THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
August 8, 2013
Guests: Dustin Lance Black, Stuart Milk, Alex Wagner, Steve Kornacki,
Charlie Savage; Dan Balz
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST, "THE LAST WORD": So guess who is
telling us to calm down tonight? The Russian sports minister. The same
guy who has already threatened Olympic athletes about engaging in quote,
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The story that has just shocked me and I`m
surprised it is not bigger.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Russia`s anti-gay laws ahead of the Olympics?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Is Russia literally rounding up homosexuals?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Yes, they crack down on gay rights ahead of next
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It is our clear position
that we oppose laws like that.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: To me, this is Germany in 1933.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: A few even calling for a boycott of the Olympics.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We must get it out of Russia.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Suddenly, a rising concern.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: The International Olympic Committee has dragged
its feet when it comes to human rights.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: He is suddenly going to be put in a very negative
light on the world stage.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Republican members of Congress are holding 14
town hall meetings.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: At issue is whether Republicans forth a
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Will you shutdown the government?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Over the implementation of Obamacare.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Republicans in Congress can stop Obamacare.
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: You will not fund Obamacare?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: They simply refuse to fund it.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Funding Obamacare is a huge mistake.
CHRIS MATTHEW, MSNBC HOST, "HARDBALL": The hard right is going to
take over the Republican Party in 2016. And the nomination is going to
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I don`t think that is happening.
MATTHEWS: You watch, this is what I do for a living.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Senator Paul is in the middle of this town hall
tour across Kentucky. Fifteen minutes of fame over --
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It`s over, I declared a truce.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: The Chris Christie back and forth --
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It`s a one way truce right now.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: There is no love lost between the United States
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: It is town hall season again.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I think that Rand Paul has a long term problem.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: This is going to be a long, hot August.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: President Obama`s meeting with Greece`s Prime Minister was
over shadowed today by reporter`s questions about Russia. Instead of
answering those questions, the President announced he will be having a
press conference tomorrow. Russia`s sport minister had two words today for
critics of Russia`s new anti-gay laws. Calm down. That is what he said.
Speaking at a news conference before the opening of the track and field
world championships in Moscow, he said, "The athletes can come and compete,
rest assured that all the athletes and all the sports organizations should
be relaxed. All the rights will be protected."
He insisted that beyond the law, Russia has quote, "A constitution
that guarantees to all citizens rights for the private life and privacy."
But Russian sports minister also insisted that athletes would, quote, "Have
to respect the laws of the country." This is the same guy who last week
said the laws would be enforced during the Olympic games in February.
Since playwright and actor Harvey Feinstein published a New York Times Op-
Ed piece about Russia`s new anti-gay laws and came on this program to
discuss it thousands have called for a boycott of the Olympics. Or to have
the IOC move the Olympics, as George Takei called for on this program last
night, pointing out that the facilities used for the 2012 winter Olympics
in Vancouver could easily handle the next Olympics.
The Oscar winning writer of Milk, Dustin Lance Black, writes in the
Hollywood reporter. Hollywood is in a unique position to lead in this
fight. There is virtually no other industry that can make a greater impact
than ours in 2012, annual box office returns for the top 50 films in Russia
topped $900 million. Nearly every one of those movies is a product of
Hollywood. Our business matters to Russia. Our voices are heard in
Russia. And the combination of these avenues of influence can absolutely
help end these dark days there. Because the truth is the other thing that
will soon be noted by Putin and LGBT Russians alike is our industry`s
silence and apathy. And LGBT Russians living in fear and putting their
lives on the line deserve better than our inaction and silence."
Joining me now for a LAST WORD exclusive, Dustin Lance Black and
Stuart Milk, nephew of gay rights leader Harvey Milk and co-founder and
president of the Milk Foundation.
Lance, I think I know what the Russians are planning here. Their
attitude is of course we won`t bother the Olympic athletes. They can do
whatever they want, they can hold hands, because we`re just going to let
them come and go with no interference. These laws we`re saving for our gay
DUSTIN LANCE BLACK, LGBT ACTIVIST: Maybe, but let`s be clear, what
they`re doing here is creating an atmosphere of fear, through harassment,
through the incredibly vague language that this law was written with. We
know gay people can`t hold hands publicly, they can`t be public about who
they are. But it is also emboldening people to go out on to the streets of
Russia and to attack, physically attack gay and lesbian people.
There are bloods on the streets, on the public streets on Russia right
now, luring young people out of their homes, via the internet, and luring
them out and beating them. Torturing them.
O`DONNELL: Making videos.
BLACK: Making videos of them, and putting them out on the internet.
What they`re doing --
O`DONNELL: Showing the videos, saying look, we found another gay
person and they feel that they have done something good.
BLACK: What the government is doing by creating this sort of law is
creating fear. What does that fear create? The closet, it creates
silence, and silence in this movement, silence for gay and lesbian people
has always equaled death. We saw that with Ronald Reagan, with his years
of silence there in the AIDS crisis. That is what this country is doing,
they`re creating fear and silence and that is, how they`re trying to beat
these people down. And let me be clear. I think this has less to do about
in truth about gay and lesbian people, and more to do with Vladimir Putin,
who is suffering politically because his country is in economic chaos. And
he is using the gay and lesbian people yet again as a distraction.
O`DONNELL: Stuart Milk, the laws refer to things like gay propaganda,
gay propaganda being any positive reference to or depiction of gay people
in anyway, specially within ear shot of children.
STUART MILK, NEPHEW OF HARVEY MILK: Lawrence, this is what we`re
seeing not just in Russia, but throughout Eastern Europe. You know, I just
got back from the Baltic States. From the back yard of Moscow. And we`ve
seen these laws come up for votes. And even European Union nations, at the
heart, these laws reflect some of the societal attitudes that we have been
working on. We have been working on the ground for half a decade in
Eastern Europe. We`ve made some progress. But we keep seeing the same --
what Lance just referred to, the same silence, when Lech Walesa, just a
couple of months ago, the Nobel Prize winner, founder of the Solidarity
Movement, when he said that LGBT people should not serve in the parliament,
and if they do they should serve behind a wall because they`re not equal
This, you know, from a Nobel Peace Prize winner in Poland, again in
Russia`s backyard, this is the type of right-wing reactionary language that
we have been hearing. And just like Lance just said, these words, not just
the laws but these words can be death to our young people. Because it
doesn`t embolden LGBT -- it doesn`t embolden people to attack our LGBT
youth. We see this national neo-Nazi movement proliferating throughout the
region. And there are solutions, there are things that we have done in
nations such as in Hungary, where I just came back to where we are seeing
But people should realize, and I think the one good thing that has
come out of this and what I feel so proud about is that the American LGBT
community and our allies have spoken out and I`ve said, this is outrageous.
And this must stop. And I think it`s important for people to realize, it
is not just Russia, it is the Belarus, it`s the Ukraine, it`s the Baltic
nations, it is throughout Eastern Europe, it`s the movement that really
needs attention and we need to be able to find solutions.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Jay Carney have to say about this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: What do you say to those who say there should be a
boycott at the Olympics over this issue?
CARNEY: I would refer you to the President`s remarks, which clearly
stated his views and our position and our expectations that it is in
Russia`s interest to ensure that the Olympics are a success.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: This is a basic human rights issue, a pretty clear
CARNEY: Yes. I think I have answered the question. The President
answered it on television. You know, the Olympics are not for a while. I
think that our view is clear. And you know, we certainly expect the host
of any Olympics to ensure that they are a success, and that includes
ensuring that delegations and athletes are all treated appropriately and
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Lance, that is what I`m afraid to focus of -- ends up
being on. Are the athletes being treated with respect? And are they
living without the oppression of these laws for the weeks that they`re in
Russia? But the problem exists before they get there and after they get
there in a much more serious fashion.
BLACK: Absolutely. And you know I feel like right now the thing that
needs to be done is those of us who have voices that can be heard, we have
to make them heard. And that`s not happening. Chad Griffin of the Human
Rights campaign just a bit of a week ago, called for the movie studios and
NBC to make a statement about --
O`DONNELL: Oh, I`ve got one for you. I happen to have one for you.
The one movie studio that has had something to say, it happens to be the
company that owns the rights to the Olympics, the television rights. Here
is Stuart and Lance NBC Universal`s statement. "NBC Universal strongly
supports equal rights and the fair treatment for all people. The spirit of
the Olympic games is about unifying people in countries through the
celebration of sport, and it is our hope that the spirit will prevail."
Anything in there that makes --
BLACK: No, it is not left up to hope. It`s not left up to hope.
This -- when you televise the Olympics, let`s just take the opening
ceremonies, the first two hours are a commercial, they`re commercial for
the host country. Right? So, what is NBC going to do? Are they going to
simply glorify the country, and show all the beauty of the country? Will
is it going to say loud and clear that this is a country that is going back
in time, reversing its laws, to criminalize a certain group of people just
for who they are and how God made them.
Torturing them into silence, causing blood to be spilled in the
streets and young people to be tortured. And the videos of torture
released on line. That is the truth of what`s happening. And to get a
profit off these Olympics, you better tell the truth about that host
country. That`s the action that we have to see.
O`DONNELL: Well, I think NBC Universal heard you tonight, not just
because you`re saying it in one of their buildings right here in Hollywood,
but also because this is powerful and it`s clearly not going away. It will
be a part of the presidential news conference tomorrow. Dustin Lance
Black, and Stuart Milk, thank you both very much for joining me tonight.
BLACK: Thank you.
MILK: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, the bravest prediction of the year. Chris
Matthews actually says that Rand Paul will be the next republican
presidential nominee. Now, that is very brave because not a lot of people
agree with him. I`ll decide if I do later. Alex Wagner and Steve Kornacki
will be my next guests to discuss the problem Tea Party members of Congress
are having explaining themselves to Tea Party followers. And I just might
have to ask them what they think of Chris Matthew`s prediction.
O`DONNELL: Thirty percent of Americans do not have friends who are of
a race different from their own, according to a new Reuters` Ipsos poll.
The poll found that about 40 percent of white Americans don`t have friends
who are not white. Twenty five percent of nonwhite Americans do not have
white friends. Pacific Coast states have the highest rate of Americans
with diverse social circles, and people have the least diverse friendship
groups in the south.
Up next, Alex Wagner and Steve Kornacki.
O`DONNELL: Republicans who stoked Tea Party outrage at town halls
four years ago now find themselves in the predicament of having to explain
governing to the anti-government crowd. Here is republican Congressman
Robert Pittenger at a town hall in North Carolina.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ROBERT PITTENGER (R), NORTH CAROLINA: Real quick, easy question,
this is what the Tea Party wants to know. Will you vote with my plea to
end -- to defund Obamacare? Yes or no?
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
I want yes or no.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: No.
PITTENGER: If you guys -- if you guys -- if every republican votes
against it, it does not get funded. That is a fact.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: No, sir (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: But you have to take a stand, get the
conservatives back on board.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Shutdown the government.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Then we can get our country back.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Do you think Harry Reid is going to pass --
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It doesn`t matter.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It doesn`t matter.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: We need to show the American people we stand for
conservative values. And they -- then we can get our country back.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And here is republican Congressman Aaron Shock at a town
hall meeting in Illinois.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. AARON SHOCK (R), ILLINOIS: If you`re going to take a hostage,
you have to be willing to shoot, right? Because at the end of the day,
you`re not willing to kill the hostage.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: That is OK. Kill it.
SHOCK: So what I would say is when I look down the road and I say, if
I`m going to say I`m going to -- if it doesn`t stop the money for -- I have
to be betting on the fact the President is going to eventually repeal his
own bill. I`m not convinced that after a month of the government being
shut down, when our senior citizens don`t get their Medicare, Medicaid,
Social Security and the troops don`t get paid, that my position would be a
sustainable position. You would have to disband the military. You would
have no money for education, roads, bridges or anything, so.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We can have all that, just get rid of Obamacare.
SHOCK: OK. But I`m just asking you to follow this. Because it is a
lot easier to do it at home. Because I watch the same stations you watch
and I see my colleagues up there beat their chest, saying it is time to
take a stand, now or never. And I don`t know, we have to hold people
accountable. But let`s look at the facts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Mitch McConnell is facing similar questions from his
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT BEVIN (R), KENTUCKY SENATE CANDIDATE: We hear a lot of empty
rhetoric from Mitch McConnell about ending Obamacare. Obamacare is
unpopular. Stop talking about it, yanking it out, root and branch and
start voting in the U.S. Senate to kill it by defunding it. Be a man,
stand up and put your money where your mouth is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now, MSNBC`s Alex Wagner and Steve Kornacki.
Alex, I got to say, I have never seen a well-deserved political
ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST, "NOW WITH ALEX WAGNER": Yes.
O`DONNELL: Visited upon politicians.
WAGNER: It`s like been like shoveling, and shoveling and shoveling
and the whole on the ground and everybody shock, right? I mean, this is
what happens when you spent years and years and year demagoguing an issue
and telling everybody, is the worst thing ever to happen to America ever.
I mean, this is the harvest that you rip when you sow the seeds of terror
and fear and anger around the Affordable Care Act.
And it is shocking to me that people, specifically the right flank of
the House Republican Caucus is surprised that they can`t go home and find
people understanding that they`re going to continue funding it. Never
minding the fact, by the way, that you can`t actually de-fund Obamacare
through continuing resolution, it is mandatory funding, not discretionary
funding, but logic has been lost in this equation, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Steve, reasoning with voters is a long-term project for
politicians. You can`t just decide to start to do it today after not doing
it for years. And when you actually saw them there get to the point of
being willing, the audience is being absolutely willing to not pay the
troops, and in the words of Aaron Schock at a certain point, disband the
military, disband the military, that is the product of what has been going
on in the House of Representatives now for years.
STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC HOST, "UP WITH STEVE KORNACKI": It is the part
of what has been going on in the House, it`s the part of what`s been going
on in the republican universe since Barack Obama was elected in November,
2008 because the basic strategy, if you want to call, the Republicans from
that moment on was absolute reflexive, unyielding opposition. If that is
your basic approach, if Obama is for it, we`re against it. If he proposes
it, we`re going to fight it. If he enacts it, we`ll going to try to repeal
If that is your basic approach to government, then there is no let-up
point there. There is no point where you can go back to your constituents.
And you can say, OK, we fought it, it became enacted, now we have to, you
know, now we have take a step back. Because their funding of this might be
at stake. The funding of this might be at stake. There is still an
incredible appetite on the right for the absolutists, saying no, do
whatever it takes, whatever is necessary, whatever, you know, political
price you need to do to pay, to get this horrible, terrible thing off the
books. There is no let-up point.
O`DONNELL: And Alex, we saw them use this same energy to win back the
House of Representatives in the Congressional election. And they have --
hopes of gaining seats in this election. They don`t have that big a margin
to begin with. But you can`t see coming out of those town hall meetings
some great surge of Tea Party political energy going to the polls for the
Congressional election if it isn`t to repeal Obamacare.
WAGNER: Right, well I think a couple of things, first is, everybody
talks about the 2010 mid-terms. But this issue was litigated pretty
effectively in the 2012 presidential race. I mean, we just had an
election, and guess who won? Barack Obama, the guy whose name is at the
beginning of Obamacare. Right. So, there is that little detail. There`s
also the fact that you`re now hearing from, I mean, I think that there is
much more of a ground game from the left in terms of the mid-terms in 2014.
There is a real sense that they lost out. I mean, the President said
that he was shellacked in 2010, but in terms of sort of state legislature`s
governorship and Congress being a real sticking point for his second term
agenda on a host of different other issues, there is a sense that Democrats
need to be far more organized and far more aggressive for 2014, which
doesn`t bode well for the Republicans, aside from this inter-party split.
O`DONNELL: Okay, now I think we can all agree that the bravest among
us here at MSNBC, is the dean of the delegation, Mr. Chris Matthews, he has
issued the bravest political prediction of the year because it is so far in
advanced. And because it maybe a rather lonely position. The idea that
Rand Paul absolutely will be the next republican nominee for president.
Alex Wagner, what do you think of your pal Chris Matthew`s prediction?
WAGNER: I would never malign the reputation and genius of our
national treasure Chris Matthews. I would say this. I think Chris Matthew
knows a ton about national politics. But I don`t think anybody can really
predict what`s going to happen in the GOP. I think it is possible that
Rand Paul will be the nominee, I also think he has a paper trail that is
pretty damning. You look at the Rand Paul budget wants to block print
Social Security -- sorry, privatize Social Security and Medicare and block
print Medicaid, that is not a great position to be in if you are trying to
be the president of the United States. We will see.
O`DONNELL: Steve Kornacki, is Chris Hayes -- why am I saying that?
Is Chris Matthews, not the junior Chris, the senior Chris, is Chris
KORNACKI: First, I predict Chris Hayes will not predicting Rand Paul
as a nominee in the near future.
WAGNER: Yes. I`ll give Chris Matthews credit. First of all, it is
sort of the number one principle if you`re going to go bet on the horse
race, right? You don`t go for the favorite. You go for the long shot, you
go for the big payoff. So maybe he is going for the 12 to one shot here.
So, I give him credit on that. I think the problem with Rand Paul, I see a
few problems, Alex points to, you know, to the degree that general election
considerations enter into these republicans in the primaries, I think he`s
going to have issues there. I think it`s going to be a lot -- it`s an
over-crowded field on the right that we`re looking at right now. You have
Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker. It is a long way of
saying, I still put my money on Christie, but there is not going to be a
O`DONNELL: All right, I`m going to take all of that under advisement
and reveal my view later of the bravest prediction of the year later in the
show. I got to think about it a little bit more. Alex Wagner, host of
"NOW" at noon Eastern and Steve Kornacki, the host of "UP" on Saturday and
Sunday mornings. Thank you both very much for joining me.
WAGNER: Thank you, Lawrence.
KORNACKI: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, on this night in history, the President of the
United States resigned from office. You will get to see him do it one more
time in the rewrite, and see why he was the worst president in history.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST, "HARDBALL": So, I predict the hard right
is going to take over the Republican Party in 2016. And the nomination is
going to Rand Paul. You watch. This is what I do for a living.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: In the spotlight tonight, the bravest prediction of the
year on who will be the republican presidential nominee in 2016. One way
you know a prediction is brave, not a lot of people agree with it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I do too, and I don`t think that is happening.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And then, there is the no small matter of Chris Christie
possibly standing in the way of Rand Paul and anyone else who is trying to
get the republican presidential nomination. Rand Paul`s running with Chris
Christie didn`t go so well, which Rand Paul quickly realized when he
surrendered to Christie, and he offered to, quote, "kiss and make up," an
offer that Christie dismissed.
And then there was an interview with Rand Paul on Tuesday showing how
incapable he is of holding his own in the back and forth of a presidential
campaign. John Harwood asked him about his racist pro-secessionist former
aide, who goes by the nickname, the Southern Avenger.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: Well, why don`t we talk about Rand
Paul, I`m the one doing the interview. And you can go ahead and beat up on
an ex-employee of mine, why don`t we talk about Rand Paul and what I`m
trying to do to grow the party, and then we might have an intelligent
JOHN HARWOOD, CNBC CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Look, I am. But
he someone who wrote a book with you.
PAUL: Well, you`re not, you think you want to dwell on something.
You want to bring up critical articles from people who don`t like me and
don`t support any libertarian ideals. Why don`t we talk about what
libertarian republicanism means and what it would do for the party?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Washington Post reporter Dan Balz, author
of the new book, "Collision 2012: Obama Versus Romney," and the future of
elections in America.
Dan, it is not going to get much better for Rand Paul if he does get
to talk about what Libertarian Republicans is a means for the party since
it means things like ending all aid to Israel of any kind, abandoning the
national defense posture that Republicans have held for years and other
elements of the party. And so, you see him there kind of unable to deal
with John Harwood`s questions and asking to go in the direction that I
personally don`t think will not help him either.
DAN BALZ, AUTHOR, COLLISION 2012: Well, the problem that he has got,
he certainly has support in the tea party faction, Lawrence, and that is
not insignificant in the Republican party of 2013 and heading toward 2016.
But as you point out, there are a lot of views he has which are well out of
sort of the mainstream in the Republican Party. And the longer it goes on
and the more exposure there is to those positions, the more challenging it
is going to be for him to actually consolidate support and bill coalition
within the party that is capable of winning the nomination.
O`DONNELL: Well you know what? I have time to think about it. And I
have to issue final finding on the bravest prediction of the year by our
pal, Chris Matthews. I don`t think Rand Paul has a chance. His father got
eight percent of the vote with the delegates the last time. Rand Paul will
not do much better when he gets in this thing. And then, there is Chris
Christie to contend with. And we saw in this feud if you bet on Rand Paul
versus Chris Christie, so far you lost one round.
BALZ: Well, that is right. In this opening round, although, you
know, we are so far away from what really will be, I suspect, a pretty
robust debate with a lot of cast and characters running for the nomination
in 2016. There has been so much focus in the past few weeks for obvious
reasons on these two politicians. But there are a lot of other Republicans
who will be out there challenging both of them. And the party has got big
decisions and big choices ahead of it. And Rand Paul represents a piece of
that debate as does Chris Christie. But there are others who represent
other parts of that debate. And we haven`t heard from them. Some of them
are probably wisely laying low knowing at this point most ordinary people
are not paying much attention to it.
So, this has such a long way to run. But we know that the party is
headed for a serious debate as it chooses a nominee in 2016.
O`DONNELL: Dan, I have read no closer look at Chris Christie than
what you offer in the book looking back at that last campaign. Through his
interview with you where he seemed to be very open, is it your sense based
on what you have seen him do so far and how he handled himself both in the
way he handled his involvement in the Romney campaign. That that was as
much as anything else practice for when his turn would come.
BALZ: Well, I think the experience that he went through, which is
recounted in the book of people urging him to run at a time when he didn`t
really feel he was ready to run a campaign, nonetheless put him in the
mindset to think about this for a long time. And right now, he is rightly
focused on winning re-election and winning with as big a margin as he
There is not everything he agrees with the Republican Party on it.
So, there are some questions among some Republicans about how authentic or
reliable he is as a conservative. But I think one of the messages as he
wants to send from this election campaign is that he is capable of winning
in blue states and will say to the rest of the party if we want to win the
presidency we can`t simply win the red states. We have to convert some of
the states that President Obama has won in the last two elections in order
to get all the way there. And I think that is the step by step process
that he is going through right now.
O`DONNELL: The new book is called "Collision 2012." Dan Balz thank
you very much for joining me tonight.
BALZ: Lawrence, thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, the story of how the president on this night,
August 8th, was drunk and out of control and crying the night before he
resigned. That is in the rewrite.
And later, the latest revelation about the NSA`s capacity to read e-
O`DONNELL: The new electric car company, Tesla motors, reported
financial results for the second quarter today. And to the surprise of
Wall Street and to the delight of the company`s investors, it made a profit
and repaid a loan to the department of energy.
The night the president resigned is next in the rewrite.
O`DONNELL: This is one of those I will never forget where I was days,
August 8th. You have heard older people say it about December 7th, I will
never forget where I was when I heard the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.
You have heard people say I will never forget where I was when I heard
President Kennedy was assassinated. I will not forget where I was when I
heard that Malcolm X was assassinated, when I heard that Martin Luther King
Junior was assassinated, when Bobby Kennedy was assassinated. And I`ll
never forget where I was on this day, August 8th, in 1974 at 9:00 p.m.,
when the worst president in history announced he was resigning. I will
never forget that the awe that I felt upon realizing that the system of
checks and balances had actually worked and worked at the highest level.
The courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States and the
Congress had allowed the head of the executive branch to be investigated
through normal judicial and congressional processes. And the weight of
their evidence against the president was so powerful that he decided in
effect, to plead guilty by becoming the first and only president of the
United States to resign.
The president was revealed to be a criminal, despite his famous "I am
not a crook" protestation. And later, the president was revealed to be a
racist and an anti-Semite that most of us strongly suspected he was. It is
all there on the secret tapes of his conversations, tape recordings that he
knew he was making.
On those tapes you hear him talk about what he called the black thing,
meaning African-Americans, and saying they were 500 years away of being the
equal of white people like him. He said that on tape. And that was not
one of the tapes that he conspired with his secretary to erase. He also
agreed on tape with Henry Kissinger, his Jewish secretary of state, quote
"if they put Jews in the gas chamber in the Soviet Union, it is not an
Nixon knew it was on tape, but had no reason to try to erase that one.
The most raved anti-Nixon-Kissinger college students at the time of which I
was one, imagined Nixon and his henchmen having criminal conversations and
saying vicious horrible things. But we had no idea their thought
experiments could actually include Jews being put in gas chambers again.
And the United States of America doing absolutely nothing about it this
If Nixon trusted anyone, he trusted Henry Kissinger, which was as
stupid a calculation as he ever made. Kissinger was as un-trustworthy a
person who ever worked in government. In what will Bernstein (ph) stunning
book "the Final Days," they tell the final mistake Richard Nixon made with
It was the night before he announced his resignation, he confide with
Kissinger and spent time with him in tragic commiseration. When Kissinger
returned to his office, the phone rang. It was the president. Lawrence
Eagleburger picked up the extension to listen. That was the custom,
Kissinger rarely took a call alone. Eagleburger was shocked. The
president was slurring his words. He was drunk. He was out of control.
Eagleburger could barely make out what the president was saying. He was
almost didn`t coherent. It was pathetic. Eagleburger felt ill and hung
The president had one last request, Henry, please don`t ever tell
anyone that I cried and that I was not strong.
There is the drunk president of the United States begging Henry
Kissinger not to tell anyone on a phone line, where Kissinger always made
sure he was already telling someone else, because someone else was always
listening. And then Kissinger, and Eagleburger made sure that their boss`s
final confidential request was printed word for word in a best-selling book
for all the world to see.
Richard Nixon got exactly what he deserved in Henry Kissinger. And
America got what it deserved on this night 39 years ago. The resignation
of the worst president in history. For those of you who remember where you
were that night, here is another look at that moment in history that we now
know occurred. Twenty-four hours after the president of the United States
was, according to team Kissinger, drunk, out of control and crying.
RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good evening,
this is the 37th time I have spoken to you from this office where so many
decisions have been made that shaped the history of this nation.
Each time I have done so to discuss with you some matter that I
believe affected the national interest. In all the decisions I have made
in my public life I have always tried to do what was best for the nation.
Throughout the long and difficult period of Watergate, I have felt it was
my duty to persevere, to make every possible effort to complete the office
term to which you have elected me.
In the past few days, however, it has become evident to me that I no
longer have a strong enough political base in Congress to justify
continuing that effort. As long as there was such a base, I felt strongly
that it was necessary to see the constitutional process through to its
conclusion. That to do otherwise would be unfaithful to the spirit of that
deliberately difficult process and a dangerously de-stabilizing precedent
for the future.
But with the disappearance of that base, I now believe know the
constitutional purpose has been served. And there is no longer a need for
the process to be prolonged. I would have preferred to carry through to
the finish whatever the personal agony it would have involved. And my
family unanimously urged me to do so.
But the interests of the nation must always come before any personal
considerations. From the discussions I`ve had with congressional and other
leaders, I have concluded that because of the Watergate matter, I might not
have the support of the Congress that I would consider necessary to back
the very difficult decisions and carry out the duties of this office in the
way the interests of the nation will require.
I have never been a quitter. To leave office before my term is
completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body. But as president, I
must put the interests of America first. America needs a full-time
president and a full-time Congress, particularly at this time with problems
we face at home and abroad, to continue to fight through the months ahead
for my personal vindication would almost totally absorb the time and
attention of both the president and the Congress in a period when our
entire focus should be on t great issues of peace abroad and prosperity
without inflation at home.
Therefore, I shall resign the presidency effective at noon tomorrow.
Vice President Ford will be sworn in as president at that hour in this
office. I regret deeply any injuries that may have been done in the course
of events that led to this decision. I would say only that if some of my
judgments were wrong and some were wrong, they were made in what I believed
at the time to be the best interest of the nation.
O`DONNELL: Jeff Bezos, the founder of amazon.com told reporters today
that his reported purchase of "the Washington Post" was a gigantic mix-up,
explaining that he had clicked on the newspaper by mistake. I guess I was
just browsing through their Web site and not paying close attention to what
I was doing, he said. No way did I intend to buy anything.
Those words were written in "the New Yorker" by Andy Borowitz. But
the Chinese news agency didn`t know was a joke, that Andy Borowitz was a
comedy writer. And so, the Chinese news agency reported the Amazon founder
said the acquisition of "the Washington Post" was due to an unintentional
Now, I have known Andy Borowitz since he was a freshman college, and
I`m telling you right now that was his most effective joke ever.
Up next, the latest "New York Times" report on how the NSA reads your
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We don`t have a
domestic spying perhaps. What we do have are some mechanisms where we can
track a phone number or an e-mail address that we know is connected to some
sort of terrorist threat.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was the president Tuesday on "the Tonight Show" with
Jay Leno. Today, the lead story of "The New York Times" begins the
national security agency is searching the context of vast amounts of
Americans` e-mail and text communications into and out of the country,
hunting for people mentioning information about foreigners under
surveillance according to intelligence officials. The NSA is not just
intercepting the communication of Americans who are in direct contact with
foreigners, targeted overseas, a practice that government officials have
openly acknowledge, it is also casting a far wider net for people who cite
information linked to the foreigners, like little used e-mail address
according to a senior official.
White House press secretary Jay Carney was asked about "the Times"
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: If Joe Schmoe from Kokomo wants to know
if he sends an e-mail overseas is being read, what will you say?
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It is not being read. The
information targeted has to do with terrorist threats or potential
terrorist threats emanating from foreign personnel. And you know, there
are procedures and places as I just described and I am sure that ODI and
others can -- NSA can explain to you in greater detail that ensure that the
inadvertently information is minimized and dealt with appropriately.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now is the author of the article today, Charlie
Charlie, I guess the question is, is Joe Schmoe from Kokomo one of the
search terms that the NSA is infusing to have that guy worry about his e-
mail? The article, Charlie, has things that seem familiar. I saw this
piece I was reading, saying haven`t I read this before? Some of this we
have known, haven`t we?
CHARLIE SAVAGE, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, we certainly have known
that the NSA oversees a collection of a vast amount of internet and in some
cases voice communication and uses computers to hunt through them. And we
know that here on domestic soil where the constitution applies and so forth
it does sometimes under the FIZA amendment act of 2008, target foreigners
overseas for collections. And if America is in direct contact with that
foreign target that means the American`s communication will be taken
without a warrant, as well.
So, what is different about this, this is the searching of the content
of Americans of at least their cross-border communications, and it is
happening on U.S. soil without warrants.
O`DONNELL: You have some real technical detail on how they do it, it
is kind of fascinating. They in effect make a kind of clone of the
information. And according to the report, hold it briefly and really for
not very long, maybe minutes or less. And if they don`t find the things
they`re looking for that stuff just gets released and they don`t hold onto
SAVAGE: That is my understanding of the system, that`s right. They
have what they call strong selectors, which are essentially key words which
would be identifiers that suggest that someone knows about one of their
foreign targets. Maybe it is some private phone number used by Vladimir
Putin or some address of a terrorism suspect in Pakistan or something like
that, that you would presumably only know if you were connected to that
person in some way. And they have a large number, I don`t know how many of
these indicate e indicators. So they make a copy of all the cross-border
traffic, essentially, both the collection of that content and then the
system automatically searches all these messages and pulls out one those
which match one for these indicators for a human to read later on without a
warrant. And if it doesn`t match then the system deletes very rapidly the
rest of the communications.
O`DONNELL: And so as you report, according to this information, which
is hard to confirm but it is their description of how it works, they don`t
have any retrospective ability. They can`t decide a week later or day
later or even hours later, necessarily hey, let`s go look for this because
they were not holding on to it anymore?
SAVAGE: That is right. So, some of other disclosure in the last
couple of months have been about that vast data basis. They do have the
ability to look back in time when somebody becomes suspicious later on. We
know that the phone metadata program which is keeping a record of logs of
everybody in the United States, which came out in June. They hold to that
date for five years.
Another disclosure from last week, also, by Edward Snowden leaks to
"the Guardian" show that the internet activity content browsing and so
forth of people overseas is held for three days in sort of a rolling
buffer, and it is too much volume, then they dumped it out to make room on
the hard drive for new stuff. This by contrast appears to be instantaneous
searching so that if you don`t already have those selectors program into
the system and you learn something later, it is too late. You only are
searching going forward for what you already have gathered.
O`DONNELL: Charlie Savage, thanks for joining us tonight with your
SAVAGE: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: And "the Last Word" tonight goes out to friend of the show
David Small who is celebrating his 90th birthday tonight with his family
and his girlfriend, Doris, who has been his wife for 65 years.
Happy Birthday, David.
Chris Hayes` show is up next.
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THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL