tv The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell MSNBC September 18, 2017 10:00pm-11:00pm PDT
election. investigators wiretapped manafort and including a time known to be talking to president donald trump earlier this year. if this reporting holding up, that means there could be tape of whatever paul manafort and donald trump talked about, while, again, manafort was >> seems like someone doesn't want the secret service following them around everywhere they go. i don't know. >> you know, i have to imagine that there's all sorts of innocent reasons why you would want more privacy than a secret service detail would afford you and weird that the two of them both making that decision on the same night. >> rachel, i just need to warn you of something.
it's important. you should know this. i feel i should have told you before now. >> okay. >> but i am wearing a wire. and i know that some people in the workplace now worry about colleagues wearing a wire when talking to them. my wire is right here on the lapel. >> mine too. >> completely open about that. because, rachel, imagine like working in a workplace where you're worried that your colleagues are wearing a wire and maybe, you know, investigators are listening to what you're saying. >> when your colleagues start saying we will have shirtless staff meetings now, that's when you have to worry about this. >> my wire's right there, rachel. you are warned. >> roger that. bye, lawrence. this -- this is more consistent with how'd you go after an organized crime syndicate so says a former federal investigator that prosecutors told paul man afort they plan to indict him.
not a threat. it was a plan to indict him. that was after the fbi raid in july on paul manafort's home in virginia and told him he would be indicted. no uncertain terms and that raid could have only been allowed by a federal judge if mueller's team presented probable cause that a crime had been committed. that's what's necessary for that search warrant and the unannounced entry in the home could be only authorized if the prosecutors convinced the federal judge that manafort would probably destroy evidence if he got a chance to do that. cnn is reporting tonight that paul manafort is investigated off and on for the fbi going as far back as 2014 over the way of conducting business in ukraine with the regime there. that report says that paul manafort is wiretapped,
including as part of the investigation into the ties between the trump campaign and russia. but according to the reports sources, the fbi did not listen in to paul manafort's phone calls in the june 2016 period when that meeting occurred in trump tower -- that including paul manafort, donald trump jr. and russians in the room. who arrived there promising what they were calling dirt on hillary clinton. joining us now, miko oyang, also with us, nick akraman and ron clain. and, ron, i wanted to get your reaction to these latest breaking news reports about the conduct of this investigation and how the procedures that we're seeing here is what you would expect in an investigation
of organized crime and also this possibility that paul manafort is wiretapped by the fbi going as far back as 2014. >> lawrence, i think that what we are seeing here is as i said many times on the show that it's hard to understand the conduct of the people around donald trump unless they're really guilty and what you are seeing here is increasing evidence that manafort committed federal crimes. they would not get that wiretap without a suspicion that he was a foreign agent and that's why the fbi got the renewed wiretap in 2016. and while the news tonight is about manafort, the real consequence is about president trump because the trump defense is first there was really nothing here. and the fact that we now there's a pending potential indictment against manafort and trump never talked to manafort after leaving the campaign. we don't know him anymore. and he was talking to him all the way into 2017. you know?
and the fact that the fbi renewed that wiretap after the trump tower meeting means the idea that the meeting was a nothing burger is highly suspicious. >> this characterization of the prosecution of using the techniques for organized crime, as a former watergate prosecutor, how would you characterize it? >> i think these are the techniques you use after -- going after an organized crime ring. i used to do that. i used to prosecute organized crime. search warrants, wiretaps. this is exactly -- >> you told us i believe in watergate, no search warrants. >> no search warrants. >> and i assume now no wiretaps. >> no wiretaps. nobody wore a wire. i mean, we were so sensitive to that because the whole watergate scandal started out of a bugging incident at the democratic national committee headquarters. so we were very sensitive about
actually doing certain things. i would say we really erred on the side of being conservative. one of the things we had that was really helpful were those white house tapes. >> well, it turns out nixon was doing his own wiretapping of himself in effect in the oval office with the tapes. >> which is very helpful. >> yes. mika, in your experience in congressional investigations, you don't have the tools of search warrants, wiretaps, those aren't available to you. what do you make of the details of the special prosecutor proceeding and how does that affect the way the committees are proceeding in the investigations and when they read about these tactics does that make them think to let the special prosecutor go and hang back? >> they have had meetings to try to deconflict the two investigations. you see members of congress on a slow but steady path of calling their witnesses. and it may be that they have
coordinated the try an give mueller time with this very aggressive strategy to get out ahead. mueller does have tools at his disposal that congressional investigators don't have and may look at the investigative records putting together the reports later. >> ron, the report tonight about the wiretaps indicates that the wiretaps covered a period where paul manafort was talking to donald trump, including during the presidency when his lawyer donald trump's lawyers were telling him not to talk to paul manafort, eventually apparently the trump lawyers prevailed on getting donald trump to stop talking to paul manafort but as rachel said, in the last hour, donald trump might show up on these wiretaps. >> donald trump might, indeed, be the first president to show up on a wiretap like this. that would be a dubious, historical precedent but i think it's more important than that. paul manafort was fired and not working supposedly on the trump campaign.
what is donald trump doing talking to him after the campaign is over? what can possibly be the subject of that conversation? can't be campaign strategy. can't be campaign tactics. the campaign is over. so if he's talking to paul manafort in december, january, february, maybe longer, he is talking about the investigation, what manafort knows, told the investigators and the fact that donald trump is so interested in that, that's a very important fact. >> nick, there's a striking moment in these reports and that is the after the raid of paul manafort's home when prosecutors unnamed, not sure exactly who, tell paul manafort, we plan to indict you. >> right. >> that is a very unusual move by prosecutors. it's not a common interaction between the prosecutors and someone they plan to indict. what is that about? when does a prosecutor decide, i'm going to tell this guy, we plan to indict him? >> you decide to tell somebody that when you want that person
to turn and testify against other people. that is not good you news for donald trump, donald trump jr. or jared kushner. they have their sights on paul manafort and work the way up through other people. they view him as somebody when's knowledgeable about everything that went on. he is a key person and they're telling him that because they want to give him an opportunity to come in and bare his soul and cooperate and get a deal and doesn't have to spend a lot of time in federal prison. >> what does a leak like this do to the congressional investigators? when they read this report saying that the prosecutors have said to paul manafort, we plan to indict you, does that make them more reluctant to get paul manafort's testimony? >> not necessarily but it does suggest that manafort's
testimony may be less valuable. if he knows he is indicted, he may assert the fifth and not actually provide congressional investigators with substantive testimony of what he is doing. you asked ron earlier what he could have been talking to trump about, you have to remember he is deeply connected to the russian ol garks, some of whom are ukrainian or in russia and may have been discussing business dealings and real questions of whether or not he was offering quid pro quo to the trump administration. >> and, ron, there's so much speculation about what they could be talking about but you make the point, it's so much more interesting that they're talking during the presidency because there's no working relationship there. there's not supposed to be and what you could have in those kind of conversations are donald trump trying to find ways to say to paul manafort, you know, just please, you know, kind of help me out here.
don't give the prosecutors anything that can help them get me. >> yeah. obviously, trump could have been promising him a pardon like he promised -- he gave to joe arpaio and efforts to help and maybe to fire comey early on in this. we don't know. what we do know is that one of the real firewalls that trump tried to build between himself and this investigation, that they have been building over several months, manafort may have been bad but he is no longer part of the world, that firewall is blown wide open tonight and the fact he was in touch with the president through the rest of the campaign, through the transition into the presidency means that donald trump had a relationship with paul manafort beyond counting delegates at the republican national convention. >> nick, if on a wiretap you have the president reminding paul manafort the pardoner in
chief, where does the special prosecutor go with that? >> obstruction of justice. if what he's suggesting to paul manafort is don't worry, i have your back, i'm going to pardon you -- >> there are ways of saying things that aren't quite so explicit. and it's a question of, you know, might donald trump find that way of saying it that isn't quite as explicit? >> there's a wink and a nod but that's tough over the telephone and there's the added problem to be right in the sights of new york attorney general who's also investigating him for money laundering and other crime that is some of which are more serious than the federal crimes. between the two, i'd rather spend my time in federal prison than to go to reichers island. >> mika, this revelation tonight about paul manafort and wiretaps, go back to the point
where paul manafort is hired to work on this campaign. a presidential candidate is hiring someone who is under fbi investigation when he hires him to go to work on this campaign. >> that's right. you're seeing paul manafort at the fringes of politics come into the campaign at a high level and other people taking a pass on donald trump because they didn't think he was a serious candidate. paul manafort had political experience with the russians and ukrainians and talking about people who know how to broken connections between vladimir putin and the trump campaign, paul manafort is the perfect candidate for this. >> thank you both for joining us. ron, we'll talk to you coming up. up next, we have a tie, it's an actual tie now, in washington for the two worst lawyers in washington. and they both work for donald trump. and they both talk very loudly at washington restaurants about
their client donald trump and the trouble that he's involved in right now. and anyone can hear them including "the new york times" reporters. we'll have that story. also, a republican senator who promised to use the jimmy kimmel test for health care legislation so that any child in america could get the life saving surgery that jimmy kimmel's baby got this year, that same senator introduced a bill and is pushing a bill in the senate in a kind of panic last-ditch push that violates the jimmy kimmel test. and jimmy kimmel has noticed. america's beverage companies have come together to bring you more ways to help reduce calories from sugar. with more great tasting beverages with less sugar or no sugar at all, smaller portion sizes, clear calorie labels, and signs reminding everyone to think balance before choosing their beverages. we know you care about reducing the sugar in your family's diet, and we're working to support your efforts.
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it's always worth remembering that donald trump could not get his first choice of lawyers to defend him in the special prosecutor's investigation. he was turned down by the best washington law firms with his reputation for failing to pay the bills and his recuring public demonstrations of being a ridiculous client for a good lawyer to deal with, a client that attacked a federal judge in the trump university fraud case which donald trump then went on to lose to the tune of $25 million. and so, donald trump is stuck with nothing close to his first choice of lawyers in what is the most important moment of his lifetime of legal troubles. two proved the fundamental incompetence of lawyers sitting in a washington restaurant last week talking loudly enough for a well-known "the new york times" reporter at a nearby table to
listen in. "the new york times" ken vogel, a frequent guest on this and many other cable news programs, tweeted this picture of the two lawyers doing the worst possible job they could for their client at lunch talking about the investigation publicly. and you are speaking publicly whenever you are speaking in such a way that other people can hear you and real lawyers know that. john dowd who is being paid as donald trump's private outside lawyer has an obligation to maintain attorney/client privilege with donald trump. he violated that obligation by being overheard at lunch. ty cobb, the other lawyer at the table, now tied with john dowd for the title of worst lawyer in washington, talked loudly about his disagreements of turning over documents and complained of other lawyers.
i've got some reservations about one of them. i think he's like an mcgahn spy. when ken vogel contacted the white house and the lawyers involved before printing their article about that discussion, john dowd told this lie to "the new york times" about the conversation that ken vogel had actually heard. he said, nothing we said reflected adversely upon don mcgahn. joining us now, curt anniversary author of "fantasyland." and ron klain is back with us. curt, at the end of the article, you have don mcgahn saying, that stuff you heard us say, we did not say. >> it's the old joke. don't believe your lying eyes. here was "the new york times" reporter taking the picture and recording notes on the iphone as they spoke and asserting the
opposite, oh no, nothing bad was said about don mcgahn -- >> we didn't say he has spies. >> it's extraordinary. as you say, these loud, publicly speaking lawyers were the lawyers brought in to replace the bad lawyers. >> right. >> professionalize the trump legal team. it's extraordinary. by the way, the thing that i only realized after i read the initial story is the steakhouse is in the trump international hotel, as well. the blt steak is in the trump international hotel which as everything becomes essentially a bad tv show in this administration that's a thing that a studio executive would say, no, no, no. that's too on the nose in the president's own restaurant. >> listen to what ken vogel said of john kelly's reaction to this. >> john kelly, the chief of staff and don mcgahn, the white house chief incredibly displeased to put it mildly. they called ty cobb in on friday
and read him basically the riot act and said you can't be talking about this in an obviously public context, the concern here being not just potentially tipping their hand through the press to what their strategy is and tipping their hand to mueller, but also, a potentially violation of attorney/client privilege. >> i'm glad it was at the blt steakhouse for bad lawyers for trump. you know? i think that it's an incredible thing. but, you know, one thing that's in that story, that story by vogel and baker, is the fact that one of these complaints was that don mcgahn documents in a safe in the white house that he will not show to donald trump's lawyers and what i can tell you about that, lawrence, those documents in a safe cannot be documents that are good for donald trump.
because if they were, his lawyers would have seen them. so, you know, this obviously was a horrible act of lawyering by the two people but really it begs the question of what is here and what's yet to come out and gives a road map for bob mueller for the documents to most want to see. >> curt, you're one of new york journalists studying donald trump for decades. he's not a good sleeper. we know that. he's an insomniac and now he has this. now he's got his two lawyers sitting there being overheard even donald trump knows this is utterly buffoonish behavior. >> overheard, disagreeing and one of them loudly disagreeing with the white house counsel don mcgahn and be criminally culpable himself and has lawyered up as a result. so, yeah. at this point, trump who until recently his first group of lawyers who were dismissed were
lawyers who had no experience whatsoever in this kind of washington criminal law. he thought he replaced them with the guys that know the score and this is what they do. this -- this mind boggling version of publicly sharing their client's most important legal negotiations and questions. it's extraordinary. >> you used to work in the justice department. can you tip us off as to where the justice department lawyers go to lunch so that we can overhear the special prosecutors and robert mueller fighting among each other about how they're handling the investigation of donald trump? >> yeah. they eat -- >> is that going to happen? >> at their desks. think eat at the desks. >> yeah. yeah. i mean, if you think about it, shift it over to the other side and the impossibility of anyone ever overhearing robert mueller
or the lawyers working on that side of the case. >> it seems profoundly unlikely. look. people are human. i'm sure mistakes happen, perhaps. not like this. not in public. not actually at an outdoor table and anyone on the sidewalk could have heard it. and just not in this way. you can see really the pressure this is bringing on the white house, the part of that piece you alluded to at the outset of the program people in the white house worried that the colleagues are wearing wires to white house meetings. it is a hard place to work you should under the best of circumstances. that's got to be wreaking havoc on the president and the team. >> as good as being wired in the sense of not one there who trusts another. nor should anyone in that building trust anyone else in that building. based on what we have seen in terms of the way they leak. >> in terms of wearing wires or not, you have to believe that every one of them making contemporaneous notes every
night what he said to her or she said to him. that's not as good as evidence in a trial or criminal proceeding as tape recordings but they have to believe that's there and who can they trust? i guess ivanka and jared trust each other and might be the extent of the implicit trust in the white house. >> ron, and in your career in washington, woging in the senate, working in the justice department, working in the white house, when you go to a restaurant with someone who you might be discussing anything sensitive, you're very careful about what table that is, about how far away from other people you are, and if you're too close, you just don't talk about it. this just doesn't happen. we don't have another one of these stories. about the time so and so was overheard in the washington restaurant because everybody knows you don't do this. >> yeah. i mean, again, people are human. they make mistakes but that is colossal mistake and i think the
scope and nature of this really stands out. and the fact that it was about not just sensitive or politically sensitive information but attorney/client information makes it very, very different and the fact caught lying about it afterwards opposed to coughing it up and admitting it only adds to that. and so, this is fiasco of a fiasco of a fiasco and illustrates just how bad things are in the trump white house right now. >> ron and curt, thank you both for joining us tonight. coming up, are senate republicans really going to try to push the latest version of repealing and replacing obamacare? and if they do, what will john mccain do this time? his best friend is pushing that bill. and, donald trump used the eve of his first u.n. speech to taunt north korea on twitter. is north korea afraid of donald trump?
did they understand donald trump? do they understand his tweets? an american reporter who's just returned from north korea with a stunning report will join us. patrick woke up with back pain. but he has work to do. so he took aleve. if he'd taken tylenol, he'd be stopping for more pills right now. only aleve has the strength to stop tough pain for up to 12 hours with just one pill. aleve. all day strong.
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we have a restaurant correction to make on our last segment. we were talking about blt steak in washington, d.c. that's where donald trump's lawyers can be overheard talking about the case. so if you want to hear donald trump's lawyers talking about the case, go to blt steak which is not in the trump hotel in washington.
there is another blt named restaurant in the trump hotel in washington. if you want to hear the trump lawyers talking about the trump case, you go to blt steak and apparently you sit outside because they do it right outside on the sidewalk. you can just walk by. you don't have to pay for lunch. just overhear them walking by. so, blt steak. not in the trump hotel. and now, to the latest on health care, the republican health care bill in the senate and jimmy kimmel. >> if your baby is going to die and it doesn't have to, it shouldn't be matter how much money you make. i think that's something now whether you're a republican or democrat or something else, we all agree on that. right? i mean, we do. i saw a lot of families there and no parent should ever have to decide if they can afford to save their child's life. it just shouldn't happen.
not here. so -- >> after jimmy couple mel told that powerful story of how doctors at children's hospital in los angeles performed life saving surgery on his newborn son, the jimmy kimmel test for health care legislation. senator cassidy's jimmy kimmel test is would any child get everything he or she needs in the first year of life even if it cost more than a certain amount of money? senator cassidy was a guest on the show after jimmy kimmel's emotional monologue. >> lowering premiums with coverage passing the jimmy kimmel test, we get an american plan. not a republican or democrat plan and that's where we need to be. [ applause ] >> the jimmy kimmel test should be no family denied care because they can't afford it.
can that be the jimmy kimmel test? as simple as that? is that oversimplifying it? >> if that's as close as we get, that works great in government. >> and that was a very slippery politician's answer that jimmy kimmel's audience hearing there. he did not actually agree with jimmy kimmel's version of the kimmel test. instead, he said that the idea was on the right track and now that very same senator cassidy is pushing a health care bill that will repeal and replace obamacare and would completely fail the jimmy kimmel test. millions upon millions of people would lose health care under the cassidy bill that is being co-sponsored by senator graham. we don't know how many millions because the congressional budget office has not scored the bill yet but republicans are still ready to vote for it. senator john mccain whose best friend in the senate is graham
and cast the deciding no vote last time they tried to pass a health care bill in the senate. here's what john mccain told the reporters about the graham/cassidy bill. i am not supportive of the bill yet. when asked what he needs to support the bill, john mccain said, among other things, the regular order, lots of things. regular order means having hearings on the bill. in the house and in the senate. and then having committee votes on the bill in the house and in the senate. and then voting on the bill on the senate floor where it is open to amendment by any senator. that process normally takes several months at least. and there are only 12 days left for the senate republicans to pass a health care bill in the senate under the procedural protection of the rule called reconciliation where the bill needs only 51 votes to pass. joining us now, andy slavitt of the centers for medicare and medicaid services and jennifer
reuben for "the washington post" and, jennifer, you wrote about this cassidy/graham bill today for "the washington post" and jimmy kimmel tweeted the article to the 10 million followers and you make the point clearly in the article that the cassidy bill fails the kimmel test. >> that's right. one of the things it does, for example, is put a per capita, caps the medicaid for every state. so that people who are enjoying medicaid benefits won't in the future. we are not just talking about rolling back the extension of medicaid. we are talking about a worst cut for medicaid. we are talking about giving states the right to redefine the minimum declines. maybe define it as not including heart defects and which was the defect that jimmy kimmel's son was born with.
they also have the ability under the cassidy/graham bill to decide that preexisting conditions maybe don't have to be covered completely. so, the guise of sending it back to the states and the guise of federalism, it's really the most draconian of all versions and you are right. they're trying to rush it through in the dead of night. i would say one thing, however. they don't have 12 days because pardon the pun thank goodness we have the jewish holidays and will be out on thursday and friday. and then, by next friday they better be out by sun down. so they have less than 12 days and i would suggest that if democrats are concerned about this that they slow things down. make people read the bill. make people discuss it. find out what's in it. >> and, andy, one thing that the democrats are demanding is a full cbo score of this bill. chairman orrin hatch is
scheduling a hearing on the bill next week and that seems to be the finance committee's nod to john mccain's demand for regular order but that's not regular order for a bill like this. the senate finance committee had 24 hearings as i recall when we were considering the clinton health care bill. and then almost as many hearings and meetings at least over the obamacare. >> well, this has all the features of a rush job. so the republicans are now prepared to bring it to the bill without a full cbo score. the cbo said they cannot score it in the time frame jennifer laid out. we also know that this hearing you're talking about is a rush together kind of hearing, a show hearing, hoping that that can get mccain to check the box and we heard woshd tonight, not just reported, the great work of
lamar alexander with patty murray an they put a stop to that bill to apply pressure for people to say, you've got to vote for this cassidy bill or you're not going to have anything at all. this is more rush job of a very harmful bill. >> and, jennifer, susan collins, lisa murkowski, john mccain stopped the last republican bill. based on what they said about the last republican bill and what was in it and why they were voting against it in terms of content of the bill and senator mccain said about the procedure but the content of the bill, how is this different from the content 0 of what they voted against before in. >> it's worse. they were concerned of medicaid cuts, concerned of cuts for rural health care and a lot of things and this really is worse because essentially by pushing it back to the states they can do essentially whatever they want. by the way, that might entail in blue states setting up a single payer system. so republicans could be slitting
their throats. they would be sending out a bunch of experiments in single payer health care and probably not what they want either. >> and, andy, would senator mccain made the really kind of emotional first speech on the senate floor after he was diagnosed with brain cancer, it was all about the procedures of the senate, and the procedures of content. it was more of congress, it was more about that than the content of the bill and he kept talking about regular order and when i heard him say that, it sounded to me like he absolutely was going to have to vote against the bill that was in front of them because as i said regular order is a minimum of six to nine months of consideration of a bill like this before it comes to a vote. how could he possibly vote for something like this rushed through a fake, a truly fake version of regular order if that's what they pretend to do? >> that's a great point. you think about it, think about what senator mccain's legacy
will be if he reverses himself under something that he got universal play debts for and will be in a situation of passed the most partisan, one-sided bill by a partisan process only, of course, to have the democrats very likely attempt to do the next thing in the next election and so on and so on and so on. all due respect to his friendship of senator graham and his loyalty to the party, he would be setting off a wave of things long probably beyond the time in the senate that would create an atmosphere of partisanship well beyond where we sit today. he can put a stop to it. >> so far rand paul's the only republican senator coming out against it saying it's not conservative enough. collins is concerned about the bill but not taking a position for or against it just yet. we'll keep covering it. jennifer, andy, thank you both for joining us tonight. really appreciate it. >> thank you.
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where everyone he talked to including a 11-year-old boy seemed to believe that nuclear war is certainly possible and survivable. north korea has perfected its ability to absorb pain. that's what evan discovered in the extraordinary reporting in north korea, the cover story of this week's "new yorker" magazine and the ability to absorb pain that makes the traditional nuclear deterrence strategies feel almost useless with north korea. north korea believes that they won the korean war. and that the united states lost the korean war. and having endured war with the united states before, some north koreans express a certain kind of confidence about doing it again. a confidence that does include the possibility that millions of north koreans would die in nuclear war with the united states. a few thousand would survive
said a north korean government official. a lot of people would die. but not everyone would die. a government of a country with 25 million citizens that can see some form of victory in only a few thousand of them surviving a nuclear war? s a government that no american president has figured out how to negotiate with and now the united states and north korea each have a head of state that the world struggles to understand. as kim jong-un's statements and donald trump's tweets seem to be edging ever closer to nuclear war. evan will join us next with the answer that he got to this question when he asked it in north korea. if your country would be destroyed in a nuclear exchange, why are you really entertaining the idea? he got that answer, he got an answer to the question in north korea and it will surprise you.
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i had the long conversation with president xi of china. we discussed trade and we also discussed a place called north korea. let's see what happens. i think we're making great progress. >> that was the president speaking tonight in new york city. tomorrow he will speak to the united nations general assembly for the first time and the white
house says that the threat from north korea will be the focus of his address. joining us now evan osnos, staff writer at the new yorker. he wrote the recent cover story, the risk of nuclear war with north korea. and, evan, i wanted to talk about north korea's attempts now to interpret the president of the united states, which has become more difficult than it ever has in the past, including, for example, this tweet that the president tweeted yesterday. he said, "i spoke with president moon of south korea last night, asked him how rocket man is doing. long gas lines forming in north korea. too bad "! as you report, they read these right away, including some officials here in new york city. but they struggle to figure out what they mean. >> yeah, in many ways the north koreans ask the same questions about donald trump that we ask about kim jong-un. they asked me, is he, as they put it, rational, or is he smart?
they said they're struggling to answer that question. you know, in some ways we know how we look at this confrontation. this feels to us as it north korea is taking these inexplicable steps toward greater and greater confrontation with the united states. from the north korean perspective, they say they are encountering a u.s. president than they have dealt with before. he's using language they never heard before. he's saying things like preventive war. when i was in korea in august, the president is not the only one that can launch a preventive war. >> one of the interpretations that comes out very clearly in your piece is they are interpreting donald trump to intentionally be marching toward war. >> yeah, they take him at his word. you know, they have listened to his statements. they've read his tweets very closely. they have said to me that -- and others -- that they believe that
they're not going to suffer the same fate that befell saddam hussein and muammar gaddafi. they were developing nuclear weapons and gave them up. when they hear donald trump say the only solution to this crisis is to give up their nuclear weapons, they say that is putting us on a path towards war. i think the other piece that is important to remember is the way they regard themselves is they see themselves as having suffered and survived terrible things in their history. the korean war, the famine in the 1990s. as a government official said to me, if we had to do it again we would do it a third time and we would survive. >> yes, they say to you they have already survived things that they consider as bad as nuclear war. you asked this question that you report in your piece. if your country would be destroyed in a nuclear exchange, why are you really entertaining the idea? and what answer did you get? >> they said, because we have no other choice. in this case, they really feel
as if they are on track towards survival. they feel that they're facing an existential threat from the united states. we're at a crucial moment. we've been dealing with north korea one form or another since the end of the korean war in 1953. suddenly we have found ourselves in this very confrontational moment. that is partly because they have radically escalated the pace of their nuclear program and their missile program. but it's also because we have chosen to deal with them in a new way under the trump administration. and i think there is a growing sense that in addition to maximum pressure, which you are seeing now with more sanctions, it's perhaps time also for maximum engagement, which is the other side of this. looking for the opportunity to get to the negotiating table and de-escalate the confrontation. >> and, evan, it is an extraordinary journey you took to north korea. while in the middle of all this conflict and while donald trump was firing off tweets in august that people were asking you about while you were there, you visited, among other things, you visited a school. there was a moment with an
11-year-old boy when they were -- the students were told, you know, you can ask him anything. eventually one kid decided to try asking you something. and what did this 11-year-old boy say? >> he stood up in the front row of the classroom and he said, why is the united states trying to provoke a war with us? and why is the united states trying to prevent us from getting a nuclear weapon? the message for me was very career, which is north korea gets up, north korean population gets up every day and they are reminded, they're thinking about this all the time. they see it on bill boards on the street. they hear it on television. as far as they hear he they need to prepare for war with the united states and we should take steps to prevent that. >> evan, it is the cover story of new yorker, north korea on the brink. it is extraordinary reporting, stunning how you got permission to travel to north korea, everything you went through while you were there. we're going to be referring to elements of this story, i'm sure, in your reporting for weeks to come. there is so much that we didn't get to.
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will be speaking to, that is to say, testifying to the senate intelligence committee behind closed doors. that's tonight's last word. the 11th hour with brian williams starts now. the breaking news tonight, new bombshell reporting on the mueller investigation, the raid apaul manafort's house and the indictment warning from prosecutors to the form trump campaign chair. plus a late-breaking, urgent and fast exploding storm, hurricane maria suddenly a 5 and there's a state of emergency in puerto rico. we'll get a live update. and after trashing the u.n. for years, down to its day core, donald trump addresses the general assembly just hours from now. as they say, welcome to our world as the 11th hour gets under way. on a monday evening as we start a new week, good evening once again from our