The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 12/21/2015

Sam Stein, Matt Lewis, Hunter Walker, Michael Hiltzik, Cal Perry, Jonathan Stevenson, Hillary Mann Leverett, Preston Lucy, Conner Grossman

Date: December 21, 2015
Guest: Sam Stein, Matt Lewis, Hunter Walker, Michael Hiltzik, Cal Perry,
Jonathan Stevenson, Hillary Mann Leverett, Preston Lucy, Conner Grossman

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: That does it for us tonight, we will see you again
tomorrow, now, it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good
evening, Lawrence.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Rachel, I like Patrick Murphy
more than you do.

MADDOW: No, I`ll fight you for it and I`ll win.

O`DONNELL: OK, we`re going to go all high school on this, yes –

MADDOW: Oh, yes, indeed. Thanks Lawrence –

O`DONNELL: Thank you Rachel –

MADDOW: Take it easy.

O`DONNELL: So now, the biggest liar and I mean biggest liar in the history
of presidential campaigning is calling the candidate who beats him in the
polls a liar.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, really, jughead?


ENTERTAINMENT RESORTS: She should apologize, she lies about everything.

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC: When asked if Clinton would apologize, her
spokesman said, “hell no”.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lindsey Graham suspending his campaign for president –

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If it gets too hard, just quit, who cares?


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I want to thank everyone who has
taken this journey with me.

JON STEWART, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST: I say there`s little hope we`ll
survive the Summer.


on to those main debate stages.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will the rest of you just wave, so your parents know
you`re here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, bubba boy!

HUNT: She was instead relegated to the undercards.

GRAHAM: Here`s what I would advise the Republican Party to do in the
future, never do this again.

TRUMP: Relax, take it easy –

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This electorate right now certainly on the Republican
side is very angry.

Trump`s taken advantage of that.

TRUMP: How can I describe our leaders better than the word stupid?


O`DONNELL: So the presidential campaign has come to this. Donald Trump is
calling Hillary Clinton a liar and demanding an apology for lying about

Now, here is the most important thing that Donald Trump supporters believe.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`ve got people in positions of power who I know for
a fact are liars.


O`DONNELL: That`s what they say when Donald Trump gets caught in one of
his many lies.

The Trump supporters who are smart enough to realize that Trump is lying
don`t hold it against him because they favor his policy ideas and they`re
willing to live with the lying because they believe that all politicians
lie, and that all presidents lie.

Liberals were the original attackers of presidential lying and they began
by attacking a Democratic president for saying this –


hostile actions against United States ships on the high seas and the Gulf
of Tonkin, have today required me to order the military forces of the
United States to take action and reply.


O`DONNELL: Liberals accused two presidents in a row of lying about
Vietnam; Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon.

And then Nixon got to the point where everyone accused him of being a liar
including many in his own party.


got to know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I am not a


O`DONNELL: Trump supporters believe that this was a lie.


opponent won`t rule out raising taxes, but I will and the Congress will
push me to raise taxes and I`ll say no.

And they`ll push and I`ll say no, and they`ll push again and I`ll say to
them, read my lips –


No new taxes.


O`DONNELL: Now in all fairness, to borrow a phrase that Donald Trump often
uses and doesn`t mean, that was probably not a lie when George Bush said

He surely hoped to never raise taxes, but Democrats in Congress forced that
reality on him.

Just as it probably wasn`t a lie when Bill Clinton ran promising a middle
class tax cut and then raised taxes on everyone including a gasoline tax in
what became the biggest tax increase in history because economic reality
demanded it.

But this was proven to be a lie.


relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. I never told anybody to lie, not
a single time, never.


O`DONNELL: Lies like that are rare in presidential politics but they live
forever. Most of what Trump supporters think of as lies are things that
politicians hope to do but it just didn`t turn out that way.


stop extending our troops all around the world, in nation building
missions, then we`re going to have a serious problem coming down the road
and I`m going to prevent that.

OBAMA: We`re going to lead by shutting down Guantanamo and restoring
Habeas corpus in this country, so that we offer them an example.


O`DONNELL: Trump supporters have granted their candidate a license to lie
at will about anything because they believe that all politicians lie.

Which is why the single most important thing a candidate must do in running
against Donald Trump is never lie. Never say something that can`t be
proven untrue, like most things that Donald Trump says.

Hillary Clinton made that mistake this weekend in the Democratic debate.


CLINTON: He is becoming ISIS` best recruiter. They are going to people,
showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to
recruit more radical Jihadists.


O`DONNELL: An understandable exaggeration. An understandable mistake.
And Donald Trump of course demanded an apology for that falsehood because
no one is more outraged by lies than pathological liars like Donald Trump.

Instead, the Clinton campaign today decided to fight Trumpism with
Trumpism. As to an apology, the campaign issued a statement saying, “hell

They decided to follow the never apologize rule of the Trump campaign even
though what Hillary Clinton said is not true. Not provably true.

And so the Clinton campaign has once again confirmed for Trump supporters
that the right thing to do when you`re caught saying something untrue, when
you`re caught exaggerating, something that – saying something that cannot
be supported by fact.

The right thing to do is to never ever apologize. And the Clinton
campaign`s refusal to do the right thing, not out of respect for Donald
Trump who deserves none, but out of respect for the truth diminishes her in
this one instance.

Not to the Donald Trump level, no one could get that low, but her refusal
to simply say, hey, I`m sorry, I shouldn`t have suggested that ISIS is
using Donald Trump in recruitment videos now because we don`t yet know if
they`re using that.

Not saying that is a lost opportunity. There is nothing more winning than
a gracious, generous apology, especially when we all understand where
Hillary Clinton`s exaggeration came from.

Everyone understands that what Hillary Clinton said might not be true right
now at this moment but it is likely to become true.

And what she said does not compare in magnitude to any of Donald Trump`s
lies, from President Obama`s birth certificate through the lie about
thousands of people cheering on 9/11 in New Jersey.

There is no comparison between Hillary Clinton`s exaggeration, her minor
lie, if you will, and Donald Trump`s giant, constant, repeated lies.

But not in the minds of Trump supporters. Hillary Clinton had the chance
to teach Trump supporters the dignified way of dealing with a statement
that isn`t true, a statement that cannot be supported by fact.

She could have shown Donald Trump supporters what humility and dignity and
honesty looks like. Instead, she used the Trump tactic against Trump.

Joining us now Hunter Walker, national correspondent for Yahoo News, Matt
K. Lewis, senior contributor for the “Daily Caller”, columnist for “The
Week” and author of ” Too Dumb to Fail”.

And Sam Stein, senior politics editor at the “Huffington Post” and an Msnbc

Sam Stein!


O`DONNELL: Having heard my case about why a classic apology would have
been a nice thing to see here. What do you think?

Should Hillary Clinton have apologized? And I`d like you to analyze it on a
– as a political matter, as a political strategy, and in any other way
you`d like to.

STEIN: Well, I thought – I actually thought – I actually thought – I
thought you were right on.

I think that you assessed the issue correctly and you sort of noted
underneath everything else that the rarity with which politicians ever
apologize for either outright lies or misstatements or exaggerations is

And it would be a nice breath of fresh air I would say for a politician to
step forward and say, yes, I was wrong in this case.

And I actually don`t think it would cost her all that much. My guess is
that they calculated that if she were to back down to Trump, maybe some of
her Democratic supporters would have looked at it and said, do we really
want someone who is not going to fight this great, grand bully on the
Republican side of the aisle?

And that probably is one thing that fed into her calculus here. But I
think you`re right that it would have proven more effective, it`d have been
more gracious obviously, had she said, yes, there is no recruitment video
out there.

But the bigger problems of him feeding this sort of – this terrorist
ideology do exist and are really problematic and are substantively, you
know, something you should be worried about.

O`DONNELL: Well, you know, you talk about her supporters, Twitter is an
unscientific sample as we know –


But I tweeted a little while ago the question of should Hillary Clinton
apologize –

STEIN: And what did you get?

O`DONNELL: About this? Well, I got – everybody said no. Every single
Clinton supporter out there on my –

STEIN: Yes –

O`DONNELL: Twitter feed said absolutely no, she shouldn`t reply. Here`s
one from Frannie Ryan(ph), and she tweeted, “in keeping with Trump`s liar
status, HRC should just say, why, sir, I did apologize, did you and your
people miss it?”

And I replied to her saying, so you`re saying that Hillary Clinton should
handle this the way Donald Trump would handle this?

And Matt Lewis, that`s my point. Is you have a chance here to distinguish
yourself from Donald Trump and show the right way of handling something
like this because it makes it more difficult down the road, the thousands
of times Hillary Clinton is going to want to say what Donald Trump just
said is a lie.

look, I think that Hillary needed to, if they were going to walk away from
this, they needed to do it very quickly.

And just – she misspoke, she feels that, you know, Mr. Trump`s rhetoric is
dangerous and that it could inspire, you know, some backlash.

But once she enlists her team to start lying, too, and to start spinning
and they`ve been on TV making – oh, it wasn`t a video, but it was on the
internet or whatever.

Now, you know, they can`t back away from it, so they`re sort of trapped.
And I think what this does – it`s not a game-changing moment.

But I do think that what this does is it re-enforces the trustworthy notion
about Hillary. There is that stereotype about her as well.

So politically, this does matter. I think the problem is that partisans on
both sides of the aisle actually think it`s even – what you were saying
about the Trump supporters, I actually think it`s even worse than what you
were saying.

I think the part of it is lying is actually good because the ends justify
the means. And because you have to lie because the other side is going to

So in a way, lying and fighting and playing dirty has become a virtue.

O`DONNELL: So let`s listen to what Trump said about it tonight in Michigan
just about an hour and a half ago.


TRUMP: Donald Trump is on video and ISIS is using him on the video to
recruit. And it turned out to be a lie. She`s a liar – no, it turned out
to be a lie.


O`DONNELL: And Hunter Walker, if she had done the quick apology that, you
know, we don`t know that yet, and just saying we don`t know it yet.

And leaving the implication that they probably will use Trump on video,
which I think everyone is just waiting for at some point.

Trump tonight in that same moment would have then had to add, and he would
have added, well, you know, she apologized.

(AUDIO GAP 00:03:24-29) would have been there that this – what I would
call an exaggeration that she did or very minor sort of exaggeration,
colorful exaggeration that she did.

That she backed off of it immediately because she cares about truth in a
way that Donald Trump doesn`t.

speaking in moral terms, and let`s not forget this is politics.


O`DONNELL: No, I mean, let me – let me stop – Hunter, let me say it.
There`s two ways to look at it. I can make the moral case.

But I`m making the political case here, that for a political audience, you
should teach them the difference and you should not allow – you should
fight against the concept that all politicians lie –

WALKER: Right, but I don`t think there`s anything to be gained –

O`DONNELL: Because that`s fuel for Trump –

WALKER: Not only do I not think there`s anything to be gained from showing
weakness, but also fighting each other is exactly where both Hillary and
Trump want to be.

I talked to people on the Clinton campaign at their headquarters during a
debate watch-party they had, and this was a few months ago.

They were all talking about how Trump helps them. It`s like an open
secret. They think he illuminates the worst parts of the GOP.

So, they would love to be feuding directly with Donald Trump. But I will
make a separate point which is that I don`t really think she lied as much
as everyone is saying here.

She was speaking somewhat figuratively but the Clinton campaign has pointed
to Rita Katz, who is literally the preeminent analyst in this sphere.

And Katz has said, yes, there`s no video, there is no video, but ISIS is
talking about Donald Trump and they`re very happy about his arguments.

The same way that Clinton feels like Trump can help her, ISIS feels like
Trump can help them. And if Rita Katz says it – this is a woman who gets
every ISIS video first.

She has a long record of knowing what they`re saying when no one else does.
And that`s a lot of evidence as far as I am concerned.

LEWIS: No, but, no, let me just say, by that standard though, when Donald
Trump said that there were thousands and thousands of Muslims celebrating
in New Jersey, I could say, well, he was – he was probably right because
there were certainly some.

There`s a report I just saw today where there were pockets of it. So –
no, I think we need to hold our politicians accountable to be a little more
accurate and specific.

And so that`s a little bit – maybe granting him a little bit more leeway
than we should.

O`DONNELL: But you know, let me go back to Hunter`s point, because I think
it was a really good point.

What I am saying is, within the context of saying, you know, I shouldn`t
have put it that way, saying all the things you just said.

And saying here`s the evidence that I was hearing about this, who I was
hearing about. I shouldn`t have stated it that way, and I`m going to be –
you know, be more careful.

And then just be patient, you know, and we may be, you know, a few weeks
away from the first ISIS video that Donald Trump is in.

And – but I just think that if you allow Trump to define strength as never
apologizing, if you fall into that trap, he is going to win that contest.

There`s just no way to beat him at that. Hunter, go ahead.

WALKER: Well, I think you`re absolutely right that, that would have been
the best moral way to handle it. Maybe in one sense strategically.

And you know, I think I`m not alone, I think you`re not alone in wishing
that all of these campaigns would be a little more honest and a little more
moral in how they were dealing with each other.

O`DONNELL: All right, we`re going to have to take a break right here.
Coming up, Hillary Clinton wants everybody to love her as she said during
the debate and Bernie Sanders during the debate said, no, he doesn`t expect
everyone to love him.

And we also have an Msnbc exclusive coming up, video from inside Iraq
showing the fight against ISIS.

And in tonight`s LAST WORD, we`re going to meet a couple of guests who I
discovered on Twitter this weekend.


O`DONNELL: Today, almost exactly a year after President Obama declared the
end of the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan, six Americans were killed
and two more wounded in a suicide attack.

The U.S. service members had been called to a meeting with local Afghan
leaders in a small town northeast of Bagram Air Base.

As the Americans walked through the village, a lone suicide bomber on a
motorcycle drove into the group and detonated his suicide vest.

An Afghan interpreter was also wounded in that blast. It was the deadliest
attack on U.S. forces in Afghanistan in more than two years.

This month, the Pentagon issued a report on the Afghanistan war saying,
“security has deteriorated.” And Taliban is now launching “1,000
successful attacks per month.”

And for the first time ISIS has started mounting attacks in Afghanistan.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Donald Trump just said about an hour ago that he
doesn`t really want to murder reporters like his friend Vladimir Putin.



SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), VERMONT: So what we are showing, we are showing -
- and this is pretty revolutionary in a sense.

That you actually can run a serious, and we hope winning national campaign
without being dependent on billionaires and corporate America. And I`m
very proud of that.



O`DONNELL: That was Bernie Sanders in Sioux City, Iowa, tonight. Bernie
Sanders presidential campaign has broken a fundraising record set by
President Obama`s re-election campaign four years ago.

It`s not an amount of money, it is the number of contributions. At this
point, in President Obama`s re-election campaign, he reported 2.2 million

The Sanders campaign has now reported 2.3 million contributions. The
Sanders campaign says they broke the record during the Democratic debate
Saturday night in New Hampshire.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should corporate America love Hillary Clinton?

CLINTON: Everybody should.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will corporate America love a President Sanders?

SANDERS: No, I think they won`t.


Though Hillary and I have a difference as CEOs of large multinationals,
they like Hillary, they ain`t going to like me, and Wall Street is going to
like me even less.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Michael Hiltzik, Pulitzer Prize winning
business columnist for the “Los Angeles Times”.

Sam Stein is still with us. Michael, that fundraising number is quite
striking because he`s being compared to an incumbent president`s
fundraising power and that number of contributions is just stunning.

stunning and it`s inspiring. Certainly something that I think Senator
Sanders should be proud of.

And I think it does give some of us heart that maybe Citizens United wasn`t
the overwhelming force on behalf of the wealthy and corporate money that we

But it doesn`t mean that Citizens United is going away and that there isn`t
a lot of money coming from corporate sources into politics that we should
be concerned about.

O`DONNELL: And Sam Stein, Citizens United is having a kind of a rough year
with the Jeb Bush candidacy which was funded in a way that, you know,
Citizens United would be made easier.

And then there`s Trump there saying that I`m not using any of this
contributed money from the big contributors to these kinds of campaigns.

STEIN: Well, let me start with Bernie quickly, because I think that`s the
remarkable story.

Which is not just the number of contributors he`s had, but towards the end
of the last fundraising cycle, there was only about a few dozen or so of
people who had actually given the maximum amount of contribution.

Which means that of those 2.3 million donors that he has or contributors he
has, they can continue to give. It`s a fire hose of grass roots money that
will sustain him through the campaign.

And it`s a really incredible thing for him to have built as a senator from
Vermont, mind you, not a big fundraising state.

Now, as for Citizens United, yes, I think it`s true that the Super PAC
culture hasn`t had the sway that we all thought it would on a presidential

But I don`t think that is reason to say that this is not having an effect
on campaign finance in general. I think what you`re seeing is on lower
level elections, even senatorial elections, they have a massive sway.

And you could have a few contributors, a few donors simply overwhelm a very
small election by one check. And that`s what Citizens United did.

It doesn`t – maybe it didn`t affect the presidential races like we
thought, but lower down, it could have an enormous impact.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to more of what Bernie Sanders said about his
relationship with the Wall Street.


SANDERS: I don`t think I`m going to get a whole lot of campaign
contributions from Wall Street. I don`t have a Super PAC, I don`t want
campaign contributions from corporate America.

And let me be clear. While there`s some great corporations creating jobs
and trying to do the right thing, in my view, and I say this very

The greed of the billionaire class, the greed of Wall Street is destroying
this economy and is destroying the lives of millions of Americans.

We need an economy that works for the middle class, not just a handful of
billionaires and I will fight and lead to make that happen.


O`DONNELL: Michael, I had a guest on this program, Wall Street for Bernie.
Where there`s a bunch of people on Wall Street making serious money, who
like the sound of this, who know in their view – who agree with Bernie
Sanders notion of how much abuse goes on in their sector.

And which they think is unfair, which they`d like to see something happen.

HILTZIK: Well, I think a lot of people on Wall Street are concerned and
nervous. They understand that this sort of income and wealth inequality
that we`ve seen developing in this country has real social consequences.

And the social consequence that they develop are not going to be happy for
the Wall Street class. So, I think you will see some support for some of
these notions than you already have.

Now, that being said, I don`t see hedge fund operators like Paul Singer
lining up to support either Bernie Sanders or –

O`DONNELL: Right –

HILTZIK: Hillary Clinton. They`re putting their money behind Republicans.
I think the shareholding and the corporate executive class as a whole, and
overwhelmingly, are looking for a Republican to support.

They`re not – certainly Bernie Sanders would be their worst nightmare as
president. But they wouldn`t be that happy with Hillary Clinton.

They really want a Republican. They think Republican policies are best for

O`DONNELL: Sam Stein, I have good news for you, Donald –

STEIN: Yes –

O`DONNELL: Trump doesn`t want to kill you or at least says he doesn`t want
to kill you. He`s had the weekend to think about his praise from Vladimir
Putin and the issue of just how many reporters has Vladimir Putin had

And here is what Donald Trump said about it just about an hour and a half
ago tonight. Let`s listen to this.


TRUMP: He said nice things, I didn`t know, I`ve never met him, so I didn`t
know. And he said nice things. All of a sudden, I`m hearing things like -
- oh, isn`t it terrible that Putin is saying that.

That`s not terrible, that`s good. That`s like a good thing, not a bad
thing. And then they said, you know, he`s killed reporters.

And I don`t like that. I`m totally against that – by the way, I hate some
of these people but I`d never kill them. I hate them.


O`DONNELL: Sam, hates them but doesn`t want to kill them.

STEIN: Too bad –


O`DONNELL: A big – a big advance for Donald Trump.

STEIN: It`s too bad. I just got that security system installed in my
house and now he says he doesn`t want to kill us, so maybe I shouldn`t
install it.

I mean, it`s not – it`s not funny. It`s not funny. He`s talking about
killing reporters, I mean they don`t need to be such a buzz kill.

But, you know, it`s ridiculous that a presidential candidate is as an aside
alerting his crowds that, in fact, he doesn`t want to kill reporters.

Just think about that.

O`DONNELL: Yes, and Michael, it also shows as usual with Trump, this
relentless ignorance about everything.

And in this case the ignorance of what kind of bravery it takes in Putin`s
Russia to actually try to be an honest reporter.

HILTZIK: Well, that`s true. Not only in Putin`s Russia, but in so many
places around the world. And for Trump to be talking about how he hates
reporters – look, the irony of this is that he`s benefited from
journalistic –


HILTZIK: Coverage, probably more than any other candidate in the field –

STEIN: He loves reporters –

HILTZIK: Does. Yes, he loves reporters if they say what he likes, and if
they don`t, well, then he hates them and that`s very Putinesque actually.

O`DONNELL: Yes, it is. Michael Hiltzik and Sam Stein, thank you both for
joining me tonight –

STEIN: Thanks Lawrence –

O`DONNELL: I really appreciate it, thank you.

HILTZIK: My pleasure –

O`DONNELL: Up next, an Msnbc exclusive video of a fire-fight against ISIS
inside Iraq. This was taken by one of the Iraqis who was in that fight.



O`DONNELL: The commander of U.S. Forces in Iraq had some progress to
report today.


significantly and most recently we have begun to really make some progress
with our Iraqi security force partners in and around Ramadi. And, that
really validates the strategy of Training and equipping, advising and
assisting our Iraqi security force partners.

And, although they have their own ways of doing things and it may not
always be our way, it is in the end becoming increasingly effective as they
have pushed the enemy out of that very important city of Ramadi.


O`DONNELL: That is Lieutenant General Sean MacFarland who commands the
coalition fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria. MSNBC has exclusively obtained
battlefield video of Iraqi Security Forces in Ramadi, the capital of Iraq`s
Anbar province. The anti-ISIS tribal fighter recorded the video over the
last two weeks as Iraqi forces fought to reclaim that city.

Joining us now Cal Perry, MSNBC Senior Editor for digital and video
content. Cal, thanks very much for joining us tonight. This is a big
advance in this battle against ISIS, because now there is some video that
is being supplied that can be used in that public information war that is
going on over there.

We are so used to seeing and presenting the ISIS video that we get out of
Syria and Iraq, but this is the first look on the ground over Ramadi. This
is a city that did fall about five months ago to ISIS fighters.

And, in this video, we see a highway leading from east to west into that
city being fought over. That is going to be the main supply route that
runs into Ramadi as this battle sort of rages. And, this is all too
familiar for the city, for the United States military, which you heard
there General MacFarland talking about having trained some of these forces.
This is the 8th division of the Iraqi army that you see fighting there back
by tribal leaders.

So, this is Obama`s plan. This is the first sort of video of Obama`s plan
in action if you like. And, in the next video, you will see them as they
sort of take a schoolhouse. You will see something that we have never seen
before, which is the Iraqi army making the public statement and you see it
here. We should mention we have edited this video.

The fighting is fierce and the video is almost 30 minutes long in its total
length. But, they make it through this schoolhouse, Lawrence. And, in the
end, they unfurl the Iraqi flag. You heard General MacFarland there
talking about having trained some of these Iraqi forces. This was true in
2006 after U.S. Marines and more than 5,000 of them cleared this exact
city, these exact buildings. They trained Iraqi forces.

And, in talking to some of those individuals who did the training, some of
those special ops forces, they would tell us as reporters on the ground in
Iraq that you can train anyone to shoot a rifle straight, but you cannot
teach someone to fight for their country, to fight for Iraq. And, this is
a little bit of the first video, visual evidence we are seeing of the Iraqi
army standing up to ISIS in a key, a vital city of Ramadi, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: And, the key point, getting that flag up in the end. We have
another piece of video to see here that is more gruesome. What are we
going to see in this one, Cal?

PERRY: So, yes, heads up to our viewers here. This came tacked along to
the back of the video. And, what you are going to see here is the
aftermath of a very long day as we understand it, of fighting in the city
of Ramadi. So, these are dead ISIS fighters. Their bodies being kicked by
allegedly members of the Iraqi army. Again, this video supplied to us.

So, when you hear General MacFarland there talking about the need to train
and to train the trainer as the U.S. Military calls it, he says there we
take the good with the bad. That is obviously the bad. Keep in mind, of
course, the circumstances and what we see in these ISIS videos, this is
something that these individuals are living every day, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Cal Perry, thanks for joining us tonight.

Up next, President Obama says it is fair to criticize his strategy against
ISIS, and he thinks it is fair to criticize presidential candidates`
strategy against ISIS.



O`DONNELL: In an interview with NPR, President Obama responded to some of
the strategies for fighting ISIS that have been suggested by presidential
candidates. Here is what the President said about Donald Trump`s proposal
to bomb the heck out of them and Ted Cruz`s proposal to carpet bomb ISIS.


PRES. BARACK OBAMA, U.S. PRESIDENT: Well, when you listen to them, though,
and you ask, “Well, what exactly are you talking about?” “Well, we are
going to bomb more.” But, who is it that you are going to bomb? Where is
it that you are going to bomb? When you talk about something like carpet-
bombing, what do you mean?

If the suggestion is, is that we kill tens or hundreds of thousands of
innocent Syrians and Iraqis, that is not who we are and that would be a
strategy that would have an enormous backlash against the United States.
It would be terrible for our national security.


O`DONNELL: And, here is what the President said about establishing a no-
fly zone in Syria, a position advocated by Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, Chris
Christie, John Kasich, Marco Rubio.


PRES. OBAMA: The other new thing that people have suggested would be some
variation of a no-fly zone or a safe zone. This is something we have been
talking about for three or four years. The challenge there is that ISIL
does not have an air force, so the damage done there is not against ISIL,
it is against the Syrian regime.

Creating a safe zone for Syrian refugees, we have tested. We have looked
at repeatedly. The problem is, is that, again, without a large number of
troops on the ground, it is hard to create a safe zone like that. And,
that does not solve the ISIL problem.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now Hillary Mann Leverett, former State Department
Middle East Specialist under President George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
Also, with us Jonathan Stevenson, Professor at Strategic Studies at the
U.S. Naval War College, who worked for the National Security Council from
2011 to 2013.

Jonathan Stevenson, to this issue of bombing more, do we have more to bomb?
There is a question now of what targets are left after all of this bombing
that has gone on for so long already.

know, accelerating bombing and finding more targets is going to be
difficult, but one of the reasons that President Obama has – wanted more
special forces in with expanded mission of trying to find more targets and
to guide the targeting of them is, in fact, to try to find a discriminate
way to degrade ISIS` command and control and its ability to expand its
mandate in Iraq and Syria.

But, I do not think it is – you know, I think that, you know, the idea of
indiscriminate bombing, of simply bombing more, obviously is just going to
antagonize the people who ISIS is competing with other parties, more
moderate parties, for filthy and to do that obviously would be
counterproductive. It would just demonize the United States in the eyes of
people in the region.

O`DONNELL: And, Hillary Mann Leverett, what was your reaction to what the
President said about a no-fly zone and a safe zone within Syria?

I think he is right. I think creating a so-called safe zone in Syria is
something that, in fact – that the idea that the United States could do it
would be tantamount to war. That is what the former Secretary of Defense
Gates said to President Obama about Libya, that if we create a no-fly zone
there it will be war and there will be chaos and that is what happened.

Unfortunately, President Obama did not heed that kind of advice on Libya
and in the first – in the early years on Syria, he has now come around.
And, I think has a much more sustainable constructive policy, particularly
as it is going on – he is pursuing the diplomatic path with Secretary of
State Kerry.

But, this idea that somehow there is going to be some clean neat way to
establish a no-fly zone. You know, we did that in Libya. It led to war
and destruction of the state. We can continue to do that in Syria, but it
is a tried and true path to failure, more destruction.

O`DONNELL: Let us listen to more about what the President said in his NPR
interview about his strategy.


PRES. OBAMA: I think that there is a legitimate criticism of what I have
been doing and our administration has been doing in the sense that we have
not, you know, on a regular basis, I think, described all the work that we
have been doing for more than a year now to defeat ISIL.

And, so if people have not seen the fact that, in fact, 9,000 strikes have
been carried out about ISIL. If they do not know that towns like Sinjar
that were controlled by ISIL had been taken back or that is a town like
Tikrit that was controlled by ISIL now has been repopulated by previous
residents, then they might feel as if there is not enough of a response.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan Stevenson, how important is that communication level
of this job?

STEVENSON: I think it is a very – I think it is very important. I mean,
articles recently have shown that over the last year, roughly since the
American air campaign began in Syria and Iraq, that ISIL is, in fact, lost
territory, that it now controls less than it did at the beginning.

So, at least, provisionally, I mean although the air campaign perhaps have
not had spectacular results in terms of decimating ISIS or eradicating it,
it has been effective. I mean I think – so, the military measures are not
completely ineffective even if they are not – even if they are not

The thing that has been missing as I think Hillary suggested is the
political piece. There has not been a viable political process despite the
efforts of the Obama administration to generate one. Now, that seems to be
changing. The Vienna process got the United States, Saudi Arabia, Iran,
and Russia, all at the table. And, all willing at least to move forward,
though admittedly – you know, it is going to be a long haul.

And, now, crucially the United Nations says passed the unanimous – the
security council has passed – unanimously passed an amendment that is
going to re-enforce the process. So, you know, I do think that there are -
- the policy now is crystallized to a point, where it has much stronger
potential of working.

O`DONNELL: All right. We are out of time on this subject for tonight.
Hillary Mann Leverett and Jonathan Stevenson, thank you both for joining

Coming up, we have breaking news about the Sandra Bland case, the woman who
died after being arrested for a so-called traffic violation. That is
coming up.



O`DONNELL: We have breaking news from Texas tonight, where a grand jury
has decided not to indict any county jail employees in the death of Sandra
Bland. She was the 28-year-old Chicago woman, who was found dead in her
county jail cell in July, three days after being arrested by a state
trooper for allegedly changing lanes without a turn signal.

The contentious traffic stop was caught on dash cam video and ended in
Sandra Bland being arrested for assault. Medical examiners ruled her death
in custody was suicide by hanging, which her family disputes. The grand
jury has expected to reconvene in January to consider whether the trooper
who arrested Sandra Bland should face charges.

Coming up, a couple of guests who I discovered on Twitter this weekend.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE SPEAKER: Standing up there straight and proud and


O`DONNELL: They are not sports fans. Those people are workers at SpaceX.
The rocket company founded by Tesla car company founder Elon Musk.
Tonight`s SpaceX successfully launched the Falcon 9 Rocket into orbit from
Cape Canaveral to deliver 11 communication satellites. They were cheering
because SpaceX made history when the first stage of the Falcon 9 Rocket
successfully returned to Earth and landed itself upright.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER (voice-over): The Falcon has landed. Landing
operators move in procedure. Recovery that. Repeat.



O`DONNELL: And, now, for tonight`s “Last Word” which will go to two
guests, who I found on Twitter this weekend. Here is a couple my favorite
tweets of this weekend. Maria Hardeman tweeted, “Lawrence, thanks for
bringing K.I.N.D. into the light. My nephews chose to gift a full desk and
a girl`s full tuition instead of receiving gifts from me.”

And, Shannon Berg tweeted, “Lawrence, just bought two desks on behalf of my
kids. Love the K.I.N.D. Fund. Thank you.” As, you know, you can
contribute to the K.I.N.D. Fund by going to or you
can find out all about how we deliver desks to Kids in Needs of Desks, kids
in African schools that have never had desks.

You can also contribute to our girls tuition program to help keep girls in
high school in Malawi, where the girls` graduation rate is half the rate of
boys graduation, and that is mostly because tuition is a problem for high
schools. They do not have free high schools there.

And, when a family is faced with the painful economic decision of who to
send to high school, they will most likely choose one of the boys in the
family instead of a girl. You can contribute a desk or a girls`
scholarship in the name of anyone on your gift list and UNICEF will send
them an Acknowledgement of your gift.

And, here is my all-time favorite tweet of the weekend. These cute kids
sold baked goods to pay for four desks, eight kids going to the K.I.N.D.
Fund. Proud. Thanks, Lawrence, for the inspiration.

Joining us now those kids, Preston Lucy and Connor Grossman, who raised
money for the K.I.N.D. Fund this weekend. So, I saw that tweet. And,
Preston, you guys were close by here in Toluca Lake. Why did you decide to
do it?

originally my idea. Well, it was originally both of our ideas, sorry.
And, I just – well, we just thought it would be good to give back to other
kids in other countries.

O`DONNELL: Conner, when did you first hear about the K.I.N.D. Fund?

not really know about it. I have community service for school.


GROSSMAN: And, I heard about him doing a bake sale, so I came out and I
learned about the K.I.N.D. Fund. And, I was just thinking this morning
before I came that – about just taking for granted everything we have and
other people in Africa do not have that stuff.

O`DONNELL: Yes. Yes. So, you are going to get credit for community
service in school for doing this, I hope.


O`DONNELL: Great. That is great. And, so, how much money – how long
were you out there? Was it Saturday that you were out there?

LUCY: Yes.

O`DONNELL: And, how long were you guys out there?

LUCY: We were out there for about two hours and we raised about $130.

O`DONNELL: Oh, fantastic. And, you were selling this stuff right here,

LUCY: Yes.

O`DONNELL: These were some of the baked goods? OK. You are going to get
a big contribution from me for the rest of your baked goods there. It will
get us through the week here in the L.A. Studio.

Conner, you know, there are some schools where they have actually taken the
desks out of the classroom here in America to sort of show this example to
kids. And, that inspired them to raise a lot of money for the K.I.N.D.
Fund. And, what strikes me is when you are in school at your age and you
see these kids in our videos that are your age, it is something you can
understand immediately. Right?


O`DONNELL: It is one of those things where imagine you walked into school
tomorrow, you know, tomorrow, no desks at all. I mean, just imagine what
that would be like, Preston.

LUCY: Yes. I can imagine that.

O`DONNELL: Yes. Pretty tough. Well, we really appreciate it. Thank you
very much for doing this. And, I am going to give you your final
contribution for what you did out there the other day. Thank you very
much, Preston. I really appreciate it. Conner, thanks for coming in.

GROSSMAN: You are welcome.

O`DONNELL: Preston Lucy and Conner Grossman gets the “Last Word.” Thank
you very much. Chris Hayes is up next.


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