updated 3/11/2014 3:00:22 PM ET 2014-03-11T19:00:22

THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
March 10, 2014

Guests: Nia-Malika Henderson, William Taylor, Julian Epstein, Alfred
Doblin, Michael Hiltzik

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Tonight, Russia tightens its grip on
Crimea, and a new prosecutor is focusing on team Christie.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: A critical reason for Putin`s aggression has
been President Obama`s weakness.

DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: He hasn`t got any credibility with our
allies.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: We have a weak and indecisive
president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The old adage of the politics stops at the water`s edge
is completely out the window.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Republican playbook in the last 60 years has often
been --

CRUZ: Number one, don`t demonstrate weakness for five years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That we`re going to be stronger on national security
and defense matters.

SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: That does distinguish me some.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a big debate within the Republican Party.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The deep divide in the party this week on foreign
policy.

CRUZ: I`m a big fan of rand Paul. I don`t agree with him on foreign
policy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Conservative Political Action Conference wrapped up
on Saturday.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is fresh off a CPAC straw
poll victory.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Foreign policy probably is the brightest line of
demarcation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But Rand Paul defended himself --

PAUL: I`m a great believer in Ronald Reagan. I`m a great believer in a
strong national defense.

CRUZ: Number one, don`t demonstrate weakness for five years.

PAUL: Everybody has their own style.

GRAHAM: We have a weak and indecisive president.

PAUL: I think this president hasn`t projected enough strength.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The old adage of the politics stops at the water`s edge
is completely out the window.

CHARLIE ROSE, CBS NEWS: Whatever happened to bipartisanship in foreign
policy?

REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: Well, we used to have it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: Tonight, sources tell NBC News that if the Russian Duma
approves the annexation of Crimea tomorrow, the United States and the
European Union may impose new sanctions against Russia. Crimean citizens
are expected to vote on Sunday on a referendum to secede from Ukraine and
join the Russian federation.

Over the weekend, additional Russian troops invaded Crimea, taking over
more military bases. On Wednesday, Ukraine`s new prime minister will visit
the White House and speak at the United Nations the following day.

Here in the United States, Republicans are tripping all over themselves to
find ways of blaming a Russian invasion on the president of the United
States, something they never did when Republicans occupied the White House.
Russian invasions have occurred during Republican presidencies from
Eisenhower to George W. Bush without a single Republican member of Congress
blaming that on the Republican president. But that was then.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GRAHAM: I just hope we don`t lose Alaska. The more Obama talks to Putin,
the worse we do.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: We cannot ignore the flawed foreign policy
of the last few years has brought us to this stage, because we have a
president who believes that by the sheer force of his personality, he would
be able to shape global events.

SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: The only thing rising in his la
land is the Russian empire.

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR: I know that the only time
that Vladimir Putin shivers is when he has his shirt off in a cold Russian
winter. That he`s not the least bit worried about what we think of him or
what we may pretend that we`re going to do to him.

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: As we see, the president of Russia
invade a neighboring country while our president wants to downsize our
military. You know, we have long thought and said this president is a
smart man. It may be time to revisit that assumption.

PAUL: Part of the problem is I think this president hasn`t projected
enough strength and hasn`t shown a priority to the national defense. That
is something that were I in charge I would.

(END VIDEO CLIPS)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, E.J. Dionne, columnist for "The Washington
Post" and a MSNBC political analyst. Nia-Malika Henderson also of the
"Washington Post." And William Taylor the former ambassador to Ukraine
under both President George W. Bush and President Obama.

E.J., I think we`re at a point that represents a very difficult challenge
for the media, the people who get to question these Republican politicians
who make these assertions about this happening exclusively in Russia and
the Ukraine, exclusively because of the American president, that this is so
patently ridiculously false on its face and has absolutely no logic
retroactively in the experience of Republican presidents.

How would you suggest the media deal with these kinds of assertions by
these Republican senators and congressmen?

E.J. DIONNE, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, they might mention the name Osama
bin Laden for starters. I mean, if Barack Obama bought Alaska today for $7
million, Lindsey Graham would say he paid too much. There is something
just astonishing about what`s going on out there.

You know, Bobby Jindal has a piece in the "National Review" where he
compares Barack Obama to Roosevelt at Yalta. Now, first of all, I haven`t
heard Republicans -- Republicans talked about Yalta all through the `50s.
I`m sure Obama likes being compared to Roosevelt.

But this is just crazy stuff. And if a Republican were president and
Democrats tried to blame an invasion on a Republican president by a
dictator, can you imagine what they would say? It`s just astounding.

O`DONNELL: Now, Rand Paul is wandering away from the Paul family`s
traditional position on foreign policy, which is completely non-
interventionist and downright isolationist. He`s trying to sound
mainstream Republican. Ted Cruz has been trying to push him back in the
Paul family direction.

But rand Paul wrote a piece defending his credentials as a mainstream
Republican on defense, but he did let slip this. In the middle of the
piece, he made reference to Ronald Reagan, which Republicans are never
supposed to mention. "Reagan strategically pulled back our forces after
the tragedy in Lebanon in 1983 that killed 241 Americans, realizing the
cost of American lives was too great for the mission."

Nia, Republicans are not supposed to mention that. Rand Paul did. And he
said that Reagan strategically pulled back our forces. It is unimaginable
what Republicans would be saying if a Democratic president had done that.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes. And I mean, this is a
fascinating piece by Rand Paul, who is trying to figure out what kind of
candidate he would be in 2016, a sort of new Republican. At least he said
that`s what a Republican Party would need to win in 2016.

So, here he is in this article, I think it appeared in Breitbart, telling
Republicans, that they have sort of a caricature of Reagan and they name-
drop him at will without even really knowing his full record and his
engagement with foreign leaders that often brought criticism from other
Republicans. This is a real rewriting of Republicans who too easily name-
drop Reagan and in some ways think if they name-drop them they can become
him.

And also, this idea that Reagan was just a leader who sort of ordered the
world just by his very presence and that Obama should somehow take his cues
from Reagan.

So, I thought this was a fascinating piece by Rand Paul.

O`DONNELL: Yes. Ted Cruz is the big "I am Reagan" guy these days. So
it`s very much rand Paul`s way of going after him.

So, let`s listen to what Robert Gates said, served as secretary of defense
under President Bush and under President Obama. What he said about the
president`s Republican critics these days. Let`s listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT GATES, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: Well, all I would say is, what I
was saying earlier in the week was simply that I thought in the middle of a
major international crisis that some of the criticism -- domestic criticism
of the president ought to be toned down while he`s trying to handle this
crisis. My own view is, after all, Putin invaded Georgia when George W.
Bush was president. Nobody ever accused George W. Bush of being weak or
unwilling to use military force.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Ambassador Taylor, can you imagine this situation in Ukraine
being different tonight if George W. Bush were president?

WILLIAM TAYLOR, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: No. And the situation
we have in Ukraine today is very interesting in that both the Republicans
and the Democrats have essentially the same policies, the same
recommendations for the president. No one -- neither side is talking about
putting American troops in Ukraine. Both sides are talking about
sanctions. No one is talking about doing anything very dramatic. But both
sides are talking about taking some military steps.

And indeed, President Obama has taken military steps. He sent air
equipment, air forces, air assets into Poland and into the Baltics. He`s
put AWACS up to monitor the flights over torch Ukraine and Russia.

So he`s taking these steps, and I think this would be happening under
either president.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what former Secretary Gates said about Russia`s
grip on Ukraine now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GATES: I do not believe that Crimea will slip out of Russia`s hands.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS: You think Crimea`s gone?

GATES: I do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Ambassador Taylor, do you think Crimea is gone?

TAYLOR: Crimea is not yet gone. Crimea is clearly occupied by Russian
troops. They`re all over the peninsula. Discussions, however, have not
yet taken place, and there is an expectation that they will take place.

It`s not impossible, not impossible that the negotiations could lead to a
Crimea that stays within Ukraine. And so, Ukraine would stay united. Even
if there`s a greater autonomy for Ukraine coming out of -- for Crimea in
Ukraine coming out of these discussions.

However, it`s also very possible that the Russians will stay in Crimea.

O`DONNELL: E.J. Dionne, with Secretary Gates saying it`s probably gone, we
have to certainly contemplate what happens if it is. This is territory
that Nikita Khrushchev simply gave to Ukraine. It used to be part of
Russia.

What are we to make of what is lost in this if Russia holds on to it?

DIONNE: Well, I think there`s a loss obviously in Russia grabbing a piece
of a sovereign country. But I think if you look at the longer term, and
there are a lot of folks starting to think this way, this could be a very
bad long-term move for Vladimir Putin. He has wanted to attract Ukraine as
part of this counter to the European Union he wanted to form. And he was
never going to really form that.

But what he`s done is he`s really hardened opinion inside Ukraine
including, by the way, among 134 Ukrainian Russians who still -- Russians
who are in the Ukraine and still want an independent Ukraine. So that in
the short term, he wins a victory, but in the long term, I think he may
come to regret if he`s still around, come to regret this move.

O`DONNELL: Nia, the public and fundamental support of, according to the
polls, of President Obama`s handling of the situation so far, and polls
indicate that American voters anyway, a majority don`t believe that much is
at stake in Crimea and don`t see any reason for us to take dramatic actions
in the result that could happen, for example, on the referendum if Crimea
votes to go with Russia. It just seems the public is hanging back here and
not eager to see us do much more.

HENDERSON: I think that`s right. And even if you think of what was
happening at CPAC and different Republicans talking about the Ukraine,
talking about America now, leadership and critiquing President Obama via
this incident with Ukraine -- even those statements didn`t get wild cheers
from the CPAC crowd and that would be a crowd that you would think would be
interested in sort of action over there.

So, I think you definitely have seen a war-weariness and there`s
bipartisanship among the American folks around what role that American
soldiers should have overseas.

O`DONNELL: Former Ambassador William Taylor, E.J. Dionne, and Nia-Malika
Henderson, thank you all for joining me tonight.

HENDERSON: Thank you.

DIONNE: Thank you, Lawrence.

TAYLOR: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the latest on the missing Malaysian plane and today,
Bridget Kelly speaks while she doesn`t say much and her lawyer gives an
exclusive interview to NBC News. And a new prosecutor is focusing on the
scandals at the Port Authority.

And in the "Rewrite" tonight, here in California yesterday, Democrats in
their convention voted to follow Colorado`s lead and legalize marijuana.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: A gun show in Orlando, Florida, this weekend invited George
Zimmerman to their events, to shake hands and sign autographs. Fewer than
20 people at the new Orlando gun show asked for a free autograph or photo
of Zimmerman posing with this dog.

The gun show had to move because the owners of the original venue refused
to host the event after getting complaints that gun show organizers had
invited George Zimmerman. The man running the event says he is going to
sue for $300,000 in lost gun sales because he had to find a smaller venue.
No word on how much George Zimmerman was paid for his appearance.

Up next, of the mystery missing Malaysian Airlines jet.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Tonight, the desperate search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
has expanded over a huge area, now both east and west of its takeoff point
in Kuala Lumpur. Ten nations are conducting the search by land and sea for
the missing jumbo jet, deploying some 34 planes and 48 vessels.

It has been an excruciating time for the family members of the 239 missing
passengers and crew.

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)

O`DONNELL: Outraged after days with no answers, some threw water bottles
at airline officials in Beijing, where the missing plane was supposed to
land.

Here`s NBC`s Tom Costello with the latest on the investigation.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM COSTELLO, NBC NEWS (voice-over): Off the coast of Malaysia, the search
for Flight 370 has now entered its fourth day. Dozens of ships,
helicopters, and planes running grid-like searches in the waters between
Malaysia and Vietnam.

So far, nothing. An oil sheen and debris spotted over the weekend ended up
being false leads. Now, sea conditions are expected to worsen.

On board the USS Blue Ridge, Commander William Marks.

CMDR. WILLIAM MARKS, US NAVY: That will make search conditions more
challenging. Although I can tell you our radars are very advanced and they
can actually negate a lot of that surface clutter. But it does present a
challenge for a big international effort.

COSTELLO: The last reported location for the Boeing 777 was over the water
halfway between Malaysia and Vietnam. But with Malaysian military radar
suggesting the plane may have started to turn back, the search zone is
expanding to include Malaysia`s mainland and now, the waters to the
northwest.

AZHARUDDIN ABDUL RAHMAN: Our aim to the aircraft will be intensified and
that is very important.

COSTELLO: Among the questions tonight, why would the plane turn back and
why didn`t the crew radio air traffic controllers?

A former senior NTSB investigator says a sudden loss of cabin pressure
could have incapacitated the crew and passengers within seconds, while the
plane continued flying.

GREG FEITH, FORMER NTSB SR. INVESTIGATOR: You really have to start looking
at a trajectory path, at a speed and an altitude that they were at, how far
could this airplane go? Well, of course, it had 7 1/2 hours of fuel on it,
but you have to be realistic. You have to come up with at least a rate of
descent.

COSTELLO: If the plane went down on land an emergency transmitter beacon
should be sending a signal.

But if the plane went down in the sea, underwater pingers attached to the
black boxes should be sending a homing signal.

Dukane Seacom of Florida makes black box pingers.

JEFF DENSMORE, DUKANE SEACOM: These devices are designed to activate in
the water. Once active, they produce a brief pulse once a second for 30
days at a depth of up to 20,000 feet.

COSTELLO: Meanwhile, the FBI is hoping to analyze the thumb prints of two
individuals who are thought to have used stolen European passports to board
the plane.

NBC justice correspondent Pete Williams.

PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Authorities say an Iranian
businessman who used to live in Thailand bought the tickets for the two men
but they say he wanted the cheapest fare possible, that he did not mention
any specific flight. And even though this man was from Iran, U.S.
officials say there was no indication so far this was terrorism.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: That was NBC`s Tom Costello reporting.

Joining me now, James Cavanaugh, a former ATF special agent in charge, and
MSNBC law enforcement analyst.

James Cavanaugh, what do you make of what we know about this so far?

JAMES CAVANAUGH, MSNBC LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Lawrence, you know,
it is a mystery. It`s too early to tell if this was some mechanical event,
you know, accident, fuel air explosion in the fuel tank, even a strange
thing like a missile from a military ship, which has happened before in
aviation. We just don`t know what`s happened.

Or could it be a criminal act? An act of suicide? An act of terrorism?
Any of those things are all open questions at the moment.

O`DONNELL: Well, the investigation would be ongoing on these two with the
fraudulent passports no matter what our state of knowledge would be at this
point. This is the kind of thing that investigators obviously have to go
right after.

CAVANAUGH: Exactly, Lawrence. What`s going to happen is the law
enforcement and intelligence experts are going to go right for that
passenger manifest. These two on the false passports, stolen passports,
they pop up right away.

But you`re going to have to work everybody on the plane, all the
passengers. You`re going to have to work the crew, a psychological autopsy
on the pilot and co-pilot. It`s not likely they`re involved in anything.
But we`ve had cases like Egypt air in the northeast where the pilot drove
the plane into the water.

So, those things have to be eliminated. They have to be worked carefully.

I think law enforcement will identify these two people traveling on a
stolen passport. And there could be other suspected passengers. I think
one of the seminal pieces in this case, Lawrence, is the fact that the
flight turned.

And if the pilots and experts can tell us, was that flight turned by a
human hand as opposed to an accident, damage to a rudder or something, then
that gives us at least the point to say that some human being in charge of
the operation of the aircraft was aware that there was trouble on board.
That it could be accidental trouble, it could be an attempted hijacking, it
could have been a person who stood up and said I had a bomb.

But the fact that the plane, it turned by a human hand, is foreknowledge.
So, you don`t have an instantaneous catastrophic explosion because you
would have no knowledge and you would have no time to turn an aircraft.

O`DONNELL: And you make a point that there could be others involved on the
plane. The hijackers on 9/11 were not using false passports.

CAVANAUGH: Exactly. I mean, that`s not necessarily required of a
terrorist. If the terrorist is a member of a cell and he`s not known to
anybody and he can board with his own name. Others who may be known would
want maybe a false identity.

It can`t be ruled out because you know, there was an NTSB expert on MSNBC
the other day who said that Malaysian Airlines had had some difficulty with
cockpit security, they relaxed in the flight deck door. You know, if so
someone could charge up there and put a knife to the pilot`s neck, order
the plane turned around, and, of course, he couldn`t use his radio and
there could be fight for the flight deck and a crash like in Flight 93 in
Pennsylvania.

We don`t know that. I`m not saying that`s what occurred. All I`m saying
is the facts won`t change. We have to look at those. If the plane was
turned by a human hand, that`s a very significant point.

O`DONNELL: Yes, we all wish we were not in such a speculative area --
arena on this. We know absolutely nothing about it at this point. This is
just one of the possibilities to explore.

James Cavanaugh, thank you very much for joining me tonight.

CAVANAUGH: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the woman who wrote the smoking gun e-mail in the
George Washington Bridge scandal will be in court tomorrow.

And in the "Rewrite" tonight, the Democratic Party here in California now
fully endorses the legalization of marijuana.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE ISIKOFF, NBC NEWS: Bridget? Hi. Mike Isikoff with NBC News. I just
wanted to ask you a few questions. How are you holding up during all of
this?

BRIDGET ANNE KELLY: I`m OK. Thank you.

ISIKOFF: How -- can you tell us how difficult an experience this has been
for you?

KELLY: I`m not going to comment.

ISIKOFF: Would you say that there`s more to the story that people haven`t
heard?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And now, you know what Bridget Kelly`s voice sounds like.

In the "Spotlight" tonight, team Christie goes to court. Bridget Anne
Kelly, who sent the famous e-mail "time for some traffic problems in Fort
Lee," will appear in court tomorrow in an attempt to block subpoenas for
more of her e-mails issued by the New Jersey special legislative committee
investigating the lane closures at the George Washington Bridge.

Today, in an NBC News exclusive Michael Isikoff asked Bridget Kelly`s
lawyer the question that Chris Christie chose not to ask her before
ordering her fired.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ISIKOFF: Can she explain what she meant by "time for traffic problems in
Fort Lee"?

MICHAEL CRITCHLEY, BRIDGET KELLY`S ATTORNEY: Michael, I`m certain that
there will become a day that that issue becomes totally relevant and she`s
compelled to answer. We`ll have a difficult about it. But at this point
in time I`m not going to discuss it.

ISIKOFF: You can`t shed any light on what she meant by those -- by those
words?

CRITCHLEY: The question is can I? That`s one question. The question is
will I? I will not.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Also today the "Wall Street Journal"
reported the surprising entry of the Manhattan U.S. attorney into the
investigation of the port authority. The New Jersey U.S. attorney,
complete with a team of FBI investigators, has been investigating the case
for weeks, and so it came as a surprise to legal observers that the U.S.
attorney just across the river would enter the case.

Initial reports indicated that the Manhattan U.S. attorney was pursuing
possible conflicts of interest involving the Chris Christie-appointed
chairman of the port authority, David Samson. It was on Thursday that the
"New York Times" joined this program`s two-month-old plea that David Samson
be fired or resign. "The New York Times" editorial cited David Samson`s
apparent conflict of interest in lobbying the port authority and in effect
lobbying himself on behalf of high-paying clients he represents. The next
day, according to the "Wall Street Journal," Manhattan U.S. attorney
delivered subpoenas to the port authority.

The "Journal" reported today, quote "Manhattan federal prosecutors were
specifically interested in any conflicts between Mr. Samson`s private
business interests and his actions as chairman of the sprawling bi-state
authority.

Joining me now is Alfred Doblin, editorial page editor for the "Bergen
Record" and Julian Epstein, Democratic strategy exist former chief counsel
for the house Judiciary Committee.

Julian, there are reports tonight indicating that the Manhattan U.S.
attorney has backed down and let the New Jersey U.S. attorney go forward on
this. But these are un-sourced, unnamed sources, unconfirmed. But an
extraordinary development to see two U.S. attorneys in separate districts
focusing on the same case.

JULIAN EPSTEIN, FORMER CHIEF COUNSEL FOR THE HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE:
Very extraordinary. And it is important for two reasons. First, Preet
Bharara, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan is a very media-savvy ambitious
U.S. attorney. It is very unlikely that he is going to get involved in
this investigation and particularly in the Samson matter unless he really
believes that there`s some there there.

So, it`s significant in that sense. It`s significant because you have the
potential of a widening scandal here. We know about Samson`s involvement
in Bridgegate. We also know from the "New York Times" and this show`s
coverage about conflicts of interest and the port authority, the bridge
deals, the Atlantic city airport deal.

We know Samson`s law firm was also involved in the Hoboken controversy.
Samson`s law firm was involved in the 2007 deferred prosecutorial agreement
with Chris Christie. There`s a long history of kind of cronyism there. So
it suggests one, that there`s a widening scandal, again, particularly with
Bharara getting involved.

And secondly, it also suggests that the noose is beginning to tighten
around a lot of people that are very close to Chris Christie. It`s not
just Samson. The noose is tightening on Wildstein. The noose is
tightening on Bridget Kelly with the hearing tomorrow. The noose is
tightening in a little bit on a lot of people that were very, very close to
Chris Christie during and after the September 9th to September 13th bridge
closure.

O`DONNELL: Alfred Doblin, the U.S. attorneys in both New Jersey and in the
southern district of New York and Manhattan are not commenting on any of
this. We have nothing On the Record from them. But it reminds us that the
port authority is a vast empire and the U.S. attorney in the southern
district of New York has particular elements of that empire that are unique
to his jurisdiction. And so it is conceivable that they are looking at
things involving David Samson that occurred in Manhattan, in port authority
interests in Manhattan.

ALFRED DOBLIN, EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR, THE BERGEN RECORD: Well, I think
it`s interesting because I think the empire is sort of crumbling a bit.
And the fact that it is a bi-state agency, one of the questions we`ve been
asking a lot in the record, while we understand we might not agree but we
understand why governor Christie is not saying anything, we`ve been
surprised that New York Governor Cuomo has been kind of silent because they
both have oversight on what`s happening. I mean, the ties that David
Samson has to clients and to a lot of deals that have involved the port
authority are troubling. We don`t know if there`s anything illegal. But
there`s certainly a lot of conflicts that are out there.

And the port authority has a tremendous amount of money, a tremendous
amount of influence, and it`s really always been somewhat of a non-
transparent organization. So I think what we`re seeing now is the layers
of the onion are being peeled away. It`s not a very attractive thing.
It`s not a very pleasant-smelling thing. And this is what we`re going to
be looking at I think for at least a couple of months to come.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

And Chris Christie has thought that David Samson is one of these
unquestionable pillars of the community. He certainly thought that during
his long press conference when he kept referring to talking to limb he as
if he was talking to the truth teller in this story. Let`s listen to what
Chris Christie said the last time he was asked about David Samson, which is
about two weeks ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your top port authority appointee David Samson was
target of some criticism by the P.A.`s executive director Patrick Foye.
Foye was asked by 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 stand by Samson as your
appointee?

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Strongly, firmly. And I disagree
with Pat Foye.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Alfred Doblin, "The New York Times" had not yet editorialized
saying that Samson should be fired or resigned. But you had, at your
newspaper, done that editorial that Samson has to go was in the couple of
New Jersey newspaper by that time. And there is Chris Christie pretending
that this is absolutely nothing questionable abut David Samson`s tenure
report card.

DOBLIN: I mean, yes. I mean, I could make a joke and maybe he thought he
said did he have the port authority rather than the moral authority and
that`s why he doubled down. But you know, what`s really kind of ironic is
if the tables were turned, you know, former U.S. attorney Chris Christie
would have been all over the governor of the state of New Jersey who had
someone in this high level of position with these ethical questions.

I mean, with so many things (INAUDIBLE), but the ethical questions are
real. I mean, the amount of money that Wolf & Samson, the firm that David
Samson co-founded, has made a lot of money during the years that Christie
has been governor. And I think that the trust that people want to have in
that position has been compromised. It`s conceivable the governor just
seems to want to just double down on someone who I think he would be
smarter to say, you know, you did a good job, you know, you`re a loyal
friend, but it`s time to go.

EPSTEIN: Two other quick points on that line if I may.

O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Julian.

EPSTEIN: So, Governor Christie made those comments after it was public
that there were various e-mails from his senior staff saying that Mr.
Samson was retaliating against people that were criticizing the bridge
closure like Mr. Foye. There are also e-mails indicating that Samson
referred to Foye as quote "playing in traffic" when he was complaining
about the illegality of the bridge closure. That`s point one.

Second point is, unlike independent counsels, U.S. attorneys who are
investigating this case now in New York and in New Jersey can investigate
with as broad a swath as they want. They don`t have to go back to get more
jurisdiction to widen the investigation.

So you have very fine journalists like Alfred here peeling back the onion
on all of Mr. Samson`s -- presumably all of his lobbying is going to come
under intense scrutiny now, and this scandal with just Samson alone, can
widen very, very quickly as you begin to, as Albert said, peel the onion
back.

O`DONNELL: Julian, quickly before we go, tell us what we are going to see
tomorrow in the court hearing about the Fifth Amendment protections for
Bridget Anne Kelly?

EPSTEIN: And Mr. Stepien are going to go in and make a case that the
documents where they may have indicated a written incriminating things
about themselves have a privilege under the Fifth Amendment against self-
incrimination. As we discussed on this show there is no fifth amendment
privilege against self-incrimination with respect to things that you write
in documents.

Now, there are some exception but here is going to be a difficult case.
And you`ve got a very good job in Mary Jacobson. It`s going to be a
difficult case for Stepien and Kelly because as we`ve said before these are
presumably government documents. The government knows of the incriminating
activity that both Stepien and Kelly have already been involved in and they
presumably know the documents exist.

Now, if Kelly and Stepien were to say there`s an entirely new angle to the
scandal that the government doesn`t know about and there are documents that
indicate and back up the fact that those an entirely new angle that the
government knows nothing about, they may have a claim.

I think that`s a steep hill for them to climb and I think the likelihood is
that Judge Jacobson will consider these individual documents on a case-by-
case basis with a pretty skeptical eye. So they may get one or two thrown
out, but I see the government, the legislative committees for the most part
prevailing.

O`DONNELL: Alfred Doblin and Julian Epstein, thank you both for joining me
tonight.

EPSTEIN: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, California has led the way in American politics on
many fronts, both conservative and liberal. And now California wants to
help lead us to the legalization of marijuana. That`s in the "rewrite."

And later, a special congressional election in Florida tomorrow has
everyone in Washington studying it for clues of how it will affect the
congressional elections in November. And Obamacare is in the center of
that campaign. That`s next. That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: A political action conference in Oregon has endorsed a ballot
measure legalizing marriage equality in Oregon, and it happened at a
Republican political conference. It`s called the Dorchester conference.
And yes, in Oregon they pronounce it Dorchester, named after the Dorchester
house in Lincoln City, Oregon, where they first had this meeting.

They voted 233 to 162 in support of the marriage initiative. A group of
social conservatives boycotted that 50-year-old event this time in protest.
Said one Republican attendee, holding this Dorchester without these
malcontents is like going deer hunting without an accordion. In other
words, who cares? That`s the full quote.

The "rewrite" on legalizing marijuana in California is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In the "rewrite" tonight, as California goes, so goes the
nation, on medical marijuana anyway. California was the first state to
make medical marijuana legal almost 20 years ago. Politically, California
has been ahead of the nation on many fronts politically, both conservative
and liberal. The anti-tax fervor that has seized the Republican party for
decades now was born not in Texas, not in Mississippi, not in one of the
country`s most conservative states, but right here in one of the country`s
most liberal states.

California, in 1978 when proposition 13 limiting increases in property
taxes won on a statewide ballot. California, the biggest automobile market
in the United States, wrote its own laws on automobile emissions, which
forced automobile manufacturers to build cleaner, more efficient engines
and helped lead the way to cleaner air not just in California but across
the country.

California is one of the first states to enact its own version of the dream
act. And yesterday at the state Democratic convention here in Los Angeles
the most popular governor in America, democrat Jerry Brown, got rolled by
the delegates, who despite their leader`s opposition unanimously approved a
new platform, which supports quote "the legalization, regulation, and
taxation of marijuana in a manner similar to that of tobacco or alcohol."

Governor Brown`s much younger lieutenant governor, who hopes to be governor
someday if Jerry Brown ever stops being governor, told the convention this
--

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LT. GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D), CALIFORNIA: It`s time for all of us to step up
and step in and lead once again in California, just as we did in 1996.
Remember, we did just that with medical marijuana. We were the first state
in this nation. But for almost 20 years now, we sat back, admiring our
accomplishment while the world, the nation, and states like Colorado and
Washington have passed us by. It`s time to legalize. It`s time to tax.
It`s time to regulate marijuana for adults in California.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: California is now in the unusual position of following other
states` leads on legalizing marijuana. The states of Washington and
Colorado have famously moved forward on legalizing marijuana without any
noticeable change in public behavior. And with the obvious benefit that
people are no longer getting arrested for doing things that the president
of the United States has done in his youth and that most people enforcing
anti-marijuana laws have done at some point.

And a study by the Rand corporation suggests that if marijuana were
legalized in California and the drug spilled from there to other states,
Mexican drug cartels would lose about a fifth of their annual income of
some $6.5 billion from illegal exports to the United States. But none of
that impresses Governor Brown.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. JERRY BROWN, CALIFORNIA: We have medical marijuana, which gets really
close to what they have in Colorado and Washington. The problem with
anything, a certain amount is OK, but there`s a tendency to go to extremes.
And all of a sudden if there`s advertising and legitimacy, how many people
can get stoned and still have a great state or a great nation? World is
pretty dangerous. Very competitive. I think we need to stay alert if not
24 hours a day, more than some of the potheads might be able to put
together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: How many people can get stoned and still have a great state or
great nation? Apparently, a lot. Let`s just rewrite a couple of those
words there.

If there`s advertising and legitimacy, how many people can get drunk and
still have a great state or a great nation? World is pretty dangerous.
Very competitive. I think we need to stay alert if not 24 hours a day,
more than some of the drunks might be able to put together.

Let`s make a deal, America. Don`t let anyone tell you they are in favor of
prohibition of pot without demanding to know why they are not in favor of
prohibition of cigarettes, which kill people, and alcohol, which kills
alcoholics and kills innocent adults and children at the hands of drunk
drivers every day.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Obamacare is issue one on the special congressional election in
Florida tomorrow. We will show you how that issue is playing in that
campaign. And we will give you ways to evaluate the success of the afford
able care act. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: We need to repeal every single word of Obamacare. They said this is
hopeless. Don`t you understand? Just move on. Just accept it. You can`t
do anything to stop this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, we can!

CRUZ: Yes, we can.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Ted Cruz, who gets his health insurance through his wife`s job
at Goldman Sachs, will see his position put to a vote in the special
congressional election in Florida tomorrow. When the longest-serving
Republican member of congress, bill young, died in October. Tomorrow`s
special election was scheduled. Both sides are watching it as an early
indicator of how the affordable care act will play in November`s
congressional elections. Here is Republican candidate David Jolley.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pinellas county`s David Jolley.

DAVID JOLLEY, REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE: I`m David Jolley, and I approve this
message because I want you to hear straight from me where I stand. I`m
fighting to repeal Obamacare right away.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And here is Democrat Alex Sink.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEX SINK, DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATE: We can`t go back to letting insurance
companies do whatever they want. Instead of repealing the health care law,
we need to keep what`s right and fix what`s wrong. I`ll work with
Republicans and Democrats for health care that`s affordable and works for
us.

I`m Alex Sink, and I approve this message.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Polls indicate it is a close race in this consistently
Republican district.

Joining me now, Michael Hiltzik, Pulitzer prize-winning business columnist
for the "Los Angeles Times."

Michael, so there`s a democratic candidate saying look, there`s good things
in here and you don`t want to rip it apart. It seems to me Florida would
be a market that cares about health care and accessibility of health care a
lot and they`d be pretty savvy consumers of it.

MICHAEL HILTZIK, LOS ANGELES TIMES: Well, I think that`s right. And as
you said, this is a market that knows its health care. Of course Medicare
is very important in that state. And in that district. And I think Alex
Sink has really talked about that a lot.

So whatever happens tomorrow in Florida, it`s going to be analyzed very
carefully. Maybe overanalyzed. But you know, one thing that really
strikes me about all this is that what we haven`t seen even now is a
Democrat to really stand up for this law and give it the full-throated
support that it needs. The Democrats have been running away from this law
and being really sort of mild about it far too long, and they really need
to stand up and address the --

O`DONNELL: In your analysis of how the law is currently working, how would
you make that case?

HILTZIK: Well, first of all, I`d show that -- first of all, we`re now in
the home stretch for 2014. And all the numbers we`re seeing show that this
law is really beginning to do exactly what it was supposed to do. We`ve
seen the percentage of uninsured people in America come down. We got that
from the Gallup organization the other day. We`ve seen the cost of health
care come down. We got that from Goldman Sachs the other day. And we`ve
seen more and more uninsured people signing up. And that is going to
accelerate.

I think we really need to point out all those things and put people out in
front who have benefited from this law. And we know there are millions and
millions of them. Far more than the horror stories that we`ve been hearing
from the Republicans and the conservatives.

O`DONNELL: And the Cruz position of repeal every word of this law. There
is -- that would get maybe 10 votes in Congress if it really was every word
of this law. There`s a vast majority that would uphold, for example,
making sure kids can stay on their parents` policies till 26 and a whole
bunch of other non-controversial items in here.

HILTZIK: Well, that`s right. And we`ve talked about this before, that if
you go down provision by provision of what`s in the affordable care act the
exclusive -- the end of exclusions for pre-existing conditions for
preexisting conditions, as you said, allowing children to stay on their
parents` plans till they`re 26, the end of the donut hole in Medicare
prescriptions, they get 70, 80 percent favorable ratings in every opinion
poll you`ve seen. And then when you go down the list and the question is
what do you think of Obamacare, the answer is, I hate Obamacare or I`m
suspicious of it. So what really has never been done by the Democrats or
the supporters is to show what is in Obamacare.

O`DONNELL: Michael Hiltzik of the `Los Angeles Times" gets tonight`s last
word here in Los Angeles. It is only fair.

Chris Hayes is up next.

END

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