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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 9/8/22

Guests: Bradley Moss, Fintan O`Toole


The DOJ appeals the Trump-picked judge`s special master ruling. Steve Bannon was in handcuffs today in New York City where he was charged as a criminal defendant in a fraud case. Steve Bannon is charged in a case where two of his associates have already pleaded guilty to wire and tax fraud with money laundering, conspiracy and fraud. Live report on the funeral plans for Queen Elizabeth, who died this afternoon at the age of 96.



We have some breaking news at this hour about the -- from the judge handling the Trump search warrant case. She has just issued a quick, one sentence order to both parties on the case to clarify what Donald Trump`s position is concerning, what she calls, the hundred documents discussed in the motion for a partial stay that the Justice Department just filed it today, just filed late this afternoon.

And here`s the judge immediately responding to that. Luckily, we have Andrew Weissmann, Neal Katyal, and Bradley Moss, right here, right now, who were scheduled to lead off our discussion, and now, we really got, you know, twice as much to discuss as we thought we did.

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST, "ALEX WAGNER TONIGHT": You are in very -- we are all in good hands with that. I will be watching you on the television, have a great show with this important and very interesting breaking news, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Alex. Thank you.

The name of the case is, appropriately, Donald J. Trump versus United States of America. And that, really, is what this is. But, in that case today, the United States of America turned the tables by filing a motion, asking, but really demanding, that the judge in the case reverse her recent ruling.

And so, for at least the next week or so or more, this case has become the United States of America versus Judge Aileen Mercedes Cannon who stands accused in effect in the Justice Department filing today of committing judicial malpractice in her last ruling in the case in which she issued an order requiring a so-called special master to be named later, to review all of the evidence in the case, including classified documents, to decide which of those documents should just be returned to Donald Trump.

The documents were all seized by the FBI executing a search warrant at Donald Trump`s Florida club which he has abandoned for the summer season. But before leaving there, he left 100 classified documents there while he was gone, along with 11,000 pages of government documents that belong to the United States of America, not Donald Trump.

In court proceedings, it is common for all deadlines to be imposed on the lawyers by the judge in the case but today, Justice Department lawyers imposed a deadline on the judge in this case. Now, you can watch courtroom proceedings for a very long time and not see lawyers tell a judge if you don`t do what we are telling you to do within a week, we are going over your head and that`s exactly what the Justice Department did today in this extraordinarily powerful filing in federal court in Florida, after first filing a one sentence statement saying the Justice Department will appeal the judge`s order of a special master in the case, the Justice Department immediately followed that up with a demand that Judge Cannon stop her own order right now.

The Justice Department asked for a partial stay of the judge`s order pending the appeal, a stay simply means a pause until the appeal is complete. The Justice Department`s motion says the government seeks a stay to the extent the order won, and joins the further review and use for criminal investigative purposes of records bearing classification markings that were recovered pursuant to a court authorized search warrant and two, requires the government to disclose those classified records to a special master for review.

If the court does not grant a stay by Thursday, September 15th, the government intends to seek relief from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. So the Justice Department is saying that they have no problem with the part of the judge`s order that requires a special master to examine documents possibly privileged by the attorney-client privilege. But the Justice Department is saying there is absolutely no reason for a special master to ever look at any of the classified records that were seized by that search warrant.

The Justice Department is also saying that the judge`s order to the FBI to stop its criminal investigation concerning those records is improper and a danger to the United States of America.


The judge`s order -- the judge`s order allowed what she called the intelligence community without quite knowing what the intelligence community is to conduct its own review of the documents but at the same time, the judge ordered the FBI to stop any of their investigation involving the documents seized by the search warrant.

The Justice Department conducted a kindergarten class on national security in its motions today for the judge explaining to the judge, quote, the intelligence community`s classification review and national security risk assessment are inextricably linked with the criminal investigation. The filing points out that the FBI is part of the intelligence community which is clearly something that Judge Cannon did not know until today.

The Justice Department taught the judge, quote, the connection between the national security and criminal investigative aspects of this matter are grounded in the dual mission of the FBI, that is the FBI itself is part of the United States intelligence community and since the attacks the FBI has integrated its intelligence and law enforcement functions when it exercises its national security mission.

That elementary education on the FBI`s role in national security was explained to the judge in a statement by Alan Kohler Jr. who is the assistant director of counter -- the counterintelligence division of the FBI.

Alan Kohler explained to the judge that her order makes it impossible for him to do his job. He said: I am also responsible for the protection of classified national security information and processes within the division including information in the division possession as a result of investigative efforts. I am responsible for the protection of classified national security and law enforcement sensitive information.

The FBI is the only in intelligence community element with a full suite of authorities and tools to investigate and recover any improperly retained and stored classified information in the United States. The FBI is critical to the whole of government effort to address any national security risks at issue in this case.

The same senior department of justice and FBI officials such as myself are ultimately responsible for supervising the criminal investigation and for ensuring that the FBI is coordinating appropriately with the rest of the intelligence community on its classification review and assessment.

The FBI`s assistant director the counterintelligence division told the judge: Irreparable harm to the national security would result from enjoining the further review and use of records bearing classification markings for criminal investigative purposes.

There`s the FBI`s top expert on investigations involving classified material telling the judge that she is right now tonight doing irreparable harm to national security because she has already stopped not just the FBI criminal investigation, but she has in effect stopped the intelligence community`s review because the intelligence community does not know how to do the review without the FBI and so they stopped doing the review.

The Justice Department`s lawyers in their motion made an absolutely irrefutable point over and over again. Quote, there is no justification for extending the injunction and special master review to the classified records.

The United States government owns those records. The only reason for a special master to examine documents is to consider which documents should simply be handed back to the person who was searched because they don`t belong in the investigation.


But, the judge, in this case, knows that "The Washington Post" has reported this week that at least one of the top secret documents, seized by the FBI with their search warrant was about the nuclear capability of another country -- another country`s nuclear secrets. The judge knows that Donald Trump cook the classified information home where it was never in anything resembling a secure location. It may have been in his desk drawer where the FBI did find classified information.

And, remember, after taking that information home to his winter home when he left the presidency in 2021, he left that home, for the entire spring and summer, and went north to a club in New Jersey where he actually is this summer, too. Donald Trump taking nuclear secrets home after his presidency is bad enough and criminal enough. Donald Trump leaving them in that home after he leaves that home for the season two years in a row and for months on end, two years in a row, has no idea what`s happening to those documents in those rooms in Florida unlocked rooms. That is even crazier and this judge knows that Donald Trump did that.

And today, the Justice Department told this judge -- it`s on you. The risk to this country for all of that is now on you. Every delay in this investigation which is an investigation of possible crimes but also an investigation to protect the United States of America, every delay from now on is on this judge. That`s what the Justice Department said today.

The Justice Department told the judge today that what she has done already, quote, could preclude the government from taking necessary remedial steps in light of that review, risking irreparable harm to our national security and intelligence interests. The government will also suffer irreparable harm if it cannot review and use the classified materials as part of its criminal investigation, and if it is forced to disclose classified materials outside the executive branch in circumstances where there would be no valid purpose served by such disclosure.

They mean there the disclosure of classified records to the so-called special master who the judge wants in the case, and who has absolutely no authority over classified records. No special master can possibly have any authority over classified material and could never ever under any circumstances take a classified document out of the pile and hand it back to Donald Trump.

This is the story of a Trump-appointed judge doing everything she possibly can to help Donald Trump and advance her judicial career in the Republican world. And as she was told by the Justice Department today by doing that, she has done everything she possibly can in this case to harm the United States of America.

Leading off our discussion tonight, Andrew Weissmann, former FBI general counsel and former chief of the criminal division in the Eastern District of New York. He`s professor of practice at NYU Law School.

Also with us, Neal Katyal, former acting U.S. solicitor general. They are both MSNBC legal analysts.

And Bradley Moss is with us. He is a national security attorney with expertise in these matters.

And, Andrew Weissmann, let me begin with you and let me begin with the latest element of this story which is this a very short order issued by the judge tonight, obviously after reading this filing by the Justice Department which must have been shaking in her hands as she was reading it. She is now saying she`s instructing the parties for tomorrow, they are instructed to consider defendant`s position as to the approximately 100 documents discussed in the motion for a partial stay. So she`s asking both parties to consider what the Justice Department said about those hundred classified documents in their filing today.

How do you read what the just -- what the judge is saying tonight?

ANDREW WEISSMANN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: I read that as a white flag going up. She as you correctly pointed out must have read the papers and realized that the Department of Justice means business. They are attacking -- at the very least, they will attack on appeal the weakest part of her decision. They laid out why legally over and over again it is wrong.

They point out that even if she`s trying to, in the vernacular, suck up to Justice Kavanaugh, why that does not work legally in a whole variety of ways and they made it very clear that they have every intention of appealing. It`s a very elegant but extremely strong brief as you said pointing out a deadline for the court. That`s very unusual and it`s because of the serious harm that you`ve laid out.

And so I think what she did reading that is trying to figure out can she take this off ramp, could the parties just agree to this? Does she have to really write a decision that says I made a mistake, can`t she just sort of see if the parties will agree, and that which doesn`t risk looking even worse on a bike being reversed on appeal.

I also think that just to one thing I would slightly amend in your opening, just it`s not that the intelligence community doesn`t know how to do this without the FBI, it`s that it absolutely needs the FBI. And one of the things that was pointed out to the judge is the CIA and the NSA do not operate domestically. They operate overseas.

If you need to have grand jury subpoenas and search warrants, it is by law for very good reasons that it`s the FBI that needs to do that. So that`s goes to your point that in effect what she has done is said, I`m going to say that you can do a national security review but in fact they can`t because you really need those domestic authorities to do that.

O`DONNELL: So, Neal Katyal, she -- the -- this -- the hundred documents are the hundred classified documents that the Justice Department was stressing today should be pulled out of any consideration by a special master. It seems like she`s saying to the Trump lawyers, what`s your position on those documents? One of their positions could be, they`re not classified. He waved the magic wand be on the last day or, you know, at some point in January before he left office he waved the magic wand, they`re not classified. That could be one of the things they say.

What else might they say about those hundred documents and is -- would this be the moment at which those lawyers have nothing else to say except, that`s right, the special master should not be handling the classified documents?

NEAL KATYAL, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: I agree with you, Lawrence. This is a way to flesh out Trump`s own position. And first of all, let me just say, I apologize if I look at -- but for looking like such a mess. I got off a plane that was very late about 11 minutes ago, so that`s why I look this way.

But I think the department`s filing to Judge Cannon today, it`s basically one crystal clear message. Either you reverse some of the damage that you`ve done to our national security or the court of appeals is going to do it for you. And after that train wreck of a decision that the judge wrote on Monday, the Justice Department here is giving her the opportunity to pick up a few of the pieces.

And you`re absolutely right one of the things that it`s doing by saying, look, we want just these hundred classified documents is forcing Trump`s hand. Are you going to say now in your filing later you know in a few days that this is all declassified by a standing order that you, you know, gave, which is what you`ve been sending your minions out to say on the TV? Or are you going to say this is planted by the FBI? Who knows?

You know, there have been so many shifting stories for this. But now, he`s got to make a solemn filing and put up or shut up. Does he think this information is classified or not. We saw the Justice Department`s photo in its filing of all these highly classified documents. Now we know it contains even nuclear information.

So all of this is a way to do that. But I also want to say something else, I think this Justice Department filing today is brilliant. It`s among the best briefs I`ve ever written -- read. Just as a matter of craft, as writing, as strategy, you know, what they`re saying is, here, judge, there`s a chance for you to do the right thing. We`re not saying we won`t appeal, but we can narrow the scope of disagreement to the most severe disagreement.

And on Monday, I said, you know, this was a bazooka when you need a scalpel. That there was a crazy ruling because there were only a tiny number of privileged documents and here she wants to stop the entire criminal investigation. And what the Justice Department did today so brilliantly was actually the reverse of my point.

They said, look, all we need is actually a handful of documents, the 100 or so classified documents. That`s the tar -- that`s really the subject of the criminal investigation. They`re obviously not Donald Trump`s to own.


They`re obviously not attorney client privilege. There`s no attorney we`re you know working with those classified documents with you, Donald Trump. So give us those documents and we`ll deal with the rest later.

Brilliant move, very -- you know, it`s virtually impossible for this judge to do anything except accept what the department said here.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, and they made it clear in their filing that those documents are what the criminal investigation is about. They are the heart and soul of the criminal investigation in terms of evidence.

Bradley Moss, let me put you in the position. You`ve been at the defense table in complex cases like this.

Let me put you at the Trump defense table for a moment. Do they have a move here? When the judge said to them, we want to hear from you tomorrow, what`s your position on those hundred classified documents, what do the Trump lawyers say?

BRADLEY MOSS, NATIONAL SECURITY ATTORNEY: Yes, so, if I`m the Trump team tonight, I`m figuring out, one, did my boss actually or -- sorry, did my client actually have any proof of this declassification that he talks about that Neal was mentioning? Assuming we don`t have anything to push back on that, I`m throwing out the idea that a special master can have the authority that the courts can have the authority to overrule the executive branch.

There are some cases where the judges have concluded under, you know, Article 3 authority that they can render a contrary to termination. It`d be very controversial but everything we`ve seen with this case has been very controversial. All the moves that have been made have been ones that most of us as lawyers wouldn`t try. That`s about all I`d have. It`d be a Hail Mary pass.

But if they want to try to somehow bring the classified records into this special master review and to respond to this very well-written DOJ filing tonight, that`s what I`ve got.

O`DONNELL: Bradley, let me give you one more defense counsel question. So we also released today, the Justice Department also released this filing saying, we are happy to release a document about the filtering that we`ve already done for attorney-client documents, we`re happy to make that filing public. Trump`s lawyers say, no, we oppose making that public. What`s that about?

MOSS: Yeah, what a shock. The Justice Department is calling the Trump team`s bluff here. They`ve been talking, you know, all this stuff in the media about how they want transparency and the government`s trying to keep everything quiet and secret and that this the whole situation demands transparency, and the public interest requires that this information come out.

Sure enough, when it, you know, push comes to shove in court, they don`t want this information out. One, because it undermines their public argument about what these records are, and specifically the idea that we`re talking about a tiny fraction of records most likely that might be subject to attorney-client privilege.

That`s not what they want. They have a media narrative they want to push right now. The last thing they want is actual court documents and filings contradicting that narrative.

O`DONNELL: Neal, we spent a couple of days anticipating the question of, should the Justice Department appeal? It`s a tactical choice. There`s so many elements to the choice including what does it mean in terms of delay.

What do you make about the way they`ve entered what seems to be a kind of surgical precision on this appeal? It doesn`t -- they haven`t yet filed the appeal so we don`t know exactly what they`re going to appeal but it appears that they`re going to do a fairly narrow appeal on the -- on this case.

KATYALK: So, tactically brilliant. There`s two documents they file today. One is a notice of an appeal and they can appeal the whole shebang, Lawrence, not just a little part of it. And second is this filing that says, with respect to these hundred documents or so that are classified, we need those now. We need to be able to have unfettered access and use of those. I think what that does is it takes the most important piece of the case, the part that`s the heart and soul the criminal investigation and puts it on an extremely fast track where the judge has got to decide in basically a week whether to give the department access.

You know, that could be appealed and the like, but I see that appeal -- you know, I think as long as the judge does the right thing, I see an appeal by Trump going nowhere. It can be summarily denied by the Court of Appeals and if she tried -- they try to go to the U.S. Supreme Court than by the U.S. Supreme Court as well.

At the same time, there`s a whole bunch of other issues. I mean, this is a nutso ruling on special masters more generally and on 10 other things. And so I do think the department may still file that broader appeal, but what they`re trying to do is move quickly on this on this narrow thing so that they can make a decision about in criminally indicting Donald Trump in short order and protect our national security by doing the assessment that Andrew I was pointing to before.

O`DONNELL: Neal Katyal, thank you very much from rushing from plane to camera to join us with your federal appeals court expertise.


Bradley Moss, thank you very much for joining us, starting off our discussion.

Andrew Weissmann, please stay with for the segment about Steve Bannon in handcuffs today in New York. We`re going to need to analyze the charges of fraud and conspiracy brought against Steve Bannon today by New York prosecutors. That is next.

Later in the hour, we get a live report from London after the death of Queen Elizabeth at age 96.



O`DONNELL: Steve Bannon was in handcuffs today in New York City where he was charged as a criminal defendant in a fraud case. Steve Bannon is charged in a case where two of his associates have already pleaded guilty to wire and tax fraud with money laundering, conspiracy and fraud in a fundraising fraud that convinced Trump supporters to give them money to build a wall on our southern border instead Bannon and his associates are charged with simply stealing the money for themselves.

The "New York Times" reports if Bannon is convicted, and a judge imposes the maximum sentence on the most serious charge, he could face between 5 and 15 years in prison. Protesters, shouted at Steve Bannon when he surrendered to prosecutors in a city where he is not popular.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stop hurting America you two-bit conman (INAUDIBLE) grifter. Stop hurting America. Stop hurting America, you greasy grifter. Stop hurting America. Stop hurting America, you two-bit con man.


Donald Trump pardoned Bannon after he was indicted on federal charges for the same activity in 2020. But that pardon does not prevent the state of New York from charging Steve Bannon for violating New York laws.


ALVIN BRAGG, MANHATTAN DISTRICT ATTORNEY: The simple truth that it is a crime to profit off the backs of donors by making false pretenses. And so we are here to say today in one voice that in Manhattan and in New York, you will be held accountable for defrauding donors.


Joining us now Tim O`Brien, senior executive editor for Bloomberg Opinion and author of "Trump Nation". He`s an MSNBC political analyst. And still with us is Andrew Weissmann.

Andrew, what is your legal assessment of this case? The feds had this same case. They indicted Bannon, Trump pardoned before they could get anywhere with the case. That leaves it open for the state and here we are.

ANDREW WEISSMANN, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: You know, Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney got off to a very rocky start for a number of reasons. But you know, what we`ve seen in the last few weeks with the Weisselberg plea, the longtime chief financial officer, the upcoming trial of two Trump organizations, and now the charge of Steve Bannon is there is a lot going on in Manhattan.

In looking at the indictment that was filed, it is a rock crusher. It lays out specifically, how the fraud worked. I mean this is sort of a garden- variety fraud. It`s sort of a perfect case for Manhattan district attorney prosecutors where they go and lay out exactly what Steve Bannon and his conspirators said to the public that all of the money that was raised, all of it, 100 percent, would go to building the wall.

And instead, there are financial records and, explicit texts with Steve Bannon, talking about how they`re going to funnel money, the proceeds, to various people, including the president who repeatedly was saying, the president of the organization, saying that he wasn`t going to profit at all.

So it is really hard to see any defense here. And it`s worth pointing out that Steve Bannon, if convicted here is going to face time here, as well as for his conviction in D.C. and those can run consecutively, not concurrently.

So he is -- you know, I wouldn`t want to be him or his lawyer in this case.

O`DONNELL: Tim O`Brien, New York prosecutors are familiar with fraud in Trump world. They forced Donald Trump to pay $25 million to his victims at the fraudulent Trump University. And here they are going -- and of course, they have got two people who were in this operation with Steve Bannon, who have already pleaded guilty. They are presumably going to be witnesses in the case against him.

TIM O`BRIEN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, Lawrence, we have seen time and time again that the Trump universe is populated by grifters. There is interesting parallels all of these with Trump`s own behavior and the behavior of the people who surround him or are in his orbit.

And you know, Trump spent years spouting sort of cartoonish theories about how the business world works and his own track record as a businessman. He ran for office spouting pseudo-historical rants about the state of affairs in America and what he would do as president. And used those lines to build relationships of trust with his voters and with the people who supported him.

And discovered during his presidency that he could then lift small dollar donations out of their wallets, into PACs, and it would appear not used those funds for what he told he was going to do.


O`BRIEN: That directly parallels what Steve Bannon did here. Steve Bannon is a crackpot who has spent years spouting pseudo-historical theories about how the world works in order to make people who support him and his movement believe that he was in the political vanguard. And then he turned around and used small dollar donations to scam people who believe the funds were being used presumably to build a wall to the tune of $15 million.

And what`s happening I think we now know that the state of Trump`s Save America PAC is being investigated for a very similar pattern of behavior that you are seeing in Bannon`s case. And the long arm of the law is now reaching around, I think, to hold them accountable publicly.

And I think, as Andrew said, these are rock crusher charges. I don`t see any wiggle room where they get out of this. And there are a lot of people in Trumplandia who behave this way.

O`DONNELL: Andrew a quick question about sentencing before we go. Let`s say Bannon gets a year for his criminal contempt of Congress. That`s eight months maybe with good behavior, something like that. And then let`s say he gets a few years. Let`s say he gets three or five years in the state of New York. Can those be served concurrently, or do they have to just be served separately? You have to do your federal time, then you have to do your state time?

WEISSMANN: So, the second judge, the one who sentences second which presumably will be a state court judge, will have the discretion to decide whether to do that concurrently, or to do it consecutively. Because the two crimes are so different there is a strong argument that they should be consecutive.

The other thing that I think could be important to Steve Bannon is where he serves that time. So the D.C. case, he will serve that time federally. But when that that runs out, let`s say it`s eight months that he does, he will be going to Rikers which is the local prison here in New York.

That is very tough time. You know, eight months in Rikers is a steep time for anyone. And so, I think it would likely to be consecutive and there will be two separate prisons involved.

O`DONNELL: Andrew Weissmann, Tim O`Brien -- thank you both very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

O`BRIEN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

It is after 3:00 a.m. in London. We will get a live report on the funeral plans for Queen Elizabeth, who died this afternoon at the age of 96. That`s next.



O`DONNELL: In Washington at the British embassy this evening, President Biden delivered flowers and signed a condolence book for Queen Elizabeth. Later, in a speech to the Democratic National Committee this evening, President Biden said this.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to say a few words about Queen Elizabeth. I just stopped by the British embassy to sign a condolence book in her honor. I had the opportunity to meet her before she passed and she`s an incredibly gracious and decent woman.

The thoughts and prayers of the American people are with the people of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth in their grief.


O`DONNELL: And joining us now from London is NBC News foreign correspondent Matt Bradley.

Matt, what can we expect to see over -- tomorrow and over the weekend in London?

MATT BRADLEY, NBC NEWS FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Lawrence, it`s not just tomorrow and over the weekend. It`s 10 days and it`s going to be going from the north of the country from Scotland in Balmoral all the way to where I am here in London.

And you know, this is what the royal family, what the monarchy does best. Kind of papering over this moment of national mourning with pomp and circumstance. All of it steeped in symbolism and designed not just as a funeral but also to show a sense of continuity in leadership.

And that`s why King Charles III, newly minted King Charles III, will be playing a major role in all of this not just as the son of a woman who died but as the new king. And we can expect all of this to start tomorrow morning. That`s when there`s going to be a gun salute. And King Charles and his wife, the queen consort, will be returning from Balmoral in Scotland, where they have been with the Queen along with other senior members of the royal family. They`ll be returning to here in London.

And on Saturday, day after tomorrow, or tomorrow as it is here in London, they will be addressing the -- excuse -- the accession council. This is, essentially, a council that will affirm officially that King Charles III is indeed the king.

He will announce his name, which we already know. It`s King Charles III. This is not his coronation. This could come as much as a year from now or several months from now. That is a huge spectacle, and it`s not going to be part of the next ten days of mourning.

But we are going to be then watching as the Queen`s body, as her coffin moves from Balmoral to Edinburgh, to Holy Rood. That`s sort of the seat of the Scottish devolved parliament. But, her coffin won`t make it to here in London until next Wednesday morning.

And that`s when we will see her lying in state in the Houses of Parliament right behind me. Then after that we will finally see world leaders who will come and the public will be allowed to proceed past her coffin and to visit her again in the Houses of Parliament.


BRADLEY: Her funeral will be held across the street also behind me in Westminster Abbey. And that is right before they move her body to Windsor Castle where she`ll be interred alongside her husband, Lawrence.

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

Fintan O`Toole will join us next.



O`DONNELL: In Fintan O`Toole`s latest article for the "Irish Times", he wrote this about Queen Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor.

"She outlasted not just government after government, not just the loss of the empire she was born into, not just the disappearance of a culture of deference, but the vanishing of the one thing that seemed indispensable to monarchy, enchantment.

Elizabeth ceased to enjoy the glamor of enchantment, but she survived into an age when being famous not for what you did but just for being famous was all the rage. Fame made her invulnerable to the demise of everything she was supposed to symbolize -- the continuity of the empire, the serenity of the state, the sacredness of her United Kingdom.

So long as she could extract so much credit from her mere survival, the anachronistic institution she embodied could survive with her."

And joining us now is Fintan O`Toole, columnist for the "Irish Times", and the New York Review of Books. He is the author of "We Don`t Know Ourselves; A Personal History of Modern Ireland".

You`ve written to the question that I marvel that which is the 20th century was enough of a marvel and in the 21st century even more. That a kingdom, a monarchy like this survives after France`s monarchy sort of surrendered, at what seemed like the right moment, maybe a bit late, but ok.

And then a bunch of monarchies got wiped out after World War I and because of World War I. And this one stayed standing for reasons that remain mysterious to me. And I`m just wondering if your distance across the Irish Sea gives you that perspective on how it does that.

FINTAN O`TOOLE, "IRISH TIMES": I think we`re close enough maybe to get a feel for it, you know, very intimately, but also maybe to have that little bit of distance where you can marvel, as you say, at this, you know.

Because we got rid of the monarchy in Ireland, and I think most of us are very glad we did so. But you can still sort of see how the one argument for monarchy is continuity. And by God, she did that well just by living so long.

O`DONNELL: Ok. But can I ask what is this a continuity of? Ok, so we change presidents every four years or eight years. We don`t have a human -- an individual continuity.

She is not the government. She is just this thing that has nothing -- she had no effect on Brexit, no effect on anything that occurred while she was there. What is the continuity?

O`TOOLE: It`s a continuity of a pretense really that you still have this very intimate connection with the past. And so paradoxically, the more things have changed, the more there`s this is the desire to hold on to it.

Particularly, if you`ve changed in a way which has to do with losing power, losing precedents.


O`TOOLE: So this is what is unique about Britain. I mean there`s no other country on earth which is like this, which was, when she was born, Britain ruled 600 million people. You know, her first prime minister was Winston Churchill. Her last prime minister is Liz Truss. Liz Truss.

I thought it would be disparaging of Liz Truss but she`s no Winston Churchill. You know, you can see it even embodied in that this sense of decline. And if you`re living through that decline, if you`ve lost an empire, if you go through all this confusion which leads to Brexit, if you de-industrialize, if you`ve had a lot a very, very bitter social tension, if you have even Scotland and Wales talking about breaking away, so the reality is actually this thing falling apart.

And paradoxically, that makes it all the more powerful is the same person is still there. She just shows up. She just exists, in some way. You have this illusion that you can still think, well, we are still the same, nothing much has changed.

O`DONNELL: Well and that we have the greatest something and what they have is the greatest monarchy, well, ok, but no other adult country has one.

O`TOOLE: No. And there are very good reasons, you know. Like, the hereditary principle, in a way, it sort of came up trumps with her in that she was a person with a sense of seriousness of duty, she was very good at the job, could just as easily be her son, Andrew, who hangs around very dodgy people. Or it could`ve led into the sort of messiness going on with her grandsons. You know, the (INAUDIBLE) doesn`t work.


O`DONNELL: The polls show that about 60 percent of British people are in favor of the monarchy. We will not, over the next ten days, be hearing from the millions who don`t. People -- you know, this is not the moment for that. This is the time to let this passing occur.


O`DONNELL: But people who don`t support the monarchy, is it as odd to them as it is to people like me looking at it from this distance?

O`TOOLE: Oh I think it`s very much worse in a way, right. Because for you and I, it`s still a spectacle. Remember for them, they are subjects, you know. That`s what`s written on their passports, you know. They are subjects of the monarchy.

And people say, that doesn`t matter, it`s only a symbol. But it`s a pretty important symbol. I`m a citizen of a republic. You are a citizen of a republic. Being a citizen means that we can look at one another in the eye and say I`m as good as you are. We`re really close. It doesn`t matter what our heredity is.

So people say, it`s only a spectacle, it`s symbolic. But what is it symbolic of? It`s symbolic of actually a very toxic idea, which is that some people are born to rule and some people are born to be subjects.

And I think we will see over a period of kind of rallying around, but I don`t think King Charles III is going to be ruling over a happy nation.

O`DONNELL: We shall see. Fintan O`Toole, thank you very much for joining us in the studio for the first time. We appreciate it. We will be right back.



O`DONNELL: Fintan O`Toole gets tonight`s LAST WORD.