updated 1/23/2014 5:08:00 PM ET 2014-01-23T22:08:00

THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
January 22, 2014


Guest: Hunter Walker, Nick Acocella, Josh Kraushaar, Martha Plimpton,
Antoinette Tuff; Martha Plimpton


RACHEL MADDOW, TRMS HOST: "The recommendations contained in this
commissions report are imminently glittering."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Imminently doable.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MADDOW: How did "doable" become "glittering" in the White House
transcript and then in all the press reports today? I have no idea.

But if this was a really strange meta like gay rights protest by a
disgruntled transcriber in the White House press office, I am all in favor
of fixing whatever they`re mad at because this was really fun today.

Now, it`s time for "THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL".

Have a glittering night.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: We have breaking news tonight. NBC
News has learned that the FBI is questioning witnesses about allegations
that Chris Christie`s administration withheld disaster relief funds for
political reasons.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MAYOR DAWN ZIMMER (D), HOBOKEN, NJ: When the lieutenant governor of
state of New Jersey pulls you aside in a parking lot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She said, she said.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She said, she said.

ZIMMER: She said, I know it`s not right, I know these things should
not be connected.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It`s a case of she said, she said.

ZIMMER: But they are. And if you tell anyone, I`ll deny it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Allegations made by the mayor of Hoboken, New
Jersey.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Charging that Christie`s number two tried to play
politics.

KIM GUADAGNO (R), NEW JERSEY LT. GOV: I deny wholeheartedly those
allegations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the Sandy recovery money.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What was said and what really wasn`t said.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s a lot of facts swirling about in terms of
who said what when.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She said, she said.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She said, she said.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Her allegations have to be looked into.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clearly, she raises serious allegations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It needs to be looked into.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And now to the political circus in New Jersey.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: Breaking news tonight, new developments in the
investigation into Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer allegation`s against the
Christie administration.

NBC News Michael Isikoff reports tonight that FBI agents are
questioning witnesses who Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer says can confirm that
she previously told them about her conversation with Lieutenant Governor
Kim Guadagno last May. Three sources with direct knowledge of that probe
will tell NBC News that FBI agents questioned Dawn Zimmer`s chief of staff
Dan Bryan and her communications Juan Melli, earlier this week.

David Mello, a member of the Hoboken City Council has told NBC News
that Mayor Zimmer told him about her discussion with the lieutenant
governor last summer. Mello said, "I distinctly remember Zimmer saying
that the lieutenant governor said if this came out, she would deny it. I
thought it was absorb and outrageous," said Mello. Adding that he pressed
Zimmer whether she would speak out publicly about what she said took place.

"She told me it was a done deal that Christie was going to be re-
elected and she therefore did not want to jeopardize further funding for
the city." He said Mello, a Zimmer ally, who said he strongly opposed
Christie`s re-election, said he is arranging through the Hoboken City
Council to provide his account to the U.S. attorney`s office.

New Jersey Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno denied the allegations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GUADAGNO: Mayor Zimmer`s version of our conversation in May of 2013
is not only false, but is illogical and does not withstand scrutiny when
all of the facts are examined. I am very surprised by the mayor`s
allegations and I deny wholeheartedly those allegations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Hunter Walker, national affairs reporter
for "Talking Points Memo" and Nick Acocella, editor and publisher of
"Politifax New Jersey."

Hunter, as we`d expect here, we`re going to start to get leaks about
what`s happening in the investigation. And so now, one of the big
questions that has been out there, what kind of possible corroboration is
there for this conversation that only two people participated in. And now,
we`re hearing that the FBI is hearing from people who say that the mayor
back at that time told them about it. That`s just the first of what I`m
assuming will be many leaks about this.

HUNTER WALKER, TPM: Absolutely. I mean, so far, the corroboration
she`s provided leaves quite a bit to be desired. I mean, we`re talking
about second hand conversations. We`re talking about journal entries that,
you know, there`s no carbon dating for these few months old journal
entries.

And we`re also showing letters that she showed off on Anderson Cooper
that say, you know, I`m stunned about the amount of aid I received. And,
you know, I don`t think it should be tied to any development projects.

But all of that is coming from her and could have been fabricated.
So, I think what we as journalists and also the legal investigators need to
do is kind of look at this project and look at the money that was
apportioned out and try to find out whether anything sort of looks amiss.

And, you know, I`ve been doing that so far. I listened to a
presentation from the Christie administration and you can`t tell just yet.

O`DONNELL: Nick Acocella, this whole issue of, you know, fabrication,
you don`t even have to get to that in terms of this kind of evidence
because what you need, if you`re dealing with a criminal prosecution is
evidence beyond a reasonable doubt.

And I think it`s pretty clear that so far what`s out there is not what
you`d call proof. What it is, is suggestive of the possibility that Mayor
Zimmer is suggesting. But I can`t quite imagine a jury at this stage of
the evidence thinking that this is beyond a reasonable doubt.

But in terms of the way this investigation is going to go, and when
you think about it in terms of its political effect as well as its legal
effect, it seems like we will probably be getting dribs and drabs like this
once or twice a week, for the next several weeks. Creating an atmosphere
where it seems just politically impossible for the Christie administration
to operate.

NICK ACOCELLA, POLITIFAX NEW JERSEY: I`m not sure of that. I`m not
sure it makes it impossible to operate.

I mean, I have real doubts about the story, not because I think she
fabricated this. There`s a line -- there`s a line you cross when you meet
something quid pro quo. Everybody in politics knows this. You can talk
about these two things as if they were unrelated, without crossing that
line into a quid pro quo.

I suspect she heard a quid pro quo when there wasn`t one. I don`t
know. I`m trying to give the benefit of the doubt here to the lieutenant
governor and the community affairs commissioner. Both of whom were former
prosecutors. They would know how to stay on the right side of this line.

So, I -- would we see leaks? Yes, you`re not going to get any leaks
from the U.S. attorneys office. You may get leaks from the some of the
people who are called, but that`s not advised.

O`DONNELL: There`s development today, another development on the
legal front, which is Bridget Anne Kelly changed lawyers. She is the
person whose email started this whole thing. The email that says time for
some traffic problems in Fort Lee, that deputy chief of staff.

She is now -- she`s been fired by Chris Christie and she has switched
lawyers today to Michael Critchley after her original lawyer discovered
that he had a conflict of interest that would not allow him to proceed in
the case.

And, Hunter, what it looks like is that she has switched from a very
well wired into the Christie administration lawyer to a lawyer who is
exactly the opposite. He has a long string of contributions to Democratic
candidates in New Jersey, including most recently apparently maxing out to
Cory Booker`s Senate campaign, while not giving a penny to Chris Christie.
So this is a real switch in the dynamics of her defense representation.

WALKER: Well, you`re right, Lawrence. I think a key is something you
alluded to before, which is that her original lawyer, and this is Wally
Timpone, kind of suddenly said he, quote, unquote, "realized" he had a
conflict of interest.

And the conflict of interest was he was an elected commissioner in New
Jersey. And that`s not something you forget that you were.

O`DONNELL: Right.

WALKER: Yes. So, I think what people are thinking happened here was
that she told him that she might be interested in pursuing a deal and
talking about higher ups in the administration and that would have created
a conflict of interest for him.

O`DONNELL: And, Nick, it would seem that the lawyer she has now,
Michael Critchley, is certainly above suspicion in terms of someone who
would have anything other than her best interests at heart in his
representation.

ACOCELLA: Leaving aside what we said about Timpone, I think Critchley
is the guy you go to when you want to fight. He`s a bulldog. He`s widely
respected among the other criminal attorneys who deal with these things in
New Jersey.

He`s one of the best. He really is.

And, but that said I mean, Timpone, lawyers take an oath of office.
They may have ties to the Christie administration, but they take an oath of
office to defend their clients. Did he discover a conflict? Did she not
want him anymore?

I`m not sure we`ll ever know the answer to that.

O`DONNELL: We will struggle to keep a straight face as you talk about
lawyers` oath to the integrity of their work.

Hunter, the -- in terms of the information surrounding the group that
was seeking to influence the mayor in Hoboken, this Rockefeller Group, what
do we know about how they operate in New Jersey?

HUNTER: Right. Well, you know, again, we don`t know they were
directly seeking to influence the mayor yet. This is what -- this is what
Mayor Zimmer alleged.

But I found actually extensive ties, between --

O`DONNELL: Let`s stop it there and let`s not play this completely
Pollyanna. They need a change in the zoning rules in Hoboken, which means
they wanted to influence every elected official in Hoboken to change the
zoning rules, so that they could create their project there. That`s beyond
dispute.

HUNTER: Absolutely. And I noticed they spent hundreds of thousands
of dollars on lobbying in the past couple of years.

So, they did clearly want to influence people there. So it`s clear in
addition to being represented by David Samson`s law firm, and that`s a
Christie ally, they also have a long history with the governor, at least
one of their executives does.

I did the story today and this guy, Les Smith (ph), who kind of led
their Jersey development efforts, has a 10-year history at this history at
this charity that has also been dear to Chris Christie`s heart since at
least 1996. And the two of them attended many events together, including
chairing a party where they were in the VIP private suite of Jets owner
Woody Johnson. So, something is for certain, we know these things go way
back.

O`DONNELL: Nick, you could easily imagine, Chris Christie being
selected to give the Republican response to the State of the Union Address
next week, but he is obviously off the list. What is your understanding of
the way team Christie hopes to kind of get him back into the flow. Why are
these investigations, these very high profile investigations will be going
on and continuing to create headlines?

ACOCELLA: They have to play out every one of these investigations.
They have no alternative. The legislative investigation is not going away.

The U.S. attorney is not going away. And they`re all going to take
time to play out. I don`t see -- the best thing that Christie people can
do is ignore it all and forge ahead with the things they planned to do.
They`re not going to get a whole lot of cooperation from the legislature on
things like a tax cut. But forge ahead and do what you`re going to do
anyway, because they can`t control these other things.

O`DONNELL: Nick Acocella and Hunter Walker, thank you both for
joining me tonight.

WALKER: Thanks for having me.

ACOCELLA: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the woman who saved herself and her school from
possible mass murder.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If I walk out there with him, they won`t shoot
him or anything like that. He wants to give himself up. Is that OK? They
won`t shoot him?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Antoinette Tuff will tell us how she got through that
brush with death.

And in the "Rewrite" tonight, the most important Republican campaign
lawyer in history says that voter fraud is rare. Let`s see if the
Republican pushing voter ID laws will push him now.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)

O`DONNELL: That is the new video the Mayor Rob Ford of Toronto has to
apologize for this week and he did that today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROB FORD, TORONTO MAYOR: My personal life does not interfere with the
work I do day in and day out for the taxpayers of this great city.

Monday was unfortunate. I had a minor setback. We all experience
these difficult bumps in life. I am telling the Toronto residents that I`m
still working hard every day to improve my health and my well being.

But, again, this is a completely private matter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: We do not yet know who will deliver the Republican
response to President Obama`s State of the Union address on Tuesday. But
we do know who will deliver the Tea Party response. Tea Party Senator Mike
Lee, Ted Cruz`s favorite partner on the Senate floor will step up to the
microphone for the Tea Party.

Tea Party Express Chairwoman Amy Cramer says, "For the Tea Party
movement 2014 is not just for taking back the Senate, but is also about
putting forward conservative ideas that will allow for America to prosper.
Senator Mike Lee has been a Tea Party hero for supporters across the nation
and a conservative leader in the upper chamber.

Joining me now is MSNBC.com, executive director Richard Wolffe, and
Josh Kraushaar, executive editor of "National Journal Hotline".

Richard, I think the Senate would be surprised to learn that Mike Lee
has been a leader of any kind in the United States Senate. But the Tea
Party is sure happy with him.

RICHARD WOLFFE, MSNBC.COM: Yes, I guess he gets points for showing
up. But, you know, I guess Michelle Bachmann and her strange camera angles
were not available. You know, this is a movement that has fizzled and is
looking for a face, any face that can sound reasonable. Or if not
reasonable, then at least get some headlines.

And the response here is not the point. What they want to do is be
annoying and inflammatory. And I`m sure they`ll find someone to do that.

O`DONNELL: Josh, is there someone who should obviously be chosen to
do the Republican, the official Republican response?

JOSH KRAUSHAAR, NATIONAL JOURNAL HOTLINE: No, I think the most like
choice of governor, maybe someone like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker who
just gave the State of the State address in his home state tonight.

But the Republicans are trying to showcase their leaders from outside
the Congress. I think it`s more likely than not, you`ll have an executive.
But, you know, I find it striking that we`re even having a Tea Party
address in addition to the Republican Party address, especially given that
Mike Lee has been trying to ingratiate himself with the Republican Party.

He`s been leading some -- he gave a speech about a month ago about
proposing economic pocketbook issues, proposals trying to make the
Republican Party more attractive to middle class voter. But yet, he`s
giving a separate address, a Tea Party address showing that there`s some
divide still within the Republican Party. I find that divide that`s still
been there within the GOP very fascinating.

O`DONNELL: Yes, the Tea Party has really helped Mike Lee really drive
his numbers down in Utah. Let`s look at who has given the Republican
response to President Obama`s State of the Union Addresses.

We have a slide here, I believe. First of all, that`s the Tea Party
response. We don`t want that. I want the Republican responses.

There we are. Bobby Jindal in 2009, Bob McDonnell in 2010, Paul Ryan
in 2011, Mitch Daniels, and Marco Rubio. And so, Richard, that list
indicates that if you get chosen to give the Republican response of the
State of the Union address, you have an equal chance of being picked to run
for vice president or being indicted.

WOLFFE: Indicted, right. Yes.

O`DONNELL: So, out there is hoping to be chosen for that price of
responding for the Republican Party.

WOLFFE: You would think by now, they would realize it`s the kiss of
death. Look, you`re set up to fail. The president gives this big address.
He`s got the whole chamber there. There are people standing and sitting.
And it`s just one of the great set pieces of American politics each year.

And then the response is flat and there`s no audience. And they`re
reading badly from a teleprompter. It`s hideous environment to try and
even compete.

So, I think it would be a lot better if they took this Super Bowl
halftime show and then at least had some entertainment piece of it, because
the whole sort of governor`s mansion fake Oval Office scenario is death for
these people.

O`DONNELL: Now, if we wanted to be mean about this, we would of
course be running the video of Marco Rubio reaching for the water, just as
a loop as we talk about this responding to the president, and the
Republican address. But, Richard, I think that Rubio experience points out
just kind of how hopeless a task it is.

But I want to go back to that list of the Tea Party responders,
starting in 2011. We have Michelle Bachmann up there. Herman Cain, Rand
Paul. Now, it`s going to be Mike Lee.

And Josh, only two of those people have a political career left at
this point. So, that`s also kind of a road to nowhere doing that Tea Party
response.

KRAUSHAAR: Yes, Lawrence, it just underscoring the real deep divide
in the Republican Party right now that you need a separate Republican Party
address. And most of the people you mentioned with the exception of Herman
Cain are elected officials. They`re in the Congress and they work with the
Republican leadership the past legislation. Yet they can`t work together
to have one cohesive response.

And, you know, Lawrence, it goes to show just how deeply divided the
Republican Party is between the Rand Paul, the Ted Cruz wing, both
senators, but deeply at odds with their leadership. You have the more
establishment folks led by Boehner, Cantor and folks in leadership, they
just can`t even see eye to eye on who`s giving a GOP response.

O`DONNELL: Josh Kraushaar and Richard Wolffe, thank you both very
much for joining me tonight.

WOLFFE: Thanks, Lawrence.

KRAUSHAAR: Thanks.

O`DONNELL: Coming up next, Republicans know they have a problem with
women voters.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REINCE PRIEBUS, RNC CHAIRMAN: When Republicans lost in November, it
was a wake-up call. We want to build your party. And we want to do it
with bold strokes to show that we`re up to the challenge and we`re done
with business as usual.

The report offered some specific examples of areas where Republicans
fell short in this regard, highlighting the ways that some groups of voters
have been turned off. It also highlighted examples of Republican
innovation, particularly among our governors that have won over new voters.
These governors provide new ideas for the way forward.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: You know, governors like, you know, Republican governors
like -- you know, well, never mind.

Today, the Republican Party reaffirmed its anti-abortion rights
position with Reince Priebus and House majority leader Eric Cantor,
attended the annual for March for Life rally in Washington, D.C.

The Republican Party is now considering a new resolution which says
pro-life Republicans should fight back against deceptive rhetoric
regardless of those in the Republican Party who encourage them to stay
silent, staying silent fails to alert voters to the Democrats` extreme pro-
abortion stances which the Republicans are repelled by.

The National Republican Committee will support Republican pro-life
candidates who fight back against Democratic deceptive war on women
rhetoric. Of course, encouraging Republican candidates to talk about
abortion has in some cases guaranteed the election of the Democrat.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about in the case of rape? Should it be
legal or not?

TODD AKIN (R), FORMER MISSOURI CONGRESSMAN: Well, you know, people
always want to try to make that as one of those things -- well, how do you
slice this particularly tough sort of ethical question? It seems to me
first of all, from what I understand from doctors, that`s really rare. If
it`s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole
thing down.

RICHARD MOURDOCK (R), FORMER SENATE CANDIDATE: I struggled with it
myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is a gift from God and
when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something
that God intended to happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now: actor and reproductive rights activist,
Martha Plimpton, and Karen Finney, host of MSNBC`s "DISRUPT" and a board
member of NARAL Pro-Choice America.

Martha, so the Republicans are urging Republicans to not listen to
those Republicans who are telling them to be silent about abortion. I
didn`t know there were Republicans saying be silent about abortion.

MARTHA PLIMPTON, ACTRESS: I didn`t know that either because they
haven`t been. Particularly in the -- they`re not very good at it,
particularly in the last two year whence we`ve seen more legislation on in
issue than the last 40, basically. No, I mean --

O`DONNELL: And the wildest rhetoric, as we just saw. In those
example, there`s a long period of time they weren`t -- they had an anti-
abortion stance, but they weren`t saying outright loony things like that.

PLIMPTON: Well, essentially what it`s come down to at this point is
that, they`re asking us to basically accept that the new idea is that a
woman who is pregnant is no longer a full vested citizen of the United
States. As soon as a woman becomes pregnant her rights under the
constitution are suddenly now void. It`s a very interesting tactic to use
if you`re trying to communicate with 51 percent of the American population
and get them to vote for you. To essentially say, you know what at the end
of the day, you may be a citizen now, but the minute you get pregnant, the
state owns you and we can make decisions about your body whether you like
it or not.

That`s not -- and I think anybody with a very basic understanding of
constitutional law knows that`s absurd and also completely morally
untenable position to take. No matter how you feel about abortion.

O`DONNELL: Karen Finney, wearing your political strategist hat, how
are the Republicans doing on their much needed appeal to women voters?

FINNEY: Well, you know, a "National Journal" poll last fall said that
33 percent of women felt that the Republican party was actually moving
farther away from them and was too extreme. So just by that and by the
fact that Pat McCrory, the governor of North Carolina, who said he wouldn`t
sign anti-abortion measure, then he got re-elected, then he signed it, then
he tanked in the polls. You know, and then Terry McAuliffe`s win in
Virginia, and one of the key messages that was most effective was talking
about Ken Cuccinelli`s position on abortion.

I`m just saying, as a political strategist type, there`s some data out
there to suggest that what they`re doing is not working. Just last week,
you had Trent Franks say in a hearing that, you know, he didn`t really
think you could get pregnant, you know, from rape, right? Because part of
hb-7 that I ear trying to pass means the IRS gets to decide if a woman has
been raped and can therefore deduct her medical expenses from her taxes.

O`DONNELL: And Martha, the Republican Party isn`t even close to
representing the country`s view of abortion, which is, of course, that it`s
primarily a supports Rowe versus Wade, a majority. But it`s also, it`s
almost unanimous outside of politics that people accept the idea of
certainly exceptions for rape and incest and that sort of thing. And there
are huge number of Republicans, probably most of them in Congress who do
not accept those exceptions.

PLIMPTON: Right. Well, this is part of the problem when you have
religion creeping into, you know, the political process in the country. I
mean, you see an increase in religious basis for, you know, policy. Which
is, you know, obviously not what our founders intended, clearly.

But you`re right, the majority of American, seven out of ten of us,
believe that a woman has the right to control her own medical decisions and
terminate a pregnancy should she choose to. We prefer to think about it in
terms of an absolute right, whether it`s the result of a rape or incest or
not. The circumstances of that pregnancy really aren`t relevant. What
matters is what that woman chooses to do with her own body.

FINNEY: Can I just add, so much of what this conversation is about
and why the war on women has been so effective as a way to talk about this
is, women feel like they are under siege. When you are telling a woman
that she cannot be trusted to make personal, private medical decisions, or
make decisions about when she wants to start a family or who she wants to
start a family with, if you don`t trust that woman to be able to be capable
of making those decisions, why should we think you trust us to do anything
else, to be CEO, to be president, to be a senator.

I mean, it really -- and if you look at the measures that are being
passed at the state level, chipping away, chipping away and then a level of
the conversation, it`s insulting to women. And I think that`s part of what
the Republican party does not get. In addition to the fact that seven in
ten Americans support the principles of Rowe, it`s also that women are
offended by the rhetoric that they`re using.

O`DONNELL: Former Republican governor Tim Pawlenty is trying to talk
sense to his party. He said this today.

Elections are marketplaces and markets adjust over time, and there`s
no better incentive for market adjustments than repeatedly getting your
butt kicked. It will adjust, it always does. It`s just a question of is
it going to adjust over 12 months or 12 years.

And then Martha, he went on to say that they need new ideas. They
can`t stay with the policies that are leading them to losses.

PLIMPTON: Yes, I agree with them. They do need new ideas. I mean,
when you see women in Texas who`ve had one third of their clinics shut down
by their Republican administration going to Mexico for illegal medication
abortion, because women are going to get those abortions, whether they`re
safe or not, they are going to get them, yes, you need a new policy.
Absolutely.

I mean, there is -- it`s proof enough that the policies that they`re
enacting don`t work considering the effects they`re having on women. We
know that access to abortion and abortion services and reproductive health
services in general make women healthier. Shutting down their clinics,
making it impossible for them to exercise their rights, making it
impossible for them to see a doctor, this does not make them healthier.
That`s a fact.

There`s a lot of argument here about, you know, the idea that there`s
some sort of post abortion syndrome and that these laws being passed are
sort of meant to protect women`s health. Which is, of course, an
incredibly condescending thing to suggest. They are not in any way
protecting women`s health. They are entirely ignoring women`s actual lives
and health.

We know for a fact, for example, there was a study that was just
released today by doctor of the UC San Francisco, talking about what the
results are for women who are denied abortion care, who are turned away.
And we have seen that they are three times as likely within two years to
fall below the poverty line.

So these decisions have real meat and potatoes effects on people`s
lives, too. This isn`t just about emotion. This is about actual -- this
is about economics, this is about social mobility, this is about women`s
ability to participate, get an education, and follow their own dreams and
their own potential, you know, not just the potential of a fetus.

O`DONNELL: Martha Plimpton, great to have you in the studio here in
L.A. tonight, by which, of course, I mean, (INAUDIBLE) and Karen Finney,
thanks for joining us. Karen`s show is at 4:00 p.m. on weekends on MSNBC.

Martha and Karen, thank you both.

PLIMPTON: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up in the rewrite, voter fraud is rare. Minuscule.
Says who? The most important Republican election lawyer ever.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: A 70-year-old murder case that ended with the execution of
a 14-year-old boy in South Carolina in 1944 will continue to be
reconsidered for about another two weeks. Lawyers are asking a judge to
reopen the murder case that ended with the execution of George Stinney,
5`1", 95-pound. George Stinney was convicted of killing two white girls,
ages seven and 11 as they hunted for wild flowers in Alculo, South
Carolina. His family has always insisted he didn`t do it.

In court today, a niece of one of the victims testified that she
believes the conviction needs to be, quote, "left as is." A forensic
psychiatrist also testified and said it was her opinion that George
Stinney`s alleged confession is best characterized as, quote, "coerced,
compliant, false and not reliable." Judge Carmen Mullen has decided to
give the prosecution ten days to review a legal brief introduced this week
before she makes a decision.

"The Rewrite" is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want to thank every
American who participated in this election. Whether you voted for the very
first time or waited in line for a very long time -- by the way, we have to
fix that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And here who is President Obama turned to fix that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are we going to win, Mr. Ginsburg?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: By tomorrow, the stains of Bill Clinton will be
washed away and honor and dignity will finally be restored to the White
House.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Well, that was actually, of course, the great Bob
(INAUDIBLE) playing Republican Ginsberg who directed the Army of lawyers
who descended on Florida for the Bush-Gore recount, a recount being the
name of that HBO movie that tells the story of how the 2000 election ended
up in court where Ben Ginsburg and his Republican lawyers beat the
Democratic lawyers and delivered the presidency to the man who came in
second in the popular vote.

Here is the real Ben Ginsberg when he was working his magic in the
recount.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN GINSBERG, LAWYER: Point of fact, we believe the original
certification is valid, the election night results are valid, the first
recount results are valid then a ongoing process of searching for a new set
of rules by which to try and change the results of the election is not
what`s contemplated by Florida law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: When President Obama appointed a bipartisan commission to
recommend ways of improving our voting process, he had no doubt who he
wanted to run it. He wanted his campaign lawyer and Mitt Romney`s campaign
lawyer to be the co-chairs of that commission. And so Ben Ginsberg who, of
course, was Mitt Romney`s campaign lawyer, co-chaired the commission along
with Robert Bauer, President Obama`s campaign lawyer. They enlisted the
help of other experts and spent six months studying the issues and today
issued a 112-page report.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: I asked my top attorney during my election campaign, Bob
Bauer, to join with Mitt Romney`s top attorney in 2012, Ben Ginsberg, to
co-chair this commission. I think it`s fair to say that they may have
voted for different candidates in 2012, but what they shared was a
reputation for integrity, for smarts, and a commitment to making sure our
democracy works the way it`s supposed to.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The document they issued today is the report and
recommendations of the presidential commission on election administration.
But it should be simply be known as the Ginsberg report. Because the most
important thing about this report is that the Republican party`s fiercest
election lawyer supports all of the findings and recommendations of this
report which amounts to a very sharp rebuke to Republicans in various
states around the country who have been doing everything they can to
restrict voter rights by, among other things, restricting early voting.

It was Republicans in states like Florida who gave us obscenely long
voting lines in 2012, despite the fact that we had known for a long time
how to shorten those lines. The Ginsberg report says no citizen should
have to wait more than 30 minutes to vote. The report is filled with very
specific guidance about how to speed up voter lines, including, of course,
early voting.

Here`s one example of the level of detail in the commission`s report.
Election officials should pretest the length of time it takes an average
voter to vote a ballot in order to accurately estimate how many poll
workers, machines and voting stations will be needed at each voting
location. That, of course, is something that election officials should
have been doing forever.

The commission has some more very modern recommendations such as
voters should be given better information on line length before they go to
the polling place, such as providing an internet feed from individual
polling places. The commission has recommendations to improve overseas
voting and military voting and it has a word to say about voter fraud, and
barely more than a word.

Fraud is rare, but when it does occur, absentee ballots are often the
method of choice. So there`s Ben Ginsberg, the most effective Republican
campaign lawyer in history, the one who lawyered the Republican candidate
into the presidency in 2000 telling Americans that have fraud is rare.

And in those rare cases, when it does happen, it doesn`t happen at the
ballot box. It happens in absentee ballots, which means that the
Republican push for voter id`s at the ballot box is based on a fantasy.
Voter IDs are not used in the most common form of voter fraud, which is
absentee ballots. The report has another word to say about fraud in the
footnotes. Where it says the frequency of vote fraud is minuscule.

Now, that ought to quiet down all the Republicans clamoring for voter
ID law, but we won`t be surprised if it doesn`t because the voter ID laws
have never been about stopping minuscule voter fraud. They have been about
stopping voting. They have been about putting whatever hurdles Republicans
could think of in front of voters who Republicans believe will not vote for
them.

The Ginsberg report won`t stop Republicans from trying to do that, but
we can thank Ben Ginsberg tonight for providing some much need ammunition
for everyone who is fighting for voter rights in this country.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Antoinette Tuff who risked her own life to save her own
life and the lives of children and teachers at the school where she worked.
And she did it by talking a man with an assault weapon into giving himself
up to police. She will join me next to tell her story.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: One day last August, a man armed with an AK-47 and almost
500 rounds of ammunition entered McNair elementary school in Decatur,
Georgia, a school with 870 students. And the front office, he encountered
bookkeeper Antoinette Tuff who managed to convince him to surrender and
turn himself over to police, saving those 870 students and their teachers.
Antoinette Tuff managed to stay on the line with 911 while she was talking
to the gunman.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTOINETTE TUFF, SCHOOL BOOKKEEPER: He said he should have just went
to the mental hospital instead of doing this because he`s not on his
medication.

Do you want me to try asking for help? You want to talk to them?
Want me to talk to them?

OK, let me talk to them and let`s see if we can work it out so you
don`t have to go away with them for a long time.

No, it does matter. I can let them know that you haven`t tried to
harm anyone or anything with me. But that doesn`t make any difference.
You didn`t hit anybody.

OK, let me ask you this, ma`am. He didn`t shoot anybody, He just
shot outside the door. If I walk out with them, they won`t shoot him or
anything. He wants to get himself up. Is that OK? They won`t shoot him?
He says he just wants to go to the hospital. OK.

She said hold on. She`s going to talk to the police officer. And
I`ll go out there with you. Well, don`t feel bad. My husband left me
after 33 years.

Yes, you do. I`m sitting here with you and talking to you about it.
Multiple disabled. We are not going to hate you, baby. It`s a good thing
that you giving up. We not going to hate you. It`s going to be all right,
sweetheart. I just want you to know that I love you, though, OK? And I`m
proud of you. That`s a good thing that you did giving up and don`t worry
about it. We all go through something in life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, the heroic Antoinette Tuff, her new book
"Prepared for a Purpose" is in stores now.

Antoinette, the nation was riveted when we heard that 911 call. It
remains to me one of the most amaze things I`ve ever heard. Talk about
your feelings. When you -- was there a moment in your conversation with
him where you felt I think I can make some progress with him?

TUFF: No. Remember that he was unstable in all his ways. He had
already came into the door, allowing me to know that he had not taken his
medicine, that he was coming in to steal, kill and destroy.

O`DONNELL: And there`s an amazing passage in your book where you talk
about the moment you had you could have escaped before he settled in with
you. You said, this was my chance to run out the backdoor, hopefully
before he noticed and turned his rifle on me. I tried to move my feet but
nothing happened. I tried again and they still didn`t move. It was now or
never. If I didn`t run now, I might not get another chance. The gunman
stopped shooting and walked back into the front office and slammed the door
behind him, huffing and puffing. I was still there behind my desk. Turned
out, I wasn`t supposed to run.

That -- that decision that your body made, whether your brain made it
or not, turned out to be the right decision for everyone.

TUFF: Yes. I knew that even though I wanted to leave, I knew that
there were over 800 and some students in that school that day. Also
parents and teachers. And also me and the gunman. And it was very
important for me that day that everyone got out safely.

O`DONNELL: And it sounded like you were finding, you were trying to
find areas of familiarity with him. When you were talking to him, I mean,
when you mentioned that your husband had just left you after 33 years, you
talked about your son. Were you consciously doing that as a way to bond
with him?

TUFF: No. The thing was that I understood his pain. I was actually
in that pain myself, just months earlier. When my husband decide to leave
me after 33 years. Remember, I had been with this man since I was 13 years
old, so all I knew was him. So I understood that pain, because that same
pain I had experienced myself.

O`DONNELL: I want to share with you a moment that occurred on this
show towards the end of the year when we had our year-end awards show and
we were choosing the person of the year. I chose Nelson Mandela and I want
to show you what happened when I asked my guests who they were choosing.
Let`s listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Antoinette Tuff.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, really. Because when the NRA says the only
thing that can stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. This
woman single handedly not only saved lives but changed the course of that
ridiculous debate to show that the thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is
a country with a heart. And she has a heart.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And we don`t hear him, we hear her simply
testifying and ministering to him about his issues. He is off his
medication at this point. And she comes quickly calms him down, comfort
this (INAUDIBLE) and just amazing thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Antoinette, I`m sure you realized you are a hero to a lot
of people.

TUFF: Thank you so much. I don`t feel like I`m a hero. I just feel
like I`m actually the vessel for God being used.

O`DONNELL: Well, we are really lucky you were in that school that
day. Antoinette Tuff, thank you very much for joining us.

TUFF: Thank you so much, it was a pleasure to be on the show (ph)
with you today.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

TUFF: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes is up next.

END

Copyright 2014 CQ-Roll Call, Inc. All materials herein are protected by
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>




T