'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Read the transcript to the Wednesday show
Guests: Mark O`Mara, Natalie Jackson, Kendall Coffey, Jeff Triplett, Mitch
Stone, Joy-Ann Reid, Mark Thompson, Charles M. Blow
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: The state versus George Zimmerman. Count
one, murder in the second-degree in the name and by authority of the state
of Florida, Angela b. Corey, state attorney, charges that in the county of
Seminole, state of Florida.
On February 26th, 2012, George Zimmerman unlawfully and dangerous to
another and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life although
without any premeditated design to effect the death of any particular
individual, did kill Trayvon Martin, a human being under the age of 18, by
shooting the said victim and during the commission of the aforementioned
second-degree murder, the said, George Zimmerman, did carry, display, use,
threaten to use, or attempt to use a firearm and did actually possess and
discharge a firearm. As a result of the discharge, death was inflicted
upon a person contrary to the provisions of Florida statutes.
Angela B. Corey, state attorney.
George Zimmerman is now in the -- in custody at Seminole County jail.
This is his new mug shot as he appeared tonight. He arrived at the jail
just an hour ago, and a half hour -- an hour and a half ago wearing a blue
and plaid shirt and what appears to be a shirt over his head, covering his
Special Prosecutor Angela Corey began her at 6:00 p.m. on the dot.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGELA COREY, SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: Today, we filed an information
charging George Zimmerman with murder in the second-degree. A capias has
been issued for his arrest. Mr. Zimmerman turned himself in, and by
turning himself in, was arrested on the capias that had already been
I think that after meeting with Trayvon`s parents that first Monday
night after getting appointed in the case, Bernie was there, John was
there, our prosecution team was there. The first thing we did was pray
with them. We opened our meeting in prayer. Mr. Crump and Mr. Parks were
We did not promise them anything.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: The special prosecutor`s press conference was immediately
followed by a press conference led by the Reverend Al Sharpton who was
joined by the parents of Trayvon Martin and their lawyers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Prosecutor and I think that the governor
did not make a decision based on public pressure, but I think they decided
to review based on public pressure. I think that they would not be
responsible enough to proceed with the prosecution based on pressure but,
had there not been pressure, there would not have been a second look.
SYBRINA FULTON, TRAYVON MARTIN`S MOTHER: We simply wanted an arrest.
We wanted nothing more, nothing less. We just wanted an arrest and we got
And I say thank you. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Jesus.
TRACY MARTIN, TRAYVON MARTIN`S FATHER: I`d like to thank everyone
once again for being compassionate about this as we were.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And there is a new lawyer in town. Finally, George
Zimmerman is being represented by a professional. Attorney Mark O`Mara
held the first sensible press conference on the Zimmerman side of this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK O`MARA, GEORGE ZIMMERMAN`S LAWYER: He`s been charged, he`s been
arrested, he`s a criminal defendant now who will let the process work. Do
not -- let`s not prejudge anyone any longer. Let`s just let the process
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now is the new attorney for George Zimmerman,
Mark, thank you for joining us tonight. I really appreciate it. I
know you`re in a hurry.
O`MARA: Sure thing. Good evening.
O`DONNELL: And, Mark, I want to talk to you about the way the case
has proceeded in the media from the Zimmerman side so far. There was Joe
Oliver who was appearing as a spokesman apparently for George Zimmerman.
There were eventually two lawyers who appearing on television as basically
trying the case on television.
I noticed today you took a very different approach. You said that
you would not be commenting on the evidence at all, which is the
professional approach in a situation like this.
Do you think the Zimmerman case has been in any way damaged by the
way the previous lawyers kept coming on television and boldly asserting
claims of evidence as if they were in position of that knowledge
O`MARA: If I had any frustration at all, it was the fact that anyone
who puts out evidence in a piecemeal fashion does damage to the case. But
more importantly in a case of this nature can really sort of inflame some
of the emotions that already exist and for no benefit. You know, it`s like
handing out a few pieces of a puzzle and you don`t get a full picture and
it just causes more frustration.
O`DONNELL: I was especially struck when George Zimmerman`s father
went on local television in Florida and added evidence to the case when he
said he added the dialogue assigning it to Trayvon Martin saying to George
Zimmerman, "You`re going to die now." And it seemed to me that that would
have appeared in a police report because if dialogue like that occurred at
the scene, George Zimmerman surely would have reported it to the police.
O`MARA: Well, to sort of how I followed up on it earlier, any
comment on the evidence, whether it was presented from a family member, or
from a law enforcement member , or from an attorney I really think is sort
of inappropriate and it`s just going to lead to more frustration and
confusions. So, I`d rather not discuss what may have been said about the
case should truly be tried in a courtroom.
O`DONNELL: Mark, I have to tell you, I`m in the business of asking
questions and trying to get answers. But I appreciate the answer you just
gave me fully. It is obviously the correct, professional, lawyerly answer
to any evidentiary-based question. And I know for this audience and for
all the television audience out there today, it`s a dramatic change to hear
a lawyer on the Zimmerman side of this case speaking that way and that
I do want to ask you about one other thing that is not an evidentiary
point. It was something that Robert Zimmerman, George Zimmerman`s father,
said in that same interview and I`m going to quote him now. In what
happened after the fact of this incident, he said, quoting, "I never
foresaw so much hate coming from the president."
Have you seen any hate coming from the president in regards to this
case towards anyone?
O`MARA: I watched it like most people. I saw some of the comments
that were made by a lot of people, including President Obama. You know, I
-- my opinion doesn`t matter but I didn`t feel hatred at all.
I think what`s happened is whenever you have a wound like this and
I`m sure Mr. Zimmerman senior, his wound is that he has a son going
through, what George is going through, that anything can be reinterpreted
or misinterpreted or just looked at from a parent`s perspective, just like
Trayvon`s family when they are dealing with everything that they are
dealing with, any little piece or failure piece of information has got to
have an enormous stinging and frustration effect on them.
But they are the parents involved. They are allowed their emotions.
O`DONNELL: And, Mark, when do you expect to have your first meeting
with your client?
O`MARA: Twenty-five to 30 minutes from now.
O`DONNELL: You`re going from this interview straight to where he`s
O`MARA: That`s the plan.
O`DONNELL: And you will be --
O`MARA: Don`t follow me however, please.
O`DONNELL: Mark, your life has changed today and I think you know it
and I imagine your family knows it, too. Did you have to have a discussion
about whether you would take on a burden like this and it is an enormous
burden for an attorney like this.
O`MARA: Absolutely. That was the first phone call that I made, to
sort of discuss that, because it`s certainly going to be an enormous
undertaking and it`s going to be in effect life changing because it`s such
a focused case in the media. Then, of course, I had talk to my staff
because it`s going to impact the workload here, on an already fairly busy
And then I talked to myself for a little while, just to realize that,
you know, this is a type of case that I have grown with, doing this for 30
years, this is the type case -- the type case that has a lot of these
issues involved, not just pretrial publicity but a statute that has, you
know, its effect. A real question about a lot of evidence out there that
needs to be looked into.
So I just wanted to make sure that I was up for the task as well
because I know that everything we do is going to be scrutinized.
O`DONNELL: Mark, have you used the "Stand Your Ground" law as a
defense in a case before?
O`MARA: In doing this for 30 years, the self-defense argument comes
up many, many times in murder cases and even non-murder cases, and I`ve had
many murder cases and several death penalty cases. I have had cases since
the statute but we`ve been sort of able to work through them.
So if the question is, have I ever tried a "Stand Your Ground" case
to a jury? No.
O`DONNELL: So you worked through a case like that to a plea bargain
is what I seem to be hearing?
O`MARA: Yes, it got resolved.
O`DONNELL: I understand. Mark O`Mara, thank you very much for
joining us tonight on this day that is absolutely going to change your
life. I really appreciate you giving us the time.
And I just want to say one other thing before you go, I saw your
first national television interview tonight which was with Brian Williams
and the very first thing you said was you wanted to extend your condolences
to Trayvon Martin`s family, and I am sure that the country was very
appreciative to hear you say that across the aisle of this case to that
O`MARA: Sure. They -- it was horrible what they now have to live
through. However it occurred, it`s extraordinarily sad. You should never
lose a child for any reason.
O`DONNELL: Mark O`Mara, we are all glad you`re on the case. We want
to see this conducted professionally. Thank you very much for joining us
O`MARA: Sure thing. Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Natalie Johnson, co-counsel for Trayvon
Natalie, do you know or does any of your family know Mark O`Mara?
Have you tried cases with Mark O`Mara or against Mark O`Mara?
NATALIE JACKSON, MARTIN FAMILY LAWYER: I`ve never tried a case with
Mark O`Mara or against him. But I will tell you, he does have a reputation
of being a very good lawyer in central Florida. I`m here in Orlando and I
do know him. And I do appreciate his professionalism thus far.
O`DONNELL: What does it mean to you as a lawyer, as now a friend of
family, and just as a person -- to hear the very first thing he said
tonight, about an hour ago to Brian Williams was, he wanted to express his
condolences to Trayvon Martin`s family.
How do you think that would be received by the family? And what did
it make you feel as an attorney to hear the other attorney say that?
JACKSON: As an attorney, it made me feel very proud. This case is
going to be handled professionally and with humanity.
And I think for the family, I haven`t talked to them about his
comments, but I will tell you, you know, there is something that goes to be
said and I think it`s something that we all have to learn. And expressing
condolences, saying I`m sorry, I`m not saying he said that, but there`s a
human empathy and the humanness that we all have to have toward each other.
Even with these people who are out there that may be upset about this
decision, there still is a humanness to this, and that`s a child died.
O`DONNELL: Natalie, I want to listen to special prosecutor
explaining why she charged murder in this case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPORTER: Why did your investigation lead to you a second-degree
COREY: When you have a homicide, Florida`s jury instructions even
say that before you can reach a degree of homicide, you have to determine
whether a person has committed an excusable homicide or a justifiable
homicide. All murders are homicides but not all homicides are murders.
And Florida`s law clearly says that if there is the affirmative defense of,
for example, excusable homicide or justifiable homicide, that should be
determined before you go to the degree of the crime. That`s the process
that this case took.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Natalie, as a close watcher of this case, I was stunned
today by murder two charges, to see something that was by the Sanford
Police Department swept away, just thrown away, no charges -- just no
arrests, no charges, to see that taken from nothing to second-degree murder
was stunning. I expected charges but I expected them to be some level of
How surprised were you in the Trayvon Martin legal team when you
heard it was second-degree murder, the highest charge she could bring
without having empanelled a grand jury?
JACKSON: You know, we thought that this is the charge that she would
bring. There is a lesser included manslaughter. So, in Florida, you have
necessary lesser included. So, the jury would get to consider that also.
This is the appropriate charge. And this is bravest (ph) and the
right to do. It gave us so much confidence in Angela Corey as a
prosecutor, that she`s constantly just doing the right thing regardless of
consequences, because anyone else would have charged this as a
manslaughter. Just to appease everyone.
And she did the right thing. She looked at the evidence and she came
out with her charge.
O`DONNELL: Natalie Jackson, thank you very much for joining us
JACKSON: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Kendall Coffey, a formal federal
prosecutor in Florida.
Kendall, how surprised were you by the level of the charge?
KENDALL COFFEY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I was surprised, I admit
it. Not because I doubted at that point that there were going to be very
serious charges brought. What second-degree murder means is that he
intended to do it essentially, without premeditation but it was
And just sort of watching this from a distance, knowing that there`s
much that I don`t know, I still honestly perceive this case to be a
manslaughter. But as was just pointed out, the jury has the ability to
downgrade the charge to a form of manslaughter.
And, let`s face it, when prosecutors charge the most aggressive
possible count that they can, it certainly improves a chance for getting a
plea bargain and it complicates the defendant`s life in terms getting a
bond. There`s no presumption that he`s entitled to get out on bond during
this proceeding. One of the early battles may be whether or not George
Zimmerman is going to spend the coming months in jail or whether there
would be some alternative, such as some form of house arrest, assume you
can find a safe house with various conditions imposed, which would not be
extraordinary for a case like this where there is going to be a serious
defense of self-defense attempted.
O`DONNELL: This is now Angela Corey versus Mark O`Mara.
And let`s look at what Mark O`Mara is up against if and when he
pleads the "Stand Your Ground" defense. Let`s listen to what he said about
the "Stand Your Ground" defense today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COREY: If "Stand Your Ground" becomes an issue, we fight it. If we
believe it`s the right thing to do. So if it becomes an issue in this
case, we will fight that affirmative defense.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Kendall, she`s not going to be an easy one to get by with
And I have to say that everything that we -- you and I know, from our
distance from this evidence, everything about the evidence could justify
some form of manslaughter charges which I think it means very clearly she
knows a lot that we don`t know in order to elevate that charge to murder
two. She obviously has access to an autopsy report that we don`t have.
And all sorts of evidence that must have material in it that pushes the
What would you expect -- given what you know about the evidence, what
would you expect to be the additional kinds of evidence you would find in
her file where you would say, yes, this is second-degree murder?
COFFEY: Well, let me first of all pick up on your comment about
Angela Corey and Mark O`Mara. We do have two very good ambassadors for the
legal profession. That`s a very good thing for the public as they continue
to fall what is right now the most intensely watched case in the country.
One of the things that I wondered about, because we hear so many
things, Lawrence, that we`re not really sure about. But if, for example,
we heard the individual who examined the body of Trayvon Martin saw no
evidence of scuffs or injuries, or scratchers or anything that would have
been consistent with some kind of real fist a cuff, that would be really,
really important, because the essence of George Zimmerman`s defense is this
was a tough fight. And he had to pull out the gun rightly or wrongly, he
thought, to save his life.
I`m also fascinated and I`m not sure if this was an element in the
charging decision, but if there is going to be a forensic ability to say
who was crying for help, my goodness, if they can reliably establish that
it was Trayvon Martin crying for help, that`s a big factor here.
O`DONNELL: Well, Kendall, before you go, I just have to tell you, we
had the funeral home director who prepared Trayvon Martin`s body for burial
and he said absolutely no evidence whatsoever of any kind of struggle, just
a gunshot wound, absolutely no other markings on that body. That`s not
courtroom evidence. They have better evidence than that with the medical
examiner and we`ll be learning about that soon.
Kendall Coffey, former Florida federal prosecutor, thank you very
much for joining us on our breaking news coverage of this tonight.
COFFEY: Thanks for having me.
O`DONNELL: We`re going to have more on the state of Florida versus
George Zimmerman, coming up. Charles Blow is here and many others.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN CRUMP, MARTIN FAMILY ATTORNEY: Martin Luther King said it
and we prayed about it, the moral arc is long and this has been a long
journey, but it bends towards justice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was one of the attorneys for the family of Trayvon
Martin speaking today.
Coming up, an attorney who has tried cases with and against Angela
Corey. We also will have Charles M. Blow, Joy-Ann Reid and others joining
us on this breaking news coverage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COREY: It was less than three weeks ago that we told those sweet
parents that we would get answers to all of their questions no matter where
our quest for the truth led us. And it is the search for justice for
Trayvon that has brought us to this moment.
FULTON: And I say thank you. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Jesus.
I just want to speak from my heart to your heart because a heart has
no color. It`s not black, it`s not white. It`s red. And I want to say
thank you from my heart to your heart.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now is the mayor of Sanford, Florida, Jeff
Triplett, and Mitch Stone, a criminal defense attorney in Florida who has
worked with Angela Corey when he was an assistant state attorney and has
also faced her as a defense attorney.
Mayor Triplett, I want you to listen to something that Attorney
Parks, one of the Martin attorneys, said about you and about your courage.
Let`s listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DARYL PARKS, MARTIN FAMILY ATTORNEY: So many courageous -- you know,
I have to say, when I saw the mayor of Sanford release those tapes and what
he must have been going through. To Mayor Triplett, wherever he is, it`s
hard when many people who have made very courageous moves to make this
right even after the wrong day ought to be commended.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Mayor, tell us about your decision is in releasing some
of the evidence that the police had in this case.
JEFF TRIPLETT, MAYOR OF SANFORD, FL: Well, you know, when we went
through the steps, we made the phone calls and asked, you know, why we
wouldn`t release these tapes to put a little bit of ease into the parents`
mind? Whether it did or not, but just to give them information about what
transpired and we -- it was a tough decision. It was a tough call but we
thought it was the right thing to do.
O`DONNELL: What they wish that evidence -- piecemeal evidence had
not been released either by the police or in this instance by you?
TRIPLETT: That`s OK. I think Ms. Corey handled it in a very
professional manner. She said all the right words as far as I`m concerned.
And it`s in their hands. After what I saw tonight, I have the upmost
confidence in her and her team to go to justice, whichever way that comes
O`DONNELL: Mitch Stone, the mayor isn`t the only one that has
confidence in this special prosecutor tonight. We`ve heard from the
Trayvon Martin lawyers expressing exactly the same sentiment. Tell us
about her as a prosecutor and what it`s like to go up against her in a case
You`ve both worked with her as a prosecutor when you were on the same
team. But more interestingly to me tonight, you`ve faced her, you`ve
worked against her. What`s that like?
MITCH STONE, FLORIDA CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, just that
we`re clear, I faced her in a case where she was on the other side. We
never actually got to trial because we ultimately resolved I`ve faced many
of her assistant, including some of the ones that are going to be involved
in the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman prosecution.
And so, I can tell you that her office is very tough. The people
that she has assigned to this task are extremely thorough and they will do
a very thorough job, and they`ll make sure that they essentially look at
every piece of evidence if they have not already done so.
Ms. Corey obviously has a wealth of experience in murder cases.
O`DONNELL: Mitch, there`s some speculation tonight, including by the
Zimmerman family, George Zimmerman`s brother on CNN on tonight, said that
he thinks the prosecutor overcharged, as prosecutors have been known to do,
throw the hardest charge they can so that they can use that as leverage in
a plea negotiation, negotiating it down.
Is that what you would expect her to do in a case like this? Or
would you expect her, under this kind of scrutiny, to be very surgically
precise in landing these charges exactly where they should go?
STONE: Well, I think as a prosecutor what she`s doing is essentially
taking the facts, looking at the law and seeing if she can plug the facts
into the law and support the second-degree murder charge.
I think, personally, I think manslaughter is a more appropriate. But
in reality, the way the law is written in Florida, she can sustain a
second-degree murder charge if the evidence will support that -- the
depraved mind, the act without concern for human life, things like that,
without intent to kill. Manslaughter I think is more appropriate based
upon the act that occurred here if there is going to be a conviction.
But most prosecutors in situations like this will start high because
you can always reduce if you need to and of course the jury can always come
back with a lesser included and therefore you don`t want to start too low.
So, it`s a negotiating tool. It`s typical for a tough prosecution to
go after somebody as -- with a highest charge.
O`DONNELL: Mayor Triplett where would we be tonight if Trayvon
Martin`s parents have simply taken what the police told them at face value
or simply decided, we can`t fight the police, we can`t fight city hall --
and if they had not gone out and south legal counsel and found people who
could help them, and bring public attention to this, including some of the
demonstrations that you`ve seen in your city?
TRIPLETT: I want to think that we`d be in the same position or the
investigation process was ongoing. We can -- you know, the police
department continued with the investigation, that it would have been
presented in the exact way. Would it have been this quick? I don`t know
the answer to that.
But I know she made a statement that I respect, that she had full
cooperation of the Sanford Police Department and she respected what they
did and took that and used it.
O`DONNELL: Mitch Stone and Sanford Mayor Jeff Triplett -- thank you
both very much for joining me tonight.
STONE: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, more on the state of Florida versus George
Zimmerman. Charles M. Blow, Mark Thompson and Joy-Ann Reid will join me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COREY: Today we filed an information charging George Zimmerman with
murder in the second degree. A capias has been issued for his arrest.
With the filing of that information and the issuance of a capias, he will
have a right to appear in front of a magistrate in Seminole County within
24 hours of his arrest, and thus formal prosecution will begin.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Charles M. Blow, "New York Times"
opinion writer, Mark Thompson, host of "Make It Plain" on Sirius XM Radio,
and Joy-Ann Reid, MSNBC contributor and managing editor of TheGrio.com.
Charles, we are now talking about Florida versus Zimmerman, case
number 171-2F04573. It seems like it was a long road to get here. But
really in legal, prosecutorial terms, it`s only been a matter of three
weeks since this special prosecutor came into the picture. And that seems
to have changed everything.
I guess we do not -- let`s see. Joy-Ann Reid, can you hear me?
JOY-ANN REID, THEGRIO.COM: I can hear you.
O`DONNELL: OK, we lost Charles` audio. Mark Thompson, we`re going to
check your audio. You with me?
MARK THOMPSON, SIRIUS XM RADIO HOST: I can hear you just fine.
O`DONNELL: Joy-Ann, this prosecutor moved quickly, in my judgement,
based when she took over, especially when we learned today from her that
she made arrangements last week for taking George Zimmerman into custody,
how they would do that, and had -- they had discussions with the judge
about how they would handle a bail hearing involving this case. And they
had that discussion last week.
So she`s known for a while that she was headed for these charges
REID: Yeah. And I think Angela Corey actually, she`s getting a lot
of applause, I can tell you, from people that I`ve spoke to tonight for
just the careful way that she`s handled the case and the deliberate way
that she has handled it.
She didn`t hold herself that April 10th deadline, but she got very
close. And she really sort of managed the expectations of the family of
Trayvon Martin, in speaking to them even initially, when she first talked
to them, but then proceeding to what everyone that I`ve talked to tonight
feels is a just result.
O`DONNELL: Charles M. Blow, I think we have your sound restored at
this.. The problem, Charles, is that you are actually in the world
headquarters of MSNBC. So, of course, we`re going to have wiring trouble
there. Joy-Ann is standing out in the street in Florida and we can hear
Charles, this -- emotionally, this has been a long time coming. But
when you look at the jurisprudential course charted by this special
prosecutor from the day she took the case, especially since she was having
discussions last week with a potential judge in the case about how to
handle a bail hearing, she, I think, we can now say, moved very quickly
from the day she picked up this file.
CHARLES M. BLOW, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Right. I think that you can
probably say that, because the -- investigations like this can take quite a
long time, particularly when you`re jumping in kind of late in the ball
game. The Sanford Police have the investigation first. And they were kind
of -- the state investigator was kind of thrown in after public pressure
had been applied and the ante had been upped in this case.
So yes, I don`t see any problem with the timing there at all.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Tracy Martin, Trayvon`s father, told
Reverend Al Sharpton earlier tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRACY MARTIN, FATHER OF TRAYVON MARTIN: I would ask him, did he have
any regrets? Did he realize that he destroyed a life? He destroyed a
family. And that had he second guessed it, would he just have stayed in
Most certainly, I have no hatred towards him. But I would just like
for him to look into my eyes and feel my hurt, feel my family`s pain. A
seed has been taken away from us that can`t be given back to us. But at
the same time, I just would want to know how he feel about taking our son`s
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Mark Thompson, there is no evidence yet that the Zimmerman
family does feel the Martin family`s hurt. Robert Zimmerman, George
Zimmerman`s brother, was on CNN tonight, once again trying to try the case
on television, talking about the fear that his brother had and all that
sort of thing.
But the new attorney in the case, Mark O`Mara, the very first thing he
said on national television tonight was that he extended his condolences to
the Martin family. Do you think that this is now the possible beginning of
some kind of calm coming over what is now the case of Florida versus
THOMPSON: I believe so, Lawrence. I certainly hope so. I think you
said it best. George Zimmerman now, for a change, does have professional
legal representation. And I think Mark O`Mara represented himself well.
I think Angela Corey represented herself well. She showed a great
deal of compassion toward whom she called the constitutional victims in
this case and those would be the Martin family. I think there is an
opportunity for calm here because what has happened, as Reverend Sharpton
has said, this is not necessarily a moment for celebration, because a
tragedy has occurred.
But the people of this country, all over the country, cried out. And
for that matter, the very rocks cried out. But everyone spoke up. And
while it`s probably not appropriate to say that prosecution was brought as
a result of people crying out and protesting and what have you, and wearing
hoodies; it is probably appropriate to say that there was another review, a
greater and more careful and more deliberate review of the case because
people cried out.
I think Chris Matthews said earlier, the heat brought light and so as
a result of that, we have this. We may even be able to say, at this moment
-- I think that we can at this very moment, that this is an example of the
justice system working. Frankly, I think it even works now for Zimmerman.
Why wouldn`t he want to put on his own defense? That`s the right one
has in America. Why would you want to be tried in the court of public
opinion? Why would you want to have to hide your face from now on? So I
think even for him, this works out for the best.
O`DONNELL: Attorney General Eric Holder verbally stepped into the
case today in Washington. There is a separate federal investigation that
is still going on. And he reminded us of that. Let`s listen to what he
had to say today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: As a parent, I reacted to it.
This is a pain that no parent should have to endure. We also have I think
a reaction that is based on issues that we have faced in this nation over
The primary responsibility that we have in the Justice Department is
to support the state in its ongoing investigation, to do our own thorough
and parallel investigation, which we are in the process of doing, And try
to resolve this matter in as fair and complete a way and as quickly as we
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Charles Blow, I will spare you Rush Limbaugh`s reaction to
all of this kind of thing. But it seems that we`re at a point in our
politics where it is a risky for the attorney general of the United States,
politically in this environment, this very contentious environment that we
have, to simply make what would be normal public comment about a federal
investigation like this.
BLOW: Right. Thank you for sparing me, Rush. I don`t want to hear
about Rush. This is not about any of the pundits. This is not about me.
This is not about people who marched in the streets necessarily, although
that pressure actually helped to bring some justice in this case.
This is about a 17-year-old boy in a Florida grave. This is about his
family that will never get a chance to hear his voice ever again. This is
about a man who took his life and whether or not the law protects George
Zimmerman or George Zimmerman violated that law.
It is about justice. It is about people`s faith in the justice
system. The only way that America works is that we have faith that the
justice system will work for us. Martin Luther King said in the "Mountain
Top" speech in 1968, all we say to America is just be true to what you said
on paper. If you are saying that all people are created equally and that
justice is blind, then justice must be blindly applied and blindly pursued.
That means that if a black person commits a crime, they should be no
more harshly prosecuted or no more leniently prosecuted than anybody else.
And that means that if a black person is the victim of a crime, then that
person who committed the crime against them should be no more leniently
prosecuted or harshly prosecuted.
Lawrence, I love America not because America is perfect, but because
America strives towards perfection. But America is like a garden. And you
have to constantly tend that garden so that the weeds don`t take it over.
And whenever the weeds of injustice spring up in that garden, you have to
work to pull it out.
And that is what is happening in this case. America has basically
risen up and said there is a weed in this garden and we need to get it out.
And the -- Eric Holder needs to be able to say that. The president needs
to be able to say that. And nobody should take that as a partisan jab.
O`DONNELL: We will have more on the breaking news developments in the
case of Florida versus Zimmerman coming up. Stay with us.
O`DONNELL: We`re back with more on what is now the case of Florida
versus Zimmerman. Joy-Ann Reid, tomorrow, take us through the public steps
that we will see in these proceedings.
REID: OK. Lawrence, so tomorrow George Zimmerman will have his first
hearing before a judge here in Seminole County, at the Seminole County
Courthouse at 1:30. That`s the first time that we`ll actually see him in a
O`DONNELL: And that will be televised?
REID: That will be. There will be a pool camera there. So we will
be able to see him actually go before the judge. And this would be the
hearing, as far as my understanding is, at which we would establish whether
or not he would be able to qualify for bond.
This is just the typical first hearing that happens in a criminal
O`DONNELL: Mark Thompson, in everything that this -- all of the
developments of the day, what for you is the thought you`re left with at
the end of watching everything that happened today, all of the press
conferences, the sequencing of everything, this drama as it unfolded?
THOMPSON: I`m here with Washington with Reverend Sharpton, attending
the National Action Network Convention. He was having a press conference
approximately in the 2:00 hour this afternoon with Trayvon Martin`s family
and Attorney Crump.
And I got an e-mail that there was going to be an announcement, that
there was going to be an arrest. And I took my blackberry up to the podium
and we all looked at each other. And then Attorney Crump said, let`s just
wait. Let`s just confirm this before we make the announcement.
But it was incredible to get that e-mail right in the midst of this.
I tell you what I`m feeling, and it goes to what Eric Holder said and
what Charles was saying a moment ago. We all have done something great and
beautiful here, I think. Sometimes the simplest thing is the most
All we have tried to do, all we`ve ever wanted to do is to defend the
life of an unarmed innocent child. We only asked that Zimmerman be
arrested. It would be unfair to judge and try him in the way that he
really, in many people`s views, judged, tried, and even executed Trayvon
We have not only stood up for justice, but we have, in some way,
defended Trayvon Martin. We stepped in the shoes of his parents. You,
Lawrence, Charles, Joy, with all of the reporting, we really made Trayvon
one of our own children.
And sometimes that`s the real meaning of life and love, to be able to
empathize with others so much you know what it feels like. And so Trayvon
became our own child. And so in defending him and standing up for him,
we`ve done something for all of our children.
We`ve reclaimed, in many ways, especially those of us who are African-
American parents who have to have these talks with our children -- we`ve
reclaimed our adulthood, our parenthood and for many of us as black men,
O`DONNELL: Charles Blow, as a journalist, you`ve worked this case
very hard. And as a father of a teenage son, I just want to get your
personal reaction, your gut. What hit you when you saw that news today,
the charge is murder in the second degree.
BLOW: Two teenage sons. If I had hair, it would all be gray. What
struck me most was the second-degree murder charge. I just didn`t think it
would be that strong of a charge. I thought it would be more like
manslaughter, number one. That`s the first thing.
But the second thing is that, you know, in my gut I believe that
killers should be in custody until you figure the thing out. The fact that
a person is allowed to basically, you know, shoot and kill someone, walk
out of a police station on the weight of their own word before an
investigation is completely finished, and then we have to, you know, figure
out if you can be brought back into custody, struck me as wrong and did not
seem to me to be an equal application of the law and of justice.
O`DONNELL: Charles M. Blow, Mark Thompson, Joy-Ann Reid, thank you
all very much for joining me tonight.
THOMPSON: Thank you, Lawrence.
REID: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: The Rewrite is next.
O`DONNELL: Time for a quick Rewrite. Last week, I analyzed the
political motivation behind this attack by Mitt Romney on President Obama`s
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think there is in
this country a war on religion. I think there is a desire to establish a
religion in America known as secularism. And I know that based upon
reports, the Obama administration gave this a lot of thought, a lot of
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: I then pointed out that Romney was obviously lying about
the president trying to create a new religion. And as I developed my
point, I referred to Joseph Smith and the creation of Mormonism in two
sentences that I shall not repeat because they offended many but not all of
the Mormons watching, who then reacted on Twitter and elsewhere.
In fact, the Mormon reaction on Twitter was overwhelmingly negative.
I only had a couple of Mormon defenders. And according to Twitter, those
same words were irritating and distracting to other religious viewers,
including some of this shows most supportive fans.
And I am truly sorry if I said something inaccurate about Joseph
Smith. And I am happy to provide time on this show to a Church of Latter-
Day Saints spokesman to correct any inaccuracy. In fact, I have more than
once invited spokesman for the Mormon church on the show and they have
always declined, despite the polite and enlightening conversations we have
had off the record.
And I am sorry that my word choice ripped some people`s attention away
from my point, that we should not tolerate religious intolerance in voting.
My -- pardon the expression -- preaching on the politics of religion has
always been addressed at one essential point: religious intolerance is
wrong. Refusing to vote for a Mormon is wrong. Refusing to vote for a
Catholic is wrong. Refusing to vote for a Jewish candidate is wrong.
Refusing to vote for a Muslim candidate is wrong.
And, yes, refusing to vote for a non-believer is wrong. And, again,
I`m very sorry that for some that message got lost because of my
insensitive phrasing in two sentences I wish -- I just wish I could take
those words back.
And now that I`ve apologized for using those pointed words last week,
we can all patiently await Mitt Romney`s apology for lying about President
Obama trying to create a new religion. But we must be prepared for a long
wait, because oddly enough, not a single person who has objected to what I
said has also objected to Mitt Romney`s lie about President Obama`s
And that`s tonight`s LAST WORD. "THE ED SHOW" is up next.
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