The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 12/17/2015

Guests:
Erroll Southers, Pete Williams, Ari Melber, David Corn, Matt Lewis, Josh Barro, Tom Davis
Transcript:

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL
Date: December 17, 2015
Guest: Erroll Southers, Pete Williams, Ari Melber, David Corn, Matt Lewis,
Josh Barro, Tom Davis

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: Trump gushed – hosted a lengthy live interview with
Donald Trump, but fawning mutual appreciation society interview in which
Alex Jones told Donald Trump that about 90 percent of his listeners support
Trump for president.

Trump gushed to Alex Jones about his amazing reputation, and especially all
the stuff you`ve done on Sandy Hook about how it was all a giant hoax.

That didn`t come up, right? But that`s where Donald Trump was. Florida
Atlantic University finally today started to sever ties with the Alex Jones
corner of the conspiracy theory, right?

The fringe in this case was too much for that one university in Florida,
it`s not apparently too much, though, for the guy next in line to be the
Republican nominee for president.

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

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Rachel, I`m sure Alex Jones and
Donald Trump found complete agreement on President Obama`s birth.

MADDOW: Yes, exactly. You know, Donald Trump doesn`t want to talk about
the birth certificate thing anymore, but it was really his first foray into
presidential politics.

O`DONNELL: Yes, complete –

MADDOW: Yes –

O`DONNELL: Invention, yes –

MADDOW: Yes, thank you Lawrence –

O`DONNELL: Thank you Rachel –

MADDOW: Thanks –

O`DONNELL: Thank you. Well, why would Vladimir Putin want the most
ignorant and gullible candidate running for president of the United States
to win?

Why would he want that? And why is Glenn Beck saying he`s not going to
vote.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump seems to have a fan over in the “Kremlin”.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Drew some praise from Russian President Vladimir
Putin.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I`m not afraid of a guy riding
around on a horse without his shirt.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was asked about the GOP frontrunner in Moscow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said he is a bright personality, a talented person,
no doubt about it.

DONALD TRUMP, CHAIRMAN & PRESIDENT, TRUMP ORGANIZATIONS & FOUNDER, TRUMP
ENTERTAINMENT RESORTS: We both got very good ratings the other night on
“60 Minutes”.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC: The admiration appears to be mutual.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that they`re just very similar personalities.

TRUMP: Putin is a nicer person than I am. I think I`d get along well with
him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What`s with the bromance?

GLENN BECK, TELEVISION PERSONALITY: I will not vote for Trump, I won`t
vote for Hillary either. I will not vote.

TRUMP: Big deal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: We now know who Vladimir Putin would like to be staring down as
the next president of the United States.

It should come as no surprise that Putin wants his rival on the world stage
to be the most ignorant president in history.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Well, it`s an amazing statistic. The press is going to have to
check it because what do I know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Here`s what Vladimir Putin said about Donald Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): He is a very
flamboyant man, very talented, no doubt about that.

He`s an absolute leader of the presidential race, as we see it today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Donald Trump then once again proved his stunning ignorance of
the world by saying, it was an honor – that was his word – an honor to be
complimented by the imperialistic dictator of Russia.

He also called Vladimir Putin highly respected. Those were Trump`s words,
highly respected.

Needless to say, Trump supporters in the media and elsewhere did not attack
Donald Trump for calling Vladimir Putin highly respected, the way they
obviously would attack any Democrat or anyone else in politics for calling
Vladimir Putin highly respected.

Now that Putin has seen how easy it is, so easy, to trick Donald Trump into
complimenting him, he must be all the more eager to start negotiating with
such a simple mind over the removal of sanctions that President Obama has
imposed on Russia.

At the same time, Trump was calling Vladimir Putin highly respected, he was
calling Glenn Beck a dog.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BECK: If they put Donald Trump in – try to put him in office, if that`s
what the people want there, you`re going to see an end to the Republican
Party. It will just be over.

There`ll just be nothing left.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: After that, Donald Trump tweeted, “Glenn Beck got fired like a
dog by “Fox”. “TheBlaze” is failing and he wanted to have me on his show,
I said no, because he is irrelevant.”

For the record, no one has ever fired a dog, and secondly, all business
reports indicate that Glenn Beck`s media empire including “TheBlaze” are
making him way richer than anyone who has ever worked at “Fox News”.

Today, Glenn Beck said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BECK: I won`t vote for Trump. If it`s Hillary-Trump, I will not vote for
Trump. I won`t vote for Hillary either. I will not vote.

I`ve stopped putting my name on people I don`t believe in. I don`t
understand how people could say and stand in those small government
constitutional tea parties and then say, I am for this guy.

The only reason why they`re doing it is because they`re angry. What we
need is somebody to articulate the American dream.

Have you heard Donald Trump articulate the American dream? Have you heard
him teach the American people about the constitution?

Have you heard him articulate –

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don`t think he mentioned the constitution –

BECK: Have you heard him articulate and be able to actually make a case
for who we are as a people?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining us now, David Corn, Washington Bureau Chief for “Mother
Jones” and an Msnbc political analyst.

Also with us, Josh Barro, correspondent for the “New York Times” and an
Msnbc contributor, and Matt K. Lewis, senior contributor for “The Daily
Caller” and a columnist for “The Week”.

David Corn, help me. Why would Vladimir Putin want Donald Trump to be the
next president of the United States?

DAVID CORN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, MOTHER JONES: You know, this would be
really entertaining if it was just a Netflix series.

O`DONNELL: Yes –

(LAUGHTER)

CORN: But it may well be one day. I`m sure Trump is already selling the
rights. But for Trump, not to quite recognize that being complimented by
Putin is not actually a compliment, it`s pretty stunning for the guy who
wrote the best business book ever called “The Art of the Deal” – have you
heard of it, Lawrence?

(LAUGHTER)

I mean it was just a couple of nights ago that he didn`t know what the
nuclear triad was, which must have been great news to Putin.

He says yes, I want somebody in charge of the nuclear arsenal of the U.S.
who doesn`t really understand it. That will probably help us somehow.

It is gobsmacking (AUDIO GAP 00:01:35-39) but yet, you know, Trump isn`t
the greatest. He`s the smartest, he`s the most intelligent person who has
ever run for president.

O`DONNELL: So, Matt Lewis, Donald Trump now has maybe 35 percent
supporters, so among Republican voters and voters leaning Republican.

Does that mean that today those 35 percent became converts to that world in
which Vladimir Putin is highly respected? Do they now think that Vladimir
Putin is highly respected?

MATT LEWIS, WRITER, THE DAILY CALLER & CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, THE WEEK: It`s
weird. This is actually someone who has been – this – no, this is
something that`s been around for a while.

There`s a strain of this sort of paleo-conservative movement that likes
Putin, that thinks that he`s tough, that he`s trying to restore
Christianity in the western world and that we should be allied with him
against radical Islam.

Pat Buchanan, a few years ago wrote a column pretty much to that effect.
Look, I`m old enough to remember the Soviet Union, and I know that Putin
was a KGBA agent.

And you know, the invasion of Ukraine and all of that. He`s an
authoritarian. He reminds me a lot of Donald Trump actually.

I would say, though, in fairness, it is nice to hear – it was almost
diplomatic. It was nice to hear a leader of another country say something
nice about an American politician. So there was something nice about that.

(LAUGHTER)

O`DONNELL: Oh, OK –

JOSH BARRO, NEW YORK TIMES: About Donald Trump?

O`DONNELL: All right, now, you know, you said there`s some fans of
Vladimir Putin out there. Donald Trump is one of them, and he has been a
fan of Vladimir Putin before this. Let`s listen to Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I would get along with Putin. I`ve dealt with Russia –

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You think you can get –

TRUMP: Putin hates –

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Along with Putin? –

TRUMP: I think I`d get along with him fine. I think in terms of
leadership, he`s getting an “A” and our president is not doing so well –

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK –

TRUMP: They did not look good together. He does not like Obama at all.
He doesn`t respect Obama at all, and I`m sure that Obama doesn`t like him
very much.

But I think that I would probably get along with him very well and I don`t
think we`d be having the kind of problems that we`re having right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: So, Josh Barro, there`s the frontrunner for the Republican
presidential nomination giving Vladimir Putin an “A” for invading Ukraine
and an “A” for propping up the Assad regime.

And an “A” for all sorts of other things that Vladimir Putin is doing
around the world.

BARRO: Well, I think that reflects two things. One is a trope that`s not
limited to Donald Trump.

You hear from a lot of Republicans about how basically Obama is weak and
his weakness is perceived by foreign leaders and if we just had a strong
guy in there, then we`d be able to deal with Putin man-to-man and he
wouldn`t give us so much trouble anymore.

So, I think that`s one of the things he`s reflecting. But another is a
real substantive policy disagreement, not just with the Obama
administration, but with much of the Republican field about our interests
versus Russia`s interests in much of the world.

The way Trump sees it, you know, we hate ISIS, Russia hates ISIS, why not
let Russia go in, meddle in Syria so we don`t have to do it.

That`s – Donald Trump says that explicitly. There`s something of that in
what Ted Cruz is saying, too, he wouldn`t put it quite that way. But Cruz
basically says this isn`t our fight, let`s let other people deal with this.

So I think that it reflects actually a real substantive thing where he
thinks that something Russia is doing in the Middle East is more aligned
with U.S. interest than people in the establishment on either the
Republican or Democratic sides believe.

O`DONNELL: Now, it seems Donald Trump is the biggest Republican fan of
Vladimir Putin since the last Republican president.

Let`s listen to George W. Bush and see if this sounds a little bit like
what we`ve been hearing from Donald Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE WALKER BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: And
I looked at the man in the eye, I found him to be very straightforward and
trustworthy.

And we had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul.
He`s a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his
country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: David Corn, so this could –

CORN: Yes –

O`DONNELL: Be a little trip back to that era.

(LAUGHTER)

CORN: I don`t know if it`s going back to the future or ahead with
ignorance. But, you know, I think Josh, my pal Josh here, gives Trump
perhaps a little too much credit.

I don`t know if there`s a lot of policy analysis that`s underlying his
comments about Putin. I get the sense that it`s like, we`re all just big
dogs, bold names, you know in the Greek, and living in one giant global
green room.

And I like him, he likes me, we`re both winners. And that that`s the way
he sees this. Because at the same moment that he can praise Putin, he`s
out there saying that the Iran deal is the worst deal that ever happened.

Well, that was a deal that was cut with Russia, you know, working with the
United States and other nations, too. So I think it`s very much a jumble
inside or underneath that orange glow of Donald Trump`s.

And but basically, you know, he`s probably reacting to the personality type
and seeing Putin in the way he looks in a mirror, another strong man that
he thinks he is.

O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what John McCain said about this today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARIA BARTIROMO, FOX BUSINESS: Putin mentioned Donald Trump? Said he –

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Yes –

BARTIROMO: Welcomes – you know, Donald Trump wants better relations with
Russia and we welcome that.

MCCAIN: That`s a match made in heaven.

(LAUGHTER)

BARTIROMO: A match made in heaven, Putin and Trump you mean.

MCCAIN: Absolutely, I can hardly wait.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Josh Barro, no one can keep a straight face when this –

BARRO: Yes –

O`DONNELL: Subject comes up.

BARRO: Yes! – no, I mean, it`s as you pointed out earlier. It`s
something that no other politician in this country could get away with.

And I think people are at a loss. Like John McCain could get all outraged
and express his outrage, but that doesn`t work.

So, I think people are left with nothing to do but shake their heads and
laugh. But I think, you know, John McCain, like a lot of people in the
Republican establishment, they`ve been toying with the idea that if they
just watch this happen for a while, Donald Trump has to implode sooner or
later.

That`s implicit in Ted Cruz`s strategy that he`s just sort of waiting here,
waiting to pick up Donald Trump`s supporters when they finally grow tired
of him.

But I think we`ve walked past the point where it`s become clear that
something that should be fatal. Like talking about how wonderful Vladimir
Putin is will ever actually do Donald Trump in.

O`DONNELL: Matt Lewis, Glenn Beck seems to be doing what a lot of Trump
supporters are not doing, and that is listening carefully to the things
that sound like policy coming out of Donald Trump.

And Glenn Beck is hearing way too many what he calls progressive policies
coming out of Donald Trump, and so he doesn`t think he`s a conservative, he
doesn`t think he`s a legitimate Republican.

He will not vote if that`s who`s on the top of the Republican ticket. Is
that – is there a time in this calendar where what Donald Trump has
actually said about policy, and sometimes continues to say about policy
will actually start to separate him from his supporters?

LEWIS: I don`t know about that. But look, I will say it`s fascinating
that Glenn Beck is now the voice of reason.

(LAUGHTER)

You know, a couple of years ago, you might not have anticipated this. But
I think Glenn Beck is actually exactly right.

I could not – I`ll just say, I could not in good conscious support either
Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, and I suspect that I`m not alone.

And I – and I would urge that if Donald Trump is the nominee of the
Republican Party, it could be the end of the Republican Party as we know
it.

It would be an existential crisis for the conservative movement. And I
would hope that somebody like a Marco Rubio or somebody else would run as a
third party candidate, if that is, you know, feasible to do to provide an
alternative.

Because again, if Glenn Beck is seeing through this guy that he`s not a
conservative, and that he`s gone too far for Glenn Beck, I think that says
something about how far Donald Trump and –

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But –

LEWIS: We have all gone.

O`DONNELL: Well, Matt, you –

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But –

O`DONNELL: Might – you might just have to spend election day with Glenn
Beck not voting somewhere –

LEWIS: Yes –

O`DONNELL: And –

LEWIS: I might sleep in –

O`DONNELL: Yes –

LEWIS: I might sleep in that day –

CORN: Yes, look –

O`DONNELL: Matt –

CORN: Well, wait a second – but Matt –

O`DONNELL: Go ahead quickly –

CORN: But Matt, would you really – you know, the choice is who is going
to control the government. I know how much you hate Democrats and liberals
and Hillary Clinton.

But you have to admit she`s at least sane. And if the choice is a sane
person and a not sane person, don`t you have an obligation to participate
in that decision?

LEWIS: I could – you know, I – to be honest with you, I could not in
good conscious do it because, you know, the Supreme Court picks because –
let`s just take the issue of abortion.

I am strongly pro life. I could not in good conscious vote for somebody
who is pro choice and support them. But I also can`t see myself voting for
Donald Trump either.

O`DONNELL: Well, Matt, the good news for you, in all the states I have
voted in, really when you look at the presidential ballot, there`s always
like 15, 17 names on it.

LEWIS: Yes –

O`DONNELL: These little – you know, it`s not just third parties, it`s 15
parties –

LEWIS: Isn`t there a Deez Nuts running? –

O`DONNELL: And there`s a lot –

LEWIS: Or something –

O`DONNELL: Of real, right-wing categories there, and there`s a lot of
left-wing categories on that ballot.

There`s a lot of other choices you can make if you need to. Josh Barro and
Matt Lewis, thank you both very much for joining me tonight –

LEWIS: Thank you –

O`DONNELL: I really appreciate it –

BARRO: Thank you, Lawrence –

O`DONNELL: Coming up, Paul Ryan facing his first big test, and I mean a
big test as speaker of the house tomorrow.

And we have an Msnbc exclusive report, an update on the state investigation
about the death of a man in Virginia who was tased by police repeatedly and
then died.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Thirty two-year-old Martin Shkreli was arrested in New York
City this morning. Shkreli is the young brash CEO of a pharmaceutical
company that raised the price of a life-saving drug 5,000 percent earlier
this year.

But his arrest today was for stealing from his former employer. He is out
of jail on $5 million bond, he pleaded not guilty to fraud.

Prosecutors say he lost investors money through bad trades and then stole
$11 million from the company to pay off clients and hide his losses.

Up next, Paul Ryan`s first deal as speaker is with Nancy Pelosi.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER, UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: I
feel pretty good about where we are.

Like I say, you always find out when the vote comes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Paul Ryan will find out tomorrow if the budget deal that he
agreed to with Nancy Pelosi will pass.

For some Republicans, what Paul Ryan did is exactly what got John Boehner
driven out of the speakership.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUSH LIMBAUGH, RADIO HOST: This is causing some people to wonder if they
just dreamed all that stuff about Boehner resigning.

It is his doll Nancy Pelosi still running the house and Harry Reid is still
running the Senate. The trend is not even the word here.

What is happening here is worse than betrayal. And betrayal is pretty bad,
but it`s worse than that. You know, we don`t even need a Republican Party
if they`re going to do this.

You know, just elect Democrats, just ban the Republican Party, let the
Democrats run it because that`s what`s happening anyway.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Paul Ryan is counting on at least 124 of his Republicans in the
house to join the 100 Democrats to pass the budget bill which would fund
the government through September of 2016.

But neither side is expressing confidence about votes.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you confident that you can provide the votes
necessary to get this over the finish line?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER, UNITED STATES HOUSE OF
REPRESENTATIVES: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How come? –

PELOSI: It`s up to them, they have the – they have the majority. They
have the majority. They have the legislation. We have some serious
objections which we`ve been made known all along, so we`ll see.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining us now, former Congressman Tom Davis, Republican from
Virginia. Tom Davis, can you explain to Rush Limbaugh what`s going on in
this budget deal and why Paul Ryan had to reach a deal with Nancy Pelosi?

TOM DAVIS, FORMER CONGRESSMAN: Sure, they`ve got to keep the government
open at this point. They`ve got – they`ve lifted the ban on exporting
oil, which has been in effect for 35 years.

This is very important to oil-producing states and a lot of Republicans,
EPA funding is at the lowest since 1989. Under this, they`ve changed the
Visa Waiver Program.

There`s a lot of things in here for conservatives that I like, but for the
Rush Limbaugh`s, the world is never enough.

If it doesn`t cure cancer, they`re going to find a way to be against this,
it`s part of the business model. And this is a compromise across the way.

A lot of Democrats are unhappy with this. But I think Paul is going to
deliver the votes tomorrow.

O`DONNELL: And why couldn`t Paul Ryan do this with Republican votes?

DAVIS: Because I think – because of people like Rush Limbaugh that are
stirring up the party base, the stuff that goes around on the internet, the
misinformation that goes around on this.

Look, this is a compromise. Republicans don`t control all of government.
You got to reach an accommodation with the Democrats and there are things
to like and not to like in this.

But there are some irresistible measures in this for some of the
Republicans that they vote against this. Like the crude oil export ban
that will be lifted that are just death if Republicans were to vote against
this.

So they`ve loaded this up with some things that Republicans can`t resist.
Here`s Donald Trump`s statement about this bill.

He`s finally getting involved in Congressional action now. He issued a
written statement – someone obviously wrote this for him.

“If anyone needed more evidence of why the American people are suffering at
the hands of their own government, look no further than the budget deal
announced by Speaker Ryan in order to avoid a government shutdown.

A cowardly threat from an incompetent president. The elected Republicans
of Congress threw in the towel and showed absolutely no budget discipline.”

So, David Corn, and I think Tom Davis will back me up on this –

DAVIS: Yes –

O`DONNELL: The way – the way I`m reading that is, the Trump Limbaugh side
of the Republican Party believes that President Obama would not veto a
budget coming from a Republican Congress that he disagreed with.

CORN: Well, it also has to get through the Senate where you could hold up
some of this, too. So they need something that can pass the Senate and can
get signed.

What`s happening – what you`re seeing now – America is what used to
happen; government working and everybody being upset and disappointed at
the end result because you don`t get exactly what you want.

The tea party position for the last few years has been, if we can`t blow it
up, we don`t want it. And we don`t want to cut a deal with the president.

And so they had to give up on going after Planned Parenthood and stopping
Syrian refugees. The tax bill has some great progressive stuff in it from
middle and low income Americans.

But also has some things that actually do – that the Republicans wanted
that will blow up deficits.

So, the Republicans, you know, like to bash Democrats in deficits, but
they`re not even abiding by their own discipline on a lot of this, because
they`d rather have the tax cuts than the deficit savings.

And so it`s kind of a jumble, it`s a mess, this is a compromise, and it is.
You know, this decision was made a couple of months ago under Boehner to
not have another government shutdown.

And he said the overarching numbers and now they`ll filling in the details
beneath it –

DAVIS: Right –

CORN: And this is how we want things to happen if we have divided
government.

O`DONNELL: And Tom Davis, Rush Limbaugh wouldn`t mind a government
shutdown. He would be happy to see the Republicans force that.

And it seems like – I mean, you told me, you know how it works inside that
caucus. But it seems like there are people who still believe that if
somehow they got a fully Republican-endorsed budget through the house and
through the Senate, it went to the White House and the President vetoed it.

There are – I assume there are Republican members who firmly believe that
if that happened, the President would be entirely blamed by the public for
the resulting government shutdown.

DAVIS: Well, I mean, that may be the narrative, but as David pointed out,
you got to – you need 60 votes in the Senate to get –

O`DONNELL: Yes –

DAVIS: This through the Senate. And these numbers were set in law two
months ago before speaker Boehner left.

So, the number was already determined, this is filling in the blanks. You
may not like the number at the end of the day, but you`re not going to
change that.

Congress has already voted on that, that`s part of law. So, what you have
are business models over there in the right to stir this up.

And some members react to that. But I think you`re going to find that Paul
Ryan has got a lot of cache with members at this point and they`re going to
be able to pass it tomorrow over the objections of some of these
commentators.

O`DONNELL: And quickly –

CORN: It will be interesting – it will be interesting to see just how
many votes Ryan can corral for this. There`ll be a real measure of his
standing as a Republican leader at this point.

Nancy Pelosi will get as many votes as she thinks she needs to do what she
wants. That`s always been the case for the last few years.

O`DONNELL: David Corn and former Congressman Tom Davis, thank you both,
really appreciate it.

DAVIS: Bye –

O`DONNELL: Up next, President Obama is going to San Bernardino tomorrow,
that will be the day after former neighbor of the San Bernardino shooters
was formally charged in connection with that case.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA, U.S. PRESIDENT: I want to repeat what my team just
told me. At this moment, our intelligence and counterterrorism
professionals do not have any specific and credible information about an
attack on the homeland.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, MSNBC HOST OF “LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL”
PROGRAM: That is the president giving his second speech on terrorism this
week after a briefing at the national counterterrorism center today.
President Obama said this about the threat posed to the United States by
so-called lone actors.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. OBAMA: We are in a new phase of terrorism, including lone actors and
small groups of terrorists, like those in San Bernardino. Because they are
smaller, often self-initiating, self-motivating, they are harder to detect.
And, that makes it harder to prevent. But, just as the threat evolves, so
do we. We are constantly adapting, constantly improving, upping our game,
getting better.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Erroll Southers. He is a Counterterrorism
Expert and a professor at USC, where he teaches about home grown violent
extremism. Professor, to what the president just said, upping our game, as
he put it, against these homegrown lone actor terrorist, what more tools do
we have to up our game?

ERROLL SOUTHERS, COUNTERTERRORISM EXPERT: Well, Lawrence, what we have now
is a national terrorism advisory system that is going to give us
information based on Intel that we get from our fusion centers around the
country that can help us connect the dots better, inform the public faster
and hopefully thwart these plots. And, so, what we are looking to do in
the future is really connect even further with the community in terms of
gathering information and preventing things from happening.

PINSKY: There is a new Gallup Poll showing Americans fears on this. The
fears being killed in a mass shooting or an ISIS-inspired or planned
terrorism. Forty-seven percent are fearful of being shot or injured in an
ISIS-inspired planned terrorism. Less than that, 38 percent fear a mass
shooting.

And, professor, the statistics on this are just stunningingly different.
It is so much more likely for an American to be shot in a movie theatre by
one of these classic American, you know, wild shootings that predate any
form of ISIS or al-Qaeda terrorism in the United States that have been
going on forever, apparently, will continue to go on. The fears of those
two things are wildly disproportionate to what the actual likelihood is.

SOUTHERS: Well, they are disproportionate, Lawrence. And, they are
disproportionate because the public tends to have an outweighed
understanding of risk. And, so as we have continued focus on events like
ISIS-inspired attacks and ongoing conversations that are almost endless
about ISIS-inspired attacks, they tend to trend upward when people think
about the risk of it happening.

So, that is why you are seeing these numbers skewed this way in the polls
that are being taken. And, you are right, you know, after 9/11, many
people chose not to fly. They chose to drive, when actually flying is
safer than driving. And, so it is the focus by the media and it is the
focused on the continued conversations that tend to have these polls result
the way that they do.

O`DONNELL: I mean just for this year, for example 457 killed in mass
shootings; 19 killed in violent jihadist attacks. And, that 19 is the
single biggest number since 9/1 1, 14 of those in that one event in San
Bernardino. A typical year is single digits or low single digits, which I
do not mean to suggest in any way should give people reason to take this
less seriously.

The three deaths of the Tsarnaev brothers at the marathon in Boston that
they achieved in one explosion are something that we should be fighting to
stop. But how – is there a way, professor, that you think the public
rhetoric on this can actually bring in a perspective on how statistically
small the risk is?

SOUTHERS: There is a way to do this. And, I think we have to have a more
mature perspective of terrorism in America. You have cited some statistics
here with regard to other incidents that may occur. You know, the UK does
this quite well, and I hope we are getting to that with regards to letting
people know. We will not thwart every plot, we will not stop every attack,
but we can prevent certain things with your participation. And, so we are
getting better at what we are doing.

O`DONNELL: Professor Errol Southers, thank you very much for joining us
tonight.

Up next, a friend of one of the San Bernardino attackers is arrested on
terrorism charges. Pete Williams report is next.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: Today, federal prosecutors filed criminal charge against a
friend and former neighbor of San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook. Pete
Williams has the latest.

PETE WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Lawrence, these are the first
charges to stem from the San Bernardino shootings. But, the man charged
today, Enrique Marquez is not accused of knowing anything about that
shooting in advance, even though the prosecutors say he knew that Syed
Farook, one of the people who fired the shots in San Bernardino, had been
talking about terrorism for years.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WILLIAMS (voice-over): Two weeks ago after the shooting attack that left
14 people dead and injured 22, federal prosecutors file charge against 24-
year-old Enrique Marquez. The friend and former next door neighbor of one
of the attackers, Syed Farook.

Prosecutors say in late 2011, the two men plotted to attack Riverside
Community College, where both had been students with pipe bombs and guns.
The FBI says they also talked about throwing pipe bombs to stop traffic on
a crowded section of a state highway during rush hour, then to shoot at
people stuck in their cars.

Marquez is also charged with violating firearm laws when he bought the two
assault rifles in 2011 and 2012 that ended up being used in the San
Bernardino shooting. Under Federal Law, it is illegal for someone to buy a
gun knowing the purchase is being made for someone else. The gun store
form even warns you cannot acquire a firearm for another person.

The charges filed today say, Marquez and Farook continued to plan for
terror attacks by going to firing ranges; but that the two stopped plotting
together in late 2012 after some unrelated terror arrests in Southern
California. And, there is nothing in today`s charges to indicate that
Marquez knew about the plans for the shooting in San Bernardino earlier
this month.

He is also charged with defrauding the government with a sham marriage.
Official say Farrok`s brother also called Syed is married to a Ukrainian
woman whose sister is married to Marquez. FBI agents questioned Marquez
for at least a week after the shooting.

They say he answered questions voluntarily and did not request a lawyer.
President Obama was briefed on the national threat picture today at the
counterterrorism center and said there are no known threats of attacks. He
urged people to get on with the holidays.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. OBAMA: We cannot give in to fear or change how we live our lives.
Because that is what terrorists want. That is the only leverage that they
have.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAMS (voice-over): Earlier this week, the bodies of Syed Farook and
his wife Tashfeen Malik, who were killed in a police shoot-out were buried
in the Muslim tradition in an undisclosed cemetery miles from San
Bernardino.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WILLIAMS (on camera): It is clear from these charges that the FBI believes
that Farook was originally influenced by al-Qaeda. In fact, there is very
little reference in these charges to ISIS. And, the FBI believes that he
in turn radicalized his friend and neighbor Enrique Marquez.

Marquez was arrested this afternoon and made his first appearance in
federal court late today. It was a brief hearing. There was no plea at
this stage. But, the prosecutors are asking that he be held in jail
pending a trial and the judge is set a hearing on that issue for Monday.
Lawrence?

O`DONNELL: Pete Williams, thank you. President Obama is scheduled to go
to San Bernardino tomorrow.

Up next, an NBC exclusive report about video of police tasing a suspect who
then died.

(MUSIC PLAYING)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: We have new developments tonight in the case in Virginia, where
a man was shot by police tasers repeatedly and then died. Here is NBC
Chief Legal Correspondent Ari Melbor`s exclusive report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARI MELBER, NBC CHIEF LEGAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When video first
surfaced last month of police repeatedly tasing a man at the entry of
Virginia hospital, little was known about the 2013 incident. Police said
they planned to take Linwood Lambert inside for mental care, but after he
broke their squad car window – they tased him repeatedly while he was
cuffed and took him to jail where he died in custody.

Prosecutors are reviewing an investigation to decide whether to charge the
officers. But, new records from that inquiry and handwritten police
statements obtained exclusively by MSNBC show police made claims
contradicted by the video.

One of the three officers, Corporal Tiffany Bratton seen here outside of
her car told investigators her 15 taser discharges were necessary –
because Lambert grabbed the end of the taser pulling it several times.
But, the video does not show that ever happening. Lambert`s hands were
cuffed behind his back the whole time.

Bratton also told investigators Lambert got back up four times after four
separate tasings. But, the video shows he never got himself up. That
police statement is potentially critical, says former Federal Prosecutor
Kendall Coffey.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KENDALL COFFEY, FMR. FEDERAL COURT PROSECUTOR: An officer credibly stated
that a suspect was trying to get the taser several time, then that would
certainly justify elevating the force used by the officer.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER (voice-over): But since that activity is not shown on the video,
prosecutors could also focus on whether the officer was deliberately
misleading?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE BENJAMIN, VIRGINIA CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: In Virginia, it is a
class 1 misdemeanor. It carries up to 12 months in jail for any person to
knowingly and willfully make a materially false statement to any law
enforcement officer investigating the commission of a crime.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MELBER (voice-over): Whether prosecutors charge police for false
statements or use of force remains to be seen. Two and a half years after
the incident, the case is still open.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Ari Melber. Ari, so there is that video. Was
that what controlled the investigation of this case or did they go by
written reports or interviews? What was the most important evidence that
they have used in the investigations so far?

ARI MELBER, NBC CHIEF LEGAL CORRESPONDENT: We have obtained the entire
state investigation file and what we found is they almost completely ignore
the video. And, basically, take those statements that we just showed,
which are contradicted by it and leave them. And, that is what they
presented to prosecutors.

And, Lawrence, having gotten this information, I called these prosecutors
involved here. I have new statements from them as well. They usually do
not comment on these cases, as you and many of your viewers know, but given
that we obtained the entire file, they did.

Mark Herring, who is the second in command, essentially, said his role is
not to be looking at false statement. He said, he was not brought out to
this case to decide whether south Boston – that is the South Boston Police
in Virginia lied to state police investigators as for Tracy Martin, who is
the prosecutor who is to make this call and this is an open case.

She says the state police investigation left questions unanswered. It must
be answered questions that would not have been contemplated by the state
police investigator, she told me. And, that she says, she did not fully
develop until she have consulted extensively with colleagues. In other
words, Lawrence, these are prosecutors, that in their own careful language
are suggesting the state investigation was essentially lacking.

O`DONNELL: Uh-huh. And, they seem to be saying – I mean, if you read
between the lines of this thing, if this video never became public, this
case would be over as a possible criminal investigative matter.

MELBER: That is the complete supposition and implication of the
investigative file, which we have obtained. And, by the way, we are going
to post it on MSNBC.com; because two and a half years later, this case
remains open. It is not a who done it.

O`DONNELL: Right.

MELBER : The incident is on video. And, whether you want to charge or
clear the people involved in the incident, two and a half years is a long
time to remain open. And, in that investigative file, the summary from the
state investigators basically repeats a lot of those statements and
reiterates things that we know to be untrue based on the video.

It would be a big deal if this individual, Linwood Lambert, as you there
getting outside the police car, if he did grab an officer`s weapon. We all
know that that is something that could justify force. But, as we report,
that is not on the video. Indeed his hands were shackled behind his back
the entire time.

And later, his feet were shackled when he was put back in the car. So, we
are seeing that something sometimes people are concerned maybe a pattern.
Not only the police statements, but the next layer of investigative review
does not actually cross-examine anyone on what happened and does not even
necessarily use, Lawrence, the video.

O`DONNELL: And, this is all about the power of video, because there are no
eyewitnesses to what we are seeing there, other than the police officers,
all of whom have a story that coordinates and is not what the video shows.

MELBER: That is right. It is not what the video shows. And, the other
person involved, Linwood Lambert there, died that night. The cause of
death listed on his official autopsy was acute cocaine intoxication. But,
our reporting shows that the coroner did not know about the frequency of
tasings, only knew that some occur.

So, it is an open question for the criminal inquiry over what may have
caused the death, if it was not only cocaine. Was the 20 discharges, not
all of which reached him, but many did, were those the kind of things that
could have been precipitating factors?

But again, what we have learned now, and tonight`s the first time we are
releasing this, is that the state investigation, which took five months and
turned it over to the prosecutor does not deal with the video at all.

It does not do that investigation. It basically says, here is the police
officers` defense – which they have every right to offer. But, it says
here is their defense, do not look at the video, end of story, as far as
the state police investigation was concerned.

O`DONNELL: This is the classic old fashioned contours of cover-up before
video came into these kinds of cases. Ari Melber, thank you very much for
joining us tonight.

MELBER: Thank you, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: I really appreciate it.

Coming up, a Christmas gift for one of my favorite columnists.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: If you are betting on the next republican candidate to drop out
of the race, consider Politico reporting tonight that former Arkansas
Governor, Mike Huckabee`s presidential campaign has slashed the salaries of
his senior staff because he is not raising much money, big surprise.

His top communication`s aide also quit the campaign. Huckabee`s new
communications manager, his daughter, says the campaign is now focusing
resources on Iowa. Mike Huckabee has fallen in the polls since he kicked
Ted Cruz out of his rally with Kim Davis on September 8.

In the poll that came out immediately after the rally, Mike Huckabee was at
6 percent. Ted Cruz was at 7. They were tied. In the most recent poll
that came out last week, Ted Cruz is now at 15 percent. Mike Huckabee is
at 1 percent.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

O`DONNELL: And, now tonight`s “Last Word.” Last month, on my first night
back from a three-country trip to Africa, I talked a bit about the oddity
of adjusting to life in this country, where the most famous and richest
movie director in the world wears the same kind of shoes as a poor kid who
lives across town from him or across the country. I talked about how I
measured the wealth in the places I go to in Malawi. Shoes.

In most of the villages I visit, most of the kids do not have shoes. Shoes
are the big indicator there, not iPhones. None of the kids have phones.
And, many of them have never seen phones. Rich is relative, right? There
are a lot of people who are a lot richer than Donald Trump, like Bill Gates
and Warren Buffett. We are all a bit richer than someone.

If you want to see how much richer you are than people in Malawi, just look
down at your shoes, or your kids` shoes or anything else that you take for
granted, including food. When I talked about this, that first night back,
I did not mention why I was in Malawi, which was to deliver desks like this
one for K.I.N.D., Kids In Need of Desks, a project that we created with
UNICEF to provide desks for schools that have never had desks.

I did not say how you could contribute by going to Lastword.MSNBC.com. Did
you get that? But, I got a handwritten letter at home saying, “Lawrence,
your comments on Africa and shoes just killed me.” And, enclosed in this
envelope was a check. It is signed, but it was not made out to anyone.

It was from my friend the legendary New York Columnist Liz Smith. She
said, “I should make out the check in some way that I thought would help
those kids.” The envelope that Liz sent me had a Paul Newman stamp on it.
Now, you have to be of a certain age to know people on postage stamps.
And, Liz Smith is going strong at 92 and she knew Paul Newman, who devoted
most of his non-acting time to raising money for worthy causes.

Liz Smith has also been a great supporter of worthy causes throughout her
long life. And, she has been contributing to the K.I.N.D. Fund since we
started five years ago. And, what I love about this check, what I love
about it is that I did not ask for it. I was just telling a story about
where I had been the week before and why I was having a little bit of
trouble feeling completely present in the show that night.

And, Liz saw a need in that story I was telling and wanted to help. The
kids in that story reached through the screen and grabbed her heart. And,
so, the first official contribution to the K.I.N.D. Fund this season came
from Liz Smith without me even asking for it. And, in return, I am sending
a Christmas gift to Liz.

I am contributing a full classroom of desks in Liz Smith`s name and UNICEF
will send her an acknowledgment of that gift. You can do that with anyone
on your Christmas list. You can give a desk in their name. I am also
giving a full scholarship for a girl to finish high school in Malawi, which
is one of the giving options you will see when you go to the
lastworddesks.MSNBC.com. I am giving that in Liz`s name.

The girl`s graduation rate in Malawi is much lower than the boys and girls
education needs special support there. There are girls who are in high
school now in Malawi who know that they would not be there without your
help. We have a long way to go to keep all girls in high school in Malawi,
and a very long way to go to get desks in every school.

But, in the coming school year, there will be many more desks in those
classrooms and more girls in those classrooms. Thanks entirely to you, the
viewers of this program who see a need and want to help. And, thanks of
course to Liz Smith, who did not even have to be asked to help.

END

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