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

Guests: Maria Teresa Kumar, Krystal Ball, Josh Barro, Andrew Alperstein,Andrew Levy, Adam Smith

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: Hey, Rachel, I just want to get something straight. You began that by saying, I love this guy. (LAUGHTER) Now on cable news we work without a studio audience, so sometimes we have to underline the jokes. Which -- yes, so that`s a joke, the "I love this guy" part. MADDOW: You know, love is a complicated word. (LAUGHTER) It means more than it sounds like it means. O`DONNELL: Rachel, thank you very much. MADDOW: Thanks Lawrence. O`DONNELL: Well, there is a new legal development in the criminal case against the Baltimore police officers who arrested Freddie Gray. And there are new details tonight about possible Islamic State links to the two men who launched an attack in Garland, Texas, Sunday night before they were killed by police. And Hillary Clinton said tonight that she would push immigration reform, even executive orders, farther than President Obama has. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I will fight for comprehensive immigration reform. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hillary Clinton wants to make this visit to Nevada all about immigration. CLINTON: Not a single Republican candidate is clearly and consistently supporting a path to citizenship. MIKE HUCKABEE, FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR: I will never, ever apologize for America. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mike Huckabee, getting back in the game. HUCKABEE: I don`t come from a family dynasty, but a working family. LARRY WILMORE, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST: He is a much more serious candidate than Ben Carson is. Is his whole campaign based on once you go black, you never go -- (LAUGHTER) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Attorney General Loretta Lynch paid a visit to Baltimore today. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don`t always choose moments, you know, sometimes they choose us. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To meet with city and law enforcement officials. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The relationship between police and community is the civil rights issue of this generation. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The more we`re aware of it, we can solve it. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The claim today by ISIS that it had a hand in the shooting-attack on an anti-Islamist gathering in Texas -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is still under investigation by the FBI and other members of the intelligence community. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Neighbors say the two men lived in the apartment complex behind me together for years. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would never have expected this out of them. JON STEWART, COMEDIAN & TELEVISION HOST: It is not OK to shoot other people because you are offended by what they draw. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Muslims consider depictions of the Prophet Muhammad to be offensive. STEWART: Even if they drew it to offend you -- (LAUGHTER) No shooting of them. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Hillary Clinton was in Vegas this evening where she promised to go even further than President Obama has on immigration reform. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLINTON: I will fight for comprehensive immigration reform and a path to citizenship for you and for your families across our country. I will fight to stop partisan attacks on the executive actions that would put dreamers, including those with us today at risk of deportation. And if Congress continues to refuse to act, as president, I would do everything possible under the law to go even further. There are more people -- like many parents of Dreamers and others with deep ties and contributions to our communities who deserve a chance to stay and I will fight for them. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: In the swing state of Nevada where 26 percent of the population is Hispanic, Hillary Clinton targeted her Republican challengers and their stances on immigration reform. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CLINTON: Make no mistake, today not a single Republican candidate announced or potential, is clearly and consistently supporting a path to citizenship. Not one. When they talk about legal status, that is code for second class status. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Maria Teresa Kumar, the Mathematics of this look even better for Hillary Clinton tonight. MARIA TERESA KUMAR, PRESIDENT & CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, VOTO LATINO: I actually think that she is able to bring the A-team to her -- to her folks. The fact that she has Hall Henarri(ph), who is now in Nevada, special adviser, who was one of the folks that was inside the White House crafting executive action. Who knows it like the back of his hand, and he has Amanda Ratinari(ph) also basically advising her. She has basically brought an A game, drawn the line in the sand and saying, I dare you to cross it. O`DONNELL: Krystal, what I like about this tactically is that Hillary Clinton knows that whoever the nominee is, is going to try to run against her on immigration reform. And during the Republican primaries, they`re going to be just attacking her all night about immigration reform -- KRYSTAL BALL, BUSINESSWOMAN: And attacking each other -- O`DONNELL: In all those debate -- BALL: For that matter -- JOSH BARRO, JOURNALIST: All right -- O`DONNELL: Attacking each other. She`s saying, OK, go ahead. BALL: Go ahead -- O`DONNELL: Go ahead, please do this, please come after me over this. BALL: Absolutely, and you know what is so beautiful? Is that this is not only the right policy, it is also the politically good policy. It is good for her in a general election and certainly in a tough primary. It is good for her to be aggressive in supporting comprehensive immigration reform. And that`s what`s really exciting here, that it`s actually politically expedient in addition to being the right thing. So yes, she`s out, she`s bold, she`s willing to go even further than this president which is exciting to see, which advocates have been looking for. It`s the right place for her to be. O`DONNELL: Let`s take a look -- take a look at what`s been happening for Republicans with the nonwhite vote. George W. Bush, 2004, he wins, he gets 26 percent of the nonwhite vote. John McCain, 2008, loses with 19 percent of the nonwhite vote. Mitt Romney, 2012, loses with 17 percent of the nonwhite vote. And Josh Barro, the Math now is, if you match George W. Bush`s performance with the nonwhite vote as a Republican presidential candidate, you will lose -- KUMAR: I don`t know -- BARRO: Right -- KUMAR: Will lose, yes -- BARRO: Because the nonwhite section of the electorate has gotten bigger -- O`DONNELL: Getting bigger and bigger -- BARRO: Overall, yes, I mean, I think, one thing that`s interesting about this Hillary announcement though, this is another example of her being the status quo candidate. This is the Obama policy on immigration. She`s for comprehensive immigration reforms, so is the president. Yes, well, we`re going to have a Republican house in 2017, so we`re not going to have a comprehensive immigration bill passed. She`s going to use executive action on that front just as the President has done. Maybe she will find some things by digging under the couch questions -- KUMAR: But I think -- but I think -- BARRO: That you can do additionally -- KUMAR: But I think the fact that she elevated the idea that we are not going to go anywhere else except for a citizenship and a path to citizenship. She`s actually appealing to a lot of independents who don`t believe in this idea that we should basically have a permanent underclass. This is -- that`s where she`s basic coercing, not only yes, the Latino vote, but a lot of the independent white vote that doesn`t like the sniff of actually going back to -- BALL: And also making the nuance argument about the difference between citizenship and legal status. KUMAR: Right -- BALL: Because these two things are not the same. This is going to be a litmus test issue in the general election, because executive action obviously, completely under the President`s control. Day one, what do you do? Do you stick with the President`s action? Do you take it even further or do you roll it back? KUMAR: But you -- (CROSSTALK) BALL: And it`s very hard to avoid that -- KUMAR: Boy, I think that she actually opens up an opportunity for a lot of the folks at the senatorial level to actually basically say, this is where the game is won. We need not only Hillary Clinton to basically win -- O`DONNELL: But looking at the -- (CROSSTALK) On the demographics of the -- BALL: Yes -- O`DONNELL: Particular state that the senators, you know -- KUMAR: But the wild thing is that you have states like Virginia where Latinos are only 4 percent of the electorate. They are the ones who are actually going to move whether or not someone goes -- basically goes into the Senate. The same thing in South Carolina, Lindsey Graham is sniffing around for the presidential bid because his demographics have shifted, he doesn`t need all -- he doesn`t need all white voters now if he can get enough margins to basically get -- be pushed over the top by the Latino voters. BALL: As in -- BARRO: In a way, this is like Obamacare now, in that, the Democrats shifted from advocating a policy to defending it, which is stronger ground to be on. Because if you say, I`m going to rescind the executive actions, that means for millions of people, they have work permits, they`re depended on it, some work place -- BALL: Absolutely -- BARRO: And that throws a wrenching to things for them, it throws a wrenching to things for families. And so it`s a lot easier to say, don`t do the executive action than it is to say, unwind the executive action and talk about what the -- what the consequences that will be. So I think -- BALL: Right -- KUMAR: In just harder than the status quo, always. BARRO: Right, yes, and this is -- BALL: Right -- BARRO: And so, I mean as I said, she was trying to make -- you know, she`s talking in this very active way, but she is in a way in this comfortable position. Because there are a number of things that have been done under this administration that were rocky to get there, but that the majority electorate will want to keep in place. She`s able to say, don`t go make a mess, don`t cause a bunch of new problems by undoing these things. It`s sort of a state a course -- O`DONNELL: We have a new official attacker of Hillary Clinton. I mean, Republican presidential -- (LAUGHTER) Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, let`s listen to how he started off. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HUCKABEE: We`ve lost our way morally. We`ve witnessed the slaughter of over 55 million babies in the name of choice. And we are now threatening the foundation of religious liberty by criminalizing Christianity and demanding that we abandon Biblical principles of natural marriage. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Maria Teresa Kumar, the preacher is back. KUMAR: Not only is he back, he`s actually telling Republicans, listen, actually lose this idea that we have to go only by high finance, financiers and Wall Street. Let`s actually start talking to blue-collar workers. I actually think that he is going to be the one that -- Huckabee is going to be the one appealing to Joe the plumber in a very significant way. BALL: Absolutely -- KUMAR: And I think that`s going to be actually an interesting race. BALL: Yes, and then there`s announcement speech, not only does he talk about social conservatism, which of course, we all know him very well for. He also talks about not going down the road of bad trade deals. He`s also criticized those who want to cut social security. So he`s trying to sound these, you know, those two notes of social conservative and also economic populist. Which can be very powerful, was very powerful in Iowa last time he run, but now we just have so many candidates -- BARRO: Yes -- BALL: That I think it`s hard for him to break -- BARRO: I don`t -- I don`t -- KUMAR: But it doesn`t -- BARRO: See what -- sorry, go ahead. KUMAR: No, because -- and -- because I mean it`ll interest you, let`s not forget the fact that he`s actually talking about this Joe the plumber idea. He is coming from Arkansas where all of a sudden on the down ballot, they voted for a Republican when it came to the Senate just recently. But they actually voted for minimum wage. BARRO: Yes -- BALL: Right -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- KUMAR: You can actually -- BARRO: No, but -- KUMAR: Start shopping that around and say -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- KUMAR: Look -- BARRO: Yes, but this -- KUMAR: This is where I stand, this is where my state gets, let`s move this forward. BARRO: But they voted for a -- BALL: Yes -- BARRO: Republican at the Senate level, but I don`t think that you can win a Republican presidential primary on this sorts of populist economic issues. Remember one of the things that Mike Huckabee got really beat up over the last time he run for president, was a tax increase he did while he was governor, which he did in order to avoid the sorts of draconian cuts that Republican governors have done in other states. That ultimately was not a popular thing in the Republican primary, I don`t think Mike Huckabee offers anything that isn`t already offered in this field by Ted Cruz, by Bobby Jindal, by various other candidates -- BALL: Marco Rubio -- KUMAR: Yes, right with that -- BARRO: That pure religious rights, I don`t think that separating himself out on minimum wage and things like that, I don`t think -- KUMAR: I actually -- BALL: No -- BARRO: Need that -- KUMAR: I actually disagree. Because I think what you`re -- the reason that minimum wage won was that, for the very first time, you have -- you have white older voters that can`t retire and are living on that minimum -- BARRO: Yes -- KUMAR: Wage. So I don`t -- BARRO: I don`t -- KUMAR: Think he is appealing -- BALL: But -- KUMAR: To that -- BALL: But let`s also -- KUMAR: Nobody has to -- (CROSSTALK) BALL: But let`s also be real about the fact that things like upping the minimum wage and not supporting trade deals are not very popular among those people who might be financing his campaign. Which was also a problem -- BARRO: It`s not just that. It`s that the minimum wage is popular with a lot of people for whom it is not a deciding factor in candidate election. Which is why you could see minimum wage questions winning in conservative jurisdictions that vote for conservative officials. You have a lot of people who make $20, $30 now or -- who say, yes, minimum wage increase is a good idea. Who don`t see it as a pocket book issue for themselves, and so when they go out and vote and they`re hearing candidates talk about taxes and minimum wage, they might say, I want lower taxes and higher minimum wage. But facing the choice -- BALL: It`s a nice to have -- (CROSSTALK) But not a must have -- KUMAR: But I think -- but I think it`s identifying again this new generation of older Americans who have to start -- who have to continue working longer and actually are not getting the $20 or $30 unfortunately. BALL: Now what I think is -- BARRO: Oh, yes -- BALL: Is actually more powerful to your point is the social security argument. Because whether you`re a left, right or center, unless you`re a hard core activist people in this country do not want to see -- KUMAR: Nobody wants to touch that -- BALL: Security -- (CROSSTALK) O`DONNELL: Yes, and a -- and a Republican -- KUMAR: Yes -- O`DONNELL: Congress had the chance to, "reform social security" under George W. Bush who pushed it for about 30 days before he completely -- BALL: Right -- O`DONNELL: Surrendered -- (LAUGHTER) BALL: Not working -- O`DONNELL: They didn`t -- they didn`t even have a hearing on it. (CROSSTALK) And quickly before we go, don`t all these single digit candidates in that poll, the -- you know, down there in the Ben Carson territory and the Huckabee territory, don`t they all help, in effect, Jeb Bush? BALL: Yes -- O`DONNELL: Because the big -- the -- you know, the big tough thing going on out there in Iowa tonight is, do I vote for Ted Cruz or Mike Huckabee or you know, one of the -- BALL: Right -- O`DONNELL: These guys -- (LAUGHTER) And the more they split, the more, you know, Jeb Bush can win with this relatively low number -- BALL: It lowers the bar for Jeff Bush absolutely. And the way that things are being structured, unless one of the other candidates who really emerges, Marco Rubio really proves himself -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- BALL: Scott Walker really -- unless it essentially comes down to this person versus that person, it`s only -- KUMAR: Yes -- BALL: Good for Jeb Bush -- KUMAR: Well, and the thing is that the other ones basically spread across extremism, he doesn`t have to go that way. And this is basically -- he face off them, but I think Scott Walker is the one that -- it`s actually the one to watch because he is the one that will also be Joe the plumber and actually be able to demonstrate it. He doesn`t need the unions -- O`DONNELL: And that`s the last word on it tonight, that`s all the time we have for it. Maria Teresa Kumar, Krystal Ball and Josh Barro, thank you all for joining -- BALL: Thanks Lawrence -- O`DONNELL: Me tonight -- BARRO: Thank you -- KUMAR: Thank you, Lawrence. O`DONNELL: Coming up, the first big legal battle in the case against the officers who arrested Freddie Gray is going to be about the knife, that knife that they said they found on Freddie Gray. And later in the rewrite, what we can only hope is the last word about dogs. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: President Obama dropped by the Ed Sullivan Theater to say his official farewell to David Letterman last night, and he added this serious note. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: We had a situation in which too many communities don`t have a relationship of trust with the police. It creates an environment in the community where they feel as if rather than being protected and served, they are the targets of arbitrary arrests or stops. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Up next, it`s all about the knife in the case against the officers who arrested Freddie Gray. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: The Attorney General of the United States Loretta Lynch traveled to Baltimore today to meet with city officials, law enforcement officials and police officers. The Attorney General also met with the family of Freddie Gray just as the first big legal fight in the criminal case against the officers involved in Freddie Gray`s death was developing in court. The defense lawyer for officer Edward Nero has filed a motion demanding an opportunity to inspect the knife the police say was found in Freddie Gray`s possession. The motion said, "a careful inspection of the knife recovered from Mr. Gray will reveal specific characteristics of the knife which will reveal that the knife was not lawful under Maryland law and as such, the defendant did not illegally arrest Mr. Gray." Joining us now, Andy Alperstein of Baltimore, defense attorney, a former prosecutor and Andrew Levy, also a Baltimore lawyer and a professor at the University of Maryland School of Law. Andy Alperstein, the crucial factor about this knife is that, in Marilyn Mosby`s presentation of the charges, she said that because the knife was not a switch blade, because the knife is legal under Maryland law, therefore the arrest and detention of Freddie Gray amounted to false imprisonment. ANDREW ALPERSTEIN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: That`s what she told us. But I think she overlooked that the officers that originally arrested Mr. Gray charged him with a Baltimore City code violation which is different. Because in her charging papers that she read of the officers, she talked about that it wasn`t a violation of Maryland law. We have a city code law that is more expansive and the motion that was filed today by Marc Zayon, who is a very skilled lawyer here in Baltimore, alleged that an inspection of the knife would show that his client did not falsely arrest the person. In other words, it was illegal for Gray to posses the knife and therefore the arrest was lawful. O`DONNELL: So, yes, to quote Marilyn Mosby exactly when she announced these charges, she said, "the knife was not a switch blade and is lawful under Maryland law." Andrew Levy, so now we`re learning that there is a local Baltimore law that might make this knife that they found illegal -- or might make it legal or illegal. I don`t think we have Andrew Levy`s sound -- ANDREW LEVY, LAWYER & PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND SCHOOL OF LAW: Yes, I`m here, I`m sorry, I`m here. Can you repeat your question -- O`DONNELL: So -- LEVY: Please? O`DONNELL: Well, Marilyn Mosby said in her announcement of the charges that the knife is not a switch blade, and that means it is lawful under Maryland law. Andy Alperstein is now saying that yes, but under Baltimore, local Baltimore law, there may be a provision that does make this particular knife illegal, which then would justify the arrest. LEVY: Well, look, Andy -- as Andy knows, this actually gets litigated a lot. It`s not uncommon for people to be charged with a dangerous weapon violation. And the question of their guilt turns on often very technical inquiries into the nature of the blade, the mechanism by which the blade comes out and the like. If the -- one of the many extraordinary things about this case and the aggressiveness of these charges is, first of all, that these -- the arresting officers were charged with crimes that police officers almost never get charged with. And their defenses are either that they had probable cause for the arrest or that they had a good faith basis for believing that this knife was an illegal knife. And that`s -- that can be a very good defense in a situation like this, because of how unclear it can be. Whether it`s a -- whether it`s a dangerous weapon under the statute. O`DONNELL: So three of the defendants are charged with false imprisonment and that is on the basis of the knife they found not being a switch blade, being as she put it, a legal knife under Maryland law. But Andy Alperstein, let`s go to what Andrew Levy just raised, which is the good faith defense. Let`s assume for the moment that the knife turns out to be adjudged to have been a legal knife. That it`s legal under Baltimore law, legal under Maryland law. This issue of the good faith belief of the police officer, is -- would that then be the linchpin where they could succeed and they`re pleading on this point? ALPERSTEIN: Well, I think the good faith -- I agree with Andy Levy. The good faith exception, I mean, these officers are acting in good faith and they are arresting Mr. Gray and Mr. Gray -- and they`re mistaken and then we`re going to just start charging police officers because they are making a good faith error. Then we`re going to wind up arresting a lot of police around here and I can tell you, I`ve talked to police as recently as an hour ago in Baltimore who don`t want to arrest anybody. Because they`re worried they`re going to get arrested themselves if there happens to be a bad stop or a bad seizure or a bad arrest which happens all the time. When you defend criminal cases, it`s part of the process. The normal remedy is evidence is excluded and that`s the sanction against the police. Not that the police get charged. And this really could set an incredibly bad precedent what they`re doing here -- O`DONNELL: But Andrew Levy -- ALPERSTEIN: It`s very troubling -- O`DONNELL: But Andrew Levy, police can lie about their good faith. Police -- that can be an after-the-fact lie about what actually happened. And so where will the adjudication be made on this issue of good faith in terms of the knife? LEVY: Well, there are really two questions, what lawyers would call a subjective test and an objective test. First of all, they need to -- if their defense is -- you know, we believed that this was an illegal knife even if we are mistaken. And a genuinely assault, that is -- the jury has to believe that they genuinely sought that. There also have to be an objectively reasonable belief. It can`t be just a ridiculous idea. But typically, a jury will reject it if it`s not what we would say, you know, objectively reason -- O`DONNELL: That`s all the time we have for it tonight on this, Andy Alperstein and Andrew Levy, thank you both for joining us. ALPERSTEIN: Thank you. O`DONNELL: Coming up next, breaking news from the "New York Times" tonight, there are new details about the gunman involved in that Texas shooting, and allegations that they are tied to the Islamic State. And last week was thug week on cable news. In the rewrite tonight, I will explain why there is absolutely no journalistic justification for the use of the word `thug` in describing what happened in Baltimore last week. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: For the first time, the Islamic State is claiming responsibility for an attack in the United States. In radio and internet messages, the Islamic State says that the two gunmen from Phoenix who opened fire outside of a Muhammad drawing contest in Garland, Texas, were "soldiers of the caliphate." And now breaking news tonight reported by the "New York Times", according to the "New York Times", one of the gunmen, Elton Simpson`s Twitter contacts included a British fighter with the Islamic State in Syria and an American now in Somalia who is -- regularly promotes the Islamic State. Both men regularly called for violence and they suggested the Texas event as a possible target. U.S. officials say Elton Simpson expressed his support for the Islamic State on Twitter, Sunday, just before the attack, tweeting "may Allah accept us as Mujahideen." According to "Nbc`s" Pete Williams, investigators say Simpson`s social media postings did attract attentions from the police and FBI last month, but they say he was never explicit about any attack plans and was not under constant surveillance. (INAUDIBLE) said today that they noticed Nadir Soofi who was born in the United States but spent time in Pakistan as a child became more isolated in recent years in the United States. Joining us now, Congressman Adam Smith of Washington State, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, and Steve Clemons, Washington editor-at- large for "The Atlantic" magazine and an Msnbc contributor. Congressman, has the Islamic State finally reached in to the United States? REP. ADAM SMITH (D), WASHINGTON: Well, it would certainly seem that way. And that`s always been the great threat and a great fear. I mean, back after 9/11, we identified al-Qaeda`s senior leadership. And there was a relatively finite group of people who were plotting and planning -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- attacks against western interests. And we could identify that network and go after it. What`s happened since then is the movement has metastasized. And it is much more the lone wolf attacks, individuals, and they`re just following them on social media and then acting out. That is a much tougher thing to contain. That`s a larger group of people to keep your arms around. And I think -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- it`s definitely a threat to the U.S. O`DONNELL: Steve Clemons, a lot of debate today is the Islamic State really claiming credit for this, do they really get credit for it. If they`re encouraging people through Twitter or other means to do this, even people who they don`t necessarily have, you know, specific contacts with, it seems to me, they get the credit. STEVE CLEMONS, MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR: Look, I agree with you. ISIS is in a competitive global branding campaign with other terrorists groups in the world, trying to get people to mimic what it does, to pay homage to what it does, and to inspire people to take actions that it instructs them to do from afar. So, in that sense, they get credit. But it is not the same level as a deployment of someone who was well-crafted and sculpted and trained by ISIS on-site and then injected into American society to do terrific demand. I agree with Adam that it is something we should worry about. It`s hard to sort of spot these lone wolves, or even couple wolves attacks of this sort. But, at the same time, it doesn`t have the sophistication and impact of what, you know, al-Qaeda has been -- you know, their signature events. So, to a certain degree, there are levels of concern here. But, absolutely, ISIS gets credit for this because it`s in a global branding campaign and it`s inspiring people to take these actions. O`DONNELL: And on April 23rd, "The New York Times" is reporting -- this is 10 days before the Texas attack -- that one of the encouragers posted a message saying, -- TEXT: "The brothers from the `Charlie Hebdo` attack did their part. It`s time for brothers in the U.S. to do their part." And Congressman Smith specifically referencing the contest there to draw Muhammad in Texas. SMITH: It speaks to the larger issue of the ideological struggle. And, yes, this is not just a fight against ISIS or al-Qaeda or al-Nusra or Boko Raham. I mean, this is something where we really need to build relationships in the Muslims community and with moderate Muslim groups to stop this ideology. Because it`s one thing to try to stop an organized group that`s, you know, plotting a specific attack and then sending somebody over. It`s another thing to try to spot, you know, just some, you know, lone person who is suddenly going to go radical. That ideology, I mean, it`s going to take a much more comprehensive approach to defeat that ideology. And I think working with the Muslim community is critical to that, both in the U.S. and throughout the world. O`DONNELL: And Steve Clemons, good news, bad news of this Texas episode is that the Muslim population around the area where this was taking place, they were -- all knew about it, they were very well-informed about it. And their leader said, you know, "Just take it easy," you know, "this has nothing to do with us. Let`s just ignore it." And they did. And they did. It took these guys, coming over from Arizona -- that`s the bad news, is that the local population`s reaction to this is now not all that important. And then, they can just come over from Arizona. CLEMONS: Absolutely. And hats off to that community and to the mayor of that community who came out immediately and said, they don`t have a majority ethnic group in that community, not white, not anything else. They`ve got 114 languages. They basically said, "We`re a tolerant community in Texas that embraces all these cultures." They didn`t necessarily support what Pamela Geller`s group was doing but they certainly didn`t support either the horrible actions taken by these two men, or attempted actions by these two men. And so, you`ve got an interesting episode where, out of this, if you look at that community, there`s a resilience that`s extremely impressive, and a mayor who stood up for the right things, in my view, which is to be tolerant, understanding, to try to understand these things far beyond just the Muslim community, but just the whole rainbow of different ethnic groups in Garland. O`DONNELL: Steve Clemons, thanks for joining us tonight. And Congressman Smith, please stay with us. We`re going to talk about Benghazi, coming up. But, up next, how the brilliant Amy Schumer -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- can be a more effective politician than her big cousin, Chuck Schumer. (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) The senior senator from New York, Chuck Schumer, has, by this point in his long career in Washington, said thousands and thousands and more thousands of words about women`s right to make their own choices about all aspects of reproductive health. But none of those words have been as memorable as the one minute and 28 seconds his cousin, Amy Schumer, spent on the subject on her brilliant Comedy Central show, "Inside Amy Schumer." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) AMY SCHUMER, STAND-UP COMEDIAN AND ACTRESS (voice-over): You live a busy life. The last thing you want to have to worry about is your birth control pill. That`s why we`re introducing OrthoEsterin, a new low-dose daily birth control pill with little to no side effects. Ask your doctor if birth control is right for you. Then, ask your boss if birth control is right for you. Ask your boss to ask his priest. Find a boy scout and see what he thinks. Tap a mailman on the shoulder. "Sorry, I didn`t mean to startle you." Tell him you didn`t mean to startle him. Then ask him if birth control is right for you. Put it online and see how many likes you get. Ask an old black man and an Asian boy playing chess in the park. "I started using birth control." Then ask them how they became friends because there has just got to be a story behind there. "I`m trying a birth control" Ask someone who just got one of those cochlear implants and is hearing for the very first time. (LAUGHTER) "Yes, but, see, can I get birth control." Ask Jeeves. "I`m supposed to ask you, too." Ask your mom`s new boyfriend. Then, ask the Supreme Court. Finally, ask yourself why you insist on having sex for fun. "No refills? I have to go through all this again next month?" UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Yup. See you then. UNIDENTIFIED CHILD ACTOR: Can I have a gun. UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Yup. Remember, that`s your right. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Up next, why it is a cultural embarrassment to me that the great white fight for the right to use the word, "thug," is being led by Irish-Americans at their cable news desks. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) In the "Rewrite" tonight, what I hope is the last word about thugs. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAYOR STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE (D), BALTIMORE: I`m a lifelong resident of Baltimore. And too many people have spent generations building up this city, for it to be destroyed by thugs who, in a very senseless way, are trying to tear down what so many have fought for. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A handful of protests, a handful of criminals and thugs who tore up the place. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: When was the last time you used the word, "gay," to mean happy. If you`re under 80 years old, you`ve probably never used it that way. But we`ve all heard it used that way. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NATALIE WOOD, ACTRESS: I feel pretty, oh, so pretty. I feel pretty and witty and gay. MICHAEL BUBLE, SINGER: Have yourself a merry, little Christmas. Make the yuletide gay. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: "Gay" is one of countless English words whose meanings have been changed over time by popular usage. "Gay" transitions to mean homosexual or homosexualist, which had been the kindest words used for gay people. The rest were slurs. During the 20th Century, as the word, "gay," was transitioning, African- Americans watched the slow extinction of racial slurs in public usage. African-Americans comedians and rappers have taken ownership of the most common racial slur and used it in their own ways. But white people never use it now, not in any place where African-Americans can hear them use it. The racial slur has disappeared but racism hasn`t. And so, some African- Americans are understandably a bit suspicious about the former users of racial slurs, that they found a new way to get away with it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RICHARD SHERMAN, SEATTLE SEAHAWKS CORNERBACK: It`s the accepted way of calling somebody the "n" word nowadays. You know, it`s like everybody else says the "n" word, and then I say, "thug." (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: I grew up in a White-Irish neighborhood in Boston, where every little boy in my elementary school would have welcomed the label, "thug." We prized nothing more than toughness. All the thugs I knew or heard about were white, including one whose nickname was "Whitey." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) So, when I hear the word, "thug," I still think Whitey Bulger. But, last week, -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- African-Americans` suspicion about what white people mean when they use the word, "thug," hit its peak. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Isn`t it the right word. CARL STOKES, COUNCILMAN, BALTIMORE CITY: No, of course that`s not the right word to call our children, "thugs." These are children who have been set aside, marginalized, who have not been engaged by us all. We don`t have to call them "thugs." BURNETT: But how does that justify what they did. STOKES: I think that -- BURNETT: I mean, that`s a sense of right and wrong. STOKES: That doesn`t justify what they did. BURNETT: They know it`s wrong to steal and burn down a CVS and that old person`s home. I mean, come on. STOKES: Come on? So, calling them "thugs." Just call them (bleep). Just call them (bleep). No. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Now, I understand what African-American politicians like President Obama and the mayor of Baltimore were trying to convey when they used the word, "thug." In that moment, they were trying to communicate with white Americans, including white Baltimoreans who don`t trust them, don`t trust them to do everything they possibly can to stop rioting, to stop looting, and restore order. The mayor now says she was speaking out of anger and frustration, and she regrets using that word. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RAWLINGS-BLAKE: I should not have characterized people`s kids as "thugs." I`m sure you understand how intense and what a pressure cooker this week has been. And, you know, like I said, I certainly regret saying it. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: People complained about the mayor using that word. And so, she decided to stop using it. Imagine Bill O`Reilly doing that. Well, he did. He just didn`t do it on TV. When Bill O`Reilly was a kid growing up on Long Island, the polite word for African-American was "negro" or "colored." By the time he got to college, those words were being overtaken in popular usage by "black" and then "African-American." And it wasn`t Bill O`Reilly`s idea to stop using the word, "negro" or "colored." But he did. He stopped using those words because African-Americans didn`t want to hear those words anymore. The transition took a while. There were many people, white and black, who had grown attached to the old words and didn`t see any reason to change them. But, eventually, the words, "negro" and "colored" disappeared. So, the question now facing Bill O`Reilly is how many African-Americans have to complain before he stops using the word, "thug." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BILL O`REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: These idiotic thugs, rioting and looting -- (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: It`s a point of cultural embarrassment for me to watch the great white fight for the right to use the word, "thug," being led by Irish-Americans at their cable news desks -- Erin Burnett, Bill O`Reilly, Megyn Kelly. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: I`m thinking "thugs" is not far off the mark. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Who appointed the Irish the judges of which words are racists. How did that happen. To my colleagues in the television news business, I beg you, beg you, when you`re getting ready to use the word, "thug," on national television, ask yourself what the word, "thug," adds to the discussion. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER 1: While thugs burned, pillaged and plundered. UNIDENTIFIED MALE NEWS ANCHOR 2: The thugs lined up. UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER 2: Rioters, looters, thugs -- HOWIE KURTZ, FOX NEWS HOST: The rioters and the thugs -- (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Howie, you could have just said, "rioters." Now, I know Howie Kurtz. I know he didn`t mean anything racial by the use of the word, "thugs." But millions of African-Americans don`t know him. And many of them might suspect that he just might mean something racist. So, again, to my colleagues in television news, please, please, just stop and think about this for just a minute. I ask a minute of your thought time. Please ask yourself what word would a white racist use today on television, on your show, to describe those people we saw throwing stones at police last week and looting a CVS. What would be the first word of choice for a virulent racist to use on your show about those people, and know for certain that he or she could get away with using that word. It would be "thug." You know it would be "thug." And African-Americans know it would be "thug." So, now, you have to ask yourself before you make your comments on national television, how many millions of African-Americans, how many millions of African-American kids are you willing to allow to suspect that you might be racist. How many. And here`s what`s so very nutty about this whole thing -- you don`t need to use that word that creates that suspicion, the word that so many people on television seem so eager to use. We don`t need that word. We don`t need it. There is absolutely nothing that needs to be said about what has happened in Baltimore that demands the use of the word, "thug." Nothing. So, the good news is, we can just drop it, just like that. That`s how easy it is to fix this problem of possible misunderstanding. We can just drop the word, "thug." We know how to do that. It`s not hard. We know how to stop using words in certain ways or stop using them completely. Forever. That`s why no one is calling anyone who broke the law in Baltimore a "negro" or a "ruffian." If you continue to fight for the right to use the word, "thug," television, the one thing we can be sure of is it`s not because you`re trying to add to our understanding of the story. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) JetBlue is now planning regularly scheduled flights from New York`s JFK Airport to Cuba beginning possibly in July. And the U.S. government and a Florida ferry company announced today preliminary approval for that company to run ferry service from Florida to Cuba. The company still has to get approval from the Cuban government and estimates that the service could begin as soon as this fall. Coming up next, the report that Republicans twisted intelligence from the CIA in their hearings on Benghazi. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) The former deputy director of the CIA says that some Republicans distorted intelligence regarding the 2012 attack in Benghazi that killed United States Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) "The New York Times" reports that Michael Morell, in his new book, dismisses the allegation that the United States Military and CIA officers, quote, "were ordered to stand down and not come to the rescue of their comrades." But Mr. Morell also says that the White House itself embellished some of the talking points provided by the Central Intelligence Agency and blocked him from sending an internal study of the agency conclusions to Congress. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has agreed to testify to the House Select Committee on Benghazi. Back with us is Democratic Adam Smith, who`s a member of the House Armed Services Committee. He is also a member of the House Select Committee on Benghazi. Congressman Smith, how does Deputy Director Morell`s new revelations in his book affect the current state of knowledge of what`s going on here. SMITH: It doesn`t change it at all. I mean, we`ve had this investigated, I think it`s nine times, with the Intelligence Committee in the House being the most recent. And, you know, the talking points, -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- CIA`s involvement in it, who spun it this way, who spun it that way. I mean, that`s been talked about for a very long time and reported on in, like I said, a number of official reports. And I mean, the real issue here is we`ve learned -- is this new Benghazi Committee is all about partisanship and politics. It is all about the 2016 Presidential Election, and not about trying to figure anything new out about Benghazi. I think that`s unfortunate but that`s the way the committee said it. So, I don`t think it changes the equation. (END VIDEO CLIP) I think all we need to know about the Benghazi Committee is they`ve spent $3 million thus far and had three hearings, well, for one other thing out there. And they seem to want to push this as close to the November election as possible. And this is something that could have been wrapped up months ago. That wasn`t necessary in the first place but it certainly could have been wrapped up months ago if, indeed, they were trying to figure out something of a substantive policy nature. O`DONNELL: And Congressman Smith, the totally legitimate grounds for Congressional hearings after Benghazi is what about the security issues, what about State Department -- SMITH: Right. O`DONNELL: -- security, embassy security, what happened, was there a failure, what else do we need to do, what other resources might we need. On that, apparently, Mr. Morell`s book, which no one has yet -- "The New York Times" got a copy -- according to "Times," they say, in his book, "Morell is critical of the State Department for not beefing up security in Libya for its diplomats as, he said, had done for their employees." SMITH: Look, it is not that what happened in Benghazi shouldn`t have been investigated. It absolutely should have been investigated. Four Americans died and they shouldn`t have. What went wrong. What can we do better in the future. Those were questions that demanded answers. And we did that. We had an independent panel, like I said, we had several committees that looked into it. That has been investigated. What the Republicans want to do is they want to drag this out as far as possible because, look, I`m a Democrat. You`ve got to be honest about it. This was a bad moment for the Obama administration. Now, every administration that I`m familiar with has had these, these bad moments. It`s a big nasty world. Ronald Reagan, of course, had Beirut. Bill Clinton had Somalia. George W. Bush had 9/11. I mean, these bad moments are going to happen in a presidency. And they deserve to be investigated. But what the Republicans are doing now is they`re trying to drag that out to focus as much attention as possible on it. And, you know, I think that`s -- that`s -- that`s partisan, political, and not the way Congress should be conducting itself. O`DONNELL: Congressman Adam Smith, that`s our last word tonight. Thanks for joining us. Chris Hayes is up next. END