Skip navigation

'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

  Most Popular
Most viewed

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL

Date: July 14, 2015

Guest: Matthew Bunn, James Traub, Phyllis Bennis, Michael Beschloss,

Austan Goolsbee, Penn Jillette

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  We`ve received a picture from one of you guys

showing what that statue looks like today.

What looks like that statue in full view still, but with all of Nathan

Bedford Forrest`s usual Confederate flags lowered.  We`re not sure why,

maybe today is laundry day -- I don`t know. 

We reached out to the owner of the land on which these statues sit, we have

not heard back yet about what happened to all the Confederate flags, we did

find a little supporting evidence on the Twitters that this really is

what`s going on.

We`d like to know the meaning of this if you find out or if the flags go

back up, please, Nashville, let us know.  It has been a great start, but

please, keep it up.

Send it to rachel.com, if you get campaign mailers that you think are news

stuff, pops in your local paper, on your local station newscast, if you

happen to see a presidential candidate doing something amazing, send it to

rachel.com, thank you very much and rock on. 

That does it for us tonight, now it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence

O`Donnell, good evening Lawrence.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST:  Rachel, I believe you just expanded the

staff of the Rachel Maddow show by millions and millions of people. 

(LAUGHTER)

MADDOW:  Oh, if there were millions and millions, is it? Yes, at least

dozens and dozens -- 

O`DONNELL:  Dozens and dozens, all right, it`s going to help --

MADDOW:  Thanks --

O`DONNELL:  Thanks, Rachel.  This morning, President Obama credited

President John Kennedy with the principle that has guided the Obama

administration`s approach to Iran.

He quoted JFK`s inaugural address saying, "let us never negotiate out of

fear but let us never fear to negotiate."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  A landmark deal setting off a global debate. 

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  A comprehensive, long-term

deal with Iran that will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE, UNITED STATES:  We are the first

administration to actually stop their program. 

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE:  This is an important step. 

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER, ISRAEL:  What a stunning, historic

mistake. 

KERRY:  This press, they`ve been making comments that are way over the top. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The next battle for Israel is the battle on Capitol

Hill.

OBAMA:  I welcome a robust debate in Congress --

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER, UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: 

If in fact it`s a fair a deal as I think it is at this moment, we`ll do

everything we can to stop it. 

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER, SENATE:  The Iranians appear

to have prevailed in this negotiation. 

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA:  This is the most dangerous,

irresponsible step. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Let`s be clear, the most dangerous thing would be an

Iran with a nuclear weapon.

DONALD TRUMP, CHAIRMAN & PRESIDENT, THE TRUMP ORGANIZATIONS & FOUNDER,

TRUMP ENTERTAINMENT RESORTS:  They`re great negotiators and you know

they`re going to cheat. 

KERRY:  What the critics of this plan never offered is a realistic

alternative. 

OBAMA:  But simply, no deal means a greater chance of more war in the

Middle East.

(CROSSTALK)

TRUMP:  I don`t understand the President. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  The Iranian people, there`s a new future with America,

new prospect and a new era. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Let`s give it a chance and see if it works.

OBAMA:  That`s the deal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  The Islamic Republic of Iran has agreed to a joint

comprehensive plan of action with the United States and five other

countries.

Which on page one says, "Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will

Iran ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons."

There are another 150 pages of detail in the plan with more to follow in

annexes of that plan in the future.  But that is the essence of the plan.

Under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear

weapons.  President Obama announced the deal at 7:00 a.m. today and will

have more to say about it in a 1:00 p.m. press conference tomorrow.

The President discussed the plan with the "New York Times" Tom Friedman

today. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  We have cut off every pathway for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. 

Across the board, what we`ve been able to do is to assure that Iran will

not get a nuclear weapon and that was always the premise, Tom, of us

building this strong international sanctions regime.

The notion that the world signed up for these sanctions in order to either

achieve regime change, to solve every problem in terms of Iranian behavior

or to say to them in perpetuity, they can never have peaceful nuclear

power.

That was never something that was in the cards.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  Iran has agreed to get rid of 98 percent of its stockpile of

enriched uranium currently enough for ten nuclear weapons.  It will be

reduced to an amount too small for a single weapon.

Iran has agreed to remove two-thirds of its centrifuges that produced

enriched uranium.  Currently, Iran has enough centrifuges to produce a

nuclear bomb in perhaps couple of months and Iran has agreed to not produce

weapons grade plutonium.

This morning, President Obama had a message for Washington and the world.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  Precisely because the stakes are so high, this is not the time for

politics or posturing.  Tough talk from Washington does not solve problems.

Hard-nose diplomacy, leadership that has united the world`s major powers

offers a more effective way to verify that Iran is not pursuing a nuclear

weapon.

History shows that America must lead not just with our might but with our

principles.  It shows we are stronger, not when we are alone, but when we

bring the world together.

Today`s announcement marks one more chapter in this pursuit of a safer and

then more helpful, more hopeful world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  Joining us now, Phyllis Bennis with the Institute for Policy

Studies in Washington, she is the author of the new book "Understanding

ISIS and the New Global War on Terror".

Also joining us, James Traub, a columnist for "Foreign Policy" magazine,

also with us, Harvard Professor Matthew Bunn who directed a secret study

for President Clinton on the security of the nuclear materials in Russia.

Professor Bunn, first to you, in your reading of this deal, what is your

ultimate assessment of it?

MATTHEW BUNN, PROFESSOR & NUCLEAR AND ENERGY POLICY ANALYST:  I do think

it`s an important breakthrough that will reduce the chance of the spread of

nuclear weapons around the world and in particular, in Iran.

It`s actually a bit better than I would have expected would have been

possible, given the hostility and the stiff neck of the Iranian regime.

You have provisions designed to cut off or at least hem in each pathway

Iran might take toward the bomb on the uranium enrichment at known facility

site there.

As you said, cutting back two-thirds of their centrifuges, 98 percent of

the enriched uranium stock that they have.  But then there is also a

plutonium path to the bomb.

There, they`re agreeing to modify their reactors so it won`t produce much

plutonium to ship out of the country all of the spent fuel that contains

that plutonium once it`s generated in the reactor.

And then also not to ever build a plant to reprocess, to chemically

separate out that plutonium from a spent fuel.  So, the plutonium path is

pretty well blocked.

And then to me, the most important part is covert sites.  That`s what Iran

has tried to do in the past, is go covert. 

And while the key to our confidence on that is our intelligence agencies,

this deal gives us a number of particular provisions, fairly wide ranging

inspections, the ability to monitor all of the claims of technology that

Iran needs to procure to fuel such and such covert site.

And cutting back that stockpile of enriched uranium will also help because

it will mean since that stockpile would give them a head start on enriching

bomb material that`s about two-thirds of the work already done.

Then a covert site would have -- without that material, would have to be

almost three times as big or take almost three times as long making it

easier to detect --

JAMES TRAUB, WRITER:  Right -- 

O`DONNELL:  Well -- 

BUNN:  So, overall, this deal gives us quite a lot on hemming in Iran`s

nuclear program. 

O`DONNELL:  Professor, we`re getting close to a -- you were getting close

to a very specific response and effect to a major Republican talking point

today about being able to see -- check things anywhere, anytime.

In fact, Donald Trump has mastered that talking point.  Let`s listen to his

version of it. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  Anytime, anywhere we should be able to go anytime, anywhere.  We

have to be able to go in and inspect.  And if you don`t have that, you have

nothing. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  Professor, we do have that on the known sites, but if -- what

the deal seems to be saying, if the -- if the United States and others want

to go inspect an area that has previously not been discussed, there is some

room for negotiation and delay on Iran`s part on those kinds of

inspections.

BUNN:  So, what Trump is saying is utter nonsense.

O`DONNELL:  Oh, I -- well --

BUNN:  The reality --

O`DONNELL:  Kind of knew that --  

BUNN:  The reality is that no state that has not been defeated in war has

ever accepted anytime, anywhere inspections.  We wouldn`t accept it,

neither will Iran.

What there is in this agreement, and what you have to understand is that it

takes months and years to construct and then operate the facility to

produce material for a bomb at a covert location.

So you have time to negotiate, to discuss, and the way International Atomic

Energy Agency inspections work, they get information from a wide range of

sources, from their own inspections, from intelligence agencies, from

satellite photographs, from other sources, they then decide where they want

to go inspect. 

They say to a country, we think there`s an issue, we want to go inspect at

such and such a place, here is why, and then they have the right to go and

inspect there. 

There is a provision, if the country objects and says, oh, that`s -- you

know, a very sensitive location, I`ve got military activities there that

have nothing to do with nuclear weapons that I don`t want you to come see. 

If the country can convince the IAEA without offering access, if there is

some other way to convince them that their concerns are unjustified, then

they can do that.

But if they are unable to convince the IAEA, then the IAEA still has a

right to go.  And there is a provision in the agreement for the whole

group, including Iran but also including the six countries they were

negotiating with to essentially vote on whether the inspector will be able

to go.

And that means Iran won`t be able to block because even with countries like

Russia or China voting with them, they wouldn`t have a majority in that

group.

O`DONNELL:  Phyllis Bennis, your reaction to the deal. 

PHYLLIS BENNIS, POLITICAL COMMENTATOR & JOURNALIST:  Well, I think that all

of the technical points that Professor Bunn was just talking about are very

important.

But I think the broadest and most important aspect is that this deal, this

agreement is a huge victory of diplomacy over war.

It gives us clear evidence that diplomacy works.  And that`s really

important in an era when we`re hearing constantly, there is no military

solution.

Whether it`s to ISIS or the crisis in Syria and Libya and Iraq, and yet the

only strategy we see being imposed tends to be a military strategy.

So, this is a very important example of why the point that is made is true. 

There is no military solution and there is, in fact, a negotiated

diplomatic solution.

So I think that point is by far the most important aspect.  Now, separate

from that, there`s a host of other issues, not least is looking ahead to

the future, this could be a moment of a beginning.

I don`t think we should be looking at this agreement as the end.  This is

just the beginning of what could be a whole new way of relating between the

U.S. and Iran.

O`DONNELL:  James Traub, Bibi Netanyahu of course attacked the deal as he`d

always said he would even before it was completed. 

And there`s an interesting irony in that, that Netanyahu attacking the deal

is exactly what the Iranian negotiators had to hear in order to ultimately

accept the deal.

If the Israeli Prime Minister was saying, hey, it sounds pretty good to me,

you never would have gotten an Iranian agreement on that.  

TRAUB:  Well, yes, and of course, the Congress has said the same thing. 

The Republican critics have also said Obama never could have gotten a deal

unless the Republicans scared the hell out of the Iranians, and so they had

no choice in the matter.

But Lawrence, I think that Netanyahu`s problem goes to a different issue,

which is that, for Netanyahu and for a lot of the critics, I don`t think

the issue really is a nuclear Iran.

I think the issue is, they see Iran as an incredibly reckless, rogue state,

which is performing terrible destruction and violence throughout the Middle

East.

And really, their objection to the deal is any deal at all that would

remove the sanctions from Iran is going to make Iran a worse actor, not a

better actor.

And so, I just want to pick up Phyllis` thought which is, is it -- is the

deal going to make possible a change in Iran towards what we would call a

more normalize status quo country?

I suspect the answer is in the short run, no.  In the short run, it`s

actually going to probably get worse and Obama is going to have trouble

defending the deal.

But it`s reasonably to hope -- I wouldn`t put it more strongly than that,

that in the long run, this can produce the kind of political changes inside

Iran that might make Iran a more normal actor in the region. 

O`DONNELL:  All right, we`re going to take a break here, come back with

more.  Professor Matthew Bunn, thank you very much for joining us with that

technical explanation, really appreciate it. 

BUNN:  Thank you.

O`DONNELL:  Coming up, Penn Jillette who actually knows Donald Trump will

join us tonight to try to explain the presidential candidacy of Donald

Trump, we`ll be right back. 

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL:  Senator Elizabeth Warren sent a mixed message today via Twitter

about whether she would support the Iran deal.  We will have more on Senate

reaction, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL:  Some senators and members of the house rushed to microphones

today to comment on the Iran deal while others hid, afraid to be caught on

record one way or another.

Here is New Jersey Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, currently the only

indicted member of the Senate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 

SEN. ROBERT MENENDEZ (D), NEW JERSEY:  We`re basically legitimizing Iran`s

nuclear program and saying there is a nuclear threshold state in Iran.

Secondly, we`re not ending Iran`s nuclear infrastructure, in some elements

of it, we`re preserving it.  And I have real concerns about some of our red

lines have been crossed. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  Menendez said nothing positive about the agreement, but if you

listen carefully, he also did not ever say that he will vote against it. 

He repeatedly said he would wait to see how the Obama administration

answers questions in Senate hearings. 

The two Senators who represent more Americans than anyone else in the

Senate were very clear where they stand on the deal. 

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA:  To me, here is the situation.  If we

don`t do this today and we walk away, what does the future hold?

Well, it means Iran will be more and more isolated, it means that they will

in fact build a nuclear weapon, at the end of the day, it means

confrontation and war.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  Senator Barbara Boxer also said, "if this agreement is what the

administration says it is, it is a major historic diplomatic breakthrough."

California senior Senator Dianne Feinstein said, "I stand behind the U.S.

negotiating team and will support this agreement in the Senate."

The only Democrat in the Senate running for president said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), VERMONT:  I applaud the President, Secretary Kerry

for their efforts in a very crazy and dangerous world to create an

agreement with Iran which prevents Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.

This is a huge breakthrough, obviously the devil is in the details, all of

us are going to study those details, but this is clearly a major step

forward. 

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  Speaking for himself and probably most Republicans in the

house, speaker John Boehner said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOEHNER:  And the deal that we have out there, in my view, from what I know

thus far, is unacceptable. 

It`s going to be -- it`s going to hand a dangerous regime billions of

dollars in sanctions relief while paving the way for a nuclear Iran.

And we`re going to do everything we can to get to the details and if, in

fact, it`s bad a deal as I think it is at this moment, we`ll do everything

we can to stop it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  According to a "Washington Post" whip count of the Senate,

there are 24 senators who are ready to vote "yes" or are leaning toward

voting in favor of the Iran deal.

Forty eight senators who are ready to vote "no" are leaning "no", and 28

senators whose positions are completely unknown, half of them are

Democrats.

Joining us now, Austan Goolsbee, former chair of the Council of Economic

Advisors for President Obama, he`s currently a professor of economics at

the University of Chicago.

And back with us, Phyllis Bennis and James Traub.  Austan, as we all know,

if this comes to a vote in Congress, where they try to vote to block it,

they would have to overcome a presidential veto and this would count that

the moment looks like the President is probably going to be safe in

preserving a veto here.

But I`d like to get your reaction here to what it means to be lifting these

economic sanctions on Iran and the timetable for doing that, which is not

immediate.

AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, ECONOMIST:  Yes, you know, there is kind of an interesting

wrinkle in the agreement about that.  That they`re going to lift the

sanctions.

I think most experts who look at sanctions recognize that sanctions are not

really effective at regime change. 

You can look at Cuba, you can look at North Korea, you can look at the

Soviet Union, you can look at Iran.

We`ve had sanctions for long periods of time without regime change, without

preventing them from developing nuclear weapons.

But the thing that the agreement does, is set up kind of some automatic

stabilizers, let`s call it that, if they take these actions, then the

sanctions will go away and if they are found in violations, then they

automatically come back.

I thought that`s a relatively creative way to get around the normal

problem, which is OK, we finally ramped up everybody to get rid of the

sanctions.

And then if they start breaking the rules, how do we ramp everybody back --

get everybody back on the same page to reimpose them? Here I think they

kind of do that automatic.

O`DONNELL:  I want to read two tweets from Elizabeth Warren that might

leave us a little bit confused. 

The first one she put out today said, "diplomacy is our best hope of ending

the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, far better than the alternative,

escalating tensions and war."

Now, that seemed pretty clear until a minute later, when she put out this

tweet saying, "I look forward to reviewing the details of this Iran

agreement to determine whether they are tough, verifiable and effective."

Phyllis Bennis, it seems that some people are taking their time, to put it

mildly, in coming around to a position on this. 

BENNIS:  Well, I think that this is very much a politically driven

hesitation.  This isn`t because she hasn`t yet read the 180 pages, I`m

guessing.

I think it`s because everybody in the Senate and in the house, everybody in

Washington is being very careful so that they don`t get accused of being

too soft on the agreement, too harsh on the agreement, too harsh towards

President Obama, not harsh enough towards Iran.

There`s a host of unanswered questions you don`t know.  But he is

mentioning, for example, Israel`s nuclear arsenal of somewhere between one

and four hundred high-density nuclear bombs and the Dimona plant, that`s

not in the agreement either.

And no one seems to think that they should talk about that.  This is one of

those things where we`re only going to look at certain aspects of what`s in

the agreement.

We`re not going to talk about everything in the agreement and we`re not

going to talk about some things that are not in the agreement.

But we`re going to talk a lot about some other things that are not in the

agreement.  So there is a whole politicization of how to read the

agreement. 

It`s like becoming a new skill in Washington.  I doubt that there are very

many members of the -- of the Senate who have sat down so far or have their

staff sit down and actually read that 100 pages, and say, here is what it

actually says.

This is what we might want to ask more questions about, this is what`s

quite clear and we can certainly support this.  This is all based on

statements that they drafted before the announcement was ever made in the

majority of cases.

And I think that`s quite problematic because people are not looking at the

reality of the -- of the actual agreement.  They`re looking at what they

hoped it would be or what they fear it might be. 

O`DONNELL:  James Traub, I was struck by some of the little escape patches

that people who sounded like opponents left in their statements.

John Boehner had a written statement today that was very strong and sounded

like absolute opposition, and then when he went out and did the verbal

version of it, he ad-libbed a little bit and started putting "if" in there.

If we find it to be, you know, a failure and a bad deal, then we will stop

it.  And there was a lot of that. 

Bob Menendez saying, you know, negative things about it all day, but always

leaving open, technically leaving open the possibility they might vote for

it.

Bob Corker, a chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee saying, you know,

a lot of skepticism, a lot of skepticism, but not shutting the door on it.

TRAUB:  Well, Lawrence, it`s an encouraging thought.  I think that

certainly among the Republicans, there`s such a reflexive feeling.  If

Obama says it`s good, it`s bad.

O`DONNELL:  Yes --

TRAUB:  And so -- but at the same time, the same time, this is a very big

deal.  And I imagine somebody like Boehner is thinking, what if public

opinion swings so strongly behind this? Is my caucus going to marginalize

itself by coming out against it?

And I -- you know, I think Bob Menendez, who has been a consistent critic

of this deal, by the way, this is not just today, probably feels the same

way.

I was more struck by what you said about Elizabeth Warren.  I think the

fear is that if -- there are a couple of different fears I can imagine.

One, that Iran does something to violate the agreement, but two, it is more

-- much more likely, is that beyond the confines of the agreement, Iran,

Hezbollah does something terrible.

The war in Syria ramps up, Iran shows it`s a bad actor and then people will

say, how could we have removed the sanctions and given them -- given them

all this money to do bad stuff?

So, yes, everyone has a reason to hedge their bet. 

O`DONNELL:  Phyllis Bennis and James Traub, thank you both for joining me

tonight, I really appreciate it. 

TRAUB:  Thank you --

BENNIS:  Thank you --

O`DONNELL:  Up next, presidential historian Michael Beschloss will join us

to put this story in presidential history.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  Today, after two years of negotiations, the United States together

with our international partners has achieved something that decades of

animosity has not, a comprehensive long-term deal with Iran that will

prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  Joining us now, Presidential Historian Michael Beschloss and

Jonathan Alter, a Daily Beast columnist and an MSNBC political analyst.

Michael Beschloss, put this day for us in presidential history.

MICHAEL BESCHLOSS, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN:  Well, you know, this is a

president who win in the spring of 2008 in a pretty famous statement before

in editorial board.  And we know who said, I want to be a president who`s

transforming, not just someone who is presiding over transactions.  And the

other thing he said famously during that campaign year was, I`m going to

talk to enemies who an American president nowadays is not talking to such

as explicitly, Iran.

A lot of people thought, perhaps, you know, this was rhetoric.  He`s now

proving in this last two years especially when he -- many others might have

thought him of lame duck, but he`s serious about both of these things.  So

the result is he`s in engaged with the Iran issue, to 30 or 40 years from

now, we will know whether if preserve peace in Middle East and brought

democracy to Iran.

O`DONNELL:  Let`s listen to the guiding principle he`s used in these

negotiations.  And he announced that he used it today, he crediting

President Kennedy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA:  This deal is also in line with a tradition of American leadership. 

It`s not more than 50 years since President Kennedy stood before the

American people and said, "Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us

never fear to negotiate."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  Jonathan Alter, you can feel the direct line from JFK to

President Obama in this situation.

JONATHAN ALTER, MSNBC POLICITAL ANALYST:  Yeah, because JFK started the

beginning of relations with the Soviet Union where -- that led eventually

to the SALT Talks and Arms Control.  And this deal is very much in line

with that.  It`s dealing with our principle adversary in trying to reduce

world tensions.

This is a huge historical moment.  If you say that climate change is the

biggest long-term problem facing the world, Iran with nuclear weapons was

the biggest short and medium-term problem in the entire world.  You know,

we talked about a lot of issues everyday.  This is number one in terms of

our safety and our -- the continuation of our way of life.  So, if you run

with that central issue...

O`DONNELL:  Michael Beschloss, within -- as a -- this does feel like one of

those nights where we are writing that first draft of history as they say

about journalism.

BESCHLOSS:  Right.

O`DONNELL:  Would you agree with Jonathan about that?  If this deal, if

this deal works, if we look up 20 years from now and Iran has done

absolutely nothing in the direction of nuclear weaponry, will this actually

be then the single biggest most important accomplishment of the Obama

administration?

BESCHLOSS:  If this works, historians will throw laurels on Barrack Obama`s

head 30 or 40 years from now, if it does.  But, you know, you were

mentioning and he quoted John Kennedy`s quote about "Let us never fear to

negotiate."  Even Kennedy who said that in his inaugural address, that was

actually written by John Kenneth Galbraith, the economist, and even Kennedy

was a little bit reluctant to use that in his speech because he thought it

sound a little bit odd like Stevensonian.  And Stevenson actually died 50

years ago today, ironically enough.  So, even presidents who would like to

negotiate sometimes have to be pushed a little bit, Barrack Obama did not.

O`DONNELL:  And this isn`t just negotiating, Michael.  This is negotiating

with the devil as American --

BESCHLOSS:  That`s right.

O`DONNELL:  -- politics sees it.  And that moment that you reminded us of

in the presidential campaign where President Obama said he would have

direct contact with Iran, meaning in this instance, through his secretaries

of state, Hillary Clinton and now John Kerry.

Hillary Clinton actually thought that was pretty naive at the time.  This

was a -- this was a big reach for presidential candidate to say that.

BESCHLOSS:  Sure is and shows how much of a difference it is, it can make

who is president.  Who else Lawrence, who might have conceivably have been

president in 2008 been elected?  Either the Republican or Democratic side

would have felt so strongly about doing this and finally been successful in

getting a deal.

O`DONNELL:  And Michael, what is -- what do we know in presidential history

about the president himself having the vision to be able to see this kind

of thing even apparently before the advisors around him are seeing this

kind of thing that way?

BESCHLOSS:  That`s what it really comes down to.  And even, you know, a

president who sees things differently in a moment of crisis.  Cuban Missile

Crisis of October 1962.  After 12 days, the Joint Chiefs of Staff were

demanding that John Kennedy bomb Cuba and invade which we now know would

have led to nuclear war.

It was Kennedy feeling so strongly that the issues -- the issue of Russian

missiles in Cuba was not so important that in retrospect caused us to avoid

having 40 million set of human beings in Northern Hemisphere killed in a

nuclear war.  That`s a difference it may have.

O`DONNELL:  Jonathan Alter, it`s so easy to think that it`s all about who

are the people surrounding the president but certainly there`s still are

those moments where it`s all about who is president.

ALTER:  Absolutely.  And this is not very well-known, but in the first two

years of the Obama presidency, getting Russia and China to sign on to

sanctions, to not veto sanctions in the Security Council was Barrack

Obama`s major objective.  He invested huge amounts of time in that.  Nobody

knew about it.  Everybody is focused on Afghanistan, and other -- Osama bin

Laden and other issues, but this was a priority from -- for him from day

one.

O`DONNELL:  Quick break here.  Michael Beschloss, thank you very much for

joining us tonight.  I really appreciate it.

BESCHLOSS:  My pleasure, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL:  Coming up, Donald Trump and the rest of the presidential

candidates react to the Iran deal.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We have four prisoners over

there.  We should have said, "Let the prisoners out."  They shouldn`t be

over there.  You have wonderful -- one`s in there because he`s moving it,

because he`s a Christian.  He`s a pastor.  One`s in there, a writer.  I

mean, they shouldn`t be in prison.

So, he should have said, "We`re not doing anything, let them out."  They

would have let them out in two minutes, if the right messenger delivered

that message."  Now, although I steps further.  They should have been out

from the beginning of the negotiation, not the end.  But, who would think

we do a negotiation and we have our four prisoners.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  That was Donald Trump`s version of one of the standard

Republican talking points against the Iran deal.  Within the hour, within

the last hour, the front runner for the Democratic presidential nomination

Hillary Clinton issued this written statement saying, "I am still studying

the details, but based on the briefings I received and a review of the

documents, I support the agreement because it can help us prevent Iran from

getting a nuclear weapon.  With vigorous enforcement, unyielding

verification, and swift consequences for any violations, this agreement can

make the United States, Israel, and our Arab partners safer."  And Jeb Bush

called the deal "dangerous, deeply flawed and short sighted".

Back with us, Jonathan Alter and Austan Goolsbee.  And so, Jonathan, very

quickly as we know, it is the issue today in the presidential campaign. 

Trump`s got talking points, memorized about what about releasing the

prisoners.  What is the White House response to that?

ALTER:  Well, of course, it would have been great to get that done.  But

the question is whether, you know, as anything even this very inhumane

treatment of these prisoners should got in the way of the larger picture in

this deal.

I don`t have any problem with, you know, Trump and other people who are not

in the Senate sounding off on this.  But I think it`s really, really wrong

and irresponsible for any United States senator who`s supposed to be in the

greatest deliberative body in the world to sound off about a treaty they

haven`t read.  They need to at least read the 80 pages before they take a

position.

To give you an example of how much things have changed.  In 1978, when

Jimmy Carter signed the Panama Canal Treaty which was extraordinarily

unpopular at the time it was signed.  He asked all 100 senators, "Will you

just wait a couple of days until we brief you on the details and we hear

and answer your questions before you blast the treaty?"  Ninety-nine of

them agreed.  Only Jesse Helms said no.

At that time, they believed in deliberation.  They believed that they owed

it to the American people to actually study a deal before they attack it. 

That`s not the way politics works anymore unfortunately.

O`DONNELL:  But Austan Goolsbee, you`ve worked in presidential campaigns,

you know that`s not the way they work either.  They`ve got to have

something to say and they`ve got to have something to say today.

Let`s take a look at how Marco Rubio responded who I think was ready with

the fastest response by any Republicans.  He actually got a T.V. ad ready

for this.  Let`s watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  Lessons of history are

the evil is either confronted and defeated or it grows and it spreads.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  July 14th, 2015, Barrack Obama makes a deal giving Iran

a clear path to a nuclear bomb.  Congress can stop it.  Marco Rubio is

leading the fight.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  Austan, I guess not a big surprise in the way modern

campaigning works.

GOOLSBEE:  Now look, I will say two things.  The first is, if (ph)

absolutely as I say, these guys have got each German judge at the Olympic

syndrome where it doesn`t matter if the president does a triple lots (ph)

or in events like quadruple and gives it through with a boulder given

number one.  And you see that play out.  If any Republican presidential

candidate even open the door that they would consider reading it before

condemning it, you will never hear from that candidate again.

But the second thing I would say is especially in the case of Donald Trump,

you got people whose the limits of their experience with nuclear technology

is cooking us lunch and dinner in the microwave and they`re condemning the

work of the nuclear scientist who have told us that they can limit the

amount of nuclear material that Iran has to far less than one bomb, put off

their ability to make a weapon for 10, 15 years.  It`s a sad state of

affairs as Jonathan says, that we`re not even going to read the agreements

to figure out would they prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon better

than the status quo was doing?

O`DONNELL:  And Jonathan, Hillary Clinton`s statement goes on, it links to

be very tough on Iran and saying, "Look, we will snap back on these

sanctions".  She shouldn`t been very threatening.  And some example of how

you can accept and support this deal and maintain your toughness on Iran.

ALTER:  Yeah, I actually think that before this is done, the president is

going to have to go further than that and say that if there are violations

of this agreement that all options are on the table.  In other words, not

to wait for possible military action until they`ve actually built it or

about to built a bomb.  But if they are diddling us and we don`t have any

recourse then, you know, things should get bellicose at that point.  And

that should be part of the way they sell the deal that there`s a honey and

vinegar in this.

O`DONNELL:  Now Iran...

(CROSSTALK)

GOOLSBEE:  You know, Lawrence, I think two things...

O`DONNELL:  Go ahead.

GOOLSBEE:  ... are going to play into the president`s favor if you want to

think of it that way in the public`s view.  The first is the issue of

credibility that in many cases, these are literally the same people making

the same arguments for why used of force in Iraq and going to war, making

the argument that that would make the Middle East a safer and better place

are making the same argument in reverse against this deal.  I think that`s

going to play to the president`s strength.

And the second is I think the price of oil is likely to go down a lot once

Iran starts doing this.  And if by Christmas, people are looking at $2 of

gallon gasoline, I think a lot of Americans are going to say, "Maybe this

isn`t so bad, you know, let`s give it a chance to see if it work."

ALTER:  And when we did it the Bush way, you know, on the Bush

administration, we went from a couple of dozen centrifuges in Iran to

19,000.

O`DONNELL:  Yeah, right.

ALTER:  You know, that`s what happened with their strategy.  We tried it

their way and it failed.

O`DONNELL:  And the last presidential candidate to say he was ready to go

to war in Iran if necessary is named Mitt Romney.

ALTER:  Yeah.

O`DONNELL:  Jonathan Alter, Austan Goolsbee, thank you both very much for

joining me tonight.

ALTER:  Thanks so much.

GOLSBEE:  Thank you.

O`DONNELL:  Up next, someone who has been very close, possibly even

uncomfortably close to Donald Trump will join us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL:  Penn Jillette, you know, Donald Trump.

PENN JILLETTE, COMEDIAN:  Well, yes.  I mean, we never hangout in the

basement playing, trading...

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL:  You come out on TV and Celebrity Apprentice.

JILLETTE:  I`ve sat there for hours.

O`DONNELL:  OK.  You...

JILLETTE:  The five minutes he does during the show is cooled down.  He

edit it from sometimes an hour and a half, two hours of him

pontificating...

O`DONNELL:  This is great, because you are the person I know who talks with

his hands more than anyone else.  But you do not talk with your hands more

than Donald Trump.

JILLETTE:  I don`t.

O`DONNELL:  OK, no.  Let`s take a look at Trump today, in a hand speech the

he gave.  There he is.  He`s on CNN.  Now, it doesn`t matter what he say

because he always say...

JILLETTE:  It`s not by the size of a trout, I think so.

O`DONNELL:  Can you explain to me what`s that -- what is this about? 

What`s the move where he reaches out to the person without quite touching

the person?  What is that?  Does he do that -- did he do that to you a lot

that...

JILLETTE:  Well, first of all, you`re...

O`DONNELL:  Is that (inaudible)?  I mean, stay over there while I say that. 

(Inaudible).

JILLETTE:  When you`re in the board room, you`re not allowed to put your

hands on the table.  So you sit there for an hour and a half and you`ll

talk about real estate, he`ll talk about sex, he`ll talk about anything and

then they edit it down.

O`DONNELL:  Look, you just moved your hands, it`s contagious

JILLETTE:  Yeah.  Well, I`m doing it.  You made me self-conscious.  I`ll

put my hands in my lap.

O`DONNELL:  Yeah, keep your hands there.  Let`s watch the master.  Watch

this all over to the end.  It`s just astounding.

JILLETTE:  Well, he`s only got four moves.

O`DONNELL:  Look.  Look, no, they`re endless.  They`re just endless and...

JILLETTE:  So what you can find on MSNBC, what you can find worst about

Trump is he moves his head too much when he talks.

O`DONNELL:  That`s not the worst thing about Trump.

(CROSSTALK)

JILLETTE:  That`s the thing about Trump.  OK.

O`DONNELL:  No, it`s one of the three things that us, Trump scholars, you

know, wonder about.  All right, we`re going to be right back with more on

Trump.

JILLETTE:  There`s other bad things...

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP:  This isn`t about talent.  This is about survival for the

United States.  And the problem is Katy, everybody is worried about tone

(ph), being politically correct, speaking nicely.  I speak as well as

anybody.  I went to one of the greatest schools in the world.  I can speak

better than anybody.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  We`ll see if he can speak better than you.  We`ll be right

back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  Do you want to hear who the winner is?  So, the winner of All Star

Celebrity Apprentice is the very great Trace Adkins.

(INAUDIBLE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  Trace Adkins was unavailable tonight, but we`re joined now by

Penn Jillette who came in second on All Star Celebrity Apprentice.  Penn is

currently -- and I got some stuff to review.  There`s a (inaudible) there. 

See the (inaudible)?

JILLETTE:  OK.  Yeah.

O`DONNELL:  Penn is currently starring on Broadway at the Marquis Theater

in a show titled Penn & Teller on Broadway.  I take it you wrote the title.

JILLETTE:  No, I did not actually.  A lot of meetings for that.  That`s

right.  There were -- back on Broadway, on Broadway when we were...

O`DONNELL:  I want to talk about Trump but I got to talk about your show. 

It`s opening the other tonight.  I have seen Penn & Teller a lot.  I have

stolen one of your bits (ph) and wrote it into a Whistling (ph) script...

JILLETTE:  Yes.

O`DONNELL:  ... and then people think you stole it from the Whistling (ph).

JILLETTE:  Yes, they do.  But...

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL:  But I haven`t been to the show in a few years.  Just about

everything in there was new.  It`s incredible.  It`s just amazing.  It`s

intimate.  It`s this giant theater and you bring it down to a candlelit

room at the end and it`s intimate.  And you know what, let`s stay a little

bit after and we`ll talk about this online during the show.

JILLETTE:  OK.  Yeah.

O`DONNELL:  So, Trump who you know, I want to play you something that I

think it turns out Trump may be the best analyst of Donald Trump we have

amongst us.  And I want you to listen to what he said the other day about

being loved, you will love this.

JILLETTE:  OK, good.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP:  I always wanted to be loved, do you know?  Like when I went on

dates, if a woman dropped me, which happens often, I would always like to

say or at least to my own mind that I dropped her.  Does that make sense? 

So, what happened makes me feel better.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL:  It`s as if we`re listening to his tapes with his psychiatrist. 

It is just, I mean...

JILLETTE:  You know, the American public prayed for somebody in the

political scene who would tell the truth without filters.  And like The

Monkey`s Paw, it`s come back and bit me in the butt.  We have so much --

you know, like in America, here is someone without filters.

O`DONNELL:  Yeah.

JILLETTE:  Is this what you want?  And it`s kind of refreshing except that

he`s wrong about everything.

O`DONNELL:  Yeah.

JILLETTE:  But if he weren`t wrong, everybody goes to Bernie.  I think

Bernie kind of tells the truth too.

O`DONNELL:  Now, Bernie Sanders, yeah.

JILLETTE:  Yeah.

O`DONNELL:  By the way, you as a libertarian, Ron Paul is rolling over in

his bed tonight over what his son has said about this Iran deal where it`s

a very, you know, Republican war-mongering kind of thing.

JILLETTE:  Yeah.

O`DONNELL:  This deal is no good and, you know, we should keep saber-

rattling at Iran.  And so, there is no candidate for you in the libertarian

world.

JILLETTE:  No, I mean, there`ll be Gary Johnson again at some point.

O`DONNELL:  Yeah, you`ll be voting down there (ph).

JILLETTE:  Yeah, I mean...

O`DONNELL:  So now, I believe on the set right now is the first Donald

Trump tie to ever make an appearance on this show.  Is that a -- could you

reveal...

(CROSSTALK)

JILLETTE:  And I want you to see that this right here is 100 percent

plastic.

O`DONNELL:  The gold.

JILLETTE:  The gold is plastic.

O`DONNELL:  Yes.

JILLETTE:  The gold is plastic.

O`DONNELL:  Yeah.

JILLETTE:  I want to say very clearly, I got this tie for free on Celebrity

Apprentice right to the end.  They start giving you wardrobe.  They gave

this to me free and I send $20 to China.  So, I am not guilty of the

exploitation this tie represents.

O`DONNELL:  So, you got out of Celebrity Apprentice, you got a free tie.

JILLETTE:  Free tie.

O`DONNELL:  And you got millions in Box Office sales in Vegas I hear.

JILLETTE:  I mean, OK.

O`DONNELL:  You know, I`m thinking about that.  It turns out that`s the

kind of show in "Dancing with the Stars" that you`re also on.  That drives

him off a lot to Vegas.

JILLETTE:  Yeah, it turns -- I used to think that when I went on T.V., I

should do what I do.  I do amazing magic tricks and stuff...

O`DONNELL:  Right.

JILLETTE:  ... it turns out it doesn`t matter.

O`DONNELL:  Yeah.

JILLETTE:  Just being on T.V., we`ll sell tickets and then they come to our

show and then, they learn what we do.

O`DONNELL:  You know, Trump, the more I watch him, the more I see this --

there`s a child-like aspecting (ph) that thing about want to be loved.  He

really does...

JILLETTE:  It`s absolutely true.

O`DONNELL:  And isn`t he incredibly disappointed when people don`t like

him?

JILLETTE:  He would -- what I said, you know, four years ago when I was on

the show, I said that I didn`t think he would be a good president.  I got

called by everybody and said, "No, no.  He really want you to support him." 

As a matter of fact, everybody in the Trump organization.

Backstage before I lost, he said to me, "You know, you really should have

supported me for president."  And this is, you know, two years after or

something.  And I said, "Well, no.  I`m not going to support you for

president.  We`re doing a reality show.  This is a joke.  This has nothing

to do where you`ve got to know me and -- but no."  I mean I do -- I think

everyone who was on Celebrity Apprentice, I`m the one who liked him the

most, because actually I like that kind of crazy...

(CROSSTALK)

O`DONNELL:  The nuttinesss.  And you`ve been around that in show business. 

Were going to end this TV show right now.  We`re going to say in these

seats, we`re going to tape some more.  We`re going to put it on The Very

Last Word on our website.

The show on Broadway is "Penn and Teller" on Broadway, the easiest title to

remember.

JILLETTE:  Good.

O`DONNELL:  At the Marquee Theater.  Penn Jillette, get tonight`s Last

Word.  Tell us that Chris Hayes is up next.  Go ahead.

JILLETTE:  Chris Hayes is up next on MSNBC.

END   

<Copy: Content and programming copyright 2015 MSNBC.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Copyright 2015 CQ-Roll Call, Inc.  All materials herein are protected by

United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,

transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written

permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,

copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>






Watch The Last Word With Lawrence O'Donnell each weeknight at 10 p.m. ET


Sponsored links

Resource guide