tv The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell MSNBC July 9, 2019 10:00pm-11:00pm PDT
that does it for us tonight. i will see you again tomorrow when our guest for the interview here is going to be senator bernie sanders. since he launched his 2020 presidential campaign. then the following day on thursday, we are going to have another presidential contender, california senator kamala harris is going to be here as well. megan rapinoe tonight. bernie sanders tomorrow. kamala harris the -- stressing myself out. now it's time for "the last word" with lawrence o'donnell. good evening, lawrence. >> good evening, rachel. those are important interviews you have coming up, that's for sure. they're very important. but how can they possibly, possibly be as exciting as -- as tonight's interview? there is nothing like watching a rachel maddow interview where rachel maddow is so excited, as she was tonight. >> yes, excited, nervous, i've sweated through my suit, the whole thing. like, i'm actually more nervous now that she's gone than i was when she was here.
i'm like flop sweat through the whole rest of the show. it's very exciting. did you watch -- >> of course. wouldn't miss a minute of it. >> i watched the entire thing standing up and jumping up and down. >> so it was a workout for you, that game. >> the only one i've had all week. >> thank you, rachel. >> thank you, lawrence. well, here is something we've never seen before, and that is something we say a lot in trump world, the attorney general of the united states says on monday he's recusing himself from the case and the next day, today, he says he's not recusing himself from the case. attorney general william barr has changed his mind and decided he will supervise the new sex trafficking case against donald trump's old friend jeffrey epstein. we will consider why the attorney general should recuse himself, including the fact that his father hired jeffrey epstein many years ago and why the attorney general has decided to unrecuse himself. we'll discuss that later in this hour. also later in the hour, former cia director john brennan
will join us to discuss the president's reaction to the british ambassador to the united states telling the truth about the president of the united states in his diplomatic communications with london. communications that have now leaked. those communications show exactly how well the british ambassador understands the president of the united states and the people who work for the president of the united states and why the ambassador told the british government to never expect donald trump to change or -- or expect his white house staff to ever become competent. we'll discuss that later in the hour. but we begin tonight with the breaking news exclusive by nbc news. a report on the treatment of children by u.s. border agents which includes an allegation of sexual assault. the report first published on nbcnews.com by jacob soboroff and julia ainsley details the
findings of some government investigators who have been interviewing children held in arizona. julia ainsley will join us in a moment to discuss her reporting, including the sexual assault of a teenage girl. a 15-year-old girl from honduras described a large bearded officer putting his hands inside her bra, pulling down her underwear and groping her as part of what was meant to be a routine patdown in front of other immigrants and officers. the girl said she felt embarrassed as the officer was speaking in english to other officers and laughing during the entire process. according to a report of her account. a teenage boy accused officers of calling the boys puto, spanish slang for male prostitute. nbc news reports in nearly 30 accounts obtained from significant incident reports prepared between april 10th and june 12th by case managers for the department of health and human services, the department responsible for migrant children after they leave cbp custody, kids who spent time in the yuma
border station repeatedly described poor conditions that are not pure byproducts of overcrowded. they reported being denied a phone call, not allowed a shower, sleeping outside or only with a mylar blanket or feeling hungry before their dinner time. joining us now is julia ainsley. she's one of the reporters who broke the story. julia, this is extraordinary reporting. as i read it, it's based on government reports of what's going on in this facility. >> and that's key, lawrence, because it's not that this is coming from their individual lawyers and that the government has not been aware of this behavior. some of these interviews date back to april. they go from mid-april to mid-june, and these are routine interviews. when a child is taken out of border patrol custody and placed in the hands of health and human services, they're assigned a case worker, and the first thing
that person does is sit down with the child and talk about everything they've been through and often times they describe what they went through in border patrol custody. so jacob and i went through dozens of these and found dozens that are new to us and you and i tonight, but they are not new to the government, and i think that's really key, that they've known about this for some time, particularly the sexual assault allegation. we went to dhs and they said that that this under investigation by their inspector general but they couldn't answer basic questions like, is this large bearded officer that she described still employed by customs and border protection? has he had any kind of punishment or recourse? what was the result of this? and at first that initial intake the officer said, no, there will be no investigation. so at this point we think they're looking into it. we don't know how long it took them. also, what this really does if you zoom back. we've heard a lot of reports
about terrible conditions because of overcrowding in el paso, texas, like that clint, texas border facility we've been talking about for weeks and also in rio grande valley. this widens it to arizona, which shows it's not just happening in texas, there is something systemic in border protection where these agents are not being held accountable and it's more than just an overcrowding problem. overcrowding doesn't cause sexual assault. overcrowding doesn't cause agents to come in and retaliate against children who are upset because they're getting poor water and poor food and take away the only mats they have to sleep on. overcrowding doesn't mean you don't offer a child a shower. so we're seeing something that is systematic and i think there are still more questions than answer, unfortunately. >> julia, this comes after a big "new york times" and "el paso times" combined team reporting in sunday's "new york times" about what they find going on in the facility, the border patrol station at clint, texas. and one of the things that was included in that report were unnamed border patrol agents talking about how they were reporting this kind of thing up
the ladder, up the chain of the command and nothing was happening, and it's actually -- repeatedly a very sympathetic portrayal of some border patrol agents, at least some of them who refer to the conditions as heartbreaking. how do you square that reporting with this reporting and did -- in any of the government reports about what these children experienced, did any of those children report positive experiences with border patrol agents or feeling the sympathies of border patrol agents? >> so i think we have to look at the context of these reports. they would only do a report with their case manager if they experienced something troubling. so we aren't going to get glowing reports of border agents coming to their rescue. that isn't something that we saw. we saw more of the reports of the negative behavior. but i think that is what would trigger a report like this to be filed in the first place.
but, yes, reporting that jacob and i have done previously did show that border agents have been concerned about this in the past. they were even in el paso arming themselves because they were worried about riots because they saw how these people were being treated. some of them were going into early retirement because they just couldn't take the treatment -- they couldn't take their jobs and the way these immigrants were being treated in their custody. they felt overwhelmed. so i don't want to say that all of these border agents aren't doing this job, but there is clearly something going on here when the concerns of those border agents aren't being heard and then the concerns of these children aren't being heard by officials in washington in a timely matter. what we've heard over and over again from officials here like acting secretary kevin mcaleenan is that they simply need more space. in yuma, they did open a soft-sided facility in the end of june to move more children there just outside the border station where all these incidents took place. y, that alleviates overcrowding.
one boy described he had to wait for someone to stand up before he could find a place to lie down and go to sleep. it alleviates that but it doesn't alleviate the misconduct we've seen and it doesn't hold accountability for a lot of these situations that we've heard of, not just in yuma, but across the border. >> julia ainsley, please stay with us as we're joined in our discussion by two democratic congresswomen from california who visited the facilities in el paso and clint, texas last week. joining us now. and congresswoman, i want you to know julia's still here if you want to ask her anything about what she found. i just want to add to her reporting to you, congresswoman barrigan let me begin with you. when they complained about the taste of water and food they were given, the border patrol agents took the mats out of their cells in retaliation, forcing them to sleep on hard concrete.
these are the reports of the negative experiences that the children are having. >> it's the pretty sick and disturbing that you have border agents retaliating if a child is saying that the water tastes bad. i mean, to punish them so that they can't sleep or have to sleep on a hard floor is very disturbing, lawrence. this is why we need to make sure that congress has the ability to go into these facilities, to have oversight provisions, but then making sure we're holding people accountable. this is completely unacceptable. >> and congresswoman chu, julia's reporting also shows that the children don't know whether it's day or night because the lights are kept on 24 hours a day. they don't really have a sense of time. and other kind of sense deprivation that they're constantly going through. >> the conditions that were described were absolutely horrifying, and these reports even go one step further with the sexual assault. it does remind me of what we saw at clint, and it shows that
there is a huge problem with the customs and border patrol. there is a callousness on the part of the cbp agents, which we saw, of course, in their facebook posts that showed them laughing at the deaths of migrants. so there is a problem from the grassroots cbp agents all the way up to the very top, i think, and that's why we do need to hold them accountable. that's what our house bill would have done. we need to make sure that there are minimum standards of medical care, hygiene and nutrition and accountability as far as where these funds go. the funds that we just allocated better go to improving the conditions of these facilities. so that these people can be treated humanely. >> and congresswoman barragan, are these reports that the congress is going to be able to obtain?
>> we should be getting these reports and it's disturbing that congress has not heard about this. we've certainly hat different officials come before congress. nobody has brought this up. as a matter of fact, when we had an official from orr come in and was asked about sexual allegations, abuse allegations, they almost got offended by it. and so this is critically important that congress be informed about what is happening so we can continue to have oversight. and, lawrence, i begin to wonder whether we need to have new procedures in place where we have female officers overseeing young girls at these facilities and not letting the men do it. it's just disturbing when you hear about this, and then to hear that there was going to be no investigation, completely unacceptable and we have to do something to stop this from happening and exposing other young girls to people like this. if this is what is going on. >> congresswoman chu, there is an accusation of sexual assault
in julia's reporting, but that's coming from a government report. it's a government report that the congress has not seen. is there a way for the congress to get every possible report of any accusation of sexual abuse in these facilities? >> we need to get those reports and we can get those reports. we need to make sure that this sexual assault is investigated, but even more importantly, we need to make sure that there is fundamental change in what's going on. now, when we went to clint, i was just shocked that the head supervising border patrol agent just denied all the accounts that we had heard. we know that when the flores immigration attorneys went to investigate, 60 children reported pretty much the same horrific conditions and now we have nearly 30 accounts of what is taking place at the yuma
facility. this head agent denied everything. but you know what? i believe the children. and we should all believe the children. and we have to change these conditions. >> julia ainsley, quickly, is there any way for -- in your reporting to determine how common this negative experience is? is it something that most of the children experience? is there a way of putting it into some kind of shape in terms of how common this is? >> that's a really good question. i mean, what i would need to ask health and human services is, out of all of the interviews you do with the thousands of children that are coming to your custody, how many of them report -- do the significant incident reports. i haven't gotten that answer. but it is clear, you know, what jacob and i reviewed, jacob soboroff, my colleague, what we reviewed is just the tip of the iceberg. we understand there were hundreds of other reports from yuma. we're just getting our hands on the first batch now.
there are more where this comes from. >> julia ainsley, thank you for joining us and your reporting. and congresswomen, thank you for starting off our discussion. thank you. really appreciate it. when we come back, the attorney general recused himself yesterday and then put himself back on the case today. attorney general barr is now supervising the sex trafficking prosecution of a defendant who the attorney general's father worked with many years ago. in fact, the attorney general's father hired jeffrey epstein to teach young boys and young girls at a private school in new york city. that's next. ♪
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in a stunning reversal today, the attorney general of the united states announced that he will take control of the new federal prosecution of jeffrey epstein, a friend of donald trump's, an old friend of donald trump's who has been charged with sex trafficking of young girls in federal court in new york city.
after the dramatic surprise arrest of jeffrey epstein by the fbi when his private plane landed in new jersey in from paris and after jeffrey epstein was dragged into federal court in manhattan on monday, pleaded not guilty and was ordered held without bail by a federal judge. after all of that, attorney general william barr was asked about the biggest new criminal case in the justice department yesterday, the jeffrey epstein case, and the attorney general very clearly said this. >> i'm recuse from that matter. because one of the law -- one of the law firms that represented epstein long ago was a firm that i subsequently joined for a period of time. >> that was yesterday. today the attorney general said nothing about the jeffrey epstein case, but the attorney general did order an unnamed justice department official to leak to selected news media that the attorney general will not recuse himself from the new jeffrey epstein case.
bloomberg reported the news this way. attorney general william barr won't recuse himself from involvement in the new charges filed against alleged sex trafficker jeffrey epstein by federal prosecutors in new york, according to a justice department official. barr made the decision on tuesday after consulting with career ethics officials at the department, said the official who asked not to be identified discussing a sensitive matter. but barr has recused himself from any retrospective review of the justice department's decision more than a decade ago, letting epstein avoid prosecution on federal sex trafficking offenses in florida. it is impossible for william barr to recuse himself from a review of what happened in the sex trafficking case against jeffrey epstein in florida because that is a central part of jeffrey epstein's defense in the new case. one of epstein's lawyers told the judge at his arraignment yesterday that the deal jeffrey
epstein made with federal prosecutors in florida means that jeffrey epstein cannot now be charged by federal prosecutors in new york. the attorney told the judge in manhattan that the florida deal will be a central part of epstein's defense. he said that the florida deal was a "global resolution" of the federal charges against jeffrey epstein. so the attorney general is not telling the truth. what is the attorney general afraid of? why didn't the attorney general himself announce his new position on recusal today since he publicly said yesterday that he was recused from the case? why is the attorney general afraid of explaining this publicly himself? why is the attorney general insisting that the justice department official who leaked the information not even be named in the news reports? why did this new position on recusal have to be leaked and not delivered to all of the news media in a written press release? what is william barr up to? what is he is afraid of? that is the question tonight in
the jeffrey epstein case. and as we reported at this hour last night, the attorney general has an even stronger reason to recuse himself than the one he mentioned yesterday. attorney general barr's father hired jeffrey epstein to be a math teacher at the dalton school on the upper east side of manhattan when the attorney general's father was the headmaster of that elite and very expensive private school. william barr's father hired jeffrey epstein to teach high school boys and high school girls even though jeffrey epstein is not even a college graduate. that is now and was then unthinkable in a school like dalton. a year later, william barr's father abruptly resigned from the dalton school after the board of trustees decided to investigate the way william barr's father was running that school.
and not long after that, jeffrey epstein left the school and started his new life on wall street. should the attorney general of the united states be supervising a prosecution of a criminal defendant who was hired by and worked for the attorney general's father? the attorney general first recused himself yesterday then unrecused himself today and is not telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth about his multiple recusal decisions. as we so often say in the world of donald trump, we have never seen anything like this. no attorney general of the united states has ever made a series of recusal decisions like this. joining our discussion now, mimi rocah, former u.s. assistant attorney in the southern district of new york and zerlina maxwell. mimi, i was hoping we could have you here tonight because you're a veteran of the southern district of new york, the district that brought this prosecution against jeffrey epstein, where suddenly the attorney general has flipped in a day and decided he does want
to be involved in it. what do you make of yesterday's statement by the attorney general on recusal and today's leak that he's not recused from the new epstein case? >> i'm very vary. and you asked all the right questions and are highlighting all of the things about this that just send up, you know, red flags. first of all, why -- if bill barr says i'm going to recuse because of my connection to kirkland & ellis, which was the law firm at which one of epstein's main attorneys back negotiating that sweetheart slap on the wrist plea deal that epstein got from acosta back in florida. so it's not just that, you know, barr was affiliated with a law firm. it's a law firm that was really at the center of this controversy. >> but barr says he wasn't at the law firm at the time of this case. >> okay. but, you know, you join a law firm, i wednesday was he there? is he friends with him? it's not any law firm, but in
this case the relationship, the role of jay in that law firm and acosta with that plea, there is a meeting between acosta and jay offsite during these plea negotiations that is highly inappropriate in which he basically gets an agreement from acosta not to tell the victims about the plea and he follows up with an email. that's how we know about it. he says thank you for your agreement, mr. acosta, u.s. attorney, to not tell the victims about this plea deal. so barr's connection to that law firm is problematic. i'm not sure it was mandatory recusal, but he said he was going to recuse because of that. to now draw this artificial line and say, well, i'm recused from that florida part as you point out, but not going forward is a
completely artificial line that all of a sudden is drawn the day after this, you know, bombshell case comes out from the southern district of new york that i'm sure is making donald trump, amongst others, very nervous. and his buddy epstein for sure because it's a strong case. and so it just looks so bad. and this -- the bottom line is when you have an attorney general that you can't trust is defending justice and looking out for the department of justice, that's where this problem really comes to light. we cannot have faith in bill barr, and that's where his whole history so far is now just, you know, coming to the fore. >> so, zerlina, bill barr's father -- >> yes. >> -- his father hired jeffrey epstein, who he knew was not a college graduate. jeffrey epstein took a couple of college courses in physics. and he hired him at one of the most expensive private schools in manhattan to teach math, knowing he wasn't a college graduate.
bill barr knows, he knows tonight that his father hired jeffrey epstein. he may have known it at the time that his father hired jeffrey epstein. >> right. >> he may have known jeffrey epstein at that time. we don't know. >> we don't know. >> but he does -- he's not recusing himself because of that. >> well, the thing that's so weird to me is not in isolation that he hired him without, you know, the requisite experience, it's that, you know, sexual predation of this type, it's not something that starts when you're 35 or 45, right? if, you know, that's consistent and holds here and obviously the prosecution yesterday made an eloquent presentation sort of explaining some of this. he probably had some of these behaviors that folks were aware of at the time. the fact you're hiring someone who has no experience and this predation towards teenage girls and is trafficking girls, according to the paperwork filed yesterday. that's what bothers me. it's not hiring an inexperienced person. maybe he had great
relationships. people get jobs all the time. it's the fact that he's a predator and you're placing him with potential victims and nobody's stepping in to say, wait, hold up, this person, we need to go more research on this person and do a background check. then you see this person for decades. i think that we've learned a lot in the me too era about enablers. we've learned a lot about the fact that people are not predatory in isolation, that there are people around that individual that are allowing it to continue, whether it be assistants to jeffrey epstein who are -- or young women who are going out to recruit additional victims. there is a circle of people that are -- that all need to be held accountable and not just jeffrey epstein, and i think bill barr's father is in that group and i think donald trump and his associates are in that group. so i'm sure donald trump may be nervous today, but i'm sheer the people who hang out with donald trump are also nervous today. >> mimi, we're going to squeeze in the a break here quickly, but on barr and his father. you're the attorney general of the united states. let's imagine a situation in which a defendant like this eventually decides he's going to
tell everything. for whatever reaso may or may not develop, he's going to tell everything, and that story begins when he's a high school teacher at the high school where your father hired him and you're the unrecused attorney general that is supervising the investigation. >> that would be an unwavable, insurmountable conflict. >> but recusal is about getting out before the conflict arises, right? >> no, absolutely. and that is why, i mean, whether he needs to or not because of the law firm, because of what his father did, he should get out. he said he was going to get out and it is very suspicious to me that all of a sudden the day after this bombshell case, oh, no, i'm not out from this. and it just looks bad and part of recusal is about giving
people faith in this justice system. >> one more quick thing. it's entirely possible that william barr discovered this prosecution the same time the rest of us did. it's entirely possible that the southern district did not alert him so he wasn't in a position to stop it before the arrest and the arraignment. >> exactly. that's why i'm saying that it's suspicious that this is happening the day after because he would not have necessarily known. >> a lot more to talk about, including what donald trump said about jeffrey epstein today and alex acosta. we will do that right after this break.
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at the very same time when jeffrey epstein was trafficking in, having sex with and raping young girls, according to federal prosecutors, new indictment of jeffrey epstein, donald trump called jeffrey epstein a terrific guy. at that very same time. and donald trump said that he knew that jeffrey epstein pursued girls who were, in donald trump's phrase at the time, "on the younger side." the very same time that donald trump was praising jeffrey epstein as a terrific guy and saying that he "he's a lot of fun to be with and that he
pursues young girls, girls on the younger side." at that very same time that donald trump said that, prosecutors now say that jeffrey epstein was a criminal sex trafficker in young girls. and today the president was asked about jeffrey epstein, and, of course, what the president had to say was a lie. >> i had a falling out with him a long time ago. i don't think i've spoken to him for 15 years. i wasn't a fan. i was not -- a long time ago. i'd say maybe 15 years. i was not a fan of his. that i can tell you. i was not a fan of his. >> he was a fan. he said jeffrey epstein was a terrific guy. he said jeffrey epstein was a lot of fun to be with. and donald trump knew. donald trump knew, as he said publicly at the time, that jeffrey epstein pursued girls
"on the younger side." today the president expressed sympathy not for the girls who jeffrey epstein is accused of sexually abusing, but for alex acosta, who was the federal prosecutor in florida who made a very forgiving deal with jeffrey epstein over ten years ago on similar charges, a deal that meant jeffrey epstein served no federal prison time. alex acosta is now donald trump's labor secretary. >> i feel very badly, actually, for secretary acosta because i've known him as being somebody that works so hard and has done such a good job. i feel very badly about that whole situation. >> and back with us, mimi rocah and zerlina maxwell. zerlina, he feels very badly for alex acosta. >> he either seems to always side with the person accused of rape or somebody covering up a crime.
that's backwards. we should have our empathy placed squarely with the victims in this case who were very young and all of whom are recovering from the trauma they experienced as teenagers. that's a lifelong recovery process. that's not something you get over overnight. but in addition, i think there is a compound effect when it comes to donald trump. i am a firm believer that there is eventually going to be a reckoning for donald trump around all of these instances of sexual assault, sexual misconduct and all of these examples where he's siding with people who are accused of those similar crimes. and the reason i say that is because while the people that support him don't care, the people that do not support him, we care a lot, we are angered every single time this happens. one in four women survive sexual assault in their lifetimes, and so now each time he does something like this, we're more activated to push back and resist against this administration so we make sure we don't have a president who is credibly accused of multiple rapes, who is on television defending people who covered up child rape. >> mimi, the -- alex acosta's handling of this case, it's going to be -- jeffrey epstein's lawyer said it's going to be central to his defense. he's going to use it. the first thing that's going to happen apparently on the defense side is a motion to dismiss on the basis of what he calls his global agreement with alex
acosta. >> yeah. and i think that motion's going to fail. i understand why they're making the argument, but if you look -- i mean, the southern district pre-empted this in their detention letter. they were well aware this was coming. in their detention letter they said as a little aside, by the way, that little florida agreement, it doesn't bind us. is says in the language this is specific to the southern district of florida, and, by the way, there is a case law in the second circuit that says unless an agreement, a plea agreement says it binds all u.s. attorneys offices, it only binds one. so they have the language of the agreement and the law on their side. they knew this was coming. this is not, like, some rookie thing here. they expected this to be coming and they are going to lose that argument. but, of course they're going to make it. this is their job. they're defense attorneys.
but it's going to simply highlight, frankly, how abominable, how horrible, how pathetic that original plea was, and i do not see how alex acosta stays in this job. he's not just any cabinet member. he is the department of labor. that oversees human trafficking. sex trafficking. human trafficking. he should not be in this position. he let a sex trafficker go. if you read judge mara's opinion in florida where he found that the prosecutors violated the victims rights act in not notifying the victims, these emails between the prosecutors and the defense attorneys, it was a calculated decision to keep it from the victims. i cannot tell you as a former prosecutor how shocking that is to me and why that press conference yesterday with the u.s. attorney in the southern district of new york and the director of the fbi was frankly such an emotional punch in favor of justice where they said these victims deserve their day in court and we are giving it to them. it was a rebuke to what acosta did. >> we're going to have to leave it there for tonight. mimi rocah and zerlina maxwell, thank you both for joining us tonight.
we really appreciate it. when we come back, the trump administration was back in court today trying to destroy the affordable care act, declaring it unconstitutional. a group of democratic state attorney general was defending the affordable care act. and later cia director john brennan will give us his take on the british ambassador to the united states telling the truth about trump. united states telling the truth about trump. most people think a button is just a button. ♪ that a speaker is just a speaker. ♪ or - that the journey can't be the destination. most people haven't driven a lincoln. discover the lincoln approach to craftsmanship at the lincoln summer invitation. right now, get 0% apr on all 2019 lincoln vehicles plus no payments for up to 90 days. only at your lincoln dealer.
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his attempt to destroy the affordable care act. by the trump justice department. the justice department appeared in a federal appeals court hearing in which the trump justice department is attempting to have the entire affordable care act declared unconstitutional and struck down by the federal courts. defending the affordable care act in court are 21 democratic attorneys general from 21 states fighting to preserve the affordable care act. the leader of the defense team is the attorney general who represents more people than in any other state attorney general. california's attorney general javier becerra. joining us now is attorney general becerra. thank you very much for joining us tonight. what was your feeling about the proceedings today in court and where do you think the case stands at this point? >> hi, lawrence. well, like any time you go before an appellate panel, you're going to get tough questions.
all sides got tough questions. i think we can figure out where texas is. they want the whole law eliminated. we can't quite yet figure out where the federal government is. the trump administration, i don't think even they know what their argument was because they've flip-flopped so many times. we've made it very clear that the law has been found constitutional by the supreme court already. the law has been held lawful on many occasions and the law continues to work, so we have millions of americans who today benefit from health care that they got as a result of the affordable care act. that's our argument. pretty simple. >> and this -- the supreme court in its initial finding of constitutionality relied heavily on the tax component, the tax penalty component of the individual mandate. republicans then legislated the individual mandate away, so that leaves a hole in the law now. and the question becomes, will the supreme court still consider it constitutional if one of the linchpins of its constitutionality is gone? is that basically the way this
argument will unfold before the supreme court if it makes it that far? >> actually, lawrence, i'd use different language because the congress in 2017 through a tax code change did not get rid of the individual mandate. what it did was it zeroed out the penalty that must be paid by individuals who don't get insurance. so instead of charging you a tax, a personal responsibility charge if you don't secure insurance, they just zeroed it out. the law would have required you to pay a fine essentially for not getting insurance. republicans say we're going to zero that out. so they didn't -- they didn't dismiss that portion of it, they just zeroed it out. so that's still there. but even if -- even if by chance you could stretch the argument to say that the individual mandate were gone, and it's not, what does that have to do with pre-existing conditions? what does that have to do with young adults who get to stay on their parents' insurance coverage until they're 26? what does that have to do with seniors on medicare, some 60 million of them, who get
preventive care for free and also prescription drug coverage? so why would all those things disappear simply because through a tax code change republicans in 2017 decided to zero out the penalty for not getting insurance? >> when do you think you get a decision at this appeals court stage? >> it may take a few months. and we'll find out. they may act sooner. the court may act sooner. my sense is that everyone agrees that whatever the decision is, we're probably going up to the next level, the supreme court. >> and therefore we will probably have a supreme court decision on this case in the middle of the presidential campaign next year? >> more than likely. >> california attorney general xavier becerra, thank you very much for joining us tonight. really appreciate it. >> thanks, lawrence. when we come back, why president trump's reaction to the leaked cables of the british ambassador proved every single point made about donald trump in the leaked cables. former cia director john brennan will join us. ♪ limu emu & doug
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donald trump is outraged the british ambassador to the united states has accurately figured him out and delivered his verdict on donald trump to the british prime minister, and other ranking officials in notes leaked this weekend to a british newspaper beginning six months into the trump administration. ambassador kim derek wrote of the trump administration we don't really believe this administration is going to become substantially more normal, less dysfunctional, less unpredictable, less faction rifen, less diplomatically clumsy and inept. and, of course, that's been proven true. the ambassador also wrote of president trump for a man who has risen to the highest office on the planet, president trump radiates insecurity. and the ambassador had this advice to anyone in the british government having to deal with the president who radiates
insecurity. he said you need to start praising him for something he's done recently. you need whenever possible to present them as wins for him. donald trump replied to this story on twitter by calling the british ambassador wacky, stupid, and he called the british prime minister foolish. today prime minister theresa may says she supports the ambassador, and one said if he becomes prime minister, he will keep the ambassador at his post in washington. joining our discussion now is former cia director john brennan, now a senior national security analyst for nbc news. i just have to believe that every embassy in washington, every ambassador in washington has said, sent to his or her government around the world a very similar assessment of donald trump. >> well, absolutely. and kim derek is one of the most
accomplished and experienced british diplomats. he was the national security adviser before he came to washington and he was doing what every ambassador is supposed to do, to report back to their capital their unvarnished views about what is going on in that country. and to give their assessment about the leadership. so i think kim derek's assessment was spot on. and he is well-respected within the diplomatic community in washington. those words are not going to come as a surprise to others. i think he is, again, still one of the most respected diplomats that the united kingdom has posted abroad. >> and six months into the trump presidency he had a very important message that he had them deliver. this presidency has -- it's a four-year term. it's a fixed term. it's not like the united kingdom. and they're going to have to be dealing with them. he said to them, do not expect any changes. that was a time when people in the news media, people in the senate, people in the house were still hoping that there would be changes and improvements in both president trump's behavior and his staff's behavior.
>> yes. and i think he was honest in terms of saying don't write donald trump off. that there's an unpredictableness about him. but he was giving recommendations about how to flatter trump if you want to get your point across. i think kim derek was doing what he had to do, not just making blunt comments about trump but also providing guidance to the british government about how to deal with somebody who truly is an anomaly as far as u.s. presidents are concerned. >> it seems someone was telling kim jong-un something very similar because he got into the flattery of trump business and figured out a way to make that work for him. >> i think everybody knows that if you say nice things about mr. trump or to mr. trump, he's going to like you. he wants to be liked. and i think kim had it right when he said despite being one of the most powerful individuals in the world, he has this
amazing insecurity that he looks at everybody and wonders are they helping me or hurting me. if he feels as if they're not helping him, he's going to go after them. look at the terms he used for kim derek. that's not being presidential but it's not surprising from donald trump. >> the ambassador's communication offers a strategy about dealing with the trump administration. talk to anyone you can who might have an ability to contact trump and influence trump including possibly some of the late night friends and rich guys he gets on the phone with because you can't use or expect to use normal white house channels and expect that to work. >> kim was giving practical advice to the british. if you want to make end roads with donald trump, find the different channels that resketive. whether they're late night talk show hoes or influencers or who leaves thoughts in his heads. again kim derek was doing what he was doing. this is what american ambassadors do around the world. there are a lot of cables i've
seen throughout my career where the cables really detailed and quite stark terms the failings of the shortcomings of leaders. >> psychological profiles of foreign leaders aren't quite so easy to construct as they are of donald trump since he throws his psychological profile out there publicly every day. i didn't read anything in what the ambassador had to say that wasn't public information in the united states. >> that's right. and maybe there was some other cables that will include some other types of conversations that he might have had with other people. he was giving a general view about how to deal with mr. trump and the traits and features of mr. trump that the british have to be able to understand and engage with, particularly as they're involved in sensitive negotiations related to brexit and followon relationships with the united states. kim who i know well and greatly
respect and admire, he i think should be holding his head high today. >> how can it work for a british ambassador who the president of the united states has said absolutely won't deal with him from now forward? >> reports are he disinvited him to the state dinner last evening. they can basically cut him off, and so then it's a question for london to decide whether or not having an ambassador like this is worth keeping in london. i would think maybe some time this year kim will go onto greener pastures? >> isn't there a risk for the british in terms of the principle of if somehow diplomatic cables are leaked, you can lose your job for telling us the truth? >> oh, absolutely. i don't think they're going to pull him right away. i think he's served for three and a half years. four years is about the right time. >> thank you very much. i really appreciate it. that is tonight's last word. the 11th hour with brian williams starts now.
tonight the president tries to distance himself from an old friend, a new york finance year and sex offender. facing new charges. while trump sympathizes with his labor secretary under fire for his handling of the initial case.cr plus the democrats are ng papering washington preparing to issue a dozen subpoenas to witnesses in the mueller report including some big names. the president has gone after the brits again labeling the prime minister foolish. and british ambassador to the u.s. a pompous fool and the 2020 race changed again today. all of it as the 11th gets underway on a tuesday night. good evening once again from our nbc head quarters in new york.ve day 901 of the trump administration and the t prosecution of a high profile lurid sex crimes case has the president in a tough spot over an old friend. this is the case of ff