'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Thursday, October 22nd, 2015
Read the transcript to the Thursday show
Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
Date: October 22, 2015
Guest: Joy Reid, Kasie Hunt, Eugene Robinson, Richard Ben-Veniste, John
Dean, Luke Russert, Thomas Pickering, Michael McFaul
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: That does it for us tonight, we will see you again
tomorrow, now it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: That was an amazing day Rachel,
and we heard a lot from Hillary Clinton and Elijah Cummings about
Ambassador Thomas Pickering --
MADDOW: Yes --
O`DONNELL: He will be joining us here on THE LAST WORD tonight.
MADDOW: Excellent, well done, thanks Lawrence --
O`DONNELL: Thanks Rachel --
MADDOW: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: One word to describe today`s 11-hour Benghazi Committee hearing
was `pointless`. That`s if you listen to what Trey Gowdy says about what
he learned in this hearing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I would imagine I thought more
about what happened than all of you put together. I`ve lost more sleep
than all of you put together.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But it soon dissolved into bickering.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would join you --
REP. TREY GOWDY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I`ll be happy to, but you need to
make sure the entire record --
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: Yes --
GOWDY: Is right as well --
CUMMINGS: And that`s exactly what I want to do --
GOWDY: Well, then, go ahead --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just don`t understand the pre-occupation with Sidney
GOWDY: He had unfettered access to you.
CLINTON: I don`t know what this line of questioning does to help us get to
the bottom of the deaths of four Americans.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Or you would think for the time we spent on him, that
he was in Benghazi on the night manning the barricades.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You had two ambassadors that made several requests and
here`s basically what happened to their requests.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And she`s not letting them get under her skin.
CLINTON: I`m sorry that it doesn`t fit your narrative, Congressman. I can
only tell you what the facts were.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s hard to find much that is new here.
REP. ADAM SMITH (D), WASHINGTON: What is the purpose of this committee?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: It was five hours into Hillary Clinton`s testimony when
Democratic Congressman Adam Smith asked, "what is the purpose of this
By then, it was a fair question. Television commentators had been
struggling to find a clear purpose to what they were hearing.
And the kind of clear purpose that the -- for example, what were looking
for was the kind of clear purpose that Republican Senator Howard Baker
summarized in 11 simple words that explained the most important and complex
investigative committee hearings in history; the Watergate Committee
investigation that ultimately forced President Nixon to resign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOWARD BAKER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: What did the President
know and when did he know it?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: If the purpose of today`s hearing was to find out what did
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton know about Benghazi and when did she
There were hours and hours of questions and speeches by members of the
committee that had nothing to do with that. What we saw, as I suggested,
what happened here last night on this program was really a debate.
A debate between Hillary Clinton and seven Republican members of Congress.
The Republican debate team composed of mostly angry men, was no match for
Hillary Clinton`s cool.
I mean, cool in the Marshall McLuhan sense. It was in McLuhan`s 1964
seminal work "Understanding Media" that he said, "TV is a cool medium."
He described the first televised presidential debate in 1960 as a contest
between hot and cool. Richard Nixon was hot and seemingly angry while John
F. Kennedy stayed cool.
McLuhan insisted that on TV, cool will always win. Today, it was as if
Hillary Clinton re-read McLuhan last night and Trey Gowdy has never heard
Joining us now, Richard Ben-Veniste who served as one of the lead
prosecutors of the Watergate`s special prosecution for us.
Also, with us, John Dean, former White House Counsel to President Nixon
during Watergate who testified at those hearings.
And joining us, Eugene Robinson, opinion writer for "The Washington Post"
and an Msnbc analyst and Luke Russert who`s been on Capitol Hill, Luke
Russert, "Nbc News" Capitol Hill correspondent.
First of all, Eugene, I want to offer you one of these lozenges that
Hillary Clinton --
EUGENE ROBINSON, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Thank you --
O`DONNELL: Needed --
ROBINSON: Thank you --
O`DONNELL: To get through the day because I have been talking about this
almost as long as Hillary Clinton --
ROBINSON: Would you have a shot of bourbon --
O`DONNELL: Right, that`s right, I want to go -- I want to go to Richard
Ben-Veniste first, because you have the experience that I find so relevant
to what we were watching there today.
I said here last night, that one of the reasons that the Watergate
Committee worked so well is that they left most of the important
questioning to the special counsel, to Sam Dash, to Fred Thompson.
And they worked cooperatively, they asked questions that made sense,
commentators never in the middle of those hearings were turning, saying,
what are they talking about? We don`t understand it.
Today, they did it, what I consider the amateur way for these hearings.
They let the members just ask these questions themselves.
There`s a big difference between those two methods, isn`t there?
RICHARD BEN-VENISTE, LAWYER: There certainly is. The difference as you
have so correctly pointed out is that what we saw was this marathon of
repetitive questioning and then speechifying and then result to the silly
season in Washington where you have the spectacle of people who are
seemingly inexhaustible trying to try Secretary Clinton`s patience.
And as you point out, she did an admirable job in keeping her cool,
responding to the questions even though they -- some of them were
insulting, some of them -- many of them were repetitive after the first few
This was an endurance test and she certainly passed that test very well.
O`DONNELL: John Dean, you have the experience of being in that hot seat in
the committee room like this in a much more intensely serious situation at
this -- with that at that time and the entire presidency turned out to be
What you watched today, if you -- if they had come to you and said how
should we run this hearing, what would you have told them to do?
JOHN DEAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL TO PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON: Well,
the Senate Watergate Committee really was a model and did become a model,
and served as a model for a lot of years.
Ironically, the question you just raised that Baker asked, what did he know
and when did he know it was asked of me on June 27th in 1973.
And he was actually trying to pin me down for perjury at that point. I
would take some issue with you on Sam Dash and Fred Thompson.
While they did ask a lot of the questions and counsel was asking questions,
the senators actually asked some of the tougher questions.
And Dash and Thompson just did kind of a cleanup. I`d also tell you the
witnesses really in control in a congressional hearing.
Unlike when I testified for Richard Ben-Veniste for ten days in a
courtroom, the witness doesn`t control, where Hillary clearly was in
control of the day.
O`DONNELL: Tell us more about that, John Dean, how does the witness get to
control the congressional hearing?
DEAN: The way they do it is, there are no limits on what that witness can
say. There`s no hear-say rule, there`s no way to really cut a witness off.
There`s no question that Hillary decided to answer questions in full, she
knew she was -- they have time limits on members of Congress when they ask
questions and you can really kind of filibuster through those.
If you -- if the guy or woman is giving you a tough time and a witness that
knows their way around the Hill does that.
O`DONNELL: And Gene Robinson, we saw the experience that she brought to
ROBINSON: Yes --
O`DONNELL: That she did her first Congressional testifying for her
healthcare crusade --
ROBINSON: Right --
O`DONNELL: Over 20 years ago in both the Senate and the house. And so she
was actually the most practiced person at what we were seeing in that room
ROBINSON: Yes, obviously, and the experience showed. I mean, she -- there
was never a moment I thought, when she was not in control of that process.
You know, the thing that really struck me about the hearing, though, and
this -- I think, it was a big question everybody should be asking.
If the purpose was to find out what happened in Benghazi, why did no one
talk or ask about the people who killed our diplomats in Benghazi? The
terrorists, the demonstrators, whoever they were.
There was nothing about them. So, it really wasn`t about the deaths and
the attacks that actually happened. It was all about Hillary Clinton and
Insinuating that she did less than she might have or she knew something
before she announced it or whatever, that`s all it was about.
O`DONNELL: Luke Russert, how are the Republicans on the Hill feeling about
how this went for them today?
LUKE RUSSERT, NBC NEWS CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT: Not good. And I think
the reason why is what Trey Gowdy said right after this 11-hour ordeal,
Lawrence, and that was he didn`t learn anything new.
So, the question then begs to be asked, what was the purpose of this entire
hearing which even one Republican told me kind of looked like a charade.
And I think what you`re going to see now as we move into the speakership of
Paul Ryan is, I`ll be curious to see whether or not Ryan embraces this
committee to the degree Boehner was forced to.
Remember when Boehner started this in May of 2014, he had resisted the
overtures from conservatives to do this because he was apprehensive about
what it would end up and turn up being.
He knew that there was a possibility that his colleagues might overreach.
And I think what you saw today was perhaps an example of that.
They were disorganized in their questioning. They were never really able
to pin Hillary Clinton down on anything new aside from those other seven
congressional investigations went for.
And what really struck me is that they kept her in the chair, kept wearing
her down, wearing her down, and then 7:42, certainly does this whole
barrage about e-mails.
It was almost like it was pre-planned to drop the e-mails later in the day
after all those hours of questioning.
So, I think that when we look back at this, you`ll probably see in the
Boehner archives somewhere in the future, maybe he was right about not
wanting to do this back in 2014.
O`DONNELL: I want to show an exchange between the chairman and the ranking
member, between Trey Gowdy and Congressman Cummings and just how nasty this
got. Let`s take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOWDY: Would the gentleman yield? I`ll be happy to, but you need to make
sure the entire record --
CUMMINGS: And that`s exactly what I want to do.
GOWDY: Well, then go ahead --
CUMMINGS: I`m about to tell you. I move at least -- put into the record
the entire transcript of Sidney Blumenthal. If we`re going to release the
e-mails, let`s do the transcript! That way the world can see it.
GOWDY: Why is it that you only want Mr. Blumenthal`s transcript released?
Why don`t you --
CUMMINGS: I`d like to have all of them released --
GOWDY: The survivors, even their names?
CUMMINGS: Let me tell you --
GOWDY: Do you want that?
CUMMINGS: No --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Richard Ben-Veniste, with all your experience in these kinds of
hearings as a counsel, what`s your reaction to a moment like that? Who do
you blame for the committee getting out of control like that?
BEN-VENISTE: Well, I am sorry to say that the whole premise of this
hearing at a point where you`ve had numerous other hearings going over the
same ground where the expectations of the chair and the leading members of
the committee are not realized.
They are not putting a dent in Hillary Clinton`s version of the facts,
which she`s gone over repeatedly, tempers are frayed, it becomes a food
And as Luke says, I`d use the term kabuki. It`s all acted out so that each
member gets an opportunity to show that he`s going to ask some tough
question of a presidential candidate.
And the American public is not served and national security, more
importantly, is not served when that subject matter is used for these kinds
O`DONNELL: John Dean, quickly, before you go, your reaction to that moment
where the two leading members of the committee get into that kind of
DEAN: It`s symbolic and emblematic of the terrible polarization in
Washington. No committee can conduct itself like that and shouldn`t
It was really embarrassing what the Republicans have done here.
O`DONNELL: Richard Ben-Veniste, John Dean and Luke Russert, thank you all
for joining us tonight, really appreciate it. Eugene is going to hang
around for more.
Coming up, the name that kept coming up in today`s Benghazi hearing was
Ambassador Thomas Pickering. Ambassador Pickering will join us.
And we have breaking news. Paul Ryan and his quest to be speaker of the
house. Donald Trump loses the number one spot among Republicans in Iowa as
Ben Carson surges past him.
O`DONNELL: We have breaking news tonight in the race for speaker of the
house. Paul Ryan has decided that he does have enough support from
conservative members to run for speaker of the house.
In a letter to members of the House Republican Conference, Paul Ryan wrote,
"I never thought I`d be speaker, but I pledge to you that if I could be a
unifying figure, then I would serve, I would go all in.
After talking with so many of you and hearing your words of encouragement,
I believe we are ready to move forward as one united team and I am ready
and eager to be our speaker."
The house leadership vote is next Thursday. Up next, Ambassador Thomas
Pickering will react to what was said about him at that hearing today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you feel you did madam secretary?
CLINTON: Hi everybody --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How`re you feeling after all that? --
CLINTON: Have a good evening of the rest of the evening.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You feeling all right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Today, the chairman of the Benghazi Committee justified the
need for yet another investigation of Benghazi by finding fault with all of
the other previous investigations.
Beginning with the State Department`s accountability review board, which
was chaired by former Ambassador Thomas Pickering; a career diplomat who
served as ambassador to six countries, including Israel, India and Russia.
He also served as undersecretary of state and ambassador to the United
Nations. Congressman Elijah Cummings rose to the defense of Ambassador
Pickering and the -- and his investigation of Benghazi.
The investigation that Ambassador Pickering conducted.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUMMINGS: There`s an 83-year-old gentleman named Ambassador Pickering.
And I`ve heard a lot of testimony. I was there for his deposition.
I was also transcribing the other memo which it was. And then before his
testimony before the Oversight Committee. And when he talked about his
appointment to the ARB, he talks about what an honor it was.
And I think the thing that bothers me about a lot of this that has gone on
is that, when there have been attacks on the ARB, it`s as if -- I mean,
it`s like attacking him.
And at 83 years old, I refuse to sit here and let that go by. And I
remember listening to him, and I said to myself, you know, this is the kind
of guy that we all ought to honor.
Serving under presidents for 40 years, Democrats and Republicans, high up
on the chain with regard to integrity. I mean, I don`t even see how you
even attack this guy --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes --
CUMMINGS: All right? And one of the things he said in his testimony, he
said -- and this was -- you appointed him. And he talked about the
appointment, and I quote from a June 4th testimony.
He said, "Chris Stevens worked for me as my special assistant for two years
when I was undersecretary of state.
This was not any kind of vendetta, but I felt that Chris gave me two
wonderful years of his life in supporting me in very difficult
And that I owed him, his family, and the families of the other people who
died. The best possible report we could put together."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes --
CUMMINGS: And he went on and said some other things that were so powerful.
And then when I hear the implications of people attacking the report,
talking about he`s not -- he wasn`t independent or they weren`t
independent, it`s like an attack against him!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Ambassador Thomas Pickering, also joining us,
Ambassador Michael McFaul who served as Ambassador to Russia from January
2012 to February 2014.
He`s also an Msnbc contributor. Ambassador Pickering, what was your
reaction to what was said about you today and your investigation during
THOMAS PICKERING, FORMER UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS:
Well, one can`t help but be pleased and a little embarrassed by the
encomium and indeed, the kind remarks of Representative Elijah Cummings
For whom I have a great deal of respect, because I watched him throughout
the process and he was in every sense of the word, I think a defender of
probity, a defender of what I would call honesty and a defender of trying
to find a way to call it like it was.
And in that sense, somebody in my position cannot help to be but deeply
obliged to somebody who in his position went out of his way to rise to my
But, of course, it was also in every sense of the word to help to defend
the integrity of our report. Which we labored mightily over for a period
of several months, did in every sense of the word, the very best we all
And I was honored to work very closely with Admiral Mike Mullen, but with
three other distinguished public servants at the same time to produce that
Because we felt that it was in every sense of the word something that we
had to do in order to avoid making the same mistakes in the future.
Something that if you go back and read some of the other accountability
review reports flows through them.
That we have a wonderful capacity to react rapidly and indeed emotionally
as soon as the report comes out and then it kind of dribbles out into
In some cases, because the Congress is not able to broke their money or
doesn`t want to, or is no longer impressed by the problem at hand.
And in some cases because of bureaucracy loses hope or spirit or commitment
or conviction as the time passes between the tragedy and the present.
O`DONNELL: Ambassador Trey Gowdy criticized your investigation and your
report on several fronts, including the way you conducted interviews, the
people you didn`t interview, resources that you didn`t obtain, the fact
that there aren`t transcripts of the interviews.
What is your response to the criticisms --
PICKERING: Well, I think that --
O`DONNELL: That he leveled? --
PICKERING: We interviewed over a 100 people. We made a record of the
interviews, which is available, I`m sure to Congressman Gowdy.
We did not make transcripts because we felt it was important for us to
record the key points and fundamentals rather than every word that was
We did not consider ourselves a court of law or a body that would lead in
one way or another to criminal indictments of any kind.
We did consider ourselves absolutely required however, to draw the
principal lessons; make exact and careful findings, and make
And I think all of that was supported by the work we did. We interviewed
everybody that we could identify with the situation in one way or another
from all the material we had.
We have never said -- I don`t believe any of us, but certainly me in my
capacity as chairman that we did absolutely everything right and nothing
could further add to our report.
And I think, certainly, I have been always open-minded that if new
information became available, I would do my best to examine it against the
And what I knew and give you or anybody else my careful opinion on that
score. And I`ve tried to do that as I`ve gone along.
I have not with great humility found anything that I would think would
change our fundamental recommendations.
But I`d be the last person in the world to tell you nothing like that exist
or it could never be found. But I`ve been waiting, yes, all of these years
and with all of these reports to see, in fact, whether there is something
And I don`t at this point, from everything I have seen and heard in all of
these reports found anything new.
But I have found a number of reports which in many ways help to convince me
that we did a good job because they came to the same or very similar
O`DONNELL: Well, if you found nothing new in today`s hearing, that puts
you in the company of chairman -- the chairman of the committee. Let`s
listen to what he said about that tonight after the hearing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mister --
GOWDY: And --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are the most important new things you learned
GOWDY: I think some of Jimmy Jordan`s questioning. Well, when you say new
today? I mean, we knew some of that already. We knew about the e-mails.
In terms of her testimony? I don`t know that she testified that much
differently today than she has previous times she`s testified. So, I`d
have to go back and look at the transcript.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: If you can`t learn something new in over nine hours of
testimony, I don`t know what it`s going to take.
Ambassador McFaul, there was a lot of talk today about what if -- it`s kind
of indirect, but they were suggesting, what if Chris Stevens had had
Hillary Clinton`s personal e-mail, would he have had better communication
Would he have gotten the protective resources that he was asking for.
MICHAEL MCFAUL, FORMER UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: Well, the first
thing I have to say, being on with Ambassador Pickering, in my world of
foreign policy experts, there`s nobody that has a higher reputation, and
it`s a non-partisan reputation.
And the very idea -- Mike Mullen, too, who I did work with him in
government, that somehow this was partisan just strikes me as absurd and
Now, to answer your question. The other thing, I didn`t get to see all
nine hours, I have a day job here at Stanford, so I couldn`t spend the
entire day watching it.
But when I did, my biggest impression was, I was listening to people that I
don`t think quite understand how the State Department works.
And I`m now on, again with somebody who has 40 years more experience than I
did. But the basic premise that we would be e-mailing the Secretary of
State, it just doesn`t work that way.
And by the way, I don`t think it worked that way with Secretary Rice before
Secretary Clinton, my colleague here, because there`s a process that you
The most important process she used is called cables. You write cables and
you even have a special channel if you want to communicate directly to the
secretary if you`re an ambassador.
But that`s the process by which the State Department moves information up
the chain. Then there`s phone calls, then there`s (INAUDIBLE); that`s
And then if you`re really desperate and you need to get something quickly
to the secretary, as I did from time to time, you deal with her trusted
For me that was Jake Sullivan. You heard a lot about Jake today. Jake, I
could always e-mail and I knew that he would communicate to Secretary
Clinton if it was something urgent.
So I just thought that it was a -- it felt a little -- you know, we need to
understand the process within the bureaucracy before you judge it. And by
the way, one last thing I want to say, very important point, there`s an
inter-agency process as well.
A lot of policy gets made, not within the State Department, but within the
inner agency process that`s run by the White House.
Another key piece where you`re not e-mailing directly the secretary, you`re
actually -- when I was ambassador, interacting with the NSC; the National
Security Council, interacting with my colleagues at the Pentagon to deal
with policy issues.
O`DONNELL: And Ambassador Pickering, your investigation and report was the
one that specified exactly who you felt was to blame for the failure to
supply the adequate protective resources.
PICKERING: Yes, just let me make one comment. Thanks, Mike, for your very
kind remarks which I appreciate immensely. I worked for Secretary
Kissinger as the person who organizes the channels.
And I set up the first time the special channel to the secretary. But I
also had from time to time the privilege and indeed the option of
communicating directly with the President as his personal representative
through the State Department cables.
Which, in fact, are the preferred way of communicating. And people tend to
forget that in the days of e-mail. But they exist, they`re there, they`re
reliable and they get information where it`s supposed to go.
O`DONNELL: Ambassador Thomas Pickering and Ambassador Michael McFaul,
thank you both very much for joining us tonight, really appreciate it,
PICKERING: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Up next, what impact will today`s Benghazi hearing have on
Hillary Clinton`s presidential campaign.
And later, the main Super PAC backing Donald Trump, the one he pretended
was not backing him is now shutting down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HILLARY CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I came here because I said I
would. And, I have done everything I know to do, as have the people with
whom I worked, to try to answer your questions. I cannot do anything more
The answers have changed not at all since I appeared more than two years
ago before the house and senate. And, I recognize that there are many
currents at work in this committee, but I can only hope that the
statesmanship overcomes the partisanship.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining us now our Kasie Hunt, an MSNBC Political Correspondent
and Joy Reid, an MSNBC National Correspondent. Joy, every day of
presidential campaigning is a campaign day.
JOY REID, MSNBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
O`DONNELL: There is no days off.
O`DONNELL: No holidays.
O`DONNELL: Even when you are testifying to congress. So, for Hillary
Clinton and her presidential campaign, today could be a help. It could
have hurt her. It could have meant nothing. What was it?
REID: I think it was helpful. I think the Clintons are nothing if not
lucky in their enemies. This is consistent throughout the careers of both
Bill and Hillary Clinton. And, so, when you have obvious overreach and
obviously partisan politicized hearing in which, you know, putting the e-
mails was bioengineered to be in primetime for maximum salaciousness and
things like that, it really elevates Hillary Clinton. It allowed her to
sit there and look like a president. So, I think this was an unabashed
help to her.
O`DONNELL: Kasie Hunt, what is the republican reaction in Washington. Is
it easy to find republicans who can tell you why this was great for them?
KASIE HUNT, MSNBC POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Lawrence, it is actually been
pretty difficult throughout the course of the day, which I think tells you
more than anything, more than what democrats will say --
O`DONNELL: Yes, it does.
HUNT: -- or already saying as a presidential performance for her. It is
something that did elevate her as Joy was saying. I am having a lot of
trouble finding republican campaign operatives, who were willing to say,
"You know what? This was a situation that really helped my guy. My guy,
who might end up happens to be running against Hillary Clinton come next
I think there has mostly been -- I would not go so far as to say radio
silence. You know, some people have come back and said, "Well, any day she
is talking about her record as Secretary of State is a good day for us.
Donald Trump, of course, was on with Hugh Hewitt saying, he thinks maybe
Biden wished he would have gotten in the race, but that is the most
aggressive anyone has been on this.
And, the reality is, between the focus on the congressional wing of the
republican party, some of the most unpopular people in American politics,
people that this presidential field wants some distance from. And, the way
that Kevin McCarthy`s comments played into the overall politics of this
hearing, and then the way it played out with Hillary Clinton seeming calm
and composed throughout, and republicans at times seeming to beat up on
her. This is something that they are not really celebrating at this point,
O`DONNELL: Eugene, one of the raps that Hillary Clinton gets as a
candidate is that she gets stiff. She gets kind of robotic.
EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
O`DONNELL: She can feel programmed. When is she going to be human? When
is she going to loosen up? Well, this committee offered her that
opportunity with many openings for her to sound very human.
I want to go to one example of it right now, where Adam Smith was asking
her about the responsibility of all the personnel under her jurisdiction
and state department. Let us listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ADAM SMITH, (D) WASHINGTON REPRESENTATIVE: And, how many personnel
CLINTON: 70,000 between the state department and U.S.A. I.D.
REP. SMITH: And, you are responsible for all of them as well.
CLINTON: That is true, congressman.
REP. SMITH: Can any human being on the face of the planet protect every
single one of them, every second of every day.
CLINTON: Well --
REP. SMITH: That is rhetorical question.
CLINTON: Well, we can try. We can try.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBINSON: No. I mean that was one of those -- there was another when she
gave her account of how she experienced the hours of the Benghazi attack
and how they learned that one of our people was dead. And, they were still
looking for Chris Stevens. They could not find them and they finally found
his body. He had been admitted to the hospital.
O`DONNELL: And, these is the kinds of moments you do not get on the
ROBINSON: Exactly. And, you get as much time as you want.
ROBINSON: Because it is pointed out. You are in control.
O`DONNELL: Let us listen --
ROBINSON: That was not just human. It was gripping.
O`DONNELL: Yes. Let us listen to the part you just referred to.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLINTON: One of the horrors of the hours after the attack was our failure
to be able to find where the ambassador was. We were desperate and we were
trying to call everybody we knew in Benghazi and Libya, get additional
help. What appears to have happened at some point later is that Libyans
found ambassador Stevens, and they carried him to the hospital in Benghazi.
And, Libyan doctors labored nearly two hours to try to resuscitate him, and
I mention all of this because I want not just the committee members, but
any viewers in the public to understand that this was the fog of war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joy, a pretty convincing description of the fog of war.
REID: No. Absolutely. And, as I was watching and listening to Hillary
Clinton, one of the things I could not escape thinking was, if you think
about how you take a former first lady, the wife of a president and
translate her to a president herself, you have to put aside the things that
we even presume about women, about the wife. Is she simply going to be a
vessel for Bill Clinton.
Today her state department tenure, Hillary Clinton became the most fully
fleshed out Secretary of State that most Americans have ever seen,
describing the job, describing all of the aspects of the military response.
And, describing them with a specificity and a seriousness that it is
inescapable that she is now going to be seen through the lens of her state
department career, for better or for worse. That is very important for
that commander in chief to ask, right?
REID: And, I think this was an important moment for her.
ROBINSON: I think it is a very good point. You know, my question is how
do the republican candidates react to this. Do they embrace this committee
O`DONNELL: We have some of that, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush saying, they
thought she did a horrible job. And, just exactly what you have to say.
We have to take a break here. Kasie Hunt, I think you set the record for
on-duty MSNBC today. What time did you start this morning?
HUNT: Well, I was on campus at 5:30 this morning. But you know --
O`DONNELL: There you go. Yes, you got the record. OK
HUNT: It is all good.
O`DONNELL: Thank you very much.
HUNT: Darkened halls.
O`DONNELL: Thanks, Kasie.
HUNT: Darkened halls again now.
O`DONNELL: Thanks for joining us.
Up next, the Super PAC backing Donald Trump is not backing Donald Trump
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARCO RUBIO, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It was a massive incompetence at
every level and the buck stops at the top. If Hillary Clinton is going to
go around taking credit for her time as Secretary of State, then she must
take responsibilities for failures that happened at the State Department
under her watch and this was the costliest of all in terms of human lives
and American lives.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: I did not write down every time Hillary Clinton said I take
responsibility today, but it was several times.
REID: Yes. And, the problem for that argument for, of course, Marco
Rubio, who is a neoconservative and is running for the neoconservative wing
of the party is that his predecessor neoconservative George W. Bush has
been getting that same argument thrown at him by one, Donald Trump, that
the bus stops at the top. He has to take responsibility for 9/11. So,
that is the problem and the flaw in his argument.
O`DONNELL: Let us listen to what Jeb Bush said about it -- about the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEB BUSH, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I did not see much of it, but she is
not accepting responsibility. Two weeks ago in the debate, she said that
Libya was a great example of smart power. Well, I think it is in total
chaos now, and leading from behind was not the best way to deal with this
problem. And, the security problems that exist created a tragedy of four
American lives lost. And, so this was not a great day for the Clinton
Department of State for sure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: What he meant was, "I did not see the part where she accepted
ROBINSON: Where she accepted responsibility. And, not only that, he has
not been paying attention at all for the last three years, because she has
accepted responsibility immediately.
ROBINSON: And, this has never been any question. She has never tried to
avoid -- I mean you just cannot say that, that she has not taken
O`DONNELL: Yes. And, we got a new poll here, the democratic field in Iowa
with Ben Carson pushing ahead of Donald Trump. It is here somewhere. Put
it up on the screen. We will read the numbers off the screen. Ben Carson
in Iowa is now at 28 to Donald Trump`s humiliating 20. Joy Reid, look at
that. That is outside the margin of error.
O`DONNELL: That is Quinnipiac. That is a real poll.
O`DONNELL: What is he going to say about that?
REID: And, you know what? And, there has already been an incident where
Team Trump has had to retract the tweet they threw --
REID: -- an intern under the bus for -- for sort of --
O`DONNELL: We happen to have that tweet.
O`DONNELL: Because it is about -- it is about, "These stupid people of
Iowa, who are thinking this."
O`DONNELL: He retweeted apparently one of these things that says, "Ben
Carson is now leading in the polls in Iowa. Too much Monsanto in the corn
creates issues in the brain."
REID: He says they have brain damage.
O`DONNELL: So, Donald -- You know, he is fine with that. And, then he got
the tweet taken down or something. And, then of course blamed the intern.
REID: Blamed the intern.
ROBINSON: Blamed the intern.
O`DONNELL: Young intern, who accidentally did a retweet. Now, Donald
Trump, I mean I got to say, of all the people in his position, it cannot be
more clear who is running his Twitter. It is Donald Trump.
REID: It is Donald Trump.
O`DONNELL: Those are his fingers. It is so such uniquely crazy Twitter
feed. There is only one brain that can do that.
REID: Clearly, the interns are probably fighting to be the one -- the
terrified one to go to try to take the phone away.
O`DONNELL: But, so, this is Iowa coming to its senses of sorts, Gene.
ROBINSON: I would not say that. I would not say that.
O`DONNELL: What would you say then?
ROBINSON: Well, no. Have you listened to Ben Carson? What he has been
saying lately? I mean, it is the evangelicals in Iowa, I think.
ROBINSON: Ben Carson is a man of deep and abiding faith. And, he projects
that. He talks about that. They get that in Iowa. I think the republican
primary voters and evangelicals play a huge role in that state. And, I
think they are gravitating to him. And, will likely stick. I mean Ben
Carson certainly could win Iowa.
REID: And, by the way, there is also some good old fashion politics too.
I mean, Ben Carson is raising incredible amounts of money. He has the most
actual individual donors of any of the republican candidates.
He has raise more money than Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and I think one of the
third place person, Chris Christie or whoever combined, $20 million. And,
he has now two Super PACs working on his behalf. So, Ben Carson at least,
as far as, Iowa goes is actually probably the favorite.
O`DONNELL: Yes, but speaking --
ROBINSON: Now, Rick Santorum has won from Iowa, and a lot of the
republican nominees have not won Iowa.
O`DONNELL: Right. Right. All right, quick break and we are back with
O`DONNELL: The Super PAC that Team Trump set up is closing down. You know
the Super PAC that he claimed he did not have? Listen to this. Listen to
this. This is from the guy running the Super PAC. "Mr. Trump has said,
he does not have a Super PAC. So, to honor his wishes, I am shutting my
O`DONNELL: Now, if he does not have a Super PAC, then they do not have to
shut down anything, right? I mean, in other words, he does not have a
Super PAC in order to make that that true.
O`DONNELL: "I am going to shut down his Super PAC."
REID: Yes. What is really amazing, just about everyone sort of in the
orbit of Donald Break, is this breathless reverence with which everyone
speaks about Mr. Trump, even the Super PAC is sort of cowed under his
majesty. You know, I do not know how he would dane to just be president,
because no one is going to kiss up to him in that way.
ROBINSON: Yes. But, the Trump universe, the laws of causality may not
O`DONNELL: Yes. Yes. But, that was -- you know, look, I mean that was a
week-long story for him. Hey, wait, there is really a Super PAC.
O`DONNELL: He said there is no Super PAC.
O`DONNELL: Then it turns out there is a Super PAC, but then they get rid
of it. So, I mean it is the right move.
ROBINSON: But if he had one, it would be huge. It would be fabulous. It
would be the best Super PAC you have ever seen.
O`DONNELL: Right. Let us listen to what Eric Cantor said today on the BBC
where a lot of voters are listening, about Donald Trump. -- We do not have
it. Actually, I have it on paper here.
He said, "I would not say Trump is reflective of the Republican Party. He
is not a conservative. A lot of the Tea Party issues out there and the
agenda that they are pursuing, they are more populist radicals than they
are conservatives." So, there he is, Joy, in one shot taking on Donald
Trump and the Tea Party.
REID: He spoken like a guy who got beaten by a Tea Party candidate, you
O`DONNELL: Yes. Yes.
REID: -- and unseated from his post. And, yes, I think that there is a
lot of anger and consternation. And, I have experienced it just talking
with republicans from sort of to the old school wing of the party.
They are really shocked and alarmed that the Trump phenomenon. do not know
what to make of it, and so, just attacking it as sort of some option of the
tea Party is kind of way to go.
But, the problem with that is that these are their voters that are siding
with Trump in these polls. This is the republican base that was in large
part encouraged and called by people like Eric Cantor to help them win in
ROBINSON: Right. But, I guess they got sold a bill of goods. Right? We
are going to repeal Obamacare.
ROBINSON: We are going to do this. We are going to do that.
REID: We are going to use Benghazi to take down Hillary Clinton.
ROBINSON: All the stuff they needed they could not do.
O`DONNELL: Ben Carson who is now actually technically on a book tour, not
on a campaign for president. Apparently, that is how he describes his
activities for the next couple of weeks. He was in Missouri today.
He was talking about the hearing, the Benghazi hearing today, says he does
not think it is partisan at all. He says, you know, he is glad she finally
got around to answering some questions. Obviously, he did not see a minute
ROBINSON: No. Apparently, not. No, he did not, I think -- He is on a
REID: Yes. But, I think he stated that has seen enough of it that he
believes Hillary Clinton -- I think he said that Hillary Clinton will be in
jail, should be in prison, so therefore.
ROBINSON: He did say that, actually.
O`DONNELL: Yes. And, then there is Trump who is always saying, well, you
know, if she can continue to be a candidate.
O`DONNELL: As if, you know, the FBI is coming with handcuffs any day now.
REID: Any moment.
O`DONNELL: But, that seems to be, though -- they have amped up their
audiences so high on this that, that is what has to make today such a
disappointing day for their audiences, because that big moment did not
REID: And, I think you cannot talk about the Benghazi hearings without
talking about their origin stories, which really was in a conspiracy theory
that bubbled up among the base. And, just like a lot of the things that
have happened in the house of representatives with republicans in control,
the base is leading them rather than the other way around. They had to do
ROBINSON: Yes. Well, they thought they had to do these hearings. It
turns out they did not.
REID: Joy Reid, Eugene Robinson, thank you both very much for joining us
REID: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: We will be right back.
O`DONNELL: Chris Christi is now being sued by a nurse. Guess whose side I
am on. That is next.
O`DONNELL: Casey Hickox, the Doctors Without Borders`s nurse, who Chris
Christie forces into quarantine after she treated Ebola patients in West
Africa sued Chris Christie today for imprisoning her against her will.
Casey Hickox is seeking $250,000 in compensatory in punitive damages.
Former State Health Commissioner Mary O`Dowd and other health department
employees, are also named in the lawsuit.
The suit claims Hickox was illegally held after arriving at Newark
International Airport, October 24, 2014 for three days and improperly
heated isolation tent. Hickox tested negative and showed no signs of
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CASEY HICKOX, NURSE WHO FILED LAWSUIT AGAINST CHRIS CHRISTIE: When you
choose to detain someone out of fear, then that is discrimination. And, it
is not based on any constitutional law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Chris Christie`s office said they could not comment on pending
legal matters, but they will be able to settle, which they eventually will,
because they will not dare take this case in front of a jury.
Chris Hayes continues our live coverage next.
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