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The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 8/22/2016

Guests: Maria Teresa Kumar, Robert Traynham, Cornell Belcher, Jonathan Chait, Susan Craig, David Cay Johnston, Howard Dean

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: August 22, 2016 Guest: Maria Teresa Kumar, Robert Traynham, Cornell Belcher, Jonathan Chait, Susan Craig, David Cay Johnston, Howard Dean

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: 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, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Hey, Rachel, you were working right there on TV when I tweeted about Cher joining us tonight --

MADDOW: No way --

O`DONNELL: On the LAST WORD. Well, it turns out no way as a matter of fact --


Because no, she was campaigning all weekend with Hillary Clinton and had the long trip back to California today from --

MADDOW: Wow --

O`DONNELL: Massachusetts. Actually from Providencetown, which as you know is like Massachusetts and beyond, it`s way out there in the Atlantic Ocean.

MADDOW: I had friends who were in Providencetown for the Cher and Hillary Clinton event this weekend. And they said the only thing was confusing is that half of Providencetown dressed up like Cher --

O`DONNELL: That will have --

MADDOW: And so nobody could tell who the real one was.

O`DONNELL: Yes, that can happen.

MADDOW: That`s --

O`DONNELL: But also Cher tweeted back --


O`DONNELL: Saying, she`ll be here tomorrow night.

MADDOW: Very nice.

O`DONNELL: So, I just wanted to correct the impression that the world has that Cher is going to be on here tonight.

MADDOW: Gives me time to get my outfit together.

O`DONNELL: Yes -- oh, Rachel, the toss tomorrow night --


Come on, come on, you can do it.

MADDOW: We`ll talk about it tomorrow.

O`DONNELL: Think about it -- any way, I can help with that.


OK --

MADDOW: If you do it, too, I`ll do it.

O`DONNELL: Oh, boy, we`ve got something to think about. I`ll talk to you tomorrow, thank you, Rachel. Donald Trump is now really running scared. I mean, panicked, so scared that he has decided to flip-flop on one of the central issues of his campaign.

The issue that first fired up Republican voters in primaries. The issue he started talking about as soon as he came down the escalator on that first day. Donald Trump is in the middle of a complete reversal on that issue in a desperate attempt to pick up votes.

And tonight, his friend, Bill O`Reilly tried to help him pretend that he isn`t betraying his original supporters in order to pick up new ones he needs to win the White House.


DONALD TRUMP, CHAIRMAN & PRESIDENT, TRUMP ORGANIZATIONS & REPUBLICAN NOMINEE FOR THE 2016 ELECTION: We`re going to get rid of the bad ones, the bad ones are going to be out of here fast.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will that plan include a deportation force?


TRUMP: We`re going to have a deportation force. What the hell do you have to lose? Give me a chance.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He says by 2020, he`s going to have 95 percent of the African-American support, why are you laughing?


TRUMP: I have a great relationship with the blacks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Unless the blacks are a family of white people, I bet he`s mistaken.


TRUMP: Oh, look at my African-American over here, look at him. You`re living in poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs.

EUGENE ROBINSON, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: Your lives are miserable, you live in hell.

TRUMP: What the hell do you have to lose?



Don`t yield, drop out.

TRUMP: I just get the feeling we`re going to win in a landslide.




O`DONNELL: With 77 days left until the election, the Trump campaign tonight is in all-out panic. The campaign`s panic is not about the impossibility of making Donald Trump a better candidate or a better person.

The Trump campaign is now panicking about the candidate`s policy positions, especially the policy that has made it mathematically impossible for him to win the presidency.


JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC: How do you deport 12 million?

TRUMP: OK, so, let me --

SCARBOROUGH: Only when --

TRUMP: You do it, you do it. Because they`re here illegally you do it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you going to have a massive deportation force?

TRUMP: You`re going to have a deportation force, and you`re going to do it, you mainly --


O`DONNELL: When Mitt Romney lost the presidency four years ago while winning only 27 percent of the Hispanic vote, everyone with a brain in the Republican Party, which then, believe it or not actually included Reince Priebus and Sean Hannity said Republicans were going to have to do something on immigration reform, so that they would not be the party that wants to rip families apart through deportation.

Everyone with a brain in the Republican Party then knew that it would be mathematically impossible to win the presidency without increasing Hispanic support. Back up to the George W. Bush level of 40 percent in 2004.

Kellyanne Conway, Donald Trump`s new campaign manager who has never before managed a campaign of any kind realizes it is impossible for Donald Trump to win unless he changes his position on deporting 11 million people.

She arranged a meeting with Donald Trump and a group that the Trump campaign calls the National Hispanic Advisory Council for Trump on Saturday in Donald Trump`s pretend cabinet room at Trump Tower.

Jacob Monty, a Texas immigration lawyer who attended the meeting said afterwards, "I really liked that Trump acknowledged that there`s a big problem with the 11 million people who are here, and that deporting them is neither possible nor humane".

Mr. Monty said that Donald Trump told the group that he would announce a plan to grab legal status to those 11 million people, that according to Mr. Monty, "wouldn`t be citizenship but would allow them to be here without fear of deportation."

Donald Trump`s initial surge in the polls in the Republican primaries was based on racism, bigotry and hatred of President Obama.

With over 60 percent of Trump supporters believing Donald Trump`s lie that President Obama is not a natural-born citizen.

And 66 percent of them believing that the President Obama is Muslim. The only policy, the only policy position that fueled the start of Donald Trump`s campaign was his treatment of the southern border.

He would build a wall, force Mexico to pay for it, and he would deport all 11 million undocumented people here. Deport those 11 million people to the other side of that wall.

That was the Trump plan until this weekend when Donald Trump told the people in that meeting, that he would not deport 11 million people. Here is Donald Trump`s campaign manager yesterday.


CONWAY: And what he supports is, to make sure that we enforce the law --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will that plan include a deportation force? The kind that he just -- you just heard in that sound bite, and that he talked about during the Republican primaries?

CONWAY: To be determined.


O`DONNELL: And tonight on Donald Trump`s favorite TV show, he completed the reversal of his position on deportation.


TRUMP: We`re going to evade the existing laws. Now, the existing laws are very strong. The existing laws, the first thing we`re going to do, if and when I win, is we`re going to get rid of all of the bad ones.

We got gang members, we have killers, we have a lot of bad people that have to get out of this country. They`re going to be out of this country so fast your head will spin. We have existing laws that allow you to do that.

As far as everybody else, we`re going to go through the process.


O`DONNELL: Go through the process, in other words do exactly what we`re doing now. Donald Trump now has no intention of hiring a deportation force. He has no intention of doing any more deportation cases than the Obama administration has done.

And tonight, for the first time ever, Donald Trump credited the Obama administration with having deported a lot of people.

Which it has, the Obama administration has deported more immigrants than any other presidential administration.

Donald Trump once praised the mass deportations to Mexico carried out during the Eisenhower administration, but tonight with his best friend on television, Donald Trump condemned President Eisenhower`s mass deportations.


TRUMP: Put them in a detention center --

BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS: All right, so, you wouldn`t do that --

TRUMP: You will find out --

O`REILLY: You`d keep them in their home --

TRUMP: Who these people -- no, I never said, I never even heard the term. I`m not going to put them in a detention center --


O`REILLY: Well --

TRUMP: No --

O`REILLY: You cited --

TRUMP: No --

O`REILLY: Dwight Eisenhower --

TRUMP: Probably --

O`REILLY: Mr. Trump, you cited --

TRUMP: Well --

O`REILLY: Dwight Eisenhower --

TRUMP: Dwight Eisenhower, but that was --

O`REILLY: On this program --

TRUMP: A lot -- it was in 1952 --

O`REILLY: Right --

TRUMP: Who, by the way, deported tremendous numbers --


O`REILLY: Well, he rounded them up --

TRUMP: I mean, he did do that.

O`REILLY: He took them out --

TRUMP: Yes --

O`REILLY: And so when you cited him as an example of someone that you --

TRUMP: No --

O`REILLY: Would emulate, that`s --

TRUMP: I said that --

O`REILLY: What the conclusion is.

TRUMP: Yes, I said that it`s something that has been done at a very strong manner, I don`t agree with that, I`m not talking about detention centers.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Maria Teresa Kumar, president and CEO of Voto Latino and an Msnbc contributor.

Robert Traynham, Republican strategist and an Msnbc political contributor, and Cornell Belcher; President of Brilliant Corners Research and Strategies and a former pollster for Obama 2012. So, Maria Teresa, he does not approve of what Dwight Eisenhower did as of tonight.

MARIA TERESA KUMAR, PRESIDENT, VOTO LATINO: Right, and then if you saw his speech in Ohio, he basically said -- he doubled down. He said that he was going to build that wall. His first political ad on Friday was how he`s going to round up undocumented people and send them back.

But he`s going to -- and it was very reminiscent of sharing angles ad that ran in Nevada against Senator Reid, that basically brought out the Latino community, very reminiscent, the ad of what -- Wilson came out.

And basically again solidified California as a blue state. Donald Trump, I don`t think realizes that Latinos speak English, and that`s why he keeps going back and forth. But we speak both and we are very keenly aware of what his agenda is.

And that is trying to sway the independent voter that does not like the fact that he`s been increasingly racist. They don`t -- may not like Hillary Clinton, but they`re like, shoot, can I really vote for this guy?

O`DONNELL: Robert Traynham, is this the final turn in the immigration story with Donald Trump? That`s the question, I mean -- and on the wall by the way, it`s no longer in his speeches, he only says it when the audience yells it to him, build the wall, build the wall.

Then he goes off prompter and he mentions the wall, but his campaign staff has taken any reference to the wall out of his speeches.

It`s up to the audience to create it. So, where are we with the wall? Where are we with deportation? And is where we are tonight with Trump where we`re going to be next week on these subjects --



TRAYNHAM: Question first, we don`t know --

O`DONNELL: I just asked the easy part of the question --

TRAYNHAM: Yes, I mean, here is what we know. We know that Donald Trump is going to continue to be unpredictable.

We also know that he loves speaking extraneously(ph), and we also know the reason why he loves speaking extraneously(ph) is so that he can feed off the crowd.

And to the point, Lawrence, is that the crowd wants to hear build that wall, build that wall, build that wall. But we know the reality is that it`s not just that simple.

We know that Donald Trump doesn`t really speak -- he speaks declaratively, but he doesn`t speak specifically about what that wall really means and how you`re actually going to build that wall.

We know that`s just simply not possible. What`s also is very interesting here is that Kellyanne Conway, who is actually a really good friend of mine, I`ve known her for many years. She`s a pollster.

She`s not a campaign operative in the true sense of the word. She`s not like a Karl Rove or a Ken Melvin or a Robby Mook.

So, she`s probably looking at this through focused groups as she should. And she`s probably looking at this from a polling standpoint and Cornell can speak to this better than I can.

But she`s trying to change the messaging if you will, but the reality is that the substance of Donald Trump is still the same. They`re trying to put lipstick on a pig here -- out there, not just Republicans by the way.

But independents are saying we`re not going to buy this can of whatever you want to call it, that`s known as Donald Trump. It`s just not real.

O`DONNELL: Cornell, it seems that following his pollster campaign manager`s advice, he is trying to reach out and try to do something about his terrible score with Hispanic voters, with black voters.

But in order to do that, he`s at least for the moment reversing a major policy position of his that could lose him votes in the base. So, is there a way for him to increase his outreach to other voters without giving up some of the voters who got him started?

CORNELL BELCHER, PRESIDENT, BRILLIANT CORNERS & STRATEGIES: Well, Lawrence, first, I want to thank you for having me here tonight because I was sitting around -- I had, you know, nothing else to do. I was sitting around in squalor, uneducated, unemployed, which is part of the Trump pitch to African-Americans.

You know, it is -- I got to sort of agree with Robert on this, I think it`s about assuaging moderate voters. I mean, if you look at his pitch to African-Americans, you look at his pitch to Hispanic voters, you`d have to think that Hispanic and African-American voters are going to forget what has happened for the entire year.

Where he`s been very bombastic about sort of, you know, anti-immigration, you know, you know, showing, you know, racist tendencies, xenophobic, you know, pushing xenophobic and devices sort of policies and feeding into that.

We`d have to sort of say, all of a sudden, OK, I don`t remember what`s happened in the last year, and all of a sudden trust him that he is going to do a better job than Democrats on reforming immigration.

I don`t think this is really about, you know, winning over Hispanic voters. I think it`s about -- to Robert`s point, I think this is about, you know, you have a middle -- a middle moderate swap of American voters, wide American voters who are uncomfortable with the ideal of supporting someone who is a racist.

And I think this is about inoculating some of that.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to Donald Trump`s new pitch to African-Americans and Latinos, which is, it could fit on a bumper sticker. It`s -- what have you got to lose? Let`s listen to this.


TRUMP: Crime, all of the problems to the African-Americans who I employ so many, so many people. To the Hispanics, tremendous people -- what the hell do you have to lose? Give me a chance --


I`ll straighten it out, I`ll straighten it out.


O`DONNELL: What do you have to lose?

KUMAR: Our safety.


And I mean that seriously. We have so many incidents of young kids coming home crying to their parents, saying, when Donald Trump is going to get deport my classmate, says that I`m going to get deported when he gets elected.

There are nine-year-old, six-year-old American kids, the amount of turmoil that he`s causing at the local community level is getting the Latino community, the Muslim community, Asian community really frightened to be secure.

So the idea that this man is going to be our next president, not only can he get guarantee increase turmoil in the United States, but for sure you can guarantee increased turmoil worldwide.

TRAYNHAM: Lawrence --

O`DONNELL: Marlon Marshall of the Clinton campaign issued a statement tonight in response to this saying, "it could not be clearer how much African-Americans have to lose under Donald Trump.

He`s doubling down on insults, fear and stereotypes that set our community back and further divide our country. But again, this is not surprising.

This is a man who questions the citizenship of the first African-American president, has a disturbing pattern of courting white supremacist and has been sued for housing discrimination against communities of color."

And Robert, those are all things that the Trump campaign would need people to forget in order to pick up support in these communities.

TRAYNHAM: Lawrence, I have a question in that statement. Can we actually -- can we -- can anyone believe that we`re actually having this conversation about a presidential candidate?

I`ll remind everyone that on Cinco de Mayo, Donald Trump tweeted a picture of himself, saying, I love -- and I`m quoting him.

"I love the Mexican", then he had a Taco salad in front of him. And I remind everyone that seven and a half years ago, he was the one who said that he would pay a million dollars if President Obama can find his birth certificate and questioned our president`s -- basically his legitimacy to be president and also his legitimacy to be an American.

I mean, I don`t understand why we are even having a serious conversation about someone that is polling at 0 percent with African-Americans, I have no idea what he`s polling with Latinos.

But this is someone who says, oh, there`s my African-American friend out there, there he is, here, he`s my friend. And he says it so -- almost -- I don`t think he`s being mean. I don`t think this is any malicious here. This is what he thinks.

And this is the true authentic candidate that is running for the presidency of the United States, and we really have to ask ourselves the question, take the Republican label off, take the Democratic label off, is this what we want in the White House?

Is this who we want to represent us? Is this the person that`s going to bring us together when he tweets about these type of incidents and talks about Latinos and African-Americans and women and people with disabilities? I mean, let`s just have that conversation.

O`DONNELL: I want to go back to the first thing Cornell said which is about the state of life in America for black people today. And let`s listen to Donald Trump`s depiction of that.


TRUMP: It is a disaster the way African-Americans are living, in many cases -- and in many cases the way Hispanics are living. And I say it with such a deep-felt feeling what do you have to lose?

We`ll get rid of the crime, you`ll be able to walk down the street without getting shot. Right now, you walk down the street, you get shot.


O`DONNELL: Cornell, your reply to Mr. Trump.

BELCHER: Well, it is such a disconnect. It`s such a -- it`s such a tremendous disconnect from the realities of what black and brown life is.

Is that he is really sort of feeding into the most ignorant stereotypes about black and brown people that gives comfort to his base.

I mean, look, you know, most black people aren`t gang bangers, most black people aren`t living in poverty, most black people aren`t unemployed, and you know what we really don`t need, we don`t need someone like Donald Trump to come save us.

You know, we`re doing a pretty good job striving, pushing our agenda, moving forward our own. We don`t need Donald Trump to come save us. We don`t need a great white hope to save us, but thank you.

KUMAR: Well, and something really -- what really perturbs me about Donald Trump right now among other things is the fact that he`s like I`m reaching out to your community, but at the same time I`m going to send my thugs to make sure that you`re not voting improperly, right?


KUMAR: So, he`s actually not bringing anybody together, he`s speaking in code and constantly dividing Americans.

O`DONNELL: Maria Teresa Kumar, Robert Traynham and Cornell Belcher, thank you all for joining us tonight, appreciate it.

TRAYNHAM: Thank you --

KUMAR: Thank you, Lawrence --

BELCHER: Thank you.

TRAYNHAM: Coming up, front page report in the "New York Times" shows that Donald Trump has much more debt than he has admitted to, including a massive debt to the Bank of China.

What would it mean to the Bank -- Bank of China by the way is controlled by the Chinese government. What would it mean to have a president who is financially indebted to China?


O`DONNELL: OK, here is one little fact that the commercial break did not allow us to squeeze into the last segment where I wanted it. George Wallace, segregationist candidate running for president in 1968 actually got 3 percent of the African-American vote.

Donald Trump polling lower than that right now. Up next, Bill Clinton announced a big change in his relationship to the Clinton Foundation today while Donald Trump attacked the foundation in a new way.


O`DONNELL: Today, Bill Clinton said that if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency, "I will step down from the board and no longer raise funds for the Clinton Foundation."

That statement came after last week`s announcement by the foundation that if Hillary Clinton is elected president, then the Clinton Foundation will no longer accept the contributions from what it called corporations or foreign entities.

These announcements about the Clinton Foundation came after the "Boston Globe" last week in an editorial said the foundation should remove a political and actual distraction and stop accepting funding. If Clinton is elected, the foundation should be shut down.

The "Boston Globe" endorsed Hillary Clinton in the primaries this year and will surely endorse her again in the general election no matter what the Clintons decide to do about the foundation.

A week ago, before the "Boston Globe" editorial, long-time Clinton supporter and former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell said this: "I definitely think if she wins the presidency, they have to disband it.

I know it will be hard for President Clinton because he cares very deeply about what the foundation has done.

It will be impossible to keep the foundation open without at least the appearance of a problem." Now, having had a chance to confer with the Clinton campaign about this, Ed Rendell this morning amended his earlier remarks.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should there be a wall between the Clintons and any fundraising going forward?

ED RENDELL, FORMER PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNOR: Yes, I think so, absolutely. I would set up the strongest Chinese wall they could.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could it be turned over to partners or people the Clintons trust to run for the next four or eight years if the secretary becomes president without any of her knowledge of who is contributing?

RENDELL: Yes, I think that can be done.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Jonathan Chait, columnist for "New York Magazine", Jonathan`s new column is entitled "Hillary Clinton`s Ethics Problems are Worse than She Understands". You wrote extensively about the foundation. Jonathan, how do you see it?

JONATHAN CHAIT, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: I think the "Boston Globe" editorial had it right, and I think Ed Rendell had it right the first time he made his comments and before they maybe had a little chat with him.

Look, the purpose of the Clinton Foundation is a very positive one. The purpose is to leverage the thing with the Clintons into raising money for charity. But the problem is that it has a side effect.

The side effect is that rich people who want the favor of the Clintons for any kind of public policy know that they can get that favor by giving money to the Clinton Foundation.

If you give money to the Clinton Foundation, then you`re one of those people, then you`re at the front of the line for a meeting, for a post, for whatever it is you`re after.

Now, it doesn`t mean that it`s necessarily corrupt, but it`s just not the kind of public policy you really want your president to be having.

And I think it`s a bigger political problem than the Clinton campaign really seems to be aware of.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to the way Donald Trump is talking about this now. This is what he said --

CHAIT: Yes --

O`DONNELL: Tonight.


TRUMP: Her foundation took in large payments from major corporations, and wealthy individuals, foreign and domestic.

The Clintons made the State Department into the same kind of pay-for-play operation as the Arkansas government was.

The amounts involved, the favor is done and the significant number of times it was done, require an expedited investigation by a special prosecutor immediately.


O`DONNELL: Jonathan, one of the points you make in your piece is that one of --

CHAIT: Yes --

O`DONNELL: The reasons you suspect Hillary Clinton and the Clinton campaign don`t understand the way this plays is that they believe that the Clintons have done nothing wrong. Therefore, nothing really needs to be corrected. But your argument is about the perception of this.

CHAIT: Well, it`s the perception of this and the possibility for real conflicts to arise from this foundation and public policy.

And part of the problem is -- as you just saw, their critics are often hysterical and they`re often hypocritical.

And Donald Trump is one of the most flamboyantly corrupt people ever to seek high office in the United States.

So, it`s easier for them to say as they are saying, well, look at Donald Trump and look at all his problems, they`re so much bigger and they`re right.

But that can`t be the standard that you hold yourself to. You can`t just be much better than your opponents. And you can`t just rely on the fact that your opponents often go completely overboard. You need to look at yourself and you need to say are we doing everything the right way?

And in this instance they`re not.

O`DONNELL: You know, when I think of Jay Rockefeller senator from West Virginia and the great enormous Rockefeller Foundation that he had no connection to, really, as he --

CHAIT: Right --

O`DONNELL: Was a senator. But that is such a different thing. That was the Rockefeller family --

CHAIT: Yes --

O`DONNELL: Giving away their money, not taking --

CHAIT: Right --

O`DONNELL: Contributions from anyone. And so, Governor Rockefeller in New York, Senator Rockefeller in West Virginia, they had nothing to do with taking in contributions to this thing.

CHAIT: That`s exactly right, and that`s where the problem comes in. The problem comes in that they`re in a position of asking favors from powerful people. Now, it`s not a personal favor.

It`s not like the speeches that they were giving to these business interests, it`s a favor for this foundation. But when you ask someone a favor, that person is going to feel owed, and that`s a problem in government.

O`DONNELL: And what about the notion that if you`re going to change this practice in the presidency, why not change it right now?

CHAIT: That`s exactly right. Why not change it right now? Why not change it during the campaign when there`s still the same leverage point of a charitable foundation. I just don`t see how anything like this foundation can continue.

If you want to turn these programs over to some other charitable foundation, you could do that. But as long as there`s a world in which someone says if I give money to this cause, maybe I can get my call returned from Hillary Clinton.

Maybe I can get, you know, this meeting or this post, that`s something they can`t accept.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan Chait, thank you very much for joining us tonight --

CHAIT: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the "New York Times" report on Donald Trump`s debt including a debt to China. The reporter who broke the story will join us along with David Kay Johnston, the author of a new book about Donald Trump`s business dealings.

And later, Hillary Clinton`s new TV ad stars Donald Trump, that`s in tonight`s campaign war room.



DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hillary Clinton is only right about one thing, I understand debt and how to handle it. I made a fortune with debt. But debt for this country is a disaster and Obama has piled it on and she`s been there watching.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, THE LAST WORLD HOST: The lead story on the front page of the Sunday "New York Times" reports Donald Trump is carrying much more debt than he has publicly admitted to. Donald Trump acknowledge $315 million in his federal financial discloser forums. But the "New York Times" found that companies he owns have at least $650 million in debt. Among the lenders he owes millions to are the Bank of China, one of the largest banks in the country that Mr. Trump has railed against as an economic foe of the United States, and Goldman Sachs, a financial institution he has said controls Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee after, it paid her $675,000 in speaking fees.

Tim Kaine used the "Times" report on the campaign trail.


SEN. TIM KAINE, (D) VIRGINIA): This is who Donald Trump is in hoc to. The state-owned Bank of China. Think about, Trump`s never mentioned a word of this. We only know because a news newspaper did some digging into his complicated financial situation.


O`DONNELL: And here`s how Donald Trump responded to the "New York Times" piece this morning.


TRUMP: Since a very small amount of debt. I have very little debt relative of the asset. I have massive assets. Now, the smart people that read that story thought it was a good story. Some people didn`t understand the story, but when you get to $300 million or $600 million, when you have massive buildings and big assets that`s a very small amount of money. I have very little debt.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Susanne Craig the "New York Times" reporter who wrote the piece on Donald Trump`s debt, and also with us David Cay Johnston a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, columnist for Daily best, his new book, the making of Donald Trump is currently on the "New York Times," best seller list.

Susanne, this is really exhaustive piece on this. To Donald Trump`s point there that he said this mornings, I have very little debt. What`s your reaction to that?

SUSANNE CRAIG, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, it comes down to, and I think what he`s saying, I`m worth so much so I have very little debt. The struggle that we went through after all of this has been brought up. You know I grasp at least, you know, when they came to it at least $650 million number. We`ve never been able to independently verify how much he`s worth.

O`DONNELL: And that`s the problem. So he says .

CRAIG: And that`s a struggle.

O`DONNELL: . when he says they have very little debt. It`s little debt out of how much, how big is the package and we have no idea.

CRAIG: No, we don`t and he won`t have allow for independent evaluation. And the other thing that the story focused on was just simple that the relationships behind the lending. We found that at least 650 million. And then separately he`s got three private partnerships where it was harder to sort of, you know, breathe in and try to get in to that and who is behind those and what are the partnership agreements say.

These are three buildings where he`s got substantial loans on. He owns 30 percent on two of them to Bank of China and Goldman Sachs, German American capital corporate Suisse Deutscher Banker are among the lenders. He`s not directly responsible for the debt. But the buildings he has lot debt on them and these are the lenders on him.

And then separately on the form there were some debt that we found that he didn`t disclose. It`s all not that he parameters of what he`s asking to disclose, but there`s a lot of just staff out there where there`s a lot of relations that will hard to ascertain, he`ll be entering the White House, you know, if he`s elected, and the question is just, you know, who has his ear and who are the people who has these, not surprising he owns a big business.

There`s a lot of relationships, but a lot of them are just really hard to get out and I think a lot of more sunlight should be brought to this issue. And that`s sort of what we came to the conclusion of after months of working on this.

O`DONNELL: David he has had trouble managing his debt in the past. He took on way too much debt in Atlantic City and what`s why things cashed for him.

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, THE DAILY BEAST: Yes, while Donald we found out in 1990 he had $900 million debt on his signature. That`s one heck of a big credit charge. So I think what`s astonishing here in this extraordinary piece of work with Susuanne`s done and dugout what she was able to get is, imagine if President Obama had so much as car loan or mortgage on his Chicago mansion from a communist Chinese bank.

And what would Fox News be doing 24 hours a day, what would the "Wall Street Journal" editorial page be saying about this.

And we really need a full count. We know that Obama -- I`m sorry, we know that Trump has received millions of millions of dollars Russian Oligarchs. We can connect him in various ways to them. We don`t understand the depth of those connections. We have never had, before, a presidential candidate who`s in hoc to the Chinese communist government in Beijing, and who is receiving money, large sums of money from the leader in Moscow.

O`DONNELL: And Susanne, we`ve never had a transparency problem as severe as this. I mean, if people who are concerned about, for example our previews segment, you know, the content foundation. Well, it clear who`s contributing there. You can track things and you can feed your suspicions with that or not. But here -- without the work you have -- have done. Part of this, we had no idea. We didn`t even have even a hint about any of these relationships.

CRAIG: I mean it`s really difficult. You`ve got a financial disclosure from him that`s filled out and there`s a lot of information on it. But once you start digging, you realize there`s all these other information and it just -- the transparency issues really frustrating because I think sunlight is a great disinfectant and if you just lay it out there. Then we can see and we can, you know, make our own determination about we should be concerned about.

But there such so much left behind the curtain on this, there`s private partnerships that he`s involved with. We don`t know the terms. We don`t the pressure being brought to bear there. There is lending relationships and some of the loans are public that he did disclose. His disclose, you know, he`ll say it`s -- greater than 50 million and the loan is actually, you know, 160 million. In the case of one loan we didn`t know to draw it down. You know we founded out through reporting and went to Trump organization. It was a construction loan on his post office. But it just all these information is just hard to gather.

And then separately, you know, in a big, you know, the big question over hang a lot of his campaign is just taxes. He won`t release his tax returns. He could release them. He decided not too, you know, from his point of view I don`t blame him from the rest of the country`s point of view. I think it`s hugely important that he does release them so that we can have a better understanding of who`s got ear and who potentially could influence him.

In the White House, this is a person who will be -- have huge, huge influence over public policy. He will be picking the next treasury secretary of the United States, like this is -- it`s very important and you look at just how significant that is when economics situations scene that I`ve covered the 2008 financial crisis. When, you know, when things go sideways, you want to have -- you want to know what the pressures that are being brought to bear on these politicians and who`s got their year end and who, you know, just all the strengths behind the scenes. And then you want to at least have a better understanding of them when we do now.

O`DONNELL: How long to take you do this report?

CRAIG: About three months.

O`DONNELL: Three months. David the -- Donald Trump is in Goldman Sachs a loan for tens of million of dollars. And he says Hillary Clinton completely corrupted by Goldman Sachs for $650,000.

JOHNSTON: He can`t make this stuff up. It`s just remarkable that he`s in ad hoc to Goldman Sachs. But Hillary is the one who`s corrupt. And Donald is also ad hoc to Deutsch Bank. Now many of the illegal tax shelters that I expose and wrote about when I was at the New York Times where Deutsch Bank tax shelters. Deutsch Bank has gone out of its way to damage the American economy for profits. And Donald Trump relies on them as a lender. So we really need to understand his finances and he has no excuse for not releasing by his own standard, his tax returns from 1978 through 2008 because he says the audits on those are close.

O`DONNELL: David Cay Johnston, thanks for joining us again tonight. Susanne Craig, thank you very much. Amazing piece of work, really important. Thank you.

Coming up, Hillary Clinton`s new T.V. ad stars Donald Trump. And a Trump campaign is finally ready with it`s first T.V. ad of the general election.


O`DONNELL: Finally, the TV ad war is underway in the presidential campaign because Donald Trump can finally afford some TV advertising. We`ll show you the new ads. But first, here is how it looked today on the campaign trail.


KAINE: It`s been a season of surprises.

TRUMP: I am with you. I will fight for you. And I will win for you.

KAINE: I believe in her. I trust her I trust her values. I support her candidacy.

GOV. MIKE PENCE, (R) VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: It`s time for Hillary Clinton to come clean about the foundation, shutdown the Clinton foundation right now.

TRUMP: Now, issue better illustrates how corrupt my opponent is than her play for play scandals as secretary of state.

KAINE: Before you go about attacking a charity, why don`t you come clean about your own business dealings and tell the American people who you are in debt too.

TRUMP: I put up my money folks, you know what, if I don`t make it, I wasted a lot of money time and energy that I can tell you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I had more trust in him than any other candidate.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He represents the people.

KAINE: He`s got a track record when people believe him, people get hurt.

TRUMP: To African-Americans, to the Hispanics, what the hell do you have to lose? Give me a chance.

KAINE: Don`t get tricked by Trump.



O`DONNELL: Howard Dean is here and he`ll join us next as he takes a look at the new T.V. ads on the campaign. We`re going to do that on the Last Word, "war room."


O`DONNELL: Times of time for tonight`s campaign "war room" Hillary Clinton`s campaign released this new ad today.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In times of crisis, America depends on steady leadership.

TRUMP: Knock the crap out of them, would you, seriously.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clear your thinking.

TRUMP: I know more about ISIS than the general`s belief me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And calm judgment.

TRUMP: And you can tell them to go (inaudible) themselves.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because all it takes is one wrong move.

TRUMP: I would bomb the (inaudible) out of him.



O`DONNELL: Clinton campaign this week reserved another $80 million of TV advertising time on top of $61 million that had spend on ads since June. The Trump campaign has now made its ad by spending only $5 million to air this ad.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In Hillary Clinton`s America, the system stays rigged against Americans. Syrian refugees flood in. Illegal immigrants convicted of committing crimes get to stay, collecting social security benefits, skipping the line. Our border open. It`s more of the same, but worst. Donald Trump`s American is secure. Terrorist and dangerous criminals, kept out. The boarders secure. Our families, safe. Change that makes America safe gain. Donald Trump for president.


O`DONNELL: With 77 days left from the presidential campaign war room. Joining us tonight on the Last Word war room is Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont, former DNC Chairman and Hillary Clinton`s supporter.

What`s your read? First of all, of the Hillary Clinton ad, basically a commander-in-chief ad?

HOWARD DEAN, FMR. DNC CHAIRMAN: The Hillary Clinton ad, you know, I`m obviously I`m a support of Hillary. But it`s incredibly effective, because it goes right to the doubt that most people have even in the Republican Party a significant member have about whether Donald Trump is fit to be president of the United States and commander-in-chief. So, I think it`s very effective to ad.

O`DONNELL: And what about that Trump ad?

DEAN: I don`t think it`s very good for Trump, it`s good for us. First of all it`s not well done. I think the production value is low. The announcer seems like he`s sort of not all -- it doesn`t do anything for you. And the problem is, from a political point of view is aimed at his base. Well, his base is going to vote for him no whatever happens.

As he said somebody -- I can shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue and my -- they would still vote for me. That`s not good enough. He`s at the point now where he needs to expand that by significantly or he`s not going to win.

O`DONNELL: The Clinton campaign tweeted this about Donald Trump`s first TV ad that he just saw. "In case you thought for a second Trump was genuine about feeling regrets, he is back to demonizing immigrants again in his new ad today." And that goes to your point Howard that the ad is not reaching - - it doesn`t seem to me to be targeted at anyone who wasn`t already voted for Donald Trump.

DEAN: That exactly right. And he also -- if he did get anywhere as reaching out to African-American and Hispanics which I don`t think he did in his one day of Maricopa (ph). He undid it now. Everybody sees those ads. Not just Donald Trumps base.

And look, in Donald Trumps huge problem in this race is that whatever he says to appeals to his base turns off a large number of other voters so that he cannot win the presidency. He only appeals to this base. That`s what that ad does. It reminds him that he can`t stand immigrants. He can`t stand Muslims et cetera, et cetera.

O`DONNELL: Let`s take a look at what the Clinton super PAC is also doing in their TV ad campaign.


TRUMP: You got to see this guy. Ah, I don`t know what I said. I don`t remember. He`s go like I don`t know remember .

Putting a wife to work is a very dangerous thing. I don`t want to sound too much like a chauvinist.

You have to be wealthy in order to be great. I`m sorry to say it.

He`s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren`t captured.


O`DONNELL: That`s one of the things that the Clinton campaign has that the Trump campaigner though has doesn`t have effectively going forward as super PAC advertising.

DEAN: Yeah, that is a devastating ad. It reminds every American that Donald Trump does have the value of the vast majority of Americans and he doesn`t have the values of what American is all about. The first ad is more effective in the sense that it scares people and makes people realize that Trump shouldn`t be president.

This ad is devastating because it says this is a guy who doesn`t share our values as a nation, you can`t have a president like that and we won`t if that ad gets the kind of play in the swing states that I think it`s going to.

O`DONNELL: What about this huge imbalance in the campaigns capacities to do TV advertising. Donald Trump, $5 million is all they have to go with him right now.

DEAN: Yeah. One of the things that confused me is the reporting on how much money each candidate has raised. My understanding, not from the prince stories because this isn`t what the prince stories say. Is that the vast majority of Trump`s money is actually going to the RNC not to Trump, but his not doing that much fundraising.

So I`m a little confused about what who`s running what ads and because if the run RNC is running these ads and Trumps in this position 20 days from now the RNC is going to take that money and put him to the Senate in the House raises.

O`DONNELL: Howard Dean, thank you very much for joining us now. I really appreciate it.

DEAN: Thanks a lot..

O`DONNELL: Remember that promise that Donald Trump made about something his wife was going to do? Well, she hasn`t done that yet. That`s next.



TRUMP: Oh, and by the way, they said my wife Melania might have come in illegally, can you believe that one? No, no, no, they said headlines maybe she came in illegally maybe -- let me tell you one thing, she has got it so documented, so she`s going to have a news conference over the next couple of weeks, that`s good, that`s good. I love it, I love it.

They Melania Trump may have come in to our country illegally and how would that be for Donald Trump.


O`DONNELL: So, she`s going to have a little news conference over the next couple of weeks. That`s exactly two weeks ago that Donald Trump told that lie. That his wife would have a press conference which she`s obviously never going to have leaving open the question, "Did she come to this country illegally"?

A live edition of Hardball with Chris Matthews is next.