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Interview with Tom Steyer. TRANSCRIPT: 1/9/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell.

Guests: Marcy Kaptur, Ed Markey

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

And thank you. Thank you for that graphic that you put up on your wall about campaign ad spending, which is the most extraordinary graphic you have done in a while.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": It took us two and a half days to figure out how to do it. We had to change the whole studio and we had to like act it out and block it like it was a play.

O`DONNELL: I love the dramatic moment where the whole scale has to change.


O`DONNELL: So, we -- I was watching that happen, and I started kind of jumping up and down and saying, we need that. We need that. So, we`re going to cut a piece of that.


O`DONNELL: And use it later in the show as part of our introduction to candidate Tom Steyer.

MADDOW: Very good.

O`DONNELL: Who is the second-biggest column of spending in that graphic. He`s joining us tonight for his very first interview on this program as a presidential candidate on a day when he`s surging in the polls and just qualified, as you pointed out --


O`DONNELL: -- for next week`s debate. There was only going to be five people on that stage, and now, Tom Steyer is going to be in that stage.

MADDOW: That two polls that came through for him tonight, he not only qualified in them, he like qualified with an exclamation point, did hugely well in those polls. And he is the guy from who you have to change the scale of the map in order to account for his spending.

O`DONNELL: I like the question mark you put in your air in the voice when you reported the part about he`s in second place in South Carolina in one of those polls.


O`DONNELL: And I -- I think we all have a question mark about that.

MADDOW: Exactly.

O`DONNELL: That is a surprise.

MADDOW: I am looking forward to your interview.

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel, and thank you for the graphic. It`s going to be great.

MADDOW: All yours, my friend.

O`DONNELL: As I was just saying to Rachel, the stage was all set, it was set for next week`s Democratic presidential campaign debate. Only five candidates qualifying this time until tonight in these two dramatic polls were released state, state polls showing Tom Steyer surging in Nevada, surging in South Carolina. He`s now in third place in Nevada and as we said second place in South Carolina.

Tom Steyer will join us at the end of this hour for his first interview as a presidential candidate here on THE LAST WORD. And I will ask him about that stunning graphic that Rachel used in her program showing just how much money Tom Steyer has spent to get to this point where the polls can lift him on to that debate stage.

Frank Rich will also join us later in the hour. His latest article for New York magazine is about what will happen after Trump. Frank Rich writes, all cults come to an end often abruptly, and Trump`s Republican Party is nothing if not a cult.

Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey will be joining us tonight. He was in that briefing with the Trump administration officials yesterday about Iran, the one about the briefing about which one Republican senator said was absolutely insane. That was the Republican senator`s description of it. It was the worst briefing that that Republican senator had ever seen. We`ll get Ed Markey`s description of that briefing and we`ll ask Senator Markey if he thinks enough Republicans will vote to subpoena John Bolton to testify in these Senate impeachment trial.

Today, Nancy Pelosi divided her public comments about equally, between what she called the two I`s, Iran and impeachment. Once again tonight, the articles of impeachment will spend the night in the House of Representatives in the custody of Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Here is why she said today about why she has not sent the articles of impeachment against President Trump to the United States for trial.


REPORTER: So, are you holding onto the articles of indefinitely?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): No. I`m not holding them indefinitely. I`ll send them over when I`m ready, and that will probably be soon. We want to see what they`re willing to do and the manner in which they will do it.

But we will not let them say, oh, this is just like Clinton, fair is fair. It`s not. Documents, documentation, witnesses, facts, truth, that`s what they`re afraid of.


O`DONNELL: Earlier this week, a few, and only a few, Democratic senators started to make public comments suggesting that Nancy Pelosi should send the articles of impeachment to the Senate now, but today, Democratic senators are now all fully supportive of Speaker Pelosi`s strategy.


REPORTER: Would you like to see the speaker send the articles over now?

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA): Well, I think that`s up to the speaker.

REPORTER: Should the articles of impeachment be sent over to the Senate now?

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): It is appropriate for Speaker Pelosi to do everything she can to secure witnesses. Given the public statements of Leader McConnell yesterday, I expect this is going to move forward fairly quickly, but I fully respect the prerogative of the leader of the House to ensure there is as fair a trial as we could possibly secure.

REPORTER: You told yesterday that you support Pelosi sending the articles over. A few of your Democratic colleagues have echoed the same. Have you heard from any other Democratic colleagues that it`s time to kind of get on with the trial?

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): What I have heard from my Democratic colleagues very emphatically is profound respect for the speaker`s decision. She has waited, and the result has been additional evidence.

O`DONNELL: So they`re all back in line with Speaker Pelosi now after there was a few wanderings off in their own directions.

President Trump continued to engage in his jury tampering strategy by meeting with Senator Mitch McConnell yesterday at the White House where they, according to a source, discussed the format of the Senate trial and Senator McConnell gave the president his current reading of where the Republican jurors stand in the trial that hasn`t yet begun.

As Mitch McConnell`s impatience with Nancy Pelosi`s holding on to the articles of impeachment grows, today, Mitch McConnell said this.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): If the speaker continues to refuse to take her own accusations to trial, the Senate will move forward actually with the business of our people.


O`DONNELL: OK. So there is the threat. And the people`s business that Mitch McConnell said the Senate would turn to next week, if they`re not ready to go to trial on the impeachment case, is the revised version of NAFTA, which just passed the Republican controlled Senate Finance Committee just this week and is not ready to go to the Senate floor because the other committees of jurisdiction in the Senate are moving so slowly.

Nancy Pelosi, on the other hand, got the revised version of NAFTA passed through all the committees of jurisdiction in the House and passed on the House floor last year. And like virtually everything else, the Pelosi-run House of Representatives has passed and sent to the Senate. The revised version of NAFTA is still waiting for action in the United States Senate.

So when Mitch McConnell threatens today to turn to doing the people`s business if he doesn`t get the articles of impeachment next week, Nancy Pelosi said this.


PELOSI: He said if you don`t send them over, I`m going to pass the Mexico- U.S.-Canada trade agreement. OK.


O`DONNELL: Mitch McConnell cannot threaten Nancy Pelosi by saying he`s going to pass the legislation that he has sent to the Senate and wants him to pass. That kind of threat will give Nancy Pelosi the incentive to hold the articles of impeachment longer.

One reason Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump desperately want the articles of impeachment sent to the United States immediately is what has happened in the time that Nancy Pelosi has been holding on to those articles.


PELOSI: In the past few weeks since we`ve had this, shall we say, impasse because they won`t reveal the terms of engagement, many things have been accomplished that are collateral benefit to the discussion, and they relate to, on December 20th, new e-mails showed that 91 minutes after Trump`s phone call with the Ukrainian president, a top OMB aide asked DOD to hold off on sending military aid to the Ukraine, directly related to that call.

On December 29th, this report public revolutions about Mulvaney`s role in the delay of the aid, the efforts of lawyers and what has to justify the delay and the alarm that the delay caused within the administration.

Last Thursday, newly unredacted Pentagon e-mails exposed serious concerns by administration officials about the legality of the president`s hold on the aid. And just this week, Bolton announced that he would comply with a subpoena compelling his testimony. As lawyers have stated, he has new relevant information.


O`DONNELL: Leading off our discussion tonight is the Democratic Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur of Ohio. She is the co-chair of the House Ukraine Caucus, and her district includes Toledo, Ohio, where President Trump held a campaign rally tonight.

Jason Johnson is politics editor of and professor of politics and media at Morgan State University. And Eugene Robinson is the associate editor and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for "The Washington Post." Both Jason and Eugene are MSNBC political analysts.

And, Congresswoman Kaptur, first of all, I want to go to what the reaction was in the House of Representatives in the last couple of days when you started to hear senators like Richard Blumenthal and a few others saying Speaker Pelosi should send us the articles of impeachment now. They have reversed themselves, the ones who started to say those things, because it seems Speaker Pelosi is in complete control of what this strategy is.

What was your reaction in the House when you heard those senators start to make their own suggestions about it?

REP. MARCY KAPTUR (D-OH): Well, let me just say that I think that it`s very important that we create a process whereby the truth be known. And the administration obstructed justice on so many levels in terms of witnesses who were to come before us, before our committees of travel logs and meetings that were held relative to Ukraine and the withholding of aid to Ukraine.

We were not able to assemble that information in the house. So I think what the speaker is doing is very proper, and I`m glad to see that this Senate, which was less focused on what we have been doing in the house, are paying attention and seeing that this temporary pause is an effort to obtain the truth. And I think when John Bolton came out and made some indications that he was willing to come to testify, I think that began to move the dial.

O`DONNELL: And is it also part of the speaker`s strategy to, because the State of the Union Address is scheduled for February 4th, to delay this trial long enough so that Donald Trump does not have a verdict from that trial before the State of the Union Address?

KAPTUR: Well, that sounds like a good strategy to me.

O`DONNELL: So you think it`s politically wise to play the politics of that scheduling and even if that becomes publically apparent that that`s what the speaker is doing, that there is a political element to the scheduling so that the president doesn`t have the kind of State of the Union Address that he might want to have?

KAPTUR: Well, everything that we do is political. But I think that if we can, in fact, have clarity from the Senate a little bit more on the kinds of witnesses they will call, what we were not able to do in the House, which is so vital to making sure that we abide by the strictures of the Constitution, no one is above the law. I can tell you in terms of my own committee, the fact that Secretary Perry that led the delegation back in may, he was unwilling to give us his travel logs. He was unwilling to tell us with whom he met, what he did.

Informally he would say things to me. He would never say it on the record, and he`s left the administration. Oh, my goodness. That is really -- the American people deserve to know what these individuals who were Trump appointees were doing and who they were speaking with, particularly in view of the fact that this military aid was then withheld.

We simply don`t know and we need to know and we don`t have that evidence.

O`DONNELL: Gene Robinson, as I watch this strategy play out, I was surprised as anyone that Nancy Pelosi decided to hold on to the articles of impeachment. I couldn`t have told you exactly what the strategy is. I still can`t.

However, when I see it has driven Mitch McConnell to go to the Senate floor and threaten Nancy Pelosi by saying, if you don`t give me the articles of impeachment, I`m going to do exactly what you want me to do.


O`DONNELL: And start -- I mean, Mitch McConnell has lost on this.

ROBINSON: Exactly. He keeps going to the floor and trying to say something that will dislodge these articles.

And what Nancy Pelosi is doing is essentially, for whatever reason, I confess I`m not sure I understand -- actually, I`m sure I don`t understand fully her strategy. But what she`s doing is what Mitch McConnell does, which is just to be stubborn and not to care what sort of attacks she gets.

That`s what McConnell does all the time. Mitch don`t care. And he`s been very successful that way.

Nancy Pelosi is basically doing the same thing, and she essentially said, read my lips today. I`ll send them when I`m ready. And I gather that`s exactly what she`s going to do and there is nothing Mitch McConnell really can do about that.

O`DONNELL: And, Jason Johnson, you can see the shape of some of the strategy, but I`m sure Nancy Pelosi has more in mind than I can see. One of those things is that moment where she said, here is all the things we have learned since the articles of impeachment passed. We have learned all this while I have been holding on to them, and as this Senate trial, you know, is waiting to get started.

Also, you look at what Mitt Romney said about he`s completely in favor of witnesses testifying, John Bolton in particular. He`s basically said, I am a vote for that. There is at least one Republican vote for that.

So far, you know, I don`t see any price Nancy Pelosi is paying here in holding on to these, and I can see what she`s been gaining so far.

JASON JOHNSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. Lawrence, like why throw pearls before swine? There is no reason for her to give this report, give the articles of impeachment over to Mitch McConnell so he can throw them in the circular file because she knows that`s what he wants to do.

The longer that Nancy Pelosi has waited, but it increases the likelihood that Chuck Schumer and other Democrats, despite some grumbling this weak, will have a stronger hand in negotiating how the eventual trial occurs. That`s the most important thing here. It doesn`t really matter when the articles of impeachment come over, as long as the process is one that everybody can agree with. I don`t care if that happens in February. I don`t care if that happens in March.

Even the Democrats running for president right now realized there is a value to being actively involved in this process even if they`re campaigning.

So, I think it`s been a smart idea. I wish the Democrats in the Senate had kept their mouths quiet because obviously they were getting nervous for reasons that make no sense. But ultimately, this is a good idea on Pelosi`s part.

And another, I also said it quickly, Mitch McConnell did this all the time. He held up Merrick Garland. How could anyone complain about what Nancy Pelosi is doing when hundreds of judges under the Obama administration were held without a position under Mitch McConnell?

O`DONNELL: The other thing that happened today, Congresswoman Kaptur, while Nancy Pelosi has been holding on to the articles that is buried in a bunch of inanity that Donald Trump spoke today in a public discussion in front of reporters, I don`t want to call it a press conference, which included praise for the Village People and their gay anthem YMCA, which we will get to later in the program and show. In the middle of all that, when he was asked about John Bolton testifying, he said that it was OK with him. He had no problem with it. He just wants to protect executive privilege.

So, he just in that moment released his directive to John Bolton to not testify so the door has become even wider open to John Bolton`s testimony.

KAPTUR: We welcome John Bolton. I hope that he will come before the Senate.

O`DONNELL: And what about the House? Will the House also try to get Bolton testimony at some point?

KAPTUR: I would welcome that. I`m not on any of those committees of jurisdiction. All I know is that the situation with Ukraine is extremely serious. It is the scrimmage line for liberty in Europe today.

Russia is working in many maligned ways and adjoining countries and frankly in this country through cyber warfare and so forth to create disunity and to disrupt our normal order of doing business. And they`re very serious. They want to break up our NATO alliance. They have invaded several countries including Ukraine most recently in order to prevent accession (ph) to the greater European Union and ultimately to NATO.

And this is serious. This is serious security business for our country and for liberty-loving people everywhere. So I think that we have to look below some of the theatrical politics here and think about strategically what is at stake for us and the tremendous price that this country has paid for the liberty of our allies.

O`DONNELL: The co-chair of the House Ukraine Caucus, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, Eugene Robinson, Jason Johnson -- thank you all for joining us and starting us off tonight. Really appreciate it.

JOHNSON: Thanks.

O`DONNELL: And coming up in this hour, we will be joined by the Democratic presidential candidate who surprised the field tonight and suddenly qualified for next week`s debate stage after a big surge in the polls. He`s now in third place in Nevada, second place in South Carolina. He will make his first appearance as a presidential candidate here on THE LAST WORD later in this hour.

And up next, Senator Ed Markey.


O`DONNELL: Tonight, the House of Representatives passed a new War Powers Resolution to restrict military action against Iran. The vote was largely along party lines with three Republicans voting in favor of the resolution and eight Democrats voting against the vote. It came the day after the House and Senate were briefed on the Iranian session with closed door sessions with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and CIA Director Gina Haspel.

Republican Senator Mike Lee called the Senate version of that briefing yesterday, quote, these are his words, absolutely insane.

Today, the Senate`s Democratic leader Chuck Schumer revealed new details of what happened behind closed doors yesterday.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): Only 15 senators were able to ask questions before the administration decided they had to go. As many as 82 senators were left hanging in the balance without a chance to ask their questions. It was a sight like none I have ever seen in my time in the Senate.

The White House representative assured me the group would be back in short order. I said, within a week? He said that in the room, the SCIF, he said they will definitely come back.

This morning the White House told me they would explore coming back. They`re already backing off, as usual.


O`DONNELL: Today, Republican Senator Mike Lee responded to Republican Senator Marco Rubio`s claim that yesterday`s Senate briefing was a good briefing.


REP. MIKE LEE (R-UT): I think he must have been in a different briefing than I attended. I literally find it difficult to imagine how my friend Marco, who is smart, who listens carefully, who caring about these things, how he could emerge from that meeting and say that it was good.

It was terrible. I think it was an unmitigated disaster.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Democratic Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts. He`s a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

And, Senator, here is a question I haven`t asked you before. Who do you agree with, Mike Lee or Marco Rubio?

SEN. ED MARKEY (D-MA): You know, actually it is a good day for America when you can ask that kind of a question.


MARKEY: When the Republican Party is actually having a debate over a Trump policy. So, you know, I attended the same briefing that Senator Lee did, a frustrating, you know, session where information was grudgingly being dispensed by the cabinet officials of Donald Trump. And it was almost a tag team where each one of the senators who was asking a question was trying to elicit another small morsel of information from them.

And then what they announced after 75 minutes like it was a game show, time`s up. We`re sorry. We don`t have any more time for you to continue to try to get us to give you the specifics of what the imminent threat was to the country, what the targets were, how many days or weeks we really thought would elapse before it would happen.

And, so, at the end of that session, you could just feel the palpable unhappiness of many of the senators who were willing to sit there for hours in addition to get the answers to the key questions that the American people want to know because ultimately we could be talking about a commitment of American young men and women to a conflict with Iran and the precipitating cause would be the assassination of Soleimani and they just stood up all at once and just walked out of the room without allowing us to ask follow-on questions.

O`DONNELL: Well, the president added to the story today, he added an imminent threat. Let`s listen to what he said today about this, the possibility of their intent to burn down the embassy.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We caught a total monster, and we took him out. And that should have happened a long time ago. We did it because they were looking to blow up our embassy. We also did it for other reasons that were very obvious.


O`DONNELL: Did they say anything to you yesterday about blowing up the embassy?

MARKEY: No, we did not hear about blowing up the embassy yesterday in that briefing, and I sat through it from beginning to end. And, so, if that was the threat, if it was imminent, if it was going to happen within a couple of days, they had every opportunity for 75 minutes to let us know that. And that would have cast all of this in a different light because we had so many diplomat diplomatic and military personnel who would have been in danger.

But we didn`t hear that. And ultimately, you know, sometimes you just think that Donald Trump is like making it up as he goes along in order to provide answers because he can understand the unease of the American people that in fact we might have just crossed a trip wire that could have potential long term catastrophic consequences for our national security.

O`DONNELL: I just want to turn to the trial, the impeachment trial that`s coming up. You know Senator Romney better than most of the other senators. He was your governor of Massachusetts. You were in the congressional delegation while he was governor. You worked with him.

He obviously has said he`s willing to vote for John Bolton to be called as a witness. He said that he`d like to hear from witnesses, plural.

Is he the only one? Do you think there will be enough Republican votes in the Senate to call John Bolton at least as a witness?

MARKEY: Well, you know, it is hard for me to get inside the internal workings of the cerebral mechanisms of Republican senators. So I`m very glad that Senator Romney is now, you know, willing to, you know, move forward on Bolton testifying.

Obviously we`re going to need four of the senators on the Republican side to join with the 47 Democrats or those who caucus with the Democrats in the Senate. We would have no way of knowing what would happen a week from now, two weeks from now whenever the trial begins on the Senate floor.

My hope would be that at a minimum we could find four Republican United States senators who would say that due process would be well-served if the four witnesses, that is Mick Mulvaney, John Bolton, the OMB officials who were talked to about withholding the $380 million to the Ukraine government were allowed to testify and that that would be something that would add on to the information that the House of Representatives sent over. And it would be those who are in most direct contact with Donald Trump who could give us the most accurate representation of what he was saying and thinking at that time.

So my hope is that four would step forward to give us the votes to get to 51. Then if ultimately, when we vote on removal of the president they decide not to do so, it will have at least happened all the evidence was out on the table, all of the witnesses were heard and so I have my fingers crossed. But I have been disappointed over the last three years by the Republican side in many, many instances with regard to bucking Donald Trump.

O`DONNELL: Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

MARKEY: Thanks for having me on.

O`DONNELL: Up next, Donald Trump and the Village People and YMCA. Many people thought Donald Trump was honoring the United States Marine Corps when he came up with his name for the revisions of NAFTA, but he explained today that it had nothing to do with the U.S. Marines. It was all about the Village People, and YMCA.


O`DONNELL: Today we have another demonstration of what happens when Donald Trump is working without a teleprompter.


TRUMP: I spoke to Secretary General, yesterday and we had a great conversation. He was very - I think he was actually excited about it and I actually had a name. NATO, right? And then you have ME - Middle East. You`ll call it, NATOME. I said what a beautiful name, NATOME.

I`m good at names, right? USMCA, like the song `YMCA.` Everybody - nobody could remember, USMCA. I said, think of the song `YMCA.` Now everybody says it.


O`DONNELL: There was more insanity in that short burst of Presidential speech than in our country`s entire higher of Presidential speeches. Sorry, United States Marine Corp, if you thought the Mexican Trade Agreement was named in your honor by using your initials USMCA, you were wrong.

President Trump did not have the U.S. Marine Corp in mind. He had these people in mind. The Village People made the song `YMCA` a hit in 1979 when Donald Trump was a married man, prowling New York City`s night clubs without his wife. So remember that Trump supporters.

The Trump name for the new Mexican trade agreement is in honor of not the United States marines, it`s in honor of the Village People. Those Village People right there on your TV screen, which is interesting but not outright crazy like say, the Middle East should be in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, an organization which each member pledges to join in the military defense of every other member.

That means that every member of NATO would be immediately militarily engaged in the Middle East, every time a missile is fired, including missiles fired by Donald Trump in the Middle East.

It is impossible to listen to Donald Trump say things like that and then fall into lines supporting him unless you have the capacity to completely surrender your ability to think.

Which brings us to Frank Rich`s latest brilliant article in New York magazine in which he says, "All cults come to an end, often abruptly, and Trump`s Republican Party is nothing if not a cult."

Frank Rich takes a look at what would happen to the Trump Toadies and for that he takes a look at Richard Nixon`s defenders and the Vichy collaborators of World War II. Frank Rich will join us next.


O`DONNELL: In Frank Rich`s latest article from New York magazine, he writes, "Once Trump has vacated the Oval Office and possibly for decades thereafter, his government like any other deposed strongman`s will be subjected to a forensic colonoscopy to root out buried crimes, whether against humanity or the rule of law or both. With time, everything will come out - it always does."

Joining us now is Frank Rich, Writer-at-large for New York magazine. He is also an executive producer of HBO`s `Succession` and was an executive producer for the Emmy Award winning HBO series, `Veep` which will live forever online and Frank, can we use the Succession theme music for your introductions?

We can get it for cheap, right?


O`DONNELL: And the composer was --?

RICH: His name is Nicholas Patel.

O`DONNELL: Nicholas Patel, yes.

RICH: Yes. Brilliant guy.

O`DONNELL: It`s fantastic as is the show.

RICH: Thanks.

O`DONNELL: So you`re saying something that I have long believed in and it`s one of the things that I find so strange about people like William Barr. William Barr knows there`s going to be another Attorney General someday and it`s going to be a Democratic Attorney General and that Attorney General is going to have the power to look at every single thing William Barr did and it`s coming at some point.

RICH: It`s coming and you feel these people like him and that crackpot Senator whose parroting Putin down in then Louisiana, John Kennedy in quotes. They`re acting as if there`s no tomorrow. There`s never a reckoning and what I tried to do in this piece is make the point, whoever goes to jail, doesn`t go to jail.

Whatever crimes are found out now or in the course of a Trump presidency is nothing compared to what`s been buried that none of us know about, not even a very zealous investigative press has found yet and people will be turning over rocks for decades.

And if you look back at history, General Motors and Ford, both have executives who were essentially Hitler appeasers and in case of General Motors, involved - were involved in the armaments that were used against American troops and manufacturing them in Germany during the war.

It took 40 years to find all that out but all came out and people who support these kind of regimes, whether it be appeasement, then or America First in the thirties or Trump, which is you know, let`s face it, a criminal presidency, however you want to slice it.

It`s - it`s - there`s going to be reckoning and one other thing I want to mention is you can only take the Nixon analogy so far because yes, Nixon abused his office. He also tried to throw a Presidential campaign but it would never occur to him to collaborate and aid the Soviet Union.


RICH: America`s own enemy. It would never occur to him to my knowledge to break up immigrant families at the border and turn away refugees from horrors in other countries. It would never occur to him to quite the contrary, to fight climate - climate change science and to downgrade a regulation of environmental poisons.

And so these are really serious crimes and whether they produce jail sentences or not, for the people who did them, they`ll be implicated and so will their children and their grandchildren, there`s going to be a stain.

O`DONNELL: The thing about Nixon is that if he did, if he wanted to switch sides in the argument about the Soviet Union, what he knew was, no one will follow me. If I try to start talking pro-Soviet Union tomorrow, there won`t be a single Republican who says, oh, that`s a good thing.

RICH: No, there - no, here it is a cult because they`re absolutely people who in some cases, did have reputations that they`ve now destroyed, good reputations, have made fools of themselves for their dear leader.

And the thing about cults is they always do come to an end and the cult leader, whether it be the Reverend Moon, you know who was a Nixon supporter or you know, Jim Jones or whomever, Charlie Manson.

They`re never going to be reformed and never does and that`s certainly true of Trump. They`re never going to see the problems with their ways but the people who swirled around him and were taken in, they`re going to pay a price, a human pricing and a reputational price forever.

O`DONNELL: Frank Rich, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

RICH: Thanks you.

O`DONNELL: And Succession theme music next time. Thank you very much and when we come back, the billionaire who has surged into second place in the latest South Carolina Democratic Presidential poll and third place in the latest Nevada democratic Presidential poll will join us next.


O`DONNELL: The stage for next week`s Democratic Presidential debate was set and I mean, all set with only five candidates making that cut until tonight. As of today, it looked like the only candidates on that stage would be Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar.

But then two new state-wide polls cannot today showing a surge by billionaire businessman, Tom Steyer in Nevada where he is now in third place, tied with Elizabeth Warren and in South Carolina, where he is in second place.

Those two state-wide polls were enough to put - to put Tom Steyer on the debate stage next week and he joins us now from New Hampshire for his first interview as a Presidential candidate here on The Last Word.

Thank you very much for joining us tonight, Mr. Steyer. You didn`t need to do that in the polls to qualify to appear here. I just want to make that clear but thank you very much for joining us.

I want to go to impeachment because you began a national TV advertising campaign, advocating the impeachment of Donald Trump in October of 2017, two years before the House of Representatives moved on impeachment. What did you see then before the end of the first year of the Trump presidency as the grounds for impeachment?

TOM STEYER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Lawrence, I saw clearly in October of 2017 that this was the most corrupt President in American history and he started his corruption virtually from the first day and he started his obstruction of justice at virtually the first day and he did them publicly.

And so what I actually did in `Need to Impeach,` is not just run TV ads. What I did was I gathered signatures of American citizens. 8.5 million American citizens signed that `Need to Impeach` petition and they actually not only signed it but they called their Congress people and they emailed their Congress people and they wrote to their Congress people, asking that Congress look at this as a matter of right and wrong, not a matter of partisanship or political expediency.

So I give that 8.5 million people enormous credit in standing up for what`s right in America when in fact nobody else in Washington DC was willing to look at this as a matter of right and wrong.

O`DONNELL: If you become President, a year from now, it`ll be a year after President Trump`s military confrontation with Iran and who knows what happens with Iran between now and then.

What would your policy toward Iran be and would you re-establish the Iran nuclear deal that was negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama?

STEYER: I believe that that Iran nuclear deal that President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry lead with our allies, that negotiated Iran away from their nuclear ambitions was exactly the kind of positive American move that we should be doing in foreign policy around the world. It stood up for our values.

It made American citizens safer and it allied us with our traditional democracy and freedom loving allies so that rather than a simple bilateral confrontation, it was a value driven, ally-supported move that supported our values and made Americans safer around the world. It`s exactly what we should be doing now.

O`DONNELL: I want to go to one of the issues you know, you`re going to be spending time on, on the debate stage next week and that is healthcare. You`re opposed to Medicare for all but if you are President and Senator Bernie Sanders manages to push Medicare for all through Congress, would you veto that?

STEYER: No. Let me say this, Lawrence. When we talk about healthcare in America, there are two things that I believe the government needs to do. One is to recognize that affordable healthcare is a right for Americans in the 21st century, a right.

And secondly, the healthcare in America is far too expensive and that means, it isn`t affordable and available to tens of millions of Americans. It`s the government`s job to drive down the cost of healthcare because we pay twice as much on average as other advanced countries for the same or worse healthcare.

O`DONNELL: We`re going to squeeze in a--

STEYER: So when you talk about Medicare for all or a public option to the Affordable Care Act, really what we`re trying to do is succeed in accomplishing those two objectives that I happen to be for a public option but I think those two objectives are what really count.

O`DONNELL: All right, we`re going to squeeze in a break here. Please stay with us and when we come back. I`ll ask Tom Steyer a few things. If he thinks it`s fair that billionaires can buy their way into Presidential campaigns with massive ad campaign spending.

You`ll see what Rachel had to say about that, earlier tonight.



MADDOW: But this is not everyone spending money on Presidential primary ads. This is not the full picture. For the full picture, you actually have to change the scale to fit everybody else on the board, ready? Bye you guys. The reason we have to make those bars so small is because in order to get an accurate to scale picture of what Tom Steyer has spent, you have to shrink everybody else down that much.

Tom Steyer has spent an unfathomable $67 million on TV ads to boost his chances in the Democratic primary this far. Tom Steyer would have the record but for former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The other democratic billionaire running for President who has to this point spent $142 million on TV and radio ads.


O`DONNELL: And we`re back with businessman and 2020 democratic Presidential candidate, Tom Steyer. Mr. Steyer, I know you couldn`t see that graphic where you are but Rachel showed in relative terms, graphic terms, it showed you spending 67 million and the next one down from you, Bernie Sanders, Pete Buttigieg spending 10 million and then all the way down to 1 million and then with Mike Bloomberg dwarfing you.

Do you understand why so many Americans look at a graph like that and think what they`re seeing is unfairness? If they think what they`re seeing is the ability of billionaires to buy their way into Presidential politics?

STEYER: Let me say this, Lawrence. For the last 10 years as an outsider, I`ve been putting together coalitions of Americans to take on what I think of as unchecked corporate power and in doing that, I`ve been taking on what I think are the biggest problems in America that we have a broken government that`s been bought by corporations.

So in every one of those fights, I`ve put in all of my time, my heart and soul and my money to try and solve what I think are the biggest problems in America including our climate crisis and democracy. To return democracy to the people, of, by and for the people. That`s what I did in starting the `Need to Impeach` movement and that`s what I`m doing running for President.

I have a message that is different from everyone else running for President which is that we have a broken government bought by corporations and that as an outsider, I have taken on these people and will take them on.

So if you`re - I have said I`m the only person in this race who will make climate my number one priority and I`ll do it from the standpoint of environmental justice and that I can beat Trump on the economy because I did build the business over 30 years and I do understand the economy and I can go toe to toe with him.

So if your point is that I`m taking on the biggest problem I see in America and putting everything I have into it, to try and solve that problem including my money then I`ve done that for 10 years and if that`s the worst thing you can say about it, about me, then I`ll take it.

O`DONNELL: What changes in campaign finance law would you support, if any?

STEYER: I would support public financing of campaigns that includes the idea of giving vouchers to American citizens that they can use for contributions. I know that the House bill includes six times multiples of contributions up to $200 that Americans give.

So that`s a different mechanism of public financing. The one that I`m talking about, I believe actually brings a lot more people into the game so I`m absolutely in favor of public financing of elections.

O`DONNELL: Would you--

STEYER: I`m in favor though more than that Lawrence, I`m in favor of restructuring Washington DC. As an outsider, I`m for term limits for Congress of 12 years for Congress people and Senators. I`m for giving direct democracy to the American people, to let us pass laws if the Congress won`t.

I`m saying we have a broken government, that`s what`s going on in Washington DC. It`s been bought by corporations and my question to the American people is who do you think is going to change that? Is it going to be someone like me who`s an outsider who`s been fighting those corporations and beating them for a decade or is it going to be someone from inside the beltway?

O`DONNELL: Would you support limits on how much an individual can contribute to his own campaign?

STEYER: I would support public financing of elections so everybody can compete fairly and so that - so that someone financing his own campaign is absolutely--

O`DONNELL: Could there ever be a public financing option that would allow people to compete against a billionaire?

STEYER: Absolutely. Lawrence, this is a question about message. The idea that someone can buy votes is not true. The question is does a candidate, any candidate including me have a message that`s differential.