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The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 03/17/15

Guests: Dafna Linzer, Joy Reid, Jeremy Peters, George Mitchell, RukminiCallimachi

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: That does it for us tonight, we`ll see you again tomorrow, now it`s time for "THE LAST WORD" with Ari Melber filling in Lawrence, good evening Ari. ARI MELBER, MSNBC: Good evening and happy Saint Patrick`s Day, thank you, Rachel. MADDOW: Indeed. MELBER: A U.S. Air Force veteran from New Jersey is now accused of trying to help ISIS. A defiant Benjamin Netanyahu declares he is staying in power after a close election night, and Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch gains an unlikely ally tonight in Rudy Giuliani. Seriously. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Illinois Republican Congressman Aaron Schock is stepping down. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was it the haters? AARON SCHOCK, FORMER CONGRESSMAN: Haters are going to hate. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So decorators -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Had his office turned into a set of daunting abbot -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Or the ravish event possibly funded by tax payers. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An Illinois public official resigning under a cloud of corruption. Shocking. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A tangled web of dysfunction is taking over Capitol Hill -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s time to vote on Loretta Lynch. JOSH EARNEST, PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE: If Miss Lynch were not confirmed -- SEN. HARRY REID (D), NEVADA: Republicans really are out of excuses. EARNEST: It would be an astonishing display of partisanship. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, Republicans, you won the elections, it`s time to start governing. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And a Jersey man and former U.S. Air Force mechanic, he`s been indicted with trying to join ISIS. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Allegedly attempted to travel to Syria but was later deported to the U.S. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He could have been a huge propaganda tool for ISIS. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in the fight of his political life. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The polls are now closed, the results beginning to trickle in. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even with the votes from today`s Israeli election still being counted -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exit polls are neck and neck. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Netanyahu took to Twitter tonight to declare himself the winner. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitt Romney cruising for a bruising. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Romney is set to box former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now think they had to be in sport -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To raise money for charity of course -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will either be a very short fight or I will be knocked unconscious. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Happy Saint Patrick`s Day to all of you -- (PIPING) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even politicians are seeing green. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Happy Saint Patrick`s Day. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Allows me to trot out my Irish heritage. (PIPING) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Happy Saint Patrick`s Day to you all. (APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) MELBER: Republicans have now held up any vote on Attorney General nominee Loretta Lynch for 129 days, that is a longer wait than the last five A.G. nominees combined. And today, this endless Republican politicking proved to actually be too much for a Republican known for his hardball politics, Rudy Giuliani. Among conservatives, he is known for harshly attacking President Obama, you may remember recently, when he said the President doesn`t love America. But today, Giuliani urged Senate Republicans to knock off the delays and just vote for Lynch. "A President should be given the deference to choose his cabinet," Giuliani wrote in a letter here, "unless the nominee is unqualified to do the job, has a history of unethical behavior or is so ideologically rigid as to be incapable of making rational choices in the public interest." Lynch currently serves as a federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, Giuliani of course was Manhattan`s top federal prosecutor for six years, so he knows her, which he mentioned in discussing her strengths in this same letter today. "I`ve always found her competent, honest and fair, I would vote to confirm her if I were a member of the Senate regardless of my political affiliation", he wrote. Joining me now to discuss this burgeoning controversy, Msnbc`s Joy Reid and Dafna Linzer and the "New York Times" Jeremy Peters. Good evening to all of you. Dafna, what does it take for congressional Republicans here to be failing the Rudy standard? DAFNA LINZER, MANAGING EDITOR, MSNBC.COM: That was my first thought -- was, if only Obama had been a prosecutor instead of a law professor, maybe it wouldn`t have been so hard for Giuliani to come out and say something good about the President too. I think it`s really interesting. I mean obviously Rudy wants to protect somebody of his own ranks, a prosecutor, show that prosecutors here in the federal system are qualified to have a job like this. He is a former federal prosecutor, perhaps he could be somebody`s A.G. one day. You know, those are -- those are easy junks for him to make here. But I think the situation with Loretta Lynch is so out of control and so surprising to so many people. I think the fact that he`s come out in support of her really should be a pretty big wakeup call now. JOY REID, MSNBC: Well, I mean, you know, and it is -- it is nice to know that Rudy Giuliani has finally found an African-American he doesn`t think is incorrigibly criminal or a hater of their own country. That`s good news. But I think it is something to do with a Rudy Giuliani who is relentlessly ambitious, potentially thinking maybe he will be in a position if there`s a Republican president to have the exact same job Loretta Lynch is vying for. But what I find puzzling is two things about what Republicans are doing. Number one, you`re alienating African-Americans potentially, while at the same time alienating women by holding her nomination up to an issue like abortion. That is tailor-made to help Hillary Clinton in her run when she runs in 2016. And at the same time, you`re hanging on to Eric Holder, who is the person -- MELBER: Right -- REID: That Republicans despise more than anyone other than Barack Obama. None of this makes any sense. MELBER: Yes, and I want to play something from Senator Reid here, because it is fair to say that Republicans had a hard ball project going into the midterms. It is harder to explain particularly in the upper chamber why this makes sense at this point in time. Here is Senator Reid on this issue. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REID: Any attempt to hold a confirmation vote hostage because of this abortion provision is a sham. Republicans really on Loretta Lynch are out of excuses. This Congress is barely two months old, and yet this is just the latest on a growing list examples proving Republicans simply can`t govern. (END VIDEO CLIP) MELBER: And Jeremy, you cover the politics here on the presidential side, but looking at this Congress, what is the end game for Republicans when -- as I pointed out on this program, she was supported unanimously by most of this caucus for a similar role as a prosecutor. JEREMY PETERS, NEW YORK TIMES: And I think that`s what we need to not lose sight of here, is that she is going to be confirmed. Republicans will eventually confirm her. Right now, it`s just caught up in as so many other issues are on Capitol Hill right now, a partisan bickering. Mitch McConnell has said all along that he thinks that she would make a fine attorney general. There are numerous Republicans on record who have said the same thing. So this is all just really a distraction at this point. MELBER: Are you as optimistic Dafna? LINZER: I could have gone to Joy`s point, I just don`t see what is to be gained from all of this. I mean I think it makes them look again like they`re not supporting a woman, they`re not supporting an African-American, they`re keeping Holder in there longer. I mean I just don`t see what is -- what is the good upside here for Republicans. And you know, it`s not just partisan bickering. I mean it`s a Republican move here alone. It`s not like two sides are arguing over Loretta Lynch, it`s just one side that`s holding her -- MELBER: Well, it`s not -- it`s not holding a vote Joy, I mean Senator Lamar Alexander says here, "this is an opportunity within the Senate rules to express my disapproval of the President`s abuse of executive authority, an opportunity I intend to take. That would be fine up until the point where the vote was held." REID: Right, and that`s not what they`re fighting about. I think there`s not even an issue of substance that the base of the Republican party is holding against Loretta Lynch. In that, what you just read from Lamar Alexander, there are some Republicans who have issues with what they see as her too permissive attitude towards executive action on immigration. All right, then have a fight about that. To make me holdup about something completely extraneous that has to do with abortion, so you`re servicing a completely different part of your base by holding her up. Is nonsensical, it`s bad politics, it`s terrible optics and it doesn`t even get to the substance of the base`s core fatigue about Barack Obama. So it makes zero sense. And it -- and I agree with Dafna, it`s not bickering, it`s just political malpractice, let`s put it that way. PETERS: I mean look, she`s going to be confirmed. We`re not going to be talking about this in a couple of weeks, so I just really don`t see really the need for Republicans to drag this out much longer than they have. Because they know exactly how this is going to end up. And Democrats obviously see an issue here right now in making this about Republican obstruction, right? I mean you heard Harry Reid, right there. He said Republicans, you`ve been in charge now -- instruction were actually, Republicans, you`ve been in charge now govern already. And that`s what they have been trying to hit Republicans on again and again. Whether it`s this issue, whether it`s with any number of bills that Republicans are kind of still baffled -- MELBER: Yes, maybe -- PETERS: To get through -- MELBER: That may be -- that may be politics, but it`s precedential politics, in the sense that most attorneys general and their both parties haven`t had to wait this long for a confirmation. PETERS: Right, well, it`s not like she`d be filibustered though. And there have been other attorney generals that have been filibustered by Republicans, so there for example. MELBER: I want to do another big story today that some people find even more fun and its obstruction, Aaron Schock resigning as we were just showing in the open. This comes six weeks after the news broke about his $40,000 downtown Abbey- styled office and then questions about his official travel, showing Instagram posts there; the photo sharing network. Now here is what Schock said in a February 4th interview about all this with "Abc". (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SCHOCK: And I posted Instagram photo of me with my friends, you know, you know, as Taylor Swift said, haters are going to hate. (END VIDEO CLIP) MELBER: Now Joy, that speaks to me because a good music "sometimes is the best way to shake off a controversy." LINZER: Yes -- MELBER: Talk about what`s unpredictable in politics, I don`t think when he was getting in trouble for posting what were essentially noncontroversial photographs online and the office decoration -- LINZER: Right -- MELBER: That he was going to go down. LINZER: Yes, you know, it`s interesting. I mean I have -- I have teenagers and they don`t talk like that. I mean it`s really interesting this sort of language. Yes, I mean who among us does not want to live like lady Mary Crawley. So I understand him wanting to have a lovely Downton Abbey -- MELBER: Yes -- REID: I too would like to have a home decorated in that style. But I think the fact that he so quickly gone down, leads me to ask whether or not there was more coming. I think that what we`ve already -- MELBER: You don`t think it was just a goofy photos? REID: I think the goofy photos were embarrassing and they showed him to be kind of the worst representation of -- some articles have said a kind of throw-away politics and this sort of new in the millennial style. I guess they`re trying to say that Republicans, we`re young and we`re hip, we -- you know, know the lyrics to Taylor Swift`s songs. That`s not enough to get the youth vote -- MELBER: Oh, yes -- REID: I think they thought he could help them on that score. But the fact that this really is a substantive scandal too. That he was actually spending tax-payer money in an avaricious way. Means that it`s a legitimate, you know, sort of old-fashioned Illinois scandal -- PETERS: Well -- REID: A lot of -- PETERS: That`s the thing, you can resign, but that doesn`t stop the investigations -- REID: Right -- PETERS: Now we don`t know exactly who is investigating him right now. If the -- I mean in the House Ethics Committee was going to, I don`t know if that`s going to continue now if he`s resigned. But what -- I do think that aside of -- from the comedy of all this, the fact that there is this ridiculous Instagram account that a public official has. It`s actually kind of a sad story. Because here you had a politician who was a rising star, he`s bright, he was hopeful in a party that really didn`t have a lot of young, shining new faces. And he basically self-destructed, he self-destructed out of a need for attention, it seems -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right -- PETERS: And it was just also unnecessary. REID: But let us also remember that there is a fellow Congressman from Illinois named Jesse Jackson Junior, who is cooling his heels in prison for having misspent and having used the public trust in an ill-gotten way. So this is also a sort of supreme example of privilege. If he`s just allowed to walk away with his selfies and his Instagram and not face the same kind of judgment, real harsh judgment that`s going to send not just Jesse Jackson Junior, but his wife to prison, then I think then we do have a problem. MELBER: Yes, and we don`t have all the facts yet in that case. There were more sort of egregious spending habits that emerged, but it was much later on, and there was a federal criminal investigation -- REID: Right -- LINZER: Yes -- MELBER: Here, what we know about Dafna is an investigation about misusing apparently travel money. LINZER: And you know what? We`re two months into the Republican-led Congress now, and this is our second resignation from the Republican side in two months. Not a great way to start out here. And I think, you know, going to the House of Representatives in your late 20s is not a good strategy if you`re really just kind of into sort of wealth and bling and interior design. Look, I`m just not sure that`s really the best place for you. MELBER: Well, look -- LINZER: And I think definitely a left is -- MELBER: And Dafna, you have a well known bias against creative interior design, and I just -- I think that`s always been something you`ve been unfair to politicians -- LINZER: No -- MELBER: You know -- LINZER: No -- MELBER: Both the -- I mean Jeremy, that`s -- PETERS: Well -- MELBER: You know, the piece about the office -- (LAUGHTER) The office -- the office was a little weird in how it`s decorated. And the "Washington Post" in trying to report on it, this was when the story -- PETERS: The stonewall -- MELBER: Where they -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right -- MELBER: Were pushed back so hard by his political aides, his Congressional aides that it became a bigger story. But for people at home going well, that can`t just be it. The judgment question comes in because there was the idea here not because of youth, but because of financial choices, otherwise -- PETERS: Right -- MELBER: Where he was more into the trappings and the celebration -- LINZER: OK -- MELBER: Of this lifestyle. LINZER: Yes -- MELBER: Spending the money that was available to him by being in a position of leadership, right. And that`s a huge problem and the -- who knows who is looking into this, but if you get this the wrong way, it`s potentially illegal. Now, what I do think again is kind of the tragedy of all this, is you have a bright young Congressman who is now known for his tacky decorating taste, his abs, and his ability to quote Taylor Swift lyrics. And that is essentially what is going to be his political legacy at this point. Instead of like some of his younger, brighter, younger kind of more accomplished colleagues who actually have legislative records to point to. MELBER: Yes, so if we -- I mean Dafna, as your final thought, if we put aside the fact that there are financial questions that have to be dealt with, does the sort of selfie culture here show any downfall? Because when I talk to, you know, aides on the Hill, they say well, we`re always trying to find some way automatically to get our member on social media more involved, they know it can help raise money and campaigns. Is there a darker side to this? LINZER: Yes, you know, I think it`s just about kind of being a grown-up and being a little bit more responsible. I think you know, social media, and you know, in anyone`s hands sure can be -- you know, can be a little bit of a trap sometimes. Because it`s just enough -- just enough rope to kind of hang yourself if you`re not careful with the way you`re putting out a message or the Instagram account. But you know, you can -- you can do it in far more responsible ways. REID: Yes -- LINZER: I think -- REID: And the Republicans now can`t anymore try to use that talking point against the President; that always taking selfie, they try to deride him with things like that. Well, you know what? The now, the two word answer is Aaron Schock. MELBER: Well, and that -- I mean in the -- what`s been interesting by the President`s strategy is every time they do one of these video or selfie campaigns, it ties back to policy. REID: To policy -- LINZER: Yes -- MELBER: Getting young people to sign the website -- REID: Exactly -- MELBER: For healthcare, I mean there`s a point Schock apparently was operating often with a camera and no point that hurt him in addition. LINZER: Yes -- MELBER: Well, panel stays, so we`ll keep you here, but we`re going to keep moving, next we`re going to dig into John Boehner`s new tactic against Hillary Clinton today while her ally say some new data. Actually shows the media got that e-mail story all wrong. And later this hour, how U.S. authority tracked a former Air Force veteran all the way they say to the Turkish border where he was trying to join ISIS. The Obama administration charging him with supporting terror tomorrow morning in Brooklyn, we have the latest on that important case tonight. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MELBER: And the royals are here tonight, Prince Charles and his wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall arrived in Washington for a trip celebrating the special relationship between the U.S. and the U.K. The Prince of Wales will meet with President Obama and Vice President Biden in the Oval Office. Charles also will give a speech in Louisville, Kentucky on health and the environment. It is the 20th time that Charles has visited the USA in his official capacity. Now you know. Up next, John Boehner rolled out for a new push here to get Hillary Clinton`s e-mail today, and some Democrats are cheering that. We`ll explain. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MELBER: Today, Speaker John Boehner made a new call for Hillary Clinton`s e-mails, this is exactly one week after her press conference on why she used a personal e-mail account while at the State Department. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER, UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: The American people deserve all the facts about what happened in Benghazi. And that`s why it`s so important for Secretary Clinton to turn over her personal server to a neutral third party, now that I think this is the fairest way to make sure that we have all the documents that belong to the public and ultimately all the facts. (END VIDEO CLIP) MELBER: Republicans clearly want to keep the e-mail issue alive, but the public has now heard about this story, and hasn`t really shifted opinion of Clinton much. New poll here, showing her favorable numbers have barely moved at all, 53 to 44. And there`s a similar split on the specific question whether her e- mail habits even matter, 52 percent saying they just aren`t relevant to her character, 46 percent say they are. Back with me at the table with their mobile devices for e-mail, Joy Reid, Dafna Linzer and Jeremy Peters. I won`t quiz you guys on whether you have two phones or not, and also you`re not in government. So it doesn`t really matter. But Joy, the data here is something that Hillary supporters are pointing to and saying, see, this was a non- controversy, this was a made-up scandal, the public doesn`t care and a lot of the political elite Bel-Air classes time was wasted on it. REID: Well, you know, I think I have to tell you, I mean I spent most of last week in Michigan and Detroit in the Detroit area. I heard one or two people when I would be out to eat, sort of making snarky jokes about Hillary and e-mail, didn`t get the sense that people are really paying a 100 percent attention to it, unless they already didn`t like Hillary for some reason. And it`s added to their mistrust of her, I just don`t see this as an issue that people are going to vote on if they`re not already inclined to dislike Hillary Clinton. I think what it does do is a couple of things, it sort of reminds people of the eye-rolling nature of any coverage that has to relate to the Clintons. That you get into these worm holes about their personalities and about the things they do. And I think the second thing is that it`s a reminder that the Republicans, despite all of the findings of all of the committees, the myriad Benghazi Committees, they`re not quite ready to let Benghazi go as an issue. MELBER: Well, but Joy, look -- REID: And attempt to drag it back in -- MELBER: Benghazi -- REID: The same way -- MELBER: Was Mitt Romney`s closing argument in the third debate. So, you can -- REID: Yes -- MELBER: Understand why they wouldn`t want to go back to this. This is -- REID: But their own committees have said -- MELBER: This is a winner for them. (LAUGHTER) All jokes aside, Jeremy, though, this was a big story by your paper, "New York Times", your paper has been criticized to some degree about it and stood by it and said this is a subset of an important issue. PETERS: Well, I mean, it`s a problem for what it evokes, right? It evokes all of the stories of the Clintons being too legalistic, being too cute by half, it depends on what the definition of "is" is. And I think Joy is right, it`s very early in the campaign cycle at this point. I mean, we`re nine months away from the first presidential primary, so you know, people aren`t paying full attention. But I think that the way that the Clintons continue to respond to the questions that are inevitably going to keep coming up of this nature are going to be key in how she positions herself to the electorate and whether or not people say, you know what? She actually reminds me of everything that I didn`t like about the `90s. LINZER: I think, you know, the Benghazi thing is -- has been in a way a gift that keeps on giving. I mean they did kind of push and push and push, it got them nowhere, and it didn`t -- it didn`t matter at all. And I think the e-mails gives new life to the Benghazi thing, it gives new life to Trey Gowdy. He looks much more effective than Darrell Issa did. Like he actually got something, which was evidence of a second e-mail account and a server. So, I think, you know, it gives them a whole new energy here to keep on going. And look, she is the candidate they`re all focused on. There`s nobody else emerging on the Democratic side right now, nobody looks as likely as she does and so that`s where they`re going to be focused, they`re not -- they`re not stupid. I mean that`s what they -- that`s what they want to campaign against. MELBER: Right. And they have that ammunition that is that quality here that (INAUDIBLE) of other Clinton battles, which is -- LINZER: Yes -- MELBER: Both sides digging in and moving forward. I think as the Clinton people feel that all said and done, they handled this just fine and they got too much heat on it. But as you know, it depends a lot on what happens. Another big story here that is interesting and -- you know, Joe Clancy from the Secret Service talking about problems that continue to plague the service. This is one of those stories where God forbid there ever is a true disaster, people will look back on this period and say why were there so many problems, why weren`t they dealt with? Let me play some of Joe Clancy`s, talking about the alcohol problems among members of this elite force that protects the president. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOSEPH CLANCY, DIRECTOR, UNITED STATES SECRET SERVICE: There is an element within our agency that does cope with the stresses that many of you have mentioned today by using alcohol. There`s no question we have that element. We also have other elements in our agency that go to a different route. Some go to exercise, some go to religion, some go to their family to cope with these stresses. But we do have an element that goes to alcohol. (END VIDEO CLIP) MELBER: Dafna, I mean these are -- these are brave people who serve in these jobs, but it still raises the question if there is a big alcohol problem or a problem in behavior on the force, why can`t they fix it? LINZER: Yes, today was not a good day for the Secret Service. And you know what? To me, one of the biggest problems like aside from alcohol was that it took five days for anyone to tell the head of the Secret Service about this latest disaster with Secret Service agents driving into the White House. MELBER: Right -- LINZER: You know, crashing into something, perhaps they were intoxicated, perhaps they weren`t, we`ll never know because nobody did a breathalyzer tests on any of those agents, nobody discovered anything. I mean he was brought in to clean up a Secret Service that, as you said, we should all be really concerned about considering what`s been going on through this entire presidency. But to find out today that it took five days for anyone to even tell him, and has he fired anyone as a result of that? Has he held anyone accountable? I mean who were the people who were supposed to report to him and why didn`t they tell him? -- MELBER: Yes, you talked about reporting, Jeremy, I want to read just that statement he -- also from Clancy, he says, "well, it`s possible people don`t want to relay bad information, we have to prevent that." That seems to be the whole issue. PETERS: Right, exactly. I mean the problem with that and the problem with his statement about the drinking is that the Secret Service appears to be just a rowdy boy`s club. And that`s something that the agency entrusted with protecting the life of the President cannot be. REID: I mean, and you know, you have an agency that, you know, when Lyndon Johnson first assumed the presidency, you know, in the worst possible way. One of the issues that he was dealing with in those early months before he officially was sworn in was, you know, the depths of Secret Service morale. Very low morale and this was an important issue they had to deal with, and yet you never heard stories of the Secret Service seeming to utterly fail to respond and rise to the occasion. Again, right, so now you have as a Secret Service -- when you got the first African-American president, and I knew more than a few people who were afraid for Barack Obama to even run for president because of all the fears of hate, of pure raw hatred. The number of hate groups that are out there right now, the number of dangers to him and his family for the Secret Service to be this flawed, this systematically, consistently flawed is terrifying with this particular president in office. MELBER: I think that`s an important point and when you see new management having the same problems as old management, it is really distressing. Joy Reid, Dafna Linzer and Jeremy Peters, thank you very much for joining us. Coming up, Bibi Netanyahu declaring victory before the official call is made tonight. We have former Senator George Mitchell here to talk about what`s at stake in the Mid East peace process, now that Netanyahu seems to be painting the peace process into a corner. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) MELBER: "Breaking News" here. We have some breaking news in Israeli politics tonight. After a race that was tighter than many expected, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he is the clear winner. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, CURRENT PRIME MINISTER, ISRAEL: (Speaking in different language) TEXT: Against all the odds, we pulled out a big victory for the Likud. (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) TEXT: Standing on the things most important to all of us -- real security, fiscal responsibility, and the standard of living we all deserve. (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) MELBER: Now, that is the scene in Israel tonight. But, to be clear, the electoral map has not established a new government yet. And according to "The Jerusalem Post," with 90 percent of the votes counted in Israel, Netanyahu`s Likud Party has 30 seats, that`s six ahead of the Zionist Union, and then Joint Arab List is in third with 13 seats. Now, what does that mean. Well, experts say, Netanyahu has the inside track here on building -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- a majority coalition. His strong finish came after he vociferously withdrew his long-standing support for a two-state solution. That is the basic premise backed by many conservatives and liberals alike, that the Middle Eastern complex should be solved by ensuring Israelis and Palestinians both have a state of their own. In fact, here is how Netanyahu himself put it to NBC`s Andrea Mitchell. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NETANYAHU: We need to have a vision of peace with two nation states that recognize one another. Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people, the Palestinian State is the nation state of the Palestinian people. MELBER: And that was the goal when President Obama sent his Special Middle East Envoy George Mitchell to Israel in 2009. It was the goal when Mitchell held high-level meetings in the region with Netanyahu and Palestinian leaders. It remained the goal in May, 2011, when Mitchell did resign that post. But, let`s be clear, -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- after tonight`s election, the Israeli government`s goal officially no longer matches that Obama administration and U.S. priority. I`m now joined in the "Last Word" exclusive by the diplomat who led those meetings, Former Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell, the Former Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate. Honored to have you here tonight. GEORGE MITCHELL, FORMER SPECIAL ENVOY FOR MIDDLE EAST PEACE: Thanks for having me. MELBER: Your thoughts on that statement that Netanyahu made, which could become now official, Israeli policy disavowing any two-state solution. MITCHELL: It`s a very significant reversal of position by the prime minister and, I think, will greatly complicate Israel`s position internationally. The American commitment to Israel`s existence and security is unshakeable and it runs, of course, to the people of Israel, not to any one -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- individual. And American presidents and prime ministers have had many disagreements in the past. President Eisenhower forced Israel to reverse its actions at Suez. Prime Minister Begin was very upset at President Reagan when he announced the Reagan plan for the region. President Clinton didn`t get along with Netanyahu and neither did Obama. But those really were not matters of policy. The real issue here, the two- state solution, is a significant change and will greatly complicate the situation for both Israel and the United States. (END VIDEO CLIP) MELBER: And, Senator, you`ve spent time publicly, privately, in those negotiating rooms. When you heard this announcement from Bibi Netanyahu, did you read it as a revelation of how he has always felt, a political statement, or something else. MITCHELL: Well, I think, he had to do it to win, in his mind. The fact that he did it on the last day suggests that he probably would have preferred to win without it, but felt it was necessary. It`s very painful for me because, -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- when I was in the region, I met with the leaders of nearly 20 Arab countries. And almost to that exception, they did not believe his statement when he made it in 2009, that he supported a two-state solution. They said to me, very bluntly, "He`s not telling the truth, he`s not sincere." (END VIDEO CLIP) I argued that he is the prime minister. He had set the policy. They should take it as a positive and work to build on that on that policy to try to get a two-state solution. They`ll surely now going to feel vindicated in their position. And it does complicate it very much for the United States. You know, I recall very clearly that one of the most eloquent and forceful and persuasive statements made in behalf of a two-state policy was made by President George W. Bush when he visited Jerusalem in January of 2009. And I thought it was a very good statement. President Obama has pursued the same policy. So, this is not a partisan issue in the United States, at least, it never has been until now. And I hope it does not become one because I really do believe that a two-state solution does represent the best hope for Israel`s safety and security, as well as for the Palestinians seeking a state. MELBER: And, Senator, you make the point that because this statement, this policy shift came so late in sort of a conservative closing argument from Netanyahu, that he may not have wanted to do it, what is your analysis to having -- knowing the politics of that country so well, of these election results tonight in Israel. MITCHELL: The results are strikingly similar to that of 2009, the election when I was there, when Netanyahu was elected to second term. Actually, he fell -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- slightly behind the then centrist party, Kadima, with 128 seats, Likud, 126. But the breakdown in the Knesset, where you need 61 out of 120 votes, tends to favor the conservatives because many of the smaller and religious and subtler parties are on the right. And so, I think, the math this time, although I haven`t seen any official figures, is likely to produce a similar result. Although during his 10th time in office, Prime Minister Netanyahu tried to broaden the base, tried to include centrist and left parties. I think the difficulty he`ll have now is he`s relying increasingly on a further and further right coalition that will make it extremely difficult for him to move away from any policies of the extreme right, which complicates Israel`s circumstance -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- in the international community. His support is very strong in the U.S. Congress and, particularly, in the House of Representatives. But, outside the United States, in Europe and Asia, it`s been declining for some time. And Israel is increasingly isolated. And I fear this will contribute to that, at least, for some period of time. MELBER: And then, turning to Iran, a lot of Americans were most acquainted with Bibi Netanyahu recently, when he spoke to the Joint Session of Congress, focusing on trying to, essentially, scuttle President Obama`s attempt at a diplomatic breakthrough there, to control Iran`s potential nuclear capacity. Your view on whether this victory affects that in any way, and whether the conservatives in this Congress who`ve been quoting Netanyahu to stop or thwart the President`s deal, should be celebrating tonight? MITCHELL: No, I don`t think it affects that. I think the real issue that affects that are the terms of the agreement. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) There`s broad support in this country and, surely, around the world for continuing these discussions. I think it`s only in the U.S. House of Representatives and the prime minister and his supporters in Israel, who strongly oppose these negotiations. But the real test will be the verification provisions in the agreement, and whether or not it will in fact have the effect of preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. I think that`s going to be the most difficult issue of all. (END VIDEO CLIP) I do think that if an agreement is reached, and the prime minister and his allies in the U.S. Congress are able to prevent it from taking effect, there will be real consequences for that. But, I think, the real test first is the substance of the agreement itself. MELBER: Yes. MITCHELL: And we have to hope that we`ll get a good agreement. MELBER: You mentioned trying to prevent it taking effect. Of course, most Republicans, Senate caucus, some of whom, your former colleagues, obviously already tried to directly intercede with the Ayatollah, do you think that complicates this and was the wrong move? MITCHELL: I think it`s unfortunate but I don`t think it`ll have a major effect on it. I think the great fallacy made by the President`s Congressional critics, and I`ve seen many of them on television, saying we should increase the sanctions. It`s the sanctions that got Iran into the table. And we should increase the sanctions. That`s the prime minister`s position as well. But that`s really a fantasy because the sanctions are effective, because they are universal. MELBER: Right. MITCHELL: This is not just the United States negotiating with Iran. It`s the United States and China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany. And if they all reach an agreement, and it`s scuttled by the opponents, all of those other countries are not going to increase the sanctions. And the sanctions will go from being effective, because they are universal, to unilateral sanctions, which will be ineffective. We could raise the sanctions to the sky, as the Republicans in Congress would like. By itself, -- MELBER: Right. MITCHELL: -- if it`s just the United States, they won`t be effective. MELBER: Right. They don`t act that well alone. The other thing I want to ask you before we let you go -- with all the news here about the President`s attorney general nominee, Loretta Lynch, Mitch McConnell, who has your old job, so to speak, -- (LAUGHTER) -- has not been allowing her a vote. Do you think he is out of bounds in his treatment of attorney general nominee, Loretta Lynch. MITCHELL: Well, I think she`ll be confirmed. And, look, let`s face it, every majority leader of every party has had to resort to tactics that don`t strike people as quite fair, delaying, linking issues. That`s what`s done by the opponents of the majority party. And that`s what the majority party resorts to. I don`t think this will be a very long delay. And I think she will be confirmed. MELBER: Former Senator George Mitchell, appreciate you joining us tonight and sharing your expertise. MITCHELL: Thank you. MELBER: Coming up, the growing appeal of ISIS, including -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- inside the United States. We`re going to look at the case of a U.S. Air Force veteran who, authorities say, tried to join ISIS. (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) Desperate Vanuatu residents are beginning to search for their families and homes after -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- a massive cyclone slammed the Pacific Island chain over the weekend, killing at least 11 people and destroying most of the country`s buildings. NBC`s Miguel Almaguer joins one mother on her journey home to Tana, one of the worst-hit islands there. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MIGUEL ALMAGUER, NBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A worried mother on long road home -- 28-year-old, Fabi Nagay, on a desperate journey to find her family. FABI NAGAY, TANA RESIDENT: I don`t know what they are doing, if my home is still there. ALMAGUER: When the storm hit three days ago, she was with her husband in Vanuatu`s capital, Port Vila. Her two-year-old son, her mother and her grandmother were here on Tana, which took a direct hit from the storm. She doesn`t know if they`re still alive. Heading to her remote village, we sent up a drone for a better look. This road wasn`t passable until now. Friends along the way speak of neighbors who didn`t survive. But they have no word about her family. After a hard 45-minute ride -- NAGAY: That`s my house there. ALMAGUER (on camera): Still standing. (voice-over): Nagay must go the rest of the way on foot. She finds her grandmother in the very spot she saw her last. NAGAY: (Speaking in different language). ALMAGUER: But where was Nagay`s son. NAGAY: (Speaking in different language). ALMAGUER: For three awful days, she had waited for this moment. NAGAY: (Speaking in different language). That`s my son. I`ve got my son alive. ALMAGUER: Moments later, Nagay is reunited with her mother. In the midst of so much devastation, this family has found what matters most -- each other. (CRYING) Miguel Almaguer, NBC News, Tana, Vanuatu. (END VIDEOTAPE) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MELBER: And, coming up, what made this U.S. Air Force veteran allegedly tried to pledge allegiance to ISIS. (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) As we`ve been reporting tonight, Loretta Lynch continues to face obstruction from Senate Republicans. But the attorney general-nominee is clearly hard at work in her current job as a top federal prosecutor in New York. Today, Lynch announced the indictment of 47-year-old, -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- Quote, "Pugh turned his back on his country," Lynch said today, "and attempted to travel to Syria in order to join a terrorist organization." The Obama administration has been aggressively -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- pursuing ISIS sympathizers here in the U.S., charging about 30 Americans now for backing terrorism over the past year and a half alone. Joining me now is Jonathan Dienst, Chief Investigative Reporter for NBC New York, who`s been covering this story. And, Rukmini Callimachi, a reporter for "The New York Times," who covers al-Qaeda and Islamic extremism broadly. Jonathan, you look at this kind of case, this is many people`s worst nightmare, an American, a soldier, a veteran here, who is trying to help our enemies. JONATHAN DIENST, CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, NBC NEW YORK: They say he converted to Islam in 1988. There was some suspicion back in 2001. Co- workers, when he was working as a mechanic for American Airlines, -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- say he voiced support for Osama Bin Laden. No charges at that time. He then took jobs overseas, in Kuwait, in Egypt, in the Middle East and, apparently, became increasingly radicalized. Investigators say they found over 180 ISIS-related videos on his computers, on his hard drives. And that that, in part, is what they think led this 47-year-old to become increasingly radicalized. And they say, back at the end of last year, into January, he allegedly tried to travel to Turkey to cross into Syria to join with ISIS. (END VIDEO CLIP) MELBER: Yes. And, , the Internet here was a tactic for him. And investigators have put out evidence that`s showing him literally Googling how to find the crossing points, who was in charge of Kobani. I mean, this is self-help kind of terror training. And yet, there`s a deeper radicalization that`s going on with some people here. RUKMINI CALLIMACHI, REPORTER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Yes. I think what we`re seeing right now is that there`s actually a system for recruiting these people. It`s become codified. Right now, I`m studying a recruitment manual that was found by U.S. forces in Iraq in 2009, belonging to al-Qaeda in Iraq, which is a precursor to ISIS. And that manual sets out so much of what we`re seeing today. These recruiters are online. They`re trolling for people that are -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- seekers, you know, that are missing something in their lives. It could be a variety of things. And they then approach them and essentially become their bestfriend, their sympathizer, their online friend. And, very slowly from there -- not very slowly, actually through quite a series of rapid steps, they then are able to radicalize -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- them by bringing them into the fold of radical Islam. MELBER: And, Jonathan, we reported here this started in January, this indictment, and arraignment now is tomorrow. What has been the secret process the U.S. has been using over the past two months. DIENST: You know, they arrested him on a criminal complaint. Egypt, after he was kicked out of Turkey and sent back to Egypt, Egypt kicked him out and sent him back to -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- the U.S., where he is from. He was born and raised on the Jersey Shore. He`s an American citizen. And he was sent back here to the U.S. out of Kennedy Airport. The FBI basically followed him for one day, got a search warrant and, in secret, picked him up, held him in custody. It was a sealed court hearing when he was first picked up in January. Apparently, the FBI was trying to turn to see what he knew, who else he could talk about or, perhaps, he can cooperate. Apparently, that did not happen in the end. It`s now March, several months later, and he is now going to appear in public, in court, for the first time tomorrow. (END VIDEO CLIP) MELBER: So, you -- just to be clear, you`re saying, we learned about this all in public today. But, if you were in the secret FBI clearance, they`ve been working on this for two months, it hasn`t leaked. DIENST: At least. And, also, certainly, what else do the Egyptians and the Turks know about him, leading up to his attempt to travel into Syria. MELBER: And, Rukmini, what do you say to the counter-argument here that some people make, which is that, often, you have authorities sweeping people up before they join the battlefield, which may be a good security policy. But it raises the question whether these people are sometimes just deranged, disturbed, perhaps, evil -- harboring evil tendencies, but not actually able to operationally become terrorists. CALLIMACHI: I`m speaking to a young woman right now, who was about to join ISIS and ended up pulling away just at the last minute. And that`s exactly what she said to me, "I was going there to be a wife of a fighter." MELBER: Uh-huh. CALLIMACHI: "I was not going to be a fighter. So, what`s wrong with that." CALLIMACHI: The FBI`s response to that is that the statute that they`re getting them -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- on is material support. MELBER: Material support, sure. CALLIMACHI: Materialism. And material support is anything, including yourself. You, as a human being, going over there and providing whatever service you`re providing, is a material support. Of course, some of these people are mentally disturbed. But it still acts as helping their cause if they`re able to bring them there. And any American is, I think, a big -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- prize for ISIS. DIENST: I think not only a prize. But you`ve got to remember, this man was in the military. MELBER: Yes. DIENST: He has aviation experience, training with electronics and, perhaps, even with drones or aircraft. So, could have been an added value -- CALLIMACHI: For sure. DIENST: -- for any terror group should he had made it there. MELBER: You know, you can bet we would be hearing a lot more about him if he did go as an American veteran and actually connect with ISIS. Jonathan Dienst and Rukmini Callimachi, thank you both for your reporting. And, coming up, a bold move that spoke -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- volumes. What made this rising NFL star decide to actually just up and retire at the age of 24. (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) U.S. Secret Service is investigating a letter sent to the -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- White House that tested positive for cyanide. The Secret Service says the First Family was never in any danger. And, the letter, now being tested at another separate facility. The envelope listed a return address for a man who has a record with the Secret Service dating back to 1995. That`s according to the news site, "The Intercept." And, coming up next, -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- one of the NFL`s top rookies retiring because he fears pro-football is just too dangerous. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) One of the NFL`s top rookies is retiring because of concerns over the long- term effects of repetitive head trauma. Twenty-four-year-old linebacker, Chris Borland, one of San Francisco 49ers, telling ESPN`s "Outside the Lines," he made the decision to retire from football after consulting with experts and his family. NBC`s Joe Fryer has more. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JOE FRYER, NBC WEST COAST CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Fresh off a breakout rookie year, 24-year-old, Chris Borland, is ending his NFL career before injuries do. The linebacker cited growing concerns about the impact of concussions in an interview with ESPN`s "Outside the Lines." CHRIS BORLAND, LINEBACKER, 49ERS: Individual health is -- there`s few things in the world more important than that. I just don`t want to get in a situation where I`m negotiating my health for money. FRYER: The announcement stunned 49er fans. UNIDENTIFIED MALE 49ERS FAN: The sport is important but, being a sports fan, it`s not more important than the individual players and their families. FRYER: So far, this off-season, four well-known players, age 30 or under, have retired, including another 49er, Patrick Willis. PATRICK WILLIS, FORMER NFL PLAYER: Honestly, I pay attention to guys when they`re finished playing, you know, walking around and they`ve got no hips, and they can`t play with their kids." FRYER: Fellow players are largely supportive -- "Guys deciding to walk away from the game at a young age is a great reminder to us all that life has a bigger picture." Though Seahawk Bobby Wagner tweeted, "No offense to anyone but I`m playing until I can`t anymore. I love this game too much." DAN DIAMOND, FORBES.COM CONTRIBUTOR: One question has been, "Is this a new era to the NFL?" And I don`t think we can know that yet. But it does seem like it`s a new moment for the league. FRYER: The NFL says, "Football has never been safer and we continue to make progress with rule changes, safer tackling techniques, and better equipment, protocols and medical care for players." But one young player is not willing to take the chance. Joe Fryer, NBC News, Santa Clara, California. (END VIDEOTAPE) MELBER: Very interesting story there. You have been watching THE LAST WORD. I am Ari Melber. You can find me on Instagram or on Twitter@AriMelber. And, now, Chris Hayes is up next. END