The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 06/01/15

Stuart Milk, Perez Hilton, Marci Bowers, Maureen Morrissey, Wade Davis, Al Franken

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: That does it for us tonight, we will see you again
tomorrow, now it`s time for THE LAST WORD, Ari Melber sitting in for
Lawrence tonight, good evening Ari.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC: Good evening, thank you Rachel for –

MADDOW: Thanks –

MELBER: For what you said and thank you very much.

MADDOW: Cheers.

MELBER: We are talking about some of the same story. Americans met him as
a gold medal Olympian, he was a national hero, an international celebrity
and now he`s transitioned from Bruce Jenner, the ultimate role model with
his own Wheaties box, to a woman named Caitlyn Jenner, taking a star turn
on the cover of “Vanity Fair”.

Jenner is nothing if not tenaciously competitive, we know that. And now,
she says her newest challenge is moving the public to accept her true
identity and maybe building acceptance for a lot of other people along the

The whole nation is talking about this magazine cover tonight. And today,
“Vanity Fair” released this intimate video showing some of how it was made.


because I was running away from a lot of things. Very proud of the
accomplishment, I`m not – I don`t want to diminish that accomplishment.

The last few days of doing this shoot was about my life and who I am as a
person. It`s not about the fanfare, it`s not about people cheering in the
stadium, it`s not about going down the street and everybody giving you
attaboy Bruce, pat on the back, OK?

This is about your life. Bruce always had to tell a lie. He was always
living that lie. Every day, he always had a secret, from morning until

Caitlyn doesn`t have any secrets, as soon as the “Vanity Fair” cover comes
out, I`m free.


MELBER: That is really something. And a lot of people have been watching.
There has been tremendous interest in meeting the new free Caitlyn today.

She joined Twitter and within hours this afternoon broke the record for the
fastest person to hit a million followers on that site.

She just noted that milestone by sending out a new message saying, “another
Jenner world record and at 65, who would have thought?

Thank you for your support.” And Jenner took that record from President
Obama and she happened to hear from him today as well.

His account posting a message linking to Caitlyn Jenner, that read simply,
“it takes courage to share your story.”

In that new article, Jenner explains, it`s a story she struggled to tell
for decades, and reaching this point was essential to her growth, not a bid
for attention.

“I`m not doing this to be interesting”, she says, “I`m doing this to live.”
Tonight, many are debating whether Jenner`s choice will open space for
others to live as well.

Let`s get right to it, joining us now is Perez Hilton, celebrity blogger
and creator of, Stuart Milk, LGBT activist and President of
the Harvey Milk Foundation.

And Dr. Marci Bowers is a surgeon and an expert in transgender healthcare,
good evening to all of you. I`m excited to have this conversation.

A lot of times in the news we talk about very familiar things, this, for
many people, it`s a new thing, Stuart, let me start with you. What does
this mean to people within Caitlyn`s community and to the rest of America?

ACTIVIST: Well, I mean, it`s visibility.

And visibility and telling a story and knowing the process that someone
went through to their own self acceptance and being able to remove that
mask is very powerful.

It harkens back to my uncle`s old message of that you must be authentic,
you must remove those masks. But it has many different elements to this.

So, you know, Caitlyn looks absolutely amazing, you could sense in the
article the confidence and the freedom.

And it`s something that many people who are LGBT, but people who are
different, different than the mainstream feel all the time.

Freedom to be themselves. Freedom to not have to put a gender that they
didn`t feel they were born with on or to live a certain way that didn`t
conform to society.

So, you know, this is a – very important and it is a historic moment
because it moves us forward. But I do think we have to remember that there
are all kinds of societal norms around the world.

And so for my transgender brothers and sisters, in particular globally, but
even here in the United States, there`s still a tremendous battle ahead.

And so, this is one step in a direction of visibility which does change the

MELBER: Well, Stuart, I think you put your finger on it. We ask people to
be authentic, to be honest, but we live in a culture that so punishes many
of those values if expressed.

It is the ultimate dilemma for people in these situations. I want to play
a little more from – now Caitlyn Jenner as she was speaking to Diane
Sawyer about this and about lies. Take a listen.


JENNER: Bruce, always telling a lie. He`s lived a lie his whole life
about who he is. And I can`t do that any longer – so, can I take my
ponytail out? Yes, why not? We`re talking about all this stuff.


MELBER: What did you think of that moment, Perez, in taking the ponytail

PEREZ HILTON, BLOGGER: I mean, I was so moved by that like today, and by
earlier this evening, I went to a benefit for a gliss(ph) in the gay,
lesbian, straight education network.

And a quote they said there tonight really resonated with me. Studies show
that the turmoil of keeping a secret for young LGBT students in schools is
worse than any outside harassment they might fear.

So Bruce Jenner has dealt with this his whole life. And in the `80s, he
tried to transition, he`s been struggling with this forever. And now
today, it`s not just visibility, but it`s also opening minds and hearts.

And I experienced this firsthand at the gym talking to some guys there that
were making fun of Bruce Jenner. It`s a really –

MELBER: What were they –

HILTON: Timely –

MELBER: What were they saying?

HILTON: Well, first, they were showing around the photo to other people at
the gym not saying it was Bruce Jenner or Caitlyn Jenner, and then they
were revealing – oh, this is Bruce Jenner, and the people were like – the
reactions weren`t accepting.

But you know, today is the watershed moment. Today is like in the `90s
when Ellen DeGeneres came out and said I`m a lesbian. Now everybody has
seen Bruce, and now everybody knows Caitlyn as well.

MELBER: And Dr. Bowers, speak tonight –


MELBER: And I want to read from Caitlyn Jenner in the article saying, “I
was terrified of being discovered earlier on in the `80s.” “She was not at
a point in her life where she said she was comfortable with herself.”

“I don`t want to be this way, was the bottom line”, she says. “Who would
want to be dealing with all these issues?” From a medical standpoint, how
are people supposed to navigate that?

BOWERS: Well, I think it`s important for the public to know that this
isn`t something that is a decision that`s made willingly.

And Caitlyn points this out throughout her story, is that, you know, this
is something that she`s struggled with.

And previously we thought of it as a psychological issue, but we know now
with its onset being so very early in life for the vast majority of people,
that it`s something that`s clearly biological.

It`s hard wired and it`s who we are.

MELBER: How do we know –

BOWERS: I think –

MELBER: It`s biological –

BOWERS: With –

MELBER: In that sense?

BOWERS: No, go ahead, I`m sorry.

MELBER: How do we know that it`s biological in that sense, doctor?

BOWERS: Well, it`s mostly – it`s empirical evidence, but there are also
some hard measures, brain scans that show that transgender persons look
like their cisgender in counterparts.

In other words, they look like the people they aspire to be in terms of
their gender. So their brains look similar.

But beyond that, the empirical evidence, and you see this in these young
children, is that they`ve felt this way their entire lives.

They come out, you know, shortly after birth and they say to their parents,
mommy, I`m a boy, or daddy, I`m a girl. And despite not having matching

And they`re very convinced of this. It – and it doesn`t go away. So in
spite of efforts to normalize and put people in very neat gender boxes,
male or female, it`s very difficult to do this.

And after all, in nature, where – but in gender are there only two

MELBER: Stuart, speak to that, what Dr. Bowers is calling putting people
in boxes. Because there is that element of this, when we look at social
change, and interestingly, Buzz Bissinger who wrote this article everyone
is talking about, says look, this is the most remarkable story I have ever
worked on in 38 years as a journalist.

It was initially weird, and anyone who says it isn`t weird is giving
themselves far too much credit. Do you agree?

MILK: Well, you know, this is – this is one of the LGBT community`s
biggest challenges, which is to embrace the courage of our trans brothers
and sisters and when they do make that decision.

But to be perfectly honest, this has been, you know, for Caitlyn a half
century process, and it`s different for all of our trans brothers and

And you know, Caitlyn was in the public eye, so that presents both
opportunities and challenges, but we have a lot of – we have the most of
our trans brothers and sisters who are not in the public eye.

Don`t have the resources economically to necessarily do the procedures and
the process to transition. So we have a lot of those challenges going on.

So there is a box, and not everyone is going to meet the standard of a
gender identity when they transition. So, I have trans brothers and
sisters around the world, they all look different –

MELBER: Right –

MILK: They`re all beautiful to me, but I think that the important thing is
that –

MELBER: Right –

MILK: We have to get to the point where we accept the differences that
people have and embrace that and nourish that from a young age.

MELBER: And Dr. Bowers –

BOWERS: Well, that`s very – that`s very true, but I think that the issue
really is that, we punish male-born persons who show femininity far worse
than we do females who show masculinity.

And that comes out time and again throughout Caitlyn`s story and those who
feel weird about it in any way.

MELBER: And Dr. Bowers, can you –


I want to ask Dr. Bowers though if you can hear me –

BOWERS: Male being feminine is just not –

MELBER: Dr. Bowers –

BOWERS: People don`t –

MELBER: Can you –

BOWERS: Just get it –

MELBER: Speak specifically though for folks who do want to learn about
this, about the point Stuart was referring to.

Which is, it`s not a light switch that turns off and on, and it`s not
determined solely by whether someone has a certain physical operation.

BOWERS: Well, that`s true. I mean, a surgery does not make the individual
male or female. And I – and I point out that, if you think about it, when
you pass a stranger on the street – when is the last – when is the last
time you knew with 100 percent certainty what that person`s genitalia
looked like?

And so, I mean in certain cases that may be true. But the fact is that, we
make assumptions about one another`s genitalia every single day.

MELBER: Dr. Marci Bowers and Stuart Milk, thank you so much for joining
us, very interesting to get your insights. Now, coming up, Caitlyn Jenner
had some major doubts about her transition.

We`re going to talk to the counseling agency that personally addressed her
concerns and discuss that other piece of this puzzle, how families and
communities react to these transitions.

Also tonight, a LAST WORD exclusive, Senator Al Franken talks about the
part of the Patriot Act reform bill that he wrote, and why even if he and
Rand Paul seem to be on the same side right now, he says they`re not on the
same page.

Then we have a look at Comedian Tracy Morgan`s first interview since the
crash that took his friend`s life and nearly ended his, it`s heartbreaking
and an inspiring glimpse of our “Nbc” colleague.


TRACY MORGAN, ACTOR & COMEDIAN: I love comedy and I wonder how I`m going
to be funny again – remembering my identity, what do I do? And the fans
let me know we can`t wait for you to come back.



MELBER: Well, the Pentagon holds its Pride Month event next week for gay
and lesbian service members, Sheri Swokowski will make history.

She served as an infantry colonel in the U.S. army, making her the highest-
ranking transgender veteran in the country.

And she`ll attend the Pentagon event wearing the infantry uniform she wore
as a male soldier. According to “The Huffington Post”, her message is that
transgender service members should be allowed to serve openly.

The U.S. military has banned transgender people from serving since the
1970s. There are 15,500 transgender military personnel currently serving
essentially in secret.

That`s according to a 2014 report from the Williams Institute. Now, up
next, the impact of one`s transgender transformation on those around them.


their life and feel like they`re in the wrong body or they`re completely
just unhappy in their soul.

I am OK with what`s happening, I just need a moment to like – I have to
transition as well.




BRANDON JENNER, SON OF CAITLYN JENNER: I saw a sense of bravery that is,
for all of your previous accomplishments, I think far exceeds all of them.
And I`m just honored and more proud than ever to be a part of the family.


MELBER: That was Brandon Jenner talking about his father just weeks before
the now infamous transition to Caitlyn Jenner. After 23 years of marriage,
Kris Jenner says that the transition has hit her like a death in the


was married to for all these years, that you know, you think you`re going
to grow old with somebody and they drastically change over the course of a
few years.

It`s like I have to mourn Bruce Jenner. I`m just – like I`m confused what
happens to Bruce, because I miss Bruce. I`ll never be able to really have
Bruce and all I have really is my memories.

You know, I look at the pictures of you and the kids and I get really sad
because I feel like you died. You know, Bruce died. And it`s really hard
for me to wrap my head around that.


MELBER: On “Keeping Up with the Kardashians”, Bruce talked candidly with
some of his daughters about why he chose to transition now.


JENNER: The greatest thing of my life I`ve ever done is raise my children.
You know, look at every one of you, successful, smart, intelligent.

You know, I am just so proud of all of you, it`s my greatest
accomplishment. I got everybody out of the nest, everybody is doing great,
I got to deal with myself.

The last thing in the world I want to do is hurt any one of you. That is
not my intention, maybe if I`m not honest because I`m afraid to talk to you
about this subject because I know it hurts, I understand that.

Am I doing it right, Khloe? You can never do this right, OK? There`s just -
- there`s no right way to do this.


MELBER: For more on the family and social challenge here, we are joined by
Maureen Morrissey, clinical services director for the Los Angeles Gender

Wade Davis, a former NFL athlete and an executive director of You Can Play,
an advocacy group for LGBT athletes specifically and Perez Hilton still
with us.

Welcome to you all, Maureen, let me start with you –

Right –

MELBER: And read just a little more from the “Vanity Fair” article we`ve
been discussing tonight.

Talks about Caitlyn having this panic attack lasting about 15 seconds. A
single thought continue to cross through her mind – what did I just do?
What did I just do to myself?

A counselor from the Los Angeles Gender Center came over to the house, so
Caitlyn could talk to someone with professional expertise.

The counselor helped ease her mind, she said such reactions were often
induced by pain medication and said such second-guessing was human and

Maureen, in a general sense, not looking at any specific case, how does
that type of counseling work and how does it help people who decide they
want to do this even with those kind of family pressures we just showed?

MORRISSEY: Well, as you said, I am speaking in general terms, I have not
counseled Caitlyn or her family. But I think the thing to realize is that,
it is a transition process for the transgender person and the family.

So, there is many emotional ups and downs for the transgender person who`s
been maybe dealing with this for decades. And when they finally come out,
there is usually a sense of relief.

But it doesn`t mean that they`re not in fear of losing their family or the
love and support of their family, or just – you know, just dealing with
how the world will respond to them.

So, I think having some doubts along the way could come up and just be a
very natural part of the process.

MELBER: Yes, and this is not any average family obviously, that`s part of
why there`s so much attention on it.

We`ve seen some of the public messages new today, Kim Kardashian tweeting
Caitlyn Jenner for “Vanity Fair” and (INAUDIBLE) the photographer, “how
beautiful, be happy, be proud, live life your way.”

Kourtney Kardashian tweeting, “freedom, stunning.” And Khloe Kardashian
tweeting, “we were given this life because you were strong enough to live
it, I couldn`t be prouder.”

And yet, Perez, when you look at the – some of the clips we just showed,
obviously, you can be supportive and still have to go through your own
difficulty as a family member.

HILTON: I mean, this is new for them, it`s new for Bruce as well. Like he
said, there is no textbook manual of how to come out as transgender

I mean even myself, I`m getting caught up because I`ve been so ingrained
and used to seeing Bruce, but now – today, we have a name, and like
Caitlyn said now, she is – she is free and it`s really just – it`s

MELBER: Wade, in your experience, does it matter much if somebody`s sort
of perceived original identity is further at odds or intentioned.

Because we`ve talked about how sports has been separate from transgender,
even for just gay athletes has been one of the last areas to really have
progress on this.

the big things that we have to kind of do is take a step back and re-
imagine what Caitlyn did right on.

I think that we`re using the language of coming out, but I actually think
that we should use the language of my friend Donna(ph) Moore and say that
Caitlyn is now inviting us in, right?

She is inviting us into her personal life, and it`s really beautiful to be
able to, you know, kind of re-imagine her. We`ve all known her as an
amazing athlete, an amazing parent and reality star.

But now we can get to know the intimate sides of her. And I think you
know, that she`s our hero, and that she should be celebrated and her sports
accomplishments aren`t diminished at all.

MELBER: And – but Maureen, is it – is it – I guess what I`m partially
wondering or getting at is, is it almost easier for people who aren`t in
the family or the inner circle because then if you want to be tolerant and
open minded, you say great.

You want to change your name, you want to change your identity or go along
with it. It seems that there is a legitimate difficulty with people who
are family or friends.

If they say so, I want to play another clip here from “Keeping Up with the
Kardashians” which isn`t something we do on the news all that much, but
it`s relevant tonight.

Here with Khloe talking about her response, take a listen.


KARDASHIAN: I`m not mad at your process of you wanting to live your life,
I`m not. What I was mad about, is feeling like you were robbing me of like
having the opportunity to like let go of my – like on my own.

When you`re doing like your big serious surgery, you can`t just do that and
then I come over one day and –

JENNER: True –

KARDASHIAN: Bruce is gone. Like you can`t just take that away from us.
And that`s what I was mad about. It`s not that you`re doing it, I`m mad
that you weren`t telling us.


MELBER: What do you think of that, Maureen?

MORRISSEY: Well, I think that there`s been so many years where Caitlyn had
to pretend who she was. So there was many years of not being honest.

But now she is letting her family know the truth. But I think it`s really
difficult for a family or people who are close to a transgender person to
get used to the idea.

Initially, it`s shocking, and as I think of some of the kids and his ex-
wife said, there`s a feeling that – like almost like a death. But it
really – it does feel that way.

There`s a loss of the way you thought of the person and the – and the idea
of this person that you`re related to.

But fortunately with time, and it seems like it`s happened to – in the
case of Caitlyn`s family, they can come around and realize that the person
is still there.

They – they have lost the idea of what they had, but the real person is
there and hopefully they can have a closer and more deep relationship with
the authentic person that she is.

HILTON: Yes, I think the most important thing is compassion for everybody,
not just for Caitlyn, but also Kris Jenner.

I mean, what she is going through must be so hard, and you know, I`ve seen
people criticizing her on Twitter today for not commenting on the cover.

Who says she needs to? Like I said, I mean compassion is the key and
compassion for everybody.

MELBER: And Wade, what do you think of the sort of the discussion here
about honesty? I mean, it`s very hard to do a lot of compare and contrast,
but someone who might have a private lifestyle or choice of happening to be
gay seems a little different here than the transition process, right?

But at a bottom line, can people look at this and say that when you make
this choice, that doesn`t mean you`re automatically dishonest up to the
choice, right? If you`re living in a society that doesn`t necessarily
create the space for it, Wade?

DAVIS: Exactly. I would say that 90 percent of LGBT individuals will tell
you the reason why they weren`t open about their sexuality or their gender
identity is because the world wasn`t safe, right, you know.

Caitlyn, you know, I would imagine that if the world had to show her a
different side of it, right? If there wasn`t homophobe and sexism and
transphobia, it would have created the opportunities and the space for her
to own her identity much earlier.

And I think that, yes, what her family is experiencing is a form of an
actual death, right? So – and as Perez said then, a compassion is a two-
way street, right?

So, as much compassion as they`re showing Caitlyn, Caitlyn has to also show
that compassion back to her family and also to have time, right?

Time for healing, time for understanding, but also time to learn. I think
lastly, I would say that it`s not just Caitlyn`s responsibility to educate
the public or the – or the world, right?

It`s like there`s a burden of responsibility that we often place on
transgender people.

MELBER: I mean, yes, it`s fascinating and people want – people want to do
the right thing – are still learning. A lot of conversations clearly
around the country, all over the internet today.

Wade Davis, Maureen Morrissey, Perez Hilton here in the studio, thank you
all for joining us tonight.

And next, I`m going to go one-on-one with Senator Al Franken about what
happens now that part of the Patriot Act expired.

And I`m going to ask him about that growing Democratic field for 2016.


MELBER: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made a bet that if he let
the Patriot Act get this close to its deadline expiring for expiring then
the Senate would buckle under pressure and just pass it.

Politically, it`s not a crazy bet. That`s what happened in 2011 when the
Senate debated whether the Patriot Act went too far.

But when there was no deal for reform, Senate just extended it the night
before the deadline. A lot has changed though.


When it passed after 9/11, only one U.S. senator voted against the Patriot
Act, and only four opposed its renewal in 2006. By 2011, there were 23.

And, now, as of last night, there is a majority in both Houses that would
rather let the Patriot Act`s spine powers –


– expire than rush towards another renewal. Congress is moving towards
passing a bill to check the NSA`s power. The U.S.A. Freedom Act, which
ends the government`s secret database exposed by Edward Snowden and add
some privacy protection.

The bill`s authors come from very different places. The sponsors are
liberal senator, Pat Leahy, and Tea Party conservative, Mike Lee. And the
bill includes transparency rules drafted by progressive Senator Al

President Obama says he will sign this bill. Joining us for an exclusive
interview is one of the Freedom Acts authors, Senator Al Franken, a
Democrat from Minnesota who sits on the Judiciary Committee. Good evening.

SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: Good evening, Ari.

MELBER: So, senator, this has been an uphill battle. What changed.

FRANKEN: What changed in terms of this U.S.A. Freedom Act versus the
Patriot Act.

MELBER: Yes. And why you opposed renewing the Patriot Act at one point,
why, if so many colleagues of yours in the Senate come along to this view.

FRANKEN: Well, I opposed it because there was no transparency really. And
so, the American people have no way of judging whether there was a right
balance being struck between protecting people`s privacy, which is
obviously very important, and also making sure that our national security
was projective.

And that`s why I voted against these authorities in the first place. And
I, along with Dean Heller, a Republican from Nevada, put in transparency
provisions that will let Americans know how many people are caught up in
this data, how many people`s data has been taken.

But, very importantly, how much – how many Americans and how many people
have been looked at. And that is important.

Also we`ve released – lifted a gag order on companies like Google and
Verizon because they were losing business because they could not – they
weren`t allowed to say how many – how much of their information had been
asked for. And, now, they`ll be able to do that.

MELBER: Yes, a lot of what your language in the bill would do is basically
give us some kind of ballpark estimate. I mean, this isn`t super secret
security information.

It just says the number of people, as you say, whose info was collected,
the number of searches run on Americans already in these databases.

So, why do you think the NSA has resisted providing that. And do you have
any idea, Senator, of what the range could be. Are we talking tens of
thousands, hundreds of thousands?

TEXT: U.S.A. Freedom Act Franken Provisions requires the government to
report – # of FISA orders issued and # of targets, # of approvals whose
information was collected, # of searches run on Americans in certain
databases, # of searches for Americans` call records, # of national
security requests received/complied with, # of general categories of
information produced, # of customers whose information was produced.

FRANKEN: Oh, I think it will be much smaller number of people whose data
has been queried and looked at. It will be much smaller.

But in terms of how – you know, the phone companies now will be collecting
this data as they always have. And there`ll be much more narrow
authorities for the NSA, much more targeted to get that information if they
have reasonable suspicion that somebody is involved in terrorist activity.

MELBER: And in terms of what you`re fighting for, Senator Rand Paul and
you have been here on the same side, at least, of pushing beyond just
renewing a straight Patriot Act.

He said, of course, a whole range of comments in his long floor speech.
And then, over the weekend, I want to play the one that`s gotten a lot of
controversy, of course. Let`s listen to this –


SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: People here in town think I`m making a huge
mistake. Some of them, I think, secretly want there to be an attack on the
United States, so they can blame it on me.


MELBER: If you`re on the same side right now on this bill, does that –

FRANKEN: We are, we are, –

MELBER: Go ahead.

FRANKEN: – he is – we are on the same side. He`s against the U.S.A.
Freedom Act as well. And I think that was regrettable that he said that.

I heard it. When he said it, I was kind of astonished and saddened by
that. And he`s walked it back which, I think, was the proper thing to do.


MELBER: On the Freedom Act, he basically wants to go even farther. But
you`ve both been critics of how the Patriot Act is being applied.

FRANKEN: Oh, yes, yes. And, as I said, I voted against these authorities
when it came up because we lack the transparency. And that`s why I`ve been
working on these transparency provisions for a number of years now.


And Senator Heller and I joined up and wrote the provisions that are in
this bill. And you saw the House passed it overwhelmingly.


And, you know, I`m sure, in a day or two, they`re going to be passing it in
the Senate.


And it`s too bad. We could have done this over a week ago. And Mitch
McConnell, for whatever reason, misplayed this.

MELBER: And what do you say to the criticism, though, Senator, that the
NSA has seemingly misled or kept secret a lot of their operations. As you
know, a federal court recently finding that much of this program was
unauthorized, essentially saying that you guys, Congress, never explicitly
okayed it.

So, it shouldn`t have been going on in the first place. So, if going back
to the NSA, asking them to tell us more about their activities, why should
we believe them in the future.

FRANKEN: Well, there`s going to be – that`s why the transparency. And
what the second circuit said was, illegally, it`s this bulk metadata
program that we`re getting rid of. So, that`s what the court was referring

MELBER: And in terms of the wider politics, I mean, it`s extraordinary to
see how much change there is. We talked about Rand Paul on the Republican

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton and you have different positions.
You`ve endorsed her presidential run but she did vote for a straight
renewal of the Patriot Act.

Do you think she needs to move, or Democrats running for president should
be moving on this issue given what we know now.

FRANKEN: Well, I`m sure she`ll be asked about this and I`m quite certain
that –


– she would support the U.S.A. Freedom Act as it is written right now.
But I don`t want to speak for her.


MELBER: And do you think, with Bernie Sanders running right now, do you
think there needs to be some sort of Democratic push on Hillary and on sort
of having a progressive primary, if you will, or you think she`s good to go
and Democrats should line up behind her.

FRANKEN: Well, I support Hillary for president. I think she`d make a
great president. But good for Bernie.

Bernie had several thousand people out in Minnesota, in my state, the other
day. And he is raising issues that need to be raised, about income
inequality, about college affordability, about Social Security and
Medicare, about early childhood education.

He`s talking about the things that we need to be talking about and I say,
good for Bernie.

MELBER: And, quickly, last question, Senator. Does anything that we saw
happen in the rather unusual session this weekend and Mitch McConnell, as
you mentioned, having to move around, do you have any more optimism that,
now, there`s a way for sort of bipartisanship at the grass roots to
override what McConnell might have as his plan A.

FRANKEN: I think his plan A is gone and we`re going to plan B.


It`s the U.S.A. Freedom Act and that will be – he already went to plan B.
He abandoned plan A and we`re in plan B.

MELBER: Well there –


– there you go. Plan B it is. Senator Al Franken, thank you for spending
some time with us.

FRANKEN: You be. Thank you, Ari.


MELBER: All right. And, coming up, another day, another Republican
announcing a run for president. We have more on yet Lindsey Graham`s

And nearly one year after a crash that almost took his life, a very
emotional Tracy Morgan broke his silence today along with his fiancee who`s
been at his side this entire time.



Hillary Clinton is in a very strong position in the Democratic primary for
president. But if you follow politics at all, basically, you are old
enough to remember the last time people said she was the inevitable

She is now being nudged from the far left by Democratic socialist Bernie
Sanders. And from the center left, by Martin O`Malley, the former Maryland
Governor who jumped in the race this weekend, a dynamic Al Franken who I
just spoke to tonight.


FRANKEN: I support Hillary for president. I think she`d make a great
president. But good for Bernie.

Bernie had several thousand people out in Minnesota, in my state, the other
day. And he is raising issues that need to be raised – about income
inequality, about college affordability, about Social Security and
Medicare, about early childhood education.

He`s talking about the things that we need to be talking about and I say,
good for Bernie.


MELBER: Joining me now, another liberal for Hillary, Former Governor
Howard Dean. Good evening, Governor.

you, Ari.

MELBER: I`m doing well. You heard Al Franken laid it out there.

DEAN: I did.

MELBER: First and foremost, is this part of a good Democratic primary
process and does Hillary Clinton underestimate a progressive challenger,
Bernie Sanders at her peril, or do you see him as a candidate, politically,
with a ceiling.

That means, he would not be the nominee under any circumstance.

DEAN: I certainly wouldn`t say that. You know, I`ve known him for a long
time. And his whole career has been about economic and social justice,
mostly economic justice for working people.


So, that happens to be the biggest issue, I think, on the page for both
parties. When Rick Santorum declares for President of the United States
and starts talking about middle class people and social economic justice,
it`s pretty good clue that everybody`s going to be talking about this.

And Bernie`s better at it than most. So, I think it`s a good thing he`s in
the race.


MELBER: Yes. And Governor O`Malley is hitting it, too. And I think it`s
fair to say your career shows that you can have a perception.

As centrist governor in office, you did many things that were at least
considered that, and then go out and run for president.

And depending on the issues that are on the table, people might perceive as
you as more liberal. Perceptions come and go.

DEAN: Right.

MELBER: Governor O`Malley has been battling the idea that he is maybe
changing and going hard left as some sort of political gambit. Let me play
though to your point of economic populism what he said in his announcement
about Goldman Sachs.


Goldman Sachs is one of the biggest repeat investment banks in America.

Recently, the CEO of Goldman Sachs let his employees know that he`d be just
fine with either Bush or Clinton. I bet he would.



MELBER: Number one, and you know Governor O`Malley, do you believe him,
that he cares about this and thinks that Clinton would be bad on Wall
Street in a way that he would be better.

And, number two, what is the Clinton response to that.

DEAN: Well, I don`t know what the Clinton response to that. If I were
Hillary Clinton, I wouldn`t have a response to that right now because you
don`t –

MELBER: Why bother.

DEAN: Well, you wouldn`t quite – I wouldn`t say that –


– because I like Martin O`Malley a lot. And I think he`s a terrific
governor and a really good mayor. The problem that both Bernie and Martin
O`Malley have is that Hillary Clinton is a, running a really good campaign
and is, in fact, talking about the same issues that they are in terms
college educations that are debt-free, early childhood which she has a

She`s been working on that for her entire career. And so, this is going to
be a contest of three people who are going to sound somewhat alike.


Bernie is going to be more strident. But they`re both going to – all
three are going to sound roughly the same.

In that case, the tie goes to Hillary Clinton, who`s been at this for a
long time. But, you know, who knows. Anything can happen in politics.

And O`Malley was a really good governor and got a lot of good stuff done.
So, I think this can be interesting. I don`t think – I think Hillary has
to watch out.

If she takes this for granted, she`s not going to win. And I think she
won`t take it for granted. And I think she`s gotten off – as we say,
gotten off to a good start.

MELBER: Yes. Well, that`s interesting coming from you. I want to quickly
show the newest Republican in the race.

We try to keep track here but there are many. Lindsey Graham talking about
radical Islam running wild. That`s part of what he wants to run on. Let`s
take a look.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Simply put, radical Islam is
running wild. They have more safe havens, more money, more capability, and
more weapons to strike our homeland than any time since 9/11.

They are large, they are rich, they`re entrenched. As president, I will
make them small, poor and on the run.



MELBER: Is this a strong argument for Republicans to make against whoever
the Democratic nominee is going to be.

DEAN: No, this is a base argument. I think the American people have
gotten a lot more sophisticated about foreign policy in the last 15 or 20

And I think they get that you just don`t bomb the hell out of ISIS and, you
know, all that kind of stuff. They also have a president that did that, –


– who`s elected six to 15 years ago. And they know that`s not the answer.
He`s taking a big risk, Lindsey Graham. And the reason is, he could lose
the South Carolina easily. And I think he probably will.

MELBER: And you`re saying that this looks bad for the native son.

DEAN: Well, yes, lose your own state to somebody else.

MELBER: Yes, interesting.

DEAN: He was barely conservative enough to win his own election, –

MELBER: Right.

DEAN: – his own primary election.

MELBER: Right. You know, Tea Party issues.

DEAN: Yes.

MELBER: Well, always fun talking politics and policy with you, –

DEAN: Thanks, Ari. My pleasure.

MELBER: – Governor Howard Dean. Thank you very much.

Coming up, some breaking news regarding that startling report about TSA –


– screenings at dozens of airports across the nation.



We have a breaking news update for you this evening. Homeland Security
Secretary Jeh Johnson now has reassigned Melvin Carraway, the Acting
Administrator for the Transportation Security Administration, TSA, and
order the entire TSA to take some immediate steps to address alarming
security lapses that were uncovered in a new Inspector General`s report
that many people have been talking –


– about today. TSA screening officers failed to detect smuggled weapons
in, get this, 67 out of 70 attempts. That`s a failure rate of 95 percent.

Now, the tests were conducted by Homeland Security Red Teams who basically
posed as passengers at these TSA checkpoints you see at dozens of airports
anywhere you go around the nation.

Now, the TSA is stressing that it has a layered approach to security from
the moment you buy your ticket and your name is compared to the Terror
Watch list, to the curb, to the airport where you have police and K-9s, air
marshals on-board when you fly.

All of that, they call it a curb-to-cockpit approach. Homeland Security is
saying as well on a statement today, quote, “The numbers in these reports
never look good out of context, but they are a critical element in the
continual evolution of our aviation security,” end quote.


Now coming up, Tracy Morgan`s emotional first interview since his tragic
accident. That`s next.


You`re watching THE LAST WORD. And when we come back, Tracy Morgan speaks
in his own words for the first time about the crash that has forever
changed his life, and talks about what he thinks about his future in


Comedian Tracy Morgan is beloved for his roles on “Saturday Night Live,”
“30 Rock,” and for his stand-up comedies that he`s performed throughout the

And, today, he was right back here at NBC –


– Headquarters in New York at “30 Rock” for his first interview since the
2014 traffic accident that killed his friend, comedian, Jimmy Mack, and
left Morgan critically injured.

He was joined by his fiancee and attorney when Morgan spoke with Matt Lauer
on the very set of “Saturday Night Live” about his accident, about his
recovery, and some lessons that could resonate with all of us.

MATT LAUER, NBC HOST: You walk in this room, what do you think of.

TRACY MORGAN, COMEDIAN: Home. This is home. Lot of good memories.


I burned Jell-O.



LAUER: How are you feeling.

MORGAN: I have my good days and my bad days. Sometimes, I don`t feel
well. Sometimes, emotionally, I don`t feel well.

I`m really focused on my memory coming back to me, –


– my walking getting better. My balance is still off.


So, I have to really focus on those things.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (on the phone): There`s a terrible accident. The car
flipped. It`s on its side.


LAUER: What`s the last thing you remember from that night.


MORGAN: Saying a joke and looking at Jimmy Mack. And then wanted to get
back to my wife.

LAUER: You two were actually talking –

MORGAN: On the phone.

LAUER: – as the impact occurred.

actually. But I didn`t know that it was an accident. I just thought
reception dropped.

Once I found out the time of the accident, I realized I hadn`t heard from
Tracy since that point.

LAUER: Tracy, you mentioned a second ago, Jimmy Mack, James McNair, who
died in this crash, you didn`t get to see him after the impact, did you.


LAUER: When did you learn he had passed away.

MORGAN: A week after I came out of the coma, my lady leaned over to my bed
and said, “We buried Jimmy about a week ago.” I didn`t know how to take

BENEDICT MORELLI, TRACY MORGAN`S LAWYER: For a long time, we would discuss
how –

WOLLOVER: How to tell him.

MORELLI: – guilty he was feeling because –


– because of all the people who were there and, especially, Jimmy Mack
wasn`t even performing, just was there for him.

LAUER: Emotionally speaking, do you experience depression. How are you
getting through that.

MORGAN: I love comedy. And I wonder how I`m going to be funny again,
remembering my identity. What do I do.

And the fans would let me know, “We can`t wait for you to come back. We
can`t for you to come back.” And I can`t wait to make them laugh again.

I want to say thank you to the people. Thank you very much for saving my

MORELLI: They did.

MORGAN: Thank you.

WOLLOVER: They did.


MORGAN: Thank you, thank you from me and my family.


LAUER: You know what would be a nice way to thank them?


One day walking down those stairs again –

MORELLI: He will.

LAUER: – on “Saturday Night Live.”

MORGAN: I promise you, I promise you.


One day, when I`m a hundred percent, I`m going to grab that mic and I ain`t
going to let it go. Never.

I`m going to be the funnest that I can be because I ain`t never going to
take life for granted no more.


MELBER: A lot of us are fans of Tracy Morgan and we are rooting for him.

That is our show. I`m Ari Melber, in for Lawrence O`Donnell.


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