All In With Chris Hayes, Tuesday, July 8th, 2014
Read the transcript from the Tuesday show
ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
July 8, 2014
Guest: Joaquin Castro, Leslie Velez, Dave Weigel, Lee Fang, Patrick
Kennedy, Dr. Carl Hart
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST (voice-over): Tonight, we are ALL IN.
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Governor Perry indicated a
desire to speak to the president about this.
HAYES: The immigration crisis. President Obama is headed to Texas to
meet with Rick Perry.
GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: You either have an incredibly inept
administration, or they`re in on this somehow.
HAYES: As the United Nations makes a historic plea to America to
allow these families to stay. Tonight, the latest on the humanitarian
crisis on the border.
Then, Israel on a war footing. As casualties mount in Palestine, the
specter of a ground war looms.
Plus, the bizarre Cuban plot to take down a United States senator,
with a little help from Tucker Carlson?
TUCKER CARLSON: Now you`re getting into it. I like that.
HAYES: And marijuana goes on sale in Washington. We`ll tell you the
real reason it`s still illegal in 48 states.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I never thought I`d see this in my lifetime.
HAYES: ALL IN starts right now.
HAYES: Good evening from New York. I`m Chris Hayes.
Today, the White House submitted an emergency funding request to
Congress for almost $4 billion, to help deal with the humanitarian crisis
on our southern border. A crisis driven by violence in the Central
American countries from which most of the unaccompanied migrant children
are fleeing and exacerbated by an overwhelmed and under-resourced U.S.
Included in $3.7 billion supplemental funding request is money for the
Department of Health and Human Services to care for the unaccompanied
children, the Department of Homeland Security and DOJ to step up
enforcement, and for the State Department to target misinformation and
support reintegration efforts for migrants.
House Republicans have been cool to the request. Speaker Boehner says
they will review it. Meanwhile, the United Nations high commissioner for
refugees today called on the United States to treat many of the migrants
arriving at the southern border from Central America as refugees who have
been displaced by armed conflict, a designation that could allow them to
stay in the United States. This while demonstrations have continued across
the country in opposition to hosting even temporarily migrant children and
Yesterday, over 100 people gathered in Vassar, Michigan, to protest
the possibility of the unaccompanied minors being temporarily housed in
There`s arguably no state in the nation that has been more affected by
the recent influx of unaccompanied minors than Texas, which has seen the
largest number of children come across its border.
And tomorrow, Texas Governor Rick Perry will meet with President Obama
to discuss that situation. Perry had earlier refused to meet the president
at the airport saying, "a quick handshake on the tarmac will not allow for
a thoughtful discussion regarding the humanitarian and national security
crises enveloping the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas."
Today, the White House confirmed President Obama will indeed sit down
with Rick Perry, one of his most vocal critics, and perhaps the president
will have an opportunity to ask Governor Perry to elaborate on the
conspiracy theory he floated just last month.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PERRY: You either have an incredibly inept administration, or they`re
in on this somehow or another. I mean, I hate to be conspiratorial, but --
I mean, how do you move that many people from central America across Mexico
and then into the United States without there being a fairly coordinated
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Joining me now, Congressman Joaquin Castro, Democrat from
Texas. He`s a second generation Mexican-American.
Congressman, do you think Rick Perry actually thinks the White House
is somehow coordinating the moving of tens of thousands of children from
Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, to the southern border?
REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO (D), TEXAS: Well, Chris, I can`t pretend to know
what is in Rick Perry`s mind, but I do know that he`s running for president
in a very crowded Republican primary field, that he was stung by the issue
of immigration in 2012, vis-a-vis the Texas DREAM Act, and so, he`s going
to talk tough on this issue. And, you know, I don`t think he really
believes that but knows it`s going to rile up his base. And so, he`s
HAYES: Yes, the moment you just referred to, this is a sort of a key
moment in the last presidential primary. This is Rick Perry defending
Texas` decision to extend in-state tuition to the undocumented children in
state if they qualified for college. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PERRY: If you say that we should not educate children who have come
into our state for no other reason than they`ve been brought there, by no
fault of their own, I don`t think you have a heart.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: That was then followed up by this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PERRY: I probably chose a poor word to explain that. For people who
don`t want their state to be giving tuition to illegal aliens, illegal
immigrants in this country, that`s their call. And I respect that. And I
was -- you know, I was probably a bit over-passionate by using that word,
and it was inappropriate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: And yet it strikes me, Congressman, that the governor`s first
position there, the old position, is probably more in line with the
majority of Texans than folks outside Texas might anticipate.
CASTRO: No, that`s right. You know, Texas was one of the first
states to pass its state version of a DREAM Act, and, you know, I remember
watching Governor Perry deliver that line and being proud that in that
field he actually stood up for the law that was passed overwhelmingly in a
bipartisan way, but then for him to back away from that, and for him now to
be making the strong statements and off-the-wall statements that he`s
making, you get the sense that he`s almost trying to make it up to
Republican primary voters by talking tough now.
HAYES: Can you put in perspective how this issue and this story,
which has really kind of escalated in its salience over the last two or
three weeks, how it is resonating in your congressional district in the
state of Texas?
CASTRO: Well, you know, of course Texans are concerned about the
situation, but Texas also has a long history with immigration. We are the
state in the nation that has the longest border with Mexico of any state,
about 1,200 miles. And so, you know, this situation, while it`s unique in
American history, Texas has a long history of immigration.
And also, if you look at what`s going on in the border communities,
you have a lot of people, whether it`s through Catholic charities,
different non-profits, immigration advocacy groups, who are opening their
hearts to help out these kids. And really care about the kids` welfare.
HAYES: You know, one of the things we`ve been seeing as kind of
reporting that seeks to give the impression that these children are
bringing with them infection and disease, this was a headline report,
illegal immigrant children have life so bad, they can be seen crawling down
Given the kind of question of compassion and heartlessness raised by
the Perry issue, is there a political space to make a political argument
for compassion and a compassionate policy here?
CASTRO: No, absolutely. I think most of all, we have to remember
that these are human beings and that these are kids and show the compassion
we should for that.
And I agree with the statements that were made today that these folks
should be considered for asylum. Obviously, not everybody will be granted
asylum, but I think this is a real test for America in the 21st century,
whether we are a nation that can still consider somebody a refugee in our
HAYES: Congressman Joaquin Castro of Texas, thank you very much.
As the congressman just mentioned, and as we mentioned before, the
U.N. body tasked with handling refugees internationally is calling on the
U.S. to consider taking in the children fleeing Central American violence.
A refugee crisis may seem like the kind of news that comes from
another part of the world, but refugees aren`t new to the U.S. In fact,
evaluating the claims of those seeking refugee status, settling in the U.S.
is something the U.S. does every day.
To qualify for refugee status under U.S. law right now, a person must
among other things demonstrate persecution and be located outside the
United States. For fiscal year 2014, president and Congress capped the
number of refugees allowed in the country at 70,000 worldwide total. And
there are specific caps for our region. For Latin America and the
Caribbean, that cap is just 5,000 people.
The migrants at issue here, being scooped up by U.S. Border Patrol day
after day after day in scenes like this, more than 52,000 unaccompanied
minors caught trying to cross the border since October. They would be
considered asylum seekers, not refugees, because they have already entered
the United States.
And the number of asylum seekers U.S. lets in every year is even lower
than the number of refugees. In 2012, there were just under 30,000
individuals granted asylum by the U.S., according to the Department of
Homeland Security, in a nation of 300 million. Compare that number to the
90,000 unaccompanied minors DHS expects will be caught trying to cross the
border in fiscal year 2014. That doesn`t count the thousands of adults who
are crossing the border as well.
This surge of tens of thousands of migrants has precipitated as we`ve
been chronicling here a bureaucratic humanitarian, and political crisis.
But can you imagine just for a moment if the U.S. were dealing instead
with something like this?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: The U.N. says more than 2 million refugees have fled Syria,
but there are many more than that. No one is counting these men who walked
through a hole in a fence.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Turkey says there are now more than 1 million Syrians at
refugee camps within Turkish borders and living in Turkish cities. Across
the world, there are more than 50 million refugees. Some countries that
are far smaller than the United States, like Lebanon and Ethiopia take many
more refugees than we do.
People showing up at the southern U.S. border are fleeing violence
like refugees around the world. The big question now is whether they
should be granted asylum and what exactly it means for America if they are?
Joining me now is Leslie Velez. She`s United States High Commission
of Refugee senior protection officer.
Ms. Velez, the call from UNHCR today to consider these children
showing up as refugees, what motivated that?
LESLIE VELEZ, UNITED NATIONS: Well, thanks for having us.
The message has not changed. We`ve been sending the same message
since we`ve completed our report and our assessment in May of 2014 -- March
of 2014, I`m sorry. So, what we did was in 2013, we interviewed over 400
of the children in the context of these flows. We saw a lot of indicators
which were red flags for the U.N. refugee agency, such as a 712 percent
increase in number of asylum applications lodged by individuals El
Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, to countries other than the United States.
HAYES: So, just stop you there for a second -- 712 percent increase
in asylum petitions coming from the people in those three countries to
countries that weren`t the U.S. Just trying to get out to wherever they
could get out.
VELEZ: That`s right. I mean, Nicaragua last year, for example, in
just one year experienced a 238 percent increase.
HAYES: So, when we talk about asylum status, under U.S. law, you have
to demonstrate persecution. There are different groups that that
persecution might fall into it, if you`re being persecuted based on your
race, religious creed, or ethnic identification. That doesn`t seem to be
the case here with these children. It seems like much more of a gray area
in which they`re facing the possibility of gang violence essentially run
amok, murder rates higher than anywhere else in the world, but does that
actually count in an official sense as being a refugee?
VELEZ: So, the definition of refugee is someone who has a well-
founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality,
political opinion, or their membership in a particular social group. In
this context, what we learned from the children is that a clear almost 60
percent of them presented international protection concerns.
And so, what that means is that they have legitimate asylum claims.
The numbers don`t do it justice. So, some of the stories, what we learned
really grabbed our attention.
Young girls who were -- that we interviewed had been threatened to
become for nonconsensual sexual relationships with some members of these
gangs and one girl told us she left because they threatened her multiple
times and knew they would follow through because they took her best friend
and after having raped her, they dismembered her body and put her body
parts along the road to school as a reminder not just to her but to the
other girls that this is not an empty threat.
HAYES: So this kind of horrifying -- horrifying crime and
demonstration, what you`re saying is that we`re interpreting this as a sort
of, like, generalized problem, right? There`s high levels of violence in
these countries. Of course, you`d want to leave.
And what you found in your report interviewing these 400 is that many
of the kids fleeing are actually specific targets of specific threats from
specific groups who say, we will kill you?
VELEZ: That`s right. Well, 60 percent of them feared harm or had
already been victims of it. So persecution, the shortcut to understanding
what persecution is, is the threat of or the experience of serious harm
coupled with the absence of state protection.
So, what we did find with 60 percent of the children is that they
believed that they couldn`t access any protection from their own
governments. And their only choice to survive was to actually leave. And
these are painful decisions that families are making.
There was one boy in particular who said to us, I didn`t want to
leave, I didn`t want to leave my mother alone because I was worried about
her safety, but his younger sister, he was 15 and his younger sister was
12, and she`d already been attacked and threatened and so, mother asked the
son, begged him to make sure that he joined her along the way to make sure
that she was protected in the journey.
I mean, these are painful decisions that children are facing.
HAYES: Leslie Velez from the office of the United Nations High
Commission of Refugees -- thank you so much.
HAYES: An eerie scene in Tel Aviv today.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
HAYES: Air raid sirens sounding as two rockets were intercepted,
according to Israeli television. It was the deadliest day so far in the
latest flare up of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.
Ministry of Health in Gaza saying at least 24 Palestinians were
What`s next? We`ll get the latest, ahead.
HAYES: Benghazi committee or Veteran Affairs Committee? Which one do
you think Republicans in the House want to spend more money on? I`ll tell
HAYES: What the Israeli government is calling Operation Protective
Edge is now officially under way, as Israeli airstrikes continue over the
Ministry of Health in Gaza tells NBC News that at least 24
Palestinians have been killed in the intensified bombing campaign,
including three women and seven children.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PALESTINIAN MAN, GAZA: This future will be very bad and very harsh
for us, but what we can do? What we can do?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Israel has called up 40,000 reservists, raising the
possibility of a ground invasion to stem the tide of rockets it says are
being fired from Gaza into civilian areas of Israel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LT. COL. PETER LERNER, IDF SPOKESMAN: What we are actually
experiencing over the last couple of days is a huge onslaught of Gaza
rockets on our towns. It`s a reality that we could not accept, and
therefore, the government ordered the military to take steps in order to
prevent this aggression.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: So far, the Israeli Defense Forces say militants launched at
least 160 rockets from Gaza into Israel, with at least 23 of them being
intercepted by Israel`s Iron Dome missile defense system.
Today, air raid sirens rang out in Israel`s two major cities,
Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, as militants in Gaza sent long-range rockets deeper
into country. Israeli TV reported two rockets were intercepted on the way
to Tel Aviv. While Hamas claims it sent a rocket as far as Haifa, all the
way up near Israel`s northern tip.
This escalation, the worst since Israel and Hamas signed a ceasefire
in 2012, comes on the day the president of the United States published an
op-ed in an Israeli paper "Haaretz", urging Israelis and Palestinians to
continue the peace process.
Quote, "Peace is necessary because it`s the only way to ensure a
secure and democratic future of the Jewish state of Israel. While walls
and missile defense systems can help protect against some threats, true
safety will only come with a comprehensive negotiated settlement."
The op-ed was timed to a peace conference the newspaper hosted today
which, itself, dissolved into chaos when Israeli`s conservative economy
minister was physically attacked while exiting the stage.
I spoke in the last hour with NBC foreign correspondent Ayman
Mohyeldin in Tel Aviv. I started by asking him about how high tensions
were on the ground in both Israel and Gaza.
AYMAN MOHYELDIN, NBC NEWS FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: That`s correct,
Chris. In fact, it`s been a few hours since we`ve heard the sirens here go
off. But make no mistake about it, this is a tense situation for Israel.
The country has raised alertness levels at hospitals. They have shut down
summer school programs, as well as daycare programs in the southern part of
the country. They`ve deployed thousands of additional soldiers to the
south part of their reserve deployment and they`ve opened bomb shelters.
So, the country is pretty much going on a war footing and the prime
minister this evening told the nation that this could be a long and very
In the same time in Gaza, health officials there are saying this is
going to be catastrophic for them. Keep in mind, Gaza has been under siege
for several years now. Their health care infrastructure has been
decimated. They simply can`t cope with the large number of casualties and
fatalities that they have been seeing over the course of the first day,
And keep in mind, Gaza does not have early warning sirens and it does
not have the bomb shelters for its civilian population that Israel does.
So, both sides tonight preparing for what could be a long and very
HAYES: Both the Israeli government -- well, the Israeli government
says that the escalating airstrikes in Gaza are responses to increased
rocket fire from Gaza toward civilian targets in Israel and not related to
the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers.
Is that true, you think?
MOHYELDIN: Well, that is an assumption that Palestinians and several
others inside Israel, particularly on the left, reject. And there`s a few
reasons for that. One is the difficult part in the Israeli/Palestinian
conflict is choosing the departure point for the latest round of violence.
Keep in mind that Hamas has been complaining, or at least has raised
flags with some of the intermediaries that it deals with when it comes to
the Israeli/Palestinian issue. That following the kidnapping and killing
of those three Israeli teenagers, Israel went up and rounded about 400
members of Hamas, none of them being charged or accused with any crimes as
of yet, and that certainly angered the militant group in Gaza.
But even before the kidnapping of three Israeli-Jewish teenagers and
killing of the Palestinian teenager last week, two Palestinians were killed
back in May and didn`t trigger the kind of international outcry and
international outrage that the killing of the three Israeli teens have.
And that is always the difficult point when you`re looking at the
starting of a cycle of violence in this part of the Middle East. It`s
about which is the act, or which act is the one that triggered or
exacerbated the latest round of tensions?
HAYES: There`s been talk for a while about a possibility of a third
intifada. And a lot of talk -- even the president of the United States
himself today in "Haaretz" saying the currently status quo is untenable.
Given all the reporting you`ve been doing in the West Bank and the fallout
of the murder of that Palestinian teenager, does it feel like there is some
bout of violence or concerted uprising around the corner?
MOHYELDIN: Well, the tension is definitely there. There is a ground
swell of frustration among the Palestinian population. Keep in mind:
they`ve been living now under this so-called peace process for more than or
nearly close to 20 years. And as a result of that, their quality of life
has not gotten better by any measure of the word.
And as a result, Palestinians have talked about the need to change
course. Now, whether or not that`s done through an intifada or popular
uprising, whether it`s done through a change of Palestinian leadership or
whether it`s what Hamas has been trying to do and advocate a militant use
of force to try and change course, there is an ongoing discussion, you
know, in the Palestinian political society about what is the best way to
achieve self-discrimination for the Palestinians?
That debate is always taking place. I think there`s a lot of
disagreement sometimes about it. But on the ground, on the street, I think
it is reaching a tipping point. A lot of people are frustrated that the
quality of their life is not getting better.
HAYES: Ayman Mohyeldin from Tel Aviv. Thank you very much.
HAYES: We`ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS: The full House stands ready to vote on a high-
powered search for the truth behind how the administration handled the
Benghazi terror attack and what happened in the days leading up to
UNIDENTIFEID MALE: Speaker John Boehner is forming a select committee
to investigate disclosures this week that he says show the administration
misled the American people.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: House Speaker John Boehner just naming the
Republican members of the Benghazi select committee which will be chaired,
as we know, by Congressman Trey Gowdy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: Not long ago, House Republicans announced a great fanfare, the
Benghazi Select Committee, accompanied by a separate flashy fund-raising
Web site which appeared to be part of Speaker Boehner`s strategy to deal
with the parts of his base hungering for impeachment, or if not that, the
next best thing.
Well, we now know how much this enterprise will cost thanks to speaker
-- to Minority Leader Pelosi`s office which shared an internal budget
document today with "USA Today." Revealing House Republicans have
requested $3.3 million for the Benghazi committee`s operations which since
the committee was created in May, and has not been operating for the full
year, means its estimated equivalent budget would for the entire year be
more than $5 million. That includes none of the cost of the House`s four
previous Benghazi investigations.
Now, it may not be the most expensive congressional committee, but to
put that $5 million number in perspective, it would cost more than nine
other permanent committees including, you know, Intelligence, which
oversees the NSA and the vast sprawling surveillance system. And
Agriculture, which sets our nation`s food and farm policies. And, well,
also the Committee on Veterans Affairs.
Remember when just a few weeks ago, Washington was united in
collective outrage about the V.A.`s problems? During that time,
"Huffington Post`s" Ryan Grim provided a fascinating reason as to why
congressional oversight of the V.A. has been so terrible.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN GRIM, "WASHINGTON POST": If you are a member of congress, your
number one priority is to raise money. In order to raise money, you want
to get on committees that oversee industries that are going to give you
money. The Veterans Affairs oversees the VA. There is no money in that.
So, nobody wants to be on it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: In households, businesses, and governments, budgets are above
all statements of priorities. And, now house republicans have put their
priorities down on the ledger in black and white. Joining me now is Dave
Weigel, political reporter for "Slate." And, Dave, I love the back story
here, which is that the minority leader, speaker -- minority leader Pelosi
leaking the document to "USA Today" to basically blow up their spot over
DAVE WEIGEL, POLITICAL REPORTER FOR "SLATE": Well, she has been
around a while. And, this was tactic the democrats used to great effect in
the Clinton years. They would bring up the cost. Every time there was a
new estimate of how much Ken Starr`s investigation was costing, they would
bring that cost up.
The difference between then and now is -- I guess, a lot of
progressives do not want to hear it, polling says people are more concerned
about the Benghazi situation now, have more questions than they did by the
Clinton investigation. So, they are -- it is an old playbook. It is a
melody that is worked before. The song is kind of different this time.
HAYES: What is always struck me about the -- what is happening here
is that there is -- you are seeing move from the fringes creeping towards
the center of the conservative movement in the Republican Party, the kind
of impeachment urge. And, I think Speaker Boehner understands exactly how
destructive it is.
And, he is trying to essentially manage that, and as he is trying to
manage it, which regarding Benghazi, you have a senate candidate in Iowa,
Ernst today, basically floating impeachment. You have, of course, Sarah
Palin calling for it. It is inexorably creeping closer and closer toward
WEIGEL: Yes. You know, earlier in the year I think if you asked
people who they thought had a better pulse on what the base wanted, how to
keep the base happy, they would have said -- between Eric Cantor and John
Boehner, they would have picked Cantor.
Boehner has been very good at knowing where the safety valve is and
knowing just how much pressure to take off of it. I think he took his time
with Benghazi hearing. I remember talking to Tea Party candidates earlier
in the year, may be February or March, who were angry they had not created
a select committee yet. He did it just in time when the pressure was
The lawsuit I think is providing a little bit more breathing room for
Republicans. Not that they have more primaries left. They just do get
these questions from their base, from activists, from the people they speak
to about why they are not doing more to take Obama down.
There is sort of a tandem risk going on between, I think, a lot of
base republicans represented by Ted Cruz. He is probably the best
understanding what they want, and the leadership that is trying to figure
out how to keep that in check without damaging the party. Because -- as
you have mentioned about Pelosi -- Remember the `90s --
WEIGEL: Boehner remembers them, too. There was an enormous backlash
at one point. And, they think if they can avoid that point and win lots of
seats in the election, they take congress. They do not need to worry about
lawsuits or dodging the president. They can just block what he is doing
for two years.
HAYES: Well -- you just referred to the safety valve, which is a
great term and the way I have been thinking about it as well. Do you think
it works essentially? There is two ways of looking at it. One is you kind
of allow people to, you know, express their frustration and outrage and
their desire to get rid Barack Obama through these outlets, through the
select committee, through the lawsuit. The other is that like the Starr
inquiry, they take on lies of their own and create their own momentum that
then makes it very difficult to say, "OK, stop."
WEIGEL: That is a good point, and I think the Mississippi situation
we are seeing which we -- it does not seem like it is part of this, that is
a good example of how the base can get away from the Republican Party even
when they think they have figured it out.
WEIGEL: And, none of these guys a week ago, I have been talking to
Lindsey Graham and a couple other of the more moderate republicans today,
none of them thought after that election that they would have to be
explaining and re-explaining why the party went into block a tackle for Ted
Cochran, apologizing for the way Ted Cochran ran his campaign.
You have party chairmen who usually more responsive to the base than
some of the leadership saying that there needs to be reckoning for the way
Cochran criticized the Tea Party and the way his campaign said that black
voters had to vote for him. You have these eruptions coming up that they
have to work around and I think -- I really do think they have done mostly
a good job about it.
Only two incumbents that have lost primaries in the house this time,
this primary season. One of them happened to be Cantor. But, look, all
they need to do is get through October, get through November and tamp down
the people who are very noisy saying if the party does not do this, does
not go this far with Obama, I am not going to show up. They did it in
2010. They did it moderately -- a good job of it in the races that stayed
competitive in 2012. They know they have the electorate that is more ready
to show up. The older more conservative, more white electorate. They just
do not want to go too far.
HAYES: Yes. They need to kind of get the -- keep them along until
Election Day. Dave Weigel from "Slate." thank you so much.
WEIGEL: Thank you.
HAYES: It seems like marijuana legalization is really taking off.
But, there is a well-funded lobbying campaign to keep it illegal. And, who
is behind it, might surprise you. That story, ahead.
HAYES: Sometimes as a journalist you come across a possible story
that seems so entertaining or surprising, or fascinating or tantalizing,
you just want to run with it. And, sometimes the desire to run with it can
get ahead of you. That apparently happened to "The Daily Caller" which ran
with a now thoroughly discredited story in 2012 about New Jersey Senator
Robert Menendez having cavorted with underage prostitutes in the Dominican
They reported it and then the women who accused the senator of
cavorting with them recanted. They said they were paid to say that. And,
it turned out a whole bunch of other news enterprises had been shot the
story as well and passed. ABC news said, we do not think this is credible
after interviewing the women. The "New York Post" said "No." "The Daily
Caller" ran with it.
Well, there was a story today that I really wanted to run with. It
was in the "Washington Post." And, it suggested that possibly the source
of that story had, in fact, been Cuban intelligence agents. That agents of
the government have wanted to take down Senator Robert Menendez and to do
so, had planted stories about him cavorting with under-aged prostitutes and
the taker they found was none other than "The Daily Caller." The
conservative anti-columnist publications run by Tucker Carlson.
Well, that proves to be, well, at least, as far as our reporting
suggests also not true. NBC news has just spoken to numerous officials in
the intelligence agencies. And, there is no credible evidence that Cuban
government agents hashed an alleged smear campaign to try to link Senator
Robert Menendez to an under-aged prostitution scandal. So, that is what
our reporting suggests. So, we are not going to do the story which is how
journalism is supposed to work.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE ANCHOR: Pot is now for sale legally in Seattle.
The first wave of licensed retail stores opened today, greeted by long
lines and much anticipation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE CORRESPONDENT: This line is snaking all the way
around the building here about 200-plus people here. So, just to let you
know, again, they have got only about 10 pounds of weed. So, there is
concern that there is going to be an issue of running out of marijuana.
So, right now there is a limit of just two grams.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HAYES: This is the kind of week in which you think that marijuana
legalization in this country is inevitable. Today as you just saw,
Washington State began selling not that much marijuana for recreational
use. And, yesterday Governor Andrew Cuomo held a signing ceremony making
New York the 23rd state to authorize the use of medical marijuana.
You really cannot blame proponents of marijuana legalization for
thinking they are winning. Especially when the polling date to backs them
up, close to 60 percent of Americans -- 60 percent favor the legalizing of
marijuana. I did not think I would live to see that. But, beneath the
surface there is a sophisticated, well-funded lobbying campaign aimed at
keeping marijuana illegal.
In an eye-opening investigative piece in "The Nation," reportedly
Fang pulls back the curtain writing, quote, "It is more than a little odd
community anti-drug coalitions of America, the other groups leading the
fight against relaxing marijuana laws including the partnership for drug-
free kids, formerly the partnership for drug-free America, derive a
significant portion of their budget from opioid manufacturers and other
According to Fang, quote, "Legalization`s biggest threat is to the
bottom line of these same special interests, which reap significant
monetary advantages for pot prohibition that are rarely acknowledged in the
public debate." Could it be the big pharmaceutical companies are working
to keep marijuana legal because pot might be a cheaper, even safer
alternative to the legal prescription products they are in the business of
selling right now?
Lee Fang joins me now. Lee, it was a very impressive bit of
reporting. You obtained a confidential document that showed the funding
structure of one of these groups that have been pushing hard against
marijuana legalization and I was kind of amazed to see there were a lot of
big pharmaceutical companies contributing to them.
LEE FANG, SENIOR INVESTIGATOR AT "THE NATION": That is right, Chris.
Purdue Pharma, the makers of OxyContin, has provided hundreds of thousands
of dollars to many of the largest drug prevention groups. These drug
prevention groups are spending their resources, their money, not on
fighting prescription painkiller abuse, which is an epidemic. The CDC says
it kills over 16,000 people a year. Instead, they are focusing most of
their resources on fighting marijuana, which some experts say is a cheaper,
safe alternative to this product.
HAYES: Is that your thinking about -- I mean, you do not explicitly
say this in the piece. You just sort of say what your reporting said about
where the funding is coming for some of these groups, which are connected
to big Pharma that manufacturers the kind of drugs you talked about. But,
is that the thinking that this will represent a threat to the bottom line
of big pharmaceutical companies that are currently selling drugs that are
very widely consumed and very widely abused, in fact, that are prescription
FANG: Well, it is difficult to say. The prescription drug companies
would not comment, but the record shows that these large drug prevention
groups have refused to join coalitions to reform how prescription drugs are
prescribed in America.
Something like 84 percent of hydrocodone products in the whole world
are consumed by Americans even though we constitute less than 5 percent of
global population. So, this is a big epidemic and these drug prevention
groups appear to have been co-opted by the industry and instead are
focusing on marijuana.
HAYES: Finally, I have to say -- in reading the reporting, it also
struck me that actually in the relative scheme of things, they could be
spending a lot more money on this. I mean, you are talking about hundreds
of thousands of dollars.
I mean, if these groups really did see marijuana as the threat that
it appears they might or that it might actually constitute in bottom-line
terms, I mean you could imagine they would start running $10 million. It
is a Super Pac ear. They could just be going after all the politicians who
FANG: Well, Chris, remember that many of these groups that they fund
do not disclose their donors. I was able to find some of the money, not
all of it. And, the second thing is, my piece explores many of the special
interest groups. Law enforcement is spending big bucks this year lobbying
against marijuana reform laws, decriminalization, legalization, medical
marijuana. So, there is big money at stake and these interest groups have
been willing to flex their muscle.
HAYES: Lee Fang from "The Nation." Thank you so much.
FANG: Thank you.
HAYES: The subjects of the article of that Lee wrote, we just talked
about, is former Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy. Kennedy is a
man who struggled with addiction, particularly prescription drugs. And, as
Lee Fang`s article points out, Kennedy`s project, S.A.M, is the most
visible group opposing marijuana law reform. And, joining me now is
Patrick Kennedy. And, Mr. Kennedy, why did you choose to make this the
kind of cause of your post-congressional career?
FMR. REP. PATRICK KENNEDY, (D) RHODE ISLAND: Well, as you know,
Chris, I was the author of The Mental Health Parity And Addiction Equity
Act, which went into effect on July 1st this year. And, that changes
health care as we know it because now mental health and addiction will be
covered like all other illnesses. And, that is a sea change in health
So, I found myself going around to the different states to promote it
and really implementation of the mental health law. And, then I came
across both the medical marijuana, which is really a Trojan horse for
legalization, and the whole concept of adding to the burden that our
society faces with addiction by legalizing another drug. I agree with Lee,
I think opioid abuse has really been fueled by availability and
accessibility of OxyContin and other drugs.
Why do we want to double down on that and add another psychedelic
drug? And, frankly, you know, people can get marijuana today. I concede
that, but, you know, the difference with it being commercially available,
as you saw in the beginning of your report, it is going to add to the
number of people overall who are exposed to this. Most particularly young
people, because young people will get the sense that it is no big deal. It
is like grabbing a bottle of booze from your parents` liquor counter.
Now, they can do it with these pot brownies and candies and it is
even in e-cigarettes. It is in soft drinks. I just do not think for our
country if we care about the mental health and development of our young
people, and our country as a whole, that we really want to invite a new big
tobacco. That is the new marijuana industry into this.
HAYES: But, it does seem there is a bit of a striking irony in the
fact that your own personal experience, I think which you would say led to
the work you did, the -- if I might say, excellent work you did on Mental
Health Parity, which I think was a huge win for the American people, that
your own experience was actually with drugs that were legal which would
seem to sort of show exactly how arbitrary in many senses the line that we
draw is. I mean there are thousands of people who struggle with alcohol
KENNEDY: Yes. In fact --
HAYES: And, the people that are arguing for legalization make is
precisely that, the line between the legal and the illegal is not bounded
on any rational basis.
KENNEDY: Well, you know, you make a good point, Chris, and that is
that, you know, we have basically accepted because it is a prescribed drug.
I took it. I loved it. I am an addict. It does not matter what I take,
you know? I want to be in some other place in my mind.
And, so marijuana, when they say it is gateway, it is really tobacco
and alcohol. You start with that then you want more. So, no one, like,
dies with a needle in their arms because they started with heroin. They
started drinking, you know? They started using marijuana, and then they
wanted more. And, the problem I have is now you are going to have a
commercialized industry that is going to be marketing.
Their for-profit is going to be based upon how many people like me,
who they can get to abuse and be addicted to their product. That is who
they make their money off of. I do not think that is good for business to
have a company whose for-profit motive is to get more addicts to consume
HAYES: Former Congressman Patrick Kennedy, thank you so much. I
really appreciate it.
KENNEDY: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: Well, the congressman just mentioned a for-profit business
model that depends on getting addicts to consume their product exists kind
of in America right now. I will tell you more about it after the break.
HAYES: One of the big funders against marijuana law reform according
to Lee Fang`s reporting this month in "The Nation" is a company called
Purdue Pharma. They are the makers of OxyContin. OxyContin is of course
an opioid with a high potential for abuse. According to CBC, between 2006
and 2010 deaths involving opioid painkillers like OxyContin jumped 21
Here is that spike in opioid deaths compares to deaths from cocaine
and heroin over the same periods. It is a really striking chart. Look at
that. That is not what I would have predicted. There are more than 16,000
opioid-related deaths in 20 10 compared to just over 4,000 deaths for
cocaine and just over 3,000 deaths for heroin.
Joining me now, Dr. Carl Hart, director of the residential studies of
Methamphetamine Research Laboratories in New York State Psychiatric
Institute and author of "High Price." And, we asked former Congressman
Patrick Kennedy to stick around. Dr. Hart, your reaction to what Mr.
Kennedy was just saying about the ways in which legalized marijuana
industry would target addicts or target folks.
DR. CARL HART, DIRECTOR OF THE RESIDENTIAL STUDIES OF METHAMPHETAMINE
RESEARCH LABORATORIES IN NEW YORK STATE PSYCHIATRIC INSTITUTE: You know,
we have five minutes. So, I have so much to respond to. I mean, on the
one hand, I agree. We want to make sure that we keep people safe in this
society. That is number one. But the thing that kind of concerns me about
the absence of the conversation that the congressman talks about is that
they never mention the fact that we arrest all of these people every year
related to drugs like marijuana and racial disparities. They never mention
those sort of things. So, it is quite disturbing for me, because that is -
- We ruin more people is lives that way than what they talk about.
KENNEDY: Well, if I could --
KENNEDY: So, my record tells a different story, Carl. So, if you
bother to see my record, I was a principle opponent for expungement drug
courts alternative sentencing. I agree with you, Carl. There is a
disproportion number of minorities who incarcerated in this country. But,
if you could see, Carl, that applies to all crimes.
Our criminal justice system disproportionately impacts people of
color. That does not mean that, you know, having a drug policy is the
wrong thing. What makes it wrong is that it is disproportionately been
applied. And, that is a more of an issue of correcting our justice system
as opposed to changing our drug laws.
DR. HART: Well, you see, congressman, or Patrick, you see the deal is
this. It is like you are talking about drugs because that is your
expertise or that is your adopted expertise and these are my expertise.
That is why I am talking about drugs as it relates to the criminal justice
system, and particularly as it relates to this disparity in arrests.
And, I do not hear you talking about this now. And, the problem is
still with us today. I do not hear you talking about this. But, what I
hear you talking about is the dangers of marijuana. And, marijuana
certainly is potentially dangerous just like any other psychoactive drug,
but we know how to decrease the harm of associated with all of these drugs.
And so I do not hear you talking about that. So, that is frustrating to
KENNEDY: Well, Carl, if you -- yes, Carl, if you attended any of the
appropriations committee, which I sat where I questioned our whole drug
policy in terms of having for-profit prison industries like correction
corporation in America, funding the three strikes and you are out in all
these states in order to increase the number of people with mental illness
and addiction --
DR. HART: Patrick, the problem is still here.
KENNEDY: -- incarcerated in this country. I am on your side, Carl.
But, you know minorities are also targeted by these alcohol and drug
companies. There are seven times as many liquor stores in minority
neighborhoods than in white neighborhoods. There is no answer to this by
just decriminalizing and legalizing this.
HAYES: Can I ask this? Let me ask this question. I just want to --
because I do want to tease this up.
DR. HART: Sure.
HAYES: Just quickly on this, on the sort of opioid abuse, we have
seen this -- this seems to be a place where we actually are reducing use
without criminalization by reforming prescription patterns and that seems
like a win/win.
DR. HART: Well, I mean, the report that came out today by the CDC.
One of the things that was talked about was the measures that we are taking
in Florida. Some of those measures were really smart. They increased
their regulation in monitoring --
DR. HART: That is just smart medicine. But you keep the medicines
around for people who need them. You do not ban the medicines.
HAYES: And, that seems like -- well, that may be a path forward on a
whole range of drugs in our society. Former Congressman Patrick Kennedy
and Dr. Carl Hart. Thank you, gentlemen, both. I really appreciate it.
KENNEDY: Thank you, Chris.
HAYES: That is "All In" for this evening. "The Rachel Maddow Show"
starts right now. Good evening, Rachel.
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