Skip navigation

'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

  Most Popular
Most viewed

THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
July 16, 2013
Guest: Ekow Yankah, Tony Hale; Steve Clemons



LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Tonight in Washington, the nuclear option
has been avoided in the Senate, and Democrats and Republicans have finally
agreed on a way to make the Senate work a little better.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You could call it the Senate`s own cold war.

CHRIS JANSING, MSNBC ANCHOR: The filibuster is at the heart of a huge
showdown today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are Democrats preparing to go nuclear?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The nuclear option.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nuclear option.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nuclear option.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That nuclear option.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Changing longstanding Senate rules to confirm
cabinet nominees have been held up by Senate Republicans.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How close are the Democrats pushing the Senate
button?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`ll move past the closure vote.

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC ANCHOR: Significant step to end nuclear
proliferation in the U.S. Senate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is gesture of good faith.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: It is a compromise, not a
bad deal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Senate has reached a tentative deal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Forty-five minutes before the deadline.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Senate has voted, 71 votes, including
Republicans, to end debate on Richard Cordray.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Obama`s nominee to lead the Consumer
Financial Protection Bureau.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will move past the cloture vote on Mr. Cordray.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have real concerns about the CFPB. No question
about it. This is a gesture of good faith.

REID: Not a bad deal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We averted the so-called nuclear deal, we`re here
in 2005.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This has happened before back in 2005.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re here in 2013. My sense is we`ll be here
again in the not too distant future.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The nuclear option was averted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The nuclear option.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nuclear option.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That nuclear option.

HOMER SIMPSON: Nuculear, it is pronounced.

REID: It is a compromise, not a bad deal.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: Almost two full years to the day after Richard Cordray was
nominated by President Obama to be the head of the Consumer Financial
Protection Bureau, the United States Senate voted 66-34 to confirm him to
that job after first having a vote to allow a vote to confirm him to that
job.

Such is the traffic jam Senate Republicans have created on confirming
presidential nominations of all sorts, including judges. It was only after
last night in a closed door meeting of 98 senators that Harry Reid was able
to convince Republicans that he really was ready to go forward with a
change in Senate rules that would prevent filibustering non-judicial
presidential nominees. That was the so-called nuclear option.

It was first conceived by Republicans some years ago when the use of
nuclear option would have provoked unlimited war with the Democrats on the
Senate floor who then objected to the idea. Once the Democrats got the
Senate majority back and the Republican minority started to road-blocking
and delaying every presidential nomination, the Democrats began to see the
beauty of the nuclear option.

So, tonight, order has been restored in the Senate to the way things
were for a couple of hundred years until the Senate Republicans decided to
make the place pretty much dysfunctional.

In that deal to avert the option, as in all bipartisan Senate deals,
each side got something. The president and the Democrats get a clear route
to a confirmation vote on six more nominees the Republicans consider
controversial. The Republicans forced the president to withdraw two of his
nominees for the National Labor Relations Board, but only with the promise
from Republicans that they will not filibuster the president`s choices to
replace those nominations.

Tonight, the White House announced its new nominees will be Nancy
Schiffer, associate general counsel of the AFL-CIO, and Kent Hirozawa, who
is the chief counsel to the NLRB`s current chairman.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REID: It is a compromise, and I think we get what we want. And they
get what they want. Not a bad deal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Harry Reid identified the key player on the Republican
side in pulling this deal together and thanked him publicly.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REID: John McCain is the reason we`re at the point we are. A lot of
people have been extremely helpful. But this is all directed toward John
McCain from me. No one was able to break through but for him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNEL: E.J. Dionne, and so, comity is restored at least on
presidential nominations that are not for judgeships.

E.J. DIONNE, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, you know, I think this is a
really big deal, because whether or not had been happening is if the
Republicans simply were not blocking nominations, but you`re at the point
where they said we don`t like this Consumer Protection Bureau, even though
it is part of the law. We can`t repeal it. So, we`ll just block the guy
running it and keeping it from operating.

We`re worried that the NLRB might be pro-worker. So, we won`t let
them work. We`re just going to block nominations.

So, this rose to a level even beyond the craziness we`ve seen in
Washington. Everybody kept talking about the nuclear option, the
constitutional option, there is nothing in the constitution that says it
ought to require 60 votes to confirm a Senate nominee.

So, yes, they threw in folks who were going to have to withdraw from
the NLRB, and that was a concession. But I think this was a big victory
for the president and the Democrats. But also I think for getting a more
normal Senate again.

O`DONNELL: It was, I think, a big victory for the Democrats, and I`m
not sure that the fans of this kind of political theater get that they had
to give the Republicans something. You couldn`t go into that room last
night with all the senators, basically and said you will get absolutely
nothing. It couldn`t work.

DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: You`re a creature of the Senate, you know -
-

O`DONNELL: I take that as a compliment, sir.

(LAUGHTER)

CORN: You know better than anyone at this table, but if you`re going
to make a deal, you make a deal. There has to be two sides to a deal.

The option that Harry Reid had, which some people from the left wanted
him to do was just to say enough already. There has been in the history of
this country, 20 presidential nominees who have been filibuster, and under
Obama`s watch there have been 16 because of these obstructions.
Republicans, draw the line and say we are just pulling the trigger here.
And saying well, we`re going to change this part of the filibuster, not all
the other filibusters.

And there was an argument to do that. OK, this was your chance to do
that, but Harry Reid being truly a creature of the Senate, and a few of the
Democrats, Carl Levin and others were kind of hinky about making a rule
change because you have to break a rule to change this rule which you could
do under the Constitution.

And so, they basically gave into two of the terrorist demands. Two
heads we`re going to give you in order to move ahead. And it`s really
still somewhat of a pity that the two heads had to be sacrificed on the
altar of Republican obstructionism. But now, you get the head of the EPA,
you get Tom Perez, a great progressive champion at Labor, and you get
someone at the CFPB -- so all of this is a positive development.

O`DONNELL: You know, I actually -- creature of the Senate just came
from a little event at the Senate run by an evening sponsored by the
Congressional Historical Society. And -- a dozen senators there,
bipartisan Orrin Hatch and others, and they were talking about this as it
feels like, to them, like something important has happened here.

And the guys who have been around before this kind of roadblock stuff
was done are really talking as if this is a new day. This really is going
to change.

DIONNE: Well, I think it is a new day, because a very large group of
Republicans undercut Mitch McConnell, their leader, that McConnell had been
aligned with them. He fought fiercely over campaign finance reform. But I
think the outside pressure overtime had a real impact.

I talked today to Senator Merkley who is one of the senators, along
with Udall and Harkin, Tom Udall, who had been really trying to push the
Senate to get rid of the filibuster or really water it down. They`re
pretty happy today because they know they started a campaign in 2011 --

O`DONNELL: This wouldn`t have happened without them.

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL: The old guard needed the pressure that you must do
something.

DIONNE: Exactly.

CORN: And they were reflecting outside groups and Democratic
constituents.

DIONNE: Yes. Merkley made the point that once they started inside,
there was a real outburst of activity in the outside. He said it was the
first time on what seems like a dry procedural issue but is in fact a huge
deal about getting things done, that there was a big pressure from the
outside.

CORN: And I did also think in terms of negotiations, Harry Reid
looked serious. There was a deadline, and it looked like he was going to
take a step that he probably would prefer not to. But that it had gotten
to such a point that there was no way for the executive branch to function.

And this is the issue. A guy gets elected president. Is he allowed
to run the government, you know, just by hiring people? And you know, this
is different than judges, right? Because judges last forever, and it`s
even different than filibustering legislation.

This is for the most -- part of the most annoying, irritating, petty
form of obstructionism. And I think Harry Reid was finally going to play
tough. And so Republicans said, OK, what can we get out of it to save
face? They have the two appointees at the labor relations board, and
because Harry Reid was willing to go to the mat, he was being pushed by
these folks who are getting wind in their sails (ph) from outside groups.

O`DONNELL: Look at what the obstructionism was actually preventing.
Look at what the Cordray vote turned out to be, 66 votes in favor. So, the
obstructing his nomination meant you were obstructing not just majority
rule in the Senate. You were obstructing the bipartisan view of two thirds
of the Senate.

DIONNE: And you were taking a law that was duly passed by Congress,
and saying we`re not going to let that law take effect. And I don`t think
we can overlook the fact that having Cordray confirmed, this has really
substantive effects. People will have -- can get protections when they
apply for credit cards, when they apply for mortgage, when they do have a
financial transaction, there`s going to be a place in government that`s
going to try to keep them from getting ripped off.

O`DONNELL: There is tonight, a wonderful consequence to the
Republican obstructionism, and that is that we have Cordray in that job,
and we have Elizabeth Warren in the United States. Instead of in that job
she couldn`t even be nominated because of the sense of how strong the
Republican opposition would be.

CORN: This is a classic two-for-one shot, because Cordray is in that
part because she suggested and pushed him. She is a very big advocate. So
you have this very strong person there, and the godmother of this raising
hell in a good way on the Senate floor and putting more pressure on the
banks and credit card companies and big finance, so they can`t pull off
their shenanigans.

And Republicans who tear their hair out about Elizabeth Warren have
only themselves to blame, because they allowed the normal course of affairs
to happen in Washington. The president would have appointed her and it
wouldn`t have been a fuss.

DIONNE: And two words that can`t be over-used in talking about
Washington, irony and paradox.

O`DONNELL: And you might still have a Republican senator from
Massachusetts, Scott Brown might have been reelected if he was not ran
against by Elizabeth Warren. He was such a strong candidate.

CORN: Unintended consequences.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

CORN: Ultimately, we get caught up with the process. And the
president, and the senators sometimes get dragged down, too. But this
really is about some big issues, someone at the EPA who wants to do
something about climate change. Tom Perez, who has a record of fighting
for working for Americans, and now the head of labor, and having these
things function. And those are the big issues that as we have these
procedural fights, the president, the Democrats have to keep reminding
people this is what is at stake. Otherwise, it does look kind of petty and
silly and high schoolish.

DIONNE: Procedure is ultimately about substance, and you`ve got to
keep coming back to that.

O`DONNELL: That`s right. They`re always (INUDIBLE).

David Corn and E.J. Dionne, thank you both for joining me tonight.

Coming up, the lessons of the George Zimmerman verdict and breaking
news from the jury, a statement has just been leased from four of the
jurors in reaction to Juror B-37`s high profile media presence.

And later in the rewrite, Congress got it right in 1933. And then
they got it wrong in 1999 when they rewrote what they did in 1933. And
now, Elizabeth Warren and John McCain are trying to get Congress to rewrite
itself again, and basically pass the law it passed in 1933. How is that
for rewriting? Congress goes back to the future in tonight`s rewrite.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Breaking news now from the Zimmerman jury. They have just
released a statement done on the stationary of the 18th Judicial Circuit
Court, State versus Zimmerman jurors, request privacy.

It says, "We undersigned jurors understand there is a great deal of
interest in this case. But we ask you to remember that we are not public
officials and did not invite this attention into our lives. We also wish
to point out that the opinions of Juror B-37 expressed in the Anderson
Cooper show were her own and not any way representative of the jurors
listed below.

Serving on this jury has been a highly emotional and physically
draining experience for each of us. The death of a teenager weighed
heavily in our hearts. But in the end, we did what the law required us to
do. We appeal to the highest standards of your profession and ask the
media to respect our privacy and give us time to process what we have been
through.

Thank you, Juror B-51, Juror B-76, Juror E-6, Juror E-40."

We will be back with more on the Zimmerman verdict.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: It didn`t come up that the question of, did
George Zimmerman profile Trayvon Martin because he was African-American?

JUROR B-37: No, I think he just profiled him because he was the
neighborhood watch and he profiled anybody that came in acting strange.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That was Juror B-37 from the trial, on CNN last night.
The four other jurors in the case have just released a statement, saying
that her views are not in any way representative of the jurors listed
below, and it was then signed by four other jurors, not by name, just their
number.

Today, in front of an audience at the NAACP convention, U.S. Attorney
General Eric Holder clearly indicated he believes race was a factor in what
happened that night to Trayvon Martin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Years ago, some of these same issues
drove my father to sit down with me, to have a conversation, which is no
doubt familiar to many of you -- about how as a young black man I should
interact with the police, what to say, and how to conduct myself if I was
ever stopped or confronted in a way that I thought was unwarranted.

Trayvon`s death last spring caused me to sit down, to have a
conversation with my own 15-year-old son. Like my dad did with me. This
was a father/son tradition I hoped would not need to be handed down. But
as a father who loves his son, and who is more knowing in the ways of the
world, I had to do this to protect my boy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: In that same speech that the attorney general made his
first public comments on the "Stand Your Ground".

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOLDER: It`s time to question laws that senselessly expand the
concept of self-defense and sow dangerous conflict in our neighborhoods.

These laws try to fix something that was never broken. We must stand
our ground to ensure --

(APPLAUSE)

We must stand our ground to ensure that our laws reduce violence and
take a hard look at laws that contribute to more violence than they
prevent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Jonathan Capehart, "Washington Post"
opinion writer, and MSNBC analyst, and Professor Ekow Yankah of the Cardozo
School of Law at Yeshiva University.

Professor, you wrote in "The New York Times" today, "The anger felt by
so many African-Americans speaks to the simplest of truths that race and
law cannot be separated. We are tired of hearing that race is a
conversation for another day. We are tired of hearing that reasonable
doubt is not in every sense of the word colored."

Explain that, Professor.

EKOW YANKAH, CARDOZO SCHOOL OF LAW: Well, when this case first
started, so many people were focused on whether or not this was a "Stand
Your Ground" case, or self defense case. Those are important questions.
There`s no doubt about that.

But at the end of the day, the reason it was a self defense case was
because George Zimmerman argued that he followed Trayvon Martin perfectly
lawfully and then was put in fear of his life. Now, if George Zimmerman --
if George Zimmerman had followed -- if another George Zimmerman had
followed somebody, had chased them for minute after minute, had pursued
them, the person had tried to get away, and then had gotten out of his car
and pursued them again, by most state`s laws, he would be at least a
provocateur and perhaps the instigator, and thus would no longer be able to
claim self defense.

The very idea that George Zimmerman could isolate the entire picture
to just when the fight started and how it happened is a story about George
Zimmerman being allowed to think of Trayvon Martin as suspicious, out of
place, and a potential threat. And only by bracketing all the other issues
do we say the only question available is whether or not he is proven to be
-- proven to defend himself beyond a reasonable doubt. It is to exclude
and narrow our vision to ignore some of the things that cut to the heart of
this case.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan Capehart, the professor argues that when you
close into the details second by second, and what turn out to be the last
seconds of Trayvon Martin`s life, you`re losing the real frame of the
story.

We just heard the -- the public juror on CNN last night saying race
had nothing to do with it. It just had nothing to do with it. And we know
that the only characteristic that George Zimmerman knew about Trayvon
Martin before he decided he was suspicious character was his skin color.

JONATHAN CAPEHART, WASHINGTON POST: Right, and we know that this was
a concern to him because of the many phone calls that he made to the non-
emergency phone number at the Sanford Police Department, which the
prosecution tried to get put into evidence and was only able to get a few
of them. Not, I think, the 25 or 35, all of the phone messages that George
Zimmerman made where he talked about you know, they were black males. Or
an African-American male, you know, going down the list.

So as we heard in his non-emergency call, that fateful night, February
26th, under his breath he said these, you know, blanks always get away,
these blanking punks.

There is a history there that the prosecution tried to drive that
home. But it didn`t work.

O`DONNELL: And Professor Yankah, you talk about how the law has been
written and jury instructions molded and the system designed to try to do
everything it can to actually squeeze race out of a piece of litigation
like this.

YANKAH: Well, in fact, I think what we`re seeing in the country is
the same realization in people`s heart that the law simply tries to ignore.
Whatever you think of the outcome, whatever you think of the verdict, the
core issues of this case were never fully put in the center of the trial.
And that is systemically true of the legal situation. It`s not that the
Zimmerman is an accident. It`s not that this is an isolated incident.

Our Supreme Court has ruled over and over, that for example, in the
case of a pretextual stop, if a police officer can later construct a race
neutral narrative that has reasonable suspicion, the fact that there is
great evidence that the stop was pretextual, that race was the reason for
the stop cannot undermine the constitutionality of the evidence that comes
in.

This shows a pattern of our legal system avoiding the hardest
questions. And it`s that frustration that`s being reflected in the protest
of both whites but especially, African-Americans across the country today.

O`DONNELL: And, Jonathan Capehart, in your column yesterday in
"Washington Post", you in a way previewed some of what Eric Holder was
talking about today, the father/son conversation in America that has to
occur with black fathers, black children.

You wrote, "Because of assumptions and suspicions, black kids have to
be perfect in how they dress and how they comport themselves in public.
But the Zimmerman acquittal now makes it clear that justice for an innocent
black child killed requires proof that he lived beyond reproach at all
times."

Fifteen-year-olds have to be living for their Senate confirmation
hearings if they expect to be treated with any respect in a courtroom.

CAPEHART: Yes, and so what you have here is a 17-year-old -- a
teenager, who is not allowed to be a typical American teenager, who
experiments with pot, who takes inappropriate pictures on his cell phone,
you know, flashing the middle finger or bare-chested, or wearing silly
gear, who sends text messages that might be inappropriate.

For the typical American teenager, that is a typical existence. But
when you`re an African-American teenager, that suddenly makes you menacing.
That suddenly makes you someone to be feared.

And what bothered me so much about Juror B-37`s interview was that she
completely missed Trayvon Martin`s humanity has a teenager. He was not a
teenager to her, judging from the portions of the interview that I have
seen.

He was, to her mind, not a kid, not a child. It was not even
possible, it seemed, for her to think of him as a typical American teenage
kid. To her mind, he was part of the problem George was trying to solve.

O`DONNELL: And, Professor, the statement we have tonight in this
breaking news development from the four other jurors. They`re disowning
everything that that other juror said. And they are stressing that in the
end, they say, in the end, we did what the law required us to do.

And they don`t sound especially happy about having to have done that.
But they do sound like those jury instructions as they heard them and as
they understood them tied their hands.

YANKAH: Many of us are struggling with this. And you know, usually
you say, well, I wasn`t there. In this case, actually, the coverage gave
us in some real ways a front row seat.

I don`t know that I can agree with the jurors. I do think it`s very
obvious that these jurors were conscientious that they work hard, that they
tried. That being said, there are two things that are important here. The
one is the importance of the statement itself, that is to remember that we
ought to be awfully careful before we let one person`s narrative, whoever
it is, dominate.

And I was not surprised to see this person`s statement. I was
relieved, but not surprised that one juror should not tell the world what
happened, as such.

The second is, you know, part of what we`re all struggling with. The
difficulty of the prosecution`s case and some of the strategic decisions
they made, and whether or not if we look at this situation from beginning
to end, the law truly did tie their hands. And whether or not the law says
if you instigate a fight you can at best get imperfect self defense, would
have led to a plausible manslaughter charge.

I`m sure these jurors are conscientious, I`m sure they tried their
best. But it`s good for us all to take a step back and realize that there
was no easy unanimity there.

O`DONNELL: Jonathan Capehart, and Professor Ekow Yankah, thank you
both for joining me tonight.

CAPEHART: Thanks, Lawrence.

YANKAH: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Edward Snowden has formally asked Russia for
asylum. And Vladimir Putin got laughed at by Russians students when he
talked about Snowden and he was not telling a joke. That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In the spotlight tonight, asylum for Edward Snowden.

Yesterday, Vladimir Putin was speaking to an audience of students who
are working with the Russian geographical society. One of the students,
Alexandra Sherova (ph) asked president Putin about Edward Snowden.
According to "The New York Times" Putin`s answer was delivered with a
straight face, but the students laughed out loud when he said he didn`t
want Edward Snowden to cause more damage to the United States.

Here is the "Times" of what Putin told the students. Initially, Mr.
Putin said, we offered him if you want to stay, please, but you have to
stop your political activities. We have a certain relationship with the
U.S. and we don`t want you with our political activities damaging your
relationship with the U.S. He said no.

The students laughed. You laugh, but I am speaking seriously, Mr.
Putin continued. He said no, I want to continue my work, I want to fight
for human rights. I believe that the United States violated certain norms
international law and interfered with private life.

Today, Edward Snowden formally applied for temporary asylum in Russia.
In his application., he claims that he fears torture or receiving the death
penalty if he is extradited to the United States, according to "The New
York Times." Snowden is actually charged with counts of violating the
espionage rights and stealing government property, each charge punishable
by up to ten years in prison, not the death penalty.

President Putin said recently that Snowden could stay in Russia if he
quote "cease his work aimed at inflicting damage on our American partners"
and would Snowden, of course, insists that his work has not inflicted
damage on Russian`s American partners.

According to the Russian news outlet, RT, it can take authorities up
to three months to consider Edward Snowden`s request, and that he may be
transferred to a refugee center.

In the meantime, joining me now, Steve Clemons, Washington editor at
large for "the Atlantic."

So Steve, there it is in the application. America might torture me or
give me the death penalty. And America has made the mistake, of number
one, having a death penalty. So that even, you know, the idea of people in
foreign countries are going to read it carefully and say it doesn`t apply
in this case. And also, we have this torture record that can now be put in
these applications.

STEVE CLEMONS, WASHINGTON EDITOR AT-LARGE, THE ATLANTIC: Well, it
certainly made us a lot harder to make ourselves distinctive from what
Russia`s pre cursor to Soviet Union used to do. And I think that that is
what certain people, you know, who have celebrated Edward Snowden sort of
raising the case that we are no longer, you know, can throw stones because
we live in glass houses well on this.

And I think what is interesting is, I think Vladimir Putin is enjoying
playing with this. I think if, you know, this went on for months and
months and months and he can position himself as being someone who wants to
supposedly helping the United States, but do nothing on Syria, do nothing
other areas in the world, but this is the story that keeps on giving. And
that is why I find the U.S. position, White House position so unusual that
they`re not letting this basically fade away. We have created this story.

O`DONNELL: How would they do that under these circumstances with him?

CLEMONS: Now, it is very hard. We have to basic -- I think they
should have let him travel to where he was going. If we wanted to penalize
those countries and created, they have created a purgatory that is very
hard for Snowden to get out of. It is very hard for Russia caught him up.
But believe me, if Vladimir Putin wanted him out of Russia, that could
happen very --

O`DONNELL: They were protesting that Putin has absolutely nothing to
do with asylum request. That we have a special bureau who could handle
this stuff.

CLEMONS: And so this story is going to be a bleeding ulcer that goes
on and goes on and goes on. Whereas I, you know, Glenn Greenwald has not
misreported. Glenn is reporting that there is -- there are other stories,
there are issues related to the so-called NSA blueprint of how the NSA does
what it does, that might give others a way to evade what they`re doing or
to replicate what the NSA is doing.

Glenn is not prone to misreporting in that case. And so, my sense is,
what is out there and done and the damage that is done is there. But the
more the U.S. essentially bleeds about it and complains about it and the
intelligence community acts as if it really wants to get Snowden, the worse
we do this. It is self-inflicted damage at this point, despite what Edward
Snowden has done.

O`DONNELL: And my favorite thing in there, is that the Russian
students in front of their all-powerful Putin actually laugh when he tries
to do this thing about you know, I don`t want him causing trouble for our
American partners.

CLEMONS: I mean, this is Vladimir Putin really enjoying this to a
certain degree. Because he knows it is not believable, but he is playing a
game with the United States.

O`DONNELL: But there are headaches --

CLEMONS: I think it is very important, Edward Snowden triggered a
debate in this country that were still not yet really. President Obama
says he wants to have this debate about the privacy and security. But
we`re so caught up in the drama and soap opera of what happens with Edward
Snowden. I think we still are not having --

O`DONNELL: I think the polls show that no matter what we talk about
here, America at home is talking about what Edward Snowden has actually
revealed. Because you`re seeing this movement in the poll numbers that say
this was whistle blowing, you know, this is they have a totally different
attitude about this than they did a short time ago. So, I think the debate
is happening.

There are problems on the horizon here for Putin. You have Senator
Lindsey Graham, of course, already saying, OK, boycott the Russian
Olympics. I mean, there is a limit to what -- how much of this Vladimir
Putin we want.

CLEMONS: We`re not going to boycott the Olympics, and Lindsey Graham
is not going to achieve that. That is as ridiculous posturing as Putin
talking to the students getting a laugh.

The point is Russian really matters to the United States in many key
ways. And we have had problems with Russia on Syria, a lot problems in
other parts of the world. And of course, Russia is somewhat seceding from
democracy, we would all hoped it would be. And we are squaring off with
Russia in a number of cases in the U.N. And in my view, we are going to
see Putin playing with us and playing with Snowden to sort of bolster his
own situation.

O`DONNELL: Steve Clemons, thank you for joining us again on this.
Thank you.

CLEMONS: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, John McCain and Elizabeth Warren have found
something they can both with believe in.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Senator Elizabeth Warren is trying to rewrite one of
congress`s biggest mistakes. That is next in the rewrite.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: What last people can do is
it can wind some more of the risk out of the system. It can help bring
down the size of the largest banking institution. Don`t forget, you said,
there was too much concentration in the banking industry in 2008. Now here
we are in 2013, and the big four are 30 percent bigger. That puts too much
risk back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Tonight, Elizabeth Warren`s effort to rewrite a very big
wrong. In 1933, President Roosevelt signed the banking act, better known
as the Glass/Steagall act effort Democratic co-sponsors on Ricardo Glass
and Congressman Henry Steagall, to ensure that a financial crisis like the
crash of 1929 could never happen again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have had a bad banking situation. Some of our
bankers have shown themselves either incompetent or dishonest in their
handling of the people`s funds. They had used the money entrusted to them
in speculations and unwise loans. And so it became the government`s job to
straighten out the situation and to do it as quickly as possible and that
job is being performed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: In 1999, 90 United States senators voted to repeal the
provisions that separate a commercial banking from investment banks.
President Clinton unwisely supported that repeal and signed it into law.

Senator John McCain and Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell have been
unsuccessfully fighting to bring common sense back to Wall Street on this
subject for years. And now they have a new teammate. Senator Elizabeth
Warren, the day after John McCain introduced what they are calling the 21st
century Glass/Steagall act, his co-sponsor was out there fighting for it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: We told you with respect to every
reporter I read, every person I have spoken to says there is a very, very
slim chance of this even passing.

WARREN: Well, let me put it this way, if you don`t fight for it, the
chance is zero.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: The house has voted 37 times on Obama
care to defund it. I mean, is this any different? You`re making a
statement. But we want Congress to do something that has a chance of
becoming law.

WARREN: But I was just going to say, you know, I remember going on
television multiple times, including here when I talked about the consumer
financial protection bureau. When the big banks were spending more than a
million dollars a day lobbying against it. And when everybody told me
you`ll never get that thing through, why are you even trying? The chances
of passing it are slim to none. And yet look around. We now have a good,
strong consumer financial protection bureau, to recover the half a billion
dollars for families who got cheated. It is out there working on behalf of
military families, on behalf of seniors, on behalf of students. We fought
that agency because we got up and fight and fought for it. I actually
believe in that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WARREN: Wall Street has bet against Elizabeth Warren before, and
lost. The prospects for a new Glass/Steagall act in the Senate are looking
up tonight. Thanks to John McCain and senator Cantwell`s new teammate,
Elizabeth Warren.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: The last word has a dedicated new viewer, Rory Dylan Freed
was born Sunday afternoon . "Last Word`s" producer dad, RJ Freed. He is
resting comfortably along with mom, Rachel Freed. Yes, Rachel, Rory will
sleep through the night, but not this year.

Up next, a look inside the funniest Washington show ever, Veep, with
the strangest character in the show, played by the ingenious Tony Hale.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Everyone in this town, Washington, wants to move up
tonight. That is what they want. That is what everyone in Washington
wants, more power, except maybe the president, maybe he has enough.

At least every character on HBO`s Washington series, "Veep," wants
that. The vice president played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus, it seems to smile
only when she feels herself moving closer to the presidency. But then,
there is her devoted bag carrier and the butler, personal assistant, Gary,
played by Tony Hale, who of course, first came into our lives playing
(INAUDIBLE) on "Arrested Development.

Tony Hale`s characters are not like anyone else in the shows he has
been in. On "Veep," he is the only character who is not driven to move up
in the world. Tony Hale dropped by our world headquarters in New York the
other day, and he talked about playing the adoring assistant to the
president of the United States. Here he is in "Veep."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to say thank you for all that you do for
me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So nice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I got you a little gift. Yes, I did. Thank
you so much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is so nice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look at this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love this. Isn`t that great?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It has the same layout, honey, took you so long
to learn the other one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is fine, I can learn a new layout. That is
fine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you wish I had gotten you a different kind?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. No, no, I love it! I love my new bag.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That is Tony Hale in "Veep" with Julia Louis-Dreyfus
playing the vice president. And Tony, you are playing what in politics and
government they call the body man. A person who is just attached to the
office-holder at all times to meet every conceivably need.

TONY HALE, ACTOR: Yes, he has no identity, I should -- I have this
job for about 15 years. I should have left in my 20s, but my identity is
so wrapped up in Selena Myer just played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus. I don`t
know life outside of her so I will stay there until I die.

O`DONNELL: The thing that "Veep" captures above Washington, is that
everyone -- there is only one person who is not trying to move up, and that
is the president of the United States, who is actually on his way down, on
the day he get inaugurated. But -- Gary, your character, your only hope to
move up is to be the president`s body man, when Selena becomes president,
right? Your ambition is entirely decided on with her.

HALE: My ambition would be to be her husband, if I could somehow have
a romantic relationship with her.

O`DONNELL: You want to sleep and wake up with that woman. And by the
way, the girlfriend character sitting beside you has not figured it out.

HALE: No. I mean, she is just low on the priority pole.

But there is something about if Selena, if she went and worked at
Dairy Queen, I would go to Dairy Queen and be by her side. I don`t know
life outside of her.

O`DONNELL: And the thing is, Washington is filled with people who are
that way. They are completely within the grip of this particular
politicians. Their lives depend on and completely in it. And I have never
seen it captured so tragically as your character who is --. I mean, here
is the thing, in "Arrested Development," where we discovered you, where I
met you ten years ago. In fact, let`s -- we have an "Arrested Development"
scene where -- this is from the first season and I`m, you know, sitting at
home like America taking in the shower and I discovered you in the pilot
entry of the series and I just want to go over the character you played
there.

HALE: He is a disaster.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Buster had taken Michael`s advice and decided to
confront his mother.

Because -- you know I don`t appreciate how you treat me. I am not a
child, mother. No, mother! I can blow myself. And you have interfered for
the last time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HALE: Come on --

O`DONNELL: You`re the first person to say I can blow myself. I think
MSNBC.

HALE: You are welcome.

O`DONNELL: Now, and thank you for that.

But here is the thing, in both of the shows you are just the arresting
character for me in that show, because everything you are doing, everything
you are doing is an act that I have never seen before. And now there is
more of this that you are doing it in "Veep." But in any case you are
playing the person who no one wants to be and just beautifully.

HALE: Thank you.

And very emotionally destructive co-dependent relationships with
dominating women in both cases.

O`DONNELL: Yes. And so, by the way, you, I don`t know, roughly 30,
when "Arrested Development" starts?

HALE: Like 32, yes.

O`DONNELL: So that is your break. I mean, that is where, you know,
people in the business, everybody gets to know you from that. What is the
kind of stuff you were doing to work your way up to that? And where did
you discover this unbelievably developed character --

HALE: Well, it kind of scared me because I was -- I lived in New York
for about eight years before I booked "Arrested Development." And I
remember getting the audition. And it was so, you know, I loved the script
that Ron Howard produced. I love that. But it was Mitch Herd, obviously
was the creator who is just -- he scares me how good he is.

O`DONNELL: Yes, brilliant.

HALE: People have asked me about how do you come up with buster, and
it scares me how naturally it came. That is what scares me a little bit.
But I remember when Mitch Herd (ph) was talking about the character, he
said all buster wanted in life is safety. That`s all he wanted. And any
time that safety was threatened, he would just spiral. So that was good,
it was something I always remember, if mom went to the bathroom, I would
spiral. You know, I just couldn`t -- anything that threatened him. And he
was always in a constant state of defensiveness, you know his chin would go
back, his hands would go back, he was always just waiting what is coming at
me, always in the state of defense.

O`DONNELL: All right, well, the Emmy nominations are coming up within
a few days, and I`m telling you if you don`t get nominated for "Veep," I`m
quitting the academy, can you hang around to do more on this after the end
of the show?

HALE: I love it.

O`DONNELL: All right, then, you are going to get tonight`s "Last
Word"

Tony Hale, thanks for joining us.

Chris Hayes is up next.

END

<Copy: Content and programming copyright 2013 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Copyright 2013 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>




Watch The Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell each weeknight at 10 p.m. ET


Sponsored links

Resource guide