Skip navigation

'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Read the transcript to the Wednesday show

  Most Popular
Most viewed

April 30, 2014

Guests: Ladonna Hollins, Helen Prejean, Gabe Feldman, Mike Pesca, Robyn
Doolittle, Lisa Williams

ARI MELBER, GUEST HOST: It was supposed to be the end of the story. The
man who murdered 19-year-old Stephanie Neiman would be put to death. But
it is now the beginning of a conversation about the death penalty.

Joining us tonight, Sister Helen Prejean of "Dead Man Walking" and the
stepmother of the mom who died on that table last night.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A botched execution in Oklahoma is renewing the legal
debate over capital punishment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Breaking news from the state prison in McAllister.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Last night`s botched execution of a death row inmate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thirty-eight-year-old Clayton Lockett was sentenced to

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Convicted for the murder of 19-year-old Stephanie

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The first of two scheduled executions did not go as

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was clear something was not right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Witnesses said that Lockett tensed, crashed, clenched
his teeth.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was struggling to get up, to talk.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It took Lockett 43 minutes to die.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And to what is typically a process lasting 6 to 12

JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Even when the death penalty is
justified, it must be carried out humanely.

GOV. MARY FALLIN (R), OKLAHOMA: The state needs to be certain of its
protocols and its procedures.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They wanted to hurry up and get it done, with as little
transparency as possible.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Using a new untested, three-drug lethal injection

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Untested cocktail of questionable drugs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This combination has never been tried in Oklahoma

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This has been a furious legal battle in Oklahoma over
whether the state could do this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a national issue.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The newly reignited debate today over capital

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Renewing the legal debate over capital punishment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After an execution last night in Oklahoma went
disturbingly wrong.


MELBER: Good evening. I am Ari Melber, in for Lawrence O`Donnell.

After months of legal back and forth over the source of an untested drug
combination, the state of Oklahoma finally got the chance to do what it
fought very hard to do -- execute 38-year-old Clayton Lockett last night.
Lockett was convicted of shooting 19-year-old Stephanie Neiman in 1999, and
then in a horrific crime ordering his accomplices to bury her alive.

Now, this would have been the state any first double execution in over 70
years, but as you have seen that was not to be. Instead the state of
Oklahoma witnessed a chaotic disastrous night that resulted in one inmate
any death by heart attack now. That failure led the state to delay the
other inmate`s execution.

The process was supposed to use one drug to sedate Lockett, a second to
paralyze him and a third to stop his heart. Instead, this is how reporters
who witnessed the botched execution described it just moments after leaving
the viewing room and before Lockett was even declared dead.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His body was, continued to move. Locking, locking up.
His head was lifting. Tightening his muscles. He was exhaling.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was still, lifting his shoulders and head off the
gurney. Grimacing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was struggling to talk. Those were the word he
got out. "Man, I am not" and "something is wrong."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seemed like he was trying to get up. At 6:39, they
lowered the blinds.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We didn`t know what was happening on the other side
of the blinds. We didn`t know if he was still dying, or if they were still
pumping drugs in him.


MELBER: Now, briefly here are the key points that we know about last
night. The execution began at 6:23 p.m. local time, 7 minutes in. Lockett
is conscious, heard saying, "Man, I`m not." The state`s doctor declared
him unconscious at 6:39. Lockett`s body begins convulsing, shaking. At
6:49, the execution is halted. Forty-three minutes after he was
administered the first of three drugs, Clayton Lockett is then pronounced
dead from an apparent massive heart attack.

At the White House today, Press Secretary Jay Carney weighed in on this


CARNEY: The crimes are indisputably horrific and heinous. But of it is
also the case we have a fundamental standard in this country that even when
the death penalty is justified it must be carried out humanely. And I
think -- everyone would recognize that this case fell short of that


MELBER: In Oklahoma, mean while, Governor Mary Fallin reaffirmed her
support of the death penalty but also called for a type of review of the
state`s procedures here.


FALLIN: He had his day in court. I believe the legal process worked. I
believe the death penalty is inappropriate -- an appropriate response and
punishment to those who commit heinous crimes against their fellow men and
women. However, I also believe the state needs to be certain of its
protocols and its procedures for executions and that they work.


MELBER: Now, that review is not completely independent. But here`s what
it will look into, focusing on three items -- the cause of Lockett`s death,
which will be conducted by a medical examiner, whether the Department of
Corrections followed the right protocols here during the execution, and
whether those protocols actually require some further reform.

More broadly when you look at a story like this that draws so much national
attention and condemnation, you have people questioning whether the U.S.
executes people in the right way. Or whether they`re even is a right way.

And in just a few minutes I will talk with Sister Helen Prejean from the
ministry against the death penalty. She`s the author of "Dead Man

But we do begin here with an exclusive interview with Clayton Lockett`s
stepmother, Ladonna Hollins.

Thank you for joining me tonight. How are you?


MELBER: I`m OK. Obviously, like a lot of people around the country, I am
looking and learning about this case. Obviously a difficult time for you.

Just start by telling us what you can about what happened last night?

HOLLINS: Last night, my son was unjustly executed. He died in extreme

I was watching it on the news. Clayton had requested that I not be at the
execution, because he had anticipated that something like this may happen.
I feel that -- that the drugs that were used were unconstitutional. I`m
not quite sure if they were administered properly.

And I want to know why? I want to know why after numerous stays of
execution the execution was carried out and my son was tortured to death in
front of a lot of people.

MELBER: When you look at what happened and you use the word "torture." In
your view do you think this was something that happened because the state
just didn`t care how this execution was conducted? Or do you think there
was a sort of a deliberate desire to make this painful?

HOLLINS: I think that it was a deliberate desire to get it over with in a
quick manner. I believe that it didn`t matter that the drugs were not
tested. I believe it went forth without even any testing at all. I don`t
think that it mattered.

I think the only thing that mattered is that my son was put to death by any
means necessary.

MELBER: And something that you have mentioned previously is your
conversations with him, his fears about this. What was on his mind the
last time you spoke with him when they were going to go ahead and do
something here that they hadn`t really tested out in terms of these
particular drugs?

HOLLINS: He was very concerned about the drugs that they were using. He
knew that that there was enough time for them to be tested. He was very
upset that the stay was lifted without -- without the protocol being looked
into completely.

Clayton`s concern was for -- for other people that were going to be
executed behind him, as well as himself. I would say that he was very
worried about that.

MELBER: And -- when you look at, at what happened here you, have said
before that you`re not necessarily automatically against the death penalty
as a policy. That`s a debate that is going on. What do you think should
have happened here and what do you say or what do you think about the
victim of this crime which we reported on?

HOLLINS: The victim died a horrible death. And I feel that my son would
have been put to death regardless for his crime. And I think that -- that
it was necessary in a sense.

But I do not believe that it should have been carried out quite the way it
was. There is a constitutional law that states that.

However, Stephanie Neiman died in a bad way. I feel sorry for that. And,
in my heart, I have apologized to family for that.

But let`s get back to what really matters is the fact that, there is a
constitutional law that we must follow, all of us, men, women, governors,
senators, all people must follow the state constitution law no matter and I
do believe that my son`s rights were violated in a horrible way, and that
this needs to be stopped. That`s why I`m here.

MELBER: And just briefly, last question, I did want to ask you. Because
this is part of what a lot of people are talking about, is you have been
very close to this you. Looked at this process which clearly was a
breakdown by any estimation of what should be done you mentioned.

Do you think the way the death penalty its used here is making us as in
your state, Oklahoma, or around the country making us safer or not?

HOLLINS: Not. I do not believe it is making us safer. I do not believe
that at all. I think it leaves the state of Oklahoma open for a lot of
things really.

One thing is for sure, we are not administering the drugs properly. And
people are being tortured to death and pronounced dead and they are still
alive and they are suffering great pain with these drugs. And I think that
it needs to be stopped, halted until we can look into this thing and find
out what`s really going on and get the proper way to put people down.

MELBER: Understood. Ladonna Hollins, thank you very much. I know it`s
difficult time. Appreciate you speaking out and speaking with me tonight.

HOLLINS: You are very welcome.

MELBER: Thank you.

Joining me now, I mentioned earlier, is Sister Helen Prejean, author of the
book, "Dead Man Walking." Thank you as well for joining me tonight.


MELBER: Let`s start with your thoughts on what happened last night. What
we know and need to know about this.

PREJEAN: I have accompanied six men to execution, three in the electric
chair and three by lethal injection. There is no humane way to put a
conscious imaginative human being to death.

We have taken on this on ourselves to say, first of all, that our
government and our courts are going to have the wisdom to select the worst
of the worst murderers, which the Supreme Court has the said is supposed to
be the criteria, that we can select the worst of the worst and that we will
then administer a punishment of death.

So, once you accept killing of people as punishment of their crime is
acceptable, whether or not lethal injection is painful or not. And in some
of the hearings that went on in this issue with the Supreme Court, you had
Justice Antonin Scalia, pain is supposedly to be part of death. When you
die you are supposed to have pain.

And even in the course of the oral arguments or discussions at the court
about lethal injection, he said, if you`re not sure if the first drug
works, slap them around a bit see if they`re still wake. He said that in a
light vein, but it just shows that we are dabbling here in method. But
it`s the basic fallacy of saying that we can allow our government to have
the option to choose to kill some of our citizens and have the wisdom to
choose who needs to be killed.

Everything about it is wrong and as far as the process goes and the method,
the Danish company that was making the main drug that they used for years,
they found out that their drug was being used to kill people. Exactly
opposite of what it is that they produce the drugs, to help heal people and
help them through the surgery. So, they stopped the drug. That`s why you
have all this scurrying around.

MELBER: Let me -- if I may have jump in. You mention that that was part
of the underlying fight here was over the drugs and the secrecy that was
going to be practiced. As we have reported a lot of back and forth
maneuvering on that, but the real reason that matters as you mentioned, is
because what you have a lot of people and companies that don`t want to be
in the killing business.

PREJEAN: Exactly.

MELBER: So then that creates the undertow.

I want to read to you something from the mother of Charles Warner`s victim.
Let me go ahead and do that.


MELBER: Discussing the death penalty. Quote, "That would dishonor my
daughter, dishonor me and everything I believe in. I wouldn`t want to have
to know about something like that. I`ve wouldn`t want to know my hand or
what I want through personally is the reason why he, the inmate, is no
longer living. When he dies, I want it to be because it is his time, not
because he`s been executed because due to what happened to me and my

I mention that because having just interviewed Ladonna Hollins who`s on the
other side but isn`t against the death penalty, here is some one who is.
We talk about the victims because we want to honor and remember them. What
do you say -- what do you say to victims` families when you look at the
idea that these people who did these heinous crimes should receive main in
jail but not have their lives ended?

PREJEAN: One of the things that is changing us in this country. We are
beginning to end the death penalty in the United States. It has been the
witness of victims families saying, that the death penalty actually
revictimizes them. They`re told this is going to give justice for your
dead child.

And we well call you in to witness it, and they start waiting, 10, 15, some
times, 20 years. And they`re just saying, "How do we heal?" They`re
waiting for this closure that never comes.

But, people could be a different places on this journey. And in the
beginning, all of the victims` families I know all started out in great
anger and would like to put their hands around the throat of the person
that killed their child and strangle them to death with their bare hand.
Most victims families don`t stay there.

But the real issue about the death penalty is us. See. People do terrible
crimes. Why are we taking on ourselves that we can decide to which of
these first of all is the worst and we know the pattern in the United
States. Overwhelmingly, it`s when white people are killed the ultimate
punishment is sought.

MELBER: Sister, let me put that on the screen for the numbers. And give
you the final word, but that`s the other important point that can`t be
ignored when you look at it structurally. You just said, when you look at
seeking death penalty tin interracial murders -- 20 white defendants
dealing with a black victim, 270 black defendants when there is a white
victim and the death row population by race overall, 42 percent black,
highly overrepresented.

That goes to some structural problems and how we do this, doesn`t it?

Did you hear me? I was, I was -- did I lose you? I was asking if you
would speak to the racial disparity as well.

I think we have lost Sister Ellen Prejean. I think we were agreeing on the
final point. And appreciate her time absolutely.

And we will be staying and bringing you more on this story as warranted,
most certainly.

Coming up, we have radio silence from Mr. Donald Sterling after the
lifetime ban from the NBA. And something that might be a ray of hope here:
Oprah is perhaps interested in buying the Clippers.

Also, Ted Cruz versus Elizabeth Warren on the senate floor, all about the
minimum wage.

And breaking news about Toronto Mayor Rob Ford that would put him on the
front pages of a lot of papers in this city again tomorrow.

Please stay with us.


MELBER: Now for something different. News you can use. Regulators in
Colorado are trying to find a way to educate consumers but edible

Turns out pot can be more powerful and potent if cooked into food. One
idea would create labels on edible pot with symbols like those on Colorado
ski slopes -- green dots for weak pot, black diamond for potent marijuana
products. Colorado limits the amount of THC in those edible products.

Now, up next, Donald Sterling, if he is forced to sell the Clippers, could
Oprah be the new owner?



CARNEY: He certainly talked about it on the trip, prior to the decision.
What I can tell you is that the president believes that the NBA has done
the right thing.


MELBER: The NBA owners advisory and finance committee announced it will
hold a meeting tomorrow to discuss the next steps in the possible removal
of Mr. Donald Sterling, as the owner of the L.A. Clippers. NBA
commissioner Adam Silver is urging the ten-member committee to force
sterling to sell the team after his now infamous racist remarks. There may
be a wide range of buyers.

Some high profile celebrities are throwing their names into the court for a
shot at taking over the ownership of the Clippers today. A spokesman for
none other than yes, Oprah, told MSNBC. Oprah Winfrey is in discussion
with David Geffen and Harry Ellison to make a bid for the L.A. Clippers,
should the team become available. Several musicians are also interested,
or at least interested in being part of the story. Rapper Rick Ross, Ricky
Rose (ph), tweeted, "I would be interested in invested in L.A. Clippers."
The four exclamation points is how you know he`s serious.

Music mogul Sean Diddy Combs said, "I will be always a Knicks fan but I am
a businessman. #diddybuytheclippers, #nameyourprice."

There are all told about nine openly interested investors. This rapidly
growing roster. Another potential owner, Donald Sterling`s, estranged wife
Rochelle, who has been cheering and smiling at last night`s playoff game.
Donald Sterling was also seen coming out of an L.A. steakhouse Sunday
night with Rochelle, and he hasn`t been seen since.

Joining me now, an expert in the field of sports law, Tulane professor Gabe
Feldman, and NPR sports reporter Mike Pesca.

Welcome, gentlemen.

What do you make of this mad dash to talk about buying team?

MIKE PESCA, NPR SPORTS REPORTER: I guess, Oprah, if this was a Greek
tragedy would be called (INAUDIBLE). Who knows? Kind of who cares?

MELBER: Really who cares?


MELBER: You don`t think there is a huge symbolic power in some one like
Oprah Winfrey stepping up right out of the gate, making it clear the money
is there, not only abut race but she happens to be one of the wealthiest
and most successful African-Americans in our country?

PESCA: But since this is just some entertainment rumor, I mean, the story
started on TMZ, with an audio leak. And now, it`s in the realm of
entertainment. I guess the L.A. Clippers are an L.A. franchise. But it
seems so many steps away, and we are already burying Donald Sterling not
that he deserves for us to shed a tear.

But, you know, we could talk to Gabe about this. I think he has a few
legal tricks up his sleeve. And who knows how soon he`ll be selling the
team or if heave will actually beep forced to sell.

MELBER: You know what, Mike? We can talk to Gabe about this. I have Gabe
right here.

Talk us through of a little bit of the law. Because, without getting too
boring on us, two lawyers, one sports guy. Can he litigate his way away
from this -- it is significant that he has said nothing amidst this entire
national spanking.

GABE FELDMAN, TULANE UNIVERSITY: Surely, he can try to drag this into
federal court. But before we even get there, there is day possibility, I
think remote possibility, but there is a possibility that the other owners
and his sponsors and the fans do put enough pressure on him and if you do
have some one like Oprah Winfrey who is going to offer him enough money
that he might agree to voluntarily sell the team. I think that`s a long
shot. But it is possible.

If he decides heap does not want to sell the team and owners go through the
process and the vote and decide to try to force him to sell the team. Then
I think we will end of in federal court. He`s got a number of argument
he`s can make as to why he cannot be forced to sell his team.

NBA constitution does have provisions in place that allow owners to force
another owner to sell a team. But it is not clear that this is a
circumstance that would warrant that forced sale.

MELBER: Let me jump in. What you are basically saying is, that set of
rules may have a trigger where sometimes you can force a steal but we don`t
know. Not having the whole document released whether this in the eyes of
the law or court would be one of those triggers?

FELDMAN: Right. The document has released. And there are certain steps,
certain triggering factors that you allow them to vote an owner out. But
there is nothing explicit that says prejudicial statements or conduct
detrimental could allow him to vote him out. The very specific criteria,
none of which would apply here, that is a catch-all provision that gives
the commissioner power.

But there is a lot of ambiguity there. It might be a little stretch for
the commissioner to say under my ambiguous catch all provision, I can allow
these other owners to force Donald Sterling out based on a private
conversation he had that then became public.


MELBER: No offense, but that, but that, having been to law school that is
all the law school we are going to do in the segment.

I want to ask Mike, though, also, about the politics, ands go back to you,
Gabe. The politics are moving fast. Listen to Harry Reid today saying
that what started in L.A. should go to Washington, and a change in one of
their professional sports teams. Take a listen.


SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: Since Snyder fails to show any
leadership. The National Football League should take an assist and pick up
the slack. It would be a slam dunk, Madam President. For far too long,
the NFL has been sitting on its hand doing nothing while entire population
of Americans has been denigrated.

So, I say to Commissioner Roger Goodell. I believe Roger Goodell is a good
man. But it`s time for this good man to act. Remove this hateful term
from your league`s vocabulary. Follow the NBA`s example and rid the league
of bigotry and racism.


PESCA: You know, one of the things Donald Sterling never did in one of the
tapes was use a racial slur. Sure, his opinions were loathsome and
horrible. But every time some one says Redskins, that`s an insult. That`s
a racial slur.

And this idea, I do question -- I know this was the greatest moment a
commissioner in professional sports basically has never had. I mean, the
(INAUDIBLE) heaped upon, Silver, are unprecedented. Yet, I do have a few
problems with it.

One, there is the fact all from a private conversation. A little
troubling. Two, he was dinged, if he committed real crimes, or not crimes,
but he was fined. Sterling was fined millions of dollars for housing
discrimination, totally odious stuff. And that was never addressed at the

Now I am not saying because he was bad in the past you can`t punish him in
the present. I say take totality of that. And again, I`m not shedding a
tear for Sterling. But it does seem like this is a moment where the owners
can say, ha-ha, but not ha-ha, but we`re done with racism. Racism was with
Donald Sterling said on those audio tapes.

But I think it is bigger. If you think it is bigger, then I think it`s
legitimate to talk about the Redskins. Talk about owners in other sports
who have past discriminatory practices a little bit similar to Donald

MELBER: Yes, well, Mike, you are putting your finger on the point here,
which is this something that becomes a way for a lot of people to wash
their hands, look how good we did.

Or do you widen it? If you`ve widen it. It starts hitting a bunch of
other billionaires and we`ll see how that goes. Redskins being an
interesting example.

We are out of time, that`s why I`m talking so fast.

Mike Pesca, Gabe Feldman -- thank you, appreciate it.

Coming up, Senator Ted Cruz and Senator Elizabeth Warren square off over
raising the minimum wage.

And Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is back in the news tonight. Details of a
pretty big change in his life, straight ahead.


MELBER: In the spotlight tonight, Republicans versus the poor. While 75
percent of Americans support a higher federal minimum wage, today
Republicans in the Senate wouldn`t allow a vote on raising America`s hourly
wage. They blocked the measure with a filibuster. Many on the right say
raising the minimum wage is bad for hiring practices even though it has
been raised 22 times since first implemented way back in 1938. And for
others on right, the far, far right, at least, opposition to raise the
minimum wage sounds more like this.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: The discussion before this chamber is whether to
raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. But Madam president, even if it
passed that is not the Obama minimum wage. Rather, the real Obama minimum
wage is zero dollars and zero cents an hour. To the millions of Americans
who have lost their job, because of $1.7 trillion in new taxes, because of
crushing regulations, this is the Obama minimum wage: zero dollars and zero


MELBER: That is a tough political attack. But at least Ted Cruz didn`t
give Obama a negative number. That`s a math (ph) joke.

The president today expressed his frustration saying this from the White
House East Room.


found the time to vote more than 50 times to undermine or repeal the health
care bill for millions of working families. Earlier this month, they voted
for a budget that would give the wealthiest Americans a massive tax cut
while forcing deep cuts to investments that help middle-class families.
But they won`t raise wages for millions of working families when three
quarters of Americans the support it? That makes no sense.


MELBER: And we heard similar frustration voiced by the senior senator from


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, (D), MA: In 1968, the minimum wage was high enough
to keep a working parent with a family of three out of poverty. In 1980,
the minimum wage was at least high enough to keep a working parent with a
family of two out of poverty. Today, minimum wage isn`t even enough to
keep a fully employed mother and a baby out of poverty.


MELBER: And one more point for the members of Congress here. If you
assume the average Senate representative works about 45 hours a week, all,
all year, 52 weeks out of the year, then the $10 minimum wage for
constituents that they won`t vote on is one thing. But they pay themselves
$70 an hour.

Joining me now is my fellow co-host of "The Cycle", Krystal Ball. Welcome.


MELBER: However you calculate that, the fact that they make something
around $70 an hour is telling. You have talked a lot about Elizabeth
Warren and her role here. The real political question does this broaden
and become a defining issue going into the mid terms?

BALL: Yeah, I just wish I had brought a giant poster board I could use to
make my point here. I think that would be --

MELBER: Should I make an o.

BALL: That helps me. Thank you.

You know, I think it is part of a larger conversation. I think the minimum
wage in and of itself and the Republican staunch opposition to raising the
minimum wage at all is representative of a bigger narrative. The Democrats
are really the party fighting for the working class, fighting for the
middle class, fighting for people, for ordinary Americans, and really for
the American dream that you can work hard and succeed on your own in this

While Republicans continue to align themselves with the very top of the
very top. I mean, the reason that they`re opposed to this is because big
business is opposed to it. And they bankroll all their campaigns.

I am actually a little bit surprised given the politics of how popular the
minimum wage is and how Republicans are increasingly concerned about their
image as being the party of the rich, that they don`t just go forward with
some, maybe not, $10.10, but Republicans could put forward a counter
proposal of $9 an hour and just kind of get the issue of the table.

MELBER: I agree. And I think it is clear from indications in the White
House that if they met them 20 percent of the way -- forget halfway --
you`d get some kind of deal.

BALL: Absolutely.

MELBER: They don`t want to do that. Take a listen to Paul Ryan and Chris
Van Hollen today. Let`s listen to that.


REP. PAUL RYAN, (R), BUDGET COMMITTEE CHAIR: So today I hope we can do
something pretty rare around here in Washington. I hope we can listen, and
I hope we can learn from the very people who are actually fighting poverty
on the front lines.

House, Speaker Boehner has refused to allow a vote to reward hard work by
raising the minimum wage. At the same time, the speaker is refusing to
allow a vote on the bipartisan bill that has already passed the Senate to
extend emergency unemployment health for more than 3 million Americans.
They can`t even get a vote.


MELBER: Basic question: why does Paul Ryan`s opening statement there at the
Budget Committee have no policy in it while Van Hollen`s does?

BALL: Well, I think you know the answer to that question.


BALL: I mean, Paul Ryan, he loves to wear these hats. He`s very good at
positioning himself as the serious budget guy now. And now he is
positioning himself as the Republican who cares about the poor.

But the policy its never there. I mean, the math never adds up in the
budget. He engaged in this review of all of our poverty programs. It was
massively dishonest. Some of the professors whose research was cited in
his report said, "We object to the way that you interpret our results."

So the reality is never there in terms of what he actually wants to do.
And in fact, his budget and his proposals would be devastating to the poor.
I think anyone who looks at this in a serious and balanced way would say
the same.

MELBER: Yeah, I think that`s fair. And I think that`s why some of these
shenanigans, they`re frustrating, but they may be telling going into the
mid-terms when you see the -- sort of the vapidity (ph) or, as you aptly
put it, the zero sign. Zero sign could apply to Ted Cruz`s plan, yeah.

Krystal Ball, thanks for joining me tonight.

BALL: Of course, my pleasure.

MELBER: Appreciate it.

Coming up, we have, Toronto`s controversial mayor making headlines again
tonight. That`s straight ahead.


MELBER: Senate Republicans announced a bill to seek more sanctions against
Russia, giving Ukraine direct military aid, including anti-tank and anti-
aircraft weapons. They insist this bill does not, however, authorize any
sort of steps toward definable military action.

Now, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, almost half of
Americans now say the U.S. should actually become less active in world
affairs; 47 percent of respondents said the U.S. should reduce its activity
in foreign affairs, versus 19 percent who said we should be more active
around the world. Thirty percent say the U.S. is involved at just the
right amount. That is, of course, a big reversal since 9/11 when 40
percent wanted even more engagement around the world. Only 14 percent
wanted less. A lot of context for the ongoing fights in Ukraine.

Now up next, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, the mayor admitted smoking crack, as
you may remember, he`s making new headlines, breaking news tonight.



ROB FORD, MAYOR OF TORONTO: You asked me a question back in May. And you
can repeat that question.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The question we asked you back in May?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You said the video --

FORD: You asked me a couple questions. And what were those questions?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you smoke crack cocaine?

FORD: Exactly. Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine. But no, do I? Am I an
addict? No.


FORD: Have I tried it? Probably in one of my drunken stupors.


MELBER: Breaking news here, Rob Ford is going to rehab after a Canadian
newspaper obtained a video of the Toronto mayor allegedly smoking some kind
of drugs. Here`s what the "Globe and Mail" reports tonight.

Quote, "A second video of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking what has been
described as crack cocaine by a self-professed drug dealer was secretly
filmed in his sister`s basement early Saturday morning. The clip, which
was viewed by two "Globe and Mail" reporters, shows Mr. Ford taking a drag
from a long copper colored pipe, exhaling a cloud smoke, his right arm
convulsing. The footage is part of the package of three videos that the
dealer said was surreptitiously filmed around 1:15 a.m. in which he says he
is now selling for at least six figures."

Mr. Ford declined to answer questions from the "Globe and Mail" less than
an hour after they asked the mayor for comment. However, here`s the news.
His lawyer, Dennis Morris announced that Mr. Ford is planning to take a
break from the mayoral election. Rob Ford was already stripped of most of
his mayoral powers in November after he made this admission to the Toronto
City Council.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you purchased illegal drugs in the last two years?

FORD: Yes, I have.


MELBER: All right then. Another alleged crack smoking video is not the
only damning tape Rob Ford is actually dealing with tonight. The "Toronto
Sun" is reporting that it obtained audio of the mayor at a Toronto bar just
this week making apparently sexually graphic remarks about a female

Quote here the recording, covertly taped by a bar patron Monday night
captures the mayor being unruly as he is ordering booze, complaining about
his wife and making lewd comments about mayoral contender Karen Stinz.

Let`s get to right it. By phone with Robyn Doolittle, investigative
reporter at the "Globe and Mail" who`s viewed the new video tapes. And she
is the author, we should mention of course, of "Crazy Town, the Rob Ford

Welcome. How are you tonight?

ROBYN DOOLITTLE, TORONTO "GLOBE AND MAIL" (via telephone): I`m well. It`s
been a busy day. How are you?

MELBER: I`m good.

Let`s start with the facts. We believe -- you believe that you know these
tapes to be authentic. How?

DOOLITTLE: Well, I mean, we can`t authenticate them. We didn`t obtain the
videos. We didn`t send them to an outside expert or anything. But I,
along with my, colleague, Greg McArthur here at the "Globe and Mail",
viewed these. There`s three tapes. There are -- they vary in length.
They`re, you know, some as long as five minutes.

And in one of them, the mayor is holding a pipe that is consistent with the
crack use in which a self-professed drug dealer who was there that night
and who shot the video says it contains crack cocaine. And he clearly
inhales and exhales. And, I mean, the length of these videos, the
involvement of them, I think it would be -- we believe it would be very
difficult to doctor that. I mean, it`s a moving picture, and it`s very

MELBER: Right, let me jump in. Let me jump in. So you know and our
viewers know we are showing a screen grab of that video according to the
"Globe and Mail." I have to mention MSNBC hasn`t confirmed it either.
Although, as you know, the screen grab shows the man who looks like Rob
Ford holding some type of smoking utensil.

Talk to -- talk to us about the fact that he is going to rehab. Something
I believe he said he was disinclined to do on many previous occasions.

DOOLITTLE: Right, so shortly after the "Globe" contacted the mayor to
comment on this -- this recent footage, the mayor announced that he was
going to go to rehab. And there`s lots of reasons of why he could do that.
I won`t speculate. But we are in an election. And we are, in five months,
six month away now from the election.

And certainly political strategist that I have spoken with involved in this
campaign have suggested that he couldn`t survive another big scandal like
this. So some are maybe now quietly saying to me this is a political move.
But I have no proof of that, of course. But there`s -- there`s that
factor, as well.

MELBER: Is he just totally out of control here?

DOOLITTLE: There`s -- there`s been numerous incidents of the mayor being
videotaped acting erratically, appearing impaired that have surfaced over
the last several months. I mean, Rob Ford made international headlines
last November after he admitted to smoking crack and the police
investigation, and of course the heavy interest in the states.

But this has not really gone away up here in Toronto. This -- the reason
that this story is so important is that the mayor has basically said now,
"Well, I am drinking still." But he`s always continued to say, look, I am
done with the drugs. And this -- I mean, I can`t say what is in the pipe.
But he certainly acts erratic. He`s gesturing wildly in the photos, and he
seems to be smoking what looks like crack cocaine.

MELBER: Yeah, and you mention the election. I mean, the fact that he is
even in the running. These polls are all over the place. But last month,
according to the Toronto mayoral poll, he was at 28 percent with other
people in the 30s, 20s.

Do you have any sense of a road to re-election for him here, even -- even
after he has been stripped of his powers and there is all these videos this

DOOLITTLE: Our election is sort of complicated and sort of simple. It`s a
weird situation. There is a left-wing counselor, or a left-wing
politician, Canadian politician, famous politician, maybe the Hillary
Clinton of Canada, if that makes sense. And Olivia Chow, and she`s the big
rival to Ford. And then there`s another conservative named John Tory. And
the three of them are duking it out.

And right now, Rob Ford is running second. Now will this impact him and --
and kind of push behind the conservative candidate who can say, look I
will do Rob Ford`s policies without the distractions. That`s the real
question. But people might vote for Ford strategically to avoid sort of a
left-winger like Olivia Chow getting in. That`s what`s happening up here
right now.

MELBER: Well, that`s -- that`s an interesting little sketch you gave us.
If she is the Hillary Clinton of Canada, I don`t know who the Rob Ford of
America is.

DOOLITTLE: I don`t know if you have one.

MELBER: That`s an open question right now.

Robyn Doolittle of the "Globe and Mail," thank you for the update on a
pretty wild day on your reporting there.

DOOLITTLE: Thanks a lot, Ari.

MELBER: Absolutely. Coming up, what happened to more than 200 girls
kidnapped from a school dormitory?


MELBER: Another important story, women protesting in the streets demanding
their government work much harder to rescue hundreds of girls who have been
kidnapped from their schools by religious terrorists. That story is up


MELBER: Now we turn to an important story you actually might not have
heard about yet. It takes place in Nigeria. More than two weeks ago now
234 teenage girls were kidnapped directly from their boarding school in the
remote town of Chibok. Nigerian officials say the Islamic extremist group
Boko Haram is responsible. That`s a militant group, which advocates Sharia
Law, opposes education for women, and is considered one of the most
dangerous terrorist groups in the world.

Some of the girls have escaped their captors. Almost 200 remain missing
tonight. There are reports the group took the girls to other countries and
have conducted forcible marriages.

Earlier today, protesters gathered outside Nigeria`s parliament, calling
for a much more intense search for these missing girls.

Now joining us now is Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African
Affairs Lisa Williams, for President Obama.

Welcome. Tell us what we know at this point about what is happening there
in Nigeria?

find the kidnapping of over 100 girls in Nigeria to be abhorrent. And we
have called on the immediate return and release of these girls, a return to
their families. Very little more than what you have already explained is
known as to their whereabouts.

MELBER: Let me read from the State Department annual report on global
terrorism today that your colleagues put together. It says, quote, "The
United States called the Nigeria government to employ a more comprehensive
strategy to address Boko Haram that combines security efforts with
political and development efforts to reduce the appeal, address legitimate
concerns of the people of northern Nigeria and protect the rights of all of
Nigeria`s citizens."

We`ve done a lot of coverage of different disasters around the world
recently, as you well know. This is a disaster of epic proportions. The
U.S. may not have any direct role to play here, obviously, on the ground.
But I read from the report, and you`ve obviously worked, and the
president`s worked to isolate Boko Haram to some degree as a designated
terrorist organization. What more can you do?

WILLIAMS: We actually are working very closely with the Nigeria government
there, very close partners of ours. And we have a program, a counter-
terrorism program, that works in various sectors, both with the military,
with law enforcement and with civil society.

We are trying to help them improve the professionalism of their security
forces. We are helping to build their forensics and investigative capacity
and strengthen their criminal justice system, so they can prosecute
properly and fully.

We also are helping them to strengthen their civilian military relations
capacity. So we are working, not only with the Nigerian government in
various forms and civil society, but we`re also working with the countries
in the region on border protection and in cooperating with each other like
in counter-terrorism.

MELBER: And -- and what do you think about when you look at all of these
young women here who remain missing at this point?

WILLIAMS: This is a terrible tragedy. And, as I said, we are discussing
with the Nigerian authorities ways that we might help support their efforts
to find and free -- free these young girls and women. This is something
that we have condemned. And the international community actually has
condemned. And so, we are working very closely with the Nigerians to see
what else we can do to help find these girls.

MELBER: Yeah, it is just a terrible story and one we were discussing here
in the news room and wanted to cover and will be covering again.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Lisa Williams,
thank you for spending some time updating us on the work here and, of
course, our thoughts and prayers go out to all these families.

WILLIAMS: Thank you. Thank you. Our that`s are also with them and our
prayers. And we appreciate the coverage that you are giving to this.

MELBER: Absolutely. Have a good night.

WILLIAMS: Good night.

MELBER: And I will mention to the viewers out there I am Air Melber. I`ve
been sitting in here for Lawrence O`Donnell. We have more of our interview
with the mother of the executed inmate on our website that we did earlier
in the hour. That is for those who want to check out
the rest of that interview. Thank you for watching tonight.



<Copy: Content and programming copyright 2014 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
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.>


Sponsored links

Resource guide