Trump casts doubt on Russian interference. TRANSCRIPT: 8/2/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell.

Guests: Bob Inglis, Daniella Gibbs Leger, Salud Carbajal, Michael Weiss,David Corn

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC):  I will not. You`re not going to take my job away from me. I take this very personally. This committee is not going to be the dead end committee on things that matter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST:  And voila, just like that. Senate Judiciary Committee approves Graham`s Asylum Abuse Fix. Lindsey Graham`s legislation now heads to the full senate and potentially a Democratic controlled House where it will almost certainly be killed by the Democrats.

So this was a full on stunt. But at least Senator Graham did his part for the Trump agenda and for his own conservative base. Happy re-election season. That does it for us tonight. I`ll see you tomorrow morning on my show "A.M. JOY" on 10:00 a.m. eastern right here on MSNBC. Now it`s time for the "LAST WORD" and my friend Ali Velshi is here sitting in for Lawrence tonight. Hello for the second time today, Ali.

ALI VELSHI, MSNBC HOST:  For the second time indeed. The first time was at 3:00 today and every time I have you on my other show I get a lot of tweets about your intellect, about your passion, about your knowledge and I got all of that today. But I got something else.

REID:  Okay.

VELSHI:  I got a lot of tweets about your -- your blouse.

REID:  Oh, people like the blouse.

VELSHI:  People are fascinated by it. They don`t like it. They are fascinated by it. They want it. They want to know what it`s all about and I can`t see what`s on it but there are a lot of words.

REID:  A lot of words. You know, I like words.

VELSHI:  I know you like words.

REID:  I like words. Yes, it`s a nerdy blouse. It`s a like a pretty nerdy blouse.

VELSHI:  I love it.

REID:  But I got tell you, whenever you are on, a lot of the tweets that you get are me live tweeting your show.

VELSHI:  I appreciate that Joy. Always a pleasure to see you twice in a day.

REID: You`re great.

VELSHI:  You have yourself a great weekend and we`ll see you tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m.

REID:  You too.

VELSHI:  Good evening, I`m Ali Velshi in for Lawrence O`Donnell. Tonight the magic number for the first time, a majority of House Democrats back the impeachment inquiry against President Trump. We`ll talk with the latest congressman to join the movement later in the show.

And, are we already seeing Russian influence in the U.S. presidential primaries? How one moment from this week`s debates might have started a disinformation campaign? Is Vladimir Putin most afraid of President Kamala Harris?

But first red flags for Republicans as growing number of Republican congressional retirements in recent weeks that are stoking party concerns particularly the latest one -- a surprise announcement from rising star Congressman Will Hurd who said that he would not seek re-election in his highly competitive Texas district.

Congressman Hurd who had long been considered part of the future of the Republican Party is the lone black Republican in the House. The congressman represents a new swing district in Texas. Hillary Clinton won the district in 2016.

Hurd was barely re-elected in 2018. His seat might be hard for Republicans to hang on to. Hurd is just one of six House Republicans who have announced their imminent departure from Capitol Hill in the last two weeks.

Two more Republicans announced earlier in the cycle including Susan Brooks who party official had chosen to lead recruitment efforts in their attempt to claw back the majority in the House. Now, Brooks is one of two Republican women leaving the House, meaning just 11 Republican women are now seeking re-election.

"Politico" reports a fun stat that`s making its way around GOP circles -- There are more men named Jim in the House than Republican women running for re-election. It`s clear that there are at least two reasons for many of the retirements. The first one is changing demographics.

Both Congressman Hurd and Congressman Pete Olson of Texas narrowly won re- election in 2018 and many analysts predict their races will be tough to win another time. But it`s also obvious that the president himself has been a big factor in theses exits.

Hurd was one of only four Republicans along with the also retiring Susan Brooks who voted to condemn Trump`s racist tweets against four Democratic minority congresswomen, tweets that Hurd condemned again in a new interview to the "Washington Post," "When you imply that because someone doesn`t look like you and telling them to go back to Africa or wherever, you are implying that they are not an American. And you`re implying that they have less worth than you."

The transformation of the Republican Party to the party of Trump has not been pretty for many Republicans and of the retirements, none highlights that more than Will Hurd`s. Here is the former Republican congressman Mark Sanford on MSNBC.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. MARK SANFORD (R-SC):  To state the obvious, some of the president peace rhetoric is destructive. It`s harmful not only in selling a message, but frankly in building a party. And if we increasingly dwindle to being a party of white men, we got a real problem given the trend lines within our country in terms of demographic diversity.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI:  Now, if past is precedent, expect this trend to continue for Republicans. If you are not fully onboard the Trump train it might be your time to get off. And there is one very big problem with that according to former Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson.

Gerson writes in the "Washington Post," "Trump`s divisiveness is getting worse, not better. He makes racist comments, appeals to racist sentiments and inflames racist passions. The rationalization that he is not, deep down in his heard, really a racist is meaningless.

Trump`s continued offenses mean that a large portion of his political base is energized by racist tropes and the language of white grievance. And it means whatever their intent that those who play down or excuse or try to walk past these offenses are enablers."

Leading off tour discussion tonight, Bob Inglis, former Republican congressman from South Carolina and the executive director of Republican.org. Daniella Gibbs Leger, former special assistant to President Obama and the executive vice president of communications for the Center for American Progress. And David Corn, Washington bureau chief for "Mother Jones" and an MSNBC political analyst.

Welcome to all three of you. Thank you for helping me kick-off the show on a Friday night. Daniela, let me begin with you. The departure of Will Hurd is a big deal for a lot of Republicans -- I`m sorry -- who felt that there were still people in the party who could sort of help carry it forward in an era after Donald Trump.

DANIELLA GIBBS LEGER, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT OF COMMUNICATIONS, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS:  Yes, this is a very big loss for them. And honestly, it`s a little unfair to Congressman Hurd to expect him to carry the weight of all the Republicans who don`t abide by Donald Trump`s racism. And honestly I feel like it`s almost too late for the party now.

If you are going to remain a Republican like you said, it is Donald Trump`s Republican Party. So, if you`re going to remain a part of that party then, yes, you are signing on. You are co-signing whether you like it or not to his racism. And I guess William Hurd just was like, I`m not going to do this anymore.

VELSHI:  Bob Inglis, there was a tweet from the "Texas Tribune`s" Abbey Livingston about reaction to Will Hurd`s retirement. It reads, "My phone is absolutely exploding with texts from Republican operatives reacting to the retirement. All have a word I don`t normally use on this forum. And my mother highly disapproves of but it rhymes with duck.

BOB INGLIS, FORMER TEXAS CONGRESSMAN:  Okay, I think I got it.

VELSHI:  Yes.

INGLIS:  Yes, I think that it is a real problem of course for the GOP to have Will Hurd retiring because that district is going to be hard to hold. That`s what those tweets are about, of course, is the difficulty of holding that district in Republican hands.

But, you know, I think that my party, the Republican Party has to re- examine where we are and it`s time for Republicans to stand against what the president is doing here with the racist tweets and the disputation of climate science. He sounds a little bit like Bolsonaro of Brazil really, which is not usually where we expect the president of the United States to be.

VELSHI:  So some members of Congress run on their record. Some run on policies and some run on momentum. And the problem here is the momentum, David Corn, seems to be with the president at least amongst those voters who are going to cast their ballot for Republican.

The Associated Press had another interview with another Republican retiree form Congress, Paul Mitchell, and he says, "There is a mood of tremendous frustration with the lack of accomplishment," he said in an interview this week, days after stunning colleagues when he said he was leaving after just two House terms.

"Why run around like a crazy man when the best you can hope is that maybe you`ll see some change at the margins." How does this stop from becoming a mass movement of people who are just frustrated with Donald Trump having taken over the Republican Party?

DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  I don`t think there will be a mass movement of people frustrated with Trump because the base of the Republican Party is with him. You know, we`re two and a half years into the Trump experiment, the Trump disaster depending on your perspective.

And it`s taken this long for some Republicans to start bailing and only a handful of numbers. I mean, the party in the House, the Republican Party in the House was 99.95 percent I think white before Will Hurd announced he was leaving.

And we`ve had the racist tweets. We have seen no one in the -- really in the leadership position of the House or the Senate, Kevin McCarthy or Mitch McConnell come out and distance themselves from this. I mean, Trump has taken the party out of the closet in terms of its racism.

I think the Republicans have always had a problem. It goes back to the southern strategy with Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan decrying welfare queens talking about state`s rights. You had the Willy Horton ad for the George H. W. Bush campaign, and so there`s always been this flirtation, if not, more so with racist tropes as they like to say.

Trump has taken the party fully out of the closet, taken off the hood if you want to say it that way. And most of the party at least the people in control, say yes, not a big problem. And yet people are still coming to the rallies, you know, cheering him on.

So I think, you know, I really respect Congressman Inglis. He knows that, but I think the time to stand up is really almost too late. I think you guys got to start a new party or at least, you know, burn this one down because you`re not getting it back.

VELSHI:  Bob what do you say to that?

INGLIS:  Well, there is another narrative, you know. There are Jack Kemp Republicans like me, people that believe that conservativism works if it works for everyone. If it does, then it`s good philosophy. If it doesn`t, then it`s not very good.

And so there are those of us who are Jack Kemp Republicans. There are people like Nikki Haley took down the confederate flag in South Carolina. So, there are some different folks out there ready to lead a grand opportunity party if we could get away and break away from the grumpy old party, which I agree it has become.

And so that is grumpy old party will not survive, but I hope that out of its ashes can come a free enterprise party that believes in the sanctity of life, that believes in a smaller government and an efficient government, that believes the government can do things.

It believes that America should lead the world. And that believes that free enterprise can solve things like climate change if we just get the right policies in place. So, that party can exist, but I agree we have got to jettison this grumpy old party, which really is headed to the ash heap of history.

VELSHI:  The problem Daniella is that it`s seeming in the last few weeks something more than grumpy, starting with the president`s attacks on the Republican congress -- or Democratic congresswomen and then his comments about Elijah Cummings and Baltimore, and then last night he was carrying on about inner cities. You know, it`s more -- it seems more than a flirtation with racism. Now, it seems like all out dating.

LEGER:  Yes, it is. It`s marriage basically. And I just have to push back a little bit. This did not start with Donald Trump, okay. Let`s not forget that Sarah Palin was out there whipping up those crowds and talking about President Obama and highlighting his "otherness."

And all the ugliness that we saw that came with President Obama`s election and the rise of the Tea Party and some of the racist stuff that we saw around then. So, to David`s point, I think Trump just bought out a lot of the racism that has sort have been dormant and maybe behind the scenes.

We`ve heard those recent Reagan-Nixon tapes where President Reagan, everyone`s favorite lauded Republican president, was calling black people monkeys and they were laughing about it. Racism has been a part of this Republican Party for decades and they just found somebody in Donald Trump who wasn`t afraid to embrace it. And now people are feeling emboldened in the country to come out and talk about it freely.

VELSHI:  So, there are people in the Republican Party who are fighting back against the idea that losing Will Hurd in Congress is an actual loss for the party, David. Texas precinct chair, Kathy Ponce says, "Good riddance to Will Hurd." Let`s listen to what she says.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATHY PONCE, TEXAS PRECINCT CHAIR:  I am he can ecstatic and happy that Will Hurd will no longer be seeking re-election for his congressional district. He is not a Republican values. He is a RINO so, you know, Texas needs to start standing with true conservatives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI:  RINO, meaning a Republican in name only. That`s the accusation if you are a Republican these days who doesn`t agree with President Trump.

CORN:  He was the one black Republican and he is not even a Republican. I don`t know what that means, but I also -- I only expand this out one bit to.

Will Hurd not only was the one African-American in the House on the Republican side, he was also one of the -- maybe the only Republican member of Congress who seem to give a damn about Russia`s attack on the 2016 election instead of the guys on the intelligence committee who ran around and trying to distract and say it didn`t happen, or that a FISA warrant is far more important than the attack on an American presidential election and Donald Trump`s involvement with that.

He was out there saying this is bad. We need to investigate this. We need to be honest and was sort of a counterpoint to Devin Nunes. And now the Republican Party is fully on the side of, hey, nothing happened. And that again is bad for the Republican -- another reason to quote Congressman Inglis, the party could end up on the ash heap of history.

VELSHI:  Right. And Bob Inglis, he was an intelligence guy -- Will Hurd came from the intelligence community so, he had a good understanding of this. But Justin Amash tweeted today to a point that you were making a little while ago.

"There was a time when the GOP establishment hated Donald Trump. Then they realized they could use a man like this -- unprincipled, transactional, shameless -- to push the agenda. McConnell and McCarthy are giddy about Trump. Conservatives in Congress are the ones privately horrified."

Tell me about this. Why are conservatives in Congress privately horrified, if you listen to what Justin Amash says, but the leadership is not?

INGLIS:  I don`t know. That doesn`t make a lot of sense to me. I think everybody is pretty much horrified. But -- and terrified of the activist in the party. That`s true by the way of the Democratic Party too, it`s why the Democrats are doing such a good job right now in their debates, of seeing that Donald Trump gets a second term because they`re terrified of the activists in the party.

And that`s our challenge in Americ. It`s not just the Republican Party, but the fact that the Democratic Party has people with some really wild ideas that draw the party too far and out of the mainstream.

VELSHI:  I would hear that but --

INGLIS:  Something happens on the Republican side --

VELSHI:  -- the wild ideas about giving everybody health care are different from wild ideas about being racist, wouldn`t you argue the second?

INGLIS:  That`s true except this one, the big one that -- the Democrats really don`t understand is if you treat abortion as a sacrament of some sort and you run a high priest or high priestess of abortion in America, you cannot win the south. You cannot win Texas. And you cannot win the presidency.

And so as long as that cultural divide remains with the Democrats choosing basically telling Joe Biden that he has to abandon 20 years, 30 years of a policy position on no public funding of abortion, you must accept it, Joe. He acquiesces, he hands the White House back to Donald Trump because you can`t win the south or Texas with that position.

VELSHI:  All right, interesting though because Ted Cruz of Texas, Daniella, has warned that there are going to be -- there`s trouble for Republicans in Texas. He told the "Washington Post," "The president`s re-election campaign needs to take Texas seriously. He added that while he remains optimistic about the GOP`s chances, it is by no means a given that Trump will carry Texas."

If it is by no means a given that Trump will carry Texas, then it`s by no means a given that Trump will carry the popular vote or the Electoral College.

LEGER:  That`s absolutely right, you know. He will probably again have a lot of help from his friends in Russia. But, you know, Ted Cruz is onto something. He saw what happened in his Senate race and how close Congressman O`Rourke came to beating him.

The demographics that are changing in Texas, the voter registration drives that are happening on the progressive side, absolutely Texas could very well be in play. And you know, I think you look at somebody like Will Hurd and I don`t know if that woman, who seems to be so happy that he`s not running again.

VELSHI:  Kathy Ponce, the precinct chair.

LEGER:  Yes. OK lady, you keep thinking that if that helps you sleep at night. But I think, you know, he is like the canary in the coal mine so, absolutely. You know, forcing Republicans to spend more money in Texas is only good for Democrats.

And can I just push back on one thing? No Democrat is running to be the high priest or high priestess of the abortion. I don`t even know what that means. Are they running to have (inaudible) or health care?

INGLIS:  Oh, really they are, Daniella. They are. You know they are.

LEGER:  No, they`re not. I mean, I think that`s a rookie (ph) Republican talking point. Absolutely not.

INGLIS:  Look at -- Bill Clinton called it safe, legal and rare, but Hillary Clinton said basically we got to have it. Bill said safe, legal and rare.

LEGER:  Her position was no different.

INGLIS:  You may be able to win --

LEGER:  I`m sorry.

INGLIS:  Oh, it was.

LEGER:  No.

INGLIS:  It was quite different because she needed to ramp up the base. She needed to get them all excited. That`s our problem in America today, is too much acquiescence to the base. We`ve got it on the Democratic side with Jerry Nadler of all people, having a primary opponent in Manhattan.

And then you have on the Republican side the same fear. There are a lot of reasonable people in Washington but they`re scared of the activists in their own party. That`s our challenge.

KORN:  Bob, you`re talking about the difference between -- but congressman, you`re talking the difference between a policy fight within the Democratic side and on the, as Ali just mentioned, whether Trump is a racist, a bigot, misogynistic, ignorant, you know, incompetent. I mean, those are the things that the base activists of the Republican Party are cheering on rather than having a legitimate fight over policy.

LEGER:  Right. This isn`t of both sides --

INGLIS:  Well, David, I think they`re not -- they`re not exactly cheering him on. I think that what it is --

KORN:  Well, the people at the rally --

INGLIS:  -- is there are many people -- yes, the people at the rallies are, but I think there are many Republicans who cringe at what he says and does and wish he would just go away. But they don`t know how to get rid of him.

(CROSSTALK)

VELSHI:  Well, let me tell you, I just got back from a vacation. I have a little jet lag but I would take listening to three of you discuss very important matters that we need to discuss for a lot longer. Thanks top all three of you for helping us kick it off tonight. Former Congressman Bob Inglis, Daniella Gibbs Leger and David Korn, thank you to the three of you.

LEGER:  Thank you.

VELSHI:  All right, coming up, President Trump`s jaw dropping explanations for the withdrawal of his nominee for director of National Intelligence probably surprised a lot of Republicans in the Senate today.

And Democrats crossed a major threshold on impeachment. A majority of House Democrats now support bringing impeachment proceedings against Donald Trump. The member who became number 118 will join me.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. JOHN RATCLIFFE (R-TX):  Americans need to know this as they listen to the Democrats and socialists on the other side of the aisle. Volume two of this report was not authorized under the law to be written.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI:  That was Texas Representative John Ratcliffe during the Mueller testimony in what many now believe was a nationally televised interview for the job of director of National Intelligence.

Now, as far as the president was concerned, Congressman Ratcliffe, who many Americans have never heard of, nailed that interview by showing that he would privilege loyalty to Trump over the findings of career law enforcement and intelligence officials. And Trump then offered him the job of director of National Intelligence.

But like most jobs, the interview isn`t everything. You got to pass a background check. And this week, multiple news outlets combed through Ratcliffe`s record, again, something everybody wasn`t familiar with because a lot of people didn`t know this guy, and they found numerous times that he had either embellished or misled the public about his career in federal law enforcement.

Now, this is important because under the law, anyone nominated to the DNI job "shall have extensive national security experience." This is actually one of the jobs that you can`t just appoint anybody to.

Today, the president announced he would be withdrawing Ratcliffe`s nomination in a tweet blaming unfair treatment by the LameStream media, one word both lame and stream capitalized within it.

But in comments on the White House south lawn just a few hours later, Trump actually credited the media saying they were doing his vetting for him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  The vetting process for the White House is very good, but you`re part of the vetting process, you know. I give out a name to the press and they vet for me. We save a lot of money that way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI:  Yes, he actually said that. Joining me Malcolm Nance, MSNBC counterterrorism and intelligence analyst. Malcom, you know, I`ve been away for a couple of weeks so this whole thing started and ended while I was away. I didn`t know who John Ratcliffe was two weeks ago. I didn`t know that he had been chosen as DNI and then I didn`t really understand when his name was pulled.

But there`s something very interesting here. The "Washington Post" says that Ratcliffe exaggerated his role -- it says Representative John Ratcliffe claims that as a federal prosecutor in the Eastern District of Texas, he was the leader of the immigration crack down describing it as one of the largest cases of its kind.

But a closer look at the case shows that Ratcliffe`s claims conflict with the court record and the recollections of others who participated in the operation. Ratcliffe played a supporting role in the 2008 sweep. Only 45 workers were charged by prosecutors in Ratcliffe`s office court documents show.

Six of those cases were dismissed, two of them because the suspects turned out to be the American citizens. That`s just the tip of the iceberg of the stuff this guy said has said that he has done.

MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC COUNTERTERRORISM AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST:  I find it absolutely fascinating that Donald Trump somehow thought that him lying about his resume and inflating his actions during that prosecution, which actually had nothing to do with the actual counterterrorism case than it had to do with the jury itself, that Donald Trump found that offensive and actually couldn`t accept that he had lied.

I mean, that is fascinating. But more importantly, this man is not qualified and was not qualified. And his type should not be allowed to bid for this job. This requires a true intelligence professional.

VELSHI:  Right. And that`s the key difference here. Ratcliffe again ran into some problems in which he claimed that he had done other work. The Texas monthly reports that Ratcliffe claim to have been appointed chief of anti-terrorism and national security in the Eastern District of Texas came under suspicion because no such role exists.

Ratcliffe had taken on administrative duties as the coordinator of the Anti-Terrorism Advisory Counsel. This is one of those jobs that DNI, thankfully, and other jobs related to the military in the United States government are actually jobs you have to be qualified for.

NANCE:  That`s right. Absolutely. And professionals like the deputy director of National Intelligence right now, Sue Gordon, 30 years of experience, former director of Science and Technology at CIA. You know, worked her way through senior management of CIA, then deputy director of National Intelligence.

This is a job crafted for her or people like her. And Donald Trump specifically said or made clear to someone in the White House that she was not welcome because he doesn`t want a professional giving him unvarnished information which would offend him. He is trying to craft the U.S. intelligence community into a tool, a political weapon with which he can attack his enemies.

VELSHI:  By the way, something that --

NANCE:  And that is exactly like his friend -- 

VELSHI:  Vladimir Putin.

NANCE:  Yes, go ahead -- who is Vladimir Putin.

VELSHI:  He did the same thing. Vladimir Putin came into office and purged people who didn`t agree with him in the intelligence infrastructure.

NANCE:  Sure. And then he put his top four ex-KGB, FSB advisers there, then made it clear that every oligarch who was associated with him would have an ex-KGB or FSB officer on there. He controls that country through an intelligence apparatus.

Donald Trump through all of his Russia hoax material has decided that he needs to control all the levers that could possibly investigate him, his family, his associate. He is literally trying to create an intelligence police state. And it`s the professionals who are pushing back with the truth.

You know, as we know, in the walls of the CIA, John 31, you know, John 5:31, you know, the truth shall set you free is their version of the scriptures. Not for Donald Trump. For him, truth is something to be crafted, molded and hidden at all costs.

VELSHI:  The one distinction between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump though is that Vladimir Putin was actually an intelligence officer. Donald Trump wasn`t.

NANCE:  That`s true.

VELSHI:  Malcolm, good to see you as always. Thank you for joining me. Malcolm Nance. All right, coming up, Democrats crossed the line today. More than half the Democratic caucus in the House backs impeachment now and the member who became number 118 joins me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELSHI: A majority of House Democrats are now on record publicly supporting an impeachment inquire into President Donald Trump. Today Congressman Salud Carbajal of California said that he would support an impeachment inquiry putting the tally at 118 Democrats and one independent.

Former Republican Justin Amash with the majority of the 235 House Democrats now ready to move forward, will Speaker Nancy Pelosi face increased pressure despite her reluctance to call for impeachment. Nancy Pelosi released a statement saying "In America no one is above the law. The President will be held accountable".

For months Speaker Pelosi has warned against advancing impeachment and that Democrat should focus their attention on the ongoing congressional investigations and legal battles. But today freshman Congressman Tom Malinowski said this about the congressional investigations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. TOM MALINOWSKI (D-NJ): As far as I`m concerned, an impeachment inquiry has already begun. The Judiciary Committee made clear that they are seeking documents and witnesses for the purpose of conducting an impeachment inquiry. That`s what I called for and many others called for a while ago. And it`s happening.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: Joining us is the man who put the Democrats over the halfway. Joining us is Democratic Congressman Salud Carbajal from California. He is now the 118th Democrat in favor of the impeachment an inquiry. Congressman good to have you here, thank you for joining us.

REP. SALUD CARBAJAL (D-CA): Good to be here, Ali.

VELSHI: What made you make the decision because you had to know other than others who have made the decision before you that this would be influential by becoming half of the Democratic caucus? What brought you point?

CARBAJAL: Well, for me it was the consideration of many factors. First clearly the Mueller Report, then to actually hear the testimony. But to see time and time again, the fact that this President and this administration has ignored - have ignored all the subpoenas put forth by Congress. I think is ultimately what did it, along with many conversations that I`ve had with constituents in the district.

VELSHI: Nancy Pelosi has been reluctant obviously to go down this road. Have you spoken to her? Has she had any particular reaction to your decision?

CARBAJAL: Certainly I spoke to her about a week ago. Actually a couple weeks ago and let her know that I was mulling this decision over. And certainly Speaker Pelosi has a number of considerations in making her decision whether at some point we move forward with an impeachment inquiry. For myself I think I reached that threshold based on all the considerations that I mentioned earlier.

We saw too many instances where this President either directed or attempted to obstruct justice. I think it`s important that we get all the facts around those incidences so that the American people could see what really went on.

VELSHI: You know your constituents elect you to make decisions on their behalf. And you are obviously moving ahead with your conscience. Are considerations about what kind of pressure this puts on the party or your cactus or Nancy Pelosi? Is that relevant to you or do you feel that by doing this in puts pressure on Nancy Pelosi or do you think that it advantages her to have a number of Democrats saying that they are prepared to move forward with an impeachment inquiry. Her words, last Friday was that it gives her some leverage?

CARBAJAL: I think all of the above, Ali. But I think that for myself. What drives my decision, it`s all about my constituents first and foremost. Secondly, it`s other considerations. But I - I look at what`s in the best interests of my district and my constituents. And for me this is a decision that I have reached.

VELSHI: So what are the concerns that Nancy Pelosi has and others have is that this harkens back to the impeachment of Bill Clinton, which didn`t bode well for Republicans in the next cycle? In fact Julian Castro talked about it during the debate. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JULIAN CASTRO (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that too many folks in the Senate and in the Congress have been spoofed by 1998. I believe that the times are different and in fact I think that folks are making a mistake not pursuing impeachment.

The Mueller Report clearly details that he deserves it and what`s going to happen in the fall of next year of 2020 if you don`t impeachment him, is he is here to you see the Democrats seemed to go after me on impeachment and you know why because I didn`t do anything wrong. These folks that always investigate me, they`re always trying to going after me when it came down it they didn`t go after me because I didn`t do anything wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: What do you think about that? What do you think about the fact that some people fear doing it because many people including your constituents some of them may not think that`s their priority. So many Americans are sort of struggling to prosper in this economy. And there are some people who say, I don`t want my members of Congress wasting time on this. I want them dealing with things that get me jobs and increase my income. How do you balance that?

CARBAJAL: First it`s apples and oranges, the impeachment that was pursued for Clinton from the impeachment inquiry that would ensue for Mr. Trump. Clearly we have real clear cases of obstruction, of communication with the Russians to try to impact our elections. This is apples and oranges.

But let me tell you I think as Democrats we could pursue an impeachment inquiry and still focus on the bread and butter issues that the American people and the residents of my district want us to focus on. Infrastructure lowering health and prescription costs addressing the minimum wage the raising minimum wage and job opportunities for everyone and addressing climate change.

We can chew gum and walk at the same time. And I think the American people will come to appreciate even more the fact that we are pursuing what`s in the best interests of our democracy and putting our nation first before party and politics.

VELSHI: There are several congressional investigations going on into Donald Trump that are meaning to pick up where the Mueller investigation left off or to do other things. How do you in your mind you distinguishing between those that are going on that Speaker Pelosi talks about all the time and encourage support of versus impeachment inquiry if your constituents ask you what`s the difference, what would you say?

CARBAJAL: Well, I think we have seen that those investigations have been thwarted by subpoenas not being adhered to, not being responded to, and clearly once we would embark on an impeachment inquiry it adds a totally different complexion to this investigation and it would bring all the investigations into one focus.

And I think that`s what the American people want. And need to be able to understand what really transpired here?

VELSHI: Congressman, good to see you thank you for joining me tonight. Congressman, Salud Carbajal of Santa Barbara. Thank you for joining us.

CARBAJAL: Thank you.

VELSHI: Coming up President Trump`s major foreign policy decision that made U.S. European allies nervous and thus probably pleased the Russian government.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VELSHI: Donald Trump has done a lot this week to make Russian President Vladimir Putin happy. Yesterday the President casts doubt about Russia`s continued efforts to interfere in our election. Contradicting his own intelligence community and Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller and refusing to discuss the topic of election interference in a phone call that Trump had with Vladimir Putin this week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Robert Mueller said last week that Russia is interfering in U.S. elections right now. Did you discuss with Russians?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: You don`t really believe this, do you believe this?

REPORTER: Did you talk about that with President Putin yesterday?

TRUMP: We didn`t talk about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: Today the President withdraw from a landmark Nuclear Arms Control Treaty with Russia that prohibited ground launched intermediate and short range missiles since the Cold War. It was signed by Ronald Reagan and Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987 to help ease tensions between the two countries but now there are escalating concerns about a new nuclear arms race as the Pentagon is planning to test new missiles in the coming weeks.

"The New York Times" reports that "The new missiles are unlikely to be deployed to counter Russia which the United States has said for years, was in violation of the accord. Instead, the first deployments are likely to be intended to counter China".

Also this week Donald Trump was forced to impose new sanctions against the Kremlin for the poisoning of a Former Russian spy in Britain after lawmakers threaten to take action. The President had delayed putting these legally mandated sanctions into effect for months but as "The Wall Street Journal" notes "The administration has flexibility in the sanctions it levies so could temper the punitive measures adopted against Russia".

Russia was also paying attention to which Democrat will challenge Donald Trump`s re-election. A top story on Vladimir Putin`s news outlet in the United States RT presented Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard`s attack on Senator Kamala Harris as dismantling Harris` record as a prosecutor during Wednesday night`s debate. The Twitter hash-tag Kamala Harris destroyed also gained traction and was re-tweeted by hundreds of social media accounts that appeared to be bots according to "The Wall Street Journal."

Former Undersecretary of State in the Obama administration Richard Stengel tweeted this is a clear example of Russian disinformation happening in real time. We`re going to discuss the implications of these actions for the 2020 election and more with Michael Weiss and David Corn after the break.

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VELSHI: All right joining us now Michael Weiss Daily Beast Communist and Author of an upcoming book on Russia`s Military Intelligence Agency. David Corn is back with us as well. David we are back in a conversation that you and I have had for probably two years or longer now, about the President not taking Russia`s interference in the election seriously. Actually, dismissing a reporter`s question about the fact that Russia may now be starting to try and influence the Democratic primary. Your thoughts?

DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: Well, it`s basically the third year anniversary of Donald Trump saying Russia`s not attacking the United States. And even saying hey, if you`re listening, attack and hack into Hillary Clinton that was in December 2016 and no matter what has happened, and what information has come forward, he has refused to fully acknowledge that Russia attacked an American election to help election Donald Trump, and that his campaign was even told that Russia had a secret plot to help Trump.

And he kept denying it, as a candidate, and he has denied it since, he has not said anything about election security. Mitch McConnell is blocking key bills. I mean at some point Ali, I just don`t know when heads begin to explode. The United States faces a national security threat from Russia in this regard, and he`s out there today saying you really think Russia attacked us, you really think it hacked into the DNC and influenced the election, or tried to intervene? And everybody says yes. And yet, Republican Party enables him, and supports him, in this denial reality.

VELSHI: So Michael, let`s work through this, because this may be unimportant, or it may be something in two years we`re talking about. Ian Sams, the Press Secretary for the Harris campaign, tweeted a quote from an NBC news article in February in response to this hash-tag that we`re talking about, Kamala Harris destroyed hash tag.

He said reporters writing their stories with eyes on the modern day assignment desk of Twitter, read this. "The Russia propaganda machine that tried to influence the 2016 election is now promoting the presidential aspirations of a controversial Hawaii Democrat". What`s the deeper meaning here? What`s going on? Why, if this is true, would Russian bots or Russians be interested in promoting Tulsi Gabbard, and why have they decided that Kamala Harris is the person to target if true?

MICHAEL WEISS, EXPERT ON RUSSIAN MILITARY INTELLIGENCE: Well, it`s not so much that they want Tulsi Gabbard to be President. This is a candidate of congresswoman who went on the national stage accused the President of the United States of supporting Al-Qaeda.

Now think about it logically right. The Kremlin has a pretty favorable view of Donald Trump, you would think if they are loyal to him, they would say, well, wait a minute, we take offense at this, this is our guy, why are you saying he is in support of terrorism? It is music to their ears right?

It`s a congresswoman accusing the President of United States for backing Jihadism. The tropes coming out of Damascus, Moscow, Tehran since 2011 with respect to the Syria crisis, is the United States is fomenting it is terrorist onslaught on a legitimate elected President Assad. She is playing directly into the propaganda tropes that have come out of enemies of the United States.

For whatever reason, right? I mean we`ve been in this network and other networks grilling her about her support for Bashar-al-Assad, her apologetics, her denialism which she couches as skepticism that Assad has committed all these atrocities. She famously went to Damascus under the supervision and the underwriting of a Lebanese fascist party several years ago.

Whatever the reason is, her motivation, her so-called anti-war sort of shtick, Russia is looking to her and says it doesn`t matter we don`t need her to win, what she is doing she is injecting this poison into the American electorate in a much more efficacious fashion. If the Russians had come out and said this, it would be far less successful that having American politician.

CORN: Because you would know it`s Russian saying it.

WEISS: Exactly.

VELSHI: David Corn, "The Wall Street Journal" yesterday, talked about the suspicious media account saying hundreds of social media accounts with bot- like traits promoted misinformation and content, ended inflaming racial divisions during both nights of the Democratic Presidential Debates. The bot-like activity on Tuesday and Wednesday nights was consistent with online discussions around Senator Kamala Harris`s ethnicity during the first Democratic Debate, including both Miss. Harris, and racial issues, as key targets for bot-like accounts during the 2020 election campaign.

Separate and apart from what I was just discussing with Michael about why - why Tulsi Gabbard and Kamala Harris, what you`re seeing here is a model that looks very much like a model that we saw in 2016?

CORN: Slight disagreement. I think what we`re seeing perhaps is a model that goes beyond 2016. 2016 might have been the warm-up game might have been the preseason. There was the internet research agency and they - they had an impact, but I think a lot of it was clumsy, and I think they were sort of just feeling the ground here in America and figuring out what they can do.

They have now had two, three years to perfect their strategies, to become even more sophisticated, and we`ve had Robert Mueller, we had Dan Coats, we`ve had FBI Director Chris Wray all say that this is not just going to happen, it is happening now and yet, from the White House, and from the Republicans in Congress, crickets.

VELSHI: Guys, thanks very much. Michael Weiss and David Corn, thanks for joining us on a Friday night. Tonight`s LAST WORD is next.

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VELSHI: Last Sunday night, MSNBC`s Katy Tur and Jacob Soberop, presented the first episode of their investigative series, "American Swamp". We talk about so-called dark money in politics and last Sunday they showed you what that actually looks like, where it comes from, and how it affects the laws that Congress makes. You need to catch up on the series, because this Sunday night, Katy and Jacob turn their focus to the President and the money flowing to him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The President is trying to fight back against and he was calling it Presidential harassment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t try to stop the President from doing his job. My job, as a member of the Congress, is to be a check on the executive branch. So you can call it whatever you want, this is me doing my job. This is America.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do you convince people that the job you`re doing subpoenaing various members of the administration, potentially Donald Trump`s organization and his orbit, that by doing that, you are helping the American public?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At some point we have to make a moral argument and we have to make that argument for what makes - to help people understand that they have an invested interest in making sure that we have a President and a legislature that is accountable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VELSHI: Tune in this Sunday night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, for the second episode of "American Swamp," only on MSNBC. That is tonight`s 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