updated 2/13/2014 3:28:28 PM ET 2014-02-13T20:28:28

THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
February 12, 2014

Guests: Brian Murphy, Nina Turner, Larry Hannan; Mark Thompson



LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: With the storm that is ravaging the
South heading North, Chris Christie canceled his town meeting in New Jersey
tomorrow, and a New Jersey newspaper is now calling for Christie to quit
the Republican Governors Association.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chris Christie is coming off a successful trip to
Illinois.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He raised big money for the Republican Governors
Association.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was great.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was pretty good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That hardly means that he`s in good shape.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There were calls back in Jersey for him to give
that gig up and get back to actually being something of a governor.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (D), NEW JERSEY: The people of New Jersey have
given me the opportunity to serve.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It would be better for the RGA if he just stayed
home.

CHRISTIE: To work every day, night and day, to make New Jersey all it
can be.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, the RGA has a vice chair.

CHRISTIE: In short, to be the governor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s undeniable that the RGA job is a major
distraction.

CHRISTIE: I have a job to do.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Especially when heat on top of the scandals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The good day is when he cleaned house, when he
hires the new staff.

CHRISTIE: My job is to be governor of the state of New Jersey.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When he gets control of his governor`s office --

CHRISTIE: For the next four years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He`s trying to go back to talking about what he
thinks are going to be the big themes of 2016 and beyond.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Christie`s mind, he clearly still is a
presidential candidate.

CHRISTIE: I am not preoccupied with that number.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His poll numbers as far as running against
Hillary have jumped off the George Washington Bridge.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You guys worry about the bridge, I`m going to
worry about the contract.

CHRISTIE: I`m going to finish the job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Christie`s focus is on showing he`s still in the
game politically nationally.

CHRISTIE: No one is going to stop me from doing my job.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: With a possibly huge snowstorm bearing down on New Jersey
and New York tomorrow, Chris Christie canceled his town meeting in New
Jersey tomorrow. Governor Christie who spent yesterday in Chicago trying
to raise money for the Republican gubernatorial campaigns was greeted with
an editorial in his state`s biggest newspaper this morning, telling him to
quit the job of running the Republican Governors Association and return to
the job of running the executive branch of government in New Jersey.

"The Star Ledger" editorial said, "He has a job to do in Trenton that
he is neglecting. Few have noticed that New Jersey faces a fiscal crisis.
Our credit rating is dropping. Our structural deficit is rated as the
worst in the nation by researchers at George Mason University and now the
chairman of the state senate budget committee is warning of giant revenue
short falls and with funds devoted to transit and open space purchases,
both bankrupt, Christie has proposed no fix.

Keep in mind that the bulk of Christie`s senior staff ensnared in if
the bridgegate scandal as well. So who is minding the store?

It is undeniable that the RGA job is a major distraction, especially
when heat on top of the scandals. So give it up, Governor. Time to focus
on the job you were hired to do."

Governor Christie is already scheduled to travel for the Republican
Governors Association meetings in Massachusetts, Utah, Georgia, and
Connecticut. A poll released today shows Chris Christie`s national
favorability rating dropping, with 46 percent now viewing Chris Christie
unfavorably. The Marist McClatchy poll also shows that in the matchup with
Hillary Clinton, Chris Christie runs behind Hillary Clinton by 21 points.

The only Republican to fare worse against Hillary Clinton in that poll
is Sarah Palin, who said this about Chris Christie yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH PALIN (R), FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: You know, I just don`t know
all the information out there. But it`s hard to be the CEO of an
organization and not know what the closest people to you are up to. It`s
tough not to know.

I know when I was mayor and manager of this city and governor of the
state, certainly you know what your top aides are up to. You blow it if
you ever try to hide anything. You know? Whatever is hidden eventually
light shines upon it. So, oh man, you know, I just hope that the truth is
being told.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now is Sam Stein, an MSNBC political analyst
and reporter with "The Huffington Post".

And Brian Murphy, professor at Baruch College, and former political
reporter in New Jersey. Brian worked for David Wildstein in 2002 in New
Jersey at politicsnj.com. He`s also friends with Bill Baroni.

Sam Stein --

SAM STEIN, HUFFINGTON POST: Yes?

O`DONNELL: -- with friends like Sarah Palin --

(LAUGHTER)

O`DONNELL: -- there is a hardy defense, huh?

STAIN: Oh, God. The bus, it`s moving so fast over Chris Christie.

You know, she didn`t do him any favors with that statement. But if
you step back and you ask the question, is it likely that he knew or should
he have known? She probably has a point, which is that -- and it gets to
the big problem here for Chris Christie is that either way he`s sort of
damned. Either he didn`t know and didn`t have good control over his staff
members and they were running wild underneath him without him having any
knowledge or he did know.

And this is sort of existential problem that Christie faces. Either
way, either explanation is a bad one. And, you know, I guess we`ll find
out which one is true. But either way, it hurts him politically.

O`DONNELL: Yes, his best defense is I`m completely unfit to be
president because I delegate, as I he said, enormous authority to my staff
and my cabinet, and he went on to say, Brian, they have humiliated and
embarrassed me.

BRIAN MURPHY, BARUCH COLLEGE: Right.

O`DONNELL: We got a stack of subpoenas today, Brian, going after more
documents and targeting kind of specifically what they`re going after.
Walk us through this latest round of subpoenas.

MURPHY: The main -- the interesting thing about what`s going on here
is we see the investigation shifting a bit from looking into the bridge
lane closures into looking into the cover-up and the explanation that`s
provided on the bridge --

O`DONNELL: Especially that testimony that Bill Baroni gave to the New
Jersey legislature.

MURPHY: This paper, right. When I look at this, I can see at least -
- this is a mark-up that was included in the original document dump. When
you look at how this was edited, you can find two people writing on here,
neither of whom are Bill Baroni.

Both look to me, my historian eyes, I usually look at handwriting
that`s 200 years old, but in this case, it`s pretty clear, these both look
like women which, and one of them is written in a very lawyerly way, which
to me looks a lot like it came out of Trenton.

O`DONNELL: What is the document that was talked about?

MURPHY: This is the testimony that Bill Baroni gave to the state
assembly back in the fall. It wasn`t under oath. If it had been under
oath, he probably couldn`t have made it.

And when they were going to ask him to do this again under oath the
next day, he resigned from his position at the Port Authority.

So, this is kind of -- this becomes kind of a smoking gun on putting
you in Trenton.

O`DONNELL: What these subpoenas are all aiming for is who advised him
to say what in that testimony that we now know to contain things that
aren`t true, like the traffic study.

MURPHY: And, I mean, the most disingenuous thing in the testimony is
saying that these are Fort Lee-only lanes, which, you know, probably to
other people in the country who just think this is about a traffic jam,
they don`t understand, you can use these lanes anywhere and anyone driving
in the area, I`ve used these lanes. I don`t live in Fort Lee.

But when traffic gets backed up, you can go into Fort Lee, you can use
this as a short cut to get on to the bridge. They`re calling them only
Fort Lee lanes. And they`re building a case for the permanent closure for
these lanes and making a political argument that this is somehow unfair.
This is an unfair advantage given to only one town, 4.5 percent of the
people are using this which is just -- it`s just a disingenuous argument.
The people in the area know that and the people making the argument know
it`s a disingenuous argument.

So, the question is, what is the motive?

O`DONNELL: Yes, Sam Stein, what these subpoenas show is that the
legislative committee is doing a very professional job of trying to dig
very precisely at facts and doing it through documents. They`re not even
asking people for testimony yet.

And there`s Chris Christie clinging to the Republican Governors
Association job almost as if this isn`t happening. And then the biggest
newspaper in the state this morning says to him, hey, come on, this is
absolutely ridiculous. You`ve got to stay here.

STEIN: Well, yes. It`s not almost as if this isn`t happening. It`s
as if this isn`t happening. He is acting as if there`s no scandal back
home, in part because there`s not much more he can do. He needs to go on
and pretend that it`s business as usual.

The RGA is dependent on him to raise huge amounts of money and it does
appear he`s still doing that. They`ve raised $6 million or so in January,
in part because the RGA has an enormously difficult slate of elections that
it has to work with this cycle.

And Chris Christie has two main problems. One is the New Jersey
problem. That`s obviously the biggest one. But the second is that as head
of the RGA, he`s going to be saddled potentially with some very bad losses.
You look at Rick Scott, you look at John Kasich.

He will have local and state profile complimented or exacerbated on
his national profile and he`s in a tough position in both those.

O`DONNELL: Brian, you know a lot of the players around Christie
world. Is there someone who can say to him the time has come. You`ve got
to let go of this Republican Governors Association.

MURPHY: We`ll find out. I mean, it`s not clear to me who -- I think
we`re at this stage where it`s hard to tell whose advice --

O`DONNELL: Let me ask you this. Has there ever been in the Christie
structure someone who in that Christie structure who in that difficult
moment could really be the one who walks in there and says the thing that
that governor absolutely does not want to hear, has to hear, and has to
ultimately act on?

MURPHY: I think so. And that person isn`t on his staff. That person
is one of his long-time fundraisers, someone who helped him become the
United States attorney. But I don`t --

O`DONNELL: Who is that?

MURPHY: A guy named Bill Palatucci (ph).

O`DONNELL: He comes out in these stories.

MURPHY: Yes. I suspect that Palatucci. I`m not sure anyone work on
Christie`s staff can do that. So, I`m not sure how many -- the structure
of the governor`s office and the structure of the actual power around
Christie aren`t actually --

O`DONNELL: Sam, before we go, I just want to say -- this was one of
the things that strikes me about it. The image you have of Christie staff,
just as Brian was saying, these aren`t people who are a strong, brave group
willing to march right in there and tell him the bad news, which also says
to me, they are not people who would likely be willing to freelance
anything that the governor had not approved.

STEIN: Yes. I think that`s true. But I think what we`re getting at
is sort of the problem going forward, too, which is you have an already
overstretched staff, a gubernatorial staff there to run a state which is
now preoccupied in trying to save themselves. They are embroiled in this
scandal, in part because the governor has said it`s on my staff.

And you have to question, who`s actually running the show, how are
they conducting business? Is this affecting the administration of state
jobs? You know, that`s a big question mark surrounding the governor.

O`DONNELL: Sam Stein and Brian Murphy, thank you both very much for
joining me tonight.

Coming up, Republicans in the all-important presidential swing state
of Ohio are now threatening voter rights in that state. And the man who
killed 17-year-old Jordan Davis took the witness stand and used the stand
your ground defense in his Florida murder trial. Tonight, a jury is
deciding that case.

And you won`t believe -- you will not believe what a Texas
sportscaster had to say about Michael Sam playing in the NFL. That is in
tonight`s "Rewrite."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: When Republicans threaten voter rights in Ohio, I have a
feeling that State Senator Nina Turner will have something to say about
that. She`ll join me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Citizenship means
standing up for everyone`s right to vote. Last year, part of the vote
rights act was weakened, but conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats
are working together to strengthen it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)]

O`DONNELL: But in Ohio, Republicans are not working to make the
voting rights stronger. They are passing a new bill that will make it
harder to vote. It will put limits on the use of absentee ballots and cut
early voting by almost a week, which will eliminate the ability of voters
to both register and vote early on the same day.

State Senator Frank Larose who is the sponsor of that bill told "The
Associated Press" those changes are necessary because same day registration
and voting, quote, "perpetuates an election system that is susceptible to
voter fraud."

An investigation of voter fraud by the Republican Secretary of State
John Husted found that out of 5.63 million votes cast in the last
presidential election, there were 135 possible -- just possible -- voter
fraud cases referred to law enforcement just for more investigation. That
is about 2/100 of 1 percent of the voters.

Joining me now are Nina turner, Ohio state senator and a candidate for
Ohio secretary of state, and MSNBC`s Krystal Ball.

Senator Turner, so how many convictions do you get in a typical year
or in any year in Ohio on voter fraud?

I`m not impressed by this number of, this is how many referrals we
made to law enforcement to investigate. I want to know how many cases they
actually brought and got a conviction on, because that conviction tells me
how many actual instances of voter fraud we can prove.

SEN. NINA TURNER (D), OHIO: Absolutely, Lawrence. Never let the
arithmetic get in the way of a good story. And that`s what they have going
right now. I mean, so far, there`s only been one conviction right now.

O`DONNELL: Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait. Senator, you said one. That`s
not possible, because you wouldn`t pass a big giant law to interfere with
the actions of exactly one person in Ohio who`s trying to vote fraudulently
and then make it difficult for thousands and thousands and thousands other
legal voters. No one would do that. It can`t be one!

TURNER: They`re doing it, Lawrence. This really gets in the way of
thousands of voters having access to the ballot box, not only in this state
but across the country. It is wrong. That`s what the GOP is doing not
only in the state of Ohio but across the country.

O`DONNELL: Krystal Ball, they have one case. One case and they`re
going forward to stop that.

KRYSTAL BALL, THE CYCLE: Well, and here`s the thing, even if you
grant them, which we don`t, but even if you were to give them the benefit
of doubt and say, OK, we believe that you are actually concerned about the
integrity of elections and are not just trying to disenfranchise voters, if
you grant them that --

O`DONNELL: Boy, that`s hard. That`s hard. I`m trying to do it.
It`s really hard.

BALL: I know. Just bear with me for a minute.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

BALL: There`s a bipartisan report that just came out that the
president talked about in the State of the Union that recommended if you`re
concerned about the election integrity, the thing to do is to expand early
voting and to focus on voter registration, modernizing voter registration,
making sure there`s coordination between the states. But somehow that
never comes up in the Republicans` list of things they want to do to,
quote, "protect the ballot".

O`DONNELL: And Nina Turner, of course, Ohio so often decides who the
president of the United States is going to be. Obviously, that`s what
Republicans see as being at stake here. They cannot win the presidency.
They haven`t won the presidency without winning Ohio. It seems they have a
very strong incentive to try to suppress any non-Republican voting pattern
in Ohio.

TURNER: That`s it, Lawrence. And they know that a
disproportionately, the early and in-person vote in urban areas tends to be
utilized. But that is not a reason to impact the integrity of elections.
I mean, they want to talk about the integrity of elections, making sure
that people`s votes are not suppressed, making sure that people feel like
their voices can be heard in the democracy, that is important.

And, you know, we have laws on the books right now that are working in
terms of capturing anybody that may be trying to impersonate somebody when
they work into the polling place. But, you know, they are living by a
creed that if we can`t beat `em, cheat `em. That is happening not only
with these laws that they are trying to pass, but also in how they redrew
the lines in Ohio as well.

People should be outraged about this, Lawrence. We are not making
this up, and there was a state rep, Representative Huffman (ph), in
committee who talked about if some folks only want to get rides from church
to go vote, you know, why should we have our system help them? That was a
code for Souls to the Polls which everybody knows disproportionately
African-Americans use that. So, it`s wrong what they`re doing, Lawrence,
all the way around.

O`DONNELL: Krystal, it`s so transparent.

BALL: It`s totally transparent. Not only is it wrong, it`s pathetic.
I mean, it`s essentially an acknowledgment that Republicans can`t win by
appealing to voters.

O`DONNELL: Yes, there is that.

BALL: They have to keep voters from going to the polls. So the
further that they go down this path, the more reinforcing that pattern is.
If you don`t want people to vote at all, they are never going to vote for
you.

O`DONNELL: Senator Nina Turner, thank you very much for joining us.

And, Krystal Ball, thank you for joining us tonight.

BALL: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Up next, in the "Spotlight," the fate of a man who has
invoked the stand your ground defense in the killing of a 17-year-old boy.
That case is now in the hands of a Florida jury. That`s next.

And a Texas sportscaster enters the debate over whether Michael Sam
should play in the NFL. You will not believe what this Texas football guy
has to say. It`s video that you must see. It`s in tonight`s "Rewrite."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: In "The Spotlight" tonight, the killing of Jordan Davis.

Late this afternoon, the jury in Florida began considering the case
against Michael Dunn, who shot and killed Jordan Davis. Michael Dunn
didn`t like how loud the music was in the car that Jordan Davis was sitting
in, in a convenience store parking lot. He told the teenage boys in that
car to turn down the music and according to Leland Brunson (ph), one of the
other passengers in that car, here`s what happened next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did anyone turned down the music when he asked you
to turn down the music?

LELAND BRUNSON, IN CAR WHEN JORDAN DAVIS WAS SHOT: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who turned it shutdown?

BRUNSON: Tevan (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. Did Jordan Davis say anything when
Tevan Thompson turned down the music?

BRUNSON: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was that?

BRUNSON: He said, no, turn the music back up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you ever here Jordan Davis threaten the
driver?

BRUNSON: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did Jordan say anything back to the driver when
the driver said, are you talking to me?

BRUNSON: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did he say?

BRUNSON: Yes, I`m talking to you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what did you see the driver of the other car
do when Jordan Davis said, yes, I`m talking to you?

BRUNSON: He reached into his glove compartment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you see what the driver got out of his glove
compartment?

BRUNSON: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was that?

BRUNSON: A gun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what did the driver with the gun when he
grabbed it from the glove compartment.

BRUNSON: He cocked it back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And show the jury what you mean when you say he
cocked it back.

BRUNSON: Like he was holding it and cocked it back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pulled the slide back?

BRUNSON: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And for the record, judge, the witness made a
demonstration to that effect.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So reflected.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did the driver do with the gun after he
grabbed it and pulled the slide back?

BRUNSON: He aimed it out of his window.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And where did he aim it?

BRUNSON: Towards Jordan`s window?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And what did the driver do with the gun when he
aimed it at Jordan`s door?

BRUNSON: He started firing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Michael Dunn fled the scene after the shooting and was
apprehended by police about 175 miles from the scene the next day.

In his defense, Michael Dunn told a story that wasn`t corroborated by
any other witness or any other evidence in the case. He claimed that
Jordan Davis got out of the car even though the medical examiner`s findings
indicate Jordan Davis was shot in the backseat of the car and he claims
that Jordan Davis had a shotgun, even though police found no other weapon
in this case other than the gun that killed Jordan Davis.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL DUNN, DEFENDANT: After the continued threat of "you`re dead,
bitch", now the door opens and this young man gets out, and as his head
clears the window frame, he says this (EXPLETIVE DELETED) is going down
now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And at anytime, do you see that man try to get rid
of what you thought was a shotgun?

DUNN: Well, when the door opened and he said this (EXPLETIVE DELETED)
is going down now, that shotgun is not sticking up anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.

But you didn`t see his body movement try to get rid of it or get out?

DUNN: No, I just saw him get out and the shotgun is not sticking up
anymore.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, in your mind did you think he was going to
get out to yell at you some more?

DUNN: No. This is the point where my death is imminent. He`s coming
to kill me. He`s coming to beat me. I`m not real sure what his intentions
are. Actually, he made it very clear what his intentions were.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Michael Dunn shot at the car 10 times. Three of these
bullets hit Jordan Davis. Michael Dunn is charged with first degree murder
for Jordan Davis` death. He`s also charged with three counts of attempted
murder for the three other passengers in the car.

Joining me now are Larry Hannan (ph), a court reporter for the Florida
Times Union". He`s been in the courtroom every day of the Dunn trial. And
Mark Thompson, host of "Make It Plain" on Sirius XM Radio.

Larry, was there anything that you could read in jury reaction to the
testimony, the direct testimony of the -- from the witnesses, the kids in
the car and that -- and the defendant taking the stand himself?

LARRY HANNAN, STAFF WRITER, FLORIDA TIMES-UNION: Lawrence, the jurors
were really raptly listening to Dunn throughout his testimony. It was a
struggle to figure out what they thought they were watching. I didn`t see
a juror shake her head and discussed once. It was actually when his
fiancee took the stand after left that they seem to really turned on Dunn
because it his fiancee basically contradicts a lot of what he said on the
stand including that Jordan Davis had a gun.

O`DONNELL: Well, Larry, on that point, the key point being that he,
in the testimony, it emerges that he never told the girlfriend that Jordan
Davis had a gun. He never said that to her with plenty of opportunities to
do so. Isn`t that the big contradiction there?

HANNAN: Correct. She -- his girlfriend,. Rhonda Rouer, was actually
in the gas station buying a bottle of wine when the shooting occurred. He
yelled at her to get into the car afterwards. And then driving back to the
hotel that night, he never told her that, according to her. And they ended
up ordering a pizza and then going to sleep. And then they drive back to
(INAUDIBLE) county which is over 170 miles away next day, she said once
again he never told her that Davis had a gun.

O`DONNELL: Mark Thompson, you go through an experienced like that,
the one person is with you jumps back in the car, what`s the first thing to
say?

MARK THOMPSON, HOST, MAKE IT PLAIN: They had a gun, my life was in
jeopardy. You don`t go to get more liquor and pizza and go to the hotel.
You say that out loud. And clearly, he didn`t. It is interesting, if I`m
not mistaken, Larry can correct me if I`m wrong, if I heard the defense
close today, he tried to say that the fiancee didn`t remember that or got
it wrong because she`s actually still traumatized from the incident
herself. So, of course, they are going to say whatever to the jury that
they need to, but this is in the words of another -- of a famous politician
who often used racial stereotypes himself, here we go again. This feels
the same way as it did a year ago when we were dealing with the Trayvon
Martin case.

O`DONNELL: And Larry, this does have the stand your ground defense
element. And the defense said today to the jury, you know, Michael Dunn`s
belief of what was happening doesn`t have to actually be true, according to
the stand your ground defense. But what must be true is that he did
believe that his life was being threatened at that time.

HANNAN: It has to be reasonable, though, Lawrence. And that`s the
argument that prosecutors are making is that he had no reasonable cause to
believe his life is being threatened. The other teenagers in that car said
Jordan Davis never threatened him. The other witnesses at the gas station
that night said that Davis just started screaming you can`t talk to me like
that and fired. And then Dunn has said that Davis got out, threatening him
with a gun. No one else saw Jordan Davis with a gun or even saw Jordan
Davis get out of the car.

O`DONNELL: And Mark, this is one of those things where the stand your
ground is being tested. And it seems, though, that -- just as you study
it, it`s really hard to see what the jury would be able to hang an I
acquittal on here, even on the stand your ground defense because you would
have to have another witness who says yes, I at least saw one of the boys
get out of the car.

THOMPSON: I would agree with you, Lawrence. But, you know, I`m
hesitant to put a lot of hope in trials such as these. We saw what
happened with the Zimmerman trial. There must be some type of conversation
in this country about these laws and the impact they have. And we know
that disproportionately, where there is an African-American victim and a
white defendant, wherever there`s a stand your ground law enforce or
anything, all law, self-defense, we know how it often comes out.

We got to address that in the law, but also culturally. We need to
have a conversation as to why there are some, not everyone, but there`s
some who feel that black men, particularly young African-American men are
an existential threat just walking down the street, just carrying a bag of
skittles or just listening to loud music or pulling a wallet out of the
back pocket. How does that translate into having a gun?

O`DONNELL: Larry, how did the jury react, if we can gauge it, to the
judge`s charge on the stand your ground element of this case?

HANNAN: They were listening and taking notes. But, you know, it was
a very long jury instruction. I would not say that they really reacted one
way or another to the stand your ground. I think it was 34 pages of
instructions. And as is often the case, midway through, the jury is kind
of numb, carefully taking notes. But I don`t think the phrase stand your
ground really was something they noticed that much.

O`DONNELL: Mark, this may not be a case where the jury even gets to
the stand your ground issue in that if they don`t have testimony of, you
know, this kid getting out of the car. If they don`t have some testimony
that they can actually use to construct a dynamic in which there is ground
to stand, they may not get to that point.

THOMPSON: You`re right. And that evidence does not exist.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

THOMPSON: There has been, there are no witnesses, no physical
evidence that he got out of the car. No physical evidence that he had a
gun. Of course, the defense tried to make the case that the police didn`t
do due diligence to look for a gun. To go look in the bushes or what have
you.

There is evidence that he got out of his car. And if one is truly
fearful or afraid, they probably are going to flee more than anything. But
he got out of his car and shot into theirs. And I think the prosecutor
also made the case he probably intended to kill more than one young man
that night. It`s just another tragic example of the extrajudicial
execution of an African-American child.

O`DONNELL: Larry Hannan and Mark Thompson, thank you both very much
for joining me tonight.

HANNAN: Thank you.

THOMPSON: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up in "the rewrite," Texas is football country.
How is Texas reacting to the news of what might be what will be surely, the
first openly gay NFL player?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: According to "Politico" tonight, Governor Scott Walker
says that Chris Christie should remain the chairman of the Republican
Governors Association despite calls from some that the governor should step
aside from that RGA post in light of the traffic scandal.

Governor Walker said he and Chris Christie spoke the same day last
month that Chris Christie held that marathon press conference and that
Scott Walker said he believes Chris Christie`s explanation then that aides
executed the traffic jam without his knowledge. And governor Walker says
he has no reason to doubt that Chris Christie on this.

Governor Walker said, quote, "he told me the same thing in private
that he did to the press in New Jersey, and I have every reason to believe
that the information he said is consistent with the truth and so, I still
support him in his role in the RGA.

We will be right back with "the rewrite."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL SAM, NFL PLAYER: I came to tell the world that I`m an openly,
proud gay man.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The day after Michael Sam said that, the news media was
filled with ugly quotes from football guys, including possible future
employers of Michael Sam, saying that they would not employ him now because
he is gay. I don`t think football is ready for an openly gay player just
yet, said an NFL player personnel assistant who will obviously advocate
against drafting Michael Sam. He added that because gay slurs are, in his
word, common place, in the NFL, it would chemically imbalance an NFL locker
room and meeting room. He`s saying it wouldn`t just chemically imbalance
the children in the locker room, it would chemically imbalances the adults
in the meeting room, the guys who own the children in the locker room. The
adults who make the deals to acquire players. The adults who make the
deals to get taxpayer subsidies for their stadiums. The overpaid through
taxpayer subsidies, very rich adults who run the NFL like to use gay slurs
in their meeting rooms. It`s common place. That`s what that NFL player
personnel assistant just told us. And he doesn`t want the children in the
locker room or the adults in the meeting room to have to change their
language or their thinking in any way because a gay player might overhear
them.

An NFL scout said, I just know with this going on, this is going to
drop him down in the draft. There`s no question about it. It`s human
nature. What is human nature? Hating gay men? That`s human nature?
According to an NFL scout who remained anonymous so he could say these
things to "Sports Illustrated?"

The human nature expert went on to say, do you want to be the team to,
quote, unquote, "break that barrier?" Well, that NFL scout, who will be
making recommendations on who to draft, obviously will not be recommending
that the team break that barrier.

This is employment discrimination that you`re hearing, illegal
employment discrimination. And the NFL boys are so ignorant of the laws of
the real world that they don`t know they`re talking about violating the
law. And an assistant coach, who will obviously be recommending against
drafting Michael Sam said, there is nothing more sensitive than the heart
beat of the locker room.

Well, here is what else that very sensitive NFL assistant coach said
about that very sensitive locker room he hangs out in. If you knowingly
bring someone in there with that sexual orientation, how are the other guys
going to deal with it? It`s going to be a big distraction.

What does he mean distraction. Are the so-called straight players and
the so-called straight assistant coaches just going to stare at the gay guy
in the locker room? He`s going to be a big distraction? Meaning that in
that very sensitive locker room, the players will simply not be able to
take their eyes off him.

It turns out even I have more respect for the average NFL player than
that assistant coach does. I think most NFL players know they`ve been
naked in locker rooms with gay guys before and it was no big deal.

Here you have an assistant coach who has a strong voice in who gets
hired and who gets fired on a football team, saying that his players cannot
live with the reality that gay men exist in their world. The NFL is
headquartered in gay friendly Manhattan, just a couple of blocks from where
I`m sitting at this moment. But New York city is not the capital of
football in America. The capital of football in America is Friday night
lights country. The capital of football in America is Texas.

Texas loves football more than anywhere else in the world. And
football loves Texas back. There are more intense old fashioned crew cut
football guys in Texas than anywhere else. So you can imagine what the
coverage of the Michael Sam story was like in Texas. You can imagine what
the local TV sports guy in Dallas who`s been talking football on TV there
for over 30 years had to say about Michael Sam.

Dale Hanson, the three-time Texas sportscaster of the year. Well, no,
actually, you can`t imagine what the most famous TV sports reporter in
Texas had to say about Michael Sam openly, proud gay Michael Sam.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DALE HANSON, TEXAS SPORTSCASTER: Yesterday, Missouri`s all-American
defensive end Michael Sam, the SEC`s defensive player of the year and
expected to be a third to fifth-round pick in the NFL draft tells the world
he`s gay. The best defensive player in college football`s best conference
only a third to fifth-round pick. Really? That is shocking. And I guess
that other thing is, too.

Michael Sam would be the first openly gay player in the NFL, says he
knows there will be problems and they`ve already started. Several NFL
officials telling "Sports Illustrated" it will hurt him on draft day
because a gay player wouldn`t be welcome in an NFL locker room. It would
be uncomfortable because that`s a man`s world.

You beat a woman and drag her down a flight of stairs pulling her hair
out by the roots, you`re the fourth guy taken in the NFL draft. You kill
people while driving drunk, that guy is welcome. Players caught in hotel
rooms with illegal drugs and prostitutes, we know they`re welcome. Players
accused of rape and pay the woman to go away. You lie to police, trying to
cover up a murder, we`re comfortable with that. You love another man,
well, now you`ve got too far.

It wasn`t that long ago when we were being told that black players
couldn`t play in our games because it would be uncomfortable. And even
when they finally could, it took several more years before a black man
played quarterback because we weren`t comfortable with that either.

So many of the same people who used to make that argument and the many
who still do are the same people who say government should stay out of our
lives, but then want government in our bedrooms.

I have never understood how they feel comfortable laying claim to both
sides of that argument. I`m not always comfortable when a man tells me
he`s gay. I don`t understand his world. But I do understand that he`s
part of mine.

Civil rights activist Adre Lord said it`s not our differences that
divide us. It`s our inability to recognize, accept and celebrate those
differences. We`ve always been able to recognize them. Some of us accept
them, and I want to believe that there will be a day when we do celebrate
them.

I don`t know if that day is here yet. I guess we`re about to find
out. But when I listen to Michael Sam, I do think it`s time to celebrate
him now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: It turns out football does have a heart. Deep in the
heart of Texas. And although it`s only February, Dale Hanson is already
America`s sportscaster of the year.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. NATHAN DEAL (R), GEORGIA: Our biggest concern going forward is
that people continue to heed the warnings and that they stay home.

GOV. MARTIN O`MALLEY (R), MARYLAND: We`re urging citizens to stay off
the roads if you do not have to travel. Don`t travel. This is going to be
a nasty, wet, icy event here in Maryland that will go on for 24 hours.

MAYOR MICHAEL NUTTER, PHILADELPHIA: You park on a snow emergency
route after 8:00 p.m., your vehicle will be relocated and you will spend
the rest of the year trying to figure out where it is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Tonight, more dangerous winter weather is working its way
up to the east coast. Right now, 60 percent of the nation is buried under
ice and snow across multiple southern states. Snowfall is hitting more
than ten inches in some places. Over 420,000 homes and businesses are
without power because of ice and downed trees, damaging power lines. More
than 3,350 flights were canceled nationwide today. The storm has also been
blamed for at least 11 deaths. Last time it was Atlanta. But some of the
worst traffic problems in this storm are happening in North Carolina.

For more on what`s to come, we are joined now by NBC meteorologist
Bill Carons.

Bill, what should we be looking for here?

BILL CARONS, NBC METEOROLOGIST: A horrible morning commute in the
north east, probably the worst of the winter, maybe in the worst in the
couple of years for some location.

Let me take where we have been during the day today. This was a storm
in South Carolina that people will be telling their grand kids about
decades from now. Because we just don`t get a lot of ice storms like this,
its historic ice storms.

In the Atlanta area, we had a tree fall in this house and this
grandmother was asleep in that bed. That`s the room right there. Her son
said she came into the room, she had the insulation and the sheet rock
sitting on top of her. She was just buried, thankful to be alive. As you
know, how heavy that tree was and the damage it did to the house. She did
survive and is being treated.

Other areas like Charlotte, we had a little mini Atlanta situation.
Everyone went to work, those roads were dry. There was no snow. They all
thought as soon as they saw the snowflakes they would all go home at the
same time. And we had horrible traffic jams in the Charlotte area. The
heavy snow moved and Raleigh wasn`t much better.

And then the picturesque but dangerous part of the storm has been the
ice accumulations. And even tourist locations. We are talking Charleston,
South Carolina, Myrtle beach area, Augusta, Georgia, some beautiful
locations at South Carolina covered in the half inch a quarter inch of ice.
And at this hour, we have half a million people without power and the
temperature is about 30 degrees. That`s about half a million people
scrambling to find a location with heat to keep their family and kids safe
as they go throughout their night tonight and tomorrow morning. So, that`s
where we`ve been.

Now, let me take you to where we`re going. We have winter storm
warnings all the way to northern Alabama. It was just snowing hard in
Birmingham of all places. And then we`re going to go all the way to Friday
afternoon up there into Maine. Here`s how the storm is playing out. We
have two pieces of the puzzle coming together. They are going to merge off
the east coast. There is a classic scenario for a big east coast storm.
And then we`ll get our nor`easter forming tonight and moving up the eastern
seaboard for tomorrow. And that is going to leave us with some very
impressive snow totals.

As of now, we still have freezing rain I mentioned that snow in
Birmingham at 32 degrees. Now, the heaviest snow is shifting northwards.
Not a good time to be on the roads late this evening. Virginia, overnight
in Virginia, stay off the roads. Even around Washington, D.C., stay off
the roads.

Here`s my latest snowfall forecast. Some of this has already fallen.
We`ll end up with one to three in Atlanta. There was a lot of sleet today.
We avoided a repeat of what we did two weeks ago. But if you`re up here in
the mountainous areas of Virginia and West Virginia, made up to 12 to 18
inches of snow. And then we get into the high impact part of the storm.
The big cities in the east, tomorrow morning, D.C., we could have about
eight inches already on the ground. West of town, a little more than that.
Philadelphia, heavy snow right through the morning rush hour. New York
City, you could be getting two inches of snow an hour between 6:00 a.m. and
10:00 a.m. tomorrow morning right at the tip of the rush hour. Airports
will be shut down. That`s almost guaranteed there early in the morning.
Already thousands of flights have been cancelled. And then we`ll shift it
northwards after that.

As far as the time it goes, the blue on this map shows you the really
heavy snow. This is 7:00 a.m. tomorrow morning. And that`s right along i-
95. Pretty much from D.C. all the way up there into areas of southern New
England. Then, as we go throughout the day, we get a little bit of a
break. What`s interesting about this storm, Lawrence, it that we`re
actually get a break. Everyone is going to think it is over. Then, we get
slapped as the storm leaves us at about 9:00 p.m. tomorrow night until
about midnight. Heavy snow returns to the areas. That already thought
they were done with it. So by the time we`re done, I mean, we`re just
query of this, right? I mean, this is mid February. This is like our
fifth storm, everyone is over it. And this one will probably be the
biggest of them all.

O`DONNELL: It is toughing watching all those people in the south who
are not accustomed to dealing with this in any way. At least as we see it
moving up to that end of the map, people living there, the governments
there know how to react to it.

CARONS: But I think this is going to be a problem tomorrow morning
around New York City. Before it hit three or four storms, people have
driven in safely, no problems. I think tomorrow morning is different. I
think it will snow so hard that we are going to have a lot more problems
than people expects.

O`DONNELL: Listen to Bill Carons, New York.

Bill Barons, the one of storm expert joins us tonight.

END

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