President Joe Biden is going to hold virtual global democracy summit this week. President Biden warns Russian President Putin of "strong economic measures" if Russia continues military escalation against Ukraine. Tonight Roger Stone joined the gang of Trump associates defying subpoenas from the house committee investigating the attack on the Capitol on January 6th. The social media company that Donald Trump announced he was creating months ago is now under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, because the biggest potential investor in Donald Trump`s company may have violated SEC regulations in negotiations with the new Trump company.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
You were just talking about the Mark Meadows reaction to subpoenas. That Trump gang`s defiance of congressional subpoenas is once again teaching us something that I didn`t really understand before now, which is they can be defied, and they can be defied over time successfully if your game is just delay.
And the reason why people like Hillary Clinton went and testified to a hostile Republican-controlled Congress is Secretary Clinton believed she had an obligation to, and she believed politically it`s better for her to get out there and answer every single question about this. So, she answered for hours and hours and hours on end.
These people don`t think there is any reason to answer any question about anything.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": No. And now we got this new strategy of them all pleading the Fifth, including, you know, Roger Stone pleading the Fifth, John Eastman pleading the Fifth, Jeff Clark pleading the Fifth, presumably a lot of them will do that now.
I mean, doesn`t half of you think they`re going to plead the fifth hoping to stretch this out long enough that this ends up getting to 2024 and then maybe Trump gets back in and he pardons them?
O`DONNELL: Oh, sure, yeah.
MADDOW: The thing we have learned is that they can delay this as long as they can. That`s how Trump defeated litigation his entire life. They`re hoping for Trump to be able to rescue them, the same with Bannon and Roger Stone before. But also they can`t do anything about subpoenas to go to third parties.
Part of freak-out is that the phone companies have received the subpoenas. They`re not interested in delaying and breaking the law. So they`ve handed over the information. That`s something that these guys can`t control, and I think that`s why so many of them are squealing right now.
O`DONNELL: Yeah, and what we saw tonight is yet another wild invented interpretation of the Fifth Amendment process. Roger Stone`s lawyer is saying -- we`re going to get to this later in the hour. Roger Stone`s lawyer is saying he`s not going to show up as a witness because he`s staying the Fifth Amendment.
No. You have to show up.
MADDOW: That`s not how it works.
O`DONNELL: Take the oath, answer the question about what`s your name, and then when we ask you where were you on January 6th, you can then start taking the Fifth. For individual questions as they get close to an arena that might criminally incriminate you.
This idea that I`m taking the Fifth, so I`m not going to go, I`m not going to show up. That is not how the Fifth Amendment works.
MADDOW: It`s also not the way it works for them to be asserting various forms of privilege. Like Jeff Clark, the Justice Department official, before he pled the Fifth, he showed up and went in and said it`s privilege of various kinds.
And they were, like, we`re going to ask you a question and you can assert what specific privilege you think applies that excuses you from answering. He`s like, no, you can`t ask me questions. It`s just privileged. It`s like he has a cloak of invisibility by calling it privilege.
It`s not the way it works. You actually have to engage with what`s being asked of you, and all these guys think they got a get out of jail-free card because they`re in Trump`s orbit and he seems to. But, you know, ultimately, that will be tested by time and diligence.
O`DONNELL: And the good news for the investigation is they are getting a lot of information and a lot of cooperation from really key players. And so they`re going to be able to build a case, probably a case that won`t include testimony from Bannon or Mark Meadows or some of these people who actually see profit in the delay for themselves. Mark Meadows has a book to sell, so what`s wrong with him spending a year fighting this thing in court and helping his book in whatever ways it can?
MADDOW: Yeah. I mean, we shall see. I`m encouraged by the fact that whenever you talk to members of the January 6th Committee, particularly the senior members, they seem to be completely aware of the delay strategy and completely cognizant of the fact they need to get their work done within the amount of time that they`ve got, and they may not have any time after the midterms next year because the Republicans if they win will presumably dissolve the thing.
So, they seem to have -- they seem to understand both the stakes and the pacing necessary to get it done, which is sort of the most you could hope for when this is what you`re up against.
O`DONNELL: Yeah. They have enough experience, they know how it works. So, we`ll see how it turns out.
MADDOW: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel. Thank you.
At its founding, the ideal of the United Nations, not its stated objective, was that it would be a sort of ongoing international summit for democracy. But membership in the United Nations does not require adherence to democratic principles among member nations. And so, a summit, a real summit of the world`s democracies is a smaller group than all of the members of the United Nations.
Our first guest tonight, Samantha Power, who was President Obama`s ambassador to the United Nations and who is now the head of the United States Agency for International development in the Biden administration, coauthored an op-ed piece in "The Washington Post" with Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen saying this week: Representatives of more than 100 nations will gather virtually for President Biden`s summit for democracy. The gathering is a recognition that the world`s democracies need a new strategy. For the past 15 years, the number of people living under authoritarian regimes has been rising, while leaders of many Democratic countries have been chipping away at fundamental rights and checks and balances.
In addition to the worldwide battle between democracy and autocracy now under way, the summit will consider the necessity of worldwide distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. Fifty-seven percent of the world`s population has received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine. Only 11 percent of the people in Africa have received at least one dose of vaccine.
As of today, the United States has donated more than 300 million vaccine doses to over 110 countries. The United States leads the world in vaccine donations, to the point that the United States has donated more vaccine than all the other donor countries of the world combined.
But at the present worldwide vaccination rate, it could take about two more years to vaccinate the entire world. The Biden administration has pledged to donate an additional 1.2 billion doses to countries around the world. Ambassador Samantha Power is leading the United States` worldwide vaccination effort.
The United States agency for international development that Ambassador Power now runs was established by president John F. Kennedy in 1961. And at the time, President Kennedy said there is no escaping our obligations. Our moral obligations as a wise leader and good neighbor in the interdependent community of free nations, our economic obligations as the wealthiest people in a world of largely poor people, as a nation no longer dependent on the loans from abroad that once helped us develop our own economy, and our political obligations as the single largest counter to the adversaries of freedom.
Last week, President Biden said this about the effort to vaccinate the world.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As we see with COVID-19 and the Delta variant, and now with Omicron variant, all that emerged elsewhere. It all came from somewhere else. And to beat this pandemic, we need to go to where it came from in the rest of the world. We also need to vaccinate the reflect world. America has, in my view, continues to lead in that effort.
Let me be clear. Not a single vaccine dose America ever sends to the rest of the world will ever come at the expense of any American. I`ll always make sure our people are protected first.
But vaccinating the world is not just a moral tool, a moral obligation that we have in my view, it`s how we protect Americans. As we`ve seen with this new variant, America is doing our part and will do more.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: In the op-ed piece co-written by Janet Yellen and Samantha Power, they wrote: The United States must be a model for the wider world. The idea of democracy is inseparable from the idea of America. And we cannot support free government abroad if our institutions wither at home.
Leading off our discussion tonight is Samantha Power, the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development.
She was President Obama`s ambassador to the United Nations.
Ambassador Power, thank you very much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it.
SAMANTHA POWER, ADMINISTRATOR, U.S. AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Great to be back.
O`DONNELL: What is your ambition and the president`s ambition for this Summit on Democracy?
POWER: Well, I think it is snuck up on some at home and abroad that we are in the 15th straight year of freedom in decline around the world, and President Biden with the summit is going to issue a wake-up call to anybody who`s still slumbering on that fact.
We`re also bringing democracies together, some full-fledged democracies where checks and balances are working relatively well. Some facing challenges, and we`re coming together with humility knowing we all have something to learn about something from someone.
So there will be discussions, Lawrence, on everything from new tools we can use to battle corruption, like those I wrote about with Janet Yellen, to tools we can use to combat misinformation, disinformation. We`re struggling with that here in the United States on everything from vaccine delivery to politics, and that is a phenomenon in so many pockets in the world and others in civil society and independent media have their tactics they have used to try to win the marketplace of ideas and strengthen independent journalists and strengthen independent voices.
So when we sit down, again, it`s not a lecture, it`s a learning exercise, but also we`re getting countries to make commitments that we will then hold them to and that we know journalists and civil society in their own countries will hold them to. So it`s also a hook to try to get countries that have been back sliding to move in a more positive direction.
O`DONNELL: Speaking of countries that have been back sliding, is the United States of America on that list given what`s happened in some of these Republican state legislatures around the country where they are changing the way votes will be processed, will be counted in some of those states as a way, presumably, to try to help Donald Trump if he runs for president again?
POWER: Well, as you know, at USAID, one of the things we`ve been focused on for many, many years in a bipartisan way is support for free and fair elections, support for independent monitoring of elections. Of course, support for the recognition of results of free and fair elections, even if they go the wrong way from the standpoint of a particular candidate.
So, of course, these are -- these are your life principles that we have stood for and it is critically important for the credibility of our messages abroad, but, above all, for the enfranchisement of our citizens, that voter rights be protected and respected. And again, this is why we have a conversation that`s going to be a two-way street when we talk about democracy and human rights these days.
O`DONNELL: Do you expect to hear things in this discussion that we haven`t heard, represents of the American government haven`t heard in these discussions before, when usually it has been the American representatives speaking to representatives of foreign governments, talking to them about how they could improve their Democratic principles and institutions? Do you expect to hear responses from other countries saying, well, what`s going on there?
And, oh, by the way, what is an electoral college and why do you have one?
POWER: I -- I can`t predict precisely what the content of the discussions will be, but I can say that President Biden goes into this summit believing that the foundation for leadership internationally starts at home, believing that democracies also have to deliver for their people. This is why, of course, the Build Back Better bill is so important to get across the finish line because there is so much in that for the American people. But that is also evidence of democracy working for the benefit of citizens.
And what you see around the world, unfortunately, is particularly among younger people, Lawrence, is faith and democracy having declined over time, commensurate, really, with the decline in freedom that we`ve seen over this last 15 years. Many young people don`t have a memory of other systems, whether fascism and communism and saying, why doesn`t democracy fix this? So, there is an important link with the economic recovery that we know we need to see, with ending the pandemic, and people`s faith in this model of governance, that we do believe is, as once said, is the worst form of government apart from all the others.
It`s a challenging form, it`s a messy form, but it`s one we have to get more right.
O`DONNELL: The effort for worldwide vaccination is now facing not just a vaccine shortage that needs to be addressed in the countries that desperately need vaccine, but even in countries that desperately need vaccine, there is developing a vaccine resistance, a contagion that has basically originated in the United States on the Trump side of our politics that has -- is now infecting the thinking in some foreign countries that do need the vaccine, and they are facing some resistance among the people who they`re trying to vaccinate.
POWER: Well, this is why President Biden and USAID and the whole U.S. government launched this initiative aimed both at getting vaccine supply out to the parts of the world that haven`t had sufficient supply of vaccine, and, critically, a stepped-up emphasis on delivery. So basically to turn doses into vaccinations, which, as you know, has been challenging in many corners of the United States and, frankly, in most democracies there have been these pockets of resistance.
Now, in developing countries, there are other issues as well. There are questions of whether we can reach the last mile, questions of voter -- excuse me -- citizen education and whether they know where to go and whether there are places, you know, again, that render those vaccines accessible to them.
But you`re right, that hesitancy too is cropping up as a significant issue. Because there`s not enough supply, the vaccine disinformation that we see in our own ecosystem has had a chance to proliferate without there being leaders really at the pulpit saying, no, these vaccines work, look at the rates, look at what they`re doing, look how hospitalizations are down. That haven`t been happening because there was an inadequate supply of vaccines.
Now that we`re meeting supply needs in many parts of the world thanks to the generosity of the American people and the donation of what will be at least 1.2 billion doses donated by the United States, now we are starting to see these issues of hesitancy and confidence arise, and they`re very community specific, culture specific.
And so, the solutions too are ones that it will be the governments themselves, civil society, actresses, football stars, you know, will be out there just as occurred in this country promoting vaccines, describing the results of these vaccines, and urging individuals to take responsibility for themselves and for the communities around them.
But this is this phase we`re now entering into, Lawrence, where we try to turn vaccines into vaccinations so we can bring this pandemic to an end.
O`DONNELL: Ambassador Power, thank you very much for joining us tonight. And please come back to share with us the progress on worldwide vaccination. It is impossible, as we all know, to protect ourselves without protecting the world from COVID-19. The job you`re doing is crucial to that, and please join us anytime you can with an update on that.
POWER: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you very much.
POWER: Coming up, former Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul will join us after President Biden`s two-hour discussion today with Vladimir Putin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hello. Good evening. Good to see you again. Unfortunately, the last time -- we didn`t get to see one another at the G20. I hope next time we meet, we do it in person.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was just about all we were allowed to hear of President Biden`s discussion with Russian President Vladimir Putin today.
The video discussion lasted two hours. The White House readout of the call says, quote, President Biden voiced the deep concerns of the United States and our European allies about Russia`s escalation of forces surrounding Ukraine and made clear that the U.S. and our allies would respond with strong economic and other measures in the event of military escalation.
President Biden reiterated his support for Ukraine`s sovereignty and territorial integrity and called for de-escalation and a return to diplomacy. The two presidents tasked their teams to follow up.
Now, the Russian readout of the call was much longer, three or four times longer than the White House readout, which was actually quite short. And the Russian readout includes details not mentioned in the White House readout.
The Russian readout includes this: The residents recalled the alliance of the two countries during the Second World War. They emphasized that the sacrifices made then should not be forgotten, and the alliance itself should serve as an example for building contacts and working together in today`s realities. The predominant place in the conversation was occupied by problems related to the internal Ukrainian crisis and the lack of progress in the implementation of the 2015 Minsk agreements, which are the uncontested basis for a peaceful settlement.
President of Russia using specific examples, illustrated the destructive line of Kiev aimed at the complete dismantling of the Minsk agreements and agreements reached in the Normandy format, expressed serious concern about Kiev`s provocative actions against Donbas, Joseph Biden for his part emphasized the allegedly threatening nature of movements of Russian troops near the Ukrainian borders and outlined sanctions measures that the United States and its allies would be ready to apply in the event of a further escalation of the situation.
In response, Vladimir Putin stressed that the responsibility should not be shifted onto the shoulders of Russia, since it is NATO that is making dangerous attempts to conquer Ukrainian territory and is building up its military potential at our borders.
Therefore, Russia is seriously interested in obtaining reliable, legally fixed guarantees, excluding the expansion of NATO in the eastern direction and the deployment of offensive strike weapons systems in the states adjacent to Russia.
The leaders agreed to instruct their representatives to engage in substantive consultations on these sensitive issues.
And joining us now with his readout is Michael McFaul, former U.S. ambassador to Russia under President Obama. He is an MSNBC international affairs analyst.
Ambassador McFaul, what do you make of what we know about the discussion?
MICHAEL MCFAUL, MSNBC INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, Lawrence, thanks for going through both of those readouts. I think there`s details and things we can read in the Russian one especially. And this is classic, by the way, the U.S.`s readout -- I used to write them for President Obama, they`re always much shorter. The Russian ones tend to be a lot longer.
In there, you see some ridiculous statements, right, that NATO is trying to build up forces to threaten Russia. That`s complete hogwash. But the reference to the Minks agreement gives me opportunity for some kind of negotiation and de-escalation. Russia, of course, is violating that agreement also, but it has been stopped. The Normandy process between France, Germany, Russia, and Ukraine hasn`t made much progress.
So I see a sliver of opportunity there. Maybe Biden can say, yeah, we want to talk about the Minsk agreements. We want to join the Normandy process, and let`s begin to talk about the implementation on all sides, not just Ukrainian side.
O`DONNELL: Jake -- Jake Sullivan, national security adviser, quoted President Biden, saying to Vladimir Putin, I will look you in the eye and tell you -- and he says as president Biden looked President Putin in the eye, and told him things we did not do in 2014 we are prepared to do now. You were on the job in 2014. What is President Biden talking about that we did not do in 2014?
MCFAUL: Yeah. That was a very important -- that was the most important line in that press conference with National Security Adviser Sullivan, which is to say, expect a much bigger, much more comprehensive response in terms of economic sanctions, and not just individual companies, but maybe kicking them out of SWIFT, which is the way you do transactions between Russian entities, Russian banks and Western banks, maybe sanctions on Nord Stream 2.
And I hope President Biden spelled out exactly what the list is. I would want him to do it publicly because that credibly commits the United States and our allies to do it.
But it means there will be serious economic consequences. It was pretty clear to me, however, there will not be a military response, and I think that`s also important. United States is not going to go to war with Russia over Ukraine, and everybody, I think, needs to understand that, but there will be deep economic consequences if he takes military action. And I think that was a very appropriate message for the president to deliver today.
O`DONNELL: Tell us about that line that appears in both readouts in almost the same language, that the staffs will get to work talking to each other about this. That was you. That was secretary of state. That was the ambassador. That was national security adviser.
That`s the whole team on the American side will get together with the team on the Russian side in various ways. What happens now? What do those people do?
MCFAUL: Well, one is a good sign. If they`re not following up with talks, that means there was a standoff, right? Better to keep talking than military escalation.
But two, now, I think this requires some creativity. I think just an exchange of sending the secretary or an undersecretary to Moscow and vice versa, that would it don`t tell enough. And number two, I really don`t like the idea of Americans and Russians getting together to decide the fate of Ukrainians with them not in the room.
History is filled with great powers deciding what should happen to other little powers, and usually those conversations are not good. I`m thinking of Yalta, I`m think of Munich, I don`t like those kind of conversations.
So I believe that the right response is a multilateral format where the United States joins Ukraine, Russia, Germany, and France to begin talking about a way to end the war in Eastern Ukraine. And I took that as a positive sign, a little bit of the door opened today that maybe that might happen.
O`DONNELL: Ambassador Michael McFaul, thank you very much for joining us with your invaluable insights on this important day. Really appreciate it.
MCFAUL: Thanks for having me.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
And coming up, Roger Stone is the latest member of the Trump gang to defy the subpoena from the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th attack on the Capitol.
Congresswoman Madeleine Dean, who served as an impeachment manager in the second Senate trial of Donald Trump will join us next.
O`DONNELL: Tonight Roger Stone joined the gang of Trump associates defying subpoenas from the house committee investigating the attack on the Capitol on January 6th. Roger Stone`s lawyer sent a legally childish letter to the committee saying, "Pursuant to the rights afforded to him by the Fifth Amendment to the constitution, he declines to be deposed or to produce documents."
The Fifth Amendment does not give Roger Stone the right to decline to be deposed. The Fifth Amendment does give him the right to refuse to answer individual questions when they are asked in a deposition.
But Roger Stone also knows that there is little to fear from a criminal prosecution for contempt of congress after federal judge Carl Nichols, who was appointed by Donald Trump, today gave Steve Bannon a trial date of July 18th for his contempt of Congress case.
Prosecutors suggested a one day trial in April. The defense asked for a ten-day trial scheduled in October. If Bannon is convicted, he will surely appeal, which will take at least another year. And so it was not surprising today that former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows` announced that he has decided not to show up for a deposition with the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th attack on the Capitol.
The chairman of the committee Democrat Benny Thompson, the vice chair of the committee Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney issued a statement saying "The select committee will be left no choice but to advance contempt proceedings and refer Mark Meadows for criminal prosecution."
That may be good news for Mark Meadows who is now selling a book and like Steve Bannon could profit from all the publicity of being charged with contempt of Congress.
Based on the Bannon trial schedule, Mark Meadows would probably not face trial until after the next congressional election. And if Republicans win that election, the select committee will be disbanded, and so the select committee has to concentrate on the evidence that it is able to obtain from cooperating witnesses, which now apparently includes Marc Short, who served as Vice President Pence`s chief of staff.
The "New York Times" reports Mr. Short has received a subpoena from the committee and agreed to an interview, but he is clearing any cooperation with Mr. Trump`s team submitting documents for its review before turning them over to the committee, said a person with knowledge of his actions who was not authorized to discuss them.
36-page memo submitted to the committee by Colonel Earl G. Matthews accuses Michael Flynn`s brother, General Charles Flynn, of, quote, "outright perjury". Colonel Matthews says that he heard General Flynn say that optics of a National Guard presence on Capitol Hill was an issue for him on January 6th. When General Flynn testified to a congressional committee, he said under oath, "I did not use the word optics, nor did I hear the word used during the call on January 6th, 2021."
Joining our discussion now is Democratic Congresswoman Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania. She is a member of the House Judiciary Committee and was an impeachment manager for the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump. Thank you very much for joining us tonight.
What is your reaction to Roger Stone joining the group defying the subpoenas along with Mark Meadows?
REP. MADELEINE DEAN (D-PA): Thank you for having me, Lawrence. I`m not surprised in the least. You used a word that in my notes and preparation for talking with you I used. It`s a gang. It`s a gang of thugs, many of them.
I`m not surprised that they would do this kind of stuntsmanship. They`re afraid of actually what they`re culpable of. Otherwise they would simply come forward and say I`ll tell you everything I know. It`s important that we learn what happened on January 6th.
I have to tell you, I was listening from the top of the hour. I was so pleased to be able to hear Samantha Power. You know, when we started in Congress, you go to sort of a Congress camp. This was January of 2019 just as we were being sworn in or December right before.
Samantha Power was one of the people to present to us and talked about the decline of democracies around the world.
Little did we know that in the next three years we would see the extraordinary decline through corruption and disinformation by a field of a gang. So I`m not surprised at all by Roger Stone.
But what I`m looking for are the patriots, and I`m confident they`re out there.
O`DONNELL: Well, of course you can build a case without getting the testimony of the most important suspects in the case, and that`s frequently done. In most prosecutions, the prosecutors don`t have any access to the criminal defendant at all, and they still build condemning evidentiary cases around those people.
DEAN: Exactly right. I was thinking and looking at some of the information that the committee has put forward. They have spoken to or interviewed more than 250 people. They have gotten the preservation of records. They are collecting the metadata around phone conversations and texts.
They will be able to -- we, Congress will be able to connect a tremendous number of the dots, even with the obstruction of thugs and gangs and those who are really fearful for their own culpability for what they know, for what they knew and did nothing about.
The notion that people knew and prepared and planned, knew about the dollars that were to be spent, and of course, knew what the president knew, and they knew when he knew it, and they were by his side as he did nothing about January 6th and an insurrection and an attack.
Something I think about a lot, Lawrence, is this was not a single day that is being investigated. I remember being on judiciary and having the obstruction of Attorney General Barr over and over again. And his terrible false statements in the position of attorney general about disinformation about our elections, sowing the seeds alongside the president, the former president, telling people that they would not be able to trust the security of their vote. That went on for months and months and months.
So this is the act of many people corruptly, systematically, chaotically at the same time to try to undo our democracy. We need to pay attention to the words of Samantha Power and others, and make sure that this committee has the ability to do its work. And I`m confident they will do it.
O`DONNELL: Congresswoman Madeleine Dean, thank you very much for joining us again tonight. We always appreciate it.
DEAN: Thanks for having me.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
And coming up, everything Donald Trump touches becomes an investigation. Tim O`Brien and John Heilemann will join us on the latest investigation, brand-new investigation of Donald Trump.
O`DONNELL: Everything Donald Trump touches gets investigated. The social media company that Donald Trump announced he was creating months ago is now under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, because the biggest potential investor in Donald Trump`s company may have violated SEC regulations in negotiations with the new Trump company.
The new CEO of the new Trump company apparently will be Congressman Devin Nunes who plans to quit the House of Representatives this month to join the Trump company where he will once again be defending Donald Trump, just as he has in the House of Representatives.
The names of individuals who have invested in the Trump company remain secret. Writing in "Bloomberg Opinion", our next guest, Tim O`Brien said, "It is important to know the names of the investors because anyone able to buy their way into Trump`s good graces by plopping a bag of money on his desk could sway public policy, which makes Trump a national security threat."
Joining us now are Tim O`Brien, senior columnist for "Bloomberg Opinion". He`s the author of the book "Trump Nation". Also with us John Heilemann, NBC News and MSNBC national affairs analyst and host of the "Hell and High Water" podcast from The Recount.
And John let me begin with you and what is apparently the end of Devin Nunes` career in the House of Representatives. Question one is, will he remain in Trump`s good graces for the rest of month so that when he quits the House of Representatives, he actually will have that job?
Question two is, how many months will he last in his new job with Donald Trump?
JOHN HEILEMANN, MSNBC NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I think there`s a chance, Lawrence, that he`ll remain in Trump`s good graces for the rest of the month only because it goes to a deeper question about what this is all about, which is I would say, humbly submit has nothing to do with starting a media company.
Our friend Tim Miller at first suggested that if this media company ever came about, it would be called Friendster for Bigots. And I will say now that I have -- I have a fairly high degree of confidence that there will never be a media company of any kind that will get formed in this way and that this is all some kind of a black bag job to get money and that Trump can somehow siphon some money away from people who are trying to curry favor with him in the way that Tim O`Brien has suggested in his piece. And I think it will never happen.
And the reason you know that is Devin Nunes is the CEO. In what world would an actual investor or anybody who was actually trying to start a social media platform make Devin Nunes the CEO? That`s the giveaway.
The giveaway is that the only reason Devin Nunes leaves from a position where he could likely be the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, like I think as you know, Lawrence is maybe the most powerful committee in the House, certainly the most powerful committee in the House -- maybe the most powerful committee on Capitol Hill if Congress -- Republicans take the House in 2022. He`s up to be the chairman of that so he`s leaving that. Why? He`s leaving that for money.
And that`s what I think all this is about is money. So will Nunes remain in his good graces for a month? Yes. How long? Shorter than you`ve been hosting this show.
O`DONNELL: All right. Tim O`Brien, this point of what company would ever have Devin Nunes as the CEO does seem like a pretty big reveal about what`s really going on here.
TIM O`BRIEN, "BLOOMBERG OPINION": Well, it has all the earmarks, Lawrence, of like a classic pump and dump scam. And it is rather amazing that the SEC is investigating this company before it`s even opened its doors.
[22:49:58] O`BRIEN: The whole logic is that Donald Trump`s political and digital mojo is so potent that a number of hedge funds and a perhaps larger number of undisclosed investors have put a bunch of money into this on the idea that they, I think, will ultimately separate a bunch of suckers from their wallets.
If this ever gets up and running, I think their idea is that it could be competitive with Twitter or Facebook and would benefit from all of Trump`s dexterity on social media.
But the reality is they don`t have a business plan, they have no financial projections. Devin Nunes` family ran a dairy farm. He has never run a media company.
But it already has a valuation of over $1 billion and Donald Trump is deeply indebted. He has over $1 billion in debt hanging over his current real estate and resort holdings. Some of that comes due fairly soon.
He`s personally guaranteed it. He`s feeling the squeeze. He`s selling off other assets. And then lo and behold, he gins up this little, I think, charade to convince people to plop money on his desk, and they have. And he will probably make out from that ok.
But anyone else who thinks they`re going to stick around this project for anything longer than 15 minutes and make money should have their heads examined, I think. And beyond the financial chicanery involved is there`s a national security threat here. On Saturday they disclosed that $1 billion in anonymous funds had been pledged to this operation. Steve Mnuchin, the former treasury secretary has already been out raising money from the Saudis successfully. Jared Kushner has been knocking on the Saudis` door.
Is there Saudi money behind this Trump venture? Possibly. And well, what does that mean. It means that he`s going to owe them if he gets back into the White House. And everybody knows that. He can be touched. He can be manipulated.
And so now we have this unusual circumstance in which a former president can use the public markets for political fundraising and influence peddling.
O`DONNELL: And John, what we saw in Donald Trump as president was you didn`t have to have already given him money for him to compromise himself for you. It looked like he was working every day to try to raise money in the future from the Saudis and others in future deals like possibly what he`s doing right now.
HEILEMANN: Well right. And you know, look, Tim will know more about Donald Trump`s business and knows more about Donald Trump`s businesses such as they are. I hesitate to even use the word "businesses" around them --
HEILEMANN: -- than you and I ever will. But yes, obviously -- operation, that`s very good. That`s a very good word for it.
And I think one of the things that I`ve learned from reading Tim over the years is that you can understand Donald Trump by following the red ink. You know, the debt problem always hangs over him. And whether it`s in his political career or in his prior career as an, again we`ll say operator, not a businessperson that the debt he incurs -- he`s just -- he`s a debt magnet.
He builds up debt, he manipulates debt, he`s lived in red ink forever. And if you follow it and know how to read it like a Rorschach, you can figure out pretty much what he`s up to.
I will -- I just -- I got to say again, I studied Tim`s work on this, and if this company ever exists, it will be more like a laundromat, Lawrence, than it will be like a social media company.
This is a laundromat. This is about how does the money that gets put into this firm allow Trump either to raise more money, raise further debt, service debt, somehow profiteer from this. And for the investors in it, I don`t think they think there`s any -- I just can`t believe there`s a real serious person and a hedge fund anywhere that thinks this is going to ever be a going concern. They`re just trying to buy access, influence, and power and sway with someone who they think, not unreasonably, could be president of the United States again.
O`DONNELL: So Tim, many people in the audience, along with me, are watching every episode of "Succession" on HBO. And so when you say SEC investigation, we don`t take it very seriously.
O`BRIEN: Well, you know, you don`t even need an investigation to just laugh this thing off as a stunt. The last time Donald Trump had his hands on a publicly-traded company was his casino -- were his casino holdings in Atlantic City.
And what happened there? He drove it off the cliff into bankruptcy several times. He only survived that because his father`s money backstopped him, but everyone else around him got burned. The banks got burned, the investors got burned, all of the employees at those casinos eventually lost their jobs, and a bunch of gigantic smoking craters were left in Atlantic City.
O`BRIEN: His track record does not speak to somebody who anybody else should trust with their money whether or not the SEC is investigating them.
O`DONNELL: Tim O`Brien and John Heilemann, thank you both for joining our discussion tonight. Always appreciate it.
HEILEMANN: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`BRIEN: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Tonight`s LAST WORD is next.
O`DONNELL: Programming note. On Friday MSNBC Films presents "PAPER AND GLUE" from Oscar-wining producers Brian Grazer and Ron Howard. The award- winning documentary follows French artist J.R. who spoke with Chris Hayes earlier this evening about his public art installations.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
J.R. ARTIST: I`ve been stating 20 years -- pasting (ph) in the street, nobody really looks at you. You look like -- nobody out there. So that was my biggest (INAUDIBLE) -- I`ll just be in the street and I`ll be pasting. Nobody --
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Whereas if you had a spray can.
J.R.: Spray can, they look at you --
HAYES: Someone is going to come up to you.
J.R.: Pasting, he looks like -- let him do the job, you know. And so I could just go in the middle of the day at rush hour and paste in front of anybody and people would not suspect that this was not legal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: You can see the world television premiere of "PAPER & GLUE" Friday at 10:00 p.m. Eastern right here on MSNBC.
That is tonight`s LAST WORD.
"THE 11TH HOUR WITH BRIAN WILLIAMS" starts now.