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Trump averts his self-made tariff crisis. TRANSCRIPT: 6/10/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell.

Guests: Zoe Lofgren, Tim O`Brien

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

And thank you for covering that story because I tried to figure out how to squeeze it into this hour tonight and I couldn`t. 

One point I want to make is among the people who don`t like that story are Republican senators, because they know where the money comes from.  It comes from their projects.  They also have projects that are in that application pipeline and they don`t have an individual there whose job it is to cover their state in the transportation. 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  To make sure that one state`s projects are not only stove-piped at the department so that they go right to the stop, they go right to the chief of staff of the department but also to make sure those patrons specifically are serving the political needs of one particular politician in that state who happens to be married to the cabinet secretary. 

I mean, this is the sort of thing you would find out was happening in some banana republic around the world and you would be like yes, that`s why they can`t get state department funded blah, blah, blah.  They`re too corrupt. 

But in this case, it`s Mitch McConnell`s family.

O`DONNELL:  You know, it is the department that operates most like the old earmark system.


O`DONNELL:  And the old earmark system was actually for the same kind of thing.  It was for the same kinds you have building projects and renovation projects. 

So, this is Mitch McConnell basically the earmark system ended for everyone apparently except Mitch McConnell. 

MADDOW:  You know, they could make it fair.  They could give every senator a spouse in the cabinet.  Yes, that would work. 

O`DONNELL:  Yes, bigger cabinet, much bigger cabinet.  Thank you, Rachel. 

MADDOW:  Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL:  Well, in Congress, every vote is a story -- some more dramatic than others, and few are more dramatic than the votes by seven Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee in favor of impeaching the Republican president in 1974.  We`re going to bring you one of those stories tonight in the congressman`s own words.  A conservative Southern Republican whose mother told him that his political career would be over if he voted to impeach Richard Nixon, but he believed that Republicans had an extra obligation to hold a Republican president accountable. 

That congressman would not recognize his Republican Party in Congress today.  We`re going to show you the video of that congressman at the end of this hour because we have so much of the news of the day to cover before that.  And you will see that congressman fighting back tears when he was describing what it was like to cast that vote against the Republican president ten years after he cast that vote to impeach Richard Nixon.  That moment still brought him to tears when he thought about it. 

And you`ll want to hear what principled Republicans sounded like back then when the Judiciary Committee was considering the impeachment of Richard Nixon and it is a very important historical reference point today because that is not what we heard in the House Judiciary Committee today.

Once again, evidence was presented against a Republican president today in the House Judiciary Committee but Republicans on the committee showed no indication that they took the matter seriously. 

While House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler is still in negotiations with Robert Mueller to testify about the Mueller report and while Chairman Nadler is still in negotiations to release more of the underlying material to the committee, Chairman Nadler began convening today what the committee expects to be a series of hearings about the Mueller report beginning with witnesses who were not involved in the Mueller report but offered their professional assessments of it. 

The first witness was former Nixon White House counsel John Dean who testified against President Nixon during the congressional investigation of the president and ultimately pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice in the investigation of President Nixon.  And John Dean then fully cooperated with Congress and the special counsel investigating President Nixon.

And John Dean said that the Mueller report is today`s version of the evidence against Richard Nixon that the special prosecutor delivered to the Judiciary Committee in 1974. 


JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL:  In many ways, the Mueller report is to President Trump what the so-called Watergate road map officially titled "The grand jury report and recommendation concerning transmission of evidence to the House of Representatives" was to President Richard Nixon.  Stated a little differently, special counsel Mueller has provided this committee with a road map. 


O`DONNELL:  John Dean took particular interest in the value of former Trump White House counsel Don McGahn`s testimony because Don McGahn held the same position in the White House that John Dean held in the Nixon White House. 


DEAN:  Because of my testimony, the model code of the ABA today makes very clear in rule 1.13 that Mr. McGahn represents not Donald Trump but the office of the president.  His client is the office of the president.  And I think he owes that office his testimony before this committee. 


O`DONNELL:  The ranking Republican member of the House Judiciary Committee made light of John Dean`s testimony. 


REP. DOUG COLLINS (R-GA):  This committee is now hearing from the `70s and they want their star witness back. 


O`DONNELL:  And it went downhill from there with the Republicans on the committee, none of whom made any serious points during the hearing.  We would show you if they did, but there is simply nothing to show you from that side of the committee. 

President Trump`s reaction to John Dean`s testimony was predictable. 


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Look, John Dean`s been a loser for many years. 


O`DONNELL:  Former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance who join us in a moment offered the committee her assessment of the Mueller report. 


JOYCE VANCE, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR:  The facts contained in that report would be sufficient to prove all of the elements necessary to charge multiple counts of obstruction of justice.  The evidence is not equivocal nor is the charging decision a close call.  And I would be willing to personally indict the case and to try the case.  I would have confidence that the evidence would be sufficient to obtain a guilty verdict and to win on appeal. 


O`DONNELL:  The House Judiciary Committee announced today that the Justice Department has finally agreed to provide Congress with "key evidence", that`s what they`re calling it, key evidence collected by special prosecutor Robert Mueller that committee members said could head shed light on possible obstruction of justice and abuse of power by President Trump.  The exact scope of the material the Justice Department has agreed to provide has not been made public. 

"The New York Times" reports the house still plans to vote on Tuesday to authorize the committee to go to a federal court against Attorney General Barr to seek full enforcement of its subpoena and to petition a judge to unseal grand jury secrets related to the case for congress. 

But in a sign of newfound cooperation, the House will not formally vote to hold Mr. Barr in contempt of Congress leveling a criminal accusation against him at least for now. 

And in a new poll from "The Des Moines Register" of Iowans who plan to caucus for Democrats, 48 percent say that Congress should continue to investigate the president, but should not launch impeachment proceedings.  Forty-two percent say that Congress should launch impeachment proceedings against the president. 

Leading off our discussion tonight is one of the former federal prosecutors who testified before the House Judiciary Committee today, Joyce Vance.  She is an MSNBC legal contributor and testified on her own behalf as a legal expert today. 

Also joining us, Jill Wine-Banks, former assistant Watergate special prosecutor and MSNBC legal analyst. 

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

And, Joyce, if you asked me a month ago, who do I think is going to testify about the Mueller report, I would have said Robert Mueller.  It turns out it`s Joyce Vance.  So, you got the surprising call to give your assessment. 

What was it like in general in that committee room and was it fair for me to say at least I didn`t hear any serious point made by the Republican side of the committee today?  Correct me if I`m wrong.  I didn`t hear every word.  So, maybe I missed something. 

VANCE:  You know, I think it`s fair, Lawrence, and it was a little bit disappointing.  I had hoped we would have the opportunity to engage with legislators from both parties to discuss the evidence and to talk through how prosecutors analyze evidence, and how they make an assessment about whether or not charges should be brought.  But that wasn`t the inquiry that Republicans were there for today. 

O`DONNELL:  And, Joyce, what do you think the value of today`s hearing was? 

VANCE:  I hope it was helpful for some of the legislators.  I hope that the people that were watching us on C-Span got the opportunity to hear a little bit about how prosecutors operate in the real world because we understand - - you know, one of the things that prosecutors` offices don`t necessarily do a good job of is taking to the public how we work.  So often, the evidence that prosecutors use has to remain secret while these decisions are being made. 

This is an opportunity we have this body of evidence, and now former prosecutors like myself can talk with the public about how you use the law, the elements prosecutors have to prove to assess the evidence and decide whether you have a prosecutable case or not. 

O`DONNELL:  Jill Wine-Banks, this should have been odd for you to watch having worked on the Watergate case where in fact, Republicans did cooperate in the House Judiciary Committee.  A total of seven Republicans ultimately voted for at least one article of impeachment against President Nixon. 

JILL WINE-BANKS, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  Yes.  It shows how different the world is now that there is absolutely no interest in the Republicans in even listening.  They did not ask any serious questions. 

They did not challenge any substantive thing that Joyce Vance or Barbara McQuade or John Dean said.  Rather, they attacked them.  One even said wasn`t that quaint which I found particularly offensive, in talking about a particular statement that was made about whether or not the laws were being faithfully executed. 

And I think that we need to get to a point where we may need to pass a law that says these hearings have to be broadcast on Fox News because I think Joyce correctly said she hopes she persuaded some legislators but I don`t think that people who listen to Fox News heard what was said today.  And that`s who we have to have hear this. 

The people need to hear or else you have the woman at the Amash town hall who says I had no idea that there was anything negative in the Mueller report, because I listen to conservative news.  And that`s the problem is we need to have -- it`s sort of a chicken and egg.  You need to have support to go ahead with impeachment but you need to have impeachment to get the support. 

And I think in Watergate, we had Senate hearings that preceded the Judiciary Committee hearings.  And, of course, we had fact witnesses, which is also very important. 

So I think that we need McGahn, I think John Dean did an excellent job and was very persuasive in showing the similarities between what he did and what is going on in this White House.  And that he was punished for that and that they should be, too.  But it would be much better to hear McGahn himself. 

O`DONNELL:  Let`s listen to the comparison between President Nixon and President Trump that was raised by Congressman Eric Swalwell`s question to John Dean. 


REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Comparing Nixon to just any future administration, would you say there was a future administration that committed more crimes than the Nixon administration as far as obstruction? 

DEAN:  I would say the Trump administration is in fast competition with what happened to the Nixon administration. 


O`DONNELL:  Fast competition, John Heilemann. 

JOHN HEILEMANN, MSNBC NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST:  Fast competition indeed.  You know, you note the kind of hearings today we basically had a hearing that was sort of two hearings which is a perfect metaphor for the two measures we live in, one America tethered to reality and another America tethered to the Republican talking points that seek to knock down reality at every opportunity. 

The president tweeting and attacking John Dean, just as Republicans did all day long today.  He called him at one point a sleaze bag attorney.  Now, look, John Dean was part of a criminal enterprise at one point in the White House but then what he is remembered for mostly is he told the truth in the president`s view that, makes him a sleaze bag attorney. 

That was the talking point the Republicans prosecuted all day long.  Jill just said this was a good table setting for setting out the issues and teeing up what now has to happen which is we must hear from, not from the learned scholars and brilliant people like Joyce and others but must hear from Don McGahn.  We must hear from the actual witnesses to the crimes in question. 

O`DONNELL:  Jill, to the point of John Dean`s truth telling during the investigation, my understanding of the history of this is John Dean`s veracity was tested and it was tested by you and the special prosecutor`s office in more than one way.  And he proved to your satisfaction to be telling the truth. 

WINE-BANKS:  There`s no question.  Let me just say during Watergate, John Dean was the equivalent of a computer because he was our source of knowledge in the days before computers.  And my relationship with him was if I needed to fact, I would ask him. 

Since then, he and I have been on a panel together and have become we`ve become friends.  And I respect him enormously.  I did then, too. 

He testified before the Senate based on his memory alone.  He did not know there were tapes.  That was something he found out at the same time we did, which was long after his testimony. 

And it proved that everything he said in that testimony was fundamentally 100 percent accurate.  He was so consistent in having the dates right and the substance conversations were exactly right.  When he said on March 21st, I said there was a cancer on the presidency and president said, well, I know where I can get a million dollars, it all was there.  All you had to do was listen to the tapes. 

But I believed him before that.  He was an incredible memory.  He had very good accuracy.  And I think that some other witnesses like McGahn could be the same and they owe it to the public to do their job and come forward. 

O`DONNELL:  And, Joyce, on the Democratic side of the committee, the reality side of the hearing, what do you think had I were the most important points in terms of the members` interest on the Democratic side today? 

VANCE:  The Democrats seemed to be trying to get a sense of we have these ten episodes of obstruction that Mueller considers in the report.  They were pushing for details on which of those incidents were the most significant. 

And it seemed like the consensus on the panel and as the Congress people talked among themselves was that this episode war where Don McGahn, who has been previously directed by the president to fire Bob Mueller, then has that story come to light about six months later in the press, and he`s directed by the president to essentially create a document, to create false evidence that says that the president never asked him to fire Bob Mueller.  That seems to be the most compelling piece of evidence that the legislators focused on. 

O`DONNELL:  John Heilemann, obstruction of justice, those are the two parallels between the Trump and the Nixon investigations. 

HEILEMANN:  Yes.  I mean, look, and I think in the end, you know, there`s still is I think enormous ground that is people don`t focus on in the Mueller report related to the first part of it related to Russia, but, you know, that is the parallel.  It is the parallel and it is -- there are now millions of Republicans and dozens of elected Republicans who wish to pretend that obstruction of justice is somehow not a crime or is a lesser crime, or is in some way the purview of the president and his executive power, the president does, as Nixon famously said, it must be legal and, of course, that is false. 

It is the most powerful parallel, always the most powerful parallel we`ve seen so many instances in which the president acts with apparent corrupt intent.  And the example that Joyce gave a second ago I find the most compelling.  There`s not a lawyer in the country left right or center presented with that strip Trump away from it and ask the request whether that is not obstruction of justice.  In any case, there`s not a lawyer who won`t go.  That`s obstruction of justice dead to rights. 

O`DONNELL:  A quick word about the politics before we go to break.  Your reading of that Iowa poll with 4 percent saying continue to investigate but don`t go to impeachment and 44 percent coming up right behind that saying go ahead, go to impeachment, 42 percent. 

HEILEMANN:  My reading that have poll is that investigate -- obviously there are those, there are many people in the Democratic Party who think that Trump needs to be impeached.  But the 48 percent is not a "we will never be open to impeachment".


HEILEMANN:  The 48 percent is, investigate away.  As of now, we`re not open to impeachment but let`s see what happens.  This is the biggest mistake people are making about the politics of this over and over again, which is the fallacy of static analysis. 

As new facts arise, public opinion is malleable.  That doesn`t mean there will be a giant shift towards impeachment but it doesn`t mean there won`t be depending what facts are put on the table.  Again, that gets back to why we need fact witnesses to testify to these crimes. 

O`DONNELL:  The fallacy of static analysis, I`m writing that down here.  I will be stealing that.  Viewers will be hearing that on this program in the future. 

Jill Wine-Banks, Joyce Vance, and John Heilemann, thank you all for starting an us off tonight.  Really appreciate that. 

And when we come back, no one on the House Judiciary Committee knows more about impeachment than our next guest.  Zoe Lofgren served on the committee when Bill Clinton was impeached, as did many other members of the committee.  But she is the only member of the committee who was there when the committee voted to impeach President Richard Nixon in 1974. 

Back then, Congresswoman Lofgren was a staffer on the House Judiciary Committee during the Nixon impeachment proceedings.  And she will join us next. 


O`DONNELL:  House Democrats scored a big win in their struggle to obtain more documents, underlying documents of the Mueller report.  Today, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler announced that the Justice Department has agreed to turn over more documents to the House Judiciary Committee.  The exact scope of that material is not known. 

But in a statement, Chairman Nadler described them as, quote: Mueller`s most important files providing with us key evidence that the special counsel used to assess whether the president and others obstructed justice or were engaged in other misconduct.

As negotiations continue for the release of more of the Mueller report, Chairman Nadler has agreed to at least for now set aside the criminal contempt vote against Attorney General William Barr.  But House Democrats are still moving forward with a vote tomorrow that would empower the Judiciary Committee to go to court to enforce its subpoenas for Attorney General Barr and former White House counsel Don McGahn, both of whom have refused to testify. 

Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren served on the committee during Clinton`s impeachment and she was a young staffer on the House Judiciary Committee during the Nixon impeachment proceedings, she is the only Democrat on that committee with more seniority is Chairman Nadler. 

Zoe Lofgren, it`s an honor to have you with us tonight.  And I was -- I have to say, I guess somewhere in the back of my head was that you were a staffer during Watergate, but I thought, no, it`s impossible she`s too young.  I`m going to believe your resume.  I`m going to accept that.

Tell us what you felt today in this historic moment?  Here have you John Dean.  Once again, you were there when he was testifying to Congress.  Here he is again testifying about the possible impeachment, certainly about the investigation of a president. 

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA):  Well, it was incredible.  He said the last time he had testified before the judiciary committee was July of 1974.  And I was working for Don Edwards, a member of the committee at that time.  And I remember I was there, as well. 

It`s good to remember how that proceeded in a way that was orderly, that met the standards of the Constitution, and in the end was bipartisan as really a template for people looking at a president as we are. 

O`DONNELL:  And I want to go back to ha hearing the moment you`re talking about in 1974 and let`s listen to M. Caldwell Butler, as you will recall, Republican from Virginia, one of the seven Republicans who voted to impeach the president.  Let`s listen to what he said about what he called the frightening implications for what would happen if they did not vote to impeach the president.  Let`s listen to this. 


REP. M. CALDWELL BUTLER (R-VA):  There are frightening implications for the future of our country if we do not impeach the president of the United States because we will establish as a matter of record a standard of conduct for the president of the United States which will be for all time a matter of public record.  If we fail to impeach, we have condoned and left unpunished a course of conduct totally inconsistent with the expectations of the American people. 

We will have condoned and left unpunished a presidential course of conduct designed to obstruct the very process he has sworn to uphold. 


O`DONNELL:  Congresswoman, do those words apply today in this case? 

LOFGREN:  Well, Caldwell -- well, Butler was a very courageous man and did the right thing.  I say, by the time he gave that statement, the committee had reviewed at some length the direct evidence that supported the articles of impeachment.  As of this moment, the judiciary committee has not had access to a single piece of evidence.  We have been denied the evidence until this afternoon when the Justice Department finally indicated they would give us the underlying or some of the underlying documents for the Mueller report. 

I just texted the staff of the Judiciary Committee asking, can I go see that in the morning.  So we are in need of reviewing not only the underlying evidence but hearing from fact witnesses of course, the Judiciary Committee in `74 had done that by the time Mr. Butler made those courageous statements. 

O`DONNELL:  Is the clock running out on impeachment?  Certainly it would take a minimum of say ten months from today if there was the beginning of an impeachment inquiry by the House of Representatives.  That would take you well into next year, election year, April somewhere around, that`s if you started today.  So, the audience can do the math on every week or month of delay. 

LOFGREN:  I don`t know that there is that specific time frame.  We`ve had a fight to get the evidence.  Fortunately, the courts have accelerated their schedule for hearing our case.  The law is clear.  In fact, many of the precedents stem from the Nixon era. 

And so, we have had great success if getting documents.  The attorney general says we`ll now get the evidence for the Mueller report.  We will be proceeding tomorrow in terms of going to court to compel testimony from a fact witness, Mr. McGahn.  There are other fact witnesses we hope to interview. 

Have to do that.  And you know, can`t be short circuited.  But it can be done on a fast track. 

O`DONNELL:  Congresswoman, do you expect the complete, the chairman to itemize publicly tomorrow what it is the Justice Department is handing over? 

LOFGREN:  Well, I don`t know what the chairman will do.  I know he`ll do the responsible thing.  I -- it`s my understanding that even though the material is being kept away from us unlike in the Nixon case or the Clinton case where the evidence was brought to the House, we`re going to have to traipse over to the Justice Department, it`s going to make it more difficult to review it.

But that we are not prevented from discussing the information broadly that we see.  So, I`m sure that Jerry will take steps to make sure that the public has an understanding of the breadth or narrowness of what`s been provided. 

O`DONNELL:  Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, the House of Representatives highest authority on impeachment -- thank you very much for joining us tonight.  Really appreciate it. 

LOFGREN:  Thank you, Lawrence.  Thanks, Lawrence. 

O`DONNELL:  Thanks, Congresswoman.

And when we come back, President Trump did it again.  He played the crisis game with himself.  And guess who won?  That`s next. 


O`DONNELL: If you`re surprised that President Trump announced that his brilliant negotiating skills have averted a new crisis with Mexico over tariffs, you have not been paying attention to Donald Trump`s crisis management style, which is first create a crisis with a foreign country, second threaten that country to make concessions to the United States, third get no concessions, fourth announce victory.

You can plug in North Korea or Mexico in that formula. But what you should have known from the start is that President Trump`s threatened tariffs on Mexico were never going to happen for many reasons.

First of all, the Trump administration spent two years negotiating NAFTA 2.0, which is really more like NAFTA 1.1. It includes no changes - structural changes in NAFTA that in any way changed the fundamental nature of our trade agreement with Mexico and Canada. The new NAFTA cannot go into effect unless it is approved by Congress which could turn out to be a difficult thing for the Trump administration to get through Congress.

But it would have been impossible for the Trump administration to get it through Congress, if Donald Trump was already violating the new NAFTA and the old NAFTA by illegally creating a bunch of new tariffs on Mexican products.

And it has finally sunk in to the point where Republicans are actually admitting it publicly because their voters have figured it out that the Trump tariffs are paid for by Americans not by foreign countries.

The Trump tariffs are paid in effect as sales taxes on things we buy in America in this country, and so the tariffs are not popular. So, Mexico had no trouble figuring out that Donald Trump`s tariff threat was a fake Trump threat.

And now that the news media is on to the Trump game of creating a crisis and then pretending to solve the crisis, the President is upset that the news media is accurately reporting that Donald Trump got nothing new from Mexico and surrendered on his threatened tariffs.

So, the President is pretending he got some secret agreement with Mexico on something else that the President won`t even say what it is, and Mexico is saying that is completely untrue. The President has no secret agreement with Mexico, according to Mexico.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But I want to thank Mexico and we do have one other thing that will be announced at the appropriate time, but they have to get approval from their legislative body.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why are the Mexicans denying it then?

TRUMP: I don`t think they`ll be denying it very long, it`s all done.


O`DONNELL: Senator Chuck Schumer predicted all of this a week ago.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): He makes these threats and then he backs off when he sees the danger. I believe that he will back off when faced with the opposition among business, among his own Republicans.

And when he sees what a dumb move he has made in terms of dealing with both the border, the American economy, and with any kind of trade agreement he might try to get.


O`DONNELL: And so, what will the next fake Trump crisis be? Will Donald Trump continue to play the crisis game throughout the Presidential campaign, and will enough of his voters continue to fall for it? After this break, John Heilemann will be back with us and will be joined by Tim O`Brien who has been studying the Trump negotiating model literally for decades.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, as promised, are Tim O`Brien, the Executive Editor of Bloomberg Opinion and an MSNBC contributor. He has reported on Donald Trump for decades and actually written a book about the Trump businesses. John Heilemann is back with us.

Tim O`Brien, you`ve been watching this Trump negotiating model for a long time and now, as President, he seems that he`s decided he is completely empowered to both create the negotiating crisis and then declare himself the victor of it.

TIM O`BRIEN, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, BLOOMBERG OPINION: Yes, Lawrence, I don`t even think I think it graces it to call it a negotiating style, because people who negotiate are interested in an outcome and they`re interested in some sort of a goal that both sides reach in order to get something out of a process.

And that`s not what`s going on here with President Trump. He`s really like a kid playing with matches and I think he likes to see how many fires he can start and what kind of results he can get from that, because it keeps him at center stage.

It causes the media and his critics and his opponents in Congress and on the global stage focused on what - the question of what will Trump do next. And he sees it almost - he thinks about these things very cinematically. He doesn`t think about them strategically, he doesn`t think about them in terms of getting an outcome.

And it was classic this week with the Mexican tariff. It replicates something he`s done for decades in his business life, which is just throw a bomb into a process at the very end to try to just shake things up and keep people off balance without any real sense of where he`s heading with any of it.

It`s not the first time he`s done it. He did this when he shut the government down, the federal government down, late last year. He`ll do it again. He just threatened China this evening with tariffs, if she doesn`t speak with him at the G20. And it all comes from this place where he`s the solo pilot and he likes finding avenues of operation where he doesn`t have to be beholden to anyone else.

O`DONNELL: So, John, of course the world of American business doesn`t like tariffs for very good reasons, economists don`t like tariffs for a lot of good reasons. So, CNBC - Donald Trump was not having a good day, he was being criticized by the head of the Chamber of Commerce today on CNBC for the whole tariff game, whereupon the President picked up the phone, called Joe Kernen at CNBC and then we had this.


JOE KERNEN, CO-HOST, CNBC`S SQUAWK BOX: Mr. President, most economists - and I know you`ve heard this, I don`t know how you`ve responded - most economists say it`s a tax on US consumers. Tariffs are simply a tax on US consumers, they hurt US consumers, how do you respond - and even I think that one of your guys and one of our guys Larry Kudlow kind of conceded that at least a major part of it could be on the US consumer?

How do you respond to that, because I know you`ve heard all of the economists say that?

TRUMP: Sure, I hear it all the time and I hear the other also, but I hear it all the time. And with Larry, in all fairness to Larry, they didn`t let him finish his answer. He had further to go and nobody put that on.


O`DONNELL: Yes, Larry Kudlow had further to go. Chris Wallace said to him, do the US businesses and US consumers pay? And Kudlow says, yes, to some extent, I don`t disagree with that.

So everyone knows what Kudlow`s answer was, because Kudlow has been on CNBC.


O`DONNELL: Yes, a professional lifetime.

HEILEMANN: A lifetime. You and I could take an hour of your show tonight, if we wanted to, and play Larry Kudlow`s punditry and his time in government back in the Reagan years. We could play it all out for an hour, more than an hour - we could play an hour, and we could find an hour`s worth of clips Larry Kudlow saying tariffs are terrible, their bad economics, that of course if we impose them, they will have negative effects on US economy, they`ll have negative effects on US consumers.

US consumers pay for tariffs not to a large extent, but entirely. You could find Larry Kudlow saying all of that and yet, like so many alleged free marketers, so many business people, so many Republicans who have built their entire ideology on the ideology of free trade and anti-tariffs causes over the course of the last 50 years in America, all of them are now like, well if Trump`s for it, I guess I`m - everything I said before is no longer operative. It`s a joke.

O`DONNELL: What about the Trump voter, they have learned that China is a pretty big soybean buyer, they`ve learned what - how dependent on trade the agriculture sector is? Trump voters have learned a lot in the year in the two years of the Trump tariffs. Are they - where are they going to be on this?

HEILEMANN: You would like to think that if voters voted according to their rational economic interest that those voters would be like, okay this is this is lunacy and it`s harming our businesses, it`s not bringing back jobs, it`s madness to the extent that there have been tariffs employed, although as Tim pointed out, these tariffs on Mexico were never going to get imposed, there`s zero chance that that was going to happen.

You would like to think if they voted for the rational economic interest, they would reject Trump on this basis alone, and the fact that he`s playing with fire et cetera, et cetera. But what we know, Lawrence, over the course of our lives is that we`ve seen there are a lot of voters, particularly many voters in the Republican coalition, who consistently over and over again vote against their economic interests because there are other things they care about more like Trump`s cultural populism and his sense of racial grievance and other things like that. So, what will they do? I`m not sure they`re going to abandon Trump on mass because of this because they love him for reasons that are not rational.

O`DONNELL: Tim, so the -- what about the crisis game? Can he continue to play the crisis game as he did with North Korea`s sabre-rattling and then immediately switching it to I deserve the Nobel Peace Prizes and Kim Jong- un, I love the man and all of that stuff, will he find other arenas in which to do this if the tariff game isn`t working?

O`BRIEN: He absolutely will because it`s more than just a game for him, this is where he operates. He thrives in chaos and he thrives around the idea of keeping people off balance, so they`re guessing about what he`ll do next. The real danger here and we`re in a very dangerous time now, is that this is going to move out of tariffs into things like military conflicts in the Persian Gulf, conflict with China, et cetera, et cetera, and people have to be wary of that.

O`DONNELL: Tim O`Brien, John Heilemann, thank you both for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it. And coming up, you will hear more from Congressman Caldwell Butler, the Republican Congressman who was afraid of what would happen to America if Congress did not vote to impeach Republican President Richard Nixon in 1974.

You`ve heard some of what he had to say in my conversation with Congressman Lofgren earlier in this hour, but every word of what he had to say applies to the situation Congress is facing with President Trump right now, especially Republican members of Congress. This is the time to listen to what he had to say; that`s next.


O`DONNELL: An unusual 60-second TV ad appeared this morning on Fox & Friends. It was produced and paid for by the Republicans for the Rule of Law, who said that the new ad is "a reminder of what patriotism and political bravery can look like."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When Nixon was alleged to have obstructed justice, Republicans in the House Judiciary Committee took these allegations seriously.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are two major allegations which I am concerned and these involve the area of obstructing justice.

HAROLD FROEHLICH, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE (R-WI): I`m concerned about obstruction of justice, a plan whose purpose was to save an administration from embarrassment.

LAWRENCE HOGAN, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE (R-MD): He consistently tried to cover up the evidence and obstruct justice. For our system of justice and our system of government to survive, we must pledge our highest allegiance to the strength of the law and not to the common frailties of men.

CALDWELL BUTLER, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE (R-VA): These things have happened in our House and it`s our responsibility to do what we can to clear it up. It is we, not the Democrats, who must demonstrate that we are capable of enforcing the high standard we would set for them.


O`DONNELL: In Congress, every vote is a story and after this final break, we`ll tell you the story of the man who got the last word in that video you just saw. Congressman Caldwell Butler of Virginia, Republican Congressman, his mother told him he would lose his congressional seat and his political future if he voted against President Nixon. You`ll want to hear how he replied to his mother in a letter and we`ll see him fight back tears when he recalls his vote against the President ten years after he cast that vote. That`s next.


O`DONNELL: M. Caldwell Butler believed that he was elected to Congress in his hometown of Roanoke, Virginia because he was swept into office on the coattails of Republican President Richard Nixon`s landslide re-election victory in which President Nixon won 49 states. Congressman Butler was very grateful to the President. Congressman Butler and his wife to whom he was married for 64 years were guests in the Nixon White House family quarters.

He was only in his second year in office when he announced on July 25, 1974 that as a member of House Judiciary Committee, he was joining six other Republicans in voting to impeach Republican President Richard Nixon. He said that President Nixon`s conduct in office "is our shame". He meant Republican`s shame and that Republicans had a special duty condemn the Republican President`s conduct.

The legendary Washington columnist Mary McGrory said that that was "The single-most fiery and liberating sentence spoken in the Judiciary Committee." It wasn`t easy for Congressman Butler to vote against the President. He began with his gratitude to President Nixon.


BUTLER: I`ve worked with him in every national campaign in which he has taken part. And indeed there are those who suggest that I would not be here today where it not for our joint effort in 1972. And I`m deeply grateful for the many kindnesses and courtesies he has shown me over the years. I`m not unmindful of the loyalty I owe him. I have a word for my colleagues on this side of the aisle and to my Republican friends who may be listening and for my colleague from Indiana who`s concerned about the effect the impeachment will have on the Republican Party.

For years, we Republicans have campaigned against corruption and misconduct in the administration of the government of the United States by the other party. But, Watergate is our shame. Those things happened in the Republican Administration while we had a Republican in the White House and every single person convicted (ph) to date has one way or another owed allegiance to the Republican Party.

We cannot indulge ourselves the luxury of patronizing or excusing the misconduct of our own people. These things have happened in our House, and it is our responsibility to do what we can to clear it up. It is we, not the Democrats, who must demonstrate that we are capable of enforcing the high standards we would set for them.

It is my judgment also that the standard of conduct, which the American people are reasonably entitled to expect of their President, is established in part by experience and precedent. There are frightening implications for the future of our country if we do not impeach the President of the United States. Because we will by this proceeding establish as a matter of record a standard of conduct for the President of the United States which will be for all-time a matter of public record.

If we fail to impeach, we have condoned and left unpunished a course of conduct totally inconsistent with the reasonable expectations of the American people. We will have condoned and left unpunished a presidential course of conduct designed to interfere with and obstruct the very process which he has sworn to uphold and we would have condoned and left unpunished an abuse of power totally without justification. And we would have said to the American people these misdeeds are inconsequential and unimportant.

The people of the United States are entitled to assume that their President is telling the truth. The pattern of misrepresentation and half-truths that emerges from our investigation reveals a presidential policy cynically based on the premise that the truth itself is negotiable.


O`DONNELL: Congressman Butler`s mother wrote him a letter telling him that he "will go down the drain if you do not stand with your party at this critical time." Congressman Butler then wrote back to his mother, "Dear Mother, you are probably right.

However, I feel that my loyalty to the Republican Party does not relieve me of the obligation which I have." Congressman Butler was re-elected repeatedly and in his last two elections, he faced no opposition. Ten years after he cast that vote in favor of impeaching President Nixon, he described what he did as soon as the committee adjourned.


BUTLER: I went back to my office and called my wife and because you felt the urge to share this experience with somebody.  And I wanted to be reassured, and she reassured me.


O`DONNELL:  M. Caldwell Butler died in 2014 at the age of 89.  It`s not hard to imagine what he would think of today`s congressional Republicans.  M. Caldwell Butler gets tonight`s LAST WORD.  "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.