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

The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 10/05/15

Guests: E.J. Dionne, Tim Pawlenty, Michael Hiltzik, Christina Bellantoni;Yayo Grassi; Tom McLellan

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: That does it for us tonight, now it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell who is also here in L.A. tonight, hi, Lawrence. LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: So, Rachel, I`ll see you back at the house later. MADDOW: Indeed. O`DONNELL: Yes, OK -- MADDOW: Don`t tell the kids I`ll be late. O`DONNELL: OK -- (LAUGHTER) Thank you, Rachel. The Vatican now says that Kim Davis was not granted an individual audience with the Pope at his residence in Washington, so she`s not telling the truth about that part. The one man who was granted such an audience will join us tonight and tell us about bringing his boyfriend to meet the Pope. And we no longer have to try to predict when Donald Trump will drop out of the presidential race because he has predicted it himself. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I`m a more reserved person than maybe some people in politics are. I`ve had a hard couple of 22 years. (LAUGHTER) I also like to have a good time. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like who responds to the question, what is your favorite celebratory drink? CLINTON: A Martini, a Vodka Martini. (LAUGHTER) And in a James Bond way, you know, shake it. PIERCE BROSNAN, ACTOR: Not stirred. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A new report puts the spotlight on how Carly Fiorina`s failed senate campaign handled its cash. CARLY FIORINA, FORMER BUSINESS EXECUTIVE: All of our debt was paid off, everyone was paid in full. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She told her staff that this was really not her personal responsibility. FIORINA: And "The Washington Post" doesn`t have a lot of credibility here. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump still atop the latest Iowa and New Hampshire poll. CLINTON: Isn`t he the one that`s like -- you`re all losers. (LAUGHTER) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We build a wall, it`s huge -- (LAUGHTER) Over in China they`re going to say, now that`s a wall. (LAUGHTER) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trump said he would bow out if his poll numbers tanked. DONALD TRUMP, CHAIRMAN & PRESIDENT, THE TRUMP ORGANIZATIONS & FOUNDER, TRUMP ENTERTAINMENT RESORTS: I`m not a masochist, and if I was dropping in the polls where I saw that I wasn`t going to win, why would I continue? STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST: There is zero chance we`ll be seeing you being sworn in on the Capitol steps with your hand on a giant golden Bible. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: If the current trend in the latest "Nbc News"-"Wall Street Journal`s" Marist poll continues, the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination will drop out of the race by new year`s eve. Donald Trump said again this weekend that if he finds himself trailing in the polls, he will drop out of the race. He said that the day before the "Nbc News" poll showed him dropping seven points in New Hampshire where he is now still at the front of the pack with 21 percent. But if he drops seven points in the next month in New Hampshire, he will then be at 14 percent. And then if he drops another seven points in December, he would, of course be at 7 percent which is where Chris Christie is now in the New Hampshire poll in Chris Christie`s hopeless campaign for president. And if Donald Trump drops seven points in the next poll, he would be down to Mike Huckabee territory of 1 percent or 0 percent in New Hampshire in January, a month before the New Hampshire primary. According to that same poll in Iowa, Donald Trump dropped five points in the last month and still leads the field at 24 percent with Ben Carson five points behind him at 19 percent. Yesterday on "Meet the Press" for reasons known only to him, Donald Trump announced to the world that he is not a masochist. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: I`m not a masochist. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Of course, that`s not all he said. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: I`m not a masochist, and if I was dropping in the polls where I saw that I wasn`t going to win, why would I continue? And it`s funny, maybe it`s like -- not like me because it`s the power of positive thinking and I`m a very positive person, I`m a positive thinker, but the truth is, I`m a realist. If I were doing poorly, if I saw myself going down, if you would stop calling me because you no longer have any interest in Trump because he has no chance, I`d go back to my business, I have no problem with that. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: That was not the first time Donald Trump said he would drop out if he was losing, but Chuck Todd smartly double-underlined the point for anyone who hasn`t noticed that Trump has been saying this all along. Here`s Trump back in June on "MORNING JOE". (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: I want to do well, but I`m not a masochist. You know, I`ve always heard that a very successful person cannot run for political office. I`ve always heard that. Maybe it`s going to be true, I`m going to find out. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: And then there was this in July. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: I have to be myself, Don, I -- if, and if it`s not good enough, that`s OK, I`ll have a -- you know, I`ll go on to other things. I`ll ride into the sunset and do some more buildings and create some more jobs and that`s OK. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Tim Pawlenty, the former Republican Governor of Minnesota who ran for president in 2012, he`s now CEO of the Financial Services Roundtable. Also with us, E.J. Dionne, opinion writer for "The Washington Post" and an Msnbc political analyst and Michael Hiltzik, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist for the "Los Angeles Times". So, E.J. Dionne, Donald Trump wants you to know that when those poll numbers go down, he will ride off into the sunset in his 757, but most of all he wants you to know he`s not a masochist. EUGENE JOSEPH DIONNE, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: Well, I think he gave us the slogan for a great ad, Trump for president because he`s not a masochist. I don`t want a masochist -- O`DONNELL: He`s not a bumper sticker -- (CROSSTALK) DIONNE: Bumper sticker, I think we`re going to have buttons that -- print them up for the show. The part of the interview I love most that actually was, you know, Trump blurts out truth sometimes and he basically predicted a depression for the television industry if he dropped out of the race. He also said that I wouldn`t follow it, it`d be so boring if I weren`t in it. It was a very Trump-like moment. What you wonder about is, was what he said today true? I mean, we will find out if he follows that trajectory in the polls, because I think it`s pretty clear he needs another act or he`s probably going to stay on this downward trajectory when Hillary Clinton can do such a perfect imitation of him on "Saturday Night Live", and he`s got to try something else. O`DONNELL: Tim Pawlenty, what do you -- what do you make of Trump`s position on the Republican field? He plateaued a few weeks ago in these polls and now we see a downward trend in some of the polls. No upward trend anymore for Trump in any of the polls. TIM PAWLENTY, FORMER MINNESOTA GOVERNOR & CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, FINANCIAL SERVICES ROUNDTABLE: Well, I think his support has dissipated somewhat, Lawrence, and it`s in danger of dissipating further. But in a ten-way race, 20 percent, 25 percent still puts you at or near the top of the pack. And he can either rebound from there, but more realistically it`s probably a ceiling. So, as this field consolidates and it`s no longer ten people and it`s two or three or four more serious credible challengers, he`s going to have a harder time in front of them and plus the shtick is wearing a little thin. O`DONNELL: Tim Pawlenty, speak to the -- an issue that`s been brought up on this program a few times, which is the notion that Jeb Bush who is holding in Iowa and New Hampshire polls right below those top-tier candidates at the moment, Trump and Ben Carson. That he doesn`t have to worry because those states are about organization and he is building the organization, he has the money. How would you weigh those things? Your position in the polls versus your organization in a place like Iowa. PAWLENTY: Well, if you assume that Trump and Carson are going to deflate either dramatically or slowly, those two chunks of votes are basically placeholders for what I`d call the tea party angry group and the evangelicals with some exceptions -- that`s over generalizing. And as those votes get redistributed, they have to go to an acceptable second place or second choice candidate. For example, somebody like Marco Rubio, Jeb unfairly I think has been dubbed the establishment candidate. And the angry crowd, the tea party crowd and I think a good chunk of the evangelicals view him with some -- I don`t know, hesitancy. And so he`s going to have to up-sell to them in ways that he hasn`t been able to so far. O`DONNELL: I want to run to Carly Fiorina who`s responded now to a story in the "Washington Post" that revealed that she for quite a long time did not pay her campaign workers in her last and only political campaign when she ran for Senate in California. Let`s listen to what she said in her response to that. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think that you shouldn`t pay your staffers if you lose? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any explanation for why it took so long -- the payment? FIORINA: All of our debt was paid off and everyone was paid in full. So once again, "The Washington Post" doesn`t have a lot of credibility here. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What about the quote from your campaign manager saying that she asked you to pay them off? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that accurate? FIORINA: I have no idea what you`re talking about. I`m sorry. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Michael Hiltzik, you watched that campaign up close in California, and now it turns out she just started to pay those people back when she realized she was going to be running for president and that question would come up. MICHAEL HILTZIK, COLUMNIST, LOS ANGELES TIMES: Well, yes, this of course is not really news to us in California. We have known about her stiffing her campaign staff since I think 2013. And her approach to it or attitude seems to be -- look, it`s all paid off now, no harm, no foul. I think this is sort of characteristic of the way Carly Fiorina first of all ran her old campaign and also some of the things she did at Hewlett Packard. She made a lot of mistakes at Hewlett-Packard, somehow when the reckoning came, they were always somebody else`s fault. And I think we`re seeing that again now. She`s very insistent in defending herself, but there`s a robotic quality of it that we`re quite used to here from her last campaign and from her tenure at her company. O`DONNELL: We`ve shown the Barbara Boxer campaign ad that pretty much wiped out Carly Fiorina in California and not sure whether a Republican would run the same kind of ad about her corporate governance and how many people lost jobs, that sort of thing. But Michael, so far, are you watching a better candidate in Carly Fiorina this time than last time when she ran for Senate in California? HILTZIK: Well, I think she obviously has learned a lot. I don`t think she`s going to make all of the same mistakes that she made then. She`s not going to hire the same campaign advertisement consultant who made the sort of risible ad about Barbara Boxer. But I think we do have to remember that when Fiorina ran against Boxer, there was a real perception that Boxer was very vulnerable. Fiorina was a wealthy candidate, she was personable, she was very appealing and yet that campaign went nowhere. I think the Republicans in California were very disappointed at the way she performed on the stump. I think she`s doing better now, but I think she`s also saddled herself with campaign issues that are going to be very difficult for her if she makes it to the general election. O`DONNELL: Michael Hiltzik, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Coming up, Hillary Clinton is still trying to figure out how to beat Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire, but she certainly seems to think she can beat the Benghazi Committee when she testifies later this month. And later, Ted Kennedy`s son, Patrick, is breaking what he calls the Kennedy code of silence and talking about his father`s alcoholism and his own. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: The Pentagon changed its story today about what led to a U.S. airstrike on the only trauma hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, Saturday. At least 22 people were killed including doctors and patients. The Pentagon first said American troops had been in danger, but today, the Pentagon said Afghan forces were under fire there. Afghan officials say Taliban fighters were firing from the hospital. Doctors without borders, which runs the hospital, denies that and is calling the American airstrike a war crime. Up next, Hillary Clinton versus the Benghazi Committee. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, well, I`m just a darn bummed. All anyone wants to talk about is Donald Trump. CLINTON: Donald Trump? Isn`t he the one that`s like -- oh, you`re all losers? (LAUGHTER) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This has been so nice, you are really easy to talk to, Hill. CLINTON: Oh, thanks, you know, that`s the first time I have ever heard that. (LAUGHTER) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Male, oh, male -- I wish you could be president. CLINTON: Me, too! (LAUGHTER) (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: This weekend, Hillary Clinton became the first presidential candidate to appear on "Saturday Night Live" in this campaign season. She got very friendly treatment there. This morning on the "Today Show", she said this about the house Republicans handling of the Benghazi Committee. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLINTON: Look at the situation they chose to exploit to go after me for political reasons; the death of four Americans in Benghazi. I knew the ambassador. I identified him. I asked him to go there. I asked the President to nominate him. There have been seven investigations led mostly by Republicans in the Congress and they were nonpartisan and they reached conclusions that, first of all, I and nobody did anything wrong, but there were changes we could make. This committee was set up as they have admitted for the purpose of making a partisan political issue out of the deaths of four Americans. I would have never done that, and if I were president and there were Republicans or Democrats who were thinking about that, I would have done everything to shut it down. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: The new "Nbc News"-Wall Street Journal"-Marist poll of New Hampshire and Iowa shows no change in New Hampshire in the last month with Bernie Sanders at 48 percent, Hillary Clinton at 39 percent. The same poll shows no change among the Democrats in Iowa with Hillary Clinton in the lead there, now at 47 percent, Bernie Sanders 11 points behind at 36 percent. Today, Mike Allen reported this in "POLITICO", "confidants of Vice President Joe Biden expect him to make a decision next weekend or shortly thereafter on whether to launch an epic battle with Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination. Several people who have visited Biden recently said he seems to be leaning yes." Joining us now is Christina Bellantoni, Politics Assistant Managing Editor for the "Los Angeles Times". Christina, the Biden-factor changes of these polls, but doesn`t change who the frontrunner is in each state. Let`s take a look at New Hampshire with Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders stays in the lead at 42 percent, Hillary Clinton 28 percent, Joe Biden comes in there at 18 percent. And then in Iowa, Hillary Clinton stays in the lead at 33 percent, Bernie Sanders at 28 percent, Joe Biden at 22 percent, things tighten up there in Iowa. So, what do you expect the Biden factor to do? Are these polls basically telling us the story that Joe Biden`s candidacy won`t change the frontrunner status? CHRISTINA BELLANTONI, POLITICS ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR, LOS ANGELES TIMES: I think these polls are a reflection of how the American people feel about Joe Biden. Generally, we can all agree he is a likable politician that has been reflected in poll after poll through the course of his term in the vice presidency. But it`s a speculative issue. He`s not actually running. He hasn`t had to run a single ad or raise a single dollar or attack a single person because that`s one of the ways that you win a primary. And I think it`s also important to remember that he has run two times before. He knows what a grueling process it is. And you know, the polls reflect that he`s well known, he`s well liked. This unfortunately captures a lot of sympathy that he`s been getting from the American people since the loss of his son. And I predict that once he actually makes a decision to run or not, those numbers will change quite a bit. You know, the fact doesn`t change that he and Hillary Clinton ran against each other in 2008, she didn`t go easy on him the same way she didn`t go easy on Barack Obama. Which is a little bit of a different factor because he never made it into the major levels in the polls. O`DONNELL: Tim Pawlenty, it certainly seems that Hillary Clinton has now found her voice in how to fight publicly with the Benghazi Committee. Everything we just heard her say in that very forceful statement she could have said a couple of months ago, but it seems like Kevin McCarthy gave her the opening, gave her the energy with his statement interpreted as the Benghazi Committee was just there to knock her poll numbers down. That seems to have given her the platform she needs to fight the way she wants to on this one. PAWLENTY: Well, if she`s going to be president of the United States, she needed to find another gear and maybe one or two after that. That performance on "Saturday Night Live" by the way, I thought humanized her and she did a nice job with that. On Benghazi, on an interview you showed earlier, she was strong, declarative and not defensive. But you know, the facts still remain in that Benghazi hearing or related hearings and frankly, the server issue and the possible legal issues there could come back strongly. But at least in the last 48 hours, she showed some capabilities and some passion that she hadn`t previously flashed in the campaign. O`DONNELL: E.J. Dionne, Bernie Sanders came to Boston over the weekend and out-did Barack Obama`s first presidential campaign, drawing 20,000 people. Barack Obama did 10,000 at a comparable event his time around. The Sanders huge crowd phenomenon continues. DIONNE: Right, well, there is a big base of support in the Democratic Party for the kinds of things Bernie Sanders says, and I think he`ll continue to get good crowds. But what was interesting about those polls and the best news for Clinton is there was no change. She had been on a steady slide, and she seems to have plateaued which in her case is actually helpful. But the most important player in the Democratic Party in the last week is Kevin McCarthy. Hillary Clinton -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- DIONNE: If she wins, is going to owe him an ambassadorship to Ireland somewhere. And the fact that this happened and created this opening for her to really go after that committee right at the time Joe Biden was deciding. If he doesn`t run, I`ll be very curious if there was a Kevin McCarthy factor there, too. Because the best case for Biden, the reason people have been interested in Biden beyond the fact that a lot of people like him is that some of the people who are for Hillary were starting to worry, can she win? And in the last week she has actually looked like a winning candidate for the first time, and so, you know, someday we`re going to see her having lunch with McCarthy in the White House if she makes it. O`DONNELL: Christina, a big issue just entered the Democratic side of the campaign, certainly, which is the Trans-Pacific Partnership. It`s now been negotiated. We now have a finished deal for the candidates to look at. Bernie Sanders didn`t waste a minute, came out in very strong opposition to it, consistent with his position on it over the years. Said he`ll fight against it on the Senate floor. Hillary Clinton has said in the past she will make a decision on it when she gets the chance to read the final deal. As Secretary of State, she said it was the gold standard of international trade agreements. Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton as presidential candidates have a real challenge dealing with this issue. BELLANTONI: Yes, you know, my colleagues at the "L.A. Times", Christi Parsons and Mike Memoli looked at this issue today. This is an insider`s trade deal in an outsider`s election. So the Democrats do have a little bit of an issue on this here. And Hillary Clinton has made it very clear she`s willing to wait and willing to calibrate some of her decisions. You know, look at the Keystone Pipeline decision that, you know, that clip you showed from "Saturday Night Live" that wasn`t on there, but that was one of the things that they sort of needled her on, you know, coming to that opposition late in the game. And this is something she`s going to have to talk about, and you don`t forget that NAFTA was a critical element of that 2008 primary campaign. So, it brings up a lot of those issues and when you`ve been Secretary of State and working for the administration in this way, you know, there`s a lot of footage of her talking about the importance of this deal. So, it`s going to be something that`s definitely affecting the campaign. O`DONNELL: Christina Bellantoni, thank you very much for joining us tonight, I appreciate it. Coming up, Stephen Colbert had something very serious to say about guns in America. And later, Kim Davis` audience with the Pope, it turns out was not an audience alone as she claimed, only one man was granted that in Washington. That man you see right there with the Pope, he brought his boyfriend with him to meet the Pope, he will join us later. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: Last week, Stephen Colbert faced the challenge of how to react to the first major mass murder in America since he started his new late night show. He didn`t know what to do or say, but he met the challenge with dignity and humanity. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) COLBERT: Whether or not we hit the right notes on any given night, I think that the least that we can do is not pretend to always know what to do or say. And in the face of the killings in Oregon yesterday, I honestly don`t know what to do or say, other than that our hearts are broken for the people struck by this senseless tragedy. And I don`t know how to start a show like this which is often about whatever happened in the last 24 hours. I can`t pretend that it didn`t happen. I also can`t pretend to know what to do to prevent what happened yesterday all the times that it`s happened before. But I think pretending is part of the problem. These things happen over and over again and we`re naturally horrified and shocked when we hear about them. But then we change nothing, and we pretend that it won`t happen again. Some say the answer is stricter gun laws, others say the answer is mental healthcare, that we need better treatment or just keep the guns out of the hands of the insane. Maybe it`s both. I honestly don`t know. But I do know that one of the definitions of insanity is changing nothing and then pretending that something will change. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Up next, the presidential candidates reaction to our latest mass murder. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Of course, what`s also routine is that somebody, somewhere, will comment and say, Obama politicized this issue. Well, this is something we should politicize. It is relevant to our common life together. To the body politic. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: No presidential candidate has taken up President Obama`s challenge to politicize mass shootings more fully than Hillary Clinton. Here she is in New Hampshire today. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, on the Republican side, Mr. Trump was asked about it and said something like, you know, things like that happen in the world. And Governor Bush said, yes, stuff happens. No. That`s an admission of defeat and surrender to a problem that is killing 33,000 Americans. It`s time for us to say, wait a minute, we`re better than this. Our country is better than this. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Hillary Clinton recalled the day when not all Republicans were in lock step with the national rifle association. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLINTON: When the NRA was on one of their, you know, tirades and calling the alcohol, tobacco, and firearms enforcers, you know, jack booted thugs, president George H. W. Bush resigned as an NRA member and said, no, I`m not going to be associated with that. So, I mean, ideally what I would love to see is gun owners, responsible gun owners, hunters, form a different organization and take back the second amendment from these extremists. (CHEERS AND APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Also in New Hampshire today, Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina said this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CARLY FIORINA (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Usually, if you go back and look at the facts, all of the solutions that some Democrats will propose, Hillary Clinton is out proposing something today. If you go back and look at what they propose, it turns out they wouldn`t have stopped many, many of these mass murders. So let`s enforce the laws we have and let`s uphold the rights and liberties that we have. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Back with us, former Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty and E.J. Dionne who has not yet summoned the courage to run for president. We`re being very patient about that in E.J.`s case. E.J., we see the gun debate enter the political campaign and no one seems more ready for it than Hillary Clinton. E.J. DIONNE, WASHINGTON POST: No, she really is. And I mean, it works as a twofer for her because she`s always had a strong position on this. And this is one of the few issues where she could run to the left of Bernie Sanders who has cast a bunch of votes on the NRA side of some of these issues. So she doesn`t have to mention his name. But I thought she really was taking up President Obama`s challenge on that. And I guess I`d like to ask Governor Pawlenty a question, if you could, you know, he`s one of the decent people in politics. And I just do not understand why the Republicans in our conservative movement, they`re the only conservative party in the Democratic world that takes this absolutist position on guns. There have even been laws that restrict our ability to collect information on gun violence. That`s like legislating mandatory ignorance. Why do conservatives insist on this kind of absolutism, governor? I just don`t get it. TIM PAWLENTY, FORMER REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, E.J., first, a few things. We have something called the second amendment that both you and Lawrence are well familiar with in the courts and the legislatures have spoken about that and politicians for a long time. Let`s not give too much -- DIONNE: The second amendment does let a lot of laws pass. We got laws about machine guns under the second amendment. PAWLENTY: Let`s not let Hillary Clinton off too easy here on this regard. What she basically came out with is a very small aspect of dealing with gun shows. And whether you disagree or agree with that, that wouldn`t have anything to do with private sales between individuals, it wouldn`t have anything to do with people going into their parents` or their brother`s closet and getting guns, wouldn`t have anything to do with buying guns on the street of the over 30,000 gun violence acts or deaths that occur in a given year, give or take, almost a very small percentage of them are actually these mass murders. It has much to do with the everyday horrible, horrific violence if places like Chicago, Washington, D.C., and other places that have some of the most strict gun laws in the world. And by the way, we should talk about mental health and people don`t understand that there is no central repository for people who are seriously mentally ill other than the most seriously mentally ill who are committed or have similar levels of designation. So the vast majority of people who are mentally ill aren`t in some system. And then you get into a debate about, well, which types of mental illness are serious enough to disqualify you? Is it, of course, schizophrenia, but what if you`re just depressed? And what if Lawrence and you are just episodically depressed? And those are going to be stored and how is that going to be check? So this is a very complex issue. And for people to get out on a stage and just say, you know, I`m for a solution and they don`t really offer any detail, they don`t really get into anything that I just said, is really a copout, frankly. O`DONNELL: Well, here`s -- let`s listen to Hillary Clinton doing exactly what Governor Pawlenty said they don`t do. She did get into detail talking about the shooting in Charleston and how that could have been prevented. Let`s listen to that. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLINTON: The young man who killed the nine people in the church in Charleston, there`s a loophole in the Brady bill that if you go to try to get a gun and they don`t finish the background check in three days, you can get the gun. They were still trying to find out about this young man. Turns out he did have a criminal record. He wasn`t eligible to get a gun but because of, quote, "the loophole," he was able to. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: E.J. Dionne, go ahead. DIONNE: Well, what I was going to say, governor, is anything any of us proposes somebody comes along and says, well, it wouldn`t have stopped this one or it wouldn`t have stopped that one. But we know that background checks would keep guns out of some of the wrong hands. We know that laws, that laws requiring a license to get a gun, it`s easier to get a license to drive a car in our country than to get a gun. That doesn`t -- PAWLENTY: Yes. E.J., we can agree. Let`s just all agree. Look, people who are previously convicted of serious crimes shouldn`t have guns. Mentally ill people, seriously mentally ill people shouldn`t have guns. That`s the easy part. We can all agree on that. The harder part -- DIONNE: Except we couldn`t even pass that in the congress. PAWLENTY: Once you get into the mechanics of how that actually works, that`s where the heavy lifting takes place. And it doesn`t lend itself well to, frankly, cable TV or talk shows because it`s a lot more complex. You know, if you were there and you had depression last year, you didn`t have depression this year, should you have a gun? DIONNE: Well, I think probably not. And I don`t have a gun. PAWLENTY: I mean, if you have anxiety, E.J., if Lawrence has anxiety and he can`t sleep tonight and he`s on ambient, should he get a gun? DIONNE: No, but governor, see, that`s what you guys do all the time, is whenever somebody proposes a solution, suddenly it`s all complex and it leads exactly down the road that Stephen Colbert described which is it`s a recipe for doing nothing because you keep saying, well, this is more complicated or that`s more complicated. I find it amazing that my conservative friends always beat up on liberals -- PAWLENTY: The law already says, E.J., the law already says you can`t earn a gun if you`re a serious criminal or you`re seriously mentally ill. So it really comes down to do we have the right data systems in place to actually in real-time keep that up to date? DIONNE: But when Congress tried to pass a background check -- PAWLENTY: Do we have a way to stop the sales? And even if you stop the sales at the stores, I can walk two blocks from where I am right now and go buy a gun on the street. So you got to look at it more than just in slices. DIONNE: No, but what Hillary said -- O`DONNELL: Go ahead, E.J. DIONNE: -- was right on that point which there was a loophole that allowed the man in Charleston to buy that gun. Let`s close that loophole on the background checks. We`ve got to do something and stop doing nothing. O`DONNELL: OK. That`s going to have to be the last word on it tonight. Governor Tim Pawlenty, thank you very much for joining us tonight. DIONNE: Thank you, governor. O`DONNELL: Up next, the Vatican says that this gay man you`re seeing right here was actually the only person to be granted a personal audience with the Pope. He brought his boyfriend with him. And so now we know from the Vatican, anyway, that Kim Davis did not get a personal audience with the Pope as she claimed she did. That`s coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: The Vatican has released a statement about the controversial meeting between Pope Francis and Kentucky County clerk Kim Davis. The statement says the Pope did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis, and his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects. The Vatican`s statement also revealed that, quote, "the only real audience granted by the Pope was with one of his former students and his family." That former student was Yayo Grassi, who arrived with members of his family, also with his boyfriend of 19 years. Here is their meeting with the pope. (VIDEO CLIP PLAYS) O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Yayo Grassi. Back with us, E.J. Dionne. Mr. Grassi, how long have you known the pope? YAYO GRASSI, FORMER STUDENT OF POPE FRANCIS: I have known the pope since 1964 when he came into my high school as a teacher. O`DONNELL: And how did you arrange this meeting in Washington? GRASSI: Well, I have met the pope before, a couple of months after he was elected pope in Rome, a trip that was planned well before he was elected pope. And it had a general audience with him in Pietra San Pedro. He met then my boyfriend, and when I heard that he was coming to Washington, I wrote him an email asking if he had time that I would like to see him here. He said, he immediately replied saying, yes. Then I realized that actually was -- his schedule was so, so exhausting and so demanding that I wrote him back saying, perhaps it`s better if we see each other some other time. Take the time to use it for better ends. And so, he called me one morning in my cell phone, and basically in a conversation of about 10, 12 minutes, he repeated twice that he would like to give me a hug when he was in Washington and told me how to arrange the meeting. And so I did. O`DONNELL: And so, he has met your boyfriend before and he knows he`s your boyfriend? GRASSI: Oh, absolutely. Yes, yes, yes, yes. Not only that, in that video, that segment that you just showed, he -- when I introduced him to my boyfriend, he says, of course, yes, I remember you, we met in Rome in San Pedro. O`DONNELL: E.J. Dionne, put all of this now in context with what we know about the Kim Davis meeting. DIONNE: You know, we were talking about that a lot last week and it seemed very unlikely that this pope, given everything that he did during that trip, given not that he supports gay marriage at all, but his openness toward people regardless of their sexual preference, that he would back up what Kim Davis did. And it turned out that he didn`t. And I think this raises a lot of questions, still, that have to be answered. Was it the nuncio? It looks like the nuncio invited her. Why did he do that? Why did he put the pope in that position? A lot of people went off on that meeting and said, see, despite the pope`s careful statements here, he really supports Kim Davis. Well, that`s not who the pope is. And the fact that the Vatican went out of its way then to show the film of the meeting with Mr. Grassi, which looks really heartwarming, I think that sent the most powerful message the Vatican could send. GRASSI: Absolutely. O`DONNELL: Mr. Grassi, knowing the pope as you do, and that`s not a phrase I have used on this program before with anyone, but knowing the pope as you do, what is your judgment about that meeting? Because the pope was, it seems to me, very careful not to step into the most controversial areas, or the most politically difficult areas. He never mentioned the word "abortion", for example, when he was speaking to Congress, so it seemed incongruous to me that he would then throw an audience with Kim Davis, step into this incredibly controversial issue in the United States. GRASSI: Yes, you`re right, and I agree completely with what E.J. just said. I think that he basically was set up for this, for this meeting with Mrs. Davis. I -- I think that he was extremely surprised. I was. I was very surprised and very suspicious from the very beginning that this was not something that came naturally from the pope as an invitation. When things started to come out was when I realized I think that I know who was behind this. And I honestly wouldn`t have said anything would it have been that the Vatican Press Office released that statement and somehow the press got a hold on me. And to me -- and to me was that is basically what happened. O`DONNELL: E.J. Dionne, thanks for joining us tonight. DIONNE: Thank you. O`DONNELL: And, Yayo Grassi, thank you very much for joining us tonight. GRASSI: Thank you, Lawrence. O`DONNELL: Just to learn the pope is e-mailing his friends about getting together is one of the big revelations of tonight. Thank you very much, Mr. Grassi. GRASSI: Thank you, Lawrence. Thank you for having me. O`DONNELL: Coming up, Patrick Kennedy breaks his silence and talks about what he calls the Kennedy code of silence in the new book about his life and his life with his father, Ted Kennedy. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: Up next, Patrick Kennedy on the Kennedy code of silence. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: In his new book, former congressman and son of the late Senator Ted Kennedy, Patrick Kennedy, breaks what he calls the Kennedy code of silence. In the book, "a common struggle: a personal journey through the past and future of mental illness and addiction," Patrick Kennedy opens up about his struggles with alcohol, drugs, and mental illness. Patrick Kennedy also talks about his problems -- his father`s problems with alcohol. Here he is on "60 Minutes" last night. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Do you think he was an alcoholic? PATRICK KENNEDY, AUTHOR, A COMMON STRUGGLE: You know, I think he definitely had a problem with alcohol. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Yes. KENNEDY: I still right now, Leslie, have trouble talking about this. This is, like, breaking the family code here. I am now outside the family line. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Patrick`s brother, Ted Kennedy Jr. issued a statement saying in part, "I am heartbroken that Patrick has chosen to write what is an inaccurate and unfair portrayal of our family. My brother`s recollections of family events and particularly our parents are quite different from my own." Joining us now, Tom McLellan, a substance abuse researcher and former science adviser and deputy director of the White House office of national drug control policy under President Obama. Dr. McLellan, these differences in families about their own recollection and their own beliefs about the truth of experiences in these areas, it`s common to have differences like this as these two brothers do. THOMAS MCLELLAN, FORMER OBAMA ADVISOR ON DRUGS POLICY: Well, it is and I think it reflects what our different perspectives on the issue of addiction. To some it`s very bad judgment and besmirching of a person`s character. To others, this is much more accurate, it is a chronic relapsing illness. O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Patrick Kennedy said about his father, Teddy Kennedy, who suffered the loss of all of his brothers. Oldest brother in World War II, and then President Kennedy assassinated and then his brother, Bobby, assassinated. Let`s listen to what Patrick said about that. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KENNEDY: My dad never got to grieve. He had to be there for the country. He had to be there for my family. He had to be there for my Uncle Bobby`s 11 children and John and Caroline. But I knew the pain that came from his having been killed because I saw my father kind of live in silent desperation for most of his life. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Dr. McLellan, it`s hard to think of anyone who has suffered what Teddy Kennedy has suffered. MCLELLAN: Absolutely. Absolutely. I have to say, I think Patrick Kennedy is quite courageous for bringing this out. I think he was unnecessarily apologetic. You don`t need to have an excuse to have an illness. Now, addiction is a terrible illness. It is an acquired illness, yes, like diabetes, like many other chronic illness. But the rest of the world treats those illnesses with compassion, care, understanding. That`s what Patrick, I assume, hopes will happen with his, I think, very courageous statements bringing this to light. O`DONNELL: And Dr. McLellan, what Patrick Kennedy`s going through now, how does this fit into the process of securing his own sobriety? MCLELLAN: It`s quite consistent with securing your own sobriety. But I -- what I see him doing is far beyond his own personal needs. I think he`s quite secure in his sobriety. I think what he`s doing is really the equivalent of what Betty Ford did when she exposed her own alcoholism. And she and Patrick Kennedy are bringing to light this illness that has been cloaked in shame for so long. It`s got to come forward in order for the country to deal with it. O`DONNELL: And - I`m sorry, we are out of time. Tom McLellan, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Chris Hayes is up next. END