'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Read the transcript to the Tuesday show
Guests: Rachel Maddow, Joe Oliver, Charles Blow, Natalie Jackson, Jonathan Capehart
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Is that you, Rachel? I`ve just been
sitting here reading your book, "Drift" by Rachel Maddow. Actually, I have
a few questions. Could you? Are you going home? Could you come over here
and talk about this?
RACHEL MADDOW, "TRMS" HOST: Yes, I could come over to talk to you
about it, and I`ll give you back as many minutes as you want, man.
O`DONNELL: All right. OK, it might cost you a minute of your time
what just happened here. It`s breaking news. You can`t do anything about
it. I will see you soon, Rachel.
MADDOW: Thanks, man. I appreciate it.
O`DONNELL: We have reports today that the homicide detective in
charge of the Trayvon Martin case wanted to prosecute the shooter, George
Zimmerman, the night of the killing.
George Zimmerman`s friend and defender is my first guest.
SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON MARTIN`S MOTHER: I just want this guy
arrested and so he can be brought to justice.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Justice.
CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Justice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Justice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Justice.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Justice.
TRACY MARTIN, TRAYVON MARTIN`S FATHER: An arrest needs to be made
for George Michael Zimmerman.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Martin`s parents will take their fight to the
steps of Capitol Hill.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The broad public perception was that a wrong
was done here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They say that there are a lot of leaks appearing
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The police report has been leaked.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This was an attempt by supporters of Zimmerman
to smear Trayvon Martin.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, the tone of things here continues to be
CHRIS JANSING, NBC NEWS: There are still calls for Zimmerman to be
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The police said they couldn`t make an arrest.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is unbelievable how this has been handled.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have Zimmerman`s version, but we`ll never
JANSING: It`s getting under way right now, the main event.
ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST: Today is the main event.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is the Super Bowl of Supreme Court cases.
WAGNER: Historic oral arguments regarding the Affordable Care Act`s
MATTHEWS: Day two at the Supreme Court. What a day.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The justices came out kind of swinging.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it`s very doubtful that the court is
going to find the health care law constitutional.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it gets struck down, it`s more muddled.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People realize this is a constitutional moment.
WAGNER: The phrase "individual mandate" connotes force.
MATTHEWS: Force is something they might not do on their own.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People don`t understand why there`s a mandate.
We did a terrible job explaining this bill.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What`s the plan B?
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I`m president of the
United States, I will repeal Obamacare. I will repeal Obamacare.
RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Anyone want to repeal
O`DONNELL: The latest developments in the killing of Trayvon Martin
is that ABC news is now reporting that Chris Serino, the lead homicide
investigator the night Trayvon Martin was killed no recommended that George
Zimmerman be charged with manslaughter the night of the shooting. We
contacted detective Chris Serino tonight. He is a 15-year veteran of the
Sanford Police Department and told us that he is observing the department`s
rules of not divulging any of the details of his investigation.
But detective Serino, the lead homicide investigator on the case the
night of the shooting of Trayvon Martin, told us tonight that he feels very
positive about the new investigations. He is very encouraged by those
investigations, and his words, he is looking forward to the truth coming
Joining me now is Joe Oliver, friend of George Zimmerman.
Joe, thank you very much for joining me tonight.
JOE OLIVER, FRIEND OF GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: Thank you for having me.
O`DONNELL: First of all, how long have you known George Zimmerman?
OLIVER: I`ve known George about six years. I`ve known him ever
since he started dating his wife. His mother-in-law is a close friend of
O`DONNELL: So you`ve only known him socially?
OLIVER: Yes, mostly socially.
O`DONNELL: You`ve never been in the same workplace?
OLIVER: You know, I`m sure that information is out there, but I know
where he works.
O`DONNELL: Well, I`ve come across some information that indicates
you both worked at the same place at the same time. Is that -- can you
OLIVER: You know, if you`ve come across that information, then you
have come across that information. You know, I`m -- I am not working right
now as I`m trying to help George.
O`DONNELL: And how are you paying your expenses if you`re not
working? Is someone paying you to do this for George?
OLIVER: No, no one is paying me to do this for George. I`ve been
trying to contact George since shortly after this happened because I was
well aware of the firestorm of media interest that was going to happen.
And I`ve been trying to contact him in order to offer my help because
of my experience with the media. It wasn`t until this weekend when I
learned that he had retained an attorney that I contacted him through his
attorney and spoke with him and validated for myself that I would be doing
the right thing for standing up for George.
O`DONNELL: Joe, I want to get into how well you know him, and that`s
why I`m asking about the workplace. Did you spend time together in the
OLIVER: Occasionally, yes.
O`DONNELL: OK. And have you ever been alone with George Zimmerman?
OLIVER: Yes, I have.
O`DONNELL: In the workplace?
OLIVER: Yes, I have.
O`DONNELL: And did you have private conversations with him over the
years about his experience with law enforcement?
OLIVER: Not his experience with law enforcement, but I`ve had
conversations with him about why he was a criminal justice major. I mean -
O`DONNELL: Did you know him when he was arrested in 2005?
OLIVER: No, I did not.
O`DONNELL: Did he ever tell you about that?
OLIVER: No, I did not. But what I`ve learned from that arrest is
that it was for coming to the aid of a friend who was being arrested as
O`DONNELL: Yes. I can tell you exactly how that arrest was
described by agent Paul Fleishmann (ph). This according to "The Miami
Herald." Agent Paul Fleishmann wrote that Zimmerman walked up to a pal
under arrest and began chatting, refusing to leave. Zimmerman cursed him,
Fleishmann wrote, before pushing him and causing a short struggle. That is
the police account of that arrest.
OLIVER: Well, you know, like I said, I wasn`t there. And I would
think that during that time, George may have been drinking. George -- I
don`t know, because as long as I`ve known him, he hasn`t drank.
O`DONNELL: Do you know that George -- whether George had to enroll
in anger management classes as a result of that case?
OLIVER: No, I don`t, but I would imagine that that would have been
part of what he went through in order to avoid any charges sticking.
O`DONNELL: And, Joe, you got to know him first in the workplace or
when he became engaged through someone you knew?
OLIVER: I got -- I`ve known him since he met his now wife and
started dating her.
O`DONNELL: And did that wife know that his previous fiancee had
brought charges against him?
OLIVER: I would think so.
O`DONNELL: But you don`t know that?
OLIVER: No, I don`t.
O`DONNELL: Did you know that?
OLIVER: No, I did not.
O`DONNELL: Did her mother know that? Because you know her mother.
OLIVER: I don`t know. You`d have to ask her.
O`DONNELL: Have you discussed that with anyone, the charges of
violence brought against him by his former fiancee?
OLIVER: I`ve not had any reason to discuss the violent history he
may have had --
O`DONNELL: Well, Joe, here`s why we`re discussing why he may have a
OLIVER: Lawrence, if you would allow me to answer your question
completely and fully, then maybe we can go on with this discussion.
Now, as far as what happened with George before I met him, for me,
that`s irrelevant because whatever happened before I met him, he grew
immensely from it to be a kind, gentle, giving and caring individual -- one
who I trusted with my own child.
O`DONNELL: So you don`t think that anyone`s violent history has
anything to do with evaluating their credibility when they are engaged in a
violent act that becomes controversial?
OLIVER: I think their violent history becomes a factor when they
don`t alter their violent behavior. That`s when I think that becomes a
factor. I mean, why would we have this system where we give people an
opportunity to learn from their mistakes and grow from them? And George
Zimmerman learned from his mistakes and grew from them.
O`DONNELL: What mistakes did George Zimmerman tell you about, and
how did he tell you he grew from his mistakes?
OLIVER: I`m not -- I`m just saying from what I have seen, the person
that I know, the George Zimmerman I know was not the George Zimmerman who
was arrested in 2005. It`s documented -- if you`ve got the records there -
- that he did go through anger management.
What`s the point of someone go through anger management if they`re
not going to alter their behavior? If George had to go through all of
that, he was very successful. It was very successful.
O`DONNELL: Joe, don`t be silly.
OLIVER: I`m not being silly.
O`DONNELL: Just stop. You don`t believe that anger management
actually successfully manages the anger of everyone who goes through anger
management. You`re not that naive about this.
OLIVER: You know what? You`re right, I`m not. And it doesn`t work
for everyone. And I didn`t know that George had been through that. If he
had been through that -- if he had been through that -- again, if he had
been through that, then I know it worked for at least one person.
O`DONNELL: OK, quickly. You said that you talked to him about this
for the very first time on Saturday. Did his lawyer arrange that
discussion, and did his lawyer participate in that discussion?
OLIVER: No, his lawyer did not participate in that discussion.
O`DONNELL: OK. And you have said that you need to have that
conversation with him on Saturday in order to go out and publicly defend
him. Tell us now what you learned from George Zimmerman on Saturday that
you did not know before your conversation with him, what was the turning
point in your conversation with him that changed your understanding of this
so that you could confidently come here and defend him about his actions in
something you did not witness?
OLIVER: My conversation was between me and George. And being an
African-American male and understanding what was going on with George`s
involvement in this and with my experience -- I mean, first of all, I had
to ask myself, what am I going to do for this person that I consider as a
friend? I wasn`t going to go off with just the information that was being
fed out there that all we knew about what had happened which, again, if I
didn`t know George Zimmerman, I`d be outraged myself. There`s no question
O`DONNELL: Joe, these are your talking points that you`ve used on
every show. That is a non-credible answer. You have claimed --
OLIVER: That is your opinion.
O`DONNELL: You`ve claimed to have a conversation with him that
changed your understanding of the facts. And now you want to go out
publicly and say I will not share with anyone what George Zimmerman told me
to change my opinion of the facts so that I could go out and defend him. I
don`t want to hear your talking points that you have used on every show
you`ve been on.
Now, I have Charles Blow here with me from "The New York Times." He
has some questions for you.
CHARLES BLOW, NEW YORK TIMES: Mr. Oliver, I`m just curious. You say
you have known George Zimmerman for six years.
OLIVER: Yes, I have.
BLOW: But you say you were close friends with George Zimmerman.
However, he never shared with you --
OLIVER: No, let`s back up. No --
BLOW: What you`re not going to do --
OLIVER: You`re going to continue mischaracterizing what I have said
because a lot of times --
BLOW: You said you were friends with George Zimmerman. However, he
never shared anything with you about his past, his violent past. He never
shared with you whether or not he had been through any anger management
courses. You said yesterday on television you have not physically laid
eyes on George Zimmerman since a week before this incident and have not to
How can you claim that you are a close friend of George Zimmerman
when none of that is true of you? You don`t really know George Zimmerman
if you don`t know those things about George Zimmerman. And if you don`t
know where George Zimmerman is, and if you have not seen him in over a
month and you have been out saying that George cannot stop crying which you
cannot verify because you were not there, you have been saying nope, you
have been saying that there are lacerations and his nose is broken.
The only thing you know is what George may have told you because you
were not there. You have not seen him for over a month. None of this
rings true. You`re playing people like they`re stupid. And we`re not.
OLIVER: And I`m not a stupid man either.
OLIVER: I know what I`m putting myself up against. And I know the
repercussions of this. I`m stepping forward for George because this was
not a racial incident. I`m stepping forward for George because of how it
has ignited all the racial tensions that we`ve had here for years.
I understand everything that everybody is out there marching about
because I`ve experienced it myself. And I wouldn`t put myself on the line
like this if I didn`t know in my heart that George Zimmerman was in a life-
or-death struggle. I wouldn`t be here -- I would not be risking myself --
BLOW: How do you know that in your heart? How do you know in your
OLIVER: Have you ever had a gut feeling? Have you ever had a gut
feeling? Were you there? Were you there? Were you there?
BLOW: I`m asking you because you`re the one who`s saying you know in
your heart that George Zimmerman was in a life-or-death situation, and I`m
saying that we don`t know. I`m saying that we have to wait till the
investigation is finished. And you are saying that you know that there was
You said on television that you know that that was George Zimmerman`s
voice crying out for help, and you have only known George for six years,
and you have only seen him in social situations.
His mother told me that she is absolutely 100 percent sure that that
is her son, and she has known that boy for 17 years. She has heard him cry
many times from a child all the way up to 17. She is saying -- are you
saying that you know George Zimmerman`s voice better than Trayvon`s mother
knows his voice?
OLIVER: I`m saying, as Lawrence has pointed out, I`ve had numerous
conversations with George. Because now --
BLOW: Have you ever heard George Zimmerman scream?
OLIVER: You know what? What is the point of you asking me questions
if you`re not giving me an opportunity to answer, OK?
BLOW: Answer the question. Answer the question.
OLIVER: As far as George raising his voice, yes, I`ve heard him
raise his voice before.
OLIVER: Not in anger. Not in anger.
OLIVER: You know what? Why are we having this discussion if you`re
not listening to my answers, if you`re not giving me a chance to finish my
BLOW: You don`t have an answer. You don`t have an answer.
O`DONNELL: Joe, I`ve learned carefully. You`ve said for you the
entire thing, your entire view comes down to a gut feeling. That`s all it
OLIVER: Not just a gut feeling.
O`DONNELL: Joe, look.
OLIVER: I`ve asked questions -- I`ve asked questions -- can you
answer that? Can I answer why it`s a gut feeling and why I feel good about
it? Because it`s an instinctual thing, and it`s also because I`ve had what
I have been told validated.
What you have heard so far that has been leaked has been validated --
was -- is validating what I`ve been told. There`s other information that
is yet to come out that we`re waiting for the grand jury to pass down. OK?
And when that comes down, then it`s a question of whether or not anybody
else believes what the investigation turns out.
You know, we welcome -- we welcome the state`s attorney looking into
this. We welcome the grand jury. We welcome the Justice Department.
We welcome all of this because first of all, this was not a racial
incident. And we welcome all of this because we know that if we weren`t
sitting here talking about George shooting Trayvon, we`d be talking about
Trayvon shooting George.
O`DONNELL: Hey, Joe, we`re going to get to that in a minute, the
detail of that in a minute. I just want to explain to the odd audience
we`ve lost a little light in the studio.
I want to get to something that`s been very important to a lot of
people who saw you on "HARDBALL" yesterday. Talking about this
controversial element of the 911 tapes in which people think they hear a
racial slur. And for you it comes down to one letter, a "C" or a "G." Is
it goon or is it the "c" word that goes with that.
I just want to listen to what you told Chris Matthews about that.
We`ll try to get your light back while playing that type, so let`s just
listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OLIVER: To me, it`s a matter of interpretation of whether he`s
saying coon or goon. There are a lot of parts of this country where people
proudly call themselves coon asses in Louisiana particularly. I don`t know
too many people who younger than 40 who use that term as a racial slur. As
far as the other word, goon, I`ve been informed by my 17-year-old daughter
that that, among her peers, is a term of endearment.
(END VIDOE CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joe, as you know, there`s been an awful lot of African-
American reaction to that, starting with Charles Blow. Let`s hear his
reaction to that now.
BLOW: Well, I grew up in Louisiana, and I have never once heard an
African-American refer to an African-American in that way.
OLIVER: I never said African-American.
BLOW: You`re going to let me finish.
OLIVER: I will.
BLOW: And particularly, any sort of term of endearment, and
particularly, why would you insinuate that George Zimmerman was using that
as a term of endearment, whether it`s a "C" or a "G" after the "F" word
about a person whom he found suspicious, about a person whom he was
following with a gun? That is absolutely patently ridiculous.
OLIVER: You know, the characterization of what happened out there
has been ridiculous because the characterization that`s been put out there
is that George was following Trayvon with his gun drawn. And that`s not
BLOW: Nobody said that. I didn`t say that.
O`DONNELL: Joe, you`re just dodging the question. Listen, we want
to talk about this particular phrasing because it really has provoked a lot
of outrage among African-Americans. But Joe, please --
OLIVER: I will answer the question. I will answer the question
because it all boils down to interpretation.
O`DONNELL: Joe, let me do this. Let me take a break now so we can
really fix your lighting during this commercial break. Then we want to
hear your answer to this because you know -- you know as an African-
American man, there are millions of people in this country who are very
eager to hear you on this.
We`re going to take a break right now. We`re going to be right back.
Thank you, Joe.
O`DONNELL: We`re still working on getting the lighting right on Joe
Oliver`s studio in Florida. And I really want to commend him for showing
up tonight, unlike George Zimmerman`s lawyer last night who literally ran
out of that studio last night rather than face this kind of questioning.
Joe Oliver`s going to hang in there. He`s going to stay with us.
Charles blow will be back. We`ll bring in Jonathan Capehart. We`re going
to have much more on this and we will be joined later by Rachel Maddow.
We`re going to be back.
O`DONNELL: We`re back with Joe Oliver in a badly lit Orlando studio.
Sorry about that lighting down there, Joe, and thank you very much. Hey,
it looks a lot better now. They worked on it.
So look, we left it with you and Charles Blow here in New York
discussing this thing you said about what it is that George Zimmerman, your
friend, said on the 911 tapes. Remember, there`s two words there, Joe.
There`s two words.
O`DONNELL: He doesn`t just say goons as you might like this think it
is. And I noticed that in one of your interviews, you said that your 17-
year-old daughter has listened to it repeatedly. And she tells you and she
tells you that she loves George, but she`s heard it both ways.
OLIVER: And I`ve heard it both ways as well.
O`DONNELL: So you`ve heard it with your own ears in the most
offensive possible way.
OLIVER: I`ve heard it both ways listening to it.
O`DONNELL: And remember the word that comes before it, "F`ing."
that`s not a term that tends to lead into a loving term.
OLIVER: You know, goons has also been used as an insult to people as
O`DONNELL: Yes, it has, but which one do you think is worse for an
OLIVER: Well, of course the other one is worse for an African-
O`DONNELL: Why would you pretend it`s an innocent thing on
OLIVER: I`m not trying to justify it. What I am trying to point out
O`DONNELL: For George Zimmerman to have said, if he said it.
OLIVER: That`s right. It is a terrible thing if he said it.
O`DONNELL: All right. You know what?
OLIVER: What I`m trying to point out is that George is not a racist.
O`DONNELL: We`re going to let everyone listen to that tape
themselves. I`ve said what I`ve heard. I heard the worst word that you
could hear on that tape. You`ve heard both. That`s OK. I accept that
We don`t have to argue it anymore, and I`m glad we`ve moved off that
stuff you said about it yesterday.
I want to bring in Jonathan Capehart of "The Washington Post" who has
been covering this closely. He`s in Washington. He`s going to join us by
satellite. He has some questions for you, too.
JONATHAN CAPEHART, THE WASHINGTON POST: Hi, Mr. Oliver, thanks for
So you`ve said that you`ve known George Zimmerman for six years.
CAPEHART: And one of the things that we know about George Zimmerman
is that he`s wanted to be in law enforcement, as you said in the beginning
of the interview that he is a criminal justice major, right?
CAPEHART: So did he ever talk to you about his desire to be in law
OLIVER: Yes. We talked about it briefly, about what he was majoring
in and what he wanted to do with his future. And basically, he generalized
it in that he was a criminal justice major, and he wanted to do something
CAPEHART: But did he specify what exactly? Because law enforcement
is a very large field.
OLIVER: Yes. I mean, he specified that, you know, he wanted to try
and get into police work and possibly become a lawyer.
CAPEHART: And so possibly get into police work. Did he try?
OLIVER: I don`t know if he did.
CAPEHART: To get into --
OLIVER: Can I -- you know, I want to point out and I`ll clarify my
relationship with George because the characterization has been, as a close
friend, I`m being describe him as a close friend because I`m the only one
who`s speaking out for him. But my relationship with George is more of an
older uncle. I`m old enough to be his father.
CAPEHART: Well, right. All the more reason for him to confide in
you and to talk to you and to seek advice about all of life`s -- all of
life`s mysteries. So, I mean, I think, you know, the questions I`m asking,
they should be questions you should -- you ought to be able to answer as
someone who is an uncle figure or a mentor, someone older than George.
OLIVER: Ye, we`ve had those discussions before at family gatherings.
But you have to understand that at those family gatherings, George was
probably the only one who wasn`t drinking, for one.
For another, you know, the discussions that you`re talking about that
you think we should have had in order to validate whether or not I -- you
know, should be here talking on his behalf, those are discusses I`m sure he
had with his father.
I mean, the discussions that I`ve had with George have been in
general have been about are, you know, are mutual acquaintances about
what`s going on with each other.
CAPEHART: So you`re not --
OLIVER: And it`s not something that you`re going to take notes about
CAPEHART: So, just to be -- so, Mr. Oliver, just to be clear, you`re
not a close friend of George Zimmerman. At best, judging by your last
answer, you`re really just an acquaintance.
OLIVER: Well, the close was not ever my term. That close term was
coined ever since I came forward to speak on his behalf.
O`DONNELL: Joe, I -- Joe --
CAPEHART: I`m sorry, go ahead, Lawrence. I know this is your show.
O`DONNELL: Go ahead. Go ahead.
CAPEHART: So George Zimmerman never talked to you about, you know,
being a part of the neighborhood -- being a part of the neighborhood watch,
about what that meant to him, about what it meant to him to serve his
community? He never talked to you about that?
OLIVER: I`ve never asked him specifically what that meant for him to
CAPEHART: But he never volunteered it.
O`DONNELL: Joe --
OLIVER: No, because I never asked.
O`DONNELL: Joe, it`s Lawrence O`Donnell. I have to say I never use
the phrase "close friend" because I didn`t have enough evidence to say
close friend. When I discovered -- in why own investigation that you were
in the same workplace, that seemed to be the only place you might find
yourself in a situation alone with him because you`ve been saying that all
of your interactions had been family based.
But, Joe, this is the problem, the problem is that you have
identified on this show that the only reason -- the only reason you believe
George Zimmerman`s account of what happened is your own personal gut
feeling. That is not good enough for America, Joe, and you have to know
that. That is not good enough for a jury, Joe, and I have to know that.
You have to know, Joe, that you would not be a witness in this case.
Except for the fact --
OLIVER: I don`t want to be a witness in this case.
O`DONNELL: You may be because you had an unprotected conversation
with him on Saturday that is relevant to the case. And so, you should be
subpoenaed and questioned under oath about exactly what he talked to you
about. And if you`re not, that`s an incompetent investigation going on in
Has anyone reached out to you from law enforcement since you publicly
said you had a conversation with Zimmerman on Saturday and asked to
interview you and up you under oath about that conversation?
OLIVER: No, no one has.
O`DONNELL: Joe, you`re a mystery man to me because you`re doing this
on such a slim basis of a gut feeling. You`ve given up your job.
You know, I don`t understand how you give up your job and your income
to go out here and do this public relations job for George Zimmerman. I
don`t understand how you can afford to do this. It`s strange seeming
behavior, Joe. It doesn`t add up to me.
And then yesterday on "HARDBALL," you were saying these wildly nutty
things about that racial slur, just anything you could say to defend this
guy on the basis of nothing but a gut feeling. Your role in this, Joe,
just doesn`t make sense to me.
OLIVER: Well, it just doesn`t make sense -- and I`ll agree with you.
My role in this -- I`ll agree -- just doesn`t make sense. But because of
the person that I know, that I`ve grown to know over the past years, that,
you know, I`ve seen even more since you`ve revealed that we are coworkers,
since he got his job, that, you know, you`ve got to validate for yourself
and reconcile for yourself whether or not, you know, this is a bad person.
Well, this is not a bad person. This is a very good person who grew
from his previous mistakes some seven years ago. And if you ever got to
know him, you wouldn`t even suspect that he had those problems some seven
O`DONNELL: But Joe, we`ve got to go, but listen, you`ve told us --
you don`t even have a consistent story. You`ve told us you don`t know what
his mistakes were. Then you tell us he grew from them. Then you you`re
not sure if he did anger management. Then you`re pretty sure he did do
You know about the arrest. You don`t know --
O`DONNELL: -- if his current wife knew about his previous fiancee`s
violent complaints against him and the injunction against him that the
previous fiancee got. There is so much you don`t know, Joe. And you want
America -- you go on national television like this, CNN, all these other
shows, and you say to America, believe me, I can vouch for the man who shot
and killed Trayvon Martin because I, Joe Oliver, have a completely
inexplicable and unjustifiable gut feeling.
Joe, it is not good enough for America.
OLIVER: I -- it is good enough for me.
BLOW: You can`t even say that it predates -- it predates what you
know of him, because you say you know him for the last six years. That is
a period over which he has called 911 on people in his community 46 times.
Did he talk to you about any of those 46 times that he called 911 on people
in that community? Yes or no?
OLIVER: Why would he?
BLOW: That`s right. You don`t know this man. Thank you. Appreciate
O`DONNELL: Joe Oliver, we`ve gone --
OLIVER: And you don`t know this man either.
BLOW: But I`m not on television claiming to know him. That is what
you are doing, sir. I am not claiming to know anybody in this case. I
have not met Trayvon Martin. I have never met George Zimmerman.
You are claiming to be a friend or confidante or whatever, an uncle,
or whatever you`re claiming to be for George Zimmerman, and you don`t know
anything about George Zimmerman.
You don`t know how -- that he`s on the phone all the time thinking
that people are suspicious, whether or not they`re seven or nine years old,
playing in a driveway or whether he is calling on Trayvon Martin.
You don`t know George Zimmerman. You know a little bit about this
guy. And you`re relating something based, like you said, on a gut feeling,
because like you said, you would not declare yourself as a close friend of
George Zimmerman. And that`s it.
OLIVER: And I know enough about George Zimmerman --
BLOW: Thank you.
OLIVER: -- to put myself in this position.
O`DONNELL: OK, Joe, I want to thank you very much for coming in
tonight. You can go off and do other television interviews. And they`re
all going to be easier than this one. You knew that before this one
I appreciate you coming in and doing this tonight. It was more than
the lawyer representing George Zimmerman was willing to do last night. He
ran out of that chair that you are sitting in tonight. And I thank you
very much for staying with us and doing this extra time with us tonight.
Joe Oliver, I think you`ve clarified a lot about what your position on
this comes from. Joe, thank you very much for joining us.
OLIVER: You`re welcome.
O`DONNELL: We`re going to take a break right here. We`re going to be
back with our panel. We`re going to be joined by Jonathan Capehart,
Natalie Jackson, who is one of the attorneys for the family and, of course,
Charles Blow. And we will get to Rachel Maddow.
O`DONNELL: And we`re back with Charles M. Blow, "New York Times"
columnist, and Jonathan Capehart, MSNBC contributor and opinion writer for
"the Washington Post." And we`re joined now by Natalie Jackson, co-counsel
for the Martin family.
Natalie, based on what you just heard, do you think that Joe Oliver
should be questioned by the investigators in this case about the substance
of his conversation with George Zimmerman on Saturday?
NATALIE JACKSON, ATTORNEY FOR MARTIN FAMILY: I definitely think he
needs to be questioned. That`s called an admission by party. Whatever
information that George Zimmerman gave him will be valuable information for
O`DONNELL: Charles, today you Tweeted, I think while watching Joe
Oliver on TV this morning with maybe Soledad O`Brien on CNN, "Please
someone put me on TV with Joe Oliver." I saw that knowing that we had Joe
Oliver booked yesterday. We had him booked.
BLOW: You set me up.
O`DONNELL: I didn`t set you up. But I just said, OK. I said OK,
we`re getting Charles. I know it`s frustrating, strange experience.
BLOW: Yes. I mean -- well, you quickly come away with the idea --
and he admitted it tonight. He is not a close friend of George Zimmerman.
He could not even contact George Zimmerman. George Zimmerman has not
contacted him. He admits himself that he had not seen George Zimmerman
until -- since a week before the shooting of Trayvon Martin.
That to me does not sound like a close friend, an uncle or anything
else. And that is what we needed to hear him say out of his own mouth.
And that`s what he said tonight.
O`DONNELL: Jonathan Capehart, Joe Oliver used to be a CNN reporter.
He knows the tools of your trade. He knows what was going to happen, what
was going to be relevant when he came out publicly.
We discovered here tonight that he did indeed work in the same place
as George Zimmerman, something I discovered in my investigation today. And
yet he does not want to talk about that. He thinks there`s things about
his relationship with George Zimmerman that he can protect and keep secret
while he tells the world, trust my gut feeling, and nothing but my gut
feeling, that George is telling the truth.
CAPEHART: Right. And that`s so not going to work, not under normal
circumstances, and certainly not under circumstances like this, where there
is a dead 17-year-old boy who was unarmed at the hands of someone who he
wants us to believe is his close friend, George Zimmerman, but so close of
a friend, someone who he said I`m older than George. He looks at me like
an uncle, like a mentor, even.
And yet this same person doesn`t talk to him about his dreams and
aspirations. He knows that George Zimmerman was majoring in criminal
justice, yet he doesn`t know about any attempts by Zimmerman to join law
enforcement, any of the rejections or the acceptances. I mean, this --
from everything that Charles was able to get out of him in terms of whether
he was really a good friend of George Zimmerman`s or not, plus my being
able to just find out that if you really are a good friend and you know
that this person is trying to get into law enforcement and that`s something
that this person really wants to do, you know about that. You know what
they want to do.
You know what they`ve been trying to do. Close friends know that.
Even very strong acquaintances know that. Given the interview he just gave
here tonight, he`s not even a close acquaintance. He`s just some guy.
O`DONNELL: Natalie Jackson, I think we just ripped away the veneer of
what the Joe Oliver TV act is. There`s absolutely nothing there, except a
guy who, for some strange reason, inexplicable -- I just confessed to the
audience I find it inexplicable that he`s dropped everything, he`s dropped
his job, he`s dropped his income simply to go on television on the basis of
nothing other, when you get right down to it, than a gut feeling.
He must have been counting on, and he has gotten an awful lot of
softball interviews on television that made him think he could get away
JACKSON: Yeah, this is a man who has inserted himself into this.
He`s not a witness in this case. He can`t provide anything valuable to the
trial. He doesn`t know. He was not there.
You brought home a point -- and I do hope these investigators talk to
him. I hope that they get whatever stories -- he`s put about three
versions of George Zimmerman`s story. I believe that he`s vetting his
story through the press. I believe that that is what he`s doing. And our
team believes that.
But we`ve kind of ignored the Joe Oliver. Because we asking for an
arrest in this case. Anything else is up to the jury. There were
witnesses that were actually there.
O`DONNELL: Natalie, quickly, before we go, I want to read you
something that Angela Corey, the special prosecutor, said to the "L.A.
Times." She said, "it`s possible that we`ll just make a decision without
the Grand Jury." Now, it seems to me, in my experience, the only decision
they would dare to make without the grand jury is to go ahead and
JACKSON: And I agree with that. Now, we are still under the
impression that the Grand Jury will go on April 10th. That is what they
have told us and that is what we are going with. However, we need look no
further than Zimmerman`s own words.
We don`t have to listen to Joe Oliver. We have tapes with Zimmerman`s
own words. "These a-holes always get away." "He`s running away. I`m
going after him."
We have that. That is enough to arrest George Zimmerman and to have a
jury and a trial listen to people who actually know about what happened and
for what they speak of, and not the Joe Olivers of the world.
O`DONNELL: That`s all the time we have for tonight. I want to thank
you all for listening to that interview, for participating in it, Jonathan
CAPEHART: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Charles Blow, Jonathan Capehart, Natalie Jackson, thank
you very much for joining me.
Rachel Maddow is going to be here next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will have those military
options. I will take those crippling sanctions and put them in place. And
I will speak out to the Iranian people about the -- the peril of them
It`s pretty straightforward, in my view. If Barack Obama gets re-
elected, Iran will have a nuclear weapon, and the world will change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Mitt Romney has now discovered a bigger problem in the
world than Iran.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROMNEY: If he`s planning on doing more and suggests to Russia that he
has things he`s willing to do with them he`s not willing to tell the
American people -- this is to Russia. This is, without question, our
number one geopolitical foe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now, MSNBC`s Rachel Maddow, host of "THE RACHEL
MADDOW SHOW," and now the author of "Drift, the Unmooring of American
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC ANCHOR: Yes.
O`DONNELL: I noticed that in our politics, in our world, nothing has
really changed between Romney saying Iran is the worst thing in the world
then -- and now Russia is the worst thing. The only thing I`ve seen happen
is the publication of your book, "Drift" by Rachel Maddow.
Did he read something in this book that got him suddenly really anti-
MADDOW: He read about Reagan`s private outside the CIA cabal of Team
B zealots who were telling him that Russia had all this stuff they didn`t
have so he could justify a giant defense budget. Maybe. Maybe he`s
thinking about reviving those guys. That`s possible.
O`DONNELL: It is amazing that Mitt Romney can flip like that just as
soon as he hears something to exploit in foreign policy. What does that
give you, based on your work here in the book and watching it in general?
Mitt Romney as manager of foreign policy is not something we`ve been
discussing. What`s your sense of how that would go if the country made
MADDOW: It is -- he is not a guy who has ever prioritized foreign
policy. He sort of inherited the George W. Bush foreign policy advisers,
in terms of who he brought on in the campaign.
But there is a way in which he`s trying to sell himself as
presidential enough to make a plausible foreign policy gut check kind of
argument. And so he talks about I will tell the Iranian people. And we`re
all meant, as the American people to think, are the Iranians going to
listen to him? Like is that what Iran is waiting for, to hear from Mitt
Romney what`s in their best interests?
And he thinks that we`re going to look at him and think that. And
it`s something that Republicans traditionally, over the course of our
lifetime, have thought that they`ve had the advantage on. I don`t think
they have the advantage on it anymore.
But it`s interesting to try to see these guys compete with each other
without much competing about foreign policy this time around.
O`DONNELL: I want to read something from one of my favorite pages of
the book, because it`s a Senate debate on the First Iraq War, a debate that
I was there for on the Senate floor. And it was one of the most ennobling
debates I witnessed.
There was no questioning people`s motivations. Some people were in
favor of giving the president the authority to do it. Others were opposed,
a very significant vote opposed to it. And no one called anybody names.
And you note that in here.
I want to read something that a Senator Don Riegle said. He said --
at that time, "war is about fire and steel and people dying. If the sons
and daughters of all of us, of the president, the vice president, the
cabinet were all over there in the Persian Gulf right now, right up on the
front line and were going to be part of that first assault wave that would
go on into Kuwait, I think we`d be taking more time. I think we`d be
working harder on the sanctions policy. I think we`d be trying to squeeze
Saddam Hussein in every other way that we could short of a shooting war."
And it turns out that Don Riegle was on to one of the themes of this
book, which is that we have disconnected war from the American experience
of 99 percent of this population.
MADDOW: And that -- I`m so glad that you zoomed in on that, because
both Riegle`s point and the fact that that point was being made in what you
describe as en ennobling debate, I totally -- that`s exactly how I see it.
That was the right kind of debate to have, because Congress still had some
sense that whether or not we went -- we started that war would depend on
So they debated it as if Americans` lives depended on it because that
was true. And that`s the way that the Constitution is set up, in terms of
how we`re supposed to make democratically inflected decisions about
national security. Yes, we have military leader, a commander in chief in
the president. But it is the representatives of the people who are
supposed to decide this thing.
So to have that real debate before we started that war in a way that
was not hyper partisan and that was hard thought, and that ferreted out
weaknesses in both sides of the arguments, that`s the way it`s supposed to
I don`t mean to make it seem like Gulf War I was perfect. This book
isn`t about what war`s the good war and what war`s the bad war. It`s about
whether or not we feel engaged.
And that was such a shorter war, and had such less of an impact on us
as a country, and in terms of our national security, compared to the Second
Iraq War. But consider the difference and how connected we as a people
felt to Gulf War I, compared to how separate we felt from this last eight
and a half years in Iraq.
O`DONNELL: And as that debate shows, we were much more sober about
the consequences, the possible consequences ahead of time. Are you taking
personal questions about the book?
O`DONNELL: Where did you find time to do this? I don`t have time to
read the paper.
MADDOW: You see this?
O`DONNELL: Oh, yeah.
MADDOW: That`s what it is. I worked on it -- I got this book
contract before I got a job at MSNBC. I tried to give it back. I quit. I
failed. I said I can`t do it. There`s no way I can get it done.
Eventually my guilt wore me down. And I worked on it like a second job.
O`DONNELL: Rachel Maddow, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
MADDOW: Lawrence, thank you. Thank you.
O`DONNELL: The Reverend Al Sharpton is going to get tonight`s LAST
O`DONNELL: Tonight, THE LAST WORD goes to Reverend Al Sharpton, who
did his show tonight from his mother`s hometown in Alabama, where her
funeral was held today. Ada Sharpton was 87 years old.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REV. AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: When she was born in this state in
1925, she didn`t have the right to vote. She had to sit in backs of buses
growing up. She couldn`t use a water fountain. Couldn`t stay in a hotel
we stayed in here last night.
When she passed, today we read a letter at her funeral to the family
from the president of the United States, who happened to be an African-
American. We`ve come a long way in 87 years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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