THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
March 6, 2014
Guests: Nicholas Kristof, Michael McFaul, Robert Costa; Sam Stein; Joy
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: The president orders new sanctions
against any Russian who is interfering in Ukraine today, and John Boehner
supports him completely.
And while Chris Christie went to CPAC, back in New Jersey, Bridget
Kelly`s lawyer was attacking the legislature`s investigative committee.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right now, Ukraine is on the agenda.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The U.S. upped the ante somewhat against Putin.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Visa restrictions and new sanctions.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This morning, I signed
an executive order.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Obama today ordered the freezing of
OBAMA: Sanctions on individuals and entities responsible --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Anyone connected to the military intervention in
OBAMA: The State Department has also put in place restrictions on
travel of certain individuals and officials.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A ban of travel to the U.S.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: High tension in Crimea.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Crimea`s parliament voted unanimously to join
the Russian federation.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To leave Ukraine and become part of Russia.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Putin seems in a real hurry to annex Crimea
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A blatant Russian land grab.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With a referendum on the decision expected in
the next 10 days.
OBAMA: Referendum on the future of Crimea would violate the Ukrainian
Constitution and violate international law.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is very bad news.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A very dark future for the Russian establishment
if they continue this course.
OBAMA: If this violation of international law continues.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to speak with one voice. We really want
to be united.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Show a united front when it comes to Russia.
OBAMA: The resolve of the United States and our allies and the
international community will remain firm.
O`DONNELL: The parliament in Crimea voted to secede from Ukraine and
join the Russian Federation. If Vladimir Putin agrees to this, Crimea`s
parliament contends that the next step would be a public vote on the
referendum on March 16th. But the Ukrainian government along with many in
the international community, including President Obama and Secretary of
State John Kerry call the referendum invalid and a violation of
After another meeting in Rome today, with the Russian foreign
minister, which yielded no public progress, Secretary Kerry said this --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: Crimea is part of Ukraine. Crimea is
Ukraine. As my understanding that the constitution of Ukraine requires all
-- requires an all-Ukraine referendum. In other words, every part of
Ukraine, all Ukrainians would have to be part of a referendum with respect
to the territory of Ukraine.
So, therefore, the proposed referendum would violate the constitution
of Ukraine and international law and the sovereignty of Ukraine itself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And today at the White House, President Obama said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The proposed referendum on the future of Crimea would violate
the Ukrainian Constitution and violate international law. Any discussion
about the future of Ukraine must include the legitimate government of
Ukraine. In 2014, we are well beyond the days when borders can be redrawn
over the heads of democratic leaders.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: This morning, President Obama signed an executive order
authorizing sanctions against any Russians involved in the situation in
Ukraine and restricting their visas.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: These decisions continue our efforts to impose a cost on
Russia, and those responsible for the situation in Crimea. And they also
give us the flexibility to adjust our response going forward based on
Russia`s actions. We took these steps in close coordination with our
I have spoken to several of our closest friends around the world and I
am pleased that our international unity is on display at this important
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: House Speaker John Boehner fully supports President
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: You`ve heard me call
president Putin a thug. It`s because he is. And he`s counting on the
United States to sit back and watch him do and take whatever he wants.
I support the limited sanctions outlined by the president today to
freeze some assets and block U.S. visas. This is a welcome first step. We
remain committed to working with the administration to give President Obama
as many tools as needed to put President Putin in check and prevent Russia
from infringing on the sovereignty of any of its neighbors.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: This afternoon, the House of Representatives
overwhelmingly passed a bill to fast track a $1 billion loan to Ukraine.
Only 23 members, all Republicans, voted against it. The measure now moves
to the Senate.
Joining me now, "New York Times" columnist Nicholas Kristof, and
former U.S. ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul, who just retired from
that position last month.
Nick Kristof, the president also spent an hour on the phone with
Vladimir Putin today. We have to hope that`s a good sign.
NICHOLAS KRISTOF, THE NEW YORK TIMES: It`s certainly good to talk.
The president apparently was proposing the idea of international monitors
to replace Russian troop, to have the troops back down. You know, that
would be the best case scenario, that essentially President Putin would
undo what he`s done and use the monitors as a face-saving excuse.
I think the best case scenario I think is pretty unlikely. You know,
I think the real question is whether the worst case scenario, which is
invasion of eastern Ukraine is going to happen. And there, I hope that can
be avoided as well.
O`DONNELL: Ambassador McFaul, what is your sense of where we stand
tonight with this, especially the possibility of this going in a worse
direction at this point?
MICHAEL MCFAUL, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: Well, today was a
bad day. Today, things did go in a worse direction when the Crimean
parliament voted to join Russia, and to have this referendum.
If that referendum goes through, that will create facts on the ground
and President Putin will then say, "Well, we have to listen to the will of
the people. I am just supporting the will of the people there." He will
invoke other cases. He`ll invoke Kosovo to say this is the way forward.
And that`s going to be really hard to walk back from. It will take a
really creative package presented to him before he`ll walk away from that.
O`DONNELL: Nick, from John Boehner today, we did not hear any
accusatory tones towards President Obama for what`s going on in Ukraine.
However, with a lot of other American politicians who see everything that
happens in the world as a result of something in the United States, usually
something in Washington, there`s been an awful lot of talk about, you know,
this is all President Obama`s fault. None of this would be happening -- if
President Obama had just said the right thing about Syria some time ago or
something else -- what do you make of all that?
KRISTOF: Well, I mean, look, there are legitimate reasons to object
to President Obama`s foreign policy I think on Syria. There`d been lapses
elsewhere. But to blame weakness in the Obama administration for what
happened in Ukraine I think is complete nonsense.
You know, the president under the second President Bush, if Putin
moved into Georgia under the first President Bush, he helped dismember
Moldova. Under Eisenhower, he -- the Soviet Union invaded Hungary. Under
Johnson, invaded Czechoslovakia.
I mean, this is -- you know, I don`t think this is anything to do with
President Obama or weakness. I think that is a completely false narrative.
And the villain is not President Obama. The villain is Vladimir Putin.
O`DONNELL: Ambassador McFaul, let`s go back to what Ukraine would
have needed to avert this crisis. They were in a protracted, long
negotiation with the E.U. over what seems now like a relatively modest
package of $15 million in aid. This is in a world where Facebook, Mark
Zuckerberg, just paid $19 billion to buy WhatsApp.
MCFAUL: He`s my neighbor.
O`DONNELL: This is a world that spent $17 billion on Greece which
some would say is a less strategic spot than what we are worried about
tonight. It seems as if the E.U. had been quicker and smoother with what
they were trying to do in Ukraine, it seems like they could have possibly
closed that deal before Vladimir Putin stepped in with a much easier, here
you go, here`s your $15 billion deal.
MCFAUL: Well, it`s a complicated history, but the essence of the
story is the E.U. did have a deal. They thought that President Yanukovych
was going to sign up. He didn`t, under pressure from Russia. There was
then protests because he didn`t sign up, and those protests got bloody,
where the government shot on its citizens, and police also were shot upon.
There was, however, a deal, on February 21st, the opposition and
President Yanukovych got together, signed a deal with a path forward. And
then for some reason that I still find quite mysterious, a day later,
President Yanukovych pled and showed up in Russia.
Had that deal stuck, we would not have had the crisis in Crimea,
because it`s -- what happened was Putin just reacted tactically. It`s a
counterpunch to the collapse of the Yanukovych government back on the
O`DONNELL: Nick, I want you to look back historically. Your roots
are there, your family is from there, to where it might end up in the
future. If we end up in a scenario where Crimea falls under Russian rule,
what will have been gained, lost? What will that mean in the history of
KRISTOF: Well, I mean, the larger point is that the system of Ukraine
looking eastward all these years has failed. And that is the larger reason
for this. You have -- you know, in my ancestral village where my dad grew
up, the roads were better in the 1920s and 1930s than they are today. Our
traditional, our family house was --
O`DONNELL: And his region is the eastern?
KRISTOF: It`s a western region, kind of the southwestern Ukraine.
And my grandmother was from (INAUDIBLE) which was at the time was
traditionally a polish city.
And so, you know, I think there are so many Ukrainians, especially in
the West, who look at Poland thriving, Democratic, not so corrupt, and they
look at their own system, just, you know, economically stagnant, mired in
corruption, and they -- and kind of thuggish. And naturally, they want to
look westward. And, you know, I think Putin may have grabbed a poison
If he actually annexes Crimea, then Ukraine will have a million fewer
pro-Russian voters in its elections. It will be less evenly balanced.
They`ll be more pro-Western. Meanwhile, it will have antagonized so many
Ukrainians with what has happened.
He`s picked up the Tatar population in Crimea who may be a headache as
well, and he`ll have to subsidize Crimea as he`s already subsidized bits of
Moldova and Georgia that he grabbed. And you got to think that if Ukraine
can be made to success, it will take a while, but then you`re going to have
-- just as you have Ukrainians looking over the border and thinking, I want
that, then you`re going to have Russians I hope sometime in the future
looking west into Ukraine saying that`s what I want.
O`DONNELL: Former Ambassador Michael McFaul and "New York Times`"
Nicholas Kristof -- I wish we had more time tonight on this. Thank you
both for joining me tonight.
KRISTOF: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, Chris Christie goes to CPAC. Steve Kornacki
and Steve Schmidt will join me.
And later, the vote to censure Congressman Darrell Issa in the House
of Representatives today. Joy Reid will join me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WAYNE LAPIERRE, NRA EXECUTIVE VICE PRES.: They need to hear you all
the way from the greenroom at MSNBC and all the way over to the White
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The NRA`s Wayne LaPierre has had a standing invitation to
appear on this show for a year now and we`re still waiting for him to
Up next, Chris Christie at CPAC today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Governors are about getting
things done. Governors are about making government work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And some governors are just about surviving scandals.
At CPAC today, Chris Christie knew he doesn`t have a record
conservative enough to impress the crowd. So he talked about some people
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIE: In Ohio, John Kasich stood up against the crazy ideas the
Democrats had in Ohio that was causing economic depression. Governor Rick
Snyder has made Michigan the home of the UAW a right to work state. In
Florida, Rick Scott has taken an unemployment rate that he inherited well
over 11 percent and brought it to the national average.
That`s because governors, Republican governors, across this country
have stood up and done things. Not just talked about them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: A new poll from "The Washington Post" and NBC News shows
that many self-described conservatives oppose a Christie candidacy.
Thirty-eight percent of conservatives say they would not vote for Chris
Christie if he ran for president.
Joining me now is Steve Schmidt, MSNBC political analyst and former
senior adviser to the McCain campaign. And Steve Kornacki, host of MSNBC`s
"UP WITH STEVE KORNACKI."
Steve Kornacki, a warm enough reception for a guy who was banned from
CPAC last year.
STEVE KORNACKI, UP: Although, you know, when they was banned, there
was always some question last year about how happy was he to be banned?
And maybe he was the-- there was a request put in to be banned, because of
emphasis of Chris Christie`s political operation last year, as this scandal
over the bridge sort of gets to is, to roll up as big a possible margin as
you can in a blue state so that in 2014, he could go to CPAC, he could go
to other national conservative --
O`DONNELL: There were no New Jersey votes for him to win at CPAC last
KORNACKI: That`s right. But there are conservatives, theoretically,
the home game plan had it there were conservative minds to be won over by
2014 by saying, hey, I just won a state where Barack Obama carried by 17
points, by even more, and I ran on conservative principle, X, Y, and Z.
So, it`s a lot safer to be here this year than it was last year.
O`DONNELL: Steve Schmidt, one of his accomplishments he mentioned in
his state of the budget address last week in New Jersey that he didn`t
mention today at CPAC was that he has greatly expanded the Medicaid rolls
in New Jersey by adopting and accepting the expansion of Medicaid under
President Obama`s Affordable Care Act.
STEVE SCHMIDT, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: No doubt should he be a
candidate for president, his fellow governors standing on the stage who
voted against it will certainly remind him of that position, and it will be
an issue in the Republican presidential debates and in the primaries.
But look, Lawrence, I thought you saw somebody today on the stage
trying to re-establish himself as a spokesperson for the Republican
governor wing of the party. He has to move past obviously traveling around
the country and having gubernatorial candidates or his fellow governors
reticent to appear with him.
So I think today was a step in the right direction. He doesn`t have
to be politically healthy for a presidential run next month or even the
month after. He`s got plenty of time to show the resiliency, he`s going to
have to show to come back from the public relations debacle around this
O`DONNELL: It`s going to be I think an impossible comeback, Steve,
with the polls collapsing on him. And there he is down at CPAC trying to
enjoy the day, hear a little applause.
And back in New Jersey, Bridget Kelly`s lawyer is reopening the story
today. He files a response to the investigative committee saying, look,
Bridget Kelly absolutely needs Fifth Amendment protection because you`re
out there saying crimes have been committed, you members of the committee.
And then he tells us how much of an FBI investigation is closing in on
Bridget Kelly in his response document. He said, an investigator for the
U.S. attorney`s office, that, of course, would be an FBI agent, attempted
to contact ms. Kelly and also attempted to contact Ms. Kelly`s parents,
ex-husband and other in-laws to ask questions about Ms. Kelly.
Additionally, this office was contacted by the U.S. attorney`s office,
seeking to interview Ms. Kelly.
And the point of him revealing all of that to the committee is look,
she`s under criminal investigation. She needs this Fifth Amendment
KORNACKI: Yes. And it`s -- her filing is very similar to the one
Bill Stepien -- his lawyer put forward last week. Those are the most
significant things we` learned in the last week about this.
There`s been a sense that the legislative committee in Trenton was the
one that was focusing on the bridge scandal and the U.S. attorney`s office
out of Newark was focusing more on the allegation from the mayor of Hoboken
about Sandy aid and development projects in her town.
What we found out is the FBI agents were, even before the allegations
from Hoboken emerged, it turns out the FBI agents went to Bill Stepien`s
apartment complex. They talked to his landlord, they left business card.
So, they were doing the same thing you`re describing about Bridget Kelly,
they were doing to Bill Stepien, even before the Hoboken stuff broke.
Now, I don`t -- it`s unclear from this filing when they were looking
for -- trying to track down Bridget Kelly, but it sounds like the U.S.
attorney`s office is a lot more interested in the bridge aspect of this
than anybody thought originally.
O`DONNELL: And, Steve Schmidt, what`s also clear about it
politically, as Chris Christie moves around the country, he never knows
when one of these days is going to occur through the legislative
investigation and now the FBI/U.S. attorney investigation, for there to be
another document surface on another day that reminds the world about what
he really has to deal with back in New Jersey.
SCHMIDT: Look, there`s no doubt about that. The model for dealing
with successfully was Bill Clinton in the White House during the
impeachment proceedings, which went on for a long time, pre-impeachment,
during impeachment, after impeachment.
He went out every day, talk about he was doing the business of the
American people. He relied heavily on something that hasn`t happened here
so far, which is the overreaching of his opponents.
And so far, you know, Chris Christie doesn`t have much of a leg to
stand on with regard with opponent overreaching. I think an incident here,
an incident there, but the combined investigations between the legislature,
law enforcement mean that this story will go on for a long time.
I think it`s going to continue to be a very difficult period for Chris
Christie, for as far as the eye can see. But I do think, the one thing I
would disagree with you on, so long as he was telling the truth in that
initial news conference, no matter how bad the judgment of people around
him, no matter even if they committed criminal actions, I do think he will
have an opportunity to show his resiliency in a field that I think is as
wide open as it could possibly be for the nomination.
O`DONNELL: Steve Schmidt, he said in his big news conference where he
was trying to save his career, he said these two things word for word. He
said, "I delegate enormous amounts of authority to my staff and my
cabinet." He then also said --
SCHMIDT: Very problematic, no doubt.
O`DONNELL: "My staff has embarrassed and humiliated me." And you,
Steve Schmidt would send your candidate on to a Republican debate stage
armed with that on an index card and you would destroy him.
SCHMIDT: You have to have someone on that stage with the capacity to
destroy him in that debate, Lawrence. And I`m not sure it occurs to me, at
least immediately, cycling through the roster of candidates who that is.
The weakness of the field is as is constituted overall, gives somebody like
Chris Christie who does have a lot of talents, I think the ability to
navigate through this.
I mean, look, in order to be the president, in order to be the nominee
of your party, you have to show a level of political resiliency, hang in
there toughness that kills lesser candidates. That`s true of all of them.
We`ll see what Chris Christie is made of on that front over the course of
the next year or so.
O`DONNELL: Steve Kornacki, his big claim is, hey, I win in a blue
state, I get those votes that we need to get to win. But his polling in
that blue state is now getting worse every week.
KORNACKI: His polling in that blue state and polling with Republicans
nationally. That`s the other story of this week. I think we`re at a weird
point in this now. The basic suspicions are also --
O`DONNELL: Every point has been a weird point, hasn`t it?
KORNACKI: This is a particularly weird one because it exists where --
you know, we have some news today in terms of Bridget Kelly. A little bit
of news last week about Bill Stepien. It`s all about positioning,
posturing taking place behind the scenes right now.
And my guess is, it`s a period of weeks or months to getting an answer
here. But eventually, we are going to get an answer to a very basic
question and that is why did they do this? Why did they shut down those
When answers like that start coming out, this thing is going to take
on a whole new dimension, I think.
O`DONNELL: Steve Schmidt and Steve Kornacki, thank you both very much
for joining me tonight.
O`DONNELL: A reminder, you can see "UP WITH STEVE KORNACKI" weekend
mornings at 8:00.
Coming up, today`s greatest hits from CPAC. Sam Stein was there all
O`DONNELL: In the "Spotlight" tonight, the rest of the day`s actions
SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: God bless CPAC. Ronald Reagan. We need to
stand for the Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms.
We need to abolish the IRS. We need to audit the Federal Reserve. We
need to repeal every single word of Obamacare.
Yes, we can.
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: I think the left is exhausted. They
have spent five long years in power and all they have to show for it is
this lousy Web site. The left isn`t just out of ideas. They`re out of
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: The president of the
United States is treating our Constitution worse than a place mat at
GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: I want to talk about this
president`s assault on the American dream and his assault on religious
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: We have everything we need to succeed
economically except the leadership in the White House.
LAPIERRE: The NRA will not go quietly into the night. We will fight.
They need to hear you all the way to the green rooms of MSNBC and all the
way over to the White House.
DONALD TRUMP, BUSINESSMAN: Thank you. You look so nice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will fight. They need to hear you all the way
to the green rooms of MSNBC and all the way over to the White House.
DONALD TRUMP, CHAIRMAN, CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: Thank you. You look
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now, the two intrepid reporters who have been
at CPAC all day. Robert Costa, the national reporter with "the Washington
Post" and Sam Stein, MSNBC political analyst and senior politics editor for
"the Huffington Post."
Robert Costa, you`ve got great contacts in the Republican world and a
feel for what they`re thinking. Who was the biggest hit there for the
ROBERT COSTA, NATIONAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: The biggest hit
came in the morning. It was Senator Ted Cruz from Texas. He threw out so
much red meat, the crowd loved it. Wayne Lapierre was a big hit from the
NRA. And I think Chris Christie had a solid afternoon. He came in. He
was pretty solid. He didn`t get many boos from the crowd, pretty positive
reaction. I think Donald Trump as ever was a conservative favorite as
O`DONNELL: Sam Stein, you got your picture taken with a few of the
big stars. And I believe we have those pictures which we can run over your
very wise words about your experience there today. And Sam, it`s a very
strange collection of people. They always do a straw poll of their
favorite for president. And they don`t actually vote for those cardboard
figures that you`re standing beside. They vote for real people. And when
you at the list, it looks like if your name is Romney or Paul, you`ve got a
really good chance.
The weird thing is they voted for Mitt Romney when he was a liberal in
Massachusetts. And then they actually voted for him again in 2012 when he
got the nomination. Most of the rest of the time they do not vote for the
person who ends up getting the Republican nomination.
SAM STEIN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I would venture to say the
CPAC poll, wild largely entertaining is far from relevant. Keep in mind
that we are fairly far out from the 2016 election. Although, you know,
Mitt Romney, I recall when he was attending, his people really worked the
room and tried to work the vote so he could get a bump in momentum from the
CPAC straw poll. So, it`s not totally insignificant. People died in these
things. And obviously these are the, you know, true sort of party
conservatives that you want to have energized in your camp if you want to
be president of the United States. And so, that is why you see all the big
names coming to this event and they did too again today.
O`DONNELL: And Robert, when they`re in the off year here and they`re
not actually in a presidential election year, I assume it`s a kind of less
intense experience for all of them?
COSTA: Yes and no. We have the big the names here. You had
Christie, Paul Ryan, and Ted Cruz. But the spectacle of CPAC, what makes
this an interesting event about the right is that -- I saw and ran into
John Bolton, a former U.N. ambassador. He was here today. He`s thinking
about a 2016 presidential campaign. Ben Carson, the doctor from Maryland.
He`s a conservative favorite. He is thinking about the 2016. A lot of
those kinds of figures, Rick Santorum as well, they`re bubbling around on
the periphery trying to get into the conversation.
O`DONNELL: And Sam Stein, it seems as f you`re being challenged on
the right by tea party types, a gun is better than any word you can say on
the stage. The Republican leader of the United States Senate made a
distinctly non-senatorial entrance today, carrying, of course, a big rifle
to prove to the kids, hey, I`m really one of you. I have this nice old
rifle in my hand.
STEIN: Yes. I was going to bring my rifle, too and I`m just glad I
didn`t because it would have been really awkward if both Mitch McConnell
and I have brought rifles. It was an interesting moment. Clearly, the
symbolism was chose to be Charles Hesston (ph) speaking at CPAC not so long
ago. And you know, from Mitch McConnell, he wants to solidify his
conservative credentials and going to CPAC is one way to do it. Going with
the gun is in a whole another way to do it. And you know, it is just one
of these things. It is a quirky conference. There is definitely a lot of
reporters and there is tons of people who come there and speak and do stuff
like that. It`s always an affair.
O`DONNELL: Robert Costa, does that audience feel spun by some of
these politicians? Particularly Chris Christie who a week ago in his
budget address was talking about how he expanded Medicaid in New Jersey
under the affordable care act. And of course, in front of this audience,
he doesn`t say anything like that. How hip to that is that audience?
COSTA: I think this audience is skeptical of Chris Christie. Of
course, they didn`t even invite him last year. But I think what made his
appearance today work for the governor is that he`s under attack from the
press. He is under attack from a lot of Democrats. They love that here.
He`s victim to many in this crowd. They`re now rallying to his side when
they used to have a lot of skepticism because of this relationship with the
STEIN: Can I jump in on that?
O`DONNELL: Yes, go ahead, Sam.
STEIN: I think they are hip to it. I think these are smart people.
They are very politically attentive. I mean, they are either vows to very
conservative. That`s why they shop (ph). That`s why they (INAUDIBLE).
But they know about Christie and Medicare expansion.
And the other interesting policy thread that I was picking up through
the course of the day had to do with Ukraine. And Marco Rubio spoke. He
gave perhaps one of the more hawkish speeches along with John Bolton. But
when you talk to people out in the hall, you could actually sense just
talking to them a bit of ambivalence about a hawkish foreign policy. I
talked to a few who said, you know, I don`t get why we would get so
involved in Ukraine. Obviously, we shouldn`t get military involve, but
it`s not even our sphere of the world. There`s nothing we can gain from
being part of it. And you get the sense that sort of Rand Paul libertarian
ideology whose the mindset with respect to foreign policy is taking hold
much more so than even one year ago.
O`DONNELL: Well, I`m in CPAC two years in a row voted for the most
noninterventionist presidential candidate of modern time is Ron Paul.
There is a very strong strip there of stay out of form in (INAUDIBLE).
Robert Costa and Sam Stein, thank you both very much for joining me
COSTA: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, I said it here two months ago. And then "The
New York Times" finally said it today in an editorial. Who should be fired
next in the George Washington bridge scandal? That`s next on the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMMY FALLON, HOST, THE TONIGHT SHOW: President Obama unveiled his
budget for 2015. And no big surprise, Republicans immediately came out and
started criticizing pit .And House speaker John Boehner even said it`s
Obama`s most irresponsible budget yet. And then Boehner said, if you think
that`s harsh, wait until I actually read it. Then I`m going to tell you
what`s really on my mind.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: In tonight`s "rewrite" the plunderer of the port
authority. Almost two months after I said this --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: David Samson should be the next resignation demanded by
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: "The New York Times" today said this -- time for David
Samson to go. In a "New York Times" editorial, the "Times" said that Chris
Christie firing his deputy chief of staff, Bridget Kelly and cutting ties
with his political consultant are inadequate responses to the scandals that
have grown out of the four-day George Washington bridge traffic jam,
engineered by Christie`s staff.
The "Times" said that Christie has to do much more. Quote, "this
should begin with the firing of the authority`s chairman David Samson, a
Christie appointee who appears to have used the job to advance his
professional interest, his law firm, his clients, and the governor`s own
As port authority chairman, David Samson oversees a budget of $8.2
billion. That budget is bigger than the budget of 25 state governments.
And it has many more opportunities for corruption in it than most state
budgets do. The chairman of the port authority has jurisdiction over more
complex issues than most governors. But in Chris Christie`s definition of
the job and David Samson`s definition of the job and the actual formal
legal definition of the job, it`s not a full-time job. And so David Samson
spends much of his time on his real job, which is lobbyist.
Lawyers function as lobbyists all the time without officially claiming
that status. Lobbying a pleading with government, usually on behalf of
someone else for a benefit, usually on behalf of yourself and someone else.
The lobbyists benefit comes in the form of a fee. And that is what David
Samson really does for a living. And it is perfectly legal because the
most important government job Chris Christie has to give up, the chairman
of the port authority, the one that allows you to work at any other job you
want to while being chairman of the port authority, including the job that
is a conflict of interest, a daily conflict of interest to being the
chairman of the port authority.
The "Times" editorial points out that, quote, "the port authority last
April awarded two important bridge contracts worth a total of $2.8 billion.
Both awardees were clients of Mr. Samson`s firm. He lobbied hard for the
board to choose them, like gangbusters, one source said, and did not recue
himself from the discussions or the vote. And commented afterwards that
the occasion was joyous and happy.
That is what joy and happiness is in a lobbyists, life, lobbying hard
for $2.8 billion deal for your clients. And then this part is beyond the
wildest dreams of other lobbyists. Actually getting to vote on the deals
that you just lobbied yourself for, because you are chairman of the body
that you are lobbying. You are chairman of the body that is voting on the
deals you`ve been lobbying for.
This is as filthy as legal lobbying gets. All of it has been brought
to Chris Christie`s attention by the media, if not his staff, and this was
Chris Christie`s reaction to all of that last week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you still stand by Samson as your appoint owe?
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Strongly, firmly. And I
disagree with Pat Foye.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: There is Chris Christie standing strongly and firmly with
the political hack, that`s "The New York Times" phrase for him, the
political hack, Chris Christie has appointed to run the port authority.
And there is Chris Christie standing against Patrick Foye. Patrick Foye is
New York governor and who Cuomo`s top appointee to the port authority. He
is the executive director of the point authority and he is the person who
blew the whistle on what was happening at the George Washington bridge.
When he discovered the lane closures at the George Washington bridge,
he wrote a memo to David Samson and others, saying I am appalled by the
lack of process, failure to inform our customers, and Fort Lee. And most
of all, by the dangers created to the public interest. I believe this
hasty and ill advised decision violates federal law and the laws of both
O`DONNELL: David Samson claims he did not know about the lane
closures at the George Washington bridge until he read that e-mail from
Patrick Foye. But that is not the way he reacted to that e-mail. If he
didn`t know about the lane closures, as the chairman of the agency who
controls the bridge, why didn`t he thank Patrick Foye to alerting him of
this problem and the possible illegal activity of the George Washington
Instead, Dave Samson, taking time away from his self-enriching
lobbying activities, which include, of course, lobbying himself, wrote an
e-mail in his part-time capacity as chairman of the port authority about
Patrick Foye using old fashioned New Jersey dang gangster language, quote,
"in this case, he`s playing in traffic, made a big mistake."
Chris Christie knows about that e-mail. He knows that Patrick Foye
was completely right about what was happening at the George Washington
bridge. And Chris Christie knows that it was Patrick Foye who ordered an
end to what the Christie gang was doing at the bridge. Chris Christie
knows that the people of New Jersey have New Yorker Patrick Foye to thank
for stopping the traffic jam at the George Washington bridge that was ruing
their daily lives. No one in the Christie gang was going to do that. And
Chris Christie knows that.
The Christie gang and his chairman of the port authority were very
angry when Patrick Foye exposed what was happening at the bridge. And told
the truth about it. And Chris Christie knows that David Samson put his
anger at Patrick Foye in writing, in the words of that threat. He`s
playing in traffic. Made a big mistake.
Chris Christie knew all of that when he was asked last week, do you
still stand by David Samson? Chris Christie knew that. Just a week before
he was asked that question, he knew that the New Jersey star ledger
editorial had said port authority chairman David Samson should resign.
Samson appears to treat his port authority appointment as an extension of
his legal career or is it just coincidence that his firm`s lobbying
revenue, just $42,000 the year before Christie was elected governor and
hired Samson exploded to annual revenues of more than a million dollars
Chris Christie knew all that when he said he stands by David Samson.
And with "The New York Times" today saying Chris Christie should fire David
Samson now, both Chris Christie and David Samson have to know that the
chairman`s days are numbers at the port authority. Will Chris Christie
fire David Samson? Or will he allow David Samson to resign in scandal, the
same way he that he allowed David Wildstein to resign in scandal from the
port authority. And on the day that Samson leaves the job at the port
authority that he turned into a cash machine, will Chris Christie say about
him what he said about his old friend David Wildstein? Quote, "we are
grateful for his commitment and dedication to the important work of the
port authority, and thank him for his service to the people of New Jersey
and the region."
Now that David Wildstein is seeking immunity in order to testify about
the scandal, this is what team Christie says about David Wildstein now.
Quote, "David Wildstein will do and say anything to save David Wildstein."
David Samson should know that when Chris Christie says he stands by
you, there`s an expiration date on that promise.
O`DONNELL: After Darrell Issa did something in a house hearing that
we have never seen before and actually ending the hearing without allowing
a single member of the committee to speak a single word. The House of
Representatives did something today that we have never seen before.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Therefore be it resolved that the House of
Representatives strongly condemns the offensive and disrespectful manner in
which Chairman Darrell E. Issa conducted the hearing of house committee on
oversight and government reform on March 5, 2014 during which he turned off
microphones of the ranking member while he was speaking and adjourned the
hearing without a vote or a unanimous consent agreement.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Resolution qualifies. For what purpose does the
gentleman of Virginia seek recognition.
REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: Mr. Speaker, I move
to delay the resolution on the table.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Questions on the motion to delay the resolution on
the table. Those in favor say aye?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aye.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those who are opposed say no?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The nos have it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And right there, the Republicans actually lost that vote.
The vote was to lay it on the table which is to say throw it away. The
no`s won that vote. And so then the House then ran a roll call vote
instead of a voice vote on that motion to table. And it went according to
party lines. The house voted 211-186. Republicans against Democrats to
table the Issa resolution.
Joy Reid, this is historic stuff. I believe when we check all of the
record books here, we`re going to find that there probably has never been
since the invention of ethics committees in the house and Senate, there`s
never been a motion to condemn a sitting member of the house without having
first had that result come out of an ethics committee procedure. And a
condemnation for conduct during a hearing, I believe, is unprecedented.
JOY REID, MANAGING EDITOR, THE GRIO/MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes,
absolutely. This whole spectacle -- I mean, I have to say, it`s
unprecedented. I`m sure there has been rancor and yelling and, you know,
angry words in the house --
O`DONNELL: People have shut off mics. It`s rare, it`s happened once
every five years, something like that. But no one has ever, I have to
repeat this to the twitter world who don`t understand it. No one has ever
shut down a hearing without allowing any other member of the committee to
REID: And it was his opening statement. I mean, the people have to
remember, when chairman Darrell Issa opens this hearing in which he`s going
to do the fireworks. He is going to finally nail the IRS. His key witness
comes up, sits down, Lois Lerner. She takes the fifth amendment. He says,
you know what, hearing is done. He doesn`t allow the ranking member, the
Democrat Elijah Cummings, representative Elijah Cummings, to even make his
opening statement. Forget about even talking to witnesses or going
forward. He didn`t even let the ranking member make his opening statement.
And at the point, Congressman Cummings demands to try to make it, as
everyone knows, and so Issa cuts off his mic.
Well today, the chairwoman of the congressional black caucus sent a
letter to John Boehner, to the speaker of the House, saying that that was
beyond the pale. That that conduct by Chairman Issa was beyond the pale.
It was a violation of the rules and decorum of the house. She wanted him
censured. She wanted there to be some actual sanction. And he said no
ethics committee in which she wanted a direct sanction from the House
speaker to Chairman Issa. Didn`t happen. So then you had the Democratic
caucus attempt to do what you just show. To table a resolution condemning
And not only did that wind up getting tabled by a floor vote, they
didn`t let any of the Democrats talk. So the irony is the Democrats still
didn`t get to talk.
O`DONNELL: And you know, earlier in the day, John Boehner said look
at it. It looked like it was a perfectly OK procedure to me. The
Democrats are saying no, no, you can`t -- there`s rules, committee rules in
the house that says you can`t run a hearing that way. You can`t adjourn
actually without the consent of the committee. That`s in their rules.
And so, you know, the ethics committee members abstained from this
vote, as is proper in these kinds of things. But to see that happen the
day after what Darrell Issa did was really extraordinary. This 48 hours
has been amazing.
REID: It`s been amazing. And you have to wonder what John Boehner
thinks is normal procedure. I mean, there`s a lot of talk about Boehner
being a very poor speaker of the house. And he is not very good at it.
He`s obviously is not even managing the decorum.
And here is the biggest irony of all. Darrell Issa today essentially
said Elijah Cummings should apologize to him.
REID: He thinks he was the wrong party.
O`DONNELL: That`s Darrell Issa. That`s Darrell Issa.
"The Reid Report" airs weekdays at 2:00 p.m. on MSNBC with Joy Reid of
Joy Reid gets tonight`s last word.
Chris Hayes is up next.
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