'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Read the transcript to the Wednesday show
THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
November 20, 2013
Guest: Jonathan Gruber, Jonathan Allen, Hunter Walker, Ryan Grim, Eugene
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: We are expecting a live press conference
at this hour by the Florida Republican congressman who was convicted in
Washington today of possession of cocaine.
And, we may have reached the point where the only way to get out good news
about the Affordable Care Act is to leak it to Glenn Greenwald service
stamping it top secret.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Obama administration`s self-imposed deadlines.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ten days before the administration`s deadline.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For fixing the federal healthcare exchange Web site.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Obamacare.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obamacare.
UNIDENTIFEID MALE: Obamacare.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How concerned are you that this health care site
won`t be ready?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They need to get this right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It passed the glitches with the Web site.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Web site and enrollment situation --
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It will be a lot better.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- is in a better place today than two or three weeks
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This health care law needs
to be scratched.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get rid of the existing law. Is that enough?
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: That`s the only solution that will work.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know, that kind of hurts.
STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDY CENTRAL: Whose fault is this? Is this Obama`s
OBAMA: I`m willing to work with Democrats and Republicans to fix the
COLBERT: Obamacare. I meant Obamacare. Is it Obamacare`s fault?
OBAMA: The Affordable Care Act is going to work.
BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS: I think I`m pretty white. I`m the whitest guy I
know, I`m very pale.
O`DONNELL: There is good news about the Affordable Care Act tonight. It
is not about the Web site. It is not about the enrollment numbers. It is
good news about part of the law that almost no one thought would really
work, including many of the law`s supporters.
The Affordable Care Act was first and foremost designed to help extend
health insurance to people who could not afford it. A secondary purpose of
the bill, but a very important part of that law was to reduce the explosive
growth of health care spending and inflation in the health care sector.
A new report today by the Council of Economic Advisers shows that the
Affordable Care Act may be doing just that, and doing it better than its
strongest supporters ever imagined.
Healthcare spending growth is now the lowest ever recorded at an estimated
1.3 percent. Inflation is at its lowest rate in 50 years, at just 1
percent inflation in the health care sector.
This has forced the Congressional Budget Office to reduce its projections
of future Medicare and Medicaid spending significantly, representing about
a 10 percent reduction in projected spending on the government`s biggest
health care programs.
And an analysis of the Affordable Care Act indicates that around 1.5
percent of people buying health insurance under the Affordable Care Act
will actually pay more than they were paying for health insurance before
the Affordable Care Act.
Joining me now is MSNBC`s Krystal Ball and Jonathan Gruber, MIT professor
of economics who helped write the Massachusetts health care law.
Professor Gruber, this number, the 1.5 percent is what we`ve been wondering
about since we first started hearing the stories about policy cancellations
and people having to get new insurance. And what we wanted to know is how
many of these people will actually end up paying more? Some estimates said
maybe 5 percent but it turns out to be something very low.
JONATHAN GRUBER, MIT PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS: Well, the main point,
Lawrence, is that most Americans are simply not affected. Most Americans
get their health insurance from their employer, the government, they`re not
affected. It`s the roughly 4 percent of Americans who buy health insurance
on their own who could potentially see higher prices and of at, only about
a third or about 1.5 percent of people actually end up paying more for
their health insurance under this law.
O`DONNELL: I want to put up a graph that indicates exactly what you said,
I think one of our numbers in it might be slightly off but we have a graph
showing that 80 percent, 80 percent are unaffected by the Affordable Care
Act in terms of their costs, 15 percent are the -- are uninsured who will
get health insurance that they did not previously have.
And then the group you were just talking about, Jonathan, is that group,
2.5 will get a similar plan, 1.3 or approximately 1.3 will buy a better
plan but they will get subsidies from the government to buy that plan. So
they will be better off.
And at the bottom of our graph, we had it at 1.3 but it`s actually 1.5,
must buy, by law, they`re being in effect ordered to buy a better plan with
And so, Krystal, that political problem is actually something that doesn`t
affect 98 percent of people out there.
KRYSTAL BALL, THE CYCLE: That`s right. And the odds showing in that
chart, the number of people who will be unaffected is obviously vastly
larger and the number of people who stand to benefit and who are already
benefiting from the Affordable Care Act is a much larger group and what`s
been really distressing, and I think just openly dishonest and disingenuous
about the Republican position is they express great concern for this 1.3
percent, who will have to buy a better plan for more money.
But there`s no concern at all for people who have no health insurance, for
people who can get kicked off their plans at a moment`s notice, for people
who can`t get health insurance for preexisting conditions, and I also have
to say -- you know, we have to remember, in that 1.3 percent of people who,
some of whom have chosen to buy essentially bare bones policies and take a
risk, that they see as a personal risk that they`re not going to get
Well, in fact, it`s n just a personal risk. If they get catastrophically
ill and their health insurance bare-bones policy does not cover it and they
show up at the emergency room, we provide them care as a society and those
costs we all pay, so that`s par of why we`ve had high medical costs. It is
not a personal risk that these people buying bare bones policies are
making. It is a collective risk that we are all footing the bill for now.
O`DONNELL: Professor Gruber, I want to go to shocking new numbers on
inflation in the health sector, an all-time low, 50-year low, and spending
increases in the health sector. These are shockingly low numbers.
Now, some of this surely has to do with the recession and slowdown in
spending generally in the economy. But normally, health care spending is
resistant to that kind of normal economic behavior.
What else other than the Affordable Care Act would we ascribe these amazing
new numbers to?
GRUBER: Look, there`s basically three things that they`ve been ascribed
One is economic conditions, as you mentioned. The other is there has been
a general growth in the share of health care spending that people are asked
to bear through higher deductibles and things to that nature.
And the third is the changes being induced by the Affordable Care Act, but
we know that the third must be at least a healthy part of the story and
here`s how we know -- the economy has gotten better, the slowdowns only
increased. OK? It`s been even slower as the economy is getting better.
We know that these changes are happening in the Medicare program where the
economic conditions and the higher co-payments don`t affect people.
So that basic evidence is suggesting that it`s something beyond just
economic conditions and something beyond higher deductibles for
individuals. It`s the Affordable Care Act having some effect. How much is
hard to ascribe.
But remember, this is just the effect of the Affordable Care Act
essentially changing the way health care is practiced and this is early.
There are a number of exciting changes the Affordable Care Act brings into
place to control health care costs that haven`t gone into place yet.
O`DONNELL: There`s another element, Krystal, that I observed over the
years -- which is when the government shows extreme interest in health care
costs and health care inflation, it tends to go down, including -- and,
Professor, this is kind of fascinating -- in 1993-1994, when Congress and
the Clintons were on the health care crusade to try to achieve what
President Obama did achieve, they ended up doing absolutely nothing.
O`DONNELL: They legislated absolutely nothing and yet during that two-year
period of that crusade, these numbers went down. There was a reaction
inside the health care sector that said they`re watching us. They`re going
to try to control our costs. Let`s show them that we know how to control
And you can never prove that, but it is fascinating that merely a
tremendous amount of government attention to it, actually in the past,
seems to have had an effect.
BALL: That`s amazing and I haven`t heard that connection before but that
is incredible that just putting that sort of attention and that sunshine --
O`DONNELL: They know they`re being watched.
BALL: Mind their P`s and Q`s.
But, you know, the other thing here is Republicans -- right, they want to
balance the budget, they want to cut the deficit and the debt, they should
be very excited about these numbers. They won`t be and they`re clamoring
for entitlement reform, which is mostly focused around Medicare, Medicaid
and Social Security.
Well, this president has done more to cut our projected problems with
Medicare and Medicaid than any president in recent history by helping to
get these health care costs under control.
You don`t have to cut benefits. You don`t have to cut off poor people in
order to get those cost savings. I think that is also something that`s
really exciting, and that`s really exciting for liberals because this is
the argument that we`ve been making, that you could do this without having
to cut benefits.
And, Professor Gruber, you can`t be serious about deficit reduction or
budget controls in the federal budget, if you don`t have a suggestion about
how to help contain costs in the health care sector, since the government
is already so heavily invested in that sector through Medicare/Medicaid,
veterans health benefits and so forth.
And that`s why 20 years ago, Republicans were proposing plans based on what
they thought would do this kind of thing, help control these costs.
GRUBER: Well, I mean, Lawrence, if you look forward to the budget
projections by the CBO, more than 100 percent of our ongoing budget
deficit, more than 100 percent, is due to health care costs. The whole
rest of the government absent health care actually their deficit position
improves over the next 20 years.
It`s all health care spending. So the only way we are going to improve our
deficit is controlling health care spending. The only way the control
health care spending is not to sit with the existing status quo but to
actually be innovative and try to force providers and consumers to take
step to control health care costs.
The Affordable Care Act, as you said, just by raising attention to the
issue, much as the Clinton law did in the early `90s, has gotten providers
and consumers to sit up and say, hey, we need to think about the way we`re
doing this. We need to form exciting new organizations like accountable
care organizations and new interesting flexible limited network products to
try to bring consumers into the purchasing decision, and that`s going to
To repeal the Affordable Care Act would be to go backwards and reverse the
gains that we`ve seen over the last few years.
O`DONNELL: Krystal, I don`t know how the administration considerable --
look, there`s a mixed bag of news about the Affordable Care Act out there.
There`s a flow of bad news in certain parts of it, the Web site and so
forth. But when there is good news, I just don`t know how they can get it
out at this point. I mean, I suggest stamping it top secret and leaking it
to Glenn Greenwald.
I just don`t know how you can get the media to pay attention to these
astonishing numbers on the inflation and the costs and this -- the 80
percent unaffected, for example.
BALL: Yes. Well, and the trouble is, of course, Republicans have put
anything that they had any thoughts of doing like immigration reform or
even the budget deal that they`re supposed to be working on with Democrats,
they pushed that all to the side, in favor of cheering about how Obamacare
is not going well in terms of the Web site, and in terms of a few other
things. So they`re not providing any sort of distraction. They`re trying
to focus all of the media`s attention here.
It`s difficult, this is a story the media wants to write, they`re searching
for the anecdotal evidence of this person and that person, who was better
off before Obamacare. Eventually, that story is going to flip and people
will see the overwhelming benefit that this law is providing to the country
already, even with the problems.
O`DONNELL: You know, I think if the Obama administration could get 80
percent unaffected by the Affordable Care Act into some NSA secret document
and get that leaked, it would be a front page headline.
Krystal Ball and Professor Gruber, thank you very much for joining me
BALL: Thanks, Lawrence.
GRUBER: Good to be here.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, Cecile Richards will join me with the latest on a
defeat of a 20-week abortion ban.
And Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is joined in the rewrite tonight by America`s
very own cocaine-using congressman. Do you think that congressman should
be forced to resign? I`ll give my answer, coming up.
And we are standing by for a live news conference from that Florida
Republican congressman in this hour.
And we have more video of that wild police shooting in New Mexico that one
police trainer is already using as an instructional video for how officers
should not use their firearms.
O`DONNELL: A Massachusetts State Senate voted to raise the state`s minimum
wage to the highest in the nation. The Massachusetts minimum wage of $8 an
hour is already higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. If
that bill becomes law, Massachusetts minimum wage would rise to $11 over
the next three years.
Cecile Richards joins me next on a victory for reproductive rights.
O`DONNELL: I know I just promised you Cecile Richards but we`ve just lost
our satellite connection to her in Texas. We`re going to try to get her
Meanwhile, in the spotlight tonight President Obama and the Clintons.
LUKE RUSSERT: But would you acknowledge that Senator Obama and Senator
Edwards are both prepared to be president?
HILLARY CLINTON (D), THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think that
that`s up to the voters to decide.
OBAMA: You`re likeable enough, Hillary.
H. CLINTON: Thank you.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT: Give me a break. This whole thing is the
biggest fairytale I`ve ever seen.
H. CLINTON: We`re just getting warmed up. Now --
OBAMA: Assertions made by Senator Clinton as well as her husband that are
not factually accurate.
H. CLINTON: And then using tactics right out of Karl Rove`s playbook so
shame on you Barack Obama.
OBAMA: She actually compared our campaign to Karl Rove.
B. CLINTON: What about the Obama handout covered up implying that I was a
H. CLINTON: I endorse him and throw my full support behind him.
OBAMA: I have known Hillary Clinton as a friend, a colleague. I had no
doubt that Hillary Clinton is the right person to lead our State
President Clinton, you need to appoint him secretary of explaining stuff.
I like that.
O`DONNELL: Joining me now is MSNBC.com executive editor, Richard Wolffe,
author of "The Message", and "Politico`s" White House bureau chief,
Jonathan Allen, who`s upcoming book is "HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth
of Hillary Clinton."
Jonathan, as the Hillary Clinton expert here of the panel, she has traveled
a long road from that presidential primary debate stage to where she could
today, watch the president of the United States drape the Medal of Freedom
around her husband`s shoulders.
JONATHAN ALLEN, POLITICO.COM: I was waiting for President Obama to
recommend President Clinton for sainthood.
O`DONNELL: He`s got a few more years.
ALLEN: Perhaps that Nobel Prize that Bill Clinton never won that Obama
I think, look, over five years a lot has changed. There`s been both a
political necessity for Barack Obama to grow closer to the Clintons and for
them to grow closer to him. Remember Bill Clinton after the 2008 campaign
had embarrassed himself a lot on the trail. There were some people who
suggested that he had behaved in a fashion of race-baiting during that
campaign and his ability to campaign for Barack Obama over the last few
years and his wife`s working in Obama`s cabinet certainly brought them
closer together. If they`re not tight at least they`ve created a political
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what President Obama said today about his
gratitude for Bill Clinton`s advice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I`m grateful Bill as well for the advice and counsel that you`ve
offered me on and off the golf course. And most importantly, for your
lifesaving work around the world, which represents what`s the very best in
America. So, thank you so much, President Clinton.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Richard, in politics there`s no such thing as leaving today`s
enemies for dead because you don`t know when you`re going to need them.
RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC.COM: Right. And, of course, they have this
symbiotic thing moving forward. President Obama needed Clinton through
this last cycle and --
O`DONNELL: Needed Hillary Clinton in his first general election campaign.
WOLFFE: Exactly. And now the favor`s going to be returned or the debt is
going to have to be repaid because the Clintons will need President Obama
to deliver up his coalition for them, if indeed as we all expect if Hillary
Clinton runs and gets the Democratic nomination.
What`s interesting is just this prickliness there. I mean, I don`t know if
you watched the whole tape, but the clenched jaws, the body language
between these two men, the reluctant praise. I mean, I don`t know how
they`re going to talk about each other. I don`t know how Bill Clinton is
going to talk about Hillary.
It`s going to be fascinating to watch that unfold in full public view
through `15 and `16.
O`DONNELL: But, Jonathan, President Obama did get reelected. He did get
reelected with Bill Clinton`s help. There has to be some genuine good
Do you have any sense of how much of it has developed as genuine, positive
human feeling, especially between the president and his former secretary of
ALLEN: Well, look, I think it`s pretty clear that the relationship between
President Obama and Secretary Clinton is one that seems to be a lot warmer
than between the two presidents who seem to have an appreciation for each
other`s skills but not necessarily a warmth, and I think in that "60
Minutes" interview at the end of her tenure, and some other places along
the years -- you`ve seen them physically their body language, the way that
they talk about each other seems a lot warmer.
The two presidents, I think it`s hard for either one of them to really give
any ground to the other. I think these are two bulls, two macho guys.
Neither one of them really wants to acknowledge the other might be better
than him at some things.
O`DONNELL: Now, Republicans are starting to make counter noises to the
Democratic Party enthusiasm about Hillary Clinton running for president.
Charles Krauthammer saying, you know, she`s a paper tiger, I really think
the Republicans can beat her.
But let`s listen to Krauthammer talking about what she actually
accomplished as secretary of state.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: You know, she`s got her
strengths. But let me ask you this, you know the hyperbole about her being
secretary of state, name me one thing she achieved in the four years, one.
I`m not asking for a, you know, Kissinger-China-Middle East. I`m not
asking for a Baker. I`m not asking for a George Shultz or a George
Tell me one thing she achieved in the four years.
HUGH HEWITT: Now that -- I posed that question to "Politico" reporters
before and they can`t come up with anything because there isn`t anything,
KRAUTHAMMER: She traveled a lot.
KRAUTHAMMER: Well, so do I.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: All right. Well, I can pose it to a "Politico" reporter and to
O`DONNELL: Tell me what she accomplished as secretary of state.
Jonathan, go ahead.
ALLEN: Look, I think there were some smaller accomplishments, certainly
opening things up in Burma, if you look at the Iran sanctions she worked on
as secretary of state. They`re now obviously opening up a door to possible
negotiations with Iran, a new START Treaty with Russia.
There are different some things at the margins, certainly not a Middle East
peace deal. Of course, anybody who struck a Middle East peace deal in the
past has seen it fall apart, maybe not when they were secretary but at some
But I think that is the major criticism of her tenure, is that there isn`t
a sort of a marquee peace deal, anything like the Balkans Accord or
anything like a Middle East deal for her to hang her hat on, and that`s
something she`s going to have to talk about on the campaign trail.
O`DONNELL: Richard, Republicans are saying, look, she was overestimated as
a candidate the first time she ran and she got knocked off by the new guy
and she`s being overestimated again.
WOLFFE: Can I just pick up on this question? You know, the gang that
brought us the war in Iraq and America`s being, you know, this loath
superpower in the world -- you know, recovering from that was no small
diplomatic feat. And, OK, you don`t have a date in peace accords but
cleaning that mess up was a monumental effort. It`s easy to for us to say
now, oh, you know, well, that was obvious. Anyone can do that.
How come over eight years of the Bush administration, Krauthammer cheering
them on, they never managed to do that basic diplomacy. I don`t know. I
think that`s an achievement, even if you don`t have a peace treaty at the
end of it.
O`DONNELL: Richard Wolffe and Jonathan Allen, answer the big question that
apparently no one can answer for Charles Krauthammer. Thank you both for
ALLEN: Thank you, Lawrence.
WOLFFE: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: We are expecting a news conference from that Florida
congressman who pleaded guilty to cocaine possession, that should happen
within this hour.
And we have more video tonight of the New Mexico state police shooting that
is a clear violation of that department`s own rule on the use of deadly
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIPS)
CONAN O`BRIEN, COMEDIAN: Rob Ford, the crack-smoking mayor of Toronto --
ROB FORD, TORONTO MAYOR: This, folks, reminds me of when Saddam attacked
BILL MAHER, TV HOST: He should stick with the crack and not with the
JON STEWART, COMEDIAN: Saddam Hussein attacking Kuwait -- the reference
may be dated but in Rob Ford`s defense, it may be one of the last things he
JAY LENO, COMEDIAN: This is God`s gift to comedy this guy. I love this
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
O`DONNELL: Oh, it is fun to make fun of Rob Ford and it is easy, it is
So, you can imagine my horror and I received an e-mail from a friend of the
show, David Schepp (ph), who reminded me that I was missing the important
lesson in the Rob Ford story. David attached a piece he had just written
for Time.com which I offer as a rewrite of my coverage of the Rob Ford
"Ridiculing Ford is easy. What`s harder is to look at his destructive
behavior to stop attributing it to him being out of control. Instead, look
at the cause, addicts actions defy all logic but are explained by the
impact of drugs on the human brain and the fact that not all brains react
the same way. Addicts` brains become hijacked by drugs, brain regions
associated with judgment, cognition, restraint and moderation are as good
as dismantled, causing impulsivity and unrestrained desired for pleasure
and cloudy thinking to dominate.
In the meantime, the addicted brain deprived of a healthy amount of the
essential neurotransmitter dopamine intensely craves drugs. Addicts
described have a need for drugs that feels like the need for oxygen,
deprived of it, humans would kick, scratch and claw for a breath of air.
Because of a broken dopamine system, addicts can feel as if they`re
fighting for their lives and they may be. They`ll lie, cheat and steal for
more, even while their actions become more and more reprehensible.
When I first heard Ford described as the crack-smoking mayor I chuckled but
then I thought about the reality of smoking crack. When as a teenager my
son became addicted to many drugs including methamphetamine and heroin he
also used crack. I initially thought he was just a selfish, hedonist
teenager choosing to party no matter the hurt he caused. But eventually I
learned that he wasn`t having a good time. He was in pain and using drugs
in spite of a desire to stop.
In the past few days, Ford has seemed crazier in the successive press
conferences as the Toronto City Council stripped the mayor of most of his
power he remained defiant refusing to step down and attacking his
attackers, declaring an outright war.
In his current state Ford is unfit to be running a city but what he needs
isn`t censure, nor does he need to be the brunt of our snickering. He
Republican congressman from Florida, Trey Radel, seems to know he needs
treatment after he pleaded guilty today in Washington, D.C. to possession
of cocaine. Congressman Radel told the court -- we`re going to his press
conference right now.
REP. TREY RADEL (R), FLORIDA: I`m sorry. I have no excuse for what I`ve
done. And I`m not going to sit here and try and make any excuses for what
I`ve done. I have let down our country. I`ve let down our constituents.
I`ve let down my family. Including my wife, and even though he doesn`t
know it, I`ve let down my 2-year-old son.
I`m here tonight to take responsibility for what I did. To be held
accountable for the bad decisions that I made in my life and to own up to
my actions. I have been getting the help that I need and I will continue
to get the help that I need, and the support system that I need for years
I`m doing so because I want to be a better man. I want to be a better man
for you. I want to be a better man for southwest Florida, and most
importantly I want to be a better man for my family, my dad, my mother-in-
law, my father-in-law, my wife, and my little guy.
I will be taking a leave of absence. During that time I`m going to donate
my salary to a charity.
I believe in faith. I believe in forgiveness and redemption. And I hope
if there`s anything positive that can come out of this, and I know there
will be positive that comes out of this, it`s that I hope that I can be a
role model for millions of others that are struggling with this disease.
I would ask for your prayers. And I don`t ask for prayers for me. I ask
for your prayers for my family. That`s what`s most important. It`s what
I`m focused on, my recovery, my health, and my family.
On a very personal note, you know, I feel like I`ve grown up really in the
public eye here in southwest Florida, from my time of working as a
reporter, building up a business, hosting a radio show, and following the
terrible and tragic death of my mother, I remember it like yesterday.
There was a group of people that came up to me and they were giving their
condolences and they said, Trey, we are so sorry to hear about the passing
of your mother, and the terrible situation around it.
But you`ve been with us for so long, we want you to know that we`re here
for you. You are southwest Florida`s adopted son. And that is something
that has stuck with me after all of these years. And I hope, like family,
southwest Florida can forgive me for this. I`ve let them down. But I do
believe in faith, forgiveness and redemption and I hope to come out of this
a stronger man, a better man, for all of you.
Thank you so much for being here because it is important that I share the
message of responsibility. With that said, I am always open to talking
with you and taking questions.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Congressman, why --
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How do you (INAUDIBLE) to gain the trust of
southwest Floridians again and assure them that you are going to go to work
for them 100 percent?
RADEL: That`s what I`m doing here tonight. I`m owning up to my actions.
I am taking responsibility and I`m living it very publicly. I`m being held
accountable for the decisions that I made in my life and I am -- I have
found treatment and I`m working on treatment and like anything in life I
have to rebuild that trust and I fully understand that and I will do that.
I have to rebuild the trust with southwest Florida, with the constituents,
with this home that I love so much and means so much to me. And I also
need to do it for my family, for my wife and for my son.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And we have to ask.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: We haven`t seen your wife.
RADEL: Sure. Sure.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Why hasn`t see been with you in court or with you
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I know it`s hard for her but where is she? Why
RADEL: My wife is at home with my son tonight and I will tell you that
there`s nothing more than I want right now to go home and hug my wife and
my little guy, and I`m going to be doing that very soon.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are you going to rehab from here or --
RADEL: Yes. I have -- so with respect to my wife, she has been
incredible. My wife is my rock and she has been so supportive through
this, and I came to her and I told her what had happened, and she said, "I
married you in -- to be with you and stick with you in good times and bad,"
and she has been incredible.
I do have trust to rebuild and I have to mend her heart, which I`ve broken,
and I`ve broken a lot of hearts, and I need to regain that trust and
rebuild our relationship, but she has stuck with me and will continue to
stick with me, and I`m just so proud to have my wife. She is my rock
through all of this.
RADEL: With regard to the treatment, I will be going in to treatment and
I`m going to start with intensive inpatient treatment. That`s what`s next
for me. I have already begun the process. I -- look, sometimes in life
you need a wake-up call. This is my wake-up call. I`ve been struggling
with this, but I have had my wake-up call and I now know what I need.
I need to take responsibility, own up to the decisions that I`ve made, and
move forward, and I`m doing just that. I`m getting the help I need and
from there, I will work on rebuilding the trust that I have with southwest
And I hate the word constituents. What this is about is my friends, my
family, and my neighbors, and each and every one of you.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You were on the floor voting the day this happened.
You were on the floor voting --
RADEL: Once again, once again with resignation I`m taking a leave of
absence. I`m taking a leave of absence.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Who gets to represent us in the time of your leave
RADEL: Sure. I will be taking a leave of absence in all offices. This
team that I have in Washington and here in southwest Florida will be
working every single day, like they have been for this past year, for you.
They`re working hard. They`re here to serve the people and they will
continue to do so. I will take a leave of absence, taking the
responsibility that I need to own up to what I need to do, to get well, and
come out of this as a better man.
I`m struggling with this disease but I can overcome it. And I know that I
can be a role model for millions of people struggling with this.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: If you want to regain the trust why didn`t you just
RADEL: Sure. I knew that I -- in keeping with everything that I`ve done,
I believe in accountability and I believe in transparency. That`s what I`m
doing here tonight and I knew that this day would come. I knew it would
come. I had had to be accountable and responsible and open with my wife,
and all of my family.
I`m here tonight being open and accountable with the people of southwest
Florida and quite frankly the country. With the delay, that was just a
matter of counsel, they came to a resolution and here we are tonight.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You were on the floor voting --
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How do you expect to be a qualified lawmaker --
RADEL: Sure. It`s been -- I`ve been dealing with this off and on for
years. The most important thing is to rely on professionals. That`s what
professionals do. They guide you through treatment.
Look, again, in a moment of just a personal thing to share, I grew up with
a mom who struggled with alcoholism. It is not an easy thing to deal with.
Now I don`t want my son to go through that. What you do, in anything in
life, you go to people who you know you can put your life in their hands to
get the proper treatment and help that you need and the first thing that I
need to do tonight is go to begin to mend that trust and relationship with
my wife, who is with me, will continue to stand with me, who I love, who is
I`m going to hug my little guy, even if he`s asleep tonight, and I`m going
to work to do everything I can to be strong, to come out as a better man,
serving southwest Florida, serving our country, and doing what`s right for
my health, my recovery, and our family here in southwest Florida.
O`DONNELL: That Was Congressman Trey Radel on a live news conference in
his district in southwest Florida, where he began by saying simply, "I`m
sorry." He then said, "I have no excuse for what I`ve done." This is
after pleading guilty and being convicted today in Washington, D.C., of
possession of cocaine.
He said he was here tonight to take -- I`m here tonight to take
responsibility for what I`ve done. Said, I want to be a better man.
He announced that he`s going to take a leave of absence so that he can
submit himself to intensive -- what he called, quote, "intensive inpatient
treatment." He did say, I have been struggling with this. He said in
present tense, I`m struggling with this disease. Toward the end when he
was asked how long he`s been dealing with this, he said, I`ve been dealing
with this off and on for years.
Joining me now is Hunter Walker, national affairs reporter for "Talking
Points Memo," and Ryan Grimm, bureau chief of the "Huffington Post" and
MSNBC political analyst.
Hunter Walker, this is an extraordinary press conference. I heard just as
he was walking out the door, the phrase "food stamps" from someone who was
trying to ask him about his vote in the House of Representatives in favor
of drug testing for food stamp recipients and food stamp applicants.
That is the one question I would have had for him tonight. Do you regret
voting in favor of that?
HUNTER WALKER, TALKING POINTS MEMO: Absolutely. I mean, you know, he`s
sort of from the libertarian wing of the Tea Party and as a member of that
sort of segment of the conservatives, he has supported -- he even
cosponsored a bill to lower mandatory minimum sentences. So in that regard
he`s sort of pro-drug reform.
But he -- as you said, just was supporting this legislation to support drug
tests for people who need food stamps. So by his own sort of political
beliefs he wouldn`t have been able to get food if he was needy and had this
problem that he said he`s struggles.
O`DONNELL: Ryan Grim, there`s an interesting sequence here. He voted for
the food -- the testing, drug testing for food stamp applicants and
recipients in July. It was on September 19th when he decided to co-sponsor
an obscure bill in the House of Representatives that only has 17 cosponsors
which Hunter just mentioned that reduces mandatory minimum sentences in
drug cases that actually would allow judge`s discretion to go below the
Now September 19th when he did that -- 17th, I`m sorry, September 17th,
when he did that, by everything we know tonight he was clearly in the
throes of his cocaine problem and you could see that vote as an unusual
alliance with Democratic liberals. It`s 14 Democratic liberals
cosponsoring this bill and three Republicans, and one of the Republicans
cosponsoring it had a cocaine problem at the time, and as he said tonight,
"I knew this day would come."
Meaning he knew at some point he was going to get caught and did -- was
that what he was thinking that he would someday be standing in a court
possibly facing mandatory minimum sentences and that`s why he co-sponsored
that bill? ?
RYAN GRIM, WASHINGTON POST: No, I don`t -- I don`t think so. You know,
like Hunter said he does come from kind of the libertarian wing and he has
kind of liberal kind of social views. He -- you know, as he mentioned he
was a reporter coming up. You know, he was -- he`s never really been one
of these kind of evangelical Tea Party extremist. So that actually is more
in line with his vote on food stamps.
I think the vote on food stamps was probably that he didn`t want to -- he
didn`t want to draw attention to himself. I mean, if you`re a -- you know,
coke using Republican congressman, you probably don`t want to break with
your party on the floor on a bill like that. You might draw attention to
But I think, you know, the lower profile thing of the mandatory minimum,
you know, fits more with his politics and you know it might sound strange
to say but I think, you know, it`s a good thing to have people in Congress
who have experience with drug use because they are writing laws for people
who use drugs. So, you know, I think it`s actually appropriate, you know -
- you know, to have people who understand, you know, what it`s like.
I don`t think they should be addicted while they`re doing it but if he
recovers from I think he`d -- he`ll be a much wiser lawmaker going forward.
O`DONNELL: He can only demonstrate that he is wiser by renouncing his vote
on the food stamp --
O`DONNELL: Drug testing for food stamp recipients and applicants.
We`re joined now by Luke Russert, NBC News congressional correspondent.
Luke, what has been the reaction today among the Republican leadership in
LUKE RUSSERT, NBC NEWS CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Republican
leadership, specifically John Boehner, is really informed of Congressman
Radel`s arrest on Tuesday. In fact, it was something that had not really
been playing through the leadership ranks and that wrangled some of them.
Interestingly enough, Lawrence, as I`m sure you`ll recall when John Boehner
took the speaker`s gavel, one of his main promises is that House
Republicans would act in good -- in a good manner and carry themselves in
high -- in high regard and have good personal conduct.
They all remember the name Mark Foley quite (INAUDIBLE), obviously a
different case than this but they attribute that to why they lost the
majority back in 2006.
Interestingly enough a report of the ""Cincinnati Enquirer" which quotes
Trey Radel`s father who`s from the area as saying that the leadership does
not want his son to resign. That they are comfortable with him taking this
leave of absence, so if we take Trey Radel`s father at his word, apparently
the leadership is OK with this.
The last time there was a similar incident and a congressman from western
New York by the name of Chris Lee sent a topless photo of himself to a
Craigslist individual, or rather an individual over Craigslist, the
leadership got him out literally the day that broke so they seem to have
some more leniency here and believe that this probably will not hurt them
But I will say they were on a pretty good tear regarding the president`s
health care law and for two days Trey Radel, and who was an unknown
congressman to the rest of the country, has been the talk of Washington and
on the national newscast, and taken away from their message of carrying the
president on his health care law.
So if this continues, maybe they would change their tune but so far they
seem to be comfortable with this plan, so much as they let him announce on
a live tonight.
O`DONNELL: Well, Anthony Weiner was hounded out of office by Democrats,
people in his leadership, for an awful lot less than what Trey Radel
pleaded guilty to in court today.
Ryan Grim, Luke Russert and Hunter Walker, thank you all very much for
joining me during this breaking news event.
We have more video tonight of the New Mexico State Police shooting, that
shooting is a clear violation of that department`s own rule on the use of
O`DONNELL: We have more of that video of that New Mexico police shooting,
that extraordinary video you`ve seen this week. There`s a little more to
it we`re going to be showing you next. And we have a police trainer who`s
already using it in his classes about -- as a lesson of how you should not
use a firearm in police work. That`s next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Open the door.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Open the door.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was New Mexico State Police Officer Elias Montoya,
violating his own police department`s rule on the use of deadly force.
We have a more complete version of the police video of that shooting
incident now. It started when Officer Tony DeTavis stopped Oriana Farrell,
a 39-year-old mother of five for driving 71 miles an hour in a 55-mile-an-
hour zone near Taos, New Mexico, where I have driven and where no one
observes the 55-mile-an-hour speed limit.
After she was first pulled over, Oriana Farrell decided to drive off
apparently before Officer DeTavis issued a ticket. Officer DeTavis pursued
the minivan again and Oriana Farrell pulled over again.
You will see what happened next on raw footage of the New Mexico State
Police dash cam video obtained by the Associated Press. In this version of
the video we see not just two but three of Miss Farrell`s children got out
of the van to try to help her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out of the vehicle. Get out of the vehicle right
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sir, just give us a --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out of the vehicle right now. Get out of the
vehicle right now. Get out of the vehicle.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Turn around and face your vehicle. Ma`am, listen to
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please, don`t -- please. You said you would not --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please, please.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get back.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get in the car. Get in the car.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please. Please. Sir, sir, please.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get back, get back.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get on the ground. Get on the ground. Get on the
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get on the ground.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get out of the car. Get out. Get out right now. Get
out. Open the door.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Open the door.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now is former New York City Police Officer Eugene
O`Donnell, professor of law and police study at John J College of Criminal
Justice. He`s a former law enforcement trainer.
Eugene, just from what you see, what is wrong with that shooting?
EUGENE O`DONNELL, FORMER NYPD OFFICER: Well, up until the point where
there`s a shooting there`s ambiguity and some issues that you would
typically see in a police car stop. There`s unpredictability. But the
clear line that`s drawn here, the agency draws the line typically American
police forces draw the line, deadly force on a vehicle that`s ultimately
ends up driving away is completely inappropriate.
O`DONNELL: And the Supreme Court ruled a long time ago that it is
unconstitutional to shoot fleeing felony suspects, always improper to try
to shoot at fleeing misdemeanor suspects. But in some states they even
allowed that years ago.
People believe that when someone tries to flee from police the police have
every right to shoot them. Now that -- what their rule in New Mexico says
is they have a right to protect their own lives and the lives of others
from what is reasonably believed to be an eminent threat of death or great
I saw no threat to anyone as that car is driving away, I don`t see a threat
E. O`DONNELL: Firearms are a defensive weapon in the event that you or
somebody else -- your life is in danger. But when somebody is leaving the
scene of an incident trying to fire at the vehicle makes no sense at all.
The officer said he was firing at the tires, perhaps even a Marine sniper
would have difficulty hitting those -- hitting tires.
E. O`DONNELL: So that rationale is --
O`DONNELL: And that fire at the tire story is frequently a convenient
adjustment made after the fact when the guy realizes that oh, made a big
mistake, I wasn`t allowed to fire.
E. O`DONNELL: I`m not aware of any agency that tells officers to fire at
O`DONNELL: They specifically tell them not to.
E. O`DONNELL: They tell them not to fire at -- at vehicles under any
O`DONNELL: Yes. They -- I mean, the New Mexico State Police deadly force
rule is a pretty standard deadly force rule throughout the country, it`s
one of the model versions. And they say decisions to discharge a firearm
at or from a moving vehicle shall be governed by the use of force policy
and are prohibited if they represent an unreasonable risk to the officer or
The risk to others there is very clear. There`s five kids in that car and
a mother that those shots were a risk. Correct.
E. O`DONNELL: You`re going to be seeing officers that kind of jumping out
of the way, because once a gun is taken out and bullets are flying, there`s
no predictability with those bullets.
O`DONNELL: Right. And of course most police bullets fired in the line of
duty miss what they`re aiming at to begin with.
E. O`DONNELL: Right. It`s estimated New York City Police hit about --
they miss about 80 percent of the time.
O`DONNELL: And these are the best trained firearms users in the country.
The New York City Police.
E. O`DONNELL: Well, they`re well trained and they`re firing at people.
They`re firing at a weapon -- a vehicle that`s going away from you trying
to hit the tires is not advised by any police department I`m aware of.
O`DONNELL: Yes. The other concept here is this is someone who, in the
worst-case scenario has violated a traffic law. There`s also a possible
resistance of arrest charge there, there`s an interference with arrest
charge for this 14-year-old boy, that sort of thing. None of those things
get the death penalty, if they go to court, and have a trial, and are found
guilty of those things.
And here is an officer who is, in effect, raising the possibility of the
death penalty right there on the street.
E. O`DONNELL: Right. And that`s why there`s a rule like that.
E. O`DONNELL: As you say it`s a standard rule. That`s a typical rule that
is. Police work is a lot of ambiguity. This is not -- this is not
ambiguous. You cannot fire at a moving vehicle, certainly a vehicle that`s
going away after what may be at most a misdemeanor, maybe a minor felony.
You can`t be firing at somebody driving away from that. That`s pretty
O`DONNELL: And she ultimately ended up, you know, driving down the road
into town and stopping at a hotel, which is what most people who the police
are pursuing do, most of them stop.
E. O`DONNELL: In fairness to the police they raised up this red flag up.
O`DONNELL: Yes. Yes. Absolutely.
E. O`DONNELL: Up until the point where the guns come out because you`re
thinking why is this person not complying, so in fairness to the police, up
until that point, but as you say the rule is very clear in New Mexico and
beyond that you cannot fire a weapon at somebody under these circumstances.
O`DONNELL: And what training is all about is dealing with all those normal
-- I grant everything I`m seeing there is a normal human emotion, it`s
within the range of normal human behavior including the anger, including
the rage, including the firing the gun, but training is all about rising
above normal human behavior in those situations.
E. O`DONNELL: Right. And again, a typical -- typically police works all
over the place. But there`s certain rules you can absolutely say.
E. O`DONNELL: And this is a rule that you can --
O`DONNELL: The firearms rule is real clear. Yes. Eugene O`Donnell --
O`DONNELL: Thank you very much for joining us tonight.
E. O`DONNELL: My pleasure.
O`DONNELL: Appreciate it.
Chris Hayes is up next.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC ANCHOR: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes,
and this evening, just a few hours ago the Senate came to another one of
its truly embarrassing avoidable standoffs. And it happened even though
Democrats and Republicans had previously agreed on how to proceed on
competing legislation. Legislation over one of the biggest issues facing
our country today.
Here is what happened. The one big thing the Senate needs to do before the
Thanksgiving break is pass the National Defense Authorization Act, the
Defense Bill. And this year, that bill is the terrain of one of the most
interesting David and Goliath battles on all of Capitol Hill.
We`ve been covering here on All IN the shocking statistics of military
<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.>
MORE FROM MSNBC
Add msnbc headlines to your news reader: