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Rep. Katie Porter discusses impeachment. TRANSCRIPT: 5/30/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell.

Guests: Katie Porter; Jeff Daniels

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

Because of you ever breaking news, I`ve had to change a number in a script here from 50 to 51 because Congressman Mike Quigley on your show just announced that he is now in favor of impeachment proceedings. 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS":  Yes.  And he explained I thought in a way that was very helpful talking about why he previously was not despite the fact that he recognized the serious seriousness of what the president was accused of and some of the seriousness of what had turned up before that Intelligence Committee.  But what has turned him around on that in the last couple of weeks, and I thought it was just really helpful to hear his explanation of it. 

O`DONNELL:  Yes, and they are moving -- here`s the number we don`t know.  How many think exactly the same thing as Mike Quigley said to you tonight?  And simply have not said it publicly yet? 


O`DONNELL:  There could be another 150 of them.  We don`t know.  Another 100, we don`t know. 

MADDOW:  And I think as committee chairs start to come out and now say they`re on in train including the homeland security chairman who has now come out and the rules chairman who`s now come out, that will -- I mean, you know as well as anybody how important the committees are in terms of defining the internal structure of each caucus in Congress.  And with committee chairs starting to come out despite their intense loyalty for Nancy Pelosi, I think it may have knock on effects inside those committees too. 

O`DONNELL:  Yes, the other mystery to this, Rachel, is we will not know in the present tense, anyway, what Nancy Pelosi actually wants people to say on a given day.  Even though she might not be there publicly, she might actually want a few people per day or some rhythm to this breaking, and it could all be something that she`s very much in control of in a certain sense, participating in in a certain sense. 

MADDOW:  You know, and it`s interesting.  I just had Valerie Jarrett here in part because I wanted to ask her about this issue just as somebody who was, you know, Barack Obama`s top essentially political adviser, senior White House adviser for both of his complete terms.  What she makes of the Democrats and their thought process on this issue. 

And she was just very straightforward about it.  I trust Nancy Pelosi`s decision on this.  She wasn`t saying I trust Nancy Pelosi to make sure this doesn`t happen.  She was saying I believe that Nancy Pelosi will make the right decision here.  And you hear that from Democrats in the House who have a reason to say it. 

Valerie Jarrett, obviously, is out of the game now.  But I think that the idea that Pelosi isn`t going to let this one off without her is probably a wise assessment. 

O`DONNELL:  Thanks for breaking some news for us, Rachel, that we`re going to use now in this hour. 

MADDOW:  Appreciate it.

O`DONNELL:  Thank you, Rachel. 

Well, today, the president finally said it, he said Russia helped me get elected and he said it in writing in a tweet, of course.  We will get Congresswoman Katie Porter`s reaction to that tonight.  Congresswoman Porter is back with us after holding a town hall in her congressional district in California today. 

Republican Congressman Justin Amash got standing ovations in his Republican district in Michigan earlier this week after publicly announcing his support for impeaching President Trump.  Congressman Amash is the only Republican in Congress who supports impeachment, the only Republican in Congress who takes the Mueller report seriously.  He is the only Republican in Congress saying we can`t go on like this with a president committing obstruction of justice. 

In American fiction, the enduring model of the one person trying to get others in his community to see the light is Atticus Finch, created by Harper Lee in her 1960 novel "To Kill A Mockingbird."  Jeff Daniels is now playing Atticus Finch on Broadway.  At the end of this hour, we will show you some dramatic and moving moments from the play that will leave you no doubt why Jeff Daniels is nominated for a Tony Award for his performance. 

Jeff Daniels will join us at the end of this hour to discuss why the courage and strength of Atticus Finch in trying to lead people to do the right thing resonates so powerfully with today`s audiences who are living with today`s politics and yearning for something better and someone better.  Jeff Daniels is as passionate and eloquent about today`s politics as Atticus Finch is in the courtroom and so we feel very fortunate tonight that Jeff Daniels will get the last word tonight. 

But first, we begin with a tweet that will definitely go down in history.  Today, the president of the United States wrote in his diary that Russia helped get him elected.  President Trump is the only president who makes his diary public because he writes it on Twitter. 

This morning, the president tweeted: I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected. 

That is the first time the president has acknowledged what the rest of us have known for a long time and what Robert Mueller documented in his investigation, and in his report.  Russia helped Donald Trump get elected. 

Here is the way Robert Mueller described what the Russians did yesterday. 


ROBERT MUELLER, SPECIAL COUNSEL:  Russian intelligence officers who were part of the Russian military launched a concerted attack on our political system.  The indictment alleges that they used sophisticated cyber techniques to hack into computers and networks used by the Clinton campaign.  They stole private information and then released that information through fake online and identities and through the organization WikiLeaks.  The releases were designed and timed to interfere with our election and to damage a presidential candidate. 


O`DONNELL:  That`s how the Russians helped Donald Trump get elected.  In our two-party system, when you damage one candidate, that means you are working to help the other candidate.  And now, even Donald Trump admits that Russia helped his presidential campaign, in writing. 

Shortly after he posted that tweet, Donald Trump corrected a typo in another tweet that he posted at the same time.  So, Donald Trump had time to reconsider his acknowledgement that will Russia helped get him elected, and he just left it there and it`s still there in writing on Twitter right now.  Donald Trump saying I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected. 

After the president wrote that this morning, a White House reporter then asked him, quote: Do you believe that Russia helped you get elected?  To which the president, of course, said, quote: No.  Russia did not help me get elected, end quote.  Because he is Donald Trump, which is to say he is the only politician in our history and certainly the only president in our history who can put something in writing, have plenty of time to correct it, and choose not to correct it, leave it in writing, and then as soon as he`s asked about it, say the opposite thing. 

White House reporters are so shell-shocked by this phenomenon that none of them questioned the president any further on why he wrote that Russia helped him to get elected.  The president was also asked in this morning. 


REPORTER:  Do you think they`re going to impeach you? 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I don`t see how they can because they`re possibly allowed, although I can`t imagine the courts allowing it. 


O`DONNELL:  It would be impossible to find a more constitutionally illiterate statement ever uttered by a president of the United States.  Donald Trump is the first and only president who does not know that the courts have nothing to do with impeachment.  Only the House of Representatives can impeach a president of the United States and only the United States Senate can have an impeachment trial after the House has impeached the president and decide whether to remove that president from office and no court can ever be involved in any part of that process. 

If the president loses the Senate trial and is removed from office by the United States Senate, the president cannot appeal that will decision to the Supreme Court or to any other court.  The president of the United States actually woke up this morning believing that his United States Supreme Court would not allow him to be impeached. 


TRUMP:  I can`t imagine the courts allowing it. 


O`DONNELL:  Is that pure ignorance or is that a loosening grip on reality? 

That would have been the most shocking thing said by any previous president but with Donald Trump it just flies by in a flurry of words which also included this. 


TRUMP:  To me, it`s a dirty word, the word "impeach".  It`s a dirty, filthy, disgusting word. 


O`DONNELL:  That from the only president in history who has ever deliberately said this into a microphone. 


TRUMP:  It`s bullshit, OK?  It`s bullshit. 


O`DONNELL:  Donald Trump has never apologized for using dirty, filthy or disgusting words when he was caught on a video recording describing his favorite techniques for sexual assault. 


TRUMP:  I`m automatically attracted to beautiful.  I just start kissing them.  It`s like a magnet.  I don`t even wait.  When you`re a star, they let you do it.  You can do anything.  Grab them by the (AUDIO DELETED) 


O`DONNELL:  After Robert Mueller said yesterday that he intended to make no more public statements, the president decided it was safe today to attack Robert Mueller since he knows that he can take Robert Mueller at his word that Robert Mueller won`t make any public statements about Donald Trump attacking him. 


TRUMP:  I think he is a total conflicted person.  I think Mueller is a true never Trumper.  He`s somebody that dislikes Donald Trump. 


O`DONNELL:  If Robert Mueller is someone who dislikes Donald Trump, that would put him in the majority of Americans, but what Donald Trump does not know is that he is the only president who has ever been investigated by a special prosecutor who is a member of the same political party as the president.  Normally, special prosecutors and presidents are chosen from the president`s opposing party deliberate lit as a way of proving their independence, political independence from the president. 

But Republican president Donald Trump got a Republican special prosecutor, and he still complains about that as only Donald Trump would.  After Rachel`s show tonight, NBC News now counts that 51 members of the House of Representatives, 50 Democrats and one Republican are now making public statements in favor of the House starting an impeachment inquiry against the president.  That number went up to 51 in the last hour as House Intelligence Committee Member Mike Quigley announced his support for an impeachment inquiry on "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW". 

Senator Elizabeth Warren was the first presidential candidate to support impeachment immediately after the partially redacted Mueller report came out six weeks ago. 

Today, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said this. 


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  No president is above the law.  This president must be held accountable.  And I believe that the judiciary committee should begin impeachment inquiries.  Inquiries, all right? 

Now, that`s not impeachment.  That is to determine, that`s the first step, to determine whether or not Trump has committed impeachable offenses. 


O`DONNELL:  Leading off our discussion tonight, John Heilemann, national affairs analyst for NBC News and MSNBC.  He is co-host and executive producer of Showtime`s "The Circus". 

And Chuck Rosenberg is with us.  He`s a former senior FBI official, former U.S. attorney and former counsel to Robert Mueller at the FBI.  He now hosts the MSNBC podcast "The Oath."

John Heilemann, Mike Quigley tonight the latest one among the Democrats to come out in favor of impeachment.  It`s only moving in one direction. 


O`DONNELL:  We don`t get any louder Democratic voices resisting impeachment. 

HEILEMANN:  Right.  There`s no -- I mean, look, on any timeline that`s meaningful, the only trajectory is up.  The question is what the velocity of the trajectory is at this point. 

And, you know, we now with Bernie Sanders having I would say inevitably capitulated 24 hours ago he was in a different place.  Today, he realized that everyone who is in the beat here on of the Democratic field who is trying to get some of his vote was to his left on this issue. 

The only one now really in the A or B tier who is not for starting impeachment inquiry is Joe Biden. 

O`DONNELL:  Unusual to see Bernie Sanders playing catch-up on an issue like that.

HEILEMANN:  Yes, it is unusual.  He has typically been in the leadership position on the progressive wing of the party on almost everything.  But, as you saw, yesterday, you had Elizabeth Warren who as you pointed out, the first but Elizabeth Warren reiterating her position on this. 

You had Cory Booker.  You had Kamala Harris.  You had all of the rest in that tier, anybody who`s above 2 percent or 3 percent is now on this position.  The only two left were Biden and Sanders.  Sanders I did not -- I do think could tolerate politically could be in a position where he could tolerate not being with them.  And so, you saw him a step behind.

Now, it`s all that`s left is Joe Biden, who`s the only one in the Democratic field who`s not in that place.  And I think the pressure on him to get to that place is going to be very strong.  He clearly wants to be loyal to Nancy Pelosi but I think the pressure in the field is going to get very intense for him. 

O`DONNELL:  Chuck Rosenberg, we feel very fortunate to have you here tonight, our first chance to speak to you since we heard Robert Mueller speak yesterday.  You are our Mueller translator.  No one knows him better than you do.  You`ve worked with him so closely. 

Tell us what you heard yesterday from Robert Mueller. 

CHUCK ROSENBERG, MSNBC LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR:  Yes.  And, first, I`ll tell you this, Lawrence, I think people fundamentally don`t understand an apolitical nonpartisan actor, particularly --

O`DONNELL:  And what that sounds like. 

ROSENBERG:  And what sounds -- well, it sounds like Bob Mueller. 


ROSENBERG:  You know, when I worked for him, when I had the privilege of working for him, I had nothing idea he was a Republican.  He had no idea what I was because you never talk about it. 

So, he was asked to do several things -- investigate, prosecute as appropriate and write a report.  That`s it.  What you heard the other day was a man reporting on his assigned duty. 

He wrote the report, if you want to know what he found, you should read the report.  This is quintessential Bob Mueller.  I`m not at all surprised except in part by the reaction.  People pour a lot of hope into a particular vessel, right?  They want Bob Mueller to be all things to all people and to solve the problem. 

He wrote a report.  He wrote a darn good report.  And if you want to see what he thinks, you ought to read the report. 

O`DONNELL:  So, do you -- do you read into his comments yesterday what he so many others did when he said very deliberately, we can`t prosecute a president, but there is another constitutional process for that, we all know that that is process is impeachment.  He didn`t use the word "impeachment", but very clear that sentence was a reference to impeachment.  He didn`t have to say that. 

ROSENBERG:  No, he didn`t have to say it.  And it`s obvious to those of us who have read the Constitution that there is that process and Congress has the sole responsibility for it. 

I think he was being more careful though.  If you can`t charge a sitting president, and you also can`t recommend charging a sitting president and you ought not take a position on impeachment either.  It exists.  If Congress wants to invoke their authority to impeach or to inquire, they may. 

Mueller stayed right down the middle in my view and appropriately so. 

O`DONNELL:  Let`s listen to what Mike Quigley told Rachel in the last hour or the breaking news from Mike Quigley. 


REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL):  The events in the last couple weeks just made it impossible for me to stay where I was.  The fact that there is obstruction after the fact, that`s how I describe the fact that clearly the president in detailed analysis by the special counsel obstructed prior to his release of that report.  So at this point, we have nothing to lose.  And I think opening impeachment inquiry will help us get that information. 


O`DONNELL:  John Heilemann, personal note, my experience working in the Senate and the Congress, there are no more loyal party line Democrats than the Chicago Democrats that are sent to the House of Representatives, from Danny Rostenkowski and every other one that I ever met.  I can`t imagine Mike Quigley getting way out of line with leadership. 

There`s -- it`s starting to feel to me like leadership is OK with us some number of people peeling off every day. 

HEILEMANN:  I think there`s a recognition in the same way Nancy Pelosi has a recognition of the politics of moderate members, perhaps particularly freshmen members from moderate districts that their politics on this are in one place.  She also had a feel for the fact that the politics for other members are different, and that if you are in a city like Chicago just like if you`re in AOC`s district, that the politics in your districts are going, why are we not moving towards that if not to impeachment itself?

And I think that what Pelosi is trying to do is increasingly is to give members enough freedom that she wants loyalty like any leader does but also recognizes the fact that there is a disparate kind of politics on this question and the ground is shifting really fast.  And that in Democratic districts are not alike, and that as the ground shifts, there`s going to be pressure on people like Mike Quigley and other Democrats to come to the position that he came to tonight. 

O`DONNELL:  Let`s listen to what William Barr said today, attorney general said today about Robert Mueller. 


WILLIAM BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL:  He could have reached a conclusion, the opinion says you cannot indict a president while he`s in office.  But he could have reached a decision as to whether it was criminal activity.  But he had his reasons for not doing it which he explained.  I`m not going to, you know, argue about those reasons. 

But when he didn`t make a decision, the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and I felt it was necessary for us as the heads of the department to reach that decision. 


O`DONNELL:  Chuck? 

ROSENBERG:  Yes, I don`t agree with the attorney general.  Here`s why, Lawrence: the rationale that underlies the policy that is precludes the Justice Department from charging a sitting president is you don`t want to stigmatize the president or burden the presidency.  What Bob Mueller said very clearly is not only can he not charge but that recommending charges to somebody who couldn`t answer the charges, right, would also stigmatize the president and burden the presidency. 

And so, I wonder out loud whether Mr. Barr told that to Mr. Mueller before we heard from the special counsel, right?  Whether he had given them that leeway prior to making that statement. 

But Mueller is a by-the-book guy.  He`s fundamentally a by-the-book guy.  And if you can`t burden the president or stigmatize the presidency, you can`t do it in any way.  Charging or recommending charges. 

O`DONNELL:  Let me ask you this.  If there was discussion and the attorney general said to Robert Mueller, if you don`t make a decision on this, I will, how would that have affected the Mueller report? 

ROSENBERG:  Well, Mueller also knows as a marine infantry officer when he is in the presence of a superior officer.  So his job was to write the report.  It`s clear from the report what he thought happened.  Barr gets to make the call.  Mueller will salute smartly and walk off stage and you will not hear from him again. 

O`DONNELL:  Chuck Rosenberg, thank you very much for joining us tonight.  The host of the MSNBC podcast "The Oath," that is Chuck`s new podcast. 

John Heilemann, thank you very much.

And, John, you know, where you go, Jeff Daniels goes.  I saw Jeff Daniels on Nicolle Wallace`s show with you last week.  He`s here tonight.  He`s going to be at the end of this hour and --

HEILEMANN:  He`s either a good friend of minor a stalker.  I`m not sure which.  We can ask him later on, one or the other.

O`DONNELL:  As you know, he is as passionate about the today`s politics as anyone. 

HEILEMANN:  He`s great on that show, too.

O`DONNELL:  When we come back, former FBI agent Clint Watts wrote an article entitled "The Kremlin`s strategy for the 2020 U.S. election, secure the base, split the opposition."  Clint Watts will join us later in this hour. 

Coming up next, Congresswoman Katie Porter.  She went in front of her constituents tonight, a town hall meeting in California.  What do you think was their number one concern?  Katie Porter will tell us, next. 


O`DONNELL:  Freshman Congresswoman Katie Porter held a town hall today in her California district, the day after Robert Mueller finally spoke. 


REP. KATIE PORTER (D-CA):  This has been a real turning point.  A lot of you saw me on the campaign trail over and over again.  You didn`t hear me ever talk about impeachment. 

It`s not why I went to Washington.  I went to Washington to work on health care prices.  I went to Washington to work on the costs of child care.  I went to Washington to work on consumer protection and affordable housing.  But I will not shirk my duty if the time comes and the time is nigh. 



O`DONNELL:  You met Congressman Katie Porter on this program as soon as she began asking questions in House hearings relying on her experience as a lawyer and law professor trained at Harvard law school by among others then Professor Elizabeth Warren.  Professor Katie Porter`s specialty is consumer law.  And you have seen her using that expertise in questioning witnesses, sharply questioning witnesses like J.P. Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, and Donald Trump`s housing and urban development secretary, Ben Carson.

When Congresswoman Porter was asked today what`s her favorite thing about being a member of Congress, she said this. 


PORTER:  Well, I should be honest.  I like committee.  I like asking my questions. 


PORTER:  So -- I would say that I like that.  Although do I people ask me, I do get very nervous and part of it is you know, in the first couple times I wasn`t as nervous.  But also nobody knew what hit them.  So I had the advantage of surprise.  Now when it`s my turn, the witness just looks like they`re going to puke. 


O`DONNELL:  Joining us now is Representative Katie Porter, freshman Democrat from the California and a member of the Financial Services Committee. 

Congresswoman Porter, thank you very much for joining us again tonight.  And so, the day after Robert Mueller spoke is sounding when I listened to you like a turning point of sorts in Congress and possibly a turning point for you, what is your view of the impeachment process tonight? 

PORTER:  I think that what Director Mueller said, what Robert Mueller said is very consistent with the report.  So I didn`t hear him say anything new.  I think his speaking has helped reiterate to those who haven`t had the opportunity to read the report and study its conclusions as I have, but what he said is exactly what he`s been saying, which is that there`s substantial evidence that the president obstructed justice.  And he goes through, he analyzes 14 instances in the report and in at least four of them, he says there`s substantial evidence that there was obstruction. 

So, I appreciate him, his consistency, his professionalism and his ability to continue to focus on his findings. 

O`DONNELL:  You`re representing a formerly Republican district, possibly still Republican district.  The last 50 years, it`s been a Republican district.  Does that inhibit your thinking and your public statements about impeachment? 

PORTER:  It does not.  This is an issue about what we owe the American people. 

And I don`t care how vote for or what party you`re registered in.  You`re owed a government that follows the law.  You`re owed a president who respects our Constitution, who respects the checks and balances, in our democracy. 

So whether you`re a Republican or a Democrat, I hope you`re looking with great karat what this president has done and what he has failed to do, most recently refusing to comply with congressional subpoenas. 

O`DONNELL:  Congressman Amash, the only Republican member of Congress who supports impeachment had a town hall the other day.  We`ll show some of this later in this hour.  It was all about impeachment. 

What about your town hall today?  How much of it was about impeachment?  What was the number one issue? 

PORTER:  So, the number one issue was definitely health care.  A number of variety of concerns about health care, not just prescription drug pricing which, of course, we`ve been talking a lot about, also access to home health care services, mental health, a number of issues relating to health care.  That continues to be the number one issue I get asked about.  But impeachment did come up. 

I would say there`s been a real change since the Mueller report was published.  Before that I never got asked about it or supremely rarely.  Now I get asked about it almost pre day.  People stop me in the grocery store, as I`m going about my daily business in the coffee shop and they want to know what I`m going to do about the president`s refusal to obey the law. 

O`DONNELL:  And what do you tell them? 

PORTER:  I tell them Congress is a deliberative body by design.  Congress is supposed to work slowly and supposed to work in conjunction with each other.  It`s not the job of any one Congress member to impeach the president.  It`s the job of the entire body of Congress. 

So, I am continuing to talk to colleagues.  This morning, I got a phone call from one of my congressional colleagues a fellow freshman this morning at 7:15 and I thought to myself, I can`t believe this colleague is calling me so early in the morning 7:15.  And when I wrote that back to him, the colleague pointed out that I had texted him first. 

So, obviously, we`re up first thing in the morning, this is the first thing on my mind.  Every day but this is important that we have these conversations with each other, and also with our stuns.  It is really important because this is not about like I said, this is not about Democratic leadership.  This is not about what we owe Speaker Pelosi or what we owe any of each other as Democrats.  This is about what we owe every single American to preserve our democracy for generations to come. 

O`DONNELL:  When I was working in the Senate, I saw two kinds of discussions among colleagues.  One highly politically pressurized.  You`ve really got to get in line, this is what the party`s doing. 

And another kind of discussion which was more along the lines of soul searching, more along the lines of members trying -- and allowing that each other would find their own way to an answer of how they were going to vote, usually on the more momentous things actually.  And I`m wondering how this discussion about impeachment is working within the Democrats in the House of Representatives now.

PORTER:  It`s definitely the second kind of conversation.  I`ve had a number of colleagues contact me.  I`ve reached out to some of my colleagues.

We`re sharing our thoughts and our ideas.  We`re sharing what we`re hearing from our constituents around the country during this recess work, district work period.

And so I think we`re going to come back to D.C. and have the benefit of having talked with our constituents, having listened to them, having talked with them about what`s going on in Washington and getting their thoughts what to do.

This is definitely a situation where the speaker is making the opportunity for each one of us, particularly those of house are freshmen to go into our communities and engage in conversation about how they want us to move forward in carrying out our responsibility.

O`DONNELL:  Congresswoman Katie Porter, thank you very much for joining us tonight.  We really appreciate it.

PORTER:  Thank you.

O`DONNELL:  Coming up, President Trump said today that the Russians helped him get elected.  And surely they will help him -- try to help him get re- elected.

Former FBI Agent Clint Watts knows exactly how the Russians plan to try to help Donald Trump get re-elected and he will join us next.


O`DONNELL:  After President Trump tweeted, "I had nothing to do with Russia helping me to get elected", Hillary Clinton tweeted, "The president hasn`t just refused to condemn a foreign power that attacked our democracy.  He`s also failed to protect the country`s voting systems against future attacks.  He betrays his oath every day."

Joining our discussion now is Clint Watts, former FBI special agent, and an MSNBC national security analyst.  Clint`s latest article in the "Daily Beast" is entitled "The Kremlin`s Strategy for the 2020 U.S. Election, Secure the Base, Split the Opposition."

Clint, thank you very much for joining us tonight.  Secure the base, split the opposition.  That sounds like classic American campaigning techniques.

CLINT WATTS, FORMER FBI AGENT:  It is.  The Russians understand our political system as well as we do.  I mean we saw that in 2016.  They knew what they were after.

What they`re going to really focus on you can already see in their overt state-sponsored propaganda at this point is really focusing on how do we keep Trump supporting base that has already converged with us in terms of our views which seems to think that Russia could be an ally which is open to maybe moving sanctions in the next term which hasn`t messed with us in Crimea or Ukraine.

How do we keep them going and what do you do?  You just have to repeat those White House attacks on Democrats.  You need to just route conspiracies in through fringe and get it into the mainstream.

What`s more important I think going forward is about two-thirds of their efforts back in 2016 were focused on rallying that conservative base for Trump and only about a third were going after the left-wing of the American political system.  I think that will reverse going forward.

What you`ll see then is them focusing on populist on the political left to really divide the opposition.  They want Americans on the populist left and the populist right saying the same things, the things that they want to say, that America should withdraw from the world, that democracy is corrupt, that it`s the 1 percent versus the 99 percent and nationalism versus globalism on the right.

The idea is to bring those audiences together.  And if they can do that, they can successfully turndown turnout maybe against Trump going into the 2020 election.

O`DONNELL:  And so Clint, we have over 20 Democratic candidates for president and so that means there`s plenty of room for disappointment among Democratic primary voters about who the eventual nominee is.

And that`s where the Russians enter in their technique of splitting the opposition.  They will try to get people to hold on on the Democratic side -- voters on the Democratic side, to hold on to resentments that they built up against candidates particularly against whoever the nominee is that they built up against the nominee during the campaign and try to get those people to simply not vote or as some apparently might have done in the last campaign, vote for the green party but simply not support the Democratic nominee.

WATTS:  That`s exactly right.  We saw that play out really the whole idea that Bernie Sanders got a raw deal which was powered from stolen e-mails right around the time of the DNC and for the rest of essentially the election cycle, that was to turn down support.

And they`ll use a similar method this time.  They`ll talk about how America is warmongering nation that`s out there, how it`s really corrupt, how super delegates are rigged against the populace essentially.  They`ll use those themes and messages and try and drive and reinforce those candidates that are saying that thing.

The one advantage that the Democrats do have going into this one with having so many candidates is it will be very difficult for the Kremlin to really zero in on one candidate unless the field narrows very dramatically.  They are very anti-establishment.

When I`ve watched them in terms of their state-sponsored media so far, Biden is a central figure that they are against.  Kamala Harris will also show up in there because she`s part of the Russia investigation from the Senate Intelligence Committee.

So they will try and focus on how to keep those divisions going.  I think the good news is that with lots of candidates, they won`t be able to necessarily focus that hacking that we saw last time.  It would be difficult to do.

If they want to successfully hack and drive the election, they would have to do that this fall and into winter so they have enough time to know what information is there to dump and drop.  It would also be a risky maneuver.

Even id Trump does stay in office or he is challenged and removed, to provoke us again in such a way would almost force any president really to have to retaliate afterwards.

O`DONNELL:  Clint Watts, thank you very much for joining us tonight.  Appreciate it.

WATTS:  Thank you.

O`DONNELL:  And when we come back, we will hear from the one Republican in Congress who supports impeachment of the president.  He is now that lonely voice in his party trying to persuade others in his party to do the right thing.

We will listen to his town hall meeting this week where Congressman Justin Amash seems to have already persuaded many, if not most of his constituents, in his Republican district that he is doing the right thing.  We`ll show you that video.

And later, we`ll be joined by Actor Jeff Daniels who`s playing Atticus Finch, a character who tries to persuade people to do the right thing.




O`DONNELL:  Republican Presidential Campaign Manager Stewart Stevens is asking how his Republican Party descended from Ronald Reagan`s famous confrontation with the Soviet Union to the point where they are now "on the same side as the Russians."

We have never seen anything like this in Congress where one of the parties has completely collapsed into a seemingly morality-free zone unattached to any of the principles they all used to claim as their governing philosophy.  We are now in the second week of the crack in the wall of Republican congressional silence.

It is a one-man crack.  Republican Congressman Justin Amash of Michigan after reading the Mueller report in full says he is now in favor of the impeachment of President Trump.  Here he is in a town hall in his Republican district this week explaining his position.


REP. JUSTIN AMASH (R-MI):  If you have a society where all we care about is that the other side is bad and therefore, we don`t have to do the right thing, that society will break down and you will have no liberty.  For those of you who care about liberty, who care about our Constitution, I assure you the surest way to make our Constitution a dead letter is to have a society where we all hate each other and we don`t care about what the other side is doing what they`re doing right or wrong.

We`re just going to hate them and disagree with them.  That`s the surest way to destroy our Constitution.  And I refuse to be a part of that.

I will always stand up for liberty and stand up for our Constitution.


O`DONNELL:  Is that the first crack in the wall?  Or will no other Republican follow Congressman Amash`s example?  We don`t know.

Walls always look impenetrable.  Until they`re not.  No one expected that the Soviet Union would tear down the Berlin Wall because Ronald Reagan told them to, but the Berlin Wall did come down in a way that no one ever expected until the day it happened.  And with shocking suddenness, the Berlin Wall was gone.

Justin Amash is now the one voice in his party, the one voice trying to get his party to see the light.  And that seeps as impossible as the Berlin Wall coming down.  In American literature, the enduring model of the one person trying to get others to see the light is Atticus Finch, created by Harper Lee in her 1960 novel "To Kill A Mockingbird."

Atticus Finch is a small town Alabama lawyer in the 1930s who is defending a black man charged with raping a white woman.  One thousand four hundred thirty-five people are watching Atticus Finch do that every night on the stage of the Schubert Theater on Broadway in Aaron Sorkin`s play "To Kill A Mockingbird," where it has a new resonance for Americans whose hope for change an, whose hope for a new future is as strong as it has ever been.


ATTICUS FINCH:  My father gave me one of those air rifles, an air rifle.  He said he`d rather I shoot at tin cans in the backyard but that he knew that one day the temptation would become too great and I would want to shoot at birds.

He said I could shoot all the blue jays I want, probably knowing I`ll never be able to hit one.  But to always remember it was a sin to kill a Mockingbird.  A sin.  A crime against God, only time I ever heard him use that word.

Asked him why, and he said it was because they were innocent.  And I became a lawyer.


O`DONNELL:  Jeff Daniels is nominated for a Tony Award for his performance at Atticus Finch.  He will join us next to discuss the resonance of Atticus Finch in today`s America and in today`s politics where the lesson of Atticus Finch`s courage in the pursuit of justice needs to be taught over and over again.


O`DONNELL:  We can`t go on like this.  That is how most Americans feel in 2019.

Most Americans say they definitely will not vote for Donald Trump for re- election.  Most Americans disapprove of President Trump in his job performance and always have.  Most Americans disapprove of his personal characteristics.

We can`t go on like this is actually a recurring feeling in American society and it is the feeling that has ultimately delivered every positive change that has come to this country from the abolition of slavery onward.  In his small town in the 1930s of Alabama, Atticus Finch was the lonely voice telling people we can`t go on like this.


FINCH:  You saw him.  You heard him.  That wasn`t a slip of the tongue.

Tom Robinson said exactly what he meant.  In fact, he said it twice.  Because he forgot his place because he forgot who he was, what he was?

No.  Because he remembered.  A man will have his dignity.

A sin.  A crime against God.  Can`t go on like this.

We have to heal this wound or we will never stop bleeding.  We have to make good this crime.  We have to show Tom Robinson justice in this courtroom.

Now, we can start gathering the animals two by two because we`ll be shown God`s justice in a hurry.  We can`t go on like this.  We know that.

So let`s hasten the change.  Let`s hasten the end of the beginning.  Let`s do it right now.

Let`s begin by restoring this man to his family.  Let`s begin with justice.


O`DONNELL:  Joining our discussion now, the Emmy Award Winner for Best Actor in the HBO drama "The Newsroom" and now the Tony Award Nominee for Best Actor in Aaron Sorkin`s "To Kill a Mockingbird," Jeff Daniels.

Thank you very much for doing this on one of your rare nights off from the theater.


O`DONNELL:  I really appreciate this.  I read a reviewer of the film in the 1960s said somewhere within that man is the best of us.

DANIELS:  Yes, he -- pack was working from a different script, a Horton Foote screenplay where he was more on Mt. Rushmore.  He was heroic.  He was already on the pedestal.

Aaron Sorkin`s play based on the book, we look at Atticus from eye level.  And we see him become -- Atticus, we see him become the better angel.

He believes in everything he believes, but he`s just a small town lawyer who sometimes gets paid in vegetables.  And one day the judge comes over and says, "I need you to represent this black man who is 100 percent innocent and it`s a done deal, he`s not guilty."

And Atticus` life changes and he becomes Atticus Finish.  And he sees the injustice.  He sees the unfairness, the inequality firsthand.  It punches him right in the face.

O`DONNELL:  I think in all 1,400 of your audience members every night, they all pick a line or a couple of lines that resonate that that`s the moment for them.  That`s where they connect to today.

DANIELS:  Sorokin`s got a bunch of them.

O`DONNELL:  Yes.  And for me, if I had to pull it down to one line, it`s the one line that I referred to in introducing that clip, which is "We can`t go on like this."

That is a feeling that I am picking up from people all over this country.  We can`t go on like this.  And we`ve been there before, as this play shows.

DANIELS:  Yes.  And whether it`s racism as we deal with in the play directly or the people feel it.  They feel it.

They hear Atticus say we can`t go on like this.  We have to heal this wound or we will never stop bleeding.

But the audience feels it.  They watch the movie.  They see the -- they read the book.  They feel the play.

And it feels very familiar to what`s going on just today, you know, with Justin Amash coming.  When he tweeted, it was like, OK, you tweeted, that`s a profile in courage I guess nowadays.

And then he did the town hall in front of his constituents.  And those weren`t just Democrats in there coming, they were Republicans and they were standing and cheering this guy.

Those people are out there.  I live out there.  I live in Michigan.  They`re out there.

They`re ashamed of what`s going on.  The fact that this guy, this president has completely soiled the oval office, soiled the presidency.  And you`ve got a lot of people -- and I keep looking at them.

I go when is enough enough?  Have we tripped it yet so that you`re going to go, OK, if I have to vote for a democrat or Biden then I will, but are you there yet?

Because you`re on the Titanic and after Mueller spoke the other day, the iceberg got a little closer.  So when are you getting off?

They`re the ones who need to show the courage.  Not only just the 15 Republicans in the Senate who are deafly silent, but also those people, those Republicans who like my dad were Republican moderates.  You know, a worthy -- much worthy.

We need Republican moderates to sit in the same room with the Democrats and work out a deal for everybody.  We need that.  And they`re out there.

I just -- it`s time to get off the fence.  Much like Atticus, Atticus has to come off the porch.  Atticus can`t sit there and go, I just handle foreclosures and land disputes and I stay out of it and the whole race thing is on the other side of town.

I don`t deal with it.  I`m trying to raise my kids.  I don`t want to, you know, he`s an apologist.  And we can`t be that anymore.  That clock`s run out.

O`DONNELL:  Did you get a note of Atticus out of Robert Mueller the other day?  Because what I get in both of them is they both seem to believe that if you present people with the truth, they will do the right thing, which is a pretty optimistic view of the way things work.

DANIELS:  It is.  Especially now with social media where it`s true.  I saw it on the Internet, boom, you know?  You got to fight against that.

Atticus is all about the rule of law.  It is sacred.  When you take an oath, to tell the truth, nothing but the truth, it is sacred.

There`s truth.  There`s honesty.  There`s decency.  There`s integrity.

All of those things that Mueller -- I mean look at the guy`s life, for God`s sake, and Atticus is the same way.  He believes in the same things and he hopes that there`s a better angel in everyone and I think we`re going to find out in the next few months.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR:  As the former anchorman yourself, you know the clock is unforgiving, and so that is going to be it for us.  Jeff Daniels gets "Tonight`s Last Word."  Do you want to take the rest?

DANIELS:  "The 11th Hour" with Brian Williams starts now.