The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 05/11/15

Guests: Nicholas Confessore, Richard Wolffe, Steve Schmidt, Katrina VandenHeuvel, Christopher Price, Jordan Schultz, Garrett Quinn

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: Thanks Rachel, Rachel, I`m -- MADDOW: Bye -- O`DONNELL: In the saddest place in the world. MADDOW: What? O`DONNELL: I am in Boston -- MADDOW: Oh, you`re in Boston? O`DONNELL: Massachusetts -- MADDOW: Yes -- O`DONNELL: That where the Patriots depression could not be more intense. MADDOW: The fact that he comes back just in time for a Colts game is somehow satisfying though. (LAUGHTER) O`DONNELL: Well, we`ll see -- MADDOW: Thanks -- O`DONNELL: We`ll see how that appeal goes. MADDOW: Yes -- (LAUGHTER) O`DONNELL: Thanks Rachel -- MADDOW: Thanks. O`DONNELL: Well, Jeb Bush is insisting tonight that his campaign is not in trouble. But some Republicans are outraged about what he just said on Fox News. And a vote in the Senate tomorrow will show who is the leader of the Senate Democrats now; President Obama or Senator Elizabeth Warren. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS: Knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion? JEB BUSH, FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: I would have, and so would have Hillary Clinton. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The family drama is a staple of movies and TV series. BUSH: The intelligence that everybody saw was faulty. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And now the race for president. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Jeb Bush is going to have to fight much harder for it. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His brother`s record is one of the looming issues. LAURA INGRAHAM, RADIO HOST: We have to have someone who says look, I`m a Republican, but I`m not an idiot, I`m not -- I`m not stupid. GEORGE WALKER BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Fool me once, shame on you -- you fooled me, you can`t get fooled again. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s very -- create distance from family here -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The family drama -- SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Who will benefit from the TPP? SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), VERMONT: The TPP in my view is a continuation of disastrous trade policies -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Obama criticized fellow Democrats fighting the trade deal -- JOSH EARNEST, PRESS SECRETARY, WHITE HOUSE: He believes the Democrats should be supportive of the trade agreement -- WARREN: When the process is rigged, then the outcome is likely to be rigged. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On most issues, she and I deeply agree. On this one though, her arguments don`t stand the test of fact. WARREN: When the process is rigged, then the outcome is likely to be rigged. TOM BRADY, QUARTERBACK, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: And I believe in fair play and I respect the league and everything that they`re doing to try to create a very competitive playing field for all the NFL teams. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tom Brady will be suspended for four games. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Brady will appeal this punishment. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He would return on a Sunday night against the Indianapolis Colts, the very team that started the whole deflategate thing. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In the court of public opinion outside of New England, he`s never going to win this. BUSH: Fool me once, shame on you -- you fooled me, you can`t get fooled again. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: For the last 48 hours, Republicans have been processing the news that Jeb Bush knowing everything that we know now says that he still would have invaded Iraq just like his brother did. Even knowing that there were no weapons of mass destruction. But in tonight`s Fox News interview just moments ago, Jeb Bush also attacked President Obama`s foreign policy. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BUSH: Name a country where America`s prestige or relationship is better today than the day President Obama took office? I can think of two, Cuba and Iran. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Jeb Bush insists that he is still the best person to beat Hillary Clinton in the general election. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KELLY: You cannot press one of her biggest downsides, namely, that the Clintons are history, that, that name is history, her candidacy feels old, and that the country needs a fresh start, do they have a point? BUSH: Megyn, I haven`t been in Washington over the last ever. I`m not part of Washington. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: But if Jeb Bush does not become the next president of the United States, it just might turn out to be because of this moment. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KELLY: On the subject of Iraq -- BUSH: Yes -- KELLY: Obviously very controversial, knowing what we know now, would you have authorized the invasion? BUSH: I would have, and so would have Hillary Clinton, just to remind everybody, and so would have almost everybody that was confronted with the intelligence they got. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: No one had a sharper reaction to that than conservative radio host Laura Ingraham. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) INGRAHAM: And she said knowing what you know now, would you still authorize the invasion? To which he said yes, I would. Well, they`re all faulty and so would Hillary, no, Hillary wouldn`t. Hillary wouldn`t authorize the war now if she knew what she knew now then? No, of course not. But that`s -- just look, that`s just a fun hypothetical. But you have to say no to that, you can`t say yes, I still would have gone into Iraq. Or -- and if you do, you just have to have -- there have to be something wrong with you. You can`t still think that going into Iraq now as a sane human being was the right thing to do. I don`t -- I just -- that`s like -- you have no ability to learn from past mistakes at all -- well, when the past mistakes were made by your brother. (END AUDIO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Jeb Bush conceded that the intelligence his brother had was "faulty", and then Jeb Bush said this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BUSH: By the way, guess who thinks that those mistakes took place as well, George W. Bush. KELLY: Your brother. BUSH: Yes, I mean, so just for the -- you know, news flash to the world, if they`re trying to find places where there`s big space between me and my brother, this might not be one of those. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher for "The Nation" magazine, Nicholas Confessore, political reporter for the "New York Times", Richard Wolffe, executive editor and Steve Schmidt, a Republican strategist and an Msnbc political analyst. Nick Confessore, this is sounding like a re-run of a Republican presidential campaign of some years ago. There was nothing wrong with invading Iraq, I`d do it again even knowing what I know now. This is kind of -- this is astonishing stuff. NICHOLAS CONFESSORE, POLITICAL REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: I mean, it`s a fascinating comment. Because the question, Lawrence, you know, wasn`t if you were in his shoes back then, but what choice would you have made? The question was knowing everything we know now, would you have made the same decision? And he said yes. I`m not sure anyone else in this race except for John Bolton maybe would make the same assertion. O`DONNELL: And Richard Wolffe, this is -- this is an indication that this candidate just might not quite be ready for prime time. It might be with good reason that he hasn`t yet announced, although he`s not exactly -- he is not exactly hiding in the shadows while he hasn`t announced. RICHARD WOLFFE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, MSNBC.COM: No, he is not hiding, and also, this was just about the most predictable question he could have faced. So, it`s not a gotcha really, it`s not a surprise. In fact, this formulation of the question has been asked to every single candidate since John Kerry in 2004. And he stumbled over it. Now it`s OK to stumble over it when you have just voted to authorize the war. Jeff Bush isn`t in that position and it just strikes me as -- almost a sort of Roger Mudd moment. Because he`s clearly not thinking about communicating to the country, he is clearly thinking about his brother, which was Ted Kennedy`s problem. That sort of blank look on Ted Kennedy`s face when he had that Roger Mudd moment, he is thinking about his brother, and all you see when you look at Jeb Bush right now is, well, are they trying to find some gap between me and my brother? And that`s not going to be it, and he is defining himself with regard to his brother and not to where the country is or what that journey has been over the last several years. O`DONNELL: Steve Schmidt, how did it sound to you? Laura Ingraham was pretty outraged by it. STEVE SCHMIDT, CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST & PUBLIC RELATIONS WORKER FOR THE UNITED STATES REPUBLICAN PARTY: Look, when the question is asked, it presupposes that the foundation for making the decision includes the fact that there is no weapons of mass destruction present there. Because we have -- with Megyn Kelly`s question, the benefit of full hindsight. So, we now have a moment in the Republican primary where candidates have the opportunity to have an oppositional view to Jeb Bush on this. And particularly when you look at Scott Walker, when you look at Marco Rubio who are making the argument that Jeb Bush is a candidate of the past, we need to have new candidates, new ideas in order to beat Hillary Clinton. That the Republican Party in a change election is handicapped with a name from the past. This gives them a lot of fader, a lot of ammunition I think to pursue that argument. So, I think that question will be a big deal in the debate as it plays out over the months ahead. And as Richard said, this was a question that you could see coming down the train tracks from miles away. O`DONNELL: And Katrina Vanden Heuvel, do you expect one of those Republican candidates to be able to exploit this? KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL, EDITOR & PUBLISHER, THE NATION: I do, but let me step back, I mean with all the talk of personalities. This was the greatest foreign policy disaster in U.S. history. There has been very little accountability, the media has failed to hold accountable many of the key architects. The invasion of Iraq has set the stage for the chaos we now see in Iraq, in the region, so all the Republicans railing about what`s going on in the region should take a moment to think about what Bush`s invasion set in motion. And on a human level, this country, it cost this country some $3 trillion according to Joseph Stiglitz. Four thousand men and women lost their lives, 350,000 vets have brain injuries. So, I think we need to step back and wonder, isn`t this a moment of disqualification? Now, in terms of a candidate inside the Republican Party, Rand Paul was not in South Carolina this past weekend. But he does in my mind have a foreign policy I don`t agree with any of his domestic agenda, but a foreign policy that I think is more in sync with this country and with people. The elites want more war, but endless war doesn`t equal national security, Jeb Bush and his brother may think so, so would other architects of this disaster who still go and peddle their lies across this nation. O`DONNELL: Let`s listen to one more thing that Laura Ingraham said about this. (BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) INGRAHAM: We have to have someone who says, look, I`m a Republican, but I`m not an idiot. I`m not -- I`m not stupid. I am a conservative and I learn from the past and I improve myself. I don`t bring in the same people who made the same stupid decisions in the 2000s to get us into the 21st century -- the next part of the 21st century, I should say. So come on, I mean, who -- we can learn, but it`s hard -- but it`s your brother, you don`t want to do -- you don`t go down there hard, he`s your brother. (END AUDIO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Nick Confessore, Laura Ingraham leaves me no room -- (LAUGHTER) I have nothing to add to that. CONFESSORE: You know, it`s manifesting, you`re right? This carries all kinds of echoes. Here you have a candidate who wants to be his own man, who wants to be about the future, and he is having an argument about his brother`s war and his brother`s foreign policy from ten years ago. So, it`s not an easy way to spin forward, but it`s also very hard to walk away from. I mean, you heard him in that speech criticizing Obama for making too many enemies around the world. You know, it wasn`t so long ago that the critique from Republicans was that we were trying too hard to make friends around the world. He`s even trying to navigate this and it`s very hard to walk away from your brother. O`DONNELL: And Steve Schmidt, it sounded like Jeb Bush was trying to define bold as being willing to embrace George W. Bush, which I guess is one definition of bold. SCHMIDT: Look, when we look at the Republican Party today, there`s unanimity inside the Republican Party, and President Obama`s national security parties have been disastrous from leaving no force behind in Iraq. Precipitating the losing of the furies that we see playing out there now, Yemen, Libya, the reset with Russia. The question is though for Republican candidates, can you criticize Barack Obama`s foreign policy, well, having to own lock, stock, and barrel George Bush`s foreign policy. Or -- or are you able to make a critique of a new direction that criticizes both the Obama foreign policy and aspects of George W. Bush`s foreign policy? That became much more difficult today for Jeb Bush to do. It`s much easier for Marco Rubio to do, for Rand Paul, for Rick Perry, for Scott Walker who don`t own those decisions. Who don`t have a lot of the members of their staff being part of the architecture of making those decisions in the first place. So I think this is a big moment, and all these Republican candidates are going to be interviewed by Megyn Kelly, and I think this interview demonstrates they better have their `A` game when they go sit down with her. Because she makes news every time she interviews a Republican heavyweight. HEUVEL: Lawrence -- O`DONNELL: But -- but hold it, Katrina, I want to -- HEUVEL: Yes -- O`DONNELL: Get you in here because -- HEUVEL: I was -- O`DONNELL: Every -- HEUVEL: Yes -- O`DONNELL: Every Republican candidate wants to take us backward. They all want to have at least a cold war with Iran, if not a hot war and they all want to go back to a cold war with Cuba. HEUVEL: Yes, the Republican Party is totally out of sync with policy toward Cuba. Majorities -- large majorities of this country including Cuban Americans in Florida want a new path, want a normalization with Cuba. On Iran, majorities of Americans want diplomatic resolution, they don`t want more war. But I will say, both parties are complicit in forming a new cold war with Russia. Russia is responsible, but the United States has badly handled what could be an escalating crisis. O`DONNELL: All right, we`re going to hold it there, we`re going to bring everyone back after the break, we`re going to talk about the big showdown in the Senate tomorrow between President Obama and Senator Elizabeth Warren over trade. And of course, I`m here in Boston tonight where we must talk about what`s happening with Tom Brady. And in the rewrite tonight, when a conspiracy theory becomes an intelligence test. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: Tonight, we have a new front runner in the contest for most disgusting campaign tactic of the year. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator (INAUDIBLE) a couple of quick open remarks (INAUDIBLE) -- (APPLAUSE) (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: That was David Chesley, Rand Paul`s political director in New Hampshire trying to block a camera at a Rand Paul event today by licking it. Good luck, trying to come up with a more disgusting campaign tactic than that. Coming up, the big Democratic Party arguments led by President Obama and Elizabeth Warren. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: On the eve of the first big vote in the Senate on President Obama`s trade policy, conflict between the President and Senator Elizabeth Warren is intensifying. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) OBAMA: On most issues, she and I deeply agree. On this one though, her arguments don`t stand the test of fact and scrutiny. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Over the weekend, President Obama took on Senator Warren`s arguments that the Pacific Trade deal that the President is negotiating could eventually allow international corporations to undermine the Dodd- Frank financial regulation bill. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator Warren said this week, this pact could be used to roll back Dodd-Frank which is -- OBAMA: She`s absolutely wrong. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Close to your heart and it`s a -- (CROSSTALK) OBAMA: Right, I passed it -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re coming at you pretty -- I know, I know, I agree it`s wrong, but -- OBAMA: I understand, so -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They`re coming at you pretty hard on this, aren`t they? OBAMA: I understand, and think about the logic of that, right? The notion that I have this massive fight with Wall Street to make sure that we don`t repeat what happened in 2007-2008. And then I sign a provision that would unravel it? I`d have to be pretty stupid. And it doesn`t make any sense. There is no evidence that this could ever be used in this way. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Senator Warren responded today in an interview with "The Washington Post" saying, "the President has committed only to letting the public see this deal after Congress votes to authorize fast track. At that point, it will be impossible for us to amend the agreement or to block any part of it without tanking the whole TPP. The TPP is basically done if the President is so confident that it`s a good deal, he should declassify the text and let people see it before asking Congress to tie its hands on fixing it." The Senate will take its first vote to reinstate fast track authority for the president to negotiate tomorrow afternoon. And the presidents have had fast track authority from 1975 to 1994 and again from 2002 to 2007. It gives the President of the United States authority to negotiate international trade agreements that Congress can then vote to approve or disapprove, but cannot amend or filibuster. We`re back with the panel on this, Nick Confessore, the President`s argument is, look, why would I try to undermine and dismantle Dodd-Frank, I worked hard to pass it? CONFESSORE: Well, you know, her argument is kind of brilliant, which is if it`s so good, show it to us. And it`s not such a liberal thing. You hear conservatives and Republicans complaining about this. In a strange way, she`s harnessing her suspicion of Obama, on the right, she`s saying show us the money, what`s in this? And if it`s so good, why is it classified? And it`s a great question. Your average voter, you know, who might be cranky about trade deals is also wondering, you know, how come it`s so secret? O`DONNELL: Well, it`s not secret and it`s not classified, Elizabeth Warren can read every word of it right now. This is the standard way in which these trade deals are negotiated. Some of these things involve information that the various negotiating parties don`t want public until the end, because their positions change as it`s going on. And so Richard Wolffe, we`re finding this president running into more difficulty in this area than any president before him. WOLFFE: Well, at least with Democrats, at least with a certain wing of the Democrats right now. And this is -- look, post recession, this is not a surprising argument for the left wing of the Democratic Party to take on. But you know, this president, were it not for the war in Iraq, you would know this president to be center and center-left, and it doesn`t surprise me the slightest that he is taking a pro-trade view which the hard core of the party doesn`t like. Doesn`t -- they never like NAFTA, there`s been suspicions about every trade deal since fast track is precisely meant to bypass these kinds of debates. Because you get picked apart from the left, you get picked apart from the various business interest on the right. So, this is exactly the end run that fast track is meant to engineer. And he is running into trouble from people who want to roadblock the whole thing, that`s what this is supposed to deal with. O`DONNELL: Well, Katrina, fast track doesn`t shut off debate, but it does shut off the capacity to offer amendments on the theory that on a trade bill you would get at least a hundred amendments. You know, from each senator would have one, each member of the house would have one for their local interests. Some company in their local jurisdiction where they`re known to, you know, rush to the support of that particular -- HEUVEL: But Lawrence -- O`DONNELL: Company. HEUVEL: But Lawrence, I mean -- O`DONNELL: Go ahead -- HEUVEL: What -- progressives aren`t opposed to trade or globalization. They`re opposed to trade deals that have been written by, for the banks and investment companies that are rigged to benefit the few. I think -- any Democratic what`s going on. I`ve spoken to a few Congress people who -- you`re not allowed to go into this room where these classified documents exist. You`re not allowed to go in with an aide, a pencil, it`s classified. Why is it -- O`DONNELL: But every word, Katrina -- HEUVEL: Classified? -- O`DONNELL: Katrina, every -- HEUVEL: But it has been -- O`DONNELL: Every word -- hold it. Let`s just -- HEUVEL: But every trade deal has been classified -- O`DONNELL: Every -- HEUVEL: But -- O`DONNELL: Single -- HEUVEL: But -- O`DONNELL: Word of it -- HEUVEL: All right -- O`DONNELL: Is going to be -- HEUVEL: And now, you know -- O`DONNELL: Public -- HEUVEL: What? This is -- O`DONNELL: For four -- HEUVEL: No -- O`DONNELL: Months -- just hold it, I can`t let this particular falsehood - - HEUVEL: So why not now? O`DONNELL: Be advanced -- HEUVEL: Why not now? O`DONNELL: No, hold it -- HEUVEL: Isn`t it Anti-Democratic -- O`DONNELL: Hold it -- HEUVEL: Not to be able to -- O`DONNELL: What -- HEUVEL: See these documents -- O`DONNELL: Every -- HEUVEL: Now? -- O`DONNELL: Let`s just hold it. It is not going to be a secret. Every member of Congress can read it right now, Elizabeth Warren can read it right now -- HEUVEL: They can`t read, there`s no -- O`DONNELL: And she knows it -- HEUVEL: There is no -- O`DONNELL: And she knows it, OK? HEUVEL: There is no -- O`DONNELL: However -- HEUVEL: Document on currency manipulation for example. And by the way, by the way, Lawrence, the investor-state dispute settlement documents were leaked. They had to be leaked by WikiLeaks in order for Congress people to know about it. The larger issue with it, is the case, as you said, Lawrence, the trade agreements have been done like this. This is a new moment in America. There is a populist descendancy, there is a fight within the Democratic Party as there should be. We deserve more than one monolithic party on this issue, and I think we`re going to see populist reform agendas frame this election. And they are framing this debate, and it is about human beings, workers, and I think it`s fully any American, Un-American to have secret documents. And the workers, the environment, no transparency dominate trade accords. O`DONNELL: Every chairman`s mark, which is to say the beginning of every single piece of legislation that has been advanced in the Congress is always secret as you would put it -- HEUVEL: Time for a change -- O`DONNELL: Before -- hold it. Every single piece of legislation including all of the Obamacare legislation, it was all secret until the chairman of each committee involved then produced the document in a hearing where it was voted on. That`s exactly what`s going to happen here. There is nothing different about -- HEUVEL: You`re wrong -- O`DONNELL: This process -- HEUVEL: And the fast track -- O`DONNELL: Than everything else they do. HEUVEL: Well, first of all, it`s time for a change, and I believe there will be a trans-partisan movement to change that. Because that means ordinary people`s voices are being locked out, not only by money, but by the process you`re describing. And I think -- O`DONNELL: Steve -- HEUVEL: The trade -- the trade agreement is a moment to understand the failures of this system. The way it has been -- time for change. O`DONNELL: Steve Schmidt, Elizabeth Warren is raising a theoretical objection on the notion that the tribunals that are used to a jury -- international trade disputes will then be used to reach in and undermine the Dodd-Frank bill. Without ever acknowledging that every single time any such move -- and by the way, these things already exist in fifty trade agreements that we`re already involved in. And any time anyone has ever tried to bring one of those cases against the United States, every single time, they have lost. Every single time the United States has won. And so my feeling is, Steve, that until they get this bill out there for the four months that it`s going to be sitting out there for everyone to read, and of course, even then, most members of Congress won`t read it. The President is still going to be up against all this kind of mythological talk about what`s going on. SCHMIDT: Well, trades become a very complex issue in this country. The unanimity that existed in the Republican Party with regard to "free trade" is gone. You see an awful lot of Republicans that are critical of this deal as well. But I think, Lawrence, specifically with regard to Elizabeth Warren, you see her emerging as a titanic figure on the Democratic left in the Democratic Party. And I think warrenism is going to be something that we`ll see whether it`s Martin O`Malley, whether it`s Bernie Sanders. But someone is going to be a champion of warrenism against the centrism of Hillary Clinton and clintonomics over the course of the Democratic primary. And I think it`s going to be very interesting as that plays out. O`DONNELL: Richard Wolffe, Hillary Clinton was a champion of TPP as secretary of state saying it was the gold standard of trade agreements. Because it in fact had gone further in the directions that Katrina and other critics have been talking about for years, more so than any other trade, but before it -- but how is Hillary Clinton handling this in the campaign so far? WOLFFE: Well, she`s adopted some of the rhetoric here, but if she adopts the policies, she`s going to have a terrible time in the general election. And you don`t have to look very far to see where that takes the left, because look at what the recent elections did to the British Labor Party. Over there, you had an anti-capitalist rhetoric that translated into a very bad position for the British Labor Party. HEUVEL: This is not anti -- (CROSSTALK) This is not anti-capitalist. This is not -- O`DONNELL: Go ahead Katrina -- HEUVEL: Anti-capitalist, this is about fairness. It`s not anti- capitalist, it`s about lifting up small business which gets smashed if there was a trade accord like this, so -- WOLFFE: And who -- O`DONNELL: Katrina, progressive critics always preface their remarks by saying they`re not against trade and they`re not against trade agreements. Are there any trade agreements that the United States has engaged in that you support? HEUVEL: I haven`t supported the last 20 years of trade agreements, because I do think when President Obama says of his opponents that they`re talking about the past. I believe he`s recycling old arguments that were made for example in favor of NAFTA or CAFTA. And we`ve seen how those have worked out, Lawrence. I really come back to what Steve Schmidt said, I think you`re going to see people in all parties worried, troubled by what`s happening to this country under these trade agreements. O`DONNELL: Katrina Vanden Heuvel gets the last word on it tonight. Nick Confessore, Richard Wolffe, Steve Schmidt, Katrina, thank you all for joining -- HEUVEL: Thank you -- O`DONNELL: Me tonight. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. O`DONNELL: Well, the Patriots just got the biggest fine ever, and Tom Brady got suspended, Brady`s agent promises an appeal. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: As the sun was setting here in Boston today, what was unthinkable just a week ago actually happened. The NFL suspended Patriots -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- Quarterback Tom Brady for the first four games of the season. New England Patriots were fined a million dollars based on the findings of the league`s investigation of the deflation of footballs by the Patriots. The punishment also includes the loss of a first-round draft pick in 2016 and a fourth-round draft pick in 2017. Today, the NFL`s Executive Vice President said this in a letter to Tom Brady -- TEXT: "With respect to your particular involvement, the report established that there is substantial and credible evidence to conclude you were, at least, generally aware of the actions of the Patriots employees involved in the deflation of the footballs." "Your actions, as set forth in the report, clearly constitute conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the game of professional football." Tom Brady has three days -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- to appeal the suspension. This evening, his agent issued this statement -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TEXT: "We will appeal. And if the hearing officer is completely independent and neutral, I am very confident the Wells report will be exposed as an incredibly frail exercise in fact-finding and logic. "The NFL has a well-documented history of making poor disciplinary decisions that often are overturned when truly independent and neutral judges or arbiters preside." "And a former federal judge has found the commissioner has abused his discretion in the past." Today`s fine matches the -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- largest fine the NFL has ever given. In 1999, the league fined the owner of the San Francisco 49ers $1 million after he pled guilty to a felony and a bribery scandal in Louisiana. Joining us now is Christopher Price, a columnist for WEEI Radio in Boston, and Jordan Schultz, a "Huffington Post" sports columnist. Christopher Price, how does this appeals process work. CHRISTOPHER PRICE, WEEI RADIO COLUMNIST: I think, right now, what we`re looking at is there`s a three-day window, not necessarily window, but that`s really the next step for Brady and Don Yee and the rest of his people. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) He`s got to file an appeal with the rest of the league. I don`t want to pull rank. I don`t think Brady would be interested in pulling ranks here. But, I think, when you look at the incredibly high-profile nature of this case, I think he deserves a face-to-face sit-down with Roger Goodell. There`s some question as to who would handle the appeal. But, I think, in this case, it`s got to be Goodell. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: But, Jordan Schultz, does Tom Brady really want to submit to questions about this. JORDAN SCHULTZ, SPORTS COLUMNIST, HUFFINGTON POST: I don`t -- PRICE: I think -- SCHULTZ: Oh, go ahead. PRICE: No, I think that`s a terrific question. I think, when you look at the way this thing has been handled to this point, I think he was very right in terms of not turning over his e-mails, his texts, his phone over to the National Football League. When you look at the way they`ve handled scandals over the last four, five years, you look at the way the leaks have been coming in this case, -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- I think he was perfectly right. I think he`s perfectly well within his bounce to do the show. SCHULTZ: Yes. I will respond to that by saying that`s fine and this is not a court of law, this is the NFL. But, that being said, doesn`t he necessarily, at least to a degree, indict himself by not cooperating then. PRICE: I think there`s something to that. I think that a league and a team, specifically in the Patriots, who are looking to be as transparent as possible in this situation, I think it would have behooved him to really turn all the information over that he could. But, at the same time, I think, going back to my original point, if you look at the way the league has handled this, who`s to say that those records don`t eventually -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- find their way into the public eye. O`DONNELL: Christopher, I was at a huge graduation -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- ceremony today at Hynes Auditorium as this word started to drift in and out on Boylston Street, it really was like the Patriots just lost the Superbowl in this town today. Tell us what it`s felt like. PRICE: I think it`s been interesting. I think that, really, in my experience, nobody circles the wagons though quite like Patriots fans. And they`ve really started to embrace this. They really started to embrace the idea of the team that wears the black hat, the villain. And they are perfectly willing to go through the 2015 Season -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- with this, with this situation. Look, for them, it`s not great to lose Brady. But, at the same time, I think, if you look back to what happened in 2007, they were able to carry a chip on their shoulder through the entire season. They were able to deploy a scorched earth policy on the rest of the National Football League. I don`t know if they have -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- the same personnel to do it this time around. But in terms of bulletin board material, I think Bill Belichick has been given a tremendous gift with this situation. O`DONNELL: Jordan Schultz, the reaction here in Boston is one thing, the reaction out there among the other fans for other teams seems to be exactly the opposite. SCHULTZ: Well, Lawrence, you know I`m a Seattle guy so, obviously, I`m biased here. But I will say that I think this is a big opportunity for Roger Goodell. He`s viewing it as an opportunity to get back to being that hammer that he thought or, at least, that he promised he would be. And you back to -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- Ray Rice scandal, he really disappeared during that. He`s disappeared during domestic violence where he hasn`t really been that leader. And I think, now is his opportunity, a bit of a saving grace. (END VIDEO CLIP) But I also think the NFL and Roger Goodell, Troy Vincent is clearly saying, whether you agree with the punishment or not is immaterial in terms of what Tom Brady actually did like, in other words, right now, you`re looking at it. And Tom Brady actually tried to circumvent the rule. That`s the key. What`s immaterial is whether or not he gained a competitive advantage. But going back to 2008 under Goodell, -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- gaining a competitive advantage illegally is like the ultimate no-no in the NFL. And that, I think, is the biggest reason why it`s four games, and not one or two. (END VIDEO CLIP) PRICE: Let me jump in real quick if I could. O`DONNELL: Go ahead, Christopher. Go ahead. PRICE: The idea that Brady somehow gained some sort of competitive advantage, I do think that Brady was at fault in this. I think he could have handled himself a lot better, a lot of places along the day. The end of the day, there`s no smoking gun here. There`s no text from Brady to McNally and Jamstreski saying, "Underinflate these footballs outside of that legal PSI limit." O`DONNELL: Jordan Schultz, I`m sure you`ll understand, tonight, THE LAST WORD on this goes to the Boston guy, Christopher Price. Thank you both very much for joining me tonight. PRICE: Thank you. O`DONNELL: Coming up, we have a winner now for the Stupidest Conspiracy Theory of the Year. And that`s in the "Rewrite." (COMMERCIAL BREAK) George Zimmerman suffered minor injuries in a shooting incident in -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- Orlando, Florida suburb today. Police say, the shooting involved Zimmerman and a man named Matthew Apperson. And, at this time, Zimmerman was not the shooter. Video of the scene shows a bullet hole in the side window of George Zimmerman`s truck. He was hit in the face with glass but has since been released from the hospital. Police say, Zimmerman and Apperson had a road-rage encounter in September, 2014. No one has been arrested or charged in -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- today`s shooting. The "Rewrite" is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) In the "Rewrite" tonight, what happens when a conspiracy theory is also an intelligence test. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE ANCHOR: Now, to a Texas-sized conspiracy theory, sparking headlines across the country, including this week in "The New York Times." The theory, that an upcoming Pentagon training exercise is actually part of a plan to impose martial law. To many, it`s far-fetched. But not to some of the top politicians in the Lone Star State. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: "Far-fetched." That is such a polite description of this particular conspiracy theory. This is the stupidest conspiracy theory of the year. It might even be the stupidest conspiracy theory of the 21st Century. It certainly is the simplest, one-line intelligence test of the 21st Century. Let`s watch one Texan taking that test. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is a preparation for martial law. UNIDENTIFIED MALE INTERVIEWER: It is not a preparation for martial law, sir. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That`s what you say. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: The most conservative panelist on ABC, yesterday morning, found a way to describe what`s happening in Texas without ever using the word, "stupid." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RICH LOWRY, EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW: I`m all in favor of a healthy distrust of the government, but not paranoia. There are many threats to our liberty. The U.S. Military isn`t one of them. And, besides, federal controls Texas. That`s something that`s pretty much established in the mid-19th Century by President Polk. So, the idea that the federal government is going to go in and retake over Texas is just nonsense. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Beautifully put, beautifully put, paranoia and nonsense. Everyone on the panel agreed wholeheartedly that it`s paranoia and nonsense, everyone except one. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: It`s a lot because our leaders are not showing a whole lot of leadership and giving a lot of instruction to the American people. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Not giving instruction to the American people? Actually, that`s exactly what the government is doing in public elementary schools and high schools, where the government gives instruction about what a state is and what a governor is and what a president is and what America is. And if Texans aren`t paying attention to that instruction, what`s a leader to do. VAN SUSTEREN: This was -- you know, when I was on the air, I got a million e-mails about this, like that Texas was, somehow, under siege or something. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: While on the air, she, of course, means Fox News, which, apparently has, by her estimate, a million viewers who have the time to send e-mails to Fox News about Texas being under siege or something, under siege by the government of the United States. Now, I admittedly, have a smaller audience than Greta but I`ve received no e-mails about this from anyone, not from anyone who believes it, not from anyone who thinks it`s crazy. No e-mails from anyone. None. Zero. What is it about Fox News that attracts a millions e-mails about one of the 50 states being under siege by the federal government. A million e-mails about nonsense and paranoia. Could it be that Fox News always finds a way to blame President Obama for everything, even the stunningly stupid idea. I mean -- sorry, I mean "far-fetched" idea that President Obama is planning an American military invasion of Texas. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) VAN SUSTEREN: The problem is, I do fault our leaders. They`re supposed to lead. They could have just picked up the phone and they could have head this one off at the pass a long time ago. But they don`t. They don`t -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE PANELIST: Which leaders are you talking about. VAN SUSTEREN: I`m talking about -- they show it on the Democrats, Republicans, the governors in the Pentagon, the President in the Hill. You know, all of the -- many of these problems that we have, there`s a lot of this because nobody`s talking to anybody. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Did you notice that, on this one, in order to blame the President, she had to pretend she was throwing in other leaders, all unnamed, all plural, not "a governor," not "the governor" of Texas, just "the governors," and "the Democrats" and "the Republicans." The President is the only individual who, Greta Van Susteren blames for the paranoia and the nonsense we`re hearing in Texas today. She`s blaming the President of the United States for not calling up the governor of Texas and explaining to the governor of Texas what a state is, and what a governor is, and what the president is, and what the United States of America is, and what the United States Military is. And, I suppose, reminding the governor that the United States Military has always had soldiers stationed in Texas and now has 125,000 active duty military personnel stationed in Texas, which is like way more than have ever been stationed in Afghanistan, a place we actually did invade. Greta actually said that President Obama should use presidential time, each minute of which is invaluable to the governance of the United States and to international relations. The President should use presidential time to explain to the governor of Texas what Texas schools were supposed to have taught the governor in elementary school and in high school. And if the President would just do that, then Greta and Fox News would be spared another million e-mails full of paranoia and nonsense about President Obama. Of course, what Greta said there turned out to be an intelligence test of its own. If you believe that it`s within President Obama`s power of persuasion to stop the Fox News audience from sending a million e-mails filled with paranoia and nonsense about the President, then you just failed that test. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) Today, there was testimony that the prosecution did not want the jury to hear in the Boston Marathon Bombing case. The nun who could save Dzhokhar Tsarnaev`s life. That`s next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) Testimony ended here in Boston today in the penalty phase of the Boston Marathon Bombing trial. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) The final defense witness pleading to spare the life of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was Sister Helen Prejean, who was portrayed by Susan Sarandon in the 1995 film, "Dead Man Walking." SEAN PENN, ACTOR: The boy, Walter -- SUSAN SARANDON, ACTRESS: What? PENN: I killed him. SARANDON: Adult? PENN: A boy. SARANDON: Did you rape her. PENN: Yes, ma`am. SARANDON: Did you take responsibility for both of their deaths. PENN: Yes ma`am. When the lights dimmed last night, I kneeled down and prayed for them kids. I never done that before. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: That was the breakthrough scene in the film where Sister Prejean got a convicted murderer, played by Sean Penn, to admit what he did as the death penalty was closing in on him. Sister Prejean told the -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- jury today that after several meetings with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, she had a sort of breakthrough with him. And he seemed genuinely sorry for what he did. Those are her words, "genuinely sorry." She said Tsarnaev told her, quote, "No one deserves to suffer like they did." Tsarnaev has never said that publicly and did not take the witness stand in his own defense. Joining us now is Garrett Quinn, a reporter for, -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- who`s been in the courtroom throughout the trial. Garrett, what was it like in there today when Sister Prejean was testifying. GARRETT QUINN, MASSLIVE.COM REPORTER: There was a lot of build-up to whether or not she was actually going to take the stand. And I think, for a lot of people who have given all the -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) -- talk and discussion over the last couple of days, it was somewhat of a letdown. She only spoke for approximately 15 minutes. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: And, do we have any idea about the religious composition of the jury. QUINN: Not a complete breakdown of all of them. Depending on what happened during jury selection process. A lot of the religious background was not actually discussed. O`DONNELL: But it is kind of statistically impossible for there to be no Catholics on that jury, in a Boston jury pool, federal jury pool. And all they need -- the defense needs just one, just one to see this the way Sister Prejean sees it. QUINN: That`s correct. In a federal death penalty case, you only need to -- you do not need -- you need a unanimous decision to get the death penalty. So, if you don`t get that, it automatically goes to life. O`DONNELL: She was asked today if the defense was paying her to testify. She said, "Absolutely not." And then, there was this exchange where the defense lawyer said to her, -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TEXT: "Would you tell the jury that he was sincerely remorseful if you did not believe that." And Sister Prejean said, "No, I would not." And a nun saying that under oath to a jury is, -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- I would think, is a pretty convincing piece of testimony that doesn`t necessarily -- not necessarily turn out to be the thing that determines their vote though. QUINN: Right. Well, I think, bringing her in was a way to also have him testify without actually having him testify. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) Plus, she`s a big name. When she entered the courtroom, a lot of the jurors in the jury box from where I was sitting in the courtroom, appeared to be craning their necks to get a look at her as she came in. O`DONNELL: Yes, it`s -- she`s the only person who`s been, you know, played by an actress who won the Oscar for that portrayal, you know, -- QUINN: Right. O`DONNELL: -- showing up in that courtroom. But it`s a difficult argument to make, especially to a group of jurors who, in being selected, had to say that they were willing to impose the death penalty. QUINN: Correct. That was one of the prerequisites for forming this jury. Each juror had to say they were at least open, receptive to the possibility of sentencing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death. Whether they do that or not, I think it`s really difficult to say it at this juncture in the trial. Some of the jurors have appeared to be checked out at this point while others appeared very dialed in. The was a -- Sister Prejean`s testimony appeared to be very interesting to a lot of the jurors. But the stuff that came later about the prison, a lot of it was -- (END VIDEO CLIP) -- the government recalled two experts about prison life. And they did not exactly bring the jury -- excite the jury. But a lot of the stuff that they were hearing was things that they had already heard. O`DONNELL: And so, Garrett, what is next, just the final arguments in this penalty phase? QUINN: Right. So, now, what happens is, tomorrow, there is no court. They have the day off. The next day, on Wednesday, they will have -- they will be given closing arguments from the defense and for the government. We don`t know how much time they`re going to have. And then, after the defense goes, the government gets a limited rebuttal period to rebut the defense`s argument. And then, we go to the jury instructions. That`ll take a while. O`DONNELL: And Sister Prejean was the only witness that the prosecution fought. They actually tried to keep that out of the courtroom. QUINN: They fought her, to keep her out of the courtroom, yes. But there was a witness that was a prison - a bureau prisons expert that they battled heavily on the stand. O`DONNELL: OK, so they were - prosecution was worried about her testimony today. Garrett Quinn with MassLive, thank you very much for joining us tonight. Chris Hayes is up next. END