tv The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell MSNBC February 21, 2017 10:00pm-11:01pm PST
is worth following from an american perspective because of the open question as to whether the justice department and the trump administration is going to go after putin's friends. whether the trump administration justice department would go after a putin-linked person. would they let it slide? we still still don't know if he's facing charges. it got weird today in the courthouse elevator. we'll stay on it. i dot know. watcthis space. that does it it for us tight, we'll see you again. now time for the last word with lawrence o'donnell. >> special guest tonight, someone who donald trump spent some serious time campaigning to have fired from fox news. >> aw. >> campaigned that apparently is successful. >> oh. well, you know, the people who he has inveighed against, it's a good group of people. >> there's a badge of honor in that. one of them will join us. thank you, rachel. so, donald trump knows what he wants us to talk about
tonight. you can always tell what a politician wants you to talk about because they have photo ops designed to force you to talk about that, but there are so many other important things for us to talk about tonight and we will be doing that. but one thing you can say about donald trump so far e he has made congressional town halls great again. >> anti-semitism is horrible. >> too little, too late. >> he should have done this thursday. >> sno matter how many times he talks about this, it's never good enough. >> i am the least anti-semitic person that you've ever seen in your entire life. >> there is a cancer of anti-semitism growing in this white house. president trump and steve bannon are leading it. >> notorious white nationalist, special advisor to the president would like to know your thought owns that. >> members of congress facing
tough qutions. >> there was overwhelming evidence that a foreign country was meddling in r election. >> why didn't you pick someone with a commitment to quality public education? >> not coming back, and now these people don't have the insurance they need. >> obamacare, improve it. >> if you can answer any of that, i'll sit down and shut up like elizabeth warren. >> it is time to put country over party. [ applause ] >> we know what the president wants us to talk about tonight, and we know what the president doesn't want us to talk about tonight. he's not going to get his way on this program. presidency that has become so inva lant that it makes the last 70-year-old in the white house look like an unstoppable force of energy. donald trump had exactly one thing on his schedule today, and he got that out of the way first thing in the morning when he had a photo op at the national museum of african american
history and culture. photo ops are the way politicians tell you they are hoping what you will talk about. photo op is a manipulation that politicians in trouble are always are hoping the will change the trouble. the most unpopular first month president in the history of polling. president trump was so desperate to change the subject today he actually set foot in a museum. something he may never have voluntarily done before in his adult life with the possible exception of attending glamorous parties in new york museums where he would have had the choice of gazing upon the beautiful women, or the art. which do you suppose he chose? donald trump brought his serious face to the museum today to try to convince observers he was interested in the subject that he has never actually been interested in, african american history and culture.
that would be a story worth talking about, the presidential candidate enthusiastically supported by the neonazi groups visits the national museum of african american history and culture, it's not a great story for donald trump because he knows it brings up all of his own past racist issues as a landlord, as an attacker of barack obama because barack obama is black, and all of the aid and comfort he has given to white supremacist groups. donald trump knew that all of that stuff would be thrown into the coverage of his museum coverage today, he believed it was worth it. if it could change the subject from even worse stories for donald trump. the stories he doesn't want us to talk about. the news that although donald trump has found a new national security advisor, he still has the incompetent and reckless and racist steve bannon as a current member of the national security council. the president doesn't want us
talking about that, he doesn't want us talking about impeachment at town halls it that is coming. the president doesn't want us talking about his mental health which is now being publicly diagnosed by psychologists and psychiatrists. two of whom will join us tonight. he doesn't want us talking about the 25th amendment which the vice president can use to remove a mentally ill president. he doesn't want us talking about the gridlock of his legislative agenda, the complete failure of the republican congress to make any progress at all on tax cuts, on repealing and replacing obamacare, on funding a wall on the southern border. he certainly doesn't want anyone to hear a single word of what george will thinks of him, the conservative columnist who donald trump urged fox news to fire and so you will hear from george will tonight in his first appearance on this program. before we get to all of that, let's take a quick look at what donald trump had to say today at the tial museum of african american history and culture.
and you will see that every word comes from the hard. the heart of whoever wrote his prepared remarks. >> this tour is a meaningful reminder of why we have to fight bigotry, intolerance, and hatred in all of it's very ugly forms. the anti-semitic threats targeting our jewish community and community centers are horrible. and are painful, and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil. >> and on the same day, here's how donald trump legislative agenda is playing in ohio at senator chuck grassley's town hall.
>> with all do respect, sir, you're the man that talked about the death panel. >> yep. >> we're going to create one great big death panel in this country that people can't afford to get insurance. >> joining us now, david corn, and msnbc political analyst and steve olstein, the anne frank center for mutual respect. david, we know what the photo op was about today, it was about changing the subject, but it turns out, even there, it's impossible to change the subject to a subject that is just positive for donald trump. that has no other side of the coin that does his damage -- does him damage. >> that's because he has this long record. it was only five days ago that he was basically telling a jewish journalist who was asking about anti-semitism at that wonderfully unhinged press conference to essentially sit down and shut up. only a week or so back, two weeks ago that the white house -- who used the word jews, in it's statement issued on
holocaust remembrance day. so he goes to work each day, it's steve bannon. is donald trump in any kind of museum. >> it's remarkable. and what's more remarkable about donald trump's appearance today was his complete tin ear to the perception that is accurate that he's anti-semitic. there donald trump was this morning, and he expected like most orders to part because he said anti-semitism was bad. donald trump quacks, walks, and talks like an anti-semite.
>> what's an example. >> he hired steve bannon. steve bannon is notorious. donald trump refused to include jews and holocaust remembrance. denying jews had a particular hurt in the holocaust is nothing short of denial. this weekend our organization and others begged donald trump, begged him to comment on the bombing, the bomb threats of jcc. he wouldn't do it. he wouldn't talk about the desecration of 170 jewish cemeteries in st. louis. what happened today, lawrence, as you said, he read soullessly this statement, anti-semitism is a very bhing and jewish person like myself who has a conscience should be shocked. here's a man who doesn't know how to stick to a teleprompter. today he did because he probably couldn't say the words from his heart.
>> let's look at what happened to chuck grassley today where impeachment came up at a town hall, a republican senator's town hall in iowa. >> who brought up impeachment? >> senator, i did. >> go ahead. >> first of all, i want to apologize for being so outspoken, i am so unsettled. it feels like we have a juvenile running our country. >> here, here. [ applause ] >> david, there's a polite of impeachment on what is it day? >> i don't think there's a lot of talk about it being premature. i will tell you, i get this in the green room here at the tv studio. elected republicans or professional republicans consulting staffers that they think donald trump and they think there are issues that
cause them to be a frightening leader. and they, you know, all believe that there's a certain amount of craziness going on. now, will any of them really say that publicly? no. they're running scared. they're afraid this weekend, john mccain took sort of baby steps towards calling trump is dictator or a crack pot. because of his attacks on the media. by and large there's little courage in terms of talking about that openly as you just saw in the -- like you just saw. >> now these people don't have the health insurance they need. they're sick.
the veterans are sick. the veterans are broken down. they're not getting what they need. if you can answer any of that i'll sit down and shut up like elizabeth warren. >> and steven, you worked in the senate and the house. you know when these guys come back and this is all taken very seriously. as much as they might want to make it look like the people attacking them it's not any senator who walks out of that town hall meeting and doesn't take what happened with that woman seriously. >> lawrence, you know as well as i do that when a senator or representative gets three e-mails or three letters, it's the equivalent of ten million. >> they get a pounce every day.
>> report from the mail room. used to be letters coming to washington, phone call and no profession listens to the last person in their ear as much as politicians. right now mitch mcconnell is having a total meltdown. maybe the republic will be safe because of it. and they are discussing a fact -- >> it's part of the gridlock. town hall meetings like that explain why mitch mcconnell has done nothing on obamacare and has no plan for it. >> impeachment against donald trump. it's going to have to happen in the first year. republicans are going to want the second year to recover. so something will happen soon. >> for the congressionals. >> for sure. >> steven, thank you very much for joining us tonight. appreciate it. coming up, the guests for tonight's segment on the 25th amendment are two mental health experts. one has a petition saying that the 25th amendment should be invoked to remove donald trump and install mike pence has the acting president on the grounds that donald trump is mentally unfit to serve as president. but our next guest is the phrase maker who coined the term, political sociopath for donald trump.
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when the trump for president campaign started, rupert murdoch, the owner operator of fox news reacted like most people thinking it was a bad joke and an embarrassment. his first tweet about it was after the trump announcement. he defended mexican immigrants against accusations about the criminal behavior and ended with the simple message, trump wrong. about a week later, when donald trump insulted john mccain for being a prisoner of war, saying, quote, i like people who weren't captured, rupert murdoch tweeted, when is donald trump going to stop embarrassing his friends, let alone the whole country? we now know the answer to that question is never. and in the meantime, rupert murdoch embarrassed himself and fox news and the wall street journal and the post by
reversing his position on candidate trump and using every one of those media outlets he owns to support the trump candidacy and now the trump presidency. to the point that an editorial writer was recently let go for being consistently anti-trump. while, of course, being consistently conservative. any thoughtful conservative has known from the start that it is impossible to be both conservative and pro-trump. and that is why it has been impossible for shows like this to book intellectually honest supporters of donald trump. they don't exist. syndicated columnist george f. will is the inheriter of the leading commentator and the most pro-stylist among them. throughout the trumpampaig george will became an increasingly lonely voice of fox news by refusing to bend his conservative principles to find something positive to say about donald trump. george will has been anti-trump
from the start, the start being, the 2012 campaign cycle when donald trump threatened to run for president. that's when george will called trump a political sociopath. here is some of what george will had to say on fox news. >> donald trump doesn't do evidence. he's a one trick pony. he consists of saying i'm rich, everyone who disagrees with me is stupid and all of our problems are simple if you'll put me in charge. donald trump is a con artist and a clown act. >> the day after the trump inauguration, fox news confirmed that george will's contract was not being renewed. rupert murdoch stopped tweeting about donald trump in the middle of the presidential campaign. he was last seen entering trump tower on january 15th when he obtained an interview with donald trump for the times of london.
murdoch-owned newspaper. when he is looking for a friendly question, he knows to look where the murdoch-owned press corps is sitting. the story of rupert murdoch's conversion to trumpism is part of the story of conservative republicans conversion to trumpism, paul ryan's conversion, mitch mcconnell's conversion to trumpism and guide us through a discussion of how republican conservatism we are joined by george f. will, syndicated columnist and former republican. welcome to the last word, happy to have you here. tell us about that middle of the summer moment where you broke with the republican party and iowa nounsed you were leaving the party. what got you to that point? >> actually, it was on the second of june, i remember it well, paul ryan for his own reasons in responding to his own pressures and i'm not judging
him about this. he endorsed mr. trump and the next morning i went in and change midregistration because if paul ryan, the very best of the republican party was going to help normalize donald trump, then i felt the party was going somewhere i did not want to go. >> how do you trace that conversion? that what happened to paul ryan, what happened to rupert murdoch. what happened to what you've seen happen to mitch mcconnell and so many others over the course of the last year? >> well, like, i sympathize with the congressional party. they have their own corporate duties and the presidency is not everything. you know, the presidency is not all of the federal government, the federal government isn't all of american governments, and american government isn't all of american life. so mr. trump is a small part of this. larger than perhaps we wish he
were, but the modern presidency has become swollen beyond all the founders recognitions. but that being so, mr. mcconnell and mr. ryan have their own duties and imperatives and people to lead i sam a free agent. i do not have to do that. i've spent 40 years at the project of that bill buckley began in the mid1950s, of making american conservatism intellectually coherent and politically palettable. that is incompatible with the trump presidency. >> and as you look back on the history of the republican party and the conservative movement, do you see now any signs of the seeds being planted here or there for what eventually gave us donald trump as a republican nominee and now a republican president? >> i don't. i think he's called factor. something that swooped in from god knows where. take for example mr. bannon. he is a recognizable phenomenon. he's a continental european right winger.
blood, soil, throne, alter, all the rest. there really is no american pedigr for that kind of thought. this is, this is -- i hate to use the word to a protectionist president, this is an import from europe. >> george, you suffered the trump assaults on twitter that were nonstop including at a certain point, him saying on twitter, fox news should fire george will. did you ever feel a pressure coming from fox news about that issue? >> no one at fox ever tried to reign me in. it's an analog here. when i went to work in my first job in washington journalism was washington as bill buckley's national review. i began that in january 1972, watergate cover-up was about to unravel. and will buckley stuck with me. very quickly decided that richard nixon was guilty and eventually watergate would be traced to the oval office. bill buckley never once tried to restrain me, although i was hurting him with the
contributors who helped keep national review and no one ever pressured me. no one anticipated the kovrng of the cleveland republican convention. that's their decision. no one ever approached me about that and i have nothing but fond memories. but, there were some awkward friction. just the finest review of i've read of an o'reilly book in what he considered to be the most vicious and unfair possible terms. and it's hard to imagine they're not being some kind of tensions in the hall. i'm sure that there are lots of tensions in the hallways at the news corps in new york, i gather. >> i think that there is a o'reilly factor at fox news, and
i certainly got cross wise with them. but that's my job is to do things like at. i mean, one of the projects of the american left has been to discredit ronald reagan. they got an enormous assist from bill o'reilly's perversely named book "killing reagan." i read it, more than o'reilly's done, decided it was an outrage and acted accordingly. >> what happens now to george will conservatives? george will republicans and/or former republicans. as you approach future ballots of people who are supporters of donald trump on the ballot as republicans or donald trump of the reelection? >> well, donald trump has to perform now. the next thing he has to do is submit a budget. when the budget comes up, calling for a trillion dollar in infrastructure spending, a tax cut that will lose by bipartisan
assessment $5.8 trillion over a decade plus an increased military spending, plus protection which means government which americans can at what prices and what's called economic planning and crony capitalism and the rest. when that budget comes out, people are either going to rediscover their conservative convictions or there's going to be a banquet, a feast of people eating words they've spoken for 30 years. i watch -- i'll tell you who to watch. watch congressman meadows from north carolina. he's the head of the freedom caucus. freem caus is what howard dean when he represented the democratic party. they represent. republican wing of the republican party. and i think you'll find that at that point, conservatism begins to rediscover itself. >> so would it be the $9 trillion increase in the national debt that is right
there in the budget documents that they've already filed? is that the thing we're going to be hearing about the most? >> that'll get your attention, certainly. but, again, i think when they realize all that you embrace when you embrace protectionism, enormous executive discretion, the government planning essentially what we can consume and how the economy will work and who should be losers, when they realize the slippery slope they're on, away from bedrock conservative principles, i think things will change by mid-summer. >> and someone might have to remind them that tariffs are in fact, there are sales taxes on americans that are consumer and i have a feeling that george will columns might be reminding them of that. >> conservatives will have to decide whether they really want a new screen to the federal government.
>> george f. will, thank you very much for joining us. really appreciate your first appearance here on the show. >> glad to be with you. coming up, the mental health professionals who are worried about president trump's fitness to serve. but grandma, we use charmin ultra soft so we don't have to wad to get clean. charmin ultra soft gets you clean without the wasteful wadding. it has comfort cushions you can see that are softer... ...and more absorbent, and you can use up to 4 times less. enjoy the go with charmin. could save money on car insurance.nce you know, the kind of driver who always buckles up...
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incompetent conspiracy theorist general mike flynn who was the president's first choice for national security advisor. would ever want to include steve bannon. and that issue came up. at sean spicer's press briefing. >> if he advises the president not to have the chief strategist as part of the principle's committee, would the president -- >> the president has made clear to him, as i said, he's got full authority to structure the national security team the way he wants. the recommendation and take that under serious consideration. >> joining us now, david corn still with us. david, i heard two answers there from sean spicer, says the president has made it clear that he has full authority to structure the national security
team the way he wants. and the president and serious consideration. but even with the double answer, it's not a good day for steve bannon when you get a competent professional person into that job to take the place of flynn who was more than happy to have steve bannon in the room. >> shortly after the national security team was sworn in for the first time, i had lunch with a long time veteran of u.s. intelligence and defense matters. and who was actually present. he was somebody who had begun as a trump supporter. the council had a strong smell of iran conflict about it. what he meant was a lack of process, a lot of freelancing and failure of people on the security council understand what it's for. the national security council does not exist to execute policy, but to deliberate about policy.
but meanwhile, bannon has been having a back channel to friendly allies like the german ambassador and has been expressing his view and perhaps the president's that the eu would be better off smashed into pieces to make it more vulnerable to russian aggression. and thats something at people have to take seriously. >> and david corn, that's at the same time that mike pence is telling the europeans we're with you 100%? >> usually the trump foreign policy and foreign policy. there's no core principles or convictions, so you have a conventional military veteran coming in as national security advisor. who probably draws within the lines. and then you have steve bannon who who is really completely out there and more importantly, jared kushner with no experience. really donald trump who has no clear idea and sort of pops into his head.
during the campaign, you can have him literally saying on the night that mike pence is big convention speech that he would basically grow apart, nato, and then paul manafort would say, that's not what he said. of course it was what he said. so now, latest today as david fully behind nato and the eu. big problem for the national security advise you can see if he and form of coherence. >> lost control in the senses that we're talking about. there's also the model of dick cheney operation.
and would be convicted criminal defendant who had him sought the mercy of the president and of these kinds of offbook operations. he got a really rotten deal, he was not the source of the leak for which he was punished with, >> he lied to the fbi. >> that's never a wise idea. but the investigation is -- >> got the same al everybody gets when he gets caught lying to the fbi. david, please go ahead. >> the difference with dick cheney is he was the vice president of the united states. they were operating within a channel. within a kind of process. the results may have been good or bad, but they were not a -- you were not running dual foreign policies within the same building the way they were during iran and the way that is happening now. where the formal policy of the
united states is that we the eisenhower administration. and who's policy? the people talk about this though as, you know, if the president and the defense secretary and the national security advisor have a deep disagreement and they can't resolve it. that's not the way it works. and the national security advisor and secretary of defense and additional one, the president tends to prevail. >> david, what do you suppose the shelf life is for donald trump's master mind steve bannon, donald trump's brain, if donald trump continues to have the lowest -- if he goes from having the lowest first month polling of a president to the lowest second month? the lowest third month? the lowest fourth month? >> well, i would say that my guess would be that reince priebus is more in the firing line in terms of donald trump than bannon at this point in
time with kellyanne conway. donald trump, it seems, you know, he never can blame himself playing others. and others find a scapegoat. this person is what's making you look bad. and i think we're a bit of a way from putting bannon into that positionet. >> the davids thank you both for joing us tonight. >> sure thing. coming up, 25th amendment empowers the vice president and the majority of the cabinet to install the vice president as acting president whenever the president is, quote, unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. our next guests believe that donald trump is now mentally unfit to discharge his powers and duties of the office.
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nuclear weapons changed everything about the presidency. everything. and everything about the president himself and american opens and to start a world war in minutes to order the annihilation of minutes and so character became more prominent issue in the presidential campaign who is this person we're entrusting our lives to? who is the person that the world is entrusting their lives to? this person can fire off nuclear weapons around the world in minutes. that's one of the reasons the 25th amendment was enacted in 1967 to clarify the line of succession in the presidency. in the nuclear age, we have to know who is in charge every minute. when president george w. bush
had anesthesia during the presidency, he signed over powers something that was made possible only by the 25th amendment. and as i explained, the 25th enables the majority of the cabinet to vote afternoon the vice president when they believe the president cannot carry out the duties of the office for whatever reason. the mental health of the president became infinitely more important than it ever was before. and prevents the president from carrying out his duties. the vice president and the cabinet can remove the president and install the vice president as acting president. the first time psychiatrists stepped forward to say something about a candidate was in the new 1,189 co-signed an article
saying that barry goldwater was psychologically unfit to be president. decided to institute a rule calling it unethical to offer professional opinions about someone without the professional examination of that person. and the psychiatrist who have decided that the more important rules to observe in the case of president trump is continues to warn. and what they see a danger presented to other people. they have a duty to violate patient confidentiality in cases like that. there are now more than 26,000 signatures on an mental health professionals declare president trump is mentally ill and must be removed. the petition sites that the 25th amendment as the proper procedure for removing a mentally ill president.
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behind the walls of the kremlin. they're preparing vladimir putin for a first meeting with america's president. >> everything is under preparation. >> compiling a dossier on donald trump's mental strengths and weaknesses. >> joining us now, john gardner, the author of the online petition, mental health professionals declare trump is mentally ill and must be removed. also joining us, lance dotus, former professor of psychiatry at harvard medical school. john, there we have the russians doing a version of the work you're doing apparently compiling a psychological dossier to prevent to vladimir putin on donald trump. governments do this all the time within their intelligence community, they employ psychology professionals to do exactly that within the
intelligence community. you're doing a version of this publicly, and you're doing it as i said, in violation of this long-standing rule since 1964 presidential campaign that you're not supposed to diagnose people publicly who you have not seen privately and you're never supposed to share any of the diagnosis that you've made privately. why have you come to this point? >> because of exactly what you mentioned. this duty to warn. if we could construct a psychiatric frankenstein monster, we could not create a leader more dangerously ill than donald trump. he's a paranoid, psychopathic narcissistic and lashes out. and this is someone as you mentioned who's handling the nuclear codes. this goldwater law, rule, is frankly absurd. from three different vantage points. first the deback that will took
place during goldwater was in the froed yan time before the manual. the great advance of the diagnostic manual is it gave us clear behavioral criteria for every disorder. where they were saying he had potty training issues and homosexuality issues, unproved concepts, we now know if we can observe someone's behavior and words, we know we can diagnose them. and this whole idea that the psychiatric interview is the gold standard for making an assessment, this is frankly not true. empirical research shows the interview is one of the least reliable ways of forming a diagnosis that it's -- the behavior and informants and we have thousands of hours of behavior and informants are much moreccurate. and finally, as far as ethics go, i would argue to my colleagues that those who don't speak out are being unethical. that if we have some knowledge and understanding about the unique danger that donald trump presents through our psychiatric
training and we don't say something about it, history is not going to judge us kindly. >> doctor, i'd like to show you some video of donald trump because everything we're talking about is based on what you've been able to see him do publicly on video, and there was a moment that for me was the -- pardon the expression from an amateur, but the sickest moment of donald trump's lying history. it was in a south carolina debate when he said he lost hundreds of friends on 9/11. let's just look at this. >> how did he keep us safe when the world trade center -- [ applause ] the world -- excuse me. i lost hundreds of friends. >> okay. now here's the truth. it was not hundreds. the next day, 12 hours later on
"meet the press," he reduced the hundreds to -- he lost many, many friends. the truth is he lost zero. donald trump did not attend a single 9/11 funeral. he stands there in front of the debate audience and lost hundreds of friends of 9/11. the truth is he lost zero. he lost nothing. he suffered nothing on 9/11. what do you call that? what did we just see? >> well, it's lying, but there are two pieces to it, i think, one is that he lies because of his sociopathic tendencies that doctor gardner was talking about. he lies in the way and scams people, he's trying to sell an idea or a product by telling you something that's untrue. there's that lie. there's also the kind of lie he has that is in a way more serious. that he has a loose grip on reality. we can say that because he lies about things which aren't even that important to him, like the electoral college marget, and he's been told it's not true, but he keeps doing it. i think what that indicates is that he can't stand an aspect of reality that he doesn't want. so he rejects it. his grasp of reality, his attention to reality is loose, and extremely dangerous trait in
a president, actually makes him unqualified. >> and, john gardner, it's certainly there are people who we could find who exhibit more overt mental illness, but they could never get themselves up on to a debate stage and put sentences together. it seems to me that your point is within the realm of people who could possibly win a major party nomination and then go on to win the presidency, this, you're saying, is as sick mentally as you can get. >> right. this is literally the worst case scenario. because you're right, if he was a paranoid schizophrenic and wearing a tinfoil hat, then he wouldn't be elected president, but he's just sane enough as it were to pass, but actually detach from reality as the doctor said so that what is real is fluid. it's totally ml yaable disorder. to his personality so you have someone handling the nuclear codes who's not in touch
with reality and who's paranoid who imagines he's under attack by people who are not actually attacking him. then what you you have is a very dangerous combination of someone who can act on his paranoid fantasies in a way that can have catastrophic consequences. >> i wish we had more time for this discussion. i'm sure we'll come back another night. i really appreciate you joining us on this. lance and john, thank you very much for joining us. >> you're welcome. we'll be right back.
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