Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: August 4, 2016 Guest: Eugene Robinson, Katie Packer, Ben Schreckinger, Alex Isbell, Steve Clemens, Karine Jean-Pierre, Steve McMahon
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: That does it for us tonight, thanks for being with us, we`ll 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, thank you, thank you, thank you for teeing up my segment about Melania Trump.
MADDOW: Excellent, so glad --
O`DONNELL: You just --
MADDOW: It`s not about Michelle Obama`s arms.
O`DONNELL: No --
MADDOW: Look --
O`DONNELL: This is about Melania Trump and it turns out she might -- and Donald Trump size anyway be guilty of something worse than plagiarism.
MADDOW: Oh, God, build --
O`DONNELL: Yes --
MADDOW: A wall --
O`DONNELL: Yes --
MADDOW: Thank you my friend --
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel, thank you. So, let this be kind of a programming warning to you Melania Trump fans out there.
You might have a problem with the story we`re going to have to discuss tonight about how she came to the United States from Slovenia.
It could be that Donald Trump is married to the kind of person he says he hates the most. Immigrants who come to the United States and work here illegally.
But first, somewhere along the line, I don`t know where Donald Trump learned or just decided to pronounce an "h" as a "y".
And so, to put it in language that even Donald Trump can understand. According to a bunch of new polls, if the election were held today, Donald Trump would be humiliated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Of course, the elections will not be rigged, what does that mean?
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: It`s a rigged system.
OBAMA: That`s ridiculous.
TRUMP: I`m afraid the election is going to be rigged.
OBAMA: That doesn`t make any sense --
REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: He`s had a pretty strange run since the convention.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He makes more gaps than I can keep up with.
CHUCK TODD, MODERATOR, MEET THE PRESS: The polls look like it could be disastrous by next week for Donald Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A new Nbc News-"Wall Street Journal" poll shows that Hillary Clinton has opened up a 9-poing lead over Donald Trump.
PAUL MANAFORT, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: We don`t plan on winning in August, we plan on winning in November.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You would think that we ought to be focusing on Hillary Clinton and on all of her deficiencies.
TRUMP: The queen of corruption.
SEN. HARRY REID (D), NEVADA: He is the nominee of the Republican Party, they`re stuck with him, there`s no way out of that.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Anyone you can provoke with a tweet should not be anywhere near nuclear weapons.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can really picture Donald Trump in that national security meeting.
OBAMA: I obviously have a very strong opinion about the two candidates who are running here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I know there are probably reasons not to use nuclear weapons. I can`t think of one, but I`m open to hearing them. Meat loaf your thoughts.
OBAMA: I would ask all of you to just make your own judgment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should I bomb Gary Busey?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Forty three, remember that number, 43. It is a very important number in our political history and it`s a number that could humiliate Donald Trump -- 43.
I actually forgot the importance of that number for a while and was reminded of it the hard way. It was in Bill Clinton`s first year as president, the first major bill that he tried to get through Congress is exactly the same thing actually that Hillary Clinton says she will try to get through Congress.
It`s also an idea that Donald Trump supports, but I don`t think he realizes that it would have to actually go through Congress.
It was a jobs bill, a stimulus bill filled with infrastructure spending for roads, bridges, mass transit, airports, all over the country.
You`ve heard Donald Trump say he wants to rebuild all that stuff. But others say, I don`t think he realizes that it means getting a big new spending bill through Congress which is one of the hardest things you can try to get through Congress.
Robert Byrd, one of the great masters of the Senate`s legislative procedure was the floor manager of that bill in Bill Clinton`s presidency, that very first bill.
And the Democrats were confident that Senator Byrd could get the job done because he always got the job done in these situations on the Senate floor.
And Senator Byrd pulled some pretty flashy parliamentary maneuvers to move the bill forward in the Senate, but he got caught on the one-trip wire that even a master of the Senate can`t skip over -- a cloture vote.
As no one outside of Washington knew then, and now everyone knows it takes 60 votes to end debate in the Senate and move to a final vote on legislation.
That means it only takes 41 votes to stop just about anything in the Senate. And in those days, there were 43 Republicans in the Senate.
Over the course of several days, Senator Byrd moved for cloture four times. Each time there were 43 votes against cloture. Forty three votes to kill the bill.
And finally the Democrats gave up, and more amazingly to our Senate staffers sitting on the Senate floor that day, the legendary Senator Byrd gave up.
We`ve never seen that before. And then the most unlikely person to say anything important in the Senate at the time, Chuck Grassley rose on the Republican side of the floor.
Senator Grassley was in his 12th year in the Senate then and still ignorable since he didn`t hold any position of power in the Senate and wasn`t exactly an interesting speaker.
But he said something then that I will never forget. For the first and only time, Chuck Grassley spoke directly to what was going through my mind.
How unfair it is that in a vote of 57 to 43, 43 wins. Only in the United States Senate could 43 percent of a vote be a winning percentage.
Senator Grassley addressed his comments to all of his colleagues on the other side of the aisle who were thinking what I was thinking and who were horrified that 43 percent was the winning percentage in the Senate that day.
Senator Grassley said, you should remember that the current president of the United States was elected with 43 percent of the vote.
Chuck Grassley is now in his 35th year in the Senate and he`s never had a better line on the Senate floor than he did that day.
I had forgotten then that Bill Clinton had been elected in a three-way race with George Bush and Ross Perot with only 43 percent of the vote, and I sat there thinking, well, we don`t have a quick come back to that line, and we didn`t.
No Democratic Senator chose to argue with Chuck Grassley on that point.
And what I saw then clearly when Chuck Grassley said that about Bill Clinton winning the presidency with 43 percent of the vote was real anger, real bitterness, a real sense of injustice in the Senate, Grassley and other Republican senators on the floor that day.
You could feel how they felt it was an almost illegitimate presidency, his presidency winning with 43 percent of the vote.
None of them had seen that before, and it surely shaped the condescending and defiant attitude they had toward Bill Clinton on every piece of legislation that he proposed -- the 43 percent president. And tonight, 23 years after Chuck Grassley engraved the number 43 in my memory forever.
The new Nbc News poll shows Hillary Clinton in the lead for the presidency with 43 percent of the vote, Donald Trump at 34 percent, Gary Johnson at 10, Jill Stein at 5 percent.
Look at how that compares to 1992. Bill Clinton got 43 percent, George Bush 37, Ross Perot, 19. That picture shows that we`ve been here before. Forty three percent for Clinton as a first-time presidential nominee in a multi-candidate field for the presidency.
There`s been some speculation among political observers that in this four- way race this year, it could reduce the frontrunners` electoral vote-count so much that no one wins the 270 electoral votes necessary to win the presidency.
So, it`s worth remembering what 43 percent of the vote translated to in the electoral college, and this is where Chuck Grassley`s lesson to the Senate about the 43 percent president failed to tell the most important part of that story.
And that is that Bill Clinton`s 43 percent turned out to be a landslide in the electoral college. Bill Clinton won a 100 more electoral votes than he needed, 370, 370 to 168.
That was the electoral college result. That`s more electoral college votes than George W. Bush or Barack Obama ever won, even though Barack Obama won a clear majority of the popular vote.
And so, according to the latest polls, if the election were held today, 43 percent could be a landslide win for Hillary Clinton. She could get 200 more electoral votes than Donald Trump.
If the election were held today according to these polls, Hillary Clinton would humiliate Donald Trump more thoroughly, and completely and permanently than Donald Trump has ever humiliated himself.
Donald Trump would be America and the world`s biggest loser if the election were held today. The word "Trump" would change its meaning to loser, that`s if Hillary Clinton just got 43 percent of the vote.
But other polls now are showing her getting more than that. Other polls show Hillary Clinton getting somewhere around the same amount 44-45 percent.
"Fox"-"Cnn" poll has her 45, "Fox News" has her at 44, and a new McClatchy/Marist poll, this is a bit of an outlier has Hillary Clinton at 45 percent.
But the striking part is, it shows a much bigger lead over Donald Trump who is way down at 31 percent. And that kind of margin would mean an even bigger wipe out for Donald Trump in the electoral college.
If the McClatchy poll is right and the election were held today, Donald Trump would be vying for biggest loser in the history of presidential elections and he would probably be dragging down other Republicans on the ballot with him in states around the country.
To the point where he would single-handedly deliver control of the United States Senate to the Democrats. Which is why Donald Trump no longer does this at his rallies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: One of the polls just came out, isn`t that a beautiful sight. Beautiful, I love it. One of the polls -- you know, I only use like the ones where we`re doing well, but we`re doing well in most of them.
So, the polls that are coming out now have me with a massive lead. We have the most loyal people of anybody, and that`s in the polls, that`s not me saying it.
I went through the roof with the polls, I`ve been number one in the polls almost right from that first day. Number one.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now Eugene Robinson; Pulitzer-prize winning opinion writer for the "Washington Post" and an Msnbc political analyst.
Also with us, Katie Packer; a Republican strategist and founder of Our Principles; an anti-Trump PAC. She`s also an Msnbc contributor.
Gene, I don`t know, he failed to mention any of the polls today. You know that --
EUGENE ROBINSON, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: Yes --
O`DONNELL: First 20 minutes of the Trump rally that`s about the polls, that wasn`t about the polls today. I can`t figure out why?
ROBINSON: It must have slipped his mind. I`m sure he`ll get back to it in the next rally. Actually, I don`t think he will once the polls completely turn around.
I mean, look, what has happened is the -- both conventions and certainly the aftermath of the conventions have in total been pretty disastrous for Donald Trump.
He got arguably a bit of a bump from his convention. He gave it all back and more than the Democrats had a very good convention, but Hillary Clinton got a bounce.
And then Donald Trump over the last several days with his inexplicable reaction to the Khan family with, you know, kicking the baby out of the press conference, refusing to endorse the speaker of the house in his primary.
I mean, all this stuff has not only raised questions about his suitability as president, but raised questions about his mental competence and that`s not a good thing if you`re running for president.
You know, you can`t win the presidency in August, arguably you could lose it in August, I`m not saying Donald Trump has, but this has been a really bad stretch.
O`DONNELL: Katie Packer, I would like to unburden myself of something that has been bothering me all year and see if we have any agreement on this.
And that is, during the primaries, Donald Trump would, you know, attack John McCain and his poll numbers would not be hurt and then they`d go up a little bit and everyone would say, oh, that didn`t hurt him.
And then he would announce, you know, he wants to ban Muslims and the poll numbers would go up, and everyone in the Republican primaries, the poll numbers would go up.
Everyone would say that didn`t hurt him. And what I kept saying was, he`s running for president of the United States, not president of the Republican Party.
Every one of these things is hurting him in the general election, every one of them, just wait until we get to the real general election poll and you will see an accumulation of damage that he`s been doing to himself all year.
KATIE PACKER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yes, absolutely, you know, we were campaigning very aggressively in the primary on the fact that these kinds of things were going to be damaging in a general election and that`s why we thought it was a bad choice.
And he ultimately didn`t really win over the Republican Party, if you remember. You know, he actually won a minority of Republican voters over all.
Didn`t really win the hearts and souls of Republican voters, but they have sort of tried to rally around the guy. And what we`ve seen in all of these examples you`ve shown over the last week is just such an example of his incredibly thin skin.
And that he just can`t help himself any time he`s attacked to sort of come back with a ridiculous amount of force that keeps all these stories in the news, and they do continue to hurt him because he just can`t help himself and he`s way too thin-skinned.
O`DONNELL: Eugene Robinson, your newspaper is reporting desperate fundraising plea by Paul Ryan tonight --
ROBINSON: Yes --
O`DONNELL: Using an interesting turn of phrase, I want to read this from the "Washington Post". It says, "house Speaker Paul D. Ryan sent an urgent fundraising appeal on Thursday evening that warned, "if we failed to protect our majority in Congress, we could be handing President Hillary Clinton a blank check."" They couldn`t be clearer about what they think is happening here.
ROBINSON: Yes, I mean, first of all, Paul Ryan is -- has had a bad few weeks, right? You know, he felt he had to endorse Trump because of his stature as the highest ranking Republican. He`s trying to keep the party together.
Obviously, he did it holding his nose. Every few days he has to come out and to announce something Trump has said or done while at the same time not taking back his endorsement.
And then Trump goes out of his way in an interview with the "Washington Post" to insult Ryan by refusing to endorse him and using the very phrasing that Paul Ryan used, saying "I`m not there yet."
He came back to that in the interview with our reporter, Phil Rucker, just to make the point, just to needle at Paul Ryan. And so, I think Ryan, in this sense, has just about had it.
He like a lot of other prominent Republicans in Washington actually think - - and this is my projection on what I think he thinks.
Actually thinks Donald Trump is going to lose and that they better do what they can to save the Senate and the house.
O`DONNELL: And Katie Packer, Republicans have been here before and it`s now getting really striking how many parallels are developing between Bill Clinton presidential campaigns and now Hillary Clinton`s.
The Republicans did a similar fundraising message in 1996 in his re- election campaign at this point, you`ll remember Bill Clinton was 18 points ahead of Bob Dole.
And in their -- and in congressional fundraising appeals, they kept saying, you know, you don`t want to give a blank check to President Clinton. They weren`t even -- they weren`t even pretending there was a chance of a president at all.
PACKER: Well, at this point it`s just smart politics. And I think you`re going to start to see both the house and Senate candidates starting to distance themselves and to try to sort of run as a check-and-balance on Hillary.
And if you remember throughout the last several months, Paul Ryan who is literally one of the best guys I`ve ever known in politics.
He`s just a good guy and even his opponents mostly agree with that, has been trying to talk about substantive things that Republicans don`t normally talk about addressing poverty. Addressing sort of inequality in this country. Things that Republicans traditionally don`t talk about.
And he just runs up against this Trump wall trying to have a positive message for Republicans, and I do think it`s very frustrating for Speaker Ryan and his team to have somebody that`s just playing games when they`re trying to actually move an agenda forward.
O`DONNELL: All right, well, there`s no doubt these polls will tighten up as soon as Donald Trump stops saying and doing stupid things. So, we`re sure we`re going to see much tighter polls.
Eugene Robinson and Katie Packer, thank you both for joining us tonight.
PACKER: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Thank you.
PACKER: Coming up, the latest possible scandal to hit Trump campaign got started as only a Trump campaign scandal could, by naked pictures of the third Mrs. Trump in the "New York Post".
And later, President Obama was asked today if he`s worried about Donald Trump receiving national security briefings.
O`DONNELL: Speaking of running for the lifeboats on the Trump tunic, how do you like this campaign ad from Republican Congressman Mike Coffman of Colorado.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MIKE COFFMAN (R), COLORADO: People ask me, what do you think about Trump? Honestly, I don`t care for him much and I certainly don`t trust Hillary.
I`m a Marine, for me, country comes first. My duty is always to you. So, if Donald Trump is the president, I`ll stand up to him, plain and simple.
And if Hillary wins, I`ll hold her accountable every step of the way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That ad will start airing tomorrow along with a version of him speaking Spanish, so Donald Trump will have no idea what he`s saying.
Up next, did Melania Trump do the thing that Donald Trump hates the most? Work illegally in this country?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY: Because we want our children and all children in this nation to know --
MELANIA TRUMP, WIFE OF DONALD TRUMP: Because we want our children in this nation to know --
OBAMA: That the only limit to the height of your achievement --
TRUMP: That the only limit to your achievement --
OBAMA: Is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work hard for them.
TRUMP: Is the strength of your dreams and your willingness to work for them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Well, one of the achievements that Melania Trump was not so willing to work for was a college degree. But her website falsely claim that she did graduate from college in Slovenia.
A website that has since that mistake has been discovered was eliminated. Website just wiped out, the story gone, doesn`t exist.
And at the time, it seemed that the Trump world preferred to eliminate the website completely rather than just correct that one falsehood on the website. Why would they do that? Maybe it wasn`t the only falsehood in Melania Trump`s biography.
"Politico" reports today that there are some serious problems with the Trump family story about how Melania Trump came to this story. So serious that President Trump`s first lady could be the kind of person he hates the most.
An immigrant who worked in the United States illegally. It all started as only a Trump family story could with naked pictures in the "New York Post" on Monday.
Melania Trump posed for the pictures in 1995 with the way she tells the story of her life now. She first arrived in the United States a year later, in 1996.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I grew up in Slovenia, and I went to school there, I studied design and architecture, and then I moved to Milan and Paris to live there.
And I had successful modeling career, I came to New York 1996.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: So, the question now is what kind of visa did Melania Trump have when she began working in the United States?
Was it legal for Mrs. Trump to work here or was she part of the great wave of illegal immigration that produces illegal workers according to her husband that are destroying America?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I follow the law. I follow a law the way it`s supposed to be. I never thought to stay here without papers. I had visa, I travel every few months back to the country, to Slovenia to stamp the visa.
I came back, I applied for the green card. I applied for the citizenship later on after many years of green card. So, I went by system. I went by the law.
And you should do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Alex Isbell, an immigration attorney in Philadelphia and Ben Schreckinger, a reporter at "Politico" covering national politics.
Ben, the -- one of the blurry parts of this story is that when we hear Melania Trump talk about it, she never specifies what kind of visa she had at the different stages of her American experience.
BEN SCHRECKINGER, REPORTER, POLITICO: That`s right, and from the description we just heard from her in which she was going back every few months to Europe to get her visa stamped, which is a description she`s made of her experience more than once.
That sounds like a B1 or a B2 visa, the kind of thing you get as a tourist or a business traveler and the kind of thing that wouldn`t permit you to work as a model.
O`DONNELL: And your -- Ben, your story sort of spooked the Trump campaign into releasing a statement today about her history. They released it in her voice.
It`s in writing, it says, "I have at all times been in full compliance with the immigration laws of this country, period. Any allegations of the contrary is simply untrue."
But Alex Isbell, that statement like everything else that Trump have said about this never refers to any specific kind of visa as she worked her way along, eventually up to getting a green card before she married Donald Trump.
ALEX ISBELL, IMMIGRATION LAWYER: Exactly, so to date, the statements at the Trump campaign have made have been platitudes, very vague statements about compliance with immigration laws of this country and all applicable laws.
O`DONNELL: And so what -- the possibilities here, Alex, include that she came on a tourist visa, something like that, she started working on that visa and that`s why she was going home every six months or so, so she could keep that visa, at least, looking right in the passport.
But at some point, at some point she manages to get a green card. How do you -- how would you pole vault from a tourist visa to a green card? What kind of other visas do you think would -- she would have obtained along the way?
ISBELL: Sure. I think that the idea that she was modeling in the United States using a B2 visitor`s visa or a B1 business visa based on her trips to get the visa renewed.
That would have been at an airport not actually in Slovenia. But I think that she in all likelihood was using a B2 to act as a model in the United States in terms of pole vaulting or transitioning out of her status as a visitor to someone with a green card.
The -- of course, this is speculation, I haven`t seen her file and I don`t know much about her personally. But I would suspect that she received something called an EB-1 green card for a person of extraordinary ability.
Certainly her modeling career about the time she would have gotten a green card, which based on her naturalization date would have been in 2001.
That was really when she was at the height of her modeling career. You had the "Harper`s Bazaar" spread.
You had her in the "Sports Illustrated" swimsuit issue, and that -- those are the kind of achievements that would enable someone to qualify, at least present a colorable case for an EB-1 extraordinary ability green card.
O`DONNELL: Alex, is it possible that, that EB-1 would have been the first legal work document that she had to work in the United States?
ISBELL: Someone who has a traditional bread and butter work visa, which is called an H-1B, it does include models of sustained acclaim, but someone who has a proper work visa doesn`t need to be traveling out of the United States every couple of months to use -- Mrs. Trump`s own words to get a visa stamped to renew their status.
If you have a work visa, you could remain in the United States for up to three years without having to do anything with immigration, and potentially, much longer without ever having to travel outside of the United States.
O`DONNELL: Ben Schreckinger, another problem for the Trump campaign here is that Donald Trump has come out against H-IB visas. He have said, he would end forever the use of H-IB visas and it may be that was one of the visas that his wife used to legally work in this country.
SCHRECKINGER: That`s right. The Italian businessman and associate of Donald Trump who was Melania`s agent at the time, has now said that she got an H-IB in 1996. If you look at the way -- if you look at, for example, Melania`s statement today, she refers to reporting about her immigration status in 1996. The problem is what was happened before 1996. It appears she was in the country in 1995 modeling.
O`DONNELL: All right. We`re going to have to leave it there for tonight. Alex Isabel (ph) and Ben Schreckinger, thank you both very much for joining us.
SCHRECKINGER: Thank you very much, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Up next, is President Obama worried or we should say maybe, how worried is President Obama about Donald Trump getting national security briefings. He answered that question today.
O`DONNELL: After meeting today at the Pentagon about combating ISIS, President Obama was asked if he`s concerned that Donald Trump will be receiving national security briefings about ISIS and other issues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: We are going to go by the law, which is that both tradition and the law that if somebody is the nominee, the Republican nominee for president, they need to get security briefings so that if they were to win, they are not starting from scratch. They have been told these are classified briefings and if they want to be president, they`ve got to start acting like president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Steve Clemons, Editor -at-Large of the "Atlantic" and MSNBC Contributor.
Steve, so often, the president makes thing sound simple. If they want to be president, they have to start acting like president. Does he have any idea how difficult that is for Donald Trump?
STEVE CLEMONS, EDITOR -AT-LARGE OF THE ATLANTIC, MSNBC Contributor: You can see the anguish on Obama`s face just saying what he said, because he clearly is worried that by implication of what he`s saying is that Donald Trump won`t be responsible with the classified information he`s hearing. And he worries that that -- and he said many times, that he sees Donald Trump as unfit to be president of the United States and he`s so uncomfortable saying that.
And even later in the press conference, Lawrence, he said, you know, if he wins he`ll be responsible and follow the will of the people. But you look at the body language and he just grimaces.
So I think there`s an element where I think he`s made clear that other people he`s ran against, other Republicans he`s had differences with, he never questioned their patriotism, never questioned their sense of duty to the country. They had differences and they would -- could agree to disagree and move on.
But with Donald Trump, it`s a very different game for President Obama.
O`DONNELL: It is just so hard to believe that Donald Trump could get the security briefing in a morning, and then go out to rally audience in the afternoon and not brag about it, and not say, "I`ve got a security briefing this morning. It`s really bad out there." It`s just -- anyway. This is a very important ...
CLEMONS: I mean, it reminds you of like what Tim Kaine was saying at the convention, believe me, I know, and here`s what I know.
CLEMONS: You can imagine him saying believe me, and referring to the security briefings.
O`DONNELL: There`s a very troubling poll number that`s come out for the Trump campaign, and it`s one of the leads on issue that he had over Hillary Clinton. This is the question of who do you trust on terrorism and national security. In the middle of May, he had a 12-point lead on Hillary Clinton on that issue, 52-40.
Now, it is tied. There`s no lead. It`s 47-47. Trump has no advantage on one of the issues that he has banged away at as hard as anything else he has said, that lead has evaporated for him.
CLEMONS: What is really interesting here and with all due respect to the Hillary Clinton campaign, who we`ve not heard much from, despite their best efforts because he`s stealing all the headlines, he`s kicked down his own hill.
So, yeah, he was in the lead and she gave a compelling presentation at the convention, but what Donald Trump is doing and we`re finally beginning to see it happen, I think, is that his comments about NATO, his comments about the Khan family, his disrespect for the flag, for the purple heart, he`s really kicked down his own hill.
O`DONNELL: Yeah. And we`re going to talk about this later in the war room (ph) but when he`s doing that most professionals advice to the Clinton campaign is, try to let him have as much of the spotlight as possible. Don`t say anything particularly clever today so that you get headlines, let him get all these presence.
CLEMONS: It`s working.
O`DONNELL: Steve Clemons, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it.
CLEMONS: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, $400 million cash, cash to Iran. Sounds bad, especially if you know absolutely nothing about it like, say, Donald Trump. President Obama explains it all, next.
O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s lesson in governing for Donald Trump.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: 400 million in cash being flown in an airplane to Iran. I wonder where that money really goes by the way, right. I wonder where it really goes. Well, it went to either in their pockets, which I actually think, more so, or towards terrorism, probably a combination of both. So $400 million in cash, now, you real -- who can authorize even in terms of a president, who can authorize $400,000 in cash.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was Donald Trump and Fox News` second day in a row talking about the big pile of cash delivered to Iran. And once again, it fell to President Obama to explain to Donald Trump and to Fox News how the world works.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We announced these payments in January, many months ago. There wasn`t a secret. We announced them for -- to all of you. Josh did a briefing on them. This wasn`t some nefarious deal.
And at that time, we`ve explained that Iran had pressed a claim before an international tribunal about them recovering money of theirs that we had frozen that, as a consequence of its working its way through the international tribunal, it was the assessment of our lawyers that we were now at a point where there was significant litigation risk and we could end up costing ourselves billions of dollars. It was their advice and suggestion that we settle and that`s what these payments represent.
The reason that we had to give them cash is precisely because we are so strict in maintaining sanctions and we do not have a banking relationship with Iran, that we couldn`t send them a check. And we could not wire the money. And it is not, at all, clear to me why it is that cash, as opposed to a check or a wire transfer, has made this into a news story, maybe because it kind of feels like some spying -- yeah, some crime novel because cash was exchanged.
The reason cash was exchanged is because we don`t have banking relationship with Iran, which is precisely part of the pressure that we were able to apply to them so that they would ship a whole bunch of nuclear material out and close down a bunch of facilities that, as I remember two years ago, three years ago, five years ago, was people`s top fear and priority that we make sure Iran doesn`t have break out nuclear capacity. They don`t. This worked.
O`DONNELL: Coming up in the "war room" (ph) how do you manage success? This is trickier than you might think. How the Clinton campaign is reacting to all the good news in the polls.
O`DONNELL: Every turn in the campaign presents new challenges and new decisions. We`ll go inside the Clinton-Warren tonight to see what all new poll numbers mean for the next stage of that campaign. But first, here is how it looked today on the campaign trail.
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MIKE PENCE, (R) CANDIDATE FOR VICE PRESIDENT: I can promise you the day Donald Trump becomes president of the United States of America, the change will be huge.
TIM KAINE, (D) CANDIDATE FOR VICE PRESIDENT: Hillary and I win this November, you`ll have not one but two people in the White House who understand the unique set of challenges facing America cities.
PENCE: When Donald Trump does his talk, he doesn`t go tiptoeing around thousands of rules of political correctness.
TRUMP: She deleted the e-mails to cover up her crime. She lied about it all over. If I ever gave the answer that she gave to Chris Robbins (ph), it would be pretty close to execution.
PENCE: Where else would an independent spirit like Donald Trump find a following?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are the controversies wearing on you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes they are, but not as much as they are my wife.
REID: Secretary Clinton`s opponent is ego maniac.
HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Do you want a president who stands for your fired or one who stands for you`re hired?
REID: The woman running for president of the United States is not only the most qualified person, she`s the most intelligent ever running for president.
CLINTON: Donald Trump said he can`t make his suits, or his ties, or his shirts, or his furniture in the United States. Well, we just put up a website and we`re telling him about 100 places where he can actually make all of those things right here in America.
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O`DONNELL: In tonight`s campaign "War Room," the Clinton campaign has had a very good week in the polls. In addition to leading in all the national polls, recently released battleground state polls show big lose for Hillary Clinton. In Florida, Hillary Clinton`s up 4. In Michigan, Hillary Clinton`s up 9. In Pennsylvania, she is up 13. And in New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton is ahead by 15 points.
There was a state poll released this week that showed Donald Trump in the lead. That was in Georgia. And it`s not good for him. It`s a little in the margin of errors, Trump at 46, Hillary Clinton at 42.
Joining us now is Steve McMahon and Karine Jean-Pierre.
The Georgia poll, I just -- like that`s the one, I got to say, out of all of them, it shows you how powerful these leads are in the other states. You`re ahead by 15 here but you`re actually contesting it in Georgia.
KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yeah, it`s looking like they`re opening up the map a little bit, right?
O`DONNELL: So, in the war room (ph), you get these polls.
O`DONNELL: And you say, "Well, do we need to do any more advertising in New Hampshire at all, should we not waste money on expensive Boston T.V. advertising for New Hampshire, should we send some money down to Georgia and actually try to buy some Atlanta time, see if that can help us?"
JEAN-PIERRE: Well, let me first say this, Lawrence, `96 days is like a lifetime in politics.
JEAN-PIERRE: So I want to make sure that Democrats are complacent, that they continue to fight because this can still be a very competitive race. So, like you just stated, this race is going to be won on the ground. It`s going to be the race of that 270 Electoral Colleges. And that`s what they`re going to looking at, right? They`re going to be looking more so at the state, battleground state polling, less at the national polls and also their internal polling.
And that`s what matters. How do you get to 270? In what way can you do that, right? Virginia, Colorado looks good. It`s trending more and more Democratic, more and more diverse. You know, Pennsylvania is looking good. So what are the numbers that you need and how do you put them together to get the 270? Florida and Ohio will be extremely important.
O`DONNELL: Steve McMahon, you`re in charge of the meeting in the Clinton "War Room" tonight. You got all these polls sitting on the table when you walk in. Other than telling everybody, you know, it ain`t over till it`s over, that old thing, what new moves do you decide to make based on what you`re looking at tonight?
STEVE MCMAHON, HOWARD DEAN`S 2004 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST: Well, I mean, one of the things I`ll be looking at is, you know, the states that we might be able to take our advertising down and save some money.
So, for instance, we read recently, I think, that the Clinton campaign is taking their advertising down in Virginia and in Colorado which is a great sign for Democrats. That might give them the opportunity, Lawrence, to do as you suggest, go into some of these places where Trump is shrinking like in Georgia, Utah, where he`s got problems, Arizona where it ought to be a safe Republican win but it`s not looking that way.
So there`s some states that are creeping from red to purple to, perhaps, blue that you might want to put some money in to make Trump defend his base as opposed to being able to go into Pennsylvania and Ohio and some of the other places that he needs to win.
If you can pin him back, you know, it`s like in the football metaphor, if you can pin him back inside their own 20-yard line, it`s difficult for them to score a touchdown. And that`s where Donald Trump finds himself tonight. And I think that`s where the Clinton campaign wants to try to keep him.
O`DONNELL: Karine, when they make that decision of we are suspending, as they`re saying, advertising in Virginia, they must be making that on the basis of their own private polling that says to them, "This is how strong things are in Virginia or Colorado."
JEAN-PIERRE: That`s exactly right. And like I was saying, like Virginia and Colorado in particular, it`s trending much more Democratic, much more diverse. And they are. You know, they`ve talked about putting -- polling down in Colorado and going down in Virginia.
And also, let`s remember, the President went to Charlotte, North Carolina, right? There`s a reason why he went to Charlotte, North Carolina. He won that state in 2008, lost it in 2012.
She went to Nebraska just a couple of days ago. Nebraska and Maine have these, you know, different Electoral College criterias. And she`s looking for that one Electoral College, right, in Nebraska.
So they already -- you could tell, like they have a plan, a very sophisticated plan where on the other side Donald Trump, we don`t know what his battleground state plan is. How is he going to get to 270? He has to get Florida, he has to get Pennsylvania, he has to get Ohio. How is he going to do that when the numbers are so tight and so bad for him, when he`s not building his coalition, right?
He`s not getting African-Americans. He`s not getting Latinos. He`s doing really bad with women. He can`t just go with the 13 million plus of primary voters that he`s been doing and that`s what he`s doing. He`s just doubling down on that number.
O`DONNELL: Steve, on Hillary Clinton, the candidate, when you see Donald Trump going out there everyday saying something colossally stupid and damaging to his campaign, is there a decision made in the Clinton campaign bus where you simply say to the candidate, "You know what, use all of yesterday`s material. Don`t use any .
O`DONNELL: . of these new good lines we came up with because they will be drowned in the coverage of the Trump madness. Save these great lines for next month, next week, whenever it is, maybe the debate. Save them for when we need them."
MCMAHON: To go back to the football metaphor, Lawrence, it`s like running out the clock. You`re absolutely right. You know, you`re Hillary Clinton, you`re winning, there are 96 days left. Every single day that you don`t lose is a win for your campaign because you`re so far ahead in so many of these battleground states. So you don`t want to do anything to upset the momentum that the race, you know, that the race is on. And you want to keep Donald Trump sliding toward the wheels coming off his bus.
O`DONNELL: Got to leave it there for tonight. Karine Jean-Pierre and Steve McMahon thank you both for joining us tonight.
JEAN-PIERRE: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Appreciate it.
Up next, the President`s birthday.
O`DONNELL: Today is the President`s birthday. He`s 55 years old. He is celebrating with his family at a restaurant in Georgetown. At 55, President Obama is the fifth youngest president.
President Obama was treated to a birthday surprise a day earlier yesterday when he spoke to a group of young African leaders.
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UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS (singing): Happy birthday to you.