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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Thursday, January 8th, 2015

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Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
Date: January 8, 2015
Guest: Laura Haim, Dan Walters, Nihad Awad, Alan Dershowitz


LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: One of the suspects in the Paris
massacre left an ID card at the scene of the murders of 12 people in Paris,
a name that has been on the U.S. no-fly list for years.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CONAN O`BRIEN, COMEDIAN: This story hits home for anyone who day in
and day out mocks political, social and religious figures.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A manhunt ongoing right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A massive search under way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those two suspects are still at large.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There have been reports of sightings throughout
the night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This manhunt now has moved.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Searching a town about an hour outside of Paris.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A major police precincts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Helicopters in the air, armored, military assault-
type vehicles.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are considered armed and dangerous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: France is completely obsessed with this manhunt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Heavy security presence in Paris.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stunning images coming out of Paris.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Night has fallen in the last hour or so.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People showing their support and grief.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The spirit of France is one that lives on
freedom.

O`BRIEN: Anyone in the world tonight now has to think twice before
making a joke.

JON STEWART, COMEDIAN: It shouldn`t be an act of courage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Freedom of expression through art.

STEWART: They were killed for their cartoons.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It could not be more upset and saddened.

O`BRIEN: It`s not the way it`s supposed to be.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They have touched the core, the heart of the
French republic.

O`BRIEN: It`s a right some people are inexplicably forced to die for.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bells of Notre Dame rang.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: Tonight in France, police continue to search for two
brothers suspected of carrying out yesterday`s attack on the French
satirical magazine "Charlie Hebdo." Twelve people were killed in
yesterday`s attack, including eight journalists and two police officers.
Eleven people were injured.

It was a national day of mourning in France today. At noon, the
country stopped for a moment of silence and at 8:00 p.m. Paris time, the
Eiffel Tower went dark.

In our nation`s capital, President Obama visited the French embassy to
sign a condolence book in honor of those killed yesterday.

Tonight, police are on the manhunt for brothers Cherif and Said
Kouachi, who were both known to French intelligence authorities before the
attack for their ties to radical Islamic terrorism. Two senior
counterterrorism officials tell NBC News that the older brother, Said
Kouachi travelled to Yemen in 2011 to be trained by an al Qaeda affiliate
for several months before returning to France.

Said`s national identification card was also found in one of the
getaway cars, according to French officials. According to "The New York
Times", the younger of the two brothers Cherif was arrested in 2005,
halting his flan plans of traveling to Syria and Iraq.

Then in 2008, Cherif was convicted on terrorism charges. A Homeland
Security official today said both brothers have been in the U.S. terrorism
database and the U.S. no-fly list, quote, "for years."

Police are searching a suburb about 90 minutes outside of Paris for
the brothers after reports of two men resembling the suspects were said to
have robbed a gas station at gun point.

On Sunday, Attorney General Eric Holder will travel to Paris for
international talks on countering terrorism.

Joining me now from Paris is NBC News chief foreign correspondent
Richard Engel.

Richard, what is the latest there now?

RICHARD ENGEL, NBC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the
manhunt is continuing, and today we are learning a lot more about these two
brothers. There is a dragnet under way with the media every hour putting
their pictures on television. The police and actually the military asking
for public reports, asking for tips, if anyone sees these individuals, to
immediately call authorities.

This is the scenario that a lot of French people and a lot of
counterterrorism officials around the world fear most. This is not -- it
doesn`t appear to be a foreign terrorist attack or a lone wolf radicalized
individual who decided to take matters into his own hands. This was a
homegrown cell that had connections, it seems, to international terrorist
groups. And throughout the day, we`ve been trying to piece together
exactly what led to the radicalization of these two brothers, the two
brothers that were apparently quite close of Algerian descent, Said and
Cherif -- Said the older brother at 34, Cherif, 32.

Actually, Cherif had been much better known to counterterrorism
officials. As you mentioned, he was arrested in 2005, served a year and a
half in prison on counterterrorism charges, was believed to become even
further radicalized while in prison. The older brother was seen as
something of a follower. And now, we`re learning that it was, in fact, the
older brother, Said, who in 2011 traveled to Yemen and received months of
military training from the al Qaeda affiliate in Yemen.

O`DONNELL: Richard, is that the training that we saw on display in
those videos yesterday, in the handling of weapons as they were moving
through the street?

ENGEL: It`s very hard to know. In Yemen, there are a lot of lawless
places where they could have received training in firearms. They could
have received training in small movement tactic, because that`s the kind of
thing we`re seeing in that video, how you handle a weapon, how you handle a
weapon, how you move in a building, how you clear a room, how you cradle
the weapon and move with purpose and aggression.

They could have received that kind of training in Yemen. They could
have received it also in Syria. There are reports that one or both of the
brothers also recently traveled to Syria.

What`s interesting about the Yemen connection, however, is, was the
Yemen al Qaeda affiliate the one that according to U.S. counterterrorism
officials gave the older brother months of training. It was that al Qaeda
affiliate that had specifically marked for death, marked for execution the
editor of "Charlie Hebdo", calling him someone who should be killed because
of the magazine`s perceived insult against Islam.

O`DONNELL: Richard Engel, thank you very much for joining us from
Paris tonight.

Joining me now, Laura Haim, White House correspondent for the French
network Canal Plus, and Jim Cavanaugh, MSNBC law enforcement analyst.

Laura, it was a day of mourning in your country today. I know you`re
in Washington, but you`re very much in contact with people in France. What
is your sense of what that was like in France today?

LAURA HAIM, CANAL PLUS: It was a shock. French people are not
afraid. They just want to know how the end is going to happen.

And according to a lot of French people I spoke with, it could be a
tragic end. People are now expecting a bloodier end. People think that
those two brothers are not going to surrender themselves. They`re going to
fight.

A lot of media, but also the whole country is expecting this fight.
They were in the past, they had nothing to lose, were young Muslim --
French Muslim was in his house and was waiting for the police and people to
come. He fought the police people. He had a lot of weapons.

And there were a lot of journalists I spoke with, a lot of officials I
spoke with are convinced that the manhunt is going to end in a bloody
battle.

O`DONNELL: Jim Cavanaugh, what`s your reaction to that?

JIM CAVANAUGH, MSNBC LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think that`s a
good assessment. I think there`s a better than even chance, Lawrence, that
these guys are going to use guns. Look, we know they used them against
innocent people and slaughtered them. We know they`ve used them against
the police.

We know from Richard`s reporting and NBC reporting that they`ve had
these contacts with Yemen, with AQAP possibly, maybe had the training.

So, all of the cards are in order for them to be involved in this
conflict with the police, because after you kill a dozen people, and
slaughter journalists, policemen, janitors and maintenance workers, there`s
not much left for you. You`re not going to be in that society anymore.
Your only chance is, you know, a martyr`s death, shoot it out with the
Gendarmerie, or maybe escape to Syria or North Africa.

So, I think it is. She`s right, absolutely spot on. I think it`s a
better than even chance once these guys are confronted. But they will lose
this gun battle. They will lose that gun battle --

HAIM: Yes.

CAVANAUGH: -- when it happens.

HAIM: I just would like to add something. They have been trained to
die in front of the cameras. That`s what they`re looking. And it`s very
dangerous, and in France, especially among reporters and among police
people, everyone is aware of what`s going to happen. Are they going to die
in front of the cameras with the whole world watching? That`s what they
want.

They want maximum publicity. They want the actions to be seen. And
in my personal opinion, and also from the people I spoke with, they`re not
going to surrender again. They`re going to want a bloody battle in front
of the cameras. And it`s going to be very difficult to watch.

O`DONNELL: Jim Cavanaugh, on the manner of the ID that was left in
the car. It`s kind of striking to me because it`s just an amazingly
amateur moment. And, in fact, most first-time car thieves in America would
not do that.

And is there anything that tells you the range of possible behavior
here? Meaning, on the mistake side for them, what other kinds of things
they could trip into?

CAVANAUGH: Right, they`re not practiced fugitives, Lawrence. You hit
specifically on it. These are guys with grandiose ideas to be
international terrorist actors, ala Carlos the Jackal. They think they are
elude escape for years, commit terrorist acts, you know, be the martyrs for
the terrorist network.

But they`re not criminals. They`re not good criminals. They left
their ID there, they went to the wrong address. One guy lost his shoe.

And now, I can tell you they`re not good fugitives. Look, I spent
four decades hunting down fugitives and wanted people. Some people who
have a real criminal background as you mentioned, they can get away and
stay away.

But these guys aren`t going to be able to do that. But what they do
have at their finger trips are triggers and so they can get in a citizen`s
car and shoot them and take their car and drive that until they run out of
gas. But they`re limited by physics, by gravity, by what limits us all.

And I agree with the assessment of the journalist from Washington that
these guys want that theater, they want that theater. They may not get
that. And let`s hope that no other citizen in French or police officer has
to be injured or killed at the hands of these two guys.

O`DONNELL: Laura, quickly before we go, you seem very confident that
the police are going to end this. Is that the feeling with the people you
talk to in France? That these suspects are not going to escape? The
French police are going to get them?

HAIM: Yes, absolutely. The French police is quite spectacular in
this fight against terrorists. There`s a special unit which is called the
Red, it`s like Special Forces on the ground, are working hard at this
moment, they`re on location. According to what we know, they`re really
trying to get close to those guys. They`re extremely worried about what`s
going to happen when they`re going to be really close to their house, where
they are.

But again, those police officials are extremely well-equipped,
extremely well-trained to fight terrorists. And everybody now is expecting
to see what`s going to happen in the following hours.

O`DONNELL: Laura Haim and Jim Cavanaugh, thank you both for joining
me tonight.

CAVANAUGH: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, California and Washington politics rocked today
by Senator Barbara Boxer`s announcement she will not run for re-election.

And in the "Rewrite" tonight, another lesson in the difference between
movies and history books, this time using the film "Selma", which now has a
Golden Globe nomination for best picture.

And accusations of sex abuse involving abuse of underage girls.
British royalty involved in these accusations, and attorney Alan
Dershowitz. Alan Dershowitz will join me with his response to these
accusations.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Late this afternoon, the United States Olympic Committee
selected Boston as the United States candidate city that will bid to host
the Summer Olympics in 2024. Boston beat Los Angeles, San Francisco, and
Washington. The International Olympic Committee will make its decision in
2017.

Up next, Barbara Boxer`s announcement today that rocked American
politics from coast to coast.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Grandma, have you made a decision regarding the
2016 Senate race?

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: I have, Zach. Definitely.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you retiring?

BOXER: Zach, I am never going to retire. The work is too important.
But I will not be running for the Senate in 2016. I want to come home. I
want to come to home to the state that I love so much, California.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: If you`re a California Democrat who`s been waiting to run
for United States Senate, you`ve been waiting 22 years. For the last 22
years, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein have represented California in
the United States and no serious Democrat ever considered challenging them
in their re-election campaigns.

Barbara Boxer has opened the way now by announcing that she will not
run for re-election.

The news surprised her former House colleague, Democratic Leader Nancy
Pelosi.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REPORTER: Your reaction to Senator Boxer`s retirement?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), CALIFORNIA: What?

REPORTER: She announced that she`s going to retire.

PELOSI: She called me before I came down here and I came to you.
That`s why she called me. She said she wanted to talk to me personally. I
thought she maybe wanted to have dinner tonight or something. Oh, my.

She`s really a great leader for our country, small in size but a giant
in terms of her contribution to the country. I didn`t know. As I said,
all I had was a call from her but I didn`t want to keep you waiting. So,
it`s a real loss, I think.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining me now, Dan Walters, columnist for "The Sacramento
Bee".

Dan, I`ve got the Democratic front-runners right here. Obviously,
Attorney General Kamala Harris, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom. Who
else? And what about Republicans running for that seat?

DAN WALTERS, THE SACRAMENTO BEE: Well, there are a few other
Democrats who are kind of possibilities. One of them, Tom Steyer, the
billionaire who made global warming his cause. That`s a definite
possibility. He could be a self-financed candidate.

There are several statewide officials in California who might run
other than Gavin Newsom. Alex Padilla, who`s the new secretary of state,
for example. John Chung, who`s the new state treasurer.

So, there are other possibilities floating out there. Of course,
there are always other members of Congress who hanker to move up to a place
with a better, longer terms and so forth. There are a few of those guys
noodling around.

How about Republicans? Well, Republicans probably need not apply,
truly. This is a pretty blue state. And in 2016, it`s going to be a
presidential election year and the turnout is going to be much higher than
it was in 2014. So, it will be very, very difficult for any Republican to
win the seat.

It would have to be a fluke of some kind. But there are potential
candidates. The probably the strongest would be Condoleezza Rice. But
there are other -- Carly Fiorina, who`s been noodling around with running
for president, could run for the Senate instead.

Kevin Faulconer, the new mayor of San Diego, is a possibility. He`s
definitely looking to move up in the political ranks at some point.

So, there are other candidates kicking around. The question is
whether any Republicans would have money to really mount a decent race or
not. And barring that, it`s going to be one of those Democrats who winds
up with the seat.

O`DONNELL: And Jerry Brown is going to leave the governorship wide
open in four years, right? So, does Kamala Harris and Gavin Newsom think
about while they`re thinking about the Senate?

WALTERS: They`re definitely thinking about that and they might also
think about Dianne Feinstein`s seat. There`s a pretty good chance I`d say
that Dianne Feinstein is not going to run for another term in 2018. She`ll
be 85 years old in 2018. So, at least one other position will be opening
up with Jerry Brown`s seat. And maybe Dianne Feinstein`s as well.

I don`t think there`s going to be any chance that Kamala Harris and
Gavin Newsom are going to run against each other. They`re fairly close
politically. They share the same base. They even the same political
consultant. So, that`s not probably in the cards.

They`ll sit down. They`ll figure out who, if either one of them, is
going to run for the Senate. And the other one will wait around and run
for either for the Senate again in 2018 or the governorship.

My guess is it`s more likely of the two that Kamala Harris will run
for the Senate in 2016.

O`DONNELL: There is that calculation, though, if you want to get
beyond the Senate actually, if you want to go all the way up to the top of
the White House, it`s better to run from a governor`s office than from a
Senate office.

WALTERS: It`s kind of odd. It didn`t used to be that way. It`s been
that way in recent years. Yes, that`s a possibility. A lot of it is just
kind of predilection. I mean, what do you kind of oriented toward doing?
Do you want to sit in the Senate and make speeches and do legislation or do
you run the largest state in the United States? It`s that.

But I think -- I have a hunch that Gavin Newsom leans more towards
running for governor than he would be for the Senate.

O`DONNELL: Dan Walters, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

WALTERS: You`re welcome.

O`DONNELL: Thank you.

Coming up, the federal probe of Governor Chris Christie is going
beyond the bridge.

And in the "Rewrite", what you really need to pay attention to in the
movie "Selma."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O`BRIEN: In this country, we just take it for granted that it`s our
right to poke fun at the untouchable or the sacred. But today`s tragedy in
Paris reminds us very viscerally that it`s a right some people are
inexplicably forced to die for.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: In the spotlight tonight, the attack on cartoons. In
today`s print edition of "The Washington Post", the op-ed page bravely
reprints the 2011 "Charlie Hebdo" cover cartoon that provoked the bombing
of the "Charlie Hebdo" offices. It depicts Mohammed with the headline
saying, 100 lashes if you`re not dying of laughter.

Now, I have that print edition of "The Washington Post" right here on
the desk. I cannot hold it up. I can`t show it to you, because like most
news organizations in America, including "The New York Times" and the
"Associated Press", this network has decided not to show any of the
"Charlie Hebdo" cartoons that led to yesterday`s murders of the cartoonist.

In "The Washington Post" piece accompanying the cartoon entitled "The
Defenders of Freedom", Charles Lane writes, "If freedom means anything, it
means freedom of expression -- to include expression that some might find
irresponsible, offensive or even blasphemous. In the realm of art and
ideas, pretty much nothing is, or should be, sacred, lest we head down the
slippery slope to censorship, or self-censorship."

The executive editor of "The New York Times" explained his reasoning
for not publishing the cartoons. "We have a standard that is long held and
that serves us well that there is a line between gratuitous insult and
satire and most of these are gratuitous insult."

Today, the lawyer for "Charlie Hebdo" told the French newspaper "Le
Monde" that 1 million copies of "Charlie Hebdo" will be published next
Wednesday with the help of other French media organizations. The usual
circulation for "Charlie Hebdo" is between 30,000 and 60,000.

Joining me now is "Washington Post" columnist and MSNBC political
analyst, Eugene Robinson, and executive director and co-founder of the
Council on American Islamic Relations, Nihad Awad.

Eugene Robinson, first of all, what was it like at "The Post" today
when that cartoon went up? I want to just add, one of the reasons that
"The New York Times" gave in consideration of running these cartoons was
the danger, was the actual danger to their reporter, especially who are
stationed abroad. Was that one of the considerations of "The Washington
Post"?

EUGENE ROBINSON, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, you know, I`m not a
member of editorial board, Lawrence. And let me make clear, of course, we
have an absolute division of church and state at "The Washington Post", not
that the distinction will be everyone recognizes it and understands it, but
the editorial pages are run separately from the news pages. This was a
decision by the editorial board which runs the editorial page and the op-ed
page.

And, you know, I`m not a member of the board so I can`t speak to the
deliberations, except in my view, how can you write about this without
giving readers some idea of what`s at the heart of this awful event. And
if you don`t give them any glimpse of the offensive material in question,
how are readers to judge or to really understand what happened?

So, I think on that basis alone, there`s a good reason for having run
this cartoon.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Bill Maher said last night about the
world`s great religions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL MAHER, TV HOST: We have to stop saying, well, we should not
insult the great religion. First of all, there are no great religions.
They`re all stupid and dangerous.

(APPLAUSE)

And we should insult them and we should be able to insult whatever we
want. That`s what free speech is like.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Nihad Awad, should we be able to insult whatever we want?

NIHAD AWAD, COUNCIL ON AMERICAN-ISLAMIC RELATIONS: Well, people
insult themselves, insult the intelligence of other people who are watching
them, because he has the right to disagree with the religion. But just to
make fun of other people and just to earn money and just to -- you know, to
be insensitive, it`s his choice.

Do I get offended by his lack of sophistication, his lack of
knowledge, his lack of understanding? He offends himself more than he
offends me. But, nevertheless, he has the right to do it. And I`m not
going to commit violence against him or yearn for violence against him.

We live in a free world. We live in a free society. Everything
expresses himself. And what comes out of me shows my character.

And what comes out of Bill Maher and others, it shows his character.
And, therefore, instead of me saying he`s crooked, I am straight -- you
know, truth stands out from, you know, other than truth.

So, therefore, he`s entitled to his bigotry, I`m entitled to my
decency. And we define each other based on what we do and what comes out
of ourselves and out of our mouths.

O`DONNELL: Would you like to make what you call his bigotry illegal.

AWAD: No. We live in a free society. And there`s no such thing
called illegal when it comes to free speech, and accept if he accuses me of
committing a crime and he defames me, accuses me of something that I have
not done, under the U.S. law, that falls under libel and defamation, you
know, laws.

But, beyond that, he can say he doesn`t like me, I say I don`t like
him. But he or I cannot accuse each other of doing something that we have
not done.

O`DONNELL: Eugene, what do you make of the media landscape on this in
terms of dealing with the basic exhibits of the cases or the cartoons.

EUGENE ROBINSON, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, there`s
a legitimate issue here. And our policy has been that, of course, we don`t
want to give gratuitous offense to anybody.

And if you had asked me a month ago in a vacuum, should we run the
cartoons from "Charlie Hebdo," I would have said, "Absolutely not," because
, again, some of them -- many of them are juvenile, they`re kind of dumb,
they`re -- you know, patently offensive.

However, that was in a vacuum. And, today, you know, as of yesterday,
we have this horrific event. And we have these cartoons at the heart of
it.

And it is not necessary to run them all, in my view. It is not
necessary to make some sort of huge in-your-face statement by -- you know,
in whose face by making a show of it.

But just, you know, in informational way. I mean, this is the
business we are in. And in order to tell this story and to tell it right,
I just don`t see how you do it in a complete vacuum.

I think that would be wrong. And I think -- and I also think that we
should just take into account the fact that this is a free society, and
free expression has to be free.

O`DONNELL: Eugene Robinson and Nihad Awad, thank you both very much
for joining me tonight.

ROBINSON: Great to be here, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Alan Dershowitz will join me to respond to
accusations that he had sex to a minor, and to respond to a defamation
lawsuit that has been brought against him.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

The federal investigation of Governor Chris Christie is going beyond
the bridge. "The Wall Street Journal`s" Heather Hadden is reporting that
federal prosecutors in New Jersey have now subpoenaed Governor Christie`s
reelection campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

There are a number of documents related to meetings with the mayor of
Jersey State. The mayor says they were canceled after he did not endorse
Christie`s reelection.

The mayor said the allegations about the meeting -- made the
allegations about the meeting cancellations last January after the time for
some traffic problems in Fort Lee famous e-mail was revealed in the George
Washington Bridge lane closure story.

And "Politicker New Jersey" is reporting that the testimony of Bill
Baroni, the Former Executive Director of the Port Authority, has been
subpoenaed by the federal grand jury investigating the lane closures.

That testimony is from Baroni`s appearance before the New Jersey
Assembly`s select committee on investigation. The grand jury also wants
any mail records obtained about the lane closures by that select committee.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Next in the "Rewrite," the important truth about "Selma."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

In tonight`s "Rewrite," the difference between movies and history
books. Here is David in the Oscar-worthy performance of the Reverend Dr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. in Ava Duvernay`s Oscar-worthy movie, "Selma."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR., LEADER, AFRICAN-AMERICAN CIVIL RIGHTS
MOVEMENT: As long as I am unable to exercise my Constitutional right to
vote, I do not have command of my own life.

I cannot determine my own destiny. But it`s determined for me by
people who would rather see me suffer than succeed.

(APPLAUSE)

Those that have gone before us say, "No more."

AUDIENCE: No more.

LUTHER KING, JR: No more.

AUDIENCE: No more.

LUTHER KING, JR.: That means protests. That means march.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

That means disturb the peace.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

That means jail.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

That means risks. And that is hard. We will not wait any longer.
Give us the vote.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

We`re not asking, we`re demanding. Give us the vote.

AUDIENCE: Give us the vote.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

"Selma" has been nominated for Golden Globes for Best Picture, Best
Actor, Best Director, and Best Original Song. The winners will be
announced Sunday night.

At the beginning of almost every recent awards season, we have had to
teach America the difference between movies and history books. No
historical movie has ever been perfectly accurate and never will be.

It is in the nature of movie writing. Drama will always be tweaked,
sequence sometimes rearranged, hugely important moments left out, all in
the interest of making the movie work.

That`s what writers and directors and actors say to each other all the
time when they`re analyzing a scene, "Does this work?" When they`re
analyzing a screenplay, a television episode, "Does it work?"

Does it all come together and have the intended effect.
Does anything interrupt or slow down or confuse the emotional momentum.

Perfectly worthy scenes are dropped from scripts for reasons of pace
or expense. There are endless artistic and practical and budgetary
discussions about what can be included in a movie and what can`t,
discussions about what works.

History books don`t have those kinds of challenges. They include
every findable fact or theory, or even rumor that can be attributed to an
identifiable source.

The university presses that publish our history books never say,
"Sorry, your manuscript is a thousand words too long. We`re going to have
to cut something."

They never say, "We can`t afford to include that description of the
Battle of Gettysburg." But movie directors are told, "We can`t afford to
film the Battle of Gettysburg, so you`ll just have to make your movie
without it."

Movies are movies. History books are history books. Movies are works
of art -- some great art, some good art, some terrible art.

"Selma," for me, is great art. I have quibbles with the screenplay,
which is not nominated for a Golden Globe. But then, I almost always have
quibbles or, more often, very harsh criticisms of screenplays.

The rarest thing in Hollywood is for a writer like to walk out of a
movie theater and say, "I wouldn`t change a word of that script."

It happens about once every other year so. But I`ve never known many
screenwriters to actually agree very much on exactly which scripts they
wouldn`t change.

In my experience, people in the business -- writers, actors, directors
-- dislike more movies and more TV shows more intensely than the general
public ever will.

But we want to love them. We want to have that experience you can
only have in a dark theater, locked in the grip of a movie.

I have that watching "Selma," which ended with the biggest and longest
standing ovation I`ve ever experienced in a theater. It ended with most of
the thousand New Yorkers in the Ziegfeld Theater crying.

You owe yourself the experience of watching "Selma." And when it`s
over, when you finish crying, you might want to debate the point of how
President Johnson was portrayed in the movie.

If you do that, you will be joining a debate that has been happily
going on in English since Shakespeare. How precisely accurate was this
historical drama.

I will not be joining that debate because the LBJ scenes are not an
important part of the experience of that movie. It is not what most people
are going to leave the theater thinking about.

You leave the theater thinking about how recently it was that
registering to vote was the most was the most difficult thing you could try
to do if you were black and living in Selma.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OPRAH WINFREY, ACTRESS: It`s all right this time.

CLAY CHAPPELL, ACTOR: It`s right when I say it`s right. Recite the
Constitution`s Preamble. Do you know what a preamble is.

WINFREY: We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more
perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for
the common defense, promote the general welfare --

CHAPPELL: How many county judges in Alabama.

WINFREY: Sixty-seven.

CHAPPELL: Name them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: There are millions of younger Americans who will see this
movie who do not know that going to church in the south could get you
killed if you were black. During my lifetime, I remember --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

-- The bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham,
Alabama when four black girls were killed wearing their best Sunday
dresses.

Addie Mae Collins, age 14, Cynthia Wesley, 14, Carole Robertson, 14,
Denise McNair, age 11. I`ve read about that bombing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

I`ve even stood at the very spot where the bomb was planted. I
visited the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute that is now across the street
from the 16th Street Baptist Church. And, there, I saw the shoes --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

-- Denise McNair was wearing the day that she was killed, in an
exhibit about the bombing. And I knew what --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

-- journalism and history books tell us about the bombing of the 16th
Street Baptist Church, but none of that prepared me for the shock of the
bombing in Ava Duvernay`s movie.

I actually rocked forward in my seat as if I was thrown against the
dashboard of a car. I felt something I had never felt before about that
bombing, something history books could never make me feel.

I felt the raw, physical shock of that explosion. It is the most
shocking and horrifying thing I have seen on film. And it should be
because it is tragically true.
True.

"Selma" is full of profoundly important truths like that, truths that
only movies can tell. "Selma" is a very powerful emotional experience,
which is what a great movie is supposed to be.

The emotional power doesn`t come from anything that happened in the
safety of the Oval Office.

It comes from the much more important and painful truth of how
dangerous it was to go to church if you were a black girl in Birmingham,
the important and powerful truth of how much hatred and murderous violence
flowed openly in America because of skin color, the important and painful
truth that simply trying to vote meant taking your life in your hands for
African-Americans in Selma, the truth that America couldn`t change without
first watching innocent people, noble people, including children, bombed
and lynched and assassinated.

And America didn`t change because it was the right thing to do.
That`s never a good enough reason. America changed because it was shamed
into changing.

That is the truth of "Selma."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

And, now, for the "Good News," good police news. A police officer in
the Detroit suburb of --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

-- Shelby Township saved the life of a four-year-old child who had to
be dropped off a balcony to escape an apartment fire.

Officer Paul Sorbo caught the little girl as her mother dropped her
from the second floor balcony and, then, with the help of one of the
apartment residents, used a ladder to climb into that apartment and carried
the mother down on his back.

He then helped a man and his dog down from the third floor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

No one was seriously hurt in the fire. Thank you for your courage and
heroism, Officer Sorbo.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

Billionaire investor and convicted sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein went
to prison for over a year after he pleaded guilty to one count of
solicitation of minors for prostitution.

That plea deal was negotiated between the federal government and
Epstein`s lawyer, including Alan Dershowitz. Now, Alan Dershowitz is being
accused of having sex with an underage girl in a lawsuit filed against the
government by some of Jeffrey Epstein`s alleged victims.

A woman known as Jane Doe Number Three said Epstein forced her to have
sex with Alan Dershowitz on multiple occasions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

A court motion filed last month by Attorney`s Paul Cassell and Bradley
Edwards says, quote, "In addition to being a participant in the abuse of
Jane Doe Number Three and other minors, Dershowitz has an eyewitness to the
sexual abuse of many other minors by Epstein and several of Epstein`s co-
conspirators."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

Alan Dershowitz has denied the allegations and has called on attorneys
for Jane Doe Number Three to be disbarred. But, on Tuesday, Bradley
Edwards and Paul Cassell, Doe`s attorneys, filed a defamation lawsuit
against Alan Dershowitz.

Joining me now from Miami is the Harvard Law School professor and
attorney, Alan Dershowitz. Professor Dershowitz, when this story first
broke, you said you were going to file a defamation complaint against these
lawyers.

They`ve now started against you. But, first, let`s get right to
where, I know, you want to go, which is deal with these specific
accusations as we know them.

What is your response to them.

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL PROFESSOR AND ATTORNEY: Well,
they`re totally false and made-up. I was never in the same state in New
Mexico at the time she said I had sex with her in New Mexico. I can prove
it by documentary evidence.

I was never on Jeffrey Epstein`s island, where she said I had sex with her
at any time she was on the island. I can prove that by documentary and
eyewitness testimony.

And I was never on a plane with her, where she said I had sex with
her. And I can prove that by documentary and eyewitness testimony.

The story is totally, completely fabricated from top to bottom. I am
thrilled that they`re suing me for defamation.

The only reason I was going to sue them was not because I`m interested
in collecting money. I`m interested in putting them under oath because,
right now, they have accused me of these horrendous things without a single
affidavit, without a single piece of evidence.

They just threw it into a pleading in a case where I`m not even a
party. It`s like a drive-by legal shooting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

And my only responses could be to get them under oath.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

I have challenged her to formally accuse me of rape. And I will waive
statutes of limitations and subject myself to a prosecution.

But if she accuses me of rape formally, she goes to jail for making a
false charge. I have challenged the lawyers to go under oath and repeat
these charges, or repeat them to you, so I can sue them for defamation.

But they`re hiding behind litigation privilege. They put it in this
legal document.

Imagine if any of you out there were accused in a legal document of
doing something as horrible as this, and you`re told there`s no legal
recourse at all. But, believe me, there will be a legal recourse.

And the terrible thing is this -- the effect it`s going to have on
rape victims. Because rape victims generally tell the truth.

This woman made up this whole story. And when I prove it conclusively
beyond any doubt by physical and documentary evidence, it will hurt other
rape victims.

And that`s the real problem. And these lawyers pretend to be victims`
rights lawyers. They are unprofessional, unethical.

They didn`t do adequate checking. They filed these charges and they
will pay a heavy --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

-- price for having done so.

O`DONNELL: In one of the points you`ve made about this, you showed
that they actually also claim that Former President Clinton was on Mr.
Epstein`s island at some point.

And your information and research seems to indicate that the Secret
Service -- records indicate that President Clinton has never been on that
island.

DERSHOWITZ: That`s true. Not only that, but they`ve accused at least
two former prime ministers as well. And, you know, you shouldn`t ever
falsely accuse a president or a prime minister because they have Secret
Service with them all the time.

And the documentary evidence is clear and conclusive. This is a
serial liar who has lied about so many people.

She claimed to have met the Queen. Buckingham Palace denied that.
Why anyone, any responsible lawyer would believe her and file this kind or
charge.

It`s like, you know, putting graffiti on a bathroom door and then
running away. But he picked on the wrong innocent person.

I have the resources and the will. I`m 76 years old, I`m retired. I
will drain my bank account.

I will do everything in my power not only to prove that I didn`t do
it. And I think everybody who have seen this understands it.

That`s the case. And I will prove it to any skeptics by documentary
evidence. But that they willfully and deliberately made this up in order
to gain a litigation advantage, line their pockets with money, and they
have to pay a heavy consequence for this. And they will.

O`DONNELL: Professor Dershowitz, before you go, I want to ask you
about something you said yesterday about the attack in France.

DERSHOWITZ: Right.

O`DONNELL: In an interview with "Newsmax," there`s a headline of the
article that says, "Alan Dershowitz, France reaped what it sowed in the
Paris attack."

DERSHOWITZ: No, no --

O`DONNELL: That`s their headline. Let me quote -- let me give you a
quotation and I hope --

DERSHOWITZ: Sure.

O`DONNELL: -- I hope you will tell me you didn`t say this -- they
have you quoted as saying about France, "They reward every terrorist."

DERSHOWITZ: That`s true.

O`DONNELL: That is absolutely not true. You know it`s not true.

DERSHOWITZ: Absolutely. They have the worst record of any country in
Europe on terrorism.

O`DONNELL: You`re saying they -- you want to stand by, "They reward
ever terrorist." Tell me how --

DERSHOWITZ: -- they have released convicted -- let me give you a
context in which I said this.

O`DONNELL: It`s a crazy thing to say.

DERSHOWITZ: I`m sorry, it`s right.

O`DONNELL: France does not reward every terrorist --

DERSHOWITZ: They have the worst record of any country in Europe --

O`DONNELL: Do you want to say they`ve rewarded a few terrorists.

DERSHOWITZ: No.

O`DONNELL: Are you really going to sit here and say they`ve rewarded
every terrorist?

DERSHOWITZ: Virtually every terrorist who has been convicted and sent
to prison in Paris has either gotten out -- the point I was making was a
general one.

And that is that they voted for Palestinian statehood for a country
that was built on terrorism. They have done everything to avoid joining
the fight on terrorism.

I feel terrible for these people. I feel terrible for France but --

O`DONNELL: Virtually every country in the world has voted for that
statehood. You know that.

DERSHOWITZ: United States hasn`t and --

O`DONNELL: Virtually every country in the world.

DERSHOWITZ: Well, good countries don`t vote for it. And when you go
--

O`DONNELL: So, most countries in the world are all Alan Dershowitz`s
bad countries.

DERSHOWITZ: I`ve written a book called "White Terrorism Works." And
what I do is I prove in that book that terrorism is rewarded and
particularly, all through Europe. terrorism is rewarded.

Europe is part of the problem. France is part of the problem. I feel
terribly sorry for the victims but France is part of the problem. Maybe
this will give them a wake-up call and have them join the war against
terrorism rather than becoming part of the problem, of facilitating and
rewarding terrorism. I stand by that statement.

O`DONNELL: I will advise you, just to -- for the credibility of your
own judgment on anything else you ever say publicly, don`t ever say that
France rewards every terrorist. That is false --

DERSHOWITZ: Sir, I don`t need your advice on this issue. And please
don`t generalize --

O`DONNELL: Alan Dershowitz, we are out of time, we are out of time.
I`m sorry you didn`t apologize for that.

DERSHOWITZ: Of course not, I stand by it.

O`DONNELL: Thanks for joining us.

DERSHOWITZ: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes is up next.

END

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