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tv   The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell  MSNBC  February 17, 2020 10:00pm-11:00pm PST

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involved there. but also tomorrow is the deadline for democratic candidates to qualify for wednesday's presidential debate in nevada. so far it's sanders, biden, warren, buttigieg, and klobuchar, but bloomberg is on the cusp of qualifying for that debate. it would be the first debate he's in. he only needs 10% in one more national poll in order if there's another national poll that comes out showing him with that kind of standing tomorrow, he will be in the wednesday night debate. he has until 11:59 p.m. eastern time tomorrow to make that cutoff. it's time for "the last word with lawrence o'donnell." >> set your alarm for 5:00 a.m.-ish. npr has announced at dawn they are going to release the poll that you were just talking about. >> oh, they've got a poll. >> the next national poll, it will tell us whether there are
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five or six people in that nevada/nbc debate tonight. >> and we know that npr is going to release that. there may be more than that poll. >> sure. >> if he makes it at the npr, it doesn't matter, everything else will be great. >> he said he'll show up for it even though he's not in the running in nevada, he's not one of the possible candidates there, so there could be an extremely intense day that's normally called debate prep, but will really be bloomberg prep for five candidates who will probably think that's the place to aim on wednesday night. >> if nothing else, the democratic process, the capital "d" democratic party process is laying waste to the idea that democracy is a staid and predictable and boring affair
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because every day is a roller coaster with this one and nobody's wearing seat belts. >> i've given up predicting. >> tonight's last word at the end of this hour will be golf. we'll discuss why golf should be for the first time ever a serious issue in a presidential campaign. because by election day, donald trump will have spent more days of his presidency playing golf than the number of workdays in a year. he has played golf in a way that spends more taxpayer money on golf than any president in history. and most of the profit from the expenses from donald trump's golf life goes to donald trump. donald trump's corrupt golf hustling of the american taxpayer is the most easily explained corruption in the entire trump presidency. it's the easy one. and there is at least one democrat who knows exactly how to attack him on that, as we will show you at the end of this hour.
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it is election night in america. and more votes have been cast in tonight's election than all of the votes in the iowa caucuses and the new hampshire primary combined because it is election night tonight in california. where almost 1 million votes have already been cast in early voting and it will continue to be election night every night in california right through tuesday, march 3rd, when california will begin counting the election returns on super tuesday in the most important primary of all, the one with 415 delegates. the california primary. they will be counting votes in the texas primary on the same night, march 3rd. the second most delegates, 228 delegates at stake. and texas also has early voting. thanks to early voting, it is now and will be election night in america every night between now and the first week of june.
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when the new jersey primary will award 126 delegates and the virgin islands caucuses at the end of this week of june will award the final six delegates in the chase for the democratic nomination for president of the united states. every night now in america at kitchen tables, people are staring at presidential primary ballots and deciding the future of the country. deciding the future of the rule of law. deciding what it means to protect and defend the constitution of the united states, against all enemies foreign and domestic, who is the beast person to do that? as the presidential oath of office swears the president to do. and the democratic presidential primary, what makes this the most difficult choice for voters according to polls is not sorting out the complexity of the candidates' policy proposals, it's not that. that's not what weighs most heavily on voters as they stare at their ballots, according to what they're telling pollsters.
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the number one issue according to polling among democratic presidential primary voters, number one, is beating donald trump. that's the most important thing, getting donald trump and his children and stephen miller and trumpism out of the white house. and democratic presidential primary voters are right to concentrate on that. first of all, because that in and of itself would be a huge governing accomplishment. political campaigns always get too caught up in the policy proposals of the candidates and never emphasize enough the other side of our politics, which is equally important. the two sides of our politics are what you are in favor of and equally importantly what you are opposed to. what you will prevent from happening. sometimes the most important thing you can do in political
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office is to simply stop a bad thing from happening. the most important thing that john mccain did in his entire political career, his entire 31-year career in the united states senate. the most important thing he did was not push through a john mccain policy proposal and get it passed into law. the most important thing senator john mccain ever did was say no. he said no at 1:29 in the morning. that's when john mccain turned his thumb down and voted no on the repeal of obamacare, he voted no to ripping health care away from millions of americans. that's what the next democratic president will be doing to all things trump, saying no, saying no more trumpism, no more trump nominations to the united states supreme court. no more federal judges appointed who don't even meet the minimal standards set by the american bar association. no more budget busting corporate
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tax cuts, no more threats to take your health care away, millions of people's health care away. no more babies in cages, no more muslim bans. no more celebrating with russian ambassadors, no more rage tweeting at football players. no more tweeting at the attorney general to lower a sentencing recommendation for the president's convicted felon friends. no more of that, no more idiotic, childish behavior with the murderous north korean dictator. no more nonstop pathological lying day in and day out by the president of the united states, just think about what one day in america would be with no more of that. and that's just the tip of the iceberg of trumpism that would be instantly banished from the white house. if a democrat takes the oath of office at the next presidential inauguration.
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voters are very right to say that that is the most important thing weighing their vote. and they're doubly right if mitch mcconnell remains the majority leader of the united states senate. not one legislative proposal has a chance of becoming law if mitch mcconnell is still in place in the united states senate. every single democrat has a much more progressive tax policy than president obama or president bill clinton before him. and not one sentence of democratic tax policy will become law if mitch mcconnell is still the majority leader of the senate next year. every one of the candidates has a more progressive health care policy than obamacare. none of that can become law if mitch mcconnell still controls the senate and voters know that, so most voters are not working very hard to sort out the
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differences because they know that a democratic president will sign into law whatever nancy pelosi can pass in the house of representatives which will only matter if the democrats manage to win control of the united states senate. tomorrow morning at dawn as i told rachel, npr will are releasing a new national poll of the democratic presidential candidates. the five candidates who currently qualify for wednesday night's debate might become six. mike bloomberg may be promoted, as of now, in descending order of their current delegate count, pete buttigieg, bernie sanders, elizabeth warren, amy klobuchar, and joe biden. and possibly wednesday night mike bloomberg will join them. leading off our discussion
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tonight, ben rhodes, ruth marcus. deputy editorial page editor, sam stein at the daily beast, all three are msnbc analysts, also joining us here in new york is mark thompson, host of the make it plain daily podcast. ben, i want to start with you, you're a veteran of presidential campaigns, what is it like tonight as you're two nights away from the next big debate. these candidates all saw the kind of klobuchar surge earned in the last debate in new hampshire. what is it that they're focusing on for wednesday night and hoping to carry them into victory saturday in nevada? >> it's a tough situation. i did debate prep for the obama campaign in 2008 and 2012. at this stage in the primary, it's complicated. on the one hand you're delivering a message to nevada voters, they're up next, they're going to caucus. but you also know, after you get
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past nevada and south carolina, this race goes national almost immediately. with the super tuesday primaries, the california prize that you highlighted in your opening. you're speaking to two audiences. you're trying to get some momentum, speak to the issues you know matter, you're trying to capture the national narrative and the national momentum. you see them doing this, my one concern i see with some of the campaigns is, there's a chasing of the shiny object. blood -- meanwhile, bernie sanders is coasting toward a nomination, if you project through the next several contests. the most important thing is, and obama was good at this, deliver your message, make your closing sale to the voters and deliver your message to the rest of the country and don't get knocked off course by what's dominating the media discussion on any one given day. >> the debaters on wednesday night, they'll be thinking about the nevada voters, in a way,
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they've never had to think about them less in the sense that when they're delivering their debate performance wednesday night, there are more voters in california watching that debate than will vote in nevada or any of the other states, the stakes could not be higher as they speak to these voters around the country. >> that's absolutely right. and as ben suggested, they're going to be likely turning a lot of their focus, i hope he'll be there, because it's really time for him to enter the fray to come out from behind the checkbook and behind the ads and to start answering questions from voters, from people like us, and his rivals for the presidency. and so they're going to be oddly enough, a lot of the focus, if he's in the debate, mayor bloomberg is going to be on somebody who's not actually on the ballot in nevada, but who is going to be on the ballot in california. it's an odd contest that has a
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bunch of different audiences. >> mark, republican voters taught their party a lesson four years ago, which is the past doesn't matter, we do not care that donald trump has spent most of his life apolitical or not a republican, we don't care that he's spent most of his life supporting abortion rights and now has flipped. we only care what he says today that he will do tomorrow. in wednesday's debate, we will see, as we've seen before, a lot of concentration on the past. on people's records and what it is. you can go to bernie sanders who has never been a democrat ever. and who was very pro nra's way of looking at gun legislation many years ago, but isn't any more. elizabeth warren was a republican a long time ago in her life. mayor bloomberg was a republican like yesterday, seemingly weeks
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ago, i guess it's years ago now. how much should all of this record matter versus what the candidate says he or she is in favor of now and will do in the job? >> well, thank you for having me, lawrence. it's complicated. >> yeah, it is. >> very complicated. >> i haven't sorted it out, it's a jump ball here. >> i think inevitably, people are looking at everything. because people are looking at everything, ben is right, this is going to go very quickly, south carolina, and then just a few days later, super tuesday, we've invited all the candidates in our annual jubilee in selma. >> when is that? >> that will be february 27th to march 1st. on sunday, march 1st, we march across the bridge to commemorate bloody sunday, then we said, rather than having a photo op on the bridge, let's talk to the citizens of selma, where voting rights were born in 1965. what i've looked at, though, honestly, is that at super
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tuesday, at the latest, lawrence, there still won't be a clear path for anyone to get the required number of delegates unless they win 55% in every primary/caucus after. we are headed toward a brokered convention. if it doesn't go down on the first ballot, the superdelegates come in on the second ballot, and you have a big problem. bernie has a lot of supporters and the other candidates do as well. they're still not feeling the superdelegates. if it comes down to that, i don't know where this is going to end up. also, what marcus said is true, it's time for bloomberg to come out from behind the checkbook, there are some things in his past that are quite damning. especially when we talk about stop and frisk, and muslim surveillance, if that is going to keep coming up, and more and more of that keeps coming out, even if he is the nominee, i don't know that the base is not
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affected by that. apathy doesn't come into play, i think there's still a lot more that needs to be worked out on this. >> sam, it's been relatively easy up until now, to get the candidates to say, when questioned, at least, will you support whoever the democrats nominate? mike bloomberg has made some of these candidates want to duck that question for the moment. >> well, yes and no, the one campaign that's really taking a contrast to bloomberg aggressively right now, is bernie sanders' campaign. and the question was posed to a senior strategist, jeff weaver, would you accept bloomberg's promise to donate copious amounts of money to the democratic cause if he's not the nominee, and jeff weaver said no. that's sort of tricky, because you can't coordinate with bloomberg what he spends on in the case. but by and large, the field has been fairly committed to
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unifying the nominee. maybe not bernie's surrogates, but bernie himself has been up front about unity, regardless of whether he wins or not. the question you alluded to early on, what is the case they're making to the voters to get them to support them, even in these debates, and then of course to the superdelegates as well. what i've noticed from just talking to voters on the trail. and maybe you have too, voters more than any elections are now considering themselves pundits. and they've engaged in this subjective exercise of trying to figure out which of these candidates is the most electable. east of these candidates can make a case for their electability. we end up in talking past each other now, these voters do, my guy's -- the woman i'm supporting is most electable. it's difficult to have a persuasive moment unless you have it on a national stage like amy klobuchar did in the new hampshire debate.
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>> when i was in new hampshire, i found a voter of every stripe to talk about their favorite candidate and why they are reluctant to vote for their favorite candidate, because they think someone else might be stronger against donald trump. i had bernie voters say, i think someone else may be stronger against trump. people who really want pete, really want elizabeth warren, really want joe biden, drifting toward someone else, because of what sam just called the pundit thing, where they all now -- and it's because they feel this giant weight of responsibility, they have to pick someone to beat trump. >> it's a combination of feeling that responsibility and also the normal human instinct to go with a winner. i talked with a woman in new hampshire who, this is before she started to go up in the polls, i really like amy, but i think she doesn't really have a chance, so i'm with pete. this was at a buttigieg event.
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then we saw the permission structure being created to go for amy klobuchar. it's a crazy way to vote, they're not the pundits, they're the voters, we are trying to predict what they're going to do and not the other way around. i think the urgency of this moment has increased the size. and to go to that, i think there's a really potentially dangerous situation arising here. and it's that bernie sanders, i think, as ben alluded to earlier, is going to have a real challenge in a general election campaign against president trump. i think a bigger challenge than some of the other potential democratic candidates. at the same time, mayor bloomberg is coming in so strong, if he is able to blot out the ability of non-bernie candidates to grow and compete on some -- any kind of unequal playing field on super tuesday, and he becomes the nominee, he's
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the candidate who the bernie supporters, no matter what senator sanders himself says, they're going to have the hardest time supporting. that creates a potentially fractured situation, whether or not we get to a contested convention, or if something is -- some agreement is agreed to before we get to second ballots. it's a potential -- real potential for division that should have everybody worried. >> we've seen this phenomenon before, where the voter had a favorite but was leaning in the other direction. the voter was afraid that the favorite couldn't win. that was the classic case of barack obama, who had to convert people into believing that he could win. including in very large numbers black people who were not on his side when his -- many were, but many were not on his side when his campaign began. because of that doubt, the one i like really can't win. >> absolutely.
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as a matter of fact, before iowa, in 2008, the majority of americans were with hillary clinton, barack obama and michelle obama went on "60 minutes" and acknowledged that. it was after he won iowa, black voters were like, wow. this can happen. >> it's because it was such a white state. >> indeed. the fact of the matter is, bernie has -- it's generational. bernie has a lot of young people, and they need to be engaged and voting in 2020, if it appears he's been locked out, they'll be disaffected. bloomberg on the other hand has affected a lot of young people through stop and frisk, it locked them out. so it gets very complicated and for what does it profit a party, to get a nominee, if it loses unity. we've got to figure out how to get that unity. >> well, the obvious solution, the bloomberg/sanders ticket,
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right? >> easy to put that together. >> we're going to have to leave it there. ben rhodes, ruth marcus, you have to identify on shows like this, that was a joke, everyone. okay? there's no studio audience laughing, no, there's not going to be a bloomberg sanders ticket. we'll be back after this break, when we come back, why federal judges think donald trump's interference in the justice department is an emergency. we'll be joined by two of the 2000 former justice department officials who have now signed a letter saying attorney general william barr should resign. that's next. ♪ do you recall, not long ago ♪ we would walk on the sidewalk ♪ ♪ all around the wind blows ♪ we would only hold on to let go ♪ ♪ blow a kiss into the sun ♪ we need someone to lean on ♪ blow a kiss into the sun ♪ all we needed somebody to lean on ♪ the new xc90 plug-in hybrid electric.
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it's an emergency. that's what federal judges think president trump's interference in the justice department is. an emergency. and so the national federal judges' association, which represents more than 1,000 federal judges today called for an emergency meeting tomorrow to address concerns about president trump's interference in the administration of justice in the department of justice. here's what william barr says about that. >> the president has never asked me to do anything in a criminal case. >> what about a civil case? the justice department has a
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massive civil division. what about an antitrust case? was what donald trump publicly and privately asks the attorney general to do or tells the attorney general to do has reached the emergency point in a letter released yesterday has now been signed by over 2,000 former justice department officials. and that number is growing. the letter says, each of us strongly condemns president trump's interference in the fair administration of justice. the letter calls on attorney general barr to resign. the liter letter says, although there are times when political leadership weighs in on individual prosecutions, it's unheard of for the department's top leaders to overrule line prosecutors who are following established policies in order to give preferential treatment to a close associate of the president. as attorney general barr did in the roger stone case.
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bill barr's actions unfortunately speak louder than his words. those actions and the damage they have done to the department of justice's reputation for integrity and rule of law require mr. barr to resign. joining me now, david lofton who served in the department of justice, also with us, matt miller, the former spokesperson for eric holder in the obama administration. he's an msnbc contributor. let me get to the point the letter makes. for an attorney general to insert himself at this stage of the proceedings. but particularly one where the person being sentenced is a 30-year friend of the president of the united states. >> lawrence, a couple days ago, i used the analogy that we're at
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a break glass in case of fire for the department of justice. that's where we are, it's an emergency. it's unheard of for the attorney general to commandeer a case. the repudiate the sentencing, the government took only 24 hours ago, on behalf of a political ally of the president. and that's why you saw an outcry from former department prosecutors and other officials, that's why you've seen an outcry from federal judges who, in an extraordinary move, have called an emergency meeting of federal judges. >> the intervention by the attorney general is so peculiar because this final decision is up to a judge, the judge saw this happen, the judge watched this like the rest of us, in effect both on tv and in the filings the judge has received. first a filing recommending 7 to 9 years, then a filing recommending something less than that, whatever the judge thinks
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is fair. the idea that the attorney general felt that kind of change deserved his intervention is so strange in this case. >> it's absolutely strange. unprecedented is another word for it. when i worked for eric holder, i don't recall him ever getting involved when the department has gone to trial and won a case. a.g.s get involved in criminal cases all the time, on signing off on whether to bring a case. in approving plea negotiations, but when the department has gone to court and won a case, has indicted someone and won the case, the department trusts the people, the prosecutors who brought that case to be able to read the sentencing guidelines, and come up with an appropriate sentence. which is exactly what happened here. that's in any case. any normal case. you add to that what you have in this case where it is a close political ally of the president who, let's remember, was convicted of lying to congress, basically to protect the president.
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when you have an a.g. get involved in that, it's fairly obvious what's going on here. that's why you see so many people from the department, the federal bench, who are speaking up and saying this isn't the way it's supposed to work. they're speaking up because, unlike the way the departments and agencies work, it's not something enshrined in law or regulation. it's a norm that has existed because presidents and attorneys general have either respected the need for an independent department or have been afraid of the political department. when you see a president and attorney general who don't respect that rule, i think it's incumbent on everyone who understands how the system works to speak up and say something. >> i'm not aware of the federal judges' association ever having an emergency meeting about something. maybe at some point in their history. but certainly not about anything like this. >> it's quite telling. federal prosecutors have a precious commodity.
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when they stand before a federal judge, they have the full faith and credibility of the u.s. government. that's being eroded right now. judges may be asking, how much faith can we put in what the government is telling us? what position can we assume the government is taking? is it going to be what you filed yesterday? these are historic departures from norms that federal judges have got to be concerned about at least in politically sensitive cases. >> everything david just said sounds like something the judge is actually going to say tomorrow in a scheduled conference call with the parties in this case. >> yeah, i'm very curious to see what she does. look, she's been fairly modest in the way she's handled this case from the beginning. there were a lot of times where people thought she was going to be tougher on roger stone, when he was violating the gag order. and she gave him several chances
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before she eventually reined him in. if this were the judge in the mike flynn case, i think you would expect him to haul all four line prosecutors in. i'm not sure she's going to do that, but she's going to have the new line prosecutor there. and ask him, what is the opinion of the justice department? the judges have great discretion in the courtroom. why did the department change the opinion? why aren't the other four people here today? i've gotten to know them. i think she will have a number of questions, and if she chooses to, she could go as far as calling the u.s. attorney or even demanding a statement from the attorney general himself. >> thanks for being here. >> good to be with us. when we come back, we'll get a report live from las vegas about the state of the race ahead of wednesday's democratic debate in las vegas.
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and saturday's nevada caucuses from the editor of the nevada independent, john ralston. ♪you make everything... groovy...♪ done yet? yeah, yeah, sorry, sorry. you sure? hmm.mmm. ♪come on, come on, wild thing. if you ride, you get it. geico motorcycle. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more. than rheumatoid arthritis or psoriatic arthritis. when considering another treatment, ask about xeljanz xr, a once-daily pill for adults with moderate
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in a first for the nevada caucuses, the democratic party has opened up the process to include four full days of early voting. and it's working. turnout has been huge. in the first two days of early voting, 26,000 nevada voters participated. if that pace continues for the last two days of early voting, there could be over 50,000 early voters in nevada. four years ago the total number of voters was 84,000 voters participating in the nevada caucuses. the nevada democratic party says on the first day of early voting 56% of those voters were first time nevada caucus voters. joining us now is john ralston. editor of the nevada independent. and he will be one of the moderator's of wednesday's
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democratic debate here on msnbc. i'm struck by all those numbers including 56% first time nevada caucus voters. that says to me the polling might not be very reliable this time. if there's a bunch of first time caucus voters who they weren't sure would show up. >> is the polling ever any good in nevada? >> it's been pretty good. last time they said hillary would win and she won. >> remember she had a 25 point lead, though, and she almost lost. listen, i think -- you can throw polling out the window pretty much, for a couple reasons, one is that statistic, which is a remarkable statistic, as you point out that 56% are early voters, but also that massive turnout in early voting, there were huge lines again today, and i would guess with more sights tomorrow, the final day, that will be even bigger, but what does that really mean?
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how much of that is cannibalizing the actual attendance at the caucus, people don't want to go to a caucus, they want to go early vote, fill out the ballot. the iowa effect. they don't want to go anything that may be a nightmare like that. how much of it is a sign of enthusiasm? with the new voters, with the campaigns driving everybody there. it's the first i heard about it, but i understand there's a debate on wednesday. i think that will create excitement, too, and i think you would agree, there will be more tension in that debate than in the past because of what the candidates are doing now. especially if bloomberg ends up being on that stage. i think the betting line now is that 80,000 could be eclipsed. >> we are throwing this poll out the window, because you've told us to, but we're going to put it up on the screen before we throw it out the window, so people can see the general shape of things in nevada. bernie sanders in the latest
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poll, in the lead with 25%. down to klobuchar, down to 10%. one of the big numbers in the middle of the poll that is unusual, tom steyer is at 11%. that has a lot to do with tom steyer spending $14 million in tv advertising, and other advertising in nevada, the next spender down from him is bernie sanders, $1.8 million. a huge gap there in terms of the spending. >> yeah, i mean tom steyer is the most well known person in the state right now, but whether that translates into a good showing in the caucus, i don't think anybody knows. and i'm not necessarily saying you should throw all the polling results out the window. that poll is somewhat mirrored by another poll that came out and showed bernie sanders with an even bigger lead. the conventional wisdom is, bernie sanders is well positioned to win the nevada
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caucus, i think why they're not overly confident is because of what we've been talking about, we've never had early voting here before, we don't know what that means. a poll is only as good as, how well it can model the turnout. i think bernie sanders' people are confident but not cocky about this, what's really interesting is the cluster below him, and that almost anybody could finish in second place, since joe biden is pouring a tremendous amount of resources in here at the last minute to try to right his sinking campaign, getting a lot of endorsements, doing a lot of appearances, trying to get the vote out, there is some sense that maybe, maybe he can get into second place here. >> the suspense could not be greater in nevada, because even john ralston doesn't know what's going do happen. thank you very much for joining us tonight. really appreciate it. >> you bet. when we come back, john bolton tonight said that two of the most important areas of trump foreign policy are a
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bolton said donald trump's policy on iran is a failure. and donald trump's utter absence of policy on north korea is a mistake. on the trump approach in north korea he said it was perfectly evident it was going to fail. when john bolton asked if donald trump's call with ukraine said, it was perfect, he said, you'll love chapter 14. he repeatedly gave answers like that about that for his book, for which he was paid a multimillion dollar advance, and awaits a security clearance by the trump administration which left john bolton giving answers tonight like this. i'd be happy to answer that question, except part of this is involved in the prepublication review of my book. joining us now is ben rhodes. ben, your reaction to john
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bolton's comments tonight. >> i have two reactions. this guy could have told the country what he knew about what happened on that call with zelensky, what happened in the entire ukraine corruption scandal at any moment. even though he wasn't called as a witness, he could have taken -- could have gone on your show, lawrence. he wants to profit off this book. at the same time, he's also telling us in his own words, this man who was the longest serving national security adviser for trump, he's been a complete failure on his key foreign policy initiatives. it's been a failure that continues to build nuclear weapons despite this diplomacy he's been engaged in. he's been a failure in iran. it's been a failure in standing up for democratic values. john bolton in his own words is revealing that the emperor has had no clothes. he's been a complete failure
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measured up against the objectives that donald trump himself set. >> john bolton refused to testify in the inquiry in the house of representatives when colonel vindman and others in the same position as john bolton did testify, including people like colonel vindman who were still employed. still working in the trump white house. bolton as a private citizen could have done it. and then bolton decides from out of nowhere, i'm willing to testify in the senate trial, he was pretty sure he wasn't going to have to. here's what he said tonight about the ukraine issues. this is as far as he would go. he said, for all the focus on ukraine and the impeachment trial, and all that, for me, there are portions of the manuscript that deal with ukraine. i view that like the sprinkles on the ice cream sundae, in terms of what's in the book. ben, this is the book tour for the book that doesn't exist yet. >> yeah. well, and look, this is a guy
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who seems motivated above all by profit. and frankly we've seen this in a lot of trump people who have left and written books. and here's the reality, lawrence. american democracy is on the ballot in this upcoming year, and we've had people like bolton, like rex tillerson, like jim mattis, like john kelly, who walked out of that white house, and they know a lot. they know a lot that they haven't told us yet. they know a lot that hasn't even been in the books they've written. frankly between now and the election, i would like to see these people lay this out for the american people so we can know what's going on in our government because the glimpse we've gotten is not pretty. it's an unprecedented level of corruption. it's an unprecedented level of the president abusing his office for his own personal interest. john bolton keeps indicating that he knows that happened and that he's going to tell us in his book. what i would like to see more of these people do is what vindman had the courage to do, the guts to do, not for profit, but because it was right, because it was morally the right thing to do. it was ethically the right thing to do. he went through legal channels and he told the american people what he knew. we need more voices like that between now and november.
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>> ben rhodes, deputy national security adviser in the obama administration, thank you very much for joining us tonight. really appreciate it. >> thanks, lawrence. when we come back, the great sports writer rick reilly gave us an invaluable perspective on donald trump in his book "commander in cheat: how golf explains trump." but golf is now at the heart of the corrupt practices of the trump presidency designed to make donald trump richer, and that means that presidential golf should be a serious issue in the presidential campaign. that's next. as a struggling actor, i need all the breaks that i can get. at liberty butchemel... cut. liberty mu... line? cut. liberty mutual customizes your car insurance so you only pay for what you need. cut. liberty m... am i allowed to riff? what if i come out of the water? liberty biberty... cut. we'll dub it. liberty mutual customizes your car insurance so you only pay for what you need. only pay for what you need.
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beyond fast. for the first time in presidential history, golf should be an issue in the presidential campaign. the golfiest president in the history of the presidency has now played golf 247 times at massive taxpayer expense. most of the government money spent on donald trump's trips to golf courses is paid to donald trump because he always plays
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golf at properties that his company owns, so the secret service has to pay donald trump to rent all those golf carts to protect donald trump and pay donald trump for hotel rooms at donald trump's golf resorts for the secret service and others in the president's massive traveling party. and so democratic presidential campaign commercials should include donald trump telling lies about his golf courses like this four years ago when he was running for president. >> if i were in the white house, i don't think i'd ever see turnberry again. i don't think i'd ever see doral again. i own doral in miami. i don't think i'd see many of the places i have. i don't think i'd see anything. i just want to stay in the white house and work my ass off, make great deals, right? who's going to leave? >> joining us now is neera tanden, former senior adviser to president obama and hillary clinton. neera, thank you very much for joining us tonight. i mean it.
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golf is serious stuff in the way this president has done it. it's the most easily explained of the trump cash scandals in the trump white house. >> mm-hmm. absolutely. i mean, the fact that he essentially plays golf all the time at his own resorts where he makes the secret service pay for him and other government officials, basically pay basically into his pocket, and that turns out to be far, far more than what would otherwise be his salary is. another way in which he's used the government as essentially a personal slush fund. >> there is one candidate so far who's gone after golf. it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone who this is. let's listen to this. >> people have said, when you were mayor, the city gave trump a contract to operate a golf course. yes, that's true. but he was the only bidder, and running a golf course is the only job that i would hire him for.
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>> neera, it takes a lot of money to decide that within everything you want to do in your campaign advertising and in terms of advancing your own message and your own policies, you want to devote some of that money to going after donald trump on golf. bloomberg certainly has the money to do that. >> well, i mean, i think he can be a little -- he doesn't need to be so discriminating when he has that much money, but i think the point is that golf and the amount of golf he plays is an actual humorous point, particularly after he criticized barack obama for golfing so much when in comparison, barack obama golfed so little compared to donald trump. but i think the most important part of this is the corruption element. it is the issue in which the president is essentially -- president trump is actually essentially profiting off of playing golf.
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most of us would find that hard to do, but a con man very rarely does. >> one of the things about the bloomberg campaign, if he's not the nominee, which at this point in the polling seems likely, what he's promised to do is spend a massive amount of advertising, which would basically be aimed at donald trump. his ads are very clever, very smart. he would clearly include this and include that clip of trump saying, you know, i won't be playing golf when i'm president. we would definitely see that in a bloomberg-paid-for ad in the general election. >> i definitely hope so. i think one of the most important things is to really be able to laugh at donald trump and to be able to call out his insecurities. i think trump is essentially a narcissist. he's very insecure, and mike bloomberg has been able to get under his skin, as have several other candidates. and so i look forward to that. >> neera tanden gets tonight's last word. neera, thank you very much for joining us. really appreciate it. >> thanks for having me. >> "the 11th hour" with brian
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williams starts now. tonight on this president's day holiday, the current president takes his post-impeachment powers out for a spin even as a court prepares the next phase in the case of his old friend and convicted felon roger stone. inside. plus the transformation of the modern justice department and the colossal number of former feds, now over 2,000 of them, who are calling on this attorney general to resign. and as for the democrats, as they race to make sure the nevada caucuses look nothing like iowa, they debate in vegas two nights from now, and that means bloomberg might finally take the stage, and things are heating up between him and bernie and biden. all of it as "the 11th hour" gets under way on this monday night. well, good evening once again

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