tv The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell MSNBC April 11, 2019 10:00pm-11:00pm PDT
o® relief and remission within reach. that does did for us tonight. was there enough news for you today? tomorrow i'm sure will be much calmer. we'll see you again tomorrow it's time for the last word with lawrence o'donnell. >> good evening. >> good evening. we will have david cay johnson tonight. >> nice. >> he's going to be breaking some news what's going on in the treasury department and the irs with donald trump's tax returns. it is very serious news for receive mnuchin. we can only hope his lawyers have already told him about this. >> we are in a weird netherworld where they are clearly breaking the law and nobody knows how the law is ultimately going to get enforced here. it's not the sort of thing will likely be allowed to slide. >> david cay johnson has dug out yet another piece of the tax code that relates to in that i didn't know about. this is great for me because i've learned about a couple provisions i knew nothing about. one reason i knew nothing about
them the section richie neal is using is a controversial portion of the tax code that has never been challenged. once you challenge it, some other pieces start jumping out at you and it can get very scary for anyone messing around this. >> you are in your happy place. >> david cay johnson will join us tonight with very important new reporting that he has done on the legal risks that secretary of the treasury steven mnuchin is running tonight by delaying the irs handing over donald trump's tax returns to house ways and means committee chairman richard neal and that legal risk for secretary mnuchin includes the possibility of five years in prison. there are a lot of legal trip wires surrounding the treasury secretary tonight and the commissioner of the irs tonight. we'll get to all of that. also tonight, katie porter has done it again. you met congresswoman katie porter on there program.
she has delivered some amazing performances in her five minutes in house committee hearings. she did it again. she asked a guy who makes $31 million a year if he could figure out how to live on making, say, $16 an hour. it wasn't a randomly chosen number. it was the number, it was the amount of money paid to the lowest paid worker in that guy's company. and she gave him many, many chances. it was both a math question and a humanity question. and if it was on the s.a.t.s, this guy would have failed. also tonight, herman cain, herman cain's nominationing to join the federal reserve may be hanging by a thread tonight. and that might be because of george will's column in the "washington post"ing this morning that blasted the herman cain nomination and president trump's other selection for the federal reserve.
george will join us because his column could be what turns out to be the decisive blow in possibly ending both of these nomination in the trump administration. but first, tonight, deputy attorney general rod rosenstein is trying to repair the damage from attorney general william barr's performance in the two days of hearings in the house and senate. in an exclusive interview with the "wall street journal" justice department reporter, rod rosenstein defended attorney general barr saying he's basically as forthcoming as he can so this notion he's trying to mislead people i think is bizarre. rod rosenstein would not comment about the remark that the attorney general made yesterday in which he used the word spying to describe what the attorney general believes the fbi did to the trump campaign, no one understood why the attorney general would use that word. and when he was given a chance in the hearing by one of the democratic senators to take back that word, he did.
the attorney general completely backed off. and he confessed that he had absolutely no evidence whatsoever to support anything in the statement that he made that included the word "spying." but that is not the part of his testimony that has been getting much reporting. so the fbi director at the time, james comey, find it bizarre that the attorney general would make a remark like that. >> with respect to barr's comments i really don't know what he's talking about when he talks about spying on the campaign. and so i. >> can't really react substantively. when i hear ha kind of language used, it's concerning because the fbi and the department of justice conduct court ordered electronic surveillance. i have never thought of that as spying. and the reason i am interesteded to know what he means by that is if the attorney general has come do the belief that should be
called spying, wow, that's going to require a whole lot of conversations inside the department of justice, but i don't know what he meant by that term. factual little i don't know what he meant because i don't know of any electronic surveillance aimed at the trump campaign. that's the reason for my confusion. >> rod rosenstein zwended attorney general barr's letter to congress about the mueller report. he said it would be one hinge if you put out a letter and said i'm going to give you the report, mr. rosen stain said, what he said is look, it's going to take awhile to process the report. in the meantime, people really want to know what's in it. i'm going to give did you account top line conclusions. that's all he was trying to do. mr. rosenstein told "the wall street journal" na america should have "tremendous confidence" those are his words, tremendous confidence in attorney general barr. william barr is donald trump's re-election campaign attorney general. now, that could be just a coincidence of the calendar that
william barr was made attorney general at the same time that the president started running for re-election. and will be running for re-election throughout william barr's service as attorney general. that could be a coincidence or it could be that william barr is as determined to get donald trump re-elected as president as steve bannon was determined to get donald trump elected in the first place. when you look at this week in the president's re-election campaign, no one has done more for the president's re-election campaign than william barr. he told the house committee that if donald trump and william barr are successful in destroying the affordable care act in court then the president will magically instantly on that same day replace obamacare with a new law that will instantly pass congress and take care of 20 million people who had lose health insurance if william barr successfully takes away from them in court but it will be instantly replaced.
william barr said that donald trump replacing obamacare instantly, that's what's going to happen. that kind of comment that he actually said in a house committee hearing could only be believed at a trump rally. and nowhere else. and then yesterday, william barr recklessly threw around the word spying in a hearing and now that's the new key word in the trump campaign. as predicted, donald trump threw it around today with reporters saying that i think what he said was absolutely true. there was absolutely spying into my campaign. you will be hearing that every day now. in the trump presidential campaign. from donald trump and others involved in the campaign. it is now donald trump's favorite new word. and the trump media's favorite new word, handed to them recklessly or deliberately by the attorney general of the united states. steve bannon never gave donald trump a campaign gift like that.
william barr could be on his way to being makeup more valuable to the trump campaign than steve bannon ever was. and trump campaign desperately needs help because the presidential's approval ratings have been consistently abysmal, the most consistently locals ratings of any president. one of the things the president needs the most help with is navigating through his scandals and legal problems during the presidential campaign. no one is in a better position to help him do that than william barr. as the attorney general has proven this week. rick wilson is a republican who has become one of donald trump's harshest critic in "daily beast" column he wrote this after watching william bar in two days of hearings. he comes across as pedestrian and legalistic bordering on america but he's the most dangerous man in america. barr is the attorney general of the trump regime and maximum protection of the leader is his sole mission. he is a weapon, not a servant. and we are joined now to start our discussion by two
republicans who have been watching the operations of the trump justice department closely and know how the justice department is supposed to operate, rick wilson is a republican strategist and contributor to the daily beast, the author of the book "everything trump touches dies." rick is one of the more colorful anti-trump phrasemakers. have your notepads ready. david frum is with us. the party he served as slipped into trumpism. david frum senior editor of the atlantic and eloquent on the latest twists and turns in trump world. for justice department experience and expertise tonight, we have 26 years of experience in william yeomans. he held multiple positions in the justice department over his career there. he also served on the staff of the senate judiciary committee and now serves as a senior fellow at the alliance for justice. rick, i want to start with you since you found your quotes so compelling from your piece as they so often are.
you have been watching these kinds of hearings that the attorney general appeared in this week for decades. as i think all of us on this panel have. you've seen republican toshes general do it, democratic attorneys general do it. you've been very quick and sharp with your criticisms of trump world and trump appointees. so i'm wondering if you -- if you used all the patience you possibly could, rick, in coming to the conclusions that you've now come to about the attorney general. >> well, i gave barr a very long lead, lawrence. i wasn't very critical of him. i was waiting to see what would happen because there was a sort of idea that barr was an institutionalist and that he was going to reflect the best traditions of attorneys general from both parties over time. where they stayed out of the politics. where they didn't answer as a reflectionive supporter or opponent of the president, where they will stood bob this and
they served justice and the american people. and i hoped bill barr was going to be one of those guys that he was going to meet that standard he in the hearing the other day but throwing out the boob bait of spying and all these other things knowing what he was doing and having built this elaborate strategy to allow trump to declare victory and hide and redact and try to shred the american people to know what the mueller report contains, he has shown us at every turn since he stein signed that four-page mame mo he is not an honest broker or a player who has come to the table to stand up for justice and the american people. he is there to work for donald trump. he going to find out that the donald trump is the death touch of everybody's career and honor. but for right now, is he sticking to the trump line. >> david frum, i can't think of an instance where an attorney general spoke in a senate
hearing, said one word that are the next day or that day becomes the campaign re-election word. >> yeah, and you wonder as he sort of stumbled around whether he was trying to balance his future and president trump's future. to pick up on something very important that rick said, attorney general barr got a lot of deference. a lot of presumption of good faith. it was not an especially controversial or acrimonious hearing. he got through pretty easily, the democrats more or less absoluted. they raised some concerns but it wasn't a tough fight. and in the weeks after he took the job that a lot of people who were trump critical said his record, he served as attorney general before, he had a good reputation. let's give him the benefit of the doubt. wittes made that point. many others, as well. not just on the pro-trump side even more from the pro institutional trump skeptical side. it is a blow and it's a real
warning that people who go into that system get used by it. and maybe barr sought the job for wrong ends. but however he began, at this point and however witting or unwitting he is, he is acting to smother the truth of the mueller report. to suppress the key facts. i think it's pretty clear now the importance of the mueller report is not the conclusion but the story it's going to tell while giving president trump a story that's not true but that keeps the indignation in his base alive. >> william yeomans i want to show you something that the attorney general said that you have never heard in an attorney general say when you in your 26 years of service in the justice department. when he was asked if a justice department investigation was a witch hunt, that would be a very easy yes or no question for any other attorney general. let's listen to this moment. >> you do you believe that the
investigation that director mueller undertook was a witch hunt or illegal as asserted by the president? >> as i said during my confirmation, it really depends on where you're sitting. if you are somebody who is being falsely accused of something you would tend to view the investigation. >> william, i guess it depends where el chapo is sitting whether the investigation was a witch hunt or not in his case. >> yeah, and that is an extraordinary thing. for the attorney general to say. you would hope and this is the thing that is it is so i think painful for people like me who have spent a lot of time in the institution, you would hope that an attorney general would stand up and defend the people who do the investigations, the attorneys who go to court. and who do their jobs every day. and that is completely missing. i think what we're seeing is
barr in trump protection mode. and that overrides everything else. and so his decision to go with an extremely redacted report i assume it's going to be extremely redacted if he takes all the grand jury material out, his decision to use the term "spying," his decision not to defend did the constitutionality of the affordable care act a decision that apparently was forced on him by the white house and his failure to resist and to say no, we don't determine our positions in court, our litigating positions on the basis of politics, we determine them on basis of law and fact. so all of those short comings are extremely painful i think to those of house believe in the institution of the department of justice. >> and as someone who worked in the department of justice, is this -- take us through your expectations for attorney general barr in his second run at attorney general. when you heard that he was the president's choice, was that
encouraging to you or when dull start to feel anything negative about this? >> i think it was a little surprising. as we learned a little bit more about him, i served in the department under him the first time he was attorney general. and at the time, he seemed like a fairly straight shooter. but i think we learned that he had written this 19-page memo, this unsolicited memo saying that the president could notten charged with obstruction of justice if he was only exercising an article 2 power. and then you know, following on the heels of the jeff sessions experience where donald trump i think made it very clear that he would not accept an attorney general who would stand up to him an attorney general who would follow the law instead of political direction from the white house, and you know, jeff sessions recused himself and trump never fave him. and so i think that the fact that barr was willing to step into that position was very telling.
and suggested that he was prepared to make the compromises necessary to be a successful attorney general under donald trump. >> rick wilson, you've worked in so many republican campaigns. to go back to this situation that we've seen, a word gets thrown out by an attorney general in a senate hearing. instantly goes into basically the donald trump re-election campaign. we can presumably expect more of this and we've seen it with other members of the cabinet historically, they are in fact, trying to help their president's re-election. but one of the people you don't expect to hear anything terribly useful from in a campaign it the attorney general. >> great and terrible powers are reposed in the attorney general. and this is why attorneys general traditionally have been very, very cautious about being even perceived as being vaguely political or offering any kind of political back stop or support to the incumbent orator
you know, pursue an agenda against their competitors. but what bill barr did by using specific sets of code words witch hunt, spying, these sort of things he is sending a signal out to a folks very activated by donald trump's fox-based audience and he is telling them i'm on the team. i'm on the squad. i'm going to help the donald no matter what. we could end up with the mueller report being redacted to the point where it's 400 pages of color coded blocks of nothing and he'll declare that trump is innocent and they walk away from it with a political victory that was given to them by a man who applied for the job by basically saying to the president, i'm going to say that everything you do even if it's criminal is under article 2. you're good to go on the obstruction half and now he's trying to clean up the other half. it's a disturbing moment for american government. >> david frum, one of the things rod rosenstein did not defend tonight in "the wall street journal" for william barr is the use of that word spying in the
hearing. he refused to comment on that. >> rod rosenstein may be even more of an am bib lent character in this story than anyone else. he did protect mueller. but he gave president trump the green light at the very beginning. that's what he is so baffling about all of this story is you're looking at people how think have everything to lose. attorney general barr when he started this job was already a former attorney general. former attorney general is one of the best jobs in washington. it's worth enormous amounts of money, worth enormous amounts of prestige. you're settled. you are forever the former attorney general. you don't need to rick that. rod rosenstein had a similar kind of reputation. what is it about that administration that makes people do it? you're often skeptical about the abilities of donald trump and rightly so. he does have one natural ability. if there's any moral weakness in you, he's got this ability to find it and work on it and pry
it open. and make you a lesser person than you would otherwise be. and again and again, meets people you would think are too big, too honorable to need any of this. yet he changes them and grinds them into dust. it's a heart rending site. >> david frum gets the last word. thank you all for starting us to have tonight. when we come back, we have breaking news in the next segment about donald trump's tax returns. and secretary mnuchin's possible handling or nonhamming of those tax returns. secretary mnuchin stands on the border of possibly committing a crime if he does not handle this situation perfectly. david kay johnson has the important reporting on this. and later, katie porter is back. she has done it again. democratic congresswoman katie porter did an amazing exchanging with jamie dimon who makes $31
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"the new york times" for tax reporting and that's why he was trusted by an anonymous source who delivered the summary pages of donald trump's 2005 tax return that he first made public on rachel maddow's show. tonight in an article just published at "the daily beast" he reveals that treasury secretary steven mnuchin and the commissioner charles redding are now in serious dangerous of violating section 7214 of the tax code which could be punishable by five years he in prison. section 7214 is entitled "offenses by officers and employees of the of united states." it says any officer or employee of the united states acting in connection, any revenue law of the united states who with intent to defeat the application of any provision of this law fails to perform any of the duties of his office or employment shall be dismissed
from office or discharged from employment and upon conviction thereof, shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than five years or both. that simply means any federal employee. including the president. or white house chief of staff or the treasury secretary or the irs commissioner who tries to defeat the application of tax law has committed a crime and shall be fired. it doesn't say may be fired. it says shall be dismissed from office. it is a very clear and simple law that controls the behavior of all federal employees when they deal with anything involving tax law. this law is now intersecting with section 6103 of the tax koid which we've already discussed on this program.
that is the law that requires the irs commissioner to hand over any tax returns demanded by the chairman of the house wanz means committee or the chairman of the senate finance committee, chairman richard neal of the ways and means committee demanded trump's tax returns under 6103. that leaves absolutely no choice on the part of the irs commissioner other than to hand over those tax returns. earlier this week, when testifying to the house appropriations subcommittee, secretary mnuchin said this about chairman neal's demand for donald trump's tax returns. >> we did receive the request. and as i've said in the past, when we received the request, it would be reviewed by our legal department. and it is our intent to follow the law. >> our intent to follow the law. in his letter last night to chairman neal, secretary mnuchin said we have begun consultations with the diplomat of justice to insure that our response is
fully consistent with the law and at constitution. so has anyone told steve mnuchin before this very moment right now on television that the law he has to worry about the most in this case is the one that could send him to prison for five years? joining our discussion now david kay johnston, the founder of dc report.org and author of "it's even worse than you think, what the trump administration is doing to america." and david, one of the many things that was so illuminating to me when i read your reporting to know tonight as i think the country knows the tax code is a monster. our most intimidating body of law for so many people. i've written some of it. i've read more of it. certainly than i've written. i've been studying it for decades. i don't know everything in there. and so i had no idea that there was this section governing all
federal employees and by the way, david, that means it was governing me when i was working on the senate finance committee. but any decent person working around this subject babes exactly the way the law requires anyway. you don't have to know what the law is. but i certainly didn't know that this provision existed. i am willing to bet everything i have that steve mnuchin did not know it. and might not have known it until either tonight or possibly the last couple of days that if he doesn't watch every step he takes and every word he says, he's risking five years in prison. >> well, i was familiar with this law but hadn't thought of it because as you point out our tax code is an indefensible mess. one of my sources today suggested i go back and look at this section. i suddenly realized it's totally comprehensive. it even includes failure to act not just sins of comission but since of omission.
and it, what, got me to thinking about all this was i was watching the sharp disparity between donald trump's law that the law is 100% on his side and mick mulvaney's reckless statement to fox news compared to the very nuanced comments that commissioner red dig and treasury secretary mnuchin were making to congress. i thought, now, what's going on here? why are these two men basically so careful to never say we won't turn it over. they want to delay. they want to find an excuse. the minute i looked at the section 7214, i went oh, that's exactly why. and my guess is, treasury department lawyers guided their comments. mnuchin has made what i recall in the piece artful statements about this. >> yes, and as we both know, there is a counsel at the treasury department who is a trump appointee but there's a bunch of lawyers working under that counsel in that offers who have been there in some cases for decades who know all of these things and so that's the
kinds of information that they would rush up to the treasury secretary as early in this process as possible i would think. and so it could very well be likely especially when you look at exactly the words mnuchin has been using that he's known about this law for at least a couple of weeks. >> yes, and part of the problem i suspect that secretary mnuchin has is, he could have just laid this all off on charles red dig, the former tax lawyer for rich people who got caught cheating who now runs the irs because there's a delegation order as you had larry somers standpointing out the other night that it's the irs commissioner who is responsible here mnuchin may not have had good advice in the beginning. he got drawn into this. frankly anybody in the white house who is a political operative, not the white house lawyers who represent the executive office, not the president personally, but anybody who touched this may also be at risk and this is something that congress as part of its investigation needs to look at because there is a clear
effort here by the president and his chief of staff to defeat the laws of the united states. >> david in, my reading of the law tonight, since you you illuminated for us, it seems to me that mick mulvaney of everyone in na administration is the one who has come closest to a criminal violation of that law by publicly saying those tax returns will never be turned over. now, that's the white house chief of staff. speaking for the president. speaking directly to the irs commissioner. he's doing it through television but he knows he's speaking to the irs commissioner when he says that. he knows he's speaking to the treasury secretary when he says that even though he's saying it on television. so this could be one of those instances where mulvaney had absolutely no idea i think from my suspicion is from your reporting tonight, we won't be hearing him say those words again. >> well, if he does, it's incredibly reckless, lawrence. and we need to keep in mind that what we're seeing going on with
this administration is obstruction of justice right in front of our eyes. they're doing it out in the open thinking that that may in some way insulate them. it does not. there's no requirement that you operate in secret when you're trying to defeat the laws of the united states. >> david kay johnston, really important reporting tonight in the daily beast. everyone should grab it right now, read it right now. thank you very much for joining us. appreciate it. when we come back, freshman democratic congressman katie porter will join us. she went up against another big witness today and it was not a good day for the big witness. d it was not a good day for the
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it happened again. freshman congresswoman katie porter did it again. she is a freshman democrat in the house of representatives who you have met on this program before and for the last couple of months washington lobbyists have had fair warning of what they have to prepare their clients for when their clients testify before katie porter. jamie dimon is the head of jpmorgan chase bank. he makes $31 million a year and pays lobbyists millions and millions to handle his lobbying interests in washington and to prepare him specifically for things like testifying to congress. but lobbyists cannot anticipate katie porter representing the 45th congressional district in california with irvine as her biggest city. she began her questioning of jamie dimon this way. >> i went to monster.com and i found a job in my hometown of irvine at jpmorgan chase that pace $16.50 an hour. >> the lobbyists never saw that one coming. katie porter then did the math
on what that income would be on an annual basis. and for a the hypothetical job applicant who is a single mother with one child. that job would leave her with $29,000100 a year after taxes. jamie dimon is no doubt good at math but not used to working with such tiny numbers. so katie porter laid out what the financial life looks like of someone getting a entry level job in the company where jamie dimon makes $31 million. >> should $2,425 a month, she rents a one-bedroom apartment, she and her daughter sleep soth in the same room in irvine. that average apartment will be $1600. she's spends $100 on utilities. take away the $1700 and she is net $725. she's like me, she drives a 2008 minivan and has gas. $400 for a car expenses and gatt gas. net $325.
the department of agriculture says a low cost food budget ramen noodles is $400 leaving her $77 in the red. she has a cricket cell phone, the cheapest she can get for $40 in the red $117 a month. she's has after school child care because the bank is open during normal business hours. that takes her down to negative $567 per month. my question for you, mr. diamond is how should she manage this budget shortfall while she's working full-time at your bank? >> and then jamie dimon deflected the question a bit and then his answer finally came down to, i don't know. >> she's short $56. what would you suggest she do. >> i -- i don't know i'd have to think about that. >> would you recommend she take out a jpmorgan chase credit card and run a deficit. >> i don't know. i'd have to think about it. >> rou recommend that she overdraft at your bank and be
charged overdraft fees? >> i don't know. i'd have to think about it. >> katie porter gave jamie dimon all the time in the world and it never occurred to him that maybe, maybe he could pay that worker an extra $567 a month. it never occurred to him that maybe he could take $567 a month less an income so that a struggling worker at the bottom of his payroll col survive. if questions like this were on the s.a.t.s, jamie dimon would not be sitting where is he sitting today. katie porter was asking a math question and a humanity question rolled into one and jamie dimon and his lobbyists flunked. katie porter persisted. until jamie dimon became speechless. >> she's still short $567. as are all of your employees in irvine, california. any ideas?
>> no. >> okay. moving on -- >> and we're going to move onto congresswoman katie porter after this break. - when you're volunteering, you never hear "it's not my job." that's because right where you live, there's a need for your time and skills and effort and talent. please consider volunteering and feeling that feeling that you helped someone today. - of non-drowsy claritin... and relief from symptoms caused by over... 200 outdoor and indoor allergens. like those from pollen, pets and dust. because new memories start with dusting off old ones. feel the clarity and live claritin clear. but i'm more than a number. when i'm not teaching, i'm taking steep grades and tight corners. my essilor lenses offer more than vision correction
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we don't bake. ♪ opportunity. what we deliver by delivering. when cravings hit, hit back. choose glucerna, with slow release carbs to help manage blood sugar, and start making everyday progress. glucerna. >> i'd love to call up and have a conversation about home run financial affairs and see if we can be helpful. >> see if you can find a way for her to live on less than the minimum that i've described. >> just be helpful. >> i appreciate your desire to be helpful but what i'd like you to do is provide a way for families to make ends meet. >> joining us now from
california is congresswoman katie porter, freshman democrat represents california's 45th district. and congresswoman porter, i have a feeling if jamie dimon called up a worker at the bottom of the pay scale at his bank making $16.50 an hour, and tried to discuss how to -- how that worker could better manage their finances i think the worker's very, very first suggestion would be, you could pay me more. >> absolutely. i mean, if chase would do what bank of america has done which is commit to raising its minimum pay to $20 an hour, that would entirely erase the shortfall in the hypothetical thetical that i gave him. the answer was right there sitting there for him. he said he would have to think about it. he said that several times. i hope he is thinking about it in the upcoming days and that he makes a change that will help the lives of thousands of employees around the country. >> i couldn't help thinking about all the exams we've got gone through and you've gone
through many more than i have since you went to harvard law school and you then became a law school professor yourself. the answer to this quell that you were giving him was just hanging right out there. and it -- he couldn't find it. you simply raised that person's pay. which he's completely empowered to do. >> it's interesting to wonder because he's obviously a very bright man. he's a successful ceo, highly compensated at $31 million. he's the head of the business roundtable which is the lobbying kind of advocacy organization for the nation's largest businesses. you would think that will investing in his own employees would be clear to him as a solution to this problem. so i have to wonder whether he didn't think of it or he simply doesn't want to invest in those that are -- those folks who are helping make it possible for jpmorgan chase to make record profits. >> how did you arrive at this line of questioning? because i have to say if i was a lobbyist trying to prepare jamie
dimon, i don't think i would have thought of this as a i've got to prepare him for this. >> well, you know, one of the benefits i have is i'm new to congress. so i am out in the real world. i'm a normal -- i'm a single mom myself. i go to the grocery store. i go on wednesdays when i can because it's double coupon day. i understand what it's like. i do drive a 2008 minivan just like i post in the the hypothetical. so i think what we're hearing from the freshman class is a lot of people with real world and real life experiences in touch with what's it like to be an everyday american and mr. dimon clearly is not in touch with that reality. >> congresswoman katie porter representing the real world and the 45th district. thank you very much. really appreciate it. >> thank you. >> when we come back, herman cain is now competing for the worst trump appointee yet, but he has plenty of competition. i'm off to college. i'm worried about my parents' retirement. don't worry. voya helps them to and through retirement...
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two people recently chosen by the president to be members of the federal reserve. at least one of whom may be on the verge of withdrawing his nomination tonight, possibly because of the final blows inflicted by george wills' column in "the washington post" today. one of the president's nominees is a deadbeat dad and a tax cheat and the other is herman cain. in a sane world, neither of them would be nominated to any job in the federal government. in a less sane world, they would both drop out after being nominated, and only in the insane world of senate republicans who seem to have taken an oath to trumpism would they ever be confirmed by the senate. after this break, george will will tell us which of those worlds we're living in and maybe herman cain will drop out during this commercial break and it will be a much quicker segment. we'll be right back. n
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oh shucky-ducky. >> i believe these words came from the pokemon movie. >> this economy is on life support. that's why my 9-9-9 plan is a bold solution. >> when they ask me who is the president of u becky becky becky stan stan, i'm going to say, you know, i don't know. do you know? >> herman cain is one of donald trump's choices for the federal reserve, as is tv pundit stephen moore. in his syndicated column in "the washington post," george will writes -- both are notably partisan trump acolytes and neither has satisfactory credentials or experience. the fed's prestige is endangered by these nominees. joining us now is george will, a "washington post" columnist and msnbc analyst. george, i think the easiest thing we could do is laugh our
way through these nominations, but one of the most important things about your column is identifying the kinds of risks, serious grave risks that these kinds of choices represent. >> well, first of all, if mr. trump thinks either of these two men is competent to sit on the federal reserve board of governors as one of seven, he probably thinks that therefore they could serve as chairman of the federal reserve board itself. in the line of greenspan and other giants of the federal reserve world. we saw in 2008 how much depended on the prestige and trust, not just in the united states, but around the world of other bankers in the federal reserve. t.s. elliot said in his play "murder in the cathedral," "the last temptation is the greatest treason to do the right deed for the wrong reason."
what's depressing here is that four, count them, four republican senators are showing flickering signs of independent judgement and might they say think about considering voting against these people. but largely because of their untidy personal lives. which means that the senators have yet to come to the conclusion that there are standards of competence and excellence that have to be met for certain institutions like the supreme court, but particularly the federal reserve board. people say, well, the president's politicizing the federal reserve board. well, that's true, but any president will appoint a justice he agrees with or a federal reserve governor he agrees with. the problem is the fed, unlike the supreme court, has immediate, direct politically consequential actions that shape the competition of the parties. and to put obedient political acolytes on the federal reserve board is therefore supremely dangerous.
>> and we've seen the president's public attempts to urge the federal reserve to go in one direction or another. in this case, he would just be able to pick up the phone. >> he could pick up the phone and it depends on who is on the other end of the phone. in his memoir, paul volker, now in his 90s, tells the story james baker, then chief of staff for ronald reagan, called him to the white house before the '84 election and says the president orders you not to raise interest rates. volcker turned and walked out the door without saying a word. so improper was the assumption that presidents could dictate to the chairman of the federal reserve board. >> and that's the kind of person that people -- that the senate has always been looking for, certainly when they get to the confirmation process, which i know in my experience, this position they took much more seriously than most. >> it's very interesting. the federal reserve is a creature of congress. congress created it.
it could, if it wanted, dictate monetary policy. in spite of repeated intermittent urgings for it to do so, it has always refused, a sign of great institutional maturity that some things should be beyond politics and monetary policy is one of them. >> we have a report from "the kansas city star" that herman cain referred to the senate banking committee, referred to them, "as a bunch of yahoos." not surprisingly tonight one news organization with anonymous sourcing is reporting that he crane may be on the verge of dropping out. i wish we had some time to talk about stephen moore, that i've spent on in some other shows because this is a difficult competition to talk about which one of these people is less qualified than the other. >> well, stephen moore has said that chairman powell of the
federal reserve board is incompetent. the interesting thing is that therefore he's committed to the standard of competence, and i don't think that's in stephen moore's interests. >> george will gets tonight's "last word." george, thank you very much for joining us and "the 11th hour" with brian williams starts now. tonight, the tag team of a president and his attorney general. donald trump praises bill barr's spying comments as accurate and absolutely true. can't help adding it was illegal and unprecedented. all of this as the president knows just days from now we'll all be reading about him in the mueller report. james comey has weighed in on the attorney general. so has rod rosenstein. his new comments tonight on how the mueller report is being handled. we got a rare glimpse of julian assange today. the problem for him is it came as he was arrested, dragged off to the slammer, indicted in london, and in this country, trump has now changed his tune on wikileaks. and an exclusive in "the