All In With Chris Hayes, Monday, June 9th, 2014
Read the transcript from the Monday show
ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
June 9, 2014
Guest: Mark Sickles, Michael Laris, Jon Ralston, Pilar Marrero, Tara
Dowdell, Phillip Agnew
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris
And there is a scandal brewing in Virginia tonight, a state that is
getting pretty accustomed to political scandals.
In January, as you may recall, former Governor Bob McDonnell and his
wife were indicted on fourteen counts of allegedly accepting more than
$165,000 in gifts and loans from a Virginia business man, in exchange for
promoting his products. The McDonnells who deny they broke the law go on
trial next month.
But today brings us a different political scandal in Virginia, but it
also involves allegations of quid pro quo. It centers on this man, Philip
Puckett, who until today was a Democratic state senator from a largely
Republican district in the southwestern part of the state.
Puckett formally resigned today. And you may be saying to yourself,
all right, no big deal. State senator stepped down. Who cares?
The reason it is such a big deal is that the Virginia State Senate
happens to be split evenly, with 20 Democrats and 20 Republicans. The
Democrats control the chamber because the state`s lieutenant governor,
Ralph Northam, is a Democrat, and he casts the tie breaking vote.
Not anymore. Phil Puckett`s resignation handed the state senate to
the Republican Party with massive implications.
So, what could have prompted this guy to leave?
In a statement today, Puckett attributed his departure in part to
unspecified family issues, saying, quote, "These are private matters and I
ask that you respect our privacy in working through them as a family."
But, three sources told "The Washington Post" over the weekend that
Puckett was convinced to step down by Republicans, Republicans who promised
to appoint him to a job of deputy director to Virginia Tobacco Commission.
Some Democrats have accused Republicans of effectively buying Puckett
off so they can take over the chamber, in what the Virginia House
Democratic Caucus chair called an unseemly, shady backroom deal.
In a statement today, Puckett insisted that claims that he was
stepping down for a job are, quote, "incorrect", adding, "I have never
officially been offered a job by the Tobacco Commission."
Read that sentence again. I have never officially been offered a job.
Officially is doing a lot of work in that sentence.
Meanwhile, amid a firestorm of criticism over the alleged deal, two
sources told "The Washington Post" that Puckett is withdrawing his name
from consideration for the job with the Tobacco Commission. But that`s
done is done. Puckett is gone.
Republicans control the state senate in Virginia, and that is a major
coup for the GOP in its efforts to block one of the biggest policy
priorities of Virginia`s relatively new Democratic governor, Terry
McAuliffe, getting his state to accept the Obamacare Medicaid expansion,
which would bring health care coverage to 400,000 low income Virginians.
McAuliffe ran on expanding Medicaid and came into office promising to get
it done and he is bent over backwards to get Republicans to accept
expansion which is paid for, we should note, almost entirely by the federal
The governor has backed a now private option similar what is now in
effect in Arkansas, which would use Medicaid funding to buy private
insurance for enrollees.
More recently, he pushed for a two-year pilot expansion which could be
cancelled if it didn`t work.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: McAuliffe says he believes in expansion strongly and if it
doesn`t help Virginia, he will take the heat.
GOV. TERRY MCAULIFFE (D), VIRGINIA: Let every camera have it clear
that it was the governor will take full responsibility, so everybody else
is off the hook.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: But Virginia Republicans have said no over and over again, a
stance to set the stage for a possible government shutdown.
Now, the resignation of Democratic State Senator Philip Puckett and
the resulting GOP takeover of the state senate totally changes the
calculus, making it substantially harder for McAuliffe to get the Medicaid
So, the score card in this story, if you`re keeping track, is this --
one state senator gone, shifting control the Virginia State Senate from
Democrat to Republican. One job offer allegedly put forth by Republicans
in order to make that happen and 400,000 low income Virginians still
without health insurance.
Joining me now, `Washington Post" reporter Michael Laris, who has been
covering this story.
Michael, first of all, kudos on a great bit of reporting.
You had three sources that told you this deal was worked out by
Republicans. Today, we had Puckett himself saying, nope, I was going to
What`s your response as the reporter who broke the story?
MICHAEL LARIS, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, I have been working with my
colleague Laura Bacella (ph) who is down in Richmond. She really was
deeply sourced on this one.
And, you know, things happen quickly in Virginia politics. There are
times when, you know, people think that there is something that`s going to
happen and think that there`s a deal and today we have heard from Senator
Puckett that there was no such thing.
What`s interesting, I think, too, is that his Democratic colleagues,
some of his Republican colleagues have really sort of hit back hard against
What you have to pay attention to, however, is the fact that, you
know, he had to take his name out from consideration today and then,
there`s the whole second issue that we haven`t really talk about, which is
that he says that his main reason for stepping down was to get out of the
way of his daughter so she could be appointed permanently to a judgeship
down in southwest Virginia.
HAYES: Let`s talk about this. His daughter has a temporary position
appointed to judgeship. She could be appointed permanently, although
apparently, there`s role where that judgeship would be confirmed by the
state legislature and they don`t consider those appointments if there is a
family member at issue? Is that -- do I have that right?
LARIS: People use the word generally a lot. It has happened.
But, you know, he came out today, Puckett did, and said I want to get
out of the way of my daughter. My family has helped me over the years of
public service. I`m trying to get out of the way.
It actually was a pretty interesting and compelling statement that he
put forward. He talked about these unspecified difficult family issues and
several people that are close to him told us that it concerns health
matters. I mean, that is obviously and potentially a sad thing for his
family. At the same time, it brings up the irony which is that we are
talking about hundreds of thousands of people whether or not they are going
to get health care.
HAYES: Here`s what I get -- yes, there`s 400,000 people whose lives
are on the line here. Another thing I got from the reporting you and your
colleague did was, whether or not the decision was made independently of
any offer of quid pro quo, clearly unless your reporting is erroneous,
there were conversations that were being had with some people in the state
about the terms of this man`s departure. That seems pretty established by
LARIS: Yes, no, people that were directly involved said as much to my
colleague, Laura Bacella, they talked through, hey, they are interested in
having him on this Tobacco Commission which works on development in some of
the poorer areas of the state that have been hit hard over the years. They
were talking about it openly.
So, the idea that there were no conversations seems odd.
HAYES: Yes. Michael Laris from "The Washington Post", who broke this
with his colleague today -- thank you very much.
LARIS: You bet.
HAYES: Joining me now, Virginia House Delegate Mark Sickles, chairman
of the Democratic House Caucus.
Delegate Sickles, what is your reaction to this news? Do you guys
think this had absolutely nothing to do with any deal? Any quid pro quo.
Nothing with tossing control of the state senate or do you think something
is up here?
DEL. MARK SICKLES (D), VIRGINIA: No. I think it has everything to do
with power, trying to get power whichever way that you can. You had a
great introduction there. You didn`t mention the fact that the Republicans
when Senator Henry Morris, civil rights leader, went to the Obama
inauguration, they took advantage of the time to redistrict the entire
state Senate again.
Fortunately, the speaker of the House ruled that non-germane about
three weeks later. That kept MSNBC intrigued for a while a couple of years
I mean, this is all about power. It`s partly about Medicaid. You
know, I don`t know how long we can resist taking our own tax money back.
It is outrageous to me that this kind of deal could take place.
Mike didn`t mention that the tobacco commission actually had set a
meeting for Wednesday where the only agenda item was a personnel matter.
Apparently, it was to give Senator Puckett this job.
HAYES: Yes, that meeting has now been cancelled. That was -- they
did publish the agenda and they published the fact that the topic of that
meeting was going to be a personnel matter, and that, in the wake of the
story that has subsequently been cancelled. So, another sort of
circumstantial piece of this.
Can I ask you a question? Have you talked to Senator Puckett? Have
any of the Democratic leadership, has there been a kind of internal
Democratic Party discussion of this? Did you know this was coming?
SICKLES: I did not know it was coming. I got a call from the
governor`s staff telling me about it, the night before last, and I had not
had a chance to talk to him. He apparently is not taking phone calls.
I mean, I think this has been a traumatic experience. I don`t think
he expected the reaction that has emerged from this. The fact that his
daughter could not be appointed judge or elected judge as we call it by the
state senate really is outrageous. She is a juvenile domestic relations
court judge. It`s not a court of record.
We in the House elected her, so to speak, and sent her nomination to
the Senate where we have the so-called rule. There`s no reason. There`s
no -- you know, she is highly qualified for the job.
HAYES: I just want to make sure we have this clear. She is up for a
kind of permanent position or six-year term, I suppose? Is that right?
Six year term?
SICKLES: Right, that`s right.
HAYES: In your state, those judicial positions are filled by the
legislature which is different from a lot of states do it.
SICKLES: I think there`s four states, Chris.
HAYES: The House of Delegates passed it. So, she is sitting there --
I want to paint the terms of why people might be led to believe there is a
quid pro quo.
She is sitting there. And it`s a little like one could imagine
possibly, it`s a nice career your daughter has there and a shame if
something happened to it for instance if she got hung out to dry because
the Senate couldn`t confirm her. But maybe if her father were to step
aside, she might get the green light. That is basically what is being said
SICKLES: I think you nailed it. I mean, that`s it.
HAYES: OK. So, how bitter -- I have been amazed at following this
fight in Virginia, how hard the Republicans in that state have fought
against this. I mean, this is -- for people who haven`t been following
this, this has been a knife fight from the jump.
SICKLES: Yes, it`s true.
You know, we are a very purple state. I live in northern Virginia.
When I go to Richmond, I hear things that come out of people`s mouths that
are just astounding. It is a culturally divided commonwealth.
You know, we do have a reputation of having good government. That`s
been sullied in the last 10 years or so by various things including the
trial that you mentioned next month of the former governor. I think that
we need to rework on these things. People don`t expect it from us. And
now we are starting to make news more frequently and it is not the kind of
news we need.
We need to get back to figuring out how we are going to pay for health
care or provide health care for the poor citizens we have in our
HAYES: Virginia House Delegate Mike Sickles -- thanks again.
SICKLES: Thank you.
HAYES: There are 24 states that have not accepted Medicaid expansion,
leaving about 8 million low income people without coverage. If you want to
get a sense of the difference between life under the expansion and life
without it, what the actual human stakes are in Virginia, "New York Times"
brought it home in a story about the border town of Texarkana where the
poor living on the Arkansas half of town now have access to health care
worth thousands of dollars, yet nothing has changed for those on the Texas
side of town.
And that includes Janice Marks who got a pain killer and a bill for
$600 after visiting an emergency for a whole in her tooth. The bill she`s
had to ignore. She told the hospital, "I know it`s past due, but I can`t
just pay you all $600. I don`t have $600."
Joining me now, Ryan Grim, MSNBC contributor, Washington bureau chief
for "The Huffington Post."
And, Ryan, I am -- I continue to be amazed at how the battle has moved
from state to state and just how quickly it goes nuclear, it seems, in
every state it comes to. I mean, you know, you`ve got unbelievable tales
of backroom deals that happened in Ohio, backroom deals that got the
Medicaid expansion passed in that case, that the Republicans don`t double-
crossed, what appears, what some are alleging is a backroom deal in
You`ve got just everything gets brought to bear when this fight comes
to the center of the state`s politics.
RYAN GRIM, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: And you would -- yes. You would think
people have more to do with their time than spend so much energy trying to
prevent people from getting health care when it`s fully paid for, for the
first several years by the federal government here.
You know, one thing that doesn`t get discussed enough here is the role
of Chief Justice John Roberts.
GRIM: You know, he is the one who said it is completely unfair to
require states to follow this congressional law that reforms the way the
Medicaid is delivered to people. In other words, the way Medicaid is
delivered now is the way they are allowed to have it forever. Presumably,
he would accept a repeal of it. But you can`t expand it.
And the result is that millions of people are now not getting health
HAYES: We should shout out Justices Kagan and I believe Breyer who
also signed on that Roberts opinion, that allowed for this to happen, to
have these state by state battles. "The New York Times" piece, Annie Lowry
(ph) did a great job reporting that "Times" piece about Texarkana. I mean,
there, you just see up close exactly what the stakes are, is that people on
one side of the town have health care and people on the other side of the
GRIM: That`s exactly right. And, you know, she spoke to people and
asked them, look, would you be willing to move across the border if it
meant health care for you. They said maybe I will think about that.
But the reality of poverty is that it`s not that simple to just pack
up and move across a border to improve the situation. You know, a decent
country you would think would afford people the same opportunities
regardless of where they live.
HAYES: Which side of the town they happen to live in, and that`s one
of the most bizarre effects of both the decision by the Supreme Court and
now, Republican legislatures that are trying to block this.
Do you think -- I mean, this McAuliffe fight in Virginia is a big
fight because it`s so close to the capital. Do you think Republicans are
going to be able to win this one?
GRIM: The irony here is that they really didn`t get much out of this.
So, the upshot here is that -- sorry. The state senate was -- the House
Republicans -- they were fighting over whether or not they were going to
expand Medicaid and then that was probably going to lead to a government
GRIM: Now, the Republicans in the Senate and House will send Terry
McAuliffe a bill and he will veto it and still have a government shutdown.
So, all we are talking about here is who is getting blamed.
GRIM: And they`re going to look bad because now there`s bribery
background to it.
HAYES: Right. This is great point. The shutdown was probably coming
away. The question is they are positioning as they run into it.
MSNBC contributor Ryan Grim, thank you so much.
GRIM: Thank you.
HAYES: All right. Coming up, the link the Bundy ranch standoff has
to shooting deaths of two police officers and another man in Las Vegas on
Sunday. That`s ahead.
HAYES: Coming up, remember when Harry Reid referred to people on the
Bundy ranch as domestic terrorists? That was pretty controversial. In
retrospect, it`s looking less like hyperbole. I will explain, ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: There were hundreds of
people from around the country who came out. They had sniper rifles on the
freeway. They had assault weapons. They had automatic weapons.
These people who hold themselves out to be patriots are not. They are
nothing more than domestic terrorists.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Senator Harry Reid called supporters of deadbeat rancher
Cliven Bundy domestic terrorists. There was a period of time during the
Bundy ranch saga when the media figures who are pushing an image of Bundy
as some sort of martyr for liberty started to sense they might have aligned
themselves with some pretty unsavory folks. And they began urging against
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GLENN BECK: We need to agree on we condemn those who use violence.
Inciting violence doesn`t solve anything. I vehemently denounce anyone who
even hints at such tactics.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Now, one of the people on the Bundy ranch around that time was
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JERAD MILLER, CLIVEN BUNDY SUPPORTER: I feel sorry for agents who
want to try to push us around or anything like that. I really don`t want
violence towards them. But if they are going to bring violence to us if
that is the language they want to speak, we`ll learn it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: You heard a lot about that, a lot of words like that around
that time. That man speaking, that was Jerad Miller. He and his wife
Amanda are now reported to be responsible for killing two police officers
and a third person in Las Vegas shooting spree over the weekend.
According to "The Las Vegas Review Journal", "A law enforcement
official said an officer was refilling a soft drink when the female shooter
approached him from behind and shot him in the head, killing him instantly,
the woman then shot the other officer several times as he drew his pistol."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A witness said one of the suspects shouted, "This
is the start of the revolution", and both suspects stripped the officers of
weapons and ammunition before they left the restaurant, crossed the parking
lot to a Wal-Mart store and shot and killed a civilian they confronted by
the entrance, and then ended the lethal episode with an apparent suicide
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The female suspect shot the male suspect and then
took her own life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Las Vegas authorities say the shooters draped this flag, the
Gadsden flag, which has come to serve as a Tea Party far right symbol on
the Obama era, over the body of one officer they had killed, and also
placed on top of it, a manifesto with a swastika symbol.
Cliven Bundy`s son tells "The Associated Press" that Miller and his
wife Amanda had been kicked off of his father`s ranch and Cliven Bundy`s
wife told "The Las Vegas Journal-Review", quote, "I have not seen or heard
anything from the militia or others that have come out to the ranch that
would make me think they have an intent to kill or harm anyone."
Joining me now, Nevada political journalist, Jon Ralston, host of
"Ralston Reports", which is broadcast on Nevada NBC affiliates.
John, what has the reaction been in Vegas to this ugly, ugly scene?
JON RALSTON, NEVADA POLITICAL JOURNALIST: Well, of course, there is
just the tragic nature of, Chris, these young police officers with families
being gunned down and the fashion that you mentioned. But now, all of this
stuff is coming out through social media about the ties to the Bundy ranch,
the fact that he was out there.
I just like you remembered Harry Reid`s domestic terrorism comment. I
said maybe he wasn`t far off.
Again, let`s be clear, it`s just a day after this happened. There is
going to be more information that comes out.
But what is clear is that he was out there. I find it absolutely
laughable that the Bundys are saying he was kicked off because he had a
criminal record. For two reasons, Chris. Number one, we are talking about
a family had broken the law for 20 years. They are upset that this guy had
a criminal record.
Plus, look at all of the other folks out there. Do you think any of
them had criminal records? Give me a break on that, Chris.
But more than thinking about Harry Reid`s comments about domestic
terrorism, what occurred to me is the guy sitting next to him at my TV
station saying Dean Heller, the other U.S. senator, he called them
RALSTON: And I said to you then and I still believe it now, that
these political figures, these politicians, these right wing talkers who
enable these people were just asking for something like this to occur. I`m
not saying they are to blame. I`m not going to the rhetoric of them having
blood on their hands, but they have a greater responsibility, Chris,
especially a U.S. senator to enable these folks who already are itching for
HAYES: Yes, you had a situation where you had this place had become a
kind of, sort of Mecca for all kinds of people with all kinds of really,
frankly, terrible ideas -- I mean, just ugly, racist ideas. You got a lot
of people touting antigovernment rhetoric and toting around guns.
And for those conditions for a U.S. senator say, carte blanche, not
having all these people, not knowing who exactly he is endorsing, only
knowing there is energy on the right wing around this, for Dean Heller to
call these people patriots when he can`t account for who these people are
and what they are doing -- remarkably irresponsible, particularly now that
we have this grisly horrible end that has come from two of the people who
were apparently there.
RALSTON: Yes, I don`t want -- again, I don`t want to draw a direct
nexus. We`re not sure of everything, but in the age of social media,
Chris, we know a lot about these people already and the facts that you
describe, with the flag, with the swastika, with the anti-government
It is amazing that all of these people in government like Dean Heller
can spout this anti-government rhetoric and it fuels certain folks on the
right and enables them -- I`ll just use that word again --
RALSTON: -- to make people like the Millers think that rhetoric is
mainstream or could be mainstream at that point. That there is a
revolution to be had, that we can take back our country, that we the people
need to be represented.
It is -- the word you use is exactly correct. It is totally
irresponsible. We had an assemblywoman here, you had her on your program,
Michelle Fiore, actually had the gumption to put out an email to her
supporters today, an inoculation email, saying she was just up there for
She wanted to make sure everything was safe when she was one of the
people enabling them, too.
HAYES: Wait, Fiore put out an e-mail today just telling supporters,
just so we are clear about what I was doing on the Bundy ranch back when
these folks who pulled off the gruesome murder, I was simply there as a
neutral observer for public safety?
RALSTON: Yes, exactly right. What she and Heller did right after
this occurred, let`s not forget, is they spouted anti-government rhetoric
attacking the BLM for riding in there, with too many armaments. I`m not
going to defend how the BLM did this. I think they botched aspects of it.
But, again, they enabled these folks to feel what they were feeling.
As you said, they came from all over the country with all kinds of nutty
ideas. They think their ideas are OK. And how far you have to go from
those words that the Millers put on Facebook to violence. I`m not sure
that that`s a long path to travel, Chris.
HAYES: Nevada political journalist John Ralston -- thank you so much.
All right. Coming up, a story behind this photo. Who is underneath
those foil blankets? I`ll explain, ahead.
HAYES: (AUDIO GAP) prisoner of war rescued, Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl is
now, according to "The New York Times", quote, "physically able to travel
and not yet emotionally ready for the pressures of reuniting with his
He`s continuing his recovery in a medical hospital in Germany and has
had no access to the news media at home. So, he has no clue he is on the
front page of nearly every magazine and newspaper, the subject of Sunday
talk shows, even beauty pageant questions, and that he is basically being
tried in absentia for desertion and treason.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can`t wait to try a case until you know
absolutely everything about everything. We know enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: "We know enough."
It`s only a week since the news of his release and the subsequent
expression of genuine anger from his platoon mates, who feel Bergdahl
deserted them in a time of war during an incredibly difficult set of
The questions over the circumstances under which he left his military
base in 2009 seem to have now given way to speculation on whether Bergdahl
went rogue and betrayed the United States while in Taliban captivity.
This vile FOX News headline from Friday claimed that Bergdahl became a
jihadi, based on unverified accounts from sources that also revealed in
that same article, which is much more textured and nuanced than the
headline, that Bergdahl tried to escape, was subsequently locked in a cage
like an animal.
This weekend, Senator Saxby Chambliss toyed with what exactly Bergdahl
did during his five years in Taliban captivity.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS (R), GEORGIA: Well, I think they`re going to be
a lot of things that Bergdahl tells the Army and the medical folks that
he`s talking to now that, Bob, it`s going to be very difficult to validate.
But that`s not to say they`re not absolutely true. But we weren`t
there. We have nobody who was on the inside. So, we don`t know exactly
what happened in his life over the last several years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: No, we don`t, Senator. And what exactly is your point?
Whatever objections there are over the means by which Bergdahl was
freed, the possible ramifications of trading the five Taliban detainees and
questions about the conditions under which Bergdahl left that base in 2009,
it is a genuinely depraved exercise to speculate on the actions of a man
held in captivity for five years, to smear his parents for working to get
their home, to threaten that town that looks forward to his homecoming.
Even by the low standards of American politics of war in this very
bloody century, this has been an uncommonly ugly episode. It`s a reminder
of what war does to a nation`s politics, particularly sustained, constant
war, war waged often as a national afterthought.
And if there ever any silver lining here, it`s that this a convulsion
of a nation being recognized -- forced to recognize for the first time
really since this all began that our longest period of war in history is
finally, finally coming to an end.
And thank goodness for that.
HAYES: This weekend, a bunch of photos starting to circulate on
Twitter. They were originally tweeted out by a radio show host in Tucson
and they depict what looks some kind of futuristic, dystopian refugee camp.
Those pictures were allegedly taken right here, right now in the
United States of America. They reportedly show the interior of a Border
Patrol-run facility in Nogales, Arizona, which has the capacity to house up
to 1,500 immigrant minors, kids who have been detained trying to cross into
this country on their own.
The Nogales facility is serving as an emergency shelter because the
federal government didn`t have the capacity to hold these kids near where
they originally crossed the border in Texas.
That news coupled with reports of other immigration issues prompted
outrage from Republicans like Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, who called it a
crisis of the federal government`s creation, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions,
who says there`s a crisis at the border and -- quote -- "President Obama is
responsible for this calamity."
So many unaccompanied children have made the trip to the Southwest
United States in recent months, over 47,000 since October, that President
Obama last week declared it an urgent humanitarian situation. As bizarre
and almost Dickensian as these images of kids warehoused at a detention
facility hundreds of miles away from their families and now having to face
down this country`s bureaucracy all by themselves, as bizarre as that is,
this is actually far from the worst-case scenario for these kids, because
at least 1,300 immigrant children were detained for three days or more in
adult detention centers as kids from 2008 to 2012, according to research by
the National Immigration Justice Center.
They Only obtained data for 30 out of the 250 DHS facilities
nationwide. So, the real number could be much higher.
Imagine now what it would take to send your child unaccompanied to the
north, what circumstances would push a parent to do that. And now imagine
yourself as the person inside the U.S. government bureaucracy, inside DHS
responsible for sorting through these kids and figuring out how to humanely
get them back home.
Joining me now is Pilar Marrero, immigration reporter for La Opinion.
She`s author of "Killing the American Dream."
And, Pillar, this is something that has been happening for a while,
unaccompanied minors detained. There has been a massive increase of late.
Am I right?
PILAR MARRERO, LA OPINION: Yes, this is obviously not a new thing.
Unaccompanied minors have been coming. And more often than not, they
come here to join parents who are already here who have been working here
for years, many of them undocumented.
But, in the last few years, we have seen a surge in the numbers of
people. And that surge has coincided with an increased level of violence
in Central America, because we must say that these are mostly kids from
Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala who are coming here.
And these three countries and this -- you can see in many reports by
the government and by nonprofit organizations -- for years, we have known
that this crisis was coming. The level of violence, it also has a lot to
do with the gangs that have been deported, the gang members who have been
deported from the United States to those countries, and also organized
crime that`s operating the routes through Mexico to come here to the United
HAYES: So, if I am understanding, the way that The Drudge Report, Jan
Brewer, Republicans have leapt on this to basically -- I think the charge
is that Barack Obama with his desire to give amnesty has basically waved a
big send us your kids sign to the parents of Central America, which has
resulted in this.
And those images you are seeing, the report images, those foil
blankets are basically those marathon blankets people get after marathons
to keep them warm. Those are the threadbare conditions under which these
kids in cots are being kept with those blankets.
What I am hearing from you is, this is not about the Obama
administration pursuing comprehensive immigration reform?
MARRERO: Well, it is not. And these Republicans know this.
They are just using the issue for politics, as it usually happens with
the immigration issue. The reality is, this is a crisis that is the result
of policies that have been put forth by both parties, Democrats and
MARRERO: And also the lack of immigration reform has allowed for this
irregular situation to continue, because if you had laws that actually
would regulate the certain things, increase some of the quotas -- a lot of
these kids are just sons and daughters of workers who are here working in
I just talked to one mother today who paid smugglers to bring her twin
daughter and son here a few months ago, because she was afraid that they
were going to be recruited by the maras, or gangs, in El Salvador. This
mother was desperate.
HAYES: Oh, wow.
MARRERO: And she did all she had to do to get these kids here. It
cost her thousands of dollars.
And she only works in -- she works in factories. So, you may imagine
she doesn`t really make a lot of money.
HAYES: So, that is a fascinating case. So, you have a mother who
immigrates in an undocumented fashion to come work in the States.
MARRERO: Many years ago.
HAYES: Many year ago. She leaves her kids probably in the care of
HAYES: And then as she sees conditions deteriorate in her home
country, she gets so worried, that she pays a lot of money to send them up
with essentially a kind of chaperon. Right?
This is -- you are paying a smuggler. You are hoping they take care.
HAYES: And then that -- under those conditions, that is where you
would see an accompanied minor possibly being detained.
MARRERO: Yes. That`s one.
That`s -- a lot of the cases are people who have parents here.
MARRERO: But there are some other cases where children come by
themselves. Like, teenagers come by themselves escaping, you know,
domestic violence. Or there are many, many different cases.
But, for the most part, what I have seen -- and I have talked to
families -- several families in this case -- these are people who have
parents here who are working in our factories, in our fields. And they
just want to see their kids safe.
And now the question is how the mammoth American government
bureaucracy processes these kids and gets either back home safely or to
their parents safely. And I can`t even begin to imagine what that process
MARRERO: Well, and the thing is, these kids are not allowed to stay
here for the most part.
They have -- immediately, when they get here, they get processed.
They`re supposed to be a maximum of 72 hours in the hands of Customs and
Border Protection Agency, and then they must be transferred to the hands of
Health and Human Services.
They have certain homes where they are sent or refugee institutions
where they are sent. They are approved for these, but right now they can`t
keep up with it because of the numbers. But they are put in deportation
proceedings for the most part. And they -- 70 percent of these kids, 80
percent of these kids end up having no representation. They can`t really
make a case for political asylum and they are sent back.
MARRERO: So, they are not staying here, for the most part.
Pilar Marrero from La Opinion, thank you very much.
MARRERO: Thank you.
HAYES: Coming up right now: the most read piece on "New York"
magazine`s Web site is this, Jonathan Chait`s big pat on the back for
President Obama. And we will talk about it next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 2008)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If we are willing
to work for it and fight for it and believe in it, then I am absolutely
certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell
our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the
sick and good jobs to the jobless.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow
and our planet began to heal. This was the moment when we ended a war and
secured our nation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was candidate Obama`s rousing closing riff in Saint Paul,
Minnesota, on June 3, 2008, when he had essentially secured the nomination
of the Democratic Party for president of the United States.
You will notice, in choosing how to end that speech, he was
highlighting the areas of policy focus for a future Obama administration,
affordable health care, recovery from financial crisis -- hasn`t exactly
happened yet -- addressing climate change, and ending the war in Iraq.
In fact, in a provocative piece in "New York Times," Jonathan Chait
argues that with the announcement of last week`s unprecedented attempts to
tap carbon emissions, the president is putting the final piece of his four-
pronged domestic agenda in place.
Quoting Chait: "The conservative view of President Obama has straddled
two difficult-to-reconcile portraits. One indicts him as a Reagan of the
left. The other casts him as a hapless mediocrity, a Jimmy Carter redux.
There is enormous room left to debate whether Obama`s agenda in all these
areas qualifies as good or bad, but ineffectual seems as though it should
be ruled out at this point."
The items that Barack Obama ran on, that he set out a vision for, an
agenda that people may or may not like, has arguably been checked off.
Despite that, one of the fears that many progressives have is that, while
President Obama may be doing more on carbon emissions than any other
president before him, it still falls short, or put another way:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "THE COLBERT REPORT")
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, "THE COLBERT REPORT": Chris Hayes.
HAYES: Today, historically speaking, has a chance to be the most
important day in the presidency of Barack Obama and today`s huge
announcement was why, the most significant effort by any president ever to
curb carbon emissions in this country.
COLBERT: Yes, it`s the most significant effort by any American
president ever to combat global warming. Second place, of course, is a 43-
way tie for nothing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Joining me now, political consultant Tara Dowdell, Phillip
Agnew, co-founder and executive director of The Dream Defenders, and Josh
Barro, MSNBC contributor, correspondent for "The Upshot" in "The New York
Josh, your reaction. So, the Chait basically piece says you have got
four big-name domestic policy areas.
JOSH BARRO, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Right.
HAYES: You have got jobs in recovery. You have got climate, you have
got health care and you have got education.
HAYES: And the president has done big stuff on all four of them with
this big -- this new EPA announcement.
BARRO: Well, I think it is sort of strange to lump these four things
together, because what Chait is basically that he done anything in each of
these four areas.
I think there are two of them where he`s done something that is really
transformative. I think on health care, you have had this big shift with a
lot more people covered. We have had cost control. But more importantly,
it is setting in motion a set of changes that will happen in health policy
that will lead to more people being covered over time.
On climate, I think this is a really big deal. People don`t pay as
much attention to it because it was regulatory. And a little complicated.
BARRO: but it will restrict carbon emissions in a way that really
matters going forward.
On the other two, on education, the idea that the president has had a
transformative education agenda I think is a bit much. I think he has done
some incremental things that are probably better than nothing. And on the
economy, it was a recovery from crisis. But going forward, there is no
reshaping of the American economy.
HAYES: That`s -- to me, what I always come back to is I think about
that election in 2008 and I think if you rerun the tape, that election
really was about two things. It was about Iraq and health care.
PHILLIP AGNEW, DREAM DEFENDERS: Right.
HAYES: It really was. It was about ending the Iraq war and health
care was -- and we ended the Iraq war and health care reform happened.
HAYES: And as somebody thinking about organizing this sort of next
generation of political activists, what do you see as the legacy,
particularly around things like health care?
AGNEW: I think it is important.
I agree with the article. He`s not terrible, but he`s not great
either. I think the presidency of Obama has really highlighted how
important the states are. All politics truly are local.
AGNEW: If you are in Florida, no matter what the president or the
federal government does on health care, you have got a governor that still
said no to Medicare expansion.
No matter what they do on education, you have still got a school
system that incarcerates more kids than anybody. No matter what they say
about the environment, you still have got a state that is listed by the
federal government as one of the biggest threats to the environment in the
No matter what he says about the economy, black people in the state of
Florida are still amongst the most unemployed in the country. And so while
he is not the worst president ever...
AGNEW: ... while he has kept a lot of promises, if you look at
Florida and on the state level...
HAYES: That`s more of an argument, Tara, about the constraints of how
-- of the presidency, right, and about the backlash politics that came to
his first two years in office.
TARA DOWDELL, POLITICAL CONSULTANT: Right. Right.
Exactly. I think that the president, considering -- everything is
about context. And the context that he came in with was enormous. He had
enormous problems to deal with. And I think given that, the president has
done a very good job.
But I think you make a good point. All politics is local, which is
why people should be voting in their local elections. But I want to add
something. I think the president underestimated two things. I think he
underestimated the viciousness of the Republican Party in blocking his
agenda and I think he underestimated the Democratic Party, because we are
all -- this is a hard party to govern.
We are all very different.
HAYES: Well, that backlash, I want to connect what happened in the
states to what he did in the first two years, because the two are
connected. We will talk about it when we get back.
HAYES: We`re back.
Still with me, Tara Dowdell, Phillip Agnew, and Josh Barro.
And you were making the point about the sort of internal obstacles in
the Democratic coalition...
DOWDELL: Oh, absolutely.
HAYES: ... in terms of navigating all the stuff, particularly on
these domestic policy issues.
People do not give enough time to this issue. Where were the
Democrats when the president was trying to get a lot of this passed? We
weren`t out on the streets protesting the way that you see Moral Mondays
now. We needed Moral Mondays before. We needed Moral Mondays in the
beginning of his administration.
And we don`t have -- we didn`t have the same kind of fire that the Tea
Party did when the president was trying to push many of his agenda items.
HAYES: Well, yes. So, there was this huge backlash.
And it gets -- to me, one of the defining legacies of the Obama
administration is precisely the difference that you were highlighting about
what was happening nationally and what was happening in Florida. And those
two things were related, right?
AGNEW: Right. Right.
HAYES: Because it was Barack Obama`s agenda that pushed this huge
surge in older white voters, conservative white voters in that midterm
election that elected Rick Scott, gave Florida the government it had.
AGNEW: That allow for Rick Scott.
HAYES: Right, that allowed for Rick Scott, and created a government
determined to stymie the Obama presidency.
AGNEW: Yes. Yes. Exactly. Exactly.
And i think this year kind of underscores the importance of people
getting out to the polls. People need to get there. This is a year,
especially in Florida, where, folks, if you don`t go out there in support
on these issues that he`s championing, we`re going to get another backlash
and we`re going to see another resurgence.
And so it`s really important. I have got to wear my executive
director hat. Dream Defenders is doing that. And so it is really
important this year for that to happen in order to back up all these
HAYES: And yet you made the point that when you look -- so I think
there`s -- the best way, I think, to think about the domestic policy legacy
of the president -- and I`m putting aside war and war on terror for a
second -- is the sort of short-term/long-term review. And you made this
point about what the long-term view is.
And in four years, they will have the Medicaid expansion. The 24
states that haven`t signed up for it yet...
HAYES: You think in four years?
HAYES: We are holding you to that.
BARRO: Yes. I mean, Rick Scott flirted briefly with taking the
Medicaid expansion. His Republican legislature held him in.
BARRO: But, basically, there are certain things that has been
resistance to the president that is not durable, either because with the
Medicaid expansion, rejecting it is just terrible policy and you will come
under pressure to implement good policy.
But also, in the long run, this older white base that the resistance
to President Obama activated is a declining share of the electorate over
time. Even Texas` politics will look very different than it does now as
HAYES: We think.
The question is the durability of that backlash. Right?
HAYES: To me, the way -- I think the most useful way to think about
this -- and I thought the Chait piece was good about sort of putting the
architecture of this forward -- is, Bill Clinton was very popular when he
left office. Bill Clinton had a great run of sort of what the temporary
economy of the country looked and felt like during his time, but produced a
lot of long-term legislation that was terrible. Right?
You had -- you had the don`t ask, don`t tell policy. You had the
Effective Death Penalty Act. You got a horrible immigration bill. You got
mandatory minimums, all these things that outlasted the boom economy of the
Barack Obama, I think, is the reverse. Right. I think that actually
the -- what the economy has felt like to ordinary working people during
Barack Obama`s time has been rough. It has not been a walk in the park.
It has recovered, but it`s been rough.
But the thing that he has produced that will outlast his presidency,
particularly the Affordable Care Act, are going to be looked back on years
from now as, like, that was good a piece of legislation.
BARRO: I think that is likely, but I think it`s also likely we will
see a lot of missed opportunities on the economy.
BARRO: The president sort of focused on recovery from this acute
crisis and we did better at that than most other rich countries did.
But there was -- on inequality, even on things like intellectual
property or infrastructure, things that...
HAYES: Or even the folks that you are working with down in Florida,
where it`s like, do things, the kids you are organizing in Florida look
that different under Barack Obama than they did under George W. Bush, than
they did under Bill Clinton?
AGNEW: No, they don`t.
But a lot of new things he has come out and said, Eric Holder has come
out and said about school discipline, about boys and men of color, which
has been problematic. You left out a whole population of people that
needed the help. I think what he has been able to is open the door for
some real organizing on the ground.
HAYES: Organizing around these things like school-to-prison pipeline,
around like sort of rolling back the war on drugs.
AGNEW: Absolutely. So, his words are going to lead to actions by us.
HAYES: That`s interesting.
AGNEW: We have got to follow it up by action. There are mandates
right now without funding, but it`s still a lot of work to be done.
DOWDELL: And one of the sort of secrets is that a lot of the issues
that are impediments to African-American employment are at the local level.
DOWDELL: And so a lot of times, the onus is put on the president for
things. All they can do is give funding to the states, to the local
It`s up to those states to determine what happens. And so again to
your point, that`s why we need people on the ground making sure that that
HAYES: Or you could imagine a situation in which we had 4 percent
unemployment and everything would be better and I think we would all be
happier, and then it just gets wiped away by a crash, which is what
happened with Bill Clinton. Right?
That doesn`t stay in the history books. That`s not something people
can sort of come to depend on 20, 30, 40 years out. And that`s why I think
the Affordable Care Act particularly is so meaningful in this presidency.
Political consultant Tara Dowdell, Phillip Agnew from Dream Defenders
up in New York City, live and in the flesh, and MSNBC contributor Josh
Barro, thank you all.
AGNEW: Thank you.
HAYES: That is ALL IN for this evening.
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
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