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The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 5/6/2016

Guests: Philip Klein, Yamiche Alcindor, Catharine Rampell

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: May 6, 2016 Guest: Philip Klein, Yamiche Alcindor, Catharine Rampell

ARI MELBER, MSNBC GUEST HOST: Hi. We are still going to be live this Friday night, Rachel, because Trump is about to address voters in Oregon. We`re going to keep an eye on that.

Before we go, though, I want to ask you, we heard a lot from Bernie in that very in-depth interview. I want to hear a little from you. I mean, what was your big takeaway of what you learned from him?

RACHEL MADDOW, "TRMS" HOST: Well, you know, it was a lot of news, actually, a lot more than I expected. Obviously, we heard him right there at the end saying, he will do everything in his power to stop Donald Trump from becoming president. I was really sort of pushing him on the acrimoniousness between his supporters and Hillary Clinton supporters, especially after he encouraged his supporters to protest outside events. He said he doesn`t want them disrupting, but he`s very happy for them to be protesting outside other candidate events.

So, it`s interesting. I mean, trying to think about a Democratic primary that is likely to end or almost assuredly going end to with Hillary Clinton as the nominee, we still don`t know where Bernie Sanders fits into that mix. I think we got a lot more information about him, and he sees himself as an anti-Trump force. It was an interesting discussion.

MELBER: Do you think he brings a certain credibility on some of these attacks on Trump that is distinct from what Hillary Clinton is saying?

MADDOW: You know, it`s interesting. Who do persuadable, possible Trump voters want to hear from in terms of having Trump discredited, right? Like who`s the best messenger for an anti-Trump message? We`ll see.

I mean, I think the thing that I`m wondering is, if Senator Sanders is -- we don`t know this yet. If he`s going to be a not particularly enthusiastic Hillary Clinton supporter, if he doesn`t try to go that, that`s kind of the question that everybody`s been asking him, are you going to support -- if you don`t win the nomination, are you going to drop out, endorse, encourage your supporters to support Hillary Clinton, are you going to work your butt off for her?

And I think there is -- that is one thing he might do. But there is this whole other lane, which is working against Donald Trump. And if it`s Clinton v. Trump, there`s only two pieces of the pie, right? So working against Trump in effect helps Clinton, but maybe he would be a more effective surrogate for an anti-Trump message than a pro-Clinton message if he`s not as comfortable giving that.

I don`t know. It just seemed to open up a whole new realm of possible activity for him for the fall.

MELBER: Right. Sort of a free-wheeling surrogate, even if he doesn`t think of himself that way.

It`s a fascinating interview. Thank you, Rachel. Thank you very much.

MADDOW: Thanks a lot, Ari. Appreciate it.

MELBER: It will be a big week for Trump as the last Republican standing in this long, bitter presidential nomination battle has ended. But instead, if you look at what he`s been doing, he has been facing unprecedented opposition, right now, this week, up until tonight, to party leaders. It hasn`t been all bad news. We will show you Dick Cheney did say Trump`s got his vote.



DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That`s peanuts! That`s peanuts!

OBAMA: This is not a reality show.

TRUMP: You`re fired!

OBAMA: This is a really serious job.

TRUMP: How am I doing? Am I doing a good job? Right?

REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIRMAN: I think that there is work on tone to do.

TRUMP: Go home to mom! Say hello to mom!

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I just can`t go there with Donald.

TRUMP: He is nasty.

GRAHAM: Good luck with Paul Ryan trying to find a conservative agenda with this guy.

TRUMP: Paul Ryan, I don`t know what happened.

PRIEBUS: I think Paul`s just being honest with how he feels.

GRAHAM: I think embracing Donald Trump is embracing demographic death.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He posted, "Happy Cinco de Mayo, the best taco bowls are made in Trump Tower Grill. I love Hispanics."

PRIEBUS: He`s trying.

GRAHAM: Eating a taco is probably not going to fix the problems we have with Hispanics.

OBAMA: As a general rule, I don`t pay attention to Mr. Trump`s tweets.

TRUMP: Get `em out of here!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s like a Batman villain. You`ll never get away with this Trump! You know, you know, I think I will, OK? OK?

ANNOUNCER: This is THE LAST WORD on campaign 2016.


MELBER: You are looking right now at a live shot at Eugene, Oregon, where Donald Trump will be holding a campaign rally at any moment. We`re also monitoring protests outside that rally, protests that residents have been organizing for weeks.

We`ve been told by many politicos that once Donald Trump won this presidential nomination, a new Trump would emerge -- a dealmaker ready to unite the party.

Well, he did win and the evidence pouring in tonight is that theory may be toast.

Right now, the Republican Party is in something approaching chaos over Donald Trump being the nominee, and he isn`t handling it well. This was supposed to be the first week in over half a year where Trump actually wouldn`t have to fight Republican politicians having beaten them in the primary.

That`s not what`s happening. Instead, he`s fighting with the top Republican in Washington, D.C. Paul Ryan took the unusual step, as you may have heard, of announcing that he`s not ready to back his party`s new nominee. Today, he announced that he will meet with Trump next week.

There are many ways to play this, but here is how Trump reacted to Speaker Ryan`s refusal of support.


TRUMP: So I was very, very surprised by it. And I like him, but the fact that he would do that, and he`s doing it under the banner of unity, when in actuality, that`s the opposite of unity. I have also had many people say that I`m better off. But I don`t believe that. I think we should have unity. I think it would be better to have him.

But, you know, it`s just too bad. Many people think I`m better off. Who knows?


MELBER: Who knows? That`s one swing.

Then in another statement today, Donald Trump further downplayed the significance of this newly scheduled meeting with Speaker Ryan, saying, quote, "I told Reince, the party chair, that I thought it was totally inappropriate what Paul Ryan said, and thought it was good for me politically. But Reince feels, and I`m OK with that, that we should meet before we go our separate ways. So I guess the meeting will take place and who knows what will happen."

Two other high-profile Republicans also coming out against Donald Trump today. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham said he can`t support Trump as the nominee. Former Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush saying he won`t vote for Donald Trump in November, because, quote, "the American presidency is an office that goes beyond just politics."

So that is the unusual state of the Republican Party. And today, there could not have been a greater contrast to that when President Obama, who has a clear idea of what`s at stake in a presidential election, spoke at length about the Republican Party`s new presumptive nominee.

Now, we want to play for you an extended portion of his remarks. Take a listen.


OBAMA: With respect to the Republican process and Mr. Trump, there`s going to be plenty of time to talk about his positions on various issues. He has a long record that needs to be examined. And I think it`s important for us to take seriously the statements that he`s made in the past.

But most importantly, and I speak to all of you in this room as reporters, as well as the American public, I think -- I just want to emphasize the degree to which we are in serious time and this is a really serious job. This is not entertainment. This is not a reality show. This is a contest for the presidency of the United States.

There is no doubt that there is a debate that`s taking place inside the Republican Party about who they are and what they represent. Their standard-bearer at the moment is Donald Trump. And I think not just Republican officials, but more importantly, Republican voters, are going to have to make a decision as to whether this is the guy who speaks for them and represents their values.

I think Republican women voters, are going to have to decide, is that the guy I feel comfortable with in representing me and what I care about?

I think folks who historically have been concerned about making sure that budgets add up and that we are responsible stewards of government finances have to ask, does Mr. Trump`s budgets work? You know, those are going to be questions that Republican voters, more than Republican officials, have to answer.


MELBER: Joining me now is Rick Tyler, former national spokesman for presidential candidate, Ted Cruz, and MSNBC contributor, as well as Philip Klein, managing editor of "The Washington Examiner", who recently publicly left the Republican Party after all of this.

But, Rick, let me start with you. What is the point of having a political party if the head of the party in the House can`t agree with the party`s members` choice as to who should be the nominee?

RICK TYLER, FORMER CRUZ FOR PRESIDENT SPOKESMAN: Well, the point of having a party is that you have a cohesive and coherent set of, well, an underlying governing philosophy. And that`s what`s happening in the Republican Party right now. It just seems to be divided. That Donald Trump doesn`t is not a Republican. He`s certainly not a conservative.

And what`s ironic, Ari, is that the conservatives are, for a long time, wanted to defeat the establishment. And here the establishment didn`t even produce a candidate and they`ve been defeated, except for the fact that they`ve, that the Republican Party has nominated Donald Trump, who doesn`t really seem to have any underlying governing philosophies. So now you have the conservative movement and the establishment essentially united, but united against Donald Trump. It is something to behold, it is something historic.

MELBER: It is. And we live many a world of high personally. The Trump movement, Philip, has had plenty of high personally, has have his detractors at time. But you can`t overstate how unusual this is.

"The New York Times" tried to find an example in American history and found that a party nominee has never failed to gain the support of a House speaker or majority leader from his party in modern times. They went back no 1896, when Speaker Reid ran against McKinley and made it known he would not serve as vice president, but ended up backing the nominee. They also go to the Goldwater example in `64.

This just doesn`t happen very often.

PHILIP KLEIN, LEFT THE REPUBLICAN PARTY: No, I think it`s clearly unprecedented for any experience that we have. I mean, Donald Trump has run against what the Republican Party has stood for, for decades, the idea of it being a limited government party. And at the same time, he`s done so in a way that`s been very controversial and bombastic and said a lot of things that are alienating towards not only ideological conservatives, but also people who have been trying to reach out and see the demographic writing on the wall, so to speak, and have been trying to reach out and broaden the appeal of the Republican Party.

MELBER: Right. Yet, Rick, this whole thing began, ironically with the first debate of the whole primary season. And every candidate, including your old boss, saying they would support the eventual nominee. Take a look.


MODERATOR: Is there anyone on stage, and can I see hands, who is unwilling tonight to pledge your support to the eventual nominee of the Republican Party and pledge to not run an independent campaign against that person?

Mr. Trump?


MELBER: That was an important moment. There is deep irony in the only guy initially challenging it being the nominee.

But if we`re taking those candidates at their word, Rick, Jeb Bush and Lindsey Graham said they would support the eventual nominee. They knew Donald Trump was in the race. Here they are today, revoking that. Your old boss, Ted Cruz, hasn`t spoken yet about what he`ll do.

Isn`t there some blame to go around? They`re not keeping their end of the bargain they publicly made.

TYLER: I remember that moment very well. And that moment, you know, in the debate, Bret Baier wanted to nail Donald Trump down and he did. And Donald Trump raised his hand, as you saw there, and it was wildly unpopular. People were not happy with the idea that we had a candidate on stage who would not support the Republican nominee.

And then they all signed pledges, and those pledges were, by the way, designed to box Donald Trump in. And now, the opposite has happened. All of the people who signed the pledges are boxed in to support Donald Trump.

But, look, you know, there`s a real concern about whether Donald Trump is, as the head of the Republican Party, being its nominee, represents the party going forward. And they feel there`s real danger in losing races up and down the ticket.

MELBER: Do you think Ted Cruz can walk away from that pledge?

TYLER: You know, Ted Cruz, when he gave his press conference, it seemed to me, it slammed the door shut hard, because it looked as though he already knew what he was going to do that night. He had seen the polls. He knew if it didn`t come out the way he wanted it to come out, that he was going to drop out of the race.

And so, he -- look, Donald Trump can make that correct. And this is what Paul Ryan is doing here. He says, I`m not going to support the nominee yet. Because he does want a meeting with him and he does want him to change his behavior.

By the way, another thing that`s very interesting is all the big donors -- remember, Donald Trump ran his campaign, part of his old underlying premises, I`m not bought off, I`m not paid for. Nobody can buy me, because aisle spending my own money.

Well, there`s a full reversal going on right now. He wants people to raise money, and the reason is, he doesn`t have enough money, liquid cash, to run a campaign. And what his donors are telling him is they want to sit down, and you know, conduct these two and three-hour interviews and answer their questions.

I don`t see Donald Trump doing that. But they`re all going to want to change in behavior. And this is what Ryan is getting at, is I will support you and we will begin to unify this party. And he can, but he`s got to see some progress.

MELBER: Right, and as we point out, it is unusual, the move, the reasoning may be as you say, to exert what leverage he can over Donald Trump.

Rick and Philip, stay with us.

Coming up, after years of false promises to repeal Obamacare and eliminate the EPA, House Speaker Paul Ryan is surprised that Republican voters don`t see House Republicans as a success.

Also, Senator Elizabeth Warren just went on another round of attacks in the last hour against Donald Trump. We`ll show you that.

And we are still watching, as I mentioned, Eugene, Oregon, where these protests right now outside of the Donald Trump rally and Trump has just taken the stage.

Stay with us.


MELBER: We`re looking at live pictures of Donald Trump speaking right now, kicking off this rally in Eugene, Oregon, one of the late primary states. We`ll dip in and listen later if we see or hear anything newsworthy there.

Meanwhile, outside, the other side of this story, as I mentioned, hundreds of anti-Trump protesters gathering. This is outside of the Lane Convention Center in Eugene, Oregon, at that rally.

NBC news correspondent, Steve Patterson, has been on the ground and checking it all out.

Steve, what are you seeing?

STEVE PATTERSON, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Ari, we are right in the middle of the anti-Trump movement in Eugene. We are about two football fields away from where Trump is scheduled to speak in a matter of moments.

But we`re hearing from the crowd basically all day, we can pan back and show you what`s beginning on here. Mainly, it has been loud, it has been boisterous, but it has mainly be peaceful. We`re seeing crowds in similar sizes to what we saw in Chicago, in L.A., in San Francisco, but the difference here is that we really haven`t seen much action, much conflict with pro-Trump people, with police. And that is because of the amount of security that we have.

We`re going to pan back this way. The fence line has really kept people from out of the crowd that we were in now. And it`s been this way for quite some time, a lot of security inside, a lot of security outside. Police, as well as the Secret Service has been combing through not only this area, but also protesters inside.

You see them, they get in our face, they`re rowdy and ready to go. But, again, no conflicts as far as what we`ve seen here with the crowd outside, and the Trump supporters that continue to flood in inside.

Back to you, Ari.

MELBER: Thank you, Steve Patterson, there on location.

And I should mention, we don`t know what`s going on behind him. There were some signs we did not attend to show there, that were flashed up. But we`ll be keeping an eye and show more of Trump speaking at that rally in Eugene, Oregon, as warranted tonight, based on what he says.

Now, up next, House Speaker Paul Ryan does not know or seem to know why so many Republican voters aren`t believing that establishment Republicans have been a success. More on that, straight ahead.


MELBER: The reality of Donald Trump becoming the Republican Party`s presumptive nominee has GOP leaders now grappling with the challenge of trying to reconcile his candidacy with their efforts to not only unify but expand their party`s appeal.

This week, House Speaker Paul Ryan described the challenge this way.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We sometimes forget just how successful we`ve been. We have the biggest House majority since 1928. We have 54 Republican Senate seats. We have state legislative majorities and governorships that we haven`t seen in years, in decades.

And so, we`ve done extremely well. Our party is having -- enjoying success because we`ve unified around common conservative principles. And we have one more hill to climb, one more mountaintop, that`s the presidency.


MELBER: What you`re looking at there is a view of the good news from Paul Ryan. But the question is, is there good news ahead?

Here`s how one conservative radio host in Wisconsin looked at it with a dire assessment of what Trump will actually cost Republicans when it comes to trying to win over voters this year.


CHARLIE SYKES, NEVER TRUMP MOVEMENT: Donald Trump is a serial liar, a race baiter, a xenophobe, someone who mocks the disabled, mocks women. And Republicans who roll over, who think this is business as usual are going to own all of that. It`s going to be very hard for a lot of Republicans to walk back after this is over and say to minorities, say to women, say to young people, you know, that`s not us. That`s not who we are.

Because you know what? If they back Donald Trump, that is who they are. And it`s going to be very, very hard for them to wipe the stink of that.


MELBER: To wipe the stink. You know, Donald Trump has never been active in Republican politics before, that`s not a secret. And if he loses in five months, he may never be very active again.

But a lot of Republicans are worried about more than just November. They`re worried, as that radio host just explained, about how long this stink will last for the GOP.

Well, back with us is Philip Klein and Rick Tyler.

Philip, having left the Republican Party, as I mentioned just now, I put the question to you. How much of the calculation here goes even beyond November?

KLEIN: I think a lot of it. As I said earlier, for decades, the Republican Party, at least, even though it didn`t always follow through, the idea was people agreed that at least fundamentally, philosophically, it was a limited government party. And clearly, Donald Trump has blown that up.

And I think that what`s happened is with the Republican Party, is sort of two things. In one sense, they`ve had a problem with overpromising and under-delivering. They campaign, for instance, on the idea of repealing and replacing Obamacare, and then, they get in, and they`re confronted with the reality, first, that they didn`t have control of the Senate, they only controlled the House. And then that they don`t control the White House.

And so, when they`re in power, they make the legitimate argument that, look, without full control of government, we can`t repeal it. However, because they ran on repeal, it makes it seem as though they could do it, they`re just not willing to fight enough.

And I also think that there`s something more fundamental that`s been going on and that`s been going on for a while -- which is that conservatism has long had a critique of political elites and the basis of that critique is that we don`t want Washington and bureaucrats and so-called experts trying to run our lives. We want power to become returned to the states and to the people.

However, over time, that`s morphed into this sort of general distrust for anybody in any position of authority, for any type of expertise, for any type of suggestion that policies should be taken seriously, and that has really, along with a number of other characteristic things, have played into Donald Trump`s hand.

MELBER: Well, you could argue that that is very much intense or worse now, Rick. You could also argue that has been a strain in a conservative critique of sort of federal government and expert-driven governing for a very long time, if you want to go back to anti-intellectualism thought or Adlai Stevenson being derided as an egghead, Donald Trump is tapping into some of that, right, in a way that goes deeper than what`s -- just the last few years.

TYLER: What Phil is saying is absolutely right. The conservative movement in the Republicans put -- they gave the Republicans the majority in the House and Senate and did nothing with it. And what they said, their argument was, we don`t have enough votes, so we can`t pass anything, so we`ve got to have everything.

Well, that`s simply not true. It really started, and the other point is, it`s sort of interesting. And Phil is right, somehow the conservative party gets tagged with some intellectual elitism, yet, it`s antithetical to who conservatives are --

MELBER: Rick, I`m going to interrupt you, because Donald Trump is responding to Senator Warren. This is something we want to hear.

TRUMP: So I will not say Indian. She is a Native American 5 percent, and therefore her whole career, because she was a minority, that`s a disgrace what`s going on what`s in our country. So goofy Elizabeth Warren, I think that Hillary should run with goofy Elizabeth Warren. I would love to beat them. I would love to beat them.

So I just heard, you know, they`re doing the whole -- she plays her woman`s card, right? Hillary Clinton plays -- it`s the only card she has. Because, honestly, without that card, she would get nobody voting for her. Nobody.

So, every time you see something like, you`re very nice, but not nice enough to a woman. You have to be very careful. So you`re very nice, but not nice -- did you see Donald Trump? The way he spoke to her?

I mean, give me a break. So I just heard that she`s got all of her friends from Wall Street. And by the way, I know her friends better than she does. They will get more done by contributing to her campaign.

So, they`ve got all the friends from Wall Street. And I don`t even think she should be winning. Because you know, the system`s rigged. It was rigged for me. The Republican system was actually better, because it was less obvious, the rigging.

And I realized, you know, because I`d win, like, Louisiana, and then I`d find out, where are my delegates? And they take them out to dinner and get them hotel rooms and take them on a yacht, and all of a sudden, I say, wait a minute --

MELBER: We`ve been listening to Donald Trump there in Eugene, Oregon. We`re not playing the whole thing, but we`re listening in for the new parts.

Rick, respond, if you would, to that attack on Elizabeth Warren. They have been clashing online all this week. Him saying that she is, quote, "goofy", that she`s, quote, "5 percent Native American" and repeating his so-called woman card charge against Senator Clinton.

TYLER: Well, it`s sort of absurd. The idea that Hillary Clinton is getting votes only because she`s a woman, I mean, who does he think voting for her? And then he went on another time and said that women don`t like Donald Trump.

But this is part of the whole problem. Look, he`s the presumptive front- runner. He`s supposed to be attracting more and more people to him and he just continues to alienate people.

What he`s worried about here is that Elizabeth Warren would be the running mate. You would have two women on the ticket, which I think is essentially -- would be pretty smart for the Democrats. And Elizabeth Warren electrifies the base. Elizabeth Warren gets the same kind of reaction that Bernie Sanders has.

And that`s what Hillary Clinton needs is Bernie Sanders supporters, and Bernie Sanders supports like Elizabeth Warren.

MELBER: So you`re saying that what Donald Trump is saying may not actually be 100 percent true. It may reflect some other angle. Shocking.

TYLER: And notice what he`s doing. He`s branding her already, right? So we have a new nickname he`s trying to brand. It`s goofy --


MELBER: I`m not sure if that will stick as well. We`ll figure it out.

Phil Klein and Rick Tyler, thanks for bearing with us and some of that dipping in and out of the rally.

Now, up next, the first NBC News Electoral College outlook has been revealed and it`s an uphill battle for Donald Trump. We have all the numbers new for you, straight ahead.


MELBER: Welcome back.

Tonight, NBC News has released its first general election battleground map for 2016. And this is what the numbers show -- trouble for Donald Trump and the Republican ticket.

Look at this. In a matchup between the Republican presumptive nominee and Hillary Clinton, Clinton would maintain a 63 lead in the electoral vote. That`s a 63-electoral vote lead, 253-190.

Now, meanwhile, we put 95 electoral votes essentially up for grabs, based on the numbers. The map also projects that Clinton and the Democratic Party would surpass the 270 electoral votes that you need to take the White House, if they could just win Florida or Ohio or a combination of Colorado and Virginia. That is fairly positive terrain for Democrats.

The findings come amid reports that Clinton allies may seize on Jeb Bush`s announcement today that he won`t for Trump. They`re now looking for money in some unusual places. That story, straight ahead.


MELBER: Donald Trump was very proud of being a self-funder in the primaries, but the first thing he did after becoming the presumptive nominee was announced that he will actively seek money for his campaign, the very practice he spent the last half year criticizing. You may have heard about this.

His convention manager, Paul Manafort, explained the shift today right here on MSNBC.


PAUL MANAFORT, CONVENTION MANAGER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: When he was running for the nomination, he was an individual running against -- running for the nomination of the Republican Party. Now that he`s going to be the nominee of the Republican Party, he represents not just himself, but he represents the party structures and all the people who are going to be running on the Republican ticket. It`s his job as the leader of that party to make sure that the party is equipped with the resources necessary to compete against the Democrats.


MELBER: So that is the plan. But in an election cycle where nothing has been typical, Trump may find that fairly typical plan is harder than usual.

For starters, some of the usual Republican donors may not back Trump. We`ve been talking about that. Clinton strategists already seizing on this potential opening, even contacting leading Jeb Bush donors, saying they should do the once-unthinkable thing and become Republicans for Hillary. It doesn`t hurt, of course, as we`ve reported tonight, that Jeb officially announced that he will not back Donald Trump.

And "Politico" is reporting Clinton allies already wrote up a list of Bush backers months ago, but are waiting until Trump locked down the nomination before beginning to make the calls. Well, let the calls begin.

And joining us to unpack it all, Catherine Rampell, opinion columnist for "The Washington Post", and Yamiche Alcindor, a national political reporter for "The New York Times."

Good evening.


MELBER: Let me start with you. Will these calls make a difference?

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I think they might make a difference. They`re showing that Hillary Clinton`s willing to even go there and start talking to people and start moving to the center. I think that the Republicans after seeing her run against Bernie Sanders, they could that she could be tempted to go the more progressive leaning side and pick up Bernie Sanders supporters.

So, I think if they`re interested and disgusted by Hillary Clinton and interested in backing someone else that makes more sense to them, that these calls could help.

MELBER: And, Catherine, this article in "Politico" has a lot of anonymous sources, because people don`t want to get into this publicly. Here`s what one said, an unnamed bank CEO, that`s a decent source, says, quote, there are risks with Trump and you do need to do some contingency planning -- having him as the nominee is like playing around with the puck in front of your own net in hockey.

There`s some danger there. I`m glad he explains it in hockey. What do you think of that analogy?

RAMPELL: Well, look, if you`re a hedge fund guy and looking at a trade-off between potentially higher taxes on one hand or a nuclear holocaust on the other hand, you might say, you know what, I`m OK with how my taxes, maybe it`s OK if they go up a little bit, assuming Hillary could get that through Congress.

You know, these are people who play both sides of the fence in many elections prior to this one, and they may see potentially worse downside risks with Trump.

MELBER: Well, and as a "Washington Post" reporter and a writer, you see this a lot. There`s something people make fun of, which is Washington`s obsession with serious people and sometimes that`s a term that gets used to sort of delegitimize people who are perfectly serious.

This seems like a time where it actually means something. I mean, folks who are involved in running businesses, in running government agencies, in doing the work of the country, look at Donald Trump, regardless of his supposed ideology, as someone who`s not serious.

RAMPELL: Right, and he`s potentially a loose cannon, to use Hillary Clinton`s new preferred terminology. I think that`s the main risk with him. That he`s unpredictable. That he doesn`t seem to have a firm grasp of policy, nor does he have much of an interest in obtaining a firm grasp on policy.

MELBER: Now, he`s disavowed the idea that that`s important. And he believes that -- what we`re seeing this week is this similar approach we had in the primaries on how he`s going to run. In fact, just moments ago, this is what he said about Hillary Clinton at this rally.


TRUMP: I loved it. Other than I didn`t like the way I looked. It was the worst I`ve ever looked on television. Maybe she set me up! Maybe she set me -- it`s the worst I`ve ever looked on television.

To me, the look is important. You know? The look is important.

Don King, the big boxing promoter, he would say, you have the look. The look. The look`s important. We`re not supposed to say that, but the look is important, OK?

You know, there are other people who could say the same words I`m saying and it`s not going to work too well. Look at these people here, sometimes the look.

Let me just tell you, what they`re doing, just remember this. What they`re doing is $90 million of ads on Donald Trump and it has to do a lot with the women`s issue, right? And I`m saying to myself, but nobody in this country, and maybe in the history of the country politically, was worse than Bill Clinton with women.

He was a disaster. He was a disaster. I mean, there`s never been anybody like this. And she was a total enabler. She would go after these women and destroy their lives.

Have you ever read what Hillary Clinton did to the women that Bill Clinton had affairs with? And they`re going after me with women? Give me a break, folks. Give me a break!

And I see her all the time. She`s saying, Donald Trump -- oh, he said something, it was a little bit off with the woman -- can`t do that. Or it was on Howard Stern`s show and they were -- and again, remember this. If I ever thought I was going to run for office, I would have not done Howard`s show or I would have talked a little bit differently. We wouldn`t have had fun.

I would have said, Howard, we cannot discuss this subject. I, some day, in 20 years, will run for president, and therefore -- so they take clips that are 15 years old or 5 years old. Because, honestly, folks, I never thought I`d be doing this.

But just think of it: Bill Clinton was the worst in history and I have to listen to her talking about it? And just remember this -- she was an unbelievably nasty, mean enabler. And what she did to a lot of those women is disgraceful.

So, put that in her bonnet and let`s see what happens, OK? With their $90 million --


MELBER: Quote, "she was a total enabler." We`ve been listening to Donald Trump just moments ago making some of his most explicit attacks on Hillary Clinton and what he alleges was her conduct in the treatment of women who accused Bill Clinton of personal misconduct, remarks certain to draw attention.

Catherine and Yamiche are still. They`re going to stay with us for reaction right after the break.



TRUMP: Just think of it: Bill Clinton was the worst in history and I have to listen to her talking about it? And just remember this -- she was an unbelievably nasty, mean, enabler and what she did to a lot of those women is disgraceful. So, put that in her bonnet and let`s see what happens, OK?


MELBER: Donald Trump`s remarks there about Hillary Clinton moments ago, in Eugene, Oregon.

And here to discuss, Catherine Rampell, opinion columnist with "The Washington Post" and Yamiche Alcindor, "New York Times" national political reporter.

Yamiche, what we`re seeing a very explicit attack by Donald Trump, saying not only he wants to bring up a Bill Clinton`s affairs and history, but that Hillary Clinton was, quote, "a total enabler." She would go after the women and, quote, "destroy their lives".

ALCINDOR: So, I think what he`s really trying to do is it`s kind of a continuation of the women card. This idea that he`s trying to cast her as someone who helped and hurt women, who helped her husband and hurt women. He`s kind of tried this idea before, this idea that he`s talked about Bill Clinton`s past, and he`s in some ways trying to really debuting these nasty attacks that he`s going to do in the general election.

And I predict that Hillary Clinton is not going to passively take this. She`s not going to passively try to brush it over. She said she`s OK going back to the 1990s and she`s OK taking him head on. And he took on 16 people -- 16 Republican contenders and one of the biggest things people talked about was the fact they weren`t willing to take him head-on, they weren`t willing to go after those personal attacks and I think Hillary Clinton has seen that, and I don`t think she`s going to sit by and say, OK, I`m not going to say something about this.

RAMPELL: This is also sort of a peculiar line of attack in that Trump loves raising lots of various innuendos about scandalous things or semi, supposedly scandalous things that his opponents have done. But in this particular case, you know, she was seen as a victim in the `90s. And that enhanced her popularity to an extent. And playing up the -- you know, the aggrieved wife card, if you will, may actually lend more sympathy to her than antagonism.

MELBER: He is alleging here, Donald Trump, that she is not just the aggrieved wife in that personal scenario, but that as a matter of her public conduct or political activities, that she was part of some effort to discredit women who would accuse Bill Clinton of misconduct. As is often the case with Donald Trump, the sound we just played didn`t have examples, didn`t have evidence or didn`t cite to a source.

He is referring to something in either the conservative ether or general history. It would be incumbent upon him to back it up with examples.

RAMPELL: Not that he ever does that.

MELBER: Not that he does. He just got off doing a Ted Cruz/JFK assassination thing, and his source was "The National Enquirer" and there was no truth to it.

But is this something he`s selecting on a Friday night to kick off the weekend and kick off the discussions about the Hillary Clinton campaign.

RAMPELL: He clearly thinks there`s material that will play well to his audience and potential undecided voters. Whether or not he actually has any proof to bear, is irrelevant, as we have seen in the past.

MELBER: You`re saying it`s politically irrelevant?

RAMPELL: Yes, I think it`s --

MELBER: I mean, it`s journalistically relevant that he says things that are not true.

RAMPELL: Yes, well, that`s definitely true. I mean, that`s a pattern throughout the campaign. He gets fact-checked to death. No matter what he says, no matter how many people will say, this is not true, here`s the evidence, you know, here are the numbers, here are the sources, whatever, to demonstrate whatever he said is demonstrably false, it doesn`t matter to him. He barrels through and repeats the lie again and again.

In this case, it`s just insinuation. And insinuation is effective.

ALCINDOR: Well, the interesting thing about Donald Trump, though, is because he beat out 16 people doing this, that it shows you that he has this ability to do these things. And still win.

So, he -- like you said, he has this idea that he knows who he`s talking to and he knows this is going to be able to help him in some way. I think one of the things that journalists, people at my paper and other places said that they got wrong was the fact that they thought that he was kind of someone who was running for play, that he was someone who wasn`t really prepared.

But I think he`s doing these things and he`s calculating these -- he`s making these calculations and this calculation tonight shows that he`s thinking, I`m going to be able to go after her personally and it`s going to help me. I don`t think he would have said this if he didn`t think it was going to help him in the general election.

MELBER: Right. Yet one of the interesting things about the Donald Trump experiment is he`s certainly correct at Republicans in Washington have gotten a lot wrong. It doesn`t mean that they`ve gotten 100 percent of everything wrong. And they`ve certainly learned from the past that when they attacked Hillary Clinton in this scenario, it didn`t work. That`s why they changed it.

In other words, they tried this attack. They tried -- what we just heard from Donald Trump five minutes ago, they tried for months in 1997 to 1998, and it gave them the historic loss of how seats in a year that every other time they`ve won for 40 years, as you alluded to.

So, it`s very interesting to see politically what he`s doing in addition to the fact that some of it is baseless.

I want to thank Catherine Rampell and Yamiche Alcindor here, as we`ve gone in and out of the rally with some news. Thanks for being here.

RAMPELL: Thank you.


MELBER: All right. We`ll be right back.


MELBER: Donald Trump made new charge against Hillary Clinton moments ago at his rally in Eugene, Oregon, talking about her role in what he alleges was efforts to discredit women who accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct, another development in what has been a busy and often difficult week for Donald Trump.

When we come back after the break, we`ll talk to Rick Tyler, former aide to Ted Cruz about this and the campaign, straight ahead.



TRUMP: But just think of it: Bill Clinton was the worst in history and I have to listen to her talking about it? And just remember this -- she was an unbelievably nasty, mean, enabler with, and what she did to a lot of those women is disgraceful. So, put that in her bonnet and let`s see what happens, OK?


MELBER: Donald Trump moments ago, with his most explicit criticism of Hillary Clinton in her role in what he alleges was discrediting women in the context of Bill Clinton`s sexual misconduct.

Back with us is Rick Tyler, former aide to Senator Ted Cruz.

Rick, I`ll start with the most recent history, which is on Wednesday. Donald Trump told our own Lester Holt that he wanted to take the high road in this campaign. That he wouldn`t get in to some of the issues I just mentioned unless the Clintons attacked him first.

And you`ve heard that line in the primaries. Obviously, like some other things he`s said, that wasn`t true, because nothing`s happened that I know of between Wednesday and now. Does this look like the high road?

TYLER: No, it certainly doesn`t. Donald Trump has said over and over again, he can change. He`s able to change, and that he would -- could become more presidential. And that he would become boring. But as we saw again here tonight, he`s anything but boring.

One of the things that he did, it`s hard to say very well -- but he controlled the news cycle. He -- what we call in the business, win the day. You`ve got to win the day.

And he won a lot of days. And he won the days, because he would say things like this. It gets a lot of people talking, it drives the news, and it drowns out the other -- the opponents. And I think he`s going to -- it seems like he`s going to stick to that tactic.

MELBER: So when you talk about that tactic to step outside of whatever our role may be, as two people talking about him on TV, are you basically saying that what worked in the primaries can work in the general? Because the big difference is, when you drown out five other candidates in the primary, that`s a huge benefit. In the general, everyone knows who the two nominees are, right?

TYLER: I think it`s a lot harder to do than the general election. I also think that Hillary Clinton is going to raise somewhere around $1 billion. The Trump team seems to be well aware of this. This is why they`re reversing themselves.

We saw Paul Manafort in your segment or piece early talking about why they`re going to have to go out and raise money. I think it undercuts who Donald Trump said he was to his supporters, and that is, he can`t be bought and paid for.

His new finance chairman has ties to Goldman Sachs, has raised lots of money and given money to Hillary Clinton. So, you know, I don`t know if whether his supporters will see this as a reversal in abandoning them or even selling them out, but I think it presents a real problem for Donald Trump.

But his greater problem is, he clearly isn`t liquid enough to finance this campaign on his own.

MELBER: That`s the money issue. The other thing I want to ask you, because you`ve been so much closer to this cycle than most, your view of what we just heard tonight. Do you think he ran that by his senior strategist, oh, let`s get into this particular topic on the Clintons? Or do you think this just pops out at a rally?

TYLER: I think he just sort of gets in intoxicated with the crowd and loves the reaction from the crowd. It`s really -- it`s performance art in a way and the crowds love him. And he wants to please them, as any performer would. And performers like to see the crowd get riled up and have a good time. And he knows how to do that and it`s sort of an addiction for him.

MELBER: Right. Which is -- which, again, is a psychological or personal analysis of someone who`s running for a job that involves definitely having discipline and transcending your emotional needs of the moment, I would say, as an understatement.

Rick Tyler, thanks for joining us tonight.

TYLER: Happy to do it.

MELBER: Appreciate it.

I am Ari Melber. You can follow me if you want more on Twitter @arimelber.

And I want to tell you something else. Be sure to tune into "POLITICS NATION," a very special edition this Sunday at 8:00 a.m. "Nightly Show" host Larry Wilmore will be there talking to Al Sharpton and will respond to some of the controversies around his use of the, quote, "N-word" in front of the president at that White House Correspondents` Dinner last weekend. Sunday, 8:00 a.m. on MSNBC.

Our coverage, of course, continues. Chris Hayes is up next.