'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Monday, November 12th, 2012
Read the transcript to the Monday show
THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
November 12, 2012
Guests: David Frum, Jon Meacham, Jane Mayer, Adam Ellick
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Well, we knew this was going to happen, but
I for one, didn`t know it would happen this fast. The Republican Party is
now officially at war with the Republican Party.
CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC ANCHOR: There`s a battle brewing over the future
of the Republican Party.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: It`s a war of the worlds.
DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: Republicans drown in a sea of spin.
ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Republicans facing post election
CORN: Within an echo chamber.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: They lost.
CORN: A time machine.
JOAN WALSH, SALON.COM: They were able to create their own reality.
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: This election won`t be close.
DICK MORRIS, FOX NEWS: Romney will win this election.
LIMBAUGH: Three hundred plus electoral votes for Romney.
MORRIS: Three hundred electoral votes.
DAVID FRUM, FORMER BUSH SPEECHWRITER: The conservative followership
has been fleeced, exploited and lied to.
WALSH: They were able to create their own reality.
MICHAEL STEELE, FORMER RNC CHAIR: Mythology.
FRUM: By the conservative entertainment complex.
STEVE SCHMIDT, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Conservative entertainment complex.
STEELE: Feeding into a mythology.
SCHMIDT: When you hear the word conservative, they think of loons and
JANSING: Whackos, weirdoes, and witches.
JON HUNTSMAN (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: For the Republican
SCHMIDT: Our coalition is shrinking.
HUNTSMAN: This is a very, very important moment.
MITCHELL: You`ve got Grover Norquist.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Anti-Tax himself. Grover Norquist.
GROVER NORQUIST, LOBBYIST: The president elected on the basis that he
was not Romney.
TAMRON HALL, MSNBC ANCHOR: He commented on Romney`s loss.
NORQUIST: And that Romney was a poopy head.
WALSH: Mitt Romney was a poopy head.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Poopy head.
NORQUIST: Romney was a poopy head.
WALSH: He actually said that.
MITCHELL: Grover Norquist or Grover from "Sesame Street?"
NORQUIST: Romney was a poopy head.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very eloquent.
FRUM: People are still getting over their hangover.
HALL: Efforts to avert the so-called fiscal cliff --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That famous fiscal cliff.
HALL: -- move into high gear this week.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Taxes have to be on the table. I think that`s a
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some Republicans could be splintering.
BILL KRISTOL, WEEKLY STANDARD: You know what? It won`t kill the
country if we raise taxes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We know there has to be revenues.
KRISTOL: It really won`t, I don`t think.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that`s a given.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That suggests compromise.
JANSING: The Republicans might blink on this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don`t have to compromise values to come to the
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: If there was a
mandate, it was a mandate to work together.
STEELE: America has clearly said they have had enough.
O`DONNELL: Newton Leroy Gingrich has been in politics 40 years, 40
long years. And finally -- finally -- Newt realizes he doesn`t understand
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: I was wrong last week, as
was virtually every major Republican analyst. So, you have to stop and say
to yourself, if I was that far off, what do I need to learn to better
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Former Bush speechwriter David Frum knows who to blame for
what happened at the ballot box last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRUM: The conservative followership has been fleeced and lied to by
the conservative entertainment complex.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Republican columnist John Podhoretz lamented this weekend,
there are no Republican Party leaders. Leaders are self-appointed now.
One of the self-appointed leaders fought back today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIMBAUGH: Just as I predicted, ladies and gentlemen, wait until you
hear the sound bites, this election was lost because of your host, Rush
Limbaugh. I am the primary reason, there are others, but I`m the primary
reason the Republican Party -- and I`m, by the way, the primary reason the
Republican Party will keep losing, until I am denounced by the Republican
Party. The problem that the Republican Party gets into is misidentifying
the reasons that they lose.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Yesterday, Republican Steve Schmidt took up the cry
against the conservative entertainment complex.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHMIDT: Too many swing voters in the country, when you hear
conservative now, they think of loons and whackos. We gave up five U.S.
Senate seats in the last election cycle by people who were just out there,
completely extreme, manifestly unprepared for the offices that they are
running for. Our elected leaders are scared to death of the conservative
entertainment complex, the shrill and divisive voices, that are bombastic
and broadcasting out into the homes and this country is rejecting the
social extremism of the Republican Party on issue after issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: One of the leading lights of the conservative
entertainment complex, talk radio host Laura Ingraham told "Politico",
"Blaming talk radio for the problems in the GOP elite is hilarious and
typical of people who want to continue to get paid to give bad advice to
Right wing anti tax, anti government crusader Grover Norquist believes
there is exactly one person to blame for the Republican defeat and it is
not Rush Limbaugh.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NORQUIST: We just had an election, and the House of Representatives
was committed to keeping taxes low. The president was committed -- elected
on the basis that he was not Romney and Romney was a poopy head and you
should vote against Romney. And he won by two points. But he didn`t make
the case that we should have higher taxes and higher spending.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now, one of the generals in the Republican
civil war, David Frum, former George W. Bush speechwriter and author of the
new "Newsweek" e-book, "Why Romney Lost and What the GOP Can Do About It."
And also MSNBC`s Steve Kornacki and Krystal Ball.
David Frum, what about Grover Norquist`s point, the final point there?
Which is to say, what about Mitt Romney? Didn`t Mitt Romney lose this
election for Republicans?
FRUM: You know, Mitt Romney, of course, like any defeated candidate,
is partly the author of his own misfortunate. But, you know, we`ve had six
presidential elections since 1988, where the Republican did not clear 50
percent of the vote in five of them. Only once, 2004, did the Republican
get more than 50 percent.
You look at the previous six cycles, from `66 to `88, and the
Republicans win five of those elections, averaging, including the defeat in
1976, 52.5 percent of the vote.
So, yes, you can make all kinds of criticisms of Mitt Romney, but
Barack Obama is not exactly the second coming of Franklin Delano Roosevelt
either. He is a candidate that doesn`t run but to say thank you to people
who vote for him. But the president has built a stronger coalition, and
the Republican coalition has been in trouble for a long, long time.
Republicans look at elections like 2010 and 1994 where 40 percent of
the country comes out to vote, where a third of the electorate is over age
60, and they say, well, we won big then, and then they are surprised where
they don`t win big in presidential years where 15 percent of the electorate
is over age 65.
O`DONNELL: David, what about the argument you know you`re going to
hear, which is Romney was not a consistent conservative? Had he been a
consistent conservative throughout his political career and had had not
flip-flopped to conservatism recently, then we Republicans would have run
our test with a solid conservative candidate, and so, you can`t make the
argument against conservative Republicanism if Romney was the standard
bearer of that, because he was such a false standard bearer.
FRUM: I voted for Mitt Romney, and I like moderate Mitt from
Massachusetts, and I am perhaps the last person with something good so say
about Romneycare. I think -- I thought that was a good basis for a modern
Republican appeal to the country.
But what we got here is -- I`ve used this phrase before and so I
repeat it again, the people who put the cement overshoes on Romney`s feet
are blaming him for sinking. They -- he was remade to a severely
conservative candidate. It wasn`t natural to him. I agree with that.
But that`s the position he was given. He campaigned on a big tax cut,
he campaigned on the Ryan plan, he campaigned on interest rates are too low
and Ben Bernanke is too loose, he campaigned on human life amendment for
abortion. This was the platform given to him.
Now, people who follow politics extremely closely, who knew how they
would vote a year ago, they may know that Mitt Romney is a complicated
person with a lot of you nuance in his background and maybe this isn`t
But the people who tuned in late, who decided the election, they got
that Mitt Romney was a generic Republican, espousing the platform of the
House Republicans and merely forced the country into default in 2011. They
heard about the Ryan plan, they heard about the 20 percent tax cut, they
heard about the human life amendment and they voted no. And they rejected
what they heard from Mitt Romney`s mouth, whatever was in Mitt Romney`s
O`DONNELL: Krystal Ball, looking at it from where you sit, can the
Republican Party possibly make the kind of moves that David seems to be
suggesting that they would have to make on policy, in order to appeal to a
KRYSTAL BALL, "THE CYCLE" CO-HOST: They certainly can. I think it`s
going to be tough, though, because they sold the base on this idea that you
have to be ideologically pure, and you have to sort of change who the base
is if you`re going to get more electable candidates on the primary.
But I want to touch on something David said. He pointed 1988 as the
year that things shifted. You know, before Ronald Reagan when you had
Jimmy Carter, you had 70 percent top tax rates for top income earners. You
had, you know, really powerful unions. You had you major government abuses
Now, Republicans have continued to move right, as Democrats have moved
right. You point out Romneycare. That is the basis for the president`s
health care reform.
So, in a lot of ways, conservative ideas have won the day. We`re no
longer talking about 70 percent tax rates, but Republicans in response to
draw a really stark contrast have moved out further to the right.
Now, to move back to the center, there are policy differences there,
but it requires subtlety and nuances. And it`s a lot harder than yelling
about death panels and socialism.
O`DONNELL: And, Steve Kornacki, it seems to me that there have to be
some kind of change among primary voters because those are the voters who
have been delivering Tea Party candidates, in fact, overthrowing some
incumbent Republican Senate candidates, ending up with Tea Party candidates
who absolutely cannot win as we saw in Indianapolis obviously. An so, as
much as there are leadership questions involved, how do you get control of
this Republican primary electorate out there?
STEVE KORNACKI, "THE CYCLE" CO-HOST: Well, yes. I mean, I think the
problem is, for a national political party broadly defined to be a cohesive
and functional, basically everybody needs to have the same incentive, and
that is to win. And then you can sort of unite all of the sort of diverse
interest within the party because they all need to win the election.
I think thought. The problem is, in that quote you played from
Limbaugh, the clip you played from Limbaugh the start of the show gets into
it, the problem is in today`s Republican universe, there are powerful
incentives for opinion shapers like Limbaugh not to win elections. You
know, Rush Limbaugh did not need Mitt Romney to win in order to have
influence, to have clout, and to make money.
In fact, he might have more influence, more clout, and make more money
if Mitt Romney loses. And he`s feeding information, creating talking
points and creating sort of the agenda for the party base. And there`s
beautiful built-in excuse. It`s like a heads I win, tails you lose thing
for a guy like Limbaugh. You can run an election like this and Romney can
lose, and it can be, well, Romney wasn`t conservative enough.
Or you can look at one of those races where it`s like Christine
O`Donnell in 2010 or Sharron Angle in 2010, clearly they nominated the most
conservative candidate and they still lost, then the excuse is -- well, the
sellouts in the party establishment abandoned the pure conservative
So, either way, you can feed the sense of conservative victimhood, and
the guy like Limbaugh can always pit himself against the party
establishment, and he has a lot of clout with the base, and he doesn`t need
to tell the base something that`s going to win an election, he needs to
tell the base something that`s going to feel good and make them feel like
they`re fighting against the powerful, arrogant establishment.
O`DONNELL: David Frum, in your e-book, you talk about these members
of the conservative entertainment complex, Sean Hannity, Steve Doocy of
"Fox & Friends" crew, Rush Limbaugh -- how would you expect anything to
change in the way that they cheerlead for conservative Republican
FRUM: Well, I don`t know that they will change. But the -- the
desire to win, as was just said. The desire to win is a powerful force.
America benefits from having a two party system because politics
become very zero sum and waking up to what the American electorate is
really like. You know, I hear again and again, talking to a contemporary
of mine just this morning, who said, well, you know, when we were young,
20-year-olds were the strongest part of the Republican coalition. I said
And those of us who are 20 30 years ago are still the strongest part
of the Republican coalition.
FRUM: We just got old.
And the question is, what are we offering to today`s 20-year-olds?
And if back in 1980, somebody has said to me that I should be
Republican because Tom Dewey was a hell of a guy, I would barely know who
Tom Dewey was. But we are separated today from Ronald Reagan as I was 20
from Tom Dewey. And that we cannot run in this country a campaign on
There is so much about Republicanism and conservativism that will be
compelling, markets, low taxes, enterprise. And that is appealing to
people of all kinds of ethnicities, men and women, sexual orientations of
Americans are entrepreneurial, they are workers, and they are savers,
and they want that message. But they don`t want to be told that they
belong to 47 percent that doesn`t count.
O`DONNELL: David, you got a real fight on your hands within the
David Frum, author of "Why Romney Lost," and Krystal Ball and Steve
Kornacki -- thank you all for joining me tonight.
BALL: Thanks, Lawrence.
FRUM: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, the first battle that will be fought in the
Republican civil war will be over taxes and some Republicans are already
sounding like liberal Democrats on that one. Karen Finney and Jonathan
Capehart will join me.
And sex, lies, and e-mail brought down the director of the CIA. And
tonight, the story is getting stranger by the hour. The newest twist
involves the shirtless e-mails of one of the FBI investigators.
And within the hour, law enforcement officials have conducted a search
of Paula Broadwell`s home in North Carolina, which is just step as way from
the home of Rielle Hunter, John Edwards` former mistress. This thing is
getting weirder by the minute.
Stay with us.
O`DONNELL: The first big battle in the Republican civil war is going
to be over taxes and some Republicans are quickly finding their way to
agreement with the president. Yes, to raise taxes on the rich. That`s
going to be next.
And, later, the FBI has just conducted a search at the home of Paula
Broadwell, the woman David Petraeus has admitted having an affair with. A
lot of new developments in the case tonight. Stay with us. That`s coming
O`DONNELL: The Republican civil war is now treading on sacred
Republican ground, a subject that has always previously united the party,
the subject where never a word of dissent is allowed: taxes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KRISTOL: The first tax rates expired on December 31st. Rates are
going up for everyone if nothing happens. If you think Republicans can win
a showdown on preserving all the current Bush tax rates against a president
who just was re-elected and gained seats in Senate and the House on just
raising rates on millionaires -- well, good luck. I mean, I prefer as a
policy outcome, I don`t think it`s winnable. I think at the end,
Republicans will cave.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The influential conservative editor of "The Weekly
Standard," Bill Kristol, is facing the Republican civil war on the taxes
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KRISTOL: What were four (ph) fastest years I think of the economic
growth in the last 30 years? I think `83 to `86 under Reagan. What were
the top marginal tax rates? Fifty percent. Honestly, 35 percent to 39
percent by itself is not going to cripple the economy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Rush Limbaugh is trying to fight back, but it doesn`t
sound like he has much fight in him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIMBAUGH: Do the Democrats after losing elections, ever say, you know
what? We`re going to have to cut taxes if we are ever going to get back in
touch with the American people. They don`t. They don`t.
We, on the other hand are the exact opposite. We lose elections and
we start making tracks to abandon our principles and loyalists as fast as
we can, all to please them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: "The New York Times" reports that on a conference call
with house Republicans a day after the general election, John Boehner said
that they would continue to staunchly oppose tax rate increases. But on
Sunday, Bill Kristol to Republican House members it`s not just them versus
the president, it`s them versus history.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KRISTOL: I think Republicans will have to give in much more than they
think. He won reelection. He`s -- four presidents in the last century
have won more than 50 percent of the vote twice -- Roosevelt, Eisenhower,
Reagan, and Obama.
Republicans in the House will be able to get some concessions, but I
think there will be a big budget deal next year, and it will be an Obama
type budget deal much more than a Paul Ryan budget deal, type budget deal.
Elections have consequences.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now, MSNBC`s Karen Finney and Jonathan
Karen, did you expect anything this big this fast from any Republican
on taxes? Bill Kristol has always been influential with Republicans in
Washington. I`m kind of stunned with what I`m hearing him say.
KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I literally almost fell
out of my chair when Boehner said the word "revenues" and the idea of
increasing revenues in those remarks, because that`s a central argument
that we have been having, you know, over the last four years. It`s very
expensive I told you so I guess that, you know, if we`re going to get to
this problem, we`ve got to deal with revenues, we can`t just do it all on
the spending side.
O`DONNELL: Jonathan Capehart, there is Bill Kristol teaching
Republicans how to talk about this. But it does involve a word for word
refutation of what they said in the past, that these higher rates would
just kill jobs and kill the economy. There is Bill Kristol saying,
pointing out, how we`ve done perfectly well under higher rates in the past.
JONATHAN CAPEHART, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Right. What Bill Kristol is
also trying to get through to Republicans, particularly the new class of
Republicans who came in in 2010, that, OK, you campaigned on all of these
promises, but now, it`s time to govern and things have come to a standstill
in Washington over the last two years, and now with the fiscal cliff or, as
you call it, fiscal curve, coming, and the president being re-elected, as
Krystal said, with more than 50 percent of the vote, Democrats gaining
seats in the Senate, that it`s time to make a deal.
And everyone knows that in order -- that the real deal that economists
will view as serious has to be a balanced approach, a mix of cuts and
O`DONNELL: And, Karen, it is a fiscal curve. I have officially
renamed it the fiscal curve here on the show.
O`DONNELL: And, by the way, we`re soliciting the audience to have new
designs for fiscal off the curve buttons here.
O`DONNELL: And we`ll have that as soon as our artists and audience
come up with it, because it really is something that happens quite
gradually. It`s a little slope, and when we go off, as I expect we will in
the first week of January, nothing big is going to happen in that first
month even, and it gives the Congress plenty of time to rush a solution
into place, which I think is the only way that we`ll actually make sense to
get the Democrats the solution they need.
FINNEY: Well, I think that`s right. I mean, look, I think we`re
going to see, I think the contours of a deal are out there. I mean, now
that the Republicans are acknowledging that math equals math, which I
think, again, the election helped to prove, you know, we`re able to have a
grownup conversation about these things.
Look, while they won`t say publicly, they all said the reality -- the
political reality is that John Boehner is not in the same position to
negotiate with the president that he was before. He lost seats. The
president won a second term, and the central argument in this campaign was
exactly this issue.
So they are trying -- they are sort of negotiating with themselves a
little bit in the public eye. But when it comes to sitting down across the
table with the president, you know, they`re going to have to get down to
brass tacks in a way they didn`t before.
O`DONNELL: Karen Finney and Jonathan Capehart, thanks for joining me
CAPEHART: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, we have breaking news tonight in the
investigation of David Petraeus. The FBI conducted a search of the home of
Paula Broadwell. We`ll have all the breaking news, developments in that
case, coming up.
O`DONNELL: There is breaking news tonight in the investigation of
David Petraeus. The FBI just conducted a search of the home of Paula
Broadwell. Within the hour, we will have the latest details on that next.
And later, in the "Rewrite", a big, big win for the legalization of
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAULA BROADWELL, AUTHOR, "ALL IN": I was told never to beat him.
Keep up with him, and you earn -- it`s a rite o f passage. But don`t beat
him, because he a guy, you`re a girl, and he`s a celebrity. And you`re a
soccer room. In any case, he started elbowing me and it was over.
So long story short, I did beat him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: In retrospect, every word from Paula Broadwell now has a
double entendre, including the title of her biography of General Petraeus,
which is of course entitled "All In."
In breaking news tonight, FBI agents are currently at the home in
North Carolina of Paula Broadwell. WCNC-TV in Charlotte reports that FBI
agents arrived at Broadwell`s home around 9:00 p.m. and took boxes,
suitcases and photos from the foam.
An FBI spokeswoman confirms the report and says it is a consensual
search and not a raid or, quote, "a game changer," end quote. The FBI
official says it is one of the final steps to closing out their
investigation of Broadwell.
Also tonight, "the Wall Street Journal" reports, "new details about
how the Federal Bureau of Investigation handled the case suggests that even
as the Bureau delved into Mr. Petraeus` personal life, the agency had to
address questionable conduct by one of its own, including allegedly sending
shirtless photos of himself to a woman involved in the case."
That woman is Jill Kelly, a family friend of Petraeus, who first
brought to the FBI`s attention troubling e-mails she was receiving from an
anonymous e-mail account operated by Paula Broadwell.
Also tonight, we heard from the ghost writer of Broadwell`s biography
of Petraeus, "All In." That ghost writer is Vernon Lobe, an editor at the
He writes, "my wife says I`m the most clueless person in America."
Lobe says he never knew about the affair, despite working with Broadwell
for 16 months. Lobe writes, "I assumed, given how public their semi-
official relationship was, that he would never engage in any risky
behavior. He always preached to his proteges that character was what did
you when no one was watching. And he would always hasten to add, from his
most public of perches, that someone is always watching."
There was no protege more ardent than Broadwell. Senator Dianne
Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is growing ever more
concerned as the story develops.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: Generally, what we call the
four corners, the chair and rankings of both committees, are briefed on
operationally sensitive matters. This is certainly an operationally
But we weren`t briefed. I don`t know who made that decision. And I
think, you know, that makes it much more difficult. Since then, it`s been
like peeling an onion. Every day, another peel comes off and you see a
whole new dimension to this.
So my concern has actually escalated over the last few days.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Jon Meacham, author of the new book,
"Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power," and Jane Mayer, staff writer for "the
Jane, we have been told there`s no criminal activity here, and that
Broadwell is cleared. And yet here we are tonight, as we are sitting here,
the FBI is completing a search of her house. Why would they be searching
her house if they have already concluded there is nothing criminal here?
JANE MAYER, "THE NEW YORKER": Well, and Petraeus is cleared as well.
I mean, there are many strange aspects of this investigation and lots still
to know. But I have got to say, one of the things that I think is really
troubling is -- is why this investigation ever became what it is. Why did
it even take off? Why is it public?
Apparently -- there have been several reports that have come out late
today, saying that the so called threatening e-mails that were sent, it
turns out, from Paula Broadwell were not really terribly threatening in the
first place, not the kind of thing the FBI usually gets into much. They
were kind of in the order of sassing this other woman, Jill Kelly, and
basically telling her to back off a little.
But the FBI down in Tampa that first looked at it, they were really
not sure they wanted to get into this thing, because the Federal Bureau of
Investigation, snooping into private citizen`s e-mail is a very big deal.
And there ought to be a very high threshold before the government starts
looking at people`s private e-mails.
So I think it`s troubling. And then you find out more and more about
the agent that started this probe. He turns out to be friends with the
woman who came to him, and has sent shirtless pictures of himself to her at
some point in their relationship. I don`t know what that was about. But
the agent is now under investigation by the Office of Professional
Responsibility at the Justice Department or at the FBI.
There are just a lot of questions about whether this was an
appropriate investigation in the first place, let alone with what happened
to him later. And then "the New York Times" has just gone up with a story
that suggests that this agent that started this again had a really strong
political point of view and thought there was some cover up by -- that was
protecting Obama. And he wanted this out fast. And it seems like he
wanted it out before the election.
O`DONNELL: Well, Jon Meacham, my sense of what was at stake in this
investigation of interest to the FBI was simply that these e-mails were
concerning the Director of Central Intelligence and the attentions and
interests of the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. And once
they see that, it seems there is some minimal threshold met for FBI
curiosity at that point.
JON MEACHAM, RANDOM HOUSE: And whether there was vulnerability, I
think was the concern. Jane has a very fine piece up on "the New Yorker"
website. It lists many of these questions. And one of them is the
question about whether vulnerability and blackmail is sort of an outdated
topic at this point and concern.
However, I will say that when you are in the midst of a story, and the
words shirtless e-mails and nighttime visits by the FBI, you are not in a
good place. It`s kind of a personal rule of mine. And so when I -- the
Howard Baker question I want to know -- I agree with Jane about what
It`s sounding more and more like a field office that perhaps did not
do things perhaps the way they should have, one would speculate. But to
what extent -- what did the attorney general know? And when did he know
it? If this was kept from the president, as it appears to have been, as
Senator Feinstein said, who decided that?
I mean, if you have the CIA director, once this was in motion, why was
this information not -- or who was making the decision about how widely to
share the information? Because this could have been a more serious thing.
MAYER: I -- I spoke with somebody over at the Justice Department
today about it. And I`m not sure that they made the wrong call on this.
Again, there, is a lot going on in this story that people don`t know. So
it`s very hard to have a -- a completely firm view on it.
But the rules of such investigations, a criminal investigation, are
that you keep it quiet the -- until someone is -- until there are charges
brought, there are innocent people whose reputations can be hurt and there
are tremendous privacy concerns. And even for people who are high up in
the government, there are privacy concerns.
So I`m not sure it was the wrong thing for the FBI to keep this away
from the political people in the administration. It`s a very delicate
question about what they should have done. In some ways, I think that it
makes me wonder if -- wouldn`t it have been better if Petraeus had gone to
the president himself? Or to the head of National Intelligence at a
certain point and said I`m -- I`m under investigation, and I did these
That might have been sort of the more valorous way to go. But it`s
very touchy what the Justice Department -- when the FBI is investigating
someone, especially someone who turns out to be innocent, you have to
really be careful.
O`DONNELL: Well, yeah, Jane. And that`s harkening back to the J.
Edgar Hoover days, where he was doing these kinds of investigation on
But Jon, that`s very important point Jane just raised about Petraeus`
own responsibility here to possibly bring this to other`s attention without
an investigation. The sense that I`m getting, Jon, at this point, is a man
whose life had become out of control, especially for the purposes of doing
the job of CIA director.
Sure, he could have done a lot of other jobs in this world by having a
girlfriend who is complaining to some other woman about maybe she`s paying
too much attention to a guy she`s having a secret affair with. But when
you have a CIA director who is in the middle of that kind of triangle, it
seems to me, what the president was presented with is a man whose life is
too much out of control in order to run the agency.
MEACHAM: It certainly seems that way. Again, it`s not -- far from an
ideal situation, I think it is safe to say. But I take Jane`s point about
the complexities of this.
But this is part of what mystifies me, is the chain of command on
this. And also, what -- the triggering event -- and it sounds more and
more as though there`s more and more evidence that this is a -- might be
And so, if, in fact, one of the early agent had a political
motivation, then how does that play into this? And I do think the election
timing on the notification, given that -- that once it happened, whether it
should have happened or not, or whether it should have been talked about
widely in the government, once it was being discussed in the government, at
what point was the -- was there a wise decision made not to announced it
before the election? Because of Benghazi and other questions?
It would have been explosive. That seems to be one argument. The
other argument is that things should have been handled more directly.
O`DONNELL: Jane Mayer and Jon Meacham, thanks for joining me tonight.
MAYER: Glad to be with you.
MEACHAM: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, thanks to voters in the state of Washington,
prosecutors are already dismissing cases involving possession of marijuana,
even though that state`s new law doesn`t going into effect until next
O`DONNELL: In tonight`s Rewrite, another episode of your votes
matters. Seventy seven million people who could have voted for president
didn`t. There are a few different kinds of non-voters at the presidential
level. First of all, some voters were understandably discouraged by voter
I.D. laws and other unique first-time attempts to suppress their votes.
I`m not talking about those people tonight.
I`m talking about people who could have easily voted and didn`t. They
include some people who kind of, sort of, mean to vote, but then don`t get
around to it on election day, for a variety of reasons, from flat tires to
you name it, including some legitimate last-minute reasons, illness, things
Another sizable group that don`t go out and vote during presidential
elections are those who live in intensely red or intensely blue states,
where there is absolutely no doubt what the electoral college result will
be in their state. Another group are those who believe that there is no
big difference between Democrats and Republicans.
That group thinks that voting doesn`t matter, ever. They are, of
course, in a word, wrong.
There is always a huge difference between the Democratic candidate for
president and the Republican candidate for president, on whom they would
select for Supreme Court justices. And that is a difference that can have
an important affect on our lives for generations to come.
There are, of course, about 1,000 other reasons to vote for president.
But if none of them move you, then there are always some local issues that
have to be resolved on state ballots. Now, you saw how complicated some of
those can be when I filled out my California ballot right here on the show,
with the former California Governor Gray Davis, because I couldn`t do it
In Washington State, Initiative Measure Number 502, to legalize
marijuana possession, up to an ounce, for people over the age of 21, was on
the ballot; 1,549,928 voted yes for legalizing marijuana in Washington
State, and they instantly changed some lives in the process.
The measure won 55 percent of the vote. And days after the election,
Washington State prosecutors in two counties immediately began Rewriting
the charges against people who have been arrested for marijuana possession.
They now intend to charge them with nothing.
Prosecutors are now taking action to dismiss charges in all of the
simple marijuana possession cases in their jurisdictions. King County
prosecutor Dan Sauterberg has decided to apply the law retroactively to
defendants who were arrested before election day.
"Although the effective date is not until December 6th, there is no
point continuing to seek criminal penalties for conduct that will be legal
next month," Sauterberg said About 40 such cases had already been filed in
King County, which includes Seattle, as criminal prosecutions. Those 40
will all be dismissed. And another 135 cases that had not yet been
formally charged in court will all be dropped.
In Pierce County, which includes Tacoma, prosecutor Mark Linquist said
he was dismissing all of about four dozen cases of simple possession of
marijuana. He said "the people have spoken through this initiative. And
as a practical matter, I don`t think you could sell a simple marijuana case
to a jury after this initiative passed."
In an interview with "the Seattle Times," King County prosecutor Dan
Sauterberg said "I think when the people voted to change the policy, they
weren`t focused on when the effective date of the new policy would be.
They spoke loudly and clearly that we should not treat small amounts of
marijuana as an offense."
Allison Holcomb (ph), who was the manager -- campaign manager of the
campaign to decriminalize minor marijuana possession, said she was, quote,
"incredibly moved" by Sauterberg`s announcement. She said that the
prosecutor showed, quote, "incredible courage."
More than 220 marijuana possession cases instantly dismissed. More
than 220 lives saved from criminal records. Allison Holcomb is right. It
did take some courage for prosecutors to decide to drop those cases based
on last week`s vote. And it took wisdom, the collective wisdom of voters
to make that happen.
One million, five hundred forty thousand, nine hundred twenty eight
Washington State voters improved the lives of people, instantly, by voting.
When people tell you that voting doesn`t matter, tell them to talk to those
220 people in Washington State who won`t be dragged into court for
possession of a little bit of weed. And tell it to the thousands and
thousands and thousands of people who, for years to come in Washington
State, will not be arrested for minor possession of marijuana.
And let`s all thank Washington State voters tonight for once again
proving that your vote matters.
O`DONNELL: People gathered around the world on Saturday to celebrate
what the United Nations declared Malala Day for the brave 15-year-old
Pakistani girl shot on her way to school by the Taliban after speaking out
in favor of education for girls. As doctors prepare for her next
rehabilitative surgery at the British hospital where Malala is being
treated, released a new video showing the progress of Malala`s recovery.
She is out of her hospital bed. She is sitting up right. Malala`s
father had a message to the world for the outpouring of support for his
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m awfully thankful to all peace loving well
wishers of Malala Yousafzai who strongly condemn the assassination attempt
on Malala, who pray for her health and who support the grand cause of
Malala Yousafzai, that is peace, education, freedom of thought and freedom
We deeply feel that the heart touching good wishes of the people
across the world, of all caste, creed and color.
Malala is recovering well and wants me to tell you she has been
inspired and humbled by the thousands of cards, messages and gifts that she
has received. They have helped my daughter`s survival and stay strong.
Her voice is the voice of the people of Pakistan and all down trodden
and deprived children of the world. If today her voice goes unheard, then
coming generations will go without basic human rights and sublime values.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now is the man who created a now famous 2009
documentary about Malala, Adam V. Ellick, "New York Times" video and print
Adam, there is a movement for Malala to receive the next Nobel Peace
Prize; 100,000 people have signed an online petition at Change.org calling
for that. What would -- and the deadline for the nominations are February
1st. What -- what would it mean to Malala`s cause around the world? And
what would it mean in Pakistan, where you have spent so much time working,
for her to be both nominated for the peace prize and possibly winning it?
ADAM V. ELLICK, "THE NEW YORK TIMES: I mean, the -- one of the most
amazing things that`s come out of this story is just the -- the amount of
attention that Malala has received worldwide. But in Pakistan, the change
we`ve seen is remarkable.
I mean, this is a country that has a severe female education crisis.
And it`s been a pretty silent problem for a long time. And since the
shooting -- and we`re still seeing it, as we saw over the weekend with
Malala Day, that the country is rising up and showing a tremendous amount
of support in honor, and nudging its government, not just in honor of
Malala, but nudging its government to create a comprehensive strategy that
will see more women educated in Pakistan.
O`DONNELL: And the -- what has been the effect of Malala Day, the
United Nations taking it up to that level?
ELLICK: So Gordon Brown, who is the U.N. Education Envoy, brought a
million signatures to the desk of President Zardari in Pakistan. And that
was complemented by a million more signatures of Pakistanis. And the
message is simple enough: it`s time to create a solution that can educate
Now what does that mean? When we talk about girls` education in
Pakistan, we`re talking about a country where one in five girls are going
to school in the region where Malala is from. And we`re talking about a
country with the lowest rate of female illiteracy in the world. It`s a
And it`s time for the government to focus on it with a lot more
attention. Just to give you a quick example, the government currently
spends two percent of its GDP on education. The U.N. suggests that number,
to give you some context, should be around four. And by the way, it spends
about 18 or 19 percent on its military.
O`DONNELL: Adam Ellick of "The New York Times," thank you very much
for joining us tonight.
ELLICK: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: "THE ED SHOW" is up next.
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