Trump triggers confusion. TRANSCRIPT: 8/26/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell.

Guests: Raja Krishnamoorthi, Cornell Belcher, Mark Murray, Michael Mann

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Rachel.

And this announcement by the president that he wants to have, when he`s host of the G7 next year, he wants to have it on one of his own properties, continues this phenomenon of possible Trump crimes committed in public, therefore, they`re not crimes just by doing them in public.  The emolument clause, as we know, has really been thoroughly tested all the way to the point where we can say with certainty that it`s illegal for the president to do that. 

But it certainly appears to be.  It certainly might be.  And there certainly is no other president in history who would run the risk of appearing to do something that might be illegal like this, but then there`s Donald Trump. 

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  Well, I mean, the thing about the emolument stuff, too, is that like for all of the cases that are right now being rankled over in terms of him receiving foreign emoluments in contradiction to the Constitution, all of that stuff is, like, you know, how do you separate out the normal profits that his hotel would be making versus additional profits that he`s making because he`s president.  All this sort of fine points, trying to figure out that, you know, judges and lawyers are trying to figure all that stuff out. 

This thing about making other countries pay him if they want to come to the G7, they have to pay his family if they want to attend the G7 summit, I mean, that`s like the test case you would invent in kindergarten or first grade in order to make crystal clear to everybody involved, what`s the -- what is the legal way to do this?  I mean, it`s a laboratory concocted test case for the most illegal thing you could do when it comes to that part of the Constitution. 

O`DONNELL:  Well, we`ll see what it does, if it happens, to attendance at the G7.  Who knows?

MADDOW:  Maybe it will be the G1. 

O`DONNELL:  Yes, it could be. 

Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW:  Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL:  The G1.  I`m stealing that.  I`m going to have to use that. 

So, if you think, if it crosses your mind someday that the best way for us to deal with hurricanes is to nuke them, then that`s your problem.  And there`s nothing to be concerned about, that you happen to think that.  But what if the guy with our nuclear codes in his pocket thinks nuking hurricanes is the way to stop hurricanes and he repeatedly asks about that in White House briefings? 

That`s going to be the subject of Trump talk at the end of this hour tonight.  Tonight`s episode of "Trump talk" in which we try to explain in terms that even a Trump voter can understand what is behind the latest, very strange piece of "Trump talk." 

The Rupert Murdoch-owned an editorially Trump-supporting "Wall Street Journal" could not ignore the obvious this weekend.  And so, "The Wall Street Journal`s" top headline today was as positive to Donald Trump as possible, U.S. left isolated at G7 summit.  "Wall Street Journal" editors know that they would be immediately fired by Rupert Murdoch right now if they put the word "humiliated" in that headline.  And so, they put "isolated," which is the kindest possible and still accurate description for what happens to Donald Trump at global summits. 

Donald Trump flew off to the G7 Summit this weekend after a day of rage- tweeting about China`s response to the illegal Trump tariffs.  Everyone at the G7 knows that the Trump tariffs are illegal because they know that American law and international trading rules, the American president is only allowed to raise tariffs as a matter of national security. 

So, the Trump tariffs on Chinese washing machines, which have nothing to do with national security, are illegal, patently illegal, and so are the rest of the Trump tariffs which have nothing to do with national security.  Tariffs can be raised and lowered by Congress for any reason, but the president`s authority to do so rests entirely on national security. 

Since China is not really a democracy, President Xi of China can do whatever he wants with tariffs, and so, Donald Trump was shocked that China`s response last week to Donald Trump`s September 1st scheduled increase in tariffs on Chinese goods was new tariffs by China.  Fighting tariffs with tariffs is something that always happens in trade wars.  And so, Donald Trump was the only person in the world surprised by China`s new move on tariffs. 

In one of his rage tweets on Friday, Donald Trump used an exclamation point to say that China`s tariffs are, quote, politically motivated.  All tariffs on the planet are now and always have been politically motivated.  And so, the Trump response was, of course, to increase the illegal Trump tariffs. 

And then on Sunday, in what you can be forgiven for thinking was his continued attempt to hold onto the title of most humiliated person in the history of global summits, Donald Trump said he not only has second thoughts about his illegal tariffs, he has second thoughts about everything. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER:  Do you have second thoughts about escalating the trade war with China? 

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Yes, for sure.  Why not? 

REPORTER:  Second thoughts?

TRUMP:  Might as well.  Might as well.

REPORTER:  You have second thoughts about escalating the war with China? 

TRUMP:  I have second thoughts about everything. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  Second thoughts about everything. 

Well, we know just from the public record he`s had second thoughts about most of his wives and most of the people he has hired to work in the White House, but he has never had a public second thought about his big lie about our trading relationship with China. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  China has been taking, out of this country, 500-plus billion dollars a year for many, many years.  It was time to stop. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  It doesn`t have to stop, and it`s not going to stop, because if it did stop, it would create a global depression, which is what the G7 is worried about.  It`s not going to stop because America loves what it gets for the money that Donald Trump says China is taking from us. 

Donald Trump tries to pretend that China just takes the money.  Chinese producers of goods take our money and give us the goods that we want.  The Chinese-made washing machines or iPhones or athletic shoes and jeans and so on and so on and so on, and that`s the way international trade works. 

And everyone at the G7 except Donald Trump knows that.  And everyone at the G7 except Donald Trump knows that the Trump tariffs and trade war with China are threatening to slow down the global economy.  So everyone at the G7 was trying to, at minimum, cause Donald Trump to have second thoughts about his tariffs.  But now that Donald Trump is back home, he will have third and fourth thoughts about his tariffs. 

Donald Trump has inverted the American political and diplomatic tradition of not criticizing the president on foreign soil.  The president he criticizes, of course, is Barack Obama.  Donald Trump is apparently haunted by the knowledge that Barack Obama was fully respected by everyone at global summits as the most powerful person in the room and fully respected intellectually and fully respected for his judgment in international affairs. 

Donald Trump knows he has none of that respect.  And so he desperately reaches for it, and in his reach, he exhibits why he deserves no respect on international affairs from anyone and why he will never get it. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  The certain section of Ukraine that you know very well where it was sort of taken away from President Obama.  Not taken away from president Trump, taken away from President Obama.  President Obama was not happy that this happened because it was embarrassing to him, right? 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  Wrong.  What you just said is embarrassing to you.  Number one, you obviously cannot remember the part of Ukraine that was seized by Vladimir Putin, Crimea. 

Everyone there knows that Donald Trump no longer has the neurological capacity to retain facts like that, if he ever did.  Everyone at the G7 knows that Donald Trump does not have the basic necessary mental capacity for the job of the American presidency, and that was on display all weekend.  And everyone at the G7 and around the world knows that the United States and President Obama never possessed Ukraine or Crimea, and therefore, it could never have been taken away from President Obama. 

Here is all of the land on the planet that is in any sense under the jurisdiction of the president of the United States.  And here is where Ukraine is.  Saying a certain section of Ukraine was taken away from president Obama is exactly the same as saying that France was taken away from President Franklin Roosevelt when Nazi Germany invaded France before the United States entered World War II. 

Donald Trump was trying to humiliate President Obama, but the joke is always on Donald Trump, because every word of what Donald Trump said about President Obama humiliated Donald Trump by displaying his limitless ignorance to the world.  The presidency is an oral exam, and Donald Trump fails that oral exam every day.  It is always Donald Trump`s publicly self- inflicted wounds that hurt him the most. 

No one paints Donald Trump into a corner better than Donald Trump.  Watch him do it today when Yamiche Alcindor keeps pressing him on the lies Donald Trump was telling about President Obama today.  And just as a neurological sidebar, notice that Donald Trump was able to insert the word Crimea in his answer only at this point because he just heard it in Yamiche`s question. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  And they say, how does that work?

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR:  The misleading statement that Russia outsmarted President Obama.

TRUMP:  Well, he did.

ALCINDOR:  When other countries have said that the reason why Russia was kicked out was very clearly because they annexed Crimea.  Why keep repeating what some people would see as a clear lie?

TRUMP:  Well, it was annexed during President -- I know you liked President Obama, but it was annexed during President Obama`s term.  If it was annexed during my term, I would say, sorry, folks, I made a mistake.  Sorry, folks.

President Obama was helping Ukraine.  Crimea was annexed during his term.  Now, it`s a very big area, very important area. 

Russia has its submarine.  That`s where they do their submarine work and that`s where they dock large and powerful submarines, but not as powerful as ours and not as large as ours, but they have their submarines. 

And President Obama was, pure and simply, outsmarted.  They took Crimea during his term.  That was not a good thing.  It could have been stopped.  It could have been stopped with the right whatever.  It could have been stopped.  But President Obama was unable to stop it and it`s too bad. 

Go ahead.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  The right whatever.  It could have been stopped, could have been stopped with the right whatever.

That`s what President Obama should have done to prevent Vladimir Putin from invading Ukraine and seizing Crimea, the right whatever.  That`s what Donald Trump says he would have done, the right whatever. 

If that`s your answer in your oral exam for your PhD and international relations, you`re not going to get your PhD.  If Donald Trump gave that answer on a TV game show, even Trump voters would know that Donald Trump is going to lose that game show.  Everyone at the G7 is reading the polls in the United States that give them every reason to hope that Donald Trump will only be attending one more G7 meeting.  And they know that the next president to attend the G7 meeting after Donald Trump will never say that the solution to anything is "the right whatever."

Leading off our discussion tonight are: Ambassador Wendy Sherman, former under secretary of state for political affairs and MSNBC global affairs contributor.  Also with us, Ben Rhodes, a former deputy national security adviser to President Obama.  He is an MSNBC political analyst. 

And, Wendy Sherman, there is so much to react to in this G7 weekend.  I leave it open to you to take your pick. 

WENDY SHERMAN, MSNBC GLOBAL AFFARIS CONTRIBUTOR:  It`s really as I sort of said half tongue in cheek a doozy.  I`ve been to several G7s as has been, and this one was one of a kind. 

They treated him, the other leaders, with kid gloves because they didn`t want to agitate as what they perceive as really a child who could throw a temper tantrum at any moment.  Your whole riff on tariffs is so true, Lawrence, because the president only looks -- even though he said in his press conference today he doesn`t make any decisions on the basis of politics, all of his decisions are about whether he can get reelected.  He looks at poll numbers and he looks at the stock market numbers. 

So first he said, I`m having second thoughts about China and tariffs because the stock market had tanked.  Then his hardliners pulled him back.  The stock market went down again.  And then he said, well, we`ve gotten these late night phone calls.  Mnuchin corrected him, the treasury secretary, by saying they were communications. 

All of this has nothing to do with real life.  This has to do with the president of the United States caring about what the Dow Jones Average is and what his poll numbers are, and as you point out, going after everyone who has been a successful president or almost president in the case of Hillary Clinton.  He goes after all of those who might defeat him, who might come and confront him for his whatevers. 

O`DONNELL:  I want to consider something we`ve never had to consider before for a president of any previous president attending a G7 or anything else, and that is the mental capacity of the president, the mental health of the president, possibly the mental deterioration of the president. 

And we`re going to listen to him describing today his wife`s relationship to Kim Jong-un.  Let`s listen to that. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  I also say that, by the way, with respect to North Korea.  Kim Jong-un, who I`ve gotten to know extremely well, first lady has gotten to know Kim Jong-un, and I think she would agree with me.  (AUDIO GAP) a man with a country that has tremendous potential. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  So, Ben, everyone there knows and they probably knew when he was saying it, that Melania Trump has never met Kim Jong-un.  The White House has since admitted that.  These leaders are watching each other, they`re evaluating each other all the time, they have to deal with each other one on one.  They have to deal with the group dynamics. 

What do you imagine it`s like for the other leaders of the other countries who are there when they`re watching him say things like this, which are completely false, that his wife has a good relationship with Jong-un?  What are they thinking in terms of the brain they`re dealing with what they`re dealing with Donald Trump? 

BEN RHODES, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST:  Well, Lawrence, I just wish I had known when I was in the White House that if we had the right whatever we could have dealt with Ukraine. 

But here`s what I would say.  The leaders of those other countries are dealing with real problems, right?  I`ve been -- I`ve been with Wendy at many G7s, I went to eight with President Obama.  That`s usually when you sit down and roll up your sleeves and really deal with the challenges that are shaping the global environment. 

And now, what they see in Donald Trump is someone who is completely incompetent to deal with those challenges, but importantly, he`s also someone who has created almost all the crises that they`re being dealt at the G7.  So, the trade war with China, the risk of global recession, created by Donald Trump.  Iran resuming its stockpile of nuclear material, created by Donald Trump pulling out of the Iran deal. 

Kim Jong-un, the person he lavishes such praise on, is still shooting off missiles in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.  Climate change is accelerating in part because Donald Trump pulls out of the Paris accords, giving a green light to a populist like the president of Brazil to go ahead and create a manmade crisis in the Amazon rainforest.

So, they don`t have the luxury of kind of sitting here and reading the tea leaves and wondering what the reality show of the Trump presidency is.  They actually have to deal with problems, and what I saw at the G7 is a G6 in which the rest of the world in year three of the Trump presidency is already moving beyond this guy.  They`re just trying to figure out how can we stop him from wrecking the summit so we can on the sidelines try to get something done? 

We`re witnessing before our eyes, Lawrence, kind of the creation of the post-American led free world and that should really worry us because it`s leading some very real crises in many different parts of the globe. 

O`DONNELL:  Ambassador Sherman, or the G6, as Ben refers to them, are they just trying to hold on for the next 18 months and hope that our election night changes who they`re going to have to deal with as next president? 

SHERMAN:  I would say two things, Lawrence.  Sure, they`re hoping our election will change things and they won`t have to deal with Donald Trump for another 20 -- for another 24 years -- another four years.  But Ben said something really important, which is there are real problems that aren`t going to wait for the next election.  And these leaders have their own domestic constituencies, they have their own challenges. 

Boris Johnson, who seems to be a pal of Donald Trump`s, nonetheless, told Donald Trump publicly that the tariffs on China were going too far and that Great Britain actually sort of likes free trade and would like Donald Trump to get out of the way.  Macron, whose own poll numbers are not so great, is trying to take over as the leader of the free world and trying to mediate a relationship with Iran to get us out of this incredibly difficult crisis that we are currently in.

And poor Prime Minister Abe who saw the president even during the transition, really tried to build a relationship with the president.  The president says, we`ve got principles agreed to on a free trade agreement.  Abe had to pull that back a little bit. 

And most importantly, Abe knows that the missiles that Kim Jong-un is testing can reach Japan even if they can`t reach the United States, and he wonders why his good friend Donald Trump is abandoning him because these missiles can`t reach to Donald Trump quite yet.  It is really a very fraught situation where these leaders are trying to solve real problems that won`t wait out our election. 

O`DONNELL:  And, Ben, clearly the Trump tariffs, which is one of the major tensions of the weekend that the G6 are hoping they can do something about, it`s the American voter that`s going to change what`s happening with the Trump tariffs as Donald Trump continues to see what those tariffs are doing to the people he wants as his voters.  It seems to me that`s where this will change. 

RHODES:  That`s absolutely right, Lawrence.  And let`s face it, as with the criticism of Obama, President Trump came into this office with kind of the world view of a habitual right wing media consumer.  And he had this desire to get into a trade war with China. 

But he had no idea, Lawrence, where this was going to end, where the objectives were.  To this day, at the end of this trade war, we have no idea what Donald Trump is trying to achieve.  And what -- let`s be honest about what we`re facing here, the tariffs are taxes on Americans.  Americans are paying more for goods because Donald Trump is levying these tariffs. 

Americans in key industries that he needs for his reelection like agriculture are being decimated by this trade war with China because of the reprisals from China are really hurting American farmers.  So what we`re seeing, and what I think the candidates have to articulate is Donald Trump`s recklessness, the thing that everybody knows about him, that he`s reckless impetuous and doesn`t think things through, we`re seeing the very real consequences of that, day to day, and the prices people are paying, and the costs this is having on American sectors that are really important to our economy, and most importantly, to the potential recession that is coming. 

They inherent Obama economy and his reckless trade war could put us into a global economic downturn.  I think that`s what`s worrying all these leaders, and that should be worrying Americans as well. 

O`DONNELL:  Ambassador Wendy Sherman and Ben Rhodes, thank you for starting us off tonight.  I really appreciate it. 

SHERMAN:  Thank you.

  RHODES:  Thanks. 

O`DONNELL:  And when we come back, another Democratic member of Congress, an important Democratic member of Congress has now come out in support of an impeachment inquiry. 

And we have new polling tonight in the Democratic race for the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party.  We will be covering that poll and seeing where that race is going. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL:  Today, Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, and House Oversight Committee announced his support of an impeachment inquiry against President Trump.  This brings the total number of House Democrats supporting an impeachment inquiry to 133 out of the 235 Democratic majority in the House.

And today, the House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed former White House aide Rod Porter to testify in its impeachment investigation about passages in the Mueller report that showed Donald Trump directing Rob Porter to help Donald Trump lie about his attempts to fire special counsel Robert Mueller. 

Porter spoke to McGahn.  Porter told McGahn he had to write a letter to dispute that he was ever ordered to terminate the special counsel.  McGahn shrugged off the request, explaining that the media reports were true.  McGahn told Porter that the president had been insistent on firing the special counsel and that McGahn had planned to resign rather than carry out the order, although he had not personally told the president he had intended to quit.  Porter told McGahn that the president suggested that McGahn would be fired if he did not write the letter. 

Joining our discussion now is Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois.  He`s a member of the House Oversight and Intelligence Committees. 

Congressman, thank you very much for joining us tonight.  I really appreciate it. 

REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL):  Thank you, Lawrence.  Absolutely. 

O`DONNELL:  Tell us how you came to your position on impeachment. 

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  Well, I think last week, Chairman Nadler formally requested the other committees of jurisdiction in the wide-ranging investigations of President Trump to produce any information that would bear on an impeachment investigation, and so, I decided that I wanted to support this particular process.  I`m urging our committees, both the Oversight and Intelligence Committees to cooperate.  I suspect they will.  And that was really what precipitated my decision. 

O`DONNELL:  And what`s been the reaction of your constituents? 

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  There`s been a lot of support.  There are some people that have some concerns, but I think that overall, I think that a lot of people know that this is probably the right thing to do because, you know, quite frankly, although none of us, including myself, relish the thought of this impeachment investigation, it`s something that has to happen because we know, not just based on the Mueller report but based on my questioning witnesses as well as looking at classified and unclassified documents, that the president has engaged in seriously troubling, unethical and illegal behavior. 

O`DONNELL:  What is your understanding of Speaker Pelosi`s position on impeachment as of now? 

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  I think that her position is that she wants to allow members of the caucus, based on their conscience, to express themselves on whether they would support the process or not.  And that includes supporting an impeachment investigation or inquiry.  But I think that I don`t know, you know, what beyond that she would want to have happen. 

My own view is that we have to conduct the impeachment investigation and inquiry to be able to assemble the information necessary to make a decision on next steps.  That`s very important right now. 

O`DONNELL:  Chairman Nadler of the Judiciary Committee who has jurisdiction over the impeachment process says that what he`s doing is an impeachment investigation.  He`s essentially said that in court in pursuing these subpoenas.

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  Yes.

O`DONNELL:  So I`ve got to say at the outset of this discussion months ago, the coming out in favor of an impeachment inquiry was something I understood.  I`m not sure I understand that anymore because Chairman Nadler has said, we`re already there.  We`re in an impeachment inquiry. 

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  Right, because I think he believes he has the tools necessary to conduct that impeachment inquiry, or what he calls impeachment investigation, without formally, you know, beginning that process through a large House vote and so forth.  And I think that`s important because, as you know, there`s been tremendous stonewalling by the Trump administration with regard to the production of documents or witnesses for any type of oversight, you know, let alone this impeachment investigation. 

So, with regard to calling it an impeachment investigation and conducting it in that manner, I think that will actually help to bring more urgency to the court`s kind of decision and evaluation of how to proceed on the various legal matters in trying to get documents and witnesses, you know, to Capitol Hill. 

O`DONNELL:  Is there any coordination among the Democrats about when members come out in favor of the impeachment process? 

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  No, no, no.

O`DONNELL:  Because some days there`s three, some days there`s one.  Go ahead. 

KRISHNAMOORTHI:  I really think it really is something that`s kind of based on people`s conscience.  You know, I thought very long and hard about this.  I`ve struggled with this decision. 

You know, I was raised to respect every President regardless of party as well as the electoral process. And I think that when you come to a decision like an impeachment investigation, that`s a big deal. And unfortunately, we are at that point because of all the reasons that we`ve talked about on this program before.

O`DONNELL: Number 133, Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi now in favor of the impeachment process.

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Thanks. Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you very much for joining us, and I really appreciate it, Congressman.

KRISHNAMOORTHI: Thank you, sir.

O`DONNELL: And when we come back, we have new polls on the Democratic Presidential campaign, and later in this hour, "Trump Talk," Donald Trump`s idea to stop hurricanes with nuclear bombs.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Tonight we have new polling in the Democratic Presidential campaign. A new Monmouth University poll shows a statistical freeway tie for Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden. It`s the second poll that has shown a three-way statistical tie for the lead.

The Biden campaign released a statement saying about the Monmouth poll, "This poll is an outlier that was contradicted by every measure of the national average." An average of national polls by RealClearPolitics shows Joe Biden with a roughly 10-point lead over Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

This weekend, Senator Elizabeth Warren drew an estimated 15,000 people to her campaign, event in Seattle. That is the largest crowd of her campaign so far. The Monmouth poll does not change the next Democratic debate. Ten candidates have already qualified for the debate in Houston next month. The other candidates have until Wednesday to get the 130,000 unique donors and four polls showing them at 2 percent or higher to qualify.

September`s Democratic debate will be the first time that Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren will be on the same debate stage. We will discuss the state of the Democratic race with Cornell Belcher and Mark Murray after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Seth Moulton said that it`s a race between - it`s a three-way race between yourself and Senator Sanders and Warren. Do you see it that way?

JOE BIDEN (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No. Look, as I told before, this has just started. This is a marathon. We`ve got another how many days - a long, long time before this primary is over. And then we`ve got another, what, close to 400 days before there is a Presidential election. So it`s a long way. There`s a lot of qualified candidates running. My hope is that I think you`re going to see more of it. We`re going to start talking about what our plans for the future are instead of (ph) making up things about somebody`s past.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And we`re joined by tonight`s poll watchers, Cornell Belcher, Democratic pollster and MSNBC political analyst, and Mark Murray, Senior Political Editor for NBC News.

Cornell, what do you make of the new poll?

CORNELL BELCHER, DEMOCRATIC POLLSTER: I think it makes a lot of sense. Look, there`s some caution it`s a small sample size. But you do see some trend lines here. And again, I was cautioned that, as you know, Lawrence, it`s not a national election. It is a state-by-state contest.

That said, some of the national polls do show some indications of what`s happening underneath and some trend lines here. And I think this trend line is fairly clear, Lawrence, that Senator Warren is running a really good race, I`d argue she`s running the best campaign thus far. It is beginning to show. I mean, she`s got putting her head down, she`s putting in the work, she`s showing up places, she`s coming up with policies, she`s answering a lot of questions.

Even more important to me than sort of what the horse race is in the national elections is the trend line that I think is really important here is that if you look at her favorability over the last several months, what you want to see is, are more voters getting to know her and are they - if their favorables are growing? So even, the horse race number aside, that she is growing her name recognition and more voters are beginning to know her and think favorable of her, says she`s moving in the right direction. And I would not be surprised, Lawrence, that fairly soon she is going to really be challenging for the frontrunner status in this campaign.

O`DONNELL: And Mark, this seems - this new poll seems to pick up on something that we saw in the Economist poll, which is about a week old - a week older than this one, which was a statistical tie at the limits of the margin of error that had Biden at 22, Sanders at 19, Warren at 17. So, to see a poll a week later with them bunched tighter together really shouldn`t be that surprising.

MARK MURRAY, SENIOR POLITICAL EDITOR, NBC NEWS: I don`t think it`s that surprising although you have to look at it with the totality of the other polling out there as well. And so just in the past couple of weeks, you`ve had a CNN poll, a very high quality poll, that had Joe Biden with a double- digit lead over Bernie Sanders and was with Warren. A high-quality Fox News poll showed about the same result. Our NBC/Wall Street Journal poll taken last month showed Joe Biden with a seven-point lead.

And Lawrence, there is a - just within the last hour, a Morning Consult online poll that just came out that showed that Joe Biden had a 13-point lead over Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. And so I do think that this race is becoming, I think, more competitive.

I agree with Cornell completely that one of the big trend lines is Elizabeth Warren and her steady improvement in the polling. But overall, I still think you have to say that Joe Biden at this stage is still the frontrunner, a very vulnerable frontrunner, and then followed by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in some type of order. And with the caveat that Cornell just mentioned, we have a very long ways to go before we get this decided, particular before we get to Iowa.

O`DONNELL: So, Mark, just as a word of advice to our viewers, you just cited a range of polling showing some very different numbers.

MURRAY: Yes.

O`DONNELL: And that is why you guys are always urging people to look at the average.

MURRAY: That`s right. And I think the average helps. I also just think the totality of the direction. And Lawrence, you mentioned the YouGov/Economist poll as well as this Monmouth poll, both showing very, very close races in our polling. My rule of thumb is like normally let`s wait for three.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

MURRAY: If all of a sudden, there is one more that comes out, I`ll say, boy, we have a race on our hands. But Lawrence, what actually stands out to me right now is really just how stable this field has been, with the exceptions of Elizabeth Warren and her improvement, Kamala Harris taking off after that first debate and then coming back down to earth after the second one.

But overall, the polls have actually been pretty, pretty stable with this 20-person field. And what I`m really interested in what ends up happening is when this field gets winnowed down to 10 people, then six, and four, what does this race look like before we get to Iowa.

O`DONNELL: Cornell, what do the crowds mean? We`re looking at Elizabeth Warren getting for her a huge crowd, 15,000. I mean, earlier in the campaign, Kamala Harris had crowd - her announcement crowd was bigger than that. Bernie Sanders has had really big crowds at different times, especially in his previous campaign. And there`s always that campaign operative discussion about the crowds don`t mean anything because it`s just that one little town. But what do you see in Elizabeth Warren pulling in the 15,000 this weekend?

BELCHER: Well, two things, Lawrence. Before I touch that, I actually want to get further in the polling of--

O`DONNELL: Go ahead.

BELCHER: --nerd weeds. And that is, talk about the - why you do see often samples - the numbers move around is what`s a likely voter. Like, Lawrence, we`re lucky if we get half of Americans to vote in a general election. You`re getting a lot less than that who are voting in a primary. So, instead of it - a commercial fishing is more like fly fishing.

So, us - so trying to figure out what the primary electorate is, is not always that easy. So you will see some movement depending on who they let in a screen or who they don`t let out a screen, and particularly in early state places like New Hampshire where you have a large swath of independent voters who can enter the Democratic primary and play that Democratic primary. Guessing the electorate becomes just that, it becomes just as much art as science. So you will see some movement there in the polls. So I got really nerdy on you with polls and samples.

Now, that said, I think that when you look at the crowd size - look, I worked for a guy in 2008 where we started seeing these immense crowds showing up and we were like, what does this mean? I think it means that you have a lot of energy on your side, and that`s not a bad thing. You always want to see which candidate has energy on their side, especially when you`re going to ask people to go stand in line and participate in a caucus.

O`DONNELL: Mark, when the new polls come out, what is the movement? What would you be looking for? And by the way, just technically, do we know that polls are coming out that can change who is going to be in this debate? Are we going to have more polls that can do it?

MURRAY: We`re all waiting, Lawrence. We haven`t received any kind of guidance. I`ll even (ph) end up saying that normally late-August is a dead zone for polling. A lot of people are on vacations. We`re all headed into the Labor Day weekend. Of course, these polls actually take a little bit more urgency given that they are going to - there is the deadline coming up for participation in September`s debate.

So I don`t know if we`re going to see any more polls. We`re going to be looking. Wednesday is the deadline, of course, on that. But then, you asked me what I`m looking for in the polls. And I just want to see, do things actually end up changing? As I mentioned earlier, it has been pretty stable, and what ends up changing particularly is the size of the field.

O`DONNELL: Mark Murray and Cornell Belcher, thank you both very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

MURRAY: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: And when we come back, using a nuclear weapon against a hurricane? That`s Donald Trump`s idea. We`re going to give that idea a full and fair scientific consideration right here.

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O`DONNELL: We`re breaking news at this hour about tropical storm Dorian, which could strike Puerto Rico as a hurricane on Tuesday. By the weekend, Southeastern Florida could feel some of the effects of the lingering tropical system. Donald Trump has property interests in Southeastern Florida, and he has very strong interests in hurricanes. New reporting indicates that Donald Trump thinks he knows how to stop storms like Dorian in their storm tracks. That is next in tonight`s episode of Trump Talk.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I`m like a really smart person--

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: In tonight`s episode of Trump Talk, nuking hurricanes. In Trump Talk, we examine things that Donald Trump has said that we have never heard from another President of the United States. And we bring in someone who, even Trump voters will agree, knows more about that subject than Donald Trump to objectively evaluate Trump Talk.

Jonathan Swan of Axios is reporting that President Trump has repeatedly asked experts about using nuclear bombs to stop hurricanes. Axios reports, during one hurricane briefing at the White House, Trump said, "I got it, I got, it, why don`t we nuke them?" according to one source who was there. "They start forming off the coast of Africa as they`re moving across the Atlantic. We drop a bomb inside the eye of the hurricane and it disrupts it. Why can`t we do that?"

Joining us now with the answer is Michael Mann, a distinguished professor of atmospheric science and the Director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University.

Professor Mann, thank you very much for joining us tonight. To Donald Trump`s question, why can`t we do that? What is the answer?

MICHAEL MANN, PENN STATE UNIVERSITY ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE PROFESSOR: Thanks, Lawrence. It`s good to be with you. First of all, why shouldn`t we do it? Well, obviously, it would do a lot of damage to ocean life. There would be residual radiation, all sorts of problems, if we were to regularly drop nuclear bombs into the Atlantic Ocean. But it wouldn`t work anyways because the powerfulness of a hurricane, of a fully-formed hurricane, is measured in hundreds of trillions of watts of power. That`s the equivalent of a 10 megaton nuclear bomb dropped into the ocean every 20 minutes. So it wouldn`t make any difference whatsoever.

O`DONNELL: And other things that could occur by dropping a bomb in the ocean, a lot of these - the prevailing winds in that area actually track toward the United States. So the radiation fallout would be in the wind system tracking toward the United States, wouldn`t it?

MANN: Yes, in fact, towards Mar-a-Lago potentially.

O`DONNELL: Yes. Yes.

MANN: It would not be a wise decision for us to be producing that amount of radiation when the prevailing winds are indeed taking it right towards the U.S. East Coast.

O`DONNELL: And - which is not to neglect the fact that to get to the United States, it would pass over inhabited islands all along the way, thereby infect short-term or longer term killing all sorts of - millions of people in its - on that route.

MANN: Yes. It`s starting to sound like a bad idea, isn`t it?

(LAUGHTER)

MANN: I`ll tell you what. If Donald Trump was serious about dealing with these intensifying hurricanes, the fact that we have seen the most intense Atlantic hurricanes on record in recent years because of the warming of the oceans associated with human-caused climate change, if he really wanted to do something about it, he would act on climate. He wouldn`t try to scuttle international treaties like the Paris Treaty to do something about climate change. He wouldn`t be appointing a veritable dream team of fossil fuel lobbyists and climate change deniers to run his energy and environmental programs within the White House.

And so, in fact, what he is doing by not acting on climate is actually contributing to the worsening effects of these storms, stronger storms with more flooding, more damage, more devastation.

O`DONNELL: I think in your first two minutes of response here, you managed to give plenty of reasons not to do this. The Axios reporting is that the President has brought this up repeatedly, which means that a two-minute explanation has not been enough for him and that the people in your advisory position, for example, in the White House with the President in these discussions have had to repeatedly make these points.

How would you grade one of your students who you had to explain this to twice?

MANN: Well, let`s just say that that student would probably be transferring elsewhere.

(LAUGHTER)

MANN: No, it`s - and the President has demonstrated a complete antipathy towards science, in general, and certainly to any science that conflicts with the vested interests who`s bidding he is doing as President.

O`DONNELL: And what about the part that the President - we know the President would not listen to anything that you have to say here about the planet`s temperature`s effect on this. But even if it hasn`t - it hadn`t changed over time, could you explain to Donald Trump why the temperature of the water is relevant?

MANN: Yes. Warmer water means more evaporation. More evaporation provides more energy to strengthen these storms. In fact, it`s a fairly simple relationship. The warmer you make those ocean surface temperatures, the more heat you`re putting into the atmosphere, the more intense these storms can become, and we are seeing that intensification.

O`DONNELL: Professor Michael Mann gets tonight`s LAST WORD.  And that word is "no" to nuking hurricanes. Thank you Professor, really appreciate it.

MANN:  Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL:  "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.

  THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END