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Biden regains polling advantage. TRANSCRIPT: 7/29/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell.

Guests: Jerry Nadler, Seth Moulton, Neera Tanden

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Joy.  That`s right.  You can`t leave the building yet.  You have to go to a TV set to watch Chairman Jerry Nadler who is going to lead us off tonight.  You don`t want a miss a word of that.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST:  I will not miss a word.  Go for it.  Have a great show. 

O`DONNELL:  OK.  Thank you, Joy.

REID:  Thank you.

O`DONNELL:  Congressman Jerry Nadler represents ground zero.  The 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center occurred in Jerry Nadler`s congressional district.  Jerry Nadler was the first elected official to raise concerns about the toxic fumes that first responders were exposed to in the rubble of 9/11 when they were trying to rescue people buried under the debris, including in some cases their friends and relatives. 

Jerry Nadler was a co-sponsor of the 9/11 victims compensation fund bill which president Trump signed into law today in the Rose Garden where he told a new lie about 9/11, because Donald Trump cannot speak about 9/11 without lying. 

We will show you the new lie that Donald Trump told about 9/11 today at the end of this hour and remind you of some of his other vicious and pathological lies about 9/11.  We will hear Jerry Nadler`s reaction to Donald Trump`s latest lie about 9/11 when he joins us as our first guest tonight. 

He was last here a month after the Democrats won back the House of Representatives and a month before he took up the gavel of chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.  My first questions to Congressman Nadler back in December were about impeachment, and my first questions tonight to Chairman Nadler will be about impeachment. 

In his 26th year in the House of Representatives, Jerry Nadler has become the fourth chairman in the 206-year history of the House Judiciary Committee to be handed the house judiciary chairman`s most solemn duty and heaviest burden: to consider whether the House of Representatives should impeach the president of the United States. 

Yesterday, Chairman Nadler said this. 


REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY:  We are investigating whether to report -- whether to approve articles of impeachment that are before the committee.  We will make that determination. 


O`DONNELL:  You would think if Donald Trump was going to spend the weekend attacking a member of the House of Representatives, the chairman, it would be the chairman who has announced he is investigating the possible impeachment of the president. 

But that is not who Donald Trump chose to attack this weekend.  He chose to attack one of the three chairmen of the three most important committees that are investigating Donald Trump in the Trump White House.  Here they are at a press conference on Wednesday after Robert Mueller testified to the House Judiciary Committee and then the House Intelligence Committee chaired by Chairman Adam Schiff. 

Chairman Elijah Cummings was also at that press conference even though Robert Mueller did not testify to his committee that day, because Chairman Cummings is conducting multiple investigations of Donald Trump and the Trump administration and the House Oversight Committee.  Chairman Cummings last week led a committee vote to authorize subpoenas for senior White House officials` communications via private email accounts and messaging applications, including the electronic communications of the president`s daughter and the president`s son-in-law who have been repeatedly using private email for government purposes for which Donald Trump and everyone supporting his campaign last time said Hillary Clinton should be locked up.  That was the basis of their "lock her up" chant. 

Surely, Donald Trump does care about his daughter being exposed for doing a much worse version of what Hillary Clinton was accused of doing, by using private email for government communications.  But Donald Trump cares much more about the possibility that he will be impeached.  Still, he chose to spend the weekend attacking Elijah Cummings, not Jerry Nadler. 

The president fired off tweets about Chairman Cummings and his congressional district, calling it the worst congressional district in the country, without saying what "worst" means.  What could it be about Elijah Cummings that makes Donald Trump want to spend the entire weekend attacking him?  Why not Adam Schiff?  Why not Jerry Nadler?  What is it about Elijah Cummings?  What could it possibly be? 

Leading off our discussion tonight is Democratic Congressman Jerry Nadler of New York.  He is chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. 

Mr. Chairman, thank you very much for joining us again tonight. 

NADLER:  Thank you. 

O`DONNELL:  And let me just start with what we all saw the president do with Elijah Cummings this weekend in this tweet rant that went on and on.  What is your interpretation of that? 

NADLER:  Well, my interpretation is it`s a racist and disgusting attack, and it was designed to whip up racist sentiment on which the president is hoping to base his reelection. 

O`DONNELL:  You`ve been watching here in New York since you got in trouble with the Justice Department over racial discrimination in housing practices with his father.  There is no surprise to you, I don`t think, in any of this. 

Does it look to you like this is the campaign, this is the Trump presidential campaign?  Try not to -- don`t leave a single racist possible vote behind. 

NADLER:  It certainly seems that`s a very large part of the Trump campaign.  He`s making no attempt to reach out to anybody beyond his so-called base. 

His base -- he is betraying his base in terms of all the economics.  He`s handing -- you know, he`s opposed to minimum wage increases, opposed to any kind of health and safety regulations for the working people.  He`s not bringing back manufacturing jobs. 

He`s doing everything against their interests, but he is appealing to people`s nativism.  That`s what this whole immigration thing is about.  He`s appealing to people`s nativism and their racial and other prejudices. 

O`DONNELL:  Now, you`ve said over the weekend, and you`ve said since Friday, that the committee is considering articles of impeachment.  Are these the articles that some members have introduced and tried to bring to a vote in the House and have then been referred to your committee? 

NADLER:  We said this well before Friday, but the press finally picked up on this.  We said in notices for hearings we held back on July 12th.  Yes, there are articles of impeachment that were referred by various member -- that were introduced by various members of the committee -- I`m sorry -- of the House several months ago that we referred to the committee.

And obviously, we are investigating all of the president`s crimes and violations of the Constitution.  And we will present them to the American people and we will do what we have to, and we will then consider whether to report those articles of impeachment or some new articles of impeachment which we may draft for ourselves to the floor, to the House. 

O`DONNELL:  And you said in a shorter version of that, in legal filings seeking the underlying evidentiary material --

NADLER:  Seeking grand jury material. 

O`DONNELL:  Yes, in the Mueller report.  So, you`re telling a judge that we are considering the impeachment -- an impeachable procedure against this president, so we need this information. 

NADLER:  Yes.  So, we need this information.  Grand jury information you can`t get.  The court of appeals in Washington ruled that you don`t have inherent right to grand jury information unless you come within one of the statutory exceptions.  One of the statutory exceptions is a judicial proceeding.  An impeachment is a judicial or preliminary judicial proceeding, and we`ve told the court that we are investigating possible -- all Article 1 remedies and possible recommendation of impeachment articles to the floor. 

And on the same basis, we`re going into court this week to enforce our subpoena against former White House counsel McGahn, and we`ll be telling the court that the enforcement of that subpoena is absolutely necessary in our investigation of possible impeachment articles. 

O`DONNELL:  And when we first discussed this in December, I made the point in basically introducing you that here is the person who is going to have the unique power to initiate impeachment proceedings.  And as you`ve pointed out over the weekend, there is more than one way to do this.  I think a lot of people have fallen into the belief that the entire House has to pass a resolution asking you to start impeachment, or authorizing you to it. 

That`s one way.  That`s -- a version of that has happened in the past.

NADLER:  A version of that -- 

O`DONNELL:  But you can also just start it yourself. 

NADLER:  Well, there have been -- impeachments have been started in several ways.  Even the Nixon impeachment, the House directed the Judiciary Committee to do an impeachment -- to investigate impeachment articles about six months after the committee started doing that. 


NADLER:  There have been a number of impeachments where the House never made such a vote.  Impeachments of various judges, that went through, where the committee did it on its own initiative.  And we certainly have ample power to do that, and we`re doing it. 

O`DONNELL:  Might that be the way this -- if this moves to formal consideration of articles of impeachment where --  

NADLER:  We are in -- 

O`DONNELL:  OK, go ahead. 

NADLER:  -- consideration of articles of impeachment among other remedies.  There is nothing called formal consideration. 

We are considering -- we are investigating the actions of the president.  We have impeachment resolutions on file with the committee.  We may introduce others. 

And at the conclusion of our investigations, we will either vote on those impeachment resolutions or we will not.  Maybe we`ll vote on essential or something, but that`s all being considered now. 

O`DONNELL:  So, this -- in other words, this looks a lot -- this could look a lot like the legislative process might, on some sort of criminal justice legislation moving through your committee, which is to say you`re investigating some kind of criminal justice reform, and after having a bunch of informational hearings about it, at a certain point, the chairman just comes out with basically a schedule saying, we`re going to have a vote on these reforms on a given day. 

So -- 

NADLER:  Essentially right. 

O`DONNELL:  -- we could at some point down the road have a day where Chairman Nadler announces that he is going to schedule a vote on two, three, four, whatever it is, articles of impeachment on X date at X time, release those articles, and that will be the moment. 

NADLER:  That`s (ph) -- well, that will be the moment for the vote. 

O`DONNELL:  Yes, right.

NADLER:  But the -- 

O`DONNELL:  But everything leading up to that is what people would think of as an impeachment inquiry. 

NADLER:  Well, people can think what they want.  Everything leading up in that is the process that leads up to possible voting on articles of impeachment.  We have to -- you know, we`ve accomplished several things, I think. 

Number one, last week with the Mueller hearings, despite the press saying, well, you know, he wasn`t the rock star and so forth, that`s not important.  What`s important is that we broke the logjam of the lies being told by the attorney general, by the president that the findings where of the Mueller report were no collusion, no obstruction and total exoneration.  All three of those are not true. 

The Mueller report found, after an exhaustive investigation very clearly that the Russians attacked our democracy, that -- in order to help the Trump campaign.  That the Trump campaign welcomed that help, worked with the Russians, formed their messaging strategy around anticipated releases of information stolen by the Russians at certain periods of time.  That the president lied to investigators and lied to the American people, that he told other people to lie to investigators.  All of those are very serious crimes of obstruction of justice. 

So, you now have the Mueller report, and I think this word will seep out, that they found very serious evidence of very serious crimes by the president when president -- plus they`re working with the Russians to subvert an American election, which is another serious crime. 

And we have to look into this now.  We have to lay out more evidence before the American people.  We have to get the witnesses -- the Mueller report is a summary of what other witnesses told them.  We have to get the same witnesses -- Don McGahn, Hope Hicks, Cory Lewandowski, other people, to come in and testify. 

And we are breaking the logjam.  This is what our litigation is designed to do, to break the logjam of the administration doing what was unprecedented, denying all congressional subpoenas, denying all information.  Nixon did much less than that in terms of opposing subpoenas and that was Article 3 of the impeachment of Nixon.  This president said right out front he`s going to deny all subpoenas. 

But we have to break that logjam, and we are in the strongest position of doing so when we can honestly tell the court we`re doing so for the purpose of considering how to discipline the president, where we need and whether we should vote articles of impeachment. 

O`DONNELL:  More and more members of the House want to move into a vote on articles of impeachment.  We`re now up to 100 -- well over 100, 109, something like that, today.  There seems to have been significant movement since the Mueller hearing. 

What do you -- what is the -- what is the point of this count?  Is there a spot we`re going to get to in that number where something changes in the dynamic in the House? 

NADLER:  Well, I don`t know that the specific number is that important, but obviously the more members of the House say that we should on articles of impeachment or even just have an inquiry, the more -- the easier it is politically to do it.  Now, this should not be a political issue, but it is political to some extent because it`s not traditional. 

But it makes it easier, and it shows the numbers who have seen the serious nature of the allegations and the serious evidence here, and also who have seen back home that people are paying attention and are getting more involved in this.  Because ultimately, the American people, if we`re going to vote articles of impeachment, the American people have to be in a position to support that. 

O`DONNELL:  Nancy Pelosi seems more reluctant to go in this direction than you do.  From my observation having worked in the Senate for a committee chairman, it is common for a leader of one of the bodies to be in a slightly different posture on something than a chairman.  That happens in multiple directions all the time.

Where do you see yourself in terms of -- 

NADLER:  Let me just say --

O`DONNELL:  Go ahead.

NADLER:  The lawsuit we brought last Friday to get the grand jury material.  The lawsuit we`re bringing this week to get McGahn`s testimony.  And if we break McGahn, we`ll get everybody else`s testimony because it`s the same legal issue.

O`DONNELL:  Uh-huh.

NADLER:  They could not have been brought without the strong support of Speaker Pelosi.  They`re being brought by the House counsel, which is his office which is controlled by the speaker, not by the chairman of Judiciary Committee.  And Speaker Pelosi is just as determined to hold this president accountable as anyone. 

O`DONNELL:  All right.  Let me just go to something before you go, which is the president`s 9/11 lie today.  I just to want show this to the audience before we discuss it. 


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Many of those affected were firefighters, police officers and other first responders.  And I was down there also, but I`m not considering myself a first responder, but I was I down there.  I spent a lot of time down there with you.  Since September 11th, we -- 


O`DONNELL:  That was an audience that had a lot of people who were down there.  None of them clapped for that, indicating that they don`t believe he was down there and some people who were there told "The New York Times" afterwards, no, he was not down there. 

NADLER:  Well, I was there, not all the time.  I never saw him there. 

I thought what the -- what the federal government did in the aftermath of the 9/11 disaster was shameful.  I fault no one for working on the pile without proper respiratory equipment the first three days when he may have been saving people and there might have been people still buried there.  But after three days, it was a cleanup, not a rescue operation.

And you had the head of the EPA and the mayor of the city of New York, for that matter, is assuring everybody that the air was safe to breathe, and we know perfectly well it was not safe to breathe.  I was telling people, don`t send your kids back to school, don`t go to work there, don`t work on the pile because it is not -- 


O`DONNELL:  What made you think that at that point? 

NADLER:  Well, because you went down there --

O`DONNELL:  You went down there. 

NADLER:  I was down there.

O`DONNELL:  You smelt it. 

NADLER:  Right, you smelt it, obviously, but you saw the dust over everything.  You knew that within that dust, there had to be asbestos, had to be fine bits of concrete. 

The first two days that they were saying that the air was safe to breathe, we really didn`t have scientific data, we just had suspicions.  After that, we knew they were lying.  We had the scientific data.  We had environmentalist groups telling us.

And people were being told, it`s safe to work there.  It`s safe to go back to school.  It`s safe to work on the pile. 

It was -- it was -- I get so upset.  It was not only unjustified, it was manslaughter.  It`s manslaughter on the part of the federal government and the mayor of the city at that point to allow people -- or to tell people it was safe when we knew it wasn`t safe.  And people are dying and will continue to die because of that today. 

O`DONNELL:  Chairman Jerry Nadler, thank you very much for joining us tonight.  I really appreciate it. 

NADLER:  Thank you. 

O`DONNELL:  Thank you.

When we come back, we have a new polling tonight on the eve of the next Democratic presidential debate. 

And later, Mitch McConnell is very, very upset, and he went to the floor of the United States Senate to talk about the comments that he has found so upsetting.  Hint:  those comments were not made by Donald Trump. 


O`DONNELL:  Donald Trump won the Electoral College with Russia`s help, as the Mueller report shows, and it seems Donald Trump wants Russia`s help again for his reelection campaign.  And that could be why.  Dan Coats, now that he has left the director of national intelligence, will be replaced if Donald Trump has his way, by this guy.


REP. JOHN RATCLIFFE (R-TX):  He manages to represent sacred traditions about prosecutors not offering extra prosecutorial analysis about potential crimes that aren`t charged.  So, Americans need to know this as they listen to the Democrats and socialists on the other side of the aisle. 


O`DONNELL:  Tonight, NBC news is reporting that there is no legal record of Congressman Ratcliffe participating in any terror prosecutions when he served in the Bush Justice Department in Texas, even though the congressman`s website claims he, quote, put terrorists in prison. 

If Donald Trump manages to get Texas congressman John Ratcliffe confirmed by the Senate as his next director of national intelligence, the president will continue his record-breaking pace of appointing inexperienced and utterly incompetent people to his administration and his cabinet. 

Joining us now is Brett McGurk who served in senior national security positions under Presidents Bush, Obama and President Trump.  He is also a senior foreign affairs analyst for NBC News and MSNBC. 

Also joining us is Democratic Congressman Seth Moulton from Massachusetts, a member of the Armed Services Committee.  He`s also a Democratic candidate for president.

Congressman Moulton, let me start with you, and your reaction to the possibility of Congressman Ratcliffe being the next head of the intelligence operations of this country.

REP. SETH MOULTON (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Lawrence, the most important conclusion of Robert Mueller`s investigation is that Russia attacked the United States.  And what John Ratcliffe did to earn this nomination is undermine Robert Mueller in the United States Congress.  He`s playing politics with a national security issue.  And that is the last thing we need as the director of national intelligence. 

You know, who we should have is someone like Will Hurd, a fellow congressman who actually had the courage to ask tough, pointed questions about Russia -- whether Russia will infiltrate and meddle in the 2020 elections.  Robert Mueller said yes, they will.  And, oh, by the way, Will Hurd is also a former CIA officer.  He actually has a background in intelligence which John Ratcliffe does not. 

O`DONNELL:  But he didn`t do anything in that hearing that pleased the president. 

MOULTON:  That`s right.  And so, once again, the president is getting rid of people who tell the truth and replacing them with people who will played politics.  This is a national security issue.  This is why we need to take on Donald Trump as commander in chief, not just as president, but as commander in chief in that -- in this race.  That`s what I`m doing in this presidential race. 

I actually think it`s where Donald Trump is weakest.  It`s also just fundamental to our national security.  We need to show how we need to keep America safe. 

O`DONNELL:  Brett, this happens only if the United States Senate confirms the president`s nominee, but this Senate has not been requiring much by way of qualification for Trump nominees. 

BRETT MCGURK, FORMER SPEICAL PRESIDENTIAL ENVOY:  Well, you know, it`s interesting, and I very much agree with the excellent points Seth just made, but there is a statute here for why this position was created.  It was created after the attacks of 9/11, and the first section of the statute that creates the ODNI says the director of national intelligence shall have extensive national security experience.  That`s a statutory requirement.  So that`s something obviously the Senate is going to pick up. 

I just want to echo what Seth said.  This is such an important position.  I mean, I`ve been to multiple meetings in the situation room, and what the director of national intelligence does is he frames the meeting.  At the beginning of each meeting, it is ODNI, that office, the principal, who basically lays out the facts of the decision that the president has to decide.  These are weighty things our country faces such as you`re sitting with a real hero on our set, sending our men and women off to foreign conflicts.

So, this an extremely consequential appointment and I think the Senate has some real due diligence to do. 

O`DONNELL:  Let`s listen to what John Brennan had to say about this.


JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR:  I have no sense that Trump is looking for somebody to speak truth to him about all of these challenges around the globe that really threaten our national security.  And Mr. Ratcliffe does not give me any confidence at all that he`s going to be able to direct the men and women of the intelligence community to do what they need to do at this troubling time. 


O`DONNELL:  Seth, it may be all up to Mitch McConnell. 

MOULTON:  A lot of things are in today`s world, which is why we have to get rid of Mitch McConnell.  But, you know, Brett is absolutely right.  These are national security issues, and one of the things that is true about any leadership position, but especially president of the United States, is you have to have people around you who will tell you the bad news.  That`s a quote from John F. Kennedy. 

He said, you`ve got to have people who are going to tell you the bad news, tell you the truth, and not play politics with something as fundamental as keeping our country safe.  And these decisions about whether we put young men and women into combat, and whether we respect the work of our intelligence professionals who are risking their lives every single day to keep us safe.  Every intelligence agency in the United States government concluded that Russia attacked the United States, but we have a president who would rather trust Putin. 

Dan coats, I don`t agree with them on everything, but he was willing to stand up to the president and tell the president when he was wrong.  That`s obviously why he resigned.  I`m not sure John Ratcliffe will do the same. 

O`DONNELL:  Brett, there are a lot of jobs in the federal government where you can install as the boss someone who has no idea what they`re doing or even someone who has bad intentions.  But as long as that person is surrounded by people who do have honorable intentions, do have experience and do know how to control the ball, that person at the top can sometimes be rendered harmless.  Is this one of those jobs? 

MCGURK:  I really don`t think so.  This is not the kind of job where you can kind of learn on the job.  I mean, the reason this job was created is that this is the job that prioritizes, that collects and that sets basically the prioritization of all the intelligence community of this government from 16 different intelligence agencies.  And basically delivers the presidential daily brief to the president every day. 

So, it is one of the most important jobs in government.  It`s in the shadows.  That statute I mentioned said that this position shall not sit in the executive office of the president.  It`s supposed to be independent because you have to do exactly what Seth said, tell the president the truth. 

When I was on the National Security Council to President Bush and was spending time in the Oval Office, I asked his new chief of staff John Bolton, any advice?  He said, yes, tell the president the truth in five minutes every morning.  That`s what you have to do to protect the country, that`s what presidents deserve, and obviously, I think there is some pause about this appointment and I hope the Senate does its job. 

O`DONNELL:  Seth, with you here as a member of Congress, two things I want to touch on very quickly.  Impeachment, you already said you`re in favor of it. 

MOULTON:  Absolutely.  In fact, I was the first person in this entire presidential field to not only come out in favor of having this impeachment investigation but actually voting for it in Congress back in December of 2017.  And I understand the political arguments for why it`s tough and the politics are difficult.  I get the fact that the polling is not with us yet. 

But how about just doing the right thing by the Constitution, the Constitution that I swore an oath to protect and defend?  I didn`t swear an oath to protect and defend the politics of my party or the politics of the 2020 election.  I swore an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.  And that`s what we have to do here. 

It`s up to us Democrats now to uphold the law, to have this impeachment inquiry, because the law is actually very simple.  Mueller made it clear he didn`t think he could prosecute the president, but if the president break the laws the law, and you impeachment proceedings, I don`t know why Democrats are so afraid to do that. 

O`DONNELL:  The oath you took is to defend the Constitution against enemies foreign and domestic. 

MOULTON:  Foreign and domestic.

O`DONNELL:  Is Donald Trump a domestic enemy of the Constitution? 

MOULTON:  I think he is.  And when you have a commander in chief, not just a president, but a commander in chief who is more interested in listening to Russia than our own intelligence professionals, what message does that send to a country of people who volunteer to serve in our military? 

Brett was our man on the ground in Iraq for many years.  That`s how I got to know him.  And he is working every day to understand what we need to do in an incredibly difficult place like Iraq. 

What does it say to him if he believes the commander in chief won`t listen to what he says because he`d rather learn of the political interpretation of his new director of national intelligence?  That`s what at stake here.  That`s what at stake in this election. 

It`s why we need to take on Donald Trump not just as president, but as commander in chief.  I believe he`s been derelict in his duty to keep this country safe. 

O`DONNELL:  Congressman Seth Moulton gets the LAST WORD in this discussion.  Brett McGurk, thank you, too, for joining us.  Really appreciate it. 

MCGURK:  Thank you.

And when we come back, we have new polling tonight in the Democratic presidential campaign on the eve of the next debate.

And later Donald Trump`s new lie about 9/11, we will take a look at it, we will analyze it. We will take a look at what we can - we think we can see him thinking when he`s telling that lie.


O`DONNELL: A new Quinnipiac poll shows Joe Biden returning to a strong lead in the Democratic field of presidential candidates. In that poll Joe Biden has moved back up to 34 percent, that`s up 12 points in the Quinnipiac poll from earlier this month.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is in second position in that poll with 15 percent, that`s up one point in the last month. Kamala Harris is that 12 percent and that is down eight points from the last Quinnipiac poll.

Bernie Sanders is in fourth position in the poll now 11 percent, down two points from the last Quinnipiac poll. And Pete Buddha judges at six percent, that is up two points from the last Quinnipiac poll.

Today senator Harris released her own Medicare-for-All proposal, that is of course different from the Medicare-for-All proposal introduced by senator Bernie Sanders in the Senate that is co-sponsored by Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Kamala Harris. Unlike a Senator Sanders` plan, Senator Harris`s proposal would reserve a role for private insurance as supplement to Medicare.

Elizabeth Warren is also up with a new international trade plan today, which she discussed during a town hall in Toledo Ohio.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We`ve had a trade policy basically for decades and it kind of boils down to this, do whatever the giant multinational corporations want America to do.

In Warren administration, you know who`s going to be in the room to negotiate? It`s going to be labor, workers, small businesses, small farmers, environmentalist, people who care about human rights.


O`DONNELL: After a break we will get into the presidential campaign with Neera Tanden and Jonathan Capehart. We`ll be right back.


O`DONNELL: Today, presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris was asked about Donald Trump`s weekend of racist attacks on Congressman Elijah Cummings.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He is doing what he has done from the time he became a candidate, which he is trying to divide this country. He`s trying to divide this country. He`s trying to say it`s us versus them. That is not reflective of a leader and certainly not an American leader.

But the American people are smarter than that. I believe in the American people. And we know that that`s not reflective of who we are. We know that the vast majority of us have so much more in common than what separates us.


O`DONNELL: Sharing our discussion now is Neera Tanden. She is a former senior adviser to President Obama. She was on the staff of Hillary Clinton`s first presidential campaign. She is president and CEO of the Center for American Progress.

Jonathan Capehart is with us. He`s an opinion writer for The Washington Post and MSNBC Contributor.

Neera, as a presidential campaign veteran, what is it like on the eve of a presidential debate when a new poll comes out that kind of reshapes the whole - the standing of things?

NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Well, I actually think despite what the polls say, what was clear from last - the last debate is that you have to go into the debates and really try to meet your campaign goals, which is, I think for most of these candidates, is to show that they are ready to go toe to toe with Donald Trump.

Kamala did that in the last debate. I think she`ll have an opportunity to do that in the coming days in the next debate. But I think each of these candidates tomorrow and the next day want to show that they are ready, not for this fight they will have with Democrats, but truly with - they`re prepared to actually take on Trump. He was - we see today is really a street fighter.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan, your reaction to the new poll.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, OPINION WRITER, THE WASHINGTON POST & MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well it is kind of interesting that the Vice President Biden has gone up, but that Senator Harris has gone down as the Q-poll showed minus 8.

But I looked at the fine print at the bottom where you have the margin of error. And I went back to the Q-poll`s announcement - press release about this poll. And it`s plus or minus five percentage points on a sample size that`s just about 560 Democrats or lean Democrat.

And so that`s a very - that`s very volatile. And so I think going into - I mean, seeing these numbers it gives you sort of an idea of where the race is. But with a margin of error that big and a drop so big for Senator Harris and for some of the other candidates, I think the race might be a little closer to what the old numbers were.

But going into this debate, these debates is the same as it was going into the first set of debates and that is Vice President Biden is the front- runner in this campaign. He has strong - he has very strong support.

And to Neera`s point, tomorrow all the candidates are going to have to make the case, but especially the ones on the stage with Vice President Biden on the second night are going to have to try to do things, say things that dampen his support or at least make people give them a second look.

O`DONNELL: Neera, one of the very important elements of this poll, which is actually consistent with many other polls, and that is the question of Donald Trump. Definitely vote for Donald Trump 32%, consider voting for Donald Trump 12%, which would put him up at a maximum to 44%. And then this stunning number, definitely not vote for Trump, 54%.

Neera, as you know in campaigning, the hardest thing you can possibly try to do in campaigning is change the mind of someone who says I definitely will not vote for you.

TANDEN: Yes, I mean, this is this is a flashing red light for the Trump campaign. And I think, honestly, one of the reasons why Mitch McConnell doesn`t want to pass an election security bill is, because I honestly believe they think they need outside help for this.

Because the 54% do not - will not support really under any circumstance is really a problem for any campaign. And I want to underscore one additional point. When you look at the numbers, actually 49% of white voters are saying that they will absolutely not support him and only 38% are saying they will support him.

So after all this racism where a lot of pundits said that it`s actually going to help him with white voters and it`s actually a super smart ploy to invoke his base, what you`re seeing is that he`s actually repelling a majority of the country from his divisive, racist rhetoric.

And you know I think the challenge for the Trump campaign is Donald Trump himself. You know the person that he is, is just used to dividing and not adding. It`s you know playing this kind of us versus them politics, which I think the country is hopefully very tired of.

O`DONNELL: And Jonathan it seemed the President - his campaign this weekend was he doesn`t want to leave a single possible racist vote for him behind.

CAPEHART: Yes. I mean, it`s stunning that a man who burst onto the national political scene by questioning the citizenship of the first African- American President, who announced his campaign on June 16, 2015, by saying within the first two minutes that Mexicans were rapists.

The idea that there were more stones to unturn is incredible, so this weekend it was just bizarre and bananas. I don`t know how else to describe him.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan Capehart, Neera Tanden thanks for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.

And when we come back, Mitch McConnell is very, very upset he had to go to the Senate floor because there was something he desperately needed to talk about on the floor. It wasn`t legislation. It was comments that upset him and it was not something President Trump said.


O`DONNELL: Mitch McConnell rushed to the Senate floor today to express his outrage over Donald Trump`s racist weekend rant against Congressman Elijah Cummings.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): First there`s something I need to address.


O`DONNELL: Nah, it wasn`t the Trump weekend of public racist rants. That didn`t bother the Majority Leader of the United States Senate one bit. He didn`t care about that, hasn`t said a word about that. Here is what Mitch McConnell felt he had to urgently address.


MCCONNELL: Over the last several days, I was called unpatriotic, un- American and essentially treasonous by a couple of Left wing pundits.


O`DONNELL: Not me. Not guilty. Didn`t do it.


O`DONNELL: The smear that I am quote "a Russian asset" ran in the opinion pages of the Washington Post. The accusation that I`m quote "un-American" was broadcast on MSNBC. This is the state Mr. President of Left-wing politics in 2019.


O`DONNELL: No it`s not. The person who called Mitch McConnell un-American on MSNBC on Friday, which provoked Mitch McConnell to go to the Senate floor today to complain about it, is not a Left-winger. He is a former Republican Congressman.


JOE SCARBOROUGH, HOST MSNBC: I want to talk about Moscow Mitch. Moscow Mitch says it`s a hoax. How could Moscow Mitch so willingly turn a blind eye? Moscow Mitch won`t even let the Senate take a vote on it. That is un- American. He`s Moscow Mitch.


O`DONNELL: Joe Scarborough called him Moscow Mitch 16 times Friday morning when I was watching Morning Joe. Joe Scarborough was objecting to the very same thing that Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank was objecting to in his column entitled "Mitch McConnell is a Russian Asset". Dana Milbank is not a Left-winger. Dana Milbank is not a partisan, political columnist.

Dana Milbank who has now found his way into the Congressional Record through Mitch McConnell`s complaining speech today, said that "Mitch McConnell is a Russian asset because he is blocking legislation requiring presidential campaigns to report any offers of assistance from foreign governments to the FBI".

Dana Milbank wrote this about Mitch McConnell. Presumably he thinks whatever influence Russia exerts over U.S. elections will benefit him. He`s up for reelection in 2020 and his party.

So the lesson of the day is, do not dare call Mitch McConnell a Russian asset or un-American or "Moscow Mitch" because if you do, he just might repeat some of your words into the congressional record where your words will live forever.


O`DONNELL: Donald Trump did it again today, he did what he always does when he talks about 9/11, he lied. This time he told them new lie and the proof that it is a lie is right there in the video recording of what the President said.

The proof is the silence after the President said it - a silent that speaks the truth to the President`s lie. Today Donald Trump profanely and falsely tried to include himself among the very brave people who went to Ground Zero where the World Trade Center once stood and exposed themselves to the toxic debris there that made so many of the first responders fall ill, some fatally ill.

Here is President Trump reading his teleprompter today at the bill signing of the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund, a bill that the President did absolutely nothing to help pass.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Many of those affected were firefighters, police officers and other first responders. And I was down there also, but I`m not considering myself a first responder. But I was down there. I spent a lot of time down there with you.

Since September 11th, we have lost more than 2,000 first responders and survivors to 9/11 related cancers and illnesses.


O`DONNELL: You notice it`s when the President goes off his teleprompter that he adds his grotesque lie - I was down there also, but I`m not considering myself a first responder. But I was down there. I spent a lot of time down there with you. And that statement was greeted by silence from the people in that audience who were down there.

If Donald Trump spent a lot of time down there with them, they would have applauded. Instead, the people who know the truth were silent.

Richard Alles was a Deputy Chief with the New York Fire Department on 9/11 and was in the Rose Garden today when the President lied to his face. He told "The New York Times" today that he spent many months at Ground Zero and he never saw Donald Trump.

Mr. Alles told "The Times" he had vivid memories of other people being there, like Democratic Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney who was one of the sponsors of the bill that the President signed today. But Carolyn Maloney`s office said that she was not invited to the White House bill signing.

This is what makes Donald Trump such a pathological liar. That he will lie directly to people who he knows the truth. Now we`re going to run that video of the lie once again, so that you can watch the pathological process he goes through.

And, I think, what you will see on his face in the small space that he leaves for applause is the very quick realization that he is more likely to get booed for his deplorable lie and so he chooses to race on to the next sentence in his teleprompter. Take another look.


TRUMP: Many of those affected were firefighters, police officers and other first responders. And I was down there also, but I`m not considering myself a first responder. But I was down there. I spent a lot of time down there with you.

Since September 11th we have--


O`DONNELL: It`s not the worst lie he`s told about 9/11. His worst lie about 9/11 was a lie he told only twice in about a 12 hour period and then never told it again. And the fact that he did not tell that lie again today is further proof that it is a lie.

And it is a lie that he got away with, because when you look at the lists of Trump 9/11 lies that most news reports have assembled today, this lie isn`t on most of those lists and so it remains the great forgotten Trump lie about 9/11.

In the South Carolina Republican primary debate, Donald Trump told the lie that he lost hundreds of friends on 9/11.


TRUMP: How did he keep us safe when the World Trade Center - the World - excuse me. I lost hundreds of friends--


TRUMP: I immediately tweeted that that was a lie when I heard him say it that night. And the next day on "Meet the Press" Donald Trump reduced his lie to quote "many, many friends".


TRUMP: I was there. I lost many, many friends in that tragedy.


O`DONNELL: And I immediately tweeted that that was also a lie and Donald Trump never said it again.

Donald Trump lost zero friends on 9/11. Donald Trump attended zero 9/11 funerals -- zero. Not hundreds, zero.

And if Donald Trump had attended even a single 9/11 funeral or if he had lost a single distant acquaintance on 9/11, you would have heard about that today.  If Donald Trump lost many, many friends on 9/11, you would have heard about that today.  So Donald Trump`s silence today about his own lying claim of suffering the loss of hundreds of friends on 9/11 proves once again that he was lying when he tried to steal the grief of the people who lost loved ones on 9/11 and make that grief his own.  And it proves once again that Donald Trump will lie to anyone at any time, in any place, on any occasion, no matter how sacred or solemn, about anything.

That is tonight`s LAST WORD.  "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.