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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Read the transcript to the Wednesday show

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Guests: Alex Wagner, Chris Hayes, Richard Wolffe, Van Jones, Eugene O`Donnell, Charles M. Blow, Joy Behar


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Obama versus Romney is unofficially under
way. We`ll have the latest on the campaign.

And the latest developments in the killing of Trayvon Martin.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHRIS JANSING, NBC NEWS: Game on. A clean sweep for Mitt Romney.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A decisive victory in a three-state sweep.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The outcome is preordained. It`s been preordained
for a long time.

ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC HOST: Are we in the second half of the race?

RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It`s halftime. Who`s
ready to charge out of the locker room in Pennsylvania for a strong second
half?

WAGNER: Mitt Romney seems to think it`s game over.

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC ANCHOR: You want to play, big boy? Come on,
big boy, let`s play.

TAMRON HALL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Goalpost, locker room, halftime.

SCARBOROUGH: Game on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The game is on.

TAMRON: Is it over?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s Romney versus Obama.

MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The president came here
yesterday and railed against arguments no one is making.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s not a good climate to be Mitt Romney.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president has five times the staff, 10 times
the money.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He needs to at least have substance.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He`s got a lot going against him.

ROMNEY: Out of touch liberals like Barack Obama say they want a
strong economy.

JANSING: Mitt Romney calling the President Obama out of touch. Come
on, Mitt Romney, really?

ROMNEY: Out of touch liberals like Barack Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president`s out of touch?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you ask him what flavor of Kool-Aid he`s
drinking?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m shocked, shocked Republicans are upset at the
president.

ROMNEY: The president did not cause the economic crisis. But he did
make it worse.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We were sent here to
serve the American people and look out for their interests.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Vote for us, the government will take care of
you. Vote for the other guy, and you`re on your own.

WAGNER: I think Mitt Romney has a case of the yips.

ROMNEY: Corporations are people, my friend.

I like being able to fire people who provide services for me.

Ten thousand bucks, $10,000 bet?

ANN COULTER, CONSERVATIVE COMMENTATOR: If you don`t run, Chris
Christie, Romney will be the nominee and we`ll lose, we`ll lose, we`ll
lose.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Alex Wagner, host of MSNBC`s "NOW WITH
ALEX WAGNER," and Chris Hayes, the host of MSNBC`s "UP WITH CHRIS HAYES."

Well, the phrase of the day is "game on." They haven`t gone face to
face exactly, but they went back to back -- the president and Romney giving
speeches from the same microphone two days in a row.

Let`s start with a clip from how the president got this started. He
gave the first speech. Let`s listen to him on Medicare.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: But here`s the solution proposed by the Republicans in
Washington and embraced by most of their candidates for president --
instead of being enrolled in Medicare when they turn 65, seniors who retire
a decade from now would get a voucher. If health care costs rise faster
than the amount of the voucher as, by the way, they`ve been doing for
decades, that`s too bad. Seniors, bear the risk.

If the voucher isn`t enough to buy a private plan with the specific
doctors and care that you need, that`s too bad. It`s a bad idea, and it
will ultimately end Medicare as we know it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: All right. Hold it. Let`s give Mitt Romney a chance to
respond.

Twenty-four hours later, he steps up to the microphone, and this is
Mitt Romney`s reaction.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: The president came here yesterday and railed against
arguments no one is making, and criticized policies no one is proposing.
It`s one of his favorite strategies: setting up straw men to distract us
from his record.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes, you couldn`t even contain yourself. You
couldn`t even let Mitt Romney finish, you were starting to jump.

CHRIS HAYES, UP WITH CHRIS HAYES: OK, first of all, the gold medal of
straw men, if I may mix metaphors, is Mitt Romney himself who`s been
parading around the country telling people all sort of preposterous things
about what Barack Obama has said, done and believes.

For instance, I`m not going to apologize for the U.S. Well, there`s
no instance of the president actually apologizing for the U.S. So, he`s
been setting up straw men left and right.

Leave that aside -- the president`s description of the Ryan plan for
Medicare was -- you could find that in a "New York Times" article. I mean,
that was as accurate, except for the "it`s too bad your on your own" sort
of editorial flourish, that was -- all he was doing was describing
precisely the framework that the Republican Party has adopted to deal with
Medicare.

There was no straw man. There was not even any spin. That is
actually the substance of the policy they are proposing.

O`DONNELL: Alex, I feel an Etch-a-Sketch proposal.

WAGNER: Oh!

O`DONNELL: Because it feels like Romney is saying, look, when I`m
the nominee, I will tell you. I haven`t told you anything yet -- it seems
to be what he`s trying to say here.

WAGNER: Romney is filled with aluminum powder, Lawrence. The most
surprising thing to me about his embrace of the Paul Ryan plan is that he
embraced with any specifics as far as what was going to happen in terms
with policy. And I think the administration was -- not the administration,
but the Obama re-elect team was absolutely right to take a gigantic lasso
and wrap it around Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.

And I have to say, as someone who has watched them bungle over and
over and over again the messaging operation, the fact that they are
starting early and apparently going to go often I think is very reassuring
to a lot of Democrats who have watched the president get pilloried for no
reason at all.

O`DONNELL: I want to re-run the moment that everybody saw yesterday
where President Obama finally said the word "Romney." Let`s listen to the
naming names portion of the president`s speech.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: One of my potential opponents, Governor Romney, has said that
he hoped a similar version of this plan from last year would be introduced
as a bill on day one of his presidency. He said that he`s very supportive
of this new budget. And he even called it marvelous.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: So there`s the president calling out Romney. Romney shows
up today, and he says, hey, he`s accusing me of things I haven`t proposed.
And then Romney proposes raising the age for Social Security.

Let`s listen to what Romney said about that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: I`ll gradually raise the retirement age for Social Security
and reduce the rate of benefit growth for tomorrow`s higher-income seniors.
I`ll introduce market competition and consumer choice to Medicare while
also preserving traditional Medicare coverage as an option, so that future
seniors can get higher quality at lower cost.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Well, Chris, there you go. He`s not saying anything like
what President Obama said he`s saying.

HAYES: I find --

O`DONNELL: It doesn`t say the word "voucher" here.

HAYES: Exactly. Exactly.

O`DONNELL: It says Medicare.

HAYES: Market competition, right, exactly.

O`DONNELL: I don`t see "voucher."

HAYES: Well, the Republican relationship to Medicare particularly in
the last 10 years -- last two years, since 2010 and in the run-up to 2010
is fascinating because everybody always needs to remember the background
context for this is that the Republicans ran ads around the country in
every swing district in which their one-line critique of the Obama
administration, a one-line critique that Romney himself has used on the
stump was that it cut hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicare. That
was the one line -- $500 billion cut from Medicare, saying to seniors he`s
coming after you.

But of course they want to get rid of Medicare, right? And they need
to have their cake and eat it, too. They`re in this bizarre situation in
which they`re trapped between the demographic base of their party and their
ideological commitments. They want to, of course, get rid of Medicare
because they don`t believe in it, right? But, demographically, they can`t
tell the people that comprise their base that their ox is going to be
gored.

So they have to come up with all sorts of ways of essentially talking
around the issue or creating this two-tiered system in which they can say
to their base, don`t worry, you`re going to get good socialized medicine.
You people, we`re going to screw you.

O`DONNELL: Alex, this looks like what the campaign`s going to look
like.

WAGNER: Yes.

O`DONNELL: It`s going to be -- this guy`s going so stand up looking
presidential. He does look presidential, I`ll give Romney that. President
Obama is going to stand up being presidential.

And they`re going to have this contest back and forth. President
Obama`s going to say voucher. Mitt Romney`s going to say -- wait a second.
He`s going to say consumer choice -- market competition and consumer choice
to Medicare.

How`s this going to go?

WAGNER: It`s a once totally compelling and totally boring. You know,
I thought the language that the president was using yesterday, the social
Darwinism -- the fact that, you know, these platforms are totally
antithetical to American spirit of entrepreneurism was the sharpest to
date. The rest of the speech, though, was a lot of sort of "Professor
Obama".

And I think the big concern here is that the American public tunes
out. Number one, because Mitt Romney is -- you saw him today. It`s hard
to pay attention to him. There`s no -- there`s no cadence. There`s no
real sort of center to what he`s talking about.

The president obviously -- this is a fundamental argument about the
American social compact. There`s a lot of policy here.

I think the question for the White House is whether they can make a
convincing argument that is also sound bite-worthy. And that`s very
tricky.

HAYES: Although I do think we`ve seen two interesting things happen,
is that as the economy has started to get better, as the fundamentals of
the recovery look like a surer and surer bet come November, both sides have
gotten a little more ideological in the way they talk about it, right? So
Romney now has to make an ideological critique as opposed to a practical
one because he`s worried about just being able to point at the unemployment
and say, well, he`s done a bad job.

So he has to sort of weave in this broader critique of stifling
American entrepreneurism. The president, at the same time, can`t talk
about the recovery because all the polling shows, and the focus group
shows, when you tell people the economy is getting better, they recoil.

WAGNER: And if you look at long-term unemployment, it hasn`t budged.

HAYES: Right.

O`DONNELL: Let`s take a look -- this one poll I want to look at is
"USA Today"/Gallup poll showing this gap with women. It is really
extraordinary. They`re running overall, you know, reasonably close, Obama,
49, Romney, 45. Four points, which is the maximum that`s going to separate
them at the end.

But when you get to Obama with women support versus Romney with women
support, let`s put it up here on the big board, if we have it.

There`s President Obama at 54 percent with women. Romney at 36
percent. An 18-point gender gap.

And with men, they`re virtually tied.

So as I said the other night, that`s pretty much the end. You don`t
have to know anything else. If those numbers hold, that`s all you need to
know about the way this election is going to go.

WAGNER: Yes. And the thing about it is, Mitt Romney, I don`t think
anybody thinks of Romney as a particularly strident anti-feminist, but he`s
being greatly aided by his party at what`s happening at the state level.
The Republican-held statehouses that are pushing if not actually passing
draconian pieces of legislation that`s really intended to shame and
intimidate women.

O`DONNELL: Well, Chris, the Republican Party offers their candidates
this year the chance to either overtly screamingly be anti-feminist or take
a stand against what the party is doing. And if you don`t take that stand,
you might as well be with them on all that stuff.

HAYES: You know, what`s interesting is it strikes me there is an
amazing opportunity for Romney if he wants to have his Etch-a-Sketch moment
in the general election to stand up and condemn some state legislator, even
go to the state, right? Find some state that`s passed the most heinous
version of this bill, go give a speech there, and say, this is wrong. This
is not what we`re about. I mean, that, I think, would be smart political
strategy because he has to separate himself from this.

And the fact of the matter is Republicans cannot win if they have the
kind of gender gap that we saw in 2008 which this polling essentially is in
line with.

O`DONNELL: Romney will get my whole hour if he does that in this
campaign.

Alex Wagner of "NOW" and Chris Hayes of "UP" -- thank you both for
joining me tonight.

WAGNER: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up: The president versus the courts. The battle is
really getting out of control. A federal judge in Louisiana is ordering
the Justice Department to do homework exercises based on things President
Obama says in his speeches. Van Jones and Richard Wolffe will join me.

And later, what that new attorney for George Zimmerman has to work
with. Charles Blow and I will summarize the case as it stands tonight in
the killing of Trayvon Martin.

And in the "Rewrite," Joe Scarborough rewrites every Republican
surrogate for Mitt Romney simply by telling the truth.

And Joy Behar is here to discuss one of her favorite subjects, Sarah
Palin.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: The killer of Trayvon Martin has a new lawyer tonight.
Charles Blow and I will examine exactly what evidence that lawyer has to
work with.

And President Obama is apparently driving federal judges crazy because
one of them said something truly crazy about the president yesterday from
the bench in an official proceeding. That`s coming up.

And Joe Scarborough rips the facade off all of the Republican
supporters of Mitt Romney. That`s in tonight`s "Rewrite."

And Joy Behar will be here to talk about Sarah Palin.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: The battle between the president and the courts is getting
hotter. First, the president said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Ultimately, I`m confident that the Supreme Court will not take
what would be an unprecedented extraordinary step of overturning a law that
was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress. And
I`d just remind conservative commentators that four years what we`ve heard
is the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism or a lack of
judicial restraint that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn
a duly constituted and passed law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And so yesterday, something very strange happened when the
Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals was considering one provision of the
president`s health care bill involving physician ownership of hospitals. A
judge you`ve never heard of, Judge Jerry Smith, said this to the Justice
Department attorney defending the health care law provision.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

JUDGE JERRY SMITH, FIFTH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS: Let me ask you
just something a little bit more basic. Does the Department of Justice
recognize that federal courts have the authority in appropriate
circumstances to strike federal statutes because of one or more
constitutional infirmities?

DOJ ATTORNEY: Yes, Your Honor. Of course, there would need to be a
severability analysis, but yes.

SMITH: I`m referring to statements by the president in the past few
days to the effect -- and I`m sure you`ve heard about them -- that it is
somehow inappropriate for what he termed "unelected" judges to strike acts
of Congress that have enjoyed -- and he was referring, of course, to
Obamacare -- to what he termed a broad consensus in majorities in both
houses of Congress.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Yes wasn`t enough to satisfy Judge Smith. So, he ordered
the government lawyer to do an unbelievably weird homework assignment.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

SMITH: I would like to have from you by noon on Thursday -- that`s
about 48 hours from now -- a letter stating what is the position of the
attorney general and the Department of Justice, in regard to the recent
statements by the president, stating specifically and in detail in
reference to those statements what the authority is of the federal courts
in this regard in terms of judicial review.

That letter needs to be at least three pages single spaced, no less,
and it needs to be specific.

It needs to make specific reference to the president`s statements and
again to the position of the attorney general and the Department of
Justice.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now on just how crazy things are getting
between the president and the courts are Van Jones, president and co-
founder and author of "Rebuild the Dream." And Richard Wolffe, MSNBC
political analyst, author of the book "Revival: The Struggle for Revival
Inside the Obama White House."

Van, your teleprompter introduction was a little bit weird. So you
are the president and co-founder of Rebuild the Dream?

VAN JONES, REBUILD THE DREAM: Yes, I am.

O`DONNELL: Which is also the title of your book.

JONES: Exactly.

O`DONNELL: That`s what threw me. All right, good. We`re finished
with the book promo.

JONES: Very good.

O`DONNELL: So a homework assignment, high school stuff, three pages,
single typed, Thursday at noontime. What?

JONES: Look, this is -- it`s ridiculous. First of all, if there is a
threat to the dignity of the courts, it`s not coming from the president.
It`s coming from stupid stunts like this.

And the worst part about it is, the president`s exactly right. This
is another example of conservatives just making up stuff to be mad about.
The conservatives have been the ones saying. we don`t like judicial
activism. The president says we don`t like judicial activism. They go oh,
my God, he`s trying to overthrow the government!

Same thing with health care. The conservatives say, we don`t like
single payer. We don`t like public option. We want individual
responsibility.

The president says, OK, here`s a mandate. Oh, my God! We hate it!
It`s socialism!

Same with energy. The conservatives say we don`t want a carbon tax.
We want more of market-based mechanism, like cap and trade. The president
said, look, here`s cap and trade. Oh, my God! It`s awful!

So whatever this president does, even if it`s their own ideas, they
will go crazy. They`ll go nuts.

And now, not just the wing nut crowd in the streets, on the bench. On
the bench --

O`DONNELL: Amazing.

JONES: -- we have crazy behavior.

My view about this is, you know, the president has clarified this.
The poor government lawyer clarified this. To be spanked like this, you
have to write out, I love Marbury versus Madison 50 times I think is an
abuse of discretion on the part of this judge, and I think the Department
of Justice should stand up to this judge.

O`DONNELL: Well, the Department of Justice has actually said they`re
going to comply in a way they think is appropriate. So, we`ll find out
what that is.

Richard Wolffe, it sounded to me for a bit like this judge was looking
for a talk radio hosting job.

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.

O`DONNELL: It was an amazing -- in fact, and you know what? Why
don`t you hold it? Let`s listen to Rush Limbaugh`s reaction to all this.

WOLFFE: Why not?

O`DONNELL: Let`s see what he thinks of this judge`s audition to be a
talk radio host. We`ll listen to that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: In my view, this judge is very
brave. The one is going to look at this as insolence. Obama is going to
look -- how dare he? How dare he challenge me publicly like this? How
dare he embarrass me? How dare this judge lift his hand up to me?

That`s going to be the reaction. This judge has now made himself a
target of the regime.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: This judge is not ready to be a guest host of "The Rush
Limbaugh Show," Richard.

WOLFFE: Right. When a coward like Limbaugh calls you brave, can you
really take it to the bank, right?

You know, obviously, this judge -- you know, the giveaway for the
judge was that he used the word "Obamacare."

O`DONNELL: Yes.

WOLFFE: This is a court proceeding about the Affordable Care Act, and
he calls it Obamacare? So he`s already repeating right-wing jargon,
slogans, talking points right there. And let`s just try for a second to
adopt the Republican and conservative mantra which is that they have some
kind of ideological consistency, some kind of rigor of thought. If you are
a judge and you believe in these principles and you think it is wrong to
interfere with judicial independence, go give a speech to the Federalist
Society.

As, in fact, President Bush did, railing against judicial activism in
2007. You give a speech outside of a court proceeding, you do not inject
politics into a proceeding.

And if this had been done by a lower court judge, a federal judge at
the lower level, then the court of appeals would have said, you`re in no
position to judge this thing. The fact that it`s the court of appeals, of
course, who are you going to appeal to? Of course, our friends in the
Supreme Court.

O`DONNELL: Yes. It is extraordinary to be, in effect, talking back
to political speech, Van, instead of legal speech, nothing said in the
courtroom that the judge was addressing.

And look, the president was on a stretch there. Of course, the
Supreme Court can overturn this. They overturned the line item veto which
passed the Senate with 69 votes. This thing passed with one vote.

The president says incorrectly that it had a strong majority. It did
not. But that`s just political rhetoric. It doesn`t belong in a
courtroom.

JONES: Well, it could have been a totally different matter if, in
fact, a briefing had been filed, challenging Marbury versus Madison or
something like that. Of course, you say, hold on a second.

But to reach over into the public political sphere and pull out maybe
a little bit of rhetorical on the part of the president and make that
central to a judicial hearing, maybe without precedent. I mean, part of
the thing that strikes me as very disturbing is that the people who claim
to be the defenders of American tradition are increasingly the violators of
American tradition. They say they love America, and they`re the big
patriots, and yet they are now trying to -- look at the Paul Ryan budget.
It would smash down every American institution that made our country great
from Medicare all the way down the line.

And so I think we`re going to have to have a debate here -- cheap
patriotism versus deep patriotism, actual respect for our institutions, for
what our parents and grandparents fought for, from civil rights to women`s
rights, to the environment, to labor union rights -- those are the pillars
that we built the great country with.

We are going to have to at some point come to a decision about whether
or not that is America`s great heritage, and those who attack it are
opposing America or whether somehow for 100 years we made a mistake. The
American century was a mistake, the American middle class was a mistake,
the American way was a mistake, and we`re going to go back to some
mythical, you know, wild, Wild West of social Darwinism which, in fact, did
not ever exist and did not make us the great nation that we are.

O`DONNELL: Richard Wolffe, whenever we`ve had what some voters might
think of as a boring election -- presidential election, I always remind
them that the Supreme Court is always at stake. If there`s nothing else
you can think of, any other reason you can think of for voting, think about
who this person`s going to appoint to the federal courts.

The judge we heard from in this was appointed by Ronald Reagan. And
so, does this help the president, highlight the stakes involved in judicial
appointments in this presidential election?

WOLFFE: Well, it does, and there`s a parallel here, I think, with the
birth control issue which is that, look, I think it was actually a mistake
for the president to engage in this at this point. There would be a time
for him to get into the fray on this with the Supreme Court after they make
their ruling. He could have put any number of surrogates out there at this
point to frame the argument for conservative pundits if he wanted to do so.

But the mistake that he made has opened up a bigger issue for
Republicans, and that is very, very fertile ground for Democrats.

O`DONNELL: Van Jones and Richard Wolffe -- thank you both for joining
me tonight.

JONES: Thank you.

WOLFFE: Thanks.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Joy Behar is here, and she has a few things to
say about Sarah Palin.

And Joe Scarborough is in "The Rewrite" tonight, telling us the truth
about what Republicans are privately saying about Mitt Romney.

And next, the killer of Trayvon Martin has a new lawyer, and Charles
M. Blow, and Eugene O`Donnell will join me to review the case file George
Zimmerman`s new lawyer is studying tonight.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: There are now precious few Republicans willing to be even
just a little bit honest about Mitt Romney`s chances in November. The one
who was brutally, completely, like totally honest today gets tonight`s
Rewrite. And a little hint, you already know what he said if you were
watching MSNBC this morning, long before I woke up.

And Joy Behar joins me later. We`ll find out what she`s thinking
these days about Sarah Palin.

And next, the new lawyer in the killing of Trayvon Martin is busy
trying to get up to speed tonight. Charles Blow and I will help him, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOE OLIVER, "FRIEND" OF GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: But my relationship with
George is more of an older uncle. I`m old enough to be his father. I
wouldn`t be here -- I would not be risking myself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How do you know that in your heart? How do you
know that in your heart --

OLIVER: Have you ever had a gut feeling? Have you ever had a gut
feeling?

O`DONNELL: You`ve said for you the entire thing, your entire view
comes down to a gut feeling. That`s all it is. OK. And I`m glad you
clarified that.

OLIVER: Not just a gut feeling.

O`DONNELL: Joe --

(CROSS TALK)

OLIVER: I`ve asked questions. Can you ask 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 have had what I have been told validated.

I`ll agree with you, my role in this, I agree, just doesn`t make
sense.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: We obviously had some lighting problems during that
interview. And the man who killed Trayvon Martin has a new lawyer today.
And the defense team`s first order of business was to get rid of Joe
Oliver. Joe Oliver, the man you just saw, who has been making the media
rounds presenting himself as a friend of George Zimmerman, and was
generally getting softball interviews until he appeared on this show --
when he was here, he insisted that he wasn`t being paid.

But he told NBC News today that he would no longer be the Zimmerman
family media adviser. Today, two agents for the State Special Prosecutor`s
Office canvassed the area where Trayvon was shot and interviewed residents.

The new lawyer on the case, Hal Uhrig, is an experienced defense
attorney and an experienced TV talker. He did a lot of local television
legal analysis of the Casey Anthony trial in Florida. He is also a former
police officer and a former prosecutor.

The file that he is opening today in defense of George Zimmerman has
some serious problems in it. Here to summarize the case as it stands
tonight are Eugene O`Donnell, a former New York City police officer and
prosecutor, and Charles M. Blow, editorial writer for "the New York Times."

Thank you both for joining me tonight. I just want to summarize what
I think this lawyer`s looking at in his file tonight. And Eugene, one
procedural point I want to start with quickly that predates the shooting,
which is George Zimmerman`s arrest record.

He got arrested once for battery against a police officer. His
fiancee got a restraining order against him. Would any of that be
admissible in a criminal trial?

EUGENE O`DONNELL, FORMER NYC POLICE OFFICER AND PROSECUTOR:
Prosecutors are obviously, if they decide to move here -- are going to look
for all of that to see whether it can be used. So it`s going to very much
depend on the specifics, not only, by the way, things that were charged
criminally, but also the idea that he made these calls, these prior calls,
these 50 calls he made.

So evidence of his state of mind and prior bad acts and things that he
did, whether they were proven criminally or not, prosecutors are going to
seek to introduce them to lay a foundation for understanding who he is.

O`DONNELL: OK. So the lawyer starts his file with the 911 call made
by George Zimmerman as he`s following Trayvon Martin. Let`s listen to a
piece of that that has a problem in it for Zimmerman.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you following him?

GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, ACCUSED KILLER OF TRAYVON MARTIN: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, we don`t need you to do that.

ZIMMERMAN: OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: OK, there`s problem number one, Charles, in the 911 call.

CHARLES M. BLOW, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Right. That`s only one of the
problems in the 911 call, because what you have to figure out is, number
one, what is the nature of the suspicion? Why is it that Trayvon Martin,
who is -- this is not his first time to that subdivision. He had been
there several times with his father before.

What is it about Trayvon Martin that night that draws George
Zimmerman`s attention? Number two --

O`DONNELL: Which is the only thing stated, black.

BLOW: Well, right. He says he looks like he may be on drugs. He may
be wandering around.

O`DONNELL: As people will say, it looks like he`s carrying a weapon.
It looks -- and this is a 20 percent black community.

BLOW: Right.

O`DONNELL: It`s not like this is some rarity.

BLOW: Right, right. So you have that establishing the motive. What
is the threat response that`s activated in George Zimmerman that says that
this person, this young man, who he knows is a teenager. He says in the
beginning of the 911 tape -- they ask him about how old he is. He says he
looks like he`s in his late teens.

He knows he`s a young person. He knows he has on a hooded sweatshirt.
And that is -- he -- they ask him about race. He identifies what he
believes is race. That`s pretty much all we know.

So what is it about that that makes George Zimmerman exit the truck,
knowing that he has a gun on him, and follow Trayvon Martin?

O`DONNELL: I would say there`s a jury credibility issue moment in
there where the police -- the dispatcher says to him, are you following
him? Yes. We don`t need you to do that. Zimmerman`s response is "OK,"
which anyone on the other end of the phone believes, OK, I`m not going to
do that.

He then goes on to do it. There`s also upcoming in the 911 call this
racial slur. Let`s just play that very quickly.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZIMMERMAN: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) coon (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you following him?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, we don`t need you to do that.

ZIMMERMAN: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) coon (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you following him?

ZIMMERMAN: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, we don`t need you to do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Everyone -- not everyone -- a lot of people listening to
that think they hear a racial slur. That is a problem as you go through
this file.

The -- let`s put these issues up on the big board here. The problems
in this file, number one, is that there`s that 911 call from Zimmerman
where he ends up, in effect, testifying against him in certain ways.

You then go to, sequentially, Trayvon Martin`s girlfriend says she`s
on the phone with him. And she`s got phone records to prove she`s on the
phone with him. And he is telling her, there`s somebody following me.

The next thing in the sequence here is a 911 call where we hear
someone screaming for help. Let`s listen to that call.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think they`re yelling "help," but I don`t
know. Send someone quick.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does he look hurt to you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can`t see him. I don`t want to go out there.
I don`t know what`s going on. They`re sending.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you think he`s yelling "help"?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is your phone number?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There`s gunshots.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You just heard gunshots?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How many?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just one.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And it turns out the most important evidence provided in
that call is not from the person making the call, but from the person who
is screaming in the background. And number four in your file, you discover
tonight that audio experts who have analyzed it have said that is not
George Zimmerman`s voice.

And Charles, this is key to George Zimmerman`s story. He says that
was me. I was crying for help.

BLOW: Exactly. And so if you can establish that it is not George
Zimmerman`s voice on that tape, the only other person that we know of that
is outside in that altercation is Trayvon Martin. So then you have to say,
why would a person who is attacking and, as George Zimmerman`s family has
said, punching George Zimmerman in the face, slamming his head into the
concrete -- why would that person who is on top winning a fight, screaming
for help in what sounds like screaming for his life?

It doesn`t add up, if it is as the audio experts say.

O`DONNELL: And there`s more. Let`s go to the next item. We have
another list of items in this file. There`s an eyewitness account that was
picked up by CNN last week. And I think we may have a clip of that that we
can run right now.

We don`t have the clip. But that man told CNN that what he was
looking at in the dark, he couldn`t tell who was who. But as soon as the
screaming stopped, it seemed like the person on top in this altercation,
the person on top instantly got up. That would contradict George
Zimmerman`s account.

He says he was on the bottom when he had to shoot Trayvon Martin.

Then you have the police report. The next stage is we get him down to
the police station. But on the site, they have a police report saying he
had a bloody nose, cuts on the back of his head. Then you go to the
Sanford Police Department video of George Zimmerman appearing -- I think we
have some of that video to roll now of George Zimmerman appearing at the
police station.

And you don`t see any evidence of a bloody nose. You don`t see cuts
on the back of the head. And very, very importantly, Eugene O`Donnell, you
don`t see any kind of blood splatter. and you would think, with a chest
wound, a bullet chest wound against Trayvon Martin, whose body is supposed
to be on top of yours -- you would think that George Zimmerman would be
covered in Trayvon Martin`s blood.

E. O`DONNELL: Right. The whole idea is the totality of the evidence.
And when you start adding the evidence together, what you`re seeing is that
the control, who precipitated the events? As you lay the evidence
together, you`re seeing that there`s much less of a case that Mr. Zimmerman
-- Mr. Zimmerman was not the controller of the events, that Trayvon Martin
was stalked, was essentially isolated by this man, and that in the light
most favorable to the suspect, there would be only a few seconds where
Trayvon Martin had a chance to act.

All of the actions leading up to precipitating this act, the evidence
shows so far, at least, that they were at the hands of George Zimmerman.

O`DONNELL: And then, Charles Blow, as you`re kind of rounding out
what you can know as Zimmerman`s attorney tonight putting this file
together, well, what does homicide say about it? It turns out that what
you can gather so far is that the lead homicide detective on this believed
he had a manslaughter case on his hands.

BLOW: Right. They did not believe George Zimmerman. The lead
homicide detective did not believe George Zimmerman`s story was credible.
And that, I think, will be crucial if a charge is ever brought and this
goes to trial. That -- his opinion and what made them not charge George
Zimmerman?

What -- in consultation with Bill Lee and the state attorney, what was
that conversation? And is there any documentation of that conversation?
And how was that decision swayed?

E. O`DONNELL: Really, what was there other than his word that would
make them have a doubt in? And it was detailed by the police as though
there was some sort of rich layer of evidence. But it really was only his
word as far as we can tell.

O`DONNELL: And Zimmerman`s first lawyer was asked about any medical
records. Do you have anything to show us? Any documentation of treating
these injuries? And he just wouldn`t answer the question. And if you had
a hospital record from the next day or from any time period even close to
this, you`d say, yeah, we have this.

E. O`DONNELL: And the truth is that a person who righteously uses
deadly force on somebody, they don`t have to misrepresent. They don`t have
to embellish. The tell the story the way it is. They tell it straight up.
It`s when you catch people in falsehoods or embellishments that red flags
go up.

O`DONNELL: Charles, there`s so many -- I mean, I tried to get the
basic things that we`re looking at. It seems to me that the only thing the
lawyer can be happy about when he looks in the file is just this little
section of a police report that says, oh, bloody nose and cut on the back
of the head.

BLOW: Right. And even there, you have to look at the severity of
those injuries, if they, in fact, do exist. Because you have to figure
out, is this a situation where George Zimmerman could, as a -- a reasonable
person would believe that could have extricated himself from that situation
with physical force or was lethal force required for you to extricate
yourself from that situation?

And that will I think, in some way, hinge on how severe the injuries
are.

O`DONNELL: And just quickly, if you`ve goat a little scrape on the
back of your head, did you get that tonight or yesterday? How did that
happen. It could have happened anyway.

Eugene O`Donnell, former New York City police officer and prosecutor,
and Charles M. Blow, editorial writer for "the New York Times." thank you
both for very much joining me tonight.

E. O`DONNELL: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Joe Scarborough is in the Rewrite tonight. And
he got in the Rewrite by telling the truth, a truth that no other
Republican wants you to know.

And Joy Behar is here with a few things to say about Sarah Palin.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Tonight, MSNBC`s Joe Scarborough Rewrites everything that
every prominent pro-Romney Republican is saying on TV these days about Mitt
Romney.

Joe, as most of you of course know, is a former Republican congressman
from Florida who has a -- who has much better access to what the
Republicans are really thinking than any of the rest of us here at MSNBC.

This morning on "MORNING JOE," he directed the discussion to why Rick
Santorum should get out of the race in order to avoid a possible crushing
defeat in Pennsylvania and preserve his viability as a candidate in 2016.
Mark Halperin then smartly made the point that if Romney wins the
presidency, there will be no possibility for Santorum to run in 2016.

And that`s when Joe revealed why he and other Republicans are talking
so seriously about 2016 right now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK HALPERIN, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Santorum in `16, I think
there are two caveats to that. One is if Romney wins, there is no `16. Or
three caveats. If Romney wins, there`s no `16. Two, `16 has got a lot of
powerful people running in the Republican party.

JOE SCARBOROUGH, MSNBC ANCHOR: Nobody thinks Romney`s going to win.
Let`s just be honest. Can we just say this for anybody at everybody?

(CROSS TALK)

SCARBOROUGH: Can we just say this for everybody at home?

HALPERIN: He might.

SCARBOROUGH: The Republican establishment -- I have yet to meet a
single person in the Republican establishment that thinks Mitt Romney is
going to win the general election this year. They won`t say it on TV
because they`ve got to go on TV and they don`t want people writing them
nasty e-mails. I obviously don`t care.

But I have yet to meet anybody in the Republican establishment, that
worked for George W. Bush, that works in the Republican Congress, that
worked for Ronald Reagan that thinks Mitt Romney is going to win the
general election.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joy Behar is going to be here next. And I am going to
push her and push her and push her until she tells me how she really feels
about Sarah Palin.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Who should Mitt Romney pick for his vice presidential slot
on the Republican ticket? Hey, let`s ask the most recent losing vice
presidential candidate who will never be president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH PALIN, FORMER GOVERNOR OF ALASKA: Top of my list is Allen West.
I love that he has that military experience. He is a public servant
willing to serve for the right reasons.

When I talk about going rogue, what I want to do is encourage the GOP
nominee to not think that they have to go with somebody necessarily safe,
that conventional wisdom perhaps would lead somebody to believe that if
it`s somebody quote, unquote, safe.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Well, right, yeah. Why would you ever go with somebody
safe like Joe Biden? Who would do that when there`s Palins out there? And
really wacky Republican congressman like Allen West?

Joining me now, the always unsafe Joy Behar, cohost of "The View" on
ABC. Joy, there we have the advice of an actual former losing vice
presidential candidate.

JOY BEHAR, "THE VIEW": Shouldn`t she be turning letters somewhere on
some game show at this point? Why is she still involved in the
conversation politically?

O`DONNELL: Involved? It was Palin mania this week in New York. Come
on, co-hosting or guesting "The Today Show."

BEHAR: That was interesting, that she was on "The Today Show." She
was opposite Katie Couric, her nemesis. And I think that she beat Katie in
the ratings, so she must be so happy. She have charisma, I`ll give you
that.

O`DONNELL: I want to just remind you, Mr. Matt Lauer was on "The
Today Show," too. And he`s been known to beat the "Good Morning America"
show without Sarah Palin.

BEHAR: Yes, but I think that they were hoping to get --

O`DONNELL: I`m a company man, you see. I`m going to give the credit
to Mr. Matt Lauer.

BEHAR: No, but I`m going to give her credit for this, because even
though I can`t stand her politics, she has charisma. Give it to her.

O`DONNELL: Yeah, she does.

BEHAR: Give it to her. But to ask her who she cares about? Who
cares what she thinks at this point?

(CROSS TALK)

BEHAR: And anyway, you know who I think they should put as vice
presidential? I have two ideas. One is Trump, because then the two -- he
and Romney can say, you`re fired.

And then the other one, what about the Dog Whisperer? Isn`t this good
to like, mitigate all the attacks on Romney about the dog on top of the
car?

O`DONNELL: Oh, there you go.

BEHAR: Huh? And you get the Hispanic vote because it`s Cesar Milan.
It`s two for one. It`s fabulous.

O`DONNELL: You`re thinking this through. Ms. Palin suggesting that
they should go with an unsafe choice.

BEHAR: I know.

O`DONNELL: It`s just -- and John McCain, on one of the morning shows
today, saying why don`t they pick Sarah Palin? Why not make the craziest
mistake ever made again?

BEHAR: But, you know what? I think that John McCain really must hate
Romney. Because why would you make that suggestion? He must really --
they say that Pataki and all the rest of them, Jeb Bush give Luke warm kind
of endorsements. I think it`s real hatred.

O`DONNELL: Yes, well, we have Joe Scarborough saying that look, they
all think he`s going to lose. Those real big Republican players all think
Obama gets a second term.

BEHAR: Well, because of the horrible stupid things that Romney has
been saying. We don`t know who he is. I mean, he said that the -- his
health care plan in Massachusetts -- years ago, he said that it should be
national. These are all going to come out in all the ads, and everybody --
even people who don`t pay attention to MSNBC like I do will realize that
he`s a loser.

O`DONNELL: I take it it`s no surprise to you and the women of "The
View" --

BEHAR: Yes.

O`DONNELL: -- that there is now an 18-point gap in polling with
women, that President Obama is 18 points ahead of Mitt Romney with women.

BEHAR: I know. Well, we had, you know, Governor Nikki Haley on "The
View" the other day. She said a very interesting remark, "women are not
interested in contraception," she said.

O`DONNELL: You didn`t let her get away with that.

BEHAR: I did not. Are you showing the clip?

O`DONNELL: Show the clip. That`s a good cue.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. NIKKI HALEY (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Women don`t care about
contraception. They care about jobs and the economy and raising their
families and all of those things.

BEHAR: We should care about contraception, too.

HALEY: That`s not the only thing they care about. The media wants to
talk about contraception.

BEHAR: But when somebody like Rick Santorum says he`s going to take
it away, we care.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: It would have been really easy for her to say women care
about contraception, but they also care about -- instead, she begins it by
saying they don`t care about contraception.

BEHAR: I mean, that just shows you she`s not thinking. I don`t know
where her head is at. But I mean, the only women who don`t care about
contraception are Mrs. Duggar and the Octo-Mom. Everybody else cares about
contraception, OK? Including all the Catholic women I grew up with.

O`DONNELL: There are some men I know who care about contraception.

BEHAR: Of course they do. And they should. They`re getting Viagra
on their insurance plan. I don`t think people understand that in order to
have a baby, you need to have a man with an erection, usually.

O`DONNELL: Oh.

BEHAR: Did you know that?

O`DONNELL: Oh, OK.

BEHAR: I mean, turkey basters aside, you still need the usual thing,
which they now are covering.

O`DONNELL: Erections, turkey basters, who else could it be here with
us but Joy Behar? Joy Behar gets THE LAST WORD tonight. Joy, thank you
very much.

BEHAR: Thanks for having me.

O`DONNELL: You can have THE LAST WORD online at our blog,
TheLastWord.MSNBC.com. You can follow my Tweets @Lawrence. "THE ED SHOW"
is up next.

END

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