Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: September 12, 2016 Guest: David Fahrenthold, David Corn, James Carter IV, Rick Wilson, Charlie Sykes
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: That does it for us tonight, we will see you again tomorrow, now it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good evening, Lawrence.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening Rachel, how is your health?
MADDOW: Fair to middling.
O`DONNELL: You know, because I`m in the political media, so I`m obsessed with health.
MADDOW: I`ll bring you over some documentation later.
O`DONNELL: OK, I`m going to need that.
MADDOW: Yes --
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel --
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thank you. Well, tonight, we will be joined by one of the heroic reporters of campaign 2016. David Fahrenthold has been pursuing one thing and one thing only, Donald Trump`s history of charitable giving.
His findings in the "Washington Post" have been shocking. This weekend, he published a major summation of what he has found, searching all over the country. He is going to join us, it is an amazing report.
But first, what we need to know about the health of presidential candidates and why the news media lost its mind today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: On Friday, I was diagnosed with pneumonia.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: It took --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right --
CONWAY: The entire day to get a diagnosis that apparently she had received days earlier.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We could have gotten more information out more quickly, and we regret that.
LESTER HOLT, JOURNALIST: Donald Trump has released even less information about his medical history.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trump`s doctor said he`d be the healthiest president in history.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like that --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That`s just not even serious.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: Hillary (AUDIO GAP: 00:01:54-55) a hate-filled and negative campaign.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump trying to turn the tables on Hillary Clinton after her comments about some of his supporters.
TRUMP: She called these Americans every name in the book, racist, sexist, xenophobic.
RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: There`re a whole bunch of phobics I don`t even understand.
TRUMP: These are not deplorable people, that I can tell you. Give Donald Trump a chance, I will fix it! What do you have to lose?!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As you have it, good days and bad days. Good days aren`t as good as they used to be. Kind of like a speed up version of aging.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: This is the day, mark down this day, September 12th, 2016. This is the most important day so far in this presidential campaign. There are 56 days left in the campaign, which means this day might be outdone.
But as of now, as of tonight, as of 10:00 p.m., this is the day the historians will see as the most important day in the campaign, because it is the day that the political news media lost its mind.
On Friday night, the Republican nominee for president told the world he was willing to start World War III over a gesture.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: By the way, with Iran, when they circle our beautiful destroyers with their little boats, and they make gestures at our people that they shouldn`t be allowed to make, they will be shot out of the water --
OK? Believe me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The next day, the headlines were not unhinged candidate vows war over gestures, with a subhead of candidate`s mental health question. Donald Trump had earned those headlines, but he didn`t get them.
He earned non-stop talk about the sheer madness of going to war over a gesture. He deserved a word-for-word comparison to the sayings of North Korea`s dictator Kim Jong un because there are only two people in the world who talk like that.
There are only two people in the world who believe that a country`s dignity can only be maintained with weapons. North Korea said its nuclear test last week was necessary "to protect our dignity".
That is a pure Trumpian definition of dignity. Donald Trump`s candidacy long before Friday night had become a deplorable insult to the intelligence of the American voter.
Yes, deplorable. But on Friday night, when he proudly announced that he was willing to start World War III over an issue of his perceived dignity.
When he proudly took his place beside Kim Jong un as one of the two most dangerous and dysfunctional minds in the world.
He reached a new level of deplorable, and it was over the single most important decision a president can make, when and where and how and why to use the weapons of war of the mightiest army in the world.
The political media had the biggest policy story that has ever been handed to them by a presidential candidate, the policy of going to war over a gesture, and the news media quickly ignored it.
Because the other candidate for president said something that the political media decided was much more important.
It wasn`t a policy announcement, it was a description of Donald Trump`s supporters in which she used the word "deplorable" to describe many of their hateful ideas.
She was careful enough to limit it to half of Trump`s supporters. But that wasn`t careful enough for the news media because the media was clearly in the middle of a nervous breakdown on its way to a complete collapse which happened the very next day when Hillary Clinton felt a little sick and decided to go home.
You`ve seen the video a few thousand times by now of Hillary Clinton being helped into a car as she was clearly feeling faint.
Hours later, we got the word from her doctor that she`s been diagnosed with pneumonia, and she`s going to slow down for a few days.
And today, the news media lost its mind, lost all perspective on what matters in this presidential campaign. Lost all perspective on how voters should make their choice and Hillary Clinton`s health became the most important thing in the world.
And the older, not so healthy-looking candidate in the race, Donald Trump, who has released only a doctor`s letter with the lie that Donald Trump would be the healthiest person ever elected to the presidency was allowed to use Hillary Clinton`s more openness about her health against her.
The separation between non-fiction and fiction is thin. It`s very thin. It`s a semi-permeable membrane through which each influences the other.
And when I was a writer for the fictional White House on Nbc`s "THE WEST WING", I always used non-fiction for story ideas, real conditions that existed in the world.
The President would only do things that a real president could do. And so our president wouldn`t for example have his political enemies killed because that`s just not real, not in the United States anyway, not yet.
And before long, I found that the fiction was teaching me how to think about non-fiction, how to think about the real world. Good fiction can do that.
And that happened when the brilliant creator of the series, Aaron Sorkin came up with the idea that the president should have an illness that no one knows about.
A very serious illness that at some point down the road could become a problem, a big problem. And so the president secretly had M.S. Aaron planted that idea in season one, and I found myself going back to it a couple of times in season six.
And that`s when I realized just how recent our obsession with the president`s health is and just how misplaced it can be.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s not up to us to decide what the voters get to use in evaluating us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A little odd coming from someone who wasn`t exactly completely open about his health.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was a big mistake.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was it? What do we know about Lincoln`s health when he was running?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Washington, Jefferson, what about FDR`s health? And when he died in office, did people say gee, why didn`t he tell us he was sick? No.
Did they say I wish I hadn`t voted for him?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Franklin Delano Roosevelt indisputably one of our greatest presidents was dying in his final re-election campaign and he died less than 90 days after taking the oath of office for the final time.
The country did not feel deceived, the country felt sad, the country mourned, the country didn`t rail against Franklin Roosevelt`s lack of transparency about his health.
FDR was never transparent about his health, never. He tried to hide that he used a wheelchair for years and largely got away with it since there were no television cameras then to follow him around.
The more I thought about FDR and the fictional president that I was writing for Martin Sheen to play, the more I realized that I for one don`t really care about a president`s health.
And when I thought about Jack Kennedy, who had more serious health problems than he ever let the press know about, I realized that health might have nothing to do with how long a presidency lasts.
JFK got a thousand days, and he was more than healthy enough to do the job of president on November 22nd, 1963 when the presidential limousine turned into Dealey Plaza in Dallas.
No one knew that was going to be the last day of the Kennedy presidency. And the truth of the matter is none of us know when our last day is coming. Someone dear to me went out for a jog at the age of 52, perfectly healthy guy, athletic his whole life.
He stopped to talk to a neighbor for a minute, and he dropped dead on the spot from a massive heart attack, and he happened to work in politics. That`s the way life works.
That`s the way death works. The most common first symptom of heart disease in men is instant death. Think about that. Massive coronaries strike with no warning and they`re gone.
The news media has struggled to identify the voting issue in Hillary Clinton`s health and finally it landed on transparency.
That`s the problem here. Hillary Clinton hasn`t been transparent enough. She hasn`t been honest enough with the press.
Compared to what? Compared to whom? We have known absolutely nothing about the health of most presidential candidates and most of our presidents.
Most of our presidents were elected before medicine was anything resembling a science. Doctors had no idea how healthy Abraham Lincoln was or wasn`t.
And in the 20th century, the press didn`t even get curious about the president`s health, until after President Kennedy.
And there has been -- there has never been any law or rule about what candidates must disclose about their health, and so it`s been a haphazard process. Some reveal more than others and absolutely none of them reveal everything. None of them.
Republicans tried to make a huge deal of Bill Clinton`s health records in his campaign for re-election in 1996.
And the unspoken simple reason for that was they were desperately hoping they could force a real full disclosure of his health records that would show he had at some point in his life, some kind of sexually transmitted something.
That was the game they were playing in the name of transparency. Do you think you have a right to know that? You might want to know that because you might think that suggests a certain hypocrisy sometimes, maybe with some so-called family values candidate.
But do you have a right to know that? Do you think a presidential candidate has a right to privacy, a right to privacy about anything?
If transparency really is the issue the media wants to focus on here, then there are much better ways to do that with Hillary Clinton`s paid speeches and e-mails and Donald Trump`s tax returns and everything Donald Trump has ever done in his life.
But then is health itself the issue? Is that the issue here? Is there a voting issue in the health of Hillary Clinton?
If this were any other Democrat versus Republican campaign and the only big issue was the Democrat wants to raise taxes which Hillary Clinton does want to do.
And the Republican wants to cut taxes which Donald Trump does want to do, then I could understand a news media bored with that kind of campaign getting distracted to the point of obsession with Hillary Clinton`s health.
But this is a campaign with a pretty standard Democratic Party candidate according to her platform versus the Kim Jong un of American politics.
There is nothing but nothing a Hillary Clinton supporter could learn tonight about Hillary Clinton`s health that would make that person change their vote to Donald Trump.
Change their vote to a man full of deplorable ideas, just cheered on by many deplorable supporters, including every white supremacist in the country and surely the world.
And similarly, I`m sure there is nothing that a Trump supporter could hear about Donald Trump`s health tomorrow that would make them switch their votes to Hillary Clinton. And so health is not a voting issue in this campaign.
Because the candidates are way too far apart on policy, on sanity, on intelligence, on basic human decency. They are way too far apart for anyone to consider switching their vote because of the health condition of one of these candidates.
In order to obsess on Hillary Clinton`s health, the American news media had to lose its mind today. Had to lose its understanding of what an election is actually about, had to completely lose sight of how voters are choosing to support Hillary Clinton or choosing to support Donald Trump.
And in embracing their obsession with Hillary Clinton`s health, the media spent the day ignoring the deplorable statement yesterday of Trump supporter and former federal prosecutor Rudy Giuliani who now sounds like he wishes he could have been at the defense table at Nuremberg.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIULIANI: Of course it`s legal, it`s a war.
Until the war is over, anything is legal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was Rudy Giuliani defending the war crimes Donald Trump says he wants to commit as president.
The Giuliani line of defense didn`t work at Nuremberg where we convicted and sentenced to death 11 Nazis who believed what Rudy Giuliani said yesterday --anything is legal in war.
That is the single most horrendous thing said in any American presidential campaign since World War II, except for the things Donald Trump says on a daily basis. The presidency was invented back when health was a complete mystery.
One of the many mysteries beyond the reach of science. That`s why the vice presidency was invented at exactly the same time, so there would always be someone there to take the president`s place just in case.
And that`s why the news media properly assigns a great deal of importance to a presidential candidate`s choice of vice presidential running mate, which brings us to the worst-case scenario.
The worst-case scenario on the Republican side if Donald Trump`s health doesn`t hold up in the White House or something else unforeseen happens, that worst-case scenario is called President Mike Pence.
And the worst-case scenario on the Democratic side would be a President Tim Kaine whose policies as president would be identical to Hillary Clinton`s policies. So, what is the voting issue here?
The founding fathers believed that what voters needed to know was who would take over for the president in case the president drank out of the wrong cup of water one day and fell over and died, because that`s how easy it was to die back then.
Hillary Clinton`s supporters want her to be president as long as she thinks she`s healthy enough to be president. And Donald Trump`s supporters want him to be president as long as he thinks he`s healthy enough to be president.
That`s why my fictional president Jeb Bartlett, that`s exactly what he thought his voters wanted. And ultimately, it fell to me in season six to finally write what the drama had been demanding for five years.
To hit the president with an attack of M.S. so severe that he could not hide it. It happened on Air Force 1 on the way to a summit in China.
He knew exactly what he was going to do, go out there and tell the voters what he thought they needed to know. No more and no less.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look, when we get out there, I`ll lead off with the M.S. thing and go to the South Korea story. I`ll leave it to you, Melaine(ph) to get in there, any medical details if anyone has any questions about that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, I think they might have a few hundred.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just got to tell them that the President of the United States will be working from a wheelchair again.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Again?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, you are.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do I really have to remind those kids that Roosevelt fought World War II from a wheelchair?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, but when he died in office -- OK, I`ll skip the Roosevelt bit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Voters vote for the president and vice president who they want to do the job, and they want that president to do the job as long as he or she is able.
Voters have never and will never vote for health records. But don`t expect the political media to understand that any time soon.
Coming up next, one of the heroic reporters of campaign 2016, David Fahrenthold of the "Washington Post" will join us and tell us what he has uncovered in his months-long search of Donald Trump`s history of charitable giving.
And this is a huge story and David Fahrenthold got it, that`s next.
O`DONNELL: Sorry for interrupting your commercials, but I just wanted you to know that Donald Trump is now a frontrunner for least charitable rich guy in the world. The reporter who broke that story about Donald Trump`s charitable giving, David Fahrenthold will join us next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, NOMINEE OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY FOR VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES IN THE 2016 ELECTION: Anyone who knows about Donald Trump and his career knows that this is a man who`s given away tens of millions of dollars to charitable causes throughout the course of his business life.
You can talk to charities all across the country who have benefitted by the generosity of the Trump family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: One heroic and dedicated reporter has actually tried to do exactly that, talked to charities all across the country that have benefitted from the generosity of Donald Trump. His findings have ripped away the veneer of Donald Trump`s alleged generosity.
David Fahrenthold of the "Washington Post" has devoted himself for months to tracking down Donald Trump`s charitable giving. This is the kind of reporting that most news organizations have given up on.
It is the stuff that Pulitzer Prizes are made of. It`s what you saw in the Academy Award-winning movie "Spotlight". A reporter grabbing onto a story, grabbing onto it, holding onto that target and not letting go.
That reporter David Fahrenthold of the "Washington Post" joins us now. David, you`ve published a massive collection of your findings this weekend in the "Washington Post".
You`ve been reporting it, you know, piecemeal as you can find things along. What is the summary of where it all stands now?
DAVID FAHRENTHOLD, WASHINGTON POST: Well, what we read about this weekend was that Donald J. Trump Foundation which is the charity that Trump started in the 1980s. And I sort of wanted to explain its charity is Trump`s charity for the last few years.
I can`t find the donations from Trump`s own pocket, so, I wanted to go find what the Trump Foundation gave.
And what I found was basically that he`s created sort of a vehicle to give other people`s money away as his own or make it seem like his own.
He hasn`t given any money to his own foundation since 2008, but he`s been giving other people`s money away through that foundation and a way that makes it seem like various gifts.
O`DONNELL: So, eight years ago, he gave some money to the foundation from his personal funds, and he has not contributed a penny since.
And there`s no record in the last eight years of him making a personal contribution to a charity with his own money, absolute --
FAHRENTHOLD: Well --
FAHRENTHOLD: There`s one record. I actually --
O`DONNELL: OK --
FAHRENTHOLD: Found looking back between 2008 and this May, I found one gift that appeared to be coming out of Trump`s own pocket, that was in 2009, it was for less than $10,000, that`s the one.
O`DONNELL: And what was that for, that money?
FAHRENTHOLD: It was a gift to the Police Athletic League of New York City, and I should say that may be a bookkeeping error, in other years that same organization has made bookkeeping errors it made Trump Foundation gifts appear to be Donald Trump`s gifts.
I can`t tell what the situation is in this year.
O`DONNELL: OK, so that -- you`re being as charitable as you can to Donald Trump at least in this story. And so when Mike Pence says, when you hear Mike Pence say today he`s given tens of millions of dollars to charitable causes, and that`s the official Trump statement today, your response to that has always been please just show it to me.
Show me the money, show me the receipts, any charity out there, and you`ve been working this through Twitter, social media, asking people to help. Does anyone have anything to report on a contribution by Donald Trump?
FAHRENTHOLD: No, not that I`ve found. And as you said, today after Mike Pence came out and said he gives tens of millions of dollars or he`s given tens of millions of dollars away, I went to the Trump people and said OK, Mike Pence, this must -- there must be something behind this.
Tell me more. Tell me the names of the charities he gave to, the amounts he gave, the years he gave, and the response was basically nothing.
They send back a response that sort of muddied the waters between Trump`s own personal giving and the Trump Foundation. And didn`t give any more detail about what he might have given out of his own pocket --
O`DONNELL: And where does -- where does the Trump Foundation get its money if not from Donald Trump?
FAHRENTHOLD: Well, it`s very interesting, so, there -- it has some very large donors. Vince McMahon of World Wrestling fame gave about $5 million in 2007 and 2009, and Trump has been sort of spending down that giant lump of money for a while.
But there are other cases in which Trump goes to -- gone to people to raise money specifically so then Trump can then give the same money away to another charity and claim credit for it. We looked at a couple of those examples as well.
O`DONNELL: So, David, as far as the Trump campaign or Donald Trump`s transparency to use the media`s favorite word of the day, his transparency on this, you`ve gotten zero cooperation from them, you asked them the foundation, you asked Donald Trump, you asked the campaign constantly to provide information and they don`t.
FAHRENTHOLD: They have given us very little. They`ve given -- In a few cases is again a couple of weeks ago we wrote about this penalty they had to pay to the IRS for giving an illegal campaign contribution out of the foundation.
After some probe(ph), the Trump people did tell us about that, but it`s been few and far between examples like that.
O`DONNELL: David, as you know, I have admired your fixation on this from the second week you were on the job, and we need a dozen other reporters picking up other jurisdictions out there and just sticking with it throughout this campaign following your model.
David Fahrenthold, thank you very much for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.
FAHRENTHOLD: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Up next, the deplorable Donald Trump responds to Hillary Clinton referring to only half of his supporters as deplorables.
O`DONNELL: I have a feeling that some of you may have heard by now that Hillary Clinton was at a fundraiser Friday night and she said this about Donald Trump`s supporters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON (D). PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: To just be grossly generalistic. You can put half of Trump`s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? They`re racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islam phobic, you name it. And unfortunately, there are people like that. And he has lifted them up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Of course America is the country where we have to pretend that that all of our voters are just the very best voters in the world, the smartest voters in the world, the kindest voters in the world, the wisest voters in the world, the most generous voters. And so, Donald Trump played on that ridiculous media fantasy today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Our vision of hope stands in stark contrast to my opponent`s campaign of hate. Hillary Clinton has been running a hate-filled and negative campaign with no policy, no solutions, and no new ideas. She talks about people like they`re objects, not human beings.
She said half of our supporters are irredeemable and not American. What she can`t understand or accept is that the great majority of this country now sees right through these lies and deceptions of a failed political establishment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, a man who`s never grossly generalistic, David Corn, Washington bureau, Chief of Mother Jones and MSNBC Political Analyst. And David, we should note that Hillary Clinton issued a statement the next day saying I was being -- you know, I said I was being grossly generalistic. And she said she regrets saying half. But she regrets the calculation about how many Trump supporters were, as she described them. But, certainly, it`s a pretty big number.
DAVID CORN, POLITICAL JOURNALIST, MOTHER JONES: It might have only been two out of five. I mean, there are a lot of different ways to look at this, Lawrence. We do know from polling data, that a majority of Republicans do believe the President wasn`t born here. And that he`s some sort of secret Muslim, which is a good indication that they may have some racist conspiratorial, xenophobic, I don`t know, Islam phobic ideas, which is what she was playing to.
We do know that the Alt-Right, These White Nationalists who held a press conference in D.C. on Friday are very much in favor of Donald Trump. We know that Steve Bannon, that he`s former CEO of Breitbart, who`s now the CEO of the Trump campaign has identified with the Alt-Right and said he wanted Breitbart to be its magazine.
So, it`s undeniable that there are elements on the far right who are xenophobic, who are bigots, because they want to keep out Muslims, who may be racist and maybe sexist are supporting Donald Trump. Half, well, it`s really hard to figure that out.
And we also know when it comes to phony outrage, a subject you often talk about on this show, that Donald Trump is the champion of phony outrage. It was only a year ago when he said on Sean Hannity, I put this up on Mother Jones today, that half of America just wants to sit back and do nothing and do nothing but the other 50 percent carry them. So he gave two more points above Mitt Romney`s 47 percent.
And so, he`s out there attacking Hillary Clinton for dismissing and disregarding discounting tens of millions of Americans when he has called basically half of America losers.
O`DONNELL: Let`s take a look at the new Trump TV ad taking advantage of these Hillary Clinton comments.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Speaking to wealthy donors, Hillary Clinton called tens of millions of Americans deplorable.
CLINTON: You could put half of Trump`s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. They`re racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islam phobic, you name it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People like you, you and you deplorable. You know what`s deplorable? Hillary Clinton viciously demonizing hard working people like you.
TRUMP: I`m Donald Trump and I approve this message.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: So David, is that going to do damage?
CORN: I don`t understand this campaign from the Trump perspective. Today, they came out with an ad, "No, we`re not racists. We`re not sexists. We`re not Islam phobes."
And they`ve got guys and gals I guess at their rally tonight wearing t- shirts saying, "I`m deplorable." That`s not a way to reach out to moderate Republicans and independent voters. So, I don`t think this is going to be effective.
O`DONNELL: David Corn, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Appreciate it.
CORN: My pleasure.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, a new poll showing Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump statistically tied in Georgia, where the Republicans should have a massive lead. Joining us in the War Room tonight, James Carter of Georgia. Yes. He is related to that other James Carter.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEAN SPICER, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: First of all, let`s not -- he`s released his financial disclosure form with the FEC which lists every asset and debt that he owns. It`s actually much more comprehensive than a tax filing. The tax filing shows what you paid and what your deduction was. That`s it.
(END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: We`re joined now by Rick Wilson, Republican Strategist who`s a contributor to the website Heat Street. He`s an adviser to Evan McMullin who is running for President an Independent. Also there`s Charlie Sykes, Radio Host at WTMJ AM in Milwaukee and the editor of -- Editor of Chief Right Wisconsin.
Gentlemen, there`s Sean Spicer today, on this network, saying -- trying to claim that the campaign financial disclosure forms that Donald Trump has released are more revealing than tax returns. Now, every candidate has always released those FEC documents, because they must. And here we have Donald Trump, the only one to not release tax returns.
Charlie Sykes, there is a big difference here. And on a day when the media cares nothing more than about transparency, the huge transparency story of the year remains Donald Trump`s tax returns.
CHARLIE SYKES, RADIO HOST, WTMJ AM: Yes and then Trump`s Spicer spin is absolutely absurd. I mean the reality is that in one case after another, Donald Trump turns out not to be what he purports to be. You know, he presents himself as a successful businessman. He`s failed miserably so many times.
He purports to be charitable, as you`ve demonstrated with David Fahrenthold`s outstanding journalism. He is not that charitable. And he has shown himself not to be, you know, not being knowledgeable, you know, a financier that he`s often claimed to be.
But we really don`t know who he is or what his business looks like, or what his charitable practices are until we get those tax returns, and nothing will substitute for that.
O`DONNELL: Rick Wilson, I think one thing we`ve discovered those tax returns would reveal through David Fahrenthold`s reporting is that Donald Trump`s charitable contributions as far as we can tell from David Fahrenthold`s reporting are zero. For his last eight tax returns, he has deducted zero, because he has given zero.
RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well what`s fascinating is if those tax returns were revealed did he claim some deductions, did he claim tax- deductible donations. And I think there`s -- I think the fact that Donald Trump defends his tax returns with more passion than anything else in this race is really telling.
And I think it`s one of the things that the American media class has really failed to hold his feet to the fire on because they continue to let the show and the spectacle go on everyday. And the response, you know, if I were on the other side of this fence in the journalistic world, I would say, listen, we`re not covering this guy until we get some answers on the most fundamental questions about who he is, who he really owes money to, because as much as Sean Spicer wants to defend that FEC statement, we all know that that`s magical thinking on Trump`s part. That`s a status that has -- there`s no way to verify or validate that statement. And if they don`t think Trump would perjure himself to make his ego look big, they`ve got another think coming.
O`DONNELL: And Charlie what Donald Trump relies on is not just him changing the subject. But the media willingly changing the subject along with him.
SYKES: And he`s been absolutely masterful at it. I think a lot of people thought that was going to come to an end after the conventions. But it obviously has not. But I do think on this issue of transparency, look, I think that Hillary Clinton has transparency issues. I think she`s allergic to transparency. But Donald Trump can hardly make that a significant issue, given he is complete lack of transparency on something as important as his income taxes.
O`DONNELL: And Rick, quickly, before we go, Mike Pence was on TV today, and he refused to use the word deplorable in relation to David Duke. And if Klan membership can`t get you labeled deplorable in Trump/Pence world, what can?
WILSON: Look, I mean, it is obvious that Mike Pence cash his soul in cheap to Donald Trump. And at this point, you know, you might as well go get seated for the pointy white hat if you can`t call David Duke deplorable in this country.
O`DONNELL: Rick Wilson and Charlie Sykes, thank you both very much for joining us tonight. Appreciate it.
WILSON: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Up next, the Head of the CIA responds to Donald Trump publicly describing his classified intelligence briefing and lying about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT LAUER, AMERICAN TELEVISION JOURNALIST: Did you learn anything in that briefing, again, not going in to specifics that make 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 are truly, when they call it intelligence, it`s there for a reason, what our experts said to do.
TRUMP: And I was very, 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.
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O`DONNELL: And here is how CIA Director, John Brennan responded to that yesterday.
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JOHN O. BRENNAN, DIRECTOR, Central Intelligence Agency: I know the briefers that have been briefing the candidates. They are the quintessential professional intelligence officers. They do their work very well, and they know as professionals, that they are to deliver substance.
We don`t comment on policy. We don`t give policy recommendations. So I am fully confident that they comported themselves with the utmost professionalism and demonstrated the real breadth and depth of intelligence capabilities.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And here is the CIA translation of that, the Director of the CIA just said, "The Republican nominee for president is a liar."
O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s Campaign War Room. The 2016 Presidential Election is expanding to new battleground states including Arizona and Georgia. Arizona has been a Republican stronghold since 1952 only voting for Democrat once in over 50 years. And Georgia is usually reliably Republican but the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist Poll shows Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in a very tight race in both of those states.
In Arizona, Donald Trump is at 42, Hillary Clinton is at 41in a one-on-one race but then when they poll the four-way poll in Arizona Donald Trump is at 40, Hillary Clinton at 38, Gary Johnson, 12, Jill Stein, 3. In Georgia Donald Trump is at 46 and Hillary Clinton is at 43. When they run the three-way poll in Georgia Donald Trump is at 44, Hillary Clinton, 42 and Gary Johnson who will be on the ballot there is at 10 percent.
Last week, Hillary Clinton became the first presidential candidate to purchase TV ad time in Georgia this campaign season and with 56 days left for the presidential campaign war room joining us now, James Carter IV, a political consultant based in Georgia.
Thank you very much for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it. State of the race in Georgia, I never thought we would be talking about a viable democrat versus republican presidential race in Georgia. How did it come to this and why isn`t Donald Trump pulling ahead there?
JAMES CARTER IV, POLITICAL CONSULTANT: Well, there`s -- the demographics have been trending in the Democrats direction for the last few decades, and haven`t quite caught up yet. But that combined with the fairly vocal contingent of never-Trump conservatives in the state has come out in Hillary`s favor.
O`DONNELL: What is the profile of the Georgia never-Trump Republican?
CARTER: They listen to Eric Erickson basically who is a political commentator, has a national following, but also is very specifically a Georgia guy. He is one of the, head of the never-Trump movement especially locally. And he has a pretty significant following here.
O`DONNELL: Yes. And he has been on this from the start. And he talks about it in terms of a traditional Republican policy, and it also kind of basic human decency is something that he`s been talking about, which I gather may appeal to some Georgia Republicans, especially more religiously- inclined Georgia Republicans.
CARTER: Yes, he never thought that anyone have to run on basic human decency in a presidential race. But yes, it has come to that.
O`DONNELL: And we now have a new Washington Post poll out tonight showing President Obama with a 58 percent approval rating. That`s the highest it`s been since his the first year in office. And that could be something that Hillary Clinton is looking at as she decides which states to invest in. Were you surprised to see Hillary Clinton being the first one buying TV time in Georgia?
CARTER: No. I think she`s got a good amount of resources, and I think it`s appropriate for the campaign at this point in time to test the waters and see what kind of reaction they would get.
O`DONNELL: And, you know, if this is one of those situations where even if she can force Donald Trump to spend time and money in Georgia, even if he`s ultimately going to win it, what that means is, he`s being distracted from other battle -- real battleground states, more traditional battleground states like Ohio, Pennsylvania where he might in a more normal electoral map spend his day instead of Georgia.
CARTER: Yes. Exactly. Mike Pence has been here in the past few weeks, Newt Gingrich has a campaign surrogate had an event just today, actually. So yes, they`re spending time here, which normally, they would not have to be doing.
O`DONNELL: James Carter, thank you very much for joining us tonight in the War Room.
CARTER: Appreciate it.
O`DONNELL: And regards to President Carter next time you see him. Coming up, now Mike Pence is echoing Donald Trump on of all things President Obama`s birth certificate.
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MIKE PENCE, U.S. VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And she should -- she should apologize and retract the entire statement without qualification.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Should Donald trump apologize to President Obama for suggesting he`s not -- he wasn`t born in the United States? You know he was born in Hawaii. Should he publicly, just say to the president, once and for all, "Sorry. I know you were born in Hawaii."
PENCE: You know we`re just not talking about that issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Oh, oh, I want Hillary Clinton to say that someday, about anything, anything. You know, we`re just not talking about that issue. I want her to use Mike Pence`s words, word for word, which were Donald Trump`s words word for word about the birth certificate issue. Now, that`s what they say whenever it comes up. We`re not talking about that.
Now, when a candidate says that, that is a signal to the media that you must not talk about anything else. You must make them talk about that thing that they insist they`re done with, that they`re just not going to talk about anymore. And just to prove it to the media, we`re going to need Hillary Clinton to try it someday, just try it someday, and see what that very same news media does.
That`s it for The Last Word tonight. MSNBC`s live coverage continues now with Brian Williams. Brian will have more on what Hillary Clinton had to say tonight. Hillary Clinton called in to a show tonight and talked.
We heard her voice. She sounded pretty good. She sounded healthy. He will also be examining how the Donald Trump campaign now is starting to copy the Clinton Campaign Playbook, The 11th Hour with Brian Williams is up live and it`s up next.