The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 11/24/15

Jamie Kalven, Marq Claxton, Corey Brooks

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.

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Good evening Rachel, we got a lot
of breaking news from Chicago that we`re going to get to right away.

MADDOW: Very good, thanks Lawrence –

O`DONNELL: Thanks Rachel. Tonight, for the first time in 35 years, a
Chicago police officer is charged with first degree murder. The killing
occurred 13 months ago on October 20, 2014.

Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke shot and killed 17-year-old Laquan
McDonald. The Independent Police Review Authority in Chicago; it`s a
civilian agency that is charged with investigating all officer-involved
shootings, they went to work immediately.

They collected evidence, they interviewed witnesses and within less than
two weeks of that incident, they concluded that it was a bad shooting and
they stripped officer Van Dyke of his police powers.

The officer was then assigned to desk duty where he has remained for the
last year until today when he was finally suspended without pay because he
was charged with a crime of murder.

Tonight, a dash cam video was released showing what prosecutors now call
the murder of Laquan McDonald. There is no sound on this video, it is very
graphic, you should be warned about that.

If you choose to watch it, you will see Laquan McDonald armed with a small
knife, that has about a 3-inch blade on that knife and you will see him
trying to get away from police officers who were then closing in on him.
Here is that video.

That is Laquan McDonald in the middle of the road there, the officers will
approach from his left. You can see him hit there, 16 shots in total were

There was a pause, according to witnesses after the first shots and before
the second shots were fired. That`s an officer kicking the knife out of
Laquan McDonald`s hand there.

And those blurs that occurred were Nbc standards, blurring moments there
where there appear to be puffs of smoke. Some people have mistaken for
puffs of smoke coming from the body when it is hit by the bullets.

That`s actually debris in the area of the body of this smoke from a
firearm, it`s at the barrel of the gun, it`s not at the point of impact at
that kind of distance.

Here is State Attorney Anita Alvarez at a press conference before that
video was released.


determination that this defendant`s actions of shooting Laquan McDonald
when he did not pose an immediate threat of great bodily harm or death.

And a subsequent actions of shooting Laquan McDonald while he lay on the
ground after previously being struck by gunfire were not justified and they
were not a proper use of deadly force by this police officer.


O`DONNELL: We`re joined now from Chicago by Jamie Kalven who`s reported
extensively on patterns of police abuse there.

He works with the Invisible Institute and was the person who got the
autopsy report in this case and got that to be public.

Also joining us, Marq Claxton, director of the Black Law Enforcement
Alliance, also with us here in New York, Msnbc`s Joy Reid.

Jamie Kalven, tell us more about the history of this case and the way the
information has dribbled out over time, mostly through efforts of third
parties forcing the release of this information.

Tell us first about how you managed to get the autopsy in this case?

autopsy with a Freedom of Information Act request as of the time it became

But I think the really striking thing about what we have seen today is the
city had everything that is known about the incident on October 20th of
2014 in which Laquan McDonald was shot and killed, was known within hours
by the city.

They had the video, they had the autopsy as of the next morning. So the
information that has been at the center of public attention today more than
a year after the incident was in the possession of the city within hours,
if not even less time.

And yet the city put out a press release that gave what they had to know
was a false account.

Young man with a knife behaving erratically lunges at officers, officers in
self-defense shoot, strike him in the chest, he dies sometime later at a
nearby hospital. You`ve seen the video, I think that can only be called an
outright lie about what happened.

And so the city then has for the better part of the year, for more than a
year maintained that narrative until recent events.

O`DONNELL: And Joy Reid, that narrative would continue tonight were it not
for video. Video is the only thing that breaks this claim of self-defense
that is always made in this case.

The police union in this case lied about it, as police unions virtually
always do in this case at the time of the shootings, “Chicago Tribune”

The police union maintained that the officer fired in fear of his life
because the teen lunged at him, lunged at him. That was their description.

That was – lunged at him and his partner with that knife. That`s the
police union`s official description and that`s a description you read in
these cases all around the country.

And then once in a while, there`s a videotape, and, of course, he was going
away from them. There was no lunge at him whatsoever. The police union
story, a complete lie.

JOY REID, MSNBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and you can go back and take
any case you want.

The Patrick Dorismond case in the late 1990s in New York, where there was
no videotape but it was the same story that it was the person who was shot,
who was attacking the officer.

The Walter Scott case confirmed to be the initial story that was told by
the officer and backed up by the department was that Walter Scott made a
move for the officer`s taser and the officer shot him in self-defense.

The videotape proved that much to be true. And then you have this case
where to Mr. Kalven`s point, the city, which knew the information was not
true put out a story in the midst, by the way, of a very contentious re-
election campaign for –

O`DONNELL: Right –

REID: The mayor of the city, Rob Emanuel. Remember this took place in
October of last year as Rob Emanuel is fighting a runoff election against
Jesus Chuy Garcia in election that had a lot of implications in terms of
things like raising in the midst of a lot of discussion around the country
about black lives matter.

And so you have city officials – because I do believe, and Mr. Kalven can
correct me if I`m wrong, that he was tipped off about the existence of this
tape by somebody who worked in the city, who worked for the city.

And so there was a knowledge throughout government that this story wasn`t
true, and yet you had this wholesale effort to sort of confect a story that
would justify the shooting.

And only the forcing of this videotape out makes the prosecutor act. And
it –


REID: Takes a year, it takes over a year to figure out –


REID: That something was wrong.

KALVEN: And I would add that, that process of maintaining and enforcing
this false narrative culminates in the midst of the run – the
unprecedented runoff campaign between Mayor Emanuel and Chuy Garcia, with a
settlement with the estate, with the family of Laquan McDonald for $5

That the family – the lawyers for the family had not even filed a lawsuit.
What they had done is through the probate process managed to obtain a copy
of the video.

So that was their leverage to negotiate the settlement, and it was, you
know, it appears a political necessity in the midst of the mayoral campaign
to be sure that, that video did not come out.

Imagine if two weeks before the election, the full implications of what
happened to Laquan McDonald had become public knowledge.

O`DONNELL: Jamie, the –

KALVEN: I mean, that`s potentially a game changer.

O`DONNELL: Jamie, the city council there approves these kinds of payout,
this $5 million payout. Is the mayor also involved in approving that

KALVEN: Yes – no, the payout is negotiated by the city law office, by the
corporation council, the mayor`s lawyer, the chief lawyer for the city, and
then it`s brought to the city council.

I think any settlement of over $100,000 goes to the city council and it`s
mostly a rubber stamp operation at that point.

O`DONNELL: And was there any – the mayor said tonight in this
unprecedented press conference that they had before the video was released
in which they were basically, the mayor and the police chief, everyone was
just trying to bring calm to the city before this video was released.

The mayor said, he has not seen this video. He had not seen it, he said he
was going to see it tonight for the first time just like everyone else.

KALVEN: But you know, I think the video – the content of the video had
been described almost frame by frame by people who had seen it. I have
reported on it, others have.

O`DONNELL: How long – Jamie, how long have those reports been out there,
what`s in the video?

KALVEN: You know, I – for many months, I couldn`t place it –


KALVEN: Exactly. But – so, I had eyewitness – I have – in the course
of researching this story found two eyewitnesses at the site who gave very
vivid and credible accounts that completely align with the video.

And I – you know, reported on that. And then once the lawyers got the
video, they described its contents. They were constrained by the
settlement agreement with the city from showing that.

But they described its contents, so it`s been – it`s been widely known.
This has been in plain sight for many months.

O`DONNELL: All right, let`s listen to what the prosecutor said tonight
about how long it took for officer Van Dyke to shoot Laquan McDonald.

Basically her description of what you see in this video. Let`s listen to


ALVAREZ: Our investigation has determined that officer Van Dyke was on the
scene for less than 30 seconds before he started shooting.

In addition to the fact that all evidence indicates that he began shooting
approximately six seconds after getting out of his vehicle.

An analysis of the video establishes that 14 to 15 seconds passed from the
time the defendant fired his first shot to clear visual evidence of a final

For approximately 13 of those seconds, Laquan was lying on the ground. On
the right – of the eight or more officers on the scene, it was only the
defendant who fired his weapon.


O`DONNELL: Marq Claxton, this is an investigation that is an examination
of about one minute of time; a little bit more than a minute in time that`s
actually relevant to the murder investigation.

This same district attorney, this same prosecutor takes over a year to get
to this point, and tonight, when she describes her case, she cites only the
dash cam video and one eyewitness.

That`s how –


O`DONNELL: Simple this case actually is –


O`DONNELL: To describe and yet she took a year to get us to tonight.

KALVEN: So imagine that this were a gang shooting –

O`DONNELL: I want to get – I want to get –

KALVEN: It`s a common tactic –

O`DONNELL: Jamie, I want to get Marq Claxton`s reaction –

KALVEN: Oh, sorry, pardon me –


O`DONNELL: As a former police officer to the –




O`DONNELL: Of this investigation and the complexity of it.

CLAXTON: Yes, it`s – you know, it`s become a much more common tactic to
use the “investigation” as more or less a stall tactic or in some cases
even a furtherance of conspiracies to do certain things in regards to
different cases themselves.

So, a lot of times when you have individuals, city managers, when you have
police officials or other investigative agencies talking about

They want to give you the impression that they`re working on this thing 24
hours a day, seven days a week nonstop. And that just isn`t the case.

And many times, as is the case obviously here, apparently up until this
point, and many times there is not that much evidence that needs to be
analyzed for a long period of time in order to make a determination as to
whether or not probable cause exists.

And I think any skilled professional dedicated and committed law
enforcement professional or state`s attorney should be able to make that
determination based on in large part – based on the video that we`ve seen
here this evening.

O`DONNELL: Marq Claxton, thank you very much for joining us tonight,
really appreciate it. Coming up, Chicago`s mayor had a meeting yesterday
with community leaders in anticipation of the release of that dash cam
video today.

Our next guest was in that meeting. And later, a last word about Donald
Trump`s lies from the “New York Times”.

The “New York Times” unlike most of the establishment news media has
finally decided to call Donald Trump`s lies, lies.


O`DONNELL: Everything that the Chicago police and the Chicago Police Union
said about the killing of Laquan McDonald a year ago was proven untrue
tonight by just a few seconds of dash cam video.

We will have more from Chicago next.



MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL, CHICAGO, ILLINOIS: I understand that the people will
be upset and will want to protest when they see this video.

But I would like to echo the comments of the McDonald family. They have
asked for calm and for those who choose to speak out to do it peacefully.


O`DONNELL: We`re joined now from Chicago by Pastor Corey Brooks, he is the
pastor of the New Beginnings Church, Chicago, and he was one of the
ministers and community leaders who met with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel

Pastor Brooks, tell us about that meeting yesterday with the mayor.

COREY BROOKS, REVEREND MINISTER: Well, yesterday, we met with the mayor
and pastors and city leaders and he wanted to talk with us about helping to
make sure that the city would stay calm.

And making sure that everyone understood that even though we have a first
amendment right to protest and to have demonstrations, he wanted us to help
make sure that if there was any chaos or confusion, that we were there to
help keep things calm. And that`s –

O`DONNELL: How would you – how would you characterize the meeting, was it

BROOKS: I would characterize the meeting as tense. I mean, anytime you`re
dealing with a situation that we`re dealing with in Chicago, it`s going to
be tense, regardless of how you try to structure to talk about it.

It`s a very tense situation and rightfully so.

O`DONNELL: And what about the – in the meeting – was there a discussion
of why it has taken Chicago over a year to get to a determination in this
case and bring these charges?

BROOKS: Absolutely. That was one of the questions that was raised and the
Mayor said that the onus was on the State Attorney`s office, Anita Alvarez
and the U.S. attorney`s office.

He said that information had been turned over to them, they were
investigating it, and it took them a year, a whole year to come to the
conclusions that they came to today.

And for most of us in Chicago, we feel like that`s insensitive, that`s not
something that should have been done.

It should – it could have been done much earlier, and probably if it
hadn`t been done earlier, we would not be in the situation that we`re in

O`DONNELL: Yes, and to be very clear, you weren`t going to have these
charges brought tonight if they weren`t forced to release that police dash
cam video, because the prosecutor admits she wouldn`t have brought the
charges even still if it weren`t for the release of that video.

Let`s listen – let`s let the prosecutor make her case now about why it has
taken her over a year to get to this point in what turns out to be a very
simple murder case. Let`s listen to this.


ALVAREZ: When you`re investigating police officer cases, it`s not the same
as you`re investigating one gang member shooting another. It just isn`t.

There – you know, you have to understand the use of force model. You have
to understand how officers are trained. Officers do have a right to use
reasonable force.

They can use deadly force when appropriate. So you have to understand all
of that before you look at a case.

You simply can`t – and a case like this can`t make a split-second decision
by watching the video one time and determine what occurred.

There were countless number of witnesses that were interviewed in this
case. Physical evidence looked for. Looking for videotapes from the
businesses surrounding there.

There was a lot of work done on this case. An absolute lot of work, and
that adds to the year that we`ve been investigating.


O`DONNELL: Jamie Kalven, she didn`t show a lot of work today in bringing
these charges. She relied on exactly one eyewitness and the videotape to
describe why she brought the charges today.

And the independent civilian review board that looked into it took less
than two weeks to get this officer removed from duty, from police duties
after this incident occurred.

KALVEN: Actually, I`m not sure that`s accurate about the Independent
Police Review Authority. They`re conducting an investigation.

And, in fact, their investigations take on average 18 months in police
shooting cases to come to a determination. Which is almost invariably a
determination that the shooting was justified.

No, but in the accounts – Jamie, in accounts I saw today, they presented
their findings as such as they were about 14 days after the shooting, and
at that point, it was taken over by prosecutors –

KALVEN: Yes, I would be –

O`DONNELL: And at that point, he was removed based on their findings at
that stage.

KALVEN: Right, and I would be highly skeptical about that assertion. I
don`t have independent knowledge there, it`s not the case.

But you know, it was more than 14 days after the shooting that we got the
tip from somebody close to the investigation that they were very concerned
that it would not be vigorously investigated by the Independent Police
Review Authority.

So, I think this may be, you know, a new narrative, a new narrative frame
for the city administration about how they`ve handled the case.

BROOKS: If I may add –

KALVEN: But, you know –

O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Pastor Brooks –

BROOKS: If I can just add something there. I hear you, what you`re
saying, but if you have enough information to settle a case for $5 million


BROOKS: I would think that you have enough information to bring about
charges. And if you could do that in that amount of time, then why
couldn`t you bring charges in the same amount of time.

That`s the thing that baffles a lot of people here in Chicago.

O`DONNELL: And Joy Reid, the prosecutor uses this very colorful language
that you can`t make a split-second decision by watching the video one time.
OK, well, how about watching it a 1,000 times –

REID: Right –


O`DONNELL: And getting this done in a month, because this takes one minute
to watch each time you watch it.

REID: Yes, and I think the entire video is like 20 minutes long. And –


REID: Here`s the thing. And this is why so many Americans are troubled by
these cases and by the general issue of police-involved shootings.

American citizens are prosecuted every single day, and it very rarely takes
more than a few days for prosecutors to decide that a citizen is
prosecutable for a crime.

The bar for police is so insurmountably high that in order to bring a
prosecution even in the case where your eyes are looking at the video and
telling you what happened, where it seems blatantly obvious what happened.

The bar is so incredibly high, and the reluctance of prosecutors to bring
these cases is so plain, the agony with which they go through.

The agony they go through in order to bring these cases is so clear that
citizens have now come to expect no justice in a case that even seems
clear, whether it`s the Rodney King case, where you`re watching the beating
happen and it takes the federal government to step in.

Whether it`s the Amadou Diallo case, whether it`s this case, the confidence
that the citizenry has in our prosecutors and in due process is eroded when
you need 400 days to determine that what people are seeing on a video is
what they`re seeing on a video.

O`DONNELL: I just want to get a quick last word from each of our Chicago
guests. If this dash cam video did not exist, would the police lie that
this officer was threatened, would that lie have survived and would there
be charges tonight?

Jamie Kalven, you go first.

KALVEN: It`s hard to imagine that the police narrative wouldn`t have
survived absent the video. And I think just following on the last comment,
you know, there are two dimensions of police accountability.

One are the acts, the alleged abuses. The other, and it`s critical to
addressing these problems is the institutional response.

And here, I think, the institutional response betrays all sorts of
profound, systemic problems that actually breed and shield police abuse.

O`DONNELL: Pastor Corey Brooks, if that video did not exist, where would
we be tonight?

BROOKS: If that video did not exist, we would not be here tonight, we
would not be talking about this case. It would be something that is behind

It would be settled already with a $5.2 million settlement and no one else
would have heard about it, it would have been swept under the carpet and we
would be going about our own daily routines here in Chicago.

And unfortunately that happens quite often.

O`DONNELL: Well, I suppose if there`d been a settlement, it`d be a lot
less than $5 million –


O`DONNELL: Because the $5 million was based on the video which they had
seen at that point when they – when they made that settlement. Pastor
Corey Brooks –


O`DONNELL: Jamie Kalven from Chicago, thank you both very much for joining
us, very valuable tonight and Joy Reid as always, thank you for joining us

Up next, the tense situation along the Mediterranean Sea is even worse now
that Turkey has shot down a Russian bomber today. Now they work to keep
the situation from escalating.


O`DONNELL: Today, President Obama and French President Francois Hollande
met at the White House promising a united front against the Islamic State.


group, ISIL or DASH in its murderous ideology pose a serious threat to all
of us. It cannot be tolerated, it must be destroyed and we must do it


O`DONNELL: The situation was complicated today when Turkish Air Force
shutdown a Russian Fighter Jet near the Syrian border. Turkish officials
say the plane violated their airspace and ignored ten warnings to leave.

Russian Military officials deny that claim saying that the jet was
conducting an operation against ISIS. At least one of the Russian pilots
was killed after ejecting and another was killed during in a rescue

President Vladimir Putin responded to the attack by saying, quote, “The
loss today is a stab in the back carried out by the accomplices of
terrorists. Today`s tragic event will have significant consequences
including for Russo-Turkish relations.” At the white house, President
Obama said this –


PRES. OBAMA: Turkey, like every country, has a right to defend its
territory and its air space. I think it is very important right now for us
to make sure that both the Russians and the Turks are talking to each
other, find out exactly what happened and take measures to discourage any
kind of escalation.

I do think that this points to an ongoing problem with the Russian
operations in the sense that they are operating very close to a Turkish
border and they are going after moderate opposition that are supported by
not only Turkey but a wide-range of countries.


O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Christopher Dickey, Foreign Editor for “The
Daily Beast” and an MSNBC Contributor. Also with us, Laura Haim, White
House Correspondent and U.S. Bureau Chief For Canal Plus.

Christopher, first of all, thank you very much for all of that reporting
you did for us, standing out in the Paris for the last week. A grim
duty. But, what I just heard the President say, he clearly seemed to have
picked Turkey`s side over Russia in this situation today.

member of NATO. I do not think he could exactly pick the Russian side on
this. But, I think they are very, very worried that this is going to
escalate. You kept hearing him say, “Let us not let the situation
escalate.” Because it takes us back to an era that starts to feel like the
cold war.


DICKEY: Where you got a NATO ally, shooting down a Russian plane. All
these aviation warfare going on right – right on the edge of NATO. I
think that is very frightening.

O`DONNELL: But, they are also, at the same time, trying to Russia to
cooperate with them in this attack on ISIS. So –

DICKEY: Well, not only on the attack on ISIS, but also in finding a way to
get rid of Assad, eventually.


DICKEY: In some kind of –

O`DONNELL: Yes. In more importantly in a way.

DICKEY: And, in the meantime, nobody is talking about Crimea and what is
going on in Ukraine. So, it has become a very, very complicated chess
board out there in the Middle East and in Eastern Europe.

And, I do not think anybody has really figured out how to deal with it,
including Putin. I do not think he knows exactly what he wants to do now.
I do not think he thought that the Turks would ever shoot down a Russian

O`DONNELL: Yes. He did not have a particularly sharp reaction to it

DICKEY: It took him all day to respond.


DICKEY: All day to respond. And, they kept saying no, “It was ground


DICKEY: “It is something else.”


DICKEY: And, then eventually he said, “It was a stab in the back.”

O`DONNELL: Right. He kind of did not want to admit that they could have a
plane taken down that way. Laura Haim, you asked one of the key questions
at the press conference today. Let us listen to that.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE PRESS: (Translated to English) Mr. President, the
Americans have some special forces in Syria. Beyond the words and beyond
what is happening, are you going to send some special forces as well to
Syria? Are you considering some ground intervention there?

France will not intervene militarily on the ground. It is for the local
forces to do so. We have been supporting them for a number of months. We
will continue to do so.


O`DONNELL: Laura, was there any consideration that France would commit
ground troops.

problem, Lawrence and that is the key issue. France does not want to put
ground troops in Syria. They want the Americans to go there. They are
asking a lot of people to go there.

And, basically, they absolutely do not want ground troops in Syria, even
French special forces for the moment. It is completely out of question.
What do they want? They want local countries, Arab countries to go to
Syria and to try to do the job. And, it is going to be a problem, because
at this moment, they want more bombings on key cities.

They bombed today the west of Mosul. They bombed the Hazir Reka in Syria.
They really think that with our forces, it is going to happen. And, ISIS
is going to be concerned. They do not want ground forces to reinforce
that. And, again, they are trying to beat the coalition. We are going to
see what is going to happen in the next days or weeks.

O`DONNELL: And, Christopher, trying to get so-called local forces to take
the place of American or French ground troops in this situation has been a
kind of wishful thought for a while now.

And, I can understand how the Paris attacks would strengthen French resolve
in terms of air strikes, strengthen the American resolve in terms of air
strikes, but how do the French attacks create any more momentum toward
getting people on the ground there to fight against the Islamic State?

DICKEY: It does not have anything to do with getting more people on the
ground to fight the Islamic State. I mean, basically, the people who have
been fighting it are going to be the people who keep fighting it. They are
going to be Shia Militias that are, basically, being directed by Iran.
They are going to be operating in IRAQ.

There is going to be something of a resurgent Iraqi army with some training
and support from the United States. And, then you got the Kurds, the Iraqi
Kurds and the Syrian Kurds moving in from various angles towards Raqqa in
fact and toward the key strong holds of the Islamic State.

All of that means that, in fact, some of the territory of Islamic State is
shrinking, but not enough to affect something like the attacks in Paris.
And, in fact, the more it shrinks, arguably, the more ISIS will feel it
needs to strike out in France and Europe, maybe in the United States.

PINSKY: Laura Haim, quickly, before we go, how is President Hollande`s
tour trying to strengthen the alliance. How is that playing in France?

HAIM: When he made him the negotiator in chief, meaning that today he was
in Washington, tomorrow he was going to See Angela Merkel in Germany. Then
he is going to Moscow to see Vladimir Putin.

Then he is going to see the Chinese President, that maybe we just find out
he might go to Saudi Arabia. We do not know yet. He is really trying to
go country to country and to build up a coalition and to try to have a
united message, which is done there all over the world in its fight against

There was something very quickly I wanted to tell you, Lawrence. We asked
the French advisers about – how are you going to defeat ISIS? What is the
sign of victory? And, they did not answer. They said, “We do not know.
It might take days, months or maybe years.”

O`DONNELL: Laura Haim and Christopher Dickey, thank you both for joining
us tonight.

Up next, what happens if Bashar al-Assad does leave Syria. And, tonight`s
last word, the “New York Times” and the “Washington Post” have decided to
call Donald Trump`s lies, lies.

You are looking at live video from Chicago where peaceful protests continue
tonight after the release of that police dash cam video showing what
prosecutors are calling the murder of Laquan McDonald by a Chicago police



O`DONNELL: French President Hollande and President Obama said today, they
are in agreement on the best way to bring about peace in Syria.


PRES. OBAMA: President Hollande and I agree that the best way to bring
peace to Syria is through the principles reaffirmed in Vienna, which
require active Russian support for a cease-fire and a political transition
away from Assad to a democratically-elected government that can unite the
Syrian people against terrorism.



PRES. HOLLANDE: (Translated to English) Like we have said and we can
repeat it, Bashar al-Assad cannot be the future of Syria. We must work on
that transition. A transition where Bashar al-Assad plays no role, because
he has been the problem. So, he cannot be the solution.


O`DONNELL: Of course, the Syrian President Basha al-Assad still has the
backing of Russia and Iran. Joining us now is Andrew Tabler, author of “In
The Lion`s Den: An Eyewitness Account Of Washington`s Battle with Syria.”

Mr. Tabler, how much of this is wishful thinking. The way I watch these
people talk about removing Assad for years now, I just – it is hard to
imagine what they think happens next that will make that happen.

ANDREW TABLER, SYRIAN EXPERT: That is a very good point. What we know is
that they are going to try to arrange a cease-fire and negotiations within
one month. And, then somehow cobble together some sort of national unity-
like government in six months and then hold elections in 18 months.

Cease-fires have not worked in Syria before. A national unity government
seems far fetch and elections in Syria quite frankly are, and I observed
two of them myself, a joke. So, I really do not know how they can
transition out of that –

O`DONNELL: So, how would you compare this nation-building dream that these
people outside of Syria have for Syria. How would you compare that nation-
building project to the nation building we engaged in or tried to engage
in, in Iraq? Is Syria more difficult to do that than Iraq was?

TABLER: It is more difficult. There are more moving parts. It is also
more difficult in a sense because we do not have ground forces there. You
know, of course, the U.S. by invading Iraq in a sense broke it in a way.

And, then there were some tools to fix it. In Syria, there is – the
unintended consequences of standing by and watching it devolve. And, I am
afraid that is where the Obama Administration is at moment.

O`DONNELL: And, so, they have this timetable that is very – it is very
close in time. And, they expect actual things to start happening in
January. And, they expect Assad to voluntarily engage in a timetable
starting in January that would lead to his removal.

TABLER: Right.

O`DONNELL: What are the prospects of that, and what about the Russian and
Iranian peace in this?

TABLER: I would say, the chances are slim that you can get Assad to go on
his own. The Russians – the role that they play – they prop up the Assad
regime militarily. I think the question is, is their intervention so
costly that they turn on Assad and make some sort of arrangement?

We have quite frankly do not know. But, the principles in Vienna are
sound. Assad does have to go as part of a final solution to put the pieces
of the country back together again.

O`DONNELL: If he goes –

TABLER: But the question – But on how to get rid of him is the hard part.

O`DONNELL: If he goes, we would be trading chaos for worse chaos or less

TABLER: Well, that is just it. Nobody wants catastrophic collapse, and
that is not going to happen now at the Russian – The silver lining in the
Russian intervention, the catastrophic collapse is put off for now. What
we want is a managed transition, maybe even a controlled transition of

But, it is difficult to do without the U.S. having any kind of ground
forces inside of Syria. Perhaps, via neighboring country is possible, but
you have to agree on that settlement. And, the international community
does not agree to this day, and the Syrian parties do not agree. So, I do
not expect that we are going to meet the timetable laid out in Vienna.

O`DONNELL: Andrew Tabler, thanks for joining us tonight.

TABLER: My pleasure.

O`DONNELL: Coming up, the “New York Times” issues a challenge today to
interviewers of Donald Trump, “It is time to call a lie a lie.”



O`DONNELL: In Paris, the chief prosecutor revealed today that the raid
that killed the ringleader of the Paris attacks probably thwarted another
attack. The prosecutor also revealed that there are now two suspects
linked to the attacks, who are on the run. A court in Belgium issued an
international arrest warrant for 30-year-old Mohammed Abrini. NBC`s Chris
Jansing has the latest from Paris. Chris.

CHRIS JANSING, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Lawrence, before today, we had never
heard of 30-year-old Mohammed Abrini. But, now he is on essentially what
is the most wanted list, because his picture is plastered everywhere across

Taken from surveillance video, extensive video at a gas station about an
hour and a half north of here along the highway to Paris. The picture is
taken two days before the attacks and he was driving a Renault Clio. The
passenger in that car, Europe`s most wanted, Salah Abdeslam, who of course
has been the target of a massive manhunt.

A lot of it focused in Belgium, where they have more than a thousand police
officers assigned just to him. Police say both men are considered armed
and dangerous, but they are hoping someone will see these pictures and give
them information that will lead them to these two wanted men.

In the meantime, the Paris prosecutor also had new information on
Abdelhamid Abaaoud, who was killed in a raid in Saint-Denis last Tuesday
night into Wednesday morning. They say later that day, Wednesday or
Thursday, he planned to take his suicide vest into the business district
here in Paris and kill more innocent people.

So, that raid may well have thwarted yet another terrorist attack. They
also have a fascinating time line where they are following his cell phone.
They believe he was one of the shooters in the restaurants and cafes where
people died, including one just five minutes from here, where the single
American was killed.

And, they also believed that afterwards, he went back to the scene, in the
scenes of those restaurants and caf‚, back to the scene of the Bataclan,
where 89 people were killed.

Finally, one last look at the wide net that they are spreading here all
across France with 1,233 searches, 165 people taken into custody, 124
people indicted. Among them, the landlord of that apartment in Saint-
Denis. Police say he had been telling them for days that he did not know
he was harboring terrorists. Clearly, they did not believe him.

O`DONNELL: Chris Jansing, thanks. Coming up, the last word tonight about
how T.V. interviewers should handle Donald Trump.



O`DONNELL: The mouth tonight`s “Last Word.” The “New York Times” is mad
as hell and cannot take it anymore from Donald Trump. The “Times” is
finally calling Donald Trump`s lies, lies.

In a condemning editorial today, the “Times” compared Donald Trump to one
of the worst, most damnable liars in American political history, 1950`s
Republican Senator, Joseph McCarthy.

Also today, the “Washington Post” decided to call the Trump`s lies, lies,
the day after Trump tried to use an old “Washington Post” article to
justify the worst lie he has told.


TRUMP: I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down. And, I
watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people
were cheering as that building was coming down.


O`DONNELL: He is lying, of course, he never saw that and thousands of
thousands of people did not do that. It never happened. And, in today`s
editorial, “The Washington Post” said “Mr. Trump spreads the lie that
thousands of American Muslims openly celebrated the 2001 attacks on the
World Trade Center. In fact, there were no such celebrations.”

Donald trump lies because he knows he can get away with it. The most
impolite candidate in American political history relies on the politeness
of his interviewers to get away with lying.


misspeak last night?

TRUMP: It did happen. I saw it. It was on television.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You saw that with your own eyes?

TRUMP: George, it did happen.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Police say it did not happen.

TRUMP: There were people that were cheering on the other side of New
Jersey where you have large Arab populations. They were cheering as the
World Trade Center came down. And, I know it might be not politically
correct to you to talk about it.

But, there were people cheering as that building came down, as those
buildings came down. And, that tells you something. It was well covered
at the time, George. Now, I know they do not like to talk about it.

But, it was well covered at the time. There were people over in New Jersey
that were watching it, heavy Arab populations that were cheering as the
buildings came down. Not good.

STEPHANOPOULOS: As I said, the police say it did not happen. But, I want
to move on right now –


O`DONNELL: Donald Trump knows that George cannot tell his audience that
Trump`s lying there, because the industry convention of Sunday morning
political chat is that they never call a lie, a lie. That is just too
impolite for Sunday mornings.

And, Trump exploits that politeness. But, it is not just politeness at
work. Donald Trump gets good ratings on these shows. And, if one of the
hosts tells Trump he is lying in the middle of an interview, that host will
never get a chance to interview Donald Trump again, but his competitors

The interview routine has now been left – has now become, let Trump tell a
big lie and then ask him some inane time-wasting question about poll
numbers. And, let us just stipulate here that every question to any
candidate about poll numbers is an inane waste of time, and utter failure
of the imagination.

Asking a candidate a question about poll numbers means you have already
asked every question about governing policy that you can possibly think of.
Donald Trump knows he has an open invitation to appear on this show, which,
of course, he will never accept. Because he also knows that he would not
get away with a single lie here.

Donald Trump knows there is no politeness limitation here that would
inhibit me from calling him a liar, as I have done, many times for many
years. And, as the “New York Times” and “The Washington Post” are now
finally doing. Donald Trump also knows that I am happy to keep doing this
show without ever getting the ratings bump of an incoherent Trump

The time has come for Donald Trump`s T.V. interviewers to tell him that he
is lying as soon as he floats his next lie on T.V. If they do not, they
risk becoming accomplices of a lying demagogue. In its editorials today
about Donald Trump`s lies, the “New York Times” issued this challenge to
Donald Trump`s interviews.

“History teaches that failing to hold a demagogue to account is a dangerous
act. It is no easy task for journalists to interrupt Mr. Trump with facts,
but ut us an important one.” And, that is tonight`s “Last Word.” Chris
Hayes is up next.


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