LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
And all the Democratic candidates have different strengths and some of them have a range of strengths, but I don`t think there is another candidate who can speak with more authority on what we just heard Cory Booker speaking on. I mean, there is no other candidate who literally lives closer to this problem than Cory Booker.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Yes. And has the eloquent analysis and sort of fire in the belly to prove it. That`s absolutely right. Thanks, my friend.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Well, former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has a commanding lead in the polls now. The trouble is the polls are not for the office that he is currently running for, where the polls show him attracting somewhere around zero percent of the vote.
John Hickenlooper is a Democratic candidate for president who might not qualify do be in the next round of presidential primary debates, but he has a towering lead in polls in Colorado, and next year`s Senate race, and yesterday, he went for a ride around the lake in Iowa with a friend of his from Colorado who also happens to be a Democratic presidential candidate, Senator Michael Bennet.
"The New York Times" reports that they talked about the possibility of John Hickenlooper dropping out of the presidential race and running for Senate in Colorado. The Democrats need to win just three Senate seats to gain control of the United States Senate. And John Hickenlooper right now is polling 13 points ahead of Republican incumbent Senator Cory Gardner. So, John Hickenlooper is one of the presidential candidates who, if he chooses to drop out and run for Senate, has the power to possibly knock Mitch McConnell out of the majority leader`s office, and so that conversation in the ride around the lake yesterday was, like, wicked important.
And we are lucky to be joined tonight by one-half of that conversation riding around the lake. Senator Michael Bennet will join us at the end of this hour to discuss the presidential campaign and the Democrats` campaign to retake the United States Senate and how John Hickenlooper might play a major role in winning back the United States senate.
We will try to pry all of the secrets of the ride around the lake out of Senator Michael Bennet at the end of this hour, but we begin tonight with the new phrase that Donald Trump had to learn today, the hard way -- inverted yield curve.
Today, the day after President Trump admitted that he has been lying about his tariffs and that his tariffs have, in fact, cost American consumers billions upon billions upon billions of dollars, the stock market crashed. The stock market dropped 800 points today. The last time the stock market dropped 800 points, the secretary of the treasury literally got on his knees and prayed to Nancy Pelosi. This really happened.
In the last year of the Bush administration in 2008, the Republican secretary of the treasury, Hank Paulson, was so rattled by a drop of 800 points in the stock market in the midst of the banking crisis that he literally got on his knees with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and prayed to her to pass the bank bailout bill, prayed to her to help take this decisive action with the Bush administration to prevent possibly the collapse of our banking system and possibly the collapse of our economy that very week. And so, Democrats once again took action to save the economy, while Republicans in Congress are actually playing games with the Republican administration and with the legislation. Not Nancy Pelosi. She helped get that job done.
The same day that hank Paulson got on his knees to pray to Nancy Pelosi, President George W. Bush told presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain in a private meeting: this sucker could go down. Meaning the economy of the United States of America could go down. Collapse.
The difference between then and now is there is not one competent person working in the White House or the Trump administration who knows what to do now that we have signed that an economic crisis may be approaching. There is not one working on economic policy in the Trump Treasury or the Trump White House who knows as much about economic policy as the Republican president who said in 2008, this sucker could go down.
It is not easy to be less economically literate that George W. Bush, but everyone in Trump world knows less about economic policy than George W. Bush, including Donald Trump`s fake economic adviser Larry Kudlow who used to play an economist on TV but does not have a degree in economics. He does not have a PhD in anything or a master`s degree. The minimal requirement for calling yourself an economist is a graduate degree in economics, preferably a PhD. That`s the minimum.
Everything Larry Kudlow has said while pretending to be an economist in the White House contradicts everything Larry Kudlow used to say when he was pretending to be an economist on CNBC. And so the economic buffoonery of Donald Trump and his incompetent band of economic advisers is catching up with them. Yesterday, the stock market rallied a bit after Donald Trump announced that he was once again delaying imposing more tariffs on China that he had been threatening to impose.
But when Donald Trump explained why he was delaying those tariffs until after the Christmas shopping season, even he could not figure out a way to continue to pretend that anyone other than American consumers are actually paying the Trump tariffs.
The president said yesterday, we are doing this for the Christmas season: Just in case some of the tariffs would have an impact on U.S. consumers. Just in case. The Christmas season.
He wasn`t finished: Just in case they might have an impact on people, what we`ve done is we`ve delayed it so they won`t be relevant for the Christmas shopping season. An impact on people.
Donald Trump is not trying to preserve the Christmas shopping season in China. He is delaying his tariffs so his tariffs will not make Christmas shopping season in the United States much more expense expensive and have, quote, an impact on people.
We`re never going to see those tariffs because if Donald Trump is afraid of his tariffs having an impact on people during the Christmas season, he is going to be very afraid of his tariffs having an impact on people during election season which comes right after Christmas season. It was overly optimistic of the stock market yesterday to rally even a little bit over Donald Trump`s delay of his latest round of tariffs that are harmful to American consumers and the stock market seemed to realize that today.
Today, the stock market got a rude awakening about just how unsound the Neanderthal economic policies of the Trump White House are for America and the world, and it should have come as no surprise to Wall Street. Wall Street already knew that the giant Trump tax cuts for the rich did not have long-term stimulative effect for the economy. Wall Street already knew that the giant Trump tax cuts for the rich had already destabilized federal government financing, creating the largest deficit in history, and it`s getting larger.
This year`s Trump deficit is going to be at least a trillion dollars. That means the national debt is going to go up by over a trillion dollars this year. That means interest on the national debt, which is paid out of the federal treasury, is going to skyrocket.
Wall Street already knew that Trump economic policies were unsustainable, but Wall Street has a long and flawless history of being blinded by greed and always wakes up late in the middle of the crisis. And so, today, it took a new set of numbers to terrify Wall Street and push the stock market off a cliff. And those new numbers created something that we have seen before every recession of the last 60 years. Every single time we`ve had a recession, before that recession, we saw an inverted yield curve.
If you`re hearing that phrase for the first time today, so is Donald Trump. In the bond market, long-term U.S. bonds always pay higher interest rates than short-term U.S. bonds, but in the rare circumstance where the long- term bonds offer a lower interest rate than short-term bonds, that means the long-term bonds will yield less of a return than the short-term bonds. And that is what is known as an inverted yield curve, and no one on Wall Street could pretend that that is anything but a sign of disaster.
By this afternoon, Donald Trump issued a tweet about the inverted yield curve, probably just to show that he knows those words. There was no indication in the tweet that Donald Trump has any idea what an inverted yield curve is, what those words mean. He just tweeted in the middle of a tweet, incoherent tweet, in capital letters, crazy inverted yield curve!
Just wanted Wall Street to know that he knew that there was an inverted yield curve or someone had told him that. But Wall Street knows just how ignorant Donald Trump is. Wall Street has always known that. They know that better than most of America, and Wall Street knows that there is not a single responsible adult in the Trump administration who when the situation calls for it can get on his knees and pray to Nancy Pelosi.
Wall Street knows that there is not a single responsible adult in the Trump administration who has any idea what to pray for, who has any idea what to do, what action to take, and Wall Street knows that there is not a single person in the Trump administration with the courage to bring this president bad news. And so, no one will ever walk into the Trump oval office and say what George W. Bush could say in a moment of crisis in the American economy. This sucker could go down.
Leading off our discussion tonight, Gene Sperling, former director of the National Economic Council for Presidents Obama and Clinton. He is who I pray to when I am looking for a solution to American economic issues.
And Ron Klain, former senior aide to Vice President Joe Biden and President Obama. He`s an adviser of Joe Biden`s 2020 presidential campaign now.
Gene, you have the floor. I didn`t anticipate talking about inverted yield curves this week, but here we are.
GENE SPERLING, FORMER ECONOMIC ADVISER, PRESIDENTS CLINTON & OBAMA: Yes. Well, I think what we`re seeing, Lawrence, is that our biggest fear with George -- with President Trump isn`t just economic nationalism. It is economic narcissism. It is this kind of drunk-driving type of economic management.
Now, when you drive drunk, you don`t always get into an accident, but you dramatically increase the chances of something very bad happening. Donald Trump inherited, like he inherited wealth from his dad, he inherited an economy that was solid, that was improving, and what we saw first was a huge tax cut which we now see was really based on one thing that it was going to justify this huge increase in the deficit because it was going to have a lasting effect on business investment.
We`ve already seen from Jay Powell, to the second-quarter results, that business investment is slowing. If you take out oil and mining, it`s actually been slower than it was in the Obama second term. But what we`ve also seen is this reckless type of management on the trade side. And this is something where there could have been a smart way to do it.
I agree, we should be tougher on China. I agree, we should take some short-term hits but this kind of reckless back and forth has now been such an assault to not just the U.S. economy but the global economy that now the number one single risk factor in economics in the world is Donald Trump personally. That`s whey I say economic narcissism because it is his sense of recklessness and his sense that somehow maybe if he really hurts the China economy or the German economy or the global manufacturing goes down that that`s somehow good for us.
It`s not. When demand goes down around the world, it hurts our farmers. It hurts our steelmakers. It hurts our auto producers. It hurts our economy.
So the risk that exists right now in the economy lies -- in the global economy and the U.S. economy -- lies squarely, scarily on Donald Trump`s reckless drunk driving approach to economic management.
O`DONNELL: Ron Klain, we have the famous words of Donald Trump, the trade wars are easy to win. No one before Donald Trump has thought that. Certainly not in the era of modern economic thought.
RON KLAIN, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO VP BIDEN: Yes, I mean, economic policy based on retweets, what could possibly go wrong?
KLAIN: Look, I also think, Lawrence, it`s worth repeating something you mentioned before about the hollow White House staff. I worked for two brilliant presidents, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. As brilliant as they were, they have, like, a billion IQ points on Donald Trump, there wasn`t a single meeting where their thoughts on the economy was improved by having a first-class team around them of people like Gene Sperling.
So, now, you have a president who`s nowhere near Barack Obama and Bill Clinton trying to manage an economic situation with a team that`s nowhere near the team those two presidents had and that is a frightening combination.
Now, Trump has made his whole economy about the stock market which I think is a mistake for any president. Since he`s been president, he tweeted 72 times bragging about the stock market results, seven times in the past four weeks. And, you know, what goes up does go down. With his reckless approach to trade and other economic issues, the tax cut that was squandered the way it was, we got a big mess on our hands and there`s no one in the White House who can handle that.
O`DONNELL: So, Gene, we`ve already seen one quarter of negative economic growth in Germany. If the next quarter is negative, that`s officially a recession there. You were just on this point, and this is something that Donald Trump doesn`t understand, that Germany is a customer of the United States, a major and important customer of the United States. If their buying power drops, if they`re less able to purchase what we have to sell them, that`s a problem for us. They are interconnected to us in various supply chains in manufacturing. Parts of a manufacturing process might go from Germany to the United States, that`s all affected by this.
And Donald Trump has always thought in his trade war he can throw punches at other countries and when he`s throwing the punch, he`s never going to hurt his knuckles in the process and it turns out in trade wars, it is impossible to throw these kinds of punches without doing damage to your own economy.
SPERLING: No, I mean, that`s exactly right, Lawrence. I mean, really, it`s both ways, right? First, you end up having self-inflicted wounds.
How`s it going for agriculture exports of the United States? Soybean exporters. It`s been a disaster.
We now have industrial production, and manufacturing, his big focus, is down two quarters. That`s a technical recession for industrial production. So, one, you end up hitting yourself in the process, but secondly, instead of working with Germany and Canada and other countries in a coherent way that might have been directed toward isolating China, this kind of just, again, kind of drunk-driving approach ends up just creating risk and harm in the global economy and so not only is it bad when Germany goes to negative growth, but you`ve seen that China now had industrial production at its lowest in, perhaps, 17 years.
None of that is good. It`s not good when you hurt your own agriculture exporters and your own manufacturers, but when you lower demand in the world, in Germany, important customer, in China, in the global economy, you hurt all of the people in the United States who rely on strong global demand, and, you know, the question now is, can he pull out of it? You know, you asked what you have to do.
You actually don`t need to know too much about economics to know that when you`re digging a hole, stop digging and the way Donald Trump has, again, managed this economy is that he is the number-one risk factor. If he simply did nothing, the entire U.S. and global economy would be in stronger shape than it is now.
O`DONNELL: Ron, we have a Fox News poll saying, unsatisfied with the way things are going, a very general statement. Satisfied is only 40 percent. Unsatisfied is 59 percent.
And that is before the inverted yield curve.
KLAIN: Yes. Yes, I mean, I think there`s also an inverted approval curve for Donald Trump there.
KLAIN: And it`s headed in the wrong direction, as it should be.
Look, I mean, again, I don`t think you can judge a president by the market. Markets are impacted by a lot of factors outside his or her control. But you can judge a president by the policies they pursue on the economy.
And what Donald Trump promised was to invest in working people. He promised to have an infrastructure plan. He promised that he`d have a big, beautiful health care plan.
He promised a lot of fundamental staples, kitchen-table things for working people and I think people for better or worse believed him with those promises and he`s delivered absolutely up in of them. He`s run the most kleptocratic administration in history and an economic policy that`s exacerbated inequality and delivers all of its gains to those at the very top.
So, it`s no surprise, unless you`re polling the very top one-tenth of 1 percent that the number is people run satisfied with that. And as you say, that`s before today`s events. That`s going to get worse for him, not better.
O`DONNELL: Ron Klain, thank you very much for joining us again tonight and Gene Sperling, economic adviser to presidents, could not do this without you, and as this economic news continues, we`re going to need you.
Stay by the phone, Gene. We`re going to need you a lot if this keeps going in this direction. Really appreciate it.
When we come back, another day, another member of the House supports a presidential impeachment inquiry. Today, it was freshman Democrat Deb Haaland`s turn to come out in support of the impeachment process. She will join us next.
O`DONNELL: The impeachment movement picked up one more vote in the House of Representatives today. Freshman Democratic Congressman Deb Haaland announced she supports an impeachment inquiry which brings the total number of House members supporting an impeachment inquiry of the president to 124. That means a majority of the Democrats in House now support a presidential impeachment inquiry.
Joining us now is Democratic Congresswoman Deb Haaland from New Mexico. She is the co-chair of the Native American Caucus and a member of the Armed Services Committee.
Congresswoman Haaland, thank you very much for joining us tonight. How did you come to your decision on impeachment?
REP. DEB HAALAND (D-NM): Lawrence, thank you so much for having me this evening.
Look, the president is not above the law, and every single time he has done something, you know, defended Vladimir Putin against our own country and our own intelligence, assaulted women on his -- you know, admitting to assaulting women during his campaign, benefiting off of his presidency, you know, every time -- caging children, I could go on and on and on. Every time he has done that, I have laid a marker down. I have called him out on every single thing he`s done.
It was just time, Lawrence. It was time for me to step up and ask for an impeachment inquiry.
O`DONNELL: You`re in your district now in New Mexico. What has been the reaction in your district?
HAALAND: So I`ve held three town halls since the district work period began, and at every single town hall, this issue has come up. I`ve gotten thousands of calls and letters and emails into my district office and so, you know, here in my district, namely in Albuquerque, New Mexico, people want to see the president held accountable. They want to see transparency. They want to know, themselves, what is going on and I certainly can`t blame them.
O`DONNELL: I want to go to a comment that was made by Steve King by a Republican member of the House, get your reaction to it. You`re the first house member who`s been on this program since Congressman King said this. It is the, I think, strangest thing he`s ever said.
We`re going to show the video. I want to warn people that this is Congressman King talking about rape and incest and talking about rape in a seemingly positive way. You might not want to hear this at home. That is what we`re going to go to next.
Let`s listen to what Iowa Congressman Steve King had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. STEVE KING (R-IA): What if we went back through all the family trees and just pulled those people out that were products of rape and incest? Would there be any population of the world left if we did that? Considering all the wars and all the rape that`s taken place, whatever happened, the culture -- I know I can`t certify that I`m not part of a product of that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: So he`s saying that all of us at some point in our lineage are the product of rape or incest. He said there would be no human population without rape.
HAALAND: Yes, that`s such a crazy thing to say. Look, my colleague, Steve King, he`s been pushing white supremacist ideology and horrible, hateful, mean-spirited, racist statements for a very long time. And so, I`m not surprised about this, Lawrence, but what I really hope is that the people of Iowa in his district think about whether they want someone like that representing them in Congress. I think they could do so much better.
O`DONNELL: The Republicans in Congress have been embarrassed by him before, but there`s been very little reaction so far from this, what is surely the single craziest thing he`s ever said.
HAALAND: Yes. It sounds, you know, it`s -- it is -- it`s mind-boggling, quite frankly. You know, it`s -- it`s -- with the leader of their Republican Party who is our president, he has normalized so much racist and bigoted, you know, behavior and language since he`s -- since long before he was in office. And, I mean, it`s -- it seems like it`s sort of par for the course. So, perhaps, you know, whatever the turning point is, maybe this is it, who knows?
But it`s unacceptable. It`s not befitting a member of Congress. We should have some values and morals. You know, he`s a leader, for heaven`s sake. So, yes, he deserves to be called out on every hateful comment that he makes.
O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Deb Haaland, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate your time.
HAALAND: Thank you. Thank you, Lawrence. Have a nice evening.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
And coming up, our next guest says that the world is in a category 4 storm and the president of the United States doesn`t know it.
O`DONNELL: Today, my next guest tweeted, "The world is in the midst of a category-four crap-storm right now." Today, more clashes erupted in the streets of Hong Kong between protesters and police following the massive anti-government protests that crippled the city`s airport on Tuesday.
The "Associated Press" is reporting, satellite photos show what appear to be hundreds of Chinese armored vehicles parked in a sports complex just miles away from Hong Kong. And what did the President of the United States say about this latest show of force from China? He tweeted, "Everyone should be calm and safe!" Yes, they should. He also tweeted, "I have zero doubt that if President Xi wants to quickly and humanely solve the Hong Kong problem, he can do it. Personal meeting?"
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who is the personification of the kind of ignorance and competence and corruption the Trump administration specializes in, said that the protests in Hong Kong are "an internal matter" and therefore of no interest to the United States government.
"The New York Times" reports, "Washington has chosen inaction, and governments are ignoring the Trump administration`s mild admonitions and calls for calm. The inability or unwillingness of Washington to help defuse the flashpoints is one of the clearest signs yet of the erosion of American power and global influence under Mr. Trump."
And joining our discussion now is David Rothkopf, a commentator on foreign policy and national security issues. His next book is "Traitor: The Case Against Donald J. Trump."
So we have a very big storm going on out there. Remind America what any other President would be doing and saying right now.
DAVID ROTHKOPF, FOREIGN POLICY EXPERT: Well, it depends on what crisis you mean. If you mean the crisis in Hong Kong, a President would be saying in advance, look, China, we value the autonomy you`ve given Hong Kong and we expect you to respect it, and if you don`t respect it, there`s going to be a price to that, whether it`s a price in terms of sanctions, a price in terms of broken-off military relations, a price in terms of going to the United Nations and pressuring them in the security council, we would first make that message privately, then we`d make it publicly and we`d make it very clear that there was a cost to the wrong kind of action from China. We`ve had none of that. None of that. The President offers a little visit--
O`DONNELL: It sounds like, if you try to decode the madness of Donald Trump, that what he thinks is if I`m nice to President Xi here, the President of China will then give me what I want in trade if I just am nice to him in his totalitarian impulses.
ROTHKOPF: Well, you had Gene on early talking about economic narcissism. This is foreign policy narcissism. He thinks that if he intervenes in anything, he can solve the problem. Of course, we found that that`s not the case. When I talk about this global crap-storm, as you put it, you look at- -
O`DONNELL: You put it. You put it that way.
ROTHKOPF: I put it slightly different.
O`DONNELL: Oh, you did, yes, that`s right. I cleaned it up.
ROTHKOPF: Yes, thank you.
O`DONNELL: Yes, for TV--
ROTHKOPF: No. Thank you. You added a little dignity to the whole thing, but - but if you look at the world right now, this is a President who`s never faced a major global crisis, but he`s on the verge of facing five or six at once. North Korea launching new missiles, China with troops massed on the border at Hong Kong. India and Kashmir, possibly the most dangerous nuclear situation in the world, on the verge of war. Iran, Persian Gulf, on the verge of war. Europe coming apart at the seams. Russia launching nuclear missiles that blow up and killed their scientists. Brazil--
O`DONNELL: While Russians have been protesting for--
ROTHKOPF: With 50,000 Russians in the street this weekend protesting Vladimir Putin. And of course, on top of all of this, the greatest crisis of our time, you have Arctic fires, Greenland melting. Every single one of these cases, every single one, has been made worse by the policies of Donald Trump, by trying to sweet-talk Kim Jong-un, by sending a message to the Chinese and every other autocrat in the world "go ahead, do what you got to do, I don`t care about human rights," about kowtowing to Vladimir Putin, backing off of environmental protections.
Look around the world right now, and each one of these things is ratcheting up, and you talked about one at the top of the show, an economic slowdown, a global recession on top of all of that, and you`ve got to say, we could see in the next year this President being tested by multiple crises of his own making, and just as you said a moment ago, they don`t have the team to handle it in the White House. They don`t have the national security process. The President doesn`t think he needs advisers. And that`s why we`re at the edge of something very, very dangerous.
O`DONNELL: Yes. It`s not just the President. In this case, it`s the actual administration. And no one in that administration who has ever figured out how to get Donald Trump to see reality.
ROTHKOPF: Right. And some of them want to take advantage of it.
ROTHKOPF: John Bolton wants to take advantage of it with Iran, wants to take advantage of it with North Korea. They`ve got other agendas, and the President is being used by foreign leaders. He`s being used by his own staff. And he`s being used by his own ego, which tries to persuade him that he`s actually on top of these things when he`s far from it.
O`DONNELL: David Rothkopf, thank you very much for joining us, and I really appreciate it.
And when we come back, we will have the latest on a police shootout in Philadelphia today. And also coming up, Democratic Presidential candidate, Senator Michael Bennet.
O`DONNELL: We have a breaking news update from Philadelphia. Six police officers were shot and wounded during a gun battle with at least one suspect armed with an assault rifle during a drug raid this afternoon. Two officers got trapped inside that house but later escaped. Police gave an update a short time ago. NBC 10 Philadelphia reporter Brandon Hudson was there. He joins us by phone.
Brandon, what is the situation at this hour?
BRANDON HUDSON, NBC 10 PHILADELPHIA REPORTER (voice-over): Lawrence, we`ve got a lot of police officers who are around here. This is still a barricade situation. So we still have someone who is holed up in a house about a block-and-a-half from where we are. Just kind of waiting out the situation. Police are waiting out the situation.
It`s calmed down significantly from the time that we were out here at 4:30 this afternoon, but we do know that the two officers that you mentioned that were held hostage, they are out - they got out safely. The six officers who were shot, they were all taken to the hospital. Some of them - all of them suffered non-life-threatening injuries. And some of them were able to go home and be with their families tonight. So a very - a very good end to a very chaotic situation that`s taken up four, five, even six hours at this point, and it`s still going on.
O`DONNELL: Brandon, do we know for sure that there`s only one suspect inside the house?
HUDSON (voice-over): Yes, that`s something we`re trying to figure out. I`ve had several colleagues try to ask the Police Commissioner if there was more than one suspect in the house, if there was more than one shooter in the house. They have been a little reluctant to answer that. So that`s a question that we`re hoping to get before the night is over with.
O`DONNELL: And is there any indication about how long this siege is going to go on?
HUDSON (voice-over): I think it`s going to go on until they get their guy. At this point, this guy has gotten into a lot of trouble since he involved shooting six police officers. Police are - look like they`re willing to wait this out. We have a fire engine that`s out here. We have a few other officers from other neighboring agencies. So we are not too far from Temple University. We have Temple police that have been out here. I saw Drexel University police out here. We also saw some SEPTA - which is our transportation service - SEPTA transportation police who were also out here.
So they seem to be in for the long haul, and of course, with the police department of this size where you have more than 5,000 officers, they`re able to switch shifts. So it doesn`t look like they`re going to be letting up any time soon. I did hear the Commissioner say that - at one point they did try to talk to this suspect with a bullhorn. They tried to call this person. Person doesn`t seem to be budging at this point. So, at the end of the day, we`ll all see how long they can try to wait him out before they try to make another move.
O`DONNELL: Philadelphia`s NBC 10 reporter, Brandon Hudson, thank you very much for joining us tonight with that important report. Thank you, Brandon.
And when we come back, Democratic Presidential candidate, Senator Michael Bennet, will join us on Mitch McConnell`s Russian connections and the possibility of one of the Presidential candidates dropping out of the race for the White House to run for the United States Senate.
O`DONNELL: "The Washington Post" is reporting tonight on what could be the most serious case of corruption in the history of the United States Senate with Mitch McConnell at the center of it. The worst corruption cases in the Senate have always involved personal enrichment through bribery or other means of senators. The McConnell case is different.
Mitch McConnell blocked votes in the United States Senate that would have made it impossible for the Trump administration to remove some sanctions on Russia and Russian oligarchs. And then after the Trump administration was then allowed to remove those sanctions, they did remove the sanctions, and one of those Russian oligarchs made a major investment in an aluminum plant to be built in Mitch McConnell`s State of Kentucky, in a region of Kentucky desperate for the jobs that the Trump administration has not yet delivered.
"The Washington Post`s" reporting on this is now going to make it impossible for Mitch McConnell to shake the nickname Moscow Mitch given to him by MSNBC`s Joe Scarborough. If Mitch McConnell used his Senate position to fight to lift sanctions on Russia so that Russians could invest in Kentucky so that Mitch McConnell could then tell voters in his re-election campaign that he helped bring those Russian-financed aluminum plant jobs to Kentucky, then that would be a much more corrupt act than mere self- enrichment.
Joining our discussion now is Michael Bennet, Democratic Senator from Colorado and a member of the Intelligence Committee. He is running for President. His campaign is now out with a new book "Dividing America: How Russia Hacked Social Media and Democracy."
I want to start with the McConnell situation. This is a stunning report by "The Washington Post." It`s the weight of a book. It`s a massive in-depth reporting. And to imagine the Senate Majority Leader using his position this way is a - would be a stunningly corrupt act.
SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D-CO) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes. I could never understand why that sanctions legislation didn`t go through. It was a bipartisan bill on the floor--
O`DONNELL: 11 Republicans fully in favor of it.
BENNET: Exactly. Exactly. And as you know, the Majority Leader has incredible power to stop things, to kill things. And it`s going to be fascinating to see in the days ahead what this report - how it develops.
O`DONNELL: And he`s deeply troubled by all reports by this label Moscow Mitch, which has now taken hold--
O`DONNELL: --in Kentucky. And he`s not done - he hasn`t done anything to shake that label. But he`s never given anyone a reason to drop that label on him.
BENNET: No. The Intelligence Committee two weeks ago put out a bipartisan report that said Russia had hacked the elections in 2016, that it was really serious, and that there were steps that we should take. And bipartisan senators have been offering amendments on the floor and McConnell has been blocking them. He`s blocked them eight times. These are just election protection measures, Lawrence. These are not controversial. And you`d think that at a minimum, someone with the title of leader would be pushing through these bipartisan measures instead of refusing them to even come to a vote.
Imagine such a situation where the bill was allowed to come to a vote. I can`t imagine a single senator voting against it. Yet Mitch McConnell is not allowing it to come to a vote, not allowing it to come to the floor.
O`DONNELL: But he is allowing, encouraging and happy with Russian investment in Kentucky now that the sanctions allow it.
BENNET: Sounds like it.
O`DONNELL: Yes. I want to go to your book, which goes to - it`s about the Russian hacking of our democracy.
BENNET: Yes. And anybody can get it if you go to russiahackedourdemocracy.com. You can get it there and download it. I had two purposes for putting it out. One was, I think the American people don`t know what that propaganda from Russia looked like.
I was in New Hampshire last week - or a couple weeks ago, and a guy said to me, just make sure Obama stops giving money - taking money from our veterans and giving it to refugees. It comes straight from Russian propaganda. That`s not a political idea that`s native to the United States of America.
And there`s page after page after page in this book. It`s racist and terrible stuff that the Russians used to try to divide us. And the second point is that McConnell should be putting this stuff on the floor. I mean, the idea that this is not - and it`s not because he`s too busy passing gun legislation, by the way. As you know--
BENNET: --the Senate is doing nothing but judges at this point. And it`s time for us as a country to show that we`re going to stand up to--
O`DONNELL: I have to interrupt you with breaking news that involves you and something we planned to discuss with you. The Associated Press tonight (ph) at this hour--
BENNET: That`s always what you like to have happen--
O`DONNELL: That`s - you want to have it happen on live television.
O`DONNELL: I`ve just been handed this. The Associated Press is reporting at this hour John Hickenlooper is expected to drop out of the Democratic Presidential primary on Thursday, tomorrow. That`s according to a person close to the former governor, who wasn`t authorized to speak publicly before the announcement and who spoke to the Associated Press on Wednesday night on condition of anonymity.
You report - and "The New York Times" is reporting, as I led the show, that you had a conversation--
O`DONNELL: --last night in Iowa driving around the lake 20 minutes in the car together about this very subject, the possibility of him dropping out and running for Senate in Colorado, where he has a massive lead in the polls.
O`DONNELL: What can you tell us now that it is official--
BENNET: I almost didn`t come on the show after that lead. I was looking for any excuse because all I could think about was that.
O`DONNELL: Brian Williams has granted us as much time as it takes--
BENNET: Yes. Yes. It was--
O`DONNELL: --to get all the information out of you.
BENNET: It was - all I could think of was Luca Brasi swimming with the fishes, which is what I would like to avoid. I am close to John. There`s nothing that he and I discussed that I feel like I can discuss here, and I know you appreciate that from your work with Daniel Patrick Moynihan. It`s the same kind of relationship. I will say that - I will say we`ve got very good candidates in this race already. John Hickenlooper was an exceptional mayor. He was an exceptional governor. And if he chose to run, he`d be an exceptional senator. But the last person he needs advice from is me on what he should do about the presidential--
O`DONNELL: But "The New York Times" reports that he sought advice from you last night, climbing into the car with you, ride around the lake in Iowa. And here we are 24 hours later, AP reporting that he is going to drop out tomorrow. In "The New York Times" report, it showed that John Hickenlooper, though relatively unknown nationally to the point where he`s actually polling at zero in polls, in Colorado, just massively popular. A 13-point--
O`DONNELL: --lead in current polls--
O`DONNELL: --over the sitting incumbent Republican senator in a state that Donald Trump lost. I mean, talk about what would happen if John Hickenlooper runs for Senate--
O`DONNELL: --in Colorado.
BENNET: He would win. He would win.
O`DONNELL: That he`s got - he`s got over a 50-point lead in the Democratic primary.
BENNET: He`s right where the state is on a whole range of issues. And he left office as popular as he came into office, as Governor. So I`m not going to front-run whatever it is he`s trying to do or not trying to do. But we obviously have to win the Senate seat in Colorado. That`s critical.
And by the way, that`s critical for us to think about across the country. This isn`t just about the Presidential election. This is about how we get a Democratic majority back in the Senate. And in my mind, that`s as important as who the next President is.
O`DONNELL: The only way to stop the stories that we`re reading in "The Washington Post" about Mitch McConnell are for candidates as strong as John Hickenlooper to enter races for the Senate and win Republican seats. You`re saying if John Hickenlooper runs for Senate in Colorado, he wins. And I`ve got to say, the polls indicate exactly that.
O`DONNELL: So that means, if that happens, the Democrats only need to pick up two more. Only two more. John Hickenlooper moves them within needing only two.
BENNET: I will give you his cell phone number before we split up tonight.
O`DONNELL: But - I mean, you - certainly in a conversation with him, you - I`m sure--
BENNET: Here`s what the - I could tell you - I mean, I can tell you what I`d say to any candidate and what I would say to John, which is that there are real pluses and there are real minuses to being in the Senate. You and I have talked about how much it`s changed since you worked there. But it is a great privilege to have the chance to serve this country.
And it is an obligation I think for all of us to find the place where we can help sustain the Democratic institutions that we have. Whether it`s fun or not fun is immaterial. What we have is a job to do as Americans to rescue this democracy from Donald Trump. And that`s for people that are running for President, that`s for people running for the Senate, that`s for American citizens at home, that`s for journalists. This is a moment in our country`s history when we all have to step up our game here or our democracy is at real risk.
O`DONNELL: John Hickenlooper appeared on this program as a Presidential candidate. He is welcome on this program if he changes his pursuits--
BENNET: I`ll pass that along.
O`DONNELL: --in any way. We`re here tomorrow night.
So, Senator Michael Bennet, thank you very much for joining us again tonight.
BENNET: Thanks, Lawrence. Thanks--
O`DONNELL: Really appreciate it.
BENNET: You heard it here first.
O`DONNELL: You did. That is tonight`s LAST WORD. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.
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