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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

Read the transcript to the Wednesday show

Date: January 21, 2015
Guest: Robert Reich, David Axelrod, Phyllis Bennis, Peter Welch, Ann
Louise Bardach, Molly Redden


We`re going to have full details on why John Boehner took down that bill --


O`DONNELL: -- that he planned to have a vote on tomorrow, that restrictive
abortion bill. It turns out, Rachel, that just yesterday, two women,
Republican women in the House of Representatives, withdrew their co-
sponsorship of the bill. I had a great script written for this in the
show, which we now have to throw out, because it`s breaking news.

MADDOW: Fascinating development. Good luck with it, Lawrence. Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.

And also in tonight`s show, the real work of normalizing relations with
Cuba will begin tomorrow in Havana.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We`re having a new revolution.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This new era begins today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The historic day in Cuba.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Set to begin negotiations tomorrow to normalize

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Highest level talk with Cuba in 35 years.

doesn`t work for 50 years, it`s time to try something new.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), TEXAS: He should have tried telling that to the
Cuban government.

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: What we are doing with respect to Cuba is
not a reward for anything.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hoping that tomorrow`s talk will pave the way for
Secretary of State Kerry to come.

KERRY: I look forward to traveling to Cuba.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s unlikely that the embargo will be lifted anytime

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Time for me to be optimistic about this Congress, doing
something that sensible and practical.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Or not damaging. The elite, (INAUDIBLE) to poor

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is a lot of history to overcome.

OBAMA: We are ending a policy that was long past its expiration date.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The word we keep hearing is esperanza, "hope."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Americans come into Cuba, it`s a revolution. We`ve
been waiting for this.


O`DONNELL: Assistant Secretary of State Roberta Jacobson arrived in Cuba
to begin talks tomorrow on normalizing relations with Cuba. She will
discuss opening a Cuba embassy in Washington, D.C. and an American embassy
in Havana, as well as banking issues, mail service and expanding trail
between the two countries.


OBAMA: With Cuba, we are ending a policy that was long past its expiration



O`DONNELL: The president, of course, does not have the legal authority to
fully dismantle the United States embargo on Cuba, which was finally
actually signed into a law by President Bill Clinton in one of the most
misguided and weakest moments of the Clinton presidency. Because
completely removing the embargo requires legal action, just one senator,
like Florida Republican Marco Rubio, might be able to stop that.

Last night the president asked Congress to do the right thing.


OBAMA: When what you`re doing doesn`t work for 50 years, it`s time to try
something new.


And our shift in Cuba policy has the potential to end a legacy of mistrust
in our hemisphere. It removes a phony excuse for restrictions in Cuba,
stands up for democratic values and extends a hand of friendship to the
Cuban people. And this year, Congress should work on ending the embargo.


O`DONNELL: In United States Senate, a governing majority requires 60
percent, and 60 percent of the American public is with the president on
this one.

Joining me now from Havana, Cuba, is CNBC`s Eamon Javers.

Eamon, what is the situation there tonight? What do you anticipate

EAMON JAVERS, CNBC: Well, Lawrence, it was a big day here today in Cuba.
Obviously, with the arrival of this American delegation, the highest level
of delegation to arrive in Cuba for 38 years. But tomorrow, we think, we
have a much bigger day.

Today, what they were talking about is sort of the normal migration talks
that exist on an ongoing basis between the United States and Cuba.
Tomorrow, they get into the nitty-gritty of renormalizing relations, and
that`s when they talk about diplomats and whether American diplomats will
be able to travel, and whether or not, ultimately, the United States will
be able to reopen its embassy here, which has been closed since the early

O`DONNELL: Eamon, there was that sort of appendage to the story where a
Russian spy ship, as we call it, found its way into Havana harbor.

JAVERS: Yes. It was a spy ship not too far from where we`re sitting, in
Havana harbor is right here, off of the downtown Havana. And we went over
there to take a look at it.

It is a Vishnya class Soviet era 1980s Russian navy ship. It is here on
active duty. The Russians say it`s here not to send any particular signal.
They`re not trying to step on the U.S. visit to Cuba. They`re just here on
normal operations. We went down and try to get on the ship and talk to
some of the Russian sailors. Security stopped us there.

But I can tell you that it looked like a normal day there on the ship. We
saw the Russian sailors actually meeting with members of their family who
had flown in from Russia to visit them. A lot of these sailors have been
out to sea for a year or more. This is the first time for the families to
be reunited with their loved ones on board.

So, it looked normal operations today. But, obviously, it went very well
noticed here in Havana that the Russian ship was here.

O`DONNELL: Eamon, quickly before you go, in your reporting for CNBC -- of
course, you have a lot of knowledge of what`s going on in the business
community`s reaction to that. And it seems there`s a lot of support in the
business community.

JAVERS: Yes, you saw an immediate reaction from U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
American business wants access to the Cuban market. They want to do
business here, particularly in the travel and tourism sectors. They think
there`s money to be made here. A lot of Americans who want to come down

As of now, there are 12 categories now opened for American travelers. A
lot of those categories weren`t open before. Ultimately, though, we could
be talking about billions of dollars of new business for American and Cuban
businesses. And I can tell you with the level of poverty that you see on
the ground here in Havana, they really need some influx of capital here
pause there`s a lot of improvement that needs to be made here in Havana.

O`DONNELL: Thanks, Eamon.

Joining us now, Democratic Congressman Peter Welch. He was part of the
congressional delegation that went to Cuba.

And Cuba expert, Ann Louise Bardach, who has interviewed Fidel Castro and
is the author of "Without Fidel".

Congressman Welch, what is your reaction to what the president had to say
last night?

REP. PETER WELCH (D), VERMONT: I think it was great. You know, Senator
Rubio may not like normalizing relations, but having spent three days in
Cuba, the Cuban people are really excited. I mean, we spent 2 1/2 days
walking around Cuba, interacting with Cubans all over Havana, and they
where are so excited. They saw our Cuban-American flag lapel pin and came
up to talk to us. And there`s a great deal of excitement there.

The second thing is, the argument that the opponents are making is that
this is a reward to Castro. It`s, in fact, a threat to Castro. I mean,
you have trade, you have travel, you have transportation, you have
interaction, you have open Internet. This is the dynamic that has to get
going in order for the Cuban people to have a shot at opening up that
society and having a more democratic government.

So, I can see why Senator Rubio is against it. But the Cuban people
clearly are quite excited about it.

O`DONNELL: Ann, why now -- you know the Castro approach to government,
having spent real-time with Fidel, why did the Castro brothers come around

had no choice. Their biggest ally is Venezuela, which their -- Maduro, the
president, is in a very wobbly condition there. They didn`t know if they
had years, or months or even weeks with Venezuela, which provides a huge
economic subsidy to the island of Cuba, 100,000 barrels of oil every day.
And the laundry list goes on and on which they have helped them with.

China, not available really to be a patron. The Russian ruble, you know,
collapsing. This is an economic necessity.

Now, that doesn`t mean it`s not the right thing for America to do after 50
years, as President Obama said of doing one thing that hasn`t worked out,
you might want to try something else. But in terms of the Castros, and I
think they made that demonstrably clear by making sure there was a Soviet
spy ship in the harbor on the very day, they made it clear they are
reluctant partners. They have resisted this, contrary to conventional
wisdom, for some time, because there are -- there are questions of, you
know, what will this do to the reign of the Castros? Serious questions.

O`DONNELL: So, Ann, you don`t see the spy ship as a coincidence?

BARDACH: Oh, no, absolutely not. Nothing that happens in Cuba and with
the Castro family is coincidence. Everything is carefully choreographed,
certainly nothing of that scale.

It`s just to say look, guys, at the negotiating table, if this doesn`t work
out with us today, you know, remember we still have the Russians very
interested. We have Lourdes, which is their spy station literally on the
island, which is very capable of surveilling the United States to a certain
extent. And they`re sending a signal.

Now, look, both sides have indicated on day one that they`re tamping down
expectations. Roberta Jacobson said, look, we`re restoring. We`re
reestablishing diplomatic relations, but we are not normalizing, which she
said is going to be a very long process.

And the Cubans on their side said, look, don`t think for a minute that this
is going to change the status quo with our government. We are run by the
communist party and that is the way it`s going to be.

So, they -- both parties said they day one, you know, beware, you know?
This is the hard part. Tomorrow is going to get harder. And they each
have a list of what they want and we`ll see by the end of the day what is
achieved. But it`s exciting.

O`DONNELL: Congressman Welch, to restore diplomatic relations, we`re going
to need an embassy. We`re going to need an ambassador. Obviously, you
need to confirm an ambassador.

But what other legislative action is necessary for that? Does it have to
be a specific appropriation for that embassy in Havana?

WELCH: Well, we actually have a big building down there. We have the
residents of our resident agent down there, who would be called the
ambassador if we had normalized relations. And we have a big, quote,
"intersection", which could be the embassy.

So, we actually have property. It`s not a big deal there. It`s really
much more a political deal here.

And, really, the fundamental question for us is whether we think hands off
the policy of non-engagement is going to work or the policy of engagement
is going to create a dynamic that gives the Cuban people more of a shot at
changing their own government.

And the Castros, by the way, they are tough. They have no interest in
relinquishing power. When we were there with Senator Leahy, good friend
who has done a lot, brought home Alan Gross, we were expecting a meeting
with Raul Castro. That was suddenly canceled when we told him we were
meeting with Cuban dissidents in advance.

So, they had this enormous reaction to the mere fact that Senator Leahy was
insistent that we hear from all sides. So, they`re on lockdown there.

But this is not about us trying to do regime change, it`s trying to give
the Cuban people more access to information and some of the tools they
need, and economic opportunity that may help them make determinations about
their own future.

O`DONNELL: Ann, what about the reaction in Florida among the Cuban
community in Florida?

BARDACH: It`s mixed. It`s generational. The younger generation, the
newer, you know, Cubans to Florida are very enthusiastic. The older
generation tends to be very either unhappy or wary, although everybody is
exhausted by a half century Cold War.

So, there is this tremendous Cuba really Fidel fatigue, as it were.

So -- but yes, certain of these items like getting an ambassador is going
to require Congress. And we have eight members of Congress who are
definitely not going to be helpful in any way. We have three Cuban-
American senators, any which can put on a hold.

But -- so, I don`t -- you know, I think there`s going to be a lot of change
in Cuba. Immediately, you have a huge amount of money flooding into Cuba
right away from people sending remittances. But yes, there`s going to be a
lot of tough work to do in Washington.

O`DONNELL: Congressman Peter Welch, and, Ann Louise Bardach -- thank you
both very much for joining me tonight.

Coming up, Republican Paul Ryan says he agrees with President Obama word
for word on at least one part of the president`s State of the Union
Address. Robert Reich and David Axelrod will join me.

And we have breaking news tonight from the House of Representatives where
the speaker has decided to abandon plans for a debate and vote on a
restrictive abortion bill tomorrow because of the opposition of Republican
women in the House of Representatives.


O`DONNELL: Jimmy Fallon saw some pros and cons in last night`s State of
the Union Address.


JIMMY FALLON, COMEDIAN: Pro: After the speech, President Obama took
questions. Con: This is if first question, I can has Obamacare? I mean,
come on! It`s a good question, but not really

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s not a good question.



FALLON: Pro, Obama entered the room to the song "Hail to the Chief." Con,
Biden entered to "Cotton-Eyed Joe."



O`DONNELL: Coming up, breaking news from the House of Representatives.
Republicans have pulled a restrictive abortion bill. They`re not going to
have a vote on that tomorrow after a revolt from women in the Republican
Party in the House of Representatives.



OBAMA: We still may not agree on a woman`s right to choose, but surely we
can agree that it`s a good thing that teen pregnancies and abortions are
nearing all-time lows and every woman should have access to the health care
she needs.


O`DONNELL: We have breaking news tonight. The House of Representatives
has just canceled a debate and vote tomorrow on a very restrictive abortion
bill that would have banned abortions after 20 weeks. The vote was
scheduled for tomorrow, but several conservative members of the House
Republican Caucus, female members of Congress, thought the bill was too
extreme. And yesterday, two co-sponsors of that bill, Congresswoman Jackie
Walorski and Congresswoman Renee Ellmers, did this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For what purpose does the gentlelady from Indiana seek

REP. JACKIE WALORSKI (R), INDIANA: Mr. Speaker, ask unanimous consent to
remove myself from HR-36.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Without objection?

For what purpose does the gentlelady from North Carolina seek recognition?

REP. RENEE ELLMERS (R), NORTH CAROLINA: Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous
consent to remove myself from HR-36.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Without objection?


O`DONNELL: Joining me now, David Axelrod, former senior adviser to
President Obama, and Molly Redden, a staff writer for "Mother Jones".

David, that`s a very surprising moment on the floor of the House of
Representatives when anyone gets up there and withdraws co-sponsorship.

Earlier tonight, when I was preparing this segment before the announcement
that they weren`t going to vote, I thought that was an ominous signal. It
turns out it was enough apparently. But did they represent two votes or do
they represent 20 or do they represent 50 votes?

It turns out they represented enough to stop this bill tomorrow.

Lawrence, what strikes me is how much things have changed in just ten
weeks. Ten weeks ago, we were sitting together, and the Republican caucus
was triumphant, giants on the landscape, on the political landscape and the
president was in retreat.

Now, the president is resurgent and this new Republican Congress has gotten
out of the gates very, very badly. And this is just another example of it.
A big problem on the immigration bill, now this bill dropped because once
again, they mishandled the issue of rape, even in the eyes of conservative
women in their caucus.

And it`s almost as if they`re doomed to repeat the same mistakes over and
over again. But really, a stunning development tonight.

O`DONNELL: Molly Redden, you`ve been reporting on the developments of this
bill. What was it that the Republican women had problems with in this

MOLLY REDDEN, MOTHER JONES: Well, the public facing comments that they
made, they had problems with the rape exception as David said. The bill
would require women, in order to get an abortion under circumstances of
rape, to first report her assault to law enforcement officials and
Republican women thought that was just too restrictive. They know a lot of
women who are raped never come forward to the police, and they would really
be in dire straits.

Privately, though, to their caucus, they spoke out about how is this going
to look? Let`s think very carefully about what sort of message this will
send to young voters. I think that`s an interesting contrast. I`m sure
they believe that both are very true.

O`DONNELL: David, tomorrow is the, I believe, 42nd anniversary of Roe
versus Wade, the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in this
country. Every year on that day, the halls of Congress are filled with
petitioners, kind of grassroots lobbyists going to members of Congress,
going to senators, their senators, their members of Congress, lobbying
against illegal abortion in this country.

And every year, Congress does nothing about it, including the Republican
congressmen who swear that that`s why they got elected, to do something
about it. This vote tomorrow was supposed to be that symbolic something.
This thing never would have never made it to a vote in the Senate, they
couldn`t have gotten by a filibuster by Democrats. It certainly never
would have made it to the president`s desk for his veto, which he promised,
the president already promised a veto.

So, it was a purely symbolic act and now, it turns out the Republicans
aren`t capable of that.

AXELROD: Well, look, they have a huge problem, and it shows up every
presidential election cycle, which is they have driven off young people.
They have driven off women voters in large numbers. They have driven off
Hispanic voters in large numbers.

And as I said before, they seem intent on compounding all of those problems
in the first weeks of the -- of this Congress.

If I were a candidate running for president on the Republican side, this is
my worst nightmare, which is I`ve got to live with this Republican Congress
that`s dominated by far right voices, most strident voices in the
Republican Party, once again, defining the Republican Party in ways that
are unhelpful to them.

And, you know, so, I think they`ve got a big problem, and clearly have
misread their own caucus.

Lawrence, you`re a veteran of the Hill. The notion that this bill could
get as far as it got, with all the problems they had within the caucus,
that nobody thought to stop it before it became a public embarrassment
speaks to real mismanagement of the caucus.

These guys are like the dogs who caught the car. They`re in charge before
with a caucus larger than ever before and they seem befuddled by it.

O`DONNELL: Yes, Molly, it strikes me as a really bad start for John
Boehner with his new Congress. And I`m not one who has been critical of
John Boehner in the past having to take down bills that are important
bills, like budget bills, where he knows he has to test his caucus and test
them publicly and see what they`re willing to vote for. And that`s always
-- I`ve always seen that as Boehner on the route to getting something
through that they need to get through in terms of budget stuff.

But this was a pure symbolic vote and to not get the count right on that,
or to not see this coming says something about what this Republican
leadership is able to even understand about its own caucus.

REDDEN: Yes. I mean, it`s a really astonishing turn of events. They
weren`t whipping up votes exactly for this bill. So, there were early
signs that they understood some of the issues with this.

You know, at the same time, so many of their conservative members really
went to the mat for this legislation in debates as they were getting
elected in these last elections. And so there`s just this real schism
between the people who are really counting on these symbolic votes. And
then people who just realize that it`s the wrong turn for the party.

Even Representative Renee Ellmers, in her private remarks to the caucus,
doesn`t seem to fully understand some of the issues with this bill. She
said that it might be worth avoiding a vote on this, because younger
voters, they don`t feel too strongly about social issues. And that is just
wildly incorrect. Polls have consistently shown that younger voters feel a
lot more strongly about abortion access and reproductive rights than other
age groups, as other age groups shift to the right on this issue. Younger
voters don`t follow.

So, you know, even the more moderate voices in this debate are sort of
still fundamentally misreading the wrong turns their party has made.

O`DONNELL: Molly Redden, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

REDDEN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: And, David Axelrod, please stick around. We`re going to need
your guidance on another subject.

Coming up, Speaker John Boehner was not happy with Senator Joni Ernst`s
replay to the president`s State of the Union Address apparently. And so,
he`s asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to give his reply to
the State of the Union Address.



have endured, for all the grit and hard work required to come back, for all
the tasks that lie ahead, know this, the shadow of crisis has past and the
State of the Union is strong.



O`DONNELL: A new NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll shows that 49 percent
of Americans approve of President Obama`s handling of the economy. That is
the highest that number has been since he won re-election in 2012.

Today, President Obama traveled to Idaho where he continued to make the
case for middle class economics.


OBAMA: Here`s where we`re starting in 2015. Our economy is growing, our
businesses are creating jobs at the fastest pace since 1999. Our deficits
have been cut by two-thirds. Our energy production is booming.

The verdict is clear. The ruling on the field stands.


Middle class economics works. Expanding opportunity works. These policies
will keep on working as long as politics in Washington doesn`t get in the
way of our progress.


O`DONNELL: This morning, one Republican congressional leader found himself
in complete agreement with President Obama on only one point.


REP. PAUL RYAN (R), WISCONSIN: I agree with every word he said in the
speech with respect to trade and Asia and getting in there and helping
write the rules instead of China writing the rules.

The president is in the middle of negotiating a trade agreement with Asian
nations, representing 40 percent of global GDP. This means more jobs for
America. This means more exports for us. This is something we have to get
on top of and I agree with him on that.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now is former secretary of labor, Robert Reich,
author of "Aftershock: The Next Economy and America`s Future," and whose
film, "Inequality for All", is available on Blu-ray, DVD, and iTunes. Also
rejoining us is NBC News and MSNBC senior political analyst David Axelrod.

Robert Reich, here we go again with the issue of expanding trade and trade
relations in Congress, and the political dynamics seem very similar to the
way they were the last time under President Clinton, this happened on NAFTA
and the World Trade Agreement. Stronger, clearer Republican support than
Democratic support.

reason Paul Ryan said he agreed with the president is because this is very
much on the Republican agenda. They do want this so-called Transpacific
Trade Agreement. They want it with a fast-track Trade Promotion Authority
so that nothing can be amended in Congress.

Many Democrats are wary, they are worried that it will create not only more
outsourcing of jobs abroad but also that it will allow global corporations
to attack American regulations, health, safety, and environmental
regulations, as being nontariff barriers. And that will basically not be a
middle class economic agenda, that will hurt the middle class.

O`DONNELL: David Axelrod, I worked for a United States senator who was
opposed to NAFTA back in those days when it was passing, and I noticed
something about the phenomenon of trade in our politics. There is a
presidential position on international trade and it doesn`t make any
difference which party the president belongs to.

Republican presidents, Democratic presidents look at international trade
exactly the same way, including no matter what they said during the
campaign about international trade.

How does that dynamic work, that presidents of each party end up adopting
exactly the same attitude toward international trade?

part of it is the evolution of our economy. And when you look at the
direction of the world, the influence of China, in particular, there is a
pull toward trying to do something to make sure that we remain competitive
for markets around the world, and particularly in that region. And that`s
I`m sure what`s motivating the president here.

We`re becoming a much smaller world, Lawrence. You know this better than
I, that there are economic pressures forcing us in this direction. But I
also think that for the reasons that Bob said, for the reasons that Pat
Moynihan opposed the treaty, there`s a special burden on the administration
and the president to say why is this different? What kinds of protections
are built into this treaty that would allay the concerns that people have
had in the past?

And they need to be involved in a very, very aggressive effort to make that
case because otherwise I think a lot of Democrats are going to walk on

O`DONNELL: Yes, I`m wondering, Reich, how different it is. You were
secretary of labor when President Clinton was moving those two trade bills,
NAFTA and the World Trade Agreement. And on the Democratic side, there`s
always talk about environmental side agreements to these deals, and labor
side agreements to these deals.

And ultimately under President Clinton, the Democrats voted against it, but
they did not strenuously work to kill it. Even Senator Moynihan who was
chairman of the committee with jurisdiction over it. He brought it up in
his committee. He simply voted no but he did not try to block it.

Do you think this will be different this time with the Democrats?

REICH: It may be different, Lawrence, because unlike the NAFTA, this
Transpacific Trade Agreement really is focusing less on tariffs and more on
what are called nontariff barriers, those are regulations like health,
safety, and environmental regulations, that could get in the way of trade
if a global company said, for example, you know, the United States
environmental regulations make it very difficult for us to get our goods
into the United States because our goods are -- well, they just -- they
degrade environmentally and they`re very bad for the environment.

You see, under the Transpacific Trade Agreement, you have this separate
tribunal set up outside any nation`s law system, legal system that can pass
judgment on those kinds of health, safety, and environmental regulations.
With NAFTA, we didn`t have anything of such, anything like that. NAFTA was
a hard sell for Democrats notwithstanding. I think they labored a
environment side agreement with NAFTA.

We tried to beef them in. I think in retrospect they were not nearly
strong enough.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to the way Democrats talk about international
trade when they`re running for president. Let`s listen to what President
Obama said back when he was a candidate.


OBAMA: I would immediately call the president of Mexico, the president of
Canada, to try to amend NAFTA because I think that we can get labor
agreements in that agreement right now and it should reflect the basic
principle that our trade agreements should not just be good for Wall
Street, it should also be good for main street.


O`DONNELL: David Axelrod, Hillary Clinton said basically the same thing
when she was running, but President Obama, when elected, never made that
phone call and never talked about NAFTA again.

AXELROD: Though when he was negotiating treaties, Lawrence, subsequent
treaties, he did insist on provisions that weren`t -- that weren`t in
NAFTA. But you know, you`re right, that when you`re the president of the
United States and you`re looking at the -- the competitive position of
American business and industry, you have a different perspective than when
you`re running for president.

And I think it`s fair to say that the environment, in a Democratic primary,
is generally hostile to trade. I know that Obama had concerns about trade,
but I never heard him say that we shouldn`t do treaties. I never heard him
say that we should be opposed to agreements ever. And his point was that
we should get better deals. And now it`s incumbent on him to make the case
to the country that this is a better deal.

O`DONNELL: And Robert Reich, President Obama, in not having what they call
fast-track authority, is really kind of disarmed on trade. It used to be a
standard tool for all presidents to have this negotiating authority.
There`s nothing particularly fast about the track, it just allows for a
certain kind of reliable negotiation between countries.

REICH: Yes, and the Trade Promotion Authority that the president is
seeking here really allows or would allow this -- it`s almost fast track.
It`s sort of a small version of fast trace. It still allows the measure to
go through without amendment.

I think one thing that a lot of Democrats are worried about is that they
don`t know exactly what is in the bill. I`ve given you what has been
leaked from the bill or from -- I should say the draft negotiation. But
nobody knows exactly what`s in it. It has been negotiated, though,
however, with big business, a big business lobbyists and Wall Street
lobbyists at the table. And so a lot of people are nervous.

And it`s not just Democrats who are nervous, a lot of economic populists,
you might want to call them, on the Republican side, some people call them
Tea Partiers. They are also nervous about big business having a little bit
too much of a voice in setting the terms of the Transpacific Trade


O`DONNELL: I wish we had more -- go ahead, David, quickly.

AXELROD: I`m sorry.

O`DONNELL: Go ahead, David.

AXELROD: No, I was just going to say there have -- certainly have been
consultations with labor and others on these treaties. And it`d be hard to
imagine that Democrats should say we`re going to deny this president the
same authority that every other president has been given.


REICH: Now I think -- I think that`s right. And I think -- I think
basically if the president can sell the Transpacific Trade Agreement to the
public, then he`s probably going to have to be clearer about what is in it.
And the public has got to have confidence that actually it is going to
improve middle class economics rather than cost jobs and also jeopardize
our health, safety, and environmental regulations.

O`DONNELL: We need more time for this. I hope --

AXELROD: I agree.

O`DONNELL: I hope you can both come back while this debate continues to go

Thank you, David Axelrod and Robert Reich. Thank you both for joining me

AXELROD: Thanks.

REICH: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, a hero emerged from the terrorist massacre in Paris.
A Muslim hero. And he`s now a French citizen. That`s in the "Rewrite."


O`DONNELL: Yesterday, a federal jury in Philadelphia found a leader of the
Iron Workers Union guilty on 25 charges to extort and commit acts of
violence against nonunion contractors to try to force them to hire union

Joseph Dardy was convicted of extortion, racketeering, arson and
conspiracy. Eleven other defendants, all union members, pleaded guilty in
that case.

"The Rewrite" is next.


O`DONNELL: In "The Rewrite" tonight, a hero of the Paris terror attacks is
now a real French hero. Lassana Bathily arrived in France as a 16-year-old
Muslim immigrant from Mali in 2006. He`s now 24 years old. On January
9th, he was working in the stock room of the kosher supermarket in Paris
when a terrorist burst in and started shooting. Lassana Bathily risked his
own life to save others in that store.

Secretary of State John Kerry recounted Lassana Bathily`s heroic actions in
a speech last week at Paris city hall.


JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE (Through Translator): French mothers and
fathers will long tell their children and grandchildren that in these nine
days that followed the horrors of January 7th, ordinary men and women
became heroes at a moment`s notice. No doubt, you will tell them about
Lassana Bathily, a Muslim man from Mali, who risked his life to save Jewish
customers at the Hyper Cacher market.

When he heard the gunman break into the store, he didn`t think of himself
or his own safety. He helped more than a dozen customers hide downstairs
in the stock room`s cooler. He got word to the police, and in doing so, he
saved lives.

Asked why he did it, Lassana said simply we are brothers. It`s not a
question of Jews or Christians or Muslims. We all are in the same boat.
We have to help each other to get out of the crisis.


O`DONNELL: After the terrorist attack, more than 300,000 people signed an
online petition to grant Lassana Bathily legal status in France. His
citizenship application which he filed last year was immediately expedited
and yesterday, the French prime minister presented him with his French
passport. He also received a letter from the French president and a medal
for his bravery.

Lassana Bathily said he`s not a hero, and though he`s proud to become a
French citizen, the event is bittersweet, because his friend and co-worker,
Johan Cohen, was killed in the attack.



LASSANA BATHILY, FRENCH CITIZEN: I lost someone that I really liked. We
were always laughing together. From the start we were friends. We called
each other nicknames. Boss, Boss, instead of our first names. Tonight I
just want to send my condolences to the families, to the friends who lost
loved ones in the attack.


O`DONNELL: One of the family people from the kosher supermarket were in
the audience yesterday to cheer for him. He ended his remarks with a call
for liberty, friendship and solidarity.



O`DONNELL: On this day, in 1977, on his second day in office, President
Jimmy Carter granted unconditional pardons to the men who evaded the draft
during the Vietnam war by either failing to register with the selective
service system or fleeing to another country. An estimated 100,000
American men fled the country from the 1960s until 1973, when the draft
ended. With a majority of those people going to Canada to avoid the draft.

They contributed mightily to the pressure to both end the draft and end
that war. Their contribution to making peace in Vietnam, to getting
Americans out of Vietnam has never and will never be properly recognized.

We`ll be right back.


O`DONNELL: A departure from protocol, that was the overly polite phrase
the White House used today to describe House Speaker John Boehner secretly
inviting the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be the next
person to stand exactly where President Obama stood last night addressing a
joint assembly of the House and Senate.

It was news to the White House today when Speaker Boehner announced that
Benjamin Netanyahu would be addressing Congress on February 11th. Normally
invitations for foreign heads of state to address Congress are issued with
the full cooperation of the president and congressional leaders. But not
this time.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Did you consult with the White House before
inviting Prime Minister Netanyahu? And secondly, is this just a way to
sort of poke this president in the eye on an issue like Iran when you know
he very much opposes what he want to do?

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: I did not consult with the White
House. The Congress can make this decision on its own. I don`t believe
I`m poking anyone in the eye. There is a serious threat that exists in the
world, and the president last night kind of papered over it. And the fact
is, there needs to be a more serious conversation in America about how
serious the threat is, from radical Islamic jihadists and the threat posed
by Iran.


O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Phyllis Bennis, director of the New
Internationalism project at the Institute for Policy Studies.

Phyllis, it seems that John Boehner`s unsatisfied with the Republican
response to the State of the Union address delivered last night by Joni
Ernst officially and then unofficially by Rand Paul and a bunch of other
Republicans doing kind of Tea Party responses. And so now the next
response will actually be right where the president stood last night and
it`ll be Benjamin Netanyahu.

What do you expect to hear?

going to hear goes beyond the partisan side. This is partisan here at home
where Boehner is really directly trying to undermine Obama`s initiative,
particularly when President Obama said specifically that he would veto any
new legislation that would call for new sanctions against Iran.

It`s not only about the partisan side in Israel, where this is clearly also
designed to shore up Bibi Netanyahu`s chances in the March elections in
Israel. But this is much more urgently involved with the political essence
of the question of the negotiations with Iran. Those negotiations are
going forward. There are two deadlines coming. There`s a March 1st and a
July 1st deadline.

And what I think President Obama was recognizing, although unfortunately
not saying as explicitly as he might, those who want new sanctions in Iran
are supporting war. That`s what he`s going to hear from Bibi Netanyahu.
He`s going to hear there must be new sanctions, that there should be no
deal with Iran that is possible to get because there is no deal that we
could accept.

And I think it`s a very, very dangerous move, because this is really about
the divergence between the policy of the United States and the policy of
Israel, where there is some real difference. This is not what Secretary of
State Kerry said yesterday -- last night when he said there is no
difference between the U.S. and Israel on what we want to accomplish. We
all want to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons.

The problem is, that is not the Israeli position. That is the U.S.
position. The Israeli position is, we will not allow Iran to have the
capacity to ever get a nuclear weapon sometime in the future, if they ever
decided to, which U.S. intelligence officials have been unanimous in saying
they have not made any such decision. But that`s a very different so-
called red line.

Israel says they will not be allowed to have the capacity. The U.S. says
we will not allow them to do it. There`s a vast gap between those two, and
what we`re seeing is that Bibi Netanyahu and his office, his ambassador
here, Ron Dermer, has apparently for several weeks been engaged in lobbying
Congress directly. This was in a newspaper in Israel today, that there is
a direct lobbying campaign by the Israeli prime minister to convince
members of Congress to vote directly against what President Obama says our
foreign policy should be.

O`DONNELL: Phyllis Bennis, I`m sorry we`re out of time for tonight.


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