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Transcript: The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, 10/18/21

Guests: Valerie Jarrett, Theodore Boutrous


Colin Powell dies at age 84. Senator Barack Obama sought the counsel of Colin Powell in December 2006, two months before Barack Obama announced his candidacy for president. Donald Trump was forced by subpoena to give an under oath deposition in a lawsuit brought by protesters who say they were attacked by Trump tower security guards in 2015.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Rachel, I don`t get it. You`re doing a live TV show from 9:00 to 10:00 p.m. I you don`t see how you would have any idea how many grand slams have been hit in Boston tonight.

Because, I he mean, how could you? You`re -- because you don`t have your brother Bill texting you the score like I do right here.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": I`m just telling me exactly when the grand slams come in. I`ll do my part. I know how this works. It`s all right.

O`DONNELL: Rachel, I was fascinated by your interview with congresswoman because -- especially because she actually did say the words, in her first response, well, I can`t say what was actually said in the meeting. Whereupon in the audience you kind of go, all right, do we go to the commercial now? Like what`s left to talk about?

But it was very revealing and very, very helpful, for me, studying every little wrinkle of this. For me, the most single important fact that we know about the meeting is that it was two hours long. That is not a meeting about nothing. That is not a, so, tell me about life in West Virginia.

That`s not what two hours is in those rooms. They got into a very serious discussion about it. That`s what two hours is about. And it`s hugely important that Joe Manchin representing the small group of moderate Democrats who haven`t gotten on board with this yet, talking to the woman who is leading the largest group of support for this legislation. I mean, that is a very important meeting.

MADDOW: Well, I thought it was also, she said, I`m not going to tell you what`s going to happen in the meeting, but does Joe Manchin want there to be a bill? I think a lot of people who have watched this, watched him just stretch out this inchoate opposition without even saying what he wants, or saying contradictory things that he wants. Saying things that he supposedly wants that seem enumerate compared to what he wants the price tag to be.

I think a lot of people have cynically assuming that he doesn`t actually want anything to pass. Yes, the Republican friendly infrastructure bill, the smaller bill, he would sign on to that, sure, because there`s lots of Republicans on. It but he does not one another. Bill and she did say, when I asked that tonight, she said no, he doesn`t want to bill, he wants something to pass, he wants something to pass that is not just the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

Now, what is exactly the bill is going to look like that he wants to pass. I think we still don`t know. But to me that itself is. News I`ve sort administering that he`s just dragging this out as long as possible so that it will be easier to kill.

O`DONNELL: And the two hours back that up. If he was going to have a meeting with Congresswoman Jayapal, just to pretend that he is kind of active in this, and his mind is open, if he was just going to pretend, he would enough pretended for two hours. You can do the pretend meeting in a lot less than two hours. This was the real thing.

I think the really fascinating wildcard here is at the very end when you asked about a meeting with Senator Sinema, and to my surprise I didn`t know she actually been in contact -- conversation with Senator Sinema. But Senator Sinema is way more unpredictable, and not only unpredictable but we do not know what`s she is currently thinking, or what she is going to say.

MADDOW: Well, also, how does the work of Senator Manchin`s big move this week according to some reports, is that he wants all the climates taken out of the bill. And Senator Sinema said that when she wanted all the climate stuff taken out of the bill, her office responded to that, and said that no, no, that`s totally wrong. She started her political career in the Green Party. She is all for the climate stuff, she does not want to cut that down.

And for the two senators who are saying no are saying no because there is to climate stop here, and the other one is saying no you have to keep the climate stuff here. Then who are new negotiating with?

Maybe Sinema and Manchin should talk to each of their, and allowed Pramila Jayapal to be there with them.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, I mean, that`s the next stage, and it`s fascinating to see these meetings, tomorrow the White House where if the president speaking to just one side of the argument.


Like each time, he is just going to talk to the -- he`s not going to put them in a room and mix them up. And I can understand that at this stage.

But at some point, those are the people who have to come to an agreement. And so, what does seem clear though is that all the positive stuff that Congresswoman Jayapal was saying, it is the important stuff. Her belief that there will be a bill, there has to be a bill. And then the very important thing, and this is when you know that there is a professional shape of compromise taking place, when you hear someone say, and we can come back and go for more.

After we passed this bill, we can come back and go for more. That`s a person who knows that they aren`t going to get everything that they want. And that they are already formulating their speech to the people who wanted those things, to how we are going to come back and go for those things, next year, or another piece of legislation.

MADDOW: Right, and the people who are trying to make the bill smaller, they are trying to make stuff cut out of the, people like Senator Manchin, he`s not saying that I want these things that aren`t in the bill, right? He is just trying to cut stuff out of it, just trying to take step out of it. He does not have that option. He cannot come back and say that we will do more nothing later. Do you know what I mean?

O`DONNELL: That`s right

MADDOW: The thing about progressives here is that the actual policy. They want legislation passed. They want government to act on these things. And Manchin is saying no don`t do any of these things.

He is not asking for things that he doesn`t want. He is just trying to make sure that the country doesn`t get stuff fixed.

And so, that`s -- I mean, I think Senator Manchin believes that he can get everything that he wants, do and everybody has to come to his way of thinking, because he does not have any incentive to move at all. Ultimately, that will come to the test. It`s just a question of how long everybody holds up.

O`DONNELL: And we will see.

Rachel, I was fascinating by your coverage of Colin Powell. We are going to do more of it here, and the impact on Barack Obama`s presidential campaign. Valerie Jarrett and David Plouffe are going to join us to talk about exactly that because it was a hugely important endorsement. And I think he made that point very clearly.

MADDOW: I would love to hear their take on. It was such a seismic moment within the campaign, it must have been transformative.

O`DONNELL: We will get to it. Thank you, Rachel

MADDOW: All right. Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Well, Colin Powell was 4 years he watched the United States of America what march off to war with a segregated army. When in World War II made that segregated army that Colin Powell would eventually grow up to command? The most powerful military force in the history of the world.

Colin Powell was ten years old when he saw a black man playing Major League Baseball for the first time. That happened with Colin Paul`s hometown in New York City, when Jackie Robinson was allowed to join the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. Colin Powell went to New York City`s public school for elementary school, and college. He graduated from to the City College of New York where he joined the Army ROTC, and began his Army career immediately after college in 1958.

He did this first tour of duty in Vietnam in 1962 and 1963, when most Americans did not know that there was a place called Vietnam, and that there was an American military presence in Vietnam. He went back to Vietnam in 1968 at the peak of the comeback, and at the peak of the death count in Vietnam, when the American involvement in Vietnam, in 1968, was being protested somewhere in this country virtually every day of that year.

Colin Powell`s return to Vietnam came after the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had publicly turned against the war saying, quote, we are taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them 8.000 miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in Southwest Georgia and East Harlem.

Because Colin Paul was born 84 years ago, he saw every first before he became a first himself. He saw the first black Major League Baseball player. He saw the first black Supreme Court justice. He saw the first black American investigator to the United Nations, the first black senator since Reconstruction. The first black president, the first black attorney general, the first black vice president.

And in the middle of all those firsts, Colin Powell became the first black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the first black national security adviser, the first black secretary of state.

In 1995, polls indicated that Colin Powell could have become the first black president of the United States. A CNN poll showed him 15 points ahead of President Clinton, 54 to 39. And Bill Clinton won his reelection a year later, in 1996, thanks more than anything else, to the fact that Colin Powell decided not to run.


COLIN POWELL, FORMER CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEF OF STAFF: I had to look deep into my own soul, standing aside from the expectations and enthusiasm of others. Ice I believe I have a bond of trust with the American people. I`d offer myself as a candidate for president requires a commitment and passion to run the race and succeed in the quest, the kind of passion and the kind of commitment that I felt every day of my 35 years as a soldier, a passion and commitment that despite my every effort, I do not yet have for political life, because such a life requires calling that, I do not get here. And for me to pretend otherwise would not be other honest to myself, would not be honest to the American people. And I would break that bond of trust.

And therefore, I cannot go forward. I will not be a candidate for president, or for any other elective office in 1996.


O`DONNELL: Having seen all of the first, and having been a first himself more than once, Colin Powell did what he could to help Barack Obama become the most important first.


TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: General Powell, actually, you gave a campaign contribution Senator McCain. You`ve met twice at least with Barack Obama. Are you prepared to make a public declaration of which of these two candidates that you`re prepared to support?

POWELL: Yes, but let me lead with it this way. I know both of these individuals very well. I`ve known John for 25 years as your setup said, and I`ve gotten mitt to know Mr. Obama quite well over the past two years.

Both of them are distinguished Americans, who are patriotic, who are dedicated to the welfare of our country. Either one of them, I think would be a good president.

When I look at all of this, and I think back to my Army career, we`ve got two individuals, either one of them could be a good president. But which is the president that we need now? Which is the individual that serves the needs of the nation for the next period of time?

And I come to the conclusion, that because of his a ability to inspire, because of the inclusive nature of his campaign, because he is reaching out all across America, because of who we is and his rhetorical abilities, we have to take that into account, as well as his substance. He has both style and substance. He has met the standard of being a successful president, being an exceptional president.

I think he is a transformational figure. He is a new generation, coming into the world, onto the world stage, on the American stage. And for that reason, I`ll be voting for Senator Barack Obama.


O`DONNELL: Colin Powell voted for the first black president twice. And he cast his last presidential vote for Joe Biden, and the first black Vice President Kamala Harris.

Bob Woodward interviewed Colin Powell for many of his books over the past 32 years. And he interviewed Colin Powell in July, knowing it would probably be their last interview, because of Colin Powell`s health.

Colin Powell said, to Bob Woodward then, I`ve got multiple myeloma cancer, and I`ve got Parkinson`s disease. But otherwise I`m fine. I haven`t lost a day of life fighting these two diseases. I`m in good shape.

In the end, it was a combination of those two diseases along with COVID-19 that ended Colin Powell`s life today. He told Bob Woodward in July, how he was getting to all of his medical appointments, with Walter Reed, and what turned out to be the last year of his life. Quote, I drive up in my Corvette, get out of the Corvette, and go into the hospital.

Colin Powell was a longtime Corvette driver. His Corvette was the very first thing that came up in the one private conversation that I had with him, in New York City. After he had just driven the Corvette up from Washington, D.C., 225 miles or so. Ten years ago, at the age of 74.

In that final interview with Bob Woodward, Colin Powell showed his charities thoughts on Afghanistan, a few weeks before the final American evacuation from Afghanistan. Colin Powell said, I thought we had to get out of there eventually.


We can`t beat these guys, well, let`s get it over with. Afghanistan, you`re never going to win. Afghans are going to win.

That`s why I don`t have any problem with us getting out of there. We can`t go from 100,000 U.S. troops down to a few hundred and think that will prevail.

Bob Woodward`s final question to Colin Powell was, quote, who is the greatest man, woman or person you have ever known? Not a leader, not necessarily, but the inner person. You know, the moral compass, the sense of propriety, the sense of the truth matters. Who is that in all of your life? Who?

It`s Alma Powell, he said immediately. She was with me the whole time. We`ve been married 58 years. And she put up with a lot.

She took care of the kids when I was, you know, running around. And she was always there for me and she tell me, that`s not a good idea. She was usually right.

Colin Powell was 84 years old.

After this break, we will be joined by Valerie Jarrett and David Plouffe.




POWELL: Today, we are a country today we are a country divided. And we have a president doing everything in this power to make it that way. And keep us that way. What a difference it would make to have a president who unites us, who restores our strength, and our soul?

I still believe that in our hearts, we are the same America that brought our parents through our shores, an America that inspires freedom around the world. That`s the America Joe Biden would lead as our next president.


O`DONNELL: That was Colin Paul at the Democratic Convention, last year.

Joining us now, Valerie Jarrett, former senior adviser for President Obama, and David Plouffe, former campaign manager and White House senior adviser to President Barack Obama. He is an MSNBC political analyst.

And, Valerie, it`s so striking to see Colin Powell last year. We now know that he was battling Parkinson`s and cancer. But he was looking as healthy as he ever did, at that convention last year.

I want to take you back to 2008 campaign, and when you and Barack Obama discovered that Colin Powell was going to endorse Senator Obama for president. When did you find that out? When did President Obama find that out? And what did it mean to him when he found that out?

VALERIE JARRETT, FORMER SENIOR ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I will tell you, Lawrence -- first of all, good evening. It`s an honor to be here this evening. It`s a tough day but I appreciate the tribute that you and so many others have done to a person that I consider great American.

It was not until I heard the first come out of his mouth that I was positive about which way that he would lead. We thought he was leaning in the direction of Barack Obama, but Colin Powell keeps his counsel pretty close. And I remember, literally holding my breath the entire time that he was speaking, and what a relief it was.

It was not as if I was just voting for, him but the reason why is he thought that Barack Obama was a leader who would be best for our country in that moment in time. It was very eloquent, he spoke from the heart, and also from the mind, and the experience that he had in public service over so many decades.

It was seismic. We were so excited, as they held a tribute at that moment in the campaign. And really, for someone of his stature, his gravitas, the senior statesman in the Republican Party to be willing to support the candidate of the other party and give him reasons. It was a good moment for the campaign, and for the country.

O`DONNELL: So, Valerie, let me stay with us for a second. So you learned at the same time we did, when he told Tom Brokaw on "Meet the Press", you learned it when he said it publicly, there was no prior tip-off, no call from Secretary Powell --

JARRETT: David shaking his head. He had his counsel very close. And I think as though he did not want to be influenced. He didn`t want to be lobbied. He wanted to speak his truth without giving any editing or scraping by any of us, and I think it made it much more authentic and powerful that way. But I will say, I was (INAUDIBLE) as wind up got going.

O`DONNELL: So, David, it`s a big moment in the campaign. You know that he is going to make the announcement, it`s going to have been your about two weeks out. You need everything to go perfectly at this point in the campaign. This is someone who is known John McCain for 25 years.

He said something that I don`t think we will hear again for a very long time before he makes his endorsement, he says that both of them are distinguished Americans, who are patriotic, or dedicated to the welfare of our country. He`s saying that before he makes the public endorsement of one.

What was it like for you when you heard those magic words from Colin Powell? And what did it then mean to your campaign calculations?

DAVID PLOUFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Lawrence, it was a pretty good Sunday morning. Just underscores what Valerie said, we didn`t know what he was going to do, Barack Obama had talked to two or three times if I recall.

But he went on "Meet the Press", and we like the rest of America we`re going to learn what his decision was. And the timing was critical. And maybe he waited because he knew. That it was after the third debate, 16 days out. Here the presidential campaign you want to close very, very strongly.

And we paid a lot of attention to that in both of our campaigns is how do we keep momentum going, all the way through the tape. And our research shows that that race broke for asleep.


People forget on the eve, of early September, that we were considered the underdog. And even in mid October, to late October, there were voters all throughout the country in the state, when you would ask them, is there was anybody that might persuade. Too many people said, Colin Powell. Because some of the voters who are yet to decide, to pull the letter for Barack Obama, did have concerns, he was a young senator, did not have the foreign policy experience.

And, again, then he showed with Colin Powell, and back then he was a Republican, he was a chairman of the joint chief of staff, for George W. Bush. He was a political earthquake when he`d endorsed Barack Obama.

And to Valerie`s point, it was not just the endorsement. It`s what he said. For me, I know it was striking for him to say either of these men`s would be good president. It was remarkable and 13 short years how foreign that sounds.

But when you talk about Barack Obama`s fate, and said that if someone asked do if he was a Muslim, he said no is a Christian, but the more important question is, why should it matter? You know, a little seven year old boy or girl in this country who`s a Muslim, should know that it`s okay for them to dream of being president. So, it was the power of why he endorsed Barack Obama.

And so for me, it there wasn`t a better way to enter the last 16 days of that presidential campaign than having the words in support of Colin Powell.

O`DONNELL: Valerie, did you have a relationship with Colin Powell? And when you`re going into service in the White House he strikes me as someone with so much experience that you might want to turn to. By the way, experience with both wise counsel, and unwise counsel, and being part of both.

JARRETT: Well, this is what I would say about Colin Powell. There isn`t a single time that we`ve reached out to him, and I did a number of times, and ask him for his counsel, his advice, his wisdom, based on this extraordinary track record of public service, where he didn`t take the call and respond.

And he put country over politics. And I think to the point of both David and I are, making I think the reason why his endorsement was so thoughtful, was because it was really about where the direction he thought the country should go. And what he saw the seeds of what he saw, in the party, and how deeply and profoundly he struggled he was by the divisiveness and the polarization.

In the same interview, he talked about the reason why Barack Obama`s fate should not be an issue in the context of a Muslim American who at the age of 14 when 9/11 happened, felt this calling and paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country. His point was that every person has that -- is as much as American as anyone else, is so why does my party, he specifically said, why do other members of my party feeding and festering this horrendous underbelly of hatred in our country.

It was a really prescient comment that he was making about the direction he saw this party going. And it turned out to be, unfortunately quite right in type of the party. But I think part of his legacy would be that he is that voice of reason, that voice of saying that you love our country, you`d probably be better than just a party politics. So you have to focus on how you bring each other together.

And that those who follow in his footsteps would reinforce that and that would be part of his legacy as well. So many young people look up to him as a leader. It is very hard to be what you can`t see. And he was invisible, strong, passionate, dedicated public servant who also happened to be African American. And to see a black man in that role, I think holds well for the future of our country. Just as having a black man as president with all of the qualities of Barack Obama, also is a way of saying that this is the direction of our country is going. It doesn`t mean that there not going to be (INAUDIBLE) and sliding backwards from time to time. But it`s men such as Colin Powell I think who appeal to our better angels, and ultimately I hope that swings out.

O`DONNELL: And, David, Colin Powell and Barack Obama had something in common as kids growing up and as they were entering the careers. There was no role model for a black man doing what they were setting out to do. In Barack Obama`s case, becoming president in United States. In Colin Powell`s case, to advance to the highest levels of the military, that had not happened certainly, all the way up to joint chiefs of staff, just his military accomplishments had never happened for a black man before.

And so they both stepped off into pioneer territory.


There`s no question. I mean I think that they both very eloquently through their lives and careers though about the shoulders that they stood on, the people who had made it possible in prior generations.

But yes, he was the first black national security adviser. He was the first black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was the most popular person in America for many, many years including probably when he endorsed Barack Obama back in 2008.

So yes, there are now in this country, you know, probably tens of millions of boys and girls, now young men and women and all around the world who now think more possible. And that`s what spoke so uniquely about America.

You know, the truth is I remember when Barack Obama was elected president and you saw some of the interviews that people around world (INAUDIBLE) about why they were excited about his election. And there was a bunch of reasons. But a lot of them would that simply couldn`t happen in our country. And those are democracies.

Same thing with Colin Powell. These are people who didn`t have pedigree. They didn`t have, you know, the gilded elevator. And so the example they think they set is going to live through the decades and generations and we`re going to see amazing leaders because of the example of both these great Americans.

O`DONNELL: Valerie Jarrett and David Plouffe, thank you both very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

JARRETT: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

JARRETT: Good to see you, David.

O`DONNELL: Thank you very much.

And John Heilemann and Jonathan Alter will join us next.



O`DONNELL: Our next guest John Heilemann described in his book "Game Change" how Senator Barack Obama sought the counsel of Colin Powell in December 2006, two months before Barack Obama announced his candidacy for president. "Obama wanted to know about Powell`s flirtation with running for the presidency in 1995. Why had he decided against it? It was pretty easy, Powell said, I`m not a politician.

For the next hour, Obama quizzed Powell about foreign policy and also about race. Did the general think the country was ready for an African-American president? I think it might have been ready when I was thinking about running, Powell told Obama. It`s definitely more ready now.

Joining us now are John Heilemann, host and executive producer of Showtime`s "The Circus" and host of the "Hell and High Water" podcast from The Recount. He is the co-author of "Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, the race of a lifetime".

And Jonathan Alter is with us, columnist for the Daily Beast, both are MSNBC political analysts.

And John Heilemann, the impact of the Colin Powell endorsement in that presidential campaign felt so important at the time. But it came at the end of a string of fascinating endorsements in which people like Ted Kennedy in a similar dynamic to the Powell endorsement were turning in effect against people they`d been with for a longer period of time, been allied with for a long period of time.

Like in Ted Kennedy`s case, Hillary Clinton turning against her to endorse Barack Obama. You saw Colin Powell turn against his 25-year friend John McCain to endorse Barack Obama.

JOHN HEILEMANN, MSNBC NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Right. And I think Lawrence, importantly because they thought in both cases that they were moving towards a brand of politics in Obama, that was more optimistic, more idealistic if not totally pure, something more noble, right.

I mean when Ted Kennedy turned against the Clintons, it was because specifically of what he`d seen Bill Clinton do in that race, do in Nevada, do in South Carolina. Ted Kennedy was disgusted by Bill Clinton`s race baiting in the race. And a large part of what pushed hum into the arms of Obama was a rejection of that kind of politics.

Similarly with Colin Powell. Powell had been watching, had been -- for two years Obama and McCain had both been lobbying Powell for the endorsement. And Powell intended to stay neutral. And then he watched McCain choose Palin, start using Bill Ayers as a weapon against Obama, suggesting that he was Powell-rally-terrorist (ph) as Palin put it.

Seeing those very belligerent (ph) rallies that we saw at the end of the campaign which were a foreshadowing of everything we saw with Trump. And that was really what turned Powell in the end away from McCain as much as towards Obama, turned way from McCain. Gave the endorsement to Obama. And as much as it uplifted Obama, it shattered McCain who really kind of had a moment, a dark moment at the end of the campaign and said, Colin Powell is against me. What have I become?

And you saw McCain in the last two weeks of that campaign sort of pull back from the edge of where he`d taken his campaign and could see kind of Powell`s like Cassandra telling McCain where the Republican Party was headed.

It`s an incredibly important moment, I think, and tells a lot about where our politics would end up over the course of the next 12, 13 years.

O`DONNELL: There`s a lot of reporting in Bob Woodward`s series of books about the Iraq war, about the Bush at War series and the Iraq war, about Colin Powell`s now famous and then famous moment at the United Nations, hour and a half at the United Nations presenting the case, the American case on what they claim they had found. What the intelligence sources claim they had found in Iraq about weapons of mass destruction.

And in the Woodward reporting and others you see, that that was a rushed presentation and that Colin Powell was pushing back a lot before on what they were giving him before he went to the United Nations. But eventually he did go there and he did make that presentation.

Let`s just listen to the key sentence of that presentation.


COLIN POWELL, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The facts and Iraq`s behavior show that Saddam Hussein and his regime are concealing their efforts to produce more weapons of mass destruction.



O`DONNELL: And Jonathan Alter, there were no weapons of mass destruction found, of course. They weren`t doing that.

Assess for us how Colin Powell handled that reality. After that was exposed that, no, that presentation at the United Nations was not accurate. He then -- eventually over time dealt with it.

JONATHAN ALTER, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I mean, you have to acknowledge that he was naive going into the Bush administration. I actually spoke to him two weeks before he was sworn in as secretary of state. And I raised Richard Pearl and his other neo-cons who`ve been in the Reagan administration and, you know, Bush won and were expected to have some real influence in the Bush administration. And he was very dismissive of them.

And he said, you know, Colin Powell was not only enormously charming, enormously capable of putting anybody he was with at ease, but he had enormous self-confidence.

And at that point he just scoffed at these neo-cons and said I`ll be able to handle them. Nobody is going to be able, to you know, jam me in this administration. He is telling me privately at the time.

And then when happened? He got jammed by the CIA. He got jammed by Vice President Cheney. Donald Rumsfeld, a black belt in bureaucratic in-fighting every time Powell would leave the country on diplomatic mission, they would screw him back in Washington.

And then comes this U.N. appearance where the CIA and it`s really a mind- blowing story, they took intelligence from an Iraqi defector code named Curve Ball who they never spoke to. They relied German intelligence to vet this guy who turned to be a fraud and then they put all of what Curve Ball told them into Powell`s presentation to the U.N.

So he felt totally betrayed and within a couple of years he went public about what had happened. And it was clearly the low moment of his entire career and something that he regretted for the rest of his life.

O`DONNELL: And John Heilemann, the -- his final -- what turns out to be his final couple of years, there he was at the Democratic convention look completely healthy and without the slightest hint of what he was struggling with, cancer and Parkinson`s.

HEILEMANN: Yes. I mean what Jonathan said is right. I mean he was enormously composed and I think in a lot of ways, you know, that kind of regal bearing that he had kind of -- he was not a man who would have shown weakness, right? I think if he had been in a state where he couldn`t look the way he did, he would not have gone in front of cameras.

But again, I come back to what Powell saw about the way our politics were evolving. I think he thought it was important to be -- to be taking the stand he took. He even -- you know, because Powell never entered electoral -- the electoral fray, because he declined back in 1995 to run against Bill Clinton, he had this kind of stature that ordinary politicians do not. And he used that stature though to political ends.

He was not someone -- no one would ever say Colin Powell is part of the never Trump movement. What Colin Powell was, was part of something else. He was part of this movement as a voice for dignity. And that was the ultimate kind of rebuke in some ways to Trump and to what the Republican Party has become.

Colin Powell is a life long Republican. He is like kind of what Republicans were made to be in an earlier generation. Yet here he was by the end not just kind of laboring over whether to back John McCain or Barack Obama but fully onboard with a traditional Democrat like Joe Biden and seeing no place for himself in the Republican Party as it stands today.

In some ways, he is the most -- maybe the most powerful never-Trump voice of all for the fact that he wasn`t so clearly associated with that movement, just associated with the notions of honor and decency and integrity that he stood for in the political sphere even as a non-combatant so to speak.

O`DONNELL: John Heilemann and Jonathan Alter, thank you both very much for joining our discussion tonight. Really appreciate it.

ALTER: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

HEILEMANN: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, defendant Trump went under oath today in a civil lawsuit. We`ll be joined by Ted Boutrous, lawyer who will probably get his own chance to question Donald Trump under oath. That`s next.



O`DONNELL: In today`s episode of Defendant Trump, this happened.


BENJAMIN DICTOR, ATTORNEY, EISNER, DICTOR AND LAMADRID: No one is above the law. Donald John Trump sat in a chair, put his right hand up and he took an oath. He took an oath to tell the truth and nothing but the truth and he answered questions for several hours with his counsel present.

And that is part of what we call due process in this country. And maybe some of us forgot that that applies to everyone in the course of the past several years, but I think today serves as a demonstration that institutions are intact and the rule of law is supreme above all else in this country.


O`DONNELL: That is Benjamin Dictor. He is the attorney who was able to be the first one to question Donald Trump under oath. The first one since Donald Trump became president, anyway.

Donald Trump was forced by subpoena to give an under oath deposition in a lawsuit brought by protesters who say they were attacked by Trump tower security guards in 2015. No details have been released about Trump`s under oath testimony today.

Donald Trump will be forced to give under oath testimony in other civil cases including the cases brought by E. Jean Carroll and the case brought by Donald Trump`s niece Mary Trump.

Joining us now, one of the lawyers who will get a chance to question Donald Trump under oath. Mary Trump`s attorney, Theodore Boutrous.


O`DONNELL: Thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it. I know you`re probably feeling, you know, not so great tonight that you didn`t get to go first but apparently there is going to be a long line of you now lining up for scheduling depositions with Donald Trump.

THEODORE BOUTROUS, MARY TRUMP`S LAWYER: It feels like a dam is breaking, Lawrence. I think, you know, President Trump is no longer President Trump, even though he keeps pretending that he is. And he is going to have to testify in these cases. And so I think it`s going to be healthy, as the plaintiff`s lawyer was saying there in that clip.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to more of what Benjamin Dictor said about the style anyway of the Trump testimony.


DICTOR: The president was exactly as you would expect him to be, and he answered questions the way that you would expect Mr. Trump to answer questions and conducted himself in a manner that you would expect Mr. Trump to conduct himself.


O`DONNELL: So I assume you were hanging on every word that he was describing there. How do you interpret that? And how do you interpret it for your own tactics when you have to question Donald Trump?

BOUTROUS: Well, it`s very intriguing and provocative to me, because we all know that while Donald Trump was in office, he was a purveyor of falsehoods and the big lie that led to the insurrection.

So for the lawyer who just deposed him to say he testified as you would expect him to, that leaves us all to draw our inferences. I don`t want to characterize it. But it sounds like he was suggesting that President Trump was just performing true to form, which would not be good for Donald Trump.

And in our cases, I represent Mary Trump in the case that Donald Trump brought against her for being a source for "The New York Times" Pulitzer prize winning stories about the fraudulent scheme, tax schemes and business schemes of Donald Trump and his siblings.

Mary Trump has a lawsuit against Donald Trump for that fraud. And Donald Trump is going to have to be deposed in those cases. And I don`t think it`s going to be a good experience for him.

O`DONNELL: Now he -- again, he`s the most litigious person who has ever held the presidency by far, and he filed a new lawsuit today. And this is a lawsuit where he is trying to block the turning over of the documents from his administration that President Biden has said do not deserve executive privilege and should be sent to the January 6 committee.

In this lawsuit, it seems possible that he could also open himself up to a deposition in that lawsuit.

BOUTROUS: It`s another just baseless lawsuit that he filed. He does not have standing. President Biden possesses executive privilege. He can waive it.

And so by injecting himself into more litigation, Donald Trump is I think going to end up causing more problems for himself. He is used to controlling the Justice Department and being able to play games. But I don`t think that`s going to happen.

I think the courts are going to lose patience with him. And so I think the best -- he is going to have to seek a preliminary injunction to stop the archivists from producing the documents on November 12. And he would have to show a likelihood of success.

He is not going to show a likelihood of success. There is no support for his position. Out here in California where I am right now, we call that a vexatious litigant. You can brand someone that.

And that`s really what`s happening here. Stall tactics meant to just gum up the works and stop the American people from knowing the truth about what happened during Donald Trump`s presidency and before that.

And it`s really, you know, an affront to the First Amendment what he is trying to do to Mary Trump and sue her for her book. And this archivist, who he is trying to squelch the federal government from finding out what happened on January 6 and leading up to one of the worst moments in American history.

It`s really -- it`s not going to go anywhere. But it may take a little while, but he is going to lose.

O`DONNELL: One of the big dangers for Donald Trump under oath obviously is perjury. Since he lies so nonstop. What are the risks for civil perjury in testimony like this?

BOUTROUS: Well, there are significant risks. And particularly where you have a high-ranking government official. Courts are not going to -- they`re sanctions, monetary sanctions.

We had a famous case involving allegations of perjury in a civil case. But here where President Trump has shown himself willing to say things that we all know are false.


BOUTROUS: I mean it`s not like it`s ambiguous. And in perjury cases, it has to be very clear that the person has knowingly testified false. But Donald Trump has made a career of that including while he was president.

So it`s dangerous. It`s treacherous. So it will be interesting to see what happens.

O`DONNELL: Ted Boutrous, we have a space reserved for you the day you question Donald Trump under oath in that deposition. Please come back. Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

BOUTROUS: I`ll be there.

O`DONNELL: Thank you very much.

We`ll be right back with tonight`s LAST WORD.


O`DONNELL: Last year at the Democratic convention when he was silently struggling with cancer and Parkinson`s disease, Colin Powell told the short version of his life story, beginning with the arrival of his parents in this country.



POWELL: 100 years ago, a young immigrant left a dirt farm in Jamaica and set out for America. Three years later, a ship pulled into New York harbor, and a young Jamaican woman gazed up at the Statue of Liberty for the first time. They became my parents. And they inspired me to finish college and join the army.

This began a journey of service that would take me from basic training to combat in Vietnam, up the ranks to serve as Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff and secretary of State.


O`DONNELL: Colin Powell who lived a life like no other, gets tonight`s LAST WORD.