Skip navigation

'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Read the transcript to the Wednesday show

  Most Popular
Most viewed

March 26, 2014

Guests: Howard Dean, Anthony Roman, Gabe Feldman, Alfred P. Doblin

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Howard Dean has just returned from
Ukraine and he will join with us a first-hand report. Also, what is being
called the most promising lead yet in the search for the missing Malaysia


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Obama wrapped up a major foreign
policy speech on Russia in Ukraine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The only set speech of his tour.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To form a united front against Russia.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To unified the West`s response to Russian

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For its land grab in Ukraine.

this is not another cold war that we`re entering into.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president has gone to Brussels with three aims
in mind.

OBAMA: Now is not the time for bluster.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The most important thing he had to do is show a
sense unity.

OBAMA: So long as we remain united.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The second thing he had to do is show support for

OBAMA: The United States and our allies will continue to support the
government of Ukraine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the final one, this is the trickiest one.

OBAMA: We will combine our pressure on Russia --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- is how do you contain Russia.

OBAMA: Stable peace will come through de-escalation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So the bottom line seems to be tougher sanction

OBAMA: Sanctions will increase. The isolation will deepen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But is Moscow listening?

OBAMA: The G7 will meet here in Brussels in June without Russia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three months ago, this trip to Brussels was all
about pushing this trade deal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A U.S./Europe trade deal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It will be more about the importance of the U.S.
rule in NATO.

OBAMA: This is not another Cold War we`re entering into.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is far more difficult than the Cold War.

OBAMA: There`s still a way for Russia to work with Ukraine to de-
escalate the situation with diplomacy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This isn`t going away. We`re going to be talking
about this for weeks, months if not years.


O`DONNELL: Russians who support Vladimir Putin might soon be
wondering whether annexing in Crimea was such a great idea. The World Bank
reports that the economic impact of annexing Crimea from Ukraine could
drive Russia into a sharp recession this year, even if the West stops short
of trade sanctions.

That news comes as President Obama spoke to an audience of 2,000 in
Belgium today. It was a previously scheduled speech that was supposed to
be about international trade, but became all about Russia and Ukraine.


OBAMA: Once again, we are confronted with the belief among some that
bigger nations can bully smaller ones to get their way. That recycled
maxim that might somehow makes right.

Russia`s violation of international law, its assault on Ukraine`s
sovereignty and territorial integrity, must be met with condemnation. Not
because we`re trying to keep Russia down but because the principles that
have meant so much to Europe and the world must be lifted up.

Over the last several days the United States, Europe and our partners
around the world have been united in defense of these ideals, and united in
support of the Ukrainian people. Together, we`ve condemned Russia`s
invasion of Ukraine and rejected the legitimacy of the Crimean referendum.
Together, we have isolated Russia politically, suspending it from the G8
nations and downgrading our bilateral ties.

Together, we are imposing costs through sanctions that have left a
mark on Russia and those accountable for its actions. And if the Russian
leadership stays on its current course, together we will ensure that this
isolation deepens.

Now is not the time for bluster. The situation in Ukraine, like
crises in many parts of the world does not have easy answers, nor a
military solution. But at this moment, we must meet the challenge to our
ideals, to our very international order with strength and conviction.


O`DONNELL: An op-ed piece in today`s "Wall Street Journal," Robert
Gates, President Obama`s former secretary of defense, who was also
secretary of defense for George W. Bush, writes, "Putin has thrown down a
gauntlet that is not limited to Crimea or even Ukraine. His actions
challenge the entire post-Cold War order, including above all the right of
independent states to align themselves and to do business with whomever
they choose. The only way to counter Mr. Putin`s aspirations on Russia`s
periphery is for the West also to play a strategic long game. That means
to take actions that unambiguously demonstrate to Russians that his world
view and goals and his means of achieving them over time will dramatically
weaken and isolate Russia."

Joining me now, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, former head of
the Democratic National Committee. He has just returned on Monday from his
second trip to Ukraine.

Howard Dean, I imagine when you have this experience of being over
there yourself in the thick of the action that`s going on there now, that
it must be odd to come back tot American media and probably half of what
all of us are saying is something you`d like to correct in if some way.

But beginning with the president`s speech today and where the story
stands as of today, what do you expect for the coming week of events?

HOWARD DEAN, FORMER DNC CHAIR: Well, I mean, it`s hard to say.
Nobody knows. And of course, everybody in Ukraine is on edge, as if
somebody came up and locked off Florida. So, their country is being
dismantled. And there are 30,000 Russian troops on the eastern border who
could do a lot worse things to them. So, they`re concerned.

Life in Kiev, the capital, is fairly normal, but this is overhanging
concern about whether they have a country or not going forward. So,
anything could happen. We don`t know what`s going to happen.

O`DONNELL: What is -- what is the feeling about Crimea? We all know
that Nikita Khrushchev basically gave it to Ukraine so that it was once
Russia before. What is the real attachment and the emotional attachment
level to Crimea that you picked up while you were in Ukraine?

DEAN: Well, I think you have to understand that this is a very
complicated part of the world. And over the last 1,000 year, there`s been
a Lithuanian empire, a Polish empire, a Russian empire, Ukrainian empire.
And so, Crimea and a lot of these other territories have gone back and
forth. Not to mention the Austrian-Hungarian empire for a long time.

So, you know, you have to be careful. One of the core pillars of
post-war Europe is you do not change borders. Instead of changing borders
and fighting over ethnicity and nationality and religion, the idea in post-
war Europe so there won`t be a Third World War that starts in Europe, have
differently ethnic people live together.

And that`s what the aim of the Ukrainian nation has been. Crimea is a
-- Crimea almost certainly did not vote the way it was reported by Putin.
There was no observation of the vote. They were voting with armed

There is -- but there is significant sympathy for the Russians in
Crimea. There were 25,000 Russian soldiers there by agreement between
Ukrainians and the Russians. The Ukrainians and Russians worked together
in Crimea. They did join naval exercises. So, this is a real shocker.

I have to say that there was one young man who came up to me as we
were having our many, many meetings and said -- he was about 30 years old.
And he said, "I am Crimean. I married a Tatar wife. We were expelled from
Crimea. The Russians took my house. I was raised by two communist parents
who always told me that America was the enemy and Russia was our friend.
And I just want to thank you, I realize now I was wrong."

So I think this is the end of the day that there`s going to be a lot
of buyer`s remorse among those Crimeans that thought this was a good idea.

O`DONNELL: The president had to take on the question of Iraq today,
because around the world and certainly in Russia, they`re saying, look, the
United States went into Iraq, now they`re complaining about us going into

But as you pointed out, the real issue is the changing of borders.
And the United States did not change borders in Iraq. President Obama
pointed that out today. Let`s listen to that.


OBAMA: Russia has pointed to America`s decision to go into Iraq as an
example of Western hypocrisy. Now, it is true that the Iraq war was a
subject of vigorous debate, not just around the world, but in the United
States as well. I participated in that debate, and I opposed our military
intervention there.

But even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international
system. We did not claim or annex Iraq`s territory. We did not grab its
resources for our own gain. Instead, we ended our war and left Iraq to its
people, in a fully sovereign Iraqi state that could make decisions about
its own future.


O`DONNELL: Howard Dean, some very big differences between what the
United States has done in Iraq and what Russia is doing in Crimea.

DEAN: Well, it`s true. But Iraq, let`s not mince words, Iraq was
probably the largest foreign policy blunder in the history of the United
States, with the possible exception of the war of 1812 where we got our
Capitol burned down. We turned Iraq into a conflagration and a satellite
of Iran. So that wasn`t such a good adventure. And it was a problem.
This is an example of why it was a problem.

I tell you what the hope is. I think the president is doing --
notwithstanding Romney and all these other people, I think the president is
doing exactly the right thing. He`s got sanctions on these banks -- these
sanctions are the same sanctions that crippled Iran`s economy and brought
them to the negotiating table over nuclear weapons.

The only bank he has sanctions on has already disrupted the use of
MasterCard and Visa inside Russia because they can`t do business with any
American bank. My guess is that this -- our president has told President
Putin that if there`s any further incursion into the rest of Ukraine, that
they`ll put the same sanctions on Russian banks that they have on Iranian
banks. That will do incredible damage to the Russian economy. And my
guess is Putin`s friends, who are with this bank that we do have sanctions
on are telling him that the consequences of further action are going to be

So, we can`t commit troops, I agree with the president. But I think
we can get a lot tougher with really meaningful sanctions. And hopefully,
that will give Vladimir Putin pause.

O`DONNELL: Howard Dean, thank you very much for your time tonight.

DEAN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, search planes are flying over a new area where
satellites may have photographed in the south Indian Ocean. The latest on
Malaysia 370 is next.

And college football players at one school win big. The National
Labor Relations Board says they can form a union because they really are
employees of the university.

And Chris Christie says he will release a report tomorrow that will
answer all of the important questions about the George Washington Bridge
scandal. He said that tonight on New Jersey radio. You know, it`s that
report where he hired a friend`s law firm to write the report and use
taxpayer money to pay for it? Nothing scandalous about that.


O`DONNELL: Another day, another Darrell Issa hearing about the IRS.
But this one really surprised us. Really good. Darrell Issa, as you`ve
never seen him, is coming up in "The Rewrite."


O`DONNELL: It is now 10:15 a.m. in the area where search teams have
been trying to find evidence of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Search teams
are now focused on an area where a French satellite image shows what
appears to be 122 pieces of debris. Some as large as 75 feet long floating
more than 1,500 miles off the coast of Perth, Australia.

The defense and acting transport minister from Malaysia said this.


still the most credible lead that we have. It now seems to corroborate
some form of objects and debris. And if it is confirmed to be MH370, at
least then we can move on to the next phase of deep-sea surveillance search
and rescue.


O`DONNELL: But those satellite images were taken on Sunday before a
cyclone hit the area with high winds and waves. That storm coupled with
ocean depths of two to three miles makes recovering and then reassembling
the possibly downed airplane that much more difficult. One oceanographer
says the debris could have floated more than 300 miles away from the
original crash site.

Last October, the mother of -- last night, the mother of missing
passenger Philip Wood spoke with NBC`s Dallas affiliate KXAS.


SONDRA WOOD, MOTHER OF PHILIP WOOD: Don`t ever forget to hold close
the people you love. And I -- certainly, God gave me that opportunity that
last week with Philip. I guess the greatest fear of a mother is -- and I
can`t let my mind go there too much, is what happened on the plane. You
can`t help but hope as long as the plane is not found. I mean, you just
don`t want to give it up.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Anthony Roman, a former commercial pilot
and flight instructor.

Anthony, this evidence seems to be holding. This is the longest we`ve
gone without changing the story, basically, and saying OK, never mind that.
What is it that`s so compelling about this evidence? And are we getting
anything to add to it now?

factors that make it incredibly compelling. One, we have new data from the
Inmarsat company regarding the pings which should tell us more or less the
location of the aircraft. There was a partial ping 10 minutes after the
last hourly ping that narrows the position that the aircraft could be in

In addition to that, we know the speed more or less of the aircraft
from the pings. We know its direction and location.

So, we know how much fuel is onboard. That tells us more or less
where it ran out of fuel, but there are complications. And those
complications include the fact that that aircraft can glide 200 linear
miles without any fuel or the engines running. We don`t know if it did.

O`DONNELL: What kind of altitude would it need to have a 200-mile

ROMAN: About 32,000 feet and that`s the altitude --

O`DONNELL: The standard altitude for that plane.

ROMAN: That`s exactly right.

In addition to that, that is 144,000 square miles just from the glide
ratio. That begins to tell you how complex this search is.

We have other complicating factors. There`s a polar Antarctic current
that circumnavigates Antarctica. It travels at one to two miles an hour.
It then has ocean eddies within the current that run semicircular. It goes
from west to east.

That means that if the aircraft, or the debris, was photographed on
Sunday, that could have traveled 70 to 144 miles and that debris pattern
could now be spread out much, much further. Looking at that satellite we
can see that it is consistent with a water disaster of a major airline.
Whether it is or not --

O`DONNELL: We can actually go that far? That the major airliner

ROMAN: Yes. Yes, we can. It is consistent with what we`ve seen
before in debris patterns.

O`DONNELL: What tells us that as opposed to this is debris that has
fallen off of freighters, tankers, or some other kind of collection of
debris. Is it the fact that it is so collected? It is so coherent?

ROMAN: It is so collected, there are so many pieces and we have not
seen that pattern before, and there are satellites covering and
photographing this area. Aircraft and ships searching the area, and we
know that the existing debris pattern in that area of the ocean is
consistent with very small debris -- bottles and components broken down
from bottles and plastics and other small debris. Not large chunks --

O`DONNELL: You hear people saying this just shows you how much junk
there is in the ocean. There`s no that much junk concentrated in one spot
in chunks that big.

ROMAN: Well, it`s always possible that a large amount of cargo fell
off of a ship and there it is.

But it`s very, very compelling because it is not consistent with the
debris patterns in that particular ocean and that particular location of
the ocean.

O`DONNELL: Anthony Roman, thank you very much for updating us

ROMAN: My pleasure.

O`DONNELL: Coming up: the National Labor Relations Board makes a
shocking decision that could be the first step to college athletes actually
getting paid to play. That is next.

And Darrell Issa surprised everyone at yet another hearing about the
IRS today. We will show you the remarkable, remarkable Darrell Issa video
in tonight`s "Rewrite."


O`DONNELL: In "The Spotlight", a stunning development in college
sports. Today, the Chicago district of the National Labor Relations Board
ruled that players for Northwestern University`s football team are
employees of the school and therefore can vote on whether to unionize. The
case was brought to the labor relations board by the college athletes`
players association, the United Steelworkers Union, and Kain Colter, former
quarterback for the Northwestern Wildcats.

The ruling found, quote, "players receiving scholarships to perform
football-related services for the employer under a contract for hire in
return for compensation are subject to the employer`s control and are
therefore, employees." The employer, of course, being Northwestern

Here`s the labor board`s reasoning. Quote, "It cannot be said the
employer`s scholarship players are primarily students. The players spend
50 to 60 hours per week on their football duties during a one-month
training camp prior to the start of the academic year. And an additional
40 to 50 hours per week on those duties during the three or four-month
football season.

Not only is this more hours than many undisputed full-time employees
work at their jobs, it is also many more hours than the players spend on
their studies. Northwestern University has until April 9th to file an
appeal. A statement released by the school says, quote, "Northwestern
believes strongly that our student athletes are not employees, but
students. Unionization and collective bargaining are not appropriate
methods to address the concerns raised by student athletes. Northwestern
plans to appeal today`s decision to the full national labor relations board
in Washington, D.C."

Joining me now is Gabe Feldman, director of the sports law program at
Tulane University. He`s also a professor with Tulane Law School, and a
sports law contributor to

Gabe Feldman, I`ve got to tell you, I would have, I think, 24 hours
ago, maybe earlier today said, no, I don`t think college football players
should be able to unionize, but when you read what the labor relations
board is actually saying, I`m not sure how this could come out any other
way. They point out the players are performing services for an employer
under a contract for hire in return for compensation. And it seems to me
if you`re doing that, you are going to get these kinds of organizing

argument student athletes have been making for years. The problem with the
argument is that no court and the NLRB hadn`t accepted it.

We`ve seen a recent type of case that was similar involving graduate
assistance where the board and the courts ruled against them. I think if
you accept compensation -- excuse me, if you accept a scholarship as
compensation, it becomes much easier to argue that student athletes are
doing work, are performing services for compensation and they are under the
control of these employers, these schools. If that`s the case, then they
do seem to fit the literal definition of employee.

The problem is, from the perspective of the student athletes for
years, that`s just not how anyone viewed them. They viewed what they were
doing on the field or the court as part of their role as being a student.
That you`re not only in class but you`re also play on the field. But
that`s just part of your responsibility, part of your role as a student.
It doesn`t make you an employee. And if you are considered an employee,
then that would destroy college athletics.

There`s just a fundamental viewpoint of what these student athletes
were doing. And it started with the fact that they were student athletes.

What the regional director in Chicago said today they should be seen
as athlete students. That they really have to put sport first and school
second. And if that`s the case, there`s no reason we shouldn`t see them as

But let`s just be clear -- this was not the National Labor Relations
Board ruling this. This was a regional director in Chicago. This ruling
will now be appealed to the full board. Even if the full board agrees or
disagrees, we`re likely to see an appeal to federal court, then it will
probably take years to wind its way through federal court.

So, we`re at a very early stage and we have one regional director in
Chicago making this ruling, which is really inconsistent in a lot of ways
with the way that the courts and the board have seen this in the past. So
let not get too far down the road and saying this is a turning point in
college athletics. It may be the start of the turning point, but it`s not
there yet.

O`DONNELL: Yes. It is the There big breakthrough that starts us down at
this road. And then may be reversals along that road and there may be some
other progress along the road.

But, so it turns out -- I think this is the conceptual part that`s not easy
to grab right away is that you can unionize, according to this
interpretation, even though you are not being paid a salary or wages. You
can unionize, on this basis, because you are receiving this composition,
which is the scholarship.

FELDMAN: Right. It`s just a different form of payment. It`s not a
traditional form in wages like you said. It`s payment in the form of
scholarship. And what`s interesting is NCAA has been saying this for years
and supporters of the NCAA that student athletes do get a significant
benefit from their schools. And that benefit is the scholarship. And now
it`s really being used against them.

OK, we accept that`s a monetary benefit. That is a monetary benefit. We
can put that in different terms. It`s a monetary benefit which means it is
compensation. If you`re compensating us or paying us and you have control
over us and we`re doing work for you, well, that means we`re employees.
And I think it just took a different way of looking at things for the
regional director to reach that conclusion.

O`DONNELL: And they do. These universities and teams do, in effect, have
the power to fire these players as well as hire them. These words sound
odd in setting of team sport, but that`s really what`s going on here.

Gabe Feldman, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

FELDMAN: Yes. My pleasure.

O`DONNELL: Coming up in "the rewrite," Darrell Issa is actually getting a
little closer to the source of the real scandal at the IRS.

And later, all of your questions, all of them in the Chris Christie
investigation will be answered tomorrow. Chris Christie said that tonight
on radio.

And in answering those questions tomorrow, Chris Christie will be
exonerated, at least that`s what he thinks.


O`DONNELL: Kendrick Allen Westbrook was born in Los Angeles, California,
in 1925, which made him just old enough to catch the last two years of
World War II. He headed off to Germany with the army corps of engineers
when he was 18-years-old. He later picked up a degree from San Diego State
University, thanks to the GI bill. He met Shirley Vaughn in San Diego and
married her six weeks later in Reno where he died last week at the age of
88 with Shirley and his children and grandchildren by his side. His motto
was, just happy to be here.

His family`s announcement of his passing ended this way. In lieu of
flowers, the family asks for donations to be made in Ken`s name to KIND,
kids in need of desks which provides tens of thousands of desks to hundreds
of schools in Africa to students who would otherwise work on the dirt
floors of overcrowded classrooms. Ken received a donation on his behalf
from his son Chris in 2013 and eagerly supported the cause.

We received this e-mail from his daughter, Renee. Dear "Last Word" team,
my wonderful World War II Vet retired Wood Shop Public Teacher father
Kendrick Westbrook from Sparks, Nevada, passed away one week ago today. He
was a huge MSNBC fan with real fondness for Rachel Maddow and we learned
about the desks program through the "Last Word."

We, as a family, have asked for donations from friends and family to honor
his life work and his name to the desks project. He received the donation
in his name for Christmas this past year which introduced him to this
wonderful project. And as a woodworker, teacher, and world traveler, he
would be delighted with this poetic arrangement.

Well, I`ll be making a donation tonight right after the show in memory of
Kendrick Westbrook. You can always donate to the KIND fund by going to the You can donate a desk in the name of a friend, as
a birthday gift. And UNICEF will send a personalized e-mail to your gift
recipient notifying him or her of your donation. Or of course, you can
donate in memory of loved ones as many of you have including the Westbrook


O`DONNELL: Another day, another Darrell Issa hearing about the IRS. But
before we get to today`s hearing, there was news today about the last
hearing that Chairman Issa held on the IRS, the one where Darrell Issa did


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, we are adjourned.

REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: Mr. Chairman, I have a statement. I
have a procedural question, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, I have a
procedural question. Mr. Chairman, you cannot run a committee like this.
You just cannot do this. This is -- we are better than that as a country.
We`re better than that as a committee. I have asked for a few minutes to
ask a procedural -- and now you`re turning me off.

ISSA: We have adjourned.


O`DONNELL: The Democrats quickly realized that Darrell Issa`s
unprecedented decision to adjourn the hearing without allowing any other
member of the committee to speak was a fatal procedural error in Darrell
Issa`s mission to get former IRS official Lois Lerner to speak.

Lerner, you will recall had invoke the fifth amendment and Issa simply gave
up trying to ask for anymore question and adjourned the hearing. The
Democrats consulted House parliamentary experts including the former House
counsel Stan Brand who advised them to write a letter to Speaker Boehner
explaining that Congressman Issa`s interpret and unprofessional conduct at
the hearing for which he was later forced to apologize had forfeited
Congress` right to pursue contempt of Congress charges against Lois Lerner.

Here`s how Stan Brand explained it here in the "Last Word."


STAN BRAND, FORMER HOUSE GENERAL COUNSEL: Before a witness can be held in
contempt, they have to be given, in the words of the Supreme Court, a
clear-cut choice between compliance and not compliance. So before the
House could successfully prosecute her, leaving aside her claims of fifth
amendment immunity, they never gave her a direct order and overruled her
objection. They simply adjourned the hearing and moved on.


O`DONNELL: OK. Let`s take another look. Let`s see if Darrell Issa gives
Lois Lerner a chance to answer the question before he adjourned that
meeting. Here is the instant replay version.


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 we
(INAUDIBLE) adjourned.


O`DONNELL: No expectation. That was it. Issa asked Lois Lerner a few
questions. She invoked the fifth amendment and as Stan Brand said, he
never gave her a direct order to answer, and he never then overruled her
objection to that order which the Supreme Court has said is necessary.
That`s the necessary sequence in order to proceed to a contempt of Congress
case against such a witness.

Today, Speaker Boehner`s office of general counsel of the House of
Representatives finally replied to the Democrats and Stan Brand`s
insistence that Chairman Issa violated the necessary procedures for
establishing a contempt of Congress case.

The Republican council to the Republican house, not surprisingly, said
today that a contempt of Congress case against Lois Lerner is still
technically viable. So who`s right? John Boehner`s council to the House
of Representatives or Tip O`Neil`s former council to the House of
Representatives Stan Brand?

I`m going with Stan Brand.


BRAND: The case is made clear. He`s got to overrule her objection in an
explicit way and give her the opportunity to comply or not. Having failed
that --

O`DONNELL: And the court looks for all of that specifically in the record
of the hearing.

BRAND: The congressional record in enforcing these con cements is abysmal.
Eighty percent of them are acquitted, dismissed or reversed on appeal
because of just such infirmities. That`s the record of these cases in the
federal district courts.


O`DONNELL: In today`s hearing, Darrell Issa was on his very best behavior.
His best behavior ever in that hearing room on this subject. As he
promised us the last time he was on this program, Congressman Jerry
Connolly focused on the real scandal at the IRS, which happened in 1959.


REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D), VIRGINIA: One of the problems we`ve got here is
an adverb. The word used in the statute is exclusively. A social welfare
exclusively devoted to that purpose. Is that correct?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s correct.

CONNOLLY: And yet, despite the fact that Congress wrote that adverb into
the law, IRS took upon itself long before your tenure to actually interpret
that meaning primarily. Is that correct?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s correct.

CONNOLLY: Now, if I said to my spouse, honey, we have an exclusive
relationship and I mean by that 49 percent, I would probably have problems
in my relationship to her and to me exclusively means just you all the
time, a 100 percent.

So how in the world did we get to a situation where the IRS on its own
outside of statutory authority decided to interpret as primarily? Because
to me, that`s part of the problem. Exclusively ought to mean exclusively.
And if Congress wants to change that, we should change the law. But I
don`t remember Congress investing the IRS with the authority to actually
decide to interpret it radically different. Not just well, kind of a
little fudge factor here.

This is radically different. And it seems to me therein is the problem.
Because clearly some of these organizations are not exclusively social
welfare agents. I mean, clearly, they`re largely designed to be political,
partisanly (ph) political. That concern the chairman has, over partisan
communication. And I share that concern.

And all too many of these organizations hide under the umbrella of social
welfare when, in fact, what they really mean is partisan political


O`DONNELL: The new IRS commissioner explained that he wasn`t at the IRS in
1959 when exclusively was changed to primarily in the guidelines for IRS
agents enforcing 501-c-4 law.

And then something truly amazing happened when the commissioner finished
his answer. Chairman Issa actually engaged in a civil discussion with a
Democrat, with Congressman Connolly about what the IRS actually did in

Chairman Issa allowed Congressman Connolly to engage in a friendly
colloquy, even after Congressman Connolly`s time had expired. No gaveling
down the democratic congressman this time. Instead, they had a sane,
sensible conversation.


CONNOLLY: Thank you, my time is up, Mr. Chairman. I certainly hope after
all (INAUDIBLE), we actually might come together in a bipartisan basis.

ISSA: I certainly hope so. And I hope the gentleman remembers that 501c
4s are not tax exempt to the contributors. So they really are no different
than any other corporation that spends all its money doing anything. But
it is an interesting question of what social welfare was in 1959 and
whether promoting is a reduction in smoking or something else would have
been considered political prior to the creation of the federal election

CONNOLLY: And, you know, Mr. Chairman, to your point, we may even decide,
frankly, look, let`s just have a new category that -- you want to be
political and you want to hide who your donors are -- hopefully you don`t -
- there`s this category. So that we`re not playing frankly with words and
in a sense, all being complicit in this disingenuous exercise. So I take
the chairman`s point and would add to it. Thank you.

ISSA: I thank the gentleman. We now go to the gentleman from Ohio.


O`DONNELL: He thanks the gentleman and moves on? That is the first time
that Darrell Issa has acknowledged that the real problem here began in
1959, something that viewers of this program have known from the start of
this story.


O`DONNELL: Chris Christie says he has seen and has been reading the
investigation report into the bridge scandal that was completed by one of
his friends. And Chris Christie says it will answer all of your questions.
As long as you don`t have questions for the half a dozen people involved in
shutting down those lanes because they didn`t answer any questions. That`s



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You were widely thought of as a stock presidential
contender. Is it something you still think about?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you have your quiet moments, is it something you
think --

CHRISTIE: I`m certainly at this point not going to make any decision on

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You always said you never ruled it out.

CHRISTIE: Right, and I won`t at this point. There`s certain will I
nothing that`s happened in the last, you know, number of months since we
talked about this the last time. It would make me think any differently
about my ability to be able to pursue that job or to perform it.


O`DONNELL: He`s a funny guy. You` got to give him that. Of course,
voters have changed their minds about Chris Christie`s ability to perform
in the presidency or even reach the presidency as all polls show.

But on tonight`s version of ask the governor on New Jersey radio, WKXW,
Chris Christie still wanted to pretend he could successfully run for
president. Tomorrow, the law firm that Chris Christie commissioned to
conduct an investigation into his own administration`s involvement with the
George Washington bridge lane closures will release its findings.

On Monday, "The New York Times" reported that the review uncovered no
evidence that the governor was involved in the plotting or directing of the
lane closings.

And on the radio show tonight, Christie said repeatedly he hadn`t finished
reading the report and therefore didn`t want to comment but then went on to
make a very big promise.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you know at this point without getting into
specifics, Bill Stepien, Bridget Kelly, were they interviewed for this

CHRISTIE: No. Bridget Kelly, Bill Stepien, Bill Baroni, David Wildstein,
Dawn Zimmer, Mayor Socolich, all refused to be interviewed. Request form
them though, but they all refused to be interviewed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yet, according to "The New York Times," the report
exonerated you. But you understand the skepticism. If those are so pretty
key figures in this. If they weren`t interviewed, how do you come to that

CHRISTIE: Well, because you don`t just come to conclusions from
interviews. There`s lots and lots of documents that involve all those
people which have been part of the public record and will be becoming a
part of the public record going forward. And you can discern a lot from
that. Some of those, at least three of them, have asserted their
constitutional right not to speak. If they continue to do that, no one
will ever speak to them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So there may be questions surrounding this, which you
concede, that we may simply never know the answers to.

CHRISTIE: Right, but I don`t think the important questions. I think all
the important questions will be answered.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Alfred P. Doblin, editorial page editor for
"the Bergen Record."

According to your editorial newspaper, you have your doubts about all the
important questions being answered by this report.

I think -- you know, maybe it depends on how we define important. You
know, the governor from what we heard him say and what his office put out
is saying this is an exhaustive comprehensive report produced by people he
hired, people who have ties to him. I mean, they`re smart attorneys.
We`re not commenting that what we might read in the report is false, but it
seems hard to understand that how the key players who are not interviewed,
without those people being involved, how this will be comprehensive and

I mean, we may find out a little bit more of who ordered what at what time,
but will we find out why this happened? Will we find out why this actually
engineered it? and the governor hasn`t said whether we will understand
completely whether he knew anything about it after it was plotted and

There`s a lot of time between September and January 8th when my paper first
wrote this story. So I don`t see how all questions are going to be

O`DONNELL: You know, I said from the start about this report, it`s utterly
meaningless to document for many reasons. But in particular it will be
completely meaningless if they do not release the interview transcripts
with the report.

If they just want to selectively quote little things that Chris Christie
said to them or that Samson, David Samson, the chairman of the port
authorities, said to them without releasing the full transcript of every
question they asked David Samson, then this is a completely meaningless

DOBLIN: Right. And we don`t know. They may, you know, they maybe a full
public transcript. We have no clues on those 300 pages to this report. I
also think, you know, no one is going to have -- no one is going to be
under oath, right? When they are thinking doing this. I mean, how
authentic is this? I mean, I think the end of the day, the only
investigation that`s really going to be believed as authentic,
comprehensive and the real deal will be the one that Paul Fisher, the U.S.
attorney --

O`DONNELL: Are they going to release more e-mails than we already have? I
mean, do they have control of all sorts of e-mails within the governor`s
office, the actual official --?

DOBLIN: Well, my understanding from the release the governor`s office, I
think, put out on Monday or Tuesday, you know, saying the governor turned
over his cell phone, his iphone.

O`DONNELL: So we`re going to see all that?

DOBLIN: I`m assuming. Well, we don`t know if we`re going to see it. But
we`re told the attorney the governor hired saw it. So one could believe
that they have had access to far more information than anyone has had up to
date. Whether that information clarifies everything, I don`t know. But I
do think the source of this information coming from a law firm that is
hired by the governor, you know, makes it less than unbiased.

O`DONNELL: We have a lot of reading to do tomorrow.

Alfred P. Doblin gets tonight`s "Last Word."

Thanks, Alfred.

DOBLIN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes is up next.


<Copy: Content and programming copyright 2014 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Copyright 2014 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>


Sponsored links

Resource guide