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The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 06/17/15

Guests: Mike Tomasky, Maria Teresa Kumar, Dana Milbank, Robert Reich, MikeMooneyham

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Rachel, are you trying to ruin my day off tomorrow? Is that what that whole thing was about? You know -- you know I`m taking tomorrow off, right? I always coordinate with you on that. MADDOW: Yeah. I wouldn`t say that I wasn`t trying to guilt you about it but I was kind of trying to guilt you about it. Come on, all of that stuff is going to happen. O`DONNELL: I`ve got serious family business that I`ve got to attend to, but you just brought me the closest I have ever been to regretting taking a day off. Not quite there but really close. MADDOW: Here to help. Thanks, Lawrence. O`DONNELL: Thanks, Rachel. Well, Republican leaders have not figured out how to deal with Donald Trump, but he says he has figured out how to fix ObamaCare, which actually puts him in complete agreement with Bernie Sanders. (START VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to repeal ObamaCare. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Supreme Court may do it for them. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have to get hit bay tractor, literally a tractor to use it. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It the language is clear. I hope the Supreme Court can read English. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two-thirds of the people who would lose their subsidies are in red states. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This seems like an example of cutting off your nose to spite your face. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The billionaire vanity candidate taking the escalator in the White House. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are a lot of people running for president of the United States. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Bush is an unhappy person. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Donald Trump took you on. You -- I`m sorry that -- (LAUGHTER) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I shouldn`t have done that. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don`t get to pay much with a skunk. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s not reluctant to slam other Republicans. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I watch you George Will or Charles Krauthammer, they`re losers. They`re just losers. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don`t really take criticism all that well. You lash back. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I lash back. Who should -- why wouldn`t I lash back? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Satire and reality have intersected. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whatever you say doesn`t matter because I`m gold and you are losers. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The world right now is going, whites are black, Trump`s running for president like -- (LAUGHTER) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Does gravity still work? (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Finally, there is a Republican. Exactly one Republican who knows what he wants to replace the Affordable Care Act with. Over the years, many Republicans have said they want to repeal and replace ObamaCare but only one has finally told us what the replacement would be. DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have to repeal ObamaCare and it can be repaired -- and it can be replaced with something much better for everybody. Let it be for everybody. But much better and much less expensive for people and for the government. And we can do it. Sorry, bad for us. O`DONNELL: And so Donald Trump appears to be, although surely he doesn`t realize this, in complete agreement with Bernie Sanders that we should have a universal health insurance system that is for everyone. Everyone should be in the same system. Just like everyone over 65 is in the same system, Medicare. Maybe Donald Trump himself has been on Medicare for the last few years, unlike most Medicare beneficiaries likes it so much that he wants something like that for everyone. Of course Donald reserves the right to change his mind about everything he says as soon as he realizes what he said, or as soon as some wise guy on TV explains to him what he said. So there`s no guarantee you will hear Donald say that again but he did make a bit of Republican history with that idea. Republicans in congress are having a much harder time coming up with a way to replace the subsidies in ObamaCare if the Supreme Court makes them unavailable in states that have not set up their own health insurance exchanges. Joining us now is Ezra Klein, the editor in chief of, and an MSNBC political analyst Dana Milbank, political columnist with the WASHINGTON POST and an MSNBC analyst Michael Tomasky, columnist with THE DAILY BEAST. Ezra Klein, what is the state of play in the house and the senate on what Republicans might want to do if the Supreme Court says reading the text of the Affordable Care Act in a -- in that telescopic way that the subsidies for purchasing health insurance will not be available to most of the states, since most of the states did not set up their own exchanges. [22:05:00] EZRA KLEIN, THE EDITOR IN CHIEF OF VOX.COM: I think it`s fair to say the state of play is complete chaos and incoherence. So there are at this point at least five or six Republican plans that I know of and a number of others that we`re hearing about behind closed doors including a long-rumored sort of house senate joint plan. But what all these plans have in common at some level is that they are trying to do two things that really don`t go together that well. They`re trying to simultaneously fix ObamaCare and repeal it. And so they have very peculiar structure. So you have a plan like the one from Senator Ron Johnson where it will on some level continue the subsidies for two years and then congress has to somehow develop an entire replacement for ObamaCare. And a lot of the plans have this kind of quality where there`s another plan out there that will continue the subsidies for a transition period but it will take out the individual mandate. So having fixed one problem in ObamaCare, it will create another gigantic problem in ObamaCare. And this is a problem for the Republican Party right now and I think it speaks very clearly to the politics of ObamaCare. Now that the law is actually delivering benefits to so many people according to the RAND foundation -- RAND institute, there`s about a 17 million net increase in the insured from the plan. Now it`s delivering benefits to so many people, they can`t just cut all those people off. On the other hand, if they want to be Republicans still, they have to show they`re still for appealing ObamaCare. And so you`re just getting kind of ridiculous plans and proposals put forward and it`s very hard to imagine any of them becoming law. O`DONNELL: Dana Milbank, we are hearing things from some Republicans` language that we never heard before. We have Senator Bill Cassidy, Republican in Louisiana saying "Doing nothing is not an option." That`s funny. It always has been. (LAUGHTER) DANA MILBANK, POLITICAL COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Worked just fine for -- in the last five or six years, huh. Well, look, I mean, I think what is happening now is the Supreme Court may be forcing Republicans in congress to grow up and actually take responsibility here. They`ve had a free shot at this since 2010. As they say, they don`t like it. It never had to come up with an alternative because the president wasn`t going to allow it to be repealed and replaced. Well, the Supreme Court may, for all intents and purposes, repeal it now. It`s just a piece of the program but you can see how the whole thing could -- could -- could very easily fall apart. And yes, it is going to make millions of people very unhappy what happens here and yes, a lot of those millions of people happen to be in Republican states and could put the Republican senate in jeopardy right now. So they are now in a position of being grownups and having to actually do something. And it`s going to be absolutely fascinating to watch, should the Supreme Court, I think in the unlikely event, actually decide to throw it into their laps. O`DONNELL: Well, let`s listen to a chorus of Republican presidential candidates who happen to be senators and their attitude toward ObamaCare. (START VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Imagine in 2017, a new president, signing legislation repealing every word of ObamaCare. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can`t repair this monstrosity. You got to tear it down and start all over. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Repeal or replace ObamaCare. I will take it and make it my mission to heal the nation, reverse the course of ObamaCare and repeal every last bit of it. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Michael Tomasky, if Ted Cruz was going to filibuster anything, wouldn`t it be something that tries to repair a hole in ObamaCare ripped open by the Supreme Court ? MICHAEL TOMASKY, COLUMNIST, THE DAILY BEAST: Sure he would. And he probably still will. But that highlights the dilemma that these guys face, right? Which is that on the one hand to appeal to primary base voters in the Republican Party, presidential process, they`re going to have to stick to that kind of rhetoric and they`re going to have to take a hard line. But on the other hand, when they look at what`s going to happen in some of these states, if the Supreme Court strikes down these subsidies they`re going to have to stop and think. Florida, 1.3 million people stand to lose their coverage in Florida. One -- do they really want to tell 1.3 million people, "You`re not going to have health care anymore."? So they have to say one thing for the purpose of primary voters but another thing for the purpose of the general election. And they run the risk of getting all twisted around here on that. O`DONNELL: Ezra Klein, there has been this disconnect between the Affordable Care Act and its beneficiaries and its beneficiaries understanding that they are actually using the Affordable Care Act since it goes under different names in different states. And so there are all sorts of beneficiaries out there who have no idea that they`re on a program created by President Obama. And many of them hate -- think they hate that program created by President Obama. And so, linking up the politics and the voting politics and the voting incentives to the Affordable Care Act has always been difficult. [22:10:00] KLEIN: Yes, they are going to -- if the Supreme Court rules against ObamaCare, they`re going to find out real quick where that insurance is coming from. But there`s another dimension to this, Lawrence, and I think it`s been completely under played in the coverage of this case. What the case does if the -- if the Supreme Court ruled for the plaintiffs is it could shut down the subsidies that are flowing through ObamaCare in these 34 states that are using a federal exchange. Presumably a lot of Democratic states which is about 12 of those or 10 of those would then build their own exchange and it wouldn`t be a huge deal for them that there might be disruption. But for the 24 Republican led states, presume they wouldn`t. What it doesn`t do, and this is really important, is it does not take away the taxes that the people on those states are paying for ObamaCare or the spending cuts that particularly the Medicare beneficiaries in those states are absorbing to pay for ObamaCare. So, in every one of those states and most of them haven`t accepted the Medicaid expansion either. You would then have a situation where Republican governors do not build their own exchange. They are not getting the subsidies for private insurance. They`re not getting the Medicaid subsidies. And their people are paying the taxes and their people are absorbing spending cuts. And It would make ObamaCare in totality, a tremendous subsidy from red states to blue states. ObamaCare become much much cheaper. It would become much more affordable. And it would become that way because all these red states rather than paying for what they`re getting in ObamaCare, they`d be paying and getting nothing. So it`s not just that you`re going to have all these pain at the bottom, but you`re going to continue to have the pain of paying for ObamaCare at the top. And it`s just like a fiscal disaster. It`s a very very strange position they would put themselves in. I`ve never quite seen anybody try to take down a bill by paying for it and so they`re refusing to take benefits. O`DONNELL: So, Dana, this is just a pure exercise in an ideology, an ideology that says we are absolutely against everything about ObamaCare. Because everything Ezra just outlined would be a rational road map for a Republican in the congress to say, "Look, I`m not going to leave my state in that situation." But these guys would be voting on something else than that road map. MILBANK: It would be rational for some of them to do that, indeed for most of them to do that. But, you know, there`s whatever 300 or so Republican members of congress and you have probably have 300 different opinions on this. I think Michael hit a real tension there between the Republican presidential candidates who really benefit greatly from just saying no, just obstructing and not letting anything replace it. That -- there`s no down side for them in just being obstructionists and blowing up whatever the Republican leadership in both houses want to do right now. So adding to this sort of policy disaster, that Ezra is talking about, you also have this political disaster between these two wings of the party. O`DONNELL: Ezra Klein, thank you for that great explanation on how this policy would work if the court rules that way and thanks for joining us tonight. KLEIN: Thank you. O`DONNELL: Coming up, the professor grades the candidates. Robert Reich is here with his report card on the economic policies of the presidential candidates. And Republican opinion leaders did not exactly welcome Donald Trump into the presidential campaign yesterday. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s right. Trump is running for president and he`s wasting no time getting down to business. Is that just after his announcement, he demanded to see Jeb Bush`s birth certificate. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) [22:15:00] O`DONNELL: Neil Young complained that Donald Trump used his song Rockin` in a Free World at that announcement yesterday. Tonight, the campaign, the Trump campaign released a statement saying Mr. Trump`s campaign paid for and obtained the legal right to use Neil Young`s recording of Rockin` in a Free World. Nevertheless we won`t be using it again despite Neil`s differing political views. Mr. Trump likes Neil very much. I will believe they paid for the song as soon as I see that on a Trump FEC report. Tonight, the campaign used Takin` Care of Business by Bachman-Turner Overdrive. Trump versus the Republicans is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (START VIDEO CLIP) CASEY HUNT, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Are you going to stay in this until the end? TRUMP: I will -- I mean, I`ll see how I do. If I do poorly I guess the answer is no, I`m not going to stay. I know when I`m doing well and I know -- HUNT: You`re going to be in... (CROSSTALK) TRUMP: Look, I have a message, that`s a tough message. It`s a message that our country is going to hell and we can make our country great again. I can make our country great again. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: That was, of course, MSNBC`s Casey Hunt with the newest, loudest candidate in the campaign for the Republican presidential nomination. While the Trump candidacy was greeted with joy by the late- night comedians, the resident intellectuals at Fox News were distraught. (START VIDEO CLIP) CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: It would be rather analytical overkill to parse the actual things he said. I think it was great showmanship (but extreme) of consciousness. I think his single most important statement was, "I am very rich." That`s the basis for the campaign. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You just can`t buy things in this country this way. And remember that the entire marketing genius of the Ford Motor Company was put behind the Edsel. He is an Edsel. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Donald Trump of course replied this morning on where else? Fox & Friends. (START VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: When I watch you George Will or Charles Krauthammer, and I watched them for years, they`re losers. They are just losers. They sit there. They haven`t done anything. Think about it, I`ve built a $9 billion net worth, I`ve employed tens of thousands of people. I do a television show. Becomes one of the biggest shows on all of television and NBC renewed it again, they are begging me to do it again and. I write a book called The Art of the Deal, it`s the number one selling business book of all time. And I got a jerk named Krauthammer or George Will saying, "Oh -- (CROSSTALK) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Trump, let me (talk with you) for a minute. I`m going to -- (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Joining the discussion now, Maria Teresa Kumar, president of Voto Latino and host of Changing America on Shift by MSNBC. Dana Milbank is still with us and Mike Tomasky is still with us. Maria Teresa, the Republican intelligentsia is not exactly thrilled about the arrival of Donald trump. MARIA TERESA KUMAR, PRESIDENT, VOTO LATINO: Not at all. This is exactly what they`re trying to avoid. That`s one of the reasons why they want to abstain from the Iowa Straw Poll because they recognized that they`re afraid of the Republican (base) who they actually might choose as a front runner. So, what he`s doing is he`s reminding voters of what a circus 2012 and 2008 were with Palin and Bachmann. And they`re frightened of him. But what I think he`s really telling is that after he said all those terrible things about Mexicans coming across the border, (pushed today was) New Hampshire, he had an opportunity to really go toe to toe with Donald and say, "You know, this is not about sticking blame. This is about standing up for the little guy. We`re not going to allow having that type of rhetoric in the debate because we really believe in the immigrants that come here that work hard." And he really, he missed that opportunity. O`DONNELL: Yes, Jeb Bush had nothing to say about it. But let`s listen to what Charles Krauthammer said about that. (START VIDEO CLIP) [22:20:00] KRAUTHAMMER: Can you really take seriously a candidate who says Mexico is not our friend? "It`s sending us immigrants who are criminals, drug dealers and rapists. Although," and this is my favorite part, he says, "some, I assume are good people." "I assume." (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Dana Milbank, I`d like to get your reaction but I have to warn you, you could end up being called a loser depending on what you say. MILBANK: Oh, I think we`re all in the same boat here, Lawrence. KUMAR: You won`t be out loser, Dana. I will be -- (CROSSTALK) MILBANK: I have the highest regard for my colleagues, George Will and Charles Krauthammer. I do not think they are losers. But I do think George Will is wrong about this when he says that money can`t buy you this in politics. It absolutely can and that`s why for all of the shenanigans that Donald Trump is up to, the fact he`s a carnival barker as President Obama says, he`s got a lot of money and he has the ability to effect the debate and people are going to pay attention to him because he can spend money. This is the system that the Republicans wanted, that the conservative justice on the Supreme Court gave us. This is what we have now. It`s all about how many billions you`ve got or how many billions your supporter has that they`re going to spend on your behalf. So, this is the system they wanted. And now we see what it is like. O`DONNELL: Now, most Republicans out there running for president are trying to run every day against Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama at the same time. But Donald Trump is going right at the Republicans. Let`s listen to what he said in New Hampshire today about how disappointed he is in Republicans. (START VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: What I`m disappointed is our Republican politicians. It`s all talk and no action. Always, always, always. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Mike Tomasky, unfortunately for the Republican party he`s got something of a point there about them being all talk and no action. TOMASKY: Sure he does. You know, that kind of message going to be appealing to a certain segment of people. O`DONNELL: Yes. TOMASKY: Maybe a big segment of people. Maybe not so much in Iowa but in New Hampshire, yes. And other places I can see it, too. You know, there`s no great love for establishment politicians. Even among hard-core dedicated primary voters. But what I think is going to catch him, Lawrence, eventually is, you know, you do have to kind of, even in the context of a Republican presidential primary, you kind of have to know policy and you kind of have to come up with policy proposals where at least you are pretending to have serious math and serious imperial data behind what you are proposing. Yes, I don`t know, maybe he`ll do that. Maybe he will surprise us and, you know, come up with some creative way to save the Social Security trust fund. But I don`t really see him as being that kind of candidate and I think it will catch up with him and the act will get a little bit old. O`DONNELL: Well, let`s show an example of that with Casey Hunt where she asked him specifically since he had said, you know, "Let`s go in to Iraq and get that oil." Obviously it`s going to take troops to do that. So she asked him how many troops does he want to send to Iraq. Let`s listen to this? (START VIDEO CLIP) HUNT: How many troops do you think America needs to have in Iraq right now? TRUMP: Well, I think what you`re going to have to do is take back -- and I have been saying it for a long time, keep the oil. And I was right, and now people are saying that he was right. I`ve always said keep the oil. And you looked at my original from 2004 said don`t go in to Iraq. And I said strongly and people came to me from the Bush administration because of the fact I guess they get a lot of press and they said could you be a little bit -- and I said I can`t do it. You`re going to destabilize the entire Middle East and yet I`m big on the military. But it was a mistake. Once you`re in you have to stay there, but I said, "If you`re going to leave, keep the oil because somebody else is going to get it and they`re not going to be good." And ISIS has the oil. You have to take it away. HUNT: So, how many troops should we have there now? TRUMP: I can`t tell you that. But you have to take the oil. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Maria Teresa, how many troops should you have there? KUMAR: I don`t know. O`DONNELL: The answer is I don`t know. KUMAR: I don`t know. But it`s actually worse than he is saying take the oil. What he`s saying is that we actually have to continue fighting on the ground in Iraq. He doesn`t realize that means that you`re talking about more military spending, more military families who are at risk. And it just talks about how flippant he is and how flippant he is with American people`s lives and not actually addressing the issue. It`s much more than the oil. Again, it just demonstrates how unsophisticated he is when it comes to policy issues. Good for Casey, she kept pressing him. O`DONNELL: And Dana to Mike`s point about it, some point you have to be substantive and say something real with a real number in it. MILBANK: Yes. O`DONNELL: Is that or is that going to apply to Donald Trump? I`ve been wondering because he just doesn`t do that or makes stuff up. And, you know, he has no intention of being specific about things. [22:25:00] MILBANK: You know, in an ideal world, Lawrence, I think that would be true. And eventually it would catch up with you. I`m not so sure it is going to apply here because think about it, we have a dozen declared Republican candidates and another half dozen or so waiting in the wings there. Imagine what this debate is going to look like. They were not going to have any time to get into policies or pressing anybody on any particular point of view. And I think, you know, Hillary Clinton, of all people, have set the example that you don`t actually have to be particularly detailed in what policy you`re putting out there. I think, you know, Donald Trump, yes, he`s a joke but he`s also a very sharp guy. And knows perfectly how to exploit this ludicrous system that we have here to his own advantage, to elevate him. He admitted to me the last time he flirted with running that he in fact was doing it to elevate his publicity in advance so he could get a better deal when he renewed his reality TV show. He knows exactly how to exploit this system, but he`s pretty clever and I think he has some staying power because he knows how to do it. O`DONNELL: Now, Donald Trump said that they had 5,000 people at his announcement yesterday. MSNBC observers said it was 300 people. Casey Hunt was there and saw it was 300 people. Donald Trump tried to tell her it was 5,000. We now know that a -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s the number of troops in Iraq. O`DONNELL: Yes. There`s a number for you. KUMAR: Give or take. O`DONNELL: Right. We now know that there was a casting agency that casts extras that was employed to supply people for the Trump event, the e- mail has surfaced saying we`re working on helping one of our associates, Gotham GR with a big event happening on Tuesday. And I love that this being sent out to actors and knowing that a lot of these actors might be liberal. It says to them at some point, "we understand this is not a traditional background job but we believe acting comes in all forms and this is inclusive of that school of thought." So there was acting, not just at the podium yesterday, there was acting in the audience. And the Trump campaign says absolutely not. We didn`t pay anybody. And Mike, this is where the FEC reports are going to be so much fun because the Trump campaign, they may not realize it but they are under a legal obligation to report that they paid for that. TOMASKY: Yes. O`DONNELL: And we`ll see in some months whether they did or not, or whether they are just going to lie about it or try to get away with it. TOMASKY: Well, guess what I think. Yes. One of my first thoughts upon hearing this story was what if Hillary Clinton have tried to hire actors. What kind of story would that be? And she actually did have 5,000 people at her thing. But putting that aside, I mean, you know, this kind of thing makes me wonder, you know, he`s going to vault this in to crazy territory that I think we haven`t seen. KUMAR: Right. TOMASKY: Herman Cain last time around kind of did that job. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. TOMASKY: You know, his 999 and then the, you know, those allegations that came up against him and some of the ways that he spoke. And he`s similar, you know, outsider, rich guy. But Trump is just going to topple Cain. O`DONNELL: All right. Quick break. We`re going to come right back. Coming up, as suggested by our audience on Twitter we will present the hilarious sampling of the late-night comedian`s reactions to candidate Trump. [22:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that Bush is a nice man. I call him -- he`s a man that doesn`t want to be doing what he`s doing. I call him the reluctant warrior and warrior is probably not a good word, but I think Bush is an unhappy person. I don`t think he has any energy. I don`t see how he can win. In addition to that, he`s in favor of common core and he`s weak on immigration. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: That is Donald Trump in a taped interview with "MORNING JOE" which will air tomorrow morning 6:00 to 9:00 a.m. Mike Tomasky, there he is, once again just going straight at Jeb Bush. That`s who he talks about the most, that`s who he attacks the most. MIKE TOMASKY, THE DAILY BEAST: Yes. And you know, his assessment didn`t seem too far off to me. That`s what Bush exudes on the campaign trail to me and probably exudes it to a lot of people. So there may be a lot of people sitting around, saying, you know, Trump`s kind of right there. Trump kind of has a point there. It`s an interesting -- it`s going to be an interesting experiment, Lawrence, because he`s going to say these ungoverned things, these unfiltered things, and some of them are going to be crazy. Some of them are going to be kind of true. Whether people decide they want to vote for somebody like that, Republicans, he`s not going to get to the point of being in a general election but whether Republicans decide they want to vote for somebody who says half crazy things and half true things that other people are afraid to say, I don`t know. It`s going to be interesting to watch. O`DONNELL: Well, let`s look at how Jeb fought back today in a discussion with Sean Hannity. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Donald Trump took you on in a speech today about Common Core and immigration. I want to ask you, you -- (LAUGHTER) JEB BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Sorry. I shouldn`t have done that. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Maria Teresa, that`s it. He just -- all he does was his little chuckle. He -- literally he hasn`t figured out any words to come back against Trump with. MARIA TERESA KUMAR, VOTO LATINO PRESIDENT: Right. And for him, these are softball questions, right? For him to say that you don`t -- you haven`t figured out immigration. He actually has figured out immigration in a way that is persuasive to the majority of the American people. Not just for Latino, but for the majority of the American people. Common Core is something that is going to get a lot of people upset, sure. But you have to start standing for something. And this is an opportunity for him to basically deride Trump and saying you are actually trying to be the lowest common denominator of policy and what we`re trying to say is we actually should rise above that and talk about the issues that the American people care about, but he decided to swat it away. And that I think is what`s going to get him into trouble. O`DONNELL: All right. Here`s Jeb Bush at his absolute meanest, attacking Donald Trump today in Iowa. See if you can figure out if there`s actually an attack in here. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BUSH: There are a lot of people running for president of the United States. Last time I checked another guy showed up yesterday. I mean it`s like -- I haven`t checked this morning but I`m sure there is somebody else running. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Dana, that`s how you scare Donald Trump. DANA MILBANK, WASHINGTON POST: He`s a riot, that man, isn`t he? In his starched shirt, you can still see the creases in it. Well, look, I mean, I -- the philosophy of what he`s doing makes sense. You don`t want to engage with Donald Trump because then you elevate him to your level or reduce yourself to Donald Trump`s level if that`s possible. But, you know, think about it. You know, Jeb Bush is the nominal front runner with, what, 11 percentage points in the polls? So, you know, he`s not really -- he doesn`t really have the luxury of doing that. And with Donald Trump`s name recognition, well, he has a chance to bump some very serious contenders like John Kasich in Ohio and others off the stage. So they are going to have to deal with this guy and answer his questions. And I suspect that does demean everybody in the field, but, you know, in fairness the other 11 have done plenty of things to demean themselves already. O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to something else he says and you will see tomorrow in the "MORNING JOE" interview. This time rating past presidents. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MIKA BRZEZINSKI, MSNBC`S MORNING JOE: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to MORNING JOE. JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC`S MORNING JOE: Well, he did it. BRZEZINSKI: Yes. SCARBOROUGH: People said he wasn`t going to do it. BRZEZINSKI: He finally officially did it. SCARBOROUGH: He did it. BRZEZINSKI: Everyone thought, oh, this could be another maybe like I`m going -- SCARBOROUGH: Sort of a tease. Yes. BRZEZINSKI: What happens to "The Apprentice"? SCARBOROUGH: Well, I guess -- that is the real question. BRZEZINSKI: No. There is -- I don`t think it`s only fair. SCARBOROUGH: A lot of money involved there. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: OK. That`s not the slot. I will read it to you. The control room just put up the wrong tape. So they ask him on "MORNING JOE" who`s the best of the past three presidents. Bush, Clinton or the first Bush or President Obama and Donald Trump says that Clinton was the best, that he picks the Democratic president, Bill Clinton, Mike Tomasky, with two Republicans sitting there, waiting to be picked as the best of that group of presidents. TOMASKY: Yes. Well, you know, I knew that -- I didn`t know what the answer was going to be but as you were setting it up I knew he was going to say Clinton, and I think he doesn`t like those Bushes at all. And you know, this is -- I can only say what I said the last time. I mean, you know, this might work. MILBANK: So crazy if -- TOMASKY: It might work. You know? You know, most people, even Republicans -- O`DONNELL: But Mike, Mike, Mike, let me hold you there. When you say might work, you mean it might work in that he has a bubble like Herman Cain and floats up for a while before he sinks? You don`t mean might work like he might get the Republican nomination? TOMASKY: No, no. No, I don`t think he`s going to get the Republican nomination. But -- MILBANK: If only. TOMASKY: Yes. (LAUGHTER) TOMASKY: Combined with his money, he can stay in for as long as he wants to with his money. He can probably do fairly well. As I said earlier, it`s going to wear thin. But it might take a while. It might take a while. KUMAR: Well, I think -- I mean, and part of it to Donald Trump, he is what other folks like about Chris Christie is that he speaks his mind. And that to some is going to be incredibly appealing. The problem is that he doesn`t elevate the conversation. And at the end of the day I think the American people are actually at this point frustrated and they`re looking for solutions and they`re going to be looking at both parties very closely to find out who can actually appeal to the most. O`DONNELL: Maria Teresa Kumar gets the LAST WORD on Donald Trump tonight. There will be many more words. KUMAR: Wow. O`DONNELL: Unbeknownst. MILBANK: No doubt. O`DONNELL: Dana Milbank, Mike Tomasky, Maria Teresa, thank you all for joining us tonight. KUMAR: Thank you, Lawrence. MILBANK: Thank you. O`DONNELL: Coming up, we have report cards, actual report cards on the presidential candidates. Professor Robert Reich will explain his grades that he gave them. And we will have a live report from upstate New York on the hunt for those escaped prisoners and the new twist in the murder plot that they were allegedly planning. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: The report cards are in and the presidential candidates have been graded on their economic policy and the professor who gave those grades is here to explain. Joining us now is former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, professor of public policy at the University of California-Berkeley. Professor Reich`s film "Inequality for All" is now available on Netflix, iTunes, DVD and On Demand. All right, Professor, let`s start with the front runner for the Democratic presidential nomination and the front runner for the presidency since she`s beating pretty much everyone in these polls. Hillary Clinton, what grades do you give her on economic policy? ROBERT REICH, PROFESSOR OF PUBLIC POLICY, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA- BERKELEY: Well, good evening, Lawrence. I think Hillary Clinton gets an A on explaining the problem. She was very, very effective Saturday in terms of making it very clear that inequality, widening inequality is the central dilemma, central problem of our economy. And the analysis of that inequality was also very good. I give her an A or an A-minus. She said that when you have so much money and wealth at the top, you know, the people at the top can rig the game. To rig the economic gain to their advantage and to disadvantage for everybody else. But I give her a C or D, maybe even a failing grade in terms of being specific about what she`d do about it. Now it is pretty early in this campaign season so I`m going to wait before I give her a final grade on that. But she was -- she didn`t talk about raising taxes on the wealthy. She didn`t talk about busting Wall Street`s biggest banks. She didn`t talk about any of the other structural things you probably need to do to begin to reverse the trend. O`DONNELL: But, you know, in terms of tax increases, as a specific thing for Hillary Clinton to get into now, the political consideration of that would say, don`t be specific about that. Don`t go into that now. I mean, in your report cards, can you factor in how they are managing the politics, and is it wise politics, for example, for Hillary Clinton to not say anything right now about the top income tax bracket? REICH: Well, I think it`s unwise not to mention that the way she`s going to fund more and better education, preschool, all the other things she wants to do is by raising the taxes on the wealthiest. People in the society have never been wealthier. And, you know, that is not going to cause consternation among the Democratic base. It`s not even going to cause consternation among the majority of Americans. Polls show that most Americans actually think the wealthy ought to be paying more in taxes. But it may cause some consternation, some upset among some of her sources of funding. And therein lies a political -- well, a dilemma for Hillary Clinton. O`DONNELL: All right. Bernie Sander`s report card. REICH: Well, I give A -- an A to Bernie Sanders with regard to the two issues I mentioned before, that is explaining the central dilemma that is inequality and talking about why it is such a huge problem. I think Bernie Sanders` only weakness, and this is particularly true, and particularly anybody who`s coming at this as an outsider has got to bear a high burden of proof with regard to explaining how you -- you kind of gain the political power. The political clout to turn things around. And I think again it`s early in the season. But Bernie Sanders has got to talk about building a movement, how he would actually build a movement to take back our economy and take back our democracy. O`DONNELL: And Jeb Bush`s report card. (LAUGHTER) REICH: Well, Jeb Bush talks about a 4 percent economic growth. That is his goal. I mean, this is classic establishment Republican rhetoric. They want economic growth. A lot of established Democrats want economic growth. But the problem is economic growth is not going to get you necessarily good jobs. Trickledown economics doesn`t work. We know that. O`DONNELL: And quickly, before we go, Donald Trump`s report card? REICH: Well, I`d kick him out of the class. He`s a class clown. We don`t need him. (LAUGHTER) O`DONNELL: Robert Reich, thank you very much for joining us. REICH: Thanks, Lawrence. O`DONNELL: We have breaking news now in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, where there`s been a shooting inside a church. We will have more on that when we come back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: We have breaking news. Police and emergency responders are on the scene of what police confirm is a shooting inside a church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina. Dispatchers tell a local NBC affiliate in Charleston that the call came in just after 9:00 Eastern from the Emanuel AME Church on Calhoun Street. That church is known as Mother Emanuel. There are reports that several people have been shot. And the suspect has not been caught. The "Charleston Post and Courier" reports that police are in groups and searching on nearby streets. The paper also reports the police spokesman, Charles Francis, said the suspect is a 21-year-old white male in a gray sweatshirt -- gray sweatshirt, hoodie and jeans with Timberland boots and that he has a slender built. The paper says officers are wearing bulletproof vests and carrying guns. We`re joined now by phone from Charleston by Mike Mooneyham, he`s the news editor for "The Post and Courier" newspaper. Mike, what more do we know about the situation now? MIKE MOONEYHAM, CHARLESTON POST AND COURIER: Well, the details are pretty sketchy. But pandemonium broke out around 9:00 p.m. at 110 Calhoun Street. And that is the site of a 150-year-old predominantly black church called Mother Emanuel AME Church. We have reports that as many as eight people were shot as far as fatalities are concerned, we don`t have an exact number, everything is very fluid at this point. Police are looking for the gunman and as you said suspect is a 21-year-old white male in a hoodie. We`ve got helicopters in the air. FBI on the ground. And they are turning away drivers and steering everyone away from that area and requesting that everyone stay indoors. O`DONNELL: Mike, were all of the shooting victims brought to the same hospital there? MOONEYHAM: I believe so, yes. I believe so. Like I said, this is -- this just happened in the last hour and a half. So we`ve got -- we`re being flooded with reports. It`s pretty much of a mad house out there in downtown Charleston. O`DONNELL: And no information yet on the condition of the shooting victims? MOONEYHAM: No. We know we have as many as eight victims but we don`t -- we don`t have a number on fatalities. We don`t know there are fatalities but we know there is at bit least one chaplain on the scene. O`DONNELL: Mike Mooneyham, thank you very much for joining us during this difficult evening. Thank you very much. MOONEYHAM: Sure thing. You are welcome. O`DONNELL: We`re going to go to upstate New York now for new details tonight about the hunt for those escaped prisoners from that maximum security prison up there. MSNBC`s Adam Reiss is live. Adam, what do we know tonight? What is developing there? ADAM REISS, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Lawrence. Tonight they are expanding the perimeter beyond the 16 miles where they have been searching. Redeploying sources. The 600 searches they have. Specifically they`re going to look at the ferries that go across Lake Champlain into Vermont, the highways and the trains. Any way that these guys could have gotten out of here quickly. Also they are looking into Joyce Mitchell and the fact that she knew these fugitives were going to go to her home and kill her husband as soon as they escaped. This before she got cold feet. We also learned that she used her own cell phone to call Richard Matt`s daughter. Very unusual. Here`s the district attorney. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ANDREW WYLIE, CLINTON COUNTY, NEW YORK DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I think she feared for her husband`s life. She feared for her relationship with her family. She has not indicated to us at anytime that she feared for her life from these two men. (END VIDEO CLIP) REISS: Now her husband, Lyle, met with investigators today. This was his second time. He has not been charged. We`ve heard from his attorney that he is shell shocked and he is certainly not standing by his wife. Lawrence, this is day 12th. Still no solid leads and they are still on the run. O`DONNELL: And Adam, what are they doing in terms of -- what resources are they bringing to a wider search outside of that geographic area? REISS: Well, we saw at the press conference today, they have officials from every law enforcement agency you can imagine. Sheriff, FBI, Marshals Service, state, federal, local. They are bringing all the resources to bear. They`re not only looking in this area, they are still looking here. They said they have no reason to believe they left but they`ve expanded the search. They are in the mountains beyond me and they`re just looking everywhere. They have not given up. O`DONNELL: Adam Reiss, thanks for joining us tonight. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: Up next, we`re going to go back live to that shooting scene in Charleston. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: Back with us by phone is Mike Mooneyham, he is the news editor of the "Charleston Post and Courier" in Charleston, South Carolina, where there`s been a shooting incident at a church there. Mike, could you recap for us what we know about this shooting so far? MOONEYHAM: Yes. Eight people shot. Apparently inside or near Mother Emanuel AME Church. It`s an old, historic 150-year-old church in downtown Charleston right in the heart of the city. Gunman still being sought. Latest news, someone was detained and I believe handcuffed, but it turned out to be a photographer who was in the area. They pretty much tried to clear the area of anyone who shouldn`t be there. And telling everyone to get away and stay inside because this suspect is a 21-year-old male and is still on the loose. O`DONNELL: We`re joined now by MSNBC`s Benjy Sarlin. He is at the scene of that shooting in Charleston. Benjy, was there -- do we know if there was any special event going on there? It`s a Wednesday night in the church. Not necessarily a busy time for churches. BENJY SARLIN, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Right now we have very limited information. I do not know what the theme was at the church at the time the shooting began. Right now I am on the (INAUDIBLE) Crawford Street at a hotel where police have set up tape. There is a helicopter circling overhead with floodlights. I don`t know if it`s searching for someone or not but it`s repeatedly circling the area. There were some very distraught people. I`m not sure if they came from the church themselves or not but they seem to be in shock, delirious. Nearby across the street at the hotel before they were escorted away by police to talk with them. So it`s a tense scene right now. There are at least two to three dozen, perhaps more police in the area, fire trucks but very few people besides that. Not a lot of gawkers or people from the neighborhood. Not a lot of evidence of other people who were inside the church or witnesses at the time in view. So it`s -- despite the amount of people it`s eerily quiet over here. O`DONNELL: Benjy, it seems to be -- the report seems to be of one gunman entering the church. Just one man in a hoodie. A white person firing that gun. That so -- it seems to be a single individual that the police are trying to find now. SARLIN: That is the info we have from the police. That it is a white male, somewhere around 21 years old. That is the limited information we have, though. We do not know if this person is in custody or not. All we have is that vague description. O`DONNELL: Benjy Sarlin and Mike Mooneyham, thank you both very much for joining us on this story, on this breaking news. Thank you. Chris Hayes is up next. END