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Trump insults Pelosi, Mueller in France. TRANSCRIPT: 6/6/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell.

Guests: Nicholas Kristof, Jamie Raskin, Chris Van Hollen

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Rachel, and really great reporting tonight.  We learned a lot. 

I just want to raise one point of a prediction that you made last night that came true a lot faster than I thought it would.  Joe Biden on the Hyde Amendment. 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS":  Yes.

O`DONNELL:  At this very hour 24 hours ago, when that was a controversy, you predicted that was going to be incredibly difficult for him to survive.  And he decided not to try to survive it even 24 hours, changed his position today. 

MADDOW:  Yes, and I can`t even really say I told you so because I think -- 

O`DONNELL:  Yes, you can.  No, you did.  It was on video.  Everybody watching right now saw it.  You told us so.

MADDOW:  But I think what I said is it won`t survive the Democratic primary process.  I definitely didn`t say it won`t survive until this time tomorrow. 

O`DONNELL:  That you didn`t say.  That`s right.  Well, such is the power of Rachel Maddow. 

MADDOW:  Well, yes. 

O`DONNELL:  Thank you, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL:  There`s only one Nick Kristof, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the "New York Times."  And this is one of those days when we wish there were many more. 

He delivered extraordinary reporting to "The New York Times" today from Guatemala where he asked people why they leave Guatemala and head north toward our southern border.  He basically handed his column over to those people in Guatemala today and let them speak. 

And what I read in their stories of why they come is the story of why my people came to America from a starving country where they could not survive.  You will hear their stories later in this hour and listen for something that might sound like the story of something that happened that made it your people come to this country. 

And as soon as I read that piece this morning, I asked if Nick Kristof could join us tonight and luckily he can.  And so, you will hear more of what Nick Kristof learned in Guatemala. 

And this was a week in which President Trump kept coming uncomfortably close to his personal decision to avoid service in the military during the war of his era.  In my last word tonight at the end of this hour, I`ll review what the president said about not being a fan of the Vietnam War.  He doesn`t know that the soldiers in those graves that he saw at Normandy today were not fans of the war that they fought. 

It`s Donald Trump`s complete lack of comprehension of things like war that allow him to use words like that when talking about war.  I`ll have much more to say about that.  Donald Trump and Vietnam at the end of this hour. 

We begin tonight with the president who was in Normandy today to attend a ceremony marking it the 75th anniversary of D-Day.  President Trump read a speech on a teleprompter written by a team of speech writers that paid due respect to the 170 World War II veterans at the event and the thousands more who are buried near Normandy Beach. 

Then we heard what was really on the president`s minds in his own words when he used soldiers` graves as a backdrop to attack Robert Mueller and Nancy Pelosi. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST:  Do you mind if he testifies still?  Before you said you didn`t care. 

(CROSSTALK)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  He made such a fool out of himself the last time -- because what people don`t report is the letter he had to do to straighten out his testimony because his testimony was wrong. 

But Nancy Pelosi I call her nervous Nancy, Nancy Pelosi doesn`t talk about it.  Nancy Pelosi is a disaster, OK?  She`s a disaster.  And let her do what she wants.  You know what?  I think they`re in big trouble. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  War is a hell that defies explanation.  There`s no explain who lives and who dies in war. 

Robert Mueller was in the thick of it in Vietnam as a U.S. marine.  Robert Mueller is the kind of combat veteran who would have the full respect of everyone in those graves behind Donald Trump today. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was also at that event in Normandy today and when asked about Donald Trump, she refused to discuss him on foreign soil, she said.  And when she was asked about impeachment, she did the same thing. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA):  Well, again, with all due respect to your question, I`m not here to talk about impeachment.  But I do say that on the subject of our veterans, we always strive to work in a bipartisan way.  So, this is nothing, not a departure from what we said as a standard.  Wherever we can, we try to be as bipartisan, nonpartisan as possible.  That`s comfort to veterans. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  "New York Times" columnist Roger Cohen who has lived in France wrote this about the president today.  How small is he, small in spirit and valor, in dignity, in statecraft.  This American president who knows nothing about history and cares still less and now bestrides Europe with his family in tow like some tin pot dictator with a terrified entourage. 

To have Donald Trump, the bone spur evader of the Vietnam draft, the coddler of autocrats, the would-be destroyer of the European Union, the pay up now denigrator of NATO, the apologist for the white supremacists of Charlottesville commemorate the boys from Kansas City and St. Paul who gave their lives for freedom is to understand the word imposter.  You can`t make a sculpture from rotten wood. 

Here is some of what the president read from his teleprompter today. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  To all of our friends and partners, our cherished alliance was forged in the heat of battle.  Tested in the trials of war, and proven in the blessings of peace.  Our bond is unbreakable. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  President Trump has been trying to break those bonds in many ways including breaking up the European Union by encouraging Britain to leave the European Union, which was a cherished goal of the British prime minister who won World War II, Winston Churchill. 

In his memoir of World War II, Winston Churchill saw the war as a culmination of 1,000 years of war in Europe between France and Germany and thought that peace would depend not just on winning the war, but on establishing a new economic union in Europe that would eliminate the friction of international trade and other frictions that had repeatedly flared into war. 

Here is that passage from the audio book of Winston Churchill`s "The Gathering Storm."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIAN RODSKA, WINSTON CHURCHILLS WORDS ON WORLD WAR II:  To me, the aim of ending the thousand year strife between France and Germany seemed a supreme object.  If we could only weave Gaul and Teuton so closely together socially and morally as to prevent the occasion of new quarrels and make old antagonisms die in the realization of mutual prosperity and interdependence, Europe would rise again.  It seemed to me that the supreme interest of the British people in Europe lay in the assuagement of the Franco German feud and that they have no other interests comparable or contrary to that.  This is still my view today."

(END AUDIO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  That is what statesmanship sounds like.  That is how statesmen think. 

Queen Elizabeth gave Donald Trump a copy of that book by Winston Churchill this week.  It was either the ultimate act of optimism by the queen or a joke for a world in which we all know Donald Trump is incapable of reading books. 

With the president in Europe today, a federal judge in Washington overseeing Michael Flynn`s case ordered the release of some of the audio evidence in the obstruction of justice section of the Mueller report.  Here is the recording of a voice mail that Donald Trump`s lawyer John Dowd left for Michael Flynn`s attorney on the day that Michael Flynn withdrew from a joint defense agreement with the Trump team. 

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

JOHN DOWD, FORMER TRUMP LAWYER:  Hey, Rob, this is John again.  Maybe I`m sympathetic.  I understand your situation but let me see if I can`t state it in starker terms.  If you have -- it wouldn`t surprise me if you`ve gone on to make a deal with and work with the government.  If, on the other hand, we have -- there`s information that implicates the president, then we`ve got a national security issue.  We need some kind of heads up, just for the same of protecting all our interests if we can. 

Remember what we`ve always said about the president and his feelings toward Flynn and that still remains but -- well, in any event, let me know, and I appreciate your listening and taking the time.  Thanks, pal. 

(END AUDIO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  Joining us now, a congressman who is going to have to evaluate that as evidence, Congressman Jamie Raskin, a Democrat from Maryland.  He`s on the Judiciary Committee in the House and the Oversight Committee. 

Barbara McQuade is with us.  She`s a former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.  She`s also an MSNBC legal contributor.

And John Heilemann is the national affairs analyst for NBC News and MSNBC.  He`s co-host and executive producer of Showtime`s "The Circus."

Congressman Raskin, let me begin with you, and what you`re hearing on that audio from John Dowd, and this strikes me as the kind of evidence that you`re actually trying to obtain from the Justice Department when you`re asking for not just the unredacted Mueller report, but the underlying documentation for it. 

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD):  Yes, and we moved on the floor of the House today to get a federal district court in D.C. a citation order that we hoped they would send out so we could get all of the material, the unredacted report, the grand jury material and all of the underlying evidence. 

And you know, as you know, if you read the report seriously and you understand what obstruction of justice is, it`s all in there.  There`s overwhelming evidence based on what special counsel Mueller has written that the president committed obstruction of justice on 10 or 11 different episodes.  But what we --

O`DONNELL:  What about -- 

(CROSSTALK)

RASKIN:  -- audio evidence, the video evidence, whatever the documents are is the whole case coming to life.  Obviously, that`s important to make it comprehensible and digestible for people. 

O`DONNELL:  What about in that phone call?  Did you hear obstruction of justice there? 

RASKIN:  Well, John Dowd was a little circumspect.  But yes, I mean, look, the president has clearly engaged in far more overt instances of obstruction than that is when is he told the White House counsel to go ahead and fire the special counsel and to concoct a story about conflicts of interest. 

But the report is replete with instances of the president unleashing his emissaries to go and talk to people to coach their testimony, to encourage people to drop cases against this defendant or that defendant, and to interfere.  I mean, you have to rewind the clock to before Donald Trump days to think how extraordinary it is to have a president interfering in any criminal investigation at all to try to effect any witness or any testimony and then to zero in on an investigation in an ongoing prosecution aching him.  It`s just stupefying. 

O`DONNELL:  Barbara McQuade, as an experienced prosecutor, what do you hear in that telephone message? 

BARBARA MCQUADE, MSNBC LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR:  Well, I hear a couple of things that are concerning.  One is the request for a heads-up if Flynn is going to cooperate.  That is a request to continue to share information even if Michael Flynn is engaged in a cooperation agreement with the government, which would be in violation of that agreement. 

O`DONNELL:  Barbara, can I stop you there for the audience?  If people are engaged in a joint defense agreement and one of those people decides, OK, I`ve just made my decision.  I`m going to go cooperate with the prosecutors.  Can that person alert the other defendants that he was basically had joined forces with I`m leaving the group, I`m going to cooperate with the prosecutors? 

MCQUADE:  Yes, typically, they do say I`m leaving the group.  They don`t often say it`s because I`m cooperating with the prosecutors.  Most people understand that`s what that means. 

So, you know, the agreement is dictated by the terms of their agreement and it can say whatever they want it to say.  But typically when someone withdraws, the most common assumption is that that person is going to cooperate.  But to ask them to continue to provide information even after they have withdrawn would be improper. 

The other thing that he says in this call is that remember how the president feels about Michael Flynn, suggesting that you know, he`s situated to do him favors if he wants to.  And what`s most remarkable isn`t just this call but, you know, of course, it`s important not to look at it in isolation but the totality of the circumstances.  If you read Robert Mueller`s report, what he says was most important was the ensuing phone call where the call was returned.  Flynn`s attorney called the lawyer back and said, you know, we can`t provide this information anymore. 

John Dowd was indignant.  He expressed feelings that he thought that Michael Flynn was showing hostility toward President Trump and that they were going to tell president Trump on Michael Flynn which they took to be an effort to intimidate Michael Flynn from cooperating. 

O`DONNELL:  John Heilemann, this strikes me as one of the elements of what we would see if Congressman Raskin`s committee moves into an impeachment inquiry mode.  Audio tapes like this possibly witnesses like John Dowd being called.  He might claim an attorney/client privilege on some things, might not on others. 

JOHN HEILEMANN, MSNBC NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST:  There are a lot of arguments for proceeding with an impeachment inquiry and calling it an impeachment inquiry.  One of them is this, right? 

I`m not a lawyer and Barb and others may know about this than I do.  My impression having listened people talk about it, including the congressman and people who know a lot about this stuff, is that under the rubric of an impeachment inquiry, it would make it easier to accumulate the kind of evidence that would build the political case that Nancy Pelosi thinks is necessary if you wanted to impeach the president. 

And so, I think more of the strongest arguments beyond the institutional arguments, beyond the House doing its job, beyond the fact that every Democratic member of the House thinks the president is a criminal and obstructed justice, beyond all of that is the argument for doing this for going forward with an impeachment inquiry is that it would create the context in which the maximum amount of information, the maximum amount of oversight information relevant to oversight and to again, building the popular case for impeachment if there is one, this is the way to do it.  And this is just one small piece of evidence that indicates and there are 100,000, probably literally close to 100,000 pieces of evidence like this that the public deserves to see and that would be brought forward under those circumstances. 

O`DONNELL:  Congressman Raskin, in the last 24 hours, we`ve had a report indicating that your chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Jerry Nadler, is actually eager to move to the impeachment inquiry.  Nancy Pelosi is holding that back.  She`s blocking that according to some reports.  But Speaker Pelosi is also quoted in a meeting as saying she wants to see Donald Trump go to prison. 

How do you line up all of that and how does that tension play out in the deliberations of your committee?  Are you one of the members that have committee who is pushing the committee to go to an impeachment inquiry now? 

RASKIN:  Yes, yes.  I`ve been for it.  We`ve been presented with overwhelming evidence of high crimes and misdemeanors which we shouldn`t ignore and we also know that since the Mueller report was released, albeit in its redacted form, the administration has been on a full-blown wholesale campaign to shut down production of evidence, witnesses, documents, and to refuse compliance with the lawful subpoenas that Congress has ordered. 

So, they`re in a total shutdown defiance mode towards Congress which in itself is an impeachable offense.  That was article 3 in the Nixon impeachment, contempt of Congress, and here we`re seeing far more sweeping and unprecedented attack on our Article I fact-finding powers. 

So, you know, the key thing to understand is that --

O`DONNELL:  Do you expect Nancy Pelosi to come to your view of this? 

RASKIN:  I`m sorry -- 

O`DONNELL:  Do you expect Nancy Pelosi to join eventually with your view of this and move to an impeachment inquiry? 

RASKIN:  I think all of us are moving together.  We`re right now very unified that we need to counter and stop the lawlessness and obstructionism of the administration.  And I do think events are moving quickly and the dynamics are such it`s going to be clear what it is that we`ve got to do. 

The key thing to understand about the discussion about impeachment or prison is that impeachment is not a criminal process.  The end of it is not putting president in jail.  We don`t use a beyond a reasonable doubt standard of proof in going to the other guests` statements. 

We`re not trying to prove the violation of a criminal statute.  We`re looking at whether this conduct conforms to what we expect of the president of the United States, or whether he`s committing high crimes and misdemeanors against the office.  That`s what it`s about.  It`s protecting the office of the presidency and the Constitution and the rule of law against a president who is trampling the rule of law and acting like a king. 

O`DONNELL:  John Heilemann, before we go to break, I want to get you on the politics of the week from Donald Trump you know, you be loading attacks on Twitter as Air Force One is landing in London on the London mayor, to not being a fan of the Vietnam War, to what we saw in Normandy today, including his interview today. 

HEILEMANN:  A little bit of potpourri.  I pick your poison here. 

You know, I think one of the things you see with the president often as you saw today sitting in front of those grave stones, a horrific piece of behavior. 

If Laura Ingraham was a real journalist, she would say really?  Mr. President, do you recognize our backdrop is here?  To launch partisan attacks as we sit in front of the graves of the fallen, totally wildly inappropriate.  Of course, she does not ask that questions because she wants Donald Trump to attack Nancy Pelosi or Robert Mueller. 

The thing from Nancy Pelosi`s point of view, and I was glad you played the video, is that Trump so -- makes it so easy for his opponents, for his rivals to claim the moral and political high ground.  You know, it takes no effort for Nancy Pelosi to do what she did today or whether it gains her in the grand scheme of things or did her gain much, I don`t know. 

But I do think that for people, for the millions of veterans who serve in active duty, who look at the behavior of one of them being respectful, the other being totally disrespectful and totally political, I can`t help but feel that they look at that and get the point that the contrast makes the point how bad his behavior is. 

O`DONNELL:  Well, he`s a guy who has clearly never been in a military cemetery till this new job he has forced him to do it. 

Congressman Jamie Raskin, thank you very much for joining us tonight. 

Barbara McQuade, thank you.  John Heilemann, thank you for joining us and starting us off tonight.  We appreciate it. 

And when we come back from this break, Senator Chris Van Hollen had sent a letter demanding that the Federal Reserve investigate Deutsche Bank`s handling of suspicious activity in Donald Trump`s and Jared Kushner`s accounts there.  Senator Van Hollen has gotten other senators to sign on to be this letter, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Van Hollen joins us next. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL:  Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen joined by six other Democratic senators, including presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, have written to the chairman of the Federal Reserve and the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, requesting that top officials examine whether Deutsche Bank complied with anti-money laundering and other laws after Deutsche Bank employees flagged transactions tied to President Trump as potentially suspicious. 

The letter was sent in response to a "New York Times" article that said specialists at Deutsche Bank had recommended that transactions by legal entities controlled by President Trump and Jared Kushner be reported to the federal financial crime regulator, managers at the bank did not then report those transactions. 

The senators write, quote: Only by conducting a thorough review of the full range of this activity can we better understand what happened in these cases, what practices, procedures or personnel may need to be changed at the bank and what regulators should do to ensure the Federal Reserve`s ability effectively to monitor compliance with anti-money laundering laws. 

The letter also asked the federal officials for information about their interactions with Deutsche Bank, including whether they have investigated the issues that several former bank employees publicly raised in that "New York Times" article. 

Joining us now is the author of that letter, Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen of Maryland.  He`s a member of the Senate Budget Committee. 

Senator, thank you very much for joining us tonight. 

So this letter strikes me as a follow-up, natural follow-up to that "New York Times" reporting.  And what exactly are you asking of the Federal Reserve in this letter? 

SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-MD):  Well, that`s right, Lawrence.  It is a follow-up.  And what we`re asking is the Federal Reserve do its job.  They are the bank regulator for big banks like Deutsche Bank.  Deutsche Bank already has a dismal track record when it comes to anti-money laundering activity.  They`ve been penalized many times and now we have a report from the specialists at Deutsche Bank who track anti-money laundering activities. 

They were filing -- preparing a suspicious activity report about these Trump-related entities and they were overturned by higher-ups.  And by the way, not higher-ups in the chain of command -- higher-ups outside the chain of command in the private banking section of Deutsche Bank, the folks who deal with people like Donald Trump.

And so, the Federal Reserve really has as obligation to open an investigation into this matter and hold Deutsche Bank accountable. 

O`DONNELL:  I just want to read some of the questions that you`re asking the Federal Reserve on this in your letter, you say has anyone from the White House or the Department of the Treasury communicated with the Fed board or the New York Fed regarding Deutsche Bank, including instructions related to the release of documents to Congress or to law enforcement.  If so, please describe any such contacts. 

What is the likelihood of you being able to get real answers from the Fed on this? 

VAN HOLLEN:  Well, look, the Banking Committee oversees the Fed.  They`re in front of the committee often.  I`m joined on there letter by the senior Democrat, Sherrod Brown, as well as others. 

We`re going to be pushing this very hard and at every opportunity, Lawrence.  I wrote a letter backing in 2017, right at the beginning of this administration asking the Federal Reserve for assurances that it would continue to act independently and do its job specifically with respect to oversight of Deutsche Bank.  I also asked now Chairman Powell the same quell during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Banking Committee.  Would he uphold the independence of the Fed and make sure they monitored Deutsche Bank. 

In both cases, the Federal Reserve assured me they would do their job.  This is a test, this is a real test whether they will do their job and regulate Deutsche Bank which is part of their mandate and their responsibility. 

O`DONNELL:  Well, based on what you`ve just said it, sounds like what they promised you is basically what you`re asking for here.  Another of your questions are, did any of the activity involved entities located overseas did any implicate companies involving prominent Russians as the whistleblowers in the "New York Times" allege? 

So, you have every reason to believe that you will eventually get those answers? 

VAN HOLLEN:  Well, that`s right.  I mean, look, this whistleblower provided a lot of information and a lot of evidence.  So, it would be grossly negligent for the Federal Reserve as the regulator of Deutsche Bank to doing nothing in the face of all this evidence. 

So, at the very least, they have to launch an investigation and ask the questions that we`ve asked them to present.  And get back to us with that information.  I should say, I`ve also asked FinCEN, which is the unit at Treasury Department that oversees federal financial crimes to investigating this.  We had a witness in front of the banking committee within the last couple weeks, and we insisted that they move forward. 

Now, he declined to answer questions publicly about what they`re going to do, but we are going to continue to pursue this because this is part of their job.  And this is part of their job for looking after the public and there will be a test case, Lawrence, of whether or not the Fed is really independent or not. 

And you know, have you Donald Trump taking all these potshots at them.  Their job is to focus on their mandate and this will be you know, this will be the test for whether or not they do what they`re supposed to do. 

O`DONNELL:  Well, they have passed that test many times in the past before the Trump presidency.  So, we`ll find out this time. 

Senator Chris Van Hollen, thank you for joining us with this important news.  Really appreciate it. 

VAN HOLLEN:  Good to be with you. 

O`DONNELL:  Thank you.

VAN HOLLEN:  And when we come back, Nick Kristof turned his "New York Times" column over today to people in Guatemala who are leaving to tell -- and telling their stories about why they are leaving.  When you hear those stories, listen to anything that sounds like the reason your relatives came from their countries to try to find the hope of a better life in this country. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR:  Food doesn`t grow here anymore.  That`s why they come.  And they`re not the first, they`re not the first people trying to get to the United States of America because food doesn`t grow here anymore.

The Irish famine of the 19th century began the wave of millions of Irish citizens leaving their country headed for the United States because food didn`t grow there anymore.  There were people like Donald Trump in the United States then who didn`t want the Irish to come, people who wanted them to stay in Ireland and starve to death as over a million of them did.

The British government which controlled all of Ireland then made the famine much worse by some of the actions the government took and did not take.  And now the United States is making the situation worse for people in Guatemala where so many want to leave because food doesn`t grow here anymore.

The Trump administration was wants to cut back on the kind of international aid programs that could help farmers who are struggling against drought and climate change in Guatemala.  The Trump administration is making a bad situation worse and then complaining about what happens when the situation gets worse, complaining about people who come to the United States because food doesn`t grow here anymore.

In today`s New York Times, Nicholas Kristof has delivered invaluable reporting on why people leave Guatemala to try to come to the United States under the headline "Food Doesn`t Grow Here Anymore.  That`s why I would send my son north."

The woman who said that has lost two of her sons, aged 7 and 14, to malnutrition.  It`s her other son, Juan, who is now 11 who she would send north to Mexico and then possibly the United States for his survival.  She had to take Juan out of school in second grade to go to work in the fields.

That`s just one of the families Nick Kristof met when he went to Guatemala to listen to people`s reasons for going north.  One 19-year-old woman told Nick Kristof, the weather has changed clearly.  Her husband went north to find work in Mexico and then she noted that drought unprecedented winds have destroyed successive corn crops leaving the family destitute adding, "And because I have no money, my children died."

Both her children, Isamara and Vidalia, died as infants in the last couple of years, Vidalia just six months ago.  A principal of a middle school told Nick Kristof, the great majority of these kids will migrate.  There is not enough rain so their only option is to migrate.

There`s one success story in his reporting.  Rosa Mendoza Raymundo told Nick Kristof, "My husband is in the US because there is nothing here.  It`s a sadness that our community has no water.  That`s why people are leaving.  She said her husband Pascual also took their daughter Susanna, 17, because the trafficker offered a 30 percent discount if he brought a minor to take advantage of the American practice of releasing a parent with a child.

Now, Pascual is cleaning houses in Kansas City, Missouri and Susanna is attending school there.  She had dropped out in the third grade in the village.  That is what success sounds like in that village.  Getting a job in Kansas City, that no American wants to do and living in a place where your daughter can go to school.

Nick Kristof reports luckier households build new homes or buy motorcycles because of money sent back by a relative working in the US.  Some of these new homes have US flags painted on them.

So what would you do?  What would you do if food doesn`t grow here anymore?  I know what I`d do because my people did it, they came to the United States.  They did whatever it took to get out of Ireland and come to the United States.

After this break, we will be joined by Nick Kristof with more of what he learned in Guatemala about why they come.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL:  Nick Kristof did what Nick Kristof does, with so much talk in our politics about people trying to cross our southern border, Nick Kristof went to Guatemala and asked people why they come.  He delivered a an simple and chillingly powerful report in his column in the New York Times today in which he used none of the space for his opinion and all of it for the words of the people he met in Guatemala.  He let those people tell a story which is theirs to tell.

The last line of Nick Kristof`s report goes to a 42-year-old man in Guatemala who tightly summarizes what everyone else in the article has to say.  "There`s no rain and no way to grow crops.  One can`t live here."  Joining us now is Pulitzer Prize winning Columnist for the New York Times Nicholas Kristof.

Nick, thank you so much for being with us tonight.  As I read in this morning, the first thing I wanted to do was get you here tonight.  So you get down there with that very simple question of why are you leaving and according to your report, you saw the answer everywhere you looked and with everyone you talked to. 

NICHOLAS KRISTOF, COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORK TIMES:  That`s right.  I mean, clearly the answers are very different in some degree depending on where in Central America you go.  But in the western highlands where I was, climate change was a huge driver of migration.

And, you know, look, people are aiming for a better life but it`s also that they don`t really have any alternative when their corn crops are withering in the field, when they have nothing to feed their kids, when -- you mentioned one woman I talked to, 19 years old, she has had two kids and she has lost them both.  What do we tell her?

You know, and there`s just this desperation in some of these villages, 70 percent of the kids are stunted from malnutrition.  And that means they`re stunted physically but they`re also being stunted mentally.  If you love your children, you want to try to provide some alternative for them.  And in some cases they take them elsewhere in Guatemala and in other cases they take them to Mexico.  And in some cases they try to take them to America.

And they know it`s risky.  You know, we -- in one village, I went to six people had died recently trying to reach the United States.

O`DONNELL:  And that word comes back to them, they know, the feedback is there. 

KRISTOF:  They absolutely know.  So I think what President Trump maybe doesn`t realize is that,  yes, he can put up a few more obstacles and make life more brutal for these people but this is in the context of them taking enormous risks already knowing that they may die in the desert, that women may be trafficked into brothels. 

O`DONNELL:  So this is one of the motivation answers for what we`re seeing when we see these photographs of a parent and child trying to get across this border, and there are plenty of people, Trump supporters who watch that and think they`re watching irresponsible parenting, how could this parent put this child in this kind of danger.  This tells the story of the danger they left.

KRISTOF:  Look, there are so many loving parents who precisely because they love their children, they`re trying desperately to get them to the US.  In the western highlands, it`s climate change.  In Honduras, it`s gangs.  If a gang comes after your 12-year-old daughter and the gang leader says he wants her to be his girlfriend, if you love your child, you will get her out of there to safety.  And I`ve seen that over and over.

And, you know, there are things we can do to mitigate the situation.  I don`t believe in completely open boarders and letting everybody through.  But one thing that would work is try to improve governance in some of these countries.  We actually did made some real progress in El Salvador and over two years, the number of people detained here dropped by half.

Guatemala on the other hand is going in a downward spiral, and we`re doing nothing to try to address that.  We can also try to provide in these areas effected by climate change, our climate change, our carbon emissions, of course.  You know, we can try to provide drought resistant seeds, aid programs and they really do make a difference.  Instead we are cutting off that aid.  And, you know, it`s such a sad combination of policies that are both heartless and ineffective and counterproductive.

O`DONNELL:  Nick, if I were a Pulitzer Prize voter, I`d be voting for this column today. 

KRISTOF:  Thank you.  Good to see you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL:  I really appreciate it, thank you.  And when we come back, a Trump family lesson about military service.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL:  Donald Trump`s vocabulary is and always has been the size of his mind, which is to say very, very small.  It takes a small man to be produce the kind of angry and hateful tweets that Donald Trump does at all hours of the day and night including from Air Force One using government paid for telecommunications.  And that small man is always limited to that very, very small vocabulary of his.

And that`s why he said yesterday in London that he was never a fan of the Vietnam War.  That`s the way his tiny vocabulary expresses his likes and dislikes.  He`s either a fan or not a fan.  He actually has no idea that wars do not have fans.  He has no idea that war is hell.  And that though some people might be proud of their military service during war, they are not fans of the war they had to fight.

Donald Trump said more where the Vietnam War and why can he avoided service in the Vietnam War yesterday.  And I`ll have more to say about what Donald Trump said, much more right after there break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL:  Yesterday in London, the only person in the world who seems to believe that Donald Trump did not serve in the military because of a bone spur asked him if he would have liked to serve in the military if it weren`t for that pesky bone spur.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PIERS MORGAN, GOOD MORNING BRITAIN HOST:  You were not able to serve in Vietnam because of a bone spur condition in your femur.  Do you wish you had been able to serve?  Would you have liked to have served your country? 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES:  Well, I was never a fan of that war.  I`ll be honest with you, I thought it was a terrible war.  I thought it was very far away.  Nobody ever, you know, you`re talking about Vietnam, and at that time nobody ever heard of the country.  Today, they`re doing very well.  And in fact, on trade they are brutal.  They`re very brutal.

They`re great negotiators.  They`re great business people.  But nobody heard of Vietnam.  They`re saying what are we doing?  So many people dying, what is happening over there?  So I was never a fan.  This isn`t like I`m fighting against Nazi Germany.  I`m fighting it -- we`re fighting against Hitler.  And I was like a lot of people.

Now, I wasn`t out in the streets marching.  I wasn`t saying, you know, I`m going to move to Canada, which a lot of people did, but, no, I was not a fan of that war.  That war was not something --

MORGAN:  Would you liked to have served generally?  That`s in --

TRUMP:  I would not have minded at all.  I would have been honored.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  I would have been honored.  That would have made Donald Trump the very first person named Trump honored by military service because that is something Trumps just do not do.

Donald Trump`s grandfather, Frederick, did not do his mandatory military service when he was living in Bavaria.  When he tried to Bavaria after he obtained American citizenship, he was ordered to leave the kingdom of Bavaria in 1945 or be deported.  And unfortunately for history, he returned to the United States.

Donald Trump`s father was 36 years old when World War II started in the United States, the United States participation started.  All men up to age 45 had to register for the draft during World War II in this country.  Plenty of men of Donald Trump`s father`s age and Donald Trump`s father`s situation served in World War II.  But no one in Donald Trump`s family did that.  That`s just not what they do.

When Donald Trump was asked about this yesterday, he knew no sane person could believe his bone spurs story and so he simply stressed that he wasn`t a fan of the war because we weren`t fighting Hitler and Nazi Germany, an enemy that Donald Trump`s father chose not to fight.  And remember, that Donald Trump`s father was actually arrested at a Ku Klux Klan rally in New York City years before that.  So we don`t really know just how sympathetic to Hitler Donald Trump`s father might have been.

It`s hard to find an American Donald Trump`s age who is not related to anyone who fought on the American side in World War II.  His other complaint about Vietnam is that it is very far away, which would rule out Donald Trump`s participation in every war the United States has fought except maybe the civil war.

But in those days, Virginia was considered very far away from New York City.  Donald trump says nobody ever heard of Vietnam, by which he means he had never heard of Vietnam, but that`s not true.

Donald Trump got medical deferments to avoid military service from 1964 to 1972.  During that time, two presidential campaigns, 1968 and 1972, were run with the Vietnam War as the number one issue in the presidential campaign.  Bobby Kennedy got into the 1968 presidential campaign as an anti-Vietnam war candidate.

Donald trump knew that.  Bobby Kennedy died from an assassin`s bullet on this day, 51 years ago, after he won the California Primary.  Even Donald Trump couldn`t have missed that news 16 days after he graduated from college in 1968.

Donald Trump knew all about Vietnam and he knew he didn`t want to die there.  And like millions of other young men in those years, he tried to find a way out.  He found the rich kid way out.  His father had a doctor who was a tenant in one of his buildings and the doctor wrote a note to the draft board about Donald Trump`s bone spur.  Donald Trump seems very proud that he did not protest the war, but that is what is so wrong about Donald Trump`s history.

He says he was never a fan of the war but he wasn`t going to say that out loud.  He says I wasn`t out in the streets marching, and that`s the problem.  Donald Trump`s moral failure was that he was not out in the streets marching.  The Vietnam War presented a moral challenge to America and a challenge to our definition of the responsibilities of citizenship.

John Kerry met that challenge by volunteering for the navy and after he graduated from Yale, he then served in combat in Vietnam, and when he left the navy, he continued to do what he was trying to do in Vietnam, save lives.  And the way to save lives when John Kerry returned from Vietnam was to try to stop the war.  To do what Donald Trump is so proud he did not do.

John Kerry did go out into the streets marching.  John Kerry did testify to the United States senate against the Vietnam War.  John Kerry joined the millions and millions, and millions of war protesters in the United States who kept marching and kept protesting, and kept changing minds every day in America, including in Congress, and eventually turned this country against what was an immoral and unwinnable war for the United States in Vietnam.

The war ended when it did, in 1975, because the peace movement, which Donald Trump had no part of, forced that war to end when it did.  The peace movement saved lives, saved American military lives by ending that war when it did.

And so the real answer to what Donald Trump did during the Vietnam War is nothing.  He chose none of the morally justifiable options that he was confronted with because he didn`t even know what they were.  He is proud that he did not serve in the war because he wasn`t a fan of the war, and he was proud that he wasn`t out in the streets marching.

When Donald Trump`s father got him that doctor`s note that got him out of the draft, the minimal morally responsible thing to do was to take to the streets marching to try to stop that war, to try to save the life of the boy who was going to be drafted instead of Donald Trump and Donald Trump did not do that.  Donald Trump did nothing.  Because in war that`s what Trumps always do.

That`s tonight`s "Last Word," "The 11th Hour" with Brian Williams starts now.

 

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