The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 01/13/15
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST: Good evening, Rachel.
John Boehner is reconsidering this whole Republican congressman use of
Twitter thing, don`t you think?
RACHEL MADDOW, “TRMS” HOST: Executive order from the speaker coming up
stat. Thanks, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Thanks, Rachel.
Well, in just a few hours, a new edition of “Charlie Hebdo” will hit
newsstands in Paris.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Victims of last week`s attacks are laid to rest.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A day of mourning and defiance as the first
victims are laid to rest in funerals in Jerusalem and Paris.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The French national assembly met today for the
first time since those attacks.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They broke out into a spontaneous rendition of
the French national anthem.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There`s obviously a lot of security here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ten thousand additional French troops fan out
across the country.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ten thousand military troops will be deployed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To guard national monument, Jewish schools and
other sensitive targets.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Paris trying to recover, yet the investigation
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: French authorities say they are looking for
possible accomplices in the wake of last week`s terror attacks.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Accomplices still within Paris.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The day of grief was also one of resolve.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The surviving staff of “Charlie Hebdo” is
preparing to release a special edition tomorrow.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three million copies will be released tomorrow.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With the cover depicting the Prophet Muhammad
holding a sign that says, “Je suis, Charlie”.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Editors said they`re not worried about the cover
because people are intelligent.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): More than anything, we tried
to put the drawings of those who are no longer here in the newspaper.
Everyone is in this thing.
O`DONNELL: In just a couple of hours, the new edition of “Charlie
Hebdo” will hit news stands in France. Just one week after eight members
of its staff were shot and killed in a terrorist attack, 3 million copies
of “Charlie Hebdo” will be printed.
New video shows Cherif and Said Kouachi in a shootout with police
shortly after their attack on “Charlie Hebdo.”
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Just as the new magazine comes out, al Qaeda in North
Africa vows more violence against France in a statement today.
In Israel, funerals were held today for the four hostages killed at
the kosher grocery store in Paris last week.
In France, a funeral was held today for Ahmed Merabet, the Muslim
police officer who was executed by the Kouachi brothers in the street in
And in Peshawar, Pakistan, 40 people attended a funeral celebration
for the Kouachi brothers. The cleric who led that funeral called the
terrorists, quote, “Heroes of Islam.”
In the French parliament, the names of each of the 17 victims were
read and then the members of the government stood for a moment of silence.
And then here is what happened after that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: Joining me now from Maajid Nawaz, the co-founder and
chairman of Quilliam, a counter-extremism think tank. Maajid is a former
member of an Islamist revolutionary group.
Also, joining us, Laura Haim, White House correspondent for Canal
Laura, a lot of emotional imagery coming out of France today. The
news conference with “Charlie Hebdo`s” staff, there was crying, there was -
- very careful descriptions of how they put this copy together. Then, we
saw the French parliament today in their emotional assembly.
Tell us what the reaction is going to be in France today, what is now
today in France on Wednesday, to this new edition of “Charlie Hebdo” coming
LAURA HAIM, CANAL PLUS: It was a day of cheers and everybody wants
now to have “Charlie Hebdo.” Already some people, they went to some
bookstores where “Charlie Hebdo” is usually not sold and they decided to
buy it for the kids, for the families, for their brothers, for their
It`s something to have. It`s not only a newspaper, it`s something to
keep, it`s something to remember. It`s a piece of history.
O`DONNELL: Maajid Nawaz, what do you think will be the reaction of –
not the extremists, who are obviously opposed to that, nay kind of things
like this, but to this new cover of “Charlie Hebdo” where they show
Muhammad crying actually.
Is there something different in this one for Muslims who don`t take
such strong offense to depictions of Muhammad?
MAAJID NAWAZ, CO-FOUNDER, QUILLIAM: Thank you, Lawrence.
Yet, let me start by saying anyone who says to you that Muslims take
offense at this or Muslims take offense at that, what they really mean is
that they, as individuals, take offense, because actually, Muslims are not
a homogenous group. So, it`s absurd for anyone individual to claim on
behalf of 1.5 billion, 1.6 billion people across the world, which is how
many Muslims there are.
So, that`s the first part. We have to recognize people don`t speak on
behalf of Muslims when they claim offense in this way.
Unfortunately, there will be some Muslims, not just from extremist
groups, who take offense at this new image. My message to them would be,
is they have to really try to understand not just freedom of speech, which
is something I wish they would try to understand, but also satire and
irony. And it seems to be lost on many people.
“Charlie Hebdo” has been a magazine that has a long history of, in
fact, satirizing xenophobic and far right groups in France, as well as
every single religion, including my own religion Islam.
The reason that satire usually happens is in most cases to address a
very real and dangerous political value that is popular among us. In the
case of “Charlie Hebdo,” they addressed racism, using – lampooning far
right racist imagery and satirizing far right groups in order to address
racism. They did the same with Catholicism. They did the same with – in
fact, they did the same with Israel and they did wit the Prophet Muhammad.
So, my plea to those Muslims that do take offense is to consider this.
That this was, in fact, an intelligent attempt to address the very
prejudices that Muslims often complain about and to understand here they
have some allies who were trying to speak on their behalf. Unfortunately,
for religious fundamentalists, often, satire and irony is lost on them.
O`DONNELL: Laura, in the French national assembly today, there was a
vote to continue airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq. That vote was 488-1.
What would that vote have been if it were taken two weeks ago?
HAIM: Ha! It`s a very good question. It would not have been there.
You would have had a lot of French deputies talking about what we should do
in Iraq against ISIS, is it good to do a strike, blah, blah, blah. And it
Today, France is still united. And the challenge in the days ahead is
going to watch if this country stays united on many issues, because this
story unfortunately is not over. There are a lot of threats. People are
extremely worried. People don`t know what`s going to happen. It was very
emotional today as you pointed out. And again, the story is far from over
and now the country wants to be united, hand by hand, shoulder by shoulder,
to fight what might come next.
O`DONNELL: Maajid, I`m struck by two numbers in our news. One is
approximately 3.7 million people marching over the weekend in Paris, in
solidarity against what happened at “Charlie Hebdo.”
And then in Pakistan, at this so-called funeral for the killers, about
40 people – and what`s so interesting about that number 40, is that they
were working hard and actually delaying the event a little bit to try to
get more people to show up to give praise to these killers. And this is in
a real Taliban stronghold where they were doing this, and that`s all they
got is. There some encouragement to be taken by that number, 40?
NAWAZ: You know, I`m of Pakistani origin, Lawrence, and I`m delighted
the number was so small. It`s very encouraging.
Let`s not forget that, in fact, while we`ve been concerned with this
massacre in Paris at the “Charlie Hebdo” offices and at the kosher Jewish
shop, there were 2,000, approximately 2,000 innocent civilians killed by
Boko Haram in Nigeria, in that country`s largest ever massacre in its
And before “Charlie Hebdo,” of course, there were the 140 children
slaughtered by Taliban extremists in Pakistan, in that very region this so-
called funeral took place.
So, Muslims are by and large facing the brunt of the rise of jihadist
extremism along with the rest of the world. So, what this really indicates
in Pakistan, in a country with over I think 240 million, the size of the
population of Pakistan, only 40 people turned up.
As you rightly said, Lawrence, in an area that`s known to be a
stronghold for extremists, an area where they don`t fear shooting at the
army and they don`t fear slaughtering children, yet only 40 people turned
out. It`s indicating that more and more Muslims are becoming totally fed
up with those who claim to speak on their behalf and kill and maim and
murder others in the name of their religion, because they see the first
victims, in fact, of jihadist extremism, as ISIL had demonstrated so well,
are the people they come to control, the ones who they had dominion of, who
happened to be in most cases, Muslims.
O`DONNELL: Laura Haim, you`ve alerted us already on this program this
week that one of the next steps that the French government will be taking,
and the next votes we`ll be seeing at some point is on something that they
are calling their Patriot Act. What is the progress on that?
HAIM: Well, at the moment, people are still talking about it. Is it
going to be against freedom, which is such a strong idea in France? People
are worried. But again, really united and everybody in France wants to try
to do something which is good.
Nobody knows how to fight extremism at this moment. It`s a global
fight. Again, people, as I pointed out, are extremely worried.
What I would like to tell you is there was an amazing moment today in
the French parliament. Since 1918, nobody seemed United. That happened.
You saw it.
And there was also the prime minister, Manuel Valls, was talking about
what he wants to do to fight not only extremists, but racism and anti-
Semitism in France. It was an extraordinary new moment, because it was
applauded by all factions. And I think that`s the story, which is going to
be important in the days ahead.
O`DONNELL: Maajid Nawaz, you have two very important personal stories
to tell. It`s each side of the coin. One is how you became radicalized
and then how you turned away from that, and all people strategizing on how
to go forward here are trying to figure out the second half of that. That
is how do we get people to turn away from radicalization? Because there`s
already – and I`ll live by your estimate of what this is, there are
already thousands and thousands of radicalized warriors out there in the
Islamic State and beyond who are prepared to kill. How many people do we
have to turn around?
NAWAZ: Yes. Unfortunately, I won`t go into details on how I got out
of the revolutionary group. The details of that are documented in my
autobiography called “Radical”.
But what I would like to focus on is what`s more efficient for all of
us together, Muslim and non-Muslim, the international community to stand
together to do is to work on the preventative side.
We`re dealing with the rise of an ideology that`s reached insurgency
levels. It`s become a brand of resistance, a very attractive of
resistance, and it`s unfortunately a terrorist brand, but nevertheless it`s
And so, what we need to start looking at is how to debunk this brand,
how to make it as unattractive, as unappealing as Soviet communism as a
brand for young people has become today. That`s going to require a lot of
counter-messaging. It`s gong to require what we call counter-narratives
against the Islamist extremist narrative. It`s going to require debunking
the conspiracy theories that they peddle in the grassroots of Muslim
It`s also going to require really addressing some of the leaders of
these organizations and undermining their authority that they have. It`s a
long-term strategy that`s going to require civil society resistance. For
that to happen, we all need to get together as civil society and
governments and start working out, especially in the European Union
context, a joint strategy across the continent to start building these
civil society resilience.
And, unfortunately, I`ve got to say this as a Muslim, the Muslim voice
in this, which is perhaps the most important, is currently woefully
inadequate. There are many reasons for that. Muslims as minorities in the
West feel somewhat under the spotlight. But just as we appreciate
solidarity that was shown by mainstream society, likewise in such cases as
this, we have to show – we must show solidarity to mainstream society. We
must reciprocate and stand shoulder to shoulder. Not just in condemnation,
because, frankly, Lawrence, it`s very easy to condemn, but to challenge the
ideas that lie in the base of this ideology.
O`DONNELL: Maajid Nawaz, thank you both very much for joining us from
And, Laura Haim, thank you for joining us once again on this program.
Coming up, Mitt Romney doesn`t believe in two strikes, you`re out.
It`s going to take three strikes to get Mitt Romney out of the presidential
And, how many people do police kill in a year? We have no idea. This
country that has statistics on every single thing that we do does not count
the bodies. There is one congressman who is finally trying to do something
about that. He will join me later.
And, religious extremism. Ultra-orthodox Puritanism is not just a
problem in Islam. That`s coming up.
O`DONNELL: “Wall Street Journal” is reporting tonight that when White
House adviser John Podesta leaves the Obama administration in February, he
will take a senior role in the Hillary Clinton`s presidential campaign,
which, of course, is not called a presidential campaign. It`s called one
of those things that not yet officially a presidential campaign.
John Podesta was chief of staff in President Bill Clinton`s second
Up next, speaking of spectacular names in presidential campaigns, Mitt
Romney believes the way to beat Hillary Clinton in her second presidential
campaign is a third Mitt Romney presidential campaign.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MITT ROMNEY (R), FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR: I`m in this race
because I care about Americans. I`m not concerned about the very poor. We
have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I`ll fix it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: When Mitt Romney told campaign donors last week that he`s
thinking of running for president and that he indeed still wants to be
president, he told them that his third campaign for president would focus
on – helping poor people, proving that he corrupt hi thinks he`s going to
have to do something different if he wants to get a different result this
Mitt Romney will attend the Republican National Committee`s meeting in
San Diego on Friday and will create more sound bites about running for
The only person to show more commitment to a Romney presidency than
Mitt Romney is Eric Hartsburg, who tattooed the Romney 2012 campaign symbol
on his face.
But Mr. Hartsburg told “BuzzFeed” today that he will not support a
third Romney run saying, quote, “He`s going to say something later on to
mess it up. It`s going to look real good and then bam, something else. He
screws it up.”
Mr. Hartsburg has so far had two treatments for removing the Romney
tattoo. But he`s apparently going to need many more.
Joining me now is David Corn, Washington bureau chief for “Mother
Jones”, and an MSNBC political analyst. David first broke the story about
the now famous 47 percent remarks that Mitt Romney made during that
Also joining me is Kasie Hunt, political correspondent for MSNBC. She
covered Mitt Romney`s 2012 campaign.
Kasie, so, what does Mitt Romney have to say this weekend when he goes
out there to add more fuel to this thing? He can`t just say that I`m
thinking about it or yes, I want to be. Is it time for him to announce a
PAC or something like Jeb Bush has already done?
KASIE HUNT, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: I don`t know that they`re that
far along yet, Lawrence, but he`s going to have to explain why it is that
this time would be different. I think that`s already the question that`s
bubbling up as we started to talk about this.
And you haven`t exactly seen a landslide of support for Mitt Romney.
It`s not as though people are out there saying, if Mitt Romney does this,
I`m 100 percent going to be on board. If anything, it`s the opposite. I
was up on Capitol Hill today talking to some of his longest time
supporters, Senator Kelly Ayotte being one of them, not really to jump on
there yet. Even Paul Ryan, in an interview with NBC News, wouldn`t commit,
although his staff say it`s because he`s in charge of a fund at the RNC
that prohibits him from jumping in.
But I think he – you know, the questions are going to be there at
this meeting, and I think there is going to be a lot of skepticism and I
would be on the lookout for some pretty tough blind quotes.
O`DONNELL: David Corn, this is shaping up to be a lot of fun. Is
there anything that we can do to encourage them all to get in there?
Mitt Romney, we do need Chris Christie in there, because there`s just
a series of spectacular campaign collapses ahead.
DAVID CORN, MOTHER JONES: Well, it seems like there`s still a lot of
room left on the Romney bandwagon. Those spaces are not filling up, so
people – there`s a lot of room to jump on.
I don`t know, Lawrence, Perhaps we can page a promise not to release
any derogatory information or tapes until later in the year so everyone
gets their shot at jumping in themselves. What you have, particularly
people are relishing, those of us in the political media world, not voters
out there, I don`t think they care yet, is this showdown between Jeb Bush
and Mitt Romney. It`s like dynasty versus dynasty. You can just imagine
all the awkward conversations in country clubs and corporate boardrooms
across this great land of ours. How to decide which establishment center
pragmatic candidate, who is willing to flip-flop on principles to get
I mean, it`s a very difficult choice. My heart goes out to Republican
establishment figures and donors who have to make this very, very hard
O`DONNELL: Kasie Hunt, on the donors, with Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney
in there, is there any room for Chris Christie? Is he going to the same
donors who will be pledged to one or two of those candidates?
HUNT: Christie`s camp is convinced they are, but they`re pooling from
the same pool of people. That`s I think David is hitting on this. That`s
why Chris Christie is starting to look like he`s a little behind the ball
from Mitt Romney and from Jeb Bush. I think you saw Jeb`s early moves
start to goad if anything Mitt Romney into moving more quickly.
It seems as though Christie`s team isn`t prepared to do that. They`re
sort of taking it the way they said they plan to. He`s going to wait until
the governors he worked to elect are sworn in before he makes any official
moves. But if this continues to evolve, I think the question is going to
be, do Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush duke it out over here and create a lane for
Chris Christie or do they crowd him out?
O`DONNELL: I really need Chris Christie to get in. Because my
prediction is he`s the first one to flame out. He`s going to do worse than
Rudy Giuliani if he gets on this thing. So, we can never prove that if he
doesn`t get in.
CORN: That`s true, but we may not get the chance because he may not
be able to get in until he gets the green light from a federal investigator
who is still looking at not just the bridge-gate and pay-to-play issues in
But you see Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney`s statements causing some
edginess among potential candidates.
Tonight, Rand Paul is out with an interview in “Politico” basically
saying, look at me, look at me, remember me? I`m still here. I`m still
So, I think everyone is kind of speeding up. But the absurd thing
here, and we`re all participating in this, it`s all about the donors. You
know, the donors, the pre-primary primary for rich people, who they`re
getting, who is lining up with them.
We`ve seen lots of instances in the past where candidates who are
preferable to donors flame out, as you say, early on. And there`s no
reason to believe that Mitt Romney, you know, third time around, or Jeb
Bush first time around, will appeal to the real energy in the Republican
Party, which are those Tea Party voters who are still out there looking for
someone to bash whoever the next Democratic nominee is going to be.
O`DONNELL: But Mitt Romney`s strongest point right now is that when
you include him in these polls, he`s usually at the top of those polls of
all the Republican candidates by a very significant margin, including Jeb
Bush. So, I am officially not counting Mitt Romney out here. I`m counting
out Chris Christie, OK? You can mark me down for that.
HUNT: You should ask Rudy Giuliani how that went for him.
O`DONNELL: Right. We`re going to have see how this one goes.
David Corn and Kasie Hunt, thank you very much for joining me tonight.
Coming up, police use of deadly force. It is now time to start
counting the bodies. Something we`ve never done.
And the latest on a bartender`s alleged plot. This is stunning and
weird and there`s an arrest tonight. An alleged plot to poison House
Speaker John Boehner.
O`DONNELL: In the “Spotlight” tonight, “Counting the Bodies.” Last
week, a coroner`s jury in Montana ruled that Billings Police Officer Grant
Morrison was justified when he shot and killed an unarmed man during a
traffic stop back in April.
The coroner`s jury decision serves as a recommendation to the district
attorney`s office, which then has final say on that case. Officer Morrison
said he thought the man was armed.
The shooting was caught on the officer`s dash cam and was shown to the
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OFFICER GRANT MORRISON, MONTANA POLICE: Hands up. All four of you,
hands up. What were you doing.
Why are you moving your hands around so much. You`re making me
nervous, man. Who are you.
RICHARD RAMIREZ, SHOT DEAD BY OFFICER MORRISON: Richard.
MORRISON: Richard? All of you, put your (bleep) hands up right now
on top of the seats.
RAMIREZ: Yes, officer. Richard Ramirez here. Can we step it up.
MORRISON: Hands up. Hands on the (bleep) – get your hands up or I`m
going to shoot you. I will shoot you.
Hands up. Hands up. I will shoot you again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: He did not shoot him again, but he has already killed him.
The jury was also shown a dash cam video of Officer Morrison breaking down
in tears after that shooting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORRISON: I thought he was going to pull a gun.
UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: Maybe he was. Maybe he was.
Jesus, Grant. You survived.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: That was the second time that Officer Morrison killed
someone. In 2013, he shot and killed a man who had a BB gun.
From stories like this and from the image we get on TV cop shows and
movies, we might not realize that most police officers in America serve
their entire careers without ever using their firearms in any way.
Most police officers never kill anyone. Most police officers never
shoot at anyone. Most police officers never shoot at anyone.
And most police officers are never shot at. They never see or hear
gunfire in the line of duty in their entire careers.
That is the norm. Now, I would like to tell you exactly how many
police officers do fire their guns in a typical year.
I`d like to tell you exactly how many people they kill, but I can`t.
Because we don`t count the bodies.
In 21st Century America, which keeps precise statistics on virtually
everything we do as a society and as individuals, we have no idea how many
people are killed by police. And we have never known.
It is one of the basic law enforcement facts we need in order to
evaluate how police use and abuse their power of deadly force. With the
limited statistical picture we have, all indications are, and have always
been, that most killings by police are justified.
But it is very clear that not all of them are. The power to kill is
the most awesome power that any government worker could possibly have.
We have given that power to police and then we have refused to monitor
Joining me now, the congressman who wants to know how police are using
their awesome power to use deadly force, Congressman Steve Cohen from
Thank you very much for joining us tonight, Congressman Cohen. And
thank you very much for this bill you`re introducing to try to get this
This is data that I personally have been trying to get for 30 years
since I first started writing about this subject. Tell us what your bill
REP. STEVE COHEN (D), TENNESSEE: It would require all police
departments, law enforcement agencies, to give to the Justice
Department for collection – the demographics of both the victim of lethal
force used by law enforcement officers and the demographics of the officer
and the deadly force policies of the departments, any force less than
lethal that was used by the officer, and the justification that the officer
and the department head for the use of that deadly force, so we can have a
clear picture on what`s happened, and if there are skewed, racial or other
demographic aspects of the victims and the perpetrators.
O`DONNELL: You know, as I said, I`ve been trying to get at this
number for just about 30 years, a little more than that. I wrote a book
back then called “Deadly Force.”
And I had to do my own criminology, my own kind of social studies to
find out what this number is. And the way we`re doing it then, the few of
us who are trying to get it, is literally just press clips, literally just
stories in newspapers.
And this is pre-Internet, so it was a very primitive method of trying
to get it. And the number we were zeroing in on back then was about 600 a
In the methods that they`re using now that include much more
sophisticated use of the Internet in order to get at this number, it`s
starting to sound like the number of these killings may be up around a
thousand, and might be more than that.
The number of police killed has always been much, much less than that.
As you know, it`s less than a hundred now. It has gone down a lot over the
But it seems to me this is just a very basic tool in order to get just
a rough idea of how this awesome power is being used.
COHEN: And there was a law in 1992 that`s never been followed. And
it said that the Justice Department need to collect evidence on excessive
And there was never a good definition of excessive force. And often -
- the departments often felt that whatever force they use was not
And they made, I think, the determination that it was self-defense or
that it was in the pursuit of – just defending somebody else. And, maybe,
in the limited circumstances that you can use deadly force to apprehend a
fleeing felon, that that was justified, so it wasn`t excessive.
My bill says clearly, “lethal force used.” And the determination of
excessive is not one that would make it subjective on the part of the
And we need to know that. I just saw the film, “Selma” tonight, a
very, very emotional film, and a film that sets America in a setting that`s
not so good.
And it was not good. Jimmy Lee Jackson`s shooting. There have been
murders over the years, and those murders still are part of the psyche of
America and psyche of people, particularly African-Americans and liberal
folks, who remember those type shootings that have gone all over the years
by law enforcement.
And not just in the south – many in the south but it`s not just a
southern problem. And as Lyndon Johnson said in a speech about that, it`s
not just a southern problem, it`s an American problem.
And the excessive use of force is an American problem.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Cohen, we have that image of that building
behind you, the Capital, tonight where, as you know, many congressmen, over
the years, have been outraged for many different reasons about things that
IRS agents do.
None of them involving killings by IRS agents. And here, this most
awesome power that any government worker can have, the use of deadly force.
And it`s very hard to find members of congress who actually care about
the use of that power.
COHEN: Particularly on the other side of the aisle.
COHEN: And I know we want to come together in some Kumbaya moment but
there are big differences in the Democrats and the Republicans and what
their priorities are.
And the other side of the aisle if probably our money. It`s IRS and
it`s money. And it`s not about human life.
And human life, whether it`s funding the NIH to find cures and
treatments for disease, or whether it`s getting figures and putting
limitations on the use of deadly force by departments or individuals who
use it excessively are the most important thing government can do.
Because the difference life and death is the most important thing in
our existence, in our life, and as government officials, not how much money
we have and if we can keep that money for ourselves.
O`DONNELL: Congressman Cohen, quickly before you go, the reason why
no one has introduced a bill like this is because they fear the politics of
it, including Democrats.
They fear anything that, in any way, might antagonize police. As
we`ve seen here in New York City having problems like that. They fear that
kind of politics.
COHEN: Well, there`s a lot of that fear. There are strong members,
generally in the Congressional Black Caucus and in the Progressive Caucus,
who do have concern.
John Conyers and Bobby Scott have concern, have a bill. They passed a
bill, not the same level and depth as mine, but they had concerns, too.
And then there`s John Lewis who`s a saint. As I watched “Selma,” I
thought what a blessing I`ve had to get to know John Lewis, a true saint in
the United States of America, who has served in Congress 28 years.
As I mentioned saints, a great civil rights icon, Julian Von, is going
to celebrate her 75th birthday tomorrow. And I think everybody needs to
wish him a happy birthday.
O`DONNELL: Yes, you`re absolutely right about John Conyers. He`s
been on this for decades. And, Steve Cohen, thank you very much for
joining us tonight.
COHEN: You`re welcome. Good to be here.
O`DONNELL: In the “Rewrite” tonight, guess which religious newspaper
refused to include a picture of Angela Merkel in the Solidarity March in
Ultra-orthodox puritanism is inn tonight`s “Rewrite.”
Investigators are trying to figure out why it took an hour to get more
than 200 people out of a Washington, D.C. metro train that was filled with
smoke from a fire at the L`Enfant Station.
NBC`s Tom Costello has the story.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is everyone OK.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE PASSENGER: No.
TOM COSTELLO, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Inside a D.C.
Subway car, fear and panic as smoke first filled the tunnel, then the train
UNIDENTIFIED MALE TRAIN OPERATOR (via P.A. system): Please stay calm.
Please stay calm.
COSTELLO: A train operator urged calm but, inside, hundreds of
passengers struggled to breathe, choking on thick acidic smoke. Soon, some
UNIDENTIFIED MALE PASSENGER: We need a medic.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE PASSENGER: Make a hole, make a hole, make a hole.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE PASSENGER: Does he need water?
COSTELLO: It happened at Washington`s L`Enfant Plaza Metro Station
just as the evening rush hour was getting underway.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE PASSENGER: There`s a lot of smoke and people could
barely breathe. No electricity, no visibility and all.
COSTELLO: Firefighters waited before going down to the tracks to be
sure the electric rail had been shut off. In all, more than 80 people sent
area hospitals for smoke inhalation.
One passenger, a woman, never made it out alive.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE PASSENGER: It was pitch black, smoke everywhere.
They kept everybody up.
COSTELLO (on camera): Fire or smoke on a subway is every commuter`s
nightmare. Survival can depend on knowing the train`s emergency phones and
exits, listening to instructions, and never touching an electrified rail.
(voice-over): Washington`s Subway System has been under intense
scrutiny after nine people were killed, 70 injured, in a crash six years
ago. Since then, several workers have been killed on the job.
The NTSB says Monday`s incident was likely caused by an electrical arc
on the third rail.
(on camera): The full NTSB investigation could take months. Those
passengers were told to stay inside the train because it was safer than
getting out on the train tracks.
But part of the investigation will look at why it took firefighters so
long to get down to them. As yet again, the D.C. Metro System is under
O`DONNELL: Thanks, Tom. The “Rewrite” is next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REZA ASLAN, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA RIVERSIDE: There`s no
question that there has been a kind of virus that has spread throughout the
Muslim world. A virus of ultra-orthodox puritanism.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O`DONNELL: But ultra-orthodox puritanism is not confined to the
Muslim world. In our ancient organized religions – Judaism, Catholicism
and Islam, women are now and always have been second-class citizens.
Catholicism does not allow women to become priests. Ultra-orthodox
Judaism shares the extreme puritanism that Reza Aslan just described as a
virus that has spread throughout the Muslim world.
One ultra-orthodox Jewish newspaper, HaMebaser, faced a difficult
challenge in covering Sunday`s –
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
– March of World Leaders in Paris with Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu in the front row.
The problem for the newspaper, which has never published a photo of
any woman doing anything, is that German Chancellor Angela Merkel was right
there in the front row between the President of France and Mahmoud Abbas,
the President of the Palestinian Authority.
And so, the newspaper photoshopped Angela Merkel right out of the
picture, as well as the female mayor of Paris. Here is the accurate
photograph – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in the center, Angela
Merkel is third on his left, the mayor of Paris is third on his right, with
the blue scarf.
And here is the photograph with the women chopped out completely.
There is a screenshot from the HaMebaser newspaper, first reported by a
Hebrew language Web site.
The more enlightened Israeli media was horrified. The Walla Web site
wrote, “The paper didn`t blur out Merkel`s image or white it out but
completely reedited the photograph and moved the images of the participants
around, so that you could never tell that Merkel was ever there.”
Allison Kaplan Sommer, writing in Haaretz, said, “It is rather
embarrassing when at a time when that the western world is rallying against
manifestations of religious extremism, our extremists managed to take the
She said, the cropped photograph is, quote, “infuriating and
shocking,” and that, “it is an attempt to deny the fact that in the wider
world beyond the ultra-orthodox Jewish community, women do stand on the
world stage and shape events.”
Rabbi Eliyahu Fink wrote, “If they don`t want to see women, just blur
or cover her face. Why make it seem like a woman was not even there. It`s
not about gawking at women or sexual arousal. Rather, it is an attempt to
excise women from the public sphere completely.”
“They are not protecting women from leering men or men from illicit
thoughts. They are telling their community that women have no place in
society outside the home.”
Many Israeli commentators noted that Palestinian President Mahmoud
Abbas was shown in the photograph that removed all women. The newspaper
that made the women disappear from that photograph was founded in 2009.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
So, it never had to face the Decision of how to cover Israeli Prime
Minister Golda Meir.
And we have a winner in the 2016 California Senate race. Well, I
mean, we actually have an announcement.
The California Attorney General Kamala Harris is the first Democrat to
officially declare that she will run for Barbara Boxer`s Senate seat bash
What boxer`s senate seat when Senator Boxer retires next year.
And, of course, she`s going to win. Up next, this is real. Well, I
mean, it`s nutty but it`s real – the plot to poison John Boehner.
A former Ohio Country Club bartender with a history of mental illness
has been indicted on a charge of threatening to murder the Speaker of the
House John Boehner.
According to the criminal complaint, 44-year-old, –
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
– Michael Hoyt, called 911 on October 29th last year. When an
officer arrived at Michael Hoyt`s residence, he told the officer that he
had been fired from his job as a bartender at the Wetherington Country
Club, in which Speaker Boehner is a member and, quote, “did not have time
to put something in John Boehner`s drink.”
Joining me now is Christina Bellantoni, Editor-In-Chief of “Roll
Call.” Christina, sounds absolutely nutty, sounds like a bad episode of a
bad TV show.
But this is a federal criminal indictment from a grand jury. FBI has
been involved in this investigation. And I`m sure, if they had found out
information about John Hinckley before he took a shot at Ronald Reagan, he
would have sounded pretty crazy like this, too.
CHRISTINA BELLANTONI, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, ROLL CALL: Sure. And the
authorities, essentially, are saying that this man could be released and
has had access to live information about the Speaker`s whereabouts, about
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
– that he knows. He was able to contact John Boehner`s wife and have
an e-mail exchange with her.
And he clearly has a motivation. He believes that Speaker Boehner had
him fired from his job. He also believe that the Speaker is responsible
for the Ebola virus.
So, they concluded that this person is enough of a risk, that they
considered it a serious. And, you know, this is a very nutty, wild
There`s all kinds of bizarre details in it and things that they found
at his home. But this is something that people should take seriously.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
There are a lot of threats against Members of Congress than we`ve
seen. Some of those play out in very tragic scenarios, you know, probably,
most recently, with Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in 2011.
O`DONNELL: Yes. They found an automatic weapon at his home, some
ammunition, apparently not a lot. He told the officer who arrived that
night that he is Jesus Christ.
So, clearly, all the evidence indicates seriously mentally disturbed.
And you never know whether someone like this is just talking, and talking
crazy talk –
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
– or is capable of taking action.
BELLANTONI: Yes. And that`s why they treat everything seriously
until they think that it`s not.
And you`ll even remember during the Healthcare debate, they had so
many different instances where maybe there was a brick thrown through a
window at a member of Congress` office, or there was potentially bullets
that have been shot through the campaign office for Eric Cantor down in
And so, you know, there are a lot of nutty people out there and people
that do crazy things. And so, they have to look into this. And, you know,
this person made very clear that he has an ax to grind against the Speaker.
And the Speaker, for his part, thanks the authorities and, you know,
he really appreciates that they are keeping us all safe.
O`DONNELL: And his mother was worried about him. She said she
removed an assault rifle from his home.
Christina Bellantoni, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
Chris Hayes is up next.
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