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tv   The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell  MSNBC  October 17, 2018 7:00pm-8:00pm PDT

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federal prosecutors arrested an employee of the treasury department today, senior advisor of the law enforcement part. prosecutors charged her with leaking to the media a bunch of suspicious activity reports, which are generated by banks when they flag suspicious financial activity. those go to treasury, they keep them on file for law enforcement purposes. in the case of this official who's now been arrested the documents that she reportedly took and shared with the media had to do with key figures in the mueller investigation, people like paul manafort and rick gates. according to charging documents today where suspect told prosecutors she's a whistle-blower who leaked these sensitive reports to reporters for quote, recordkeeping. we don't yet know what that means, but it's a strange prospect that somebody at the financial law enforcement part of the treasury would feel like she had to make contact with the press to make duplicates of these confidential financial documents tied to the mueller investigation in order to do her
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own recordkeeping to make sure those reports lived on outside the federal government. her whistle-blower claim may be the most intriguing part of this arrest today, but we don't yet know exactly what it means. that does it for us tonight. see you again tomorrow. now it's time for "last word" with lawrence o'donnell. he's back. >> you sure you don't want to keep going, because i still have a bit of a cold that kept me out for the last couple of nights. and if you have energy to keep going, i'm fine with that. >> this is one of those nights i sat down to go to the makeal room and cory my executive producer came down and said, okay, we're about 35 minutes heavy for the show. as a one hour show that's a bit catastrophic. >> you guys should have consulted with me on that. 35 minutes sounds great to me tonight. it really does. >> are you feeling better? >> i'm sort of back. we'll see if the cold pill works for the whole hour. we'll see how this works.
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>> well, you look great and we missed you. >> thank you, rachel. a new reporting tonight by "the washington post" says the president of the united states and the saudi arabian family are not searching for the truth of what happened to "the washington post" journalist jamal khashoggi. they are searching for mutually agreeable explanation, that's their phrase. and it's not easy to find an explanation for why jamal khashoggi was seen entering the saudi consulate in istanbul and was never seen leaving that saudi consulate. in fact, it's not easy to answer a single question about it if what you're really trying to do is get to an agreeable explanation. >> did they say that mr. khashoggi is alive or dead? >> i don't want to talk about any of the facts. they didn't want to either, and that they want to have the opportunity to complete this investigation in a thorough way. >> did you talk about repercussions in case the saudis are involved? >> we talked about the
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importance of completing the investigation. >> that is the sound of someone who's looking for an agreeable explanation, not someone who's looking for the truth. "the washington post" is reporting tonight the trump administration and the saudi royal family are searching for a mutually agreeable explanation for the death of journalist jamal khashoggi, one that will avoid implicating crown prince mohammed bin salman according to analysts and multiple allies. also tonight "the washington post" published the final op-ed piece by jamal khashoggi which was delivered to the newspaper by khashoggi's translator the day after he disappeared. saying arab governments have been given free reign to silence the media. it's facing its own version of an iron curtain. and today "the new york times" added more gruesome detail to what happened to jamal khashoggi inside the saudi consulate.
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"the times" source for this report was an unnamed turkish official who described an audio recording that allegedly recorded the sound of the murder and the dismemberment of jamal khashoggi. "the times" report, quote, after he was shown into the office of the saudi consul the agents seized mr. khashoggi almost immediately and began to beat and torture him, eventually cutting off his fingers. the saudi consul then said, quote, do this outside you will put me in trouble. one of the killers replied, quote, if you want to live when you come back to arabia, shut up. and then "the new york times" reporting turns much more gruesome. quote, as they cut off mr. khashoggi's head and dismembered his body, a doctor of forensics who had been brought along for the dissection and disposal had
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some advice for the orders, according to the senior turkish official, listen to music he told them as he put on headphones himself. that is what he did to ease the te tension when doing such work, the officials say. here's what the president said today about the audio recording of the murder. >> have you asked for this audio, video intelligence that the turks -- >> we have asked for it, if it exists. >> but you haven't gotten-touch am. >> we have asked for it, if it exists. >> tonight "the washington post" is reporting u.s. intelligence officials said they had no reason to doubt that turkey has an audio recording that shows what the officials claim. "the post" is also reporting that the chairman of the senate foreign relations committee, republican senator bob corker is saying that the trump administration had clamped down on sharing intelligence on the trump-khashoggi case. he said intelligence briefings schedule for tuesday was
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canceled and he say told no additional intelligence would be shared with the senate for now. a move he called disappointing. bob corker told "the washington post," quote, i can only surmise that probably the intel is not painting a pretty picture as it relates to saudi arabia. leading off our discussion now tim o'brien, also joining us is richard stengel, former under secretary of state, and evelyn farkas, all are msnbc contributors. and evelyn, let me start with you. it seems as i listen to this administration especially as i listen to the president the choice seems to either be donald trump doesn't care about the saudis murdering a journalist or donald trump approves of the saudis murdering a journalist. i don't see any other option in what i hear him saying so far. >> well, lawrence, i would say he probably doesn't approve. because when you remember when
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the story first broke he did tell leslie stahl in the "60 minutes" interview that he found it horrendous and particularly horrendous if it was true of the murder of a journalist. so i don't think he approves. but i think you're onto something when you say he doesn't care. because if he cared he would understand very clearly the implications of this on a human level, certainly. we're talking about somebody who lived here as a permanent resident, who was a colleague of people you and i know in washington, d.c., and of course has family here living in the united states as well. i'm not sure if they're citizens or not, but i also think that's not relevant, although the president has made a bit of a beef about it. i think the main point is that this president is the president. regardless of whether he understands it as a human, we're talking about u.s. interest and leadership inside america. so the audience is the american people first and foremost and
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then the world. and then he doesn't understand that values have a value for the united states when we are essentially going out in the world conducting foreign policy. so it's not just money and arms sales and economic interests, military interests, but the values that america espouses, standing up for human rights and in this case something that was done so blatantly in our face, as lindsey graham said, and then the lies that came afterwards, we as a country need to stand up for the international community and principles for all the other people trying to speak out, all the journalists trying to do the right thing, all the dissidents around the world and to really stiffen the spines of other democrats and other countries and other leaders around world because that's what the united states does. >> you worked with secretary of state john carrie. whd he today be saying we don't want to know any facts, any
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answers. what would we be hearing from the secretary of state of the previous administration? >> you'd get a very stern warning to the saudis about this. we'd be looking at all the range of things that could have an affect on them from arms control agreements. you'd be looking at something called the magnitsky act which allows the president of the united states to sanction international human rights violators the same way we sanction oligarchs. you'd be looking at the sanction of the princes in saudi arabia. saudi arabia has been our ally since fdr met with king sahud in 1948. even when we were selling arms to them we were saying you can't use them on your own people. the trump administration has a complete hands off transactional approach. they say here's the weapons, here's the technology, use them
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as you like. that's what's disturbing. and i agree with evelyn we need to talk about human rights and the way we're dealing with our allies and adversaries. >> tim, your reporting in bloomberg is trump and kushner put saudi's first. how much does that explain what we're seeing? >> i think it explains a lot of it. this is freelancing on foreign policy coming home to roost. you cannot run a sophisticated foreign policy in the middle east on the heels of jared kushner through most of the period he didn't have full security clearance. what he did have was a failing skyscraper on fifth avenue his family was desperately trying to refinance. he lobbied the chinese during ininvestment during the campaign and transition period. we know he spoke to at least one
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saudi investor. and the president essentially let him lead this tilt towards saudi arabia in a real politic sense it's a bold work against iran. i think they saw it as a pure business opportunity. and everything the president has said when he's pressed to explain why he doesn't want to just cleanly and clearly condemn the apparent murder of khashoggi is he says that saudi arabia invests a lot of money in the united states, and we have a big arms deal with them. and in fact he's misrepresented the bona fide's of the arms deal. he's overstated how much its worth and when the money's going to arrive. i think in the back of their minds they see the saudis as potential business partners. >> and you know they've had a completely hands off approach of the war in yemen where american weapons are being used to kill thousands and thousands of
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civilians. the u.n. released a report just yesterday there's a famine of among 10 million people in yemen. so the american weapons that we are selling them, that the taxpayer is supporting, and that was something the obama administration was very concerned about. >> on the arms sales, arm sales have been used in a variety of ways by american administrations including to try to obtain better behavior from the regimes that we have sold arms to. >> right. i mean, lawrence, you know, it's one way that we actually have ongoing influence. because they need our arms. this is the problem. the president also doesn't understand that the saudis actually need us at this point more than we need them. we don't rely on them for oil as much as we did in the past. i think in fact they're the second importer after canada if i'm correct on tat. and then the arms deals, you're right. they sign-up to buy a bunch of
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arms and they signed up to $110 billion. and under obama it was 115. and some of those dollars are for the same program. it doesn't matter. what they do spend, we get to watch. we make them sign agreements they won't transfer any of the technology. we watch what they're doing, as rich said. we have ongoing hard core diplomacy with countries that use our weapons to ensure they don't use it in ways we disagree with because then we can sanction them and not provide spare parts they need, not provide training and other things they need. rick, you've had a one-on-one meeting with mohammed bin salman your last year in the state department. the two of you one-on-one for a couple of hours late at night. what do you know about him, what have you gained about him that could guide the way we watch what we're watching now? >> the meeting was at midnight
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in saudi arabia. he was a very powerful and impressive figure, he's physically large. he talked about the openings he was planning on doing. allowing women to drive, opening theaters. he talked about an issue the u.s. has been talking about for decades which is saudi mohabi schools, and it's a very severe form of islam some people think is reason for extremism. the problem is he feels no impunity to what he can do. he's completely consolidated power, doesn't report to anybody and has an authoritarian tendency nobody represses and we've seen what the result of that is. >> tim, when donald trump said publicly the saudis, they buy a lot of apartments from me, of course i like the saudis, is that all you have to know about donald trump and the saudis?
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>> no, that's not all you had to know. and he felt unprompted to go on twitter and say i have no investments in saudi arabia or russia either. and he'd been playing this game for a number of years which he says i don't have investments in these countries. the reality is they have investments in him, oftentimes in the united states. >> what do you mean by an investment in him? >> well, they're buying his condominiums. he had russian buyers for scores of his condominiums. he had partners of russian descent on projects like soho. the entire saudi arabian government bought the entire fifth floor of trump tower in 2001. this goes far back in his history. even prior to that bailed trump out in the early 1990s when he almost went permanently bankrupt. when a saudi wrought his lot.
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and it's one of the biggest clients of the trump international hotel of the trump hotel in washington. and the signal this is sending to the world is that the president of the united states can be bought and sold. if you need to curry favor or if you need to be able to run rough shot over your region, as long as you do business with the trump administration and with the president personally you can pretty much do whatever you want. i think it's a low point in u.s. foreign policy, and it's really unusual. >> evelyn, if this had happened in a previous administration where you didn't have the questions of how much does donald trump owe financially to s saudis, how much does the president involve financially with saudis and all of that was out of the picture, and we could expect an honest attempt by an administration, an american administration to deal with this, it's still very difficult to deal with, isn't it, given the saudi geopolitical position with the united states?
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>> yes. i mean, lawrence, you still have to balance, right, the hard national interest with human rights and dealing with this kind of extra territorial, extra judicial killing. i think this did cross a line, again as i mentioned, because the killing was conducted in a consulate in turkey and then they lied about it to the world, to us. you know, it does cross a line. which is not to excuse yemen or any of the other terrible things they did. and i think as you said for any administration it would be difficult. we have other allies and partners we deal with. we deal with china and they also have a bad human rights record. but we find a way to express our displeasure. but in this case absolutely it has to be more than that. it has to be economic because they lied. frankly, speaking the saudi kingdom needs to hold people accountable up to the crown prince. i mean if i were pompeo i would have gone in there and given a very strong message from my
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president. you know, if it a were different president he would have been saying we need to facts now. first of all, where is this man, is he alive, you know, et cetera, et cetera. right now all pompeo did was secretary pompeo went there and said, well, the fox is investigating what happened in the chicken coop, and then he flew over to turkey which is basically the farm where the chicken coop is and seem today dismiss -- i mean, we haven't heard anything out of him about what he heard in turkey. and we do know from one of the the, i think it was "the washington post" report that he didn't want to listen to the tape. i guess i wouldn't want to either. but really the administration needs to tell the american people and certainly congress what they know. >> thank you for starting our discussion tonight. and when we come back, donald trump tries to disown michael cohen once again after reports indicate michael cohen has spent 50 hours with prosecutors discussing the trump family businesses. and john heilemann will join us with a special report from the
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north dakota senate race tonight. and later we'll take a look at pennsylvania where donald trump won by one percentage point. but now the trump candidates in pennsylvania are in big trouble including the trump candidate for senate who was trailing by 15 points. p candidate for senate who was trailing by 15 points. before nexium 24hr mark could only imagine... a peaceful night sleep without frequent heartburn waking him up. now that dream is a reality. nexium 24hr stops acid before it starts for all-day, all-night protection. can you imagine 24 hours without heartburn?
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nbc news has confirmled that don mcgahn is out as white house counsel. "the new york times" which first reported the news says mr. mcgahn may have also caused more damage for mr. trump than any other white house official in the special counsel investigation. mr. mcgahn has spent at least 30 hours with mr. mueller's investigators laying out how mr. trump tried to interfere with or quash the inquiry including by trying to fire mr. mueller himself in the summer of 2017. federal prosecutors met with president trump's former personal lawyer michael cohen today at his attorney's office. a person familiar with the matter tells nbc news that michael cohen met with, quote, a group of federal and state law enforcement officials investigating various aspects of president donald trump's family business and charitable organization according to cnn.com. yesterday prcesident trump was asked about michael cohen's plea deal with federal prosecutors
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for the first time with the associated press. quote, cohen testified under oath in federal court that you directed him to commit a crime. did you sir? trump replied totally false, totally false. the associated press followed up so he's lying under oath. and trump replied oh, absolutely he's lying. and comichael cohen was a pr person who did small legal work, very small legal work. in april when cohen's office and hotel room were raided by the fbi, president trump said this. >> it's a disgrace. it's frankly a real disgrace. it's an attack on our contuntryn a true sense. >> joining us now john heilemann, co-host of executive show time's "the circus." and mimi roca. and john, president trump in accusing michael cohen of being
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a liar tells the lie that michael cohen with as just a sm player in his operation that had very little to do with donald trump. >> yes, barely knew him. it's hard to imagine he's had an opinion of michael cohen. he's heard of him none whatsoever. the only thing he said was he did very little legal work for donald trump because he's not really a lawyer. he also didn't do much pr work, although he did represent trump in the press to some extent. what he did for trump in the decade or so he worked for trump, not a little bit but a lot for many hours every day, and if you ever dealt with trump you knew michael cohen was the guy you had to talk to have any kind of interaction with donald trump. what he did was not legal work or pr work, but he was the guy who cleaned up donald trump's
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problems. the ray donovan guy, the guy who wept to moskow and many other countries around the world. is trump telling the truth michael cohen was not much of a lawyer for him? yes. is donald trump telling the truth about anything else related to michael cohen's in his life, no that is grotesque lie. >> cohen has willingly assisted and provided information critical to several ongoing investigations, according to two sources familiar with the situation in a string of meetings that have exceeded more than 50 hours. mimi roca, what does that tell you? >> that's a lot of time. everyone should understand, though, no one's going to take michael cohen's word at this value. they're not going to write down what he says and then, you know, go into the grand jury and base charges against anyone or any
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entity on that alone. they are going to try and corroborate and cross-reference and, you know, double-check as much as they humanly can. and that is often a lot. particularly when we're talking about information about the trump organization. you know, it sounds like cohen is giving information in so many different avenues here. we know he's talking to mueller or that's what's been reported. we know now he's talking to the southern district and the new york a.g.'s office. that's going to dove tail with the tax investigations we know the new york a.g.'s office was looking at. clearly the southern district is expanded beyond michael cohen and is looking more broadly at the trump organization and its role in these hush money payments and other things like that. cohen has so much different information and john's exactly right. it doesn't matter what you call him. you can call him a pr person,
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you can call him a guy, it really doesn't matter. it matters what he knows and that's what's being conveyed now and that's what's important. >> very busy prosecutors have decided to spend 50 hours with him. lanny davis made a comment to the associated press today, and they report it as cohen's attorney lanny davis said his client had two words for the president's claims on truth versus lies, audio and tape. he said the president should be worried. john heilemann, lanny davis' two words, audio and tape. >> yes, that sort of clarifies the point mimi was making. what we should really call him is he's the guy who has the goods and the goods are in the form of audio. to mimi's point is yes, michael cohen is also a liar. and i'm certain if he thought he
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could get away with lying to prosecutors to cep his sentencing going forward, he could get away with it, too. he's trying to stay out of jail, so he has an incentive to tell the truth in this instance, and the second thing is some of the audiotape. much more of it is not yet public. in the end the value michael cohen has to bring to prosecutors and the threat he poses to donald trump is the breadth of his knowledge and to ability to back it up not just with his word but hard evidence in the form of audio. >>enstein said this today to "the wall street journal." it reports mr. rosenstein offered a forceful defense of thequiry saying the public would have faith in its findings. at the end of the day the public will have confidence the cases we brought was warranted by the evidence and that it was an
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appropriate use of resources. and mimi, that is strong expression of confidence by rod rosenstein who knows that these findings will be thrown into a political cross fire. >> it's also just extraordinary that he did this interview and that he did it now so close to the election, shortly after the meeting with trump on the plane that made people sort of question whether he was still operating independently. and i wonder -- we don't know for sure, but i wonder if that's part of why he did this. there were some mixed messages in some of the things rosenstein said. but i think that quote you pointed to really seemed to be saying, look, there's stuff coming down the pipe. and whatever happens the people are going to be watching this investigation. and that's a strong statement for him to make right now. >> and given the justice department rules on this they can relax between now and election day that the special
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prosecutors won't be reviewing anything dramatic or serious during that time. >> i think that's right. and look, we saw some reporting i believe in bloomberg that sources close to the the mueller inquiry were suggesting that mueller was pretty close to rolling out some charges, the kinds of things that were suggested by the rosenstein interview right after the election. and certainly we've all been waiting for a long time. we thought bob mueller was more or less done with the exception of an interview with trump -- he was more or less done with the obstruction inquiry. those charges are ready to roll. i think, you know, republicans can breathe easy between now and november 6th, but we can have a pretty busy time immediately following november 6th before thanksgiving, even if it's possible. >> john heilemann is going to stay with us. he's reporting from north dakota tonight, and he will be back
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with his report on the north dakota senate race with heidi heitkamp, democratic senator trying to hold onto her seat. he'll join us with that report next. ld onto her seat he'll join us with that report next (avo) life doesn't give you many second chances. but a subaru can. you guys ok? you alright? wow. (avo) eyesight with pre-collision braking. standard on the subaru ascent. presenting the all-new three-row subaru ascent. love is now bigger than ever. the full value oft wyour new car? you'd be better off throwing your money right into the harbor. i'm gonna regret that.
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traffic and roads... a mess, honestlyrents going up,le. friends and family moving out of state, millions of californians live near or below the poverty line. politicians like gavin newsom talk about change, but they've done nothing. sky-high gas and food prices. homelessness. gavin newsom, it happened on your watch.
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so, yeah. it is time for a change. time for someone new. democrat senator heidi heitkamp's re-election camp pain has been struggling in the polls since she voted for brett kavanaugh's confirmation in the supreme court. requiring voter i.d.s that include specific residential address, they know it's very common for residents of reservations to simply use
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post-office box address in all of their identification. the suppression of the tribal vote and senator heitkamp's decision to vote against the confirmation of brett kavanaugh meant that her campaign was going to be in an up hill climb in which they could not afford any mistakesch and then the heitkamp campaign made a serious mistake. the challenger criticized the me too movement about being for victimization. and as "the new york times" reports, mr. kramer said they cannot understand this movement towards victimizization. they are pie nears of the prairie. these are tough people whose parents were tough and great-grandparents were tough. saying we are all survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault or rape, we are all
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north dakotans, we are all prairie tough. the heitkamp's camp failed to check with every woman's name who appeared as a signatory. senator heitkamp never mentioned this was mistake made by her campaign staff. >> this has caused tremendous concern and hurt for a lot of the women who were listed. it's -- it's very humbling for me to stand here and say how as an advocate for victims for violence that we did something that added to their hurt. this is a bad, bad mistake. we're going to do everything we can to take responsibility and to make that this never happens again, but also make sure that
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we are repeatedly saying how sorry we are to the people whose names were on this letter that did not authorized their names to be used. >> you seemed emotional about the thing from today. >> this is very hard. i mean my whole life has been protecting victims and part of that is protecting their anonymity. and to have this happen is unacceptable, and it's wrong. and i think we need to own it, i need to say i think way too often people say we're protecting victims, and what does that mean? well, that means that you take ownership when you've done something that hurts victims, and that's what i'm trying to do. >> and john heilemann is back with us. john, what i've been struck by in her explanations is that she as she says takes ownership of it, this was a staff mistake. i mean, this was not something she did but she takes ownership
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of it. how does that answer playing with the audience you saw deliver it to? >> i think it played well with that audience, lawrence. i think the way in she owned it, she took a bad situation. she has no explanation for it, they have no excuse. they let someone go from the campaign today. but in that room from heitkamp's supporters i think she owned the mistake and apologize for it. i think as a political matter it's left her campaign which you suggested in your intro in a difficult place. she was starting to see someday light with kevin kramer pulling away even before the kavanaugh vote. the margin has widened during the kavanaugh confirmation controversy. we haven't seen polling since the vote itself. but because of the polling in the state on kavanaugh she knew that taking that vote was going
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to imperil her career even more than it was already in peril. she told me later in this interview, she said, i knew this was the hill that i was choosing to die on in some ways, that i was making a vote that was a very tough vote. i know i had to make it, and i knew it might cost me re-election, and i was willing oo do it. she's spirited and she's tough, but the circumstances here are very, very -- have very difficult for her going forward. and this mistake she made on monday has not made anything better. >> you can watch politics for a long time and not see a senator cast a vote where the senator knowingly is very, very aware this could cost an election. how is the kavanaugh vote -- what does she hear about the kavanaugh vote on the campaign trail? >> i think she's hearing obviously, and we're hearing this going around talking to voters, too, as we have in a lot of places in the country. there are clearly a lot of women who admire -- that agree with her for voting no, who think she
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was -- that her main political virtue in this state is not someone who's she's with trump about half the time, against trump about half the time. what people admire her for is her political independence. and there's a lot of people here whose attitude is politics has gotten way too tribal in america. it's a conservative state, but a state as you recall put people like the u.s. senate democrats of an independent center strike. they like that about heidi heitkamp. and i think there are a fair number of voters and say it was a vote of courage, a vote where she was voting against the easy politics of the moment and what the polls told her to do. so she gets credit for it in some quarters, but you also run into a lot of conservative voters in this state. it's a very red state. she's the only democrat statewide here, the state legislators, the governor, the other senator all republicans, and very republican. there are a lot of voters here,
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especially a lot of men we run into think it's disgusting she voted against kavanaugh and kavanaugh got railroaded. >> she is not backing away from the sexual assault issues raised by the kavanaugh hearing. let's take a look at the new ad that the heitkamp campaign is running. and this is an ad that's emerged after this controversy with the print ad. let's look at this. >> when he dismissed sexual assault. >> there was no type of intercourse or anything like that. nothing happened in term of a sexual event beyond obviously the attempt. >> you see there is a hyperse hypersensitivity. >> you shouldn't be surprised when women are abused. >> when someone disagreed with him kevin kramer said he wanted to quote, wring their neck and slam them against the wall. >> so, john, the heitkamp
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campaign is not pulling away from that issue. >> no, and i think lawrence it goes back to the thing we talked about. i said i don't know i've seen many tougher votes than the votes she took. and she took it -- she was the attorney general of the state for two terms. she's prosecuted a lot of sexual assault cases. her mother was a victim of sexual assault and harassment. this was something that came out in the wake of that kramer comment about women playing victim, and she revealed her mother was a victim. so she made her choice on this vote, and i think she recognizes that's the hand she's playing. and if she's going to play that hand and die on that hill, not going to go down without fighting this issue on the way out. >> john heilemann, thank you for joining us from north dakota tonight. appreciate it. coming up, donald trump won pennsylvania by one percentage point. but the trump republican senate candidate is now down by 15 points. now down by 15 points
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donald trump won the swing state of pennsylvania by one percentage point. he has no margin of error there, and he has campaigned heavily for pennsylvania republicans. here he is with the republican candidate for senate in pennsylvania. >> we need republicans. we need lou barleta, he is
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tough. we need lou barletta. we do. he's tough. they're looking you, lou. they're liking you. >> tonight lou barletta is trailing by 15 points. the republican candidate for governor in pennsylvania is trailing the democrat incumbent by 22 points. one of it reasons why donald trump is of no value to republicans running in pennsylvania now is that donald trump from the first day of his presidency has done absolutely nothing to appeal to any voter who has not already voted for president trump. president trump's approval rating has been holding in and around a stable 43%. ben bradley, jr. has been studying the vote in pennsylvania and talking to voters how donald trump won the state. he'll join us next as we consider why donald trump cannot seem to help pennsylvania republicans now. to help pennsy
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joining us now, ben bradlee jr., the author of "the forgotten: how the people of one pennsylvania county elected donald trump and changed america." ben, when you look at the way the republicans are running in pennsylvania now, trailing democrats, possibly losing five republican house seats, if the base in pennsylvania is sticking with donald trump, if they're still sticking with him, why can't he transfer that support
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to other republican candidates? >> well, you spotlighted lou barletta. he's one of the people i profiled in my book. and he was donald trump really before donald trump. he focused on illegal immigration as an issue and took it national really. and he was one of the first to endorse trump. the question will be whether trump's coattails are long enough to pull him over in the senate race against bob casey. it looks like they're not at the moment. >> when you talk to trump voters for your book and i guess it was several months ago you were last able to check in with them for the book. of the 12 in your focus group only one trump voter was in doubt about donald trump at this point. >> right. i checked in with them much more recently even after the book closed, i've been in touch with
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them informally. and that number still holds. of the 12 i profiled, 11 say that if the election were to be held -- the 2020 election were to be held tomorrow they would enthusiastically vote for trump. only one has slipped into the undecided, as you mentioned. i guess the question becomes both for the midterms and 2020 is what is the ceiling on trump's base. >> is it a ceiling? and if he were to lose, say, 1 in 12 in pennsylvania, then he would lose the state. i mean, that's -- he doesn't have that kind of margin there on his 2016 win. >> no, he doesn't. he only won the state by 44,000 votes. and the county that i focused on, luzerne county, supplied 26,000 of those votes, or 60%. so without this county, luzerne,
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he wouldn't have won the state of pennsylvania or perhaps the presidency to the extent pennsylvania's demographics are similar to the two other key swing states, michigan and wisconsin. >> and ben, that county as you report had been voting democratic for several previous presidential elections. >> they hadn't voted for a republican since 1988, bush sr. they'd voted for obama twice. but they surged for trump. and he won it by 20 points. you had all these democrats crossing over to vote in the republican primary for trump. and of course they stayed with him for the general. they said that the -- they felt that the democratic party had left them rather than them leaving the democratic party. >> and when we look at the midterm election results coming
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in from pennsylvania, what will you be looking for? >> well, barletta will certainly be one barometer. but it will be a referendum on trump. and the question is after the redistricting in pennsylvania how many house seats will the democrats pick up? it looks like at least four. i'll be look at those things. >> ben bradlee jr. the book is entitled "the forgotten." thank you very much for joining us tonight. >> thanks. >> and tonight's last word is next. last word is next
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stephen colbert is at cbs, where of course "60 minutes" is done. and so stephen colbert's dream has come true for tonight's last word. stephen colbert gets to be a "60 minutes" correspondent. >> you've been president for two years. >> there's something really terrible and disgusting about that. >> i agree. how would you sum up your administration so far? >> it is vicious. it's full of lies, deceit, and deception. >> speaking of which, if you get rid of jeff sessions, who would you replace him with? >> pillows and blankets. >> stephen colbert gets tonight's last word. this weekend msnbc is going to los angeles for politicon. msnbc and nbc will host films and panels with many of msnbc's
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hosts and reporters who cover politics. if you're in the area join us at the los angeles convention center or go to politicon.com to find out more. "the 11th hour" with brian williams starts now. tonight the final article written by jamal khashoggi before he vanished from inside that consulate in turkey. the topic, a free press. meanwhile, president trump still seemingly on the side of the saudis. plus rod rosenstein tonight defending the russia investigation, calling it appropriate and independent. we've got a former u.s. attorney standing by with more. and this president is a lot of things, but subtle he is not. a day after publicly calling a woman horseface he's talking about his popularity with college-educated women while placing himself between two women for the cameras to see all of it as "the 11th hour" gets under way on a wednesday night. good evening once again from our nbc news headquarters here in new york. day 636

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