tv Weekends With Alex Witt MSNBC December 14, 2014 9:00am-10:31am PST
and does it mean you'll pay for a big bank bailout again? >> we've avoided another mass casualty attack against the united states. we did capture an awful lot of senior guys at al qaeda responsible for the attack on 9/11. >> a bitter battle today over the cia torture report. some of the most ardent defenders of the program face tough questions today. sudden and dramatic, the drop in oil prices, there's at least one answer for it, but there are many more questions. who's behind it? and could it damage the u.s. economy? the plot thickens. just when you thought it couldn't get any worse over the sony studio over the hacked e-mails, it does get worse. new details ahead. hey there, everyone, it's high noon here in the east, 9:00 a.m. out west, welcome to weekends with alex witt. late last night, the senate passed a massive $1.1 trillion spending bill.
but today republicans voice their displeasure on the bill's process. >> the reason why we were in the debacle we're in is because we've refused to pass any of the appropriations bills, most of the authorization bills, so you end up all jammed up at the end of the year. the reason i voted against it last night, here's $1 trillion bill with a few hours of debate. >> a big part of that drama centered on ted cruz's efforts to hold up the bill against president obama's immigration action. here's harry reid criticizing the junior texas senator. >> the junior senator from texas is wrong, wrong, wrong on several counts. because it's not an appropriate place to debate the constitutionality of any executive branch action. >> let's go right to nbc's kristen welker joining us from the white house as her usual post. and kristen with a hello to you. let's walk through some of the hi highlights of the bill. >> the big highlight, this bill funds the government for an entire year. that's the first time we've seen a bill fund the government for
that length in years. so that is significant. it will likely add some stability to the u.s. economy. in terms of what else is in this. there are a lot of things that democrats don't like, a lot of things that republicans don't like. democrats angered by the fact that it rolls back dodd frank. that bank regulation, it also raises the limits significantly on donations that wealthy donors can give to political committees. it relaxes school nutrition standards. but here's what the white house likes a lot, alex, it increases funding to fight isis, increases funding to fight ebola. $5.4 billion. what republicans like, it sets up a big fight over immigration in february because after february, it no longer funds dhs, which is the agency in charge of enacting the immigration policy. so be prepared for that battle on the horizon. but look, ultimately white house officials say this legislation represents compromise. that's the best you're going to get in a divided government.
and alex, remember, democrats don't have a whole lot of leverage right now because in a few moments republicans will take control of congress. what conservatives, by the way, don't like, is the fact this this legislation still funds the president's health care law and the fact it funds immigration for a few months. as you pointed out at the top, senator ted cruz was really upset about that and staged a big protest. essentially, yesterday. alex? >> i just want to clarify for anybody who didn't know, dhs, department of homeland security there. can you speak to why it took so long to pass? did senator mccain address that? it's pushing things off to the very last minute. the 11th hour. >> right. things always get pushed back to the 11th hour here, alex. it seems that way. all expectations were that this legislation was going to get through very quickly. and then what you saw last week were those last-minute sweeteners put in scaling back dodd/frank. scaling back mccain feingold, those finance laws. and so you had a big revolt on the side of democrats.
nancy pelosi who said she wasn't going to support the legislation because it was so abhorrent to her and her democratic allies. and the white house had to do a lot of arm twisting there. then yesterday, senator ted cruz, senator mike lee demanded a vote on immigration. so that held things up in the senate. by the way, that allowed senator harry reid to move forward with a number of nominations, 24 of the president's nominations. that became a bit of a win for the president, but you have the sort of last-minute grand standing and that is part of why things get held up. by the way, senator ted cruz got a lot of pushback from his republican colleagues who said there didn't seem to be a real end game in sight in terms of strategy with the exception of voicing his opposition to the immigration legislation. >> thank you so much. >> thanks. well, joining me right now, one of the senators who voted in favor of that bill, ben carden, member of the finance committee and foreign relations committee. thanks for joining me. >> alex, pleasure to be with you, thank you.
>> in perhaps, sir, what is the best sign you want to look at in a silver lining picture. it's a compromise because it seems like both sides were unhappy with this bill. >> well, the good news is that we've got a budget done. no longer gridlock or the fear of a government shutdown or continuing resolutions. our agencies are fully funded for a year. for those of us who really support what our agencies are doing, they can now plan their full year, do their work, whether it's in research at nih or protecting our borders. we do have funding that will allow us to move forward. >> okay. in terms of specifics, senator, what did the democrats get in this bill that you wanted, and what did the republicans get that you did not want to give up? >> i think that when the budget priorities within the caps that were approved, the democrats got their priority areas funded helping our children in health care, we got the money that we need, certainly in fighting the ebola internationally and could impact our economy. i think democrats are pleased
that we got funding for our community health centers that allow us to continue to provide access to health care, to those who are the most vulnerable. helping our children, our -- we got additional funds there. rape kits for law enforcement to help those who are victims. i think there's a lot of things that we can point to that are pleased that are in the budget itself. >> a couple of things that may be negative. clean water act was down. epa, that is done, as well. also, funding for the irs, down, that was something the republicans certainly wanted. >> well, there's no question, this is a compromise, and there are things in here that we prefer not to see. it's interesting to point out that the house sent over to the senate 70 or 80 different bills containing policy riders that were considered on the omnibus appropriation bill. most of those defeated in the negotiations. some got on. that's unfortunate. but i think when you look at it
on balance, we're pleased that we were able to do so well on those policy riders that are not part of this bill. >> let's focus on the dodd/frank exchange, sir. it had a lot of your fellow democrats unhappy. here's that. >> there's a lot of talk lately about how dodd/frank isn't perfect. there's a lot of talk coming from citigroup about how dodd/frank isn't perfect. so let me say this to anyone who is listening at citi. i agree with you, dodd/frank isn't perfect. it should have broken you into pieces. >> those are certainly fighting words there. is this battle over yet? and by the way, the singling out of citibank. are you comfortable with that? >> no. and there are provisions in here i would much prefer not be in this. but remember, omnibus is the end of the year bill where a lot of unfinished business is included in it. it's a compromise between the
democrats and republicans. i am concerned about maintaining the strength in dodd/frank to go after the reckless practices of financial institutions. i would much prefer to see that in separate legislation debated on the floor of the senate and not included in this bill. >> you heard my colleague kristen welker at the white house saying sweeteners were put in, sir. do you know who put in the dodd/frank sweetener? >> no, i don't. i really don't. i know there have been bills sent over to us from the house that contained modifications in dodd/frank. we certainly knew that the republicans were trying to weaken the protections of dodd/frank. i know there were a lot of negotiations of different provisions and we were successful in protecting the integrity of dodd/frank. there were certain provisions that could have an impact and we'll have to watch that closely. >> let's move on to the cia torture report. let's hear as former vice president dick cheney in a new interview this morning. >> we did what was, in fact, required to make certain going
forward we were not violating the law. and the law as interpreted by the justice department, the office of legal counsel was clear. the techniques that the president authorized that produced results, that gave us the information we needed to be able to safeguard the nation against further attacks and to be able to track down those guilty for 9/11, did, in fact, work. >> do you, sir, consider any of these procedures illegal? and if so, should there be prosecutions? >> i clearly think what was done was illegal. i disagree with the former vice president in that it was not effective. it clearly went beyond what is permitted under our laws. we did not have the right supervision in effect. we've acknowledged our problems. our great nation looks at what it does and as a result of the report released, i think will be a stronger country. certainly, there needs to be accountability. that's one of the responsibilities of the legislative and judicial branches of government.
and i think what we did in releasing this report was the right thing to do. >> you mentioned release. you said in a statement about the report that, quote, america's reputation and moral leadership in the world were at stake. and strikes me as this report comes that tens of thousands of americans are marching the streets, protesting police shoot g ings and brutality. 136 prisoners remain five years after this president vowed to shutter it. 44 drone strikes this year so far. does the rest of the world still recognize the united states' moral leadership? >> oh, i think there's no question that the united states is the -- looked upon internationally as a beacon of hope, a country that stands for democratic values. we make mistakes. the good news is that when we make mistakes, we know how to deal with it. we're open about it and we try to correct it and make sure it doesn't happen moving forward. it's well past time for guantanamo bay to close.
those that are detained there need to be transferred and either prosecuted or transferred to other countries, or if we have no reason to hold them, they should be released. guantanamo bay was set up to gather intelligence information that could be useful to help protect the security of our own country, we're well past the time that those being detained still have useful intelligence information. >> are you concerned at all a decade from now we'll be discussing drone strikes as being a mistake? >> no, i think drones are part of our military operations. there needs to be careful supervision as to how they're used. weapons and how weapons are used and how we use our military needs to be authorized by congress and needs to be focused on issues that involve our national interest. and our military operations always have to be the matters of last resort. we need to try to resolve issues in the military first. >> we had this incredible moment on thursday where the director of the cia is doing a live
televised press conference inside the agency headquarters while the senate intelligence chair is live tweeting her response. it was just remarkable. what does that tell you? >> it just tells us we're an open society. and even those areas we know we have to keep close to the vest that is important for our national security to be able to do things that we don't want to see on the front page of our newspapers. we still have an open oversight responsibility and all of us are accountable to the public. >> ben carden, thank you so much, good to see you, sir. >> my pleasure. other news now, hundreds gathered saturday night to remember 19-year-old jessica chambers. jessica's father tells nbc news, she was getting her life on track. there's an $11,000 reward being offered for more information. the cleanup effort is underway nn southern california after a week which saw mud slides, flooding and tornadoes. that storm system called a
pineapple express is responsible for at least two deaths and left ten homes uninhabitable. >> all of these people lost everything. the houses are paid for and everything, and they thought this was their nest egg. especially now with christmas and everything, the houses were decorated and everything. they've lost all that. >> utility crews have restored power to nearly everyone who lost it during that storm. and today marks two years since the massacre in newtown, connecticut, where 20 children and 6 educators already shot dead. officials say there will be no public memorial events, just private reflection of those lost. the sudden drop in the price of gas. it's a relief to most drivers. how does that fit into the overall economy? why some say it could do damage next.
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justice for all rally in washington, d.c. today is calling saturday's event an american movement by people of all races, colors and religions. that's how the national urban league's marc moreal characterized it today. one of the largest rallies in new york, 20,000 to protest police violence against african-americans. they were largely peaceful. but two officers were injured by protesters, two arrests were made. a march in the nation's capital also drew up to 25,000 people according to the organizers. marchers saying it was a time for action. >> there is a problem. that our black kids are being murdered. >> we feel like this needs to be a fight that involves all of us. black lives matter for everybody. >> in california, there were peaceful protests in san francisco where thousands marched outside san francisco city hall. the scene a bit more -- failure to disperse and minor offenses. set some small fires and broke windows.
when the stock market opens tomorrow, investors will be hoping for a big turn around from last week when the dow and s&p had the worst performance of the year, but will be the impact of this week big economic news. oil prices continuing to fall and the spending bill now on president obama's desk, including a major change to wall street reforms. the former chief economist for vice president biden and a senior fellow. and a great friend to us here. good to see you, jerry, thanks for joining us. >> always happy to be here. >> let's talk about the fuel prices. the average price at the pump, now $2.56 per gallon, crude oil closing on friday. what is driving this downward? >> well, oil is one of those commodities where you can kind of do basic economics to figure out the answer to that question. supply and demand, along with geopolitical dynamics are always playing key roles in setting that price. now, supply has been a big factor with some countries like our own, by the way, coming on
the global market with increased supplies of what's called tight oil. meaning harder to extract oil, like tar sands or here in the u.s., fracking. meanwhile, the opec cartel, you'd expect them to really suppress their deliveries, to hold their supply down in order to arrest this price decline, they haven't done so. i think it's for an interesting reason, which we can get into if we want. another factor here, opec and the saudis in particular continue to pump. at the same time, demand has trailed off a little bit. those factors are certainly implicated in the big price decline. >> i think you were listening to the conversation with my executive producer and i. we wanted to know about saudi arabia. why are they doing this? >> okay. so this is really interesting to me. and it's somewhat underexplored. again, if you're saudi arabia, you're a key player in the opec cartel. you'd probably think this would be a great time to reduce supply in order to bring the price back up.
i think what's going on here is that they're not targeting price, they're targeting market share. and they realize that the price of oil falls to $70 or $60 a barrel, about where it is right now, it is no longer profitable for some of their new competitors, like us, by the way, to take this tight oil out of the ground. the fracking and the tar sands. this is a longer run play by them to try to hold on to market share. the implication of that, alex, and your executive producer is that means that prices will go back up later. and that is that is the way this tends to roll. >> before they head upwards, will they go lower? and if so, how lower? >> i think they will go lower based on momentum alone. i hesitate to say how much lower. i think most -- we're pretty close to carving out a body would be my guess. and i actually think these low prices will persist for a while. but i guess my advice to anybody thinking about running out and buying a hummer or suv right now based on today's prices should probably think twice.
>> let's take a look at the spending bill together. politics aside, do you see this being a good plan? >> you know, i understand the kind of compromises. you had a great discussion with senator carden. i don't like this plan. i would have been a no vote. it would have been a close call. because as the two of you were saying in a gridlocked environment like this without compromise, you don't go forward. but i would have had to hold my nose way too tightly to swallow some of those changes, especially, you mentioned de-funding the irs. i think that's big. but the change to dodd/frank is a big deal and very problematic one. >> why is it so dangerous in your mind then? how does it work? >> so what it does is it basically allows banks now to trade derivatives and not just any derivatives, but these risky bets in the part of the bank that's insured, that's backstopped by the u.s. government. so taxpayers once again backstopping these risky derivatives. one of the things we did in dodd/frank and i was there at the time, we took that part of the trade out of the insured
part of the bank. we pushed it out to a subsidiary that's not backed by the taxpayer. this change brings it back in. so to me, one of the big problems that inflated the financial bubble was the underpricing of risk. and backstopping these risky trades to me brings that problem right back into reality. >> does it feel like main street versus wall street to you? >> it sure does. i don't know if viewers recognize this, but citibank, citigroup, i should say, the holding company actually wrote this part of the legislation. i mean, something like 75 of the 80 lines of legislation -- >> is that why -- that's why senator warren was calling out city group specifically when she made that? i mean, there's certainly many other banks adhering to this policy. so i wondered. they wrote it? >> they wrote this part of the policy that repeals section 718 of the dodd/frank to be technical. and look, it's not that uncommon for outside lobbies to
contribute to legislation. but, remember, citigroup got $50 billion in bailout in an event that helped tank the economy. the fact the folks are back in the fray now actually contributing to legislation is a very big deal. and i would have been a no vote on that, just like senator warren is saying. >> okay, jared bernstein, thanks so much. the $1.1 trillion spending bill is heading to the president's desk, but not without a healthy dose of skepticism. what exactly is in that bill that has so many riled up. many people clean their dentures with toothpaste or plain water. and even though their dentures look clean, in reality they're not. if a denture were to be put under a microscope, we can see all the bacteria that still exists on the denture, and that bacteria multiplies very rapidly. that's why dentists recommend cleaning with polident everyday. polident's unique micro clean formula works in just 3 minutes, lling 99.99% of odor causing bacteria. for a cleaner, fresher, brighter denture everyday.
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the gulf of mexico, cold air coming in right behind that area of low pressure. it's going to give us a pretty good storm potential, especially by midday and into the afternoon hours. and the invasion of the shower activity extends not just to the central plains, but the northern plains, too. back half of the system will deal with snow. the big show is going to be this, the chance of strong thunderstorms going all the way from wichita, oklahoma city. maybe north of the waco area. be advised. we told you there were several components. you have the thunderstorms and then you also have this, snow flakes flying in a lots of places, across rapid city, denver, which is a spot desperate for snowfall, may get some. temperatures are going to be high, anywhere from 15 to 25 degrees above average for a lot of places like minneapolis, omaha, kansas city, into st. louis. but as that frontal boundary sweeps through and the trough does, we're going to see the transformation from rain drops to snow. it's all going to be the rain. and that rain will march its way
into the ohio valley as we make it into tuesday. be ready for that. and know that travel, oh, a lot of disruptions could take place across parts of the midwest, the ohio valley and moving into the northeast as we get our way into tuesday. all right, alex, that's the latest. back to you. >> i'll take it. thank you so much, reynolds. let's go to today's number ones and the forecast of the hottest housing markets in 2015. more millennials will be looking to buy. the strongest market is projected to be denver with sales increase of 14%. atlanta and phoenix are expected to see increases of about 11%. the nation's capital, 10%. now to the winner of college football's highest honor, oregon quarterback marcus mariota awarded the heisman trophy. dr. dre's $620 million earnings come mostly from apple's purchase of beats by dre headphones. beyonce second place with $115 million.
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i guess i did just say it. welcome to you. this is the last thing americans want to hear. another year of squabbling. but even democrats were divided. nancy pelosi, other democrats criticizing the president for his stance. so do you think stagnation is going to set the stage for the future? >> unfortunately, probably. but the fact that the democrats were not threatening to shut down the government, they simply were stating believing that were contrary to what the administration was proposing. that's okay. there's nothing wrong with that kind of division. the division that is so destructive is where there is an absolute determination to keep things from moving forward. and to not even consider the possibility of reasonable compromise. and that's what concerns me about what's likely to happen in 2015. >> and you may have heard me ask earlier, sir, the scaling back
of dodd/frank, who put that provision in the bill? do we know? >> well, the word is that citibank had a lot to do with that. perhaps even suggesting the specific language. and, you know, this is a bad deal. we've gone through a terrible, terrible economic time in this country. dodd/frank was an effort to make sure that never happened again. that the taxpayer would not be on the hook for these risky investments. and this is rolling back those protections. and it's a giveaway to the big banks and to l way street. and i think it's a shameful part of what has happened in the last few hours in washington. >> michael, did i hear you agree with the governor? >> yes, no, i think this provision is a real, real problem down the road. i mean, look, we're going to
revisit this in three, five, ten years when you're allowing the banks to get into a business in which they're taking the savings, pensions and the dollars of hardworking americans and put it in the market. investment banking is a separate enterprise unto itself. it should not be comingled with the banking opportunities for small business owners and for families. and i think this particular provision is going to come back to bite the american people down the road. so that's having said that, i think that at the end of the day, i guess i'm a little bit pessimistic, but a little bit hopeful in terms of what you saw play out, alex, in the last few weeks, that harry reid and mitch mcconnell along with john boehner and nancy pelosi, up until she realized she was on the wrong side of the issue for her base in the house could actually navigate this -- these waters and get a bill together to get to the president for his signature. and that may bode well for some
opportunities down the road. it doesn't diminish the likelihood of noise and a lack of compromise. but there are some bright spots down the road where i think both sides can come together. >> you know, michael, ted cruz played a big part in this weekend's session in an effort to get a vote on immigration. but he got the vote, however it failed. so here's what he said after the vote. let's listen. >> every senate democrat is now on record casting a vote in support of president obama's illegal amnesty. >> first off to you, would the republican party be better off without the likes of ted cruz? >> oh. >> can i answer that one? >> that's awful. ted cruz was duly elected and represents his constituents from the state of texas. >> is it two divisive for the party as a whole? >> no more divisive than -- let me get this straight. she goes on the floor and champions her cause, you know, against wall street and everyone's like, oh, joan of
ark, wonderful, wonderful -- taken by the president is somehow demonized. look, both of these individuals are representing respective constituencies. how they are dealt with within their respective caucuses is going to be the challenge of the leadership. so, yeah, ted cruz has a role to play. he will play it. >> weren't a lot of republicans criticizing ted cruz afterwards? >> i'm sure they were. i'm sure they were. but, you know, they have -- ted cruz doesn't answer to those lawmakers. he answers to a base constituency out there that appreciates his fight. you may disagree with this fight. you may have concerns by the way he carries out that fight, but he's representing a lot of voices and a lot of votes out there that will, you know, actually come into play later on down the road. >> all right. let's switch gears now and talk about the cia torture report. i'll go to you first, governor, it was one of the focus of the sunday shows today. what do you think is to be gained by this report? >> well, the american people are
now aware of what was done in their name. and that's important. and we never want it to happen again. and if we've got to choose between the opinion of dick cheney and the opinion of senator john mccain, we ought to listen to senator mccain. this report is important, it was bipartisan, and it was extensive, over 6 million documents looked at, over 6,000 pages of work, 500-page executive summary, and it details things that happened in our name as american citizens that are reprehensible. and, i believe, those responsible should be exposed. i don't know they should be charged criminally but they should be exposed, they should be shamed. and in my judgment, those who exceeded their authority within the cia should no longer be
working for the cia. and i would hope president obama would try to identify those individuals and make sure that they no longer represent this government. >> okay, michael, couple things here, would you go that far, first of all? >> no. >> and second of all, how concerned are you? certainly the american public knows what went on better now, but so do our enemies. and how worried are you about retribution for that? >> i think that, you know, we have an opportunity here to listen to both senator mccain and dick cheney. because i think they're both right, and that's the challenge that we face in this new marketplace of terrorism. where, you know, the enemy is -- is not beholden to the standard coming out of the cold war, you know. where they -- where they will publicly behead individuals. and so you need actionable intelligence. you need people on the ground who can get inside those networks and identify these
players. and you need to do it by any means necessary at times. and it's a very delicate balancing act, that our government and executive leaders in particular are going to have to deal with. i don't think you can absolutely say, oh, absolutely, no circumstances should we do this. because in five or ten years, are we not going to revisit this drone policy? so are we saying that, you know, this is reprehensible to take one individual into a black site and torture him, but it's okay to drop an indiscriminate bomb on a family or community of people because we want one person? so this is the balancing act that we have to come to grips with as american people. and our executive leadership, meaning the white house, the president will have to walk that fine line very carefully. but you can't just take one side and ignore the other. >> all right, well, unfortunately, that's going to have to be the last word. good to see you both. thank you so much. >> good to be with you. we're going to head overseas for an event. the duke and duchess of cambridge have released the new photos of prince george.
he's a year and a half old and in direct line to one day be the king of england. more on this royal moment. what a smile it's outing on everyone's faces. he's so precious. >> isn't he adorable? i know. the camera absolutely loves him, alex. and these are the first pictures we've seen, really, in five months. sort of an early christmas present to the newspapers and the media who have backed off, given him some privacy. three photos of the boy being called his royal cuteness. >> a rosy-cheeked prince george on the steps of kensington palace. the pictures were taken last month when it was still warm enough for knee-high socks and a sweater vest. is he the spitting image of his dad? or more like mom? >> well, if you look at the photographs of his mom when she was little, the chubby cheeks and the same eyes. he looks very naughty with his mischievous smile.
>> he's had quite a year for a boy who is only 17 months old. the future king went on his first trip abroad, played nicely with the whole world watching and showed all of us his throwing skills. not once, but twice. he's been on magazine covers and started baby fashion fads. those overalls worn for his first birthday photo shoot sold out. even when he's not around, prince george is still the center of attention. in new york, when music royalty met british royalty on a basketball court, they didn't talk sports or songs or fashion. >> it was a brief chat about their kids and about children and, yeah, i think they all seemed quite cool, really. >> talks of play dates and christmas presents. so what do you get for a boy who lives in a palace and whose great grandmother is the queen? last year, george was more interested in the wrapping paper than what was inside.
this year, all he wants is mom and dad's ipad. >> probably not going to happen for george. his parents have apparently told family and friends to back off from the extravagant gifts and think more along the lines of teddy bears, maybe another cool sweater vest, alex. >> another one to wear. okay. thank you for that. well, no end in sight. new details emerged from the hacked e-mails at sony pictures and the self-proclaimed hackers have a dire warning for the production house. a christmas gift is on the way.
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ryan gostling, leonardo dicaprio and will smith's kids. eric gardner at the "hollywood reporter" joining me in studio with a welcome to you. you hear that warning, what more information could they have? >> well, right now, i think, most of what has gathered everyone's attention is kind of the gossipy bits. you know, what actors are making, what studio heads are saying privately behind doors about producers and actors in hollywood. >> salacious stuff. >> salacious stuff. >> but this certainly can go in a lot of directions. there could be political ramifications, international relations, certainly studios work on treaties and work with politicians on legislation, you know, there's all sorts of dealings with china. you know, this can get very bad. >> geopolitical, economic things which would probably pale. that would make everything else
heretofore pale by comparison. but speaking of the salacious stuff, i want to read a september exchange. criticizing leonardo dicaprio's decision to back out of the bio pick. quote, was this about the deal or did he just change his mind? that's from gordon. the latter replied, then gordon replied with horrible behavior which was echoed, actually, despicable. do you think hollywood stars are really surprised by exchanges like this? or are they more surprised they've gone public? and i also want to ask, do the stars need the studios more or do the studios need the stars more? >> well, it's a mutual relationship. they both need each other to succeed. i don't think anyone's surprised that they talk bad about actors behind closed doors. everyone knows that hollywood studio executives are a bit like this. and, you know, how it gets out,
well, you know, we see in the e-mails of george clooney who was actually directly addressing those who might peek into the e-mails. there was some awareness that, you know, you should be a little bit careful about what you say, even in private conversations. but still, you know, i don't think anyone really figured this would go public. >> yeah. 100 terabytes of information, when does it stop? >> it's staggering. even if it stops now, it would be taking journalists months to go through all of this. and they say it's coming more. the hackers say there's a christmas gift that's going to be the worst yet for sony. >> do you think this could ultimately bring down sony? i mean, realistically, we've talked about economic, geopolitical, lots of issues, more than just headlines grabbing. is it possible? >> it's certainly possible. i'm really eager to see some of the stuff about china. if you look at some of the documents about where their legal priorities have been in
the last few years, it's been defending sec subpoenas into a probe about bribery and how films are distributed in china. you know, there's lots of very, very sensitive documents, even beyond some of the salacious stuff that we see today. and a lot of the things go to other businesses. well, this is not just a problem for sony, it's a problem for apple and google and all the other studios. i mean, whenever there's a fight when it comes to documents, they fight tooth and nail to protect these secrets. and they tell judges, or the fcc it's going to cause irreparable harm to let these secrets go. and here they are coming out. >> right. eric, thank you for your time. >> thank you. what happened to len and lacy? for months his parents have been searching for months. and now the fbi's opening an investigation. gn-then-drive eve. for practically just your signature, you could drive home for the holidays in a german-engineered volkswagen. like the sporty, advanced new jetta...
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residents of the town marched in honor of the young man yesterday. the august 29th death of lennon lacy will be investigated by federal authorities. his mother addressed the crowd. >> i want to say thank you. i appreciate all the support. the fbi have agreed to look into it. and that's what i want. there are questions that have not been answered. there are things that have happened that have not been explained to me. >> let's bring in gregory taylor. reverend taylor is the family pastor. with a welcome to you, sir. i imagine there's been a heck of a lot of prayer trying to seek answers and comfort over this tragedy. is there a sense of hope now within the family that questions are being asked about lennon's death? >> yes, there is a lot of hope with the family. first of all, i want to thank you for this opportunity to share their story. there's a lot of hope in the community now that the fbi has
agreed to undertake this case. ever since august 29th, family has questions about the death of their son, lennon lacy found hung in north carolina on that date. there is hope with the fbi in place, we will get some answers to the questions that have been raised by this incident. >> how is it that it was ruled a suicide so quickly, sir? because by his mother's estimation and everybody else who has been interviewed, he was not despondent, there was nothing that led to this. why did it rule suicide? >> well, his uncle died the day before. i did the eulogy for his uncle and spoke with lennon lacy that day, that was that thursday, friday morning, they found him dead about 7:29 that morning. his mother indicated to the police that he was depressed. that came across as being clinically depressed. however, he was grieving, like
most african-americans who lose family members. we grieve. and so that was misinterpreted. the key statement that she issued the first statement she issued was someone killed my son. the police did not follow that particular line of reasoning. they followed the line of reasoning in suicide. and, in fact, by 3:00 that friday, they had determined he had committed suicide, which something that we cannot accept at this time. >> yeah. especially on the heels of an uncle dying when we have all suffered through tragedy, and you don't get over it like that. so is there something specific that has rallied this community to bring about this fbi response and further an investigation now? was there an incident that turned on that? >> i think when the pathology report came out, that was the turning point. the naacp of the state of north carolina hired an independent pathologist to review the case. and once that report came out, many more questions were raised. and so, the community galvanized
behind it. for example, his shoes, lennon lacy wore air jordans, but he was found hung with a pair of white shoes that were 1 1/2 size too small. and so, that was one of the questions. and then the belt. a leash, a dog leash was found and the belt was found that did not belong to lennon lacy. these were some questions that galvanized the community. and also, lastly, it is a fact that he was involved in an inner racial relationship with a white woman, a 31-year-old white woman in blaidenboro. the community galvanized around the report and some of the questions raised by the pathologist report and the relationship he had with this 31-year-old white woman. >> reverend gregory taylor, when you get answers, we'd love to have you back and talk with us about them. thank you so much for your time, sir. >> thank you so much. ahead in the next hour. the new budget deal. what is it going to do to school lunches? ♪ mmm mmm mmm mm mmm mm mmmmmm
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the senate cia torture report stirs debate on the sunday talk shows. >> waterboarding, the way we did it was, in fact, not torture. >> vice president is obviously comfortable with it. i consider it to be torture. >> my objective is to get the guys who did 9/11. and it is to avoid another attack against the united states. >> do the ends justify the means? former ambassador bill richardson joins us. a $1 trillion deal is done on capitol hill, but what's in and what's out in the new spending bill? a young girl's plea. how her appeal to congress honors the memory of her lost classmates. do not be afraid! god is with us! >> and exodus, a new big screen story of moses. what's wrong with this biblical account?
hey there, everyone, welcome to "weekends with alex witt," a bit past 1:00 p.m. in the east, 10:00 a.m. in the west. we have new reaction today on the cia torture report. in an interview this morning on "meet the press," dick cheney defended the bush administration's use of the enhanced interrogation techniques. and he claimed that the report was a partisan document. but democratic senator ron wyden hit back at cheney's claims. >> a notion we were not notified at the bhous about what was going on, is not true. i sat through a lengthy session in '04 as he reviewed the state of the program at that time. the suggestion, for example, of the president didn't approve it. wrong, that's a lie. that's not true. >> what we sought to do was very careful. and that is to take the statements, the cia made to the american people, made to the congress, made to the justice department, made to the president, and we compared it to their own internal
communications in realtime. >> let's go right to kristen welker who joins us from the bhous white house. >> well, i think it will be to some extent, alex. what's interesting is you have lawmakers on both sides of the aisle saying they're not going to push the justice department to reopen investigations. democrat adam schiff speaking as a former prosecutor, i think it's difficult to make a case against someone who is following the advice of the justice department, even if the legal advice was flawed. so that is one aspect of this, and you really have bipartisan support on that point. where you're seeing the more divisive issues are essentially what happens next. you have some lawmakers, udall, for example, calling for more documents to be de-classified. and so i think you're going to see more and more calls for that. republicans, a lot of them, opposing for more documents to be declassified. and i think you'll have a more
robust debate over what the cia is allowed to do moving forward. and how it might be allowed to go after intelligence. one more point i'll make, alex, is the united states drone program is coming under a sharper spotlight. you have a lot of people asking the question, well, if those interrogation tactics are outlawed, is it okay for the united states to use drones to target militants. but at the same time, inadvertently killing civilians. i think those are the points around we're going to see some of the debate. focus in the coming year. >> yeah. and as you know, michael hayden addressed this report on "abc's this week." >> they were successful. that's a fact. do i support them? with regard to waterboarding, i made it clear that i thanked god i didn't have to make that decision. i had easier circumstances when i was director. >> he was referring there to the enhanced interrogation techniques. is there a debate in the white
house about what is effective? >> well, there is. and the white house is not really publicly weighing in. you heard president obama essentially say that's not the main question here. the question is whether or not we should be using those tactics. but there is a big debate over whether the tactics were actually useful. whether they produced what is being referred to as actionable intelligence. cia director john brennan making a very strong case and saying, look, some of the information we obtained was useful. but senator dianne feinstein saying the report proves otherwise. there is a very robust debate. but the white house saying, the bottom line is these tactics are outlawed, and should continue to be. >> thanks so much. >> thanks. well, the revelations in the torture report have been divisive in the u.s. what's it going to mean for international relations. joining me now, bill richardson who previously served as ambassador to the united nations, energy secretary and u.s. congressman who served on the intelligence committee. with a welcome to you, sir, you
are the perfect person to talk to about this. i want your personal reaction to the details of the report. and secondly, what do you think this means for u.s. diplomacy and leadership abroad? >> well, this whole episode has been a disaster for the united states. it's caused tension between the white house and cia, the cia and the congress. it's given us a black eye overseas. i think we have to focus on how we can get out of this mess. and the way to do that would be, look, i served in the cabinet. i think strong interrogations are should happen. i believe, also, you have to continue the drone efforts. i mean, these are terrorists, these are very bad times. but we don't have to have torture and waterboarding. on the other hand, where i worry about is why aren't we not focusing on the solutions. the solutions are more human intelligence, more spies, more arab speakers in the arab world. instead of being totally
preoccupied with cyber warfare and social media. let's focus on solutions. let's beef up the cia. it's a valuable institution. but, you know, we've been hurt all around the world, internally, let's get beyond this episode. >> you've said, actually, in interviews this past week, it has hurt us as a country, as a whole here. you also said that the senate report from senator feinstein's work. it is incredibly harm to the important cia relationship. wasn't the torture, itself that had the impact not the transparency, necessarily? >> well, yes. the fact that the possibility. and i don't know, because i'm not there, that cia didn't level with the congress, with the intelligence committee on the extent of what they were doing. that's a big issue. i think there's always tension. i served on the intelligence committee with the cia, they
don't want to tell you everything. you have to ask the right question. but at the same time, it's not good for this open warfare that literally exists between the senate committee and the cia. there's got to be an atmosphere of respect, of disclosure, but at the same time, accountability. i'm not trying to be right in the middle on this issue. i think we need to just get away from this, move on, find ways to improve the transparency. look, i'm for getting rid of torture, but that doesn't mean that you don't do tough interrogations. these are bad people. and i think there has to be a limit here on what you do. sleep deprivation, torture, some of this rectal stuff they said they were doing. that's not needed. and there's a dispute whether it worked. the senate report says it doesn't work. i don't think it works. senator mccain who was tortured said it leads the torture to tell you lies to get you to stop
torturing them. >> yeah. and understandably so. before we switch gears to oil prices, i know that vice news interviewed james mitchell, that's the cia contractor identified as the architect of the program. let's take a listen to this. >> to me it seems completely insensible that slapping ksm is bad, but sending a hellfire missile into a family's picnic and killing all the children and, you know, killing granny and killing everyone is okay for a lot of reasons. one of the reasons is, what about that collateral loss of life? and the other one is, if you kill them, you can't question them. >> whatever you think about mitchell, it's an interesting moral debate. do you think we'll be talking about a drone report ten years from now? will a future cia director be in front of cameras inside the agency headquarters as we saw this week? >> probably. probably, alex. but, you know, it's a debate that america needs to have.
we have values. we don't need to torture. but with these drone attacks, look, there's going to be misfires. and it's terribly unfortunate. but there are people out there that want to kill the american people. we don't want another 9/11. and isis, they're not nice people. so i sympathize with those cia officers that were doing their job. now, i think it was wrong for them to do it. but you don't prosecute them. you try to rebuild. let's find a way to bring some attention to the fact that we don't want the cia hurt in recruiting the future men and women we need to beef up our national security by having better intelligence about what these terrorists are up to. >> okay. one quick question here about oil. the prices, which continue to drop every day, as you know. iran is now getting upset. this past week, in fact, president rouhani said the price drop was a, quote, experience against the region. the muslim people and the muslim
world. interesting it is not a conspiracy when prices are high. but what do these prices mean for iran? >> well, iran is upset because they suspect that saudi arabia, which decided not to increase production, which affects prices is after them. now, i don't think it's a conspiracy, but the saudis don't like iran. so iran like venezuela and nigeria and russia are suffering from lower prices. they went down almost 40% since june. and i believe they're going to go down to $45, which is really going to hurt countries like iran. but the problem i see is less demand from asia. the problem is also the disruptions and the middle east, the enormous battles in the middle east that are taking place, causing enormous confusion. and then, i think the united states, the production of shale is becoming more energy
independent has always been a factor. but it's good news for american consumers. if you're heating your home, you're paying less, you're driving to your car, putting gas in it. it's better for the american consumer. >> absolutely. >> we got to be careful here. >> all right. governor richardson. good to see you as always, sir. thanks so much. let's go now to capitol hill and all that is left for a $1.1 trillion spending bill to become law as the president's signature. the president passed that law last night. the bill included things that people on both sides of the aisle, though, did not like. for democrats, it was the partial repeal of the dodd/frank law. can now be used again by banks in high-risk investments. >> and when they make a whole lot of money, they get richer. but when they lose money, because of the repeal of this revision, it is the taxpayers who have to bail them out. >> lauren fox covers for the national journal. who do you think got the best deal of the package?
>> it's hard to say. democrats and republicans were very divided over this piece of legislation. of course, in the 1600-page bill, there was also a lot to like. there was more funding for the -- to fight the ebola epidemic, also more money to fight isis in iraq and syria. so there seems to be plenty enough senators voted for it. but i think republicans and democrats were frustrated with this bill. >> yeah, i want to talk about one key part of the bill that concerns school lunches. the bill would relax standards which is being seen as a big blow to michelle obama. what does this mean? >> well, this has been kind of this contentious point for a long time. we've seen republican congressmen talking about this for a while. and essentially, this just is kind of a, you know, defense against michelle obama and the obama administration. there are a lot of republicans who feel as though her program has infringed on the rights of, you know, schools to serve lunches that they deemed fit. so i think this is sort of one of those more symbolic pieces of
this bill that just kind of prepares the country for what we're going to see when a republican controlled congress. >> okay, lauren, fox, short but sweet. we'll have you back again. >> thank you. it is a plea to congress. but will lawmakers listen to this young girl's urgent appeal. what does she want that could possibly save countless lives? p. it's progressive pain. first that feeling of numbness. then hot pins. almost like lightning bolts, hot strikes into my feet. so my doctor prescribed lyrica. the pain has been reduced and i feel better than i did before. [ male announcer ] it's known that diabetes damages nerves. lyrica is fda-approved to treat diabetic nerve pain. lyrica is not for everyone. it may cause serious allergic reactions or suicidal thoughts or actions. tell your doctor right away if you have these, new or worsening depression, or unusual changes in mood or behavior. or, swelling, trouble breathing, rash, hives, blisters, changes in eyesight, including blurry vision, muscle pain with fever, tired feeling or skin sores from diabetes. common side effects are dizziness,
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we're for net neutrality protection. now, here's some news you may find even more surprising. we're comcast. the only isp legally bound by full net neutrality rules. it was a day that no parent will ever forget. two years ago today, a gunman burst into the sandy hook elementary school in newtown, connecticut, armed with a semiautomatic rifle and two handguns. he shot and killed 20 children and 6 adults. earlier this week, a former student at sandy hook helped launch a week of action on gun law reform. 8-year-old marie spoke to remember her classmates and
deliver a message to congress. >> i miss my friends who were killed on december 14th. i honor their memories with action. congress, please keep me and all children safe. pass universal background checks to keep guns away from dangerous people. >> dave, reporter from the hartford current who has covered the newtown tragedy since the beginning joining me now. dave, with a welcome to you. we all heard an 8-year-old girl remembering her murdered classmates. a stunning reminder of how deeply these shootings have impacted that community. give me your impressions on the people of newtown today. >> hey, alex, how are you? still healing, i think i would say. you know, it's two years out, but i think it's still a raw, fresh thing that people are dealing with. and things have been happening that keep, you know, keep it coming up, for example, the town just was given adam lanza's
house a couple weeks ago. >> what do they plan to do with it? what are they going to do with it? >> she says she's going to form a committee to take a look at what to do with it. i believe most of the families would like to see it torn down and just let it, you know, let trees and woods grow there. and just get rid of it completely. it's a pretty -- amazing to me that the house is still standing and nothing's happened to it or -- i know a lot of the families are very upset that it's still sitting there. they'd like to see something done with it. >> yeah, so raising it may exactly be the right thing to do. i know there was no official anniversary memorial being done on behalf of the town, but do you get a sense that families are marching this day? or do they want it to just go away, if you will, in terms of an actual day. >> i think they're doing it privately. last year, they had a pretty moving little candle light vigil
that many of the families attended. this year, i think they're deliberately trying to keep it very low key. >> yeah. >> a lot of these families, you know, frankly have been out of the public eye for, you know, for two years. >> yeah. >> there's a very diverse group. many of them didn't really know each other. their children were only first graders. so, and they were thrown together into this -- >> in a horrible way. >> what's interesting, in the wake of this, all of us that are parents, journalists, anybody, we were all horrified by this. and the thought of gun legislation finally being passed as this being the tip of the spear, this is the thing that's going to make it happen. there was a sense of that. but it has not happened. the federal level here, the lack of reaction to the movement on gun law reform. what is the response there to that? >> i think in general from the family's perspective, i think they're frustrated on a lot of fronts.
the big issue recently, a couple of the family members testified at a commission where they talked about questioning where all the money has gone that has come in from the federal government since the shooting. the federal government there's been six grants to the town for over $17 million. and a lot of the families that i've talked to, i don't talk to all of them. but the ones i've talked to, many of them are actually paying for their mental -- their mental health treatment out of their private insurance. still. so that's -- that's been a big issue. the gun, the whole gun issue has seemed to not be quite on the forefront as it was. there are still, obviously, groups that are into that. >> well, maybe, maybe people will listen to the voice of 8-year-old marie morowski and
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this holiday season, hollywood is cashing in on some religious themed movies and this is not coming without criticism. joe fryer has the latest. >> reporter: exodus gods and kings is a formula that should make the movie number one at the weekend box office. >> and clearly being the year of the bible and the year of the religious film, it kind of makes sense this movie is doing so well in its opening weekend. >> reporter: but not without mixed reviews and a hash tag urging people to boycott exodus movie. there's controversy about the film's interpretation of the old testament and the white actors covered in make-up and cast to play major roles. in response to criticism,
director ridley scott told variety magazine said he can't mount a $140 million film and say that my lead actor is muhammad so and so from such and such. it's not going to get financed. that prompts one journalist to say, there's so much wrong with this explanation, it's hard to know where to start. >> i'm not alone. >> the author of "the variety" article points out other big budget bible movies also feature white leads, in "noah," it was russell crowe. >> there's a certain long standing tradition of this. and i think it's great to have a discussion about it. but it's wrong to single out one film as being the culprit. >> this has been a wildly successful year for biblical movies. epics like "noah" and smaller films like "god's not dead," "son of god" and "heaven is for real." >> hollywood has cracked the code on how to make these movies mainstream, popular and big at the box office.
>> yes! >> which means hollywood's year of the bible could get a long extension. joe fryer, nbc news, los angeles. >> that's a wrap on this sunday edition of "weekends with alex witt." up next, "taking the hill." d soe an impact on something as big as your retirement? i don't think so. well if you start putting that towards your retirement every week and let it grow over time, for twenty to thirty years, that retirement challenge might not seem so big after all. ♪ right now, you can get a single line with 3 gigs for $65 a month. 3 gigs ... is that a lot? that's about...100 app downloads, 45 hours of streaming music, and 6 hours of video playing. (singing) and five golden rings! ha, i see what you did... (singing) four calling birds...three french hens... (the guys starts to fizzle out) two... turtle... doves... i really went for it there ya you did... you really, really did
come in and use your starbucks gift card any day through january 5th for a chance to win starbucks for life. usa! >> on this week's "taking the hill," take a journey with us to america's most hallowed ground and meet the man whose patriotism has sparked a national institution. >> i think it hits a nerve with so many people. people don't want their loved ones to be forgotten. ♪