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The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 12/21/2015

Guests: Sam Stein, Matt Lewis, Hunter Walker, Michael Hiltzik, Cal Perry, Jonathan Stevenson, Hillary Mann Leverett, Preston Lucy, Conner Grossman

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: December 21, 2015 Guest: Sam Stein, Matt Lewis, Hunter Walker, Michael Hiltzik, Cal Perry, Jonathan Stevenson, Hillary Mann Leverett, Preston Lucy, Conner Grossman

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: That does it for us tonight, we will see you again tomorrow, now, it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good evening, Lawrence.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Rachel, I like Patrick Murphy more than you do.

MADDOW: No, I`ll fight you for it and I`ll win.

O`DONNELL: OK, we`re going to go all high school on this, yes --

MADDOW: Oh, yes, indeed. Thanks Lawrence --

O`DONNELL: Thank you Rachel --

MADDOW: Take it easy.

O`DONNELL: So now, the biggest liar and I mean biggest liar in the history of presidential campaigning is calling the candidate who beats him in the polls a liar.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, really, jughead?



STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC: When asked if Clinton would apologize, her spokesman said, "hell no".

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lindsey Graham suspending his campaign for president --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If it gets too hard, just quit, who cares?


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I want to thank everyone who has taken this journey with me.

JON STEWART, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST: I say there`s little hope we`ll survive the Summer.


KASIE HUNT, MSNBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And he wasn`t able to make it on to those main debate stages.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will the rest of you just wave, so your parents know you`re here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, bubba boy!

HUNT: She was instead relegated to the undercards.

GRAHAM: Here`s what I would advise the Republican Party to do in the future, never do this again.

TRUMP: Relax, take it easy --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This electorate right now certainly on the Republican side is very angry.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think somebody like Mr. Trump`s taken advantage of that.

TRUMP: How can I describe our leaders better than the word stupid?


O`DONNELL: So the presidential campaign has come to this. Donald Trump is calling Hillary Clinton a liar and demanding an apology for lying about him.

Now, here is the most important thing that Donald Trump supporters believe.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`ve got people in positions of power who I know for a fact are liars.


O`DONNELL: That`s what they say when Donald Trump gets caught in one of his many lies.

The Trump supporters who are smart enough to realize that Trump is lying don`t hold it against him because they favor his policy ideas and they`re willing to live with the lying because they believe that all politicians lie, and that all presidents lie.

Liberals were the original attackers of presidential lying and they began by attacking a Democratic president for saying this --


LYNDON JOHNSON, LATE FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Renewed hostile actions against United States ships on the high seas and the Gulf of Tonkin, have today required me to order the military forces of the United States to take action and reply.


O`DONNELL: Liberals accused two presidents in a row of lying about Vietnam; Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon.

And then Nixon got to the point where everyone accused him of being a liar including many in his own party.


RICHARD NIXON, LATER FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: People have got to know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I am not a crook.


O`DONNELL: Trump supporters believe that this was a lie.


GEORGE HERBERT WALKER BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My opponent won`t rule out raising taxes, but I will and the Congress will push me to raise taxes and I`ll say no.

And they`ll push and I`ll say no, and they`ll push again and I`ll say to them, read my lips --


No new taxes.


O`DONNELL: Now in all fairness, to borrow a phrase that Donald Trump often uses and doesn`t mean, that was probably not a lie when George Bush said that.

He surely hoped to never raise taxes, but Democrats in Congress forced that reality on him.

Just as it probably wasn`t a lie when Bill Clinton ran promising a middle class tax cut and then raised taxes on everyone including a gasoline tax in what became the biggest tax increase in history because economic reality demanded it.

But this was proven to be a lie.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. I never told anybody to lie, not a single time, never.


O`DONNELL: Lies like that are rare in presidential politics but they live forever. Most of what Trump supporters think of as lies are things that politicians hope to do but it just didn`t turn out that way.


GEORGE WALKER BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If we don`t stop extending our troops all around the world, in nation building missions, then we`re going to have a serious problem coming down the road and I`m going to prevent that.

OBAMA: We`re going to lead by shutting down Guantanamo and restoring Habeas corpus in this country, so that we offer them an example.


O`DONNELL: Trump supporters have granted their candidate a license to lie at will about anything because they believe that all politicians lie.

Which is why the single most important thing a candidate must do in running against Donald Trump is never lie. Never say something that can`t be proven untrue, like most things that Donald Trump says.

Hillary Clinton made that mistake this weekend in the Democratic debate.


CLINTON: He is becoming ISIS` best recruiter. They are going to people, showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical Jihadists.


O`DONNELL: An understandable exaggeration. An understandable mistake. And Donald Trump of course demanded an apology for that falsehood because no one is more outraged by lies than pathological liars like Donald Trump.

Instead, the Clinton campaign today decided to fight Trumpism with Trumpism. As to an apology, the campaign issued a statement saying, "hell no."

They decided to follow the never apologize rule of the Trump campaign even though what Hillary Clinton said is not true. Not provably true.

And so the Clinton campaign has once again confirmed for Trump supporters that the right thing to do when you`re caught saying something untrue, when you`re caught exaggerating, something that -- saying something that cannot be supported by fact.

The right thing to do is to never ever apologize. And the Clinton campaign`s refusal to do the right thing, not out of respect for Donald Trump who deserves none, but out of respect for the truth diminishes her in this one instance.

Not to the Donald Trump level, no one could get that low, but her refusal to simply say, hey, I`m sorry, I shouldn`t have suggested that ISIS is using Donald Trump in recruitment videos now because we don`t yet know if they`re using that.

Not saying that is a lost opportunity. There is nothing more winning than a gracious, generous apology, especially when we all understand where Hillary Clinton`s exaggeration came from.

Everyone understands that what Hillary Clinton said might not be true right now at this moment but it is likely to become true.

And what she said does not compare in magnitude to any of Donald Trump`s lies, from President Obama`s birth certificate through the lie about thousands of people cheering on 9/11 in New Jersey.

There is no comparison between Hillary Clinton`s exaggeration, her minor lie, if you will, and Donald Trump`s giant, constant, repeated lies.

But not in the minds of Trump supporters. Hillary Clinton had the chance to teach Trump supporters the dignified way of dealing with a statement that isn`t true, a statement that cannot be supported by fact.

She could have shown Donald Trump supporters what humility and dignity and honesty looks like. Instead, she used the Trump tactic against Trump.

Joining us now Hunter Walker, national correspondent for Yahoo News, Matt K. Lewis, senior contributor for the "Daily Caller", columnist for "The Week" and author of " Too Dumb to Fail".

And Sam Stein, senior politics editor at the "Huffington Post" and an Msnbc contributor.

Sam Stein!


O`DONNELL: Having heard my case about why a classic apology would have been a nice thing to see here. What do you think?

Should Hillary Clinton have apologized? And I`d like you to analyze it on a -- as a political matter, as a political strategy, and in any other way you`d like to.

STEIN: Well, I thought -- I actually thought -- I actually thought -- I thought you were right on.

I think that you assessed the issue correctly and you sort of noted underneath everything else that the rarity with which politicians ever apologize for either outright lies or misstatements or exaggerations is remarkable.

And it would be a nice breath of fresh air I would say for a politician to step forward and say, yes, I was wrong in this case.

And I actually don`t think it would cost her all that much. My guess is that they calculated that if she were to back down to Trump, maybe some of her Democratic supporters would have looked at it and said, do we really want someone who is not going to fight this great, grand bully on the Republican side of the aisle?

And that probably is one thing that fed into her calculus here. But I think you`re right that it would have proven more effective, it`d have been more gracious obviously, had she said, yes, there is no recruitment video out there.

But the bigger problems of him feeding this sort of -- this terrorist ideology do exist and are really problematic and are substantively, you know, something you should be worried about.

O`DONNELL: Well, you know, you talk about her supporters, Twitter is an unscientific sample as we know --


But I tweeted a little while ago the question of should Hillary Clinton apologize --

STEIN: And what did you get?

O`DONNELL: About this? Well, I got -- everybody said no. Every single Clinton supporter out there on my --

STEIN: Yes --

O`DONNELL: Twitter feed said absolutely no, she shouldn`t reply. Here`s one from Frannie Ryan(ph), and she tweeted, "in keeping with Trump`s liar status, HRC should just say, why, sir, I did apologize, did you and your people miss it?"

And I replied to her saying, so you`re saying that Hillary Clinton should handle this the way Donald Trump would handle this?

And Matt Lewis, that`s my point. Is you have a chance here to distinguish yourself from Donald Trump and show the right way of handling something like this because it makes it more difficult down the road, the thousands of times Hillary Clinton is going to want to say what Donald Trump just said is a lie.

MATT LEWIS, SENIOR CONTRIBUTOR, DAILY CALLER & COLUMNIST, THE WEEK: Yes, look, I think that Hillary needed to, if they were going to walk away from this, they needed to do it very quickly.

And just -- she misspoke, she feels that, you know, Mr. Trump`s rhetoric is dangerous and that it could inspire, you know, some backlash.

But once she enlists her team to start lying, too, and to start spinning and they`ve been on TV making -- oh, it wasn`t a video, but it was on the internet or whatever.

Now, you know, they can`t back away from it, so they`re sort of trapped. And I think what this does -- it`s not a game-changing moment.

But I do think that what this does is it re-enforces the trustworthy notion about Hillary. There is that stereotype about her as well.

So politically, this does matter. I think the problem is that partisans on both sides of the aisle actually think it`s even -- what you were saying about the Trump supporters, I actually think it`s even worse than what you were saying.

I think the part of it is lying is actually good because the ends justify the means. And because you have to lie because the other side is going to lie.

So in a way, lying and fighting and playing dirty has become a virtue.

O`DONNELL: So let`s listen to what Trump said about it tonight in Michigan just about an hour and a half ago.


TRUMP: Donald Trump is on video and ISIS is using him on the video to recruit. And it turned out to be a lie. She`s a liar -- no, it turned out to be a lie.


O`DONNELL: And Hunter Walker, if she had done the quick apology that, you know, we don`t know that yet, and just saying we don`t know it yet.

And leaving the implication that they probably will use Trump on video, which I think everyone is just waiting for at some point.

Trump tonight in that same moment would have then had to add, and he would have added, well, you know, she apologized.

(AUDIO GAP 00:03:24-29) would have been there that this -- what I would call an exaggeration that she did or very minor sort of exaggeration, colorful exaggeration that she did.

That she backed off of it immediately because she cares about truth in a way that Donald Trump doesn`t.

HUNTER WALKER, YAHOO NEWS NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lawrence, you`re speaking in moral terms, and let`s not forget this is politics.


O`DONNELL: No, I mean, let me -- let me stop -- Hunter, let me say it. There`s two ways to look at it. I can make the moral case.

But I`m making the political case here, that for a political audience, you should teach them the difference and you should not allow -- you should fight against the concept that all politicians lie --

WALKER: Right, but I don`t think there`s anything to be gained --

O`DONNELL: Because that`s fuel for Trump --

WALKER: Not only do I not think there`s anything to be gained from showing weakness, but also fighting each other is exactly where both Hillary and Trump want to be.

I talked to people on the Clinton campaign at their headquarters during a debate watch-party they had, and this was a few months ago.

They were all talking about how Trump helps them. It`s like an open secret. They think he illuminates the worst parts of the GOP.

So, they would love to be feuding directly with Donald Trump. But I will make a separate point which is that I don`t really think she lied as much as everyone is saying here.

She was speaking somewhat figuratively but the Clinton campaign has pointed to Rita Katz, who is literally the preeminent analyst in this sphere.

And Katz has said, yes, there`s no video, there is no video, but ISIS is talking about Donald Trump and they`re very happy about his arguments.

The same way that Clinton feels like Trump can help her, ISIS feels like Trump can help them. And if Rita Katz says it -- this is a woman who gets every ISIS video first.

She has a long record of knowing what they`re saying when no one else does. And that`s a lot of evidence as far as I am concerned.

LEWIS: No, but, no, let me just say, by that standard though, when Donald Trump said that there were thousands and thousands of Muslims celebrating in New Jersey, I could say, well, he was -- he was probably right because there were certainly some.

There`s a report I just saw today where there were pockets of it. So -- no, I think we need to hold our politicians accountable to be a little more accurate and specific.

And so that`s a little bit -- maybe granting him a little bit more leeway than we should.

O`DONNELL: But you know, let me go back to Hunter`s point, because I think it was a really good point.

What I am saying is, within the context of saying, you know, I shouldn`t have put it that way, saying all the things you just said.

And saying here`s the evidence that I was hearing about this, who I was hearing about. I shouldn`t have stated it that way, and I`m going to be -- you know, be more careful.

And then just be patient, you know, and we may be, you know, a few weeks away from the first ISIS video that Donald Trump is in.

And -- but I just think that if you allow Trump to define strength as never apologizing, if you fall into that trap, he is going to win that contest.

There`s just no way to beat him at that. Hunter, go ahead.

WALKER: Well, I think you`re absolutely right that, that would have been the best moral way to handle it. Maybe in one sense strategically.

And you know, I think I`m not alone, I think you`re not alone in wishing that all of these campaigns would be a little more honest and a little more moral in how they were dealing with each other.

O`DONNELL: All right, we`re going to have to take a break right here. Coming up, Hillary Clinton wants everybody to love her as she said during the debate and Bernie Sanders during the debate said, no, he doesn`t expect everyone to love him.

And we also have an Msnbc exclusive coming up, video from inside Iraq showing the fight against ISIS.

And in tonight`s LAST WORD, we`re going to meet a couple of guests who I discovered on Twitter this weekend.


O`DONNELL: Today, almost exactly a year after President Obama declared the end of the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan, six Americans were killed and two more wounded in a suicide attack.

The U.S. service members had been called to a meeting with local Afghan leaders in a small town northeast of Bagram Air Base.

As the Americans walked through the village, a lone suicide bomber on a motorcycle drove into the group and detonated his suicide vest.

An Afghan interpreter was also wounded in that blast. It was the deadliest attack on U.S. forces in Afghanistan in more than two years.

This month, the Pentagon issued a report on the Afghanistan war saying, "security has deteriorated." And Taliban is now launching "1,000 successful attacks per month."

And for the first time ISIS has started mounting attacks in Afghanistan.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Donald Trump just said about an hour ago that he doesn`t really want to murder reporters like his friend Vladimir Putin.



SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), VERMONT: So what we are showing, we are showing - - and this is pretty revolutionary in a sense.

That you actually can run a serious, and we hope winning national campaign without being dependent on billionaires and corporate America. And I`m very proud of that.



O`DONNELL: That was Bernie Sanders in Sioux City, Iowa, tonight. Bernie Sanders presidential campaign has broken a fundraising record set by President Obama`s re-election campaign four years ago.

It`s not an amount of money, it is the number of contributions. At this point, in President Obama`s re-election campaign, he reported 2.2 million contributions.

The Sanders campaign has now reported 2.3 million contributions. The Sanders campaign says they broke the record during the Democratic debate Saturday night in New Hampshire.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should corporate America love Hillary Clinton?

CLINTON: Everybody should.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will corporate America love a President Sanders?

SANDERS: No, I think they won`t.


Though Hillary and I have a difference as CEOs of large multinationals, they like Hillary, they ain`t going to like me, and Wall Street is going to like me even less.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Michael Hiltzik, Pulitzer Prize winning business columnist for the "Los Angeles Times".

Sam Stein is still with us. Michael, that fundraising number is quite striking because he`s being compared to an incumbent president`s fundraising power and that number of contributions is just stunning.

MICHAEL HILTZIK, COLUMNIST, LOS ANGELES TIMES: Well, I think it is. It`s stunning and it`s inspiring. Certainly something that I think Senator Sanders should be proud of.

And I think it does give some of us heart that maybe Citizens United wasn`t the overwhelming force on behalf of the wealthy and corporate money that we thought.

But it doesn`t mean that Citizens United is going away and that there isn`t a lot of money coming from corporate sources into politics that we should be concerned about.

O`DONNELL: And Sam Stein, Citizens United is having a kind of a rough year with the Jeb Bush candidacy which was funded in a way that, you know, Citizens United would be made easier.

And then there`s Trump there saying that I`m not using any of this contributed money from the big contributors to these kinds of campaigns.

STEIN: Well, let me start with Bernie quickly, because I think that`s the remarkable story.

Which is not just the number of contributors he`s had, but towards the end of the last fundraising cycle, there was only about a few dozen or so of people who had actually given the maximum amount of contribution.

Which means that of those 2.3 million donors that he has or contributors he has, they can continue to give. It`s a fire hose of grass roots money that will sustain him through the campaign.

And it`s a really incredible thing for him to have built as a senator from Vermont, mind you, not a big fundraising state.

Now, as for Citizens United, yes, I think it`s true that the Super PAC culture hasn`t had the sway that we all thought it would on a presidential level.

But I don`t think that is reason to say that this is not having an effect on campaign finance in general. I think what you`re seeing is on lower level elections, even senatorial elections, they have a massive sway.

And you could have a few contributors, a few donors simply overwhelm a very small election by one check. And that`s what Citizens United did.

It doesn`t -- maybe it didn`t affect the presidential races like we thought, but lower down, it could have an enormous impact.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to more of what Bernie Sanders said about his relationship with the Wall Street.


SANDERS: I don`t think I`m going to get a whole lot of campaign contributions from Wall Street. I don`t have a Super PAC, I don`t want campaign contributions from corporate America.

And let me be clear. While there`s some great corporations creating jobs and trying to do the right thing, in my view, and I say this very seriously.

The greed of the billionaire class, the greed of Wall Street is destroying this economy and is destroying the lives of millions of Americans.

We need an economy that works for the middle class, not just a handful of billionaires and I will fight and lead to make that happen.


O`DONNELL: Michael, I had a guest on this program, Wall Street for Bernie. Where there`s a bunch of people on Wall Street making serious money, who like the sound of this, who know in their view -- who agree with Bernie Sanders notion of how much abuse goes on in their sector.

And which they think is unfair, which they`d like to see something happen.

HILTZIK: Well, I think a lot of people on Wall Street are concerned and nervous. They understand that this sort of income and wealth inequality that we`ve seen developing in this country has real social consequences.

And the social consequence that they develop are not going to be happy for the Wall Street class. So, I think you will see some support for some of these notions than you already have.

Now, that being said, I don`t see hedge fund operators like Paul Singer lining up to support either Bernie Sanders or --

O`DONNELL: Right --

HILTZIK: Hillary Clinton. They`re putting their money behind Republicans. I think the shareholding and the corporate executive class as a whole, and overwhelmingly, are looking for a Republican to support.

They`re not -- certainly Bernie Sanders would be their worst nightmare as president. But they wouldn`t be that happy with Hillary Clinton.

They really want a Republican. They think Republican policies are best for them.

O`DONNELL: Sam Stein, I have good news for you, Donald --

STEIN: Yes --

O`DONNELL: Trump doesn`t want to kill you or at least says he doesn`t want to kill you. He`s had the weekend to think about his praise from Vladimir Putin and the issue of just how many reporters has Vladimir Putin had killed.

And here is what Donald Trump said about it just about an hour and a half ago tonight. Let`s listen to this.


TRUMP: He said nice things, I didn`t know, I`ve never met him, so I didn`t know. And he said nice things. All of a sudden, I`m hearing things like - - oh, isn`t it terrible that Putin is saying that.

That`s not terrible, that`s good. That`s like a good thing, not a bad thing. And then they said, you know, he`s killed reporters.

And I don`t like that. I`m totally against that -- by the way, I hate some of these people but I`d never kill them. I hate them.


O`DONNELL: Sam, hates them but doesn`t want to kill them.

STEIN: Too bad --


O`DONNELL: A big -- a big advance for Donald Trump.

STEIN: It`s too bad. I just got that security system installed in my house and now he says he doesn`t want to kill us, so maybe I shouldn`t install it.

I mean, it`s not -- it`s not funny. It`s not funny. He`s talking about killing reporters, I mean they don`t need to be such a buzz kill.

But, you know, it`s ridiculous that a presidential candidate is as an aside alerting his crowds that, in fact, he doesn`t want to kill reporters.

Just think about that.

O`DONNELL: Yes, and Michael, it also shows as usual with Trump, this relentless ignorance about everything.

And in this case the ignorance of what kind of bravery it takes in Putin`s Russia to actually try to be an honest reporter.

HILTZIK: Well, that`s true. Not only in Putin`s Russia, but in so many places around the world. And for Trump to be talking about how he hates reporters -- look, the irony of this is that he`s benefited from journalistic --


HILTZIK: Coverage, probably more than any other candidate in the field --

STEIN: He loves reporters --

HILTZIK: Does. Yes, he loves reporters if they say what he likes, and if they don`t, well, then he hates them and that`s very Putinesque actually.

O`DONNELL: Yes, it is. Michael Hiltzik and Sam Stein, thank you both for joining me tonight --

STEIN: Thanks Lawrence --

O`DONNELL: I really appreciate it, thank you.

HILTZIK: My pleasure --

O`DONNELL: Up next, an Msnbc exclusive video of a fire-fight against ISIS inside Iraq. This was taken by one of the Iraqis who was in that fight.



O`DONNELL: The commander of U.S. Forces in Iraq had some progress to report today.


LT. GEN. SEAN MACFARLAND, COMMANDS COALITION FIGHTING ISIS: Most significantly and most recently we have begun to really make some progress with our Iraqi security force partners in and around Ramadi. And, that really validates the strategy of Training and equipping, advising and assisting our Iraqi security force partners.

And, although they have their own ways of doing things and it may not always be our way, it is in the end becoming increasingly effective as they have pushed the enemy out of that very important city of Ramadi.


O`DONNELL: That is Lieutenant General Sean MacFarland who commands the coalition fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria. MSNBC has exclusively obtained battlefield video of Iraqi Security Forces in Ramadi, the capital of Iraq`s Anbar province. The anti-ISIS tribal fighter recorded the video over the last two weeks as Iraqi forces fought to reclaim that city.

Joining us now Cal Perry, MSNBC Senior Editor for digital and video content. Cal, thanks very much for joining us tonight. This is a big advance in this battle against ISIS, because now there is some video that is being supplied that can be used in that public information war that is going on over there.

CAL PERRY, MSNBC SENIOR DIGITAL AND VIDEO CONTENT: Yes, exactly, Lawrence. We are so used to seeing and presenting the ISIS video that we get out of Syria and Iraq, but this is the first look on the ground over Ramadi. This is a city that did fall about five months ago to ISIS fighters.

And, in this video, we see a highway leading from east to west into that city being fought over. That is going to be the main supply route that runs into Ramadi as this battle sort of rages. And, this is all too familiar for the city, for the United States military, which you heard there General MacFarland talking about having trained some of these forces. This is the 8th division of the Iraqi army that you see fighting there back by tribal leaders.

So, this is Obama`s plan. This is the first sort of video of Obama`s plan in action if you like. And, in the next video, you will see them as they sort of take a schoolhouse. You will see something that we have never seen before, which is the Iraqi army making the public statement and you see it here. We should mention we have edited this video.

The fighting is fierce and the video is almost 30 minutes long in its total length. But, they make it through this schoolhouse, Lawrence. And, in the end, they unfurl the Iraqi flag. You heard General MacFarland there talking about having trained some of these Iraqi forces. This was true in 2006 after U.S. Marines and more than 5,000 of them cleared this exact city, these exact buildings. They trained Iraqi forces.

And, in talking to some of those individuals who did the training, some of those special ops forces, they would tell us as reporters on the ground in Iraq that you can train anyone to shoot a rifle straight, but you cannot teach someone to fight for their country, to fight for Iraq. And, this is a little bit of the first video, visual evidence we are seeing of the Iraqi army standing up to ISIS in a key, a vital city of Ramadi, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: And, the key point, getting that flag up in the end. We have another piece of video to see here that is more gruesome. What are we going to see in this one, Cal?

PERRY: So, yes, heads up to our viewers here. This came tacked along to the back of the video. And, what you are going to see here is the aftermath of a very long day as we understand it, of fighting in the city of Ramadi. So, these are dead ISIS fighters. Their bodies being kicked by allegedly members of the Iraqi army. Again, this video supplied to us.

So, when you hear General MacFarland there talking about the need to train and to train the trainer as the U.S. Military calls it, he says there we take the good with the bad. That is obviously the bad. Keep in mind, of course, the circumstances and what we see in these ISIS videos, this is something that these individuals are living every day, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Cal Perry, thanks for joining us tonight.

Up next, President Obama says it is fair to criticize his strategy against ISIS, and he thinks it is fair to criticize presidential candidates` strategy against ISIS.



O`DONNELL: In an interview with NPR, President Obama responded to some of the strategies for fighting ISIS that have been suggested by presidential candidates. Here is what the President said about Donald Trump`s proposal to bomb the heck out of them and Ted Cruz`s proposal to carpet bomb ISIS.


PRES. BARACK OBAMA, U.S. PRESIDENT: Well, when you listen to them, though, and you ask, "Well, what exactly are you talking about?" "Well, we are going to bomb more." But, who is it that you are going to bomb? Where is it that you are going to bomb? When you talk about something like carpet- bombing, what do you mean?

If the suggestion is, is that we kill tens or hundreds of thousands of innocent Syrians and Iraqis, that is not who we are and that would be a strategy that would have an enormous backlash against the United States. It would be terrible for our national security.


O`DONNELL: And, here is what the President said about establishing a no- fly zone in Syria, a position advocated by Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, John Kasich, Marco Rubio.


PRES. OBAMA: The other new thing that people have suggested would be some variation of a no-fly zone or a safe zone. This is something we have been talking about for three or four years. The challenge there is that ISIL does not have an air force, so the damage done there is not against ISIL, it is against the Syrian regime.

Creating a safe zone for Syrian refugees, we have tested. We have looked at repeatedly. The problem is, is that, again, without a large number of troops on the ground, it is hard to create a safe zone like that. And, that does not solve the ISIL problem.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now Hillary Mann Leverett, former State Department Middle East Specialist under President George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Also, with us Jonathan Stevenson, Professor at Strategic Studies at the U.S. Naval War College, who worked for the National Security Council from 2011 to 2013.

Jonathan Stevenson, to this issue of bombing more, do we have more to bomb? There is a question now of what targets are left after all of this bombing that has gone on for so long already.

JONATHAN STEVENSON, PROFESSOR U.S. NAVAL WAR COLLEGE: I think that, you know, accelerating bombing and finding more targets is going to be difficult, but one of the reasons that President Obama has -- wanted more special forces in with expanded mission of trying to find more targets and to guide the targeting of them is, in fact, to try to find a discriminate way to degrade ISIS` command and control and its ability to expand its mandate in Iraq and Syria.

But, I do not think it is -- you know, I think that, you know, the idea of indiscriminate bombing, of simply bombing more, obviously is just going to antagonize the people who ISIS is competing with other parties, more moderate parties, for filthy and to do that obviously would be counterproductive. It would just demonize the United States in the eyes of people in the region.

O`DONNELL: And, Hillary Mann Leverett, what was your reaction to what the President said about a no-fly zone and a safe zone within Syria?

HILLARY MANN LEVERETT, FMR. STATE DEPARTMENT MIDDLE EAST SPECIALIST: Well, I think he is right. I think creating a so-called safe zone in Syria is something that, in fact -- that the idea that the United States could do it would be tantamount to war. That is what the former Secretary of Defense Gates said to President Obama about Libya, that if we create a no-fly zone there it will be war and there will be chaos and that is what happened.

Unfortunately, President Obama did not heed that kind of advice on Libya and in the first -- in the early years on Syria, he has now come around. And, I think has a much more sustainable constructive policy, particularly as it is going on -- he is pursuing the diplomatic path with Secretary of State Kerry.

But, this idea that somehow there is going to be some clean neat way to establish a no-fly zone. You know, we did that in Libya. It led to war and destruction of the state. We can continue to do that in Syria, but it is a tried and true path to failure, more destruction.

O`DONNELL: Let us listen to more about what the President said in his NPR interview about his strategy.


PRES. OBAMA: I think that there is a legitimate criticism of what I have been doing and our administration has been doing in the sense that we have not, you know, on a regular basis, I think, described all the work that we have been doing for more than a year now to defeat ISIL.

And, so if people have not seen the fact that, in fact, 9,000 strikes have been carried out about ISIL. If they do not know that towns like Sinjar that were controlled by ISIL had been taken back or that is a town like Tikrit that was controlled by ISIL now has been repopulated by previous residents, then they might feel as if there is not enough of a response.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan Stevenson, how important is that communication level of this job?

STEVENSON: I think it is a very -- I think it is very important. I mean, articles recently have shown that over the last year, roughly since the American air campaign began in Syria and Iraq, that ISIL is, in fact, lost territory, that it now controls less than it did at the beginning.

So, at least, provisionally, I mean although the air campaign perhaps have not had spectacular results in terms of decimating ISIS or eradicating it, it has been effective. I mean I think -- so, the military measures are not completely ineffective even if they are not -- even if they are not dramatic.

The thing that has been missing as I think Hillary suggested is the political piece. There has not been a viable political process despite the efforts of the Obama administration to generate one. Now, that seems to be changing. The Vienna process got the United States, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Russia, all at the table. And, all willing at least to move forward, though admittedly -- you know, it is going to be a long haul.

And, now, crucially the United Nations says passed the unanimous -- the security council has passed -- unanimously passed an amendment that is going to re-enforce the process. So, you know, I do think that there are - - the policy now is crystallized to a point, where it has much stronger potential of working.

O`DONNELL: All right. We are out of time on this subject for tonight. Hillary Mann Leverett and Jonathan Stevenson, thank you both for joining us.

Coming up, we have breaking news about the Sandra Bland case, the woman who died after being arrested for a so-called traffic violation. That is coming up.



O`DONNELL: We have breaking news from Texas tonight, where a grand jury has decided not to indict any county jail employees in the death of Sandra Bland. She was the 28-year-old Chicago woman, who was found dead in her county jail cell in July, three days after being arrested by a state trooper for allegedly changing lanes without a turn signal.

The contentious traffic stop was caught on dash cam video and ended in Sandra Bland being arrested for assault. Medical examiners ruled her death in custody was suicide by hanging, which her family disputes. The grand jury has expected to reconvene in January to consider whether the trooper who arrested Sandra Bland should face charges.

Coming up, a couple of guests who I discovered on Twitter this weekend.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE SPEAKER: Standing up there straight and proud and beautiful.


O`DONNELL: They are not sports fans. Those people are workers at SpaceX. The rocket company founded by Tesla car company founder Elon Musk. Tonight`s SpaceX successfully launched the Falcon 9 Rocket into orbit from Cape Canaveral to deliver 11 communication satellites. They were cheering because SpaceX made history when the first stage of the Falcon 9 Rocket successfully returned to Earth and landed itself upright.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER (voice-over): The Falcon has landed. Landing operators move in procedure. Recovery that. Repeat.



O`DONNELL: And, now, for tonight`s "Last Word" which will go to two guests, who I found on Twitter this weekend. Here is a couple my favorite tweets of this weekend. Maria Hardeman tweeted, "Lawrence, thanks for bringing K.I.N.D. into the light. My nephews chose to gift a full desk and a girl`s full tuition instead of receiving gifts from me."

And, Shannon Berg tweeted, "Lawrence, just bought two desks on behalf of my kids. Love the K.I.N.D. Fund. Thank you." As, you know, you can contribute to the K.I.N.D. Fund by going to or you can find out all about how we deliver desks to Kids in Needs of Desks, kids in African schools that have never had desks.

You can also contribute to our girls tuition program to help keep girls in high school in Malawi, where the girls` graduation rate is half the rate of boys graduation, and that is mostly because tuition is a problem for high schools. They do not have free high schools there.

And, when a family is faced with the painful economic decision of who to send to high school, they will most likely choose one of the boys in the family instead of a girl. You can contribute a desk or a girls` scholarship in the name of anyone on your gift list and UNICEF will send them an Acknowledgement of your gift.

And, here is my all-time favorite tweet of the weekend. These cute kids sold baked goods to pay for four desks, eight kids going to the K.I.N.D. Fund. Proud. Thanks, Lawrence, for the inspiration.

Joining us now those kids, Preston Lucy and Connor Grossman, who raised money for the K.I.N.D. Fund this weekend. So, I saw that tweet. And, Preston, you guys were close by here in Toluca Lake. Why did you decide to do it?

PRESTON LUCY, RAISED MONEY FOR K.I.N.D. FUND: Well, the thought was originally my idea. Well, it was originally both of our ideas, sorry. And, I just -- well, we just thought it would be good to give back to other kids in other countries.

O`DONNELL: Conner, when did you first hear about the K.I.N.D. Fund?

CONNER GROSSMAN, HELD BAKE SALE FOR K.I.N.D. FUND: Well, I actually did not really know about it. I have community service for school.


GROSSMAN: And, I heard about him doing a bake sale, so I came out and I learned about the K.I.N.D. Fund. And, I was just thinking this morning before I came that -- about just taking for granted everything we have and other people in Africa do not have that stuff.

O`DONNELL: Yes. Yes. So, you are going to get credit for community service in school for doing this, I hope.


O`DONNELL: Great. That is great. And, so, how much money -- how long were you out there? Was it Saturday that you were out there?

LUCY: Yes.

O`DONNELL: And, how long were you guys out there?

LUCY: We were out there for about two hours and we raised about $130.

O`DONNELL: Oh, fantastic. And, you were selling this stuff right here, right?

LUCY: Yes.

O`DONNELL: These were some of the baked goods? OK. You are going to get a big contribution from me for the rest of your baked goods there. It will get us through the week here in the L.A. Studio.

Conner, you know, there are some schools where they have actually taken the desks out of the classroom here in America to sort of show this example to kids. And, that inspired them to raise a lot of money for the K.I.N.D. Fund. And, what strikes me is when you are in school at your age and you see these kids in our videos that are your age, it is something you can understand immediately. Right?


O`DONNELL: It is one of those things where imagine you walked into school tomorrow, you know, tomorrow, no desks at all. I mean, just imagine what that would be like, Preston.

LUCY: Yes. I can imagine that.

O`DONNELL: Yes. Pretty tough. Well, we really appreciate it. Thank you very much for doing this. And, I am going to give you your final contribution for what you did out there the other day. Thank you very much, Preston. I really appreciate it. Conner, thanks for coming in.

GROSSMAN: You are welcome.

O`DONNELL: Preston Lucy and Conner Grossman gets the "Last Word." Thank you very much. Chris Hayes is up next.