The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 8/4/2016
Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
Date: August 4, 2016
Guest: Eugene Robinson, Katie Packer, Ben Schreckinger, Alex Isbell, Steve
Clemens, Karine Jean-Pierre, Steve McMahon
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: That does it for us tonight, thanks for being
with us, we`ll see you again tomorrow, now it`s time for THE LAST WORD with
Lawrence O`Donnell, good evening Lawrence.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Rachel, thank you, thank you, thank you
for teeing up my segment about Melania Trump.
MADDOW: Excellent, so glad –
O`DONNELL: You just –
MADDOW: It`s not about Michelle Obama`s arms.
O`DONNELL: No –
MADDOW: Look –
O`DONNELL: This is about Melania Trump and it turns out she might – and
Donald Trump size anyway be guilty of something worse than plagiarism.
MADDOW: Oh, God, build –
O`DONNELL: Yes –
MADDOW: A wall –
O`DONNELL: Yes –
MADDOW: Thank you my friend –
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel, thank you. So, let this be kind of a
programming warning to you Melania Trump fans out there.
You might have a problem with the story we`re going to have to discuss
tonight about how she came to the United States from Slovenia.
It could be that Donald Trump is married to the kind of person he says he
hates the most. Immigrants who come to the United States and work here
But first, somewhere along the line, I don`t know where Donald Trump
learned or just decided to pronounce an “h” as a “y”.
And so, to put it in language that even Donald Trump can understand.
According to a bunch of new polls, if the election were held today, Donald
Trump would be humiliated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Of course, the elections
will not be rigged, what does that mean?
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: It`s a rigged system.
OBAMA: That`s ridiculous.
TRUMP: I`m afraid the election is going to be rigged.
OBAMA: That doesn`t make any sense –
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: He`s had a pretty strange run
since the convention.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He makes more gaps than I can keep up with.
CHUCK TODD, MODERATOR, MEET THE PRESS: The polls look like it could be
disastrous by next week for Donald Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A new Nbc News-“Wall Street Journal” poll shows that
Hillary Clinton has opened up a 9-poing lead over Donald Trump.
PAUL MANAFORT, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: We don`t plan on winning in August,
we plan on winning in November.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You would think that we ought to be focusing on Hillary
Clinton and on all of her deficiencies.
TRUMP: The queen of corruption.
SEN. HARRY REID (D), NEVADA: He is the nominee of the Republican Party,
they`re stuck with him, there`s no way out of that.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Anyone you can provoke with a
tweet should not be anywhere near nuclear weapons.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can really picture Donald Trump in that national
OBAMA: I obviously have a very strong opinion about the two candidates who
are running here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I know there are probably reasons not to use
nuclear weapons. I can`t think of one, but I`m open to hearing them. Meat
loaf your thoughts.
OBAMA: I would ask all of you to just make your own judgment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should I bomb Gary Busey?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Forty three, remember that number, 43. It is a very important
number in our political history and it`s a number that could humiliate
Donald Trump – 43.
I actually forgot the importance of that number for a while and was
reminded of it the hard way. It was in Bill Clinton`s first year as
president, the first major bill that he tried to get through Congress is
exactly the same thing actually that Hillary Clinton says she will try to
get through Congress.
It`s also an idea that Donald Trump supports, but I don`t think he realizes
that it would have to actually go through Congress.
It was a jobs bill, a stimulus bill filled with infrastructure spending for
roads, bridges, mass transit, airports, all over the country.
You`ve heard Donald Trump say he wants to rebuild all that stuff. But
others say, I don`t think he realizes that it means getting a big new
spending bill through Congress which is one of the hardest things you can
try to get through Congress.
Robert Byrd, one of the great masters of the Senate`s legislative procedure
was the floor manager of that bill in Bill Clinton`s presidency, that very
And the Democrats were confident that Senator Byrd could get the job done
because he always got the job done in these situations on the Senate floor.
And Senator Byrd pulled some pretty flashy parliamentary maneuvers to move
the bill forward in the Senate, but he got caught on the one-trip wire that
even a master of the Senate can`t skip over – a cloture vote.
As no one outside of Washington knew then, and now everyone knows it takes
60 votes to end debate in the Senate and move to a final vote on
That means it only takes 41 votes to stop just about anything in the
Senate. And in those days, there were 43 Republicans in the Senate.
Over the course of several days, Senator Byrd moved for cloture four times.
Each time there were 43 votes against cloture. Forty three votes to kill
And finally the Democrats gave up, and more amazingly to our Senate
staffers sitting on the Senate floor that day, the legendary Senator Byrd
We`ve never seen that before. And then the most unlikely person to say
anything important in the Senate at the time, Chuck Grassley rose on the
Republican side of the floor.
Senator Grassley was in his 12th year in the Senate then and still
ignorable since he didn`t hold any position of power in the Senate and
wasn`t exactly an interesting speaker.
But he said something then that I will never forget. For the first and
only time, Chuck Grassley spoke directly to what was going through my mind.
How unfair it is that in a vote of 57 to 43, 43 wins. Only in the United
States Senate could 43 percent of a vote be a winning percentage.
Senator Grassley addressed his comments to all of his colleagues on the
other side of the aisle who were thinking what I was thinking and who were
horrified that 43 percent was the winning percentage in the Senate that
Senator Grassley said, you should remember that the current president of
the United States was elected with 43 percent of the vote.
Chuck Grassley is now in his 35th year in the Senate and he`s never had a
better line on the Senate floor than he did that day.
I had forgotten then that Bill Clinton had been elected in a three-way race
with George Bush and Ross Perot with only 43 percent of the vote, and I sat
there thinking, well, we don`t have a quick come back to that line, and we
No Democratic Senator chose to argue with Chuck Grassley on that point.
And what I saw then clearly when Chuck Grassley said that about Bill
Clinton winning the presidency with 43 percent of the vote was real anger,
real bitterness, a real sense of injustice in the Senate, Grassley and
other Republican senators on the floor that day.
You could feel how they felt it was an almost illegitimate presidency, his
presidency winning with 43 percent of the vote.
None of them had seen that before, and it surely shaped the condescending
and defiant attitude they had toward Bill Clinton on every piece of
legislation that he proposed – the 43 percent president. And tonight, 23
years after Chuck Grassley engraved the number 43 in my memory forever.
The new Nbc News poll shows Hillary Clinton in the lead for the presidency
with 43 percent of the vote, Donald Trump at 34 percent, Gary Johnson at
10, Jill Stein at 5 percent.
Look at how that compares to 1992. Bill Clinton got 43 percent, George
Bush 37, Ross Perot, 19. That picture shows that we`ve been here before.
Forty three percent for Clinton as a first-time presidential nominee in a
multi-candidate field for the presidency.
There`s been some speculation among political observers that in this four-
way race this year, it could reduce the frontrunners` electoral vote-count
so much that no one wins the 270 electoral votes necessary to win the
So, it`s worth remembering what 43 percent of the vote translated to in the
electoral college, and this is where Chuck Grassley`s lesson to the Senate
about the 43 percent president failed to tell the most important part of
And that is that Bill Clinton`s 43 percent turned out to be a landslide in
the electoral college. Bill Clinton won a 100 more electoral votes than he
needed, 370, 370 to 168.
That was the electoral college result. That`s more electoral college votes
than George W. Bush or Barack Obama ever won, even though Barack Obama won
a clear majority of the popular vote.
And so, according to the latest polls, if the election were held today, 43
percent could be a landslide win for Hillary Clinton. She could get 200
more electoral votes than Donald Trump.
If the election were held today according to these polls, Hillary Clinton
would humiliate Donald Trump more thoroughly, and completely and
permanently than Donald Trump has ever humiliated himself.
Donald Trump would be America and the world`s biggest loser if the election
were held today. The word “Trump” would change its meaning to loser,
that`s if Hillary Clinton just got 43 percent of the vote.
But other polls now are showing her getting more than that. Other polls
show Hillary Clinton getting somewhere around the same amount 44-45
“Fox”-“Cnn” poll has her 45, “Fox News” has her at 44, and a new
McClatchy/Marist poll, this is a bit of an outlier has Hillary Clinton at
But the striking part is, it shows a much bigger lead over Donald Trump who
is way down at 31 percent. And that kind of margin would mean an even
bigger wipe out for Donald Trump in the electoral college.
If the McClatchy poll is right and the election were held today, Donald
Trump would be vying for biggest loser in the history of presidential
elections and he would probably be dragging down other Republicans on the
ballot with him in states around the country.
To the point where he would single-handedly deliver control of the United
States Senate to the Democrats. Which is why Donald Trump no longer does
this at his rallies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: One of the polls just came out, isn`t that a beautiful sight.
Beautiful, I love it. One of the polls – you know, I only use like the
ones where we`re doing well, but we`re doing well in most of them.
So, the polls that are coming out now have me with a massive lead. We have
the most loyal people of anybody, and that`s in the polls, that`s not me
I went through the roof with the polls, I`ve been number one in the polls
almost right from that first day. Number one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now Eugene Robinson; Pulitzer-prize winning opinion
writer for the “Washington Post” and an Msnbc political analyst.
Also with us, Katie Packer; a Republican strategist and founder of Our
Principles; an anti-Trump PAC. She`s also an Msnbc contributor.
Gene, I don`t know, he failed to mention any of the polls today. You know
EUGENE ROBINSON, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: Yes –
O`DONNELL: First 20 minutes of the Trump rally that`s about the polls,
that wasn`t about the polls today. I can`t figure out why?
ROBINSON: It must have slipped his mind. I`m sure he`ll get back to it in
the next rally. Actually, I don`t think he will once the polls completely
I mean, look, what has happened is the – both conventions and certainly
the aftermath of the conventions have in total been pretty disastrous for
He got arguably a bit of a bump from his convention. He gave it all back
and more than the Democrats had a very good convention, but Hillary Clinton
got a bounce.
And then Donald Trump over the last several days with his inexplicable
reaction to the Khan family with, you know, kicking the baby out of the
press conference, refusing to endorse the speaker of the house in his
I mean, all this stuff has not only raised questions about his suitability
as president, but raised questions about his mental competence and that`s
not a good thing if you`re running for president.
You know, you can`t win the presidency in August, arguably you could lose
it in August, I`m not saying Donald Trump has, but this has been a really
O`DONNELL: Katie Packer, I would like to unburden myself of something that
has been bothering me all year and see if we have any agreement on this.
And that is, during the primaries, Donald Trump would, you know, attack
John McCain and his poll numbers would not be hurt and then they`d go up a
little bit and everyone would say, oh, that didn`t hurt him.
And then he would announce, you know, he wants to ban Muslims and the poll
numbers would go up, and everyone in the Republican primaries, the poll
numbers would go up.
Everyone would say that didn`t hurt him. And what I kept saying was, he`s
running for president of the United States, not president of the Republican
Every one of these things is hurting him in the general election, every one
of them, just wait until we get to the real general election poll and you
will see an accumulation of damage that he`s been doing to himself all
KATIE PACKER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yes, absolutely, you know, we were
campaigning very aggressively in the primary on the fact that these kinds
of things were going to be damaging in a general election and that`s why we
thought it was a bad choice.
And he ultimately didn`t really win over the Republican Party, if you
remember. You know, he actually won a minority of Republican voters over
Didn`t really win the hearts and souls of Republican voters, but they have
sort of tried to rally around the guy. And what we`ve seen in all of these
examples you`ve shown over the last week is just such an example of his
incredibly thin skin.
And that he just can`t help himself any time he`s attacked to sort of come
back with a ridiculous amount of force that keeps all these stories in the
news, and they do continue to hurt him because he just can`t help himself
and he`s way too thin-skinned.
O`DONNELL: Eugene Robinson, your newspaper is reporting desperate
fundraising plea by Paul Ryan tonight –
ROBINSON: Yes –
O`DONNELL: Using an interesting turn of phrase, I want to read this from
the “Washington Post”. It says, “house Speaker Paul D. Ryan sent an urgent
fundraising appeal on Thursday evening that warned, “if we failed to
protect our majority in Congress, we could be handing President Hillary
Clinton a blank check.”” They couldn`t be clearer about what they think is
ROBINSON: Yes, I mean, first of all, Paul Ryan is – has had a bad few
weeks, right? You know, he felt he had to endorse Trump because of his
stature as the highest ranking Republican. He`s trying to keep the party
Obviously, he did it holding his nose. Every few days he has to come out
and to announce something Trump has said or done while at the same time not
taking back his endorsement.
And then Trump goes out of his way in an interview with the “Washington
Post” to insult Ryan by refusing to endorse him and using the very phrasing
that Paul Ryan used, saying “I`m not there yet.”
He came back to that in the interview with our reporter, Phil Rucker, just
to make the point, just to needle at Paul Ryan. And so, I think Ryan, in
this sense, has just about had it.
He like a lot of other prominent Republicans in Washington actually think -
- and this is my projection on what I think he thinks.
Actually thinks Donald Trump is going to lose and that they better do what
they can to save the Senate and the house.
O`DONNELL: And Katie Packer, Republicans have been here before and it`s
now getting really striking how many parallels are developing between Bill
Clinton presidential campaigns and now Hillary Clinton`s.
The Republicans did a similar fundraising message in 1996 in his re-
election campaign at this point, you`ll remember Bill Clinton was 18 points
ahead of Bob Dole.
And in their – and in congressional fundraising appeals, they kept saying,
you know, you don`t want to give a blank check to President Clinton. They
weren`t even – they weren`t even pretending there was a chance of a
president at all.
PACKER: Well, at this point it`s just smart politics. And I think you`re
going to start to see both the house and Senate candidates starting to
distance themselves and to try to sort of run as a check-and-balance on
And if you remember throughout the last several months, Paul Ryan who is
literally one of the best guys I`ve ever known in politics.
He`s just a good guy and even his opponents mostly agree with that, has
been trying to talk about substantive things that Republicans don`t
normally talk about addressing poverty. Addressing sort of inequality in
this country. Things that Republicans traditionally don`t talk about.
And he just runs up against this Trump wall trying to have a positive
message for Republicans, and I do think it`s very frustrating for Speaker
Ryan and his team to have somebody that`s just playing games when they`re
trying to actually move an agenda forward.
O`DONNELL: All right, well, there`s no doubt these polls will tighten up
as soon as Donald Trump stops saying and doing stupid things. So, we`re
sure we`re going to see much tighter polls.
Eugene Robinson and Katie Packer, thank you both for joining us tonight.
PACKER: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
PACKER: Coming up, the latest possible scandal to hit Trump campaign got
started as only a Trump campaign scandal could, by naked pictures of the
third Mrs. Trump in the “New York Post”.
And later, President Obama was asked today if he`s worried about Donald
Trump receiving national security briefings.
O`DONNELL: Speaking of running for the lifeboats on the Trump tunic, how
do you like this campaign ad from Republican Congressman Mike Coffman of
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MIKE COFFMAN (R), COLORADO: People ask me, what do you think about
Trump? Honestly, I don`t care for him much and I certainly don`t trust
I`m a Marine, for me, country comes first. My duty is always to you. So,
if Donald Trump is the president, I`ll stand up to him, plain and simple.
And if Hillary wins, I`ll hold her accountable every step of the way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That ad will start airing tomorrow along with a version of him
speaking Spanish, so Donald Trump will have no idea what he`s saying.
Up next, did Melania Trump do the thing that Donald Trump hates the most?
Work illegally in this country?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: Because we want our children and all children
in this nation to know –
MELANIA TRUMP, WIFE OF DONALD TRUMP: Because we want our children in this
nation to know –
OBAMA: That the only limit to the height of your achievement –
TRUMP: That the only limit to your achievement –
OBAMA: Is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work hard for
TRUMP: Is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Well, one of the achievements that Melania Trump was not so
willing to work for was a college degree. But her website falsely claim
that she did graduate from college in Slovenia.
A website that has since that mistake has been discovered was eliminated.
Website just wiped out, the story gone, doesn`t exist.
And at the time, it seemed that the Trump world preferred to eliminate the
website completely rather than just correct that one falsehood on the
website. Why would they do that? Maybe it wasn`t the only falsehood in
Melania Trump`s biography.
“Politico” reports today that there are some serious problems with the
Trump family story about how Melania Trump came to this story. So serious
that President Trump`s first lady could be the kind of person he hates the
An immigrant who worked in the United States illegally. It all started as
only a Trump family story could with naked pictures in the “New York Post”
Melania Trump posed for the pictures in 1995 with the way she tells the
story of her life now. She first arrived in the United States a year
later, in 1996.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I grew up in Slovenia, and I went to school there, I studied design
and architecture, and then I moved to Milan and Paris to live there.
And I had successful modeling career, I came to New York 1996.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: So, the question now is what kind of visa did Melania Trump
have when she began working in the United States?
Was it legal for Mrs. Trump to work here or was she part of the great wave
of illegal immigration that produces illegal workers according to her
husband that are destroying America?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I follow the law. I follow a law the way it`s supposed to be. I
never thought to stay here without papers. I had visa, I travel every few
months back to the country, to Slovenia to stamp the visa.
I came back, I applied for the green card. I applied for the citizenship
later on after many years of green card. So, I went by system. I went by
And you should do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Alex Isbell, an immigration attorney in
Philadelphia and Ben Schreckinger, a reporter at “Politico” covering
Ben, the – one of the blurry parts of this story is that when we hear
Melania Trump talk about it, she never specifies what kind of visa she had
at the different stages of her American experience.
BEN SCHRECKINGER, REPORTER, POLITICO: That`s right, and from the
description we just heard from her in which she was going back every few
months to Europe to get her visa stamped, which is a description she`s made
of her experience more than once.
That sounds like a B1 or a B2 visa, the kind of thing you get as a tourist
or a business traveler and the kind of thing that wouldn`t permit you to
work as a model.
O`DONNELL: And your – Ben, your story sort of spooked the Trump campaign
into releasing a statement today about her history. They released it in
It`s in writing, it says, “I have at all times been in full compliance with
the immigration laws of this country, period. Any allegations of the
contrary is simply untrue.”
But Alex Isbell, that statement like everything else that Trump have said
about this never refers to any specific kind of visa as she worked her way
along, eventually up to getting a green card before she married Donald
ALEX ISBELL, IMMIGRATION LAWYER: Exactly, so to date, the statements at
the Trump campaign have made have been platitudes, very vague statements
about compliance with immigration laws of this country and all applicable
O`DONNELL: And so what – the possibilities here, Alex, include that she
came on a tourist visa, something like that, she started working on that
visa and that`s why she was going home every six months or so, so she could
keep that visa, at least, looking right in the passport.
But at some point, at some point she manages to get a green card. How do
you – how would you pole vault from a tourist visa to a green card? What
kind of other visas do you think would – she would have obtained along the
ISBELL: Sure. I think that the idea that she was modeling in the United
States using a B2 visitor`s visa or a B1 business visa based on her trips
to get the visa renewed.
That would have been at an airport not actually in Slovenia. But I think
that she in all likelihood was using a B2 to act as a model in the United
States in terms of pole vaulting or transitioning out of her status as a
visitor to someone with a green card.
The – of course, this is speculation, I haven`t seen her file and I don`t
know much about her personally. But I would suspect that she received
something called an EB-1 green card for a person of extraordinary ability.
Certainly her modeling career about the time she would have gotten a green
card, which based on her naturalization date would have been in 2001.
That was really when she was at the height of her modeling career. You had
the “Harper`s Bazaar” spread.
You had her in the “Sports Illustrated” swimsuit issue, and that – those
are the kind of achievements that would enable someone to qualify, at least
present a colorable case for an EB-1 extraordinary ability green card.
O`DONNELL: Alex, is it possible that, that EB-1 would have been the first
legal work document that she had to work in the United States?
ISBELL: Someone who has a traditional bread and butter work visa, which is
called an H-1B, it does include models of sustained acclaim, but someone
who has a proper work visa doesn`t need to be traveling out of the United
States every couple of months to use – Mrs. Trump`s own words to get a
visa stamped to renew their status.
If you have a work visa, you could remain in the United States for up to
three years without having to do anything with immigration, and
potentially, much longer without ever having to travel outside of the
O`DONNELL: Ben Schreckinger, another problem for the Trump campaign here
is that Donald Trump has come out against H-IB visas. He have said, he
would end forever the use of H-IB visas and it may be that was one of the
visas that his wife used to legally work in this country.
SCHRECKINGER: That`s right. The Italian businessman and associate of
Donald Trump who was Melania`s agent at the time, has now said that she got
an H-IB in 1996. If you look at the way – if you look at, for example,
Melania`s statement today, she refers to reporting about her immigration
status in 1996. The problem is what was happened before 1996. It appears
she was in the country in 1995 modeling.
O`DONNELL: All right. We`re going to have to leave it there for tonight.
Alex Isabel (ph) and Ben Schreckinger, thank you both very much for joining
SCHRECKINGER: Thank you very much, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Up next, is President Obama worried or we should say maybe, how
worried is President Obama about Donald Trump getting national security
briefings. He answered that question today.
O`DONNELL: After meeting today at the Pentagon about combating ISIS,
President Obama was asked if he`s concerned that Donald Trump will be
receiving national security briefings about ISIS and other issues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We are going to
go by the law, which is that both tradition and the law that if somebody is
the nominee, the Republican nominee for president, they need to get
security briefings so that if they were to win, they are not starting from
scratch. They have been told these are classified briefings and if they
want to be president, they`ve got to start acting like president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Steve Clemons, Editor -at-Large of the
“Atlantic” and MSNBC Contributor.
Steve, so often, the president makes thing sound simple. If they want to
be president, they have to start acting like president. Does he have any
idea how difficult that is for Donald Trump?
STEVE CLEMONS, EDITOR -AT-LARGE OF THE ATLANTIC, MSNBC Contributor: You
can see the anguish on Obama`s face just saying what he said, because he
clearly is worried that by implication of what he`s saying is that Donald
Trump won`t be responsible with the classified information he`s hearing.
And he worries that that – and he said many times, that he sees Donald
Trump as unfit to be president of the United States and he`s so
uncomfortable saying that.
And even later in the press conference, Lawrence, he said, you know, if he
wins he`ll be responsible and follow the will of the people. But you look
at the body language and he just grimaces.
So I think there`s an element where I think he`s made clear that other
people he`s ran against, other Republicans he`s had differences with, he
never questioned their patriotism, never questioned their sense of duty to
the country. They had differences and they would – could agree to
disagree and move on.
But with Donald Trump, it`s a very different game for President Obama.
O`DONNELL: It is just so hard to believe that Donald Trump could get the
security briefing in a morning, and then go out to rally audience in the
afternoon and not brag about it, and not say, “I`ve got a security briefing
this morning. It`s really bad out there.” It`s just – anyway. This is a
very important …
CLEMONS: I mean, it reminds you of like what Tim Kaine was saying at the
convention, believe me, I know, and here`s what I know.
CLEMONS: You can imagine him saying believe me, and referring to the
O`DONNELL: There`s a very troubling poll number that`s come out for the
Trump campaign, and it`s one of the leads on issue that he had over Hillary
Clinton. This is the question of who do you trust on terrorism and
national security. In the middle of May, he had a 12-point lead on Hillary
Clinton on that issue, 52-40.
Now, it is tied. There`s no lead. It`s 47-47. Trump has no advantage on
one of the issues that he has banged away at as hard as anything else he
has said, that lead has evaporated for him.
CLEMONS: What is really interesting here and with all due respect to the
Hillary Clinton campaign, who we`ve not heard much from, despite their best
efforts because he`s stealing all the headlines, he`s kicked down his own
So, yeah, he was in the lead and she gave a compelling presentation at the
convention, but what Donald Trump is doing and we`re finally beginning to
see it happen, I think, is that his comments about NATO, his comments about
the Khan family, his disrespect for the flag, for the purple heart, he`s
really kicked down his own hill.
O`DONNELL: Yeah. And we`re going to talk about this later in the war room
(ph) but when he`s doing that most professionals advice to the Clinton
campaign is, try to let him have as much of the spotlight as possible.
Don`t say anything particularly clever today so that you get headlines, let
him get all these presence.
CLEMONS: It`s working.
O`DONNELL: Steve Clemons, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I
really appreciate it.
CLEMONS: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, $400 million cash, cash to Iran. Sounds bad,
especially if you know absolutely nothing about it like, say, Donald Trump.
President Obama explains it all, next.
O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s lesson in governing for Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: 400 million in cash being flown in
an airplane to Iran. I wonder where that money really goes by the way,
right. I wonder where it really goes. Well, it went to either in their
pockets, which I actually think, more so, or towards terrorism, probably a
combination of both. So $400 million in cash, now, you real – who can
authorize even in terms of a president, who can authorize $400,000 in cash.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was Donald Trump and Fox News` second day in a row talking
about the big pile of cash delivered to Iran. And once again, it fell to
President Obama to explain to Donald Trump and to Fox News how the world
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We announced these payments in January, many months ago. There
wasn`t a secret. We announced them for – to all of you. Josh did a
briefing on them. This wasn`t some nefarious deal.
And at that time, we`ve explained that Iran had pressed a claim before an
international tribunal about them recovering money of theirs that we had
frozen that, as a consequence of its working its way through the
international tribunal, it was the assessment of our lawyers that we were
now at a point where there was significant litigation risk and we could end
up costing ourselves billions of dollars. It was their advice and
suggestion that we settle and that`s what these payments represent.
The reason that we had to give them cash is precisely because we are so
strict in maintaining sanctions and we do not have a banking relationship
with Iran, that we couldn`t send them a check. And we could not wire the
money. And it is not, at all, clear to me why it is that cash, as opposed
to a check or a wire transfer, has made this into a news story, maybe
because it kind of feels like some spying – yeah, some crime novel because
cash was exchanged.
The reason cash was exchanged is because we don`t have banking relationship
with Iran, which is precisely part of the pressure that we were able to
apply to them so that they would ship a whole bunch of nuclear material out
and close down a bunch of facilities that, as I remember two years ago,
three years ago, five years ago, was people`s top fear and priority that we
make sure Iran doesn`t have break out nuclear capacity. They don`t. This
O`DONNELL: Coming up in the “war room” (ph) how do you manage success?
This is trickier than you might think. How the Clinton campaign is
reacting to all the good news in the polls.
O`DONNELL: Every turn in the campaign presents new challenges and new
decisions. We`ll go inside the Clinton-Warren tonight to see what all new
poll numbers mean for the next stage of that campaign. But first, here is
how it looked today on the campaign trail.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, (R) CANDIDATE FOR VICE PRESIDENT: I can promise you the day
Donald Trump becomes president of the United States of America, the change
will be huge.
TIM KAINE, (D) CANDIDATE FOR VICE PRESIDENT: Hillary and I win this
November, you`ll have not one but two people in the White House who
understand the unique set of challenges facing America cities.
PENCE: When Donald Trump does his talk, he doesn`t go tiptoeing around
thousands of rules of political correctness.
TRUMP: She deleted the e-mails to cover up her crime. She lied about it
all over. If I ever gave the answer that she gave to Chris Robbins (ph),
it would be pretty close to execution.
PENCE: Where else would an independent spirit like Donald Trump find a
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are the controversies wearing on you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes they are, but not as much as they are my wife.
REID: Secretary Clinton`s opponent is ego maniac.
HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Do you want a president who
stands for your fired or one who stands for you`re hired?
REID: The woman running for president of the United States is not only the
most qualified person, she`s the most intelligent ever running for
CLINTON: Donald Trump said he can`t make his suits, or his ties, or his
shirts, or his furniture in the United States. Well, we just put up a
website and we`re telling him about 100 places where he can actually make
all of those things right here in America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: In tonight`s campaign “War Room,” the Clinton campaign has had
a very good week in the polls. In addition to leading in all the national
polls, recently released battleground state polls show big lose for Hillary
Clinton. In Florida, Hillary Clinton`s up 4. In Michigan, Hillary
Clinton`s up 9. In Pennsylvania, she is up 13. And in New Hampshire,
Hillary Clinton is ahead by 15 points.
There was a state poll released this week that showed Donald Trump in the
lead. That was in Georgia. And it`s not good for him. It`s a little in
the margin of errors, Trump at 46, Hillary Clinton at 42.
Joining us now is Steve McMahon and Karine Jean-Pierre.
The Georgia poll, I just – like that`s the one, I got to say, out of all
of them, it shows you how powerful these leads are in the other states.
You`re ahead by 15 here but you`re actually contesting it in Georgia.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yeah, it`s looking like they`re
opening up the map a little bit, right?
O`DONNELL: So, in the war room (ph), you get these polls.
O`DONNELL: And you say, “Well, do we need to do any more advertising in
New Hampshire at all, should we not waste money on expensive Boston T.V.
advertising for New Hampshire, should we send some money down to Georgia
and actually try to buy some Atlanta time, see if that can help us?”
JEAN-PIERRE: Well, let me first say this, Lawrence, `96 days is like a
lifetime in politics.
JEAN-PIERRE: So I want to make sure that Democrats are complacent, that
they continue to fight because this can still be a very competitive race.
So, like you just stated, this race is going to be won on the ground. It`s
going to be the race of that 270 Electoral Colleges. And that`s what
they`re going to looking at, right? They`re going to be looking more so at
the state, battleground state polling, less at the national polls and also
their internal polling.
And that`s what matters. How do you get to 270? In what way can you do
that, right? Virginia, Colorado looks good. It`s trending more and more
Democratic, more and more diverse. You know, Pennsylvania is looking good.
So what are the numbers that you need and how do you put them together to
get the 270? Florida and Ohio will be extremely important.
O`DONNELL: Steve McMahon, you`re in charge of the meeting in the Clinton
“War Room” tonight. You got all these polls sitting on the table when you
walk in. Other than telling everybody, you know, it ain`t over till it`s
over, that old thing, what new moves do you decide to make based on what
you`re looking at tonight?
STEVE MCMAHON, HOWARD DEAN`S 2004 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: Well,
I mean, one of the things I`ll be looking at is, you know, the states that
we might be able to take our advertising down and save some money.
So, for instance, we read recently, I think, that the Clinton campaign is
taking their advertising down in Virginia and in Colorado which is a great
sign for Democrats. That might give them the opportunity, Lawrence, to do
as you suggest, go into some of these places where Trump is shrinking like
in Georgia, Utah, where he`s got problems, Arizona where it ought to be a
safe Republican win but it`s not looking that way.
So there`s some states that are creeping from red to purple to, perhaps,
blue that you might want to put some money in to make Trump defend his base
as opposed to being able to go into Pennsylvania and Ohio and some of the
other places that he needs to win.
If you can pin him back, you know, it`s like in the football metaphor, if
you can pin him back inside their own 20-yard line, it`s difficult for them
to score a touchdown. And that`s where Donald Trump finds himself tonight.
And I think that`s where the Clinton campaign wants to try to keep him.
O`DONNELL: Karine, when they make that decision of we are suspending, as
they`re saying, advertising in Virginia, they must be making that on the
basis of their own private polling that says to them, “This is how strong
things are in Virginia or Colorado.”
JEAN-PIERRE: That`s exactly right. And like I was saying, like Virginia
and Colorado in particular, it`s trending much more Democratic, much more
diverse. And they are. You know, they`ve talked about putting – polling
down in Colorado and going down in Virginia.
And also, let`s remember, the President went to Charlotte, North Carolina,
right? There`s a reason why he went to Charlotte, North Carolina. He won
that state in 2008, lost it in 2012.
She went to Nebraska just a couple of days ago. Nebraska and Maine have
these, you know, different Electoral College criterias. And she`s looking
for that one Electoral College, right, in Nebraska.
So they already – you could tell, like they have a plan, a very
sophisticated plan where on the other side Donald Trump, we don`t know what
his battleground state plan is. How is he going to get to 270? He has to
get Florida, he has to get Pennsylvania, he has to get Ohio. How is he
going to do that when the numbers are so tight and so bad for him, when
he`s not building his coalition, right?
He`s not getting African-Americans. He`s not getting Latinos. He`s doing
really bad with women. He can`t just go with the 13 million plus of
primary voters that he`s been doing and that`s what he`s doing. He`s just
doubling down on that number.
O`DONNELL: Steve, on Hillary Clinton, the candidate, when you see Donald
Trump going out there everyday saying something colossally stupid and
damaging to his campaign, is there a decision made in the Clinton campaign
bus where you simply say to the candidate, “You know what, use all of
yesterday`s material. Don`t use any .
O`DONNELL: . of these new good lines we came up with because they will be
drowned in the coverage of the Trump madness. Save these great lines for
next month, next week, whenever it is, maybe the debate. Save them for
when we need them.”
MCMAHON: To go back to the football metaphor, Lawrence, it`s like running
out the clock. You`re absolutely right. You know, you`re Hillary Clinton,
you`re winning, there are 96 days left. Every single day that you don`t
lose is a win for your campaign because you`re so far ahead in so many of
these battleground states. So you don`t want to do anything to upset the
momentum that the race, you know, that the race is on. And you want to
keep Donald Trump sliding toward the wheels coming off his bus.
O`DONNELL: Got to leave it there for tonight. Karine Jean-Pierre and
Steve McMahon thank you both for joining us tonight.
JEAN-PIERRE: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Appreciate it.
Up next, the President`s birthday.
O`DONNELL: Today is the President`s birthday. He`s 55 years old. He is
celebrating with his family at a restaurant in Georgetown. At 55,
President Obama is the fifth youngest president.
President Obama was treated to a birthday surprise a day earlier yesterday
when he spoke to a group of young African leaders.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS (singing): Happy birthday to you.
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