'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013
Read the transcript to the Wednesday show
THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
July 3, 2013
Guests: Kay Hagan, Dennis Ross, Faith Jenkins; Gary Casimir; Larry
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: We have updates on the situation in Egypt
tonight and on the testimony in the George Zimmerman case.
But first, the fight over abortion rights has moved to North Carolina.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The truth will set you free, but first, it will
piss you off.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST: Surprise Republican sneak attack in North
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST: The anti-abortion bill.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The effects of this bill will close clinics.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The enslavement and domination of me and my body
and my uterus.
CROWD: Shame! Shame!
MADDOW: A surprise move against abortion rights.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What a bill (ph) of medical misinformation, bad
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This bill does not even merit debate on this
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the process that got it here is not worthy of
HAYES: It began as a bill to ban Sharia law?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wrapped it all up with a faux patriotic title.
MADDOW: Designed to shut down as many clinics as possible.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because they don`t have enough parking spaces or
their awning doesn`t need a certain standard.
MADDOW: It came out of nowhere.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Free women and men to care about the issue no
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They should, but men should not --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My faith and values are strong and valid and
important. And legitimate as yours are.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re hiding what they`re doing.
MADDOW: North Carolina Republicans may have just picked themselves a
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And going to get out of town before the public can
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That crowd is going to descend on you.
O`DONNELL: Republicans in Texas, Ohio, and now North Carolina are
trying to pass legislation that would shut down abortion clinics. Today,
the Republican-led North Carolina Senate passed this bill, the Family,
Faith and Freedom Protection Act, not one Democrat voted for the bill.
The bill reads, "No qualified health plan offered through an exchange
and operating in this state shall include coverage for abortion services.
The physician providing any drug or chemical for the purpose of inducing an
abortion shall be physically present in the same room with the patient when
the drug or chemical is administered. The Department of Health and Human
Services rules shall ensure that standards for the clinics certified for
the purposes of abortion are certified for the licensure of ambulatory
Opponents say the bill would shut down all but one abortion clinic in
the state. A Senate committee added, the abortion amendments to a bill,
banning Sharia law late last night, to limit the debate on these measures.
This was the scene at the North Carolina legislative building after
The bill now heads to the desk of Republican House Speaker Thom
Tillis, who has announced a run for U.S. Senate. If he wins the Republican
nomination, his general election opponent will be Democratic Senator Kay
Hagan, who will join me in a moment.
Senator Hagan`s colleague in the Senate, Republican Marco Rubio, has
agreed to be the lead of a Senate bill that bans abortions 20 weeks after
conception, according to "The Weekly Standard." But a Rubio adviser tells
"The Washington Post" today, "The pro-life groups have asked him to
introduce the bill in the Senate. He had not made a final decision before
leaving on a family vacation. I expect an announcement when he gets back
to D.C. next week."
Joining me now, Democratic senator from North Carolina, Kay Hagan, and
MSNBC`s Joy Reid.
Senator Hagan, what would this bill mean to the women of North
Carolina if it becomes law?
SEN. KAY HAGAN (D), NORTH CAROLINA: Well, if this is a health care
bill about women, I am glad any state legislator in Raleigh is not my
doctor. When I look at what the leadership and the general assembly is
doing, under a sneak attack they put forward -- they forced a sweeping
anti-women`s health care bill that -- with no public notice, no
transparency, and that doesn`t pass a public scrutiny test in North
Carolina. Those are not the values that we hold.
This is certainly a distraction. What we`ve got to be focused on in
North Carolina, everybody tells me the number one issue is jobs and the
economy. And what does our general assembly do? You know, once again,
right before a holiday weekend with no public notice, no transparency, this
is the kind of legislation that they put forward.
They have been working on anti-middle class legislation, anti-women,
and anti-voter rights. And it is wrong. It is not the values in North
O`DONNELL: Joy Reid, do you get the kind of sense there is a kind of
cross-border reaction among the states that are taking action this week?
JOY REID, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, absolutely, Lawrence. When you
look a what is happening in Texas and now North Carolina, I sort of see a
hand on to group of Americans United for Life. I was doing a little
research before this segment. And, you know, while the National Right to
Life Committee, the committee that says they would like to see Marco Rubio
sponsor that legislation nationally.
They get a lot more ink. But Americans United for Life is basically a
bill mill. They are a legislation-writing factory, they write model
legislation that really sounds very similar to the bill in Texas, very
similar to the provisions here, that similar to the provisions in Ohio.
And I think what probably happened here is that the legislators in
North Carolina looked at what`s happening in Texas and other states where
women are fighting these laws, where they`re fighting these bills. Where
they`re coming out and protesting, where it is becoming national news, and
they decided to make the world`s most ironic sneak attack. You know, I`m
sure these legislators couldn`t tell you what Sharia law, but what they
think it is, is exactly what they`re doing in these bills, imposing a
religious dictate on women.
O`DONNELL: This issue came up in the governor`s campaign debate when
he was running. Let`s listen how Governor Pat McCrory handled this
question, on what he would do in a situation like this when it came up in a
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MODERATOR: If you`re elected governor, what further restrictions on
abortion would you agree to sign?
I`ll start with you, Mr. McCrory?
PAT MCCRORY (R), THEN-GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: None.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Senator Kay Hagan, you rarely hear one-word answers in
political debates. That was a pretty solid and clear answer.
HAGAN: Well, I think just like the distractions that are taking place
in Ohio and Texas and now in North Carolina, I don`t think people have
learned about what took place in the 2012 election. Women want to make
their own decisions. Women listened, and when women`s access to preventive
health care and treatment is being brought in a sneak attack like what
occurred last night in Raleigh they pay attention.
Women vote, and women vote with their feet, which means they work in
the grass roots. They work the polls. They work phone banks.
I don`t think this is what people in North Carolina want to be
discussing. And I think we need to go back to looking at the real issues
and that`s jobs and the economy.
O`DONNELL: Senator, what are the prospects for this bill, given that
the governor said in the campaign that he would not sign such a bill? And
your potential opponent, Thom Tillis, in the House of Representatives
there, did you expect him to bring it up in the House of Representatives
and get it passed there?
KAGAN: You know, Lawrence, we`ll have to wait and see. Once again,
when under the sneak attack yesterday before a holiday weekend, with no
notice, I think this is the wrong way to put forward legislation. We`ll
have to see what happens in the House.
And the governor in North Carolina, a law can still be passed without
his signature. He just doesn`t have to do anything.
So I am concerned.
O`DONNELL: Oh, I see.
Joy Reid, there is some real pressure on Marco Rubio now when he
returns from vacation.
REID: Yes, the idea would be that this would be a palate cleanser
from his being an apostate from the Republican base on immigration.
And so, this would be a chance to sort of rehab at a time himself with
the far right. But I think, once again we`re looking at the legislation
model, where the anti-abortion movement is trying to provoke potentially a
Supreme Court showdown by going state to state to state, passing very
And, I guarantee you, Lawrence, if you asked the legislators what are
in the bills they probably wouldn`t even know. There was a story in Texas,
the two sponsors of the Texas bill when asked by their colleagues couldn`t
even explain the bill.
But these are so dangerous, because where there is a Republican
governor or legislator, that could provoke the challenge that the opponents
hope will overturn Roe v. Wade nationally.
So, Marco Rubio I think would be very tempted to take on this issue
because of the pressure that`s been put on his from immigration.
O`DONNELL: Senator Hagan, if Marco introduces a bill in the Senate,
United States Senate that is, to limit the abortion to 20 weeks, what will
HAGAN: You know, once again, I think we`ve got to be focused on jobs
and the economy. When we go back next week we have got to take immediate
action to be sure that the students` debt doesn`t double. Right now, it`s
going from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent. That`s what people are telling me
we need to work on that and have a focus.
When I think about a bunch of men sitting in Raleigh debating how wide
a hallway should be in a women` health care clinic, I think that is totally
O`DONNELL: Joy Reid, Harry Reid has said that he would not bring up
such a bill, if it looks like it wouldn`t have any real chance of getting
through the Senate.
REID: Yes, and it wouldn`t. Clearly, it wouldn`t. I mean, these are
the type of bills that take place in the House where they do this over and
over and over again. But if Marco Rubio were to introduce it, just to go
back to your question, Lawrence, I think probably what would happen would
be that Ted Cruz would introduce a bill, one-upping him and trying to ban
abortion outright throughout the country.
This is really about getting right with the base of the Republican
Party. On a national level, these guys know that these kind of bills won`t
pass. They know that they don`t pass the smell test nationally, but they
know they can provoke it in the state. And I think Marco Rubio, if he
wants to run for president is going to be very tempted to embrace this
issue as a way to push back on those who say that he is not conservative
enough because of immigration.
O`DONNELL: Senator Kay Hagan, thank you for joining us from this
important story about your state.
And, Joy Reid, thanks for joining us tonight.
REID: Thank you.
KAGAN: Thank you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, it was CSI day today on the George Zimmerman
trial. Forensic scientist Larry Kobilinsky is here to discuss the DNA and
ballistics evidence heard in court.
And we`ll get the latest from Egypt where President Morsi is out and
the military is in control.
O`DONNELL: A Tea Party group doesn`t think that Senate Minority
Leader Mitch McConnell can beat his Democratic rival, Kentucky Secretary of
State Alison Lundergan-Grimes. Matt Hoskins of the Senate Conservatives
Fund told "The Washington Post," Mitch McConnell is now the least electable
Republican senator running for reelection in 2014. He could lose this race
and cost the Republicans the majority. He needs to consider whether it
might be time to hang it up.
The Senate Conservatives Fund is a political action committee launched
by former Republican Senator Jim DeMint.
Up next, why the Obama administration has announced a one-year delay
in implementation of one of the mandates in the Affordable Care Act. Ezra
Klein will explain.
O`DONNELL: Yesterday, the Obama administration decided to release
very big news in a way it never has before, simply by placing an
announcement on the Treasury Department`s Web site.
"We have listened to your feedback and we are taking action. The
administration is announcing that it will provide an additional year before
the Affordable Care Act mandatory employer and insurer reporting
That was the Obama administration deciding to delay for a year the
implementation of the Obamacare mandate on employers providing health
Now, you might think that Republican opponents of Obamacare who want
to see the legislation never go into effect would cheer the administration
for delaying at least part of the law`s implementation. But, big surprise.
They didn`t cheer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Well, if he can just delay Obama
care what else can be delayed that he doesn`t like? What is the reason we
go through the legislative process if when it is all over the president can
pick and choose what he is going to allow, and what he is not going to
allow. What he is going to permit and what he isn`t going to permit. What
he is going to implement. What he isn`t going to implement. Why even go
through the legislative process?
You know, we -- we thought Egypt was a country in trouble. Obama just
cancelled the game. He didn`t want Obamacare to play out so he cancelled
it for now.
He will play the game. We`ll go back to it when he has got the
Congress in his back pocket. Then he`ll reschedule the game.
I mean, folks this is the stuff of banana republics. Laws have no
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: To explain all of this is Ezra Klein, editor of "The
Washington Post" "Wonkblog", and an MSNBC policy analyst.
Ezra, what is going on here? Why the administration slipped this out
on a Treasury Web site, did it so quietly. It seems like it is a very
EZRA KLEIN, MSNBC POLICY ANALYST: I`m not sure I can explain the
Rush Limbaugh comments. I can try to explain the actual policy here.
So, they`ve got this part of the bill. And what it says if you`re an
employer who`s got more than 50 employees and you don`t either offer health
insurance to them, or you don`t pay them enough that they can buy it, and
so they have to go into taxpayer subsidies, you have to pay a penalty
between $2,000 and $3,000 for every employee over 30 employees. So it`s a
little bit complicated.
And it`s worth saying that in the history of these employees, this is
a very small ask of employers, from Richard Nixon put forward his health
care bill, he wanted employers to pay 70 percent of the cost, from Bill
Clinton put forth his, it was 80 percent for big employees. This is a
small fraction of health care and only for those who don`t provide. And
it`s only about 10,000 firms employing about 1 percent to 2 percent of the
This is the part of the bill thought that gets the most criticism for
the Obama administration because one thing it actually does do is because
it focuses on this 50-employee cut off, it gives the employers who are
right around the number 50 a reason to have fewer full-time workers, gives
them a reason either not to hire or to cut hours.
And so on the one hand, the reporting, to figure out how many hours
they have, how complicated, and on the other hand, the stories coming out
are very, very bad for them. So, they basically made a decision and this
is where Limbaugh has a little bit of a point that they were just not going
to enforce the penalties for a year. And they say it is to streamline the
reporting process and make it easier.
I think a lot of people think it is political. Either way, it`s not a
huge political deal for the bill, but it is a big political change in the
bill because it takes away what Republicans thought was going to be their
best weapon against it, which is the story of the employers struggling with
the bill and maybe even firing people.
O`DONNELL: Ezra, I know this particular provision is not a favorite
of yours in the bill, it is not mine, either, because there are ways to
manipulate it, including making full-time employees not full-time, which
just means there could be 30 hours or less. The are so many ways to
manipulate to get around it.
And then, there`s also a financial possibility that a company would
look at this and say, you know what, I would rather pay a fine of $2,000
per employee that actually pay for health insurance for those employees at
5,000 a head, or something like that.
KLEIN: The average employer basically, $16,000.
KLEIN: I agree with you, I don`t like this part of the bill. And I
think I`m more radical than maybe on this. I don`t like employers being
involved in health care at all.
O`DONNELL: Yes, I agree.
KLEIN: I don`t think they should be forced to offer it. I don`t
think it should be working this way.
Now, what I do think is the case that you need to pick which world
you`re in. And the world we`re moving into here is not a great one because
if you`re going to keep employers in the center of American health care,
then you need to ask them to do something. And, right now, what we`re
doing for at least a year is we`re going to be at the center and we`re not
asking very much of them.
But in long run what I would love to see is this get repealed entirely
in place of a much better way of doing it or with some kind of more
aggressive plan that moves them out. And this is where you get into why
the Obama administration did it the way they did it.
The Republican Party thinks there are all of these things wrong with
Obamacare. What they will not do under any circumstance is improve any of
them. Even if everybody agrees on what`s wrong. So, they want the plan to
collapse under things that go wrong within it, so they won`t do anything to
And so, you have situations where the Obama administration, instead of
being able to go to Congress and say, OK, you guys didn`t like this part of
the plan, we don`t like it or we don`t think it is working that well.
Let`s change it.
The only option they have, and I`m not saying it`s a great one, is in
this case, told the IRS simply don`t enforce the penalty on these employers
for at least a year. I don`t think it`s a great way to run a railroad. On
the other hand, I also don`t think it`s great that the way we structure
legislative process now, we can`t make the American health care system any
better because Republicans are hoping that on an issue where they have
already lost or it is already law they can essentially try to get the law
repealed simply by making it work very, very poorly, no matter how many
people get hurt along the way.
O`DONNELL: Yes, it used to be if the side passed the bill that the
other didn`t want, if a few years down the road, they saw there were
problems with it that both sides agreed was the problem, they would work
together to try to fix that thing to at least make it at least better. But
you`re right, there is no real legislative hope for that good sense these
Ezra Klein, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
KLEIN: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, an emergency meeting at the White House with
Egypt once again under military control. That`s next.
And later, it was a day of ballistics and DNA evidence in the second
degree murder trial of George Zimmerman.
O`DONNELL: In the spotlight tonight, Egypt. After more than two
years of uncertainty, the story of Egypt`s revolution is still being
written tonight. In Cairo`s Tahrir Square, thousands of people are
celebrating after it was announced that the country`s military removed
President Mohamed Morsi from power and suspended the constitution.
NBC News has learned that President Morsi and most of the members of
his presidential team are now under house arrest.
NBC`s Richard Engel is in Cairo with more -- Richard.
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Good evening,
Lawrence. From a very noisy, very boisterous Tahrir Square, some people
are calling what has happened today a coup. That is certainly the way the
now ousted President Mohamed Morsi is calling the situation. In fact in
his only statement, he said, quote, "a revolution has been taken from us."
But here in Tahrir Square, they are not calling this a coup. In fact,
they are saying what has happened today, was the army intervened at the
people`s request for change.
(voice-over): Just watch, and listen. It`s the cry of millions of
Egyptians, an outpouring of joy and relief that a weight has been lifted
from their shoulders, the end of an experiment in political Islam gone
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m crying because I`m so happy. So happy we
get rid of them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are now free Egypt, out of the Muslim
ENGEL: And reset button pushed once again in Egyptian politics by
protests and ultimately the military.
Tonight, these army helicopters flew over Tahrir Square dropping
flags. Egyptians lit them up with lasers, thanking the military for
driving out President Morsi, who they claim neglected the needs of the
people while in power and Muslim fundamentalists.
(on camera): Make no mistake, these celebrations are not against
Islam or even Islam and politics, but against Morsi and the Muslim
Brotherhood for using religion to win votes and then governing badly.
(voice-over): The celebrations were triggered by this highly
anticipated announcement: the army chief on national television outlining a
Morsi out, the constitution suspended, the head of the constitutional
court, the new president, but only until the early elections. The army
stressed it doesn`t want to run Egypt. But can it be believed?
And what about Morsi and their supporters? They`re calling this a
naked coup, and affront to Islam, a plot by Israel and America. They`re
The army has deployed armored vehicles to contain them, but they are
armed. And some could start an insurgency.
Back in Tahrir Square, back with the winners, what about democracy?
Is a military intervention really what they wanted? No, but they say it
was their only choice to fix the mistake they don`t want to repeat.
(on camera): But, Lawrence, while the scene here appears very
boisterous, very celebratory, very positive, there are deep concerns in
this country about what will happen next. In fact, the U.S. embassy which
is located just to the back of Tahrir Square has ordered the evacuation of
all non-emergency personnel and their families and is even telling U.S.
citizens living in Egypt to leave -- Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Richard Engel, thank you.
Joining me now is Ambassador Dennis Ross, a former envoy to the Middle
East for former President Clinton and former special assistant to President
Obama. He is now a counselor for the Washington Institute for Near East
Ambassador Ross, is this a positive step in the right direction for
Egypt at this point?
AMB. DENNIS ROSS, FORMER U.S. DIPLOMAT: You know, it is a very
difficult question to answer. If you look at the scenes that we were just
watching there is very little doubt that I think a very significant part of
Egyptian population feels that this was a necessary course correction.
Many of the people who are out there celebrating now were also a year
ago celebrating the election of President Morsy. It is not that they don`t
want democracy, it is that they feel in a sense the revolution was hijacked
by President Morsy and the Muslim brotherhood. And they didn`t necessarily
want the military to be once again intervening but they felt they didn`t
have a choice. They didn`t see much of a recourse.
So the question is, is the military going to come in and preside over
an administration that really does permit political change and institutions
to develop or will they in fact play the kind of role they did immediately
after Hosni Mubarak?
My guess is they don`t want to play much of a role politically because
they didn`t do very well the last time they tried. Also, I think they look
at the economic situation in Egypt and know it is going to be very
difficult to produce anything positive anytime soon. But I do think, they
intervenes the no small part because they felt that the country was on the
road to collapse.
You had the defense minister General Assisi (ph) who was the one
responsible for leading this intervention, warning over the last couple of
months that if something was not to create greater stability within Egypt
there was a dark tunnel that the military had to prevent from unfolding and
they would do so.
Their ultimatum of two days ago was again, one last chance for
President Morsy to find a way to try to be more inclusive, and not have an
approach to governance that was entirely govern and shaped by the desire to
have control and not to share power.
So, I think there is potential here for something positive, but there
is enormous uncertainty right now. We have to see how the Muslim
brotherhood responds to this. They have failed in terms governing, the
question is do they decide to try to mobilize their own support and react
with force or do they decide to bide their time? If it is the latter,
there may be some potential here to move in a more stabilizing direction.
O`DONNELL: President Obama put out a statement tonight saying that he
is concerned by the decision of the Egyptian Armed Forces to remove
President Morsy as an elected president. He says I now call on the
Egyptian military to move quickly and responsibly to return full authority
back to a democratically elected government as soon as possible. What
would you be advising President Obama tonight?
ROSS: Well, I think the main thing I would be advising is to stick to
that line. Keep a focus on general principles, which are in fact, one,
create a basis for drafting a constitution that in fact, can be much more
inclusive. One of the problems that Morsy created was that he basically
tried to issue a decree where he ruled out any judicial oversight. He
rushed through a referendum to ensure that a very narrow body could
dominate by (INAUDIBLE), could draft a constitution.
So, I would be focusing on one, the drafting a new constitution, two,
the setting a date for new elections, three create a government that would
focus on the immediate needs to address some of the fundamental economic
problems. And also try to restore security and law and order.
I think if we could emphasize those kinds of principles, and if the
military was appointing this type of technocratic interim government, we
would be on a better track and we would also be consistent with where I
think most of the Egyptian people are.
One of the problems that we face is that more and more of those were
out in the streets somehow felt that the United States were supporting the
Muslim brotherhood. That is not a position we were necessarily or
necessarily wanted to be in.
O`DONNELL: Ambassador Dennis Ross, thank you for joining us on his
historic night for Egypt.
ROSS: My pleasure.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, did George Zimmerman lie to Sean Hannity? That
was one of the questions before the jury today, as well as the forensic
evidence in the case.
O`DONNELL: Chris Christie threatened to use a New Jersey word on
national television at the Republican national convention if he didn`t get
enough attention. "The Washington Post" Dan Ball writes in his new book,
"collision 2012," that the program director wanted to cut Chris Christie`s
introduction video to save time for the convention.
Chris Christie replied ask is the director if he had ever heard anyone
say the "f "word live on television because that is what he was about to do
if the video didn`t run. The convention director ran the Christie video.
Coming up next, why George Zimmerman`s interview with Sean Hannity
has come back to haunt him this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: A lot of this case legally has to do
with "stand your ground." You`ve heard a lot about it. And I`m just
curious, prior to this night, this incident, had you even heard stand your
GEORGE ZIMMERMAN, KILLED TRAYVON MARTIN: No, sir.
HANNITY: You had never heard about it before?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That video was shown yesterday in the trial of George
Zimmerman. Then today, the man who taught George Zimmerman about the
"stand your ground" law testified.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAPT. ALEXIS CARTER, ZIMMERMAN`S FORMER INSTRUCTOR: I wanted to teach
a class from a practical standpoint where these students can really relate
and take something from it and apply it to their own lives. You know, with
Florida and other states they have what is called the "stand your ground"
law, which evolved from the castle doctrine through case law.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And did you cover that specifically?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you discuss specifically self defense and
"stand your ground" laws in connection with the violent crimes such as
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was Alexis Carter who taught a course in criminal
litigation at Seminole State College where one of his students was George
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And actually, do you remember what kind of grade
you gave him?
CARTER: I gave him an "A." You always kind of remember your smartest
student, or the one that stood out the most. The one that probably was not
the best student. And he was probably one of the better students in the
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Faith Jenkins, a former criminal
prosecutor, and Gary Casimir, a former New York City prosecutor who handles
criminal and civil litigation now.
Faith, the jury now knows what George Zimmerman looks like when he is
not telling the truth. That Sean Hannity tape, his response clearly is not
the truth. As the guy who taught him about self defense and "stand your
ground law" proves today.
FAITH JENKINS, FORMER CRIMINAL PROSECUTOR: Right, and that interview
is going to be so crucial. The prosecutors are going to play that portion
in their closing statements. Because it is not just what he said that the
fact he lied, it is how he said it. He looked right at Sean Hannity. He
looked at him right in the eye with his attorney sitting next to him, the
entire nation watching. And his demeanor is the same as it is when he was
giving the statements telling his recounting of events of the night he shot
Trayvon Martin. He doesn`t flinch for a second, he obviously didn`t tell
He said he never heard of "stand your ground" and then his professor
testified that he went over this law numerous times in his class because he
wanted the students to understand the practical impact of this law. It was
a clear and bold lie.
O`DONNELL: And it is obviously something that George Zimmerman
understood since he got an "A" in the class.
Gary, Sean Hannity says wow after George Zimmerman says, no, because
it is a surprising answer. And an important answer to a good question by
Sean Hannity. And also in saying, wow, it kind of gives the person you`re
talking to a chance to amend what they`re saying. I mean, you know, he
could have said well, I knew a little bit about it. We talked about it in
class once but I didn`t really, I`m not an expert on it.
GARY CASIMIR, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Right, I think what you`re going to
have here is, on West, the defense team trying to explain that the self
defense course, maybe they didn`t use the "stand your ground" in
terminology. It is part of the self-defense law. It is an affirmative
defense. And maybe what they will try to do is say that the way it is
being described, he was thought to him that way.
Regardless of that though, the question becomes what do the facts
present themselves? (INAUDIBLE) involved here, you know, if you want to
talk a little about what is the effect of knowing the "stand your ground
law"? Does it change the fact or circumstance of the fact that happened?
And I don`t think it will. The defense is going to say, that didn`t change
the facts of what happened today.
JENKINS: Well, no. So, then, if he didn`t have to lie about it, but
he chose to anyway. If he is going to lie about the small things just
because he thinks he can get away with it, he is going to lie about the big
CASIMIR: Yes. I think the prosecution is going to try to present
that. But the jury is going to ending up deciding what happened that
night. And you saw a lot of things here. You saw a guy trying to go to
school to try to be a better quote- unquote "want to be cop." That is a
And so, you have that element here, the prosecution is bringing this
guy out, or trying to suggest, he is a bad guy because he is taking
classes? I don`t know if that is going to sell to the jury.
JENKINS: Well, no. He is an over-zealous neighborhood watch guy
because he is taking these classes, and he wants to be a cop. He failed
but he, is still trying to pursue the endeavor through neighborhood watch.
He was not watching and listening as they are instructing neighborhood
watch to do. He was driving and carrying a loaded gun as well.
CASIMIR: I guess the question becomes, does that make you a bad
person? Does that make you, you know, you want to be a cop? You`re a want
to be person? You are watching people. Is that going to change the jury`s
mind? Or did he do it on his own or did he go to class and get A`s, and he
tried to put --? I don`t think they`re going to reject him or reject the
idea and make him into a bad person because he went to school.
O`DONNELL: This testimony brought in a -- brought up an opportunity
for a kind of larger discussion of self defense law, since there was an
expert in effect on the stand.
And so, I want to show what prosecutor Richard Mantei brought out,
about what they call imperfect self defense, where you use, in effect, too
much self defense, too much power in your self-defense. Let`s listen to
how this exchange went.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARTER: When I talk about what I call imperfect self defense, there
is a situation where you do not need -- the force that you are
encountering, you meet that force disproportionately. It is actually
RICHARD MANTEI, PROSECUTOR: So, I guess in the ultimate level o force
in these scenarios is deadly?
CARTER: Deadly force.
MANTEI: Like a gunshot.
CARTER: Like a gunshot.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Faith Jenkins, that seems to be what this case is all about. Once
that encounter was under way between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman,
what was the proper amount of force to use?
JENKINS: Right, and George Zimmerman was -- is arguing deadly force
was necessary. And the prosecutors are countering that argument with based
on everything we know about George Zimmerman, his attitude towards Trayvon,
before he ever knew him, before he ever saw him, that he called him a punk,
he called him an a-hole, he thought he was a suspect. He was inclined to
over react, he was inclined to be the initial aggressor in the situation.
And he had his gun and it was loaded and ready to be fired.
CASIMIR: Yes. I think there are two directions, though. When you
are going in this direction as a prosecutor, you have to be very careful.
You can`t say with one -- on one side, he was depraved in murderer, second
is degree murder, and then say he was in fight and he overreacted. There
were two very different allegations and they resulted in different
sentences. So, if the prosecution is turning quotations and cause, it is a
sign they may be losing this case. That is not a great move.
O`DONNELL: Faith, if the jury were to go for a lesser charge in terms
of a conviction, do you think it is a -- probably, Gary seems to be saying
there could be a very high risk in the prosecution overcharging at this
stage of the case.
JENKINS: I don`t think the prosecutor overcharged her with second
degree murder, based on the statements that George Zimmerman said about
Trayvon and assuming that he was committing a crime when he was just
walking down the street. And it referred to him as if he was a part of the
group, these people multiple times, putting him in a category with other
people that he saw in the neighborhood that he thought were suspicious.
And they always got away. So, Trayvon was not going to get away.
Now in hindsight, after Trayvon Martin was killed, of course, everyone
learns he was not doing anything wrong. That is why they charged him with
second degree murder and that is understandable. It is a high threshold.
I think there was a possibility they are going to ask for a manslaughter
charge, and there could be a compromised verdict. That`s what happens in a
lot of these cases.
CASIMIR: Well, Faith, I tell you, if they charge him simply because
he used "f," punk, or was a watchman, he thought they did certain crimes,
it is not enough. They got to do a lot more than that.
JENKINS: It is a depraved mid. It is a mindset. That`s what they
CASIMIR: Not enough.
O`DONNELL: Faith Jenkins and Gary Casimir, thank you for joining us
CASIMIR: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up next, the forensics in the case, so far
including the DNA evidence on the gun.
O`DONNELL: A new study by the Government Accountability Office, the
GAO, has found that big American companies are paying a slightly smaller
percentage of their profit in their taxes than middle class Americans pay
in their taxes.
Thanks to the touches and loopholes, large corporations pay on average
a 12.6 percent tax rate, the effective tax rate for American workers making
64, $500,000 is now just a bit higher than that at 12.7 percent. The
actual corporate tax rate is 35 percent. Big corporations pay less than
the lowest tax rate. Mitt Romney admitted to paying 13.6 percent.
Up next, the forensic evidence in the George Zimmerman case.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN GUY, PROSECUTOR: What did you find distance-wise when you
conducted the test with this particular sweat shirt?
AMY SIEWERT, FIREARMS EXPERT: This as well was consistent with
residue and physical effects of a contact shot.
GUY: So again, evidencing that the end of the gun was against the
material when it was fired?
GUY: All right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was firearms expert Amy Siewert, on the stand today
testifying about how close George Zimmerman`s gun was to Trayvon Martin`s
chest when George Zimmerman fired the gun. It was a day when the forensic
testimony was not as much about the DNA that was found as it was about the
DNA that was not found.
The ND analyst for the state, Anthony Gorgone, told the court that the
gun did not show DNA that matched Trayvon Martin. He also said that he
could not find George Zimmerman`s DNA under Trayvon Martin`s fingernails,
or on the cuffs of his hooded sweatshirt. The defense tried to suggest the
evidence was compromised on.
On Don West`s cross examination, the DNA analyst testified about the
condition of Trayvon Martin`s hooded sweatshirt, which he said was wet,
smelled like mold and ammonia and had been put in a plastic biohazard bag,
instead of a brown paper bag.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY GORGONE, DNA ANALYST: Ideally, yes, you would like to air dry
anything you collect especially items and clothing that are we. You would
like to air dry them before you package them. And on top of that, you
know, we encourage our agencies not to put things into plastic bags,
because they don`t allow the evidence to breathe and that will trap in any
kind of moisture.
DON WEST, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And that would be a red flag to you as
analyst that there is something going on that places the evidence at a risk
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now is forensic scientist, Larry Kobilinsky,
chairman of the science department at John Jay College of criminal justice.
Larry, what do you make of that last point about the potential
LARRY KOBILINSKY, I think Mr. Gorgon is absolutely correct.
Biological material has to be kept dry and cold. If you seal these
evidence in a plastic container, moisture is present. And any kind of
bacteria or fungi will grow. And of course, these kinds of organism have
enzymes that will break down DNA. You can lose evidence, valuable
information by storing it the wrong way.
O`DONNELL: But that applies to the sweatshirt, it doesn`t apply to
Trayvon Martin`s fingernails where there was none of George Zimmerman`s
DNA, do you consider that a major finding?
KOBILINSKY: No, I really don`t. I have worked on many cases, looking
at fingernail scrapings in a post-mortem setting. And almost always, you
find no foreign DNA.
Now, I have to add something very important here. The results that
we`re hearing about on the gun and other DNA testing with a failed to find
somebody`s DNA, that is because the testing that is used in this laboratory
in Florida is the normal PCR testing. In New York City, they do a high
sensitivity testing which could have provided different results. I`m not
saying anything is wrong with the results that they got but it might
explain failure to get any DNA where it actually exists.
O`DONNELL: Well, Larry, when they didn`t find the DNA using the
standard level of testing on a case this important, does it surprise you
that they didn`t reach for that higher level of analysis?
KOBILINSKY: That is a very good question. They happened to use it in
New York City. The FBI does not favor this kind of high sensitivity
testing. But there is a lot of research going on. It has been validated.
It has gone through the courts in New York. And it is what is considered
to be a reliable technique.
O`DONNELL: Now, of course, arguing the other way here, had there been
the presence of any Trayvon Martin DNA on the gun, this case would be in a
very different posture tonight?
KOBILINSKY: I think that is correct. You know, finding foreign DNA
on an object, you have got to reconstruct the events and explain it. So
yes, it you had his DNA on the gun, perhaps through touch, touched DNA left
skin cells, then you would have to explain that how did it get there. That
would substantiate the story that Trayvon Martin, not only reached for the
gun, but actually touched the gun.
O`DONNELL: They spent a fair amount of time today with the ballistics
witness. The defense did trying to talk about how close the gun was,
whether it was jammed into Trayvon Martin`s body or not. And she simply
testified that her testimony is simply that the gun was touching Trayvon
Martin`s clothing. And she didn`t distinguish as to whether it was jammed
in there, or not so hardly pushed in there. Do you think there was any
significance to that?
No, I think I saw the evidence she put forward. The gunshot residue
patterns. And clearly, it was a contact shot. The autopsy showed that it
was not. That it was a shot from an intermediate distance. And I think it
was explainable. It was a contact shot.
O`DONNELL: Doctor Kobilinsky, thank you very much got joining us
Chris Hayes is up next.
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