RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Overnight tonight, we`ll be watching Tropical Storm Barry which is churning in the gulf right now and heading for Louisiana. The National Weather Service predicting the storm will make landfall over the central Louisiana coast early tomorrow morning as a CAT 1 hurricane.
They expect it to weaken as it moves inland, but rain is the biggest threat here. Forecasters say the slow moving storm will likely sit over that already water logged region for days. So once again, the country is praying for New Orleans and for competence in our nation`s disaster response if the worst comes to pass.
This is a developing situation. We do not know what the next 24 hours will bring, but MSNBC of course will be monitoring the storm all weekend. That does it for us for now though. We`ll see you again on Monday. Now it`s time for the "LAST WORD" where Ali Velshi is in for Lawrence tonight.
ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel. We`ll pick up a very busy Friday evening as you described the way they all are these days. Have yourself a great weekend.
MADDOW: Thanks, my friend.
VELSHI: I`m Ali Velshi in for Lawrence O`Donnell. Tonight, the stench was horrendous. That`s how one reporter covering Vice President Pence`s visit to a border patrol station described the conditions inside. Crowded cages, migrants who said they were hungry and couldn`t brush their teeth, many who had been there for more than a month.
We will bring you more of the stunning images from the border and President Trump versus Paul Ryan, the former House speaker comes out swinging saying this about Trump, "He didn`t know anything about government. I wanted to scold him all of the time." And of course the president hit back.
More on those stories later, but first, sex offender Jeffrey Epstein continues to be a problem for President Trump, a problem that`s not going away simply because Trump`s labor secretary has resigned. The president, for years before he took office, said that he was friends with Jeffrey Epstein.
He even said in a 2002 interview that Epstein was a terrific guy who is a lot of fun to be with. Last year when the "Miami Herald" released it`s big expose on the Epstein case, one Epstein victim said she was working at Trump`s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida when she was recruited to be a masseuse to Jeffrey Epstein.
And to complicate matters for Trump, the Epstein revelations keep coming. The "Miami Herald" reported last night that "at least a dozen new victims have come forward to claim they were sexually abused by Jeffrey Epstein following Epstein`s arrest Saturday in New Jersey.
Now tonight, the "New York Times" is reporting that Epstein "was accused of witness tampering on Friday by federal prosecutors who said he wired $350,000 to two people who were potential witnesses against him. Mr. Epstein sent the money to the potential witnesses in late November and early December 2018 shortly after the "Miami Herald" published an investigative report about a secret deal he had reached with authorities in Florida to avoid federal prosecution, prosecutors said.
And there are more details from Epstein accuser, Jennifer Araoz, who said that Epstein raped her when she was 15 years old. She described her relationship with Epstein in an exclusive interview with NBC`s Savannah Guthrie.
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC HOST: Did you ever think why did this older man want to hang out with a 14-year-old?
JENNIFER ARAOZ, EPSTEIN`S ACCUSER: I did. I but I didn`t overanalyze it because I did and I didn`t care. It`s really big because I just knew that I was young. I, you know, needed the money. He was -- I thought maybe just he needed companionship. I wasn`t sure what it was. I really didn`t ask any questions.
GUTHRIE: So the first time you went there alone, is that when something sexual happened for the first time?
ARAOZ: He brought me up to the upstairs room which had the massage room and he would tell me like I want to show you my favorite room in the house. I guess he was getting more comfortable and afterwards he basically said -- he transitioned into, you know, do you give good massages?
GUTHRIE: Promises to help her become a model or actress and help her family financially also kept her coming back, she says, even after he began sexually abusing her.
ARAOZ: I wasn`t thinking this is belittling. I was just a lost kid, you know, so I just -- it just seemed, OK. I don`t know.
GUTHRIE: And he have suggested he might help you that was this promise hanging over all of that.
ARAOZ: Yes. So I just -- I said this could only be beneficial, you know. This was a good thing. Just stick it through, you know. It will get easier it will get better so I just kept on going.
VELSHI: Jennifer Araoz is not involved in the new federal indictment against Epstein, but her lawyers have now asked a New York court for more information about Epstein and his associates in anticipation of filing a civil case against him.
Epstein`s attorneys have previously questioned Araoz`s credibility, but through these most recent revelations, the president has tried to distance himself from Jeffrey Epstein, claiming that he had a falling out with Epstein more than a decade ago.
But here`s a thing to keep in mind, a point that Lawrence made at the beginning of the week. The president has yet to say a bad word about Jeffrey Epstein. He still hasn`t condemned Epstein`s criminal acts, but Trump apparently realizes how bad those criminal acts are and how bad they could be.
CNN is reporting that privately, Trump was "stewing" over labor secretary Alex Acosta`s fate over his handling of Epstein`s 2008 case, fearing a steady stream of revelations. "There would just continue to be disclosures, one official said. There would be questions in this town and on the trail" meaning the campaign trail.
And that brings us to the resignation of Alex Acosta, a man who just two days ago said he had no intention of stepping down and who is now resigning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just want to let you know, this was him not me because I`m with him. He was a -- he`s a tremendous talent. He`s a Hispanic man. He went to Harvard, a great student. And in so many ways, I just hate what he`s saying now because we are going to miss him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Alex Acosta held a nearly hour long press conference earlier this week defending his role as a U.S. attorney in a lenient plea deal for Jeffrey Epstein. But his answers aren`t enough for congressional Democrats who are further complicating matters for Trump. House Democrats want Acosta to testify about his role in that plea deal and they also want a briefing from the Justice Department about the deal.
Leading off our discussion tonight are Joyce Vance, former U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama and Jennifer Rubin, opinion writer at "The Washington Post." Both are MSNBC contributors. Thank you to both of you for joining us on a Friday night.
Joyce, let`s start with you. There are inconsistencies in the argument that Alex Acosta put forward in his statement earlier this week, very different from his resignation, but he said things that others have come out and said simply aren`t true.
That victims had an opportunity to look at the sweetheart deal that he did or that they had other avenues that they could pursue. And there does seem to be evidence that he may have been in violation of rights that victims actually have under the law.
JOYCE VANCE, MSNBC CONRIBUTOR: You know, court has found that he did violate the victims` rights to be notified and it seems relatively clear that whatever they did in this case they made every effort to conceal it from victims, which is contrary to existing DOJ rules.
The suggestion that you can somehow avoid the obligation, you have to notify victims of the outcome of a case by not indicting it, is I think just very difficult to reconcile with the reasons that we have that policy in place.
So, everything that Acosta says in this regard contrary to the apology that he should have been making to these victims I think only dug him in deeper to problem.
VELSHI: That`s interesting because there are a lot of reasons, Jennifer, why cabinet secretaries come under fire in various scandals, but this one is pretty black and white. There is nobody in the country who thinks that the things Jeffrey Epstein did are tolerable on a societal level.
However, when asked about this, the president said today that he was willing to live with anything and he didn`t ask for Acosta`s resignation. Let`s listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe, Mr. President, that Epstein has become and Mr. Acosta has become a distraction to the Labor Department?
TRUMP: Well, Alex believed that. I`m willing to live with anything, John. I think you know me. I`ve lived through things that you wouldn`t believe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Jennifer, what do you make of the president`s handling of this?
JENNIFER RUBIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, this is typical for Trump. He never expresses any sympathy, any empathy, any horror on behalf of the victims. He says that Alex Acosta was victim. He says that Alex Acosta was doing a great job.
That`s almost verbatim, the same language he used for Rob Porter for example, the former White House staff secretary who there was very convincing pictorial evidence, was a spousal abuser. This is how Trump operates. He thinks that in any of these cases, the man who was accused is the victim.
And I would add just a couple of things. One, I think we shouldn`t ignore that very powerful interview at the top of your show with that girl who, still a girl in some ways, expressing I was just a kid. I didn`t know. If that doesn`t break your heart and explain the absolute mendacity, the malice, the evil that Jeffrey Epstein was encountering.
And that in some sense, that Alex Acosta took advantage of that as well. They were just kids. They wouldn`t know. They would be so frozen out of the process. He would get this wrapped up and go on with his career. And the other thing is that he did lie. He specifically said that he had to be the one to swoop in to do this because the state was going to let him go.
The state prosecutor spoke up yesterday and said, you know, the feds always have the option to bring their own case. And by the way, there was a 53- page indictment. He could have pursued that. He could have investigated that.
So, I have, really, very little comprehension for someone like Alex Acosta can look himself in the face and -- look at himself in the mirror in the morning. And even less understanding for how Donald Trump who knew about this settlement when he hired him could have tolerated him this long.
VELSHI: This is an important point, Joyce that Jenifer makes. This is not -- this came up in Alex Acosta`s hearing. This was a known fact. All of the details about this were not known and the "Miami Herald" has done a remarkable job in reporting it.
But Alex Acosta definitely suggested in his press conference that if not for him, things could have been worse. He talked about the rolling of the dice of going to court, taking Jeffrey Epstein to court versus agreeing to this very lenient deal.
Were you -- you are obviously a specialist at this having been a prosecutor. Were you able to make sense of what Alex Acosta was trying to get across and whether it made sense?
VANCE: It`s contrary to everything that I know about his office. For years I worked with the office he led. The Southern District of Florida based in Miami. You know, that`s an office that makes big drug cases and they make those cases by using witnesses who come with a lot of baggage, witnesses who had been deal drugs, who have engaged in all sorts of misconduct.
So the notion that somehow his office wouldn`t be able to convict in a case where dozens of victims had come forward because some of these girls were pictured on social media holding a beer. That just doesn`t make any sense. And no prosecutor views these sorts of sex abuse cases that way.
These are the cases where you charge hard because Jeffrey Epstein is a classic predator. And in that interview with Ms. Araoz, we hear everything that she is saying. He`s a dangerous predator. Alex Acosta`s obligation was to lock him up and get him off the streets so he couldn`t molest any other girls.
VELSHI: But this doesn`t end, Joyce. The "New York Times" is reporting that federal prosecutors want Jeffrey Epstein to be denied bail. The United States Attorney`s Office I Manhattan made the new witness tampering allegations that we heard about tonight in a court filing asking that Mr. Epstein be denied bail while he awaits trial saying the payments were evidence that he might try to influence witnesses if he were not detained.
Now, we only have that reporting on this. Joyce, we don`t know what it is, but we do know that after the "Miami Herald" story came out in late 2018, prosecutors in New York are now saying that he wired $350,000 to two people who may have been witnesses in a new investigation.
VANCE: You know, prosecutors have two options when it comes to detaining a defendant pretrial. One is to argue that he`s a flight risk and we expected that with Acosta. I think the less expected piece is these alternative prosecutors have of arguing that a defendant is a danger to the community.
And we saw that for instance in the Paul Manafort case with allegations that he was trying to witness tamper. This is that same thing. This is the allegation that if Acosta gets out of custody pretrial, he has shown a propensity to try to tamper with witnesses, to pay them off, to keep them from cooperating with law enforcement. And this was the sort of allegation that a judge should use to keep a witness locked up until he goes to trial.
VELSHI: Jennifer, while we are talking about people who have been -- who have left the Trump administration under scandal, there is another development -- Axios is reporting that President Trump has told confidants that he is eager to remove Dan Coates as the director of National Intelligence according to five sources who have discussed the matter directly with the president.
And the president seems to be dissatisfied by Dan Coates, which isn`t -- doesn`t probably come as much of a surprise to you, Jennifer, because of those people who surround the president as part of the national intelligence and national security apparatus. Dan Coates is thought by some to be an old hand, somebody who has been in government in the past and who has publicly it appears, disagreed with the president`s assessments made by the intelligence community.
RUBIN: He is about the only one left in this administration who has a reputation with both Democrats and Republicans for being a professional, whose word is -- and can be taken seriously.
What`s even worse about this report is there was a suggestion that John Bolton, about the most aggressive, the most partisan, the least calm individual one could ever imagine in government may be his replacement. And that is absolutely horrifying.
VELSHI: I want to ask you, Joyce, about the citizenship question. So much has happened this week it`s hard to keep track of it. The president was asked today about his comments yesterday in which he appeared to drop the efforts to get the citizenship question unto the census, but suggested that what he was doing now with an executive order was a change of course. Let`s listen to this conversation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you back down on the issue?
TRUMP: No. No. Not only didn`t I back down, I backed up because anybody else would have given this up a long time ago. The problem is we had three very unfriendly courts. They were judges that weren`t exactly in love with this whole thing and they were wrong. But it would have taken a long time to get through those courts. You understand that better than anybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: It`s an unusual statement, Joyce, not one that we are entirely unfamiliar with from this president, but we had three unfriendly courts. The judges weren`t in love with this whole thing. They were wrong. It would have taken a long time to get through the courts so I`m just going to handle it this way.
VANCE: Nobody likes losing in court, but that`s how our system works. When people have problems that they can`t resolve on their own, they go to court and we agree that when the highest court in the land speaks and decides a case, everyone lines up behind that decision, love it or hate it, and follows it. That`s everyone except for Donald Trump.
And this suggestion that he`s made and one of the spokes people sort of embellished on it earlier today and said that he was tired of abiding by the courts and being controlled by them. Every single person in the Republican leadership on The Hill needs to be asked will you continue to support this president if he refuses to follow the law because that is by definition a constitutional crisis.
We averted it this week and whoever it was, I suspect folks in the Justice Department who talked the president down, he certainly did back down this week and agree to follow the court`s ruling. But with him, that will be a constant threat going forward, this risk that he will not abide the rule of law.
VELSHI: Joyce Vance and Jennifer Rubin, we so depend on you to provide the analysis that helps us understand these fast moving developments. Thanks to both of you.
Coming up, Republicans including Mike Pence went to the border today where they saw a severely crowded detention facility where nearly 400 men were being held in cages without cots to sleep on and where a reporter covering the vice president`s visit described the stench as horrendous, that`s next.
VELSHI: Breaking news tonight on the humanitarian crisis at the southern border, disturbing new images capture the overcrowded conditions inside the Border Patrol station in McAllen, Texas where Vice President Mike Pence toured the facility today with a group of congressional Republicans.
Josh Dawsey of the "Washington Post" who was the designated reporter traveling with the vice president wrote "after negotiating with the V.P.`s office, pool was taken into an outdoor portal at the McAllen border station around 5:00 p.m. where almost 400 men were in caged fences with no cots.
The stench was horrendous. The cages were so crowded it would have been impossible for all the men to lie on the concrete. When the men saw the press arrive, they began shouting and wanted to tell us they have been in there for 40 days or longer. The men said they were hungry and wanted to brush their teeth. It was sweltering hot. Agents guarding the cages wearing face masks. Most of the men did not speak English and looked dirty."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are not a terrorist. We are not a terrorist. We are not criminals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Earlier in the day, the vice president applauded Customs and Border Protection "providing humane and compassionate care after touring a different facility that Dawsey notes was new, clean, and relatively empty, filled with cots, medical supplies and snacks and where children were watching T.V."
After seeing the overcrowd and unsanitary conditions at McAllen, Dawsey says he, "Asked Pence afterwards if he was OK with what he had said. On the first two times, he didn`t directly say yes or no and said he expected to see it and wasn`t surprised. He later said he obviously wasn`t OK with it because he`d been trying to fix the system."
And tonight, the vice president tweeted this response, "The DHS facility in McAllen is a prime example of why we need to secure our borders. The facility is overcrowded and our system is overwhelmed. It is time for Democrats in Congress to step up, do their jobs and end this crisis."
These shocking pictures coming just hours after the House Oversight Committee held a hearing about the appalling conditions for migrant adults and children at the southern border that the Trump administration has tried to dismiss as unsubstantiated. Several Democrats who visited facilities in El Paso in Clint, Texas last week testified to what they saw including freshman Democratic congresswoman, alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): This is a manufactured crisis because the cruelty is manufactured. This is a manufactured crisis because there is no need for us to do this. There is no need for us to overcrowd and to detain and under-resource.
There is no need for us to arrest innocent people and treat them no differently than criminals when they are pursuing their basic human rights. These are the women that we spoke to. It`s their handwriting. And while we are being asked to speak only to officers, we are not getting the accounts of migrants, of their treatment, of what they are experiencing.
And so when these women tell me that they were put into a cell and that their sink was not working and we tested the sink ourselves and the sink was not working and they were told to drink out of a toilet bowl, I believe them. I believe these women.
I believed the canker sores that I saw in their mouths because they were only allowed to be fed un-nutritious food. I believe that when they said they were sleeping on concrete floors for two months I believe them.
And what was worse about this, Mr. Chairman, was the fact that there were American flags hanging all over these facilities, that children being separated from their parents in front of an American flag, that women were being called these names under an American flag, we cannot allow for this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: We`ll discuss the humanitarian crisis at the southern border after the break with Angel Padilla and Danielle Moodie-Mills.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Today in a few hours, Vice President Pence and the head of Homeland Security are taking the press and Congress people into detention centers and we are the ones who said they were crowded. They are crowded because we have a lot of people, but they`re in good shape.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: They`re in good shape. That was President Trump this morning calling the border detention centers in good shape ahead of the Vice President`s visit to McAllen, Texas. But these stunning new images -- take a look at vice president. Look at his body language while this is all going on.
These were captured by reporters traveling with Pence revealing appalling conditions, which by the way, you`ve heard about several times from reporters, from lawyers, from members of Congress. But now the vice president is there with the cameras and you see men in cages, too many of them to lie down, crowded into cages having gone weeks without showers or being able to brush their teeth.
Joining us now, Angel Padilla, the national policy director for the progressive activist group Indivisible, and Danielle Moodie-Mills, she is the host the terrifically named "Woke AF" on SiriusXM. Welcome to both of you.
Danielle, what were we supposed to think was supposed to happen there? I mean, is the idea that because the vice president was going down there, that maybe they`d get some heads up and clean up the place because he is sitting there with his arms crossed, not really looking, making eye contact with anyone, watching what we have been hearing people come on this show and this channel over and over again and say is happening.
DANIELLE MOODIE-MILLS, #WOKEAF HOST, SIRIUSXM : He was supposed to go there and do the great razzle-dazzle, show the American people how clean, how safe, how sanitary these conditions were and how the people on the left like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez were blowing everything out of proportion.
MOODIE-MILLS: And in fact he shows up and what does he see? Everything that we`ve been told, just like you said, just like the reporting she had shown us, everything that we`ve known over the past several months that had been coming out of these camps, that they`re unsanitary, that they are unsafe.
That the smell, the stench that is coming out of these facilities, the scabies, the flu, all of the disease that is being created by this administration, right? When you can get up in court at the Ninth district federal court and say we don`t have to provide you with soap and toothbrushes and any diapers or anything, blankets, cots or anything like that, what do you think is going to happen?
Do you think that everyone is going to end up being OK or do you think an outbreak is going to occur? And that more people are going to die. 24 adults have already died in U.S. custody. Six children have already died in U.S. custody because of their wilful neglect, because of a strategy that they have put in place that says that if we make it so uncomfortable, so detestable, so horrible--
VELSHI: That they won`t come.
MOODIE-MILLS: --then they won`t come.
VELSHI: Yes, Angel, we listened to some of the testimony that Danielle was just talking about by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez just before this block. By the way, viewers may have noticed that at the end of her sentence they all looked over to the side because it did seem that somebody had taken ill, that was what that was about.
But to this last point angel Angel, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez mentioned that these are facilities in which the American flag is put up, over which the American flag flies. So the idea that these are detention centers and that they are unsavory and that they are unhealthy, there is really no reason for this to happen in 2019.
If you want to deter emigration, there are different manners in which you can deal with this. This does appear to be inhumane, this does appear to emulate some of the worst things that we`ve seen in history about the detention of people.
ANGEL PADILLA, NATIONAL POLICY DIRECTOR, INDIVISIBLE: Yes, that`s right. And people, there are thousands of people right now that are suffering at the border and you know, people are outraged as they should be you know, just today there were 800 events through the Lights for Liberty actions calling for the end of detention.
800 events across five continents that`s how outraged people are and they should be but the two most important things that people need to know, anyone who`s outraged about what`s happening at the border, anyone who`s outrage about families being separated or the raids that might happen starting on Sunday, they need to know two things.
Number one, this is about choices, this is all because of deliberate choices made by this administration, it`s not about a lack of resources, it`s not about a lack of money, it`s because they are choosing to do this. Their purpose of doing this is to inflict as much harm and as much trauma on immigrant families as possible.
It`s about choices, that`s number one. Number two is that the U.S. Congress - the U.S. Congress pays for this. They are able to do this because Congress keeps giving this administration money and so one of the most important thing that anyone can do is make sure that their members of Congress know that they do not want their tax dollars going towards detention, going towards harming families.
VELSHI: There`s a lot of money actually depending on how you look at it, if it`s the border patrol detention centers that are run by the government, it`s upwards of $200 a night and one would think, regular folks watching this understand what they can do with $200 a night, it doesn`t look like that and if it`s the private detention facilities, they`re upward of $700 a night which could probably get some of us a room at the Four Seasons,
So it`s a little puzzling as to why this is happening, why we are paying for this. However to Angel`s point, should we not be funding because there were a number of Democrats who voted against this funding bill, that finally did pass because the argument that Customs and Border patrol and DHS is making is that we don`t have the money for this.
MOODIE-MILLS: But that is a lie, it is a lie and it`s one of the many lies that this administration has been telling us. This is not about funding because if it were about funding then Democrats women voted against the bill. The reason why the bill, Mitch McConnell`s bill was voted against because it didn`t have any guard rails to it, because they wanted provision specifically to make sure that there were going to be doctors, that there was going to be nurses, that the sanitary conditions that we need, that are required under law were actually going to be funded.
This was just money given to what? Trump`s wall, given to whatever and so no, this is not about money.
VELSHI: Let`s listen to what - we saw Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, testifying next to her was Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib who toured border facilities her own self, last week. Let`s listen to what she had to say in today`s hearing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D-MI): I spoke to CPB agents even though they told us not to speak to them too. Remember that? And I said what do you think we need to do because you guys are overwhelmed. They said one of them, stop sending money, it`s not working. Another one said, I wasn`t trained for this, I am not a social worker.
I am not a medical care worker. He actually said I want to be at the border, that`s what I was trained to be at. The separate - the one other one, the last one Mr. Chairman, the separation policy isn`t working he said.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Angel, one of the tenets of our profession as journalists is to bear witness, to show people what`s really happening and that has succeeded. We have shown people what`s going on, we`ve had people at the border for over a year. There are lawyers and advocates and people like you who are showing them and now we have members of Congress.
And then we even have the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security, everybody and today the Vice President confirms the same thing. What does it do? Where does it end? How does it change?
PADILLA: Well, it`s - it`s super important. I mean look, what this administration does is operate in secrecy. They steal money from other agencies in order to and continue their enforcement practices. That`s why it`s so important to see things like that OIG report that you mentioned, shedding light into all of those abuses, all that mismanagement, all of the mistreatment that we`re seeing at the border.
But the bottom line is that this is - this is something that that we`ve known for a long time, this is nothing new. This is something that happened before Trump, it just has been accelerated and weaponized by this administration and the bottom line is that we`ve been investing in enforcement and have been separating families for a long time and it is time for us to stop doing that.
That`s why we`re part of the defund hate coalition. We`re taking - pressuring members of Congress to start defunding those hateful agencies because families have been separated at the border and internally.
VELSHI: It`s remarkable in 2019, we`re separating parents from their children. Angel Padilla and Danielle Moodie-Mills, thank you both for joining us tonight. Coming up, Paul Ryan has left Washington but he`s back on Donald Trump`s mind today for what Ryan says about Trump in a new book. That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: And so Paul Ryan will take his place in history as simply the worst of this country`s Speakers of the House of Representatives. And he has earned that position in history through unprecedented and unrelenting cowardice as Speaker of the House, an office that is constitutionally capable of containing and controlling an out of control President but Paul Ryan surrendered all of his powers to the Trump presidency.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: That was Lawrence`s assessment of House Speaker Paul Ryan`s tenure on the day that he announced, he would resign his speakership and now a new book from Politico`s Tim Alberta has confirmed what Lawrence and many others had assumed about Paul Ryan, that throughout the first two years of the Trump presidency, Paul Ryan disapproved of Trump`s behavior as President.
But was simply on willing to use his office to do anything about it. According to newly released excerpts from the forthcoming book `American Carnage,` Ryan left the Speakership because he could not stand the idea of another two years with President Trump. The young conservative crusader who once tried to raise the retirement age in America to 70 reportedly saw his own retirement at 48 as a "escape patch."
President Trump responded to reports of Ryan`s comments today both on Twitter and in a conversation with reporters on the White House - White House South lawn.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD J. TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So Paul Ryan was not a talent. He wasn`t a leader. Paul Ryan was a lame duck for a long time as Speaker. He was unable to raise money. He lost control of the House. The only success Ryan had was the time that he was with me because we got taxes cut. I got regulation cut so I did that mostly without him.
But for Paul Ryan to be complaining is pretty amazing. I remember day in Wisconsin a state that I want where I stood up and made a speech and then I introduced him and they booed him off the stage, 10000 people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: The only success Paul Ryan has was the time that he was with me. When we come back, I`ll talk to Charlie Sykes and Jennifer Rubin about Paul Ryan`s sudden change of heart when it comes to President Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: What`s your take on the President`s comments and if you`re--
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI): I haven`t seen all of his comments.
REPORTER: The President`s lawyer John Dowd has just resigned. Does that concern you?
RYAN: Didn`t know anything about it. I don`t know the content of that conversation.
REPORTER: Do you believe the President though when he says, do you believe the President?
RYAN: I didn`t see his interview. I`ve been little busy today. I haven`t been looking at Twitter.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: That was how former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan used to respond to questions about Donald Trump but in a new book out next week, Ryan is finally letting the world know what he really thinks of the President. Joining me now is Charlie Sykes, Editor in Chief of the Bulwark and an MSNBC Political Analyst.
Jennifer Rubin is also back with us. Welcome to both of you, thank you for being here. Charlie, you know I`m a sort of wonky economics guy and when Paul Ryan showed up on the scene, I really - I used to like him, he always had a board like I do with numbers on and he tries to explain graphs and he gets to these wonky conversations and I thought that would sustain him.
I thought that was the thing. He was going to be able to both intellectualize and deal with the economics of a conservative Congress. What went wrong?
CHARLIE SYKES, EDITOR IN CHIEF, BULWARK & MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, pretty much everything. I mean Donald Trump rolled in and just crashed all of Paul Ryan`s vision of the party. I mean, when you think about it, you know, I mean, I`m old enough to remember when Paul Ryan was in fact the future of the Republican Party, when he was the intellectually and that was all cast aside.
And the way you describe him is he really was the anti-Trump, he cared about policy, he cared about a lot of those things but when push came to shove, he made that Faustian bargain, that he was going to keep his mouth shut, he was going to keep his head down and he was going along with Donald Trump maybe because he was hoping that someday that Donald Trump would pivot or pay attention to this information.
Or maybe he just simply thought that it was worth it to make that bargain in order to get the tax cuts but the reality is look, his legacy is badly tarnished and I will tell you this. I`m in Wisconsin right now. Trump was in Wisconsin today. Lot of the Republicans and elected officials in Wisconsin owe their political careers to Paul Ryan and worked with him for decades.
Not one of them defended Paul Ryan today, not one of them pushed back against Donald Trump`s criticisms and that tells you what`s happened to the Republican Party and what`s happened to Paul Ryan.
VELSHI: You are both conservatives, both of whom do not allow your reputation to be tarnished because - by making a Faustian bargain like Paul Ryan made. Jennifer, why is it so hard? Why is it so hard for conservatives like Paul Ryan and there are others like him who have read conservative work, who understand conservative economics and can get out there in the arena and make an argument in favor of it.
Why couldn`t they do that and push Trump aside?
Well, they certainly could have done it t various junctures before he was elected. After he was elected, I think several things happened. One is just as Charlie said, they thought well, this guy isn`t so bad, we can get deregulation, we can get a bigger military budget, we can get tax reform.
So we just have to keep the bear from getting upset with us and therefore we`ll just ignore everything else and we`ll just be pleased with these little crumbs. Second thing is these people are scared of their own shadow, they live to be re-elected. You know Susan Collins is not exactly a conservative made a comment the other day that all around her Republicans in New England, they either retire or they die.
And neither one of those options seem interesting to her. Does that speak volumes about what motivates these people? What? That they`re not going to have any life beyond the Senate, that we`d be willing to change your vote or to change your viewpoint in order to keep the same job year after year?
That unfortunately is the reality.
VELSHI: Remember the day though, remember those days, Charlie? Remember after the recordings on the bus, I mean Paul Ryan felt and looked like a guy with a spine.
SYKES: And he did and he did something extraordinary where he disinvited - he disinvited the President. I mean the nominee, from his own event and you know, Ryan Preibus, we got to get him off the ticket and they had the conference call with the House Republicans where he said I am done with him and that was a decisive moment.
But it wasn`t decisive in the way that I think a lot of us thought it would be and I think this is kind of the tragedy and a lot of people don`t like to hear that but the tragedy of Paul Ryan, look a lot of Republicans have caved in to Donald Trump, who you know, they compromise their values and their principles.
But what makes ran a little bit different is he knew better. He always knew who Donald Trump was. He knew what Donald Trump was all about. He was privately discussed that about it. He didn`t have a different opinion than I think than Jennifer and I had about Donald Trump.
So in a lot of ways his capitulation is the most disappointing and it`s the hardest to defend.
VELSHI: Charlie Sykes, Jennifer Rubin, thank you again for joining me tonight. We`ll be right back with NBC`s Richard Engel who has important new reporting about what it looks like on the other side of Trump`s trade war with China.
VELSHI: President Trump continues to repeat the lie that China is paying tariffs to help fund the $16 billion in aid that he`s designated for U.S. farmers.
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TRUMP: We are doing great with farmers now in a lot of ways. One way is we`re giving $16 billion out of all the tariffs that we`re collecting. We`re collecting you know, tens of billions of dollars of tariffs from China, they never paid a cent since--
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VELSHI: No, no, we don`t collect tariffs from China. Countries don`t pay tariffs. Consumers who buy imported products pay tariffs. Only Americans pay the Trump tariffs imposed on China. NBC news Chief Foreign Correspondent, Richard Engel has traveled all across China, witnessing a country looking to make its mark as the 21st century super power.
Here`s a look at Richard`s new report which examines how China is challenging the United States for global dominance in technology and trade.
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RICHARD ENGEL, CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT, NBC: To see what fuels that sense that China is on the rise, I`m heading to one of its most dynamic new cities. And I got to ride on China`s new high speed rail network. One of my fellow travelers happened to be a lawyer named Sandy Shang.
SANDY SHANG, LAWYER FROM CHINA: We want our country to be the number one.
ENGEL: Number 1 country in the world?
SHANG: Of course.
ENGEL: Leader of the world?
SHANG: Of course, why not?
ENGEL: And what happens to the U.S.?
SHANG: Number 2.
ENGEL: Number 2?
SHANG: Why not?
ENGEL: No one champions that message more than President Xi Jinping. President Xi mixes Chinese nationalism with state controlled capitalism. The combination allows him to roll out huge projects very quickly. And none is bigger than the so called Belton road initiative. It`s a massive infrastructure project that spans multiple continents.
You might call it a Silk Road of the 21st century.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The United States clearly needs to keep an eye on the Belton road. I think there are geopolitical motivations, there are economic motivations, there maybe military motivations that`s entirely legitimate concern out there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: Joining me now, good treat, is NBC news Chief Foreign Correspondent, Richard Engel. Richard, when you go to Africa and you need to talk about infrastructure and development, they`re talking about China. When you go to Eastern Europe and you talk about infrastructure and development, they`re talking about China.
When you go anywhere and you talk about 5G, they`re talking about China. We are obsessed with China and trade or at least the President the United States is. China`s got a - they`re playing a bigger game than we are.
ENGEL: I think a lot of people would say that President Trump is focused in the - in the smallest of terms and in the shortest of possible timeframes. He wants to get a better deal and get the Chinese to buy some more agricultural product.
VELSHI: Which is not a bad goal.
ENGEL: Which is not a bad goal but China thinks we`re looking to dominate the future and they are working to develop these massive infrastructure projects. So the Belton road initiative which we just talked about, not a very original name but a very important project.
It is setting up infrastructure projects all over the world. Roads, bridges, ports, commercial terminals not inside China but in all the countries that China wants to trade with.
VELSHI: China is paying for people`s infrastructure in order to get access to their goods and their markets.
ENGEL: And to bring them back to Beijing. Remember the old expression? All roads lead to Rome?
ENGEL: Now it`s all roads are going to lead to Beijing.
VELSHI: So there are a lot of ways to think about them, if you were on a train, you can get from Beijing to Shanghai in about four hours on a high speed train, that`s the distance between New York and Chicago or New York and Atlanta. You can barely get between those places by the plane.
ENGEL: Nice train by the way.
ENGEL: Push a button, you go flat. You can move through aisle.
VELSHI: And that is just for getting jostled around. That`s just an accessible version of infrastructure. They are - they see themselves as the builders of the world.
ENGEL: Not only are they building, these projects these infrastructure projects. The way they are set up is they are generally loaning the money to these countries to build the project with ferocious terms, should they default so pick a country in - an African country or a country in Southeast Asia.
Sure, the Chinese will come in, they`ll build the roads, they`ll build the commercial port but should they not pay it back, they basically have to seize an enormous amount of rights and responsibilities back to China. So some people say that China is building an empire, it is laying the foundation for a new Silk Road.
China has support to do this, other empires, other countries have done this including China in its own past.
ENGEL: So the question is, is President Trump right to focus on agricultural goods and focus on trade while this larger - all this larger rivalries--
VELSHI: I got 30 seconds. Is China able to wait out America`s political ambitions in terms of trying to get this deal through because they don`t actually face elections the same way we do?
ENGEL: Yes, in the 30 second answer, they can and they are counting on it. They see right now this moment as a strategic opportunity while the U.S. is divided, its attention is focused elsewhere, it has been proven that you can manipulate the political system from the outside.
They do see this as an opportunity for China not to just attain global pole position but to reattain what China sees as its natural historic place.
VELSHI: I`m looking forward to seeing the whole thing. Richard, good to see you as always. Thank you for joining me.
You can watch Richard`s full report on assignment "On Assignment, Made in China" Sunday 10:00 p.m. Eastern right here on MSNBC. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.
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