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The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 09/30/15

Guests: Jonathan Alter, Howard Dean, E.J. Dionne, Michael Steele, JonathanAllen

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: 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 O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Thanks Rachel, your reporting on these death penalty drugs for more than the last year has just been extraordinary and no one`s covered it the way you have. MADDOW: Oh, thank you for saying so, I appreciate it, thanks, Lawrence -- O`DONNELL: Thanks, Rachel -- MADDOW: Thanks. O`DONNELL: We have new information tonight about who arranged the Pope`s meeting with Kim Davis. And Republicans spent the day criticizing the President for what`s happening in Syria, but none of them would say what they would do in Syria, except Donald Trump. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A significant show of force from Russia in its alleged fight against ISIS. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But U.S. officials say the targets are anti-Assad rebels. SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: We are seeing the true intentions of Vladimir Putin. HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Russia and Iran and their proxies want to keep Assad in power. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That approach is tantamount to pouring gasoline on the fire. JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE, UNITED STATES: It is imperative to find a solution -- DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The question was asked of me, why don`t you tell us exactly what you`re going to do in Syria? I said, I don`t want to tell you. MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will support the Republican nominee. I don`t think that`s going to be Donald Trump. REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A surprising admission about the Benghazi investigating committee. MCCARTHY: We put together a Benghazi special committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The dumbest statement I`ve -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Heard since 47 percent -- EUGENE ROBINSON, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: Classic definition of a Washington gaffe, which is accidentally telling the truth. CLINTON: Demonstrates unequivocally that this was always meant to be a partisan political exercise. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would have slugged the guy -- (CROSSTALK) I would have wait in case -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know -- (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: At the end of the day that saw Russia`s first 20 combat flights over Syria, Secretary of State John Kerry met with Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SERGEY LAVROV, FOREIGN MINISTER OF RUSSIA: We agreed that the military should get into contact with each other very soon. But we all want Syria democratic, united, secular; Syria, which is a home for all ethnic and confessional groups, whose rights are guaranteed, but we have some differences as for the details on how to get there. JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: It is one thing, obviously, to be targeting ISIL. We`re concerned, obviously if that is not what is happening. We also agreed that it is imperative to find a solution to this conflict and to avoid escalating it in any way. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: The Russian military action in Syria provoked Republican attacks on President Obama in the Senate, beginning as usual on military matters with John McCain. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MCCAIN: It`s time that President Obama woke up to the realities in the world and re-assert American leadership. And that does not mean that we`re going to send thousands of ground troops back into Iraq or Syria. But it does mean that we develop a policy. What we should be saying to Vladimir Putin is that you fly, but we fly anywhere we want to, when and how we want to and you better stay out of the way. That`s the message that should be sent to Vladimir Putin. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: The Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee appeared on "Meet the Press" daily to criticize the president. But like John McCain, he could not come up with a single specific policy recommendation of his own. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHUCK TODD, MODERATOR, MEET THE PRESS: If President Obama came to you, called you up -- and I know you guys have good personal relationship -- and he said, what would you recommend Senator Corker I do right now in response to this? SEN. BOB CORKER (R-TN), CHAIRMAN, SENATE COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: So, that`s a great question, and of course, we`ve gotten to the place where it`s very difficult to even get a good answer. And I recommended and voted for us hitting them back in 2013 in August, early September -- TODD: By the way, you were -- CORKER: I can now -- TODD: One of a small minority, by the way -- CORKER: Well, he -- TODD: On both sides of the aisle -- CORKER: Asked for it, he asked for it and I supported. I believe you support the commander-in-chief when he lays down a red line. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Today, the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLINTON: I don`t think it`s clear yet what Russia is really up to. From what I have heard, they may or may not be targeting known ISIS refuge positions. They may be going after Assad`s enemies and claiming that it`s ISIS. That`s the problem that we`ve got now in Syria. There are so many players, so I think what President Obama has tried to do is to keep the focus on where it needs to be. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: And the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination said this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: So, you have ISIS that wants to take on Assad. So we`re fighting ISIS, but we want to fight Assad. Why don`t you let those two fight for a little while -- (LAUGHTER) And take over the remnants, right? I mean -- (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Howard Dean, former Vermont governor and former Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Also with us, Jonathan Alter, columnist for "The Daily Beast" and an MSNBC analyst, and E.J. Dionne, opinion writer for "The Washington Post" and an MSNBC analyst. Jonathan Altar, starting with the last commentator there, Donald Trump, why not just let them slug it out? JONATHAN ALTER, COLUMNIST, DAILY BEAST: Well, you know, that was our policy during the Iran-Iraq war, which went on for years, which was essentially -- let them both lose. But Russia has complicated that strategy. And I think they have confounded the Obama administration which did not expect that Russia would do this. When it became involved militarily, I think they assumed that at the beginning, they would join them in fighting ISIS. But we know tonight from the late reports, that they are bombing positions in the Hamas region of Syria that are held by moderate opponents of the Assad regime, not ISIS. They are bombing U.S. allies inside Syria. So, Putin has double-crossed the administration and you can see why, you know, inside the White House, they might be taking the Trump view. Which is, let`s just wash our hands off this and let them -- let them fight it out without our involvement. O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what more of what Trump said tonight in New Hampshire about Putin. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: So now we have Putin, said I`m going into Syria and I`m going to knock the hell out of ISIS, he said, and I`m saying what`s so bad with that? You know, is there anything wrong with that? That`s OK, it`s all right. But I also say, we want to be strong, we can`t let him push us around. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Howard Dean, you could spend all day trying to find a Republican who would tell you what to do next in Syria, that there`s no way none of them are coming up with that. HOWARD DEAN, FORMER VERMONT GOVERNOR: There are some things that have to be done. And -- because we can`t just let them "fight it out". There`s literally hundreds of thousands of civilians being killed. And it`s also creating an enormous crisis in Europe, which is a problem. I think it`s time for a no-fly zone and we may have to confront the Russians. I personally think that unless you confront the Russians in their backyard, they`re going to back off, Syria is not their backyard. So, there are parts of Syria which are reasonably peaceful. But we ought to put a no-fly net over those as we did in Kurdistan and after the -- after the -- Saddam gassed thousands of them. And we`re going to have to get involved, I don`t think we should have ground troops in. The moderate -- so called moderate Syrians, I think Obama was right not to get involved with that because all the arms we sent over there were going to end up in somebody else`s hands that mean us harm. But this is a huge problem and it`s time to intervene for humanitarian reasons because it`s a solution to the European refugee crisis. O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Jon. ALTER: I just -- man, I don`t get about that is that, if you apply a no- fly zone, you`re basically going eyeball to eyeball with the Russians. We`ve given them essentially a green light to get involved militarily. It`s pretty hard for us now to say, no, not only can you not become involved militarily, but we`re going to enforce a no-fly zone. DEAN: See, I don`t think we -- ALTER: Then you really are talking about a possible -- DEAN: I don`t think we gave them a green light because -- ALTER: They should -- DEAN: We gave them a green light to attack ISIS, but I don`t think we gave them a green light to do worse to his own -- I mean, you know, Assad has been chlorine-bombing these people. Now Russia is bombing the hell out of civilians is what he`s doing. And I just don`t see how we can put up with that. And I think, as I said before, my calculation about the Russians is, if you take them on in their backyard, they`ll be tough. If you take them on in an interest which is really their interest -- it`s the only thing they understand, Jonathan. We can talk all we want to Lavrov, he lies every day, Putin lies every day, there`s nothing you can do -- ALTER: And they lied on this, they said they were going to -- DEAN: They absolutely -- ALTER: ISIS positions -- DEAN: And they lie on Ukraine and they lie and they lie. So, people like that only respect force. I don`t advocate attacking the Russians, but I do advocate carving out a safe zone for Syrians so we ,A, can deal with the European refugee crisis. And ,B, so we can at least have some part of Syria which is reasonably well governed and immune from the kinds of attacks that you see -- (CROSSTALK) ALTER: This could be becoming a crisis in U.S.-Russia relations, it`s escalating -- DEAN: All right, we`ve had a crisis in U.S.-Russian forces for three years and nobody has done anything about it. O`DONNELL: E.J. Dionne, have you heard a proposal today that sounds like the route worth taking going forward? E.J. DIONNE, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: Well, I think the reason no one can come up with a really good option is, there is no really good option in Syria. There`s never been a great option in Syria. I mean, you know what the end game has to look like. There has to be a negotiation that eventually gets Assad out of power and that guarantees rights to the various peoples of Syria. It`s a lot of people cobbled together in one country, a different religious orientations within Islam. But getting there is very nearly impossible. And Jonathan is right, the Russians really did double-cross us, it looks like they were bombing the free Syrian army who are the people probably closest to us in Syria. And so I think that the administration has to push the Russians back away from this policy. But that will not -- that will not be easy. The question is, what is Putin really in this for? Is he really trying to prop Assad up for the long run? Is he trying to strengthen him for the short run for negotiations, or is he doing this mostly for domestic reasons? He`s got a slew of problems back in Russia, and he wants to tell the Russian people, see, I am making Russia important again in the world, but where does that play out in the long run in Syria? It`s not clear to me, I got to say. O`DONNELL: Donald Trump made news tonight on the humanitarian side of this crisis; the refugees who are fleeing that area. He had a message for any of the refugees who managed to make it into the United States. Let`s listen to that. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Now, I hear we want to take in 200,000 Syrians, right? And they could be -- listen, they could be ISIS, I don`t know. Did you ever see a migration like that? And I`ll tell you right now, and I`m putting everybody on notice, and hopefully this gets outside of this room and I guess it will with all these crazy cameras going back there. I`m putting the people on notice that are coming here from Syria as part of this mass migration, that if I win, if I win, they`re going back, they`re going back. I`m telling you, they`re going back. (APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Jonathan Alter, that was his biggest cheer in that crowd tonight. ALTER: Well, you know, as he would say, that disgusts me. I mean, has he ever heard of the Statue of Liberty. You know, these are suffering people, these are not terrorists and they face enormous hardship. This country has been about welcoming refugees from violence. Would that have been his view when Jews who were suspected of being communist were fleeing Nazi, Germany? There were Americans in Congress who argued that, no, we can`t let the Jews in, in the 1930s, they might be communists. Who cares that they`ve been suffering. And this is a really degrading contribution to our political dialogue. O`DONNELL: That`s going to have to be the last word on this segment. We`re out of time, Jonathan Alter, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Coming up, Mitt Romney says Republicans won`t pick Donald Trump as their nominee because basically they`re not crazy. And Hillary Clinton responds tonight to Republican house leader Kevin McCarthy, saying that the Benghazi committee hurt her in the polls. And we have new information to report about who arranged the Pope`s meeting with Kim Davis in Washington last week. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: Well, they huffed and they puffed for weeks but they did not blow the house down. The house voted today 277 to 151 to fund the government for two months, ending the threat of a government shutdown over the funding of Planned Parenthood. The Senate passed the same bill 78 to 20. That bill funds Planned Parenthood in full. President Obama said this about the shutdown this afternoon. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The good news is that it looks like the Republicans will just barely avoid shutting down the government for the second time in two years. That`s somewhat low bar, but we should celebrate -- (LAUGHTER) Where we can. The bad news is that it looks like Republicans will just barely shutting -- avoid shutting down the government again for the second time in two years. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Up next, Mitt Romney versus Donald Trump. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: Mitt Romney let us down. He let us down. Something happened to him the last month, he choked, he choked like a golfer, he can`t sink that last putt. We all know, right? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes -- TRUMP: Something happened to him, that was an election that should have been won. ROMNEY: I will support the Republican nominee, I don`t think that`s going to be Donald Trump. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Idiot is the word that most frequently comes to mind as a one- word description of the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination. According to a new "USA Today" Suffolk University national poll. The words that most frequently came to mind about Donald Trump were idiot, and its synonyms, jerk, stupid, dumb, followed by arrogant, then crazy nuts and buffoon, clown, comical and joke in that order. Mitt Romney said today that he thinks the idiot, jerk, stupid, dumb, arrogant, crazy, nuts, buffoon, comical, joke is hurting the Republican Party. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROMNEY: Yesterday, he said that some of the things he said about other candidates have been childish. I think that`s probably a fair characterization coming from him. I think it`s unfortunate to have had the kind of personal attacks that we`ve seen in the -- in the process. But I think the 11th commandment was quickly lost in this race. And that I think, it makes it harder for us in the general. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: The "USA Today", Suffolk University national poll shows Donald Trump leveling off 23 at percent, Ben Carson at 13, Carly Fiorina 13, Marco Rubio, 9 and Jeb Bush down to 8. Joining us now, Alex Wagner, who was suppressing laughter mightily during that introduction, the MSNBC analyst Michael Steele, former RNC Chairman and MSNBC political analyst, also back with us, Howard Dean. So Alex, when your one-word association -- ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST: So good. O`DONNELL: Leads with idiot, how far can you go? WAGNER: I just want the trucker hat, that says idiot, dumb, buffoon, clown, whatever else. That needs to be the sort of answer to the make America great again -- trucker hat. What`s weird is that there was overlap between people who wanted Donald Trump to be the Republican nominee and people who said he is a dumb, clown, buffoon, idiot. And that is the sector of people I don`t understand at all. What`s maybe terrifying about that poll, Lawrence, is if you tally up Ben Carson`s support, Carly Fiorina`s support and Donald Trump`s support, that is 49 percent of the Republican electorate. O`DONNELL: Yes -- WAGNER: And you look at those numbers, you know, you have establishment candidates polling in the single digits. And no matter how badly the donor class and the establishment want Marco Rubio or John Kasich or Jeb Bush to be their nominee, it is hard to imagine how they are going to draw double-digit strength in a field like that. O`DONNELL: Well, the Republican establishment happens to be here in person tonight, Michael Steele -- (LAUGHTER) MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER CHAIRMAN, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Oh -- O`DONNELL: Michael, I want you to listen -- STEELE: That is the last thing that I am -- O`DONNELL: I want you to listen to the real Mr. establishment, Mitt Romney, his reasoning for why Donald Trump will never be the nominee. Let`s see if you agree with it. Let`s listen to Mitt Romney. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROMNEY: My party has historically nominated someone who is a mainstream conservative. And someone who has a foundation in foreign policy that gives people confidence that they can guide the ship at stake in troubled waters. Mr. Trump over the weekend, I think on "60 Minutes" said that he thought it`d be a good idea to let ISIS take over Syria and then we could pick up the pieces. And I thought that was both absurd and dangerous. And I just don`t think that, that`s -- that kind of proposal is likely to lead him to become our nominee. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Michael, your reaction to Mitt Romney? STEELE: Well, he`s absolutely right. That`s exactly what the party has typically done. But this is not a typical time in the party and that is part of the frustration that a lot of rank-and-file Republicans and the establishment level have what`s going on. They can`t control this, Lawrence, they have no idea what to do with this. And each day, Donald Trump is gaining the insight of himself that he can become the next president of the United States. You saw that a little bit in how he rolled out his piece on the -- on tax proposals. You know, he actually went to notes and took questions reasonably well. And so there`s a danger now, we`re at a tipping point almost, where Donald Trump has to break through the ceiling that he`s reached in his numbers, 23 percent, 22 percent. And if he does that, as we get closer to this primary, the establishment is going to be looking at Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Kasich sitting in single- digit numbers, wondering, how do they get close to him? How do they do that? Show me the pathway to that point. And that`s the frustration that they have. And you heard it expressed optimistically or, you know, at the end of the day, we`re going to get to that point. I`m not so sure we get there anytime soon. And then if we do, and when we do, is it too late? O`DONNELL: You know, I -- the rational that Mitt Romney gave for how you get to a Republican nominee is the one that I`ve always used. And been always confident in using that one, and so it`s never really hard to predict. It was going to be Mitt Romney, it was going to be John McCain when his time came. But you know, Howard Dean, precedent controls politics until it doesn`t -- DEAN: Right -- O`DONNELL: Until the -- DEAN: Right -- O`DONNELL: Table gets upset and a new precedent gets set. Is that what`s happening? -- DEAN: So, we`re -- STEELE: Yes -- DEAN: It`s very early, we`re all speculating. What I`m waiting for -- a really smart reporter to do is write a story about the organizations that these folks have. Because we don`t know anything -- they can be at -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- DEAN: Thirteen 13 percent of the polls, if they can`t get the vote out in Iowa, it doesn`t make any difference. STEELE: Yes -- DEAN: So, that`s number one. It`s too early to talk like this. Number two, though, is, Republicans changed their rules in order to have a smoother primaries if they didn`t have all the stuff going on. Well, it turned out what they did was later in the -- in the -- I mean early on, these are not winner take all states -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- DEAN: Anymore. So, if you think people go in there with 39 percent or the 49 percent of the vote together, they can blow everybody else out of the water. And then later, it goes to winner takes all. So, if you have one of these folks being the frontrunner and they get in a divided field, 35 percent of the vote, they`re going to get every single delegate from that state. So that militates in favor of Trump or Fiorina or Carson, what we don`t know is, where is their organization? I want -- well, I want the establishment press to go and look and find what they`ve got for -- WAGNER: But -- DEAN: Organization. WAGNER: I will -- ALTER: Haven(ph) -- WAGNER: Question whether the establishment press -- I mean Donald Trump seems to be a bellwether for the power of the establishment press, right? He is in the media all the time -- O`DONNELL: Right -- WAGNER: Therefore that explains his support. Ben Carson is a rejoinder to that. Ben Carson exists in conservative radio and conservative media channels that didn`t exist in 2008 and maybe even in 2012. And that explains his support. So which is it? Is it that the establishment press has disproportionate control over the Republican nominating process or is it, it doesn`t at all? But I mean, I feel like you have two examples at one and two that are -- all right, that are almost -- DEAN: Yes, but then -- WAGNER: Usually -- DEAN: All I`m asking for a substantive article telling me what their chances really are. And we can`t know unless -- O`DONNELL: Michael -- DEAN: We know what their organization looks like. O`DONNELL: Michael Steele, what do we know about their on-the-ground organizations in the early states? STEELE: I`m glad you brought that up and Howard Dean has it exactly right. As a former party chairman, he knows that at the end of the day, what this is all about, and this is about delegates. It is not about national polls, it is not about how popular you are or how bright and shiny your objects happen to be. It is about your organization on the ground. Which is why Jeb Bush is not worried. All of this hand-wringing about Jeb Bush, his days are over and you know, this is a problem for him. Jeb Bush is laughing his tail off right now because Jeb Bush is doing the one thing and concentrating on the one thing that matters. Organization on the ground, it doesn`t matter to him if he wins Iowa or not, he`s got a long ball play exactly why -- because of what Howard said. Come March 1st of next year, everything is winner take all. You`re going to have, Lawrence, probably two or three different winners in the first, out of the first four primaries in caucuses. No one person is going to sweep through those first four states. So, the organization on the ground is important which is what Donald Trump has been concentrating on. Despite what people have to say, and this is a good story, you got to look at that organization and he`s getting it, there`s no doubt about it. O`DONNELL: All right, before we go to our break, I just want to play the word game one more time on this "USA Today"-Suffolk poll. Unfortunately, they didn`t do with all the candidates, they just did it with one other Republican candidate. One other Republican candidate and Alex Wagner, you`re the contestant here. Here is the first group of words associated with this candidate; smart, intelligent, knowledgeable. Here`s the second group of words associated with this candidate; dishonest, liar, untrustworthy. Who is this candidate? WAGNER: Carly Fiorina. O`DONNELL: Correct, you win it. Howard Dean, thank you very much for flying in tonight. (LAUGHTER) Coming up, Hillary Clinton responds to House leader Kevin McCarthy, saying that the Benghazi committee hurt her in the polls. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: On 9/11, the speaker of the house was helicoptered away from the Capitol to an undisclosed location. The speaker of the house is the second in line of succession to the president after the vice president. Air Force I took the President from Florida to Nebraska on 9/11 to keep him out of danger until Washington was safe. The Vice President was locked in a bunker below the White House. And, the speaker of the house was safely helicoptered, as I said, to an undisclosed location. All of that done to preserve the office of the presidency. The speaker of the house is the second most important elected official in the Washington. The speaker of the house is usually then a seasoned veteran of the house, who has slowly worked all the way up to the speakership. Not anymore. 50-year-old Kevin McCarthy, a nine-year veteran of the house is the least experienced speaker -- future speaker, in over a century. He will be the next speaker of the house, and he is already the worst public speaker the speakership has ever had. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MCCARTHY: Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But, we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she is untrustable. But no one would not known any of that had happened -- SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: I agree. I give you credit for that. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: That was future speaker, Kevin McCarthy, 24 hours ago on Fox News reducing the Benghazi investigative committee to nothing other than a mission to lower Hillary Clinton`s poll numbers. Hillary Clinton responded in an interview with Al Sharpton. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I knew the ambassador that we lost in Benghazi. Along with him, we lost three other brave Americans, who were representing us in a very dangerous part of the world. There have already been eight investigations in the congress, one independent investigation. We have learned, all we can learn about what we need to do to protect our diplomats and our other civilians and we need to be enforcing and implementing those changes, which is what I started and what Secretary Kerry has continued. So, when I hear a statement like that, which demonstrates unequivocally that this was always meant to be a partisan political exercise, I feel like it does a grave disservice and dishonors, not just the memory of the four that we lost, but of everybody who has served our country. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: There is already a fire McCarthy movement among republicans, led by former Georgia Republican Paul Brown. But, it is not because of how Kevin McCarthy publicly undermined the credibility of the Benghazi committee. It is because he is not conservative enough. Joining us now is Jonathan Allen, the Chief Correspondent for Voxx. Jonathan Allen, this was what Hillary Clinton was hoping for. She could not have hoped for it in her wildest dreams that the future speaker would simply reduce it all to the whole point of the committee being to knock down her poll numbers. JONATHAN ALLEN, VOXX CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The entire Republican Party in Washington has spent the entirety of the Benghazi committee`s existence, denying the idea that it is a political Witch Hunt, intended only to prevent Hillary Clinton from being president. And, Kevin McCarthy, the guy who is about to become speaker of the house, walks out and says, "You know what? It is actually all about politics." He could not have said anything worse for us republicans." And, not only is it bad in that broad sense. It is also bad in the narrow sense that she is going to testify in a few weeks. And, now those republicans on the committee, they are in a box. To the extent that they wanted to turn it into a political sideshow, they can. Everybody is going to be watching for that. They are going to call foul when it happens. This was a huge blunder by McCarthy and often as gaffes are -- this was a revolution of the truth. O`DONNELL: Michael Steele, it sounds like the Republicans could not have given Hillary Clinton a bigger gift before her testimony on October 22nd. STEELE: I cannot disagree with that. It is stunning that the one thing that, you know, since the early hours after the revelations of what happened in Benghazi, republicans have always tried to keep this above the political quagmire but at the same time dragging right into it. And, I think that the words that were used to describe the work of this committee -- I mean the chairman cannot be happy right now. He is going to -- As was just pointed out, hold these hearings, have the secretary there. And every word, every utterance is now going to be framed in the minds and consciousness of the people listening in terms of politics. And that undermines the effort all together. O`DONNELL: Alex Wagner, in our previous hour, Rachel Maddow showed this clip -- this set of clips of Kevin McCarthy misspeaking on every other sentence. And, these sentences were written for him. WAGNER: Right. O`DONNELL: And, they contained mistakes apparently both in the writing and the speaking. Speaker is the singke worst title you could give to this man, apparently. WAGNER: I think we are not saying is this was not a gaffe in so far as Sean Hannity was pressing Kevin McCarthy. O`DONNELL: No. No. WAGNER: This was something Kevin McCarthy planned to say on Fox News including the word untrustable. I mean, so in that respect, Lawrence, I think it is sort of like the Houston we have a problem issue with regards to this man being the speaker of the house. But, I will say, you know, to say that this revealed the Benghazi committee is a political action committee, effectively, this is not news to most people who have been following the select committee on Benghazi. It has always been a political endeavor from the beginning of John Boehner`s announce of who would be on it complete with a graphic showing all the people who were going to be on your select committee on Benghazi. This was always a political Witch Hunt. We just now have actual confirmation that it is. Does it actually change anyone`s opinions on the validity of their findings? I think that, that remains to be seen. I think republicans who want to see this go forward will be excited that it continues to go forward. Democrats who have been skeptical will still be skeptical. O`DONNELL: Jonathan Allen, what did it do for Hillary Clinton`s supporters? I would imagine, this would give them kind of a new life and a new energy about this. ALLEN: I think they are absolutely hoping that this is the turning point, the break they have been waiting for, undermine not only the committee but some of the findings that will poison the fruits of that tree. It has been said, but Kevin McCarthy gave them a huge gift. And, just one other thing, that the idea that Kevin McCarthy is not conservative enough, you mentioned earlier that some republicans are saying that. I mean this is a guy who does not really have a discernible ideology. He is extremely aimable, but is not somebody you would say he is one of those rock rib conservatives. He is a politician and he is as you pointed out rocketed to the top very fast with very little experience. Has not run a committee in congress, and I think it is going to be a real test for him to see if he has the discipline to not make these kinds of mistakes. O`DONNELL: Michael Steele, quickly before we go, it seems hard tonight to predict a long run for Kevin McCarthy as speaker. STEELE: Yes. You know, I do not know about that. I do not know how long it will be, but I know conservative, the Tea Party conservatives in particular are going to be very antsy about his early steps. This certainly does not help those early steps. You are going to see for the majority leader post and other leadership posts, conservatives wanting to put their imprimatur in terms of the personnel they are going to be in those roles. It is going to be a very tough battle particularly, as you noted earlier, going to December, with another vote on shutting down the government. So, good luck. O`DONNELL: Michael Steele, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Coming up, another quiz for Alex Wagner. I do not want anyone to see your answer. Write down for me who you think has -- which presidential candidate has the most online contributors. And, I do not want to ruin the suspension for the audience, so just write it down there, and I will see if it is true. Actually, we will hold up your answer in the next segment to show that she wrote it down. Yes. OK, there it is. All right, we are going to be right back with the answer. (MUSIC PLAYING) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: Hillary Clinton still has more support than Bernie Sanders in national polls of democratic voters. Bernie Sanders now has more online campaign contributors than any other candidate for president, democrat or republican. And, that is exactly who Alex Wagner guessed had the most support in online contributors, right there. You cannot read that, right? Trust me, it says Bernie Sanders. Today, just hours before the close of the third quarter fundraising window, the Sanders team announced that it is the first 2016 presidential campaign to receive one million individual online donations. The Sanders campaign hit this mark faster than Barack Obama did in either of his campaigns. Despite the record number of online donors, Bernie Sanders is still trailing Hillary Clinton in actually dollars and cents. Tonight, "The Washington Post" reports that Bernie Sanders pulled in $24 million this quart per. Hillary Clinton`s campaign says she raised $28 million this quarter. In an interview earlier this week with David Axelrod, President Obama`s former chief campaign`s strategist, Bernie Sanders said he hopes to keep his campaign positive. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have never run a negative add in my life, how is that? DAVID AXELROD, PRES. OBAMA`S SENIOR ADVISOR: Yes. Well, that is pretty remarkable. SANDERS: Yes, in this day and age -- AXELROD: You feel you will get through this whole campaign without running one? -- SANDERS: Well, I surely hope so. I surely hope so. AXELROD: That is not a yes or no, though. SANDERS: Well, it is my hope that I will never run a negative ad. I never have after all of these years. But you know, we will see. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Alex Wagner, congratulations on another win around of the quiz show tonight. I find it stunning that Bernie Sanders is so close to Hillary Clinton on total dollars raised. That makes it a very unimpressive outcome for Hillary Clinton. She is the one that everyone said had the giant fundraising capacity. WAGNER: You talk to certain democratic operatives and there is not an emerging consensus, but maybe the beginning of an emerging consensus that Bernie Sanders may win Iowa. O`DONNELL: Yes. WAGNER: And maybe even New Hampshire 37 and for the Hillary Clinton campaign, that is a damning -- that is a damning emerging consensus. I will also say the person that is watching all of this transpire with very perked ears and keen eyes is Joe Biden. O`DONNELL: Yes. WAGNER: In "New York Times," there is a story this evening written by Amy Chozick and Maggie Haberman saying that Clinton campaign has now began reaching out in earnest to donors and strategist. Democratic operatives trying to shore up support against a potential Joe Biden run. This is not good. And, for many, many democrats who presumed that at the end of the day, it will be Hillary is race to lose. I mean this is very cold comfort. O`DONNELL: Alex Wagner, reading tomorrow`s "New York Times" tonight, we call that cheating on this show. (LAUGHING) WAGNER: We never do that, Lawrence. O`DONNELL: Jonathan Allen, this is one of those things, where the Clinton campaign has all insisted and they can still insist that they have a firewall in South Carolina, if Bernie Sanders does take Iowa, if he does take his neighboring state of New Hampshire. And, they have been doing some spinning, indicating that they could live with that, they will take control after New Hampshire. ALLEN: Yes, that was -- I feel like we could be running this episode of "The Last Word" in 2008. This within spin of like, you know, "we are going to lose this state, we are going to lose that state, but we are going to be OK and we got 50 state running. And, at the end we are going to win because we are the big machine." Now, I will say this. Until Bernie Sanders shows that he can win Latino voters, that he can win African-American voters, who remain largely with Hillary Clinton, I think it is hard to see how he builds a coalition in the big states. And, particularly, you were talking earlier with Howard Dean about delegates. When you look at democratic delegates, they are clustered around cities in the big states -- and particularly in African and American and Hispanic parts of the state. So, you know, we are talking about a situation here where Bernie Sanders has not broken through that wall. And, as long as he does not, Hillary Clinton probably ends up winning the nomination. But, It is not good for her that he is at $24 million in the last quarter and she is at $28 million in the last quarter. Those numbers are moving in the wrong direction for her. O`DONNELL: Another surprising fundraising number that came out, Ben Carson, $20 million. With Bernie Sanders and Ben Carson raising that kind of money, we are starting to -- they are starting, absolutely, to defy all previous conventional wisdom on where the money goes in these campaigns? WAGNER: Ezra Klein has a great piece in Voxx that talks about the question, the existence of the establishment. And, we have long thought that, that only effects sort of media, right? Ben Carson is an example of a grassroots campaign that -- and Bernie Sanders to a certain degree, too. It is not just media, it is also donors and the question is, are we actually beginning to see the changing of the landscape that we have been long predicting on a host of other levels, independent of politics. Is it now finally affecting the political arena? Is 2016 the year that all bets were off? O`DONNELL: And, Jonathan Allen, you could never -- the candidacies like this I do not think could have raised this kind of money before the internet age. In the old days, when you had to do it through direct mail if you were trying to do that kind of fundraising, that was very expensive. And, you know, compared to doing it on line. ALLEN: Absolutely. I mean you had Howard Dean on earlier, he pioneered this in 2004. The first real online donation candidate fuelled his campaign until, obviously, it ended in Iowa, basically. O`DONNELL: Jonathan Allen, and winner Alex Wagner. (LAUGHING) WAGNER: Cheater. Cheater. ALLEN: Can we both be winners? O`DONNELL: No. No. ALLEN: Cheater/winner belongs to me, John. O`DONNELL: Jonathan, this is not little league. You do not all get the trophy, OK? ALLEN: Alex Wagner is the Trumping candidate. O`DONNELL: It`s Alex`s night. WAGNER: Make America great. (LAUGHING) O`DONNELL: Thank very much. Coming up, we have new information on who arranged that meeting between the Pope and Kim Davis. (MUSIC PLAYING) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: We have news tonight in the fatal shooting of Eric Harris in Oklahoma. You will recall that occurred in April when a volunteer deputy, 74-year-old, Robert Bates says he accidentally shot and killed Eric Harris. He claimed that he was reaching for his taser but used his handgun instead. Robert Bates has been indicted for second-degree manslaughter, and he has pleaded not guilty to that. But, a grand jury in Oklahoma has now indicted Tulsa County Sheriff Stanley Glanz for not providing documents and covering up evidence in an internal investigation of that shooting. Today, Sheriff Glanz announced his resignation. The grand jury indicted Sheriff Glanz on two misdemeanors in the investigation related to his friend, the volunteer deputy Robert Bates. Coming up, new information on exactly who arranged for Kim Davis to meet Pope Francis. (MUSIC PLAYING) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: And, now for the very good news, "The Last Word" family has expanded since Monday night, when I told you that in our first five years of this program, "The Last Word" family has had three babies with three on the way. Well, now they are only two on the way, because, Ava arrived today on her due date. Ava is 7 pounds, 11 ounces. Her mom and dad Swan and Todd could not be happier. Welcome to "The Last Word," Ava. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KIM DAVIS, ROWAN COUNTY CLERK WHO REFUSED TO ISSUE SAME-SEX MARRIAGE LISENCE: It was really humbling to even think that he would want to, you know, meet me or know me. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: The Vatican has confirmed that the Pope did meet with Kim Davis in Washington. She says her meeting with the Pope validates everything she has done. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DAVIS: He said stay strong. That was a great encouragement. Just knowing that the Pope is on track, you know, with what we are doing and agreeing, you know, kind of validates everything. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: In a statement, a Vatican spokesperson said, "I do not deny that the meeting took place, but I have no further comments." Back with us, E.J. Dionne. E.J., now, this story was breaking before we went on the air last night, and I did not see anything in it that looked like confirmation to me. And, so, I kept refusing to do it within the hour. It also made no sense to me that of all the people in the 50 United States to work through that filter to get into a room with the Pope, it made no conceivable sense to me that Kim Davis would be one of them, but now we know it happened. DIONNE: Right. It still makes no sense. What happened, as I understand, it is that this meeting was not arranged by the American bishops. In fact, I am told there was a lot of opposition to this meeting among the American bishops. It was arranged by the Vatican Nuncio, I am told, Carlo Maria Vigano. The Vatican Nuncio is the ambassador. That is consistent with reports that say the meeting was arranged by a Vatican official, and the meeting itself happened at the Nuncio, the Vatican Embassy. Archbishop Vigano has known as a cultural conservative. He was named by Pope Benedict. He is scheduled to leave in January, but there is talked that American Bishops would like him to leave earlier. This may hasten his departure. And, I think the Vatican is going to have to say more about this, because so many conclusions are being drawn from this. And, it flew in the face of everything the Pope was saying here. I mean, yes, he has talked a lot about religious liberty. The conservatives here were quite happy, he visited with the little sisters of the poor. They did not expect this meeting. But, he did not talk about same-sex marriage as such. He was fighting against culture wars. So, they have a lot of explaining to do about this meeting. And, you know, I hope they do just make public that yes, it was the Nuncio who arranged the meeting. O`DONNELL: And, E.J., you know, I was wondering, were there 100 people in the room? Were there 200 people in the room? Did the Pope know who everyone was? Well, Kim Davis` lawyer says, it was a private meeting just for Kim Davis. If that was the case, then the Pope had to be told, why he was meeting with this woman. DIONNE: Right. And, the question is, as a friend of mine said today, who has been following this, the Pope does not read the American newspaper. So, he may have known only the version that was given to him by whoever arranged this meeting. You know, as I say, I think -- I am pretty sure -- I am quite sure it is Archbishop Vigano. But, it is a very troubling thing given the rest of his message. So, I agree with piece -- A lot of people are making a great deal out of the Pope`s answer to ABC`s Terry Moran on the plane, suggesting the Pope really embraced her view of conscientious objection. I do not see how you get that out of his answer on that plane. O`DONNELL: Well, we are getting a lot closer to it as this information develops. But you are right, we have to get more from the Vatican. E.J. Dionne, thank you very much for that new information tonight. I really appreciate it. Chris Hayes is up next. END