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The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 5/19/2016

Guests: Christopher Dickey, Tom Nichols, David Corn, Jim Bennett, Mark Penn, Craig Melvin, Laura Haim, Nafees Hamid, Kerry Sanders

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: May 19, 2016 Guest: Christopher Dickey, Tom Nichols, David Corn, Jim Bennett, Mark Penn, Craig Melvin, Laura Haim, Nafees Hamid, Kerry Sanders

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.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC H: Good evening Rachel, thank you very much.

MADDOW: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: President Obama made no comment about the EgyptAir disaster today, but the presidential candidates did, the reaction of one of the candidates deeply troubled.

Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates who said he didn`t think that candidate is ready to be president.

Also tonight, the poignant story of a former Republican senator, who when he knew he was dying, had but one wish.

He wanted to apologize to Muslims for Donald Trump. His son will join us and tell us that story.

And a new poll tonight showing Hillary Clinton`s lead over Donald Trump narrowing. Hillary Clinton`s former pollster will join us.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It does appear that it was an act of terrorism.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She won`t use the term radical Islamic terrorism. You understand that, she won`t use it.

CLINTON: When you run for president of the United States, the entire world is listening and watching.

TRUMP: If anybody thinks it wasn`t blown out of the sky, you`re 100 percent wrong, folks, OK?

ROBERT GATES, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I think there are some overseas that think we`ve lost our collective minds.

TRUMP: We are not going to be the stupid country anymore.

CLINTON: I have concluded he is not qualified to be president of the United States.

TRUMP: And he essentially shouldn`t be running for office, he doesn`t have the right to run for office.

CLINTON: The kinds of positions he is stating are not just offensive to people, they are potentially dangerous.

TRUMP: A plane got blown out of the sky. If Hillary Clinton gets in, I don`t know if our country can ever recover.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think he`s qualified?

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I`m not going to litigate this thing from the podium.

TRUMP: How stupid can we be? We are viewed as the stupid country.

CLINTON: I know how hard this job is. We need steadiness as well as strength and smarts. The threat that Donald Trump poses is so dramatic.


O`DONNELL: It`s 4:00 a.m. in Cairo, about an hour from now at sunrise, the search will resume for EgyptAir flight 804 which disappeared off the Egyptian coast over the Mediterranean Sea.

More than 24 hours ago, with 66 people aboard including 7 crew members, no Americans were on that plane.

Today, President Obama made no adjustments to his public schedule and made no comment about the loss of the Egypt airplane.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said this.


JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It`s too early to definitively say what may have caused this disaster. The investigation is underway.

And investigators will consider all of the potential factors that could have contributed to the crash.

And obviously, there`s an opportunity for the United States government to support those efforts, then we will do that.

And the President asked his team to keep him appraised of developments as they occur.


O`DONNELL: Apparently, it is never too early for Donald Trump to jump to conclusions.

And so, at 6:27 a.m., he tweeted, "looks like yet another terrorist attack. Airplane departed from Paris.

When will we get tough, smart, and vigilant, great, hate and sickness." It would have been OK for a reality show performer to tweet something like that, a guess about what happened to the plane.

But presidents are not in the business of publicly guessing about these things, and presidential candidates shouldn`t be either.

Bernie Sanders was the only presidential candidate who followed President Obama`s lead and said nothing about the plane crash.

At 1:46 p.m. today, after several public reports indicated that Egyptian officials and Greek officials were saying that terrorism was the most likely reason for the plane`s disappearance, Hillary Clinton said this.


CLINTON: It does appear that it was an act of terrorism. Exactly how, of course, the investigation will have to determine.

But it once again shines a very bright light on the threats that we face from organized terror groups.

ISIS of course, but then there are other networks of terrorists that have to be hunted down and defeated.


O`DONNELL: In that same interview, the former Secretary of State was asked the same question that Paul Ryan was asked today.

Is Donald Trump qualified to be president?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think that Donald Trump is qualified to be president?

CLINTON: No, I do not. I know how hard this job is. And I know that we need steadiness as well as strength and smarts in it.

And I have concluded he is not qualified to be president of the United States.


O`DONNELL: Today, Katie Couric asked former Defense Secretary Robert Gates about Donald Trump`s reaction to the EgyptAir disaster.


KATIE COURIC, JOURNALIST: Does Trump`s response indicate anything about how he would respond to a crisis if he becomes commander-in-chief?

GATES: Well, I hope it doesn`t suggest how he would respond to a crisis.

Because one of the first things that you have to learn when you have the responsibility is to wait until you get reliable information before you speak publicly or before you take action.

Mr. Trump`s comments, basically have been essentially, I think, ill- informed bluster and threats.

COURIC: Would you feel comfortable with his proverbial finger on a nuclear button?

GATES: Right now, no.


O`DONNELL: Tonight, the presidential candidate who used to say he would never attend a fundraiser was at a fundraiser in New Jersey where he said this about Hillary Clinton.


TRUMP: Today, we had a terrible tragedy, and she came up and she said that Donald Trump talked about radical Islamic terrorism which she doesn`t want to use.

She used a different term. Because she doesn`t want to use that term. She refuses to use that term.

And I`m saying to myself -- and it`s a terrible thing, and he essentially shouldn`t be running for office, he doesn`t have the right to run for office.

And I`m saying to myself, what just happened about 12 hours ago? A plane got blown out of the sky.

Out of anything, if anybody thinks it wasn`t blown out of the sky, you`re 100 percent wrong, folks, OK?


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Tom Nichols, professor of national security affairs at the U.S. Naval War College.

Also with us, Christopher Dickey; foreign editor for "The Daily Beast" and an Msnbc contributor.

Also with us, David Corn; Washington Bureau Chief for "Mother Jones" and an Msnbc political analyst.

Christopher Dickey, you have the advantage of a European perspective on these things here.

And I -- when you hear Donald Trump saying, we are viewed as stupid country on a day when he is out there behaving as no other presidential candidate ever has in the aftermath of one of these things.

What is the world reaction?

CHRISTOPHER DICKEY, FOREIGN EDITOR, DAILY BEAST: You know, look, he is exactly right. We are viewed as a stupid country because we have Donald Trump running for president and he might be elected.

The rest of the world looks at that and they really say how crazy and stupid can Americans be?

That they would elect a guy who has never been elected to any office, who`s obviously a blow-hard and a bully, who knows absolutely nothing about foreign affairs.

Who thinks that the art of the deal is statesmanship, they wonder what the hell is going on in the United States of America.

So, he`s right, they do think we`re stupid.

O`DONNELL: Tom Nichols, your reaction to the day`s events and to the candidates reactions?

TOM NICHOLS, PROFESSOR OF NATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS, U.S. NAVAL WAR COLLEGE: The problem is that everything that happens in the world is just raw material for Donald Trump`s ego and Donald Trump`s mouth.

He didn`t really reflect on this. He didn`t say anything serious about terrorism if this is in fact terrorism, as it looks to be.

He showed no understanding of the fact that there are other people in the world who are grieved about this.

It was merely raw material to yell into a microphone to rile up his supporters who really don`t need any more riling up.

And I agree. You know, I think that we are becoming the stupid country, at least in the eyes of others, and certainly in the eyes of -- even a lot of Americans.

And I think Robert Gates spoke for a lot of people in the national security community, when he said, you know, that he is uncomfortable thinking about that finger on the nuclear button.

Because Trump talks first and thinks, if at all much later.

O`DONNELL: And David Corn, Hillary Clinton`s public reaction came more than six hours after Donald Trump.

And as we`ve seen in this story, information is being developed hour by hour, sometimes minute by minute, she was working with a lot more public information at that time.

And of course, a presidential candidate who is out there today is going to be asked about this. What was your reaction to how Hillary Clinton handled it?

DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, MOTHER JONES: I think he was fine. She said it looked like this.

She didn`t make any pronouncements, she didn`t jump up and down, she didn`t light her hair on fire.

She didn`t act like the circus barker that Donald Trump acts about anything. It could be an act of terrorism, it could be something that Rosie O`Donnell says.

He has the same reaction, the same imprudent response to virtually everything. And there`s a practical matter here, too, of course Chris is right.

This is going to affect the way people see American leadership. But also, when he gets out there and he talks of banning Muslims, there is no way we can deal with the threat of terrorism to Americans and to others unilaterally.

We need Muslim nations, we need western European nations to work with us. And all he does is to get out there and act like a bully or a bigot.

And that`s not the way to make friends in an endeavor that we need for our own security.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to more of what Hillary Clinton said about this today, talking about when you run for president, not just -- not just when you are president.

But when you run for president, the whole world is listening. Let`s listen to this.


CLINTON: When you run for president of the United States, the entire world is listening and watching.

I think if you go through many of his irresponsible, reckless, dangerous comments, it`s not just somebody saying something off the cuff, we all mistake things, we all, you know, may not be as careful in phrasing what we say.

This is a pattern, it`s a pattern that has gone on now for months.


O`DONNELL: Christopher Dickey, does the world hear that? Does French television and European television play that on a day like this when Hillary Clinton comes out and says these careful, measured things in response to this?

Or that they just go with the crazy Trump stuff?

DICKEY: No, I think that they do try and be balance. Certainly, the responsible media in France will try to put forth what Hillary is saying because she is the other candidate in their mind, and probably will be the candidate for the Democratic Party.

But it doesn`t have the kind of resonance. Look, people always like caricatures. So, why do the French love Barack Obama?

I mean, he has like an 80 percent approval rating in France. They -- because he is a positive caricature of what they think Americans ought to be these days.

Trump is a negative caricature and Hillary is just not an inspiring figure for the French or for anybody else overseas.

I`m afraid for -- I`m afraid for many people in America either.

O`DONNELL: The -- but Tom Nichols, on a day like today, it seems to me that America would be a lot better off if what Hillary Clinton had to say was pushed around the world in the media, at least as much and more than what Donald Trump had to say.

NICHOLS: I don`t think that`s the point. Asking someone who is running for president against someone else if she thinks her opponent is qualified is the softest, the softball question.

I think the bigger problem here is temperament. And that is something that comes across in any language.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are not running to be president of France. They`re running to be president of the United States.

And what other people, I think are concerned about is not whether they`re qualified. There are very many people who are qualified.

They have only been 44 men who`ve ever sat behind that desk and only 12 since the nuclear age.

The bigger question is, does this American do any of these Americans running for office have the temperament or are they prone to simply fly off the handle and shoot from the lip about things that -- about which they know nothing.

And Donald Trump not only has proven astounding ignorance of foreign affairs, but he doesn`t even wait for basic information.

He tweets the minute he sees something, there`s no filter from his eyes to his fingers. And that is an incredibly dangerous characteristic of temperament in a potential president.

O`DONNELL: We just had a clip at the beginning of the show of Paul Ryan being asked about Donald Trump`s qualifications for president.

I just want to run that in full right now in extraordinary moment. Let`s watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`ve met him, A, do you think he is qualified, and B, what are those qualifications?

RYAN: I`m not going to litigate this thing from the podium.


O`DONNELL: David Corn, he -- the speaker of the house refuses to say that the nominee of his party is qualified, just qualified to be president.

CORN: Well, of course not. I mean, he -- Paul Ryan, whatever we may think of him from a partisan, ideological different standpoint is an adult, is a smart fellow.

And he can look at Donald Trump the way many Republicans in Washington do and see a disaster in the making.

And so, he doesn`t have the temperament or the qualifications to be president.

Yes, the sad thing and, you know, and I really do feel for these Republicans walking in Washington, the professional political class, they cannot bring themselves to say it.

They are wed to the idea that they need to have somebody in the Republican Party run for president and hopefully win, so that they have jobs and vendors get contracts and they get appointments.

And so, they are slowly acquiescing to Donald Trump, though, they know better, have opportunism and (INAUDIBLE).

And that`s where Paul Ryan is right now, and it`s only going to get sadder when he`s up there in Cleveland or after Cleveland and saying that he does support this guy.

Like other professional Republicans in town who are all submitting to the Trump bond(ph).

O`DONNELL: David Corn --

NICHOLS: And Lawrence --

O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Tom, quickly. NICHOLS: Well, I was going to say one more thing about Paul Ryan, he is in the line of presidential succession.


NICHOLS: He understands the gravity of this issue. And I think that`s one of the reasons he probably gave the answer he did.

O`DONNELL: Tom Nichols, Christopher Dickey and David Corn, thank you all for joining us tonight, really --

CORN: Yes --

O`DONNELL: Appreciate it. Coming up, the Republican senator whose dying wish was to apologize to Muslims for Donald Trump.

And Hillary Clinton`s former pollster will join us in the war room tonight with a look at the latest national polls.

And later live reports on the EgyptAir disaster.



TRUMP: Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.


O`DONNELL: Republican Senator Bob Bennett`s dying wish was to apologize to Muslims for that. His son joins us next.


O`DONNELL: As he lay dying, 82-year-old Bob Bennett had one more thing he wanted to do. He turned to his son Jim and said, "are there any Muslims in this hospital?"

Jim was surprised by the question, was knocked off balance a bit by it. But he said, "yes, dad, I`m sure there are."

Jim remembers his father was very emotional when he then said, "I want to go up to every single one of them and apologize.

I want to go up to every single one of them and tell them how grateful I am that they are in this country and apologize on behalf of the Republican Party for Donald Trump."

Bob Bennett served three terms as United States Senator from Utah, Bob Bennett was following in his father`s footsteps to the Senate.

Wallace Bennett served as a Republican Senator from Utah from 1951 to 1974. Bob Bennett`s first elected office was student body president at the University of Utah.

He leaves his wife Joyce, six children and 20 grandchildren. Joining us now is the son of former Senator Bob Bennett, Jim Bennett.

Jim, thank you very much for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.

JIM BENNETT, SON OF BOB BENNETT: Appreciate the opportunity, Lawrence, thank you.

O`DONNELL: Jim, please, tell us that story of that moment, when your father turned to you and said this.

And how you were surprised by it and what you then learned about his thinking?

BENNETT: Well, I think you described it pretty well. It was surprising and we were on the lookout for whether or not my father was going to be confused or lose some mental capacity after a stroke.

So, when he asked, are there any Muslims in this hospital? It seemed like an (INAUDIBLE), and we were a little concerned.

But it was very clear that he had an agenda in mind and he said I want to walk up to every single one of them and thank them for being in this country and apologize on behalf of the Republican Party for Donald Trump.

And as I`ve been telling the story, I was talking to my mother and she pointed out that this was not something that was brought on by the stroke.

Then when he was traveling to Utah over Christmas, he walked up to a woman in the airport who was wearing hijab and said, I am grateful that you`re in this country and I would want to apologize on behalf of the Republican Party.

So, this was a concern of his, not just as he lay dying, but in the last few months of his life.

O`DONNELL: Do you have any idea what the reactions were from some of the Muslims that -- who your father approached.

BENNETT: I don`t. I do know that he received a number of wonderful messages from people including people in the Muslim community here in Utah, who thanked him very much for reaching out when he obviously had a number of other things that he could have been thinking about during that time.

So, the reaction has been very positive from the people who have heard his statement while he was in the hospital.

O`DONNELL: I just want to help people picture this, because your father who I served in the staff of the Senate while your father was there --

BENNETT: Oh, really?

O`DONNELL: And I can tell you that, I know you`ve heard this from everyone, but he had 100 percent respect of everyone in the body as a man of dignity and kindness and grace.

And it didn`t matter whether people had political disagreements with him, there wasn`t a person there who didn`t like and respect him.

But he was a real giant of a man. He towered over me, what was he, 6`6?

BENNETT: He was 6`6, yes.

O`DONNELL: And -- but this very gentle, but gigantic and imposing figure. And I`m just picturing him, maybe leaning down to have some of these conversations with people in the last year.

BENNETT: Yes, I can -- I can see how that might have been somewhat intimidating. But I think you`re absolutely right.

Both the Senate majority leader and Senate minority leader spoke at his funeral in Washington.

And I think that was a tribute to the fact that he was respected all across the aisle and the people who knew him recognized him as a very thoughtful and reasonable person regardless of his political ideology.

O`DONNELL: And like you and your father, you as Mormons, you do missionary work at a --

BENNETT: Right --

O`DONNELL: Certain point in your late teens and early 20s at the latest. And I`ve been wondering today, does that kind of missionary work which is a unique commitment to Mormon, young Mormon men.

Does that change your view do you think of the world and the different people in the world?

BENNETT: I think it does. I think it puts you in an environment when you`re a young man to have to deal with the world in a way that you wouldn`t otherwise if you were staying home.

And I certainly think that the teachings of the church, particularly lately, the church has put tremendous emphasis on helping refugees.

And so many of the refugees that have been impacted by the crisis around the world or of the Muslim faith.

And also Mormons I think have a cultural -- a cultural reminiscence of the way that we were persecuted back in the early days of the church.

And I think that that parallel was inspiring to my father and had a great deal to do with his concern for how Muslims are being treated today.

O`DONNELL: Jim, if your father was with us today, where do you suppose he would be in Republican politics today.

I mean, we have a "Never Trump" movement, we have people who are like Paul Ryan, who say, they`re trying to find their way to Trump -- your father`s old friend Bob Dole has come to grips with Trump endorsement basically.

Where do you think your father would be?

BENNETT: I think he`d be a never Trumper. I don`t think he`s ever used a hashtag before, but --


BENNETT: If he did I think it would be a Never Trump hashtag.

But we are a family that believes that this life is not the end, and I think he is in a place now where he`s very grateful that he doesn`t have to make that decision.

O`DONNELL: Jim Bennett, it was an honor to know your father, and I`m very glad you were able to join us tonight, really appreciate it.

BENNETT: Thank you for the opportunity, I appreciate it.

O`DONNELL: Thank you. Up next, a new ad calls Donald Trump a con man, something we heard from Marco Rubio.

And we have a new poll on the Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump match-up, that`s in the war room.


O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s war room. The war room is of course the most important place to be in a presidential campaign.

It`s where the campaign managers and strategists pour over the latest polling to figure out where they should be spending their resources, where they should be sending the candidate, and where they might be able to turn some votes in their favor.

Tonight, the Clinton and Trump war rooms will be studying the new CBS National Poll, which shows Hillary Clinton ahead at 47 percent to Donald Trump`s 41 percent with a three-point margin of error. That is a narrowing of Hillary Clinton`s lead in that CBS Poll, which last month had her ahead by ten points, a lead outside of the margin of error.

In the new CBS poll, Bernie Sanders leads now Trump by 13 points at 51 to 38. The CBS News, New York Times poll comes a day after a Fox News Poll showed Donald in front of Hillary Clinton by 3 points, 45 to 42, with a three-point margin of error.

With 173 days to go, for the campaign war rooms, joining us tonight in the "Last Word" war room is Mark Penn, a democratic pollster and veteran of the Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton war rooms. He is now as visiting professor of government at Harvard.

Mark, thank you very much for joining us in the war room. We got a big star from the old Clinton war rooms here, so, it is all you. And, Mark, the polling situations are fascinating because the campaigns are doing their own polling. The Super Pac is doing its own polling.

But, when the National Polls come out, what is the campaign reaction to them? When the Fox, when the CBS Poll comes out, do they study those just like they study their own polls?

MARK PENN, FMR. STRATEGIST TO BILL AND HILLARY CLINTON: Absolutely. I mean, I think every campaign compares the national polls as they come out to the internal polls, and they look for what kind of differences they are seeing, if any. Sometimes, they have to push back, and fight against the poll. Look, I think all polls are a snapshot in time.

And, in the last couple of weeks, I think Trump has gained primarily by consolidating republican voters. And, on the democratic side, the democratic party is still not united. It will not be united, I guess for some time.

And, so, I think that puts Hillary at a disadvantage in polling right now. But, I think when the party comes together, she will see a bump, certainly bump back is what I would expect out of that.

O`DONNELL: And, I want to do a quick tutorial on polls for people, because I know, I want to do this every four years. I mean, people think, "Oh, there is a big difference between the Fox Poll last night, which showed them basically in a statistical tie.

Now, here is one that shows Hillary with a lead. In fact, the three-point margin of error means that any number in the poll can be three points higher or three-points lower, right? That is the way the margin of error works.

PENN: That is plus or minus three-point lead.

O`DONNELL: Plus or minus. Everyone forgets that. So, when you have a six-point so-called lead. You might be tied. You might in fact with the margin of error be tied. It is possible.

PENN: Inconceivably.


PENN: I did not look at the exact sample sizes. This might be two and a half points.

O`DONNELL: They are both three-pointers. And, so, what we are really doing, it is not like when you get your temperature taken by the doctor, who you says it is 98.7. It is as if the doctor said to you, "Well, it is between 94 and 102." You get like a band of possibility, right? That is what the polls are showing. And, what you are paying attention to a trends, right? You are looking at it, well, is this narrowing? That is what you are studying, right?

PENN: Well, you are looking for trends, but you are also looking for the internals in the polls that represent movement that is going to happen. I mean, this poll show a very large undecided. Is that undecided primarily, democratic voters, likely to break for Hillary later or are there other kinds of voters.

You are looking for intensity of turnout. Right now, there is a lot of focus on the favorable, unfavorables. Donald Trump already has a 65 percent unfavorable. It is very hard to drive anybody below 65 percent unfavorable.

Hillary also has a net unfavorable, not as severe as Donald Trumps, but that means that the voters in the middle who are deciding probably do not like either candidate at this point.

And, that is really what the polls are showing. How are those voters, who are really going to decide the election going to make up their minds when right now they are not exactly happy with either candidate. And, that is what the next months are really going to decide in terms of how they play out and what we are going to look for in the polls.

O`DONNELL: What we saws in tonight`s CBS poll on the unfavorable is essentially a tie. It is within the margin of error. Hillary Clinton at 52, Donald Trump at 55, which was an improvement for Donald Trump.

I want to go to this other question, Mark, that I have never seen anything like it in the polls. Is the candidate honest and trustworthy? And, last night, we showed the Fox News number and weirdly to my mind, Hillary Clinton had a worst number than Donald Trump, which I just cannot fathom.

Hillary Clinton was at 66 percent, not honest and trustworthy. Donald Trump was at 57. Now, tonight, in the CBS Poll, they are both tied at 66. 66 percent saying "No" -- 64 percent saying, "No" to the question of "Is the candidate honest and trustworthy?" How does the Clinton campaign deal with that number? When they look at that section of a poll, what should be the strategic response?

PENN: Well, I think that is the problem. I think when we had numbers with President Clinton, when he was running for reelection, we said, "Look, we really focus on his public values." "What has he done for people and how that matters?"

And, to suggest that the public values were such that they really overwhelm any sense of his private values. In this case, this is remarkable. In polling history, we have not had two major presidential candidates who both unfavorable to the public with as you saw 64 percent saying that they are not honest.

The essential problem she has now that she has got to overcome, so, look, I got a vision for the country. And, you can you cannot trust that I am going to implement that vision and you cannot trust that Donald Trump is going to implement any vision. Who knows what vision he is going to implement.

So, I think she got to pivot both to a little bit more to the positive and show a contrast on this question of honesty. Because what is honesty really mean to the public. It means will the next president really do what they said they were going to do. That is the practical meaning of honesty. And, right now, they are not believing either candidate.

O`DONNELL: Mark, as you look at this polls, is there a case for confidence on either side, democrat or republican?

PENN: Well, again, I do not think a total confidence. I think Hillary has a significant edge in a poll that I did with the Harvard caps organization. It showed that if Donald went negative, he could bring it to 38-38.

But, I think ultimately, that leaves a large undecided that probably won`t break for Trump in the absence of something really happening in this election that might give an opportunity for Trump.

I think right now, as I said earlier, the Democratic Party is divided. The republican party is somewhat divided, but republican voters are coalescing around Donald.

I think the time will come when she unites the Democratic Party, when Sanders in particular supports her, I think she will have a surge. That is why I give her a significant edge at this point. If those generally predictable events happen as they should happen.

O`DONNELL: Mark Penn, one of the MVPs of the Clinton war rooms, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it.

PENN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, it will soon be daylight in the search area for the EgyptAir Flight. We will have live reports next.



O`DONNELL: It is almost daybreak off the coast of Egypt where the search will resume for EgyptAir Flight 804. Tonight, there are conflicting reports about whether wreckage was found from the plane. NBC`s Craig Melvin joins us live from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, where the flight originated. Craig.

CRAIG MELVIN, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Lawrence, that flight took off just after 11:00 on Wednesday night. As you know, behind me right now, you can hear some of the commercial air traffic. FedEx flights started about 30 minutes ago. But, always quiet here in Charles de Gaulle International Flights that resume here in a couple of hours.

Here is the thing, you mentioned that the debris that was initially thought to be in the Mediterranean. The associated press reporting now that as officials approached that debris, they discovered that it was in fact, not plane debris. So, at this point, no sign of EgyptAir Flight 804. Some 66 people on board, 55 of them were passengers.

At this point Lawrence, investigators were told looking at two things, primarily, number one, who had access the plane. There are some 57,000 airport employees. They will be looking at who had access to the plane. They will also be looking at who had access to the plane when it was in Tunisia.

It was in Tunisia roughly 36 hours ago. That was the last stop before it made the flight from here to Cairo. In addition to that, they will looking at who was on the plane, pouring over the passenger manifest as well. As you indicated, the search for tonight at least has stopped. That search is going to pick up when the sun starts to rise. One of the major concerns evidence washing away, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Craig Melvin from Paris. Thank you very much for joining us. We will see you back at the top of the hour, Craig, when we continue our live coverage. Thank you very much.

Coming up next. How high tech U.S. spying equipment is being used in the crash investigation.



O`DONNELL: Just over 24 hours ago, that the EgyptAir Flight 804 disappeared. The search for the plane is expected to resume shortly. NBC`s Kerry Sanders joins us with the latest on what U.S. Intelligence has gathered about the plane. Kerry?

KERRY SANDERS, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lawrence, there is so much that we do not know. So, let us go over the details of what we do know and this is what investigators are looking at.

First of all, we know according to the Greek government that their military radar shows that the aircraft traveling at about 37,000 feet, made an unexpected left turn of about 90 degrees, then went into a circle motion, and dropping to 15,000 feet, before it went off radar.

Now, let us take a look at the timeline of the communications between those who were on board the aircraft in the cockpit and the air traffic control. First from Greece, and then, air traffic control in Egypt. We know that the last contact was at 8:30. Then at 8:40, the flight disappeared as we said it.

At 8:50, they attempted to try to contact them, but there was no contact. So, now we can see, if we look at the map that the vessels in the area are beginning to converge in an area near where it is believed that the actual debris may have rained it down into the Mediterranean.

As we have note it in the report we just hear from Craig, there was some reporting that there was debris found, and then it turns out it is not. This is a very tricky thing, because there are so much garbage floating in our worlds, oceans and seas, and so what they really need to do is get the debris, bring it on board and take a look for serial numbers, so they confirm what they are looking form is indeed it.

But, the real focus, ultimately, is to find one of these or both of these. There are two on board at the aircraft. They are called black boxes, even though they are orange. One is a flight data recorder, the other is a voice recorder. Now, the data recorder will record everything that is going up on with the plane, up until the moment that the plane fell apart.

The recordings of the voice are important, because it is not simply the transmissions of the pilot and the co-pilot, but it records everything that they are saying or if somebody burst into the cockpit, it would record that sound. And, that would be very important for the investigators, but try to find this extremely difficult.

It has a pinger. So, the pinger can last, in some cases up to 90 days a little bit longer. But, remember, the water we are talking about here at the surfaces in the 60s, but when you go down to about 2 miles down in this area, the temperatures drop down to the high 30s. And, that affects the ability of the battery here.

So, what they will do is if they can find the pinger, they will use this sort of equipment that you are looking at. This has side scan sonar and also send in what is called an ROV, a remotely operated vehicle. And, find these black boxes and bring them up.

Now, the real question I think that everybody is wondering is, was this terrorism? There is no definitive answer, but the U.S. Military and the intelligence community has, what is known as a persistent stare. It means they are always looking at this part of the world with equipment that is extremely high-tech.

It is not only looking with infrared from satellites, but it is also listening. And, according to the intelligence officials, the gathering of data and all the layers put together would suggest that there was some sort of explosion. I am not saying it was terrorism, but there were some sort of explosion.

And, that information gathered there certainly suggest as they are trying to find all of these data, and all of these pieces of debris that something went wrong. And, this is a plane, remember, more than 6,000 of them are flying around the world. One takes out every 2 seconds.

This is a plane with a great safety record. So, the idea that something went mechanically wrong with the airplane is kind of like at the lowest level of where they are looking at of possibility of what happened here. Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Kerry Sanders in valuable reporting. I really appreciate it. Thanks for joining us, Kerry. We will back with more on the EgyptAir disaster.



JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We have seen a desire on the part of extremists around the world, including some extremist in the Middle East, to carry out attacks targeting International Aviation System. We obviously are mindful of that.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Laura Haim, White House Correspondent and U.S. Bureau Chief for Canal II and Nafees Hamid, Research Fellow at Artis International and co-author of "Paris: The War ISIS Wants," which is published in the New York Review of books.

Laura, we just heard Kerry Sanders reporting from Washington that Intelligence Officials there are saying that they believe that what they are probably dealing with here is an explosion of some kind. They are leaning toward terrorism. What are Paris investigators discovering?

LAURA HAIM, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CANAL PLUS: Yes, the Paris investigators think also, at this point, that the terrorist piece is the favorite one. And, they are looking at different things, specifically looking at some passengers who were in the plane.

One Saudi was on the plane, two Iraqis were in the plane, and also three security guards were in the plane. And, they really would like to know why the three men were in the plane, and who did they protect. And, also they are also looking at the stops made by the plane.

Before they come to Paris, the plane made a stop in Utopia then the plane made a stop in Tunisia and then the plane came through Paris. So, they also would like to know of some people were able to go inside the plane to clean the plane and maybe to put something inside the plane. At this moment, they are looking at the oldest, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Nafees Hamid, if this is terrorism, what do you make of the target being EgyptAir?

NAFEES HAMID, ARTIS INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH FELLOW: Yes, this is part of their general strategy, sort of disperse resource and to open up battle fields across different nations. They realize that right now at this moment there, there is a perception anyways that they are on their back foot. And, in fact, they have lost 40 percent of their territory over the course of 2015.

So, what they want to do is disperse resources by not only carrying out multiple tax within particular counties, but now they are opening it up across the continence. They are trying to show that we cannot only be transnational but we can be transcontinental and interesting strategy to have an attack that is partially against a Muslim majority country, but also implicating a non-Muslim majority country.

Because an addition to trying to disperse resources and to create a perception that they are actually winning, when it comes to non-Muslim majority countries especially western countries, they have the strategy called the extinction of the gray zone, which basically means they are trying to actively create an anti-Muslim backlash, saying we can attack your people.

We want you to basically save the commons about Muslims to make them feel unwanted and to push them into the arms of ISIS. So, they are using really a double edge strategy.

O`DONNELL: Let us listen to what Hillary Clinton said about this today.


HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have learned a lot more, and we are really grappling with, and I think succeeding at making it more difficult for them to operate. What we now have to also pay a lot or attention to are the literally thousands of people who left Europe, went to Syria and/or Iraq or are in Turkey or somewhere else connected to ISIS or one of the other terrorist networks that are part of the overall threat.


O`DONNELL: Laura, when you listen to the way Secretary Clinton poses that, that creates quite a burden on European Governments.

HAIM: Yes, absolutely. And, what is interesting in the story when you speak here to some investigator that also telling you that this part of the world is extremely sensitive. Yesterday, I spoke with someone who is telling me that Egypt -- and believed that the Islamic set is now really in Libya and really want to strike France and Egypt, and try to do that several times.

So, they are also looking at a lot of informations, coming from phone conversations from Libya. They really would like to know if there was a connection between some people inside Libya, and what happened yesterday night.

O`DONNELL: Nafees, is there something that United States can do, in addition to what it is already doing to help European Governments deal with this?

HAMID: They are already sharing intelligence and trying to communicate and acting as brokers. But, really, it is going to be on the European Governments to share information more effectively and they have reasonable concerns that they do not want to share information that was hard bought. And, they are not sure if they trust some nations forsee other nations to be slightly weaker in terms of their security apparatus. I think a tax like this highlight the reason for why you need more communication between the nations and now, even internationally.

O`DONNELL: Laura Haim and Nafees Hamid, thank you both for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it. MSNBC`s live coverage continues now with Craig Melvin in Paris.