things like counter intelligence investigations.

Barr, the attorney general -- the president may not know the difference, but the attorney general certainly knows the difference. And the fact that they`re using this kind of language is intentional, it`s meant to push a narrative and I agree with the congressman. It`s destructive and it`s dangerous and it`s wrong to do it because it`s misleading people and I think it`s corroding trust in our institutions at a time when again, we`re going to be under attack again in 2020.

VELSHI:  Margaret, the president has said he is not at the remarkable meeting that occurred ostensibly about infrastructure earlier this week in which the president sort of walked out and then held a press conference about how he cannot do anything with Congress while they continue to investigate. At some point, Tom`s got a point. They`ve got messaging discipline at least this week in the White House. Where does it lead?

CARLSON:  Well, but it`s not a very good message. I mean, Trump says he`s on strike until he gets his way. It`s like saying I want to own the government shutdown and he did. Anytime he comes up against Speaker Pelosi, I don`t think he comes out ahead on that message.

You know, the danger here -- haven`t we been looking for someone in the Senate who is not retiring, who is going to stand up to Trump? We haven`t found that person, but mostly, they go along. But what`s happened now is that Trump has found his fixer in William Barr.

He now has not just somebody who is going to let him do things. He`s got an accomplice who is bringing it about. So I see Dan Coats as the person who stands between us and you know, the FBI has already been injured by Trump.

Now it will be the CIA. And there`s no one in the Senate that I see coming forward now to do anything about it. And we have a rogue attorney general.

VELSHI:  The attorney general, congressman, is doing the president`s bidding on this one. We saw a few days ago, the Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, again disregarding a Congressional request and subpoena for information. You said you`ll do everything in your power. At some point, your power seems to be coming up against what are going to end up being court challenges.

NEGUSE:  Well, first let me just say, Ali, I agree with Margaret`s point and Margaret actually wrote a really good article about a month and a half ago that warned about this precise point that you would have an attorney general untethered in terms of actually discharging his duties in an impartial way and instead --

CARLSON:  I`m so sorry I turned out to be right.

VELSHI:  Yes, no kidding.

NEGUSE:  As am I. But look, I mean, we saw this a month and a half ago. Let`s not forget, this is the same attorney general that be engaged in gross misrepresentations with respect to the Special Counsel`s findings, which created I think a fog of confusion around what the Special Counsel concluded and did not conclude.

It was why the investigation of the judiciary committee was engaged in and in so critically important and why we believe that it`s important for ultimately the committee and the American people to hear from the Special Counsel and other witnesses.

But look, I don`t disagree with you, Ali. Obviously, a lot of these battles are going to be fought in the courts. As I said, I think that opening a formal inquiry would be the appropriate and prudent next step given the gravity of the situation we find ourselves in.

So, I think that the Congress still has many tools at its disposal and I haven`t lost faith in the Congress, nor should the American people. We`re dedicated to defending the rule of law in this country. That`s something the American people can have confidence in.

VELSHI:  Congressman, thank you for your time tonight. Congressman Joe Neguse, Tom Nichols and Margaret Carlson, who has been writing in about things and been right about it for a very long time now. Thank you all three of you for joining me on a Friday night.

CARLSON:  Thanks, Ali. Good night. Happy weekend.

VELSHI:  Donald Trump has been making wild claims that the former head of the FBI and others committed treason as viewers of this program know, that is not and actually cannot be true.

We`re going to do a fact check on that and we`ll talk with presidential historian Jon Meacham about the commander-in-chief making such grave accusations. Later, we`ll take a deep dive into the attacks on Nancy Pelosi via distorted video, how fake videos are spreading in the conservative social media space and what it means for the future especially the (inaudible) presidential campaign.


VELSHI:  Donald Trump has been making accusations of treason for months, but it appears the president is finally facing widespread criticism for saying that former FBI officials, naming them specifically, were involved with investigating his campaign and committed treason.

He did it again on Thursday, but it isn`t clear that the president understands what treason actually is or just how serious the accusation is especially when it comes from the president. Here is the exchange the president had with NBC`s Peter Alexander on Thursday.


PETER ALEXANDER, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT:  Sir, the constitution says treason is punishable by death. You`ve accused your adversaries of treason. Who specifically are you accusing of treason?

TRUMP:  Well, I think a number of people and I think what you look is that they have unsuccessfully tried to take down the wrong person.

ALEXANDER:  Who are you speaking of?

TRUMP:  If you look at Comey, if you look at McCabe, if you look at probably people higher than that, if you look at Strzok. 

They want an insurance policy so that should she for any reason lose, remember, 100 million to one, maybe he said 100 million to nothing, but should she lose we`ll have an insurance policy and we`ll get this guy out of office. That`s what they said and that`s what they meant. That`s treason. That`s treason.


VELSHI:  No, that`s not treason. As viewers of this program know for months, Lawrence O`Donnell has challenged the president`s accusations of treason. Here`s Lawrence back in February.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST:  It is actually impossible to commit treason against the government of the United States today because we do not have a specified enemy in a declared war. The Constitution specifies "treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them or in adhering to their enemies giving them aid and comfort."

The Supreme Court has interpreted that to mean that it is only possible to commit treason during a war that is authorized by a Congressional declaration of war. The last time the United States fought a declared war, declared by Congress was World War II. And that is why the last time an American was charged with and convicted of treason was World War II.


VELSHI:  This is a perfect night for a historian. Jon Meacham is one of the best this country has. He`s a historian and an author with Tim McGraw of "Songs of America" to be published June 10th and countless other books.

Jon, notwithstanding, this is for another night, the discussion about the fact that America is not at war and has not been officially at war since World War II. So we get ourselves into a lot of fights in the world without actually declaring war and having an enemy.

So, Lawrence`s point is well taken, but Conor Friedersdorf in "The Atlantic" wrote about how the Framers of the Constitution were particularly worried about presidents falsely charging treason and in it he writes, "The Framers were guarding against the possibility that Americans would one day elect a man so morally weak and corrupt that he would falsely accuse political enemies of treason.

Congress and the judiciary have a constitutional duty to check his abuses of power and the public has a patriotic duty to oust him from office." Whatever you think the conclusion should be to this, the fact is, treason is not meant for your political opponents.

JON MEACHAM, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN:  No, and this is a case where once again, the founders for all of their sins, for all of their omissions, for all of their derelictions, the journey they put us on toward a more perfect union is vindicated exactly by this particular moment.

The reason that treason is the only crime specifically defined in the constitution and the second part of that article of that element is that it requires witnesses to an overt act or a confession in open court. So, why so specific? Because they were afraid of kings or monarchs doing exactly what the president`s doing because they had done it. It was based on experience. It was based on anxiety about the worst parts of the English experiment.

The other thing to remember is all the folks who were doing the framing in Philadelphia in 1787 and the debating, most of them over the ratification, could have been accused of treason exactly by the, you know, King Donald III if he had been around as a member of the House of Hanover in the 18th century. So, the legislative history, if you will, the thinking that led into this was precisely about this kind of moment.

Now, you sort of asked rhetorically does the president or maybe Lawrence did, does the president know what he`s talking about? No, he doesn`t know what he`s talking about. He`s using a term very loosely. I`ve used the term loosely inaccurately and I spend the time thinking about this stuff.

So, that`s easy to do if you`re just -- with a slip of the tongue. What Donald Trump has done this week and in many other cases is not a slip of the tongue. It`s an attempt to stoke fear, it`s an attempt to take his opponents and put them in the un-American category. And the last time we went through a system, a moment where we put people in an un-American category was the McCarthy era. And we know how well that turned out.

VELSHI:  So, it was un-American then and what the language the president is using in addition to treason is coup and attempted overthrow. So there`s a language here that is meant to imply and suggest that people who either were doing their job as members of the FBI or even if you take the president at his word and were against him and political opponents.

He continues to say that, and others can debate that, but the fact is even if you took him at his word, the penalty in the United States code, Section 2381 for treason, five years in prison up to the death penalty, $10,000 plus and a fine and disqualified from holding public office.

The point is, the president is trying to make people think that political opponents are criminals who are attempting to overthrow the elected president of the United States in something that feels like a coup.

MEACHAM:  He`s criminalizing dissent. And on one level, with the FBI folks, he`s attempting rhetorically to criminalize the execution and mechanics of the rule of law. It`s not a heck of a lot more complicated than that.

The folks he mentioned this week, Comey and McCabe, these are FBI agents. These are sworn officers of the United States who we can debate about whether they did the right thing or not. But what he`s trying to do and it`s fairly straightforward, and it has worked so far.

He is the president of the United States, is he`s using a charged term to create a sense of anxiety and paranoia in order to get his supporters in a place where ascent for Trump is a patriotic act. And by doing so, he is throwing 243 years or so of constitutional history away.

And that`s a precious thing. And the Framers had this right, the Framers had this right. They were worried about demagogues. They were worried about exactly this kind of person.

VELSHI:  Do you have examples -- you mentioned, you know, when we made dissent un-American, do you have examples where presidents went this far in suggesting that thing that were political, inherently political or investigative acts were potentially criminal or treasonous?

You know, there`s always been presidents who have thought people are against them and in some cases they`ve been right. But do we have examples of how to deal with this?

MEACHAM:  The best example I think is from the early reconstruction era. It was the impeachment of Andrew Johnson. And I`m not trying to make this a neat package here. But in fact, the way the country handled it in 1867, `68, when you had a president who was trying to undo the verdict of the civil war, who was lashed out as congressional opponents, trafficked conspiracy theories.

Andrew Johnson gave a speech, I think it was on Washington`s birthday shortly after he became president, where he just lashes out at everyone and it`s eerily resonant with what we`re seeing now. And the answer for the Republicans then, the party of Lincoln, remember Johnson had gone on the ticket as a wartime active conciliation. He was really a Democrat.

The Republicans in Congress from 1865 to 1868 were trying to find a way to undo the work of Johnson who opposed the 14th and 15th amendments, who vetoed Civil Rights Bill, who vetoed the Freedmen`s Bureau Bill, an incredibly important legislation that was trying to apply the verdict of the civil war. He was trying to undo that.

And what happened was congress decided that impeachment was in fact the way to go forward. I suspect as Mark Twain is reputed to have said, history may not repeat itself but it does rhyme, and I suspect that`s where we`re headed here.

VELSHI:  Jon, thank you for joining me tonight. Jon Meacham. Coming up "The Washington Post" tech reporter who broke the story about the distorted video of Nancy Pelosi that has been spreading on conservative social media is going to join us. What does this mean for the spread of fake news especially at the start of a presidential campaign?


VELSHI:  Over the past 24 hours, President Trump and his allies have engaged in what can only be described as a loosely coordinated smear campaign against the speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.

On Thursday night, the Trump supporting Fox Business show "Lou Dobbs Tonight" aired a heavily edited video of Pelosi appearing to stumble repeatedly during a press conference from the same day.  President Trump then tweeted that video to his 60 million Twitter followers with the caption, "Pelosi stammers through news conference."

Many public officials occasionally stutter while speaking extemporaneously, even cable news hosts including yours truly, do it from time to time.  So instead of showing you the edited video without context, here`s a version of that video broken down to show you the context of what Pelosi was saying.  Listen.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE:  We had a little long on the floor.  Sorry for the delay.  We had a little -- took longer on the floor than I had anticipated.  Custody of the border patrol.  It`s important to note that in the ten years before this, not a single child died in the custody of the border patrol.

Everyone -- started making -- sending signals that the plan was as we agreed at the meetings a few weeks ago, the president was to present his proposals at yesterday`s meeting.  Well, everyone -- he started making -- sending signals that he may not be -- he might not be ready or interested.


VELSHI:  Now, it would be one thing if the President of the United States had simply tweeted an out of context video clip of a cable news show.  But that tweet came at the same time a broader social media campaign to misrepresent Nancy Pelosi was under way.

As the "Washington Post" reports distorted videos of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi altered to make her sound as if she`s drunkenly slurring her words have been spreading rapidly across social media.  One such video had been viewed over 2 million times by Thursday night and was shared by none other than the President`s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.

Here again is a side by side comparison of that video against Pelosi`s original comments.


PELOSI:  We want to give this President had the opportunity to have something historic for our country.  We want to give this President the opportunity to do something historic for our country.


VELSHI:  Unlike that, by the way.  Giuliani later deleted the post sharing that video but did not offer an apology.  And today, the President furthered the effort to the smear Pelosi in comments to reporters on the White House lawn.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Mr. President, what do you hope to accomplish with your personal attacks on the speaker?  You`re saying lost is, you`re --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES:  Excuse me.  This just shows how fake you and the news are.  When you say a personal attack, did you hear what she said about me long before I went after her?  Did you hear?  She made horrible statements.  She knows they`re not true.  She made -- she said terrible things.  So I just responded in kind.

Look, you think Nancy`s the same as she was?  She`s not.


VELSHI:  Drew Harwell of the Washington Post who first reported on the altered Pelosi videos and columnist Ana Marie Cox will join me to discuss how Trump`s campaign against Pelosi mirrors the fake news attacks against former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and what it could say about Trump`s tactics for the 2020 race.  That`s next.


VELSHI:  Over the past 24 hours, fake videos of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that have been altered to make her appear impaired have been widely circulated on social media.  The President and his favorite news channel have been all too willing to amplify that message.


LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST:  Number one, when you cannot produce a coherent thought, maybe it`s time to hang it up.  Yesterday Pelosi seemed to struggle with the whole subject, verb, direct object thing. 

GREGG JARRETT, FOX NEWS ANCHOR:  She could not put a subject with a predicate in the same sentence.  What`s going on? 

Trump:  Look, do you think Nancy`s the same as she was?  She`s not.


VELSHI:  Joining me now Drew Harwell, a National Technology Reporter for the Washington Post who first reported the altered videos and Ana Marie Cox, the Host of the podcast "With Friends Like These".  Thank you to both of you for being here in time with me.

Drew, let me start with you on the technology of this.  We have heard about deep fakes for some time where you can completely concoct something that someone was saying, and that takes not a ton of technological know-how but more than I have.  These so-called cheap fakes take virtually none.  I could probably have edited that Nancy Pelosi video on my phone to slow down her speech.  How prevalent is this and how dangerous can it be?

DREW HARWELL, NATIONAL TECHNOLOGY REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST:  I think it`s becoming more prevalent and I think its subtlety makes it just that much more dangerous because it really doesn`t take a ton of labor to create a video that seems very convincing and can fool enough people, and can maybe help your side win political points.

And you`re seeing this especially now with social media.  It`s just so easy for anyone to really put something out there that is totally unsubstantiated, totally bogus and, you know, be able to potentially influence people, change their minds, change their perceptions about somebody like speaker Pelosi just by slowing down the video and getting it out there on Facebook.

VELSHI:  Ana Marie, I mean, if somebody slowed down video of me by two- thirds, I might talk at a normal speed.  But there`s something about this that`s insidious.  I want to play you a little bit more of what Laura Ingraham said on her show last night about Nancy Pelosi.


INGRAHAM:  Both Joe Biden, the 2020 front-runner and Speaker Pelosi are not just out of step with the American people on key issues.  To watch them, to observe them, we see that they`ve kind of lost a step or two or three, period.  I mean, they look like they belong in commercials or visiting angels.


VELSHI:  Wow.  But we saw those stuff with Hillary Clinton in the 2016 campaign.  In fact, you can still find it on far right media.  There are all of these theories and videos about how sick Hillary Clinton is and the diseases she`s got and the fact that she`s likely to last a couple of weeks all the way back from 2016.

ANA MARIE COX, PODCAST HOST, WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE:  Yes.  I feel like we`re living in a really horrible mash-up of Groundhog Day, Black Mirror and Handmaid`s Tale.

VELSHI:  Yes, that`s good.

COX:  Like all the worst of those things, a repetitive dystopia, misogynistic dystopia.  I guess in certain extent like the dystopias are always misogynistic and repetitive.  But definitely, like you`re seeing them go back to the same playbook they use for Hillary Clinton to definitely go against Nancy Pelosi.  I don`t know.

If I were them, I would be careful about trying to say that someone being articulate or not is a qualification for President.  Like I know we should not do turn around is fair play but, you know, two can play that game.

In fact, that is the may be the real problem here.  Something that Giuliani said about his video, his tweeting out that video that I don`t think has gotten enough attention.  He`s saying it would be hypocritical to make a big deal out of this.  After all, she was the one who is making a direct criticism of the President`s competence and I don`t think that`s something good Americans should do.


COX:  That is the thing that I think is a really dangerous statement.  It`s not just that video.  It`s the idea we shouldn`t question, right?  That`s a larger conversation. 

VELSHI:  I will say -- I wasn`t going to bring it up.  But since you brought Giuliani up, I`m going to put up a tweet that he put out after deleting the tweet about Nancy Pelosi suggesting that she was inebriated.  I can`t even really read it because it`s kind of impossible to read.

I mean, if you were -- when you`re tweeting about somebody being a little incapacitated or not using proper terminology or grammar, take a look at this tweet.  That one is -- it ends with the word are, A-R-E.  We`re not quite sure what that`s about.

Let me ask you, Drew, this stuff is still up there.  In fact, if you go to Facebook right now, you can find it.  Why? 

HARWELL:  Because Facebook says they`re not going to take it down.  They have never wanted to be the arbiter of truth.  They say that their policies allow false things to go on to Facebook all the time.  So they have declined to take down a video that is, you know, proven false by many people.  And so millions of people are watching it, probably people are watching it right now.

And, you know, I think it`s going to be an issue as we get closer to 2020.  This is a platform that a ton of people in America get their news from.  This is where people find their friends and family on.  And yet, there`s no real interest from the company that runs it in insuring that the dialogue is healthy or at least based off the same set of facts.

You know, this video takes off and is fueled by Facebook`s technology, Facebook`s architecture.  Facebook allows videos like this to spread so quickly.  And the velocity of those and, you know, when we`re talking about videos that are just totally bogus, I think that`s going to be something we`re really questioning as -- is this healthy for our democracy, is this something we really want to support.

VELSHI:  Drew Harwell, thank you for your reporting on this.  Ana Marie stays with us.  Because the fight over the Alabama abortion law is headed to court, the ACLU and Planned Parenthood sued the state today.  But tonight, a federal judge in Mississippi said the so-called heartbeat law in the state could not be enforced.  That`s next.


VELSHI:  Here we go again.  That was the reaction today from a federal judge in Mississippi who struck down the state`s new six-week abortion ban as unconstitutional.

In November, Judge Carlton Reeves blocked an earlier attempt by Mississippi lawmakers to ban abortion after 15 weeks because it infringed upon women`s rights.  Today Judge Reeves ruled the new ban prevents a woman`s free choice, which is central to personal dignity and autonomy.  This injury outweighs any interest the state might have in banning abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat.

Now, this comes on the same Missouri`s Republican Governor Mike Parson`s signed into law a bill making abortion illegal after 8 weeks of pregnancy except in cases where there is serious health risk to the pregnant women.  Like the bill passed in Alabama last week, Missouri`s bill does not include exception for cases of rape or incest.  Doctors who perform the procedure could be charge with a felony and face up to 15 years in prison.

The ACLU and Planned Parenthood vowed to stop the law from going into effect in August, and the St. Louis Post dispatch reports that conservative donor David Humphreys is planning to bankroll a ballot initiative in 2020 seeking to undo the changes.  Missouri is now the sixth state that this -- this year, has passed legislation restricting abortion access.  Alabama`s ban is the most restrictive in the nation outlawing apportion at every stage of pregnancy.

This morning, the ACLU and Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit challenging Alabama`s law and these efforts are part of a broader assault on women`s rights from Republican state lawmakers who stated that their goal is to bring a new legal fight before a more conservative Supreme Court in an effort to overturn Roe v. Wade.

But a new CBS News poll shows that 67 percent of Americans want the Supreme Court to keep Roe v. Wade as it is, and thousands took to the streets in cities across the country on Tuesday to protest the onslaught of extreme abortion bans by Republicans.

After the break we`ll discuss the fight to protect women`s rights with Ana Marie Cox, was working on a month-long podcast series about abortion.



SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  This is an issue for all people.  It`s about the rights of all people.

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We deserve basic human rights in this country.  We deserve civil rights in this country.  We deserve autonomy for our body in this country.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We are here to say enough is enough, we`re going to fight you and we`re going to win.


VELSHI:  At the stop the bans protest on Tuesday, Democratic presidential candidates vowed to take on Republicans and Donald Trump in 2020 to protect women`s rights.  Ana Marie Cox is back with us.  She is working on a month- long podcast series about abortion.  Ana Marie, good to see you back here.

VICE news obtained documents of GOP secret talking points to get national Republicans to defend in particular the Alabama law, one that most people are calling the harshest of the laws.  Let me just read an excerpt from the talking points.

"Conservative leaders are urging members to defend the Alabama law, using the justification that an abortion would be committing more violence against a woman who was raped or survived incest.  Committing a second violent act with abortion to a woman who has already been victimized by an act of rape or incest could physically or psychologically wound her further," the document states.  "Every single child should be afforded the opportunity to live regardless of how they were conceived.  The guidance divides that Alabama`s law is a bold new pro-life legislation.  Unfortunately the media is attempting to use new developments to create gotcha moments for Republicans and divide within our party," it states.  Tell me what you think of that.

COX:  Well, I think, first of all, we should make very clear that there is no scientific evidence to back up the fact that there are psychological damage incurred upon a woman who gets an apportion.  In fact, of the studies that we have most show that women tend to, if not, actually be grateful for the fact they got an abortion, to consider it something they did.  They don`t have like an opinion one way or another on.  It was something they did for in re health at some point in their life.

And in feed, one-third of women in America will get an abortion as at some point during their reproductive life.  And that actually gets me to sort of my larger point here, which is that as much as I like to see women who believe in reproductive justice standing up to these very draconian laws, and as bad as a look I think it is to defend these laws, the freedom of choice has been under attack for decades in this state.

And in Mississippi in particular like over 90 percent of the women in Mississippi live in a county without an abortion provider.  There`s only two abortion providers in the entire state.  The abortion rate is a third than it is at the national level.

One-third of the women of child bearing age in Mississippi, if they want an abortion they had to travel 25 miles each way.  Mississippi requires an ultrasound, requires counseling, it requires a waiting period.  Those are all things that if you care about woman`s right to choose, you should be marching in the streets about knows as well.

I mean, it`s in some ways, you know, it is cathartic to see the fight be about these incredibly extreme bills, but there`s a part of me that feels like those fights might not last very long.  I don`t think the Supreme Court is going to go in that direction.  Instead, what I think is a longer term problem is the chipping away at Roe.  Because as I`m sure you know, there is no affirmative right to reproductive justice.

VELSHI:  Right.

COX:  You know, it`s something that is just implied.  And so it`s hard to protect.

VELSHI:  And it`s happening in state after state.  There are upward of 30 states that have imposed some restrictions.  They just don`t look like Alabama`s or Mississippi`s or Missouri`s.

COX:  Right.  And again, I think that if you want to put on marching shoes you probably should put on marching shoes and go to your state capitol, because most states have enacted these kinds of laws, they are called trap laws.  And they are designed to limit the opportunities that a woman has to do reproductive health not just abortions by the way, reproductive health in general gets hurt when these laws enacted.

VELSHI:  That`s right.  Ana Marie Cox, good to see you again.  Thank you for joining us tonight.

And that`s LAST WORD -- tonight`s LAST WORD, "THE 11TH Hour WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS" starts right now.