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tv   NOW With Alex Wagner  MSNBC  March 27, 2014 1:00pm-2:01pm PDT

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proactive about our long-term debt realities. say what you want, our financial lives depend on that. okay. that does it for "the cycle." "now" with wag wag starts right now. the chris christie commission on chris christie's role in bridgegate is out and you will never guess what it found. it is thursday, march 27th. this is "now." >> we just heard the findings from the report. >> clears him and the scandal. >> chris christie had no knowledge before hand of this george washington bridge realignment. >> this is chris christie's lawyer essentially. >> he played no role whatsoever. this is somebody chosen by christie. >> hired by the governor himself. >> represents the governor's office. >> paid for with state funds. >> it puts blame squarely on the
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governor's aides. >> there's a lot of blame for bridget kelly. >> bridget kelly lied to her colleagues. >> the main focus of the report is going to be quite critical of mayor don zimmer. >> mayor zimmer's allegations are not only unsubstantiated. they are demonstrably false. >> law firm hired by the new jersey governor. >> mounting a new defense. >> 1999, the number of days since two access lanes to the george washington bridge were closed. >> this is not the final word. >> an act of personal or political animus, a breach of the public trust, deceptive and vindictive. but governor chris christie had nothing to do with it. that was the finding of an internal review released today by a team hired by the governor's office to investigate the george washington bridge lane closures last september.
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for governor cristy's purposes, it was taxpayer money well spent. >> there not a shred of evidence that the governor did anything other than what he said before, he had no knowledge before hand and no role in the decision to implement it or in the implementation of it. >> indeed, the shreds of hard evidence, all of them, according to the christie commissioned internal review, the shreds of hard evidence all pile up around basically two people -- david wildstein, cristy's port authority point man who orchestrated the closure, and former top aide bridget kelly, who wrote that infamous email, "time for some traffic problems in ft. lee." but despite 70 interviews and reviews of more than 250,000 documents, randy was at a loss to come up with a motivation.
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here he is on david wildstein. >> he seemed to have personal and political animus towards a variety of people. >> maybe, maybe not. touch know since david wide steen was not among those interviewed in this investigation. wildstein and his, quote, bizarre personal and political animus, refused to cooperate, as did bridge et kelly, as did christie's former campaign manager, bill stepien, as did the former port authority executive, basically all the key players in the entire drama. the fact that this investigation which is being called in the words of randy himself comprehensive and exhaustive, the fact that it seems to be anything but comprehensive or
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exhaustive does not seem to bother chris christie at all. not one bit. why not? this apparently is why. >> you don't just come to conclusions from interviews. there's lots and lots of documents that involve all those people. >> documents. who needs to talk to wildstein or ba row knee or kelly? there are documents. the report announcing his vindication commissioned by a lawyer this with close ties to chris christie but paid for by the taxpayers of new jersey to the tune of about a million dollars, that report comes at a very opportune moment for chris christie. he's heading off to las vegas to meet sheldon adelson. he'll be joined by jeb bush, scott walker, john kasich, all names being floated for republican nomination. and why not? now that he's washed hi hands of
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the bridgegate stink, what is to stop him from seeking the highest office in the land? joining me is nbc news investigative correspondent michael isikoff and political reporter for "the new york times," michael barbaro. michael, you've been doing great reporting on this. what did you make of this report? it reads like a personal defense than an actual investigation. on the one subject everyone wants to know about, did chris christie know about the saga as it was happening there is this strangely worded defense. i'll just read it for people who have not had access to this point. david wildstein suggest head mentioned the traffic in ft. lee to the governor in a public event during the lane realignment. a reference that the governor does not recall and even if actually made would not have registered with the governor because he knew nothing about this decision in advance and
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would not have considered another traffic issue at one of the bridges or tunnels to be memorable. it reads almost like a stream of consciousness from the governor himself. >> it is a claim the governor has no recollection. i think we're seeing the outlines of a fascinating future showdown as this investigation moves forwards. between david wildstein and governor chris christie. did he tell him something in the middle of this? his lawyers are staying absolutely not. if it was anything, it was a passing reference and he did not absorb it. what was most interesting was this news conference where randy
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mas troe was behaving and sounding like a defense lawyer. he's described himself as an independent investigator hired by the governor's office to get to the bottom of this. there were moments today he sounded like somebody slipping into that defense attorney mode attempting to aggressively discredit those who have made allegations against governor chris christie. >> michael, let me just follow on that because, michael barbaro, the wording in and around the knowledge of the bridge lane closures seems ham handed and from a team that is focused on what seems to be legalese. i was surprised there wasn't more definition and clarity. i mean, at least in the verbiage. >> there is some ambiguity. just to break this down, there's a claim from david wildstein that he mentioned the traffic issue, the traffic study to
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governor chris christie at owl all places a september 11th memorial event down near ground zero. and that even if it were true allows the governor's office to say he nad no prior knowledge and he wasn't involved. but it does create this strange little opening where in the governor might have been told something but might not have registered it. again, they are saying that he has no recollection of being told about it and even if he had been told about it he wasn't told about it as some ulterior motive act of political intimidation. but you're right, there's a strange little bit of ambiguity here that may be just an honest attempt to say that there are things that we don't know while also acknowledging that a major player, david wildstein, may have some serious allegations that he'll make in the future. >> yeah, michael isikoff, we were talking a couple days ago when we knew this report was going to drop or had word that it was going to come out in a few days and you reading the tea
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leaves as you so expertly do, suggested that the thing to look for was whether or not the way in which this report discussed the actions of bridget kelly and david wildstein. no knowing that they have yet to play their cards or lay them down on the table. it seems clear that it's war because as i read -- and i will admit i only read the executive summary -- there's plenty of character assassination in here, whether it's the political and personal animus charge that is lodged at david wildstein or the revelation or the suggestion on the part of team christie that kelly and stepien or kelly and wildstein were involved in some kind of affair. >> the reports are kelly and stepien had a personal relationship that cooled by the time of the actual lane low columbus, ohio sures. no question this is harsh on bridget kelly and some quite incriminating details we hadn't
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heard before, that she actually tried to have a -- one-e mail exchange we have -- she had with an aide about mayor sokolich deleted. she asked the aide to delete the e-mail at the time that the governor's office, his chief of staff, dowd, was asking to see any e-mails they might have that might be relevant to this, bridget kelly asked the aide to delete it. the aide kept a copy, turned it over. that's how we saw it for the first time. but, look, we haven't heard from bridget kelly. we haven't heard from david wildstein. oddly, this report which was commissioned by the governor, we don't see a transcript or really any details of what governor christie himself told his own investigators. i thought that was a quite a significant omission. there's very few if any direct quotes from governor christie about what he recalls here. in fact, in that one exchange
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with wildstein in which wildstein says he told the governor something about a traffic study or a traffic issue when they met on september 11th, the report quotes kevin o'dowd, the chief of staff, saying the governor does not recall the conversation. it doesn't directly quote where what governor christie remembered about the conversation. i thought that was an interesting and important omission. >> it's also interesting because when you read it, the language, michael isikoff, it almost sounds like a quote. it almost sounds like -- we have heard chris christie do the even if i did know i would have thought it was memorable because i'm the governor of the state. it is telling there are no quote marks around that or anywhere around the governor's statements. part of the reason, michael isikoff, there are many reasons why i find this report fairly outlandish, one is the presumption that it's exhaustive and complete without talking to any of the major players, but
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also, it's a defense document that christie's defense team effectively that has been paid for by new jersey taxpayers. there were a lot of questions today about the price tag of this. >> right. a million dollars is the estimate we've seen. look, the report is not nothing. there are a lot of dee tails in here. there's a lot of e-mails we haven't seen before. there's a lot of casualties, some of them pretty dramatic, when cristy calls his staff together after press reports, slams the door, says the confessionals are open. now, again, this is all according to the governor's own aides. but just to give you a flavor for how much this was really a defense document, the report notes that, you know, kelly, wildstein, stepien have all invoked their fifth amendment rights and then rights remarkably i thought for a lawyer that adverse inferences could be drawn from their
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assertion of their constitutional rights not to testify. yet when it comes to david sampson, one of the governor's top allies, the chairman of the port authority, he, too, did not cooperate in this probe. he, too, did not agree to be interviewed. but the report does not suggest there are any adverse inferences that should be drawn from that. >> michael barbara, before we wrap it up here, don zimmer, the report on don zimmer, who has claimed that her town of hoboken was not able to access the hurricane sandy funds that it needed because of basically political retribution and support for development project, in the report it claims that our investigation found that major zimmer's allegations are in material respects demonstrably false and that's basically all we hear about it. don zimmer in a statement today said mastro's conclusion that
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hoboken would not get the money it deserves i would testify under oath as part of any legitimate investigation. the governor's office clearly wants the zimmer allegations to go the way of the dinosaur. does don zimmer still have legs in her charge? >> there appears to be a lot less documentary evidence inside the christie administration on their government servers in that case that would be problematic for the governor's case than in perhaps the bridge lane closing case where there's just lot more information sitting around for everyone to pore through. what i found interesting is that once again in the mode of defense attorneys, the internal says on what planet would a lieutenant governor make such a statement in public? you'd have to believe this and that. so it's just dais basically saying this stuff is improbable and crazy and falls back more heavily than i would have
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imagined on the simple suggestion this stuff is sort of wild. >> yes. and actually at one point it does assert that david wide steen's claims are crazy, crazy skeems like ones concocted before. michael isikoff and michael barbaro, thanks for your thoughts. >> just ahead, the potus and the pope. as the two world leaders meet today, the president's former spiritual adviser, joshua dubois and "the washington post's" melinda hennenberger join me for a discussion about faith, humility, and poverty. but first details on the latest clues for the search on flight 370. ahhh. beautiful day in baltimore where most people probably know that geico could save them money on car insurance, right? you see the thing is geico, well, could help them save on boat insurance too. hey!
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a thai satellite has detected about 300 objects floating in the ocean in the search area for flight 370. it is 120 miles away from where a french satellite spotted 122 objects over the weekend. for now, the families of the missing passengers are left waiting. today, authorities suspended searches for the second time this week citing severe weather. according to the head of the american navy surveillance team, the search zone is plagued by severe turbulence, severe icing and basically zero visibility. joining me now is nbc's tom costel costello. how confident should we be we are on to a real lead given the number of objects sighted in just the past few days? >> i think fa that's why people are thinking this may be something. back to the weather, you saw the
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images from perth, australia, the plane coming in. perth is right about here and they've got pretty good weather, as you can see, blue skies. the trouble is the search zone is down in this area here. this is about, as we said many times, 1,600 miles, like flying from new york to denver. so new york's weather is not going to be denver's weather. right? and they have had horrendous weather conditions. they've had very low visibility. they've had icing, high winds, and also, you know, the water is nothing but white tops. imagine looking for any debris in an ocean of nothing but white tops and you've got waves of 10, 20, 30 feet high and gusting winds and icing conditions. it's treacherous. it's dangerous. so they pulled those teams back today, back to perth, australia. they're hoping to get out tomorrow, but weather may again impede that and then on sunday more bad weather is coming. that's the situation. it's that time of year in that part of the world. all right. now let's talk about these images that you mentioned. we have to go here and then go here. these are the thai images.
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if you're thinking what am i looking at, it almost looks like the night sky. that's the problem. right? there's not a lot of good definition in any of these images. but the reason that they think this may be something is because it is about 300 or so as you mentioned different images within about 125 miles or so of those french images. now let's take a look at those french images. again, these rr taken on sunday, i believe, and the french images also hard to make out, but they're spotting them through the cloud cover and they thought they captured about 125 or so. so they're thinking they may have something clustering together there in that part of the south indian ocean and the southern ocean. the trouble is there's so much junk floating around out there too. they don't know till they actually get eyes on the debris. that's what the ships are hopefully going do for them. back to you. >> the search continues. tom costello, thanks for the update. coming up, the senate
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finally began voting this afternoon on a bipartisan plan to restore unemployment insurance for millions of americans. it's only taken three months. but will republicans in the house once more give cold shoulder to 2 million american citizens? nbc's casey hunt joins me for the late nest gop antics. that is just ahead. i'm randy, and i quit smoking with chantix. as a police officer, i've helped many people in the last 23 years, but i needed help in quitting smoking. [ male announcer ] along with support, chantix varenicline is proven to help people quit smoking. chantix reduced the urge for me to smoke. it actually caught me by surprise. [ male announcer ] some people had changes in behavior, thinking, or mood, hostility, agitation, depressed mood, and suicidal thoughts or actions while taking or after stopping chantix. if you notice any of these, stop chantix and call your doctor right away. tell your doctor about any history of mental-health problems, which could get worse while taking chantix. don't take chantix if you've had a serious allergic or skin reaction to it. if you develop these, stop chantix and see your doctor right away,
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was constant. >> i think what the theme that's stitched our conversation together was a belief that in politics and in life the quality of empathy, the ability to stand in somebody else's shoes and to care for someone even if they don't look like you or talk like you or share your philosophy, that that's critical. it's the lack of empathy that makes it very easy for us to plunge into wars. it's the lack of empathy that allows us to ignore the homeless on the streets. and obviously central to my christian faith is a belief in treating others as i'd have them treat me.
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and what's i think created so much love and excitement for his holiness has been that he seems to live the and shows that joy continuously. >> joining me now is the former executive director of the white house office of faith-based and neighborhood partnerships, joshua dubois, and write we are "the washington post," my former boss, melinda hennenberger. >> hey, alex. >> how are you? let pe me start with you, melinda, because what strikes me about the meeting today is here are two men who are the heads of major institutions and ones that are plagued with mistrust or distrust, the president of course is the head of the u.s. government and the pope is the head of the catholic church. and if you look at the number, public trust in government has gone, has just dropped from 60% after september 11th to 19% as of october of last year. likewise in a longer period of time when americans are asked about the honesty and ethical standards of clergy, gallup show
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67% of americans had confidence in the honesty and ethical standards, and that number has jumped 20% to 47%. how effective do you think these two men can be in restoring trust in their respective institutions? >> well, you'd have to say that pope francis seems to be doing a pretty good job with that. i mean, he obviously has some important things that he has to do i think to complete restoring that trust. fist and foremost, you know, he just appointed this commission of people including a victim of sexual abuse from the clery to look at that issue and protecting children. i do think unless they get that right nothing else pope francis does will have the power that it could otherwise have. but 8 out of 10 catholics really has a very high approval rating -- approval of the pope. so i think he's doing really well in that regard.
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the thing that struck me most about this meeting was that the president was just -- seemed so incharacteristically odd and genuinely thrilled to be in his presence and asking for prayers for his family and really saying i would so appreciate that. and the pope, too, so warm in and saying i really want you to feel at home here. so the vibe certainly seemed good. >> you know, joshua, that's a great point that melinda makes. the warmth was tangible. rhetoric and also behavior that was on display. you know this better than anybody else. the president talks periodically about his christian faith, but what struck me is recently he has been talking all about fairness and economic equality and he's been pushing for an increase in the minimum wage, a rebalancing of the scales if you will. he has not couched any of that really in christianity, which, of course, he could. and i wonder, you know, from your perspective what -- how much does faith undergird this
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newest set of policy proposals from the white house? >> well, it's a part of almost everything he talks about. we have to remember that, you know, from the president's earliest days as an organizer in chicago he wasn't just any old organiz organizer. he was organizing among churches and funded by the catholic church, one of his greatest inspirations was the archbishop of chicago, who coined the phrase the seamless garment, we have to care about folks at the point of life and death but also every moment in between. this is in the president's dna, his bone, this notion of catholic social teaching. it's not something he may always make explicit but he thinks about it all the time. >> surprise to most of us, probably was a welcomed development for this president who i think has not had the greatest relationship with the catholic church in recent years. >> well, listen, you know, the white house wouldn't say it this way and the vatican won't, but i think today was the beginning of a major reset between the
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relationship, between the administration and the catholic church. pope benedict was wonderful but he didn't necessarily have an ability to change the domestic political dynamic between the white house and catholics. francis, on the other hand, can do that. if he and obama lead with reconciliation and with finding common ground, i think you'll see that the catholic bishops in the united states follow. that's going to have a major effect. >> melinda, would you agree with that? the u.s. conference on kath lish bishops has come out against this white house very hard. there's a lot of back and forth over the subject of the contraception mandate and the affordable care act. could pope francis be the catalyst to reconcile the sort of broader catholic community in this white house and more specifically make any headway with the more conservative elements of the church? >> i'm not so sure. i mean, i think it's a great moment, but as for a reset, for some of the bishops, of course it depends which bishops, right,
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and i think it's important to say that it was only a small number who were suing. but still i don't think for those who have been heavy critics and really were looking to this moment sort of hoping there would be a major tongue-lashing from the pope to the president, i don't know that they're going to have a big change of heart because of this meeting. but i don't think it's the pope's style. it's not his m.o. to send anybody away i think feeling, you know -- frowning and feeling bad about the meeting. i mean, he talks a lot about a faith that entices us and entices the heart. so it's -- wouldn't have been his way to come in with a sledgehammer and i think those who were expecting that were bound to be disappointed. >> i think the most divisive voices in the church will still continue to be divisive but it's about which voices get the most
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attention. it's going to be really hard, you know, for politicized, you know, overly political bishop to come out because he's going to stand out strongly in contrast to pope francis. i think it's about proportionality and who gets the most attention. >> melinda? >> yeah, they definitely have a lot of overlap, right? not only on poverty issues but also on immigration. i was very interested and i'd love to know if when they were talking about immigration today whether the pope said, you know, there are a thousand deportations every day in the united states under your administration that you could stop tomorrow. and i know a lot of hispanic catholics were hoping that the pope would encourage the president to change on that policy. >> i've only to be a swiss guard in the vatican today. >> that's right. >> i don't think any of us are very close to that but fascinating moment for both this papacy and this president. joshua dubois and melinda,
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thanks for your time. >> thanks. >> after the break, the iceman cometh but after months of irs and benghazi probes that have cost millions of taxpayer dollars and man-hour, some would like to see the issa man goeth. one joins me next. we need it right away! we cannot let the fans down. don't worry! the united states postal service will get it there on time with priority mail flat rate shipping. ♪
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darrell issa persists on his conspiracy anywhere. yesterday at the seventh oversight committee hearing on the irs, he berated the irs commissioner for not turning over all of the subpoenaed documents, something the irs director said he would be happy to do. but issa must find strife where there apparently is none, a cover-up where there is transparency. so he dedicated a considerable and some would say unhealthy portion of his time focused with laser-like precision on the e-mails of a single woman, former irs official lois lerner. >> lois lerner is an individual, we're asking for all of her e-mail. we haven't received all of lois lerner'ser, e-mails, one of the things we asked for. you could have given ways and means all of lerner's e-mails in a matter of seconds. all of lois lerner's e-mails is
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the highest current priority of this committee and will remain so as long as i'm chairman. >> do you think darrell issa wants all of lois lerner's emails? he can have all of her emails. >> we are providing you lois lerner's e-mails with regard to issues you raised. we're working hard to get you the lois lerner e-mails. what they want is something that will take years to produce. >> years? but what are years to darrell issa? after all, his investigation into benghazi has dragged on for some 17 months. it's led nowhere and yet it is still happening. yesterday 17 democrats on the house oversight committee sent a letter to congressman issa urging him to drop the issue. "we believe it is time to end these seemingly endless and unsubstantiated political attacks," his colleagues wrote. this letter, this plea for sanity, was sent around the same time that a letter from the pentagon to democratic congressman adam smith was made public, a letter which confirmed that the department of defense
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has spent thousands of man-hours and millions of taxpayer dollars responding to the benghazi investigations. will it be enough to end darrell issa''s quest? joining me now to help determine an answer to that question is a democratic representative from washington's ninth district and ranking member of the house armed services committee, congressman smith, thanks for joining me and talking about a perplexing situation on capitol hill. >> yes. >> in our eyes has darrell issa ever enacted or the led the charge on a piece of reform that you think is meaningful? >> well, there's actually nothing perplexing about it. darrell issa and not just darrell issa, by the way, there are other committees including the armed services committee that have over and over and over again looked into benghazi and the irs as well, they're being partisan. they desperately want something they can blame on the obama administration. that is not the role of
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oversight for the armed services commit tear or for the government oversight committee. yes, we are supposed to exercise oversight, but that oversight is determine facts, to learn what happened, to figure out how to prevent thing like this from happening in the future, but that's not what they are doing. they are desperate to find something to embarrass the president. the only problem there is nothing there, and millions of dollars and thousands of man-hours later, that is abundantly apparent. there is nothing there. on benghazi, it was i think well over a year ago that even the republican-led house armed services committee said the department of defense did everything they could have done in that case. and yet even after saying that they went back and did another investigation and issued another report at the urging of the republican leadership. this is a witch-hunt. this is not congressional oversight. and it is a sad waste of dollars, waste of time and just something else that undermines the credibility of this institution. >> well, and that steams to be a goal, too, right?
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it's easy to criticize government and call it ineffective when you're gumming up the works and wasting resources and man-hours on stuff like this. i wonder how much your letter to chairman issa has grained traction inside the republican party because this is all an issue of defense resources and at the time of talking about budget cuts, is this the best use of resources? have any republicans said we agree? >> yes, there have been some, gosh, months ago sald we need to stop doing this. my hope is at least on the house armed services committee, which usually has a bipartisan tradition, chairman buck mckeen and i work closely together, but at least on that committee they'll understand the need to move off this. it's a troubling trend, the partisanship. we've seen it on the ukraine, the response from the republican party and on the armed services committee in many instances has been nakedly partisan in the way they've tried to find some way to blame this on the obama administration. and that is not, again, congress exercising the right oversight
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role. it's pure partisanship that undermines our credibility. like you said, maybe there's a bunch of republicans that say as long as the country doesn't like congress, so much the better. but it's not good for the country. >> indeed the not. congressman adam smith, thank you for your efforts on capitol hill and thank you for your time today. >> thank you. coming up, since 2008, congress has voted to extend or expand unemployment assistance 12 times. can they make it a baker's doesen? it's up to john boehner. that's straight ahead. when folks in the lower 48 think about what they get from alaska,
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they think salmon and energy. but the energy bp produces up here creates something else as well: jobs all over america. thousands of people here in alaska are working to safely produce more energy. but that's just the start. to produce more from existing wells, we need advanced technology. that means hi-tech jobs in california and colorado. the oil moves through one of the world's largest pipelines. maintaining it means manufacturing jobs in the midwest.
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then we transport it with 4 state-of-the-art, double-hull tankers. some of the safest, most advanced ships in the world: built in san diego with a $1 billion investment. across the united states, bp supports more than a quarter million jobs. and no energy company invests more in the u.s. than bp. when we set up operation in one part of the country, people in other parts go to work. that's not a coincidence. it's one more part of our commitment to america. mary thompson has the "cnbc market wrap." the dow fell five points, the s&p gave up 3 1/2, the nasdaq fell more than 22. that's it from cnbc, first business worldwide.  your eyes depend on a unique set of nutrients.
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republicans are up in arms over the fact that millions of
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americans have had to switch their health insurance plans under the rules of the affordable care act. so given that, why don't they care at all that 2.2 million americans have lost their unemployment assistance? the reason -- grand old priorities. that is next. this is for you. ♪ [ male announcer ] bob's heart attack didn't come with a warning. today his doctor has him on a bayer aspirin regimen to help reduce the risk of another one. if you've had a heart attack, be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen.
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they even reward me for addressing my health risks. so i'm doing fine... but she's still gonna give me a heart attack. innovations that work for you. that's health in numbers. unitedhealthcare. it has been 90 days since congress failed to extend unemployment assistance for millions of jobless americans. 90 days in which millions of people now over 2 million have gone without monthly unemployment insurance check, checks that are often the only lifeline keeping them out of poverty. but today there was at least a glimmer of progress when the senate voted 65-34 to begin debate on a bipartisan deal that would create a five-month extension for this assistance and make payments to those who have been living without that lifeline for most of the winter. a vote on the unemployment
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extension package in the senate is likely to happen early next week, but as usual, it is unclear if the republican-held house will take the bipartisan effort seriously and give it a vote. while john boehner sits on his hands and decide what is to do about it, 2 million americans are waiting. those americans are people like ricky ward, a 59-year-old california woman who was laid off from her customer service job in march of last year and has since been relying on unemployment assistance and help from family members to get her through what has been a very, very tough year, one that has been full of sacrifice. since she stopped receiving her unemployment insurance, ricky ward has had to make tough choices and she continues to. yesterday she told the h"the huffington post", "i now have to decide if i'm going to sell my car to keep my home or lose my home and live in my car." joining me from capitol hill is nbc's kasie hunt. there are five republicans in support of this deal. do you think their action on
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this is enough to pressure some kind of vote in the house? >> that's what republicans said that they were hoping for here, some of the moderate republican who is did end up backing opening debate on this bill. they said the more of us vote for this, the more likely it will be that house speaker john boehner will reconsider the position he said he's called this extension, quote, unworkable. there were more republicans today who voted to open debate on this bill than we were initially expecting, including a couple of the senators who had dropped out of bipartisan negotiations earlier on. but if you look at who was backing this, it's really senators from purple states or blue states or place where is the unemployment rate is very high. senator dean heller of nevada who is senate majority leader harry reid's counterpart on the republican side spearheaded these negotiations. so the question is whether at this point this is enough to convince boehner that the dynamicings here have changed. >> what do you think changed the minds of those republicans, the five portman, collins, heller,
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murkowski and kirk, why debate if you're not going to ultimately vote for the extension of unemployment assistance? >> we've seen a lot of this over the last year or so in the senate where there will be more support on this initial vote to begin debate you saw with the gun bill, for example, republicans had to show where they voted to start debating on a background check bill, then ultimately it couldn't get the 60 votes it needed to go to a final vote. i would be surprised if all ten of these senators voted to on closure on the bill itself next week when it comes up, but it sounds like at this point there are the five co-sponsors of the bill who are willing to go forward and support it. >> kasie, john boehner said about extending unemployment assistance, he told the president he would consider it as long as it was paid for and as long as there were provisions attached that would help the economy and help get people back to work. chose conditions have not been met. i don't see how it's workable. this has been paid for.
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what's john boehner's problem? >> this historically has been something that's passed be bipartisan support. it's not typically run into this level of opposition since the great recession, if you will. and as you say, there are provisions in this that would pay for it. boehner is also citing this letter from state groups that say that this extension is unworkable. there is to a certain extent the gridlock we've already seen has delayed this by so much that simply figuring out how to implement it, how do you find out who's still unemployed, how do you make sure people are getting the right amount of money they're owed from the time of december 28th up until now, that's causing a lot of bureaucratic headaches. because this extension is only five months long, a lot of the states are concerned that by the time they figure out how to fix it the bill will have expired and we'll be back having the same fight all over again. that's not to say that house speaker john boehner's argument in the view of democrats is valid, but the gridlock that has dogged this bill from the beginning has really just
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general rated all sorts of struggles. >> what's shocking and deplorable about all this is that millions of americans continue to be added to these roles as numbers increasing when this assistance first expired, 1.2 million, 1.5 million americans, now it's over 2 million americans without this lifeline. kasie, the fact that red state -- or blue state republicans or republicans in districts or state where is there is high unemployment are feeling the pressure on this makes me wonder if this is not going to become some kind of election-year issue. we're seeing a lot from the democrats in the way of forcing republican hands on what i think are important issues, not just this but also immigration. we know that there is going to be a discharge petition introduced in the house to force republicans not to take up the issue of immigration reform. that is going nowhere. how effective will it be as a talking point in the midterms this year? >> this certainly fits into the overall theme that democrats are looking to push going into the midterm elections. you saw earlier this week senate
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democrats rolled out a legislative agenda that's aimed at highlighting these types of pocketbook issues. in addition to unemployment, you have pay equity, the minimum wa wage, things that are designed to convince voters that democrats are the party that help them, the party that cares about the middle class as opposed to republicans, an argument that worked well against normmitt romney in 2012. whether it's enough to distract from health care and the problems with the rollout there something the democrats are still worried about. >> quickly before we go, is there any consternation in republican circles behind the scenes that their hands are being forced on this and that moderate republicans cannot do what their conscious dictates, which is take up the issue of unemployment assistance and immigration reform? >> i think there's still significant republican frustration across the board with some of the more conservative members of the caucus. i think that's being reflected this-in how you're seeing the house speaker very carefully handle this issue. i mean, it's difficult to be put in the position where, you know,
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if you don't do anything about it you're going to be accused of essentially hurting the unemployed and the same thing's going to happen if you do put it on the floor and your conservatives vote it down. >> john boehner all eyes on you. nbc's kasie hunt, thanks. >> thank you. >> luke russert is in for me tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. eastern. "the ed show" is up next. good evening, americans. welcome to "the ed show" live from detroit. let's get to work. >> on the internal bridgegate investigation. >> are a vindication of governor christie and what he said all along. >> all i know is i don't know. >> it's a search for the truth. >> they couldn't get everybody in this. they couldn't get the most crucial player. >> i refuse to be interviewed. >> we believe we had got on the truth. >> if they weren't interviewed, how do you come to that conclusion? >> are you stupid

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