The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 09/09/15

Michael Steele, Josh Barro, Steve Clemons, David Miliband, Dale Russakoff

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


MADDOW: Thank you –

O`DONNELL: It is possibly the most fun campaign that the late-night
comedians could have ever asked for.


MADDOW: It`s a full employment program for comedians.

O`DONNELL: It really is.

MADDOW: Thanks –

O`DONNELL: Thanks Rachel. Well, tonight, we`re going to tell you the
story of the first woman recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor and
why she was repeatedly arrested for wearing pants back when it was
sometimes illegal for women to wear pants in this country.

But first, everyone in Washington knows the Iran deal is a done deal, but
still Donald Trump held a rally outside the Capitol today trying to stop
the done deal.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The agreement today seemed pretty much a done deal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The other side on this roll out, there`re big guns that
wish –

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The duck commander himself is here today –

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was anti when anti wasn`t even cool.

SARAH PALIN, FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: Obama`s deal is insane to anyone, but
Iranian regime simplified this; he is fulfilling Islamic Jihad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Americans will die, Israelis will die, Europeans will

TRUMP ENTERTAINMENT RESORTS: I`ve been doing deals for a long time –
wonderful deals, great deals.

the big orange elephant in the room.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A pageant of the Trump-plan(ph) tea party.

TRUMP: We will have so much winning, you may get bored with winning.

PALIN: An Orweillian Obama world, full of sprinkly fairy dust blown from
atop his unicorn.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: Rip to shreds this catastrophic deal.


and Dick Cheney want to be the face of the opposition, that`s their choice.

TRUMP: But it is a done deal, it looks like.


O`DONNELL: Secretary of State John Kerry; the former chairman of the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee knows that votes matter more than
speeches in the Senate.

And he has the votes to allow the Obama administration`s nuclear deal with
Iran to go through.


KERRY: People who count are 42 senators who`ve made up their minds, that`s
the count that matters right now.

And if Donald Trump and Ted Cruz and Dick Cheney want to be the face of the
opposition, that`s their choice.


O`DONNELL: And two hours after that, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz made that
choice at a rally outside the Capitol building. As usual, Donald Trump
said nothing particularly relevant or coherent, but he did talk a lot.


TRUMP: Never, ever in my life have I seen any transaction so incompetently
negotiated as our deal with Iran. We are led by very stupid people.

We lose everywhere. We lose militarily. We can`t beat ISIS – give me a
break – we can`t beat anybody. Our vets are being treated horribly. It
will change.

We will have so much winning if I get elected that you may get bored with


O`DONNELL: Presidential candidates usually like to say what they would do
when they become president, no matter how low they`re scoring in the polls
that day.

But Senator Ted Cruz, perhaps, in a realistic nod to his position in the
polls instead gave a recommendation to whoever does become the next


CRUZ: This Iranian nuclear deal is catastrophic.


It is the single greatest national security threat facing America. The
Obama administration will become quite literally the world`s leading
financier of radical Islamic terrorism.

And any commander-in-chief worthy of defending this nation should be
prepared to stand up on January 20th, 2017 –


CRUZ: And rip to shreds this catastrophic deal.


O`DONNELL: Also in Washington today, in the more sober atmosphere of the
Brookings Institution, the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential
nomination delivered a much more carefully phrased speech about the Iran


CLINTON: Diplomacy is not the pursuit of perfection. It`s the balancing
of risk. And on balance, the far riskier course right now would be to
walk away.

Several Republican candidates boast they`ll tear up this agreement in 2017,
more than a year after it`s been implemented, that`s not leadership, that`s


O`DONNELL: In an Op-ed in the “Huffington Post” today, Democratic
presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders said, “I fear that many of my
Republican colleagues do not understand that war must be the last resort,
not the first resort.

It is easy to go to war, it is not so easy to comprehend the unintended
consequences of that war. Does the agreement achieve everything I would
like? No, it does not. But to my mind, it is far better than the path we
are on.”

O`DONNELL: Hillary Clinton said this about how she would oversee the Iran
deal as president.


CLINTON: My starting point will be one of distrust. You remember
President Reagan`s line about the Soviets – trust but verify? My approach
will be distrust and verify.

We should anticipate that Iran will test the next president. They`ll want
to see how far they can bend the rules. That won`t work if I`m in the
White House.


O`DONNELL: And former Secretary of State Clinton had a sharp message for
Iran`s leaders.


CLINTON: Here`s my message to Iran`s leaders. The United States will
never allow you to acquire a nuclear weapon. As president, I will take
whatever actions are necessary to protect the United States and our allies.

I will not hesitate to take military action if Iran attempts to obtain a
nuclear weapon.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Josh Barro, a reporter for the “New York Times”
and an Msnbc contributor. Steve Clemons, Washington editor-at-large for
“The Atlantic Magazine” and an Msnbc contributor.

And Michael Steele, former RNC chairman and Msnbc political analyst.
Michael, it is a done deal and I think –


O`DONNELL: Even Donald Trump acknowledged that even though he was
participating in the – in the rally. Do you see this from here – let`s
say, we`re past the vote on this and we`re a month down the road in this
presidential campaign.

How long does this issue carry weight in the campaign as an active day-to-
day issue between Republicans and Democrats?

STEELE: Well, I think for a lot of the neo cons and the hawks in the
party, it carries a lot of weight and it will be one of the rallying cries.

And really one of the litmus tests for some of the candidates to apply to
other candidates, to sort of distinguish themselves over the next few

As this race among Republicans heats up, and I suspect beginning a week
from tonight, it really will get real hot for a lot of these candidates.

This issue as you saw play out today on a national stage will resonate with
a lot of the base, number one, and will be a driver as you heard Dick
Cheney say.

You know, he wants to make sure that foreign policy is one of the top,
talked about subjects for our presidential candidates over the next year.

O`DONNELL: And Josh Barro, it seems to be, we had two presidential
candidates up there today. For Ted Cruz, the contest now seems to be who
can find a new way to accuse the president of treason.

JOSH BARRO, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I mean, I thought it was remarkable that
we had two presidential candidates up there actually saying substantively
quite different things about this deal even though they were at the same
rally, at the – same people cheering them on.

O`DONNELL: But wait –


O`DONNELL: Correct me on this.

BARRO: Yes –

O`DONNELL: Did Donald Trump –

STEELE: True –

O`DONNELL: Say something substantive that I missed among all the other

BARRO: Well, I –

O`DONNELL: Because I want to report if he said something to –

BARRO: He never said it there, I don`t know if it was in the speech or an
immediate interview afterward, but as he had said many times, he would not
rip up –


BARRO: The deal –


O`DONNELL: Yes, and he –

BARRO: He said enough –

O`DONNELL: He didn`t say it –

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it`s working –

O`DONNELL: On the stage –

BARRO: Right –

O`DONNELL: But yes, you`re right, he does say that.

BARRO: And so, when he says –

O`DONNELL: A big difference –

BARRO: So, he wouldn`t remit this deal –

O`DONNELL: Right –

BARRO: But you know, once the deal is done –



He would have made up – get out of the deal –

BARRO: He wouldn`t –

O`DONNELL: Right, a wonderful deal.

BARRO: But this is the big difference, right? A lot of Republicans are
basically saying, it`s a bad deal because Iran is evil and you can`t deal
with evil.

And basically, there is no way that you could have made a deal that would
have been good. You have another critique, which is the Trump critique and
there are other people in his camp basically saying, no, you could have a
deal with Iran, but this is the wrong deal.

And if you were tougher and if you weren`t weak like President Obama is,
you could strike a better deal with them.

This is a – I think it`s wrong, but it`s a more realistic position,
basically, saying that yes, you can and after sometime negotiate with
people you don`t like, like the Iranians. They`re just saying that they
would have negotiated it differently.

And I think most of this, most of the discussion about this issue in the
Republican field and the reason it`s not going to become a litmus test is
that it`s just really about the sense that President Obama is weak and we
need someone strong.

And so, you can – you can make that case either by saying, rip up the deal
or by saying, well, gee, don`t rip up the deal because President Obama
screwed us and put us in this position where we have to deal with the deal.

But I don`t really think that there`s going to be a substantive policy
debate over whether you should throw out the Iran deal or not when you get
in, it is going to drive who wins this Republican nomination.

I think it`s all just a lot of posture.

O`DONNELL: All right, let`s concentrate on someone who actually has a
chance of being president. Steve, Hillary Clinton today trying to sound –
first of all, supporting the deal, this is the deal to make, let`s go with

And then trying to sound as tough as she possibly could on the Iranian
regime in every way she could in the rest of that situation –

Hillary Clinton has been in the entire time I have watched her in the
United States Senate, in the department when she was Secretary of State.

Hillary Clinton is a very smart, experienced person who – it`s great she
supported the deal, but the clutch that her foreign policy position is, is
highly muscular, highly prone to, let`s attack, let`s be prepared.

In the three scenario she laid out about what Iran would do, Iran would
either cheat, Iran would either wait us out or Iran would fool us at the
end and come with this thing.

And it was designed – it was a – it was a neo conservative drafted half
of the speech and it was just remarkable in the way that she didn`t present
a pathway to consolidated the achievement of President Obama and what might
be a very different scenario in the Middle East.

Where the United States is not dragged down and bogged down forever in this
morass where its own stakeholders aren`t even taking care of it.

Remember, Obama talked about the Asia pivot, so the future of the United
States is in Asia, our future here is to tend the issues, but not to double

This was Hillary Clinton saying, we need to double down in the Middle East,
we need to buff up our forces – and by the way, it`s all about Israel.

It`s not about the Sunni, Shia divide and the proxy wars going on all
around the region and using presidential power like Hillary Clinton is
supposed to be about to broker a deal between the Saudis and Iranians.

There was none of that. This was a very key speech for Hillary Clinton and
it`s deep in her DNA to just be ready to punch. Not really strategic.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to more of what she had to say in the area that
you`re talking about, about how she sees the effects of what Iran could be
engaged in, in the region.


CLINTON: Even without nuclear weapons, we still see Iran`s fingerprints on
nearly every conflict across the Middle East. They support bad actors from
Syria to Lebanon to Yemen.

They vow to destroy Israel. And that`s worth saying again, they vow to
destroy Israel. We cannot ever take that lightly.


O`DONNELL: Michael Steele, it sounds like on a general election debate
stage, Hillary Clinton is going to be tough to sound tougher there on Iran.


STEELE: Well, yes, I mean, she`s got a little neocon in her end, she
worked it in that speech today.

And I think that, that`s going to be an interesting conversation to have
her have with the Republican nominee, particularly if it`s someone who has
a very strong or even strident position on the Middle East with respect to
Israel and Iran.

To hear her try to navigate that conversation while her base on the other
hand is sitting there looking at her look cock-eyed, going, wait a minute,
this was the concern we had about you.

That, you know, you are ready to shoot first, then maybe negotiate and a
lot of that came across in that speech today and it`s going to be funny to
watch her sort of dial it back when Bernie Sanders and Martin O`Malley and
others begin to point out that there`s a neocon in our midst.

O`DONNELL: All right, a quick subject change here, there`s a bit of a
religious war breaking up in the Republican campaign just tonight, let`s
listen to what Ben Carson said about Donald Trump`s religiosity.


Bible verse is Proverbs 22:4, it says “by humility and the fear of the Lord
are riches and honor and life.”

And that`s a very big part of who I am, humility and the fear of the Lord.
I don`t get that impression with him. Maybe I`m wrong, but I don`t get
that impression.


O`DONNELL: All right, and here`s Donald Trump`s response, which is, of
course, a tweet. And he tweeted, “wow, I am ahead of the field with the
evangelicals and I`m so proud of this and virtually every other group and
Ben Carson just took a swipe at me.”

Michael Steele, referee this one of where –



O`DONNELL: Where –


O`DONNELL: Where is this going in your party?

STEELE: Oh, no, we`re good. Look, I really don`t think that, that is a
posture that Ben Carson wants to take. It`s not very humbling or very
Christian to start questioning someone`s faith or their tradition in that -
- in that manner.

There`s no need to talk about that. But as Donald Trump – as Donald Trump
points out, he needs to gain some grounds with evangelicals and this is one
way he thinks he can do it.

O`DONNELL: Ben Carson going to keep this up?

BARRO: Yes, I think so. I mean, Ben Carson is number two in a lot of the
national polls now, he`s –


BARRO: Actually been polling close to even with Donald Trump in Iowa on
strength of the evangelicals.

And it is a little bit weird that Donald Trump is doing so well with the
evangelical vote when going around and you know, saying the Bible is my
favorite book but I`m not going to say what verses I like because that`s
too personal.

O`DONNELL: Right –

BARRO: Which testament do you like better? Or I like both equally. I
think you know, the connection between Donald Trump and the evangelicals
has been a little bit strange and I see why Ben Carson sees an opportunity.

O`DONNELL: All right, Josh Barro, thanks for joining us tonight. Up next,
will the United States accept more refugees from Syria?

And today, Lester Holt interviewed two survivors of the massacre in the
Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

One mother told him about the experience of watching her son take his last
breath in that church. And later, another episode of her story; the first
woman to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor and how that didn`t save
her from being arrested many times after that for wearing pants.



KERRY: We are committed to increasing the number of refugees that we take
and we are looking hard at the number that we can specifically manage with
respect to the crisis in Syria and Europe.


O`DONNELL: The former Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom David
Miliband joins us next with the latest on the crisis.


O`DONNELL: Today, the president of the European Commission proposed a new
plan to allow an additional 160,000 refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and
other countries.

The plan would distribute the refugees among European Union member nations
with binding quotas. The United States has accepted 1,500 Syrian refugees
in the last four years with almost all of them coming just this year.

Here`s what the presidential candidates have to say about accepting more
Syrian refugees in the United States.


CLINTON: I think the entire world has to come together. It should not be
just one or two countries or not just Europe and United States. We should
do our part as should the Europeans, but this is a broader, global crisis.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: I would be open. America has always been
open to allowing a certain number of refugees from around the world to come
to the United States.

GOV. JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: I think we do have a responsibility in terms
of taking some more folks in, making sure they assimilate and at the same
time helping people to actually be safe as they – as they move.

That`s logistical support. But this is fundamentally an issue that Europe
has to come to grips with –

BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS: Do you object to them coming to the USA?

TRUMP: I hate the concept of it, but on a humanitarian basis, with what`s
happening, you have to.


O`DONNELL: Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker tweeted this
today, “we shouldn`t be taking in any more Syrian refugees right now.

The real problem here is the Obama administration`s failure to deal with
ISIS.” And Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said this:

“Obviously the U.S. has got to work with Europe and I think what they want
to establish which is right, is not all refugees end up in Germany or in
the U.K. and that`s what they`re working on.

And I think the United States has got to be supportive and work with them.”
Joining us now is David Miliband, president and CEO of the International
Rescue Committee and former Secretary of State, Foreign Affairs in the
United Kingdom.

Back with us Steve Clemons and Michael Steele. Mr. Miliband, first of all,
the situation in Europe, what is the latest status and what do you see
happening in the next couple of weeks?

now upwards of 600,000, even 800,000 refugees expected into Europe this
year and most of them into Germany.

The real eye of the storm at the moment is in Greece. We have teams,
International Rescue Committee has teams in the four Greek islands, Les
Bosses, the largest island just six kilometers from the Turkish border
across the Mediterranean Sea.

And there you`ve got 25,000 people stuck on an island, 3,000 a day coming
on, less than that going off and appalling conditions for people who`ve
been on an interminable trek, many of them losing loved ones on the way.

And the feebleness of the European response has been exposed in graphic
form over the last couple of weeks.

But obviously, this has been a problem far longer in the making, 4 million
refugees, a vast bulk of them in neighboring states to Syria.

And from our point of view as a humanitarian agency, there are two absolute
and immediate priorities.

One, in Europe, there needs to be a far better effort at processing and
relocating those refugees, resettling them in a safe way.

But obviously, the flow has to be tackled with a serious attempt to improve
conditions in the neighboring states of Syria.

And finally, after four years of lassitude and inertia, a real drive of
political and diplomatic muscle to try to bring this conflict to a close.

O`DONNELL: Steve, you hear Mr. Miliband refer to the European response as
feeble – United States 1,500.

CLEMONS: Fifteen hundred –

O`DONNELL: Fifteen hundred –

CLEMONS: People, I mean, and only take 1,500 people that it took 18 months
to vet. So, those 1,500 people waited an average of 18 months to get here.

So, when they talk about ramping up, it`s not only the numbers we`re
talking about. It`s about – you know, you talk about, you know, the free
Syrian Army and trying to set up moderate rebels, and these are people
trying to save their lives, save their children`s lives.

They are leaving their homes under duress in fear for their safety. And we
are vetting them at such a level that it takes us 18 months to get.

David Miliband has become the conscience of the United States by
challenging us and saying, we should at least take 65,000 such refugees a

Which is such an order of magnitude higher than what we`re doing. Martin
O`Malley has embraced this, but no one has set a number as to what we –
what we should have done like David has done.

The Germans are saying they`ll take 500,000 for four years, the British,
his country, 20,000 over five years. So, that`s pretty pathetic, I`m sorry
to say.

But the point is, this Hillary Clinton is right, everyone should do it.
But the way that she hedged it makes us seem so pathetically on the edge of
any real absorption of these people that are in trouble, in need.

And that convinces Muslims in the Middle East that we don`t care about
their lives.

O`DONNELL: Michael Steele, Martin O`Malley pointed out that if we were
doing this on a proportional basis to our population to Germany`s
population, we could accept 800,000.

I don`t think that`s a number you`re going to hear from anybody on the
presidential debate stage next week.

STEELE: Well, that`s Martin O`Malley and so, that doesn`t surprise me at
all. You know, the more the merrier without any regard to consequences.

And I think that`s a big – that`s a big part of this as well. And you
have to ask yourself, why the Europeans sort of slow-boating this and
taking their time and not responding in a way that, you know, we should see
them respond.

The U.S., the same way. So, what is it about Syria, what is it about these
refugees? What is it about the situation?

And I think the foreign minister`s last point is the starting point for a
lot of – for a lot of these allies and NATO and around the globe is what
is the situation militarily, Islamic terrorism, all of that with respect to
Syria and how does that then bleed out through the refugees? And that`s a

And I think it`s a matter of balance right now and it`s one that
unfortunately real lives are being caught in the middle of that trap.

O`DONNELL: Mr. Miliband, how open are the communication channels among all
the governments in Europe about trying to coordinate how many they`re
taking in each country?

Is each country just kind of thinking about this and talking about this –



O`DONNELL: Behind closed doors –

MILIBAND: This question is very clear. Europe has been focused first of
all on the Euro crisis in Greece, then on the Ukraine crisis over the last
few years and Syria has been really taken backstage.

It`s taken German leadership to overcome what we call in the U.K. “beggar
my neighbor”, inward looking, thinking, which has been predominant.

It remains a divided continent, Europe, but German leadership has really
sprung France into action, Italy and Belgium will follow.

And I think there will be a big number that comes out – the biggest number
that comes out of the European summit on Monday.

The tragedy really it seems to me for the United States is that,
historically, you have been the country that has led the world in refugee

The height of the Vietnamese, both people coming here in the early 1980s,
150,000 a year. And that`s what makes the 1,500 figure that Steve has
spoken to, so shocking I think to many people.

This has been a country that`s shown there are safe ways of integrating
communities and strikingly, there are successful Syrian-American
communities in the United States already here saying, we want to bring our
brothers, our cousins, our friends here and they`re not allowed to.

O`DONNELL: What would you say to Americans and American policymakers on
the issue of the fear of terrorists slipping in among such a large group?

MILIBAND: I think it`s a really important point to address and to be open
about – it`s tougher to get to the United States as a refugee than in
other – any other form.

The security vetting that goes on is very substantial and very serious.
And I think that what`s important is that we can see that those Syrian
Americans who have made it here, they`re becoming productive citizens.

I have met them myself, the International Rescue Committee as well as doing
work, humanitarian work in troubled spots around the world in 35 countries.

We resettle 10,000 new Americans every year. I`ve met – I`ve been to
Phoenix, I`ve met the Syrian-American community that we`ve helped resettle

They`re going to become some of the most patriotic people in this country
because they know this country has given them life and has given them a

And Steve`s point I think is really profound and important. He said – he
said it in passing – it`s easy to say, look, 4,000 – 1,500 is very few,
65,000 isn`t going to end the war in Syria.

But as a mark of showing the people of the Middle East that we are willing
to stand with them, that even at this time of when it`s proved impossible
to do the hard thing, which is to end the war, we`re willing to do some
things that are more viable.

And along – and I think that`s absolutely the key if we`re going to make
progress in the future.

O`DONNELL: David Miliband, thank you very much for joining us tonight,
really appreciate it. And Steve Clemons, Michael Steele, thank you all for
joining us.

Coming up, remember when Mark Zuckerberg just wrote out a $100 million
check and gave it to the Newark public school system to save the system.

What do you think happened to that 100 million? And in an “Nbc News”
exclusive, two of the three survivors of the Charleston massacre speak out
about what happened inside Mother Emanuel AME Church on that day.

You will have to hear this to believe what that experience was actually
like for that mother.


O`DONNELL: Today, Lester Holt met with two of the survivors of the
Charleston massacre at the Emanuel AME Church. Felicia Sanders and Polly
Shepherd described what it was like to be in that church in the line of
fire. And, Felicia Sanders told Lester Holt of the agony of watching her
son take his last breath.



the prayer to be released and he caught us with our eyes closed. I never
told nobody this. We had our eyes closed. The shots rang out.


LESTER HOLT, NBC NIGHTLY NEWS ANCHOR: Sanders was at the bible study with
her aunt Susie Jackson, her 11-year-old granddaughter and 26-year-old son,


SANDERS: I remember my son saying, “Mama he shot me in the head.” And, I
was telling my son – I said, “Just lay here. Just lay here.” And, my
granddaughter was hollering, saying she was so afraid. It hurts me so bad.
Because I struggle with what could I have done differently that I did,
because I tried my best to save both of them.

HOLT: You saved your granddaughter. You held her.


HOLT: What did you say to her?

SANDERS: I nuzzled her so hard. I am surprised I did not suffocate her.
I tried to hold her as tight as I could so she would not make a sound.
And, I just heard – I heard every shot. I heard every single shot.


HOLT: Despite being hit multiple times, her son tried to protect the
others, including his Aunt Susie.


SANDERS: Tywanza saying, “Where is Aunt Susie? I got to get to Aunt
Susie.” And, he did not stop until he could get to Aunt Susie.

HOLT: He had been wounded several times –


HOLT: And he is still trying to crawl to his aunt.

SANDERS: He got there. He got there. I said, “I love you, Tywanza.” He
said, “Mama, I love you. I love you” and I watched him take his last


HOLT: Before leaving the bible study room, the shooter stopped right in
front of Polly Shepherd who was hiding under a table.


hear me praying and he said, “Shut up. Did I shoot you yet?” And, I said,
“No.” And, he said, “I am not going to. I am going to leave you here to
tell the story.”

HOLT: Were you ready to die.

SHEPHERD: I was ready. I said, “Lord, well, if this is the way I am
supposed to go, this is the way I will go.”


HOLT: Nine of the people in that room did lose their lives that night,
killed by a man they welcomed with open arms into their bible study. Just
two days after the massacre, the nation marveled when family members of the
victims, including Felicia Sanders offered their forgiveness to Dylann


SANDERS: I told him, “May God have mercy on your soul.” And, I honestly
hope God have mercy on his soul.

HOLT: There was a young man that shot a T.V. reporter and camera person
recently –

SANDERS: Yes. Oh God.

HOLT: And he said, “The Charleston church shooting was the breaking

SANDERS: You cannot equate the two. You cannot.

SHEPHERD: That made me so sad, because I never wanted any one parent to
feel what I felt. It numbs you. It just numbs you.


HOLT: Etched in their memories is the traditional benediction they were
just about to utter when the shots rang out.


SANDERS (praying): One from the other, amen.

SHEPHERD (praying): One from the other, amen.

HOLT: What was your impression the way the whole country embraced Emanuel

SHEPHERD: It is amazing. It is amazing to see all the love and the caring
and it is just amazing to see everybody together as one nation.



O`DONNELL: The city of Baltimore has formally agreed to a settlement of
$6.4 Million with the family of Freddie Gray who died in police custody in
April. The five members of the board of estimates voted unanimously today
to approve the settlement. Freddie Gray suffered a fatal spinal injury in
the back of a Baltimore police van. His death let to rioting in Baltimore
and to homicide charges against six Baltimore police officers.

Up next, remember when a woman could get arrested just for wearing pants in
this country. You do not? OK. Well, we will tell you about that next in,
“Her Story.”


O`DONNELL: To have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for
worse, for richer of for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love,
cherish, and to obey until death do us part. That is the marriage vow for
brides in the book of common prayer, which was used in this country for

The vow for grooms is identical except for the words “And to obey.” There
is nothing in the vow about how the husband should be obeying the wife,
just the wife obeying the husband. And, so Mary Walker took those words
out of her wedding vow in 1855, and she refused to take her husband`s last

And, so, it is Mary Walker, her name, that appears on her congressional
medal of honor, which she received in 1865 when she became the first woman
to receive the congressional medal of honor. This is, “Her story.”

Mary Walker was born in 1832 and grew up on a farm in upstate New York,
where her father was a self-taught country doctor. Mary`s parents were
abolitionists and their home was a stop on the underground railroad
providing shelter and a hideout for escaped slaves on their way to freedom
in Canada.

Mary had four sisters and a younger brother and they all worked on the
farm. As a teenager, Mary grew fascinated by her father`s medical books
and spent time with neighbors, who were very ill so that she could observe
their symptoms.

In 1853, Mary was accepted at Syracuse Medical College, one of the very few
medical schools that admitted women then. Harvard Medical School, which
was founded 70 years before Syracuse Medical College did not admit women
until 1945. That is how difficult it has been historically for women to
become doctors in this country.

One of the great American freedom movements that has faded from our
collective memory was dress reform. In Mary Walker`s day, a woman could
actually get arrested for dressing like this. In fact, Mary Walker was
arrested many times for wearing pants, and she was charged with
impersonating a man.

Her parents were bold believers in practical clothing for their daughters
working on the farm. So, they all grew up wearing pants. Mary wore pants
under her wedding dress. Mary eventually became the president of the
National Dress Reform Association.

And, she wrote, “The greatest sorrows from which women suffer today are
those physical, moral, and mental ones that are caused by their unhygienic
manner of dressing. Mary believed that tight corsets were unhealthy.

Mary walker also worked to get women the right to vote. And in 1881, she
became the first female candidate for United States senate in this country
saying that the women did not have the right to vote. She saw nothing in
the constitution that prevented them from holding elective office.

But, it was her service in the civil war that won her the congressional
medal of honor. When the war broke out, Mary went to Washington to request
to enlist as an army surgeon. Her request was denied. She then
volunteered in a makeshift hospital in Washington with a hundred severely
wounded soldiers. Mary kept requesting formal appointments as an army
surgeon and kept getting rejected.

In 1862, she set off to the battlefield herself and offered her services
there as a volunteer. The army surgeons she worked with supported her
appeal to Washington for a formal appointment, but she was again denied.
Newspapers began to pick up the story of the woman doctor on the
battlefield. The New York Tribune wrote, “The lady is exceedingly popular
among the soldiers in the hospitals and is undoubtedly doing much good.

In 1864, General George Henry Thomas, under his authority as commander of
the army of the Cumberland, hired Mary as a contract surgeon and she was
finally earning a salary equivalent to a Lieutenant. In April of that
year, she was captured by a confederate soldier. She was held for four
months and released in a prisoner swap for a confederate surgeon.

She then met with President Abraham Lincoln to describe her treatment as a
prisoner of war and then Mary immediately returned to the battlefield
helping to treat the thousands of wounded after the battle of Atlanta. The
most urgent and controversial decision facing battlefield surgeons then was

After the war, Mary said, “There were cases where soldiers had been wounded
in the arm or leg and in the most pitiful manner that made it difficult for
me to suppress my emotions. They would ask me if that leg would have to
come off, if that arm would have to come off, telling me that they would
rather die than lose a leg or lose an arm.”

Most leg amputations then resulted in death. The higher on the leg the
amputation, the higher the likelihood of death. Mary worried that some
doctors were doing too many hasty unnecessary amputation. Sharon Harris`
biography of Dr. Mary Walker describes how she tried to reduce the number
of amputations.

She began a process of double checking a patient`s wounds whenever she
heard that one of the suspect doctors intended to remove a limb. If she
thought the surgery was unwarranted, she counseled the soldier, that
surgery was his choice. Though she also told soldiers not to reveal that
she had counseled them.

In later years, she insisted that many a man today has for it the perfect
and good use of his limbs who would not have had but for my advice.
Several soldiers wrote after the war to thank her for saving their limbs.

Dr. Mary walker received the congressional medal of honor in 1865 at the
age of 32. After decades of abuse of the medal of honor, including easily
copied and sold counterfeit medals of honor, the war department reviewed
all medal of honor awards and revoked almost a thousand of them in 1916
including Dr. Mary Walker`s medal.

And, so, suddenly at age 84, it became a crime for Mary Walker to wear her
congressional medal of honor, but she refused to return her medal to the
army and continued to wear it until her death a few years later at the age
of 87 in 1919.

And, 51 years later, after a Pentagon investigation of the case, President
Jimmy Carter restored Dr. Mary Walker`s medal of honor on June 11, 1977.
If you take a tour of the Pentagon, you can see her medal there on display

Dr. Mary walker, the first woman to receive the congressional medal of
honor remains to this day. The only woman to receive the congressional
medal of honor, and that is “Her Story.”


O`DONNELL: Mark Zuckerberg donated $100 million to the Newark Public
School system and what did Newark do with that money? The answer is next.


O`DONNELL: We are having a flash back to an amazing moment on the Oprah
Winfrey show five years ago with then mayor of Newark Corey Booker, New
Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Mark Zuckerberg.


OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: So, Mayor Booker for those who do not know,
what is the big news?

COREY BOOKER, FORMER NEWARK MAYOR: Well, we have been talking for quite
some time about creating a bold new paradigm for educational excellence in
the country to show the way to put the people of the city of Newark really
in the driver`s seat in the focal point. And to work to get all the assets
and resources we need to give to them to succeed.

WINFREY: So, Governor Christie, what are you committing to? What are you
committing to?

CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: What I am committed to is
changing the schools in the city where I was born. I spent the first years
of my life and Mayor Booker is going to be the point person, our lead guide
in Newark in helping to develop this entirely new plan of how to reform the
education system in Newark and create a national model.

WINREY: So, Mr. Zuckerberg, what role are you playing in all of this? Are
the rumors true, will there be a check offered at some point? Yes.

MARK ZUCKERBERG, FACEBOOK CEO: Yes. I have committed to starting the
startup education foundation, whose first project will be a $100 million
challenge grant.

WINFREY: $100 million. Yo, yo, yo, yo, yo.



O`DONNELL: A new book “The Prize: Who is in Charge of American Schools”
tells the important story of what happens next in Newark. The New York
Times says, “The Prize” may well be one of the most important books on
education to come along in years.

Joining us now, the author of that book Dale Russakoff. Dale, I want to
ask you how it worked out in New Jersey. But, let us first listen to how
Chris Christie says it worked out in New Jersey. He said this in New
Hampshire of course last month. Let us listen to this.


CHRISTIE: The story in Newark has really been good. Let us start off with
Mark Zuckerberg and his $100 million contribution. Mary Pat and I were in
a goal in raising the money to match it. It was fully matched. And, that
money has gone to great purpose in terms of getting merit pay for teachers,
getting rid of teachers who did not belong there and using some of that
money to pay off teachers to leave. That is how crazy the system is. We
have to pay these people to leave when they are ineffective.


O`DONNELL: Dale, so, the story in Newark has been really good according to
Chris Christie, thanks to that 100 million.

DALE RUSSAKOFF, AUTHOR OF “THE PRIZE”: Yes. It sounds like everything has
worked out well.


RUSSAKOFF: Well, it is interesting. A couple of the things he said
actually did not happen. He said that they –

O`DONNELL: No way. You are kidding? He was inaccurate about some of

RUSSAKOFF: Yes. He seems to think this is true. He seems to think this
did happen, but it did not. The goal was to use $20 million to buy out
the, quote, “Bad teachers and get them to leave.” But, federal pension law
does not allow you to do that.

If you are going to have a buyout you have to offer it to everyone and good
people can take it along with the bad ones. So, Governor Christie did
raise money from his donor and they committed it to a $20 million fund to
buy out the bad teachers and it is not possible, so the money is still
sitting there.

O`DONNELL: That is emblematic of so many stories told in here, that these
kind of new sort of cold-eyed analysts of education, who are relatively new
to the subject to look at it and say, “Hey! Let us get rid of the bad

Forget for the moment, how you define that. Having worked as a public
schoolteacher myself I would defy anyone to be able to define that on a big
scale. You can pick one or two here and there. Secondly, there are all
sorts of laws that are out there that have nothing to do with the education
system that prevent them from doing things that they I think can do.

RUSSAKOFF: Yes. And, it is very interesting like one of the main things
that even the Obama administration was trying to get states to do, and more
of the half of the states agree was to rate teachers based on their
students` test scores.

And, the them formula that they use to determine with the growth of a
student and attribute it to a teacher was developed by a measurement
scientist whom I interviewed for the book.

And, he said it was never intended to do that, that the formula does tell
you if students have actually grown in a subject, but it does not tell you
why they grew. And, the teachers` role is a very small part of why a
student might or might not.

O`DONNELL: So, the scorecard – the report card five years out on the
Newark experiment, $100 million Zuckerberg experiment?

RUSSAKOFF: Well at best, it is very mixed.

O`DONNELL: Is that a C? Is that a C+? What is that?

RUSSAKOFF: It is probably at best a C-.

O`DONNELL: The book tells the story of most people abandoning their
commitments to this. The Zuckerberg – he and his wife seem to have
learned from it and are now trying an improved approach on the west coast.

RUSSAKOFF: Yes. One of the things that was really most problematic about
this was that they tried to change the Newark schools from the top down
with outsiders money and no involvement from the people on the ground,
people in the schools, the parents of the children. The thinking was it is
really best for kids if we do what is best, what is right and the local
special interest are going to stop that.

O`DONNELL: We are out of time. Can we continue our conversation and post
it online?

RUSSAKOFF: Of course.

O`DONNELL: OK. Stay. We went on overtime. Dale Russakoff gets the last
word on T.V. tonight. She is going to have more to say online. The book
is “The Prize.” Chris Hayes is up next.


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