updated 8/7/2014 9:34:12 AM ET 2014-08-07T13:34:12

ALL IN with CHRIS HAYES
August 6, 2014

Guest: Max Fisher, Jeremy Scahill, John Levitt, Reid Cherlin, Tara
Dowdell


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

EZRA KLEIN, GUEST HOST (voice-over): Tonight, we are ALL IN.

REPORTER: Does it bother you more to be accused of being an imperial
president, or to be accused of being a do-nothing president?

KLEIN: The presidential news conference.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I`m going to have to make
choices. That`s what I was elected to do.

KLEIN: We`ll have all the details.

OBAMA: I promise you, the American people don`t want me just standing
around, twiddling my thumbs.

KLEIN: Then, why did a U.S. spy agency spoil one media outlet scoop on a
terrorism watch list and give it to another? Jeremy Scahill will explain.

Plus, the frequency of voter fraud. Out of 1 billion votes cast, guess how
many cases turn out to be fraudulent?

And a Tea Party congressman turns the art of the acceptance speech on its
head.

REP. JUSTIN AMASH (R), MICHIGAN: I want to say to lobbyist, Pete Hoekstra,
you are a disgrace.

KLEIN: ALL IN starts right now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KLEIN: Good evening from Washington. I`m Ezra Klein, in for Chris Hayes
tonight.

President Obama just wrapped up a wide-ranging press conference at the
State Department. He answered questions about the use of experimental
drugs to treat the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, where Liberia has just
declared a state of emergency. The president seeking to calm anxieties
about the virus` spread.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Despite the fact that we have to take this very seriously, it is
important to remind ourselves, this is not an airborne disease. This is
one that can be controlled and contained very effectively, if we use the
right protocols.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KLEIN: Asked about accusations, he is an imperial president, Obama
asserted his right to use executive power in the face of congressional
inaction. Saying his administration is looking at what they can do to stop
corporations from exploiting loopholes to avoid paying taxes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: It`s not fair, it`s not right. The lost revenue to Treasury means
it`s got to be made up somewhere. And that typically is going to be a
bunch of hard-working Americans.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KLEIN: And the president offered a forceful defense of his ability to take
action on immigration reform.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: When you look at, for example, congressional inaction, and in
particular, the inaction on the part of House Republicans, when it comes to
immigration reform, what the American people expect is that despite the
differences between the parties, there should, at least be, the capacity to
move forward on things we agree on. And that`s not what we`re seeing right
now.

So, in the face of that kind of dysfunction, what I can do is, you know,
scour our authorities to try to make progress.

I promise you, the American people don`t want me just standing around,
twiddling my thumbs and waiting for Congress to get something done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KLEIN: Joining me now is NBC News White House correspondent, Kristen
Welker.

Kristen, thank you for being here tonight.

KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Thank you, Ezra.

KLEIN: I thought the press conference, particularly on the executive
authority question, was pretty interesting, because this doesn`t seem at
all like a fight the president is shying away from. He almost seems to
want to emphasize the fact that Congress is doing nothing and suing him for
doing something.

WELKER: I think you`re absolutely right. I think the administration
believes this is a political winner. If you look at the polls that just
came out today, President Obama seeing some of his lowest approval ratings
to date. But Congress` approval ratings are even lower. People are just
fed up with government in general and fed up with the inaction.

And particularly as it relates to immigration reform, this is something
that Democrats are encouraging him to do. I am told that he`s been given
some small ball options, and then there are also some larger options at his
disposal.

And I don`t think you`re going to see him shy away from some of those
larger options. They believe that this is not only what Democrats want,
what immigration advocates want, but if you look at what happened in 2012,
the president overwhelmingly won the Latino vote, so they think that in
2016, you are going to see that just be replicated, if the president does,
in fact, act alone on immigration reform. They think that this is not only
something they believe is right, that`s what they would say, but they also
think that politically, they`re on the right side of this argument,
particularly when you have everyone on both sides of the aisle
acknowledging that the immigration system is broken.

So, I think you`re right, he`s not shying is away from taking executive
action, Chris. And you heard him talk about that when it comes to
corporate inversions as well. He talked about the idea of fairness, the
fact that companies are, through these tax loopholes, basically taking
trillions of dollars away from the U.S. economy, from the Treasury
Department, and of course, that idea of fairness was politically strong for
him in 2012, when he ran for re-election. So, I think you`re hearing some
of those similar themes.

And then on the issue of impeachment, it`s almost like he`s daring
Republicans, and he has actually said that, go ahead, I dare you, you know,
to revive this impeachment argument, because, of course, Democrats have
been raising millions of dollars off of this idea, that the president might
be impeached. And Republican leaders don`t like talk of impeachment. They
don`t think it`s a viable argument. They don`t think it puts them in a
strong position.

So, I think you`re right. I think he feels emboldened to talk about taking
action on his own -- Ezra.

KLEIN: What have you heard, Kristen, about the legal arguments being made
within the administration? I mean, surely, when immigration reform
appeared to be struggling in the House, but not yet dead, there began to be
these calls for executive action, using the president`s authority. And at
the time, the White House largely dismissed them, saying they didn`t have
all that much authority. Now, it seems they might be pushing back on that.

What is sort of their argument about the justification?

WELKER: Well, what has been happening is a series of meetings at the
senior levels here of the administration, particularly with the DHS
secretary, the legal counsel, trying to determine exactly what the
president can do, what is within his legal purview.

So, I think you`re right, there`s been some concern about overstepping his
bounds on that. And I think that`s why this has been such a long, wide-
ranging review process.

And I`m told that he`s going to be presented with a number of different
options at the end of the summer. And then we`ll likely hear an
announcement, if not by the end of the summer, at the beginning of the
fall, once he weighs what he would like to do.

But immigration reform advocates are asking him to grant work permits to
some of those who are here illegally, and that could impact millions of
people, maybe up the to 5 million people. That number, 5 million, by the
way, coming from those immigration reform advocates. That is what they
would like to see. That`s the breadth of what they would like to see
happen.

But there are some lingering questions about whether or not that can
actually happen, how it would happen, a few of the possibilities that are
being batted around here, expanding the DACA program, to not only kids, but
to parents of those kids who have been allowed to stay here and study here.
And then also to take the emphasis off of deporting those who don`t have
criminal records. In other words, to give those who are here, who have
clean, criminal records work permits.

So, those are some of the ideas that are being discussed, that are being
debated, but there is a lot of concern about potentially overstepping the
law and I think that`s why you`re seeing this process take such a long time
-- Ezra.

KLEIN: NBC News White House correspondent, Kristen Welker, thank you very
much for being here tonight.

WELKER: Absolutely.

KLEIN: In his press conference tonight, President Obama laid out his
desired outcome for the negotiations between the Israelis and the
Palestinians that are now underway in Egypt.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: The U.S. goal right now would be to make sure that the cease-fire
holds, that Gaza can begin the process of rebuilding, and that some
measures are taken, so that the people of Gaza feel some sense of hope and
the people of Israel feel confident that they`re not going to have a repeat
of the kind of rocket launches that we`ve seen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KLEIN: The United States is now on the scene of those negotiations. Frank
Lowenstein, the U.S. official envoy to the Middle East, is headed to Cairo
today, where Egyptian mediators continue to shuttle back and forth between
the Israeli and Palestinian delegations. The latter including the
representatives, of course, of Hamas and of Islamic Jihad.

And as these indirect talks proceed, the 72-hour cease-fire held for a
second day today. With life in Israel getting back to normal after
emergency restrictions were lifted.

Inside Gaza, residents returned to their devastated neighborhoods to pick
up the pieces and assess the extensive damage. And in the pause in
fighting, the longest since the conflict began, aid to the people of Gaza,
especially food aid, is finally making its way in. The cease-fire is due
to expire Friday at 8:00 a.m. local time, and Israel said it would be
willing to extend it with no additional conditions.

But a senior Hamas official in Cairo tweeted, quote, "There is no agreement
on extending the truce." And that`s far from the only part of contention.
As the negotiators in Cairo work towards extending a longer term truce
between Israel and militants in Gaza, major sticking points remain on both
sides.

For Hamas, there can be no peace without an end to the blockade in Gaza,
which have kept residents in poverty and despair for the past seven years.
And the release of prisoners arrested in a June crackdown on the West Bank.

A senior commander of Hamas` armed wing told "Reuters", quote, "Unless the
conditions of the resistance are met, the negotiating team will withdraw
from Cairo, will withdraw, and it will be up to the resistance in the
field."

For Israel, a lasting truce would require Hamas to turn over its weapons,
ending the threat it poses to Israeli civilians.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Hamas must be prevented from
rearming, as part of Gaza`s general demilitarization. That is the sure way
to guarantee that this conflict will not repeat itself.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KLEIN: Joining me now is my colleague, Max Fisher, foreign editor for
Vox.com and content director.

Max, good to see you.

MAX FISHER, VOX.COM: Good to see you, Ezra.

KLEIN: So I think the question here is, we have a cease-fire. The cease-
fire might get extended, but it is not obviously at all whether there is
anyone, anywhere near close to agreement on the underlying conditions that
led to the fighting in the first place.

FISHER: Right. Well, so there`s two ways to think about a cease-fire.
There`s getting a cease-fire that` that`s good enough for right now, or
getting a cease-fire that will actually hold.

Israel and Hamas are very eager to negotiate a cease-fire that is good
enough for right now. They don`t have to take any major risks, they kind
of know what the terms are, they can stay in their comfort zones. You
know, Israel will release some prisoners, there`ll be a little bit of
relaxation at the border, at the blockade Israel has around Gaza. The
rockets will stop.

But the thing is that everybody knows that if they do that, we will be
right back here in three years. There`ll be another 3,000 Palestinians and
300 Israel kills, whatever the number is the next time. We`ve been here
before. And that`s why you have President Obama, of all people, the
American president, taking a very unusual role in this, actually pressuring
Israel implicitly, to take a really big step towards a really durable
cease-fire.

At his press conference today, he gingerly tiptoed around, but you know,
gingerly is a big deal for an American president with Israel, the idea that
the long-term solution for this is lifting the Israel blockade of Gaza.
And that is a remarkable thing for an American president to say. It also
happens to be right.

But, you know, this idea that we are not actually going to get anywhere
until there is some kind of economic self-sufficiency in Gaza, unemployment
rate can go below 40 percent, which is what it is now, that Gazans will
start to move away from extremist groups like Hamas and we`ll be able to do
something durable.

But that requires a lot of risks from both sides. That`s why they don`t
want to do it.

KLEIN: So, I think folks are familiar with Israel`s demand, right?
They`re familiar with the fact that Hamas is sending rockets over, but walk
through this blockade a little bit. Because this is the key issue on the
Palestinian side.

FISHER: Absolutely key.

Yes, oh, it`s the key issue overall. So, Israel put up the blockade seven
years ago, after Hamas took over the Gaza Strip and started launching
rockets into Israel. They said, look, we withdrew from Gaza in 2005, these
settlers, military occupation there, but Hamas has taken it over. Hamas is
an anti-Israel terrorist group, which is true. So we --

KLEIN: Took it over in elections we encouraged, right?

FISHER: Yes, it wasn`t a great idea. And they said, OK, no more trade in
or out of Gaza at all, whatsoever. Israel controls three of the four
borders, Egypt controls the fourth, and was more than happy to help out
Israel with the blockade around Gaza.

It`s driven up unemployment to, like I said, above 40 percent. There are a
vast number of young people in Gaza who are now unemployed. If you are an
unemployed 20-year-old male in Gaza, and you see that Israel is stifling
and destroying your economy, which they absolutely are, then you`re going
to be angry.

Now, obviously, it is Hamas` fault that they have decided to launch rockets
into Israel, but the point that Obama was tiptoeing around is that this now
seven-year blockade has created conditions that are just perfect for
permanent conflict between Israel and Gaza, and it`s not going to change
until the blockade comes down.

KLEIN: And permanent radicalization, right? I mean, it seems that one of
the problems here is people always talk about this conflict being a cycle,
but you have a cycle that creates radical fighters in Palestine --

FISHER: And really empowers them.

KLEIN: Really empowers them. And they seasoned rockets over, because they
are radicalized and not actually acting rationally.

FISHER: Right.

KLEIN: And then the politic indicated gets tightened and tightened.

So can Israel -- are the politics there for Israel to unilaterally end the
blockade?

FISHER: So, this is the tricky thing. First of all, you`ve got the
politics on the Israeli side. The other thing -- and you know, Obama made
this point, and it is not completely to take away the agency of
Palestinians who decide to fire rockets. And part of the challenge is that
people in Gaza and the leadership in Gaza has to take responsibility and
say, OK, we`re going to take a major risk for peace and stop launching
rockets.

Obama is trying to move things in that direction in Gaza, by trying to
empower the Palestinian authority, which Mahmoud Abbas is in charge of and
runs the West Bank a little bit more in Gaza and just edge out Hamas,
because they are a really bad actor.

In Israel, the question is a lot tougher. Because the more rockets come
in, the more you see the Israeli right empowered, and there are actually
social science studies proving that this happens. And these are parties
that are not really game to negotiate with Hamas, not game to lift the
blockade.

And it`s not that anybody wants perpetual conflict, nobody wants that, but
it`s always so much easier to just negotiate a deal that`s good enough for
right now and kind of let it, you know, kick the can down the road for a
couple of months. But then it goes on forever.

KLEIN: Max Fisher of Vox.com, thank you very much for being here.

FISHER: Thank you.

KLEIN: Have you ever heard the U.S. government for take the blame by doing
something wrong by saying, quote, "that was our bad"? I haven`t really
that often either. But they did. The story, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KLEIN: President Obama got elected to office by bringing people together.
So, why is Washington so divided? That is ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KLEIN: At 12:32 p.m. yesterday, "The Associated Press" published a big
scoop. The story was headlined, "U.S. terrorism database doubles in recent
years." But according to the "Huffington Post," the original three-
paragraph story has since been updated. The problem, the scoop wasn`t the
"A.P.`s". It was a story being worked on by the "Intercept`s" Jeremy
Scahill and Ryan Devereaux. "The Intercept" reached out to the National
Counterterrorism Center for comment, and in turn, the National
Counterterrorism Center, the government agency, gave the story to "The
A.P."

According to sources on a call between NCTC officials and "The Intercept",
the government agency admitted having fed the story to "The A.P.", but
didn`t think the reporter would publish before "The Intercept" did. "That
was our bad," the official said.


Now, the story the government is so interested in getting out before "The
Intercept" published was a bombshell report based on documents obtained by
a source in the intelligence committee, not Edward Snowden, it should be
said. These documents revealing there are a million people being monitored
as part of the U.S. government database of terror suspects and 680,000
people -- 680,000 -- on the government watch list of people suspected of
having links to terrorism.

Of the people on that list, more than 40 percent are described by the
government as having, quote, "no recognized terrorist group affiliation."
That is 280,000 people, more than the number of people suspected of ties to
al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah combined. The report notes, quote, "Since
taking office, Obama has boosted the number of people on the no-fly-list
more than tenfold to an all-time high of 47,000."

Now, part of this increase can be traced to late 2009, to the days and
weeks after the so-called underwear bomber tried and failed to blow up a
Detroit-bound international flight, in response to what was perceived as an
intelligence failure in that case. President Obama loosened the guidelines
to put people on the no-fly list.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Rather than a failure to collect or share intelligence, this was a
failure to connect and understand the intelligence that we already had.
Now, that`s why we took swift action in the immediate days following
Christmas, including reviewing and updating the terrorist watch list
system, and adding more individuals to the no-fly list.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KLEIN: That reviewing and updating had an impact.

Since 2010, more than 400,000 people have been added to the government`s
terror watch list.

Joining me now is Jeremy Scahill, investigative reporter for "The
Intercept," and one of the reporters behind that story.

Jeremy, it`s good to see you.

JEREMY SCAHILL, THE INTERCEPT: Nice to see you, Ezra.

KLEIN: What is the -- what is the rationale behind such a rapid rise in
the number of people on the list. And more to the point, what are the
conditions that put someone on there?

SCAHILL: Right. Well, first of all, I think there`s two things at play
here. On the one hand, I think that we live in an atmosphere where the
entire U.S. intelligence community and law enforcement community is
terrified of having another 9/11 and having their agency be responsible for
having missed a lead that could have led to stopping someone from carrying
out a terrorist attack.

I mean, the fact is that Omar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the so-called
"underwear bomber", was in the U.S. intelligence community`s -- he was on
their radar, but he wasn`t on the no-fly list. So, what I think happened
was there was in massive overreaction where Obama personally issued orders
that this is not going to happen again. And if we don`t expand these lists
radically, then I`m going to hold you all personally accountable for this.

So, I think that that caused a reaction where they started just pouring
names into the database, based on the most frivolous evidence.

You know, Ezra, the standard used to get on to the list that will
categorize you as a known or suspected terrorist can be as flimsy as an
uncorroborated posting you put on Facebook or on Twitter. So, they just
inundated the system, in part out of fear.


But I think there`s also something more insidious at play. What we`ve seen
in this country is that the FBI has a PhD in breaking up its own terror
plots. The "Newburgh Four" documentary that just came out was an excellent
example of that.

And so, what I think -- and the point I`m getting at is this: what I think
they`re using these bloated lists for is to try to force people primarily
in the Muslim Arab communities to be informants for the government. And
they use the fact that they are designated as known or suspected terrorists
to try to make them informants. So, it`s a combination of these two
things.

And on the one hand, the ACLU makes a very strong civil liberties argument,
that the reasonable suspicion standard, and not reasonable doubt, or not
probable cause, is used to put people on this list. It`s essentially like
a global stop-and-frisk program. There are civil liberties issues.

But the FBI people that we`ve talked to also are against the bloating of
this list, because they say that they`re just getting inundated with names
of people that really don`t have any known links to terrorism, and it`s
causing real terror investigations to be flooded with meaningless,
frivolous information that ultimately hinders the ability to root out
actual terrorists in our society.

KLEIN: One of the strike things about the situation as you laid it out
there, is that there are tremendous consequences for making a mistake in
the direction of having not done enough. But there is very little fear of
endless mistakes in the direction of having done too much. So, you have
this ramp-up from the shoe bomber, but you never have a kind of ramp back
down.

How often does the list get updated? Do people get called? What is the
process for getting someone who probably doesn`t even know they`re on the
list, off of it?

SCAHILL: Well, you know, in June, a federal judge ruled that a portion of
this system unconstitutional. And the portion of that system was the fact
that you, as an American citizen, not to mention, you know, a foreigner,
have no right to know whether or not you`re on this list, why you`ve been
put on the list.

And if you challenge a status that you think you may have -- in other
words, if you think you`ve been watch listed or if you`re on the no-fly
list, or the selectee list, which means you get stopped every time you try
to check in for your flight and pull aside for extra screening -- the
policy is that they won`t confirm or deny, and then it goes through a
process where the actual agencies that nominated you, whether it`s the CIA
or the NSA or the FBI, have the ultimate veto power to keep you on the list
or to adjust your status.

So, a judge has said that that is unconstitutional. You know, where this
really boils down to I think a very, very serious issue is the fact that
the evidence that`s used against people to put them on this list is
completely flimsy, and would not hold up in the court of law. In fact, one
of the documents we obtained said even if someone that we have on this list
is acquitted of a terrorism-related crime, that doesn`t necessarily mean we
should take them off the list, because we don`t have to meet the reasonable
doubt standard.

KLEIN: One of the striking things about your article is the number of
people who are on there without an affiliation with a known terrorist
group. And you have an amazing emoji in that graphic. But what does that
mean? Are those people suspected under reasonable rationales or are they
just completely random, they put up something on Facebook?

SCAHILL: Right. Well, it could -- in all likelihood, it`s both or it`s
either of those. What we know, based on the watch list and guidance we
published two weeks ago and then the documents that we just published this
week, is that there are some people, without a doubt, who are on that list
because of something that they put on Facebook or something they put on
Twitter, or because their phone number popped up in the phone of someone
that we think may be in touch with someone whose cousin may be a suspected
terrorist in Pakistan.

And then there probably are people on that where they have actual evidence,
and these are dangerous people.

So part of the point, beyond the civil liberties argument, is that if your
goal is to actually try to prevent acts of terrorism against the United
States, you`re doing a heck of a job making it more difficult to root out
actual potential terrorists by having so many people who have no connection
to terrorism in your lists.

KLEIN: Jeremy Scahill from "The Intercept" -- thank you very much for
being here tonight.

SCAHILL: Thank you.

KLEIN: Someone finally got to the bottom of the voter fraud scandal that
has been rocking this country. What they found is ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KLEIN: Victory speeches are typically a time when the ugliness and the
enmity of political campaigns are finally, at last, set aside. They are a
healing ritual when the victor takes the high road and extends a peace
offering after the grueling campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Senator McCain fought long
and hard in this campaign, and he has fought even longer and harder for the
country that he loves.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, (D) MASSACHUSETTS REPRESENTATIVE: I hope you will
join me in thanking Senator Brown for his service to the commonwealth.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: I spoke to Senator Buono a
while ago. No, no, she congratulated me. It was very gracious, very
gracious in her congratulations and I thank her for spirited campaign and
for her 20 years of public service to the state.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KLEIN: But, not Michigan Congressman Justin Amash, the libertarian thorn
in the side of republican leadership, who is probably best known for
explaining everyone of his votes. After an ugly primary campaign between
him and an establishment backed challenger, Brian Ellis, Amash won by a 14
point margin. It is a big win and declared his victory loud and clear. No
kind words for his opponent.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUSTIN AMASH, (R) MICHIGAN CONGRESSMAN: To Brian Ellis, you owe my family
and this community an apology, for your disgusting, despicable smear
campaign. You have the audacity to try to call me today, after running a
campaign that was called the nastiest in the country. I ran for office to
stop people like you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KLEIN: And, as for backers of Ellis, like lobbyist and former congressman,
Pete Hoekstra, Amash had this to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMASH: I am glad we can hand you one more loss before you fade into total
obscurity and irrelevance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KLEIN: Not exactly what you would call a peace offering.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KLEIN: Since 2011, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, 13 states
have passed more restrictive voter identification laws. Eleven of those
are slated to be in effect in 2014. Proponents of these laws, who are
almost exclusively republican, say voter I.D. Laws are necessary to
prevent voter fraud. And, they maintain that in-person voter fraud is a
serious problem that needs to be addressed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MONICA CROWLEY, PH.D., FOX NEWS ANALYST: Voter fraud is widespread and it
is very real.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER (1): We do have voter fraud here that needs to
be shut down.

JOHN FUND, AMERICAN POLITICAL JOURNALIST: To deny that voter fraud is not
going on is to frankly deny reality.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE SPEAKER (2): Down in Alabama, where they are allegedly
selling votes for $20, $40 and for crack cocaine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KLEIN: Democrats including Attorney General Eric Holder say that Voter
I.D. Laws disenfranchise poor and minority voters who are less likely to
have I.D. and many alleged that republicans are using Voter I.D. Laws for
political gain. A perception fueled by this comment from Pennsylvania
House GOP Leader Mike Turzai in 2012.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MIKE TURZAI, PENNSYLVANIA HOUSE GOP LEADER: Voter I.D., which is going to
allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KLEIN: That Pennsylvania Voter I.D. Law was ultimately struck down in the
courts. But the basic question at the heart of this debate is this, is the
cost of Voter I.D. Laws in terms of voter disenfranchisement have been
worth the benefit those laws provide in terms of preventing actual fraud?

Well, Professor Justin Levitt has been tracking instances of voter
impersonation at the polls, a sort of voter fraud these I.D. Laws actually
combat. And, here is what his comprehensive investigation found. Going
back to the year 2000, among more than 1 billion votes cast, Levitt could
find just 31 incidents of a voter pretending to be someone else at the
polls. 31, that is it.

Meanwhile, in just a handful of states, thousands of voters, thousands,
have actually, in real life, been turned away at the polls for lacking I.D.
Joining me now is Justin Levitt, law professor at Loyola Law School.
Justin, it is good to have you here.

JUSTIN LEVITT, LAW PROFESSOR AT LOYOLA LAW SCHOOL: Thanks very much, Ezra.

KLEIN: So, to what degree are these laws solving a fake problem by
creating a real one?

LEVITT: Yes, they seem to be targeting something that is vanishingly rare.
And, what they are doing in the process is not that meaningful to a lot of
Americans and very, very meaningful, indeed, to a significant number. That
is the most restrictive laws, the harshest I.D. Laws.

Say that you cannot vote a valid ballot unless you have the right,
particular type of document. And, the most people have things like a
driver`s license or a passport, many do not. And, those are many eligible
American citizens, who are not able to participate in American democracy.
I think that is wrong.

It would be one thing if the benefits of these laws were actually worth
that cost. But from everything that anyone sounded, I am joining a pretty
illustrious group here, the benefits just are not there.

KLEIN: And, I think this is really important. We have played clips saying
that voter fraud is real. And it is important to say that voter fraud is
real, and it happens in absentee ballots and there are different ways it
happens. It is just is not identity impersonation fraud, which is what
Voter I.D. Laws do. Can you talk a little bit about that? Because I feel
like this kind of rhetorical sleight of hand is really important to this
debate.

LEVITT: Yes and you are right. It is rhetorical sleight of hand is
exactly right. They are saying, we see you have a cold, which is real, so
we have to amputate your arm. The one is not related to the other. Voter
fraud, it is important to acknowledge does happen and to the extent that it
happens, it should be rooted out. And, I think there is a universal
agreement about that.

There is also pretty universal agreement that when it, it is fraud the
absentee system. It is voter coercion. It is as you heard in one of the
clips you played before. It is selling votes. It is old-fashioned ballot
box stuffing by insiders. And, the common link between all those fraud and
a lot of other instances is that not one of those things is stopped by
demanding that people show a particular type of document at the polls.

Those I.D. requirements at the polls are really designed to stop only one
thing, and that is somebody showing up and pretending to be somebody else,
which is a really stupid way of stealing an election, which is why it very
rarely happens.

KLEIN: So, there is one argument that courts have made, that the upside to
these Voter I.D. Laws, even if they do not do anything to, actually,
protect elections is they make people feel more confident about elections,
and that itself is good enough. What has your research found on that?

LEVITT: If that were true, that would at least be something. I do not
know that we want to let perceptions drive reality. I mean, for all the
people who might feel more confident, there are real people being shut out;
but, you know, earlier in your show, you were talking about some security
feeder in another context. And, here the real research on this security
feeder, even if it does not do anything, does it make me feel better, is
that it turns out it has very little measurable impact at all.

A very careful research done by Nate Persily and Stephen Ansolabehere
researchers publishing in the Harvard Law Review found -- they looked at
nationwide studies of people`s confidence in the integrity of elections.
And, they found it really does not matter whether you live in a state that
has a really harsh I.D. Law or whether that has a very permissive one,
there is no relationship between the laws and how you feel about fraud and
the elections. What really matters whether you think an election has
integrity, is whether your guy won or not.

KLEIN: Justin Levitt from Loyola Law School, thank you very much for being
here.

LEVITT: Thank you, Ezra.

KLEIN: Is President Obama responsible for making Washington even more
partisan than it already was? We will talk about that, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KLEIN: Did President Obama break Washington? We are going to talk about
that, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KLEIN: In an article in "Rolling Stone" this month, Reid Cherlin, who used
to work on the White House`s communication team, has this great piece about
the terrible and getting worse every day relationship between the Obama
Administration and the press corps. And, there is a part that I think sums
up perfectly the irony of Barack Obama`s presidency.

Cherlin writes, they have managed over six years to accomplish much of what
Obama promised to do, even if accomplishing it helped speed the process of
partisan breakdown. Helped speed the process of partisan breakdown. If
you go back to the 2008 democratic primary, the different candidates did
not disagree all that much about what to do. They disagreed about how to
get it done.

Hillary Clinton`s argument was that she best understood the partisan
warfare that defined American politics. She had fought these battles
before, and change would come through her mastery of the old way of doing
politics.

Obama`s argument was the opposite. The partisan warfare that had come to
define politics, he said, was the product of the people who knew no
politics other than partisan warfare. Change would come only through
creating a new politics. Recall the famous, "Yes, we can," speech on the
night Obama lost the New Hampshire democratic primary.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Our new American majority can end the outrage of unaffordable,
unavailable health care in our time. We can bring -- we can bring doctors
and patients, workers and businesses, democrats and republicans together,
and we can tell the drug and insurance industry that while they get a seat
at the table, they do not get to buy every chair. Not this time, not now

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KLEIN: The two sides of Obama`s promise are both right there. Obama would
do what so many past presidents had failed to do. He would pass health
reform, finally, and he would do it by ending the partisan divisions and
the power of the moneyed interests that had broken American politics.

About that, he was half right. Obama changed more than really anybody
could have expected. He passed health care reform, the largest stimulus
and investment package in American history, the Dodd/Frank financial
reforms. He brought the Iraq war to a close. He actually did find and
kill Osama Bin Laden, which was kind of a big deal. But, the president did
not do all of this by fixing American politics. He did all this by
breaking American politics even further.

In 2012, 86 percent of democrats approved of President Obama, but only 10
percent of republicans did. That is a 76 percent difference. That is a
huge difference. This is not really Obama`s fault. Partisanship is bigger
than any one president. When the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell,
says in 2010, as he did publicly, quote, "The single most important thing
we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president, it
was a safe bet that bipartisan legislative cooperation would not be
forthcoming."

Meanwhile, special interests have as much and perhaps more power in
Washington than ever. The health reform bill got done not by cutting out
pharmaceutical companies and insurance, but by cutting deals with them.
Dodd-frank sure is not beloved by banks, but it could have gone a lot
further. And, the Obama Administration has not really tried to push major
campaign finance reform or other ideas that would fundamentally change how
Washington works.

This ultimately speaks to one of the most important choices the Obama
administration made. They decided it was more important to change the laws
in people`s lives than to change the process that made the laws in
Washington. Obama has brought a lot of change to America, but he has done
it by accepting and in some cases, accelerating the breakdown -- the
partisan breakdown of American politics.

Judged against the high rhetoric of the campaign, his presidency has been
both an absolutely extraordinary success and a huge disappointment. We are
going to talk about what it means to straddle these two notions, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Homes have been lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered. Our health
care is too costly. Our schools fail too many, and each day it brings
further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and
threaten our planet. Today I say to you that the challenges we face are
real. They are serious, and they are many. They will not be met easily or
in a short span of time; but know this, America, they will be met!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KLEIN: That was Obama`s 2009 inaugural address. And, since then, he has
accomplished a lot of the domestic reforms laid out there, health care,
education reform. His climate initiative is moving forward through
executive action. But those changes came from accepting the reality of
modern politics, the partisan reality of it.

To talk about this, I am joined by Reid Cherlin, a contributor to "Rolling
Stone" and a former White House Assistant Press Secretary in the Obama
Administration and Democratic Strategist, Tara Dowdell.

Reid, first, thank you for being here. Reid, I admired your piece in
"Rolling Stone" a lot, I thought it was fascinating. And, I would like to
hear a little bit from you how on what the process inside the Obama
Administration, like how it felt inside the Obama Administration, sort of
in that first year an two, as it dawned that there would not be a lot of
republican cooperation forthcoming.

REID CHERLIN, "ROLLING STONE" CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you know, it became clear
pretty quickly, I think, because the administration started in on health
care pretty quickly. And, while it was a bipartisan sort of show at the
beginning, it became clear, you know, it did not take long for it to become
pretty plain that it was going to be a democratic effort.

And that, in fact, not even all democrats were going to be excited about
it. So, I do not think it took long for that to really dawn, but I think
your point is well taken, that with sort of the hope of the campaign and
that inaugural speech you were playing was that it was going to feel
different when these things happened, and it ended up not feeling that
different, even though things were getting done.

And, I think that is why when you talk to democrats, you hear people say
things like, "Oh, I am so disappointed in Obama." And, you ask them,
"Well, why? What is he not getting done that you wanted to get done? And
other than immigration, there are not great answers that they give you
other than just, "You know, he just turns out to be like the rest of them"
or that kind of answer. And, I think it has a lot to do with this what you
are suggesting with, the kind of further break down of the politics.

KLEIN: Tara, is there a way it could have felt different, as Reid puts it?
Is there a way that it could have not just passed laws, but also had this
sort of feeling of a different, more united Washington?

TARA DOWDELL, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Have to have believed that Washington
was running well prior to him having gotten there. So, I think that,
unfortunately, for this president -- and I worked in an administration
myself, in the governor`s office. Unfortunately for him, that republicans
seem to recognize that his strength, the reason why he was elected was that
he said, "We are not going to be a red America. We are not going to be a
blue America. We are going to be the United States of America." He talked
of uniting the country. He talked about reaching across the aisles.

So, how do you take away someone`s greatest strength, if that is their
greatest strength? You do it by not allowing that to happen. You do it by
being divisive and then pointing the finger and saying, "Look, he is being
divisive." And, that is kind of, you know, the politics of trickery. And,
it is something, unfortunately, that is practiced.

And, I think for the Obama Administration, when you look at even things
like infrastructure spending, since when do republicans not support
infrastructure spending? And, that has been a fight. So, I think he has
walked in to politics that was broken, and he made the strategic decision
to go about his agenda on his own.

And, unfortunately, I think he had no other choice. Now, I think where he
could have had some better results in terms of the public understanding
would have been with messaging.

KLEIN: You know, Reid, one of the things I do think is true is that sort
of the first two or three years, there was still a fair amount of hope in
the Obama Administration that uncertain things, big deals could be struck.
And at this point, it really feels like that is leached out. I want to
play for you a little bit of sound from Obama at the press conference today
on executive actions and how he is going to use them going forward.

CHERLIN: Right.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: What I am consistently going to do is, wherever I have the legal
authorities to make progress on behalf of middle class Americans and folks
working to get into the middle class, I am going to seize those
opportunities. And, that is what I think the American people expect me to
do. My preference in all these instances, is to work with congress,
because not only can congress do more, but it is going to be longer
lasting.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KLEIN: Apologies there. We had a huge audio fail. So, I was asking you,
Reid, he is going to go forward on these executive actions, despite knowing
that it is going to vastly inflame partisanship. Why?

CHERLIN: Well, you know, I think it is pretty clear that nothing is going
to get through congress, and we know that. But, I think what you were
asking before, if you go back to the beginning, he made the decision to
hire Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff. He had promised on the campaign
to both get a lot of things done and to change politics. Sort of maybe
knowing or not knowing that you cannot do both.

And, when he got in, he decided that he was going to get a lot done, and I
think there is a good argument to be made for doing that. But, then as you
noted today, in what you wrote, the more you get done, that republicans do
not like, they want to work with you even less.

So, at this point, it is a strange curve where the more he accomplishes,
the less he is going to be able accomplish in terms of having partners on
the hill. So, he is used to having to do things individually. And, I
think --

KLEIN: Reid, I am sorry, I have to cut it off there.

CHERLIN: Sure.

KLEIN: Reid Cherlin from "Rolling Stone" and Democratic Strategist, Tara
Dowdell, thank you, guys, both. Sorry for the audio problems. That is
"All In" for this evening. I am Ezra Klein. You can read more of my works
at vox.com or at facebook.com/ezraklein. "THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW" starts
now with Steve Kornacki sitting in for Rachel. Good evening, Steve.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY
BE UPDATED.
END

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