updated 6/18/2013 12:57:41 PM ET 2013-06-18T16:57:41

THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
June 17, 2013
Guests: Sam Stein, Irin Carmon


ALEX WAGNER, GUEST HOST: President Obama responds to Ed Snowden.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Beyond these shores right
now, in scattered corners of the world, there are people living in the grip
of conflict.

CHUCK TODD, NBC NEWS: President Obama is in Northern Ireland today.

THOMAS ROBERTS, MSNBC ANCHOR: President Obama is in Ireland for the G8.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For this year`s G8 Summit.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Meanwhile --

TODD: Another disclosure from NSA leaker Edward Snowden.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Snowden has resurfaced and is currently take
questions.

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Struck again today.

ROBERTS: Saying that he had a disillusionment with President Obama.

TAMRON HALL, MSNBC ANCHOR: President Obama was a factor in his decision --

ROBERTS: Which led to the decision --

HALL: To release secret surveillance documents.

DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: I think he`s a traitor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Former Vice President Dick Cheney.

CHENEY: I think it`s one of the worst occasions in my memory.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This pissing match between Vice President Cheney and
Edward Snowden.

CHENEY: I think he`s a traitor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s unbelievable. We`ve fallen down the rabbit hole.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Meanwhile.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Meanwhile.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Meanwhile.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Meanwhile at the hall of justice!

HALL: The Supreme Court strikes down Arizona`s controversial law.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a prop 200 from Arizona.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Requiring voters to show proof of citizenship.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s in conflict with the federal motor voter law.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The high court this morning has handed down five
decisions --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have 14 more opinions coming down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The justices are holding back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ll get decisions again on Thursday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On marriage equality, voting rights, and affirmative
action.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we can relate this back to education.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Last night`s Miss USA pageant.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What`s going on with these pageants?

MATTHEWS: The topic, equal pay for women in the workplace

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we can relate this back to education.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really, the only other format where this happens are
political debates.

MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I did this bigger moment,
OK, let me (INAUDIBLE) education.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Education, blah, blah, blah.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Relate this back to education.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Education, blah, blah, blah.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Cream or honey, are these questions really that
important?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it time to just let it go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s just as important as the others.

(LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Swimsuit! Eveningwear. Talent! Poise!

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WAGNER: Good evening. I`m Alex Wagner in for Lawrence.

Ed Snowden speaks, and President Obama responds. The NSA leaker did an
online chat today with "The Guardian," the newspaper that introduced him to
the world last week, where he leveled some serious charges against
President Obama.

In response to the question why did you wait to release the documents if
you said you wanted to tell the world about the NSA programs since before
Obama became president, Snowden answered, quote, "Obama`s campaign promises
and election gave me faith that he would lead us toward fixing the problems
he outlined in his quest for votes. Many Americans felt similarly.
Unfortunately, shortly after assuming power, he closed the door on
investigating systemic violations of law, deepened and expanded several
abusive programs, and refused to spend the political capital to end the
kind of human rights violations like we see in Guantanamo, where men still
sit without charge."

In an interview with Charlie Rose that will air later tonight on PBS,
President Obama addressed the criticism. The president said, quote, "Some
people will say, well, you know, Obama was this raving liberal before, now
he`s, you know, Dick Cheney. My concern has always been not that we
shouldn`t do intelligence gathering to prevent terrorism but rather are we
setting up a system of checks and balances?"

Despite Ed Snowden`s self-professed disillusionment with the American
government and his harsh criticism of President Obama, Snowden expressed
hope that the president could ultimately emerge a hero.

In the chat today, Snowden said, "This disclosure provides Obama an
opportunity to appeal for a return to sanity, constitutional policy and the
rule of law rather than men. He still has plenty of time to go down in
history as the president who looked into the abyss and stepped back, rather
than leaping forward into it.

I would advise he personally call for a special committee to review these
interception programs, repudiate the dangerous state secrets privilege, and
upon preparing to leave office begin a tradition for all presidents
forthwith to demonstrate their direct for the law by appointing a special
investigator to review the policies of their years in office for any
wrongdoing. There can be no faith in government if our highest offices are
excused from scrutiny. They should be setting the example of
transparency."

President Obama told Charlie Rose that what he plans to do to respond to
concerns about what exactly the NSA is doing. "What I`ve asked the
intelligence community to do is to see how much of this we can declassify
without further compromising the program, number one. And they are in that
process of doing so now.

Number two, I`ve set a privacy and civil liberties oversight board made up
of independent citizens including some fierce civil libertarians. I will
be meeting with them. And what I want to do is to set up and structure a
national conversation. Not only about these two programs but also the
general problem of data, big data sets, because this is not going to be
restricted to government entities."

President Obama would not say whether he thought Ed Snowden should be
prosecuted, only that the decision about charges and possible extradition
would be made by the Justice Department.

Today, Ed Snowden`s father spoke candidly about his son.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LON SNOWDEN, ED SNOWDEN`S FATHER: I would like to see Ed come home and
face this. As someone who served my name for over 30 years honorably, and
I took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States,
that`s not something that I could have done. But I`m not in Ed`s shoes. I
don`t know what he has seen, what he has been exposed to. But I know he is
a principled young man. I know what he walked away from.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WAGNER: Snowden`s father also made a personal appeal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SNOWDEN: I hope, I pray, and I ask that you will not release any secrets
that could constitute treason.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WAGNER: Joining me now: Richard Wolffe, editor of MSNBC.com, and Sam
Stein, political editor and White House correspondent for "The Huffington
Post".

Richard, the president has said he welcomes a debate. It seems like maybe
we`re actually having that debate. Are we?

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Maybe. I mean, there`s a lot of
misinformation out there, some of. Intentional, some of it not.

I`m surprised that Snowden as a guy working in intelligence could make so
many misstatements in his guardian chat. He said that this program was in
violation of the law. Actually, the problem is it`s actually legal. I
mean, we can have a debate about whether Congress should have authorized it
or not. But it seems by all accounts to be legal.

You know, there is a question about whether or not the president has
somehow betrayed the promises and hopes, that`s what he -- what Snowden
says is wrong about this president. But actually, he was pretty up front
in 2008 about saying this kind of eavesdropping was just fine as long as
the FISA court said it was so.

And he reversed himself just before he got the nomination. He got enough
votes for the nomination but hadn`t yet gone through his convention. He
reversed himself right there. He flagged this up.

You know, the truth is people have tried to engage in this debate on the
civil liberties side, journalists, even politicians and not many people
have shown much interest.

WAGNER: Sam, talking about the FISA courts, the president in the interview
with Charlie Rose that`s airing later tonight, says basically -- he talks
about the warrants. He says, "What happens is that the FBI -- if, in fact,
it wants to get content, if it wants to start tapping that phone, it`s got
to go to the FISA court with probable cause and ask for a warrant."

Now, Ed Snowden in his online chat with "The Guardian," basically says,
"More detail on how direct NSA`s accesses are coming." Deep tease there.
"But in general the reality is this. The restrictions against this are
policy based, not technically based and can change at any time.
Additionally, audits are cursory, incomplete, and easily fooled by fake
justifications."

That is a tit-for-tat on just how wide the breadth is for warrants.

SAM STEIN, THE HUFFINGTON POST: This is the big remaining question, at
least for me, is what extent the law allows the administration to actually
look at the content of what is said or in the PRISM case, in the case of
PRISM, what is e-mailed. And there`s been conflicting reports the last
couple days over whether or not and to what extent the administration or
the NSA has access to that content.

I think we need to see more information with respect to that. But the
broader point is also a valid one here, which is do the FISA courts provide
a stopgap or even an oversight for what the administration is trying to do?
And I think this is a huge question mark. This is what a lot of the
senators who are civil libertarians have been arguing about. They say we
actually need to make public the opinions the FISA court is issuing or at
least make public the arguments the administration is offering the FISA
court to get this type of data.

And I think that`s sort of the low-hanging fruit but it would be very
revealing fruit if which were to see that.

WAGNER: Revealing fruit.

Richard, when you look at the FISA court and its decision making over the
last 33 years of its existence, it has declined just 11 of the more than
33,900 surveillance requests made by the government. President Obama sort
of stumbled on that when Charlie Rose pressed him on it. And I guess to
Sam`s point -- I mean, is that he was outlining sort of I guess if you will
concessions he`s making to the question of civil liberties.

Do you think he`s got to increase transparency around FISA courts to
satisfy certain ends of this debate?

WOLFFE: I think transparency around national security intelligence is
extremely difficult but we need a FISA court which has some teeth. And
actually, Congress can apply those teeth. It can actually slot them in
like dentures. I mean, it could actually say, you know, we want to have
real oversight.

If we only get one shot at authorizing this law or reauthorizing this law
every few, then at least let`s have a court that can turn down these
applications, these warrants and actually say -- even if they can`t show
what the full reasons are, they can actually have a robust debate with the
prosecutors in this case, with the NSA going to find those warrants and
saying you know what, there is actual oversight that`s worth the name.

WAGNER: If Congress decides to take it up. I mean, Sam, this is something
that you actually brought up a couple weeks ago and something that Ed
Snowden mentioned in a chat, which is this notion that national security
has sort of become the third rail in American politics. And at one point,
Snowden says -- he`s sort of asked about -- he brings up the idea of our
national security apparatus and he says bathtub falls and police officers
kill more Americans than terrorism, yet we`ve been asked to sacrifice our
most sacred rights for fear of falling victim to it.

STEIN: Yes. I mean, this is a big issue I think in the broader context,
which is are we properly allocating the resources that we have, the tension
that we have, the emotions that we have as a society in the right places.
And I think there`s a legitimate mathematical argument to be made that
we`re overextending ourselves in the national security front to the
detriment of other things.

It doesn`t have to necessarily be bathtub deaths. But it could be
government workplace deaths. It could be other things.

Now, of course, looming in the backdrop of that is that one incident in
which a terrorist attack does take place and the amount of casualty is much
greater than any workplace casualty. However, if you look at the
statistics, it is a debate worth having. And I think maybe this -- of all
things, this will prompt that type of discussion.

WAGNER: Richard, the president sort of said -- continuity sort of say,
said that whatever happens to Ed Snowden will be determined by the
Department of Justice. A poll on asking a "USA Today"/Pew Research poll
today asked if Snowden should be criminally prosecuted, 54 percent of
respondents said yes, 38 percent say no.

That said, I think because of the public -- the public profile that Ed
Snowden has created for himself, this is not an open and shut case of
traitor, not traitor. And you also have the weird alignment of Dick Cheney
saying that he`s a traitor, aligned with some members of the left who also
say he`s gone against our laws and should be prosecuted as such.

WOLFFE: The politics are fascinating. It`s splitting in all sorts of
different ways. But it seems pretty obvious on the face of it that this
man broke the law.

You know, as a contractor he`s in the national security intelligence
system. He`s bound by very strict laws. He`s clearly broken them.

And if the reports out of China are true, out of the "South China Morning
Post," he`s been handing some of those secrets to a foreign government.
You know, I don`t know how his defense lawyers could ever stand that up in
a court of law.

STEIN: Well, so, Snowden denied that he`d been in contact with the Chinese
government in his chat today. But I agree with Richard that on the strict
definition of the law, he did break it.

But I do think this debate over whether he`s a traitor or a hero or brave
or not is sort of a distraction. And he made the point as well, which is
that the media sort of in a very knee-jerk fashion went and tried to find
every single detail on his life, whether it was his girlfriend`s pole
dancing, an interview with his dad, what he wore as a 17-year-old and we
kind of took our eye off the ball.

And the big picture here is the surveillance state that we`ve built. Not
necessarily what Edward Snowden did when he was a teenager.

WAGNER: Well, and I think the fact that the president is in his way
responding to that changes the contours of the debate and the focus of the
debate as well.

We have to leave it there, but Richard Wolffe and Sam Stein, thank you both
for joining me tonight.

Coming up, would you say no to this man? The other international incident
we learned about over the weekend involving Vladimir Putin, the New England
Patriots and a Super Bowl ring.

Also ahead, the Supreme Court weighs in on voter suppression laws. And the
GOP revealed this weekend exactly what the party has learned since its
losses in 2012. Hint: nothing. That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WAGNER: There was a first buried inside the Supreme Court`s ruling today
on Arizona`s voter law. A Supreme Court justice cited Bush v. Gore. In
his dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas cited the court decision that gave
George W. Bush the 2000 election.

In mentioning the ruling, Thomas joined retired Justice Sandra Day
O`Connor, who also reminded the public of thee highly divisive ruling, but
unlike Justice Thomas went on to add, quote, "Maybe the court should have
said we`re n going to take the case, good-bye. It gave the court a less
than perfect reputation."

Up next, the striking down of Arizona`s voter law and why Jan Brewer now
loves one tiny little huge piece of President Obama`s agenda. Joy Reid and
Ari Melber join me.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WAGNER: Today in a 7-2 ruling, the United States Supreme Court struck down
a 2004 Arizona law that required would-be voters to provide proof of
citizenship when registering to vote. In the majority opinion, Justice
Antonin Scalia wrote that the Arizona law goes against the national voter
registration act`s motor voter form, which requires voters to check a box
and sign a statement under penalty of perjury swearing that they are United
States citizens.

This ruling could affect similar voter ID laws in Kansas, Alabama, and
Georgia. But the court left it open for Arizona to appeal to the federal
government to add proof of citizenship to its requirements, a move that
could complicate things down the road.

Shortly after the decision, shrinking violet and Republican Senator Ted
Cruz wasted no time writing on Facebook, quote, "This whole federal
statutory law allows non-citizens to register and thereby encourages voter
fraud. I will file a common sense amendment to the immigration bill that
permits states to require ID before registering voters."

Joining me now, MSNBC`s Ari Melber and Joy Reid.

Hey, Joy, what is the point of the Supreme Court if you have Ted Cruz? I
mean, really?

JOY REID, THEGRIO.COM: What`s the point of having government at all?
Let`s just have Ted Cruz rule over us all.

Yes, it`s great. The thing that`s so interesting is you do have all these
other laws that are supposedly fixated on stopping non-citizens from
voting. But Arizona, when they passed this law, they could only cite 19
cases out of 2.7 million people that had ever been, you know, non-citizens
voting. Meanwhile, there are like 35,000 people who weren`t allowed to
register to vote.

This is like a very serious reality, particularly in states out west where
you have Indian reservations, Native American reservations where people may
not even have a birth certificate, where you have people born before 1940
who may or may not. Somebody was born at home.

There are all these circumstances where you might not have one. And the
hardship of having to go get one and pay for one, it`s basically a poll
tax.

ARI MELBER, THE CYCLE: Yes. And you`re talking about Ted Cruz putting
forth a commonsense amendment, which is a bit like Tom Cruise saying he`s
going to have like a relaxed and mellow media appearance. I look forward
to seeing his common sense.

I think this is a significant but as you pointed out in the lead
potentially limitable ruling.

WAGNER: It`s complicated. Just like the movie but in reality. I mean,
there really is. The door is open for states to actually enact these laws
if they get through the appeals process.

MELBER: Yes. And Justice Scalia basically in the back half of the opinion
gave his advice to whoever might be listening that wants to limit it. But
it goes to a tension that`s so important in this Supreme Court term and
that we`ve seen throughout American history, which is are we a democracy
where voters pick politicians or where politicians pick voters?

And we`ve seen these efforts again and again, is underlying proposition,
200 in Arizona, was passed in 2004, obviously an election year, and it did
several things. Not only did it do this vis-a-vis vote by mail.

It also did input the first voter ID standards, which unfortunately the
Supreme Court has held are constitutional. And voter ID standards as we`ve
seen and reported are often motivated by racial animus and often motivated
by desire to suppress voters. It`s a very serious thing.

And next week, we`re going to see the voting rights, again a question of
whether we`re going to let politicians pick the voters.

WAGNER: You know, what I don`t understand, Joy, is there`s this veil of
sort of we`re marching against voter fraud but it`s all politics, right?
And if you look at 2012, the politics of voter ID laws did not work well
for the Republican Party. For the first time, a higher percentage of
eligible black voters voted than white voters in 2012, 66 percent of
eligible black voters voted. And as you know, as we all know at this
point, voter ID laws disproportionately target minority, older, and poorer
voters.

So if that`s the strategy, it doesn`t seem to be working.

REID: It has the opposite effect. I was in Cuyahoga County the week of
before the election. And there were African-Americans there who said look,
President Obama disappointed me with the whole gay marriage thing, I`m very
religious. I was thinking, you know what, maybe I`ll just skip this one.

But these Republicans are trying to keep me from the polls and nothing is
going to hold me back. I mean, there was a passion to vote that was partly
Obama but partly just independent of it and partly Republicans. They
motivated a lot of black voters in places like Florida, in places like
Ohio. And the thing is that these are galvanizing ideas for the other
side.

And at the same time Republicans have to find a way to appeal to Hispanic
voters. This is the opposite of doing nap this is saying you can`t vote.

MELBER: Yes. Joy and I were just talking about this in the hallway. If
we see a conservative Supreme Court come in next week and go at the Voting
Rights Act, which Republican senators unanimously supported, which even the
Republican Party in its somewhat nativist form today doesn`t have the heart
to oppose, I think politically -- I think it would be bad law and bad
jurisprudence. I think politically you will see a tremendous backlash not
only among minority voters, but among a lot of other people who care about
voting rights.

WAGNER: It`s effectively a referendum on the Republican Party, puts them
in a very difficult place, as is actually prop 8 and DOMA. But I want to
talk about the weirdness of Arizona for a moment because today in Arizona,
Republican Governor Jan Brewer signed into law a bill that would expand
Medicaid under the president`s Affordable Care Act. It was of course the
right thing to do, Jan Brewer tweeted as much saying, "Right thing to do
for #AZ. Pproud to sign Medicaid restoration into law this morning."

I am glad for the people of Arizona, 300,000 more poor Arizona residents
are getting coverage because of it. But this of course Jan Brewer, she of
eating scorpions for breakfast and wagging her finger at the president. A
small bit or a giant meteor size bit of irony descending on the state of
Arizona.

MELBER: She gets some golf claps.

REID: No, she gets golf claps, because, you know, she pulled a Christie.
She basically put her state first. And Florida`s governor tried to dot
same thing. And Rick Scott, his nickname is Voldemort. His whole life was
dedicated to destroying Obama care.

And he himself also said, look, hospitals will go out of businesses. If
you look at big hospitals in states with lots of retirees, lots of elderly
people like Arizona, like Florida, the hospital system must have this
money. This is almost free money.

Actually, for the first five years it`s free money.

WAGNER: It is free money.

REID: And turning it down is insanity. And the idea that any government
would do the opposite of what she`s doing is what`s crazy, not what she`s
doing.

WAGNER: Which is why seven Republican governors have also supported
Medicaid, Ari.

MELBER: Yes, I think this is where it`s going. This is one of those funny
things where the national Republican like Frank Luntz, you know, seminar on
what you should do and let me give you good advice -- they`ve gotten a lot
of bad advice. Governors are much closer to the people they represent.
They have a lot more basically interactions with a wider array of their own
constituents.

WAGNER: Humans. They have to deal with humans.

MELBER: I didn`t want to go back to Romney lessons, Alex, but it`s sort of
humanoid contact is what we`re seeing here. And parks are a place where
people gather. What did he say?

WAGNER: And the tree -- humanoid contact is good. We could say that
definitively.

MELBER: Some parts of politics and the law, we`re talking about some of
these decisions are a little convoluted, this is one that is very simple I
think. Governors see what people want, they see health care is something
people need and they`re not going to just do it to sort of try to do a
solid for the national Republican Party for everyone.

WAGENR: #nobrainer.

Ari Melber and Joy Reid, thank you very much for joining me tonight.

REID: Thank you.

WAGNER: Coming up, the head of the Republican Party says the GOP can`t
change its values. So it`s going to change minds. Ryan Grimm and Nia-
Malika Henderson will join me to discuss the odds of that success.

And later, what a contestant in the Miss USA pageant can do to turn a
negative into a positive.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIRMAN: Focus groups described our party as narrow-
minded, out of touch, and, quote, "stuffy old men." The perception that
we`re the party of the rich unfortunately continues to grow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WAGNER: In the spotlight tonight, the Republican Party reveals it has
learned absolutely nothing. That was Republican Party chair Reince Priebus
89 days ago after his party lost the presidency and seats in the House and
in the Senate.

Here is the chairman speaking at this weekend`s gathering of the
conservative Faith and Freedom Coalition.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRIEBUS: I just want to let you know, I`m a Christian. I`m a believer.
God lives in my heart. And I`m for changing minds, not changing values.
Are you with me?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WAGNER: Here is how Priebus plans to change minds.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRIEBUS: A permanent across the country coast to coast ground operation
and focused in Asian, Hispanic, African-American, and yes, evangelical,
veterans. Branding and marketing. Our digital and data.

We need to control the moderators. We need to set the parameters of the
debates. When we talk about moving the convention from the end of August
to the end of June, so that we can get to the general election money.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WAGNER: Priebus did not make a single policy recommendation. But that`s
what you do when you desperately want your audience to like you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRIEBUS: This is not an establishment takeover. This is using your brand.
It`s not an establishment takeover. I would rather win together than lose
together.

We`re all a part of together. I would just ask you that we come together.
That`s what we have to do together. And together, let`s build it together,
and let`s win together. God bless you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WAGNER: Not in attendance at the faith and freedom coalition event was the
most popular Republican in the country. Governor Chris Christie was busy
in Chicago, receiving praise from arguably the most popular democrat in the
country.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The enduring image
most Americans have of you is standing there in your jacket, grieving with
your people, working with them and working with the president. And you`ve
got both praise and damnation for ignoring the political differences that
you had then and still have with the president and all of us who are in the
other party to do something that was really important.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WAGNER: Joining me now, Washington bureau chief of "The Huffington Post"
and an MSNBC contributor, Ryan Grim, and the "Washington Post`s" Nia-Malika
Henderson.

Ryan, I go to you first on this. Reince Priebus has not hitched his wagon
to a single substantive policy recommendation, except for this one. He
said, after the house -- the Republican autopsy came out, he said, we are
not a policy committee but among the steps Republicans take in the Hispanic
community and beyond, we must embrace and champion comprehensive
immigration reform.

Today, Ryan, the "Washington Examiner" reports that house speaker John
Boehner will not violate the so-called Hastert rule on an immigration bill.
Quote "no way in hell" is how several described the chances of the speaker
acting on such a proposal without the majority of a majority. It does not
look to be the best strategy, if you will, Ryan.

RYAN GRIM, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, HUFFINGTON POST: Well, you know,
Boehner always says that he`s not going to violate the Hastert rule. Right
up until the second that he violates the Hastert rule. So you know, he`s
very fond of saying, you know, hell no to whatever`s coming down until it`s
actually right in front of him, and then he makes a new decision. And he`s
gotten away with that time and time again. So, I think if it steamrolls
through the Senate and gets to the house then he might actually put it up.

But all that aside, you`re right. You know, Reince Priebus didn`t mention
immigration reform in his speech. He didn`t try to talk, you know, truth
to the power that is the -- this tea evangelical base, as they call them,
at all, you know. And he fed into their kind of delusion that if it
weren`t for hurricane Sandy, if it weren`t for their long debates, if it
weren`t for, you know, Romney`s failures when it comes to technology then
we would be talking about president Mitt Romney now. And that is what a
lot of Republicans believe now, that with a few technological tweaks, you
know, you straighten out the convention, you don`t have the crazy guy with
the chair on the stage, then maybe actually you win national elections.
And that is a prevalent view among a lot of Republicans now.

WAGNER: Nia, I feel like the branding and marketing reframe is incredibly
cynical. And then you look at that in conjunction with the legislation,
and I put that in sort of quotes because I don`t -- there is no thought
this stuff will actually become law. But tomorrow house Republicans are
considering congressman Trent Franks` bill that outlaws abortion after 20
weeks of gestation. And you look at that in combination with some of the
rhetoric out there around women and women`s health, this is not great
branding and marketing for the GOP.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: That`s
right. And they ended up having to make some concessions around that bill
because Trent Franks got into trouble with language around rape, saying
that pregnancy only resulted in rape in very low incidences. So they ended
up having to put that rape and incest exception into that bill, something
that Democrats wanted.

And so, I think in some instances -- and they also put Marcia Blackburn as
the face of that and pulling Trent Franks back a little bit. So, in some
instances I think there is some realization that they have to at least put
a different face and a different sort of framing on some of these issues.

But also, I mean, I think if you look at that, faith and freedom coalition,
the line-up there, all of those people were, to be frank about, it they
were losers. I mean, Paul Ryan, Sarah Palin, Gary Bauer ran for president
in 2000, lost. All of these people have tried their ideas in the
marketplace and they lost.

I mean, the Republican party is supposed to be the party of the market
place, the marketplace of ideas, free enterprise, but yet they keep going
back on to the same people and same ideas and arguing to themselves that
maybe if we say it differently this time or maybe if those -- there`s also
this myth that six million white people stayed home in 2012, so that gets
them around the whole idea of this demographic edge that Democrats have.
So it`s just interesting that they keep, you know, bringing the same ideas,
the same people out, but you know, it`s almost like trying to sell the pet
rock over and over again.

WAGNER: Speaking of pet rocks and losers and the same faces over and over
again, Ryan, governor Rick Perry made an appearance this weekend and had
some choice words, as he always does.

Let us listen to Rick Perry`s advice for the Republican party.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: Our party has frankly lost that example of the
happy warrior. Ronald Reagan died a little less than a decade ago. And
sometimes I fear with his passing we`ve forgotten that conversations should
come with a smile.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WAGNER: Ryan, according to Rick Perry`s prepared remarks, the governor
meant to say conservatism should always come with a smile, although he did
not follow that flub up with an oops.

GRIM: Oops.

WAGNER: Nonetheless, is it not oops-worthy to even have Rick Perry on the
stage?

GRIM: It is. And Rick Perry is kind of evidence of an effect that is
emerging ever more clearly here, and that is that there are two Republican
parties here. And that`s why it`s so hard for them to change. One
Republican party is quite satisfied with the status quo, and that`s the one
that controls the house and with gerrymandering, they could control the
house for the foreseeable future and they control a not insignificant
number of governorships. In fact a majority of them.

But then there`s the party that would actually like to possibly win a
national election. Now, Rick Perry is kind of in both because he tried to
run for president but he washed out. He knows he really doesn`t have a
shot at becoming, you know, a viable presidential candidate in the future.
So he can kind of get on the Republican speaker`s tour and he can be part
of that governors` party and that house party, he can rally that right
flank.

And as long as you have that strong flank that`s satisfied with controlling
the house, controlling a lot of governorships, they can stop a lot of
legislation so, they do have some power, then it`s very hard for the other
element of the party, which only consists of people like Chris Christie who
could possibly win a national election, it`s hard to see how they get out
of it.

WAGNER: And Nia, Ryan brings up the elephant in the room. Chris Christie
and his bipartisanship. He making the case for government during the
Clinton -- at the Clinton global initiative this weekend basically says no
one in my state was arguing that to me on Tuesday October 30th when the
state hit, governor, you should privatize the response to the storm from
here on out, making the case for the role of governor in public life.

HENDERSON: That`s right. And who knows whether or not that meeting with
Bill Clinton will come back to bite him when he runs for president, if he
runs for president in 2016. It looks like ultimately Republicans tend to
go for the person they think would win, and I think Chris Christie, as much
as Bill Clinton is cozying up to him there in Chicago, he should watch out
because in many ways you wonder if somebody like Hillary Clinton would be
afraid to go up against someone like Chris Christie because he`s very
fresh. And if he runs for president in 2016, you would get to see him in
action because he would still be the governor of a state. So you`d get to
see his brand of leadership in real time. We`ll see what happens.

WAGNER: We`ll see what happens. Perhaps the Clintons have some kind of
master Clintonian plan, tbd.

Nia-Malika Henderson and Ryan Grim, thank you both for your time tonight.

HENDERSON: Thank you.

GRIM: Thank you.

WAGNER: Coming up, a new meaning for the phrase "putting a ring on it."
Vladimir Putin, a super bowl ring, and yet another international incident.
That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WAGNER: Congressman Darrell Issa has once again ignored calls for the
release of the full transcripts of the house IRS investigation interviews.
Instead, he has once again released only parts of committee interviews with
IRS staffers. The ranking Democrat on Issa`s committee, Elijah Cummings,
asked for complete transcripts with redactions as necessary by the end of
today. Issa`s current reasoning for only releasing partial transcripts --
a release of full transcripts would be quote "reckless" and would provide a
road map of the committee`s investigation.

Indeed. Reckless transparency that might show no connection between the
White House and the IRS controversy.

Up next, the interview portion of the program, and why a question on pay
equity was such a tough one.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WAGNER: What if you were competing in a pageant on national television and
you were asked this question?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A recent report shows that in 40 percent of American
families with children women are the primary earners, yet they continue to
earn less than men. What does this say about society?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WAGNER: What would your answer be?

Might it include something about how our country still has a long way to go
in terms of gender and pay equity? Would you invoke women leaders in
business like facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg, and Xerox CEO, Ursula Burns,
or female politicians Hillary Clinton, who have continued to break glass
ceilings?

Well, Miss Utah was asked that very question last night during the Miss USA
pageant. Here is what 21-year-old Marissa Powell had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A recent report shows that in 40 percent of American
families with children women are the primary earners, yet they continue to
earn less than men. What does this say about society?

MARISSA POWELL, MISS UTAH: I think we can relate this back to education
and how we are continuing to try to strive to figure out how to create jobs
right now. That is the biggest problem. And I think especially the men
are seen as the leaders of this, and so we need to try to figure out how to
create education better so that we can solve this problem. Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WAGNER: Joining me now is Irin Carmon, staff writer at salon.com.

Erin, thanks for joining me.

So Marissa Powell did not win the competition last night. Erin Brady from
Connecticut won. And we were looking into the duties of a Miss USA. And
as Miss USA, Erin Brady, will get posh digs in New York City and an
opportunity to travel the world while promoting the organization and acting
as a spokeswoman for breast and ovarian cancer awareness.

Now, I think it`s really important and good to raise awareness about breast
and ovarian cancer. But I also think if you`re going to raise questions
like the ones that were raised last night about gender equity and pay
equity it would be great if Miss USA and the contestants in the Miss USA
pageant could talk about the issue of pay equity and gender equity and the
way society treats men and women and perhaps talk about the pew research
analysis from 2011 showing there is a massive income gap among breadwinner
families, single moms, married moms, and a whole host of other issues
pertain to women shattering the quote unquote "glass ceiling."

IRIN CARMON, STAFF WRITER, SALON.COM: Well, the most generous
interpretation of Marissa Powell`s admittedly incoherent statement is when
she said that men were seen as leaders, she was talking about sexism and
when she said we need education, maybe she was saying we need better
knowledge of the ways in which the patriarchy holds women back. Maybe.
Maybe, maybe.

Look, I think, you know, I don`t look for a property that is owned by
Donald Trump to be evincing perfect feminist values. Many of the women who
have competed in these pageants are very intelligent. It does not appear
that Marissa Powell is the most articulate spokeswoman for them. But you
know, she doesn`t sound that much better than a lot of Republican leaders.
I mean, look at some of the statements by elected members of Congress where
they say, for example as Marsha Blackburn did, that women don`t want equal
pay.

So you know, we can laugh at her. I think people want to see beautiful
women taken down a notch. But also we can say look at our elected
officials. A as Charlie Pierce put it, they just use better grammar.

WAGNER: Yes. I also -- I mean, you know, to say nothing of the Miss USA
pageant, these are very serious issues that are under discussed. And you
talk about education, women who were earned 61.6 percent of all associate
degrees in 2013, 56.7 percent of all bachelor degrees, 59.9 percent of all
master`s degrees, and 51.6 percent of all doctor`s degrees. Women are
better educate d than men in the class of 2013. And yet it turns out one
of the reasons women pursue higher degrees is because they know they will
be paid less than men if they don`t.

A CNN analysis says it turns out persistent wage gaps in the labor market
play a big part in motivating women to finish school. In the short term
men who drop out face no financial penalty in their entry-level salaries.
Women, on the other hand, pay a deep price right away for dropping out.
Since female dropouts earn entry-level pay that averages $6,500 a year
lower than what their male counterparts earn.

Why is it that -- I mean, I guess I keep going back to this idea that that
is somehow a political issue that cannot be talked about on the national
stage. On the Miss USA tour, you have to focus on cancer. When what is
happening to women and the inequalities there and inequities there are not
something that is fodder for mainstream conversation.

CARMON: Well, there is definitely legislation that could help with the
wage gap. I mean, not only those numbers that you show. Even like for
like, when women have the same education as men when they graduate with the
same qualifications from the year they graduate, there`s still five percent
gap and it widens. It widens when they get married and then it widens when
they have children yet again. Even when you factor out career
interruptions, the wage gap is there.

So yes, women are seeking more education. They`re filling the ranks of the
educated people. It`s not actually making difference for the wage gap.
The paycheck fairness act, which has gone in and out of Congress, has been
blocked by Republicans. Sometimes women who are making less money don`t
even know.

So wage transparency, you know, there`s a lot of measures we could do to
help when it comes to this.

WAGNER: That is how to turn a negative into a positive, which is what our
-- what Nene Leakes suggested Marissa Powell do. We hope she takes our
advice and Nene`s advice.

Irin Carmon, a new member of the MSNBC family, welcome. We are so happy to
have you.

Congratulations and thank you for your time tonight.

CARMON: Thanks, Alex.

WAGNER: Coming up, why there is a Patriots super bowl ring at the Kremlin,
and how it got there. Ring-gate is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WAGNER: Would you tell this guy he couldn`t have your ring if he wanted
it? The other international incident of the week is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Was the ring stolen? Was it a gift? And
when was the White House made aware of this?

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I will turn that over to Ben.

BEN RHODES, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: All right.

I`m not aware of like any discussions that may have happened with Mr.
Kraft. This did not come up in the meeting between the presidents.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WAGNER: That was White House press secretary Jay Carney and deputy
national security adviser Ben Rhodes in Ireland today responding to a
question about ring-gate.

The owner of the New England patriots, Robert Kraft, revealed last week
that when he met Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg in 2005, Putin took his
super bowl ring. Kraft says he showed the ring to Putin, who then put it
on and said, quote "I can kill someone with this ring." The KGB then
ushered Putin out of the room before Kraft could get it back.

Kraft says the Bush administration asked him to let the Russians have the
ring to avoid an international incident. It is now on a display in a
museum in the Kremlin along with other state gifts.

The Kremlin was surprised by the announcement, and today a spokesman for
Mr. Kraft released a statement.

It is a humorous, anecdotal story that Robert retells for laughs. He loves
that his ring is at the Kremlin, and as he stated back in 2005, he
continues to have great respect for Russia and the leadership of president
Putin. In particular, he credits president Putin for modernizing the
Russian economy. An added benefit from the attention this story gathered
eight years ago was the creation of some Patriots fan clubs in Russia.

Joining me now is executive producer of "Rachel Maddow Show," Bill Wolfe,
who is also a former producer at FOX Sports and ESPN.

No more qualified person to weigh in on this.

BILL WOLFE, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, RACHEL MADDOW SHOW: Or less, Alex.

WAGNER: OK. So an international incident.

WOLFE: Yes.

WAGNER: The Bush administration apparently got involved in this anecdote.

WOLFE: You believe that?

WAGNER: Maybe I will read -- a spokesman for Putin today said the ring was
clearly a present. What Mr. Kraft is saying is now weird, said Dimitri
Peskov, a spokesman for Putin. I was standing 20 centimeters, you have to
do the metric conversion, away from Mr. Putin and saw and heard how Mr.
Kraft gave this ring as a gift. The Russian president does not wear the
ring. It is on display at the Kremlin`s library where all official state
gifts are kept.

Who knew a super bowl ring was worth this much hullabaloo?

WOLFE: First of all, of course, he is not wearing it. have you seen these
things? I don`t know there`s a picture available on file. They`re the
size of Chevrolets. They`re these giant horrible rings. They shouldn`t be
rings. There are 124 diamonds on this particular ring. Do you know how
big a ring -- a ring should be nice and small and you can put it on your
hand.

WAGNER: A ring expert as well as Rachel Maddow, ESPN and jewelry.

WOLFE: I would not call myself an expert. I would call myself a person of
taste. So, wearing an ash tray or like a crumpled up piece of tin foil
with the shiny side out just balled up like this is not a good look. So of
course he`s not wearing it.

WAGNER: What is interesting to me is Ben Rhodes and Jay Carney were asked
about this incident. It is a testament to how icy, rocky, whatever
adjective you prefer, relations are between the U.S. and Russia that ring-
gate is even making it into a press conference.

WOLFE: As I watched those poor guys, take politics out of it. I make no
judgment about either Ben Rhodes or Jay Carney. They`re guys doing their
jobs. What lousy jobs they have. Like have you ever thought you wanted to
be a spokesperson for anything have to do with anything?

Sir, there`s this joke story about a really rich guy who owns a football
team and a really mean guy who runs a country and one guy has the other
one`s ring. And nobody`s really sure. Does the president have a comment?
Then they can`t just laugh. They can`t say you`re disqualified from being
here because you asked that question. They have to say the president will
have no comment at this time because it`s a very -- what a terrible day
those guys had.

WAGNER: And I will say just to end this, Bill, and get your thoughts on
this, 1991 super bowl ring -- the super bowl ring of hall of famer Lawrence
Taylor sold last year at an auction for more than $230,000.

It may not be an ashtray but its worth something to someone.

WOLFE: Well, that`s Lawrence Taylor -- you don`t know where that ring`s
been. So, it may have intrinsic value we don`t know about.

WAGNER: Bill Wolff gets tonight`s last word. Thank you, sir.

WOLFE: My pleasure.

WAGNER: I am Alex Wagner in for Lawrence O`Donnell. You can catch my
show, "NOW," weekdays at noon eastern right here on the channel calls
MSNBC.

Chris Hayes is up next.


END

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