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GOP to scrap primaries. TRANSCRIPT: 9/6/19, The Last Word w/ Lawrence O'Donnell.

Guests: Bryan Bender, Lloyd Doggett, John Sides, Tiffany Cross, CharlieSykes, Malcolm Nance, Peter Turnquest

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:   The resources that are going to need to be devoted there, not just in the long terms in terms of rebuilding, but in terms of right now, getting people out of what are still desperate situations. It`s pretty overwhelming story. That`s going to do it for us tonight. We will see you again on Monday.

Now, it`s time for "The Last Word" where Joy Reid is sitting in for Lawrence O`Donnell tonight. Good evening, Joy.

JOY REID, MSNBC HOST:  Good evening, Rachel. I have to tell you, first of all, the Bahamas situation, it is horrifying and so we`re going to be covering that tonight too.

MADDOW:  Good.

REID:  It is really frightening to know what weather can do and having lived through a couple of hurricanes -- pretty big one, but this one is horrific. So we`re absolutely going to talk about that. But I have to go back just for a minute to that ""Politico"" story that you had Natasha on tonight.

MADDOW:  I`ve still got it -- I`m still working through it.

REID:  I am, too. I`m starting to put my yellow marks and everything on it. You know it`s funny, Rachel, I feel like this era, one of the things it`s done -- I don`t know if it`s done it to you, but it has done it to me, is it`s kind of robbed me of astonishment. You know what I mean?

Like the experience of being surprised and being astonished is kind of gone, like I`ve lost it, but this -- this one I think I`ve gotten it back tonight because -- and it`s not because Trump.

It`s not -- I`m not astonished that Trump would attempt to profit off of the presidency. We`ve seen lots of that, but the fact that the military is being enlisted in doing it.

MADDOW:  Yes. And that the military is apparently not peeping and not helping as Congress is trying to do oversight on this. I mean, I feel like the astonishment thing is -- it`s almost like clinical, you know, let`s try not releasing tax returns.

REID:  Right.

MADDOW:  You know? Like, let`s see. OK. I`m getting away with that, OK. Well, let`s try not setting up a blind trust. OK. Well let`s try not divesting at all. OK. We`ll let`s try hosting official government events and world leaders at some of my properties.

REID:  Right.

MADDOW:  OK. I`m getting away with all of this. And so now it`s finally like, no, Mike if you`re going to Ireland you`re staying 180 miles away from where your meetings are so that I can get paid there. Yes, we`re going to put the G7 at Doral.

And by the way, military transport flights to Kuwait have to stop at the little commercial airport next to my golf course in Scotland --

REID:  Yes.

MADDOW:  -- to spend their refueling dollars there at top dollar, a premium they`re paying to get and refuel at a commercial airport, but that might keep that airport alive, which is good for my bottom line. I mean, we are astonished now but I think that he is banking on the fact that he`s gotten away with so much.

REID:  That`s right.

MADDOW:  That every individual additional step you push it, well, you know, frog is boiling.

REID:  Well, I mean, and there are governments all over the world where the leader is both the leader of the country and a recipient of the money, a piece of everything that goes on, goes in their pocket. Americans just aren`t accustomed to that being the United States.

MADDOW:  Right. No, we`re getting accustomed to it with every passing day with each one of these new stories that`s breaking.

REID:  Yes.

MADDOW:  I mean, the military being implicated in this as a matter of integrity let alone criminal law --

REID:  Yes.

MADDOW:  -- may be a breaking point if the military still sees itself as an institution that has to answer for its own behavior. But it is remarkable.

REID:  And if they don`t, then we`re in real trouble.


REID:  I think this is the tipping point in the sense that if this -- if he can get away with this and if the military will back him up on it, then we are in trouble, very, very deep trouble.

MADDOW:  Yes. I mean, we saw, you know, the National Weather Service today --

REID:  Yes.

MADDOW:  -- trying to back up the president in terms of lying about where the hurricane was going. That was pretty disheartening.

REID:  Yes, it was.

MADDOW:  That was like a 1984 kind of moment.

REID:  Yes.

MADDOW:  But the military having, A, gone along with this and now, B, keeping it quiet as Congress tries to look into it --

REID:  Yes.

MADDOW:  -- and stonewalling the oversight here. I just -- I don`t -- I have more respect for the military than that.

REID:  Yes.

MADDOW:  And I would expect that to break.

REID:  I hope so.


REID:  We shall see. We shall see.

MADDOW:  Thanks my friend. 

REID:  Thank you so much. As always, Rachel Maddow. Thank you, thank you, thank you. And breaking news of course, as you just heard -- I`m Joy Reid by the way, sitting in for Lawrence O`Donnell.

""Politico"" has just broken this incredible new story that you heard from Rachel tonight about the potential use of government resources at one of Donald Trump`s private properties.

According to ""Politico"," an Air National Guard crew making a routine trip from the U.S. to Kuwait made an unusual stop way up north at Donald Trump`s Turnberry golf course in Scotland.

""Politico"" reports, "Since April, the House Oversight Committee has been investigating why the crew on the C-17 military transport plane made the unusual stay -- both en route to the Middle East and on the way back at the luxury waterside resort, according to several people familiar with the incident. But they have yet to receive any answers from the Pentagon.

According to ""Politico"," previous trips taken by the crew had landed at U.S. air bases in mainland Europe and members were surprised by the new itinerary.

"One crew member was so struck by the choice of hotel, markedly different than the Marriotts and Hiltons the 176th maintenance squadron is used to -- that he texted someone close to him and told him about the stay, sending a photo and noting that the crew`s per diem allowance wasn`t enough to cover food and drinks at the ritzy resort."

Today, the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees publicly revealed a series of letters that they sent earlier this week to both the White House and the Trump Organization demanding information about Trump`s habit of directing government spending to his family`s businesses and properties.

Spending that could amount to violations of the constitution, foreign and domestic emoluments clauses. Specifically, House committees are demanding information about the vice president`s recent official trip to Dublin where he chose as a place to stay a Trump owned property located on the other side of the country, more than 180 miles away from Dublin.

Democrats in Congress would like to know what gives with that. And they`re also asking for information on the president`s public pitch to make his golf resort in Doral, Florida the site of the next G7 global leader summit.

Meaning seven foreign governments would be paying the family for lodging at an official event. All of this comes at a time when Trump himself has made 213 visits to his own properties including at least 98, specifically, to play golf at a cost to you, the taxpayer, of about $109 million according to the website Trump golf count, and at a time when 135 members of the United States House have already come out in support of an impeachment inquiry.

Joining us now is Congressman Lloyd Doggett, a Democrat from Texas and a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, which is also investigating the president`s finances. Bryan Bender, defense editor for ""Politico"" who broke that news story about Scotland, and Malcolm Nance, an MSNBC counter- intelligence and intelligence analyst, along with Charlie Sykes, the editor-in-chief of "The Bulwark" and an MSNBC political analyst.

I`m going to go to you first because this is your story, Bryan. So what we`re seeing here then is that the Trump administration -- do we know what the administration`s role is or if they had any role in this decision by the military to have their plane stop near a Trump golf resort and members of the military stay there?

BRYAN BENDER, DEFENSE EDITOR, "POLITICO":  We don`t know exactly why this decision was made and whether this particular that case we uncovered, this new wrinkle about this Air Force crew staying at the resort in Scotland is an isolated case or not. The House Oversight and Reform Committee believe that it`s not.

They found data that suggests millions of dollars have been spent in this way. And what we`re trying to figure out and the Air Force And Pentagon have basically, at this point, declined to give us any information nor have they given any of the documents that the House committee has requested about this.

But the big question is why would they go out of their way, break with tradition if you will, on these very routine missions, you know, in between the United States and the Middle East and elsewhere in the world and drive 50 plus miles, park their plane at a commercial airport, not in an air force base, and spend what would seem to be much more government and taxpayer money than they normally would just to stay at this resort owned by the president?

REID:  Well, then you know, sometimes maybe the information potentially answers the question. This is a little bit from your story with Natasha Bertrand. Taken together, these incidents raise the possibility that the military has helped keep Trump`s Turnberry resort afloat.

The property lost $4.5 million in 2017 but revenue went up $3 million in 2018. Bryan, were you able to determine whether that increase in revenue, sudden flushness of cash had to do with basically government spending, military spending?

BENDER:  Well, what we do know is that this property in Scotland was struggling and the House committee told us that they`ve been able to discern that, you know, I think more than 600 payments were made both to the nearby commercial airport and related payments to the hotel over the course of several years.

And so I think the big question for the House Oversight Committee is was there some decision by some higher level person to spend this money there because the property was not doing well financially? And it looks like the property is doing better and clearly, that`s in part because of potentially some of this government funding.

REID:  Malcolm Nance, you served in the military, honorably so. Have you ever heard of anything like this about a military transport stopping at a private golf resort let alone when owned by the president of the United States?

MALCOLM NANCE, MSNBC NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST:  Surprisingly enough, yes, I have. And that was Saddam Hussein who had a series of palaces all around his country and he would only go to those palaces. He would never transport himself to some innocuous airport where he couldn`t secure himself.

Now, of course, that is an extreme example, right? Third world dictators in potentates tend to use these secure sites of which enrich themselves all the time. Now, for the United States, no. These flights are extremely unusual.

I`ve flown every flight from the United States to every place in the Middle East at some point in my career. And when you go trans Atlantic, you make these three stops. You stop in Lakenheath, England, which is a ginormous military base that is south of Scotland.

You stop in Ramstein Air Base in Kaiserslautern, Germany, or you stop in Rota, Spain or some way station in between there like Ankara, Turkey. But you don`t stop at a small airport in Scotland or go to Shannon. The only time you go to Shannon is if there is an in flight emergency.

And all of these things do nothing but send money to the pocket of the president of the United States. Whoever the commander of that squadron is, he is going to be held accountable and so will the Air Force and the secretary of the Air Force and Mike Espy. secretary of defense will have to explain why is this money going to the president`s pocket?

REID:  And, well, let`s see if they will be. I mean, Lloyd Doggett -- Congressman Doggett, one other piece from this "Politico" story according to a letter the panel sent -- that the panel, these are the two committees sent to the Pentagon in June, "the military has spent $11 million on fuel at the Prestwick Airport, the closest airport to Trump Turnberry since October of 2017, fuel that would be cheaper if purchased at a U.S. military base."

I`m old enough to remember when there was a huge scandal about the price of hammers and nails that the Pentagon was purchasing at really exorbitant prices, and toilet seats that were extra, extra expensive because who they were buying them from.

This is now an additional amount of spending of U.S. taxpayer dollars at a time when we are being told we don`t have enough money to get, you know, tooth brushes for the people who are being housed in military detention. Is there going to be some accountability particularly if the military isn`t talking?

REP. LLOYD DOGGETT (D-TX):  There must be, Joy. And you know, this is a remarkable bit of reporting by "Politico." We see that there is good reason for President Trump to use the Stalinist term the enemy of the people when referring to the press, because truth is his enemy.

It doesn`t work to have truth and his lies and I think in this case, he has the greatest difficulty drawing any line between private gain and public trust. And this brings it to light once again.

I commend Chairman Cummings, Chairman Nadler. I hope that they will pursue this very vigorously and promptly. This is not something we can let lie around for additional months. These Air Force officials need to be subpoenaed in. They`ve had an opportunity to respond. We need to know the facts of how much taxpayer money may be wasted.

We know much has already been wasted just in sending so many people to Trump resorts within the United States. But this appears to be now an international issue of tax money wasted just as Donald Trump has also done plenty of tax dodging apparently.

REID:  And you are a plaintiff, congressman, in one of these cases emoluments case, I should note.


REID:  The question then becomes, because this isn`t just a waste of taxpayer money. There seems to be a pattern of a lot of spending of federal money. He also would like to make that international by making the G7 be hosted at another struggling resort of his in Florida.

You`ve got all of the money the Secret Service is paying every time they have to service him in one of his resorts.

DOGGETT:  Indeed.

REID:  You got himself staying at his resorts more than 213 times at taxpayer expense. There is a pattern of enrichment of the Trump Organization, meaning himself, right?


REID:  And he didn`t (inaudible) at this.

DOGGETT:  It actually begins as you know, Joy, just a few blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House where one foreign potentate after another stays at the ultra luxurious Trump International hotel. That`s really part of what started our emoluments lawsuit. And now it`s just one thing on top of another.

And yes, I believe it`s a constitutional violation and should form part of the basis of this key impeachment inquiry. We need that inquiry to move forward. The Trump administration thinks that they can avoid this by delay.

And whenever we delay on the Democratic side and fail to pursue the public interest particularly after an investigation like this, we`re really just advancing Trump`s defense. We need to move forward directly and immediately.

REID:  Let me bring Charlie Sykes into this because, Charlie, what -- one thing I do not understand, you hear supporters of Donald Trump say they don`t care even if he is taking money from military schools --


REID:  -- because they`re like, we need the wall so to them it`s worth it, right? They don`t care what he does and who he takes and steals money from within the government as long as they get the wall.

This seems different. This is actually directly putting money in his own pocket and using the military as a cover. Is this going to fly with Trump supporters?

SYKES:  Assuming the story holds up which I think it probably will, and assuming there is not an innocent explanation. This is an astonishing story that takes the naked graph that we`ve been seeing to a whole new level.

Because what you are having, as you just put it, is you`re having the president of the United States taking money from the military, taking money from the troops, taking money from National Security and putting it in his own pocket. That strikes me as a different category that a lot of the other things that we`ve been talking about.

I mean, I don`t know that voters in Wisconsin and Michigan are going to be moved by terms like the emoluments clause, but they will understand that here is a president who has wrapped himself in the military and a national security, looting our military, our men and women in uniform, for his own personal benefit.

And this comes, the one-two punch, taking money from the schools, making safe schools for the children of the troops to pay for his wall. I do think this is a really significant challenge for the president. I think it`s going to be a significant challenge even for members of his base who have not moved on any of this stuff before.

But also, it is an indication of just how aggressive and open the president has become in his graft. That he feels he has gotten away with this and that he has become emboldened, but I think this may cross a red line for a lot of voters.

REID:  And Congressman Doggett, will this cross a line for the leadership in the House of Representatives because this is so open now? This isn`t just William Barr --

DOGGETT:  I certainly hope so.

REID:  -- throwing a party at his hotel, which is bad enough. Is this going to move the leadership?

DOGGETT:  I hope so. This is not a time for more timidity, for a tepid approach. And of course we not only need to move the house leadership but to find at least one Republican who is not already retired to stop enabling this president.

Just as the president has pushed the limits again and again on graft, he has pushed the limits with his Republican enablers and the more they let him get away with, the more he grabs for power, for personal gain. That`s what we`ve got to bring a stop to in working immediately on this investigation.

REID:  And we know that the House Judiciary Committee is preparing to take its first formal vote for "Politico" to define what Chairman Jerry Nadler says is an ongoing impeachment investigation of Donald Trump according to multiple sources briefed on discussion as the panel could vote as early as Wednesday on a resolution to spell out the parameters of the investigation. Let me quickly jump to Bryan Bender. I know this isn`t your story, but any reporting on what the whip count looks like on that?

BENDER:  It`s a good question. It`s not really something I`ve been tracking but you know, to Charlie`s earlier point, I think it is important to say there are unanswered questions about this particular case involving the resort in Scotland.

The Air Force has not explained why this decision was made. I talked to a senior Air Force official today. He was not aware of this but I laid out the facts as we were able to uncover them, and his response was, quite frankly, wow, that`s really weird. That doesn`t sound right. Why would they do this?

So the question in my mind is, is there some message from above that you guys got to start staying at this resort, spending money on Trump properties, or is it the brass trying to please the president? Either way, it`s probably not a good thing.

But I do think there is a discussion going on now and the Pentagon is going to be under a lot more pressure to answer the House committees, which they haven`t done in more than two months in this particular issue.

REID:  Yes. Very quickly, Charlie, if they don`t answer, if the military continues to stonewall, then what?

SYKES:  Yes. Well, then I think you need to go to the most aggressive tactics because, again, if there was an innocent explanation for this, and there may be an innocent explanation for this, wouldn`t we have heard it by now?

And, of course, we`ve seen the way this president operates with the weather service, you know, are they on the phones right now telling people in the Air Force, you have to put out a statement that this is completely kosher (ph), that it`s all completely OK?

REID:  Yes.

SYKES:  So, I think this story -- this story is going to play out very, very quickly and they have different layers as the president finds -- tries to find a way to get the military aligned with what`s happening now.

REID:  And will they get in line, very quickly.

NANCE:  I`m going to tell you the explanation that they`re going to give you eventually here. The Air Force and Secretary of Defense are going to say that crew was being used to evaluate support to the Secret Service and the White House in case the president stays at that site and that they were just doing a mobility transport assessment and that it won`t happen again.

REID:  If the military is willing to do that then what? Because if they are willing to cover for him, then that is scary than the NOAA covering for him. It absolutely is.

NANCE:  Yes. Absolutely. That is what it`s going to be.

REID:  Bryan Bender, great reporting. Thank you very much for being here. Really appreciate you joining us. Congressman Lloyd Doggett, thank you. Charlie Sykes and Malcolm Nance, thank you all for joining us, really appreciate it.

Coming up, "Politico" reported today that four states is set to cancel their 2020 Republican presidential primaries and caucuses, of course. And one primary challenger to Donald Trump said the Trump campaign is scared to death of a primary challenge because the Trump presidency is flailing. That`s next.


REID:  Tonight we`re going to talk about fear. Namely the increasingly obvious fear that Donald Trump and his team are feeling about 2020. "Politico" reported today that four states are set to cancel their 2020 Republican presidential primaries and caucuses.

South Carolina, Nevada, Arizona, and Kansas are all expected to finalize the cancellations in meetings this weekend. The move would cut off some much needed oxygen to Trump`s long shot primary challengers, former Massachusetts governor Bill Welt, former Illinois congressman Joe Walsh, and possibly former South Carolina governor and congressman, Mark Sanford.

And let`s be clear. None of these challengers are polling within a mile of Donald Trump who currently enjoys near complete devotion among the Republican base. So why cut off the challengers? Why strand his potential opponents if team Trump is confident that he will be the 2020 Republican nominee? What are the state parties so afraid of? Or are they not the ones who are afraid?

"Politico" reports the primary cancellations stem in part from months of behind-the-scenes maneuvering by the Trump campaign. Aides have worked to ensure total control of the party machinery, installing staunch loyalists at state parties while eliminating potential detractors.

The aim, Trump`s officials have long said, is to smooth the path to the president`s re-nomination. Again, why would they need to do that if they are so confident that Trump can beat the likes of two ex-governors and a former one-term congressman? Here`s Joe Walsh reacting to the news a few hours ago on "The Beat."


JOE WALSH, FORMER CONGRESSMAN (R-IL) AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  I think they`re scared to death of this president having any other name on a primary ballot against him because he is imploding day by day. I think they`re afraid. Look, that`s not a sign of strength. You want to eliminate elections? You want to like take away the will of the people? You don`t do that if you`re a big, strong guy.


REID:  OK, now Joe Walsh is not right about a lot of things but he`s kind of got a point there. And while statistically none of the challengers is really threatening Trump`s re-nomination right now, consider this statistic. Since 1976 no incumbent president who has faced a serious primary challenge has gone on to win re-election. Not one.

Here`s how "Vanity Fair`s" Peter Hamby put the threat Trump faces. "If Trump`s fitness for office becomes a viable conversation piece among Republicans and Republican leaning independents, for even just a few weeks next January or during the primaries in February, they will have accomplished something that nobody in politics has even bothered to attempt this campaign year; talking to center right swing voters who are uncomfortable with the man in the White House."

A primary might be the only chance to open up space between Trump and the Republicans who are looking for permission to vote against him next year. And it`s not just the cancellation of primaries that seems to signal fear from Trump world about the election.

According to Yahoo News, the president is panicking about his own V.P. Behind the scenes, tensions have been mounting among Trump, Pence, and their top advisers ever since the GOP`s resounding losses in the 2018 midterms.

In the weeks afterward, Trump asked aides about replacing Pence on the ticket and he again -- he asked again for their thoughts on Pence during his August vacation according to Trump advisers. NBC News has not yet confirmed that reporting.

But the Yahoo story is one more data point indicating that the Trump campaign is not superbly confident 14 months out from the election and that they`re willing to do almost anything to change the state of the race.

We`re joined now by Professor John Sides who studies the behavior of the American electorate at Vanderbilt University. He is the author of the book "Identity Crisis: The 2016 Presidential Campaign and the Battle for the Meaning of America."

Also joining us, Tiffany Cross, co-founder and managing editor of The Beat D.C. and Charlie Sykes is also back with us. John, I`m going to go to you first just for some statistical analysis of this. The Trump campaign should be very confident.

You know, there is sort of a cult of personality around him, among Republicans. Almost none will ever leave him no matter what he does. However, they are closing off the possibility of a primary. Does that signal to you that they might actually be scared?

JOHN SIDES, POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY:  I don`t know if they`re scared or not but I do know that when presidents have traditionally faced primary challenges that have been at least modestly successful, you know, there are presidents who are dealing with rickety or even plummeting economies, whose approval ratings are not particularly robust.

And Trump is looking at some economic uncertainty given the jobs report today and other indicators and his approval rating is still stuck in the low 40s which is not a solid position for an incumbent president.

REID:  And so, let me to go to you on this -- are you still a Republican, Charlie? You`re still a registered Republican, because the thing is that the Trump -- he likes to speak very confidently about the economy, about his chance of re-election.

SYKES:  Yes.

REID:  But the things he is doing seem to be the forestall even the, you know, tiniest possibility that he could be challenged. That does not sound like confidence to me.

SYKES:  No, and by the way, I describe myself as a political orphan. No, this move does not exude confidence, particularly given the fact that the polls would suggest that he is, you know, in the upper 80s when it comes to support.

But I also think there are some other numbers. There have been surveys showing that at least 40 percent or around 40 percent of Republican primary voters might be open to the idea of somebody else. There might be willing to vote for a protest candidate.

So, for example, if these three long shot candidates together get what, 36, 38 percent of the vote in one of the early primaries, suddenly Donald Trump looks more vulnerable. The hashtag winning is affected.

So I do think that there is a little bit looking over their shoulder. But there is the other issue, does the Republican Party really want to become full Trumpian? Do they want to not leave themselves any off ramp? Do they not want to have any daylight between themselves and this president who may be going into 2020 with a whole host of political problems like the story that we talked about in the previous segment?

REID:  I turn now to my fellow skeptic on the idea of political conversion. Tiffany Cross, we have this conversational all the time --


REID:  -- that there are no real converts. At least I don`t -- I have not seen evidence that there are a lot of political converts, but what do you make of this because there is evidence that at least the Trump people are afraid.

CROSS:  Right. So, it`s weird because I think the people around Trump might be afraid but Donald Trump does seem surprisingly confident in my opinion. I mean, look, he wants to be adored. It`s not enough for him to be elected.

REID:  Right.

CROSS:  He wants to be -- have the love of the people. But, you know, this is a man who has treated this presidency like a teenager testing their boundaries. It`s like oh, well, let me see if I can get away with this next thing.

And I think a part of that reason is because he keeps a tight circle for the people who really know what is happening, who really know the dirt. And I just think with all the U.S. intelligence agencies coming out saying, look, we definitely have foreign adversaries interfering with our elections. What does Trump know? Why is he so confident? Because he certainly does not seem nervous in that sense.

And regarding Nikki Haley, the rumors of her joining the ticket, you know, possibly replacing her with Pence or Pence with her, I think that`s something of note, but look, I will Nikki Haley is acting like somebody who is going to run in 2024.

She is writing this book that`s coming out this year. She started this organization, Stand for America, but does it matter who is on the ticket? I don`t know. And it`s funny when Charlie said that, you know, the GOP doesn`t want a lot of daylight. News flash! There is no daylight.

REID:  There is no daylight.

CROSS:  This is the party. Look at Roma (ph) McDaniel. She is a sycophant for this man.

REID:  Ronna Romney McDaniel.

CROSS:  Right. Romney McDaniel. I`m sorry. She played her own distant relative, you know, to support this president. So, it`s a weird, incestuous fight happening in the Republican Party, but most people are sycophants. They are falling right in line with this administration.

REID:  Let me give you John. John, as I`m going to read you to you. OK. This is you in "Vanity Fair." This is what you in "Vanity Fair" this is what you wrote about potential - per the mention of Romney about Romney/Clinton voters.

You wrote all in all back of the napkin math suggested around 5 million voters supported Romney in 2012 but went on to back either Clinton or conservative third party candidates in 2016. Whether they stay home in 2020, vote Democrat, vote their party or reluctantly vote for Trump this time around the choices the center right voters make in 2020 will have an impact on the margins when margins are everything.

So you are not talking about people who voted for Donald Trump who do seem to be completely in for all and sort of not really winnable or movable. What about these voters? These Romney to Clinton voters?

JOHN SIDES, EDITOR IN CHIEF THE MONKEY CAGE: We`re talking about maybe 5 percent of the American electorate that voted for Romney but then for voted either Clinton or for a third party candidate in 2016. These are voters for whom their 2020 outcome is far from certain.

Romney/Clinton voters as we`ve been tracking their views since 2016 looked pretty strongly Democratic. They don`t approve of the President. They don`t have a favorable view of them. They tend to devote for a - vote for a Democratic house candidate in 2018.

Romney third party voters a little different they are not necessarily fans of Trump. They have an overall unfavorable view but did tend to vote more for Republicans in 2018. Right now if you ask them I think their views of the 2020 race, they`re probably more likely to say Trump than a Democratic candidate but a large number of them that are uncertain.

So the Romney Clinton voters might be increasingly loyal Democrats but the Romney third party voters are still very much up for grabs.

REID: Charlie, do you believe those that a significant enough number of those voters exists that it is worth Democrats spending money to try to get them to vote for who are the Democratic nominee is?

CHARLIE SYKES, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF THE BULKWAR: I think they have to keep that in mind. I think - probably talking about 3 percent to 5 percent. That is enough to flip states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. There are the Romney/Clinton voters, people who voted for Barack Obama twice and then voted for Donald Trump.

You don`t need to turn them around, but if he loses 1 percent, 2 percent of the vote in Northern Wisconsin, people who are disgusted by what they are seeing, that is going to flip the state. It`s all about the Electoral College and will all be decided by those states he won by very, very narrow margins.

Going back to this issue of the primary, you know, these candidates become vehicles. None of them are going to beat Donald Trump and none of them will be President. They are vehicles for protest votes. That is the kind of thing that I think does keep some of the Trump folks up at night.

REID: And I will say that particularly like a Joe Walsh type of character isn`t going to be the nominee but he fights like Trump fights so is there some resonance to somebody who sounds the way Trump sounds then talking about what Donald Trump is doing to his own kind of world?

CROSS: I don`t think so. I think these people are specifically devoted to this President. We have to acknowledge that Bill Weld is polling in double digits. Imagine if somebody was running against Obama polling in double digits. They will get a lot more media attention of course, now trying to cover this administration is lake trying to catch confetti so we can`t cover it all.

I want to talk about Charlie`s point about, you know, kind of appealing to some of those voters, you know, the Romney/Clinton voters. They`re still Republicans, still ideological differences. When you try to appeal to those people you do run the risk. How can you appeal to them and then come back and talk to your base?

Why not double down on your base and encourage those people and inspire those people to get out instead of again trying to appeal the Trump voters? I mean, I just want to ask does the Trump vote just hit differently or what? Why are so many people focused on trying to appeal to those people who are typically Republicans?

I have never heard the Republican Party sitting around talking about how can we get these Democrats to over to our side? Only Democrats do that. I don`t know that is a winning strategy for Democrats.

REID: And I guess the math question then is, John Sides is just as a statistical matter, are there more available Democratic voters who didn`t vote last time people who stayed home or are there more of these Romney/Clinton potential we don`t know whether they`re movable but those voters? Which is a bigger pot?

SIDES: I think that is a really difficult piece of math in part because it is hard to know exactly how many Democratic votes were left on the table for Hillary Clinton in 2016. In my mind I think this may be a choice the Democrats don`t have to make in some sense.

If you`re talking about Romney Clinton voters you`re talking about voters a majority of whom want to impeach the President at least in terms of the polling we`ve done in late 2018. So there may be certain kinds of voters that are, have not been loyal Democrats for decades but are nevertheless onboard with what Democratic candidates are likely to offer.

And so you`re able to mobilize the base and keep some of these kinds of voters on your side. For other groups of voters like the Romney third party voters I think that`s a more tricky question for Democrats. Their profile is much more mixed.

REID: That`s always going to be the question. You got a hundred dollars where are you going to spend it? The base are trying to move people over. John Sides, Charlie Sykes, thank you for joining us. Really appreciate it.

All right, coming up two things that happened this week that were really great for Vladimir Putin of course. Mike Pence backed Boris Johnson on Brexit and Donald Trump took funds away from the military to divert money to the precious, the border wall. What does that have to do with Russia? We`ll go let`s find next.


REID: It`s time now to check in on how Trump Foreign Policy is working out around the world. First to Iran where Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal which we learned from a leak earlier this summer from memos from the former UK Ambassador to the U.S. Reportedly he did just to spite President Obama. When he did it Trump insisted that it would be a great thing however.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I think it is a great thing the U.S. is out of the Iran if it was ridiculous deal for the U.S. and it`s a ridiculous deal for the world.


REID: Well, about that now Donald Trump has decided, that if the U.S. does - I mean that Iran has decided that if the U.S. doesn`t have to honor the agreement which involved the U.S. and also Europe neither do they.

This week Iran announced that it would abandon constraints on nuclear research set out in the 2015 nuclear deal. This is Iran`s third violation of the nuclear agreement since Donald Trump quit the deal and imposed more sanctions.

Who could have predicted there could be such serious repercussions? It turns out for CIA. "The New York Times" magazine reports a year before Trump pulled out of the deal according to an American official the Central Intelligence Agency circulated a classified assessment trying to predict how Iran would respond in the event that the Trump Administration hardened its line.

It`s conclusion was simple. Radical elements of the government could be empowered and moderates sidelined and Iran might try to exploit a diplomatic rupture to unleash an attack in Persian Gulf Iraq or elsewhere in the Middle East.

On to American allies, Mike Pence went to London where new Prime Minister Boris Johnson suffered a series of humiliating defeats this week after his own party rebelled against the plan for a hard Brexit. Boris Johnson can always count on Donald Trump.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said you tell my friend Prime Minister Boris Johnson that we`re ready to go to work on the free trade agreement just as soon as you are ready and again to make it clear to you that the United States supports the UK`s decision to leave the EU and we`re ready to build this economic relationship immediately.


REID: Edward Luis the U.S National Editor for "The Financial Times" tweeted no one should have the slightest doubt that Trump-Pence are trying to kill the European Union and that Putin is the Chief beneficiary to which Michael McFaul the Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia tweeted agreed.

And they have other multi lateral organizations on their kill list. And as to Donald Trump`s decision to divert $3.6 billion in military funds to his border wall it turns out hundreds of millions of those dollars will be coming out of European defense.

Just security reports that the redirected money "Includes more than $770 million from an initiative started by the Obama Administration to shore up European defense after Russia`s invasion of Ukraine in 2014." The cuts which include upgrades to airfields in Slovakia, ammunition storage in Poland and special operation forces facilities in Estonia come at a time when the Trump Administration is also withholding $250 million in military assistance to Ukraine.

When we come back Malcolm Nance will join us to discuss the exactly who is benefiting from the chaos that Trump is exacerbating in Europe and Iran. That`s next.


REID: Iran announced that it will no longer abide by the 2015 nuclear deal`s limits on nuclear research. This is just the latest violation of the deal since Donald Trump pulled out of the historic international agreement and imposed harsher sanctions.

"The New York Times" reports that, "The President - the present crisis has drawn the United States and Israel and their self-confident leaders even closer together. If it looks like the United States is going to do whatever Israel`s bidding is on any issue then I think the United States loses any leverage."

Former CIA Director Leon Panetta said "Our fundamental goal has to be protect our national security interests. What is in the interests of the United States?" Back with us is Malcolm Nance, and he is back with us by phone.

Malcolm, let me read you one more quote from this article. This is the quote really quickly from this "The New York Times" magazine article. "In the last 30 years I appeared innumerable times in the American media and met thousands of American leaders Netanyahu says. I developed a certain ability to influence public opinion and that is the most important thing, the ability to sway public opinion in the United States against the regime in Iran.

He certainly has had an influence on Donald Trump but is it in the United States` national interest to become more aggressive toward Iran and for them to be out of the deal and apparently free to enrich Uranium?

MALCOL NANCE, FORMER COUNTERTERRORISM INTELLIGENCE OFFICER: You know Netanyahu is right that he has been extremely influential on the United States. In fact, he was one of the main architects who got us to invade, got George W. Bush to invade Iraq in 2003 believing that Iraq would be toppled; it would take away this threat against Israel, and would establish a U.S. base to counter Iran in the Middle East.

That was completely and absolutely wrong. He is also right that the United States is now working very closely with Israel, almost as we are one entity. The only thing that doesn`t seem to factor well for him is the fact that Russia is also involved in this. And Russia is now helping Iran skirt oil sanctions, and of course would like to see the nuclear deal fall apart because then they can have closer ties with Iran just as well as they`re having closer ties with Donald Trump and Israel.

So all of these things worked in Israel`s best interests but they don`t necessarily work in the best interests of the United States because engineering or sabotaging any component of the nuclear agreement from Barack Obama`s puts Iran on the fast track to developing atomic bombs.

REID: And maybe not just them. President Erdogan of Turkey said the following. Some countries have missiles with nuclear warheads not one or two but they tell us we can`t have them. This I cannot accept. We have Israel nearby as almost neighbors.

They scare other nations by possessing these. No one can touch them referring to the fact Israel is a nuclear power as well. If Iran is out of the deal and free to enrich Uranium what is to stop Turkey or other countries, the Saudis or anyone else who wants them from getting them, too?

NANCE: It is not a question so much of them building the indigenous nuclear programs. There is a fast track way to becoming a nuclear power and that is to put a hundred billion dollars on the table and see if Pakistan will give you an atomic bomb because they have atomic bombs and they have an interest in the Muslim world to maintaining a counterbalance to Israel as well.

So Erdogan by making these noises actually just expressing the Pandora`s Box that Donald Trump opened up during the campaign for presidency in 2016 when he said he didn`t have a problem with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and other countries who may want atomic bombs.

We may be on the threshold of a new nuclear era where countries like this think that it is in their national interest but Israel, itself, will now have to produce more atomic bombs of course to counter those. And someone eventually is going to want to use one.

REID: Let`s move really quickly. Obviously Iran - if Iran becomes a nuclear power that benefits Vladimir Putin. There is this other story about the Trump Administration withholding military aid from Ukraine. The Washington Post Editorial Board saying they`re trying to force them to help out with the election by digging up some sort of dirt on Joe Biden to help Donald Trump win re-election.

Donald Trump may be asked his national security team to review this funding program that helps defend Ukraine against Russian aggression. What do you make of the fact that Donald Trump seems to be essentially turning against the NATO alliances ideas about the ways to defend Europe from Russia?

NANCE: If this story turns out to be true, then you`re just looking at straight-up extortion by the President of the United States. Believe me; somebody in the Ukrainian government is going to spill the beans because they are of all things Anti-Moscow.

If they think they`re not going to get Anti-Tank guided missiles this year to defend against this Russian invasion of the Southern Ukraine region which is ethnically Russian, which Russia wants to occupy, then the easiest thing for them to do is actually have those discussions between the President of the United States exposed to the media. And they can do extortion of their own. So at some point this story is going to break out much bigger than we think it is right now.

REID: The winner seems to be Vladimir Putin. Malcolm Nance, thank you so much for joining us. We really appreciate it. Thank you.

NANCE: My pleasure.

REID: All right, and coming up, the death toll in the Bahamas has risen again now to 43. I will get an update on the situation from the Deputy Prime Minister of the Bahamas next.


REID: We have breaking news tonight from the Bahamas where the official death toll has now risen to 43. The spokesperson for the Prime Minister says that number is expected to grow significantly as frustrated survivors are desperately scrambling to evacuate the hurricane-devastated Islands.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There`s no more marsh harbor.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nothing. Our hopes gone and everything gone.

UNIDENTIFIE FEMALE: If we get a little bit of water now, when we finish, where to go? Where to find water?


REID: Hundreds of people waited in line for hours to catch a plane or a ferry as food and clean water are running out. New supplies are slow to reach the people who need them. As of today the U.S. coast guard rescued more than 200 people, but more than 6,500 remain unaccounted for and hospitals are overwhelmed.

The Prime Minister is asking residents to be patient, assuring them that help is on the way. But there is one survivor told the associated press "It`s chaos here, the government is trying their best, but at the same time I don`t think they`re going a good enough job to evacuate the people. It ain`t livable for nobody, only animals can live here:

Joining us now by phone from Freeport is Peter Turnquest, the Deputy Prime Minister of the Bahamas. And sir, thank you so much for being here. I just want to ask you the situation in the Bahamas right now, describe to us how difficult it is and what kind of help that you`re receiving?

PETER TURNQUEST, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER OF BAHAMAS: Thank you and good evening. I want to first just to emphasize that the Bahamas is a chain of Islands and that the Nassau, our capital, as well as our other family Islands are not affected by this storm and are fully up and functioning as usual.

The Islands of Abaco and Grand Bahaman were, in fact, directly impacted by the storm. That has caused significant damage to both Islands. Marsh Harbor, Abaco, the capital of that Island sustained a direct hit. And it caused catastrophic damage to that community.

Similarly, on the eastern side of Grand Bahamas, which also was affected by the eye of the storm, similarly received significant damage. And so the loss is significant. You`ve indicated the official death count at the moment is 43, 35 persons in Abaco and eight persons in Grand Bahaman. We do expect that that will likely rise. But we certainly pray that what we expect, as we go forward with our search and rescue missions.

REID: And where are people who are being evacuated being evacuated to? Where are people being taken when they`re being removed from the places that are not inhabitable?

TURNQUEST: Those persons who wish to be evacuated from Abaco in particular, they are going to family and friends in the providence, Nassau. Others are being taken to Grand Bahaman, to unaffected areas and for Grand Bahamians who want to be taken to family in Nassau while the infrastructure is being rebuilt, they may find more comfort in being with family in Nassau.

So in both instances, the government is providing evacuation options for the residents to relocate if that is their desire. Some obviously will choose to stay because they want to get on with the process of reconstructing their lives and their homes. We need people obviously to help rebuild. Those who wish to be evacuated are, in fact, being accommodated in that regard in providence tore other family Islands.

REID: And what about the situation with water and the lack of water in places where it`s needed? How is that being addressed?

TURNQUEST: So the water for sanitary purposes is a challenge at the moment. However, thanks to our international friends and partners, we`ve been able to supply the need to those residents that remain on the Island.

At this point I do want to thank all of our international partners, United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Cayman Islands, Caribbean, who have pitched in and done a tremendous job in helping us to work our way through this significant event.

REID: And very quickly, where can people go if they want to help? Is there a website or someplace people can go if they want to do not or help?

TURNQUEST: Sure. You can go on to the government of the Bahamas website,, or you can check with our consulate or embassies at states or Canada or United Kingdom.

REID: Peter Turnquest, Deputy Prime Minister of Bahamas, thank you very much. Thinking of you there in the Bahamas so thank you so much for some of your time tonight.

TURNQUEST: Thank you. No worries at all. Thank you.

REID: Thank you very much. That is tonight`s Last Word. I`m Joy Reid. You can catch me tomorrow and Sunday morning on "AM Joy" starting at 10 am eastern right here on MSNBC. And "The 11th Hour With Brian Williams" starts now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tonight a stormy week comes to an end with Donald Trump wrestling with the national media.