tv The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell MSNBC November 11, 2019 10:00pm-11:00pm PST
and capricious manner and the court's going to block him from doing so that might mean a lot in terms of other policies that were treated in the same way. but in humans terms in terms of what happens now for literally hundred of thousands of young people in this country, this supreme court case on daca and the dreamers tomorrow, it's as big as it gets. that hearing is scheduled to start at 10:00 a.m. eastern tomorrow. we're all over it. that does it for us tonight. we will see you again tomorrow. now it's time for "the last word" with lawrence o'donnell. >> i have a cold here. >> you have a little good eveni. i have a bit of a cold. >> you seem to have a little frog in your throat. >> instead of our usual evening chat, i'm not sure how many words i'm actually going to be able to speak tonight, so i'm going to have to save it for the tv show, the actual story stuff we have to do. >> okay. >> good luck. >> so we'll chat tomorrow if i have any voice left. >> i'll drop off some hot cider. >> thank you, rachel, thank you. despite the cold, i am very
excited about tonight's show, not just because of the important impeachment news ground that we have to cover tonight, but because at the end of this hour i am going to be in superfan mode because we are going to be joined by this year's co-winner of the nobel prize in economics whose work is already in the center of the democratic presidential campaign. even if many of the candidates don't realize that. the nobel prize in economics was not established until 1969, and when i became an economics major in college in the 1970s, professors in the economics department at my college won the nobel prize three years in a row, and they were the biggest stars in the world to me. and they still are. and tonight you will meet the second woman in history to win the nobel prize in economics, and she will tell you what you need to know about the most important issues in the presidential campaign that you discuss every day already and
that the candidates discuss every day. and you will be surprised which billionaire agrees with her, at least on some of her research. that is at the end of this hour and you don't want to miss that. but we begin tonight, of course, with impeachment. the ukrainians knew. the ukrainians knew that donald trump was withholding military aid authorized by congress. and the ukrainians knew long before the first public report in politico in late august that that aid was being withheld. that was the single most important point in the transcript released today of laura cooper's deposition testimony to the impeachment investigation of donald j. trump. because that destroys the republican defense that donald trump couldn't possibly have committed extortion if ukraine did not know that donald trump was withholding the aid to ukraine. that is one of the republican talking points that they're
planning to use in the public hearings, talking points that were obtained by axios. we'll have more on that later. that particular defense is now gone because ukraine knew. laura katherine cooper is the deputy assistant secretary of defense for russia, ukraine and eurasia. military aid to ukraine was the the most issue in her jurisdiction at the defense department. she knew the president was withholding military aid and began asking questions about it well before politico first reported it in late august. according to what she had been told by kurt volker, the trump special envoy to ukraine, and the acting ambassador to ukraine, william taylor. quote, i knew from my kurt volker conversation and also from sort of the alarm bells that were coming from ambassador taylor and his team that there .
humanitarian aid were being withheld from ukraine, and at her level, all of the governing professionals like herself were worried that it was illegal. quote, immediately deputies began to raise concerns about how this could be done in a legal fashion, cooper said. the comments in the room at the deputy's level reflected a sense that there was not an understanding of how this could legally play out. laura cooper testified that ukraine had met all of the requirements for u.s. aid before president trump put a hold on that aid in addition to her worries about the legality of the hold, laura cooper was worried about what it meant for ukraine's very survival. quote, if they are seen as weak and if they are seen as lacking the backing of the united states for their armed forces, it makes it much more difficult for them to negotiate a peace on terms that are good for ukraine. mick mulvaney was drawn deeper
into the trump appeasement of russia in another deposition transcript released today of the testimony of catherine croft, a special adviser for ukraine at the state department. catherinc croft testified that a secret hold was placed on ukraine. catherine croft was told in a special budget by mick mulvaney was put on hold to ukraine on javelin missiles because mick mulvaney expressed concerns that, quote, russia would react negatively. that is exactly why those missiles were authorized to be transferred to ukraine, so that the missiles would have a negative impact on russia's policy in the region. catherine croft testified that the office of management and budget was the lone objector to transferring the missiles to ukraine and that all of the policy agencies including the state department and the
national security council supported the transfer. ultimately, mick mulvaney surrendered to all of that pressure and ukraine final received the missiles. christopher anderson's deposition was released today. christopher anderson, a service officer who had been involved in ukraine policy at the state department testified that during a june 13th meeting, john bolton made a joke about every time ukraine is mentioned, giuliani pops up and that the president is listening to giuliani about ukraine. turns out that was not a joke. christopher anderson testified that the acting director to ukraine, quote, repeatedly expressed his concern that giuliani would make his job difficult. christopher anderson testified that he agreed, quote, that if giuliani's narrative took hold that the ukrainian government was an enemy of the president, then it would be very hard to have high-level engagement, it would be harder for us to pressure russia to come back to the negotiating table in that case. as usual, the democrats issued highlights today of the hundreds
of pages of transcripts that they released. those highlights identified by the democrats are all harmful to president trump. the republicans did not release a single page of highlights in any of today's depositions or any of the previous depositions because there are no highlights in these depositions that are helpful to donald trump's defense. republicans were in every one of these depositions. republican jim jordan was in each of the depositions that was released today and he did not make one helpful point to the defense of donald trump in those depositions. there is no evidence in these depositions of why republicans decided to remove one of their members from the intelligence committee so they could give that seat to jim jordan so he would be the star inquisitor for the republicans in the public hearings this week held by the intelligence committee. jim jordan was able to be in the depositions because those depositions allowed three committees to be present, including the oversight and reform committee, and jim jordan is already a member of that
committee. but the public hearings will be for the house intelligence committee only and the republicans' big move, their big move for the defense of the president in the public president in the public hearings was to bring in jim jordan on the same week that jim jordan was once again credibly accused of being aware of a team doctor sexually assaulting members of the ohio state wrestling team when jim jordan was a coach on that team. nbc news reported last week that a lawsuit filed on thursday says that when a person identified in court papers as john doe 42 saw dr. richard strauss master baiting in front of him in a shower at a wrestling match, he reported that directly to jim jordan, who was the assistant coach. yeah, that's strauss, jordan and then head coach russ hellickson replied, according to the lawsuit.
if that claim in that lawsuit were true, then donald trump would not be the first sexual assaulter whom jim jordan has protected. leading off our discussion tonight, john sarbanes of maryland. he's a member of the house oversight committee and has attended several of these impeachment depositions. john heilemann, national affairs analyst for nbc news and executive co-producer of the circus. and evelyn farkas, former obama official and member of the house foreign affairs committee. congressman, i wanted to get your reaction to the revolutions in the depositions today, especially to this point that the ukrainians knew. this aid was being withheld and they knew it long before it became public. >> well, lawrence, thanks for having me on today. i think we were pretty confident just based on the overall testimony that was coming forward over the last few weeks
that it would become clear that the ukrainians were aware of this hold having been placed. now you have a direct corroborating testimony to that, and it puts a lie to the republican defense that somehow the quid pro quo wasn't there because there wasn't ukrainian knowledge that there was a quid pro quo. they knew exactly what was being done to them. it was a breathtaking abuse of power on the part of the administration to tie this security assistance to a promise that they would investigate, the ukrainians would investigate a political rival of the president. that's all becoming clear. it will be much more clear this week, i think, to the broad public when we get the testimony from these three diplomats. these are very professional people. the testimony they delivered in closed session was very compelling, and i think you'll
see that have a real impact in terms of the public to get an opportunity now to hear directly from these witnesses. >> john heilemann, we're going to discuss later this hour what the republicans have planned for the public hearings. >> and it's compelling. >> the big public move is jim jordan moves up to the center spot here in the intelligence committee hearings. >> yes. and, you know, look, it signals as clearly as could be that republicans will not fight this fight on the facts. they will not fight this fight any other way than rhetorically and through demonization of these witnesses and trying to impugn their character, impugn their motives. they think this is a political firefight and they're bringing in one of their political firefighters with a big rhetorical flamethrower to fight the fight. all we've seen, lawrence, over these past weeks is a clear picture of what actually happened here. and i think republicans, as pernicious as they are in many
cases, as pathological in their lies as they are, they're not stupid, and they've recognized i think at this point there is no argument to be made on the merits. the only argument now to be made is going to be, yes, there was a quid pro quo, but it wasn't maybe, like, a totally bad quid pro quo. it's a small kwoerquid pro quo,a big one and all these guys are all terrible people who are testifying against donald trump, and we have an election in 2020, so this isn't enough of a big deal to throw him out of office. that's going to be the argument in the house and senate, i think, which is much more vociferous and much more pernicious, i think, on part of the senate republicans. >> evelyn farkas, there were more depositions released today, and that is the specifics of what the trump administration was up to. another track that's very clear in these depositions is why this is important, why this is not a minor offense that president
trump is accused of here, and there is a lot of talk by these witnesses about just how important this aid was to ukraine, how important it was on a daily basis. >> right. i mean, because this aid was so critical to defending ukraine's sovereignty, they're essentially holding the russians back from launching a bigger offensive. yes, there is ongoing fighting, as laura cooper herself points out in the testimony, but there is always a fear that the russian and the separatists that they back will try to take more territory to put pressure on the new ukrainian president in particular. i think it's really unsettling because it shows you then that the president, president trump putting pressure on the ukrainians, trying to get a bribe from them basically, he's trying to get this bribe, this dirt on biden and this dirt relating to the 2016 elections, right, in order to then release the aid. it's actually a dirty game that the president is playing with them, and it's, again, putting
lives at risk. >> there is a really startling revelation in christian anderson's deposition released today showing donald trump's just constant posture of appeasement -- i'm not sure what else to call it -- towards russia. it comes this way in politico's highlights of this anecdote. it says in one odd anecdote released by anderson, he described a 2019 conversation in which the then national security adviser john bolton revealed trump had called him at his home to complain about a cnn story that made it appear the navy was pushing back against russian aggression in the black sea. we met with ambassador bolton and discussed this, and he made it clear that the president had called him to complain about that news report. and that may have been just been that he was surprised. congressman sarbanes, how surprised were you and other
members of the committee were you when you heard testimony like this? >> i mean, this is astounding, lawrence, if you think about it. the president is protecting russia, it appears to be the case, at the expense of an ally, ukraine. and he's prepared to hold back $400 million of security assistance that that country needs to defend itself against russian aggression because he's more interested in defending russia than defending an ally that the united states congress decided should receive foreign assistance to the tune of $400 million. and if you think about it in terms of these diplomats that are going to be testifying this week, if you look at the record of william taylor, of marie yovanovitch, of george kent, these are diplomats who have spent their whole careers fighting corruption, and their own president is trying to pull
them into a corrupt scheme. and to their credit, i have to say they're raising a red flag, they're pushing back, and they're saying this is not right. and they're doing everything they can -- you can see that from the testimony -- to make sure that that kind of a trade will not happen on their watch. but they're under tremendous pressure. i think when the public sees and hears the testimony from these professionals, they will see that these are folks that are playing it straight, that wanted to represent the interests of the united states, not the interests of russia or anybody else, the interests of the united states, and that's why we can have such confidence in the testimony they're going to be delivering. >> and, evelyn, that's going to be one of the challenges in the committee's presentation publicly, is to get that balance right between the specifics of what's being -- what the president's being accuse of here and the reason why it's important, which is what
congressman sarbanes was just talking about and what so many of the witnesses are talking about, and that is ukraine policy, which may be a more challenging thing to make clear to the public. >> well, i think, lawrence, the way to actually do it is to focus on russia policy. the opposite of pushing back on russia in the black sea is surrendering to russia in the black sea, right? that's not in u.s. national security interests, it's not in the security interests of our neighbors -- sorry, of the neighbors there, so turkey, for example, a nato ally. a problematic one, but still. it's not in the interest of freedom of navigation. if you surrender to russia in any of these items, you will see russia pushing further. and that's not in the u.s. national security interest, because russia has violated international law. they have broken the taboo on changing borders using military force. there are other leaders in other countries who would like to do the same starting in europe. so, again, it is in the national security interests of the united states to stop russia so that we
don't have other wars breaking out. >> john? >> i just -- i tell you with due respect to congressman sarbanes and with respect to politico, politico says it's an odd anecdote and the congressman says it's astounding. it's appalling. it's astounding and it's not odd because there was not any time in donald trump's administration where he's ever not acted in the interests of russia. he often defends russia. this is the pattern. the pattern in in circumspect, of course he was upset about pushing back against russia in the black sea. donald trump has been acting in russia's interest in every crucial respect. mehta, macro, micro. across the three years, it's the least surprising thing in the world. it's disgusting but it's not astounding. >> congressman sarbanes, you've been invoked. a quick last word. i think we might have a semantic disagreement here. go ahead, congressman. >> well, look, i certainly agree with john on that, that it is
disgusting, but he's not just acting in russia's interest, he's always acting in donald trump's personal political interests, and that's why this is an abuse of his power. it's an abuse of his oath of office. he gets up every morning and he's not thinking about the 350 million americans whose interests he should represent, he's thinking about his own personal political gain. this is just another example of that. the witnesses this week are going to show that's what's going on. congressman john sarbanes, evelyn farkas, thank you for starting this off with us. john heilemann is going to stick around. up next, what is rick perry and john bolton up to? and the list of the impeachment inquiry witnesses was submitted over the weekend. it's not going to fly. and there are planned tactics in the public hearings this week. what is john bolton up to about the republican planned tactics in the public hearings
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what is john bolton up to and what is mick mulvaney up to? mick mulvaney tried to join a lawsuit brought by john bolton. and another subpoenaed witness to the impeachment investigation. the bolton lawsuit is unnecessary and it's trying to ask the judge whether john bolton should answer to a subpoena or should he take donald trump's advice not to
testify. he is beyond the control of the president of the united states and there is no legal reason for him to evade that subpoena. mick mulvaney dropped his legal attempt today to join the bolton lawsuit after bolton objected to mick mulvaney joining his lawsuit. mick mulvaney will now have his own lawsuit asking the same question of the judge. in both cases these are delaying tactics designed to slow down the impeachment investigation, but chairman adam schiff says the committee will not engage in a months-long legal pursuit to enforce the congressional subpoenas of these witnesses. but the investigation will take a negative inference from mick mulvaney's refusal to testify on the assumption that if mick mulvaney had something helpful to say about donald trump, anything helpful to say about donald trump, he would testify. and, therefore, his refusal to testify can be taken as a negative inference against president trump. the first news reports of john
bolton's memorable -- john bolton's inevitable book appeared this weekend. viewers of this program knew that john bolton was working on a book deal the day he left the trump white house since i announced it here on this program that night because it was wicked obvious. reports indicate that john bolton is getting a $2 million advance for his book from simon & shuster. in order to get a book advance like that, the author has to tell the publisher what the publisher is paying for, what the publisher is getting. therefore, there are people at simon & shuster tonight in midtown manhattan who already know what john bolton is refusing to tell the impeachment investigation. joining us for a discussion now is chris lu who served as a senior aide to president obama. before that he was chief counsel over the oversight committee.
john heilemann is back with us. i have a congressional subpoena. i'm going to go bring a lawsuit to ask a judge what i do with it. >> i think it's fair to say none of this is on the level, lawrence. this is a case of mick mulvaney wanting to avoid being held in contempt of congress, wanting to delay the proceedings but only willing to abide by the court's ruling if it goes in his favor. what he's doing, really, is trying to eviscerate congressional oversight. during my eight years on the house oversight committee, part of it was during the clinton administration. we took depositions of senior clinton administration aides. when i managed president obama's candidate, hillary clinton testified about benghazi. so this idea that white house aides never testify is completely at odds with precedent. if it's taken to its logical
extreme, it simply wipes out congress' ability to do any kind of oversight. and let's not forget the most important point, if there is any kind of privilege here, mick mulvaney already waived it. you'll recall he stood up in that press briefing room and he admitted there was quid pro quo. you pointed out if he had something good to say, he would be out there saying it right now. >> john heilemann, as we know, $2 million book advance for john bolton means he's telling people, book agent, book editors, pitching the material that he's refusing to tell the congress. >> yes, and i think it's likely that you and i know some of these people. >> yeah. >> if we went out with the proper implements we could probably extract this information from them if we were hard-hitting enough about it. i think the question from bolton is a tricky one. what if we assume, if all the following is true, based on some of the testimony today it does seem bolton was with these people, these professionals, who looked at this and said this is likely illegal. it looks like bolton weighed in at various points to ultimately get that aid released. we all have views about john bolton, but it seems in this case he recognized the illegal
peril in place here and tried to get out of testifying if only to save his own skin. now the question is, what is his in his economic best interest? and there's two competing things here. being a hero in this case is probably in his economic interest in terms of selling books. a public thought john bolton did the right thing telling that story to sell a lot of books. unfortunately, becoming a hero in the story requires him to testify and if he testifies he gives away some of the stuff that would be the news in the book. so he's got a very tricky thing to figure out here. how do you figure out a way to land this plane that drives the most interest, gives away some of the information but not all so the book is not drained of all its testimony. >> the book, chris, quite predictably, the first night when he left the white house, is scheduled for publication before the presidential election. because, of course, if donald trump were to lose, the book value collapses right away. but -- and so does a book like this have to get cleared the way
james comey's book had to get cleared because he worked with the fbi? since bolton works on national security issues, is there a clearance process for that and can the trump administration simply refuse to clear him? >> well, lawrence, there's actually two issues. one is is the clearance issue if there's classified information or might implicate classified information that's in there. the other important thing is you'll recall, all trump officials apparently signed a nondisclosure confidentiality agreement which trump has selectively enforced or tried to enforce against some of his former aides, including this anonymous book that just came out. it will be interesting to see how this all plays out. i'm sure john bolton probably recognizes on the nondisclosure agreement, that's not enforceable. it's never been enforceable on anybody, and he's probably a smart enough guy to understand what is classified and not classified and will probably state it in broad outlines. >> when the book deal is introduced in court in the bolton lawsuit, i'm sure the
judge is going to have even more reluctance to take the bolton case seriously. >> yes, i think that's probably right. and, look, i think one of the things that chris says -- we are all under the impression that people sign these ndas. it has been claimed. certainly at the beginning of the administration trump tried to get everyone to sign. i'm not sure everyone did sign and bolton came relatively late to the administration, so it's not clear if they were as rigorous about trying to get everyone to sign those ndas and i'm certain that john bolton knows it's the most unenforceable paperwork in the history of the world. so that i think is meaningless. the other one is a question for him in terms of the white house screening issue on classified information. we're going to have to break it there. chris lu and john heilemann, thank you both for joining us. when we come back, republican chaos. that is what is planned for the public impeachment hearings, outright jim jordan-led chaos. and later it's been the billionaires versus elizabeth warren, and those billionaires are worried about what she wants to do with taxation and other issues.
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submitted the list of witnesses they would like to call in the public impeachment hearings, and that list shows us that they are not at all serious about actually investigating the accusations against president trump. almost all of the witnesses that they want which include hunter biden and the whistle-blower are not relevant to the impeachment inquiry, and so they will not be allowed to testify by chairman schiff, which will be supported by a majority vote of the committee. three of the witnesses requested by the republicans have already testified in depositions, so there is a chance those witnesses will be allowed to testify publicly. house intelligence committee
chairman adam schiff responded to the republicans' request saying they were consider republican requests but added the impeachment inquiry and the committee will not serve as vehicles for individuals to carry out the same sham investigations into the bidens or the debunked conspiracy theories about the 2016 presidential election that president trump -- to conduct for his personal political benefit. he threatened to retaliate against the whistleblower. he also made clear that the impeachment investigation yielded growing evidence that renders the whistleblower's testimony, quote, redundant and unnecessary and would only place their personal safety at grave risk. axios is reporting tonight that house republicans on the impeachment inquiry have settled on four talking points that they will use to undermine the democrats' arguments that the president should be impeached, according to a staff memo
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defy the laws of human nature. at the season of audi sales event. tonight a memo obtained by axios shows the four talking points that republicans say they're going to use in their defense of donald trump in the public hearings. the july 25th call summary, the best evidence of the conversation, shows no conditionality or evidence of pressure. president zelensky and president trump have both said there was no pressure on the call. the ukrainian government was not aware of a hold on u.s. security assistance at the time of the july 25th call. too bad that's already been proven untrue. and president trump met with president zelensky and u.s. security assistance flowed to ukraine in september 2019, both of which occurred without ukraine investigating president trump's political rivals. joining us now is david jolly, a
former republican member of congress from florida. he's an msnbc political analyst. david, are you surprised by your former colleagues' approach to the public hearing according to the memo tonight? >> i am not, nor am i surprised it's largely inaccurate. because as you mentioned, lawrence, all the corroborating witnesses suggest there was this scheme and that ukraine was aware of it. even to the extent of diplomatic personnel drafting statements for zelensky to read. what is interesting in this, though, is each of their four arguments seems to play into a broader theme that they're going to argue there was no quid pro quo. and that's an inflection point for democrats to have to make a strategic decision, because i would make the case no quid pro quo was required. it certainly didn't need to be felt by ukraine, but the act of asking ukraine to investigate the bidens in and of itself even without quid pro quo was
impeachable behavior by the president of the united states. the republicans' four arguments are all trying to undermine a quid pro quo argument. corroborating evidence will overcome it, but democrats have to make a decision. do they require quid pro quo to move an impeachment article or not? >> yeah, it's so clear that it's the solicitation that is the violation. >> that's right. >> and that's all you need is the solicitation, and the solicitation doesn't have to be rewarded with action by the other side you've solicited from. >> that's right. >> it's all right there in solicitation. but this is one of those arguments where the -- it sounds to me, david, like the republicans are just going to keep saying the thing, whatever that thing is, and they don't care whether it's true or not and they don't care whether it's just been refuted by a witness. they just need to say it so that's the piece of video that fox news can use. >> lawrence, neither the facts nor the founders are on the republican side in this impeachment inquiry. we know that we will hear on wednesday there was a quid pro
quo, that rudy giuliani was a personal representative of the president, not a diplomatic representative of the state department, and we will learn that there was a direct line to the west wing, to mick mulvaney and donald trump from ambassador sondland. they were worried there would be interference with the election. this is exactly the presidency that the founders feared, and so what we will hear from republicans is not an argument about the fact or about the founders' view of impeachment, it will be geared toward a republican re-election strategy in 2020, this grievance politics that republicans are victims. this will be about keeping their base and ensuring there is no erosion of republican voters in 2020. >> and, david, i expect we're going to see all kinds of parliament disruption, mr. chairman interruptions, objecting to questions, every
little thing they can think of. they're going to turn this into as much of a circus as they can. david jolly, thank you so much for joining us. we're going to have to have you back once we see how they do handle themselves in that hearing room. when we come back, it's bill gates versus elizabeth warren, but don't mistake bill gates as one of the billionaires afraid of elizabeth warren's policy decisions. that's next. struggling actor, i need all the breaks that i can get. at liberty butchumal- cut. 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. ♪ liberty. liberty. liberty. liberty. ♪ well i didn't choose metastatic breast cancer.
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campaign where it seems every other day another billionaire is given a public microphone to express outrage at elizabeth warren's proposed wealth tax and just generally express billionaire terror about a possible elizabeth warren presidency. last week bill gates said something that in the fractured quote world of twitter made him appear to be just another billionaire afraid of elizabeth warren. >> you know, i've paid over 10 billion in taxes, i paid more than anyone in taxes, but -- you know, i'm glad -- if i had to pay 20 billion, it's fine. but, you know, when you say i should pay 100 billion, then i'm starting to do a little math about what i have left over. sorry, i'm just kidding. >> he said he was kidding, but many people believe that he was really worried about having to pay $100 billion in wealth
taxes. so elizabeth warren took that opportunity to send him a tweet saying, i'd love to explain exactly how much you would pay under my wealth tax. i promise it's not 100 billion. to which bill gates said, i greatly respect your commitment to finding ways to address wealth and equality and poverty at home. while we may disagree about some of the ways to get there, we certainly agree we need a lot of smart people committed to finding the path forward. i'm always willing to talk about creative solutions to these problems. bill gates and elizabeth warren agree much more than they disagree. you just heard bill gates say that if you want to double his taxes, he's cool with that. and that makes bill gates more progressive on income taxation than most of the democrats running for president. bill gates stays out of politics as much as humanly possible. he doesn't endorse candidates, he hasn't created some giant superpac with all his wealth, but he did make it very clear in
that interview last week, brilliantly conducted by andrew ross sorkin, that he would vote for elizabeth warren against donald trump if that's who is on the ballot next year. he made that clear when he was asked that specific question. bill gates didn't name names, but he said the thing that he would value most in a candidate is what he called a professional approach to the presidency. the audience started to laugh, because obviously donald trump has the least professional approach to the presidency in history, and everyone in the room knew that bill gates was saying, in effect, that he would vote for the democrat no matter who it is. bill gates is one of the few billionaires who agrees with our next guest that billionaires are undertaxed. esther duflo is this year's co-winner of the nobel prize in economics and she won that prize by putting economic theory aside and studying the way people make real economic decisions in real life.
people like bill gates and people living in poverty around the world. and what she found contradicts most of what you have heard from politicians about real world economics and her findings should be heard in the presidential campaign. esther duflo is the second woman in history to win the nobel prize in economics, and she joins us next. - [narrator] meet the ninja foodi air fry oven. make family-sized meals fast, and because it's a ninja foodi, it can do things no other oven can, like flip away. the ninja foodi air fry oven, the oven that crisps and flips away. and my lack of impulse control,,
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the noble prize in economics was an afterthought. the first noble prizes were established in 1895. 74 years, a noble prize in economics was added to the mix in 1969, and in the 50 years since then only won woman had won a noble prize in kplieconom and now there are two. this yearest ester duflo is the co-winner for her study in how economics works in real people's lives and how that knowledge can be used to improve the economic lives of more people no place in an echo of esther duflo -- >> we can raise taxes in a lot
of ways, including, you know, making gifts to foundations more taxed. we have a lot of room. the current thing is not in terms of encouraging philanthropist or discouraging in forming a business. we're not close to the business. i mean, there was a time where we had 70% taxation rates. >> joining us now is mit economics professor, esther duflo, the co-winner of the noble prize in economics. her new book is "good economics for hard times" co-authored with her husband, who is also the co-winner of this year's noble prize in economics. thank you very much for joining us tonight. really appreciate it. >> thank you so much. >> it must have been so exciting for you and your husband, first husband/wife team in history to get the noble prize in economics. getting that phone call when you
suddenly discover you were the nobel prize winners? >> yes, it was pretty incredible to be woken up at 5:00 a.m. >> you have no hint it's coming. people don't know how the nobel works. >> no hint whatsoever. >> there are no nominee. let's go to what bill gates just said because it's one of the central elements of your book. the republican argument is, of course, you must not tax anyone more than we're taxing them. if you tax these rich executives more they'll just work less. it will be a disincentive to work if we tax them at the highest level. there's bill gates. there's no one who's worked harder than him who said, no, no, no, there is much more room to tax us at the highest end. >> there certainly is, and if we taxed the rich more, they would work just as hard. think about football players. in many cases there are caps on their salaries and that doesn't stop them from trying to win. >> you compare -- and that's what's so fascinating about this. this is not just yourm opinion
from observing the world. you'll actually looked at salary caps on professional athletic teams in the united states versus europe where there are no salary caps, and you don't see any effort difference in the salary capped players versus the players that don't have any salary caps at all. >> no, of course not because winning is everything. and it's the same thing amongst ceos. all they want to do is be richer than their friend ceos. the level doesn't matter, what matters is the rank. >> this incentive issue is what you're finding throughout your research. incentives in classic economical theory don't work in the real world we may think they do. for example, the argument about welfare disincentivizing people. they won't try to work if you give them welfare. what did you find about that? >> similarly, the poor also don't stop working if there are no incentives for them to work. that's also an illusion when,
for example, welfare becomes more generous, people don't stop working. it's been demonstrated in country after country. poor countries, rich countries, middle income countries, the poor are not discouraged from working. in fact, we've known that from the late '60s and '70s in the u.s. where there were the so-called negative tax income experiment that actually gave money to the poor people and taxed it away at a rate of 50% and it had no discouraging effect on their work. it's actually a little secret that we have sort of kempt hidden. >> and also, again, what's so important about this work is you go into the field. you do real experiments to find out really how real things work, and you've looked at immigration, and you tell us in this book a very different story about what immigration in the united states is doing economically. >> there are two big misconceptions about immigration. the first one is that the
floodgates are just waiting to be opened and if immigration was more liberal everybody would want to come to this country because they live in poorer country than we do. and the second misconception is if that happened then the native workers, the poor workers in the u.s. would be poorer. in fact, there is a huge lit literature that shows neither of these are true. first of all, the migration flows are quite low even when there is no barrier. for example, in europe when there was a big crisis in greece, people mostly stayed in greece. so it's not that people are waiting for an opportunity to jump and come. people only come when they are desperate or they are super enterprising and really want to make a better life for themselves. in which case we should want to have them here because they'll contribute to the economy and be entrepreneurs, et cetera. the second misconception is that if a lot of low-skill workers come they will take away the wages from the people here in
this country, and that also happens to be not true. people have looked at the influx of cuban refugees in miami or when they kicked out many migrant workers from california in the '60s. there are dozens of examples like that that show migrants do not take away wages from native workers and this is something that people do not know. >> you also mentioned in here something -- a new fact that i wasn't aware of, is that our internal migration rates have dropped dramatically. america used to be a place where people -- we had a very high rate of people moving from place to place within the country, generally to where the jobs are. and now when jobs get wiped out in a particular location, people are not moveing the way they used to, which by the way is what classical economic theory always said they would do. they'll just move to find a job. what if they don't and that's what you're finding. >> yes, that's actually a very
important presumption both for economists and perhaps for politicians. people would lose. if i lose my job making furniture in north carolina, i can move to new york to sell furniture. but, in fact, that's not true. the rate of mobility are very low. they are about half what they were in 1948. >> we're going to have to leave it there. esther duflo, congratulations on the nobel. it's an honor to have you here. really appreciate it. this is a very important book. "good economics for hard times." this book belongs at the center of the presidential campaign. that is tonight's last word. "the 11th hour" with brian williams starts now.