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Trump's "Henchman" TRANSCRIPT: 2/12/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell

Guests: Richard Blumenthal, Gene Sperling

LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC HOST:  Oh, no, good evening, Rachel.

I was very glad to see Amy Klobuchar in your hour. I want history to record that Amy Klobuchar was the last presidential candidate to appear on this program at approximately 10:30 p.m. the night before New Hampshire voted.

So I think what we saw was THE LAST WORD bump.


O'DONNELL:  Right? I mean, what else is that? What else explains that?

MADDOW:  I was going to say, you should market it but it does kind of sound like a weird pregnancy line. The last word bump coffee cup, last word bump onesy, like it's a little weird.

O'DONNELL:  She did a solid eight minutes and that might be it.

Rachel, you discussed with Amy Klobuchar this issue that we -- I've heard about on a lot of television talk about politics. The electability of a woman. Does a woman have a particular challenge? And I thought you dealt with that pretty wisely, obviously. That discussion is during repeatedly.


O'DONNELL:  And I for one, and I don't watch every minute of cable news, but I've not heard one discussion of the electability of a gay man. I have not heard one discussion of the electability of a Jewish man. But why is it that women, and apparently at this time, women alone are left to have to fight for the notion that they can actually win?

MADDOW:  Yes. I mean, I think what's going on, you do hear some discussion about age, for example, and whether or not age is a limiting factor for some of the older candidates in the field. You heard that particularly when there are questions about whether or not Vice President Biden would get in. And whether or not his age might be a limiting factor and the rebuttal to that is that there were already candidates like Bernie Sanders who are older than him. You do hear about some other demographic factors.

But, ultimately, it's sort of inescapable because and Chris Hayes was great on this tonight, the discussion among Democratic voters is inescapably about who can beat Trump. And so, every worry that everybody has, every niggling worry that everybody has about what might be something that might interrupt a person's otherwise promising trajectory to beat Trump ends up open for discussion.

And I think if -- you know, I think if Pete Buttigieg continues to over- perform expectations, having done so well in Iowa and New Hampshire, some of those discussions about him being the first openly gay presidential candidate will surface, and every electability conversation is going to have to happen a thousand times because it's all that Democratic voters are thinking about.

O'DONNELL:  I hope that those other things I mentioned, I hope the good news is that we are as a country past the point where people will even care about whether a candidate is Jewish and we're past the point where a majority of people care whether a candidate is gay. I hope that's the case. I find this discussion about the women's electability to just be maddening. I just --

MADDOW:  And the maddening thing is for all these factors, you never talk to anybody who says, yeah. My issue is that she's a woman. My issue is that he's old. Or my issue is that he's -- it's always worry by proxy. Asking for a friend.

O'DONNELL:  Yes, that's right. They're always worried about something else.

MADDOW:  They're concerned but I'm not. That's how you know how disingenuous some of these discussions are. But I think these conversations are just inescapable.

O'DONNELL:  Thanks, Rachel.

MADDOW:  Thanks, Lawrence.

O'DONNELL:  Well, we've never seen anything like it. And for once, I'm not saying that about the Trump administration. We have never seen anything like this, Democratic presidential primary campaign.

Iowa and New Hampshire have now created more confusion about the state of race with the front-runner before Iowa, Joe Biden, now running at the back of the pack, and Amy Klobuchar coming from out of nowhere to overtake Elizabeth Warren in New Hampshire. But Elizabeth Warren is still third in total delegates.

And no one can tell what's you going to happen next. But there has been some important stability in all of this. Some important campaign factors that have remained stable throughout all of the shifting standings of the Democratic candidates, and what has remained stable in this campaign is very, very good news for the Democrats. And it is very bad news, terrible news for Donald Trump.

I'll discuss all of that in tonight's last word at the end of this hour. But we must begin tonight with the crisis in Washington this week that has been overshadowed by campaign reporting yesterday.

We will be joined by Senator Richard Blumenthal who is now calling for the resignation of the attorney general of the United States in the midst of this crisis. And an inspector general's investigation of presidential interference at the Justice Department. The Trump-Barr Justice Department now has its first principled resignation.

Federal prosecutor Jonathan Kravis is no longer a federal prosecutor because he quit yesterday after serving under three presidents, Bush, Obama and Trump. Donald Trump made working in the Justice Department unbearable because Attorney General William Barr has allowed Donald Trump to make working in the Justice Department unbearable.

Donald Trump didn't knock down the wall of ethics that is supposed to exist between the White House and the Justice Department. William Barr did that. Donald Trump obviously wanted to knock down that wall from day one, but he needed an attorney general who was as eager to knock down the wall as Donald Trump is. Donald Trump said early in his presidency that he needed his Roy Cohn.

Roy Cohn was the disgraced criminal lawyer who ended up disbarred and convicted of crimes himself. He was Donald Trump's lawyer early in Donald Trump's career and Donald Trump wanted that kind of lawyer at the Justice department. He wanted the kind of attorney general who would do anything for Donald Trump, anything. And that apparently is what Donald Trump seeps to have now.

After tweeting his objections to federal prosecutors, just the recommendation in the Roger Stone case, William Barr's Justice Department then changed the recommendation and lowered the sentencing recommendation for Donald Trump's friend, Roger Stone. That was enough for Jonathan Kravis who was one of the prosecutors who secured the guilty verdicts against Roger Stone. Jonathan Kravis notified the court that he would no longer be involved in the case and he then quit, quit, his job at the Justice Department.

Three other prosecutors working on the Roger Stone case, Aaron Zelinsky, Adam Jed and Michael Marando also notified that they would no longer be working on the case and in effected following Donald Trump's orders on the Roger Stone case. So, William Barr signs new prosecutors to the case now, for the sentencing phase.

A phase that is now clearly meaningless, isn't it? Because Donald Trump in his way today let us know, let Roger Stone know, that Roger Stone has nothing to worry about.


REPORTER:  Are you considering a pardon for Roger Stone?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  I don't want to say that yet. But I'll tell you what, people were hurt viciously and badly by these corrupt people.


O'DONNELL:  Are you considering a pardon? I don't want to say that yet.

That means that he's considering a pardon for Roger Stone. That means he's saying that corrupt people prosecuted Roger Stone. So the president is already saying that a pardon for Roger Stone is completely justifiable.

Roger Stone will be sentenced next week on Thursday, by a federal judge, Amy Berman Jackson, who was appointed by Barack Obama. Judge Jackson can completely ignore the Justice Department's lowered recommendation of a sentence. But what we will be surely reporting next Thursday night is that Donald Trump thinks the sentence Judge Jackson has given Roger Stone is vicious and unfair, and that she did it because she was appointed by a president not named Donald Trump.

And if Donald Trump does that, what you can be sure of is that the attorney general of the United States will not say one word of objection to Donald's attack on a federal judge, as Donald Trump has done before. Attorney General William Barr is now scheduled to testify to the House Judiciary Committee on March 31st.

And, by that time, the attorney general might be answering questions about the Trump pardon of Roger Stone.

Leading off our discussion, Democratic Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney of New York. He's a member of the House intelligence Committee. Sherrilyn Ifill is with us, she's the president and director counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. And Glenn Kirschner, former federal prosecutor and MSNBC legal analyst.

Congressman Maloney, I want to get your reaction to the state of this crisis. This is a real crisis. It is a moving crisis by the hour in Washington. What do you see happening next?

REP. SEAN PATRICK MALONEY (D-NY):  Well, two things. First, once again, we've seen ordinary public servant step forward and sacrifice for the greater good. They -- these four prosecutors now join the ranks of Ambassador Yovanovitch and Bill Taylor, and Alexander Vindman, and the pantheon of people who've done the right thing.

The second point is that we are watching the corruption of major institutions, and if we have lost the State Department because Mike Pompeo will do whatever he wants and won't defend his ambassadors. If we've lost Main Justice and Bill Barr will do whatever the president wants him to do for a friend, throw a prosecution for a political favor, then I'm very worried about what any more time of Donald Trump is going to mean for institutions like the Pentagon, because if you start corrupting these agencies with people who will bend to the president's whim, then there is no defense against the president wanting a third term, or if he's -- or claiming a second one when he didn't win it.

This is a crisis and thank God for these prosecutors, and it's up to the rest of to us make sure they don't get away with it.

O'DONNELL:  Congressman, Donald Trump then tweeted his congratulations to William Barr for taking over the sentencing phase of the Roger Stone case, as Donald Trump basically begged him to do publicly by tweet. And today, President Trump said, hey, I never called the Justice Department and asked for it.

It seems to be that Donald Trump believes when he crosses these lines, he should do it in public, in that same way that he walked out in the driveway and asked China to also investigate the Bidens and he did it on television. You didn't impeach him for what he did in the driveway for what did he on television. You impeached him for what he did, what he thought he was doing on private in the phone with President Zelensky.

And so, it seems in this behavior, Donald Trump thinks, if I make it all public, they cannot come after me.

MALONEY:  I think it's actually worse, Lawrence. Yes, that's part of it, but I actually think this is what authoritarians do. They want to look you in the eye and say they're flouting the law. They want to tell you a lie and tell you and have you stay silent and make you pretend that it is the truthful. That's real power.

When everybody knows you're breaking the law, when everybody knows you're telling a lie and everybody stays quiet, and that's terrifying to me. And you know who is responsible for this? Susan Collins and Cory Gardner, and Thom Tillis and Martha McSally and every one of those Republican senators who took a dive for this president.

And when they come out off the record and say they're troubled by this, or they're concerned, I hope people understand that they are covering their butts, when they gave up the chance, when they had it to hold him accountable. And it's going to be up to the rest of us to hold those senators and this president accountable, because good public servants are paying the price with their careers for the misconduct of those senators who failed to act.

O'DONNELL:  Glenn Kirschner, you were in the courtroom for the Roger Stone trial. You watched the prosecutors at work in that case. You know Jonathan Kravis. You worked with him when you were a federal prosecutor.

Tell us about Jonathan Kravis. Tell us about his decision he made to not just withdraw from the case and not do the president's bidding in a sentencing hearing, but to actually say, that's it. I am done with the Donald Trump-William Barr Justice Department.

GLENN KIRSCHNER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST:  You know, Lawrence, knowing John Kravis, it doesn't surprise me one bit that he made the difficult decision and it seems like he made it immediately, that when he saw an injustice going on in a case that he worked, that he tried, that he brought home, when he saw the outrageous violation, violence to the rule of law and to equal justice perpetrated by Bill Barr, he took a stand. And that stand was, I remove myself from this case that has consumed the last year of my life, and I resign from the Department of Justice.

That's a difficult thing for a family man to do. But, you know, John is the kind of guy when I worked with him in the homicide section, he was a strong but silent, circumspect, honorable, apolitical prosecutor, who just came in and did his work, protecting the people of the District of Columbia every day. He then left the office to go to the public integrity section of the Department of Justice, Main Justice, as we called it, distinguished himself over there. Then he returned and brought the skill set back to the U.S. attorney's office, back to the people of the District of Columbia and work in our public integrity office in the D.C. U.S. attorney's office and was a shining star.

I would say he was probably one of the best public integrity prosecutors this country has. And for him to have his legs cut out from under him, together with his three fellow prosecutors by Bill Barr who really doesn't give a wit about equal justice under the law is about as upsetting as it gets for former prosecutors.

O'DONNELL:  Glenn, are there any limitations on Jonathan Kravis now speaking publicly now about this? Is there anything that follows him out of justice department that can control what he's allowed to say?

KIRSCHNER:  No, because, you know, we don't really work in the national security arena typically as federal prosecutors in the D.C. U.S. attorney's office. So the only constraints he might have is he can't share information about grand jury protected material.

So I think we'll leave it up to him to say if he wants to now go public with what he has just experienced, of course, what will the president do? Perhaps label him a traitor and say you know what we used to do with traitors. But I think John will have to take some time to work through with his family whether he now wants to come out and talk publicly about what he has just experienced.

O'DONNELL:  So, Sherrilyn, this is just a sentencing recommendation by federal prosecutors. It is something the judges weigh to whatever degree they want to. I've seen judges read them and you can tell they're just ignoring them.

And so, William Barr and Donald Trump have risked all of this over just a sentencing recommendation which now falls to Judge Jackson to decide what to do.

SHERILLYN IFILL, NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE AND EDUCATIONAL FUN PRESIDENT AND DIRECTOR COUNSEL:  You mentioned the president's comment about, I haven't decided yet whether I will pardon him. If you put all these pieces together, you're on the money about President Trump saying these publicly. We skipped over one thing.

Last week, the president said, when that he had big room full of people applauding him and he did his bit for an hour. He kept saying with Barr -- with Attorney General Barr in front, we're going to fix this. We'll make sure this never happened again, right?

And what did William Barr do, the attorney general on Friday? He issued a letter and in that letter, he stated that only he could sign off personally on investigations into the president, into the vice president, into senators, into House members, in the election, and into any foreign donation to elections. And he issued that memo to the Department of Justice.

So, that means if you or I thought something improper happened and we wanted to go to FBI, the letter says they couldn't even do a preliminary investigation without him personally signing off on it. So he closed off that door. And then we come to this week, and Mitch McConnell and the Republicans still will not allow these election protection bills to a vote.

We put this all together. We have a process in which the president is impeached, he is acquitted. We all know his intention to continue to engage in that behavior, because as you said, he came right out and. China, why don't you have at it. And then you have the attorney general saying, if anyone wants to report misconduct and start an investigation, I have to personally sign off on it.

So, he basically muzzles, he gets full control of the FBI. And then you have the senators who will not do their job and pass these election security bills that have been sitting on Mitch McConnell's desk since last fall.

From my perspective, what I'm most worried about is the protection of our election in 2020 which I think is in serious peril. Every United States senator who voted against conviction of the president, but who said we think it's improper, we think what did he was inappropriate, these should be the people who are protecting us from foreign interference but they won't do it. Think about someone like Marco Rubio.

Let me read this quote to you, he said this last year in a bill that he co- sponsored, the Protect Our Elections Act. He said it is a common sense measure that seeks to protect our elections from foreign interference. Hostile foreign actors have attempted to disrupt our election and attack our democracy and our intelligence community continues to warn of this threat. This bipartisan bill would make an important step in ensuring hostile foreign entities are not able to take ownership and stake in copies crucial to our election process.

That's Marco Rubio, March 14, 2019. He has not said a word since the impeachment about the protection of our election from foreign interference. And that's what we've been telling people. You have to put the pressure on. You have to pressure Mitch McConnell.

We need to protect these 2020 elections and Bill Barr is not going to do it and President Trump is not going to do it.

O'DONNELL:  Congressman Maloney, what do you expect is possible within the Justice Department? Can Congress get an inspector general's investigation of this in the Justice Department?

MALONEY:  Well, we can certainly demand it. I'm hopeful there is an inspector general's office that's still up and running. Remember, what we're seeing these growing pockets of political cronyism for the president.

But there is still a beating heart of professional people at the Justice Department. The Southern District of New York continues to do great work, thank God. And there are people like Michael Atkinson who's fighting for his job in the intelligence community, who brought the whole Ukraine scandal to life when they tried to deep six it. Again, Bill Barr's handiwork.

So I think there are good people in there fighting and it is our job on the Hill to back them up.

And if I could just say one more thing, the fact is that this president has not learned his lesson. So it is going to be the voters, ultimately, that remind Susan Collins and those senators, that reminds these House members who are had in the tank for the president, who the boss is and what we really care about. Man, this is a bull horn warning all of us, if we thought we had to get involved, we need double whatever we're going to do. Get up and fight this year because it is all on the line.

O'DONNELL:  Glenn Kirschner, quick procedural question before we go. At the sentencing, is it likely that the judge would actually send Roger Stone directly to prison or would there be a 30-day stay? A scheduled delivery to prison?

KIRSCHNER:  Well, if we have any equal justice remaining under the law, he ought to go right to prison. I suspect Judge Amy Jackson will do just that.

I was a little surprised after the prosecutors asked that he'd be stepped back, that he'd be confined pending sentencing, she gave him a break and she let him stay out pending sentencing. I suspect she will impose a period of incarceration and he will go directly to jail.

O'DONNELL:  So, the Trump pardon may be issued next Thursday as soon as the judge acts.

Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, Sherrilyn Ifill, Glenn Kirschner, thank you all for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it.

MALONEY:  Pleasure.

O'DONNELL:  And when we come back, Senator Blumenthal will join us. He is calling for the resignation of Attorney General Barr and an inspector general's investigation into president interference in the Roger Stone case. We'll ask Senator Blumenthal if he can get that inspector general's investigation at least.


O'DONNELL:  Here's Senator Richard Blumenthal today.


SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT):  Attorney General Barr has no choice but to follow these dedicated prosecutors out the door, but he's acting simply as a henchman, a political operative of the president who's always wanted the attorney general of the United States to be his Roy Cohn, his personal attorney.


O'DONNELL:  As a member of the Judiciary Committee, Senator Blumenthal today sent a letter to Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, with jurisdiction over the Justice Department, requesting the chairman open an investigation into quote, the repulsive disregard for the rule of law. Senator Graham today defended the Department of Justice's lighter sentencing for Roger Stone and said this about President Trump.


REPORTER:  Should the president be tweeting about an ongoing case?

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC):  Yes, I don't think -- I don't think any of us should tweet about an ongoing case. But having said that, I appreciate the Department of Justice making sure that their recommendations to the court are seek justice, consistent with the law as it is written.

Should the president stay out of cases? Yes, absolutely. He should not be commenting on cases in the system. I've said that a bunch. If I thought he had done something that had changed the outcome inappropriately, I'd be the first to say.


O'DONNELL:  Joining us now, Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democratic from Connecticut. He's a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Before being elected to the United States Senate, he served as the attorney general of the state of Connecticut. He also served as Connecticut's U.S. attorney.

Senator, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I mentioned your prosecutorial experience and your introduction tonight. I don't usually do, because it is so relevant to what you're watching here.

What would you have done serving as a federal prosecutor if at the sentencing stage, days before the sentencing session, the word came through that the recommendation you've already issued must be taken down?

BLUMENTHAL:  I hope what I would have done, Lawrence, is what those four prosecutors do, namely resign in protest. I would have been so angry. I am angry because what we have here is a perfect storm for American justice, a president who is corrupting the Department of Justice with utter contempt for the rule of law and an attorney general who is his political henchman, and a Republican majority in the United States Senate who is completely spineless morally.

And so, I think we need not only the resignation for this attorney general, but also an independent investigation by the inspector general, and, frankly, I hope the judge in this case asks for a full explanation before the sentencing to give those brave prosecutors a forum to express why they resigned as I hope I would have done.

O'DONNELL:  Can the Justice Department inspector general initiate this investigation on his own? Does he have the authority to do that?

BLUMENTHAL:  He certainly has the authority to do with it a complaint from Congress. And he has done with it an independence and assertiveness that I think is really important. I think we need to consider other options like the power of the purse which both the House and the Senate have.

But there is no sugar coating this crisis. We are in the minority. And what we need is a majority of senators who have a respect for the rule of law. We need a house cleaning in the United States Senate, and the ultimate court of appeals here is the court of public opinion, the ballot box.

O'DONNELL:  We have some breaking news from "The Washington Post" tonight about the president's condition, you might call it. It says Trump simmering with rage, fixated on exacting revenge against those he feels betrayed him and insulated by a compliant Republican Party, is increasingly comfortable doing so to the point of feeling untouchable, according to the President's advisors and allies of the - indicating that the President is indulging his anger, and this includes the Mueller investigation, which this case was a part of - the Roger Stone case.

BLUMENTHAL: Lawrence, it is almost impossible to exaggerate the crisis that we face here. Simmering rage from a President who is unleashed and untethered to the law. On the "Morning Joe" program this morning, Joe Scarborough asked if the President can investigate any journalist, could he arrest us tomorrow?

And the truth is, every American is potentially in danger of this kind of retribution and revenge if the President uses the justice system as a tool of political or personal vengeance. And that crisis is deeply dangerous. It's ugly. It violates the ethos of the Department of Justice for the Attorney General to be the President's political henchmen.

O'DONNELL: Senator Richard Blumenthal. Thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it.

BLUMENTHAL: Thank you.

O'DONNELL: And coming up next, what changed for the candidates - presidential candidates last night in New Hampshire and what happens if three or more candidates continue to split the delegate count, and the Democratic Convention has to decide who their nominee is?


O'DONNELL: With exquisitely bad timing, a Monmouth University national poll of the Democratic presidential candidates came up yesterday, while New Hampshire was voting and making that poll utterly useless, because of how New Hampshire voters may have changed the country's perspective on the candidates last night.

The only number in yesterday's Monmouth national poll that New Hampshire voters agreed with is 26 percent. 26 percent for Bernie Sanders at the top of that national poll. That is exactly what Bernie Sanders got in New Hampshire last night - 25.8 percent, and that was enough to win in New Hampshire.

But New Hampshire voters sharply disagreed with the national poll, and with every other number in that national poll. New Hampshire voters gave Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden much less support than they had in yesterday's national poll, and they gave Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar are much more support.

So the final order at the finish line last night in New Hampshire was Bernie Sanders at 25.8; Pete Buttigieg at 24.5; Amy Klobuchar at 19.9; Elizabeth Warren at 9.2 and Joe Biden at 8.4. For much of the news media, Elizabeth Warren has become the forgotten woman in the campaign. And so it might come as a surprise to some that Elizabeth Warren is still in third in the delegate count, thanks to her strong third place finish in Iowa.

The delegate count is now Pete Buttigieg 23; Bernie Sanders 21; Elizabeth Warren eight; Amy Klobuchar seven; Joe Biden six. The next big event in the campaign is the debate in Nevada, one week from tonight. In the meantime, we patiently await national polls taken after the New Hampshire primary that might tell us just how much the New Hampshire vote has affected the national numbers.

Joining us now is Gene Sperling, the Former Director of the National Economic Council for Presidents Obama and Clinton; and Jason Johnson, Politics Editor at and a professor of politics and media at Morgan State University. He's also an MSNBC Political Analyst.

And Professor Johnson now that you've had 24 hours of contemplation of these New Hampshire results, I need guidance, because I am lost. I am just guessing about what happens next. What is your guess?

JASON JOHNSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: So, Lawrence, for once, we have a 1 and 1A, right? You have, you have your 1, which is Bernie Sanders. By every single measure, right, Bernie Sanders is now the frontrunner. He had a clear victory in New Hampshire and he's winning the national polls.

But Mayor Pete 1A, because, well, he's actually leading the delegate count, which is what actually will make you the nominee. Now there haven't been that many delegates who've come out. We still have to see what happens in Nevada. We still have to see what happens in South Carolina.

And like they say in college football, if you have two quarterbacks, you really have no quarterback. So since we have two frontrunners, we really don't have any frontrunners. I think anyone who claims that we know how this race is going to play out, doesn't really know yet.

I think that what's happening in Nevada right now, especially with the Culinary Union coming out and basically saying no to Bernie Sanders and no to Elizabeth Warren. There's an opening there for possibly Joe Biden to go in. We haven't seen any polls in New Hampshire since the late part of last year. So I think there's race is still open. And again, you've still got Mike Bloomberg out there, looming in the Super Tuesday states.

O'DONNELL: Gene Sperling, you've been on many presidential campaigns, you've come out of New Hampshire with winners. You've come out of New Hampshire with people who did not win. Talk about those candidates who were - had disappointing showings in New Hampshire, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden. What do they have to do when they leave New Hampshire with that kind of disappointment?

GENE SPERLING, FORMER ECONOMIC ADVISOR, PRESIDENTS CLINTON & OBAMA: Yes, I mean, I think you're right. I think there's four big questions coming out of this. One, can Bernie Sanders continue to get majorities if the lane narrows on the more moderate progressive competitors.

Two, do Buttigieg and Klobuchar's good performance - does it actually translate to minority voters in these Super Tuesday states where they're not as organized? But I think that, third, big question is, are Warren and Biden out of this or can either of them be the comeback kid.

Biden is still claiming, trying to comfort his supporters, "Hey, I can still do OK in South Carolina. There's an opening in Nevada. What Warren is saying is, if you're worried about civil war among the Democrats, hey, look to me. I'm the one who can unite the base. I'm the one who can be the bridge? And don't we - don't you still have the passion for a woman President that was denied perhaps unfairly by Donald Trump?

So I really think the Biden and Warren issue is really quite big. And each of them, I think, can make a case. Don't count me out yet. But there's a lot of pressure on both of them to show that in the next two contests

O'DONNELL: All right. To continue this discussion, I'm going to have to squeeze in a commercial break here. When we come back. I want to talk about what's going on with the delegate count. And if these candidates continue to split delegates among three or more candidates, does that mean no one can actually win this nomination through the primaries and it will be decided in the convention. We'll deal with that when we come back.


O'DONNELL: If the delegates continue to be split among three or more strong finishers in the primaries, then no one will win enough delegates to secure the nomination before the convention and we will suddenly fall back 52 years to the last time the Democratic Convention decided the Democratic nominee.

Senators Eugene McCarthy and Bobby Kennedy competed in the primaries in 1968. They each won some, they each lost some. And I'm going to need a sip of water. There we go. Bobby Kennedy was assassinated on the night that he won the California primary. And Gene McCarthy went to the convention in Chicago, only to watch Vice President Hubert Humphrey secure the nomination on the first ballot, without running in a single primary.

Want to go back to Jason Johnson and Gene Sperling, here. Gene, the party is very different now. They don't have that kind of control over a Convention, super delegates are just 16 percent of the convention. They range from Joe Manchin to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. There's a lot of disagreement within that world of super delegates.

But last night in New Hampshire, the delegate count - nine for Bernie; nine for Buttigieg; nine - six for Klobuchar. That kind of tight finish on delegates, if that continues, you don't get a nominee out of this.

SPERLING: Yes. And I think that, you know, people are probably going to start asking, did we design this Democratic primary process, right? Because, think of it this way, and here's just my simple math Lawrence. If you have 33 percent of the delegates after Super Tuesday, you still need to win 60 percent of the rest to get a majority.

Now, if there's a two-person race, that doesn't seem hard. But the reason I said rule of three, you start getting three or four, that becomes very, very difficult. called. And that means that we're babbling all the way to July with each other, instead of having a nominee who is trained solely on Donald Trump.

So, I think that people are just starting to really get their arms and mind around the math here and the possibility. And I think the other thing you'll have to see is, you know, to somebody go in they don't have a majority, but they have just a commanding plurality. They have 45 percent, or is it a jumble? We're like three people all around 30 percent, those two different scenarios, I think, would play out very differently.

O'DONNELL: Jason, when you go back to 2008, it was not quite as big a field, similar sized field, but Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama way outperformed the rest. There wasn't really the Amy Klobuchar.

I mean, John Edwards played that role a little bit. But Hillary Clinton won 39 percent in New Hampshire to Barack Obama's 36 percent or so in New Hampshire. They were performing much higher than these candidates are.

SPERLING: Yes. And Lawrence, I want to make this clear. I believe this. And I think 2008 was a perfect example. Long primary fights are good. Everybody say it, long primary fights are good, because the longer these candidates are competing, they're going into states and setting up campaign infrastructure that otherwise wouldn't exist. There's a reason that Obama did reasonably well in places like Kansas, he wasn't going to win, but he actually had the campaign there for the primaries. So that's important thing to remember.

Look, we end up getting to a contested Convention, and you know, look, political scientists like me, we dream of this sort of nerd fest of there's going to be this arguing and horsetrading one way or another. Who ends up being the person that can bring everybody together?

Elizabeth Warren has been saying, I'm that person. I don't have stop and frisk. I don't have bad police. I didn't vote for the crime bill. She has an argument that can be made to minority voters and to other people in general that she's the best of both worlds or, or multiple worlds.

What's Mike Bloomberg going to say if he's successful one way or another? I don't think we're going to know. But I will say, this Sanders campaign can't complain if he goes in with, say, the majority of the delegates, but not enough to actually claim a victory. He can't claim this time that it's rigged.

His members - members of his sort of support team, were involved in changing the Democratic rules this time. You can't change the rules, and then complain about how you changed the rules, and you still couldn't win. So I think we're going to be in a situation which is going to be a long, extended fight. We still may not have anybody by the time we get to Convention. But everybody has a legitimate fight at this particular point. They can't claim that the system is working against them.

O'DONNELL: Jason Johnson and Gene Sperling, thank you both very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

SPERLING: Thank you.

JOHNSON: Thanks Lawrence.

O'DONNELL: And when we come back, I'll have a last word about some very important points of stability in this somewhat confusing presidential campaign and these points of stability are very, very good news for Democrats in November.


O'DONNELL: We have arrived at the William Goldman moment.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You tell me what you know, and I'll confirm. I'll keep you in the right direction if I can, but that's all. Just follow the money.


O'DONNELL: William Goldman won an Oscar for that line, "Follow the money" and all the rest of the lines in the screenplay, "All the President's Men." He also won an Oscar for the screenplay of "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid".

Many of you have William Goldman lines memorized from "Princess Bride" and other films. But "follow the money" is probably the most famous William Goldman line, you've heard it repeated countless times during the investigations of Donald Trump.

But within show business, William Goldman has an equally famous line that appeared in one of his books, and it defines the moment. We are now in - in the presidential campaign and that line is, "Nobody knows anything."

In a wonderful must read book about show business entitled, "Adventures in the Screen Trade" William Goldman wrote, "Nobody knows anything. Not one person in the entire motion picture field knows for certainty what's going to work. Every time out it's a guess. And if you're lucky, an educated one."

So tonight's William Goldman lesson is, nobody knows anything. Not one person in the entire political field knows for a certainty what's going to happen. And every time we predict something, it's a guess, and if you're lucky, an educated one.

No amount of political education has prepared us for the moment we are in now. Too much of this is new. A frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination who is not a Democrat. Bernie Sanders is an independent, and while we're at it, he would be the first Jewish President in history.

Another frontrunner for the nomination, who actually has the most delegates right now is a gay candidate who would be the youngest President in history. Pete Buttigieg is only three years older than the constitutional eligibility age of 35.

Two women's senators are running for president and they are third and fourth in the delegate count. And our former Vice President, who was once the frontrunner in this campaign is now at the bottom of the delegate count.

And on top of all of that, the richest man in the history of American politics has changed parties to run as a Democrat and is moving up in the polls, thanks to massive advertising spending. But Mike Bloomberg, his name has not appeared on a ballot yet.

Politics is like meteorology. We only know what we're looking at if we've seen it before. We have no idea how to track this hurricane. But one thing has remained stable. The numbers for the Trump reelection campaign are just terrible.

In the final NBC News Wall Street Journal poll before the congressional elections of 2018, 54 percent of voters said the country was on the wrong track. 38 percent of voters - only 38 said the country was on the right track.

Now, even worse. Now fewer voters say the country is on the right track. Only 34 percent say the country is on the right track. 53 percent of voters say the country is on the wrong track and that wrong track is the Trump track.

In the final poll, before the Democratic landslide victory in the 2018 congressional elections, voters said that they preferred a democratic controlled Congress over Republican Controlled Congress by 50 to 43. That is exactly what they voted for and what they got, a Democratic Controlled Congress.

And that identical number 50 to 43 is in the latest one-on-one poll of Democratic candidates against Donald Trump. Joe Biden gets 50 percent to Donald Trump's 43. Bernie Sanders does even better, that 51 percent to Donald Trump's 43. And Mike Bloomberg does a bit better than that at 51 percent to 42 percent for Donald Trump.

Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg all also pull ahead of Donald Trump in one-on-one polling. And so no one knows who the Democratic nominee is going to be. But we do know it's going to be someone who is currently pulling ahead of Donald Trump in one-on-one polls.

And we also know that a decisive majority of American voters believe that the Trump track is the wrong track for this country. Those voters took the House of Representatives away from Republicans in the last election.

And as of now, as of tonight, that majority of voters appears ready and appears even eager to take the White House and Air Force One away from Donald Trump and put this country on what they think is the right track. That is tonight's "Last Word." "The 11th Hour with Brian Williams" starts now.