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Meet the Press - July 31, 2016

Meet the Press - July 31, 2016

***BEGIN TRANSCRIPT***

CHUCK TODD:

This Sunday morning a new Trump controversy. Remember this rebuke of Donald Trump from the father of a fallen Muslim Army Captain.

KHIZR KHAN:

You have sacrificed nothing and no one.

CHUCK TODD:

Trump responds that he's made many sacrifices and questions why the mother didn't speak at the Democratic Convention. The father responds this morning.

Plus, 100 days to go, where does the race stand now after the two parties offer very different visions of America? Joining me this morning are the two top strategists from both campaigns.

Also, hack attack and the Russian connection. I talk to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange about why it looks as if he's more interested in sabotaging the Clinton campaign.

Are you hoping these leaks elect Donald Trump President?

And joining me for insight and analysis are David Brooks, columnist at the New York Times; Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, Doris Kearns Goodwin; Trump Super PAC advisor Alex Castellanos and NBC News campaign correspondent, Hallie Jackson. Welcome to Sunday, it's Meet the Press.

ANNOUNCER:From NBC News in Washington, this is Meet the Press, with Chuck Todd.

CHUCK TODD:

Good Sunday morning. We're at one of those critical junctures in a Presidential race where a campaign can freeze for about a month during the Olympics, the end of summer and the Labor Day break. The past two weeks we've heard two remarkably different visions of America offered by the two candidates at their conventions. Donald Trump sees a troubled nation that needs to be rescued.

(BEGIN TAPE)

DONALD TRUMP:

Our convention occurs at a moment of crisis for our nation. The attacks on our police and the terrorism of our cities threaten our very way of life. Any politician who does not grasp this danger is not fit to lead our country.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Hillary Clinton's America was, to use a word, perhaps more "Reganesque", certainly, a bit more optimistic.

(BEGIN TAPE)

SEC. HILLARY CLINTON:

A country where all our children can dream and those dreams are within teach, where families are strong, communities are safe and yes, where love trumps hate.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

The story breaking this morning comes out of the conventions and that emotional moment when the father of a fallen Muslim U.S. Army Captain rebuked Trump.

(BEGIN TAPE)

KHIZR Khan:

Have you ever read the United States Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Trump yesterday seemed to question why Ghazala Khan, the mother of the fallen Muslim Army Captain did not speak at the Democratic Convention. The story is making headlines today and appears to be another distraction that the Trump campaign did not need. In a moment, I'll have my interview with the father of the U.S. Captain, Khizr Khan. But we begin with Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort. Mr. Manafort, welcome back to Meet the Press.

PAUL MANAFORT:

Thank you, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to play for you a comment that Mr. Khan said to me this morning responding to the most recent statement that the campaign has put out, here it is.

(BEGIN TAPE)

KHIZR KHAN:

We have a candidate without a moral compass, without empathy for its citizens. The way he showed disrespect towards the Golden Star mother of this country, that says it all.

CHUCK TODD:

Your wife.

KHIZR KHAN:

My wife. The brave mother of my son, Captain Humayun Khan.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Mr. Manafort, can you explain why Mr. Trump went so hard after Mr. Khan?

PAUL MANAFORT:

Look, this is, again, this is the Clinton narrative. Mr. Trump of course feels sorry for what the Khan family has gone through, just frankly as he felt sorry for the victims that spoke before the Republican Convention who lost loved ones from illegal immigrant criminals coming in and being able to travel the country freely. That's not the issue. The issue here is not the Khan family, not the Mendoza family, now the Shaw family. The issue that Mr. Trump is talking about and which, really, frankly, I expect the media should be talking about is protecting the American homeland from national security risks and terrorists.

That's the point here. And Mr. Trump has said very clearly for months now a policy that's been ignored, which is that he believes that we need to have a temporary suspension to stop refugees from coming in from countries where terrorist activities are rampant or in a war. That's the issue, not the Khan family loss which we all regret, not the loss of many other American families which we all regret. The issue is how to protect the homeland. And the second part of the issue which is being ignored is the cause of these losses, because it forced our American military to go back into Iraq, to go into Syria and that cause was the policies that were put together in January of 2009 by President Clinton and Secretary Obama that caused ISIS to rise.

ISIS didn't exist before 2009; they exist today. They are causing the problems that we're facing. Those are the two issues: Protecting the homeland and stopping the war and going after ISIS in a way that ends the terrorism. The losses of the Khan family and the other Americans who have lost--that's a tragedy.

And the only way we're going to stop it is to focus on the real issues and that's what Trump is doing. And frankly, what Secretary Clinton did in her speech on Thursday was totally ignoring it. She sees an America that, "Morning in America," as she said. It's not morning in America. And if it's midnight in America, like she accused Mr. Clinton of, it's the policies of Obama and Clinton that caused it to be midnight. Mr. Trump has neither position.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, but I got to ask you, though, it does seem as if the temperament question is coming into play. In the last three days, he's gone after Gold Star parents personally and you've had to backtrack there and you, yourself, just did it. He called a former NATO general, John Allen, a failed general, referred to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg as a little man. I got to ask you, why all these insults? Does that not raise a temperament issue? I assume you would not be advising him to go about responding in this way.

PAUL MANAFORT:

Well, Chuck, you're now repeating the talking points of the Clinton campaign. This is not a temperament issue. The Clinton campaign needs to try to make it into a temperament issue for one reason because they know that over 70 percent of the American people don't believe a thing she says. And so, therefore, her putting up policies that she's going to do have no credibility.

Her talking about the Obama Administration has done a great job and deserves an A on the economy. I mean, please, let's talk to American families and sit around the dinner table at night figuring how to pay their bills. The American economy is not in good shape; productivity is failing.

The day after her convention, the Department of Commerce printed out the latest second quarter growth, 1.2 percent. The country's not working. It's not about temperament. That's the only issue that Clinton can try and get you, the media, to cover in hopes of ignoring what the real issues of this election are.

CHUCK TODD:Well Mr. Manafort--

PAUL MANAFORT:The American people are smarter than that--

CHUCK TODD:

We can only cover the campaign in front of us and what the candidate says and I guess my question is, you brought up the GDP, he's bringing up other stuff. And I guess the question is: What is Mr. Trump focused on? And if he gets distracted like this, why shouldn't this be an issue that concerns voters of him in the Oval Office if he can so easily get distracted by personal criticism?

PAUL MANAFORT:

He's not distracted. You are covering the wrong things. I mean, look at the DNC hack. I mean, the issue there that you focused on was the election was rigged against Sanders and would Sanders delegates be upset? That wasn't the issue. The issue was lack of moral conviction on the part of the Clinton campaign that worked with the DNC to rig the system.

Did you talk about the moral clarity of that decision? When Mr. Trump talked about, "Isn't it ironic that foreign countries and foreign enemies of ours might have the 33,000 emails that the F.B.I. doesn't have?" Did you focus on that fact, the risk of national security? No. So the issues are in front of you, you're just talking the Clinton narrative and not focusing on the issues that affect the American people.

CHUCK TODD:

Does it not also matter if a foreign government wants to take part in our election? Do you condemn that?

PAUL MANAFORT:

Of course we condemn that. That's not the issue at all. Mr. Trump was making the point that isn't it ironic that 33,000 emails that our F.B.I. can't have that may go to national security issues are sitting probably in the vaults of foreign countries, friends and enemies alike? That's the issue.

So it's there in front of you. It's just the Clinton narrative is putting out their talking points because they know that anything she says won't have any credibility. And they're getting you to cover it from their standpoint instead of the standpoint of what affects the American people.

CHUCK TODD:

Let me ask you this, there was another comment he made about debates. Clarify this: Do you plan on participating in any debates that conflict with the NFL?

PAUL MANAFORT:

Look, we're going to sit down with the commission and talk with them. Again, the DNC hack showed you that the Clinton campaign was working to schedule debates against Sanders which has the least possible viewing audience. Mr. Trump saying, "Look, we want the maximum viewing audience. So I'm not sure, you know, what the dates are going to be ultimately. Mr. Trump has made it very clear as recently as Friday, he wants the debates. He wants them to have the largest audience. And we're going to work with the commission to try and identify what those dates are. But we're not going to fall to Hillary Clinton and the ploy that she did against Bernie Sanders of trying to have the lowest-viewing audience. We want the biggest.

CHUCK TODD:

And before I let you go, there's been some controversy about something in the Republican Party platform that essentially changed the Republican Party's views when it comes to Ukraine. How much influence did you have in changing that language, sir?

PAUL MANAFORT:

I had none. In fact, I didn't even hear of it until after our convention was over.

CHUCK TODD:

Where did it comes from then? Because everybody on the platform committee had said it came from the Trump campaign. If not you, who?

PAUL MANAFORT:

It absolutely did not come from the Trump campaign. And I don't know who everybody is, but I guarantee you it was nobody that was on the platform committee--

CHUCK TODD:

So nobody from the Trump campaign wanted that change in the platform?

PAUL MANAFORT:

No one, zero.

CHUCK TODD:

Okay, Mr. Manafort, I will leave it there, appreciate you coming on this morning.

PAUL MANAFORT:

Thank you, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, earlier this morning I did speak, as I noted with Mr. Manafort with Khizr Khan, here's a bit of that interview.

(BEGIN TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Mr. Khan, welcome to Meet the Press.

KHIZR KHAN:

Good morning, thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

Look, your speech was one of the most memorable and emotional moments of the convention. Did you expect to have your speech have such an impact?

KHIZR KHAN:

Not at all. I was surprised myself. I spoke from heart. Those were my thoughts and edited by my wonderful wife. I would read it to her while getting ready, while traveling on the train. And she would edit. And she would say, "No, you're not going to say this. No, this is not for the occasion."

CHUCK TODD:

What was she telling you not to say? What were some things that she didn't want you to say?

KHIZR KHAN:

You're going to put me in trouble with her. Because I'm going to say my first words were, "These are my thoughts. And these are my words," and then pause. Because I was hinting by that to some plagiarism that took place. The stewardship of this country needs to be in the hands of the person who has moral compass, who can relate, who has some empathy with the citizens he wishes to lead.

This candidate is void of both. So, she asked me to not say that. So, I deleted that. I don't manufacture these incidents. The way he showed disrespect towards the Gold Star mother of this country, that says it all.

CHUCK TODD:

Your wife?

KHIZR KHAN:

My wife, the brave mother of my son, Captain Humayun Khan. Hero of this country. We don't take these values lightly. We are testament to the goodness of this country. We experience the goodness of this country every day. It affirms our belief that we made the right choice. But then, to see when we got back home our four-year-old granddaughter said to her grandmother, "Why were you so upset? Why were you so sad?" A four-year-old person can feel that sadness, yet the candidate for the president of the United States cannot empathize with the people that he wishes to lead.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, he responded to your question, "What sacrifices have you made?" when you so poignantly asked that question at the convention. And as you know, Mr. Trump has responded to you. And he has said the following, "I think I've made a lot of sacrifices. I work very, very hard. I've created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs. I think they're sacrifices.

"I think when I can employ thousands and thousands of people, take care of their education, take care of so many things, even in military, I mean, I was very responsible, along with a group of people, for getting the Vietnam Memorial built in downtown Manhattan, which to this day people thank me for. I raise and have raised millions of dollars for the vets. I'm helping the vets a lot. I think my popularity with vets is through the roof." Do those constitute the sacrifices that you were referring to when you were asking him that question?

KHIZR KHAN:

I appreciate his statement calling my son a hero and making this clarification and statement. I appreciate that. But it sounds so disingenuous because of his policies, because of his rhetoric of hatred, of derision, of dividing us. And that is why I implored him to read the Constitution.

Because that document, it wasn't just showing him the Constitution. I was pointing towards the values in that Constitution, enshrined foundation of this wonderful country and this nation. In another conversation, I asked and I appealed to the leadership of the Republican Party that they should disassociate themselves.

CHUCK TODD:

You made a direct plea to Mitch McConnell by name and Paul Ryan by name.

KHIZR KHAN:

That is correct.

CHUCK TODD:

You were fans of both of them.

KHIZR KHAN:

Correct. I remain. I have tremendous respect for both of them. Republican and Democrats are as patriotic as anyone else. This is a political process. It's a wonderful, beautiful political process. But in that political process, there are some moral, ethical values of this country that need to be maintained and managed.

Second, it seems like my appeals are falling on deaf ears. I implore those patriotic Americans that would probably vote for Donald Trump in November, I appeal to them not to vote for hatred, not to vote for fear mongering. Vote for unity. Vote for the goodness of this country. Vote for liberty and freedom. So, my appeal now is to the folks that are going to be thinking to vote for Trump.

CHUCK TODD:

You said to me off camera that a lot of Republicans have reached out to you in the last couple of days. Tell me about those conversations.

KHIZR KHAN:

Both of us, Mrs. Khan and I, have had such a pouring of love and affection and support from all ranks of this society. Several emails, these are distinguished Republicans, they say, "All of their lives we have voted Republican. Not in this election." They said, "You have touched our hearts. We've had these words and these thoughts and feelings in our hearts. But we want you to know that we will not vote Republican in this election.

CHUCK TODD:

Has any elected Republican leader reached out to you?

KHIZR KHAN:

I'd rather not disclose the names. That is a personal trust and faith that they have placed by writing to me, by speaking with me. But there are almost 1/3 of the emails and the documents and the calls and the messages that we continue to receive, the flowers we continue to receive at our home, people are coming in, strangers on the street.

This morning, I was coming to you. And I stepped out the door of the hotel. And two persons came and gave me a hug. I don't know them. And they said, "You have done something that our heart always had. You have given words to it."

CHUCK TODD:

Mr. Khan, thanks for coming in and sharing your story.

KHIZR KHAN:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

I appreciate it. This can't be easy, to have to relive this 10 years later.

KHIZR KHAN:

Thank you.

CHUCK TODD:

Thank you.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Joining me now is the campaign manager for Hillary Clinton, Robby Mook, Mr. Mook, welcome to Meet the Press, sir.

ROBBY MOOK:

Hi, Chuck, thanks.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to start with the news over the weekend involving your campaign and apparently some version of a hack either into your campaign systems or the DNC, a continuation of it, what can you clarify? Have the Hillary Clinton campaign computers been hacked?

ROBBY MOOK:

Well, Chuck, as we've explained in the press, the campaign itself, based on everything we've been told by the experts that are monitoring this for us constantly, the campaign itself, to our knowledge, has not been, uh, has not been breached. The system that you were mentioning is a system run by the DNC that our campaign and a number of other entities were utilizing.

CHUCK TODD:

What kind of concern should voters have if the DNC and by extension, the Clinton campaign, can't protect data?

ROBBY MOOK:

Well, Chuck, first of all, as I said, you know, there's absolutely no evidence that the campaign has been breached. I know that the DNC is taking all necessary steps to protect their data and our campaign will continue to do the same. I think what's very disturbing about this entire situation is first, that there's a foreign power aggressively breaking into data systems, trying to apparently influence the outcome of the campaign.

But then, we saw the other day that Donald Trump made comments actually encouraging more of this behavior, more espionage in the race. So I think every voter needs to take note of this and I find it very frightening that any Presidential campaign for any reason is encouraging this kind of behavior. That's not becoming of someone who is trying to become our Commander-in-Chief and President of the United States.

CHUCK TODD:

You heard Mr. Manafort, though. I mean, number one, the campaign has since said he was being sarcastic. Do you take him at his word on that? And second, Mr. Manafort says that the issue here is is where are the 33,000 emails? How do you respond?

ROBBY MOOK:

Well, first of all, Chuck, Trump only said that this was a joke after he came under enormous criticism and pressure for what he said. So I'm not quite sure how credible that is. But look, he is running to be President of the United States, the person in charge of all of our Armed Forces, the person in charge of our entire national security apparatus.

Espionage is never a laughing matter. And in fact, this is not a political issue. I don't want to get this confused with the back and forth we might have about economic issues or anything else. This is a matter of national security now. And I find it very frightening that Donald Trump is encouraging any foreign power to breach a campaign and try to influence the outcome of the election.

CHUCK TODD:

But let me ask you about the 33,000 emails or the emails that were deleted, that obviously Secretary Clinton says were deleted, they were thought to have no relevance at all to the State Department. If there is a way to release them, would the Clinton campaign encourage the public release of those emails?

ROBBY MOOK:

Well, look, Chuck, this is settled and over now. Secretary Clinton went in and testified for 11 hours in front of a Congressional committee. They asked her a lot of questions about this, they came up with nothing. The F.B.I. has concluded their look at this issue. And so, we're moving on.

When Hillary's been out there on her economic tour the last few days talking with voters, they're asking her about how they can afford college and get a better job. And that's what we're going to stay focused on.

CHUCK TODD:

I understand that. But if you can release them, do you want them released?

ROBBY MOOK:

It's just not a relevant discussion anymore. This matter has been concluded. Many officials have taken a long look at this and we're just moving forward.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, so you're not taking a position on whether you want to see these emails released?

ROBBY MOOK:

It's just not a relevant question anymore because this matter has been concluded and you're asking about hypothetical emails that may or may not be there. And so, we're just going to stay focused as a campaign on other things that the voters are actually asking us about.

CHUCK TODD:

I want to talk about the influence of Bernie Sanders on this campaign and I want to play with you, play for you excerpts from Bernie Sanders, essentially, his first big speech after announcing for President, juxtaposed against the acceptance speech on Thursday night. Here it is and I want to get your reaction on the other side.

(BEGIN TAPE)

BERNIE SANDERS:

99 percent of all new income goes to the top 1 percent.

HILLARY CLINTON:

But when more than 90 percent of the gains have gone to the top 1 percent, that's where the money is. And we are going to follow the money.

BERNIE SANDERS:

The wealthiest individuals and the largest corporations, that they are going to begin to start paying their fair share of taxes.

HILLARY CLINTON:

Wall Street, corporations and the super rich are going to start paying their fair share of taxes.

BERNIE SANDERS:

Make tuition in public colleges and universities free.

HILLARY CLINTON:

Make college tuition for the middle-class and debt-free for all.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

Is it fair to say Bernie Sanders' campaign had a big chunk of influence on your acceptance speech?

ROBBY MOOK:

Well, the-- I think the college affordability plan that she mentioned in there, that was something that she and Senator Sanders worked together on after the primary had concluded. We're really proud of that plan. It's something that was part of our platform.

There were a number of issues where they worked together on the platform. But I actually wish we could have played some of Secretary Clinton's earlier speeches, as well, because she's been talking about how the deck is stacked against the middle-class for some time, that the wealthiest Americans are not paying their fair share. And that we need to start giving working people a fair shot again. In fact, that's what she's talking about. That's what she was talking about yesterday, that's what she was going to be talking about today on this economic tour that she's doing in Pennsylvania and Ohio with Senator Kaine. They're talking about how they're going to create more good paying jobs for working class people and get wages rising again.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, Robby Mook, I gotta leave it there. Joining us from the Clinton campaign headquarters in Brooklyn, Bobby, thanks for getting up early, I appreciate it.

ROBBY MOOK:

Thanks so much.

CHUCK TODD:

When we come back, we'll go over all of this with our panel. The conventions would be enough, the thing about everything that's already happened post convention. And later, is Russia trying to manipulate the Presidential election by hacking Democratic Party computers? I'm going to talk to WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Our panel is here with us, Alex Castellanos, who is now advising Donald Trump's Super PAC, Hallie Jackson of NBC News, who covers much of the Republican side of this race, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and historian, Doris Kearns Goodwin and New York Times columnist, David Brooks. Well, where to begin? David Brooks, I just want to get your reaction. Let's start with the Khizr Khan.

DAVID BROOKS:

You know, I've been on this program a lot, I've been frequently disturbed by what Donald Trump has said, but I've never felt as nauseated as I was as when I saw his comments about Mrs. Khan. Disgust doesn't begin to cover the range of emotions. I felt and I think a lot of people have felt that it stems from a lack of empathy, a lack of respect, a lack of basic decency. And I wonder what this morale pygmy on top of a ticket what's doing to the country and what will do as President. And I have to say, when I see Paul Manafort on the program issuing a regret, it didn't strike me as an emotion, it just struck me as a word.

CHUCK TODD:

Alex? I gotta get you to respond to this.

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

Well, sure, I'm not sure I'm even worthy of talking about the sacrifices families made for their country. God bless them. And they deserve our respect and sorrow and appreciation. I think there's an issue that is worth talking about here and that is when you look at Angela Merkel in Germany, she's about to get thrown out of office because of unfiltered immigration from the part of the world where identity and security has been compromised.

And I think Trump has a legitimate point to make there that he should do something about that and that's the argument in this election. The status quo, more of what's going on now, you know, basically letting that happen unfiltered or doing something about it. I think there are, perhaps, clearer ways to make that point.

HALLIE JACKSON:

But Alex, I listened to the words coming out of your mouth, especially in the beginning when you expressed sympathy for the family and I think there are a lot of people, including many Republicans who wonder, "Why didn't Donald Trump say that initially and immediately?"

One thing, you know, I talked to a Trump loyalist who said to me in the last 24 hours, "I think in two weeks, people aren't going to remember Khizr Khan's name." I think a lot of other people disagree with that because I've heard the name Judge Curiel brought up multiple times, that this is something that feels as impactful to Republicans as that moment did to Donald Trump two months ago.

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

I think it's moments like that that the Republicans and everyone's going to remember, but people also are going to remember a State Department under Hillary Clinton that ignored requests for security in Benghazi and debated what uniforms people should wear while people were left alone to suffer and eventually die, you know? So I think there are arguments here. I mean, to see Hillary Clinton portrayed as the candidate of moral clarity and honesty here, I noticed Mr. Khan didn't go that far as to embrace her.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

You know what, Alex? I do think this is a moment that will be remembered. I think it's almost a moment like using your word "decency," when Joe Welsh said to Joe McCarthy, "Have you no decency?" Somehow, you have a powerful story told by a man and the candidate somehow is able to look at the wife and say, "Why didn't she say anything? Was she told not to say anything?" I had a son in combat almost the same time as this young soldier was killed. I don't know what I'd be able to do if he had been lost and I'm standing there behind his picture. How you can assume that that kind of temperamental quality is going to be able to understand other people's points of view-- I think he stood as a symbol of pride for Muslim-Americans.

I've always predicted "a bridge too far" when he said that John McCain wasn't a hero, I thought that was it. So maybe everything's topsy turvy this year, but I agree with David. Elections are topsy turvy, this is going to make a difference.

CHUCK TODD:

Trump talked about temperament just last week, let me play a clip.

(BEGIN TAPE)

DONALD TRUMP:

I think I have the best temperament, it's certainly one of the best temperaments of anybody that's ever run for the office of President, ever. Because I have a winning temperament, I know how to win, because my whole life, I've been winning.

(END TAPE)

CHUCK TODD:

David, you wanted to respond.

DAVID BROOKS:

Let me first, one final point, this wasn't just a comment about Mr. Khan, this is a campaign based on bigotry. His campaign took off after San Bernardino when he talked about banning Muslims from coming here, and we just saw the face of some Muslims and that's the reality. As for the temperament, I don't know what temperament means. I know the guy can't control his attention span.

Attention is the ultimate act of self control and his mind just goes bing, bing, bing, bing, bing to one thing after another and it's just a dangerous prospect in a President to have somebody who just can't control what's going to come out of his mouth in the next 30 seconds.

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

Donald Trump has not cost any American soldier his life. Hillary Clinton, State Department, request for security starting in June of 2011 said, "Please withdraw these requests because they make us look bad." That actually had concrete results. And by the way, if Islam were only a religion, then I think there's no single American in this country who said we should discriminate against that religion.

But Islam is, as the King of Jordan has said, at war with itself. There is no separation of church and state within Islam. How do we treat something new like this? It is theocracy, which is antithetical to democracy. Do we let our openness be used to undermine our openness? And tolerance against our tolerance. These are issues we should debate and debating them is not being discriminatory.

CHUCK TODD:

We are going to have more time I promise in this show, but I do need to sneak in a quick commercial break. Coming up, I do ask WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, why he's trying -- why it appears to be that he's trying to undermine Hillary Clinton's Campaign. Be right back.

****COMMERCIAL BREAK****

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back. There really is nothing new about the U.S. and Russia spying on each other. Decades of Cold War era movies and books couldn't have existed without the idea of U.S.-Soviet espionage. Look at "The Americans." But what appears to be Russia's attempt to expose Democratic Party emails and sabotage Hillary Clinton's campaign does seem entirely new.

And it's already claimed one victim, former Democratic Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. And WikiLeaks is promising there's more to come. Joining me now is the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, who comes from the Embassy of Ecuador in London. He is currently facing extradition to Sweden.

Let me start with the WikiLeaks core mission, in the service that you have wanted it to perform, to speak truth to power. Are you concerned that if foreign government uses your entity that you have now seen WikiLeaks get weaponized?

JULIAN ASSANGE:

Well, James Clapper on Friday, the head of U.S. intelligence, the D.N.I., said there's been a lot of hyperventilation in the press, and that it was impossible even to ascribe motive at this stage, let alone who it is.I'll give the exact quote: "We don't know enough to ascribe motivation regardless of who it might have been." So hyperventilation always becomes James Clapper. So, that's where we're starting in terms of U.S. intelligence.

Now, I think it's extremely interesting, however, the Clinton campaign, in order to divert attention from proof that we published that the Sanders campaign was subverted within the D.N.C., not simply comments within the D.N.C., but a chain of command issuing orders to push around, without attribution, fake stories showing that Sanders supporters were violent amongst numerous other matters. That has been pushed out before the public. And response, what does the Clinton campaign do? The Clinton campaign tries to take attention away from a very serious domestic allegation about election interference and try and bring in foreign policy.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, the easiest way, Mr. Assange, the easiest way to clear this up--

JULIAN ASSANGE:

So-- so concerning is that even to the head of the D.N.I., the Clinton campaign is pulling the government, pulling the state of politics along with it, to create an international conflict.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, let me ask you this, though. This is unusual, but--

JULIAN ASSANGE:

--I have to come out and explain.

CHUCK TODD:

I understand that, but the easiest way to clear this up, Mr. Assange, would you be able to say categorically that a foreign government did not hand you this material? The issue at hand here is the idea that a foreign government is using you as a go-between, is using WikiLeaks.

This is no longer about accountability on public figures. This is one foreign government going after another foreign government, using you as the intermediary. That seems to be a different deal than, for instance, a whistleblower handing material over to expose government authoritarianism or something like that.

JULIAN ASSANGE:

What I can say categorically is that we have published proof that the election campaign of Bernie Sanders was sabotaged in a corrupt manner by Debbie Wasserman Schultz and others within the D.N.C. We can say that categorically. We have published proof. But as for anything else, we can only speculate. I do think it's an interesting question, of course, as to who our sources are. But as a source protection organization, that many sources from across the world of many different types rely on to protect their identity, and their rights, to communicate the truth to the public. And that's what we're talking about here, communicating the truth.

CHUCK TODD:

I totally understand that. But doesn't-- I've got to ask you, though, when a foreign government gets involved, there is a difference there. When a foreign government gets involved, you just said yourself, "Well, that's an interesting question." Transparency on WikiLeaks: why not be fully transparent and say, "Look, here's the material." Where it comes from doesn't change the facts in the material. But it is helpful to know if a foreign government is involved, isn't that crucial information to civilians?

JULIAN ASSANGE:

I think that is an interesting question. The difficulty that WikiLeaks has, of course, is that we can't go around speculating on who our sources are. That would be irresponsible.

CHUCK TODD:

But you can't speculate. You know the answer, well Mr. Assange. Mr. Assange, you say you can't go around speculating. Do you not know the answer?

JULIAN ASSANGE:

We don't give any material away as to who our sources are. It's a security matter for us as to who our sources are. We have a perfect track record--

CHUCK TODD:

Okay, but let me ask you this. Do you accept--

JULIAN ASSANGE:

--completely accurate information on the one hand, and on the other hand of never revealing our sources.

CHUCK TODD:

All right. Let me ask you this. Do you, without revealing your source on this, do you accept information and leaked documents from foreign governments?

JULIAN ASSANGE:

Well, our publishing model means that what we publish is guaranteed to be true. That's what we're concerned about. That's what our readers are concerned about. That's the right of the general public, to not--

CHUCK TODD:

But isn't the right of the public to know the motive also, to know the motive of the maker?

JULIAN ASSANGE:

--very serious true information, which is producing great investigative journalism in the United States, and is continuing to do so as each day passes by. But I think the real question is what is the legitimacy now and what is the accountability of what has occurred within the Democratic campaign, where we have clear proof of sabotage?

It's already seen one head resign. Our sources within the D.N.C. say that they believe more heads are going to roll. But what about the election? What's a regress for the people that have effectively, one could argue, have had a candidate stolen from them as a result of corrupt practices within the D.N.C.?

CHUCK TODD:

Does that not trouble you at all, if a foreign government is trying to meddle in the affairs of another foreign government?

JULIAN ASSANGE:

Well, it's an interesting speculative question that's for the press and others to perhaps--

CHUCK TODD:

That doesn't bother you? That is not part of the WikiLeaks credo?

JULIAN ASSANGE:

Well, it's a meta story. If you're asking would we accept information from U.S. intelligence that we had verified to be completely accurate, and would we publish that, and would we protect our sources in U.S. intelligence, the answer is yes, of course we would.

CHUCK TODD:

Mr. Assange, I'm going to leave it there. I appreciate your time and you coming on Meet the Press this morning.

JULIAN ASSANGE:

Thank you, Chuck.

CHUCK TODD:

You got it. And in the spirit of WikiLeaks transparency and our own, we will post the full, unedited interview-- as we do for all of our interviews-- on our website MeetThePressNBC.com. Coming up, how Donald Trump can lose three hugely important states, Virginia, North Carolina, and Florida, and still win the election.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK**

CHUCK TODD:

Welcome back, To tee up our discussion coming up, I want to take a look at the election map and why the industrial Midwest is so crucial to Donald Trump. Let's start with the NBC News Battleground Map as it stands right now. We have Hillary Clinton leading with a total of 256 electoral votes-- that combine states that are solid or leading her way.

Donald Trump is leading in states that add up to 191 electoral votes. It leaves just five states in the quote/unquote "gray area." Well, let's give her Florida, and polls have Clinton leading in four other swing states, as well. So for the sake of argument, give them to her, Colorado, Virginia, North Carolina, plus Florida. That's another 37 electoral votes and puts her at 293 electoral votes if all those go. Game over, right? Well, not necessarily. If Trump does have a rust belt strategy that works and he scores in the industrial Midwest, watch what happens when you give him Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin.

Throw in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, also with some blue collar voters in it, and it would get Trump to 271 electoral votes, one more than he needs. And he does it without winning Florida. Look, it's a narrow inside strait, and this assumes that Trump doesn't lose any other red states, like Georgia, Arizona or even Utah, but the point is it can be done. It means we have a race. We'll be back in just a moment.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Back now with our panel, I want to discuss the electoral map. But in the middle of the show, we do tape 9a.m. Eastern, just to let folks now. So at 9:32 a.m. Eastern time, Donald Trump Tweeted the following about Mr. Khan: "I was viciously attacked by Mr. Khan at the Democratic Convention, am I not allowed to respond? Hillary voted for the Iraq War, not me."

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

I mean, once again, it shows the question of temperament. When he says that "I have a winning temperament because I've won my whole life," he doesn't understand what temperament is. Our greatest leaders have succeeded because they learned from failure and they learned from loss. Abraham Lincoln was nearly suicidal and he persevered and came back.

Trump would probably call him weak for almost giving up. FDR lost his ability to walk and he came back with greater empathy and understanding for people for whom fate had dealt an unkind hand. You learn from making mistakes. You manage negative emotions, as you said. You learn somehow to listen, you have empathy for people. That's qualities that make up temperament. So I think this race is about temperament. I absolutely do.

CHUCK TODD:

Alex, I have to get you in on this.

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

Well, I think this is an election that maybe it's a choice between temperament and character. You know, is it a New Testament election where things are going swimmingly and we turn the other cheek? Or is this an Old Testament election where we could lose it all and an eye for an eye?

So I think, yes, there are a lot of questions here about temperament, but character and strength are important here, too. And you know, we're in Washington, we're the protected class, we're going to survive this election without disturbance, no matter what, right?

But that's not true for the rest of America. This is an existential choice for a lot of families. So you know, I think we ought to have a little bit more, its-- temperament can be a little aggressive sometimes, sure. But you need strength to hold the country together and get us out of the ditch here.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

HALLIE JACKSON:

What strikes me about that Tweet, is not-- he says, "Am I not allowed to respond?" It's not that you're not not allowed to respond, it's that you don't have to respond to all of it. And sometimes it feels as though Donald Trump is taking-- sort of the Democrats or maybe Hillary Clinton are putting things out there and he's taking the bait and responding.

CHUCK TODD:

Oh, they're clearly baiting him--

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

We've learned that there's no reverse gear on his car. He's about going forward.

CHUCK TODD:

They clearly bait him and he does take the bait.

DAVID BROOKS:

Yeah, I don't think we're in New Testament or Old Testament, we're like in Dante's Inferno, we're in the seventh circle of Hell, where he needs us to--

CHUCK TODD:

You both are frightening me. These religious references--

DAVID BROOKS:

There was some basic decency in the Old Testament. He needs, for him to have any chance of winning and you showed a map earlier, I happen to think the maps matter less this year.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, I think you may be right.

DAVID BROOKS:

Because we're not playing by the normal rules of politics. By the normal rules, he's crushed. But we may not be playing baseball anymore. The violence in the world may have created a vortex where none of those rules apply. And frankly, I think his chance of winning, which he does have, obviously, is if there's an unleashing of ISIS attackers drum beat after drum beat after drum beat and he says, "You can't afford gentleness, you can't afford decency." And frankly, Hillary Clinton did not preempt that at her convention.

CHUCK TODD:

You know, it's funny, Hallie, when I was thinking about this Khan thing and thinking about the two responses and hearing Manafort, it really is macro/micro, right? In the individual, this seems totally nuts, the way he responds to these things, but he sticks to this macro argument of insecurity.

HALLIE JACKSON:

And it resonates with people when you go out on the campaign trail, when you're at these rallies where he's doubling down on all of the comments that he's made. People are responding to it. And I think that that is sometimes difficult to see when you're back in Washington or you're in New York and is when you get out in places like Cedar Rapids or Davenport or Colorado Springs, where we were. I was in Scranton with him this week. People were going nuts for him still. And granted, these are his supporters, these are people that make up his base, but it's different feeling. It feels different when you're out there.

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

That's what we miss I think in Washington sometimes, is the urgency of the moment. It doesn't seem urgent for us from the political class. But for a lot of America, they see a country facing decline and they think, "This may be our last chance to do something about it."

CHUCK TODD:

You know, Doris, if there was one thing, I thought Donald Trump's speech felt darker than I feel like America is, and sometimes there were times that Hillary Clinton's speech felt more optimistic than where we are in America. I mean, it did feel as if they both exaggerated points. Now that's a political campaign, that's what you do. What is it? And what's the public saying?

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

You know, I mean, I think somewhere in the middle of those two points is where the country is. I mean, the country still feels, I bet most people do, that we're the greatest country in the world. I agree with that, in which Hillary said. But there's lots of problems. And the problems with that middle-class struggling have been going on for decades and decades.

The problems with globalization, the feeling that they don't have a decent job, that they're struggling for their kids. And I don't think either party has answered those problems for a while. So that group is out there, ready to be angry, ready to be listened to. And it's going to be the Democratic challenge to somehow really talk to them not just in policy, but in emotional terms.

CHUCK TODD:

Well, that's what Bernie did, talked to them a little more emotionally.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

Bernie did talk to them emotionally. Trump is connecting emotionally, the Democrats are connecting politically.

DAVID BROOKS:

Can I just say that there are two countries here, with one feeling extreme pain. There's opiate addiction all around, there's a sense of hopelessness. There's a basic severance, "If I do this, then I get that," and that basic sense of responsibility has been severed. I was totally struck by how both conventions featured probably 20 or 30 grieving parents, both of them.

CHUCK TODD:

Yeah.

DAVID BROOKS:

And that's something I do not remember from past conventions, but that's the sense of loss crystallized that a lot of people feel.

CHUCK TODD:

All right, let me sneak in one last quick break. 45 seconds. We'll talk "End Game" and we'll sneak the battleground map in. We'll be right back.

***COMMERCIAL BREAK***

CHUCK TODD:

Back now with "End Game," we're lamenting the fact that we're running out of time. This map here, we do have-- Alex, you're running a Super PAC that is only running ads in three states.

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

Yeah.

CHUCK TODD:

I have to say, by conventional means--

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

Makes no sense?

CHUCK TODD:

--this makes no sense, yes. And we are headed into August and what feels like Donald Trump's about to experience the John Kerry 2004 August, which is basically no advertising versus an incumbent party unleashing the world on them.

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

Well, we hope to repair that and we hope to remain competitive. I mean, Hillary Clinton's PAC is supposed to spend $250 million in these swing states. But yes, we're in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida and--

CHUCK TODD:

And that's it, those are the only three?

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

--I think those are the states that count. If Donald Trump is competitive in those states, he has a shot at winning this election.

CHUCK TODD:

Woah, woah, woah. Competitive? You have to win all three, in your mind.

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

I think he has to win all three. And I think, also, because Tim Kaine is going to take Virginia, I think, make that very difficult, it's going to bring--

CHUCK TODD:

You think that's off the table?

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

I think it's going to be very tough now. I think that brings North Carolina into play.

CHUCK TODD:

So your final four that you care about?

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

That's what you want to keep an eye on in this election.

CHUCK TODD:

Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida and North Carolina.

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

Yeah.

HALLIE JACKSON:

I'm not sure that the onslaught of advertising in August is going to make that much of a difference right now moving the needle. Remember, the conventions are earlier than they've been. You've got the Olympics coming up that start very soon. I don't know that the American public is tuning in and paying attention.

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

More respect for advertising, please, we need more TV ads.

CHUCK TODD:

Look, it goes to your point, David, this doesn't feel like a conventional campaign. It actually doesn't even feel like, "Oh, let's target the state-by-state." This feels like a nationalized campaign in a way we've never seen.

DAVID BROOKS:

Yeah, and it's about national mood. That's why Trump is here, that's why Bernie Sanders was here. And frankly, if you're trying to win Pennsylvania, like, these are long shots. These are like-, Steph Curry doesn't take these shots--

ALEX CASTELLANOS:

Not so much. Pennsylvania is like Ohio this year. Trump has rearranged the map. You know, this is the angry working class guy election. And one of the questions we've had is, "Is the angry white guy, is that a stronger component of this election than the hopeful--"

CHUCK TODD:

And, Doris, the maps are always the same until they're not.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

Right.

CHUCK TODD:

Meaning an election --You know, we swear to God this is the map until we have an election that upends it.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

But you know what saddens me about the map? When you look at the huge number of states that are reliably Republican, reliably Democrat and we're just talking about a few number of states-- why are we so polarized? Because people are living next to people who believe the same thing they do. They're geographically, one part of the country is one way, the other is the other. That's not good for our country, which needs a collective sense of experience.

CHUCK TODD:

And it may be why we don't even understand the experience that the other is having.

DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN:

Absolutely.

CHUCK TODD:

Anyway, that's a perfect way to end this show. Sorry we don't have an extra 30, 40, 50 minutes because I think we could have used it. That's all for today. We'll be back next week because if it's Sunday, it's Meet the Press.

***END OF TRANSCRIPT***