IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 01/21/15

Guests: Robert Reich, David Axelrod, Phyllis Bennis, Peter Welch, AnnLouise Bardach, Molly Redden

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel. We`re going to have full details on why John Boehner took down that bill -- RACHEL MADDOW, "TRMS" HOST: Oh, good. O`DONNELL: -- that he planned to have a vote on tomorrow, that restrictive abortion bill. It turns out, Rachel, that just yesterday, two women, Republican women in the House of Representatives, withdrew their co- sponsorship of the bill. I had a great script written for this in the show, which we now have to throw out, because it`s breaking news. MADDOW: Fascinating development. Good luck with it, Lawrence. Thank you. O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel. And also in tonight`s show, the real work of normalizing relations with Cuba will begin tomorrow in Havana. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re having a new revolution. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This new era begins today. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The historic day in Cuba. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Set to begin negotiations tomorrow to normalize relations. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Highest level talk with Cuba in 35 years. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When what you`re doing doesn`t work for 50 years, it`s time to try something new. SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), TEXAS: He should have tried telling that to the Cuban government. JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: What we are doing with respect to Cuba is not a reward for anything. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hoping that tomorrow`s talk will pave the way for Secretary of State Kerry to come. KERRY: I look forward to traveling to Cuba. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s unlikely that the embargo will be lifted anytime soon. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Time for me to be optimistic about this Congress, doing something that sensible and practical. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Or not damaging. The elite, (INAUDIBLE) to poor people. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is a lot of history to overcome. OBAMA: We are ending a policy that was long past its expiration date. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The word we keep hearing is esperanza, "hope." UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Americans come into Cuba, it`s a revolution. We`ve been waiting for this. (END VIDEOTAPE) O`DONNELL: Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson arrived in Cuba to begin talks tomorrow on normalizing relations with Cuba. She will discuss opening a Cuba embassy in Washington, D.C. and an American embassy in Havana, as well as banking issues, mail service and expanding trail between the two countries. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: With Cuba, we are ending a policy that was long past its expiration date. (APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: The president, of course, does not have the legal authority to fully dismantle the United States embargo on Cuba, which was finally actually signed into a law by President Bill Clinton in one of the most misguided and weakest moments of the Clinton presidency. Because completely removing the embargo requires legal action, just one senator, like Florida Republican Marco Rubio, might be able to stop that. Last night the president asked Congress to do the right thing. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: When what you`re doing doesn`t work for 50 years, it`s time to try something new. (APPLAUSE) And our shift in Cuba policy has the potential to end a legacy of mistrust in our hemisphere. It removes a phony excuse for restrictions in Cuba, stands up for democratic values and extends a hand of friendship to the Cuban people. And this year, Congress should work on ending the embargo. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: In United States Senate, a governing majority requires 60 percent, and 60 percent of the American public is with the president on this one. Joining me now from Havana, Cuba, is CNBC`s Eamon Javers. Eamon, what is the situation there tonight? What do you anticipate tomorrow? EAMON JAVERS, CNBC: Well, Lawrence, it was a big day here today in Cuba. Obviously, with the arrival of this American delegation, the highest level of delegation to arrive in Cuba for 38 years. But tomorrow, we think, we have a much bigger day. Today, what they were talking about is sort of the normal migration talks that exist on an ongoing basis between the United States and Cuba. Tomorrow, they get into the nitty-gritty of renormalizing relations, and that`s when they talk about diplomats and whether American diplomats will be able to travel, and whether or not, ultimately, the United States will be able to reopen its embassy here, which has been closed since the early 1960s. O`DONNELL: Eamon, there was that sort of appendage to the story where a Russian spy ship, as we call it, found its way into Havana harbor. JAVERS: Yes. It was a spy ship not too far from where we`re sitting, in Havana harbor is right here, off of the downtown Havana. And we went over there to take a look at it. It is a Vishnya class Soviet era 1980s Russian navy ship. It is here on active duty. The Russians say it`s here not to send any particular signal. They`re not trying to step on the U.S. visit to Cuba. They`re just here on normal operations. We went down and try to get on the ship and talk to some of the Russian sailors. Security stopped us there. But I can tell you that it looked like a normal day there on the ship. We saw the Russian sailors actually meeting with members of their family who had flown in from Russia to visit them. A lot of these sailors have been out to sea for a year or more. This is the first time for the families to be reunited with their loved ones on board. So, it looked normal operations today. But, obviously, it went very well noticed here in Havana that the Russian ship was here. O`DONNELL: Eamon, quickly before you go, in your reporting for CNBC -- of course, you have a lot of knowledge of what`s going on in the business community`s reaction to that. And it seems there`s a lot of support in the business community. JAVERS: Yes, you saw an immediate reaction from U.S. Chamber of Commerce. American business wants access to the Cuban market. They want to do business here, particularly in the travel and tourism sectors. They think there`s money to be made here. A lot of Americans who want to come down here. As of now, there are 12 categories now opened for American travelers. A lot of those categories weren`t open before. Ultimately, though, we could be talking about billions of dollars of new business for American and Cuban businesses. And I can tell you with the level of poverty that you see on the ground here in Havana, they really need some influx of capital here pause there`s a lot of improvement that needs to be made here in Havana. O`DONNELL: Thanks, Eamon. Joining us now, Democratic Congressman Peter Welch. He was part of the congressional delegation that went to Cuba. And Cuba expert, Ann Louise Bardach, who has interviewed Fidel Castro and is the author of "Without Fidel". Congressman Welch, what is your reaction to what the president had to say last night? REP. PETER WELCH (D), VERMONT: I think it was great. You know, Senator Rubio may not like normalizing relations, but having spent three days in Cuba, the Cuban people are really excited. I mean, we spent 2 1/2 days walking around Cuba, interacting with Cubans all over Havana, and they where are so excited. They saw our Cuban-American flag lapel pin and came up to talk to us. And there`s a great deal of excitement there. The second thing is, the argument that the opponents are making is that this is a reward to Castro. It`s, in fact, a threat to Castro. I mean, you have trade, you have travel, you have transportation, you have interaction, you have open Internet. This is the dynamic that has to get going in order for the Cuban people to have a shot at opening up that society and having a more democratic government. So, I can see why Senator Rubio is against it. But the Cuban people clearly are quite excited about it. O`DONNELL: Ann, why now -- you know the Castro approach to government, having spent real-time with Fidel, why did the Castro brothers come around now? ANN LOUISE BARDACH, AUTHOR, "WITHOUT FIDEL": Because they had to. They had no choice. Their biggest ally is Venezuela, which their -- Maduro, the president, is in a very wobbly condition there. They didn`t know if they had years, or months or even weeks with Venezuela, which provides a huge economic subsidy to the island of Cuba, 100,000 barrels of oil every day. And the laundry list goes on and on which they have helped them with. China, not available really to be a patron. The Russian ruble, you know, collapsing. This is an economic necessity. Now, that doesn`t mean it`s not the right thing for America to do after 50 years, as President Obama said of doing one thing that hasn`t worked out, you might want to try something else. But in terms of the Castros, and I think they made that demonstrably clear by making sure there was a Soviet spy ship in the harbor on the very day, they made it clear they are reluctant partners. They have resisted this, contrary to conventional wisdom, for some time, because there are -- there are questions of, you know, what will this do to the reign of the Castros? Serious questions. O`DONNELL: So, Ann, you don`t see the spy ship as a coincidence? BARDACH: Oh, no, absolutely not. Nothing that happens in Cuba and with the Castro family is coincidence. Everything is carefully choreographed, certainly nothing of that scale. It`s just to say look, guys, at the negotiating table, if this doesn`t work out with us today, you know, remember we still have the Russians very interested. We have Lourdes, which is their spy station literally on the island, which is very capable of surveilling the United States to a certain extent. And they`re sending a signal. Now, look, both sides have indicated on day one that they`re tamping down expectations. Roberta Jacobson said, look, we`re restoring. We`re reestablishing diplomatic relations, but we are not normalizing, which she said is going to be a very long process. And the Cubans on their side said, look, don`t think for a minute that this is going to change the status quo with our government. We are run by the communist party and that is the way it`s going to be. So, they -- both parties said they day one, you know, beware, you know? This is the hard part. Tomorrow is going to get harder. And they each have a list of what they want and we`ll see by the end of the day what is achieved. But it`s exciting. O`DONNELL: Congressman Welch, to restore diplomatic relations, we`re going to need an embassy. We`re going to need an ambassador. Obviously, you need to confirm an ambassador. But what other legislative action is necessary for that? Does it have to be a specific appropriation for that embassy in Havana? WELCH: Well, we actually have a big building down there. We have the residents of our resident agent down there, who would be called the ambassador if we had normalized relations. And we have a big, quote, "intersection", which could be the embassy. So, we actually have property. It`s not a big deal there. It`s really much more a political deal here. And, really, the fundamental question for us is whether we think hands off the policy of non-engagement is going to work or the policy of engagement is going to create a dynamic that gives the Cuban people more of a shot at changing their own government. And the Castros, by the way, they are tough. They have no interest in relinquishing power. When we were there with Senator Leahy, good friend who has done a lot, brought home Alan Gross, we were expecting a meeting with Raul Castro. That was suddenly canceled when we told him we were meeting with Cuban dissidents in advance. So, they had this enormous reaction to the mere fact that Senator Leahy was insistent that we hear from all sides. So, they`re on lockdown there. But this is not about us trying to do regime change, it`s trying to give the Cuban people more access to information and some of the tools they need, and economic opportunity that may help them make determinations about their own future. O`DONNELL: Ann, what about the reaction in Florida among the Cuban community in Florida? BARDACH: It`s mixed. It`s generational. The younger generation, the newer, you know, Cubans to Florida are very enthusiastic. The older generation tends to be very either unhappy or wary, although everybody is exhausted by a half century Cold War. So, there is this tremendous Cuba really Fidel fatigue, as it were. So -- but yes, certain of these items like getting an ambassador is going to require Congress. And we have eight members of Congress who are definitely not going to be helpful in any way. We have three Cuban- American senators, any which can put on a hold. But -- so, I don`t -- you know, I think there`s going to be a lot of change in Cuba. Immediately, you have a huge amount of money flooding into Cuba right away from people sending remittances. But yes, there`s going to be a lot of tough work to do in Washington. O`DONNELL: Congressman Peter Welch, and, Ann Louise Bardach -- thank you both very much for joining me tonight. Coming up, Republican Paul Ryan says he agrees with President Obama word for word on at least one part of the president`s State of the Union Address. Robert Reich and David Axelrod will join me. And we have breaking news tonight from the House of Representatives where the speaker has decided to abandon plans for a debate and vote on a restrictive abortion bill tomorrow because of the opposition of Republican women in the House of Representatives. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: Jimmy Fallon saw some pros and cons in last night`s State of the Union Address. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JIMMY FALLON, COMEDIAN: Pro: After the speech, President Obama took questions. Con: This is if first question, I can has Obamacare? I mean, come on! It`s a good question, but not really UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s not a good question. FALLON: LOL, man. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: LOL, baby. FALLON: Pro, Obama entered the room to the song "Hail to the Chief." Con, Biden entered to "Cotton-Eyed Joe." (MUSIC) (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Coming up, breaking news from the House of Representatives. Republicans have pulled a restrictive abortion bill. They`re not going to have a vote on that tomorrow after a revolt from women in the Republican Party in the House of Representatives. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: We still may not agree on a woman`s right to choose, but surely we can agree that it`s a good thing that teen pregnancies and abortions are nearing all-time lows and every woman should have access to the health care she needs. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: We have breaking news tonight. The House of Representatives has just canceled a debate and vote tomorrow on a very restrictive abortion bill that would have banned abortions after 20 weeks. The vote was scheduled for tomorrow, but several conservative members of the House Republican Caucus, female members of Congress, thought the bill was too extreme. And yesterday, two co-sponsors of that bill, Congresswoman Jackie Walorski and Congresswoman Renee Ellmers, did this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For what purpose does the gentlelady from Indiana seek recognition? REP. JACKIE WALORSKI (R), INDIANA: Mr. Speaker, ask unanimous consent to remove myself from HR-36. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Without objection? For what purpose does the gentlelady from North Carolina seek recognition? REP. RENEE ELLMERS (R), NORTH CAROLINA: Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent to remove myself from HR-36. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Without objection? (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Joining me now, David Axelrod, former senior adviser to President Obama, and Molly Redden, a staff writer for "Mother Jones". David, that`s a very surprising moment on the floor of the House of Representatives when anyone gets up there and withdraws co-sponsorship. Earlier tonight, when I was preparing this segment before the announcement that they weren`t going to vote, I thought that was an ominous signal. It turns out it was enough apparently. But did they represent two votes or do they represent 20 or do they represent 50 votes? It turns out they represented enough to stop this bill tomorrow. DAVID AXELROD, FORMER OBAMA SENIOR ADVISOR: Yes, now we know. You know, Lawrence, what strikes me is how much things have changed in just ten weeks. Ten weeks ago, we were sitting together, and the Republican caucus was triumphant, giants on the landscape, on the political landscape and the president was in retreat. Now, the president is resurgent and this new Republican Congress has gotten out of the gates very, very badly. And this is just another example of it. A big problem on the immigration bill, now this bill dropped because once again, they mishandled the issue of rape, even in the eyes of conservative women in their caucus. And it`s almost as if they`re doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and over again. But really, a stunning development tonight. O`DONNELL: Molly Redden, you`ve been reporting on the developments of this bill. What was it that the Republican women had problems with in this bill? MOLLY REDDEN, MOTHER JONES: Well, the public facing comments that they made, they had problems with the rape exception as David said. The bill would require women, in order to get an abortion under circumstances of rape, to first report her assault to law enforcement officials and Republican women thought that was just too restrictive. They know a lot of women who are raped never come forward to the police, and they would really be in dire straits. Privately, though, to their caucus, they spoke out about how is this going to look? Let`s think very carefully about what sort of message this will send to young voters. I think that`s an interesting contrast. I`m sure they believe that both are very true. O`DONNELL: David, tomorrow is the, I believe, 42nd anniversary of Roe versus Wade, the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in this country. Every year on that day, the halls of Congress are filled with petitioners, kind of grassroots lobbyists going to members of Congress, going to senators, their senators, their members of Congress, lobbying against illegal abortion in this country. And every year, Congress does nothing about it, including the Republican congressmen who swear that that`s why they got elected, to do something about it. This vote tomorrow was supposed to be that symbolic something. This thing never would have never made it to a vote in the Senate, they couldn`t have gotten by a filibuster by Democrats. It certainly never would have made it to the president`s desk for his veto, which he promised, the president already promised a veto. So, it was a purely symbolic act and now, it turns out the Republicans aren`t capable of that. AXELROD: Well, look, they have a huge problem, and it shows up every presidential election cycle, which is they have driven off young people. They have driven off women voters in large numbers. They have driven off Hispanic voters in large numbers. And as I said before, they seem intent on compounding all of those problems in the first weeks of the -- of this Congress. If I were a candidate running for president on the Republican side, this is my worst nightmare, which is I`ve got to live with this Republican Congress that`s dominated by far right voices, most strident voices in the Republican Party, once again, defining the Republican Party in ways that are unhelpful to them. And, you know, so, I think they`ve got a big problem, and clearly have misread their own caucus. Lawrence, you`re a veteran of the Hill. The notion that this bill could get as far as it got, with all the problems they had within the caucus, that nobody thought to stop it before it became a public embarrassment speaks to real mismanagement of the caucus. These guys are like the dogs who caught the car. They`re in charge before with a caucus larger than ever before and they seem befuddled by it. O`DONNELL: Yes, Molly, it strikes me as a really bad start for John Boehner with his new Congress. And I`m not one who has been critical of John Boehner in the past having to take down bills that are important bills, like budget bills, where he knows he has to test his caucus and test them publicly and see what they`re willing to vote for. And that`s always -- I`ve always seen that as Boehner on the route to getting something through that they need to get through in terms of budget stuff. But this was a pure symbolic vote and to not get the count right on that, or to not see this coming says something about what this Republican leadership is able to even understand about its own caucus. REDDEN: Yes. I mean, it`s a really astonishing turn of events. They weren`t whipping up votes exactly for this bill. So, there were early signs that they understood some of the issues with this. You know, at the same time, so many of their conservative members really went to the mat for this legislation in debates as they were getting elected in these last elections. And so there`s just this real schism between the people who are really counting on these symbolic votes. And then people who just realize that it`s the wrong turn for the party. Even Representative Renee Ellmers, in her private remarks to the caucus, doesn`t seem to fully understand some of the issues with this bill. She said that it might be worth avoiding a vote on this, because younger voters, they don`t feel too strongly about social issues. And that is just wildly incorrect. Polls have consistently shown that younger voters feel a lot more strongly about abortion access and reproductive rights than other age groups, as other age groups shift to the right on this issue. Younger voters don`t follow. So, you know, even the more moderate voices in this debate are sort of still fundamentally misreading the wrong turns their party has made. O`DONNELL: Molly Redden, thank you very much for joining us tonight. REDDEN: Thank you. O`DONNELL: And, David Axelrod, please stick around. We`re going to need your guidance on another subject. Coming up, Speaker John Boehner was not happy with Senator Joni Ernst`s replay to the president`s State of the Union Address apparently. And so, he`s asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to give his reply to the State of the Union Address. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: America, for all that we have endured, for all the grit and hard work required to come back, for all the tasks that lie ahead, know this, the shadow of crisis has past and the State of the Union is strong. (APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: A new NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll shows that 49 percent of Americans approve of President Obama`s handling of the economy. That is the highest that number has been since he won re-election in 2012. Today, President Obama traveled to Idaho where he continued to make the case for middle class economics. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: Here`s where we`re starting in 2015. Our economy is growing, our businesses are creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999. Our deficits have been cut by two-thirds. Our energy production is booming. The verdict is clear. The ruling on the field stands. (LAUGHTER) Middle class economics works. Expanding opportunity works. These policies will keep on working as long as politics in Washington doesn`t get in the way of our progress. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: This morning, one Republican congressional leader found himself in complete agreement with President Obama on only one point. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: I agree with every word he said in the speech with respect to trade and Asia and getting in there and helping write the rules instead of China writing the rules. The president is in the middle of negotiating a trade agreement with Asian nations, representing 40 percent of global GDP. This means more jobs for America. This means more exports for us. This is something we have to get on top of and I agree with him on that. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Joining me now is former secretary of labor, Robert Reich, author of "Aftershock: The Next Economy and America`s Future," and whose film, "Inequality for All", is available on Blu-ray, DVD, and iTunes. Also rejoining us is NBC News and MSNBC senior political analyst David Axelrod. Robert Reich, here we go again with the issue of expanding trade and trade relations in Congress, and the political dynamics seem very similar to the way they were the last time under President Clinton, this happened on NAFTA and the World Trade Agreement. Stronger, clearer Republican support than Democratic support. ROBERT REICH, FORMER CLINTON LABOR SECRETARY: Absolutely, Lawrence. The reason Paul Ryan said he agreed with the president is because this is very much on the Republican agenda. They do want this so-called Transpacific Trade Agreement. They want it with a fast-track Trade Promotion Authority so that nothing can be amended in Congress. Many Democrats are wary, they are worried that it will create not only more outsourcing of jobs abroad but also that it will allow global corporations to attack American regulations, health, safety, and environmental regulations, as being nontariff barriers. And that will basically not be a middle class economic agenda, that will hurt the middle class. O`DONNELL: David Axelrod, I worked for a United States senator who was opposed to NAFTA back in those days when it was passing, and I noticed something about the phenomenon of trade in our politics. There is a presidential position on international trade and it doesn`t make any difference which party the president belongs to. Republican presidents, Democratic presidents look at international trade exactly the same way, including no matter what they said during the campaign about international trade. How does that dynamic work, that presidents of each party end up adopting exactly the same attitude toward international trade? DAVID AXELROD, MSNBC SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, I think that part of it is the evolution of our economy. And when you look at the direction of the world, the influence of China, in particular, there is a pull toward trying to do something to make sure that we remain competitive for markets around the world, and particularly in that region. And that`s I`m sure what`s motivating the president here. We`re becoming a much smaller world, Lawrence. You know this better than I, that there are economic pressures forcing us in this direction. But I also think that for the reasons that Bob said, for the reasons that Pat Moynihan opposed the treaty, there`s a special burden on the administration and the president to say why is this different? What kinds of protections are built into this treaty that would allay the concerns that people have had in the past? And they need to be involved in a very, very aggressive effort to make that case because otherwise I think a lot of Democrats are going to walk on them. O`DONNELL: Yes, I`m wondering, Reich, how different it is. You were secretary of labor when President Clinton was moving those two trade bills, NAFTA and the World Trade Agreement. And on the Democratic side, there`s always talk about environmental side agreements to these deals, and labor side agreements to these deals. And ultimately under President Clinton, the Democrats voted against it, but they did not strenuously work to kill it. Even Senator Moynihan who was chairman of the committee with jurisdiction over it. He brought it up in his committee. He simply voted no but he did not try to block it. Do you think this will be different this time with the Democrats? REICH: It may be different, Lawrence, because unlike the NAFTA, this Transpacific Trade Agreement really is focusing less on tariffs and more on what are called nontariff barriers, those are regulations like health, safety, and environmental regulations, that could get in the way of trade if a global company said, for example, you know, the United States environmental regulations make it very difficult for us to get our goods into the United States because our goods are -- well, they just -- they degrade environmentally and they`re very bad for the environment. You see, under the Transpacific Trade Agreement, you have this separate tribunal set up outside any nation`s law system, legal system that can pass judgment on those kinds of health, safety, and environmental regulations. With NAFTA, we didn`t have anything of such, anything like that. NAFTA was a hard sell for Democrats notwithstanding. I think they labored a environment side agreement with NAFTA. We tried to beef them in. I think in retrospect they were not nearly strong enough. O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to the way Democrats talk about international trade when they`re running for president. Let`s listen to what President Obama said back when he was a candidate. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: I would immediately call the president of Mexico, the president of Canada, to try to amend NAFTA because I think that we can get labor agreements in that agreement right now and it should reflect the basic principle that our trade agreements should not just be good for Wall Street, it should also be good for main street. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: David Axelrod, Hillary Clinton said basically the same thing when she was running, but President Obama, when elected, never made that phone call and never talked about NAFTA again. AXELROD: Though when he was negotiating treaties, Lawrence, subsequent treaties, he did insist on provisions that weren`t -- that weren`t in NAFTA. But you know, you`re right, that when you`re the president of the United States and you`re looking at the -- the competitive position of American business and industry, you have a different perspective than when you`re running for president. And I think it`s fair to say that the environment, in a Democratic primary, is generally hostile to trade. I know that Obama had concerns about trade, but I never heard him say that we shouldn`t do treaties. I never heard him say that we should be opposed to agreements ever. And his point was that we should get better deals. And now it`s incumbent on him to make the case to the country that this is a better deal. O`DONNELL: And Robert Reich, President Obama, in not having what they call fast-track authority, is really kind of disarmed on trade. It used to be a standard tool for all presidents to have this negotiating authority. There`s nothing particularly fast about the track, it just allows for a certain kind of reliable negotiation between countries. REICH: Yes, and the Trade Promotion Authority that the president is seeking here really allows or would allow this -- it`s almost fast track. It`s sort of a small version of fast trace. It still allows the measure to go through without amendment. I think one thing that a lot of Democrats are worried about is that they don`t know exactly what is in the bill. I`ve given you what has been leaked from the bill or from -- I should say the draft negotiation. But nobody knows exactly what`s in it. It has been negotiated, though, however, with big business, a big business lobbyists and Wall Street lobbyists at the table. And so a lot of people are nervous. And it`s not just Democrats who are nervous, a lot of economic populists, you might want to call them, on the Republican side, some people call them Tea Partiers. They are also nervous about big business having a little bit too much of a voice in setting the terms of the Transpacific Trade Agreement. (CROSSTALK) O`DONNELL: I wish we had more -- go ahead, David, quickly. AXELROD: I`m sorry. O`DONNELL: Go ahead, David. AXELROD: No, I was just going to say there have -- certainly have been consultations with labor and others on these treaties. And it`d be hard to imagine that Democrats should say we`re going to deny this president the same authority that every other president has been given. O`DONNELL: Yes -- REICH: Now I think -- I think that`s right. And I think -- I think basically if the president can sell the Transpacific Trade Agreement to the public, then he`s probably going to have to be clearer about what is in it. And the public has got to have confidence that actually it is going to improve middle class economics rather than cost jobs and also jeopardize our health, safety, and environmental regulations. O`DONNELL: We need more time for this. I hope -- AXELROD: I agree. O`DONNELL: I hope you can both come back while this debate continues to go on. Thank you, David Axelrod and Robert Reich. Thank you both for joining me tonight. AXELROD: Thanks. REICH: Thank you, Lawrence. O`DONNELL: Coming up, a hero emerged from the terrorist massacre in Paris. A Muslim hero. And he`s now a French citizen. That`s in the "Rewrite." (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: Yesterday, a federal jury in Philadelphia found a leader of the Iron Workers Union guilty on 25 charges to extort and commit acts of violence against nonunion contractors to try to force them to hire union members. Joseph Dardy was convicted of extortion, racketeering, arson and conspiracy. Eleven other defendants, all union members, pleaded guilty in that case. "The Rewrite" is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: In "The Rewrite" tonight, a hero of the Paris terror attacks is now a real French hero. Lassana Bathily arrived in France as a 16-year-old Muslim immigrant from Mali in 2006. He`s now 24 years old. On January 9th, he was working in the stock room of the kosher supermarket in Paris when a terrorist burst in and started shooting. Lassana Bathily risked his own life to save others in that store. Secretary of State John Kerry recounted Lassana Bathily`s heroic actions in a speech last week at Paris city hall. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE (Through Translator): French mothers and fathers will long tell their children and grandchildren that in these nine days that followed the horrors of January 7th, ordinary men and women became heroes at a moment`s notice. No doubt, you will tell them about Lassana Bathily, a Muslim man from Mali, who risked his life to save Jewish customers at the Hyper Cacher market. When he heard the gunman break into the store, he didn`t think of himself or his own safety. He helped more than a dozen customers hide downstairs in the stock room`s cooler. He got word to the police, and in doing so, he saved lives. Asked why he did it, Lassana said simply we are brothers. It`s not a question of Jews or Christians or Muslims. We all are in the same boat. We have to help each other to get out of the crisis. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: After the terrorist attack, more than 300,000 people signed an online petition to grant Lassana Bathily legal status in France. His citizenship application which he filed last year was immediately expedited and yesterday, the French prime minister presented him with his French passport. He also received a letter from the French president and a medal for his bravery. Lassana Bathily said he`s not a hero, and though he`s proud to become a French citizen, the event is bittersweet, because his friend and co-worker, Johan Cohen, was killed in the attack. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE) LASSANA BATHILY, FRENCH CITIZEN: I lost someone that I really liked. We were always laughing together. From the start we were friends. We called each other nicknames. Boss, Boss, instead of our first names. Tonight I just want to send my condolences to the families, to the friends who lost loved ones in the attack. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: One of the family people from the kosher supermarket were in the audience yesterday to cheer for him. He ended his remarks with a call for liberty, friendship and solidarity. (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: On this day, in 1977, on his second day in office, President Jimmy Carter granted unconditional pardons to the men who evaded the draft during the Vietnam war by either failing to register with the selective service system or fleeing to another country. An estimated 100,000 American men fled the country from the 1960s until 1973, when the draft ended. With a majority of those people going to Canada to avoid the draft. They contributed mightily to the pressure to both end the draft and end that war. Their contribution to making peace in Vietnam, to getting Americans out of Vietnam has never and will never be properly recognized. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: A departure from protocol, that was the overly polite phrase the White House used today to describe House Speaker John Boehner secretly inviting the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be the next person to stand exactly where President Obama stood last night addressing a joint assembly of the House and Senate. It was news to the White House today when Speaker Boehner announced that Benjamin Netanyahu would be addressing Congress on February 11th. Normally invitations for foreign heads of state to address Congress are issued with the full cooperation of the president and congressional leaders. But not this time. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Did you consult with the White House before inviting Prime Minister Netanyahu? And secondly, is this just a way to sort of poke this president in the eye on an issue like Iran when you know he very much opposes what he want to do? REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: I did not consult with the White House. The Congress can make this decision on its own. I don`t believe I`m poking anyone in the eye. There is a serious threat that exists in the world, and the president last night kind of papered over it. And the fact is, there needs to be a more serious conversation in America about how serious the threat is, from radical Islamic jihadists and the threat posed by Iran. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Phyllis Bennis, director of the New Internationalism project at the Institute for Policy Studies. Phyllis, it seems that John Boehner`s unsatisfied with the Republican response to the State of the Union address delivered last night by Joni Ernst officially and then unofficially by Rand Paul and a bunch of other Republicans doing kind of Tea Party responses. And so now the next response will actually be right where the president stood last night and it`ll be Benjamin Netanyahu. What do you expect to hear? PHYLLIS BENNIS, INSTITUTE ON POLICY STUDIES: Well, I think what we`re going to hear goes beyond the partisan side. This is partisan here at home where Boehner is really directly trying to undermine Obama`s initiative, particularly when President Obama said specifically that he would veto any new legislation that would call for new sanctions against Iran. It`s not only about the partisan side in Israel, where this is clearly also designed to shore up Bibi Netanyahu`s chances in the March elections in Israel. But this is much more urgently involved with the political essence of the question of the negotiations with Iran. Those negotiations are going forward. There are two deadlines coming. There`s a March 1st and a July 1st deadline. And what I think President Obama was recognizing, although unfortunately not saying as explicitly as he might, those who want new sanctions in Iran are supporting war. That`s what he`s going to hear from Bibi Netanyahu. He`s going to hear there must be new sanctions, that there should be no deal with Iran that is possible to get because there is no deal that we could accept. And I think it`s a very, very dangerous move, because this is really about the divergence between the policy of the United States and the policy of Israel, where there is some real difference. This is not what Secretary of State Kerry said yesterday -- last night when he said there is no difference between the U.S. and Israel on what we want to accomplish. We all want to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. The problem is, that is not the Israeli position. That is the U.S. position. The Israeli position is, we will not allow Iran to have the capacity to ever get a nuclear weapon sometime in the future, if they ever decided to, which U.S. intelligence officials have been unanimous in saying they have not made any such decision. But that`s a very different so- called red line. Israel says they will not be allowed to have the capacity. The U.S. says we will not allow them to do it. There`s a vast gap between those two, and what we`re seeing is that Bibi Netanyahu and his office, his ambassador here, Ron Dermer, has apparently for several weeks been engaged in lobbying Congress directly. This was in a newspaper in Israel today, that there is a direct lobbying campaign by the Israeli prime minister to convince members of Congress to vote directly against what President Obama says our foreign policy should be. O`DONNELL: Phyllis Bennis, I`m sorry we`re out of time for tonight. END