Skip navigation

'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Saturday, May 17th, 2015

Read the transcript to the Saturday show

Date: May 17, 2015
Guest: Matt Lewis, Genevieve Wood, Christina Bellantoni, Alvin Tillery,
Michael Kay, Barry McCaffrey, Steve Clemons, Ed O`Keefe, Adam Reise, John


STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: Understanding the enemy.

All right, and a good morning to you out here. Thanks for getting up with
us this Sunday morning. A lot going on in the world today, a lot to get to
in the show including that daring U.S. Special Forces raid into ISIS

The wife of a senior ISIS official now in American custody. What her role
was and what intelligence officials may be hoping to learn from her in just
a moment?

Also tornado alley hit with more than a dozen twisters overnight, severe
hail and flooding now pummelling the Midwest, those pictures in a live
report coming up.

Also Jeb Bush putting to rest any question of how he is going to campaign
in the state of Iowa, we`ll bring you what he said yesterday, some big news
from him shortly.

And also ahead in the show, based on what they know now would they or
wouldn`t they? How the invasion of Iraq is being re-litigated more than a
dozen years after the invasion on the campaign trail.

Plus the eyewitness account from on board a third train hit by an object
around the same time in same place as Tuesday`s derailment outside of

All of that ahead in the show today, but we begin this morning with that
raid inside Syria by U.S. special forces. Twenty four hours after learning
about it for the first time, we are getting a lot more information about
how and why the U.S. military tried to capture an ISIS operative in Eastern
Syria and why killing him was not their first choice.

U.S. military officials telling NBC News that ISIS Senior Commander Abu
Sayyaf was the emir of oil and gas for ISIS in elicit operation that helps
to keep that terror group founded.

But that doesn`t mean that Sayyaf was high up in the ISIS hierarchy.
Elaine Cooper and Eric Schmidt of the "New York Times" reporting this
morning that he is a mid-level leader in the ISIS organization.

One terrorism analyst comparing him to Al Capone`s accountant adding that
he is likely replaceable by the group in fairly short order, but with his
hands in so many of ISIS` major operations, Sayyaf apparently was very well
connected in the organization, making him someone who could potentially
explain how ISIS works, its funding structure, its military, its top brass.

This is why the plan was for U.S. forces to take him alive if at all
possible. Not because of who he is, but because of what he might know.
But in the intense and prolonged battle that ensued when that night time
raid took place, Sayyaf was killed which leaves his wife who was captured
during the raid as a possible source of information instead.

U.S. military officials saying that Um Sayyaf is an ISIS operative.
Special Forces taking her with them alive back to Iraq when they left Syria
after that raid.

Defense Department officials say the troops were also able to seize
communications equipment and other materials from the site. In the real
surprise in all of this, maybe this, for all of the chaos involved in this
raid, for all of the deaths on the ISIS side, not a single U.S. troop was
killed or wounded in the operation.

How did the Special Forces managed to pull that off? Michael Kay is a
retired senior British military officer and he is over at the big board
right now where he is going to show us exactly how Special Forces execute
an operation as risky as this. Michael, tell us how it`s done.

Well, just a little bit more on that updated news. There are reports
coming out overnight, (inaudible) corroborated that Abu Sayyaf wasn`t the
main target. The area all here has been a very harshly contested area of
Syria over the past year between ISIS and Syrian regime militants.

This is absolutely vital for Assad who is down in Damascus because there`s
an air base here which allows Assad to assert control. If he loses that
then that is bad news for the Syrian regime.

Now Abu Sayyaf was the man that was taken out, but reports are coming out
overnight that there actually a chat called (inaudible) was the target and
he supposedly the supervisor for foreign hostages.

He is the man that`s responsible for basically buying foreign hostages from
groups all over Syria and Iraq and then giving them to ISIS for the
propaganda beheadings that we have been seeing over the last year.

ISIS on the rampage over Syria and Iraq at the moment, in Ramadi,
especially where they have just taken control of Anbar Province and here in
Syria in Palmira where there are ancient ruins that ISIS are about to
target and no doubt blow up.

Now let`s have a look at the intelligence. It takes a long time to build
the intelligence. Next slide, please. Predators, we have all seen these
on the news and they all have a pretty plan to start and reputation.

But actually (inaudible) beginning was all about patent of life. These
things have electronic intelligence center on them, allows them to listen
in to phone calls, anything that`s transmitted over the airwaves.

They also have a camera at the front for imagery intelligence to allow
patent of life that can sit high above these areas for hours on end and
suck up this imagery intelligence, which is vital to Special Forces strike

And then finally the one that we don`t talk about too often is human
intelligence, developing relationships through people inside the networks,
inside Rakka, inside Aleppo, really difficult because ISIS have it locked

What do Special Forces do? Next slide please. The role of Special Forces
is very niche and we`ve often sort of mistake it with boots on the group.
They are boots on the ground, but they are very niche and small capability.

The sniping role, absolutely key, when ISIS go into a place, they look to
isolate it, the lines of communication. What we`re doing and I have
through my sources I know that the U.K. and U.S. SF guys have been working
in Syria and Iraq for over a year.

These guys have been taking off check points. When ISIS looks to isolate
an area, they`ll put checkpoints around a certain location and these guys
will be looking to take down.

Joint terminal attack controllers, the value of coalition air strikes has
been absolutely incredible over the last six months but you need, we need
capability, direct, the precision munitions onto to target. And the
finally we have the strike operations like we saw on Abu Sayyaf.

We have the missions that go out at night, low level, with all the
intelligence, and they look to apprehend not ideally to kill someone. What
they want to do is apprehend them, bag them, tag them, get them on board,
and take them in for TQing, tactical questioning. Back to you, Steve.

KORNACKI: All right, Michael Kay, thanks for that. Really appreciate
that. Here to add more to this discussion, we have with us now retired
Four-Star U.S. General Barry McCaffrey and also an MSNBC military analyst,
and Steve Clemons, an MSNBC contributor and Washington editor-at-large for
"The Atlantic."

General McCaffrey, let me start with you. It looks now like this was
basically an intelligence operation. In terms of what we`ve actually
gotten -- what we stand to get here in terms of information and in terms of
anything from the interrogation of the wife who was taken alive. What is
the benefit long term for the United States here?

terrific run down there. Look, these are joint operations, Air Force,
Army, Navy, intelligence, General Stanley McChrystal put this tool together
during the eight, nine years he was in command.

At the end of the day, it`s a phenomenal ability to intervene, seize
people, and destroy assets. I think the primary value of it was they came
out with laptops, telephones, files that will give them a much better
picture of inside ISIS.

And in addition, I think they probably reminded ISIS, look, we will go
after you in Libya and Yemen and Syria and Iraq, wherever you are on the
face of the earth. So I would still chalk this down as a big win, a major
contribution. Not just the fact they nailed this guy, but the signal that
they are not -- they have no safe haven.

KORNACKI: And Steve Clemens, what do we really know though about this guy?
We`re getting the reporting from the "New York Times" today that maybe he
was midlevel. Certainly initially what we are talking about yesterday
seemed to suggest he might have been higher up.

But obviously he was privy to a lot of information inside ISIS. We haven`t
really seen a picture of him. We don`t know much about what his actual
name maybe is. How much do we actually know?

STEVE CLEMONS, "THE ATLANTIC": I think we`re learning as bits of
information come out. I was intrigued by Mikey Kay`s comment that he`s
been hearing that there may have been another target that was involved in
human trafficking.

Abu Sayyaf appears to have been someone who was running, the oil
racketeering, the oil smuggling and other elements of the money machine of
ISIS. I have been amused saying, we weren`t told that this guy was
important or on the map.

I think this is an incredibly important moment showing that the
intelligence and work of the U.S. Treasury Department on financial
intelligence to David Cohen, who is now deputy director of the CIA is
getting some muscle and is importing.

This would have been a very smart hit to bring someone who essentially had
the books of ISIS because one of our highest priorities beyond just killing
these guys has been trying to shut down their money flow.

The president indicated that last year that we were trying to cut down the
oil smuggling, get them out of the human smuggling and racketeering work
that they were doing.

They`ve been selling on the black market antiquities, not only destroying
them but selling them to basically finance their operation. So I disagree
with many of the terrorism analysts that discount this as a midlevel person
or a midlevel operation.

Because it`s one of those smart hit of someone who sits within that neural
network of financing and I find it very interesting example of the Treasury
Department being involved, which very few people have covered so far.

KORNACKI: And generally, at the same, though, there is this issue and we
hear this all the time, when there are killings or captures of top leaders
of ISIS or any other terrorist group. They will be replaced right away.
The position this guy had is actually something that ISIS can replace and
fill pretty quickly. What do you say to that?

CLEMONS: Well, I think that maybe true, but the person who comes with all
of those networks who has allegedly close to al-Baghdadi, who knows who is
paying off whom to whom, I think that`s less replaceable than someone who
is just a general on the field or someone who is just, you know, organizing
a new set of propaganda video.

So I think we are making a mistake in discounting the significance of this
individual and I agree with Barry McCaffrey that it is in the computer
records and tapes and the files, and the meticulous books that we know ISIS
keeps that is going to be treasure trove of intelligence. So to call this
a midlevel hit I think is a real mistake.

KORNACKI: And General McCaffrey, I`m just curious, from your standpoint,
if this guy had been taken alive yesterday, do you think we would be
hearing about it today or is this something in that case the U.S. would
want to keep secret as it interrogated it?

MCCAFFREY: Well, it is sort of interesting, most of these JSOC operations
used to be completely in the dark. We`d never acknowledged we even carried
out the operation and obviously there are still significant operations that
don`t make the public news.

But I think probably the administration wanted to signal to ISIS among
other things that they are willing to take these kinds of risks. I think
Steve is dead on target, though, you know, just a notion that he is only Al
Capone`s accountant.

That`s how we arrested half of the mafia figures and prosecuting them is
through IRS tax evasion. So have the Department of Treasury trying to
follow where this oil money goes. Who are the middle men in Turkey and
other places?

This is hugely important to our allies, the Iraqis, the Turks, the
Jordanians and others who will now be trying to roll up these networks in
the coming weeks?

KORNACKI: All right, General Barry McCaffrey, Steve Clemons from "The
Atlantic," appreciate you both joining us this morning. Thank you.

All right, and still ahead, a landmark you may remember from a hit Tom
Hanks movie, closing its doors. We are going to give you details on that,
but next, a 10-minute time limit on speeches at the latest 2016 cattle call
out in Iowa last night. One candidate getting their mic cut to a jeering
crowd. We will show you what happened out there right after this. Stay
with us.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We won 11 state last year, came in second place and I
would hope that Iowa would keep up a great tradition for our country.
Thank you and God bless.



KORNACKI: The race for president took center stage last night in the first
in the nation caucus state of Iowa. The field of 11 2016 hopefuls making
the trek to Des Moines for the state Republican Party`s annual Lincoln day
event making this the latest cattle call for Republican hopefuls, but one
that featured an unusual twist.

Because there were so many candidates they were each held to a strict 10-
minute time limit for their speeches that forced the candidates to get
right to the point at least in most cases.

Many of the candidates are using their speeches to hammer President Obama
and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on foreign policy. Take a


that was asked of Republicans needs to be asked of Hillary Clinton.
Someone needs to ask Hillary Clinton if she ever takes any questions,
someone needs to ask Hillary Clinton was it a good idea to topple Kadafi in

SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): If I`m president of the United States and
you`re thinking about joining al Qaeda or ISIL, anybody thinking about
that? I`m not going to call a judge, I will call a drone and we will kill

JEB BUSH (R), CONSIDERING 2016 RUN: Country after country, our
relationships are worse. Name a country where the relationship is better
than the day that Barack Obama came into office? Iran. Cuba. I rest my

you. Once and for all we need a commander in chief who calls it what it is
and that is radical Islamic terrorism as a threat to us all and we need to
act on it.


KORNACKI: All right, let`s talk to our panel now this morning, we have
Christina Bellantoni, editor-in-chief at "Roll Call," Alvin Tillery,
associate professor of Political Science at Northwestern University and
Genevieve Wood, a senior contributor to "The Daily Signal."

I mean, going right for that, it is interesting, though, that the foreign
policy theme picking up at this event last night and you start to see,
you`re looking at these things like it`s been standard for six years to
have Republicans at every one of these events bashing President Obama.

But they`re pivoting now or starting to pivot towards Hillary Clinton being
probably their opponent in 2016 in how are they going to go after her. And
I think what we are hearing last night is they think at least right now
they see an opening on foreign policy. Christina, is there an opening

CHRISTINA BELLANTONI, "ROLL CALL": I mean, what happens if this Iran deal
goes through and everything is harmonious, right? That gives them a lot
less to talk about. For them it`s all about Hillary Clinton. It`s exactly
right. They are trying to be able to say she is the face of the Barack
Obama foreign policy.

You know, Rubio is out there making this sort of his big issue, but each
one of them can point to we are less liked abroad than we were the day he
came into office.

You know, what that`s going to end up be, if it`s a debate about Iraq or if
it ends up turning to be a debate about the economy that`s what the
Democrats wanted to be about because they think they went on those ground.

KORNACKI: You didn`t hear last night is much talk about the economy. I
think if you would had this event two years ago, it would have been jobs,
it would have been slow recovery and aren`t hearing that right now.

GENEVIEVE WOOD, "THE DAILY SIGNAL": Look at the polls, the base the
Republican Party most cares about right now is foreign policy and I think
that`s who these candidates are currently speaking to. And look, I mean,
as a conservative, I will say foreign policy is one of the various of
government that we actually believe the government should be involved
protecting the country.

And I think there is a real divide between what those Republicans think and
conservatives think about the right direction and role of America in the
world, and frankly what Democrats think.

KORNACKI: You are saying it`s the top concern right now. Is that a change
from a year ago? Because is it because of ISIS and the beheadings?

WOOD: I think it`s a change over the past six to seven years of the Obama
administration. There`s been a real change of what is America`s role in
the world? What should our leadership be? What should our strength be? I
think there is a real concern among conservatives that were much weaker
than we have in the past, but in terms of how the world sees this, but also
in terms of our military strength.

KORNACKI: So Alvin, is this something that -- the attempts here and you
see this in the speeches last night is to take the Republican critique of
Obama that we have heard for the last six years on foreign policy and then
attach Hillary Clinton to it.

She was the secretary of state. She was part of the administration. Every
decision we don`t like from President Obama. She was part of it too. Is
that something for her to worry about?

ALVIN TILLERY, NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY: It`s absolutely the play book.
The playbook is to make, Secretary Clinton, the inheriter of President
Obama`s initiatives and to the extent that she was secretary of state, it`s
a good play book.

The problem, Genevieve, I don`t agree that the Republicans may be concerned
about ISIS, but the American people are still not as interventionist as
they were prior to the Iraq war.

I think this is a very dangerous sort of distinction that Republicans will
figure out. How do you bash the Obama foreign policy in Secretary Clinton
without seeming like you will be running with a bumper sticker, I am going
to kill everybody, as Senator Graham committed to in Iowa.

BELLANTONI: This is where Rand Paul has an opening, right. He is saying I
am going to rebuild roads in America spending all the money that we used to
spend abroad. I don`t want to spend any of that money there.

I want to totally invest in the United States and so that`s the message
that he can talk into particularly when he goes -- Obamacare is not that
they could talk about anymore, right. Like six, seven months ago that
would have been the main talking point. There is less to point to now
until a Supreme Court makes it.

WOOD: I think Obamacare may come back. I think people are concerned not
just Republicans, but the American -- that the world is not a safer place
today. I mean, we can debate about whether people want to go to war. I
totally agree. I think most Americans would like to stay out of nation
building in these types of activities, but I don`t feel like Americans are
safer today.

KORNACKI: I`m curious, though, what is the message that`s going to come
from the Republicans on this thing? If it`s Lindsay Graham saying we`re
going to kill more people with drones? Is it we need to invade this

We need to have troops -- what is the message? If the country is still
really hesitant to get involved, to get entangled in the Middle East, in
these countries in the Middle East then proactively, what is it that we
should be doing?

WOOD: Well, I think what you make is some of these candidates say last
night is America needs to be respected and feared. It`s not about being
liked and I think President Obama ran we will have friends around the
world. We are going to change the way the policies have been.

I think Jeb Bush made an interesting comment last night. Where are we
better liked in the world today since he`s been around? Iran and Cuba, I
think that`s a pretty good talking point right there.

I think most people understand when it comes to foreign policy and when it
comes to defending the country, it`s important to your allies, but also
your enemies respect you and they should actually fear what you might do.

That doesn`t mean you have to go war. It doesn`t mean you have to
intervene, but it does mean that people are worried about what you might do
and they respect your power.

KORNACKI: So what is the response then? That question that Genevieve

TILLERY: Well, Osama Bin Laden, right? You know, this is very clear
example of a muscular democratic foreign policy, right? If we had listened
to the interventionist in the Republican Party, we would have gone into
Syria already.

None of our allies are doing this. If we listen to the interventionists,
we would have gone into Libya. Obviously waiting was a better strategy for
President Obama.

I would remind the Republican candidates that the Iran talks are five party
talks that include some of our standing allies and some of our enemies. So
this notion that the Obama foreign policies is sort of shattering a
reputation globally, I think there is no evidence of that.

BELLANTONI: There will be this debate over the authorization for use of
military force against, you know, ISIS, which is a very weird thing to be
doing because you are not attacking a country. You`re not going after a
country. You`re going after an entity.

And so Congress is really going to be put on the spot and don`t forget
three of these Republican president candidates and four when Lindsey Graham
announces, sit in the Senate right now and have a lot of influence when it
comes to having that conversation and Democrats are not all that thrilled
about it either.

KORNACKI: And as you say that the Iran deal, we only have a frame work
right now if there is going be a final deal, that`s going to be coming in
the next month or so and then we will see what the response is.

Still ahead in the show, Vladimir Putin`s latest demonstration of his
athletic ability, you`re not going to believe this one. It involves

And also Jeb Bush announcing he is skipping the Iowa straw poll this
summer, is he writing off the hawk eye state altogether. He made news last
night. We will show you that right after this.



BUSH: I`m here in Iowa speaking about Iowa. To remind everybody, if I go
beyond the consideration to be an active candidate, I`m going to campaign
hard here. I just don`t do straw polls.


KORNACKI: Jeb Bush making news in Iowa yesterday saying empathically that
he will make a full-fledged effort to win the Iowa caucuses if he runs for
president. This comes after Bush announced earlier in the week and
reiterated that he is not going to contest the Iowa straw poll that is
scheduled for this August.

That announcement early in the week set off a wave of speculation that Bush
might opt out of competing for the caucuses entirely. This is coming in
the face of a recent poll that shows him running in 7th place in the state
with just 5 percent support.

But Bush making it sound yesterday like he will only be skipping the straw
poll, not the caucuses. Ed O`Keefe is a political reporter with the
"Washington Post." He has been covering Bush and the GOP field. He joins
us this morning.

So Ed, let`s set this up first with we talk about the news out of Iowa with
Jeb Bush this week, the speculation that while he is doing so terribly
there that he might have to skip that.

It was a bad week for Jeb Bush also because of the question of Iraq and the
question that was initially posed to him, knowing what you now know, would
you have gone in like your brother went in? These are the answers he gave
this week. Let`s play that first.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Knowing what we know now, would you have authorized
the invasion?

BUSH: I would have.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In 20/20 hindsight you would make a different decision?

BUSH: Yes, I don`t know what that decision would have been, that`s a
hypothetical, but the simple fact is that mistakes were made.

I respect the question, but if we are going to get back into hypotheticals,
I think it does a disservice for a lot of people that sacrificed a lot.

I would not have gone into Iraq.


KORNACKI: So that`s where he is landing. He is now saying I would not
have engaged knowing what I know now. When this campaign began for Jeb
Bush a few months ago, there was all the talk that in the first few months,
he`s going to raise huge sums of money.

He is going to blow away the field. He`s sitting here in seventh place in
Iowa and having the week he just had. How much damage was done in this

ED O`KEEFE, "THE WASHINGTON POST": This was the worst week he has had yet.
There`s no doubt. His team remains pretty confident that he will rebound
from this. That he has now settled that question. He is going to face
questions about all sorts of things that his brother did. I think this was
a preview of that.

It could be things like water boarding, offshore drilling, education,
abortion, all sorts of things. And he`s just going to have to get -- I
think the thing that surprised people was like he is just going to have to
get --

KORNACKI: I think that thing that`s surprised people was you`re saying
these are all sorts of questions about things his brother did as president.
It didn`t seem like he was ready for the question and this is the most
basic question he was going to ask.

O`KEEFE: Here`s the thing. He has said since the start I want to campaign
joyfully and I want to do this differently and the idea of that is I`m
going to go out and engage voters for 60 minutes taking six to 11
questions, giving them expansive non-sound biting answers, which makes it
really difficult for reporters, I guess, to really nail him down on what
part should we use because he says a lot.

I think the hope of doing that just ran into the reality of modern day
campaigning this week that that`s not how it`s going to work, be it the
media, be it the way that Republicans respond to these types of things.

Be it this desire to make sure that the Republican Party is totally
prepared to fight Hillary Clinton. There was a lot of concern this week
that he perhaps isn`t.

KORNACKI: Is he in danger -- I mean, we thought of him for the condition
to think of him because he is a Bush as the frontrunner. I look at this
now, as I`m not sure there is a frontrunner in the Republican side, but is
he in danger of falling back even from the top of the pack in this thing?

WOOD: Well, I think first of all you are right, there is no frontrunner
right now and he had a bad week, but there are 500 and what, 40 days left
in this campaign? And probably some other candidates are going to have
some bad weeks over those 540 day.

So look, it was bad, but he will come back and I think we have to remember,
most Americans are not following this near as closely as we are. Frankly
not even a lot of Republican voters are. The very people they are trying
to get.

So I think, you know, I don`t think this is going be a coronation for Jeb
Bush the way that it was for his brother back in 2000. I think that`s very
clear, but I don`t think this week puts him out of it.

O`KEEFE: That`s a good point. I think there`s a small pack of us who have
been following him across the country so we are totally awae of what he`s
been doing and saying. This Fox News interview was one of his most high
profile appearances yet.

I mean, let`s face it. He is on Fox. This is the most closely watched
channel among conservatives and Republicans. Sorry, guys, but it`s true
and he fumbled on an answer that he has given before. He has answered
enabling. He`s the question -- and it`s proof that perhaps that he isn`t
ready for this.

KORNACKI: Yes, that`s the thing, Christina, we learned so many about Bush
as a candidate. He is just not up to this the way maybe we thought he was.

BELLANTONI: So I have two theories about this. One, he was not answering
the question she ask. He was answering the question to try to say if
Hillary Clinton has been president, she would have done the same thing. I
would have done the same thing without the whole --

So he`s clearly think general election vote and this whole distraction over
this last week has completely distanced him from his immigration comments,
which were actually, you know, doubling down on the whole like I want to be
friendlier. The act of love, right, and then --

That`s what the Republican Party is probably going to vote on and what he`s
going to be hit on in a lot of ads. The Republicans don`t want to refight
Iraq either.

When you get to a debate stage this is now out of the way, he`s probably
going to have the answer again, and then they can move on to these issues
where they really think they can pinpoint him and say you`re too liberal.

KORNACKI: Bush`s woes come as a one-time close ally Marco Rubio seems to
be gaining traction. Rubio has been moving up in the polls with a heavy
emphasis on a hawkish foreign policy, something that he highlighted in a
speech this week.

As the "Daily Beast" Tim Mac wrote, quote, "As compared to Jeb Bush who
fumbled and stumbled through his first major national security address,
Marco Rubio delivered a master class on foreign policy and spoke to the
soul of the right hawkish neoconservatives.

Alvin, let me ask you about because I -- Republicans initially seem to be
looking at Jeb Bush, the establishment class, this is the most electable

If you want to beat Hillary Clinton, you have got go with Jeb Bush. I have
been starting to look at this over the last two weeks and say, I`m not sure
he is. Maybe somebody like Rubio has potential for more appeal.

TILLERY: Well, what I`ll say about Rubio`s speech is that it shows
precisely why Governor Bush is not in trouble, right? Just as our first
conversation was exposed, the Republican elite is incredibly hawkish and

With this speech, you know, Senator Rubio is talking about how not going to
Syria was a bad idea, right? And that`s not something that the American
people will buy in the general election.

Listen, in political science, we talked about it`s very important for new
presidents to bring the establishment, the foreign policy establishment of
the previous president from their party along.

None of the major figures in the Bush foreign policy regime have repudiated
the actions in the Iraq war so why should we expect Candidate Bush to do
that, right? You don`t think that Condoleezza Rice and others are going to
be involved with a nominee Bush`s foreign policy team? Absolutely will be.

KORNACKI: We know one guy from Bush world who won`t be and that`s Jim
Baker because he has distanced himself -- that`s not the first or the

TILLERY: The split for the Bush world is, you know, the father would go
into Iraq and the son did go.

BELLANTONI: There are low expectations for him, and then he is also the
guy who looks more grown up than Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, when it comes to
his Senate colleagues, who are officially running. He is on the Foreign
Relations Committee. He`s on the intelligence committee.

He has travelled to a bunch of countries and you have all these governors
who don`t have foreign policy experience. He can say, all right, I have
experience. I will sit here and I will not be the guy that everybody is
attacking yet because I`m not the front runner.

And that can lay him out for anything whether he wins, whether he gets
tapped for a (inaudible), whether he is vice presidential pick. I mean, he
has a lot of options and he took the risk of giving up his Senate sea.

KORNACKI: All right, my thanks to Ed O`Keefe of the "Washington Post" for
stopping by. Appreciate that. Still ahead, how the war in Iraq is going
reshape the race for the Republican presidential nomination and will it?

And next, the question California Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez was asked
just before she picked up her pace and ran away from the reporter.


KORNACKI: All right. There`s a lot going on this morning. Let`s get
caught up on some of the other headlines making news with today`s panel.
Let`s take a look here, some news involving, this is something.

Loretta Sanchez, congresswoman from Orange County, a Democratic
congresswoman, there is a whole thing last week about she seemed to
announce her candidacy for the U.S. Senate and then she said wait, I didn`t
necessarily mean that.

Then she was meeting with a group at the California Democratic Party
Convention in Anaheim yesterday. She appeared to make a whooping gesture
when talking about meeting with a group of Indian-Americans. This is what


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m going to his office thinking that I`m going to
meet with (inaudible), right?


KORNACKI: So that got a little tension, did she run away from a reporter,
here we go. This is a reporter saying what did you mean? This is her
response to that. She is saying I have got to get inside and do something
besides to answer this question.

BELLANTONI: It`s not good and especially this is a state that will not be
contested in the general election. They have the top two elections in
California called the Jungle Primary.

So she is possibly going to be able to be one of the top two finishers for
the general election up against (inaudible) Harris, the attorney general
who was three times the amount of money that she has and is well positioned
to do well.

But this is not the kind of thing you want to start your campaign off. I
mean, it`s just like --

KORNACKI: This makes me think the next move here is not, yes, I`m running
for Senate, it`s you know what, I`m trying to stick with this and have a


BELLANTONI: -- right, a lot of the Southern California Democrats are sort
of waiting to see, are they going to support her, are they waiting to see
if Javier Becera (ph) tries to jump into and for both of them, it`s an
uphill against --

WOOD: What is amazing to me is in the world today`s campaigns where
everybody has a phone, everybody has a camera, when do these folks ever
learn what not to do?

KORNACKI: I`ll tell you what, Loretta Sanchez won her seat in Congress in
1996, beating this guy, Bob Dornan, a Republican, who was known for making
the most inflammatory comments about all sorts of different groups of
people and that was how she got her seat and she ends up being the one who
does this.

TILLERY: California is the most diverse state in the nation, the
Democratic constituents in California really value diversity. That`s
coming from their politicians. This was a horrible week and she should --

KORNACKI: We will see if she starts to answer questions. Let`s move on to
a story involving Vladimir Putin. He scores eight goals in an exhibition
hockey game. The 62-year-old Russian leader`s team won this game.

I`m sure the goalie was trying extra hard to stop the shots from the
supreme leader of Russia. So, I mean, I don`t know. Is there a theme
there? You had Mitt Romney boxing Evander Holyfield on Friday night --

BELLANTONI: He is trying to keep up with Mitt.

TILLERY: He would be better off if we could just get him to play hockey
for the most part.

KORNACKI: Well, if Putin was playing basketball he probably would have
broken Wilt Chamberlain`s record. Anyway, final story here to take a look
at, this is sad news. If you grew up around the time I did in the `80s,
this will mean FAO Schwarz closing its flagship store, in New York City, in
Manhattan, on Fifth Avenue.

The rent is apparently too high, but why do you know the store because of
this, Tom Hanks in the 1988 movie "Big." They danced on that keyboard on
the floor there in FAO Schwarz, sort of iconic movie scene from the 1980s
and now sadly FAO Schwarz will be no more.

BELLANTONI: It`s been replaced by the American girl phenomenon. It`s a
tourist as much as it is to go shopping. So now it`s like you go to this
store and it`s three floors and you can get your doll`s hair made up. It`s
a very strange thing and sad to say.

KORNACKI: "Big" was one of my all-time favorite movies.

TILLERY: As much as I love the keyboard, I`m guilty of shopping on Amazon
for my own kids` toys. Not having an internet strategy, not really sort of
moving in that direction stores like FAO Schwarz.

KORNACKI: But it was that keyboard. They had one in Boston.

BELLANTONI: We need to get one here.

WOOD: I think you`re right. The American girl, they were experience
stores. You go and pay for the experience. You pay to have tea in these

KORNACKI: And get your hair done.

WOOD: So they should have paid for the experience of dancing on the

KORNACKI: Whoever inherits the space, keep the keyboard. Analysts are
sticking around. Still ahead, just how common is it for trains to be hit
by rocks, by bricks and other worse objects? The answer may surprise you.

And next, more than a dozen tornados reported yesterday throughout the
Midwest with threat of more severe weather today. What areas could be hit
the hardest? That`s right after this.


KORNACKI: More severe storms are possible today in the Midwest especially
in parts of Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, and Wisconsin. More than a dozen
tornadoes have been reported across nine states this weekend including this
twister in Oklahoma.

In all, more than 20 million Americans are under the threat of some form of
severe weather this weekend whether it`s tornados, thunderstorms, severe
winds and even hail.

We will go Oklahoma in the next hour to see the damage that yesterday`s
tornados caused. Stay tuned for that.

And up next, Amtrak says it`s actually not uncommon for trains to be struck
by people throwing rocks. What that means for the mystery of that deadly
train derailment outside Philadelphia -- next.


KORNACKI: It`s going to be a few more days before Amtrak resumes its
service between New York and Philadelphia. The railroad saying it will
take until Tuesday to repair tracks and other equipment damaged in last
week`s deadly derailment, an accident that killed eight people and injured
more than 200 others.

As the FBI and NTSB now look into reports the train might have been hit by
something in its windshield shortly before it derailed. NBC News has
spoken with a passenger on an Amtrak train traveling that same route that
night, who took this picture.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And there was a -- the window had shattered and
apparently there was a rock thrown at our car.


KORNACKI: That man is the third person to report something hitting a train
in that area last Tuesday night. An assistant conductor from the derailed
train told investigators she heard the engineer say something had hit the
locomotive. An engineer on a local train also claims his train was hit.

MSNBC`s Adam Reese is live in Philadelphia. So Adam, wow. I mean, reports
now that three different reports of this. What`s the latest you can tell

involved in investigating, is there a pattern here? Is there a link
between three separate incidents of trains getting hit, miles apart,
minutes apart?

Now let`s take a closer. First, at 9:05 Tuesday night, you had the Acela
train, 5 minutes later at 9:10, you have the Septa train, a local metro
train on a parallel track and then, of course, at 9:21, Tuesday night,
Amtrak 188 hit by what NTSB officials are calling a fist sized projectile
through the front windshield.

Now this could lead to a criminal investigation. We just don`t know yet.
Engineers call this getting rocked and it`s fairly common around this part
of the northeast corridor. They protect themselves with grills on the
front windshields. Listen to Jim Hall, former NTSB official.


JIM HALL, FORMER NTSB OFFICIAL: Unfortunately, we`re familiar from
previous accident investigation, various types of potential sabotage of
various types of transportation activity.


REISS: Now whether or not this led to the train going 106 miles per hour.
We just don`t know, but the Federal Railroad Administration has ordered
Amtrak to install automatic train control, which would alert the engineer
to slow the train down and if not, it would automatically do so -- Steve.

KORNACKI: All right, thanks to Adam Reiss for that report live from
Philadelphia. Appreciate that.

I want to turn now to John Golia, he is a former NTSB board member and he
joins us. John, when this first happened a few days go, all of the
attention was over the engineer on that train, did he do s, now we have
reports of three objects hitting three trains in a 16 minute span in that
area. Does this look different to you now than it did a few days ago?

JOHN GOGLIA, FORMER NTSB BOARD MEMBER: Well, the throwing rocks or objects
at the train is nothing new. I was actually on a train once when they were
throwing rocks. It didn`t break the windshield, but it did hit the cab
area of the train. It`s not uncommon. It`s been going on for many, many
years. I`m talking, my experience was maybe more than 5 years ago.

KORNACKI: So it takes something you`re saying it`s so common it would take
a particularly large on object or a freakish circumstance for it to
actually affect the travel of the train?

GOGLIA: That`s correct. In fact, what we know so far about this instance
is I cannot connect the dots between the rocket and the windshields and the
speed of the train. So it maybe two separate events.

KORNACKI: This particular area of the reporting I`m seeing, Adam was
telling you about this. Getting rocked is this expression. It`s so common
there is an expression for this thing happening in this area. The fences
near the railroad are easy to get scale, to get across, to get down there.
What kinds of precautions are taken by Amtrak and by train operators
because of that?

GOGLIA: They certainly tried to keep -- it`s usually kids, young people,
off the track side of the area, but it`s a daunting task. And you know,
young people, when you tell them they can`t do something, that`s like a
challenge to do it.

The railroads have a tiger by the tail trying to control this in an urban
area. You know, in a rural area it`s a little easier because there`s not
so many people even though the opportunities may be greater. Railroad
police are going have their hands full trying to keep the younger people
away from the track area.

KORNACKI: What is the key to figuring this out, to figuring out what
actually happened?

GOGLIA: While the NTSB is going to continue with their process looking for
physical evidence to connect the dots on what caused this derailment. We
know speed played a factor. Could damage have affected the speed of the
train? Where`s the controller?

Was it in an area that an object could have penetrated? Is there any
physical evidence to support that? The FBI will be doing their piece,
interviewing people, looking where the opportunities have occurred.

People have thrown objects at the trains and trying to trace that down.
They will be parallel investigations with different outcomes.

KORNACKI: All right, John Goglia, former NTSB board member, thank you for
your time this morning. Appreciate that.

GOGLIA: Thanks for having me.

KORNACKI: And still ahead, a full hour of politics and news including more
details on this U.S. strikes against ISIS targets and coming up next, a bad
week for Jeb Bush as he is confronted about his brother`s legacy. What it
says about how the debate to Iraq got to this point. Stay with us.


BUSH: We are all our own life`s journey. My brothers and sister are
different than me, but I`m not going to go out of my way to say that, you
know, my brother did this wrong or my dad did this wrong, it`s just not
going to happen.



KORNACKI: Relitigating Iraq.

All right. Thanks for staying with us this Sunday morning. Another tense
night across tornado alley. Last night storms touching down in many parts
of the Midwest. Debris flying through the air. A report from the ground
in Oklahoma about what residents are waking up to out there today. That is
ahead this hour. Also ahead in the show, when he was a weather man in
Indiana, David Letterman once described hail the size of canned hams. What
is "Late Night" going to be like without him? He will be leaving after
three more shows this week. That`s coming up also ahead, how the mood has
shifted. A Republican support for the war in Iraq and how the U.S.
invasion is being re-litigated on the 2016 campaign trail. Plus, we will
look at the other Clinton in the 2016 mix, what is Bill Clinton`s role
going to be as his wife runs for president again?

But we begin this hour with the question suddenly dominating the campaign
trail. Was it a mistake for the U.S. to invade Iraq back in 2003? It`s a
question that Jeb Bush masked have known he`d have to answer at some point,
and it`s one that Megyn Kelly of Fox News finally asked him at the start of
this week.

Knowing what you know now, would you have authorized the Iraq invasion?
And it is the question that as the week now ends, Bush still seems to be
trying to answer.


MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Knowing what we know now, would you
have authorized the invasion?

JEB BUSH: I would have.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, in other words, if the in 20/20 hindsight you would
make a different decision?

JEB BUSH: Yeah, I don`t know what that decision would have been. That`s a
hypothetical. But the simple fact is mistakes were made.

I respect the question, but if we are going to get back in the
hypotheticals, I think it does a disservice for a lot of people that
sacrificed a lot.

I would have not engaged. I would not have gone into Iraq.


KORNACKI: Bush eventually conceding on Thursday that no, knowing what we
know now about the lack of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, he wouldn`t
have gone into Iraq like his brother did. But his waffling led to terrible
headlines for Bush all week for questions about his judgment, his
independence from his brother, his basic skills as a candidate. One
person, though, who notably didn`t join the pileon, Hillary Clinton who as
a senator you remember, also voted to authorize the invasion back in 2002.
Decision that haunted her in the 2008 campaign for president.

Until relatively recently, Republican support for the war in Iraq was a
given, but by last year, 76 percent of Republicans were saying that they
believe the Iraq war will be judged a failure by history. And when you
think about that, that number is stunning. After all, it wasn`t that long
ago that the Republican Party eagerly wrapped itself in the Iraq war in
order to win a national election.


GEORGE W. BUSH: After more than a decade of diplomacy, we gave Saddam
Hussein another chance, a final chance to meet his responsibilities to the
civilized world. He again refused. And I faced the kind of decision that
comes only to the Oval Office. A decision no president would ask for but
must be prepared to make. Do I forget the lessons of September the 11 and
take the word of a mad man?


GEORGE. W. BUSH: Or do I take action to defend our country faced with that
choice? I will defend America every time.



KORNACKI: That was at the Republican Convention in 2004. George W. Bush
winning reelection. Back at the table this morning is Christina Bellantoni
with "Roll Call", Alvin Tillery from Northwestern University, Genevieve
Wood of "The Daily Signal" and in D.C. this morning joining us now, Matt
Lewis contributing editor with "The Weekend."

Matthew, first, I wanted to play that Bush clip from 2004. Because that
was - central to the message, George W. Bush`s reelection campaign that
year. The idea that no, it was not a mistake to go into Iraq. I would make
that decision all over again. And he waged that campaign and sounded that
message even though it was fairly clear back then. There were no WMD in
Iraq. I just - I guess I`m curious watching this whole thing play out with
Jeb Bush this week, how do we get to this moment where that same Republican
Party that cheered George W. Bush saying that in 2004, now says, no, you
know what? It was a mistake. How did that happen?

MATT LEWIS, THE WEEK: What`s amazing? I don`t even think you have to go
back to 2004. I mean I remember in 2008 when you had, you know,
essentially Ron Paul being the only person saying this, going up against
folks like Rudy Giuliani, and so I think this is a stunning reversal in
terms of the - what the candidates are saying. Not rank and file
Republican voters. But the candidates. And I think that, you know, it`s
almost reminds me of the way that opinions have changed on the gay marriage
issue. It is an amazing tipping point. And I think that Jeb Bush actually
helped expedite this by virtue of his gaps and by being in this race. I
think it`s quite remarkable. It seems like all of the sudden the consensus
opinion of Republican is that Iraq knowing what we know now, you have to
add that caveat in, was a mistake. And I think it`s amazing how quickly
this turned around.

KORNACKI: Yeah, know, I agree, and I guess I`m - bringing the panel here,
I`m trying to figure out what it was that triggered this, because the sort
of thing I watched this week Jeb Bush struggle to answer this question.
And in the vacuum there before he finally said yeah, it was a mistake,
Chris Christie jumped in right away and he sensed an opening. Chris
Christie trying to position himself on the right jumped in right away to
say no, this was a mistake. And I`m trying to imagine, and at that point
it`s Ron Paul in 2008, that`s how a Republican would have been treated
saying something like Chris Christie said just a couple of years ago. What
- do you guys have a sense what changed?

GENEVIEVE WOOD, THE DAILY SIGNAL: Well, I think as time goes on and people
become war weary. Look, and this has been a long war. It`s often called
the long war. Because the fact is it doesn`t really end. I mean the
reality is we`re still over there. We`re probably going to be over there
for some time and most Americans I think don`t want to be over there. Who
does? People want to - don`t want to see American soldiers killed, they
don`t want to see our troops abroad. At the same time, they don`t want to
see that come to our shore. So, I think there is this kind of tug of war
with the American people, but I will say this is a question that obviously
the candidates are going have to answer. But I think most Americans
eventually will come to the place. What about your policy now? Because
it`s very easy to have 20/20 look backwards. But I want to know what are
you going to do now about Iran? I want to know what you are going to do
now about China. I want to know now how are you going to deal with Mr.
Putin besides his hockey scores? I mean people, I think, want to know what
is the next president`s foreign policy vision for what we know today?

CHRISTINA BELLANTONI, ROLL CALL: And in addition to that, I say the media,
I think that this has been a problem. It`s not just Jeb Bush he should be
asking if he agrees with waterboarding or some of the things that happened
during his brother`s presidency. Like every Republican candidate should be
asked, if they agree with the last Republican president`s foreign policy
positions. And that`s I think a misstep because then, of course, all the
other candidates just react and make it about brother versus brother
instead of, you know, what is the Republican Party platform on these

ALVIN TILLEY: And that`s really the rub for all of these candidates.
Because where- it`s easy to look at Iraq with all of the casualties, the
many American soldiers that have come home permanently damaged and say the
cost was too high. Fundamentally, behind all of these debates over
Benghazi, over Iran, over Syria, are the words "regime change." And all of
these candidates are still committed to the use of American force to shift
regimes in this region in ways that I think would make the American people
very uncomfortable if you were to push on this question.

KORNACKI: That`s an interesting question, Matt, to bring you back into
this, because what exactly is the Republican Party say, when the consensus
position becomes yes it was a mistake to go into Iraq. How - is it a
narrow statement that`s being made there that just there were literally no
weapons of mass destruction, the intelligence was bad and because of that,
we shouldn`t have gone in, but in another circumstance it would be
perfectly acceptable to go into another country and do regime change. Is
it a narrow argument that`s being made here, or is it a broader re-
examination of foreign policy?

LEWIS: Well, look, I think it`s very easy now to sort of distance yourself
from Iraq and to abandon it. Because there is no - We don`t need to re-
elect George W. Bush, right? So, it`s essentially baggage. There`s not
really much to gain from it. You know, when you had to tow the party line
and get George W. Bush reelected, and act as if the other thing was fine,
you would that if you were a partisan Republican. Now, there is no - in
fact, it`s a drag to do that. So, part of this I think is opportunism.
You want to beat up on Jeb Bush if you are a Republican, you want to get -
you know, to the right of him, I guess, it`s hard to say if this is a right
or a left position at this point. But look, I think that the hopeful thing
is that Republicans learn the lesson and I do not think the lesson is to
become dovish. I do not think the lesson is to retreat inward and to
become isolationists. But I think the lesson is to be careful about
several things, one of which being intelligence. You know, when the so
called intelligence community gives you information, they say it`s a slam
dunk. You should be incredulous, you should be skeptical if you`re a
commander in chief.

That`s one lesson, and I think there is a big concern about nation building
and about spreading democracy. Ted Cruz has really staked out a very
interesting kind of Reaganesque position here. Which is to say, strong
national defense, peace through strength, but don`t try to go in and think
that you can topple a regime and turn them into good little, you know,
Democrats overnight. It took Western civilization hundreds of years to
evolve the institutions necessary to maintain Western, you know, Western
civilization and democracy. It`s very - in a sense, un-conservative to
think that you can topple a regime that has no history of that and all of
the sudden, export democracy.

KORNACKI: You know, we should say, I want to play this, too. We had the
clips from the cattle call out in Iowa last night with the Republican
candidate and there is one Republican candidate out there at least who
wants to defend George W. Bush. It`s not Jeb Bush. It`s Lindsey Graham.
Listen to what he had to say.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): President Bush, W., had the same information
everybody else in the world did and made the best decision he could. And
if anybody thinks Saddam Hussein was a good guy, then you need to go back
in time and check out the facts.


KORNACKI: So there it is. There`s the flip side of it you will hear from
Lindsey Graham. And I think John McCain made this point, too. They took
it back to Saddam Hussein and they say look, there may not have been WMD,
but there was a tyrant, there was a butcher in power there. And he`s not
there right now. So something positive came of it.

BELLANTONI: Sure. And you are going to continue to hear that line from
him. No doubt, you know, he and McCain are very closely aligned on these
issues. But we can`t leave the American people out of this part, because
remember when Barack Obama was considering military force in Syria? And it
was December of 2013, and the phone lines on Capitol Hill melted down
because people in Republican districts and Democratic districts were saying
please don`t do this. We are war weary. We do not want to start another
war. And so, I think both parties are really aware of this and they are
looking at all of the same polls we are. And they know that people are
afraid when they see somebody beheaded on television and there`s - a fear
of terrorism again, and that`s what, you know, sort of fueling this debate
right now.

WOOD: Yes, and I`ll pick up on something that Matt said. I mean yes,
while you may have people distancing themselves right now from the
decisions made in 2003 and 2004, if you listen to Marco Rubio`s speech at
the Council on Foreign Relations, he did not sound like a dove at all. He
sounded very tough. Even though he said knowing what we know now I would
not have made this decision. But I think the difference is kind of - at
the top of the show. I think you are going to have Republicans come out
and say we need to have a strong America. We need to strengthen our
military so that people do fear us, and so that people are so concerned
about terrorism knowing that we are willing to stand up and go after if we
have to. That doesn`t mean you have to go in and nation build.

And I think those will be the different kind of basically statements you
hear a lot of these candidates making.

TILLERY: I don`t really think that that`s the debate, though. The debate
is sort of - what type of institutions do you use to manifest that fear?
People in the Middle East that are being subjected to drone strikes fear
them, right? The debate is between interventionists foreign policy elite
that believes that sort of regime change is a philosophy for bringing about
sort of a safer America and a sort of Democratic foreign policy elite that
believes that we have got to sort of use these new technologies and really
limit, you know, sort of the engagement of our soldiers. And so, you know,
we know the Americans are afraid of terrorism. They should be, right? But
the question is did going into Iraq create ISIS, right? Did it do anything
to prevent the creation of ISIS?

WOOD: But the question has also been - but the question has also been ...

KORNACKI: That became a big stumbling block this week, too. Maybe
stumbling - but Jeb Bush making the case that ISIS is the result of Barack

WOOD: I do say that the other question is, that President Obama pulling
out our troops so quickly, also allowed ISIS ...


WOOD: So, those are the debates that we have now.

TILLERY: It`s not about strength, it`s about the sort of technologies and
the institutions and the way that we engage these ...

KORNACKI: Let me try to put a code on this, the discussion we`ve had
throughout the show, too, about Jeb Bush weighing in on this issue this
week and ultimately distancing himself a little bit from his brother`s
policy. Matt, I just want to put this up, because it caught my attention.
You have an article in the "Telegraph" the British paper, the headline was,
does Jeb Bush even really want to be U.S. president? You are watching him
this weekend. This is why you are asking me. Just explain that if you
would for a minute. Right.

LEWIS: Well, I`ll go back to 1979 when Ted Kennedy gave an interview to
Rod Jermod (ph) and he was asked the question, do you want - why do you
want to be president, and Ted Kennedy had no answer to that. He handed -
and Saddam and he talked about America`s natural resources, but a lot of
people think that doomed Kennedy`s candidacy, his primary against Jimmy
Carter when he couldn`t answer that question. He body language even seemed
to betray the sense that he really didn`t want to be president, he was
doing it to sort of because his two brothers, obviously, you know, were not
around to run for president to sort of avenge them. And because maybe as
part of a Kennedy dynasty he was expected to run for president whether he
really wanted to or not.

And I wonder about Jeb Bush. Does he really want to be president? When
you look at his body language, when you look at his inability to answer
this question and his insistence that he`s going to run a joyful campaign
and he`s not going to pander. It is going to tell people what they want.
You know, he`s not going to tell people what they want to hear, I wonder,
you know, you have to have the fire in the belly. The ambition to really
want to be president. I`m not sure that he does. And I think when you
look at his failure to answer this questions, and the body language, I
think it raises a fair question. Is this just - you know, is he expected
to run? It`s - his last chance? We will see. I mean this is a theory.
They can prove me wrong. Jeb Bush can get his act together. His people
don`t like this column, obviously.


KORNACKI: No, no, I think - I think Matt has a point here. He talks about
body language. This is the thing that jumps out at me when I watch Jeb
Bush. I think back to his brother, watching his brother on the stump, and
everybody - always made the George W. jokes, he mangles words, but there
was like a populous spunk to George W. Bush and I don`t see it with Jeb

LEWIS: No, I think W is the political genius of retail politics for the
Bush family. When I look at Jeb, I see Bush 41, right? Someone who was
not very good at retail politics. There was sort of almost somewhat
uncomfortable engaging the sort of populous elements. And so, you know,
I`m not sure, you know, that this is about anything other than sort of he
needs to get more up to speed on how sort of how to do retail politics.



KORNACKI: That`s the thing. He`s really going to speed on. Is it just a
question of do you have it or not. Anyway, thanks to Matt Lewis from "The
Week" for taking a few minutes. I appreciate that this morning.

LEWIS: Thank you.

KORNACKI: Also, meanwhile we have new details about the operation that led
to the death of a senior ISIS official and the capture of his wife. U.S.
Special Ops forces killed Abu Sayyaf during an overnight raid in Syria
yesterday, NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker joins us now
with more.

Kristen, we are learning about the wife this morning, and that she is
talking to intelligence officials.

KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: That is right. She`s talking to
intelligence officials. That is a big development, Steve. More on that in
just a moment, but first, the broader context. This is being hailed as a
major victory in the fight against ISIS. And now we do know a little bit
more about how it all went down. U.S. officials say American Delta Force
commandos took off from Northern Iraq in Black Hawk helicopters and Osprey
plain helicopter hybrid, and they flew into an ISIS stronghold in eastern

Now, the target of the mission as you say was Abu Sayyaf. He is not really
known to most Americans, but U.S. officials say he was a top ISIS operator.
He managed ISIS`s oil and gas income. So, that`s really a big deal. He
was also close to ISIS leader Abu Bakar al-Baghdadi, but taking him down,
Steve, was not easy. There was a huge gunfight, and even hand to hand
fighting. But Abu Sayyaf was killed along with 12 other ISIS fighters.
Now, again, no U.S. forces were killed. They did take Abu Sayyaf`s wife
into custody, as you say. She is known as Umm Sayyaf. She`s apparently
talking to her interrogators and that is significant. Because it could
lead to the whereabouts of more ISIS fighters.

Now, first when you look at this, why is this a big deal - it shows that
the U.S. is willing to take on ISIS in its safe heavens. This mission was
incredibly risky. That can`t be underscored enough. If any of those U.S.
commandos have been captured, they would have almost certainly been
tortured and killed as we have seen with other ISIS fighters. And again,
they are hoping that this yields more intelligence.
Of course, the broader fight against ISIS continues in places like Iraq and
Syria, and as we know this past week the key city of Ramadi fell and that
really underscores the fact that this will likely be a protracted fight.
Steve, back to you.

KORNACKI: All right, amazing all of the Americans got out safe and sound.

WELKER: Incredible.

KORNACKI: I appreciate that information. Also, developing this morning we
have learned the names of the six U.S. Marines who were killed when their
Hewy helicopter crashed in Nepal last week. They were delivering aid to an
area hit hard by last month`s earthquake. Investigators still aren`t sure
what caused the crash. Two service members from Nepal were also killed.

Still ahead you may not see him on the campaign trail in the coming year,
but you will probably still see plenty of Bill Clinton. Is he going to be
an asset or a liability for his wife?

And next, we will go to Oklahoma to see firsthand some of the devastation
left in the wake of this outbreak of tornadoes.


KORNACKI: This morning thousands of people in Oklahoma are getting their
first look at the devastation caused by a series of tornadoes that tore
across that state yesterday and last night. Meanwhile, the threat of more
severe weather has not subsided with more storms possible today. NBC
News`s John Yang is in Oklahoma City for us. John?

JOHN YANG, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Steve. For the second
straight weekend, Tornado Alley living up to its name. At least 19
tornadoes reported overnight across the middle of the country from as far
south as Texas to as far north as Minnesota. Some of them captured on
camera. And in Texas there was torrential downpours of hail flooding
highways in streets. Heavy rains causing flooding. In spite of all that
violence from the skies, no reports of fatalities so far. And it`s not
over yet. Tens of millions of people in the path of the threat of severe
weather later today. Steve?

KORNACKI: 19 tornadoes. That`s crazy. My thanks to John Yang in Oklahoma
City for that.

Still ahead, the U.S. Special Forces raid in eastern Syria. It was a
daring mission involving hand to hand combat. What exactly happened on the
ground? And next, he could be his wife`s best weapon or her greatest
liability. How will Bill Clinton affect Hillary Clinton`s campaign. Stay
with us.



BILL CLINTON: If she wins the election, the chances are 100 percent I`ll
move back.


BILL CLINTON: Wait. If I`m asked.




KORNACKI: Former President Bill Clinton raising eyebrows a little bit on
Tuesday when he told David Letterman that if Hillary win the presidency, he
would move back to the White House, but only if he`s asked. The name of
Bill Clinton also in the news in a big way this weekend with the revelation
that he and Hillary earned more than $30 million in just the last 16
months, $25 million of that from paid speeches.

And that is the topic - paid speeches, lucrative paid speeches that
recently provoked a prickly response from the former president.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, she`s now running for president. Will you
continue to give speeches?

BILL CLINTON: Oh yeah. I`ve got to pay our bills.


KORNACKI: Comments like that when raising speculation about how much of an
asset the former president really is to his wife`s presidential campaign?
"Washington Post" reported last week that Bill Clinton`s senior aides say
he does not plan to do any formal campaign activities for his wife in 2015.
Yet, he`ll continue appearing publicly doing work for the Clinton
foundation. Then giving paid speeches. Bill Clinton, of course, is one of
the most gifted political communicators ever, but he can also cause some
real headaches for his wife. He`s also shown that in the past. So, what
is his role going to be this time around? Let`s bring the panel in to talk
about this. So, Christina, Bill Clinton, on the one hand it`s a no-brainer.
If you a candidate running for office, and Bill Clinton says, I want to
help you. Who doesn`t want Bill Clinton helping them? On the other hand,
we saw in 2008 there were some real problems that he caused.

BELLANTONI: What shows this, when he`s on the defensive he`s not always
strong. He can do her some harm. But the fact remains he`s still globally
popular. He can raise a ton of money. It`s that two for the price of one.
You can have a rally in Ohio and a fundraiser in Florida and she can be
raising money in California, then doing more fundraising in New York and
then you stop in Iowa for a rally. I mean they have a lot of ability to do
that. And he was out there very full force in 2014. Trying to help, you
know, Mark Pryor survived his Senate reelection, which he ultimately lost
in Arkansas going to work for Alison Lundergan. Grimes in Kentucky, and it
was not, though, successful, but he was very well received. So, in the end
if he continues to just be a campaigner it might be OK.

KORNACKI: But this was - let`s take you down a trip down memory lane here.
Back to 2008, and these were some of the problems that were caused by Bill
Clinton, the Clinton Obama primary race. So, this was in January 2008.
Hillary`s fighting for her political life in New Hampshire, Bill Clinton is
asked about Barack Obama and the Iraq war and it prompts this response.


BILL CLINTON: It is wrong that Senator Obama got to go through 15 debates
trumpeting his superior judgment. Give me a break.


BILL CLINTON: This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I have ever seen.


KORNACKI: The biggest fairy tale I have ever seen. I remember, that line
really kind of haunted him for really - for years to come after that. I
guess what it points to to me is Bill Clinton has incredible political
talent, I so charismatic and communicates sunniness and warmth, but it`s
also easy to get under his skin.

TILLERY: Well, the comparison with Jeb is really striking, right? Bill
Clinton is clearly the most gifted retail politician in the modern era.
The dilemma for Hillary is that he`s against message, right? So, Hillary
has to run a more progressive left campaign because the Democratic base is
about income inequality, they are about racial equality in response to the
uprising in Baltimore and Ferguson. And many of Bill Clinton`s policy
legacies, things like the 1994 crime bill, you know, are very problematic
for this new message that she wants to deliver. And then on top of that,
we haven`t even talked about the role of people in the Clinton Treasury
Department like Larry Summers and Rubin with creating the financial
meltdown in 2008 in the first place by getting rid of Glass Steagall. And
so, if Hillary is going to really have a chance, even if this is going to
be a coronation, she`s going to have to distance herself from President
Clinton. And I know this sounds crazy. It`s from the message, that`s the

KORNACKI: It`s interesting. We are the - some of the Democratic bases.
But I do wonder, too, Genevieve, where the whole country is. And I think
of - if we were to get it, and I know I`ve the spend the last 30 minutes
saying, I`m not sure Jeb Bush is going to come out of this ....


KORNACKI: But let`s say we were to get like a Jeb Bush versus Hillary
Clinton match-up in the general election. And I can feel the country
getting very excited about it.


KORNACKI: As they imagine it.

WOOD: Pull out the old t-shirt and bumper stickers.

KORNACKI: But think about that for a minute, because they will each be
compared. She`ll be compared to her husband, and Jeb will be compared to
his brother, but I think people remember the first Clinton presidency a lot
more favorably than they remember the Bush presidency.

WOOD: Yeah. I mean look, Bill Clinton is still very popular, much - he
is still very popular. I think the challenge is, you never know exactly
what his message is going to be.

KORNACKI: That`s right.

WOOD: I mean and this is one thing that the Obama campaign struggle with
in 2008, and again 2012. They weren`t even involved, but they knew there`s
a risk with this. The other side for her, he can outshine her. I mean
Bill Clinton is very good on stage. He is very good in terms of just, you
know, waking up to the camera and wooing people. I don`t think that`s
Hillary`s gift so much. When they are next to each other, I think he kind
of sucks the oxygen out of the room. So, I think she`s going to couple - I
mean yes, he`s a benefit, but there`s just negative to come - and walk with

KORNACKI: Didn`t she make - She made a comment or at least it was
attributed to her at some point, where she said when she set out to run for
the Senate in New York back in 2000, she went to Bill at one point, and she
said, all of these years, not until now when I tried to do it on my own I
appreciate how good you were at this.

BELLANTONI: Yeah, and also, think about the role he would play in 2007 and
2008. He would go to speech after speech in Iowa, and he would lay out his
case for why she was experienced enough to be president. She`s earned that
right on her own in a different way now, right? She had a number of years
working in the administration. She had more time between her and being in
office. And now she can make that case. She does not need him as much to
validate her credentials in the same way.

And so, I think it`s less of an introduction to the country and more like
yeah, you know, I`m going to be right here supporting her. The comments
about we have to pair Bill - Republicans are going to have a field day with
that, because it`s the same exact issue that Mitt Romney faced: if people
feel like the Clintons no longer identify with them that`s going to be a


WOOD: Especially when your whole argument is income inequality and
identify with you, and then you`ve got basically, I`m going to be making
speeches all of the - I`ve got to keep paying the bills.


KORNACKI: I have to say, you can picture - just go back to 2012, and
imagine if on top of saying he was friends with the NASCAR owners and - if
Mitt Romney had said, oh, yeah, I need to pay my bills with this $25
million check, how that would have gone over?

TILLERY: It`s actually worse, right? Because Romney`s sort of plank was
not income inequality.

WOOD: Yeah, he didn`t pretend to be ...

TILLERY: Hillary is doing everything right in terms of strategically
approaching a Democratic primary with the Obama coalition, front and
center. Young voters, minority voters. People of middle income. She is
doing everything right. And you just don`t know ...

KORNACKI: Should he stop ...


KORNACKI: He come out - should Bill Clinton come out now and just say, you
know what, I`m not taking money for these speeches anymore?

TILLERY: He should. Particularly in the wake of the email scandal. With
the - at the - at state. I mean this idea that the Clintons are
untrustworthy and that they are sort of, you know, implicated in all of
these kind of smoky room sort of pay per play is really problematic. Why
is anyone paying them this much money for these speeches? It`s always
going to be something that tags back to this ethical dilemmas. But it -
always followed.

BELLANTONI: And then you can go back to what the restrictions they have
placed on these donations from foreign governments. If a country, an
entity says I`m not going to contribute and you just assume that influence
is not going to carry over and let`s say she`s president for eight years


BELLANTONI: Definitely. I mean people will be - there will be

KORNACKI: People don`t buy it. Yeah, I mean it`s number one rule of
politics. People give money for a reason.

WOOD: Right.


KORNACKI: Anyway, up next, SNL says good-bye for the season with one last
look at the 2016 campaign before it returns in the fall. We will show you
that. Stay with us.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love your sand castle.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thanks, it`s our dreamhouse.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, neat. This is my dreamhouse.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why don`t you tell your parents to vote for me,
Hillary Clinton?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, they don`t like you.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t know. They just don`t.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, what can I do moving forward to earn their

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think nothing because they said they don`t like you
and they just, um, never will.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What a fun thing to hear for almost 20 years.

(SINGING): It`s summer, summertime


KORNACKI: Those are our studio neighbors just a few hours ago ending the
40th season of "Saturday Night Live" with one more dig at the 2016
presidential race. Much more from them to come this fall when they are
back. In the meantime, let`s take a look at some of the other headlines
making news this morning with today`s panel. How about this - Letterman`s
last week. It is actually here. It is this week. Three more shows left
for David Letterman. He will end - his 22 year run. CBS`s "Late Night"
host this Wednesday night Tom Hanks is going to be on this week. Bill
Murray is going to be his final guest. Bill Murray was his first guest
when he went to CBS all of those years ago. Bob Dylan also reportedly
scheduled to appear on Tuesday night`s show. You`ve got to go all the way
back. In 19982, 33 years ago, that was when he started late night here on
NBC revolutionized the late night genre. It is, you know, I tell you what
it`s one of those shows. I don`t think I`ve watched it regularly for a few
years now, but David Letterman to me, still, if you ask me who my favorite
late night host is I would say it`s David Letterman.

WOOD: And think about how the entire comedy`s landscape has been
completely reshaped this year, right? You know, Colbert switching over,
Jon Stewart retiring, you know, Letterman saying farewell.

I mean this is going to be an entirely new generation. I mean John Oliver
is now the guy who everybody`s talking about. And he has another
opportunity to shape the political debate.

KORNACKI: The thing about Letterman, though, that I hope is appreciated by
people out there. There`s so much talk right now. It`s almost like he`s
the old guy. He`s 67 years old and always younger ones have come along and
sort of revolutionized what "Late Night" is. But so much of what they are

TILLARY: It`s Letterman.

KORNACKI: It`s Letterman. People see that - he was the guy who made "Late
Night" sort of a parody of television. Who was always sort of ironic self-
referential stuff. That was Letterman who did it.

WOOD: Yeah. Yeah. And really being popular to just having such adoring
fans. I mean I remember when he was at NBC, I was at NBC page, and like
people would be lined for hours to get tickets to that show. It didn`t
hold that many people in the audience here. He really was a phenomenon.
It`s kind of - it`s an end of an era, really.

KORNACKI: Yeah, so we will see how Stephen Colbert does coming in this
fall a few months between now and then. How news this morning? How about
this? The Bernie Sanders bear. The Vermont teddy bear company is actually
coming out with a special edition of a bear for Bernie Sanders. You can
see it right there.


KORNACKI: You can actually order this for the very affordable price of
$79.99. The bear is 15 inches tall. It is apparently it will talk. It is
a passionate - speaker that will tell you "I am not a circus bear. I am
not a dancing bear. I am not a toy bear."

But kids will love it.

BELLANTONI: So it`s the cranky Bernie Sanders.


KORNACKI: The cranky bear.

BELLANTONI: So, there was Ernie Sanders who was sort of a puppet-muppet
who was on Twitter running for president, and he actually got a cease and
desist order from Sesame Street, so, you know, I`m excited to see this

KORNACKI: Yeah. I don`t think this is going to be a cease and desist
order you get from Bernie Sanders, because this is his home state`s
economy. You don`t want to mess with the Vermont Teddy bear.

WOOD: But how - the kids when Bernie ...


KORNACKI: It`s going to be guys like me that are going to pass it around.

TILLERY: Yeah. I totally make downstairs.

KORNACKI: But 80 bucks. I have got to get northwestern ...


KORNACKI: Everybody in our show can put in five bucks each and we are
going to order the Bernie Sanders bear. We`ll see what other - what other


KORNACKI: Do you see the resemblance? I don`t know. That`s - they both
have suits. I don`t know. Anyway. Another headline this morning, this is
about NFL ball handling, football handling. According to the Associated
Press, the NFL is going to change how it handles football before game`s no
words on specifically how that`s going to happen. This comes as Tom Brady
appeals his four game suspension. As the commissioner, Roger Goodell, says
he will hear that appeal from Tom Brady and said of handing it off to an
independent arbitrator. This is one of those sort of Department of Obvious
ones, I guess. I think that shocking thing to people about this story was
finding out just how easy it was potentially for teams to monkey where
these footballs before games.

TILLERY: Yeah, I mean I think for 70 million bucks, you know, to the
commissioner hearing the appeal is a good thing right?


TILLERY: I also think, you know, sort of, you know, the NFL controlling
the equipment that`s fine. I`m still - I don`t believe the hype. I mean I
think it`s easier for everybody to catch a deflated football.

And so, you know, whatever.


KORNACKI: Thank you. First of all ...

WOOD: You`re playing into this.

KORNACKI: First of all, thank you.

TILLERY: I am. I`m a Boston guy.

KORNACKI: No, but no ....

TILLERY: I don`t like Tom Brady. I was short on him when they took him -
I didn`t think he was that great at Michigan. I was proven wrong ....


TILLERY: But I do think it`s easier for everybody to catch a deflated

KORNACKI: By the way.

TILLERY: Come on, people.

KORNACKI: You know, who didn`t catch the deflated football? So you got me
on my hobby horse. But you know who didn`t catch it? The referees. The
referees - every - the football is touched between every play by the side


KORNACKI: I know I have a very popular opinion with America. I am sure I
will hear about it. This is (inaudible) agrees, so I`m relishing this
moment. We can get to one more headline here. This is McCaskill on
Warren. Senator Claire McCaskill from Missouri backtracking on comments
she made suggesting that Elizabeth Warren is getting more attention than
she deserves for her opposition to the TPP. McCaskill telling the New York
Times last week that she was confused over why Warren was getting this
attention. McCaskill yesterday tweeted, "We all seek attention, including
me in Washington. Elizabeth Warren deserves it. She is strong, smart, and
focused." Christina, if you are a Democrat, if you have ambitions as a
Democrat, you don`t want to be in a fight with Elizabeth Warren.

BELLANTONI: No, certainly not. In fact, you use her to prop yourself up

KORNACKI: Or you backtrack when you fail to do that. Anyway, thanks to
this morning`s panel. Christina Bellantoni, Alvin Tillery, Genevieve Wood,
appreciate you all being here. Especially you. In the last segment.
Still ahead, a closer look at that deadly raid by U.S. special forces in
Syria. And next, what happened at yesterday`s Preakness that also has not
happened in more than 30 years.


KORNACKI: For the second time in as many years a horse is going run in the
Belmont stakes next month with a chance at winning the Triple Crown.
Kentucky Derby winner American Pharoah capturing the Preakness stakes
yesterday at Pimlico race course in Baltimore. It was a race that was run
in a torrential downpour. This is the first time the Preakness was run on
a wet track in more than 30 years. And it has been even longer since a
horse won the Triple Crown. Affirmed was the last 3-year-old to complete
that feat all the way back in 1978, 37 years ago. American Pharaoh is
going to be the favorite, almost certainly, in the Belmont, which will be
held on June 6.

But keep this in mind. Favorites go into that race and lose all the time.
Since 1978, 14 horses have won the first two legs of the Triple Crown only
to be denied in the third. That includes three of the past four years.
Keep that in mind as you place your bets in the Belmont Stakes in a few

Up next, a rare ground attack deep inside Syria. Inside ISIS territory.
How the military executes an operation inside hostile territory, stay with


KORNACKI: The U.S. military yesterday carrying out a rare ground attack
inside ISIS controlled territory in Syria on their way to killing a senior
commander for ISIS oil and gas operations that helped to fund the
organization. Government officials describing scenes of hand-to-hand
combat against a dozen ISIS fighters in that raid yesterday. Remarkably
leaving no U.S. soldiers killed or injured.

So how is a raid like this even carried out? MSNBC military analyst Colonel
Jack Jacobs joins us now with the big board to take us through the
mechanics of this. Thanks for taking a few minutes. Start by setting the
scene. This is Syria, tell us where this was playing out yesterday.

COL. JACK JACOBS, MSNBC MILITARY ANALYST: This is in the east you know,
it`s not controlled by Damascus, which I can`t point to because I don`t
have orangutan arms. Who did it? This is the objective here. Who did it?
Delta Force.

KORNACKI: So we think the Chuck Norris movie, but the Delta Force is a
real thing.

JACOBS: It really is. For a long time people said Delta Force, and then
the Defense Department says there is no such thing. Then they said yes,
there is. Army guys dedicated to doing this sort of stuff. The vehicles
they used, assault element in assault helicopters. Shown here in
Blackhawks. Some movement and probably the follow-up and security element
in Ospreys, vertical take off and landing, go really fast, carry a lot of
stuff. Like any military operation, you start at the end and you work
backwards. Here`s the objective. And here is where you start. How are
you going to get there? You want to make sure you do a vertical
envelopment. You want to land on the objective.

KORNACKI: A vertical envelopment? Tell us what that means.

JACOBS: Land right on top of the objective. You don`t want to lose the
element of surprise. And that`s the reason, the other thing you do is to
go at night. We have the benefit of having night vision devices, night
vision scopes and so forth. So we have the advantage over the enemy,
especially in the middle of the night.

You are not going to be able to fly from here to there very, very easily.
If something happens you`re in a pickle. So what you do is you have
effectively a forward operating base. You stage the troops there, probably
using Ospreys. Refuel if necessary. And then you make the assault with
the assault element.

Meanwhile Ospreys and helicopters remain here with a follow-up element. It
always takes more people than you think. If it takes a couple dozen here,
it takes at least another couple of dozen here, just in case you want to
exploit more success or you run into trouble. Remember in Abbottabad when
we landed on top of Osama bin Laden, one of the helicopter blades clipped a
wall in the compound, out of action, immediately sent another helicopter.

KORNACKI: They were ready for that. How long does an operation like this
take to play out?

JACOBS: Once you are on the objective, only minutes. From here to here
can actually take days. Don`t forget, doing an operation like this is
wholly a function of having good intelligence. We have not only good
overhead intelligence, satellite, drones and so on. We also have
intelligence from people on the ground. You conduct the operation and
extract back to the forward operating base and withdraw at your leisure.
But always with more backup. At least double the number of people they are
talking about. Then there`s also admin, logistics. And if necessary, high
performance aircraft.

KORNACKI: And when you hear hand to hand combat actually taking place there
and there were no casualties on the U.S. side. Does that surprise you?

JACOBS: No. They are very skilled people. They have night vision
goggles. It`s relatively easy to overcome an enemy that`s been subjected
to our surprise. Hand to hand combat, we normally think of we`re doing
jiu-jitsu and that sort of stuff. It rarely takes place, but from time to
time it does. In any case we have the drop on them. I`m not surprised we
overcame them very, very quickly. The reason we went in there rather than
using a drone, could have blown them up. But we wanted his computers, we
wanted his cash flow.

KORNACKI: You wanted to take something out of there.

JACOBS: We want the bank accounts. This is liable to be a huge treasure
trove of information that we can convert into finished intelligence. And
let`s not be surprised if the same kinds of operations ensue in the
following weeks.

KORNACKI: Again, all of that taking place without a single American
casualty. Colonel Jack Jacobs, really appreciate the time.

JACOBS: You`re welcome.

KORNACKI: Thank you for that exhibition there and thank you for getting up
with us today. We appreciate that. You can catch more of me not on the
weekend but actually during the week if you want with special guests every
Monday nights on meerkat and periscope. If you miss that on a podcast,
check me out on Twitter. I`ll give you all the details on that. Up next
is Melissa Harris-Perry. Stay tuned. We`ll see you next weekend. Have a
great week.


<Copy: Content and programming copyright 2015 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Copyright 2015 Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>

Rachel Maddow Show Section Front
Add Rachel Maddow Show headlines to your news reader:

Sponsored links

Resource guide