Brazil's president demands apology. TRANSCRIPT: 8/27/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell.

Guests: David Cay Johnston, Paul Rosolie, Stuart Stevens

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

I was watching everything you had to say about Deutsche Bank in the last hour, and especially great to hear the audio of the lawyers in court.  And the lawyer representing the House saying they really need to know how Donald Trump was able to obtain loans when no one else would loan him any money.  And there it is right there in court as one of their main motivators for getting at this information. 

I may have some information in this next hour which would add a great deal to their understanding of that, if true, and I`ll be discussing it here in the beginning of the show.  I want to get your reaction to it now. 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  OK. 

O`DONNELL:  Because I don`t want you to leave the building. 

MADDOW:  I`m not going to.  You now got me.  I`m stuck. 

O`DONNELL:  And hear about this because no one knows more about this subject than you do, so I want to get your reaction to what it could mean if true, and I stress if true because this is a single source --

MADDOW:  OK. 

O`DONNELL:  -- who has told me that the Deutsche Bank obtained tax returns, which they do have, of Donald Trump`s show that the president pays very little income tax. 

MADDOW:  Hmm. 

O`DONNELL:  That`s probably not going to be very surprising to people.  Probably not going to be especially politically damaging, since he ran saying I try to pay as little as possible. 

Then there`s the other part: the loan documents.  And that is part of what this subpoena is going after. 

MADDOW:  Hmm. 

O`DONNELL:  And this single source close to Deutsche Bank has told me that the Trump -- Donald Trump`s loan documents there show that he has co- signers.  That`s how he was able to obtain those loans.  And that the co- signers are Russian oligarchs. 

MADDOW:  What?  Really? 

O`DONNELL:  That would explain, it seems to me, every kind word Donald Trump has ever said about Russia and Vladimir Putin, if true, and I stress the if true part of this. 

MADDOW:  Yes, that is a scenario that I have never contemplated.  Let alone, like, gamed out in detail.  But, you know, there is -- there clearly is some presidential anxiety around his tax returns for sure. 

The specificity of his relationship with Deutsche Bank is something that has never been explained.  There particularly seems to have been some compartmentalization even inside Deutsche Bank, which appears to be a disaster of a bank, in that what was going on between him and the private banking division at Deutsche Bank appears to have been something of a mystery to other parts of Deutsche Bank, even to the point where the bank didn`t necessarily know how much it had outstanding in terms of Donald Trump loans, very late in the game in terms of his political career. 

So, I mean, that obviously would be absolutely flummoxing, but I don`t know, I`m going to now sit and watch your show. 

O`DONNELL:  It would -- it would test the Trump theory that he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and his supporters would still be with him. 

MADDOW:  Yes, man.  Seriously.  That`s the financial equivalent of that. 

O`DONNELL:  It is. 

MADDOW:  Wow.

O`DONNELL:  Thank you, Lawrence.

MADDOW:  Thanks, Lawrence.  Jeez.

O`DONNELL:  Well, the presidency hasn`t changed Trump, he is changing the presidency.  Those are the words of Stuart Stephens in an op-ed in "USA Today" in which he argues that Donald Trump has changed the Republican Party. 

As Republican campaign consultant, Stuart Stephens has helped elect some of the people in Congress, in the Senate who we hear defending Donald Trump.  Stuart Stephens knows these people and he says they are not telling the truth when they defend Donald Trump, they don`t believe that stuff.  Stuart Stephens will join us at the end of the hour on a day when Congress got a big step closer to obtaining Donald Trump`s tax returns, on a day when we learned that the money in Trump world is flowing in every possible direction. 

The attorney general of the United States is now giving his own personal money to his boss, the president, by booking a party space at Donald Trump`s Washington hotel and paying at least $30,000 to the president`s hotel for a personal holiday party for 200 people.  That news comes in the same week when we discovered that Donald Trump`s campaign manager, who was recently bankrupt, is now buying multimillion dollar homes and some very expensive cars.  Trump campaign contributions are obviously making some people very, very rich. 

Stuart Stephens will join us at the end of this hour to consider the political and ethical damage Donald Trump has delivered to Republican politics and take a look at the polls that show Donald Trump going down in favorability in every one of the swing states that delivered his Electoral College victory. 

Stuart Stephens is one of the renaissance men of Republican politics.  He has run presidential campaigns.  He has written novels.  He has written several books.  He has written fictional television dramas.  Stuart and I worked together as writers on one of those dramas. 

He is a Mississippi Republican supporting a Massachusetts Republican, Bill Weld, in his campaign to challenge Donald Trump for the Republican presidential nomination.  He`s not just trying to save his party from Donald Trump, he`s trying to save America from Donald Trump, and Stuart Stephens will get tonight`s last word. 

We begin tonight with the breaking news from Deutsche Bank today that Deutsche Bank has Donald Trump`s tax returns.  That is not exactly what Deutsche Bank said in its redacted legal filing today, but it is what one source close to Deutsche Bank has revealed to me about the financial documents in the bank`s possession.  And so, the words Donald Trump probably do appear in the redacted space in today`s court filing. 

Deutsche Bank`s lawyers told the federal court of appeals in New York City, quote, the bank has in its possession tax returns in either draft or as filed form responsive to the subpoenas for, redacted.  Right there, that`s probably where the words Donald Trump appear. 

It goes on.  In addition, the bank has documents related to parties not named in the subpoenas but who may constitute immediate family with the definition provided in the subpoenas.  The bank does not believe it possesses tax returns responsive to the subpoenas for individuals named in the subpoenas other than those identified above. 

Now, that language indicates that the redaction is covering more than one name of more than one person.  The subpoenas in question are from the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee and Financial Services Committee.  Those committees told the court they have subpoenaed Trump family financial records and tax returns from Deutsche Bank as part of an investigation of Russian money-laundering and potential influence on the president. 

The information publicly disclosed today by Deutsche Bank is so far consistent with what a source close to Deutsche Bank has revealed to me about the Trump-related financial documents in Deutsche Bank`s possession.  The information the source has revealed to me is also consistent with "New York Times" reporting tonight saying, quote, current and former bank officials have said Deutsche Bank has portions of Mr. Trump`s personal and corporate tax returns from multiple years as part of the reams of financial data it has collected over its two-decade relationship with him. 

The information revealed to me goes a few very important steps beyond that.  The source close to Deutsche Bank says that the Trump tax returns reveal that the president pays little to no income tax in some years and the source says that Deutsche Bank is in possession of loan documents that show Donald Trump has obtained loans with co-signers and that he would not have been able to obtain those loans without co-signers.  The source close to Deutsche Bank says that the co-signers of Donald Trump`s Deutsche Bank loans are Russian billionaires close to Vladimir Putin. 

If true, that would explain every kind word Donald Trump has ever said about Russia and Vladimir Putin -- if true.  If true, that would be a significant factor in Vladimir Putin`s publicly stated preference for presidential candidate Donald Trump over presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER:  Did you want President Trump to win the election and did you direct any of your officials to help him do that? 

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator):  Yes, I did.  Yes, I did, because he talked about bringing the U.S./Russia relationship back to normal. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  Leading off our discussion tonight is David Cay Johnston, founder of DCReport.org, and the author of "It`s Even Worse Than You Think: What the Trump Administration is Doing to America."  David Cay Johnston is also a Pulitzer Prize-winning tax reporter for "The New York Times" formerly.

David, I want to start with you tonight because of -- what is the information coming out in court supplemented by the information that I have which indicates that Deutsche Bank does indeed have Donald Trump`s tax returns.  If Deutsche Bank has Donald Trump`s tax returns, isn`t the only purpose for a bank to have tax returns is for loans?  Is there -- I can`t think of any other reason why the bank would have his tax returns. 

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, EXPERT ON TRUMP`S TAXES:  No, the bank gets your tax returns or a transcript of your information.  If you apply for a mortgage, you sign a document allowing your bank to check with the IRS to see if the income you`ve reported to them is the income that you`re reporting to the bank.  Now, of course, Donald has a long history that I`ve documented showing two different sets of documents to different people that don`t match up.

And one of the interesting elements of this is they apparently have drafts as well as signed filed tax returns.  In examining the difference between those could be revealing about Donald`s behavior.  Remember, a tax return is basically the starting point for an investigation.  It`s not the end.  But it requires a great deal of special information about how much he`s inflated his wealth. 

O`DONNELL:  And, David, you have studied Donald Trump`s wealth, Donald Trump`s earnings over time.  You`re one of the first people to puncture the myth of Donald Trump as billionaire. 

There has -- we heard in court the lawyers for the House of Representatives who are seeking this information, and they say they`re seeking it in a Russian money laundering investigation.  That`s why they say they`re seeking it.  But they`ve also said that they -- they need the loan documents and everything else that the -- that the -- that the bank might have. 

If those loan documents show co-signers, let`s just go to that, your understanding of Donald Trump`s finances by the time he`s trying to get loans from Deutsche Bank after every other bank has turned him down.  Would it make sense that he needs co-signers at that point? 

JOHNSTON:  Oh, absolutely.  And Donald I`ve argued on your show and elsewhere for several years now that Deutsche Bank in making these loans had to have someone in the background that was guaranteeing these loans.  It would be surprising if they`re actually co-signers.  That would be absolutely astonishing and I think mandate his removal from office.

But Donald has done this throughout his life.  He persuaded Chase Bank to not file the mortgage on Mar-a-Lago, which is a violation of New York state law.  I have the letter from them promising to do it.  Chase Bank made huge loans to Donald that were unsecured because they knew his father would pay the loans off, and he was such a big customer they wanted to curry favor with him.

And Deutsche Bank has been a major Russian money laundering bank.  They`ve paid over $600 million in fines for laundering Russian money in New York, in Germany and in Cyprus. 

And relevant to this also, Donald Trump`s commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, was the vice chairman of a bank in Cyprus, a huge money laundering operation whose CEO is the former head of Deutsche Bank and whose other vice chairman is an appointee of Vladimir Putin.

O`DONNELL:  David, knowing what you know about Donald Trump`s finances, as you studied them.  When Donald Trump`s -- if he came to the point where he had to look around for backers for his loans, co-signers for his loans, is Russia where he would end up looking? 

JOHNSTON:  Well, it would be the best place for him to go and it fits with the family`s own public statements they`ve tried to walk back since about getting lots of assets from Russia. 

But, you know, Donald may well have other backers.  The next places to look would be the Saudis, the Emiratis, and perhaps some people in Turkey, given Michael Flynn, his national security adviser, having been on the payroll illegally of Turkish interests when he was in the White House.  And what`s really surprising, what you heard is if their names are on the loan papers, that this wasn`t done with a wink and a nod. 

It would also explain why Deutsche Bank, as "The New York Times" reported I believe last year, wouldn`t make a particular loan to Donald.  If he`s president or about to become president, those Russian oligarchs certainly would not co-sign any loan papers, and that would explain Deutsche Bank saying no to the loan because Donald himself, he`s not someone who is credit worthy for large loans. 

O`DONNELL:  Tax expert David Cay Johnston -- thank you for starting us off tonight, David.  I really appreciate it.

And we are joined now by John Heilemann, national affairs analyst for NBC and MSNBC.  He`s co-host and executive producer of Showtime`s "The Circus".  And Claire McCaskill, former Democratic senator from Missouri, and MSNBC political analyst. 

I want to go to the political implications of where the Deutsche Bank case stands tonight. 

Senator, we have -- the House of Representatives is now getting much, much closer to Donald Trump`s tax returns tonight. 

CLAIRE MCCASKILL, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Yes, and I think if the court looks at these documents in camera, Lawrence, and they confirm what your source has told you, if the court confirms that there are signatures on these loan documents from foreign entities, then that just maybe the House of Representatives` case even stronger.  Because that would be indicative to the court that Congress has to -- needs to look at the implications of a president who is elected when he is leveraged like this by foreign interests. 

And, you know, if your source is right, this is -- this is really going to shake the ground, and if the president wants to clear this up, he could do it by presenting those loan documents tomorrow at a press briefing in the White House. 

O`DONNELL:  Senator McCaskill, let`s stay on this for a minute.  Legally, put on your prosecutor`s hat as a former attorney general.  You said that the court could conceivably examine these documents in camera before deciding -- meaning in their closed room before they decide whether or not to hand them over to the House of Representatives. 

They`ve already allowed a redaction today about whose names appear on these tax returns that the bank says they have.  So, is it very likely, in your view, that that`s the way the court would proceed?  They`d say, OK, let`s take a look at all of this stuff in question, we`ll look at it, we`ll decide if there`s material here that is worthy of being -- fulfilling these subpoenas. 

MCCASKILL:  Yes, I think it`s likely that the court will look at the documents.  Keep in mind, when Donald Trump used to go on and on about how they raided Cohen`s office, they didn`t raid an office, a judge issued a subpoena based -- a search warrant based on documents that had been presented to the court. 

So, the courts here are seeing a lot of things that the public has not seen.  The question is, at what point will the court decide that the public interest demands that oversight have access to this information and that the public should have access to this information? 

I think particularly if there`s somebody`s name -- and I agree with your previous guest.  I think most prosecutors are anxious to look at loan documents, even more so than tax returns because there are all kinds of federal laws against lying on loan documents.  And that`s -- I bet you Donald Trump is more nervous about those loan documents than he is even about the tax returns. 

O`DONNELL:  John Heilemann, this is yet another day in the Trump presidential re-election campaign, the most important word in the Trump re- election campaign today was redacted.  That`s the word in court that is probably covering the words Donald Trump. 

JOHN HEILEMANN, MSNBC NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST:  Right.  And, you know, you think about this, Lawrence, you know, there have been so many instances in which people who are trying to get to the bottom of what`s going on with Donald Trump, particularly the key question, which is like why -- what`s the deal with Donald Trump and Russia and Vladimir Putin?  Why`s he trying to get him into the G -- back into the G8, what would be the G8 if Russia came back?  What was all the contacts about in the election?  All these mysteries, right? 

This, if true, and you said if true before --

O`DONNELL:  Stress if true. 

HEILEMANN:  Got to stress if true, but if true, the reporting that you have your source, it`s the skeleton key, right, that opens -- picks the lock on so many fundamental mysteries of the Trump era. 

The ones we thought Robert Mueller was going to answer and we now know the reason that Robert Mueller didn`t answer them, all the connections, the nexus with Russia on a million levels, political, financial, security, everything else, criminal potentially, was because he was basically told he couldn`t look at this stuff.  This was the stuff he wasn`t allowed to go searching for.  He couldn`t go looking for the skeleton key. 

So, now, if we have the skeleton key, it picks a lot of locks and answers a lot of questions and also puts Trump in a very difficult place politically partly because we are now barreling towards a re-election campaign and we`re also on the clock for the impeachment hearings.  We also know it`s almost Labor Day.  We know decisions have to get made. 

And in this narrative, this moment if the skeleton key suddenly were to emerge, it would, I think, make impeachment proceedings absolutely inevitable starting this fall. 

O`DONNELL:  And it would fast track them. 

HEILEMANN:  Yes, that`s right. 

O`DONNELL:  If true.  The key words of this opening discussion tonight are if true. 

We`re going to squeeze in a break here.  John Heilemann, Claire McCaskill, please stay with us because when we come back, we have new Trump polling numbers that show the president in serious trouble in swing states that he has to win.  States that he won last time where he has a disapproval rating that is above his approval rating now. 

And we have breaking news tonight.  An exclusive new report that Kim Jong- un is developing a new weapon even while Donald Trump continues to insist that he is in love with Kim Jong-un. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL:  President Trump`s national approval rating has always been negative every day of his presidency, more people disapprove of Donald Trump than approve of him, many more, and it is just as bad now in key swing states without which Donald Trump absolutely cannot come close to winning the presidency. 

In Wisconsin, 55 percent disapprove of Donald Trump, 41 percent approve.  In Michigan, 54 percent disapprove with 42 percent approving.  In Iowa, 54 percent disapprove -- disapprove, 43 percent approve. 

In Pennsylvania, 52 percent disapprove, 45 percent approve.  In Arizona, 52 percent disapprove to a 45 approval rating.  And in Ohio, 51 percent disapprove of Donald Trump, and only 45 percent approve.  In Florida, it is closer, 49 percent disapprove of Donald Trump and 48 percent approve.

And Donald Trump won every one of those states in 2016, Every one of them.  And he needed every one of them.  But now that those states have gotten to know Donald Trump a lot better, they disapprove of Donald Trump more than ever. 

Back with us, John Heilemann and Senator Claire McCaskill, former Senator Claire McCaskill. 

Senator McCaskill, what do you make of those approval numbers?  And I notice some agricultural states in there where the approval rating is at its worst. 

MCCASKILL:  Yes, I think it`s really interesting, and we always talk all the time about why Republicans aren`t saying anything about the madness that is Donald Trump.  Why are they not saying anything about him hereby ordering American businesses to do things? 

I`ll tell you, this is going to get tough for people like Joni Ernst in Iowa and Martha McSally in Arizona, and Thom Tillis in North Carolina.  With Trump under water, at what point do these senators who are going to try to hold on to their seats, at what point do they have to break with him and what problems does that cause for them in terms of Republicans who are still crazy about this guy? 

I mean, his numbers are still pretty good, Lawrence, with Republicans.  So I do think it`s going to make things much more difficult, and Chuck Schumer is very happy about that. 

O`DONNELL:  Yes, and John Heilemann, states like Texas and Georgia, Trump is still ahead, but the change in the numbers are absolutely stunning. 

Let`s just take a look at Georgia, for example.  Now he`s down to an approval of 49, a disapproval of 47.  But back at the beginning of his presidency, look at that difference.  He was up at 53/35, almost a 20-point higher approval rating than disapproval rating.  That`s completely closed up in Georgia. 

HEILEMANN:  In Georgia.  It`s ugly. 

O`DONNELL:  Yes. 

HEILEMANN:  And, you know, you think about the -- adds you head into 2020, the president has a huge financial advantage so they have money to go out and try to do what they need to do, what they must do.  Will he pull an inside straight? 

O`DONNELL:  Unless his campaign manager spends it all, which we`re going to discuss later in this hour --  

HEILEMANN:  Possible.

But, you look at the situation where, you know, they got -- they pull this inside straight in 2016, there is no doubt he`s got to put some new states in play because the ones he won he won so narrowly.  You look at the numbers you just laid you.  So, you look at the states that are the reach states that they didn`t win last time, Minnesota, New Mexico, New Hampshire.  These are states where the president`s numbers still have him underwater.  They`re really reach states for him. 

You look at the states that Democrats, not just the swing states they`re ahead in all of them as the numbers point out.  They`re looking at places like Arizona.  They`re looking at places like Georgia.  And these are states where the numbers -- it`s like Trump is trying to reach for states that are out of his grasp because you`ve got to reach for something. 

Democrats are looking at a state like Arizona where numbers aren`t that different than they are in some of these other swing states.  Their reach states are well within their grasp.  And so, you think how narrow that victory was in Trump in 2016, how little Democrats have to do to win and where the reach states are respectively, the president is playing an incredibly weak hand in the places he`s tried that he didn`t get before.  Democrats are playing a very strong hand even in states where they`re normally weak. 

O`DONNELL:  And that was before today`s court filing on the Deutsche Bank case. 

I want to read something about farmers` frustration with the president.  This is from "The New York Times." becoming a political problem for Mr. Trump as he heads into an election year.  On Monday, after a 72-hour period during which Mr. Trump twice escalated his trade war with China, Brian Thalmann, the president of the Minnesota Corn Growers Association, said he could no longer support the president as he did in 2016. 

Senator McCaskill, I don`t know how the farmers -- I don`t know how they took until this weekend some of them to change their mind about supporting the guy who is ruining their markets. 

MCCASKILL:  Well, you have to understand that a lot of the cultural divide issues that are, you know, that`s the meat and potatoes of the Donald Trump presidency, is to try to divide this country along cultural issues and blame the Mexicans and the Muslims for every problem that faces families, especially in rural America. 

I will say that the farmers in our state and in all states like the state I live in are really in a tough position right now.  They`re leveraged.  Their farm land value is going down.  The markets have closed. 

And most importantly, they`ve had terrible natural disasters in terms of flooding and droughts, so they`ve really had a tough couple of years and they`re tired of waiting for Donald Trump to bring China -- and by the way, if they turn back on the markets in China, it will take years for them to regain the place they had when this mess started.  So I do think while there is still a lot of loyalty to Donald Trump in rural America and in rural Missouri, I do think the farmers are getting really frustrated with how they`ve been kicked in the shins over and over by the guy they put in the White House. 

O`DONNELL:  Former Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill and John Heilemann, thank you both for starting us off tonight.  Really appreciate it. 

MCCASKILL:  Thank you. 

O`DONNELL:  And when we come back, we have breaking news in an exclusive new report that Kim Jong-un is developing a new weapon, even though Donald Trump still says he`s in love with Kim Jong-un.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Breaking news tonight. New satellite imagery of a shipyard in North Korea reveals evidence that North Korea is now building a new ballistic missile submarine.

Joining us now is one of the people who revealed this discovery today as part of his work for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Victor Cha. He`s also a former White House National Security Council Director for Asian Affairs and MSNBC Korean Affairs Analyst.

Victor, what do we see in this image that we just had up on the screen?

VICTOR CHA, MSNBC KOREAN AFFAIRS ANALYST, FORMER WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL DIRECTOR FOR ASIAN AFFAIRS & PROFESSOR AT GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY: So, Lawrence, what that is is the secured ship base at the Sinpo submarine shipyard. And while we don`t see the new class of ballistic missile submarine, what we do see there is a missile test barge and a vessel adjacent to that missile test barge, which according to past practice means they may be preparing for a sea-launched ballistic missile test.

Now, I`m not saying that that`s going to happen today or tomorrow, but all the actions that we`re seeing there now, and first really good imagery in quite some time, it`s less than 24 hours old, are consistent with preparations for a submarine-launched ballistic missile test for - most probably for this new class of submarine that they have talked about developing.

O`DONNELL: And where was North Korea on submarine technology prior to now?

CHA: Pretty primitive. Most of it has been of Soviet origin. The old - what we used to called the old Romeo class submarines, very noisy, certainly not capable of launching nuclear-tipped missiles. But what the North Koreans revealed through state news agency last July was their leader Kim Jong-un visiting this new submarine. There was a big picture of a submarine in a dry dock. And experts who looked at that said that is not the old submarine that they used to have, that is a new submarine, and most importantly, it has tubes from which you could launch missiles.

And so what we have found in this imagery is that there is a lot of activity at the warehouse, a lot of camouflage, a shrouding activity by the North Koreans, erecting of cranes that are consistent with - a lot of activity consistent with building this new ballistic missile submarine.

O`DONNELL: And this is obviously threatening to the region, threatening to South Korea or threatening to Japan, but this is also the kind of technology that could be threatening to the United States. There`s the big question of what is the range of a North Korean missile? Well, if it`s coming off a submarine, then the question is how far away is the submarine, and the submarines can get pretty close.

CHA: That`s right. The submarines can get pretty close. They`re much harder to track. Everything North Korea has launched thus far in terms of missiles has been from the ground. And those - while they are - it`s a challenge to target them, you can target them. But once these submarines are under water, it`s much harder to find them either to target or to preemptively attack them.

And the missiles we think they would launch from this are something known as the KN-11, which has a range of 750 to 1,000 miles. But all they need to do is get close enough to Guam, which is a hub for the United States in terms of our regional defense in East Asia. If this continues to move forward, it would represent a significant advancement in North Korean missile and nuclear threat capabilities to the United States.

O`DONNELL: And Victor, quick last word about - Donald Trump has achieved so far absolutely nothing with North Korea, and this shows that he`s actually losing more ground with North Korea as Kim Jong-un is moving into an even more aggressive stance in terms of this weapon`s capacity to strike the United States.

CHA: Oh, absolutely. I mean, the North Koreans have been - while this diplomacy with Trump has been going on, North Korea has not been denuclearizing. If anything, they had been augmenting both their nuclear weapons stockpiles, their fissile material, and as this shows, a new leg of the nuclear triad, if you will, that would give them a sea-based capability, not just a ground-based capability.

O`DONNELL: Victor Cha, thank you very much for joining us with your important report tonight. Really appreciate it.

CHA: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: And when we come back, the Amazon is on fire, and the President of Brazil is behaving like President Trump. And later, the Trump campaign may be following the President`s lead when it comes to corrupt business practices.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Donald Trump`s number-one ally in South America is rejecting international help for the global catastrophe happening in the Amazon rain forest. Yesterday, President Trump skipped a meeting by G7 leaders on climate change where they agreed to a $22 million aid package to help fight fires in the Amazon rainforest.

Brazil`s President Bolsonaro, a right-wing climate change denier who has been referred to as the "Trump of the Tropics," said today he will reject a $22 million international aid package agreed to by the leaders of the G7 unless he receives a personal apology from French President Emmanuel Macron for criticizing his handling of the crisis.

At the same time, President Bolsonaro has hurled his own Trumpian criticisms at Emmanuel Macron. In a Facebook post, the Brazilian President insulted the appearance of the French President`s wife, and Bolsonaro`s Chief of Staff mocked the effort to help the Amazon, telling a Brazilian news outlet, "Macron cannot even avoid a foreseeable fire in a church that is a world heritage site," referring to the fire at Notre-Dame cathedral earlier this year.

Many believe that the fires in the Amazon are a direct result of President Bolsonaro`s policy of being soft on agricultural interests, trying to clear the rainforest to create more farmland. President Bolsonaro has baselessly blamed the fires on environmental non-profit groups, he claims, set the fires to make him look bad.

President Trump continues to back President Bolsonaro, tweeting today, "He and his country have the full and complete support of the USA." President Bolsonaro responded to Trump`s tweet, thanking him for his support and then saying in a very Trump-like way, "The fake news campaign built against our sovereignty will not work."

Joining us now is Paul Rosolie, environmentalist and filmmaker, who has been in the Amazon rainforest recently.

All right. So it sounded like - on that final tweet, you couldn`t tell the difference between which President from which country is tweeting there.

PAUL ROSOLIE, ENVIRONMENTALIST & FILMMAKER: No, it sounds like we just have a bunch of guys beating their chests together and completely overlooking the issue at hand.

O`DONNELL: Let`s take a look at the video that you shot recently down there in the Amazon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROSOLIE: I`m not going to be able to stay here long because this fire is spreading, but everything behind me right now is the forest that I`ve been working to protect for the last 13 years. It`s burning like this every day. There are literally millions of animals in this forest that cannot escape right now. And if you think our planet can survive this every day in the Amazon, you have another thing coming.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: What started the fires?

ROSOLIE: This is slash-and-burn agriculture. And the thing that everyone is getting wrong about this story is that this has been going on for decades. This is nothing new. We actually had higher deforestation rates in the 2000s, but with Bolsonaro, things are going - ramping up again. He`s trying to dismantle all of the progress that Brazil has made.

O`DONNELL: Have we seen this kind of burning before at this scale?

ROSOLIE: We actually have. It was actually worse in the 2000s. And Brazil has actually come a really long way with conservation, but Bolsonaro is interested in opening up the Amazon and deregulating and sort of taking a step back on those things.

O`DONNELL: Opening up how much?

ROSOLIE: Well, that`s - no one has the answer to that. And the danger here is that - South America is a powerhouse for meat production and vegetable production. I mean, this is - half of Asia gets meat from them. They`re destabilizing the ability of the Amazon to provide that moisture. And that`s going to hit them economically. So this is short-term gain versus long-term loss, and it`s not smart.

O`DONNELL: And what about international efforts to help? What can they possibly do if the President of Brazil says stay out?

ROSOLIE: Well, that`s the thing. I mean, first of all, this has to transcend political boundaries. But yes, this is in Brazilian territories. So he - and this guy is not going to buckle under this pressure easily. You can see what he`s doing.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

ROSOLIE: So I really think that this is - we`re going to have to go for the wallet. I mean, this - we know we need the Amazon on a global scale. So, provide incentives for Brazil to keep their forests standing. I mean, no one is really benefitting from this. In the long-term, we`re all going to lose out.

O`DONNELL: Did you hear anything in the G7 aid package that you think would actually help?

ROSOLIE: No. And that`s the other thing. People are treating this like a California wildfire. This is the Amazon. Fires here are not natural. They were set by humans. There`s a lot of ridiculous things going around where people are understanding the big picture but not getting the nuance of this story. You can`t just go put out the fires.

The only way to really fix this problem is to keep the standing rainforest healthy so that that rain comes and keeps the jungle from burning every year and to incentivize South American countries that have Amazonian territory to keep their rainforests standing. That`s the only way we`re going to preserve the Amazon.

O`DONNELL: Paul Rosolie, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate your report on this.

And when we come back, members of the Trump campaign team might be using the campaign money to get rich themselves. What could be more shocking about the Trump campaign? That`s next.

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O`DONNELL: "Daily Mail" is reporting that Trump`s supporters` contributions to the Trump campaign are making the Trump campaign manager very, very rich.

According to "Daily Mail," "Brad Parscale`s slew of companies and their subsidiaries are now getting a percentage of most of the contributions to the Trump 2020 campaign, about $56.8 million so far this year. There`s also money coming from the Republican National Committee, which made Parscale Strategy one of the biggest vendors. And the RNC spent more than $1.3 million with Parscale` Strategy in the first quarter of this year. And the RNC paid Parscale Digital $7.3 million so far this year for its services."

This is not the first time Brad Parscale`s wealth has been called into question. Last year, "ABC News" reported that Parscale`s companies billed the Trump campaign and the Republican Party more than $100 million since Parscale first began working for the campaign in 2015. According to "ABC News," "Although it is difficult to know how much of that money went to Parscale himself, he emerged as one of the most richly compensated veterans of the President`s campaign."

Brad Parscale never worked in politics prior to Donald Trump`s Presidential campaign. Parscale was promoted from Donald Trump`s digital media manager to campaign manager in 2018. Donald Trump`s political career has meant a reversal of fortune for Brad Parscale, who filed for bankruptcy in 2002.

Stuart Stevens has run Republican presidential campaigns, and he will join us after this break to follow the money in the Trump Presidential campaign. That`s next.

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O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Stuart Stevens, a Republican political consultant who served as Chief Strategist for Mitt Romney`s 2012 Presidential campaign. He`s now an informal advisor to Bill Weld, who is running for the Republican Presidential nomination.

Stuart, what do you make of this story about the Trump campaign manager getting so rich off of the Trump Presidential campaign?

STUART STEVENS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST, FORMER SENIOR STRATEGIST, ROMNEY FOR PRESIDENT 2012 & ADVISOR TO FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR WILLIAM WELD: Well, it`s a little too perfect, isn`t it? Look, in a moral world, we`d have to admit that all of us political consultants are no doubt grossly overpaid. But this just seems like the heist - after the heist scene in "Goodfellas" when they`ve gone out and bought the furs and caddies. I mean, why not just wait until after the election before going and buying all the real estate and all of the cars? I mean, it`s just a little bit much.

O`DONNELL: Yes. I mean, the FEC basically reports how the expenditures are going. And so it is possible to track this kind of thing and figure out, although not always so clearly, who`s getting how much money in these campaigns. But your point about, do you really have to go out and buy the multi-million dollar homes and the wildly expensive cars while you`re running the campaign?

STEVENS: Yes. I mean, look, there`s a myth that working in a Presidential campaign is a big financial bonanza for consultants, at least normally. The sort of culture has been that it`s a privilege to work in a presidential campaign and that people do it and make less money, a lot less money, actually, than they normally do in a year in which they might do 10 or 15 governor or senator races together.

I know in the 2000 Bush campaign, Karl Rove sold his company before and went on a salary, and that was it. That`s all he made. And that`s pretty much the way it`s been. I`ve never worked on a campaign where you got a percentage of the media-buy in a presidential campaign. I just don`t understand this. If this is accurate, why are they paying a novice campaign manager millions of dollars for a world in which you could get the best in the business for about 150K a year? It doesn`t make sense.

O`DONNELL: But Stuart, it seems to be part of the spirit of Trump world. There doesn`t seem to be anyone around it who doesn`t see it as a way of getting rich.

STEVENS: Yes. I mean, what I always ask myself is, so how do your donors out there feel? I mean, these large donors to the campaign are usually people that don`t like to see money wasted. And how do you feel if you`re a small donor to the campaign? I mean, you`re pledging 10, 20, $30 a month, which means a lot to go to the Trump campaign, because presumably you believe in Donald Trump, and you see this sort of extravagance and just backing up a truck to a campaign.

It seems to me it would really hurt morale inside that campaign because, I can promise you, most people in that campaign are working hard, they`re working long hours, and they`re not making a lot of money.

O`DONNELL: And Stuart, to the approval polls we were showing earlier in the hour, showing that Donald Trump is in negative territory in approval/disapproval in key swing states that he can`t possibly win the Electoral College without those swing states And then he`s just kind of stunningly close in states like Georgia where the Republicans should have a massive lead. What`s your reading of that?

STEVENS: My reading is it`s early. I think Donald Trump is beatable. It`s very hard to beat an incumbent President, particularly with the current campaign finance laws in which an incumbent President can raise unlimited money. The last incumbent not in the federal funding system to lose was Herbert Hoover, and he had a bad year. But it`s ominous. If the Democrats get their act together and coalesce behind a really good ticket, they should be able to win this race. But I do think, looking at polls now and trying to predict what`s going to happen November 2020, it`s not very useful.

O`DONNELL: And Stuart, we do know historically that when an incumbent president is challenged in the primaries within his own party, that incumbent president never wins re-election. Every single time it`s happened.

STEVENS: Yes. It`s interesting. If you sort of drill down in that, whether or not that`s a leading or a trailing indicator, it`s the fact that there is a primary an indication of a larger weakness and that`s why he loses or it`s the fact that he`s in a primary why he loses. But the reality is, the primaries have proven to be very detrimental. And Donald Trump has a real primary on his hand.

I mean, Governor Bill Weld is running in New Hampshire. We`ve had nine New England candidates who have run in New Hampshire primaries since the modern primary began. Six won and three came in second. He is a hugely successful Governor in next-door state, won re-election with the largest margin ever, former Reagan-appointed prosecutor. He`s going to - he`s out there working it, and he`s going to give Donald Trump a real fight in New Hampshire.

O`DONNELL: And Stuart, if there are more Republican candidates getting in there, challenging Donald Trump, what does that do to the dynamics of the Republican primary?

STEVENS: Well, I think everybody ought to be against Donald Trump. So I can`t really be against that. I think - my instinct is that a robust primary is good for the party. I think it`s actually good for Governor Weld because I think he will deal with that and will show that he`s the best candidate. I think that the idea that Republicans will have nominated someone like Donald Trump and not challenge him is just unthinkable to me.

O`DONNELL: Stuart Stevens, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

STEVENS: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: And before we go tonight, I want to go back to where we began at this hour when we added some elements to the reporting about Deutsche Bank`s filing in court today, about the possibility of Deutsche Bank having copies of Donald Trump`s tax returns.

As I said at the beginning of this hour, and I want to say this carefully, a source close to Deutsche Bank revealed to me, single source close to Deutsche Bank, that Donald Trump`s tax returns show that he pays very little income tax and, more importantly, that his loans with Deutsche Bank have Russian co-signers. Now I want to stress, that`s a single source. This has not been confirmed by "NBC News."

I have not seen any documentation from Deutsche Bank that supports this and verifies this.  This is just a single source who has revealed that to me.  And that`s where that stands at this point.  It`s going to need a lot more verification before that can be a confirmable fact.

So 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