Skip navigation

'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

Read the transcript to the Tuesday show

  Most Popular
Most viewed

Date: May 5, 2015
Guest: Maria Teresa Kumar, Krystal Ball, Josh Barro, Andrew Alperstein,
Andrew Levy, Adam Smith

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: That does it for us tonight, we will see you again
tomorrow. Now, it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good
evening Lawrence.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Hey, Rachel, I just want to get
something straight. You began that by saying, I love this guy.


Now on cable news we work without a studio audience, so sometimes we have
to underline the jokes. Which -- yes, so that`s a joke, the "I love this
guy" part.

MADDOW: You know, love is a complicated word.


It means more than it sounds like it means.

O`DONNELL: Rachel, thank you very much.

MADDOW: Thanks Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Well, there is a new legal development in the criminal case
against the Baltimore police officers who arrested Freddie Gray.

And there are new details tonight about possible Islamic State links to the
two men who launched an attack in Garland, Texas, Sunday night before they
were killed by police.

And Hillary Clinton said tonight that she would push immigration reform,
even executive orders, farther than President Obama has.


HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I will fight for comprehensive
immigration reform.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hillary Clinton wants to make this visit to Nevada
all about immigration.

CLINTON: Not a single Republican candidate is clearly and consistently
supporting a path to citizenship.

MIKE HUCKABEE, FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR: I will never, ever apologize for

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mike Huckabee, getting back in the game.

HUCKABEE: I don`t come from a family dynasty, but a working family.

candidate than Ben Carson is. Is his whole campaign based on once you go
black, you never go --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Attorney General Loretta Lynch paid a visit to
Baltimore today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don`t always choose moments, you know, sometimes
they choose us.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To meet with city and law enforcement officials.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The relationship between police and community is the
civil rights issue of this generation.

we can solve it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The claim today by ISIS that it had a hand in the
shooting-attack on an anti-Islamist gathering in Texas --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is still under investigation by the FBI and other
members of the intelligence community.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Neighbors say the two men lived in the apartment
complex behind me together for years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would never have expected this out of them.

people because you are offended by what they draw.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Muslims consider depictions of the Prophet Muhammad to
be offensive.

STEWART: Even if they drew it to offend you --


No shooting of them.


O`DONNELL: Hillary Clinton was in Vegas this evening where she promised to
go even further than President Obama has on immigration reform.


CLINTON: I will fight for comprehensive immigration reform and a path to
citizenship for you and for your families across our country.

I will fight to stop partisan attacks on the executive actions that would
put dreamers, including those with us today at risk of deportation.

And if Congress continues to refuse to act, as president, I would do
everything possible under the law to go even further.

There are more people -- like many parents of Dreamers and others with deep
ties and contributions to our communities who deserve a chance to stay and
I will fight for them.


O`DONNELL: In the swing state of Nevada where 26 percent of the population
is Hispanic, Hillary Clinton targeted her Republican challengers and their
stances on immigration reform.


CLINTON: Make no mistake, today not a single Republican candidate
announced or potential, is clearly and consistently supporting a path to
citizenship. Not one.

When they talk about legal status, that is code for second class status.


O`DONNELL: Maria Teresa Kumar, the Mathematics of this look even better
for Hillary Clinton tonight.

actually think that she is able to bring the A-team to her -- to her folks.

The fact that she has Hall Henarri(ph), who is now in Nevada, special
adviser, who was one of the folks that was inside the White House crafting
executive action.

Who knows it like the back of his hand, and he has Amanda Ratinari(ph) also
basically advising her. She has basically brought an A game, drawn the
line in the sand and saying, I dare you to cross it.

O`DONNELL: Krystal, what I like about this tactically is that Hillary
Clinton knows that whoever the nominee is, is going to try to run against
her on immigration reform.

And during the Republican primaries, they`re going to be just attacking her
all night about immigration reform --

KRYSTAL BALL, BUSINESSWOMAN: And attacking each other --

O`DONNELL: In all those debate --

BALL: For that matter --


O`DONNELL: Attacking each other. She`s saying, OK, go ahead.

BALL: Go ahead --

O`DONNELL: Go ahead, please do this, please come after me over this.

BALL: Absolutely, and you know what is so beautiful? Is that this is not
only the right policy, it is also the politically good policy. It is good
for her in a general election and certainly in a tough primary.

It is good for her to be aggressive in supporting comprehensive immigration
reform. And that`s what`s really exciting here, that it`s actually
politically expedient in addition to being the right thing.

So yes, she`s out, she`s bold, she`s willing to go even further than this
president which is exciting to see, which advocates have been looking for.

It`s the right place for her to be.

O`DONNELL: Let`s take a look -- take a look at what`s been happening for
Republicans with the nonwhite vote. George W. Bush, 2004, he wins, he gets
26 percent of the nonwhite vote.

John McCain, 2008, loses with 19 percent of the nonwhite vote. Mitt
Romney, 2012, loses with 17 percent of the nonwhite vote.

And Josh Barro, the Math now is, if you match George W. Bush`s performance
with the nonwhite vote as a Republican presidential candidate, you will
lose --

KUMAR: I don`t know --

BARRO: Right --

KUMAR: Will lose, yes --

BARRO: Because the nonwhite section of the electorate has gotten bigger --

O`DONNELL: Getting bigger and bigger --

BARRO: Overall, yes, I mean, I think, one thing that`s interesting about
this Hillary announcement though, this is another example of her being the
status quo candidate.

This is the Obama policy on immigration. She`s for comprehensive
immigration reforms, so is the president.

Yes, well, we`re going to have a Republican house in 2017, so we`re not
going to have a comprehensive immigration bill passed.

She`s going to use executive action on that front just as the President has
done. Maybe she will find some things by digging under the couch questions

KUMAR: But I think -- but I think --

BARRO: That you can do additionally --

KUMAR: But I think the fact that she elevated the idea that we are not
going to go anywhere else except for a citizenship and a path to

She`s actually appealing to a lot of independents who don`t believe in this
idea that we should basically have a permanent underclass.

This is -- that`s where she`s basic coercing, not only yes, the Latino
vote, but a lot of the independent white vote that doesn`t like the sniff
of actually going back to --

BALL: And also making the nuance argument about the difference between
citizenship and legal status.

KUMAR: Right --

BALL: Because these two things are not the same. This is going to be a
litmus test issue in the general election, because executive action
obviously, completely under the President`s control.

Day one, what do you do? Do you stick with the President`s action? Do you
take it even further or do you roll it back?

KUMAR: But you --


BALL: And it`s very hard to avoid that --

KUMAR: Boy, I think that she actually opens up an opportunity for a lot of
the folks at the senatorial level to actually basically say, this is where
the game is won.

We need not only Hillary Clinton to basically win --

O`DONNELL: But looking at the --


On the demographics of the --

BALL: Yes --

O`DONNELL: Particular state that the senators, you know --

KUMAR: But the wild thing is that you have states like Virginia where
Latinos are only 4 percent of the electorate.

They are the ones who are actually going to move whether or not someone
goes -- basically goes into the Senate.

The same thing in South Carolina, Lindsey Graham is sniffing around for the
presidential bid because his demographics have shifted, he doesn`t need all
-- he doesn`t need all white voters now if he can get enough margins to
basically get -- be pushed over the top by the Latino voters.

BALL: As in --

BARRO: In a way, this is like Obamacare now, in that, the Democrats
shifted from advocating a policy to defending it, which is stronger ground
to be on.

Because if you say, I`m going to rescind the executive actions, that means
for millions of people, they have work permits, they`re depended on it,
some work place --

BALL: Absolutely --

BARRO: And that throws a wrenching to things for them, it throws a
wrenching to things for families.

And so it`s a lot easier to say, don`t do the executive action than it is
to say, unwind the executive action and talk about what the -- what the
consequences that will be.

So I think --

BALL: Right --

KUMAR: In just harder than the status quo, always.

BARRO: Right, yes, and this is --

BALL: Right --

BARRO: And so, I mean as I said, she was trying to make -- you know, she`s
talking in this very active way, but she is in a way in this comfortable

Because there are a number of things that have been done under this
administration that were rocky to get there, but that the majority
electorate will want to keep in place.

She`s able to say, don`t go make a mess, don`t cause a bunch of new
problems by undoing these things. It`s sort of a state a course --

O`DONNELL: We have a new official attacker of Hillary Clinton. I mean,
Republican presidential --


Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, let`s listen to how he
started off.


HUCKABEE: We`ve lost our way morally. We`ve witnessed the slaughter of
over 55 million babies in the name of choice.

And we are now threatening the foundation of religious liberty by
criminalizing Christianity and demanding that we abandon Biblical
principles of natural marriage.


O`DONNELL: Maria Teresa Kumar, the preacher is back.

KUMAR: Not only is he back, he`s actually telling Republicans, listen,
actually lose this idea that we have to go only by high finance, financiers
and Wall Street.

Let`s actually start talking to blue-collar workers. I actually think that
he is going to be the one that -- Huckabee is going to be the one appealing
to Joe the plumber in a very significant way.

BALL: Absolutely --

KUMAR: And I think that`s going to be actually an interesting race.

BALL: Yes, and then there`s announcement speech, not only does he talk
about social conservatism, which of course, we all know him very well for.

He also talks about not going down the road of bad trade deals. He`s also
criticized those who want to cut social security.

So he`s trying to sound these, you know, those two notes of social
conservative and also economic populist.

Which can be very powerful, was very powerful in Iowa last time he run, but
now we just have so many candidates --

BARRO: Yes --

BALL: That I think it`s hard for him to break --

BARRO: I don`t -- I don`t --

KUMAR: But it doesn`t --

BARRO: See what -- sorry, go ahead.

KUMAR: No, because -- and -- because I mean it`ll interest you, let`s not
forget the fact that he`s actually talking about this Joe the plumber idea.

He is coming from Arkansas where all of a sudden on the down ballot, they
voted for a Republican when it came to the Senate just recently. But they
actually voted for minimum wage.

BARRO: Yes --

BALL: Right --


KUMAR: You can actually --

BARRO: No, but --

KUMAR: Start shopping that around and say --


KUMAR: Look --

BARRO: Yes, but this --

KUMAR: This is where I stand, this is where my state gets, let`s move this

BARRO: But they voted for a --

BALL: Yes --

BARRO: Republican at the Senate level, but I don`t think that you can win
a Republican presidential primary on this sorts of populist economic

Remember one of the things that Mike Huckabee got really beat up over the
last time he run for president, was a tax increase he did while he was
governor, which he did in order to avoid the sorts of draconian cuts that
Republican governors have done in other states.

That ultimately was not a popular thing in the Republican primary, I don`t
think Mike Huckabee offers anything that isn`t already offered in this
field by Ted Cruz, by Bobby Jindal, by various other candidates --

BALL: Marco Rubio --

KUMAR: Yes, right with that --

BARRO: That pure religious rights, I don`t think that separating himself
out on minimum wage and things like that, I don`t think --

KUMAR: I actually --

BALL: No --

BARRO: Need that --

KUMAR: I actually disagree. Because I think what you`re -- the reason
that minimum wage won was that, for the very first time, you have -- you
have white older voters that can`t retire and are living on that minimum --

BARRO: Yes --

KUMAR: Wage. So I don`t --

BARRO: I don`t --

KUMAR: Think he is appealing --

BALL: But --

KUMAR: To that --

BALL: But let`s also --

KUMAR: Nobody has to --


BALL: But let`s also be real about the fact that things like upping the
minimum wage and not supporting trade deals are not very popular among
those people who might be financing his campaign.

Which was also a problem --

BARRO: It`s not just that. It`s that the minimum wage is popular with a
lot of people for whom it is not a deciding factor in candidate election.

Which is why you could see minimum wage questions winning in conservative
jurisdictions that vote for conservative officials.

You have a lot of people who make $20, $30 now or -- who say, yes, minimum
wage increase is a good idea.

Who don`t see it as a pocket book issue for themselves, and so when they go
out and vote and they`re hearing candidates talk about taxes and minimum
wage, they might say, I want lower taxes and higher minimum wage.

But facing the choice --

BALL: It`s a nice to have --


But not a must have --

KUMAR: But I think -- but I think it`s identifying again this new
generation of older Americans who have to start -- who have to continue
working longer and actually are not getting the $20 or $30 unfortunately.

BALL: Now what I think is --

BARRO: Oh, yes --

BALL: Is actually more powerful to your point is the social security
argument. Because whether you`re a left, right or center, unless you`re a
hard core activist people in this country do not want to see --

KUMAR: Nobody wants to touch that --

BALL: Security --


O`DONNELL: Yes, and a -- and a Republican --

KUMAR: Yes --

O`DONNELL: Congress had the chance to, "reform social security" under
George W. Bush who pushed it for about 30 days before he completely --

BALL: Right --

O`DONNELL: Surrendered --


BALL: Not working --

O`DONNELL: They didn`t -- they didn`t even have a hearing on it.


And quickly before we go, don`t all these single digit candidates in that
poll, the -- you know, down there in the Ben Carson territory and the
Huckabee territory, don`t they all help, in effect, Jeb Bush?

BALL: Yes --

O`DONNELL: Because the big -- the -- you know, the big tough thing going
on out there in Iowa tonight is, do I vote for Ted Cruz or Mike Huckabee or
you know, one of the --

BALL: Right --

O`DONNELL: These guys --


And the more they split, the more, you know, Jeb Bush can win with this
relatively low number --

BALL: It lowers the bar for Jeff Bush absolutely. And the way that things
are being structured, unless one of the other candidates who really
emerges, Marco Rubio really proves himself --


BALL: Scott Walker really -- unless it essentially comes down to this
person versus that person, it`s only --

KUMAR: Yes --

BALL: Good for Jeb Bush --

KUMAR: Well, and the thing is that the other ones basically spread across
extremism, he doesn`t have to go that way.

And this is basically -- he face off them, but I think Scott Walker is the
one that -- it`s actually the one to watch because he is the one that will
also be Joe the plumber and actually be able to demonstrate it.

He doesn`t need the unions --

O`DONNELL: And that`s the last word on it tonight, that`s all the time we
have for it. Maria Teresa Kumar, Krystal Ball and Josh Barro, thank you
all for joining --

BALL: Thanks Lawrence --

O`DONNELL: Me tonight --

BARRO: Thank you --

KUMAR: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the first big legal battle in the case against the
officers who arrested Freddie Gray is going to be about the knife, that
knife that they said they found on Freddie Gray.

And later in the rewrite, what we can only hope is the last word about


O`DONNELL: President Obama dropped by the Ed Sullivan Theater to say his
official farewell to David Letterman last night, and he added this serious


OBAMA: We had a situation in which too many communities don`t have a
relationship of trust with the police.

It creates an environment in the community where they feel as if rather
than being protected and served, they are the targets of arbitrary arrests
or stops.


O`DONNELL: Up next, it`s all about the knife in the case against the
officers who arrested Freddie Gray.


O`DONNELL: The Attorney General of the United States Loretta Lynch
traveled to Baltimore today to meet with city officials, law enforcement
officials and police officers.

The Attorney General also met with the family of Freddie Gray just as the
first big legal fight in the criminal case against the officers involved in
Freddie Gray`s death was developing in court.

The defense lawyer for officer Edward Nero has filed a motion demanding an
opportunity to inspect the knife the police say was found in Freddie Gray`s

The motion said, "a careful inspection of the knife recovered from Mr. Gray
will reveal specific characteristics of the knife which will reveal that
the knife was not lawful under Maryland law and as such, the defendant did
not illegally arrest Mr. Gray."

Joining us now, Andy Alperstein of Baltimore, defense attorney, a former
prosecutor and Andrew Levy, also a Baltimore lawyer and a professor at the
University of Maryland School of Law.

Andy Alperstein, the crucial factor about this knife is that, in Marilyn
Mosby`s presentation of the charges, she said that because the knife was
not a switch blade, because the knife is legal under Maryland law,
therefore the arrest and detention of Freddie Gray amounted to false

ANDREW ALPERSTEIN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: That`s what she told us. But I think
she overlooked that the officers that originally arrested Mr. Gray charged
him with a Baltimore City code violation which is different.

Because in her charging papers that she read of the officers, she talked
about that it wasn`t a violation of Maryland law.

We have a city code law that is more expansive and the motion that was
filed today by Marc Zayon, who is a very skilled lawyer here in Baltimore,
alleged that an inspection of the knife would show that his client did not
falsely arrest the person.

In other words, it was illegal for Gray to posses the knife and therefore
the arrest was lawful.

O`DONNELL: So, yes, to quote Marilyn Mosby exactly when she announced
these charges, she said, "the knife was not a switch blade and is lawful
under Maryland law."

Andrew Levy, so now we`re learning that there is a local Baltimore law that
might make this knife that they found illegal -- or might make it legal or

I don`t think we have Andrew Levy`s sound --

Yes, I`m here, I`m sorry, I`m here. Can you repeat your question --


LEVY: Please?

O`DONNELL: Well, Marilyn Mosby said in her announcement of the charges
that the knife is not a switch blade, and that means it is lawful under
Maryland law.

Andy Alperstein is now saying that yes, but under Baltimore, local
Baltimore law, there may be a provision that does make this particular
knife illegal, which then would justify the arrest.

LEVY: Well, look, Andy -- as Andy knows, this actually gets litigated a
lot. It`s not uncommon for people to be charged with a dangerous weapon

And the question of their guilt turns on often very technical inquiries
into the nature of the blade, the mechanism by which the blade comes out
and the like.

If the -- one of the many extraordinary things about this case and the
aggressiveness of these charges is, first of all, that these -- the
arresting officers were charged with crimes that police officers almost
never get charged with.

And their defenses are either that they had probable cause for the arrest
or that they had a good faith basis for believing that this knife was an
illegal knife.

And that`s -- that can be a very good defense in a situation like this,
because of how unclear it can be. Whether it`s a -- whether it`s a
dangerous weapon under the statute.

O`DONNELL: So three of the defendants are charged with false imprisonment
and that is on the basis of the knife they found not being a switch blade,
being as she put it, a legal knife under Maryland law.

But Andy Alperstein, let`s go to what Andrew Levy just raised, which is the
good faith defense. Let`s assume for the moment that the knife turns out
to be adjudged to have been a legal knife.

That it`s legal under Baltimore law, legal under Maryland law. This issue
of the good faith belief of the police officer, is -- would that then be
the linchpin where they could succeed and they`re pleading on this point?

ALPERSTEIN: Well, I think the good faith -- I agree with Andy Levy. The
good faith exception, I mean, these officers are acting in good faith and
they are arresting Mr. Gray and Mr. Gray -- and they`re mistaken and then
we`re going to just start charging police officers because they are making
a good faith error.

Then we`re going to wind up arresting a lot of police around here and I can
tell you, I`ve talked to police as recently as an hour ago in Baltimore who
don`t want to arrest anybody.

Because they`re worried they`re going to get arrested themselves if there
happens to be a bad stop or a bad seizure or a bad arrest which happens all
the time.

When you defend criminal cases, it`s part of the process. The normal
remedy is evidence is excluded and that`s the sanction against the police.

Not that the police get charged. And this really could set an incredibly
bad precedent what they`re doing here --

O`DONNELL: But Andrew Levy --

ALPERSTEIN: It`s very troubling --

O`DONNELL: But Andrew Levy, police can lie about their good faith. Police
-- that can be an after-the-fact lie about what actually happened.

And so where will the adjudication be made on this issue of good faith in
terms of the knife?

LEVY: Well, there are really two questions, what lawyers would call a
subjective test and an objective test.

First of all, they need to -- if their defense is -- you know, we believed
that this was an illegal knife even if we are mistaken.

And a genuinely assault, that is -- the jury has to believe that they
genuinely sought that. There also have to be an objectively reasonable
belief. It can`t be just a ridiculous idea.

But typically, a jury will reject it if it`s not what we would say, you
know, objectively reason --

O`DONNELL: That`s all the time we have for it tonight on this, Andy
Alperstein and Andrew Levy, thank you both for joining us.

ALPERSTEIN: Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Coming up next, breaking news from the "New York Times"
tonight, there are new details about the gunman involved in that Texas
shooting, and allegations that they are tied to the Islamic State.

And last week was thug week on cable news. In the rewrite tonight, I will
explain why there is absolutely no journalistic justification for the use
of the word `thug` in describing what happened in Baltimore last week.


O`DONNELL: For the first time, the Islamic State is claiming
responsibility for an attack in the United States.

In radio and internet messages, the Islamic State says that the two gunmen
from Phoenix who opened fire outside of a Muhammad drawing contest in
Garland, Texas, were "soldiers of the caliphate."

And now breaking news tonight reported by the "New York Times", according
to the "New York Times", one of the gunmen, Elton Simpson`s Twitter
contacts included a British fighter with the Islamic State in Syria and an
American now in Somalia who is -- regularly promotes the Islamic State.

Both men regularly called for violence and they suggested the Texas event
as a possible target. U.S. officials say Elton Simpson expressed his
support for the Islamic State on Twitter, Sunday, just before the attack,
tweeting "may Allah accept us as Mujahideen."

According to "Nbc`s" Pete Williams, investigators say Simpson`s social
media postings did attract attentions from the police and FBI last month,
but they say he was never explicit about any attack plans and was not under
constant surveillance.

(INAUDIBLE) said today that they noticed Nadir Soofi who was born in the
United States but spent time in Pakistan as a child became more isolated in
recent years in the United States.

Joining us now, Congressman Adam Smith of Washington State, a member of the
House Armed Services Committee, and Steve Clemons, Washington editor-at-
large for "The Atlantic" magazine and an Msnbc contributor.

Congressman, has the Islamic State finally reached in to the United States?

REP. ADAM SMITH (D), WASHINGTON: Well, it would certainly seem that way.
And that`s always been the great threat and a great fear.

I mean, back after 9/11, we identified al-Qaeda`s senior leadership. And
there was a relatively finite group of people who were plotting and
planning --


-- attacks against western interests. And we could identify that network
and go after it. What`s happened since then is the movement has

And it is much more the lone wolf attacks, individuals, and they`re just
following them on social media and then acting out. That is a much tougher
thing to contain.

That`s a larger group of people to keep your arms around. And I think --


-- it`s definitely a threat to the U.S.

O`DONNELL: Steve Clemons, a lot of debate today is the Islamic State
really claiming credit for this, do they really get credit for it.

If they`re encouraging people through Twitter or other means to do this,
even people who they don`t necessarily have, you know, specific contacts
with, it seems to me, they get the credit.

STEVE CLEMONS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Look, I agree with you. ISIS is in a
competitive global branding campaign with other terrorists groups in the
world, trying to get people to mimic what it does, to pay homage to what it
does, and to inspire people to take actions that it instructs them to do
from afar.

So, in that sense, they get credit. But it is not the same level as a
deployment of someone who was well-crafted and sculpted and trained by ISIS
on-site and then injected into American society to do terrific demand.

I agree with Adam that it is something we should worry about. It`s hard to
sort of spot these lone wolves, or even couple wolves attacks of this sort.

But, at the same time, it doesn`t have the sophistication and impact of
what, you know, al-Qaeda has been -- you know, their signature events.

So, to a certain degree, there are levels of concern here. But,
absolutely, ISIS gets credit for this because it`s in a global branding
campaign and it`s inspiring people to take these actions.

O`DONNELL: And on April 23rd, "The New York Times" is reporting -- this is
10 days before the Texas attack -- that one of the encouragers posted a
message saying, --

TEXT: "The brothers from the `Charlie Hebdo` attack did their part. It`s
time for brothers in the U.S. to do their part."

And Congressman Smith specifically referencing the contest there to draw
Muhammad in Texas.

SMITH: It speaks to the larger issue of the ideological struggle. And,
yes, this is not just a fight against ISIS or al-Qaeda or al-Nusra or Boko

I mean, this is something where we really need to build relationships in
the Muslims community and with moderate Muslim groups to stop this

Because it`s one thing to try to stop an organized group that`s, you know,
plotting a specific attack and then sending somebody over. It`s another
thing to try to spot, you know, just some, you know, lone person who is
suddenly going to go radical.

That ideology, I mean, it`s going to take a much more comprehensive
approach to defeat that ideology. And I think working with the Muslim
community is critical to that, both in the U.S. and throughout the world.

O`DONNELL: And Steve Clemons, good news, bad news of this Texas episode is
that the Muslim population around the area where this was taking place,
they were -- all knew about it, they were very well-informed about it.

And their leader said, you know, "Just take it easy," you know, "this has
nothing to do with us. Let`s just ignore it."

And they did. And they did. It took these guys, coming over from Arizona
-- that`s the bad news, is that the local population`s reaction to this is
now not all that important. And then, they can just come over from

CLEMONS: Absolutely. And hats off to that community and to the mayor of
that community who came out immediately and said, they don`t have a
majority ethnic group in that community, not white, not anything else.

They`ve got 114 languages. They basically said, "We`re a tolerant
community in Texas that embraces all these cultures."

They didn`t necessarily support what Pamela Geller`s group was doing but
they certainly didn`t support either the horrible actions taken by these
two men, or attempted actions by these two men.

And so, you`ve got an interesting episode where, out of this, if you look
at that community, there`s a resilience that`s extremely impressive, and a
mayor who stood up for the right things, in my view, which is to be
tolerant, understanding, to try to understand these things far beyond just
the Muslim community, but just the whole rainbow of different ethnic groups
in Garland.

O`DONNELL: Steve Clemons, thanks for joining us tonight. And Congressman
Smith, please stay with us. We`re going to talk about Benghazi, coming up.

But, up next, how the brilliant Amy Schumer --


-- can be a more effective politician than her big cousin, Chuck Schumer.



The senior senator from New York, Chuck Schumer, has, by this point in his
long career in Washington, said thousands and thousands and more thousands
of words about women`s right to make their own choices about all aspects of
reproductive health.

But none of those words have been as memorable as the one minute and 28
seconds his cousin, Amy Schumer, spent on the subject on her brilliant
Comedy Central show, "Inside Amy Schumer."


AMY SCHUMER, STAND-UP COMEDIAN AND ACTRESS (voice-over): You live a busy
life. The last thing you want to have to worry about is your birth control

That`s why we`re introducing OrthoEsterin, a new low-dose daily birth
control pill with little to no side effects. Ask your doctor if birth
control is right for you.

Then, ask your boss if birth control is right for you. Ask your boss to
ask his priest. Find a boy scout and see what he thinks.

Tap a mailman on the shoulder.

"Sorry, I didn`t mean to startle you."

Tell him you didn`t mean to startle him. Then ask him if birth control is
right for you.

Put it online and see how many likes you get. Ask an old black man and an
Asian boy playing chess in the park.

"I started using birth control."

Then ask them how they became friends because there has just got to be a
story behind there.

"I`m trying a birth control"

Ask someone who just got one of those cochlear implants and is hearing for
the very first time.


"Yes, but, see, can I get birth control."

Ask Jeeves.

"I`m supposed to ask you, too."

Ask your mom`s new boyfriend. Then, ask the Supreme Court. Finally, ask
yourself why you insist on having sex for fun.

"No refills? I have to go through all this again next month?"

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Yup. See you then.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Yup. Remember, that`s your right.


O`DONNELL: Up next, why it is a cultural embarrassment to me that the
great white fight for the right to use the word, "thug," is being led by
Irish-Americans at their cable news desks.


In the "Rewrite" tonight, what I hope is the last word about thugs.


Baltimore. And too many people have spent generations building up this
city, for it to be destroyed by thugs who, in a very senseless way, are
trying to tear down what so many have fought for.

handful of criminals and thugs who tore up the place.


O`DONNELL: When was the last time you used the word, "gay," to mean happy.
If you`re under 80 years old, you`ve probably never used it that way. But
we`ve all heard it used that way.


NATALIE WOOD, ACTRESS: I feel pretty, oh, so pretty. I feel pretty and
witty and gay.

MICHAEL BUBLE, SINGER: Have yourself a merry, little Christmas. Make the
yuletide gay.


O`DONNELL: "Gay" is one of countless English words whose meanings have
been changed over time by popular usage.

"Gay" transitions to mean homosexual or homosexualist, which had been the
kindest words used for gay people. The rest were slurs.

During the 20th Century, as the word, "gay," was transitioning, African-
Americans watched the slow extinction of racial slurs in public usage.

African-Americans comedians and rappers have taken ownership of the most
common racial slur and used it in their own ways. But white people never
use it now, not in any place where African-Americans can hear them use it.

The racial slur has disappeared but racism hasn`t. And so, some African-
Americans are understandably a bit suspicious about the former users of
racial slurs, that they found a new way to get away with it.


calling somebody the "n" word nowadays. You know, it`s like everybody else
says the "n" word, and then I say, "thug."


O`DONNELL: I grew up in a White-Irish neighborhood in Boston, where every
little boy in my elementary school would have welcomed the label, "thug."
We prized nothing more than toughness.

All the thugs I knew or heard about were white, including one whose
nickname was "Whitey."


So, when I hear the word, "thug," I still think Whitey Bulger. But, last
week, --


-- African-Americans` suspicion about what white people mean when they use
the word, "thug," hit its peak.


ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Isn`t it the right word.

CARL STOKES, COUNCILMAN, BALTIMORE CITY: No, of course that`s not the
right word to call our children, "thugs." These are children who have been
set aside, marginalized, who have not been engaged by us all.

We don`t have to call them "thugs."

BURNETT: But how does that justify what they did.

STOKES: I think that --

BURNETT: I mean, that`s a sense of right and wrong.

STOKES: That doesn`t justify what they did.

BURNETT: They know it`s wrong to steal and burn down a CVS and that old
person`s home. I mean, come on.

STOKES: Come on? So, calling them "thugs." Just call them (bleep). Just
call them (bleep). No.


O`DONNELL: Now, I understand what African-American politicians like
President Obama and the mayor of Baltimore were trying to convey when they
used the word, "thug."

In that moment, they were trying to communicate with white Americans,
including white Baltimoreans who don`t trust them, don`t trust them to do
everything they possibly can to stop rioting, to stop looting, and restore

The mayor now says she was speaking out of anger and frustration, and she
regrets using that word.


RAWLINGS-BLAKE: I should not have characterized people`s kids as "thugs."
I`m sure you understand how intense and what a pressure cooker this week
has been. And, you know, like I said, I certainly regret saying it.


O`DONNELL: People complained about the mayor using that word. And so, she
decided to stop using it. Imagine Bill O`Reilly doing that.

Well, he did. He just didn`t do it on TV. When Bill O`Reilly was a kid
growing up on Long Island, the polite word for African-American was "negro"
or "colored."

By the time he got to college, those words were being overtaken in popular
usage by "black" and then "African-American." And it wasn`t Bill
O`Reilly`s idea to stop using the word, "negro" or "colored."

But he did. He stopped using those words because African-Americans didn`t
want to hear those words anymore. The transition took a while.

There were many people, white and black, who had grown attached to the old
words and didn`t see any reason to change them. But, eventually, the
words, "negro" and "colored" disappeared.

So, the question now facing Bill O`Reilly is how many African-Americans
have to complain before he stops using the word, "thug."


BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: These idiotic thugs, rioting and looting --


O`DONNELL: It`s a point of cultural embarrassment for me to watch the
great white fight for the right to use the word, "thug," being led by
Irish-Americans at their cable news desks -- Erin Burnett, Bill O`Reilly,
Megyn Kelly.


MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I`m thinking "thugs" is not far off the


O`DONNELL: Who appointed the Irish the judges of which words are racists.
How did that happen.

To my colleagues in the television news business, I beg you, beg you, when
you`re getting ready to use the word, "thug," on national television, ask
yourself what the word, "thug," adds to the discussion.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER 1: While thugs burned, pillaged and plundered.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER 2: Rioters, looters, thugs --

HOWIE KURTZ, FOX NEWS HOST: The rioters and the thugs --


O`DONNELL: Howie, you could have just said, "rioters." Now, I know Howie
Kurtz. I know he didn`t mean anything racial by the use of the word,

But millions of African-Americans don`t know him. And many of them might
suspect that he just might mean something racist.

So, again, to my colleagues in television news, please, please, just stop
and think about this for just a minute. I ask a minute of your thought

Please ask yourself what word would a white racist use today on television,
on your show, to describe those people we saw throwing stones at police
last week and looting a CVS.

What would be the first word of choice for a virulent racist to use on your
show about those people, and know for certain that he or she could get away
with using that word.

It would be "thug." You know it would be "thug." And African-Americans
know it would be "thug."

So, now, you have to ask yourself before you make your comments on national
television, how many millions of African-Americans, how many millions of
African-American kids are you willing to allow to suspect that you might be

How many. And here`s what`s so very nutty about this whole thing -- you
don`t need to use that word that creates that suspicion, the word that so
many people on television seem so eager to use.

We don`t need that word. We don`t need it. There is absolutely nothing
that needs to be said about what has happened in Baltimore that demands the
use of the word, "thug." Nothing.

So, the good news is, we can just drop it, just like that. That`s how easy
it is to fix this problem of possible misunderstanding.

We can just drop the word, "thug." We know how to do that. It`s not hard.
We know how to stop using words in certain ways or stop using them
completely. Forever.

That`s why no one is calling anyone who broke the law in Baltimore a
"negro" or a "ruffian."

If you continue to fight for the right to use the word, "thug," television,
the one thing we can be sure of is it`s not because you`re trying to add to
our understanding of the story.


JetBlue is now planning regularly scheduled flights from New York`s JFK
Airport to Cuba beginning possibly in July. And the U.S. government and a
Florida ferry company announced today preliminary approval for that company
to run ferry service from Florida to Cuba.

The company still has to get approval from the Cuban government and
estimates that the service could begin as soon as this fall.

Coming up next, the report that Republicans twisted intelligence from the
CIA in their hearings on Benghazi.


The former deputy director of the CIA says that some Republicans distorted
intelligence regarding the 2012 attack in Benghazi that killed United
States Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens.


"The New York Times" reports that Michael Morell, in his new book,
dismisses the allegation that the United States Military and CIA officers,
quote, "were ordered to stand down and not come to the rescue of their

But Mr. Morell also says that the White House itself embellished some of
the talking points provided by the Central Intelligence Agency and blocked
him from sending an internal study of the agency conclusions to Congress.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has agreed to testify to the
House Select Committee on Benghazi.

Back with us is Democratic Adam Smith, who`s a member of the House Armed
Services Committee. He is also a member of the House Select Committee on

Congressman Smith, how does Deputy Director Morell`s new revelations in his
book affect the current state of knowledge of what`s going on here.

SMITH: It doesn`t change it at all. I mean, we`ve had this investigated,
I think it`s nine times, with the Intelligence Committee in the House being
the most recent.

And, you know, the talking points, --


-- CIA`s involvement in it, who spun it this way, who spun it that way. I
mean, that`s been talked about for a very long time and reported on in,
like I said, a number of official reports.

And I mean, the real issue here is we`ve learned -- is this new Benghazi
Committee is all about partisanship and politics. It is all about the 2016
Presidential Election, and not about trying to figure anything new out
about Benghazi.

I think that`s unfortunate but that`s the way the committee said it. So, I
don`t think it changes the equation.


I think all we need to know about the Benghazi Committee is they`ve spent
$3 million thus far and had three hearings, well, for one other thing out

And they seem to want to push this as close to the November election as
possible. And this is something that could have been wrapped up months

That wasn`t necessary in the first place but it certainly could have been
wrapped up months ago if, indeed, they were trying to figure out something
of a substantive policy nature.

O`DONNELL: And Congressman Smith, the totally legitimate grounds for
Congressional hearings after Benghazi is what about the security issues,
what about State Department --

SMITH: Right.

O`DONNELL: -- security, embassy security, what happened, was there a
failure, what else do we need to do, what other resources might we need.

On that, apparently, Mr. Morell`s book, which no one has yet -- "The New
York Times" got a copy -- according to "Times," they say, in his book,
"Morell is critical of the State Department for not beefing up security in
Libya for its diplomats as, he said, had done for their employees."

SMITH: Look, it is not that what happened in Benghazi shouldn`t have been
investigated. It absolutely should have been investigated.

Four Americans died and they shouldn`t have. What went wrong. What can we
do better in the future.

Those were questions that demanded answers. And we did that. We had an
independent panel, like I said, we had several committees that looked into

That has been investigated. What the Republicans want to do is they want
to drag this out as far as possible because, look, I`m a Democrat.

You`ve got to be honest about it. This was a bad moment for the Obama

Now, every administration that I`m familiar with has had these, these bad
moments. It`s a big nasty world.

Ronald Reagan, of course, had Beirut. Bill Clinton had Somalia. George W.
Bush had 9/11. I mean, these bad moments are going to happen in a

And they deserve to be investigated. But what the Republicans are doing
now is they`re trying to drag that out to focus as much attention as
possible on it.

And, you know, I think that`s -- that`s -- that`s partisan, political, and
not the way Congress should be conducting itself.

O`DONNELL: Congressman Adam Smith, that`s our last word tonight. Thanks
for joining us.

Chris Hayes is up next.


<Copy: Content and programming copyright 2015 MSNBC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
Copyright 2015 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