The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 10/21/15

Carlos Curbelo, Michael Steele, E.J. Dionne, Josh Barro, Peter Shumlin

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: That does it for us tonight, we hope to see you again
tomorrow, now it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good
evening Lawrence.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: And Rachel, if it was a serious
committee with a serious investigative purpose and one witness, you could
get every question done before lunch.

MADDOW: Right, that`s exactly right. If there was – if they were driving
at something factual and they were going to extract that information from
a person, it wouldn`t take 12 hours.

O`DONNELL: We will hear more speech-making than questioning.

MADDOW: Yes, thanks Lawrence –

O`DONNELL: Thanks Rachel. We have breaking news tonight about new support
for Paul Ryan to be speaker of the house, and Joe Biden said today, it`s
too late for him to try to build support for a presidential campaign.


LESTER HOLT, JOURNALIST: He`s finally decided and the answer is no.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Vice President Joe Biden saying he will not run for
president in 2016.

we`re out of time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s clear that this was a reluctant decision.

BIDEN: But while I will not be a candidate, I will not be silent.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), VERMONT: He made a difficult decision, and I
respect the decision that he made.

BIDEN: We intend to spend the next 15 months fighting for what we`ve
always cared about.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary Clinton will see almost certainly a big bump in
the polls.

TRUMP ENTERTAINMENT RESORTS: Frankly, I really want to run against
Hillary, I really do.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would rather run against him, so, I guess –






didn`t even know, I`ve been so busy doing this stuff, he`s out?

CHUCK TODD, MODERATOR, MEET THE PRESS: It`s clear that Ryan has been busy
making the rounds, meeting with several key conservative leaders –

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Without their endorsement, Paul Ryan says he won`t

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What`s the plan B if he doesn`t decide by Friday?

Don`t know.

BIDEN: I am absolutely certain we are fully capable of accomplishing
extraordinary things.


O`DONNELL: Forty five years ago tonight, Joe Biden was running for the
Newcastle County Council in Delaware. He won. Every day since then, Joe
Biden has spent more than a few minutes thinking about his next race.

He ran and won seven Senate campaigns, he ran, lost two presidential
campaigns. He ran and won two vice presidential campaigns, and today, he
said goodbye to all that.


BIDEN: As my family and I have worked through the grieving process, I`ve
said all along, what I`ve said time and again to others, that it may very
well be that, that process by the time we get through it closes the window
on mounting a realistic campaign for president.

That it might close. I have concluded it has closed.


O`DONNELL: A realistic campaign. The window closed on the possibility of
Joe Biden running a realistic campaign for president, which to him means a
campaign that he could win.

He saw a Democratic Party with a prohibitive frontrunner in Hillary Clinton
and a strong runner-up in Senator Bernie Sanders, and he saw every poll in
which he was running third to them.

And what he couldn`t see in the time now allowed him, was a way to turn
third into first. Every poll has shown without Joe Biden in the race,
Hillary Clinton`s lead over Bernie Sanders increases.

And so a relieved Hillary Clinton called Joe Biden after his speech today,
they no doubt exchanged pleasantries and well wishes.

Hillary Clinton tweeted, “VP is a good friend and a great man. Today and
always inspired by his optimism and commitment to change the world for the

In a statement, Hillary Clinton said, “I am confident that history isn`t
finished with Joe Biden. As he said today, there`s more work to do.” Joe
Biden gave this advice to the Democratic candidates for president today.


BIDEN: This party, our nation will be making a tragic mistake if we walk
away or attempt to undo the Obama legacy. The American people have worked
too hard and we`ve come too far for that.

Democrats should not only defend this record and protect this record, they
should run on the record.


O`DONNELL: Senator Bernie Sanders rejected that advice tonight. Here he
is with Chris Hayes.


SANDERS: We need a political revolution. We need to mobilize tens of
millions of people to begin to stand up and fight back and to reclaim the
government which is now owned by big money.

Do I think that, that was the work – was that the goal of the President
and the Vice President? Not really, I don`t think so. So, I think we`ve
got to go further.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Michael Steele, former Republican Party
chairman and an Msnbc political analyst, E.J. Dionne, an opinion writer for
“The Washington Post” and an Msnbc political analyst.

Also joining us, Josh Barro, a correspondent for the “New York Times” and
an Msnbc contributor.

E.J. Dionne, with Joe Biden definitely out of the race, the first order of
business today for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders was try to get at
those voters who would have voted for Joe Biden were he in the race.

Hillary Clinton did – made all the standard moves, calling the vice
president, positive tweets, Bernie Sanders comes on this network and finds
fault with the work of President Obama and the Vice President.

Bernie also got out there and gave a whole lot of gracious comments about
Joe Biden.

But the truth is that Hillary Clinton from the polls I saw today is getting
at least 3 of every Biden – three votes to 2 over Sanders from the people
who are for Biden.

There was one poll that showed Biden at 15 percent, 9 percent of those
people shifted to Clinton. So, I think on the whole, this is clearly good
news for Clinton.

The kinds of voters who like Joe Biden, who are probably somewhat more
moderate Democrats, he`s stronger in minority communities.

So, the kinds of voters more likely to go to Clinton. So, there was a lot
of celebration in Clinton world today at this decision, but it was quiet
celebration because it would be awfully nice for them to develop some
decent relationships with Joe Biden.

O`DONNELL: Michael Steele, if we discover, as I think the public
information is as of now, that Bernie Sanders did not pick up the phone,
did not call the Vice President today, it – for me, it`s one of those
markers about that campaign does not seem to know how to run a really
professional campaign.

think there`s a lot of truth to that. I think that at this moment, the
idea is two-fold.

One, to be gracious towards the Vice President, thank him for his wonderful
service to the country and to the administration, and what that does,
number two, is begins to send the signal to his supporters.

Take a look at me, I`m a friend of the guy you like in Joe Biden, so, you
know, come my way. When you don`t make those steps, you know, pretty much
to what E.J. was saying, you tend to lose that support.

It tends to go elsewhere rather rapidly. And given the lack of support he
has among African-Americans, Joe Biden could be very helpful there.

The lack of support that he has among those folks who are on the fence
between him and Hillary, this type of misstep, I think, will come back to
bite him.

O`DONNELL: And let`s take a look at that “Nbc News” poll that shows what
happens when you take Joe Biden out of it. Hillary Clinton goes up to 58

That`s the kind of number that you can use the word prohibitive with as a
lead, Bernie Sanders, 33 percent.

And Josh Barrow, it`s unclear if we were to look at what happened on the
debate – first Democratic debate where all the polling is showing that was
a Hillary win in that debate.

It`s unclear what Bernie Sanders does now to close that gap.

JOSH BARRO, NEW YORK TIMES: Yes, well, I mean, I think, this is the
situation that makes sense. The thing that was weird was the period when
it looked like Bernie Sanders was giving Hillary a real run for the

I mean, the thing is, there`s no particular good reason why Democrats
shouldn`t nominate Hillary Clinton, which I think is ultimately why Joe
Biden didn`t run.

The Democratic Party unlike the Republican Party is pretty ideologically
aligned with itself. Hillary Clinton, like Barack Obama, like Joe Biden,
is basically a standard issue Democrat on the policies that Democrats care

And so Biden`s proposition was, Hillary is flawed in some way, he`s a weak
general election candidate, I can be a stronger candidate, Hillary is
risky. Nobody was really buying that proposition, so, he`s not going to

And then it makes sense that you saw in that poll, his voters breaking 2 to
1 for Hillary because somebody who is a Democrat, who is looking for
basically standard Democrat to be president, if they were for Biden and
Biden is not available, it makes sense they would go for Hillary.

And so, I would expect, you know, things can change obviously, but I think
it`s very likely that Hillary is going to walk into this nomination and
we`re just going to be watching the Republicans fight amongst themselves.

O`DONNELL: The only difference that any of us could find between Hillary
Clinton and Joe Biden on policy was on the Pacific trade deal; the Trans-
Pacific Partnership.

And E.J. Dionne, the Vice President issued a warning today that he will be
out there campaigning against these Democratic candidates for president
every time they campaign against the President`s Pacific trade deal, which
has not yet gone through legislatively.

That is his job and the President`s job, the biggest achievement they have
left on the agenda is getting that trade deal past.

And so, we may see some indirect Biden debating in effect with the
Republican candidates for president.

DIONNE: Well, the fact is that –

O`DONNELL: I`m sorry, the Democratic candidates for president –

DIONNE: Most Democrats – yes, with the Democratic candidates for
president. In fact, most of the Democrats in Congress are going to vote
against this deal.

If it passes, it will only pass with the Republican vote, it is a very
peculiar Washington thing right now, and most Democratic primary voters, if
they have strong views on this are probably on the other side.

But, you know, I don`t think on the whole, Hillary Clinton is going to be
running against Barack Obama`s record. She was in that administration.

She`s probably going to put some distance between herself and Obama on
policies like the TPA where she thinks there`s a political problem.

But in terms of settling the race this early, just two months ago, people
were talking about how much trouble Hillary was in, then she has a great
debate, and she really did have a great debate and we`re close to
nominating her.

It`s still a long process. I agree with Josh, Hillary is very favored, but
those first two primary states are Bernie`s best shot. And so, I think
there`s probably another round to go before we end it.

BARRO: I just want to note about TPP. There`s a grand tradition of
Democrats making much more anti-trade noises during campaigns –

DIONNE: Correct –

BARRO: Than when they govern. I mean, remember, Barack Obama in 2008 said
he was going to renegotiate NAFTA if he got elected president.

So, I think there`s a recognition even among Democrats in the White House I
would assume that Hillary talking negatively about TPP doesn`t necessarily
mean that she will try to undermine it if she becomes president.

And I think that may be a reason –


BARRO: To give her a little bit –


BARRO: Of a pass –

DIONNE: I think –


O`DONNELL: Michael is absolutely right, go ahead, Michael –

DIONNE: By the way –

O`DONNELL: Go ahead. What I was going to say is, it`s all about volume
and intensity. If – you know, if you look at the way Bibi Netanyahu
opposed the Iran deal, that was the highest intensity version of that he
could have done.

Now, if Hillary Clinton goes in that direction against TPP, that`s going to
be fascinating. She can continue to just say she`s opposed to it.

It`s an issue, I think, for the White House is, how loud does she get about
this? How intense does she get about this.

And as we know, Michael Steele, it is traditional for trade deals to pass
with more Republican votes than Democratic votes.

That`s how Bill Clinton passed NAFTA. He couldn`t have done it with
Democratic –



STEELE: Yes, I mean, this is – this is an old song book and the pages are
worn and tried, and we know exactly how the outcome is going to be.

You`re right, the Republicans will line up with the number of Democrats
that they can get and they`ll pass it.

For Hillary Clinton, I suspect, her operation here will be to just as you
said, that will downplay it, we won`t talk about it a lot.

And I`ll raise my voice occasionally about it, she`s mindful of still – of
Bernie`s presence in the race and how hot some of his supporters can be.

Don`t want to create an unnecessary noise that draws unnecessary attention
to a particular issue, but by and large, we`ll be in-line with the

O`DONNELL: When the history of this presidential campaign is written, one
of the most interesting moments is going to be that meeting with Elizabeth
Warren and Joe Biden this Summer in Washington.

I can`t wait to read what that meeting was really about. We`re going to
take a break here. Coming up, we`re going to have breaking news in the
House of Representatives, Paul Ryan getting more support from the
conservative side of the party in the house.

He may now have the votes to be speaker. And in the rewrite tonight, what
you will not see in the Benghazi Committee hearing tomorrow. And later,
President Obama wants to try a new way to fight heroin addiction.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you get your 80 percent or –

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We did not get the 80 –




O`DONNELL: Breaking news tonight from the House of Representatives – 70
percent of the members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus voted to
endorse Congressman Paul Ryan for speaker.

But that group`s policy is to only issue formal endorsements by the group
if 80 percent of them vote to endorse. Paul Ryan`s reaction to that is



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And where are you? Do you support him?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I`m not supporting him, no, I`m still supporting
Dan Webster. I did not support Paul Ryan for speaker.


O`DONNELL: That is just one of the members of the House Freedom Caucus who
is not endorsing Paul Ryan, but 70 percent of the members of the Freedom
Caucus voted tonight to endorse Paul Ryan for speaker.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A super majority of the Freedom Caucus has agreed to
support Paul Ryan.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A super majority. We – there was not an agreement on
the pre-conditions and we`re going to continue to work to change what`s
happening in the house.

The ball is in Paul Ryan`s court.


O`DONNELL: “Nbc News” Luke Russert reports tonight, that Speaker John
Boehner and Majority leader Kevin McCarthy have been trying to convince
Paul Ryan to move ahead with a run for speaker and the feeling is now that
he is ready to do that.

And minutes ago, “Nbc News” got this from Paul Ryan, this statement: “I am
grateful for the support of a super majority of the House Freedom Caucus.

I look forward to hearing from the other two caucuses by the end of the
week, but I believe this is a positive step towards a unified Republican

Joining us now is Republican Congressman Carlos Curbelo of Florida, he is a
member of the House Tuesday Group, which is a group of center right

Congressman, what`s your reaction to the developments tonight?

REP. CARLOS CURBELO (R), FLORIDA: I think it`s good news, and I think that
all Republicans are coming to the conclusion that Paul Ryan is the man, the
leader that can help us advance an agenda that can make the American people

He is the man that can help us get Congress to work for the American people
and to leave behind all these petty distractions and the in-fighting that
really is no good for our conference, but more importantly is no good for
the country.

O`DONNELL: And it sounds like the Freedom Caucus gave up on basically
demanding conditions from Paul Ryan.

CURBELO: Well, I think that they have probably reached a conclusion, and
although it`s not a formal endorsement, it`s a defacto endorsement if 70-75
percent of the members in that caucus are supporting him.

They`re realizing that the strategy that they had adopted, whereby they
were apparently trying to veto every single candidate was just going to
lead to a dead-end.

And that if we want to move forward ideas, if we want to show the American
people that we can govern, that we can get things done here, we all need to
unite behind a leader.

And this is very important, we need to set realistic expectations. We will
set up every leader for failure if people go back to their districts and
overpromise, and say things like we`re going to repeal Obamacare.

We`re going to defund Planned Parenthood. Well, there`s a constitutional
framework that we have to deal with. And no minority in Congress can
impose its will on the country.

So we need to be honest with our constituents if our leaders, if Paul Ryan
or anyone is going to be successful.

O`DONNELL: When you find yourself in conversations with your Republican
colleagues, maybe some in the Freedom Caucus who believe that they can push
forward some of these ideas like, you know, repealing Obamacare, for

And you say to them, look, there`s a president of the United States who is
going to veto that if by some miracle we can get it through the Senate.
What is their response to you?

CURBELO: Well, that`s a great irony. A lot of the members of that caucus
call themselves constitutional conservatives, which, by the way, I consider
myself a constitutional conservative.

But that requires us, number one, understand that the constitution is the
product of many compromises, and that it`s OK to reach compromises here in
Washington D.C.

That`s what Ronald Reagan taught us when he worked with Tip O`Neill and a
Democratic Congress.

It`s what Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton taught us, two people who really
didn`t like each other very much, yet found ways to get things done.

So, I think everyone is coming to the realization that in this country,
thank God, in order to get things done, unless one party has absolute
control over the government, we have to sit at the table.

And that means that no one is going to get everything they want, but as
long as we`re working towards our goals, a stronger economy, a greater
nation, more opportunities for every single American, that`s a good thing.

O`DONNELL: Is there anything that Paul Ryan is going to be able to achieve
as speaker in the rest of this Congress that John Boehner could not have
achieved as speaker?

CURBELO: Well, I think Paul Ryan is certainly going to bring us together,
we`re seeing that already.

And Paul Ryan is going to articulate in a very clear way an agenda that we
can stick to, that we can commit to, and that quite frankly, I think the
American people are going to buy into.

Paul Ryan has myriad great ideas on reforming our anti-poverty program so
that they actually work for the people we`re trying to help.

Reforming our tax system, so it is fair across the board, and so that
everyone gets a shot at success, and no one gets a special treatment.

These are ideas he`s been working on for many years and now, he`s going to
be in a unique position to advance them.

We – all we have to do is look to his work in the Ways and Means
Committee, all of the time he has spent traveling this country, visiting
impoverished communities and seeking out the best solutions to give
everyone a brighter future and a shot at success in this country.

That`s what we can expect from Paul Ryan and it`s what a lot of Republicans
have been calling for. We cannot only be a party that is dedicated to
opposing President Obama.

That`s just not good enough. We have to articulate an agenda, a set of
ideas and that`s where Paul Ryan is going to help us a lot.

O`DONNELL: Just quickly, Congressman, before we go, can you think of one
legislative item that Paul Ryan can actually get through the House of
Representatives, and then through the Senate and signed by the President
that John Boehner could not have done?

CURBELO: Well, we just need to look at the past. Paul Ryan has already
succeeded at working with Republicans and the White House to get something

Look at trade promotion authority. There was a lot of opposition to that

Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid did everything they could to block it and Paul
Ryan was able to get 28 Democrats and strong majority of Republicans in the
house to work together for something that we believe is going to mean more
jobs and opportunities in this country.

So, Paul Ryan has already proven that he can get things done, that he –


CURBELO: Knows how to work within the constitutional framework, and that`s
what we can expect to see from him.

O`DONNELL: OK, so, that example doesn`t quite work for what I was asking
for because John Boehner got that done as speaker, too. So, we can
continue this conversation another time –

CURBELO: We will –

O`DONNELL: Congressman Carlos Curbelo, thank you very much for joining us
tonight, really appreciate it.

Coming up in the rewrite, what you will not see in that Benghazi Committee
hearing room tomorrow, that should be happening in that room.

Plus, why a conservative editor of the “National Review” says Hillary
Clinton will win in 2016 and that the current Republican candidates have
no chance.


O`DONNELL: Some Republicans think the presidential election is already
lost and Hillary Clinton has already won. Donald Trump disagrees.


TRUMP: Believe me, we`re going to win this election, we`re going to win
the primaries, we`re going to win the election, we`re going to beat

Hillary has done a horrible job, she`s not worthy of being our president
and we`re going to make this country great again.


O`DONNELL: The senior editor for the conservative “National Review” Ramesh
Ponnuru writes, “why Hillary Clinton will likely win the White House,
Republicans have very little in the way of popular policy proposals to
counter the appeal of liberalism.

The Republican presidential candidates have not built their campaigns on
offering conservative ideas that would give any direct help to families
trying to make ends meet.

Their tax cut proposals are almost all focused on people who make much more
than the average voter. So far, Republicans do not seem to be even trying
to erode the Democratic advantage on middle class economics.”

A new “Washington Post” poll shows that Republicans now believe that Donald
Trump is their best bet in the general election against the Democrat.

Forty three percent say Donald Trump has the best chance of getting elected
in November 2016, 16 percent say Ben Carson, 13 percent, Jeb Bush, 11
percent, Marco Rubio.

Back with us, Michael Steele, E.J. Dionne and Josh Barro. Michael Steele,
what do you make of that National Review criticism that the republicans are
not speaking to middle class voters.

MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN: I was flabbergasted with excitement
that someone actually had the tumerity to put it out there. The truth.
There has been very little conversation with the American people over the
last seven years, I would say, that would articulate in a fashion what we
really believe in a core, an important way for them to understand exactly
how we want to live.

This idea of governing is a foreign concept to many right now, who are
running for president. They need to have that conversation, I think Ramesh
put it out there very accurately.

O`DONNELL: So, Michael, as the race sits tonight, do you agree with Ramesh
that it is likely Hillary Clinton will win the presidency?

STEELE: She has a number built in advantages. There is this blue wall
that exist in the electoral college. The number of states in which
democrats have a decided edge. Right now, some 242 electoral votes to 109
for republicans, electorally speaking.

There is also the messaging advantage, particularly on middle class
economic empowerment. You know, the conversation inside the party, you
know, around Jack Kemp. There are a lot of folks, who have been saying we
need to go back to the future, if you will, in order to understand exactly
how to communicate on some of these hard principles that we believe in
economically. But we do not do that.

And, instead, we get caught up in investigations to nowhere and
conversations that do not make sense to a lot of people. So, I do not
subscribe that the end result will be a Hillary Clinton presidency yet.
What I do see is an opportunity for some of these candidates, if they
decide they actually want to start running for president.

O`DONNELL: And, we reported here last night about republicans trying to
assemble money, basically for Super PACs, basically to do attack ads on the
republican frontrunner, Donald Trump. Let us listen to what Rush Limbaugh
said about that today.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RAIO TALK SHOW HOST: Let me – I have never seen, ever, a
political party try to take down its frontrunner. I mean, not like this.
And, I do not care what you think of Trump, but he is the frontrunner and
you would think the republicans want to win.


O`DONNELL: E.J. , Rush has never seen anything like it.

E.J. DIONNE, THE WASHINGTON POST COLUMNIST: I guess for the first time in
100 year, I have to agree with Trump.


DIONNE: It is a very unusual thing. And, I think what is fascinating
about Trump`s strength is, somehow illustrated in Ramesh`s piece. Racmesh,
by the way, is a loyal conservative, who for years has told his side
inconvenient truths. And, I think this is an important one.

And, one of the reasons Trump is strong is because republicans have gotten
a lot of votes for a long time from working class republicans. And, they
have not gotten much back for it. Now, Trump may not give them much back
for it either, but he is appealing to their anger and their unhappiness.


DIONNE: And, think the other problem republicans have in taking Trump down
is that party is now very much an anti-immigrant party. I look at some
polling today, 63 percent of republicans think immigrants are a burden on
the country as opposed to strengthening it.

That is true, but only 32 percent of democrats, 36 percent of independents.
So, his anti-immigration argument has a real base inside the Republican
Party and that is one of the reasons he has been holding up.

O`DONNELL: And, Josh Barro, the Republican frontrunner is polling down
below where the democrat second place candidate polls. You know, Hillary
Clinton is now at 58 percent. That is frontrunner stuff. The republican
frontrunner is down there at 28, 25 in these polls.

And, Peter Hart`s focus group of republicans in Indiana said this about
Donald Trump. They said, “I like what he says but now how he says it.” 10
out of these 12 of these republicans said that Donald Trump would divide
the country as president.

8 of 12 of them said the Trump presidency would make the United States lose
respect in the world. And, the words they used to describe Trump,
“Divisive, loud, self self-serving.” Those sound like reasons why the
republicans might want to get a different frontrunner.

things that focus group said were just immense rage toward career
politicians –


BARRO: – and an expression of this idea that, basically, they have been
loyal to the Republican Party all this time and gotten nothing out of that.
And, I think this partly explains the mystery. People have been waiting
for months for the Donald Trump collapse that has not come.

Part of the reason is that republican voters hate this field so much that
even if they can identify problems with Donald Trump and even if they are
not entirely sold on his style, they are not ready to go support Marco
Rubio or one of these other people. I also think the thing Ramesh
identified, Trump is the one person in the field really talking to those
middle class economic concerns.


BARRO: I know Ramesh is not a fan of Trumps, but part of his solutions is
he is actually addressing a real problem in the Republican Party.

O`DONNELL: But his tax proposal just like the rest of them is a big

BARRO: The details, yes.

O`DONNELL: All right. We are going to have to leave it there for tonight.
Michael Steele, E.J. Dionne, and Josh Barro, thank you all for joining me
tonight. I appreciate it.

Tomorrow, starting at 9:00 A.M. Eastern, MSNBC will begin special coverage
of Hillary Clinton`s testimony before the Benghazi Committee.

And, up next the Benghazi Committee`s biggest mistake.




Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right? But we put together a Benghazi
Special Committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her
numbers are dropping.


O`DONNELL: It is way beyond impossible now for the Benghazi Committee to
achieve bipartisan credibility. But there is one rewrite, one change the
chairman of the committee could make tomorrow that could show America that
the republican congress does know how to conduct a proper investigative
hearing about something as grave as the killing of an American Ambassador
and three other Americans in the line of duty. Here is what you will not
see at tomorrow`s house select committee on Benghazi hearing.


WATERGATE SCANDAL INVESTIGATION: What did the president know and when did
he know it?


O`DONNELL: A simple question. You will not see that. “What did the
president know and when did he know it?” Eleven words that captured the
essential purpose of the senate select committee on presidential campaign
activities, which investigated the break-in at the Watergate Office Complex
and in process drove Richard Nixon to resign the presidency, the first and
only time in history that, that happened.

The Watergate hearings were by far the most important investigative
hearings in the history of this country, and they were not left to
amateurs. No one has ever run for the House of Representatives or the
senate on the platform that here she will be the best investigator ever
elected to congress.

Investigation is not congress` main job. It is something that occasionally
congress finds that it has to do. And, in the past, the more important
the investigation, the more likely the senators and the representatives
would leave the real work to professional investigators.

The wise legislators elected to congress who went there to get involved in
the complex business of responsible governing knew they were not good
enough investigators for the Watergate investigation.

The members of the water gate committee knew that they were not likely to
think of or ask the best investigative questions, so they hired special
counsels to the committee. One for the democrats, one for the republicans
and they handed over most of the questioning to those lawyers, who were not
elected to anything.

But were much better than senators or members of congress at asking
witnesses questions. The republican counsel was a young lawyer named Fred
Thompson, who would much later I his career won a senate seat himself.

The counsel for the democrats was Sam Dash, who became a giant media star
at the time, both by his performance in the committee room and by handling
press questions outside of the hearing room.

No senators were jealous of all the media attention that Sam Dash was
getting because they knew that Sam Dash and Fred Thompson were doing a
better job of conducting this investigation than they could themselves.


THOMPSON: Mr. Butterfield, as far as you know from your own personal
knowledge, from 1970 then until the present time, all of the president`s
conversations in the officers mentioned and on the telephones mentioned,
were recorded? – as far as you know.

That is correct.

THOMPSON: And, as far as you know, those tapes are still available.

BUTTERFIELD: As far as I know, but I have been away for four months, sir.

THOMPSON: I have no further questions.

SCANDAL: Mr. Butterfield, just a few questions. I think Mr. Thompson`s
questions have pretty much elicited most of the testimony. I think what
you were saying was that at all times, certainly, in the White House,
itself, either in the oval office or in the executive office of the
president where there was a locator light that whenever the president moved
and the locator light moved to where the president was, it triggered the


O`DONNELL: There is the democratic counsel saying that he has very few
questions because the republican counsel has done such a good job of taking
Nixon aide Alexander Butterfield through his bombshell testimony about the
taping system that President Nixon had for his conversations in the White

Now, you will not see any of that kind of bipartisan professional,
respectful and cooperative interaction tomorrow. Here are a couple of a
Sam Dash`s follow-up questions.


DASH: Was your understanding that this operated on an ongoing basis daily?
The system operated on an ongoing basis daily?


DASH: To your knowledge, did the president ever ask while he was in the
oval office to have the system not operate? The light not – the locator
light not show in that office, so as to trigger the device?

BUTTERFIELD: No, sir. As a matter of fact, the president seemed to be
totally really oblivious, or certainly uninhibited by this fact.


O`DONNELL: oblivious and uninhibited. That is what you will see in the
Benghazi hearing room tomorrow. You will see members of congress who are
oblivious to what real investigative questioning is and completely
uninhibited in exhibiting their obliviousness. You will not see a member
of congress ask a simple 11-word question or a simple question of any
length that captures the essential purpose of the now very confused
Benghazi committee.

You will not see special counsels to the committee asking questions in a
professional nonpolitical manner, because in the committee is previous
hearings only members of the committee have been allowed to ask the
questions. So, unless the chairman is suddenly wise enough to rewrite that
policy tomorrow, you will only see members of congress grabbing their
moment on camera with their questions.

Imagine if 21st century versions of Fred Thompson and Sam Dash conducted
most of the questioning of Hillary Clinton tomorrow in that hearing. Calm,
respectful, careful, nonpartisan questions by a republican lawyer and a
democratic lawyer, who are not seeking re-election, who are not trying to
make headlines, who are not trying to affect Hillary Clinton`s poll
numbers. Imagine that.

Such a serious and professional investigative hearing with only one witness
could be completed in a couple of hours instead of the marathon all day
affair that the committee has planned for tomorrow. The only way to turn
that hearing into an eight-hour session is to waste enormous amounts of
time on irrelevant questions and questions that are really campaign

So, instead of seeing what you should see in a properly run congressional
investigative committee, instead of seeing highly professional and
respected investigators on each side of the committee asking pertinent,
revealing questions, you will see politicians questioning or making
speeches to or arguing with a politician. A politician arguing with a
politician is called a debate. And, I do not mean to kill the suspense,
but we already know who the best debater is in that room tomorrow.


an arm of the Republican National Committee. It is a partisan vehicle as
admitted by the House Republican Majority Leader, Mr. McCarthy, to drive
down my poll numbers. Big surprise. And, that is what they have attempted
to do. I am still standing.



O`DONNELL: It turns out Donald Trump is the darling of 4th graders. The
Boston Globe reviewed the language used by the democratic and republican
presidential candidates to determine the grade level needed to understand
their announcement speeches.

By every criteria in the algorithm, Donald Trump spoke at the lowest level
of the candidates, fourth grade level. Ben Carson, running in second place
among the republican field spoke at the sixth grade level.

Hillary Clinton`s announcement speech was delivered at an eighth grade
level and Bernie sanders made it all the way to the high school level. His
speech was delivered at a tenth grade comprehension level.

Coming up, President Obama`s new fight against heroin addiction.


O`DONNELL: CNBC has revealed the lineup for the next republican
presidential debate and there are no surprises as to whom the top 10 on the
main stage will be, Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Carly
Fiorina, Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee, Chris Christie, John Kasich, and Rand

That leads Rick Santorum, Bobby Jindal, George Pataki and Lindsey Graham to
debate among themselves earlier in that evening.

Coming up next, President Obama takes on the problem of drug addiction in
this country.



More Americans now die every year from drug overdoses than they do from
motor vehicle crashes. More than do from car accidents. The majority of
those overdoses involved legal prescription drugs.


O`DONNELL: That was President Obama in West Virginia today. Part of his
new plan to fight drug addiction is to expand access to medication-assisted


PRES. OBAMA: There is evidence that shows that medicated-assisted
treatment if done properly in combination with behavioral therapy and other
support and counseling and 12-step programs and things like that can work.
It can be an effective strategy to support recovery.

But, it cannot just be replacing one drug with another. It is got to be
part of a package. So, we are going to identify any barriers that still
exist that are keeping us from creating more of these treatment facilities.
And, incorporate them into our federal programs.


O`DONNELL: The president has given federal agencies 90 days to identify
those barriers and develop ways to remove them. Joining us now, Vermont
Governor Peter Shumlin. Last year, he devoted his entire state of the
state address to the heroin crisis in Vermont. Governor, thank you very
much for joining us tonight. We really appreciate it. And, how did
Vermont get to a stage of heroin crisis?

PETER SHUMLIN, (D) VERMONT GOVERNOR: Well, just like the other 49 state as
the president pointed out today, you know, we are passing out OxyContin and
other painkillers like candy. You know, we really are with irrational

I mean get this, In 2010 we have passed out enough OxyContin in America to
keep every adult American high for a month. In 2012, we passed out 250
million prescriptions, enough to keep every American with a dose for that

So, you know, we should not be surprised that as we pass out these
painkillers, really without thinking before we do it, we then drive people
to a cheaper form of opiate, which is heroin.

And, that is what we are all up against. That is what governors are
fighting. That is what president is fighting. We got to change the way we
dispense FDA approved legal drugs sold and dispensed, mostly by the health
care industry.

O`DONNELL: When you devoted your entire state of the state address to
this, were you hoping for what we have seen today? Were you hoping for an
effect beyond just Vermont?

SHUMLIN: Absolutely. In the respect, that you know, every governor is
facing this. And, you know, this is a huge challenge. It is really a
crisis. And, you know, I can tell you in the little state of Vermont where
we value our quality of life, this is one thing that will take us down. I
mean folks, who are addicted to this stuff will steal. They will lie.
They will cheat. They will do anything to get it.

Our job is to stop treating it different than any other disease,
discriminated against this disease. And, instead say, “This is a sickness.
It is an illness.” Get folks into treatment. Get them the services they
need. Invest in their future. Get them back to work and stop just locking
them up, throwing the key away and hoping when they get out, somehow
magically they are going to come out of prison better than when they went

O`DONNELL: And, governor, what would you suggest to the president? Did
you hear everything you wanted to hear in that speech today?

SHUMLIN: I did. I mean he said listen. First important thing he said is,
“We are going to start educating prescribers, doctors, nurses, other health
care professionals about how addictive this stuff is.” Do not forget, the
manufacturers of that drug, OxcyContin lied to the docs about it, when it
first came on, said “This is not addicted. Go ahead.”

They paid huge federal fines. They pleaded guilty. But, you know, they
did dupe the health care industry. So, the president said listen, “Let us
start educating docs about how to stop passing this out with such
irrational exuberance.” Secondly, he said, “Let us pump up treatment and
get folks into recovery, back to work, back to good jobs.”

And third, he said “Let us expand rescue kits, so that we stop losing good
people to this disease just because we refuse to save their lives when they
O.D. And, all those – three of those are important. You know, you could
get a little discouraged here. He got an FDA that not only has approved

I mean, get this, two weeks ago, three weeks ago, they approved OxyContin
for children. You got to be kidding me. Now, we are going to put kids on
this stuff. Just a year and a half ago, they have this advisory board of
docs that voted 11-2 not to approve the next OxyContin, which is called
Zohydro. I call it OxyContin on steroids.

The FDA ruled their own advisory panel and approved it. Now, it is on the
market. So, you know, we need help from the FDA. We need everybody in to
say, “We got to have a conversation in this nation about painkillers. We
got to stop passing it out like it is candy, and we have go to start to
have a much more rational approach to the legal FDA approved drugs that we
are all getting everybody addicted to.”

O`DONNELL: Peter Shumlin gets tonight`s last word. Thank you very much
for joining us tonight, governor.

Chris Hayes is up next.


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