tv The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell MSNBC August 28, 2017 7:00pm-8:00pm PDT
senator, like chairman grassley, believes we should make as much public as possible and as soon as we can. barring additional and unexpected developments, he would vote in favor. so says orrin hatch's office. that's interesting. it means if one more republican votes to release that transcript, that would mean those ten hours of testimony about the dossier by the guy who commissioned it, who stands by the dossier absolutely, those ten hours of testimony may soon see the light of day, which would really be something. watch this space. this does it for us tonight. we will see you again tomorrow. now it's time for "the last word" with lawrence o'donnell. >> good evening, rachel. let me add one sort of senatorial courtesy point to what you just said, which i think makes it a pretty certain proposition that you're going to see those transcripts. orrin hatch is the senior most republican serving in the senate. he's been there for 40 years. he's actually the longest serving republican senator in
history, and he believes in senate traditions, protocols, courtesies. he would never have said that without checking with chairman chuck grassley. >> so you think that hatch saying that and saying it the way he did means that both hatch and grassley would vote to release the transcript? >> well, what it absolutely means is grassley has no problem with orrin hatch saying that. it doesn't necessarily mean that grassley is going to join him, but it probably means there are others who will come along. also orrin hatch used to be the chairman of the judiciary committee. >> right. >> chuck grassley has complete respect for orrin hatch in this matter and, and hatch would never, never do something that chairman grassley doesn't want him to do in that committee. >> can you imagine if we're going to get the transcript of all ten hours of that testimony all on the dossier from the guy who knows enough about it to say, i stand by it? and he just spent ten hours defending it. >> you know what i'm worried
about? i'm worried about what time we're going to get the transcript. rachel, say it's like, i don't know, 8:30 p.m. for example, just as a way of ruining your life. >> i'll just tell you if it comes out after dinnertime on the east coast, would i commit to doing at an minimum is just reading it out loud on tv. >> just random pages. just anything. >> yeah. >> and it will be breaking news by definition. >> if it comes out by lunch time, we'll act it out. if it comes out by dinner time, you're just going to get it raw. >> thanks, rachel. >> thanks, lawrence. well, even after issuing his very first presidential pardon, president trump clearly does not know that the acceptance of a pardon is an admission of guilt. so by issuing a pardon on friday night to former sheriff joe arpa arpaio, president trump got joe arpaio to confess his guilt by accepting that pardon.
102 years ago, the united states supreme court said that a pardon, quote, carries an imputation of guilt and acceptance of a confession of it. so one thing that you don't hear from presidents who issue pardons is that the person pardoned did nothing wrong because the person pardoned has just admitted guilt. but that's what president trump seems to want us to believe about joe arpaio. in a brief press conference with the president of finland today, president trump offered a childish defense of his pardon of joe arpaio. the president didn't actually defend his pardon as much as he attacked what he said were the bad pardons issued by previous presidents, including some cases that were not pardons at all but simply clemencies and reductions of sentences. but defending your actions by saying other people have done the same thing is not actually a
defense of your actions as you will discover the next time you're pulled over for driving through a stop sign if you try that defense. and so the president criticized president obama's granting of clemency to chelsea manning after chelsea manning had served seven years in prison and had more years remaining on that sentence. the president specifically avoided any mention of president george w. bush commuting the sentence of scooter lib bheby. president bush deliberately refused to actually pardon scooter libby because he did not want to eliminate the finding of guilt against libby, but he did want to eliminate the prison sentence. now, why didn't president trump mention president bush's pardon of scooter libby on his list of bad presidential pardons issued by previous presidents? what could be more unpardonable
than a president pardoning a member of his own administration? well, first of all, as i said, president bush did not actually pardon scooter libby. he simply eliminated libby's prison sentence, which was only a 30-month prison sentence. president bush did not eliminate the $250,000 in fines that was part of libby's sentence, and president bush did not eliminate libby's obligation to report to a probation officer for two years. and perhaps most importantly, president bush allowed the legal process to come to a conclusion in the libby case, including sentencing before the president took action. president trump did something none of the presidents he mentioned today had done. he stepped into a case between conviction and sentencing and did not allow the case to come to a conclusion. so there might be a lot of reasons why president trump did not mention president bush commuting scooter libby's sentence today. trump didn't want to attack a republican. that's one reason.
he obviously enjoyed attacking presidents obama and clinton. but president trump does attack republicans whenever he feels like it, and he certainly has attacked republicans named bush viciously. it seems the really big reason donald trump left george w bush and scooter libby out of his list of bad pardons and clemencies issued by previous presidents is that president trump is saving that one. president trump is saving the case of scooter libby for when he needs it, for when he pardons someone in his administration. if and when president trump pardons members of his administration, including members of his family, that's when you're going to hear him talk about scooter libby. that's when you're going to hear him talk about the president pardoning a member of his administration. and donald trump will call it a pardon, what george w. bush did,
even though george w. bush did not actually pardon scooter libby. listen to what president trump said today about president obama commuting, not pardoning chelsea manning. >> president obama commuted the sentence of chelsea manning, who leaked countless sensitive and classified documents to wikileaks, perhaps and others, but horrible, horrible thing that he did. commuted the sentence and perhaps pardoned. >> commuted the sentence, and then he looks up from his written script and said "perhaps pardoned." no, no, no. not perhaps pardoned. there was no pardon. president obama did not pardon chelsea manning. but donald trump will say whatever he feels like saying if and when he pardons mike flynn or paul manafort or jared kushner or donald trump jr. or
ivanka trump. and one of the things he's absolutely going to say is that president bush pardoned scooter libby. he's going to say that even though it's not true. the president provided no facts whatsoever to back up his pardon of joe arpaio. no facts. just adjectives. he simply said this. >> sheriff joe is a patriot. sheriff joe loves our country. sheriff joe protected our borders. and sheriff joe was very unfairly treated by the obama administration. >> okay. not just adjectives, but you know what i mean. no facts. president joe -- president joe? joe arpaio, called sheriff joe by president trump -- he's not a sheriff. he's a former sheriff who was defeated in his last re-election campaign. joe arpaio was not convicted by the obama administration. joe arpaio was convicted by the
trump administration. federal prosecutors working under trump's attorney general, jeff sessions, prosecuted the case against arpaio, which is why president trump tried to get jeff sessions to drop the case against joe arpaio. "the washington post" reports the president asked attorney general jeff sessions whether it would be possible for the government to drop the criminal case against arpaio, but was advised that would be inappropriate. and listen to this sourcing. according to three people with knowledge of the conversation. so let me guess. three people with knowledge of a conversation between the president and the attorney general. well, it's a good thing that the president has never done anything or said anything to alienate attorney general jeff sessions, so we know the leak couldn't have possibly come from jeff sessions' side of that conversation. it's worth noting that the trump white house remains the leakiest
white house in history, even with former general john kelly as the new chief of staff, who was supposed to, among other things, stop the leaking. todd gillman, the washington bureau chief of the "dallas morning news," got the first question at the press conference today, and he went straight to recovery funding for texas after the devastation of hurricane harvey. >> you've also threatened a government shutdown potentially next month over border wall funding. are these going to hamper long-term -- the funding that will be needed long-term for recovery? >> no, todd. i think that you're going to see very rapid action from congress, certainly from the president, and you're going to get your funding. >> does this situation make you reconsider the possibility of a government shutdown next -- >> i think it has nothing to do with it really. i think this is separate. this is going to go really, very quickly. i've spoken to many of the people we're talking about, and everybody feels the same way i
do. >> funding for hurricane recovery has everything to do with a government shutdown. it has everything to do with everything. paul ryan and other republicans already said they weren't going to have a government shutdown over donald trump's border wall, and now a government shutdown would mean instantly cutting off aid to those people in texas who the president claims to sympathize with. the possibility of a government shutdown now is less than zero. the president's staff will be explaining that to him if they haven't already, and the funding for hurricane recovery probably will not go very quickly or very smoothly. most of the texas congressional delegation, including both texas republican senators, voted against aid for the victims of hurricane sandy. they did that for two reasons. first, they are republicans. and, second, the victims were not in texas. the victims of hurricane sandy were primarily in new jersey and
new york, and now the congressional delegation that voted against aid for the victims of hurricane sandy will be asking congress for, what, $70 billion, $100 billion, more for the victims of hurricane harvey? paul ryan knows he needs to round up votes to raise the debt ceiling and pass a budget, to paul ryan and mitch mcconnell might just decide to put all of those things together in one bill, which means it won't be quick. and a new budget for all of the government, all of the government departments, a raise in the debt ceiling, and special funding for hurricane harvey relief -- all of that in one piece of legislation. if ryan and mcconnell put all those things together in one bill, then senators like ted cruz would be forced to vote for that bill to get the hurricane harvey relief money that they want. otherwise, it might be impossible to get senators like ted cruz to vote for an increase in the debt ceiling or to vote for the budget bill that the republicans are going to have to pass and that they're going to have to develop in a compromise
with democrats. now that the president can no longer threaten a government shutdown to pay for his wall, he is, in effect, writing a new chant for his supporters to use at his next rally. >> is your plan still to have mexico pay for the wall? >> yes, it will. one way or the other, mexico is going to pay for the wall. that's right. it may be through reimbursement, but one way or the other, mexico will pay for the wall. >> and so at the next trump rally, i suppose we'll be hearing something like, and who's going to pay for the wall? whereupon the audience will shout back "mexico will reimburse us for the wall." . joining us now, the president and ceo of vote latino, and steve bell, a senior adviser at the bipartisan policy center. also joining us, ron klain, former chief of staff to vice presidents biden and gore and a former senior aide to president obama. maria teresa, i want to go to
you first on the pardon of joe arpaio and the way the president talks about joe arpaio, who by accepting the pardon has admitted guilt to what he was charged with. but he has a history of much more than what he was charged with, and that's a history that the president ignores. >> absolutely. the doj had found that he basically had violated the constitution under the eighth amendment for cruel and unusual punishment. this is a sheriff who prided himself on running his tent cities like concentration camps. the number of hangings that occurred in his camp with people under detention was unprecedented. he would shackle women while giving childbirth. it goes on and on. and the fact that voters voted him out, they voted him out because they were tired of not only the fact that he was basically terrorizing a whole group of people based on the color of their skin, because it was willy-nilly, but he was also costing the taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars while not
pursuing true crimes. he had close to over 400 back locks of sex crime investigations, and many of them were children. the list goes on. this idea that he was doing his job, no, he wasn't. what president trump just did, he basically threw the book at the constitution because he prevented the judicial branch of government of checks and balances to fully do their job. >> and, ron klain, this intervening between a verdict basically and sentencing is something we haven't seen before. >> you're right, lawrence. you mentioned that before. but this is unprecedented intervention by a president in the judicial process for no reason other than the fact he likes joe arpaio's politics. joe arpaio was a birther and trump tweeted gratitude to him. he is a racist. he is a white supremacist, and that's basically the case president trump was making at this press conference today. you know, he agrees with him.
he thinks he's a good guy. therefore, he gave him a pardon. well, he isn't a good guy, and, you know, this was a series of crucial violations. the justice department began to document under president bush that were further investigated under president obama, and as you said were finally prosecuted under the trump presidency. there is no basis for this pardon. it was an extraordinary act, and there's just no justify kpags f -- justification for what the president and his statement that he did it -- >> it goes without saying, i mean literally goes without saying that joe arpaio would never have been pardoned if he were not a trump supporter. and i mean that's just not mentioned very much in all of this because we take it so for granted. that of course to get a pardon from donald trump, you would have to be a trump supporter. past presidents have always been very careful and afraid of being
associated with pardoning people who were their supporters. i mean they've done it, but it's not something that most presidents want to be caught doing. steve bell, to the president's notion that it's going to be very easy, very quick to get all of this hurricane funding lined up. >> i think it's the same way he said that we were going to have a tax bill by august. even earlier than that, we were going to have a great tax bill. but the fact of the matter is this. they don't have very much time depending on how you want to count 12 to 17 days of congressional action before the 1st of october. they have a number of things they have to get done. the primary one is to increase the debt ceiling before early october. they'll probably have to do that in mid-september sometime. they don't have a budget as you pointed out for fiscal year '18, which starts on october 1st. and i think what they're going to have to do is look the president in the eyeball and say, now, wait a minute.
you said you would not accept a spending bill that didn't fund the wall. does that mean if we send you a spending bill, you will veto it despite the fact that the federal government's money and help is absolutely essential to the recovery to those people who were victims of hurricane harvey. and that's going to be an interesting question for the president about 30 days from now to have to consider. >> and, ron, in the past, hurricane funding has taken sometimes several months for congress to act on. it didn't used to be that way, but starting around 2005, there were some republicans led by mike pence in the house of representatives who started to say, look, if you're going to do disaster funding like this, you must make other cuts in the budget to make up for whatever money you're spending in disaster funding. prior to that, it used to be understood to be an emergency and something that the government was just going to have to spring into action on without cutting other spending.
>> yeah. lawrence, this is a great country, and people in this country want to help one another. and that crosses party lines and it crosses regionial lines. but a few years ago, the republicans decided to politicize that. mike pence said we should cut medicare, cut senior citizens' health care and poor people's health care to pay for disaster relief, a ridiculous position. now he's our vice president. we're going to see what he recommends. i think the key thing here is, i think donald trump will pass the bar of tweeting about the storm and flying on air force one, but this is going to take weeks and months and years, long after his twitter feed has moved on and the test of presidential leadership in this kind of situation is does he have the focus, the consistent focus to oversee and drive this recovery to its end? and i think that's where president trump sadly will fail the test of leadership on hurricane harvey. >> maria teresa, to ron's point, that seems to me to be exactly
why the very first question to the president today was about the long-term recovery plan for hurricane harvey, not what are you going to do this week, next week, but the long-term plan. and any talk of government shutdown, anything like that, and feuding with members of congress as the questioner pointed out jeopardizes that. >> that's right. i mean this president so far in the last seven months, he's been shooting from the hip. and this requires someone who is disciplined, strategic, who is filling the jobs in those federal agencies that he has yet to completely do. and he can't propose the budget that he originally had, which was basically slashing the national guard, slashing fema, and this is actually a testament of why we need those programs and the right type of civil ser vanlt in those positions because we cannot calculate when the next natural disaster will take place. so hopefully kelly being in there will enable to have some
discipline, but it's a hard shot. >> steve, you know how mitch mcconnell thinks about these things. do you expect leader mcconnell to wrap all of the difficult issues up into one package so that it's one vote essentially on the debt ceiling, on the budget, and on hurricane relief? >> you know, i think that's a real possibility. when you don't have enough time, the thing you have to do -- and this sounds like yogi berra, is create more time. >> that's fair. >> and they really do have the ability to do that. if they want to have a short-term, continuing rez liegs f -- resolution for spending for the government through the end of december, and if they want to have a short-term debt extension to the end of december, then they can probably work out -- and i think this is what mr. mcconnell would like to do -- would be able to work out the funding for the government, the first part of the funding for what is going to be a very expensive hurricane harvey recovery and very long by the way as you pointed out, and to get things like the national
defense authorization act passed and flood insurance reauthorized and things like that. so they need time, and my suspicion is that leader mcconnell, who cares about keeping the majority in the senate above most anything else, i think he'll probably say, lookit, give us 90 days up here, mr. president. don't veto a bill that doesn't have funding for the wall, and please let's do this in a logical way. i think there's a real possibility that he'll do that. the question is this. will the president, who thought he got tricked earlier this year when he went ahead with the fy-17 budget with no money for the wall, will he say, no, once shame on you. twice, shame on me, and veto it, which of course would be a catastrophic political mistake. >> well, we're going to find out. steve bell takes his position now beside yogi berra and the great quotes of our time. if you're running out of time, create more time. maria teresa kumar, ron klain,
thank you very much. coming up, newly discovered e-ma e-mails telling the story of how ivanka trump once got to sit in vladimir putin's chair in the kremlin. and later, a former republican senator is warning his party about who he calls, quote, the hateful man in the white house. i realize that ah, that $100k is not exactly a fortune.
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once again, very suspiciously, president trump could not bring himself to say a single negative word about russia today. when he was asked a simple yes or no question, is russia a security threat, the president obviously was afraid of saying yes or no. >> mr. trump, would you consider russia as a security threat? thank you. >> well, i consider many countries as a security threat unfortunately when you look at what's going on in the world today. >> many countries. "the washington post" reports, quote, while donald trump was running for president in late 2015 and early 2016, his company was pursuing a plan to develop a massive trump tower in moscow according to several people familiar with the proposal and new records reviewed by trump organize lawyers.
"the new york times" reported more details of those e-mails today, and trump associate felix seder, who was born in russia, wrote a series of e-mails to mr. trump's lawyer in which he boasted about his ties to mr. putin and predicted that building a trump tower in moscow would highlight mr. trump's savvy negotiating skills and be a political boon to his candidacy. our boy can become president of the usa and he can engineer it, mr. seder wrote in an e-mail. i will get all of putin's team to buy in on this. i will manage this process. in another e-mail to michael cohn, felix seder wrote, i will get putin on this program, and we will get donald elected. felix seder was hired by donald trump to broker real estate deals. the times also reports felix seder helped arrange ivanka trump's trip to moscow and that he said, quote, i arranged for ivanka to sit in putin's private
chair at his desk and office in the kremlin. joining us now, stephen harper. he's an attorney and author. and adjunct professor at northwestern university. he created the trump/russia timeline. also with us tonight, tim o'brien, executive editor of bloomberg view and author of "trump nation, the art of being the donald." and, steve, on the timeline, here we have what will be on your timeline, the entry of some new e-mails. this new e-mail discovery that's now been published first by "the washington post," then more details by "the new york times." and this is a very, very direct communication about getting vladimir putin himself involved in helping donald trump win this election. >> it's certainly interesting, and the interesting thing about it to me is that it really fits into a broader narrative, i think. and this is one of those situations where, you know, you can analyze the event and the e-mails in a micro sense.
then when you take a step back and look at it in a macro way and realize that what's really going on here is while a man is running for the presidency of the united states, his company is simultaneously trying to enter into a business deal which would be one of the largest real estate projects of its kind in the world. pretty stunning stuff, i would think. >> and, tim, i want to take a look at the sourcing for these e-mails in "the new york times" article. it says, the trump organization, on monday, turned over e-mails to the house intelligence committee which is investigating russian meddling in the presidential election and whether anyone in mr. trump's campaign was involved. some of the e-mails were obtained by the times. now, tim, there's a consistent pattern here that when the trump lawyers find e-mails as they do involving jared kushner and others, that they turn over to any of the investigators, whether it be the house, senate,
or the special prosecutor. those e-mails are almost instantly revealed to the press, and it seems to me that what we have here are defense lawyers saying to their clients, look, these are going to become public. you don't want them to become public the day you're sitting there on the witness stand or, you know, in a senate hearing. you want them to become public now so that they are old news by the time you testify. >> it's also every man for himself in this thing. so you've got different members of the trump organization with their own counsel figuring out how to save themselves because what mueller is doing and what the congressional investigators are doing is they're picking off the weak members of the pack at the back of the pack, and they're going to move up the food chain towards donald trump. that's the ultimate end game here. and what's interesting about the e-mails today, lawrence, is that file ix seder has had a relationship with donald trump going back to about 2002. he wasn't just a broker for the trump organization. he was a principal at bay rock.
they developed the trump soho hotel together. felix seder is a career criminal with organized crime ties and the president maintained a relationship with him for over a decade and routinely said in public, i don't know him well. i'm distancing myself from him. now with these e-mails, you see the president is not distant from felix seder, and in fact felix seder is the point person on a deal the trump organization is trying to do in moscow. it raises this quid pro quo issue that i think is going to be central to the mueller investigation, going beyond just collusion in the election. it's were there favors sought from the kremlin in return for certain quid pro quos? >> and people ix seder kept an office in trump tower during some of this period where donald trump says, oh, i didn't see him very much. and steve harper, on this release of what is basically evidence in the case, could it be that some of the defense lawyers involved with some of
the trump associates want this information to become public as a way of communicating it to other possible defendants and other people involved in the case so that they know what evidence the other side already has on them? >> perhaps. you know, it's always hard to figure out the timing on these kinds of things. the one thing we know for sure is that they were under a dead line to produce this stuff, and these came out, as i understand it, at the very end of the trail, some 20,000 or so documents had already been produced. i would add two other data points to the ones that tim suggested, which i think are exactly correct. remember there was that june 2016 meeting. well, in july of 2016, according to an interview that seder gave to politico, he visited trump tower on what he said was confidential business, refusing to disclose what it was. and then in january, at the end of january 2017, seder again --
he's sort of like the forrest gump of this administration. you know, seder again then shows up, this time at the lowe's regency hotel in manhattan with michael cohn and a pro-putin ukrainian with a so-called peace plan, the essence of which would cede crimea to russia and lift the sanctions. it's a stunning -- that's what i mean. if you sort of draw back and start connecting all of the seder dots, tim is exactly right. this isn't just about a couple of e-mails which frankly, to me, some read rather squirrely. it's a larger story. >> just a note to audience. if you are struggling at any point connecting these dots, there is steven harper's timeline. you can find it at bill moyers.com. it's the timeline of all of this with all of these characters that we are all relying on every day as we research these stories. steven harper and tim o'brien,
thank you for joining us tonight. coming up, house intelligence committee member eric swalwell will join us with his take on these latest developments in the russia investigation. and also north korea's latest missile launch tonight. where, in all of this, is the stuff that matters? the stakes are so high, your finances, your future. how do you solve this? you don't. you partner with a firm that advises governments and the fortune 500, and, can deliver insight person to person, on what matters to you. morgan stanley. when i walked through for a cigarette, that's when i knew i had to quit. for real this time. that's why i'm using nicorette. only nicorette gum has patented dual-coated technology for great taste, plus intense craving relief. every great why needs a great how.
he said, donald trump is brilliant. he's doing an amazing job, and he's leading the pack. okay. that's nice. and she and my opponents, oh, isn't that terrible that putin said -- wouldn't it be nice if we could get along with the world? wouldn't it be -- seriously. no, no, wouldn't it be nice? i mean they want me to refute his statement. how dare you say i'm brilliant. how dare. that's -- who's going to do that? >> joining us now, eric swalwell, democratic congressman from california, member of the house permanent select committee on intelligence. and congressman swalwell, those things that donald trump was saying during the campaign that sounded so strange then seem to make a lot more sense tonight as we stare at the details of the trump tower deal for moscow. >> they sure do. good evening, lawrence. i first just want to say thank you for mentioning the harvey victims. my heart goes out to and beats with them. and in congress i pledge to do everything we can without confusion or offsets to provide
relief. but these e-mails now with respect to russia, they are just more bright lights in an ever growing constellation of russian contacts that this president had. and it makes a whole lot more sense as to why he was praising vladimir putin. it looks like it was all about the money. he was seeking to invest in russia and in their own way, we know russia was investing in donald trump. >> still to this day can't bring himself to say a negative word about russia or vladimir putin in any context no matter how you shape the question. >> that's right. it's time for the president to come clean because we need to know what exactly is it that russia has on donald trump, and what exactly does donald trump intend to do in russia. he's said all along, lawrence, no russia, no collusion. and now we have found out there were a lot of russian contacts. there were a lot of efforts to work with the russians and receive information on secretary clinton, and now we know it's
not just personal and political relationships. it was also financial dealings. by the way, lawrence, how many americans alive today do you think have sat in the chair of vladimir putin? that shows you how close donald trump was to a president who ordered an attack on our country. >> and ivanka trump got to do that thanks to the intersession of a career criminal, felix sater, an associate of donald trump's. can we -- can you stay with us, congressman? we need to squeeze in a quick break here, and we're going to come right back with congressman eric swalwell. we'll be right back.
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tonight north korea fired a mid-range ballistic missile over japan. officials said the missile passed through japan's airspace and landed in the pacific ocean. congressman eric swalwell is still with us. congressman, last week at that rally, donald trump said this. he said, kim jong-un, i believe he's starting to respect us. i respect that fact very much. so that looks like a presidential misreading of north korea. >> north korea does not respect us, lawrence. they're a menace, and they are testing an unfocused president. the best thing that this president can do is to stitch together our allies, continue to work with china, not try and solve this by tweet, and continue to go to the u.n. to put pressure every time that north korea acts out this way. but right now he is unfocused and leaves us and our allies in
a much less -- in a much unsafer position today than we were even last week. >> we'll have more on this missile story as it develops. congressman eric swalwell, thank you very much for joining us tonight. really appreciate it. >> my pleasure. coming up, a republican senator is warning his party. a message directly to his party about donald trump, saying donald trump is not a real republican. and he says -- he calls donald trump a hateful man. that's coming up. patrick woke up with back pain.
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senator john dan forth graduated from yale law school and yale divinity school in the same year. in that same year, he was admitted to the bar to practice law and ordained as a priest in the episcopal church. he eventually pursued a career in politics and was elected to the united states senate as a republican from missouri and later served as president george w. bush's ambassador to the united nations. in an op-ed for "the washington post" on friday, senator danforth wrote, to my fellow republicans, we cannot allow donald trump to redefine the republican party. that is what he is doing as long as we give the impression by our silence that his words are orwords and his actions are our actions. we cannot allow that impression to go unchallenged. our party has been corrupted by this hateful man, and it is now in peril. joining us now, john danforth, former republican senator from missouri. he's the founder of the john c.
danforth center. thank you very much for joining us tonight. your warning to republicans about silence, are you talking about the elected republicans in washington who have been largely silent in the face of president trump. >> no, i think it's harder for the people who are in elected politics than it is for those of us out. i do understand it's difficult for people who are running for office or think they will be running for office. but i'm really talking about all republicans. i think it's important for us to make it clear that we are not like donald trump. he is -- he is very different. he is a very divisive person in the history of the republican party has been the party of the union, the party of trying to keep america glued together. so it's a message for all republicans and beyond that really for all of us that trying to keep the country glued
together is a principal duty of all of us. >> well most people in the country according to polls seem to agree with you on this the president's job approval is at 35% with a 60% disapproval backup. but looking at the republican numbers inside the poll it's different. 78% of republicans approve of president trump, 7% of democrats approve of the president, 30% of independents. senator you have a difficult case in persuading the 78% of republicans who apparently in the polls are with donald trump. >> well, i think there can be any number of reasons for being with him. i mean it could be that any don't like the policies of the democrats or they want some -- i think a lot of people want somebody they perceive as being a strong person, and that's part of the appeal of trump. but i do believe if you were to ask most republicans and most
americans, do you think divisiveness is a good thing? do you think it's a good ning to set one group against another? most people would say, no that's not a good thing and we have to keep the country together. >> in your op-ed you said he is the most divisive person in our history. there hasn't been a more divisive person since george wallace. of course he ran basically as a segregationist. that's as strong a condemnation of any american politician since george wallace. >> it's meant to be strong. it's important for my party. i'm a republican and happy to be a republican. but i think it's got wsh -- we have to make it clear we are not like donald trump. but i want to add in, lawrence. i think there is a lot of blame to be placed on trump for the divisiveness in this country.
but it's a more general problem than just one person than just donald trump. and the responsibility is shared by a lot of people. it's shared by democrats. it's shared by people who practice identity politics. it's shared by all of us when we're very touchy and complaint about microaggressions and so on. there is a lot of components that go into the splintering of america. and all of us have a responsibility. but in this op-ed i was writing as a republican to my party and saying that we have to get back to our roots, namely the history, the tradition of abraham lincoln, the tradition of keeping this as one nation inadviceable. >> what did you hear from congressional republicans about your op-ed piece. >> i haven't solicited their
views and haven't heard their views. i've had a lot of feedback in many ways from a lot of people. some of whom are republicans some of whom are not. but as far as people in elective office i haven't heard anything. >> wouldn't be that disappointing, senator, if what your hope is to reclaim the republican party and saying we have to make it clear that donald trump is not us, wouldn't you like to have heard from some of the former colleagues in the senate about that op-ed piece and said at least privately say to you you're right about this we've got to figure out how to get this back? >> well as far as people now active in politics, i think it's difficult for them. i mean it's -- most people in politics want to win the next election. and to say that a substantial part of your base consists of people who are strongly for trump it's very difficult i think for people who are now active in elective politics. but for people who have some
distance from it, people like me who don't intend to run again, is our voice as persuasive as those in elective politics today? no, it isn't. but i think that's the most likely source for republicans to speak out. and it's very important for us to speak out. >> former senator danforth thank you. tonight's last word is next. and we covered it, july first, twenty-fifteen. talk to farmers. we know a thing or two because we've seen a thing or two. ♪ we are farmers. bum-pa-dum, bum-bum-bum-bum ♪
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the mayor of houston announced tonight that 3052 people have been rescued by police since hurricane harvey hit that city. yesterday president obama tweeted, thank you to all the first responders and people helping each other out. that's what we do as americans. here is one way you can help now. help those affected by hurricane harvey. visit red cross.org. call 1800 red cross or text havre to 20999.
to make a $10 donation. you can find more ways to help at nbcnews.com/harvey. that's tonight's last word. "the 11th hour" starts now. tonight, trump and russia. robert mueller's team looks into the role president trump played into writing that statement about his son's meeting with russians. plus how the trump business wants pursued a deal with russia with one associate writing, i will get putin on this program, and we will get donald elected. all this as trump today woents say russia poses a security threat and says he hopes the u.s. will some day have a good relationship with russia. also north korea fires another missile. the president heads to flood ravaged texas. and a newly pardoned joe arpaio could try to primary one of trump's republican critics. the 11th hour rgs on a monday