THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
July 15, 2013
Guest: Michael Grunwald
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Tonight, we now know that the initial vote among
the jurors in the George Zimmerman trial according to juror B-37 was three
not guilty votes, two votes for manslaughter, and one vote for second
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A verdict has been reached in the murder trial of
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We, the jury, find George Zimmerman not guilty.
PROTESTERS: Justice for Trayvon! Not one more!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are going to be 100 demonstrations --
TAMRON HALL, MSNBC ANCHOR: Demonstrations are planned in more than 100
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Zimmerman was found not guilty beyond a
reasonable doubt. He was not found innocent.
ALEX WAGNER, MSNBC ANCHOR: The verdict is not guilty.
DON WEST, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: We proved George Zimmerman was not guilty.
MARK O`MARA, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: George Zimmerman was never guilty of
WAGNER: But that doesn`t necessarily mean innocent.
O`MARA: It was a self-defense case.
BERNIE DE LA RIONDA, PROSECUTOR: You`ve got a 17-year-old kid who is
minding his own business.
AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Trayvon Martin did nothing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There was a young man walking in his neighborhood
ANGELA COREY, FLORIDA STATE ATTORNEY: Trayvon Martin was profiled.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Someone decided that he looked suspicious.
COREY: There is no doubt that he was profiled to be a criminal.
LISA BLOOM, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: The defense`s narrative was essentially
racial profiling is OK.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just his existence was almost illegal.
O`MARA: Trayvon Martin did in fact cause his own death.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trayvon Martin is dead.
O`MARA: Trayvon Martin did in fact cause his own death.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What I could see of the trial, they put him on trial.
JOHN GUY, PROSECUTOR: This case is not about race.
O`MARA: It has nothing to do with civil rights.
MELISSA HARRIS-PERRY, MSNBC HOST: Part of how we know that this is about
race is by the differential racial experiences that people are having.
ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: We have opened an investigation into this
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The important thing is that they do the
HOLDER: You must not forgo this opportunity to make better this nation
that we cherish.
O`DONNELL: Two days after George Zimmerman was found not guilty of the
second-degree murder or manslaughter of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, U.S.
Attorney General Eric Holder said today that the Justice Department is
still investigating whether it should file federal criminal charges against
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HOLDER: We are also mindful of the pain felt by our nation surrounding the
tragic, unnecessary shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida,
The Justice Department shares your concern. I share your concern.
Moreover, I want to assure you that the department will continue to act in
a manner that is consistent with the facts and the law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Tonight, the jurors who reached the verdict in the George
Zimmerman case remain anonymous, but one who is looking for a book deal,
juror B-37, along with her attorney husband, has signed with the Martin
Literary Management in hopes of writing a book to explain why she believes,
quote, "The jurors had no option but to find Zimmerman n guilty due to the
manner in which he was charged and the content of the jury instructions."
Former Florida State Senator Dan Gelber argues that the "Stand Your Ground"
law made it harder for the jury to convict George Zimmerman. Gelber
writes, "When the legislature passed the stand your ground law, it changed
the rules of engagement. It eliminated the duty to avoid the danger, and
it eliminated any duty to retreat."
Here is the actual jury instruction read to Florida juries prior to the
legislature`s enactment of stand your ground:
The defendant cannot justify the use of force likely to cause death or
great bodily harm unless he used every reasonable means within his power
and consistent with his own safety to avoid the danger before resorting to
that force. The fact that the defendant was wrongfully attacked cannot
justify his use of force, likely to cause death or great bodily harm if by
retreating he could have avoided the need to use that force. And here are
the instructions the George Zimmerman jury received.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE DEBRA NELSON, SEMINOLE COUNTY, FL: If George Zimmerman was not
engaged in an unlawful activity and was attacked in any place where he had
a right to be, he had no duty to retreat and had the right to stand his
ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he reasonably
believed that it was necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily
harm to himself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now, MSNBC contributor Joy Reid and MSNBC legal
analyst Zachary Carter.
Joy Reid, there you have it. We have one of the -- the juror who is
speaking tonight saying that the jury instructions in her view pretty much
locked them in to a not guilty verdict. And when you read the difference
in the charges to the jury, the instructions to the jury, before stand your
ground and after stand your ground, it does seem as though we have changed
the dynamics of every self-defense case in Florida with the stand your
JOY REID, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, absolutely. And I spoke with Dan Gelber
today, Lawrence, and he was talking about the fact that first of all it
passed the state Senate unanimously at the time, he was in the House. And
he argued at the time the problem with changing those instructions is that
essentially you encourage somebody who`s inclined to be uncivil or do
something overly aggressive or something stupid not to have that sense of
restraint because what you`ve now said is, you don`t even have to avoid
getting into a situation that could result in you using deadly force.
Meaning that for George Zimmerman, had the old instructions been in place,
just following Trayvon Martin and not fleeing from the situation, if he
realized wait a minute, Trayvon Martin`s not going to just let me talk to
him, that would have been a completely different instruction. It would
have opened the door to a manslaughter conviction.
But what they -- what`s happening in Florida is that you`ve had ALEC and
the NRA pushing and pushing and pushing the boundaries to indemnify gun
owners by saying you can carry your gun in more places and you can use it,
you can discharge your firearm and be indemnified from criminal or civil
prosecution because of it.
O`DONNELL: Zachary Carter, you`re a former federal prosecutor. What is
your sense of what`s possible? We heard what Eric Holder said today about
the Justice Department looking at this. What do you think is possible?
ZACHARY CARTER, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Well, what`s possible is a
prosecution under federal civil rights laws for a homicide committed
because of the race of the victim. Now, that`s always a challenge because
it is difficult and always has been difficult in this country to persuade
jurors that an act has occurred because of racial animus.
It was a civil rights leader from the `60s who was fond of saying that
America, when it comes to issues of race, lives in the 51st state, the
state of denial. And that`s something that prosecutors confront when they
have cases where race is a core -- an important issue, as it was in the
O`DONNELL: And, Joy Reid, the stand your ground law is also being cited by
some today as a reason why there may not be a civil lawsuit brought in
Florida because the stand your ground law has an impact on the thresholds
that you have to meet in a civil case like this.
REID: Yes, it does change the threshold. It isn`t correct there couldn`t
be a civil case because had George Zimmerman actually called for a stand
your ground prehearing before the actual trial in chief had begun and had
won that hearing, he would have not only been excused from prosecution, it
would have actually prevented the Martin family from filing a civil suit.
But that is not prevented. It`s just that the barrier that you have to
meet is very high, but still lower than it is in the criminal case.
Regardless of that statute, the burden that has to be met in that civil
trial is still lower than the prosecution`s burden in this case.
O`DONNELL: And, Zachary Carter, going to what we`ve learned tonight from
the juror who is speaking, she basically recited the defense`s case almost
word for word, almost element for element, including she said she has
absolutely no doubt that that was George Zimmerman`s voice screaming on the
911 tape that we all heard.
And I`m not sure how that jury could have reached that conclusion with
absolutely no doubt on who was screaming on that.
CARTER: Well, the explanation she gives according to the transcript of her
statement is kind of a bootstrapping argument. She believed it was George
Zimmerman`s voice because of George Zimmerman`s injuries. And for that
reason alone she tends to believe it must have been him screaming because
he was injured.
And it obviously is not necessarily the case. It could have been the case
that when confronted with a loaded firearm or at any point during the
struggle that Trayvon Martin could have been screaming because he was in
fear for his life, and that`s a lot more consistent with the ultimate
O`DONNELL: And, Joy, we are learning from that one juror. We may hear
from others. But so far it`s just one. That she was in favor of not
guilty right from the start but that there was real movement in the jury.
There were two votes in the first round for manslaughter and even one vote
for second-degree murder.
REID: Yes. And there is a lot of theory that goes on about groupthink,
and it`s one of the reasons that a lot of people are critical of Florida`s
wont of having six people on a jury instead of 12. It`s very difficult to
withstand the pressure of a majority if you are two or one that are saying
you want a guilty verdict and you have a majority of people who are saying
they want not guilty. And especially since you`re sequestered, there`s a
lot of time pressure.
Look how late they went into the night. You`ve got to imagine that some of
the jurors who wanted a guilty verdict were being really pressured to get
out of there, to finish it.
And, by the way, I think it is relevant to point out that one of the
failures of the prosecution was to keep this juror off the panel. This
juror, B-37, is the one who in her voir dire said that she felt that the
mass protests calling for the arrest of George Zimmerman were riots. And
she still got on this jury.
So I can`t imagine that she came into it without at least some
predisposition toward the defense.
O`DONNELL: And jurors like that used to be actually thrown off by the
judge. You wouldn`t even have to use up one of your challenges on that.
But, Zachary Carter, as we`ve moved more and more throughout the country
toward having everyone serve, we have kind of broadened the definition of
what we think is a neutral juror.
CARTER: Well, there appears to have been a gross insensitivity to the
realities of race in American society and its role in this case. And it`s
insensitivity on the part of the prosecution in avoiding any mention of
race like the plague, an insensitivity of race on the part of the judge,
who actually prohibited the use of the term "race", even though in some
schizophrenic way admitted the use of the term "profiling."
I mean, profiling without race in this case is like coffee without
caffeine. What`s the point?
O`DONNELL: Yes. And, Joy, we heard from the juror that she said she did
not believe that Trayvon Martin was profiled because of race. She said
that at one moment. And then at another moment she says, well, you know,
the previous crime in the neighborhood was committed by black suspects.
So, the following made sense to her.
REID: Yes. She profiled him in her interview with CNN. She`s saying,
well, you know, he was cutting through the back. And anybody who`s seeing
somebody walking around like that in the dark -- I mean, who wouldn`t think
they were suspicious?
I mean, it`s extraordinary to me that you could have such blatant sort of
cultural misunderstanding, blatant profiling after the fact by this juror,
but saying you know, we didn`t think it was racial. He just happened to be
one of those suspicious black teens.
CARTER: It also appeared that the prosecutors missed an opportunity
through facts readily available to them to demonstrate two parallel
scenarios in this case, one that demonstrates how Trayvon Martin should
have been treated and the other that demonstrates tragically how he was
treated by George Zimmerman.
There was a store surveillance tape that showed Trayvon Martin entering a
convenience store to buy the infamous Skittles and iced tea. He w dressed
the same way he was when he was confronted by George Zimmerman.
And yet that occurrence was uneventful. The store clerk wasn`t alarmed by
the presence of Trayvon Martin in his hoodie. The store clerk when Trayvon
Martin presented the Skittles and the iced tea and placed them on the
counter didn`t back up in alarm when Trayvon Martin reached into his pocket
to take out the money to pay for them.
I mean, you can only wonder what would have occurred if George Zimmerman
had been the store clerk. I mean, that`s the kind of information, the kind
of evidence that`s irrefutable, that you can use as a vehicle to tell a
story of contrast between how Trayvon Martin was viewed by this store clerk
not as a potential criminal, not as a thug, but as a customer and how he
was treated by George Zimmerman.
O`DONNELL: Former U.S. Attorney Zachary Carter, thank you very much for
joining us tonight. Joy Reid, I`m going to need you to hang around for the
Coming up -- more on what this verdict says to America about America.
And, Nate Silver`s new prediction on the future of the United States Senate
and therefore, the future of the Democratic Party.
And the latest maneuvering on Washington`s favorite form of socialism,
including Republicans` favorite form of socialism.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PROTESTERS: Not one more! Justice for Trayvon! Not one more! Justice
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Thousands have spontaneously taken to the streets across the
country to protest the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial. Coming up,
the Reverend Al Sharpton and Joy Reid will join me.
O`DONNELL: At 9:59 p.m. on Saturday night, the clerk in Judge Debra
Nelson`s courtroom read the verdict that this country was very anxiously
Forty-four minutes later, Cord Jefferson posted an 1,100-word piece
entitled "The Zimmerman jury told young black men what we already knew. If
you`re a black man and you don`t remain vigilant of and obsequious to white
people`s panic in your presence, if you, say, punch a man who is following
you without cause in the dark with a handgun at his side, then you must be
prepared to be arrested, be beaten, be shot through the heart and lung, and
die on the way home to watch a basketball game with your family.
And after you are dead, other blacks should be prepared for people to say
you are a vicious thug who deserved it, you smoked weed, for instance, and
got in some fights at school like I did. Obviously, you had it coming.
You were a ticking time bomb and sooner or later someone was going to have
to put you down."
Joining me now, Reverend Al Sharpton and Joy Reid.
Al, those words I think were not, what I just read, from that posting about
how it felt to Cord Jefferson. Those words were not shocking to an
African-American audience to read.
REV. AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: No, they are not shocking, unfortunately.
And I think that what comes out of this trial and the verdict is
frightening to African-Americans and others because really what we`re
saying is that a civilian can now pursue a minor and use deadly force and
really use self-defense according to Florida law, the "Stand Your Ground"
law, which has implications even though it wasn`t used at trial, it
certainly has implications in terms of how the defense statutes are, and it
had implications on why Zimmerman was not arrested that night.
So I think that the big picture here is that we`ve got to deal with these
state laws and the Justice Department must look into that. And we must
look into the actual incident that happened.
Another thing, Lawrence, that I think you were very correct in bringing up
in the first block is this whole question of what we`re now hearing from
the juror, where the juror is saying all of this two days after the
verdict. Well, she has a book deal when did the book company approach her
when no one was supposed to have known who the jurors were? How was she
contacted? How do you cut a deal when we just went to business on Monday
morning and no one was even supposed to know the jurors?
Then you get down to the vote of the jurors. You get down to her husband
being a lawyer in a very small community. Did her husband know Mark
O`Mara? How did she get on the jury? And as Joy Reid pointed out, with
her biases why wasn`t she struck from the jury?
So there`s a lot here that needs to be looked into and possibly
investigated, even on the conduct of how the jurors were selected and who
O`DONNELL: Joy Reid, I`m thinking about all the tears that we saw at
Barack Obama`s first inauguration in Washington. Indeed the tears we saw
at his first national exposure in the convention in 2004 in Boston. And
those -- some of those tears were about thinking how far we`d come, how
remarkable this is that we are inaugurating our first black president, and
now this weekend, we have painful tears, angry tears.
And I`m wondering how much did people think that we had left this kind of
thing behind and how much did that inauguration in 2008 and other big signs
of progress that we`ve had, how much did that allow people to feel we had
left this kind of possibility behind, that a black kid could get shot on
his way home from just a trip to the 7-Eleven for no good reason?
REID: Yes, I mean, obviously, I think Barack Obama`s election gave people
a false sense of security about race. Barack Obama`s election didn`t
signal that racism was over. It just was an opportunity to open the door
and let it come out. We saw a lot of things come out in this country that
people weren`t prepared to view and the ugliness of them. We saw a lot of
it in the Tea Party, the president being called a liar in the well of the
House of Representatives.
And look, Lawrence, the truth is in the ugly history of this country it
used to be that any civilian, any white civilian could police the presence
of any black person out on the street, young, old, child, old man. They
could ask him what are you doing here, make you cross the street, find out
what you`re doing? In the case of Emmett Till, drag you off and lynch you
just for looking at a white person wrong. Black people have been policed
by civilian whites for a very long time. We thought that was behind us.
And the primary concern that Reverend Sharpton and others have been looking
at has been police profiling and saying, well, now police can look at you
as suspect and can even in some cases shoot you because oh, it looked like
he went for his wallet, it looked like he was going for his waistband, I
thought maybe he had a gun.
So we sort of trained ourselves to think that the current problem is
profiling by police. Well, now we`ve gone all the way back to people
policing you when they are not an authority, that a civilian can actually
pursue you, question you. I`ve seen so many comments online about, well,
why didn`t Trayvon Martin just tell him who he was? Well, because this
wasn`t a cop and he didn`t have any authority to ask him where he was.
Neighborhood watch people are not police officers. They don`t have any
authority over any teenager.
So the idea that people are saying, well, Trayvon was acting suspicious,
George was just doing his job to find out where he was going, this is
setting us back in a way that is so ugly and so comfortable. And I`m glad
that the country`s being forced to look at it.
SHARPTON: Well, I think also I might add that the question should be asked
why didn`t Mr. Zimmerman tell Trayvon who he was? According to Zimmerman`s
statement, he never identified himself to Trayvon Martin as a member of the
watchman`s group or the captain of the watchman`s patrol in that area. So,
a more pressing question is not why would Trayvon not say something to him
about who he was or where he was going.
Why if you were doing what you considered a citizen duty as a volunteer
watchman, why wouldn`t you say I`m a watchman, I`m trying to look out for
safety in the neighborhood? Why according to George Zimmerman`s own taped
statement he said, no, I never told him who I was. Well, why wouldn`t you?
And then why if you didn`t wouldn`t the young man feel you were acting in a
suspicious way since he had every right to be there? He was not
trespassing. He was going to his father`s home where he was staying. And
he was not committing a crime.
O`DONNELL: Joy, quickly before we go, I need to talk to you as a mother.
I want you o talk about the conversation that black parents are having with
their kids about this.
I spoke to a friend of mine who has a nephew who is just a Trayvon Martin
look-alike, same age just about, in high school. And she said she didn`t
want to talk to him about it now, she wants to wait for a while until this
cools down because she doesn`t want to make him more anxious right now.
REID: Yes. I mean, I have three kids. Two of them are boys. I have a 16
and a 13-year-old boy. And I didn`t want to talk to them about it either.
But they talked to me about it and to their dad about it. They were up
when I got home about 2:00 in the morning on Saturday night watching it
with their dad, and their dad had warned them that I was going to be extra
All I wanted to do was go home and hug them and kiss them because you know,
my kids who are so precious and to me are so small to me and are children
to me, the idea that someone would think my little beanpole 16-year-old was
a threatening man was Mr. Reid instead of the little boy that I know him to
be and would judge anything he`d ever tweeted or text to say a-ha, there he
is, he is a thug, he deserved to die. You know, I`ve had the experience of
making sure I knew what my kids are wearing every morning before they go to
school because God forbid anything happened to them I want to know exactly
what they had on because I need to be able to identify them.
And I used to worry about police profiling my kids. For God`s sakes, I
don`t even know that to tell my kids about how to fear every civilian
because so many of them are carrying a gun and so many of them think that
they`re suspicious and assume them to be a criminal when they`re just
walking down the street.
So, we`re still working at my house on what to tell my kids.
O`DONNELL: Reverend Al Sharpton, thank you very much for joining me on
this important night of this discussion.
And, Joy Reid, a very special thanks to you. I know your very first
appearance on this program was to discuss what was going on in Florida on
the killing of Trayvon Martin where no charges had yet been brought. You
were crucial in helping me understand the case and helping this network
understand it. So, Joy, a special thanks tonight.
REID: Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: In the "Rewrite" tonight, you will get my final thoughts about
the -- final thoughts for this evening anyway on this verdict.
But first, the filibuster face-off here in Washington. Senator Mitch
McConnell versus Harry Reid. It`s coming down to the wire on whether
they`re going to use the nuclear option. Ezra Klein and Karen Finney will
join me on that.
O`DONNELL: In the spotlight tonight, the war for the United States Senate.
Now, if you aren`t worried about the future of the United States Senate,
you might want to consider Nate Silver`s latest prediction.
A race by race analysis of the Senate suggests that Republicans might now
be close to even money to win control of the chamber after next year`s
elections. Our best guess after assigning probabilities of the likelihood
of a GOP pickup in each state is that Republicans will end up with
somewhere between 50 and 51 Senate seats after 2014, putting them right on
the threshold of a majority.
Democrats suffered a setback this weekend when popular democratic governor
Brian Schweitzer of Montana announced he would not run for the seat Max
Baucus has held for 36 years. This comes as Harry Reid is threatening to
invoke the nuclear option, a change to Senate rules to limit filibusters on
executive branch nominations and leave confirmations possible by a simple
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NY), MAJORITY LEADER: The changes we`re making are
very, very minimal. What we`re doing is saying look, American people,
shouldn`t President Obama have somebody working for him that he wants? The
Constitution`s pretty specific. If you want a supermajority vote, look at
what a veto is or a treaty. But if you want to look at nomination, you
know what the founding fathers said? Simple majority.
This is not judges. This is not legislation. This is allowing the people
of America to have a president who could have his team, to have his team in
place. This is nothing like went on before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Tonight, all 100 senators were invited to a rare close closed-
door meeting in the old Senate chamber where there are no c-span cameras to
see if an agreement could possibly be reached on seven executive
nominations that will be voted on tomorrow or at least brought up tomorrow
including President Obama`s nominees to lead the EPA, the labor department,
and the consumer financial protection bureau.
Harry Reid has said that he will stand down on that rule change if
Republicans will allow up or down votes tomorrow. Here is what Harry Reid
said about negotiations with Republicans just a short time ago tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REID: We have had a very good conversation. The conversation`s going to
continue tonight. The votes are scheduled at 10:00 in the morning.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Karen Finney, they had a very good conversation.
So, I mean, Ezra Klein, a good conversation. That would do it. So here`s
EZRA KLEIN, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes.
O`DONNELL: With the Nate Silver polling saying the Republicans may just
win the Senate, do the Democrats really want to change a rule that they
will then hate if they`re in the minority in a short time?
KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC HOST, DISRUPT: They need to -- yes, of course.
Because you can`t not do what you`re supposed to do just because you might
also have to be accountable to those same rules. I mean, that`s the
argument that we have heard for a very long time from both sides, frankly.
And I think they could all learn a little something from Wendy Davis about
what it means to filibuster because remember, now we are in a situation
where they don`t even have to filibuster. They have to threaten to
filibuster and set off the same kind of chain reaction.
O`DONNELL: Ezra, I love the statistician coming out. It`s between 50 and
KLEIN: They are going to get a third of the Senate.
O`DONNELL: Yes, that`s right. That`s right. But it has to -- that poll,
surely some of the Democrats in their private conversations were talking
about what Nate Silver said today when they were talking about whether or
not they should change this.
KLEIN: And they were talking about this a couple months ago. I mean,
remember, the beginning of this session of Congress there was a serious
effort to do what Karen is talking about, which is to move to a talking
filibuster. And I interviewed majority leader Reid at that point and he
said look, I`m not for a 60 vote Senate which that wouldn`t have done but
they were pretty clear. They don`t think this is a good idea. They don`t
want to allow Republicans to have the power. And all of the sudden it
And so the question that I think has been very hard to answer is what
changed in Reid`s mind such that n when we`re further along in the session,
when nothing is really going on and when there`s a very serious chance of a
Republican takeover in 2014, why go for this massive rules blowup now?
There are a couple answers but the main one I`ve heard is they have simply
come to the conclusion. They can`t get anything done. They can`t get any
of the legislative agenda done. And so, if President Obama is going to
have an even semi-successful second term he`s going to need to be able to
staff the regulatory and other executive branch agencies with his people in
order to use a regulatory state to do things like regulating carbon,
effectively implementing the affordable care act, working on the national
labor relations, the suite of issues it deals with. So, that`s been the
play here. They might lose it. But at least before they lose that power
they will be able to staff up Obama`s executive branch.
O`DONNELL: And is there a senator -- I`m sure there is. There`s a
Democratic senator in the group somewhere who is saying, look, if we lose
the Senate, the Republicans are going to make this change themselves.
FINNEY: Of course.
O`DONNELL: So then we would be doubly humiliated.
FINNEY: Of course.
O`DONNELL: We have lost the Senate and we weren`t smart enough to change
this rule on our own behalf when we had the majority.
FINNEY: Of course. Now, the conversation that Democratic senators should
be having, those who are up for election, is how do we turn out the Obama
electorate? That`s the conversation they should be having that they`re not
having. If you -- I looked at some of the states that Nate analyzed, and
there`s two things that the numbers and obviously, I`m the communications
strategist. So, I look at it differently.
The numbers don`t tell you if you can have a wave elections. The numbers
don`t tell you could there be enough of a backlash and anger about what`s
happening with the voting rights act that you would see the same Obama
electorate come out in the midterm election, which you don`t usually,
African-American, Latino, young voters, and women. Women in Texas are
angry. Women in North Carolina are angry. If you can turn out those
voters, I actually think that Nate -- I shudder to say it. I think Nate
could be very wrong. But I think that traditionally those are groups that
don`t turn out. And if Democrats were smart they would be figuring out how
to turn them out.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen -- the White House weighed in on this today,
especially the Republican threat that if you change this rule things will
get even worse. Let`s listen to what Jay Carney said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Is the president concerned that the Senate
could actually become even more dysfunctional?
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, it boggles the mind how
they would achieve that. But the fact is the Senate needs to confirm this
president`s nominees in a timely and efficient manner, to consider and
confirm. And that is true and will be true for the next president and the
next president after that. This has become ridiculous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Ezra, I think my translation of the White House answer is it
can`t get worse.
KLEIN: This is something they are saying a bunch. It`s kind of glib.
Reid is saying does the Senate house of the two chambers recently. Nobody
is second in their head in the Senate to me. I really dislike this place
but nevertheless. It`s been working much better now. They actually got
the immigration bill. The thing that is key here is the house can`t get
more dysfunctional. So they can`t get any legislation through. That`s why
the regulatory agencies matter.
Yes, the Senate can get a lot worse than it is. The fact of the matter
right now, and one reason this is a bit of a low-cost play is that the
Senate working doesn`t matter at all. The Senate can be bad, it can be
good, if the house isn`t going to work with the Obama administration, no
laws are going to get passed.
O`DONNELL: Ezra Klein and Karen Finney, thank you both for joining me
KLEIN: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Coming up, Republicans` favorite form of socialism.
And in the "rewrite" a very moving reaction to the Zimmerman verdict. A
photograph you have to see. And a mother`s words you have to hear.
O`DONNELL: Reports indicate Nelson Mandela may be discharged from the
hospital soon to recuperate at home. More than five weeks after being
admitted to the hospital with a recurring lung infection. If doctors send
him home, it could be in time for the Nobel Laureate to celebrate his 95th
birthday with family this Thursday.
Talking about his condition, Mandela`s wife said quote "he continues to
respond positively to treatment. I would say that today I am less anxious
than I was a week ago."
Up next in "the rewrite," a mother`s reaction to the verdict that shook
O`DONNELL: Most defendants in America are guilty, or at least are found
guilty in court. Most of them actually plead guilty. Eighty-nine percent
of Florida defendants plead guilty or are found guilty by jurors. Only 1.8
percent of Florida criminal cases actually have jury trials. Seventy-one
percent of those trials end in guilty verdicts.
So, with numbers like that criminal defense lawyers expect their clients to
be guilty. Criminal lawyers never pretend their clients are innocent when
they`re talking to their lawyer pals in the courthouse about what they`re
working on. And no lawyer would ever be so amateur as to ask another if
his or her client is guilty or innocent.
When a lawyer wants to know how tough your case is, they always ask the
same question. Can you put your guy on the stand? And everyone
understands what no means. No means your guy is guilty, very guilty, and
putting him on the stand will prove that guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Saying you can put your guy on the stand doesn`t mean he`s not guilty. It
just means he might be a very good liar. But not putting your guy on the
stand, especially in a case where he can get life in prison, means the
defendant is the most powerful possible witness against the defendant. And
that`s why you keep him off the stand.
Lawyers know the jury instructions will order the jury toot consider the
fact that the defendant didn`t testify, but they know, the lawyers know
that in a normal case jurors will hold it against the defendant. They will
correctly in most cases interpret the defendant`s silence in the courtroom
as an indicator of guilt. That`s why the most impressive win criminal
defense lawyers can ever get is when they get a not guilty for a guy who is
so guilty he can`t even testify in his own defense. Lawyers who win
controversial cases always tell us we must accept the controversial
verdicts. But they`re lying.
Lawyers appeal jury verdicts themselves all the time specifically because
they themselves do not accept verdicts that they don`t like. You do not
have a civic duty to accept the wisdom of jury verdicts. The founding
fathers didn`t want you to. That`s why they provided for an appeals
Now, every once in a while criminal defense attorneys get a client who they
believe is not just not guilty but actually innocent. And those lawyers
are not relieved to suddenly have a completely innocent defendant on their
hands because they know the odds are that their innocent client will still
be found guilty, and that is a terrible, terrible experience and a terrible
feeling. The feeling of justice denied.
You know, criminal defense lawyers, they like to keep their emotional
distance from their clients, who are usually on their way to bad outcomes
like prison sentences. But defense lawyers can`t keep their emotional
distance from innocent clients. They know they have to win. They know
that for once justice depends on them winning and not guilty. Lawyers are
the only white people I actually know who have intensely felt experience
with the sadness and anger of justice denied in this country. I`ve
actually seen young lawyers cry in court when an unjust verdict is read.
If you`ve never experienced it, if you`ve never felt yourself somehow
connected to it, then you might be lucky enough not to know how painful and
sad justice denied can be.
Black Americans have known that feeling since the time they arrived on this
continent in chains. The first e-mail I got after the verdict on Saturday
night was from a black American mother of a 2-year-old boy. She sent this
picture with just these words "weeping with rage for my little American."
O`DONNELL: One of the jurors in the Zimmerman case has said tonight that
she would be comfortable having George Zimmerman on the neighborhood watch
team in her neighborhood. Having heard all of the evidence in the case,
that juror seems to have forgotten that George Zimmerman`s role in
neighborhood watch duty required him to make sure that Trayvon Martin got
home safely from his trip to the 7-Eleven. That is why George Zimmerman
was carrying a gun, to protect people like Trayvon Martin and everyone else
in that neighborhood that night.
Is there really any reasonable doubt that George Zimmerman could not have
done a worse job as a neighborhood watch that night?
O`DONNELL: Tonight, another episode of American socialism. This time it`s
the house version of the farm bill, which like all farm bills is a very bad
piece of socialism that subsidizes wealthy players in the agriculture
industry who live in abject fear real forces of capitalism.
The first time John Boehner tried to pass his version of bad socialism, it
failed after Democrats balked at the draconian cuts to the food stamp
program and 62 Republicans said they were not draconian enough. So when
the farm bill came up for a vote again last Thursday, house Republicans
simply decided to leave out food stamps altogether. And so not one
Democrat in the house voted for the bill.
President Obama issued a veto threat against that bill. And that bill
passed with only 216 Republican votes. And that`s when "Time" reporter
Michael Grunwald went on a twitter tirade about Republican hypocrisy and
the Washington media`s refusal to acknowledge it.
I honestly don`t know how self-respecting reporters can take GOP demands
for spending cuts seriously. Look at the farm bill! I`m sure reporters
will remember this trillion-dollar farm boondoggle every time they write
how Republicans want to reduce spending. House R`s passed a trillion-
dollar bill to make sure rich farmers never lose money but they somehow
banged and a hooker and Obama said broccoli.
Did I read that write?
The GOP rule is money to poor people is socialism, money to make sure
agribusinesses can never have a bad year is awesome.
Joining me now is Michael Grunwald, senior correspondent for "Time"
magazine and author of "the New New Deal: the hidden story of change in the
Michael, thank you very much for joining the anti-bad socialism crowd on
the farm bill. It is just an astonishing thing to watch the way this thing
sails through and both parties go for it. You know, full throttle. And
I`m just talking about not the food stamp part of it, which by the way is I
think the good socialism part of it. But you know, the part of it that you
were raging against. It`s amazing how it sails through.
MICHAEL GRUNWALD, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, TIME MAGAZINE: Yes. It`s funny.
Originally, it used to be this kind of evil coalition of the sugar guys
with the corn guys with the soybean guys and the cotton guys. After a
while that wasn`t quite enough. So they added the food stamp guys. But
now in the Republican caucus, I guess they figure they have enough that
they can just particularly lard up the farm stuff. So in their version of
the farm bill there`s even worse changes to crop insurance that make it
even more generous, to peanuts and cotton. And they just left off the food
stamps because as you said, I guess, you know, giving money to working
people so that they can eat, I guess that`s what they consider socialism.
O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what house Democrat Rosa DeLauro said about the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROSA DELAURO (D), CONNECTICUT: We have 26 individuals in this nation. We
can`t find out who they are. They get at least a million dollars in a
subsidy. A million dollars in a subsidy. They have no income threshold,
no asset test, no cap. They don`t even have to farm the land. And they
don`t have to follow conservation practices. You want to go and find out
where we can save money here? Let`s find out who these 26 people are. All
those people who are on the crop insurance program --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: And Michael, it`s -- that`s the great mystery of the whole
thing, is we can`t even track who is really getting this money. Every once
in a while you will find out certain things like Michele Bachmann`s family
has profited by it. But that`s only because she had to do some disclosures
as a house member.
GRUNWALD: Yes. I mean, it`s really outrageous. I remember the owner of
the Utah jazz was getting some farm subsidies. David Letterman had some
farm subsidies. It really is -- you know, there`s sort of no rhyme or
reason as a matter of social justice or even public policy. There are all
kinds of different farm programs, you know, loan deficiency programs and
countercyclical and direct payments. But they are all essentially just
ways to shovel money to favor political constituencies. And that`s what`s
going on in here.
What`s so weird is that then the mainstream media -- and look, I`m a
member. Maybe not in good standing anymore. But we go and say like hey,
these are the conservative Republicans who are upset about spending when
you`ve got this trillion-dollar farm bill, when they are complaining about
President Obama`s Medicare cuts, when they are, you know, when they voted
for a $700 billion stimulus themselves. It`s just -- it`s very odd.
O`DONNELL: Michael Grunwald gets tonight`s very welcome "Last Word."
Thank you, Michael.
GRUNWALD: Thanks so much for having me, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes is up next.
CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES: Good evening from New
York. I`m Chris Hayes.
Friday night on this program, as we awaited the verdict in the trial of
George Zimmerman, for the killing of Trayvon Martin, my guest, Jelani Cobb
of the University of Connecticut said something that stock with me and
haunted me throughout the weekend.
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