First primetime interview with authors of the new book "Peril", Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.
LAWRENCE O'DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Thank you, Rachel. And thank you for letting everyone know that's happening.
And, Rachel, you know, on Saturdays, I'm pretty much on a news strike. I don't consume any news at all, so it was not until 9:00 p.m. tonight that I learned from you what actually happened at the Capitol on Saturday. I had no idea. I consumed none of it. What that rally, what that thing that was supposed to be a rally, can't use the word "rally" anymore, what that thing that was supposed to be a rally turned out to be. Acres of free parking for everyone who showed up. Amazing.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": Yeah, when you think that every officer in the U.S. capitol police and every officer in the metropolitan police department of Washington, D.C., were on duty because of that, plus all of the fencing, and it was like one dude and his dog and a woman doing yoga.
It was -- I mean, better to be over-prepared than underprepared given the last time that Trump people came to Washington in the name of this stolen (ph) election or whatever, but my god, it was quite a dud.
O'DONNELL: And let's hope that it's a positive indicator about where this whole election fraud thing really stands, that that's how much public support it could muster on a Saturday.
MADDOW: Yeah, yeah, I feel like all the other signs were bad, but that sign was good.
O'DONNELL: Yeah, we will see. Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thank you, Lawrence.
O'DONNELL: Thank you.
Well, Bob Woodward's trilogy on the Trump White House is now complete. First came "Fear," then came "Rage," and now "Peril", co-authored by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.
A Bob Woodward book is like a large Christmas tree with dozens and dozens and dozens of unique ornaments that you've never seen before, news media headlines immediately focused on the biggest and most important ornaments on that tree, and we all eagerly read those first news reports about a Bob Woodward book. But the reason to read the book, the reason to order this book tonight or get it at your bookstore tomorrow is to see how the whole story fits together and see all of those ornaments on the tree that the news media never gets to because there are just too many of them.
The little jewels that aren't quite so newsworthy like Donald Trump's views on body fat. On page 28, Donald Trump tells his overweight Attorney General William Barr this about his weight. You hold it well, Bill. You carry it well. Be careful because if you lose too much weight, your skin is going to start becoming saggy.
And on page 125 after Kellyanne Conway gets COVID-19, Donald Trump tells her, quote, you have 0 percent body fat, honey. Honey you have -- if you have 0 percent body fat, you're fine.
And then there is the gem of Mitch McConnell gleefully calling Donald Trump a moron to his colleague in the Republican Senate cloakroom. On page 26, the book has Mitch McConnell happily enjoying the 2017 story about Donald Trump's first secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, calling Donald Trump a moron after Trump left a meeting at the Pentagon.
Page 127, Do you know why Tillerson was able to say he didn't call the president a moron, McConnell would dryly ask colleagues in his Kentucky drawl? Because he called him an F-ing moron.
MSNBC's Stephanie Ruhle correctly reported it at F-ing moron at the time the story broke in 2017. The peril described in the Woodward and Costa book is actually a range of perils from Donald Trump ordering the launch, possibly ordering the launch of nuclear missiles, to Donald Trump nuking the Constitution. Those were the perils that we were facing.
There has been much news coverage of the precautions the chairman of the joint chief of staffs, General Mark Milley took to prevent Donald Trump from being able to launch a nuclear attack on China as part of a coup attempt for Donald Trump to hold onto the presidency after he lost the election in November. We will discuss that in a moment with Bob Woodward and Robert Costa.
The book doesn't tell us what might have gone through Donald Trump's mind about launching a nuclear attack or possibly launching a nuclear attack.
But it is filled with details about what went through Donald Trump's mind and what came out of his mouth about his attack on the Constitution. For Donald Trump, after he lost the election, holding onto the presidency was all up to his vice president, Mike Pence. Donald Trump wanted Mike Pence on January 6th to simply not count the electoral votes from some states won by Joe Biden so that Donald Trump would then end up with the largest number of electoral votes and be declared the winner of the presidency or so that the Electoral College could fail to choose a president, which will then leave that decision up to the House of Representatives, and since each state in the House only gets one vote, 26 majority states in the House of representatives would then have given the presidency to Donald Trump.
On January 5th, the night before the Electoral College votes were to be counted in Congress, Donald Trump told Mike Pence that he could and should reject Biden electors.
Page 228, "That is all I want you to do, Mike," Trump said. "Let the House decide the election. What do you think, Mike?" Trump asked.
Pence returned to his mantra. He did not have the authority to do anything other than count the Electoral Votes. "Well, what if these people say you do?" Trump asked, gesturing beyond the White House to the crowds outside, raucous cheering and blasting bull horns could be heard through the Oval Office windows. "If these people say you have the power, wouldn't you want to?" Trump asked.
"I wouldn't want any one person to have that authority," Pence said. "But wouldn't it almost be cool to have that power?" Trump asked.
"No," Pence said. "Look, I've read this and I don't see a way to do it. We've exhausted every option. I've done everything I could and then some to find a way around this. It's simply not possible. My interpretation is no."
"I've met with all of these people," Pence said. They're all on the same page. I personally believe that these are the limits to what I can do. So if you have a strategy for the 6th, it really shouldn't involve me because I'm just here to open the envelopes. You should be talking to the House and Senate. Your team should be talking to them about what kind of evidence they're going to present."
"No, no, no," Trump shouted. "You don't understand, Mike, you can do this. I don't want to be your friend anymore if you don't do this."
"You're not going to be sworn in on the 20th. There is not a scenario in which you can be sworn in on the 20th," Pence said.
"We need to figure out how to deal with it, how we want to handle it, how we want to talk about it."
Trump's voice grew louder. "You are weak. You lack courage. You betrayed us. I made you. You were nothing," Trump said. "Your career is over if you do this." Pence did not budge.
A Pence adviser, Tom Rose, saw Pence leave the Oval Office, one of Pence's closest friends, Rose later told others Pence looked chalk white like someone who had received terrible news at a hospital.
Once Pence left, Trump opened a door near the resolute desk. A rush of cold air blasted the room. Trump left the door open. The muffled sound track of excited screams and yells from his supporters filling the room, the noise outside grew louder, almost like a party. "Isn't that great?" Trump exclaimed. "Tomorrow is going to be a big day."
Leading off our discussion tonight, Bob Woodward, two-time Pulitzer Prize winning author and associate editor of "The Washington Post", where he has worked since 1971, and Robert Costa, national political reporter for "The Washington Post." They are the co-authors of the new already best seller "Peril."
Bob Woodward, let me begin with you, and that scene just described, that's in your book, on January 5th -- this is the night before what became an attack on the Capitol -- and there's the president of the United States believing and insisting to his vice president that he can change the outcome of the presidential election the next day.
Mike Pence saying, I've tried, in effect. I've hoped that I could find a way to do that, and I can't find it. And that's how close we came to a different Electoral College count in the Congress the next day.
BOB WOODWARD, AUTHOR, "PERIL": Yes, more than that. Actually, the legitimacy of the presidency was at stake because if Pence had wavered at all and stood there in the Senate and the House and said, "I can't decide, I'm going home," we would have had a constitutional crisis like we've never seen before in this country.
But Pence did stick to the law and the Constitution, but it was not a direct path. And the reporting that Bob Costa and I did shows very clearly that Pence was looking -- looking for a way to accommodate Trump.
In the end, I think pressure from lawyers and friends and advisers and Pence's own sense of conservative Republicanism was, OK, I'm going to do the right thing here. But it was not a pure call at the beginning.
O'DONNELL: And, Robert Costa, there's a scene in the book of Mike Pence calling former Republican Vice President Dan Quayle to get his advice about this. Dan Quayle had that job in 198 -- 1993, I guess it was, where they failed on their re-election campaign and he as vice president had to deliver -- basically open the envelopes, as they put it, open the envelopes showing that Bill Clinton won.
ROBERT COSTA, AUTHOR, "PERIL": Indeed, January 6th, 1993, Dan Quayle as vice president certifying the victory on that day for then President Clinton, Vice President Gore.
And he largely disappeared from the American political scene in recent decades, but he remains close to his fellow Hoosier and fellow Republican, Mike Pence. And this is one of the calls Pence made during this transition period, trying to figure out how to navigate the dynamics, the pressure from President Trump.
And Vice President Quayle, based on our reporting, kept telling Pence, "You can't do this, Mike. We're friends. We're both Indiana Republican vice presidents. You just can't move forward."
And Bob Woodward and I were talking recently about that January 5th scene, too, Lawrence, and the most striking scene to me is after Pence leaves the Oval Office on January 5th. We have in our book, President Trump opening the door on a freezing night, January 5th with the future rioters outside, his supporters outside in the streets of Washington, and in the frigid air having the gust of air come into the Oval Office, and he wouldn't close the door.
He said to his aides in the Oval Office, "Listen to them, these are my supporters. They want us to act tomorrow on January 6th." And even some of his own aides were shivering in the Oval Office that night. The president wouldn't close the door. He wanted to hear the cries of his supporters.
O'DONNELL: Yeah. And it's a chilling scene for the reader. It is so cinematic, and you do this in so many scenes where you take us beyond the important text. There's always an important text in the room of what was said, but then there's more in that room than what was said.
And that for me is what the book is about. That's what distinguishes the book in so many ways from the news accounts and why you really to get the full picture of any one of these moments, you really have to hold the book in your hands and see everything that occurred in these rooms.
Bob Woodward, the danger of nuclear war is something that has been -- there's two moments that we're aware of, and we're aware of them from your reporting. One from the final days of Richard Nixon where you and Carl Bernstein reported on the end of the Nixon presidency and how there was concern and worry in the administration about would Richard Nixon, in order to try to save his presidency through crisis possibly launch some kind of nuclear attack and that is echoed in this book.
WOODWARD: Well, it actually happened. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, internally with the senior staff developed this notion of the absolute darkest moment of theoretical possibility. In other words, he had to look at the bad things that could happen.
And he realized after a very long call where we have the transcript in the book with Speaker Pelosi, and Pelosi is saying, you have got to find some way to guarantee that Trump's not going to start a war or use nuclear weapons.
And Milley is pushing back in the call, and then he realizes, Pelosi's right. I've got to do something.
And in one of the most dramatic findings in the reporting that Bob Costa and I did, Milley actually calls in the people from the war room in the Pentagon called the National Military Command Center into his office, a one-star admiral or one-star brigadier general in the Army, and some colonels, and he says to them, I want you to make sure if there's an order, just not for the use of nuclear weapons, but any sort of military action, that I will be included, you call me.
And he literally goes around the room and looks each person in the eye and says, have you got that? Have you got that? Yes, sir, yes, sir.
And this is equivalent to what Secretary of Defense Schlesinger did in the Nixon years, insisting that he be involved. In this case, Milley stepped in because the acting secretary of defense, Chris Miller, at that point had just been appointed and Pelosi didn't trust Miller. I think Milley was not sure. So he seized this moment in a way to protect the country from this theoretical possibility of a catastrophe.
COSTA: And, Lawrence --
O'DONNELL: Go ahead, Robert.
COSTA: Just to real quick, just jump in on that, I think it's very important for people to read the full book to get the context of what Chairman Milley was doing. Page 129 is so important. When he reaches out to General Li, the Chinese general, he's trying to make it seem like a routine call.
And these calls can be routine between chairmen and foreign military leaders. But he's trying to reassure him when he says, we're going to let you know if we're going to attack at some point, that this is how it has always been throughout history. Read the full conversation.
He's trying to calm down General Li and the Chinese during a very tense situation just days before the election, October 30th, 2020. And the whole book is about the context of our reporting and not just things that are pulled out or cherry-picked.
O'DONNELL: We're going to have to squeeze in a commercial break right here. And when we come back, I want to talk about that call that General Milley made and the controversy that it has sparked since your reporting has become public.
We'll be right back with Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, the authors of "Peril."
O'DONNELL: Back with us, Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, co-authors of the new instantly best-selling book "Peril."
And, Bob Woodward, let's begin with where we just left it on the other side of the commercial break. General Milley calls his counterpart in China, and the most controversial thing, as far as I can tell from the reaction from it that he said was -- first of all, guarantees him, don't worry, no attack, we know you people are suspecting Donald Trump might launch an attack as a way of hanging onto power. And then there's the part where he says, I'm paraphrasing, if there is any kind of attack, I will warn you, I will let you know.
You've seen the criticism of General Milley about this. He hasn't offered any public comment about it. If General Milley could answer the criticism he has been getting about this, what would you expect him to say?
WOODWARD: Well, I'm not going to guess about what he might say. I -- we know from our reporting what happened. You have to understand what this day was. It was four days before the election, October 30th. And intel, sensitive intelligence shows that the Chinese think we're going to launch an attack on them.
Now, this is the worst moment for somebody in the military because if the - - as Milley tells his senior staff, if that were the case, if they think we're going to attack them, they might launch what Milley told the senior staff would be a Pearl Harbor on us. So he moves to protect the country.
And I think at the center of all of this we should say the reporting we did shows that everything Milley did was to protect the country. The idea that he committed treason is totally unsupported by -- I mean, there is just nothing in our reporting. And when he says to General Li, head of the Chinese military, if we are going to attack you, I will call you.
But in the context, if you read -- I was going to suggest you read page 129 because the whole answer is there, he's saying not that he's going to tip him off, but the tensions will build up. This is the way it always happened in history.
And then he said, we're not -- we're not going to have a fight. And General Li says, I accept it, I believe it. And every step, all of these calls, all Milley's actions, now he's going to testify later this month. I mean, thank God we have Congress, which will make an effort to get to the bottom of this and let him explain why he did things.
But our reporting, zero evidence, absolutely zero evidence of some sort of treason or the idea of doing something not in the interest of protecting the country.
This is a man who devoted his entire life to the United States military. And, you know, he's going to -- he's going to have to answer for himself. But if people like Donald Trump who have said, oh, what Milley did, if this is true, this is treason, I think when everything comes out about all of this and we get the facts on the table, a lot of people who have accused Milley of treason are going to be apologizing to Milley because they have misread what happened and they have misread the extent to which he has committed his life decade after decade.
Now, did he make -- are some things unclear as -- I mean, the testimony before Congress that he's going to give -- I guess it's on the 27th, it's going to be some of the most important testimony given to Congress in decades, I think.
O'DONNELL: You have other reporting in the book about another congressional investigation that's underway right now, and that is the investigation of the January 6th attack on the Capitol. And you have reporting on Kevin McCarthy's phone call to Donald Trump during the attack on the Capitol.
This is from the book where you have Kevin McCarthy calling Donald Trump saying, "You've got to get out and tell these people to stop. I am out of the Capitol. We've been run over," McCarthy said. He was intense, "Someone just got shot." "I'll put a tweet out," Trump said.
"I've never seen anything like this," McCarthy said. "You've got to tell them to stop. You've got to get them out of here, get them out of here now." He never asked about McCarthy's safety.
And one remark stood out: "Well, Kevin, I guess these people are more upset about the election than you are."
All right, Robert Costa, that's a conversation that the investigative committee about January 6th wants to get even more detail on. There's so much in this book that is of interest to that committee. Kevin McCarthy has kind of changed his tune about all of this since then. What does your reporting indicate we would learn if Kevin McCarthy was put under oath in that hearing room in that investigation?
COSTA: What Bob Woodward and I found is that Kevin McCarthy, the House Minority Leader, and Leader McConnell in the Senate, they're kind of the surface of the Republican Party, but that isn't the whole story. You look at January 5th, we discovered that Steve Bannon, the former White House strategist, was there at the Willard Hotel blocks from the White House with Rudy Giuliani, having an almost war-room-type meeting with other Trump allies the eve before the January 6th insurrection.
And President Trump calls into this Willard Hotel informal war room to talk to Giuliani, to talk to Bannon. And Bannon had actually been in close touch with President Trump for days before January 6th. Based on our reporting, he privately told President Trump to have a reckoning on January 6th. And he said to the president, it's time to kill the Biden presidency in the crib.
You can't get more visceral than that. But the intertwining roles of Bannon, Giuliani, Trump allies on the outside who are at the rally at the White House. That's a story beneath the story of McCarthy and McConnell, both important dynamics to understand, and we try to lay them out scene-by- scene.
O'DONNELL: There's so much more I want to get to that we won't get to here, just tip of the iceberg elements like Bill Barr's campaign advice to Donald Trump, long extensive conversations about the presidential campaign, very surprising from an attorney general advising a president on that.
But there's another whole section of the book, which is about someone else, which is about Joe Biden.
And, Bob Woodward, that makes this the first Trump book that constantly is cutting to sanity. It's cutting from the madness of the Trump White House to the sanity and the stability of what Joe Biden brings to both the presidential campaign and then the White House.
The Biden story begins a year and a half -- with a year and a half left in the Biden vice presidency when Beau Biden dies on May 30th, 2015.
And on page 13, you tell this story: Joe Biden was devastated.
"This is going to be a very tough time for me personally," Biden told Steve Ricchetti his chief of staff for nearly three years and another principal in Biden's political brotherhood.
"The only way I'm going to be able to get through this," he said, "and we'll be able to get through this as a family, is if we just, you know, you have to keep me working and busy."
Ricchetti loved Biden. The resilience, the generosity, the friendliness. If Biden said he needed to work, he knew how to keep the vice president busy. Schedule. Action.
Ricchetti later reflected to others that sometimes it sounds almost cruel, but keeping busy meant taking another hard look at a presidential campaign.
And, Bob Woodward, there's so much in there that is so different from Trump world. And Steve Ricchetti is one of a cast of several devoted, career-long devoted people working for Joe Biden who love him, Ron Klain, others in this book. That kind of support character around Donald Trump doesn't exist -- the person who's been with him for a long time, who loves him, who's devoted to him and has wise counsel for him.
What is this -- what do you think the reader should take out of this book about not necessarily, not political positions or wins and losses in Congress, but how Joe Biden and the people he has brought into the White House run the White House?
WOODWARD: Well, it's a different cast and it's a different theory of the case. And when Bob Costa and I talked about doing this book, we realized because Biden is the current president, we need to show what he does and maybe 40 percent of the book. It lays out who he is, what he cares about.
There are some missteps. There are some problems. At the same time, you can't report on Biden and understand that the core of him is -- and this isn't a political judgment. It's a reporting fact, that the core of him is, let's protect the country. Let's do the best that we can.
And so there is that back and forth. But, you know, we -- the point of the book, the larger point of "Peril," Lawrence, is that Trump was -- created a national security crisis, and that is what we didn't know about until we could get some of these details.
O'DONNELL: Bob Woodward, thank you very much. You've done it again.
Robert Costa, thank you very much for joining us.
I could go on and on, Robert Costa, I have so many questions about what it's like to work with the master and take on the Carl Bernstein role of co-author on one of these books.
Thank you both very, very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.
COSTA: Thank you.
O'DONNELL: Thank you.
And we want to tell our viewers that Bob Woodward and Robert Costa will be on "MORNING JOE" tomorrow. And Mary Trump will join us next.
O'DONNELL: The Biden story begins a year and a half -- with a year and a half left in the Biden vice presidency when beau Biden dies on May 30th, 2015, and on page 13 you tell this story.
Joe Biden was devastated. This is going to be a very tough time for me personally, Biden told Steve Ricchetti. his chief of staff for nearly 30 -- for nearly three years and another principal in Biden's political brotherhood. The only way I'm going to be able to get through this, he said, and we'll be able to get through this as a family, is if we just, you know, you have to keep me working and busy.
Ricchetti loved Biden, the resilience, the generosity, the friendliness. If Biden said he knew he, he knew how to keep the vice president busy. Schedule. Action.
Ricchetti later reflected to others that sometimes it sounds almost cruel, but keeping busy meant taking another hard look at presidential campaign.
And Bob Woodward, there's so much in there that is so different from Trump world. And Steve Ricchetti is one of a cast of several devoted career-long devoted, people working for Joe Biden who love him. Ron Klain, others in this book.
That kind of support character around Donald Trump doesn't exist. The person who's been with him for a long time, who loves him, who's devoted to him and has wise counsel for him. What is this -- what do you think the reader should take out of this book about not necessarily, not political positions or wins and losses in congress, but how Joe Biden and the people he has brought into the White House run the White House?
BOB WOODWARD, AUTHOR: Well, it's a different cast and it's a different theory of the case. And when Bob Costa and I talked about doing this book, we realized because Biden is the current president we need to show what he does in maybe 40 percent of the book. It lays out who he is, what he cares about.
There are some missteps. There's some problems. At the same time, you can't report on Biden and understand that the core of him is -- and this isn't a political judgment. It's a reporting fact, that the core of him is let's protect the country. Let's do the best that we can.
And so there is that back and forth but we've, you know, we've -- the point of the book, the larger point in "Peril", Lawrence, is that Trump created a national security crisis, and that that is what we didn't know about until we could get some of these details.
O'DONNELL: Bob Woodward, thank you very much. You have done it again. Robert Costa, thank you very much for joining us. I could go on and on, Robert Costa, I have so many questions about what it's like to work with the master and take on the Carl Bernstein role, co-author on one of these books. Thank you both very, very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.
ROBERT COSTA, AUTHOR: Thank you.
O'DONNELL: Thank you.
And we want to tell our viewers that Bob Woodward and Robert Costa will be on "MORNING JOE" tomorrow.
And Mary Trump will join us next.
O'DONNELL: In Bob Woodward and Robert Costa's new book, "Peril", they report the increasing concerns of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley about Donald Trump's mental health after Donald Trump lost his re-election campaign.
Quote, "Milley had witnessed up close how Trump was routinely impulsive and unpredictable. Making matters even more dire, Milley was certain Trump had gone into a serious mental decline in the aftermath of the election with Trump now, all but manic, screaming at officials and constructing his own alternate reality about endless election conspiracies.
You never know what the president's trigger point is, Milley told senior staff. When might events and pressures come together to cause a president to order military action."
Joining us now is Mary Trump, author of the book "The Reckoning: Our Nation's Trauma and Finding a Way to Heal. Thank you very much for joining us tonight.
There is so much material on your uncle's mental health in this book as perceived by General Milley and others. We've talked about some of it, some of it we have yet to get to.
But when you see everything General Milley is going through, everything he's reacting to and his concerns, what do you know about your uncle that you're sure General Milley was seeing in these situations?
MARY TRUMP, AUTHOR, "THE RECKONING": What General Milley was seeing was desperation. I don't believe that there was a sudden precipitous decline in Donald's psychological health. He had never been psychologically healthy. And we've been hearing reports for the last five years about his erratic behavior, his outbursts, his temper, his inability to focus or grasp even the most basic information.
What happened after he lost the election was the incredible stressor of having for the first time in his life lost something that he couldn't lie, cheat, or steal his way out of. So his desperation is what General Milley was dealing with and I have no doubt in my mind that it made Donald's behavior even more alarming, even though I don't think it pointed to a mental decline.
O'DONNELL: There are so many passages in this book, when I get in there and read every line that make me think of you, make me think, oh, Mary Trump's reaction to this.
And there's this moment where he's been told that you cannot, you know, you just cannot use the insurrection act to bring troops to Washington, D.C., to take over and crush all protests that were happening in the middle of the summer there.
And so your uncle then screams, "Who do you think you are, Trump screamed at Esper? You took away my authorities. You're not the president. I'm the goddamn president."
And I'm not sure that there's another president in the United States who ever said anything like that at any point in the Oval Office because every previous holder of that office I think was pretty confident at all times who the president was.
TRUMP: Not only were they confident, but they understood how the American government worked. Donald had no authority to invoke the insurrection act under those circumstances.
And the fact that he felt thwarted just tells us how dangerous it is to put somebody in a position of that much power who, one, doesn't understand what his job is; and two, is unwilling to learn, and three, feels entitled to having absolute control and power.
So I think that we really dodged a bullet in the sense that Donald didn't have quite enough time to install his cronies at the various departments because he was on his way to doing just that.
O'DONNELL: There's a passage in here about the first rally -- the first rally that Donald Trump had after COVID started. He couldn't stand it anymore. And on June 20th, 2020, he had that rally in Oklahoma.
Now Herman Cain was there and Herman Cain died a few weeks later of COVID- 19. That event itself was considered a super spreader event, but it was a thinly-populated Trump rally. It was a much smaller crowd than anyone expected to show up there.
And so from the book we have this -- we have your uncle saying this about that rally. "Biggest f-ing mistake Trump said at a meeting in the Oval Office. I shouldn't have ever done that f-ing, f-ing rally," calling Brad Parscale an f-ing moron.
That was the campaign manager at the time who got demoted in the campaign after that event. Not a word at any point from your uncle about Herman Cain's death. There's nothing in the book about his sympathies for Herman Cain who attended that event.
TRUMP: Well, I wouldn't expect for there to be. I mean, first of all the fact that Herman Cain died of COVID, which potentially he got at that rally would contradict Donald's narrative that it was a hoax or it wasn't a big deal.
Secondly, it just shows you that this is a person who's incapable of empathy. He's incapable of caring about other human beings except to the extent that they can be of use to him. And this is somebody whose only barometer for how things are going in the world is how many people attend his rallies or how many people pay attention to him, which again, is another reason why we need to figure out a way to strengthen our system to prevent this kind of person from ever ascending to power again.
O'DONNELL: And quickly before we go, one thing that constantly surprises me in this book are a stream of people from Paul Ryan on saying I just can't believe what this guy is like.
And they all -- I don't get it because he seemed incredibly, totally transparent to me as a campaigner for the president. He was absolutely consistent as a deranged campaigner for the presidency.
He was advertising that the presidency will have a deranged person in the Oval Office, and these people ended up being surprised that he really was as crazy as he appeared to be.
TRUMP: I think that's what they call revisionist history And just covering yourself because that is impossible. If they were paying the slightest bit of attention, they know exactly who they were dealing with.
He was the same in 2015 as he was in 2020 as he was in 2000, you know? So it's just a way of changing the narrative away from their responsibility, which they refuse to admit, which is again, another problem because they didn't stay and try to fix the problem. They ran away from it.
O'DONNELL: Mary Trump, thank you very much for joining us once again. We always appreciate it.
TRUMP: Thank you, Lawrence.
O'DONNELL: Thank you.
And coming up, new Defendant Trump news tonight, Allen Weisselberg's lawyer said in court that they believe more indictments are coming in the Trump business fraud case.
O'DONNELL: "We have strong reason to believe there could be other indictments coming." That is what an attorney for Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg told a court today during a hearing in the tax fraud case against Weisselberg and the Trump company itself.
O'DONNELL: Weisselberg's attorney Bryan Skarlatos argued for more time to review six million pages of discovery documents and, according to Bloomberg News, "nodded to the existence of other possible defendants when he pointed out that just before Monday's hearing began prosecutors had turned over a box of tax records for the company that were found in co-conspirators' basements".
"The New York Times" reports, "The Manhattan district attorney's office has been scrutinizing Matthew Calamari who once worked as Mr. Trump's bodyguard and rose over four decades to become the Trump Organization's chief operating officer.
It is unclear whether the prosecutors will ultimately charge Mr. Calamari.
Calamari's lawyer told "The New York Times", "If they presently intended to indict him, I would have been informed. I haven't been and in fact have been informed to the contrary."
Today the judge extended the time for trial preparation and set a tentative trial date of approximately one year from now.
Joining us now is Susan Hoffinger, former Manhattan assistant district attorney. She is a white collar criminal defense attorney. And Tim O'Brien, senior columnist for "Bloomberg Opinion". He is the author of the book "Trump Nation".
Susan, the speculation immediately goes to co-conspirators. Who are you talking about and who might these new indictments be? A lot of speculation tonight including Donald Trump as a possible defendant because there are reports indicating that he may have signed some of the checks to Allen Weisselberg that represent the fraudulent compensation.
SUSAN HOFFINGER, FORMER MANHATTNA ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Thank you, Lawrence. Good evening.
Well, it's hard to know, of course at this point who the other individuals may be who may be charged. But as you may recall, the indictment itself clearly very identifies evidence against other Trump employees and other Trump Organization executives.
And there is reference in the indictment to Trump himself having signed some checks that went for tuition, I believe, of one of the Trump Organization folks' children at school.
But the indictment itself made this very clear a few months ago when we first saw it, that there was evidence of other employees and other executives being complicit in this same type of tax evasion. At this point we don't know but it could be a number of individuals at the Trump organization.
O'DONNELL: Tim O'Brien, I am sure the names just started rolling through your head today as soon as you heard co-conspirators.
TIM O'BRIEN, AUTHOR: Well, it is not a huge population of people, Lawrence. Clearly this case is targeting Trump. The Manhattan DA's office has gone to great lengths to secure Trump's personal tax returns along with Trump Organization's corporate tax returns.
In addition, Matthew Calamari the chief operating officer is a person of interest to them. I think that Jeff (INAUDIBLE) is another executive there, is a person of interest. I imagine they have thought about Jason Greenblatt who is the former in-house council.
And of course, Trump's three eldest children. That's essentially everyone the who would have been involved in the kinds of things that the D.A. appears to be looking at.
It is not a large population of people and it's worth remembering at the end of the day there (INAUDIBLE) anything without -- of substance without Donald Trump approving it and signing off on it.
And I think they're just working up the ladder towards Trump in all of this, But they're going to go through I think that population of people I just mentioned to you.
O'DONNELL: And Susan on timetable, I'm imagining different motions as discovery information is developed and motions to suppress this or that and then appeals of those rulings on those motions. And so we could be a long way from trial.
HOFFINGER: Absolutely. And the trial date that was set for one year from now, approximately one year is probably not a firm trial date. One, if other defendants are brought into the case, that will delay the case because they will be given substantial time to review these millions of pages and to file their motions.
If other defendants are brought into the case, there will be severance motions on that as well. You know, the various individuals in charge will say it's not fair for me to be at trial with someone who might point a finger at me.
And so, you know, I think that that's a tentative trial date a year form now. It's a reasonable trial date in a white collar case with financial documents of this nature. But it may -- it may be put off especially if there are other defendants who were charged in the case.
O'DONNELL: And Tim O'Brien, you know the mind of Donald Trump when it comes to these kinds of things. You have written a book about it. You've actually been in litigation against him. He sued you and lost on a so-called libel case in the book you wrote about him.
Tell us what you would imagine Donald Trump's reaction to be to this legal process so far including today's session.
O'BRIEN: I think he is like a mob boss. He is going to make sure, to the extent that he can, that the people around him, including his eldest children, don't throw him under the bus if they are facing prison terms themselves. But we just don't know yet how severe that situation is going to be.
Allen Weisselberg is obviously pivotal here. I don't think if he's facing a substantial prison term, or any other senior executive at the Trump Organization. That they're going to go to join for a long time to spare Donald Trump some pain.
If it is not a long prison sentence that they're facing. And it ends up being something of a slap on the wrist and they may -- they may try to do him a favor. But I think that's the main thing that Trump is worried right now is who is going to be will loyal and who's not.
O'DONNELL: Tim O'Brien and Susan Hoffinger, thank you both very much for joining us tonight.
HOFFINGER: THANK YOU.
O'BRIEN: Thank you.
O'DONNELL: We will be right back.
O'DONNELL: Tonight's last word is "Peril". The authors of "Peril", Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, will be on "MORNING JOE" tomorrow morning in what I hope is an even more extensive conversation than what we were able to have here tonight.
"THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS," starts now.