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The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 6/16/2016

Guests: David French, Rick Wilson, Christine Todd Whitman, Richard Engel, Charlie Pierce, David Corn, Matthew Valentine

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: June 16, 2016 Guest: David French, Rick Wilson, Christine Todd Whitman, Richard Engel, Charlie Pierce, David Corn, Matthew Valentine

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 HOST: Rachel, it was great to see the leader of that filibuster actually summon the strength to come on television tonight.

MADDOW: I couldn`t believe it, I know --

O`DONNELL: I didn`t think Chris -- I mean, how is he still on his feet or even sitting in his chair talking to you --

MADDOW: The rules were that he couldn`t leave the Senate floor and he could not sit down.

O`DONNELL: Right --

MADDOW: And then he did that for 15 straight hours, got five minutes of sleep and was still going tonight. What an amazing --

O`DONNELL: Right --

MADDOW: Performance --

O`DONNELL: It was -- I was riveted to it --

MADDOW: Yes --

O`DONNELL: And your interview tonight, thanks Rachel --

MADDOW: Thanks Lawrence, appreciate it --

O`DONNELL: Thank you. Well, Donald Trump is now telling Republican leaders who oppose him to be quiet, just be quiet.

Those were his actual words, just be quiet. One Republican leader who refuses to be quiet will join us tonight and she has a few words to say about Chris Christie who just happens to have her old job of governor of New Jersey.

But first, at this time last night, this very moment last night, Senator Chris Murphy was ten hours and 39 minutes into a filibuster unlike any I have ever seen.

There had never been a filibuster about gun control before, so that made it historic as soon as it began, but something else happened last night that I`ve never seen before.

The filibuster worked. Chris Murphy cracked the wall of Republican resistance to even voting on any kind of gun safety measure and in today`s United States Senate, controlled by the most unreasonable Senate majority in history, the Senate that won`t even give a Supreme Court nominee a vote in that Senate.

What happened last night was a big victory, a victory won by one Democrat who decided to stand up to 54 Republicans because he just couldn`t take it anymore.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This debate needs to change. It`s outgrown the old political stalemates.

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER, UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: We want to make sure something like this doesn`t happen again. Everybody wants that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of us are vulnerable, and we`ve got to shut it down.

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: This actually was an old-fashioned filibuster.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER, SENATE: A campaign tankathon out here on the Senate floor.

MURPHY: It doesn`t take courage to stand here on the floor of the United States Senate. It takes courage to look into the eye of a shooter and instead of running, wrapping your arms around a 6-year-old boy.

SEN. ELIZABETH MCCONNELL (D), MASSACHUSETTS: If we fail to act, then members of this Congress will have blood on our hands.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The fact that Mitch McConnell is moving to give us a vote shows he must be feeling some pressure.

RYAN: We`re going to take a deep breath and make sure that this is done correctly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don`t be a chicken, put your name on the line in your vote.

OBAMA: I truly hope that senators rise to the moment and do the right thing.

MURPHY: What can you do to make sure that Orlando or Sandy Hook never, ever happens again? I yield the floor.


O`DONNELL: The United States Senate is a very conservative workplace, and I`m not using the word conservative in a political sense.

I mean behaviorally. Senators, Democrats and Republicans are mostly very careful people. Their behavior is very careful.

They don`t take chances. They don`t rock the boat. They have spent their lives, most of them, plotting their way to the United States Senate and plotting very carefully.

Most of them are not the kids who get in trouble in high school. They`re not the rebels. They`re the class presidents.

They`re the kids who wore neckties when no one else did. They were the kids that rebels made fun of. Chris Murphy has the classic profile of a United States Senator.

He was student-body president at Wethersfield High School in Connecticut. He carried a briefcase in high school and founded the Young Democrats at his high school.

In any high school movie, Chris Murphy with that briefcase would be the predictable square who never has an even slightly interesting moment on screen.

Chris Murphy didn`t go off into the world seeking adventure and looking for a path in life. He always knew what he was going to do.

He was elected state representative when he was 26. He was elected state senator when he was 30. Went to Washington as a member of the House of Representatives at 34.

Connecticut voters promoted him to the Senate after three terms in the house, along the way, he picked up a wife and two kids.

That is the classic Senate resume. There was no clue in that resume that Chris Murphy would do what he did last night.

That resume says Chris Murphy got to the Senate by playing it safe. That resume says Chris Murphy is not a rebel, but the single most rebellious action available to a senator is the filibuster.

Most senators wouldn`t dream of filibustering and never do. Years go by in the Senate without a filibuster. There are three reasons senators don`t filibuster.

One, it`s not who they are. They are not disruptors. That`s not who they are. Most of them are not that way.

The second reason senators don`t filibuster is that most of their colleagues will hate them for doing it and they know that.

And the third and most important reason, most important reason, is that filibusters don`t work. When you stand up in the Senate and filibuster in a way you are just admitting your weakness, there`s nothing you can do, you`ve run out of moves.

You have nothing, and your opponents know that all they have to do is wait for you to give up and they always give up.

That`s all they have to do. The opponents go back to their offices or they go home and they wait for you to get tired and sit down and they give you nothing.

Absolutely nothing of what you`re trying to accomplish. That is the typical outcome of a filibuster. Absolutely nothing.

That is not what happened last night. At 11:21 a.m. yesterday morning, Chris Murphy stood up in the United States Senate and began speaking to a body where a nominee for the Supreme Court cannot get even a vote in a committee or on the floor.

He was speaking to a body where sensible gun legislation cannot even get a vote and that`s all he wanted, a vote.

Sure, he`d like to win the vote, but you can`t win anything in the Senate without a vote.

The President and the Senate Democratic leadership have been unable to get a vote for a Supreme Court nominee, but the junior senator from Connecticut who attended the funerals of the 20 children massacred at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the senator who has bonded with the families of those children, families who he met in the worst possible circumstances.

That senator had had enough. He couldn`t take it anymore. He couldn`t sit back and watch the United States Senate do nothing once again after our latest massacre.

He couldn`t take it. Not for another day, not for another hour. And at 11:20, not for another minute, and so he rose and he held the floor.

Now filibusters might not look like much to the outside world -- men in suits and ties, well-dressed women, standing at podiums talking endlessly.

But in the Senate, because filibusters are so rare and unprofessional in a way, that everyone in the Senate stares stunned usually back in their offices watching it on TV.

And it becomes the height of drama in the Senate. This collection of very conservative people stare amazed that one of them is doing something unpredictable, one of them is doing something disruptive to all of them.

One of them is rebelling against the way the Senate is doing its business. Everyone in the Senate watching begins with the same questions.

Why is he doing this? Who does he think he is? Everyone thinks it`s a waste of time. Everyone thinks it`s hopeless.

And that`s because it always has been, but not last night. Last night as Chris Murphy carried on past midnight 12 hours on the floor, everyone in the Senate knew that it was working.

The filibuster was working. Chris Murphy was doing what he had come to the floor to do, he was shaming the United States Senate.


MURPHY: The failure of this body to do anything, anything at all, in the face of that continued slaughter isn`t just painful to us.

It`s unconscionable.


O`DONNELL: As the day wore on yesterday, more and more Democrats came to the Senate floor to help Chris Murphy, to help Chris Murphy by making comments and asking him long questions that allowed Senator Murphy to rest his voice.

That`s playing within the rules of the filibuster. He can entertain questions and the longer the questions, the bigger favor you`re doing him by allowing him to rest a little bit.

Mitch McConnell realized as this went on that he had to do something. He was going to have to give Chris Murphy a vote.

Republican John Cornyn was dispatched to negotiate with Democrat Dianne Feinstein about a bill to prevent people on the terror watchlist from buying guns.

And while those negotiations were going on, Republican Senator Pat Toomey went to the Senate floor to support Chris Murphy and the crack in the Republican wall was now open.

Now you measure victories in Washington not by getting everything you want, that never happens.

I once heard the senator I used to work for tell a newcomer to Washington that if he was serious about making governing progress on the things he cared about, he was going to have to stay at this for 30 years.

Now, when you`ve learned to look at progress that way, 30-year curves, slow, inch by inch, hard won progress, what happened last night in the Senate was the stuff of real drama.

A junior senator stands and will not sit down until he moves the entire body and he wins. Is America safer today because of Chris Murphy`s win last night?

Not today, but America inched closer to being safer today. And we know where America would be if Chris Murphy did not stand up yesterday.

Think about that. Imagine Chris Murphy did not stand up, tonight America would be left with the worst feeling we can have as a country -- hopelessness.

Progress is no longer possible. We`d be left with the feeling that we can`t do the kinds of things that we used to do when the United States Senate worked as it was designed and the House of Representatives worked the way the founding fathers expected it to.

Hopelessness is never instantly replaced with a bright sunrise of hope. First, there is that tiny glimmer of hope that we can barely see through that wall of hopelessness.

And as the clock moved past 2:00 a.m. on the Senate floor, that glimmer was then bright enough for everyone in the Senate to see.

Chris Murphy took the Senate back to Sandy Hook Elementary School and told them the story of a teacher`s aide Anne Marie Murphy, who is not related to the senator, and a 6-year-old Dylan Hockley who were both murdered with an assault rifle in a place where they both mistakenly always felt safe.


MURPHY: When Adam Lanza walked into that classroom and aimed his military- style assault weapon with clips attached to it, holding 30 bullets, Anne Marie Murphy probably had a chance to run or to hide or to panic, and instead Anne Marie Murphy made the most courageous decision that any of us could imagine.

Instead of running, instead of hiding, instead of panicking, Anne Marie Murphy found Dylan Hockley and embraced him.

You know why we know that? Because when the police entered the classroom, that`s how they found Dylan Hockley dead -- wrapped in the embrace of Anne Marie Murphy.

It doesn`t take courage to stand here on the floor of the United States Senate for two hours or six hours or 14 hours.

You don`t need courage to stand up to the gun lobby when 90 percent of your constituents want change to happen.

It takes courage to look into the eye of a shooter, and instead of running, wrapping your arms around a 6-year-old boy and accepting death as a trade for just a tiny, little, itty piece of increased peace of mind for a little boy under your charge.

And so, this has been a day of questions, and so I ask you all this question. If Anne Marie Murphy could do that, then ask yourself what can you do to make sure that Orlando or Sandy Hook never, ever happens again.

With deep gratitude to all those who have endured this very late night, I yield the floor.


O`DONNELL: We`re joined now by David Corn; the Washington Bureau Chief for "Mother Jones" and an Msnbc political analyst and Matt Valentine, a journalist who has written on gun violence, policy for "The Atlantic" and "Salon" and "Politico".

David Corn, that final question that Chris Murphy asked the Senate, what can you do, when phrased in the context of what this heroic teacher`s aide did is simply the single best question and challenge I`ve ever heard put to the Senate.

DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, MOTHER JONES: Well, I`m -- you know, I get choked up listening to him, and I was fortunate enough to be able to talk to him a few minutes ago.

And he told me not a day goes by when he doesn`t think of Dylan Hockley. Now, usually when a senator tells you that, you don`t believe him, but I believed Senator Murphy when he told me that.

And you know, we have a lot of back and forth on the gun policy debate and there hasn`t been much progress in years.

And you see the frustration in the President when he`s come out time and time again after these horrific events and he`s pushed for legislation, has been shot down by Republicans, mainly Republicans in the house.

And the question is, I`d like to flip it a little bit to the Republicans and say, what have you done? If you don`t like these gun safety measures promoted, advocated by Senator Murphy, President Obama and other Democrats, show me one step you`ve taken to make an event like Orlando, Newtown, or anything like that a little less likely.

What have you done? And the real answer is nothing. They don`t -- and not that they don`t care. They don`t really see it as their mission to do anything legislatively that would increase safety when it comes to guns.

And there are a lot of different options other than the two measures that Senator Murphy is advocating for this week.

And there used to be Republicans who cared about gun policy matters and who worked with Democrats. There were still a handful left.

You saw Pat Toomey, but it is very -- I think discouraging and sad, even on a day of this partial victory that Republicans are so in hoc to the NRA, the gun lobby and more importantly, to a small slice of their base that really does cling to their guns.

That they can`t take any steps forward or be imaginative and think about doing things differently.

O`DONNELL: Matt Valentine, one of the issues being negotiated is if someone is on the terror watchlist unjustifiably, what is the procedure for getting them off the terror watchlist and then able to buy a gun.

The Democrats have proposed one procedure through the Justice Department, some Republicans say it should be better handled by a judge.

What do you make of these distinctions?

MATTHEW VALENTINE, JOURNALIST: Well, the distinction between those two processes for, you know, giving someone due process are a little bit putting the cart before the horse at this point.

Because we`re looking at a situation right now where not only was Omar Mateen able to purchase a semi-automatic rifle with high capacity magazines.

He wasn`t -- he wasn`t only able to purchase that rifle, but he was licensed by the state of Florida to carry a concealed gun. The system is a lot more broken than just the question of access to buy.

We`re seeing a permissiveness that is really revealing a vulnerability on these sort of national security issues of radicalized people that can not only just -- not only acquire a gun easily, but actually be licensed by the state to carry that gun anywhere at any time.

O`DONNELL: And David Corn, it seems like the first place you`d go in -- after 9/11 would be the first place you`d go in terms of defense against domestic terrorism.

CORN: It seems. I mean, if we`re -- if we`re moving to a new form of terrorism, lone wolf terrorists, inspired terrorists who don`t have the grand mission of bringing down skyscrapers.

But want to commit terror in neighborhoods, you know, with just sole individuals, it`s incredibly, unfortunately easy to do that in our open society, particularly when there is open access to guns that are -- you know, that have these tremendous capacities.

It`s -- you know, there`s a reason why the AR-15 has largely been the gun of choice for terrorists who want to do these acts.

It`s not every terrorist action that does this, but you know, if we`re not going to be -- if we`re serious about protecting your citizens, we have to look at the guns that are being used.

O`DONNELL: We`re going to have to leave it there for tonight, David Corn and Matt Valentine, thank you both for joining us, really appreciate it.

CORN: Sure, thanks.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Republicans against Donald Trump including one Republican who is opposed to both Donald Trump and Chris Christie and she used to have Chris Christie`s job.

Also coming up later, we are going to be going to the -- well, we don`t have it -- oh, yes, John McCain, the John McCain thing.

Wait until you see this. John McCain is now the latest victim of Trumpism. He is infected with it. He is saying things as wildly crazy as Donald Trump.


O`DONNELL: It was another day of Republicans mud wrestling with Donald Trump today, and it looks like Paul Ryan is really getting tired of this.

That`s next.



TRUMP: You know, it started, believe it or not, right? June 16th, one year, that escalator, this is the one year anniversary and we`re going to make it hopefully, we`re going to make it a worthwhile year.

They`re all talking about we`ve created a movement. Somebody said, doesn`t make any difference how Donald Trump does from now on because what he`s done has never been done before.


O`DONNELL: So, how has your year been? The year of Donald Trump, that`s right. We`ve just lived through a year of Donald Trump, the candidate.

There he was speaking tonight in Texas. Seems the candidate has been spending more and more time these days taking on Republicans.

I mean, nonstop taking on Republicans instead of Hillary Clinton, who he is supposed to be running against. House Speaker Paul Ryan continues to struggle every day with the latest nutty thing that Donald Trump has said.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Trump yesterday said this addressing congressional leaders like yourself -- be quiet and just please be quiet, don`t talk.

What is your reaction to that and is this -- how do you have any confidence that this is a guy who is going to have respect for separation of power?

RYAN: I -- you know, you can`t make this up sometimes. I`ll just say we represent a separate but equal branch of government.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, David French, writer for the "National Review" and Rick Wilson, contributor of the website "Heat Street" and a veteran of four presidential campaigns including the Bush for President 2000 campaign.

Rick Wilson, there`s just -- this plane is not flying any smoother than it ever was. I mean, this thing about -- oh, there`s going to be a new Donald Trump.

People have -- I mean, everyone has given up on that, right? I mean, outside the Trump campaign and Republican politics, Dave, everybody knows there`s never going to be a new Trump.

RICK WILSON, CONTRIBUTOR, HEAT STREET: No, there is no better version of Donald Trump. There is no presidential version --


WILSON: Of Donald Trump. The Trump plane isn`t leveling out, it`s flying into the ditch with the throttle`s fire world.

It`s absolutely a train wreck and they all know it. And the members of Congress who are having to defend him everyday are so -- they`re increasingly uncomfortable, they know there`s going to be a break point soon.

Because as his poll numbers go down, his crazy goes up.

O`DONNELL: Let`s take a look at what John Kasich said this morning on "MORNING JOE".


GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: Donald Trump called me, he said, you know, can you support me? I said, well, we`re like two companies.

We have different values, different visions, kind of hard to put that together --


KASICH: Either there`s going to be dramatic change or I can`t find my way there.


O`DONNELL: David French, it seems like there may be plenty of Republicans out there who envy John Kasich in that he did not endorse Donald Trump, he didn`t rush to do that.

And so, John Kasich then got to see Trump make all sorts of mistakes in the weeks since John Kasich hasn`t endorsed him.

And the Kasich position must be looking pretty good to some of those guys who are stuck with the endorsement.

DAVID FRENCH, NATIONAL REVIEW: Of course, it`s looking good. Look, the Republican office holders who rushed to endorse him in that tiny blip of time when he was within striking distance of Hillary Clinton, they have to be regretting that right now.

What a foolish and short-sighted move, and they`re good men who did this, good women who did this. And -- but I`ll tell you what?

A good man and Donald Trump is like oil and water, it will not last, they will separate. And so, you see the anguish with Paul Ryan, it`s written all over his face.

This can`t last. Donald Trump is going to continue to be Donald Trump and so long as Paul Ryan continues to be the Paul Ryan that many of us have respected for a long time, a break is going to have to happen here.

O`DONNELL: Rick Wilson, just as a -- as a professional Republican strategist, what would you say is the best way for Paul Ryan to handle this situation for both his future as a speaker of the house and his future as a potential presidential candidate?

WILSON: He needs to tear the band-aid off, and he needs to do it soon. He needs to say, look, I gave him every chance in the world.

I worked with him, I counseled him, I begged him to accept good solid advice --

O`DONNELL: But Rick, let me -- let me stop you here for a second --

WILSON: We tried to educate him on what the conservative movement is --

O`DONNELL: Why is that good strategically for Paul Ryan? What`s the benefit he gets from doing that?

WILSON: Look, if he rides this plane down into the explosion, he is going to be marked forever. There is a narrow window where they can say, "Wow, I really thought he would improve. I thought he would do better. I thought he would change and he did not. He is never going to change. He is not capable of it mentally. And I made a wrong decision."

It is better to take the hit for saying, "I made the wrong decision" and tear the band-aid off and get it over with than to try to be marked by this guy all the way down to the election, where Trump is probably going to lose in a spectacular Mondalesque way.

O`DONNELL: And, David French, in the old days, let us just say, prior to Trump, prior to one year ago, which seem like distant old days, when you had a troublesome --



O`DONNELL: Yes, exactly. When you had a troublesome person at the top of the ticket for some people, let us say a liberal at the top of a democratic ticket could be difficult for the democrat running in Georgia, the idea always was, "Look, run as far away from the person at the top of the ticket as you have to, to get elected, say as little about that person as possible." Why is not that good enough in this situation?

FRENCH: Well, you know, to borrow a phrase, I mean, politicians in the past have been wrong, but to borrow P.J. O`Rourke`s phrase, they have been wrong within normal parameters.



FRENCH: Donald Trump is wrong way outside the normal parameters. So you have republican office holders in the position of saying essentially this, "Yes, I am aware that Donald Trump is racist. Vote for him anyway. That is an untenable position. You cannot make that position morally to the American people. That is why this is different.

O`DONNELL: Rick Wilson, thanks for joining us. And David French, welcome to the program for the first time and thank you for joining us. Really appreciate it.

FRENCH: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

WILSON: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, let us say you are a reasonable republican and let us say you used to be governor of New Jersey. What are you thinking these days about Chris Christie and Donald Trump? We are going to find out next from former Governor Christine Todd Whitman.



O`DONNELL: Tonight, Bernie Sanders spoke to over 200,000 supporters in a video live streamed from Burlington, Vermont.


BERNIE SANDERS, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This campaign is also about defeating Donald Trump, but the defeating Donald Trump cannot be our only goal. We must continue our grass roots effort to create the America that we know we can become. And we must take that energy into the democratic national convention on July 25th in Philadelphia, where we will have more than 1900 delegates.


O`DONNELL: Up next, a republican who will never vote for Donald Trump and is not too happy about Chris Christie, former New Jersey Governor, Christine Todd Whitman will join us.




HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it is appropriate for us not to consider ourselves on the republican team or the democratic team, the red team or the blue team, but to be on the American team.

And I have to ask, will responsible republican leaders stand up to their presumptive nominee? Now, I am sure they would rather avoid that question all together, but history will remember what we do in this moment.


O`DONNELL: We are joined now by Christine Todd Whitman, former Republican Governor of New Jersey, also a former EPA Administrator. Governor, what is your reaction to what Hillary Clinton just said?

CHRISTINE TODD WHITMAN, (R-NJ) FMR. GOVERNOR: Well, I agree with her in a sense. I have been saying for a while there is a time you put your country ahead of your partisanship, and I do think this is a time.

O`DONNELL: Donald Trump has a message for you republican leaders who agree with Hillary Clinton on that point. Let us listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our leaders have to get a lot tougher and be quiet. Just please be quiet. Do not talk. Please be quiet. Just be quiet. You are the leaders. Because they have to get tougher. They have to get sharper. They have to get smarter. We have to have our republicans either stick together or let me just do it by myself. I will do very well. I am going to do very well.


O`DONNELL: Donald Trump wants you to be quiet.


WHITMAN: No chance. No chance. I mean, I am too worried about what this campaign is doing to the country, what his rhetoric is, how he would I believe make us a whole lot more vulnerable to terrorists by some of his language, some of his rhetoric talking about, we are going to bomb the families of terrorists, that we are going to ban all Muslims.

It drives people into their camp. It is going to make it more difficult for us to protect ourselves, never mind he wants to start a trade war, which is not going to be good for our economy. He is terrible on the environment for the most part. I just think it is going to be a bad campaign. I think he is a wrong person to be president. He, certainly, does not represent the party in which I grew up.

O`DONNELL: Speaking of republican leaders, one of the governors who has followed you, Governor Chris Christie -- let us listen to what he had to say on the radio about what happened in Orlando.


CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R-NJ) GOVERNOR: It is unacceptable to allow this kind of stuff in our country and for us not to fight back and we need to fight back. And that is all these people understand.

CRAIG CARTON, RADIO HOST: And how do you fight back?

CHRISYIE: You have got to get over there and you have got to start making them pay where they live. It is an ugly, difficult thing, but if we do not get over there, they are coming here and they showed it again this weekend.


O`DONNELL: Your reaction to Governor Christie.

WHITMAN: Well, first of all, I think we are over there. Some people would say we have been over there far too long and we are doing a lot of bombing. We have taken out a lot ISIS and ISIL leaders, so we are participating there. And to say that what happened in Orlando can be traced back there.


WHITMAN: You know, I think we have to be a little careful of that, because he also said in that interview you have got to bomb them. Who do you bomb? This was someone whose family has been here for 30 years. It was a terrorist act because of what happened, but I think it reflecting more on the fact that he was probably gay Muslim.

And it is against the Muslim religion and he could not handle it and he took it out on everybody. That is not to say he did not think that this approach was OK because of what he had seen on the internet.

But when you have someone who says they are attached to ISIS and Hezbollah, which are two groups that are one Sunni and Shia, they do not get along at all, tells me that they are not really being influenced or putting something together because they are being told to by an outside group.

So I do not disagree that we have got to do something, but we are doing it. We are doing it every day. Can we do more? We got to learn from each one of these attacks. What did we miss? What could we do better? But how far are we willing to go to give up our personal freedoms in order to ensure that we are safe?

I mean, frankly, I would do a little bit more with guns and automatic weapons in the hands of people than decide we are going to bomb when you do not know who you are going to bomb.

O`DONNELL: IARE you in the never Trump camp?


O`DONNELL: So does that mean if you have a ballot with Donald Trump`s name on and Hillary Clinton`s name on it, how do you vote?

WHITMAN: I could write in.


WHITMAN: If I so choose, but I am going to watch this campaign very carefully to see how Hillary Clinton developed somewhat, she says.

O`DONNELL: And in the meantime, what about Gary Johnson, the libertarian candidate as the possible alternative for republicans who do not want to vote for Trump.

WHITMAN: I love Gary Johnson. I served with him as a governor, but I do not see him as a president. He would be very good in a lot of roles, but not in that one.

O`DONNELL: Is there any other third-party option developing? Have republicans given up on that at this point?

WHITMAN: No. There is an organizational section in the republican. It is bipartisan called a Better America. And that is moving forward to try to obtain places on the ballots and enough states to have 270 electoral votes, which is what you need to be elected president and then determine a candidate, but it is both republicans and democrats.

I mean, do not forget, we have two presidential candidates; one for each party, whose negative rates are extremely high. We have just never seen this before. It is a substance choice for many people.

O`DONNELL: And are there any last-minute strategies being discussed now about what might be doable at the convention to stop a Trump nomination?

WHITMAN: I understand there is some talk about whether or not the convention rules would allow delegates to abstain on the first ballot, so that even if they are required on the first ballot to vote for the person who won their states primary, if they abstain, they could be free on the second ballot. I think that is going to be a difficult lift because clearly Donald Trump has won the republican nomination. To deny that, I think, is going to be very difficult.

O`DONNELL: Former New Jersey Governor, Republican Christine Todd Whitman, in the never Trump camp. Thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

WHITMAN: My pleasure.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Coming up, is John McCain losing it as he approaches his 80th birthday or is he just pandering to Trump voters in Arizona to win the election. I am going to bet on pandering. That is coming up.



O`DONNELL: The CIA director issued a new warning over the threat from ISIS today. NBCs Richard Engel has the story.


RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT, ISTANBUL TURKEY (voice-over): ISIS is bigger and more widespread than al-Qaeda ever was and is not getting weaker, according to an specially sober CIA assessment today.


JOHN BRENNAN, CIA DIRECTOR: Our efforts have not reduced the group`s terrorism ability and global overreach.


ENGEL: The CIA director also warned ISIS is now trying to stage its fighters into position for more violence.


BRENNAN: ISIL is training and attempting to deploy operatives for further attacks.


ENGEL: Militants may already be on the move. A senior U.S. counterterrorism official told NBC News that more than 30 ISIS fighters have been dispatched from Syria to Turkey, site of previous attacks and also the main gateway for ISIS fighters to and from the west.

After the Orlando massacre, President Obama told the American people gains against ISIS are coming through an intensive air campaign and more American Special Forces in Iraq and Syria.


PRES. BARACK OBAMA, (D) U.S. PRESIDENT: This continues to be a difficult fight, but we are making significant progress.


ENGEL: While the CIA director today also spoke of progress. He said so far there has not been enough of it to make ISIS any less dangerous.



ENGEL (on camera): Why the increased concern now? It appears ISIS wants to make a big splash during the Muslim month of Ramadan, which lasts until early July. The group has specifically called on its supporters to carry out attacks in their home countries. Since then, there has been Orlando and a murders of a police officer and his wife in France.


O`DONNELL: Richard Engel, thanks.

Coming up, John McCain has not only endorsed Donald Trump. He is starting to sound like him. He said that President Obama is directly responsible for the Orlando massacre. And the funny thing is by following John McCain is own twisted logic, John McCain is directly responsible for the Orlando massacre.



O`DONNELL: Trumpism has now infected John McCain. Trumpism includes saying all sorts of outright lies and insane fabrications. A 79-year-old John McCain plans to stay in his 80s in the United States senate, and in order to do that he has to appeal to Trump voters in Arizona. And so John McCain said this about the attack in Orlando.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: Barack Obama is directly responsible for it, because when you pull everybody out of Iraq, al-Qaeda went to Syria, became ISIS, and ISIS is what it is today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER: Directly responsible?

MCCAIN: Directly responsible because he pulled everybody out of Iraq and I predicted at the time that ISIS would go unchecked and there could be attacks on the United States of America. It is a matter of record. So he is directly responsible.


O`DONNELL: Of course, the logic of that makes John McCain directly responsible because he advocated the war that put troops in Iraq in the first place and destabilized the entire region to put it mildly, destabilized to the point, where it would fall prey to something like the Islamic state. NBC`s Hallie Jackson caught up with John McCain in the hallway to see if he really meant what he said.


MCCAIN: I believe that the fact what I said and what I meant was that the president`s actions by pulling everybody out of Iraq, which led then to al- Qaeda moving to Syria, which meant the birth of ISIS and the president`s failure to address the threat of ISIS has led to attacks on the United States of America. So, he bears responsibility.


MCCAIN: You want to be clear --

JACKSON: Are you backtracking on the statement that he is directly responsible --

MCCAIN: I am not backtracking on anything. I am saying that the president of the United States` actions were responsible.


O`DONNELL: And then of course he backtracked. That is what Twitter is for. The senator`s staff seeing that he had gone way too far, pulled him back from sounding like Donald Trump by issuing this tweet.

"I misspoke. I did not mean to imply that the president was personally responsible. I was referring to President Obama`s national security decisions, not the president, himself."

Joining us now, Charlie Pierce, Writer at Large for "Esquire." And I am not referring to Charlie Pierce, himself. It is quite an elocution that John McCain came up with today, Charlie, but it does seem like this is just kind of desperate Trumpism in someone who is running in Arizona.

CHARLIE PIERCE, WRITER-AT-LARGE, ESQUIRE: Yes. I mean, first of all, are we speaking directly or personally because it makes all the difference in the world?

O`DONNELL: We are going to have to ask John McCain. We will get his read of this.

PIERCE: But in any event, he seems to be turning into his running mate from 2008.


PIERCE: That was the first thing I thought. I did not even think of Donald Trump. I thought of the woman he plucked from obscurity to pull one heartbeat away from the nuclear codes. Yes, he appears to be in terrific trouble in his re-election bid not only in a primary, but also his presumptive democratic -- I think you are looking at another build a dang fence moment.

O`DONNELL: Yes. And things were bad for the reputation of John McCain before this today. I am thinking back to Tom Friedman, a couple of columns ago, June 7th in "The New York Times," where he wrote. This shocked me when I read this from him in his column.

Talking about John McCain, he addressed him directly in the column, saying, "You did not break under torture from the North Vietnamese, but your hunger for re-election is so great that you do not dare raise your voice against Trump." And his next line was, "I hope you lose." I mean from Tom Friedman of "The New York Times" over to John McCain, that is about as rough as it gets.

PIERCE: Yes. That is some change music by Tom Friedman standards for sure. There is heroism in war and there is heroism in politics. And sometimes, one does not necessarily lead to another. I think in the long view of history, the worst thing that John McCain ever did was run for president in 200, because he had to walk back everything that made him an interesting politician in 2000.

He had to go down. In 2000, he called Jerry Falwell at all agents of intolerance. Then he had to go down there and give a speech at Jerry Falwell`s university if he wanted the nomination.

And we have seen this process over and over and over again. And to be perfectly honest with you, in his political life, it seems like the best way to get on John McCain`s good side is to say something terrible about him.


O`DONNELL: Charlie Pierce, that is going to have to be tonight`s "Last Word." Really appreciate. Good night, Charlie. Thank you.

PIERCE: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: And Joy Reid is substituting for Chris Hayes. That is next.