The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 12/29/2016

Guests: Richard Nephew, Steve Clemons, David Frum, Jay Rosen, Clarence Page, Nicholas Kristof, Russell Begay, Joyce Chisale

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: December 29, 2016 Guest: Richard Nephew, Steve Clemons, David Frum, Jay Rosen, Clarence Page, Nicholas Kristof, Russell Begay, Joyce Chisale

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: And for viewers, Rachel will be back on Monday for the start of 2017. That does it for our show, I am Ari Melber in for Rachel Maddow, you can always e-mail me

And now it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good evening and happy new year, Lawrence.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Wait, Ari, I`m sending you an e-mail right now.

MELBER: You love it. You love that the e-mail is available.

O`DONNELL: You can have like -- you have like 10,000 e-mails now like in the next ten minutes. I can`t believe you do that.

MELBER: (INAUDIBLE) feels good, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Right, thank you, Ari. The Russian response to President Obama`s new sanctions was to threaten the United States today.

But Donald Trump says that`s no big deal, it`s time to just move on. Just forget about it, I guess.

We don`t know who`s been advising Donald Trump on this because he has not yet discussed it with U.S. intelligence officials.

He says he`ll get around to doing that sometime next week. This week he was way too busy hanging out with Don King.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dramatic action against Russia for its alleged interference in our country`s presidential election.

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC: President Obama hitting Russia with sanctions and a slew of new measures.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thirty five operatives ordered out of the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There will be consequences for aggressive activities from the Russian government against our personnel and in efforts to interfere with our election process.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Obama had multiple conversations with Putin, both in private and public, warning Russia not to do this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Putin`s spokesman says they`re considering retaliatory measures of their own.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In a statement just in, Mr. Trump says he will meet with leaders of the intelligence community next week.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Reiterating what he said publicly yesterday.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think we ought to get on with our lives. I think the computer has complicated lives very greatly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no bigger and better thing in America than our democracy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t think you`re going to see a President-elect Trump invite 30-some more spies back into the United States.

It`s going to be hard to reverse this.


O`DONNELL: The Obama administration announced retaliatory actions against Russia today for its efforts to influence the presidential election with its cyber attacks.

The White House announced sanctions against Russia`s two leading intelligence services and three companies that allegedly supported Russian cyber attacks.

Four top officers at the Russian Military Intelligence Unit, GRU, were also personally sanctioned.

The State Department announced it was expelling 35 Russian intelligence operatives from the United States.

Ordering them to leave the United States within 72 hours and closing two Russian-owned diplomatic facilities in the United States.

That it said were used for Russian intelligence activities. On a call today with reporters, the Obama administration also said covert actions were being taken against Russia.

According to the "New York Times", "taken together, the actions amount to the strongest American response ever taken to a state-sponsored cyber attack aimed at the United States."

A spokesperson for Russia`s foreign ministry said in a Facebook post that Russia will retaliate. "Official statements, counter measures and lots of other things will follow tomorrow."

President Obama said this about today`s actions. "All Americans should be alarmed by Russia`s actions.

In October, my administration publicized our assessment that Russia took actions intended to interfere with the U.S. election process.

These data theft and disclosure activities could only have been directed by the highest levels of the Russian government.

Moreover, our diplomats have experienced an unacceptable level of harassment in Moscow by Russian security services and police over the last year.

Such activities have consequences." Donald Trump released this statement today.

"It`s time for our country to move on to bigger and better things. Nevertheless, in the interest of our country and its great people, I will meet with leaders of the intelligence community next week in order to be updated on the facts of this situation."

So, Donald Trump doesn`t seem to think this is a big deal. We should just move on from it. But he is willing to find some time to discuss it next week with intelligence officials.

This is the same Donald Trump who had time yesterday to hang with Don King. Instead of talking to intelligence officials about a cyber attack by Russia on the United States.

We don`t yet know exactly how Donald Trump will spend his day tomorrow instead of meeting with intelligence officials about Russian cyber attacks on the United States.

We will have to wait and see how much time Donald Trump spends tomorrow with the likes of Don King.

Last night, when he was asked about the sanctions for Russian cyber attacks, Donald Trump said this.


TRUMP: I think we ought to get on with our lives. I think the computers have complicated lives very greatly. The whole, you know, age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what`s going on.

We have speed, we have a lot of other things, but I`m not sure you have the kind of security we need.


O`DONNELL: Now, if we just showed you that picture of Donald Trump and Don King and then read you these words and didn`t tell you which one of them said it, you`d have no idea which one of them said it.

"I think that computers have complicated lives very greatly. The whole age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what is going on." Don King or Donald Trump? Well, we know, because you just saw Donald Trump say it.

A senior intelligence official tells Nbc News that the Trump camp was fully briefed beforehand on today`s action and agreed to be briefed next week on these sensitive elements of the cyber election review.

House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell both approved of President Obama`s sanctions and reiterated the danger Russia poses to the United States.

Paul Ryan said "Russia does not share America`s interests. In fact, it has consistently sought to undermine them, sowing dangerous instability around the world.

While today`s actions by the administrations over do, it is an appropriate way to end eight years of failed policy with Russia."

And Mitch McConnell said that "the Russians are not our friends, sanctions against the Russian intelligence services are a good initial step.

However late in coming as the Congress, as the next Congress reviews Russian actions against networks associated with the U.S. election.

We must also work to ensure that any attack against the United States is met with an overwhelming response." Joining us now, Steve Clemons; editor at large at "The Atlantic" and an Msnbc contributor.

Also with us, David Frum; senior editor for "The Atlantic". And Richard Nephew; former Principal Deputy Coordinator for Sanctions Policy at the State Department.

He is currently a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and a program director at Columbia University`s Center on Global Energy Policy.

Mr. Nephew, first of all, your reaction today to the sanctions and what you expect the effect of the sanctions to be?


And I think that they will serve to demonstrate to the Russian government that there are consequences to these kinds of activities and these kinds of behaviors.

They won`t bring down the Russian economy, they won`t collapse the Russian economy overnight.

They`re intended more for political and diplomatic demonstration of fact, and also as fair warning to other governments and other elections that are coming that Russian interference is a very likely risk.

So, I think from that perspective, they served the purpose that they were intended to serve today.

O`DONNELL: Steve Clemons, what about the targeting of sanctions against individuals?

STEVE CLEMONS, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, THE ATLANTIC: Well, we did this after the invasion of Ukraine and the cutting off of Crimea.

We didn`t go after Russian sectors or the Russian government. We went after cronies and institutions that are around Putin.

Many of whom had been involved in the Sochi Olympics. So, this is something we`ve done before.

In the past the Russians have just laughed it off and it has backfired in terms of Russian public opinion who sort of saw it as a slight of their own government.

But you know, I think that when you go after the intelligence czars that they have, I think it sends an important message as Richard just said.

And I think that we need to look at the fact that, you know, right now Donald Trump is being dragged, somewhat kicking and screaming.

Looking at the names and people and institutions in Russia, who have attacked the legitimacy of his own presidency, to tell you the truth.

And I think it`s important that we have names and identities and personalities that we can attach to this.

O`DONNELL: David Frum, your reaction to the sanctions?

DAVID FRUM, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: Well, I can`t imagine the Russians are too concerned about it.

They`ve scored the goal and now they`ll serve their time in the penalty box.

But the goal doesn`t get unscored. The background to all of this is not what is happening in Russia, it`s what`s happening in the United States.

That the beneficiary of this hack is the next president. It seems unlikely that he`s going to be very curious as to what happened or why?

He will not want to delve deeper. And we -- it is going to lead not to an international problem but to a domestic problem.

Because while the president doesn`t want to delve deeper, the president to be, Americans should.

O`DONNELL: And Chuck Schumer today issued this statement, basically a direct challenge to Donald Trump over this saying: "I hope the incoming Trump administration which has been far too close to Russia throughout the campaign and transition won`t think for one second about weakening these new sanctions or our existing regime.

Both parties ought to be united and standing up to Russian interference in our elections to their cyber attacks, their illegal annexation of Crimea and other extra legal interventions."

Richard Nephew, if Donald Trump does want to weaken these sanctions, he presumably could do that without any public notice.

NEPHEW: Yes absolutely. You know, the structure of these sanctions is that there are executive.

They were issued under executive order by President Obama, they can be overturned by executive order by Donald Trump.

But I think as David was just speaking to, the real issue here is domestic. And the fact that Congress also can have a say here.

And we`ve seen in the past that legislatures and executive branch officials just simply disagree about sanctions on a whole host of targets, whether Russia or Iran.

I actually think that`s the most likely scenario in the early part of 2017 that Trump may not weaken these particular sanctions.

He may go after the Ukraine-related sanctions, but I think he`s going to be met with a pretty firm response, not only from Democrats in Congress but also from people in his own party.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to someone in his own party. Let`s listen to Lindsey Graham on this.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: If we don`t push back against Putin, Iran and China, they could hack into our systems.

Today, it`s Democrats, tomorrow it could be Republicans with the Iranians and the Chinese.

Trump says he`s going to be tough with Iran and China, he needs to be. Well, we need to show any nation what happens to them if they try to interfere in our democratic process.


O`DONNELL: David Frum, what is -- what`s your sense of the Republicans in Congress on this?

How many senators is -- Republican Senators do you think Lindsey Graham is actually speaking for there?

FRUM: He only needs three. Even he and John McCain and one other person hold firm, they can -- they can have a lot of impact.

But what I feel -- I mean, I -- and I have tremendous respect for Lindsey Graham, I think he`s thinking brave and correct actions here.

But let`s understand that we`re not here talking about if this is unchecked, the next time something worse will happen.

We`re at the last stop on the subway line. What has actually happened is the most aggressive, unfriendly foreign power in the world, Russia.

The one with which America`s interests conflict the most even more than China.

Has already interfered in American election in order to install -- or help to install a candidate who`s very friendly to Russian geopolitical interests.

I don`t know what worse thing there is that the Iranians could do or the Chinese could do.

We`re here. We face the problem now. And this is not something we have to act prophylactic in the future.

We have to deal with the present. What the Russians don`t want to do is to continue endlessly for its own sake interfere in American intellectual -- elections.

Now, they`re going to recoup the benefit of this interference in Syria, in Ukraine, with the destruction of NATO and the crack-up of the European Union.

All of it -- and all of which Donald Trump takes exactly the same positions that Vladimir Putin would wish an American president to take.

O`DONNELL: And Steve, when you -- when you listen to what David just had to say about it, you can imagine the Russian calculation be -- being whatever the price is, we might have to pay for this.

When we get caught, it`s worth it. We`re going to have the president we want.

CLEMONS: Well, I think there are two pieces to it. And David is my colleague, I disagree with him that we`re at the end of the subway line. We`re at the beginning of a convulsive, sort of dark period in American history.

People will not allow this to stand. You know, Donald Trump`s failure to come out and condemn the Russians.

Though he won the election, but his failure to condemn the Russians for what they have done throws into doubt his legitimacy as a leader.

That`s going to be chewed up by the Congress. You know, the second piece of this as we`re talking about cyber war.

And as Malcolm Nance said, this is a state of what we are going to most likely retaliate against the Russians covertly as well as what we`ve just done publicly.

And this is an area where there are no rules. There are no norms. It`s not like the nuclear weapons where you had mutually assured destruction and deterrents.

This is something that is an entirely new arena for whacking at each other, and that is now out of the bag and very hard to put back.

So, we`re at the beginning of a new track, so, I`ll just add that to David.

O`DONNELL: Richard Nephew, Russia has promised retaliation for the sanctions. What retaliation would you expect?

NEPHEW: Well, I think at a minimum, they`ll probably go after some of our diplomats as well.

I expect that they will seek to expel probably 35 American diplomats and accuse them of being intelligence officials.

They may seek to restrict U.S. access to facilities in Russia, whether they are consulates or other facilities.

So, I think they`ll be proportional in that regard. In terms of sanctions, I expect them to attempt to restrict access from the United States to Russian markets.

They`ve done that with respect to Turkey after the shoot-down of the jet fighter this Spring.

They`ve done that with respect to the European Union. The problem for the Russians, they don`t have a whole lot of opportunity here unless they go after something really big, like banks.

O`DONNELL: Richard Nephew, David Frum, Steve Clemons, thank you all for joining us --

NEPHEW: Thank you --

O`DONNELL: Tonight, appreciate it --

CLEMONS: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, what Vladimir Putin and Benjamin Netanyahu already know about how to deal with Donald Trump.

And what the American news media still hasn`t figured out about how to deal with Donald Trump.


O`DONNELL: Donald Trump is at his Florida home tonight. His staff claims that he is preparing his inaugural address.

Actually, kind of working on the writing of it with senior members of his team.

It should always be remembered that reporting from inside the Trump camp is never authoritative because no source speaks for Donald Trump including Donald Trump.

Donald Trump could personally give a reporter a tip on background one day that turns out to be false by the end of that day because Donald Trump was either lying or changed his mind.

And so I cannot, with any reasonable authority tell you that Donald Trump was actually working on his speech tonight.

I can only tell you that members of the Trump staff want you to think that. The Trump staff has put out the word that chief strategist Steve Bannon is working on the Trump speech.

The news media is obviously going to have to figure out new tools for covering a White House unlike any other in history.

A White House that might not have presidential press conferences. Here is what the next White House Press Secretary told Hugh Hewitt today on his radio show.


SEAN SPICER, COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: I think the thing that you`ve seen with Donald Trump is that he doesn`t -- he doesn`t look to the past and say I`ve got to conform to these precedents.

He figures out what`s the best way. And so, maybe we do, you know, a series of press conferences.

But maybe we do some town hall, you know, Facebook town halls. Maybe we go out and solicit input from Twitter.

I don`t -- I mean, the answer is, we`re looking at a lot of things.


O`DONNELL: They`re looking at a lot of things. A lot of new and different ways for the president to circumvent the news media and speak directly to the people he`s trying to reach.

Which is not all of the American people. It is that group of Trump supporters.

It is obviously time for the news media to look at a lot of things that it has always done in the past that will not work when covering the Trump presidency.

NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen says that the model of political journalism is broken and outdated.

Today he wrote, "a man in power untroubled by contradictions and comfortable in the confusion he creates cannot be held accountable by normal means."

Among the habits the news media will have to change is the very high value that it places on access journalism.

Professor Rosen writes, "don`t make it all about access to the president and his aides who are preserving the routines of White House reporting as the press corps is currently doing mostly out of habit.

A Trump presidency is likely to be constructed on a propaganda model in which fomenting confusion is not a drag on the administration`s agenda but a sign that it`s working. Access to such a machinery could wind up enlisting the press in a misinformation campaign."

Professor Rosen also says the news media will have to rethink the big get, booking the big interview with the White House insider.

"Every interview with Kellyanne Conway or Reince Priebus is premised on a claim to represent the man in power.

This claim may be false. But journalists need people to interview, so they will continue to do it even though they may be misinforming the public.

They may even realize this and be unable to shift course." Professor Rosen joins us after a quick break.



TRUMP: I think we ought to get on with our lives. I think the computers have complicated lives very greatly.

The whole, you know, age of computer has made it where nobody knows exactly what is going on.

We have speed, we have a lot of other things, but I`m not sure you have the kind of security that you need.


O`DONNELL: The news media has never seen anything like that. No one in the news media has any idea what Donald Trump was saying about computers last night as he stood there beside Don King.

And no one has any idea why he was standing there beside Don King. The news media might need some new tools for covering the Trump presidency.

Joining us now, Jay Rosen; a media critic and professor of journalism at New York University.

He is the author of "PressThink: A Weblog about Journalism". Also with us Clarence Page; columnist for the "Chicago Tribune".

Professor Rosen, we`re working off of the template you`ve laid out in this article today which is must-reading for everyone in the media about the things that we now know don`t work.

The things that have previously been a very high value to the news media in trying to cover politicians and the presidency.

What do you think might work, and what are the -- what are the main things for the media to steer away from that has -- that we`ve proven do not work in covering Donald Trump?

JAY ROSEN, MEDIA CRITIC & PROFESSOR OF JOURNALISM, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: Well, I think the first thing is to stop chasing access.

Access to misinformation and confusion is not necessarily going to help the press.

I think a lot of investment needs to be put into outside-in reporting, rather than inside-out in this sense.

Start from the rim of the government. From the agencies, from the civil servants, from the people on the margins and work towards the center rather than the reverse.

In foreign policy, it might be trying to get information from other governments, rather than our own. Because our own is not going to help you much. So, maybe I`m being a little facetious here.

But maybe you send the interns to the briefing room, and you send the experienced reporters outside because most of what`s going to come from the administration is not only going to be not informative, it might be deliberately misleading.

It might be contradictory as a matter of policy. It might be fomenting confusion as a strategy.

And so this is going to require the White House press to not just be tough or vigilant, but to start in a different place.

Because Trump has broken many norms so far in his rise to power, and he`s going to continue to break them.

O`DONNELL: Clarence, you`ve spent most of your career in the Washington press corps.

You`ve covered more presidents than I can name. Your -- as you stare at this new presidency, does it feel to you like the news media needs new tools?

CLARENCE PAGE, COLUMNIST, CHICAGO TRIBUNE: I think we all need to change our way of thinking now.

Jay Rosen wrote a brilliant piece. I thought it was a great -- what I would call a laundry list of things to be aware of and to be cautious about.

I think our usual norms here in Washington and the -- and the etiquette here is quite thick and dense, as you know, Lawrence.

I think that Donald Trump is breaking the etiquette and has got a lot of people shaken up, could say what do we do now?

Well, I`m reminded of what it was like to cover the news in Soviet Moscow, frankly, because you knew that there were always two lines of news going on, red pass and blue pass they called it.

One was the official propaganda, the other was the truth. And it`s always out there because leaders need -- leaders and their administrations need to have actual facts.

Otherwise they become lost in the confusion they`re trying to spread that Jay Rosen was talking about.

And I think what we`ve got to do here in Washington now, I don`t even think it`s facetious about sending interns over to cover the news conferences.

But it makes a good point. News conferences have been greatly overrated in recent years as far as how much actual useful information comes out of them.

I think a lot more -- remember the days of Woodward and Bernstein, where they were not regular White House reporters.

They were free to go out on their own and talk to sources in garages or whatever and came up with facts that hardly anybody believed at first.

But it soon turned out that they had one of the biggest stories of the century.

So, I think we are in on the brink of a new era here, and that`s going to be a real competition between the press and the newsmakers of a sort that we haven`t seen before.

O`DONNELL: Jay Rosen, you mentioned Woodward and Bernstein`s work here in your piece, saying that Watergate style reporting might not work now the way it has worked in the past.

ROSEN: Yes, you know, the model of investigative reporting is not just that reporters dig up facts and publish them.

It`s that the public is alarmed and as the pressure grows, Congress or state legislatures or government in another capacity has to start to take action.

And what we`ve already seen from Trump suggest that even if spectacular exposes emerge, even if there are damaging revelations, the most likely result of that is going to be shouting down the press.

Defying the facts, make your own reality and a culture war strategy against the people who are bringing this news.

We are so far from the Watergate hearings where bipartisan group of Congress people got to the bottom of that scandal.

It`s most likely that successful acts of journalism, rather than raising public awareness and leading to reform will actually lead to more culture war and rage and attacks on the press and demonizing of journalists.

O`DONNELL: Jay Rosen, thank you very much for pushing the news media`s thinking on this and for joining us tonight.

Clarence Page, as always, thank you for joining us tonight, great to see you, thank you Clarence --

PAGE: Thank you, Lawrence --

O`DONNELL: Thank you. Coming up, Donald Trump is a chump, so says "The New York Times".


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: If we could actually be friendly with Russia, wouldn`t that be a good thing? Putin likes Trump. He said nice things about me. He called me a genius. If he says great things about me, I`m going to say great things about him.

(END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: So, Vladimir Putin knows all he has to do to get Donald Trump to reverse the sanctions imposed by President Obama today is to complement Donald Trump. On a call with reporters say, senior Obama Administration official acknowledged Donald Trump could reverse the actions saying these are executive actions. If a future president decided that he wanted to allow in a large tranche of Russian intelligence agents presumably a future President could invite that action. We think it would be inadvisable.

NBC News Hallie Jackson reports that Republicans source told her how Donald Trump might view the sanctions saying quote Trump is going to view this much more as a political slap at him and his relationship with Putin than a punishment toward Russia. Vladimir Putin is not the only leader who knows how to manipulate Donald Trump through compliments, in today`s New York Times, Thomas Freedman writes, one day Trump will wake up and discover he was manipulated into becoming the co-father with Netanyahu of an Israel that is either no longer Jewish or no longer democratic. He will discover that he was Bibi`s chump. Joining us now is Nicholas Kristof, Pulitzer price winning columnist for the New York Times. Nick, first of all, to the Russia situation, that very alarming video now that we look back on where Donald Trump`s saying, well, you know, if he compliments me, I will compliment him, basically telling leaders around the world, if you want to know how to deal with me, it`s that simple.

NICHOLAS KRISTOF, NEW YORK TIMES, COLUMNIST: Yes, I mean I think what is particularly troubling is also the appointments that he`s made, so you have Mike Flynn, as National Security Adviser who is you know, a buddy of Russia. You have as our next Secretary of State, somebody who is maybe, you know, Putin`s closest friend in the U.S. And so in a sense you have Putin rewarded for manipulating the election with having some close allies, very close, dominating American foreign policy. And those sanctions, I think, today, are a worthwhile attempt to place some cost on that kind of intervention. But I don`t think that they make up for the gains that Putin has won.

O`DONNELL: So, I suppose we could look at Donald Trump`s statement today, saying in effect, it`s no big deal, let`s just move forward as the product of advice given by his future Secretary of State and National Security Adviser.

KRISTOF: Yes. I mean I must say that there are other people who are going to be on the National Security team, including Defense Secretary Mattis, who I think take a much more traditional view of Russia. And I don`t know what advice he`s getting right now from Flynn, for example. But you know, I do think that Trump is, has a trust level for Putin, doesn`t understand the complexities of what may happen in the Baltic Republics, which I think is one of the things that worries a lot of us the most, that there could be some kind of a disturbance by Putin in Latvia or Estonia to test NATO and that Trump has deeply undermined NATO, the basis for the cold war, post cold war order in Europe. And so I don`t know how trump is going to react to the sanctions, whether he`s going to try to undo them, but it`s certainly alarming that whatever the price the Obama Administration is able to place on Russia for these, in a larger sense Russia has been rewarded by having its allies help preside over American Foreign Policy.

O`DONNELL: We know that New York Times columnists choose their words carefully, and to see Tom Freedman today, including in his column the notion that Donald Trump is Bibi Netanyahu`s chump, very, very strongly which for Tom Freedman. He`s been studying this area of the world and this policy arena for most of his career. In a very harsh judgment, what do you expect to see in the coming year between Donald Trump now and Bibi Netanyahu?

KRISTOF: Well, I thought Tom Freedman`s column was exactly right. And we had this remarkable situation of a foreign head of government colluding with the President-Elect to undermine the existing President, the current President. And this right after the U.S. has just given $38 billion military aid package to Israel. The largest aid package in history and I think that what many of us fear is what John Kerry was talking about, that we are going to be marching toward the end of a two-state possibility with settlements increasing, with an Ambassador to Israel David friedman who endorses settlements, that that possibility of a peaceful two-state future is going to slip away.

O`DONNELL: Nicholas Kristof, thank you for joining us tonight, appreciate it.

KRISTOF: Good to be with you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you. Coming up, we will close the show tonight with a personal last word from me, but the very last words of the show will be from someone very special. That`s coming up.


O`DONNELL: This week the ship that will be commissioned the USS Gabrielle Giffords was delivered to the Navy by the shipbuilder. The Navy plans to put the ship in service next year. Ray Mabus , the Secretary of the Navy appointed by President Obama says he named it after Congresswoman Giffords because of the perseverance she showed after she was severely wounded in mass shooting attack where she was the target of failed assassination attempt. At the christening ceremony Vice Admiral Philip Cullom said courage comes in many forms. Gabby Giffords has truly modeled courage and resilience.

California Republican Congressman member Duncan Hunter however complained that the ship wasn`t named for a service member and some military commanders complained that the Secretary of the Navy is ignoring naval tradition. Retired Marine Major General Tom Wilkerson says the Secretary of the Navy is quote, doing things almost on a feel-good basis. And Retired Rear Admiral George Worthington told the Daily Caller that there are many more people worthy of a ship bearing a ship with their name.

Here are some of the names for U.S. Navy ships that were deemed worthy according to Naval tradition. In 1959, the navy launched the USS Robert E. Lee, a holistic missile submarine named after the treasonous leader of the confederate army which fought against the government of the United States of America. Robert E. Lee led the campaign that killed more than 110,000 United States soldiers. That is as many United States soldiers who were killed in world war I. Robert E. Lee is responsible for their deaths, and more than twice the number, twice the number that were killed in Vietnam.

In 1963, the navy launched the USS Stonewall Jackson, named for another treasonous general, and in 1971, the Navy commissioned the USS Dixon, named for the Commander of a Confederate Ship, the Hunley. The Hunley Commander, Dixon actually sunk an American Navy ship, the USS Housatonic. The USS Dixon sailed in the U.S. Navy until 1995. Two U.S. Navy Nuclear Aircraft Carriers that are still in service are named for U.S. Senators who campaigned for segregation, the USS Carl Vinson, the USS John Stennis, which was commissioned in 1995, named after a segregationist.

Since being appointed by President Obama, Secretary Ray Mabus has named ships after Labor Activist Cesar Chavez, aside for Jeff (ph) Lucy Stone, Civil Rights Activist Medgar Evers and named an entire class of Navy vessels after Congressman John Lewis. One of those John Lewis class supply ships is named after Gay Rights Activist and Navy veteran Lieutenant Harvey Milk. Secretary Mabus defended his choices saying I have named ships after Presidents and I have named ships after members of Congress who had been forceful advocates for the Navy and Marine Corps. But I think you have to represent all the values that we hold as Americans and that we hold as a country.


O`DONNELL: Yesterday President Obama took action to preserve land in south-eastern Utah that is sacred to the Navajo nation creating the Bears Ears National Monument it covers 1.3 million acres and lies just north of the Navajo nation Bears Ears where members of the tribe hid when the United States government forced thousands of Navajo men and women to march at gunpoint to a reservation hundreds of miles from where they had settled. Thousands did not survive what has become known as The Long Walk. Current Navajo Nation president Russell Begay wrote this about Bears Ears and the forced deportation.

This place served to protect my family then, just as it has protected many Native-American people throughout the years. President Barack Obama has signed a proclamation to protect this land as a national monument for future generations of Navajo people and for all Americans thanks to his actions. This land will finally be given the legal reverence and protection it deserves. Navajo nation president Russell Begay joins us now. Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

Can you tell us how you got the news of President Obama`s decision, and how you felt when you heard that news?

RUSSELL BEGAY, NAVAJO NATION PRESIDENT: Well, thank you again for being on your show. (FOREIGN LANGUAGE) Yes, we received the news yesterday, and we were so excited because we got it in the morning and we were told that the announcement was going to happen about around three Mountain Time and so we did some prep work. But I tell you I was wanting to tell our people that the designation was going to occur that day, but there was an embargo making that announcement they say we want to make sure the announcement was made after the president signs off on the proclamation.

But we were already starting to celebrate. There`s a lot of joy on Navajo nation and across the southwest, but then I also got just announcements from all over the nation and even leaders in Canada. So excited that this was a collaborative effort by Indian leaders, Indian people, wanting to see this happen, and finally, 80 years of work and lobbying, this has taken place. So, a day of celebration, historic, and just the way it was designated just really makes it worth the effort, long years of waiting, one administration after another, democratic leaders, republicans.

And this was a truly Native-American effort, it was great. So, thank you.

O`DONNELL: Well we reported last night that this lobbying effort as you say began under President Roosevelt 80 years ago, and as the tribes have long known, dealing with this government takes patience, as we`ve seen once again. President Russell Begay thank you very much for joining us tonight, really appreciate it.

BEGAY: Thank you, it is really good. Again just to say thank you to this administration and President Obama, for designating the Bears Ears as a national monument. You know, a lot of things has been stolen, but now it`s going to be protected for future generations, and we just thank the administration for making this happen. Thank you.

O`DONNELL: President Begay again thank you for joining us, really appreciate it. Thank you. We`ll be right back.


O`DONNELL: Time for tonight`s and this year`s Last Word. my Last Words are simply, thank you. Thank you to you for supporting this show again this year and much more importantly, thank you for supporting the K.I.N.D Fund again this year and breaking your own record for generosity. Kids in need of desks, K.I.N.D, is a unique partnership MSNBC created with UNICEF to provide kids in need of desks in African schools that have never had desks. K.I.N.D also provides scholarships for girls to attend high school in Malawi where public school -- public high school is not free.

This holiday season you have contributed a record $2,779,223, bringing the total raised in the six years of the K.I.N.D Fund to $13,491,143. You can always contribute to the K.I.N.D Fund all year at Tonight I want to thank two people who I don`t usually thank publicly but without home the K.I.N.D Fund would not exist. This is not a career that I pursued. I always saw myself as a writer not an anchorman. I expected to spend my life writing essays and books and TV drama scripts and maybe movies.

A writer`s deal strike detoured me in to politics and government in Washington for eight years and when I left Washington Andy Lack was building a new network he was going to call MSNBC and asked me to become a political analyst. And he was then president of NBC news and put me on MSNBC in the first hour of the first day that the network was launched. And so you have Andy Lack to blame for everything that has happened to me here on MSNBC.

Andy left for other adventures for several years, and when he returned to run NBC news again, he found in this anchor chair here at 10 p.m. because Phil Griffin, the president of MSNBC moved me from political analyst to host of a primetime hour. I`m here because of Andy and Phil. It`s as simple as that. The K.I.N.D Fund is here on their network thanks to Andy Lack and Phil Griffin. When I proposed creating the K.I.N.D. fund to Phil Griffin six years ago, he listened to my three minute pitch and he said great.

He didn`t say let me talk to the lawyer. He didn`t send the idea into a series of corporate meetings. He didn`t get it lost in the quicksand of all that. He simply said great. He knew he was making a new budget commitment to support the K.I.N.D Fund, but he didn`t have to think about it. I started to explain a little more to him how I thought it could work, and he said "I get it. This is who we are." Those were his words, "this is who we are." When Andy Lack returned to NBC I never had to explain to him the K.I.N.D Fund.

Most TV news executives would worry about diverting several minutes of prime time to something no one in the news business considers the news of the day, but Andy and Phil have never wavered in their support for K.I.N.D. And I never thank them enough. And so tonight I want to thank Andy Lack and Phil Griffin for their generous support of the K.I.N.D Fund. It`s been a tough year for TV news executives. They`ve all been criticized for how TV has covered the presidential campaign, and that`s an important conversation we should all participate in, what we got wrong, what we got right.

But none of us get to see the full picture of what TV news executives have to deal with in their jobs, and tonight I just want to open this one window into what Andy Lack and Phil Griffin have done that no one else in their industry has ever done. There are hundreds of thousands of kids who have desks in their classrooms now, thanks to them. There are hundreds of girls in high school now, in Malawi, thanks to Andy Lack And Phil Griffin. Phil was right when he said, "this is who we are." I want "The Last Word" of the year to come from Joyce Chisale.

One of the girls who is in high school now, thanks to the K.I.N.D Fund. I introduced you to her last month when I returned from Malawi. I want to return to that moment that I showed you before when Joyce told me what she wants to be when she grows up, and how that led to her reciting a poem that she`s written. It`s a poem that clearly captures the struggle of girls trying to get through high school in Malawi, but according to your responses on Twitter it is like all great poetry, inspirational for all of us, with life lessons for all of us. So "The Last Word" of the year goes to Joyce Chisale.


O`DONNELL: When you grow up, what do you want to be?

JOYCE CHISALE, K.I.N.D FUND SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENT: I like to be a doctor and a poet.

O`DONNELL: A poet.


O`DONNELL: Do you have a poem that you`ve written?


O`DONNELL: Can we hear it?

CHISALE: My poem is entitled little by little.

O`DONNELL: Little by little.



CHISALE: Little by little we`ll go. No matter how far the distance is, we are not shaken. Little by little we`ll go and reach our destination. Little by little we`ll go, no matter how bumpy or rocky the road is, we are not going to turn back. Little by little we`ll go and fulfill our dreams. Little by little we`ll go no matter how narrow the path is.