The Rachel Maddow Show, Transcript 11/26/14

Guests: Wesley Lowery, Ryan Grim, Jess Bravin

CHRIS HAYES, "ALL IN" HOST: It was really upsetting. And I`ve never (AUDIO GAP) to this one. And so, I just want to say thank you, the viewer, to watching. Thank you to all the people in my family who I`m going to be with, and my daughter who turns 3 on Friday. STEVE KORNACKI, GUEST HOST: Good evening, Chris. Thanks for that thought. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. HAYES: You too. KORNACKI: And thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour. Rachel has the night off. And happy Thanksgiving Eve to all of you. So, it was at the height of the presidential race back in the summer of 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama was crisscrossing the country making a case for why he should be elected president of the United States. The American economy back then was imploding. Russia and Georgia were on the verge of war. The United States was engaged in direct talks with North Korea on the subject of nuclear disarmament. It was a very busy time in America. It was a very busy time in the world. It was a very busy time in the news business. And in the middle of all this, with all of this more swirling in the air, there was actually a moment in the middle of all this that it seemed that all anyone wanted to ask Barack Obama about was a cartoon -- a cartoon that was on the cover of a magazine called "The New Yorker." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ATHENA JONES, NBC: The upcoming issue of "The New Yorker" has a picture of you and your wife on the cover. Have you seen it? If not, I can show it to you on my computer. It shows Michelle with an Afro and an AK-47and the two you doing the fist bump with you in a sort of turban-type thing on top. I wondered if you`ve seen it or if you have a response to it? BARACK OBAMA, THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have no response to that. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: So, the title of that art on a "New Yorker" cover was the politics of fear. And that came out shortly after a FOX News commentator had wondered aloud on television, had wondered if Barack and Michelle Obama had given each other a, quote, "terrorist fist jab". So, that "New Yorker" cover captured that moment in American political and media life, the conversation that was happening in our country right then, not just in politics but the culture at large. And this is something that the cover of "The New Yorker" is good for. This was the cover of "The New Yorker" after Osama bin Laden was killed back in 2011. Even if you never read a word of the magazine, "New Yorker" covers are themselves a phenomenon. This was the cover during the glitchy and disastrous Obamacare rollout just over a year ago. When the world had discovered that Mitt Romney once strapped a dog to the roof of his car during a family trip, this is how "The New Yorker" encapsulated that bizarre story. That`s a Rick Santorum who`s on the roof of the Romney family car, by the way. After BP spilled almost 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf Coast, that was the worst oil spill in American history, here was the cover from "The New Yorker". This was the issue right after 9/11. This is what they had in their cover that week, in one of the most provocative covers in the history of the magazine was probably this. It`s the Valentine`s Day issue from 1993. This was back when New York City was grappling with some deep-seated, seemingly intractable tensions between the city`s black and orthodox Jewish populations. There had been rioting in New York City not long before this. The Crown Heights riot, there`d been violence and looting. There was simmering tension. And when this cover came out, well, it was controversial, it was poignant, it was funny, it was provocative, it`s one that more than a few people still remember and still talk about today 21 years later. And that`s what just the right cover image can do. It can stand the test of time. And so now, this week, this is the cover of the newest issue of "The New Yorker." It`s called "Broken Arch". And the artist who created this cover, his name is Bob Stack. He lived in St. Louis for 17 years, and he says that watching the news right now in his home state breaks his heart. Quote, "My hope is that the events in Ferguson will provide a bridge and opportunity for the city and also for the country to learn and to come together." Last night and into this morning people poured out on to the streets all over the country in solidarity with the folks who had been protesting in Ferguson. From New York, in Boston, to Miami, Minneapolis, Atlanta, in Portland, Oakland, L.A. -- people last night took to the streets and they marched. In many places, people used their bodies to block traffic, to close roads and highways. In Los Angeles, they blocked the highway, the 101 Highway. In New York, they stopped traffic at the Lincoln Tunnel. They closed the Brooklyn Bridge also. They blocked both highways on either side of Manhattan. For the most part, all of these protests were peaceful, although there were bursts of violence. In Oakland, California, protests grew more violent as the night wore on. People started fires, some shattered windows. They threw bricks at police officers. More than 90 people in all were arrested in Oakland as a result of those protests last evening. In Ferguson, there was some violence but the St. Louis County police chief called it a much better night last night than the night before. There were 44 arrests total that were made. And this is a live shot right now in the city of Ferguson. These are live images on Thanksgiving Eve. Right now, the streets are calm in Ferguson. You can see the National Guard here outside the Ferguson Police Department. In downtown St. Louis today there was a dramatic confrontation between protesters who had tried to make their way into city hall and police officers who said that the crowd had, quote, "made contact" with the city hall security guard and the crowd had to disperse. Some in the crowd tried to question that order. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PROTESTOR: Only because you decided that. POLICE: Only because they assaulted our city marshals and forced their way into the building. PROTESTOR: Maybe a psychotic person. Not one of us. POLICE: Well, unfortunately, sometimes -- sometimes, a bad apple ruins the whole barrel, I`m afraid. PROTESTOR: Like Darren Wilson! That`s the bad apple. POLICE: Yes, I pretty much decided it. Yes. So, now, it`s time to go. PROTESTOR: So, the guy you took -- POLICE: This is an unlawful assembly. Anybody who remains is subject to arrest and/or other actions up to and including the deployment of chemical munitions. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: Three people were arrested today during those protests in downtown St. Louis. On the ground in Ferguson, on the ground in the city of St. Louis and across the country, people have been protesting the grand jury`s decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown. But this story also is continuing to unfold in a very important way -- continuing to unfold away from the streets and away from the scenes of all those protests because when that local prosecutor announced the grand jury`s decision not to indict Wilson back on Monday night, that prosecutor also made the decision to release thousands of pages of documents, thousands of interviews, pieces of evidence that had been presented to that grand jury in this case, the grand jury that decided not to pursue a case. It`s a surprising decision. Something you basically never see. Evidence and testimony presented to a grand jury is generally not made available for the public to view. But here it was. It was made public in a flood of paper. Something like 4,700 documents in all, all released at once. So, now, people and journalists, everyone across the country it seems is combing through that stuff, trying to find some of what they`re looking for. A lot of it is jaw dropping. Today, "The Washington Post" published this piece. It`s based on the, quote, "voluminous testimony released in the aftermath of the grand jury`s decision." And "The Post" found that Officer Wilson left the scene of the shooting, he returned to the police station unescorted, washed the blood off his hands and placed his recently fired pistol into the evidence bag himself. "The Post" found that the police interviews with Officer Wilson were not taped. An investigator with the St. Louis County medical examiner`s office opted not to take measurements at the scene of the shooting. He said it was, quote, "self-explanatory what had happened there." And that same investigator was the one whose battery died in his camera and this is why he was not able to take any pictures at the scene of the shooting. And instead, he had to rely on pictures taken by the police department. This in a shooting investigation involving a police officer. Also, according to "The Washington Post", there was no police officer back at the police station to take a photograph of Officer Wilson before he washed the blood off his hands. When asked if it was common practice to let someone involved in a shooting incident like this handle and package evidence himself, like his own gun, a detective testified that it was not customary to do that and the St. Louis County Police Department, but that he didn`t know about Ferguson. And there are lots of revelations in this "Washington Post" story. We know about them only because these reporters at "The Post" have spent the past few days combing through all this material, all of that information released by the prosecutor, finding all the relevant information, the context that we need to understand what happened here, not just during the shooting, but in its aftermath. How this was handled by law enforcement after the shooting happened. This story continues to unfold. It continues on the streets. It continues in and around Ferguson. It continues all around this country. And it is also now in the hands of reporters or anyone else, for that matter, who wants to pore over any or all of the documents we have in this case. For better or worse, we have all of that information publicly available. When people have started digging into it, what they found so far has been fascinating. Joining us now from Ferguson is Wesley Lowery. He`s been covering the events there for "The Washington Post." Wesley, thanks for being with us tonight. Well, let me just start. I mean, the scene behind you now looks, compared to the past two nights, positively tranquil. In terms of the law enforcement presence there tonight, the National Guard presence and protesters and their presence, what are we looking at in a wider area around you right now? WESLEY LOWERY, THE WASHINGTON POST: Of course, it`s a very calm night so far tonight in Ferguson. It`s been a very calm tranquil day. Right now, there`s a quiet memorial happening at the site where Michael Brown was killed. This, in fact, has been a moving memorial. It started at the site in Shaw in St. Louis where Vonderrit Myers was killed in October. It moved to the site of Jimmy Powell, another police shooting that happened eight days after Mike Brown and they`ve now arrived at Canfield. In some ways, things are very, very calm here today. We`re not seeing massive protests outside the police department. We`re not seen a massive protest presence at the site of the Brown shooting. The National Guard remain here guarding the police department and kind of keeping a watchful eye over the protester, but very calm. KORNACKI: So, let me ask you about this story in your paper, in "The Washington Post", about all of these -- wherever you want to call them, errors, oversights, omissions. You have the officer himself, Darren Wilson who basically packaged his own evidence. You don`t have measurements being taken at the crime scene. When you add all these together, is there reason to think or reason to suspect it had all of the proper or normal protocols been followed here, that maybe there would have been more for this grand jury to look at, for this prosecutor to look at that could have resulted in a prosecution? LOWERY: What we know is that there`s certainly -- there`s certainly pieces of evidence that no longer exist. You know, we`re led to believe that Darren Wilson had blood on his hands, on his arms, but that was washed off. A big issue in the months since the shooting has been how far away was Michael Brown`s body from Darren Wilson and from Darren Wilson`s cruiser because so much of this narrative is Brown running away and either turning around and surrendering or turning around and charging. The medical examiner took no measurements. And again, I think that no matter what you believe happened in this altercation between Brown and Darren Wilson, I think most reasonable people are willing to raise an eyebrow at the idea that Darren Wilson after discharging his weapon a dozen times at Michael Brown and shooting and killing him, then continued to handle the weapon use to kill Michael Brown. In any other type of shooting, that would be beyond the realm of belief that -- you know, Steve, if I were to shoot you, that I would then have access to the weapon after the police arrive for more than an hour to do who knows what with. KORNACKI: And that particular issue there with the gun, that seems sort of central to the conflicting versions of events we`ve heard here because the case of Officer Wilson, correct me if I`m wrong here, that there was a struggle and Michael Brown had his hands on the gun at one point. So, if you could fingerprint that gun, you could probably corroborate that story or find out if it`s not true. LOWERY: Well, exactly. Michael Brown not only had his hands on the gun but was so strong he had control over the weapon. Well, that would lead most reasonable people to believe that there might be some type of DNA evidence on that gun. Fingerprints, DNA, according to the grand jury transcripts that my colleagues and myself have pored over, the police had a choice. They could either test for DNA or they could test for fingerprints. They could only do one of them. They couldn`t do both. They chose a test for DNA. However, at no point in the transcripts for the grand jury does McCulloch or the other prosecutors present what the findings of those testings were. So, what we know is that the gun was tested for Michael Brown`s DNA but we have no clue if his DNA was found on the gun. That would seem to be a crucial piece of evidence one way or the other. KORNACKI: Wesley, very quickly here. Is there -- look, this is a town -- we say city a lot. But there`s just 20,000 people. This is not the biggest metropolis in the world. LOWERY: One homicide a year. KORNACKI: Yes. I mean, is this the sort of thing where we could look at all these flaws and basically say, you know what, they never deal with this kind of thing. Everybody was kind of making it up on the fly and this is what`s going to happen. LOWERY: I think if we watch at how the police here handle many elements, whether it`d be it the crowd control, whether it`d be the initial investigation, whether it`d be the movement of the body that day, we can see that this was in a lot of ways, a situation they weren`t quite prepared for. That said St. Louis County police had a lot to do with this investigation. Ferguson PD handed it over to them on the first day, within the first hour. St. Louis County police handled a lot of homicides, a lot of shootings. So, I think there are some reasonable questions here that can`t necessarily be explained away by, oh, this is a small town suburb somewhere, they don`t know what to do. KORNACKI: All right. Wesley Lowery, Washington Post" reporter covering events in Ferguson -- thanks for your time. Happy Thanksgiving to you. LOWERY: Happy Thanksgiving to you, too, Steve. KORNACKI: All right. We have a lot more ahead tonight, including some much needed good news out of Ferguson. We`re now officially also on White House veto watch. Details on that, ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) KORNACKI: So, I want to show you something. This right here -- this is my very first library card. It`s the Groton Public Library. Groton, Massachusetts, not Groton, Connecticut. I`ve had it since I was 8 years old. I carry it in my wallet everywhere I go, mostly because I never throw anything in my wallet out. And actually, if you go on the Web site for the Groton Public Library, it reads up in the corner, "Groton Public Library, open to all." That`s the thing about libraries they`re there for everyone in the community. For anyone in the community, for you, for me, for everyone. And right now, about 1,100 miles southwest of Groton, Massachusetts, the Ferguson, Missouri Municipal Library, is doing just that and more. Trust me, you`re going to want to hear this story. The good news out of Ferguson, that`s next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) KORNACKI: So, yesterday was anything but a normal run of the mill day in Ferguson, Missouri. Protests against the grand jury decision in the Michael Brown shooting case had turned violent overnight. Many businesses were shuttered. They called off school yesterday for most of the kids in Ferguson. It was supposed to be a shortened week anyway because of the Thanksgiving holiday. But now, that short school week would be even shorter. School kids often end up essentially as innocent bystanders when it comes to situations like this, when school has to be canceled because of something unrelated happening in a community. But in Ferguson, up with of the city`s institutions has stepped up to help. This is the Ferguson Municipal Library which is located on Florissant Road, right in the heart of the city`s downtown. It`s just down the road in fact from the Ferguson Police Department where a lot of the action the last two nights has been centered. Now, yesterday, after the worst of the unrest, Ferguson library made a point of being open. They tweeted out early in the morning that they would be open all day with Wi-Fi, water, rest and knowledge. Library staff was in place at 9:00 a.m. with over 50 volunteers, 50 parents, teachers, retired folks, all of them pitching in to help giving out free lunches to school kids, even having story time for some of the younger kids. The library held what they call an ad hoc school day. This is all something they did for an entire week back in August after the Ferguson school district delayed the start of their school year because of the protests on the streets back then. Back then and now, the library invited teachers to come in. And they spread the word to parents around town whose kids couldn`t go into school. And so, yesterday, the library also opened its doors to local businesses. Staffers from the Missouri secretary of state`s office were on hand to help business owners organize and preserve records for any of the damage they might have suffered this week. And then, today, the library made space for the Missouri Department of Insurance to help businesses file insurance claims. The library`s director Scott Bonner told us that the library stayed open as late as they thought was safe on Monday. That was on the night of the decision from the grand jury. But the library kept their doors open right up to 8:00 p.m., moments before the grand jury announcement. And he made the decision to open the library the next morning so there would be a place for the community to gather and to collect themselves. And this is just what libraries are supposed to do. That`s what the Ferguson library director told us when we called him. He said this is what they exist for, staying open during this weeks` turmoil in his words was, quote, "nothing different in kind." The regular schools in Ferguson remain closed next week means the Ferguson library is going to keep their ad hoc school going as well. This is going to keep right on. And here`s the thing -- just by being open this week, by doing pretty much what they do every day, by doing it amidst incredible upheaval in the larger community, by doing that the Ferguson Library made a difference, not just for people in Ferguson but the people around the country. In the Web site for the Ferguson Library, you can find a donation button that was added this summer when people around the country asked how they could help out. And now, in the last two days, 7,000 people have all across the United States have clicked to make donations. Staff of the library told us that most gave small amounts, maybe $5, maybe $10. People gave what they could. They didn`t just give money. Also from all over the country, people are sending books, college kids in Olympia, Washington, made bookmarks. They sent them in the mail to the library. The staff at the Ferguson Library say they have been staggered by the outpour of support. In fact that it`s been so enormous, they might now be able to hire another full- time employee, another full-time employee, because right now, they only have one. Back in August, the Ferguson Library put up this sign, quote, "During difficult times, the library is a quiet oasis where we can catch our breath, learn and think about what to do next. Please help keep our oasis peaceful and serene." And today, that sign is still up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) KORNACKI: So, on the week of Thanksgiving back in 1998, ABC News took a poll and asked Americans about their Thanksgiving plans that year. And specifically, they asked Americans about Thanksgiving dinner and they gave them two choices. Who would you rather play host to for dinner, Monica Lewinsky or Ken Starr? Now, remember this was 1998. Congress was just getting ready to impeach Bill Clinton after he lied about an affair with a White House intern. So, ABC wanted to know, who would you rather share turkey and cranberry sauce with? That White House intern Monica Lewinsky, or the independent counsel whose investigation had turned up evidence of the affair, Kenneth Starr. And the answer from the American people was a resounding neither -- 32 percent said Lewinsky, 32 percent said Starr, and 35 percent insisted on a third option, they didn`t want to spend anytime with neither one of them. And that`s one of the fun things about the holiday season. You get polls like this and every now and then they make you laugh. "The Huffington Post" Web site today rounded up some of the best Thanksgiving polls from the last few decades. Like this one. So, "Washington Post"/ABC News poll from Thanksgiving week back in 1993, that`s the very first year of Bill Clinton`s presidency. The poll asked people what they were thankful for in their lives. Topping that list that year, 99 percent of Americans said they were thankful for their family. Not much of a surprise there. That was number one on the list. And tied for number one, also coming in at 99 percent was freedom of religion. People saying they were thankful for that. Ninety-seven percent said they were thankful for freedom of the press. That`s something we appreciate, 95 percent said thankful for their television. Then, check this out, look what came in next, look what came in right after family, religion, the press and television, look what was next on the list of what Americans were thankful for back in 1993. You`ll never guess. It`s Congress. Seventy-seven percent of Americans that year, more than three out of every four said they were either very thankful or somewhat thankful for Congress. How do people feel about Congress today? This is from the Gallup Poll that was just released after this midterm election. Congress clocking in with a 15 percent approval rating. Fifteen percent, and actually, that is up from its approval rating at this same time last year when it was down in single digits such as 9 percent. So, those kinds of numbers, 15 percent, 9 percent, numbers far below the 77 percent who were thankful for Congress just two decades ago, that helps to explain why on the eve of Thanksgiving 2014, the world gets to watch this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I take about eight quarts of water, half a dozen bay leaves, kosher salt, a little palmful of peppercorns, take a big head of garlic, cut it in half. And the real secret, 16 ounces of pure maple syrup. I put it in a pot and bring it to where it`s about to boil and turn it off. Take a bucket, put a bag in there, put the turkey in there after I rinse it off, put the brine over it. Brine has to be cool. Put it outside if it`s cold enough or put it in the refrigerator for about 24 hours. Take it out, rinse it off, first half of the cooking time I cook the bird breast down, and then halfway through I go in and literally pick it and turn it over. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: That`s House Speaker John Boehner brining a turkey in a video released today by his office. That`s the kind of thing the leaders in an institution that`s universally detested as Congress will go to do in an effort to try to forge some kind of connection with everyday Americans. Maybe if they see John Boehner brining a turkey, maybe they`ll see him as more as a person than a politician from an institution they hate. But there`s also this motive. Boehner and his party need as many Americans on their side as they can get right now because they`re essentially at war with President Obama, and that war is about to kick up yet another notch to a brand new level that we haven`t seen before in the last six years. That story is next. Stay with us. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BOEHNER: Now, I only cook my bird to 160 max. Then I take it out, put foil over it, let it sit for at least an hour. It`s the resting time that really works. (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) KORNACKI: OK. Chart imitates life. This is one of Rachel`s favorite segments. Since I`m sitting in for her, I`m going to steal it for the night. Now, last week, one of the bigger stories in American politics was the U.S. Senate voting on the Keystone XL pipeline, specifically on a bill to approve construction of that pipeline. Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu`s bill needed 60 votes to pass. It didn`t get them. It came up one vote short. It got just 59. Now, ordinarily, that would be a huge deal. There`s been years of buildup for a Keystone vote. There it was finally, on the floor of the Senate last week, and it was defeated by just one vote. So, a major dramatic moment -- at least you`d think. But here`s the thing: that vote was just delaying the inevitable because Republicans won control of the Senate in this month`s midterm elections, and once they officially take over control of the chamber in January, and you can bet that they`re going to hold a brand new vote on Keystone. Then, at that time, they will actually have those 60 votes they need to pass. And then when that happens, it will mean a showdown with the president, because President Obama has been very clear about the fact that he doesn`t support this legislation. Right before that vote last week, here`s what White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest had to say about it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: That`s certainly is a piece of legislation that the president doesn`t support because the president believes that this is something that should be determined through the State Department and the regular process that is in place to evaluate projects like this. But again, I`m not in a position to issue veto threats here, but as you rightly point out, there are similar pieces of legislation that have been introduced in this Congress where the president`s senior advisers have recommended a veto. (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: President`s senior advisers have recommended a veto. That`s a veto threat. So, had the Keystone pipeline bill gotten just one more vote in the Senate, the bill would have passed, it would have gone to Obama`s desk and he`d be getting ready to take out his pen and officially veto it. Now comes this -- congressional negotiators from both parties are working on a new tax cut deal. Yesterday as details of that deal emerged, the White House issued another veto threat. Now, details from the supposedly pending deal include permanent tax breaks for corporations, no permanent tax breaks for low income families. So, that is two vetoes threatened by the White House in the course of just two weeks. And if that feels like it`s something new, two veto threats in two weeks, something we haven`t heard before in the last six year, the words "Obama" and "veto" being used in the same sentence, if it feels that way, it`s for good reason, because that is the case. Take a look at this. These are the total number of votes from each of the previous 12 presidents. This is more than 80 years of presidential veto history right here in this chart. "The USA Today" actually keeps these numbers on their Web site. So, way over there on the left, that is FDR. He holds the veto crown, the all time veto crown was 635. That number is so huge we couldn`t fit the bar on this graph. FDR broke the chart. And I guess that`s what`s going to happen when you get elected four times and you serve more than 12 years as president. Then after FDR, you got Harry Truman, and Dwight Eisenhower, and the numbers start to drop. They start to dwindle down nearly the double digits. Nixon had 43 vetoes, about five years. Clinton issued 37 in eight years. And then, check this out. This is the total number of vetoes so far for President Obama. Look at that, two, two lonely little vetoes in six years as president. That is it. One of those was on mortgage notarization bill, the other on a spending bill. If you`re squinting to even see the bar for Obama`s two vetoes on the screen, I think we can zoom in a thousand times and maybe help you see it. There you go. That is it. You can see it right there. President Obama has the fewest number of vetoes of any modern president, and that is by far. Ronald Reagan had 78 vetoes over his eight years in office, Bush Sr. had 44 in four years, and Obama has only two. But here`s the thing about the two tiny vetoes, they`re about to get a lot of company in the next two years because that count will explode as soon as January comes and Republicans, for the first time since Obama became president, Republicans official take control of both houses of Congress. When they do that in January, they will start to send bills to the president`s desk. Bills that in many cases he`s not going to like. He`ll probably start with the Keystone pipeline or taxes or something on healthcare, where it ends, how he`ll deal with it all -- well, that`s a big story to be watching for the next two years. And to give a preview of it, let`s bring in Ryan Grim. He`s the Washington, D.C. bureau chief for "The Huffington Post". Ryan, thanks for joining us tonight. So, let me just start with. We talked about it for a second there. The word that was leaking yesterday of this supposed deal on tax cuts between Harry Reid, the top Democrat in the Senate, and Republicans, this thing that prompted the White House to issue a veto threat. No surprise the White House would have issues with something Republicans are trying to do. But Harry Reid`s potential involvement, the potential involvement of Democrats in this, can you tell us what`s going on here? RYAN GRIM, HUFFINGTON POST: What it seems like happened is that word leaked out before the deal had finally been reached and Republicans may have had certain motivations to get that out, to try to maybe box in what the gains they made in the negotiations so far. But then White House did what it hasn`t done much in the past, which is come out and, like you said, issue that veto threat. In the past, they used to say, well, we`re not really going to, you know, comment on whether we`re going to veto a bill until it passes one of the chambers or not. Now, here they are issuing a threat just based on some leaks and possibly some inaccurate leaks because the talks are actually still ongoing. So, what`s happening here? Why is the White House doing this? One of the theories that Senate Democrats are kicking around is that they think that the president might actually want to veto these tax extenders so that they get punted into the next year and so, they can be done as a big package together with corporate tax reform. If you get these extenders done, then K Street and New York doesn`t really have that much of a motivation to do corporate tax reform. If you still have to get these extenders done, then there`s a reason. And as we all know, Obama has been chasing this white whale of a big deal where he can sit down with McConnell and Boehner and hash out some piece of legislation for his entire six years, and the thinking is maybe he wants to try again for his seventh year. KORNACKI: Yes. Let`s talk about how that`s going to play out. So, in January, the big difference is the story since 2011, since Republicans got the House, is somebody gets out of the Republican House, it dies in the Democratic Senate and never gets to President Obama`s desk. Now, there`s at least the opportunity for Republicans maybe with the help of a handful of Democrats to get something through the Senate, get it on Obama`s desk, put him in the position of having to decide it. So, we can talk about the Keystone pipeline here. let`s say that gets to his desk in January. He said he wants to veto it. It also gives him the opportunity to do some bargaining if he wants to. Are there things that we`re getting signs from the White House they would be willing to give up, to trade, to take in exchange for putting his signature on like the Keystone pipeline? GRIM: I think that`s right. You`re going to see a kind of game played where Republicans, with a couple of conservative Democrats are going to pass a few talking point type bills. Keystone is going to be one of them. That will get through the House, it will get through the Senate like you said, then he will veto that. And then, the real negotiations start. Now, he has vetoed it. They can go back home and say they passed Keystone, now, they`re going to sit down and say, OK, well, what kind of renewable energy credits can we throw in with Keystone, what do you want? We`ll back off your ozone rule, back off the carbon rules. You know, whatever it is, I don`t know if there are enough incentives that Republicans can put in with Keystone at this point to get him to sign it, but it becomes the kind of chip that he can put on the table. KORNACKI: Yes. I mean, is it something -- we`re talking more specifically about energy policy there, though. Could he broaden it out? I mean, minimum wage is something he`s been talking about for a couple of years now. Could he get minimum wage combined with something like this? GRIM: I mean, theoretically, he could. But you have to think about the lobbies that are involved here. And in order to get the green groups to sign off on something like this, they`re going to want green stuff. You know, they`re sympathetic to the minimum wage as much as anybody else is, you know, but they have their own constituencies, an awful hard sell to them to say, you know, give up this thing you`ve been calling game over for the planet in order to get minimum wage or more subsidies for exchanges or, you know, whatever it might be. The kind of constituent politics come into play there. But theoretically, it would certainly be possible. KORNACKI: It`s interesting. A brand new dynamic years seven and eight of the Obama presidency, we`ll be dealing with something brand new in Washington. Anyway, Ryan Grim, Washington, D.C. bureau chief of "The Huffington Post", thanks for joining us tonight. Happy Thanksgiving to you. GRIM: And you too. KORNACKI: All right. Still ahead tonight, I get to live out one of my lifelong dreams on live television. I don`t know if this is going to work. You know what? It`s going to work because we want it to work. We want to give a try. That`s straight ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You`ve become something of a social media rock star. All of you, after this lecture, should go out and look at the blog, the notorious -- RUTH BADER GINSBURG, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: Tumblr. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kempler (ph). (APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) KORNACKI: You got that? It`s a Tumblr, not a blog, the Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the star of the Notorious RBG. That`s what it`s called. It features the Notorious RBG jack-o-lantern, features kids dressed up like the Supreme Court justice. Also recently, John Oliver`s HBO show "Last Week Tonight" offered footage of the nine Supreme Court justices as dogs. So there you can see the Chihuahua version of Ruth Bader Ginsburg if you want. Ruth Bader Ginsburg was appointed to the court by Bill Clinton back in 1993, 21 years ago now. She`s survived two separate battles with cancer. Just a few years after joining the court, she had cancer surgery. She returned without missing a hearing. She works out twice a week with a personal trainer. Supposedly she can do 20 military push-ups. That`s 20 real push-ups. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is the longest serving liberal on the Supreme Court right now. There`s a bloc of four liberals on the court. She has been there the longest of them. Last month, the court`s five-member conservative majority decided to let the controversial voter ID law in Texas stand, and that ruling was published. It was published along with a fierce dissent that was written by Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It was published at 5:00 in the morning, 5:00 a.m. on a Saturday. That means that Ruth Bader Ginsburg had stayed up all night Friday night that early Saturday morning writing that dissent. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is passionate. She`s strong and she`s also 81 years old. Because time is time and humans are mortal, she knows that people wonder when she might step down. And some difficult political realities go along with that speculation. She got asked about it directly back in September. An interview for "Elle" magazine said, quote, "I`m not sure how to ask this, but a lot of people who admire and respect you wonder if you`ll resign while President Obama is in office?" And the answer came back from Justice Ginsburg, "Who do you think President Obama could appoint at this very day given the boundaries that we have? If I resign any time this year, he could not successfully appoint anyone I would like to see in the court." She said she feels strong. She said she`s not stepping down any time soon. That was September. That was before the election. That was back when Democrats still controlled the Senate. Democratic majority evaporated with the elections this month. And come January, Republicans are going to control the Senate, and because they control the Senate, it means they`re going to control the process for picking nominees for the federal bench, for the Supreme Court. Already, the elections have put Ruth Bader Ginsburg tenure on the court in a new light. And then we got this morning`s news. During her routine workout yesterday, Ruth Bader Ginsburg felt a little discomfort as a spokesman for the court described it. She went to the hospital where doctors put a stent in her right coronary artery. That`s a way of keeping the blood flowing through that artery. The Supreme Court today released a statement saying that Ginsburg is resting comfortably and expects to be released from the hospital in the next 48 hours. Now, if this story plays out as everyone hopes, it means, Ruth Bader Ginsburg will return back home soon. She`ll be back on her feet in no time, back at work. Maybe she`ll do that with all the anxious eyes of the nation`s liberals willing her to long and lasting health, because this story does raise an uncomfortable subject. The window for trying to replace her under a Democratic Senate and Democratic president -- excuse me, a Democratic Senate has now pretty much closed. What follows now is a path that is, at best, uncertain for any nominee for President Obama, whether it`s for the high court or a federal bench or his new pick for attorney general. Joining us is now Jess Bravin. He`s the Supreme Court correspondent for "The Wall Street Journal." Jess, thanks for being with us tonight. So, let me ask you if there had been -- we had that quote from Ruth Bader Ginsburg which seemed pretty ironclad back in September, saying, "Look, right now, I don`t like who he could appoint." I don`t imagine she`s reassessed anything since the November elections. But have there been any indications from her more recently on this subject? JESS BRAVIN, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: No, it`s been the same story for the past couple years. I mean, there have been a few liberal law professor and others who suggested that she retire strategically, create an opening that President Obama could then fill. She`s not been interested in doing that. And she`s made it clear she intends to stay on as long as her health allows. And now, of course, with her hospitalization today, we`ve got to -- you know, wonder how long does that allow, you know? Her colleague John Paul Stevens retired at age 90 and is still going strong. So, that question remains open. All we know is she wants to stay on as long as she says she can do the job. KORNACKI: Yes. And, look, obviously, everybody wishes her nothing but the best of health and in the longest possible life, but there is this nightmare scenario for Democrats here where, for whatever reason, if Ruth Bader Ginsburg, you know, is forced involuntarily to leave the court and there`s a Republican president, that means the most liberal justice on the court would then be replaced by presumably a conservative Republican president. Do you agree with her assessment that if she were to have resigned this year or in the past two years, that the president could not have appointed a successor comparable to her in ideology? BRAVIN: Well, it`s -- you know, it`s hard to say, because it depends on how much of an issue the Republican minority would have made an Obama nominee. I mean, over -- the past four Supreme Court nominees have had pretty close to party line votes. Both Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito were opposed by half or most Democrats when they were appointed by President Bush. Most Republicans opposed Justice Sotomayor and Justice Kagan, President Obama`s two appointees in his first term. What would happen now when the president is in a weaker position and Republicans are eager to try to fill that slot? Hard to say. They might an older nominee who they think might not serve as long. There -- you know, all kinds of questions. But one point to keep in mind is that judicial appointments, particularly Supreme Court appointments seem to matter a lot more to the Republican base than they have to the Democratic base politically. It`s a much bigger issue for Republicans than it is for the Democrats. And because Republicans care so much more about these vacancies, it`s quite likely they would make a big deal about it in the Senate. KORNACKI: Do you -- do you think they would appreciate any difference between -- if Ruth Bader Ginsburg were to resign, and President Obama is in office. she`s a liberal, he`d appoint a liberal, the court stays balanced versus, like, you know, if Scalia were to go, there`s a conservative and he`s replacing with a liberal, then the balance of the court changes. Would that factor into their -- how they posture on this? BRAVIN: Absolutely yes. I think they would give President Obama somewhat more leeway were it Justice Ginsburg or one of the other three more liberal members of the court who step down. But if it were one of the five conservative, I would expect the Republicans to fight very hard to either keep that vacancy open until the next president takes off or insist on some kind of compromise nominee or conservative that Obama would find acceptable. It becomes a question of how much effort the White House wants to put into these battles, as opposed to many other battles he`s going to have in the remainder of his term. KORNACKI: All right. Jess Bravin, Supreme Court correspondent for "The Wall Street Journal", thanks for your time tonight. Have a great Thanksgiving. BRAVIN: Of course. You too, Steve. KORNACKI: All right. Coming up, we will give you your holiday travel forecast. It`s going to come with a twist because I`m doing the weather. It`s going to be great, trust me. This is vital information. You`re not going to want to miss it. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) KORNACKI: All right. Tell me if you can spot a pattern here. This is 2004. "Wild weather disrupts travel plans." That was a day before Thanksgiving 2004. This is 2005. "Weather threatens to continue to disrupt holiday travel." A day before Thanksgiving in 2005. Then in 2006, "Storm, floods hammer millions of Americans making Thanksgiving trek." 2007, day before Thanksgiving, "A sour Thanksgiving recipe: Record travel, possible storm." 2008, here`s a change. The weather was actually fine in 2008. And then, well, then right back in 2009, "Thanksgiving storm on the way." 2010, "Storm messes with Thanksgiving travel plans." 2011, "Weather delays wreak havoc on Thanksgiving travel." 2012, "Snow, wind may cause more Thanksgiving travel headaches." And then last year, 2013, hey, look, more of the same, "Weather walloping East Coast as 43 million travel for Thanksgiving." I think this is what you call a pattern. Every year, the day before Thanksgiving, the biggest single travel day of the entire year, every year now for more than a decade, every single year, except in 2008, a giant storm seems to arrive just in time to turn everyone`s travel plans into a total and complete nightmare. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS) REPORTER: It was a miserable travel day for millions of Americans on the move for Thanksgiving. REPORTER: Forecasters predict that by tonight, some of the rain we`re seeing north and west of where we are here in Newark will be turning into sleet and snow. Of course, the concern is, what it`s going to do to heavy Thanksgiving travel? Bad timing. REPORTER: For some holiday travelers, getting to Thanksgiving dinner is not going to be easy. There`s a real mess in the middle of the country. Rain, ice and snow hit parts of the planes and upper Midwest Wednesday. REPORTER: The rush is on. The Thanksgiving travel crunch is under way and two powerful storm systems are already having a big impact on the roads and airports nationwide. AL ROKER: You can see snow wrapping around this system. So, we`re gong to be looking at wind gusts tomorrow morning about 50 miles an hour, which are going to wreak havoc with the airports from Washington, New York, Boston, Philadelphia. (END VIDEO CLIPS) KORNACKI: Every single year it`s like this, on this day. And so, naturally, it`s happening again right now. The Thanksgiving travel curse is back, and it is worse than ever. And to show you exactly what we`re up against here, we decided it`s time to dust off our favorite election season gadget, the big board, you remember this thing? We`re going to repurpose it now, so that I can step into the role I wanted to play since I watch Dick Albert on Channel 5 in Boston doing the weather. So, I`m going to get to play TV weatherman here. I think one more thing to make this a complete reenactment. We need the weather ticker. Can we get that at the bottom of screen here? Call that up. There it is. There`s the weather ticker. This is officially now TV weather center. We`re going to call it the storm center, is that what it is? So this is the storm as it has progressed through the day, moving up into the mid-Atlantic. Right now, the last of the storm, the worst of the storm still in northern New England. There are thousands without power in Maine. This thing has left snow on the ground in some places, ice on the ground in other places frazzled travelers everywhere. So, that`s the trajectory of the storm. You can see. Now, let`s take a look at what kind of snowfall we`re talking about here. You can see the brunt of the storm right there, central New Hampshire, look out Concord, look out Lake Winnipesauke. You could be getting up to a foot of snow. Albany, New York, there you see, close to a foot. So, that`s the heart of it in there in Central New England. Let`s see what you`re looking at tomorrow. Quickly, what kind of a Thanksgiving forecast. A lit bill of snow in the morning in Maine, otherwise just cold temperatures. So, much better tomorrow. And a happy Thanksgiving forecast for most of the country. That does it for us tonight. I`m going to see you on my weekend show "UP" this weekend. And now, it is time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL." Good evening to you, Lawrence. THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END