The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 1/11/2016
Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
Date: January 11, 2016
Guest: Laurence Tribe; Frank Rich, Michael Grunwald, Howard Dean, Gabe
Gutierrez, Saba Ahmed
[22:00:19] RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Now it`s time for THE LAST WORD
with Lawrence O`Donnell. Good Evening, Lawrence.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Hey, Rachel. I have proof for you tonight
that staying out late, as I did, at Golden Globes after-parties last night,
don`t laugh, was all work. It was all work. Guess who I ran into at the
HBO Golden Globes after-party?
MADDOW: I have no idea.
O`DONNELL: Executive producer of Veep, Mr. Frank Rich.
MADDOW: So it was like homework.
O`DONNELL: Guess who my guest in-studio tonight here in L.A. is going to
MADDOW: Is it Frank Rich?
O`DONNELL: You`re so good at this. You are so good at this.
MADDOW: Really that means, you can expense everything you did all day
O`DONNELL: I love that you think you`re telling me something i don`t know.
MADDOW: That`s why I don`t have a corporate card anymore. Yes.
O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Well, now we know that when Donald Trump watches this show,
eager student of public policy that he is, he actually takes notes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Since Trump has talked about Canada, the numbers are
narrowing in Iowa.
SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: By virtue of being born to
my mother in Calgary, I was a citizen by birth.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He thinks it`s a settled legal matter, he moves on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s just wrong to say as senator Cruz has tried to
say, it`s a settled matter. It isn`t settled.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Lawrence tried with Harvard, who
is a constitutional expert said, and I wrote it down, this is not a settled
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s watching LAST WORD, sees Tribe, and says, that`s
my argument. I`m taking Tribe from his MSNBC appearance.
TRUMP: Oh, and I`d love to run against Bernie.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look behind
us. Bigotry and racism.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it`s time for us to
have the kind of spirited debate that you deserve us to have.
TRUMP: Now wait a minute. She`s married to an abuser.
CLINTON: If he wants to engage in personal attacks from the past, that`s
TRUMP: I`m driving around in an army tank. I`ll never see a Rolls-Royce
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Never get a limousine. As soon as you get a limousine,
people look in the windows all the time, and you start to feel like you`re
special. All sorts of limousines. Especially ones with black windows.
O`DONNELL: If Donald Trump wins the Iowa caucuses, his prospects of
winning the republican
presidential nomination go from good to maybe unstoppable. And if Donald
Trump does win the Iowa caucuses by beating the current front-runner there,
Ted Cruz, it will be because of something Donald Trump saw on this program.
Harvard law professor Lawrence Tribe discussed the meaning of the phrase
natural born citizen as it appears in the constitution as qualification for
LAURENCE TRIBE, HARVARD LAW PROFESSOR: Without amending the constitution
or getting a definitive ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court, it`s just wrong
to say, as Senator Cruz has tried to say, that it`s a settled matter. It
O`DONNELL: And, as I said earlier in the program, we learned today that
Donald Trump takes notes when he watches this program.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Laurence Tribe of Harvard, who`s a constitutional expert, one of
the best in the country,
said, and I wrote it down, this is not a settled matter. It`s wrong to say
it is a settled matter because it`s absolutely not. It`s not a settled
matter. That means that a lot of people think you have to be born here.
You have to be born on this (ph) land.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, once again, Laurence Tribe, professor of
constitutional law at Harvard law school. Thank you for joining us again
tonight, professor. Really appreciate it.
TRIBE: My pleasure, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: How uncomfortable are you to hear that Donald Trump is taking
notes while you`re speaking and then using them in his stump speeches now?
TRIBE: Well, it`s certainly not the way I had expected the year to unfold.
But I`m comfortable with anybody taking notes. I`m just not partisan about
these issues. I call it the way I see it. And I think this is about a lot
more than whether Donald Trump will succeed in encouraging somebody to sue
Ted Cruz or whether anybody will yank Ted Cruz off the stage. That`s not
what I think is going to happen. What this does is give us a window into
the character of Ted Cruz, the sort of person he is with respect to the
What`s intriguing, it was true even when he was my student years ago, he
used to believe in originalism. That is, the constitution always means
what it meant when it was adopted. Except when it`s not convenient for him
to mean that. I mean, this is a perfect example. If the constitution
what he claims, namely that if you`ve got an American mother, it doesn`t
matter where in the world you`re born, you become a natural born citizen at
birth, well, then, why in the world did congress need to pass a law dealing
with naturalization and immigration in 1934 saying, from now on, although
it wasn`t true before, if you have a mother who is an American citizen,
that`s good enough so you don`t need to get naturalized.
Course, they weren`t talking about eligibility to run for president. But
what`s intriguing is that the way that Ted Cruz tries to prove that it`s a
sort of open and shut case is by looking not at what the original meaning
of the constitution was, he looks at all of these events in the 1930s and
in the 60s and 70s and what happened when John McCain tried to run for
president and so on.
That means that when the people who get hurt by an antiquarian historically
rigid view of the constitution, gays, women, minorities, when the people
who get hurt are those guys, he`s an originalist. But he`s a fair-weather
originalist because when the people who get hurt are Ted Cruz, by that
philosophy, he`s kind of a weathervane on the subject. He`s a fair-weather
originalist. And I think what this, makes this really important, the
reason i got into wasn`t that I had an axe to grind about Ted Cruz or that
I was looking forward to having Donald Trump quote me.
It was because I care about the constitution. Ted Cruz claims to care
about the constitution. When he studied it at Harvard, he was at least
consistent about it. But now he picks and chooses an approach to that
fundamental important American document that suits his purposes and I don`t
think we can afford to have the constitution in the hands of somebody who
plays fast and loose with that fundamental law. That`s why I care so much
O`DONNELL: And you`ve been on this particular subject long before Ted Cruz
was ever a United States senator. You co-wrote a legal memo on behalf of
John McCain when this question came up in his case since he was borne out
side of the United States. Just take us through that memo quickly and your
TRIBE: That was a hard case. When senator McCain asked me and Ted Olson,
who had been solicitor general under George W. Bush, to look closely at
whether his birth in the canal zone, U.S. military base, to two American
parents, a mother and a father, both of whom were U.S. citizens, would
disqualify him from running for president.
And we studied it closely. We concluded that the matter was really an
unresolved one but that the better view, because neither Ted Olson nor I is
a strict originalist the way Ted Cruz claims to be; the better view is that
the way things have evolved in our country, opening doors to more people,
it just doesn`t make sense anymore to act as though we`re worried about
being taken over by a foreign monarch. And so the better view is,
especially when you`re borne outside the country because your parents were
in the military and you were born in a U.S. military base under American
jurisdiction, better view is that you`re eligible. But even that wasn`t an
This one is a case in which, to say that it is settled is really to say
that you can pick the view of the constitution that best serves your
purposes and claim that that`s the law. And I don`t think a president who
picks justices who are willing to do that, to claim they are bound by the
original constitution, except when they don`t like the results, is a
president that we can safely have in the white house.
O`DONNELL: Well, professor, he`s now – despite your best efforts as a
teacher, he is now claiming that the supreme court really doesn`t have any
significant authority at all. Let`s listen to what he said Saturday in
Iowa about the supreme court.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you believe the supreme court decisions are the
law of the land?
CRUZ: Not remotely.
O`DONNELL: A stunning moment, I have to say, a presidential candidate,
asked if the supreme
court decisions are the law of the land and there`s your former student
saying, not remotely.
TRIBE: Right. It`s a little scary. A little scary.
O`DONNELL: Go ahead, professor.
TRIBE: When Abraham Lincoln confronted Dred Scott, he did say that the
supreme court`s decisions are the law for that case. But over time, they
may get reconsidered. And they don`t settle the
matter. We can keep trying to get the supreme court to change its views.
But to say, as Ted Cruz does, that the supreme court`s decisions are not
remotely the law of the land is really to say that the law of the land is
Ted Cruz. Because who else is there to give the final word for the time
being? Justice Jackson once said, we are not final because we are
infallible. We are viewed as infallible because we`re final. But if we
don`t have a final arbiter of constitutional disputes, the chief justice of
Alabama can say, I don`t believe in same-sex marriage. We`re back to the
pre-civil war days and we are no longer a country. We`re no longer the
United States of America.
O`DONNELL: Professor, you did a piece in the “Boston Globe” about this
where you identified a particular iron any that could occur if we were to
have a president Cruz and the kind of litigation that could ensue that
could challenge his authority as an executive, possibly on the issuance of
executive orders, for example.
TRIBE: Right. It`s a bit farcicle. It`s not likely to happen. But if
you really believe Ted Cruz`s approach to the constitution, then the
justices that he would likely put on the court when the ones who, at the
next inauguration are going to be, 80 or more, there will be three of them
and one will be 84, there will be vacancies. He would put people on the
court who would say that he is really not a legitimate president. And what
that means is that his executive action, the very first one he promises to
take, which would be to undo President Obama`s deferral of deportation for
the parents of genuine American citizens, that action could be challenged
just as the NLRB`s action was struck down when it issued an order to Pepsi-
Just in 2014, the courts said that, well, three of the five members of the
National Labor Relations Board weren`t legitimate and, therefore, these
actions can`t stand. Apply that approach to a strict originalist view of
natural born citizens and that would be great news for the people who would
no longer be deported but not such great news for Ted Cruz and his ability
to fulfill that inhumane promise of reversing DACA, the deferred action for
the parents of Americans, on his first day in office. That`s just spinning
out some of the possibilities. But basically the point is that a Cruz
court, and my piece in “The Boston Globe” is called “Constitution on Cruz
Control”; a Cruz court would be really not very trustworthy and we really
can`t trust somebody who is willing to play fast and loose with the
constitution to make the kinds of decisions that Ted Cruz would make if he
O`DONNELL: Professor, I just want to circle back to one point you made
about originalist intent. At the time the founding fathers, when this
phrase was inserted into the constitution, they, at that time, certainly
respected the – on the issue of citizenship transferring at birth, they
had much stronger respect for the father`s citizenship than they did the
mother`s citizenship at that time. They may have interpreted it as, it
actually requires at that time that your father be the United States
citizen without regard to whether your mother is or not.
TRIBE: That`s right. Until 1934, it`s clear that the fact that your
mother was an American citizen was not enough to make you a U.S. citizen at
birth in any sense. Not only not enough to make you a natural born
citizen. It was in 1934 that they equalized the laws between having an
American mother and an American father. But at the time of the framing,
they weren`t so interested in who your parents were. They were interested
in whether you had a connection to the land. The focus was really on
whether you were born on American soil.
And the fact that they had all these laws passed over the years to say that
some people, by grace of congress, don`t have to get naturalized, has
nothing to do with the meaning of natural born citizen. The idea that the
constitution waxes and wanes and that the meaning of this clause depends on
what the latest congress has said about immigration and naturalization is
completely at odds with the firm position that the framers took about this.
O`DONNELL: Professor Laurence Tribe, thank you very much for joining us
again on this subject. Really appreciate it. Thank you, professor.
Coming up, Frank Rich will join us talking about Hillary versus Bernie.
Also coming up in the show, what is the loneliest leadership position in
American politics? It is the leader of the muslim republican group. She`s
going to join us later. And white supremacists have chosen their candidate
president. Take your time. Guess who. The answer is coming up. We have
body camera video of that raid that captured El Chapo.
O`DONNELL: In the latest gallop poll, 42 percent of Americans identified
as independents in 2015. The share of Americans identifying as democrats
dropped to a record low of 29 percent and the percentage of republicans was
at 26 percent which is just one point above its recent record low of 25 in
2013. But most independents actually lean toward one party or the other.
And when you add those numbers, you are left with just 12 percent who may
be the pure independents out there.
Up next, Frank Rich on Bernie Sanders versus Hillary Clinton and also he`d
like to get a word in about Ted Cruz being a natural born citizen or maybe
O`DONNELL: With just three quick weeks to go before the Iowa caucus,
democrats, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are now tied in Iowa in the
latest NBC poll. They are also tied in New Hampshire with a 4.8 percent
margin of error in the poll. In Iowa, Hillary Clinton is at 48 percent and
Bernie Sanders is at 45. In New Hampshire, Bernie Sanders is at 50 and
Hillary Clinton is at 46. The same poll shows Bernie Sanders outperforming
Hillary Clinton in general election match-ups with Donald Trump. In Iowa,
Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump by eight points. Bernie Sanders leads
Donald Ttrump by 13 points.
In New Hampshire, Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump by just one point
while Bernie Sanders leads donald trump by 19 points. A new national poll
out today from “Investors Business Daily” shows the race tightening
nationally with a 5.1 percent margin of error. In that poll, the
candidates are in a virtual tie, with Hillary Clinton at 43 percent and
Bernie Sanders at 39 percent. Here`s Bernie Sanders in Iowa tonight at the
fusion brown and black forum.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: The inevitable candidate for the democratic nomination may not be
so inevitable today. And I think – and i think if you look at the crowds
that we are bringing forth here in Iowa, in New Hampshire, all over this
country, the excitement that we`re generating, where millions of people are
now saying, oh hey, that maybe it is time to go beyond establishment
politics and establishment economics. Maybe it`s time for a political
revolution to take on the billionaire class and create an economy that
works for all of us.
(END VIDEO CLIP
O`DONNELL: And here`s Hillary Clinton on the attack in Iowa today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: I just have a difference with senator Sanders. He has a
different plan. His plan would take Medicare and Medicaid and the
children`s health insurance program and affordable care act, health care
insurance, and private employer health insurance, he would take that and he
would take it all together and send health insurance to the states.
Turning over yours and my health insurance to governors, like Terry
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Frank Rich, writer at large for “New York
Magazine” and, of course, executive producer on HBO`s “Veep.” Frank, let`s
start with the democrats and we`re going to go back to talk about Trump,
Cruz, and natural born citizen. The Sanders campaign immediately issued a
statement saying what Hillary Clinton said isn`t true and it`s not. Bernie
Sanders is saying Medicare for all. President Obama said, ideally he would
have done that if he could. That`s the ideal system but he couldn`t in his
view. And so they cobbled together this complex thing involving the
insurance companies and all of
that. But what`s your reading of where this stands now? And by the way,
on all the other match-ups, the Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton versus all
the other individual republicans, Bernie Sanders does better in all of
FRANK RICH: Well it`s really interesting. I`ve been a skeptic about
whether Sanders could get any traction but then again everyone was
skeptical about Donald Trump, too. The fact is, the fairly minuscule
differences on healthcare policy, and on guns, between Sanders and Clinton,
have nothing to do with this race. This campaign – this election – it`s
this anti-establishment wave and who is more establishment than Hillary
Clinton? And her association with Wall Street, with the Clinton Foundation
and its sort of murky waters of big donors with interest before government.
Sanders – and Sanders has really found the sweet spot of going after her,
as big an issue in the democratic party, in a way it`s also a big issue in
the republican party. Some of what`s hurting Hillary Clinton has also hurt
Jeb Bush on the other side.
O`DONNELL: And there`s, we`ve actually found in polling, a little bit of
an overlap between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. And because Bernie
does better against Donald Trump, you can assume then that there are some
Trump supporters who, if Hillary Clinton is not the nominee, would move
over and become Sanders supporters and that`s exactly what the polling
shows. Maybe about 5 or 6 percent of them.
RICH: That doesn`t surprise me at all. I still find it highly unlikely
that Bernie Sanders, A, can get the nomination with such low minority
support, particularly African-American support, and I find it also hard to
picture Sanders, or for that matter, Trump, winning a national election.
But they`re on the same side at least emotionally in opposing a certain
kind of powers that be, whether it be in Washington or Wall Street. It`s
hard to believe that a multimillionaire, whatever he`sworth, like Trump,
can get away with it, taking this sort of populous stand, but they are in
the same rough territory of being infidels and going against Clinton and
Bush. What`s more establishment than Clinton and Bush? And even though
Bush has completely faded Bush, has been a great whipping boy for Trump,
even now when Bush isn`t really a factor, because it emphasizes how
antiestablishment he is more than going against any other republican.
O`DONNELL: And there`s a real separation in the polls. Bernie Sanders,
much more support in the voters under 45 years old. Hillary Clinton, much
more support voters over 45 years old. If you`re betting, you`d rather
have the older voters because they`re more reliable at showing up. But the
energy is all on the Sanders side and that under 45 category.
RICH: Right. And they`re saying, I guess, that they sort of have a
version of the Obama following of 2008 in having young people. Whether
that`s – and it`s true. You just go on campus or talk to people who are
younger who support Bernie Sanders, it`s a genuine enthusiasm. Is it
enough alone and will young voters turn out for, let`s face it, a senior
citizen from New England in the way they turned out for someone who was
making history like Barack Obama in the end? I`m not 100 percent sure.
O`DONNELL: All right. Now, to what we just heard from professor Tribe
about natural born citizen, it is, it turns out - and to my surprise. I
only started studying this last week. It turns out to be a complex
question, constitutionally about exactly what did they mean. And at that
time when they were writing it, they were avoiding a lot in writing the
constitution. They knew that there were people being born in the United
States at that time who would not get citizenship. Slaves. None of them
would get itizenship. The natives on reservations, none of them would get
So they were very conscious of this. Andso the ambiguity by the
constitutional scholars who have studied it, they feel there`s a certain
intentional failure to define this specifically and so then you`re left
with this guesswork of what did they mean and searching all of these extra
sources a the time. And Ted Cruz just doesn`t want anyone to get deeply
involved in that scholarship right now.
RICH: He sure doesn`t. And trump, look, Trump is brilliant. He may not -
- he`s not a sophisticated legal mind. He probably never – didn`t know
who Laurence Tribe was until three days ago.
O`DONNELL: Yes. That`s his first quote of Laurence Tribe ever.
RICH: Ever. Exactly. Nonetheless, Trump has honed in on the fact that it
is ambiguous. We don`t know. It may have to be litigated. And so how can
a national political party roll the dice, even if they love Ted Cruz, and
let`s face it, the establishment republican party despises Ted Cruz at
least as much as they do Trump; how can they roll the dice on someone who
could be tied up in court for two years? This could, Bush V. Gore kind of
thing going up to the last minute; they can`t really take that chance. And
so now we`re seeing Cruz who was sort of riding high in Iowa, starting to
fall a bit. And this may be a factor that -
O`DONNELL: We had, Costa there in our opening saying, look, the polls are
tightening in Iowa because of this. And over the weekend it gets revealed
that Ted Cruz`s mother was on the voter list in their neighborhood in
Canada. There is her name right there with her husband on the voter list
in Canada. They say – people are saying, well, that could be accidental
there because it`s just, they come by and do a door-to-door poll and
someone could have said something that wasn`t true. There`s no paper
evidence she was ever a citizen of Canada. Ted Cruz was though and he was
the – so his case is unique. John McCain was never a citizen of anywhere
else. Barry Goldwater was never a citizen – all those things.
And the other thing is, all the cases we point to where we say, oh, well
doesn`t this help us? None of them became president. John McCain didn`t
become president. This never got legally tested. Barry Goldwater didn`t
become president. None of them ended up in the presidency so we`ve never
had this test.
RICH: It`s just too great. I mean look, the problem could have been
solved if we had built a wall on the Canadian border –
O`Donnell: And Canada paid for it. Then the Cruzes never would have
entered and we wouldn`t have this problem. But I do think as long as a
market abhors uncertainty, and that includes a political market. And so as
long as this is an unsettled question, and it clearly is, Cruz has an
enormous problem. It really may take him out.
O`DONNEL: And we have reporters out there in the field at these Cruz
events asking people and going, oh, I didn`t know that, that he was born in
Canada. Like a week ago, they didn`t know he was born in Canada. Now they
RICH: And we all know from “South Park”, Canada is not universally
beloved, either. And so I think anything can happen but I think Cruz is
really in a difficult place and it just makes this campaign all more
exciting and interesting and weird in my humble opinion.
O`DONNELL: And fuel for “Veep.”
RICH: I don`t know how we can top –
O`DONNELL: Big question. And this was the big question at the HBO party
last night. Is Trump good for “Veep” or bad for “Veep” because how do you
outdo Trump on “Veep”?
RICH: Well we can`t do Trump on “Veep”. We have to hope that the sheer
absurdity of our own ridiculous characters what we build up over four years
will triumph over Trumpism and Cruzism but it remains to be seen. I hope
we can do it.
O`DONNELL: He gains credibility.
RICH: We`re going to stop being comedy and be a drama now.
O`DONNELL: Drama category.
RICH: Like your previous show, yes.
O`DONNELL: Frank Rich, thank you very much for joining us. I really
Coming up, republicans have falsely accused President Obama of many things,
but job killer might just be the most frequent accusation despite the
steady creation of jobs during the Obama administration. Republican myths
about the Obama presidency will surely be confronted in the State of the
Union Address tomorrow night.
And, in tonight`s “Last Word,” you will hear white supremacists making
robocalls in Iowa for their presidential candidate. You will never guess.
You will never guess who it is.
O`DONNELL: By this time, tomorrow night, President Obama will have
completed his final State of the Union Address. Here is the cliff notes
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. BARACK OBAMA, U.S. PRESIDENT: I want us to be able to walk out this
door to say we could not think of anything else that we did not try to do,
that we did not shy away from a challenge because it was hard, that we were
not timid or got tired or somehow we are thinking about the next thing,
because there is no next thing. This is it. And, never in our lives again
will we have a chance to do as much good as we do right now. I want to
make sure that we maximize it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Michael Grunwald writes in “POLITICO,” a review of his records
shows that the Obama era has produced much more sweeping change than most
of his supporters or detractors realized. Joining us now is the author of
that piece, Michael Grunwald, the Senior Staff Writer for “POLITICO”
Also with us former Democratic Party Chairman and Vermont Governor Howard
Dean. Michael, make your case, and one of the supporters not realizing
that President Obama has accomplished?
MICHAEL GRUNWALD, SENIOR STAFF WRITER AT “POLITICO” MAGAZINE: Well, it is
funny. You know, I think people remember the 2008 campaign, all the
excitement, change we can believe in. And, I think for a lot of people
there is a sense of disappointment either from conservative republicans,
who feel like, “Oh, he has been this ineffectual guy” or from liberal
democrats who say, “Oh, well, he has not really done all that much.”
And, of course, he did promise to change Washington. And, it is still a
partisan nasty dysfunctional place. But, when it comes to actual public
policy, the things he promised to do with education, energy, health care,
Wall Street reform, and a lot of things that people have not even noticed
along the way, he has made extraordinary changes in the government`s
relationship with the people.
O`DONNELL: And, Howard Dean, he has done this in the most difficult
political climate that any President has ever faced. We thought it was
rough for President Clinton after his first two years with the democratic
congress, where he was then stuck with Newt Gingrich led republican house,
also in republican senate. For the next six years, the rest of his term,
that looked kind of tough, but what President Obama has faced with the
congress is twice as difficult at least.
HOWARD DEAN, FORMER VERMONT GOVERNOR: I would agree with that. I think
this congress has been the worst congress, these six years, since
reconstruction and before that the 1840s during the no nothing era. This
is really dysfunctional group of people for a variety of reasons. I would
not go quite as far as Michael, but I do think the President is going to
have a legacy that ends up 25 years from now, which is I think about the
first time anybody can really judge it.
That is going to be extraordinary. Foreign policy is going to be the big
ones. If the Iranian deal works, it is going to be huge, as Donald Trump
would say. But, the other thing is this is the first President who really
set us on a multi-polar foreign policy. I agree there is a lot of things
he has done that are going to look pretty extraordinary 25 or 30 years from
O`DONNELL: Michael, you quote John Favro, President`s first term speech
writer in your piece saying, “People are always saying why are not we
talking about this cool accomplishment? Under Clinton we would have
bragged about it for weeks. The answer was usually, because there are a
million other things going on.” So, is that a communications failure of
the Obama administration?
GRUNWALD: Well, it is funny. You know, I actually opened my article with
Obamacare, which is obviously a big deal and everybody knows it. It has
gotten health care for 18 million people. And, people do not always
realize that it has also contributed to the slowest health care cost growth
in 50 years.
But, tucked into the end of Obamacare, there was also a government
takeover, the student loan program that freed up $40 billion for Pell
Grant, for low-income students. So, there has just been a lot going on.
And, I think that has been part of their communications problem, you know.
The, again, they like to blame everything on communications when you look
at what happened in 2010 and in 2014, it may be just that, you know, there
has been a lot of change. And, Americans do not like it as much as Obama
thought they would.
O`DONNELL: And –
DEAN: I think –
O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Howard.
DEAN: I would just want to add. I think that is part of it. But, look –
The problem is, as you say $40 billion was freed up for student loans, but
the student loan crisis today is worse than it was before because of the
incredible increase in student loans.
So, I think – and even the health care bill, which certainly has done a
lot of really good things and insured a lot of people really was insurance
reform, not health care reform. So, I do not want to knock his
accomplishments because I think they are extraordinary. But the goals were
even bigger than the accomplishments. And, I think that is part of the
O`DONNELL: What about that, Michael, the President`s rhetoric was always a
very broadly optimistic including descriptions of how, for example, the
affordable care act would work and other things. And, there is that
accusation that, well, he oversold some of his ideas.
GRUNWALD: Well, I think the affordable care act is a pretty big deal. I
think, you know, that before when – if you had a pre-existing condition
you could not get insurance.
GRUNWALD: And, now you can. That is a really big change. It is also
starting to change the way health care is delivered. So, that you are not
just paying for volume, there is more of an effort to pay for value. These
are very big changes.
Student loans today, if you have a student loan – I mean, there is a lot -
- as the governor said, there is a trillion dollars out there now, but you
no longer have to pay more than 10 percent of your discretionary income in
payments and you can get loan forgiveness after 20 years.
So, that is going to over time really eat away at the problem. So, I do
think there has been all these changes. Certainly, you know, if you are
gay, you can serve openly in the military.
GRUNWALD: You do not have hidden fees in your credit card. You know, your
health care system is now digitalized instead of pen and paper. These are
really big changes. Not everybody has to like the changes, but it is
DEAN: Well, one that you did not talk about was the environment. I think
he is going to be a huge figure in the environment. Having gotten China to
agree to limit carbon emissions and had a successful international
conference where there was no success before, that is one we have not
GRUNWALD: Absolutely. Solar power has increased 2,000 percent over the
last seven years.
DEAN: Right. Right, and he gets a lot of credit for that, I agree.
O`DONNELL: And, let us not forget the opening to Cuba. We could go on and
on. Howard Dean and Michael Grunwald, thank you both for joining us
DEAN: Thank you.
GRUNWALD: Thanks for having us.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, Mexican officials say that El Chapo`s meeting with
Sean Penn enabled them to finally track him down and capture him. And, we
now have new video of that raid that captured El Chapo.
And, later, a look at David Bowie`s first appearance on television.
O`DONNELL: NBC News has just obtained the booking photo of Mexican drug
lord El Chapo. We have it here. Yes, there it is. That is the way he
looks today. There he is in his booking photo. We have new video showing
the explosive raid that led to El Chapo`s capture. That also emerged
The video, which appears to be from a body camera worn by a Mexican marine
involved in that raid is the first look inside the house where El Chapo had
been hiding. His capture came three months after he met Sean Penn for an
interview published by “Rolling Stone” over the weekend. NBC`s Gabe
Gutierrez joins us now with the latest. Gabe?
GABE GUTIERREZ, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Lawrence, this neighborhood is where
Joaquin El Chapo Guzman spent his final moments of freedom. It is a middle
to upper class area in the Mexican state of Sinaloa, home to his notorious
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GUTIERREZ (voice-over): Dramatic video just released by the Mexican
government showing Friday`s raid of Joaquin El Chapo Guzman`s safe house in
Los Mochis. Mexican marines closing in on the most wanted drug lord in the
world as El Chapo makes one last ditch effort to escape from this house
with the top lieutenant through an underground tunnel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GUTIERREZ (on camera): They emerged from this sewer line about a half mile
away. Then police say they stole a car and that driver called it in. And,
authorities were able to track them down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GUTIERREZ (voice-over): After his dramatic escape from a Maximum Security
prison last July, Guzman was on the run. But, in early October, took a
secret meeting in Cosala, Mexico, with Oscar-winning actor, Sean Penn,
brokered by soap opera, Kate del Castillo, who once played a drug lord on
Castillo, tweeted about Guzman and “Rolling Stone” says, he reached out to
her to discuss the idea of making a movie about his life. She connected
with Penn and together they traveled to Mexico in October to meet with
Guzman under surveillance by Mexican authorities and these photos not
verified by NBC news.
Penn would arrange this video interview and write an article for “Rolling
Stone” describing the process as a clandestine horror show, burner phones,
anonymous e-mails and encrypted messages. On that October day, as Penn and
del Castillo were meeting with El Chapo, law enforcement sources say
Mexican marines were preparing to move in, but to ensure the two actors
would not be harmed the raid was called off.
A few days later when the operation did take place, El Chapo had already
escaped. It would be three months before authorities would track Guzman to
loss Mochis. Penn has detoured into journalism before, filling stories
after interviewing President Raul Castro in Cuba and the late leftist
leader Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. If Guzman extradited to the United
States, legal experts say his admissions to 10 could come back to haunt
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PROF. LAURIE LEVENSON, LOYOLA LAW SCHOOL: It is not at all clear that Sean
Penn, actually, violated any American laws by this interview. It may not
have been particularly ethical, but it was not necessarily illegal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GUTIERREZ (voice-over): Penn told the associated press he had nothing to
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GUTIERREZ (on camera): The Mexican government has already formally started
the process to extradite El Chapo to the U.S. to face drug charges. That
could take years. Meanwhile, U.S. authorities tell NBC News that Sean Penn
played no role leading up to the raid in that home behind me. Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Gabe Gutierrez, thanks.
Coming up, David Bowie`s first appearance on television on the BBC. And,
also joining us tonight, the loneliest person in American politics, the
leader of the Republican Muslim Coalition.
O`DONNELL: Singer, songwriter, record producer, actor, and style icon and
pioneer, David Bowie, died of cancer on Sunday at age 69 at the dawn of the
long-haired rock star era in 1964. 17-year-old David Bowie did his first
T.V. interview. It was on the BBC`s “Tonight Show”.
He presented himself in those days as a spokesman for the society for the
prevention of cruelty to long-haired men, a fake organization that he
created as a PR stunt for his band “The Mannish Boys.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLIFF MICHELMORE, BBC HOST OF “TONIGHT SHOW” PROGRAM: Now, exactly, who is
being cruel to you?
DAVID BOWIE, SINGER/ROCK STAR, RECORD PRODUCER:
I think we are all fairly tolerant. But, for the last two years, we have
had comments like “Darling” and “Can I carry your handbag?” thrown at us,
and I think it just has to stop now.
MICHELMORE: But, does that surprise you that you get this kind of comment,
because you have really rather long hair, had not you?
BOWIE: We have, yes. It is not too bad, really. No, I like it. And, I
think we all like long hair. And, we do not see why other people should
persecute us because of this.
O`DONNELL: And, now for the good news. I hope some of you remember the
“Last Word” producer Joy Fallon`s appearance on this program just last week
on her last day of work before taking maternity leave for the second time.
Well, at 5:55 P.M. on Saturday, her second daughter, Marley Olivia Fallon
Rajujini came into the world.
When 21-month-old Sophia was asked if she likes her new baby sister, she
was not so sure, but this picture is worth a thousand yeses.
Congratulations to Joy and Dino and Sophia on the arrival of the newest
member of their family. Can we just leave that picture up there for like,
I do not know, five, ten minutes? I do not know, something like that?
O`DONNELL: White supremacist groups have never had an easier time choosing
their presidential candidate. And, now, they are making robocalls for him
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
JARED TAYLOR, WHITE NATIONALIST: I am Jared Taylor with the American
Renaissance. I urge you to vote for Donald Trump because he is the one
candidate who points out that we should accept immigrants who are good for
America. We do not need Muslims. We need smart, well educated white
people who will assimilate to our culture. Vote Trump.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
WILLIAM JOHNSON, WHITE NATIONALIST: I am William Johnson, a farmer and a
white nationalist. Support Donald Trump. I paid for this through the
super PAC. (213) 718-3908. This call the is not authorized by Donald
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: We asked the Trump campaign for a comment on this but got no
response. Joining us now is Saba Ahmed, President and founder of the
republican Muslim coalition. Thank you very much for joining us tonight.
SABA AHMED, PRESIDENT, REPUBLICAN MUSLIM COALITION: Thank you for having
O`DONNELL: You must have the loneliest job in American politics. Why –
why would there be a Republican Muslim Coalition?
AHMED: To educate republicans on Islam and Muslims. I spoke to the
person, who authorized those robocalls and invited him to a mosque. He was
surprised to talk to an educated Muslim American. So, I think the best
defense against bigotry and hatred is to get to know one another and reach
out to the groups, who are causing all the hatred, because they actually do
not really know any Muslims. So, they are able to hate us out of the blue.
But, I am hope that we can change the hatred and bigotry coming from within
the GOP circles. And, that is exactly why we formed the Republican Muslim
Coalition, to educate presidential candidates on American Muslims. We are
hardworking, good American citizens and deserve a place in this country.
O`DONNELL: How long have you been a republican?
AHMED: About four years.
O`DONNELL: And, what is it that attracts you to the Republican Party?
AHMED: My Islamic values, pro life, pro traditional family values, pro
business, defense, trade, those are what led me to the Republican Party.
It was not so much the candidates or the statements coming out of any of
them. It was my beliefs and principles that led me to the Republican
I am just – I am a conservative. I am not a liberal. So, I could not
support a democrat. I grew up in Oregon. I was a democrat for a long
time. But, I just felt that I could not support a lot of the liberal
values that conflicted with my faith and that is why I became a republican.
O`DONNELL: Would you be able to support Donald Trump, if he is the
AHMED: I would like to see him change his views on Muslims and if he does,
then, yes, definitely.
O`DONNELL: But, if he does not change his views on – what would you do
AHMED: We are meeting with Donald Trump later this month. And, I am
hoping that as the campaign trail goes along, he will visit a mosque and he
will change his mind on Muslim-Americans, if he is serious about winning
the White House.
I think a presidential candidate has to reach out to all his constituency.
He can alienate minorities and expect to win the White House. We are very
hopeful that we can change his mind and all other candidates, who have
issues with Muslims in Americans.
O`DONNELL: Well, please come and join us after your meeting with Donald
AHMED: Sure. Will do.
O`DONNELL: Saba Ahmed, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I
really appreciate it.
AHMED: Thank you for having me.
O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes is up next.
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