The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 05/04/15

Guests: Howard Dean, Steve Schmidt, Jonathan Capehart, Bob Ingle, GerardBiard, Suzanne Nossel

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: That does it for us tonight, we`ll 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: Rachel, as a former resident of Northern California where you grew up, can you pinpoint the time for us when Oregon became the most interesting state? (LAUGHTER) MADDOW: I know, well, for good and for ill, right? They have this completely bizarre corruption scandal, it seems like it was all going to be bad and then things just took off. I know, Oregon is the best word, political road trip in the country that we haven`t yet taken right now. O`DONNELL: Thanks Rachel. MADDOW: Thanks Lawrence. O`DONNELL: Well, tonight, we will bring you Lester Holt`s exclusive interview in Baltimore with the family of Freddie Gray, and we`ll dig into the legal details of what prosecutor Marilyn Mosby is now calling the murder of Freddie Gray. And the day after a shooting in Texas, apparently provoked by cartoons of Muhammad, the editor-in-chief of "Charlie Hebdo" will join us tonight. But first, another day, another Republican candidate for president. Actually, today, we got two more. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Two new Republican candidates, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina. CARLY FIORINA, FORMER BUSINESS EXECUTIVE, HEWLETT-PACKARD: I`m running for president -- BEN CARSON, NEUROSURGEON: I`m not a politician, I don`t want to be a politician. (APPLAUSE) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don`t want to be a politician, I am just running for president. Got it. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Carly Fiorina has lost a couple of elections. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With maybe the craziest ad of the 20 -- was it the 2010 cycle? The dean and the sheep ad -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A wolf in sheep`s clothing. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two of Governor Chris Christie`s former political allies appeared in court today. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Accused in that Bridgegate scandal -- BILL BARONI, LAW PROFESSOR & POLITICIAN: I am an innocent man. I would never risk my career for something like this. BRIDGET ANNE KELLY, FORMER DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF TO GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE: I am not a liar, and I never lied to anyone. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The lawyer also wouldn`t rule out subpoenaing Governor Christie. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am going to subpoena anybody who I feel necessary to establish my client`s innocence. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shootout outside an Anti-Muslim cartoon contest. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was an attack that quickly drew comparisons to the "Charlie Hebdo" massacre in Paris. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Police shot and killed the gunman after they wounded a security officer -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The family of Freddie Gray is speaking out. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For me to lose my twin, I can`t sleep at night some nights -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Or that will be insane, I will never be the same. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Today, the official list of 2016 Republican candidates for president almost doubled. Fox News favorite brain surgeon Dr. Ben Carson announced he is running for president in Detroit. He did not mention a single specific sentence of current American law that he would try to change as president. He didn`t even mention his now long- held ambition to repeal Obamacare. On his first official day as a politician, he just wanted to make sure that none of us begin to think of him as a real politician. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CARSON: I got to tell you something, I`m not politically correct, and I`m probably never -- (APPLAUSE) I`m probably never going to be politically correct -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes! CARSON: Because I`m not a politician. I don`t want to be a politician -- (APPLAUSE) Because politicians do what is politically expedient. I want to do what`s right. We have to think about that once again in our country. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: And hours before Ben Carson said that today, here is what Carly Fiorina had to say to get on "Good Morning America". (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let`s get right to it, are you running for president? Why are you the best person for the job? FIORINA: Yes, I am running for president. I think I`m the best person for the job because I understand how the economy actually works. I understand the world, who`s in it, how the world works. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Jonathan Capehart and Howard Dean, we`re trying to get Steve Schmidt to join the group, but we`ve lost his camera, we might get them by phone. Howard Dean, the one thing you are when you announce that you`re running for president is a politician. You might be a lot of other things like a physician, say like you and Ben Carson. But this "I`m not a politician, now I`m running for president", how is that going to work? HOWARD DEAN, FORMER VERMONT GOVERNOR: It probably will work fine for the 6 percent or 8 percent of the primary voters that will vote for Ben Carson. But I don`t think Ben Carson is going to win, I don`t think Carly Fiorina is going to win. I think this is still the politician`s race to win or lose, and by that, we`re talking about governors and senators. O`DONNELL: I think we do have Steve Schmidt`s camera up now. Steve, when Ben Carson gets in the race or Carly Fiorina, is that all helpful to Jeb Bush? Does he need the biggest possible field in order for them to start splintering off sectors of the right wing of the party or other parts of the party that Jeb Bush would be weak with? STEVE SCHMIDT, CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST & PUBLIC RELATIONS WORKER FOR THE UNITED STATES REPUBLICAN PARTY: I think right now, Lawrence, what all these candidates stand for is fundamental change. A different path for the Republican Party. And I think that, that change narrative, that dynamic which so many candidates are driving, accumulates altogether in a way that is not good for Jeb Bush. Because I think there is huge sentiment in the party that wants to move on, wants something new, wants something that in the eyes of members of the party, that can win in November. So Carly Fiorina and Ben Carson are distinct candidates in a field where we might have 20 people on a debate stage, and Carly Fiorina for one is fluent on many of these issues, and is sure to stand out amongst the sea of men on that stage. So we`ll see what happens with her as time goes on. But she might be a much more formidable candidate than the handicappers are saying today. O`DONNELL: All right, let`s take a look at the "Nbc News" poll that came out today which shows Jeb Bush at the top at 23, Carly Fiorina at the bottom at 1 percent. In between them you have Marco Rubio and second place at 18, Scott Walker, 14, Rand Paul, 11, Ted Cruz, 11, Ben Carson, seven, Chris Christie, five, Mike Huckabee, five, Rick Perry, two. Jonathan Capehart, it just seems to me that when you look at that group that is below Rand Paul, they`re -- you can -- you can rule out every one of them ever getting to this nomination and they are -- they are in an argument and it seems to me mostly with themselves and that just looks helpful to Jeb Bush. JONATHAN CAPEHART, JOURNALIST: Yes, the more crowded the stage is, the more crowded the field is, the better it is for those top-tier candidates. Look, we saw this in 2012 when Mitt Romney had to share the stage with all of those candidates. A whole lot of people on stage eating up a lot of debate time that allowed him to just sit back and say as little as possible. And when you`re a front runner, or at least you`re in the top tier, in the early going, that`s the last -- the last thing you want to do is to say anything that will get you into trouble, shrink your poll numbers and maybe damage or ruin your candidacy. So if there -- if we`re going to have 19 people on a debate stage, where it`s going to look like an Al Smith dinner rather than a debate, then that`s great for the Scott Walkers, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, I`ll throw in Rand Paul and Ted Cruz in there for that matter. Where they can just hang back and let those folks as you said, are going to be having a conversation amongst themselves for a while. O`DONNELL: In the poll, in the "Nbc" poll, it shows that Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio are polling best against Hillary Clinton which is not great. Hillary Clinton 49 to their 43. And then after that, you have Rand Paul, he`s at 43, actually, he`s polling a little better because he pulls Hillary out of 47. So he`s actually one of the closest gap. Scott Walker 50 to 40 there against Hillary Clinton, but for 50, Hillary Clinton clearly ahead of them all at this point, Howard Dean. They aren`t -- they haven`t done any damage to her yet. DEAN: Yes, well, that`s pretty amazing, considering the right-wing attacks on her in the last three or four weeks, many of which have been echoed by mainstream media that should know better. But you know, this is poll -- this kind of polling -- and I`ve said this before, this kind of polling, this far out is almost meaningless, especially the Republican polls. You know, just -- somebody is going to stand up in the -- I don`t entirely agree with Jonathan. I think Mitt Romney was really hurt by those debates. I remember believing that the election was over when he looked into the camera and said, I will veto the dream act if it gets to my desk. I thought to myself, this guy has got to get to 35 minimum in the Hispanic community and he just killed himself. So he got dragged to the right by all this stuff that`s going to be said by these people, some of whom are -- you know, you have to question their sanity. And I think that`s going to happen again to Jeb Bush. And the only way -- and he himself has said that he has got to run as if he is willing to lose the primary in order to win the general election. We`ll see what happens. O`DONNELL: Steve Schmidt, the -- one of the options for all of these candidates is just to attack Hillary Clinton as much as they can. Who are you betting on to be the most effective -- that is to say, the Republican who has the ability to both appeal to Republican primary voters in that kind of attack, but also get general election independents to start to wonder about Hillary Clinton? SCHMIDT: Look, there is no question if you look at the demographics of the race, Lawrence, with Democrats having won -- if you look at just these states that they`ve won six out of the last six elections with 242 electoral votes. It`s not enough for Republicans just to beat up Hillary Clinton. She`s a very known quantity in this country. Republican candidate, whomever the nominee is going to have to be, is going to have to make an argument for change. They`d have to say do we really want an Obama third term in the country? But they`re going to have to outline a vision for making the country a better place. Something that`s been very absent from Republican campaigns at a presidential level over the course of recent years. Just haven`t broken through with that type of messaging. That big vision that can unify the country, that can bring people in, to get those independent voters who`ve crossed over and voted for Democrats in recent presidential elections. So, I think we`ll see this play out over the course of the -- course of the primary stage with a pretty formidable field of Republican candidates who are in this race. You know, two new governors just last week, Kasich and Snyder are thinking about it obviously. O`DONNELL: Jonathan Capehart, there`s one truly extraordinary question in this poll. It says how would you rate Hillary Clinton being honest and straightforward? Fifty percent say poor, 25 percent say good. Now, here is what I find truly extraordinary about that question. It is not the answer, it is that, that question in this poll is not asked about any other candidate. I stared at the poll, I could not believe that at this stage of the game -- we were doing a poll that did not ask that about any other candidate. The "Nbc" polling people promised me that it will be in the next poll, that they`re going to get to that. But as of now, there`s just one candidate that they ask about, you know, honest and straightforward, only one. CAPEHART: Only one. And quite frankly, it`s because the stories about the e-mails and about the speeches and the giving to the Clinton Foundation have dominated the news for the last several weeks. And so, you know, of course the pollsters are going to ask that question. But I think you asked the right question of the pollsters. And that is, why aren`t you asking this question of all the other candidates? Because it -- I mean, when people go to the voting booth, it`s an -- it`s an emotional experience. A very personal experience to push that lever or put in the -- punch that hole or put in the ballot for someone, especially to run for president of the United States. And folks are going -- we need -- we should know whether the American people trust or don`t trust all of those people who are going to be running for the Republican nomination. And the few others who are going to be running for the Democratic nomination, not just Hillary Clinton. O`DONNELL: Howard Dean, you consistently, you know, denigrate all of these early polls. But when they do something like this and they ask a question only about Hillary Clinton and not about any of the other candidates, and it is -- if it`s a relevant question, it`s a relevant question about every one of them. DEAN: It`s true. But a lot of this -- first of all, Jonathan is absolutely right. This is -- they did it because they want to see the impact that the news media attacks on Hillary had and they found out. But the other rest of the field, even Jeb Bush has not really been particularly well defined. I mean, it`s hard to ask a question about any of these other people because people don`t know much about them. None of them are national figures really. Jeb Bush comes the closest because of his family, but the governor of Florida is not normally a particularly well-known person outside their own state. So, again, I don`t want to denigrate the polls, and I`m sure they`re all good, but at this stage of the game, you just can`t tell very much. O`DONNELL: All right, well, I`m challenging the pollsters to start including that question about every other announced candidate in there, and I don`t care if you get an 80 percent, I don`t know on Carly Fiorina, just get the question in there. We`re going to take a break, when we come back, Chris Christie says Bridget Kelly lied to him. And now Bridget Kelly says she never lied to anyone. Only one of those things can be true, and the lawyer for Bridget Kelly says he just might have to subpoena Chris Christie. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: A New York City police officer has died two days after a gunman opened fire and shot him in the head. The shooter is in custody. Officer Brian Moore died this afternoon after being taken off life support. President Obama said this in New York today about Officer Brian Moore. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He came from a family of police officers. And a family of fellow officers he joined in the NYPD, and across the country deserve our gratitude and our prayers not just today, but every day. They`ve got a tough job. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: They say they are going to testify. The latest bad news for Chris Christie`s hopeless dream of becoming president of the United States is that Bridget Kelly and Bill Baroni, two people indicted for illegally closing lanes on the George Washington bridge today said they are going to testify in their own defense. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARONI: I will testify on my own behalf as soon as the trial begins. And I will spend every day working to clear my name and get my reputation back. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The longer you have Bridget Kelly on the stand explaining what took place, you`ll obviously come to that one conclusion that we have said today and we`ve been saying all along, that she is not guilty of these charges. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: On Friday, Bridget Kelly in effect called Governor Christie a liar. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KELLY: Let me also say this, I am not a liar. And I never lied to anyone about the George Washington bridge issue. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: And this is what Chris Christie said about Bridget Kelly last year. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Of this morning, I`ve terminated the employment of Bridget Kelly effective immediately. I terminated her employment because she lied to me. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Joining us now is Bob Ingle, co-author of the book "Chris Christie: The Inside Story of His Rise to Power". Bob, so there is Bridget Kelly saying I never lied to anyone, Chris Christie has called her a liar publicly. She is the liar, the only liar in his administration about this, as far as he is concerned. There is Baroni saying I`m going to testify, Bridget Kelly saying she is going to testify through her lawyer. I kind of thought she might try to go for an acquittal without testifying somehow. But if they`re on the stand, this is the most dangerous possible versions of these trials for Chris Christie and the rest of his staff. BOB INGLE, AUTHOR: Absolutely. What is it they`re going to say? My gut feeling is that they`re probably going to try to reach some kind of agreement, so they won`t go to trial. I just can`t -- I just can`t imagine them getting up there and telling the stories that they have said so far in news conferences. It`s just not believable. O`DONNELL: But I mean, there is Bridget Kelly anyway, very directly defying -- INGLE: Yes -- O`DONNELL: Everything Chris -- INGLE: Right -- O`DONNELL: Christie, has said about that -- INGLE: Right -- O`DONNELL: Saying I`m going to testify and I`m not a liar. I mean that is a direct challenge -- INGLE: Yes -- O`DONNELL: To Christie personally. INGLE: Right, and the lawyer said that he wasn`t above calling Christie as a witness. I`m wondering, well, why wouldn`t he call him anyway? He is the guy who hired all three of the people involved in this. Shouldn`t he at least be some sort of reference for their credibility or something? O`DONNELL: Steve Schmidt, if Chris Christie does manage to announce a presidential candidacy, just take us into these spin room of the Christie campaign, the day he gets subpoenaed to testify in these criminal trials if that happens. SCHMIDT: The problem for Chris Christie when you look at this case is that, in a presidential campaign, you want to exert control over as many factors in the campaign as possible. And obviously, this is an area that Chris Christie has very little control over as this moves forward into two different criminal trials, as both defendants talk about testifying openly, threatening to call the governor. So this is a drama playing out against the prospect of a presidential campaign with no immediate end in sight. So, this is not something that inspires confidence from donors, from the political operatives, volunteers in the early states. And so Chris Christie has his work cut out for him, and he is in a fundamentally different place obviously today than he was in 2012 in that moment where he could have gotten into the Republican contest as the front runner and may very well have roundup as the nominee. O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to what Bridget Kelly said on Friday about the idea that she was the only one in the governor`s office who knew about these lane closures. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KELLY: For the indictment to suggest that I was the only person in the governor`s office who was aware of the George Washington bridge issue is ludicrous. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: And Jonathan Capehart, today, her lawyer says that under oath she`s going to tell us everyone who knew about it. CAPEHART: Yes, when I saw that clip this morning, I thought, well, who else could she be talking -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- CAPEHART: About -- O`DONNELL: Who could that be? -- CAPEHART: I mean, I know she was Deputy Chief of Staff, but my mind didn`t go to the chief of staff, it went to the -- it went to the governor. And it also made me think of the diagram of the governor`s suite. Her office was across a little cross-hall from the governor`s office. This is a really big problem for Governor Christie. It`s a dangerous problem that he has. You know, I wonder if Bob is right, that, you know, whether Bill Baroni and Bridget Kelly will actually testify. But watching Bridget Kelly`s press conference and how determined and assertive she was during that press conference, and also how assertive Bill Baroni was, that I wonder if they can`t wait to get on the stand to tell -- to tell the truth as they know it. To present evidence, to give as good as they got from the governor. O`DONNELL: Howard Dean -- CAPEHART: So Lawrence -- (CROSSTALK) O`DONNELL: Go ahead Howard -- DEAN: Yes, I mean, since I was the governor, let me say a couple of things. First of all, I said last year that this is a dead campaign and it is. O`DONNELL: Yes -- DEAN: Now it`s a zombie campaign. O`DONNELL: Yes -- DEAN: Second of all, having run one of these offices, inconceivable that the Deputy Chief of Staff didn`t tell the governor what was going on. It`s just not conceivable. Thirdly, this is not going to end well. And it could end with his -- with Chris Christie`s removal from office. They`re -- they are going to get up on the stand and say this, because that`s what Pete Baroro(ph) wants. Pete wants Christie. That`s what he wants. And these are guys who are either going to testify against him in private so that he can be indicted by the U.S. Attorney or they`re going to get up on the stand and do it. One of the two. This is not going to be good for Chris Christie. He is not -- not only not get -- my guess is right now, he is not going to declare himself as a candidate for president of the United States. I think it`s a fairly good chance he will not finish out his term. You know what? O`DONNELL: Go ahead. SCHMIDT: Lawrence, I mean, you know, for sure, this is not good politically for Chris Christie. But it`s also the case that since this has began, every day was the day that the information was going to drop that implicated Chris Christie in the bridge closures. And thus far, aside from some insinuations in those news conferences, there is no evidence linking Chris Christie to any of these bridge closures so far. So he is a formidable politician. This is not an issue that Republican primary voters per se are going to care a great deal about. It`s certainly not something that is not overcomeable in a Republican primary process. But certainly -- DEAN: But see -- SCHMIDT: He has been weakened by it in a very considerable way. But he is doing all the things necessary to give and will have the resources necessary to wage a campaign, though obviously won`t be the most well- funded race -- campaign in the race. CAPEHART: But here is the problem that Chris Christie has boiled down. On the one hand, he wants us to believe that he is this hard-charging, hands- on, you know, totally in command governor who, you know, run and won reelection in a totally blue state. Who told it like it was, told people to sit down and shut up. Or on the other hand, we have a governor who is so incompetent that he allowed rogue staffers to close not only a terrorist target in the New York market, but one of the most traveled bridges in the country. He had no idea that this was going on. Either he is competent or incompetent. And whether the voters are -- Republican primary voters or general election -- general election voters, I don`t think they will want this kind of person to be president of the United States. I`m with Howard -- DEAN: I think -- CAPEHART: He is not running -- DEAN: I think the polls -- I think the polls bear this out. He`s collapsed in the polls, he was up almost around 20 percent a year and a half ago first of all. And second of all, in New Jersey, he is -- he is barely above 30 percent -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- DEAN: In New Jersey -- O`DONNELL: Here is the -- DEAN: So -- O`DONNELL: Here is the latest -- DEAN: And now -- O`DONNELL: Here is the latest polling in New Jersey. Thirty five percent approve, 54 percent -- DEAN: Right -- O`DONNELL: Disapprove. But that -- I think those voters have spoken for Chris Christie`s future. Bob Ingle, thank you very much for joining us, Steve Schmidt, Jonathan Capehart and Howard Dean, thank you all for joining us tonight -- DEAN: Thank you -- O`DONNELL: Really appreciate it -- CAPEHART: Thanks, Lawrence. INGLE: Good to be with you. O`DONNELL: Coming up, a shooting in Texas outside a contest for doing drawings of Muhammad is now being compared with "Charlie Hebdo" attack in Paris in which 12 people were murdered. The editor-in-chief of "Charlie Hebdo" will join us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: Pamela Geller once told the "Village Voice," -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- "I don`t see how anyone can say I`m anti-Muslim. I love Muslims." But the Southern Poverty Law Center has called the group she heads a hate group, saying, "She`s relentlessly shrill and coarse in her broad-brush denunciations of Islam and makes preposterous claims." One of those preposterous -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- claims was that President Obama was the love child, her term, of Malcolm X. Yesterday, she organized a Muhammad Art -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- Exhibit and Contest in Garland, Texas, which offered a $10,000 prize to the winning cartoon depicting Muhammad. She told "The Washington Post" that she organized the event in reaction to the murder in January of the staff of the satirical magazine, "Charlie Hebdo," in Paris. She said, "We decided to have a cartoon contest to show we would not kowtow to violent intimidation and allow the freedom of speech to be overwhelmed by thugs and bullies." (END VIDEO CLIP) As the event was drawing to a close yesterday, two men arrived in a car -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- and shot an unarmed security guard, then two local police officers fired back. In the end, the gunmen were left dead in the street, and the security guard was treated at a hospital and released. Federal officials say, roommates, Elton Simpson, age 30, and Nadir Soofi, age 34, used assault rifles when they got out of their car and started firing. Senior law enforcement officials tell NBC News that Simpson was on the Terror Watch list since 2011, and had a Twitter account where he was using the hashtag, #Texasattack, before last night`s incident. Joining us now from Garland, Texas is NBC News Foreign -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- Correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin. Ayman, what else do we know about these attackers last night. AYMAN MOHYELDIN, NBC NEWS FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lawrence, we know from the officials that have been investigating the scene throughout the course of the day that two individuals really -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- had no connection here to Garland though they did arrive in a vehicle that had in it luggage. And that began the process that led law enforcement officials to an apartment complex in Phoenix where, they believe, -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- the two suspects, as you mentioned, Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, were roommates before they came here to carry out -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- this attack. Now, one of the key pieces of evidence or, at least, intelligence that has emerged was that, back in 2006, Elton Simpson was an individual of interest both to the FBI and other law enforcement officials and, ultimately, was convicted of lying to federal authorities about his intent to travel overseas. The government, at that time, believed -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- he was traveling overseas to join a terrorist group, perhaps, Al- Shabaab, in Eastern Africa. But it seemed that the -- at the time, he was convicted and put on probation. But not convicted of any terrorism-related charges. The other individual, Nadir Soofi, at the time, as well, a man of interest for officials here as they try to piece together the timeline -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- that brought these two individuals to Garland. O`DONNELL: Ayman Mohyeldin, thank you very much -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- for that report tonight. Thank you. Up next, the Editor-in-Chief of "Charlie Hebdon" joins us for an exclusive interview. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) Tomorrow night here in New York, the literary organization, Pen America, -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- will give its annual Freedom of Expression Courage Award to the staff of "Charlie Hebdo," eight of whom were murdered in an attack on their Paris office by two terrorists who reportedly said after the murders, "We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad." "Charlie Hebdo" -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- had, of course, run cartoons of Muhammad on its cover, which is considered blasphemy in Islam. Joining us now for an exclusive interview is the Editor-in-Chief of "Charlie Hebdo," Gerard Biard, and the Executive Director of the Pen American Center, Suzanne Nossel. Gerard, first of all, why are you here, meaning, why are you still alive. Were you late for work that day. GERARD BIARD, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, "CHARLIE HEBDO": No. I was on vacation. I was in London and I arrived the day before. I was in London for a week, a vacation. And, well, the day, the 7th, January 7th, -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- a member on the staff of "Charlie Hebdo," who wasn`t in the office called me. I was doing -- I was shopping. He called me and it was 11:00 in the morning and he say, "I know you`re not in France, you`re not in Paris but I must tell you that it has been a war scene in `Charlie` and there are deaths and injuries. I`ll let you know." And he hanged up. And my phone began to get mad. It rung and I received messages. And the think is that -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- I was trying to get information myself because I didn`t know who was injured, who was dead, who was safe. So, at one moment, I didn`t manage to have information, so I spent my phone because I was going mad. And I went to the French Embassy. And even in French Embassy, they couldn`t give me any more -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- they could tell me that Cabu and Charb and Wolinski were dead. But for some people less known, they didn`t know. So, they bring me back in Paris. But I knew -- only knew, arriving on late evening in Paris, who was dead and almost all were safe. O`DONNELL: We were shocked. The world was shocked. But you -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- had been warned, in effect, that this might be coming. And you had a guard there. It must have been something you`d thought about before it happened, some version of this. BIARD: No. Because we`re not -- we`re not soldiers. We`re -- O`DONNELL: But you took the precaution of having that guard. Didn`t that mean you were worried in some way. BIARD: No, we took the guard. We didn`t took him. He was imposed by the French Police. He was imposed to Charb because he had a fatwa on his head. So, he was his guard and -- actually, there were guards. One of the two survived and, unfortunately, one died. But, as I told you, yes, we had warnings, we had everything, we had threatens but we live in peaceful country where nothing war. You can`t expect to be killed during your work, during working. When you`re a journalist, if you go to -- in countries to cover war, of course, but if you remain at your desk in Paris, you can`t imagine that kind of thing. So, for me, it was very shocking. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) And I was not threatened but I felt almost all anger, you know, when I heard that. (END VIDEO CLIP) So, the thing is, we`re not heroes. We`re just journalists. We`re just cartoonists. So, we are not meant to be killed, you know. O`DONNELL: Suzanne, "Charlie Hebdo," Gerard and the staff, the surviving staff, as well as the deceased staff, seem like obvious choices for this kind of courage award that took courage, especially in the face of these threats. And, yet, some members Pen, a minority, apparently, have objected to this and decided not to participate in tomorrow`s event because they found the work of "Charlie Hebdo" to be objectionable in the depiction of Muhammad. And so, they`re saying, "Wasn`t there a way you could have found to support the work without then championing work that the content of which they don`t like. SUZANNE NOSSEL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PEN AMERICAN CENTER: Yes. I don`t think there`s much question really that "Charlie Hebdo" deserves a Courage Award, in that they soldiered on through the firebombing of their office in 2011. And then even after the horrific killings in January, they`ve kept going. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) And they`ve insisted on holding and protecting that terrain for free speech. It`s terrain where not everybody wants to tread because there is a lot of danger of misunderstanding, sort of at the outer reaches when you`re saying things that may not be politically correct or palatable to everybody. The question that`s been raised though is not whether or not they were courageous but whether or not they`re cartoons or some of them constituted hate speech. And, you know, we`ve looked at that carefully. And we really do believe that they didn`t, that this was satire, kind of firmly situated within French traditions that, when you look at the opinion of France`s leading anti-racism organization, they`ve been adamant that "Charlie Hebdo" was opposed to racism and all of its horns and, you know, a real -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- force, calling out racism within French culture. You have some purported victims of racist caricatures who, themselves, have flocked to "Charlie Hebdo`s" side to say, "They weren`t mocking," you know, "they were mocking the French right wing`s stereotypes of me." So, we think, kind of looked at carefully through a French lens that their work was satire, clearly, and that, in no way, undercuts their valor and standing up to those who want to use the barrel of a gun to shrink the terrain for free speech. O`DONNELL: Just for perspective, I have here -- tell me if this is right, 523 editions of "Charlie Hebdo," seven of them had covers that involved Islam in some way. I think maybe five of those had Muhammad, 21 of them depicting Christianity in some way, other religions. Religion certainly seems to be a very, very small concern -- (LAUGHTER) -- of "Charlie Hebdo," if you look at the totality of the work. BIARD: Of course. And I must say that we have nothing against religions. We fight religion when it comes to politics. Because we think that religion has nothing to do with politics. So, it`s that that we fight. We don`t fight believers. We don`t fight -- we don`t fight people. As Suzanne say, "Charlie Hebdo" has a long tradition, since the `60s. It`s a newspaper fighting racism, fighting all discriminations, discriminations against minorities, against gays, against women. So, we just -- we are just a satirical and political newspaper against extremisms, political extremisms. O`DONNELL: In the letter that the people -- it`s now about 120 members -- very prominent writers, some really important voices here, have said in their letter to Pen that "Charlie Hebdo`s" cartoons of the prophet must be seen as being intended to cause further humiliation and suffering of French Muslims. BIARD: No, we`re not attacking Muslims. We`re attacking Islamisms. We`re not even attacking Islam, you know. So, we don`t attack weak people. We attack powerful people who lead countries and who want to impose their ideas by violence. So, we can`t accept to hear that. It`s not true. It`s not true. We`re not attacking weak people. We defend weak people. We are always saying that the first victims of Islamisms are Muslims. O`DONNELL: All right, we`re going to take a break here. We`re going to be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) We`re back with Gerard Biard, the Editor-in-Chief of "Charlie Hebdo," and Suzanne Nossel of Pen. You find yourself in the middle of a controversy that I don`t think you saw coming when you thought the Courage Award goes to "Charlie Hebdo." NOSSEL: Well, it`s true. And I think we were confident that there wouldn`t be any controversy. But what we maybe didn`t see coming was, within the group that supports Pen, supports freedom of expression, that we could possibly look at this through such different prisms. I mean, we see it as kind of quite clear to us -- here`s their intention, here`s how their work is being received by people in France, here`s what they`re saying, and this is satirical, here`s who they`re attacking. And then other people look at it and they see a cartoon that evokes certain meaning, certain images that remind them of historical racist cartoons. And, you know, that becomes very predominant for them. I think, for them, it genuinely looks and seems and is and must be racist. So, we`ve had a really fascinating and vibrant dialogue across our members with, you know, great many pieces, dozens and dozens of pieces being written, examining all of this. And I think it has been an important and vigorous debate. And we`re actually pleased to have catalyzed this. We don`t resent anyone for having a different opinion. You know, they`re more than entitled to that. Pen is a free-expression organization, you know. We`re all about fostering dialogue. And there`s certainly been dialogue. O`DONNELL: Gerard, one of the things that I find interesting about it is people who aren`t particularly religious or highly educated in religion seem to take -- seem to be among those who take the greatest offense at this. They seem to take blasphemy, which is something defined by each religion differently, seriously, like that`s a serious thing that we should somehow respect blasphemy. And I was thought in Catholicism as a child what blasphemy is. And it`s things that people say everyday in this country. They don`t even know it. BIARD: Well, I think you`re right. People don`t know what blasphemy is. I think that blasphemy can be a good thing because blasphemy is a way to define, to have debate with the power. So, blasphemy is democracy, you know. It`s a way to make firm or to argue with the supreme power. The supreme power can be a god, can be a president, can be a king. So, yes, democracy needs blasphemy. O`DONNELL: That will have to be the last word on it tonight. Congratulations on this award. BIARD: Thank you very much. O`DONNELL: Gerard Biard, a real honor to have you here. And, also, Suzanne Nossel, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Appreciate it. NOSSEL: Thank you. O`DONNELL: Up next, Lester Holt`s exclusive interview with the -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- family of Freddie Gray in Baltimore. (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) I want to apologize to Andy Alperstein, a Baltimore lawyer who`s going to guide us through the charges the officers are facing in the death of Freddie Gray. We will not have time for that tonight because our "Charlie Hebdo" discussion went a little bit long. We will be back with Lester`s Holt`s exclusive interview of the family of Freddie Gray. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) In Baltimore tonight, protesters brought new demands to the city council. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) (PROTESTERS CHANTING) O`DONNEL: Tonight`s protest comes one day after Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake lifted the mandatory 10:00 p.m. curfew. After State`s Attorney Marilyn Mosby brought homicide charges against the officers involved in the arrest and transport of Freddie Gray, Lester Holt -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- asked Freddie Gray`s family`s reaction to the announcement of those charges. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) RICHARD SHIPLEY, FREDDIE GRAY`S STEPFATHER: I was shocked but happy to hear that charges because I didn`t expect it so soon. But I was really happy that it turned out this way. LESTER HOLT, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Gloria, Freddie was your baby. Talk to me as a mother, the pain that you`re experiencing. GLORIA DARDEN, FREDDIE GRAY`S MOTHER: I got a hole -- I wish it did never -- it did never happen. And I will never be the same. I will never be the same. HOLT: Fredericka, you lost your twin brother, Freddie. FREDERICKA GRAY, FREDDIE GRAY`S TWIN SISTER: For me to lose my twin, it`s like I can`t sleep at night. Some nights, I cry, like I really miss me. Like the pain I feel is like just unbearable. HOLT: Tell me about the Freddie that we haven`t read about. SHIPLEY: The funny -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- Freddie, the Freddie that`s always happy and smiling -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- and caring and loving. HOLT: Bill, I think this is a question I want to address to you, if I may. Sometimes, in these cases, there is a tendency to want to turn it back on the victim. People saying, "Why did he run," or "He had a record." What do you say to those people. BILL MURPHY, FREDDIE GRAY`S FAMILY`S LAWYER: There`s no relevancy to that at all because the police had no basis, other than him running, to stop him or to arrest him. And there`s no crime called running while black. And there`s no crime called felony running. HOLT: Richard, when the violence broke out last week, were you -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- concerned that it would take the focus off of justice, off of Freddie. SHIPLEY: I was so hurt and ashamed that they would, apparently, -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- attempting to use it in the name of Freddie. And I was very discouraged with that, very discouraged. HOLT: But things turned around very quickly. People stood up and said, "No more violence." You were one of the voices -- SHIPLEY: Yes. HOLT: -- calling for peace. SHIPLEY: Yes. Even though it was a tragic situation, we must protest and -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- raise our voices in a peaceful manner. (END VIDEO CLIP) (END VIDEOTAPE) O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes is up next. END