The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 7/1/2016

Guests:
Asif Islam, Karen Tumulty
Transcript:

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: July 1, 2016
Guest: Asif Islam, Karen Tumulty

CHRIS HAYES, “ALL IN” HOST: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now with
Joy Reid, in for Rachel.

Good evening, Joy.

JOY REID, MSNBC GUEST HOST: How are you, Chris?

And since when did being an unprincipled scoundrel disqualified someone
from higher office? I don`t get it.

HAYES: Sometimes it`s the best out there.

REID: I believe it is. Thank you very much. Really appreciate it. Happy
Fourth. All right, Chris.

Thank you and thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.

I`m Joy Reid filling in for Rachel who has a well-deserved night off
tonight.

We have a very busy Friday for the Friday before the Fourth of July
holiday. Usually days like this are what you called slow news days, no
particularly big news. Well, not today.

So, we`re going to begin by covering a lot of news tonight, including a
conversation “The Washington Post” Jonathan Capehart who just interviewed
Attorney General Loretta Lynch about the Hillary Clinton private email
server probe and her conversation with President Bill Clinton aboard her
private plane at a Phoenix airport earlier this week.

There`s also new news tonight about who Donald Trump could pick as his vice
presidential running mate. As you may already know, my bid is with Newt
Gingrich, but there are other people in the mix, and we have more on that
tonight.

Also, there`s some big movement on guns from a state that has led the
country on lots of issues. This is a state that`s getting it done when
Washington is most decidedly not.

But first, we begin with the ongoing hostage situation in Dhaka, the
capital of Bangladesh. It`s 7:00 in the morning there, the sun is rising
there, and the situation is still fluid and ongoing.

It started this morning, about ten hours ago, at about 9:20 p.m. local
time, which is 11:20 a.m. Eastern Time. Several gunmen stormed a cafe in
the capital`s diplomatic zone. The cafe is called Holey Artisan bakery in
the Gulshan neighborhood. It`s an area filled with embassies and
consulates.

The cafe is particularly popular with Westerners, with expats and with
diplomats. Between eight and ten armed attackers charged into the
restaurant, they set of explosives and proceeded to take a number of
hostages. We`re hearing there are something like 40 hostages inside, but
that is not a number that we can confirm at this hour.

So far, we know that at least two police officers were killed during the
stand-off with attackers. We also understand that another 26 people were
wounded by the explosions that were set off and the shrapnel. Six of whom
are in critical condition.

Late this afternoon, hours after the attack started, the ISIS news agency
claimed that ISIS commandos are responsible for the ongoing hostage stand-
off. The hostage situation is in its tenth hour as we speak. The
situation, as we said, is live, is very much unfolding.

Armed paramilitary officers from Bangladesh have surrounded the restaurant
and are working on negotiating the release of the hostages. There had not
been any attempts to do a forced rescue yet. And in terms of Americans on
the ground, the U.S. State Department has alerted U.S. citizens in
Bangladesh to shelter in place.

The State Department is saying they`ve accounted for 100 percent of U.S.
service members, but they`re still trying to account for all the private
U.S. citizens in Bangladesh. We know that ISIS has claimed responsibility
for this ongoing attack in Bangladesh, and presumably because they are
ISIS, their goal is to grab the attention of the world media with a
spectacular attack, which grabs the global media attention as they`re
getting now, and to terrorize the world.

So, in that sense, the attack has already been a huge success for them.
But Bangladesh is a country where 90 percent of the people are Muslim. And
it`s recently seen a huge upsurge in ISIS-related violence. In fact, just
this morning, ISIS claimed responsibility for the hacking death of a Hindu
priest in Dhaka. Three men with machetes attacked and killed a priest as
he was preparing for morning prayers.

There was another one, another hacking of a Hindu priest three weeks ago.
He was riding his bike and was attacked by three men on a motorcycle. ISIS
claimed responsibility. Two days after that, it was a Christian man
leaving church, he was murdered on the street. ISIS again claimed
responsibility.

At the end of April, ISIS hacked to death a Hindu tailor. A week before
that, it was a university professor, who was teaching English. He made his
way to school when he was hacked and nearly beheaded. ISIS again claimed
responsibility and that was just this year.

In November of last year, gunmen opened fire in a mosque in northern
Bangladesh, killing one and injuring three evening prayers. ISIS was
behind it. Last year in October, a Japan man shot three times riding a
rickshaw. ISIS claimed responsibility for that too.

In September 2015, ISIS also claimed responsibility for the shooting death
of an Italian aide worker in Dhaka. He was jogging through the capital`s
diplomatic quarter. In fact, immediately after the two attacks in
Bangladesh, the U.S. embassy stopped permitting its personnel and their
families to be in public places until things cooled down, for fear of
another ISIS attack.

Since last September, there have been 19 ISIS-related attacks in
Bangladesh. So tonight, the Friday before the Fourth of July, we have yet
another attack that ISIS has claimed responsibility for, except this attack
is ongoing. What we do know, there are dozens of people holed up in that
restaurant at the mercy of armed attackers, what are being described as
ISIS commandos.

We also know that this comes at the end of a week that started with an ISIS
attack on the third largest airport in Europe, the suicide bombing attack
on the Ataturk airport in Istanbul, Turkey, killing more than 40 people and
injuring nearly 240. And it also comes on the heels of another spectacular
style attack on the pulse nightclub, that left 49 people dead and 53
wounded. The worst mass shooting in U.S. history.

Now, all of those attacks happened during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan,
during which ISIS called for more spectacular style attacks meant to
terrorize. Today is the last Friday before the end of Ramadan, and it ends
the day after the July 4th holiday on Tuesday evening.

Joining us now from Bangladesh is Asif Islam, planning editor at the “Dhaka
Tribune”.

And, Mr. Islam, I know it`s been a long night for you. Just after 7:00
a.m. local time.

So, thank you for joining us. Give us the latest on what`s going on where
you are.

ASIF ISLAM, DHAKA, BANGLADESH (via telephone): Thank you.

The situation is at the moment a bit unclear. There are some activities.
There was a lull between midnight and about 3:00 a.m. it was very quiet,
not much happening.

Around 3:53, we heard – we were told that three shots rang out and members
of the battalion pulled somebody out of the area, and we`re told that he is
a suspect and maybe one of the hostage-takers. Since then, a lot has
happened.

About an hour ago, an adviser to the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, his name
(INAUDIBLE) was quoted by “Reuters” as saying that, in fact, security
forces have been negotiating with they`re hoping to bring an end to this
crisis. Around the same time, about an hour ago, police on site, announced
on microphones, that everyone who is not a security personnel, had to clear
the site, and law enforcement, police officers, would have to put on
bulletproof vests.

About 6:15, so maybe 45 minutes ago, the director of the battalion here
said that they were ready to begin a drive, which means that they want to
perhaps – but we`re still not sure whether they will do that, whether the
negotiations failed, and what the timeline might be.

REID: And so, if there are potentially plans to breach that compound, do
you have any sense from security forces of how many people they believe are
inside and whether there are injuries inside that building or people who
might be under even sort of more threat in a breach were to occur?

ISLAM: Sure. I`m sorry to say that we don`t know for sure. We`ve been at
some distance from the actual site. So we`re not actually sure what the
situation is inside the compound. We don`t know how many people may be
injured. We`re not even sure exactly how many people are being held
hostage.

We understand that from an earlier eyewitness who managed to escape, he
said about 20 people, many of them foreigners. In fact, he said mostly
foreigners, were being held inside. But we haven`t been able to confirm
that.

REID: OK. Thank you very much, Asif Islam, planning editor at the “Dhaka
Tribune” in Bangladesh – thank you for your time. Appreciate it.

And joining me now is Ayman Mohyeldin, who is the NBC News foreign
correspondent, and Malcolm Nance, a former U.S. counterterrorism and
intelligence officer and the author of “Defeating ISIS”.

Ayman, I`m going to start with you on this. First of all, the significance
of this attack coming so soon after the Ataturk Airport attack, and coming
toward the end of Ramadan. What do you think the significance of this?

AYMAN MOHYELDIN, NBC NEWS FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the significance of
the first part of that question, coming on the heels of the Ataturk attack,
it shows that the frequency of these attacks seems to be accelerating. The
reach of ISIS, whether it`s inspiring radical individuals like the case of
Orlando, whether it`s demonstrating its ability to infiltrate countries
like Turkey, or whether it`s capable of organizing and creating an organic
organization within Bangladesh to carry out this attack, demonstrates that
the organization has multi facets to it, certainly layers of complexity to
it.

The ability to cascade these attacks one after the other so quickly is
going to be a major concern for law enforcement officials, because it`s not
yet clear obviously, you know, if the folks in Bangladesh who saw this
attack were inspired by what they saw in Ataturk and decided to go ahead
and carry out this attack. But it also fits the profile of what ISIS has
been calling for, the second part of your question, that is they want to
see more attacks during the month of Ramadan, as you mentioned, we`re
getting to the end of that month.

So, this has been a call they`ve put out for all of their followers and it
certainly seems, whether they`re individuals or affiliates or participants,
they are heeding those calls.

REID: Malcolm, the last two attacks we`ve seen, attacks on sections of
either the airport or here in this international zone in Bangladesh, that
in theory would target foreign nationals, but they`re also attacks that by
their nature, wind up killing lots of Muslims.

How does ISIS square in their propaganda this idea of launching attacks
that by definition are going to kill lots of Muslims during Ramadan?

MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST: They don`t square this at all.
This ISIS doctrine over the last two years, and it`s a relatively new
doctrine of attacking during the holy month of Ramadan, which is a period
of reflection and devotion to God, which is why you fast during the day and
then you socialize at night with your family and friends, this is
completely un-Islamic.

However, for them and their crews around the world – you know, I believe
Ayman is right about one component in this. I think what`s happening, they
are inspiring each other, and these teams have been planning for some
periods of months, they`d heeded the call from al-Adnani, to do something
during Ramadan, and they have this belief that the last ten days of
Ramadan, which are the holiest period, are when they should kill more
people.

They don`t view Muslims at all at somebody that is exempt from their
terrorist attacks. They are attacking Western facilities and so is al
Qaeda throughout sub-Saharan Africa, but killing Muslims is on their book
as a part of their cult belief.

REID: And to what extent now, Ayman, is the secondary sort of goal of
these attacks to sort of warn away Western governments to cooperate in what
has been an increasing military campaign with some success against ISIS,
including not only by Western governments but by Iraq?

MOHYELDIN: Yes. I mean, in these different attacks, you`re seeing
different motivation. So, for example, Bangladesh is hardly a participant
in a country like Syria or Iraq. They`re a non-player on the geopolitical
level. They`re not going after ISIS like for example Turkey or France or
even the United States.

So there would be hard-pressed reason to think, why would they go after
Bangladesh? But the truth of the matter is, Bangladesh is the fourth or
fifth largest Muslim country in the world, about 150 million people. It`s
also a close neighbor of India. And there`s a historic rivalry between
Pakistan, where extremists have existed for a long time like al Qaeda,
fighting against Pakistan, and even in Bangladesh, trying to get a foothold
in that country to once again build up a part of the Islamic State.

The reason why I say that is, the vision of the Islamic State is to create
a worldwide caliphate and their intention is to anywhere they can get their
foot on territory, on soil and build a state or a province, part of the
larger Islamic State, they can do that. So, they`re looking at countries
with vulnerability, instability, poverty, a weak government, and they can
attack that government, and they`ve put Bangladesh in their sights for some
time.

In their last publication, in November of 2015, “Dabiq`s” magazine, which
is their online propaganda magazine, had a section dedicated to putting a
foothold in Bangladesh to stepping up attacks there. So they`ve had
Bangladesh in their sights for several months now.

REID: And, Malcolm, I`m wondering to what extent this signals weakness on
the part of ISIS in the place they have used as their stronghold, because
that`s where western allies have been hitting them, in Syria.

Does this signal on their part strength or does it signal a weakness in the
place where they`re based?

NANCE: Really, we have been predicting in the intelligence community for
some time that as is central headquarters in Raqqah, northern Iraq, western
Iraq, starts to come under increased pressure, that the caliphate will
start to collapse. And we`re seeing signs of that.

As a matter of fact, there`s a new intelligence estimate that there are
only 12,500 foreign fighters left within the caliphate central alone, and
they`re being attacked from four different directions on the compass head.

So, as their caliphate collapse, they`re shifting to a new phase. I call
it the ghost caliphate, where they`re moving out and branching out to more
ideological-based fighters. As a matter of fact, their future warrior,
their best example will be the kind of person who carries out an attack in
San Bernardino or Orlando. These organized terrorist cell attacks like
we`re seeing today is an example of where they have flexibility and where
they can safely create a covert operational cell.

But for the rest of the world, they fully intend to just have inspired
people come up and start killing us wherever they find us.

REID: Yes, that is what people are most afraid of. Ayman Mohyeldin, NBC
News foreign correspondent, and Malcolm Nance, author of “Defeating ISIS” -
- thank you both for being here. Appreciate it.

And we`ll continue to monitor the situation in Bangladesh and let you know
if anything changes this hour.

But there are also lots of political stories to get to tonight and that is
next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: At the very same time we were learning about the situation unfolding
in Bangladesh, Donald Trump was speaking to about 3,000 people gathered for
the Western Conservative Summit in Denver, Colorado. It was a speech that
has largely been characterized as a prompter-free, primary-style Trump
approach. Therefore, there was naturally a weird, off-the-cuff moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: If Turkey – are you
from Turkey, sir? Good, congratulations. I actually have a very nice job
in Turkey. He`s saying, please mention Turkey. Okay. I think he`s
friend. Are you friend or foe? Huh? I think he`s friend.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: So the gentleman interrupting Trump`s scream of consciousness is a
Turkish journalist living in Denver. He said he wanted Trump to answer a
few questions about Turkey, among them, one about the terrorist attack in
Istanbul earlier this week.

Trump did address that in his remarks, saying turkey could single handedly
wipe ISIS off the map. This is apparently not the first time Donald Trump
has thrown out that question, friend or foe. But on this day, given all
that`s going on in the world, to this man, it may represent more than an
optics moment for his campaign.

The Democrats have their own optics challenge right now. We`ll have more
on that, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: The White House is caught up in another controversy. Clinton
kept Air Force One sitting on the tarmac in Los Angeles for an hour
Tuesday, while he got a hair cut aboard the plane from a celebrity Beverly
Hills stylist. The airport shut down two runways, some flights were
delayed. Some in Congress claim that taxpayers paid a bundle to keep Air
Force One on the ground for the presidential trimming.

REP. DAN BURTON (R), INDIANA: He spent thousands of dollars of your tax
money to get a hair cut for 200 bucks from Hillary`s hairdresser. He ought
to be more concerned trimming the deficit than his own hair.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: It was not even six months into Bill Clinton`s presidency before the
fake scandals were already proliferating. Remember that one, hair-gate?

The story about Bill Clinton getting a hair cut dominated the news for
days. It`s kind of unbelievable, but also kind of understandable, right?
It`s the irresistible morality play. New president elected as a regular
guy, gets drunk on his own power and forces us schmucks to sit on our
delayed flights wait on our flights while we gets a hair cut from someone
named Christof (ph).

Of course, the allegations turned out not to be true. It created no delays
and didn`t cost $200. But by the time the facts came to light, it was far
too late. And also, like most Clinton scandals, even though there was
blame to be parceled out to the media and to his political enemies, you
couldn`t help wondering what was Bill Clinton thinking? How could he not
see how bad this would look?

Well, fast forward 23 years, different plane, different tarmac, and Bill
Clinton has once again caused a giant media and political and legal
firestorm. This time by visiting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, when
their planes were parked at the same Phoenix airport at the same time.

Bill Clinton found out the attorney general`s plane was nearby and he
wanted to say hi. After all, he first appointed Loretta Lynch as U.S.
attorney in 1999. Also, maybe it is just a courtesy for former presidents
and top cabinet officials to greet each other when they run across each
other at airports. I don`t know.

According to accounts, the two of them chatted about Bill Clinton`s
grandkids and their recent travels and the golf Bill Clinton had been
playing, and they talked about that stuff for a whole 30 minutes.

And I guess that would be fine if Loretta Lynch didn`t oversee the FBI,
which is currently investigating the e-mail practices of Bill Clinton`s
wife when she was secretary of state, which we learned today, and may be
interviewing Hillary Clinton in that investigation as soon as tomorrow.

The hyperventilating came fast and furious. There were immediate
allegations that the email investigation had been compromised. Republicans
in Congress started calling for a special prosecutor. One justice reporter
called the whole thing shocking, absolutely shocking.

Bill Clinton was notoriously problematic for Hillary Clinton during her
2008 presidential run, saying intempered things, created distractions. And
he`s not always been on target this cycle either, having a shouting match
with black protesters comes to mind.

And, look, let`s assume for the sake of argument that the meeting between
Bill Clinton and Loretta Lynch was just what they said it was, a purely
social visit. Still, once again, you do find yourself wondering, what was
Bill Clinton thinking? How could he not see how bad this would look? The
man who was taken to the political woodshed over a frigging hair cut?

As for Loretta Lynch, she has been upfront about the meeting. She said
that she wouldn`t do it again. She also said she would accept the
recommendations of the FBI and prosecutors on what to do about the e-mails
investigation. She will not be involved in the decision on how to move
forward.

And today, she spoke at length for the first time about all of this, in an
interview with “The Washington Post`s” Jonathan Capehart.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LORETTA LYNCH, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I do think that no matter how I viewed
it, I understand how people view it. And I think that because of that, and
because of the fact that it has now cast a shadow over how this case may be
perceived, and no matter how it`s resolved, it`s important to talk about
how it will be resolved. It`s important to make it clear that that meeting
with President Clinton does not have a bearing on how this matter will be
reviewed, resolved and accepted by me, because that is the question that it
raises.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: And that was Attorney General Loretta Lynch at the Aspen Ideas
Festival today, facing this thing head on.

So, is this a tempest in a tea pot like hairgate was? Or is there genuine
damage that`s been done here, for Loretta Lynch, or for the FBI
investigation, or for the Clinton campaign?

Joining us now is Jonathan Capehart, “The Washington Post” opinion writer
who interviewed Attorney General Loretta Lynch today.

And, Jonathan, first of all, congratulations on getting the interview of
the day. I mean, great timing on your part.

First of all, let`s talk about that timing. You were scheduled to
interview Attorney General Lynch anyway, right? Were you surprised that
she kept that date with you?

JONATHAN CAPEHART, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, right. This interview was
scheduled as part of the Ideas Festival, about a month and a half ago. So,
it was on my calendar all along. And then, you know, tarmac-gate, if you
want to call it that, blew up.

Last night I had one set of, you know, ideas in mind of how the interview
would go. This morning, it was completely different. And I have to say,
I`m not surprised that the attorney general went through with today`s
session because as you said, she`s been transparent and pretty up front
from the very beginning.

When this came to light, she did two press conferences. One in L.A., and
one, I believe, in Phoenix, when it first happened. So, the fact that she
sat down with me, and I want to make it clear, no preconditions. She sat
down and waited for me to ask the question that the hundreds of people in
the room and that the millions of Americans who were watching at the same
time wanted to know.

REID: And, Jonathan, you work in Washington, obviously at “The Washington
Post,” you`re familiar with these sort of interactions between powerful
people. When you heard this story initially, did it strike you as bizarre,
or out of the ordinary, that two, you know, obviously officials who know
each other, one a former president of the United States, that`s unusual to
have a former president say, I`d like to say hello, right?

But apart from that, did it strike you as something particularly unusual or
scandalous?

CAPEHART: It struck me as unusual. One thing to keep in mind, remember,
about a month ago, President Clinton had a tarmac meeting with Senator Ted
Cruz. So this is not something that is unusual.

But in this case, former President Bill Clinton, and the current sitting
attorney general, Loretta Lynch, meeting on the tarmac, or running into
each other on the tarmac, that is unusual. It is something that raised a
lot of eyebrows, not just from people on the right, but also among
Democrats, because we have to keep something in mind – one, Hillary
Clinton and the e-mail situation is being investigated by the FBI. So
that`s an active investigation.

Two, the attorney general oversees the FBI. Three, Bill Clinton is the
husband of someone who could potentially be the subject of an FBI criminal
probe, if they decide that`s what needs to happen.

So, the idea that he would go onto the plane of the sitting attorney
general, where there`s an active investigation going on is what struck
everybody as somewhat insane. How on earth could this happen from – how
could the former president allow himself to do that? How could the current
sitting attorney general allow it to happen?

But here in Aspen, there are a lot of people who know President Clinton,
have dealings with President Clinton, and I have to tell you, no one here
is surprised that President Clinton just did what he did.

REID: And very quickly, Jonathan, the 30 minutes is the thing that struck
me as very eyebrow raising. What was Loretta Lynch`s explanation as to why
she spent 30 minutes talking to the former president?

CAPEHART: Well, if you listen to the way Loretta – the attorney general
talks about the conversation that they had, there`s a lot of President
Clinton talked about the grandkids, talked a lot about the grandkids.
President Clinton talked about his golf game, and we talked about our
summer travels.

President Clinton talked about – the impression I got, both from the sit-
down in front of the audience at Aspen, the sit-down I had with her on the
record for ten minutes afterwards, and in those two press conferences that
she had leading up to today, it is clear to me that the person doing most
of the talking during those 30 minutes was President Clinton.

REID: Yes. And I`m sure at this point, I`m sure she wishes she had just
declined.

Jonathan Capehart, “Washington Post” opinion writer, thank you very much
for your reporting on this. Appreciate it.

CAPEHART: Thanks a lot.

REID: Thank you.

And much more to come tonight, including what could be a pivotal moment for
the Donald Trump campaign. We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: When you`re interviewing for a job, it`s all about turning negatives
into positives. You know how they always ask you, what`s your biggest
weakness? And you say something like, I just care too much.

Well, case in point, Newton Leroy Gingrich, the former speaker of the
House, has been transparently auditioning for the job of Donald Trump`s
running mate. Look, I`ll prove it to you. This was Donald Trump a few
months ago giving a foreign policy speech. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Our embassies in Kenya
and Tanzania and this was a horrible period of time for us, were attacked.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: OK, so Donald Trump clearly bungled the pronunciation of Tanzania,
his foreign policy speech. But job interview is about turning lemons into
lemonades.

And Newt, he`s from Georgia, y`all, so he knows how to squeeze a lemon and
add little sugar. Right after that speech, he tweeted. Quote, “Washington
elites mock Trump for mispronouncing Tanzania. They don`t get it. He said
the most important word correctly, America. He gets it.”

No, you know who gets it? Gingrich. Gingrich gets it.

The veepstakes on the Republican side of the field are in full swing and
we`ll have more on that in just a minute. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MADDOW: So there are three prevailing theories as to how a presidential
candidate picks their V.P.? You pick someone you think will excite the
party during the convention, you pick somebody from a state or an area to
help you win on election night, or you pick somebody who help you govern
after the election.

Being picked up as V.P. is an honor, but it`s also a strategic choice.
That is, unless nobody wants the job. In which case, beggars can`t be
choosers.

And given how hard it seems to be for Donald Trump to even secure people to
speak on his behalf at the Republican National Convention where he will
accept the nomination for president, it`s looking less and less like the
Trump will be choosing a number two based on an unlimited A-list of top
tier Republican talent and more like they`ll be choosing whoever will
actually take the job.

At the moment, it appears three main contenders for the position are being,
depending on who you believe, considered or vetted. Let`s tick through `em
real quick.

The first is a man that we`ve seen spending a lot of time at Donald Trump`s
side, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Pros: he gives you governing
experience and a tough guy message with a prosecutorial background, big war
on terror. And if the base wants somebody else to punch the Democrats in
the face, so Trump can look more presidential, Christie can do that.

On the other hand, he`s Chris Christie. So there`s bridgegate, terrible
approval ratings. Nobody in his own state wanted him to run for president,
and New Jersey`s credit rating has been downgraded like nine times since he
was elected, and he would make for a very Northeast heavy ticket.

Then there`s Indiana Governor Mike Pence who brings conservative movement
credibility. He`s served as both governor and congressman, so he has
plenty of experience and relationships on Capitol Hill. Also, NBC News has
confirmed today that Mike Pence will be meeting with Trump this weekend.

On the other hand, Pence is not exactly exciting and he`s not well known,
and the campaign doesn`t have lots of money on hand to spend raising his
name ID. He`s also in the middle of a campaign of his own, running for re-
election as Indiana`s governor. Technically, he`s not allowed to run for
both positions. So, he`d have to choose between running for governor and
running for V.P.

Finally, there`s the man that I believe Donald Trump has his eye on, former
speaker of the house, Newton Leroy Gingrich, aka Newt, a man who gives him
plenty of experience and plenty of knowledge of Washington politics and
policy, but who, despite that, has managed to maintain credibility with the
outsider wing of the conservative base. You could make the argument that
there`s nobody in the world with more experience attacking and battling the
Clintons. He did, after all, impeach President Clinton.

However, Newt Gingrich brings a boat load of baggage, including an ethics
violation, documented infidelity and a history of comments that were at
least, racially and culturally insensitive. And with three marriages of
his own, that would bring the Trump-Gingrich ticket total to six.

Now, on top of those three picks, there are still wild cards floating out
there. Governors Rick Scott and Mary Fallin of Florida and Oklahoma
respectively. Senators Jeff Sessions, Bob Corker and Joni Ernst. Heck,
even Sarah Palin is being used as a frequent surrogate for the Trump
campaign. It would be great TV.

Joining us now to try and clear up a little bit of this haze is Karen
Tumulty, national political correspondent for “The Washington Post” who has
just written a piece detailing the state of the veep race.

All right, Karen, give us your best political reporting now on who Donald
Trump`s top pick is right now. Who`s the odds-on favorite?

KAREN TUMULTY, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, at this moment, and again at
this moment is a very qualified way of describing things with Donald Trump
– everything we`re hearing is that Newt Gingrich does seem to have the
edge, that there are two leading candidates. Number one being Newt
Gingrich, number two being Chris Christie, and then, you know, a
constellation of six or eight others who are being looked at.

But you`re right, Gingrich would bring a lot of things to the ticket that
Trump appears to be looking for. And the other qualification that people
sometimes look for in a running mate is someone who reinforces their own
message. I mean, that`s what we saw with Bill Clinton and Al Gore. You
know, two, young southerners who were a generational change.

Well, Newt Gingrich would be – have both the governing experience as you
said, and sort of the anti-establishment cred as well.

REID: Yes, he would be doubling down on the Trump brand. I love fewer
things more than being right. I hope we turn out to be right on there.

Let`s talk about who Donald Trump is consulting with in making this pick.
Have you heard the scuttlebutt that there`s pushback from Paul Ryan world
that they prefer they pick somebody to soften his edges, like Susana
Martinez, who probably doesn`t want it, or somebody who`s a softer edge
than Newt Gingrich, have you heard that?

TUMULTY: This pick is going to be made by a committee of one. It would be
Donald Trump consulting Donald Trump. So I think that Paul Ryan`s
recommendations or anything coming right now from the establishment is, you
know, not going to necessarily have much sway.

REID: And what about the Chris Christie question? Because it does seem
that he`s raising his hand and shaking it around in the air, trying to make
sure he gets the attention of the committee of one, Donald Trump. In your
view, in your reporting, is there something about bridgegate, his record in
New Jersey, that is disqualifying him, and keeping him from getting from
number two to number one?

TUMULTY: You know, I don`t necessarily think that there is anything at
this point that`s disqualifying. But, you know, Newt Gingrich has – I
mean, Donald Trump has said that, you know, there`s going to be a spot for
Chris Christie in a Donald Trump administration. So, you know, it could be
some other job he`d have him in mind for.

REID: And, Karen, what do you make of this theory and I`ll just cop to it
being my theory, that Donald Trump is looking for somebody who would sort
of being willing to run Washington, if he were to become bored being
president of the United States, somebody who would do the work, while we
could enjoy the ceremony? What do you make of that?

TUMULTY: Well, that`s something you would get with Newt Gingrich, or
somebody like that on the list. Newt Gingrich not only has command of the
issues. He`s almost certainly gotten a national security clearance by
having been on the defense science board. He knows how the gears grind on
Capitol Hill.

REID: And, Karen, are there any other people that we`ve heard publicly
mentioned, particularly the women on the list, people like Mary Fallin or
Joni Ernst, who you`re hearing are not interested in being vetted for V.P.,
as we`ve heard about Condoleezza Rice?

TUMULTY: The thing about is, it`s you would have to ask – no, I`m not
hearing it. But you`d have to ask, what would you be giving up by way of
future credibility and future options by being on this ticket if it, in
fact, goes down in spectacular fashion in the fall, which is a real
possibility in the minds of a lot of Republicans?

You know, for Newt Gingrich, it`s a new-lose proposition. It would
increase his speaking fees and demand in Republican circles. But for
somebody who might be looking at a spot on another ticket further in the
future, this is a real risk.

REID: Yes, and I think you`ve nailed it on the speaking fees, the book
deals, Rachel has talked about that up side to being a part of this
process.

Really quickly, slip over to the Democrats. What do you make of the Kaine
versus Warren back and forth? Is there anybody that you can report as an
advantage on the Democratic side?

TUMULTY: Well, I sort of subscribe to the conventional wisdom here, that
Tim Kaine would be a better fit for the innate caution that we know Hillary
Clinton to have. Virginia is a very crucial state.

And you know, two women on a ticket would be very exciting, but her problem
right now is winning over white guys. So, that would also seem to argue
for Tim Kaine. Plus, for all the chemistry we saw in Ohio, there`s not a
lot – a very high comfort level between these two women personally.

REID: All right, we`ll see how that shakes out. I think you and I, we`ll
be split. I think I`m on team warren, thinking she might have an edge, but
I`ll divert to your expertise. Karen Tumulty, national political
correspondent for “The Washington Post” – thanks for your time. Really
appreciate it.

TUMULTY: Thank you.

REID: Much more to come, including the latest example of the difference
between red and blue states. We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: What you`re looking at here in political terms is a green light.
New polling this week shows Hillary Clinton leading in a slew of swing
states, with margins from plus four in Iowa to plus 14 in Florida. Plus
14? Can that be right? Who knows? It`s way early.

But it`s not that early. In campaign terms, it`s not too early to spend.
And now, looking at the state of the race and the polling, the Hillary
Clinton campaign has announced they are buying ad time in Nebraska, which
has not gone for a Democrat since 1964.

Now, Nebraska is not winner take all. There`s a swing district in Nebraska
around Omaha. And Barack Obama shocked everyone by getting one electoral
vote out of that district in 2008. He was only able to do it once. He
wasn`t able to pull off the same trick again in 2012.

But now, Hillary Clinton is aiming for that one vote in 2016. Maybe that`s
just a bluff. Maybe that`s just a show of strength. Or maybe the
electoral map is turning bright blue this year.

More political news just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: This week, the RNC unveiled the stage design for this year`s
Republican National Convention. It`s very exciting. They invited the
press, they explained their line of thinking in terms of design.

And then, the big reveal or rather the tiny reveal. RNC showing off the
model on what the stage will look like. The stage has been a very
important aspect of the planning. Donald Trump told “The New York Times”
he threw out earlier designs of the stage, quote, “I didn`t like the shape,
too nothing, didn`t have the drama”, doesn`t have the range.

Unfortunately for Donald Trump, the drama is turning up in other ways ahead
of the convention, on a couple of different fronts. The first is when it
comes to the actual content. We now have a growing list of Republicans who
are not expected to participate in the convention, including Ohio Governor
John Kasich, even though the convention is being held in his state. Donald
Trump said he will not ask him to speak unless he endorses Trump.

In terms of who is being asked to speak, that`s a whole other cast of
characters. Donald Trump tells “The New York Times” he`s thinking about
asking tennis star Serena Williams, boxing promoter Don King, and the
president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Dana White. Former
Chicago Bears` coach Mike Ditka who was a big Trump supporter said he too
was asked but he turned him down, saying the event is not his style.

Earlier this week, it was reported that Mike Tyson was on the speaker short
list, report that both Donald Trump and Mike Tyson have since denied.

So, other than Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Ben Carson and members of
Donald Trump`s own family, who do not know of anyone confirmed to speak at
the convention, which could be exciting or disastrous. The other mess on
the RNC in Donald Trump`s hands is what is happening outside the actual
convention, 50,000 people are expected to flood into Cleveland for the
four-day long convention. Among them not only politicians and delegates
and if Donald Trump gets his way, some professional athletes, protesters.

In addition to the anti-Trump protesters likely to show up, members of the
Westboro Baptist Church are expected to make an appearance, as well as
other members of the same white supremacist group that wreaked havoc in
Sacramento over the weekend. The Cleveland Police Department has released
an extensive security blueprint to ensure piece in and around the
convention.

But the Cleveland police`s own record is not that stellar, having twice
been probed by the Justice Department for problematic policing, and with
the Tamir Rice case still looming in the minds of many black Clevelanders.
Demonstrators will be permitted to walk freely throughout most part of the
city, which means that all the demonstrators, anti-Trump protesters and
white supremacist alike are probably going to at some point end up in the
same area.

All of that on top of the fact that Ohio is open carry, fire arms will be
allowed in the designated protest guns. No guns are not allowed into the
arena, but the anticipated volatility surrounding the convention is
starting to spook some delegates, causing some of them to announce they too
will be bringing their guns to Cleveland, in the event of violent protest
or even an ISIS attack. Seriously.

So much to watch out for in the days to come. Watch this space.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

REID: It`s hard to believe comedian Chris Rock made this argument nearly
20 years ago because it still sounds so painfully funny and urgent and
true.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS ROCK, COMEDIAN: You don`t need no gun control, you know what you
need, we need some bullet control. We need to make – we need to control
the bullets, that`s right. I think all bullets should cost $5,000. $5,000
for a bullet. You now why, because if a bullet cost $5,000, there will be
no more innocent bystanders. Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Bullet control.

Yes, Chris Rock proposed regulating ammunition back in 1999, a time when
the nation was still reeling from school shootings like Columbine and also
neighborhood violence as the country experience at the tail end of the
crack epidemic and the associated gang violence.

Against that backdrop, Rock made his funny yet serious proposal, maybe
instead of gun control, we should try bullet control. Maybe we should
regulate bullets.

And now, in the very blue state of California, they are about to do just
that. California Governor Jerry Brown today signed into law half a dozen
new bills dealing with fire arms. Some of these new laws are controls on
guns.

The governor signed new limits on assault weapons. He signed a new ban on
high capacity magazines, but also the California governor signed, what I
think Chris Rock would clearly recognize as bullet control. California
will now require a background check to buy ammunition and an ID and the
state will keep a database of ammunition sales.

Now, it`s worth noting that the Democratic governor also vetoed five new
gun reforms sent to him by the Democratic control legislature. According
to his veto statements, he rejected bills for being too vague or imposing
to big a burden on lawful gun owners or simply because he does not think
the bills would work to reduce gun violence. But Jerry Brown signed that
sweeping measure for bullet control. Bullet control will now be the law of
the land in California.

So once, again, states, particularly blue states, are able to pass
meaningful gun reform to try and protect their citizens from on-going gun
violence. This, while the United States Congress has done precisely
nothing. However, after House Democrat staged a sit in last week.

Republican Speaker Paul Ryan says the bill will help suspected terrorists
from being able to buy guns. Democrats are expecting the bill to be a
narrower version of the measure okayed by the NRA. And so, whether
Congress does anything about gun violence is still an open question, in
terms of how much Republicans are willing to do in Congress and how much
Democrats will be willing to sign on for in exchange for their support.
We`ll start getting answers next week when the house returns to work. But
at least for tonight, in California, at least for this one night, Chris
Rock wins.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROCK: You don`t need no gun control, you know what you need, we need some
bullet control. We need to – we need to control the bullets.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Amen. That does it for tonight. I will see you again in just a few
hours on my show “A.M. JOY”. We`ll have an interview with Congressman
Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrats on the House Benghazi Committee.
We`ll also ask him about gun control, that is tomorrow morning at 10:00
a.m. Eastern.

Now, it is time for “THE LAST WORD”. Ayman Mohyeldin is in for Lawrence
tonight.

Good evening, Ayman.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
END

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