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Democrats focus on healthcare. TRANSCRIPT: 6/14/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell.

Guests: Debbie Dingell, David Corn, Jess Bidgood

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST:  I`ll be back on my show on Monday at 1:00 p.m. "VELSHI & RUHLE." Don`t miss it. And Rachel will be back right here on Monday at 9:00. And now it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" with Ari Melber sitting in for Lawrence O`Donnell. Good evening, my friend.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, sir. Have a great weekend. We`ll be watching on Monday.

VELSHI:  Thank you sir.

MELBER:  As mentioned, I`m Ari Melber. I am in for Lawrence O`Donnell. Tonight, we`ll have the latest on an issue the Democrats say could be key in 2020, improving health care for millions of Americans as Donald Trump is rolling out his own health care proposal. Democratic congresswoman, Debbie Dingell will be here later this hour.

And we`ll also be reporting on the action that matches Donald Trump`s words embracing collusion this week. How self-proclaimed grim reaper Mitch McConnell is blocking U.S. election security. All of that in the show.

We begin with this. Donald Trump on defense over embracing collusion but also on offense against his own former White House counsel Don McGahn, accusing him of a crime in a new interview all because McGahn busted Trump`s attempts to fire Bob Mueller, part of the criminal evidence against President Trump and the Mueller report, which famously quotes McGahn recounting Trump ordering him, Mueller has to go. Call me back when you do it.

In that new interview with ABC News that`s causing Trump so many headaches, different headaches all over the place, he now claims McGahn made that up.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Excuse me. They had no evidence of crime.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS HOST:  He lays out a lot of evidence including the episode where you ask your White House counsel, Don McGahn, you tell him Mueller has to go. You call him twice and say Mueller has to go. Call me when it`s done.

TRUMP:  I was never going to fire Mueller. I never suggested firing Mueller.

STEPHANOPOULOS:  Do what he says.

TRUMP:  Excuse -- I don`t care what he says. It doesn`t matter.


MELBER:  Two falsehoods there. One, Trump does care what McGahn says. He cares so much he`s been fighting to prevent Don McGahn from testifying to Congress apparently afraid it could hurt him. And two, Donald Trump`s own aides provided the evidence showing that Trump wanted to fire Mueller.

That is why the obstruction section of the Mueller report is so famously damning more so than volume one. Then the president continue to attacking McGahn making clear he`s accusing his former White House counsel of criminal perjury.


STEPHANOPOULOS:  Why would Don McGahn lie --

TRUMP:  But we had a business --

STEPHANOPOULOS:  -- and why would he lie under oath to do it? Why would lie under oath to Robert Mueller?

TRUMP:  Because he wanted to make himself look like a good lawyer or he believed it because I would constantly tell anybody that would listen including you, including the media that Robert Mueller was conflicted. Robert Mueller had a total conflict of interest.

STEPHANOPOULOS:  And has to go.

TRUMP:  I never -- I didn`t say that.

STEPHANOPOULOS:  But if you answer these questions to me now, why not answer them to Robert Mueller under oath?

TRUMP:  Because they were looking to get us for lies, for slight misstatements. I let Don McGahn testify. I let him -- he was the White House counsel. I let him testify. I knew he was going to --

STEPHANOPOULOS:  But you didn`t (inaudible). You didn`t answer questions on obstruction.

TRUMP:  No, wait a minute. Wait a minute. I did answer questions. I answered them in writing. I don`t know about this.

STEPHANOPOULOS:  not on obstruction.

TRUMP:  I don`t know. I answered a lot of questions. They gave me questions. I answered them in writing.

STEPHANOPOULOS:  Not on obstruction.

TRUMP:  Look, George you`re being a little wise guy, OK, which is , you know, typical for you.


MELBER:  Not on obstruction. Look, there`s a part of this that`s pretty straightforward. President Donald Trump hasn`t done an adversarial T.V. news interview outside of Fox for a while. You can actually see the pressure getting to him right there, which is why he resorts to personal attack when he`s basically caught.

He was also toggling back to Fox News like some sort of call-in comfort food because right after ABC started showing these comments and they started getting picked up, the president went over to "Fox & Friends," an interview he used for some damage control over the other interview he did on ABC.


STEVE DOOCY, FOX NEWS HOST:  You`ve taken a lot of heat from the Democrats regarding that since then.

TRUMP:  Well, I don`t -- but I think it was accurately stated and I`ve had a lot of support.


MELBER:  Accurately stated. So, here`s exactly what the president says the Republicans -- I should say the Republicans and Democrats have been blasting him for. Take a look, he says was accurate.


STEPHANOPOULOS:  If Russia, if China, if someone else offers you information on opponents, should they accept it or should they call the FBI?

TRUMP:  I think maybe you do both. I think you might want to listen. I don`t -- there`s nothing wrong with listening. If somebody called from a country, Norway, we have information on your opponent. Oh, I think I`d want to hear it.

STEPHANOPOULOS:  You want that kind of interference in our elections?

TRUMP:  It`s not an interference. They have information. I think I`d take it. If I thought there was something wrong, I`d go maybe to the FBI if I thought there was something wrong.


MELBER:  So how bad was that? Well, in the new Fox News interview, Trump has to walk back at least part of what you just heard saying he absolutely would report foreign overtures to FBI while maintaining that you look at the dirt on the opponent from a foreign source.


TRUMP:  First of all, I don`t think anybody would present me with anything then because they know how much I love this country. Nobody`s going to present me with anything then. Number two, if I was and of course, you have to look at it because if you don`t look at it, you`re not going to know if it`s bad.

How are you going to know if it`s bad?  But of course, you give it to the FBI or report it to the attorney general or somebody like that. But, of course, you do that.


MELBER:  This is the chair of the Federal Election Commission which oversees our elections in this country. This is what she had to say today on MSNBC.


ELLEN WEINTRAUB, CHAIRWOMAN, FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION:  It`s actually a matter of black letter of law. It`s pretty straightforward. Anyone in the United States is not allowed to accept anything of value from a foreign national particularly a foreign government in connection with an election.

I`m just interested in making sure that everybody understands the law. I`ve been gravely concerned about the efforts of foreign governments to try and intervene in our election to try and undermine our democracy.


MELBER:  You know, there`s an old saying, "dayenu," it would have been enough, and it would have been. It`s been quite a week here on Friday night with plenty more news coming at us. But it wasn`t enough because Donald Trump tries to spin seemingly criminal confession style plans about 2020 and his receptivity to this foreign campaign dirt.

A whole separate wing of the government, the Office of Special Counsel completed its review of Kellyanne Conway`s conduct in office and recommended formally that she be fired at this point, terminated for breaking a law that prohibits her from abusing a government position to influence elections.

Here`s what they said and what they found. "Conway`s actions erode the principal foundation of our Democratic system -- the rule of law." So the ethics officials in the U.S. government right now are finding that Conway put political loyalty above her oath of office. They say that is grounds for the firing. And the president responds by saying that loyalty is exactly why he likes her.


DOOCY:  You`re not going to fire her?

TRUMP:  No, I`m not going to fire her. I think she`s a terrific person. She`s a tremendous spokesperson. She`s been loyal. She`s been -- she`s just a great person. They had have tried to take away her speech and I think you`re entitled to free speech in this country.

BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX NEWS HOST:  Yes, they just say if you`re working for the White House, you shouldn`t be involved in criticizing other candidates or other politicians and she has. Will you encourage her not to do that going forward?

TRUMP:  Well, but it doesn`t work that way.


MELBER:  I am joined by David Corn, Washington bureau chief from Mother Jones and an MSNBC analyst, Barbara McQuade, former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan as well as an MSNBC analyst and Maria Teresa Kumar, president and CEO of Voter Latino and an analyst for us as well. Good evening to each of you. David, what do you make of it all? Plenty to pick from on a Friday.

DAVID CORN, MSNBC ANALYST:  Yes, and I think we saw with the Stephanopoulos interview the problem that has been evident for a couple years now. What does the media do with a president who lies so much and so profoundly?

A clip you didn`t show was at one point Trump said about Russia`s intervention in the 2016 election. We rebuffed them. We rebuffed the Russians. Well, that`s exactly wrong. You remember the Trump Tower meeting when the Russians said hey, we`re trying to help you guys secretly. We want you to meet with an emissary.

And what did Donald Trump, Jr. now famously say? I love it. It wasn`t a rebuff. It was an embrace. So when he says something like that to Stephanopoulos, to George, or the clip you did show when he said I answered all the questions and he goes not about obstruction.

What do you do? Do you stop the interview? Do you look him dead in the eye and say Mr. President, you are not telling the truth or do you give him a platform for this continuous gas lighting and denial of reality that is just getting more and more extensive and even more absurd each and every day?. I think it`s a pretty deep question.

MELBER:  Well, I take your point. I mean, I think it`s a big question particularly in how everyone deals with it. If this was gas lighting, I think he got some of the gas on himself and caught fire over collusion this week.

KORN:  Well, to agree, I mean, not quite the Hindenburg but yes, you got even a couple of Republican members of the Senate saying well, maybe he shouldn`t be inviting foreign adversaries to intervene in an election. Boy, it only took three years to get them to say that. But as soon as he went on "Fox & Friends," their criticisms seemed to evaporate.

MELBER:  Yes. And Barbara, I wonder what you think of the obviously unenviable assignment of anyone working for as David Korn said, working communications for a president who`s been caught in his lies and who`s trying to clean them up. They tried to use a little bit of legalish speak in how they describe what this new policy is for 2020 offers of potentially illegal help. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  The president`s directive, as he said, a case by case basis. He said he would likely do both.


MELBER:  Barbara, is there a sort of a case by case approach to this sort of thing?

BARBARA MCQUADE, MSNBC ANALYST:  No, absolutely not. I mean, thought the great profile and courage we saw today by the chair of the FEC who issued a letter making it 100 percent clear that it is illegal to accept a thing of value from a foreign national or a foreign government in respect to an election period.

I thought that was a wonderful thing for her to do to educate the public as well as any candidates. You can`t sit and listen, you know, this idea that well, I have to listen first. I meet with the Queen of England. How do I know what she has to say?

But the question wasn`t will you ever talk to them. This isn`t an offer of tea. This is an offer of information on your opponent. And when you hear that, that means you need to call the FBI because a foreign adversary is not giving it to you because it`s in the best interests of America. They`re giving it to you because it`s in the best interests of that foreign country. And so you need to call the FBI right away.

It`s -- they`re in an odd position because on the one hand, they want to push back but I think they don`t want to concede that what Donald Trump, Jr. did when he met with Russians in Trump Tower in June of 2016 was wrong in any way. And that`s why they`re finding themselves in this very awkward spot.

MELBER:  Maria?

MARIA TERESA KUMAR, MSNBC ANALYST:  I think that the fact that the president is actually welcoming foreign agents to keep his power demonstrates and resoundingly of whose interest is he really in there. Is he really in the White House right now for the interest of the American people, for the sanctity of our institutions, for the sanctity of our democracy or is it all about Trump?

And this is very clear that it`s all about Trump. Anybody that receives any type of influence for their elections to continue and maintain power should be immediately -- every single American should immediately sit back and say wait a second, is he acting in our best interests.

The fact today that Kellyanne Conway was also reprimanded and he doesn`t want to do anything about it, let`s be clear. The council that reprimanded Kellyanne Conway was appointed by the president. So, he is nonpartisan and he`s also telling the American people what is happening right now in our institutions, what`s happening right now in the White House is not OK.

It`s not normal and we have to keep shedding light on it because the moment that we get desensitized to what Donald Trump does, then our democracy is at risk.

MELBER:  Yes. And Barbara, the law enforcement side of this also is an important context because there are these foreign efforts. There is this question of whether we remain vulnerable and how to deal with that and how to fight it.

And then meanwhile, the attorney general is claiming to investigate the investigators, the people who would be processing this. Readings from some of the reporting about how it`s playing in law enforcement, interviews stating that the president`s comments were basically viewed as undoing months of work essentially inviting foreign spies to meddle with 2020 campaigns and demoralizing the agents trying to stop them, Barbara.

MCQUADE:  Well, you know, Christopher Wray the FBI director has come out and stated unequivocally that if anybody receives an offer of information from a foreign country, they should report it to the FBI. And President Trump said the FBI director is wrong.

That has got to be demoralizing. I know there are those calling for the resignation of the FBI director. I don`t know that he needs to go that far, but it would be nice to see him push back and issue a statement about the law and the importance of enforcing that law.

I do believe that a statement like what President Trump made does invite foreign adversaries to continue their efforts to influence our campaigns because if you`ve got the president of the United States saying it`s no big deal and of course I would take it and others would take it. Everybody would take it, I think undermines their efforts to enforce the law.

MELBER:  David, take a look at this other moment from the interview.


TRUMP:  Nobody showed you those polls because those polls don`t exist, George. Those polls don`t exist. You mean I`m losing in 15 out of 17 states? Those polls don`t exist.


MELBER:  Not the most important issue in the world to be clear, but ABC News doing the follow-up and saying that that polling data referenced there shows a double digit lead for Biden in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Seven points in Florida, in Texas interestingly the numbers that the president only leading by two

And when presented with this stuff from ABC, the Trump campaign actually ended up confirming the data but saying it was old now and there are huge swings in Trump`s favor.

KORN:  You know, I don`t know what to say. We`ve had this from the first day of the presidency when there were millions and billions and trillions of people at the inauguration. He went on "Fox & Friends" this morning and he said we`re winning in every poll. And the three of them just sort of say yes, dear leader, you are.

The depth of disassembling here is it gets deeper, I mean, each and every day. The "Washington Post" has already recorded 10,000 lies or false statements or misleading statements that Trump has made and it has no impact. He will say, he will do whatever he needs to do.

It`s part of his narcissism. And I mean, I guess it takes some strength on George`s part in the car there not to sort of have your head explode and say Mr. President, are you just lying right now to the American public or you don`t know what you`re talking about.

MELBER:  Maria, I think David`s had it.

KORN:  I`ve had it. It`s Friday night.

KUMAR:  But I think -- but what David is speaking to is something that`s incredibly important. The president has lied 10,000 times that has been documented by the "Washington Post" that we know of. And we start -- it gets to the point we have to stop saying oh, he is so funny or too cute. He knows exactly what he`s doing.

And when you`re inviting a foreign government to come into (inaudible) into our elections to influence them, you`re also promising something in the return saying if you help me, I`m going to go wink and help you. That again is something that is anti-American. It`s not patriotic and we have to make sure that we`re standing fast to make sure that we`re very clear.

It doesn`t matter if it`s about Republican or Democrat. This is right now about our country and how do we actually move forward to make sure that the sanctity of our democracy is strong. And that is being present and holding individuals accountable and making sure that he doesn`t get away with nonsense.

MELBER:  Barbara McQuade, Maria Teresa Kumar and the rarely exhaustible David Korn on a big week. Thanks to each of you. I appreciate your comments tonight. We do have a lot more in the show. For one thing, we mentioned some of the polling that Donald Trump is in denial about.

There`s another poll in Michigan with him down double digits. Democrats are saying the key here on policy and politics is actually health care. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell is on the show live coming up with me shortly.

Later, with all this outrage over Trump saying that he welcomes collusion, what about one of Donald Trump`s key allies who is taking actions not just talking to undermine our election security. That story later tonight.


MELBER:  A new poll out in the key state of Michigan today shows some potential trouble for Donald Trump, down 11 points to Joe Biden, double digit lead there, 52 to 41 and the only head to head match-up that was offered. This is a margin in a state that Donald Trump, of course, famously won, a typically blue state and he won it by one point.

Now Michigan and other battleground states across the country have Democrats playing up some pretty key issues including health care. This was actually the number one issue that pollsters found helped the Democrats win the midterms and retake the House in 2018, according to exit polls.

Those are the polls when people actually walk out of the voting booth and say what`s on their mind. Democrats trying to keep health care on their minds as 2020 approaches. And this week, that meant ramping up the pressure on Mitch McConnell to act on health care bills that the House has passed, which he is holding up in the Senate.

Take this afternoon in Michigan where Democratic congresswoman, Debbie Dingell, held a panel discussion with doctors and patients and other lawmakers focusing on the rising cost of prescription drugs, out of pocket expenses as well as the constant concern about what happens to people who are forced to pay for their own pre-existing conditions. Meanwhile, the president announced to expand health care coverage that he says will help address small businesses and their employees.

Speaker Pelosi quick to denounce this as "cruel hypocrisy" saying that while Trump claims to want affordable coverage, his Justice Department is actually arguing the court should destroy protections for those same people with pre-existing condition and she said strike down every other protection and guarantee of affordable health care for America`s families.

Joining us now is Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, senior Democratic from Michigan, co-chair for the House Democratic Policy and Communications Committee. Good Friday night to you.

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D-MI):  Good Friday night to you.

MELBER:  You`re out there in the field. What were you hearing today?

DINGELL:  You know, when I did it with four of my other colleagues from Michigan, I heard people really concerned. And what was to date -- and I spend a lot of time on health care both as a caregiver and on policy -- was probably one of the most disturbing panels yet that I`ve heard from.

We heard from individuals with juvenile diabetes. We heard from a mother whose daughter`s medicine was costing her $400,000 a year. She`s keeping and staying employed though she`s eligible for retirement because she doesn`t know how else she is going to pay for her daughter`s medicine and doesn`t know what`s going to happen to her when she`s 26.

We heard from two -- an adult, a young woman who was in her 20s who works for the University of Michigan. Her husband is an engineer with General Motors. She`s a juvenile diabetic. And how much -- with those two good insurance plans, how much her health care is costing her the need to go to Canada to buy her insulin and other medicines that she`s had.

And we heard from the chief medical doctor at the hospital we were at who had a patient today that was in intensive care who would be OK if they could take a medicine for 14 days. This patient had insurance but the insurance company wouldn`t pay for the medicine. So they can`t give the patient the medicine the person needs. So that patient`s days in intensive care not getting the medicine they need, pretty frightening stories.

MELBER:  Yes, very important stuff. And obviously I think you and other Democrats have argued this is what you really care about. This is why you want to be working on these issues. And yet, it`s also as I mentioned in the top, a big political avenue.

I think when you look at what happened in the midterms and whether Donald Trump`s rhetoric, his bluster -- earlier in the show another panelist was describing as sort of an exhausting series of lies -- how does that run up against the way that he`s governing or not governing?

And so I wonder if you would comment on the politics in this new poll which show even as Donald Trump`s approval hovers around say 40 percent, it`s even worse when you just ask straight up who do you trust to deal with health care in Congress, Republicans in congress at 32 percent, Democrats closer to 50.

Does that tell you that even people who might still have approval for Trump don`t actually think they trust Republicans on health care because there`s some gap there between 40 and 32?

DINGELL:  You know, I`m going to tell you, this is what people don`t understand. This is an administration that`s in the court wanting to take away the right or the -- the Affordable Care Act guaranteed people with pre-existing conditions that they would be able to get coverage.

And now, people, that`s being threatened. And I will tell you in Michigan health care is one of the number one issues. I hear it every place I go. From farmers markets to restaurants, people are scared. And they feel that there`s a hypocrisy here when the president won`t defend pre-existing conditions.

And I`ll tell you something. I will work with anybody to lower the cost of drugs, to lower the cost of out of pocket expenses because that`s all I hear about every day from all kinds of people. So, I will work with any Republican.

But you shouldn`t -- instead of trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act, we need to work with each other to help lower prescription drug prices. That`s what people want to see. And they want to see us work together to get it done. They`re tired of partisan bickering.

MELBER:  You say they`re tired of bickering. One Republican who is going his own way on a bunch of issues, I`m curios because he`s also near your district, is Justin Amash. You know about him. You know, he posted something we don`t see from a lot of your Republican colleagues.

He said after thinking it over, he has his conclusions that Attorney General Barr misrepresented the Mueller report, that Trump engaged in impeachable conduct, partisanship, something you were talking about, has eroded our system of checks and balances he argues.

And that few members of Congress have read the report. Four points, do you agree with him on those and how do you think it`s playing since you guys are out in similar parts of the country there?

DINGELL:  So first of all, I want to make it clear. Justin Amash is my friend. We don`t agree on many things but we do agree on a lot of things and he and I have fought for religious freedom very closely together on a number of issues.

I`ve read the report. I`m now on my third reading and I`m deeply disturbed by what I read in this report. It talks about Russia trying to divide us as a country. And that`s where -- I`m not sure what we do right now. I`ve said this before. I`m very conflicted because what`s clear, this underlying theme is that Russia is trying to divide us and we are a divided country.

Look what something happened today. I went to a bagel place with a group of men that I`ve had breakfast with for 20 years. By the time I left the bagel restaurant today, the entire bagel place had somehow become involved on either side of where they stood on people.

I had gotten yelled at by somebody. Other people came and defended me. Someone screamed at me about we need to impeach. Somebody else started screaming and I thought what are we coming to? When you can`t go to get your bagel and not have people actually yelling at each other inside a bagel place. That`s how divided this country is. And that worries me.

MELBER:  Well, first of all you`re speaking my language, congresswoman, because to me a little bagel with a little smear, I mean, that`s how you want to start your day without any drama. But as to the point you raise, I mean, I think Speaker Pelosi is at least seen as having decided.

And you all picked her. She`s got the most important job in the Democratic Party. She`s got the power. Take a listen what she says which is basically, respectfully, methodically, carefully but ultimately, against impeachment. Take a look.


NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE :  What we want to do is have a methodical approach to the path that we are on and this will be included in that. But not any one issue is going to trigger, oh now, we`ll go do this because it`s about investigating. It`s about litigating. It`s about getting the truth to hold everyone accountable and no one is above the law.


MELBER:  Does that work at the same time that increasing number of Democratic leaders including Speaker Pelosi openly muse about whether the president is a criminal, about whether he`s a "existential threat" to the country, about whether he should ultimately face prosecution? At what point is the Democratic Party`s message, Donald Trump is the worst thing ever but not impeachable and does that hold?

DINGELL:  Well, I think I agree with her that we`ve got to get the facts and you`ve got to establish the record. I think that a lot of people have to come along as we do it.

I think this week is a deeply disturbing week when we`ve had a discussion about if a foreign government wants to provide information about somebody, would you report it to the FBI and that`s not automatic. Any of us should know any foreign government trying to interfere in our elections in any way, shape, or form should immediately be reported to the FBI.

But I also know that as today, we are working on health care. There are a number of issues. We can do both. We need to investigate, nobody is above the law. The speaker is absolutely right about that. But while those committees are investigating, gathering the facts, we also have to have to deliver on health care which we talked about today.

We need to deliver on infrastructure. In Michigan, we talk about fixing the damn roads every single day. People are concerned about this. We have to do something about trade. We`ve got to -- trade`s going to be as big an issue in this state as health care is.

So, there are issues that people care about every single day and we ought to keep the country together and work together on those issues but we also have to hold people accountable. Nobody is above the law.

MELBER:  Do you think Trump could still win Michigan again?

DINGELL:  I think that polls are a snapshot in time. I told people two and a half years ago I thought he could win and everybody thought I was crazy. I think its 18 months between now and next November. It`s a long time between now and here.

But if we don`t deliver -- if elected officials, period, don`t deliver on health care, don`t deliver on trade, don`t deliver on infrastructure, we`re all going to be held accountable. So let`s see what we get done between now and next November.

And President Trump needs to deliver on health care and trade. He needs to lower prescription drugs. That`s what people really care about.

MELBER:  Some straight talk. Should we end with a bagel question?

DINGELL:  Go ahead.

MELBER:  Are you plain or are you more salmon smear?

DINGELL:  I`m everything.

MELBER:  Everything bagel.

DINGELL:  Everything bagel.

MELBER:  Well, and isn`t that -- isn`t America ultimately the everything bagel?

DINGELL:  They are.

MELBER:  Right?

DINGELL:  That`s what`s great.

MELBER: It`s better if you have a little bit of everything, why pick one thing?

DINGELL: That makes our country stronger.

MELBER: Hey, you know, I didn`t know we were going to end there. Congresswoman Debbie Dingell who`s working on health care, who`s telling us a view from the ground, thanks for making time tonight.

DINGELL: Thank you.

MELBER: Really appreciated.

DINGELL: Thanks for having me.

MELBER: Absolutely.

Now coming up, I have something to say about the self-proclaimed Grim Reaper and his effort to stop bipartisan legislation to protect our election interference. And while he might not you to know about it, we`re going to hold him accountable, next.


MELBER: While even of Donald Trump`s closest Republican allies have denounced his endorsement of foreign collusion in 2020, there is a glaring exception. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to even condemn these remarks. He also went on Fox News and basically offered his support of Trump despite the embrace of collusion.


LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: Do you have a problem with that answer, because the Democrats seem to be taking that and saying, ah ha, see we told you so, now it`s on to impeachment.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): They just can`t let it go to, Laura. You know, I said weeks ago case closed. We`ve got the Mueller report--

INGRAHAM: Would you answer that question now?

MCCONNELL: Well, he gets picked at every day over every different aspect of it. But the fundamental point is they`re trying to keep the 2016 election alive and the investigation alive--


MELBER: This whole controversy is actually about the 2020 election and what Donald Trump said he`s willing to do in it.

McConnell is not just speaking to Donald Trump through that Fox News interview, he`s also doing legislative actions, which critics say, could make the next election hack more likely and make America more vulnerable.

He served as something of a one-man road block to bipartisan legislation to protect elections. Telling his colleagues he has no plans to consider any bills to protect the election infrastructure, a move in line with his self- described role as the Grim Reaper.


MCCONNELL: Let me tell you this. If I`m still the Majority Leader of the Senate, think of me as the Grim Reaper, none of that stuff is going to pass, none of it.


MELBER: But apparently that stuff doesn`t just mean Democratic bills, because take a look, these security bills that McConnell is now blocking our bipartisan written and co-sponsored by Republicans like Marco Rubio and Trump ally Lindsey Graham.

Now if Republicans are pushing these bills, what would the problem be do? We even know it`s McConnell or is this just the Grim Reaper reputation? Well, I want to show you something that you may not have ever seen before.

Pressure by Democratic Senator Dick Durbin in an otherwise fairly obscure Committee meeting which put on record other Republican Senators pointing a finger right at Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.


SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): Are we going to be marking up any of those bills on election security?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was not a topic of discussion today, but at this point I don`t see any likelihood that those bills would get to the floor if we mark them up.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Same reason we couldn`t get our bill to the floor last year.

DURBIN: Which is?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think the Majority Leader just is of the view that this debate reaches no conclusion--


MELBER: The Majority Leader`s refusal to address election security also arose in 2016. U.S. intelligence agencies we`re discovering the extent of Russian meddling. Now these were high level sensitive meetings. People didn`t know as much then that we do now. And the Gang of Eight was discussing with the administration what to do.

And it was Majority Leader McConnell pushing back on the idea of publicly confronting the Kremlin role in the attacks, something the Vice President at the time, ultimately said undercut any attempt at a bipartisan way of beating back the Kremlin.


JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mitch McConnell wanted no part of having a bipartisan commitment that we would say essentially Russia`s doing this, stop. The die be cast here. This was all about the political play--


MELBER: And that came at a time when Washington Republicans didn`t even really mostly expect Donald Trump to win. McConnell apparently feeling the need to break with the Obama administration regardless.

Now, of course, Trump is President. He is now this week publicly embracing foreign collusion for 2020 and Mr. McConnell seems intent on having his back. Something to think about as voters debate who is putting America first.

Now coming up Elizabeth Warren surging in some new polls. We`re going to go inside the Warren campaign with two reporters who have been up front on this story, next.


MELBER: Democrats just announced their first presidential debate. These are hosted, of course, by MSNBC, NBC News and Telemundo. And a field this large will take two nights for all 20 qualifying candidates to appear.

Well, I should know early polling does not tend to predict who will be a top candidate in say six months, the Democratic National Committee had to figure out a way to do this. So they used a rough polling metric to divide up the first and second night.

Each night has half the candidates polling over 2% and half the candidates polling under 2%. This is the group of candidates will be appearing in the first night`s debate and this is the group will be appearing in the second debate.

Now some big names are in the second debate, including Biden, Bernie Sanders, and Kamala Harris. And then there is a candidate who has been surging by some account, Senate Elizabeth Warren, in basically kind of a separate lane in the first debate on that big night.

The Massachusetts Senator has been rising in polls and she`s been unveiling a steady stream of policy proposals. In fact, she released another one today which is trying to address, what she calls, the racial wealth gap.

Now references to those plans have kind of become an applause line in her campaign events. Here she was in Iowa this week.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Right now in America there is a real hunger. There are people who are ready for big structural change in this country. They`re ready for change and I got a plan for that.


MELBER: Meanwhile, another poll shows Warren effectively tied for second place - one point ahead of Sanders in California. Now David Corn is a new Mother Jones article that says, "Warren`s got a plan for winning the White House and right now it`s working". He joins me along with Jess Bidgood, who`s following the Warren campaign with "The Boston Globe" when we come back.



WARREN: It`s our moment, it`s our chance. We got to dream big, we got a fight hard and we got a win.


MELBER: Senator presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren at a campaign event there in New Hampshire. That was tonight. I`m joined now by Jess Bidgood, a National Political Reporter for the Boston Globe, who`s been following that Warren campaign; and David Corn back with us.

Jess, how`s it going out there?

JESS BIDGOOD, BOSTON GLOBE NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Hi. Thank you so much for having me. Warren had a campaign event tonight in New Hampshire. She was speaking with Democrats there.

A pretty big crowd and she was she was very well received, especially when she says that line, "I`ve got a plan". It`s become a very reliable applause line for her now out on the trail.

MELBER: And do you find that there`s enthusiasm about the specifics, because people are hungry for that or they`re just sort of like the idea that, obviously, she has the chops. Everyone knows she`s bright, everyone knows she came to this as a Harvard policymaker, and just the idea of being plan oriented is popular right now.

BIDGOOD: I actually find - I`ve been following her around 20 - she has been to 20 states plus Puerto Rico. I followed her to many of those states, and I do find that voters respond to the specificity of the plans, and they also talked to me about how they noticed the plans fit together.

They notice she brings up the ultra-millionaire tax and then she talks about what she would do with the money that would come from it. They see these plans fitting together and they`re looking for that kind of specificity, I think, because these are democratic voters who are tired of what they see is a lack of specificity from President Trump.

And in that way, Warren has really positioned herself as an antidote to an administration that frustrates a lot of people who come out to her events.

MELBER: You know, David sometimes we try to make sense of things with references to other wisdom in the culture.


MELBER: And reading your new article, I couldn`t help but be reminded of the classic tale of the Hungry Caterpillar, do you know that one?

CORN: Well, I was thinking of the Hare and the Tortoise or the Ant and the Grasshopper, but go ahead with the caterpillar.

MELBER: Well, the caterpillar eats and eats and eats their way through. And reading from your piece you say, this uptick that has been sort of piece by piece and in her following is more than a serendipitous development. Because, Warren, you write, has become the slow and steady candidates, slogging along, gaining ground inch by inch.

And the law professor, turned Senator and her team have always seen her as that being part of the plan, David explain.

CORN: Well, she got in the race very early last December. One of the first to officially get in. And the idea was that she would move steadily through the preseason, early period doing what she does best, talking about policies.

They didn`t have to worry about messaging and how to brand her or rebrand her, because people already knew what she was about. She likes to come out and talk about the real substance. And they would just do that again and again and again. It had the benefit of being authentic.

And there was one thing they did, which surprised me when I reported this piece out, which was, we know or some people know that she swore off big dollar contributions. She wouldn`t have these big fundraisers.

She wouldn`t get on the phone dialing for dollars, begging for bucks from big money people. And she would just rely on grassroots fundraising and online stuff, the way that Bernie Sanders and others do.

But what it did was it freed up her schedule. She didn`t have to go across the country from New York to LA or to Chicago, San Francisco doing these fundraisers. And as Jess just mentioned, she`s been to 20 states and where she goes she drops a plan almost every time. Long Island City, breaking up big tech; Ohio West Virginia, a $100 billion 10-year program to deal with opioid addiction; Indiana Michigan, industrial policy helping workers.

And this is what she does day-in, day-out, and I think that`s why she`s had this not a moment. This is sort of a trend upwards that our staffers would probably call this implementation.

MELBER: Take a look at her testifying against the questioning from someone who`s now one of her rivals for this race, then Senator Joe Biden. Take a look.


WARREN: They`ve squeezed enough out of these families in interest and fees and payments that--

BIDEN: --talk about usury rates then, maybe that`s we should talk them, not bankruptcy--

WARREN: Senator, I will be the first inviting--

BIDEN: No, I know you were, but let`s call a spade a spade. Your problem with the credit card companies is usury rates from your position. It`s not about the bankruptcy bill.

WARREN: But, Senator, if they`re not going to fix that problem, you can`t take away the last shred of protection.

WARREN: I got it, OK. You`re very good professor.


MELBER: Joe Biden representing Delaware where so many companies are incorporated, including a lot of the credit card industry, David.

CORN: Well, yes, and I think you mentioned earlier how the debate was sort of sorted out that we`re going to see and in two weeks or so. And I think that we could see a reprieve - we won`t see a reprise of that moment, because they are different nights.

But I think at some point in this campaign we will see that reprise. This is a real difference in sentiment and in temperament and in past careers and histories of these two leading candidates. Now, I think it`s inevitable it will be part of the decision-making process in the Democratic primary.

David Corn and Jess Bidgood out on the trail, thanks to both of you for giving us these updates tonight.

CORN: Thanks Ari.

BIDGOOD: Thanks very much.

MELBER: Appreciated. Coming up, we have tonight`s "Last Word", Speaker Pelosi getting under Donald Trump`s skin once again.


MELBER: In tonight`s "Last Word" Trump versus Pelosi. The Speaker`s ability to rankle the President has been the subject of much discussion and even more online means. It appears Pelosi has done it again with her reaction to Donald Trump`s comments that he would accept foreign dirt on election opponents.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): This President gave us once again evidence that he does not know right from wrong. It`s a very sad thing. Very sad that he does not know right from wrong. I believe he has been involved in a criminal cover-up.


MELBER: Trump responded today on "Fox & Friends."


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, was there a criminal cover-up?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE United States (via telephone): Well, you know what? I`ll go with what Mark Levine said, because nobody could say it better. It is a fascist statement, it`s a disgraceful statement. I call her "Nervous Nancy". She is a nervous wreck.

And I will tell you what, her to make a statement like that is outrageous.


MELBER: Speaker Pelosi offers her own theory about the President`s personal attacks on her.


PELOSI: How to deal with him, because you see what he does is, he projects, like when he says, Nancy`s a mess, that means he`s a mess. When he says, Nancy`s nervous, that means he`s nervous. He`s always projecting, disowning his own - somebody doesn`t have stamina.

It`s always about him. He`s always talking about himself, no matter who the subject of the sentence is. It`s always about him. I mean, I have people - I mean, really there has to be an intervention here--


MELBER: That`s Nancy Pelosi`s view of it. This is how she looks at her current job in a way. And Sunday night MSNBC, I want you to know my colleague Mika Brzezinski has a whole special headliners about Nancy Pelosi. Here is a clip of Pelosi talking about one moment between her and Trump that went viral.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When the State of the Union occurred nearly two weeks after the government re-opened the Speaker attentively followed every word.

TRUMP: --and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise, and the common good.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As the chamber applauded Pelosi replied with a clap that seemed to radiate with sarcasm.

PELOSI: At that moment he said he wanted to work in a bipartisan way, and while some will doubt my - what I say now, honestly, I was applauding and saying, now you`re talking, now you`re talking. But people thought it was more a mock of him than anything.


PELOSI: No. Honestly, it was, OK, now you`re talking.


MELBER: More insights like that in the special with Mika Brzezinski that Sunday, debuting right here on MSNBC at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

You can always find me on "The Beat" weeknights at 6:00 p.m. Eastern and on Monday we`ll be joined by  Neal Katyal and an exclusive interview with a musician who just debuted a new song "Today", taking on the Trump official who defended the child separation policy by saying, detention centers for migrant kids are basically, "Summer Camp".


VIC MENSA, AMERICAN SINGER: So much fine, you lose count of the days, playing hide and go seek inside of your cage Daddy love you, so he sent you away, to Camp America.


MELBER: I can tell you this is a powerful new song and video. It`s from rapper Vic Mensa and he will tell us all about why he is getting into this immigration discussion with his music Monday night on "THE BEAT."  Thanks for watching THE LAST WORD.  "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams" starts now.

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