'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Saturday, June 21st, 2014
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UP with STEVE KORNACKI
June 21, 2014
Guest: Nancy Youssef, Patrick Murphy, Michael Kay, Emily Sussman,
Alexander Burns, Scott Bauer, Ken Vogel, Kevin Gover
KRYSTAL BALL, MSNBC GUEST HOST: The direct line from the 2003 invasion to
what`s happening in Iraq today.
Thank you for getting up with us on this summer solstice. I am Krystal
Ball. Steve Kornacki is taking off the longest day of the year. You know
he thought about that too.
But we want to begin with what it looks like in Baghdad. Just earlier this
morning, a military parade of thousands marching through the streets. Not
only have young Iraqi Shiites answered the call for volunteers to fight
the Sunni al Qaeda splinter group called ISIS, they`re also being joined by
members of the Iraqi army who are re-enlisting at this point.
The government is even offering free flights to the capital who soldiers
who deserted and found themselves stranded. The show of force likely to
raise sectarian tensions. Security officials say this morning that Sunni
militants have seized an Iraqi crossing on the border with Syria. About 30
Iraqi troops were killed.
The officials say that people are now crossing back and forth freely. The
Iraqi government is also facing its own tensions from within. The
spiritual leader of Iraq`s Shiite majority is now saying that it`s time for
new leadership. That`s a not so subtle way of saying without saying that
it`s time for Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki to go.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to travel to the region soon
to discuss the stability of Iraq. Part of that is likely to be made
dealing with the request of Iraq Shiite neighbor to the north, Iran, has
asked the U.S. for air support to counter the rebels there in Iraq.
The posters in this picture from Tehran yesterday are leading Iraqi Shiite
cleric, Grand Ayatollah Al Sistani. NBC News foreign correspondent, Ayman
Mohyeldin is live in the northern city of Erbil, Iraq this morning. Ayman,
given the sectarian tensions and how they seem to be escalating, is a
political solution even a real possibility?
AYMAN MOHYELDIN, MSNBC NEWS FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly if you
ask some of the officials in power, particularly here in the Kurdish
regional government, everybody insists. You know, I sat down with the
Kurdish prime minister today and he told me there is no military solution
to this, there is only a political solution. That political solution has
to begin with the leadership of this country to try to come up with a new
A military solution may buy time and set the ISIS fighters back on their
heels, but it doesn`t solve the underlying grievances that exist among the
Sunni-Arab community or the Sunni-Arab population here that are really
fueling some of the resentment against the Iraqi government and leading to
some of these fractures along sectarian lines.
This is fundamentally a political problem that manifests itself along
sectarian lines. Right now the only solution, according to some of the
officials I`ve been speaking to is a political one. I`m not sure that
Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki is convinced by that. I think some of the
people around him want to address this militarily and that`s the message
coming out of Baghdad. They`re trying to address this situation as a
threat by terrorists, and they want to deal with it militarily.
BALL: Ayman, I guess one of the big questions is here, obviously you have
ISIS, something like 10,000 ISIS fighters there, but they have been
supported by more moderate Sunnis who have joined them or let them come in
and take over places like Mosul. If there was a more inclusive government,
with or without Al Maliki, do you think more moderate Sunnis would be open
to that political solution?
MOHYELDIN: Absolutely. You know, we`ve seen this work in the past. Keep
in mind when the U.S. was here, they were actually able to use the local
Sunni tribes and the local Sunni population in what was then called the
awakening councils to fight al Qaeda back in Iraq, but that was back in the
day very posed a threat to the American soldiers.
So a lot of the ISIS support that is now coming from the local communities
includes members that were former regime officials under Saddam Hussein,
former military officers and the local senior tribal leaders. Those groups
can be co-opted into the political process if they`re given a seat at the
But right now, they have been marginalized over the past six to seven
months and that`s why there is this ground swell of support that ISIS is
able to tap into and actually advance rather easily through those areas.
BALL: All right, thank you so much to Ayman Mohyeldin in Erbil, Iraq,
please say safe.
We want to turn now to what it looks like in Iraq in the immediate
aftermath of the invasion in the wake of the vacuum created when coalition
forces drove Saddam Hussein and his government from power, a moment that
many people believe has a whole lot to do with the situation Iraq finds
itself in now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): this is the Olympia hospital in
downtown Baghdad, stripped completely bare by looters. They were still
there when we arrived, shamelessly grabbing a few final items. Two young
boys even removing the light bulbs. Many ordinary Iraqis are getting
extremely angry about sights like this and the Red Cross demanding that the
Americans now act.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a duty of the occupying power to do so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALL: Widespread looting not just in hospitals, but in schools and power
plants and, most famously, the ransacking of the National Museum. The only
building that U.S. forces protected was the oil ministry. Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld`s reaction at the time to the looting was, quote,
But the U.S. military had been warned about the high potential for looting
once the Iraqi government was removed from power. The Sunni regime of
Saddam Hussein that had ruled with an iron fist and suppressed the Shia
majority and Kurdish minority, sometimes by gassing them to death that,
regime was gone.
In its place, chaos ruled. Order was eventually restored at great cost
both in terms of the billions of dollars that were spent or lost and the
more than 4,000 U.S. servicemen and women who gave their lives. A new
government backed by the coalition was voted in by the Shia majority and
that`s the government now led by Prime Minister Al Maliki.
But as President Obama told "Morning Joe`s" Mika Brzezinski in an interview
that will air on Monday, Iraq has changed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKA BRZEZINSKI, "MORNING JOE": You said that the war was ended in Iraq.
You said al Qaeda was decimated. You said it was stable.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was. But just because
something is stable two years ago or four years ago doesn`t mean that it`s
stable right now. What we have is a situation in which in part because of
growing mistrust between Sunni and Shia, some of the forces that have
always possibly pulled Iraq apart are stronger now. Those forces that
could keep the country united are weaker. It is ultimately going to be up
to the Iraqi leadership to try to pull the politics of the country back
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALL: If you spend any time reading about Iraq, you will quickly find out
that the tribal divisions in the region do go back to the seventh century.
But the problems that Iraq is facing right now are not about fighting a
dispute that`s thousands of lines old. A direct line can be drawn from
that 2003 invasion to what is happening right now today.
Sunnis used to control the government absolutely until the U.S. and
coalition forces changed all that. So now Shiites run the show just as
absolutely. Sunnis don`t trust that the current government will ever
represent their interests. The same can be said for the Kurds.
So as long as that`s the case, the radical Sunni terrorist group known as
ISIS has all the support that it needs for its campaign to take back at
least part of Iraq, city by city and day by day.
Joining us now, Nancy Youssef, Mid-East Bureau Chief from "McClatchy"
newspaper, MSNBC contributor, Patrick Murphy, former Democratic House
member from Pennsylvania who was the very first veteran of the Iraq war to
serve in Congress, and also Michael Kay, a retired British lieutenant
colonel and a reporter with six operational tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Thank you all so much for joining me.
Nancy, I want to start with you about this question of a political solution
and what`s likely to happen with Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki. He`s under
a lot of pressure from within his own party, obviously from the U.S., from
Do you think it`s possible for him himself to change and forge a more open,
inclusive government, or does he really have to go to begin the march
towards what we hope is a potential political solution?
NANCY YOUSSEF, "MCCLATCHY" NEWSPAPERS: Well, there are two issues at hand.
One is Nuri Al Maliki himself who at his very core really believes in
defending the Shia and the Shia cause. He has been like that from the very
beginning. I`ve interviewed him in the past and he`d always spoke in a
quite sectarian nature.
So asking him to come forward and being a national consensus leader is a
challenge. Another factor is that he has a long history of not being
inclusive from the perspective of the Sunnis in particular and also the
Kurds and so how one overcomes that history is quite difficult.
And thirdly, he feels that he has reached out in the past and has been
misled and given bad advice by Sunni and Kurdish leaders, and so from his
perspective, he doesn`t know who to reach out to and who to trust those
factions that he`s supposed to be reaching out to so all of those factors
come together to make it a challenge for him to undo the history.
Both his own personal one and the one as his tenure as prime minister and
create a sense of national consensus. Frankly the fact that there hasn`t
been a real change in tone and approach since this crisis began certainly
portends to someone not committed to national reconciliation the way the
United States and some Iraqis are now asking him to be.
BALL: Certainly. It seems to me like it`s hard to see how to get a
political situation with Prime Minister Al Maliki still there. Patrick, it
seems to me like Iraq is essentially coming apart at the seams, something
that folks have been predicting could happen since we invaded Iraq. Saddam
Hussein was able to sort of keep it together through brutally repressive
We were able to keep it together through tens of thousands of our men and
women sort of keeping the peace. And folks have been saying from the
beginning that maybe what has to happen is for Iraq to divide. Joe Biden
back in 2007 was much mocked for saying maybe what we need to do is to
partition Iraq. Let`s take a listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The only way there`s any
possibility of dealing with sectarian violence is you`ve got to separate
the parties, give them some breathing room, and give them local control.
If you don`t do that, Tim, you think we`re going to get there in any way
with this present government? Can anybody envision a central government
made up of Sunni, Shia and Kurds that`s going to gain the trust and respect
of 27 million Iraqis? It`s not going to happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALL: He was mocked at the time. You were there. You saw these people
and the conflicts firsthand. Is there anyone who can actually bring
together Sunnis, Shias, Kurds, in a democratic system?
FMR. REP. PATRICK MURPHY, IRAQ WAR VETERAN: First off, there`s three
candidates right now and they`re all Shia. Does Shia have the majority of
population in Iraq and within the government so it has to be a Shia leader
so it has to be someone that`s moderate.
I will say quickly, though, Paul Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld said there`s going
to be no sectarian violence. Most folks said there would be some except
those folks. Let`s make sure history is accurate. It`s going to have to
be a Shia leader, but a Shia leader that`s moderate and will reach out.
And that`s the disappointing thing, Krystal, I mean, for someone like me
who lost 19 men in my unit in Iraq and I was there and got back ten years
ago, to see all the blood that we invested in that country and we gave it
to them and they did have a central government, but Maliki is part of the
He`s not part of the solution and he has to go. I understand a big
announcement this week of 300 troops going in there, but we have to
precondition that military support, because it`s not a military solution,
it`s a political one. We have to get there by getting rid of Maliki. And
it`s not we, it`s the Iraqi people and the Iraqi government that has to get
him to go.
BALL: What I`m so excited about is having both of you here because both of
you were there, so you have firsthand knowledge of what it`s like on the
ground. It`s not an obstruction for you. Mikey, what do you say to that?
Is there anyone who can bring these groups together in a democratic
government or is some sort of divided Iraq inevitable?
MICHAEL KAY, FORMER BRITISH SENIOR OFFICER: I was there in 2003 across the
border with the U.S. Marines and the Brits coming in from the south from
Q8. The important thing about Iraq in terms of the way we`ve taken
conflict into the future is it capitalized what was called the
comprehensive approach. And what that means is synergizing what the State
Department wanted to achieve from a political side.
What the military wanted to achieve from a security side and what USAID
wanted to achieve from the economic side and so the military would never
take an action unless it was for a desired effect that the State Department
wanted to achieve or USAID wanted to achieve.
There were no undesired consequences. We`re still trying to work that out.
I agree with Patrick actually in terms of the reconciliation piece. People
are talking about Maliki and reconciliation with the Kurds and the Sunnis.
I think we`re beyond that now. I think we need someone else, as Patrick
was saying, to actually rebirth if you like that good will and that glue.
But look, the important thing I think here is we`re talking about this
locally. We`re talking about this within the constraints of Iraq. What I
think is really important is let`s look at what`s going on with Syria. If
you want to strike at the heartbeat of ISIS, you have to go to Aleppo.
The leader of al Qaeda in Iraq has moved to Syria because it is a
governless state and that`s how they exploited. Now the paradox of this,
Krystal, and we were talking about this earlier, is that we`ve got
political gridlock. It is a political solution, but we`ve got political
gridlock in Syria at the United Nations Security Council and we got that
because of the undesired consequences and the mistakes that we`ve made in
So we`re actually bearing the brunt of our own consequences. What we need
to do is focus on Iraq. Like Afghanistan, you won`t solve Afghanistan
unless you solve Pakistan and the Taliban on both sides of the border.
BALL: We can`t look at these as discrete problems. There is a lot more to
discuss here. We`ll be right back.
BALL: We are back with more on the path forward in Iraq, and there is a
quote in "The New Yorker" that really grabbed me that I thought was -- kind
of summed up where we are. They said what the Americans left behind was an
Iraqi state that was not able to stand on its own. What we built is now
coming apart. This is the real legacy of America`s war in Iraq.
And, Nancy, one of the bizarre absurdities of the situation we find
ourselves in now is that we are essentially on the same side as Iran here
in this conflict, given that they are also Shia dominated, they have a lot
of power with Prime Minister Al Maliki, they also obviously have an
interest in regional stability and not having terrorists next door.
Is this an opportunity in a way to potentially build a little bit more
trust with Iran? They do have a new president who we`ve had some hopes
will be more moderate that Ahmadinejad.
YOUSSEF: Well, that`s one of the debates happening here in Washington
about what kind of relationship can be formed with Iran in light of this.
Because of the fact that like the United States they would like stability
in Iraq and a Shia-led Iraq, which is a shared interest. The conflict
becomes what is Iran`s interest vis-a-vis the Arab world.
Are they a force that`s causing stability or instability in the broader
Arab world? There`s an argument to be made that they are contributing to
the broader instability in the Arab world that led to the birth of groups
And so the question becomes how do you build a relationship with Iran vis-
a-vis Iraq without at the same time encouraging a group that has led to
greater instability in the region? The other thing to remember is that
there`s a lot of very high anti-American sentiment in Iran, and so the idea
of building a relationship with them would be in that context. How you do
that arguably is one of the biggest challenges.
BALL: Mikey, we`ve been talking a lot about the 300 Special Forces folks
who will be going there. They have been called military advisers, I think,
for a lot of civilians that`s sort of an abstract term. What will they
actually be doing on the ground?
KAY: Well, from a Special Forces perspective, the nature of Special
Forces, it`s covert as it is. So if they were going in, we`re probably not
going to know about it. But if they`re there, they`re going to be
conducting what`s called S and R and S and I, which is surveillance and
reconnaissance and support and influence.
So it`s a kind of non-kinetic role. They`re not going to be in and kick
down doors and do sort of pseudo Osama Bin Laden missions, they`ll be there
to suck up the intelligence and understanding what ISIS are all about.
I went back to Baghdad in 2006 and 2008 to conduct two operational tours
and we were hunting al Qaeda and high value assets across the city. We
were operating off intelligence and networks that took years to compile,
really understand who are the key value people that we need to target here,
and that`s going to take time to build up with ISIS --
BALL: So that`s not going to happen overnight.
KAY: No. We try to get an understanding of who this organization is and
as I said earlier, what the connections are, what the flows are, what the
logistics flows are between there and back into Syria. I think that`s what
they`ll be building is this intelligence picture.
BALL: Patrick, is there a neat dividing line between combat troops, the
president saying we`re not sending any more combat forces back in, these
are just advisers. Is there a real neat line there?
MURPHY: Michael is right in his comment that they`re there to support and
gather intelligence against ISIS. But they`re going to be at operating
bases, supplementing brigade headquarters so about 3,000 Iraqi soldiers.
We have our SEALs, our Rangers on the ground there.
The problem is that ISIS and other insurgents will know that they`re there.
Every night they`ll be getting mortared. They`re going to be getting
mortared from the middle of towns in a civilian area. They`re going to pop
off a couple rockets and then they`re going to move because they know how
American forces work.
We don`t want to see civilian casualties. We`re going to be there with the
Iraqis. We don`t want to be held responsible for civilian casualties, even
though they`re going to be getting attacked. That`s the problem here.
You`re sending 300 American forces in to bolster up the Iraqi army and in
reality, if Maliki is still in charge, it`s not going to be part of the
As Ayman said in the beginning of your segment of the show, maybe it buys
us time to get Maliki out of there. But we need to get him out of there in
days, not weeks or months. The biggest news this week was the vote of no
confidence. He is the number one Shia cleric. People listen to him in the
Shia community so hopefully that will put enough pressure --
BALL: Hopefully that will start to move things. What I so appreciate
about both of your take is you say, it`s just 300 people. No, those are
300 American lives that we are now putting on the line in Iraq again.
Nancy, I want to give the last word to you. Let`s say that a political
solution doesn`t work out. Let`s say that we do end up with a divided
Iraq, with ISIS in control of some region in Iraq and in Syria. What does
that look like? What are the consequences for the U.S.?
YOUSSEF: Well, in the short term it`s a quasi-state with its own military,
a successful military campaign, its own flag, its own Sharia law. They
would have to govern that state, which is a challenge they haven`t been
presented in the past. If they are successful in that, then presumably
they`re not going to use that power just within their own states, but
actually seek to destabilize and expand these to U.S. allies in Jordan and
possibly expand that threat to the western world itself.
And so we talk about separating Iraq as a solution, but arguably it creates
new kinds of problems because it becomes a very dangerous, very brutal
Sunni dominated state that will have aspirations that extend beyond its
BALL: No easy answers for sure. My thanks so much to Nancy Youssef from
McClatchy Newspapers and Michael Kay, reporter and former officer from the
Up next, some good news for the Obama administration on the foreign policy
front. That`s next.
BALL: The tragic attack that killed four Americans at the U.S. Consulate
compound in Libya has been the focus of no fewer than three different
committee investigations in the house. Critics of the Obama administration
have questioned why it was taking so long to catch the lead suspect, Ahmed
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said on September 12th, make no mistake we`ll bring
to justice the killers who attacked our people. Eleven months later, where
are they, sir?
OBAMA: Well, I also said that we`d get Bin Laden and I didn`t get him in
11 months. So we have informed, I think, the public that there`s a sealed
indictment. It`s sealed for a reason. But we are intent on capturing
those who carried out this attack, and we`re going to stay on it until we
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALL: That was the backdrop for the breaking news on Tuesday that U.S.
Special Forces had in fact captured Abu Khattala.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I said at the time that my absolute commitment was to make sure
that we brought to justice those who had been responsible. When Americans
are attacked, no matter how long it takes, we will find those responsible
and we will bring them to justice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALL: Abu Khattala has given several media interviews in the year and a
half since the attack, including one with "The New York Times" on a hotel
patio not long after Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others were killed.
So catching Abu Khattala has not stopped charges that the Obama
administration has mishandled the attack and its aftermath, it`s only
raised new ones.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you`ve known where this guy was and Bowe Bergdahl
was, why is it being used to change the narrative of certain stories?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have the former secretary of state who`s in the
middle of really high profile book tour and I think this is convenient for
her to shift the talking points.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The timing sure is interesting, isn`t it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let`s wait and capture him when it`s -- when the going
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What a great thing to announce on an interview tonight
on Fox News, that the perpetrators have been brought to justice. It`s all
too neat and it`s too cute.
BALL: Too cute. White House officials say they were waiting on a
combination of factors that could minimize the chances of casualties before
going after Abu Khattala, and in fact no lives were lost in Tuesday`s
capture. Now that the U.S. has the lead suspect in the Benghazi attack in
custody, where are they going to put him?
Republican senators including John McCain and Marco Rubio have urged the
administration to send Abu Khattala to Guantanamo. There`s also the
question of how they plan to prosecute him. The Obama administration says
Abu Khattala will be tried in civilian court. On Tuesday, Senator Minority
Leader Mitch McConnell urged the administration to take a hard line when it
comes to getting information from Abu Khattala.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: There has been a tendency in
this administration, as you know, to treat this like a law enforcement
matter. Read them their rights and get them a lawyer. I hope they`re not
doing that. The most valuable thing we can get from this terrorist is
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALL: So what happens next with Abu Khattala and have the politics of
Benghazi changed at all? Here to help answer those questions are MSNBC
contributor, Patrick Murphy. He`s back with us, along with Emily Sussman,
campaign director at the Center for American Progress, and MSNBC political
analyst, David Corn, Washington Bureau Chief from "Mother Jones" magazine.
Thank you all for helping us understand the situation.
Patrick, address this first talking point from the right. Was it
legitimate for it to have taken so much time to eventually get Abu
Khattala? Were there real reasons why it took so long?
MURPHY: Of course there was reasons. You don`t just say, we`re going to
handcuff you. You have to have a team and our boots on the ground did a
phenomenal job doing that, our special forces. It just drives me crazy as
an American, it took us two years to get him. It took Barack Obama two
years to get him. It took two and a half years for him to get Bin Laden.
Of course, they want to forget the fact that George Bush for seven and a
half years didn`t get Bin Laden. They just want to forget about that. But
it sends a message, whether it takes two years or ten years, you do harm to
an American, we`re coming after you and we`re going to get you and now
we`re going to try you.
DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: And in October, we got a guy who was
involved in the embassy bombings 15 years after the fact. I mean,
underlying this argument that they`re making, the political argument the
Republicans are making is the assumption it`s really crass and foul
assumption that the president doesn`t care. That he really doesn`t want to
protect America. He really doesn`t want to get these guys. If you put the
whole fox thing into a neat its box, it`s he only did this as part of a
conspiracy to help protect Hillary Clinton, and they did it so they could -
BALL: Which is insane.
CORN: It is completely nuts and the fact that it --
MURPHY: It`s un-American.
CORN: It`s like why do they hate America so much, but it really goes back
to the bottom line effort to de-legitimatize Barack Obama and to make him
seem like the other not really American and they do it again and again and
again. You asked earlier will this change the politics in Benghazi, no.
Because the politics is part of this larger process, which they can`t let
BALL: Emily, it is very strange because the folks who have been talking a
lot about Benghazi and who are concerned about Benghazi and have been
talking a lot about Abu Khattala and when are they going to get him, they
don`t seem that happy now that we have him. And there`s another fly in the
statement here. Abu Khattala said that the attack was in retaliation, "The
New York Times" reported this, on the day of the attack Islamists in Cairo
had staged a demonstration to protest an American made online video mocking
Mr. Khattala himself said that the assault was retaliation for the same
insulting video, according to people who heard him. So another sort of
Republican talking point about how absurd it was to think that this was
about a video is kind of being undermined here as well.
EMILY TISCH SUSSMAN, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Absolutely. Look,
there`s a couple of things going on here. All throughout President Obama`s
presidency, there`s been this incredible discomfort from the right in the
fact that he has actually led intelligence forces, led military forces in a
stronger way even than a lot of Democrats would be comfortable with.
And it`s really put the Republicans in a position where national security
is something they own. This is something they have. So I love the fact
that even when this is done in a -- when the capture is done in a smart
way, a way that is according to the law, a way that we can actually try
him, that we didn`t lose any forces, it can`t be something we can celebrate
as Americans, there must be something wrong with it.
There must be a scandal around it. It must be trying to protect Secretary
Clinton that must be it. If it`s something good it must be a conspiracy
theory, it`s all political.
SUSSMAN: And for me it`s a flashback to the questions about Guantanamo and
how we should try terrorists. Just to put the fact out there, we have an
87 percent conviction rate of terrorists tried in civilian court. You`re a
jag officer, Patrick, a lawyer. We should be trying these folks in
civilian court. Our system is up to the task.
MURPHY: Absolutely. We`ll put them in jail for a very long time, probably
the rest of their lives, especially this knucklehead who was the mastermind
of four Americans being killed in Benghazi. We have tried over 500
terrorists in federal court and put them away in jail. Guantanamo, we have
released over 500 in George Bush`s regime.
We had detainees and let them go. All I would say is that criminal court
is no joke, federal criminal court. You go to a federal penitentiary and
you are brought to justice. I will say they make it sound like we`re
prosecuting them under this crimes code like it`s a civilian private court.
It`s not. It`s legit.
This is -- these are courts that, by the way, are very effective.
Guantanamo bay, it`s $1 million per detainee to hold them. It`s about
$32,000 a year to keep them in federal court so I know all these fiscal
conservatives in the Republican Party --
CORN: There`s another side of this too. You played the clip of Mitch
McConnell saying I want to make sure they get all the intelligence as if
they`re not doing that. I mean, they put these guys on ships. They keep
the prosecutors away from them. Barack Obama has demonstrated, if not he,
the whole administration that they really want to go after these people.
They want to stop terrorists.
BALL: Absolutely, of course, they do.
CORN: When they have someone in their custody, they`re going to exploit
them as much as they can and get that information. So it`s really like
Mitch McConnell coming out and saying, boy, I hope that Barack Obama does
something good for his kids. I hope he loves his family. Who knows if he
does or he doesn`t, but I have questions about it.
MURPHY: You`ve got a dog to kick.
BALL: I`m so glad you brought that up because that`s something I`ve been
thinking about as well and we`ll pick up on that point right after this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCONNELL: There has been a tendency in this administration, as you know,
to treat this as a law enforcement matter. Read them their rights and get
them a lawyer. I hope they`re not doing that. The most valuable thing we
can get from this terrorist is information.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALL: That was Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday talking
there about the capture of Abu Khattala and how the administration is going
to deal with him. What is he implying there about I hope that we get all
the intelligence out of him that we need?
SUSSMAN: I mean, it`s basically sort of a shocking statement. The fact
that the minority leader of the Senate is going out there and saying that
it is un-American to be giving him his rights. The fact that we don`t
trust the courts. Like is that now partisan? Is it now up to Democrats,
the president, Department of Justice to be defending trust in the courts?
Like there`s a reason that we have these protection, and we believe that --
and they do actually work. Like we try terrorists through the courts.
This is something that we do. But to make it partisan, to not trust the
courts to be able to handle this, it really gets to that like the general
cutting down and degradation of American --
BALL: Of all of our institutions.
SUSSMAN: Of all of the institutions, of everything that we have.
CORN: There`s something else at play here that we`ve seen from Dick Cheney
and others which is the theme that the president doesn`t care about these
people as terrorists, that, you know, he`d rather read them their rights
and deal with terrorism.
BALL: Or he wants to have a chat with them.
CORN: We`ve heard Cheney say this quite explicitly whenever he rises up
from his undisclosed locations and says this president cares more about
reading them their rights than stopping them. That`s almost a direct
BALL: Or even worse, that he sympathizes with them.
CORN: They say this over and over again, as if the president doesn`t
really care and people like McCain who says we should send them to
Guantanamo, as if that`s sort of a magic place for terrorists. The
Guantanamo system, as you`ve noted, doesn`t really work. We`ve released
them, we haven`t tried them.
McCain wants to send them to Guantanamo but he doesn`t want to water board
them because he`s against torture, so he won`t do the full Cheney. There`s
these people who use that as a battering ram against the president and from
a policy perspective, it does not make sense.
BALL: Guantanamo has not kept us safer. In fact it`s used as a recruiting
tool for jihadists.
MURPHY: It`s not like he`s on that ship with defense counsel.
BALL: We`re not talking about club med there or even club fed.
MURPHY: I will say if we just take a step back, they want to make such a
hard time -- they have three committee hearings talking about the talking
points from one Sunday show. There has been a stark contrast between how
we dealt with the 9/11 terrorist attack and Benghazi terrorist attack.
So three congressional committees and obviously Susan Rice`s comments have
been dissected, et cetera. How about the two years of Sunday talking --
the talking points on Sunday shows from Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Paul
Wolfowitz, to bring us to the war in Iraq. There`s a connection to 9/11
There`s weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, none of which were true. The
stark contrast on how we dealt between these two terrorist attacks is
striking and appalling, because face it, you know, what they all said after
9/11, let`s not point fingers, let`s not dissect the fact that president
bush in August in 2001 --
CORN: The post-information of the 9/11 committee for two years.
BALL: I`m so glad you brought that up because we hear all the time it`s
not just Republicans who are partisan, Democrats attacked president bush.
But actually in the run-up to the Iraq war a lot of Democrats backed
president bush in the 9/11 commission. There was a very genuine attempt to
get at the truth of what happened, which is something that is utterly
lacking in all of these various Benghazi committee investigations, and
that`s not to say that we don`t want to learn the lesson that say we need
to learn from that attack. But there is no -- no legitimate attempt to get
to the truth.
CORN: Foreign policy and national security has often been a partisan issue
that people fight about, often for good reasons, for the policy reasons,
but I think there has been a change in the last few years when it`s just
purely partisan and when you look at what`s going on with Iraq and the
president`s attack, he gets attacked from Republicans for what he does and
what he doesn`t do.
They attack him without any cause for giving a suggestion of what else to
do. Dick Cheney`s op-ed this week in "The Wall Street Journal" was nothing
attack, attack, the president is weak. The president is reckless. It
didn`t contain one suggestion on what to do. Henry Kissinger would say
this is what I think we should be doing. Cheney doesn`t do that anymore,
it`s just attack.
MURPHY: And when we had the 9/11 commission, the Congress implemented the
9/11 commission recommendations. Here we have recommendations from what
happened in Benghazi, from Admiral Mullen and others, that have not been
implemented into law because they want to play politics. There`s not even
BALL: Good news, bad news, it doesn`t matter, it`s all a chance to attack
the president. I want to thank MSNBC`s Patrick Murphy whose show airs
Sunday at 1:00 p.m. Eastern. Patrick talks to actor and activist Martin
Sheen about his work in trying to help heal returning vets. Thank you also
to Emily Sussman from the Center of American Progress. We`ll see you both
a bit later on in the show.
Up next, why black southern Democrats may be the most important voters to
the Republican Party establishment right now. We will explain, next.
BALL: It is a common story about elections, get out the vote campaigns,
vans that shuttle senior citizens. But the details of the get out the vote
campaign now taking place in Mississippi ahead of Tuesday`s runoff in the
Republican senate primary is so unusual it is actually drawing national
attention, as we`ve mentioned on the show before.
Senator Thad Cochran, a six-term incumbent, is in the fight of his career
against a Tea Party challenger, Chris McDaniel. The Mississippi state
senator finished ahead in the primary, but only by half a pointing and
under the 50 percent threshold that would have made this Tuesday`s runoff
All this despite the scandal of those pictures taken of Senator Cochran`s
wife from her nursing home bed. So clearly every vote counts in this race.
The stakes on Tuesday are really high, and that is the backdrop for new
reports this week, which say Senator Cochran`s turnout operation is looking
to African-American Democrats to swing the vote in his favor in Tuesday`s
Three weeks ago this ad showed up in a local Jackson newspaper with the
predominantly African-American readership and it encourages readers to get
out and vote from Cochran. The senator gets praise from Democrats for
supporting all kinds of initiatives that Republicans typically don`t want
to highlight. But Mississippi is over 37 percent black and that`s the most
of any state in the nation.
The ad was paid for by a PAC called All Citizens for Mississippi and nobody
knew anything about this new group until this week when it was reported in
"The New York Times" that it shares the same address as an African-American
mega church. This is not how PACS normally operate.
In the wake of the reports, the chair of the Mississippi Democratic party
sent a message on Facebook to a reporter alleging that Senator Cochran`s
allies were funnelling thousands of dollars to black preachers to provide,
quote, "walking around money" to get African-American Democrats to the
polls in the Republican runoff to maybe tip the balance in Senator
Cochran`s favor in a Republican primary.
The Cochran campaign has said it is embracing support from any place they
can get it. The senator`s words became the headline in the clarion ledger
Thursday. The more the merrier. So there`s a lot to discuss. With fewer
than 72 hours to go before polls open in Mississippi on Tuesday.
We have Alexander Burns, senior political reporter for "Politico." He`s
just back from a trip to Mississippi. Alex, our producers did reach out to
the church where that PAC is incorporated and to the Democratic operative
that`s coordinating Senator Cochran`s efforts there and they did not reply
to our invitations to come on the show.
So let me ask you, what have you heard there on the ground there in
Mississippi about Cochran`s efforts to bring African-American voters into
ALEXANDER BURNS, "POLITICO": I`m not surprised they were not responsive to
come to the show because there`s a lot of that going around in this
Mississippi runoff. There is this sort of strenuous effort on the part of
Thad Cochran`s campaign and the super PAC supporting him to reach out to
black Democrats, particularly black mayors and black pastors.
People with close relationships with specific communities to bring them out
to the polls. Of course really nobody wants to come out and talk about
that openly, because it could have unintended consequences, bringing out
the other side just as aggressively as it brings out --
BALL: There could be a backlash here. I mean it doesn`t seem like it`s
working because it`s a pretty novel approach. Normally when we see
Republicans challenged to the right they run to the right as fast and far
as they can. In this case Cochran is going to the center to try to pick up
BURNS: That`s right. His strategy is to both bring in those Democrats and
independents and also to wake up some of those sort of mainstream,
casually engaged Republican -- registered Republicans who may not have
cared enough about this race to vote in the first round but who might be
more natural Cochran voters than McDaniel voters.
I was at a McDaniel event with Rick Santorum. Both the Senate candidate
and the former presidential candidate saying the other side is trying to
bring out Democrats. Michael Bloomberg is trying to buy this election
because he did cut a quarter million dollar check to that Cochran super
BALL: You have been reporting on Rick Santorum and other National Tea
Partyish figures coming down to Mississippi. How important has this race
become to the tea party and the momentum of the Tea Party?
BURNS: I think this is arguably the most important race of the year for
them. If not for that Eric Cantor primary, which nobody saw coming and
these national groups were not involved in, Mississippi would be the only
place on the map where you had a really significant chance of booting out a
So for the whole sort of national road show of conservative groups that
have been involved in all these primaries, going back to 2010, now folks
like Rick Santorum and Sarah Palin, this is the whole ball game for them.
So Tuesday is incredibly important not just for Mississippi but for the
national conservative movement.
BALL: Yes, it`s a fascinating story, it`s a fascinating race. I`m really
interested to see what happens on Tuesday night. Thank you so much to
Alexander Burns of "Politico."
BURNS: Thank you.
BALL: Still ahead, are indictments imminent in the bridgegate scandal as a
new report says?
BALL: Another very important story we want to bring to you this morning,
Homeland Security officials now say that 52,000 children have arrived at
the U.S. border since October. 52,000 and counting, and these are just
some of the new pictures this week of the holding cells where minors are
being kept as they wait to be processed.
Vice President Joe Biden is in Guatemala to address this crisis, while the
first lady of Honduras is traveling to the U.S. this weekend to track down
and return Honduran children whose families felt the desperate need to send
their kids away from the country with the highest homicide rate in the
world. We`ll be right back.
BALL: It is no secret that Scott Walker is a divisive figure. Since
taking office in 2011, he`s faced huge protests over his efforts to
eliminate bargaining rights for most public employees, all of them really
except for the firefighters who supported his campaign. But when he faced
a recall election in the wake of that dispute, he won. So, that`s just
some of what happened in Wisconsin since Scott Walker became governor.
There`s also the question of what happened before he went to the capital.
For his entire governorship, Scott Walker has lived under the cloud of
investigation. Two investigations to be exact, looking into what Scott
Walker does when he runs for office.
The first investigation was into illegal activity in his 2010 campaign
while he was still Milwaukee County executive and it resulted in guilty
pleas from six of his former aides and allies.
The second investigation comes out of his recall fight and it concerns
alleged coordination between Walker`s campaign and outside spending
committees. Over two dozen of them, including some that take in that
limitless, anonymous cash.
Since that money is not subject to Wisconsin`s campaign finance laws,
Walker`s campaign could not touch it or have any influence over it.
Coordination is a no-no. Except on Thursday, a federal judge unsealed
documents that revealed prosecutors believe Walker was part of a, quote,
"criminal scheme to coordinate fund-raising with outside groups," a link
that could mean big trouble down the road for the potential 2016 Republican
The prosecutors refer to an e-mail that Walker allegedly wrote on May 4th,
2011, during that recall fight to Republican strategist Karl Rove -- you
remember him -- who was running the super PAC American Crossroads. It was
about a consultant named R.J. Johnson who was simultaneously working for
the Walker campaign as well as for the Wisconsin PAC Club for Growth.
According to the document, Walker wrote bottom line, "R.J. helps keep in
place a team that is wildly successful in Wisconsin. We are running nine
recall elections and it will be like running nine congressional markets in
every market in the state." The e-mail allegedly written by a sitting
governor seems to suggest coordination with outside groups.
We invited Governor Walker on the show and called and e-mailed his campaign
for comment. They did not respond. Walker did take questions briefly at
the state capitol on Thursday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: People can say or do whatever they want.
I think to me an objective, third party of the judiciary at both the state
and federal level made it clear they felt there wasn`t a case.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALL: Joining us now from Madison is Scott Bauer. He covers Wisconsin
politics for "The Associated Press".
Scott, thank you so much for joining us. I want to start with that e-mail
that`s gotten a lot of attention, allegedly between Scott Walker and Karl
Rove. It seems to indicate that there may have been some coordination with
outside groups. Some folks would say, though, hey, I`ve had a lot of
political campaigns engage in this sort of thing.
Does this seem substantively different, problematically different?
SCOTT BAUER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Well, the prosecutors are saying that the
governor`s -- one of the governor`s key strategists, R.J. Johnson, was
working both for walker`s campaign and running Wisconsin Club for Growth,
and in that role he and others were essentially running a hub where they
would take money in from all these different groups and then ferret it out
into other organizations that would then run advertising favorable to the
governor and to other candidates for office.
And the prosecutor`s argument is, is that that amounted to illegal
coordination, illegal campaign fund-raising. And the position of Wisconsin
Club for Growth and others is that what they were doing is not barred under
the law and, in fact, they feel like it`s their First Amendment right. And
that is what a federal judge in May agreed with them on and issued a ruling
that has halted the investigation for now.
And so, that decision is under appeal to the seventh circuit court of
appeals right now, but as we stand today, the investigation is on hold.
BALL: Yes, the legal circumstances are a bit confusing here, but basically
the question is, it`s pretty clear there was some coordination. The
question is whether or not that coordination was illegal, because the
groups in question did not specifically say, vote for Scott Walker, so that
is somewhat of the legal issue at play here. What Walker says is, and
these are not exactly his words but this is like a partisan witch hunt that
prosecutors are just trying to go after him and that it`s baseless.
Tell us about these prosecutors. Are they partisan folks?
BAUER: The special prosecutor who was hired to lead this investigation,
it`s important to remember there were five county D.A.s who agreed this
ought to be investigated. Wisconsin has a law referred to as a John Doe
Law that acts much like a federal grand jury. These investigations happen
in secret. Prosecutors can compel testimony. They can issue subpoenas.
For the better part of a year, this was ongoing in secret and no one knew
about it. The special prosecutor who was hired to lead the investigation
is actually someone who has said he`s a Republican. He said he voted for
But the county attorney -- or the county D.A. in Milwaukee is a Democrat
and so the governor is, you know, focusing on the Democrats who were
involved in this investigation while other folks who were -- are involved
are actually Republicans.
BALL: So, in fact, there are both sides of the aisle participating in this
investigation, which actually at this point we should be clear has been
Scott Bauer from "The Associated Press", thank you so much for helping us
with the details of this story.
And that is how the story is playing out in Wisconsin. Here to bring some
national context to this, we have Ken Vogel. He`s a reporter at
"Politico". He`s written a great new book about big money, that is in fact
what it is called, about how politics and cash intersect.
And MSNBC political analyst David Corn is back with us, Washington bureau
chief at "Mother Jones".
David, let me start with you on this question of how this will impact Scott
Walker. He was talked about as a top tier 2016 presidential contender.
Now, I`m wondering if he`ll be able to get through his 2014 re-election.
The latest poll from Marquette has him tied with Mary Burke, his Democratic
CORN: Well, whether he likes it or not, he has fallen into the same
support group with Chris Christie and Bob McDonnell.
BALL: Right. Not a good -- you don`t want to be in that group.
CORN: Republican governors who once were talked about as possible
presidential contenders. You know, Scott Walker of course has been out
there, much on FOX news, trying to pooh-pooh this investigation. He said
it`s been resolved.
Well, you know, "PolitiFact" said that`s false, as we`ve just explained,
it`s on hold but it could proceed, could not proceed. The problem that he
has, that Chris Christie has, is that with this cloud of scandal hovering
over them, you`d have to be kind of foolish as a Republican donor or even
as a Republican operative, if you`re looking at who to work for to sign up
for any of these guys because rather than wind up in the White House, they
could end up in the slammer.
So this really puts his presidential ambitions on hold while he fights for
his life in a competitive race to retain his governor seat in Wisconsin.
BALL: Ken, David has such a great way of really putting his finger on the
problem there. Obviously, you have been researching, talking to these big
Republican donors. Are they going to be very nervous about getting behind
Scott Walker when this sort of cloud is hanging over him?
KEN VOGEL, POLITICO: Short answer, no, Krystal. Actually I think this
could potentially help him because --
BALL: You what?
VOGEL: -- because, it`s so -- you know, the substance -- it`s both, you
know, rhetorically and optically different than Chris Christie -- the
trouble facing Chris Christie, which is really sort of emanates from what
can be seen and what I think some donors see as sort of a fundamental
personality flaw within Chris Christie.
In this case, you have the folks around Scott Walker who may or may not
have run afoul of a super nuance law that is very rarely enforced at the
BALL: And, Ken, it is a super nuanced law, but when you have prosecutors
saying things like a criminal scheme -- I mean, that seems pretty clear for
voters to understand.
VOGEL: Right. And the interesting thing here, though, is that
conservatives as well as some like libertarians actually disagree with the
law, disagree with campaign finance restrictions more generally, but even
more specifically these coordination prohibitions, and they see them as
unconstitutional infringements upon free speech.
Well, these big donors who are taking advantage of this pose as a big money
sort of Wild West atmosphere, they do in fact see some of the laws the same
way, as unconstitutional infringements upon free speech. In fact the way
some of these documents came to light is Scott Walker`s allies at the
Wisconsin Club for Growth are actually suing to overturn the law saying
that they are being -- their free speech rights are being infringed upon by
these coordination prohibitions.
And so, it`s sort of become in the circles of which I`m talking to some of
these donors, a little bit of cause celebre.
CORN: That`s interesting because then the question becomes, do they want
to support a martyr? You know, usually, donors and others don`t rush to a
martyred cause, even if it`s to their heart because they worry about
electability. Here, they`re such ideologues that they will -- if they
believe Walker is being crucified on the cross of bad campaign finance law,
do you still run to that presidential campaign.
VOGEL: Yes, but I don`t think that he will get crucified. That`s the
distinction, David. Of course, he`s not even charged in this matter. I
think it`s -- you know, the odds suggest that he`s probably going to make
it through this without ever being charged and it is sort of more of a
BALL: But, Ken, let me throw something else at you since you think that
Walker may actually even be helped by this circumstance, which I haven`t
heard anyone else with that take so it`s very interesting.
VOGEL: Helped among big donors.
BALL: Among big donors, OK. So you think he may still be in trouble for
2014? As I just mentioned, the latest poll has him tied with Mary Burke.
She`s run a very careful, I would say, very sort of locking and tackling,
non-divisive kind of a campaign. He also had the very bad news come out
this week that Wisconsin was 37th in job creation.
And, frankly, Walker ran as a reformer, right? So I think this whole
narrative about corruption is very detrimental to who he has framed himself
as, as a politician.
VOGEL: Yes, I think that`s right. I think that in Wisconsin there are a
number of circumstances and this is just one of them. Whether it sort of
plays into them and undercuts really this reputation he`s built for himself
at the state level as a reformer, you know, I think that`s a real
And even were it not for this case, he would still be facing a very
difficult, more difficult than a lot of folks thought and predicted re-
election fight, that more than this case is what potentially undercuts his
prospects as a 2016 presidential candidate. And they`re very different.
But if he loses, the conversation is over.
BALL: Very interesting.
Well, David already put him in the camp with Chris Christie.
And in fact, guess what, we`re going to talk about Chris Christie next,
from one governor to another. Are federal prosecutors closing in on Mr.
Christie? We will look at that with my panel. That`s next.
BALL: From Scott Walker we turn to another potential presidential
contender for 2016. Yesterday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie went to
New Hampshire, the state that holds the very first presidential primary in
the country. He was there to raise cash for the Republican Governors
Association and maybe to raise his own profile at the same time.
He`s on what many are describing as a comeback tour after months of
scandal. He`s trying to burnish his tough image as he did before. The
conservative Faith and Freedom Coalition gathering in Washington just
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: You do not enter a principled
compromise with someone you don`t believe has principles. You don`t
compromise with someone that you don`t fear. Because if you have nothing
to fear, you think you`re going to get exactly what you want.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALL: Christie is talking like the George Washington Bridge scandal is far
in the rear-view mirror, but on Thursday, "Esquire" magazine reported based
on unnamed sources that four members of the Christie administration are
facing near certain indictments for their roles not only in bridgegate but
also for the diversion of Port Authority funds to highway and development
projects in New Jersey.
As for whom might be targeted for indictment, the potential targets include
Christie`s appointees at the Port Authority, that would be David Samson,
Bill Baroni and David Wildstein, and there`s also Christie`s former aides,
Bill Stepien and Bridget Kelly. Kelly, of course, the author of the
infamous e-mail, "time for some traffic problems in Ft. Lee."
"Esquire" speculates that the biggest variable is who might make a deal and
give evidence against the others and maybe even against Chris Christie
"Esquire" sources say that the most direct way to get to Governor Christie
is to turn David Samson. They also say not to underestimate what David
Wildstein has on Governor Christie.
A request for comment from the governor`s office was not returned. There`s
an open invitation for Wildstein and Baroni to appear on the show. And a
spokesman for David Samson emailed, quote, "No comment on this or any other
So Chris Christie can try to dance his trouble as way with Jimmy Fallon and
tell "The Tonight Show" host that he can hypothetically beat Hillary
Clinton. He can also make a trip to the first in the nation primary state.
But will that be enough if the investigation against his administration
unfolds in a way that now looks much more likely?
For a look at what all this means, I am joined by MSNBC contributor, Brian
Murphy, who`s been following this story over the past several months. He`s
also a professor with Baruch College. MSNBC political analyst David Corn
from "Mother Jones" is still with us, as is Ken Vogel of "Politico".
And, Brian, this has been your beat. Does this reporting in "Esquire" seem
credible to you?
BRIAN MURPHY, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: You know, we get nervous about unnamed
sources. I think the two writers have enough writing on this that if
they`re wrong, they know that there`s a consequence to that and they`re
highly motivated to have gotten it right.
The rest of it, I think the idea that they`re going after David Samson is
not surprising at all. The idea that Paul Fishman, the U.S. attorney, is
going to try to use that specifically to go after Christie is what`s news
and what should be alarming to the governor`s office right now.
BALL: Yes. And we`re talking about a few things here, not just the
bridgegate scandal. We`re also talking about shady dealings potentially.
What is it likely or possible, I should say, that Christie may have
actually broken the law on?
MURPHY: The thing that seems -- I mean, right. In a sense bridgegate,
sort of the #bridgegate has been a broader descriptor for what`s really
going on here. It`s never been just about lane closures.
MURPHY: It`s -- one of Steve`s producers described it as the tape on the
door on the parking garage at Watergate. The lane closures is one thing.
What seems more dangerous is stuff like the Hoboken story, which even if
you strip away what the mayor of the city has said, if you look at what
happened there and what the documents showed, David Samson was pivoting off
a Port Authority grant to -- pivoting off public money in a Port Authority
grant in a way that was going to promote a development project that was
going to specifically benefit a client of his law firm, right? That`s
dangerous and that could very well be a violation of a Hobbs Act, which is
section 1951 of the criminal code. And that specifically relates to
participating in a stream of benefits in a way that`s inappropriate and
suggestive of conspiracy.
CORN: I mean, I`ve said it from the beginning, that the lane closures are
not -- they`re not the things that Chris Christie should worry about
ultimately from a legal perspective.
BALL: From a political perspective maybe.
CORN: But even so, I think that would fade if that was all there was here.
But when you start -- you know, authorities, like the Port Authority and
others, the bridge authority, are basically slush piles of money that
aren`t well controlled. There`s little oversight from state legislatures
or even from the governor`s office. And they tend -- you know, governors
tend to put in their best pals, their cronies, and David Samson is
connected to a law firm that does all these development deals that are
associated with what the Port Authority does.
So, I think, you know, almost any time you put a federal prosecutor into
the midst of an authority, there`s a good chance they can find something.
CORN: So, it`s whether you draw that prosecutor in and the use of Sandy
CORN: Trading Port Authority money for development deals, these are the
things that get to be kind of institutional, maybe more so in New Jersey
than other places. But if you start looking at it from a legal
perspective, it can become very problematic very fast.
David Samson is 74 years old, he has Parkinson`s. If he`s on the hook for
anything criminal here --
MURPHY: Not going to die in jail.
CORN: Yes, he doesn`t want to die in jail.
BALL: As I just said, the reporting is there`s a lot of pressure being put
on Samson to flip and give up whatever he potentially has on Christie. I
mean, Ken, David is talking about slush piles of money. That sounds pretty
good. I want to figure out how I can get one of those.
CORN: You`ve got to be careful.
BALL: But, Ken, I was struck watching that clip of Chris Christie at the
faith and freedom coalition, he is a very talented politician. He`s been
counted out before and made comebacks. It`s very unclear what the legal
future is here. Is it at all possible that he survives this story?
VOGEL: You know, I just have a tough time seeing him getting over this and
becoming a viable 2016 presidential candidate, because not only does the
narrative really cut at his main selling point, this idea that he`s a no-
nonsense, take charge, problem solver who doesn`t play politics, but it
undercuts that with the audience that he most needs, which are these big
donors who were, if you remember, trying to coax him into the race back in
2012 and who are seen as a major strength of his heading into 2016.
So many of them are sort of sitting back and evaluating the field in a way
that makes it challenging for him to argue and his supporters to argue that
he`s coalesced this potential strength, what was once seen as a strength of
his, a big donor base around his candidacy. I mean, he was out in Park
City, Utah, for the Mitt Romney seminar and he told these donors, these
donors are worried.
The first question that he got according to my sources was about bridgegate
and whether it`s over and he said, I don`t decide that, but you need to
stop worrying -- suggesting to them that it was over, there was nothing
more to come.
But it seems to me he can`t have it both ways. His main defense in all of
this is he didn`t know his staff was doing this and now he`s telling his
donors or potential donors, wannabe donors that it`s over? No. You either
have to say, I`m aware of everything and, therefore, was aware of what the
staff did and know that there`s no more coming, or you can say that I know
nothing about this and don`t know what`s coming. That`s what the donors
are worried about, that more is coming.
This "Esquire" report certainly suggests there is more coming, this is not
over for him.
CORN: The interesting thing, though, is while he`s having trouble with the
big donors who saw him as the answer to their Tea Party woes, he`s now
becoming more popular with the Tea Party, with the Faith and Freedom
BALL: Because this is all a media liberal attack, right?
CORN: Yes, because he`s now become a martyr. He`s being attacked by the
liberal media. That`s all this is, are Democratic prosecutors. So, he has
gotten more street cred with the crowd that he was supposed to be the
VOGEL: We`re looking at 2014 now and these midterms playing out and that
crowd doesn`t have as much power as they had in 2010 and I kind of doubt --
I think they`ll have even less power over the 2016 nominating process. And
the donors are going to be really making an effort to take back the party.
They don`t like Chris Christie, that`s a big problem for them.
BALL: Brian, last word for you on this.
MURPHY: The danger -- I would just reiterate that the danger is that our
understanding is that Samson, Baroni and Wildstein used to meet for hours
every week or every other week in the board room at the Port Authority --
BALL: We know that.
MURPHY: -- and they were a pipeline into the governor`s office. So if
there`s anybody who was positioned --
CORN: If these guys get indicted, and we`ve got to say if, but if that
happens, I think Christie can`t absolve himself. These are his buddies.
You know, he can`t say I didn`t know at that point.
BALL: And I think politically enough damage has already been done here.
All right. My thanks to Ken Vogel of "Politico", David Corn from "Mother
Jones" and Brian Murphy, a professor with Baruch College.
Are the most important lessons of the World Cup in Brazil actually
happening away from the soccer field? Stay tuned for that, next.
BALL: We want to show you what it looked like in Rio just yesterday --
protesters who were demonstrating against the world cup and for improved
health and education services. An even bigger protest filling the streets
of Sao Paulo the day before, marking the first anniversary of massive
demonstrations across Brazil one year ago. The powerful reminder that not
everyone in Brazil has World Cup fever.
We`ll have more on what that might mean for growing inequality here in the
U.S. That`s next.
BALL: Well, sports fans around the world are enjoying the second week of
the World Cup. Not everyone is sharing in the excitement. On Sunday, "The
Associated Press" captured video of a police officer firing what appears to
be a live bullet at protesters near Rio de Janeiro`s Maracana Stadium.
Anger is brewing after the government spent an estimated $11 billion to
host the tournament. There were massive protests last year over plans to
raise transit fares in order to help pay for that cost. Entire communities
were destroyed when thousands of residents in the slums were pushed out of
their homes to make way for the cup.
Brazil is one of the most unequal countries in the entire world. The top
10 percent of the population earn half of the nation`s income. But at the
same time millions of Brazilians are joining the ranks of the middle class.
The center for Brazil`s war on poverty is a cash giveaway. The Brazilian
government hands out money to mothers living in poverty as long as they
send their children to school and use health care services.
According to a recent study by the Brazilian Research Institute for applied
economics, the program is responsible for more than a quarter of Brazil`s
reduction in poverty over the past decade.
But while Brazil has taken steps to reduce inequality, the U.S. has been
moving in a different direction. This chart from economy Thomas Piketty`s
new book "Capital in the 21st Century" shows income inequality in the U.S.
spiking to levels not seen since the Great Depression. American CEOs are
now paid 257 times the salary of an average worker in the U.S. Fast food
workers and other low wage workers have launched protests for better pay
and working conditions.
But it`s not just low income individuals who are saying that the hollowing
out of the middle class is a real problem.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LLOYD BLANKFEIN, GOLDMAN SACHS CEO: Income inequality is a very
destabilizing thing in the country. Too much of the GDP has gone to too
few of the people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALL: When even Lloyd Blankfein is worried about inequality, you know
you`ve got a problem. So, how can we reverse this trend that threatens the
middle class? Are there lessons we can learn from other countries like
Brazil to help close the inequality gap?
Joining me to answer all of this, I hope, are Heather McGhee, MSNBC
contributor and president of the think tank Demos, and Jared Bernstein,
also an MSNBC contributor, and former economic adviser to Vice President
Joe Biden. He`s now a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy
Jared, I want to start with you. We talk about the potential negative
consequences of inequality in the U.S., some of which I think are already
manifested. In Brazil it`s much clearer, though. How has really dramatic
inequality in Brazil undermined their social fabric and their political
JARED BERNSTEIN, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Well, the first word that comes to
mind is social and economic mobility. One of the problems we have when
we`re talking about inequality, I`ve been dealing with this issue for
decades. And what I used to do is put up a slide and say, look, there`s a
lot of inequality and people might say, oh, that`s discomforting.
What we`re trying to do now, what research is moving towards, Tom Piketty
helping in that regard, is trying to look at precisely what your question
is getting at. What are some of the implications? What are some of the
And one of the most important is that when levels of inequality become too
high, become so excessive, and Brazil is an excellent example, the ability
of people to move out of the bottom and into the middle is severely
compromised, education a clear path out of poverty. For example, those
barriers become much higher in the context of inequality levels like we`ve
seen in emerging economies like Brazil.
Now, I will say to their credit, as you have mentioned, that they have been
taking steps to try to lower those barriers, whereas in this country, I`m
afraid those barriers are getting higher.
BALL: Yes, I mean, Heather, that`s one of the things that intrigued me so
much about Brazil, is on the one hand inequality, some of the worst in the
world. And yet they`re doing things about it and inequality is actually on
the decline. Extreme poverty down 89 percent. We`ve been told by some
that inequality is inevitable and there`s nothing we can do about it.
I think Brazil blows up that myth in a way.
HEATHER MCGHEE, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Absolutely, Krystal. I think that`s so
important. We have been doing a whole body of research on this, all to
drive home a similar pointing, which is that the economy is not the
weather. And in fact we can do a lot to reduce inequality, you know?
Shareholders can vote against excessive CEO pay like they did at Chipotle.
We did a report on fast food showing it`s over 1,000 times to 1, the CEO to
average worker pay gap, right?
Employers can actually afford to pay more. So many of these low wage
employers like Wal-Mart spend more money using just surplus cash to buy
back their own stock in the stock market and that could actually give their
lowest paid employees really middle class jobs.
And, of course, what the president can do. The president can still with
executive orders, the way that he did with the executive order in the State
of the Union raise the minimum wage for federal contractors. We actually
just issued the report this week that showed that there`s actually a huge
federal purchasing footprint that can be used to say, you know what, we`re
not going to actually give our federal contract dollars and health care
service payments to low road employers. We`re going to do it to high road
employers and lift up 20 million Americans.
BALL: So, even in the face of congressional opposition, there are things
that can be done.
Jared, I think another one of the right wing myths that Brazil undercuts is
this idea that the social safety net is a hammock. It`s lulling able-
bodied folks to sleep. Actually, Paul Ryan puts it better than I do.
Let`s listen to him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: We don`t want to turn this safety net into
a hammock that lulls able bodied people into lives of complacency and
dependency. That drains them of their will and their intent to make the
most of their lives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALL: So, two things -- first of all, Brazil is having a lot of success
with expanding their social safety net through their program in particular
and there`s also been this mythology that if you just gave poor people
cash, that they wouldn`t spend it in the right way, they`d blow it on
frivolous things, maybe alcohol, maybe cigarettes. In fact in Brazil, they
are just handing out cash and it is working really, really well.
BERNSTEIN: Right. I mean I think with Bolsa Familia, that`s the program
you`re describing in Brazil, one of the interesting things about it is that
the cash grant comes with a requirement that families make sure their kids
are in school and getting appropriate health care. And I think that that`s
a very useful -- that`s proven to be a very useful policy for them.
Remember, we`re talking about a country in Brazil, and we have similar
problems here, though not quite as deep, where oligarchy, where so much of
the wealth is held by so far. If you look at the landownership in Brazil,
it`s really skewed. And so, what we`re talking about there is some real
redistribution, not just, as I mentioned earlier, of opportunity. And what
has consistently been found to be very deeply false is this argument by
Paul Ryan that if you help poor people, they`re just going to, as you said,
frivolously waste the assistance.
BALL: Big screen TVs, right?
BERNSTEIN: Somehow, by the way, if you help rich people, if you cut their
taxes, all kinds of great things happen.
BALL: That`s totally different.
BERNSTEIN: But if you help poor people, they just -- you know, that just
doesn`t work. In fact one of the things that we`ve documented really I
think pretty carefully for folks who have looked at our anti-poverty
programs is that many of them, in fact some of the largest ones, are very
much pro work. The earned income tax credit is a great example of that.
Heather, another thing that I`ve been thinking about is Democrats have been
pushing for an increase in minimum wage. Very important. But even more
important than that I think would be for workers to have more power in
their workplace, so that they could push themselves for a higher wage.
MCGHEE: That`s right, that`s right. People who are -- right wing folks
who are anti-government should really be saying, you know what, let`s leave
this to the marketplace, and the marketplace includes workers and
BALL: That`s right.
MCGHEE: There are a lot of different things the president can do and
Congress can do to make it easier for workers to actually take power into
their own hands and bargain with their employers. This is a degree of
freedom and self determination that is a hallmark principle of this
MCGHEE: That has been undermined by the aggregation of corporate power up
against workers and unions.
BALL: And again, I think critical right now that we raise the minimum
wage, but I compare it to the giving of the fish versus teaching the fish,
which is another thing Republicans frequently talk about. If workers had
more power, then you could rely on the markets to do the right thing more
My thanks to MSNBC contributors Jared Bernstein and Heather McGhee of
And up next, the Washington Redskins lose their trademark. Is a name
change far behind?
BALL: The New York Yankees, the L.A. Lakers and Washington, D.C.`s
football team are some of the most popular and the most valuable sports
franchises in the country. But only one of those teams appears to be one
step closer to a possible name change this week.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Patent Office cancelled Washington football team`s
trademarks, calling the logo and the name "Redskins," quote, "disparaging
of Native Americans."
From a legal standpoint the team can continue to use those trademarks but
it could have a hard time protecting its rights to their team. In other
words, the ruling does not mean you can start selling your own redskins
shirts and hats on the Internet but that may not be true for long. This
case is certainly far from closed. The D.C. football team says it will
appeal the ruling. If history is any indication, it could win that appeal.
The Patent Office`s trial and appeals board rescinded the team`s trademark
protections 15 years ago. Federal court overturned that ruling four years
later, in part because the plaintiffs, which included a group of Native
Americans, had waited too long to file their suit.
On Wednesday, the Redskins` attorney released a statement that reads in
part, "As the district court`s ruling made clear in 2003, the evidence is
insufficient to conclude that during the relevant time periods the
trademark at issue disparaged Native Americans."
Even if D.C.`s team wins that appeal, that won`t stop all of the intense
political and cultural pressure the front office has been under. Last
month, 50 U.S. senators signed a letter urging the NFL to push the
Washington franchise to change its name. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
has vowed not to attend another game until the team is called something
else and even President Obama has weighed in on the issue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: If I were the owner of the team, and I knew that there was a name
of my team, even if it had a storied history that was offending a sizeable
group of people, I`d think about changing it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALL: But despite all this pressure, owner Daniel Snyder has refused to
budge. He told "USA Today" last year, quote, "We will never change the
name, it`s that simple, never. You can use caps."
Of course it`s easier to put promises in caps before you find out you could
be in jeopardy of losing millions of dollars of merchandising fees down the
So, will this latest ruling have any impact on the future of Washington`s
football franchise, or maybe the NFL in general?
Joining us now to discuss is the director of the Smithsonian`s National
Museum of the American Indian, Kevin Gover.
And Anita Marks, a member of the New York Giants broadcast team and a radio
host with NBC Sports. And, I should mention, a former pro football player
herself, which is super cool.
ANITA MARKS, NBC SPORTS RADIO: Thank you.
BALL: My daughter, Ella, who is 6, is convinced that she will be the first
female NFL player.
MARKS: Sounds like me when I was 6.
BALL: Which is pretty cool. So tell us -- help us understand what this
ruling actually means in practical terms, and does it really put any
pressure on Washington`s team?
MARKS: I don`t think it really puts any pressure -- it doesn`t put
pressure on Washington`s team right now. I think this is going to be a
long drawn-out process. I think this is going to go to the Supreme Court.
I think Dan Snyder is going to spend a ton of money, maybe $7 million, $8
million with trademark attorney fees where eventually, maybe, if this does
pass, the problem is going to be financial.
The Washington Redskins make anywhere between -- Forbes estimates that the
Washington Redskins make between $70 million to $80 million a year in
merchandising. So, that`s where this is -- removing the trademark, that`s
where it`s going to hurt them. So -- but I think it`s going to be a
BALL: So, this is another piece of pressure. I mentioned, Kevin, that we
had the members of the U.S. Congress sending a letter saying it needs to be
changed. I think public opinion, which has frankly always been on the side
of keeping the Redskins name, I think that that is changing as people think
about the fact that in polite conversation, you would never call someone a
Redskin. To me, that tells you everything you need to know about this
KEVIN GOVER, NATL. MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN: Yes, I agree with that.
The decision of the trademark office is just another step in the process.
What was most important about it to my eye was the detail that the board
went into in rebutting all of the arguments that the team has been making
about why this is not a racist term, why this is not a disparaging term and
just rejecting them in no uncertain terms.
So once again, it just confirms what we`ve been saying all along. This is
a racial slur. It shouldn`t be used in common conversation.
BALL: Anita, I think that it`s a matter of time, eventually they`re going
to have to make a change.
BALL: But have they sort of missed the boat in being the good guys in this
story and doing the right thing?
MARKS: It`s interesting. I teach a sports business class at NYU on
Thursday and this was a big topic in my class. One of the students brought
it up and said, don`t you feel that Dan Snyder is missing the boat here,
because we are a positive brand kind of connotation when it comes to sports
in our society.
BALL: Yes, and I think becoming more so.
MARKS: And I`ll use examples. You`ve got Jason Collins who came out as
the first homosexual gay NBA player. His jersey that week was the number
one selling NBA jersey.
Michael Sam, first gay NFL player. His jersey, number two highest selling
rookie jersey in the NFL. We as a sports society, as a society in general,
we love those positive brand connotations.
I do believe that Dan Snyder is missing the boat here. If he was to change
the name, kind of aim that moral compass in the right direction, maybe they
would make more than $70 million, $80 million in merchandise.
BALL: Yes, Kevin, I tell you I grew up in Virginia, I`m a long time, long-
suffering, I should say, Redskins fan. For me as a fan it`s embarrassing.
I don`t want to tweet about the team, I don`t want to use the name. I wish
they would change it. I think more and more fans are feeling that way.
And Native American activist Suzan Harjo who has been pushing the change
both for Washington`s team and teams that were using offensive Native
American imagery across the country, she had this to say. She said, "We`ve
made tremendous progress. There are a little over 3,000 of these types of
names in 1970, and now there are just a little over 900. We`ve eliminated
over two-thirds of these racist stereotypes in American sports."
Do you think it`s only a matter of time for Washington`s team to join the
GOVER: Absolutely. I would never disagree with Suzan Harjo. She`s our
leading thinker on this subject. She is the leading activist on this
subject. It is in no small part because of all the work she`s done over
That`s right. But part of what`s going on and, again, the trademark
board`s ruling contributes to this. As people come to know better, they do
better. And here I take it for granted that most people who support this
team, especially in the past, and as you grew up supporting the team, it
never occurred to them that this might be offensive.
GOVER: As people learn that it is, as our society progresses, as certain
words fall into disuse, things change. And I think that`s what`s happening
here. And if I could, let me just say, I don`t think it`s too late for Mr.
Snyder to be on the right side of this. It would be a shame for him to end
up going down in history as the guy who was -- the last man standing for
this sort of thing. It`s so unnecessary.
BALL: Yes, we still believe in you, Dan. You can still do the right
GOVER: That`s right.
BALL: Go ahead, Anita.
MARKS: Just real quick, what we saw happening with the Los Angeles
Clippers and how that team, the players stepped up and were against the
owner. How about if RG3 or some of the Washington Redskins players were to
step up and say, Dan, this isn`t right.
BALL: Public pressure and player pressure.
MARKS: Player pressure, I think that needs to happen, too.
All right. We`ll have to leave it there. Thank you to Kevin Gover of the
National Museum of American Indian, and NBC Sports Radio`s Anita Marks.
So what do we know now that we did not the know last week? Our answers
BALL: I want to find out what my guests know now that they did not know
when the week began.
Let`s start with you, David.
CORN: What I know now is AMC Network has a new show. It`s called "The
Walking Dead" the neocon version. The neocon zombies are back with the
Iraq war. We can`t kill them no matter what they did wrong. They still
get airtime and a whole new series.
BALL: I do not want to watch that series.
MURPHY: I think that was FOX, actually, not AMC.
Tomorrow is the 70th anniversary of the original G.I. bill which helped
build our middle class at the World War II and the post-9/11 G.I. Bill has
helped 1.1 million Americans. We`ll talk it tomorrow on "Talking the
BALL: That`s right. Watching "Taking the Hill", 1:00 p.m., with Patrick.
SUSSMAN: Tomorrow, on Monday, Center for American Progress is partnering
with the White House, the president, first lady, and Bidens will all be
there to support working families, policies that really help working
families in this country. So follow along at AmProg and #familysucceed.
BALL: You are such a good spokesperson.
I want to thank all of you so much, David Corn with "Mother Jones", MSNBC
contributor and former Congressman Patrick Murphy and, of course, Emily
Tisch Sussman, with the Center for American Progress.
Thank you all for getting UP.
And earlier this week I suggested maybe Hillary Clinton could be the
Democrats` Mitt Romney. Tomorrow, we will have someone on who is going to
try to challenge me on that.
But coming up next is "MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY." And on today`s "MHP", it`s
50 years since Freedom Summer, and one year since the Supreme Court up-
ended the Voting Rights Act. And still, the struggle for ensuring the
right to vote in America continues.
That and, of course, much, much more with Melissa in Nerdland. That`s
next. We will see you right here tomorrow at 8:00. Thank you for getting
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