LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
And, you know, the American Academy of Political and Social Science every year now awards the Moynihan Prize in honor of Daniel Patrick Moynihan. And it -- they choose someone who represents that combination of scholarly achievement that Professor Moynihan did and the similar achievement in government service as senator and former ambassador to the United Nations Daniel Patrick Moynihan did.
And this year`s winner, to be awarded on October 3rd, is Ambassador Samantha Power.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Hey, there you go.
O`DONNELL: And when you were talking about her prose styling, which is unique, that someone in her position would be such a good writer. That is exactly one of the qualities that I know Senator Moynihan would be smiling upon in this particular winner.
MADDOW: That`s great. It`s really good. I do say the book is freaking good. I hate reading political official memoirs because they all feel like they were churned out by the same calculator.
MADDOW: To read one from someone who`s both had an interesting career and can freaking write with the best of them makes work a pleasure, and also it`s insightful stuff.
O`DONNELL: This is one of those nights where I would have handed over a lot of the real estate here for you two to just keep talking. I could have listened for quite a while.
MADDOW: Thank you, my friend.
O`DONNELL: Thanks, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Well, we`ve been following the special election in North Carolina`s 9th congressional district all night.
Let`s go straight to Steve Kornacki with the latest.
Steve, where are we now?
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: OK, almost all the votes are in, Lawrence. Now, you can see Dan Bishop, the Republican, leading this thing by over -- nearly 4,000 votes at this point.
NBC News I can tell you has not called this race yet, but I would say if you are Dan Bishop and you`re looking at what I`m looking at right here, you do like what you`re seeing. The story here, this is one we`ve seen before. In the early vote tonight, Democrats got everything they could have hoped for here. The early vote`s about half the vote here in North Carolina in this district. The Democrats overperformed in just about everywhere in the early vote.
But this is interesting in terms of the same day vote, the folks who decided to go out and cast ballots today in the Republican bastion here. I can show you Union County. This is about a third of the district. Dan Bishop getting 60 percent with all the vote counted here. The Republican last year got 59. So, he improved there.
And in these rural areas, smaller population, rural areas in the eastern part of the district, Bishop really significant improved in terms of the election day vote. That`s why he`s ahead here.
It does raise the question, Lawrence, the president was there in the district last night with that rally. Is that the reason perhaps Bishop had that same-day voter explosion?
O`DONNELL: Steve, thank you very much. We will come back to you as soon as there`s more to report. We appreciate that.
If the presidential election is a referendum on Donald Trump, he is going to lose. That is now becoming the consensus opinion of professional poll watchers and election analysts. And I don`t mean people like me who have dabbled in the use of polls during election seasons only. I mean the professionals who live and breathe polls and voter data every day of the year, whether it`s election season or not. I mean, people like Washington`s esteemed election analyst Charlie Cook, who will join us later in this hour.
Charlie Cook now says if the election is a referendum on Donald Trump, he will lose. Charlie Cook got more ammunition for that today when a new poll came out showing that 60 percent of Americans believe Donald Trump does not deserve a second term.
We will, of course, continue to keep you up to the minute on the breaking news in the congressional election in North Carolina tonight. And we begin tonight with what might be even worse news for Donald Trump than today`s very bad polls for the president on a day when Donald Trump`s re-election campaign is facing nothing but very bad news in a bunch of new polls the president created what might be one of the biggest problems his re-election campaign could be facing a year from now, John Bolton`s memoirs.
Tonight, in their New York offices, major book publishers are probably staying late trying to calculate how many millions of dollars they can offer John Bolton now if he can deliver an inside the Trump White House book that will hit bookstores in the final months of the presidential campaign when such a book would have maximum sales potential.
John Bolton is already the author of a couple of books, including a memoir of his experience serving in George W. Bush`s administration. But now, John Bolton is in a position to write and deliver the most explosive Trump book ever, which means it would be one of the best-selling books in publishing history if the book hits bookstores before Donald Trump goes down to defeat on election day if, as all polls now indicate, is most likely -- that`s the most likely version of our next presidential election at the polls as of now.
We will discuss those polls later in this hour. Those polls will be part of book publishers` calculations of how much money they can offer John Bolton. They`re making those calculations right now. And those polls say John Bolton can become one of the richest authors in history if he delivers a book before Election Day.
And that same book the day after the election might be worth much, much less if Donald Trump loses the election. So, you have to ask yourself if you`re Donald Trump, you have to ask yourself what kind of person is John Bolton? Is he one of those people working for Donald Trump who will avoid any possible public conflict with Donald Trump like former Defense Secretary James Mattis, who has written a book which is now being largely ignored because it does not describe the kind of Trump chaos that Bob Woodward`s book describes and Michael Wolff`s book describes, both giant best-sellers.
If John Bolton is the kind of person who will hold back what he knows is publishing gold, is John Bolton that kind of person? Is he the kind of person that will now protect Donald Trump out of personal loyalty to Donald Trump?
John Bolton has already publicly disagreed with Donald Trump about how he left his job as national security adviser. There is very likely going to be a John Bolton book about Donald Trump. And John Bolton began in effect writing it today in a tweet contradicting president Trump.
The least important disagreement that Donald Trump and John Bolton have ever had is their final disagreement, the disagreement over John Bolton`s departure today from the job of White House national security adviser. President Trump says he fired him. John Bolton says, I resigned.
At two minutes before 12:00 noon today, @RealDonaldTrump tweeted, I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House. I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the administration, and therefore, I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning.
Twelve minutes later, John Bolton contradicted the president`s version of events with this tweet: I offered to resign last night and President Trump said let`s talk about it tomorrow.
So, the Bolton tweet account appears to be that he offered his resignation last night. The president decided not to talk about it until today. And then he didn`t talk about it today. And as promised, instead, the president decided to accept John Bolton`s resignation via tweet and pretend that the resignation was all Donald Trump`s idea.
Six minutes after John Bolton`s tweet claiming that he wasn`t fired, he quit, Fox News hosts were busy reading the Trump-Bolton Twitter battle on their phones when this happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And then, of course, we heard from the just-fired John Bolton saying that, no, it didn`t actually play out that way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Bolton just --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I offered to resign last night and President Trump said, let`s talk about it tomorrow.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: John Bolton just texted me. Just now. He`s watching.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you read it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. He said, let`s be clear. I resigned.
And I said, do you mind if I say that while you were talking? And he wrote, yes.
So John Bolton has just told me, texted me to say I resigned.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. So, he answered yes go ahead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, go ahead and say that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For all the obvious --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So John Bolton has just answered the president`s tweet by saying, yes, I resigned.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why are we doing this?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: We are doing this because the Trump White House is now and always has been in chaos. Chaos described vividly in Michael Wolff`s book "Fire and Fury", and in Bob Woodward`s book "Fear." And very likely in what could be the most politically damaging book of all that could outsell all the rest of them, John Bolton`s next book, for which publishers, who are calculating their massive offers to John Bolton tonight, are probably using a working title of something like "I resigned," by John Bolton.
There are important questions to be asked about the immediate effects of John Bolton`s departure from the White House. What does this mean for the Trump approach to North Korea? What does this mean for the Trump approach to Iran? What does this mean more generally to the national security apparatus of the Trump administration? And what might it mean for congressional investigators who might want to question John Bolton now that he is a private citizen?
There is no one better positioned to handle those questions tonight than our first guest, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff. Congressman Schiff is a Democrat representing California`s 28th congressional district, which includes parts of Los Angeles, Pasadena, Burbank, and the San Fernando Valley.
Chairman Schiff, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Great to be with you.
O`DONNELL: I want to get your reaction to the firing and/or resignation of John Bolton.
SCHIFF: Well, he never should have had the position to begin with. He lacks the temperament. He lacks the judgment. To really have that job, you`re supposed to be a facilitator, to help the president get to yes, to mediate the national security officials and help them provide the president with options.
I remember when he was first named as nominee, one of my colleagues asked me, what did I think about Michael Bolton being named as national security adviser. And I said I think you mean John Bolton, Michael Bolton is a singer. But honestly, I think Michael Bolton would do a better job, I`d be comfortable with him.
It was an astonishing choice. It was obviously not his first choice. It was his third candidate, fourth candidate, since one turned it down for national security adviser. But a bad choice from start to finish, although ironically he was right on a couple of things that were profound disagreements with the president. That is, if we can believe what Bolton has evidently been telling people, that he disagreed with the president`s approach to North Korea, which has been a debacle, and he disagreed with this reality TV effort to have a summit with the Taliban at Camp David.
Those were both I think quite disastrous decisions by the president. We`re paying the price for it.
O`DONNELL: Well, there`s -- we`ll have to wait for John Bolton`s book to at least get his thorough version of this. But there`s also the question of how they agreed or disagreed on Iran and was John Bolton pushing for a military strike against Iran that the president then decided against?
SCHIFF: Well, you know, I can tell you, I participated with a meeting with the president in the cabinet and Mr. Bolton. He didn`t contribute at all to the conversation. And that may have been a reflection this was on the eve of the president`s decision to pull back from a strike on Iran.
That may have been because the president didn`t particularly want to hear from him. But, you know, it`s certainly true that he has been very hawkish on Iran. I think he has held very dangerous views, dangerous positions on Iran. That he was probably among others in urging the president to withdraw from the JCPOA, which I think has had really significant adverse consequences for the country.
So, on Iran, I think he has been a singularly bad influence on the president. But as we have seen in many other things and with many other cabinet officials, even though he had often disagreements apparently with the president, it didn`t stop him from serving as an enabler of this president, both in terms of the disastrous policy vis-a-vis North Korea and with respect to the Taliban summit, but also sticking to the president even when he at least purportedly had these profound differences.
O`DONNELL: What does it mean to your investigations in the intelligence committee that John Bolton is now a private citizen? Does that change in any way the possibility of obtaining testimony from him?
SCHIFF: Well, in theory it ought to make it easier if the -- if Bolton is outside the administration, he would be more accessible as a witness. But the practice of the administration has been to claim privilege over anything anyone might say at any time they were in the administration, even during the transition.
So, yes, if you`re willing to cooperate, he could shed light, for example, on what was said during these private meetings between the president and Putin. Did the president try to hide interpreter notes? Was he excluded from these meetings for a reason? Was it ever communicated to him why the president wanted no witnesses in these conversations?
Did he ever learn that the president was continuing to pursue Trump Tower? Were there some other illicit financial motivation? Were, you know -- were intelligence items discussed with Putin or other Russian officials that could cause U.S. intelligence secrets to be jeopardized?
You know, he could certainly answer those questions. Whether he`d be willing to or whether we could overcome the White House opposition, I guess only time will tell.
O`DONNELL: And there`s been developments over the course of the August recess with members of the House adding their voices to the encouragement of an impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives. This week, the Judiciary Committee will be having a vote that basically empowers the committee with all of the powers of an impeachment inquiry.
What is your view of what the Judiciary Committee is doing? I know that as chairman of intelligence that you have your own shop to run. But do you support what`s happening this week in the judiciary committee?
SCHIFF: I do because the procedures that the Judiciary Committee is adopting will allow it to move more expeditiously. It will allow subcommittees to do some of the witness interviews. It will allow staff to do some of the questioning.
Given just how much the administration is stonewalling Congress`s oversight, whatever practices and policies we need to adopt in our committees to expedite our investigation we should undertake. So, yes, I do support what they`re doing. I think it will help us get answers more quickly.
O`DONNELL: And I want to get your reaction to the reporting we`ve seen this week here at NBC News and at other news organizations about a Russian spy, a spy who was serving American interests while working in Vladimir Putin`s administration who was extracted during the first year of the Trump presidency. There was a consideration, an attempt to extract him before that during the Obama presidency.
But there are many elements of this story including what may be now a lack of resources for the CIA for information coming from inside the Putin regime.
SCHIFF: Well, I can`t comment on those specific allegations. I can tell you that really our mission on the Intel Committee is to make sure the intelligence committee has the resources it needs to do the difficult human intelligence work.
Russia is a very hard target. There are other hard targets out there. And we spend a lot time assessing are we able to get the information we need? What changes do we need to get more information?
There are several reports, and I can`t comment on the specifics of them. But, you know, one of the other reports today was the president continually questioning the value of human intelligence. You know, for the president to do that and send a message if this reporting is correct that these people who are risking their lives in service to this country, these are foreigners often on foreign soil who do so sometimes, yes, for money but other times because they believe in America, because they believe in democracy, they want something better for their own country.
If this is correct and the president is casting doubt on the value of this, even as he has quite publicly castigated the intelligence agencies, comparing them to Nazis, it means sources are going to dry up, both human sources as well as some of our sister intelligence agencies around the world, who won`t give us their most sensitive information if they think the president can`t be trusted with it. So, there are real world consequences to this perception of the president as being untrustworthy with the intelligence, untrusting of our intelligence agencies, skeptical of the value of intelligence itself. That just makes all of our jobs that much more difficult and the country more vulnerable.
O`DONNELL: Chairman Adam Schiff, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.
SCHIFF: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: And we have breaking news. NBC News projects that Republican Dan Bishop has won the special election in North Carolina`s 9th congressional district.
Coming up, Donald Trump is looking very bad in Texas polls. Texas. If Donald Trump loses Texas, then we`re going to have to find a new way to describe the big blue wave. It`s coming up.
O`DONNELL: There are several new polls out today, all with bad news for Donald Trump. An ABC/"Washington Post" poll finds that only 38 percent of Americans approved of the job President Trump is doing. That`s down six points in that poll, since July. A new CNN poll puts the Trump approval rating at 39 percent. That`s the lowest the Trump approval rating has fallen in that poll since the government shutdown in January.
That poll also found that 60 percent of Americans do not think that President Trump deserves to be reelected, with only 36 percent saying that he does deserve to be reelected.
And new Univision poll of Texas voters shows one-on-one match-ups of Donald Trump and six of the top Democratic presidential candidates. The results showed Donald Trump losing or in a statistical tie with all six candidates in the state of Texas. That`s the Republican state of Texas.
Jimmy Carter was the last Democrat who carried Texas in a presidential race. No Democrat has won in a statewide election of any kind in Texas in 25 years.
But the new Univision poll of Texas shows Bernie Sanders ahead of Donald Trump, 48-42. Joe Biden ahead of Donald Trump, 47-43. Julian Castro ahead of Trump, 44-41. Elizabeth Warren ahead of Trump, 44-42. Cory Booker ahead of Trump, 43-41. Kamala Harris ahead of Trump, 45-44.
The poll did not include any other Democratic candidates in one-on-one match-ups against Donald Trump in Texas.
Joining our discussion now is Jason Johnson. He`s the politics editor at theroot.com and professor of politics and media at Morgan State University.
And Jennifer Rubin is with us. She`s an opinion writer at the "Washington Post."
Both are MSNBC political analysts.
And, Jennifer, these are -- these are bad numbers for Donald Trump. And that`s before John Bolton`s memoirs are published.
JENNIFER RUBIN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Yes, it is. Two things jumped out at me. One is what he was surviving on was his handling of the economy. And in both those polls, he`s down on that measure.
The other thing that`s interesting is I`ve been watching white women and white college-educated women, for the first time now you see white non- college-educated women abandoning Trump in droves. So I think if you`re a Republican looking at this mess you`re thinking, oh boy, are we in trouble?
And if you`re a Democratic primary voter, maybe you`re thinking to yourself, you know, maybe electability is a broader concept than we thought. The only one who is unelectable at this point seems to be Donald Trump.
O`DONNELL: Yes. And, Jason Johnson, these polls show it seems to me a very simple fact of the Trump presidency and that is that he has never once tried to speak to voters who haven`t already voted for him. He`s never once tried to change the mind of a voter who did not vote for him.
JASON JOHNSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. Here`s the thing, Lawrence -- there`s nobody in America who doesn`t know how they feel about Donald Trump. There`s no undecideds.
O`DONNELL: Yes, right.
JOHNSON: I don`t want to hear anyone say I`m an undecided voter next fall because I know you`re lying. Everyone knows you`re lying.
So, what`s really key about these polls is it`s not just that Democrats are leading but they`re leading in the high 40s, which means that the undecided numbers are very, very low and it means that a lot of the top three Democrats could actually beat him.
But the other question, and this is always what really, really concerns me. There`s a big difference between Donald Trump losing in a head to head against Bernie Sanders or losing in a head to head with Warren, or losing in a head to head with Warren, or losing in a head to head with Biden. And these sort of generic numbers that show him losing or people not wanting to have the job.
This will inevitably get closer as the attacks are going and once there`s actually a Democratic nominee. So, the Democrats need to make sure that they stay focused. This is not a slam dunk by any means. It`s only September and a lot of people didn`t start paying attention until after Labor Day.
O`DONNELL: And, Jennifer, tonight, we saw tonight in North Carolina a district, a congressional district that Donald Trump won by 12 points. The Republicans struggling to win it and at this point winning it by about two points.
RUBIN: Correct. There are some 32 districts I think that are less favorable to Republicans than that. So I think their chances of winning back the House are infinitesimal. And as a result, I think you`re going to see a lot more Republican resignations.
That in turn I think is going to open up all sorts of possibilities in Texas and other places. We`ve already seen a batch of Republicans from Texas decide to throw in the towel. So, the House situation could actually get worse for Republicans in 2020.
O`DONNELL: Jason, the Republicans do have a difficult map when they look at the House of Representatives. They have a difficult map when they look at the presidency. But the Senate is the place where the Republicans should believe that there`s a way for them to hang on, that does look like there`s a way for them to hang on.
How much should the Democrats be concentrating in what they`re trying to achieve next year in taking back that Senate and getting Mitch McConnell out of that majority leader job?
RUBIN: Ground zero should be Georgia. Look, you essentially have two seats. You can go after Perdue and there`s an open seat because Isakson had just said he`s not running next year.
The Democrats need to spend as much time and money as they can in that state, with the amount of attention that`s been paid to voter fraud and voter suppression, it`s now going to be much harder for Brian Kemp, the governor, to suppress votes there. And that is a great opportunity for them.
And I know that people don`t want to hear this. They need to give up the fantasy of Beto O`Rourke running in Texas. He`s not going to run. He`d have to declare by sometime in January. He`s made it very clear he`s going to stay in the presidential race.
But Georgia I would say needs to be ground zero for Democrats. They`d probably pick that up seat in Colorado. We don`t know what`s going to happen in Maine.
But that is a purple state where me could actually make upend up a difference and possibly flipping Georgia to being a Democratic state this fall. So, there`s optimism to be had if Democrats want to spend the time, the money and find good candidates.
O`DONNELL: And, Jennifer, one of the signs of lack of Republican Party confidence is canceling presidential primaries now that Donald Trump has three Republican -- declared Republican opponents who want to run in primaries against him. You would think they`d want to show off just how strong Donald Trump is in trying to secure his second Republican presidential nomination.
RUBIN: Even Vladimir Putin holds elections. So, I mean, I really find it hard to believe that he`s so powerful and so dominant and on the other hand doesn`t want to run against either of these -- or actually there are three of them now, candidates out there.
So, I think it`s bad for a couple reasons.
One, one of the ways you get information on voters and pump out turnout in the general election is by getting them all excited during the primary run. They`re throwing that opportunity away. They`re essentially saying we don`t know who all these other people might be in the state but we`re just going to go back to the lists we had in 2016. That`s ridiculous.
At the same time, there`s going to be this Democratic primary where no one knows how it`s going to come out or if they say they do they really don`t. And it`s going to be excitement and it`s going to pump those numbers.
I would also say to what Jason said that the other state to keep an eye on is Arizona. That was also a state in which a Democrat won last time. You have the husband of Gabby Giffords who is running for the McSally seat. And that is another state where you see the creepy-crawly diminishment of the Republican advantage there.
So, keep an eye on Arizona, too.
O`DONNELL: Yes, and there`s already polls showing Mark Kelly ahead of McSally in Arizona. We`ll be watching that one.
Jennifer Rubin, Jason Johnson, thank you both for joining us. Really appreciate it.
JOHNSON: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: And when we come back, Donald Trump has appointed three national security advisers in his less than three years as president. President Obama appointed three national security advisers in his eight years as president.
Susan Rice was the longest serving national security adviser for President Obama. Susan Rice will join us next.
O`DONNELL: President Obama had three national security advisors over eight years in office. President Trump has had three national security advisors over less than three years in office. President Trump`s first national security advisor, Michael Flynn, served only 21 days in the job, the shortest tenure of any national security advisor in history. Michael Flynn was in court today for a pre-sentencing hearing for the crimes he has pleaded guilty to, crimes he committed in the White House while serving as National Security Advisor when he lied to the FBI.
Michael Flynn was replaced by H.R. McMaster. H.R. McMaster was then replaced by John Bolton, and John Bolton will be replaced next week according to the President. The position of National Security Advisor does not require Senate confirmation. So the only possible struggle for the President in appointing a new national security advisor is finding someone who will accept the job.
It was an honor for Susan Rice to accept the offer from President Obama to serve as his third national security advisor. She served in that position for the entire second term of the Obama presidency. In the first term of the Obama presidency, Susan Rice served as the Ambassador to the United Nations. Ambassador Susan Rice will join us next.
O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now is someone who can give us an invaluable perspective on the job of National Security Advisor. Susan Rice is the last person to serve in the job of National Security Advisor before Donald Trump started appointing national security advisors. Susan Rice served as President Obama`s National Security Advisor from 2013 to January of 2017. And before that, she served as President Obama`s Ambassador to the United Nations from 2009 to 2013. Her new book, "Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For," comes out next month.
Ambassador Rice, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I just wanted to get what was your first reaction today when you heard the news that John Bolton was either fired according to Donald Trump or resigned according to John Bolton?
SUSAN RICE, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR, FORMER AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N., & AUTHOR, TOUGH LOVE: Well, Lawrence, it`s good to be with you. I confess when I heard the news, I was working out, and I was a bit surprised to see it flash across the screen. I had to plug in the headphones to find out what was actually going on.
I was surprised more by the timing of the announcement. It was unexpected in that regard. But not the actual outcome because for quite a while, it`s been apparent that John Bolton and Donald Trump were on very different sheets of music when it comes to almost every national security issue of import. And either Bolton was going to continue to be publicly humiliated and fail to persuade the President of his course of action or the President was going to capitulate, which seemed highly unlikely. So something was going to come a cropper (ph) at some stage it seemed.
O`DONNELL: But it`s hard to think of anyone who in Republican politics and foreign policy or any of our politics and foreign policy who agrees with Donald Trump on North Korea, his approach to North Korea, on this idea of "let`s invite the Taliban to Camp David" on the Trump tariffs, which are a national security issue. And it`s hard to think of who would fit.
RICE: Well, I think there are degrees of fitting. I mean, let`s break this down. There`s two levels of challenge. One is finding a national security advisor who can serve the President effectively from the vantage point of being a good national security advisor.
I think Bolton failed in that regard to the extent that he refused to run a proper national security decision-making process that involved all of the cabinet-level principals sitting around the table, wrestling with the analysis and the facts and the intelligence and the very difficult options that surround any tough national security decision. He didn`t run that process, and he arrogated a lot of authority to himself and, I think, was wrong on a number of important issues.
Having said that, we could have the second coming of - as national security advisor, the greatest one in history, running a perfect process and still we`d have a President who could care less and wasn`t interested in facts, history, analysis, or the national interest. And that`s what we have.
So we have two problems, a process - a national security decision-making process that is badly broken and a President who is not interested in rational decision-making that serves the national interest.
O`DONNELL: What should people be--
RICE: So, yes, it would be a hard job for anybody.
O`DONNELL: Yes. What should people be hoping for in the next national security advisor? And I include opponents of the President. What should they be hoping for in the next national security advisor?
RICE: Somebody with integrity. Somebody with judgment. Somebody who recognizes that being national security advisor is not a solo endeavor. I liken it to being a point guard leading a basketball team. And I write about that in my book. It is a team sport. And we don`t seem to have had that of late.
I also would like to see a national security advisor who is prepared to tell the President the truth and differ with the President when necessary. In that regard, I give Bolton credit because a national security advisor is supposed to keep his counsel - his or her counsel private, but is supposed to give their honest and best judgment. And in this instance, we have a President who seems to not want to hear anything other than yes.
O`DONNELL: Yes. I mean, this seems to be an illustration of many things. But one of them might be this is what happens to you if you do tell President Trump of what you honestly think about something. In this case, John Bolton is reported to have been maybe the key player in stopping the Taliban visit to Camp David, and that frustrated the President and now John Bolton is gone. That may be the lesson of this. This is what happens if you do tell the President the truth.
RICE: Well, then we`re going to have probably seven or eight national security advisors, if we have decent ones, by the time this administration gets through four years, because the last thing we need, whether - as the head of NOAA or National Security Advisor is leadership that lies or leadership that obfuscates or leadership that isn`t interested in the national interest. And that`s even more dangerous than anything that I can think of.
O`DONNELL: President Obama had, as I recall, a grand total of three national security advisors over the eight years, with you serving the longest in that office. President Trump has now gone through three. He`ll be starting his fourth, he promises, next week. And so they could be on track to getting close to eight even in the first term. What does that do to the national security processes within the administration?
RICE: It`s extraordinarily disruptive. And it`s irresponsible, quite frankly. To illustrate the point, when I was named National Security Advisor in early June of 2013, I had more than a month of - or about a month of overlap with my predecessor, Tom Donilon. That was a time in which, even though I was still serving as United Nations Ambassador, I spent most of my time in Washington meeting with Tom, going in great depth through the issues that were on our plate and the processes that I needed to understand.
I spent time in national security meetings, the President`s daily briefing with the President of the United States. I got a sense of how President Obama wanted that role to be played, a very, very important role at the right hand of the President. And when I came to - back to Washington to take on the job, July 1st, not only was I well prepared by Tom in that process but obviously I had the experience of having sat at the principals` decision-making table for the prior 4.5 years.
It is not at all clear who President Trump is going to get to sit in the National Security Advisor`s office, who will have the experience, the judgment as well as the preparation to hit the ground running. And with all that`s going on in the world, that is exactly what we need.
O`DONNELL: Let me ask you about this story that has broken in our news over the last 24 hours, major news organizations, including NBC News, reporting on the extraction of a spy working for the United States within the Russian government. This occurred during your watch as National Security Advisor.
According to the stories, that`s when the harvest of the information was coming in from this spy. And then there was a first consideration of extracting him during your time in office. What can you share with us about that and what elements of the reporting could you confirm for us?
RICE: Lawrence, I can`t discuss classified information. And I`ve never done it in my career, and I`m not going to start now.
O`DONNELL: Is there anything that you would caution the public about in what they`re reading about this story now?
RICE: No. I don`t want to get into parsing the story and what may be accurate or inaccurate. It`s just not appropriate.
O`DONNELL: Ambassador Susan Rice, I think we understand that completely. Thank you very much for joining us. We really appreciate it.
RICE: Great to be with you, Lawrence. Thank you.
O`DONNELL: And coming up, Charlie Cook has a major prediction for the 2020 Presidential election, and it is not good for Donald Trump. We`ll also get Charlie Cook`s reaction to the special election in North Carolina tonight. Charlie Cook joins us next.
O`DONNELL: We`re back with tonight`s breaking election news from North Carolina. NBC News projects that Republican Dan Bishop will win the special election in North Carolina`s 9th Congressional District.
Joining us now is Charlie Cook. He`s the Editor and Publisher of "The Cook Political Report." He`s an NBC News Political Analyst, and columnist for the "National Journal" and just who we want to be talking to tonight on a special election night.
All right. Charlie, your reaction to what we`ve seen in North Carolina tonight.
CHARLIE COOK, THE COOK POLITICAL REPORT PUBLISHER & EDITOR, NATIONAL JOURNAL COLUMNIST & NBC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST: The old line that there`s nothing more exhilarating than having been shot at and missed. Well, Republicans have to be really exhilarated because they`ve come - this is a district that not only did Donald Trump win by 12 points but Mitt Romney won by 12 points.
So they should be coasting. Instead, they win by two points, which is more than we expected, really, as of the last few days, 5,000 votes. But the thing is, this would have been an apocalyptic story for Republicans had he lost. So they`ve got to be really, really, really relieved, but the signal is still there. They underperformed by 10 points.
Last November, across the board, Republicans underperformed by six percentage points. So Republicans have to really, really, really worry about what`s going on in the suburbs because Democrats when they picked up 40 seats last year in suburbs of Atlanta and Dallas and Houston and Kansas City and Oklahoma City and Richmond, there`s still more out there. So Republicans need to be very, very nervous. They just can be relieved about North Carolina 9.
O`DONNELL: So how many seats do Republicans have where their margin of comfort is lower than the one they had going into tonight`s election?
COOK: What is it? 31, I want to say. There are still plenty of districts out there that President Trump won by fewer than, say, six, seven - or certainly 10 points. There`s a whole slew of them. Now, Democrats may not have decent candidates in all of them, but we`re looking - the chances of Republicans picking out the House are just really, really, really small. And that`s - given that the margin isn`t that wide, that`s really bad news for them, but they`ve got to be relieved because this would have been a disaster had you had two points go the other direction.
O`DONNELL: Charlie, please stay with us. We`re going to squeeze in one final commercial break here. When we come back, I want to get your big prediction that you issued this week about the 2020 Presidential election. We`re going to be right back with Charlie Cook.
O`DONNELL: Charlie Cook, the Editor and Publisher of "The Cook Political Report" is back with us.
Charlie, I read a major prediction of yours in John Harwood`s column yesterday about the 2020 election. And it`s all about if the election is a referendum on President Trump.
O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Charlie. Go ahead. Sorry.
COOK: Yes. OK. I`m sorry. I was - I thought you were going to - somebody was going to read. That`s the thing. If it`s a referendum, that`s not a race where he can win. I mean, whether you had the 239, the Gallup and CNN polls that had him at 39 percent today or the ABC/Washington Post at 43 percent, these aren`t alone. You`ve had 348 major national polls ask his approve/disapprove, and exactly one out of 348 was his approval higher than his disapproval, one Fox poll back in February of 2017.
And when you look at that CNN number, about 30 percent, say, deserves re- election and 60 percent - 36 that he deserves re-election, 60 that he doesn`t. You just sort of combine this. If it`s up or down on him, he can`t win that. He`s got to make this a choice and a choice between him and something less desirable.
And that`s where - it`s like the old story about the woman who was asked by a friend, "How`s your husband?" And she replied, "Compared to what?" And how President Trump is going to do? Compared to what? Because if it`s up or down on him, he can`t win this.
O`DONNELL: But aren`t incumbents usually what the issue is? Isn`t when you have an incumbent in a race, isn`t it usually a referendum on the incumbent?
COOK: Yes, it is, but we`ve never seen one quite like this where the remarkable thing about President Trump`s numbers, it`s the lack of elasticity. That - take Gallup. His best job reproval rating yet, 46; his worst, 35. For Fox, it`s 48 and 38. Ten, 11-point ranges so that there`s not much give there. So 75 percent of Americans strongly approve or strongly disapprove. There`s no ambiguity here.
So there`s not - his numbers - I mean, all presidents` numbers, they start big, they go down, they come up and down. His have been in a very tight trading range, and it shows that people`s minds about him is made up - are made up. But their minds about whoever the fill-in-the-blank Democrat, now that`s up in the air. And he`s got to make it a choice.
O`DONNELL: One of the most important aspects of it being a referendum on Donald Trump, if that`s what it turns out to be, is the vote for third- party candidates could evaporate because that voter in Wisconsin who cast a vote for Jill Stein probably won`t be doing that this time if that voter is much more concerned with stopping Donald Trump.
COOK: No, that`s absolutely true, and it fits into a historic pattern. When you`ve had elections where a third-party candidate arguably made the difference, in the next election, very few people vote for third-party candidates. I mean, the desire to "well, I`m not going to throw away my vote." And that was true after `92 with Ross Perot, it was true in 2000 with Ralph Nader. These things - I think it will be true after 2016. So I think you`re going to have a minuscule third-party vote. So it`s going to be up or down.
O`DONNELL: Charlie Cook, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.
O`DONNELL: That is tonight`s LAST WORD. "THE 11TH HOUR" with Brian Williams starts now.
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