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tv   Weekends With Alex Witt  MSNBC  June 2, 2013 9:00am-11:01am PDT

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citi simplicity card is the only card that never has late fees, a penalty rate, or an annual fee, ever. go to citi.com/simplicity to apply. at this hour, more violent weather expected as the flooding problem grows in the midwest and the plains. more than one congressman just back from russia says the boston bombings could have been prevented if one action had been taken. the 9-year-old activist who saved his school. you're going to meet him. how he took on chicago's mayor and won. in office politics, tod"tod show's morales. it is high noon here in the east. 9:00 a.m. out west. welcome to "weekends with alex witt." an apparent terror plot targeting the u.s. and europe, it has been foiled overseas. iraqi officials say they've arrested a terror cell that planned on using chemical
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weapons with an unusual delivery system. let's go to jim, joining us live from beirut. let's get to the story. what's this all about, jim? >> reporter: hi, alex. well, on saturday, the iraqi defense ministry paraded four individuals before the press, saying that they were four of five who had been arrested, and subsequently confessed to having the intent to produce poisonous chemical weapons in baghdad. the accused allegedly said they were trained by an al qaeda affiliate in an unnamed foreign country, and that they were coordinating with another cell to smuggle these poisons in liquid form for future attacks. you're absolutely right about the display. it was a very unusual delivery system. a couple of small remote-controlled helicopters were to be used to release these chemicals over the tar get. the idea, it seems, was to do
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this from a safe distance, a mile or so, according to a bbc report. alex, so far no indication whether these individuals were iraqis. they presumably speak arabic, though they were hooded. >> hang on, jim. those remote-controlled helicopters, they look like an average toy. are they? >> reporter: yeah, we need to get into the realm of tom clancy here. they did in fact -- they did look like toys, no question. but you also see in that -- in the press conference footage, two very excited, sometimes walking gingerly, wearing gloves, and chemical suits, and gas masks, these were officials, defense officials who were obviously concerned about what was inside these canisters and
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cases and bottles that they were carrying. police say that the -- the iraqi police say they've been following with intelligence officials for three or four months now the cell that they arrested them after, that they acquired raw materials. but before they actually produced any weapons. they mentioned sarin, which, of course, is deadly. mustard gas as well, as a potential chemical weapon that could have been used. but you're right, i mean, toy choppers, releasing chemicals from a mile away. now, if they could have pulled that off, they could have done serious damage. but again, it sounds like a pretty big if. back to you. >> okay. jim asada, thank you for that shocking story. after meeting with officials in russia, two u.s. congressmen say the boston bombings might have been prevented. bill keating and dana errrohrba
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said the communications between the u.s. and russia have opened up substantially since the april bombings. that could have made all the difference in stopping the suspects. >> one of the things that the head of counterterrorism said to us, was that he believed if we had the level of information sharing and cooperation that is taking place right now, if we had had that back at that period of time, then the bombing might have been averted. >> well, the house homeland security committee is planning to hold the first hearing on the boston bombings this week. let's go to the plains now where flash floods are a big problem in central oklahoma and arkansas after tornadoes killed nine and injured more than 100. the most damage happened a few miles north of moore, which was pounded by an ef-5 tornado.
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st. louis was hit by an ef-3 tornado with winds of about 150 miles an hour. that same storm system is heading towards the densely populated east coast, hail and high winds are the biggest threat there. joining me now, nbc sarah on the scene there in el reno, oklahoma. sarah, let's get the latest on the recovery efforts. what are you seeing there? >> reporter: good afternoon, alex. after the storm we have shifted to the recovery. as you can see, they have a very large mess to clean up here. these homes completely devastated by the tornado. pieces of people's lives literally spilling out of the attic and onto the ground. there's also the matter of restoring power to this area. we're waiting on updated numbers this afternoon. but as many as 90,000 oklahomans without power at one point, thanks to this storm. there's also the difficult case of the loss of human life. nine people right now killed in this storm here in oklahoma. and it's very difficult for this
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community, since they are still burying the dead from the powerful ef-5 tornado twister in moore just last week. >> well, sarah, with regard to the flash flooding, can we ask you about that? that has been something we've heard so much about. has that area been affected by it? >> reporter: not as much as some of the other areas. you hear in arkansas where the people were swept away by the flash flooding. but it is a concern here. luckily the weather today is cooperating, at least for the time being. we have clear skies, slightly warmer temperatures, and people are able to take a breath, get their bearings and start cleaning up, let the floodwaters recede right now. >> okay. sarah there in el reno, oklahoma. sarah, thank you for that update. that same storm system is moving east. dylan is here with the forecast. what should we expect on this? >> today in the northeast, it's different requirements as far as what is considered severe weather. and we're actually going to see a round of thunderstorms that could create some isolated small
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hail. and isolated tornado is possible. but it's more or less the straight line wind gusts for us in the northeast. you can see the area in yellow from northern new england right back down into virginia and west virginia. that's where we're focusing our attention on today. best chance of seeing any isolated tornadoes would be in the albany area, across eastern new york state and western massachusetts, up into southern vermont and southern new hampshire. that's an area we'll be focusing on, especially today. these thunderstorms are still looking like they could be pretty strong. doesn't look like much right now. and really, it's not. it's just hot and humid. and it's that heat and humidity that makes the atmosphere very unstable. so when that cold front actually gets here, that's why we're going to see the cold front actually be the trigger line for some of those showers and storms to fire up. so we are going to keep an eye on those later on this afternoon. for right now the heaviest of the rain is across southeastern texas. we're actually going to have to focus on some of the flooding in the midwest, because the mississippi and missouri rivers
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going above flood stage. that's more of an issue as we head into early next week. we have a lot to focus on, but for today it's the storms in the northeast. >> thanks for the heads-up on that. front-page politics and debate over national security and freedom of the press taking center stage today. reaction to eric holder and the justice department under fire for targeting journalists. >> i think the attorney general has definitely lost the trust of the american people. people feel betrayed by the conduct of this administration, and this attorney general. and, you know, it is an issue of leadership. >> there have been all kinds of accusations. but i haven't seen anything that would prevent him from continuing to do his job. obviously if there's wrongdoing, we should find out who did it. but the president has confidence in holder, and i believe he's going to stay. >> and new details on the controversy plaguing the irs.
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the house oversight committee will hold hearings starting tomorrow on the agency targeting conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status. peter alexander is joining me now from the white house. and with a good sunday to you, my friend. we're hearing from the chair of the house committee on oversight and government reform today ahead of tomorrow's hearing. what's he saying? >> we're going to hear about that hear from the acting head of the irs, who is defending his agency right now, at the same time as he tries to clean it up. the house oversight committee chair, darrell issa, went back on the offensive again, targeting eric holder, targeting this administration. but specifically on the issue of the irs, he said providing cnn with whom he was speaking earlier today that he has evidence, information that was part of an interview with one employee, in that cincinnati office viewed as the office where a lot of the irs targeting scandal began, that they say shows -- this actually started back here in washington, d.c.
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that it was directly ordered, in his words, from washington. take a listen to darrell issa earlier today. >> certainly people knew it was happening. they could have done something, and would have done something, i'm sure, if these had been progressive groups supporting the president. that's what i think we know. we're really more interested in fixing the irs. this -- we cannot put our investigation until we're sure this couldn't happen again. >> if they go too far, they will lose. and the -- looking into these investigations is no substitute for focusing on the economy, jobs and the middle class. and republicans are right to want to look into these things. but if they emphasize it too much, they're going to pay a price at the polls in 2014. >> alex, you can expect this is going to be another bad week for the irs. you talked about that hearing on monday. on tuesday, a new treasury department inspector general report comes out, specifically about excessive spending within the irs.
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there's a new video we showed that we spoke with you yesterday. this is a dance competition parody that was created for a conference in 2010. that one cost about $1,600 to produce, but on top of two others that cost $60,000 to produce. it's just another item that the irs is trying to defend against right now. the irs chair, as we said, has referred to this as inappropriate. saying it's a vestige of an old time. the irs trying to demonstrate the change that's already taking place in 2010, on some of these conferences. the number, they said, was about 37-plus million dollars spent on travel and training. in 2012, that number was much lower, closer to $5 million. that's the direction they need to be going during a time of sequester and furloughs. >> absolutely. dan said he's personally going to oversee this. the ricin letters investigation, why no arrests? the 9-year-old activist trying
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a curious twist in the investigation into who sent ricin-tainted letters to the mayor of new york city and president obama. law enforcement officials say they've searched a home in texas and interviewed a resident there. one official tells the associated press that the fbi initiated the search after being contacted by the resident's wife. the home is located in new boston, texas, right near the oklahoma and arkansas borders. joining me now from the "washington post," erin blake, and casey hunt, and with a welcome to both of you. erin, i begin with you here because you wrote about this. why is it so hard to track down the person or persons
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responsible? >> that's a good question. you talked about the interviewing of the man in texas. apparently his wife is the one who turned him in, or alerted the authorities to this. i think after what happened last time, where they got the wrong guy initially, or at least, you know, had to release their initial suspect, they're probably very concerned that they might arrest the wrong person again and it would look very bad. so i think it's probably an abundance of caution at this point that they're just taking their time making sure they have the right person before they actually formally arrest somebody. >> can you talk about any materials they may have taken from the home? you've got to think they've done a search, more than just interviewing people. >> it's not really clear at this point. i think there have been lots of stories written in recent days about how easy it is, in fact, to make this substance. the people who tend to make this don't make a very potent form of it, but it is a pretty easy thing to make. so i imagine the police are looking for all those materials,
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and we'll see what happens in the next few days here. i would expect them to move pretty quickly. >> yeah, easy to make, but can you remind viewers of what happens if you come into contact with ricin? >> well, basically what happens is, it's a very poisonous substance, but it has actually killed very few people. you essentially need to ingest it rather than just breathe it in. i think there's only one person on record in the united states that has been killed from ricin and that was in 1978. it's a very poisonous substance, but it's not something that, at least, you know, crafted by amateurs, is going to be instantly fatal or anything like that, when people open up a letter that contains it. >> okay. let's switch gears now. i want to talk about the hot topic on sunday's talk shows, calling for eric holder to step down over the associated press snooping, if you will. the chairman of the house intelligence committee, mike rogers, spoke to david gregory
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on "meet the press." let's take a listen. >> do you think the attorney general should keep his job? should he resign? >> i think that's going to be up to him. i think how he handles this moving forward is critically important. i've argued from the beginning, they just need to lay it out on the table. >> the president has defended holder. but if this controversy persists, do you think there is a point at which the president would have to ask holder to step down? >> you know, i think we're getting closer to that, certainly. i think that the administration has been resistant to that, for good reason. the moment that eric holder steps down, in light of all this, is the moment that it looks like they did something wrong, which at least when it comes to this leaks investigation, they've still maintained they did nothing wrong, and that in fact the actions were justified for national security purposes. so i think that's the reason they've been hesitant to go to that point. i do think that president obama is more supportive of eric holder than the rest of his administration is. the question is, when those other people in the
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administration actually prevail on him to make a change, and do something that's going to help them, at least from a public relations perspective. >> the president, these numbers offered by a poll which shows 72% of americans believe the government has the right to investigate media organizations, when the government suspects there has been a leak which jeopardizes national security. does that, aaron, suggest that the public is on eric holder's side on this? >> you know, i actually think the wording of that question, i think if you asked a lot of journalists whether they agree with that, they would say yes, in fact if media organizations are in fact engaging in something that hurts national security, there should be an investigation into that. i think the problem with the james rosen scenario in particular is that this is a guy who, according to the department of justice, was listed as a co-conspirator, and also the story that he was reporting on, it's not exactly clear what in that report impacted national
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security in an adverse way. i think the administration, the justice department needs to make the case that this in fact was a very important story that james rosen was writing, and why they felt they needed to list him as a co-conspirator in this case in order to get the ability to look into his e-mails and otherwise look into him. >> you know, for what it's worth, i have to say, on a very conscience level, when we're doing stories that deal with national security, we approach that very, very carefully, because you don't want to cross that line and inflict any danger obviously. as we move to you, casey, i'm glad you can join us now. the president has been dealing with all these controversies, and in doing so, we're seeing positive signs in the economy. so the stock market reaching new highs. housing market pretty hot right now. so the latest polls show americans prefer working on the economy and unemployment. they don't want the investigations. so will this temper republican zeal for pursuing them?
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>> probably not. but there is definitely concern inside, especially the house, gop leadership, where a lot of these investigations are coming from initially, to be kind of cautious, to let the facts speak for themselves. now, that said, we're already seeing signs that it's going to get more intense in coming days, and that the focus in these -- on these scandals is not going to abate. darrell issa said today, the chairman of the oversight committee in the house, that they've interviewed a series of irs officials, and are planning on releasing the transcripts. he claims that those transcripts will show that there are ties to the washington headquarters, so that some of the decisions to target conservative groups were actually coming from here in washington, d.c., as opposed to being a rogue operation, the way some democrats have described it. so while on the one hand you have a call for caution, on the other you also have this very real sense that they need to pursue this as much as they can.
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and they show no signs of letting up. >> kasie, you recently wrote about john mccain's trip to syria. rand paul has accused mccain of posing for a photo with men who may have been involved in lebanese shiites. this is a claim the senator's office denies. here's what senator mccain is saying about it today. >> i found out that these individuals are very tough. they're battle hartened. they're very dedicated. they are not al qaeda. they are not extremists. i met with some 19 battalion commanders, both in turkey and in syria, but they're badly outgunned. >> in terms of the roles of these 19 with whom the senator met, do we know any details about that? >> national governmental organizations say these folks weren't kidnappers. mccain's office said they never intended to meet with anyone who was involved in the kidnapping, like rand paul alleged. that said, the controversy
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that's swirling in the wake of his trip shows the risks that the united states is facing in syria. mccain, i spoke to several of his close aides about what they thought while he was over there, and why he went, and they said he's really trying to prove that there are people in syria that the united states government can work with. president obama has been very cautious about the kind of aid that we're giving over there, in part because it's very difficult to figure out which of these rebel groups are trustworthy and actually interested in working with the united states and which might have influences from terrorist groups, or people that we don't necessarily want to be friendly with. just the fact that mccain is dealing with this flap in the aftermath shows how troubling that is. he never intended to do anything of the sort, and yet he's now having to explain himself. >> okay. kasie hunt and aaron blake, thanks, guys, so much. >> thanks, alex. the unlikely activist who helped get action in chicago.
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when the city of chicago announced it was closing over 50 schools due to budget shortfalls, people throughout the community rose up to protest. but no one made a more impassioned argument than one unlikely activist. joining me now, one remarkable young man. shawn johnson is a third grader, also the class president. a student at mar vis garvey elementary school. shawn, i'm so glad to talk to you. because you battled with the mayor of chicago, rahm emanuel. there are a lot of adults who would be afraid to do that. how did you get so brave and bold, and why did you do it?
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>> well, i got brave, because i've been brave all my life, because one lesson that my grandfather taught me before he passed away was, to never give up, and always be brave. don't let nobody push you around. and make sure you do -- make sure you do what you love. >> like now, like being an activist. standing up for what you believe in. tell me what's so special about your school, why you didn't want it to be closed? >> i didn't want it to be closed, because when i first heard that it was closing, and i started getting all the information about why it shouldn't close, and cps says they want everything like computer labs, we have computer labs, and science labs. we have science labs. and they're saying it's underutilized. but it's not underutilized.
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and then it says we're performing. we showed that we are performing, then there's nothing you can say that we're not doing nothing. because we have a great school there. and we have s.e.l., and there's a lot of great things that we have at that school. but they're trying to close it. if we have everything that you need, why wouldn't you keep the school open. >> you know what, it sounds to me like you were -- you did your research, and you found out that the criteria for closing this school just wasn't, you know, wasn't right. so what are your teachers and -- what's your mom saying? she must be so proud of you. >> yes. >> is she there with you? >> yes. >> i'll bet she is. she's probably just getting you all spruced up and saying how proud she is all the time of you. your fellow students, you have a lot of kids that are going to be able to stay at that school, and the teachers will be able to stay at your school that they love. so how good do you feel about this?
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>> well, i will feel disappointed if the school would close. but all the kids -- and all the kids, if we have to move from our school, then we would be going behind gang lines. and you know how rahm emanuel says, oh, we're doing it for the kids. we're making sure be more safer. but how you making it more safer if they're going to be going behind gang lines? >> absolutely. i know that some of you guys would have had to walk up to a mile, a little less than a mile to school, you would have been bused otherwise. can i ask you something? i heard you want to be an nfl player when you grow up. but i heard also that your second choice job would be to be president of the united states? is that true? >> yes, that's true. >> you could be president, i think, as of 2036, i think that's when you would qualify with your age. so my advice to you, keep going. because you've got a lot of talent and a lot of spunk. i'm personally really proud of what you did, as i'm sure
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everybody else did. so nice to meet you asean. >> thank you for having me. >> i was glad to have you. thank you. an anchor who grew up overseas. we make meeting times, lunch times and conference times. but what we'd rather be making are tee times. tee times are the official start of what we love to do. the time for shots we'd rather forget, and the ones we'll talk about forever. in michigan long days, relaxing weather and more than 800 pristine courses make for the perfect tee time.
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to help meet that need, here at devry university, we're offering $4 million dollars in tech scholarships for qualified new students. learn more at devry.edu. welcome back to "weekends with alex witt." a helicopter carrying ahmadinejad crashed. a wildfire north of los angeles gets bigger. that fire has burned almost 20,000 acres. high winds, heat and humidity are making conditions difficult for the firefighters. a spectacular view of the northern lights this weekend. these pictures were taken in minnesota saturday morning. the aurora borealis happens when there's highly charged ions in the earth's atmosphere. republicans showing no signs of relenting on the controversies which have plagued
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the white house in recent weeks. president obama is going on the offensive trying to steer the conversation back to the recovering economy. joining me now, msnbc contributor jimmy williams and msnbc analyst michael steele. with a welcome to both of you here. let's talk with you first, jimmy. the weekly address yesterday, the president was saying all about the economy. he's touting the gains, and the fact that it's coming back to life here. is that the right play? is that what he has to do? does he kind of ignore the controversies out there? >> no, he actually has to be presidential and address these, quote, scandals that we talked about. twitter just lit me up. just to be clear, liberals in america, i don't think there are actually scandals, however -- anyway. he's got a lot of great stuff to talk about with the economy. corporate profits, great. consumer spending, up. housing starts, 13% versus a year ago. housing, consumer spending are the two things that drive our
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economy. and they're doing great. >> so the controversies, michael, since i'm not going to use the word scandal, no way, no how, they're pretty complex. when the president tells the people, as he did yesterday, that the u.s. is about to become a net exporter of oil, and several million new jobs under his watch, that hits home. does that trump everything else? >> it does to a certain extent. i will use the word scandal, because this administration has turned this into a scandal. there i said it, scandal, scandal. but all the liberals now, you can go back, as you were, but the fact of the matter is i think the president has to do both. the job stuff, the economy stuff is good. the job numbers are really the driver. at the end of the day, housing can be up, and the market can be flying high. if your job creation is still anemic, if you're only creating 120,000 or 170,000 jobs a month, that's still resonating more
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with people than the scandals do. so i think to that extent the president, while he may be buoyed by the good numbers, they'll still be looking over their shoulders at those job numbers, as you go into june, july and august. they want to come out strong going into the fall to put a lot of this behind. >> you mentioned the time of year. in addition to the job numbers, which jimmy still rated 7.5% unemployment, you look at the gas prices right now. $3.60 a gallon. it's not exactly like happy days are here again. could this backfire? >> oh, sure. economic cycles come and go. i have three economists i speak with every single week, and they think it's great. but a trend is a trend here. what we're seeing is corporations who are stockpiling at $6 trillion in cash. corporations are sitting on. sitting on. just cash. most of it's offshore, but that's a different issue. they're hiring people. when people get hired, they go to the grocery store, they go to target.
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they don't mind gas is $3.60 a gallon. gas is dropping in my neighborhood is dropping, $3.39 a gallon. it's not a good number, but $3.39 is better than $4.25 in california. >> you have these controversies, and you know the inner workings of congress. once folks get their teeth into stuff like this, does this have the potential to derail the president's second-term agenda? >> sure it does. but the republicans did this to clinton and look what happened to that. bill clinton is the most popular politician in the country at this point. the republicans, and michael, you probably won't disagree with me on this, almost always overreach. when they do that, they look foolish. so i support the republicans and the democrats in the house and senate investigating the executive branch. they have a right to do that. that is their job. but if you investigate and find nothing, then you look pretty stupid. >> if you investigate, michael, and you hold up the president's agenda ultimately, is that really success in the minds of gop constituents who did not send their elected officials to
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washington to just hold hearings? >> i think probably it would be viewed as success by both the democrats and republicans. republicans from the standpoint that, okay, we haven't implemented any more of this wacko agenda from the president. the left saying, now we've got something to go into 2014 and talk about how republicans are still the party of no, the party of obstruction, the party that won't allow the president to actually help the economy move through various stimulus or other programs that the president wants to put in place. both look at these type of scandals, which is why it will be interesting to see how it plays out over the summer, as an opportunity to do two things. one, to rev their base, keep their base in the game, and two, to set up the talking point, to set up the dynamic that they want to put in play for 2014. democrats want to take the house. republicans wanting to hold the house, maybe spend a little bit. but garner the senate. >> do you think these controversies have enough juice to roll over into the 2014 mid-terms? >> the irs controversy, i believe, does.
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because it is something that people see every two weeks in their paycheck. so it hits them in their face a little bit more than benghazi or the a.p. story. i take the a.p. and irs story to be two issues on the same coin, you know, two different sides of the same coin in the sense that it's government action, government intervening, and doing something that impacts, you know, our constitutional rights directly. so those types of stories tend to have a little bit more legs, and certainly with darrell issa yesterday saying, over the weekend saying how, you know, there is more to come here, it means it's going to be a long, hot summer in setting up the arguments in the fall going into 2014. >> jimmy, since you talk to the economists every week, do you think the economy has the power to give the democrats the house in 2014, if it continues on an upward -- you don't think so? >> i love my friends who say they're going to take the house back. they should probably look at the districts they're trying to get.
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it's virtually impossible. unless there's some massive, huge republican implosion, i just don't see it. the districts are drawn for republicans, by republicans in the state legislatures. if elizabeth colbert bush cannot beat mark sanford, the joke of south carolina, i would suggest to you the 17 districts they need throughout the country, they probably can't win those either. >> okay. >> i have a slightly different view on that. >> that's it, we're done. yeah. >> michael, do you disagree with me on that? >> i just think we need to be cautious. we lost eight seats last year, in the same districts that were drawn by republicans in 2010. so i think we need to be smart and careful. i think the way alex set this argument is the way we look at this, don't overreach, be smart and be practical and pragmatic about it. otherwise you could wind up losing seats you wouldn't expect to lose. >> there's a secret in washington, d.c. that they vice president been told about. people think they're morons and don't care about them.
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they think they can do nothing. since they think they can do nothing, and they do do nothing? guess what, they're not going to pay attention to the summer. >> my cynical friends, i want to thank you both for being with me, michael and jimmy. we'll have you back soon. >> all right. we have chilling pictures of climate change to share from the highest mountain in the world. they are spectacular. let's see what you got. rv -- covered. why would you pay for a hotel? i never do. motorcycles -- check. atv. i ride those. do you? no. boat. house. hello, dear. hello. hello. oh! check it -- [ loud r&b on car radio ] i'm going on break! the more you bundle, the more you save. now, that's progressive.
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good thing she's got the citi simplicity card. it doesn't charge late fees or a penalty rate. ever. as in never ever. now about that parking ticket. [ grunting ] [ male announcer ] the citi simplicity card is the only card that never has late fees, a penalty rate, or an annual fee, ever. go to citi.com/simplicity to apply. in today's office politics, nbc's natalie morales, we talked about her early years growing up overseas, as well as the movie she's seen at least ten times, but first i ask her about covering tragedies and challenges of separating her personal world from what she's seeing when the camera is focused on her. >> i've lost it on the air many times. you know, i'm one of those people that i guess it's really hard when people have talked about, when you're a reporter and you're not supposed to show a lot of emotion. i'm like, you know what, i think that day is done. i think there was a school of broadcast at one point that
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said, you have to be, you know, sensible and completely in control of your faculties when you're delivering a newscast. sure, of course, you do. but at the same time, we're humans and we react. newtown, i mean, i west there the day after, two days after, and, you know, when i saw the makeshift memorial, the christmas trees and little angels on the trees, and all i could think of is, those could be my children, for all you know. and it just breaks you into little pieces. and i remember savannah even said to me later in the day, after covering newtown, she was like, i could tell, she said, you looked like you were in shell shock. i said, i was. there is no disguising sometimes what you're feeling. on the inside, on the outside. you just have to hope that people appreciate the fact that you're human and you're reacting as they would expect you would in that story, in that situation. >> i remember that weekend so well, it was actually, we had an
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msnbc christmas party, i completely forgot about the party. >> nobody was in party mood. nobody -- it ruined christmas for -- obviously for so many people, obviously for those families. but i think covering it as well, it left a mark. it still does. i still think about those little kids and their faces, and you become involved with the victims, and you celebrate in their accomplishments. for example, i covered a lot of the boston bombing victims. and just this past weekend, one of the -- one of the young women, sydney corcoran was elected prom queen. so you celebrate in that. she's going to be graduating in a week and going off to college next fall. you're just proud of getting to know those people. and you personally get involved with them and you feel like, you know, i feel like it's an honor to tell their stories. >> yeah, absolutely.
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it's actually a turn-around with regard to sandy, with what you witnessed earlier this week with the "today" show. you guys were all celebrating the reopening of seaside heights and jersey shore with governor christie. >> oh, my gosh, he and his wife, they are jersey shore. i consider myself a jersey girl having lived there at least 11 years now, i went to college at rutgers. so there's a lot of pride in the jersey shore, and in the resilience. the jersey strong. we got used to saying boston strong. but now the saying is, stronger than the storm. and i think, you know, what we saw there was truly the definition of how a recovery should happen. >> here's something interesting about you specifically, many people might not know this, but you were born in taipei, taiwan. explain that. >> service member baby. i'm an air force brat. and my dad was stationed, at that time he was stationed in taiwan, but flying cargo missions to vietnam during the
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vietnam war. so taiwan was such a beautiful place, and he loved it so much, he was like, well, let's bring -- we brought my mom and my sisters two years older than me, brought them over. that was sort of home base for him. i was born in taiwan. but i wasn't made in taiwan. i think i was actually made in new jersey. appropriately enough. >> yeah. there you go. >> too much information maybe? >> what is your favorite movie? >> casablanca. >> classic. >> classic. yeah, i think i've watched it like probably ten times. love it. the music, i love, you know, the morocco. it's just gorgeous. it's beautiful. >> how about your favorite food? >> favorite food? pizza. >> really? >> yeah, like really good -- like patsy's pizza here in new york. love it. really good pizza. >> what about vacation
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destination? >> europe. the people are great. i just love it. >> coming up in our next hour, natalie talks about why she is the "today" show daredevil. the court hearing this week about a 911 call in the george zimmerman trial. [ lisa ] my name's lisa, and chantix helped me quit. i honestly loved smoking, and i honestly didn't think i would ever quit. [ male announcer ] along with support, chantix (varenicline) is proven to help people quit smoking. it reduces the urge to smoke. it put me at ease that you could smoke on the first week. [ male announcer ] some people had changes in behavior,
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opening statements in the george zimmerman trial for second-degree murder. hundreds of friends, well-wishers and family members attended a community prayer service for the victim, trayvon martin. the 17-year-old was killed last february. another pretrial hearing is set for thursday to determine whether audio of a voice heard pleading for help in the back ground of a 911 call on the day of the shooting will be admissible at trial. >> i think they're yelling help. but i don't know. >> does he look hurt to you? >> i can't see him. i don't want to go out there. i don't know what's going on.
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>> do you think he's yelling help? >> yes. i just heard gunshots. >> that is chilling. joining me, veteran prosecutor and deputy chief of staff at the san francisco mayor's office, and criminal defense attorney. i want to start with the disturbing 911 call. stand your ground is also the law in california. but florida allows a pretrial nonjury hearing. what are the chances you think this tape can be used? and if it gets used, how does the prosecution use it? >> it's certainly going to be used. i think both sides want to hear the tape. the issue is going to come down and certainly at the hearing coming up this week, it's going to be a fight over what experts are allowed to say about the tape. and then certainly the fight is going to be over what conclusions they made after listening to the tape. so what you'll hear and see is a challenge to the prosecution
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about the reputation of the expert that they brought in, that has analyzed the tape. and they'll talk about his reputation, and the scientific community, what his background, education and training has been. the secondary challenge is going to be what he heard, or what he's going to reveal about the tape. those conclusions. and whether or not he's used methods that are accepted in the scientific community about how he enhanced the tape, so that the jury can hear it, and the public can hear it as well. >> seema, this is a standard by which these types of things are judged for years. what does the defense do with that, to try to keep that tape away from a jury? >> well, they'll call their experts. but i think in this case, the starting point is the caller itself. the person who made the 911 call. is that person going to testify. and if not, then we have a problem under the confrontation clause, the constitution, and now if that person is going to testify, then as a defense attorney, i have a problem with hearsay. and bolstering.
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the prosecution by introducing their tape is bolstering, it kind of like padding their case and making it better than it actually really is. so on so many different levels as a defense attorney, i have objections. >> paul, george zimmerman, his attorney was on earlier with al sharpton, and he said basically, this guy, his defendant is the only person alive who really knows what happened here. how does this work in his favor at trial? >> well, it's in his favor, because the other person that was there is dead. that's trayvon martin. so he's not allowed to speak. he's not there. we don't get to hear his version of the facts. and you get a one-sided perspective of what occurred on that evening. but, you know, i think there are some common facts that people are going to know about already that speak for themselves.
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so people know that trayvon martin was not armed. they know trayvon martin was allowed and should have been exactly where he was. he was there with his father, so he wasn't somewhere he wasn't supposed to be. and at the end of whatever happened with the altercation, he is dead. and so -- >> i want to pick up on the word altercation, because seema, how challenging will it be for the defense to prove that the injuries that george zimmerman suffered were at the hands of trayvon martin, in which case he can claim sort of self-defense as to what happened? >> well, of course, that's the whole problem with the case, is that how do they show that trayvon martin was the initial aggressor. and marco merin, the team has done a brilliant job of trying to taint the jury pool by putting out those photographs of trayvon martin, putting out those text messages -- >> which won't be allowed in court. >> right. but alex, the issue is, the whole pool of jurors is now
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being tainted. because anybody who's going to be picked as a juror has probably already seen those photographs, and has maybe heard about those text messages, and heard about that trayvon had this propensity for hostile behavior, which then falls into my theory of him being the initial aggressor. >> paul, zimmerman's attorney said it was self-defense. how does that play into things? >> well, i think that's going to work against him. we have information that the police dispatcher told him not to even get out of his car. and so he's going to have to explain why he got out of his car, why he started following trayvon, why he initiated contact. because that's what happened. so i think that's a high hurdle. that's also why you have such a visceral reaction in this case, because people do have a lot of opinions already. this is exactly the reason why the prosecution has asked for the third time for a gag order, so we can stop having these
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discussions in the public and wait until we have actual evidence, and forces zimmerman on the stand to try and explain away what is going to justify his behavior in a self-defense case like this. i think that's going to be very tough to do, given the facts of this case. >> paul henderson, seema, thank you so much. appreciate it. some of the most stunning images of climate change you will ever see. a lot of people think fiber can do one thing and one thing only... and those people are what i like to call... wrong. take metamucil. sure it helps keep you regular but it doesn't stop there.
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get the blood tests. change your number. turn it up. androgel 1.62%. new questions today about the boston bombings, and why russia's security service said the u.s. could have prevented the attacks. sad word on three storm chasers on duty when the twisters hit oklahoma. also ahead, your tax dollars at work. new outcry over the irs some call a complete waste of money. a filmmaker chronicles the impact of man's carbon footprint. welcome to "weekends with alex witt." just past 1:00 p.m. here in the east.
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first today, new today, after meeting with several high-level officials in moscow, one member of a sufficient congressional delegation believes the boston terror attacks may have been prevented if our intelligence communities worked better together. >> yes, it could have been averted. not just by one mistake made by the united states, or one mistake made over here in russia, but instead, by making sure that both countries were working together at a much higher level. >> the team of u.s. congressmen spent the week in russia looking at what could have been done not only to prevent the bombings, but how tamerlan tsarnaev began his path. the boston attacks may have been prevented if russia and the u.s. worked better together as allies. what are you hearing about that? >> well, exactly. they said that they're not saying that they definitely could have been prevented, but
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if all the dots were joined up, and the security agencies were cooperating, then perhaps, you can imagine a scenario where it may not have happened. where they may have been able to stop it. i think this meeting, they describe it as productive. they obviously felt they got a very positive reception with free communication with the russian security services. they felt this was a positive meeting, that had gone well. so really, they're saying, guys, the cold war is over. we've got to move on. we have two big countries here that share common interests. let's work together. alex? >> okay, what about reaction in london there. optimistic about the meetings going forward, that they will better work together? >> well, of course, britain, too, shares an interest in improving communication at this level. and i think that is the sentiment here, that any improvement in communication is a good thing. but remember, in the uk,
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relations have been quite tricky with russia, going back as far as the death of alexander vianco several years ago, never quite got to the bottom of that. that put things in a bad way. there's a lot of suspicion here. but any improvement in all-around relations would be a good thing, alex. >> yeah, what about the question surrounding exactly when tamerlan tsarnaev left dagestan? >> what the congressmen seemed to get to the bottom of, when did he buy his ticket to return to the states? when did this actually happen? and congressman steve king had this to say on this subject. >> what we've got, generally, was that tamerlan left two days after one of his two buddies was killed. and it was, i guess it was july. but they didn't give us the
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date. one thing we wanted to find out is when he bought his airplane ticket. >> also raised at the meeting was exactly when the russians believed that tamerlan and his mother were radicalized. because the congressmen said that they believed that the russians said that as far back as 2003, they were aware that tamerlan and his mother had become radical islamists. and this was also discussed and raised in the issue that needs to further inquire. >> thank you so much for that. from there now to front page politics. new details about a possible timeline for immigration reform. here's senator chuck schumer on "meet the press." >> we're going to put immigration on the floor starting on june 10th. i predict it will pass the senate by july 4th. we're hoping to get up to 70 votes, which means a lot of republicans, and we're willing to entertain amendments that don't damage the core principles of the bill, but improve the bill. >> also, new today, fresh
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reaction from the house of chairman of the intelligence committee and eric holder and the justice campaign to leaks to the news media. >> keeping classified information secret is incredibly important for our national security. however, i think that dragnet that they threw out over the a. pflt reporters was more than an overreach. and it really is not very good investigative work. math, you normally want to target -- narrow that list down and then you might be able to go for someone's phone records, or e-mails. but that dragnet approach, i argue, is a little bit dangerous for free press. >> new details on the investigation into the irs. the house oversight committee is set to hold a new round of hearings tomorrow. let's go to the white house, and nbc's peter alexander. peter, another hello to you. what are we expecting at this house hearing tomorrow and the irs? >> this is another bad week for
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the irs. as you noted, more on the topic of the irs's targeting of conservative groups. today house oversight committee chair darrell issa spoke out specifically about testimony he has obtained from some of the workers in ohio. ohio is one of the places where it was initially believed that this irs targeting first started. and issa says that that information that he's gathered indicates that these scandals, as he describes them, were directly ordered from washington. take a listen to darrell issa earlier today. >> my gut tells me that too many people knew that this wrongdoing was going on before the election, and at least by some sort of convenient benign neglect, allowed it to go on through the election, allowed these conservative groups, these if you will not friends of the president to be disenfranchised through an election. >> my warning to the republicans is look at 1998. all they did is spend their time on the impeachment of bill clinton. and for the first time, the
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incumbent president didn't lose seats in the house. certainly there should be investigations, and of the irs which i think is the really serious one of these three. >> that is one of the issues facing the irs this week. another, alex, begins officially really on tuesday, with the release of the treasury department's inspector general report on wasteful spending. we told you a lot about some of these videos that were from a 2010 employee conference, one that took place in anaheim, xa. over the last couple days we've got our first look at another one of those videos. this one cost only $1,600 to produce. it is a dance competition parody. but $1,600 on top of $60,000 for a gilligan's island spoof, and a star trek parody, one more issue that the irs is trying to fix at this time. we heard earlier from the irs that described this specific video as inappropriate, and unacceptable. the irs also, i spoke to earlier
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today, and they insist this is a vestige of an old era. they say while $49 million were spent on some of these videos and conferences and travel over the course of three years, that that money has dramatically waned over the last several years. >> seems like things are changing, that's for sure. peter, thank you so much. developing news on friday's outbreak of tornadoes in oklahoma. the death toll has just been raised to ten. three storm chasers were killed friday in el reno, oklahoma. tim samaras and his son paul were killed along with carl young. their work has been featured on the tv show "storm chasers." we're joined from el reno, oklahoma. let's talk about the storm chasers who died. what do you know about them? >> we know that these were three men who had dedicated their lives to the environment and the weather, alex. tim samaras, and his son, paul,
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and samaras' partner, carl young, killed the other day when they were caught in that tornado. now, the three were known for their work on storm chasers, as well as samaras' research to better inform people in the paths of tornadoes, better warn them it was coming. hopefully help them to safety. now, samaras had been doing this about 30 years. people know him as a guy who took calculated risks, but not high risks. he was smart about what he did. and his brother today saying that all three died doing what they loved, and will be very, very missed by the community. >> okay. in fact, sarah, i want to read what the weather channel put out, this statement regarding the passing of these storm chasers. and it reads, it was with great sadness that the weather channel learned of the passing of tim and paul samaras and carl young as a result of the el reno tornado. many of us were fortunate to have worked with them and have great admiration for their work.
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they went in the field focused on collecting data to enabling meteorologists to further the science behind tornadoes, which we know has and will help to save countless lives. our community has suffered a terrible loss and our thoughts and prayers are with their loved ones. again, that statement from the weather channel. pretty tough to hear about that. let's also talk about governor fallin. she has been in the hardest-hit areas and she's been widely applauded for her efforts on behalf of the victims. >> she was. today she was walking and meeting with first responders, with teachers who were affected. basically with everybody who's been in the path of these tornadoes during the past two weeks. she's worked pretty tirelessly to express her gratitude towards those who were out helping. and to encourage people to continue to support these areas. what struck me is she said these people will continue to need help after the media, after we leave. this isn't a matter of one or two months, but rather years of
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cleanup and rebuilding. >> all right. nbc's sarah, thank you for the report. meantime, everyone, that storm system is heading east. dylan is here with more on that. what should we expect? >> in the northeast we're going to see a round of pretty strong storms. we're not going to see tornado outbreak, but we certainly are looking at the chance of some small hail, perhaps dime to quarter-size hail. we're also looking at the chance of seeing damaging straight line wind gusts. all across the northeast from parts of new england down into west virginia and virginia. and we will keep an eye out for the possibility of an isolated rotation indicating a tornado. and i'd say most likely in the albany area, across western massachusetts, northwestern connecticut. that's an area we certainly will be focusing on. right now, though, there's not a whole lot going on. it's warm, it's humid. the atmosphere is getting more and more unstable. so you can see the oranges there showing up across southeastern new york state. those are indicating areas of
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heavier downpours. but we're not seeing severe weather yet, but the watch is out for severe storms later on this afternoon. down across southeastern texas, that's where we've had our heaviest rain so far today. and an extended forecast going into early next week. we are going to see the possibility of still continued flooding back through the midwest. for today, the biggest concern will be into the northeast. and a chance of some stronger storms, especially late this afternoon and into the evening. even overnight hours, too. >> dylan, thanks so much, as always. he calls it a mission accomplished. deciding not to run for congress. the who and why next. with the spark miles card from capital one, bjorn earns unlimited rewards for his small business. take these bags to room 12 please. [ garth ] bjorn's small business earns double miles on every purchase every day. produce delivery.
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congress returns from the week-long break. president obama is expecting action. >> to keep our housing market and our economy growing,
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congress needs to step up and do its part. we've got to keep this progress going, until middle class families start regaining that sense of security. we can't let partisan politics get in the way. >> joining me now, senior washington correspondent for politico, anna palmer, and from the "washington post," david. welcome to the both of you. david, the president was listing these five economic accomplishments. 7 million new jobs, booming auto industry, shrinking deficits, slowing health care costs, and a stronger housing market. you know, my colleague chris matthews speculated this is an obama boom economy. any consensus on that that you're hearing in d.c.? >> there's not that much consensus on anything here. but i think what the president is trying to put forward is that they've made progress. i think getting talk in washington back to the economy, something the white house wants to do to get it off the other subjects, including the irs and a.p. scandal. last week the president went on a fund-raising trip to talk to democrats in chicago, and he
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made the same point in the private fund-raisers i was at. the economy is doing better. the stock market's up. i think what the president is saying, let's keep this momentum going. as you heard, he said we need congress to do its job and get on board here. the message i think is going into the talks this summer about the deficit, about how to cut spending and rein in spending, he also wants to talk about investments. he's still trying to put pressure on congress to do that. you just can't cut, cut, cut. and he's going to keep on that message. >> how much frustration do you think there is in the white house to improve the economic picture? that message getting out there is blurred by the ongoing controversies. >> absolutely. i think that they are really pushing hard right now. and you're going to see this in the coming weeks in terms of legislation that they're going to try to get senate democrats and house democrats to introduce. particularly as they look to 2014. this is a message that he is going to want to continue to push, that was a referendum that republicans made in the 2012
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election that president obama didn't know how to handle the economy. certainly as democrats look to keep their majority in the senate, it's something they're going to point to to say, see, we do know how to create jobs, we do know how to make the economy grow again. >> david, how about the president's travels to california this week? he's going to be meeting with the president of china. does this come as a surprise? and talk about any expectations for this meeting. >> this has been a long-awaited meeting. it may be a bit of a surprise that they're not meeting at the white house, but in california. the white house is saying they're trying to make this a little more informal, in the sense of making these two leaders of the biggest economies to get together in more of a relaxed setting, try to put both parties at ease. that's not to say the big issues are not going to come up. the president wants to talk about the concerns government has about china's alleged cyber security hacking of sufficient companies. and trade secrets online. these have been tied in recent reports by american firms to
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even chinese military. this is a big issue a lot of american businesses are pressing the white house to push. also, north korea. the president wants china to continue to pressure north korea economically, and out in public. this is the first chance for the president to really get in a face-to-face meeting with the new chinese leadership. but i think the white house saying this is the first meeting, we're trying to lay groundwork for productive talk going forward. >> a couple of days after michele bachmann said she wouldn't seek reelection, top democratic recruit jim craig stopped his campaign. he told the minnesota post, quote, mission accomplished. don't you run for public office because you want to serve the public, not just to oust someone? what do you make of his comment? >> it certainly is a twist in this story, that i think none of us expected in terms of him deciding to step down, if
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michele bachmann, you know, decided not to run. but he was saying that his donors, his supporters, their main goal was to say, we don't want michele bachmann here. he wanted to go back to running his businesses. if you're michele bachmann, she probably is a little frustrated as well. because she was looking at a really tough reelection bid, and now, you know, a republican is likely elected because it is such a strongly leaning republican district. if you're a democrat, i would imagine you're pretty frustrated with mr. graves at this point. >> never frustrated with the two of you. thank you, guys. >> naung. noted american filmmaker goes to the highest place on earth to find a disturbing problem. that's next. ♪ [ male announcer ] we all have something neatly tucked away in the back of our mind. a secret hope. that thing we've always wanted to do. it's not about having dreams,
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now thousands of climbers later, the great glaciers are melting. david basheer is raising awareness with his nonprofit glacier works. unfortunately we don't have the audio playing right now. i sat down with david recently. i began by asking him about a chance meeting with edmond hillary that inspired his current work. >> i climbed everest in 1983. we made the first live broadcast. i was walking down from the mountain, and heard he was in a nearby village. the village where he built schools and clinics and bridges and air strips. and i just said, well, i'm just going to find sir ed. i walked in and said, i've climbed everest. and actually, he said, well, david, i did that 30 years ago.
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and so we started talking about the climb. and i was so, i think overly exuberant, or just focused on it. and that's when he initially began his mentorship with me. and he said, david, you know, some day you'll learn to turn your eyes from the summit and look into the valleys. because after everest, he had spent his entire lifetime raising money for the hillary trust and uplifting the lives of the certaserpas. >> you're giving pretty spectacular evidence of climate change? >> that's right. it started out in 2007. i was sent by the pbs series front line to take a picture of a glacier somewhere in the himalayas. and i chose a picture taken by george mallory. >> is this in 1921? >> 1921, yes.
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and so -- that was the first very good picture taken of that glacier. and i stood there holding up this photo, actually, right here. >> right. >> this is the photo i took. >> right at that spot. >> looking at that mountain. in the exact same spot. that's called a comparative photograph. and we could see that the change in 86 years had been dramatic. but what shocked me was how little i knew about it. i've been climbing in those mountains for over 30 years. and yet this dra mat ig change, not only to glaciers, but to the landscape was occurring. and it simply caused me to want to know more. and i started to ask questions of scientists, and how we could contribute to better understanding. >> i know part of that is creating this glacier works.org, but the shocking statistic that you are eveal on your website, 2.3 billion people depend on the water that comes from those
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glaciers. and they're disappearing. >> i'll make that very clear. 2.3 billion people rely on a portion of the water coming from those glaciers. most of the major river systems of the world begin up -- in asia begin up on the tibetan plateau and are fed by glaciers. although they don't receive more than 5% to 20% of their volume from the glacier melt -- it's very important. it's fresh, pure water. it's a perennial flow. it feeds the agriculture, and people in the middle hills. but it's just very crucial to the entire ecosystem of the river. >> well, david basheer, i'm so glad you've come and illuminated all this for people. i hope they go and check out the website. and with an apology to david about that little bobble off the top, i want to tell, you can
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find whatever information you need on that site. it is called glacier works.org. it is a joint venture between david and micro's international explorer. the images are truly stunning. trust me, it is worth your while. she claims to be the "today" show dar devil. what do you think? that's great. it won't take long, will it? nah. okay. this, won't take long will it? no, not at all. how many of these can we do on our budget? more than you think. didn't take very long, did it? summer is here, so are the savings. that's nice. post it. already did. more saving. more doing. that's the power of the home depot. get 3 bags of earthgro mulch, a special buy for just $10.
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like they've helped millions of others. to help you retire your way, with confidence. ♪ that's what ameriprise financial does. that's what they can do with you. let's get to work. ameriprise financial. more within reach. welcome back to "weekends with alex witt." just 33 past the hour. historic day for the supreme court. we're expecting the first rulings on some landmark cases coming up. among the issues that could change life in america, cases dealing with gay marriage, affirmative action and the voting rights act. joining me now with his insight is steven engel, and anthony kennedy. and welcome back. nice to see you on the broadcast. >> hey, good to see you as well. >> what about these decisions in terms of timing? how soon do you expect them? >> sure. we're at the point of the term where the court is done hearing
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cases. there's about 30 decisions left, they'll decide them all by the end of june. i expect we'll hear decisions as soon as tomorrow, actually. but the big ones, they usually are decided at the end. >> let's start with same-sex marriage. that is a big one. we have this one in california's prop 8 which ruled marriage can only be between a man and a woman. and the that same-sex couples from receiving federal benefits. >> these cases, we can really have from everything to nothing. the court is in a position to issue landmark rulings on the constitutionality of restrictions on same-sex marriage. on the other hand, there are avenues the court could take, which would lead it to avoid these issues, essentially altogether. in the prop 8 case, for example, the court could declare no state may prevent -- you can't restrict same-sex marriage. or they can say, those restrictions are perfectly fine. and you can protect traditional
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marriage. or, they could say that prop 8 itself was -- there's something about it, that california permitted same-sex marriage, then they took it away with a referendum. maybe that's a constitutional problem. >> but can i ask you about prop 8 specifically? your former boss questioned during the prop 8 arguments whether or not the court should have taken up this case. do you interpret that in any way? is he tipping his hand? you know him. >> well, i think he might be suggesting that he wasn't one of the justices who voted to hear the case. it only takes four to vote to hear the case. once it's in front of the justices, all nine have to vote on ha they're going to have to do with it. we won't know until the court issues its decisions. >> what about the voting rights act decision? talk about that. what's the issue here? >> sure. the voting rights act was passed in 1965. it's a landmark civil rights statute.
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i think everybody agrees with that. the question really is whether it's a victim of its own success. the voting rights act required that, among other things, that nine states, which had a history of discriminating against african-american voters, had to submit their voting plans, their district plans to the federal government essentially for pre-clearance. and the question is, when congress re-authorized it just a couple of years ago, have things changed over the last 50 years. clearly they have, but have they changed constitutionally, so it may be time for the justification for these restrictions has kind of been reduced over time. >> yeah. also, we saw a note there at the bottom of the screen talking about affirmative action in college admissions. that's at stake with the university of texas case. one of the key issues here is whether or not the school has reached a, quote, critical mass of african-american and latino students. how do we define a critical mass? >> that is a very good question.
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and it's one that the justices were wrestling with at oral argument. under the existing law, colleges and universities can pursue race-based affirmative action in order to seek the goal of classroom diversity. and what the court said is, if you get to a critical mass with a sufficient diversity, then the justification ends. the court didn't tell in its prior decision, it didn't say what a critical mass meant. a lot of the justices were pretty uncomfortable, whether there is a definition. we'll find out more obviously when they issue the decision. that one actually has been on the court's term since october. and so that's one actually we may hear about before the end of june. >> maybe this week even. >> yeah. >> this really interesting case involving getting dna samples from people who have been arrested for serious crimes, not convicted. why is this so different from fingerprinting people? we should say the way they get their dna samples is usually to swab the inside of a cheek, so it's not like they're drawing
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blood or being more invasive than that. >> that's right. the folks who oppose, what you might call dna fingerprinting, they say fingerprinting is identification, trying to identify who is in police custody. the dna swab, the purpose is to solve cold cases. they would argue if law enforcement is trying to solve other cases, there should be a higher justification than simply trying to i.d. who is in police custody. but there's been a tremendously effective law enforcement technique, and justice alito, who is skeptical of the challenge to it, noted this could be one of the most important criminal procedure cases in decades. >> steven engel, very interesting discussion as always. thank you very much, as you'll be watching these cases with us over the next month. >> indeed. thank you for having me. in today's office politics, natalie morales, she shares why she's got one of the best jobs in television and why her office couch doubles as a closet. but first i asked her if she
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hopes congress will make progress on the key issue of immigration. >> the status quo is not working for anyone. it's not working for us, for those immigrants who many have been here for decades. and have been paying taxes even. they just haven't been able to get the citizenship. so something has to happen. and something eventually will happen. i think this last election, if there was anything that you could hold up a red flag, it was finally like, this has to happen. or else, you know, you're going to continue to see people who also want to serve in our military, who are not getting that opportunity. you know, young kids who are getting scholarships to college but can't go because they don't have citizenship. so it's really hard to accept that. and we're better than that. we are a nation of immigrants. without getting too politically, you know -- getting too involved
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politically. i think the country has made a turn. and it will make a turn for the better and hopefully in a way allowing people to work their way to becoming a citizen. >> you wear so many different hats within nbc news. but even within the "today" show, certainly you do the news, the tops and bottoms of the hour. but what's your favorite role other than that consistent news? >> you know, i think being the daredevil on the "today" show. if there was a role -- no, honestly, what i love about our show is the variety. we're able to -- you know, they throw us in all kinds of situations. and it's always -- you know, it's amazing to me how they make it look so good and flawless on the air. whereas it's not always flawless. but what i love about the show, again, is that variety. and i'm lucky that they asked me to do a lot of fun things, equally, as they do difficult and challenging assignments. so it allows me to kind of feel like i'm getting challenged
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every day. >> yeah. but also, things like filling in for brian williams, which you did just the other night on "nightly news." how much of a challenge is that? >> it's a totally different beast altogether. it's a great team. they have it down to a science. >> what about when i look around this office? there's a lot of natalie here. >> there's a lot of mess here. >> i love the natalie doll. few of us can say we have a doll. >> i have a bobblehead. this is disgusting. this was my first triathlon, i guess. they created this, because hoda and i did this triathlon. not at all like me, i don't think. >> oh, come on. >> it's got blue eyes, though, i'll take that. i have a bobblehead. and i have a lot of junk. you should see my closet, how full it is. >> you keep your work clothes here? >> i have some across the street. the problem is that my closet at home is too small. and my closet over there is too small. so this is overflow.
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which, i mean, you would understand, because you have to have different clothes almost every time you're on the air. >> so you're going to pick out maybe an outfit for tomorrow out of this? you just look at it and say, what's on the couch there? >> i think that's winter stuff that doesn't fit in there. >> oh, gosh. >> the overflow. it's a mess. >> this is so much fun for me. how long have we been friends? >> 11 years at least. when i first started msnbc, you were the first person who i got to know and actually i remember my very first day you were so helpful to me. >> oh. >> you took me under your wings and, if there's anything you need, you just tell me. i still to this day, i can't thank you enough for that. >> i'm so proud. look where you went. yea. i'm very proud of you. next weekend, my interview with our newest host here at msnbc, former dnc director whose show launches next saturday and sunday at 4:00 p.m. eastern
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join us at projectluna.com it's time for the big three in today's topics. obama boom economy? wasting tax dollars? this week's must-reads. reporter for the "washington post," emily, and martin frost, democrat from texas, and republican strategist joe watkins. welcome to all three of you on this sunday. joe, i'll go to you first. obama boom economy. now, take a listen to what republicans said about president obama on the economy ahead of his reelection. here it is. >> barack obama is a socialist. he believes in socialism in redistributing wealth, in confiscating hard-earned dollars. >> we have a president who wants to turn america into another european style social welfare state. >> this might be the last election to turn the nation around. before we go down the road to
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socialism. president obama and his socialist policies must be stopped. >> obama's socialist policies are bankrupting america. >> okay. with that said, here's where we stand today. the deficit is down $800 billion since the president took office. 38 straight months of private sector job growth, and the stock market is now reaching record highs. so, does that sound like socialism to you, joe? >> well, thankfully the 2012 presidential election is over. and hopefully republicans everywhere are heeding what senator -- former senator bob dole had to say about what the party needs to do going forward. we need to have positive ideas, positive agenda, and have ideas that we share with people and not be seen as obstructionists. also, not beat the president up for -- without reason, just to be beating him up. i think that the republican party has to rejoice when the economy gets better. of course the republican party will also talk about cutting spending. and lowering taxes. those are staples of our party.
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those are important things to remember. certainly we're all heartened to see any positive movement of the economy. >> congressman frost, to you now. here's the president in his weekly address on the economy. let's listen. >> we've just got to keep going. we've got more good jobs to create, more kids to educate, more doors of opportunity to open for anyone willing to work hard enough to walk through those doors. >> we can talk about all these highlights. but on the flip side, income disparity is also growing. wage income is stagnant. so is everyone really feeling the uptick in this economy? >> i don't know that everybody is. but the president's on the right track. and alex, going back to the -- your introduction. the business of calling him a socialist was always nonsense. he helped save major companies in this country, the major automobile companies early in the administration. when we had the health care reform, he ruled out the universal option, the government
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option in favor of private insurance companies providing the coverage. so he certainly believes in the private sector. there is income inequality in this country. we need to do everything we can to eliminate that. certainly his call for investment in the infrastructure is very, very important. we need to do something about bridges, we need to do something about our highways. that's a part of moving goods to market. and i hope we'll continue to do those type things. and people will listen to him. >> and create jobs as well. emily, when you look at the economy right now, including all the president's highlights that he's touting, how do you think this will play in the 2014 midterms? >> that's still quite early to tell. it's unclear whether this good economic news is going to continue. but i think for right now, the president is doing sort of a smart job of not doing the rhetorical equivalent of spiking a football in the end zone, knowing that this recovery is tenuous, and it's certainly much more positive footing than we
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have been. but that could reverse. i think there's still a lot of people, millions of people without jobs, and their families are feeling the effects of that. i think he's wise not to do, you know, sort of the end zone because this isn't over, and i think that a lot of people would find that pretty insensitive. you don't want one of those moments where you've hung the "mission accomplished" banner when the mission hasn't really been accomplished. how this will play out late it's unclear. what will happen, you're seeing this. republicans instead of sounding the economic alarm bells saying, where are the jobs? we're getting the answers. not answers that help remember un, they're turning their attention to the scandals we've seen plaguing the obama administration. that's more of the line of, argument we're going to see from republicans in the next election. >> i want to move on to our next topic, matt, irs wasting tax dollars, calling it" the internal revenue service spends and estimated $49 million on at
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least 220 conferences for employees over a three-year span beginning in fiscal 2010 according to a forth-coming report prompting fresh scrutiny of the all right em ballotsed agency. does every agency spend like this? >> in do. you saw happen a scandal with the gsa. the general services administration. they uncovered similar spending, lavish conferences and some details sound terrible and are embarrassing for these agencies's they had a mind reader that served lavish food. so in the wake of that, you had a number of inspectors general of agencies across the government take a look at their conferences, and what they were spending on, how they were spending, and this report about the irs actually came about as a result of that. >> yeah. >> so i think you're seeing noeng changed policies across the board in the wake of that,
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noe not only that, but the inspector general's showing abuses. >> holding hearings on the irs targeting conservative groups techniquing tax exempt status, how much does that distract the president from what he wants to be doing? >> the irs was wrong and the president said they were wrong, and i would hope the committees get to the bottom of this. let's find out exactly how it happened and move on. >> if that's the case, joe, what's the gop want ultimately to have happen with these controversies? >> to find out the truth. i don't think there ought to be a witch-hunt, not against the president of the united states, but find out the truth, what happened in the agencies, where they went wrong and make sure it doesn't happen again. >> sit tight, guys. there's an infernal in today's "must read" sunday. with 23 vitamins and minerals. purina dog chow. help keep him strong. dog chow strong.
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we are back with the big three for this week's must-reads. ladies first with you emily. what's yours? >> well, i always feel about 100% smarter after i've read
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anything by dan and his clump no exception today about loss sons that american conservatives, republicans can learn from david cameron the british prime minister. faced a lot of challenges and cautionary tales. a good read. >> i agree. representative frost, your must-read? >> dan brown's new book "inferno" good beach reading. vet in venice, florence and istanbul, cities i've been to. a lot of fun. >> really good. diverts from the usual, but thank you for the summer beach read. appreciate that one. all right, joe-joe, your turn. what you got? >> another day, dan mira. the piece he wrote about mitt romney's criticism of president obama first 100 days. helpful brings to mind what republicans have to do. not be so critical, not nettive and offer new ideas to engage americans and move us forward. >> sounds good, too.
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you guys all brought it. appreciate it. that is a wrap of this sunday edition of "weekends with alex witt." up next, we have "meet the press." i'm alex witt. have yorts a greurself a great . make it a good one. too little? until we got miracle-gro moisture control. it does what basic soils don't by absorbing more water, so it's there when plants need it. with the right soil, everyone grows with miracle-gro. we all have one. that perfect spot. a special place we go to smooth out the ripples of the day. it might be off a dock or on a boat. upstream or in the middle of nowhere. wherever it may be, casting a line in the clear, fresh waters of michigan lets us leave anything weighing us down back on shore. our perfect spot is calling. our perfect spot is pure michigan. your trip begins at michigan.org.
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next minute i'm in the back of an ambulance having a heart attack. i was in shape, fit. i did not see it coming. i take bayer aspirin. [ male announcer ] so be sure to talk to your doctor before you begin an aspirin regimen. see your doctor and get checked out. this sunday, national security versus freedom of the press. the tension and the political fallout as the attorney general appears to backtrack. republicans have their sights set on attorney general eric holder. did he level with congress about whether he sought to criminalize the work of journalists? >> with regard to the potential prosecution of the press for disclosure of material, that is not something that i've ever been involved in or hord of, or would think would be a wise policy. >> holder reportedly regrets the treatment of the press in recent leak investigations and tries to reach out. has it worked?

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