The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, Transcript 05/13/15

Guests: Robert Pottroff, Ezra Klein, Paul Chung, Ayman Mohyeldin, AndrewTangel, John Goglia, Patrick Murphy

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: That does it for us, thanks very much for being with us tonight, we`ll see you again tomorrow, now it`s time for THE LAST WORD with Lawrence O`Donnell, good evening Lawrence. LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Thanks Rachel. MADDOW: Thanks. O`DONNELL: Complete chaos is what survivors are saying they experienced last night when that Amtrak train went off the rails in northeast Philadelphia. We now know who was driving that train, but we don`t know why he was going so fast. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our whole city is mourning. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The train disaster here in Philadelphia. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It went off the tracks, I know, we just rolled and rolled. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: While traveling through a left hand turn, the entire train derailed. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At least seven people were killed. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Including a young Navy midshipman on his way home. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was absolutely wonderful. Everybody looked up to my son. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More than 200 have been treated for injuries. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We were fortunate that there weren`t more deaths, things could have been a lot worse. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Eight people still in critical care. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the busiest rail travel corridor in the country. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With more than two thousand trains every day. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Train speed exceeded one hundred miles an hour prior to derailment. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More than twice the pollster`s speed limit. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We now know what happened, but we don`t know why it happened. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This section of track lacked a critical railroad safety feature. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those of us who were able to walk away from that, I know I`m very lucky. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People really responded in this neighborhood (INAUDIBLE) -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love. People do actually take that very seriously. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Tonight, Amtrak service between New York and Philadelphia remains suspended. Amtrak says limited service will be -- will resume tomorrow between Boston and New York and between Philadelphia and Washington. Investigators say they still do not know exactly what happened between the time that train left Philadelphia`s 30th street station last night and the time it crashed just 10 minutes later. "Nbc News" has confirmed the engineer driving that train last night was Brandon Bostian, someone who knows the engineer tells Msnbc that he is a cheerful guy and has always been a fan of railroads. The person who knows Brandon Bostian declined to be identified, but says he last saw Bostian two weeks ago and they talked about trains because they`re both fans. The person said, "the notion that he made it, so to speak, it is of no surprise to me -- made it driving trains". Bostian`s Facebook page says he is from Memphis, Tennessee, but now lives in New York City. The National Transportation Safety Board announced today that the train was traveling at double the speed limit when the crash occurred, killing seven people and injuring more than 200. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROBERT SUMWALT, BOARD MEMBER, NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD: Just moments before the derailment, the train was placed into engineer- induced braking, and this means that the engineer applied full emergency -- full emergency brake application. Maximum authorized speed through this curve was 50 miles per hour. When the engineer-induced brake application was applied, the train was traveling at approximately 106 miles per hour. Three seconds later, when the data to the recorder is terminated, the train speed was 102 miles per hour. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: The "Philadelphia Inquirer" reports that the engineer Mr. Bostian declined to give a statement to police investigators and left the detective`s division with an attorney. Joining us now, Msnbc`s Ayman Mohyeldin who is at the crash site, also joining us, Andrew Tangel of Washington, a "Wall Street Journal" reporter who was part of the team that first broke the story today about the train`s speed before the NTSB confirmed that. Ayman, what`s the situation at the crash site tonight? AYMAN MOHYELDIN, MSNBC: Well, investigators are still going through the timeline. That is a word we`re hearing over and over again, Lawrence, it is all about the timeline of what happened, when the train left the train station at 9:10 and ultimately derailed at around 9:21. And as a result of that, the NTSB today says that they have at least on- site here, returned the tracks to Amtrak, meaning they have at least concluded some part of their investigation here. But the investigation now is going to shift unto that timeline. What we do know from the NTSB as you mentioned, the train was going 106 miles per hour when it made that fatal turn. But more importantly, now the question surround the timeline of the engineer. What did the engineer do in the final minutes leading up to that turn or to that curve? And more importantly, they want to piece together more about the timeline of perhaps what he was doing over the course of the journey in itself. Now the investigation as well is going to be looking at some very important key pieces of evidence, including the event recorder or the black box of the -- of the train, so to speak. That has already been taken by the NTSB, it has gone to Amtrak in order for the data to be downloaded. Ultimately, will be taken to the NTSB lab in Washington D.C. There was also a forward facing camera on board that may give the investigators some important clues. Perhaps one piece of information that has surprised some. The NTSB has not yet spoken to the engineer of this train. They have not also interviewed members of the crew. They say they plan on doing that in the next day or two. They did not give any reason why the NTSB has not yet spoken to the engineer. But in terms of what is going on here, they wanted to make sure in terms of all of the perishable information, they got all of that information quickly. And among the things they`re going to be looking for, was the train operating at full capacity in the sense that there were no mechanical problems? Were there any problems with the signals en route? And more importantly, the actions of the engineer himself. All of those are going to be factors in the investigation according to the NTSB at this point, Lawrence. O`DONNELL: Andrew Tangel, according to the "Philadelphia Inquirer" report tonight with the engineer leaving the police without saying anything to them, leaving in the company of an attorney, this may already be a homicide investigation? ANDREW TANGEL, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Well, the fact that there wasn`t a statement given, only raises more questions at least in the public accounting. And raises more questions, deepens the mystery for all of us trying to figure out what happened. Because I think central to the story as he goes forward is us trying to get some understanding of what the engineer was doing in those final moments. What led him to drive the train at twice the speed it was supposed to be going at? Was there some explanation? Was there some other mechanical issue we don`t know about? At this point, it`s all unclear. More than a year ago, there was a fatal train wreck in the Bronx, New York, and it turned out that the explanation given by the engineer in that case was that there -- he dozed off due to severe undiagnosed sleep apnea. So there`re myriad potential explanations, but at this point, it`s one of the big mysteries strangling the case in the big question that is confronting the federal investigators on this. O`DONNELL: We`re joined now by John Goglia, a former NTSB board member and investigator. John, what`s your reaction to the information so far about no statement by the engineer, the engineer leaving the police in the company of a lawyer? JOHN GOGLIA, FORMER BOARD MEMBER, NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD: Well, it`s still -- you know, this is still a free country and he doesn`t have to give us a statement. But even if he had given us a statement, the NTSB has a set of procedures that we followed that would verify everything that he said. So we`re going to -- but you know, I`m sure the NTSB is going to look at the train performance. The locomotive, you know, makes so much power. They`re going to look to see what it took for that locomotive to get to be a 100 miles an hour, plus at that turn in 11 minutes. Did he have to go the full power when he left the station to accelerate it? I mean there`s lots of -- lots of detail work that is yet to be done, some of it probably hasn`t even started yet, you know -- O`DONNELL: And -- GOGLIA: In the -- it`s an electronic control to the train and electronic controls have chips. If there`re nonvolatile memory in the chips, they will have information on them. So there`s lots of tools available to the NTSB to determine just what happened in that 11 minutes. O`DONNELL: John Goglia, if there was an extraordinary amount of acceleration to get that train up to that speed in less than ten minutes, is that something that the passengers would have sensed? Would that have felt unusual? GOGLIA: Maybe, but, you know, it`s -- I`ve been on trains where if you`re not paying attention, you`re doing something else that you may not pick that up right away. So -- and you know, let`s not forget that this track that Amtrak has, has been rebuilt in the not-too-distant past to help with the high speed trains, so it`s all the trains. So there`s a good possibility that the bed was so well prepared that you wouldn`t have that rocking and rolling, so to speak. O`DONNELL: I want to listen to what NTSB member Robert Sumwalt said today about the train speed and about the safety options we have for controlling this. Let`s listen to this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SUMWALT: Amtrak route a good bit of the Northeastern Corridor, has a system called Advanced Civil Speed Enforcement that`s called ACSES. ACSES is installed throughout most of the Northeast Corridor for Amtrak. However, it is not installed for this area where the accident occurred, where the derailment occurred. That type of a system, we call it a Positive Train Control System. That type of system is designed to enforce the civil speed to keep the train below its maximum speed. And so we have called for positive train control for many years. It`s on our most wanted list. Congress has mandated that it be installed by the end of this year. So we are very keen on positive train control. Based on what we know right now, we feel that had such a system been installed in this section of track, this accident would not have occurred. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: John Goglia, what is taking so long on installing this system? GOGLIA: Well, you know, I worked a lot with the Federal Railroad Administration on positive train control in the -- in the late `90s. It is -- it is a system that has been evolving. It`s been actually improving. So what we were looking at in the `90s has changed considerably today because more and more of our control of our transportation systems is being done by computers. And so it changes the physical requirements on the train, however, it`s still expensive. And Amtrak has been struggling with funding for a long time and you know, it`s amazing that they -- we`re going to make the 15 deadline for the Northeast Corridor. There is -- there is a good portion of it that`s already done, unfortunately, this section of track has not -- O`DONNELL: We -- GOGLIA: Been completed. O`DONNELL: We -- I think we have a map ready that shows what part of the track has this safety feature in it. It`s basically Boston to New Haven, according to this map by the "New York Times". A small stretch in New Jersey has it and then from Baltimore down to Washington, it seems to have it. But it obviously wasn`t there where it was needed last night. We`re joined now by former U.S. Congressman Patrick Murphy who was on that train last night who joined me by phone from the scene describing in vivid detail what it was like to be in that train. Patrick, it`s just 24 hours ago that we started talking about this. And we`re learning now that the instruments indicate that the speed at the time of the crash was over a 100 miles an hour. When we talked last night, I asked you about the speed, your sense was that it hadn`t made it up to maximum speed yet, that it was still increasing and moving at a kind of normal speed at that point. What is your feeling about it now? PATRICK MURPHY, FORMER UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: Well, you know, as I said last night to you, Lawrence, I mean, I was fixing out my ear plugs and I was -- I was on my computer getting work done. So, I wasn`t paying attention, it didn`t seem out of place, but you know, it is what it is, that`s the evidence and that`s the fact. So, it`s just a tragedy and, you know, we can`t bring back those seven lives that were killed. You know, for me, it`s -- you know, what just happened is back there, I mean it was -- still pretty raw to be honest with you, Lawrence, so -- but it`s -- it was a sad day. And my heart goes out to not just those families, but also to the ones who have been injured. O`DONNELL: You know, Patrick, one of the things that struck me in talking to other victims of the crash last night, other people who were on that train with you, is when we talked about speed, no one felt anything unusual in the speed. They felt nothing unusual or threatening in the motions of the train until the crash was actually happening. There wasn`t any hint that there was any lack of control prior to the actual crash taking place. MURPHY: Yes, I know, and that`s what -- that`s what surprised I think all of us now. You know, in retrospect, the fact that, there -- you know, there`s a 50 miles zone, so there were more than doubled the speed than it was. You know, you just don`t pay attention when you`re on a train, it`s not like a plane that`s -- it`s not even like a car, I mean, it`s supposed to be the more safe and we don`t -- we don`t know all that. These accidents have happened and in more frequency, and there`s a lot more that needs to be done. O`DONNELL: And Patrick, I`d like to hear your thoughts and that you`ve -- in the last 24 hours about what kind of safety options we should have in these trains. A lot of talk about seatbelts, some people saying it wouldn`t make much difference. How would you have felt about having a seatbelt last night? MURPHY: Well, listen, a seatbelt would have helped me from flying across the train car, Lawrence, but I don`t think that`s a necessary step. But I think there is obviously some steps that, you know, the fact that we have, you know, the PTC, the positive train control, you know, from New York to Boston, but -- and then from Baltimore down to Washington. Well, we don`t have it here seems unjust. You know, we need it all over. I mean, it saves one life, Lawrence, that`s one life that`s definitely worth it. O`DONNELL: Absolutely, we`re going to take a break here, Andrew Tangel, John Goglia, Ayman Mohyeldin, thank you all for joining me, Patrick Murphy is going to stay with us. Coming up, surviving a train crash, what passengers need to know, Patrick Murphy is going to tell us what it felt like in that train. And later, the fight that broke out in Congress today over Amtrak funding and why Republicans objected to even mentioning the crash when discussing Amtrak funding. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rolling along nice and smooth, and all of a sudden, we were on our side, and it looked like we were going to flip, we never flipped, we went onto the side and back off to the side and then we can`t go home. (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I started hearing people, I was on the side, and someone told me I had been delirious and that they had carried me off. At the shoes -- my shoes are not my shoes, somewhere I lost my shoes and a lady gave me her shoes. (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: You are looking at images of the repair and removal process of those -- removal of the debris and the trunks from those tracks in northeast Philadelphia. Tonight, the work goes on obviously around the clock, cranes brought in to start pulling things out. At the beginning of every airline flight, you hear safety instructions from the cabin crew which by now many of you have memorized. But on passenger trains in the United States, you don`t hear a word about safety. Here is "Nbc`s" Jeff Rossen with what you need to know to survive a train accident. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JEFF ROSSEN, NBC NEWS: Officials in Philadelphia trying to figure out what went wrong. Combing over the twisted wreckage from this latest accident. Passengers killed, dozens of others rushed to hospitals when this Amtrak train derailed and flipped over, photos inside capturing the chaos, the smoke, the terror. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We just rolled and rolled, the next thing I knew we were pushing out the emergency exit. I was outside and there were people screaming and bleeding. ROSSEN: And train accidents are in the news happening across the country. Just months ago in February, this deadly Metro North crash in New York; six killed, more than a dozen hurt when the train slammed into an SUV on the tracks and exploded. Check out this dramatic video from inside a train crash just outside Orlando. It demolished the new sports coupe. The car stalled on a railroad crossing just before the gates came down. The driver got out with seconds to spare. And in Glendale, California, an SUV stuck on the tracks caused this commuter train to derail, hitting trains on both sides of it, killing 11 people. According to the Federal Railroad Administration, more than 230 people were killed in nearly 2,100 collisions nationwide last year alone. In this latest crash in Philadelphia, the stories and the videos emerging, desperate passengers struggling to escape -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keep calling OK? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who am I calling? ROSSEN: Yelling in the dark for help, frantically trying to pry open the doors. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go -- UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who, me? ROSSEN: If this were your train, would you know how to get out? SCOTT SAUER, SAFETY EXPERT, SOUTHEASTERN PENNSYLVANIA TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY: So, in an emergency, there are three ways to get out. ROSSEN: Scott Sauer is the safety expert for SEPTA; Philadelphia`s regional rail service. SAUER: Every train in the country has emergency signs, and then if you see the sign, you can even open the main door of the train that you came in on -- UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow -- SAUER: And just follow those instructions. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So even if the conductor or the engineer are too busy or chaotic to open the door, you can open it yourself. SAUER: Absolutely. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I try it? SAUER: Yes. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, so just lift and pull open the ring, and then push this red handle down, and the door is released. And I can open it the rest of the way. And by the way, this is a pretty big drop here, so you want to be careful getting out. ROSSEN: Overnight, reports of passengers on that Amtrak train trying to open the windows to escape. Here is how you do it. SAUER: In every train car, there is emergency exit windows. You`re going to take the handle, you`re going to pull it, you`re going to pull all the rubber from around that window, discard it. You`re going to grab the handle, you`re going to pull the window towards you and then you can go out the window. But remember, it`s still a seven to eight-foot drop to the ground, so you have to be aware of that. ROSSEN: In most train crashes, there is fire and smoke. So, how do you get out alive when you can`t even see? Recently, we filled this car with simulated smoke to show you. SAUER: It`s going to be chaotic. You want to get on the floor, this is where you can breathe. Want to get down here and you want to follow the striping on the floor. We have glow in the dark striping on the floor, it`s going to take you where you need to go. You want to get to the door, you want to get to the end of the car where your exit is. (END VIDEOTAPE) O`DONNELL: Patrick Murphy, like you, I have been riding those Amtrak trains all my life, I had no idea that there was evacuation diagram anywhere on the train. I`ve never noticed it, I`ve never noticed that striping on the floor that we`re talking -- that we just learned about. Those windows that open that way, I`ve never known any of that until I just saw it. MURPHY: Yes, there`s no doubt, we should learn from the airline industry which -- and which you`re best likely to survive by the way and use that and really, the railway industry. Because lessons aren`t -- and you saw that panic last night on that train on 188 where people, you know, in some instances up -- unfortunately where every man for himself. O`DONNELL: And Patrick, having been through it last night, have you had any thoughts about what you wish was on that train, what might have been more helpful in a situation like that? MURPHY: Not really, Lawrence. I mean, I haven`t been -- as thoughtful about it, because I have -- I have just been trying to soak up the family and I was coaching my son`s hockey team earlier this evening. Thinking about if I win for Jack Murphy. But like -- that`s you know -- because that`s what -- I`ve just -- that`s my -- that`s my life, it`s my family. And -- O`DONNELL: Yes -- MURPHY: So, to be honest with you, so -- but the lesson learned, you know, last night -- you know, yes, listen, if -- it was more clear, you know, where things were, what we could have done. But at the end of the day, when we were on its side, you know, I knew -- I saw the emergency exit windows and the ceiling, you know, I climbed up, I got it off and then helped people get through it. But, you know -- but like any situation, you know, we were all pretty banged up, but you just got to -- you know -- you got to get through it and you got to be there and you got to be a team player and you got to help people. And it can`t be every man for himself, you got to do it as a team, otherwise, you`ll all perish. O`DONNELL: John Goglia, does NTSB have any recommendations for train safety that you think should be incorporated that would help guide people after these kinds of crashes? GOGLIA: Well, you know what really has to happen here? Is that we have to stop treating rail cars the way we treat airplane interiors. We have standards for airplanes, for seats, for seatbelts, for what`s on the floor. Emergency lighting. One of the things that the Congressman had just mentioned about the darkness and the inability to see. On air planes, we have battery-powered lights and emergencies that come on. We have long treated the inside of the airplane as a system. So it`s not just adding a seatbelt, it`s adding the proper materials, proper seat construction, keeping them secured to the floor, but having them not so stiff that if you get slammed into them, you don`t break bones or split your head open. So there`s a lot of things that have been done on airplanes over the last 50 years that the rail industry and the rail car industry could profit from by using that system inside. And I hope beyond all hope that this accident will drive that discussion finally, that it will put those issues on the table so that we can address them. O`DONNELL: Patrick Murphy and John Goglia, thank you very much for joining us tonight. MURPHY: Thanks, Lawrence. GOGLIA: Thank you. O`DONNELL: We just -- we have this from "Wcau", the "Nbc" affiliate in Philadelphia. Philadelphia police east detectives, SIU, confirmed that Brandon Bostian, the engineer of that train handed over his cell phone to east detectives and gave a blood sample. He interviewed earlier today and is expected to conduct another interview in the future. Lieutenant Stanford with the Philadelphia police says that no one has been named as a suspect in the crash at this point. Coming up, more from the survivors of that crash. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: We have breaking news in the investigation of the Amtrak train crash in Philadelphia. WCAU, the NBC affiliate in Philadelphia, is reporting that Philadelphia Police East detectives confirmed that Brandon Bastion, the -- handed over, he was the engineer of the train, that he handed over his cell phone to East detectives and gave a blood sample. He interviewed earlier today and is expected to conduct another interview in the future. That`s from WCAU TV in Philadelphia. Lieutenant Stanford with the Philadelphia Police says that no one has been named as a suspect in the crash at this point. That report is somewhat in conflict with an earlier report tonight from the "Philadelphia Inquirer" saying that the engineer of that train, Brandon Bastion, declined to give a statement to police investigators and left the East Detectives Division with an attorney. We`re joined now by MSNBC`s Joy Reid who is outside Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia. Joy, the attention now very sharply on the engineer, especially after learning today that according to the instruments the train was going double the speed limit in that zone, going over 100 miles an hour, when it should have been doing a maximum of 50. The -- there seems to be some amount of leaking coming out of the police department of what`s going on there, but we`ve got some contrary reports on it tonight. JOY REID, MSNBC NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely. And some of the confusion earlier, Lawrence, came because there was a press conference that the mayor -- that Mayor Nutter gave earlier in which he may have mixed up the engineer versus the conductor. And I think there was some confusion even among the reports, there were earlier reports that even appeared in the (INAUDIBLE) newspaper, saying that the engineer, Mr. Bastion, had not spoken with authorities. That was cleared up somewhat when Mayor Nutter said that he may have spoke with authorities just to say, I would to speak with an attorney which, of course, is his right. And of course as you said a lot of the attention is now on the speed at which the train took that turn. We did also hear earlier today from authorities that it does appear that at some level, at least, the engineer applied the emergency brake. It didn`t do much. It didn`t slow the train down very much, but that the brake was applied. And I think, as you said, there`s going to be a lot of scrutiny now on what the engineer did as he came into that turn. O`DONNELL: Well, certainly if the WCAU report is correct, that he has given a blood sample, we`ll know everything about what was in his system, if anything, and that indication about the brake being applied certainly indicates he was alert enough at that moment to do that. So he was at that point certainly in control, trying to be in control of the train. Joy, you`re at the hospital there which is one of the trauma centers that was flooded last night. How did the hospitals there divide this massive number of people who were coming their way? Who was directing the ambulance traffic? REID: Yes. Absolutely. There were triage units that were actually at the crash site that directed patients to each of five different area hospitals, including Temple University Hospital, which is actually a level one trauma unit. So they actually got the largest overall number of patients and some of the most severe patients so essentially a triage units that were on-site at the crash decided where people should go based on the expertise of the various hospitals and based on the severity of the injuries. So as Dr. Herbert Cushing, who is the chief medical officer here, said earlier in a couple of press availabilities, it`s somewhat luck of the draw, somewhat based on what hospitals were capable of doing in the moment. Some of the most severe cases did come here, including one of the fatalities, the 49-year-old gentleman from New Jersey, who unfortunately did pass away of a massive chest wound. And what Dr. Curbing was saying was that they were seeing a lot of chest wounds. A lot of obviously broken bones and lacerations. But most of the injuries were, as he said, what you would see in a high speed car crash. And it`s interesting now that the attention is being turned to things like the engineer`s cell phone because as you know in, you know, incidents like a car crash, that`s what you look at. You look at things like what alcohol level, you look at things like, was the person paying attention to a phone. I think that`s part of why that cell phone is important. Because the injuries that we`re seeing here were akin to a high speed crash. One other interesting note that Dr. Cushing made earlier, Lawrence, is that what they also saw when they came -- when people came here to Temple were a lot of John and Jane Does because, as you can imagine, in the moment, people weren`t exactly having time to grab their bag, their purse, their identification. A lot of people came here without I.D., without being able to be identified until they could reach family and friends. And a lot of people without their medical cards, a lot of people without the obvious ability to pay for their care. So there`s been a lot of interaction with Amtrak officials who`ve been and trying to just put names to the people that were here and make sure that they could get treated. O`DONNELL: Joy, I just want to add one fact to this reporting conflict that`s developing tonight over exactly what the engineer said or didn`t say to the police. In the original report of the "Philadelphia Inquirer," they`re actually citing Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey in their report. They`re saying that the engineer declined to give a statement to police investigators and he left the detectives with an attorney. Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said. So that`s directly attributed to the police commissioner. We don`t have specific sourcing on the other report indicating that he was interviewed, and they expect to interview him again, that he handed over his cell phone and a blood sample. We`re not sure what the sourcing is on that. But we`re going to be following that. Joy Reid, thank you very much for that report from the hospital. Thanks for joining us, Joy. REID: Thanks, Lawrence. O`DONNELL: Coming up, the day after the crash, today, House Republicans voted to cut Amtrak`s budget. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: Last night`s Amtrak crash occurred the night before the House Appropriations Committee had a vote scheduled on Amtrak funding. When the vote was called this afternoon on a party line vote, the Republican majority voted to cut Amtrak`s budget by one-fifth. Before the vote, Republicans said it was unfair to even mention the crash in relation to Amtrak funding after Congressman Steve Israel said that budget cuts have a direct impact on safety. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. STEVE ISRAEL (D), APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE: Last night, we failed them. We failed to invest in their safety. We failed to make their safety a priority. I was disappointed to hear my colleague from New York a few minutes ago. Talk about the tragedy that occurred with Amtrak and suggest that because we had not funded this properly, that that`s what caused the accident. When you have no idea, no idea, what caused this accident. The fact of the matter is that there have been more and more accidents, increased levels of danger, bridges failing, train accidents, longer delays at airports as a direct result of our divestments from infrastructure. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: It was just a few hours after that that Robert Sumwalt of the NTSB said this in Philadelphia. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROBERT SUMWALT, NTSB BOARD MEMBER: We are very keen on positive train control. Based on what we know right now, we feel that had such a system been installed in this section of track, this accident would not have occurred. (END VIDEO CLIP) O`DONNELL: Joining us now, Ezra Klein, editor-in-chief of vox.com, and Robert Pottroff, an attorney who specializes in railroad safety. Ezra, in the House of Representatives today, it was considered off base to even refer to this accident in funding Amtrak. EZRA KLEIN, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, VOX.COM: Yes, it is not something Republicans wanted to hear on the floor today. Look, I mean, to their point, their vote was scheduled for a long time. They have long been planning to cut Amtrak`s funding. They plan to cut Amtrak`s funding every single year and you can`t draw a straight line between a cut that hadn`t happened yet and the disaster we saw the other night. What you can say, though, is that we have systemically done a terrible job funding not just Amtrak, but American infrastructure more probably. Amtrak in particular you have incredibly strong ridership on that Northeastern Corridor. But because we have not figured out what we want that train system to be, we actually take the money from Northeastern Corridor and use it to subsidize Amtrak and the rest of the country and then Congress gets furious at Amtrak because it doesn`t make any money. And then it cuts its funding even further because it`s apparently not delivering on its goals. You can have a world class rail system and you can have world class infrastructure, but you have to pay for it. And right now not only are we not paying for it, but as you see, with the continuous inability to pass a surface transportation bill of any length at all, we haven`t even figured a process by which we can rationally do infrastructure planning in the long run. So it`s not just about Amtrak but this was one of the worst examples of where our insufficient rail system hurt us and it created a tragedy. But it`s a broader lack of investment and also just lack of general planning around American infrastructure in general. O`DONNELL: Robert Pottroff, do you agree with the NTSB that if we had positive train control on that section of track this probably wouldn`t have happened? ROBERT POTTROFF, EXPERT ON RAIL SAFETY: Absolutely. Positive train control has been on the NTSB`s most wanted list for about 45 years. Positive train control would have stopped this accident. But there`s so many other simple things, like just having two crew members in the cab of that locomotive that could have had the same result. O`DONNELL: Yes. And that, Robert, is obviously a budget item. You know, when I hear the discussion of Amtrak funding, it seems to me pretty much everything other than, you know, funding involving the ticketing system is a matter of safety. And even tonight, we`re recognizing that in the ticketing system, we need a kind of clarity that really does tell us exactly who was on that train so we know when to stop searching for survivors. So in the Amtrak funding, I think it`s extremely difficult to find an area of the funding where you can clearly identify as having nothing to do with safety. POTTROFF: It is -- it`s beyond logic to understand why freight railroads that haul just freight have an engineer and a conductor with two sets of eyes on the track and two sets of eyes on all the signal that are there to prevent these types of accidents. And for some reason, the passenger lines like Amtrak are allowed to have just an engineer. You`re putting one person on an island and expecting perfect behavior out of that person and that`s your safety system. Without a backup that`s mechanical based upon the technology of positive train control or at least another set of eyes, you can predict these accidents. This is exactly the same thing that happened in Chatsworth, California, back in 2006, September. One person stuck on an island, required to behave perfectly and any mistake is fatal for everybody on that train. O`DONNELL: And what was the mistake that the engineer made in that case? POTTROFF: In that case, he simply missed a signal because he was texting on his phone. We immediately kicked into action and got legislation that would outlaw texting on your phone but we don`t know what Mr. Bastion was doing in this case. What we do know is that he was there alone, he was running on a track that was -- had an internal speed limit of 75 -- or 70 miles per hour. But the truth is, the class one railroads, which would include Amtrak, have always taken the position that they don`t have to follow their own internal speed limit. The track speed limits there are as high as 110 to 125 miles an hour before you get to that curve. So what that engineer was doing is part of his training. And the cab signals that had to go off when he went by the indicator had to have been turned off for this train to keep moving. O`DONNELL: The -- (CROSSTALK) POTTROFF: The train has -- O`DONNELL: Explain that, Mr. Pottroff. Explain that. What are the cab signals you`re talking about? POTTROFF: Every train has cab signals. They`re not unlike the signal in your car when you forget to buckle your seatbelt. There`ll be an alarm that goes off, a light that flashes and a buzzer. The difference is on a train, if you don`t address the problem that set off the alarm, and in this case the alarm would be an overspeed alarm. If you don`t address it within X amount of seconds the train will stop itself. That`s the way it`s designed to work. Now there`s another thing that`s designed into that same system that nobody has talked about. The FRA has not talked about, the NTSB has not talked about. And Amtrak has not talked about. They equip these trains with an override switch where you could turn off the cab signals. That had to be what happened in this case. That the engineer -- and it`s a common practice when there`s a problem that they don`t want to be bothered by the cab signals, has another toggle switch available to them. They simply pull out the little seal that protects that toggle switch, turn it off. And you`re not bothered by any of these signals that were there to warn you. O`DONNELL: So this is as if your car, which has that alarm, the bell signal or something that tells you, someone doesn`t have a seatbelt fasten, it`s as if in your car you had a switch where you could just turn that off. POTTROFF: Right. Plus the added component in your car but it didn`t buckle your seatbelt within a few second it`d stopped. Until you buckled your seatbelt, you couldn`t move further. And -- (CROSSTALK) O`DONNELL: Robert -- Mr. Pottroff, I have to ask you. I`m stunned that I`m learning this 24 hours after the fact of this crash. I`ve been watching all the coverage, I`ve been reading everything I can. I haven`t heard the NTSB mentioned this. I`ve heard no investigator mentioned this, that there is actually an automatic shutoff system in the train for excessive speed. It is there. Not one word that I`m aware of has been said publicly by the investigators about that yet. POTTROFF: That`s why I wanted so badly to come on here and talk about this. Up that track, a half a mile to a mile away is a wayside signal. And it`s just a little transmitter that tells that train if it`s going too fast, the overspeed alarm goes off. If the alarm is not addressed then the train shuts down on its own. Unless someone has hit the override. And those overrides will be used in times where you have to make up speed, they`ll be used in times where equipment is malfunctioning. O`DONNELL: Well, let me -- Mr. Pottroff, let me stop you right there for a second. This train had already been delayed. So this was a train with an incentive to make up speed. POTTROFF: Well, I didn`t know that information until right now. That makes total sense. There should be an immediate investigation into the dispatch logs. All of those phone calls and radio transmissions have to be recorded. That will tell you whether or not people higher up in Amtrak knew that there was someone trying to make up speed. (CROSSTALK) O`DONNELL: When do you expect to hear that kind of information revealed? POTTROFF: Unfortunately, I`ve been a party to too many NTSB reports with the FRA. The relationship of the FRA and the Class One Railroads is too close. You can`t expect the fox and the guard dog to give a fair explanation as to what happened to all the chickens in the chicken coop. There`s been volumes written about this relationship and the failure of these investigations to get to the root causes. And the root cause here is if you take away the automated safety devices and you take away the backup human being, you`re asking for these accidents. And they will continue to happen. O`DONNELL: Robert Pottroff, thank you very much for that. I think we just learned more about what`s possible in these trains than anything of our previous coverage in the last 24 hours. Thank you very much for that. Ezra Klein, thanks for joining us, too. We`re going to take a break here. We`ll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just we were sitting there and then it just -- you saw it go like that. You could feel it off the track and then we just rolled and rolled. And the next thing I knew, we were pushing out the emergency exit. And I was outside and there were people screaming and bleeding and we helped them out. And they`re OK now. (END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK) O`DONNELL: You`re looking at live images in Philadelphia where crews are working to clear the wreckage of Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188. We`re joined now by a survivor from yesterday`s Amtrak crash, Paul Chung, he`s the director of Interactive and Digital News for the Associated Press. Paul, thanks for joining us again tonight. You got on the phone with us last night. It was very helpful to understand what was going on. When you look at the train wreckage today, can you figure out which car you were on? PAUL CHUNG, DIRECTOR OF INTERACTIVE AND DIGITAL NEWS, ASSOCIATED PRESS: As a matter of fact, yes, I was the third car to the end. You know, last night when, you know, I`m just minding my own business and suddenly it`s like someone had just slammed on a brake, a hard brake, and the car come to a halt. The whole car started shaking around. Everything went dark. People were, you know, screaming and panicking and I was like, whoa, what`s going on here? And suddenly when it stopped, I noticed that, you know, again, it was extremely dark and people just trying to gather their stuff, you know, and suddenly I heard a voice, you know, behind me saying that you need to get out now. Get out from the back. And, again, all of us who were nearby me, we`re just trying to gather our things, backpacks, cell phones being the most important, a lot of people were just looking for their cell phones so they could contact their family and loved ones. By that time, we starts smelling smoke in our car and that`s when I knew I really had to leave that car. So when I jumped out, that`s when I got a -- you know, a panoramic view of how bad the damage was. You know, from where I was standing, it just happened in a quick flash. You don`t really know was going on. You know, it`s almost like you`re in a movie, you know, that really fast, at the same time, in a slow moment when your body just kind of moves with the momentum of the cart. As we left the car, it was just -- again, it was a very surreal scene that I`m seeing that. You know, I`m seeing cars that`s flipped to the side, I`m seeing passengers try to climb out from the window. I see wreckage just everywhere as if, you know, someone had just tear the cars apart and mangle it into a giant metal ball. And you see chairs everywhere and you see some people helping other folks to get out the debris and a lot of people just walking around confused and shocked. O`DONNELL: And, Paul, we`ve been showing some of the pictures that you took last night. The big question of the day is that sensation of speed. I talked to survivors of the crash last night and no one said anything about it felt like it was going at a very high rate of speed. Most everyone felt it was at a normal speed. When you hear today that the instruments indicate that it was over 100 miles an hour, was that surprising to you? CHUNG: It was surprising to me. Again, I think, you know, I wasn`t paying attention. It seems normal. It seems -- you know, as they`re going for some kind of curve. You feel the natural vibration of the car. And suddenly, bam, everything kind of happened. O`DONNELL: And were you injured at all, Paul? CHUNG: I was one of the really lucky ones that I didn`t really -- you know, just a few scrapes and a bruised knee. O`DONNELL: And how long did it take for you to realize after the fact that you were OK, that everything was working, your arms, your legs, your hands, your feet? CHUNG: I would say immediately. As soon as it stopped, you know, the first action is, you know, I turned on the flashlight in my cell phone, just asking people, are you guys OK? And some people say I need to find my phone and just kind of figuring out where am I in the car? Because I can`t really see anything in front of me. All I could see was the back door. O`DONNELL: Paul Chung, thank you for sharing your story with us. Thank you for helping us out with this coverage. Thanks very much. CHUNG: Thank you. O`DONNELL: Chris Hayes is up next. END