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'The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell' for Monday, April 21st, 2014

Read the transcript to the Monday show

April 21, 2014

Guests: Allyson Schwartz, Dahlia Lithwick, Crystal Moore, James Harn, Carol
Marbin, Hunter Walker

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: You think Democrats are running away from the
Affordable Care Act? Tonight, an exclusive first look at the ad that`s
running straight towards it and the candidate who`s proud to claim it as
her own.


up -- they were wrong about that. They said it would be unaffordable for
the country -- they were wrong about that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Obama has two numbers in mind.

OBAMA: We have 8 million people signed up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eight million in 2014.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was the president saying go ahead, make my day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president seized on the numbers to challenge

OBAMA: We`ve been having a political fight about this for five years. We
need to move on to something else.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And told Democrats to forcefully defend it ahead of the

OBAMA: I don`t think we should apologize for. I don`t think we should be
defensive about it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will we see Democrats take the president`s challenge?
Control of the Senate is up for grabs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will say this. The debate`s obviously not over.
They`re not going to let it go.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Obama`s message to Republicans --

OBAMA: We`ve been having a political fight about this for five years. We
need to move on to something else.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In their relentless fight against the nation`s health
care law.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Saying Obamacare, Obamacare, Obamacare is a very smart
strategy for Republicans.

OBAMA: We need to move on to something else.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was the president saying go ahead, make my day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will they start running away from health care now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And trying to show Democrats how to do it.


MELBER: Hello. I`m Ari Melber, in for Lawrence O`Donnell.

In a developing story tonight, there are signs President Obama`s new call
to run on the Affordable Care Act has gotten through to Democrats. We have
an interview with a statewide candidate here in studio about that in a

First, let`s look at the context for this effort. The president`s victory
lap on Thursday, when he announced 8 million ACA enrollments and told
Republicans to move on.


OBAMA: I know every American isn`t going to agree with this law, but I
think we can agree that it`s well past time to move on.


MELBER: Well past time.

The Republican National Committee then released this web video.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We`re seeing denials of care, disruptions in care.
We`re seeing a great deal of confusion and at times anger and frustration
on the part of these families who bought insurance thinking that their
children were going to be covered, and they`ve in fact found that it`s a
false promise.


MELBER: You can see here, Republicans are content with being a one-note
party on this issue.

Here`s the RNC`s communications director making that point yesterday.


Obamacare`s still the number one, number two, and number three issue going
into this election.


MELBER: So it`s also not really a surprise that the Senate conservatives
fund launched another campaign here today against six Democratic senators
who voted to pass the ACA. The, quote, "Obamacare six" as they called them
-- Senators Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Begich
of Alaska, Kay Hagan in North Carolina, Mark Udall of Colorado, and Jeanne
Shaheen of New Hampshire.

But Democrats are not all running away. They heard President Obama loud
and clear when he said this last week about helping millions of people
because of this law.


OBAMA: I think that Democrats should forcefully defend and be proud of the
fact --


MELBER: Over in Louisiana, Senator Mary Landrieu writing a positive
editorial in "The Times-Picayune" over the weekend after advocating for
Medicaid expansion in her state."

In North Carolina running this radio ad against her Republican opponent.


AD NARRATOR: Here`s Republican Senate candidate Thom Tillis describing

THOM TILLIS: It`s a great idea.

AD NARRATOR: That`s right. Tom Tillis called Obamacare called Obamacare a
great idea. That`s on the Bill Lumaye`s show just this February. You can
look it up.

Tillis even supported an Obamacare exchange in North Carolina. So, Thom
Tillis thinks he can attack Kay Hagan over something he calls a great idea?


MELBER: And in Pennsylvania, gubernatorial candidate, Congresswoman
Allyson Schwartz, is starting to run this ad tomorrow. THE LAST WORD has
an exclusive first look.


President Obama on the Affordable Care Act in getting health coverage to
all Americans. It was my legislation that said insurance companies can no
longer deny coverage for kids with pre-existing conditions. It`s something
I`m proud of because it also closed the gap in prescription drug coverage
for seniors.


MELBER: The other thing you can notice about this ad is she uses it to go
on offense as well, hitting her Republican rival for not expanding


SCHWARTZ: Tom Corbett has decided not to take the Medicaid money. As
governor, I will take the Medicaid expansion because 500,000 Pennsylvanians
need health coverage. It is exactly the kind of leadership I will bring as
your next governor.


MELBER: That was Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz and she joins us right
here along with Richard Wolffe, executive editor of

Welcome to you both.

Congresswoman, you`re running this ad. Your record here is clear on the
politics. What is the strategy here, what is the part of the campaign
you`re trying to enter into?

SCHWARTZ: Well, I thought I was making it very clear that I`m very proud
of the work I did with President Obama and my colleagues to pass the
Affordable Care Act and as the president has just said, 8 million Americans
have benefited. That includes Pennsylvanians. And I want Pennsylvanians
to be able to benefit.

I`ve heard already that they have. And of course I do think that it is
absolutely wrong that our current governor, Tom Corbett, is refusing to
take the Medicaid expansion, 500,000 Pennsylvanians are not going to have
access to health care coverage simply because Tom Corbett`s decided it`s
not the right thing to do politically.

MELBER: Yes, I thought that part of your ad is powerful. I think it`s
important from a policy perspective for those of us who care about people
who want and need health care and may not be able to buy into the market.

Also, again, on the politics here, what`s interesting is sometimes we see
Medicaid and the ACA sort of decoupled, right? And it`s like how do you
feel about Medicare, how do you feel about Medicaid? And there`s this
thing called the ACA.

In fact, the entire point of part of the ACA was to get everyone in. That
was one way to add coverage.

I want to look in Florida, another state where there are some serious races
going on. When you poll this question about Medicaid expansion, 58 to 33
percent people prefer the Medicaid expansion. In Georgia, a red state, 54
to 38. Kansas, 52 to 35. And then in your state, where you`re running
these ads, 59 to 30 percent in Pennsylvania.

SCHWARTZ: Yes. I mean, I hear it from people all over Pennsylvania who
will come up and say I got health coverage from my family. I`m paying $35
a month for my family. I can meet my responsibilities. I can have that

Just today, a woman came to the campaign and said that she`d gotten
coverage under the Affordable Care Act, and was recently diagnosed with
breast cancer. The fact that she struggles with a serious disease that she
will hopefully win, that she doesn`t have to worry about how she`s going to
pay for the health coverage. She will get the care she needs.

That`s what this whole law`s about. It`s why we all should be working to
make it work in our states and why we need governors who will embrace the
Affordable Care Act, use it, use those millions of dollars in our state to
get health coverage done right for all of our people. And that`s one of
the reasons I`m running for governor of Pennsylvania, because it`s simply
wrong to have a governor who`s refusing to use this tool to help make sure
that Pennsylvanians get the care and health care they need.

MELBER: Yes. And I think that message comes in loud and clear in the ad.
Now, if you`ll pardon me, Congresswoman, I want to move to Richard Wolffe.

You`re talking about why you think you can win on this. I want to raise
the question of why some Democrats may not win on this. Your campaign

"New York Times" looked at this in the context of Medicare, and I want to
read a quote from Jonathan Bernstein that is pretty apt. He says, "It`s
not clear that either of those reforms, Social Security or Medicare, though
they were perceived as successful, actually delivered votes after Medicare
passed in `65, voters, quote, `rewarded` Democrats for Medicare with big
midterm losses in `66 and of course a lot of problems pursuing the White
House after that as well."

The argument there, Richard, being that even if the program is popular and
sticks around, its authors don`t always do the same.

factors in the `60s as I recall. I mean, it was a little before my time
but it`s hard to pin it all on Medicare. In any case, it`s not that
strange what the congresswoman is doing.

If you look at the polls, not just on the Medicaid question because that
one -- I mean, really, it`s a no-brainer. When you see anything with a 30-
point margin, any candidate should look at that, actually be courageous to
turn it down in that context. So, the argument that you are going against
your voters` interests, going against your voters` wishes, and by the way,
neighboring states may be taking the money and you`re not, why would you be
in that position.

But even if you look at the polling on Obamacare, on the Affordable Care
Act, it`s incredibly mixed. And if anything, it`s been moving in the
direction of the president and Democrats over the last several weeks and

Democrats have got the fire in their belly on this. They may not be as
intense as Republicans. So, it makes perfect sense for Republicans to say
if it`s just about turning out the base let`s talk about Obamacare. But if
you`re trying in Pennsylvania to get people in the middle, then Obamacare
is actually useful if you can talk about it in terms other than a broken
Web site, which is now fixed, or other things that the Republicans have
been very successful in defining it as.

If it`s about expanded coverage, Medicaid, then there is a path for
Democrats to gain that middle ground.

SCHWARTZ: Let`s just say also that, as you saw in my ad but is a reality,
is that one of the parts of the law that I worked on and was language that
I introduced as a law that got included in the Affordable Care Act was
making sure insurance companies could not deny coverage for kids with pre-
existing conditions. I mean, everybody thinks that`s a good idea, and yet
the Republicans continue in Congress, what, 50 times, to repeal this law
one way or another.

And so, most people would say -- well, we wouldn`t want to take that away.
Well, in fact, that`s what they`re trying to do. I think for us to be
clear about this, about the good that it`s doing for so many millions of
Americans, 8 million Americans have gotten health coverage and so many
others have benefited from some of the provisions in the law, it is a good
thing to be talking about I think what matters to people in their lives.

The reason I`m running for governor is because I want to do things that
will help people live their lives well and be economically successful and
getting them health coverage that they can afford is a part of that.

And so, labels aside, it`s the right thing for Pennsylvanians, and I think
it`s the right thing in most states. Not all of the states but the country
ought to be proud of it.

MELBER: And, briefly, you`re invoking the president. Are you also going
to be able to get him out on the road with you on the campaign trail?

SCHWARTZ: Well, I would love to get him out, even before the primary would
be lovely. It`s only a month to go. That would be great. But I certainly
would welcome him in the general election. I`d welcome him anytime.

MELBER: All right. There you have it.

I want to thank you both, Richard Wolffe and Congresswoman Schwartz, for
being here tonight. Appreciate it.

All right. Coming up, should Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg retire now so
President Obama can put another liberal on the court? What a retired
Supreme Court justice has to say about it. Some new reporting there.

And later, how politics and cost-cutting put children in danger in the
state of Florida. There`s an extraordinary investigation by "The Miami
Herald" that uncovered nearly 500 children`s deaths that might have been


MELBER: An American won the Boston marathon today for the first time in 31
years. Thirty-eight-year-old Meb Keflezighi finished in 2 hours 8 minutes
and 37 seconds. He had the names of Krystle, Lingzi, Martin and Sean, the
victims of last year`s attack, written on the corners of his race bib. And
after his win he said, quote, "This is for Boston, the U.S., and the

Rita Jeptoo of Kenya won the women`s race for the third time with a course

Up next, picking Supreme Court justices is one of the president`s most
important decisions and one of the justices may be deciding if she is ready
to let President Obama choose her successor.


MELBER: When liberals think about a President Ted Cruz or President Chris
Christie, the scariest part isn`t necessarily what they would do in office.
It`s who they would put on the Supreme Court.

Two of the more liberal members of the court are also two of the older
members nowadays. The 75-year-old Stephen Breyer and 81-year-old Ruth
Ginsberg. And some liberals have argued they should consider retiring soon
to ensure that President Obama can pick their replacement.

The "retire now" call is most often directed at Ginsburg, who has battled
some health problems, though she says she`s fit and healthy now. For court
watchers, the big news this week is that Ginsburg turned out -- she sought
advice about retirement from the court`s one-time liberal lion, Justice
John Paul Stevens, who left the court at the age of 90 in 2010, enabling
Obama to appoint Elena Kagan.


for any political reason whatsoever. It was my concern about my own

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think it`s something that justices should take
into account?

STEVENS: I think so. I think certainly it`s a natural and appropriate
thing to think about your successor. You`re interested in the job and in
the kind of work that`s done, you have to have an interest in who`s going
to fill your shoes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So if Justice Ginsburg came to you and asked your

STEVENS: I`d say she doesn`t need my advice. She really doesn`t.


STEVENS: It`s interesting because she did ask my advice when I -- when she
became the senior associate justice, and basically I gave her that same


MELBER: Stevens recounted that advice and conversation in a new ABC
interview about his new book. He also offered an alarmed view of the
Roberts court. There`s perhaps no liberal more concerned than Stevens
about just how far afield the Supreme Court is.

Here`s the former justice`s blunt assessment of the Roberts court`s new
ruling eliminating caps on donations to candidates who live in other
states. He said, "The voter is less important than the man who provides
money to the candidate. It`s really wrong."

Stevens` emergence as the court`s conscience for clean elections and
progressive equality also shows just how far the court`s definition of a
conservative has moved. He is a self-described moderate and was appointed
of course by Republican President Gerald Ford, who wrote in 2005 that he`d
be proud to stake his presidency`s contribution to history on Stevens`
jurisprudence. Quote, "I`m prepared to allow history`s judgment of my term
in office to rest if necessary exclusively on my nomination 30 years ago of
Justice John Paul Stevens to the U.S. Supreme Court." That`s high praise.

Joining us now, Dahlia Lithwick, who covers courts and the law for "Slate",
and E.J. Dionne, columnist for "The Washington Post" and MSNBC analyst.

Welcome to you both.

Dahlia, you`ve written about this. You came down against the arguments
that Ruth Bader Ginsburg needs to be told or cajoled as to when she should
depart the court.

But one of the more interesting points you made in that piece that`s
relevant today as people debate these issues is that liberals on this court
are not exactly fungible.

DAHLIA LITHWICK, SLATE: Right. No. It is clear -- it is clear to me that
Justice Stevens nailed it when she said she doesn`t need our advice. And
it`s also clear to me that Justice Stevens has the luxury of saying a lot
of things when he`s a retired justice that Ruth Bader Ginsburg cannot say
when she is sitting and being asked as a sitting justice, are you making a
political calculation when you decide to retire or not to retire.

Of course, her answer is going to be "I`m not making a political
calculation." Were she to say anything else, people would call for her
head. Clearly, she is thinking about this. She is the most savvy and I
would say politically and ideologically savvy justice there is on the court
on the left.

So, to think that this hasn`t occurred to her or she`s not lying awake
thinking about this seems to me very, very silly.

MELBER: Yes. I mean, I think that makes sense. Obviously, people care a
great deal about this because of the import of the decisions. And again,
for folks who don`t track the court super carefully, if she were -- if she
or Breyer were replaced with a conservative, it would have a tremendous tip
in the balance.

E.J., you spoke about John Paul Stevens when he retired. I want to read
from some of that. You said, "Justice John Paul Stevens` retirement is an
enormous loss for the country and particularly for progressives who value
his brave and straightforward defense of civil liberties, equal rights and
equal justice over many years. Whoever President Obama names to the court
will be no more liberal than Stevens and might possibly be slightly less

It really does speak to the shift of the court that it was a Republican who
emerged as such a liberal in the context of the court.

E.J. DIONNE, THE WASHINGTON POST: Oh, no, that`s absolutely right. There
has been a shift in the court. And Justice Stevens has been brave on
decision after decision. I think there are so many lines I`d love to read,
but I was always struck with what he wrote in Bush v. Gore when he said,
"Although we may never know with complete certainty the winner of the
presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is
the nation`s confidence in the judge as an impartial arbiter of the rule of

And Stevens saw when Bush v. Gore happened what this would do to people`s
trust the judiciary is free of politics. And I think since Bush v. Gore,
you`ve seen both a polarization and a series of decisions on voting rights
and especially on campaign money that seem -- in my view they`re wrong, and
Justice Stevens thinks that, too.

But they also seem terribly partisan because the identity of the
beneficiary of those decisions is pretty clear. So, he has been -- it`s
been a great loss since he`s left, although his replacements have been
pretty good.

MELBER: Yes. And I think the president`s obviously picked two qualified
women for the court that people have been excited about.

Dahlia, when you look at this interview, and E.J. mentions the rulings on
Monday, campaign finance that were so clearly breaking with what the court
has done recently -- obviously John Paul Stevens spending time looking at
these decisions and making up his mind to this day, and then you look at
what he said on the Second Amendment front, a divisive issue here, but he
basically said, we need to amend the Constitution just to reclarify what
everyone already knows, which is that gun rights were about militias, not
people walking around with the right to bear any kind of weapon anywhere
they go.

LITHWICK: Yes. He was very, very clear about that, Ari. He sort of wants
to reinsert the militia clause that is understood or certainly was
understood until the Heller case.

MELBER: Yes, forever.

LITHWICK: And just was really very clear in saying look, folks are afraid
the federal government would disarm state militias, that was the animating
fear, and that`s the fear that was written into the Constitution. So,
let`s put it back and let`s be clear that that doesn`t give the guy at the
Kroger`s the right to carry an AK-47 because of the Second Amendment.

So, I think he was very, very much trying to restore what was the
understood public meaning of the Second Amendment until very, very
recently, until this kind of activist reading from the Roberts court.

MELBER: And on Justice Ginsburg, Dahlia, you also write that she has
become, if anything, more strong and crisp in her sort of later years.
What did you mean by that?

LITHWICK: Well, I just think if you look at her voice, at what`s emerged
in the Lilly Ledbetter case, in the Wal-Mart case, in the Voting Rights Act
case from last year, I think she`s at the top of her game when it comes to
being what Stevens was, which was this clarion voice of progressive vision
and progressive aspiration at the court.

And to suggest that you can just replace her with the next guy, knowing as
we know that Sonya Sotomayor and Elena Kagan almost didn`t get confirmed,
the idea we`re going to find another ACLU lawyer to replace her I think is
pretty fatuous.

MELBER: Yes, you think about her work on gender equality and all those
cases and all the positions she took, and you think about what it takes to
get confirmed today and it really is an open question.

Dahlia Lithwick and E.J. Dionne -- thank you both for joining us tonight.

DIONNE: Good to be with you.


MELBER: All right. Coming up, I`ll talk with the South Carolina police
chief who was just fired after 20 years of service. She believes it is
because she is a lesbian. You`re going to hear a tape that might help her
case. That`s straight ahead.


MELBER: In the spotlight tonight, legal discrimination. In the year 2014,
here in the U.S., it is still legal in 29 states that you see right here on
the map to fire someone because of their sexual orientation. There`s no
federal law forbidding it either.

ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, has been introduced in every
Congress since 1994 except one, but it`s never passed both chambers. And
among those 29 states where it is legal to fire someone for being gay is
South Carolina. And in the town of Latta, South Carolina, the town`s
former police chief, Crystal Moore, says she was fired because she`s gay.
The town`s mayor Earl Bullard fired the chief last week after giving her
seven reprimands that same day.

Moore has never before been disciplined in 20 years on the force. She says
people in the community warned her that Mayor Bullard was actually out to
get her because of her sexuality. And now an audiotape of the comments
which are allegedly made by the mayor is backing up that side of the story.

MSNBC has obtained the tape from one of the town`s council members, Jared
Taylor. Taylor says this is a phone conversation that he had with Mayor


MAYOR EARL BULLARD, LATTA, SOUTH CAROLINA: I`d much rather have -- and
I`ll -- I`ll say this to anybody`s face. I would much rather have somebody
who drank and drank too much taking care of my child than I had somebody
whose lifestyle is questionable around children because that ain`t the damn
way it`s supposed to be. You`ve got people out there that -- and I`m
telling you, buddy. I don`t agree with some of the lifestyles that I see
portrayed, and I don`t say anything because that`s the way they want to

But I`m not going to let my child be around it. I`m not going to let two
women stand up there and hold hands and let my child be aware of it. And
I`m not going to see them do it with two men neither. I`m not going to let
them, because that ain`t the way the world works.

Now, all these people cowering down and saying that oh it`s a different
lifestyle they can have it, OK, fine and dandy, but I don`t have to look at
it. And I don`t want my child around it.


ARI MELBER, MSNBC ANCHOR: In a phone conversation with MSNBC yesterday
Mayor Bullard would neither confirm nor deny that that voice you just heard
on the tape was his own. He did say this. Quote "I can assure you the
firing of Chief Crystal Moore has nothing to do with her sexual
orientation," end quote. Further calls to the mayor`s office today about
the story went unanswered. We left messages also inviting him to come on
the show and explain his side of the story.

We did reach Latta town attorney Glenn Green and invited him on the show.
He declined and wouldn`t offer a statement either.

Now joining us now is Latta, South Carolina`s former chief of police,
Crystal Moore.

Welcome to you. And tell us about the situation as it stands today and
also about the history here. You had confronted the mayor about your
sexuality at a town council meeting previously.


Yes, sir, there were several different rumors right before he became mayor.
He`s only been mayor four months. And there were different rumors that
were out in the community and the citizens that came and told me I needed
to watch my back, different council members were also told the same thing,
and I didn`t -- I kept on doing my job. That was the thing with me. I
didn`t let it hinder me. I continued to do the job that I`d been doing for
Latta in the past years.

I felt like, you know, I`ve been doing my job, hadn`t had any problems, and
that`s all I was there to do. My personal life had nothing to do with it
and that was it.

MELBER: When you hear that audio recording, what is your reaction to that?

MOORE: It`s crushing to know that he -- with all the rumors going around
and then for him to make those comments. It`s just -- it crushes me
because it has nothing -- my personal life has nothing to do with the job
that the town hired me to do. The job that I was doing for our citizens,
protecting and serving our town.

MELBER: And from the mayor`s perspective he said, well, he was
reprimanding you and this is not about your orientation. We quoted him on
that point. Can you speak to what you were reprimanded for and that side
of the story?

MOORE: I was called into his office, had no idea. I was working. We had
just had our town festival on the weekend. Monday was a normal day at
work. On Tuesday we were continuing normal activity. I was summoned into
the mayor`s office with the town attorney there. And out of the blue I
received seven reprimands at one time. I at that time said I want to
contact my attorney to talk to her about him, and he said are you going to
sign these reprimands? And I said again I would like to go contact my
attorney. He said are you going to sign these reprimands? And he stood
up. And I said no, sir, I`m going to talk with my attorney. And at that
time he said, your services are no longer need. Turn in your badge, gun,
and your keys.

MELBER: And Ms. Moore, when you look at a case like this, it`s striking in
part because the audio exists, quite frankly. There`s more evidence here
than there are sometimes in other workplace disputes. And we`ve had a
debate around the country, as I mentioned here in introducing you, about
whether we need federal protections because it is legal in so many places
to fire someone for their orientation or their -- you know, what an
employer may believe their orientation is. What do you see to folks who
think we don`t need those protections because that kind of activity is so
rare it doesn`t happen in America?

MOORE: I feel that we all deserve equal rights, regardless of where we
work, what our jobs are. We need equal rights. We need to be treated
fairly. And that`s it. The only thing I`ve done was my job. And I`m
ready to get back and serve my town.

MELBER: All right. Well, Crystal Moore, we appreciate you spending some
time sharing your views with us. It`s a story that I think a lot of people
are interested in around the country, and we`ll keep an eye on former
police chief for Latta, South Carolina.

Thanks for joining us tonight.

MOORE: Thank you. And I would like to thank all the citizens and not just
my citizens in town for showing that they`re behind me but for all the
people around our nation. I mean, it`s overwhelming, all the support that
I`ve gotten from everywhere. And especially our citizens from the town of

MELBER: Absolutely. I appreciate you adding that and being able to share.
Again, thank you for your time.

And coming up, what they are calling Chris Christie now in New Jersey.

But first, as I mentioned before, a new investigation uncovers serious
problems in overseeing the treatment of children by the state of Florida.
"Miami Herald" reveals how the state government may have failed more than
400 children in the past six years. That`s next.


MELBER: Airport officials in Maui were shocked to find a dazed 15-year-old
walking on the tarmac Sunday, and they were even more shocked to learn he`d
stowed himself away in the wheel well of a Hawaiian airlines jet from San
Jose. So that means the boy survived without oxygen at 38,000 feet. He
told the FBI he was running away from home.

NBC`s Christie Smith has more.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To think he could get in the wheel well of an airplane.

Jose like many travelers, wondering how a 16-year-old stowed away to

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He got through. That`s really kind of strange. And he
survived, which is amazing.

SMITH: In a wheel well of a Hawaiian airlines flight Sunday five hours
across the pacific. A photo shows the teen on a gurney being taken to a
hospital to be checked out. The FBI says he may have become unconscious in
the air, then was spotted later walking on the tarmac.

have scaled one of our fence -- a section of our fence line under cover of


MELBER: Coming up next, the "Miami Herald" investigation into the Florida
department of children and families and the deaths of 477 children.


MELBER: Last month the "Miami herald" released the findings from a year-
long investigation into Florida`s department of children and families which
found that since 2008 at least 477 children whose families had previously
been reported to the department had died specifically of abuse or neglect.
You can see the names and the photos of some of these children on the
bottom right-hand corner of your screen. Two of the children were
fraternal twins. Davonte` and Tariji Gordon (ph). And when Davonte` (ph)
was two months old he suffocated and died while sleeping on the couch with
his mother. She later tested positive for cocaine. DSF took his sister,
Tariji, away from their mother but then returned her after the mother told
officials she was no longer using drugs. Three months later Tariji was
dead, apparently killed by a blow to the head. Her body was found stuffed
into a pink suitcase about 50 miles from her home.

Of the 477 children who died, the majority, two-thirds, came from families
where a parent had substance abuse problems, and nearly 85 percent of the
victims were children five and younger. Torey Vinson Diamond was 1-year-


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Torey Diamond was killed by his mother`s paramour
Clifton Frazier, a criminal with a lengthy rap sheet. He beat the toddler
to death while in his care. Torey`s grandmother, Loretta young, had
pleaded with case workers for custody of her grandchild, documenting what
she believed was her daughter Rosalia Pourier`s dangerous lifestyle to

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They would be high and I would run in and pick Torey
up off the floor and come out, call children`s family services, call Davey
police department, this is what`s going on. Help me. Help me protect my

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But young had no legal action she could take when her
daughter fled if her Davey home to move in with Frazier in Orlando. In
less than two weeks after a series of agency missteps, Torey was dead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His skull was crushed. He had blood stains. He had
been brutally beat to death. There`s no way of getting around it. They
should have took him away. They should have protected him and they didn`t.
They failed my grandson.


MELBER: Joining us now is one of the "Miami Herald" reporters behind in
innocence lost investigative series, Carol Marbin and James Harn, former
commander at the Miami county sheriff`s department in Florida who
supervised child abuse investigations.

Welcome to you both.

having us.

MELBER: Absolutely. Carol, I want to start with you. This is some very
important investigative work, very difficult. The team here at "the last
word" has been looking over your work and wanting to help spotlight what
you`ve already been reporting. If there is any kind of hope that comes out
of these kind of stories, of course, it`s the hope of improvement and
change. We`re seeing I would say a little nod towards that. Governor rick
Scott of Florida facing more pressure on this and has talked about giving
the DCF another $40 million. But that would only be something in the
neighborhood of a one percent change.

Walk us through what you think the important conclusions are out of this
report and what you make of any efforts to start changing some of these

CAROL MARBIN, What we found was that Florida implemented a very far-
reaching, very rigorous family preservation effort going back about ten
years but they did it in a very dangerous way.

Florida moved to keep children in their homes with their parents as much as
possible, which is good, sound public policy. But Florida did it
essentially on the cheap, as someone said from the Florida Senate. What we
did was we left children in homes with drug addicts, with parents who had
issues with violence, with mothers who repeatedly went back to boyfriends
who were abusive, and we did that without ensuring that services were
brought to bear in the homes where we were leaving those children.

And as a consequence, their conditions became more and more dire, and many
of them died. Among our findings, the overwhelming majority of the kids
who perished were very young. They were five and younger. About two-
thirds of them, or three-quarters, were infants and toddlers who did not
have the capacity to speak out or defend themselves. Two-thirds of our
sample involved children from families with either substance abuse or
mental health history. And we lack the services right now to intervene

Governor Rick Scott`s investment would cover about 400 new child protective
investigators, the folks that you send out to look into the welfare of
these kids, what governor Scott calls boots on the ground.

But what they`re not talking about right now are committing resources to
hire more case workers for the kids who you provide services and
supervision for, and we`re not talking about any real new money for such
things as drug treatment, mental health care, services for women who have
been abused by their spouses --

MELBER: Right. Well, let me --

MARBIN: -- anger management --

MELBER: Yes, let me jump in there. I mean, what you`re speaking, is to
whether there`s a holistic sort of policy to deal with the different
intersection of the social problems.

James, I want to pull you in. Let me play for you some of the sound of one
of the child protective investigators from the documentary.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every parent thinks that they know what their child
needs. And essentially, we`re going in and telling them that maybe you
need to do something different. You know. And the position of authority
that we`re in, we have to be very sensitive to how the parent is going to
feel because every parent feels like that`s their child. Their child is
almost look their property. You know, they don`t want anyone to tell them

I think about that all the time. I wonder if it -- did we make the right
decision, is there anything else we can do. As I tell the new people, you
can`t get it out of your head because you`re always thinking about that
child and did you make the right decision for that child.


MELBER: James, speak to that challenge.

HARN: Yes. Both those investigators are telling exactly what they feel.
But it`s not every parent that knows what`s best for their child. That`s
the unfortunate part. That`s the part that you ask the protective
investigators to come in and take care of. The complexities in this -- in
this world of protective -- or child abuse investigations so enormous that
what they`re telling you is just kind of on the tip of the iceberg.
They`re saying to you that they don`t want to go in and disrupt the family.
They want to go in and help the family. And sometimes helping the family
means removing the child from their care because the child essentially is
the most important thing that they`re investigating. They`re investigating
the safety of that child and how to keep that child safe. It may take as
little as some instruction by the protective investigator to as much as
court-authorized removal of the child.

MELBER: And Carol, there was a town hall recently where one of the child
protective type service spokesperson said when look at this investigation,
well, they weren`t shocked by what you found. A lot of people around the
country are shocked.

MARBIN: Well, what I found curious is that the assistant secretary of the
department of children and families said that no, there was nothing in our
findings that shocked him. And I think that`s correct. And that`s one of
the things that concerns me, is that we read hundreds and hundreds of death
reviews on these kids and the findings were similar over many years.

One of the issues that troubled us was that Florida had been for years
executing these things called safety plans. In other states a safety plan
comes with some type of oversight, some type of supervision where you are
ensuring that the family complies with the things that they promise to do.
In Florida a safety plan was essentially a promissory note in which a
parent made a pledge to stop being a drug addict or to move away from the
boyfriend who abused her and the child and these plans were wholly and
completely unenforceable.

There was no one going into the home to ensure that the parent was
complying. There were no services brought to bear.

MELBER: Right. Sorry. You were saying?

MARBIN: This was a common problem. Mistakes that were made back in 2008
were being made five, six years later. In 2008 we had a case that was
very, very disturbing in which a newborn child by the name of Kyla Joy Hall
sustained a skull fracture. Authorities did not know which of her parents
had inflicted the injury. And at that point the mother bowed out of the
picture. She voluntarily relinquished her rights to the child. The
father, who is a Jacksonville firefighter, was then presumed, and I don`t
know why, but presumed to be the non-offending parent. So they simply gave
the baby back to him.

MELBER: Right.

MARBIN: And in due course he beat her again in a hideously terrible way,
and Kyla Joy Hall died of those injuries.

MELBER: Right. And Carol --

MARBIN: Five years later the same thing happened again with another child.

MELBER: Right. And having read your reports, that is what comes through,
is the fact that in many, many cases seemingly obvious steps weren`t taken.
What`s so disturbing about it.

Carol Marbin of the "Miami Herald" and James Harn from the Brown county
sheriff`s department. Thank you both for joining us.

Now, in that segment you saw photos of only about 90 of those 477 children
who were lost. We`re going to go ahead and post the rest of the children`s
names and photos on the "Last Word" site this week.

And we will be right back.


MELBER: And Chris Christie is officially, officially father of the year.
And that`s no joke. And that`s next.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jersey Shore is open.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The word is spreading.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because we`re stronger than the storm.



MELBER: MSNBC has learned that Governor Chris Christie will receive a
father of the year award from the national father`s day council. That`s a
non-profit that fund-raisers for charitable causes. Unfortunately for
Christie in an interview tonight with New Jersey talk radio, that it was
not only focused on his fatherhood credentials. He was also asked about
potentially testifying before the special investigative committee, and he
was given the opportunity to address whether or not the U.S. attorney has
subpoenaed him yet.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chairman Wisniewski didn`t rule out calling you to
testify. Would you consider doing it?

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: I`m not going to talk about that.
I`m not going to talk about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What if the U.S. attorney wanted to talk to you?

CHRISTIE: We are fully cooperating with the U.S. attorney`s office.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you personally been subpoenaed by the U.S.

CHRISTIE: No. Absolutely not.


MELBER: Joining me now is Hunter Walker, who`s been covering the George
Washington bridge investigation for business insider. Welcome.


MELBER: Let`s start with the fatherhood. This is a big award. Everyone
loves to get a fatherhood award.

WALKER: Well, what we have here is sort of the paradox of the Chris
Christie brand because he does love talking about his kids. You know, when
he talked about endorsing Mitt Romney, he said it`s because Mitt Romney
passed the child test and was nice to his family. And there we have the
paradox of Chris Christie. There`s this guy who`s known for sort of
shouting at people on You Tube, and he`s also known as a huggable, lovable

MELBER: Yes. He didn`t look as lovable there in what we just showed. Him
basically trying to brush off some of these questions. Has that continued
to work and how significant is it that he can publicly confirm that this
U.S. attorney who as we`ve been reporting is reaching out to a lot of
people, has not subpoenaed him?

WALKER: Right. Well, you know, he`s talking about sort of two different
investigations there. There`s the legislature. And we`ve seen John
Wisniewski, who`s the chair, say he might call Christie to testify. And in
fact, he`s only inclined to do that under oath. And Christie has also said
that he`s cooperating with the U.S. attorney`s investigation throughout.
So what we see is that you know, there`s a very, very real possibility he
could be on the stand sometime soon.

MELBER: There`s also a political undertow here. He has spent public state
money to defend the governor, which he can do, and that`s not necessarily
unusual. And then his campaign, we learned today, has now clocked in a
couple hundred thou thousand-dollar bill just in responding to campaign

As a political item how much does it matter they`re having to spend this
kind of money?

WALKER: So far what we`ve seen with Christie`s fund-raising efforts in the
RGA is that he`s had no trouble bringing in money. So right now he`s
$300,000 in the hole. But theoretically he could make that up unless
things get worse.

MELBER: And do you think that he`s able to -- if this is the continued
sort of slow burn, which is people going potentially before the grand jury
but no other big moves, is he able to start to make the case to Republicans
that this has kind of passed?

WALKER: He`s tried to use this scandal to turn to Republicans and say I`m
under siege by the liberal media. But the poll numbers show that his
standing has definitely taken a hit. Particularly among independents.
That would have really, really been key to him in a potential presidential

MELBER: OK. Well, I want to wish you a happy father`s day. Hunter Walker
of talking points -- of business -- wait. Business insider.

WALKER: Business Insider.

MELBER: And that`s a change. Welcome to business insider. You get
tonight`s last word.

I am Ari Melber in for Lawrence O`Donnell.

And "All In with Chris Hayes" is up next.


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