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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

June 18, 2013
Guests: Cecile Richards, Willie Parker


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The chair recognizes the gentleman from American
Somolia, Mr. --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, it is American Samoa.


in Congress is the guy who ignored that he has just been called Mr.
Falumabinga (ph) who is willing to let that ride, but he stands up for
where he is from. Get Samoa, right? With total poise, Representative
(INAUDIBLE), you are the best natured man in Congress and that act of
restraint on your part is the best new thing in the world.

Now it is time for "THE LAST WORD." Have a great night.

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC ANCHOR: Bad science, check, anti-women, check, no
chance of ever being taken up by the Senate? Check. Your tax dollars at
work in John Boehner`s House of Representatives.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The abortion debate is hitting a fever pitch on the

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: The House is expected to vote tonight.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: For what is being called the most
restrictive abortion bill.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Controversy on new restriction that will go
against Roe v. Wade.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Congressman, the bill sponsor --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Incidents are great resulting in pregnancy are very

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Will not be leading the debate today.
Representative Frank has apologized.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: The co-sponsor from Marsha Blackburn of
Tennessee will be in charge.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a very narrowly drafter bill.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It deals specifically with these late-term abortions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, 1.5 percent of abortions that take place after 20

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is at stake for the Republicans in this effort?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why all Republicans still going down this room.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Picking a fight, even though they know they
won`t win.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is what the base really wants.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is a base they have to pander to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Is this really pandering?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely not. I can`t believe it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is a very calculated, cynical and insidious thing
that the Republicans have done.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s what matters in their constituents and their

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is really out touch. Not insulting to women.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is one of those issues where science is on our

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is totally not grounded in science.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Public opinion is on our side.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Roe v. Wade is supported by 70 percent of Americans.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They hope to create their own reality, their own set
of science.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Bleep) you science.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Unfortunately, they can`t stop talking about rape.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it is a legitimate rape.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Incidents are great resulting in pregnancy are very

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The female body has ways to try to shut that whole
thing down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can`t believe it.



WAGNER: Good evening, I`m Alex Wagner, in for Lawrence.

Today, the Republican-controlled House passed one of the most restrictive
abortion bills in a decade. With a vote of 228 to 196, the House approved
the pain-capable unborn child protection act which would ban most abortions
after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Current law under Roe v. Wade protects a
woman`s right to an abortion, up until the fetus is viable outside the
womb, which is usually around 24 weeks, six Republicans voted against the
bill, six Democrats voted for the bill.


REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE: So often we come to the floor and we
will hear members say we are doing this for the children or that for the
children. And I have tell you this is one of those days that we truly can
stand and say yes, indeed. We are taking an action that will enable so
many children to enjoy that first guarantee. That guarantee to life.

about that when they tune in to see the debate on the bills that are going
no place? Do they think, well, here it is, just another day in the life of
the majority-controlled, Republican-controlled Congress.

Instead, we are debating legislation that endangers women`s health and that
disrespects the judgment of the American women and their doctors on how to
make judgments about women`s health.


WAGNER: The bill was sponsored by Arizona Republican Trent Frank and was
approved by an all-male subcommittee panel. Last week, 20 men and zero
women on the House judiciary committee approved the bill for a full-house
vote. It was at that hearing that Trent Frank said this.


REP. TRENT FRANK (R), ARIZONA: Before when my friends on the left side of
the aisle here tried to make rape and incest the subject, because you know,
the incidents of rape and resulting in pregnancy are very low.


WAGNER: Two days later the bill was amended to include exclusions for rape
or incest as long as the cases are reported to law enforcement before an
abortion is sought. Perhaps comprehending the messaging problem inherent
and having an all-male committee move forward with the ban on reproductive
rights, once sponsored by an armed chair gynecologist disguising himself as
the conservative lawmaker, the Republican party enlisted Congresswoman
Marsha Blackburn to take the lead from Trent Frank.


REP. STEVE ISRAEL (D), NEW YORK: Ma`am speaker, on your House practice of
procedure, is it not customary for someone on the committee of the
jurisdiction to manage time on the floor? Or is it because the Republicans
have no women on the House Judiciary Committee that the gentlewoman from
Tennessee manages the time on the floor?


WAGNER: Republicans alleged that this bill will protect women from doctors
like Kermit Gosnell, who was convicted last month for illegally performing
late-term abortions.


BLACKBURN: What we are seeking to do is fight for Kermit Gosnells and the
job Carpins and to end the practice of late-term abortions, which killing
the babies, which is harming women. What we are saying is science is on
our side. The public opinion is on our side on this.


WAGNER: But, as usual, science is not on the side of the Grand Ole Party.
The American Congress of Obstetrician and Gynecologists, the American
Medical Women Association, made up of people who are actually familiar with
the reproductive process, unlike saying most Republicans in Congress, and
ten other medical groups has written a letter opposing the bill. And a
scientific review of fetal pain, one published in the journal of medical,
found that fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester.

Joining me now, Planned Parenthood federation of America president, Cecile
Richards, and Doctor Willy Parker, and OB-GYN who was on the board of
physicians for Reproductive health. He is also the associate medical
director of planning family associations in Chicago.

Thank you, both, for joining us.

Cecile, I would like to go to you first here. And there is something
comedically futile about the efforts among the House Republican caucus, but
there is something dangerous and thus assert to (ph). And this is part of
a systemic attempt to roll back women`s reproductive rights and also attack
Roe V. Wade, is it not?

Absolutely, and as you said earlier, it is the most extreme bill that
passed in Congress in more than a decade. It is so ironic to hear
Congresswoman Blackburn, who reports to be supporting women, look, she has
done more to undermine women`s rights, someone whose access to health care,
is that anyone I know of in Congress. Not only did she push through this
bill tonight, but she voted against the violence against women act, she
voted against equal pay for women, she is the sponsor of the bill that
would end women`s ability to go to planned parenthood for basic cancer
screening and for birth control, and now she actually wants to push through
a bill that makes sure insurance companies would deny women access to birth
control which you would think have a lot of a problems in the first place.

WAGNER: It could cut down on unwanted pregnancy.

Dr. Parker, as a medical professional, what are the implications of the
bill? I mean, it doesn`t look like it will actually go anywhere, but
practically speaking, what does it do to women seeking an abortion, a
difficult decision, what does it mean for health care professionals in the
industry of obstetrics and gynecology?

will represents the ability of politics to trap medicine. As a physician,
we advised abortion care to my patients who opted in difficult
circumstance. This bill would stand between me and my patient who would
interfere with the doctor-patient relationship. It basically disrespects
women, but it basically says the that health of women doesn`t matter. So
it is a problem on multiple levels.

WAGNER: Problematic is probably (INAUDIBLE), right?

Cecile, you and I were speaking earlier today. And you are a daughter of
Texas and there is trouble of foot in the Lone Star state, if you are a
woman, look, if you are a woman period, but especially if you are a low
income woman and you need health care and you need access to reproductive
health services.

And if passed, a bill -- the state Texas state legislature would require
abortion facilities to have the same standards as ambulatory surgical
systems, which would end up closing all but five of the states abortion
clinic. That is an apocalyptic picture for women in the state of Texas.

RICHARDS: Well, that`s right. And actually, Alex, what is happening at
the state is not just Texas. I mean, we are seeing in Ohio right now.
They are looking at a budget that would essentially end women`s ability to
go to Planned Parenthood for even basic health care. It would prevent rape
crisis centers from advising women and referring them if they want to
potentially terminate a pregnancy.

We are seeing these bills passed all across the country. And so again, it
is much more than what just passed Congress. And in fact, we saw, I
mentioned earlier today, one of the most extreme bills in Kansas, which
literally allows doctors, that is going into effect in two weeks, allows
doctors to lie to their patients about annual synthesis results, if they
believe it would an impact a woman`s decision about her pregnancy.

This is the kind of, as Dr. Parker says, this is literally politicians
getting between women and her doctors about making very private, personal
medical decisions.

WAGNER: It is the very dictionary definition of government overreach.

Dr. Parker, you know, I don`t think -- there is a lot of sort of general
theories about women who seek abortions. But there is very little actual
discussion about the realities of that process and the economic
implications of it.

And there was a great "New York Times" magazine story a couple of weeks ago
that highlighted the research of Diana Green Foster who found that women
who were denied abortion were three times as likely to end up below the
poverty line two years later. There are economic, direct economic
implications of not having the right to choose.

PARKER: Absolutely, but the reality is any woman can have an unplanned,
unwanted pregnancy. And even if that pregnancy is going well, it can all
of a sudden take a turn for the worse. That is the immediate impact. The
fact that disproportionately, women who have unplanned, unwanted
pregnancies are often in poverty, they often lack access to health care,
they lack medically accurate sex education. And so all of these things
compound to keep those women in poverty and to make sure that if that woman
can`t manage that pregnancy appropriately, whether she has the right
support or even if she is not allowed to terminate, that means that the
child that she would give birth to starts off behind the 8-ball in poverty
and with the same circumstances that plagued that child`s mother.

WAGNER: Cecile, I don`t mean to be on a tear against Texas, by any means.
I think it is a great state with a lot of wonderful people from it. But
Michael Burgess, the Republican from Texas, had one of the outlandish
things that was said on the floor of the House today that was said by him.
And I want to play a little bit of Michael Burgess explaining his support
for this though. Let`s take a listen.


REP. MICHAEL BURGESS (R), TEXAS: (INAUDIBLE) of 15-week baby, they have
movements that are purposeful. They stroke their face. If they`re a male
baby they may have their hand between their legs, they feel pleasure. Why
is it so hard to think they could feel pain?


WAGNER: I mean, I literally, all I can say is please react to that.
Please, what did you think when you heard that?

RICHARDS: I can`t even dignify, then I choose not to tweet that out
because it seems to me just -- you know, I am a Texan, and I want to defend
my state. I think it is full of reasonable people. Unfortunately, not all
of them are in the state legislature.

But, I think, look. What -- the serious thing about these is we can laugh
about this and we can say these bills are actually unconstitutional. But,
the truth is a lot of people are getting hurt. And Texas is a good example
where Governor Perry has cut more than 100,000 women off of basic
preventive health care, and having nothing to do with abortion, literally,
birth control, cancer screening. He is on his own a complete political
mission, his owned political mission that is absolutely devastating to the
women of Texas. And that is why we have to get serious about this.

WAGNER: His owned strange horrible, very pariah mission.

Cecile Richards, and Dr. Willy Parker, thank you both for joining me
tonight and thanks for your time.

Coming up, why is John Boehner bringing bills to the floor that won`t
become law but insisting on stopping ones that might?

Joy Reid and E.J. Dionne will join me.

And Darrell Issa`s attempt to keep America in the dark about the IRS have
been foiled. We now have the transcript of the IRS interview that Darrell
Issa didn`t want America to see. What is in them? Exactly what we

After that, an exploration into exactly how what Republicans justify
cutting funds forces death.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The new poll found that the president`s approval rating
dropped eight points in the last month, and based on he has done so far, we
can actually see what Obama`s future ratings will be. Next week, his
approval ratings will go up three point, let`s see why. Obama makes it
illegal for your friends to post photos of your friend`s baby on facebook.
In July, it will drop five points, let`s see why. Obama hires Ms. Utah as
speech writer. And finally in August, his approval ratings will rise 12
points, let`s see why. Obama appoints Ryan Gosling a secretary of


WAGNER: Up next, speaker John Boehner`s popularity inside his own party.
Joy Reid and E.J. Dionne join me.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Speaker John Boehner, Representative
Rohrabacher said that if you bring immigration reform to the floor without
support of the GOP conference, you will lose your job. Do you that`s



WAGNER: House speaker John Boehner doesn`t plan to risk his speakership on
immigration reform.


BOEHNER: I don`t see any way of bringing an immigration bill to the floor
that doesn`t have the majority support of Republicans. The Senate bill is
weak on border security. I think the internal enforcement mechanisms are
weak, and the triggers are almost laughable. And so if they`re serious
about getting an immigration bill finished, I think the president, the
Democrats ought to reach out to their Republican colleagues to build broad
bipartisan support for the bill.


WAGNER: Here is a reaction from a Republican colleague in the Senate.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: He is the leader of the House,
let them pass their version, let us pass ours and see if we conference.
Anybody who thinks you are going to pass the bill without (INAUDIBLE), we
have 70 percent of support, among the population, (INAUDIBLE) including
Republicans, I just think he is misjudging the time.


WAGNER: And here is a reaction from a Republican on the far right fringe.


RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: If one of the main reasons for
passing the gang of eight immigration bill is so Republicans can prove that
they don`t hate Hispanics, then what is next? Are the Republicans going to
have to support gay marriage to prove that they don`t hate gays? And then
are the Republicans going to have to support affirmative action that they
don`t hate blacks? What do we have to do to make the women do to realize
we don`t hate them? Change our attitude on abortion? When is this stuff


WAGNER: Joining me now, MSNBC`s Joy Reid and "the Washington Post," E.J.

Joy, let us start first with that choice sound from Rush-bo, is it subjects
being -- I mean, yes, we, memo to the Republican Party. Remember we`re the
party of angry white people. I mean, honestly, you want to say yes, Rush,
you do need to change your position on all of those issues.

JOY-ANN REID, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It is yes, yes, yes, and indeed,
yes. That is the answer, Rush. You figured it out. This is hysterical,
and the person I really have to say this one I pity, is got to be Lindsey
Graham. You have to feel sorry for Lindsey Graham. Because Lindsey Graham
gets it, but he knows he has to do this, but he knows he also is probably
get primaried from the right. But, I am one of these angry white guys
coming from his state, that saying, how dare you let all the illegals come
into the country? And they will understand that this basis is dragging
down man. It is dragging their party, but they can`t stop themselves.

WAGNER: You know, E. J., for a long time we talked about the position the
president with in. And how difficult it was because he had no one he could
play ball with on the right because speaker Boehner was so very weak.

And now, you almost feel sorry for moderate Republican like John McCain and
Lindsey Graham who are trying to pass meaningful reform in Congress and
have speaker of the House who seemed unbelievably.

And I will draw your attention to a profile in "Politico," not but just a
few weeks ago, where Boehner said you`re missing my style, all right? I
don`t need to be out there beating the drum every day. My job as a leader
is to build the team, encourage the members, help provide leadership to my
members and committee chairs and let the institution work. It doesn`t need
the heavy hand of the speaker all over everything. What do you make of
that, E. J.?

E.J. DIONNE, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: I`m trying to think if that
is the statement of a leader or a guy who just keeps score during the
basketball game, or even the coach.

But look, Boehner is in a very difficult position. You know what struck me
about his statement today, at one point he said I have no plans to do this.
There is a pattern here. The pattern is that John Boehner says no, I won`t
make a deal. No, I wouldn`t bring up a bill that doesn`t get a majority of
the Republicans to vote for it. And then on certain issues after saying
all of that, he then brings up a bill like the Sandy aide bill, like the
tax bill at the beginning of the year and lets it pass with Democratic
votes. So, I didn`t see that statement today as anything but a negotiating
posture, as much with his own right wingers as with the Democrats.

WAGNER: Isn`t that -- I mean, Joy, the only word that comes to mind is
fairly pathetic, given the fact this is his own caucus? I mean, Boehner is
now violated the Hastert rule three time by our count on the Sandy relief
bill, on the fiscal cliff and the violence against women`s act. He has
gotten gruff from his party. But this is, as E.J. says, this is the
playbook. Nobody is getting the head fake here. So why even bother with
it? Why not just try and have a legacy that stands the test of time and do
the meaningful immigration reform?

REID: Yes. No, you are absolutely right. And the only way the John
Boehner could stop being the weakest speaker in modern memory, would be the
face down his members, especially the freshman and says, you`re going to go
along with me, or I`m going to go to that lady, Nancy Pelosi, and she will
give me a vote. So either you are going to work with me or I`m going to
get to (INAUDIBLE) votes for or I`m going to get the votes from the
Democrats. That would be a strong speaker.

But instead, John Boehner is like the guy who can`t control his preschool
class and so he just decided to let them play because it is too hard to get
them to read. I mean, look. And they say is Rush Limbaugh is saying
you`re just going to make a whole bunch of ten million new Democrats.

We`re talking 13 years. Republicans don`t think that in 13 years it will
take folks to get the pathway to get the citizenship that they can figure
out decent issues that Hispanics can vote for? That is pathetic.

WAGNER: You know, and E.J., to Joy`s point, I mean, this is a long-term
game, right? I mean, the Republicans probably have to make -- feel some
short-term pain, perhaps, to get the long-term benefits. But the long-term
benefits are there. That said, I am very skeptical that the Republican
Party gets through this immigration reform process without sort of knee-
capping itself among Hispanics and minorities. I mean, Steve King tweeted
out the other day, to when a bunch of dreamers came to the hill to make
their case for immigration reform, Steve King tweets, 20 brazen self-
possessed illegal aliens have just invaded my D.C. office. Obama`s lawless
order gives them de facto immunity from the law.

He didn`t talk about the UFOs that were landing on Capitol Hill. But the
ring is around that isn`t exactly inclusive.

DIONNE: No. And I think you have seen this over and over again, that a
lot of Latino voters are not turned off only by this issue on issues, but
by the way the Republicans talk about them, I mean, that term "Aliens."
But I think there is another thing going here which is I think there is a
conflict between the average Republican House member who represents a
district with very few Latinos, very few Republicans represent many
Latinos. Most of them will vote against immigration reform. Then, there
is a party interest in repairing its image with Latinos.

I think that what is going to matter in the House is not that most
Republicans vote for the bill, but that a whole lot of Republicans decide
we`re going to have to pass this. I`m going to let John Boehner bring it
to the floor. And if it passes, I think that is what is going to happen.

BLACKBURN: We shall see, watch this space carefully.

Joy Reid and E.J. Dionne, thank you, both, for joining me tonight.

DIONNE: Great to be with you.

WAGNER: This morning, we lost a friend and colleague. Writer and reporter
Michael Hastings died in a car accident in Los Angeles earlier today. He
was 33. Michael`s most recently worked for "buzz feed," although you can
find his timeline in a number of great publications including "Rolling
Stone" and you could his face on a number of channels including this one.
Michael was brash, he was funny, and he was fearless, and he will be



targeting of the president`s political enemies, effectively, and lies about
it during the election year so that it was not discovered until afterwards.


WAGNER: Never let the facts get in the way of a good story. That was a
super serious charge House oversight committee chair Darrell Issa made
against the Obama White House regarding the IRS is handling of the tea
party applications for 501c4 tax exempt status. It is a kind of serious
wrong doing and potentially criminal activity that the committee would want
to ask about when it interviewed the IRS screening group manager in
Cincinnati where the 501c4 applications were processed and they did.

Question. In your opinion was the decision to screen and centralize the
review of tea party cases the targeting of the president`s political

Answer. I do not believe that the screening of these cases has anything to
do other than consistency and identifying issues that needed to have
further development. Drop Mike. Go home.

Darrell Issa refused calls to release the full transcript of that
interview. So today, ranking member Elijah Cummings did it for him.


REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D), MARYLAND: It is basically started with one man
who believed that he was doing his job. And he so happened to be a
conservative Republican that spent six hours with our committee in an

When you look at all of the -- the transcripts, there has not been one
single syllable alleging in any way that the White House was involved in
this targeting. But yet, and still, our Republican chairman and other
chairmen in the House have gone about saying there was some enemies` list
and that the administration was not being fort forthright and that they
were involved. Well, there is nothing like that?


WAGNER: So, more revealing Q&A with that same manager.

What is your party affiliation?

I am a conservative Republican.

Are you aware of any political bias by the employees in the Cincinnati
office against conservative views?

I am not aware of that.

Are you aware of any political motivations behind the screening,
centralizing and development of tea party cases?

I am not aware of that.

Do you have any reason to believe that executives in Washington directed
the screening of all tea party cases for enhanced scrutiny?

I do not.

Joining me now are Julian Epstein, a Democratic strategist and former staff
director for the House oversight committee and David Corn, Washington
bureau chief for "MOTHER JONES" and an MSNBC political analyst.

Julian, I find these transcripts revealing and I would like to read a
little bit more to the viewing public from Darrell Issa who had much to say
about the release of these transcripts.

He said, I am deeply disappointed that ranking member Cummings has decided
to broadly disseminate and post on line a 205-page transcript that will
serve as roadmap for IRS officials to navigate investigated interviews with
Congress, after unsuccessfully trying to convince the American people that
IRS officials in Washington d not play a role in inappropriate scrutiny of
tea party groups and declaring on national television that the case of IRS
targeting was solved and Congress should move on, this looks like flailing.

Julian, if anyone is flailing here it looks like it is Darrell Issa.

Right, and I think your viewers have to be reminded that Darrell Issa, in
fact, selectively released some of the other transcripts and cherry-picked
information to make his case, which now looks like it is falling apart.

And while, I think, we can say we don`t have all the information here yet,
Alex, we do have most of the essential information, including what really
is a smoking gun. And the smoking gun has turned out to be a big dud.

A Republican career staffer inside the Cincinnati office of the IRS saying
he was the one initiating the targeting. All of this references to
Washington officials inside the IRS turn out to be according to this
Republican staffer who initiated the targeting, they all turned out to be
the technical unit inside the IRS to ensure that guess what? That cases
were handled efficiently.

And furthermore, we learned that to the extent that this issue got to the
higher-ups inside the IRS, that they were told not once, but twice to stop
the targeting. This is all information that the inspector general found.
It is all now being confirmed by this most important witness, the single
most important witness in this investigation.

I think at the end of the day, Darrell Issa is not only going to owe an
apology to the president, not only to Jay Carney who he called a liar in a
very reckless way, but he is probably has to apologize to the Republicans
for bringing them down yet another rabbit hole here, without any ability,
after all of this great promises that they were going to turn out the
scandal without any ability to turn up the goods.

This is a huge embarrassment to Issa and as a huge embarrassment to the
committee and it reinforces this narrative that Republicans can`t really
govern. They sure can`t do oversight.

WAGNER: David Corn, you know, when you read the full transcript, it is
clear how desperate they are to find something, anything that smells
suspicious. And I want to read this exchange.

The IRS official is asked, OK, sir, I`m sure you have heard the notion that
this is all a result of two rogue employees in Cincinnati. Do you agree
with that assessment? The IRS official says I do not know of any rogue
employee located in Cincinnati. The questioner goes back, could you
expound on that. The IRS official says, I would really need to know the
definition of what a quote "rogue employee " is. I do not know any rogue
employees in Cincinnati.

David, there is no there, there.

DAVID CORN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, if you have made it through
205 pages of this, I commend you because I`m only through the first 100
pages and the trouble staying awake. These are not the Watergate tapes.
It is full of information about the EO technical division, the EO
directives, buckets here and there, where they put case files in.

I mean, Julian got it right. If anything, it proves that there was nothing
like the narrative that Darrell Issa was describing. But let`s remember,
it is not just little old Darrell Issa on his own. You had Dave Kemp, the
head of the Republican chairman of the ways and means committee, saying we
know this didn`t originate in Cincinnati. Oops. And then, you had Hal
Rogers, the head of the House appropriation committee, oh yes, another
Republican, saying that the White House had an enemy`s list and this was
part of it.

So, these guys are making Rick Perry look smart. I mean, this is far
beyond oops. They have been out there for weeks, for months, trying to gin
up the scandal that doesn`t exist. And it is not just Darrell Issa that is
going to owe President Obama and Jay Carney an apology. It is really the
whole lot of them. They owe the whole American public apology for wasting
their time on this. It was a real issue, what happened in Cincinnati was
wrong and mistakes were made in the classic phrase, but they were mistakes
made at a pretty low level, don`t track back to the White House. They
deserve responsible oversight, not the circus or the clown show that
Darrell Issa has presided over.

EPSTEIN: And that is the essential point, Alex. It is not just that there
is no information at all. Inconsistent with what the Republicans have
said, that there is any trace whatsoever to the White House or the Obama
political or campaign staff. It is that this has been a pattern.

Remember in the case of fast and furious, this committee held un-themed
hearings, at least state hearings, they held the attorney general in
contempt. They did all kinds of reckless charges. And then, we found out
that Eric Holder was the person who discovered the gun walking in Mexico.
He was the person who removed responsible officials. He is the person that
got an investigation going and he was ultimately exonerated by the
inspector general, notwithstanding all the reckless arguments that were
made by this committee and statements about Eric Holder that were made by
this committee.

And the same thing on the Benghazi matter. We found out at the end of the
day that it is the CIA and FBI that didn`t want to identify specific terror
suspects for legitimate reasons.

WAGNER: You know, but David.

Is this supposed -- I mean, are conservatives even capable of the apology
at this point? Rush Limbaugh says today well, on this business, well,
Obama didn`t tell people at the IRS to do it. Their manager doesn`t tell
the pitcher to throw a brush back pitch after one of his get beamed, the
pitcher just knows to do it. I mean, there is still this contention out
there that President Obama is sending brain waves to his minions to target
the conservatives.

CORN: And particularly, those conservatives Republican minions working at
the IRS in Cincinnati, the hotbed of aggressive activism in Cincinnati.

You know, I`m reminded of the last great line in the great Hitchcock film
"White Boat," when they throw the Nazi German traitor over the boat and a
tool of bank heads say something what are you going to do with people like

You know, you can`t just go into the FOX world and make people see reason.
You can`t have Rush Limbaugh ever say look, we got this wrong. Let`s move
on to something else. This is part of the narrative. And they keep
saying, well you ,know if we get the facts wrong, there is still a
credibility issue at the White House, there is still is a pattern there.
There is a very troublesome, worry-some pattern. Well, the pattern is just
the series of fabrication that the House Republicans are making up because
they have nothing better to do with their time because they sure are not
governing. And they would rather do this than get close to the immigration

WAGNER: It is a cold, cold world, where truth is in hibernation.

Julian Epstein and David Corn, thank you both for joining me tonight.

CORN: Thank you.

EPSTEIN: Thank you, Alex.

WAGNER: Coming up, the NSA makes its case for surveillance. And exquisite
hypocrisy from Congressmen who call themselves fiscally conservative. What
Guantanamo Bay has to do with food stamp, coming up.



on the right were -- there`s a Republic president, but now, you know, Obama
is coming in with the black helicopters.


WAGNER: That was President Obama last night responding to a question about
the NSA surveillance operation. This is what happened today at the House
hearing on the very same subject.


REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: Has the NSA ever tracked any
political enemies of the administration, whether it is a Republican
administration or democratic administration? Have either of the
administrations, you said you`re 100 percent audible, so you would know
this answer to this question. Have you ever tracked the members of the
opposite political side?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In my time, it didn`t say. No, Ma`am.


WAGNER: More on the NSA debate when Ari Melber joins me coming up.

But next, members of Congress who would rather spend money for speeding
detainee at Gitmo than paying for school lunches in the United States.


WAGNER: Last week in a highly under-reported and under-discussed moment in
American politics, House Republicans voted to keep spending nearly one
million dollars a year on every prisoner incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay.

Amendment number 20 to the national defense reauthorization act of 2014 was
sponsored by the Democratic Congressman Adam Smith of Washington State.
Congressman Smith`s amendment would have provided a framework for closing
the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay. It also perhaps would have
signaled the beginning of the end of one of the most shameful periods of
the post-9/11 era.

On Friday night, the amendment to close Gitmo was defeated by a vote of 174
to 249. While 21 Democrats voted to keep Guantanamo open for business, the
amendment was unquestionably killed with Republican knives. Two hundred
and twenty-eight members of the Grand Ole Party voted against it.

Among the many outlandish examples of Republican hypocrisy that the country
is treated to weekly, if not daily basis, the failure of the Adam Smith`s
amendment stands out in particular.

Despite all the bluster and all the posturing is no nonsense penny
pinchers, the party of fiscal hawks voted to continue to import judges,
lawyers, observers, reporters, meals, construction materials and basically
anything else you might ever need while in Cuba, to the tune of 903,614 per
prisoner per year. In case you were wondering, locking someone up at a
super max prison in the United States costs at most, 60 to $70,000 a year.
And in case you had forgotten, 86 of the prisoners at Gitmo had been
cleared for release because they had not been found guilty of any crime.

For the last several months, in protests of this inhumane and decisively
un-American incarceration, 104 of the Gitmo prisoners have been starving
themselves as part of a hunger strike. For some of them, today marks the
128th day of that strike.

And yet, at the same time that the Republican penny pinchers shut down the
effort to stop spending millions and millions of dollars to continue
imprisoning men who have not yet been charged with anything, at the same
time, tonight Republicans have gone forward with the plan to cut funding
for food stamps.

This week, the House will vote on its version of the farm bill. Which,
among many other things cuts farm and nutrition programs by nearly $40
billion over the next decade. According to "The New York Times," just over
half of that, $20.5 billion would come from cut to the supplemental
nutrition assistance program, or as we know them, food stamps. These cuts,
embraced by House Republicans, including speaker of the House, John
Boehner, will cut basic food assistance for two million Americans. The
people who will be hardest hit are poor working families with children and
senior citizens.

Precisely for those reasons, President Obama has threatened a veto if the
bill containing those cuts makes it to his desk. But how, how on earth can
the Republican party justify its breath-taking hypocrisy, according to
Representative Stephen Fincher of Tennessee`s eight district, this is how
you justify it.


REP. STEPHEN FINCHER (R), TENNESSEE: If the law says that the poor will
always be with us, and it also says if you don`t work, you don`t eat,
(INAUDIBLE), the role of citizens, of Christians, of humanity is to take
care of each other. But not for Washington to steal for money from locals
in the country and give it to others in the country.


WAGNER: In reality, the bible says nothing about Washington, D.C., nor
does it caveat which neighbors to love and when to help them. In reality,
there is no justification for the deception and the equivocation of this
modern Republican Party. Instead, their actions are rooted in the
desperate hope that the people rotting in prison stay there, and that the
men and women going hungry remain weak enough to stay quite.


WAGNER: You may have noticed Lawrence O`Donnell is not here tonight, and
here is why. This is a photograph Lawrence tweeted from Malawi. It is
truck loaded with desk that are being delivered to schools in Malawi where
most school children sit on the floor. Thanks to generous donations by
many of you through the kind fund, these desks are made in Malawi and being
delivered to schools in Malawi. Look for more pictures from Lawrence on
"THE LAST WORD" Facebook page and you can learn more about the kids in need
of desks program at the

Up next, the NSA defends its telephone surveillance program.


WAGNER: On Capitol Hill today, the House intelligence committee heard
testimony from NSA director, General Keith Alexander, who says that 50
different terrorist plots have been stopped because of the NSA surveillance
program. Officials have made four of those cases public and say the
remainder will remain classified. NSA director Alexander argued that if
these cases are compromised, if these programs are compromised, the nation
could face a greater terrorist threat.


GEN. KEITH ALEXANDER, NSA DIRECTOR: I have concerns that the intentional
and irresponsible release of classified information about these programs
will have a long and irreversible impact on our nation`s security and on
that of our allies. I want to emphasize that the foreign intelligence is
the best counter -- the foreign intelligence programs that we`re talking
about is the best counterterrorism tools that we have to go after these
guys. We can`t lose the capabilities.


WAGNER: Director Alexander, who calls the program, limited and focused,
then turned to his deputy to lay out the government`s argument as to how
the NSA uses these programs while protecting American privacy. Here is a
portion of the exchange concerning tracking phone calls.


CHRIS INGLIS, NSA DEPUTY DIRECTOR: The first program executed under
section 215 of the patriot act authorizes the collection of telephone
metadata only. As you heard before, the metadata is only the telephone
numbers and contact, the time and date of the call and duration of this
call. Now, this authority does not, therefore, allow the government to
listen in on anyone`s telephone phone call, even that of a terrorist.


WAGNER: The NSA`s deputy director went on to discussed the other multiple
layers of oversight involved, arguing that the government has achieved the
right balance between security and privacy.

Critics of the surveillance are calling today`s House hearing nothing more
than a platform for the NSA to make its case.

Writing for salon, Natasha Leonard concluded, Tuesday`s House hearing on
the recently revealed NSA surveillance program might as well have entitled,
everything fine, stop making a scene."

NSA leaker, Edward Snowden, continues to claim the government is not
telling the truth. Asked yesterday in live chat on "the Guardian`s" Web
site, if he still stand by his claim that when working as an NSA
contractor, he could wiretapped anyone, he answered yes, I stand by it.

Joining me now is co-host of MSNBC`s "THE CYCLE," Ari Melber.

Ari, this is a fascinating discussion, I mean, I think no matter whether
you are a Democrat or Republican, conservative or progressive, there are no
clear lines here. And what seems to be the narrative now is, who do you
believe? Do you believe the NSA and its deputies or do you believe the
anti-hero, maybe-hero, exiled in Hong Kong?

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST, THE CYCLE: Yes. And I think part of that framing
is function of the strong support in the government for these programs.
So, we actually Republicans and Democrats in office trying to make this all
about Mr. Snowden who seems to have admitted to breaking some pretty
serious laws and that upsets a lot of people.

When though at the underlying information we have, , much of what the
government is said about this program is incomplete to the point of
misleading. In particular, Clapper has probably lied under oath to
Congress for people who care about that kind of thing. I will give you one

WAGNER: Perjury.

MELBER: Perjury, which is also a crime as we are talking about crimes in
relation to information. I`ll give you one example. Last year, under the
rules of the patriot act as expanded under a 2008 by amendments act, the
justice department reported that they did 212 business records searches.
We`ve heard that number around. We have heard the idea that is not a lot.

What was so amazing about the FISA court order that was released, it shows
that one of those searches requests went to millions of lines of what they
are calling the metadata. But as a practical matter, what it means is put
aside what kind of data is in the fancy works, what that means is it
affected millions of people and it was done through one request.

So, I have said many times in looking at this that the 212 number that was
provided to Congress was incomplete to the point of fabrication, because it
gave you the opposite impression of what was going on.

WAGNER: You need to add like six zeros to the end of --


WAGNER: -- be more accurate.

Snowden, the other interesting piece of this is that Snowden, as much as he
is maligned and called into question, the reputation of the president and
his administration, he is also not totally giving up on him. in that live
chat, he outlines a couple of provisions if he thinks the president should
put in place, including ending the state secret`s privilege calling for a
special committee to review the investigation and beginning a tradition of
having a committee examiner, an investigator examine the president`s record
after he leaves office. What do you think of those?

MELBER: I think two out of three are reasonable. The state secret`s
privilege has grown under each administration. It is a bipartisan pr-
executive branch function that basically says certain thing won`t be
litigated in court. And for those of us, myself included who are fighting
on issues of torture in Guantanamo and rendition in black sites. We all
remember the way that privilege was used by the Bush administration because
it kept torture victims out of court. That was bad for torture victim, I
think it is bad for surveillance victims. I think we have to roll those
things back and we don`t do that without public pressure.



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