The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 9/8/2018

Howard Dean, David Frum, Tom Nichols, David Cay Johnston, Mike Murphy, Steve Hildebrand, Annie Linskey

Date: September 8, 2016
Guest: Howard Dean, David Frum, Tom Nichols, David Cay Johnston, Mike
Murphy, Steve Hildebrand, Annie Linskey

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: And 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: North Korea, perhaps presenting
another challenge to the next commander-in-chief.

MADDOW: Exactly, absolutely, thanks, Lawrence –

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel –


O`DONNELL: Well, there are surely some things that the President of the
United States has to do that Donald Trump could actually do. I mean, he
could sign his name to bills that pass the Congress, and I`m sure he could
veto bills.

It`s not clear what else he would actually know how to do as president of
the United States. But what he proved last night, proved beyond a
reasonable doubt, proved on a decommissioned aircraft carrier, which is the
closest he has ever been to military experience.

What he proved there is that he absolutely could not assume the duties of
being commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the United States of


ELECTION: Last night was yet another test and Donald Trump failed.

NOMINEE FOR 2016 ELECTION: She`s got to get her act together.

qualified to be president of the United States.

TRUMP: The generals have been reduced to rubble.

OBAMA: Every time he speaks, that opinion is confirmed.

CLINTON: He praised Russia`s strong man Vladimir Putin.

TRUMP: He`s been a leader far more than our president has been a leader –

Vladimir Putin is an aggressor that does not share interest.

CLINTON: I think the Republicans there are just in a terrible dilemma
trying to support a totally unqualified nominee.

RYAN: I`m not going to be the election-year pundit commenting on all these
little things.

CLINTON: I have no sympathy for them, it`s their nominee.

Republican Party.

CLINTON: What would Ronald Reagan say about a Republican nominee who
attacks America`s generals and he`s praised Russia`s president.

OBAMA: Somehow behavior that in normal times we would consider completely
unacceptable and outrageous becomes normalized. People start thinking that
we should be grading on a curve.


O`DONNELL: It should never be forgotten that Donald Trump launched his
political career with a lie. A lie about President Obama.


TRUMP: There`s a real question about the birth certificate. There`s a
real question about the – his own – his own citizenship.


O`DONNELL: That was a double lie. He lied about President Obama being
born outside the United States. And then he went on to tell more lies. He
lied about sending people to Hawaii to investigate that.

Donald Trump never sent anyone to Hawaii because he knew there was nothing
to investigate. No matter how many times Donald Trump was asked about what
his investigators found in Hawaii, he never ever answered that question.


TRUMP: I have people that actually have been studying it and they cannot
believe what they`re finding.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have people now down there –

TRUMP: Absolutely –

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Searching – I mean in Hawaii?

TRUMP: Absolutely, and they cannot believe what they`re finding.


O`DONNELL: That`s it. That`s the most that the pathological liar ever
said. They cannot believe what they`re finding. Donald Trump knows how
not to answer a question as he just showed you.

For five years now he`s refused to say a word about what his mythical
detectives found in Hawaii. And now that he`s a presidential candidate, he
refuses to say anything anymore about President Obama`s birth.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don`t talk about the birth certificate any more.
Do you regret even bringing it up?

TRUMP: I don`t talk about it anymore. I don`t talk about it anymore –

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you regret bringing it up back then?

TRUMP: I told you, I don`t talk about it anymore.


O`DONNELL: That was Friday, don`t talk about it anymore. Last night in a
forum where the presidential candidates were offered an opportunity to
demonstrate their ability to assume the role of commander-in-chief for the
Armed Forces of the United States.

Matt Lauer asked Donald Trump about the only thing that has ever happened
to Donald Trump in his 70 years on this earth that in any way resembles
even a moment of the work of the commander-in-chief.


MATT LAUER, JOURNALIST: You recently received two intelligence briefings.

TRUMP: Yes, I did.


O`DONNELL: Those two intelligence briefings are the only things that have
ever occurred in Donald Trump`s life that resemble what happens in the
workday of a president. And what you just heard is all Donald Trump should
have said publicly about those intelligence briefings.

He should have said something to the effect, that yes, I received those
briefings, but I`m not going to comment in any way on anything that was
discussed in those briefings. He knows how not to comment.

Just ask him about the birth certificate these days, see what happens. He
should have just shut Matt Lauer off right there, but Matt Lauer wasn`t
finished and Donald Trump foolishly followed where Matt Lauer led him.

Now, there are two things that can happen at a commander-in-chief forum.
You can demonstrate that you`re fit for the role of commander-in-chief, or
you can demonstrate that you are unfit.

And so Matt Lauer, without angrily browbeating the candidate, in effect got
the Republican nominee for president to admit what his opponents have been
saying about him, to in effect plead guilty as charged by President Obama
and Hillary Clinton.

And the Republican “Never Trump” movement and the long list of former
Republican foreign policy and defense officials who have accused Donald
Trump of being unfit to be commander-in-chief.

Donald Trump didn`t even struggle here. He just confessed. He just
confessed that he can`t be trusted with intelligence briefings, he cannot
perform the role of commander-in-chief.


LAUER: Did anything in that briefing, without going into specifics, shock
or alarm you?

TRUMP: Yes, very much so –

LAUER: Did you learn new things –

TRUMP: First of all –

LAUER: In that briefing? –

TRUMP: I have great respect for the people that gave us the briefings. We
were – they were terrific people. They were experts on Iraq and Iran and
different parts of – and Russia.

But yes, there was one thing that shocked me and it just seems to me that
what they said, President Obama and Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, who is
another total disaster, did exactly the opposite.

LAUER: Did you learn anything in that briefing, again, not going into
specifics that makes you reconsider some of the things you say you can
accomplish like defeating ISIS quickly?

TRUMP: No, I didn`t learn anything from that standpoint, what I did learn
is that our leadership, Barack Obama did not follow what our experts and
our truly – when they call it intelligence, it`s there for a reason, what
our experts said to do.


TRUMP: And I was very surprised in almost every instance. And I could
tell, I am pretty good with the body language, I could tell they were not
happy. Our leaders did not follow what they were recommending.


O`DONNELL: As many of you saw last night at this hour, my first reaction
to what Donald Trump said there was that he had crossed the line. But I`m
not an intelligence professional.

General Michael Hayden is. He`s the only person who have served as the
head of the CIA and the NSA. He said, “I did intelligence off and on for
almost four decades and I have never seen anything like this before.

A political candidate has used professional intelligence officers briefing
him in a totally nonpolitical setting as props to buttress an argument for
his political campaign. And actually his political point was actually
imputed to them.

Not even something they allegedly said. The I can read body language line
was quite remarkable and thereby Mr. Trump created an alleged fact that was
useful for him in the moment.

I am confident Director Clapper sent senior professionals to this meeting,
and so I am equally confident that no such body language ever existed.

It`s simply not what we do. Michael Morell, a former acting director of
the CIA was actually in charge of the daily briefings of the president
during George W. Bush`s administration. He said this today.

“This is the first time I can remember a candidate for president doing a
read out from an intelligence briefing, and it`s the first time a candidate
has politicized their intelligence briefing. Both of those are highly
inappropriate and crossed a long-standing red line respected by both

To me, this is just the most recent example that underscores that this guy
is unfit to be commander-in-chief.”

O`DONNELL: At a brief press conference this morning, Hillary Clinton said


CLINTON: I think what he said was totally inappropriate and undisciplined.
I would never comment on any aspect of an intelligence briefing that I


O`DONNELL: And today, President Obama kept it simple on the other side of
the Pacific Ocean in Laos when he was asked about Donald Trump.


OBAMA: I don`t think the guy is qualified to be president of the United
States, and every time he speaks, that opinion is confirmed.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont, former
DNC Chairman and a Hillary Clinton supporter, he`s also an Msnbc political

Also with us David Frum, senior editor for “The Atlantic”. Howard Dean,
the forum was about are you ready to be commander-in-chief? What I got on
Donald Trump was a clear and convincing verdict that he is not.

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER VERMONT GOVERNOR: I think that`s true, and I think
that`s widely shared. Michael Hayden is a pretty conservative hardline guy
who served Republican presidents. For him to say what he said is pretty

But it`s true. I actually think Donald Trump is just a crackpot at this
point. He`s a guy, he`s very entertaining, he says outrageous things.

The media loves him because he drives the ratings up. But he`s a crackpot
and he really has no business in this race at all.

O`DONNELL: Well, let`s listen to retired General Michael Flynn, he was on
the “Today Show” with Matt Lauer today.

Now, Michael Flynn was in those security briefings with Donald Trump.
Let`s listen to his reaction to what Donald Trump said last night.


intelligence that we received in the last two briefings were in stark
contrast to what the policy decisions that are being –


LAUER: That – did – coming up with that deduction in the briefing. Did
they look and say something and then –

FLYNN: They said –

LAUER: And then look at him like –

FLYNN: Yes, they –


LAUER: You know, they saw this –

FLYNN: Yes, they would say the intelligence professionals as they should,
they would say, well, those are policy decisions.

So, Donald Trump in a very sophisticated way was asking tough questions and
they would back off and say that is not our job, those are policy decisions
that the – in this case, the White House is making. And we would sit
there and go, OK, we understand.


O`DONNELL: David Frum, what did Mike Flynn just say? I`m not sure I
understand it.

DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: He`s saying that they asked
questions that were not at all for the purpose of an intelligence briefing
and the people running the briefing said those questions are not for the
purpose of the briefing.

It`s like going to a dentist and raising questions about your heart. The
dentist is going to say, I do teeth. You know, what is – what is so
dismaying from the point of view of a Republican and a conservative, you
ended the – Rachel Maddow ended the last hour with reports of a possible
fifth North Korean tests.

The big news and other nonpresidential news, big news today was, looks like
there were multiple cash payments to the Iranians by the Obama
administration at the time of the release of American detainees.

The situation in – through the Middle East gets ever more grim and
American troops are there and there`s a shooting war.

We`re talking so much about Vladimir Putin losing sight. The fact that
there`s a shooting war going on on the European continent.

The first great power shooting war since 1945. This administration is
leaving behind a chaotic foreign policy situation. And the out party
already making the most of it.

And the idea that instead of pointing to area after area of failure and
being able to say this president who did not meet Vladimir Putin with

Instead, we`re sending Vladimir Putin boxes of bourbons and bouquets of
flower, as if to say that his – that we talk about his ferocity and his
cruelty, we`re not – those are not things to admire, those are challenges
to America that are not being sufficiently responded to by this

O`DONNELL: Just to clarify, you mean the flowers that Donald Trump is
sending to Vladimir Putin.

FRUM: The – yes, the metaphorical flower.

O`DONNELL: Yes, I mean, I don`t agree with you on the state of foreign
affairs, the moment being entire responsibility of the Obama
administration. But I want to stay on this briefing for a moment.

“Nbc News” has a report of what actually happened in the Trump briefings,
and it is as crazy as you could possibly imagine.

Says a U.S. official pointed out that the intelligence officers don`t give
policy advice, so it would be inaccurate to say that Obama failed to follow
the advice of the intelligence community.

A second U.S. official said that analysts are trained not to allow their
body language to betray their thinking. And the report goes on to say this
about what actually happened in the meeting.

It said one of the advisors Trump brought to the briefing, retired General
Mike Flynn, who we just saw on the “Today Show” this morning, repeatedly
interrupted the briefing with pointed questions, two sources said Chris
Christie, the New Jersey governor and Trump adviser verbally restrained
Flynn, one saying Christy said shut up, the other reporting he said calm

Two other sources said Christie touched Flynn`s arm in an effort to get him
to calm down and let the officials continue. And Howard Dean, eventually,
Chris Christie and General Flynn both denied that version of events today.

But that`s very strong reporting from “Nbc News” about what`s actually
going on inside the briefing room.

DEAN: Well, I don`t think Mike Flynn is probably playing with a full deck
either. And I`m going to look into that because I know some people who
served with him. And so – which I`m not of course going to share on Msnbc
or any place else.

But there`s something that doesn`t add up here. You know, I have enormous
respect for the military in this country. Their achievements have been
extraordinary. They`ve served us really well.

And these are adult, thoughtful people who are careful about what they do
and say. They have opinions, of course, but they`re really professionals
and I – Flynn, I guess, I don`t know him, but there`s something wrong with

And I`ve got to figure it out. I don`t know how he served, but I would
like to know under what conditions he had to leave the service.

And I`m going to find that out, but unfortunately that`s not something I`m
going to share with viewers when I do.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to something Donald Trump said last night that he
has said repeatedly about – in the Iraq invasion, of course, of course, we
should have gone in there to take the oil from Iraq. Let`s listen to this.


TRUMP: If you really look at the aftermath of Iraq, Iran is going to be
taking over Iraq, they`ve been doing it and it`s not a pretty picture.

The – and I think you know because you`ve been watching me, I think, for a
long time, I`ve always said, shouldn`t be there, but if we`re going to get
out, take the oil.

If we would have taken the oil, you wouldn`t have ISIS because ISIS form
with the power and the wealth of that oil.

LAUER: How were we going to take the oil? How were we going to do that?

TRUMP: Just you know, would leave a certain group behind and you would
take various sections where they have the oil.


O`DONNELL: David Frum, the field manual of the American war department
field manual in 1940 before start of World War II, said that pillaging is
absolutely prohibited.

The 2015 Defense Department law of war manual says exactly the same thing,
“pillaging is absolutely prohibited”.

Seizing property, destroying property absolutely prohibited. That point
obviously Donald Trump has no idea that that`s what`s there. But he
doesn`t comprehend –


The strategic issue involved either.

FRUM: But is – what the oil issue – look, these aren`t chickens or sheep
that you`re taking. These are people`s pots and pans. What is involved in
– and could be – he said he`s giving us an idea of what he means by this.

What he`s talking about is the United States will take a large territory of
ground, and somehow have to patrol the perimeter, and then within that
would make the massive development in infrastructure that it takes to
produce this highly sophisticated commodity.

I mean, you don`t just put a straw in the ground. Oil is an information –
and you – so, you put billions of dollars of U.S. taxpayer, as we do in
this nation, right?

Investment into Iraq while patrolling that with tens of thousands of
troops. I mean, why don`t you just buy it? Why don`t you just buy it? That
would be cheaper.

O`DONNELL: He actually didn`t even say troops would be involved, he said
you would leave a certain group behind, not even identifying what that
would be –

FRUM: Well –

O`DONNELL: Total –


FRUM: ISIS is on the rampage, because even with – they`re taking shots at
these oil, if these oil works for us –

O`DONNELL: Right, exactly, total fantasy nonsense –

FRUM: And there are a multi-billion dollars investment. So, you have to
have – you have to have a perimeter, you have to have fencing, and at that
point you might as well say, you know, I`m originally – I am talking from
Canada, Canada would be delighted.

There`s a lot of oil here, the price is kind of low right now, they`d be
delighted to sell you as much as they can take away.

O`DONNELL: All right, we`re going to have to leave it there, we`ve got a
break coming up, David Frum, Howard Dean, thank you very much for joining
us tonight, really appreciate it –

DEAN: Thank you –

FRUM: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the Republican nominee for president, Republican
nominee for president thinks an undemocratically positioned dictator in
effect in Russia is doing a better job of governing and more responsible
job of governing than the democratically elected president of the United

Coming up in the war room tonight, two seasoned professionals will join us
there, real pros talking about what`s happening in the swing states and
what it means that the Donald Trump policy staff has completely quit the
campaign because the campaign refuses to pay them. How is that going to
help going into the debates?


O`DONNELL: At last night`s commander-in-chief forum, Donald Trump was hit
with knockout punches that would have wiped out any previous presidential

But there are different rules for Donald Trump this year as President Obama
said today, voters are grading Donald Trump on a curve. That`s next.


O`DONNELL: At last night`s commander-in-chief forum, more than once Matt
Lauer delivered what would have been knockout punches for any candidate not
named Trump.


LAUER: But let me ask you about some of the things you`ve said about
Vladimir Putin. You said, “I will tell you in terms of leadership, he`s
getting an A, our president is not doing so well.”

And when referring to a comment that Putin made about you, I think he
called you a brilliant leader. You said it`s always a great honor to be so
nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his country and

TRUMP: Well, he does have an 82 percent approval rating according to the
different pollsters who by the way, some of them are based right here.

Look –

LAUER: He`s also a guy who annexed Crimea, invaded Ukraine, supports Assad
and Syria, supports Iran, he`s trying to undermine our influence in key
regions of the world, and according to our intelligence community, probably
is the main suspect for the hacking of the DNC computers.

TRUMP: Well, nobody knows that for a fact.


O`DONNELL: Nobody knows that for a fact. Which one don`t we know for a
fact? Annexed Crimea, invaded Ukraine, supports Assad and Syria, supports
Iran, suspected in hacking DNC computers.

Matt Lauer throws all of those things at Donald Trump, something that no
other interviewer has ever done. And Donald Trump doesn`t say one word,
not one word about any of those actions of Vladimir Putin, not one word.


LAUER: Do you think the day that you become president of the United
States, he`s going to change his mind on some of these key issues?

TRUMP: Possibly, it`s possible. I don`t know, Matt, it`s possible, and
it`s not going to have any impact. If he says great things about me, I`m
going to say great things about him.


O`DONNELL: That`s the rule. If he says great things about me, I`m going
to say great things about him. Hitler should have been so lucky. Today,
Senator Lindsey Graham said that Donald Trump`s attitude towards Vladimir
Putin reminds him of the way some people regarded Adolf Hitler before World
War II.

Senator Graham said, “I think this is the biggest miscalculation since
people thought Hitler was a good guy.” Joining us now, David Cay Johnston,
Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and columnist for the “Daily Beast”.

He is the author of the new book, “The Making of Donald Trump”. Also with
us, Tom Nichols, a professor of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval
War College and senior contributor to the “Federalist Conservative

Tom Nichols, this was the commander-in-chief test last night on my grading
card, Donald Trump flunked pretty much every category of commander-in-
chief. What did you see?

COLLEGE: Well, obviously, just representing my own opinion, Lawrence, I
agree and I don`t think he just flunked, I think he crashed and burned

I think we`ve gotten used to how appalling Donald Trump`s statements are.
But even by Donald Trump`s low standards, last night was really a series of
shockers that I think were remarkable. Again, even by the denatured
standards of the debate around Donald Trump.

O`DONNELL: And David, this is one of the problems is that, I mean that
fuselage that Matt Lauer came up with in response to what Donald Trump said
about Vladimir Putin.

I mean, I think if I was doing that, I would have come up with one or two
of them, I`m not sure I would have rattled off every one of them like that.

And Donald Trump draws a complete blank at every single thing Matt
identifies for him that Vladimir Putin has done. Draws a complete blank
and makes no comment on any one of them.

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, COLUMNIST, DAILY BEAST: Well, because he doesn`t know
anything, first of all.

But I have to tell you, Lawrence, I was struck by the similarity of
Donald`s response to this to what you read in tapes of mob guys who have
been recorded and conversations I have had with low-level mob guys where
you bring up the top bosses name – oh, he`s great leader.

You know, what a terrific – how lucky we are. There`s something going on
here with Putin that should disturb us greatly.

And we got a hint of it when Donald said, indicated that he would purge the
generals to put in generals who presumably would do what Donald counts
first and foremost, loyalty, personal loyalty to Donald is the driving
force of his business.

And this admiration for Putin, given all the money he`s gotten from the
Russians, the tax fraud he`s alleged to have involved in, and involved
Russian oligarchs, the money that Russian oligarchs have spent, that he`s
boasted about.

All of this suggest that there`s a deeper that we don`t fully know about
relationship here between Donald Trump and the Russian oligarchs and the
people around Vladimir Putin.

O`DONNELL: And Bill O`Reilly actually lost – I`m sorry, Donald Trump
actually lost Bill O`Reilly on the Putin thing. Let`s listen to what
O`Reilly said about it tonight.


BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS: If elected president, Trump will try to make
Russia an ally, especially in the fight against ISIS.

That strategy is not wrong, but praising Putin is. Let the tyrant earn
friendly descriptions by doing something positive.


O`DONNELL: Tom Nichols, at least Bill O`Reilly seems to understand that
Vladimir Putin has tyrannical powers that he`s not subject to the same
democratic checks and balances that the founding fathers have given us

NICHOLS: It was astonishing because as a conservative, I`ve spent a lot of
years criticizing President Obama`s foreign policy and criticizing a lot of
aspects of the administration.

But everybody, Bill O`Reilly, you, me, David, everyone understands you
don`t compare president of the United States to a Russian dictator.

It`s one of many red lines that Trump can`t seem to help himself from
crossing. But part of the problem, and you mentioned this with Lauer`s
interview is that although Trump at times sounds like a lower level mafia
goon, he then shifts into something like a child.

If he talks nice about me, I`ll talk nice about him. That`s not a strategy
for Russia, that`s a strategy for second grade.

And it`s – it defeats any attempt to ask any further questions because you
find yourself dealing with someone who has this kind of simplistic view of
the world as it only relates to him.

And I`m sure that Putin is fine with that because Putin understands that
flattery and vanity, Putin is an intelligence officer. He understands that
people can be manipulated by that.

And it`s very clear that Trump has completely bought into that, and you
know, maybe that he admires Putin so much because Putin is one of the last
people in the world who actually admires Donald Trump.

O`DONNELL: That will have to be the last word on Trump and Putin tonight.
But I`m sure it won`t be Donald Trump`s last word about Vladimir Putin.
David Cay Johnston and Tom Nichols, thank you both for joining us, really
appreciate it.

JOHNSTON: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Up next in the war room, some real veterans Mike Murphy and
Steve Hildebrand, both veterans of the McCain and Obama war rooms of 2008.
They will talk about last night`s forum and what it tells us to expect in
the debates.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Time for tonight`s “Campaign War Room”,
the Trump War Room`s battleground map is getting smaller, according to
“Politico.” Interviews with more than two dozen Republican Operatives,
State Party Officials and elected leaders suggest, let`s see – Colorado,
boy that didn`t come up right in the teleprompter.

Colorado, New Hampshire and Virginia are tilting so heavily tomorrow
Hillary Clinton that they`re close to unwinnable for the GOP Presidential
Nominee. The polling averages in those three states show Hillary Clinton
up eight points, five points in Colorado. Hillary Clinton up 8.3 points in
New Hampshire and Hillary Clinton up six points in Virginia.

The campaign War Rooms will also be studying a new morning consult poll of
all 50 states. The poll shows Hillary Clinton would win 332 Electoral
Votes to Donald Trumps, 206 Electoral Votes if the election were held
tonight. With 60 days left for the Presidential Campaign War Room, joining
us in The Last Word War Room are Mike Murphy, Republican Strategist and
Host of podcast, Radio Free GOP. And Steve Hildebrand, a veteran of
President Obama`s 2008 Presidential Campaign war Room.

Mike, let`s just go straight to state of the race as you see it tonight.

MIKE MURPHY, HOST, RADIO FREE GOP: It has inched a little closer in the
polling, but the polling lags the reality of what`s happening in every news
cycle. And Trump`s having a terrible news cycle. In a normal campaign,
there was plenty in that Commander-in-Chief Forum for Hillary Clinton to be
on the defense of about. She was parsing. She has issues on record that
are good meat for a campaign.

The problem is, Trump got up there and bar stool philosopher. Half of the
time he was making insane generalizations with no insight at all on
geopolitical strategy. And the other half of the time, he was denying bar
stool philosopher generalizations he said 5 or 10 years ago. So, trump is
in a bad moment now because he really had a crack up last night and you
will see that in next week`s polling.

The polling is always a good idea of what was going on seven or eight days

O`DONNELL: Steve, to that point, Democrats and people of the Clinton War
Room watched Donald Trump get up on that stage and watched Matt Lauer knock
him out repeatedly and, I mean, moments that as I said before in this hour,
any other candidate in any other year, that would have been the moment
everybody pointed to and said, “It`s all over. It`s all over.”

And, yet, Trump`s has had dozens and dozens of those moments and he had
them last night. Is there an analysis in the Clinton War Room when they
look at the polls and they see Trump doesn`t fall because of moments like
this? Is there something that explains that to them and something that
tells them what they have to do to try to pick up votes from these trump

there`s this idea that, you know, he`s an unprecedented candidate who can
get away with just about anything. At the same time, he`s got grave
difficulty getting over 40 percent in most any poll. And, you know,
obviously, you`ve got to get higher than that if you`re going to take these
states and win the presidency.

But I think, you know, what Hillary needs to look at, too, is her own
numbers. How does she become a little more likable? How does she become a
little more trusting? And how does she knock him down?

And I think she`s got to use, you know, other people`s credibility to her -
- to her effort. She needs to, you know, recite these 121 Republican
National Security Experts who have said Donald Trump would be reckless for
this country and should not be elected President. Those are the kinds of
things that she needs.

Instead of just making statements, she needs to use other people`s
credibility to justify what she`s saying. And I think that`s going to take
her a long way.

O`DONNELL: So, Mike, it sounds like Steve believes that there is a
Republican Voter out there who doesn`t want to vote for Donald Trump.
Also, doesn`t want to vote for Hillary Clinton. And Hillary Clinton can
make a reach to that voter?

MURPHY: Yes. I mean, you really need about 95 percent of the Republican
Votes in your column to be in the hunt and let alone win. And Trump`s
sitting in the mid-80s. So you`ve got some loose Republicans who can`t
stand Hillary Clinton but can`t stand Donald Trump. And you have a bunch
of swing voters, Independents who feel the same way.

A lot of the dynamic of the polling in this race so far has been Trump`s
stuck in the low 40s and Hillary`s numbers bouncing between the mid-40s
when I looked close up to the and high 40s in undecided. That`s been the
real, you know, debate.

People get mad at Hillary. They go into undecided and then come back
depending on kind of what the news of the moment is. So, I agree that the
real thing Hillary has to do is improve her performance a little bit. And
let people have a landing pad. You may not like her but see her as the
lesser of two evils. And republican surrogates particular in the National
Defense World, are a good way in.

I mean you could hear jaws dropping across the country of defense and
foreign policy experts in both parties last night. That was that thump you
heard across the country. And that`s an opportunity for Hillary Clinton
who has her own problems on those issues. But Trump is so bad, you know,
she keeps getting an opening. It`s such heart breaking to me as a
Republican. But it`s the reality of the race.

O`DONNELL: All right, we`ve got to do a double session on the War Room
Tonight because we have the MVP`s of the War Room with us tonight. We`re
going to take a quick break. We`ll be right back.


O`DONNELL: We`re back in the Last Word War Room for a special double
session tonight. The Washington Post reports tonight that the Trump
Campaigns Policy staff has collapse. The Post`s says quote, “The Trump
Campaign built a large policy shop in Washington that has now largely
melted away because of neglect, mismanagement and promises to pay that were
never honored.

Many of the team`s former members say the campaign leadership never took
the Washington office seriously and let it wither away after squeezing it
dry. Trump has never acknowledged the policy shop based in Washington that
has been doing huge amounts of grunt work for months without recognition or

One of the people who quit told the Washington Post, quote, “It`s a
complete disaster. They used and abused people. The policy office fell
apart in August when the promised checks weren`t delivered.”

Back with us in the Last Word War Room, Mike Murphy and Steve Hildebrand,
Steve, you know, it works better when you actually pay the campaign
staffers that you hire.
HILDEBRAND: Well, especially you don`t want to lose the smartest people on
the campaign. You need those policy experts. And when Donald Trump is so
loose with the facts and so shallow in his knowledge of issues, these are
the people he really needs by his side. You know, he was asked last night
over and over and over again what is your plan for X? What is your plan
for Y? And he couldn`t answer one of those questions. That`s not what we
need in an American President.

O`DONNELL: So, Mike, you`re couple of weeks away from the debates. Your
policy staff quits, all walk out the door when it`s time to do debate prep.
And you`ve just seen your candidate be challenged by Matt Lauer about
Vladimir Putin in ways that Donald Trump clearly didn`t understand. He
needs a serious briefing on Vladimir Putin alone for the first debate and
they`ve got nobody.

MURPHY: Yes. Look, my guess is they ran out of the building. It`s not a
campaign. It`s really kind of an island of misfit toys. He doesn`t have
serious heavy people around him. And so, you know, I`m not surprised that
we have one of these Banana Republic developments where a bunch of people
weren`t paid and walked out.

I mean, the fundamental problem with Trump is Trump. Trump doesn`t want to
be briefed. He doesn`t know what he doesn`t know and he doesn`t know a
lot. So Trump is an egomaniac. And he just wants a microphone and an
adoring crowd or television camera. So he`ll wing the debates too.

I don`t think there will be any serious prep. There`d be a couple of
sessions where he`s on like gold throne and a few of the yes men throw
questions at him. But we know who Trump is now.

And so, what Hillary will try I would guess to do in the debates is be the
strong study expert and Trump will go on the raving attack because Hillary
will be ahead and have something to lose. The question is, how does she
handle that mad man show because if she`s too passive, she`ll look too
weak. If she froths at the mouth like Trump then she`ll catch the Trump

So, it`s going to be a tricky debate for her. I`m not sure Trump will help
himself but the madman bullying act could hurt her. Remember, she`s not
somebody the electorates` wild about. She goes in there with a lot of
vulnerabilities too and it`s just going to be a zoo. It`s going to be the
craziest debate I think any of us have ever seen in politics.

O`DONNELL: And Steve it`s seems like –


O`DONNELL: Go ahead Steve.

HILDEBRAND: – Mike, I slightly disagree on the – Hillary has the
capacity from that forum last night, as well as previous statements by
Donald Trump. She`s got the capacity right now to go on the defensive in
the biggest way possible and to unleash all the potential surrogates, the
president, the vice president, republicans to go out and say, Donald Trump
is un-American. He is cozying up to a Russian dictator, at the same time
trashing an American president, the American military and all of its

And I think she`s got the capacity right now to go and bury him in this and
make that next debate a real hell hole for him to ever get out of.

MURPHY: Well –

O`DONNELL: So Mike that`s an interesting point –


O`DONNELL: – because Elizabeth Warren is going out with Hillary Clinton
tomorrow. And so, what can others on the campaign trail do to help set up
the debate?

MURPHY: Well, it`s not in my nature to want to give advice or help to
Hillary Clinton. I`m not voting for her. I`m just not voting for Trump.
I`m going to write in somebody else. Maybe Wendell Willkie to support the
tradition of good business people in the party running for president.

I do think a surrogate attack wave is a very good idea and there are a lot
of surrogates in the Democratic Party who can do that. it will drive Trump
crazy because we all know he watches cable all day and then reacts to it.

The other thing is I do think this Putin thing is breaking through. Trump
is what the old Bolsheviks used to call a useful idiot and Putin is –
that`s an Bolshevik term –


MURPHY: – for guys like Trump.


MURPHY: And Putin is enough of a stage villain now. It starts to be a
pretty simple narrative for the casual voter who is just starting to pay
attention to the circus to be able to tune into and resonate with. So, and
Trump is dug in. He will not back off the Putin bromance. It is crazy but
Trump is crazy.

So, I think anything that feeds Trump`s bad instincts on some of this stuff
will politically help her.

O`DONNELL: Got to leave it there. Mike Murphy and Steve Hildebrand,
really great –


O`DONNELL: – to have both of you here tonight. Really appreciate it.

MURPHY: Thank you.

HILDEBRAND: Thanks Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up. The Boston Globe just did an exclusive interview
with Elizabeth Warren. Annie Linskey of The Boston Globe did that
interview will join us next.


O`DONNELL: We have a Boston Globe exclusive about how Elizabeth Warren
plans to help Hillary Clinton starting tomorrow. But first, here is how it
looked today in the campaign trail.


what Trump did last night. It was a test and he failed it.

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE 2016: The whole country saw how
unfit she was at the town hall last night.

CLINTON: What would Ronald Reagan say about a Republican nominee who
attacks America`s generals and heaps praise on Russia`s president?

TRUMP: Hillary Clinton created a lot of the problems and now she`s saying
how she`s going to take us out. She doesn`t have a clue, not even a little

CLINTON: I love you Andrea, you are incredible. You`re my kind of a
woman. I`ll tell you what.

TRUMP: I will be the greatest jobs producing president that God ever

CLINTON: Everything is a game. It`s like he`s living in his own celebrity
reality TV program.

KATY TUR, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Do you think that he would make a good

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely not. I`m very firm on that.

CLINTON: We are facing a candidate with a long history of racial
discrimination in his business. If he doesn`t even respect all Americans,
how can he serve all Americans?

TRUMP: She`ll be saying what a wonderful job she`s going to do. She`ll
get your vote and she`ll say, “See you in four years.” She might even say,
“See you in four years, suckers.”

CLINTON: If I were not the candidate, if I were not the nominee, if I were
just a concerned citizen, I`d be out here doing everything I could to sound
the alarm about someone like Donald Trump getting anywhere near the White



O`DONNELL: Tomorrow in Philadelphia, Senator Elizabeth Warren of
Massachusetts will hold first campaign event for Hillary Clinton since the
Democratic Convention. Boston Globe National Political Reporter, Annie
Linskey interviewed Senator Warren today. Annie Linskey joins us now.
Annie what is the Warren plan for the rest of the presidential campaign?

out there tomorrow and she`s going to do it to her. She was really excited
about it. She`s going to be well campaigning for Elizabeth Warren and also
for Katie McGinty who`s running who is running in Pennsylvania for Senate.
And she was so excited and I`ve actually never seen her do this before.

She started snapping. So, and you know, she – she likes the idea of being
out there for two strong women. I think that will be in her message

O`DONNELL: And she has been incredible sharp on Twitter and elsewhere
about Donald Trump.

LINSKEY: That`s right.

O`DONNELL: Are we going to expect that tomorrow specific Trump attack
lines from Elizabeth Warren?

LINSKEY: Yes. I think every single Democrat and particularly Elizabeth
Warren is excited to have the best Trump zinger possible.


LINSKEY: So, she didn`t, you know, so, she didn`t share that with us. But
I think that she`s got some prepared. You could kind of tell from her
twinkle in her eye that that, you know, that is a – Trump is a galvanizing
for people like Warren in this election and she`s going to – well go as
far as she can.

O`DONNELL: Well, in a way, I mean, Trump is everything that was wrong with
America that pulled Elizabeth Warren in to politics that she – and
together in to the zone where she could fix these things.

LINSKEY: Well I think it helps unify the party, really. I think for her,
you know, there are reservations with Clinton. You know, you could see her
under in a Clinton White House, you know, playing an antagonistic role but
at this point, I think she`s so clear on who the better choice is that she
– you really do see her real enthusiasm for getting out and campaigning.

O`DONNELL: And how does this play for her in Massachusetts.

LINSKEY: A great question and I think, you know, that`s why she sat down
with The Globe today, I mean I think she is going off, she`s having a real
change, it`s a real different moment for her, for the last two-and-a-half -
- or last two years, really, she has been a national figure where we`ve
been wondering will she run for president and will she be the vice

And now, she`s pivoting back to being a Massachusetts Senator first and
foremost and digging into some of the wonky issues that she`s known for and
where she got that sort of national platform from in the first place.

O`DONNELL: Annie Linskey, thank you very much for joining us. I really
appreciate it.

LINSKEY: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up next, what president Obama said about the protests at
Standing Rock. He`s finally spoken on the matter.


O`DONNELL: Finally yesterday, President Obama was asked about the protest
at the Pine Ridge Sioux Reservation – no, no. It`s at the Standing Rock,
that`s the wrong reservation. That is the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation
in North Dakota. The question came yesterday from a university student in


lands and helping them preserve their way of life is something that we have
worked very hard on. Now, some of these issues are caught up with laws and
treaties and – and so, I can`t give you details on this particular case.
I`d have to go back to my staff and find out how are we doing on this one.


O`DONNELL: President Obama has actually visited that reservation, so when
he gets back to the White House tomorrow, his staff should have some good
information on where the situation stands now.

Brian Williams continues our live coverage. He will check in with some of
the road warriors after a day of attacks back and forth from the campaign.
The 11th Hour with Brian Williams is next.




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