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The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 7/5/2016

Guests: Benjamin Wittes, David Corn, Jonathan Allen, Jeffrey Pollock, Hari Sevugan, Charlie Sykes, Dana Schwartz

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: July 5, 2016 Guest: Benjamin Wittes, David Corn, Jonathan Allen, Jeffrey Pollock, Hari Sevugan, Charlie Sykes, Dana Schwartz

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

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Hey, Steve, thank you very much.


O`DONNELL: President Obama hit the campaign trail today with Hillary Clinton, but the most important help that Hillary Clinton got today actually was from Bill Clinton, and it was something he did 15 years ago.


JAMES COMEY, DIRECTOR, FBI: There is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: We`re not going to press charges, it`s really amazing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: House Speaker Paul Ryan said in part that the FBI`s announcement "defies explanation".

PAUL RYAN: And people have been convicted for far less.

TRUMP: Crooked Hillary Clinton, her judgment is horrible.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The other side has got nothing to offer you.

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: The story of America is a story of hard fought, hard won progress.


OBAMA: Are you fired up?!


CLINTON: We are fired up!

OBAMA: Hillary got me fired up.


AUDIENCE: Hillary --

OBAMA: Ready to go --

CLINTON: I`m ready to go, ready to win this election.

OBAMA: I`m here today because I believe in Hillary Clinton.


TRUMP: We have a president who is out campaigning for crooked Hillary Clinton.

OBAMA: Hillary!


O`DONNELL: And so, the Clinton campaign was saved today by President Bill Clinton. Now, this is not the conspiracy theory version that you can hear from Donald Trump.


TRUMP: From Bill Clinton going to the plane, just happened to be there, just happened to be there.


I wonder how long he waited, but for Bill Clinton to go to the plane and then to have what happened today, it turned out that we`re not going to press charges. It`s really amazing.


O`DONNELL: No one should fall for the Trump conspiracy theory that Bill Clinton`s meeting with the Attorney General last week in an Arizona airport meant that the fix was in to not charge Hillary Clinton with a crime over her use of e-mail at the State Department.

Especially when the Attorney General made it clear that she was going to accept the recommendations of the FBI.

Bill Clinton saved the Clinton campaign today by a legal precedent that President Clinton helped establish on his last day in the presidency.

Now the FBI director mentioned Bill Clinton today, he didn`t -- I mean, he did not mention Bill Clinton today, but he did say this.


COMEY: In looking back at our investigations into the mishandling or removal of classified information, we cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts.

All the cases prosecuted involved some combination of clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information.

Or vast quantities of information exposed in such a way as foreign inference of intentional misconduct, or indications of disloyalty to the United States or efforts to obstruct justice.

We do not see those things here.


O`DONNELL: So, the FBI director said today that he was not recommending prosecution because there is just no precedent for it in a case like this, none, not one.

But there would have been -- there would have been exactly one precedent for a prosecution like this, but Bill Clinton eliminated the possibility of that precedent on his very last day in the White House fifteen and a half years ago.

There was, of course, no way for the Clintons to know that what he did that day would preserve the possibility of another Clinton presidency.

In fact, what Bill Clinton did that day was the most seriously scandalous moment of his presidency. I say seriously scandalous because it actually involved his official conduct as president.

Of course, sex with an intern and perjury about sex with an intern were scandalous, but it`s hard to find anything serious in that scandal.

Anything that says, this is why that guy shouldn`t be president or as house Republican saw it at that time, this is why the president must be impeached and removed from office.

What Bill Clinton did in his last day in office was considered scandalous by Democrats and Republicans.

And virtually a 100 percent of the political news media because what he did involved his official duties, and more importantly, it involved the president`s most sacred power.

His only power that cannot be overruled legislatively by the Congress or overruled by the Supreme Court.

It is the president`s one absolute power granted to him in the constitution, the power to pardon. It`s hard, if not impossible for the outgoing president to compete with the incoming president for headlines the day after inauguration.

But Bill Clinton managed to do it in January of 2001 by issuing 140 pardons on his last morning in the White House.

Some of them were good pardons, some of them were bad pardons and some of them were very bad pardons. He pardoned his brother Roger who had pleaded guilty to distributing cocaine in Arkansas.

He pardoned clients of Hillary Clinton`s brother Attorney Hugh Rodham who was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for his services in securing those pardons.

He pardoned financier, fugitive financier Marc Rich who was then hiding out in Switzerland. Marc Richards former wife Denis Rich had grown close to the Clintons the easy way by making big donations to the Clinton campaign in the Democratic Party.

But it turns out the most important pardon Bill Clinton issued on his last day in the White House was for John Deutch.

The same John Deutch who Bill Clinton appointed director of the CIA five years earlier. After John Deutch left the CIA, investigators discovered that his home computer and laptop contained classified material.

No one was quite sure what to make of that at the time. It didn`t seem like a big deal to me at that time, which was a long time ago.

John Deutch was probably the first CIA director ever to send or receive an e-mail. It was the dawn of e-mail use in government in the mid 1990s.

In one report on the case, the "Washington Post" described John Deutch`s problem as "keeping secrets on his unsecured home computers which were linked to the internet."

"Which were linked to the internet". Most home computers were not even linked to the internet back then, that`s how long ago this was. The John Deutch pardon was not universally regarded as one of the scandalous pardons.

John Deutch was an MIT chemistry professor who had served in government in many capacities over the years and was generally regarded as a well- intentioned good guy.

It appeared that he had hit a trip wire that no one realized was there legally, what does the age of the home computer mean to the proper custody of classified material?

And so, it was easy to feel sorry for John Deutch at the time when most of us had never given a thought to those issues, the issues involving e-mail that got him into legal trouble.

And he most definitely was in legal trouble. Four days after President Clinton pardoned John Deutch, the "Washington Post" reported that the day before the pardon was issued, John Deutch had agreed to plead guilty to the misdemeanor of mishandled government secrets.

But because the president had pardoned John Deutch, the Justice Department had to drop the case immediately.

That is how close John Deutch came to being prosecuted. One day -- actually, it was less than a day, it was really a matter of hours, inauguration day was on a Saturday that year.

Bill Clinton`s pardons were issued on that Saturday morning. The "Washington Post" reported that John Deutch actually signed a plea bargain agreement Friday afternoon, but it was too late to get it filed in federal court that day.

If John Deutch had just signed that plea bargain agreement an hour earlier, maybe a couple of hours earlier, it would have been filed in court and a CIA director would have been beneficially charged with mishandling government secrets.

And today, the FBI director would not have been able to say that there was no precedent for prosecution in a case like this.

The Clinton pardon scandal ruined Hillary Clinton`s first days as United States senator for weeks. The only thing that reporters wanted to talk with New York`s junior senator about, were the pardons that her husband issued and the pardons that her brother helped secure.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just tell us about what took place in that White House and disappearance that perhaps, you know, there`s some (INAUDIBLE).

CLINTON: Well, there`s no connection whatsoever. The White House years, the administration of my husband are over and I`m going to be focused solely on the job that I can do to help New York.


O`DONNELL: No one was asking her about the pardon of John Deutch. All the questions were about the pardons her brother worked on, and the pardon of the infamous fugitive from justice Marc Rich whose pardon had the appearance of possibly being bought and paid for with campaign contributions.

The Clinton pardon scandals is one of Washington`s forgotten scandals. The Clintons have done a very good job of putting it behind them.

And although it is not one they claim -- it`s not one that they can claim as an invention of right-wing opponents.

You will certainly be getting more reminders of it in the Trump campaign attack ads if the poverty-stricken Trump campaign can ever afford TV advertising.

Those 140 pardons that Bill Clinton gave, those 140 pardons gave Hillary Clinton a very rough start with the news media as a freshman senator.

But one of those pardons may have saved her today from facing the same charge John Deutch was willing to plead guilty to.


COMEY: In looking back at our investigations into the mishandling or removal of classified information, we cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts.


O`DONNELL: What if there was one, what if there was one case if the John Deutch plea bargain had been filed that Friday afternoon before inauguration day in 2001.

Then today, the FBI director would have had to say we can find only one case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts, and then what?

Would history have taken a big turn today? Would Hillary Clinton have faced a federal misdemeanor charge on handling classified information?

Which she then have dropped in the polls with more voters turned to the most incompetent, dishonest presidential candidate in history and deliver us a Trump presidency? We`ll never know.

History did not take that big turn today. Hillary Clinton stayed on track for the Democratic presidential nomination, and with President Obama at her side in the campaign trail and a small lead in the polls, she may well be on track to making history the way she wants to make history as the next president of the United States.

And that may now be thanks to the day that the Clintons have wanted us all to forget and most of America and most of the news media has forgotten, pardon day. That last day.

Those last hours in the White House when Bill Clinton used his absolute power to pardon for some of the most scandalous pardons in modern presidential history, as well as a pardon that seemed to many reasonable and understandable at the time.

The pardon of an apparently dedicated and will-intentioned man who made a mistake, the pardon of John Deutch. The pardon that may have saved the Clinton campaign today.

Joining us now, Benjamin Wittes, Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, editor-in-chief of law firm. And David Corn, Washington Bureau chief for "Mother Jones" and an Msnbc political analyst.

Ben, there`s a lot of comparisons people have been drawing to the David Patraeus case, and I think it`s very clear what the differences are there.

David Petraeus was very conscious of the stuff that he was handing over to a woman he was involved with romantically who was writing a book.

And they even have tape, audiotape of them talking about this. But this John Deutch case seems to be the closest thing to a precedent for what Hillary Clinton seems to have been involved in.

John Deutch, in his mind, innocently having this stuff at home and going right up to the brink of prosecution saved only by that pardon.

BENJAMIN WITTES, JOURNALIST & SENIOR FELLOW IN GOVERNANCE STUDIES, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: So, I -- it has been a long time since I`ve had cause to look at the John Deutch case.

And I think because, as you point out, he was pardoned actually before the allegations were really filed against him.

I don`t think we know precisely what the allegations the Justice Department and the FBI were prepared to make against him.

So, I`m not sure whether it would have been, as you say, quite as -- quite the precedent that you describe it as.

That said, I think Director Comey is clearly correct that there isn`t a history of prosecuting, whether that case would have been such a history.

There isn`t a history of prosecuting people who merely mishandle classified information as opposed who steal it, as opposed to who leak it, give it to foreign governments or sort of do something malicious or obstruct investigations into what happened to it.

And so, I think, you know, it is -- it is true that the language of the law is a little bit -- is a bit more capacious than the history of the -- of prosecutions would suggest.

But I think Director Comey is correctly describing a degree of restraint in federal practice that indicting Hillary Clinton under these facts would have been a departure from.

That said, the allegations that he made against her today and in his findings are, I think, politically extremely damaging.

And, you know, and I think he`s given -- he`s made a series of findings that will constitute a set of Republican talking points from now until election day.

And I`ve got to say that`s kind of an unforced error on her part as David Corn wrote today, I think, you know, she kind of earned that one.

O`DONNELL: David Corn, Director Comey did say that one of the things that they investigated was the misdemeanor of knowingly -- I`m quoting him now, "the misdemeanor of knowingly removing classified information from appropriate systems in storage facilities.

He mentioned that as the final item in what they investigated, and then he never mentioned that again. But that is exactly what the "Washington Post" reported at the time.

John Deutch had signed a plea agreement for it, that misdemeanor, that particular misdemeanor --


O`DONNELL: And were it not for the pardon, there would have been that precedent sitting there today in that one case over that misdemeanor.

CORN: Perhaps, I do think there may be -- and Ben is a better expert on this than I am, an apples-orange distinction here.

When you work in the government, particularly any intelligence agencies and we handle classified information, you`re often briefed again and again and again on the proper handling of classified information.

Whether you have one computer, two computers, there are spot checks, and whether you take stuff out or whether you leave it on your desk, put it in your -- in the safe at night.

And you`re told basically what the protocols are, and if you violate that, then you can be in trouble. And I`m guessing that`s what kind of happened in the Deutch case, although we don`t have the details, it`s just a guess.

But the problem here with the Hillary Clinton case is that they just kind of went off the reservation. They went off book.

And they were, you know, permitted in a way to do that, but also violated guidelines and regulations, it`s not laws.

So, the whole enterprise was in a way, at least against the philosophy and the protocols and the -- you know, and the regiments of people who are suppose to follow.

But she says that she got permission to do it this way. So, then investigating that on whether there was a violation, it seems to me to be investigating someone speaking in a different language for a violation of grammar.

And she was just -- literally, in a different world in terms of their handling of information.

And I think that was probably very perplexing to the legal experts at the FBI who had a look at the facts that they established and the precedent of prosecutions in the past and come up with some determination.

I mean, it was wrong for her to do this at the beginning, but as we know in Washington, not everything wrong is illegal.

O`DONNELL: Well, Ben, the Inspector General, which referred this case to the FBI for their section of the investigation.

Inspector General`s own investigation was exclusively about the Federal Records Act, and bureaucratically how do they comply with the Federal Records Act.

And the Inspector General said very specifically that they were in violation of the Federal Records Act. And -- but there are no post employment criminal remedies for that.

All the remedies, all the penalties as it were for violating that are on the job penalties, you know, you could get disciplined on the job, suspend it, something like that in some sort of way.

And so, that`s the part that people always lose the distinction of their -- there are two components of this.

Federal Records Act Inspector General dealt with and then this classified material was exclusively the jurisdiction of the FBI.

WITTES: Correct. So, look, think about it this way. One is, did this comply with State Department rules?

Hillary Clinton says she followed the rules, they were -- they didn`t require her to not have a server so she did.

Everybody else seems to say, who`s looked at, you know, the law and that carefully seems to say she didn`t really ask whether it followed the rules and if she had asked she would have been told no.

She -- I`m fairly confident has the losing side of that argument, but that is not a criminal statute, and it`s not something that`s going to cause her serious legal problems as opposed to political problems now.

The FBI matter was much more serious because the classified information laws are criminal statutes, and she seems to have dodged the bullet here, I think correctly.

But there`s going to be some political damage for this. I think Donald Trump will be talking about this until November.

O`DONNELL: Yes, he will, Ben Wittes, thank you very much for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.

WITTES: Thanks for having me.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, an employee and a newspaper here in New York which is owned by Donald Trump`s son-in-law wrote an open letter to her boss, Donald Trump`s son-in-law, it was a very brave moment that you don`t see very much of in journalism.

She will join us, Dana Schwartz will join us coming up.


O`DONNELL: I didn`t thank David Corn at the end of the last segment because I thought he was staying for the next segment, it turns out he`s not.

So, thank you David Corn wherever you are and whatever car you`re in, going wherever you`re going. Coming up, Dana Schwartz, she did a very brave thing today.

She confronted her boss about Donald Trump, her boss happens to be Donald Trump`s son-in-law. It`s coming up.



COMEY: I have not coordinated this statement or reviewed it in any way with the Department of Justice or any other part of the government, they do not know what I`m about to say.


O`DONNELL: That was certainly one of the most dramatic and suspenseful moments of this presidential campaign, but nothing the FBI director says is going to stop the conspiracy theorist.


TRUMP: Hillary said today, at least according to what I saw on television which you can`t always believe. I actually found it hard to believe she`d say this.

But she said today that we may consider the Attorney General to go forward, that`s like a bribe, isn`t it?

I mean, the Attorney General sitting there, saying, you know, if I get Hillary off the hook, I`m going to have four more years or eight more years.

But if she loses, I`m out of a job, it`s a bribe. It`s a disgrace. It`s a disgrace. She is laughing at the stupidity of our system. She is laughing and so is her husband, Bill.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Jonathan Allen, co-author of "HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton".

Also writing a fourth coming book on the 2016 presidential campaign -- Jonathan, what a fun book that`s going to be.


So, Hillary Clinton at least, she has the punctuation mark. It`s over, the FBI is not going to speak again, Donald Trump, apparently will never stop speaking about it.

JONATHAN ALLEN, AUTHOR: That`s right, they`ll talk about it throughout the campaign. Jim Comey gave him plenty of ammunition, that 30,000 foot though is, that it`s good for Hillary Clinton that she`s not being prosecuted.

There are already made Republican ads, but I kind of think at some level she`s laughing at Donald Trump a little bit.

She knows that these conspiracy theories have a tendency to make him sound a little crazy. And when he`s going after the decision of Jim Comey, the FBI director, not to recommend prosecution.

She`s going -- he`s going after somebody who donated money to Mitt Romney, who donated money to John McCain.

Who is well regarded on both sides of the aisle in Washington D.C., and basically saying that he`s part of a corruption scheme that includes him, that includes the President, that includes Loretta Lynch, the Attorney General.

That includes both Clintons. I mean, at some point it`s pretty ridiculous. And so, when you hear things like Hillary Clinton, and I thought the same thing at some level that Trump did when I first heard it.

She`s talking about how Loretta Lynch may continue to have a job in the next administration. That sounds terrible at this moment to be saying that.

And then I thought to myself, well, Donald Trump is going to go off on them, it`s a total rabbit hole for him.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to some of the things Hillary Clinton said about her e-mail versus some of the things James Comey said today.


CLINTON: Nothing I sent was marked "classified" or that I received was marked "classified".

COMEY: From the group of 30,000 e-mails returned to the State Department in 2014, 110 e-mails in 52-e-mail chains have been determined by the owning agency to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received.

CLINTON: We turned over everything that was work-related, every single thing.

COMEY: The FBI also discovered several thousand work-related e-mails that were not among the group of 30,000 e-mails returned by Secretary Clinton to state in 2014.

CLINTON: I take classified information seriously.

COMEY: Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information.

There is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.


O`DONNELL: Jonathan, within the Clinton campaign, how was the stock price of that staff members at the State Department who the FBI today called "extremely careless".

You have Cheryl Mills, you have Huma Abedin, these people who were involved in this ongoing e-mail situation.

ALLEN: Well, in the -- in the intense loyalty world of Hillary land, I think their stock is at least as high as it was before, if not higher. That the value placed on loyalty is so incredible high --

O`DONNELL: Well, but wait a minute, Jonathan, this is the staff that never said to the Secretary of State, we can`t do this, this violates the Federal Records Act, this could trigger an FBI investigation.

The staff is supposed to anticipate exactly those negative possibilities.

ALLEN: And look, this is a huge problem, I agree with you, Lawrence. The e-mail scandal in and of itself, if you look at the incredible audacity of creating the system outside the government system of continuing to have an operative, having none of these staffers question her on it.

The sycophantry involved in that, to not say, wait a second, this isn`t what you`re supposed to be doing, or in some cases perhaps having helped her set up the system in the first place.

All of that is what one would look at about the Clinton operation and say this is a problem, right? This is a problem for the way that she conducts her operation.

And so, I agree with you on that, it`s a terrible situation.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan Allen, thank you very much for joining us tonight, I appreciate it.

ALLEN: Take care, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Up next, in the war room, Hillary Clinton`s new big campaign asset, on the trail with President Obama.



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m here today because I believe in Hillary Clinton and I want you to help elect her to be the next president of the United States of America. That`s why I`m here.

There has never been any man or woman more qualified for this office than Hillary Clinton. Ever. I have run my last campaign and I couldn`t be proud of the things we`ve come together, but I`m ready to pass the baton. And I know that Hillary Clinton is going to take it. And I know she can run that race.


O`DONNELL: Time to tonight`s war room on what President Obama can do to add to the Clinton campaign.

Our strategies tonight, Jeffrey Pollock, President of Global Strategy Group and one of the pollsters for Priorities USA, a super PAC that supports Hillary Clinton. Also with us, Hari Sevugan, a former National Press Secretary for the Democratic National Committee and a former senior spokesperson for President Obama`s 2008 campaign.

Jeffrey, the President looked so eager .


O`DONNELL: . to get out there and in fine form as they say, as a campaigner.

POLLOCK: Yeah. Well, he said one mistruth today. He said it was -- he`s run his last campaign earlier today, but he`s got one more in him and, you know, he`s in tremendous asset.

I mean, this is a guy who right now his numbers are at a high. He is doing incredibly well. He is a desired spokesperson on the trail and I think he`s a huge asset for Hillary.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what he said about Hilary Clinton as Secretary of State because this can be interpreted as close as we can today to a response about this e-mail situation.


OBAMA: She was a great secretary of state. And by the way, that`s not just my opinion that was the view of the American people on appointments throughout the time the way she was serving as secretary of state.

But for the whole political machinery you`ve got moving. Do you remember that? It wasn`t like long ago. It`s funny how that happens. Everybody thought she was doing a great job, not because she did do a good job. But it`s funny how the filter changes a little bit.


O`DONNELL: All right, that seems like what we`re going to be hearing from the president and it`s hard for me to imagine what they would say out there together about this e-mail thing.

HARI SEVUGAN, FORMER NATIONAL PRESS SECRETRARY, DNC: You know, I don`t think that President is going to address it at all.


SEVUGAN: I don`t think he has to and, in fact, I don`t think he can given that sort of ongoing nature of the justice department decision. But, more importantly-- and to put a finer point on what Jeffrey is saying, you know, it`s not that he`s popular. He`s popular with the right people.

His numbers -- they increased in popularity. He`s been doing it by, you know, increase in popularity with Hispanics, young people 18 and 29 and independence, that`s exactly who Hillary Clinton needs.

O`DONNELL: And let`s listen to what Donald Trump said today about President Obama campaigning for Hillary.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESUMPTIVE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have a president who is out campaigning for crooked Hillary Clinton and he should be home working on ISIS where the threat is getting worse and worse. He should be working on trade. He should be working on the borders.


O`DONNELL: Jeffrey, that`s not going to keep President Obama home.

POLLOCK: I mean, look, we want him to keep speaking as much as humanly possible, Lawrence. Every time that man seems to open his mouth, it just gets better.

O`DONNELL: But that seemed like for him and for his supporters a pretty effective response.

POLLOCK: Oh, for sure.

O`DONNELL: You always get to say the president should be back at the White House working.


O`DONNELL: Whenever they`re on the golf course, you always get to say they should be back there.

POLLOCK: For sure and we did the same thing against George Bush, right and look how good that did, right?

O`DONNELL: Right, yeah.

POLLOCK: I mean, so look at -- that`s a great speech to the base kind of that they (ph) arms, but it`s not really speaking their first right of voters and it`s not really the thing. Look, he is a limited person and his speech just sort of gets him in trouble and that`s what today is about. And you saw it multiple times today.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen more about what President Obama said today.


OBAMA: Nobody fully understands the challenges of the job of a president until you`ve actually sat at that desk. Everybody has got an opinion, but nobody actually knows the job until you`re sitting behind the desk.

Everybody can tweet, but nobody actually knows what it takes to do the job until you sat behind the desk. I mean, Sasha tweets, but she doesn`t think that she`s there by should be sitting behind the desk.


O`DONNELL: Hari, demeaning Donald Trump in every way that he can, but also pushing the qualifications of his candidate, and it`s the kind of argument to let`s get something new in there.

SEVUGAN: Yeah. Well, I think, you know, the president offers a couple of things to Secretary Clinton. One, is, I think he cannot just take on Donald Trump and be that sort of rhetorical sparring partner and not just (inaudible) with Trump, but really surgically dismantle him and he sell that today, he sell that as far back as the correspondence that are in 2012.

He also is very good at the big picture. You know, Bill Clinton can take policy and make it relatable to people like he did in that 2012 convention speech for the president. Barack Obama takes the big picture and makes it relatable for voters and that`s what this election is going to be. It`s going to be a directional kind of election. It`s going to be a big picture to watch it.

O`DONNELL: Real war room veterans, Jeffrey Pollock and Hari Sevugan, thank you both for joining us in "The Last Word" war room tonight.

Coming up, Donald Trump`s vice presidential election, someone who had a chat with Donald Trump on the plane the other day, says the short list now has only two names on it.



TRUMP: A great friend of mine, somebody respected by everybody, Senator Bob Corker. Come on up, Bob. Come on up.

SEN. BOB CORKER, (R) TENNESSEE: The reason you love him so much is because he loves you. He loves you and he wants the best for you, the president -- the Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump.


O`DONNELL: That was tonight in North Carolina. NBC News has now confirmed that Senator Bob Corker has submitted vetting material and he is going through all of the steps required in the Trump vice presidential selection process. Trump also met this weekend with Indiana Governor Mike Pence and Iowa Senator Joni Ernst and their families.

Joining us now Charlie Sykes, radio host and editor-in-chief of "RightWisconsin." Charlie, I was in Boston this morning and so I read Howie Carr`s column in the "Boston." "Herald," Howie Carr conservative writer and talk show host.

And he says on the plane with Donald Trump the other day in a conversation with Trump, it sounded to him like the short list now was really only Senator Joni Ernst and Governor Mike Pence.

And when Howie Carr would mention other names, Trump would say why he didn`t need them. But Trump kept mentioning Ernst and Mike Pence, what do you think?

CHARLIE SYKES, TALK SHOW RADIO HOST: Yeah. I don`t think this is going to be a game changer because Donald Trump is the game, right? You know, the problem he`s got is that it was very different with other candidates to face in this position because he has to find somebody who will normalize his campaign which has been abnormal.

And number two, he`s got select for a very small number of people who want to associate themselves with Donald Trump. So, you know, in order to be the vice presidential nominee for Donald Trump, as we`ve seen with Chris Christie, you have to be the cat-dog, you have to a bottle washer, you have to be a yes man, and you have to be willing to go out there on a daily basis and defend the various gaps.

I do think those names are very interesting. Joni Ernst is a very, very attractive politician, I think, however, extremely inexperienced, but the year in which the experience is not valued, maybe that`s not a negative.

Mike Pence is, you know, a solid governor of Indiana. We have faced with a very, very tough reelection fight relatively colorless. My guess is that if you asked me to bet five bucks, I would bet on somebody like Jeff Sessions, but, again, we`ll find out who can predict what Donald Trump is going to do in this situation.

O`DONNELL: It`s an interesting calculation, Charlie, because I have thought that serious people like Bob Corker would never want it.

SYKES: Right.

O`DONNELL: And as I stair at the Corker thing, I`m starting to wonder, does Bob Corker think the good thing about it is it`s easy to look better than Donald Trump, and the vice presidential slot can position you four years later to be in a pretty good position, assuming your candidate loses, you know, in a pretty good position to challenge Hillary Clinton.

SYKES: Well, that would be if this was a conventional year and a conventional campaign and it is decidedly not a conventional year. You know, ask yourself, has there anyone who`s been associated with Donald Trump who comes out looking better? And that`s what I think the candidates have to ask themselves. Has their statute been enhanced?


SYKES: Do they, you know, do they have a greater level of respect and self-respect? I mean, look at that picture of Chris Christie standing behind and realize, "OK, that`s going to be your life from now on."

O`DONNELL: Charlie Sykes, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

SYKES: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, have you ever publicly confronted your boss? Dana Schwartz did that today and her boss is Donald Trump`s son-in-law. Dana Schwartz will join us.


O`DONNELL: Here is how it looked today on the campaign trail.


JAMES COMEY, FBI DIRECTOR: We are expressing to justice all of you that no charges are appropriate in this case.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No criminal charges for Hillary Clinton.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This clears her of the legal hurdle, but the political one remains.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It still suggests that she showed carelessness.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone has been skeptical across the board.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Donald Trump already tweeting his response.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "The system is rigged. General Petraeus got into trouble for far less. Very, very unfair! As usual bad judgment."

OBAMA: I mean, Sasha tweets.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is no single issue that is overshadowed the Clinton campaign as much as this e-mail controversy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I tried to get a word with her about this after the event, she steered clear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: North Carolina, the epicenter today for politics.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She can`t over state the optics of today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Obama traveling on Air Force One to North Carolina later today to be the campaigner in chief for Hillary Clinton.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Obama is a great surrogate for Clinton.

OBAMA: The bottom line is I know Hillary can do the job.

TRUMP: The judgment is horrible. Look at her judgment on e-mails, who would do it?

CLINTON: We`re going to build on the vision for America that President Obama has always championed.

TRUMP: The last thing we need is an Obama-Clinton in the White House.

OBAMA: No, no, no, no, hold on a second, I was waiting for this opportunity. Don`t boo, vote.



O`DONNELL: Dana Schwartz risked her job today in an open letter to her boss who happens to be Donald Trump`s son-in-law. Dana Schwartz will get tonight`s LAST WORD, next.


O`DONNELL: And tonight`s LAST WORD, an extraordinary act of journalistic bravery. Dana Schwartz, an arts and culture reporter at the "New York Observer" published an open letter to her boss who happens to be Donald Trump`s son-in-law and also happens to be Jewish.

Jared Kushner is often used as a shield by Donald Trump in the Trump campaign to prove that Donald Trump is not anti-Semitic. This became relevant once again this weekend when Donald Trump tweeted this.

The tweet was lifted from an anti-Semitic website and which the star of clearly intended to be interpreted as the star of David.

Dana Schwartz decided it was time to publicly confront her boss in her open letter to Jared Kushner. She said this, "I`m asking you, not as a `gotcha` journalist or as a liberal, but as a human being. How do you allow this? When you stand silent and smiling in the background, his Jewish son-in-law, you`re giving his most hateful supporter`s tacit approval."

Joining us now, an exclusive "The Last Word" nucleus (ph), Dana Schwartz, arts and culture writer for "The Observer".

Dana, this was an extraordinary thing to read and you -- what struck me about it right away was, wow, you didn`t have to do this. I mean, no one has to do it. But you`re the arts and culture writer.

Politics is not your place at "The Observer" and it was so perfectly phrased throughout in the political points made so perfectly. How long were you thinking about doing this? Is this -- was this like a last straw thing with that tweet?

DANA SCHWARTZ, ARTS AND CULTURE WRITER, "THE OBSERVER": Well, the tweet was one thing and then the response from his supporters really clarified how horrific this campaign has been in my mind.

I mean, I woke up with -- as with many Americans on July 2nd when he tweeted that original image, sort of awe struck that a major political party candidate could get away with such blatant anti-Semitic imagery. And when I tweeted about it, the response I got from people all wearing make America great again has -- was horrific to say the least.

I exerted some of them on the -- in the article I wrote, but they were invoking the holocaust, some photo shopped my image and then of them (ph) was Donald Trump pushing the on button, horrific and blatant anti-Semitism.

And the fact that Donald Trump then took back the tweet and blamed it on the media being over sensitive instead of, I guess, his ante-Semitic supporters being over sense for reading too much into it, that was the last draw to me.

O`DONNELL: And David Duke tweeted his support for the tweet and a kind of, "We get it. We know what you`re trying to tell us Donald."

SCHWARTZ: Yeah, because whatever Donald is saying, it`s a wink and nod to his anti-Semitic white supremacies supporters. He may say it`s a sheriff`s star, but to people like David Duke and his kin, it`s not -- they`re not seeing it as a sheriff`s star.

O`DONNELL: What do you say to people who say, of course, Donald Trump couldn`t possibly traffic anti-Semitism. He has a Jewish son-in-law.

SCHWARTZ: I think that`s the most unnamed non-argument. It`s like saying someone can`t be sexist because they`re kind to their mother.

I think what Jared Kushner is doing and standing silent and idly by while so many people are blatantly anti-Semitic and Donald Trump`s name is really unforgivable, because whether or not Donald Trump is anti-Semitic, he might be a wonderful person and I`ve never met him and he might be anti-Semitic himself, but he`s willing to cork those voters and send them these blatant winks images in order to get their support. And that`s what I find so unnerving.

O`DONNELL: Your -- Jared Kushner, your boss, owner of "The Observer," is your response today to what you have written and he said the suggestion that he maybe intolerant is not reflective of the Donald Trump that I know. Have you heard from Jared Kushner personally?

SCHWARTZ: Not personally. I read the response. I thought it was a bit of a non-response. He didn`t early touch upon that the issue I had in my article, which is Donald Trump maybe a tolerant person as an individual, but his policies and the message he`s putting out are, for whatever reason, and play dumb all you want, but they`re attracting horribly anti-Semitic people.

O`DONNELL: And what was the reaction at work at everybody -- at "The Observer?"

SCHWARTZ: From individuals their reaction was incredibly supportive and I feel lucky to work at a place where they let me publish this piece.

O`DONNELL: It must be a difficult place to be these days when your owner is Donald Trump`s son-in-law, this campaign going on, you and your colleagues there must have all sorts of angst about that.

SCHWARTZ: You know, the thing is until now I have just been in arts and culture writer and I`d have been focusing. And since the apprentice is non-television, I haven`t had to write about Donald Trump.

But for me, because so many of the anti-Semitic attacks were coming at me personally, I felt it was necessary to use my position as an employee of Jared Kushner to speak up.

O`DONNELL: So, stay in touch of us. It would be interesting to see what happens as time goes by here.

SCHWARTZ: Absolutely.

O`DONNELL: I fear for your job if you don`t. Do you fear for you job tonight?

SCHWARTZ: Well, I did ask Ken Kurson, editor-in-chief whether I could write an article about the anti-Semitic responses I get to when I tweet about Donald Trump and he gave me to go ahead.

If I lost my job, it will be because I took a stand on something I genuinely believe in and I won`t be disappointed in that.

O`DONNELL: Dana Schwartz, thank you very much.