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The Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 9/8/2018

Guests: Howard Dean, David Frum, Tom Nichols, David Cay Johnston, Mike Murphy, Steve Hildebrand, Annie Linskey

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: September 8, 2016 Guest: Howard Dean, David Frum, Tom Nichols, David Cay Johnston, Mike Murphy, Steve Hildebrand, Annie Linskey

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: And 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: North Korea, perhaps presenting another challenge to the next commander-in-chief.

MADDOW: Exactly, absolutely, thanks, Lawrence --

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel --

MADDOW: Yes --

O`DONNELL: Well, there are surely some things that the President of the United States has to do that Donald Trump could actually do. I mean, he could sign his name to bills that pass the Congress, and I`m sure he could veto bills.

It`s not clear what else he would actually know how to do as president of the United States. But what he proved last night, proved beyond a reasonable doubt, proved on a decommissioned aircraft carrier, which is the closest he has ever been to military experience.

What he proved there is that he absolutely could not assume the duties of being commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the United States of America.


HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE & DEMOCRATIC NOMINEE FOR 2016 ELECTION: Last night was yet another test and Donald Trump failed.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don`t think the guy is qualified to be president of the United States.

TRUMP: The generals have been reduced to rubble.

OBAMA: Every time he speaks, that opinion is confirmed.

CLINTON: He praised Russia`s strong man Vladimir Putin.

TRUMP: He`s been a leader far more than our president has been a leader --

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER, UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: Vladimir Putin is an aggressor that does not share interest.

CLINTON: I think the Republicans there are just in a terrible dilemma trying to support a totally unqualified nominee.

RYAN: I`m not going to be the election-year pundit commenting on all these little things.

CLINTON: I have no sympathy for them, it`s their nominee.

JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is not your father`s Republican Party.

CLINTON: What would Ronald Reagan say about a Republican nominee who attacks America`s generals and he`s praised Russia`s president.

OBAMA: Somehow behavior that in normal times we would consider completely unacceptable and outrageous becomes normalized. People start thinking that we should be grading on a curve.


O`DONNELL: It should never be forgotten that Donald Trump launched his political career with a lie. A lie about President Obama.


TRUMP: There`s a real question about the birth certificate. There`s a real question about the -- his own -- his own citizenship.


O`DONNELL: That was a double lie. He lied about President Obama being born outside the United States. And then he went on to tell more lies. He lied about sending people to Hawaii to investigate that.

Donald Trump never sent anyone to Hawaii because he knew there was nothing to investigate. No matter how many times Donald Trump was asked about what his investigators found in Hawaii, he never ever answered that question.


TRUMP: I have people that actually have been studying it and they cannot believe what they`re finding.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have people now down there --

TRUMP: Absolutely --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Searching -- I mean in Hawaii?

TRUMP: Absolutely, and they cannot believe what they`re finding.


O`DONNELL: That`s it. That`s the most that the pathological liar ever said. They cannot believe what they`re finding. Donald Trump knows how not to answer a question as he just showed you.

For five years now he`s refused to say a word about what his mythical detectives found in Hawaii. And now that he`s a presidential candidate, he refuses to say anything anymore about President Obama`s birth.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don`t talk about the birth certificate any more. Do you regret even bringing it up?

TRUMP: I don`t talk about it anymore. I don`t talk about it anymore --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you regret bringing it up back then?

TRUMP: I told you, I don`t talk about it anymore.


O`DONNELL: That was Friday, don`t talk about it anymore. Last night in a forum where the presidential candidates were offered an opportunity to demonstrate their ability to assume the role of commander-in-chief for the Armed Forces of the United States.

Matt Lauer asked Donald Trump about the only thing that has ever happened to Donald Trump in his 70 years on this earth that in any way resembles even a moment of the work of the commander-in-chief.


MATT LAUER, JOURNALIST: You recently received two intelligence briefings.

TRUMP: Yes, I did.


O`DONNELL: Those two intelligence briefings are the only things that have ever occurred in Donald Trump`s life that resemble what happens in the workday of a president. And what you just heard is all Donald Trump should have said publicly about those intelligence briefings.

He should have said something to the effect, that yes, I received those briefings, but I`m not going to comment in any way on anything that was discussed in those briefings. He knows how not to comment.

Just ask him about the birth certificate these days, see what happens. He should have just shut Matt Lauer off right there, but Matt Lauer wasn`t finished and Donald Trump foolishly followed where Matt Lauer led him.

Now, there are two things that can happen at a commander-in-chief forum. You can demonstrate that you`re fit for the role of commander-in-chief, or you can demonstrate that you are unfit.

And so Matt Lauer, without angrily browbeating the candidate, in effect got the Republican nominee for president to admit what his opponents have been saying about him, to in effect plead guilty as charged by President Obama and Hillary Clinton.

And the Republican "Never Trump" movement and the long list of former Republican foreign policy and defense officials who have accused Donald Trump of being unfit to be commander-in-chief.

Donald Trump didn`t even struggle here. He just confessed. He just confessed that he can`t be trusted with intelligence briefings, he cannot perform the role of commander-in-chief.


LAUER: Did anything in that briefing, without going into specifics, shock or alarm you?

TRUMP: Yes, very much so --

LAUER: Did you learn new things --

TRUMP: First of all --

LAUER: In that briefing? --

TRUMP: I have great respect for the people that gave us the briefings. We were -- they were terrific people. They were experts on Iraq and Iran and different parts of -- and Russia.

But yes, there was one thing that shocked me and it just seems to me that what they said, President Obama and Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, who is another total disaster, did exactly the opposite.

LAUER: Did you learn anything in that briefing, again, not going into specifics that makes you reconsider some of the things you say you can accomplish like defeating ISIS quickly?

TRUMP: No, I didn`t learn anything from that standpoint, what I did learn is that our leadership, Barack Obama did not follow what our experts and our truly -- when they call it intelligence, it`s there for a reason, what our experts said to do.


TRUMP: And I was very surprised in almost every instance. And I could tell, I am pretty good with the body language, I could tell they were not happy. Our leaders did not follow what they were recommending.


O`DONNELL: As many of you saw last night at this hour, my first reaction to what Donald Trump said there was that he had crossed the line. But I`m not an intelligence professional.

General Michael Hayden is. He`s the only person who have served as the head of the CIA and the NSA. He said, "I did intelligence off and on for almost four decades and I have never seen anything like this before.

A political candidate has used professional intelligence officers briefing him in a totally nonpolitical setting as props to buttress an argument for his political campaign. And actually his political point was actually imputed to them.

Not even something they allegedly said. The I can read body language line was quite remarkable and thereby Mr. Trump created an alleged fact that was useful for him in the moment.

I am confident Director Clapper sent senior professionals to this meeting, and so I am equally confident that no such body language ever existed.

It`s simply not what we do. Michael Morell, a former acting director of the CIA was actually in charge of the daily briefings of the president during George W. Bush`s administration. He said this today.

"This is the first time I can remember a candidate for president doing a read out from an intelligence briefing, and it`s the first time a candidate has politicized their intelligence briefing. Both of those are highly inappropriate and crossed a long-standing red line respected by both parties.

To me, this is just the most recent example that underscores that this guy is unfit to be commander-in-chief."

O`DONNELL: At a brief press conference this morning, Hillary Clinton said this.


CLINTON: I think what he said was totally inappropriate and undisciplined. I would never comment on any aspect of an intelligence briefing that I receive.


O`DONNELL: And today, President Obama kept it simple on the other side of the Pacific Ocean in Laos when he was asked about Donald Trump.


OBAMA: I don`t think the guy is qualified to be president of the United States, and every time he speaks, that opinion is confirmed.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Howard Dean, former governor of Vermont, former DNC Chairman and a Hillary Clinton supporter, he`s also an Msnbc political analyst.

Also with us David Frum, senior editor for "The Atlantic". Howard Dean, the forum was about are you ready to be commander-in-chief? What I got on Donald Trump was a clear and convincing verdict that he is not.

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER VERMONT GOVERNOR: I think that`s true, and I think that`s widely shared. Michael Hayden is a pretty conservative hardline guy who served Republican presidents. For him to say what he said is pretty stunning.

But it`s true. I actually think Donald Trump is just a crackpot at this point. He`s a guy, he`s very entertaining, he says outrageous things.

The media loves him because he drives the ratings up. But he`s a crackpot and he really has no business in this race at all.

O`DONNELL: Well, let`s listen to retired General Michael Flynn, he was on the "Today Show" with Matt Lauer today.

Now, Michael Flynn was in those security briefings with Donald Trump. Let`s listen to his reaction to what Donald Trump said last night.


MICHAEL FLYNN, RETIRED UNITED STATES ARMY LIEUTENANT GENERAL: The intelligence that we received in the last two briefings were in stark contrast to what the policy decisions that are being --


LAUER: That -- did -- coming up with that deduction in the briefing. Did they look and say something and then --

FLYNN: They said --

LAUER: And then look at him like --

FLYNN: Yes, they --


LAUER: You know, they saw this --

FLYNN: Yes, they would say the intelligence professionals as they should, they would say, well, those are policy decisions.

So, Donald Trump in a very sophisticated way was asking tough questions and they would back off and say that is not our job, those are policy decisions that the -- in this case, the White House is making. And we would sit there and go, OK, we understand.


O`DONNELL: David Frum, what did Mike Flynn just say? I`m not sure I understand it.

DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: He`s saying that they asked questions that were not at all for the purpose of an intelligence briefing and the people running the briefing said those questions are not for the purpose of the briefing.

It`s like going to a dentist and raising questions about your heart. The dentist is going to say, I do teeth. You know, what is -- what is so dismaying from the point of view of a Republican and a conservative, you ended the -- Rachel Maddow ended the last hour with reports of a possible fifth North Korean tests.

The big news and other nonpresidential news, big news today was, looks like there were multiple cash payments to the Iranians by the Obama administration at the time of the release of American detainees.

The situation in -- through the Middle East gets ever more grim and American troops are there and there`s a shooting war.

We`re talking so much about Vladimir Putin losing sight. The fact that there`s a shooting war going on on the European continent.

The first great power shooting war since 1945. This administration is leaving behind a chaotic foreign policy situation. And the out party already making the most of it.

And the idea that instead of pointing to area after area of failure and being able to say this president who did not meet Vladimir Putin with strength.

Instead, we`re sending Vladimir Putin boxes of bourbons and bouquets of flower, as if to say that his -- that we talk about his ferocity and his cruelty, we`re not -- those are not things to admire, those are challenges to America that are not being sufficiently responded to by this administration.

O`DONNELL: Just to clarify, you mean the flowers that Donald Trump is sending to Vladimir Putin.

FRUM: The -- yes, the metaphorical flower.

O`DONNELL: Yes, I mean, I don`t agree with you on the state of foreign affairs, the moment being entire responsibility of the Obama administration. But I want to stay on this briefing for a moment.

"Nbc News" has a report of what actually happened in the Trump briefings, and it is as crazy as you could possibly imagine.

Says a U.S. official pointed out that the intelligence officers don`t give policy advice, so it would be inaccurate to say that Obama failed to follow the advice of the intelligence community.

A second U.S. official said that analysts are trained not to allow their body language to betray their thinking. And the report goes on to say this about what actually happened in the meeting.

It said one of the advisors Trump brought to the briefing, retired General Mike Flynn, who we just saw on the "Today Show" this morning, repeatedly interrupted the briefing with pointed questions, two sources said Chris Christie, the New Jersey governor and Trump adviser verbally restrained Flynn, one saying Christy said shut up, the other reporting he said calm down.

Two other sources said Christie touched Flynn`s arm in an effort to get him to calm down and let the officials continue. And Howard Dean, eventually, Chris Christie and General Flynn both denied that version of events today.

But that`s very strong reporting from "Nbc News" about what`s actually going on inside the briefing room.

DEAN: Well, I don`t think Mike Flynn is probably playing with a full deck either. And I`m going to look into that because I know some people who served with him. And so -- which I`m not of course going to share on Msnbc or any place else.

But there`s something that doesn`t add up here. You know, I have enormous respect for the military in this country. Their achievements have been extraordinary. They`ve served us really well.

And these are adult, thoughtful people who are careful about what they do and say. They have opinions, of course, but they`re really professionals and I -- Flynn, I guess, I don`t know him, but there`s something wrong with him.

And I`ve got to figure it out. I don`t know how he served, but I would like to know under what conditions he had to leave the service.

And I`m going to find that out, but unfortunately that`s not something I`m going to share with viewers when I do.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to something Donald Trump said last night that he has said repeatedly about -- in the Iraq invasion, of course, of course, we should have gone in there to take the oil from Iraq. Let`s listen to this.


TRUMP: If you really look at the aftermath of Iraq, Iran is going to be taking over Iraq, they`ve been doing it and it`s not a pretty picture.

The -- and I think you know because you`ve been watching me, I think, for a long time, I`ve always said, shouldn`t be there, but if we`re going to get out, take the oil.

If we would have taken the oil, you wouldn`t have ISIS because ISIS form with the power and the wealth of that oil.

LAUER: How were we going to take the oil? How were we going to do that?

TRUMP: Just you know, would leave a certain group behind and you would take various sections where they have the oil.


O`DONNELL: David Frum, the field manual of the American war department field manual in 1940 before start of World War II, said that pillaging is absolutely prohibited.

The 2015 Defense Department law of war manual says exactly the same thing, "pillaging is absolutely prohibited".

Seizing property, destroying property absolutely prohibited. That point obviously Donald Trump has no idea that that`s what`s there. But he doesn`t comprehend --


The strategic issue involved either.

FRUM: But is -- what the oil issue -- look, these aren`t chickens or sheep that you`re taking. These are people`s pots and pans. What is involved in -- and could be -- he said he`s giving us an idea of what he means by this.

What he`s talking about is the United States will take a large territory of ground, and somehow have to patrol the perimeter, and then within that would make the massive development in infrastructure that it takes to produce this highly sophisticated commodity.

I mean, you don`t just put a straw in the ground. Oil is an information -- and you -- so, you put billions of dollars of U.S. taxpayer, as we do in this nation, right?

Investment into Iraq while patrolling that with tens of thousands of troops. I mean, why don`t you just buy it? Why don`t you just buy it? That would be cheaper.

O`DONNELL: He actually didn`t even say troops would be involved, he said you would leave a certain group behind, not even identifying what that would be --

FRUM: Well --

O`DONNELL: Total --


FRUM: ISIS is on the rampage, because even with -- they`re taking shots at these oil, if these oil works for us --

O`DONNELL: Right, exactly, total fantasy nonsense --

FRUM: And there are a multi-billion dollars investment. So, you have to have -- you have to have a perimeter, you have to have fencing, and at that point you might as well say, you know, I`m originally -- I am talking from Canada, Canada would be delighted.

There`s a lot of oil here, the price is kind of low right now, they`d be delighted to sell you as much as they can take away.

O`DONNELL: All right, we`re going to have to leave it there, we`ve got a break coming up, David Frum, Howard Dean, thank you very much for joining us tonight, really appreciate it --

DEAN: Thank you --

FRUM: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the Republican nominee for president, Republican nominee for president thinks an undemocratically positioned dictator in effect in Russia is doing a better job of governing and more responsible job of governing than the democratically elected president of the United States.

Coming up in the war room tonight, two seasoned professionals will join us there, real pros talking about what`s happening in the swing states and what it means that the Donald Trump policy staff has completely quit the campaign because the campaign refuses to pay them. How is that going to help going into the debates?


O`DONNELL: At last night`s commander-in-chief forum, Donald Trump was hit with knockout punches that would have wiped out any previous presidential candidate.

But there are different rules for Donald Trump this year as President Obama said today, voters are grading Donald Trump on a curve. That`s next.


O`DONNELL: At last night`s commander-in-chief forum, more than once Matt Lauer delivered what would have been knockout punches for any candidate not named Trump.


LAUER: But let me ask you about some of the things you`ve said about Vladimir Putin. You said, "I will tell you in terms of leadership, he`s getting an A, our president is not doing so well."

And when referring to a comment that Putin made about you, I think he called you a brilliant leader. You said it`s always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his country and beyond.

TRUMP: Well, he does have an 82 percent approval rating according to the different pollsters who by the way, some of them are based right here.

Look --

LAUER: He`s also a guy who annexed Crimea, invaded Ukraine, supports Assad and Syria, supports Iran, he`s trying to undermine our influence in key regions of the world, and according to our intelligence community, probably is the main suspect for the hacking of the DNC computers.

TRUMP: Well, nobody knows that for a fact.


O`DONNELL: Nobody knows that for a fact. Which one don`t we know for a fact? Annexed Crimea, invaded Ukraine, supports Assad and Syria, supports Iran, suspected in hacking DNC computers.

Matt Lauer throws all of those things at Donald Trump, something that no other interviewer has ever done. And Donald Trump doesn`t say one word, not one word about any of those actions of Vladimir Putin, not one word.


LAUER: Do you think the day that you become president of the United States, he`s going to change his mind on some of these key issues?

TRUMP: Possibly, it`s possible. I don`t know, Matt, it`s possible, and it`s not going to have any impact. If he says great things about me, I`m going to say great things about him.


O`DONNELL: That`s the rule. If he says great things about me, I`m going to say great things about him. Hitler should have been so lucky. Today, Senator Lindsey Graham said that Donald Trump`s attitude towards Vladimir Putin reminds him of the way some people regarded Adolf Hitler before World War II.

Senator Graham said, "I think this is the biggest miscalculation since people thought Hitler was a good guy." Joining us now, David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer prize-winning journalist and columnist for the "Daily Beast".

He is the author of the new book, "The Making of Donald Trump". Also with us, Tom Nichols, a professor of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval War College and senior contributor to the "Federalist Conservative Magazine".

Tom Nichols, this was the commander-in-chief test last night on my grading card, Donald Trump flunked pretty much every category of commander-in- chief. What did you see?

TOM NICHOLS, PROFESSOR OF NATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS, U.S. NAVAL WAR COLLEGE: Well, obviously, just representing my own opinion, Lawrence, I agree and I don`t think he just flunked, I think he crashed and burned spectacularly.

I think we`ve gotten used to how appalling Donald Trump`s statements are. But even by Donald Trump`s low standards, last night was really a series of shockers that I think were remarkable. Again, even by the denatured standards of the debate around Donald Trump.

O`DONNELL: And David, this is one of the problems is that, I mean that fuselage that Matt Lauer came up with in response to what Donald Trump said about Vladimir Putin.

I mean, I think if I was doing that, I would have come up with one or two of them, I`m not sure I would have rattled off every one of them like that.

And Donald Trump draws a complete blank at every single thing Matt identifies for him that Vladimir Putin has done. Draws a complete blank and makes no comment on any one of them.

DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, COLUMNIST, DAILY BEAST: Well, because he doesn`t know anything, first of all.

But I have to tell you, Lawrence, I was struck by the similarity of Donald`s response to this to what you read in tapes of mob guys who have been recorded and conversations I have had with low-level mob guys where you bring up the top bosses name -- oh, he`s great leader.

You know, what a terrific -- how lucky we are. There`s something going on here with Putin that should disturb us greatly.

And we got a hint of it when Donald said, indicated that he would purge the generals to put in generals who presumably would do what Donald counts first and foremost, loyalty, personal loyalty to Donald is the driving force of his business.

And this admiration for Putin, given all the money he`s gotten from the Russians, the tax fraud he`s alleged to have involved in, and involved Russian oligarchs, the money that Russian oligarchs have spent, that he`s boasted about.

All of this suggest that there`s a deeper that we don`t fully know about relationship here between Donald Trump and the Russian oligarchs and the people around Vladimir Putin.

O`DONNELL: And Bill O`Reilly actually lost -- I`m sorry, Donald Trump actually lost Bill O`Reilly on the Putin thing. Let`s listen to what O`Reilly said about it tonight.


BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS: If elected president, Trump will try to make Russia an ally, especially in the fight against ISIS.

That strategy is not wrong, but praising Putin is. Let the tyrant earn friendly descriptions by doing something positive.


O`DONNELL: Tom Nichols, at least Bill O`Reilly seems to understand that Vladimir Putin has tyrannical powers that he`s not subject to the same democratic checks and balances that the founding fathers have given us here.

NICHOLS: It was astonishing because as a conservative, I`ve spent a lot of years criticizing President Obama`s foreign policy and criticizing a lot of aspects of the administration.

But everybody, Bill O`Reilly, you, me, David, everyone understands you don`t compare president of the United States to a Russian dictator.

It`s one of many red lines that Trump can`t seem to help himself from crossing. But part of the problem, and you mentioned this with Lauer`s interview is that although Trump at times sounds like a lower level mafia goon, he then shifts into something like a child.

If he talks nice about me, I`ll talk nice about him. That`s not a strategy for Russia, that`s a strategy for second grade.

And it`s -- it defeats any attempt to ask any further questions because you find yourself dealing with someone who has this kind of simplistic view of the world as it only relates to him.

And I`m sure that Putin is fine with that because Putin understands that flattery and vanity, Putin is an intelligence officer. He understands that people can be manipulated by that.

And it`s very clear that Trump has completely bought into that, and you know, maybe that he admires Putin so much because Putin is one of the last people in the world who actually admires Donald Trump.

O`DONNELL: That will have to be the last word on Trump and Putin tonight. But I`m sure it won`t be Donald Trump`s last word about Vladimir Putin. David Cay Johnston and Tom Nichols, thank you both for joining us, really appreciate it.

JOHNSTON: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Up next in the war room, some real veterans Mike Murphy and Steve Hildebrand, both veterans of the McCain and Obama war rooms of 2008. They will talk about last night`s forum and what it tells us to expect in the debates.


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Time for tonight`s "Campaign War Room", the Trump War Room`s battleground map is getting smaller, according to "Politico." Interviews with more than two dozen Republican Operatives, State Party Officials and elected leaders suggest, let`s see -- Colorado, boy that didn`t come up right in the teleprompter.

Colorado, New Hampshire and Virginia are tilting so heavily tomorrow Hillary Clinton that they`re close to unwinnable for the GOP Presidential Nominee. The polling averages in those three states show Hillary Clinton up eight points, five points in Colorado. Hillary Clinton up 8.3 points in New Hampshire and Hillary Clinton up six points in Virginia.

The campaign War Rooms will also be studying a new morning consult poll of all 50 states. The poll shows Hillary Clinton would win 332 Electoral Votes to Donald Trumps, 206 Electoral Votes if the election were held tonight. With 60 days left for the Presidential Campaign War Room, joining us in The Last Word War Room are Mike Murphy, Republican Strategist and Host of podcast, Radio Free GOP. And Steve Hildebrand, a veteran of President Obama`s 2008 Presidential Campaign war Room.

Mike, let`s just go straight to state of the race as you see it tonight.

MIKE MURPHY, HOST, RADIO FREE GOP: It has inched a little closer in the polling, but the polling lags the reality of what`s happening in every news cycle. And Trump`s having a terrible news cycle. In a normal campaign, there was plenty in that Commander-in-Chief Forum for Hillary Clinton to be on the defense of about. She was parsing. She has issues on record that are good meat for a campaign.

The problem is, Trump got up there and bar stool philosopher. Half of the time he was making insane generalizations with no insight at all on geopolitical strategy. And the other half of the time, he was denying bar stool philosopher generalizations he said 5 or 10 years ago. So, trump is in a bad moment now because he really had a crack up last night and you will see that in next week`s polling.

The polling is always a good idea of what was going on seven or eight days ago.

O`DONNELL: Steve, to that point, Democrats and people of the Clinton War Room watched Donald Trump get up on that stage and watched Matt Lauer knock him out repeatedly and, I mean, moments that as I said before in this hour, any other candidate in any other year, that would have been the moment everybody pointed to and said, "It`s all over. It`s all over."

And, yet, Trump`s has had dozens and dozens of those moments and he had them last night. Is there an analysis in the Clinton War Room when they look at the polls and they see Trump doesn`t fall because of moments like this? Is there something that explains that to them and something that tells them what they have to do to try to pick up votes from these trump supporters?

STEVE HILDEBRAND, DEMOCRATIC POLITICAL STRATEGIST: You know, I think there`s this idea that, you know, he`s an unprecedented candidate who can get away with just about anything. At the same time, he`s got grave difficulty getting over 40 percent in most any poll. And, you know, obviously, you`ve got to get higher than that if you`re going to take these states and win the presidency.

But I think, you know, what Hillary needs to look at, too, is her own numbers. How does she become a little more likable? How does she become a little more trusting? And how does she knock him down?

And I think she`s got to use, you know, other people`s credibility to her - - to her effort. She needs to, you know, recite these 121 Republican National Security Experts who have said Donald Trump would be reckless for this country and should not be elected President. Those are the kinds of things that she needs.

Instead of just making statements, she needs to use other people`s credibility to justify what she`s saying. And I think that`s going to take her a long way.

O`DONNELL: So, Mike, it sounds like Steve believes that there is a Republican Voter out there who doesn`t want to vote for Donald Trump. Also, doesn`t want to vote for Hillary Clinton. And Hillary Clinton can make a reach to that voter?

MURPHY: Yes. I mean, you really need about 95 percent of the Republican Votes in your column to be in the hunt and let alone win. And Trump`s sitting in the mid-80s. So you`ve got some loose Republicans who can`t stand Hillary Clinton but can`t stand Donald Trump. And you have a bunch of swing voters, Independents who feel the same way.

A lot of the dynamic of the polling in this race so far has been Trump`s stuck in the low 40s and Hillary`s numbers bouncing between the mid-40s when I looked close up to the and high 40s in undecided. That`s been the real, you know, debate.

People get mad at Hillary. They go into undecided and then come back depending on kind of what the news of the moment is. So, I agree that the real thing Hillary has to do is improve her performance a little bit. And let people have a landing pad. You may not like her but see her as the lesser of two evils. And republican surrogates particular in the National Defense World, are a good way in.

I mean you could hear jaws dropping across the country of defense and foreign policy experts in both parties last night. That was that thump you heard across the country. And that`s an opportunity for Hillary Clinton who has her own problems on those issues. But Trump is so bad, you know, she keeps getting an opening. It`s such heart breaking to me as a Republican. But it`s the reality of the race.

O`DONNELL: All right, we`ve got to do a double session on the War Room Tonight because we have the MVP`s of the War Room with us tonight. We`re going to take a quick break. We`ll be right back.


O`DONNELL: We`re back in the Last Word War Room for a special double session tonight. The Washington Post reports tonight that the Trump Campaigns Policy staff has collapse. The Post`s says quote, "The Trump Campaign built a large policy shop in Washington that has now largely melted away because of neglect, mismanagement and promises to pay that were never honored.

Many of the team`s former members say the campaign leadership never took the Washington office seriously and let it wither away after squeezing it dry. Trump has never acknowledged the policy shop based in Washington that has been doing huge amounts of grunt work for months without recognition or compensation.

One of the people who quit told the Washington Post, quote, "It`s a complete disaster. They used and abused people. The policy office fell apart in August when the promised checks weren`t delivered."

Back with us in the Last Word War Room, Mike Murphy and Steve Hildebrand, Steve, you know, it works better when you actually pay the campaign staffers that you hire. HILDEBRAND: Well, especially you don`t want to lose the smartest people on the campaign. You need those policy experts. And when Donald Trump is so loose with the facts and so shallow in his knowledge of issues, these are the people he really needs by his side. You know, he was asked last night over and over and over again what is your plan for X? What is your plan for Y? And he couldn`t answer one of those questions. That`s not what we need in an American President.

O`DONNELL: So, Mike, you`re couple of weeks away from the debates. Your policy staff quits, all walk out the door when it`s time to do debate prep. And you`ve just seen your candidate be challenged by Matt Lauer about Vladimir Putin in ways that Donald Trump clearly didn`t understand. He needs a serious briefing on Vladimir Putin alone for the first debate and they`ve got nobody.

MURPHY: Yes. Look, my guess is they ran out of the building. It`s not a campaign. It`s really kind of an island of misfit toys. He doesn`t have serious heavy people around him. And so, you know, I`m not surprised that we have one of these Banana Republic developments where a bunch of people weren`t paid and walked out.

I mean, the fundamental problem with Trump is Trump. Trump doesn`t want to be briefed. He doesn`t know what he doesn`t know and he doesn`t know a lot. So Trump is an egomaniac. And he just wants a microphone and an adoring crowd or television camera. So he`ll wing the debates too.

I don`t think there will be any serious prep. There`d be a couple of sessions where he`s on like gold throne and a few of the yes men throw questions at him. But we know who Trump is now.

And so, what Hillary will try I would guess to do in the debates is be the strong study expert and Trump will go on the raving attack because Hillary will be ahead and have something to lose. The question is, how does she handle that mad man show because if she`s too passive, she`ll look too weak. If she froths at the mouth like Trump then she`ll catch the Trump disease.

So, it`s going to be a tricky debate for her. I`m not sure Trump will help himself but the madman bullying act could hurt her. Remember, she`s not somebody the electorates` wild about. She goes in there with a lot of vulnerabilities too and it`s just going to be a zoo. It`s going to be the craziest debate I think any of us have ever seen in politics.

O`DONNELL: And Steve it`s seems like --


O`DONNELL: Go ahead Steve.

HILDEBRAND: -- Mike, I slightly disagree on the -- Hillary has the capacity from that forum last night, as well as previous statements by Donald Trump. She`s got the capacity right now to go on the defensive in the biggest way possible and to unleash all the potential surrogates, the president, the vice president, republicans to go out and say, Donald Trump is un-American. He is cozying up to a Russian dictator, at the same time trashing an American president, the American military and all of its commanders.

And I think she`s got the capacity right now to go and bury him in this and make that next debate a real hell hole for him to ever get out of.

MURPHY: Well --

O`DONNELL: So Mike that`s an interesting point --


O`DONNELL: -- because Elizabeth Warren is going out with Hillary Clinton tomorrow. And so, what can others on the campaign trail do to help set up the debate?

MURPHY: Well, it`s not in my nature to want to give advice or help to Hillary Clinton. I`m not voting for her. I`m just not voting for Trump. I`m going to write in somebody else. Maybe Wendell Willkie to support the tradition of good business people in the party running for president.

I do think a surrogate attack wave is a very good idea and there are a lot of surrogates in the Democratic Party who can do that. it will drive Trump crazy because we all know he watches cable all day and then reacts to it.

The other thing is I do think this Putin thing is breaking through. Trump is what the old Bolsheviks used to call a useful idiot and Putin is -- that`s an Bolshevik term --


MURPHY: -- for guys like Trump.


MURPHY: And Putin is enough of a stage villain now. It starts to be a pretty simple narrative for the casual voter who is just starting to pay attention to the circus to be able to tune into and resonate with. So, and Trump is dug in. He will not back off the Putin bromance. It is crazy but Trump is crazy.

So, I think anything that feeds Trump`s bad instincts on some of this stuff will politically help her.

O`DONNELL: Got to leave it there. Mike Murphy and Steve Hildebrand, really great --


O`DONNELL: -- to have both of you here tonight. Really appreciate it.

MURPHY: Thank you.

HILDEBRAND: Thanks Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up. The Boston Globe just did an exclusive interview with Elizabeth Warren. Annie Linskey of The Boston Globe did that interview will join us next.


O`DONNELL: We have a Boston Globe exclusive about how Elizabeth Warren plans to help Hillary Clinton starting tomorrow. But first, here is how it looked today in the campaign trail.


HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE 2016: It`s hard to forget what Trump did last night. It was a test and he failed it.

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE 2016: The whole country saw how unfit she was at the town hall last night.

CLINTON: What would Ronald Reagan say about a Republican nominee who attacks America`s generals and heaps praise on Russia`s president?

TRUMP: Hillary Clinton created a lot of the problems and now she`s saying how she`s going to take us out. She doesn`t have a clue, not even a little clue.

CLINTON: I love you Andrea, you are incredible. You`re my kind of a woman. I`ll tell you what.

TRUMP: I will be the greatest jobs producing president that God ever created.

CLINTON: Everything is a game. It`s like he`s living in his own celebrity reality TV program.

KATY TUR, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Do you think that he would make a good Commander-In-Chief?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely not. I`m very firm on that.

CLINTON: We are facing a candidate with a long history of racial discrimination in his business. If he doesn`t even respect all Americans, how can he serve all Americans?

TRUMP: She`ll be saying what a wonderful job she`s going to do. She`ll get your vote and she`ll say, "See you in four years." She might even say, "See you in four years, suckers."

CLINTON: If I were not the candidate, if I were not the nominee, if I were just a concerned citizen, I`d be out here doing everything I could to sound the alarm about someone like Donald Trump getting anywhere near the White house.



O`DONNELL: Tomorrow in Philadelphia, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts will hold first campaign event for Hillary Clinton since the Democratic Convention. Boston Globe National Political Reporter, Annie Linskey interviewed Senator Warren today. Annie Linskey joins us now. Annie what is the Warren plan for the rest of the presidential campaign?

ANNIE LINSKEY, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, BOSTON GLOBE: Look, I -- she`s out there tomorrow and she`s going to do it to her. She was really excited about it. She`s going to be well campaigning for Elizabeth Warren and also for Katie McGinty who`s running who is running in Pennsylvania for Senate. And she was so excited and I`ve actually never seen her do this before.

She started snapping. So, and you know, she -- she likes the idea of being out there for two strong women. I think that will be in her message tomorrow.

O`DONNELL: And she has been incredible sharp on Twitter and elsewhere about Donald Trump.

LINSKEY: That`s right.

O`DONNELL: Are we going to expect that tomorrow specific Trump attack lines from Elizabeth Warren?

LINSKEY: Yes. I think every single Democrat and particularly Elizabeth Warren is excited to have the best Trump zinger possible.


LINSKEY: So, she didn`t, you know, so, she didn`t share that with us. But I think that she`s got some prepared. You could kind of tell from her twinkle in her eye that that, you know, that is a -- Trump is a galvanizing for people like Warren in this election and she`s going to -- well go as far as she can.

O`DONNELL: Well, in a way, I mean, Trump is everything that was wrong with America that pulled Elizabeth Warren in to politics that she -- and together in to the zone where she could fix these things.

LINSKEY: Well I think it helps unify the party, really. I think for her, you know, there are reservations with Clinton. You know, you could see her under in a Clinton White House, you know, playing an antagonistic role but at this point, I think she`s so clear on who the better choice is that she -- you really do see her real enthusiasm for getting out and campaigning.

O`DONNELL: And how does this play for her in Massachusetts.

LINSKEY: A great question and I think, you know, that`s why she sat down with The Globe today, I mean I think she is going off, she`s having a real change, it`s a real different moment for her, for the last two-and-a-half - - or last two years, really, she has been a national figure where we`ve been wondering will she run for president and will she be the vice president.

And now, she`s pivoting back to being a Massachusetts Senator first and foremost and digging into some of the wonky issues that she`s known for and where she got that sort of national platform from in the first place.

O`DONNELL: Annie Linskey, thank you very much for joining us. I really appreciate it.

LINSKEY: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up next, what president Obama said about the protests at Standing Rock. He`s finally spoken on the matter.


O`DONNELL: Finally yesterday, President Obama was asked about the protest at the Pine Ridge Sioux Reservation -- no, no. It`s at the Standing Rock, that`s the wrong reservation. That is the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation in North Dakota. The question came yesterday from a university student in Laos.


BARRACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This issue of ancestral lands and helping them preserve their way of life is something that we have worked very hard on. Now, some of these issues are caught up with laws and treaties and -- and so, I can`t give you details on this particular case. I`d have to go back to my staff and find out how are we doing on this one.


O`DONNELL: President Obama has actually visited that reservation, so when he gets back to the White House tomorrow, his staff should have some good information on where the situation stands now.

Brian Williams continues our live coverage. He will check in with some of the road warriors after a day of attacks back and forth from the campaign. The 11th Hour with Brian Williams is next.