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The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 07/16/14

Guests: David Nakamura, Ann Gearan

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks for that and thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. Rachel has the night off. We start with this man, this is Adam Kwasman. And Adam Kwasman is a 31- year-old Tea Party candidate, who`s currently running for Congress in Arizona. He`s a Republican, he`s a member of the state legislature. Right now he`s trying to win the Republican nomination for a seat in Congress. And if he does win that, if he does win that nomination, then he`ll get to face off against Democratic Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick in the general election. So first things first here, in order to win in November, Adam Kwasman needs to win his primary. And in order to win his primary, he needs to rally his party`s base. His conservative Tea Party base, to get them excited about him. And yesterday he got a huge political gift. The perfect opportunity to prove to the base what a true believer he really is. Well, at least that`s what Adam Kwasman thought he had been handed when he showed up to help with a group of protesters near Tucson, Arizona. Those protesters were there to blockade a bus full of immigrant children that is reportedly coming to town. And so Kwasman saw a huge political opportunity here. After all, what issue riles up the Tea Party base more than fighting immigration? It was a chance for Kwasman to be not just a hero to his local Tea Party, to the Tea Party in his district, but to Tea Party activists everywhere. To make a name for himself nationally, to raise money, to get out front on the issue of immigration. And so he did, sort of. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BRAHM RESNIK, REPORTER, KPNX: Adam Kwasman was making a speech. ADAM KWASMAN (R), ARIZONA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: The reason why Lady Justice holds a blindfold over -- RESNIK: But then the Republican congressional candidate suddenly stopped, he got word a bus was heading down the road and took off for it. But then the Republican congressional candidate suddenly stopped. He got word a bus was heading down the road and took off for it. It`s what Kwasman and the Oracle protesters were waiting for, a confrontation with a bus full of migrant children. Kwasman tweeted from the scene. "Bus coming in. This is not compassion. This is the abrogation of the rule of law." He included a photo of a yellow school bus. KWASMAN: I was able to actually see some of the children in the buses, and the fear on their faces. This is not compassion. RESNIK: That fear on the faces of migrant children Kwasman told me he saw in Oracle. There`s just one problem. Those weren`t migrant children on the yellow school bus. They were YMCA campers from the Marana School District. Do you know that was a bus with YMCA kids? KWASMAN: They were sad, too. RESNIK: Reporters at the scene saw the children laughing and taking pictures on their iPhones. KWASMAN: I apologize. I didn`t know -- I was leaving -- I was leaving when I saw them. RESNIK: Kwasman later deleted his original tweet. But we found it on Politwhoops. A site that captures politicians` deleted tweets. He did backflips trying to take back the story. KWASMAN: I said I saw children. I saw children. RESNIK: Right. But those weren`t migrant children. KWASMAN: Those were not migrant children, that`s fine. (END VIDEOTAPE) KORNACKI: And so now Adam Kwasman is getting national attention all right, although it`s probably not the kind of national attention he was looking for. This was a very embarrassing thing for Kwasman. There`s no question about that. But no matter what you think of what he was trying to do or about, you know, what he thinks he was trying to do or what he thinks about immigration at all, if you just look at the raw political calculation behind his mistake, well, you can understand why Kwasman was out there doing what he did. He`s trying to get ahead on the right. He`s trying to win a Republican primary. And so he tried to do something that those voters would like. It didn`t work, he didn`t think it through. But there you go. That was his political motive. And if you start to look at things that way, you can see a lot of different political motives that are at work right now, as our country`s leaders grapple with the flood of undocumented children who made their way across the border. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your city is pretty compassionate toward immigrants. So would you take some of those kids here while they`re being -- ERIC GARCETTI (D), MAYOR OF LOS ANGELES: We`re going to. Yes, we`ve already talked to HHS who reached out to us. Many of their parents are here. And before you get partisan, before you tell me where you are on immigration, these are children. As a father, who are we as Americans if we don`t step forward first and say, these kids who are isolated, alone, maybe they`re doing the right thing, maybe they`ve made mistakes, forget all that first. Let`s get them some place safe and secure. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: So that`s the Democratic mayor of Los Angeles. His name is Eric Garcetti. He was announcing yesterday that yes, the city of L.A. is going to be taking in some of the undocumented immigrant kids. He wants them to come. And the thing is, when you think of what might motivate Eric Garcetti politically, well, what he said also makes sense. He`s the mayor of a city with a huge Latino population. It`s a place that is directly affected by all of this. More than a lot of other places across the country. You could argue that he`s making a noble and humanitarian decision with what he said right there. But it also happens to be a smart decision for him politically. And now contrast that, contrast what Eric Garcetti there -- said there to what`s going on 3,000 miles away, 3,000 miles to the east of Los Angeles in the state of Connecticut. That`s where the Democratic governor, his name is Dan Malloy, has denied a request from federal authorities to temporarily house up to 3,000 migrant children from Central America at a school in his state. Now Dan Malloy is a liberal Democrat, but he`s also running for re-election in what is a heavily white, heavily suburban state. And Malloy already isn`t that popular in Connecticut. Right now polls have him running neck and neck with his Republican challenger. So it`s not hard to see that Dan Malloy has decided that welcoming those children to Connecticut would be risky for him politically. To save himself this fall, to win reelection, to keep his political career going, he needs to say no right now to Washington. He needs to say no to those children. And now think about another Democrat, Martin O`Malley, he`s also a governor. He`s governor of Maryland. He`s also a liberal Democrat, but unlike Dan Malloy, he is not running for re-election this year. But he is very interested in running for president, running for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016. And so right now, to put himself in position to maybe possibly have a chance of being the Democratic candidate for president in 2016, Martin O`Malley really needs to go after the hearts and minds of the Democratic base. And that Democratic base really seems to want to find a place for those kids. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. MARTIN O`MALLEY (D), MARYLAND: I believe that we should be guided by the greatest powers that we have as a people. And that is the power of our principles. Through all of the great world religions. We are told that hospitality to strangers is an essential human dignity. It is a belief that unites all of us. Any concerns you might have or feelings you might have toward these refugee kids, think about the country we want to leave to our children. We are not a country that should turn children away and send them back to certain death. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: So that`s Martin O`Malley saying he`s about helping the kids. On some political level, that also makes sense because he`s preparing to run for the Democratic nomination for president. He`s targeting the national Democratic base. He`s basically lusting after the presidency, so he`s concluded the Democratic base is all about keeping the kids here. Except then there`s also this, because Martin O`Malley is still in his day job the governor of Maryland. And within the state of Maryland, acting as the governor of Maryland and not as a prospective presidential candidate, he seems to have some reservations about those kids. And maybe it seems like he`s trying to have it both ways. We learned last night details of a private conversation between Martin O`Malley and the Obama administration. They were leaked out. Those details showed that the governor basically said, no, I don`t want these immigrant kids in my state. And please take the repost site you`re looking at in Maryland off the list of options. And if that seems somewhat odd because the governor seemed to be for housing the kids and everything we just displayed, at least he did last week, so Governor O`Malley defended himself in a phone interview today. He said, quote, "What I said was that would not be the most inviting sight in Maryland." There were already hundreds of kids already located throughout Maryland. He continued, quote, "Whatever the motivation was of the people at the White House that leaked it to you, I`ll leave that to you to determine." So this is a complicated issue obviously and the administration is putting fears out there to every state, every city. There are a lot of kids who need places to stay right now, and they`re asking everyone. So it`s unclear exactly why this happened with O`Malley, and exactly what`s going on right there. But we are at an interesting moment here. Right at the moment where a genuine humanitarian crisis is butting up against the motives and calculations of politicians. So why does it matter what political incentives or what strategic imperative that might be motivating different politicians to say and do all these different things in the face of this crisis? Well, it matters because for better or worse, they`re the ones who have to solve it, or at least they`re our best chance for getting it solved. For at least improving the situation maybe at any time in the near future. So now right now, there`s a new bipartisan, bicameral border bill. It`s been introduced on Capitol Hill. It`s been introduced by Republican Senator John Cornyn from Texas and Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar, also from Texas. Their bill would essentially rewrite the current 2008 George W. Bush law so that minors from Central America can be treated like those from Mexico and Canada. In other words, so that they can be deported more quickly. That`s the intent. And it appears that the administration isn`t totally against this bill. They haven`t officially come out and endorsed it, but they`ve sent some pretty strong signals that they`re open to it, or that they`re open to something like it. And you`ve got a president who wants the House right now also to approve the $3.7 billion he`s asked for. And he knows that he has to get Republicans on board with that request. It`s a Republican House, he can`t get the money unless Republicans sign off on it. You`ve also got Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader, the Democratic leader, who wants the same thing, she wants that money to pass as well. She wants the president`s huge request to go through. And she knows they need to get Republicans to go along with that as well. And so both of them think that the Cuellar-Cornyn bill or something like it is the way to get Republicans on board. Here is Pelosi last week signaling her openness to changing the 2008 Bush law, it got the president`s appropriations request passed. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER: You can have a different view about the value of a provision of the law, and as I said, it`s not something that would be a deal breaker as we go forward. If that`s the face saver for them, let them have their face saver. But let us have the resources to do what we have to do. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: So that was Nancy Pelosi saying last week that changing the 2008 law is not a deal breaker for her. Not a deal breaker for Democrats. But the thing is, the Democratic base, that same Democratic base that Martin O`Malley from Maryland is trying to appeal to, that base now we find out hates the idea of changing the 2008 law, and they`ve been pretty outfront about it the last week, very publicly opposing that idea. And apparently Pelosi heard that base, and so today she decided to reverse course. She came out saying that she would not back changes to the 2008 law, that she would oppose them. In an interview with "The New York Times," she said that she spoke with Cuellar, and that she would be opposing his bill. She said, quote, "I do think the bill that was introduced is exactly the wrong way to go. It`s the only immigration bill we`re going to have, one that hurts children." So the top Democrat in the House is now against the Cornyn-Cuellar proposal. And today the president met with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus is united against the Cuellar- Cornyn bill. Well, they`re basically united against it because one of their members also happens to be Henry Cuellar. He was at the meeting, too. Anyway, we are quickly learning where most everyone in the Democratic Party stands on this new proposal other than the White House, though. Because we have heard from unnamed sources in the White House, we have not officially heard from them whether or not they will back this plan. Would the president support it if it means getting Republicans to vote for the money that he says he badly needs to fix this crisis? And if he does do that, will there be a Democratic revolt? Will there be a vote if he makes that compromise? What is the White House`s thinking in all this? What we`re seeing right now is the merger of a humanitarian crisis and raw politics. It`s not pretty. But if we`re going to get answers on this, they`re going to come through the political process. And these are the political realities that we are all looking at right now. Joining us right now is David Nakamura. He`s the White House reporter for the "Washington Post." David, I appreciate you taking a few minutes tonight. I want to start by playing a quick sound, some new sound that came in, in the last couple of hours, from that -- after that meeting with Congressional Hispanic Caucus with the president today. Juan Vargas, Democratic member of the House, said that he got the distinct impression that the president is against the Cornyn/Cuellar bill. Let`s play what he said. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JUAN VARGAS (D), CALIFORNIA: When we came here, I thought he was in favor of changing it, modifying it. When I left, he didn`t say this, but he all but said, no, you know, I think we can do it under existing law. There`s some leeway there. So I don`t think he`s going to be pushing for a change. He better not. I think he`s going to get great resistance from the Hispanic caucus and a lot of Democrats. I mean, this law is important, we shouldn`t change it. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: So David, can you shed light on what`s going on here? Because we had reporting last week that the White House sounded like they wanted this to get Republicans on board. We the Congressional Hispanic Caucus is against it. And now a member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus is saying, yes, the president basically told me he`s against it. Is that where things stand? Is he against it? Do you know? DAVID NAKAMURA, WASHINGTON POST WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, I think what`s happening is that the White House has signaled to Congress that they`d like more flexibility for the Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to move more quickly to deport these kids because they`re saying this is a crisis that we have to stop. The only way to do that is to send the kids home, make it clear to the Central American countries that you can`t send your kids on these dangerous journeys here. What the White House has not done is send over specific language. And I think that`s because of this backlash among liberal Democrats as you laid out very clearly, and the Hispanic Caucus and others like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. So I don`t think the White House wants to take the lead. Again today, at the White House briefing, Josh Earnest, the spokesman, said, yes, we would still like that flexibility, but again, he was not clear and did not come out, as you mentioned, and give support to this bill which they`re still going through. So I think what`s going on is sort of getting the gauge of how many Democrats might support it, you have Ron Barber of Arizona saying he will support the bill, but so far not a whole lot of Democrats are coming forward to support this. The problem for the White House, they really want that $3.7 billion, and Republicans are saying, we`re not going to give it to you unless we get these changes to the law. So that`s probably the problem for the White House and why probably they`re not completely ruling it out. KORNACKI: Yes. So that`s the impasse we seemed to be at there. These things have sort of become linked here, this Cornyn-Cuellar proposal or something like it, the idea of changing that 2008 law to make deportations of these kids across the border much easier. That idea has been linked to this $3.7 billion that the president badly wants. I guess from the standpoint of -- on the Republican side, are we giving the Republicans too much credit here in terms of saying well, if you link these things they`ll go along with it, or have we -- is there a chance that hey, even if you link them, that Republican base, because we know how far to the right they are at immigration, that even then they reject it. NAKAMURA: Absolutely. And I think the fear among the Democrats is that you`re going to get this -- after all this talk of the president`s mandate after the 2012 election among Latino and Asian communities and all the effort that they put into this big bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform bill that never made it through, of course, the House of Representatives, that in the end if you go forward with this Cornyn-Cuellar bill, and you don`t get a lot of the money that you might need to take care of the kids while they`re here and so, you would have this ultimately enforcement first provision after all this talk about Democrats having the advantage on immigration politically and going for sort of more humanitarian humane approach to sort of providing protections to undocumented immigrants who were here. And that in the end you`d have a losing hand like this. So I think there is concern that Republicans would not go along with the money even if they got some of these tougher provisions in the law to allow immigrants to be sent home more quickly. And that`s why you`re seeing more and more Democrats peeling off and putting up a stronger fight and I -- you know, the Catholic bishops and the immigration advocacy groups and the AFL-CIO have all come out now and said they`re against going forward with this bill without greater leeway on the money and other protections for the kids. KORNACKI: Yes, getting tougher and tougher if the president had some desire to cut some kind of deal there to see how he could do that politically in his own party. Again those political realities budding up here. David Nakamura, White House correspondent for the "Washington Post," really appreciate the time. Thanks for joining us tonight. Lots more lead tonight, including the Republican Senate primary that already had a runoff and will have another runoff if the Tea Party has its way. Plus, some fun with the former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown of that variety, and maybe, just maybe, some very welcome news from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Stay tuned. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MITCH TYNER, CHRIS MCDANIEL : He is naive. Call Chris McDaniel naive. He had no idea that this amount of election fraud was going on, even in the primary. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: Ever since he lost the Republican Senate primary runoff in Mississippi, Tea Party favorite Chris McDaniel has said the election was stolen. And he says it was stolen because his opponent, incumbent Senator Thad Cochran, recruited Democrats to vote in the runoff. And to vote in that runoff for Cochran. Quoting McDaniel, "This election was a sham, and I will fight against it until the very end." And ever since McDaniel lost in that runoff last month, his supporters have been combing through poll books in Mississippi`s 82 counties. They`ve been looking for evidence that voters cast a ballot in the Democratic primary on June 3rd and then in the Republican runoff on the 24th. That`s something the state law says that you can`t do. As of Friday, McDaniel claimed his campaign had found 8300 irregularities so far. His campaign has been promising they`ll president the evidence to the public for that claim. But while we`ve been waiting for that evidence, we`ve also gotten lots of brand new data about Mississippi`s still not quite settled Senate Republican primary. And first of all it does appear to be true that as many had been assuming, incumbent Senator Thad Cochran did indeed reverse his downward spin in this contest by coaxing voters who usually support Democrats into supporting him. Specifically Cochran drew African-American Democrats into voting for him in the runoff. "New York Times" reports that Cochran`s margin of victory over Chris McDaniel came from the state`s most heavily Democratic precincts. These are places where President Obama got more than 90 percent of the vote in 2012. So if it`s true that Cochran won by turning out African-American Democratic voters, then what about the Democrat in the Senate race? He hasn`t gotten much attention so far, but there is a Democrat who`s going to be on this November`s ballot. And his name is Travis Childers. Childers served in Congress as a very conservative Democrat, but then he lost his seat in the 2010 GOP wave. It was pretty clear what his strategy was when he entered the Senate race. He was hoping that Republicans would nominate McDaniel, that they wouldn`t nominate Cochran. In a new survey from Public Policy Polling shows why he was hoping for that because against Cochran who as of right now is going to be the Republican candidate this fall. Against Cochran, Childers is losing by 16 points. But look at this, if McDaniel somehow becomes the Republican candidate, then Childers suddenly has a real chance at this thing. He actually leads by one point in that hypothetical matchup. So now if you are a Mississippi Democrat, ask yourself, which one of these would you prefer? Would you prefer to have your candidate down by double- digits or would you prefer to have your candidate up by one to have a real chance of winning in November? See, to me, that has always been the great mystery about this Mississippi election. Instead of helping Republicans to nominate Cochran, the guy who`s probably going to go on to win easily this fall. If you`re a Democrat why not stick him with a Tea Party guy especially when the Tea Party candidates are up for Senate and so many other states have led to painful losses for Republicans in races they otherwise should never have lost. Against Cochran, the Democrat basically has no change in Mississippi. But against Chris McDaniel, he might. So the Democrats` cooperation here remains kind of a mystery. The other big mystery here is whether Chris McDaniel has in fact found enough problems with this election that he could convince a court to throw out the results and to order a new vote. Sam Hall who`s a political reporter for the Jackson Clarion Ledger said that it seems unlikely to him that that`s going to happen. He says that McDaniel volunteers have told his paper that they just aren`t finding huge numbers of suspect ballots. Maybe in the hundreds in the biggest counties he says, but not nearly enough that McDaniel could create doubt and warrant a new election. McDaniel`s biggest supporter in all of this has been the Club for Growth. And the Club for Growth told the "Wall Street Journal" yesterday that McDaniel needs to hand over some solid evidence of illegal votes. Quote, "If there`s -- if there`s clearly evidence of wrongdoing, that there would be ballot integrity issues, I suppose it would be appropriate for him to pursue those. But it would have to be clear." So when your biggest backer said it`s time to put your cards on the table, that`s some real pressure for you. Today in Mississippi the McDaniel campaign held a press conference where his lawyers said they were going to, quote, "discuss evidence we have documented in our next steps." The press conference came around. Now McDaniel himself was nowhere to be found, he`s getting ready for a newly announced Truth and Justice Tour of the state. So that meant that the job of discussing the evidence as he had promised instead went to his lawyers, and his lawyers said they have found a lot of evidence but no, they`re not going to show it to you yet. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TYNER: We`ve heard it our entire lives in Mississippi, votes are being fought. Ballot boxes are being stuffed. They are false affidavit ballots. They`re invalid affidavit ballots, they`re invalid absentee ballots. We`ve heard it our whole life. It`s amazing. You`ve seen problem after problem after problem. Am I going to sit right here and try my case in the media and do a tit-for- tat with the Cochran campaign? No, we`re not going to do that. We`re going to be mature about this. We`re going to put it all together in a complete package. We`re going to get that together, and at the same time that we file a challenge, we`re going to give you a complete copy of it. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: The McDaniel campaign said today they expect to file that challenge within 10 days. It should give us all plenty of time to get the popcorn ready. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) KORNACKI: Quick spell check, BQHATEVWR. Whether that was the result of a pocket tweet as claimed, the product of someone typing the word "whatever" while doing the Balkan sleuth with both hands or there`s something else entirely, it was the handy work of one of America`s politicians who never seems to miss a banana peel or a slip on a record and step on a misspelled nocturnal tweet that makes no sense. He`s former U.S. senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts or New Hampshire or Massachusetts. And he`s making himself useful to folks who follow politics in his own unique and entertaining way, stay tuned. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) KORNACKI: If you`re a foreign correspondent, part of what you do, part of what your job is to be in the middle of war zones. Today, many journalists from various local and international outlets including our own NBC News team were in Gaza City. And they were there when bombs began to fall at a local fishing port. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Our camera recorded the shot. An Israeli shell smashing into a Gaza City port. It was broad daylight, there was no warning, it wasn`t the precision war Israel says it`s fighting. A group of boys, cousins, playing on the beach, now running for their lives. Until seconds later, another shell hit. Israel claimed it was firing at Hamas militants at the border but the dead were four young boys. Several others from the same extended family were wounded, including Watazam (ph), he managed to crawl up the beach to a nearby hotel. Medics rushed the boys to a hospital. Parents started to arrive, unsure what happened but expecting the worst. A mother asked, "Where is my son? Where is my love?" Then her worst fears came true. "Pray for your son. Pray for your son," a relative told her. "He`s now a martyr." (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel tonight reporting on the latest casualties in the ongoing violence between Israel and Hamas. Israeli officials say they are investigating the deaths of the four dead boys who are between the ages of 9 and 11 years old. Several journalists who witnessed the attack delivered first aid to the wounded, treating them on a terrace of one of the hotels and helping to carry them out to waiting ambulances. Now in the ninth day of fighting, the United Nations reports that more than 200 Palestinians have been killed. Including more than three dozen children. Last night the first casualty on the Israeli side was reported as well. A man killed by mortar fire as he was handing out food to Israeli soldiers just hours after an Egyptian brokered ceasefire broke down. Earlier today the Israeli military dropped leaflets across northern Gaza warning some 100,000 people to evacuate the area. NBC News foreign correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin reporting from Gaza explained that, quote, "The vast majority of the people here do not take the warnings seriously because it`s not clear where they`re supposed to evacuate, too." Thousands of rockets and ammunitions have been fired on both sides since violence broke out earlier this month. Many of the rockets coming from Gaza have been blocked by Israel`s so-called Iron Dome Missile Defense System. Israeli government says it`s objective is to target Hamas. The Palestinian group that controls the area around northern Gaza. Israeli officials say the military has gone to great pains to avoid civilian casualties. Now as proof, the military released this video earlier today showing that officials had on several occasions held off on bombing areas where civilians had been identified. Also today the Israeli government issued a call for an additional 8,000 reservists, in a country where military service is mandatory. And that brings the total number of mobilized troops to 52,000. Possible sign that Israel could be readying itself for a ground invasion. Something the government has yet to rule out. President Obama addressed the escalating conflict late this afternoon. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We continue to support diplomatic efforts to end the violence between Israel and Hamas. As I said repeatedly, Israel has a right to defend itself from rocket attacks that terrorize the Israeli people. There`s no country on earth that can be expected to live under a daily barrage of rockets. And I`m proud that the Iron Dome system that Americans helped Israel develop and fund has saved many Israeli lives. But over the past two weeks, we`ve all been heartbroken by the violence. Especially the death and injury of so many innocent civilians in Gaza. Men, women and children who are caught in the crossfire, that`s why we have been working with our partners in the region to pursue a ceasefire, to protect civilians on both sides. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: And late today Israel agreed to the United Nations brokered humanitarian ceasefire for five hours tomorrow. That will allow aid to reach the nearly one million people in Gaza who are currently without water. But that ceasefire is not a permanent agreement. In the region often mired in conflict among the many questions around this current crisis are what can the United States do to temper the violence? And how much longer and how much wider is this conflict going to go? Joining us now is Ann Gearan. She`s the diplomatic correspondent for the "Washington Post." So, Ann, maybe you can help me make sense of two conflicting things I`m seeing today. Number one, five-hour ceasefire has been arranged for tomorrow, at the same time, calling up 8,000 new troops. Are we looking at really what`s just the calm before ground invasion here? ANNE GEARAN, WASHINGTON POST CORRESPONDENT: Potentially yes. I mean, Israel is answering the -- starting to be rising international call for some calm and a step back here from nine days of bombardment and -- although that international call has not been loud or really anywhere near what Israel has come -- the kind of criticism that Israel has come under in previous conflicts you are starting to hear it. So the humanitarian five- hour ceasefire which Hamas has apparently also agreed to tonight is in no way -- would in no way preclude Israel from then continuing the bombardment, escalating it later tomorrow, or potentially moving toward the ground offensive that Netanyahu and others have been threatening. KORNACKI: You talk about that mounting sort of international pressure here. So in the event that this moves -- that Israel decides to move toward a ground invasion here, is there a sense of what the United States, what the United States government thinks of that, and if the United States government would have any leverage there in saying, yes, go ahead and do that, good idea or no, don`t do that? GEARAN: The United States does not want Israel to mount a ground offensive, and has said so, the State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said it the other day. Others have as well. But it isn`t of course the United States` decision to make, and all that President Obama or Secretary Kerry or anyone else really can do is to try to advice from the sidelines and apply the significant pressure that the United States does have, the leverage that the United States does have over Israel. And you`re starting to see that happen. For the last several days, the United States has been notably silent in not criticizing Israel in previous conflicts, notably in 2012, that criticism from Washington really started much earlier and was much louder. Now what you`re starting to hear, and I think what President Obama was prefacing there in his remarks tonight is a much more public, much larger and concerted diplomatic effort which would probably include Secretary Kerry making the rounds of those other countries that might potentially be able to help here. You saw that the offer from Egypt the other day, which was -- which quickly fell apart, the United States considers that still a live ball. And it would be possible to try to revive that and garner some additional public support in the Arab world and elsewhere, to actually make that a going concern. KORNACKI: All right. Ann Gearan, diplomatic correspondent for the "Washington Post," thank you for being here tonight, appreciate it. GEARAN: Thank you. KORNACKI: Scott Brown was the former senator from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Massachusetts. Apparently that warrants repeating. Why? Well, that`s just ahead. But first, we have one more thing about President Obama`s incredibly full plate right now when it comes to foreign policy. During that previously unscheduled appearance in the White House briefing room this afternoon, the president urged an end to the fighting between Israel and Hamas. He also announced a brand new round of sanctions against Russia. President Obama announced today that the U.S. government is imposing sanctions against two major Russian energy companies, a pair of leading Russian banks, as well as eight different Russian arms companies. Earlier in the week the White House reportedly summoned a group of European Union ambassadors to a briefing where they were shown brand new intelligence of Russian interference in eastern Ukraine. And then today came those new sanctions. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: Given its continued provocations in Ukraine, today I have approved a new set of sanctions on some of Russia`s largest companies and financial institutions. Now we are taking these actions in close consultation with our European allies who are meeting in Brussels to agree on their next steps. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: Right around the same time that President Obama spoke, leaders from the European Union announced that Europe is also now planning to ratchet up the sanctions against Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin who is traveling through South America right now told reporters that his new round of sanctions will backfire on the West and it represents, quote, a serious blow to Russia`s relationship with the United States. This new round of sanctions is being described as the toughest to date. The president indicated today that more sanctions could be coming if Russia`s interference in the Ukraine continues. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Someone went rogue on my watch. Now, listen, I`m accountable for that, and if you haven`t watched what`s been going on the last six months, I think there`s been a decent amount of accountability thrown my way and that I`ve accepted. When something like this happens, first thing is, they want to put you in cuffs and send you away. He`s got to -- he has to have known, he knew. From the beginning of this coverage he was like, he knew. Now when I turn over every e-mail, every text message, everyone gets to look at it, and it`s become clear now in six months, he didn`t know. Then they go, OK, well, gees, if we stick to that equation, then we lose, so let`s shift it to well, all right, he didn`t know, but he created an atmosphere where this type of thing was permissible. Bull. I didn`t. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: That was Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey today during an interview with CNBC`s John Harwood and he was doing what Chris Christie has become very good at doing lately. Saying that he accepts responsibility for the George Washington Bridge scandal while declaring his distance from it and doing all of it with classic Christie defiance. And clearly the governor is once again feeling his oath about his national presidential prospects. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC: So as we let you go, you`re running? (LAUGHTER) CHRISTIE: You know, it`s such a great question. (LAUGHTER) You know, I -- let me give you a different answer. Because, you know, you were obnoxious enough to ask again. So I might as well give you something. (LAUGHTER) The fact is, that you should wary of people in my opinion who are overanxious to make that decision before they need to, and by the way, it`s pretty nice to be asked, you know? Because if you really stink, they don`t ask. (LAUGHTER) You know? If you`re really awful, no one`s asking. You know, I`ve had some of my predecessors that were never asked, I can guarantee you, man. Never asked. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: So maybe Christie knew something about his presidential prospects that the national news media didn`t because, as of today, we have some pertinent information that may explain why he`s feeling so chipper. An NBC News poll out this morning that shows that while almost a third of Republicans in Iowa view Christie negatively, half of them view him positively. Iowa Governor Terry Branstad telling the "New York Times," quote, "Really, most people here have never heard of the George Washington Bridge story." And they, quote, "don`t care much about it." Governor Branstad also contending that those who have heard of the Bridgegate scandal have, quote, "moved on." And meanwhile, in New Hampshire, that other first in the nation presidential testing, an NBC poll shows that over half of Republicans in that state view Christie positively, another poll last week shows him leading all possible 2016 contenders in New Hampshire. So there`s good reason for Chris Christie`s confidence. That what happened in Fort Lee did not matter and will not matter in Des Moines or Nashua. But the mess that he so badly wants to leave behind it`s still there and it`s still roiling. Late last month, Shawn Boburg at the Bergen Record reported the state legislative committee that`s looking into Bridgegate plan to call 13 more Christie administration and Port Authority officials to call them to testify under oath before that committee in the coming months. And now the U.S. attorney for New Jersey, Paul Fishman, is conducting his own separate investigation into the lane closures. But the legislative committee`s lawyer, Reid Schar, his name, has made sure to not call witnesses unless they get the all-clear from the U.S. attorney`s office, and today, Heather Haddon, reporter with the "Wall Street Journal," reports that the U.S. attorney has asked the committee to hold off on calling nine of those potential witnesses it wanted to call, including Governor Christie`s top political strategist, Mike DuHaime, his former chief counsel Charlie McKenna, and the mayor of Ft. Lee, New Jersey, Mark Sokolich. Now Paul Fishman, the U.S. attorney, his office typically does not release any information about its ongoing investigations at all. We don`t know why the U.S. attorney would ask the legislature to not call those nine people to testify. But in any case, that report indicates that he is interested in talking to them. And it does present a new clue as to the direction of the U.S. attorney`s investigation. And tomorrow, we might learn a little bit more, too. Because the next staff member to testify before that legislative committee is Governor Christie`s incoming chief of staff, Regina Egea is her name. She was the head of the authorities unit while the Bridgegate scandal was playing out. What is still to come from the ongoing investigations in New Jersey remains a complete mystery, both for the subjects of the investigation and for the investigation`s impact on the political life of Chris Christie. Regina Egea is scheduled to testify tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time. Watch this space. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) KORNACKI: Scott Brown is in the news today for some very Scott Brownish reasons. If that name sounds a little familiar to you, but you can`t quite place it Scott Brown was elected to the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts back in 2010 and it was a genuine political shocker. A very impressive victory by Brown, that pretty much made him an overnight national political celebrity. But the thing is, when you become an overnight star in politics, or in any other field, for that matter, when you aren`t necessarily ready deal with the spotlight, or the scrutiny that comes with national renowned, it`s easy to forget or not to realize the public figure you become, which didn`t take Scott Brown that long to do. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SCOTT BROWN, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: I rely on Gale`s love and support and that of our two lovely daughters. So I want to thank Ayla and Arianna for their support as well. And just in case anybody who`s watching throughout the country, yes, they`re both available. Oh, no, no, no. No. Only kidding. Only kidding. Only kidding, only kidding. Arianna is definitely is not available, but Ayla is. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: That was his victory speech back in 2010. That was how Scott -- the Scott Brown era of national oratory started. That era lasted for the next two years until he was unseated by Elizabeth Warren in 2012. It was an era that included some other moments when Brown pretty awkwardly stepped in it. There was the time he seemed to say that he was involved in secret meetings with kings and queens, or when he suggested he was being called constantly by President Obama and Hillary Clinton for his help with legislation. And of course after he lost to Warren, he became a legend on social media with his now immortal buck whatever tweet. Now here`s the thing. When that campaign ended in 2012, when Brown lost to Warren, he was actually still very popular personally in Massachusetts. And polls show that he`d be the clear favorite if he decided to run for governor there in 2014, to run for governor this year. So it was sitting there for him, it was his for the taking. It was the logical thing to do. But it`s not what Scott Brown did. Instead, he decided to leave Massachusetts. He decided to move north to New Hampshire, to run for the Senate there, against Democrat Jeanne Shaheen. At least, I think he moved to New Hampshire because it didn`t take long for the Scott Brown moments to start up again. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BROWN: That`s the big difference between Senator Shaheen and me and many other people in the Massachusetts delegation, and Senator Shaheen in particular, the president. I`m not for amnesty and never have been. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: So it`s always best to remember which state Senate seat you`re running for. A new polling today suggests that voters in New Hampshire might appreciate that because that polling shows that Senator Shaheen is now leading Scott Brown by eight points in the race. And former Senator Brown`s campaign awkwardness goes beyond his geographic malapropism. Most recently, it involves inclusion in the (INAUDIBLE) club, the do anything to avoid a question set. Among his most notable members, we have Nevada Republican Senate candidate, Sharron Angle, whose tactic back in 2010 was just to say polite words in a parking lot. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you so much. UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can we talk about your anger? What do you mean when you say second amendment remedies? ANGLE: So thank you. UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Second amendment remedies, anything? (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: We kept asking into the parking lot, but received no answer. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Why won`t you answer what Second Amendment remedies means? Nothing at all? It`s a simple question. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: And there was also the "excuse me, senators only" move that was executed by former Kentucky senator, Jim Bunning, in the Capitol Hill elevators. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: We just wanted to ask you -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me, this is a senator only elevator. UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can I come on the elevator? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, you may not. UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you tell us why you`re blocking this vote? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I already did explain it. UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Well, what is the issue? And are you concerned about the people who are employed? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me. I`ve got to go to the floor. UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Senator, can you just explain to us why you`re holding this up? I`m sure you have an explanation. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me. UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: OK. Are you concerned about those that are going to lose their benefits? (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: And there was the sprinter view featuring Dana Bash and Michele Bachmann. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What I want to ask you about is the fact that you said that he had -- you talked about the excesses that he`s engaged in, the fact that he has a dog walker, which is not true. REP. MICHELE BACHMAN (R), MINNESOTA: The big point of my speech was about Benghazi. This was an absolute disaster. (CROSSTALK) BASH: Do you want to focus on -- BACHMANN: That`s what`s important. Do you want to talk about dog handlers, and there`s four Americans killed? BASH: But Congresswoman, you`re the one who brought it up. BACHMANN: These are Americans. BASH: You`re the one who brought it up. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: Well, New Hampshire Senate hopeful Scott Brown may have topped them all, though, going somewhere he figured he could not be cornered. A reporter for the "Guardian" newspaper writes that after trying in vain to get ahold of Brown`s public schedule, he tracked the candidate down at a restaurant. He said he wanted to ask him about his recent stance on the -- the stance on the recent Hobby Lobby ruling. That seems like a reasonable thing you`d want to know about a candidate. But, alas, Brown, according to the article, stood up, walked to the back of the diner, and then took shelter in the bathroom. Repeating here, former Senator Scott Brown, wanting to avoid a reasonable question on the campaign trail, decided to take shelter in the bathroom. One of his staffers apparently joined him in there, then shuttled the former senator away from the restaurant, thereby avoiding answering the question. As they say, any port in a storm. That does it for us tonight. Rachel`s going to be back here tomorrow night. You can catch me on my show this weekend, "UP," Saturday and Sunday mornings, 8:00 a.m. Eastern Time. And now it`s time for "THE LAST WORD." Ari Melber is sitting in for Lawrence O`Donnell tonight. Ari, take it away. ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: Thanks, Steve. I don`t know about you, but to say Scott Brown is a carpet bagger, I feel like that sometimes too sitting in for other people`s shows. KORNACKI: Yes, I feel like an impostor, too. But we got to live with it, Ari. MELBER: Have a good night, man. KORNACKI: All right. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END