The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 7/6/2016
Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW
Date: July 6, 2016
Guest: Susan Page, Edmond Jordan, Ellen Tauscher
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, “ALL IN”: That`s “ALL IN” for this evening.
THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now with Steve Kornacki, in for Rachel.
Good evening, Steve.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC GUEST HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks for that.
Thanks to you at home for joining us this hour. Rachel has the night off.
And we`re going to start tonight with the decade that won`t leave us, the
1990s. They are back. Bill and Hillary Clinton, they were big back then,
they`re big now. Donald Trump was big back then, he`s big now.
And now, Newt Gingrich, he`s back too.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: Is there a single person here who
believes that if you had done what Hillary Clinton had done, that you would
not be prosecuted?
Let me tell you why I`m so proud to be here. I used to study and teach
history. I spent a little bit of time in politics. I have never – I know
of no example in American history of a moment where the leader and the
American people came together as fast as they have in the last year with
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: You can consider that his audition. That was just a few hours
ago in Cincinnati, Ohio. Gingrich warming up the crowd at a big rally for
Now, of course, Gingrich was speaker of the House back in the 1990s. He
was then pushed out of office in 1998 by his fellow Republicans. This came
after his party suffered a surprisingly poor showing in that year`s midterm
But Gingrich never really went away after that. He was back running for
president four years ago, and now tonight – well, tonight, it looks more
possible than ever, based on what happened at that rally, that he`ll end up
as Trump`s running mate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Newt has been my
friend for a long time. And I`m not saying anything, and I`m not telling
even Newt anything, but I can tell you, in one form or another, Newt
Gingrich is going to be involved with our government. That I can tell you.
We all love Newt. Newt gets it. I`ll tell you one thing, folks. I`m not
saying it`s Newt, but if it`s Newt, nobody`s going to be beating him in
those debates. That`s for sure, right? Nobody. Nobody`s beating our Newt
in the debate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And before that rally tonight, Gingrich and Trump met in New
York at Trump Tower. This, the latest in a string of similar meetings that
Trump`s been holding with possible running mates over the last few days.
Now, there are obvious liabilities to picking Gingrich if that`s who Trump
lands on for his V.P. Gingrich has tremendous ethical and personal
baggage. As 73 years old, he`ll be one of the oldest vice presidential
candidates ever. He`s also older than Donald Trump, who just turned 70
years old. Gingrich also wouldn`t automatically put a swing states into
But on the other side of the ledger, there is some logic to the idea of a
Trump-Newt ticket. Obviously, Washington experience, something Trump has
said he`s looking for, something that Gingrich has plenty of. He served in
Congress for a total of 20 years.
But it`s more than just that, more than just the experience question.
Trump and Gingrich also seem to view the political system and the game of
politics pretty much the same way. They both define themselves as anti-
establishment figures. They both delight in bashing the media. They both
talk in grand, sweeping terms about their own potential to change the
world. They both seem to see themselves as leaders of average people
rising up against elites.
They`ve also both mastered the art of merging the personal and the
political when it comes to branding. Gingrich along with his wife has made
a fortune selling all kinds of non-fiction books and children`s books and
documentaries and tapes, all through their Gingrich productions media
Gingrich also once offered awards to small business owners and
entrepreneurs, but he required the potential recipients to first join his
group at a cost of $5,000. It`s the kind of entrepreneurship we`ve come
accustomed to with Donald Trump. But Gingrich has been there too.
Gingrich also knows how to tap the grassroots for cash. His political
action committee raised more than any other organization of its kind, a
record $52 million over the four years leading up to his 2012 campaign.
Money, obviously, this is an area of concern for the Trump campaign these
days. We learned just a few weeks ago, the Trump campaign had just $1.3
million cash on hand. That was a shockingly tiny sum. It called into
question Trump`s basic ability to compete against Hillary Clinton
financially in the fall campaign.
Today, though, a new development on that front to tell you about. The
Trump campaign revealing fundraising numbers for the month of June that are
a bit less bleak. The company now says they raised a total of $26 million
in June. That is still less than the $40.5 million Hillary Clinton brought
in but it`s much more that Trump had on hand heading into June. It`s also
possible, Gingrich could help him when it comes to raising money.
Gingrich has also been telegraphing his interest in joining the ticket
hard. He wants this. It`s very clear. He came to Donald Trump`s defense
on a number of key issues in this campaign. A month ago, Gingrich was
criticizing the presumptive nominee`s racist remarks about the Hispanic
judge overseeing the Trump University case. Newt Gingrich had first called
those remarks inexcusable.
But after saying that, he seemed to reconsider and said that Trump actually
just a gifted amateur and that it was just a mistake. He said Trump is,
quote, “learning very, very fast.”
Gingrich has also done a 180 on the topic of trade. Gingrich for decades
now has supported free trade deals. When he was in Congress, he helped to
push through the North American Free Trade Agreement, NAFTA, which Trump
now routinely bashes on the campaign trail. But now, Gingrich, with that
free trading record, he actually says he supports Donald Trump`s
restrictive trade policies which would end huge trade deals that are
currently in place.
Gingrich has flipped in preparation for potentially joining the ticket.
But the biggest thing in Gingrich`s favor right now, when it comes to
possibly being Trump`s running mate, it`s the fact that if he`s asked, he
would definitely say yes. That`s more than you can say about a lot of the
other candidates who are on the supposed short list for Trump, or who a lot
of people mention as likely VP possibilities.
There`s a tradition of potential vice presidential candidates coyly turning
down the gig in public in order to not appear like they want it too hard.
That`s not necessarily what`s happening on the Republican side right now,
at least when it comes to the noes that Trump is getting. The usual
suspects are saying, no, they really aren`t interested.
Last night, for instance, Senator Bob Corker from Tennessee, respected
Republican in Washington, he joined Trump on stage at a rally in Raleigh,
North Carolina, key swing state. This after meeting personally with Trump
and his family in New York, seen like an audition there for the vice
But then this morning, hours after that event, Corker took himself out of
the running. On July 4th, Trump also met with Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa,
the fueled obvious speculation that she too is on the short list. She
makes a lot of sense as a possible short lister, but tonight, sources
telling NBC News that Ernst pretty much told Trump during that meeting that
she doesn`t want the VP slot.
So, Bob Corker, out. Joni Ernst looks like according to our reporting,
that she`s out as well. Doesn`t mean she`s any more reticent to stay in
the spotlight, though, because today, we learned that Ernst has been given
a prime speaking slot at the Republican convention coming up in less than
two weeks, along with Scott Walker, the Wisconsin governor and former
Republican presidential candidate, both of them confirmed to speak at the
Walker giving a sort of endorsement of Donald Trump today, saying, quote,
“Last August, I said I`d support the GOP nominee. It`s now clear who the
RNC delegates will vote to nominee, and he is better than she is.” That
was Scott Walker today, endorsing Donald Trump without actually using his
Trump has made it clear that he wouldn`t ask any of his former opponents to
speak at the convention unless they first endorsed him. That`s sort of a
traditional move there for nominees. Trump insisting on it, but he could
have some trouble on that front.
Ted Cruz, for instance, hasn`t yet endorsed him. There were some reports
that today though that Cruz staffers are working with the Trump campaign to
come up with some deal that would allow Cruz to speak. Cruz`s spokesperson
has denied those reports.
We`re going to find out the full line-up of speakers, though, tomorrow.
Keep an eye on that.
But even if the convention process is finally starting to come together for
Trump and the Republicans, the struggle for the Trump campaign, it`s still
the matter of the veepstakes, of finding a running mate, of finding a
qualified candidate, somebody who can help electorally and somebody who`d
say yes. In the past, that`s been straightforward. The process there has
been pretty easy to follow. You look for who the nominee wants to run
with, the nominee asks that person and the nominee always gets “yes” in
But with Donald Trump, there is a new variable. There`s a twist. Isn`t
there always? It`s this, the question this time is not just who he wants
to run with him. It`s who would actually say “yes” to him.
Joining us now, Susan Page. She`s Washington bureau chief for “USA Today”.
Susan, thanks for joining us tonight.
So, you saw the rally. Newt spoke, Trump spoke, you saw `em together on
What did you think watching that? Do you think you`re looking at a ticket
SUSAN PAGE, USA TODAY: I think it could be. I mean, they do seem to like
each other. Trump seemed to be very engaged with Gingrich. I think that`s
underestimated when we think about political calculations, swing states,
what are their ages, that sort of thing.
I think a lot of candidates, including maybe especially Donald Trump really
want somebody where the chemistry is pretty good. That`s true with
Gingrich. I think that`s also true with Christie.
And the question is, is that true with Mike Pence, who is a name that is
suddenly gotten a little bit of additional buzz in the last day or two?
KORNACKI: Yes, it`s interesting. I mean, I was watching him with Corker
last night, and Corker obviously taking his name out of the mix today. But
that chemistry you`re talking about, I wasn`t picking up on it watching
Corker and Trump last night. I was picking up on it watching him with
Gingrich. But if he is interested in Gingrich, and if this only increases
Trump`s interest in Gingrich, what about that issue of the baggage?
I mean, he was forced out as speaker. He had the ethical reprimand, the
record fine at the time back in 1997 when he was a speaker. Obviously, the
personal history with Newt Gingrich. How much do you think that factors
PAGE: You know, I think traditionally, it would factor in a fair amount.
I mean, among them – between them, they have six marriages. That might be
a factor. It`s about two decades since Newt Gingrich ran for office. You
know, one of the issues that Donald Trump has, he doesn`t have any
electoral experience. Maybe he could use somebody on the ticket with more
current experience in that.
But with Donald Trump in particular, don`t you think he`s going to make a
call with his gut, as opposed to doing a list with pros and cons for each
of the candidates? It`s hard to picture Donald Trump doing that.
I remember four years ago, when I was in Wisconsin, when Mitt Romney came
in to do an event with Paul Ryan. And Paul Ryan was not then considered a
favorite for the vice presidential slot on the Republican ticket. The two
of them just clearly got along so well, that by the end of two or three
rallies, I thought he may pick him just because they`re kind of a nice fit.
And as you said, I think you saw a little bit of that with Gingrich
KORNACKI: I also wondered too, we see Ernst apparently not being
interested. Corker pulling out of the mix on this.
The idea that the vice presidential candidate has to pretty much fall in
line on everything. Anything Trump goes out there and says between now and
Election Day, it`s the job of the vice presidential candidate to support
it, to echo it, to defend it, to never show any distance between him or
herself and the candidate.
And I wonder with Donald Trump, if what separates Newt Gingrich from the
other candidates potentially is his willingness to do that.
PAGE: Yes. It seems to me, you`re pretty much all in if you`re Donald
Trump`s running mate. I would distinguish I think a little bit between
what Corker said, which seemed to be clearly saying, I`m not going to be
the vice presidential candidate this time around and Joni Ernst, who said
the more traditional thing, like I want to focus on my home state, which is
something you do say until you`re offered the job of running mate.
So, I thought Corker was pretty unequivocal. I`m not sure about Senator
Ernst, whether you put her quite in the same category. I do think Donald
Trump is not the kind of person who`s going to spend a lot of energy
coaxing somebody who is not eager to be his running mate to get on the
ticket. I think he`ll want somebody who is pretty avidly in favor of
themselves getting that job.
KORNACKI: Yes, yes. I guess the traditional approach is you don`t want to
look like you want it. But obviously, that`s not a problem Newt Gingrich
has right now.
What about from the Clinton campaign`s standpoint though? Let`s say it was
Newt Gingrich. Let`s say it`s a Trump-Gingrich ticket coming out of the
Republican convention. If you`re trying to counter-program that, if you`re
the Democrats, if you`re the Clinton campaign, how do you approach that?
PAGE: Well, you know, it would not be a problem I think for the Clinton
people. It`s more a problem if Donald Trump chose an Hispanic to be his
running mate. That might put some pressure on them, or a young person,
somebody with a lot of – who might some appeal to millennials. That might
be put some pressure on the Clintons.
Choosing a 73-year-old guy who hasn`t run for office in 20 years, who was,
in fact, last prominent in American politics as a practitioner when Bill
Clinton was president, I think, leaves the field pretty wide open for
Hillary Clinton. She might want to choose somebody a little younger than
the other three people who will be running, but it seems to me, it does not
put a lot of electoral pressure on her, either in terms of the demographics
of a running mate, or in terms of the geography of the running mate.
KORNACKI: All right. Susan Page, Washington bureau chief for “The USA
Today”, thanks for your time tonight. I appreciate it.
PAGE: Hey. Thank you, Steve.
KORNACKI: All right. And one thing to note about a potential Gingrich
vice presidential nomination, Newt Gingrich, we just mentioned it here, he
is 73 years old. That`s three years older than Donald Trump.
But here`s a surprising bit of trivia. He would not be the oldest vice
presidential candidate in history. That honor is held by one Henry G.
Davis. He was 80 years old when he was nominated to run with Democrat
Alton Parker back in 1904 against Teddy Roosevelt.
By the way, that Roosevelt ticket in 1904, the combined ages of the
president and vice presidential candidate, that was the youngest ticket in
history, going up against the oldest VP ever. A bit of pointless trivia
And we`ll be right back.
KORNACKI: When we last left off the fight over gun bills in the House of
Representatives, Democrats had just staged their 26-hour sit-in on the
House floor. This was before the fourth of July recess. Speaker Paul Ryan
announcing last week the House would vote on legislation to block
terrorists from buying guns.
But now, Congress is back from its Fourth of July recess. That plan is
suddenly on hold. Any vote on any gun legislation now pushed back
indefinitely. And the reason, resistance to Ryan`s bill from
conservatives. And more specifically, the House Freedom Caucus is refusing
to cooperate unless they can offer amendments and have a chance to make
changes to the bill.
There are also some who don`t want to hold a vote on gun bills right now,
because they think it would be seen as, quote, “rewarding the protests”.
We`ll keep you updated if and when the vote is scheduled.
KORNACKI: NBC News has obtained disturbing new video of an African-
American man being shot and killed by police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It
comes just hours after the Justice Department opened an investigation into
the deadly confrontation.
There are still a lot of unknowns about this case, but here`s what we do
know so far. Police were dispatched shortly after midnight early Tuesday
morning. They were responding to a 911 caller who police say claimed to
have been threatened by someone with a gun outside of a local convenience
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
BATON ROUGE POLICE DISPATCH: Copy suspicious code 2 at 2100 North Foster,
cross of Fairfields.
Selling CDs on the corner. Gun in his pocket. He pulled a gun on a
complainant and told him he couldn`t be around there.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Police say when they arrived on the scene, they confronted 37-
year-old Alton Sterling. Police say a, quote, “altercation” then ensued.
Now, we do not know what led to that altercation but a portion of it was
captured on cell phone video by a witness who is in a nearby car. And as a
word of warning here, and as word of warning here, the video we`re about to
show you is very graphic. It appears to show an officer push Sterling onto
the hood of a car, he`s then wrestled to the ground. Seconds later, one of
the officers appears to shout, he`s got a gun, gun.
And shortly thereafter, gun shots are heard.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s got a gun! Gun!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh my God.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They shot him?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And earlier this evening, NBC News obtained another video of
this incident. This was taken by the store owner outside where that
incident took place. Now here`s a portion of that video.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s got a gun! Gun!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you move, I swear to God –
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get on the ground!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Now, the store owner who took that video says that he saw one of
the officers remove a gun from Mr. Sterling`s pocket. Still images from
this footage, you can see officers remove something from his pocket. It`s
unclear what it is they removed based on these images alone that you see on
your screen there.
Earlier today, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards announced that the case
would, in fact, be turned over to federal authorities. He said he, too,
has serious concerns and the video is disturbing to say the least. Those
are the governor`s words there.
The officers have been placed on administrative leave, that is standard
procedure in cases like these.
Earlier today, Mr. Sterling`s 15-year-old son wept uncontrollably as his
mother delivered a statement.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUINYETTA MCMILLAN, MOTHER OF STERLING`S SON: The individuals involved in
his murder took away a man with children who depended upon their daddy on a
My son is not the youngest. He is the oldest of his siblings. He is 15
years old. He had to watch this as this was put all over the outlet. And
everything that was possible to be shown.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And joining us now is Edmond Jordan. He`s an attorney for the
Sterling family, as well as a Louisiana state representative.
Thanks for joining us.
Well, first, how is the family doing tonight?
EDMOND JORDAN, ALTON STERLING`S FAMILY LAWYER: Obviously, they`re having a
rough time. The family is grieving. They`re exhausted. They haven`t
slept for two days. They`ve had trouble eating. So, it`s been a rough two
days for them.
KORNACKI: The news here on the legal front is state and local authorities
basically ceding this investigation to federal authorities, the Justice
Department, the federal Justice Department coming in.
How significant do you think that is, and why do you think that decision
was made so quickly?
JORDAN: Well, let me tell you, it`s very significant. You know, I`ve been
involved in these cases for many years, and what I`ll tell you is this.
Sometimes the Justice Department won`t get involved in cases at all. When
you think that you`ve got a pretty clear-cut case. And other times, it
takes months for them to get involved.
So, to say that they got involved in less than 30 hours, I think, is pretty
significant. But I think that`s a testament to the people here in Baton
Rouge. You can probably see behind me, they`re still protesting to the
governor of Louisiana John Bel Edwards, and to Congressman Cedric Richmond.
So, I think it`s a testament to all of them and the collective community
here in Baton Rouge. I mean, again, this is a pretty significant measure
and we don`t – we don`t take that lightly. But let me tell you this,
Steve, I think when you say that the city ceded to the federal authorities,
it almost sounds like there was some acquiescence. I mean, look, make no
mistake about it, this was an order.
And short of it being – of the city being ordered to do that, they would
KORNACKI: And, obviously, this is something the authorities are trying to
piece together, just as people watching this, everybody`s trying to piece
together as much information as we can. We have that store owner who
offered that second video we just showed a clip up, saying that Mr.
Sterling, that police removed a gun from Mr. Sterling, the close-up
pictures there are too grainy, too blurry for us to be able to tell. They
clearly took something from his pocket. We have no idea what it is.
What is your understanding? Do you know if he was armed?
JORDAN: No, I don`t know that. So I`m hoping that the investigation will
clarify that for us. I`m not sure if he had a gun on him, or if it was a
gun that was actually pulled out of his pocket, or something else happened.
So – but, you know, the family definitely wants to get down to the truth.
And if the truth was he had a gun, so be it. There are other ways to
disarm an individual. I mean, that`s no different – Steve, look,
Louisiana has – you can have a concealed carry permit. So if somebody was
concealed and had a weapon and there was some 911 call saying someone had
brandished a weapon, there are other ways to take, to disarm that
individual short of shooting him four times at point blank range.
KORNACKI: Do you know any more details just in terms of – obviously, we
have the 911 call, but in terms of what precipitated this confrontation
here? Do you know – have any more details about what happened when the
officers first arrived there?
JORDAN: I have not. I mean, it`s my understanding that the officers
arrived on the scene, didn`t explain to Mr. Sterling why they were there,
why they were confronting him. I think he was trying to get an explanation
as to why they were there and couldn`t get one. And then (AUDIO GAP)
precipitated on the video.
KORNACKI: And if I understand this right, the officers had body cameras on
them, or were supposed to have body cameras on them. And the word is that
the cameras were dislodged from both of these officers during the
confrontation. I don`t know if I should take that to me the cameras were
still rolling somewhere nearby.
Do you know any details about – if there was any sort of additional
recording of this that`s available from those cameras?
JORDAN: Well, it`s my understanding that they had some recordable
information, but it may not have been useful information. So, I don`t
know. I just – you know, if you tell me that the cameras – the camera
was dislodged on one officer, I understand that, but on both officers, I
just find that a little bit improbable.
KORNACKI: All right. Edmond Jordan, state representative, also the
attorney for Alton Sterling`s family – thanks for the time tonight. I
JORDAN: Thank you.
KORNACKI: All right. Much more to come tonight, including some late
breaking political news. Be right back.
KORNACKI: Just ahead, we got arguably the biggest news of the 2016
presidential campaign this week on a case that has been put to rest legally
now, but that is definitely not over politically, with Republicans, or at
least the top Republican in Washington, trying to upend the tradition that
was started by President Harry Truman. All that and more is ahead.
KORNACKI: Well, it`s now official. There will be no charges against
Tonight, Attorney Loretta Lynch releasing this statement. Quote, “Late
this afternoon, I met with FBI Director James Comey and career prosecutors
and agents who conducted the investigation of Secretary Hillary Clinton`s
use of a personal e-mail system during her time as secretary of state. I
received and accepted their unanimous recommendation that the thorough,
year-long investigation be closed and that no charges be brought against
any individuals within the scope of the investigation.”
So, that is the end of the Justice Department investigation of Hillary
Clinton. But for politics, for congressional Republicans, the
investigation may just be starting. The house oversight committee is
jumping right in, bringing James Comey, the FBI director, in tomorrow to
testify about his investigation.
Next week, the House Judiciary Committee is set to question Loretta Lynch
on the matter as well. And the House Intelligence Committee is also taking
a look at it. So is the Senate Homeland Security Committee and the House
Foreign Affairs Committees chairman is reportedly itching to dig in. Add
all of that up and that makes five congressional committees controlled by
Republicans, potentially investigating the investigation of Hillary
Clinton. And this was before Loretta Lynch announced her decision not to
There have been some calls for a special prosecutor, maybe even some kind
of a special committee to look into all of this. This is pretty much
coming from across the board when it comes to Republicans. Reince Priebus,
the Republican national chairman, yesterday suggested an Obama
administration conspiracy to protect Clinton, putting out a statement that
said, quote, “The Obama administration were never going to prosecute
Clinton`s criminal behavior because they`re counting on her to deliver
their failed agenda a third term.”
The chair of the House Judiciary Committee called Lynch and Comey`s actions
unusual, said the FBI`s decision, quote, “just doesn`t smell right.”
Donald Trump for his part is now claiming that Hillary Clinton bribed
Loretta Lynch to stand down. Trump saying she is dangling the possibility
of reappointing lynch as A.G. in a Clinton administration and this is why
Lynch won`t be prosecuting.
This morning, House Speaker Paul Ryan, a top Republican in Washington,
endorsed the new and potentially new congressional inquiries and he went a
step further and called for something else.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I was on the ticket in 2012.
After the convention, you get the full deep classified information as part
of transition, as part of being a nominee. I think the DNI, Clapper,
should deny Hillary Clinton access to classified information during this
campaign, given how she so recklessly handled classified information. I
think that`s something that the administration should do on its own, but
we`ll look into seeing if that`s something we can do as well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Those briefings that Ryan is talking about have been a staple of
presidential campaigns since back in 1952. Both parties` candidates
receiving intelligence briefings after the convention and during the
campaign. This was a tradition started by Harry Truman who became
president suddenly upon the death of FDR in 1945, and 12 days after taking
office, Truman first learned about something called the Manhattan Project.
Truman didn`t want any incoming president to ever be as uninformed or
unprepared as he was at that point. Ryan, though, saying the Clintons
should not be allowed to receive the traditional briefings while running
this fall. So that so far has been the Republican response to all of this.
Meanwhile, the Clinton response – well, it`s been pretty much nothing.
The campaign issued a three-sentence statement yesterday declaring the
matter resolved. Another one today slamming Republicans on the House
Oversight Committee for, quote, “politicizing the FBI investigation.” But
no interviews with the candidate, no interviews with the campaign, no
rebuttal of the scathing rebuke from Comey, the FBI director, no attempt to
explain or defend the discrepancies between what Hillary Clinton has said
over the past year and what the FBI director said yesterday.
And there`s a lot to explain here. Hillary Clinton has said she never sent
or received information that was classified at the time it was sent or
received. She pointed to the government practice of up-classifying
documents, after the fact. Meaning they`re retroactively classifying them
as – retro – excuse me, retroactively classifying them years – months or
years after they`ve been sent.
But Comey revealed yesterday that 110 e-mails in 52 e-mail chains contained
classified information at the time they were sent or received. Clinton has
also made the more specific claim that nothing she sent or received was
marked as classified at the time. But, again, Comey revealed yesterday
there were a small number of e-mails that did have classified markings, on
them. He added that even for those that didn`t, quote, didn`t know, quote,
“participants who know or should know that the classified matter is – that
the matter is classified are still obligated to protect it.”
And there was also said, Comey saying that, quote, “hostile actors gained
access to the private commercial email accounts of people with whom
Secretary Clinton was in regular contact from her personal account. He
also said it`s the FBI`s assessment that those actors may have gained
access to Hillary Clinton`s account.
Now, in response to those specific revelations and contradictions, we have
heard nothing from Hillary Clinton or from her campaign. The question is,
can they really just continue to say nothing about this? And if they do
have to say something about this eventually, what are they going to say?
Joining us now is Ellen Tauscher, former California congresswoman who also
served under Hillary Clinton as under secretary of state for arms control
and international security. She`s a Hillary Clinton supporter.
Thanks for joining us.
Let me start with, doesn`t Hillary Clinton owe an answer to what James
Comey said yesterday and what he revealed?
ELLEN TAUSCHER, FORMER UNDER SECRETARY OF SATE IN OBAMA ADMIN.: Well, I
think that the State Department gave partly an answer today when the State
Department pushed back pretty significantly. They have done their own
research of these e-mails. In the case of the e-mails that were
potentially characterized as classified, so said FBI Director Comey
yesterday, the truth of the matter is, that was a mistake. At least two of
those e-mails were mischaracterized and actually did not contain classified
So I think the real issue here, Steve, is that –
KORNACKI: But I don`t mean to interrupt you, but you`re saying at least
two. Let`s make sure we get the numbers straight. We`re saying, from this
FBI review, what the director of the FBI said was 110 –
TAUSCHER: But he said there were a few –
KORNACKI: – 110 contained classified information.
TAUSCHER: But he said that there were a few that were –
KORNACKI: That had markings on them.
KORNACKI: But he also said, of the ones that didn`t have markings, I want
to read his exact quote here. This is what he said. He said, “Any
reasonable person in Secretary Clinton`s position, or in the position of
those with whom she was corresponding, would have known that an
unclassified system was no place for that conversation.”
TAUSCHER: So, let`s look at this. And the State Department`s already come
out today and said that what Dr. Comey said is incorrect. Two of the e-
mails that actually said that they were classified were incorrect. They
were not classified e-mails, but they did have markings on them.
KORNACKI: Doesn`t Hillary Clinton owe this answer? If the FBI is saying
110 e-mails, not two, 110 contained classified information.
TAUSCHER: No, I think too many people that don`t know enough about this
are talking about it.
KORNACKI: Do you think the FBI director doesn`t know about this?
TAUSCHER: I think that plenty of people on TV and some of my former
colleagues in the House know nothing about this because they`ve chosen –
KORNACKI: What about the FBI director, he`s the one who said, 110 e-mails
had classified information when they were sent. He`s not just somebody on
TV. He`s the director of the FBI.
TAUSCHER: What is that about? I mean, from my point of view, I had
classified e-mails coming to me all the time when I was under secretary on
the classified servers. The point is –
KORNACKI: But he`s saying these passed through the personal server, not
the classified server. That`s the problem he`s raising.
TAUSCHER: He`s raising things and keep in mind what the secretary said
from the beginning, that she wished she hadn`t done this, that this was a
mistake. I don`t know what emails he`s talking about. The State
Department came back and said at least two of the e-mails that had
classifications on them were actually not classified. It was a human
So, I think there`s some question as to actually about these hundred of e-
mails out of 30,000.
KORNACKI: Does anything, though, in what he said and what he revealed
yesterday concern you?
TAUSCHER: Of course, it concerns me. But I`m also going to be somebody
that`s informed by the facts, not by the political part of this. And the
truth of the matter is that the Department of Justice has made it very
clear that there`s not going to be a prosecution here, that there was no
intent by the secretary. That is a key piece of this, there was no willful
action on the part of the secretary to ignore the law or put secrets in
jeopardy. That is the collective opinion of career prosecutors and FBI
agents. And I`m willing to take them.
KORNACKI: The opinion expressed was – and he said the reason for the
recommendation of no prosecution was no intent, but he did say, this is
TAUSCHER: But that`s the law.
KORNACKI: – and he said anybody in Secretary Clinton`s position should
TAUSCHER: Because that is the law, Steve.
KORNACKI: His words were, “should have known that an unclassified system
was no place for that,” does that concern you?
TAUSCHER: It concerns me because most people don`t understand that the way
he would know that is to have opened the email. If there`s no header and
footer that says it`s classified, you`re going to open an e-mail and then
you may actually see that somebody sent you something, probably mistakenly
KORNACKI: But if you`re talking about 110, shouldn`t you at some point
figure out between zero and 110, that that is a problem?
TAUSCHER: I think that`s something the State Department is working on with
the FBI to understand what these things are. We certainly don`t know what
they are. I don`t think anybody in the public knows what they are.
Perhaps we`ll find out.
But what I find to be shameful is that my Republican colleagues, my former
colleagues in the House can`t take the facts for an answer. Can`t take
career prosecutors and agents for an answer because they pre-decided that
they wanted this to be a criminal activity and that`s where they`re going.
KORNACKI: All right. Ellen Tauscher, a Hillary Clinton supporter, former
congresswoman from California, also a former under secretary of state –
thanks for the time tonight. Appreciate it.
TAUSCHER: Thank you.
KORNACKI: All right. A lot more to get to tonight, including late word on
what could soon be an endorsement from Bernie Sanders of Hillary Clinton
and one – we`ll be right back after this. Excuse me.
KORNACKI: One quick note about something I said earlier in the show. I
was talking about the possibility of a Trump-Gingrich ticket being one of
the oldest on record. I also said that the Teddy Roosevelt-Charles
Fairbanks ticket back in 1904 was the youngest joint age of a presidential
ticket in history. Well, it turns out I was wrong.
Much more recently than that, you can find an example for this. The
Clinton-Gore ticket in 1992, they were a combined age of just 90. And
then, four years later, when they ran for re-election, their combined
career age was 98, equal to that Teddy Roosevelt ticket in 1904.
That`s what happens when you try to do presidential ticket math on the fly.
We`ll be right back.
KORNACKI: It was five summers ago when President Obama walked up to the
podium in the East Room to announce that the United States was going to
start pulling out a substantial number of troops from Afghanistan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Tonight, we take comfort in
knowing that the tide of war is receding. Fewer of our sons and daughters
are serving in harm`s way. We`ve ended our combat mission in Iraq with
100,000 American troops already out of that country. And even as there
will be dark days ahead in Afghanistan, the light of a secure peace can be
seen in the distance. These long wars will come to a responsible end.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: That was back in June of 2011. At that time, we had 100,000
troops in Afghanistan. Three years later, in 2014, President Obama went to
the Rose Garden to announce that he would pull virtually all U.S. troops
out of Afghanistan by the end of 2016.
Since those two announcements, the number of American troops in Afghanistan
has decreased to just under 10,000 American service members in Afghanistan,
until last fall, in October. That`s when President Obama announced that a
U.S. military presence in Afghanistan would be extended yet again. He
announced that Afghanistan was too fragile. And instead of continuing the
drawdown, we would keep the 10,000 troops there through most of 2016.
After that announcement, President Obama had not planned to take questions,
but he did take one from a reporter who shouted out a question as he
finished up about how disappointing it was for him to decide the troops
could not yet come home. This was part of his answer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We`re going to continually make adjustments to make sure that we
give the best possibilities for success, and I suspect that we will
continue to evaluate this going forward, as will the next president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: As will the next president.
We`re in our 15th year at war in Afghanistan. Now, that`s the longest war
we`ve ever fought. The plan for U.S. troops level in Afghanistan for 2017
was to cut the forces by half from 10,000 down to 5,500. That was the plan
until earlier this month when the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan sent
recommendations to the president on how many Americans should remain in
Afghanistan next year, in 2017. Today, President Obama went to the
Roosevelt Room to announce his updated decision on troop levels based on
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: In January, the next U.S. president will assume the most solemn
responsibility of the commander in chief, the security of the United States
and the safety of the American people. The decision I`m making today
ensures that my successor has a solid foundation for continued progress in
Afghanistan as well as the flexibility to address the threat of terrorism
as it evolves.
Instead of going down to 5,500 troops by the end of this year, the United
States will maintain approximately 8,400 troops in Afghanistan through the
end of next year. I strongly believe that it is in our national security
interests, especially after all the blood and treasure we`ve invested in
Afghanistan over the years that we give our Afghan partners the very best
opportunity to succeed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: President Obama announcing that he will keep more troops in
Afghanistan through 2017 for when the new president assumes office. The
announcement today was not a huge change in terms of numbers. It was, as
the approximated said, more of an adjustment.
But symbolically, it`s a important change. It means President Obama does
not get to end the war in Afghanistan during his presidency. It means he
does not get to bring back the troops and it means in one of his final acts
as president, he is sending more troops into that conflict in Afghanistan
at the same time we`re sending troops back into Iraq and now into Syria,
increasing our involvement in the longest war we`ve ever fought in
Afghanistan, 15 years now and counting.
KORNACKI: Today marks exactly month since Hillary Clinton officially
became the presumptive Democratic nominee for president. It`s a month that
has passed without the endorsement of her primary rival, Bernie Sanders.
But now that could be about to change.
NBC News learning tonight the two camps are in talks over a possible
endorsement and joint appearance that could come as early as next Tuesday
in New Hampshire. That`s the same state where Hillary Clinton endorsed
then-Senator Barack Obama after their bitter and long fight eight years
Now, while details need to be ironed out, Sanders age tell NBC that Sanders
would like to endorse Hillary Clinton before the Democratic convention.
And that likelihood came one step closer to reality today when Hillary
Clinton unveiled an updated plan to make in-state public college tuition
free for families who make less than $125,000 a year. A new plan moved her
closer to the free tuition for all plan put forward by Sanders.
And in the last hour with an interview with Chris Hayes on “ALL IN,”
Sanders praised Hillary Clinton`s new plan while acknowledging an impending
endorsement was likely.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We are now
working with the Clinton campaign. We came together on higher education
and let me congratulate her. I think this is an extraordinarily powerful
proposal that will mean so much to millions and millions of young people.
We`re working on some other ideas. And I think at the end of the day,
there is going to be a coming together and we`re going to go forward
together and not only defeat Trump, but defeat him badly.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: That`s key. So you`re not denying reports there
are talks about a possible endorsement?
SANDERS: That`s correct.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: So that news tonight of an impending endorsement of Bernie
Sanders for Hillary Clinton comes after patience was wearing thin among
Democrats on Capitol Hill. During a tense closed door meeting this
morning, at least some House Democrats booed Sanders when he refused to
unveil a line for his endorsement. Some lawmakers reportedly begin
shouting, “Timeline! Timeline!”
One senior Democrat complaining that Sanders was, quote, “squandering the
movement he built with a self-obsession that was totally on display.”
Then again, the question might be asked at this point, how much does a
Sanders endorsement even matter? While Clinton took only four days to
endorse Obama back in 2008, there were examples of times when it didn`t
happen at all. Jerry Brown back in 1992 never endorsed Bill Clinton after
losing the nomination to him. But Clinton still went on to win easily that
While Democrats spent the early part of the summer worrying about party
unity amid polls showing Hillary Clinton neck and neck with Donald Trump
since capturing the nomination 30 days ago, her lead was only expanded over
Trump. The presumptive Republican nominee has spent the past month mired
in controversy after controversy amid several missteps, while Clinton
herself has been busing holding joint campaign appearances with Democratic
heavyweights like Elizabeth Warren and President Obama.
And next up, Vice President Joe Biden, who`s going to join her in
Pennsylvania on Friday. All this while Clinton continues to raise
boatloads of money and is outspending Trump on the airwaves with 15-1. So,
while a little more unity hurts, right now, Democrats are already feeling
pretty good about Hillary Clinton`s chances in the fall, even without a
That`s going to do it for us tonight. We`ll see you again tomorrow.
Now, it`s over to Lawrence O`Donnell for `THE LAST WORD” – Lawrence.
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