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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Monday, Decemeber 1st, 2014

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THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
December 1, 2014

Guest: Kendall Coffey, John Burris, Jordan Schultz, Laura Plotkin, Fred
Rogero, Robert Costa


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: I love that five-day-a-week schedule.
Remember that "Esquire" article that were forced to read, and you appeared
in "Esquire" where I teamed up with Tom Daschle and Trent Lott as former
Senate leaders, and we made recommendations for a well-run Senate, which
included five-day weeks. Someone read it. Someone actually read it.

RACHEL MADDOW, "TRMS" HOST: Five-day weeks, and they`re going to do six in
a row. I`m telling you, it`s a great recommendation, but they`re going to
drop like flies.

O`DONNELL: We`ll see. We will be taking attendance. We`ll see what
happens. Thanks, Rachel.

Well, President Obama brought the discussion of Ferguson to the White House
today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When any part of the
American family does not feel like it is being treated fairly, that`s a
problem for all of us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ferguson is on the president`s mind.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Meetings at the White House today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With young, local and national civil rights leaders.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To enhance understanding and cooperation between law
enforcement officials and local communities.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s got to be a way we can do better in Missouri.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Ferguson Commission.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is meeting today for the first time since the grand
jury decision.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we don`t want you to do is become just another
bureaucracy, just taking the information and doing nothing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I`m here forever screaming, crying, praying.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I`m a citizen of Ferguson, I`m depending on you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Diffusing tensions will not be easy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Darren Wilson resigned Saturday from the Ferguson
police department. Protesters are still looking for some sense of justice.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In Washington, D.C., demonstrators blocked traffic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Staged a die-in protest at St. Louis County retail
stores.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five players on the St. Louis Rams came out with their
hands up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Protesting the grand jury decision not to indict
Wilson in Brown`s death.

O`DONNELL: The assistant district attorney handed the grand jury an old,
unconstitutional law.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The protesters, they really believe that Michael
Brown was targeted.

O`DONNELL: Which said incorrectly, that it is legal to shoot fleeing
suspects, simply because they are fleeing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Protesters are still looking for some sense of
justice.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: Darren Wilson, who shot and killed the unarmed 18-year-old
Michael Brown resigned from the Ferguson Police Department on Saturday. He
will not receive any severance or benefits package, according to the mayor
of Ferguson.

In his resignation letter, Darren Wilson said, "It was my hope to continue
in police work, but the safety of other police officers and the community
is of paramount importance to me. It is my hope that my resignation will
allow the community to heal."

But if resignations can help a community to heal, Ferguson will need more
than just Darren Wilson`s.

Kathy Alizadeh, the assistant district attorney who led the grand jury`s
investigation, clearly sided with Officer Wilson.

"The New York Times`" analysis of the grand jury transcripts reports quote,
"The prosecutors rarely asked skeptical questions of Officer Wilson and
frequently let testimony supporting him pass unchallenged, while boring in
on the statements of witnesses whose accounts conflicted with the
officer`s."

The most positive possible assessment of Kathy Alizadeh`s work with the
grand jury was that she was utterly and completely incompetent.

The only other possibility is that she was actively biased in Darren
Wilson`s favor and acted in an unprofessional and unethical manner on her
bias. As I pointed out on this program last week, in a stunning burst of
incompetence or deliberate misdirection, Kathy Alizadeh actually handed the
grand jury a copy of what she said was the law governing police use of
deadly force. But it had not actually been the law since 1985, when the
United States Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional.

Kathy Alizadeh handed the grand jury a copy of an old, unconstitutional law
that had not been the law during her entire legal career. It was a law,
very favorable to Darren Wilson, because it said that police in Missouri
had the right to shoot any fleeing suspect simply because the suspect is
fleeing. The Supreme Court ruled that unconstitutional in 1985, but Kathy
Alizadeh did not tell the grand jury that.

Instead, she let the grand jury sit through virtually all of the witness
testimony, believing the old law was still in force. And only at the very
end of the grand jury`s process, just before they were ready to deliberate,
did Kathy Alizadeh hand them a new document, specifying the correct law on
police use of deadly force, and she told them as she handed them the law,
"That does correctly state what the law is on when an officer can use force
and when he can use deadly force in effecting an arrest, OK. I don`t want
you to get confused and don`t rely on that copy or that printout of the
statute that I`ve given you a long time ago. It is not entirely correct or
inaccurate. But there is something in it that`s not correct. Ignore it
totally."

A grand juror then asked here, "The Supreme Court, federal court, overrides
Missouri statues?"

Now, we all learned the answer to that in high school. It is one word,
yes. But she could not bring herself to give that answer, that simple one
word answer.

Instead, Kathy Alizadeh who took an oath as a lawyer, to guide that grand
jury in the most helpful, honest and ethical way possible actually refused
to answer that simple question from a grand jury. Does the Supreme Court
override the Missouri statute? And instead, Kathy Alizadeh told the grand
jury, quote, "just don`t worry about that."

The other district attorney with her in the room chimed in, "We don`t want
to get into a law class."

The grand jurors` question didn`t require a law class. It required a one-
word answer, yes -- an answer that Kathy Alizadeh refused to give. Kathy
Alizadeh also never explained to the grand jury what was incorrect about
that unconstitutional old law that she had given them, and she never
explained to the grand jury the specifics of the new law that she handed to
them on a piece of paper at the end of their investigation.

Kathy Alizadeh`s name does not appear in most reports and analysis of the
Michael Brown case, but no one had a stronger influence on the grand jury`s
decision than Kathy Alizadeh.

We have invited the district attorney, Robert McCulloch, and assistant
district attorney, Kathy Alizadeh, to join us on this program at any time
convenient to them.

And we have submitted the following questions to the district attorney.
How many times has Kathy Alizadeh submitted the wrong law to a grand jury
as its legal framework for an investigation? How many times has the
district attorney`s office as a group submitted the wrong law to a grand
jury as the legal framework for that grand jury`s investigation? And, is
the Michael Brown case the very first time that the district attorney`s
office submitted the wrong law to a grand jury as the legal framework for
that grand jury`s investigation?

We have received no answers to any of those questions.

Joining me now is Kendall Coffey, a former federal prosecutor, and John
Burris, a criminal defense attorney who represented Rodney King against Los
Angeles Police Department and the family of Oscar Grant against the Bay
Area Rapid Transit police.

John Burris, I want to go to you, because we`re now at the stage where the
question is, what`s next? There`s two possible questions here. One is the
federal investigation and a possible federal prosecution. And then,
secondly, what civil remedies does the family have in bringing a lawsuit?

JOHN BURRIS, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Two things. In terms of a federal
prosecution, the U.S. attorney`s office or Department of Justice can, in
fact, bring a lawsuit, a criminal lawsuit against the officer under 18 USC
242.

And race is not required. It is just really the use of excessive force
under the color of law. They call it a privilege.

That can be done. That`s not that challenging of a case. It`s not any
different than bringing a murder case against a police officer.

So, that actually can be done, although people think it can`t be, I don`t
think -- I think it easily, it can be prosecuted. There`s plenty of
evidence to show to support particularly when an officer says that he
contemplated his legal right to take this shot, the last two shots. That
certainly suggests to me that was a reckless disregard. He intended to
kill, and he intended to violate his civil rights at the time.

Now, of course, they can bring a federal civil rights case under 42 USC
1983. These are common cases that are brought all the time. I`ve brought
many of these types of cases, and, again, it`s the question of whether
excessive force was used.

In this particular case, the standard and burden of proof under a civil
rights case is less. It`s preponderance of evidence, whereas in a criminal
case. It`s proof beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a much higher
standard. But it`s not any different than the standard you have in a
regular criminal case.

So, I think either one of those can be brought, both -- I know the civil
case has to be brought. That`s easy enough to do. That`s a private
matter, can be done by private lawyers.

On the other hand, the criminal case has to be brought by the U.S.
attorney`s office or it can be brought out of the Department of Justice in
Washington, D.C. That also can be done. We certainly had that in the
Rodney King case.

Here I think the concern is that the state, prosecutors have messed up the
case by their examination of the various witnesses and therefore making it
very difficult to bring another case.

But at the same time, if you listen to the officers` statements, those
statements in and of themselves seem to me constitute the basis upon which
a civil rights case can be brought and won, because of his statements to
shoot a man who had been wounded two or three times, who was walking,
woundedly, he claims that he had some supernatural strength and he took the
necessary effort to shoot this man twice, this young man, both in the face
and in the head, and he did that when he was 30 or more feet away. That`s
murder.

O`DONNELL: Kendall Coffey, your reaction to how this grand jury worked.
And specifically, what I just outlined and I went through last week about
Kathy Alizadeh submitting the wrong law as the framework for this
investigation, before Officer Wilson testifies, and at the very last
minute, the very -- one of the last things she does before that grand jury
goes off to deliberate among themselves is she hands them the right law.

But in both instances, she just hands it to them on a piece of paper. She
doesn`t even explain the law to them.

KENDALL COFFEY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, there`s no excuse for
misstating the law at such an important issue, at such an important time in
front of the critical witness. Or can it be justified that there was such
an awkward, ambiguous attempt to correct the misstatement later on toward
the very end. And I think what this illustrates, and I want to get back to
the point that John just made, is that the federal process should take a
very independent look at these facts, not relying on the grand jury
determination in the state and local process, because as we`ve seen, there
were many flaws in that process.

I`m saying this with the utmost respect to the individual grand jurors, but
a lot of concern about the process itself. So, that should not be a
process that causes the feds to say, hey, they couldn`t meet the state
burden. We can`t really seriously consider whether there`s enough evidence
here to meet the admittedly higher federal burden of showing some
intentionality.

It`s not a burden to show race-based discrimination or conscious thought
about the Constitution, but you do have to show reckless degree of
intentionality and the use of excessive force. And if you take the
preponderance of witnesses who saw some sort of gesture of hands being
raised.

If you take some of Officer Wilson`s statements and you examine them
through a window that says, what if he was lying. He said there was a hand
reaching for the waist band on the part of Michael Brown. No other witness
seems to have said that. He, Officer Wilson didn`t seem to see the hands
being extended up, as a number of other witnesses said.

So, if you piece together, not only the witness testimony that favors a
homicide prosecution, but also what a prosecutor might say are false,
exculpatory, that is to say statements by Officer Wilson that inaccurately
attempted to portray a picture of innocence, you could add up to a case, it
wouldn`t be an easy federal case, but it is certainly something that needs
to be seriously considered.

O`DONNELL: Kendall Coffey and John Burris, thank you very much for joining
me tonight. Thank you both.

COFFEY: Hey, thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Ray Rice and his wife Janay speak to Matt Lauer
about how they`re planning to rejoin the NFL family.

And, drones flying too close to commercial airliners. The FAA is taking
action.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may be forced to call
early elections next year because of his sinking approval numbers.
According to a poll published in "Haaretz" newspaper on Sunday, Netanyahu`s
approval rating has dropped to 38 percent, after soaring to 77 percent in
August during the Gaza conflict. Netanyahu still polls above his closest
competitors, but 47 percent of Israelis are opposed to him seeking a fourth
term as prime minister.

Up next, Ray and Janay Rice speak.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATT LAUER, NBC NEWS: Have you seen the second tape?

JANAY RICE, RAY RICE`S WIFE: No. I refuse. I refuse. I`m not going to
let the public bring me back there. Uh-uh.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: In the "Spotlight" tonight, Ray Rice and Janay Rice speak. On
Friday, Ray Rice won an arbitration appeal from his suspension from the
National Football League, allowing him to be reinstated. NFL commissioner
Roger Goodell changed Ray Rice`s suspension from two games to indefinitely
after the elevator video, the inside the elevator video was released in
September, saying that Ray Rice had misled the league as to what happened
that February night.

The arbitrator who ruled on the appeal disagreed, writing, "I have found
that Rice did not mislead the commissioner. Moreover, any failure on the
part of the league to understand the level of violence was not due to
Rice`s description of the event, but to the inadequacy of words to convey
the seriousness of domestic violence. That the league did not realize the
severity of the conduct without a visual record also speaks to their
admitted failure in the past to sanction this type of conduct more
severely."

"The Washington Post" reports today that the NFL is considering changing
its personal conduct policy to allow someone other than Roger Goodell to
make discipline decisions, but the league insists that Goodell would still
handle appeals. ESPN reports that at least four enlightened football teams
have shown interest in Ray Rice.

Here is a preview of Matt Lauer`s interview with Ray Rice that will air on
the "Today" show on Tuesday morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAUER: What do you think it would take for another owner and another group
of fans to put the images of that video behind and say, "We`ll take a
chance on Ray Rice"?

RAY RICE, NFL PLAYER: One thing I think that, you know, they would have to
be, you know, willing to, you know, look deeper into who I am and realize
that me and my wife had one bad night, and I took full responsibility for
it. And one thing about my punishment and everything going along with
anything that happened is that I`ve accepted it. I went fully forward with
it. I never complained or I never did anything like that. I took full
responsibility for everything that I d and only thing I can hope for and
wish for is a second chance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: In her interview with Matt Lauer, Janay Rice addressed her
controversial apology during the May press conference.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAUER: Did anyone at the Ravens say, Janay, it would be really good if you
issued some kind of an apology?

JANAY RICE: They suggested it, yes.

LAUER: Did they come up with the wording?

JANAY RICE: No, not specifically. They basically gave us the general
script.

I do deeply regret the role that I played in the incident that night.

LAUER: That really started it.

JANAY RICE: Uh-hmm. And that was frustrating for me because obviously
people took it as, you know, I`m taking light of what Ray did. No way.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Or you`ve given him an excuse.

JANAY RICE: Yes. No.

LAUER: That you`re in denial.

JANAY RICE: Yes. I was basically not doing what I was told, but at the
same time I didn`t think it was completely wrong for me to apologize
because at the end of the day, I got arrested too. So, I did something
wrong, too. Not taking any light off what Ray did because I agree with
everybody else, it was wrong.

LAUER: But had it not been for the Ravens suggesting or urging you to
apologize you would never have been at that press conference and would you
never have apologized?

JANAY RICE: No.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Jordan Schultz, sports columnist for "The
Huffington Post", and Laura Plotkin, director of education at the Center
for Safety and Change in Rockingham County, New York.

Laura, there`s Janay Rice saying they put her up to doing this apology and
she wouldn`t apologize if they didn`t make her do it. Within that
statement, she says, "I got arrested too, so I did something wrong, too."
She said that to Matt Lauer. She was, in effect, apologizing within her
retraction of the apology.

LAURA PLOTKIN, CENTER FOR SAFETY AND CHANGE: Yes. And it`s incredibly
sad, isn`t it, that she would do that. But I completely understand,
because we live in this culture, in this society where we have this blame-
ocracy where people are blaming her for what she did. The team is writing
a script for her to say it`s her fault.

And so, why wouldn`t she claim some sort of responsibility or feel some
sort of blame for that? It makes perfect sense. Everyone`s telling her
that that`s how it`s going to be.

O`DONNELL: And, Jordan, there`s an ESPN report saying four teams are
interested in signing Ray Rice.

JORDAN SCHULTZ, SPORTS COLUMNIST, HUFFINGTON POST: Yes.

O`DONNELL: And therefore, Laura, I assume they`re willing to put up with,
I don`t know, hundreds, thousands of protesters outside the stadium?
They`re willing to take on a controversy that`s bigger than what the
Washington football team contends with?


SCHULTZ: Yes. That`s a good point. I will say this, there has been more
reports saying now there`s really only two teams, some teams are backing
off, including New Orleans and Indianapolis.

Bottom line is, Ray Rice is almost 28. The shelf life of running backs is
not particularly long, usually 30 is a downhill slide. But if a team wants
to make the playoff push, Ray Rice is one of those guys that a lot of
people feel like could help.

My bigger thing is, bigger issue here as an NFL fan, really a sports fan in
general, is for Roger Goodell, it`s easy to lead when it`s convenient, and
now, you`re seeing what`s happened with hem in the NFL, especially the
players union as well, where leadership has been completely devoid.

O`DONNELL: There`s an interesting line in what the arbitrator said, Laura,
where she`s finding fault with Roger Goodell for not understanding what
happened even without seeing the video of the punch inside the elevator.
But she said, the arbitrator says, at the same time, she refers to the
inadequacy of words to convey the seriousness of domestic violence.

We all heard about this thing that happened inside the elevator. Without
seeing the video of what happened inside the elevator, we had no idea how
hard a hit that was or exactly what his attitude was, what we could pick up
about attitude after the punch. It seems to me that that video inside the
elevator does change everybody`s perception of it, including Goodells, one
of the questions is, you can figure out some other way is, is had he seen
it before he claims he saw it. But I mean, that video does change things.

PLOTKIN: It did for a lot of people, although I have a hard time
understanding why. What do people think happened in that elevator to knock
a woman completely cold and unconscious? It had to take an assault like
that.

But, unfortunately, it does take seeing such a brutal assault, and that`s
what it is, an assault. If this was a stranger who had done it to some
random person on the street, we`d be calling it a brutal assault. But we
refer to this as domestic violence that it`s somehow less than an assault.
We should be horrified no matter what kind of domestic violence or abuse
this is.

O`DONNELL: Jordan, this Rice family campaign to get back into the NFL
family, there is a serious flaw in it since it involves an attack on Roger
Goodell. I mean, there`s Janay saying Roger Goodell`s not saying the
truth. What NFL owner is going to say, you can say that about Roger
Goodell today and I will hire you tomorrow?

SCHULTZ: Well, that`s why I said all along, I don`t think Ray Rice is
playing this season.

O`DONNELL: Yes.

SCHULTZ: I do think he gets another shot. But you`re right, especially in
the middle of the season. But you`ve got to understand, the scale of this,
it`s not just the Ray Rice in terms of the assault, Craig Hardy, Ray
McDonald, we went on here before. I mean, it`s been a consistent theme
with Roger Goodell and the lack of leadership.

So, that`s why if I have to really be honest with you, Lawrence, I don`t
think Ray Rice plays this season. But you also need to understand, if
Roger Goodell and the commissioner`s office is saying, he`s only going to
be responsible for appeals, doesn`t that create a situation where he
doesn`t -- he`s not the leader that he once was. He`s operating under a
lens where he`s really reacting and not proactive enough and I think his
responsibility is minimized.

O`DONNELL: Jordan Schultz and Laura Plotkin, thank you both very much for
your time.

SCHULTZ: Thank you.

PLOTKIN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Coming up, Republicans are looking for ways to edit what the president did
with his executive action on immigration. We`ll see if they`re able to do
that.

And next, the FAA is actually going to start regulating about those drones
that are flying too close to airports. They need to do so much more than
they`ve been doing.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Every month now, the Federal Aviation Administration receives
about 25 reports, 25 a month, of unmanned drones flying in restricted
airspace, or flying too close to commercial or private aircraft.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

The FAA currently regulates the recreational use of drones. According to
"The Wall Street Journal," the FAA will issue new rules by the end of the
year, allowing for the commercial use of drones that weigh less than 55
pounds.

Reportedly, the new regulations will limit flights to 400 feet during
daylight hours, and require operators to be certified pilots. Joining me
now is former Air Force Chief of --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

-- Safety and drone expert, Retired General Fred Rogero. General, what is
your reaction to the possible -- we`re getting as a sense of what the
commercial regulations are going to be.

RET. GEN. FRED ROGERO, DRONE EXPERT: Yes, thank you, first of all,
Lawrence, for having me on the program. I think that those rules that you
outlined as a first step are -- a very positive one that we need to take.

Because this is a revolutionary industry. This industry can bring a lot of
jobs to the U.S. As a matter of fact, --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

-- as we delay and delay and don`t get into it, we see some jobs already,
and some of these capabilities going to overseas market. So, we need to --
we need to step it up but we also need to do this in a very safe manner.

And that`s what -- that`s what we`re trying to do with resilient solutions
-- is trying to help those companies that want to operate commercially but
they don`t really have that --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

-- aviation safety culture, if you will -- 70 years of operating airplanes.
Drone operators these days are just tending to pick up and to move out
without being able to capture those lessons learned from aviation mistakes.

O`DONNELL: It seems that commercial operators of drones will have all the
right incentives to do the right thing. They will be conscious of
liability. They will be afraid of jeopardizing people in any way.

But it`s these recreational drones around airports that seem to be the most
dangerous thing out there in the sky these days. And the operators of
those drones may not have any idea what the regulations are.

ROGERO: Lawrence, you`re exactly right. There is a -- there`s a large
group of operators, from my experience, that are very responsible. They
know the rules and they fly by the rules.

And the AMA, the American Modelers Association does a terrific job of, sort
of, self-policing those activities. But there are -- there is a small
segment that --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

-- knows the rules but yet chooses to disobey the rules. And you just have
to go onto YouTube and you can see plenty of those types of videos.

But what`s really concerning, as you, well, point out, Lawrence, is that
there is a larger group that`s growing everyday. Cyber Monday today. A
lot of people probably purchased their first drone today.

But there`s a -- there`s larger group that purchases the drones but doesn`t
know the rules. And then, they start flying their drones, which are very
simple to operate.

It`s very high-tech equipment but very easy for anybody to learn how to
operate --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

-- in less than a minute. And they don`t know that there was, in five
miles, of an airport, or they don`t know how high 400 feet is.

And those are the ones that we have to educate as a community -- into
showing them what risks that they`re putting onto those people in the
airplanes that are airborne while the drone operator stands firmly and very
safely on the ground.

O`DONNELL: Seems like there`s going to have to be some arrests in some of
these cases, too, as an example. I mean, if you don`t -- if you don`t
learn the rules the easy way, there is the hard way.

ROGERO: That`s true. Enforcement action is going to have to take place so
that that message does get across. And then it`s also incumbent on all of
us.

If we see somebody operating a drone in an area that they`re not supposed
to, we need to say something. We need to put it on ourselves, and local
law enforcement needs to get involved as well.

O`DONNELL: Gen. Fred Rogero, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

ROGERO: Thank you very much for having me, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, some Republicans are so angry at the President over
his Immigration Executive Order that they`ll do anything -- anything, or
they say they will. We`ll try to figure out what they`ll really do.
That`s coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

You`ve got about an hour and 20 minutes left on Cyber Monday, so you better
get those -- better get that online ordering done right now. And tomorrow
is Giving Tuesday.

New York`s 92nd Street Y and United Nations Foundation established Giving
Tuesday in 2012 to encourage people around the world to donate to worthy
causes.

More than 10,000 organizations and businesses worldwide will participate
tomorrow in Giving Tuesday, including MSNBC. Up next, what I will be doing
tomorrow on Giving Tuesday.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MASDAR MOFFAT, MALAWI ELEMENTARY SCHOOL HEAD TEACHER: When I was at the
primary school, I was not sitting at a desk. I was sitting at the floor --
but the -- on the floor.

But it was a challenge, to tell you, because it was very difficult for me
to stand up and answer questions actively to the teacher.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: That`s Masdar Moffat remembering his days in elementary school
in Malawi, in a school that had no desks. He was one of the exceptional
students or learners, as they`re called in Malawi.

He was one of the exceptional learners who, despite the grim conditions in
his village`s school, made it all the way through elementary school.

Even today, only 52 percent of learners in Malawi complete elementary
school. Masdar is now the head teacher at an elementary school in Malawi
that, until this year, had no desks for any of the students.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOFFAT: When we are going out for break, you`d be barefooted, you step on
the mud, then you come into the classroom with that mud on your feet. Then
that mud scatters in the classroom.

So, if you`re sitting on the floor, it means your pair of short trousers is
going to get dirty. Now, nowadays, we just appreciate that learners now
are at an advantage because they are sitting at the desks.

Their clothes will be clean as they came from their homes.

O`DONNELL: Many of the barefoot children who I`ve met at Malawi schools
have only one outfit -- one shirt, one pair of pants, or one dress.

And keeping that outfit clean in a school with no desks is impossible, as
Masdar just told us. In Malawi culture, this is more of a problem for
girls than boys.

MOFFAT: Previously, when I was teaching in these classrooms without desks,
we had a lot of challenges. Some of these challenges being that the moment
we have asked a learner a question in order for her or him to answer, it
was very difficult for him or her to stand up, more especially for the girl
learner.

She was finding problems to stand up because the moment she`s trying to
stand up, she was supposed to clean herself because she`s a girl. So, it
was very difficult for a girl learner to stand up quickly.

Nowadays, as we are asking questions to a girl learner, it is very simple
for her to stand up quickly and respond to our questions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Masdar`s school has desks now. Thanks entirely to you. The
Kind Fund, Kids in Need of Desks, a partnership that I created with UNICEF,
has filled Masdar`s school with desks, desks just like this one -- made in
Malawi by workers who now have jobs and can feed their families.

Again, thanks entirely to you.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ASHRAF PATEL, FACTORY MANAGER: Since we started making the desks, we had
to increase our workforce because we need a lot of people to make the
desks.

A lot of processes going through that. You have welders. You have people
cutting the tubings. You have people that are polishing the edges,
assembling the desks.

And, yes, it does create a lot of employment. And most of the Malawians
have big families. So, although you employ one person but he is supporting
like another 10 people, so that goes a long way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Since I announced the creation of the Kind Fund on this
program, you have repeatedly opened your hearts and your wallets, and have
contributed over seven and a half million dollars.

The audience of this program has done that. This is the only forum we have
for encouraging contributions for the Kind Fund.

It`s all up to you. And it has been all up to you from the start. And
your outpouring of support has literally changed the odds for kids in
Malawi schools. Before the Kind Fund, only one in five --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

-- learners in Malawi schools had desks. Now, two out of five learners in
Malawi schools have desks.

We have a long way to go for the 5 million public school students in Malawi
to all have desks but we`re getting there. Hundreds of thousands of kids
in Malawi have not sat at these desks that you have provided for them. And
their schoolwork is improving.

MOFFAT: Previously, as they were writing, they were writing using their
knees. So, it was very difficult for them to write, to have very good
handwriting.

Now, nowadays, since we have put these desks, it is very good for the
learners because they are writing using the desks. So, they are having a
very good writing, as compared to the previous time.

That`s the importance of the desks now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: And your desks, these desks, that you`ve contributed are
improving school attendance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOFFAT: We had dropouts who are just in many villagers not willing to come
back to school. But as the desks arrived at the school, those groups of
learners have come back to school.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: School attendance drops off dramatically during the high school
years in Malawi for several reasons, most importantly because public high
schools are not free.

Most students cannot afford the fees for high school. Girls suffer the
most --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

-- when families make their decisions about school fees. Parents are more
likely to pay for a boy`s high school education than a girl`s. That`s why
we added a girl`s scholarship fund to the Kind Fund -- free high school
tuition for as many girls as we can support.

When you contribute to the Kind Fund, you can specify that your
contribution should be used for desks or for girls` tuition. For that
person who has everything on your --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

-- gift list this holiday season, you can give one of these desks in his or
her name, and UNICEF will send the gift card showing that a desk or a
girl`s tuition has been donated in your gift recipient`s name.

And, of course, like all charitable giving, the Kind Fund gift is tax-
deductible. Now, I couldn`t make my usual trip to Malawi this year to
visit schools because I spent a few months on the disabled list, recovering
from a broken hip.

And so, the interview that we have shown you tonight with Masdar Moffat,
wasn`t conducted by me. It was done by --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

-- a group of Journalism students at Montclair State University In New
Jersey, led by their teacher, veteran video journalist, Steve McCarthy, who
I`ve been lucky enough to work with.

The interest of American students in the Kind Fund is crucial to its
success because the Kind Fund has years and years of work ahead.

As Cyber Monday draws to a close, and you make your final online purchases
of the night, you might consider taking a few of the dollars that you`ve
saved today in those amazing online sales, and going to the K.I.N.D. Web
site -- Lastworddesks.MSNBC.com, and contributing something, anything, five
dollars, $10, whatever you can afford.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

And if you can`t afford anything, you can still help by tweeting or posting
on Facebook --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

-- a link to the Kind Fund -- Lastworddesks.MSNBC.com. And if you`re not
cyber-equipped at the moment, you can call 1-800-4UNICEF. Kids in need of
desks in --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

-- Malawi don`t even know that they need these desks because they`ve
actually never seen desks, until that magical day when these desks suddenly
arrived.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VICTOR CHENZAMA, UNICEF: I tell you that the desks delivered at the
school, that`s Christmas for these kids. Christmas comes on December 25th
and, pretty much, nothing happens in their lives.

When a desk is delivered to them at the school, that is Christmas. You
have made their day. You have made their year. You have made their lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The workmen who accompany the delivery of these desks to a
school never have to carry the desks into the classroom. The kids always
do that --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

themselves, spontaneously, without anyone telling them to do that. When I
was a kid, I was never more excited than on Christmas morning. And I`ve
seen a lot of other excited kids on Christmas morning.

But I`ve never seen anything like the excitement and joy of kids in Malawi
who have never received a gift in their lives, carrying their new desks,
their desks, into their classrooms.

And they always, spontaneously, without anyone telling them to do it, they
always say thank you in a song --

(SINGING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

The new leaders of the new Congress, John Boehner and Mitch McConnell, have
a problem they don`t quite know how to handle yet. That`s their own
Republicans who want to punish President Obama for his executive action on
immigration. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: I am here to announce what
I`m sure will be the most talked-about executive action this month.

(LAUGHTER)

Today, I`m taking an action fully within my legal authority, the same kind
of action taken by Democrats and Republican presidents before me, to spare
the lives of two turkeys.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: The executive action Speaker John Boehner and Congressional
Republican leaders will be talking about tomorrow morning when they meet to
discuss strategy will be, of course, the President`s immigration executive
action.

House and Senate Republicans are still furious over President Obama`s
executive action and are looking for a way to do something about it with
just 10 days to pass a bill to keep the government running.

Boehner is doing everything possible to convince his caucus, especially the
Tea Party, that a government shutdown is not a good idea.

According to today`s "New York Times," Republican alternatives include
cutting off funding for Federal Immigration Services or Senate Republicans
refusing to confirm presidential nominees, including Loretta Lynch as
Attorney General.

Rich Lowry, the editor of the conservative, "National Review" had this
idea, "If I were John Boehner," he said, referring to the House Speaker,
"I`d say to the President, send us your State of the Union in writing.
You`re not welcome in our chamber."

Joining me now is Robert Costa, National Political Reporter for the
"Washington Post." Robert, might we not have a big State of the Union
Address next year?

ROBERT COSTA, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: I think the
President will be invited to come to the House. That is just talk you hear
on the hard right, not in the mainstream part of the Republican Party.

But you`re certainly seeing a lot of pressure from national
Republicans, establishment Republicans to not have a showdown.

I staked out a fundraiser today on Capitol Hill, attended by Jeb Bush,
looking at running for president. Mitch McConnell was there, the soon to
be Majority Leader.

Bush, in his primer, remarked -- urged officials and donors to not have a
shutdown, to just fund the government and move on.

O`DONNELL: And what are the chances of these Republican leaders being able
to get that done, having to control the Tea Party faction at the same time.

COSTA: It`s going to be very difficult tonight. Half Republicans returned
to the floor. They had a series of evening votes.

And, on the floor, Boehner huddled with Hal Rogers, the Appropriation and
Committee Chairman. Boehner wants to try to get something through to fund
the 12 appropriations bills, at the same time, expect some kind of
statement bill to emerge.

There`s one being floated by Representative Ted Yoho, he`s a conservative
Tea Party member, to try to really push back against the President`s
executive authority.

At the same time though, Lawrence, they`re really looking at short-term
government funding to get something through to avoid a shutdown.

O`DONNELL: And in a longer term, are any of them talking seriously about
actually legislating in the immigration arena -- actually, legislating a
response to what the President has done?

COSTA: Sure. Leaving the meeting, Senator Rob Portman of Ohio told me
that the only logical step for Republicans to take is not a shutdown or not
some kind of fiscal standoff right now, but to pass standalone Republican
bills early next year.

They`re going to have both chambers of Congress. Can Republicans come
together with any kind of message on immigration besides anger. That`s
going to be the challenge next year for Boehner and McConnell.

O`DONNELL: And outside of immigration, are they establish -- are they
trying to establish some kind of ground rules about how to respond to this,
like saying, "Whatever action we take, it has to be relevant to
immigration."

Meaning, we don`t hold up nominations for this, we do things that are
relevant to immigration.

COSTA: Privately, you`re hearing no talk of censure, no talk of
impeachment. But there`s not a real push back from the leadership.

Because the leadership in both the Senate and the House, they`re wary of
hitting the conservatives too hard because they know the fury is still
there.

They`re trying to handle this in a very delicate way, almost slip through
government funding in December and try to fight early next year when they
seem like they have more of a grip on power.

O`DONNELL: All right, so we`re just going to pencil in the State of the
Union Address at this point in our calendars.

(LAUGHTER)

Robert Costa, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

COSTA: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes is up next.




END

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