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tv   The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell  MSNBC  February 10, 2017 7:00pm-8:01pm PST

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be unsealed because they reportedly include claims of domestic violence made by mr. pudzner's ex-wife towards him. he's denied the allegations and his ex-wife now says she takes them back, but his critics argue that those claims, if true, would make him plainly unfit to be in charge of efforts like combating workplace harassment and violence. so, monday, protests at carl's jr. and hardee's, tuesday the court hearing on the domestic violence allegations in his divorce records and then thursday, we get his confirmation hearing, the one that's already been delayed four times. so, like the senate, get some rest this weekend. you're going to need it. that's it for us tonight. see you monday. now time for "the last word." ari melber in for lawrence tonight. good evening, ari. >> thank you, rachel, have a good evening. michael flynn discussing sanctions with russia before trump was inaugurated, which contradicts what the administration has been saying. also tonight, donald trump's
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latest voter fraud fear is buses from massachusetts and voters around the country challenging their representatives at town halls to stand up to the new administration. [ chanting ] >> anger that's been erupting across the country at republican town halls. >> i've been at the white house for 20 years, my fourth president. i've never seen this. >> this was the first time that a police department determined that i needed an armed escort to safely leave the venue. >> despite denials, a national security adviser mike flynn did, in fact, discuss u.s. sanctions against russia wh the russian ambassador. >> leading democrats in congress now calling for an investigation into national security adviser michael flynn. >> i thought michael flynn was unqualified for this job to begin with. this just proves the point. >> if, indeed, mike flynn lied to him or misled the vice president, you tell me, how can they continue to work together? >> i don't know about it. i haven't seen it. >> quick follow-up question --
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should a president know stuff or not know stuff? i don't know which one of those two. good evening. it is a principle bordering on a cliche that the president holds no greater responsibility than keeping americans safe. that is why the "washington post's" new report suggesting the possibility of one of the most serious scandals an administration can face must be seriously reviewed. the "post" reporting there's evidence that lieutenant general michael flynn, president trump's national security adviser, covertly discussed u.s. sanctions with a russian ambassador during the obama administration's tenure. now, those reports appear to contradict those very public denials by vice president pence, among others, and raised the question of how high in the administration this alleged deception about statecraft went. nbc news, we should note, has
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also confirmed this same account from the "washington post." it all stems from phone calls between flynn and putin's ambassador on december 29th. in case you weren't counting, that was the very same day president obama imposed sanctions on russia for interfering in the u.s. presidential election. now, this report, we should note, is not preliminary. it is not based on the accepted journalistic minimum of, say, two sources or a few more, say three or four. the "washington post" cites nine current and former officials in senior posts at multiple agencies at the time of the calls. they unanimously state, "flynn's references to the election-related sanctions were explicit." two of the officials went further, saying "flynn urged russia not to overreact to the penalties being imposed by the current president" at the time, barack obama, making clear that the two sides would be in a position to review the matter
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after donald trump was sworn in as president. now, about those denials. pence, reince priebus, and sean spicer have all stated the opposite. >> they did not discuss anything having to do with the united states' decision to expel diplomats or impose a censure against russia. >> i have talked to general flynn. none of that came up. none -- the subject matter of sanctions or the actions taken by the obama administration did not come up in the conversation. >> there's been one call. i talked to general flynn about this again last night. one call talks about four subjects. >> to be clear and to be fair, flynn is not corroborating the entirety of these new reports, so you can consider them still contested. but there's something really interesting happening. he is backing off the previous denials. we're going to show you exactly what his spokesman has told nbc news -- "flynn can't be 100%
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sure, but he doesn't remember talking sanctions with the russian ambassador." the senior official also telling nbc news that vice president pence based his comments about flynn's discussions on conversations that he had only with mike flynn. reporters asked president trump about this story this afternoon. as you can see, it's a big story. it's previously been discussed by senior officials who work for the president. and this question we're about to show you was asked 16 hours after the "washington post" story broke. the president's response was to suggest he's out of the loop. >> what do you make of reports that general flynn had conversations with the russians about sanctions before you were sworn in? >> i don't know about it. i haven't seen it. what report is that? >> there have been a number of reports -- >> the "washington post" is reporting that he talked to the ambassador to russia before you were inaugurated about sanctions, maybe trying to -- >> i haven't seen that. i'll look at that.
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>> the prospect of an american citizen working to covertly undermine u.s. foreign policy is obviously serious, and we can tell you back in congress, the ranking member on the homeland security committee, democratic senator claire mccaskill, is now calling on fbi director james comey to provide a briefing on the scope and status of any fbi investigation related to general flynn's contact with the russian government. now, let's be clear, few americans today relish the idea of the fbi engaged in another politically sensitive investigation of any kind, but mccaskill is arguing the notion of not investigating such serious, now-documented contacts is far worse. joining me now for context is rick stengel, former undersecretary of state for public diplomacy in the obama administration, a contributor here at msnbc, colin cowell, a professor at georgetown and former adviser to vice president biden and rick wilson,
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contributor to "the daily beast." colin, how serious is this based on what is known? >> it's pretty serious. i mean, there is a couple things going on here. there's the principle that you have one administration at a time, so you potentially had someone working for trump, working behind the administration's back to undermine the administration's policy. you then have the question of whether -- you know, why flynn appeared to have misled both the public, but also people within the administration to include vice president pence about what those conversations were about. and i think it raises deeper questions about what type of ties there were between members of now the trump administration, but previously, the trump campaign and representatives of the russian government dating back to the campaign time, which was another part of that "washington post" story and also a piece in "the new york times" today. >> and a part of the whole underlying issue, richard stengel, because these sanctions here were applied by the previous administration based on intelligence findings of
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election-related hacking and misinformation. >> yes, and there are also the other sanctions that the obama administration imposed because of the annexation of crimea and the invasion of ukraine. those really hit and hurt the russians, and they had been trying to get them reversed for a long time. if these stories are true, it is highly, highly, highly inappropriate, to say the least, and indeed, the violation of the logan act, which no one has been convicted of since it was passed in 1799, which does not allow private u.s. citizens to talk to foreign powers about american poli policy. >> two questions and then i'll bring in rick wilson. number one, is your view that someone that's an incoming administration member would be treatable as like a private citizen? and two, have you ever seen anything like this during your time at the state department? >> i haven't seen anything like this at all. and i think particularly dealing with russia, where matters are so highly sensitive and go straight up to the president's office, that people are very, very loathed to do something
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like this. so, to me it's pretty much unprecedented. the fact that he was likely to be in the incoming administration might have some influence, but the law and the statute says nothing about that, as you know. >> rick wilson? >> i think the two central quick questions here are very simple. the first is, mike flynn's relationship with russia and with putin was already a matter in question before this happened. it was obvious that he was lying when he said, oh, i wished the ambassador a merry christmas a couple wee ago. this merits an investigation. this merits an actual investigation, not something cursory. and the real question here -- >> let me draw on that -- >> -- is whether republican leadership will draw that up. >> you're making a very serious claim there. you're saying it was obvious at the time it was a lie? what is your evidence for that? >> look, the fact of the matter is michael flynn has a relationship with putin and the russians that stretches well beyond the -- i mean, he worked for putin's propaganda
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television network, rt. the guy retires from the dia and he's in russia a few weeks later having dinner with putin. this is a guy who has got some sort of connection there, and i believe he is the facilitator of a lot of this happy talk. and mike flynn is reported in a variety of sources to believe that he can strike some sort of anti-muslim alliance up with the russians. we can put aside all of russia's behavior and adopt them as our new bffs as long as they'll fight islam with us. and i think that's what's driving a lot of this. it's been reported pretty widely, ari. >> yeah, let's distinguish, though, between the policy debate, whether that is a good idea, which is a part of any democracy, debating whether you want to be warmer or not to russia, and what you seem to be referring to, which would be more problematic, some sort of corruption or alliance with russia that is based on something other than u.s. interests. >> you know, we talk about the logan act a lot, ari, and most of the time it's when someone
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like ted kennedy goes over to russia and talks smack or jimmy carter goes to some third world nation and criticizes the u.s. and makes all of these statements. but in this case, we have a guy who is going to be the most senior intelligence official in the country, de facto, at least, go to the russians before the election -- or before the inauguration -- and say we're going to lift these sanctions, don't worry about it, don't overreact, help me help you. >> right. right. >> and the fact of the matter is, that is something that is a very bright line, i think. ani think you're going to see the leaks continue because the intelligence community is quite obviously thnumber of sources in both the "times" and the "post" stories today were astounding. and these are folks who see this guy as a security threat. >> right. and what you're referring to is just something that can't be emphasized enough. there is a fundamental distinction between arguing a case or a point in the united states and trying to use elicit or covert meanings to undermine the position of the u.s. government, whether you agree with it or not.
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colin, take a listen to senator chris murphy. you look at how democrats are reacting, how far do they want to go. this is how far he was prepared to go. >> some of your colleagues calling for an investigation, some calling for his resignation. what's your reaction to that news? >> well, i think michael flynn is very dangerous. and so, i think it's time to start talking about whether he is still suitable to be in the national security cabinet. >> colin, do you agree with that? >> well, i think michael flynn's ideas have been dangerous for a long time. the question of whether his conduct is dispositive and should get him kicked out is probably something they're debating in the white house right now, if for no other reason, because i have to imagine vice president pence and spicer and others are upset he misled the public and them. so this is a serious issue, but i think it speaks to this broader question. you know, the intelligence community determined overwhelmingly with high confidence that the russians interfered in our election, so it's not just whether or not
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michael flynn, you know, lied about what he did during the transition period, but also whether he had contacts during the campaign that speak to this question of whether there was a broader issue of collusion. and so, this really has to be investigated from top to bottom in a converse. >> rick stengel, i want to ask about what would have been our top russia story tonight if there wasn't so much going on, something you know a lot about from your tenure. investigative journalist cynthia mcfadden reporting russia considering returning snowden to the united states to "curry favor with trump." intelligence checking information that russia is considering turning snowden over as a gift, calling the nsa leader a spy and traitor, trump has, saying he deserves to be executed. that's according to a senior u.s. official who has reports detailing the russian deliberation and says the snowden handover is one of the various ploys to curry favor with trump. your thoughts. >> yes. i mean, ari, if true, it would be a win-win for russia.
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presumably, they've extracted as much information from snowden as they can get. they will look like they are doing a favor for the new president. the president would look strong in terms of violaprosecuting so who's violated the most secure sacket yums. so, it would be a smart ploy for putin, who's showed his ability to manipulate the new president from beginning to end. >> would americans view it as a foreign policy victory for donald trump? >> the popularity of snowden, there's lots of disagreement about that, but i think most americans feel he betrayed the country, so i think it would look like something that is strong for the new administration. >> rick wilson, where do the politics go from here? there are references to the logan act, investigative processes there. i want to be clear, there's been no fbi public findings on anything like this. >> correct. >> so that is all speculative. but what about the political reaction, if any, from either party on what to do about this or how to investigate it, at least out of congress?
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>> well, look, i mean, the democrats have a significant disadvantage here, is that they just don't seem to have a single thematic point they can latch on to with any of their messaging right now. they drift from this to puzner to tillerson to protests in the streets. the only person who can address this and protect our national security in this matter and get to the bottom of what's going on -- if you even take the best-case scenario that michael flynn has had contacts that are inappropriate, there needs to be someone taking a look at this. and the fact of the matter is, leadership in the house and senate have other fish to fry and they'll let trump keep running out the chain. there are other members of the senate -- i spoke with two of them today who are very nervous and upset about this, and they're reaching a point where they're not going to play polite ball with leadership. but in the house, it's pretty much on lockdown. you saw jason chaffetz last night essentially say donald trump gets a get out of jail
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free card. his administration seems to be a slap on the wrist to kellyanne conway but silence about a matter that could have incredibly consequential and profound impacts on our national security. >> it's a big story, another shoe dropping in what has been a lot of revelations about the role of russia in the election, which is something that is of nonpartisan concern, i would say, to many people in the nation. rick stengel and colin kahl, thank you for your expertise. rick wilson stays with us. coming up, donald trump is infuriated about the leaks that keep coming from the white house and the details of his confrontational phone calls to some foreign leaders. plus, trump resurrecting baseless voter fraud claims and this time saying it was buses of illegal voters coming from massachusetts. that's next.
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there's a famous proverb from the businessman, poet and rapp
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rapper jay z, a wise man told me don't argue with fools because people from a distance can't tell who's who. keep that proverb in mind as the trump administration again renews its argument that the american elections that we all participate in are ripe with voter fraud. president trump alleging without evidence that secret buses of illegal voters from massachusetts have tainted the election. ken vogel broke the story. he joins me next. befi was active.gia, i was energetic. then the chronic, widespread pain drained my energy. my doctor said moving more helps ease fibromyalgia pain. he also prescribed lyrica. fibromyalgia is thought to be the result of overactive nerves. lyrica is believed to calm these nerves.
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for some, lyrica can significantly relieve fibromyalgia pain and improve function, so i feel better. lyrica may cause serious allergic reactions or suicidal thoughts or actions. tell your doctor right away if you have these, new or worsening depression, or unusual changes in mood or behavior. or swelling, trouble breathing, rash, hives, blisters, muscle pain with fever, tired feeling, or blurry vision. common side effects are dizziness, sleepiness, weight gain and swelling of hands,egs and feet. don't drink alcohol while taking lyrica. don't drive or use machinery until you know how lyrica affects you. those who have had a drug or alcohol problem may be more likely to misuse lyrica. with less pain, i can be more active. ask your doctor about lyrica. you spoke about you're going to win this court battle against the immigration and travel ban. >> we'll win that battle. the unfortunate part is it takes
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time statutorily. it takes time. we'll win that battle, but we also have other options, including just filing a brand-new order on monday. [ inaudible question ] >> could very well be, but i like to surprise you. >> president trump talking about the element of surprise in his immigration policy. considering that the way he rolled out his travel ban did lead to a surprise federal court ruling blocking the entire order, some of his critics will keep rooting for surprises. it has been at times difficult to follow the administration's legal strategy here. minutes before trump spoke on air force one, for example, an aide said the white house did not plan to appeal the ruling against him to the supreme court. two hours later, white house press secretary sean spicer told nbc news "every option is on the table." that includes going to the supreme court. meanwhile, politico is reporting today that trump is increasingly frustrated with some parts of his new job. being president is harder than donald trump thought. his mood has careened between surprise and anger as he's faced the predictable realities of
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governing, from congressional delays over his cabinet and legal fights holding up his staff infighting as well as leaks. ken vogel is with politico and rick wilson, republican strategist and contributor to "the daily beast." ken, what are you finding in your reporting? >> well, like you said in the intro, trump is really frustrated. you know, some of these things are really predictable, that he would have congressional opposition to controversial nominees, that there would be judicial review and challenges, even decisions againstim if he pushed aggressive initiatives through executive order. you would think you would understand that coming into the presidency, but our sources tell us that with each of these setbacks, he's become increasingly like surprised anew and angry and really looking for vengeance, as opposed to looking for ways in which to proceed. now you hear him, of course, talking about issuing a new executive order potentially. that's a little bit of a surprise based on what our sources tell us, that he was so
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dug in on this and so looking to win these battles, that he would just sort of continue to fight. maybe it's a good sign in some ways that he's willing to take a step back and recalibrate. >> oh, sure. i think if he's open to changing an order in response to the courts, that should be welcomed by all. it's funny, though. some of this reporting makes it seem -- you know, i'm reminded of a scene in "casablanca," i'm shocked there's gambling going on here. it's like donald trump showing up to the boxing match in washington and is shocked that there are disputes to be had and disagreements. reading from the piece, "the president and his allies believe career national security staff assigned from other agencies are out to get them. some staff believe trump doesn't acquire the nuance to handle sensitive issues discussed on these calls" and that he's politicized their strategies by appointing steve bannon to the council. he's got to be ready for these kind of fights if he's doing what he's doing. >> yeah. some of it underscores the difference between running a
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business, even a fairly large one like the trump organization, versus running the united states government. you're the ceo of a business, your decision goes, necessao ma what, no checks and balances. but you would think over the course of time running for president, you would become aware of the checks and balances and sort of ready for them. i think some of it stems from the fact that so many of the folks who he's brought in who are in his inner circle have zero government experience. we'ralking aboutteve bannon, jared kushner. these aren't folks who are able to anticipate it or able to necessarily prepare trump for the types of setbacks that are just part of governing. >> right. rick, as promised, i'm going to read from this new voter fraud allegation. i want to be clear, i'm reading this not because it's true but because the president talked about it. he claims that he and republican senator kelly ayotte both would have been victorious in the granite state if not for the thousands of people who were brought in on buses from neighboring massachusetts to "illegally" vote in new hampshire."
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i want to reiterate something i've reported on air about before and we'll continue to report, which is that while president trump has pledged a massive investigation into voter fraud that he said would have proved his claims, he has not begun, he has not issued the order. it is another area where action has not matched the words. >> well, ari, look, it sort of speaks to a larger piece about the entire trump administration. they are comfortable lying on the outside so much, and they are comfortable telling things -- following trump's lead on telling these fantastic stories. you know, president von munch housen here has always got something to explain anything that doesn't go right for him, whether it's buses of illegal voters or millions of muslims trying to sneak into the country to blow things up or, you know, donna brazile giving hillary clinton the debate questions. he's always got an external explanation for anything that doesn't go his way. but unfortunately, at some
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point, no matter how loudly he screams the words fake news, the facts will out in many of these cases. and obviously, of course there's no evidence of this. of course this is made up out of his head or from some, you know, third-tier, fever-swamped nutcase whackjob website that suddenly probably has white house press credentials, and it's theort of thing that he's going to continue to do until he gets checked on it and until his staff gets checked on it. and i think the resistance to folks like kellyanne conway that's growing with a lot of the media is you can't just govern by lies. you can't just govern by an endless bs tornado every day and hope that people will just nod their head and go, well, at least it's not hillary. so. >> ken, i don't think you can use as many choice adjectives as rick, but what do you make of this? >> well, i think the fixation on the electoral college victory or the size of the popular vote loss, the size of his
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inauguration crowds, you know, the fixation on this idea that there was all this illegal voting, it really offers something of an explanation for why he's found it so difficult to focus on some of the details of governing. i mean, you know, we reported in the story that when these conversations turn to the complexities and the details, he'll often change the subject really quickly or just delegate the detail questions to steve bannon or jared kushner, even house speaker paul ryan. well, it sort of makes sense if he has all this stuff on his mind, all of these grievances that he continues to litigate at every possible opportunity, not just to members of congress, to foreign leaders. he talked to vladimir putin about his electoral victory. >> so, ken, i think that's an interesting point, particularly the way that he doesn't want to sit through some of the acts of governing. so, you're running and you're running and you're running away, but you can't run away from yourself. where does it go? >> i mean, who knows? at this point, we would have thought that he would have already made the shift and that he would have stopped thinking
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about the election and stopped litigating some of these things, but here we are, and i think some of the things that he wants to accomplish are suffering as a result, including the executive orders not being as clearly thought through as they otherwise might have been. it's a cycle where he gets called out on -- you know, he gets called out on this case by a three-judge panel unanimously on the executi order on restricting travel fro the seven predominantly muslim countries. and instead of taking the step back, the instinct kicks in, the sort of fight with the judges over twitter, fight with the media coverage of it. now we're seeing maybe some of his advisers sort of imploring him and him taking their advice to take a step back. but you see where his instinct is, and it's not there. >> ken vogel and rick wilson, thank you both for joining me this friday night. >> thanks, ari. >> thanks, ari. coming up next, tremendous health care at a low price. that is what president trump promised today, and the republican health care would be once the affordable care act is repealed. stay tuned.
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we're also working very much, and this has a lot to do with business on health care, where we can get great health care for our country at a much-reduced price. obamacare, as you know, is a total and complete disaster, so we're going to end up with tremendous health care at a lower price, and i think people are going to be extremely happy.
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difficult process, but once we get going -- and as you know, tom price was just approved a few hours ago, so we finally have our secretary, and now we get down to the final strokes. >> president trump there referring to the new health and human services secretary, tom price. he was sworn in today. president trump betting on price to help speed up those efforts to repeal the affordable care act at a time when republicans in congress are struggling to figure out what comes next. now, some of those congressional republicans facing angry constituents who fear what will happen if the health care law is simply repealed with no other plan. here was the scene at a town hall in utah last night. this was supposed to focus on health care and was hosted by republican congressman jason chaffetz. [ chanting "do your job" ] >> almost like the "arsenio hall
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show." john allen is head of community and content for sidewire and gloria ryan with "the daily beast" and hunter with yahoo! news. erin, there is a question about, oh, what you doing what the tea party did, something else, the resistan resistance? we've been reporting on our show, "the last word with lawrence o'donnell" here, about how the numbers show incredible, historical turnout, that this is as big as you'd go back in several decades. >> right. well, i think it's really tempting to try to create a 1-1 correlation between things that you're seeing now and things that recently happened that are similar to what we're seeing now, but there are some things that are pretty encouraging to democrats in this situation. if you look at what happened in the 2010 elections, not every single person from the tea party who rolled into office that year ended up being a superstar, but if you look at some people who did -- nikki haley, marco rubio, mike lee -- they all had big years in 2010. >> ted cruz. >> yeah, so democrats -- yeah, ted cruz.
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so, if you're looking to the future -- if you're looking to the democratic party for what's going to come next, this is a good sign if you want to believe that there's like activism will lead to people running for office and will lead to a new generation of democrats. >> let's bring in john allen, who is a longtime d.c. insider, and therefore, john, you don't believe in the grassroots and the protest as much as some people. it's just in your nature. >> ouch. >> i want to play for you bernie sanders saying this stuff makes a difference and i want your view on whether in washington people agree. take a listen. >> do you think these protests are going to have any impact, though, on republicans who will, of course, control this repeal and replace? >> do i think? i think it has already had a huge impact. you remember it was just a month or two ago, republicans were, we're going to repeal the affordable care act. we're going to throw millions off of health insurance. we're going to raise prescription drug costs for seniors. we're going to do away with pre-existing conditions.
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we're going to do away with all of that, repeal, repeal, repeal. congress what, you're not hearing that so much anymore. i don't think you'll see them going forward with the repeal of the aca. >> john? >> i've got to say, ari, i wouldn't always say this, but i agree with bernisanders 100%. you've already seen a change here. if you're a republican congressman or a senator from tennessee or alabama or mississippi or georgia, a lot of these trump states where people have been doing, you know, better as a result of the affordable care act, whether they're democrat or republican or independent or even previously unaffiliated and unlikely to vote, people are angry about this. you saw it at the chaffetz thing yesterday. and the tea party groups in 2010, 2009-2010 at those town hall meetings were adopting left-wing disruption tactics. the left wing is going to be a lot better at using those disruption tactics against the republican congressmen than the tea partiers were in adopting them. >> hunter?
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>> the big question here is whether or not conservatives and independents are going to be swayed to kind of join this "resistance" movement. jason chaffetz is in a district that's about 70% republican. and if i had to congress, i'd say most of those people shouting at him at the town hall are from the 30% that are not republicans. and the only thing that will move members of congress is their own poll numbers. and you know, in this country, where half of the people are democrats and half are republicans, we need to see a sort of shift for people to care at all. >> well, and erin, that speaks to the wider point, which is you mentioned some of the tea party folks. some of those were in primaries and there were angry grassroots conservatives willing to challenge their own party. >> right. like rubio. >> do you think that's an important ingredient for progressives here in resistance? >> i think it's a little bit inaccurate to assume the country is even 50/50 democrat and republican with no room to budge. the reality is not every person
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in the country is politically active. there is a lot of room on either side to get people to feel politically active. november 9th to me and to people who kind of watch the left, felt like an awakening. and things that have happened since then have felt like an awakening. so, it is possible, although chaffetz's district is heavily republican, that there were people that were sort of not active that felt goaded into action. >> right. and is it 50/50 or is it 50 and then 50 plus 3 million -- >> 30/30, 15/15. >> did one candidate get more votes than the other. >> right, exactly. >> is it an interesting situation where the person with less votes wins. if we're counting. everybody sit tight. we'll be right back. sarah palin is the next person who might hear "you're hired" by donald trump himself. what if we could stop the next
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questions for the new administration. >> prime minister trudeau's going to be here next week. have discussions on reviewing the canadian part of nafta started? and can you confirm that sarah palin is being considered as ambassador to ottawa? >> what now? but at wednesday's briefing, sean spicer didn't have the answers. >> can you confirm that sarah palin is being considered as ambassador to ottawa? >> so, i will have further updates on the prime minister's schedule either later today or tomorrow. i'm not at a position where i can finalize that, but we will have this. [ inaudible question ] so, we will, with respect to the ambassador, we have no additional ambassador announcements to make on that front. i'm sure at that point, we will have soon -- >> you can almost see the gears
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turning in his head. canada, however, has not slowed its role about the rumors of ambassador palin. outcry already from the opinion pages in the capital's largest newspaper from some canadian politicians and from so many on twitter. the rupert murdoch-owned "ottawa sun" ran this headline, "sarah palin for ambassador to canada? you bet ya!" we know that president trudeau will meet at the white house on monday. as to whether our neighbors to the north can expect ambassador sarah palin, please, stay tuned. coming up, we're going to show you some of that raucous scene at congressman jason chaffetz' town hall in utah and where else voters are demanding republicans hold the trump administration accountable. straight ahead.
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protesters today at a meeting in greensboro, georgia. that was hosted by aides of three republican members of congress. the protesters, of course, chanting "shame" after learning that no questions would even be taken at that event. newly confirmed education secretary betsy devos was also meant with chants of "shame" when she was blocked from entering a school in washington. meanwhile, protesters in cincinnati waited outside the chamber of commerce today for senator rob portman, whose spokesperson said he had to cancel his appearance due to votes in washington. >> he's a coward. he knows that cincinnatians are mad. he knows that we are angry that he sold out our children, and he doesn't want to face us. >> i hope it's the tea party for the left and i hope it's much, much more than that. there is so much going on. >> i've done more in the three weeks since the inauguration than i've done in 72 years.
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>> back with us, john allen, erin gloria ryan, hunter walker. erin, that protester was channeling part of what you're saying. >> yeah. >> there's an electoral conversation in the country, and it is very binary, and there are a lot of people who weren't all that happy with either choice, although as we were mentioning, hillary clinton did get more votes. what does it say to you that we're seeing this level of energy, broadly on the left, though i wouldn't call it solely a democratic party left. >> right. it's like the democratic party as it's established and then to the left of that, for sure. one of the things i've noticed, especially in the last week with warren kind of having a protest within the senate, being rocket shipped to viral fame -- the accessibility of virality makes protesting feel like it could mean more when you set out to do it. so you know, ten years ago you set out to block the education secretary from entering a school on the first day that she's trying to enter a school, it wouldn't necessarily go nationwide immediately, but now
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it's just a second. it's just -- >> yeah, so what do you mean when you say virality? >> the potential for something that you do, a small act to be shared on social media and suddenly be shared a million times. suddenly, you go from just being five people doing something to being a million people looking at five people doing something, and that i think is encouraging to somebody who's a protester who feels like maybe their voice is small and would be drowned out otherwise. >> hunter, how about that? >> well, i think social media's absolutely having an impact. there's no question that we've seen with occupy wall street, black lives matter, sort of more movements gaining steam than we have in the past. but i again think the biggest thing -- you know, members of congress are self-interested, and they don't care necessarily about hashtags. what they care about is their own poll numbers. and the second we see this social media snowball start to impact that, i think we may see them, you know, do things like push for investigations of trump, cross party lines on confirmations and, you know, it will really make a difference. >> but you know, jonathan, i
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mean, that's the whole architecture here, right? i mean, the conservative republican party has had a much longer level of success with a talk radio echo chamber or ecosystem -- pick your term -- and progressives have what they consider some outlets, but nothing like that until you look at what erin was talking about, the kind of explosion on the internet or social media that can create something like that. >> right. there's a complete democratization of information. the platforms are free where you used to have to have the money for the radio network to listen or to put out rush limbaugh or any of the other conservative talkers. now the left has the ability to do that on the internet, on twitter, on facebook, on any other number of media platforms. you know, look, i think a lot of these issues that we're talking about here -- affordable care act, public education -- these are things that are going to energize people who aren't normally part of the process.
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they look and they say my public school system is not going to have a federal department of education that's looking out for it or have somebody in that job who even believes in public education. that is going to energize people. you can remember -- we don't really remember this, but if you look in the history books, jimmy carter, the sort of pta president, where the ptas organi from the teachers' unions organized for him. these are issues that cut across party lines when you really get down into people's lives and them being affected by having health insurance or not having it, by having a strong public school system or not having it, and that's why there's going to be fear on the part of republican lawmakers who walk into auditoriums and see 1,000 people sitting in there, as jason chaffetz did, or if you're diane black, who is in murfreesboro, tennessee, with the state university getting pinned down on the affordable care act and basically said i'm going to pass and not talk about it anymore. these members of congress are going to respond i think before the polls do. they respond to people getting in their face.
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>> you talk about those auditoriums. i want you guys to stay with us, because the next question i want to ask you is what is the role of some of those uncomfortable questions and the pressure it's putting on washington. stay with us. to folks everywhere whose diabetic... ...nerve pain shoots and burns its way into your day... ...i hear you. when that pain makes simple errands simply unbearable... ...i hear you. i hear you because my dad struggled with this pain. make sure your doctor hears you too. so folks, don't wait. step on up. and talk to your doctor. because you have places to go... ...and people who can't wait for you to get there. if you have diabetes and burning, shooting pain in your feet or hands... step on up and talk to your doctor today. i have the worst cold i better take something. .
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last night, republican congressman jason chaffetz got a taste of what it's like to have to answer as a republican for donald trump. >> i will let you know -- too despicable for your 15-year-old daughter -- [ inaudible ] >> i'm proud of the fact that as a republican, when i heard and saw that video, i called it out, and i said that was absolutely wrong. i withdrew my endorsement. i do believe in my heart of hearts, given the choice that was before us, by far, donald trump was the better choice, by far. >> back with me, john, erin and hunter. you know, hunter, you look at
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that, and it's, well, it's past prologue. to some degree, there's still a relitigation of how trump became president there in a republican district. >> and what we just saw there was the town hall attendee referencing jason chaffetz's really extraordinary waffling on his endorsement of trump. after the billy bush video came out, he dropped his endorsement, and i think that lasted about ten seconds before he was back on the trump train. so, i think that one, that's a case where it's really going to stick to him. and that's really interesting, because as head of the oversight committee, he's actually someone who's in a unique position to investigate trump. so, if he's feeling unique pressure, that could get intriguing. >> erin, and it makes you wonder whether some of the republican house members think their constituents have any memory whatsoever. here's justin amash, michigan republican now, again talking about the russia story which we led off with tonight. take a listen.
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>> given the consistency that i'm hearing from members of the committee, the various heads, i think it is likely that there was russian interference in the election. i think further investigation is warranted. >> how you feel about the russians having some influence? >> so, the question is how do i feel about the russians having some influence. not good. >> which is a low bar. >> well, i kind of have two ways of looking at this. one is like the noncynical, regular human being way, and the other way is the sort of cynical reads about this every day kind of a way. >> right. >> the noncynical way is these people are representnd they're trying their best to represent their constituents, and that means sometimes getting yelled at, because everything they do is not going to please every constituent. that's the good human being thing. the cynical half of me thinks that they think that just showing up will prove to the part of the electorate that already loves them how brave they are and keep them motivated
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to show up to the polls and keep them in office, even though all these mean left-wing people are yelling at them. and you've seen kind of in news reports and on twitter today, there's already a new narrative about how nasty the left is and how mean the left is and how they're picking on these poor, helpless congressmen that just are having a town hall. well, and john, there's nothing forcing members of congress to hold any town halls when they're home. >> no, absolutely not. they usually do -- these days they do teletown halls a lot to try not to interact with their voters, but they also know that everyone's watching to see if they pull back from those town halls and instead hang out with a bottle of stolie in their office and just get on the phone with their constituents. i think that these members of congress are smart enough to know that they're better off facing these audiences and doing it. i actually thought chaffetz, though he left a little bit early and he got shouted down a lot actually handled himself the way that you would want to as a member of congress, which is with a smile. >> right. >> and being fairly patient.
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he was actually from my perspective kind of a model and we will see others who don't deal with it as well. >> and he answered questions substantively, which is appreciated. thank you so much for joining us, and thank you for joining me here on "the last word." stay tuned, because an msnbc special event, "chicago in the cross hairs," is up next. finding solutions is more complicated than a president's tweet. >> what's going on in chicago? >> this is an msnbc special town hall event, anything?