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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 9/27/22

Guests: Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Masih Alinejad, Harry Litman


Alinejad is an Iranian journalist who has been in exile from Iran for 13 years but she remains a leader of the revolt against the Iranian dictatorship that has led to widespread protests over the death of Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by the morality police because they said her hijab did not cover every hair on her head. Doug Mastriano, Republican nominee for governor of Pennsylvania, believes women should be charged and convicted of murder if they end a pregnancy.



And I have a feeling that this time tomorrow night, we will be in effect, simulcasting like the weather channel here.

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST, "ALEX WAGNER TONIGHT": I think we will be doing our best, talk about meteorological patterns and we will also be hoping that the damage is not too extreme for the people of Florida.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, it is definitely going to be a rough night tomorrow night in Florida, at this point, and we`ll find out what we find out then tomorrow night.

WAGNER: We will find out what we find out and we`ll know what we know when we know it.

O`DONNELL: That`s right. Thank you, Alex.

WAGNER: Have a good show.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Well, tonight, the special master in the appropriately named case of Donald J. Trump versus United States of America issued a new order in the case because what a Special Master Raymond Dearie thought the Trump lawyers could do in a day, last week, they still have not done.

Judge Dearie`s order says, in light of delays in retaining a vendor to digitize the seized materials, plaintive Trump deadline for submitting a declaration affidavit in response to the government`s revised inventory is extended to October 7th, 2022. That appears to me that the Trump lawyers` incompetence in trying to hire a company that would digitize and organize the 11,000 documents seized by the FBI has brought them, bought them in effect, one week extension or so, of the deadline when the Trump lawyers will then have to respond to the Justice Department filing and updated inventory of what was seized.

But it is actually worse than that, worse than just a lawyer incompetence. What Judge Dearie`s order did not review about the delay in hiring a vendor was revealed tonight in a late filing in the case by the Justice Department, which says, quote, plaintive Trump informed us this morning that none of the five document review vendors proposed by the government before last Tuesday`s preliminary conference where willing to be engaged by plaintive Trump.

So, none of the five companies who specialize in this kind of work were willing to be hired by Donald Trump. None of them. It sounds like maybe they have heard something about Donald Trump`s record on paying his bills.

The Justice Department`s filing went on to say that they give up. They just give up on the possibility that any such company in the country would ever be willing to be hired by Donald Trump. So the Justice Department informed the special master that they have decided to hire a company directly and guarantee payment to that company. The Justice Department filing said based on its prior experience and discussions today with the vendors, the government is highly confident, at least one vendor will respond and that will be able to agree upon and contract with it documents review vendor that will host the seized materials in electronic form.

The government expects to be reimbursed for those costs according to the order in this case, requiring Donald Trump to pay all of the expenses of the special master review since it was Donald Trump who asked for the special master review. The Justice Department revealed in its filing, plaintive Trump upgrades to the government`s proposed way forward on the documents vendor. And so, after Donald Trump and his lawyers failed to do the very first thing that the special master ordered them to do, which was hire a company to digitize and organize all of the documents, the government is going to have to do it for them and then bill Donald Trump.

And because Donald Trump`s lawyers say they cannot make any declarations about any of the evidence in the case until the 11,000 documents have been digitized and organized, we will have to wait at least another week or so to hear Donald Trump`s lawyers answer to Judge Dearie`s question in writing, asking them to identify what documents, if any, in those 11, 000, where planted there by the FBI and not actually found out Donald Trump`s residence.

Judge Dearie ordered Donald Trump`s lawyers to answer that question because Donald Trump last week was saying things like this.



DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: The problem that you have is that they go into rooms, they want to let anyone near them -- they won`t even let them in the same building. Did they drop anything into those piles? Or did they do it later?


O`DONNELL: Judge Dearie`s action in this case, apparently, has already shut up Donald Trump about things like that.

There is another federal case in Washington that carries enormous legal risks for Donald Trump even though his name does not appear in the title of the case which is, United States of America versus Elmer Stewart Rhodes III. Elmer Rhodes is a founder of a group of violent attackers of the Capitol on January 6 who have given themselves the absurdly in appropriate name, the Oath Keepers. Elmer Rhodes, along with ten other criminal defendants, are facing charges of seditious conspiracy, conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding, assaulting, or repeating certain officers, and other crimes.

So this conspiracy alone carries a potential prison sentence of 20 years. The seditious conspiracy statute is an 1861 federal law that Elmer Rhodes may defense against by using an 1807 law. The Wall Street Journal reports that Elmer Rhodes who hates his first name so much that he uses his middle name, may be planning to mop the defense bates on the Insurrection Act.

"The Wall Street Journal" reports, quote, the defense also hinges on the Insurrection Act, an 1807 a law that allows a president to deploy American troops inside the country. In the days before the January 6th attack on the Capitol, some of Mr. Trump`s allies urged him to invoke that law and unleashed the military to help keep him in office. The defendants have said that they brought gear and weapons because they sincerely thought Mr. Trump would invoke the Insurrection Act. For that reason, they have said, they last the required criminal intent for seditious conspiracy.

The problem with that particular defense is that the Insurrection Act does not empower the president to order people like Elmer Rhodes and his friends into battle. The 1807 law says the president may, upon the request of its legislature or its governor, if the legislature cannot be convened, call into federal service such of the militia of the other states, in the number requested by that state, and use such of the armed forces, as he considers necessary to suppress the insurrection.

The Insurrection Act of 1807 was intended to give the president tools to suppress an insurrection, not to start one. But the defense mounted in court by Elmer Rhodes and his codefendants might reveal communication directly or indirectly from Donald Trump urging them to go into battle against the Congress and the vice presidents, as they did, on January 6. The defense testimony to that effect in this case could be used to confirm the allegations in civil lawsuits by Capitol police officers against Donald Trump, for inciting the attack on the capitol in which they were injured.

Elmer Rhodes could provide the evidence those lawsuits in need to bankrupt Donald Trump and Rhodes defense in this criminal case could provide federal prosecutors with evidence they may need to indict Donald Trump for seditious conspiracy in the attack on the Capitol on January 6.

Leading off our discussion tonight is Andrew Weissmann, former FBI general counsel, and former chief of the criminal division and the eastern district of New York. He`s professor of practice at NYU Law School and MSNBC legal analyst. Also with us, Harry Litman, former U.S. attorney and former deputy assistant attorney general.

And Andrew Weissmann, let me begin with you, where we are with Judge Dearie tonight and his special master handling of this case, it was an interesting sequence of revelations about what happened with trying to obtain a vendor to digitize these records.

Now, in your experience with vendors like this, coming into criminal cases like this, what is your reaction to what we have learned about this tonight?

ANDREW WEISSMANN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: So as you said, getting a vendor is usually a non-issue. I think there is something we can take away from what is seems like a small potatoes kind of thing. I think what Donald Trump is doing is quite quitting. He brought this case, he realized that he is worse off from having brought this case, and that`s because he`s an 11th Circuit decision now saying that Judge Cannon was totally wrong, and that these classified documents are highly sensitive and it is a crime to possess them, and he has no right to them.


So, he`s already worse off because two judges he appointed have said this. And a third judge to boot.

Now he is in front of a really good special master who is requiring him to set up certain things, including as you said, requiring him to say, are you saying, and you need to say it in an affidavit, that any of these documents are stolen? Or any of these documents are planted? We need to know specifically what you are saying.

And he clearly, from the letter of the government submitted, is just not participating in the process. The government says that in their last paragraph. He says he is the plaintiff. The plaintiff is usually the one who brings the lawsuit because they want relief. And he obviously doesn`t have the temerity, you, know to actually say you know what, I`m just going to dismiss the case.

So I think he`s just refusing to participate, which is why you see the governments having to obtain the vendor one it was obviously his obligation to do it.

So, this is really his raising of white flag, but trying not to say it. Which you know, frankly, I think that explains why we have heard that the main lawyer who he hired, is now or not working on this. And I don`t blame him. I wouldn`t want to work on this either.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, that`s the $3 million lawyer, Chris Kise, who used to be the solicitor general state of Florida. He`s argued cases before the United States Supreme Court. He may be the most highly regarded of all the Trump lawyers in this case.

And, Harry Litman, one of the news items of the day is that he has been benched in this case. Donald Trump doesn`t want to hear from him apparently in defending this documents case.

But, Harry, have the Trump lawyers achieved a classic Donald Trump delay, here? By pushing things back a week, or more? Because of this delay, in getting a vendor.

HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, a week or more in the overall scheme of things, is not really long. As Andrew said, it`s quite easy, and the DOJ comes in and says, fine, we will get the vendor, and we will have this in a week.

I don`t know if Trump -- he would be well advised to waive the white flag here. I don`t know if he`s really doing it. But theory has turned into a judge put up or shut up to him. So, it`s not, it`s the things that things that Andrew said, but in addition, he now has to itemize, tell us which documents, excuse, me which of the document you think are covered by executive privilege. Number one, two, three, and why? And the department says that`s fine with us, although of course, none of them should really matter.

And we already know, tell us if you think that the FBI actually took anything. Tell us if you think there is something in the whole court of materials other than what was seized there.

So everything he is saying in the public sphere, Dearie is turning into his worst nightmare of actually having to a test in court. So it`s no surprise that he is not acting with alacrity. Also, I think it`s no surprise that he is sort of demoted Dearie, kind of James Bond villain style, or Austin Power style.

This is a guy that hasn`t produced for him. And he turns out to be the smartest lawyer that Trump retained because he got $3 million guaranteed upfront. So that`s one thing to be said for. Smart lawyers and Donald Trump usually part company.

O`DONNELL: Andrew Weissmann, what might look like a delay to the audience, or Donald Trump or his lawyers have more time to respond about the documents that were seized, also includes an astonishing speeding up of some issues for Donald Trump`s out of the case. For example, did the FBI plant documents?

The Trump defense could have held that question all the way to trial, and never raised it until an FBI agent got on the witness stand and started testifying for the prosecution about the search. And at that point, you know, and it wouldn`t be the first time that defense lawyers started doing a pretty rough cross-examination about was this planted, was that planted? And, of course, they get the answer, no. But they get the question in front of the jury. Was that planted? That`s the whole strategy.

And so Donald Trump is being asked to answer that question right now, and if now he says no, nothing was planted, then that precludes him from playing with this as a defense tool in a trial, which is a long way for me to get to this question.


Is it possible, in this inquiry by Judge Dearie, for Donald Trump to take the Fifth Amendment and not answer the question? Was any of this stuff planted?

WEISSMANN: That is a great question. And so the answer is, yes.

So, here is a conundrum, this is the world`s worst strategy. If you are a potential defendant and you know that there is a criminal investigation, then you don`t want to also be a plaintiff. This reminds me of when Donald Trump said, you know, I want to sue "The New York Times" for defamation, and the general counsel of the New York Times as you know what, be my guest. Bring it on, because then we get discovery. And, of course, Donald Trump to do it.

Well, here, by Donald Trump being the plaintiff, he is the one who is asking for relief. So if he were to take the fifth, and refuse to say whether any of these documents were planted or not, then his case is going to be dismissed, because the burden is on the plaintiff, and he will not have to fill that.

And Judge Dearie said that on day one. He says let`s just be real. You wear the plaintiff, you have the burden. You may have all sorts of reasons why you don`t want to submit anything, but then you are not going to win here.

And frankly, I think that is ultimately what`s going to happen because as you said, he is going to -- when you are a defense lawyer, what you have on your side is a very little except of the elements of surprise. So that`s gone now.

And the one thing he can`t do is submit something that is false. Because if he does that, Judge Dearie it`s going to be all over him, and it will be just another potential, criminal charge. Because lying to a federal judge will be a problem, not just for the lawyers, but also for Donald Trump. So he is really strategically made a terrible blunder.

O`DONNELL: Well, you know Donald Trump threatened to sue me on -- or through Twitter, ten years ago, when I first started calling him a liar on this program. And I begged him to, assuming for exactly the same reasons as "The New York Times", then I get to put him under oath in the deposition.

Harry Litman, what about the intersection of this case now, with the so-called Oath Keepers in Washington, and what Donald Trump has to fear, and what they might or might not raise in their defense?

LITMAN: Right. So look, as you said at the outset, Lawrence, there is no valid defense that says the insurrection acts, I thought it was going to be called into play. And therefore, that is the reason I had all the gear and everything else. Oh and the reason I offer all the incendiary rhetoric, that was just talk.

It`s -- well, I don`t think it will cut it, but, it`s bad for Trump because he will be set trying to emphasize everything he can about the earnestness which Trump was communicating to the whole group maybe, through people, that`s in fact it was time to gear up and actually fight the powers that be, t as you say, mount an insurrection.

So just thematically, you know, it figures to be more bad news for Trump, and another instance in what Andrew is talking about, you know, he has just been leading with his chin and getting more and more cabin, not just in courts, but in the public sphere. So, if for example, Dearie makes him, put up or shut up, it will also restrict his ability to be bombastic in public, and say, I declassified, and all these other things.

So the legal system is finally, finally sort of clamping its jaws around some of these claims of Trump and making it, you know, harder for him, both politically, and. of course, legally.

O`DONNELL: We will leave it there on that hopeful note, tonight. Andrew Weissmann, and Harry Litman, thank you both very night for starting off our discussions tonight.

And Vladimir Putin is and now the subject of United Nations Security Council deliberations today. The United States ambassador to the United Nations will join us.




VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): This is the most brutal violation of the U.N. charter. This is an attempt to still a territory of another state. This is an attempt to erase the norms of international law.


O`DONNELL: That was Ukraine`s President Zelenskyy speaking today about the voting Russia staged in eastern Ukraine, which Russia claims shows support for Russian control of that portion of Ukraine.

In another powerful speech, at the United Nations Security Council, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said this.


LINDA THOMAS-GREENFIELD, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: We know the outcomes of these sham referenda were predetermined in Moscow. They, in no way, represent a legitimate expression of the will of the Ukrainian people. The will of the Ukrainian people is clear every day as they fight valiantly for their country, as they protect their territorial integrity, as they defend their sovereignty.

The Ukrainian people have already demonstrated they will never accept being subjugated to Russian rule.


This council and the international community must do the same.

So, now, let me be clear, the United States will never recognize any territory Russia attempts to seize or allegedly annex, as anything other than parts of Ukraine. We reject Russia`s actions unequivocally.


O`DONNELL: And we are honored to be joined tonight by U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

Thank you very much for joining us.

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thank you. Delighted to be here.

O`DONNELL: So I know diplomats choose their words carefully, choose every word carefully, and the word that you generally use the least is probably the word "never", as in the United States will never recognize any territory Russia attempts to seize.

Was there any question about softening that sentence in any way that you spoke today?

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Absolutely not. If I could`ve used a stronger word, I would have.

O`DONNELL: What was it like today at the Security Council, given that Russia is a member with veto power, what is it like speaking against that power in that room?

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: You know, we had 14 members of the security council today say to Russia, loudly and clearly, that`s what they are doing in Ukraine is unacceptable.

And so, they heard from the entire council. And their message was a message that we were not surprised to hear, that they thought or try to explain away what they were doing. But they did that on deaf ears because what they are doing is unacceptable. We will never accept it. We will give the Ukrainians everything they need to defend themselves. And thirdly, we will hold them accountable for what they are doing in Ukraine.

O`DONNELL: So there is the actual material support that President Biden is giving, that the allies are giving, military equipment. Is it fair to look at the Security Council as the place where you deliver the verbal version of that military support?

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: I think the verbal version, but also the strong condemnation that no one else can deliver as directly as we can at the United Nations, and the isolation in the United Nations that we are working with our allies to impose on Russia.

So both of those, the isolation, the condemnation, both are clear to the Russians.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to more of what was done today. Ireland is a member now. Let`s listen to the Irish ambassador.


FERGAL MYTHEN, IRISH AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: Mr. President, these referenda will never deter us from supporting the people of Ukraine. Might those not make right. Nor will they have any legal or political effect on the status of Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, or other Ukrainian nuclear facilities.

These referenda are a cynical ploy to not only further undermine Ukrainian`s sovereignty and territorial integrity, but also trying to reset an unjustified war. This is a blatant land grab to redefine areas of Ukraine as part of Russia. A blatant land grab.


O`DONNELL: I have a stack of these here, Ambassador, from Kenya`s ambassador, member of the Security Council now, who has been so eloquent throughout on this.

And as you go forward in this, what is the state of the alliance, the strength of the unity against Russia, at this point?

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: The alliance is strong. NATO is stronger than it`s ever been, and the European alliance and partnership with the United States is stronger than it`s ever been.

The condemnation of Russia continues to be strong in the Security Council. So we are going to continue to put pressure on Russia. Their actions over the course of the past week show that they are desperate, and it shows that they are weak. And we will continue to push against them to ensure that they do not get away with what they`re doing in Ukraine.

O`DONNELL: What do you -- what do you envision as possible next steps at the United Nations?

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Well, what we are planning, and I announced today, is a resolution in the Security Council condemning the annexation. We expect that Russia will do what Russia always does. They will veto it. And -- but we hope to get solid support for it.


We plan to have solid support for it. And then we will move it to the General Assembly if we have to, as we did in the past.

Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, thank you very much for joining us at the end of another very stressful day. We really appreciate it.

THOMAS-GREENFIELD: Thank you very much.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

And coming up, the Iranian regime will be brought down by women. That is the prediction of 0our next guest, Iranian journalist Masih Alinejad, who left Iran in exile 13 years ago. Tonight she is one of the leaders of the protest led by women on the streets of Iran. She will join us next.



O`DONNELL: Our next guest Masih Alinejad is an Iranian journalist who has been in exile from Iran for 13 years. But she remains now, a leader of the revolt against the Iranian dictatorship that has led to widespread protests over the death of Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by the morality police because they said her hijab did not cover every hair on her head.

Iranian officials claim that the 22-year-old Mahsa Amini had a heart attack and died while in the custody of the morality police.

We have seen what is happening in Iran, thanks largely to the Twitter feed of our next guest, who has been posting videos of the protest including violent attacks on the protesters by police.

In an interview with the "New Yorker", Masih Alinejad quote, "likened the hijab requirement to the Berlin Wall. If we bring it down, the entire system will collapse.

Joining us now is Masih Alinejad, Iranian-American journalist and activists. Thank you very much for joining us tonight. Your comments in the "New Yorker" about the Berlin Wall is so striking because we watched on TV here, in this country, in 1989 when the wall collapsed.

First it was just one brick. Then it was a few more protesters. And we saw them each night more and more people on that wall. And they brought it down and two years later, the Soviet Union itself collapsed.

Is that the point where we are now in Iranian history?

MASIH ALINEJAD, IRANIAN-AMERICAN JOURNALIST: Exactly. Look Iranian women inside the country, leading a movement, leading a revolution right now alongside men. And when I see that they are burning the head scarves, it just reminds me of the time when like these women, individually protesting, but not feeling that empowered to take in a large number. For 40 years, they have been fighting, they`ve been pushing back the boundaries -- compulsory job law, morality police.

But right now, the brutal death of Mahsa Amini, is becoming a turning point for Iranian woman and it is a tipping point for the Islamic Republic.

Look, Islamic Republic has three pillars -- death to America, death to Israeli and hijab. As soon as the Islamic Republic took over, they actually force women to wear the hijab because this is a tool for Iranian regime to control the whole society through women.

So that is why they are really scared. Because they know that if women get successful to tear this wall down, then the Islamic Republic won`t exist.

O`DONNELL: Explain how this head scarf for women, and it being mandatory by law, controls more than just the physical appearance of women. What effect does it have on men?

ALINEJAD: Look, first, this is an insult to man. Like basically, the Islamic regime, Taliban, they say that if I don`t cover my hair, you cannot control yourself. And basically, they say that I deserve to be raped, to be harassed, to be sexually harassed in public, if I don`t cover myself.

You know you have me too movement here in America, but we cannot have me too movement in Iran. Because if we are being harassed or raped, the law and Iran put the blame on us. So right now, Iranian people are not just fighting against compulsory hijab. They are clearly saying that we want an end to gender apartheid regime. Why, because from the age of seven, girls won`t be allowed to go to school. Can you believe that? If they don`t cover themselves? They won`t be able to get an education.

I remember that. like I was a parliamentary journalist criticizing the politicians, the mullahs but the main thing that I was hearing from them, it was not about my political views, or my questions. They were saying that first cover yourself properly, and then ask questions.


ALINEJAD: This expression is familiar for Iranian. It means that if you don`t cover yourself properly, then you will get bitten off by morality police, bunch of police working around, telling you that a little bit of your hair is showing.

So and then, if you don`t cover yourself, you will receive lashes. You go to jail. You won`t be able to get a job. You won`t be able to exist. To live in your own country.

So you see? That is why I am saying that this is a revolution. Not only in Iran, I`m sure that women in Afghanistan would be empowered. Women around the world would be empowered because Iranian women are trying to say that the rest of the world, when the western women say, my body, my choice, they have to listen to us as well. When we say our body, our choice, in the Middle East, you have to care about this, and show solidarity on and sisterhood.

O`DONNELL: So the accusation by the morality police against Mahsa was that she was not wearing the head scarf properly, it wasn`t covering every head on her head.

She is dead now because of that intervention by those police. When we see the videos of these protesting women, not wearing the scarf at all, and waving it around, what chances are they taking with their lives in this protest?

ALINEJAD: That`s a very good question. Guns and bullets. They are facing guns and bullets right now. You know how many people got killed? I mean the numbers that the media says, it`s 70 people got killed, but I am 100 percent sure that the numbers are much more than 50 people.

Because the Iranians, they cut down the Internet. They don`t want the rest of the world to see the level of brutality. They don`t want the rest of the world understand that women in the 21st century, getting killed just because of showing their hair or chanting that we want to have a normal regime. We want to have dignity and freedom. This is the reality in Iran.

And what breaks my heart, at the same time, we see that you know, U.S. government, the western governments, they show solidarity, they condemn the crackdown, but at the same time, they try to get a deal, a nuclear deal with the same murderers, giving them billions of dollars. And that empowers the regime to kill more people.

Yes. Get back to your question, these women in the streets right now are getting killed. Every day, after 11 nights, again, Iranian women and Iranian men, shoulder to shoulder, they are in the streets right now that I`m talking to you. Because they say, enough is enough. We want an end to this regime.

O`DONNELL: Secretary of State Blinken today announced a couple of things. One, sanctioning the morality police, specifically individuals; also an attempt to help provide electronic communications within Iran, among the protesters.

A tech intervention, we really need you to monitor that for us. And please come back and tell us whether that help on electronic communication in Iran, is actually working, whether what the secretary announced today is helping.

Masih Alinejad, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Thank you for your bravery, confronting these issues. Really appreciate it.

ALINEJAD: Thank you so much for having me, and giving voice to Iranians.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Doug Mastriano, Republican nominee for governor of Pennsylvania, believes women should be charged and convicted of murder if they end a pregnancy.

David Corn will join us next.



O`DONNELL: Doug Mastriano, the Republican nominee for governor of Pennsylvania believes that women who get abortions should be charged with murder. And Mr. Mastriano believes that murder should be punished by the death penalty.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would that woman who decided to have an abortion which would be considered an illegal abortion be charged with murder?

DOUG MASTRIANO, PENNSYLVANIA REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR: Ok let`s go back to the basic question there. Is that a human being, is that a little boy or little girl, if it is, it deserves equal protection under the law.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you`re saying? Yes



O`DONNELL: Mr. Mastriano said that in 2019 but as our next guest can tell you, Republicans have been saying abortion is murder and things like that for over 50 years.

That and much more is in David Corn`s new book "American Psychosis: a Historical Investigation of How the Republican Party Went Crazy".

And joining us now is the author of that brilliant bestselling new book David Corn.

David, thank you very much for joining us tonight. And you know, first thing I did with the book is I flipped to, of course, the index because of course, that`s the way Washington types read these things.

Not looking for my name as most people in Washington do, but getting a feel for the ground that`s covered. And for the heck of it I just landed on the last name, the very last name on your list in the index right after President Zelenskyy and that is Allen Zoll. I thought -- ok, ok what`s the story with this guy? And I flip over to the one page about him, page 72, and it`s kind of everything the book is about.


O`DONNELL: It says Allen Zoll, a prominent 1930s fascist and Christian nationalist and anti-Semite, was a full-time staffer in Goldwater`s campaign headquarters. That would be 1964. Dean Burch Goldwater`s man running the Republican National Committee, had a forgiving attitude about all this, we`re not in the business of discouraging votes. They were though in the business of exploiting the anger of extremism.

Ross Walton, a Goldwater ad man, described the campaign strategy for reaching voters -- we want to just make them mad, make their stomach turn, take this latent anger and concern which now exists, build it up and subtly turn and focus it.

And David on the next page you see how they focused it. Barry Goldwater running against Lyndon Johnson for president where Lyndon Johnson is being called racist and horrible names because these people summoned up the anger through their ads and their campaign and focused it.

So that story of what we have seen Donald Trump do as you tell here has been building and getting refined for many decades in the Republican Party?

DAVID CORN, AUTHOR: Yes, I`m glad you picked up on that. I mean the book is essentially a history of the dark side of the Republican Party, and I show -- I was kind of even surprised to find this when I started doing my research. That since the early 50s the Republican Party has consistently encouraged and exploited extremism. Every major presidential candidate, every major Republican president has done it in some ways.

And when we`re talking about Doug Mastriano, I was thinking about the late 1970s, which you and I are kind of old enough to remember. There was the rise of the new right and the religious right, the moral majority and they really fueled Ronald Reagan`s campaign which, you know, he won in 1980.

But one of the things that they were running on the moral majority was, was basically demonizing and dehumanizing gay people.

Jerry Falwell, people might remember him as the leader of the moral majority, said that gay people wanted to kill other Americans. Other moral majority officials said that gay people could be killed under God`s law and Reagan`s own liaison to the religious right said that when he saw gay rights marching, he wanted to ram his car into them and kill them.

So, you know, the Republican party has been accepting and using and exploiting and biting into the tenth far-right extremist, whether they be fundamentalist, racist, people who purvey a conspiracy theory, whether it`s McCarthyism or QAnon, for 70 years now.

So Trump is not an aberration as you know. He is a continuation and certainly an escalation of what has been a crucial part of the GOP DNA.

O`DONNELL: And David, my sense of the top of the ticket in the Republican world was that they for the most part, most of the presidential nominees didn`t really believe the extremist stuff.

Donald Trump seemed to be the first one who actually believed it?

CORN: Yes. It`s interesting. In 2008, McCain certainly didn`t believe it but Sarah Palin did. In 2010, John Boehner embraced the crazy Tea Party which was saying Barack Obama was a secret socialist Muslim born in Kenya who wanted to destroy the U.S. economy so he could become a totalitarian dictator.

Now we know John Boehner, he didn`t believe this, but he used the Tea Party to become the House Speaker and he validated it by appearing at their rallies, going on Glenn Beck`s Tv show, the Gox host who was kind of the ex-officio leader of the Tea Party.

But you`re right. I don`t know what Donald Trump believes but while the others have often played footsie, they`ve done it on the side, he has put it center stage. And it kind of culminated a week ago with his full embrace of QAnon.

I mean when I started this book over a year ago, I couldn`t imagine it would be as timely and relevant as it is today, but Trump keeps doubling, quarterly whatever it down on this embrace and exploitation of far-right paranoia and extremism.

O`DONNELL: David Corn`s new important and already bestselling book is "American Psychosis: a Historical Investigation of How the Republican Party Went Crazy.

David, thank you very much for joining us tonight. This really is mandatory reading. That`s what it looks like, you`ll see it in your book stores. Get it, you need it.

David, thanks very much.

CORN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: We`re going to be right back after this with a breaking news update.



O`DONNELL: And now for the latest on Hurricane Ian as the hurricane approaches Florida. We are joined by NBC meteorologist Somara Theodore. Somara, what is the latest?

SOMARA THEODORE, NBC METEOROLOGIST: Well, I`ll tell you this, with each track that comes out it looks like the situation for our friends living south of Tampa is growing more and more dire.

Let`s go ahead and check out the latest on Ian. Still remaining a Category 3, but we are seeing it increase in size. Once we hit that 130 mile per hour threshold, we`re in category 4 territory.

So here`s the latest track. Right now the farther south it moves in between the cone of uncertainty closer to Fort Myers, we are looking at early Wednesday afternoon into Wednesday evening.

If it comes in a little farther north near Sarasota, that`s going to be Wednesday night into early Thursday morning. Regardless, we`re looking at this being a major hurricane by the time it hits land.

We then see it maintain a lot of its strength as it moves through central Florida, bringing tons of copious amounts of rain through parts of Orlando and Daytona Beach.


THEODORE: The big concern right now is that storm surge that`s going to be impacting parts of the West Coast including Sarasota. But right now the greatest resource we have is a little bit of time left Lawrence, before tomorrow.

O`DONNELL: Somara Theodore, thank you very much for that report. Really appreciate it.

And on this day, exactly 12 years ago, this show was born. I want to close tonight by thanking the brilliant staff of THE LAST WORD who`ve gotten us this far and to thank the audience for joining us these nights.

That is tonight`s LAST WORD.