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Lawrence O’Donnell: If Anyone Can ‘Shake The Trump Base,' It’s James Mattis

Lawrence O’Donnell explained why former Secretary of Defense Gen. James Mattis’ blistering criticism of Donald Trump means so much, yet probably won’t be enough to turn Cult 45 against him.

Lawrence O’Donnell explained why former Secretary of Defense Gen. James Mattis’ blistering criticism of Donald Trump means so much, yet probably won’t be enough to turn Cult 45 against him.

Host Joy Reid opened the discussion with yesterday’s Lincoln Project ad highlighting Mattis’ denunciation of Trump and asking, “Who do you trust? The coward or the commander?” She also noted that other generals are criticizing Trump, including his former chief of staff John Kelly.

O’Donnell and Reid reminded us that Kelly is no hero, especially regarding his smears of Rep. Frederica Wilson. O’Donnell said that he has been expecting, since “the end of the first week of the Trump administration” that former Trump officials will at some point publicly turn against Trump. They will claim, O’Donnell said, “Thank God I was there every day because I was preventing him from doing many, many, many worse things.”

O'DONNELL: I think that's going to be John Kelly's claim for the rest of his life. And we will leave it to people to make their own decisions about how much of that they want to believe or credit to him because as you say, we're still awaiting John Kelly's apology to Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, where he lied about her, told racist lies about her, deliberately racist lies about her from the racist Trump White House.

Mattis, on the other hand, is speaking with powerful moral authority that could and should make a difference;

O’DONNELL: James Mattis took almost a kind of a public, quasi-religious vow to never, never say anything about the president he served as defense secretary. And he made this claim when his book came out that it was the only honorable way for him to proceed. And so, it took a lot. It took everything we've seen in the last 3 1/2 years for General Mattis to come out and when he did come out, he didn't limit himself to just the last seven days of events. He didn't limit himself to the disgrace that Donald Trump brought upon the chairman of the joint chiefs, the defense secretary when they walked out and commandeered a church where they were not welcome for a photo op.

General Mattis, it's important to point out in what he wrote, kept referring to 3 1/2 years of no mature leadership. So General Mattis is saying it's every day. It's every single day of the Trump presidency.

And we've always wondered, can anyone, can anyone shake the Trump base by turning against Trump? And I would say probably no one can. But if anyone can, it would be a James Mattis, it would be the kind of generals who are coming out this week with tremendous emphasis: Admiral Mullen, former chair of the joint chiefs. They're just piling up.

But remember, remember, these Trump voters had absolutely no problem, no problem with Donald Trump saying very early in the campaign that he doesn't like people -- doesn't like soldiers who get captured, like John McCain. And of course, the logic of that is, if you don't like soldiers who get captured, you must really hate soldiers who get killed because that, in Trump world, would be an even bigger failure than getting captured. And every single Trump voter on Election Day said, you know what? That's perfectly okay with me, I like the rest of the package.

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