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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

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June 17, 2014

Guest: David Corn, Jennifer Granholm, Steven Clemons, David Kelley, Blake
Zeff, Tony Laubach, Richard Socarides


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Should Hillary Clinton be subpoenaed?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Do you think that Clinton is trying to cut off
discussion of Benghazi and do you think she`s trying to get out of
testifying before the New House Select Committee?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: We have this new Benghazi select committee, Trey Gowdy
wants all the facts and I don`t think that we can get to the bottom of all
this. And let`s say, have Hillary Clinton come to testify.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: She testified tonight on FOX News.

were involved. There is no doubt who is leading them, we think we now have
one of the ring leaders in custody.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: There is a great day for our country.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: U.S. Special OPS Forces captured --

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The suspected ring leader of the deadly attack on U.S.
mission in Benghazi.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: The question is what took so long and why now?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Why now? The timing of this --

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Guys have been drinking strawberry frappes and lattes
for 642 days.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Former Secretary of State --

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Hillary Clinton --

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Please welcome to our set.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Hillary Clinton --

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: What a great thing to announce tonight on FOX News --

BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS HOST, "SPECIAL REPORT": Obviously the news today is
on Benghazi and the capture of Abu Khattala.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The perpetrators had been brought to justice, it`s all
too neat. And it`s too cute.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Hillary Clinton somehow orchestrating this?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I don`t think it`s a coincidence. I think this timing
was planned.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: They have lost their minds.


ARI MELBER, GUEST-HOST, "THE LAST WORD": I`m Ari Melber in for Lawrence
O`Donnell. It did happen tonight. Hillary Clinton went into the lion`s
den, FOX News, for 30-minute dual anchor clash. I`m not even going to call
it an interview because it didn`t look like a journalistic discussion. It
looked like a lawyerly deposition as you are about to see. This was
Clinton`s first appearance on FOX since January 2013. And in a sense the
conservative channel has been preparing for it since September 2012 when it
became the place for Benghazi.

There is a reason why so many conservatives think Benghazi will do to
Hillary Clinton what it failed to do to Barack Obama in 2012. FOX has been
telling them for years, it`s the scandal which will bar Democrats from the
White House. By one counts, FOX cited Benghazi on over a thousand programs
in the past year alone.

So, let`s take a look here, what happened when FOX finally got Hillary
Clinton in the room for some face time with their conspiracy theories. The
questions give away the game here. Bret Baier asked, 15 total, 12 strictly
were about Benghazi, and because it`s the only issue you`d want to hear
about from a potential president, his questions were more appropriate when
you listened to him for parsing who was in touched about a crime than how
government officials responded the night of an emergency attack.


BAIER: I have some more specific Benghazi questions. Did you talk to
Charlene Lamb that evening? Did you talk to Secretary Panetta that night?
I certainly did not know of any reports that contradicted the Intelligence
Community talking points at the time that Ambassador Rice went on the TV
shows and Sunday shows? Do you stand by that statement? How did that
report come to you? President Obama, you had a conversation on the phone,
roughly around 10:00 p.m.?


BAIER: Do you talk to him before you put out a statement or after? Do you
know where the President was? Did you talk about the video with President


MELBER: Did you talk to him before or after? Because that makes all the
difference. And after throwing all those hardballs, there may have hoped
for something, anything, incriminating and the answers. But he was talking
to a seasoned lawyer herself and a diplomat and she kept it pretty


CLINTON: No, you know, I can`t recall. I know that the Defense Department
was in the room in the video conference that I held. I do Bret, it was
orally delivered. It went out before. The President was in the White
House numerous occasions.


MELBER: It went on like that. This is not good news for team FOX News or
team Benghazi, you could say it`s not good news for House Republicans. But
that`s redundant because they have already shown they basically are a
combination of team Benghazi and team FOX News. And that is why they
rushed to create that entire committee you remembered dedicated to Benghazi
and fundraised often and argued it would prove once and for all that their
conspiracy theories about some secret Clinton guilt in this tragic murder
of Americans.

If you are a House republican watching FOX News tonight, you might be
wondering whether you have been led astray. If the FOX professionals who
cooked up this obsession, can`t lay a glove on Clinton, how good is that
committee going to be? And Hillary did it all without breaking a sweat.
Her style of course is to ice out even the most conspiratorial lines of
questions, questions that are offensive, some of them in their premises.
The other Clinton in presidential politics always took a more fiery line
with that kind of thing from FOX News.


BILL CLINTON (D), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I will answer all those things on
the merits. First, I want to talk about the context in which this arises.
I`m being asked this on the FOX Network, you did FOX biddings on this show.
You did your nice little conservative hit job on me. What I want to know.


CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS SUNDAY HOST: You don`t think that`s a legitimate

BILL CLINTON: No, it was a perfectly legitimate question, but I want to
know how many people in the Bush administration you asked this question.

WALLACE: I didn`t mean this is going to set you off on such a terror.

BILL CLINTON: You set off on a terror because you didn`t formulate in an
honest way and because you can ask me questions you don`t ask the other

WALLACE: It`s in good faith. Because it`s on people`s mind, sir.

BILL CLINTON: Well, there is a reason it`s on people`s minds, that`s what
I`m trying to make, there`s a reason they`re telling people`s minds because
there have been a series of disinformation campaign to create that


MELBER: Joining me now, MSNBC political analyst David Corn, Washington
Bureau chief for Mother Jones, and former governor of Michigan Jennifer
Granholm, now professor at the University of California, Berkley. Good
evening to you both.



MELBER: David, this was a long time coming. For Bret Baier, it was all
about Benghazi, how did he do?

CORN: Well, you know, I like Bret. He`s one of my most favorite guys at
FOX. I think he`s a pretty good guy. But I think he showed that he was
doing his institutional obligation in asking that many questions. And I
think he actually got it wrong. I think, you know, Hillary Clinton`s story
was so neat and so tight and so without holes that there must be something
there. Don`t you think?

MELBER: I think that`s fair.

CORN: How can it be so consistent? Time and time again unless she`s
covering up something. If you think about it, I mean, imagine, that`s
what`s being said on many blog tonight, of course, the FOX nation. But I
think, you know, he has the right to ask those questions. I think there
are other things that could be asked, you know, questions about say,
climate change, what would you do about the economics of this country? Why
do you want to be president? If you want to be president, how would your
economic vision different from President Barack Obama? There are a lot of
things out there, but he went pure FOX.

MELBER: Pure FOX and Governor, your thoughts here as you look at, as I`m
arguing a nexus between whatever the FOX journalistic entertainment
accusatory complex is and what House Republicans have done which could make
their governance at lot more about pursuing Hillary plan through the
committee process.

GRANHOLM: Yes, I mean, you said it right. They did not lay a glove on her
because she`s telling the truth. Her story is her story. She admits there
is some information lacking, but the information that`s lacking is the
motivation of the guy that captured today. Which hopefully they`ll get out
upon inquiring of him. It`s really -- it`s just too much. There is so
much frothing at the mouth of this Benghazi thing. I think today though,
Ari -- I thought she came across as strong, despite the FOX News efforts to
depose her, strong, confident, clear. Her answers in the CNN interview
was, were just, I was surprised at how crisp they were. How to the point
they were. I just, I don`t know, I thought it was a really great night for
Hillary Clinton.

MELBER: Yes, and Governor, walk us through the strategy on that, because
as you know, sometimes being in too friendly an environment isn`t good for
a politician. There is value sometimes in standing up directly to what
might be considered a tougher, more hostile interview.

GRANHOLM: Yes, in fact, you want to go. I mean, I just asked Chris
Christie, right? You want to go into the environment where you can stand
your ground and look strong and she did exactly that but she also laughed.
She was not about Benghazi, obviously, but she had some moments with Greta
Van Susteren. I thought, you know what I thought was really interesting
tonight in both of those efforts is that, she really did not run from the
woman thing. You know, she made a joke about the Sarah Palin stuff about
ad, hominem attacks were at womenem attacks she said. You know, five years
ago, all of us running for office, we were told to stay away from it. You
don`t want to call attention to your gender.

MELBER: Who would tell you that here, your pollsters, Governor?

GRANHOLM: Yes. Oh, yes. Everybody would say, listen, you know, it`s
obvious, you are a woman, don`t talk about it. You know, you want to be
tough, you want to be -- you know, stay away from your families. She is
totally comfortable in her skin, in the CNN town hall. She said stuff
like, you know the last time around, she once worried about how she was
being judged and what her appearance. She knows that women are judged more
than men. Just saying that alone, acknowledging that for the women who
were watching that, they`re all nodding going, absolutely, thank you,
sister, talk about it.

CORN: I do think that even though she was at FOX, the questions weren`t
that hard. The questions in the CNN interview were not hard at all. They
are like -- what would you do about Syria? What would you do about Iraq?
And she gave I think you are right, Governor, she gave crisp answers, but
she has been preparing for this like she would prepare during the debate
prep in the campaign. So that doesn`t really surprise me that she can
answer this stuff with many references to "Hard Choices" her new book.

But, you know, the FOX questions were, you know, other than just trying to
pin her down on Benghazi which I think was foolish. They didn`t ask any
hard questions. Like if I had her on MSNBC for an interview, I would, OK,
can you tell me why you didn`t get health care passed in `94 and Barack
Obama was able to do it when he was president? What did he learn from
that? And why did you -- what was the screw ups from back then?


CORN: I mean, there are things about her career that could really be, you
know, illuminated, you know, from the right, from the left, from the
middle, just from anywhere, with some really good, hard questions.

MELBER: And, Governor, one of the hardest questions she may have gotten
was one she`s gotten before, how are you different than Bill Clinton`s
administration? Maybe not a super fair question for a former first lady,
but she still struggled to define that.

GRANHOLM: Well, I mean, the thing for her. And she made it clear when
asked the question about whether she was going to run, and she said, I`m
going to only run if I have answers to the questions about what is your
vision? I mean, David you were just mentioning this, what would be things
be looking like under Hillary Clinton? But she -- this is not like why
she`s there today. She is there about her book and about the experiences
of secretary of state. At the moment, where she raises her hand, if she
does do so, she will have those answers, and she will have them down. But
I loved the way the whole thing ended on at least CNN when she said, you
know, I`ve got a grandchild coming. And I don`t want to look beyond the
grandchild at the moment to the next thing. I want to experience life in
the moment. And I thought it was a really genuine day.

MELBER: Yes, I know that was interesting. And it may be just a book tour.
Sometimes for politicians a book tour is more than a book tour.



MELBER: David Corn and former Governor Jennifer Granholm, thank you both.

CORN: Thank you.

GRANHOLM: Thank you so much.

MELBER: And coming up, a potential presidential candidate today described
the gun lobby as a minority terrorizing the majority. We`ll tell you who.
And we are getting word of another tornado tonight in Nebraska after last
night`s devastating double tornadoes which destroyed basically the large
part of a whole town, we will going to talk to a storm chaser on the ground
for that report and the President heads to New York to talk LBGT rights.


MELBER: Take a look at this, right here, you seeing what it looks like
when U.S. Special Forces captured a suspected terrorist. This whole thing
took just 45 seconds. The video was obtained by the Washington Post in
Libya last year when Special Forces captured in Libya. Libya is suspected
of participating in the `98 bombing of two U.S. embassies in East Africa.
It took 13 years to find him and he is now in New York awaiting trial set
for later this year. The Obama administration is bringing another
suspected terrorist to the U.S. to face charges today. John McCain said
the President is wrong and should send the suspect to Gitmo instead.

And next up, I`m going to talk to a former U.S. attorney who has prosecuted
some of America`s most high profile terror cases, including the 1993 World
Trade Center bombing about President Obama`s plan for justice here at home.



PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: It`s important for us to send the
message to the world. That when Americans are attacked, no matter how long
it takes, we will find those responsible and we will bring them to justice.


MELBER: Today, the President spoke out for the first time about the new
capture and interrogation of one of the suspected terrorists accused of
leading that attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, the Obama
administration is holding the suspect Ahmed Abu Khattala and questioning
him for intelligence purposes before transferring him to the U.S. to face a
capital trial. While many of course cheered the capture of this terror
suspect, already several Republican senators attack the Obama
administration for prosecuting Khattala for crimes that could lead to the
death penalty.

Why? Well, Senator Lindsey Graham said, quote, "I hope we gather
intelligence to the law of war and interrogation, he should be going to
Gitmo." And Senator John McCain felt it was self-evident that the suspect
should go to Limbo and Gitmo instead of the federal courts in the U.S.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I`d bring him to Guantanamo, where else can
you take him?


MELBER: Yes, where else? Where else could you take him? Well, according
to John McCain in 2008, the answer would be literally anywhere else,
because Gitmo he said, should be closed.


MCCAIN: Guantanamo has become a symbol and it should be closed in my view.
It`s Abu Ghraib, it`s mistreatment of prisoners, it`s all of the things
that have damaged America`s image in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Are you still struggling in favor of closing Guantanamo?

MCCAIN: Yes, I am.

We should close Guantanamo and work with our allies and work with our
allies to forge a new international understanding on the disposition of
dangerous detainees under our control.


MELBER: There are some tough calls to make about how to dispose of those
detainees who remain stuck at Gitmo. But prosecuting terrorists in our
federal courts is not a tough call at all. It`s been part of U.S. national
security strategy and DOJ policy under administration in both parties.
It`s how prosecutors pursue the World Trade Center bombers and terrorist
Jose Padilla, and would be shoe bomber Richard Reid and Unabomber and the
Oklahoma City bomber, well, dozens of other terrorists.

When people say, we shouldn`t prosecute terrorists in our courts, they`re
making a long standing precedence sounds like some sort of new Obama
experiment. And really, it`s hard to take that seriously. Maybe that`s
why the last time, talk of a terrorist trial in Manhattan came up the Daily
Show treated right wing complaints as a joke.


UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Incredibly, former Federal Prosecutor David Kelly, who
convicted infamous terrorist Ramzi Yousef, the USS Cole bombers and Martha
Stewart thinks we should try them KSM here.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: You`ve had some of the biggest trials in the history of
this country, in federal court in Manhattan, there has been no circus,
there has been no traffic tie-ups. And I think that that will be the case

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: But what about what the criminal proceedings are going
to do to my day?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: That`s probably a small price to pay for the cost of


MELBER: Joining me now is that former U.S. Attorney David Kelley who
prosecuted Ramzi Yousef, the `93 World Trade Center bombing led the
investigation on the attack on the USS Cole. And I should mention I used
to practice law with him. And we are also joined by MSNBC contributor
Steven Clemons who is a Washington editor-at-large for the Atlantic. Good
evening, gentlemen.



MELBER: David, let`s start with how this works. The complaint being that
somehow it is dangerous or not strong to prosecute a terrorist in our

KELLEY: Well, I think that just belies history here. You just reeled off
a -- cases where there had been successful prosecution. Now I challenge
you to find a list that comes even close to that where their prosecutions
and finality and justice that has come out of Gitmo or tribunals.

MELBER: And the safety aspects, you say, people say, well, what if these
guys are near us in Manhattan or whatever it may be?

KELLEY: Well, they consent that again, you point this little cases where
the cases have, before9/11, very important 9/11, very important terrorism
cases have been prosecuted with very stiff security and without incident
and even post 9/11, where our security has even improved, then our
technology is improved. Most recently, terrorism case prosecuted virtually
without incident.

MELBER: And Steven, David mentions the records here, the record in
Guantanamo for those military tribunals is also a handful about seven
actual convictions through the military commissions. Many, many more
Guantanamo detainees dealt with another ways are stuck in limbo. And
Steve, when you look at these Republicans saying send them to Gitmo, a
place we said we should close, how is that even good politics when it looks
so hypocritical?

CLEMONS: It`s not. I mean, you have people like Lindsey Graham and John
McCain who swore oaths like everyone who works for the federal government
to uphold and defend the constitution of the United States which implies
defending and upholding the legal system and the basic rights of Americans
and others that are tried in this system. They`re acting as if they don`t
have confidence in our legal system to manage the kind of terrorism and
criminal acts and horrific acts that are happening abroad.

People like Colin Powell have long said that Gitmo should never have been
used in this case. That all of those detainees should have been put
through the federal court system. And what you haven`t mentioned with
someone like David Kelly is he`s achieved conviction after conviction after
conviction. It`s not as if the U.S. court system went soft and failed to
achieve the kinds of convictions and delivering justice in these cases that
were very important.

MELBER: Yes, and so, Steve, when you have that sort of automatic response
from the McCains and the Kelly Ayottes and the Grahms here, is it also
doubling back to Benghazi the silly part of the Benghazi conspiracy that we
discussed earlier in the show here, that they can`t deal, just politically,
they can`t deal with what we might call good news on Benghazi, we caught a
suspected terrorist. And if he did do it, with his day in court, we get to
meet out justice, that should be a good thing for all of us?

CLEMONS: Well, look, I hate to say it. Because I have such respect for
Senator McCain`s service to this country, he has been so judicious at
various points on matters like torture, campaign finance on Guantanamo and
Abu Ghraib. I mean, he has been a great leader in many, many ways. But
lately among many leaders there has been a kind of knee-jerk messiness in
their reaction to President Obama`s successes. And even in things, you
know, if you jump out of Libya, for a moment and this very important
capture, you have cases that, you know, whether it`s Syria and the
expansion of ISIS in Iraq, where you know, John McCain has been lauding
someone like Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia for supporting, you know,
Syrian moderates or Syrian rebels. And those rebels that Bandar in the
southeast were funding ISIS. So, it`s just a sloppiness in the reaction of
many Republicans against all of the White House achievements. And it`s
across the Middle East. It`s not limited to the Benghazi situation.

MELBER: Yes. And you mentioned that sloppiness, and David, there is a
legal aspect of this as well. Which, if you put aside, the hypocrisy is
still important for people to understand. General Martin Dempsey talking
about how you pursue some of these suspects said, quote, they don`t fall
under the authorization of force from Congress of the United States,
looking at the Benghazi suspects. So, we wouldn`t have the capability to
find them and kill them either with the pilot aircraft, or an assault on
the ground, talking about drones there. Therefore, they have to be
captured. And we would ask them provide capture options to do that. How
does that work when you were investigating the USS Cole, where there are
individuals, however bad they might be. As a matter of constitutional law,
the U.S. can`t always just kill them.

KELLEY: No, you can`t kill them. And, you know, there`s not just a legal
aspect. There`s, you know, humane aspects as well. And you need to go in
there and be very conscious of what you`re going to be doing with them once
you get your hands on them. I mean, if you are not going to be killing
them, where will you going to put them? And obviously, you need to be
mindful of the constitutional guarantees and so forth. But never have we
encountered in those investigations a hindrance by the constitutional
guarantees that so many people just have a knee-jerk reaction to.

I think the Miranda thing for instance is kind of a red herring, because
Miranda is, will you be using these statements in a court of law? And if
you are not, then you can go ahead and interrogate all you want, and in
fact, law enforcement interrogation has been founded is much more effective
than the special interviewing techniques used at Gitmo, to getting actual
intelligence. And so the question is, for instance, when they just went in
and got this guy in Libya today or over the weekend, Sunday and then got

MELBER: Still holding him, yes.

KELLEY: So presumably, they have a good enough case against him. They
didn`t need his statements, anyway.

MELBER: Right.

KELLEY: So you go in there. And, you know, you may get statements from
him, some actual intelligence, great. But it`s not going to affect the
trial. And it`s not going to, you know, it`s not going to move the needle
either way.

MELBER: And so, briefly, you think folks who say, oh, well, if we get him
in custody at all and mirandize him at some point, we sacrifice
intelligence, they are disingenuous or they don`t understand how it works.

KELLEY: That hasn`t been the experience, frankly. And to the extent that
people say it is, it just hasn`t been supported by the facts.

MELBER: David Kelly, former U.S. Attorney. Steve Clemons from The
Atlantic. Thank you both for joining me tonight.

CLEMONS: Thank you.

KELLEY: Thank you.

MELBER: Coming up, who described the gun lobby as a minority terrorizing
the majority? It`s someone who could be the next president of the United
States. We`ll tell you who. Stay tuned.


MELBER: In the spotlight tonight the NRA faces some new opponents who
won`t back down.


gun is a bad guy not having a gun.



MELBER: Parents and others who have lost family members due to gun
violence gathered there as you see in Washington today to demand some real
common sense gun reform in this country. It was strong stuff from people
who know the cost of gun violence first hand. But are the politicians
listening? Well, at a new town hall tonight, it was a citizen, not a
reporter, who raised this very issue with Hillary Clinton.


GAIL SANTA MARIA, MARYLAND: Hi, my name is Gail Santa Maria, I`m from
Maryland. I`m a teacher. My question is about guns. I am very concerned
about the proliferation of guns in America especially as it pertains to
school shootings.


SANTA MARIA: Do you think that reinstating the ban on assault weapons and
banning high capacity magazines would do any good?

CLINTON: Yes. I do. I do.

SANTA MARIA: Good, you know.

CLINTON: You know, my --


CLINTON: First of all I think as a teacher or really any parent, what`s
been happening with these school shootings should cause everybody to just
think hard. We balance competing values all the time. And I was
disappointed that the Congress did not pass universal background checks
after the horrors of the shootings at sandy hook and now we`ve had more.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Seventy four more.


MELBER: That is certainly a logical response and Clinton didn`t just stop
there. She did something that had a lot of people junk out of their seats
in our newsroom. She suggested a minority of NRA activists are terrorizing
the majority.


CLINTON: I don`t think any parent, any person, should have to fear about
their child going to school or going to college because someone, for
whatever reason, psychological, emotional, political, ideological, whatever
it means, could possibly enter that school property with an automatic
weapon and murder innocent children, students, teachers.

I`m well aware that this is a hot political subject and again I will speak
out no matter what role I find myself in. But I believe we need a more
thoughtful conversation, we cannot let a minority of people and that`s what
it is, it is a minority of people hold a viewpoint that terrorizes the
majority of people.


MELBER: Joining me now, Karen Finney, a former press secretary and MSNBC
contributor and Blake Zeff, former Obama presidential campaign, aide, a
former aide to Hillary Clinton and now, an editor at

Good evening.


MELBER: Blake, what are we looking at there? What is the significance to

BLAKE ZEFF, POLITICAL EDITOR, SALON.COM: Well, look. you know, I think
there may be some reaction to the word terrorize, we can expect any time
she is saying anything, Hillary Clinton, particularly the spotlight on her
right now, there will be some sort of reaction.

But what I take a step back here and look at what the purpose of this book
tour is and this media tour for Hillary Clinton. I think in a big way,
what she is doing is test driving her answers to a lot of questions that
are inevitably going to come up.

And so, for example, last week we saw her get asked about gay marriage.
And she had about 15 different answers and didn`t go that well. But then
well and behold today in a town hall, she was asked about it again. And
she said, you know what, like most of the country have evolved. And I
suspect that when she -- and that answer was very good. And there wasn`t
much controversy about it. And she kind of improved her answer.

Test drove the first one, didn`t go that well. Refined it, has a new
answer. I think you are going to see this in another issue where she got
ask about guns again, I thought the her answer was quite good. It was
emotional. She felt impassioned about it. Those types of words, you know,
terrorized are the things, I think the things that she is going to refine
if there is a reaction to it. She will come back with an answer. It is a
little sharper.

But that`s what this is about. This getting out there, getting a little of
the rough stuff, test driving some of these answers. You know, there is
never a lack of pressure with Hillary Clinton at all. But there is a
little less pressure now in the middle of the campaign so she has the
ability to --.

MELBER: Right. And look, Karen, when you look at that it`s always a
backhanded compliment when someone says that a collision I politician seems
human because it raises the question of whether they are secretly a robot.


MELBER: And yet, I wonder to Blake`s point, partly what we are seeing
either as an or organic thing because she has been out of the spotlight and
as secretary of state who is not in politics or as a choice to err more on
the side of being human or this speaking about how you feel, there is
nothing weird about saying the NRA`s viewpoint and put a strangle hold on
common sense safety regulation. That`s how a lot of people feel. We know,
though, the Democrats don`t usually say it quite like that.

FINNEY: Well, here`s the thing. And this is why I hope she doesn`t back
off and I don`t think she will back off. Remember in the interview that
she did with Diane Sawyer and others, she said, look, I`m going to speak my
mind. And that is my point, that maybe she`s had some missteps in the last
couple weeks. But this I think was spot on. Because to your point, a
majority of Americans, a majority of gun owners actually agree with the
idea of gun safety, agree with background checks, agree with the idea of,
you know, collecting data so that we better understand as a health crisis
what`s happening.

And what she did that was so brilliant on this issue from a communication
standpoint, she really flipped the script. And there is a lot of the way
that President Clinton did in 1994 with the crime bill, where he was
surrounded by cops all the time, right? So the conversation was about
police officers trying to keep us safe.

And I think in this instance, what we are talking about is, yes, the NRA is
a small group of people that terrorizes the rest of us and essentially, I
mean, we have talked about this before. The many things they block. They
get into pieces of legislation, they`re blocking the surge and general
right now for heaven sake because you agree in doing research.

So, I actually think a lot of people will respond and I hope she doesn`t
back off because it was such a good answer and I do think it will resonate
with people.

MELBER: Yes. And I don`t think it was insignificant that she was
speaking, as I mentioned, directly to a teacher, right, in the cadence back
and forth the is different than speaking to a journalist or a Bret Baier,
if you will. And that in that spirit, I do want to play some more from
that moving event today. Here`s, I`m going to play an uncle whose nephew
was killed by gun violence in Aurora and who is speaking about this, mixing
the politics which is real because politics is withstanding in the way of
these reforms with the human side. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m a Republican. I vote. But I`m not going to vote
as a Republican if my Republican leaders are not willing to take the step
that they need to take to protect our children and our families in our
communities, Mike Kauffman.


MELBER: Karen, you do we figure out that piece of this, which is, people
standing up on behalf of their communities against the NRA, rather than it
being the thing, of the NRA versus politicians?

FINNEY: Well, look, I think you are starting to see more and more of that
and I think you are starting to more venues, I mean, like not one more and
more avenues for people to come together and stand up like that and to call
out legislators by name.

But I do think that from a political standpoint, you know, the gentleman,
one of the kids who are killed in Santa Barbara`s father, like he said,
like this is -- we need courage on the part of politicians.

And you know, in 2008, Hillary was asked about this. And she was able to
kind of walk that fine line of, you know, balancing second amendment rights
with keeping people safe. And this idea that Democrats for too long have
bought into the NRA language that somehow those two things have to be
separate. And I think that is -- so politically, those two things have to
come together. And then I think on the personal side, we need more
advocates like you saw today coming out and telling their stories.

MELBER: Right. And then Blake, when you bring that back to the book tour
that may not be a book tour, what is this a potential issue that actually
she drives through in the democratic base for her argument or why she
should be the nominee?

ZEFF: Well Look, I think this is, you know, I think Karen is quite right.
This is how most Americans feel. This isn`t just a democratic primary
issue. This is nationally, you know, you got 80 or 90 percent of people
support background check in common sense measures. And one of the things I
think is important when you look at how to do the messaging on this issue,
is to -- you can split many gun owners from the NRA itself. There are many
gun owners who support common sense background checks and other measures
like that. And the NRA who in large part is representing gun manufacturers
and want to make sure there are all sorts of restrictions that protect
their bottom line is different from the typical gun owner and to the extent
that you can split those two groups, that`s a recipe for success.

MELBER: And a road to making sure that for her, her campaign is about some
things other than just the retread of `08, if they want to come up, at
least, north of 49 percent, close but not quite less.

FINNEY: And look what`s happened since 2008, Ari, in terms of gun
violence. I mean, there is more to talk about since then.

MELBER: No, that is true as well.

Karen Finney, Blake Zeff, thank you very much for joining me tonight.

Coming up, we are going to talk to a storm chaser about the bizarre and
dangerous double tornadoes that destroyed most of the town and about
whether these kinds of storms are getting worse.


MELBER: Brett Smiley is a candidate for the mayor of Providence, Rhode
Island. He is running a campaign as styled after films by the legendary
director Wes Anderson. He is an Academy Award-winning screen writer. He
did the "Royal Tennebaums," "The Fantastic Mr. FOX, " Rushmore," one of my
personal favorite and the "Grand Budapest hotel." You can sure relate to
one of those. Well, here is Smiley`s campaign ad.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m the kind of guy who has finished whatever I`ve

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Brett Smiley`s best vacation we`ve ever had.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Brett is the most organized person. Who else would
propose marriage on a Powerpoint presentation?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have plan for public education, job creation. My
plan for public safety, tax is hand guns, like we tax cigarettes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s a big idea. Are you excited about it?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a plan for public transportation for economic
development. Plan for our environment.


MELBER: Smiley has four opponents in the democratic primary which is in
August. Unfortunately for him, he is not running in Brooklyn.

All right, up next, chasing one tornado may seem scary enough. In
Nebraska, there were two. Stay tuned.


MELBER: For the second straight night, severe weather is hitting eastern
Nebraska, parts of the state under a tornado warning right now. And
earlier this hour, a tornado was spotted just east of Coal Ridge, Nebraska.

Now, yesterday, Nebraska many looked down their windows and saw this
massive tornado ripping up power lines. You can see there just destroying
everything in its path. And a few people actually saw two tornadoes.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is another, there is another tornado.


MELBER: That is an unreal sight. And those tornadoes touched down
simultaneously, just about a mile apart Monday evening. They killed two
people, including one 5-year-old girl. And they injured over a dozen
others. Both tornadoes had estimated wind speeds of about 165 miles per
hour. And shortly after they touched down, the second tornadoes hit the
town of Pilger, Nebraska, it destroyed the city hall, the fire department.
The town`s business district is basically gone. You can see the
destruction there.

The tornado also leveled about 50 homes in the remote community. This is
about 75 miles northwest of Omaha. Now, President Obama has the compared
the area a disaster area. Nebraska governor, Dave Heineman toured the
damage in Pilger earlier today.


GOV. DAVE HEINEMAN (R), NEBRASKA: I have declared a state of emergency so
we can activate all of our assets as state government, including the
Nebraska national guard. You see a number of them already here today. You
know, if you see the modem of the town, this is a tough little town and
they`re not going to die. In Nebraska, that doesn`t happen.


MELBER: Joining me on the phone, professional tomorrow chaser,
meteorologist, Tony Laubach.

Good evening to you. We had some report in the last hour of a kind of a
multi-vortex tornado that was going to be near Coal Ridge. What do you
know about that?

were actually a couple of tornadoes that touched down near Coal Ridge. The
storm, itself, actually was stationary and produced at least two if not
three very large tornadoes. Sketchy reports of damage. I have heard of
one farm that has been hit. But other than that, things are still
developing at this hour.

MELBER: And Tony, you were there on the ground yesterday witnessing this.
We`ve got some of these images up showing people just remarkable also
completely destructive. How does this compare to some other tornadoes that
you have covered if your work?

LAUBACH: This is unlike anything I have ever seen in my entire career of
storm chasing. The two very significant tornadoes ongoing at the same
time. It`s not uncommon to see two tornadoes at the same time. But a lot
of times, a big tornado and a satellite tornado. This being two completely
independent tornadoes was certainly a once in a lifetime event for me.

MELBER: And do you have any way to predict when you get these sort of
double tornadoes or multiple vortices?

LAUBACH: I have no knowledge in how something this is predicted. You
know, it is hard enough to predict where one tornado is going to happen,
let alone two. And it makes it, you know, that much more after a challenge
trying to figure out when the storms are going to produce one tornado let
alone two massive tornadoes like they did yesterday.

MELBER: Yes. And are these storms getting worse, can you tell us? And
also, if you would, you were there in Pilger, how are people there coping
from what you saw on the ground?

LAUBACH: You know, it`s a slow recovery process for most of these people.
You know, it was a tragedy of epic proportions with most of that town being
wiped out. And it is going to be a slow recovery. But you know, they`ll
get through it. Their motto said never die. I believe very much that will
be the case.

In terms of being able to say that storms are getting stronger, it`s so
hard to say because we have more people watching storms now than we ever
did back in the past. And we got more cities, you know, bigger sprawled
areas now where a lot of these tornadoes can hit. So, you know, it`s kind
of a mix of more tornadoes being reported and just bigger cities, more
people out in the path of these tornadoes.

MELBER: Yes. I mean, the images are really remarkable, the destruction
completely heart breaking.

Tony Laubach, storm chaser, thanks for your time. Please stay safe.

LAUBACH: I will. Thank you very much.

MELBER: And coming up, President Obama talks for the first time about his
executive order to ban discrimination by federal contractor against LBGT


MELBER: And some soda pop news tonight, California will not be following
the lead in New City mayor Michael Bloomberg in that war on sugary drinks.
The legislative committee voted Dana Ville (ph), that would have require
warning labels on sodas and high caloric drink, killing the bill. Beverage
industry lobbyist argue that it was unfair because it didn`t apply to all
bad in fluids and drinks. Here in New York, we think we got to able to
drink what we want. That`s another reason to change up the approach.

Anyway, up next, President Obama came to New York tonight. And he brought
a big argument for equality with him.


MELBER: Tonight right here in New York city, President Obama addressed
over 500 attendees at the Democratic Party`s the annual LBGT Gala. The
president spoke for the first time about that executive order
discriminating on people based on tear orientation or gender identity.


OBAMA: We have laws that say Americans can`t be fired from their jobs for
the color of their skin or for the religion or because of the disability.
But every day, millions of Americans go to work knowing they could lose
their job, not because of anything they did but because of who they are.

That is not right. It is wrong. Now, Congress has been considering
legislation to protect LBGT workers for decades. I said for decades. Last
November, it finally looked like we were getting somewhere. They Senate
passed ENDA, the employment non-discrimination act, had strong my partisan
support. Much shockingly enough, the house refused to act.

That`s why I`ve directed my staff to prepare for my signature an executive
order prohibiting discrimination by federal contractors on the basis of
sexual orientation and gender identity.

In the United States of America who are you and who you love shouldn`t be a
fireable offense. It would be better, by the way, if Congress passed a
more comprehensive law that didn`t just cover federal contractors. Don`t
take the pressure off Congress.


MELBER: Joining me now a man that was there tonight, Richard Socarides.
He is a former special assistant and senior advisor to President Clinton on
the range of issues including gay rights.

Good evening.

RICHARD SOCARIDES, LGBT ACTIVIST: Good evening. Thanks for having me.

MELBER: You are welcome. How was it tonight?

SOCARIDES: It was -- the president was very warmly received. I think we
saw tonight a fully evolved President Barack Obama on gay rights. It was
interesting that, you know, he gave, the last time he spoke to this group
was three years ago. And even tow don`t ask, don`t tell has been repealed
and he was fighting the defensive act if court, he had not endorsed
marriage equality yet. Three years ago, last time he spoke before this
audience, and that he got a number of -- three years ago, he got a number
of hecklers. Today it was a all -- it was love-in.

MELBER: Yes. And you actually wrote about this. You say five years ago
when the president first took of the, many gay activists, including me
criticized Obama for not moving quickly enough to end don`t ask, don`t tell
and support marriage equality. Now he seems on a trajectory to make gay
rights one of his administration`s most lasting accomplishments. Obama may
finally have the timing right.

You, obviously, care deeply about these fundamentally moral issues. But
your time in the White House and the way you put this relates to political
pragmatism as well?

SOCARIDES: Yes, I mean, he was for sure slow out of the gate on some of
these issues. I mean, you remember that he had a crumbling economy to deal
with when he became president and took office in the first term. But we
expected him to move more quickly. And he was slow out of the gate. But
he has certainly made up for lost time. And there were a couple key
moments, you know, right before his reelection when he endorsed marriage
equality, when the justice department started top coming in on the side of
gay rights plaintiffs.

So, you know, with this executive order that he said on Monday that he
would sign as soon as the Supreme Court rules in the hubby-lobby case. You
know, he has pretty much given the gay rights community everything he has
asked for.

MELBER: Yes. And he mentioned, as we have been reporting, and we spoke to
Barney Frank about it last night. He is saying, did do well in the House
at one point, did do well in the Senate, can`t get over the line, 205 co-
sponsors now. The trajectory there is good, but you have a house that
doesn`t want to bring things to the floor even when they have a majority?

SOCARIDES: Yes. I mean, ENDA, the bill that would provide federal
employment protection is non-discrimination for LBGT workers has a lot of
popular support. It should pass the Congress. And that`s what the
president has been advocating for, rightfully so.

But it will not pass in the Republican house because they are just not
interested in passing any legislation that helps gay people.

MELBER: Briefly, do you think there is anything symbolic that could be
important from the White House? You know, more gay marriages on the White
House lawn or something?

SOCARIDES: Well, listen. I think -- well, not that. I think that that
might be overdoing it. Although, it might be a nice touch.

MELBER: I mean, I think it would be cool.

SOCARIDES: Yes. It would be cool. You know, president -- I guess mayors
can marry people I`m not sure the president can. But maybe the president
can have a special thing and maybe we`ll see that will happen. Listen, I
think that next year or surely the year after that the Supreme Court will
weigh in on this again, it will be important to have a justice department
that is working towards getting a federal, validation of a federal marriage

MELBER: There you have it. Richard Socarides gets tonight`s "LAST WORD."

I am Ari Melber, in for Lawrence O`Donnell. You can also find me on
Facebook at



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