tv The Rachel Maddow Show MSNBC January 13, 2017 9:00pm-10:01pm PST
them. obama made it through this because he was offering more health care to people. i don't know what trump or the congressional republicans are going to be offering. >> very good point. philip klein, jess mcintosh, thank you for your time. before we go, one last special segment. both my kids are here and we have a house rule, they get to request any animal video they want when they're here. for my daughter, there's the black panther. that's cute. and for david the tiger hanging out with her through cubs at the san diego zoo. that's "all in" for this evening. now rachel maddow. good evening, rachel. >> have we taken a wholesale >> have we taken a wholesale family turn toward big cats? >> apparently we have. we go through different factions but that's what's in right now. >> i'm in a zebra face right now. i'm not your child but i'm saying if i come to you -- >> you have a show every night. you can put a zebra on any time you want, rachel maddow. >> by the time i get to e-block i might be there. thank you, my friend. thank you. thanks for joining us at this hour. big show tonight. we have presidential historian michael beschloss here. we have a repeat against who was here a few days ago that we got a huge response to when we had him on here on this show just last week, we have brought him back tonight, he'll be joining us from texas. there's also a lot of news breaking on very big stories into the evening tonight so this is one of those nights where
you're going to want to watch to the end because we're following a lot of developing stories. we're going to start in london. very famous murder in london. in 1978, they killed a guy on the waterloo bridge. he was waiting at a bus stop on waterloo bridge which is one of the big bridges that goes across the river thames in the middle of london and this guy was waiting at a bus stop, a man brushed past him while he was standing at the bus stop and the guy at the bus stop felt a sting on his leg. turns out the man who had brushed past him at the bus stop had killed him. there was a poison pellet, a pellet containing ricin that was loaded like a bullet into the tip of the umbrella and the guy walking past him on the bridge bumped into him with the umbrella. shot that pellet into the guy's leg, four days later the guy at the bus stop was dead. it was a targeted assassination. he was 49 years old. that happened in the next famous
one was in 2006. an ex-kgb officer who became a whistle-blower at home in russia. he became close to some of vladimir putin's political enemies. he was actually imprisoned at home in russia but he managed to survive that. he managed to get out of russia. in the year 2000, he got asylum in britain but by the year 2006 they had killed him in britain. he met with two men at an upscale hotel in a fancy neighborhood in london, he drank tea at that meeting. turns out they had put highly radioactive polonium-210 into the teapot. and soon he was dying. he was in the hospital suffering from acute radiation poisoning. all his hair gone, he was starting to turn a very unnatural color. he was dying and he made a deathbed statement from his hospital bed. he said "you may succeed in silencing one man, but the howls of protest from around the world will reverberate, mr. putin, in your ears for the rest of your
life." his deathbed statement. it took almost a decade for the british government to release a comprehensive report on that assassination, but when they did -- which was a year ago this week -- what they concluded was that that deathbed statement from alexander litvinenko was correct. he had named his murderer. britain concluded that in the judgment of this high level inquiry brought by the british government, they concluded that it was probably the case that the assassination of that russian dissident in the uk was directly ordered by vladimir putin. it's a big enough deal when your political opponents regularly turn up in jail or dead in your home country, when it comes to russian dissidents, though, when it comes to people who the russian intelligence services want did, russia has not been bound by its own national boundaries. in at least two high-profile i stances in britain, russian intelligence is believed to have
killed dissidents on british soil. yesterday we learned an ex-british spy, a russian-speaking former mi 6 agent who created that unverified dossier of supposed russian dirt on donald trump, yesterday we learned that ex-british spy has disappeared. we showed a little of this type last night, his business partner giving a very short very terse frankly scared-looking interview in which he said he would not comment on the whereabouts of his business partner, he would not comment on whether he or his business partner or their company had anything do with that dossier. he would not comment on anything related to this matter and that's it. but his business partner, the ex-spy, the author of that dossier going into hiding apparently for hiss own safety, that is starting to get -- it's starting to feel important. starting to get a little spooky. it didn't help when the russian embassy in britain tweeted today that you shouldn't think of this
guy as an ex-spy. the russian embassy and the uk tweeted this today "christopher steele's story, mi 6 officers are never ex." once a spy always a spy. take that as a threat? we don't know if anything that was in that dossier, that dossier published by buzzfeed, we don't know if any of it is true, none of it has been corroborated but today the british ambassador to russian who served in moscow while this ex-mi6 agent also in moscow, that former british ambassador came out today by name, not as an anonymous source and vouched for the credibility and reputation of this ex-spy. he said "he's not the kind of guy who makes stuff up." in terms of our own intelligence service, the director of national intelligence says our intelligence agencies have not made a determination about the veracity of those wild claims in
that dossier. if the informs information is false, this ex-spy who created that document, he may have gone into hiding because he has powerful enemies in the united states, he doesn't want our president coming after him somehow. if what's in the dossier is true, though, oar if what's in the dossier is even partially true the risk to him must be terrifying right? think about it. if any of that stuff is true, if he was able to get real information out of the russian government about what they had on donald trump and how they got it and how they were planning on using it then the russians right now are presumably rooting out his sources, figuring out who inside the russian government had access to that true information and gave that true information to this british spy. right?
from the russian government's perspective, they're now figuring out who were these traitors? who were these leakers? and russia has a history, both from the soviet era and from the putin era, they have a history of tracking down their enemies and disappearing them. sometimes by assassinating them by incredibly flamboyant spy movie style means. even in europe, even in the uk which happens to be where this ex-spy is from, where he lives, where his business is and where his business partner says he is now gone and he won't talk about the fact his partner has gone missing let alone where he might be. so stakes are high, right? stakes are also getting higher on this story for us in the u.s. as well. you may have seen this earlier today, in case you haven't. it's worth watching and not just reading the transcript or hearing about it. you should see the tape itself. this aired today for the first time on "meet the press daily" with chuck todd. watch. >> you have forged relationships with many presidents.
do you plan on trying to forge a relationship with donald trump? >> i believe in forgiveness, try people. it's going to be very hard. it's going to be very difficult. i don't see this president-elect as a legitimate president. >> you don't consider him a legitimate president. why is that? >> i think the russians participated in helping this man get elected and they helped destroy the candidacy of hillary clinton. i don't plan to attend the inauguration. it will be the first one that i miss since i've been in the congress. you cannot be at home with something that you feel that is wrong. >> that's going to send a big message to a lot of people in
this country. that you don't believe he's a legitimate president. >> i think there was a conspiracy on the part of the russians and others to help him get elected. that's not right. that's not fair. that's not the open democratic process. >> that is not the open democratic process. there was a conspiracy on the part of the russians and others to help him get elected. i think the russians participated in helping this man get elected. i do not see this president-elect as a legitimate president. it is one thing for people who didn't vote for donald trump, people who see themselves as political opponents of donald trump, it's one thing for folks to come out from that perspective and say they don't like that he was elected, they don't like the way he campaigned, that i don't like his plans for his administration but congressman john lewis of georgia is doing something different than that, right? he's not saying, you know, not
my president i didn't vote for you. he's questioning the legitimacy of donald trump's election based on the conclusions of the intelligence community that russia intervened to help trump win. this is not, again, john lewis saying he disagrees with trump as a politician, he's saying trump wasn't legitimately elected to the presidency and he shouldn't be treated like he was. that's an intense thing to say. that's on the nose. that's calling the question ofly the russian attack on the election has been so concerning particularly as we learn more about it. it would be a big deal for any leading democratic elected official to say that so bluntly, but coming from john lewis, coming from a man who was nearly killed fighting for voting rights in this country, him saying "this was not a free and fair election, this is not a legitimate election result, he was not legitimately elected, coming from john lewis it resonates even more than it would from anybody else. >> you're a man of action. you have been your whole life. you believe this president is
not legitimate. what would you tell young folks, young activists to do? >> i would say to young people and i will continue to say it today and during the next few days and we celebrate and commemorate the birthday of martin luther king jr. that when you see something that is not right, not fair, not just you have a moral obligation to do something. you cannot afford to be quiet or to be silent. >> so what should be done? what should nancy pelosi do? what should chuck schumer do? what should barack obama do? >> we must not be silent. >> congressman john lewis speaking today with chuck todd in remarks that have gone off like a proverbial political bomb not long after that interview was taped, not long after those remarks were first reported we started to get the first reports on capitol hill that something related to the story had gone wrong. something had gone a little haywire on capitol hill and we've got that story next,
including some very remarkable, very emotional tape from another member of congress. we've also got breaking news about what else has gone wrong in our country about this story. it's a developing story that continues into this evening. we've got that latest next. start by taking care of families for 70 years. earn the trust of 32 nfl teams. be there for america's toughest and help, when help is needed america's #1 isn't a status earned overnight. it's earned in every wash, and re-earned every day. tide, america's #1 detergent
yesterday the head of the fbi and the intelligence agencies did an all-senators briefing on russia's intervention in the u.s. presidential election. today they briefed all the members of the house and it was a closed-door meeting for members only but as soon as the democrats started coming out of that briefing room you could tell something had gone wrong in there. watch this. >> yes? can i help you? what do you want? >> reporter: how did it go today? >> it went fine. >> reporter: congressman, can you tell us anything about the discussion? >> no, it's classified and we
can't tell you anything. all i can tell you is the fbi director has no credibility. >> california congresswoman maxine waters plainly exasperated claiming the fbi director has no credibility. she was not asked about the fbi director, she volunteered that, got too mad to continue. threw up her hands and walked away. others members of congress came out of the meeting looking angry today. we have heard from a number of congressional democrats that the source of their anger was the fbi director james comey reportedly refusing to answer democrats' repeated questions about whether the fbi was investigating ties between donald trump's campaign and the russian government while the russian government was hacking into american political institutions and trying to influence our election. now we've got another new piece
of this and honestly it's a little unsettling. but you remember the british spy, the former mi6 guy who has now disappeared in britain apparently having gone into hiding for his own safety? that dossier he produced on donald trump and russia it has been widely reported that that ex-spy started collecting that information first on behalf of a republican client who was paying for that information until donald trump got the republican nomination for president. thereafter the paying client apparently became a democratic source -- we don't know who. but it was an unbroken period of several months in which this ex-spy was accumulating this information on donald trump and his ties in russia. it was allegedly from sources inside russia. again, this is not to assert anything about the vercity of the claims in the dossier. i don't know if any of that stuff is true and neither do you. the intelligence community itself says they cannot speak one way or the other to the
veracity of those claims. the director of national intelligence says they have not determined whether those claims are true. we don't know if any of it is true. but the first reporter who found this ex-spy, who found the guy putting together the dossier on donald trump and the russians, the first reporter who found him was david corn at "mother jones" magazine. he was the first person to report sort of vaguely on the existence of this dossier. david corn did not report any of the salacious details from the dossier that are out there now but he did publish that right before the election and david corn today has now published for the first time his interview with the ex-british spy who compiled all this information. david corn says in writing up this interview that the ex-spy did not particularly enjoy talking to the press, that he doesn't want to be a public person, he took mains in his discussions with david corn that david should never reveal too much about him but he did tell us one really, really, really important new thing. he says he started collecting this information on trump and russia on behalf of a private research firm in the u.s. that
was, again, first financed by a republican source, later financed by a democratic source. the important thing david corn just added to this story today because he got this interview on record with the spy who made this dossier before the guy disappeared and went into hiding, the important thing david corn taught us today, the thing he added to this story is that regardless of who was paying for that information. regardless of whether it was a republican source or democratic source, regardless of the fact that it was an american research firm that hired him to do the investigation, eventually this ex-british spy collecting the info, he decided what he was finding out about trump and russia was sufficiently concerning to him that he
decided this couldn't continue as just some private firm political opposition research exercise. the ex-spy, the guy collecting the information, decided this was important enough that it needed real attention from people in a position to do something about it and in the sum they are past summer during the election campaign this past summer this ex-spy who was collecting all this information? he gave it to the fbi. he handed over that information directly to the fbi. this former spy said that the -- he soon decided the information he was receiving was sufficiently serious for him to forward it to contacts he had at the fbi. he did this he said without permission from the american firm that had hired him. he told david corn "this was an extraordinary situation." within a few weeks, according to david corn's reporting, the fbi responded to him and asked him for information about his sources in putting together this dossier so think about that for a second. this summer during the campaign while the fbi director was breaking long-standing policy in order to go public with his lengthy derogatory public commentary on the fbi's investigation into hillary clinton's e-mails, even after the fbi determined no charges
should be brought against her from that investigation, at the same time he was doing that, the fbi, his agency, also had in its possession information from a trusted, friendly, known quantity british ex-mi6 agent which indicated at least just at the surface level that the republican candidate for president had not only been put in a position where he could be blackmailed by the russian government but his campaign was actively colluding with the russian government to basically commit espionage against the united states and help russia attack our country. the fbi had that information as of this summer. and was making inquiries about it. but publicly they didn't see beep about it. even as they repeatedly said all sorts of things about their ultimately fruitless investigation into hillary clinton's e-mails. i mean, had the fbi looked into what was in that dossier and found that it was all patently false, they could tell us that now, right? i mean, the dossier has now been publicly released.
if the fbi looked into it and found it was all trash there's no reason they can't tell us that now. they're not telling us that now. they're not saying that. they're not saying anything. first of all, james comey, the director of the fbi has broken all the rules now in terms of what can be said, what can be disclosed to the public about a current investigation, even one involving a high-profile political figure. he broke those rules for this campaign in a way that very seriously hurt hillary clinton's chances of being elected president. he already broke those rules so once those rules are broken we know he can say whatever he wants about an investigation. second of all, the director of national intelligence has come out and said "we don't know if all that stuff in the dossier is true." if the fbi had, in fact, assessed that stuff and found it to be untrue, if they had found it to be false the fbi could say so. but they're not saying anything. and according to david corn's interview with the ex-spy who produced the information, they've had that stuff since this summer. what is going on with our fbi?
tonight after saying for weeks that there would be no senate or house investigation of this matter, the senate intelligence committee finally said, yeah, we'll look into this. senate intelligence committee said tonight they now are going to look into russian cyber activity and other measures directed against the united states including in the 2016 presidential election. importantly, they also say they'll look into counterintelligence concerns related to russia and the 2016 election, including any intelligence regarding links between russia and individuals associated with political campaigns. as recently as this morning the republican chair of the intelligence committee said he wouldn't look into any of that. he had no interest in doing an investigation into any of that, particularly into anybody involved in a political campaign and what they might have done. he said "it's the fbi that ought to do that kind of investigation."
as of this morning that was his line. as of tonight, yes, there's an investigation. this story has been sort of a -- more or less nebulous worry cloud since russia hacking the dnc became evident this past summer. but with these developments today, all of a sudden this is starting to feel like a life-and-death story. all of a sudden this is starting to feel like the most important political story certainly in the world with one week to go before we are supposed to swear in donald trump as president of the united states. watch this space.
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horrible relationship with russia. if putin likes donald trump, guess what, folks? that's called an asset not a liability. >> what's your reaction to russia interfering in our election to help you win? answer, well, they helped me win so obviously that's good. we have been watching this story unspool in more or less surreal terms for months now. as of today it feels like it finally came completely off the spindle. >> let's hope for the best. let's hope any further investigation will remove all doubt that the russians were not successful in affecting policy in the united states as they affected the politics in the united states, you've heard me say long before any of these briefings i wonder what the russians have on donald trump that they are so insistent on his election.
>> let's he for the best, says nancy pelosi. tonight one week before the inauguration, senate intelligence committee announced an investigation attacking our election, including intelligence regarding links between russia and individuals associated with political campaigns. this is where you want, like, a historian to tell you "don't worry, don't worry, this only feels unprecedented. but we've been through something like this before." michael beschloss, nbc news presidential historian. should we not worry, not worry? does this only feel unprecedented? have we been through something like this before? >> no, not -- a little like this, rachel but maybe not entirely. in modern times, no, we have not had a situation where a new president comes in and there's already an investigation beginning although 1973 when richard nixon was coming in for his second term there was something that, as you know, was called the senate select
committee on presidential campaign activities and the purpose of that was to investigate whether richard nixon and the people around him had done being things during the '72 campaign to get himself reelected. >> have we ever had a situation in the past where it wasn't just political epithets, it wasn't just something people said casually as a way of insulting one another but there was an actual investigation, a substantive concern, about whether or not a presidential campaign might have been colluding with a hostile foreign power? >> nothing close to this. if you're really reaching far, george washington fired his second secretary of state who was a guy named edmund randolph under suspicion that randolph was an agent of the french but nothing like this. >> michael, in terms of this next week as we head toward this inauguration, within of the
things that i have noticed and i know that you've thought about this? historical terms is how deeply unpopular this president is, this incoming president is skpared to other recent incoming presidents. when barack obama, george w. bush, bill clinton, people like that, his immediate predecessors were coming in at this time, they were viewed roughly positively. that's not the case for donald trump. this investigation presumably isn't going to help that. can you contextualize that for us? how unique that is? >> i think it is unique and i think donald trump has missed a big opportunity the last couple of months because usually, especially if you have a president who comes in with a pretty modest electoral college majority as he has and big popular vote loss, almost three million votes, usually a president like that will do things like appoint a number of people from the opposite party to his cabinet. talk about unity, do other
things that comfort people who did not vote for him but i think it's hard for even the most ardent trump partisan to say that during the last couple of months he's done that and the result has been there was a gallop poll today saying this has been the most unpopular presidential transition in all the time they've recorded those things. >> michael beschloss, nbc news presidential historian. before i say good night, let me say thank you for being such a great resource for us. we are more than ever looking for historical precedents and historical analogies to understand what's been going on and you've been such a great resource for us and my staff. we're grateful. >> that's so kind of you. thank you, rachel. a big news night this friday night, please do stay with us. '. i can stay. i'm good.
what's the best way to get v8 or a fancy juice store?s? ready, go! hi, juice universe? one large rutabaga, with eggplant... done! that's not fair. glad i had a v8. the original way to fuel your day. in the spring of 2015, before he was even a presidential candidate, the man who's now the incoming president traveled to charleston, south carolina, and he gave a speech. now this was almost two years ago, nobody was paying all that much attention to him at that point. that speech got no national attention but he said something that caught the attention of the local press while he was there. he said he had made an investment in charleston, south carolina. but he wouldn't say what it was. which was the charleston "post and courier" later that day. "trump says he already has invested in something in the charleston region. he declined to elaborate. the "post and courier" quoted
him saying "i'll announce it at the appropriate time, it's very interesting." honestly, nobody knew what he was talking about, nobody outside of charleston really cared what he was talking about but now, now we know what he was talking about. and it turns out he's right, it is have interesting. and the thing is, now it's national news. this is such a weird story. it is clear as a well, it is driving republicans bananas and it comes up as our final story tonight. stay with us for that. when my doctor told me i have age-related macular degeneration, amd, he told me to look at this grid every day. and we came up with a plan to help reduce my risk of progression, including preservision areds 2. my doctor said preservision areds 2 has the exact nutrient formula the national eye institute recommends to help reduce the risk of progression of moderate to advanced amd after 15 years of clinical studies. preservision areds 2.
but my back pain was making it hard to sleep and open up on time. then i found aleve pm. the only one to combine a sleep aid plus the 12 hour pain relieving strength of aleve. now i'm back. aleve pm for a better am. seven days out from inauguration day, hundreds of thousands of spectators and well wishers are expected in d.c., as are hundreds and thousands of protesters, all at the same time. everybody be nice to each other, okay? but you don't to wait to the inauguration itself to see what this is going to look like. tomorrow, saturday, about 25,000 people are expected to descend on the national mall for a huge civil rights march, also in d.c. tomorrow, there's an immigrants' rally, undocumented immigrants and immigration rights activists from across the country are bussing into d.c. to take part in the final big immigration rally while president obama is still in office. that's saturday. on sunday it's the day of action
congressional democrats that the source of their anger was the fbi director james comey reportedly refusing to answer republican or democrat to reject the agenda of the incoming president mr. levin, great to have you with us, thanks for being back. >> thanks so much for having me. >> so we've been watching online at your web site and in the ways that we can see you on social media. can you tell us since we last talk to you a week and a half or so ago what has happened in terms of your organizing efforts? in terms of the number of people signing up to do this work? >> it's been absolutely phenomenal. the web site has been up for all of one month. we've had four million page views. we've had about half a million people download the guide. 116,000 people have signed up with their zip codes and e-mail addresses in every single congressional district in the country and most excitingly i'm about to break a little bit of news tonight, we've had 3,002
groups register on the web site. this is extraordinarily exciting, not just because that's a large number but because they're actually taking action. they're meeting themselves in person and going to their congressional offices in their home districts and states. >> in the guide -- because it is really a how-to guide -- you spell out basically how to form an organization. you tell people "join an existing group if there is one near you that aligns with your values. if not, if you're starting something, here's some first steps to reach people. ask people to co-found it with you, have your first meeting and then start planning your actions." now you're talking about 3,000 different groups. are people generally following those steps you guys suggested? they're meeting first and immediately getting out there and targeting members of congress or are people doing a bunch of different things? >> that's right. they're doing it and not waiting for us. this is a movement that is being led at the ground level.
we're seeing places like indivisible austin bring together 150 people to figure out how to resist the trump agenda and setting up times to says it have with their local members of congress. we've been urging folks this mlk weekend to start out by meeting with their groups locally and make a plan to go to your local district offices on the 17th, 18th, or 19th of next week and make it clear to that member of congress that from day one of the trump administration you're going to be watching them and making sure they resist the trump agenda. >>ess ezra levin, one of the authors of the indivisible guide. this is a phenomenon you have started here. i hope you don't mind if we keep checking back in with you to see how things are going. >> it would be great. we're just trying to help, it really the people on the ground who started this. >> great. ezra levin from the indivisible guide, thank you. we'll be right back, stay with us.
this show is staphed by a very differently army of weirdos and nerds. one of the things i have learned about our army of weirdos and nerds is that anything any time we're doing results in us having to explore a super creepy abandoned industrial site we consider that to be a good day in news research. we don't get to spend nearly as much time as we would like to on this show prowling around places like this full of rotting chemical drums and broken roofs. tonight our moment has come, get your boots, get your head lamp. you get to come. we'll be right back.
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when nissan wanted people to forget they made teeny toy-sized trucks in the '80s they named their first full-size truck "the titan." to drive home their truck is big, it's huge. it's a titan. but in greek mythology, the titans were people, they were a race, a family of giants. one of the titans was a dude named atlas. he was huge and strong like the other titans, but the reason we associate him with the globe and with maps is because atlas was condemned for eternity to hold up the sky. the titans went to war with zeus and the olympians, titans lost. atlas' punishment was hey, you, giant guy, you have to hold up the sky forever. so atlas, holding up the sky, he was a titan. that's why it was a little weird when in 2010, a got founded in south carolina and it named itself titan atlas. that's weird because atlas was a titan. something calling something titan atlas is if like if mcdonald's asked you to order by mcdonald ham everything burger. but of course it sounds big and
strong. and sometimes people who want to seem big and strong they overcompensate. so titan atlas was the company. as a company they ended up being neither big nor strong. they were based in south carolina. they made panels that could be used in pre-fab buildings. the guy that started the company took a multimillion-dollar loan to get the business off the ground but it didn't work out. in a few years it went bankrupt and then something important happen, donald trump came in and saved them. interesting, right? right before titan atlas was going to default on its loan and have the bank presumably repossess the building they had, donald trump bailed them out. formed a company, took over the $3.5 million loan the business couldn't pay. took over the building their business was based in and it all became his. the reason he bailed them out,
he took over this bankrupt company and took over their property in south carolina is because titan atlas was founded by his son. donald trump swooped in and rescued titan atlas from everything other than the shame of its name because that particular failed business venture was his son's failed business venture. here's why it is all of our "titanic" problem. because that building,s the site of that company is apparently a mess, a business that rented space on that building said the roof leaked so bad all the merchandise was destroyed in a rainstorm, even though the stuff was inside the building when the storm happened. barry meyer from the "new york times" wrote about the site
saying it was littered with rusting equipment and rotting chemical drones. this is a seven-acre derelict factory site that may have serious pollution problems. the incoming president not only owns it but wants to redevelop it. it becomes our problem because the state of south carolina has to decide what to do about this. you can't redevelop and rent some place if it is full of toxic pollution, right? that wouldn't be okay. but if it is not your pollution, if you had nothing to do with it, no connection to the previous owners who polluted the place, than under south carolina law you are not responsible for cleaning up that pollution. the state, the taxpayers, they may step in and pay for the cleanup. but they are clear they don't want you to pull off a scam here. you can't pollute the place and then switch the name of your company and pretend you had nothing to do with the terrible old company that left such a terrible,ance expensive mess. you can't do.
because of that in south carolina this is national business because trump filed an application with the state of south carolina saying, yeah, actually this site, the taxpayers need to come in and pay to clean up pollution here. if there's any pollution here, i had nothing to do with it. i have no connection with the previous owners of this company. i have no connection to them. to be clear, the previous owner of the previous company was his son. it was donald trump jr. but the state of south carolina has to decide if they believe the incoming in president has no connection to donald trump jr. who he bailed out. if the south carolina government decides to buy the argument and there is no connection between donald trump and donald trump jr., than the taxpayers of south carolina will be on the hook for the environmental mess that needs to be cleaned up here. if the south carolina government decides not to buy that argument, than the incoming president will have to pay for that cleanup himself. think about this. the incoming president has a personal, financial stake in this matter reviewed by south carolina. there are state government officials in that state right now who have to decide if they will buy this spectacular argument that donald trump has no connection with his own son and therefore the taxpayers of
south carolina must be on the hook for any pollution his son left behind in their state. they have to decide if they will buy that argument. you think the taxpayers will get a fair shake here? you think any fear or fever is likely to play a role until this decision about the president's wallet? we talked to the trump organization. they told us a couple of things that didn't really check out. first of all, they said the deal is settled and complete, over and done. nothing for the state of south carolina to decide. that was a surprised to the state of south carolina who said they haven't executed a contract with the incoming president's company. trump organization told us this whole fight isn't about donald trump jr.'s bankrupt company. it's about other companies that have owned the property in the
past. news to south carolina. south carolina told us they haven't agreed to that interpretation of things. thaw told us when assessing donald trump's connections with previous companies that own the site they would look at the past en0ership change for the property which includes donald trump jr. this is a lousy position to put these poor people in the state of south carolina. forget taxpayers being on the hook for the pollution. people that work in government in south carolina are asked to make a decision about donald trump's income, about donald trump's profit or loss on his financial bottom line. how can they make that decision fairly when he's going to be the president? what will the president do to them if they decide against him? decisions by government are not supposed to materially affect
the president's personal income. this week, the president elect announced with great fanfare he is not divest veing from his businesses and doesn't feel he has to. that he said the president elect hasn't consulted the ethics office and the president elect's plan would not avoid financial conflicts of interest. of course it won't. having donald jr. try to dump pollution costs on the state of south carolina will not relieve the people of south carolina from the mess they are in anymore than having don sr. make that instead. this is a mess. this is not hypothetical. this is happening right now. south carolina has to make this decision. so far republicans in congress do not care. the republicans sign off on trump's ethics plan. so far the only response from republicans in washington to this unprecedented ethics
problem for the new administration their only response has been to threaten to subpoena and implicitly threaten the funding of the government of ethics guy. it's not going to work. just ask south carolina. think of the south carolina government officials trying to make the decision whether or not donald trump would have to pay for this thing. it is not going to work. not going to work to attack an ethics office, instead of grappling with the ethics problems that are why ethics offices like these exist. they tried to get away with it. the night before the new congress was formed. they tried to get rid of the office of congressional ethics. they had to reverse that and pretend they never tried it. they are going after the office of government ethics that oversees the executive branch. it's not going to work. they are going to have to u-turn on that too. this is not a little thing.
the ethics issues are not settled. we are one week from the inauguration and this is big and it's going to get bigger, like titan atlas bigger. watch this space. that does it for us tonight. see you again on monday. time for "the last word with lawrence o'donnell". congratulations on having david tonight. >> i was going to break that to