tv The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell MSNBC August 16, 2018 7:00pm-8:00pm PDT
that's one thing. i mentioned on the top of the show we will have a big night tomorrow night. we will be joined by john brennan, who is the author of this incredible op ed. he will be here tomorrow for his first live tv interview since the president revoked his security clearance. now senior national security and intelligence analyst. we will be with me tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m. that does it for us tonight. now it is time for the last word with lawrence o'donnell. >> good evening, rachel. and can't wait to hear what john brennan has to say tomorrow night. last time he was on tv was right here and the next day he got his security clearances revoked. what is going to happen after your interview? what happens on saturday? >> i have not had an interview with john brennan before. i'm really, really happy he's
going to come in here. i have a gazillion questions to ask him. now the washington post reporting he's going to take that same action against lots of other people and shortly this feels like a fast evolving big deal story. >> we will all be watching tomorrow night. thank you, rachel. well, i have kept the napkins exactly twice in my life. my first time at the white house and then at aretha franklin's birthday party in new york. here they are. i got three of them from that birthday party. and they will be right here on the desk throughout this hour as they are on my desk upstairs here every day. like most of you, aretha was a regular viewer of this program and was always eager to get our take on the news of the day, so that is what we will do first on
this important news day. later, we will consider the life and achievements and unique contributions of her majesty the queen of soul, aretha louise franklin. first, after his security clearance was revoked, john brennan made his strongest statements yet about trump campaign collusion with the russian government in a new york times op ed piece. he wrote mr. trump's claims of no collusion are in a word hogwash. the only questions is whether they took place, whether obstruction of justice occurred to cover up and how many members of trump incorporated attempted to defraud the government by laundering and concealing the movement of money into their pockets. a jury is about to deliberate bank and tax fraud charges against one of those people, paul manafort, mr. trump's former campaign chairman and the former deputy chairman rick
gates has pleaded to financial fraud and lying to investigators. john brennan revealed some of what he as cia director and then james comey discussed about russia's attack on the election during the presidential campaign. in my many conversations with james comey in the summer of 2016 we talked about the potential for american citizens involved in partisan politics or not to be pawns in russian hands. we new that russian intelligence services would do all they could to achieve their objectives. were to undermine faith in the democratic process, harm hillary clinton and show preference for mr. trump. once again, president trump's official written position was contradicted by president trump himself. this time in an interview "the wall street journal," a statement written for the president and read yesterday
said any benefits that senior officials might gleam from consultations by mr. brennan are posed by his risk. he has leveraged his status with access to highly sensitive information to make a series of outrageous allegations. but then last night in an impromi impromptu interview, the president contradicted his statement. "the wall street journal" says the president revoking john brennan's security clearance and publically considering revoking other security clearances is based entirely on john brennan's involvement in the beginnings of the investigation of the russian attack on the american electoral process. the president said, quote, i call it the rigged witch hunt. it is a sham, mr. trump said in that interview. and these people led it.
he asked, so i think it is something that had to be done. john brennan says that he believes the president's increasingly eradic behavior, including the revocation of his security clearance is because robert mueller's investigation is closing in on the president and people close to the president. mr. trump clearly has become more desperate to protect himself and those close to him, which is why he revoked my security clearance, to scare and silence others who might dare to challenge him. it is important that robert mueller be allowed to compete their work without interference from mr. trump or anyone else so that all americans can get the answers they so rightly deserve. the list of people who the white house revealed yesterday might have their security clearances revoked by president trump has been compared to president richard nixon's enemy's list, which was revealed during the watergate investigation. it was certainly alarming to
discover that richard nixon had an enemy's list, but no one was even slightly surprised that richard nixon had an enemy's list. and everyone on richard nixon's enemy list wore that designation as a badge of honor for the rest of their lives. and that seems to be the reaction so far from people on the trump enemy's list, which the white house said yesterday includes former director of national security agency, michael haden and former director of national intelligence james clapper who said they will continue to speak up against the policies of the president. and someone not on the trump enemy's list probably is now, retired navy admiral william mcgraven who was in command of the navy seal raid that killed osama bin laden wrote a letter to the president saying john brennan is one of the finest public servants i have ever known.
few americans have done more to protect this country than john. he is a man of unparalleled integrity whose honesty and character have never been in question except by those who don't know him. therefore, i would consider it an honor if you would revoke my security clearance as well so i can add my name to the list of men and women who have spoken up against your presidency. joining us now, former staff director for the house intelligence committee and vice president of the national security program at the third way. also with us former chief of staff to vice presidents joe biden and al gore and former senior aid to president obama. and chief strategist for mitt romney's 2012 presidential campaign. i am so struck by what is now turning into an honor roll. here we have the first step forward saying please revoke my security clearance, too.
>> what you are seeing is the national security community up in arms about what's happening here in defense of john brennan because the reason, brennan, is so alarmed by what the president is doing is what he saw when he was the director of the cia. the kind of information that he knows about the russian attempts to get into the trump campaign and to sway the 2016 election. their concern when you attack someone who loyally served the nation by raising alarms about hostile interference that you are really undermining the basic foundations of democracy. >> we are getting what is actually, i think, the usual spin from the white house whenever the president has done something truly kind of ugly. there is always that report coming from inside the white house that the president is thrilled with how ugly it is and he wants to do more of it. this does not mean the report is true or he's going to do more of it.
here is a question tonight. president trump has told advisors that he is eager to strip more security clearances as part of an escalating attack against people that criticized him or played a role in the investigation of russian interference in 2016 election. so there could be more. >> there could be more. there will be more. i think we're seeing donald trump truly unhinged. we're seeing him upset by the continuing disclosures from omarosa, the trial of paul manafort, the fact that bob mueller is getting closer and closer to his conclusions. but i think today he bit off more than he could chew. when you have this admiral who is unassailable in his character and commitment to our country step forward and say if you are going after john brennan you have to go after me, too. at the end of the day we're back to where these people where on may 1st, 2011, when the admiral
was leading the effort to kill osama bin laden and john brennan was assisting and donald trump was hosting "the apprentice". >> the washington post is reporting that the white house aids have confirmed that trump made his decision weeks ago on brennan. they didn't have to confirm that because we saw the document yesterday dated july 26th. that's how incompetent they are in this white house, they couldn't even put that day's date on it. so we know they have been sitting there with this waiting for the day when they needed it. and apparently the president decided omarosa was getting the kind of attention that meant they needed to trade news subjects from omarosa to john brennan. >> the whole idea of omarosa having any impact on what happens in the national security
an r apparatus is chilling. steve bannon is just a flat-out freak. it is really just a shame to have this sort of politicalization of people that worked to protect the country. i think republicans should speak out more on it. if you are going to have a process of reviewing whether or not x officials should have security clearance, there is an organized methodical way to do it. the way this looks is petty and vindictive, like another feud with rosie o'donnell. >> and nbc news is reporting that dan coats was not informed beforehand about this revoking the security clearance, had no idea. the nbc news report says an official familiar with the decision confirmed to nbc news that the director of national intelligence, dan coats, was not informed before the announcement. >> that's very unusual that we would have the intelligence community who actually are the
ones that would seek to benefit to benefit from director brennan's experience not being part of this conversation. >> dan coats could have been on the phone this morning with john brennan about some previous business that occurred during john brennan's time and not known that the security clearance is being revoked. >> that's right. it is surprising that is not a decision that's coordinated through the other agencies because there may be important things he's working on that are classified that he can't talk about it. he said when you have an ongoing crisis, many of the things he worked on may be relevant and you might want his advice later on. >> and in john brennan's op ed piece today and i can't wait for his interview tomorrow night with rachel, he seems to take another step forward in his statements about the president. this time saying of course there was collusion. we saw it. and then we saw the president do it publically by asking russians
for help. and the question is now just a legal one. robert mueller's question is does the collusion that john brennan knows about and the special prosecutor knows about, does that meet the legal definitions of conspiracy and violations of law? >> that's right. i think this is a very important point. the collusion between trump and russia has been hiding in plain sight since the campaign. the president standing up and saying, hey, russia, if you are listening please find her e-mails. the evidence that that very day the russians went out and tried to probe for hillary clinton's e-mails. there is ample evidence of conclusion. that is important for our country about the trump presidency. it is a separate question whether or not that was a crime. that's what bob mueller has to make an initial finding on,
report to congress about impeachment, report to courts. that's a separate question. but i think it is fitting that director brennan step forward today and put a fine point on the fact that the idea when donald trump stands up there and says no collusion, no collusion, no way, not right, not true, there was collusion. >> and i want to go back to your point about basically what we saw happen in the news, a trading omarosa for john brennan. and i spoke to someone right after this happened who has known donald trump for many years, worked with him in show business and knows his moves. said he's a day trader. he's trading one story for the other. that's the way he plays this. >> we are living in a strange world when you can turn on cable news and hear recordings from the situation room. but john brennan is considered a threat and we have to take away his national security clearance? it just doesn't parse. and the problem with this stuff
is that, as you were saying, what you would think would happen behind doors just happens in plain sight. we know that there was cooperation with the russians. now, what is the difference between cooperation and collusion? i believe that's up to lawyers. but the idea that you would talk to russians about how to help your campaign, it is just mind boggling. >> donald trump said every campaign would do it. >> ron has worked on a lot of campaigns. you just -- you just wouldn't do it. i mean, for heaven's sakes, the gore campaign got a debate book that was sent to him and the first thing they did was call the fbi. it is an absolute misunderstanding of how people really care about standards involved in this process. sure, you want your person to win, but it doesn't mean you want to cheat and get help from the russians.
>> thank you all for starting us out this evening. really appreciate it. what happened today in court with the paul manafort jury? we will read you their questions to the judge and the judge's answers. but first how the russian government targeted, ensnared and compromised donald trump for over 30 years. nick was born to move. 3 toddlers won't stop him. and neither will lower back pain. because at a dr. scholl's kiosk
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john brennan says there was definitely collusion with russia and the only remaining question was did that collusion fit the legal definition of criminal conspiracy. the russians were caught working to hurt hillary clinton's candidacy and help donald trump's candidacy. and donald trump who called a black woman a dog this week still has never said a negative word about vladimir putin, which has surely left robert mueller wondering whether vladimir paw tin has something on donald trump, as everyone has wondered at one point or another. >> sir, do you -- does the russian government have any compromising material on president trump or his familiar hi? >> i did heard these rumors that we allegedly cheollected compromising material on
president trump. when president trump was in moscow back then, i didn't even know that he was in moscow. please disregard these issues and don't think about it again. >> if they had it, it would have been out long ago. >> vladimir putin didn't even bother to say, no, we do not have any compromising material on donald trump. he just ordered the press to stop thinking about it. today john brennan referred to donald trump, the trump campaign and the trump businesses as trump incorporated. probably with the intentional echo of the criminal gangs that the news media used to call murder incorporated. craig unger calls it the house of trump. the book describes what he calls the greatest intelligence operation of our time. the book tells how the russian government targeted and compromised donald trump for
over 30 years by use trump real estate as a way to launder millions of dollars for the russian mafia. joining us now is greg unger. john brennan says of course there was collusion. of course there was. and we have all seen enough to understand even what the cia director means when he says that. john brennan knows more than we know. does it meet the legal standard. based on your study of the house of trump, as you call it, over all of these years, what do you think are the most important things the special prosecutor is finding in the russian connections? >> well, i went back to -- i think this is really the greatest intelligence operation of our lifetime and ended up with the russians. i think brennan is right. >> and most successful? >> absolutely. it installed a russian asset in
the white house without firing a single shot. so i went back to the beginning, and i wanted to see how and why this began. i ended up going all the way back to 1984 when a russian met with trump in trump tower. he bought five condos and came up with $6 million cash. that's the equivalent of $15 million today. that was laundering money for the russian mafia. if you look at trump's career, he's done that at least 1,300 times. by that i mean that he's selling condos to anonymous corporations in all cash purchases. so i believe he's been working with the russian mafia laundering their money through his real estate for at least 34 years. >> but would it be -- it's unlikely that every one of those transactions involved a russian. it is just that they involved cash, which is pretty peculiar. >> we also know that a very high proportion of buyers were
russians. for example, if you go to the trump world tower, there are certain floors that are almost entirely russian. about a third of the condos sold in florida for the trump towers, they were russians. it happens all over the world in panama trump properties. it's been going on for years. they made his career. they own him. he was $4 billion in debt after his atlantic city fiasco. he filed for six bankruptcies. no one that's $4 billion in debt has a political career and they made him rich again. >> what would you expect they study and try to amplify? >> i think his relationship to the russian mafia is extraordinary. and it is clear. lisa page, who was one of the 12 people who was in budapest.
he was investigating the russian mafia there. when she was thrown off the mueller probe, i saw that in a very different way that, i mean, it raised a lot of questions. were they going to pursue trump's ties to the russian mafia or not. >> and when the special prosecutor is looking at paul manafort and presumably if he gets a guilty in one of these trials basically offering paul manafort some opportunity to testify to get a lower prison sentence, is there something you believe paul manafort would be able to reveal about donald trump's relationship to russians? >> absolutely. manafort is an absolutely key figure in all of this. if you look at what he was doing in ukraine, it was a dry run for the 2016 operation in our election. and he was hired by the -- he was representing president -- a
putin puppet. he has been declared a traitor to ukraine and fled to moscow. and manafort put him in power, essentially to sustain relationships that allowed the russian mafia to skim lots of money from the ukraine energy trade. >> thank you very much for joining us tonight. really appreciate it. >> thanks for having me. >> today the jury in the paul manafort jury sent written questions to the judge. later we will be listening to aretha sing and trying to talk about her and holding back the tears. that's coming up. and at expedia, we don't think you should be rushed into booking one. that's why we created expedia's add-on advantage. now after booking your flight, you unlock discounts on select hotels right until the day you leave. ♪ add-on advantage. discounted hotel rates when you add on to your trip.
as predicted here on this program last night, the jury in paul manafort's case had questions for the judge today. the jury sent those questions to the judge in writing and the judge answered them. q. is one required to file an f bar if they own less than 50% of the company and no signatory authority? a. rely on your collective recollection q. can you redefine reasonable doubt? a. the government is not required to prove beyond all possible doubt, just doubt that can be reasoned. q. can you provide an amended exhibit list that includes which counts of the indictment the exhibit relates to? a. no. >> joining us now, daniel, you have been in the courtroom for a
lot of this. i want to go to the first question, and that's about filing the form when you have a foreign bank account. and their question was do you have to file it if you own less than 50%? and if you do not have signing authority? and the judge answered that in another way after kind of refusing to answer it. he then re-read his instructions about this particular point. isn't that the way it unfolded today? >> that's right. the trick in all these trials is the jury invariably has lots of questions. you don't know exactly what it's coming from, whether it's one jor err juror who is just curious or all the jurors who don't understand. there is very little that a judge can do to respond to these questions. and one thing that judges often fall back on is just re-reading the jury instructions on the
particular point that have already been read to the jury which occurred yesterday. so in this case, the judge re-read the instruction on signatory -- or signature authorization and to be a signatory and it is an incredibly complicated highly legal, legalized instruction that as i sat there listening to it, even i who know what it is and have heard it before struggled to really follow all of it as the judge is rapidly going through it. so it is very unlikely the jury got much out of that today. >> well, there is one passage in it that makes it very clear, but it's in a long instruction. the judge said to them, quote, that he does -- you do have to file the f bar if, quote, the defendant had a financial interest in or signature or other authority over bank securities or other financial accounts in a foreign country.
he's making it very clear that you don't have to have signature authority. there is no 50% requirement there. it just says a financial interest in. and so it seems to me the clear yes or no answer is in there. but it can be mistifying for jurors. >> the jury is going through all of the counts and all of the issues and these questions do parallel many of the defense arguments. that doesn't necessarily mean the jury is buying the defense arguments, but they are engaging with the defense arguments and the defense made this argument about less than 50%. there is a clear answer to that -- to that question, which is the 50% ownership of paul manafort is combined with the 50% ownership of his wife and they file a joint tax return, so none of this really matters, but this is part of the trick with
juries is they're just trying to sort through what is very complicated stuff. one of the reasons the judges don't want to answer some of these questions is they are afraid of in effect testifying by answering these questions. that's when they tell the juries to rely on your memories of this. a reasonable doubt question always gets people's interest. that's usually interpreted as a question that's favorable to the defense. it means someone is thinking about reasonable doubt. with 18 counts it could be one juror thinking about one reasonable doubt on one of the counts or all of them thinking about reasonable doubt. >> you hit the nail on the head, lawrence. this is the oldest game in the book that trial lawyers deal with all the time, which is trying to read these tea leaves when in reality they just have very little bearing on what will ultimately happen. yes, they're engaging with reasonable doubt. that is the burden of proof, that is the argument that the defense really relied on in this
case. and yes prosecutors generally while embracing reasonable doubt don't really want the jurors to be thinking about it. but this is a common question that happens in many trials and very frequently they find that the government has met its burden beyond a reasonable doubt. >> daniel goldman, thank you very much for joining us tonight. >> coming up, aretha franklin got the last word here last night, and she will again tonight.
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>> hold on. >> okay. >> thank you. >> there you go. >> okay. [ applause ] there is so much to love about that moment. the fist pump with the president and then the president of the united states rushes across the stage like a stage hand to adjust the podium step for aret aretha. that's not something you see a president do every day. but how fitting that the president of the united states, the president she loved, sprung into service for her majesty, the queen of soul, aretha louise franklin. today president obama said america has no royalty. born in memphis and raised in
detroit, every time she sang we were graced with a slglimpse of the divine. in her voice, we could feel our history, all of it, and in every shade. our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect. she helped us feel more helpful, more human and sometimes she helped us to forget about everything else and dance. the gift of her music remains to inspire us all. may the queen of soul rest in eternal peace. michelle and i send our prayers and warmest sympathies to her family and all those moved by her song. there was a time when aretha
franklin would be invited to a ceremony for the attorney general of the united states. when angela davis was indicted in california in 1970, aretha franklin offered to pay the bail for angela davis. aretha said then, i have the money. i got it from black people, and they made me financially able to have it and i want to use it in ways that will help our people. a month after she celebrated attorney general eric holder's last day on the job. i saw private citizen eric holder at her birthday party here in new york city. he's probably still hanging on to those birthday napkins the way i am. she held her friends close and admires the crusaders among them the most. after this break, a dear friend of aretha's and a crusader, michael eric dyson will join us
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♪ and the home ♪ we are the home of the brave ♪ the home of the brave. >> that was dr. aretha franklin when she received her honorary degree doctor of arts at harvard university in 2014. and joining us now by phone is the great smokey robinson, grammy award winning producer and lifelong friend of aretha franklin. first of all, i am very sorry
for your loss and i just want you to just share with us what you have been feeling this week. we have known for a while now that aretha's health was failing and she was slipping. i'm sure you have been thinking about her not just today but for a while now. >> well, yeah, lawrence. all of us who were close to her and her family and what have you, we have been on vigil. i have been in constant contact with the family. well, yeah, you know. but here's how i feel about it. you know, when we were kids, i have known aretha franklin since i was eight years old. aretha franklin was my longest living friend from our neighborhood, you know. and we talk about that. we were the last of the mow hee cans. but she got a chance to live her dream. when we were little kids we wanted to be singers. everybody in the neighborhood sang, you know. and then we had little battles and what have you. so she got the chance to not
only live her dream but to be at the top of that game, you know? and she lived a good life. and i'm celebrating that. >> smokey, quincy jones said today that he was told that aretha was going to be the next big star when she was 12 years old. when did you know that aretha was going all the way? >> well, you know what, i don't know about knowing that she was going all the way. but i knew that aretha was talented from the first day i met her when she was eight years old. her family moved to detroit from buffalo and her brother who was a lifelong friend of mine, to the die he died we were close as close. the whole family, we were very close. the first day that they moved to detroit, we went around, all the little guys went around to see
his new house. i hear music coming from this other room. somebody is playing the piano and they had a little voice singing. i open the door and there is aretha singing and playing almost like she did as an adult at five or six years old. >> and she's the only star i have ever heard of who decides to go to jewuliard in 1998 to study more classical piano. it seemed like she could never be satisfied with what she had already achieved. >> that's why she was great, man. >> and smokey, talk about what it's like to maintain a career that she had to maintain over so many decades. to be a star for ten years is a giant enterprise and a giant strain. to do it over six decades is something like a miracle. >> you know what, lawrence, i consider show business to be a
place where there is a thing called "it." okay. some people have "it." people h" aretha had it, you know what i mean? and she was the forerunner for all of basically the girls you hear now coming along singing and not just the black girls, you know, like christina aguilera and celine dion, they were all influenced by aretha franklin who was, like i said, at the top of their game. >> and who influenced aretha? >> aretha grew up in a family -- first of all, everybody in aretha's family could sing.
we used to go to the church, and they would have people like sam cook and the jacksons, people like that performing at her father's church, you know? so she was influenced by a lot of people, man. and especially gospel singers. >> and at the time when you were kids and teenagers did you realize that detroit was the place that was going to change american music? >> no, man. if i'd known that i would have put a whole lot of money -- no, none of us knew that, man. the great thing about detroit for us and this wasn't necessarily true for a reason, because aretha was never a motown artist, but she was in that family. she was motown because she was in our family. but the great thing about detroit music-wise, man, if we were to get off an another
subject here is that every city, every country, every township, every little village where ratio-wise in the world probably has that same amount of talent that you saw come out of detroit. what we had was barry gordy, man, someone who started something that was worldwide. >> please stay with us. dr. martin eric dyson also grew up in detroit, a dear friend of aretha franklin's michael, you were at the one birthday party i got to go to, and you knee aretha much better than i did and a much closer relationship. please jump in here. we're talking about detroit. help us out. >> we articulated the belief that there was a composure of talent there, a component there
was extraordinary, that probably was in memphis and, you know, in chicago as well. but not only did it have barry gordy but the convergence of the automobile industry about an assembly line that would produce music at such a high rate. and the great black migration, people from georgia and alabama, and mississippi, and chicago but also coming and flowing into detroit. so it brought that up south mentality, that deep down-home -- he had that wicked hum, that beautiful meliody in his voice. and aretha franklin came up after his preaching and ratcheted the spirit up even higher with her extraordinary and glorious voice. so i'm proud to be from detroit.
coney island hot dog and the tremendous local fair but also smoky robinson and aretha franklin, she was an original, an american original. everybody's voice, i don't care who you are will eventually begin to give weight. but the initancytensity of her hung in the air with extraordinary power. that's why she was so great. >> i asked smoky about what it was like growing in motown before it was a changed american music, but when you were growing up in detroit it had changed american music. and i i think of myself as growing up in boston, kids growing up around the country, i had the teams, i had the celtics whom i was admiring. you had so many others, you were growing up in the town that owned music. what was that like? >> there was the greatest sense
of pride with that. we had smoky robinson who wrote poetry from the pavement to the pull pit so to speak, and aretha franklin singing with such radiant intensity about the virtues, the values, the moorings of blackness but also the suffering and the loss and the grief. and she gathered it all into her music. so when you had steven morris, better known as stevie wonder, the temptations, michael jackson coming along my age, this freakishly precocious young man snatching smoky robinson's song from him and never returning it. when you had otis redding say that girl took my song and ain't never giving it back because he knew she added racial
consciousness to that. when we had a left wing lawyer using big words and frederick sampson, and preachers and singers and lawyers that were incredible. and it's great to be in the bosom of greatness. i can't thank you enough for joining us tonight. i'm very sorry for your loss. thank you very much. tonight's "last word," of course, will go to aretha franklin. ow to cover almost anything. even "vengeful vermin." not so cute when they're angry. and we covered it. 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 ♪ and the wolf huffed and puffed...
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my dad- he always gave me two pieces of advice. one was to always be humble. and the second was to always do the right thing. now that i'm the new ceo of uber, i've taken that advice to heart. and i'm using that advice to change our company. moving forward, we're taking into consideration what's good for our driver partners, our riders, and the cities that we operate in. and it's going to make us a much, much better service. i grew up in a racist city listening to aretha franklin. i watched aretha perform a miracle. i watched her touch racist hearts and minds in a way that no one else could. the speeches couldn't reach them, but she could. she changed some of those hearts and minds, moved some of them in the right direction.
aretha sang a hole through the wall of racism that surrounded my neighborhood. ♪ when i wake up before i put on my make-up, i share a little prayer for you ♪ ♪ wonder which i'm going to wear now ♪ ♪ say a little prayer for you >> aretha franklin gets tonight's "last word." "the 11th hour" with brian williams starts now. tonight omarosa has the attention of this president and his presidency as "the new york times" reports there could be as many as 200 recordings. and as omarosa herself tells this network, quote, donald trump has met his match. plus "the washington post" confirming ton