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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Wendesday, March 5, 2014

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March 5, 2014

Guest: Liz Wahl, Stephen Cohen, William Taylor, Gerry Connelly

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Tonight, the Russian TV reporter who
quit live on the air today in protest of the Russian invasion of Ukraine
will join me tonight.

And Darrel Issa did something today in a congressional hearing that you and
I have never seen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: The hearing is getting under way on the IRS

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Major fireworks in a congressional hearing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Committee chair Darrel Issa once again led the

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC ANCHOR, HARDBALL: He ended, the chairman, had
roughly end the hearing and cut off Cummings` mic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: The ranking democrat, Elijah Cummings.

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: Let me say what I have to say. I
listened to you for the last 15 or 20 minutes.

mic. You can`t cut off a congressman like Elijah Cummings.

CUMMINGS: You cannot have a one-sided investigation. There is absolutely
something wrong with that.

REID: And that was it? Nope.

said he had questions to ask.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: The chairman defended his decision to cut
off proceedings.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the chairman share the deal of immaturity.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Lois Lerner, the former IRS director --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He knew precisely that Lois Lerner was go I think to
take the fifth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Issa on "FOX News Sunday" said she`s willing
to testify.

ISSA: Her attorney indicates now she will testify.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We understand that she is again pleading the fifth.

BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I`m so tired of Lois Lerner and the Fifth
Amendment and Cummings and all of this.

ISSA: We know what she did. What we don`t know is why she did it.

O`REILLY: Do you know what happened? Do you know what the IRS did?


O`DONNELL: OK. When is the last time that this happened in a
congressional hearing?


ISSA: Ladies and gentlemen, seeking the truth is the obligation of this
committee. I can see no point in going further. I have no expectation
that Ms. Lerner will cooperate with this committee and therefore --

CUMMINGS: Mr. Chairman, I have a statement. Mr. Chairman, I have a
procedural question. Mr. Chairman, you cannot run a committee like this.
You just cannot do this. We`re better than as a country. We`re better
than that as a committee. I have asked for a few minutes to ask -- now
you`re turning me off?


O`DONNELL: What you just saw is the chairman of a congressional committee
adjourning a hearing without allowing any other member of the committee to
speak. When is the last time that happened? No one knows. You have never
seen it happen. I have seen hundreds of congressional hearings and I have
never seen it happen. No one working for the out of control committee
chair who pulled that stunt has seen it happened.

We asked Darrell Issa`s staff in writing today to tell us when was the last
time a committee hearing did not allow another committee member to speak
before adjourning a hearing in either the House or the Senate? Darrell
Issa`s staff had no reply to that question.

Darrell Issa did not accept our invitation to appear on this program
tonight. Instead, he appeared on FOX News where he was fawned over and was
able to bask in the ignorance of another FOX News anchor.

Greta Van Sustren was the lucky one tonight. Greta Van Sustren makes much
of the fact that she was a lawyer, but she obviously has no comprehension
of the law in the case that Darrell Issa is pursuing, which he calls a
scandal and FOX News calls a scandal. And the only way you can call it a
scandal is if you have never read the law on 501c-4 organizations.

The investigation that Darrell Issa says he`s pursuing is how the IRS has
administered the law and regulations on 501c-4 organizations. That`s what
this is all about. That is the subject of Darrell Issa`s investigation.
Nothing more, nothing less. And you would think that Congressman Issa
would have read at some point read allowed the very simple law on 501c-4
organizations. You would think someone at FOX News would have done that.
But they haven`t. They won`t. They never will.

I was the first to make the wording of that law public last year. But FOX
News and most of the Washington media still, still relentlessly avoid the
wording of that law, which is absolutely essential to understanding why
absolutely nothing scandalous has happened at the IRS in this story. The
100-year-old law as viewers of this program know says tax exempt social
welfare organizations must be civic leagues of organizations not organized
for profit but operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare.

An and then in 1959, President Eisenhower`s chief counsel at the IRS wrote
an interpretation of that have law, called a regulation, that says that
501c-4`s must be operated primarily, that was his word, primarily, for
social welfare. If there is a scandal here, it is this President
Eisenhower`s IRS, effectively rewrote the law from exclusively to primarily
without any consultation with the congress, without the legal authority to
do that. Congress is responsible for writing those law, not the IRS. That
is genuinely scandalous that that happened. And no one at FOX News knows
that that happened in 1959.

I have issued today a permanent invitation for Darrell Issa to come on this
program to have what I promise will be a civil discussion of his
investigation and the law. I will begin that discussion telling him right
now, by doing something apparently none of his staff have done. I will
read to him the law on 501c-4 organizations. I will then read to him the
regulation on 501c-4 organizations. I will then ask him how IRS workers
should interpret those two things? Those two words, exclusively or
primarily. Should they enforce the law that says exclusively? Or should
they enforce the regulation that says primarily? It is impossible to
enforce both.

I defy attorney Van Sustren to read to her audience the law on 501c-4
organizations and then read to her audience the regulation on 501c-4
organizations, and then explain to them how she, attorney Van Sustren would
interpret the law and the regulation if she were looking at the IRS? Which
would attorney Van Sustren choose to enforce? The law or the regulation?
Because, Greta, you cannot possibly enforce both.

IRS workers with jurisdiction over 501c-4 organizations when confronted
with the conflict between the law and the regulation did their best to try
to evaluate how much political activity 501c-4 applicants intended to
engage in. They legitimately pursued those inquiry, and they pursued them
about tea party organizations, Republican organizations, Democratic Party
organizations, liberal organizations, because the regulation they were
reading compelled them to ask those questions.

Not everyone on Darrell Issa`s staff can possibly be blindly ignorant to
this. Some of them know it. They know what the law says. But it is
entirely possible that none of them have the courage to shatter their boss`
fantasy about what happened at the IRS. Chairman Issa is so protective of
that fantasy that this is what happens now at his fake hearings.


CUMMINGS: Now, you are cutting me off.

ISSA: We have adjourned.

CUMMINGS: I don`t care. The fact is I am asking a question. I am a
ranking member of a committee and I want to ask a question. What are we
hiding? What`s the big deal? May I ask my question? May I make my

ISSA: You`re all free to leave. We`ve adjourned. The gentleman may ask
his question. Thank you very much.

CUMMINGS: Mr. Chairman, I have one procedural question and it goes to
trying to helping you get to the information by the way that you`ve just

ISSA: What`s your question?

CUMMINGS: No, let me say what I have to say. I have listened to you for
the last 15 or 20 minutes. Let me say what I have to say. Chairman, I
have one procedural question --

ISSA: Miss Lerner, you`re released.

CUMMINGS: But first I would like to use my time to make some brief points.
For the past year, the central Republican accusation --

ISSA: We`re adjourned. Close it down.

CUMMINGS: -- collusion directed by or on behalf of the White House.
Before our committee there is a single document or interview one witness.
Chairman Issa --

CHANT: Shame, shame, shame, shame.

CUMMINGS: This was the targeting of the president`s political enemies
effectively and lying about it during the election year. He continued this

ISSA: Where is your question?

CUMMINGS: If you will sit down and allow me to ask the question, I am a
member of the Congress of the United States of America. I am tired of
this. We have members up here each who represent 700,000 people. You
cannot just have a one sided investigation. There is absolutely something
wrong with that and it`s absolutely un-American.


ISSA: We had a hearing. It was adjourned. I gave you an opportunity to
ask a question. You have no question.

CUMMINGS: I do have a question.

ISSA: I gave you an opportunity.

CUMMINGS: Chairman, what are you hiding?


O`DONNELL: I`m not old enough to remember Joe McCarthy`s hearing, so I can
tell you, I have never seen such shameful conduct by a committee chairman.
But after her chat with Darrell Issa tonight, this is what Greta Van
Sustren`s conclusion was.


GRETA VAN SUSTREN, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Shame on President Obama for not
doing the right all these months like picking up the phone and direct his
attorney general to aggressively and fairly investigate.


O`DONNELL: And shame on Greta and every one at FOX News who have never
bothered to read the law on 501c-4 organizations that Darrell Issa claims
he is investigating.

Joining me now, Congressman Gerry Connelly of Virginia, a member of the
House oversight and government reform committee who was in the room today.

Congressman Connelly, I don`t have to ask you if you`ve ever seen that
before. I checked with the Senate historian today. They knew of no such
instance of this ever happening. A chairman running a hearing, adjourning
it without allowing any other member to speak of either party. We checked
with Norm Ornstein, a congressional scholar we all know. He had no such

What we have seen from time to time is once in a while people will turn off
microphones, that kind of thing will happen. But as far as a chairman
gaveling a hearing to a close without allowing anyone else to speak in my
experience, that`s never happened.

REP. GERRY CONNELLY (D), VIRGINIA: Lawrence, I couldn`t agree with you
more. I, like you, was a staffer on the hill for ten year. I have served
as a staffer on one committee and as a member of Congress on three
committees. I have never seen a chairman abuse power and show the kind of
profound disrespect for the ranking member, his colleague, as we saw today
with Darrell Issa.

O`DONNELL: Now, here are some soft thing you never learn if you listen to
Darrell Issa, whether it`s in the hearing room or on FOX News where he was
tonight insisting they just aren`t getting those Lois Lerner e-mails that
they need. The IRS has, in fact, turned over every one of the Lois Lerner
e-mails in this case. They have turned over 500,000 pages of documents
from the IRS to Congress. There are 150 people working full time at the
IRS, not examining people`s tax returns anymore, not trying to increase the
revenue available to the treasury at the IRS, through the IRS, but 150
people working full time just to provide documents to Darrell Issa and
these kinds of subpoenas.

CONNELLY: You know, that`s true, but I think we need to back up. This is
not an honest inquiry. This is a Star Chamber operation. This is cherry
picking information, deliberately colluding with a Republican idea in the
IRS to make sure the investigation is solely about tea party and
conservative groups even though we know that the tilt is included
progressive titles as well as conservative titles and that they were
equally stringent.

It was a foolish thing to do. And it`s wrong, but it was not just targeted
at conservatives. But Darrell Issa wants to make sure that information
does not get out. And it`s been a very shameful thing under the sham of an
investigation when it is not an investigation. That`s one of the reasons
he wants to have a contempt citation against Lois Lerner who is exercising
her constitutional right to invoke the Fifth Amendment.

The D.C. bar says that if you haul somebody who`s already said I`m invoking
my fifth before a legislative body, you are guilty of doing nothing but
humiliation and pillaring. And that you can actually be brought up for an
ethics charge in D.C. at the bar for engaging in that kind of clearly
punitive behavior.

The Quinn case before the Supreme Court, you mentioned the McCarthy era,
going back to the McCarthy era made it very clear that the deference is
always to be given to a citizen. Their absolute right under the
constitution to invoke the Fifth Amendment. Darrell Issa doesn`t want her
to be able to do that. He wants to bring a contempt citation before the
floor of the house in order to pillory and humiliate this woman to make a
case out of her because it`s political. It exercises their base in an
election year.

O`DONNELL: Congressman Connelly, if chairman Issa ever lets you speak at a
hearing again, would you do us a favor and try to get a question toward him
on how he would interpret the conflict between the law and the regulation
where the law says exclusively and the regulation says primarily? I think
those IRS workers were doing the best they possibly could with what is in
effect a political evaluation they have to make on those applications.

CONNELLY: You couldn`t be more right. And by the way, if I went home to
my wife and I said ours, honey, is an exclusive relationship, I love you
exclusively and that means primarily. I probably would be sleeping on the
couch for quite some time. Words mean something. And your point is
absolutely correct. And don`t forget, why are we -- why are we fighting
about these words? Because this is all about protecting the anonymity of
super PACS, the Koch brothers and others who have major donors on the
Republican side and they need them and they need their anonymity in this
election cycle.

O`DONNELL: Congressman Gerry Connelly, not my primarily guest tonight on
this subject. My exclusive guest tonight on this subject. Thank you very
much for joining us, tonight.

CONNELLY: My pleasure, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Coming up, the Russian government is still pretending that those are not
Russian troops who have invaded Ukraine. Is that a good sign? Might that
actually make it easier for the Russian troops to eventually disappear back
into Russia?

And another stunning moment on Russian TV today. A reporter quits live on
the air because she will not push the Russian propaganda agenda. She will
join me later.

And in tonight`s "rewrite" Hillary Clinton is rewriting. Hillary Clinton,
her first comments on Ukraine were not supposed to become public by they
did last night. And today, Hillary Clinton clarified those comments.
That`s coming up.



LIZ WAHL, REPORTER: I`m proud to be an American and believe in
disseminating the truth and that is why after this newscast, I am


O`DONNELL: That is Liz Wahl who will join me later.

The latest on the crisis in Ukraine is next.


O`DONNELL: In Paris today, a meeting about Syria quickly became a meeting
about Ukraine when John Kerry brought with him the uninvited new Ukrainian
foreign minister. Kerry was hoping that he could broker a meeting between
the Russian foreign minister and the new Ukrainian foreign minister, but
the Russian foreign minister would have known none of it and claimed to the
press that he had no idea that the Ukrainian foreign minister was there.
Secretary Kerry sounded optimistic after his discussions today.


JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: I don`t think any of us had the
anticipation coming here at this moment in this atmosphere of heightened
tension and confrontation that we were suddenly going to resolve that here
this afternoon, I think today was very constructive. Without promising
something that is not defined yet, without raising hopes that are
inappropriate to raise. I want to be realistic. This is hard, tough stuff
and a very serious moment. But I would rather be where we are today than
where we were yesterday.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now, William Taylor, the former ambassador to
Ukraine under both George W. Bush and President Obama. And Stephen Cohen,
New York University professor of Russian and Slavic studies.

Ambassador Taylor, I have to ask you, the fact that Russia is denying --
Putin is denying that these are his troops there and that their uniforms
are unmarked, is there possibly something hopeful in that, in that since
there is no formal Russian acknowledgment that they`ve done this, that they
may be able to slip out of there more recently?

I think that president Putin does need to have a way out. What we`re most
interested in is not trapping h him, not boxing president Putin. What we
are interested in and I think the world is interested in, certainly our
European allies and our Ukrainian friends are interested in is a peaceful
resolution of this that keeps Ukraine united and sovereign. And if these
mentioned, these discussions from, these statements from president Putin
want to indicate that these are not his troops even though all evidence is
that they are his troops, that`s not the point. The point is we would like
to get them sitting down and talking. And if that`s the way to do it, that
sounds fine.

O`DONNELL: Stephen Cohen, I want to pull back to a question I`ve been
wondering about from the start of this. But in the Russia with all the
details of the day, we`ve never quite gotten to, and that what is really at
stake and who has control of Crimea. Is there something here that`s an
irreversible harm if this ended up being effectively or even legally under
Russian control?

right and go from there. We are the worse most fateful developments of our
time. The old cold war divide in Berlin has been moved to Russia`s
boarder, Ukraine. If it stands for decades to come, as my kids and my
grand kids, they`re going to live with dangers greater than attended the
first cold war because we are on Russian`s border.

Hot water is five stupid orders away from right now (INAUDIBLE). To
address whose troops these are, it`s a shell game. It doesn`t matter. The
fact is that Putin holds all the major geopolitical cards at the moment.
And the way out is negotiation, and you`re going to negotiate your way out
by acknowledging that Russia, this is (INAUDIBLE) has a case. It has a
legitimate set of grievances that have to be met. If not, they`ll just sit
in crime Crimea, which belongs to Russia anyway historically, and the rest
will be approaching cold war and the danger of our work (ph).

O`DONNELL: Would you say the number one grievance is the possibility of a
NATO membership in that region and would you argue that the west should
simply say formally publicly that won`t happen?

COHEN: You said it. I didn`t say it.

O`DONNELL: I said should they say it?

COHEN: No, I just said it. I would be willing to say that.

I would be willing, too. I`m older than you, but we both remember.
Beginning of the 1990s, Clinton began NATO towards Russia, even though we
promised we wouldn`t do it. Forget about that. It`s come closer and
closer, like PAC man, gobbling up everything along the way, now sitting on
Russia`s borders in the Baltic`s. The people who had a plan, now we may
say they were right, we should do that. That`s not point. But they had a
plan.. The brass ring was always Ukraine. That was always Ukraine. We`re
at the gates of Ukraine and the policy backfired. I would end by saying
that bipartisan, because this isn`t Democrat or Republican. Bipartisan
policy towards Russia has collapsed in this catastrophe, which is fateful.
We need a new policy.

O`DONNELL: Ambassador Taylor, what`s your reaction to Professor Cohen`s

TAYLOR: Well, a couple of things. First of all, Crimea does now clearly
by everyone in the world agree belong to Ukraine. This is a fact. This is
a legal fact that cannot be denied. It is also the case that I would not
be in favor of the United States giving assurance to the Russians that a
country, like Ukraine or others, who might want to join NATO at some point
in the future could not do that. I don`t think that`s something that the
United States should do. That`s a decision for the Ukrainians. The united
Ukrainians, democrat Ukraine, they can make that decision for themselves.
It`s not for us to decide, not for the Russians to decide.

O`DONNELL: But ambassador, on the issue of NATO, and I think we should
begin this discussion we won`t finish it tonight, but it is the North
Atlantic treaty organization. Isn`t there some geographic definition in
the title of it. And it`s a military alliance. It`s not an economic
alliance. There is a different components from the Russian perspective
between say, the EU and NATO. Those are very different things.

TAYLOR: They`re very different things. And again, you`re right. There`s
an economic organization called the European Union. And the question for
the Ukrainians is whether they want to join the European Union on the
economic term.

NATO is a political and a security organization. And again, the Ukrainians
can decide if they want to join. And I don`t think the word North Atlantic
treaty should exclude people, nations who want to join. This is a
sovereign decision. It`s a sovereign decision frankly of Ukraine, but also
of the members, the current members of NATO.

O`DONNELL: OK. I feel like we`re just beginning this conversation. We`re
out of time for tonight. So we will all be back at this table discussing
it in it future.

Ambassador William Taylor and Stephen Cohen, thank you both very much for
joining me tonight.

COHEN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Chris Christie is going to CPAC tomorrow, the group
that banned him from speaking last year.

And in the "rewrite" tonight, Hillary Clinton has to rewrite Hillary

And next, the reporter on Russian TV who quit live on the air because she
opposes the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Liz Wahl will join me next.


O`DONNELL: In the "Spotlight" tonight, another stunning moment on Russian
television. Last night we showed you Abby Martin voicing her opposition of
Russian invasion of Ukraine on her show on an English speaking network that
is funded by the Kremlin.


ABBY MARTIN, RUSSIAN TV ANCHOR: Before we wrap up the show, I wanted to
say something from my heart about the ongoing political crisis in Ukraine
and Russia`s military occupation of command. Just because I work here for
RT doesn`t mean I don`t have editorial independence. And I can`t stress
enough how strongly I am against any state intervention in a sovereign
nation and its affairs.

What Russia did is wrong. I admittedly don`t know enough as I should about
Ukraine`s history or the cultural dynamics of the region. But what I do
know is military intervention is never the answer and I will not sit here
and apologize or defend military aggression.


O`DONNELL: And then today, Liz Wahl went one very big step beyond that.


WAHL: Last night, RT made international headlines when one of our anchors
went On the Record and said Russian intervention in Crimea is wrong. And
indeed, as a reporter on this network, I face many ethical and moral
challenges, especially me personally, coming from a family whose
grandparents -- my grandparents came here as refugees during the Hungarian
revolution, ironically to escape the soviet forces.

I have family on the opposite side, on my mother`s side that sees the daily
grind of poverty and I`m very lucky to have grown up here in the United
States. I`m the daughter of a veteran. My partner is a physician at a
military base where he sees every day the firsthand accounts of the
ultimate prices that people pay for this country. And that is why
personally I cannot be part of a station that is funded by the Russian
government that white washes the actions of Putin.

I`m proud to be an American and believe in disseminating the truth and that
is why after this newscast I am resigning.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now is the now former RT America correspondent and
news anchor Liz Wahl.

Liz, thank you very much for joining us tonight. I know this has been a
crazy day for you. I have read, you gave an interview today to James
Kirchick as their lead and you said that you had been thinking about this
for a while, that you had been uncomfortable. What was the moment where it
snapped for you and you felt you had to do this?

WAHL: Yes. I have been thinking about it for a while, especially in the
wake of the oppressive anti-gay laws that were happening there. I have
been thinking about it and decided now was the time, as we are approaching
possibly another cold war. And I`m seeing the propaganda ramped up during
this time, seeing exactly how, basically how this organization just blocks
away from the White House is being used as a tool to promote Putinist
propaganda to try to make him seem like the good guy in this and to make
the west seem like the bad guy in this. And I think the American people
should know the truth about this network. And what its mission really is.

O`DONNELL: Your network, your former employer issued a statement in
reaction to what you did today saying, when a journalist disagrees with the
editorial position of his or her organization, the usual course of action
is to address those grievances with the editor. They go on to say a few
more things and they say, but when someone makes a big public show of a
personal decision, it`s nothing more than a self-promotional stunt. What`s
your reaction to what your employer said?

WAHL: I think they`re trying to juxtapose me with Abby. They`re trying to
say that -- trying to defame me in a way and saying I did this in the wake
of what she did. When in reality, we`re doing two different things. Abby
Martin is still with the network. She is -- the things that she says on
her show happen to be what the Kremlin likes. It`s a narrative that they
like. This is a narrative that I find to be propagandist. I find it to be
hostile towards the west. And I think people should know the truth about

I resigned. I`m no longer part of this network. I morally, ethically feel
like I cannot be part of this network. And I think the American people
should know what this network is truly about.

O`DONNELL: And Liz, Abby says that she sees absolutely no difference
between this Kremlin owned and supported network and the network that I`m
on because it`s corporate owned. Every other network is corporate owned.
She sees no difference between a government-funded network and private
funded network. The kind we have here in the United States.

WAHL: There`s a difference. And that`s something that`s touted on RT.
It`s funded by the Russian government, as you just mentioned. And there is
a difference. I think there`s a critique to be made about the media. You
can have this conversation about objectivity. But it`s different when
you`re promoting the foreign policy of a dictator of a dictatorial
government right now that is coming out and telling outright lies about
what indeed is happening over there in Crimea.

I did an interview today with Ron Paul, and interestingly, the part where I
asked him about Russian intervention, that couldn`t even be -- that didn`t
even make air. Those words coming out of my mouth that Russian intervened,
that didn`t make air. After that, a news story aired painting the
opposition in the Ukraine as a neo-Nazis, as being extreme part of the
right wing movement. And that is ridiculous. I mean, it is absurd. And
that is what Putin wants you to think. And it is absurd. The people
should know what this network is about.

O`DONNELL: I just want to explain to our audience. You are Washington
based, as is Abby Martin. And it`s an English language broadcast that`s
not seen in Russia. It`s for international consumption. And so, what the
message that you say that the Russian government is trying to control is
one that goes for international consumption.

WAHL: Right. It`s meant to shape the views of people across the world, to
try to make America look like the bad guy, and to make excuses basically
for Putin, and to whitewash his decisions. And it`s becoming increasingly
more difficult, I think, and because it`s becoming increasingly more
difficult to justify his actions that they`ve been upping the propaganda
war here. So it is what it is, and I think people should know what exactly
this operation is about.

O`DONNELL: Liz Wahl, thank you very much for joining us today on this
very, very hectic and important day.

WAHL: Very hectic indeed.

O`DONNELL: And bringing your last word on your day of resignation to this
show. Thank you very much, Liz.

WAHL: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Hillary Clinton, Hitler, seriously, and Vladimir


O`DONNELL: Hillary Clinton, Hillary Clinton rewrites Hillary Clinton next.


O`DONNELL: In the "rewrite" tonight, Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton`s
first comment about Ukraine was in an unguarded speech in Long Beach,
California, last night which she did not expect to become public.


said in a long press conference that, you know, all I want to do is protect
the rights of the minorities, namely Russian speakers. And he`s been on a
campaign to give everybody who has any Russian connection, a lot of retired
Russian military in crime Crimea, he`s given all Russian passports. Now if
this sounds familiar, it`s what Hitler did back in the `30s. All the
Germans that were, you know, the ethnic German, the Germans by ancestry who
were in places like Czechoslovakia, and Romania and other places, you know,
Hitler kept saying they`re not being treated right. I must go and protect
my people. And that`s what`s gotten everybody so nervous.


O`DONNELL: That recording was leased by the Long Beach press telegram.
Event organizers had asked that the speech not be recorded. Today, Hillary
Clinton, as she used to do in the Senate revised and extended her remarks.


CLINTON: What I said yesterday is that the claims by president Putin and
other Russians, that they had to go into Crimea and maybe further into
eastern Ukraine because they had to protect the Russian minorities. And
that is reminiscent of claims that were made back in the 1930s when Germany
under the Nazis kept talking about how they want to protect German
minorities in Poland and Czechoslovakia and elsewhere throughout Europe.
So I just want everybody to have a little historic perspective without
making a comparison, certainly, but I am recommending that we perhaps can
learn from this tactic that has been used before.


O`DONNELL: Krystal Ball, she phrased it much more carefully today. She
said it`s reminiscent. Last night she said it`s what Hitler did.

KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC HOST, THE CYCLE: And it`s what everyone is nervous

O`DONNELL: YES. And you can see that, you know, it was one of those
things, it was a question from the audience, which is always where the
problems come from those public appearances. But, you know, she was a
little bit out of shape there last night on the precision with which we
expect and the restraint with which we expect the secretary of state to
speak. She would never, never, if she were John Kerry today, she never
would have used the word Hitler.

BALL: That`s right. And she`s normally I think much more careful, much
more aware of the fact that even on a setting like that, your comment can
obviously become public. And the problem is that even though she is no
longer secretary of state, she is still seen as a leading voice of our
foreign policy.

O`DONNELL: So she will be judged by that standard whenever she speaks.

BALL: Absolutely, she will judged by that standard. And you know, anytime
you go down the path of comparing anything to Hitler, to Nazis, it does not
make you sound like an intelligence, thoughtful person. It`s way over the
top in terms of a comparison. You know, I think there was an instinct
here. She was receiving some negative press about her connection to the
Russian reset, and the Republicans are trying to tie Obama as a weak and
feckless leader. And to tie her into that somehow. So, I think there was
an instinct to go way in the other direction to show she`s very strong.

O`DONNELL: Not naive about Putin.

BALL: I`m clear right about Putin. I see what a threat he is. But she
just went way over the top with it.

O`DONNELL: yes. I mean, the way she said it today, you know, had a kind
of scholarly air to it that I think was fine. It was a good corrective to
where this was going if she hadn`t. But I`m sure she`s going to try to
leave this behind.

BALL: I would certainly think so. Although even the way she phrased it
today, you know, we`re comparing the tactics of Putin to Hitler to learn
from that, but to learn exactly what from that? It`s still not a
comparison that is ultimately very helpful in our foreign policy.

O`DONNELL: And it`s one of those things. I mean, she`s at an event where
no one is supposed to record or report what she has to say.

BALL: Right.

O`DONNELL: It`s going to happen wherever she goes. Someone is going to
record it. Everyone has a recording device in their pocket. Someone is
going to do that.

BALL: It is going to happen. And I think it also illustrates the fact
that she`s going to be in a tough place if she does run for president in
2016. In terms of foreign policy, she`ll be attacked from the right, tying
her to Obama, trying to paint this picture of her as weak, as feckless.
And from the left, there`s a danger as well. If you`ll recall, obviously,
in 2008. One of the things that derailed her campaign, she was seen as too
hawkish for the liberal base. So, she is going to have a tough line to
walk here in 2016.

O`DONNELL: In 2016, "USA Today" poll comes out, Hillary Clinton is the
only one of the possible candidate with a positive number. More people
want her to be president than don`t want her to be president. Everybody
else, all the Republican, everyone else in it, more people don`t want them
to be president than to be them be president. We`ll have more on that kind
of thing.

Krystal Ball, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

BALL: My pleasure.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Chris Christie speaks to an audience tomorrow that
banned him last year. And his bad poll numbers, they are getting worse.


O`DONNELL: Chris Christie gets some bad news from FOX News. That`s next.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We live in Silver Park north (ph) and I`m sure
everybody here is concerned about Obamacare. What do we do?

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Well, elect a new president, that`s
what you do.




O`DONNELL: Chris Christie is taking his now hopeless presidential campaign
to CPAC tomorrow. The conservative political action conference did not
invite Chris Christie to speak last year because he accepted federal aid
for hurricane Sandy, and expanded Medicaid in his state. But the CPAC
crowd is fickle.


ANNE COULTER, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: Well, I will put it in a nutshell.
If we don`t run Chris Christie, Romney will be the nominee and we`ll lose.


O`DONNELL: A year after Anne Coulter said that, Mitt Romney was warmly
received at CPAC when Chris Christie declined to run.


COULTER: Romney of the four remaining is the most conservative. He has
the strongest position on illegal immigration. He has consistently, and I
must tell you, right wingers, after Obamacare, the single most important
issue is illegal immigration.


O`DONNELL: And of course, at last year`s CPAC, Anne Coulter turned against
Chris Christie.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe Chris Christie should have been invited
to CPAC is this year?

COULTER: Did you see his convention speech?


COULTER: It was really bad. And I must say, though I, as you know, have
loved Chris Christie, I`m now a single issue voter against amnesty. So
Christie is off my list.


O`DONNELL: A new national FOX News poll out today asked would Chris
Christie be a good president? Only 24 percent of registered voters said
yes, 52 percent said no. In that same poll a year ago, 37 percent said he
would be a good president, 33 percent said he would not be a good

Ari Melber, these FOX News poll numbers tell the story for Chris Christie.
This dream of his, I believe, is over. And has been over since the day he
gave that big press conference about the bridge.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST, THE CYCLE: Yes, there has been in what we call in
politics significant slippage for him. I think you didn`t even get into
his CPAC poll numbers. It`s a straw poll. It is unscientific.

O`DONNELL: You know, Air, there`s nothing stopping you for getting into
the CPAC conference.

MELBER: So, his 2013 CPAC poll, when they do their little straw poll, a
super conservative, he came in at a paltry seven percent. I will submit to
you that CPAC is the only polling universe on earth where his number will
go up this year. And that complements the point you`re making, right?
Which is most normal voters who have taken a look at this, even though
there`s no direct link proven yet to him have seen a number of aides resign
over really terrible, petty bullying and quite possibly illegal throughout
his administration. And they said I don`t want to give that guy a pro-
potion. And CPAC, which didn`t invite him last year has now invited him.
David Axelrod, I know told you once when it came up when you guys were
talking about it, this is the one upside of the scandal for him because the
fact that he now looks like a beleaguered conservative endears him to some
of those folks.

O`DONNELL: Yes. If "The New York Times" is giving him a hard time, by
which we mean reporting accurately on him, or if we are, then he must be a
good guy for CPAC. The poll showed only Hillary Clinton, you know with a
number, with a positive number on this. Would she be a good president?
Fifty percent say yes, 47 percent say no. And you know, those numbers
don`t look fantastic, but nobody else has a positive yes number in this
thing. Rand Paul, 28 percent say he would be a good president, 49 percent
say he would not be a good president.

MELBER: Yes. And look, outside of political junkies and highly
ideologically motivated people, the biggest issue when you look at a
potential president and you don`t know a lot about them is their leadership
and their competence. And that`s the Chris Christie problem, right? There
isn`t a group of voters out there that wants you to use traffic to go after
your political enemies. There isn`t a group of voters out there that has
any angle on this.

So unlike even some of the most harsh ideological issues. I mean, Rand
Paul is Extremist in certain issues. Btu people think he is a believer.
Chris Christie, there`s no belief system here. There`s just the fact that
there was incompetence or rank corruption.

O`DONNELL: You know, I don`t know what Christie is going to say tomorrow,
but I know what he`s not going to say. And it`s a line from his state
budget address. Let`s listen to this.


CHRISTIE: I`m proud to have made the decision to expand Medicaid and
provide greater access to health care for New Jersians truly in need.


O`DONNELL: He isn`t going to get a standing ovation for that.

MELBER: No. And in the other clip you played where he says, look, I don`t
like Obamacare. But actually on the details, he doesn`t want to admit to
being moderate at some of these.

O`DONNELL: Exactly.

Ari Melber, thank you very much for being with us tonight.

MELBER: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes is up next.


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