updated 2/27/2014 12:38:28 PM ET 2014-02-27T17:38:28

THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
February 26, 2014

Guests: Demion Clinco, Luther Lowe, Dustin Lance Black, Alfred Doblin;
David Rohde

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Arizona Governor Jan Brewer said she
would do the right thing for Arizona. And this time, she did.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GOV. JAN BREWER (R), ARIZONA: After weighing all of the arguments, I
have vetoed Senate Bill 1062 moments ago.

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Governor Jan Brewer has vetoed the most
controversial bill in the country.

BREWER: I took the necessary time to make the right decision.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The increasing pressure on Arizona Governor Jan
Brewer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The growing pressure on that state`s governor.

BREWER: Senate Bill 1062.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The state`s controversial religious freedom
bill.

BREWER: It does not address a specific or present concern.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re cloaking bigotry, per se, in the name of
God.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is an easy thing for Republicans to walk away
from.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A growing list of companies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It can boil down into a simple business argument.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Apple, Intel, Yelp, AT&T and PetSmart have all
come out against this bill.

BREWER: Our society is undergoing many dramatic changes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have to reach out and tell our stories. It`s
the only way we can break down the myths and the lies and the stereotypes
that have been told for generations.

BREWER: After weighing all of the arguments, I have vetoed Senate
Bill 1062 moments ago.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: Just before midnight East Coast Time last night, Arizona
Governor Jan Brewer tweeted this, "I assure you, as always, I will do the
right thing for the state of Arizona." Tonight, she did.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BREWER: Senate Bill 1062 does not address a specific or present
concern related to religious liberty in Arizona. I have not heard of one
example in Arizona where a business owner`s religious liberty has been
violated. The bill is broadly worded and could result in unintended and
negative consequences. After weighing all of the arguments, I have vetoed
Senate Bill 1062 moments ago.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Jan Brewer then she spoke directly to some in her
disappointed base.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BREWER: To the supporters of this legislation, I want you to know
that I understand that long-held norms about marriage and family are being
challenged as never before. Our society is undergoing many dramatic
changes. However, I sincerely believe that Senate Bill 1062 has the
potential to create more problems than it purports to solve. It could
divide Arizona in ways we could not even imagine and no one would ever
want.

Religious liberty is a core American and Arizona value. So is
nondiscrimination. Going forward, let`s turn the ugliness of the debate
over Senate Bill 1062 into a renewed search for greater respect and
understanding among all Arizonians and Americans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Arizona`s Senior Senator Republican John McCain who
supported a veto of the bill released this statement tonight. "I
appreciate the decision made by Governor Brewer to veto this legislation.
I hope that we can now move on from this controversy and assure the
American people that everyone is welcome to live, work and enjoy our
beautiful state of Arizona."

Joining me now, Demion Clinco, Arizona`s only openly gay state
representative. Luther Lowe, the director of public policy for Yelp, one
of the companies that urged Governor Brewer to veto the bill, and Oscar-
winning screenwriter and LGBT activist Dustin Lance Black.

Demion Clinco, I hesitate to introduce you that way as the only openly
gay legislator in Arizona. It`s not the label that you want, as you`ve
said, associated with you immediately when people think of you. And you
normally don`t make any public reference to it at all.

But this was one of those cases where you felt you had to bring your
personal experience into a debate where, I guess it felt for you like
simple reason and references to the constitution were not enough.

STATE REP. DEMION CLINCO (D), ARIZONA: You`re absolutely right. I
feel that, you know, talking about my sexuality on this platform really
gave an opportunity to put a face to an issue. You know, what I -- this
whole debate, you know, I really hope that Arizonians, foremost have woken
up and they`ll start to pay attention to the toxic legislation that moves
through our House and through our Senate on a regular basis.

O`DONNELL: Luther Lowe, you`re with Yelp. What was this decision
like at the corporate level to come out publicly and say, we want this bill
vetoed? What kind of meetings did you have to have? How many people
needed to be collected within the company around this issue?

LUTHER LOWE, YELP: Sure, Lawrence. Well, you know, this moved very
quickly through the House and Senate and Arizona. And we`re alerted to it
frankly late last week by some of our concerned employees within Scottsdale
where we have a huge office, about 650 employees and growing, about a third
of our corporate employees globally.

And by Friday evening, we decided to circulate an e-mail with the
executive team. And our CEO felt passionately about it. By Monday
evening, we had a draft of a letter that he put up on our blog on Tuesday
morning, a letter to Governor Brewer, imploring her to veto 1062.

O`DONNELL: You could have -- Yelp is a company, could have sat this
one out. No one would have missed you. There`s Delta Airlines in there,
there`s a Marriott Corporation, a lot of other corporations in there. You
could have sat back.

Why get in?

LOWE: You know, just the core issues of 1062 and the fact that to it
was effectively legalizing discrimination in our state and Arizona where so
many of our employees lived and worked. And we really love Scottsdale. It
made it just unconscionable.

We decided, you know, this is -- this is something that we really
can`t sit on the sidelines over. And so that`s why we decided to act. And
of course, you know, we only played a small part. It was heartening to see
other companies step forward and stand shoulder to shoulder with us.

But, you know, we`re thankful to Governor Brewer for not letting this
terrible legislation pass in Arizona.

O`DONNELL: Dustin Lance Black, set this for us within the history of
the march for gay rights in this country. I`m not sure we`ve seen anything
quite like this where there`s a governmental move against gay rights and
there`s an uprising, I think like we`ve never seen before, because it
included such powerful players in corporate America.

DUSTIN LANCE BLACK, FILMMAKER: Yes, we are starting to see much more
of corporate America start to back diversity, and that diversity now
including gay and lesbian people. We saw that in Prop 8 case and the
amicus briefs that were filed there. We saw that again today.

I think corporations, businesses are saying, hey, when you have more
diversity in the room, you get more creative ideas, and more creative ideas
are beneficial to these companies and they`re beneficial to America.
Couching in this in history, we`ve seen this group of people, these sort of
people who are against equality first pose as advocates of psychiatry and
saying, hey, you know, this should be a mental illness. That was back in
the `70s, and they lost that battle. And then they pretended to advocate
for children and saying that somehow gay and lesbian people hurt kids.
Science proves that wrong.

Then they went for the Constitution and tried to amend it. Now the
Supreme Court isn`t on their side at all. That`s clear.

So, they`re going back to their stand by and standing behind God. The
problem now is corporations like Marriott, which is Mormon-owned or Mitt
Romney who grew up in the same church I did, religious people are coming
out saying, no way, you have to veto this.

And it is unmasking these people, not as people of God, but as
homophobes for what they truly, truly are.

O`DONNELL: Demion Clinco, a week ago, we were not covering this story
yet. You were going through what was the legislative defeat on this bill
in the legislature there. It must have felt kind of lonely while you guys
were fighting and losing this fight in the legislature.

CLINCO: It certainly did. You know, to sit through a process and
watch discrimination be passed through a body of government, to justify, to
discriminate against any minority group anywhere in our country,
particularly in our own state is incredibly disappointing. And it did feel
very, very lonely.

You know, it`s incredible the outpouring of support from across this
country, from corporations and businesses and individuals. But it`s a real
shame that we were even in this point. In 2014, decades after the civil
rights movement in our country, here we are talking about discrimination.
And it`s -- and legalizing it and sanctioning it in one of our states.

It`s really -- it`s very disappointing that we`re even in this debate
now.

O`DONNELL: Luther Lowe, there was a lot of money at stake for the
businesses involved here, especially if the Super Bowl had to relocate.
And the indications were they were probably going to relocate the Super
Bowl if this thing passed. Some of the corporations involved, the hotel
corporations, the airline corporations, obvious financial incentives for
them.

For you, it`s a little bit more indirect at Yelp. You do do a lot of
restaurant recommendations, kinds of things -- tourists use Yelp a lot
inform a lot of different ways.

If we take away the financial incentive that Yelp and other
corporations had to see this bill vetoed, would we have seen the same kind
of outpouring of corporate conscience?

LOWE: You know, I think for yelp it was a little bit different
because we`re part of the technology industry and I feel like a lot of the
technology companies, like Apple and Intel, who also came out, you
associate them with being a little bit more progressive.

I think it was a combination of factors. I think that the fact that
SB-1062 was not aligned with our values and the values of really anybody,
many people I could find after we announced our opposition to it.

But also -- I mean, we did have skin in the game. We got over 615
employees. We told Governor Brewer that we hoped to add hundreds more
within Scottsdale. You know, it`s going to be our second largest office.

And we love Scottsdale and we want to stay there. And so, we`re
thankful that she chose to veto this bill.

O`DONNELL: Lance, what do you take from this? First this devastating
legislative defeat, which was a real setback and ignoring of the
Constitution in the process. And then, this rise of allies that you kind
of -- you didn`t know were there. I mean, I don`t think you would have
thought -- you wouldn`t bet a week ago the Marriott Corporation would step
up this way or Mitt Romney would step on this.

Does it feel -- there`s got to be a mix of emotions about what this
feels like?

BLACK: It feels pretty good, Lawrence, I`ll be honest. It`s really a
testament, I`ve got to say, to people like Representative Clinco who is
coming out and all of a sudden, I think most people -- in fact, I`m sure
most people in this country now know that they know someone who is gay or
lesbian. Someone they work with, a family member, a neighbor.

And so, they see these bills and they have a real face to who`s going
to be hurt. And I think those are people who work in corporations. Those
are people who work out there in the United States.

And so, that`s why we`re seeing this uprising of allies saying, no
way, you`re not going to do that to my neighbor, you`re not going to do
that to my kid. And I really hope, because this legislation is not, you
know, unique to Arizona.

There are other states that are trying to pass this. I hope they look
at Arizona. I hope they look to who the new allies of equality are, and I
can`t believe I`m going to say this, but I really hope they follow the lead
of Governor Brewer.

O`DONNELL: The lead of Governor Brewer, the lead Mitt Romney on this.

Demion Clinco, what Lance just said about other states is very, very
important. What would you say to legislators in other states who are
considering this legislation? You had Republicans who voted for it and
then said they regret it, they wish they hadn`t. Would you suggest to
these supporters of these kinds of legislation in other states that they
could end up in a very similar situation to what happened to those three
Republicans in your legislation?

CLINCO: I mean, the message is really clear, that the discrimination
against LGBT communities in this state or anywhere else in this country
unacceptable. And corporate America has stood up, and partners and friends
from around the world has stood up and said this is not acceptable in 2014,
anywhere in this country.

And so, it`s really reassuring and refreshing. And it gives me a
sense of optimism for the future of this issue.

O`DONNELL: State Representative Demion Clinco, it`s only appropriate
that you get the last word in this segment tonight. Thank you very much,
Demion, for joining us throughout this story as we` been following it.

And Yelp policy director Luther Lowe and Dustin Lance Black, friend of
the show -- thank you for coming back in tonight, Lance. Thank you very
much for joining us. Thank you.

BLACK: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Arizona, as Lance said, was not the only state considering
such a law. Coming up, the next battleground for these so-called religious
expression bills.

And later, Chris Christie was forced to take on some questions tonight
about the bridge scandal on a radio program in New Jersey and big surprise,
he contradicted himself once again.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BREWER: I give great concern and careful evaluation and deliberate
consideration and especially to Senate Bill 1062. I call them like I see
them, despite the cheers or the boos from the crowd. I took the necessary
time to make the right decision.

As governor, I have asked questions and I have listened. I have
protected religious freedoms when there is a specific and present concern
that exists in our state. And I have the record to prove it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Even as Governor Jan Brewer is trying to put SB-1062
behind the times in Arizona, other states are currently considering similar
legislation including Georgia, Mississippi and Utah.

Joining me now, Richard Wolffe, the executive editor of MSNBC.com, and
Josh Barro, an MSNBC contributor.

Richard, the politics for this for Governor Brewer, you could almost
read between the lines of that statement very, very well, carefully written
statement that included a careful message to Brewer`s hard core supporters
who would support this kind of legislation.

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC.COM: Sure. Arizona is a state in flux. It`s
not a coincidence that in `08 and `12, the Obama campaigns in those years
looked very closely at the end about putting extra money in because they
thought Arizona might be just gettable. Is Arizona more like Utah or is it
more like New Mexico? It`s a country in flux and this is a state in flux.

She`s trying to bridge both of these things. She`s not the world`s
most skillful politician, but actually she was quite artful tonight.

And I think there is some part of the Arizona political brain here
that`s working overtime saying, how can I bridge this divide? This isn`t
the Deep South. It`s not like my state is moving and the country is moving
in a different direction. Arizona is moving where the rest of the country
is. How can you keep the old political blocs together?

She wrestled with that in public today.

O`DONNELL: Josh Barro, we have seen Republican-controlled
legislations around the country seeming to work from the same playbook on
voting rights issues, on cracking down on public employee labor unions,
that sort of thing.

Is this one of those? What`s happening in other states on this kind
of legislation?

JOSH BARRO, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think what we`re going so see
is people learning from this Arizona experience. I think what you saw a
real national push in the Republican Party to try to kill this move.

What Republicans were really afraid of was that in the case of
Arizona, opponents would bring a ballot initiative and have a fight in
November over repealing this law. It would energize Democratic voters. It
would bring money in the state, possibly jeopardize the Republicans holding
on to the governorship in the election this year.

I think Republicans in other states will look at this similarly
saying, we don`t want to draw attention to ourselves. There`s no upside in
this, as we saw from Arizona.

So I think you have these bills pending in state legislatures, but I
do think governments learn from each other in state to state governments.
And what they`re learning here is that this is fight they don`t feel like
picking.

O`DONNELL: Andrea Mitchell had a very important live interview with
secretary of state today in her hour. And she had a lot of important
ground to cover, from Ukraine, to Syria. And this came up today. Let`s
listen to how it came up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Does it undercut our moral posture,
telling Uganda and other countries, Putin for instance, human rights abuses
against people for reasons of their sexuality when one of our states is
about to do this -- unless, it`s vetoed by the governor?

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, let`s see whether the governor
vetoes it. I`m counting on the governor. I cannot imagine how that law
would withstand the scrutiny of the Supreme Court of the United States.
So, I would hope that, you know, she`ll make the right decision.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Well, the governor did stop it, as of tonight.

But Andrea has got a real good point. We heard Putin and other
Russian officials miss -- completely get it wrong about what`s going on in
this country on these kinds of things. But they`re using these little
germs like this and turning them into something that isn`t there because
Republican legislatures are giving them these kinds of things.

WOLFFE: We are. It`s a big country. And there are lots of different
pieces, that maybe people who are more skeptical or even opposing America`s
interest around the world can cherry pick what they want.

Having said that, just take Western Europe. America is way out ahead
of even countries that might be considered more forward leaning and
progressive, at least socially. You have Spain, a Catholic conservative
country voting for same-sex marriage, ahead of the U.K., which might
consider itself more international.

These are unpredictable flows in social culture and change. And
America is way out ahead of many other countries that would like to think
of themselves as very contemporary. Russia could do what it likes. We`re
not talking about the religious conflicts that are playing out in Uganda
politics and African politics in general.

There`s a lot to be proud of in what this country has done for equal
rights specifically around same-sex and LGBT issues. Yes, there are parts
of the country that still have a journey to travel, but I don`t think John
Kerry is going to have difficulty in explaining America`s position when it
comes to equal rights.

O`DONNELL: Josh Barro, these things get pushed in the Republican
legislatures by the Ted Cruz wing of Republicanism, which is number one, we
don`t care about the party. Number two, we just want to cast this vote.
We don`t care. We would like to win, but if we don`t win, it`s important
for us to cast this vote saying we want this.

How are they -- how is anyone going to be able to suppress that in the
Republican legislatures?

BARRO: Well, I think it`s happened in Arizona right now. I think
you`re seeing in Ohio, the bill that was proposed has been withdrawn by its
sponsors. There are certain things that have tremendous grassroots energy
behind them on the right. Where there`s resistance, when you have elite
forces like you saw here -- business groups, certain national politicians
like Mitt Romney trying to push the party to the center on this issue. In
some cases you get a lot of pushback.

You didn`t really see that here. I think that actually is not a hobby
horde --

O`DONNELL: Yes, that`s a good point.

BARRO: -- that the party is going to cling to. And I think there`s a
real distinction to be drawn in Arizona. People look at this and they look
at SB-1070, the very tough anti-immigration bill that Governor Brewer
signed a few years ago and sort of say, well, why did she veto this and
sign that and side with her base there?

The difference is that SB-1070 was and is popular in Arizona. That
was a shrewd political move by her. I actually think she`s been a real
survivor, made a lot of very smart political choices and held on to a
governorship that she probably should have lost 2010. Most people wouldn`t
have been able to thread the needle she did.

In this case, she was making a move that was both correct on the
policy merits and also popular. People in Arizona wanted her to veto this
bill and she did.

O`DONNELL: And talk about the pushback from Republicans against a
veto. The most prominent Republicans we were hearing from in Arizona were
the senators who wanted the veto, and those three Republicans who voted for
it and changed their minds. I didn`t hear --

BARRO: They just wanted it to go away. This is not something where
you have a really vocal portion of the party that, like Ted Cruz is willing
to die on this. There are certainly some, but it`s not going to drive the
party.

O`DONNELL: Quickly, Richard.

WOLFFE: This only came up because people paid attention. And the
kind of politics, even a couple of years ago without social media, without
our attention, honestly, they would have gotten away with it and said,
check the box, the base is happy and no one would have paid attention.

O`DONNELL: They got away with it until we focused on it, we the
national media.

Richard Wolffe and Josh Barro, thank you both very much for joining me
tonight.

WOLFFE: Thank you.

BARRO: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, a New Jersey radio program tonight, Chris
Christie changes his story once again. And in the rewrite tonight, it was
celebrity day on Capitol Hill. We saw another episode of Mr. Affleck goes
to Washington and the very first episode of Mr. Rogen goes to Washington.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In the spotlight tonight, Chris Christie takes the
unavoidable questions about the George Washington Woodrow Wilson Bridge
lane closures.

Christie appeared tonight on New Jersey`s 101.5`s "Ask the Governor"
radio show. Before the governor took caller questions, host Eric Scott
asked him about his former deputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC SCOTT, NEW JERSEY 101.5: What about the situation with Bridget
Kelly, though. You said you were angry when you read about her e-mails to
Wildstein. You said you personally fired her.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: No, I did not say that.

SCOTT: You did not -- that was not --

CHRISTIE: I ordered it.

SCOTT: I`m sorry, you personally ordered her firing. Did you have no
face to face with her on that day?

CHRISTIE: No.

SCOTT: So there was no opportunity for you to pull her aside and say
what was going on?

CHRISTIE: Eric, by that time it was evident from the e-mails what was
going on. And it was not appropriate for me to have those conversations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because?

CHRISTIE: Because there was obviously legal consequences going on
potentially for her and for others. So, you know, and by the way, on
December 12th and 13th, she was questioned extensively by her superiors and
said she had no involvement, no knowledge, no e-mails, nothing.

You know, at the end of the day, Eric, if someone is not going to tell
you the truth, they don`t tell you the truth. What are you going to do?
Grab them by the ankles and shake them upside down? Until e-mails fall out
of their pocket? I mean, come on. Let`s not be hysterical about this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Here`s Chris Christie during that
press conference last month.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIE: I have not had any conversations with Bridget Kelly since
the e-mail came out. And so, she was not given the opportunity to explain
to me why she had lied because it was so obvious that she had. And I`m
quite frankly not interested in the explanation at the moment.

It`s my judgment for me to get involved with someone who the chairman
said he`s going to call as a witness between the time I discovered this and
the time that she may testify would be not the right thing for me to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tampering with a witness thing?

CHRISTIE: I certainly wouldn`t tamper with a witness but I could be
accused of tampering with the witness.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Since Chris Christie missed the opportunity to ask her the
questions, Bridget Kelly has refused to produced documents requested under
subpoenaed by the state legislative committee investigating the lane
closures invoking her both fifth amendment right against self-incrimination
and fourth amendment privacy rights.

Former port authority deputy executive director Bill Baroni who
resigned in December has handed over documents to the investigative
committee. But he, too, has never been questioned by Chris Christie
himself. Here`s Chris Christie defending that decision tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even as that study was starting to fall apart, did
you not feel compelled to pick up the phone and say Bill, what`s going on
here?

CHRISTIE: You know, Eric, you look at everything through the prism of
what you know after January 8th.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Admittedly.

CHRISTIE: Well, then, but you`re talking about a time that was before
January 8th. We`re going through an internal investigation, all of this
stuff will come out over an appropriate period of time. And I`m not going
to give into the hysteria of questions that are given by folks who have
information today that I didn`t have at the time that you`re talking about
why didn`t I ask certain questions? I mean, I didn`t ask the questions
because I didn`t think they needed to be asked.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now Alfred Doblin, editor of "the Bergen
Record" editorial page and Krystal Ball, co-host of MSNBC "the Cycle."

And there, Alfred, toward end and we go back to Christie`s first
story. He says I didn`t think the questions needed to be asked, which is
what he said on the day he announced in the big press conference that he
fired Bridget Kelly. He said I didn`t think there was any reason to ask
her any questions.

Tonight he then says, at another point, and talking about Bridget
Kelly, he said he thought it was completely obvious what had happened.
Well, no it wasn`t. Her e-mail, obviously, we all know is the middle of a
conversation. You want to know Bridget, what preceded that? That`s what
everyone in New Jersey now wants to know.

ALFRED DOBLIN, THE BERGEN RECORD: Well, I think, you know, part of
what have he`s saying today on that radio program, he would have been
smarter to have said during the news conference on January the 9th, which
is there`s a criminal investigation going on. I felt it was inappropriate
for me to ask those questions. I want to know the answers. If he had
actually just said, you know, I want to know the answers --

O`DONNELL: But there wasn`t a criminal investigation going on at the
time of the press conference. None.

DOBLIN: Well, there was definitely the --

O`DONNELL: The legislative investigation was going on about lane
closure, but that`s regular government business.

DOBLIN: And I think, you know, I would give him this much, that as a
former U.S. attorney that at the point that e-mail becomes public, that`s a
flag. That is something that is going to happen. But he didn`t respond
the way he should have responded.

O`DONNELL: No. Krystal, I would grant him that, too. That if he
stuck with just one explanation during the press conference, which is I
didn`t want to be seem to be interfering with a criminal investigation.
Which eventually an hour later in the press conference he worked his way
around to.

KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC HOST, THE CYCLE: Right.

O`DONNELL: And if he would just stay with that every day on this
question, you know, you go OK, I get it. That might or might not be true,
but it`s an answer that`s kind of bullet proof. But he keeps changing the
answers and juggling the little factoids and falsehoods within his answers.
He should be able to keep that simple part of his story straight, if he`s
telling the truth.

BALL: Well, and this is the piece that I think for a lot of people
really doesn`t make sense about Christie`s approach here because this is
not an uncurious man. This is not a stupid man. So yes, the right
response is of course I want to know. And of course I want to understand
why these people who I worked so closely with would take this extreme and
potentially illegal measure of closing down a bridge for some political
retribution.

He goes on to say in that press conference that he doesn`t even
understand why they would link it to the endorsement of the mayor of Fort
Lee because he doesn`t remember having really sought that endorsement. So
he`s saying that this part of it doesn`t make sense and yet he`s not
curious enough to want to get those answers either from Bridget Kelly or
Bill Baroni. That part doesn`t add up.

This is the man who wants to get to the bottom of this more than
anyone else. If he`s telling the truth, that he really was not involved,
one thing that would make this thing partly go away is if he had some sort
of a coherent explanation for how his staff could have been doing this, why
his staff would have been doing this and him having absolutely no knowledge
or involvement.

O`DONNELL: You have editorialized that David Samson, the Christie
choice for the chairman of the port authority should resign. Let`s listen
to what Christie said about David Samson tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was one other thing that was in the New York
news this week that I wanted to talk to you about. And that -- it goes
back to your port authority. Your top port authority employee David Samson
was the target of some criticism by the PA`s executive director Patrick
Foye. Foye was asked for "the New York Daily News" if Samson had the moral
authority to lead the agency and he flat-out said no. But then wouldn`t
elaborate on it any further. Do you still sand by Samson as your
appointee?

CHRISTIE: Strongly, firmly. And I disagree with Pat Foye.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: So he stand strongly and firmly with an appointee who your
newspaper, you, say should be forced to resign now.

DOBLIN: Yes. I think, you know, if we don`t look at the missteps,
this was a huge misstep on the part of the governor`s. I think today, by
this point today, now that we know what we know, I think he should say, you
know, David Samson has been a loyal friend of mine. You know, I have a lot
of faith in him, but there`s been so many conflicts of interest. Leave the
GWB scandal aside, which Samson says he knew nothing about. He said that
to me personally that he knew nothing about. He did not recuse himself
from a vote for a use of a pass station in Harrison, which is near Newark
where he was a client -- he had a client that was going to benefit from a
real estate deal. His law firm is attached to a project in Hoboken which
is part of this whole Dawn Zimmer, maybe, there is --

O`DONNELL: And he still works for the law firm making huge amounts of
money for the law firm. Yes, you get to do that in this job. Have as many
outside jobs as you want.

BALL: That`s wild.

DOBLIN: So, I mean, just for those conflicts, for somebody who was
this no nonsense, going to turn Trenton upside down kind of guy. He should
say, you know, Samson should step down.

O`DONNELL: And let`s just go to the e-mail that Samson wrote when he
cannot deny that he did not know about the bridge. And that`s when Patrick
Foye stopped what was going on at the bridge. And Samson wrote an e-mail
saying I just read it, meaning Foye`s e-mail. I just read it and confirms
evidence of Foye being a leak on stirring up trouble. And he ends that e-
mail in true gangster style saying in this case he`s playing in traffic.
Made a big mistake. That is the gangster of the guy Chris Christie just
said he has full faith in after newspapers have been calling for his
resignation.

BALL: Yes. And again, if we give Samson the total benefit of the
doubt that he knew nothing about what was going on and that he wasn`t
involved in any way, this happened directly under him. This happened on
his watch at the port authority. And Christie is standing right by him and
saying yes, this is going on.

O`DONNELL: Samson knew about it the day that it was ordered to be
stopped. And then he did nothing about it.

DOBLIN: Well, and he`s angry about it being leaked to the media.
He`s actually not angry about the traffic being blocked in Fort Lee. So,
it`s very personal. I mean, they don`t like each other. Foye doesn`t like
Samson and Samson doesn`t like Foye. But that`s not the response of a
chairman.

O`DONNELL: No. Alfred Doblin, Krystal Ball, thank you both very much
for joining me tonight.

BALL: Thanks, Lawrence.

DOBLIN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up in "the rewrite" Seth Rogan, Ben Affleck and the
United States Senate.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can`t believe this. Colorado says that it
expects to make $100 million over the next year from taxing legalized
marijuana. And their governor, John Hickenlooper -- you can tell who the
stoners are. That`s his actual name. Governor Hickenlooper says he will
use a lot of that money to build new schools. They even announced some of
the names of those schools. That`s correct.

First we have U. Holden Academy. Next we have Hot Pocket Prep and
here`s the last one here. St. Mary Jane`s. There you go. Great schools.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SETH ROGEN, ACTOR: First I should answer the question I assume many
of you are asking. Yes, I`m aware that his nothing to do with the
legalization of marijuana.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Best joke I`ve ever heard in a Senate hearing. It was
celebrity day on Capitol Hill. Seth Rogan testified to the Senate
appropriations subcommittee about the rising costs of Alzheimer`s disease.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROGEN: After forgetting who she and her loved ones were, my law, a
teacher for 35 years forgot how to speak, feed herself, dress herself and
go to her bathroom herself, all by the age of 60. Unlike any of the other
top ten causes of death in America, there`s no way to prevent, cure or even
slow the progression of Alzheimer`s disease.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That`s where celebrity testimony is usually the most
helpful. At otherwise obscure appropriations hearings about how much money
we should devote to a particular problem. We would not even know that
there was a Senate hearing today involving the rising costs of Alzheimer`s
for patients if Seth Rogan or someone else of his visibility level had not
testified.

In another Senate hearing room today, the foreign relations committee
held a hearing entitled prospects for peace in the Democratic republic of
Congo and great lakes region, which would have attracted no news cameras
and no news reports and very few senators if Ben Affleck wasn`t one of the
witnesses scheduled to testify.

Foreignpolicy.com posted a story about the hearing before it began
under the deliberately provocative title, Ben Affleck to testify before
Congress as an Africa expert. The piece found an anonymous Republican
staffer at the House foreign affairs committee saying that they turned down
an opportunity to hear Ben Affleck testify to that committee on the same
subject because, quote, "people serious about resolving problems,
especially problems related to life and death want to have serious
conversations with experts and leaders in the field, not celebrities."

Well, what if the celebrity is a leader in the field? And what if the
celebrity is an expert. And, by the way, what is an expert exactly? There
is no academic degree that confers expertise about the Democratic Republic
of Congo. And hearings in both the house and the Senate frequently involve
witnesses who make absolutely no claim on expertise.

Ben Affleck has a solid a claim on the word expert to describe his
knowledge of the situation that he discussed today that you could have in a
Senate hearing, but he specifically disallowed the word expert to apply to
himself.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN AFFLECK, ACTOR: Thank you for inviting me here today. My name is
Ben Affleck. I`m an actor and a director and the founder of the eastern
Congo initiative, a grant-making advocacy organization working with people
in eastern Congo. I am to state the obvious not a Congo expert.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Now, I have attended literally hundreds of Senate hearings
and I have heard hundreds of witnesses at Senate hearings with far less
expertise on the subject under discussion than Ben Affleck.

Ben Affleck created the Eastern Congo Initiative with the mission to
help create opportunities for economic and social development there. He
created it. He travels to the DRC regularly and has more and better
current information about what`s happening in that country than any senator
on the Foreign Relations Committee and the senators know that.

And so none of the senators tried to trip up Ben Affleck or expose
gaps in his knowledge of the subject at that hearing because none of them
could do that and they knew they couldn`t. Here`s a typical sample of Ben
Affleck handling the Senate`s questions today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHRIS COONS ( D), DELAWARE: How do you think we can most
constructively support security sector perform, protection of civilians
while also not giving an open-ended blank check going forward?

AFFLECK: One of the things, is I mean, you know, it allows Cabilla
right now to sort of have his cake and eat it, too. He can say, I don`t
want my nose (ph) go. I don`t want, you know, I didn`t want (INAUDIBLE).
I don`t want this. We want other armies in our country, never a solution.
But also it sort of keeps him afloat in many ways. You know, you`re at the
mercy of the host country. There you are, but you`ve got to work with --
which is why they are embedded with the FRDC or put in a morally tenuous
commission because now they commit abuses. What are you supposed to do?

The population grew to resent ways in which Manusco (ph), you know,
when you say we`re going to protect you from civilians, you may be doing
it, you know, nine out of ten time, but the time it doesn`t happen, people
become quite resentful, particularly if they`re not your countryman.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: I don`t know about you, but there were a bunch of
references that Ben Affleck made there that I didn`t understand because
I`ve never been to the DRC. So I`m not an expert on the Democratic
Republic of the Congo and Ben Affleck is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I thank all three of the witnesses
here today. And I thank them for their expertise. From time to time we
have people who have some celebrity status that come and testify here. You
are imminently qualified to give us the benefit of your experience and
knowledge, and I think that your credibility is really remarkable because
of the depth of your commitment. I thank you.

AFFLECK: Thank you, senator.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: "The Wall Street Journal" is now reporting that tomorrow,
some un-redacted documents including e-mails from David Wildstein will be
released to the public.

And coming up, Andrea Mitchell asked John Kerry about Ukraine today,
and somehow he ended up talking about a movie, and you will never guess
which movie. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREA MITCHELL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Do we
know where Yanukovych is?

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, I`m not going to speculate on
the whereabouts of Yanukovych.

MITCHELL: Well, shouldn`t he be prosecuted for war crimes?

KERRY: I`m not going to speculate on any accountability.
Generically, we believe that anybody who made a decision or anybody who
created these several days of government violence against their own people
ought to be held accountable. But the first thing that has to happen is to
establish a new government.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Reuters` foreign affairs reporter, David
Rohde. He is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner.

David, this is what the NSA does. They -- we know that they are
listening to foreign leaders and what they`re up to. There`s no foreign
leader they were more interested in last week than Yanukovych. What is he
doing? Where is he moving? What is he doing?

DAVID ROHDE, REUTERS FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER: Was he littering the
police.

O`DONNELL: Yes. Do we think that the NSA lost him in these movement
that we have described, running around the country last night?

ROHDE: I think so. I mean, they really, it seems to have gone cold
and his, you know, (INAUDIBLE). There were two press reports that he might
be in Moscow, but then officials there denied it. So, it`s really unclear
what`s happening.

O`DONNELL: Does that settle whether he`s in Moscow or not but they
denied it?

ROHDE: No. And it is clear like -- what`s very clear is that he,
Yanukovych, is now very, very unpopular in Ukraine even in his hometown.
So Putin might not want to embrace him yet because that will just sort of
turn Ukraine more and more against the Russians and the tensions are
already na‹ve (ph).

O`DONNELL: Putin launching military exercises near the Ukraine
border. The biggest since the Soviet Union. Also talk -- secession talk?

ROHDE: Yes. There was sort of pro Russia demonstration saying they
want us to see, they want to become part of Russia again. The
demonstrations are classic sort of the Putin saber rattling. And there`s
some Republicans in the U.S. saying that Obama needs to be tougher. We
need more sort of Reagan-style rhetoric, standing up to Putin. People in
the administration tell me no, no, no. That`s going to exacerbate the
situation. It will bring up the announcement he made earlier to the movie
"Rocky IV" analogy.

O`DONNELL: Yes. Let`s listen how "Rocky IV" got into this. Let`s
listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KERRY: We`re hoping that Russia will not see this as sort of a
continuation of the cold war. We don`t see it that way. We do not believe
this should be an east-west, Russia-United States. This is not "Rocky IV."
believe me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: OK. The idea that John Kerry saw "Rocky IV" was -- that
was the biggest shocking news of the day for me. But it is a very
important point as everyone is wondering when does this -- when does it
move into a glacial kind of cold war situation here.

ROHDE: I had an adviser to Mitt Romney in the 2012 campaign say that
events have proven Mitt Romney right. Mitt Romney said the U.S. is
greatest geopolitical threat was Russia. The Obama administration saying
don`t go there. Republicans say, you know, McCain as well that you need to
say that. You need to sort of stand up to. It sounds very much like
standing up to the soviets.

And as this plays out, if Putin continues with these operations, the
military operations, it will put pressure on the Obama administration to do
something. Today, they offered a billion dollars in loan guarantees, not a
billion dollars. A week ago, Putin was offering $15 billion in cash, no
strings attached.

O`DONNELL: But who are you offering the billion dollars to? That`s
why everybody has to be a little bit snow in what their offers are?

ROHDE: This interim government, it is that they credit today and sort
of half protesters, half veteran politicians. It`s always messy after
these revolutions. Can this turn, you know, from a street movement into a
really, you know, effective new government. That`s what`s not clear yet.
And I get the sense Putin is waiting. He thinks a new government could
become unpopular as economic problems mount. And then he`ll make his move
when there`s a chance to exploit that.

O`DONNELL: David Rohde gets tonight`s "Last Word." Thanks, David.

ROHDE: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes is up next.

END

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