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The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 04/02/15

Guests: Fred Kaplan, James Traub, Robert Costa, Marion Poizeau, GarrettEpps, Greg Louganis, Joy Reid, Scott Conroy, Robert Costa

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: O`Donnell, good evening Lawrence. LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Well, Rachel, now -- MADDOW: Yours, all yours, it`s yours alone. That does it for us tonight, we will see you again tomorrow, now it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good evening Lawrence. O`DONNELL: Well, Rachel, now I know what I`m getting you for your next birthday -- MADDOW: That`s right, ticket to Oregon -- O`DONNELL: I`m going to find you a piece of that carpet -- MADDOW: Yes -- O`DONNELL: I`m going to get you some, and I have 364 days to find it. MADDOW: Challenge accepted, thank you my friend -- O`DONNELL: Thanks Rachel. Well, President Obama got a much better deal with Iran than any outside observers of the negotiation expected us, especially the President`s critics. If the deal holds, it will be America`s most important foreign policy achievement in decades. Republican presidential candidates have been slow to react to the deal because they are still in the process of changing their stories about what religious freedom should mean in Indiana. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tonight, the United States could be entering a new era in its relationship with Iran. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have finally reached an agreement on an outline for a nuclear deal. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Iran agrees to very intrusive inspections for many years. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To assure anybody who had concerns, our program is exclusively peaceful. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The issues at stake here are bigger than politics. These are matters of war and peace. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Horrific events in Kenya -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mass gunmen stormed a college campus. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They started jumping up and down, running for their lives. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The al Qaeda-linked terror group al-Shabab is claiming responsibility. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At least 147 people are dead. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here in New York, two women are under arrest, accused of plotting to set off bombs in the U.S. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They never actually got their hands on any kind of finished bombs. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Investigators believe they were inspired in part by ISIS. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chilling new details about Andreas Lubitz had recently researched cockpit security and ways to commit suicide. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: French salvage teams have found second black box -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Investigators hope to learn what co-pilot Andreas Lubitz was doing when he was alone in the cockpit. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today, Republican governors in both Indiana and Arkansas signed new versions of religious freedom laws. GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R), ARKANSAS: And I think it sends us the right signal -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Indiana Republicans unveiled changes -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would not allow businesses to refuse service to gays and lesbians. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But it was clear that the perception had to be addressed. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know that this is only the beginning. The end is that the equality guaranteed to all other Hoosiers is guaranteed also to us. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Damage control continues today in Indiana and Arkansas as the governors of both states signed new versions of their so-called religious Freedom Restoration Acts after changing their positions and agreeing with the critics of the original laws passed by their legislatures. And Indiana, Republican Governor Mike Pence signed a new bill without any public ceremony and then tweeted, "I`ve signed RFRA clarification bill, resolving controversies and asking clear every -- I can`t read this thing. Back it up a little bit. I`m asking -- I`m making -- oh, OK, teleprompter is not the same as the tweet. Making clear every person feels welcome and respected in our state is best for Indiana." In Arkansas, Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson signed a new version of the bill, and said this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HUTCHINSON: And I think it sends us the right signal, the way this has been resolved to the world and to the country, that Arkansas understands the diversity of our culture and workforce. But also the importance of balancing that with the -- with our sincerely held religious convictions." And so this is -- mirrors the federal law, and that was the objective. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Indiana`s Republican house speaker offered this apology today. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BRIAN BOSMA, SPEAKER, INDIANA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: A lot of humbling moments over the last week. And I had -- one of those was when I had the chance to sit down with Greg Louganis and spent about an hour just visiting. And he shared with me the personal hurt that he felt when he heard the incorrect message that Indiana supported discrimination against the LGBT community. I extended an apology to him, not for actions taken, but for messages received. And we extend -- I personally extend that policy -- that apology to anyone that received that same message. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Greg Louganis, four-time Olympic gold medalist and LGBT activist. Also joining us, Joy Reid, an Msnbc national correspondent. Scott Conroy, senior political reporter for "The Huffington Post" and Garrett Epps, a contributing editor at "The Atlantic" and law professor at the University of Baltimore. Garrett Epps, you`ve been guiding us through the laws since this started and the changes in the laws, what do you make of the new laws in Indiana and Arkansas? GARRETT EPPS, NOVELIST & LAW PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF BALTIMORE: Well, these are -- these are very significant changes that were made. They`re not cosmetic at all. And the question was when we looked at these laws was, would the final measures that went into effect make things worse in those states for lesbian and gay people. And the answer seems to be in both cases, no. That the sponsors of this legislation have backed way off some of the possible effects. In Indiana, what they have done is made it clear that if there are local ordinances, and there are a number of communities in Indiana that have local ordinances, protecting against discrimination. That this will not provide a defense for any provider of commercial services, housing, employment and so forth, they will not be able to plead religious freedom under the statute as a defense to an action under those local ordinances. So that`s a tremendous step forward. It doesn`t provide extra protection. There`s still no state-wide civil rights act for gays and lesbians. But this makes things no worse. In Arkansas, remarkably enough, the legislature did exactly what governor Hutchinson asked it to do. Throughout this debate, we`ve been told why are you so upset? These laws only mirror the federal law, and as you know, we`ve said over and over, they don`t, there`s significant changes. And particularly the Arkansas law which was incredibly aggressive in asserting a new, broad religious exemption claim, they`ve gone back to the language of the federal statute. So it doesn`t make any mention of corporations, it doesn`t make any mention of private suits. It had a very strict standard that they had apparently invented, which has now gone back to the federal standard. It`s a tremendously improved bill. O`DONNELL: Greg Louganis, tell us about what apparently, according to the speaker, was your emotional meeting with the speaker of the house in Indiana. GREG LOUGANIS, SWIMMER: Well, mostly what I can speak to is my own personal experience growing up as a gay child. You know, I suffered from a lot of bullying and, you know, and I also tried to commit suicide. We have the highest suicide rate amongst our gay teens. My concern was what kind of message are we sending our LGBT youth, you know, who might be struggling with those questions of, you know, of figuring out their own sexual identity. And so, you know, those were the -- my own personal stories and my own journey in discovering of who I am. I`m a gay man, I`m living with HIV, I got legally married in the state of California to my soul mate, Johnny Chaillot. So, you know, it`s -- I was just sharing my story and who I am as a whole person. O`DONNELL: Greg, did it seem like the speaker of the house was in the first such conversation of his life about these subjects with you? LOUGANIS: You know, I`m not sure. I`m not sure, it`s -- but, you know, I -- you know, I don`t think so. But you know, I think it just kind of heightened the awareness and how -- you know, young people struggle, I mean going through your adolescence. I mean, you know, whether you`re overweight or if you wear braces and you feel different. And you know, growing up as a gay kid and being called sissy boy, getting beat up at the bus stop and getting my lunch money taken away from me on a regularly basis. You know, those are the kind of things that I lived through. Those were -- you know, they also made me stronger, but at the same time, I mean, those were -- you know, I really am concerned about what kind of message that we do send to our young people. O`DONNELL: Joy Reid, Greg Louganis went to Indiana early in the week before we knew what this outcome was going to be, it has been a remarkable turnaround and it seems like the Republicans there are still on very shaky footing. I mean that speaker of the house saying, you know, been really humbled this week -- JOY REID, MSNBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes -- O`DONNELL: And that`s one way of putting it. REID: Yes, and first of all, can I just say how cool it is to be on TV with Greg Louganis -- O`DONNELL: Yes, you can -- REID: I watched the -- O`DONNELL: Take your time -- REID: Olympics, you know I thought -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- REID: It`s super cool. O`DONNELL: Wait a minute, two-shot, Greg and Joy, this is their lot -- REID: This is really cool to be on TV with you. So I was smiling when I was watching the house speaker. And I don`t want to, you know, not take somebody at their word that his heart was moved by Greg Louganis` story, who wouldn`t be? Greg Louganis` story is not new. The idea of gay marriage is hardly new. I do wonder at this shock that anyone could possibly take it the wrong way that a bill that explicitly states that a private florist or photographer has a legal defense if they decide they affirmatively do not want to do business with a couple that it maintains to be great like Greg Louganis. So they`re shocked that it would not -- not the action, but the perception that somehow that was bad. And that these laws suddenly broke out 20 years after the -- both the case that precipitated the federal law and something like 70 -- actually 25 years after that. And something like 17 years after the flurry of state laws that were responses to it, to the federal version of this law. Suddenly Indiana, whose next door neighbor state Illinois has just gone through a debate over gay marriage, suddenly decided the need to have this law? What were their intervening events? Well, I don`t know, Hobby Lobby, maybe the acceleration of the possibility-probability the Supreme Court is going to strike down the defense of marriage acts. I mean, are they really expecting us to believe now, Mr. speaker of the house, that you had no idea that this law contained such things? I don`t find that to be genuine. O`DONNELL: And Scott, we don`t just have this backing down and reversals in Arkansas and Indiana, at least three other states that were right in the process of writing this stuff into law -- SCOTT CONROY, SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER, THE HUFFINGTON POST: Yes -- O`DONNELL: Just put down their pens and said, yes, we don`t have to vote on this. CONROY: Plus, I think we should take a step back and just think, you know, a decade ago, in 2004, George W. Bush run overtly in Ohio -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- CONROY: And probably won the presidency you might say, campaigning against gay marriage. And it`s really -- I mean it can`t be said enough how much the country has shifted on this issue. We`re talking about Arkansas, we`re talking about Indiana, and within a couple of days, these guys bowed down to public pressure. And I think we should keep that in mind -- REID: Well, it was a public pressure because remember, we have this three- legged stool of the Republican Party; that`s the tea party, the evangelicals and the corporations that are the real people in charge. When the big corporations start telling you, you may not do that, the Republican Party is highly responsive to that, and I`m glad you mentioned George W. Bush. Because why did George W. Bush break -- well, he didn`t really break the tie in 2000, but why did he beat Al Gore? Who should have been able to sail into the White House based on just the Clinton economic record. Because they put -- they litigated the idea of morality, of moral decline, and George Bush promised to be the guy who is going to stand up for Bible- believing right-wing Christians. In 2004, by reiterating and doubling down on that, he got 78 percent of the evangelical vote, 10 percent more than he got in 2004, and he never did deliver. There is no federal ban on gay marriage, this is what he promised. Evangelicals are holding the Republican Party to account more than they`ve ever done, these laws were their attempt to do constituent service. O`DONNELL: Yes, it was paid back. Greg Louganis, quickly before we go, is it -- what is your sense about how powerful the corporate response to this was? The personal response that you brought to it obviously was very powerful. But what about the corporate part of it? LOUGANIS: Well, you know, it`s -- they`re going to make the difference in making those changes. You know, because I mean -- you know, that is revenue into their pockets. And you know -- and decisive action needs to be taken. And you know, that`s the only way that we`re going to make -- be able to create change. You know, otherwise, it`s just going to be lip service. O`DONNELL: Greg -- LOUGANIS: You know, people have to be -- take decisive action and you know, stand by their word and not be a hypocrite. O`DONNELL: Greg Louganis, thank you very much for joining us again tonight, and let`s get one more two-shot of Joy Reid and Greg Louganis -- REID: After being a -- LOUGANIS: And suddenly -- REID: Leading fan girl -- O`DONNELL: Now, let`s get that two-shot out there, I want to see that, so Joy can have that two-shot -- REID: I remember watching you though -- O`DONNELL: No -- CONROY: It`s not the right thing -- O`DONNELL: That`s not Greg -- LOUGANIS: I love you -- O`DONNELL: OK, the control room got it -- REID: Oh -- O`DONNELL: Here we go, finally, here we go -- REID: Can somebody take a shot of the screen -- O`DONNELL: All right -- REID: For me later -- O`DONNELL: Here we go -- REID: This week -- O`DONNELL: We`re going to save that for you -- REID: OK -- O`DONNELL: That`s going to be there. Thank you, Greg, and Garrett Epps, thank you again for guiding us through the law on this one more time, thank you very much. EPPS: Enjoyed it. O`DONNELL: Coming up, Jeb Bush continues to evolve on so-called religious freedom laws and Ted Cruz has a new opponent for the Republican Nomination, the Fortune 500. And why John Kerry will now be a front-runner for the Nobel Peace Prize if the deal with Iran works. And later, in one of the most dangerous areas of Iran, women have decided suddenly to take up surfing. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: Today, New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez pleaded not guilty to bribery charges. And tonight, the "New York Times" has an editorial saying that he should step down. And the "Times" specifically takes issue with -- "Mr. Menendez`s efforts on behalf of Dr. Melgen`s young foreign girlfriends who needed visas to spend time with him in the United States." And so the "New York Times" editorial board says that Senator Menendez would be doing a disservice to New Jersey by clinging to power as a disgraced politician, his colleagues in the Senate should demand that he step aside. Up next, Ted Cruz has 500 new opponents and they all run the biggest companies in America. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: Jeb Bush was in favor of Indiana`s so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act before he was against it. Just like Indiana`s Governor Mike Pence. Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz believes Indiana got it right the first time, and now it`s Ted Cruz versus the Fortune 500. In Iowa last night, Ted Cruz said "the Fortune 500 is running shamelessly to endorse the radical gay marriage agenda over religious liberty. To say, we will persecute a Christian pastor, a Catholic priest, a Jewish rabbi, any person of faith is subject to persecution if they dare disagree, if their religious faith parts way from their political commitment to gay marriage." Today, the dean of conservative columnist George Will invoked Shakespeare in a column that said, "Ted Cruz is delusional to think that there are millions of conservatives who have not been voting in presidential elections who will suddenly come running from out of nowhere to vote for Ted Cruz." The column amounted to a mathematical proof that Ted Cruz could not be elected president. Joining us now is Robert Costa, national political reporter for "The Washington Post". So Robert, it sounds like Ted Cruz has the Fortune 500 right where he wants them. Just pounding away at them every day now. ROBERT COSTA, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: It`s really a populist message from Senator Cruz, he knows that when he talks to activist on the campaign trail, they are frustrated what they see as a corporatist strain in the Republican Party. This push towards big business, I mean Jeb Bush is that establishment candidate, he`s rallying against it. O`DONNELL: Well, here is what he said in "The Morning" tonight, this is Ted Cruz continuing this religious thing. He said "religious liberty is so under assault, it`s never been more under assault as it is right now in this country. And religious liberty is not just a French issue, it`s an issue that unifies us, that brings us together. America is a country that was founded by men and women fleeing religious oppression and coming here, seeking a nation where everyone of us can seek out God Almighty with all of our heart, mind and soul, free of the government getting in the way." Joy Reid, it`s going to be the religious liberty campaign. REID: I think so, and I think that Ted Cruz, well, he has of course no prayer of getting the nomination there, you know, let alone make president. He does have the ability to complicate matters for somebody like Jeb Bush, who does represent the corporate sort of establishment-wing of the party. Look, the reality is -- I was reading a lot of national review today. There is a part of the Republican base that feels that their very thoughts are being criminalized. And there was this piece in the "National Review" talking about the criminalization of the conservative mind. That essentially, there is a liberal desire to literally put people in jail for not believing and agreeing with things like gay marriage. And they are -- they are warning and scaring that part of their base to believe that they are literally under that kind of criminal threat. And so you do have a constituency out there and Ted Cruz is more than willing to try to take it. The question is going to be, what does Jeb Bush do? Because Jeb has tried to stray in these waters before. Remember Terri Schiavo, he kept this poor woman on a ventilator for months and months against her family`s will. That was an attempt to cater to the extreme part of that base. What does Jeb Bush do? His brother was the guy who promised to represent evangelicals and never delivered. What does he do? O`DONNELL: Scott Conroy, what does he do? CONROY: I -- O`DONNELL: What does Jeb do? CONROY: Well, what does Jeb do? You know what? I will not be surprised if Jeb gets the nomination when this thing is all said and done, if he ends up evolving in the way that President Obama evolved on this issue. I mean, you look at who Jeb Bush has hired to run his campaign, a guy by the name of Dave Kochel who is, you know, very supportive of gay rights. But I think they`re going to -- they`re going to get through the primary, they`re going to see if he can -- if he wins the nomination. If the Supreme Court comes down and does legalize same-sex everywhere, I think that does give Jeb an opportunity to evolve. Back to Cruz, I was actually with him in New Hampshire over the weekend on his first stint on the campaign trail, and he was wearing that headset microphone that we -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- CONROY: Saw a shot of the whole time, I thought that was very telemarketer of him. But you know, he is trying to be Mr. conservative on every level. This is all about Iowa right now. He wants to be the alternative to Jeb Bush. So he`s not going to -- he`s not going to bend on any issue at all, and that`s what we`re going to see this -- O`DONNELL: Robert Costa -- CONROY: Whole time -- O`DONNELL: What do you make of George Will`s Math today, his column in "The Washington Post", his syndicated column that says, the votes simply don`t exist in America to elect a Ted Cruz president. COSTA: Cruz`s calculus is that there`s supposedly -- there`s evangelical Christian-wing of the Republican Party that wasn`t enthused for Mitt Romney in 2012 and stayed home. And he believes he can get them to come out by having this fierce message on the Affordable Care Act, when it comes to issues like religious liberty. Will just does not believe that electorate exists. He does not think that there`s a silent majority of conservatives ready to swell up and support Cruz. But Cruz is going to be a factor, and I would respectfully disagree with Scott`s notion that Bush may shift in the general election on gay marriage. What we`re seeing right now is a lock-step message from these Republican candidates. They were with Pence almost immediately and automatically after this became a controversy. And they`re still pretty much with him, Bush walked back his comments, but when it comes to the cultural wars, the hard right of the Republican Party is really direct in the party at this point. REID: You know, and I agree, because remember a guy named Rick Santorum who also had no chance of being president, but he came really close and he was very competitive. Remember the map, you got to get your ultra right-wing Iowa, let`s say Bush comes in third in Iowa, then he`s got to win New Hampshire. Then they head to South Carolina, the Bible Belt, he cannot do a Rudy Giuliani strategy and wait for Florida to save him, he`s got to win one of those early primaries. O`DONNELL: Right -- REID: So I would rather -- I think that there is enough of a constituency out there to make it very complicated for Jeb Bush, and he has even signaled that he`s willing to change his mind? CONROY: I`m suggesting he`s going to -- REID: He`s gone -- CONROY: There`s no -- O`DONNELL: Right -- CONROY: Chance, there`s zero chance -- O`DONNELL: Right -- CONROY: He is going to signal he is going to change his mind in the primaries, zero chance. And this is speculation on my part -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- CONROY: But I think it`s not a conceivable. If the issue is taken off the table by the Supreme Court, you know, Republican donors are largely supportive of same-sex marriage rights at this point. I mean we can see that in the way that he`s softened already on this -- on this issue. So, you know, a lot of people thought that, you know, President Obama would never shift, he did, I don`t think it`s inconceivable. O`DONNELL: All right, that will be the last word on for now. Scott Conroy, thanks for joining us tonight. Coming up, the historic framework between Iran and the United States that even Bill O`Reilly now supports. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: President Obama announced a historic breakthrough with Iran today in negotiations in Switzerland led by Secretary of State John Kerry help produced the framework of an agreement that will prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. With his announcement today, the President picked up a surprising ally, Bill O`Reilly. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: We only have three options for addressing Iran`s nuclear program. First, we can reach a robust and verifiable deal, like this one, and peacefully prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. BILL O`REILLY, AUTHOR & TELEVISION HOST: He wants a deal, he thinks it`s the best way to control the Iranians, and he might be right. OBAMA: The second option is we can bomb Iran`s nuclear facilities, thereby starting another war in the Middle East and setting back Iran`s program by a few years. In other words, setting it back by a fraction of the time. O`REILLY: You don`t want a war with Iran, you don`t want to be bombing that country because the unintended consequences would set the world aflame. So if you can get something that`s decent, you give it a shot, I think that`s a legitimate point. OBAMA: Third, we could pull out of negotiations, try to get other countries to go along and continue sanctions that are currently in place or add additional ones and hope for the best. The third option leads us very quickly back to a decision about whether or not to take military action. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: The deal announced today is far more comprehensive than anything people outside the negotiations expected to emerge. All of Iran`s nuclear facilities will be available for inspection at any time, and inspectors will also have access to all points in the supply chain that supports Iran`s nuclear program. Nuclear-related sanctions will be suspended if Iran verifiably abides by its commitments. At any time, if Iran fails to abide by its commitments, these sanctions will snap back into place. Some sanctions against Iran will continue. U.S. sanctions against Iran for terrorism, human rights abuses and ballistic missiles, will remain in place. GRETCHEN CARLSON, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: What about the fact that they are a state-sponsor of terrorism. BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: Bad country. But we`ve negotiated with bad people in the past. It`s a bad country. So, the thing is, do you destroy the bad country? We could do that. But that would be a world war, or do you deal with a bad country and try to make it better. And that`s the path that the President wants to take. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Fred Kaplan of Slate and James Traub of "Foreign Policy" magazine. Joy Reid, I`m just going to sit back and let -- (LAUGHTER) -- Bill O`Reilly do my talking for me. JOY REID, MSNBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, I have -- O`DONNELL: But, you know, the reason I included him in there, -- REID: Yes. O`DONNELL: -- is that everything he was saying represents what would be the mainstream Republican thinking not so long ago. REID: Actually, Bill O`Reilly is right. I`ve never said that before -- (LAUGHTER) -- ever in my entire life. He`s absolutely right. We don`t want a war with Iran. It`s much smarter to do this deal. Sorry, Bibi Netanyahu, this is happening. O`DONNELL: Fred Kaplan, your reaction to the deal thing. FRED KAPLAN, JOURNALIST, "SLATE" MAGAZINE: You know, it`s not just a decent deal, as Bill O`Reilly put it, it`s actually one of the most detailed, specific, quantitative and restrictive arms deals that, -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- you know, I`ve ever seen and following this stuff for 40 years. I mean, it goes way beyond what anybody was anticipating at this stage, in terms of what it requires Iran to do and how much time it takes before the sanctions start to be suspended. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: There`s already talk of John Kerry for the Nobel Peace Prize. Ken Pollock, in an article in the "National Journal," I think it was, said Kerry will be in line for Nobel Peace Prize. KAPLAN: Well, honestly, this is still just a framework. O`DONNELL: Yes, assuming you get to something that`s in place. KAPLAN: There are a few things they need to hammer out -- O`DONNELL: Yes. KAPLAN: -- in detail, yes. But this is way more promising than anything I had anticipated. O`DONNELL: James Traub. JAMES: Yes. Before we give the Peace Prize to Kerry -- I mean, Obama has already got one, you can`t give him two. O`DONNELL: Right. (LAUGHTER) -- But, let`s remember that from the first days of his tenure, Barack Obama has said, "This is the goal." This is the -- O`DONNELL: Yes. TRAUB: -- the most important thing he`s been trying to do. O`DONNELL: Yes. TRAUB: And, I think, if you look at -- O`DONNELL: And said it in the campaign before he ever -- TRAUB: Yes. O`DONNELL: -- chose John Kerry as secretary of state. TRAUB: Well, no, this is four years before, right. O`DONNELL: Yes, yes. TRAUB: And so, from the beginning, when he sends his now ruse New Year`s message to Iran in the hopes that -- O`DONNELL: Yes. TRAUB: -- they can soften them up, which didn`t work, and then, he turned to other countries and said, "Look, I tried to be nice. We`ve tried to be reasonable. It`s not working, we`ve got to put sanctions on them." He got them to agree in 2010. It didn`t do any good until the new president of Iran was elected. Maybe, in part, because of the sanctions bit. Since that time in 2013, he`s had a negotiating partner. They`ve negotiated for two years. They`ve reached a good deal. I think Obama gets tremendous credit for this. O`DONNELL: He really does. Let`s listen to what he said today about the question people should ask the critics. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: So, when you hear the inevitable critics of the deal sound off, ask them a simple question -- "Do you really think that this verifiable deal, if fully implemented, backed by the world`s major powers, is a worse option than a risk of another war in the Middle East." Is it worse than doing what we`ve done for almost two decades with Iran, moving forward, with its nuclear program and without robust inspections? I think the answer would be clear. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Joy, what`s Congress` answer in a bit. REID: Well, you know what, I have no idea how the Tom Cotton faction, the 47 geniuses, decided -- O`DONNELL: You know what he thinks. REID: Yes. O`DONNELL: He thinks it`s the worst deal ever. REID: Horrible idea. O`DONNELL: And I`m not going to bother to read it. REID: Yes. O`DONNELL: It`s just like the worst possible thing that ever happened. TRAUB: A lot of talk about Chamberlain, Munich -- REID: Yes, exactly. O`DONNELL: Yes. REID: Look, remember that the last -- remember what precipitated the Iraq invasion. It was this idea that we couldn`t bring Saddam Hussein`s Iraq under the regime of inspections for his nuclear facilities, and so we had to go to war. Well, you know what, if this works, we are now going to make a deal, to avoid war, with the country that our Iraq invasion put substantially in charge of Iraq, and a nation that, now, is helping in the two-front now war against ISIS. They are a regional actor that has been rational in their behavior, to the extent that we need them to be to keep some stability in the region. It makes perfect sense to do this deal rather than launch yet another military adventure in a sense. O`DONNELL: You know, Fred, when you look at this deal and how momentous it really is, I have the view that, it just maybe, that everyone involved, including be Bibi Netanyahu, did everything they needed to do to get this deal. The Iranians need to hear that Bibi Netanyahu hates this deal or they couldn`t possibly have come to an agreement. KAPLAN: You may be right. But, you know, let`s look at Bibi Netanyahu`s view. Let`s say that this was rejected, because, well, it doesn`t destroy all of their nuclear facilities and they can still enrich some uranium. And so, let`s say you get rid of it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OK, he`s afraid that Iran might get a nuclear weapon 10 years down the road. But what about six months? And he`s afraid that, "Oh, well, you know, you loosen the sanctions, Iran will get strong." (END VIDEO CLIP) That`s true. But, look, the only reason why the sanctions regime has held up is because people have seen it as the lever to get a deal. If the deal falls apart, the sanctions are going to fall apart the very next day. And you`ll have an Iran that is uncontained in all other respects and as a potential nuclear power. O`DONNELL: James Traub, it would not be the first that the President of the United States -- I don`t think it`s happening in this instance but president has -- presidents in the past have said to the head of state in Israel, you know, "It would be helpful if you criticize me on this because it`ll get me a little bit closer with them." I don`t care what Netanyahu says. And, in fact, the more he attacks it, the better in a certain way. But if he really does actively try to stop it in the Congress, then that`s a different thing. TRAUB: You know, look, I think there`s three spoilers here. And we should be worried about all three. The most obvious one are the Iranian hardliners who could find a way of violating the terms of the agreement. O`DONNELL: Yes, true. TRAUB: And by secretly carrying on research and development, that destroys everything. Two, Netanyahu. What if he starts assassinating small nuclear scientists. Then the Iranians say, "There`s no deal." Three, of course, the Congressional Republicans. So, we can say as you did. You know what, it`s good they were so intransigent. But it`s not good if they continue to act on their intransigence after the deal. O`DONNELL: I just want them to fake it from this point forward. TRAUB: Absolutely. O`DONNELL: Yes. (LAUGHTER) TRAUB: Netanyahu can say privately to Obama, "Look, I`m going to keep beating you up. But, don`t worry, I know it`s a good deal." O`DONNELL: Yes, right. I`m not going to get in the way. KAPLAN: Listen, I -- O`DONNELL: Go ahead. KAPLAN: -- I think that is -- well, I was about to say, a reasonable Republican congressman but there aren`t many of those. But if anybody actually looked at this deal -- O`DONNELL: Uh-hmm. KAPLAN: -- and was briefed on it by somebody who could explain what it means and what the alternative mean, and if this person were honest with him or herself, there`s no way that -- REID: But, you know -- and the question is whether or not they are rational actors and whether or not then the White House decides to go to Congress at all. They don`t have to. But as a matter of trying to bring the country together, they could present it. That`s going to be the next sort of interesting thing to watch. O`DONNELL: Fred Kaplan and James Traub, thank you both for joining me tonight. I appreciate it. Coming up, President Obama`s nominee for attorney general has the -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- support of the majority of United States senators now, to be confirmed. But, since when is a majority enough in the United States Senate. (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) Today, Illinois Senator -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- Mark Curt became the fifth Republican senator to announce his support of President Obama`s choice to be the next attorney general, Loretta Lynch. That brings the official count of Senate support to the Loretta Lynch nomination to 51. Loretta Lynch could get more votes than that when her nomination comes to a vote on the Senate floor, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has, so far, refused to schedule that vote. Loretta Lynch is on the way to becoming the longest-waiting nominee for a Senate vote in the Obama, George W. Bush or Clinton administrations. What did Loretta Lynch do today while waiting to be confirmed? Much more than Mitch McConnell or any other senator who`s trying to block her confirmation. In her job as the U.S. Attorney for the Houston District of New York, she managed the prosecution side of two terrorism cases today. One case involves two women from Queens, New York, who are charged with plotting to set off bombs in a terrorist attack in the United States. Both women are U.S. citizens and former roommates. According to the federal complaint, 28-year-old, Noelle Valentzas, had a picture of Osama Bin Laden holding an AK-47 as background of her cell phone, and praised the 9/11 attacks to an undercover FBI agent. Thirty-one-year-old, Asia Siddiqui, bought four propane tanks, with plans on converting them to bombs. The other case involves -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- a Texas-born top al-Qaeda official, who was recently flown back to the United States after Pakistan officials detained him. He is charged with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists. With her statement on the case, U.S. attorney, Loretta Lynch, said, "Today`s arrests demonstrates that there is no escape from the long reach of our law for American citizens who seek to do harm to country on behalf of violent terrorists." Joining us now, Melanie Campbell, CEO and President of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, who has been lobbying Republican senators to vote for Loretta Lynch. Melanie Campbell, how`s it going. MELANIE CAMPBELL, CEO AND PRESIDENT, NATIONAL COALITION ON BLACK CIVIC PARTICIPATION: Well, we think that we`re making progress. We believe that when the Senate returns, that we are confident that they will -- Senator McConnell will bring her confirmation to a full vote on the floor. We are constantly urging them to do the right thing and vote her in as soon as they get back on April 13th. O`DONNELL: Robert Costa, 51 votes, possibly another -- maybe five Republican votes for her that are undecided at the moment. How does Mitch McConnell continue to deny a vote on this. ROBERT COSTA, POLITICAL REPORTER, "WASHINGTON POST": He doesn`t. You know, I spoke today, Lawrence, with several U.S. senators, Republicans. And they privately acknowledged in our conversations that this has gone on long enough. And they believe that much of the opposition to Ms. Lynch has not been about her biography, has not been about her records. It`s been about having a protest of their anger, about the immigration policies coming out of the White House and their frustration with current Attorney General Eric Holder. Now that the process has gone on long enough, I think the votes are there, especially with Mark Curt jumping in. Maybe it won`t even need Vice President Biden to be a tie-breaker. O`DONNELL: Robert Costa, when you say you were talking to Republican senators, who have the attitude that`s going on too long, does that include Republican senators who intend to just vote against her. COSTA: There is -- I would call it a large group of Republican senators right now, who will vote against Ms. Lynch but would like to see the standoff end. But because of pressure from the rural red states, from their constituents, who are angry about -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- immigration policy, they will vote no. But, privately, they know Lynch is qualified. And so, they`re ready to see her get -- processed through the Senate, even if they won`t vote for her. O`DONNELL: Joy Reid, that sounded like breaking news of sorts -- (END VIDEO CLIP) REID: I know right. O`DONNELL: -- from Robert Costa. REID: It`s good. O`DONNELL: He has great Republican sources on this thing. REID: Absolutely. But what I don`t understand about what Robert said is, if this is a fight that is about Republican senators` anger over immigration and Eric Holder, then why is this nominally a fight about a completely unrelated bill that has nothing to do with immigration, that had to do with trafficking and abortion. And why are they doing the very thing that will retain Eric Holder forever. I mean, this is how you keep Eric Holder, by not letting her be confirmed. I don`t understand it. O`DONNELL: Because they know Eric Holder wants to leave, so they want to be mean to him. (LAUGHTER) REID: And there are people wearing "Free Eric Holder" bracelets now at the DOJ, as you know, because it is nonsensical. They`re basically -- they`re keeping him hostage almost. O`DONNELL: Melanie Campbell, what Robert Costa just reported to us sounds like you will be getting very close on this when the senators go back in session. CAMPBELL: Well, we are going to continue to urge them throughout the Easter recess. Next week, we`ll be going to Senate offices, and we`ll continue -- we`ll be there on April 13th to continue to urge them. We will continue praying. It`s Easter Season, it`s Resurrection Sunday. Good Friday is tomorrow. And we know that working with Robert William Skinner (ph) and other, and faith leaders across this country, to really continue to pray that they do the right thing and go ahead and vote her in. She is well-deserving of this vote. O`DONNELL: Well, Melanie, you`ve got a majority now. Are you -- is it now just your intent to go to Republican Senate offices and ask them to simply allow the vote. CAMPBELL: I really believe that she deserves a full vote in the Senate. We know that she is highly qualified. It should not be a marginal vote. It really -- if the senators do the right thing, she`ll get a large vote in the Senate. O`DONNELL: Robert Costa, does Mitch McConnell have to kind of package this with some other thing that he`s doing for the right side of his party, the right wing side of his party, while he tries to get this nomination done. COSTA: He`s given a lot of time for Republicans to get out there and say their piece. But one part that I heard today that was really interesting, a tidbit from several senators -- that Lynch has impressed behind the scenes. And she really was crucial to getting Curt to come over to her side. She talked to him, sat down down with him, talked about gang violence in Chicago. And she`s done this with the other senators. She`s shown her competency as a U.S. attorney. And a lot of skeptics, wary Republicans, now, they`re with her. O`DONNELL: Yes, that`s the thing. I mean, she`s really impressive in person, so she can turn those votes. Thanks very much for joining us tonight. All of you, thank you very much, really appreciate it. CAMPBELL: Thank you. REID: Thanks, Lawrence. O`DONNELL: Coming up, -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- this is true -- surfing comes to Iran. (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) In this 40th Anniversary year of "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE," NBC has been running some of our favorite "SNL" episodes at 10:00 p.m. on Saturday night, leading up to the live version at 11:30. Last Saturday night, during the 10:00 p.m. broadcast of a 1986 "SNL" starting Sigourney Weaver as guest host, many of you rushed to Twitter, wondering if it was me in a commercial parody about a Broadway show. One tweet said, "One of the theater goers sure looked like Lawrence back in the day." Well, it was Lawrence back in the day. My very first paycheck for acting was for this tiny little bit in "SNL." Do not blink or you`ll miss me. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL AND UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE ACTRESS: I loved it. It was much better than "Cats." (LAUGHTER) I`m going to see it again and again. UNIDENTIFIED MALE VOICE-OVER: A spectacular evening of theatrical thrill. "The Amazing Alexander," the greatest hypnotist, brings his phenomenal one- man show to the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. The most mesmerizing show in Broadway history. But don`t take our word for it. Listen. UNIDENTIFIED MALE AND FEMALE ACTORS: I loved it. (LAUGHTER) It was much better than "Cats." (LAUGHTER) I`m going to see it again and again. MALE VOICE-OVER: The critics agree. Frank Rich of the "Times," says, "I loved it, much better than `Cats.` I`m going to see it again and again." (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) This is for the Broadway experience you`ll never remember. Don`t miss "The Amazing Alexander." (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Way better than "Cats." (COMMERCIAL BREAK) And, now, for the "Good News." The U.S. Coast Guard has rescued a man who`s been missing at sea for 66 days. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) Thirty-seven-year-old, Louis Jordan, sailed from Conway, South Carolina on January 23rd. This afternoon, a German tanker spotted Jordan sitting on his boat, about 200 miles East of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. They picked him up and then a Coast Guard helicopter carried Jordan to a hospital in Norfolk. He had survived by drinking rainwater and eating raw fish. (END VIDEO CLIP) Up next, women surfing in Iran. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) EASKEY BRITTON, PRO SURFER: I never could have imagined that this would have been possible. I came here three years ago, and there was nobody surfing. And, now, I look at it, I see more and more people at the beach every single day. I think the most powerful thing about surfing is being able to share that passion, and connecting people. And this is unbelievable. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Yes, that`s surfing in Iran. That`s a new documentary by French filmmaker, Marion Poizeau, called "Into The Sea." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) The film tells the story of Iran`s surfing pioneers in a part of the country near the borders with Pakistan and Afghanistan. It`s one of the only places in Iran with waves good enough for surfing. It`s also been called "the scariest little corner of the world" by "The New York Times" because of violence surrounding the trade of opium and heroin. For more, I`m joined by -- from France by the filmmaker, Marion Poizeau. Marion, how did you discover this surfing culture in Iran. MARION POIZEAU, FRENCH FILMMAKER: Well, there was no surfing culture -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- actually, that we introduced to surf. In other words, no one was surfing there at the beginning. And we knew that there would potentially be some waves because there was this thing called -- from Pakistan and a friend of ours went to Pakistan a year before. So, there was the idea that tried to check out if there were some waves. And we found them. O`DONNELL: And how is surfing changing that community. POIZEAU: I`d say it`s about sharing a sport for me, so I don`t know about changing. It`s just about sharing something, so we just came with the boards and the idea of sharing our passion anywhere, because a lot of people are joining. So, with change, I guess, help perception of the Iranians. It`s been changing for everyone. O`DONNELL: And how much did they know about surfing before you showed up there with those boards. Had they seen pictures or seen it on television. POIZEAU: In the region we surf, no. I don`t think they heard of it before. There`s just -- in Tehran or the city, yes, they knew. They know about surf of course. But no one was surfing there until now because of the region, how do you say, because they`re very dangerous, even in Iran. So, people were not going there for surf. O`DONNELL: And tell us about the organization you`ve set up that`s called "Waves of Freedom." POIZEAU: We`ve created with Easkey of service to the country because we wanted to get more features regards the project we were having in Iran and, you know, all the projects we have -- Iran and surf. So, we create this foundation to, yes, to get spread the story in a better and easier way. O`DONNELL: Marion Poizeau, thank you very much for joining us tonight. The -- POIZEAU: The documentary is called "Into The Sea." (END VIDEO CLIP) You can find out how to watch it on our Facebook page or on our Web site, LASTWORD.MSNBC.COM. Chris Hayes is up next. END