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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 7/1/2016

Guests: Asif Islam, Karen Tumulty

Show: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW Date: July 1, 2016 Guest: Asif Islam, Karen Tumulty

CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW starts right now with Joy Reid, in for Rachel.

Good evening, Joy.

JOY REID, MSNBC GUEST HOST: How are you, Chris?

And since when did being an unprincipled scoundrel disqualified someone from higher office? I don`t get it.

HAYES: Sometimes it`s the best out there.

REID: I believe it is. Thank you very much. Really appreciate it. Happy Fourth. All right, Chris.

Thank you and thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.

I`m Joy Reid filling in for Rachel who has a well-deserved night off tonight.

We have a very busy Friday for the Friday before the Fourth of July holiday. Usually days like this are what you called slow news days, no particularly big news. Well, not today.

So, we`re going to begin by covering a lot of news tonight, including a conversation "The Washington Post" Jonathan Capehart who just interviewed Attorney General Loretta Lynch about the Hillary Clinton private email server probe and her conversation with President Bill Clinton aboard her private plane at a Phoenix airport earlier this week.

There`s also new news tonight about who Donald Trump could pick as his vice presidential running mate. As you may already know, my bid is with Newt Gingrich, but there are other people in the mix, and we have more on that tonight.

Also, there`s some big movement on guns from a state that has led the country on lots of issues. This is a state that`s getting it done when Washington is most decidedly not.

But first, we begin with the ongoing hostage situation in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. It`s 7:00 in the morning there, the sun is rising there, and the situation is still fluid and ongoing.

It started this morning, about ten hours ago, at about 9:20 p.m. local time, which is 11:20 a.m. Eastern Time. Several gunmen stormed a cafe in the capital`s diplomatic zone. The cafe is called Holey Artisan bakery in the Gulshan neighborhood. It`s an area filled with embassies and consulates.

The cafe is particularly popular with Westerners, with expats and with diplomats. Between eight and ten armed attackers charged into the restaurant, they set of explosives and proceeded to take a number of hostages. We`re hearing there are something like 40 hostages inside, but that is not a number that we can confirm at this hour.

So far, we know that at least two police officers were killed during the stand-off with attackers. We also understand that another 26 people were wounded by the explosions that were set off and the shrapnel. Six of whom are in critical condition.

Late this afternoon, hours after the attack started, the ISIS news agency claimed that ISIS commandos are responsible for the ongoing hostage stand- off. The hostage situation is in its tenth hour as we speak. The situation, as we said, is live, is very much unfolding.

Armed paramilitary officers from Bangladesh have surrounded the restaurant and are working on negotiating the release of the hostages. There had not been any attempts to do a forced rescue yet. And in terms of Americans on the ground, the U.S. State Department has alerted U.S. citizens in Bangladesh to shelter in place.

The State Department is saying they`ve accounted for 100 percent of U.S. service members, but they`re still trying to account for all the private U.S. citizens in Bangladesh. We know that ISIS has claimed responsibility for this ongoing attack in Bangladesh, and presumably because they are ISIS, their goal is to grab the attention of the world media with a spectacular attack, which grabs the global media attention as they`re getting now, and to terrorize the world.

So, in that sense, the attack has already been a huge success for them. But Bangladesh is a country where 90 percent of the people are Muslim. And it`s recently seen a huge upsurge in ISIS-related violence. In fact, just this morning, ISIS claimed responsibility for the hacking death of a Hindu priest in Dhaka. Three men with machetes attacked and killed a priest as he was preparing for morning prayers.

There was another one, another hacking of a Hindu priest three weeks ago. He was riding his bike and was attacked by three men on a motorcycle. ISIS claimed responsibility. Two days after that, it was a Christian man leaving church, he was murdered on the street. ISIS again claimed responsibility.

At the end of April, ISIS hacked to death a Hindu tailor. A week before that, it was a university professor, who was teaching English. He made his way to school when he was hacked and nearly beheaded. ISIS again claimed responsibility and that was just this year.

In November of last year, gunmen opened fire in a mosque in northern Bangladesh, killing one and injuring three evening prayers. ISIS was behind it. Last year in October, a Japan man shot three times riding a rickshaw. ISIS claimed responsibility for that too.

In September 2015, ISIS also claimed responsibility for the shooting death of an Italian aide worker in Dhaka. He was jogging through the capital`s diplomatic quarter. In fact, immediately after the two attacks in Bangladesh, the U.S. embassy stopped permitting its personnel and their families to be in public places until things cooled down, for fear of another ISIS attack.

Since last September, there have been 19 ISIS-related attacks in Bangladesh. So tonight, the Friday before the Fourth of July, we have yet another attack that ISIS has claimed responsibility for, except this attack is ongoing. What we do know, there are dozens of people holed up in that restaurant at the mercy of armed attackers, what are being described as ISIS commandos.

We also know that this comes at the end of a week that started with an ISIS attack on the third largest airport in Europe, the suicide bombing attack on the Ataturk airport in Istanbul, Turkey, killing more than 40 people and injuring nearly 240. And it also comes on the heels of another spectacular style attack on the pulse nightclub, that left 49 people dead and 53 wounded. The worst mass shooting in U.S. history.

Now, all of those attacks happened during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, during which ISIS called for more spectacular style attacks meant to terrorize. Today is the last Friday before the end of Ramadan, and it ends the day after the July 4th holiday on Tuesday evening.

Joining us now from Bangladesh is Asif Islam, planning editor at the "Dhaka Tribune".

And, Mr. Islam, I know it`s been a long night for you. Just after 7:00 a.m. local time.

So, thank you for joining us. Give us the latest on what`s going on where you are.

ASIF ISLAM, DHAKA, BANGLADESH (via telephone): Thank you.

The situation is at the moment a bit unclear. There are some activities. There was a lull between midnight and about 3:00 a.m. it was very quiet, not much happening.

Around 3:53, we heard -- we were told that three shots rang out and members of the battalion pulled somebody out of the area, and we`re told that he is a suspect and maybe one of the hostage-takers. Since then, a lot has happened.

About an hour ago, an adviser to the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, his name (INAUDIBLE) was quoted by "Reuters" as saying that, in fact, security forces have been negotiating with they`re hoping to bring an end to this crisis. Around the same time, about an hour ago, police on site, announced on microphones, that everyone who is not a security personnel, had to clear the site, and law enforcement, police officers, would have to put on bulletproof vests.

About 6:15, so maybe 45 minutes ago, the director of the battalion here said that they were ready to begin a drive, which means that they want to perhaps -- but we`re still not sure whether they will do that, whether the negotiations failed, and what the timeline might be.

REID: And so, if there are potentially plans to breach that compound, do you have any sense from security forces of how many people they believe are inside and whether there are injuries inside that building or people who might be under even sort of more threat in a breach were to occur?

ISLAM: Sure. I`m sorry to say that we don`t know for sure. We`ve been at some distance from the actual site. So we`re not actually sure what the situation is inside the compound. We don`t know how many people may be injured. We`re not even sure exactly how many people are being held hostage.

We understand that from an earlier eyewitness who managed to escape, he said about 20 people, many of them foreigners. In fact, he said mostly foreigners, were being held inside. But we haven`t been able to confirm that.

REID: OK. Thank you very much, Asif Islam, planning editor at the "Dhaka Tribune" in Bangladesh -- thank you for your time. Appreciate it.

And joining me now is Ayman Mohyeldin, who is the NBC News foreign correspondent, and Malcolm Nance, a former U.S. counterterrorism and intelligence officer and the author of "Defeating ISIS".

Ayman, I`m going to start with you on this. First of all, the significance of this attack coming so soon after the Ataturk Airport attack, and coming toward the end of Ramadan. What do you think the significance of this?

AYMAN MOHYELDIN, NBC NEWS FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the significance of the first part of that question, coming on the heels of the Ataturk attack, it shows that the frequency of these attacks seems to be accelerating. The reach of ISIS, whether it`s inspiring radical individuals like the case of Orlando, whether it`s demonstrating its ability to infiltrate countries like Turkey, or whether it`s capable of organizing and creating an organic organization within Bangladesh to carry out this attack, demonstrates that the organization has multi facets to it, certainly layers of complexity to it.

The ability to cascade these attacks one after the other so quickly is going to be a major concern for law enforcement officials, because it`s not yet clear obviously, you know, if the folks in Bangladesh who saw this attack were inspired by what they saw in Ataturk and decided to go ahead and carry out this attack. But it also fits the profile of what ISIS has been calling for, the second part of your question, that is they want to see more attacks during the month of Ramadan, as you mentioned, we`re getting to the end of that month.

So, this has been a call they`ve put out for all of their followers and it certainly seems, whether they`re individuals or affiliates or participants, they are heeding those calls.

REID: Malcolm, the last two attacks we`ve seen, attacks on sections of either the airport or here in this international zone in Bangladesh, that in theory would target foreign nationals, but they`re also attacks that by their nature, wind up killing lots of Muslims.

How does ISIS square in their propaganda this idea of launching attacks that by definition are going to kill lots of Muslims during Ramadan?

MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC TERRORISM ANALYST: They don`t square this at all. This ISIS doctrine over the last two years, and it`s a relatively new doctrine of attacking during the holy month of Ramadan, which is a period of reflection and devotion to God, which is why you fast during the day and then you socialize at night with your family and friends, this is completely un-Islamic.

However, for them and their crews around the world -- you know, I believe Ayman is right about one component in this. I think what`s happening, they are inspiring each other, and these teams have been planning for some periods of months, they`d heeded the call from al-Adnani, to do something during Ramadan, and they have this belief that the last ten days of Ramadan, which are the holiest period, are when they should kill more people.

They don`t view Muslims at all at somebody that is exempt from their terrorist attacks. They are attacking Western facilities and so is al Qaeda throughout sub-Saharan Africa, but killing Muslims is on their book as a part of their cult belief.

REID: And to what extent now, Ayman, is the secondary sort of goal of these attacks to sort of warn away Western governments to cooperate in what has been an increasing military campaign with some success against ISIS, including not only by Western governments but by Iraq?

MOHYELDIN: Yes. I mean, in these different attacks, you`re seeing different motivation. So, for example, Bangladesh is hardly a participant in a country like Syria or Iraq. They`re a non-player on the geopolitical level. They`re not going after ISIS like for example Turkey or France or even the United States.

So there would be hard-pressed reason to think, why would they go after Bangladesh? But the truth of the matter is, Bangladesh is the fourth or fifth largest Muslim country in the world, about 150 million people. It`s also a close neighbor of India. And there`s a historic rivalry between Pakistan, where extremists have existed for a long time like al Qaeda, fighting against Pakistan, and even in Bangladesh, trying to get a foothold in that country to once again build up a part of the Islamic State.

The reason why I say that is, the vision of the Islamic State is to create a worldwide caliphate and their intention is to anywhere they can get their foot on territory, on soil and build a state or a province, part of the larger Islamic State, they can do that. So, they`re looking at countries with vulnerability, instability, poverty, a weak government, and they can attack that government, and they`ve put Bangladesh in their sights for some time.

In their last publication, in November of 2015, "Dabiq`s" magazine, which is their online propaganda magazine, had a section dedicated to putting a foothold in Bangladesh to stepping up attacks there. So they`ve had Bangladesh in their sights for several months now.

REID: And, Malcolm, I`m wondering to what extent this signals weakness on the part of ISIS in the place they have used as their stronghold, because that`s where western allies have been hitting them, in Syria.

Does this signal on their part strength or does it signal a weakness in the place where they`re based?

NANCE: Really, we have been predicting in the intelligence community for some time that as is central headquarters in Raqqah, northern Iraq, western Iraq, starts to come under increased pressure, that the caliphate will start to collapse. And we`re seeing signs of that.

As a matter of fact, there`s a new intelligence estimate that there are only 12,500 foreign fighters left within the caliphate central alone, and they`re being attacked from four different directions on the compass head.

So, as their caliphate collapse, they`re shifting to a new phase. I call it the ghost caliphate, where they`re moving out and branching out to more ideological-based fighters. As a matter of fact, their future warrior, their best example will be the kind of person who carries out an attack in San Bernardino or Orlando. These organized terrorist cell attacks like we`re seeing today is an example of where they have flexibility and where they can safely create a covert operational cell.

But for the rest of the world, they fully intend to just have inspired people come up and start killing us wherever they find us.

REID: Yes, that is what people are most afraid of. Ayman Mohyeldin, NBC News foreign correspondent, and Malcolm Nance, author of "Defeating ISIS" - - thank you both for being here. Appreciate it.

And we`ll continue to monitor the situation in Bangladesh and let you know if anything changes this hour.

But there are also lots of political stories to get to tonight and that is next.


REID: At the very same time we were learning about the situation unfolding in Bangladesh, Donald Trump was speaking to about 3,000 people gathered for the Western Conservative Summit in Denver, Colorado. It was a speech that has largely been characterized as a prompter-free, primary-style Trump approach. Therefore, there was naturally a weird, off-the-cuff moment.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: If Turkey -- are you from Turkey, sir? Good, congratulations. I actually have a very nice job in Turkey. He`s saying, please mention Turkey. Okay. I think he`s friend. Are you friend or foe? Huh? I think he`s friend.


REID: So the gentleman interrupting Trump`s scream of consciousness is a Turkish journalist living in Denver. He said he wanted Trump to answer a few questions about Turkey, among them, one about the terrorist attack in Istanbul earlier this week.

Trump did address that in his remarks, saying turkey could single handedly wipe ISIS off the map. This is apparently not the first time Donald Trump has thrown out that question, friend or foe. But on this day, given all that`s going on in the world, to this man, it may represent more than an optics moment for his campaign.

The Democrats have their own optics challenge right now. We`ll have more on that, next.



REPORTER: The White House is caught up in another controversy. Clinton kept Air Force One sitting on the tarmac in Los Angeles for an hour Tuesday, while he got a hair cut aboard the plane from a celebrity Beverly Hills stylist. The airport shut down two runways, some flights were delayed. Some in Congress claim that taxpayers paid a bundle to keep Air Force One on the ground for the presidential trimming.

REP. DAN BURTON (R), INDIANA: He spent thousands of dollars of your tax money to get a hair cut for 200 bucks from Hillary`s hairdresser. He ought to be more concerned trimming the deficit than his own hair.


REID: It was not even six months into Bill Clinton`s presidency before the fake scandals were already proliferating. Remember that one, hair-gate?

The story about Bill Clinton getting a hair cut dominated the news for days. It`s kind of unbelievable, but also kind of understandable, right? It`s the irresistible morality play. New president elected as a regular guy, gets drunk on his own power and forces us schmucks to sit on our delayed flights wait on our flights while we gets a hair cut from someone named Christof (ph).

Of course, the allegations turned out not to be true. It created no delays and didn`t cost $200. But by the time the facts came to light, it was far too late. And also, like most Clinton scandals, even though there was blame to be parceled out to the media and to his political enemies, you couldn`t help wondering what was Bill Clinton thinking? How could he not see how bad this would look?

Well, fast forward 23 years, different plane, different tarmac, and Bill Clinton has once again caused a giant media and political and legal firestorm. This time by visiting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, when their planes were parked at the same Phoenix airport at the same time.

Bill Clinton found out the attorney general`s plane was nearby and he wanted to say hi. After all, he first appointed Loretta Lynch as U.S. attorney in 1999. Also, maybe it is just a courtesy for former presidents and top cabinet officials to greet each other when they run across each other at airports. I don`t know.

According to accounts, the two of them chatted about Bill Clinton`s grandkids and their recent travels and the golf Bill Clinton had been playing, and they talked about that stuff for a whole 30 minutes.

And I guess that would be fine if Loretta Lynch didn`t oversee the FBI, which is currently investigating the e-mail practices of Bill Clinton`s wife when she was secretary of state, which we learned today, and may be interviewing Hillary Clinton in that investigation as soon as tomorrow.

The hyperventilating came fast and furious. There were immediate allegations that the email investigation had been compromised. Republicans in Congress started calling for a special prosecutor. One justice reporter called the whole thing shocking, absolutely shocking.

Bill Clinton was notoriously problematic for Hillary Clinton during her 2008 presidential run, saying intempered things, created distractions. And he`s not always been on target this cycle either, having a shouting match with black protesters comes to mind.

And, look, let`s assume for the sake of argument that the meeting between Bill Clinton and Loretta Lynch was just what they said it was, a purely social visit. Still, once again, you do find yourself wondering, what was Bill Clinton thinking? How could he not see how bad this would look? The man who was taken to the political woodshed over a frigging hair cut?

As for Loretta Lynch, she has been upfront about the meeting. She said that she wouldn`t do it again. She also said she would accept the recommendations of the FBI and prosecutors on what to do about the e-mails investigation. She will not be involved in the decision on how to move forward.

And today, she spoke at length for the first time about all of this, in an interview with "The Washington Post`s" Jonathan Capehart.


LORETTA LYNCH, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I do think that no matter how I viewed it, I understand how people view it. And I think that because of that, and because of the fact that it has now cast a shadow over how this case may be perceived, and no matter how it`s resolved, it`s important to talk about how it will be resolved. It`s important to make it clear that that meeting with President Clinton does not have a bearing on how this matter will be reviewed, resolved and accepted by me, because that is the question that it raises.


REID: And that was Attorney General Loretta Lynch at the Aspen Ideas Festival today, facing this thing head on.

So, is this a tempest in a tea pot like hairgate was? Or is there genuine damage that`s been done here, for Loretta Lynch, or for the FBI investigation, or for the Clinton campaign?

Joining us now is Jonathan Capehart, "The Washington Post" opinion writer who interviewed Attorney General Loretta Lynch today.

And, Jonathan, first of all, congratulations on getting the interview of the day. I mean, great timing on your part.

First of all, let`s talk about that timing. You were scheduled to interview Attorney General Lynch anyway, right? Were you surprised that she kept that date with you?

JONATHAN CAPEHART, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, right. This interview was scheduled as part of the Ideas Festival, about a month and a half ago. So, it was on my calendar all along. And then, you know, tarmac-gate, if you want to call it that, blew up.

Last night I had one set of, you know, ideas in mind of how the interview would go. This morning, it was completely different. And I have to say, I`m not surprised that the attorney general went through with today`s session because as you said, she`s been transparent and pretty up front from the very beginning.

When this came to light, she did two press conferences. One in L.A., and one, I believe, in Phoenix, when it first happened. So, the fact that she sat down with me, and I want to make it clear, no preconditions. She sat down and waited for me to ask the question that the hundreds of people in the room and that the millions of Americans who were watching at the same time wanted to know.

REID: And, Jonathan, you work in Washington, obviously at "The Washington Post," you`re familiar with these sort of interactions between powerful people. When you heard this story initially, did it strike you as bizarre, or out of the ordinary, that two, you know, obviously officials who know each other, one a former president of the United States, that`s unusual to have a former president say, I`d like to say hello, right?

But apart from that, did it strike you as something particularly unusual or scandalous?

CAPEHART: It struck me as unusual. One thing to keep in mind, remember, about a month ago, President Clinton had a tarmac meeting with Senator Ted Cruz. So this is not something that is unusual.

But in this case, former President Bill Clinton, and the current sitting attorney general, Loretta Lynch, meeting on the tarmac, or running into each other on the tarmac, that is unusual. It is something that raised a lot of eyebrows, not just from people on the right, but also among Democrats, because we have to keep something in mind -- one, Hillary Clinton and the e-mail situation is being investigated by the FBI. So that`s an active investigation.

Two, the attorney general oversees the FBI. Three, Bill Clinton is the husband of someone who could potentially be the subject of an FBI criminal probe, if they decide that`s what needs to happen.

So, the idea that he would go onto the plane of the sitting attorney general, where there`s an active investigation going on is what struck everybody as somewhat insane. How on earth could this happen from -- how could the former president allow himself to do that? How could the current sitting attorney general allow it to happen?

But here in Aspen, there are a lot of people who know President Clinton, have dealings with President Clinton, and I have to tell you, no one here is surprised that President Clinton just did what he did.

REID: And very quickly, Jonathan, the 30 minutes is the thing that struck me as very eyebrow raising. What was Loretta Lynch`s explanation as to why she spent 30 minutes talking to the former president?

CAPEHART: Well, if you listen to the way Loretta -- the attorney general talks about the conversation that they had, there`s a lot of President Clinton talked about the grandkids, talked a lot about the grandkids. President Clinton talked about his golf game, and we talked about our summer travels.

President Clinton talked about -- the impression I got, both from the sit- down in front of the audience at Aspen, the sit-down I had with her on the record for ten minutes afterwards, and in those two press conferences that she had leading up to today, it is clear to me that the person doing most of the talking during those 30 minutes was President Clinton.

REID: Yes. And I`m sure at this point, I`m sure she wishes she had just declined.

Jonathan Capehart, "Washington Post" opinion writer, thank you very much for your reporting on this. Appreciate it.

CAPEHART: Thanks a lot.

REID: Thank you.

And much more to come tonight, including what could be a pivotal moment for the Donald Trump campaign. We`ll be right back.


REID: When you`re interviewing for a job, it`s all about turning negatives into positives. You know how they always ask you, what`s your biggest weakness? And you say something like, I just care too much.

Well, case in point, Newton Leroy Gingrich, the former speaker of the House, has been transparently auditioning for the job of Donald Trump`s running mate. Look, I`ll prove it to you. This was Donald Trump a few months ago giving a foreign policy speech. Watch.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania and this was a horrible period of time for us, were attacked.


REID: OK, so Donald Trump clearly bungled the pronunciation of Tanzania, his foreign policy speech. But job interview is about turning lemons into lemonades.

And Newt, he`s from Georgia, y`all, so he knows how to squeeze a lemon and add little sugar. Right after that speech, he tweeted. Quote, "Washington elites mock Trump for mispronouncing Tanzania. They don`t get it. He said the most important word correctly, America. He gets it."

No, you know who gets it? Gingrich. Gingrich gets it.

The veepstakes on the Republican side of the field are in full swing and we`ll have more on that in just a minute. Stay with us.


MADDOW: So there are three prevailing theories as to how a presidential candidate picks their V.P.? You pick someone you think will excite the party during the convention, you pick somebody from a state or an area to help you win on election night, or you pick somebody who help you govern after the election.

Being picked up as V.P. is an honor, but it`s also a strategic choice. That is, unless nobody wants the job. In which case, beggars can`t be choosers.

And given how hard it seems to be for Donald Trump to even secure people to speak on his behalf at the Republican National Convention where he will accept the nomination for president, it`s looking less and less like the Trump will be choosing a number two based on an unlimited A-list of top tier Republican talent and more like they`ll be choosing whoever will actually take the job.

At the moment, it appears three main contenders for the position are being, depending on who you believe, considered or vetted. Let`s tick through `em real quick.

The first is a man that we`ve seen spending a lot of time at Donald Trump`s side, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Pros: he gives you governing experience and a tough guy message with a prosecutorial background, big war on terror. And if the base wants somebody else to punch the Democrats in the face, so Trump can look more presidential, Christie can do that.

On the other hand, he`s Chris Christie. So there`s bridgegate, terrible approval ratings. Nobody in his own state wanted him to run for president, and New Jersey`s credit rating has been downgraded like nine times since he was elected, and he would make for a very Northeast heavy ticket.

Then there`s Indiana Governor Mike Pence who brings conservative movement credibility. He`s served as both governor and congressman, so he has plenty of experience and relationships on Capitol Hill. Also, NBC News has confirmed today that Mike Pence will be meeting with Trump this weekend.

On the other hand, Pence is not exactly exciting and he`s not well known, and the campaign doesn`t have lots of money on hand to spend raising his name ID. He`s also in the middle of a campaign of his own, running for re- election as Indiana`s governor. Technically, he`s not allowed to run for both positions. So, he`d have to choose between running for governor and running for V.P.

Finally, there`s the man that I believe Donald Trump has his eye on, former speaker of the house, Newton Leroy Gingrich, aka Newt, a man who gives him plenty of experience and plenty of knowledge of Washington politics and policy, but who, despite that, has managed to maintain credibility with the outsider wing of the conservative base. You could make the argument that there`s nobody in the world with more experience attacking and battling the Clintons. He did, after all, impeach President Clinton.

However, Newt Gingrich brings a boat load of baggage, including an ethics violation, documented infidelity and a history of comments that were at least, racially and culturally insensitive. And with three marriages of his own, that would bring the Trump-Gingrich ticket total to six.

Now, on top of those three picks, there are still wild cards floating out there. Governors Rick Scott and Mary Fallin of Florida and Oklahoma respectively. Senators Jeff Sessions, Bob Corker and Joni Ernst. Heck, even Sarah Palin is being used as a frequent surrogate for the Trump campaign. It would be great TV.

Joining us now to try and clear up a little bit of this haze is Karen Tumulty, national political correspondent for "The Washington Post" who has just written a piece detailing the state of the veep race.

All right, Karen, give us your best political reporting now on who Donald Trump`s top pick is right now. Who`s the odds-on favorite?

KAREN TUMULTY, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, at this moment, and again at this moment is a very qualified way of describing things with Donald Trump -- everything we`re hearing is that Newt Gingrich does seem to have the edge, that there are two leading candidates. Number one being Newt Gingrich, number two being Chris Christie, and then, you know, a constellation of six or eight others who are being looked at.

But you`re right, Gingrich would bring a lot of things to the ticket that Trump appears to be looking for. And the other qualification that people sometimes look for in a running mate is someone who reinforces their own message. I mean, that`s what we saw with Bill Clinton and Al Gore. You know, two, young southerners who were a generational change.

Well, Newt Gingrich would be -- have both the governing experience as you said, and sort of the anti-establishment cred as well.

REID: Yes, he would be doubling down on the Trump brand. I love fewer things more than being right. I hope we turn out to be right on there.

Let`s talk about who Donald Trump is consulting with in making this pick. Have you heard the scuttlebutt that there`s pushback from Paul Ryan world that they prefer they pick somebody to soften his edges, like Susana Martinez, who probably doesn`t want it, or somebody who`s a softer edge than Newt Gingrich, have you heard that?

TUMULTY: This pick is going to be made by a committee of one. It would be Donald Trump consulting Donald Trump. So I think that Paul Ryan`s recommendations or anything coming right now from the establishment is, you know, not going to necessarily have much sway.

REID: And what about the Chris Christie question? Because it does seem that he`s raising his hand and shaking it around in the air, trying to make sure he gets the attention of the committee of one, Donald Trump. In your view, in your reporting, is there something about bridgegate, his record in New Jersey, that is disqualifying him, and keeping him from getting from number two to number one?

TUMULTY: You know, I don`t necessarily think that there is anything at this point that`s disqualifying. But, you know, Newt Gingrich has -- I mean, Donald Trump has said that, you know, there`s going to be a spot for Chris Christie in a Donald Trump administration. So, you know, it could be some other job he`d have him in mind for.

REID: And, Karen, what do you make of this theory and I`ll just cop to it being my theory, that Donald Trump is looking for somebody who would sort of being willing to run Washington, if he were to become bored being president of the United States, somebody who would do the work, while we could enjoy the ceremony? What do you make of that?

TUMULTY: Well, that`s something you would get with Newt Gingrich, or somebody like that on the list. Newt Gingrich not only has command of the issues. He`s almost certainly gotten a national security clearance by having been on the defense science board. He knows how the gears grind on Capitol Hill.

REID: And, Karen, are there any other people that we`ve heard publicly mentioned, particularly the women on the list, people like Mary Fallin or Joni Ernst, who you`re hearing are not interested in being vetted for V.P., as we`ve heard about Condoleezza Rice?

TUMULTY: The thing about is, it`s you would have to ask -- no, I`m not hearing it. But you`d have to ask, what would you be giving up by way of future credibility and future options by being on this ticket if it, in fact, goes down in spectacular fashion in the fall, which is a real possibility in the minds of a lot of Republicans?

You know, for Newt Gingrich, it`s a new-lose proposition. It would increase his speaking fees and demand in Republican circles. But for somebody who might be looking at a spot on another ticket further in the future, this is a real risk.

REID: Yes, and I think you`ve nailed it on the speaking fees, the book deals, Rachel has talked about that up side to being a part of this process.

Really quickly, slip over to the Democrats. What do you make of the Kaine versus Warren back and forth? Is there anybody that you can report as an advantage on the Democratic side?

TUMULTY: Well, I sort of subscribe to the conventional wisdom here, that Tim Kaine would be a better fit for the innate caution that we know Hillary Clinton to have. Virginia is a very crucial state.

And you know, two women on a ticket would be very exciting, but her problem right now is winning over white guys. So, that would also seem to argue for Tim Kaine. Plus, for all the chemistry we saw in Ohio, there`s not a lot -- a very high comfort level between these two women personally.

REID: All right, we`ll see how that shakes out. I think you and I, we`ll be split. I think I`m on team warren, thinking she might have an edge, but I`ll divert to your expertise. Karen Tumulty, national political correspondent for "The Washington Post" -- thanks for your time. Really appreciate it.

TUMULTY: Thank you.

REID: Much more to come, including the latest example of the difference between red and blue states. We`ll be right back.


REID: What you`re looking at here in political terms is a green light. New polling this week shows Hillary Clinton leading in a slew of swing states, with margins from plus four in Iowa to plus 14 in Florida. Plus 14? Can that be right? Who knows? It`s way early.

But it`s not that early. In campaign terms, it`s not too early to spend. And now, looking at the state of the race and the polling, the Hillary Clinton campaign has announced they are buying ad time in Nebraska, which has not gone for a Democrat since 1964.

Now, Nebraska is not winner take all. There`s a swing district in Nebraska around Omaha. And Barack Obama shocked everyone by getting one electoral vote out of that district in 2008. He was only able to do it once. He wasn`t able to pull off the same trick again in 2012.

But now, Hillary Clinton is aiming for that one vote in 2016. Maybe that`s just a bluff. Maybe that`s just a show of strength. Or maybe the electoral map is turning bright blue this year.

More political news just ahead.


REID: This week, the RNC unveiled the stage design for this year`s Republican National Convention. It`s very exciting. They invited the press, they explained their line of thinking in terms of design.

And then, the big reveal or rather the tiny reveal. RNC showing off the model on what the stage will look like. The stage has been a very important aspect of the planning. Donald Trump told "The New York Times" he threw out earlier designs of the stage, quote, "I didn`t like the shape, too nothing, didn`t have the drama", doesn`t have the range.

Unfortunately for Donald Trump, the drama is turning up in other ways ahead of the convention, on a couple of different fronts. The first is when it comes to the actual content. We now have a growing list of Republicans who are not expected to participate in the convention, including Ohio Governor John Kasich, even though the convention is being held in his state. Donald Trump said he will not ask him to speak unless he endorses Trump.

In terms of who is being asked to speak, that`s a whole other cast of characters. Donald Trump tells "The New York Times" he`s thinking about asking tennis star Serena Williams, boxing promoter Don King, and the president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, Dana White. Former Chicago Bears` coach Mike Ditka who was a big Trump supporter said he too was asked but he turned him down, saying the event is not his style.

Earlier this week, it was reported that Mike Tyson was on the speaker short list, report that both Donald Trump and Mike Tyson have since denied.

So, other than Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Ben Carson and members of Donald Trump`s own family, who do not know of anyone confirmed to speak at the convention, which could be exciting or disastrous. The other mess on the RNC in Donald Trump`s hands is what is happening outside the actual convention, 50,000 people are expected to flood into Cleveland for the four-day long convention. Among them not only politicians and delegates and if Donald Trump gets his way, some professional athletes, protesters.

In addition to the anti-Trump protesters likely to show up, members of the Westboro Baptist Church are expected to make an appearance, as well as other members of the same white supremacist group that wreaked havoc in Sacramento over the weekend. The Cleveland Police Department has released an extensive security blueprint to ensure piece in and around the convention.

But the Cleveland police`s own record is not that stellar, having twice been probed by the Justice Department for problematic policing, and with the Tamir Rice case still looming in the minds of many black Clevelanders. Demonstrators will be permitted to walk freely throughout most part of the city, which means that all the demonstrators, anti-Trump protesters and white supremacist alike are probably going to at some point end up in the same area.

All of that on top of the fact that Ohio is open carry, fire arms will be allowed in the designated protest guns. No guns are not allowed into the arena, but the anticipated volatility surrounding the convention is starting to spook some delegates, causing some of them to announce they too will be bringing their guns to Cleveland, in the event of violent protest or even an ISIS attack. Seriously.

So much to watch out for in the days to come. Watch this space.


REID: It`s hard to believe comedian Chris Rock made this argument nearly 20 years ago because it still sounds so painfully funny and urgent and true.


CHRIS ROCK, COMEDIAN: You don`t need no gun control, you know what you need, we need some bullet control. We need to make -- we need to control the bullets, that`s right. I think all bullets should cost $5,000. $5,000 for a bullet. You now why, because if a bullet cost $5,000, there will be no more innocent bystanders. Yes.


REID: Bullet control.

Yes, Chris Rock proposed regulating ammunition back in 1999, a time when the nation was still reeling from school shootings like Columbine and also neighborhood violence as the country experience at the tail end of the crack epidemic and the associated gang violence.

Against that backdrop, Rock made his funny yet serious proposal, maybe instead of gun control, we should try bullet control. Maybe we should regulate bullets.

And now, in the very blue state of California, they are about to do just that. California Governor Jerry Brown today signed into law half a dozen new bills dealing with fire arms. Some of these new laws are controls on guns.

The governor signed new limits on assault weapons. He signed a new ban on high capacity magazines, but also the California governor signed, what I think Chris Rock would clearly recognize as bullet control. California will now require a background check to buy ammunition and an ID and the state will keep a database of ammunition sales.

Now, it`s worth noting that the Democratic governor also vetoed five new gun reforms sent to him by the Democratic control legislature. According to his veto statements, he rejected bills for being too vague or imposing to big a burden on lawful gun owners or simply because he does not think the bills would work to reduce gun violence. But Jerry Brown signed that sweeping measure for bullet control. Bullet control will now be the law of the land in California.

So once, again, states, particularly blue states, are able to pass meaningful gun reform to try and protect their citizens from on-going gun violence. This, while the United States Congress has done precisely nothing. However, after House Democrat staged a sit in last week.

Republican Speaker Paul Ryan says the bill will help suspected terrorists from being able to buy guns. Democrats are expecting the bill to be a narrower version of the measure okayed by the NRA. And so, whether Congress does anything about gun violence is still an open question, in terms of how much Republicans are willing to do in Congress and how much Democrats will be willing to sign on for in exchange for their support. We`ll start getting answers next week when the house returns to work. But at least for tonight, in California, at least for this one night, Chris Rock wins.


ROCK: You don`t need no gun control, you know what you need, we need some bullet control. We need to -- we need to control the bullets.


REID: Amen. That does it for tonight. I will see you again in just a few hours on my show "A.M. JOY". We`ll have an interview with Congressman Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrats on the House Benghazi Committee. We`ll also ask him about gun control, that is tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m. Eastern.

Now, it is time for "THE LAST WORD". Ayman Mohyeldin is in for Lawrence tonight.

Good evening, Ayman.