THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
July 17, 2013
Guest: Mark Leibovich
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST: Tonight, what Rachel Jeantel told the
Reverend Al Sharpton and what the George Zimmerman jury isn`t telling
MARTIN BASHIR, MSNBC HOST: The burden of a star witness in a hotly
RACHEL JEANTEL, WITNESS: I kept my ground. I stand strong.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think that Rachel Jeantel was treated
fairly as a witness?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was the tone of Don West`s questions to her.
BASHIR: The way they tried to cross-examine her.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you claiming in anyway you don`t understand
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you speak English?
AL SHARPTON, MSNBC HOST: Trying to rattle you on the stand?
JEANTEL: Yes. Trying to get me angry.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just think the tone came across very
BASHIR: They`re trying to call her character into question.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She was the last one to speak to that child,
SHARPTON: They tried to frighten the testimony.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And he was fearful.
ANDREA MITCHELL, MSNBC ANCHOR: The verdict in the George Zimmerman
trial is sparking a national dialogue.
BASHIR: With an escalating push for federal civil rights charges.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dozens of demonstrators began a sit-in at the
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re looking microscopically at the jury.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We, the jury, find George Zimmerman not guilty.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did the juror make the right decision in this
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Juror B-37, is this your verdict?
JUROR B-37: Yes.
SHARPTON: What was going on in that jury room?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The jury has spoken.
ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: The Justice Department shares your
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it`s perfectly appropriate to look at the
HOLDER: It`s time to question laws that senselessly expand the
concept of self-defense.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He really was talking about "Stand Your Ground".
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The prosecutor said "Stand Your Ground" didn`t
apply to this case. It never came up in the defense.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It does seem like there`s an uphill battle here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We still live in a country that has a long way to
MITCHELL: A conversation that is only just beginning.
O`DONNELL: George Zimmerman didn`t take the witness stand to tell his
story in his murder trial. And subject his story to the challenge of
cross-examination in a courtroom before a jury.
Rachel Jeantel didn`t want to take the witness stand to tell her
story. But today, Rachel Jeantel told the Reverend Al Sharpton how she
summoned the courage to do it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: Do you feel as you say you talked to your supporters, you
feel a lot of people have attacked you? But, know, lot of people around
the country are standing up supporting you as well?
JEANTEL: Yes, and people who are attacking me, they`re not in my
place. They have to imagine if that was them, my age, would they do it?
The whole world watching you.
So, nobody felt how I felt. Day before I testified, I did not sleep
at all. Trying to figure out how I`m going to do this, how I`m going to do
OK, what he going to ask me, because I know Don. When they said an
hour, I didn`t believe that. I believed it was going to be three hours.
It became five hours.
So I don`t understand what people are saying, why she do this, why --
she`s lying. If that was you, would you do it?
SHARPTON: You`ve got on the stand and testified and Zimmerman didn`t.
JEANTEL: No. And people in the whole world judging me. They`re
judging me, and the person who shot Trayvon did not even testify.
SHARPTON: Well, what do you think about that?
JEANTEL: That`s not a real man. If you were, say, not guilty, you
come up and tell your story, this what happened, this what happened. You
just don`t stand there, just look, I ain`t doing nothing, I ain`t do
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now, the host of MSNBC`s "POLITICS NATION", the
Reverend Al Sharpton.
Al, was that your first meeting with Rachel Jeantel?
SHARPTON: Yes, I was. I had never spoken with her before. And I had
watched the testimony. And I like others were alarmed at the levels of
attack and almost venom that people came down on this young lady, and when
I sat and talked to her, I was actually moved by her conviction, her
firmness, and her strength, and her intelligence, and I thought that -- I
was very happy that people could see her in her own resolve, she knew
exactly what she was doing, never ever equivocated on the facts that she
said from the beginning until this day.
O`DONNELL: I want to hear -- I want to present to the audience more
of your interview, because you broadcasted four hours ago at 6:00 and I
think we have a whole new group of viewers who are going to want to see
this. It`s a very special look at her.
So, we`re going to listen to more of it now.
JEANTEL: They said they wanted me to be there. That`s why they said
they had a plan for me. They come after me since October.
SHARPTON: Why do you think it was so important to them they didn`t
want you there?
JEANTEL: Phone records, she showed kind of proof, what George said on
the tape, 911 tape, she said it, and remind you before the 911 tape came
out, I`m the one -- my voice came out before the 911s, all that. And I
told them and listened to his 911, it matched what I said.
SHARPTON: So when you had told the story even before the tape had
come out about what he was saying, screaming, and all of that, the tape
came out after you told the story. It really corroborated what you had
JEANTEL: Yes. And the state just called me, OK, you`re my star
witness, so they called, I went to Jacksonville. They went back and forth
with me, and the defense would ask me question every one, what are you
doing here, trying to figure out what I am, who I am,
JEANTEL: Trying to figure out the bad in me. I want your Twitter,
Facebook, your family. This don`t have nothing to do with me. It`s not
about me. It`s not about my character, it`s not about Trayvon`s character.
It`s about that night, what happened that night. Who caused the
situation to happen?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: So, Al, she knew based on what the defense, the
information the defense had been requesting from her in the previous
months, she knew when she went into that courtroom, don west was going to
try to put her on trial?
SHARPTON: She not only knew it, she anticipated it. One of the
things that was stunning to me, Lawrence, when Don West went after her
saying, do you understand English? One would think he had not spoken to
her for months. She said, I know Don. She was calling him Don.
They had that much interchange down through the months leading to
trial, because the defense had an opportunity to question her preparing for
their defense. He acted as if he totally was unaware of her abilities,
when, in fact, he was trying to rattle her and portray her in a certain way
to the jury and the public. And I never understood that until we did this
O`DONNELL: Well, let`s go to that part where you actually talked to
her about this, and that challenge to her about speaking English. Let`s
listen to that.
SHARPTON: I think, you know, coming up as I did, I thought you
basically handled the attack a lot cooler than a lot of young people,
because -- I mean, at some points it was almost -- let me show you one
question that Don asked you, you tell me how you felt about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you claiming in anyway that you don`t
JEANTEL: I don`t understand you. I don`t understand you, I do
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My question is, when someone speaks to you in
English, do you believe that you have any difficulty understanding it
because it wasn`t your first language.
JEANTEL: I understand English really well.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHARPTON: I mean, the way you kind of looked at him and then you kind
of went ahead, it was like, what are you talking about?
JEANTEL: That day I know -- well, the next -- the day before I had to
deal with Don, I already know what he was coming after. So I had to show
him more respect. That`s when the "yes, sir" started.
And when Don asked me that question and I had been talking English
with him for that long. And I feel disrespect, I feel like he disrespect
me, so I couldn`t say nothing, so I had to hold on, and I said, why are you
asking me this question? I`m thinking, why are you asking me this
question? I`m speaking English to you.
SHARPTON: And had conversations with him leading up to trial, and
this never came up?
JEANTEL: This never came up.
SHARPTON: So, you were pre-interviewed by the defense and prosecutors
and it didn`t come up, why does he come up and bring it up in the trial?
Do you think he was trying to --
JEANTEL: To attack me.
SHARPTON: And for what, to try to rattle you on the stand or
JEANTEL: Yes, to try to get me angry, to show the jury, look at her,
she angry, she`s his friend. If she`s angry, you should imagine how
O`DONNELL: Reverend Al, it`s been striking to me since she first went
public after the trial on television, and again with you, that she`s just
much more kind of composed and ready to talk. And it`s not as if TV is
easy for her. It`s not like she`s done that before. There`s a lot of
pressure on being on national television, but it seems like the pressure of
the courtroom was much more intense on her.
SHARPTON: Not only the pressure of the courtroom, and certainly,
you`re right there, that it was intense, but to have someone that you`ve
engaged in a lot of pre-interview, a lot of conversation ask you questions
that you know they know better than, she`s 18 years old, and she`s like,
what are you talking about? Do I understand English? We`ve been talking
for months. Where is this coming from?
And for her to be able to deal with the pressure of the courtroom and
how incongruous his questions was given their relationship, I think it was
almost amazing that she was able to handle it. Because she had to figure
it out as she was going along.
And again, I think he was purposely saying, this is not your first
language. He was trying to make inferences to the jury that he knew
better, but he wanted to project certain things to her like you`re
different, you don`t speak English. You`re different.
Like she said, provoking anger which would fit into the stereotype he
was trying to project of Trayvon Martin, that he was this angry, out of
control young black man, and these are his friends.
O`DONNELL: Reverend Al Sharpton, thank you very much for sharing that
interview with us tonight, Al.
SHARPTON: Thank you, Lawrence.
Reverend Al will interview the parents of Trayvon Martin tomorrow
night on "POLITICS NATION" at 6:00 p.m. Eastern. And you can see his full
interview with Rachel Jeantel on the MSNBC Web site.
Coming up, we will have more from the Zimmerman jury -- there is more
from the Zimmerman jury today. One of them seems to think she has already
said too much.
And we`re not going to show you "Rolling Stone`s" controversial cover,
but we are going to talk about it, even though "Rolling Stone" cancelled
the appearance on this program tonight of the reporter who wrote that cover
story about the Boston marathon bomber.
And you might think that Virginia`s anti-sodomy law has nothing to do
with you, but that`s because you`ve never read that law. That law makes
almost every form of adult sex illegal. Virginia is the one state that is
certainly not for lovers. That`s in tonight`s rewrite.
O`DONNELL: In Texas, a Democratic state representative is proposing a
legislation that would block implementation of Texas` new 20-week abortion
ban until such time as the death penalty is abolished in Texas. State
Representative Harold Dutton from Houston says his bill would mean the
abortion restrictions would not go into effect until 60 days after Texas
stops executing people, and then shows its actual respect for life.
The state`s most recent execution was on June 26th. Governor Perry
spoke at the National Right to Life Convention the next morning.
Up next: new details about the jurors in the Zimmerman trial.
O`DONNELL: The juror who went on CNN Monday night to tell the world
how absolutely certain she was that it was George Zimmerman`s screams we
were hearing on that 911 tape, and how convinced she was that George
Zimmerman would make a perfectly good neighborhood watch leader in her
neighborhood, that very same juror who was then pursuing a book deal has --
was disowned by four other jurors in a public statement they made last
night, and I represented on this program as soon as it was released.
And today, that juror seems to be disowning her previous certainty
that George Zimmerman did nothing wrong and Trayvon Martin did everything
Today, she issued this statement: "Thank you for the opportunity to
vent some of the anguish which has been in me since the trial began. For
reasons of my own, I needed to speak alone. There will be no other
My prayers are with all those who have the influence and power to
modify the laws that left me with no verdict option other than not guilty,
in order to remain within the instructions.
No other family should be forced to endure what the Martin family has
As for the alleged book deal, there is not one at this time. There
was an agreement with a literary agent to explore the concept of a book
which discussed the impact of sequestration on my perceptions of this
serious case, while being compared to the perceptions of an attorney who
was closely following the trial from outside the bubble.
The relationship with the agent ceased the moment I realized what had
been occurring in the world during the weeks of my sequestration.
My prayers are with Trayvon`s parents for their loss, as they have
always been. I now wish for me and my family to recover from being
selected for this jury and return to a normal life.
We have had statements now from five of the six jurors. The only
juror we have not had a statement from is Juror B-29, the only nonwhite
member of that all female jury. She was described as Hispanic or black
woman, married, the mother of eight children, who recently moved to
Joining me now, MSNBC`s Karen Finney, host of "DISRUPT WITH KAREN
FINNEY." And MSNBC`s legal analyst Lisa Bloom.
Karen Finney, the statement today from this juror who -- when she
first appeared on television, was completely convinced of every single
element of the case as presented by the defense. Is this statement of full
of sympathy suddenly for Trayvon Martin? What`s your reaction to that?
KAREN FINNEY, MSNBC HOST: You know, the first interview, I have to
tell you, I found chilling, it confirmed for me something when Mark O`Mara
gave his closing argument, which was -- when he talked about the fact that
there had been crime in the neighborhood perpetrated by people who looked
like Trayvon Martin, and I can`t remember the exact words used. But
essentially, he was trying to give the jury permission for whatever biases
they may have had, and even though we couldn`t say racial profiling, for
And her answers to that first interview sounded like she bought that
hook, line and sinker, that it was all OK, and then, now that she`s not
sequestered, realized that there was a lot more going on here and maybe she
should have, maybe -- you know, taken a step back and thought about it
perhaps differently than perhaps they did when they were in that jury room.
O`DONNELL: Lisa Bloom, in her first television interview, she did
mention -- she did refer to the jury instructions as being significant, but
she just kept stressing how much she bought every piece of the defense`s
interpretation of the evidence.
In this new statement from her, it`s all about the jury instructions.
She is basically telling us here, I was completely handcuffed by the jury
instruction, please change the law.
LISA BLOOM, MSNBC LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the jury instructions were
confusing, and, you know, I was on the air on Saturday while they were
deliberating, when they had sent out the question saying the manslaughter
instruction was confusing and they wanted guidance on it, and the judge
sent back a response which was essentially, well, what was your specific
question? And they never returned with that question. A couple of hours
later, they came back with a verdict.
I almost wish that discussion between the jury and the judge had
continued and they had gotten an answer. But there was no question frankly
that the jury instructions were confusing. I read all 27 pages of them.
There`s a lot of extraneous information in there, a lot of it was legalese,
it wouldn`t be comprehensible to a non-lawyer.
So, I do think they need cleaning up. But obviously, she`s also
seeing the public outcry, seeing how everyone is so upset by the verdict,
and coming around to having a little bit more compassion for Trayvon
O`DONNELL: But, Karen Finney, here you have kind of the toughest
juror -- the toughest, strongest pro-defense juror who is basically saying,
look, this law has to be changed. I operated within the jury instructions
and within the law, I was trying to do my best to do it.
But the law should be changed. She`s now in this statement today
saying, something happened there that night that should not have happened.
She did say in her interview that George Zimmerman shouldn`t have gotten
out of the car.
So, it`s a very important switch for her in this statement.
FINNEY: Yes. Well, I mean, you know, a lot of us thought, OK, wait a
second, the guy who gets out of the car with the loaded gun is the victim?
And the other guy who is dead is not? I mean, there was a lot within the
way this case was prosecuted that I think really switched a lot of that.
But I think with regard to the juror specifically and the law, Lisa, I
know you talked about this, I want to give the jurors the benefit of the
doubt that they had a certain set of facts confronting them, and the
instructions and they had the law. And they may have truly believed that
based on what they had in front of them, they could not convict.
But I think it is very clear from what this juror said that this law,
these kinds of gun laws, creates a culture and an environment where it is
OK to get out of my car with my gun. Go hunt somebody down. And then if
that person turns on me and I feel threatened, it`s OK to shoot them.
Because she also said he was justified in defending himself.
O`DONNELL: Lisa Bloom, this juror seems to be blaming a lot on
sequestration. Saying gee, I was locked away from the world and had no
idea how the world was reacting. But the world was reacting to this for
over a year before that trial right in the community where -- you know, in
Florida, how could anyone in Florida not know how the world was reacting to
this case before that jury was sworn in to duty?
BLOOM: Well, that is true. And they should be deciding the case
based on the evidence. And I`m in favor of sequestration in a high profile
case, recognizing that, of course, it`s difficult to be away from your
family and the Internet for a month.
And the bottom line is, I don`t blame the jurors, I blame the
prosecution because they should have linked the jury up to the facts they
had in the case. It is not the fault of these jurors and it`s not the
fault of the jury instructions.
O`DONNELL: Karen Finney and Lisa Bloom, thank you both for joining me
BLOOM: Thank you.
O`DONNELL: Now, we were supposed to have the writer of "Rolling
Stone`s" cover story next, our next guest. But "Rolling Stone" is running
scared tonight from that cover story and the controversy it created. And
they refused to allow their reporter to join us -- which means, I will have
to talk about "Rolling Stones" cover story without someone from "Rolling
Stones". That`s next.
And Virginia`s candidate for governor is trying to rewrite the United
States Constitution and human sexuality at the same time. And he says, of
course, that he`s doing it for the children. That`s in the rewrite.
O`DONNELL: "Rolling Stone" is running scared tonight from the
controversy sparked by the cover of the new issue. Now, I`m not going to
show you that cover because I don`t like it. And a lot of people from
Boston don`t like it.
It is a picture of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the accused Boston marathon
bomber, presented as favorably as "Rolling Stone" would present the cover
shot of a rock star.
In a letter to "Rolling Stone", Boston`s Mayor Tom Menino wrote, "Your
August 3rd cover rewards a terrorist with celebrity treatment. It is ill-
conceived at best, and reaffirms a terrible message that destruction gains
fame for killers and their causes."
CVS stores have pulled the magazine from their magazine racks. CVS is
a nationwide chain based in New England. Many of the victims of the Boston
bombing have publicly expressed their outrage at "Rolling Stone."
Jen Regan, whose fiance Mark Pocarili (ph) lost a leg in the bombing,
wrote, "For over three months now, Mark has had to wake up every day in the
hospital dealing with pain, dozens of surgeries and intensive rehab
therapy. Our entire family has been focused on Mark`s recovery while we
anxiously wait when he can return home. The new `Rolling Stone` cover is
disgusting. It sensationalizes Mark`s pain, as well as all other victims
and survivors. It is an insult to the families and people impacted that
Many other victims made similar statements today. Governor Deval
Patrick told "Reuters", "I haven`t read it, but I understand the substance
of the article is not objectionable. It`s apparently pretty good
reporting, but the cover is out of state, I think.
If the governor does get around to reading that article, he is going
to have trouble finding the pretty good reporting. The cover claims that
it will tell you quote "how a popular promising student was failed by his
family, fell into radical Islam and became a monster," end quote,
The article fails to do that. It spends most of its Time in romantic
remembering, of what a great kid Dzhokhar was, as described by many his
friends. Now, I talked to many of those kids myself on the streets of
Cambridge and I found them as the article does, completely mystified about
how their nice guy friend could possibly have been involved with the
I, therefore, found them ultimately rather uninteresting people to
talk to once that point was made. That the guy they knew was a good guy.
They were all very repetitive when I talked to them. And each one of them
offered absolutely no insight into how their friend could h become a
terrorist bomber. And they offer no such insight in the article.
The "Rolling Stone" article gives Dzhokhar`s friends ample space to
make those same repetitive points (INAUDIBLE). If you think by continuing
to read you will come to that moment when one of his friends has the
insight that tells you how Dzhokhar changed, you will be disappointed. But
along the way you will read quotes like this. "He is a golden person.
Really just a genuine good guy who was cool with everyone." There is also
a line in there that says he was gorgeous.
The author of the piece will tell you without attributing it to
anyone, girls went a little crazy, but to Dzhokhar`s credit, his friends
say even when he had crushes he never exploited them.
In this 11,201 word article that claims that girls went a little crazy
over him, not one girlfriend of his is revealed. Not one girl who actually
went crazy over him is revealed. We never discovered whether he ever had a
girlfriend. An elemental fact, you would think, about a teenager. In
fact, we never discover anything in the article that we didn`t already
know. We all do want to know what inspired Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to go on his
rampage. But Rolling Stone has moved us no closer to an answer. Rolling
stone`s publicist was very happy to book the author as a guest on this
program tonight. But that was before Rolling Stone saw Boston`s reaction
to their cover story. And so by 3:00 today, Rolling Stone was running so
scared that they cancelled the writer`s appearance on this program. And
Rolling Stone issued a very defensive statement saying our hearts go out to
the victims of the Boston marathon bombing and our thoughts are always with
them and their families.
That first line is of course, not true. None, none of the thoughts in
the current issue of "Rolling Stone" are with the victims of the Boston
marathon bombings and their families. None. All of "Rolling Stone`s"
thoughts this month are with the Boston murderers and their oblivious
Rolling Stone uses their cover boy`s age to justify their
controversial cover. The fact that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is young and in the
same age group as many of our readers makes it all the more important for
us to examine the complexities of this issue and gain a more complete
understanding of how a tragedy like this happens.
And so, Rolling Stone has failed on its very own terms, because we do
not gain a more complete understanding of how a tragedy like this happens,
by reading the Rolling Stone article that breaks no new ground in
explaining how this happened.
The author of the piece offers no insight of her own to how this
happened. But the article does offer two explanations, from two people
quoted in the piece. One is identified as a local community college
professor whose name I will shield from further national embarrassment, for
the absurdist explanation he offers Rolling Stone readers.
The professor never met Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, but his appearance in the
piece is justified by Rolling Stone because of his perspective on quote
"many young immigrants who pass through his classrooms," end quote.
The professor says all of these kids are grateful to be in the United
States. But it is the usual thing. Is this the land of opportunity or
isn`t it? When I look at what they have been through and how they are
screwed by federal policies from the moment they turn around, I don`t
understand why all of them are not angrier. I`m actually kind of surprise
it has taking so long for one of these kids t set off a bomb.
So, Dzhokhar was screwed by deferral policies and decided to set off a
bomb, The piece ably points out that Dzhokhar and his family`s first
encounter with federal policies was when they were granted asylum by the
United States of America. They continued to benefit from federal policies
including food stamps and income and housing support. An in the course of
writing a e like this or any other piece, journalists will pick up useful
information and they will pick up an awful lot of useless information.
And one of the questions I would have asked the author of this piece
tonight is, what stupid things did people tell you that you decided not to
use in the piece because they were just too stupid and too obviously
irrelevant? And did anyone say anything stupider than Dzhokhar and his
brother became mad bombers because they were screwed by federal policies?
And if the author of the piece doesn`t think that that is a profoundly
stupid statement, can Rolling Stone or the author of the piece explain to
us why there is not a bomb going off in every public square in America
every day by people, young people, who think they were screwed by federal
The only other explanation offered in the piece to explain how
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev fell into radical Islam and became a monster as the
article claims to do is offered by one of those friends of Dzhokhar who
never had the slightest idea that there was ever anything wrong with
His brother must have brainwashed him, said Sam. It is the only
Sam, like the rest of Dzhokhar`s friends in this piece is identified
with a pseudonym. Sam`s explanation quote comes at the very end of the
piece when the piece is in desperate need of an explanation.
His brother must have brainwashed him, said Sam, it is the only
Sam, like most of Dzhokhar`s friends never met Dzhokhar`s brother.
Never met him. Never laid eyes on him, never bore witness to how
irresistible Tamerlan Tsarnaev`s powers of brain wash must have been. You
have to know very, very little about brothers to accept that as the only
explanation. His brother must have brainwashed him.
Now, I grew up in Boston where a couple of my friends had a brother
who became a murder. And they grew up admiring their older brother. They
loved their older brother. But they didn`t follow him into a life of crime
The piece says that Dzhokhar idolized his older brothers. A lot of us
idolized our older brothers but that doesn`t mean we will do everything
they want us to do. My older brothers got me to do things they wanted me
to do. I didn`t play baseball with my older brother because he brainwashed
me into it. I played baseball with my older brother because we both
decided that is what we wanted to do.
His brother must have brainwashed him is a wild guess. It is a wild
guess, made by someone who never met his brother. It is a wild guess that
a lot of people all over the world have already made, as soon as they heard
or read the basic outline of this story. The quote found its place in the
Rolling Stone article because the article needed that quote desperately.
Need that wild guess. Because the article has no explanation about how
Rolling Stone`s cover boy became a terrorist. The only insight we have to
the mind of this terrorist are his own words that Rolling Stone reports he
wrote on the side of the boat that he was captured in, in Watertown.
We Muslims are one body, you hurt one, you hurt us all.
Rolling Stone did not include another line that he wrote on the side
of that boat.
Stop killing our innocent people, and we will stop.
Those were his words. Stop killing our innocent people and we will
Read the "Rolling Stone" article from beginning to end and you will
have no better understanding of how the guy who wrote those words went from
his high school wrestling team to trying to kill people at the Boston
So if you miss this issue of "Rolling Stone," you will miss nothing.
O`DONNELL: I know a lot of you think that Virginia`s anti-sodomy law
has nothing to do with you. In fact, may be a lot of you think that, but
that is because you don`t know how Virginia law defines sodomy. You are
going to find out and you need to find out because don`t want to be a
criminal in Virginia. You will find that out next in the "rewrite."
O`DONNELL: In tonight`s rewrite, sodomy laws, which is to say, anti-
sodomy laws. And now, I know a lot of you are thinking I want people to be
free to practice sodomy or even perfect sodomy. But I can live without
sodomy. But if you think that you probably don`t know what sodomy is in
the eyes of the law, anyway.
Anti-sodomy laws never, never limit themselves to what is commonly
thought of as sodomy. The Virginia anti-sodomy law has become an issue in
the gubernatorial campaign, but the Republican nominee, attorney general
Ken Cuccinelli is fighting to keep Virginia`s anti-sodomy law alive after
it was struck down by a federal appeals court.
Cuccinelli is re-writing his justification for Virginia`s anti-sodomy
law by calling it an anti-child predator`s law. And that is the kind of
thing that makes me want to read the law. The actual name of the law is
"crimes against nature." And that law says if any person carnally knows in
any manner, any brute animal or carnally knows any male or female person by
the anus or by or with the mouth or voluntarily submits to such carnal
knowledge, he or she shall be guilty of a class six felony. Such a crime
against nature carries a minimum one year prison sentence.
So you see, sodomy in the eyes of the law includes stuff that maybe
you can`t live without. It does not simply prohibit what it calls carnal
knowledge "by the anus," end quote. It also prohibits carnal knowledge
quote "by or with the mouth," end quote. And because the law applies to
quote "any person, any male or female person," end quote, that means any
kind of carnal knowledge with a male or female mouth coming into contact
with a carnal body part of a male or female. In other words, it prohibits
most gay and straight sex. And while it is at it, it prohibits sex with
quote "any brute animal."
In fact, the only sex act that remains legal is heterosexual vaginal
intercourse, and don`t think you can law applies to quote "any person, any
male or female person." It does not include an exception for married
couples. So the Republican candidate for governor in Virginia is running
on a platform that wants to continue to make it illegal in Virginia for
married couples to have oral sex or for any couples of any gender to have
any form of oral sex. Ken Cuccinelli has recently tried to lie to Virginia
by saying that the anti-sodomy law cannot be used as acts against between
consenting adults. This is the attorney general of the state lying about
the law that I just read to you that could not be more clear. And how do
we know he knows he is lying and not just stupid? Because when he served
in the state Senate he voted against a measure that would have changed the
law to no longer apply to private consensual sex.
As a legislator, he was actually given the chance to change the law
into what he now says the law is. And he voted against that change. So
when the Republican candidate for governor finds himself in a campaign
debate, is it not reasonable to ask him if he has violated that law that he
supports. Is it not reasonable to ask him specifically if he has violated
that law since 2004 when he cast that vote to make sure that that law
continued to apply to private consensual sex and marital consensual sex and
private sex of married couples.
Now, I`m not here to ask every candidate for governor in every state
what type of sex act they engage in, but when a governor is running on a
platform that says if any person carnally knows in any manner any brute
manner or carnally knows any person by the anus or by or with the mouth or
voluntarily submits to such carnal knowledge, he or she shall be guilty of
a class six felony and go to jail for a year?
Then, I want to know if that candidate or his wife have done anything
that would, under that law, put them in jail for a year. I also want to
ask what the new state tourism slogan is going to be. Because Virginia is
for lovers? Is bull (bleep).
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At the White House yesterday, former President
Bush gave President Obama a pair of socks. That is nice, President Obama
thank him and said the last Time I got a gift from the Republicans it was
O`DONNELL: Washington, D.C. is our nation`s capitol, but among the
power elite who live and work there, Washington, D.C. is known simply as
"this town" which is of course, the title of the new instant bestseller by
this is of course, the title of the new instant best seller by Mark
Leibovich, chief national correspondent for "The New York Times" magazine.
Joining me now, Mark Leibovich, author of "this town and two parties
in a funeral, plus plenty of valet parking in America`s gilded capital."
Mark, the funeral in the book is Tim Russert`s very sad funeral. And
one thing you said about tin of the book, and he was the mayor. He was the
mayor of this power elite town. Who is the mayor now?
MARK LEIBOVICH, CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES
MAGAZINE: I don`t know, I mean one of the points of the book, and I left
with Tim Russert`s funeral, which is basically the state funeral like a
vent in which it was sort of given over to obviously a lot of mourning but
also a lot of networking. It was an odd scene. But I think Tim Russert
left a void that has not been thrown in many ways.
O`DONNELL: And how would you describe that void? I mean, what would
be if there was to be this kind of unofficial mayor, what would that role
LEIBOVICH: Well, I mean, it is interesting, because, I mean, Tim`s
death coincided with what was about to be the decline of the national
economy. The local economy in Washington didn`t hiccup at all. You had
Obama coming in. And sort of -- you had this vacuum sort of anarchy in the
peanut gallery and that is sort emblematic of what has happened in the
Washington in general. I mean, it has been this big carnival in which
people have very well and become very interconnected at the time when the
rest of the country has suffered greatly. So I think Tim Russert has been
O`DONNELL: Now Mark, the book is a cruel joke on the power league
because I, of course, went to the index today to see the names of everybody
I know in the book, and there is no index which I believe is a federal
crime on books about Washington because that is the way we read them. We
just look at the index of the name.
LEIBOVICH: Exactly, you notice I have to leave to New York city,
because I think, you know, my safety was at stake. I had to leave town.
No, yes. I mean, I think there is something called the Washington read,
which is the people in Washington would go to the bookstore, open up the
books, see if there in any index, look for themselves, see how they`re
portrayed and then put the book back, so I didn`t want people do it that
O`DONNELL: Yes. But you have delivered apparently a great read
because Washington is grabbing it and racing through it. Everybody I know
is racing through this book and trading stories about it. What is the
worst personal backlash you have gotten so far?
LEIBOVICH: Interesting, I mean, I think there have been some e-mails,
there have been some phone calls. But, what is interesting is just the
tenor of the criticism, which is pretty muted it has been, how dare he?
How dare he divulge the secret hand shake? How dare a member of the club
speak ill or say things about other members of the club.
And look, I mean, if this book makes people uncomfortable, I am sorry
but I think there should be more discomfort in Washington and the
Washington media. So, I don`t know, without getting specific, there were
no threats of physical harm, but I think I will be OK.
O`DONNELL: Well, Mark, good luck with extending your membership in
LEIBOVICH: Thanks, Lawrence. (INAUDIBLE).
O`DONNELL: Mark Leibovich, author of "This Town" gets tonight`s "Last
Thank you, Mark.
LEIBOVICH: Glad to.
O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes is up Next.
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THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL