IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

#MeToo movement TRANSCRIPT: 2/24/20, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell

Guests: Jennifer Palmieri, Molly Crane-Newman, Cecile Richards, Denny Heck

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST:  Rachel, that will raise the question of what happens to Roger Stone`s sentence. If Roger Stone does not succeed in this very long-shot attempt at a new trial, then what?

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS":  When does his sentence start? When does he have to report? Exactly. That`s a big part of the drama a around Roger Stone and how the president is personally weighing into it. Yes, it`s a big mess.

O`DONNELL:  We will see. Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW:  Thanks.

O`DONNELL:  Well, Cecile Richards is going to join us tonight to consider the societal impact of the guilty verdicts against Harvey Weinstein today in a New York City courtroom that sent Harvey Weinstein out of the building in handcuffs while he remains in custody now awaiting sentencing. We will be joined by a reporter who was in the courtroom every day of the trial.

And at the end of the hour, former prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks will join us to discuss her new book and we`ll get her view of how rape prosecutions have changed in her four decades as a lawyer.

But, first, that the president of the United States doesn`t know what he`s doing and doesn`t know what he`s supposed to be doing in the job of president is of concern every day. But with the coronavirus and the age of global travel now threatening virtually every country of the world, the documented fact and book after book with sources from inside the Trump White House that Donald Trump has no idea what to do in the face of such a crisis is more alarming in a typical day in the Trump presidency.

So far, the only thing we know the president has done about the threat of the coronavirus is to tweet. Today, he tweeted the coronavirus is very much under control in the USA and not one person in the USA can believe that. Even Trump supporters know they cannot believe that, because Donald Trump is president.

"The Washington Post" has reported, quote: Trump grew concerned that any stronger action by his administration would hurt the economy and he has told advisors that he does not want the administration to do or say anything that would further spook the markets. He remains worried that any large-scale outbreak could hurt his reelection bid. The markets certainly didn`t believe Donald Trump`s tweet today that the coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. The stock market dropped dramatically today as the number of coronavirus cases outside of China surged and provoked fears of a prolonged global economic slowdown because of the spreading virus.

We know that this president of the United States does not know how to defend the United States against something like the coronavirus. Donald Trump attacked President Obama and the Obama`s administration`s response to the Ebola virus. The Obama approach turned out to be exactly the right approach to the threat of the Ebola virus. Donald Trump does know how to defend the United States against Russia`s attack on our election which is happening again after the successful attack on our election in 2016. But Donald Trump doesn`t want to stop Russia`s attack on our election.

Donald Trump operates in the White House in perfect sync with Vladimir Putin`s attack on our election. Donald Trump says everything Vladimir Putin wants Donald Trump to say about Russia`s attack on our election, including that it never happened in 2016 and that it`s not happening now. Donald Trump is conducting a purge of his administration of people who, among other things, take Russia`s attack on our election seriously and want to do something about it, including informing Congress about it.

These are just some of the reasons why almost every Democratic candidate for president polls strongly against Donald Trump in one on one polling. On Saturday`s Nevada caucuses, only three came away with delegates, Bernie Sanders picked up 22 delegates. Joe Biden picked up 7. Pete Buttigieg picked up 3.

After Nevada, we are now in a purely eco-driven section of the campaign in which hopeless candidates who have won no delegates remained in the race, and if they have any impact at all, it will be to create a distortion in political reality.

For example, billionaire Tom Steyer who hasn`t won a single delegate is now polling at 15 percent in the next primary in South Carolina. That means he`s in third place in South Carolina behind Joe Biden at 27 percent, Sanders 23, Tom Steyer 15, Pete Buttigieg 9, Elizabeth Warren at 8, and Klobuchar 5, Tulsi Gabbard, who also has not won a single delegate, is polling at 3 in South Carolina.

If Tom Steyer will pick up delegates in South Carolina if he wins at least 15 percent of the vote, but he might not pick up a single delegate anywhere else on the electoral map. And so, Tom Steyer`s massive ad spending in South Carolina that might win him a few delegates will in the end represent nothing but a distortion in the political reality of the South Carolina vote.

If Tom Steyer dropped out of the race, would most of his support go to Bernie Sanders or to Joe Biden or would it be split between them or would some of it go to Elizabeth Warren, would some of it go to Pete Buttiegieg? Push them up over 15 percent? We don`t know. And it`s distortions like that, temporary distortions like that in the political market place that drive Washington Democrats absolutely crazy and so they are eager to see more of those Democratic candidates follow Andrew Yang`s example and drop out of the race.

The latest national poll conducted after the Nevada caucuses shows Bernie Sanders in the lead now nationally at 32 percent, Michael Bloomberg at 19, Joe Biden at 18 percent, Elizabeth Warren at 11, Pete Buttigieg at 11, Amy Klobuchar at 4, Tom Steyer at 3, and Tulsi Gabbard at 2.

The next candidate debate will be tomorrow night in South Carolina. It will be the last debate for most of the Democratic presidential candidates because it is not just the last debate before the South Carolina primary on Saturday. Much, much more importantly, it is the last debate before Super Tuesday voting next Tuesday in the giant states of California and Texas, along with 12 other states, including Massachusetts, Colorado, Virginia.

And everything is going to be on the line for the candidates in tomorrow night`s debate in every one of those states. And as of now, the only candidate who seems certain of surviving Super Tuesday is front runner Bernie Sanders. For all of the rest, there seems to be no way to predict where they will be after Super Tuesday. So tomorrow night`s debate could be the final debate for most of the Democratic candidates.

Leading off our discussion tonight, Jennifer Palmieri, former White House communications director for President Obama and former communications director for Hillary Clinton`s presidential campaign. And Anand Giridharadas, editor at large of "Time Magazine", author of "Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World". He is an MSNBC political analyst.

And, Anand, that the stumble came even after you tutored me once again -

ANAND GIRIDHARADAS, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  We figured out the last name has the same number of syllables.

O`DONNELL:  Yes, and, Pete Buttigieg, you have the same number of syllables.

GIRIDHARADAS:  Pete Buttigieg has (ph) my name exceptionally well.

O`DONNELL:  He does, he does.

So, I want to go to the recent piece of your question. If you could get just one question in the debate, it would be this question. You say -- you wrote, if I could ask one debate question, it would be this. Raise your hand if you would want there to be more billionaires at the end of your presidency than the start. Raise your hand if you would want fewer billionaires. Then same question applied to millionaires.

GIRIDHARADAS:  You know, I think we are, as I describe in that piece in the middle of what I call the great billionaire referendum.


GIRIDHARADAS:  Right? Of course, we are having an election about candidates. But it`s hard to think about an election that has been so focused in so many different ways on this question of the billionaire in American life on extreme wealth in a democracy. And that is partly because you have two billionaires running. Then in Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, you have two candidates whose entire focus is bringing billionaires down a peg.

And you have billionaires as the most important financiers of all the candidates who are not those four I just described. All the platforms we`re discussing this election on are owned by billionaires. And so, this question -- and billionaires, by the way, just in the way they employ people, avoid taxes, lobby and rig systems have supplied the atmosphere of hostility, mistrust, anger that is very much the main character in this election.

So when it comes to this question of do you want more billionaires or less, this is actually a very novel question in American life. I mean, I think whether you`re on the left or right, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama said we want tax rates -- the first time in my lifetime, we are having a real conversation, would you want there to be fewer of these people for justice to be done in America? Essentially more of that money taken through wealth taxes, income taxes, capital gains taxes, profit trimming, minimum wage, et cetera.

And I think what would happen, what might happen if you ask that question, is think Bernie probably I want fewer billionaires. I`m curious what Bernie would say about millionaires.

O`DONNELL:  Uh-huh, since he is one.

GIRIDHARADAS:  Right. But more because, you know, people who own three convenience stores -- 


GIRIDHARADAS:  Can end up right at that -- it spans a lot of different people in American life. I think Elizabeth Warren you might get a different answer, maybe the same. But I think it would be important for a lot of people to fundamentally address this question which I try to raise in the piece, which is are billionaires merely people who happen to have drifted up from you and me up into the stratosphere or are they actually up there because they are standing on our collective backs pinning us down through what they lobby for, through the taxes they fail to pay, through the ways in which they organize monopolies to essentially turn the fruits of the future into their personal prerogative?

And I think Americans are changing their hearts on this question, which is why we`re seeing results that are causing a lot of people in the plutocracy in the media to freak out. And it`s actually worth backing up from the freak out and actually asking why is this happening. This is happening because a lot of people are feeling things in this country they haven`t felt before.

O`DONNELL:  Jennifer Palmieri, are the two billionaires in the Democratic field right now, is history going to show them to be just a distortion in what could have been the reality of this lineup? I mean, if you look at Mike Bloomberg, he`s polling nationally in a tie second place with Joe Biden. If you were to add up all the kind of Biden-like candidates in the race, they add up to over 50 percent with two billionaires possibly in that mix.

JENNIFER PALMIERI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR PRESIDENT OBAMA: Yes, the only reason why Bloomberg -- the only reason Bloomberg is polling as well as he is because of the money he has spent, right? I think his campaign would acknowledge that as well. It`s not, he has not proven himself to be -- to have a lot of support. No one has actually cast a vote for him.

But he`s managed to get on everybody`s radar because of what he`s been able to purchase. And, you know, I thought that might work, you know? I thought his strategy might work. And then we saw last week`s debate. How well you perform actually still matters to voters and he`s come down a number of points in the last week from the polls because of that.

And, you know, we`ll see how he does tomorrow night. The fact he canceled his town hall that he`s supposed to have tonight doesn`t suggest to me that they feel so great about how the debate prep is going. So, money -- 

O`DONNELL:  Anand -- go ahead, sorry.

PALMIERI:  -- there`s like there`s way too much money in this race, which way too much being spent, but I do think it`s still the caliber of the candidate and their ability to meet voters where they are and talk about the concerns in their lives still does matter.

O`DONNELL:  I want to get both your perspectives on this, Jennifer, you`ve been inside the campaigns. You`ve seen how fund-raising works.

But my question, Anand, is, what is the difference between a billionaire spending his own money, we call -- we, the candidates tomorrow night who aren`t billionaires are going to call that buying an election. You`re going to hear Bernie Sanders say something about buying an election. You`re going to hear Elizabeth Warren say something about buying an election.

How is that different from using other people`s money to -- what do you call that when you use other people`s money? Is that buying an election? Barack Obama used a billion dollars of other people`s money in 2008 to get elected president of the United States. Did he buy it?

GIRIDHARADAS:  Let me disclose up front, I don`t think there should be billionaire money in any of our elections.

O`DONNELL:  Campaign reform, sure.

GIRIDHARADAS:  Correct, but we`re not living in the America that I wish we were living in.

O`DONNELL:  I think we can all agree on that, yeah.

GIRIDHARADAS:  So then the question becomes in the subliminary world wherein there is this money and you proposed two models where Barack Obama can spend time on the phone, and court a bunch of billionaires.

O`DONNELL:  Endless time in the phone.

GIRIDHARADAS:  Or Buttigieg now or others who are in this game now or Michael Bloomberg can self-fund.

Michael Bloomberg has made the argument that not having to court other billionaires is -- makes him less corrupt, makes him incorruptible. He said I am the only person -- all rich guy`s sentences start, I`m the only person. I am the only person who can`t be corrupt in this race. He said that in Phoenix, remarkable statement actually casting aspersion on everybody else, because I don`t need to raise money from others.

And what is so fraudulent about this statement is if you actually just think for a second, if you are having to raise money from like -- let`s say ten different rich people, ten different rich people do not agree on everything. They actually agree on nothing because they all have a lot of egos. They agree on a handful of issues about being rich.

That`s actually ten different people pulling you in ten different directions which is sort of what Madison was getting at in Federalist, a lot of pulling people in different directions you`re actually prevented from kind of going one way monolithically that`s dangerous to the people. One guy accountable to nobody whose whims in his bath robe in the morning decide his ideas, his policies, who he surrounds -- his bath robe whims become the governing framework of the United States potentially, that to me is way more dangerous than someone who in the fallen world at least has to deal with the shifting moods and taboos and sensibilities and interests of ten different rich guys.

To go to what Jennifer said, she`s absolutely right. Every single vote Michael Bloomberg hopes to get is because of spending money on ads. In other words, the enterprise of the Bloomberg campaign, not some side activity of it, the enterprise of it as a whole, is corrupt. It is -- his running --

O`DONNELL:  Buying ads is corrupt?

GIRIDHARADAS:  No. Attempting to pursue the presidency of the United States entirely by spending money, without doing any of the things all the candidates have been to actually relate to people, connect to people --

O`DONNELL:  Oh, I see, it removes you from the rest of the process.



GIRIDHARADAS:  And buying it with no other basis. He has no support. He had no support until he started spending this money. He knows it, his people know it.

The entire enterprise of the Bloomberg campaign is corrupt. And I`ve said this yesterday, people may disagree with me. It makes something like the Ukraine deal which is not something I`m a fan of, it makes it look small because what we`re actually talking about is an individual now, but also the next cycle and the next, just thinking this is now a consumer product.

The president of the United States becomes a thing people just think they can buy.

O`DONNELL:  Let me get Jennifer in.

Jennifer, as someone who worked inside real presidential campaigns, dealing with the reality of this, which is the courting of billionaire donors, the courting of small dollar donors, which has become hugely important, thanks to the Internet that has helped Democratize in a sense campaign financing as Bernie Sanders has remarkably demonstrated, what is your reaction to all of these questions and the notion of, is a candidate who has to, you know, solicit money from a lot of different people including a lot of different rich people to buildup a billion dollars to win the presidency, is that qualitative different from a person using his own money if he can afford it?

PALMIERI:  I think it is. I mean, I think that the idea that you could have, I mean, first of all, it`s like the 12th richest person in the world, right, that there is that much income -- that much gap in equality in America, you come in, use your own money and spend your own dollars as he already has in an attempt to win over voters is not the best way to elect a president.

And what -- and I think that when you`re having to raise money, you know, it`s a time select candidate, someone will have to do it. You`re showing you`re able to put a coalition together, right? You put a coalition together of small dollar donors, wealthy donors, but that shows that you can get a base of support for your candidacy. And that, you know, that proves that you`re a strong candidate.

What I think that Bloomberg is -- I mean, I don`t, I don`t -- I think this is a bad way to elect a president and I would not describe the entire Bloomberg effort as corrupt. I think Bloomberg is well intended in what he is trying to do, it`s just a bad way of doing it and I have enormous concerns with.

But, you know, going to Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina and Nevada, that`s where presidents really turn into good leaders. That`s what Barack Obama would talk about all the time. The people that he met on the campaign trail, how much he missed that as president. That`s why he got ten letters every night from people so that he could reach -- he had a way to stay in touch.

Bloomberg (AUDIO GAP) could hurt his soul as president if he were selected is not having that kind of connection with the people you`re going to lead. That`s what money -- too much money, you can buy your way out of that, that`s really -- a dark way to get into presidency.

O`DONNELL: Anand Giridharadas, Jennifer Palmieri, thank you both for starting us off tonight. Really appreciate it.

And when we come back, Harvey Weinstein is guilty, guilty of rape. He was led from the courtroom today in a state of shock in handcuffs. What the Manhattan district attorney says will be a maximum of 25 years in prison when the judge sentences Weinstein in two weeks.

That`s next.


O`DONNELL:  It took two years and 3 1/2 months for Harvey Weinstein to be found guilty of rape in a courtroom today in New York City. That`s two years and three and a half months since "The New York Times" revealed Harvey Weinstein`s monstrous decades of behavior as a sexual predator, sexual assaulter and rapist. And Pulitzer Prize reporting by Megan Twohey and Jodi Kantor in "The New York Times" delivered us that story. Ronan Farrow followed "The New York Times" report with his own Pulitzer Prize reporting in "The New Yorker."

The women who came forward to tell their stories in "The New York Times" and "The New Yorker" are the heroic vanguards of a new movement that has now changed the legal world`s understanding of rape and how to prosecute rape charges. Harvey Weinstein was found guilty of two out of three possible verdicts against him. He was found guilty of the rape of Jessica Mann and guilty of a criminal sexual act in the first degree against Miriam Haley.

Jessica Mann broke down on the witness stand during cross-examination by Weinstein`s lawyer which caused Judge James Burke to end the trial proceedings early that day. Jessica Mann spent three days total on the witness stand describing a complex involvement with Weinstein which she said was at times consensual, but did include at least two incidents of violent sexual assault.

Prosecutor Joan Illuzzi-Orbon told the jury that Harvey Weinstein tried to keep in contact with his victims in order to control them. She told the jurors when you have to trick somebody to be in your control, then you know that you don`t have consent.

Miriam Haley was in tears on the witness stand when she described the first time that Harvey Weinstein attacked her, saying: He pushed me down, he held me down by my arms. No, stay like that. And I said, no, no. At the time I started realizing what was actually happening, and I thought, this is being raped.

Here is what Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance had to say after the jurors` verdict.


CYRUS VANCE, JR., MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEY:  Weinstein is a vicious serial sexual predator who used his power to threaten, rape, assault, trick, humiliate and silence his victims. He has been found guilty of criminal sexual act in the first degree and will face on that count a state prison sentence of no less than five years and up to 25 years.


O`DONNELL:  Joining us now, Molly Crane-Newman, who is the Manhattan court`s reporter for "New York Daily News". She has been in the courtroom every day covering the Weinstein trial.

Also with us, Cynthia Alksne. She`s a former federal prosecutor, and MSNBC legal analyst.

Molly, today in the courtroom, there is no suspense like a jury verdict. But on Friday when the jury sent a note to the juror -- to the judge saying, can we be hung on the two heaviest counts if we are in agreement on the others, it seemed like they had at least reached agreement on the lesser charges, which is what we found today.

MOLLY CRANE-NEWMAN, MANHATTAN COURTS REPORTER, NEW YORK DAILY NEWS:  Right. So, the jury did give us a hint as to what they were feeling on Friday. And they had asked if they were hung on the two counts of predatory sexual assault but unanimous on the other three counts -- pardon me, what would that mean. And so the question was phrased hypothetically, it gave us some indication of where --

O`DONNELL:  What was -- what was Weinstein`s reaction when he heard that word guilty in the courtroom today?

CRANE-NEWMAN:  He looked straight ahead. He looked disconnected and stunned is how I would really describe his face when that came down. I don`t think he was expecting it.

O`DONNELL:  And did you see him put in handcuffs in the courtroom?

CRANE-NEWMAN:  Yes. So, from when the verdict -- when the jury foreman read the verdict until he was taken away in handcuffs was about 20 minutes, and then he was separated from his walker. They cuffed him from the front and walked him into the cells in the back of the courtroom.

O`DONNELL:  The video we see of him walking out of the courtroom is so different from the video we`ve seen of him walking into the courtroom every day hunched over a walker. He is -- he does have an officer on each side of him, but his leg movement, his walking out of the courtroom today looked like someone who really wasn`t having any trouble walking.

CRANE-NEWMAN:  Right. Well, you know, seven weeks ago today Harvey Weinstein walked into Manhattan criminal court for the first time on a walker. It was the first time anybody had seen him on a walker. His lawyers claim that he needs it after he had back surgery. You know, today, Donna Rotunno said to the judge back surgery was not a success and that he`s needed it to support himself to walk. That is what we`ve been told, and by his defense team.

O`DONNELL:  Cynthia Alksne, your reaction to this prosecution, which had a burden unlike any I`m aware of in previous sexual assault and rape cases.


O`DONNELL:  Which was kind of ongoing interaction with the victims. And in the past, prosecutors, if they saw that, if they saw any kind of friendly email contact or anything like that after the incident, they would kind of give up on the case.

ALKSNE:  Yes, I think it was -- I think if you look at it in a traditional way, it was the impossible case. It was not a case where you would put resources in because you would have no confidence that you would ever get a conviction and you would put your victim through a terrible ordeal for nothing. And you would waste resources of the office that were needed for other victims.

So this is a complete change in the prosecution of sex crime cases. It`s a huge win for victims everywhere, not only these victims, these 80 victims of his, but also victims who are out there and are afraid to come forward. And now they know they can come forward.

So, it`s -- I can`t tell you how impressed I am with the quality of the lawyering to be able to get a conviction in this case because these women had these ongoing contacts with Weinstein. And let me say about Weinstein and his walker, let`s remember he has been in the entertainment business.

This walker, cry me a river. He`ll do just fine in jail. I don`t want to hear about his walker and his medical problems quite frankly.

O`DONNELL:  Let me tell the control room, we don`t have to show the walker any more, but I would by contrast like to show him walking out of the courtroom again today, if you can get that video back, because it`s a stunning contrast.

Cynthia, let me stay with you on a legal frontier that has been -- that has been mapped out on this. I wonder if the prosecutors in this case read that -- those "New York Times" accounts, read Ronan Farrow`s reporting in "The New Yorker" and processed the complexity in this in a way they haven`t before because that reporting was so detailed and brought out all of the various shadings and the different kinds of regret and the different kind of feelings that the women had about these experiences.

CYNTIA ALKSNE, FMR. FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I`m sure that when they first spoke with these women, they shook their heads and thought we`re never going to be able to get a conviction on this.

I mean, that`s just what people - what experienced prosecutors would think but fortunately there were enough heroic victims. There were enough women that came forward and the quality of the reporting was so good that they were pressed into action and we`re very lucky again, not only in the - in our presidential system but in the legal system here, that we`ve had these reporters that have done this work.

I mean just imagine. These people maintained contact with him. One of them, when she changed her phone number, she gave him the new number. I mean, that in and of itself, that little fact would be enough to lose a case over time. That`s what - that would have been enough not to bring a case forward and here they went forward with lots of evidence like that.

And it not only shows how brave the prosecutors were and how brave the victims were, one of these victims had three days of cross examination. It`s wrenching to do an hour and a half of cross examination in a rape case and she had three days of it.

And - and the quality of the defense was quite good and so it was very painful.

O`DONNELL: Molly, Harvey Weinstein did not testify in his own defense. We are not as jurors, can take a negative inference from that. Jurors are instructed not to but we certainly can. It certainly says to me, there wasn`t a single thing he could say that could have helped him.

Those prosecutors did have this unique burden. How did they deal with the challenges of some of the testimony of the witnesses they put on because the old model for this is, if the defense can raise just one doubt about anything that the witness has said, you know you can kind of knock out all of the testimony.

These prosecutors must have realized, there can be some elements of doubt about some of the things the witnesses are saying but we somehow have to preserve the total impact of their testimony. How did they do that?

MOLLY CRANE-NEWMAN, MANHATTAN COURTS REPORTER NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Right, well, you know Jessica Mann for example was, she was on - she was on cross examination for a total of nine hours over two days and she was totally forthcoming about her relationship with Harvey Weinstein.

You know, she told the jurors, I have nothing to hide. I own my behavior and sort of described this on again, off again, consensual relationship with him and Miriam Haleyi was the same and the defense again and again tried to pull up old emails, text messages they had sent Harvey Weinstein, before and after the fact.

But when the woman took the stand and testified, they didn`t lie about their relationship with him and they didn`t lie about its complexities and so I think in the end, the jury was able to see the nuances.

O`DONNELL: Molly, before you go, I just want to ask you as a person, as a woman sitting in that courtroom for all that testimony. You`ve covered a lot in that courthouse. What was it like for you to be in that courtroom everyday with this testimony?

CRANE-NEWMAN: Well, you know it was important to - it was a challenging trial in more ways than one and but I just tried to do my job and report as best I could. You know, this is a huge trial that we reporters from all over the world covering it.

And we were there from 5:00 in the morning until 7:00 at night, each day and so I just tried to do my best of reporting it.

O`DONNELL: But the - but as a - in terms of the personal weight that you felt, was this different from other trials you have had to cover.

CRANE-NEWMAN: I certainly never covered a trial like this and so yes, it was challenging in ways but again, I just tried to be in reporter mode and cover from that angle.

O`DONNELL: Molly Crane-Newman, thank you for being in reporter mode there. We relied on your reporting and Cynthia Alksne, thank you for joining us. I`d really appreciate it.

And when we come back from this break, Cecile Richards will join us to consider the Weinstein verdict`s place in this era of MeToo and the Donald Trump era and where we go from here.



CYRUS VANCE, MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEY: This is the new landscape for survivors of sexual assault in America, I believe and this is a new day. It`s a new day because Harvey Weinstein has finally been held accountable for crimes he committed. The women who came forward courageously and at great risk made that happen.


O`DONNELL: That was Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance today after the jury found Harvey Weinstein guilty of rape. Joining us now is Cecile Richard. She is the co-founder of the women`s political group, Supermajority and the former president of Planned Parenthood.

And Cecile, I want to kind of pull back to a wider vision of where we are at this point in the 21st century. We have seen so much turmoil, especially if we were to just start the clock at the New York Times article about Harvey Weinstein, almost 2.5 years ago, include the Trump campaign for President where we saw the Access Hollywood video come out.

And that did not stop the Trump presidential campaign as so many people assumed it would. What do you sense is changing now and does this verdict represent a kind of change from where we were when apparently enough voters saw the Access Hollywood video and decided that doesn`t bother me, I still want that guy to be President?

CECILE RICHARDS, CO-FOUNDER, SUPERMAJORITY: Well, I think first, I do think today this conviction does belong to the courageous women as Cy Vance said who not only risked their careers, who endured humiliating days in the court room and this could not have happened, I think 4 or 5 years ago.

This is really a result of in this case, more than 80 women coming forward and in the words of Tarana Burke saying MeToo and standing up with each other and for each other and I think it has been - it is a spark that was - that was lit and it is not going out and I do think it`s about something - it`s about the courage of these women, the courage you know of Jody, of Megan, of really pursuing the story.

And it`s showing women, the power what they can do when we actually stand up and for each other. I think it`s - and it obviously is catapulting into this election where women are finally realizing that they have the political power to change what`s happening in this country on a whole host of issues and not least of which is sexual assault and harassment which is rampant in this country.

And again, not - of course not just in Hollywood but experienced by women in the workforce, all across America.

O`DONNELL: Women`s health is now under assault by some Republican policies, reproductive rights under assault by Republican policies. Where - and that`s one of those areas where you had a right to think that women had achieved certain victories and certain benchmarks that could not be reversed. But we`re seeing that attempt continues.

RICHARDS: Right. Absolutely. Women are seen on all of these issues. Government that right now is not only standing still in some cases but actually rolling back rights that they have had and I think that`s why you`re seeing historic numbers, not - obviously the women`s march was sort of the beginning - the beginning of it all.

Now almost four years ago but it has continued on in 2018, record numbers of women voting. We`re seeing it in all the primaries, in every primary state and all the caucuses, women out numbering you know, being the majority of voters.

And I actually just - I feel like women are beginning to realize the power of standing united and actually standing up on issues. This is an issue of sexual harassment and assault which is experienced by women all across the country, regardless of party, regardless of income level.

And we`re finally saying, enough is enough. You know, we want - we want to quality and we want these issues that have been swept under the rug come out into the daylight and want to do something about them.

And I think this is actually the President`s biggest vulnerability with women. He clearly does not care. He continues to make you know, derogatory comments about women and I think this is going to cost him votes, next November.

O`DONNELL: Cecile Richards, thank you very much for joining us. I really appreciate it.

RICHARDS: Good to see you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you. And when we come back, Donald Trump now claims that no one has told him that Vladimir Putin is interfering in our elections to help Donald Trump`s campaign. In other words, Donald Trump is operating exactly the way Vladimir Putin wants him to operate in the face - in the face of Vladimir Putin`s attack on our election.


O`DONNELL: The Trump administration has done nothing to prevent Russia`s interference in the election and so today Democratic leader Chuck Schumer along with the top Democratic leaders on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Foreign Relations committee, on Banking committee sent a letter to Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Treasury, Steve Mnuchin, urging them to use their existing authority to sanction Russia for its current interference in the election.

Joining us now, Congressman Denny Heck, a Democrat from Washington, a member of the House Intelligence committee and the House Financial Services committee. Congressman Heck, I am sure that Chuck Schumer doesn`t expect Secretary Pompeo or Secretary Mnuchin to do anything but that he definitely wanted to underline through these letters that they are doing absolutely nothing and that Donald Trump is doing nothing to stop Russia`s attack on election.

REP. DENNY HECK (D-WA): Well, I agree with you Lawrence. The fact of the matter is however, I think there are a number of Republican United States senators who still are highly skeptical of Russia and might be willing to go in this direction but the administration is not.

And the reason that we ought to do it and I couldn`t be more supportive of Senator Schumer`s proposal frankly is that we`re going to continue to get this behavior on Russia`s part and tell it hurts bad enough that they stand down and we`re only going to know that it is hurting bad enough when they do stand down.

And they clearly haven`t been ready or willing to do that thus far.

O`DONNELL: Now Donald Trump does not do everything Vladimir Putin wants him to do. For example, Vladimir Putin would like Donald Trump to block all aid of all forms to Ukraine but it seems to me and correct me if I`m wrong about this, I can`t see a single thing that Donald Trump has ever done about Russia`s interference in the election that Vladimir Putin doesn`t want him to do.

First of all, Donald Trump denies it. Secondly, Donald Trump fires people who take it seriously within his administration. Has Donald Trump ever done anything that Vladimir Putin didn`t want him to do about Russia`s interference in the election?

HECK: Not to my recollection Lawrence, but remember this shouldn`t surprise, he`s given the back in Helsinki. He told the entire world that he believed Vladimir Putin over his own Intelligence community.

So we should - we shouldn`t be surprised by any of this but what we should do is remind people about why this is so darned important, the fact is our great Republic sits atop a three-legged stool and we all know about the precarious nature of three-legged stools if they miss one of the legs.

The first is we`re governed by the rule of law, anchored in our constitution. The second is we have guarantees of individual freedoms, also as founded in our constitution and thirdly, we have free, fair and open elections conducted with integrity and if people lose confidence that they have been conducted with integrity then they do not confer legitimacy upon our government.

And at the end of the day, in a democratic society, in a democratic republic, it is that legitimacy, that consent of the government, that enables government to function it all and President Trump frankly, is waging a war against that very precept.

O`DONNELL: Congressman Denny Heck, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it.

HECK: You`re welcome Sir.

O`DONNELL: And when we come back, Jill Wine-Banks will get tonight`s LAST WORD on her new book and on the conviction for Harvey Weinstein.


O`DONNELL: After being impeached by the House and put on trial in the Senate, Donald Trump is purging his administration and retribution. According to Axios, Donald Trump and his allies have been assembling lists of disloyal government officials, disloyal to Trump that is and replacing them with Trump supporters.

"Since Trump`s senate acquittal, aides say the president has crossed a psychological line regarding what he calls the deep state. He feels his government - from justice to state to defense to Homeland Security is filled with snakes. He wants them fired and replaced ASAP."

In her new book, up tomorrow, former assistant Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks reflects on her experience, taking down a corrupt president.

"More than four decades after Watergate, I see history repeating itself with the presidency of Donald Trump. Like Nixon, Trump is corrupt, amoral, vindictive, paranoid, ruthless and narcissistic. Now, as then, there`s a sense that our country is spinning towards chaos. That our democratic institutions might not survive. Today the peril is worse than in the 1970s because Trump is more dangerous than Nixon"

Joining our discussion now, Jill Wine-Banks, former assistant Watergate special prosecutor and MSNBC legal analyst. She is the author of the new book, `The Watergate Girl.`

Pretty exciting Jill. On sale tomorrow. So that last line that I read and this is a question that I`ve been going, tossing around in my head throughout the Trump presidency. Who`s worse? Richard Nixon or Donald Trump?

JILL WINE-BANKS, FMR ASST WATERGATE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: They`re both bad but there is no question in my mind that Donald Trump is a much more existential threat to democracy than Richard Nixon was.

And when you talk about vindictive and the purges, I would say that Nixon was vindictive and he retaliated against anyone he saw as not being loyal to him but he didn`t pull out people from the government. He didn`t replace them with people who would do his bidding like Attorney General Barr and so many others and that`s what Donald Trump is doing which hurts the institutions of government and really threatens democracy in a way that Nixon didn`t.

And also during Watergate the system worked. He ended up resigning. He was forced out of office and now we have the Republicans in the Senate saying not guilty. Oh yes, there`s enough evidence to show that he committed all the acts that are charged but then they said the words, not guilty and that`s terrible.

O`DONNELL: Well, now was it the system that worked in Watergate or was it the people, was it the individual, was it Barry Goldwater`s sense of decency that made Barry Goldwater arch conservative Republican go up to that Republican White House and say President Nixon, you`re going to have to resign.

Now President Nixon had been very, very helpful to Barry Goldwater`s 1964 campaign. This wasn`t easy on a personal level but there was nothing institutionally that forced them to do that. They took that on as human beings and did that.

WINE-BANKS: I think it was a question of two things. One was a morality and we`d have to look at Elliot Richardson who was the Attorney General who refused to fire the special prosecutor because he had promised Congress.

O`DONNELL: Republican Elliott Richardson.

WINE-BANKS: Republican, appointed by the president but he said, I told Congress I wouldn`t fire him except for cause. There is no cause. So Nixon fired him and then the deputy Attorney General Ruckelshaus refused to do the same task assigned to him and he was fired and it was Bork who was the third person, the Solicitor General, who did the firing and who never became a Supreme Court justice in large part because he did the dirty deed.

But it`s also because of the media. Back then we had three networks and they all had the same facts. Now you have what are called alternative facts which our lies basically. They can`t be alternate facts. There are facts and there non-facts and people actually believe what Donald Trump says even though it`s contradicted by evidence in plain sight.

O`DONNELL: I really want to get your reaction to the Weinstein verdict tonight because you`ve been practicing law since the 1970s. A case of prosecution like this was inconceivable in the 1970s, inconceivable until very recently when prosecutors always wanted the perfect, they wanted what they would call the perfect victim.

WINE-BANKS: They wanted the perfect victim. They blamed the victim. This is in the days when what the victim wore was part of the evidence and if you were dressed provocatively, it was your fault that you got raped and so people wouldn`t - prosecutors didn`t bring cases as a result of that and the laws had to be changed.

For example, if you had a prior sexual relationship with any person, even in a loving relationship, that was used as evidence against you and those are things that the law has changed but I think attitudes have finally caught up and that the MeToo movement which I would have thought started with for example Donald Trump and his -

O`DONNELL: Should have.

WINE-BANKS: It should have. I wouldn`t have predicted that Harvey Weinstein was the cause of the whole movement but it is him who started it and he`s got his just rewards now by having been convicted and the jury obviously took it very seriously and did some jury nullification but reached a fair verdict.

O`DONNELL: Jill Wine-Banks, the new book is called `The Watergate Girl.` Thank you very much for joining us tonight Jill, really appreciate it and I want to give a special LAST WORD tonight to Ashley Judd who was in the first New York Times article about Harvey Weinstein.

She went on the record publicly with her name. A big Hollywood star doing that was very, very important to the reporting and to all subsequent reporting and encouraging other women to come forward. Ashley Judd who was in the first "New York Times" articles Harvey Weinstein she went on the record publicly with her name. A big Hollywood start doing that was very, very important to the reporting and to all subsequent reporting and encouraging other women to come forward.

Ashley Judd tweeted today, "For the women who testified in this case, and walked through traumatic hell, you did a public service to girls and women everywhere. Thank you."

That is tonight`s LAST WORD. Ashley Judd gets tonight`s LAST WORD. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.