'Up with Steve Kornacki' for Sunday, September 14th, 2014
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UP with STEVE KORNACKI
September 14, 2014
Guest: Bruce Beck, Kevin Clark, Kim Gandy, Brian Wice, Chris Van Hollen,
Bruce Beck, Kevin Clark, Kim Gandy, Brian Wice, Chris Van Hollen, Wesley
Lowery, Gabriela Domenzain, Roger Cohen, Larry Pressler, Randi Weingarten,
Patti Solis Doyle
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC ANCHOR: A third beheading by ISIS.
And thanks for getting up with us this Sunday morning. It happened, again.
ISIS has released a propaganda video showing the beheading of a British aid
worker named David Haines. Haines is the third Western hostage to be
executed in recent weeks by ISIS. The other two are American journalists
James Foley and Steven Sotloff. Haines was captured last year while
working with the French aid organization in Northern Syria. British Prime
Minister David Cameron is holding an emergency meeting today with his
military and security officials in response to the beheading and he
addressed the execution only minutes ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: People across this country would
have been sickened by the fact that it could have been a British citizen.
A British citizen who could have carried out this unspeakable act. It is
the very opposite of everything our country stands for. It falls to the
government and to each and every one of us to drain this poison from our
society and to take on this warped ideology that is radicalizing some of
our young people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: We`ve also heard from President Obama in the wake of the Haines
execution and for more on that and the U.S. response, we are going out to
NBC`s Kristen Welker who`s live at the White House.
KRISTEN WELKER, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Well, Steve, first, too, the official
response from the White House President Obama releasing this statement
overnight strongly condemning this third beheading and saying "We will work
with the United Kingdom and a broad coalition of nations from the region
and around the world to bring the perpetrators of this outrageous act to
justice and degrade and destroy this threat to the people of our countries,
the region and the world."
Steve, the question now becomes how will this third and latest beheading
impact the United States efforts to build that international coalition.
Prime Minister David Cameron holding an emergency meeting this morning to
talk about how to respond to this latest threat. And what`s interesting
here is could it galvanize the people within the U.K.to want to take a
stronger military response to deal with the threat of ISIS. As of last
week it wasn`t clear what the U.K. was willing to do to join the United
States and on the issue of airstrikes, particularly, you had one top
official saying the U.K. is not going to join in airstrikes. We should
note that the prime minister`s office knocked that down saying, wait a
minute, we`re not ruling anything out just yet. We know that military
action is very unpopular in the U.K., but could this galvanize the people
there and the anger within the U.K. to want to get onboard with something
stronger like airstrikes? That`s the question right now. And, of course,
we know that Secretary Kerry has been traveling throughout the Middle East
to try to build up a coalition there. He did get ten Arab countries to
sign on to communicate basically pledging military support, humanitarian
aid, but it is very unlikely that any of those Arab nations will actually
put boots on the ground.
And if you talk to military officials, Steve, they will tell you that is
what is really necessary to defeat ISIS. That airstrikes ultimately are a
part of the strategy, but if you really want to defeat ISIS, you need
troops on the ground. Of course, the U.S. says it`s not going to be
American troops. So, could this latest beheading add to the effort to try
to get Arab nations onboard with doing something stronger? And I`ll just
end on this note, Steve, I think that this latest beheading will be seen
differently by different countries. Again, in the U.K., certainly U.N.
anticipate that it would add to the anger and outrage there to want to try
to do something. But it`s going to be seen very differently in a country
like Turkey where 49 of their diplomats are currently being held hostage in
Iraq. It could actually dissuade Turkey from taking any type of action.
So, I think that the United States as it continues to build its
international coalition certainly as tragic and horrific as this third and
latest beheading is, it could be one of the arguments that the U.S. makes
to these countries about why strong, robust military action is needed.
KORNACKI: Again, and Kristen, just one question. I know that looking at
this video and you think of the Foley video, a few weeks ago, it does seem
similar in terms of the backdrop. And then who knows if there`s any
editing or anything - on the surface, at least to me, it seems a little
similar. I wonder is there any indication that anyone you`re talking to
there that in the last few weeks that with these videos coming out of
where, because we know there are other American hostages being held, there
are other Brits being held, there are other Europeans being held.
KORNACKI: Is there any indication that anyone has learned more about where
they`re being held. Any valuable intelligence being gathered that would
help get some of these other people out?
WELKER: Well, what we know is that they`re working to try to do that.
There is an urgency to try to do that, Steve. And because of the
sensitivity of trying to get them out, the administration, intelligence
officials are being incredibly tight-lipped. You will recall that there
was an effort to try to rescue James Foley, Steven Sotloff. Those other
hostages that you mentioned. That rescue effort failed. One of the
reasons why it failed is because this group ISIS, I`m told, moves its
hostages around with some frequency. To - for that specific reason. To
make it more difficult for the hostages to be found. So, I think, that is
one of the challenges. In terms of nailing down where they are right now,
administration officials being very tight-lipped. They will only say that,
of course, that is a key priority and also a key priority to bring to
justice these people who are behind these brutal beheadings. It is
believed the person who carried out these latest beheading is the same
person who carried out the beheading of James Foley and Steven Sotloff.
That is and we want to be very clear about this, Steve, of course, we are
just getting this video, that is just the first few hours that it`s being
analyzed, but the people who have viewed this video say that he sounds
almost identical to the person who was behind the beheadings in the other
two videos that we saw. So, I know that there is an urgency to try to find
these people, but it`s incredibly complicated and difficult process.
KORNACKI: All right. Kristen Welker live at the White House, thanks so
much for your reporting this morning. I appreciate that.
KORNACKI: And the family of David Haines had issued a plea to his captors
on Friday urging his hostage takers to contact them. The British and the
U.S. government do not allow ransoms to be paid in these situations with
the idea that doing so would only encourage more kidnappings. Earlier this
year, 15 other Europeans being held with Haines were released, they were
released for a ransom, according to one of those hostages. British Prime
Minister David Cameron ruled out paying a ransom for David Haines earlier
this month, and he said, "It`s a desperately difficult situation. We don`t
pay ransoms to terrorists when they kidnap our citizens." We`ll be talking
more about that later in the show.
Until then, though, let me shifting gears to what is a football Sunday
today. How this day of the week is commonly referred to. It`s NFL Sunday.
From Labor Day until the deep freeze sets in in late December. But this
football Sunday doesn`t feel like most football Sundays, and that`s because
of two players who are not in uniform this week and likely won`t be in
uniform for any time to come. Adrian Peterson, the Minnesota Vikings star
running back will not be playing against the Patriots today. He turned
himself into police and was released on bond after being indicted on one
charge of injuring a child. His own four-year-old son whom he is accused
of beating with a switch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHIL GRANT, MONTGOMERY CO (TX) D.A. OFFICE: Obviously, parents are
entitled to discipline their children as they see fit, except for when that
discipline exceeds what the community would say is reasonable. And so, a
grand jury having indicted this case looked at the injuries that were
inflicted upon this child and determined that that discipline was not
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: And of course, there is also Ray Rice, the now former Baltimore
Raven who was released by the team and suspended indefinitely by the NFL
from playing for any team after video surfaced of Rice punching the woman
who is now his wife inside the elevator of an Atlantic City hotel.
Yesterday, Rice made his first public appearance since the elevator video
surfaced, attending his old high school football game in New Rochelle, New
York. In a letter to Rice informing him of the suspension, NFL
Commissioner Roger Goodell says the surveillance video gave a "starkly
different sequence of events from what you and your representatives stated
when we met on June 16th." The Ravens General Manager Ozzie Newsome says
that Rice never lied to them about the events that took place in that
casino elevator. Working in Goodell`s favor this week is all of the good
will he`s engendered with team owners who are the ones who will ultimately
decide, if he stays or if he goes. By turning the league into even more of
an economic powerhouse since he assumed the job back in 2006. It includes
women fans, female fans who now make up 45 percent of the NFL`s fan base.
Nearly half of its fan base are now women. Today the group Ultraviolet, a
women`s advocacy organization plans to fly planes with trailing banners
over three NFL stadiums. The banners will be printed with the "# Goodell
must go." At Thursday`s game in Baltimore, other women still proudly wore
their Ray Rice jerseys for a variety of reasons.`
Football is a business, it`s a big business and Roger Goodell is the
primary ambassador for that business. The owners as of right now are still
in his corner. But Former FBI Director Robert Mueller is now at the
league`s request conducting an independent investigation and those results
will go a long way toward determining if the owners stay in Goodell`s
corner. Today is not just any given Sunday in the NFL? For important
reasons, the attention this weekend isn`t on the field, but off the field.
Joining me now is Bruce Beck, he`s the lead sports anchor for WNBC TV here
in New York and Kevin Clark, he`s national NFL columnist for "The Wall
Street Journal." I appreciate you both being here. So, let me start with
that issue. We kind of raised at the end there - Mueller, the former FBI
director has this investigation that he`s launching now an independent
investigation. So we say well, maybe that could change Goodell`s status.
But could it change sooner than that?
BRUCE BECK, WNBC-TV SPORTS ANCHOR: I think this week, first of all, has
been the most turbulent, tumultuous week in NFL history. And we`re talking
about here on a Sunday where there is 14 games. So, this is crazy. But in
terms of Mara and Rooney overseeing this whole investigation --
KORNACKI: This is the Giants owner and the Steelers.
BECK: Giants and the president of the Steelers, two of the fabled families
in the history of the league. They are close to the NFL and they really
would like to see the commissioner continue. So, I think the word
ambiguity will come out ten times today and that`s because it`s confusing
which way the league is going, what`s been said, what`s not been said. But
when you`ve got your two principal guys with major franchises overseeing
this investigation you wonder how much transparency there will be.
KEVIN CLARK, WALL STREET JOURNAL: The owners will explore every option
except for moving Goodell, unless there is a smoking gun. They need 24
owners to remove Goodell, I don`t think there are five owners who want to
do it right now. The Buffalo Bills sold for $1.4 billion this week.
Thursday night football ratings were at an all-time high. They look at
that more than maybe the short-term embarrassment, that they think -
another one of these scandals like the Miami Dolphins bullying and the
Saints bounty .
KORNACKI: They think can ride this out?
CLARK: Yeah, they think at the end of the news cycle people will move on.
KORNACKI: And so, what is, I wonder, do you either have a sense sort of -
we talk about the league and it almost reminds me that some of the
reporting coming out of the league. The Catholic Church, this hierarchy
that is very difficult from people to understand from outside and I just
wonder, like for instance, there is this issue with the video that came out
this week, right? So, somebody from the police and not in an official
capacity apparently sent the video to A.P. reporting at least, sent the
video to somebody in the NFL, to an executive in the NFL. We don`t know
exactly what level that is or anything. It raises the question, OK,
somebody in the NFL apparently got it and did that person then give it to
Roger Goodell? Roger Goodel says, absolutely not, never saw it, first I
ever heard of it was this past week. I wonder, knowing the NFL a little
bit, Kevin, is that plausible? Sort of the way the organization works and
how big it is, is it plausible to you that somebody like Goodell wouldn`t
see something like that if it came in to somebody?
CLARK: 345 Park Avenue where the NFL is very compartmentalized place. I
think that it`s disciplined people and the security people don`t have much
interaction with Roger Goodell on a daily basis. I think it is plausible
that maybe somebody saw it and never gave it to Goodell. I don`t believe
Goodell saw the video. I don`t think he would have put himself in this
mess just because, you know, he has $9 billion of revenue he`s sitting on.
And I don`t think he would throw it away for Ray Rice. But it`s looking
worse and worse as time goes on. And at this point, I think the public
believes he saw the video and he needs to do something really quick to sort
of sort out why he didn`t see the video. And who did see the video.
KORNACKI: And when you say, the security folks in the NFL, too. This is
something I`m sort of discovering this week. There`s a lot of former law
enforcement people who have NFL jobs now, who have security jobs in the
BECK: There`s no question that the league wants to police this properly,
but they admit to stumbling and bumbling this matter right from the
beginning and Goodell even in a letter written to his owners said we didn`t
get it right, we`re going to get it right the next time. We are now
employing a six-game suspension for the first time. There`s a domestic
violence issue. So, they`re trying to do it within. But as you said,
where is this tape? Who got this tape? When did they get the tape? That`s
the big question. And I really don`t think Goodell ever saw this tape.
But if he did, that would be the one situation where you would see the
owners having to say, you know, Roger must go.
KORNACKI: And when you`re talking about this, Goodell coming out this
summer, because he took a lot of heat even before the tape - he took a lot
of heat for only giving the two-game suspension to Ray Rice initially and
then changing it. What was the reason that it was only two games in the
BECK: There has been policy in the past for different disciplinary reasons
like they try to have some continuity here, but they`ve never employed the
six games suspension. He realizes that with the public backlash, but you
need to start with six games and then go from there and then there could be
a suspension indefinitely, which could be appealed, just like this Ray Rice
situation. But there have been so many situations in the past with the
league, with players getting in trouble that there was nothing that was
firmly established. Goodell at least went forward here to say six games is
where we`re starting in the future.
CLARK: I think the greater outrage among people who look into it is the
fact that nothing has been done to a lot of these domestic violence cases.
There`ve been situations where guys have hit their girlfriend and not have
then played that Sunday and then never been suspended. Maybe they were
fined, maybe the charges were dropped and sort of got out of the legal
system and Goodell never did anything. So, I think that people are going
to look at this going forward and they are going to say it needs to be six
games or life and that is appropriate. But if you look back, it`s a very
ugly situation with how the NFL has handled domestic violence.
BECK: And it`s really the public weighing in here because once this tape
became public then we saw the outcry. We`ve seen this with so many other
matters before us. Even the Mike Rice situation when that tape comes out
and it`s explosive, people react. And the NFL, a league of integrity, and
a league of public perception lives very strongly on what their fans are
saying. And the outcry not only from women`s groups but from everyone was
KORNACKI: Right, now, it is amazing the difference a tape can make because
you start reading about some of these other incidents that have not
produced this kind of outcry that just sort of happened and the guy is
still playing for the team and nobody even knows it seems like - in the fan
base anyway. We have got to squeeze a little break here. We`ll come back
in a minute, I want to talk about this is the first Sunday since this video
came out. And also, Mr. Adrian Peterson - I want to ask couple of things
about that. We`ll do it when we come back.
KORNACKI: All right, back talking about the first NFL Sunday since the Ray
Rice video came out and, of course, we have the news about Adrian Peterson
that broke on Friday night, as well. So, we are talking about the idea
here of Roger Goodell trying to sort of and you are saying, ride this out,
survive the news cycle and we`ll see what this investigation brings us,
independent investigation. We also had in the intro here in the last
segment, we talked about - it can be a group that is flying a banner over
NFL stadiums today saying Goodell must go. I wonder what are you
expecting. Do you have any sense - in terms of protest in terms of any
kind of boycott by fans, any kind of boycott by groups? I guess if there
is any kind of, you know, visible protest or attempt to get sponsors to
back away from the league that could change the calculus too. Are you
expecting anything on a wide scale there?
CLARK: On a wide scale it will take sponsors bailing, attendance dropping,
TV ratings going in the tank to have any tangible impact on Goodell`s
safety. His job safety. 17 million people watching - NFL games, sponsors
are not going to bail on that because of this. Even if the heat got really
intense from women`s groups, I think that they sort of kind of cynically
see the numbers and say, we can`t abandon the NFL. If a beer company wants
to abandon the NFL, where there`s ten other beer companies who were right
behind them that will jump in and they`ll probably never get back in if
they leave now. So, I think NFL, they have the leverage and they`re not
going to let anyone leave and if they do, they`re going to make them pay.
KORNACKI: And is the only thing, in this investigation, Bruce, so Mueller,
the former FBI guy, has the investigation, if he doesn`t find that Goodell
saw the tape earlier, if Goodell`s story on that holds up, do you think
Goodell survives then? Is that what it takes to get him out?
BECK: First of all, I do think he survives. I think that the owners want
him to survive. He`s overseeing, as Kevin mentioned, you know, $9 billion
in revenue. He started as an intern in the NFL office. He`s their guy and
I really think that they do want him to stay, but they have to look at the
whole facts that came through on this whole Ray Rice matter to make sure
that everything was done according to script. Everything was done properly
and Mueller has brought in a guy with vast experience handling this a
former FBI guy. I think that is just what the public wanted, if not for a
woman investigating this. That might have been a better move on the
KORNACKI: Yeah, so I wonder, too, you cover this professionally. I think
a lot of people who are fans, even casual fans, maybe, you know, just know
the NFL not even as fans, they just know that this sort of big cultural
force I think might be looking at the NFL a little differently this week,
than they were a week or two ago because of the video and because of
Peterson, but also because as they say it, all these other stories that
have come to light about other players that didn`t get the attention of Ray
Rice. I wonder you looking at this professionally as something you cover,
do you look at this and say, wow, I`m surprised by this or are we now
seeing what you`ve seen for a long time?
BECK: No, I think the NFL is the microcosm of society. And today we have
got 14 games. Every weekend we have got 1,800 players who are dressed.
You`re going to have situations that come up that reflect society. And no,
I`m never surprised any more about what happens, it`s just a cycle that
comes through and you deal with it. Today I`m covering the Giants football
game, it`s an important game in addition to everything else that is going
on. You still have to cover the game. And the fans want to get back to
fantasy football. They want to watch their hometown team. They want to
root. And in many ways this football Sunday gives them a break from the
entire news cycle from the week with all the negativity about the NFL.
Remember, fans are what drives this league and they`re going to be rooting
for 28 different teams today.
KORNACKI: Right. In a way, that`s always been sort of the appeal of the
NFL, right? You have the week of work and all the responsibilities in your
life and then you get the games on Sunday to take you away from all that.
Anyway, my thanks to Bruce Beck, WNBC TV here in New York, Kevin Clark of
"The Wall Street Journal." I really appreciate that.
And coming up, the woman Roger Goodell called for help on how to change the
NFL`s domestic violence policy. She talked to him and she joins us, next.
KORNACKI: Lost in the controversy over why the NFL`s policy on domestic
violence has changed is the basic fact that it has changed. On August
28TH, the NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced players would be subject
to a six-game suspension for their first offense without pay. The lifetime
ban for a second offense. When he informed team owners of the changes,
Goodell admitted that he "didn`t get it right" when he initially suspended
Baltimore Raven`s running back Ray Rice for only two games earlier this
summer. Quoting further, "I take responsibility both for the decision and
for ensuring that our actions in the future properly reflect our values. I
didn`t get it right. Simply put, we have to do better and we will." Tony
Porter who runs the advocacy group "A Call to Men" told ESPN "When I saw
that policy, I was astounded. I didn`t expect the response to be that big.
Having done this work for 20 years, the needle moved." It all appears to
have started with a phone call. Commissioner Goodell picked up the phone
earlier this summer and placed a call to Kim Gandy, president of the
National Network to End Domestic Violence. And they spoke for an hour.
And, actually, excuse me, and joining us now to tell us about that call,
what led to it and what she makes what`s happening now is Kim Gandy. She`s
the president and CEO of the National Network to End Domestic Violence.
She joins us from Washington. Kim, thank you for taking a few minutes.
So, that phone call, you talked to Roger Goodell and we sort of - we sort
of live in this world now before the Ray Rice video emerged and there is
after. This is before the video emerged this week, but this was when you
initially handed down the two-game suspension. And that itself triggered a
fair amount of outrage. You had a phone conversation with him. Tell us
about that phone conversation. What was that like? What did you guys talk
KIM GANDY, NATL. NETWORK TO END DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: Well, let me say first
that I`m not the only person he called. He reached out to a number of
domestic violence experts and asked a lot of questions. He was really
trying to understand what the dynamics are of domestic violence and what it
means. He had a lot of questions. And that`s why the call was so long and
he asked me if I would come to New York and spend some time with his team
talking about the policies that they were working to put in place and other
domestic violence experts, including Tony Porter who were part of that
meeting where we went over the policies with them and gave them our
feedback and our thoughts about it, but they put the policies together, we
just gave them feedback on it.
KORNACKI: And where you - I mean where you surprised in that - I mean as
we say, the Ray Rice one, this incident with Ray Rice is the most high-
profile domestic violence case, I think, the NFL has ever had, but it is
hardly the only domestic violence case. And you look at the statistics
going back years now. This is not a problem that just started this year,
it`s not a problem that just started with Ray Rice, did you talk to him
about, hey, why is it that it`s not until the spring and summer of 2014
that you guys are even picking up the phone and asking me about this?
GANDY: Well, it wasn`t really - I didn`t have to ask, it was very clear
why they came calling and it`s because their female fans were exploding.
The conversation was everywhere. And it wasn`t just on Twitter and
Facebook. It was in cabs that I was riding in. Cab drivers talk to me
about it. It was, it was absolutely crazy. I had some friends in
Pittsburgh who were mailing their pink jerseys to the NFL. They actually
called me - I`m mailing in my pink jerseys. There was a huge, huge
reaction to this. So, it was really clear that they needed to do
something. Am I sorry they didn`t do something before now? Yes, of
course, but better late than never. And I do think this is a very serious
policy and if they enforce this policy going forward, it is going to make a
KORNACKI: So, I`m curious. And it sounds like you`re very satisfied with
the policy and it sounds like you believe that Roger Goodell, you know, it
if was belated, it was belated, but was sincere in terms of reaching out
and try to change - and trying to change the policy of the league. So,
when you measure your own experience with him and the policy changes that
were enacted, you know, after your consultation with him and others and you
look at what he`s saying right now and the controversy whether he should
continue to be NFL commissioner, do you have a position on that, should he
go as commissioner or are you OK with him staying?
GANDY: Well, I take a very practical approach to this. Right now we have
a commissioner who`s been held to account and people are watching him and
they`re saying, OK, what is he going to do? Is he going to make up for
these bad decisions that have been made in the past? New commissioner
comes in, we may not have any expectations of a new commissioner or the new
commissioner may not feel like there is anything to, if you will, make up
for. And I think that with Goodell at least you have someone who has got
something to prove. He, I`m sure feels the need to prove that he really
does care about this issue. And that he`s not just trying to gloss it
KORNACKI: That`s interesting because I think one of the arguments for, I
mean besides in situations like this it sort of seems inevitable that the
person at the top is always the call for that person to go, but it seems
like, you know, the people who advocate that I would say in part there is
some symbolic value of making a statement that a major organization like
that. You know, this is how serious we are. That if you screw something
like this up, you are going to go. But you are saying, it seems like you
are saying you see more value in terms of actually combatting domestic
violence in the NFL with potentially keeping him.
GANDY: I think that there`s potential there. Again, it depends on how
seriously the NFL takes this new policy. But everybody`s going to be
watching Roger Goodell. Every time there`s something comes up, the world
is going to be looking to see, are you going to do this right? Some new
commissioner comes in, may or may not get the same level of scrutiny on the
handling of domestic violence that he`ll get.
KORNACKI: And have you heard from him at all since your conversation
earlier this year?
GANDY: Talked to him last week.
KORNACKI: What did you guys talk about?
GANDY: We talked about Ray Rice, domestic violence, talked about their
policies and talked about their intentions and talked about what I always
talk about when I have this conversation is the importance of and the need
for the NFL to be part of changing the culture of this intersection of the
way our society sees masculinity and how tied up that is with violence and
with sports. And the ability of an entity like the NFL with all of the
influence and power they have to start changing that dynamic. To start
changing that culture. They could do so much. If they decided that they
were going to change the culture of entitlement that starts with high
school athletes in small towns and goes to the NCAA to the NFL in this
sense, that you can do whatever you want and you won`t have any
consequences for it, if they could start changing that, that would change
KORNACKI: All right. Kim Gandy, my thanks to you from the National
Network to End Domestic Violence. Appreciate you taking a few minutes this
morning. From the gridiron to the courtroom. Up next, we look - just
have the case against Adrian Peterson goes from here.
KORNACKI: What may go down as one of the worst weeks in the history of the
National Football League got even worse on Friday night when the Texas
grand jury indicted Adrian Peterson, the Minnesota Vikings star running
back, on a single charge of reckless or negligent injury to a child, a four
-year-old child, his son? His lawyer says the charge involves Peterson
using a switch to spank his son as a form of punishment. Peterson is
cooperating with the authorities. Beyond the question of how the NFL will
respond to the Peterson indictment is how the legal system will act since
he`s facing potential prison time, if convicted, Peterson`s career might be
the least of his worries right now.
Well, joining us now is defense attorney Brian Wice. In addition to being
one of our favorite legal voices, he`s a criminal defense attorney in
Houston where Peterson has been charged. Brian, thanks for joining us this
morning. So, the D.A.`s office is saying he could be facing, in convicted
here, he could be facing two years in prison. When you look at this as a
lawyer, what do you think of the case they have against him that they put
forward so far?
BRIAN WICE, DEFENSE ATTY TO TOM DELAY: It`s a pretty compelling case,
Steve. They`ve got photographs of the injuries, injuries substantial
enough that a week after the alleged discipline, there were still
substantial marks and bruising on this four-year-old`s body. This is a
penalty range as you said that could encompass anywhere from six months to
two years in a state jail facility, up to five years` probation and as a
condition of that probation up to 180 days in jail. And moreover, Adrian
Peterson and his superstar attorney, Rusty Hardin are walking into
unfriendly territory. Montgomery County, immediately north of where we are
here in Houston, one of the most conservative venues in Texas. Certainly
not the easiest place in the Western hemisphere to try any criminal case,
but particularly a criminal case with facts like these.
KORNACKI: Well, so, the statement here, this was from Rusty Hardin, from
Peterson`s attorney. And you can see what the defense is going to be here.
It sounds like, you know, he says that Adrian is a loving father, he used
his judgment as a parent to discipline his son. He used the same kind of
discipline with his child that he experienced as a child growing up in east
Texas. And that jumped out to me, especially with what you are just saying
there, but this part of Texas about - Texas being very conservative. And
it sounds almost like he`s trying to say to a potential jury, hey, there`s
something very sort of culturally Texan about what I did. This is what
parents do especially in east Texas, they discipline their kids.
WICE: You`re 1,000 percent right. It`s almost as if it`s the sins of the
father defense, Steve. My daddy whooped me with a switch. His daddy
whooped him with a switch. And what`s disturbing to me on some level, was
over the course of this weekend people whom I`ve talked to who`ve seen me
on NBC local here talking about this case who have almost laughingly said,
you know, if this mindset had been in existence when we were growing up or
my brother and my sister, my mom and dad and me - all would have been in
cuffs because they used to beat us with switches. It`s a tradition, make
no mistake like you said, a tradition that needs to be eased out. And
ultimately, whether or not Adrian Peterson got whooped as a kid is not
going to make any difference unless he and Rusty Hardin can convince these
12 Montgomery County jurors that what happened was reasonable under all of
the circumstances. Nobody wants law enforcement telling us how to raise
our kids. But at the end of the day, somebody has got to speak for these
kids when they can`t speak for themselves.
KORNACKI: Can you see, is there a prospect just knowing the legal system
so well, is there a prospect for any kind of a plea deal here, that
there`ll be no prison time? Could you see something like that happening?
WICE: I think that`s entirely likely. Given Adrian Peterson`s posture as
a first offender, given the fact that these facts don`t really meet the
extreme level that we`ve seen in other kinds of cases and with Rusty Hardin
at the helm. Even though to use the football metaphor they may be two
touchdown underdogs walking into court. I think it`s highly unlikely that
Adrian Peterson sees the inside of a jail cell after that now famous -
let`s charter a plane midnight booking in the Montgomery County Sheriff`s
Department the other day.
KORNACKI: All right. Thanks to defense attorney Brian Wice for joining us
this morning. We`ll keep an eye on this case obviously going forward.
And shifting gears, getting Congress to weigh in on the president`s plan
for ISIS. It`s next.
KORNACKI: The execution of British aid worker David Haines is just the
latest act by ISIS to provoke the Western world. Congress is rushing back
to Washington tomorrow to vote on a small slice of President Obama`s newly
announced campaign against ISIS. The plan to give more training and more
arms to moderate Syrian rebels. But is there more of the president`s plan
that lawmakers should be weighing in on and, if so, when? The president
has 60 days to carry out a military campaign without an act of ?ongress.
So, if applied to all the president`s airstrikes against ISIS, starting
with the more limited campaign that he announced last month long before the
speech he gave this past week, well, that campaign would have to come to an
end in early October unless Congress authorizes it between now and then.
And even if you don`t think that he needs authorization for what he
announced last month, what about the much more expansive and open-ended
strategy that he announced this week. Shouldn`t Congress vote on whether
this is something America should be committing itself to? That speech on
Wednesday night the president seem to say that he doesn`t need Congress to
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I have the
authority to address the threat from ISIL. But I believe we are strongest
as a nation when the president and Congress work together. So, I welcome
congressional support for this effort in order to show the world that
Americans are united in confronting this danger.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: Key to the White House`s argument here is the 2001 authorization
to fight al Qaeda, which was passed by Congress just after the 9/11
attacks. That`s the resolution under which the war in Afghanistan was
launched. But ISIS, of course, is not al Qaeda, in many ways they`re
enemies. So, how does that 2001 authorization apply to this? Should there
be a new vote in Congress and, if so, how would Congress vote? Joining me
now is Congressman Chris van Hollen, he is a Democrat from Maryland.
Congressman, thanks for joining us. So, let`s just start by .
CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D) MARYLAND: Good morning, Steve.
KORNACKI: With an answer to that question. So, I mean we were talking
about this vote this week - apparently, on arming and training the Syrian
rebels. But putting that aside, there`s much more expensive campaign
against ISIS that the president outlines this week. Should there be a
congressional vote on that?
VAN HOLLEN: Yes, I do think Congress should weigh in on that, Steve. The
vote this week would be an important one that we should probably go back to
that as well with respect to arming the rebels. But with respect to the
question of the president`s authority to engage U.S. forces against ISIS in
Iraq and in Syria, I think the Congress should act. Now, as you indicated,
the president has cited that 2001 authorization to use military force
against al Qaeda as the legal authority to go after ISIS because ISIS began
as al Qaeda in Iraq. And, so, that one on the books, the 2001, AUMF, is
very broad. In fact, the president in the past has indicated that it is
overly broad. Many of us in Congress like Adam Schiff and Barbara Lee and
Jim McGovern have been trying over the last couple of years to constrain
So, the real question is whether or not Congress will come back and
actually amend that AUMF to focus the authorities for the specific purpose
of going after ISIS and what limits. For example, no ground forces in
Syria, no ground forces in Iraq.
KORNACKI: Right. No, I understand that, congressman. But you`re saying
you think Congress should vote on this. But are you saying you also
believe that that 2001 resolution does give the president the authority to
act here without Congress?
VAN HOLLEN: I think the president`s lawyers are on pretty firm ground in
asserting that authority because of the origins of ISIS. I mean the DNA of
ISIS is al Qaeda and the reality is you can`t just change your name to
escape the authority. But .
KORNACKI: Well, certainly, but I mean you`re talking about like a leader
of ISIS here who, of course, began with al Qaeda, but now has declared a
caliphate, has left the group in some instances they have been outright
enemies on the battlefield here. So, when they are sort of - groups, and
they are basically now in opposition to each other, it does seem strange,
doesn`t it, that an authorization in 2001 that basically says al Qaeda and
associates. This isn`t an associated force.
VAN HOLLEN: Again, the DNA of this organization began as al Qaeda, you
can`t just change your name necessarily to escape that authority. Anyway,
the point is so long as the president, Steve, is operating under that
authority, what I`m saying is Congress does need to act. And as part of
that action, you need to amend the 2000 AUMF. Because if Congress acts
over here with respect to ISIS, but the AUMF is still on the books and that
is the basis of the president`s claim to authority and then he can keep
acting under that. Now, he says he doesn`t want to put U.S. ground forces
into Syria. He says he doesn`t want to use U.S. ground forces
operationally in Iraq, but I believe we should amend that AUMF in a way
that make sure that does not happen.
KORNACKI: Do you think that is going to happen any time soon?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, I hope Congress will take action on it. From my
perspective, the sooner the better. I think as you indicated the first
step is that Congress is going to consider this other request to arm and
train the Syrian rebels. There are some issues that were raised yesterday
that could undermine that effort. There were reports coming out of the
region that, in fact, one of the largest factions of the so-called moderate
Syrian rebels had formed a nonaggression pact with ISIS. So, it would be
very difficult to arm the Syrian rebels with the purpose of going after
ISIS if they formed a nonaggression pact with ISIS. Now, this morning,
people said that that`s not the case, it was a temporary agreement, but it
just shows the murkiness of the situation right now.
KORNACKI: Yeah, but and again, getting to this issue two of the more
expansive campaign - I mean the issue that people raise here in terms of
Congress playing a role or not playing a role here is you guys are going to
be out campaigning. So, you guys are going to be on recess for a long time
this fall, out for the midterm campaign. You are going to be back this
week and pretty much out for the rest of the campaign. So, the question
is, if you guys do not do what you`re saying right now, whether it`s
revisiting this 2001 authorization or, whether it`s, you know, casting a
new vote on authorizing what the president talked about this week, weighing
in in some meaningful way now, you`re not coming back until after the
election and who knows where this campaign is then and if it`s too late for
Congress to have any meaningful role.
VAN HOLLEN: Well, Steve, I think we should be waiting in - a lot of us
have been trying to weigh in to amend that very expansive 2001 .
KORNACKI: I mean do you think it`s going to happen at all before the
VAN HOLLEN: Well, I hope it does. But I don`t know.
KORNACKI: I keep asking because I do not get the impression listening to
the leadership in Congress right now that it`s going to happen.
VAN HOLLEN: Well, it`s not clear to me. I mean right now we`re going to
be facing the question of this authority the president is asked to train
and equip. And whether or not in that conversation Congress decides to
move forward and address this larger question of the AUMF, which is I said
we`ve been - some of us trying to deal with for two years remains an open
question, but I hope we act and the sooner the better. But again, the
challenge, Steve, is Congress has to get on the same page with respect to
how we would amend that 2001 AUMF to make sure that we don`t allow for U.S.
ground forces, for example, to be engaged in Syria or even in Iraq in an
extensive way. And I`m not sure all of Congress is on the same page on
that and the reason I say that is that for the last two years, we tried to
get Congress to act to constrain and narrow those authorities that are on
the books. That the president is now claiming with respect to going after
KORNACKI: And so then in terms of the strategy that you outlined this
week. You`re outlining some concerns with it. I wonder, if you had to
vote on it, if you had to vote on what the president outlined this week,
what would you do?
VAN HOLLEN: Are you asking now about the situation with arming the rebels?
KORNACKI: Both, actually. You`re going to have a vote on arming the
rebels this week. How are you going to vote on that? Strategy to be
outlined this week.
VAN HOLLEN: OK, the overall strategy the president outlined, I think, is a
good one in the sense of rolling back the ISIS gains in Iraq by allowing
USAIR power to be used to support the Iraqi forces and the Peshmerga, the
Kurdish forces. The challenge there is to make sure we`re operating
support of the united Iraqi government, not on behalf of Shia militia.
With respect to Syria, we, obviously, have a bigger challenge. And the
idea of arming and training the rebels, if their priority was to go after
ISIS, would be an important part of the strategy. But, if, in fact, their
number one priority is to go after Assad and they`re not interested in
joining with us to go after ISIS, obviously, that piece of the strategy
would be in trouble. And so, I think there are some serious questions that
have been raised regarding the reports yesterday about this so-called not
aggression pact between a major element of the so-called moderate
opposition and ISIS. I mean you can`t be arming folks who are - to go
after ISIS if they`re in fact, in a nonaggression pact with ISIS. So, a
lot of questions have been raised even the last 24 hours with respect to
KORNACKI: All right, we`ll see. Again, it`s sort of a two-prong thing
here. The vote on Syria coming up this week, and then there`s the question
as we say, the question of whether Congress will weigh in any more
meaningful way on the broader strategy the president outlined this week.
VAN HOLLEN: And I hope it will. And the sooner the better.
KORNACKI: All right. Thanks to Congressman Chris Van Hollen, Democrat
from Maryland, appreciate your time this morning.
And still ahead, we are going to go to London for more on the death of a
British hostage at the hands of ISIS. Stay with us.
KORNACKI: All right, thanks for staying with us. As we`ve been reporting,
there`s been some more tragic news overnight. The extremist group ISIS has
released a new propaganda video showing the execution of a British aid
worker, David Haines. This is the third such execution video the terrorist
group has released in the past month since U.S. air strikes against them
began. American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff were also
We`ll have more on the U.S. and British responses from London in just a
couple of minutes, including the question of what happens going forward.
But first, we turn now to a contentious political issue here at home.
Among Hispanic activists, President Obama`s recent decision to delay acting
on immigration reform until after the election is being viewed as a
betrayal. Immigration activist Frank Sharry tweeted, "we`re bitterly
disappointed in the president and Democrats. We didn`t make the reform
promise, we just made the mistake of believing it." On Tuesday a group of
young activists held a sit-in in Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid`s
office. This frustration stems from a promise that Obama made back in June
when he said that he would have plans to implement an executive order on
immigration by the end of the summer, and that he then would act, quote,
"without any further delay." But then last week an about-face. Obama
saying he will now delay any action until some time after the November mid-
term elections. But the frustration of activists goes back further than
that. Earlier this year they rallied against what they said was the 2
millionth deportation on the president`s watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JANET MURGUIA, NATIONAL COUNCIL OF LA RAZA: For us, this president has
been the deporter in chief. Any day now, any day now, this administration
will reach the 2 million mark for deportations.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KORNACKI: It was those protests and that label, deporter in chief that
helped spur Obama to make that promise back in June. The promise he would
deputize Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to come up with a plan for
an executive order and then he would then make that executive order without
delay. Activists are saying that with an average of 1,000 deportations a
day, this will mean roughly 60,000 more people being deported between now
and the November election. 60,000 who perhaps wouldn`t be deported if
Obama acted now instead of waiting? This is giving rise to suggestions,
including from some activists, of a permanent rift between the president
and Latino voters, who backed him overwhelmingly in his two presidential
But is this perhaps short-sighted? MSNBC`s Jonathan Capehart`s day job is
a columnist for the Washington Post, he likened the situation this week to
Obama`s relationship with the LGBT community, which was very shaky early on
in his presidency because of his unfulfilled pledge to repeal the
military`s "don`t ask, don`t tell" policy. Then in December of 2010, in a
lame-duck congressional session, the president did push "don`t ask, don`t
tell" repeal through, and the relationship changed. And by 2012, he was on
the cover of "Newsweek" as quote, "the first gay president." The question
is, how lasting is the damage from the delay from immigration reform? Will
all be forgiven if President Obama acts after November? Here to discuss
this, I am joined by MSNBC contributor Jonathan Capehart of "The Washington
Post," Wesley Lowery also of "The Washington Post," former director of
Hispanic Press for Obama for America, Gabby Domenzain. Thank you all for
being here. Gabby, let me start with you. It`s been about a week now
since we had the news of the president going back on that pledge that he
made in June. With a little bit more perspective, a week`s perspective
now, do you look at that any differently than you did then?
GABRIELA DOMENZAIN, OBAMA 2012 HISPANIC PRESS DIRECTOR: I want to get one
thing out of the way, the people that will not be forgiven for this fact
that comprehensive immigration reform did not pass are Republicans and
conservatives. We`re talking about forgiveness in the long, in the macro
view. In fact, the polls show that 3 to 1 Latinos blame Republicans for
the lack of comprehensive immigration reform. The frustration around the
president`s delay I think still remains and will still be palpable because
this is such a personal issue. I mentioned these numbers on air before.
Right? We have 62 percent of the Latino voters who know somebody who`s
undocumented. 91 percent of them, it`s a family member or a close friend.
And 30 percent know somebody who has been deported. So, no, the
frustration will remain.
As a political communicator and somebody who had to talk to the Latino
community every single day, what frustrates me the most is the unforced
errors of how this announcement was made? Why go on a Sunday show to tell
a political reporter that you`re going to do this, and not on the two
networks, one, Telemundo, which you guys--
KORNACKI: The president went on "Meet the Press" last week talking about
DOMENZAIN: Exactly, why go on "Meet the Press" and tell them that this is
going to happen, when you know that you have 95 percent of the Hispanic
community waking up every single day, turning on Univision and Telemundo,
to see if they can sleep without fear of deportation. There are so many
The second, why make a promise at all? You are known as the president who
broke his promise because you promised a campaign promise that you would
pass comprehensive immigration reform in the first year, and then you make
another promise. We knew the political reality. We knew the Senate races
that were close didn`t have high voter population. So, it`s frustrating,
because we believe that his heart is in the right place. We believe that
his mind is in the right place, and that he`s going to do this, but there`s
all these unforced errors that show just how much Democrats have to improve
on engaging Latinos.
KORNACKI: Jonathan Capehart, I read your column this week and we quoted a
bit from it there. I thought it was a really interesting comparison,
because thinking back I can`t remember a lot of what you outlined there,
but take people through it and remind people of the story you were telling.
JONATHAN CAPEHART, WASHINGTON POST: So remember the LGBT community was
100, well, not 100 percent, but overwhelmingly supporting Barack Obama when
he was a candidate for U.S. president. He promised to do away with don`t
ask, don`t tell. He talked approvingly of same-sex relationships, even if
he didn`t go the all the way and saying he was in favor of marriage
equality. But once he was elected, not even 100 days into his presidency,
he started getting criticized by LGBT activists saying, where is our fierce
advocate? Where is the elimination of don`t ask, don`t tell? What are you
doing on the so-called Defense of Marriage Act? They really pushed the
president to do something, and when the president didn`t act fast enough, a
lot of the things Gabby just said about the frustration within the Latino
community with President Obama, it`s like a flashback moment for me,
because it was some of the same arguments used against President Obama by
the gay community. There were people who were calling on the president to
issue an executive order, to force the military to accept the lesbian and
gay troops in the ranks, and the president kept saying, no, no, no we need
a legislative fix, otherwise these changes won`t be permanent.
When the Pentagon announced it was going to undertake a year-long review of
the don`t ask, don`t tell policy to see how or whether it could be
eliminated, a lot of people said that the president had thrown the gay
community under the bus, that he was punting on the issue and not really
serious about it, and then fast forward, you have at the same time the
Justice Department issuing a court brief that was supporting the so-called
Defense of Marriage Act that enraged the gay community. Lots, as Gabby
said, unforced errors by the Obama administration on LGBT issues, and now
look where we are. Where don`t ask, don`t tell was legislatively
eliminated by Congress with the pressure from the president on the Defense
Department to get this done. He stopped defending the so-called Defense of
Marriage Act in court. The Supreme Court then invalidated the key
provisions of DOMA, thereby invalidating it, and now we have marriage
equality in 19 states and the District of Columbia, and all the other
states that have bans on marriage equality, they are all being challenged
in federal court, to the point that the Supreme Court this coming term or
maybe the next term will have to deal with the issue of marriage equality
and possibly overturn it. That "Newsweek" cover showing President Obama
with a rainbow halo over his head, calling him the first gay president, is
something no one would have predicted in 2009.
KORNACKI: Right, no, it`s true. That`s why I find your column so
interesting. It`s -- we sort of see Obama as sort of one of the most
progressive president ever on gay issues, and yet just a couple years ago
the discussion would have been very different. But Wesley, so a question
Gabby was raising earlier about why make the promise in the first place for
President Obama. I want to put polling up on the board here, from the NBC
News Wall Street Journal poll that may shine a little light on this. In
April, if asked the question of support for pathway to citizenship, 64 to
35 support. Today, I know it`s sort of unrelated, but you have the case of
the kids at the border, 53-45. So I think that is the argument the White
House would make, that`s what changed.
WESLEY LOWERY, WASHINGTON POST: Of course. And I think the idea, a great
point was made here about the unforced, the idea of an unforced error. I
remember an old high schoolteacher used to say to me, you never make
someone wait for bad news. This idea that Hispanic and Latino voters
understand the political dynamics here, but the idea when you come out and
promise them something from the Rose Garden and then go back on it, there
is a question of trust. And I think in any type of minority community,
whether it be the LGBT community, the Hispanic and Latino community, the
black community, you hear this often, especially towards Democrats, this
idea of don`t take us for granted, and a lot of, we need to make noise if
promises are broken to us to remind politicians on the left that we might
consider voting elsewhere. We might not show up. I think that`s part of
But I think even more so than the polling, this really was a very strategic
political decision by the Obama administration. When you look at where
Democrats need to hold seats in the Senate this year, these are all almost
completely in red states, with Democrats who are facing -- who themselves
are either moderates or arguably conservative themselves, who face
electorates where Hispanic voters don`t make up much of the electorate, and
they could all not show up and it wouldn`t really --
LOWERY: In Arkansas, North Carolina, where we can`t even really measure
how many Hispanic voters there are, because it`s such an insignificant
number of them.
KORNACKI: Gabby, I wonder, has your just experiencing the disappointment
you had this summer, the president says this, telegraphs this, then doesn`t
do it. So now the telegraphing, OK, it`s coming after the election. Do
you think it is coming after the election or do you have some doubt?
DOMENZAIN: I hope so. Everybody that I talk to tells me it`s going to
happen and he`s going to do it. I want to get back to the unaccompanied
minors issue. This is being framed as this is something that just happens,
and all of a sudden it became our political reality. That is not true. We
have seen those numbers increase, summer after summer. And had the White
House done what, for example, Governor O`Malley did or what other states
are doing, San Francisco, and said, wait a second. This is our
responsibility as a nation. These are refugees fleeing violence and we
have to welcome them. I think those numbers would be better. Instead,
they opted for deport them as quickly as possible and put them at the front
of the line. That was another offense to a community, not just the Latino
community. To the American people that understand that our country --
KORNACKI: As you say, it was one of the things that was going on for a
while and then suddenly became the big media story.
DOMENZAIN: And how did they leave?
LOWERY: Then we immediately forgot about it. It was urgent, and it was
the most important thing. Congress can`t leave without doing anything --
Congress did nothing, and we`re not even talking about it very much
anymore. The way our politics work, this thing is really important until
we get distracted by something else, and then we forget completely about
KORNACKI: Exactly. I love to keep talking about this, unfortunately, this
is one of those mornings we have so much going on, we have to cut it short.
I want to thank Jonathan Capehart of the "Washington Post" for getting up
and joining us this morning. And read his column if you haven`t. Wesley
Lowery and Gabby Domenzain, I`ll be talking to you both a little later in
But up next, we`ll go to London for more on the death of British hostage
David Haines, including the policy of not negotiating with terrorists.
We`ll talk about that, next.
KORNACKI: As we`ve been discussing this morning, last night the terrorist
group ISIS released a propaganda video of the beheading of a third Western
hostage. Before being executed, British aid worker David Haines was forced
to read a script blaming the British government for joining with the U.S.
to combat ISIS. It is a chilling scene, similar to the killings of two
American journalists that took place in the last month in the wake of U.S.
air strikes against the militant group. Video ends with the executioner
naming another British hostage as the group`s next victim. ISIS is
reportedly holding an additional British citizen and two American aid
workers. David Haines` family had issued a plea to his captors the day
before the video was released, urging the hostage takers to contact them.
Fifteen other Europeans who were being held with Haines were released this
spring in exchange for ransom that is according to one of those hostages.
The U.S. and Britain are among the only nations that have refused to make
concessions to terrorist groups that have kidnapped their citizens. Last
night, President Obama issued a statement saying, quote, "we will work with
the United Kingdom and a broad coalition of nations from the region and
around the world to bring the perpetrators of this outrageous act to
justice, and to degrade and destroy this threat to the people of our
countries, the region and the world."
Joining us to discuss these latest developments is Roger Cohen. He is a
columnist for the "New York Times." Roger, thanks for taking a few minutes
this morning. Let me ask you about this issue of ransoms, because this is
raised -- anybody reading about this this morning I think will encounter
this issue. Any story you read, and that is this idea that a number of
European hostages were apparently released according to one of these former
hostages, in exchange for ransom, while the United States and the United
Kingdom continue to refuse to pay ransoms. Obviously, it is a very, these
are wrenching decisions, and there is a lot involved here. But at a basic
level, do we have a sense, if the United States and Britain were to pay
ransoms, do you think they would actually, it would actually result in any
ROGER COHEN, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, the precedent of what happened with the
Spanish, French, Italian hostages, Steve, suggests that, yes, ISIS when it
asks for a ransom and it gets paid, it does release the hostages. But I
think the United States and Britain, however wrenching this is, however
agonizing it is, and, obviously, one`s heart goes out to these families.
Most recently the family of Haines. If this ransom money is paid, ISIS is
not going to go to the candy store and spend it there. This is going to be
spent on weaponry and further means to attack us. So my view is that awful
and difficult as it is, it is right to hold firm. If, however, money were
paid, the examples up to now suggest that, yes, hostages do get released.
KORNACKI: I mean, I guess the question it raises, would the standard be
different when one of these groups dealing with the United States or
dealing with Britain, dealing with the two super powers here, would the
standard be different then in an attempt to make some kind of an example?
COHEN: I don`t -- we don`t know. We`re dealing with a hypothetical. I
don`t think the standard would be different. What I do know is that it is
not a good thing for the allies to be disunited, for us to have two
policies. The fact that European allies are, it seems, paying ransoms and
the United States and the United Kingdom are not, that, obviously, suggests
to ISIS we can drive a wedge between the allies at the very moment when
allies are committing themselves to a campaign, military campaign against
ISIS in both Iraq and Syria.
KORNACKI: So, as we say, there are, there are other Westerners being held
right now by this group, and you have the first one of these videos came
out basically right after the president launched the initial round of air
strikes against ISIS. Last month, there seems to be a clear connection
here. And now we`re talking about a vastly stepped up campaign against
ISIS. The potential, I`m sure, for more hostages to be taken. Is this
something that as Americans and as Brits have to get used to? More of
these potentially, a lot more of these horrible incidents happening. We`re
talking about an open-ended commitment here maybe going for years now. Is
this something that will come with that?
COHEN: It`s possible. Indeed, it is likely that we will see more of this
as the campaign against ISIS goes forward. What is the alternative, Steve?
Are you going to let these barbaric people just dictate their will and
expand their influence? A lot of mistakes have been made. Mistakes were
made in Syria. The war was allowed to fester for too long. President
Obama said that Assad would go without a plan for that to happen. There
was a red line set. It wasn`t respected. There is no point almost in back
going over the past, but clearly mistakes were made. We can`t just leave
the road open to ISIS. And right now it seems to be winning the propaganda
I think that there has to be a strong response, not a reckless response.
Clearly ISIS trying to tempt us into overreach and to falling into another
operation like the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The president has been
very clear. We`re not going to do that. But there does have to be a
stepped up campaign. And if there could be some sort of propaganda victory
for the West in the near future, where it is clear to everyone that we have
hit back effectively, I think that would be important.
KORNACKI: And, quickly, Kristen Welker, reporter for NBC News, suggested
earlier in our show that perhaps this video would make it this goal right
now of building an international coalition. Secretary Kerry is very engaged
in this. That might make it easier for the United States to build that
coalition, to get more cooperation, whether it`s from Britain or other
countries, with a video like this coming out. Do you agree with that?
COHEN: That`s possible. You know, Steve, I`m a little skeptical on who is
really in this coalition and who is not. As we know, Saudi Arabia, for
example, has been or at least citizens of Saudi Arabia have been aiding the
jihadists at the same time as they say we need to take them on. There is a
lot of talking out of two sides of the mouth coming out of the Arab world.
So, I think clearly Britain, the United States, France, united European
allies - we`ll try our best to bring in Arab states, but we should not
invest too much in that possibility on what they will actually do.
KORNACKI: My thanks to New York Times` Roger Cohen, for joining us this
morning. Appreciate the time.
Is the new battleground state threatening to upend everything that we think
we know about the fight for control of the Senate? We`ll switch gears and
talk about that next.
KORNACKI: South Dakota and Kansas would seem to have a lot in common
politically. In addition to both being red states, South Dakota now has
the potential to join Kansas in reversing the conventional wisdom about who
will win control of the Senate this November. South Dakota Democratic
Senator Tim Johnson is retiring this year. Since South Dakota is a red
state, this is supposed to be an easy pick-up for Republicans. Their
candidate is Mike Rounds. He served two terms as governor, and in the
newest poll in the race, he does lead. You can see him there at 39
percent. But you can see it is a complicated race in South Dakota. Just
like it was a complicated race in Kansas before the Democrat dropped out
and gave independent Greg Orman a much better chance to unseat the
Republican incumbent, Senator Pat Roberts. South Dakota right now, though,
is still a three-way race. Rick Weiland is the Democrat, and Larry
Pressler, who is a former senator, who actually held this same seat between
1978 and 1996, well, he is now running as an independent in this race. If
you saw the movie "American Hustle" last year about an FBI sting operation
that caught a bunch of members of Congress accepting bribes, then you might
appreciate this. When he was the senator the first time around, Pressler
was famous for saying no when the undercover agents approached him.
With the opposition split up like that, you saw that poll there, Mike
Rounds the Republican now leads this race, as we said, by 11 points. Let`s
look closer at that poll because it also asks that if the independent
candidate, if Larry Pressler weren`t running in the race, who would his
supporters go for? The answer is that most of them would go for the
Democrat. You can see that there. It is 44 to 42 for Rounds over Weiland
the Democrat without Larry Pressler. That`s a two-way race. Suddenly it`s
a lot more interesting. And it could probably work the other way, too. If
Weiland got out, Pressler would be in a real race against Rounds. Either
way, a two-way race. This is a lot more competitive.
So it raises the question, could something happen in South Dakota like we
just saw happen in Kansas? One of the two non-Republican candidates
deciding to drop out, and suddenly turning what had been an easy Republican
pickup into a heated race that could ruin the GOP Senate takeover hopes.
Joining us now is Larry Pressler. He is a former Republican senator, now
running as an independent in South Dakota. He joins us this morning. I
guess we still call you senator 18 years later. Once a senator, always a
senator. So, Senator, thanks for joining us this morning.
Let me just start with I think this is the basic question for your
candidacy in this race. If you`re an independent, if you were to win this
race in November, you would have a decision to make. Would you caucus with
the Democrats, would you caucus with the Republicans? I know you used to be
a Republican senator. You also have endorsed President Obama twice for the
presidency, which party would it be?
FORMER SEN. LARRY PRESSLER, R-SOUTH DAKOTA: Well, I would caucus with
whichever party would give me fundamental roll call votes on certain
things, certain things for example that Congress should vote on this week.
Part of my reason for running is Congress has not been doing its duty, and
I think it will fail again this week, and it probably won`t produce any
resolution on the Middle East. But under Senate rules, one can caucus
either as an independent or a Republican or a Democrat. And I`ve been
advised to wait until I get there and see how I can help South Dakota the
KORNACKI: All right, so, you mentioned president`s ISIS strategy announced
this week, and you think -- and I tend to agree with you, I don`t think
Congress is voting on the strategy this week. OK, let`s say you got your
vote. You heard the president this week, there is an up or down vote and
you`re back in the Senate. How do you vote on what the president outlined
this week? Are you for it or against it?
PRESSLER: I would vote for the air strikes for the war powers part of it.
I would vote against the Syrian part of it. But Congress in formulating
foreign policy, Congress should also have a vote on the general strategy.
Now, Congress is always complaining that the president is doing this and
that and everybody is bashing Obama, and I criticize Obama a lot, but the
point is, now it`s Congress` turn, and Congress, I predict, will take a
pass. They might have some votes, but they`re not going to pass anything
before the election, just like they took a pass on the highway tax. Just
like they take passes all the time on budgetary things, and our deficit
goes up and up.
So that`s part of the reason I`m running is to try -- we now have two
independent senators, and if we get another one from Kansas and myself,
we`ll then have at least four independent senators, and this may be the
start of something big in American politics, because it could end the
poisonous disputes between Republicans and Democrats, and actually Congress
would get something done. But especially on the deficit.
This coming week I predict Congress will debate and posture, but they won`t
pass -- it`s critical that they pass a resolution on the War Powers Act on
the bombing part of it. It is also critical that they pass a resolution,
and I would be opposed to it, on arming the Syrian rebels because I don`t
want to put more arms into that region.
Everybody over there is fighting each other with U.S. arms. They have got
more recent U.S. arms than our troops have in some cases. It`s absurd. I
hope -- part of my reason for running is to try, once again, to get
Congress to do something. People say, why do you at your age running again
after you served three terms in the Senate? Because I decided to get off my
bottom and try to do something about it.
KORNACKI: When you endorsed President Obama, I think this was back in
2008, as I say you endorsed him twice, you were a Republican senator for 18
years before that. But when you said that in 2008, you said to the
Republican Party that it was quote, "drifting towards a dangerous path that
puts extreme party ideology above national interest." Does that assessment
still hold today six years later?
PRESSLER: Yes. My endorsement of President Obama doesn`t mean I agree
with him on everything. He is a personal friend of mine, but I`ve
criticized him on several occasions. But I felt that John McCain would get
us into too many wars, and I`m a Vietnam combat veteran, and I believe we
should not be involved in some of these civil wars as much as we are.
Now, there are some times that we have to -- I think some bombing to strike
back when there is a beheading and so forth is very necessary. But I don`t
want to see us get into that Syrian thing anymore. And as a Vietnam
veteran, I take sort of the view that we wasted our time in Vietnam and my
time, and I was against the Iraq invasion, and I would have been against
the Afghan thing at the level we did it. We need to have Special Forces
operations, we also need to strike back with high technology weapons, but
not boots on the ground. And that`s the part of my philosophy, and
Congress should pass a resolution and overall strategy to that effect.
I teach international relations. One of the things Congress is supposed to
be a co-equal in foreign policy. But Congress doesn`t vote on anything.
They don`t vote on the budget. They just pass continuing resolutions.
They just slough off everything. And now they have a chance to vote on
something and they should, and I predict that they`ll pass no resolution
before the election.
KORNACKI: I got to ask you just about this race because again, we framed
the national significance of this. Everybody has been penciling this in as
a Republican win, because generally it is a Republican state in South
Dakota. This being a Republican win, if it was, that is a gain for the
Republicans of a Senate seat, because a democrat currently holds it. But
when we look at that polling, as I say, if it becomes a two-way race,
suddenly this is a much more competitive race, and it looks to me from
afar, I`m curious, is it possible for you or for Weiland, the Democrat in
this race, to win a three-way race or do you really need a two-way race if
you`re going to beat Mike Rounds?
PRESSLER: I plan to win a three-way race. We`re on our trajectory in our
polls towards that, and I have a feeling that we will. But I will fight
very hard to do that. I can take my seniority back to the Senate and be a
very powerful senator for South Dakota. That`s just becoming known, and
taking my seniority back, I can do a lot for our rail crisis in South
Dakota, the grain shippers are stacking grain up. We have all sort of
Also I expect to be backed by a large number of the Native American
community, and that`s unusual for an independent or for anybody other than
a Democrat. So, there`s a dynamic there on a trajectory. I plan to win,
and I`m not necessarily downgrading anybody else in this race. My two
opponents are fine fellows, but they will go to Washington cloaked in
special interest money. I have very little money in this campaign. An
independent gets very little money. But what we have now, the Democratic
and Republican parties have become merely conduits of special interest
money, and we may make history with four independent senators on January
3rd, and that will provide a step to end some of the poisonous infighting
between Republicans and Democrats. This week, we`ll see Congress just
blame each other and not pass any resolution on foreign policy, and that
will be tragic because Congress is supposed to do that.
KORNACKI: We say, can`t keep an eye on Kansas. We weren`t looking at that
at the start of the cycle. I say keep an eye on South Dakota. Let`s see
what happens there in the next couple of months. Larry Pressler, former
senator running for his old seat, appreciate you taking a few minutes and
joining us this morning. We should point out we reached out to the Rounds
and Weiland campaigns as well, also invited them to appear in the show, and
we will welcome them in future weeks.
Coming up next, Hillary Clinton is acting like a presidential candidate in
Iowa this weekend. She finished third in the Iowa caucuses the last time
around. We`ll take a look at her new threat to her air of inevitability
KORNACKI: It`s a big day today in Iowa. For 37 years, Democratic
activists and presidential hopefuls have been gathering every fall at
Senator Tom Harkin`s annual steak fry in central Iowa to hear from the
party`s presidential hopefuls and other national figures. It`s a folksy
fair gathering, but it plays an outsized role in our national politics.
Iowa, of course, is a key battleground for control of the Senate this year,
and it also makes today Tom Harkin`s final steak fry after nearly four
decades, and he is going out with a bang. Not one, but two Clintons will
be headlining this afternoon`s gatherings. It`s Hillary`s first face-to-
face opportunity to rally the activists she struggled with when she came in
third in the Iowa caucuses back in 2008. In the new NBC News, Wall Street
Journal poll, Clinton`s approval rating, excuse me, her positive rating is
now down to 43 percent. 41 percent negative. That`s a net favorable
rating of only two points. That`s again, among all voters there. Compare
that with her husband. Bill Clinton, whose 56 percent positive rating and
21 percent negative rating leaves him with a 35 percent favorable, net
As she gradually inches towards a candidacy, Hillary`s numbers have stopped
defying gravity. That`s what happens when you basically reenter day-to-day
politics. You`re coming back down to earth.
To discuss where Hillary stands as she pretty much embarks on her second
presidential campaign here. I`m joined now by Patti Solis Doyle, who is a
long-time aide to the first lady and then Senator Hillary Clinton. She
also managed Clinton`s 2008 campaign. So Patti, thank you for taking a few
minutes this morning. I really appreciate it. Something that you said. I
think this was an interview last year really jumped out at me, and I think
of it right now because as we say, this is Hillary Clinton`s first trip
back to Iowa in a long time, and we can -- I think we can say unofficially
this is the start of the campaign here for 2016. You said this in an
interview last year. You said if Hillary Clinton were to run again, you
said I think she would learn from her mistakes. I just wonder, what was
her biggest mistake in 2008?
PATTI SOLIS DOYLE, FORMER CLINTON AIDE: Well, talking about Iowa. I have
to say I was, I participated in the Iowa caucuses last time around as a
staffer, but pretty up close and personal. And I have to tell you, Iowa
really takes their responsibility of electing their president very
seriously. You know, listening to speeches and watching their ads is just
not enough. They like to kick the tires, they like to ask questions, they
like to meet them. You know, several times, and really get a feel for the
candidate. And I think, having gone through the process, you can`t walk
away from it not having a hell of a lot of respect for Iowans, but also you
can`t walk away from it without being inspired by the process. And I think
that`s what Hillary walked away with. So, I think this time around, should
she run, and I know she hasn`t decided it -- I hope she does -- should she
run? She`s going to really embrace Iowa and the process.
KORNACKI: So, how do you look at in 2008 -- I can remember this and I
think this was a big part of me from afar, and I think this is a big part
of why she struggled in Iowa in 2008 and in general with Democratic voters,
there was a lot of -- the Iraq war vote still loomed as a major issue, and
I think she was just sort of -- she was the frontrunner, she came in as the
overwhelming frontrunner, and people sort of -- there is a tendency I think
in life to rally around the underdog and I think that might have helped
fuel Barack Obama a little bit too against Hillary Clinton. The position
she`s in right now, at least the Democratic Party, we can talk about the
general election after, but within the Democratic Party, the position she`s
in right now seems to me to be very different where there is no Obama out
there. There doesn`t seem to be anybody who`s generating much energy in
terms of 2016 besides Hillary Clinton. I wonder if you see that, as well.
What changed in the party in six years to make that happen?
DOYLE: Well, clearly, last time around, there was an error of
inevitability for Hillary Clinton, but never in the state of Iowa. She was
never ahead in the state of Iowa from the get-go. In 2008. And I think
that this time around, again should she run, that`s not going to be the
case here, because even now, the Ready for Hillary PAC is organizing.
Hillary herself has nothing to do with it because she doesn`t, but they`re
organizing in every county. So I think that`s kind of off the table at
this point. And there is no Barack Obama this time around. In fact, one
could argue that the idea of the first woman president is really that kind
of motivating factor for a lot of people this time around.
KORNACKI: And I wondered too, this interview you gave last year, something
also jumped out at me, you said you hadn`t actually seen Hillary Clinton
since 2008. Is that still true?
DOYLE: I have not seen her. But we are in touch. We communicate.
KORNACKI: And you do, it sounds like you do want her to run again.
DOYLE: I really, I think she is, first of all, I think she`d be great.
Second of all, I think she`s enormously qualified. And I think she, like I
said, the idea of having the first woman president of this country is just
something that appeals to me as a mother of a 16-year-old daughter.
KORNACKI: All right, Patti Solis Doyle, Hillary Clinton`s campaign manager
2008, really appreciate you taking a few minutes this morning.
Up next, a key Democratic constituency will be sitting right here at the
KORNACKI: So, you remember 2011, Scott Walker demanding that public
employees chip in more for their health care benefits and restricting their
rights to bargain collectively. The struggle was epic, but Walker ended up
getting his way. When Democrats tried to recall him from office, he beat
them, and he survived, and Chris Christie that year also in 2011
drastically rolled back pension benefits in New Jersey. Rick Snyder,
governor of Michigan, did something like that there. You heard this story
before, but what happens when it`s the Democrat who`s leading the charge to
reign in pensions and go after public employees? Meet Gina Raimondo.
You`ll probably be hearing her name a lot over the next few years if you
haven`t heard it already. Raimondo made a fortune as a venture capitalist.
She is a Democrat in a strong union state, the state of Rhode Island. And
when she became treasurer of Rhode Island back in 2010, she told residents
they were facing a crisis, a pension crisis. Because of that, she said,
the state could no longer afford the generous benefits that were promised
to public employees when times were good.
Needless to say, the public employee unions hated this. They railed
against the changes she implemented, they sued to try to stop them, and
they lost, and so then they vowed revenge. They vowed revenge this year
because Gina Raimondo is now running for governor of the state of Rhode
Island, and the union said they`re going to stop her. But the Democratic
primary was this past Tuesday. And Gina Raimondo won and she won it big.
We think of the Democratic Party and unions as being allies, especially
public employee unions. But Gina Raimondo went to war with public employee
unions in her state and she just won at the polls. Matt Miller wrote in
the "Washington Post" this week that quote, "Tuesday`s primary became a
test of whether a Democrat who challenged party orthodoxy could survive a
well-funded union backlash. That Raimondo won and will now almost
certainly defeat her Republican opponent in November marks a potentially
transformative moment for progressive thinking." Joining me now to talk
about the implications of what happened in Rhode Island and what`s
happening elsewhere is union president Randi Weingarten of the American
Federation of Teachers. She joins us here on set. Randi, thank you for
joining us this morning.
RANDI WEINGARTEN, AMERICAN FEDERATION OF TEACHERS PRESIDENT: It is my
pleasure to be with you, Steve.
KORNACKI: The Rhode Island result jumped out at me this week. It`s a
small state. I grew up near Rhode Island, I know it`s not always a
national barometer. I love the state, though. I thought it was
significant in this sense. We talk so much about the energy in the
Democratic Party moving increasingly to the left and increasingly in a
progressive direction. Bill de Blasio here in New York City, Elizabeth
Warren in Massachusetts. And then you have the story of Gina Raimondo, and
you have other stories like this elsewhere, where she basically went to war
with public employees in her state, and they tried to stop her and they
couldn`t. It seems like there is a mixed message about where the energy is
in the Democratic Party.
WEINGARTEN: I think the energy, so, I think there`s two things, there is a
lot of things that are interesting about all the primary results. But the
story about Gina is a mixed story. In fact, right now, she`s actually
trying to settle the lawsuit that workers brought, because, you know, this
is really what happened in Rhode Island. The workers contribute to their
pensions. They don`t get Social Security. Their pensions are the only
thing they get. And so, what happened was when she actually went out and
did this, it`s because the state hadn`t contributed for years. So, the
workers did their obligation. The state didn`t. And that`s been happening
around the rest of the nation because of austerity. The difference between
what Gina did and others in other states is that workers were at the table,
trying to help figure out the solution. But, now, as she`s running for
governor, she`s trying to settle that lawsuit, and she`s trying to actually
make some of those amends, and she got some labor support, and labor split
its votes in various different places.
KORNACKI: But I remember following this at the time, because she did an
interesting thing. She got elected in 2010, and she was sort of the point
person on this. In a lot of other states it`s the governor, but in Rhode
Island it`s the treasurer. But she went around the state of Rhode Island,
it`s 39 towns, but she went around the state of Rhode Island, and she sold
this thing, and the cries from unions voices back then, I remember hearing,
it was betrayal, this is war on the unions.
WEINGARTEN: And I think what happened is, you saw that throughout 2010,
because there was a sense of this huge hurt from what was happening with
the recession. And now what you`re seeing -- so, let`s before anybody
starts writing an obituary of the labor movement yet again, let`s look at
what`s actually happening in the 2014 elections. There are governor upon
governor, whether it was Rick Scott in Florida, whether it is Corbett --
Tom Corbett in Pennsylvania, Rick Snyder in Michigan, or even Scott Walker
in Wisconsin. They are all in either tight races or in races where Wolf in
Pennsylvania is now leading by double digits. And they all did the same
kind of -- they all worked from the same playbook. Cut education, cut
worker rights, suppress votes, cut women`s rights, all the while increasing
corporate tax benefits. And what is happening is four years later, voters
in these states are saying not so much and so --
KORNACKI: Do you see a difference between a Democrat like Gina Raimondo
and a Republican like Rick Snyder?
WEINGARTEN: Yes, I see a difference between Gina Raimondo and Rick Snyder,
even though I think Gina Raimondo was wrong that year in actually taking a
state where they didn`t have any Social Security benefits and cutting
pensions where the workers actually had contributed to those pensions. And
when she went around the state, she never actually told people that. But
what`s happening is that four years later, after people woke up to these
regressive policies, people are saying not so much. People are saying we
want to invest in children. People are saying we want to make sure that
workers have the right to bargain collectively, to help solve those
problems. So let`s wait to see what happens in November this year before
writing this obituary, because what is -- what the labor movement is trying
to do is trying to get a fair shake in the economy, at the very same time
as the middle class has been flattened, social immobility is up, meaning
social mobility is down, and income inequality is up. So what we`re doing
is fighting to make sure there`s a fair shake for kids, for families, for
KORNACKI: All right, Randi Weingarten, thank you for joining us this
morning. Yes, we will be following this through November. What should we
know for the week ahead? Our answers right after this.
KORNACKI: All right. I promised they`d be back. Gabby and Wesley back at
the table. Time to find out what we should know for the week ahead, and
Gabby, let`s start with you.
DOMENZAIN: Look, I think for me and for those of us that care about
immigration and the issue, we`re going to be seeing communities across the
country, including groups that I work with, embracing immigrants,
celebrating immigrant integration. It`s called welcoming week, and there`s
going to be over 1,000 events around the country. So for those of you that
appreciate the contribution that immigrants give to this country, look in
your local communities, because it`s completely different from what`s
happening in Washington.
LOWERY: Something we haven`t talked about for a little bit, but the
Benghazi select committee in Congress is back having their first hearing
this week on Wednesday. It`s something that`s been out of the news cycle
for a while, but we know it`s something that is red meat on both sides, so
we`ll see for the first time this committee that was put together that
Boehner signed off on, having witnesses come in, relitigating some of the
facts. I`m hearing from people on both sides that they hope it`s going to
be a pretty productive hearing. I`ll be covering that Wednesday.
Interesting to see how that plays in the news cycle again.
KORNACKI: A productive Benghazi hearing that would be new.
KORNACKI: Gabby Domenzain, Wesley Lowery, thanks for getting up, and thank
you for joining us. Coming up next is Melissa Harris-Perry. Have a great
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