The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 5/24/2016

Joel Benenson, David Corn, Catherine Rampell, Rick Tyler, Richard Clarke, Rick Tyler, Maria Teresa Kumar, Susan Del Percio


Date: May 24, 2016

Guest: Joel Benenson, David Corn, Catherine Rampell, Rick Tyler, Richard 

Clarke, Rick Tyler, Maria Teresa Kumar, Susan Del Percio

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: That does it for us tonight, now it`s time for 

THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good evening Lawrence.  

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST:  Rachel, I know why you`re not going to the 

Donald Trump thing tomorrow night.  

MADDOW:  Well, I can come up with a number of reasons.  

O`DONNELL:  It`s because you`re really busy.  It`s you`re not going.  

You`re just not going. 

MADDOW:  Very important hairs that need washing, that`s right.  

O`DONNELL:  Thank you, Rachel.  

MADDOW:  Thanks, Lawrence.  

O`DONNELL:  Polls will be closing in Washington State.  An hour from now, 

we will have live coverage of the results of the Republican primary there 


I was speaking today to a 22-year-old voter who will be voting in her 

second presidential election this year and she has never heard of Vince 


Donald Trump is trying to change that.  And “New York Times” international 

affairs columnist Tom Friedman says that he thinks he knows who ISIS wants 

to win our presidential election. 


CONAN O`BRIEN, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST:  Have you noticed that there`s 

talk about this Trump fellow?  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  All he does is tear down people.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Revisiting decades-old allegations of sexual misconduct 

against Bill Clinton.  

BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST:  It`s kind of tawdry stuff.  

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I have to fight back the way I 

have to fight back.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Questioning the 1993 suicide of Clinton aide Vince 



stuff they said about her is bad? They accused me of murder.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  This subject of widely dismissed conspiracy theories.  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Yes, we`re in 1993 conspiracy theory territory right 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Donald Trump does not seem to be able to distinguish 

between a credible source and, say, a chain e-mail.  


finger on the nuclear button.  

TRUMP:  I`m only responding to what they do.  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Was he really making America great when he said I`m 

kind of excited about the housing crisis?  

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  You and I together, we`re not 

going to let him bankrupt America. 


TRUMP:  She`s been very nasty.  


is messy.  

TRUMP:  Hillary cannot even put away Bernie.  Crooked Hillary, she can`t 

put him away.  

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Will the convention be messy?  

SANDERS:  Well, of course it will be.  


O`DONNELL:  We`re an hour away from polls closing in Washington State where 

Republicans are holding their presidential primary tonight. 

Washington State operates its elections through a mail-in system.  They 

began receiving mail-in ballots on May 6th, that was two days after John 

Kasich dropped out of the race, leaving Donald Trump alone in the race for 

the Republican nomination.

We will have live coverage of the election results in Washington State 

tonight beginning in the next hour hosted by Chris Matthews. 

Donald Trump is on his way to the Republican presidential nomination, 

largely because millions of Republican voters apparently have difficulty 

separating facts from fiction. 

No one has more difficulty separating facts from fiction than Donald Trump.  

He has been diagnosed as a pathological liar by Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, as 

well as some mental health professionals who have written about what they 

think that they`re seeing when Donald Trump speaks. 

When a political candidate can`t separate facts from fiction, there is no 

limit to what he  might say about his opponents.  


CLINTON:  I know the Republicans have been mean to her and they say 

terrible things.  You`ve got to respect them.  They`re good at this. 

You think this stuff they said about her is bad, they accused me of murder. 


I mean, our memories are short, it`s what they do.  


O`DONNELL:  While he was serving as White House Counsel in the Clinton 

administration, Vince Foster committed suicide in a park in Virginia. 

The death was ruled a suicide.  Conspiracy theorists have long claimed that 

Vince Foster was murdered and now Donald Trump thinks they have a point. 

He told the “Washington Post”, “I don`t bring Foster`s death up because I 

don`t know enough, really, to discuss it. 

I will say there are people who continue to bring it up because they think 

it was absolutely a murder. 

I don`t do that because I don`t think it`s fair.”  And that is the classic 

Donald Trump move of saying I don`t talk about the thing I am talking about 

right now. 

Yesterday, the Trump campaign released a video with comments from women who 

claim to have been sexually abused and assaulted by Bill Clinton.

And last night on “Fox News”, Donald Trump explained to Bill O`Reilly that 

he had no  choice, just no choice about releasing that video.


O`REILLY:  I understand the Clinton attack machine, I got it, and I think 

it has to be dealt with somewhat. 

But I think maybe caution – 

TRUMP:  Bill, I don`t like doing that, I don`t like doing that, but I have 

no choice.  When she hits me on things, I just have no choice, so, you have 

to do it, it`s unfair. 

And you know, they`re dirty players, they`ve been dirty players 

historically and I have to fight back the way I have to fight back. 


O`DONNELL:  We`ll be joined tonight by our panel including David Corn, Rick 

Tyler and Catherine Rampell. 

But first with us tonight, Joel Benenson, senior strategist for Hillary 

Clinton`s presidential campaign, he was also a senior strategist for 

President Obama`s campaigns in 2008 and 2012.

So, there`s Donald Trump saying no choice about that video, absolutely no 

choice.  Had to do it. 

The election is in 2016, but I had to bring up stuff that the candidate`s 

husband was  allegedly involved in decades ago.  


see through with a phony argument.  

This is – I think they know what kind of campaigns Donald Trump has been 


He`s kind of slammed and slammed at every one of his Republican opponents, 

he`s going to try and do the same thing now. 

We`re going to stay focused on the issues that matter to people`s lives.  I 

don`t think people put any currency in what has been a discounted, highly 

dismissed allegation about what was a tragedy for someone in Washington a 

couple of decades ago. 

I think what`s happening with Trump right now, he`s unraveling a bit, I 

think he`s been called out on being unqualified when it comes to his 

credentials on foreign affairs, calling for more nuclear weapons in the 


And he`s doing what he does, he lashes out and starts name-calling and 

assailing people for a host of things. 

I think the American people want to know what are you going to do for me 

right now for – 


BENENSON:  My life –   

O`DONNELL:  So, is the campaign strategy to not comment on those kinds of 

accusations coming from Trump? I mean, if that is the strategy –   

BENENSON:  Oh, I think I just did.  

O`DONNELL:  Let me put it that way – 

BENENSON:  I think I characterized – 

O`DONNELL:  No, I`m right – 

BENENSON:  Them pretty well.  

O`DONNELL:  But there`s Bill Clinton, I mean – 

BENENSON:  They`re discredited – 

O`DONNELL:  Bill Clinton – 

BENENSON:  Discounted – 

O`DONNELL:  But Bill Clinton – 

BENENSON:  Attacks –   

O`DONNELL:  There and what we saw him say.  He was referring to the Vince 

Foster references that Donald Trump was making, wasn`t he? That`s what he 

was doing.  

BENENSON:  Sure he was.  

O`DONNELL:  So, is Bill Clinton – 

BENENSON:  He was talking about –  

O`DONNELL:  Is Bill Clinton going to continue to deal with those things as 

Donald Trump mentions them?  

BENENSON:  Well, I think as I just did, it`s to let people know these are, 

you know, attacks that have been highly examined, been dismissed, are not 

based in facts at all, and they`re typical of Donald Trump. 

Look, this is a guy who`s been kind of pretending and being a bit of a 

phony all the way  through his campaign.  He tells Mitt Romney to release 

his tax returns in 2012 –  

O`DONNELL:  That was then.  

BENENSON:  And now he won`t release – 

O`DONNELL:  Come on – 

BENENSON:  His tax returns, and when we find a couple of them what do we – 

O`DONNELL:  You know – 

BENENSON:  Find out? –

O`DONNELL:  What the difference is? 

BENENSON:  He paid zero in taxes – 

O`DONNELL:  Those are Romney`s returns and that is then – 

BENENSON:  Right – 

O`DONNELL:  A totally different case – 

BENENSON:  Zero in income taxes for a guy who claims to be a billionaire.  

O`DONNELL:  Right – 

BENENSON:  You know, I`ll give him credit, maybe he`s a billionaire, but 

zero taxes, you know what voters think when they think that?

This is a guy who`s trying to scam the system.  He`s a guy who`s trying to 

get by to take  care of himself. 

He`s a guy who rooted for the housing crash in 2007 who said I`ll swoop in 

and I`ll profit on the backs of people who are losing their homes.  

O`DONNELL:  Social media has never been more active, more important in 

campaigns.  We`ve never seen somebody who`s more active himself personally 

on social media if you just look at Twitter every night than Donald Trump. 

So, in your experience in dealing in campaigns in the past, most of the 

material you`ve had  to deal with would come in the way of negative TV ads. 

Now, he can just put something up on Instagram.  He can just tweet 

something – it`s a different level of engagement with kind of a different 

threshold to get over. 

How do you choose what you respond to in that and what you don`t respond 

to? And do you – 


O`DONNELL:  Worry about what seems to have been the mistake of the Bush 

campaign which was not responding directly to Donald Trump?  

BENENSON:  Well, look, I`m not going to comment on where Republicans went 

wrong in dealing with Donald Trump.  

What I think we know and have known on the Democratic side for a while is 

that the free media and social media plays a very big role, notwithstanding 

the money we spend on paid TV. 

You have to be disciplined.  We`re very focused on what we want to talk to 

the American people about. 

Presidential elections, Lawrence, at their core are a choice between two 

candidates.  Voters are pretty savvy, I never underestimate the American 


They`re going to look at these two people and say which one of these two 

candidates I`m looking at is talking about my life, making a meaningful 

change and difference in my life going forward.

And building the future I want for my family and the children – and the 

children I`m raising. 

As opposed to someone who`s railing against everybody, talking about 

banning Muslims, saying hateful, bigoted things in the campaign. 

That`s not the America people want.  They know we`re a diverse country.  

That`s our strength and that`s the kind of candidate that I think Hillary 

Clinton will represent to them. 

And we have to stay disciplined and stay focused on their lives because 

that`s what this election is ultimately about.  

O`DONNELL:  I want to ask you, before you go, one thing about the Sanders 

support – 

BENENSON:  Right – 

O`DONNELL:  And the interesting comparisons between Hillary Clinton 

supporters at this time eight years ago, they were expressing more 

reluctance about voting for President Obama – 


O`DONNELL:  Than the Sanders supporters are.  But there`s a big difference 

because there`s a policy overlap between Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders 

that did not exist eight years ago. 

I mean, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama agreed on every single thing 

except maybe one sentence of the healthcare plan –   

BENENSON:  Oh, we only had some differences – 


BENENSON:  On trade – 

O`DONNELL:  But let`s just – 


O`DONNELL:  Let`s just listen to the policy overlap between Bernie Sanders 

and Donald Trump. Let`s listen – 


O`DONNELL:  To this.  


SANDERS:  Our trade policies for decades, NAFTA, CAFTA, PNTR, PNTR with 

China, the TPP has been a disaster for working families.  

TRUMP:  The TPP is a horrible deal.  It is a deal that is going to lead to 

nothing but trouble.

SANDERS:  I am sick and tired of the greed of corporate America and the 

greed of Wall Street.

TRUMP:  These bankers are not the nicest people in the world, just don`t 

feel bad.  Somebody said, but you hurt the bank, I said the bank is 



O`DONNELL:  So, there is that policy overlap on TPP, it is conceivable that 

a Trump voter or a Sanders voter might move to Trump over things like TPP.  

BENENSON:  Look, I think when it comes to our economic future, what Hillary 

Clinton has argued for, against Bernie Sanders, and let`s keep in mind 

she`s got 3 million more votes than Senator Sanders, is saying that America 

has to compete and win in a global economy. 

The way we do that is by investing in manufacturing, making things here 

that we sell to 95 percent of the world`s consumers that live outside of 

the United States. 

It`s why states like Ohio, Michigan, North Carolina, have actually had 

record exports because they`ve been able to get the funding they need to 

make things and sell them overseas. 

We have to compete and win.  We believe and Hillary Clinton believes we can 

win in this global economy.

We`re not going to have a trade-free world, we`re going to have to sell our 

goods to the rest of the world. 

And that`s a solid, sound, trade policy that will help create jobs in 

America.  We have to enforce tough trade agreements, we have to negotiate 


And if they`re not working, we`ve got to renegotiate them.  And that`s been 

her position all the way through. 

The difference between her and Senator Sanders has been Senator Sanders 

says he opposes all  trade agreements, Hillary Clinton doesn`t. 


BENENSON:  She evaluates – 

O`DONNELL:  Right – 

BENENSON:  Each one and they have to be in our interest economically and in 

no national –


O`DONNELL:  So, if she`s elected president, she will still have the fast-

track authority that President Obama achieved because it over – it runs 

past his presidency. 

Does that mean she will drop TPP when elected president or pick it up and 

try to push it forward?  

BENENSON:  She has said there are provisions in that agreement that she 

would want to renegotiate and make stronger. 

In particular, the nations of orange provisions which she feels gives him 

advantages to China that they shouldn`t have in a global economy. 

We can compete with China and we can win, we just can`t give them a free 

pass and that`s what she`ll get tougher on when she`s president.  

O`DONNELL:  Joel Benenson, thanks for joining us tonight – 

BENENSON:  Thank you, Lawrence – 

O`DONNELL:  Really appreciate it – 

BENENSON:  Great – 

O`DONNELL:  Thank you.  Back with us now, the panel actually getting their 

first word in here. 

David Corn, Rick Tyler, Catherine Rampell.  David, I don`t know that we`ve 

seen this in campaigning before, what Donald Trump is trying to do in the 

reach-backs into Bill  Clinton`s past and putting it on Hillary Clinton.

And I don`t see that Hillary Clinton has ever had to deal with it at this 

level in her Senate campaigns or the past presidential campaigns.  


back a century or so to when they were campaigns talking about whether a 

presidential candidate had fathered a child illegitimately or not.

But what we see with Donald Trump really is, he`s trying to create a toxic 

stew surrounding the Clinton campaign. 

And it doesn`t matter what he says, he uses the words, murder, you know, 

women, abuse, enabling, it`s all about creating an impression because 

ultimately, I think this campaign is boiling down to two major themes. 

On his side, it`s anger, it`s anger, it`s attitude.  If you like him, you -

- if you like his attitude, you support him. 

And what Hillary Clinton is offering is, you know, not as, you know, 

motivating emotionally, it`s confidence. 

I can do the job, here are my priorities, I`ll get things done.  And so, he 

wants to keep this campaign on emotional terms, about passion and about 


Whether you should fear ISIS or fear the Clintons because they kill people.  

And it`s all part of the same thing.  

O`DONNELL:  Catherine, the younger voters and the voters who don`t, you 

know, study their flash cards of political memories all day are going to 

have trouble with names like Vince Foster that they`ve never heard of.

And a lot of the way Trump presents this is in that quick code language 

that worked –  


O`DONNELL:  It worked in, you know, 1996 when those kinds of names – 

RAMPELL:  Well, I think – 

O`DONNELL:  Were fresh.  

RAMPLELL:  You know what? I`m not even sure it was so successful in 1996, 

especially on the sex scandal stuff. 

I mean, if you remember, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton`s approval 

ratings went through the roof in the late `90s when they were under heavy 

attack as a result of these various sex scandals. 

So, it`s not clear that repeating the same strategy is actually going to be 

so effective  today, especially when memories are not as fresh.  

O`DONNELL:  Rick Tyler, Joel Benenson doesn`t want to refer to the lessons 

learned by Republicans running against Donald Trump. 

Are there lessons learned by Republicans running against Donald Trump that 

Hillary Clinton should be applying here?  


some – I`m not sure that our economy – you know, look, Joel is brilliant, 

I respect him, I like him.

But I think in one respect he`s – he may not be right and that is, he says 

we`re going to talk about the issues people care about. 

We`ve not been talking about almost nearly any issues – 

O`DONNELL:  Right, yes – 

TYLER:  And Donald Trump is a master of the new media.  He`s also used many 

of the network  programs, he calls in early in the morning and begins to 

drive the day.

He knows how to – what we call in the business, win the day, win the day 

in the media.  

He calls in early and gets to – with his Twitter feed early, calls into 

the shows and they`re talking about what he wants to talk about all day 


And Hillary struck back a little bit, but the big problem that Hillary has 

is as David referred to, the voters are angry. 

And what they`re angry at is politicians.  It doesn`t matter what 

politicians say anymore.

That`s what we learned in the Republican.  You can reason with them, you 

can use the greatest eloquent rhetoric, you`re a politician. 

You`re not telling the truth, they want someone who`s not a politician, and 

that is I think most of Donald Trump`s – a lot of Donald Trump`s success 

beside that – 

CORN:  So, that – 

TYLER:  For being a celebrity –   

CORN:  That`s certainly true within the Republican electorate which has 

been angry for years, I think that anger has been fuelled –  

TYLER:  Have you been to a Bernie rally?  

CORN:  Yes, but I still think that Bernie – you know, if you ask Bernie`s 

supporters, if they`ll support Hillary, a lot do say yes – 

TYLER:  Yes – 

CORN:  And what are they listening to when they listen to Bernie? They`re 

actually listening to policy ideas. 

This guy is policy-driven, he`s message-driven.  Donald Trump`s campaign is 

anger-driven, it`s anger over any analysis, anger over any policy. 

So, I do think that`s true for the Republican electorate and we`re going to 

have this great political science experiment this Fall about how farther 

that extends to independents and to the Democratic electorate.  

TYLER:  The base is, Bernie is talking about NAFTA, Hillary supported 

NAFTA, Bill Clinton put it into place.

I think that`s going to be a real stumbling block.  

O`DONNELL:  All right, we`re going to have to take a quick break here.  

Coming up, Donald Trump as commander-in-chief. 

Why the “New York Times” columnist Tom Friedman says in his words, there is 

no question  that ISIS wants Donald Trump to be president. 

And former national security and counterterrorism official Richard Clarke 

will join us. President Obama`s approval rating is the highest it`s been 

since he began his second term.

Steve Kornacki will join us at the big board tonight to look at just how 

that might affect the general election. 


O`DONNELL:  North Korea`s ambassador to the United Kingdom said today that 

his country has no interest in Donald Trump`s offer to open nuclear talks 

with North Korea leader Kim Jong-un.  


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We don`t take it as a meaningful one.  We see it as 

nothing but  dramatics of a popular actor to create a juncture favorable to 

his election campaign.  


O`DONNELL:  Swing and a miss by the greatest negotiator of all time.  Up 

next, Richard Clarke joins us to discuss Donald Trump as commander-in-chief 

and what it would mean for national security.  


O`DONNELL:  American voters aren`t the only ones with an abiding interest 

in the outcome of the presidential election. 

People around the world watch our presidential campaigns and have their 

favorite candidates. 

And though our polls try to tell us in great detail what every segment of 

our society is  thinking about the presidential election every week, what 

the rest of the world is thinking is largely guess-work. 

And what the Islamic State is thinking about our presidential election is 

something pollsters will never be able to tell us. 

Here is “New York Times” columnist Thomas Friedman`s educated guess.  


THOMAS FRIEDMAN, AUTHOR & JOURNALIST:  I fear that ISIS, you know, would 

believe that Trump would radicalize the situation even more.

So, I`m not blaming Trump for that, I`m simply saying that`s how they would 

see the dynamics of it.  

DON IMUS, RADIO HOST:  You mean, you think ISIS wants Trump to be 


FRIEDMAN:  Oh, no question about it.  You know, they would want someone who 

they think would, you know, would do something more extreme than the other.

You know, push America back into the Middle East and therefore inflame the 

situation and the ways that ISIS thinks would benefit them.  


O`DONNELL:  Joining the discussion now, Richard Clarke, he served the last 

three presidents as a senior White House adviser on issues from cyber 

security to counterterrorism. 

He is also the author of the book “Pinnacle Event”.  Richard Clarke, first 

of all, your reaction to Tom Friedman`s guess about the Islamic State`s 

favorite candidate?  


Tom is probably right, but for a different reason than what he said. 

ISIS wants to recruit people in the Muslim world by telling them that the 

United States hates them. 

Hates the Muslim world.  By saying that the United States is at war with 

the Muslim world.  

We and our Arab allies have spent a lot of time and effort trying to 

persuade people that that`s not true. 

But Donald Trump win or lose is going to get tens of millions of votes for 

president and that will allow ISIS and al Qaeda to say look, I told you so, 

Americans hate anybody in the  Islamic world and they are at war with us.  

O`DONNELL:  Let`s listen to what Bill Bradley said to Chuck Todd today 

about this.  


BRADLEY:  I look at Donald Trump and I say who do you trust with your life? 

I think people ask themselves that question. 

I don`t trust my life with Donald Trump.  I don`t trust him with his finger 

on the nuclear  button. 

Just look how impulsive he`s been throughout this whole campaign.  You need 

steadiness if you are the President of the United States.  


O`DONNELL:  Richard Clarke, Bill Bradley at this point is just a voter, 

that`s his responsibility here.

But there will be people if Donald Trump walks into that White House on 

inauguration day, there will be people whose sworn duty it is working there 

and the kind of jobs that you had  serving a president to advise a 

president facing these international terrorism. 

How do you suppose those people, the people in the kinds of jobs that you 

used to have there will deal with someone like a President Trump?  

CLARKE:  Well, first of all, it`s hard to know who they will be because 

most of the experts have said they won`t work for him. 

And it`s difficult to know what his policy is on these issues like 

terrorism.  He said about ISIS that he has a secret plan to end the war 

with ISIS.

He`s going to destroy ISIS, but it`s a secret how he`s going to do it.  And 

I`m old enough to remember the last time we had a Republican candidate 

saying he had a secret plan to end the war, that was Richard Nixon in 1968.

And his secret plan caused more Americans to die in Vietnam after he got 

elected than  before.  I`m very distrustful of secret plans.  

O`DONNELL:  Let`s listen to what Hillary Clinton said today about this.  


CLINTON:  What he`s saying is being heard all over the world.  And we just 

had proof that ISIS and other terrorist organizations are using his words 

to recruit. 

They just take it off the media, and they put it in their online 

propaganda.  And they say this man is running for president. 

He`s the presumptive Republican nominee, look what he`s saying about 

Muslims.  This is not just offensive, this is dangerous.  


O`DONNELL:  Richard Clarke, your reaction to that?  

CLARKE:  Well, they don`t even have to put it in their propaganda because 

it`s out there in regular media.

And 1.3 billion Muslims are seeing it every day, and being reminded of it 

in all of their  television broadcasts and all of their talk-shows.

They`re reminded that one of the two American candidates for president has 

said that he won`t let Muslims into the United States. 

That`s turning off a very large number of people, perhaps turning some 

people into ISIS  supporters. 

It`s losing ground that we have fought hard to regain against al Qaeda and 

against ISIS.  

O`DONNELL:  I`d like you to listen to something that Perry O`Brien said 

yesterday, he`s one of the veterans who protested at Trump Tower yesterday.  

Let`s listen to this.  


PERRY O`BRIEN, VETERAN:  I think many of us gathered here feel that Donald 

Trump as commander-in-chief would put American lives at risk and 

particularly put our fellow U.S. troops who are still serving overseas in 

greater danger. 

He`s shown to be reckless, impulsive and combines inexperience with bravado 

and confidence which is a deadly combination as many of us who have served 

overseas know. 

It`s guys like that that get people killed on battlefields.  


O`DONNELL:  Combines inexperience with bravado and confidence.  What`s your 

reaction to what Perry O`Brien said?  

CLARKE:  Well, and indecision.  We don`t know and I don`t think he knows 

what he would do.  One day he said he would send 20,000 to 30,000 more 

troops to fight ISIS, and the week later he said, no, he never said that. 

So, it`s very difficult to know what he would do because I don`t think he 

knows, and he`s not getting advice from anybody who`s an expert on the 


So, if he is elected president, it`s very difficult to know.  He`s very 


I mean, it`s a good thing the North Koreans are not going to meet with him, 

you know, if he becomes president because you can imagine that that meeting 

could break out into a nuclear war.  

O`DONNELL:  Richard Clarke, thank you very much for joining us tonight, 

really appreciate it.  

CLARKE:  Thank you, Lawrence.  

O`DONNELL:  Up next, Donald Trump, the $6 million man for veterans.  

Remember when he said he raised $6 million for veterans? He didn`t. 

And remember when he said he gave a million dollars of his own money that 

night for  veterans? He didn`t, that`s next.  



JERRY LEWIS, COMEDIAN:  All right.   All right.   Break it up.   Break it 

up.   What is this here?   Break it up.   I think it is about time, do not 



LEWIS:  I think it is about time.  



O`DONNELL:  That was Jerry Lewis and a couple of guys who dropped by to 

help him with his telethon for muscular dystrophy in 1976.  It is a 

telethon that Jerry Lewis did for 44 years, raising over $2 billion.   And, 

throughout the telethon, every telethon, Jerry Lewis kept you posted hour 

by hour on exactly how much money he was raising.  

And, here is the amazing thing about Jerry Lewis telethon.  There was 

always a difference between the number that Jerry announced at the end of 

the telethon and the actual amount that he ended up raising.  And, the 

actual amount was always more than he announced on T.V.  because when the 

telethon went off the air, the telephones kept ringing and people kept 

giving for hours.  

And, so, as much credit as Jerry Lewis got for how much money he was 

raising on T.V., he never actually got the full credit for the full amounts 

he was raising in those telethons on television?   Jerry Lewis was able to 

keep track of every dollar he was raising every hour of the telethon.   But 

Donald Trump is no Jerry Lewis.  


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  This is a special night for me 

and I had no idea this was going to happen.   We started out literally 24 

hours ago, maybe less, we had no idea and we went out.   We set up the 

website.   I called some friends and we just cracked – the sign was just 

given.   We just cracked $6 million, right?   $6 million.  




TRUMP:  Donald Trump gave $1 million, OK?  


O`DONNELL:  So, what happened to the $6 million that Donald Trump said he 

raised on January 28th?  Back with us, MSNBC Contributors, Catherine 

Rampell, Rick Tyler and David Corn.   And, Catherine, the “Washington Post” 

did the home work on this, found out the most they could vaguely 

approximate was half the $6 million.

RAMPELL:  Right.

O`DONNELL:  $3.1 million and absolute zero from Donald Trump – until, 

until apparently last night after veterans went to Trump tower, protested, 

after we were talking about it on this program.   

RAMPELL:  After his own spokesman claimed that the money had already been 



RAMPELL:  Mind you.  I mean it is interesting, if a candidate on “The 

Apprentice” had made the same accounting screw-up that Donald Trump had 

made, they probably would have gotten fired, I would say.   

And, the only reason why he actually ended up giving the money is because 

members of the lame stream media held his feet to the fire and kept asking 

and kept asking and he kept blowing them off.   

O`DONNELL:  Let us listen to what U.S.  Marine Corps Veteran Alexander 

McCoy said about this last night.   



transparency.   There has been no accountability.   The numbers that they 

have been quoting had been going all over the place.   At the fund raiser, 

he claimed for certain that they had $6 million raised.   


MCCOY:  Now, the campaign was saying $4.5 million.   Now, 4 to 6?   How 

much money?   We do not really know.   Where is it going?   They will not 

really tell us.   We have news organizations having to trying to track it 



O`DONNELL:  And, David Corn, as he was talking, Donald Trump was angrily 

tweeting about the media being so nasty about this.   

CORN:  Well, you know, it is not a screw-up.  I will take a little issue 

with you.  It is part of his general SOP.  He is a con man.  He has 

exaggerated every number that has ever come between his brain and his lips.  

And, so, you know, he just throws numbers out.  

It does not really matter and this is one reason why it is important to see 

his taxes, you know, to segueway here a bit.  Because taxes are where you 

see how much money you make in charitable donations.  He has a Trump 

foundation.  He donates absolutely nothing.


CORN:  Not a penny to the Trump foundation.  It is all from other sources 

and he says, “Well, I give it myself, well then you can see that on his 


O`DONNELL:  Right.

CORN:  And, we can see how much he pays on his taxes.  There is no number 

he has ever used that you should take at face value.  And, so that is why 

the taxes and any returns from these veterans groups, to some groups he 

supported in the past are not even real veterans groups, according to our 

other organizations and charitable watchdogs.  

RAMPELL:  And, when he released a list or his campaign released a list of 

all of the charitable donations that he had made over, I do not know, the 

last several years or something like that, it was basically free rounds of 

golf –   

O`DONNELL:  Yes.  Yes, no cash.   

RAMPELL:  – that his many clubs had given.  All in kinds.   

O`DONNELL:  Yes.  Rick Tyler, so, the question here obviously becomes 

political.  I mean, here is Trump, and that night he was, of course, 

skipping the debate.


O`DONNELL:  The FOX News debate because he was afraid of another Megyn 

Kelly question, Fox News debate in Iowa.  He was skipping it and saying, “I 

am going to do something more important.  I am going to raise – I have 

raised $6 million,” which he did not.  

So, he gets up there and he lies about how much money they are raising that 

night.  He allows his spokesperson to lie for the last few days about him 

having given the million dollars already.  Then when he tells the 

“Washington Post” today, “I just gave the million dollars yesterday.”  He 

then says that his campaign manager, who was lying about it already, would 

have had no idea whether I gave the money before or not.  

So, in the way that whole thing plays out, after Marco Rubio labelled him a 

con man, after Ted Cruz called him a con man, after others have called him 

a con man, Hillary Clinton Clinton`s Super PAC has an ad calling him a con 

man.  The one thing you do not want to get caught doing in the campaign is 

being a con man.  Would not that be the one thing you are trying to avoid.   

TYLER:  It is except that the voters think the politicians are actually the 

con man.  So, there is a natural tension between Donald Trump, where 

everybody is looking at him as a con man.  By the way, he is famous for 

coming into this town, leaving a fundraiser and saying, “Put me down for 20 

and that is the end of it.



TYLER:  We have heard that story many times.  But, look, he is running 

against established politicians.  He vanquished 14 of them in the 

republican primary.  Now, he is running against the quintessential 

politician, who has been around for decades and he is reminding them that 

they are the con men.   

O`DONNELL:  Talk about the difference, though, between the dynamics in a 

republican primary –

TYLER:  Right.

O`DONNELL:  – versus where he is now in the general election.  Are you 

saying that there really is not a difference between?  

TYLER:  I think there are some differences.  A lot of people – there is a 

certain segment of the population who is going to vote for Hillary Clinton 

for many different reasons.  But, there is a large population, I believe, 

and we do not know yet, that is right now attached to Bernie Sanders.  

The population that is turning out and the thing that this campaign is 

centered on ironically is white working class and two candidates have them.  

Donald Trump has them and Bernie Sanders has them.  And, if Hillary Clinton 

cannot maintain them, Donald Trump will get them.  So,the question to your 

question is which con man do you believe?  

O`DONNELL:  David, does this have traction?  Every time one of these crazy 

Trump things comes up –

CORN:  Yes.

O`DONNELL:  We say, “Will this affect the voters?”  What we have been 

saying up to now is, “Will it affect republican primary voters?”

CORN:  Yes.  Yes.

O`DONNELL:  Now, we are talking about a different group.  What has changed?  

CORN:  Well, it is a group of people who have decided not to vote in 

republican primaries.  And, will they be susceptible to these sort of lines 

of argument?  Well – especially on the women`s issues, when they hear more 

of the ads, more of the clips from Howard Stern when he is dissing women in 

the worst terms, ways that seem to be misogyny to me.  

You know, if you hear enough of that, will that keep him toxic?  I mean, I 

think that is what – you know, we talked with Joel Benenson earlier, you 

did, about what their goal is.  Because I think they have to keep making 

him toxic, radioactive, unacceptable in every term, because otherwise, 

there are parts of his appeal that are appealing.  


TYLER:  Except people who were making the accusations are politicians.   

CORN:  Well, that is a problem, but there is also some – the media and the 

media has a role in vetting both candidates.   

TYLER:  They would come in second.   


O`DONNELL:  But Catherine specifically to the veterans, he has made such a 

big deal of Donald Trump will be the greatest ever for the veterans.  And, 

here he is –   

RAMPELL:  He is going to be the greatest ever for everyone.   

O`DONNELL:  Yes, but the veterans he has been very specific about and this 

is a very specific accusation about him and veterans.   

RAMPELL:  This is not the only way that he has let down the veterans, mind 

you.  He dissed P.O.W.s, remember?

O`DONNELL:  Yes, right.

RAMPELL:  He, you know, not only did he dodge the draft himself, he has 

made light of people who served in Vietnam talking about how his womanizing 

and potential exposure to STDs was his own personal Vietnam.  I mean these 

are not things that are respectful of people who actually wear uniforms and 

defend our freedoms overseas.   

O`DONNELL:  All right.  Quick break here.  David Corn, Rick Tyler and 

Catherine Rampell, thank you all for joining us tonight.   

Coming up, how President Obama`s popularity could affect the general 




O`DONNELL:  We are 17 minutes from poll closing in Washington state 

tonight, but first here is how it looks on the campaign trail today.  



months to go till the election and the race is already getting, well, down 

into the mud.   



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER:  Donald Trump going for the jag already.   



UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER:  It started with Donald Trump unleashing an 

Instagram ad swiping at Bill Clinton`s sexual past.   




years old conspiracy theory over the death of former Deputy White House 

Council Vince Foster.   




continuing to insist they are not going to engage in these personal 




TRUMP:  Hillary Clinton will be so bad for our economy, so bad for jobs.   




are entitled to your own opinion but you are not entitled to your own 

facts, right?




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER:  She is in a two-pronged fight.   




Hillary Clinton are battling for votes in California.   



BERNIE SANDERS, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  There are 475 delegates up for 




CLINTON:  Thank you, Riverside! 



WELKER:  How can you argue that this primary battle is not in some ways 

hurting her?




UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER:  Would Bernie Sanders be hurting Hillary 

Clinton if it turns out that she is the nominee?  

UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER:  Actually, he is.  I mean some people would 

argue yes, some people would argue no.  I think there is a lot of people 

that just are not going to support Hillary.   



SANDERS:  We are going to win here in California and win big.   



WELKER:  Your main goal is to defeat Donald Trump.   



SANDERS:  Donald Trump is toast.   



WELKER:  Do you feel a sense of loyalty to the Democratic Party?  

SANDERS:  I have a very strong sense that Donald Trump would be a disaster 

if he were elected president of the United States.   



O`DONNELL:  Well, the disapproval ratings for Donald Trump and Hillary 

Clinton are reaching record highs.  President Obama now has the highest 

approval ratings he has had since his second inauguration.  MSNBC Political 

Correspondent Steve Kornacki joins us mow with a look at what that could 

mean for the presidential campaign.   


Lawrence, because there is this thing where it is tough for one political 

party to control the White House for three consecutive terms.  That is what 

democrats – that is what Hillary will be trying to pull off here.  

So, we thought we could take a look at the last several two-term presidents 

like Barack Obama is right now, where they stood at this point in their 

presidency, this point in the campaign to replace them and what it meant 

for how that campaign turned out.  

So, you start with Barack Obama, as you say, his numbers have ticked up 

over 50 percent right now, 51 percent approval rating.  He had been stuck 

in the mid-40s for a lot of his term.  So, sort of a high watermark here 

for Barack Obama.  

Let us compare it, though, obviously a lot better than the last two-term 

president.  This time in 2008, George W. Bush`s approval ratings were south 

of 30 percent.  Remember, he did not even appear at the republican national 

convention that summer.  

His endorsement of John McCain was an event where it seemed like John 

McCain was trying to keep as much distance as he could.  Bush stayed off 

the campaign trail in 2008.  If you look back in 2008, here is Bill 

Clinton.  He was at 60 percent, but this comes with a big asterisk, this 

was in the aftermath of the Monica Lewinsky affair.  

There were all sorts of controversy among democrats.  Should Clinton be 

campaigning for Al Gore?  Should he stay on the sidelines?  In the end, Al 

Gore decided, there is too much risk.  Bill Clinton is going to stay on the 

sidelines with that 60 percent approval rating, because he was afraid that 

the personal shortcomings of Bill Clinton will offend voters.

And, then, you can go back to Ronald Reagan, 1988.  Reagan was at just 48 

percent.  This was actually lower than Obama is right now.  Reagan, though, 

he was on his way back up.  He had been weighted down by the Iran-contra 

scandal of 1986 to 1987.  

Certainly, in the fall of `88, he was very active on the campaign trail for 

his vice president, George Bush, Sr., who won.  So, actually, if there is a 

comparable one here, it is probably is Reagan.   

O`DONNELL:  Thanks, Steve.  Fascinating stuff.   

Coming up, will Donald Trump`s attacks on Bill Clinton hurt Hillary 

Clinton?  Joining us next, Susan Del Percio and Maria Teresa Kumar.   



TRUMP:  We cannot have four more years of Obama and I think it is going to 

be Obama-light.  If it is Hillary, it is Obama-life.  If this group ever 

gets into the White House again, we are not going to have a country.   


O`DONNELL:  Joining us now, Susan Del Percio, a republican strategist who 

served in the administration of New York Mayok Rudy Giuliani and MSNBC 

Contributor Maria Teresa Kumar.  

Susan, the Trump attacks on Hillary Clinton via her husband, you remember 

the `90s.  You remember the dynamics of that.  I do not know what the 

models are to use for this.  I am not sure whatever the lessons of the `90s 

were work now.   



DEL PERCIO:  It does not apply.  We have also never seen the two leading 

candidates has such high negative numbers going into the general elections.  

So, the models have been broken.  I would argue just with Donald Trump in 

the race that probably breaks every model to mankind.


DEL PERCIO:  The fact that he has done this, everyone – you know, it 

sounds surprising, did he jump the shark?  Did he go too far?  Not in 

Donald Trumpland.  And, he is still right now, trying to get the Republican 

Party united.  And, the best way to unite the Republican Party is to go 

after Bill and Hillary Clinton.  And, that is what he is doing.   

O`DONNELL:  Yes.  So, there is that, Maria Teresa, that he is still in that 

process of bringing in the Cruz voters, bringing in those people, who did 

not want to vote for him.  And, he is showing you, “Look, this is how hard 

I will hit her.”   


that is actually was unfortunately appealing for mobilizing the space.  

And, he has let a genie out of the bottle that whether or not he wins or 

loses, the next candidate is basically primed to reap the benefits of 

something that has become pretty ugly in politics.

And, I do not think we have ever seen this, at least to the level of that.  

The difference between why people do not like Hillary is that they have a 

fundamental problem and they feel like she is elitist.  People do not like 

Donald Trump is because they feel unsafe in their communities.  I mean it 

is a very stark difference.   

DEL PERCIO:  Wait, but the next candidate – you know, the next race, they 

have to be a Donald Trump complete outsider to reproduce this.  This has 

never happened before because no politician has ever dared gone there 

before because they do not even know how to run that kind of race.   

KUMAR:  Well, what is interesting is that there is – I think everybody, 

the voting public, they all understand that Donald Trump, he, himself, has 

skeletons in his closet that might mirror a lot of these allegations.  He 

does not seem to care.  So, when you are trying to do opposition research, 

how do you compete against that?  

DEL PERCIO:  But, the public does not judge him and it must be driving the 

Hillary Clinton folks crazy.  The public does not judge him the way they 

judge other politicians.  They judge him whether as a celebrity –   

KUMAR:  As the outsider he claims to be.   

DEL PERCIO:  – as a celebrity, as a businessman, they do not hold them to 

the same standards.  So, he says – he wants it to happen.  I think he is 

using this debate, Bill Clinton, frankly, to really get him to explode on 



KUMAR:  No.  I think he is actually trying to diminish Bill Clinton, so 

that Hillary pulls him back and does not use him, just similarly like how 

Al Gore did not use him.  He has the `90s record that actually had the 

highest press for a lot of individuals right now, but cannot remember that 

or who are living with their parents and remember what their parents used 

to tell them what the `90s were like.  So, it is tough.   

O`DONNELL:  You mentioned that the next candidate or the model – what 

candidates are learning now is you have to be an outsider, which is awful 

bad news for senators.  But look who the other big outsider is.  A kind of 

a career politician, Bernie Sanders, you know, mayor –


O`DONNELL:  Member of the House of Representatives, senator.  And, he is 

playing the outsider role in a totally different way and doing it on 


DEL PERCIO:  Yes.  And, that is why if you have someone who is not part of 

the political system they play by one set of the rules.  And, even Bernie 

Sanders is still playing by a certain set.  

Remember when he did that first debate and he said “No one cares about your 

e-mails” and he put that to bed really quickly.  That is because he still 

was playing with some set of standard political rules – 

KUMAR:  Decorum.   

DEL PERCIO:  Yes.  Decorum, then there is that.   


O`DONNELL:  Let us listen to what Donald Trump said tonight in New Mexico 

at a rally talking about Hillary Clinton.   


TRUMP:  She is a total lightweight, believe me.  I watch her speaking.  She 

always uses the teleprompter.  I watch her speaking.  We are going to win 

north and south and east and west.  


And, I will never say this, but she screams.  It drives me crazy.  I did 

not say it.  I cannot listen.  She goes “And Donald Trump is a terrible 

person.  And, he wanted to buy housing when it was at a low point.”  Who 

the hell does not?  Who does not?  



O`DONNELL:  So, Maria Teresa, that is his defense of the Clinton campaign 

coming after him for trying to be a profiteer on the big housing loses that 

people suffered.   

KUMAR:  I think he is basically trying to tell people, “Look, you know, I 

basically went to bargain basement K-Mart and got whatever I wanted and you 

should, too.”  But he uses this as bait-and-switch because he actually does 

not have deep policy recommendations and actually I do not think he has 


But, when you are listening to him there.  You actually feel like he is 

talking in code to people that had been in a marriage for way too long and 

they actually are tired of listening to their wife speak and all this and 

that gins it up.  

You are like, “He is the guy I actually want to have a beer with, he may 

understood my marital problems.”  I do not know how effective that is in 

the long term, but he is ginning up his base.   

DEL PERCIO:  But, this is widely part of a strategy that the Clintons are 

going to use as far as saying they are going to go after his business 

dealings, whether his bankruptcies.  This is going to – they are basically 

going to try to bain capital him, exactly what Obama`s folks did to –

KUMAR:  Mitt Romney.   

DEL PERCIO:  Mitt Romney.  Yes, exactly.

O`DONNELL:  And, that will be our “Last Word” tonight.  Susan Del Percio 

and Maria Teresa Kumar, thank you.  

KUMAR:  Thank you.

DEL PERCIO:  Thank you.

O`DONNELL:  We are seconds away from the polls closing in Washinton States 

Republican Primary.  Chris Matthews continues our live coverage right now.   


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