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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

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May 6, 2014

Guests: Nia-Malika Henderson, Comfort Ero, Jennifer Soba Pearse, Lynn
Sweet, Matt Katz

ARI MELBER, GUEST HOST: Today, we got a look at the possible future of the
Democratic Party. And I`ll tell you about it.

But first, let them take a selfie.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Overcoming the enthusiasm gap.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The enthusiasm gap that Democrats are worried about.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Single women, minority voters, young people, they
don`t typically turn out in midterms.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Midterm elections general skew, older, whiter and to
more Republican.

year which everybody I should hope be paying attention to. It`s, you know,
midterm elections.







UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She`s extremely formidable.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those Clinton poll numbers can`t have any Democrats
have a chance.

and 2016. And anything can happen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We see Hillary Clinton in 2008, was a front-runner like
we`ve never seen.

OBAMA: You may have heard the other day, Hillary had to dodge a flying
shoe at a press conference.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary Clinton heading to 2016 is a front-runner like
we`ve never seen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Democrats are very much united around her.

CLINTON: I am somebody who has to mull things over.

It`s important that we make progress.

There is less resistance to the idea of a woman president.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In 2016, would you be, would you prefer to be called
Madam President or Mrs. President?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ready or not. Hillary Clinton has a new answer to
the 2016 question.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Running for president. How do you make those

CLINTON: Great question, because obviously I`m thinking about that right



MELBER: I`m Ari Melber, in for Lawrence O`Donnell.

Democrats focusing on this year`s midterm elections may have gotten a boost
today from someone who`s definitely not on the ballot this fall.


CLINTON: I have a little bit of experience in knowing that it can get
discouraging when you are grappling with big challenges. That`s called


I think we are in for another one of the periods in our history where we
have to stand up and fight for what we want to see in America again. We
have to deal with those hollowed out communities. We have to deal with
those people in despair. We have got to find work for the 6 million young
Americans who are neither in work or in school, whose whole futures can be
adversely affected by that.


There is a chorus of doubters and minimalists who say, look, we can`t do
big things anymore. Our politics are too broken. Our budgets are too
tight. Our horizons are too small.

That`s not the America that I see.


MELBER: What you have there is Hillary Clinton today at a health care
summit outside of Washington, taking an implicit swipe at Ted Cruzes and
Rand Pauls of the political world and their view of austerity politics, all
without having to say their specific names.

Hillary Clinton isn`t relying on her 2008 "play it safe" strategy here of
pragmatism that she used over then candidate Obama`s idealism. Her new
message is basic and it`s optimistic. It`s time for leadership.

And Clinton used her biggest asset, this mounting belief that she could be
the future of the Democratic Party to reinforce the most important domestic
policy for Democrats today, Obamacare.


CLINTON: And there is so much misinformation about Affordable Care Act,
the economic stimulus, you name it, all of these big political issues. And
there is a very effective campaign to confuse and provide a different
reality, if you will.

Now, who is behind that? Well, it is, it`s -- people who are just anti-
government. And we have that those kinds in our country forever. People
who have political axes to grind, commercial interests to protect and
further, whose ideologies are just at odds with helping other people, who
really live in this rugged individualist mentality, except when they need

The atmosphere in which we find ourselves right now, we`re -- we really
need to just switch gears a little bit, and start rebuilding the American
community. We are so divided. We are so set against one another, but
whatever the reason, we have to overcome that. We have to get back to
really listening to each other.

People on the other side are not all wrong. They do have legitimate
concerns. They have legitimate questions. And I just want to get back to
evidenced-based decision-making. That`s my goal.



MELBER: That was Clinton sounding much more like a candidate than we have
heard since she left the State Department. And even that could make a
difference for Democrats this fall.

"The Washington Post`s" E.J. Dionne stresses in his latest article that
roughly 1/8 of voters who disapprove of Obama nonetheless support Clinton
for 2016. And E.J. argues it`s those voters, the more blue-collar and
whiter bloc of the broader 2012 coalition, who could be the key to winning
in 2014 and beyond. Why? Well, let`s ask him.

Joining me now is E.J. Dionne. And we`re also joined by his colleague at
"The Post", Nia-Malika Henderson.

Welcome to you both.

And, E.J., explain your argument here?

E.J. DIONNE, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, when you looked at that poll,
Obama`s approval rating was 41 percent positive, 52 negative. But when
Hillary Clinton was put up against Jeb Bush in a hypothetical presidential
race. She won, 53-41. That means roughly one voter in eight says they
disapprove of the president, but also would vote for Hillary Clinton.

And as you suggested, this is a much more blue-collar group. It`s more
white and Latino than the people who both approve of Obama and support
Clinton, fewer college grads. It`s basically a populist constituency.

And that constituency is the difference between a resounding defeat, 41
percent, and a victory at 53 percent. These are also people by the way
that the president can win back.

And listening to those Hillary sound bites, what I found particularly
interesting is that she is trying to set her up as a change candidate, even
though she would be a Democrat running after eight years of a Democratic

So, she is walking an interesting line. She was very supportive of
Obamacare. She was supportive of the president`s policies, but then she
said, we have to do things differently. And that`s how she -- I think
she`s going to try to make it work if she runs.

MELBER: Yes, you talk populism, E.J. Here she is again today from this
new speech, which had interesting parts, talking about economics, how it
works, how it should work. Let`s take a listen to that.


CLINTON: If you want to lift people out of poverty, trickle-down economics
does not work, supply-side economics does not work.

This is not a political statement. Obviously, it has political
implications. Let`s just start looking at the facts.


MELBER: Nia, you heard it there in the sound I played before about what
she argues are the facts about health care. You heard it there in an
argument, obviously, where some people do disagree about the best way to
get the economy moving. But she roots it here in this argument that it is
factual, that the Democrats have the factual side of this argument. Tell
us about that.

on what Bill Clinton said in his DNC speech, right, when he talks about the
economy doing better under Democrats, and more people having jobs when
Democratic presidents are in office. So, it is sort of a spin on that.

She definitely I think in this speech, as you said, sounded more like a
candidate, sounded, I think, more like Elizabeth Warren. There`s all this
buzz in Washington about Elizabeth Warren. She`s on this book tour, "A
Fighting Chance", and sounding the notes of populism. And there you have
Hillary Clinton doing the same thing.

Also, in some ways, sounding like Obama, this idea of rebuilding the
community. I mean, she almost sounds like a community organizer in saying
that. So, it`s very interesting. And I do think one of the ways she can
sort of peel away from Obama, because that`s a big challenge, as E.J.
Dionne said, is to simply highlight this idea, sort of girl power. She
sort of implicitly is an outsider and people see her as such because she is
a woman.

She didn`t really want to highlight that in 2008. She wanted to be a more
cautious candidate. It sounds like she wants to in some ways wrap herself
in a lot of the language we`re hearing now, to sort of lean in, sort of
time for change, time for women to get into the arena.

MELBER: Yes. I mean, I think that`s right. She definitely sounds more
like that than she did when we all remember the safer Hillary Clinton. And
this may be the good part of having the discussion, right? If you are
right, Nia, and this is in part a rebuttal to Elizabeth Warren, then it`s a
preprimary about ideas and about policy, which is generally a good thing.

E.J., if that`s the case, she also came out on gun control today, which we
know is an issue that is divisive, even among some Democrats. Take a
listen to that.


CLINTON: I think that we`ve got to rein in what has become, an almost
article of faith that anybody can have a gun anywhere anytime. And I don`t
believe that is in the best interest of the vast majority of people.


And I think you can say that and still support the right of people to own
guns. But there has got to be a better appreciation to go back to what I
said in my remarks about the stresses and the kind of hair trigger feelings
that so many people are walking around with today.


MELBER: E.J., what do you make of that?

DIONNE: Well, first of all, I cheer anybody willing to stand up to the
NRA. But I think you are hearing something very interesting there. When
she ran the last time, it was almost as if she started running the general
election before she had won the primary. So, that`s not a good way to go
into primaries.

You heard that thunderous applause, when she said that, there are -- that
on so many of these gun control issues. A very substantial majority of the
country is in favor of it. The Democratic base is certainly in favor of
it. So, I think that serves her well in general. But it serves her
particularly well in the Democratic Party.

If I could just pick up on one point about Elizabeth Warren -- I don`t see
her in a debate with Elizabeth Warren. I see her as grabbing the same


DIONNE: It seems to me, both Warren and Clinton are kind of pointing in a
populist direction right now.

MELBER: Yes. Go ahead, Nia.

HENDERSON: Yes. And I think Republicans are, too. If you talk about Tim
Pawlenty has been saying about raising the minimum wage. Rick Santorum now
has a book out where he talks about blue-collar conservatives and the
Republican Party needing to sort of broaden its base and focus on the

So, it`s what everyone is talking about now. In some ways, it`s idea of

MELBER: Yes, it`s the occupy primary and apparently, it`s somewhat

E.J. Dionne and Nia-Malika Henderson, thank you both for joining me

HENDERSON: Thank you.

DIONNE: Good to be with you.

MELBER: And coming up, the U.S. is getting involved in that search for
hundreds of missing girls abducted from the school in Nigeria. Tonight, we
will hear from one of the girls who managed to escape her terrorist
kidnappers -- an important story.

And what was it look working alongside the woman who wrote that famous
email "time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee"? New testimony out
today in the New Jersey bridgegate scandal and investigation. We have the

And a story that won`t go away. Monica Lewinsky wants to set the record
straight about what happened back in the day. She did stay quiet during
Hillary`s 2008 run, but she has a new tone now and a new article that`s
coming out in "Vanity Fair."


MELBER: L.A. Clippers team President Andy Roeser is on an indefinite leave
of absence effectively immediately. The NBA made that announcement today,
saying, "This will provide an opportunity for a new CEO to begin on a clean
slate and for the team to stabilize under difficult circumstances."

The new CEO will supervise the Clippers` operations in order to fill the
void created, of course, by the banned owner, Donald Sterling, who was
removed for his racist remarks.

Up next, results are coming in from North Carolina`s Republican Senate
primary tonight. We have Steve Schmidt and Richard Wolffe to break down
the numbers.


MELBER: We now some have breaking election news tonight, from one of the
most important primary races of 2014. The North Carolina Republican Senate

"The Associated Press" has called the race for Thom Tillis, a somewhat
controversial Republican speaker of the house from North Carolina. He will
face Democratic Senator Kay Hagan this fall. Now, with results still
coming in, it looks like Tillis will handily beat the 40 percent threshold
to avoid a run-off.

He has been called the establishment candidate. He was endorsed by Jeb
Bush, Mitt Romney and leader Mitch McConnell. His biggest opponent was Tea
Party candidate Greg Brannon who doesn`t believe in public education. Rand
Paul and Mike Lee endorsed him.

Republicans need to within this seat if they want to have a credible chance
of taking back the U.S. Senate. So, it is good for the establishment that
they have their candidate.

Well, not necessarily. Here is why: as speaker of the Republican House,
Tillis had a legislative agenda that was the inspiration for those Moral
Monday protests. As you may remember, thousand of people protesting out in
the streets and in churches week after week as Tillis led the first
Republican-controlled legislature in North Carolina in 140 years to pass
tax cuts for the wealthy, voter ID laws and new abortion restrictions.
They also blocked Medicaid expansion.

Now, today, Kay Hagan`s campaign sent around this video of Tillis from


ST. REP. THOM TILLIS (R-NC), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: What why have to do is
find a way to divide and conquer the people who are on the assistance. We
have to show respect for that woman who has cerebral palsy and had no
choice in her condition that needs help and that we should help. Now, we
need to get those folks to look down at these people who choose to get into
condition that makes them dependent on the government and say at some
point, you are on your own. We may end up taking care of the babies, but
we`re not going to take care of you.


MELBER: Joining me now is MSNBC political analyst and McCain 2008 senior
adviser, Steve Schmidt, and executive editor, Richard Wolffe.

Welcome, gentlemen.

You have been through many primaries and many general elections. Let me
get your reactions to what tonight means, Steve.

STEVE SCHMIDT, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: We`ve had this extraordinary
chapter in the recent history of the Republican Party where over the last
two election cycles, Republicans have given away to the Democrats, six U.S.
Senate seats, by nominating in these low turnout primaries, candidates who
were a combination of bizarre, loony, extreme, and just an extraordinary
number of giveaway seats.

And so, tonight, what you see is candidates that generally speaking are
more electable, are not going to throw away a great pickup opportunity,
making it through the process. So, that`s a good thing for Republicans

The absence of these loony candidates, as Steve puts them, does make the
succeeding nominees much more electable. However, it says a lot about the
Republican Party that to be the establishment candidate, you already really
some one who is extremely controversial and can generate these kinds of

So, the center of the party has shifted along with these challenges that
they hatch been facing. And yes, he has been backed by -- Tillis has been
backed by U.S. Chamber of Congress money and American Crossroads. So
they`re in a better position. But it`s relative.

And the question is, given where North Carolina has been over the last
couple of years, does this become a referendum on the overall Republican
administration of the state?

MELBER: Right. You`re speaking to the poll to the right of this party
that affects more than one candidate here. And then there is also the
energy question, Steve. We were looking tonight. One of the other ways to
try to understand what this might mean, even beyond North Carolina, is how
energizing is it to have these kind of primaries.

When you look at, with about 85 percent reporting, we can say tonight, more
than 402,000 people voting in the Republican Senate primary alone. That is
more than the last time you really had one there in 2010, when it was about
358,000. That would reflect the organizing, might left the money and it
might reflect additional Tea Party candidates.

As those candidates lose, do you think that kind of turnout is encouraging
for Republicans?

SCHMIDT: Look, I think that we look at the state of these races around the
country, the turnout makes in a midterm election, favors the Republican
Party, just as it overwhelmingly favors the Democratic Party in a
presidential election year.

So, I think that this is a seat where if you are a Democrat, tonight, you
have to be very worried about holding the Kay Hagan Senate seat. I think
Republicans look increasingly likely to pick up the U.S. Senate.

But again, judging by the results of the last two election cycles, I don`t
underestimate our capacity to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

MELBER: Right.

And, Richard, when you have, as I mentioned in the lead, you have the
cross-endorsements, you had Rand Paul down there just this week trying to
help out. It looks like his guy lost.

What does that say about something that people talk about so much which is
the idea that the Tea Party is this elixir for the Republicans?

WOLFFE: Well, for a start, dangerous territory if you`re Rand Paul and you
think you can ride into the 2016 cycle by packing candidates who may be
struggling and in this case, have lost. You know, you lose credibility,
you lose exactly Steve`s old boss, President Bush would say, which is
political capital.

So, a bad play for Rand Paul. It shows a certain naivete and you have got
to wonder just on the broader question, if there aren`t the kind of
candidates out there that can sustain an insurgency, a kind of energy that
comes from that, where does that leave Rand Paul, where does that leave the
broader turnout in these midterms?

MELBER: Do you agree with that?

SCHMIDT: Sure. Look, you know, one of the things when you look at this in
the context of a presidential primary, everyone forgets this in the
analysis and coverage -- is these are not binary races between candidate A
and candidate B. What you had here, you had two Tea Party candidates that
split the vote in half, allowing the establishment candidate to win --
which is usually what happens in the Republican primary where you have a
split amongst several candidates running in the social conservative space.
You know, leaving the, the establishment Republican candidate to, you know
go on and win the primary, as has always been the case.

WOLFFE: Because we have Mike Huckabee backing the other candidate. So, if
that plays over through the Republican presidential primaries in, say,
South Carolina. Then, yes, could leave the establishment to come through
the middle.

MELBER: Right. That really is something that they have seen, since we are
talking about your old bosses, with McCain, not yours, Mitt Romney where we
hear so much about the grassroots energy in this party. And then sometimes
we see the establishment come through in a way that isn`t always to their
electoral dividends.

Steve Schmidt and Richard Wolffe, thank you both for joining me on this
little election night.

WOLFFE: Thanks, Ari.

MELBER: Up next, the growing call to find hundreds of school girls that
were kidnapped in Nigeria and what the U.S. is now planning to do about it.
We`re going to hear from one of the girls who actually managed to escape
her terrorist kidnappers. That`s next.



situation. Boko Haram, this terrorist organization that has been operating
in Nigeria, has been killing people and innocents, civilians for a very
long time.


MELBER: In the spotlight tonight, bring back our girls. Earlier today,
the Obama administration said the Nigerian government has finally agreed to
let the U.S. help in the frantic search for the more than 200 school girls
who are still missing after terrorists abducted them three weeks ago. The
unimaginable nightmare is still escalating, at least eight more girls were
kidnapped today in fact.

And in an interview with Al Roker, President Obama made a commitment to
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan.


OBAMA: What we have done is we have offered and it`s been accepted help
from our military and law enforcement officials. We are going to do
everything we can to provide assistance to them. In the short term, our
goal obviously is to help the international community and the Nigerian
government, as a team to do everything we can to recover these young
ladies. But, we are also going to have to deal with the broader problem of
organizations like this that, you know, can cause such havoc in people`s
day-to-day lives.


MELBER: Boko Haram, a militant Islamic group whose name means "Western
education is a sin" has taken responsibility for the kidnappings. Last
night, we reported on a video of a Boko Haram leader bragging about the
kidnappings, saying, quote, "I will sell them in the market", and, quote,
"Western-style education should end. Girls, you should all go and get

Still, 56 girls did manage to escape their captors. And now, one of them
is describing the terrifying moments. NBC`s Ann Curry translates her


ANN CURRY, NBC NEWS (voice-over): "We were sleeping at night. Suddenly,
there were soldiers who came in and asked us all to get ready because we
would be attacked by Boko Haram that night. We were happy to be in safe

But they weren`t safe. The soldiers who took them turned out to be the
very militants they thought they were fleeing.


MELBER: It has taken three weeks for this tragedy to grab a lot of the
world`s attention. Protests are now springing up from Abuja to New York
City to Washington and in the U.S. Senate. The 20 women senators serving
there are now asking the U.S. and U.N. to step up efforts to bring some end
to this crisis. Here is Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar tonight talking
with Rachel Maddow.


SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: I will note as many girls are missing
as we lost people in the horrible tragedy with Malaysia airlines. And I
think you know how the nation was riveted on that story. Well it is time
to look at human trafficking.


MELBER: Joining me now is student activist, Jennifer Soba Pearse, and
Comfort Ero, international crisis group, Nairobi based Africa program

Thank you both for joining me.


MELBER: Jennifer, you heard the senator there speaking. Just about an
hour ago on our air, making the point that, has been obvious to many. This
tragedy and this epic scale of human suffering did not initially draw
enough attention. Tell us what you have been doing to try to change that.

Washington D.C. I got together with some other friends of my world, also
called Students and college professor and just rallied people mobilized
people to come out and protest and raise their voices to, you know, really
condemn the actions that are happening in Nigeria with Boko Haram, you
know, against this whole idea of western education.

We have been lucky enough because, you know, social media activism, like we
seen from (INAUDIBLE) in 2012, really, really pushes attention. And really
like makes people really pay attention and really make people, you know,
become accountable. And push them to action that you want to see.

MELBER: Yes. And I makes people pay attention which comfort can make
politicians pay attention. I want to play some sound from the president`s
press secretary today. Get your response. Take a listen.


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Our embassy is prepared to form
an interdisciplinary team that could provide expertise on intelligence,
investigations and hostage negotiation. It could help facilitate
information sharing and provide victim assistance. It would include U.S.
military personnel, law enforcement officials with expertise in
investigations and hostage negotiations as well as officials with expertise
in other areas.


MELBER: That sound fine. We hear on the LAST WORD interviewed a state
department official last week who said at that point Nigeria had not
consented or sought out this kind of help. Walk us through some
particulars of that in this country.

think it is worth saying up front that this is not -- I mean, the U.S. has
had a long history of bilateral relations with Nigeria on the military
front as well.

This is a step up specifically to deal with the case of the missing,
missing girls. But we have had some kind of relationship with, with the
U.S. and Nigeria in terms of surveillance, intelligence sharing.

In the past Nigeria has given the impression that it had the situation
under control. That it had the wherewithal internally to deal with the
crisis. I think this today we have an admission by government that it
probably doesn`t have a full grip of the situation and, as, openly admitted
that it would welcome assistance either from the United States or from
other bilateral partners.

MELBER: What is the context though, of the internal conflict here for
people who don`t know a lot about Boko Haram, if you imagine that U.S.
terror enemy like Al Qaeda kidnapping is high number of children in our
country imagine the complete focus of the nation in responding.

ERO: I mean, Boko Haram has a long history in Nigeria. But it is worth
stepping back and, we have had a history of militancy, of radical tensions
in the country. This group, today call itself Boko Haram, started in 2002.
By the time it get to 2009, after poor relations with the northern states,
it became radical. It never started off with a violent tension. But by
2010, we saw an evolution of violence, different tactics, assassination,
against state forces, against politicians and more increasingly were seen
indiscriminate attacks against secular schools, against children, against
teachers, against health workers. And I think this latest crisis is a
manifestation of a 10-year campaign by this particular group against
different structures of society.

MELBER: And briefly before I go back to Jennifer. The objective, though,
of those kinds of civilian targets is what?

ERO: To cause fear, to cause mayhem. Boko Haram claims that it has an
agenda which is to turn Nigeria into an Islamic state and to Sharia law in
the country. But what we have seen right now, it is very much different
from what it started out to be.

This indiscriminate attack against all forms of society, against those who
supposedly share the ethos or the same religion as you is a blatant attack
now, against all structures, all forms, and all nature of society. So I
think what we have seen today is a very different kind. A very brutal
group which has lost control in the country.

MELBER: Jennifer, you hear Comfort there, diagnosing the problem. Looking
at your specific efforts on awareness and political action including here
in the U.S. take a listen to what senator Harry Reid said.


SEN. HARRY REID (D-NY), MAJORITY LEADER: Nye the Nigerian government has
been disaster slow in responding to incidents. Not only this one, but
other ones. I urge the Nigerian government to use all resources and accept
international assistance to bring abductors to justice. The world is
watching. Return these daughters to their families.


MELBER: What do you think of the response here from some politicians and
what else do you want to try to do to keep this on the front burner?

PEARSE: I think, politicians, the senator are really correct. The whole
idea of having a joint effort, really, what the Nigerian government. The
Nigerian government has to understand that plays a vital role in bringing
the girls back, but also the joint effort of the international society and
also of the stake (INAUDIBLE) and other people who are in power and
stakeholders in Nigeria.

And moving forward, obviously watching day by day, especially now that the
U.S. has got involve and this is taking more action plans based on the
developments around the whole situation.

MELBER: Yes, and before we go. I also want to play just a little bit more
from the young girl who escaped because it is important to get those voices
in. Let`s take a listen.


MALALA YOUSAFZAI, ACTIVIST: Some people are misusing the name of Islam,
even they are abusing the name of Islam and they are saying that girls are
not allowed to go to school. It is not their right. And that`s why
they`re bombing schools. They`re even killing girls. So, it`s horrible.
People can`t imagine it in the developed countries.

This is like one family. These girls are my sister. And that`s why, I am
asking, that my sisters should be protected. And I also want to tell
parents here in the developed countries in the UK and USA, just imagine if
it happens to your daughter, if it happens to your son, how would you feel?
So I think, let`s consider this war like a family and care about each of


MELBER: That was actually, Malala, not one of the escapees. We had both
sound there. When you look at Malala weighing in, briefly, Comfort, how
does that fit into a template here of women speaking up and trying to get
more action here?

ERO: I mean, I think it is significant that right across the globe, around
the world, that you are seeing this, this, this collective action. That
was always the missing link in this crisis. Now that we have got that, we
may see the government itself taking the situation more seriously.

MELBER: Jennifer Soba Pearse and Comfort Ero, thank you both for your time
tonight. We will stay on this story.

And coming up, a former governor Christie aide testifies about what it was
look working for the woman who wrote "the time for traffic troubles in Fort
Lee" e-mail. The word scared and fearful came up.


MELBER: The Missouri Senate shut down for about an hour today, after more
than a hundred protesters and clergy members disrupted proceedings,
repeatedly making one demand.


CROWD: Medicaid! Expand! Medicaid! Expand!


MELBER: In all, 23 people were arrested during the demonstration demanding
the state accept Obamacare`s Medicaid expanding. Missouri is one of 24
states that has yet to accept those federal fund for health care.

Democratic governor, Jay Nixon supports the expansion. But the Republican
controlled legislature has been hesitant about it. And altogether opposed
to passing expansion legislation.


MELBER: Former aid to governor Chris Christie, testified before the
special legislative committee investigating the George Washington bridge
today. Christina Renna who worked in the office of intergovernmental
affairs for Bridget Kelly, the author of the e-mail, time for traffic
problems in Fort Lee, she testified before the committee for nearly five
hours and provided some new details about the inner workings of the
governor`s office. She also outlined her view of what it was really like
working for Christie`s trusted adviser, Bridget Kelly.


CHRISTINA RENNA, FORMER CHRISTIE AIDE: I was scared of stepping over
Bridget. If this is a very severe implication, if I ended up being wrong,
I thought I would lose my job. I was fearful of getting her caught up in
something that I didn`t know if she was involved in it or not. And I was
scared of, you know, if it ended up being false, violating her trust and
never being able to get that back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You were fearful for your job, and not fearful that.

RENNA: Not necessarily for my job, but for, you know, crossing Bridget.


MELBER: Kelly may have wielded enough power within the Christie
administration to make her nervous. But Renna also described a ceiling on
Kelly`s authority today.


RENNA: I wouldn`t say was the architect, but she was instrumental in the
process. I believe that. I think Bridget was not an architect, but I
think that she was, you know, participating in, in whatever this was.


MELBER: Implication there, of course, is there someone else, someone
possibly pretty important was involved.

Now, in today`s testimony, Renna also gave an appraisal of the Chris
Christie investigation that was ordered with Randy Maestro, which had no
interview transcripts and was not conducted under oath.


RENNA: Mandatory directive were not my word. You notice they`re not in
quotation marks. That was Gibson Dunn -- Gibson Dunn`s word. That was
their characterization.

STATE SEN. LORETTA WEINBERG, NEW JERSEY: Did you correct that when you,
with Gibson Dunn when you saw that characterization?

RENNA: I didn`t see these until these came out publicly? These are minor
facts and my interviews that are just, you know, there some inaccuracies.

WEINBERG: Do you know what other inaccuracies are contained here? You can

RENNA: Sure. For example, there are 60 sandy affected towns, not 16. The
phone call I exchanged with Bridget Kelly on December 12th you. You know,
she called me. I called her back. The call dropped mid conversation. We
tried to call each other back. I actually reached her first, not vice
versa. So, little details like that.


MELBER: Joining me now is Matt Katz, the reporter for WNYC where he runs
the blog, The Christie tracker.

Welcome. How are you?

MATT KATZ, REPORTER, WNYC: Doing great. Thanks.

MELBER: Good. Given what we know about this investigation at this point.
How credible was Christina Renna today?

KATZ: She came across as very credible. She has experienced speaking
before the legislatures. She used to be a lobbyist. And legislators were
impressed with the way she presented herself. She had some very
disparaging things to say about her former boss, Bridget Kelly. And
Bridget Kelly`s lawyer fired back and called Christina Renna not credible
said her testimony was totally erroneous.

But what was interesting about what she said about Bridget Kelly, among the
many remarks, was that she didn`t have the self-confidence to do things on
her own. She was always seeking approval. And that`s very interesting
when you are talking about the time for some traffic problems and FORT LEE
e-mail. Because did somebody -- did she get this cleared by somebody else,
high above her? Was there, somebody else telling her to do this? And,
Christina said she had theories about this, but wasn`t willing to offer any
just yet.

MELBER: I got to tell you Matt, I really do agree with that and I had that
thought today because this is one of the things where we talked a lot,
those of us who are following the investigation, about squeezing the people
to get to the top. And that is one piece.

But here with Christina Renna, you have someone who is in the middle. And
may have less of a motive, I think, to lie or at least in contradiction.
Bridget Kelly, she is not holding back saying she won`t testify.

And she also described more of the call we heard earlier and some of eat
motion here. Take a listen.


RENNA: She scald me before the governor`s press conference. I don`t --
maybe an hour before the press conference, crying, telling me that she had
been fired. She was hysterical. She could barely get the word out. I was
crying. I believe I asked her again at that point if she talked to the
governor. And she said he won`t talk to me. And, she said a few times I
do not know what I am going to do. And she apologized a lot. And then she
said you can`t trust anyone, Christina. That`s what she basically closed
the conversation with. You can`t trust anyone.


MELBER: I mean, it is like, like a movie. What did you, what did you
think of that depiction of Bridget Kelly sort of in the eye of the storm?

KATZ: It was pretty powerful. I mean, it shows how like roiled the
administration really has been over this. But -- and that was the day she
was fired in January, but the emotions had been really building up with
Bridget Kelly for few months. I mean, you could tell by Christina Renna`s
testimony today that Bridget Kelly felt that she was there. The sort of
sharks were circling around her. And that she was in trouble.

In December, she directed Christina Renna her underling to destroy an e-
mail that she thought was incriminating. She was trying to protect
herself. And Christina Renna did, but she also kept a copy for herself.
And by, Bridget Kelly doing that, I mean, she could be in some trouble for
destroying potential evidence there.

But it was clear that she felt like she was in trouble for quite some time.
What`s curious is why, those around her and took so long for others in the
administration to realize that she was complicit in this act. I mean,
they`ve didn`t have any e-mails. They didn`t see the time for traffic
problems in Fort Lee e-mails. But there were other clues.

I mean, Christina Renna wasn`t the only one in that upper echelons of the
Christie administration who thought there was something suspicious going on
in the weeks before. So, hopefully we will get more testimony in the next
few weeks.

MELBER: Yes. That is certainly the case from what we know thus far.

Matt Katz, thanks for joining me tonight.

KATZ: You got it, thanks.

MELBER: Still to come, Monica Lewinsky says it is time to burn the beret
and bury the blue dress. Those are actually her words. We will explain.


MELBER: She has basically been silent more than ten years. But now,
Monica Lewinsky has decided to enter the public eye again. We`ll tell you
why straight ahead.


MELBER: So, we begin tonight`s show with Hillary Clinton, you may
remember. Now, we turn to a very famous woman whom Republicans are sure to
bring up if Hillary runs for president, Monica Lewinsky.

Now. if you think this story is beyond done, it is worth remembering
something. Monica is someone who is constantly talked about but rarely
heard from. In fact, she refused to talk about Hillary during the entire
2008 campaign despite many attempts by many people to get her to relive
those days.

Well that is about to change. Lewinsky just wrote an account of her affair
with President Clinton and her thoughts about her enduring link to Hillary
for a newer to of "Vanity Fair" magazine zone.

Monica`s 40-years-old. Committed to speaking out for victims of bullying
and media sexism and she says still very troubled by everything she went
through. She also stressed that after keeping mostly silent it is time to
address the public and quote "burn the beret and bury the blue dress."

Joining me now is Lynn Sweet, Washington bureau chief for "Chicago Sun-
Times" who covered that entire impeachment scandal history from beginning
to end.

Welcome, Lynn, good evening.


MELBER: Let`s start with what is different. Why do you think Monica
Lewinsky who was so silent in 2008 when Hillary was running is coming out
in some way now?

SWEET: Well, the only thing I could think of is that she wants to try and
make a play that could get her something maybe a TV show. She seems to
like public attention. Even if you look at the picture that we saw in
"Vanity Fair," she is sitting in the seductive pose on the couch, not, you
know running in a working out or doing some other thing in life.

So I am thinking that maybe every so often, you come out to a story, do a
story, cause a splash. See what, you are testing the waters for herself.
She does say she has had trouble finding her way professionally in life.

MELBER: That`s right. I mean, I should be clear here, the magazine has
release add but two pages worth of excerpts, not everything. As you
mention, Lynn, she talks about trouble in job hunting, she talks about her
desire in sort of correct the record, and reminisces on things that she
thinks Hillary Clinton may have said about her. And then talks about in
particular, Tyler Clemente, the very tragic case of an 18-year-old Rutgers`
freshman, who many people remember, actually committed suicide in 2010
after having some aspects of his personal life put up on the internet. She
talks about feeling for people who go through the kind of bullying today.

SWEET: Well, I think -- I mean, my heart goes out to anyone who is
bullied. But is this really the cause of her wanting to rehash something
that she knows could or should know, potentially to just be painful.

Now, human beings are human beings, even if we weren`t talking about a
couple that the most -- one of the most famous couples in the world, just
in terms of taste. Now she has poured her heart out before. She gave a
big interview to Barbara Walters three years ago.

MELBER: Barbara Walters, Yes.

SWEET: She did an authorized book years ago. And so, it is not as though
she is breaking her silence for the first time.

But here`s one thing that actually could, maybe be helpful to Hillary
Clinton who probably has gotten the thick enough skin to kind of go like
this to, to this "Vanity Fair" story. And that is, one of the things that
Rand Paul has been saying is that he has been bringing out the Monica
Lewinsky affair and episode in ways of casting doubt about Bill Clinton and
Hillary Clinton`s sincerity when they talk about women`s issue, abused
women. And in this point, the one point she has the made an excerpt so far
is that this was between to consenting adults. So that might, might,
silence Rand Paul a little bit on that front.

MELBER: Yes, your point, Lynn. She writes. Sure my boss took advantage
of me, referring to President Clinton, quote "but I will always remain firm
on this point. It was a consensual relationship. Any quote "abuse" came
in the aftermath when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his
powerful position." And then she indicts the Clinton administration and
Ken Start (ph) team. We will see what else comes out of it.

Lynn Sweet, you had tonight`s "LAST WORD." Thanks for your time.

SWEET: Thank you.

MELBER: I appreciate it.

I`m Ari Melber, in for Lawrence O`Donnell.



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